Archive for August, 2010


Darwyn Cooke on Cape Comix

August 31st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I’m still working out my thoughts on this (off the cuff, minute long, at a convention) interview, but I think he makes some interesting points, the sort of things I’d like to see discussed in a long interview.

A few points:
-I think the comment about 45 year old dudes is pretty apt. The realism that comics companies are producing in pursuit of that audience, and I didn’t put realism in scare quotes but I probably should have, is pretty foul. Superhero books don’t do well when you add realism into the mix unless you have the deftest of touches. Doing Politically Pointed Comics with superheroes tends to be loud, dumb, and garish, if not outright disrespectful. Stories about lynchings and gay bashing and whatever else tend to look absolutely ridiculous once some douchebag in tights shows up to save the day. Suspension of disbelief snaps when you introduce a certain level of injustice into the mix. Bank robberies? Sure, we can live with that. Dragging somebody behind a truck until his eyeballs pop out of his skull? I can’t wait to see what JMS is going to do with that in a later issue of Superman!

-Related: if you’re gonna do a superhero comic about the Holocaust… don’t. If you do it anyway… that comic better be better than the Second Coming.

-I think it’s easy to expand Cooke’s comments into being “All comics should be for kids!” That’s not what he’s saying, though, is it? There’s a difference between “for kids” and “appropriate for kids.” There’s nothing in, say, Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto or like, Jeff Parker’s Atlas that makes it for kids, but I’d argue that those books are appropriate for kids. I think that’s what Cooke is talking about–toning down the gross stuff that no one likes anyway except as a sign of superhero decadence and getting back to telling straight up stories. Agree/disagree?

-I think there’s a place for sex and violence in cape comix. Zodiac was a great read and it was super sleazy. I thought that story in Amazing Spider-Man where the Lizard ate a kid was great. But, isn’t that a little creepy? Maybe Spider-Man is a bad example, since he was a hit with college kids and all, but something like Superman or Batman, something that has a tremendous number of children who count themselves as fans… should the main stuff be the kid appropriate books? The ones that are just a little edgy, just adult enough to be interesting, but not so adult that they get all the roving rape gangs and severed heads? Should the side books, the miniseries and all, be the grown up stuff?

More thoughts later, maybe. I honestly have a lot of contradictory feelings about where comics should go (more war comics! more crime comics! stop making new versions of old characters! more black characters! stop making crap black characters!) and I’m sure some of what I think doesn’t even make sense.

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Fourcast! 59: Fortnight in Review

August 30th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Two Weeks of Comics!
-Several minutes of reviews!
-Esther read stuff like Tiny Titans, Superman/Batman, Action Comics, and Dark Wolverine.
-David hasn’t been to a comic shop in a couple weeks, so aside from New Mutants, he’s been reading regular books.
-Books like Peepo Choo, Chi’s Sweet Home, Lobster Johnson
Here’s what Chris Butcher said about Chi’s that finally got me to buy it.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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This Week in Panels: Weeks 48 and 49

August 29th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Due to extenuating circumstances, I wasn’t able to do ThWiP last week, so it’s been accumulated into this week’s update. For last week’s picks, I’m disappointed in David for choosing that specific Avengers Academy panel when the true honors should have gone to Reptil asking a disgruntled Cain Marko if he can say, “Nothing can stop the Juggernaut!” for his amusement. Was Taters rejoins the show once again, unable to choose between panels for Superman/Batman, so we went with both.

Warning: there is something really fucked up going on with Hal Jordan’s hands in the Legacies image and you won’t be able to stop yourself from staring at it.

Action Comics #892
Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Pere Perez, Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo

Age of Heroes #4
Elliott Kalan, Brendan McCarthy and others

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Previously, in the Future

August 27th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

One minor thing in comics I’ve been digging in the past couple years is the “This Year in _____” pages that come out of the first issue. We haven’t had too many of them, but they’re pretty memorable when we do get them. For instance, Batman and Robin #1 featured a final page that depicted such things as Damian leaving in a huff to work on his own, Red Hood with a new sidekick, Batman and Batwoman fighting it out while Bruce Wayne Batman rises from the Lazarus Pit and a foreboding image of Doctor Hurt holding up the keys to Wayne Manor. All of these happened, as should be expected.

It’s probably one of the coolest concepts Geoff Johns has brought to the table in recent years and I say that knowing full well about his space cat that pukes acid blood powered by hate. When you start out a new series, it’s tough as is. Even if you have big plans several issues down the line, you have to win over the reader with both the first story and – more importantly – the contents of the first issue. This is more of a pitfall of Marvel, as their series tend to get cut to pieces by the fifth or sixth issue. Sorry, Jeff Parker. I think the teaser pages could really help some comics succeed in the long run. DC gave Magog a full twelve issues before finally cancelling it. It wouldn’t have hurt to get Giffen’s opinion on four developments planned that could have been exciting enough to bring up. Like a panel of Magog… uh… teaming up with the Shield? And the time he… um… Wait, I got this one. When he… Did I mention the Shield team-up? Okay, as much as I liked the series, maybe Magog isn’t the best example, but you know what I mean.

As far as I know, there have been four instances of the teaser pages, but feel free to correct me. There’s the aforementioned Batman and Robin #1 as well as Justice Society of America #1. I don’t read JSA, so I’m not going to talk about it in-depth, but I’ll touch on a little something later. The other two come from the same book, Booster Gold. Now that it’s moved to its latest creative team, I think now’s as safe a time as any to look back at what we were promised by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz. Here we go, looking at the past about the future that’s become the past about a new future of a character from the past who came from the future. Sorry, what were we talking about?

This page comes from the end of Booster Gold #1.

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Pretty Girls: Kenichi Sonoda

August 27th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Kenichi Sonoda: Wiki, imdb, a pretty good summary of his career, and an impossibly ancient shrine
Books: Gunsmith Cats, Gunsmith Cats: Burst
Why? The thing about cheesecake is that there’s exactly two types. There’s the trite, ugly, boring, unattractive, and lame stuff–your Ed Beneses, Zenescopers, and the like. They take a by the numbers approach to sexiness that actually saps any sexiness from the image. Two Boobs + Two Butt Cheeks+ Flimsy Thong Plus Arched Back = Any Given Issue of Birds of Prey. The other kind, the stuff that comes from your Frank Chos, Adam Hughes, Amanda Conners, and Adam Warrens, has a certain care and spontaneity that the other stuff doesn’t. The difference is that the latter group actually cares about what they’re doing. That care led to them really pushing and getting good at what they do.

I’d put Kenichi Sonoda in the latter group. He has his quirks/fetishes/interests (they are guns, cars, girls, and girls who wear pantyhose, in that order), he has his downsides (the occasional flagrant panty shot, prizing sexiness over sensibility, Minnie May), and he is absolutely technically proficient, but what raises him above artists like Benes is that he’s clearly put a tremendous amount of thought into what he’s doing. His style is probably exactly what you think of when someone says anime or manga (big eyes, small mouth, big boobs, small waists), but he’s not as generic as he might seem at first glance. He’s got a great grasp of body language (ks-sleepy.jpg, look at her slump!), he can actually work facial expressions (look at that saleslady in ks-asteal.jpg and tell me you can’t see the “cha-ching!” in her face), and the women wear actual, if occasional impractical, clothes (Rally in ks-copkilla.jpg, for example). He’s not just an artist drawing empty T&A. He’s making an effort to make his characters real. He’s drawing typical cute stuff, but with just a little more talent and care than you’d expect.

An aside: Gunsmith Cats is really, really good stuff, but Minnie May, and what she represents, makes me real uncomfortable. Without her, it’s a rocking manga about girls, guns, and fast cards. With her, well… you’re gonna get some funny looks if you read this funnybook in public. (no pedo)

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And I hath returned

August 25th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Computer’s back, I’m rested and I’m ready to go back to writing.

Since I’ve been internetually neutered for the past several days, here are things I’ve spent my spare time on:

– Watched the first half of Season 4 of the Wire. God, what a show. I really need to finish it over the next week.
– Started on Hickman’s Fantastic Four already. Key word is started. I read the Dark Reign miniseries. That’s something, at least.
– Read all of Scott Pilgrim, saw the movie and downloaded the game for Xbox. Fun shit all around.
– Read through the trade Dark Reign: The Underside, which features Lethal Legion, Zodiac, Mr. Negative and the one-shot Made Men. I remember initially picking it up because I heard some good things about Joe Casey’s Zodiac and it was definitely an interesting read. It gave me a notion that I ran through Twitter that got two reactions. cyberpilate retweeted it, which I take as an endorsement. It basically made Chad Nevett vomit a little in his mouth, which I take as the opposite of an endorsement. I figure it’s worth mentioning here at the very least.

So Zodiac is about Zodiac, who at this point can best be described as Marvel’s attempt at a Joker. While we do see his rather normal-looking face under his black hood, we know absolutely nothing about his background. He’s a murderous nutjob who loves him some chaos and revels in everything criminal. He’s violent, charismatic and one step ahead of everyone. With Osborn in charge of everything, Zodiac takes offense and uses his resources to strike against him. He comes out of the story completely unscathed and undiscovered, which works because as long as Osborn is the antagonist, you can still accept Zodiac as a twisted protagonist.

But what now? He just appeared in a two-page scene in Age of Heroes for no reason but to remind everyone that he’s still a concept in hopes that he doesn’t fade into obscurity. He makes mention that he’s going to challenge the Heroic Age, but is that really going to work? Can his stories work in the same ballpark when he’s after someone like Steve Rogers? I get the bad feeling that he’d go in the direction of Prometheus. He’d be worth one good storyline, then get nerfed and gummed up by every other writer.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve had about Deadpool for the past few years has been that he has no rogues. T-Ray has become worthless. Ajax existed to be killed. Black Swan was more of a plot device for the sake of giving us Agent X. Everyone else he fights is either borrowed from another hero or is going to be dead by the end of the story arc. The latest issue of his core series seems to be building towards giving him some kind of big bad (possibly the man responsible for his cancer), but who knows how that’ll turn out.

What I’m trying to say here is that Deadpool vs. Zodiac should be a thing. They should be archenemies. I think there’s a lot of potential in that pairing. Deadpool is a middle-of-the-road guy who doesn’t know whether he should be acting heroically or killing the person next to him at any given moment. Zodiac is ultimately Deadpool without any redeeming human qualities. In comparison, he makes Wade look like Spider-Man. It’s Venom/Carnage, but with mind games attached. Deadpool does heroic stuff on the down-low all the time and never gets recognized for it. Zodiac does horrific stuff on the down-low and goes out of his way not to be recognized for it. They could do a whole series of stories clashing against each other without the larger Marvel Universe having any idea what kind of secret w– …set of battles is going on. All while Zodiac tries to get Deadpool on his payroll.

A good villain is someone who could make the hero examine himself more clearly and in this case, this is what Zodiac could be made for.

What do you guys think?

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What is a cliffhanger.

August 25th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

A little while ago, I posted an entry about my decision to temporarily drop the Birds of Prey comic, due to a cliffhanger plot element.  Last month, after an epic separation of one issue, I jumped right back on board, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next issue due to a different cliffhanger.  At scans_daily, and in conversations with other comics people, I noticed that many people felt the same.

Tastes differ, and what makes me sit up and take notice of a comic is going to make another person throw it across the room.  But the conversations got me thinking about how cliffhangers work, and what separates the good from the bad.

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Pretty Girls: Sara Pichelli

August 25th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Sara Pichelli: Twitter (defunct), blog, black and white art
Books: Runaways: Homeschooling, X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back
Why? Pichelli is an Italian artist who recently blew up in America with a number of Marvel series, usually with Kathryn Immonen (another person who deserves to be a superstar). While her Marvel books tend to feature teen characters, something she’s pretty good at to be fair, but she’s also good at drawing adults. If I had to pick two things that make her great, I’d say it’s her attention to hair, something mainstream comics artists generally render as a big block of ugly, and the way she nails body language. Look at Poison Ivy’s hair in any of the drawings, particularly the Cruella de Vil buns, Emma Frost’s tangle of hair, or Zatanna’s tangles. For body language, look at Batman’s open mouth and Poison Ivy’s arched back in sp-bat-ivy.jpg, the relaxed but sad look in sp-sunday02.jpg, everything in sp-womandriving02.jpg (someone please get Pichelli to draw a crime comic), and the hands wrapped around the man’s head in sp-fuck.jpg.

Streetwear Snow White is great, too. I’d read a whole book about that.

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Pretty Girls: Cameron Stewart

August 22nd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Before we get into the proceedings this evening: I was poking around on the internet once a couple weeks back, maybe the first weekend after San Diego Comic-con 2010, and saw something terrible. It was a drawing of a topless woman, legs spread, sitting in a, what, a meat locker? A restaurant? I don’t know, but everything around her was filled with poked out eyeballs, severed heads, butchered bodies, and entrails. The woman in question was rendered like a copy of a copy of a copy of Jim Lee’s sexier ladies. Simply put: it was gross on several levels, and it was supposed to advertise a comic book. I’m all for liking whatever you like, man, but the way this juxtaposed creepy sex and lazy gore just really got under my skin. I’m as interested in the way that sex and death interact and coexist as any other English major, but c’mon. Consider this series a bit of counter-programming. There are several artists who are crazy talented at drawing women, and I want to show off some of my favorites or ones who are particularly good at one aspect. I’ll be doing a few this week, and I think it’ll be weekly beyond that.

And if you like that other stuff… more power to you, man. Whatever floats your Flying Dutchman staffed with half-naked zombie girls, you know? You’re still gross, though, B. Sorry.

Cameron Stewart: Twitter, blog, Comic Art Community gallery, webcomic
Books: Apocalipstix, Batman and Robin 2: Batman vs. Robin
Why? Stewart’s style is one that appeals to me in part because he knows how to pay attention to the little details and has a good sense of comedy. I love the cover to Catwoman 20 because of the way that Holly’s lip is being pulled by the back of her hand. The real boots on cs-Robinchair.jpg are fantastic. The relaxed posture in cs-girlfridays7.jpg is great. The cliche says that every picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s clear that Stewart’s girls have a story behind them. You can intuit personality at a glance.

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Fear of a Black Panther Part Four

August 21st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Tucker kicked it off, I followed up, and then Tucker went and raised the stakes again. I’m wrapping up the story of Don McGregor and Billy Graham’s Panther’s Rage story in Jungle Action, covering issues fifteen through eighteen.

Here’s the end of the story: T’Challa makes his peace with his mistakes, in part by rejecting a certain portion of them, rediscovers his self-confidence, and goes after Erik Killmonger for his sins. They battle, and a rejuvenated T’Challa definitely holds his own… until Killmonger reasserts his dominance, explains that he was just playing with T’Challa, and easily lifts T’Challa’s body over his head and gets ready to snap his spine. That’s right: the hero makes his peace with his conflict, rediscovers himself, and does all the things that people are supposed to do before going off to fight the dragon, and he still loses. The battle isn’t even in question. Killmonger toys with him and then prepares to make a show of destroying him. No chance. There is no dignity, no honor in violence. Hey T’Challa, how’s failure taste?

But there’s one thing that Killmonger, T’Challa, and the other larger than life characters in superhero comics forgot, and forget, about: the little guy. You know, the normal humans who provide so much flavor to superhero stories, and dead bodies when the need arises. In this case, Kantu, the son of the man who was killed by zombies, is the one that saves the day.

T’Challa had a brief meeting with Kantu on his way to battle Venomm for the last time. It’s brief and depressing, as Kantu is mourning his father’s death and T’Challa has no answers for him. McGregor’s typically florid prose has T’Challa asking “if there is any hope left at all.” Kantu, however, “does not know the words to ask such a question, but wonders the same thing.” After this meeting, T’Challa, like Spider-Man on a bad day, gives himself over to being the black cat, which “does not ask any questions. It needs very few answers or truths.” Violence is an escape.

Kantu is a casualty of T’Challa and Killmonger’s war. T’Challa gave birth to Killmonger’s rage. Killmonger’s rage resulted in the revenge scheme that killed Wakandans by the dozen, including Kantu’s father. Kantu is therefore, in the end, the ultimate representation of the effect of Killmonger and T’Challa’s conflict. The back and forth chess match, the tug of war of intellects between these two men are what formed all of the exciting scenes and drama. Kantu is a reminder that nothing happens in a vacuum. When a villain knocks down a building or idly kills a bystander, it counts. When a hero mows down dozens of bad guys with a machine gun and a one-liner, that is dozens of orphans being introduced into the world.

The idea of collateral damage being something that isn’t meaningless at all is an idea that Grant Morrison explored in The Invisibles in “Best Man Fall.” King Mob killed a nameless foot soldier early in the series. Issues later, Morrison dedicated an entire story to that nameless foot soldier, showing his life, his history, and the tragedy of his death.

We read stories and the only people that matter are the heroes and villains. Joker breaks out of jail, kills dozens, and then Batman pops him on the jaw and sends him back to jail. Six months later, it happens again. Stories that actually deal with the repercussions of that are rare compared to the ones that indulge in wholesale slaughter for the amusement of the audience.

Kantu, then, is what gets lost in the action. His father died something like eight issues ago, forever for a character created to die, and yet, here he is, taking center stage. Kantu demands attention, and when a young boy says, “I could kill him!” and speaks of hate, you should be paying attention, because something has gone horribly wrong.

The real world, the place that hates you for existing and where people are cruel because that’s the only way to get results, came to Wakanda and took Kantu’s father away. When Kantu slams into Killmonger’s back, saving T’Challa’s life and knocking Killmonger to his death, that’s the end of his battered innocence.

With two pages to go in the chapter, Kantu reappears and becomes the most important, and most tragic, figure in the book. T’Challa will go on with his superheroing, suffering larger than life wins and losses, but Kantu is normal. He doesn’t get to have the big wins that boost your confidence, the impossibly attractive temporary girlfriends, and the team of friends who smile and let you ride around in their jet. No, he’s just got his father’s remains, which T’Challa’s failure left out in the sun for two whole days, and his grief.

Now: Billy Graham.

I like a lot of artists. Both Romitas, Jack Kirby, the entire Kubert family, Jim Lee, Chris Bachalo, Kevin Huizenga, Akira Toriyama, and dozens more. With his work in Panther’s Rage, Graham is solidified in my mind as one of the greats who has been sadly forgotten. He has inventive layouts that run counter to traditional comics thinking but are instantly understandable, grotesque and burly heroes, and a fantastic use of type.

(The last true chapter of Panther’s Rage features the word “Epilogue” integrated into the sky on three pages. It doesn’t bring any new angles to text or push a certain theme. It’s just an artist who knows exactly what he’s doing flaunting his skill, and more power to him.)

Graham can flipflop from Kirby sci-fi to hard realism between panels, and manages to make it all look cohesive. Embracing lovers, a broken marriage, a desperate run, and a little boy getting caught crying by the bank of a river all look exactly as they should.

He uses scale to great effect, he draws detailed backgrounds, his people look like actual people, his black people look like black people, and Kantu in particular is that kind of awkward and gangly mess of arms and legs that kids tend to be.

He drew the first seventeen issues of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire before moving onto Jungle Action. That’s the first issue of the first, or one of the first, ongoing comics starring a black American.

Billy Graham’s black, too. Comicbookdb suggests that he left comics after the ’80s. He died back in 1999. Check out his Wikipedia entry for more info.

Pay attention, because black history is everywhere.

Next: It’s not over.

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