Archive for May, 2011


“It’s a new way of thinkin’…” [On Vinyl]

May 31st, 2011 Posted by david brothers

The Damon Albarn Appreciation Society is an ongoing series of observations, conversations, and thoughts about music. Here’s the seventh, which is about how I listen to music, in a way.

Minutes from previous meetings of the Society: The Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby”, Tupac – Makaveli, Blur – 13 (with Graeme McMillan), Blur – Think Tank (with Graeme McMillan), Black Thought x Rakim: “Hip-Hop, you the love of my life”, Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

Aww, Mr. Death To All Print Media is buying records now? What a hypocrite.

I regularly carry around a tiny device that lets me hold two thousand songs. My mp3 collection is over twenty-five thousand songs deep, and the distance between “thinking of an album” and “being able to listen to that album” is getting smaller and smaller each day. One side effect of the rise of MP3s as my preferred format for music is that music itself has been devalued, and any associated rituals eliminated.

If I want to play an album, I flick my thumb up and down a screen that’s probably an inch and a half wide and tall. On my computer, I have hundreds of albums that I can play one after the other in a random order, and if I let it play through, I wouldn’t hear the same song twice for weeks. iTunes is Jukebox Plus, a program that can hold every song ever made and play whatever I want, whenever I want.

Music used to be something you did, in addition to listened to. You had to fast-forward through cassette tapes to get to the song you wanted, or hope you put the tape in on the right side because the text was rubbed off. I used to have a bunch of unlabeled CDs in my car that were random mixtapes. I would shuffle through them in the morning, find the one that was the least scratched, and throw it in.

There was a ritual. You had to do something to make music go. Every album was a discrete unit, rather than being part of a mass.

So, when a friend offered me the Hanna soundtrack on vinyl, I thought about it and said, “Why not?” I grew up around records, though I rarely played them as a kid. They were around, but our needle broke at some point, so they never got played. I went out, picked up a cheap turntable, spent a few hours trying to get it to work with my computer the way I wanted, and then went out buying vinyl.

I set some ground rules for myself before I went on a mad shopping spree, though. If there is going to be a ritual to my music playing, then it’s going to be with music that’s worth it. No singles and no EPs. Anything I buy would have to be actual albums that I can bump from top to bottom, rather than anything I ‘sorta like.’ I’m only buying things I already own here, in whichever format, so the outlay of cash had to be worth it.

On top of that, I decided to buy a limited number of albums a month. I would allow one strong burst at the top to flesh out my collection, but after that, one or two albums a month, max. I don’t need to waste more space in my place. I figured that setting a foundation for a library and then building slowly would be a nice way to keep myself in check and only end up with things I enjoy.

After a couple weeks, I own Big Boi’s Sir Lucious Leftfoot, Blu’s Her Favorite Colo(u)r & Celln’Ls/ GurlFriend’ 7″ (free with HFC), Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night, Chemical Bros’ Hanna, Curtis Mayfield’s Curtis, David Banner’s Certified, Ghostface’s Fishscale, Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach, Little Dragon’s Machine Dreams, Michael Jackson Off the Wall & Thriller, Outkast’s Aquemini, P$C’s 25 to Life, Richard Pryor Wanted, Tupac’s Makaveli, and Young Jeezy’s The Recession. A few of these I found used for cheap, a few were new, and more than a few were at rock-bottom clearance prices.

I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got, and I’m pleased with how this experiment is working out. I have to consider albums as their own thing now, which is a little different than queuing up a playlist. Fast-forwarding is a pain, and while selecting individual tracks is possible, it isn’t an exact science. Vinyl makes me look at albums as one whole, rather than a selection of songs and skits.

Skit placement makes more sense now. They tend to come at the top of a side of a record, rather than randomly throughout a set of mp3s. They feel like something that will ease you back into the music or serve as a reintroduction, rather than something somebody thought was funny once. Bonus tracks are gone now, too.

Vinyl requires active listening. I’ve got a few double LPs (and one triple), and you’ve got to be paying attention so that you can switch sides and play more songs. It’s more interactive than my iPod, which I find really interesting. I’m always aware that vinyl is spinning, rather than the fire and forget way I approach iTunes.

I wake up an hour early so that I can work out every morning. As it turns out, records are a nice way to keep time. I was listening to music anyway, but now I have one album to go through a day (or 75% of an album, depending). Switching sides or records provides a nice break between sets, and playing an album lets me accurately judge my time, too.

I don’t think I’ll ever be a vinyl nut. I prefer the digital format entirely too much. But, for certain specific situations? Vinyl is very cool. Another new way of thinking.

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Create, Consume, Recycle 05/30/11

May 30th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

stuff i made

I got quoted in the Wall Street Journal talking about digital comics and Marvel’s vault. How crazy is that? Very flattering.

Thor: Tales of Asgard is soft. Netflix it if you have to, ignore it if you don’t.

Ten Marvel comics that are worth buying in August
Here’s some free digital comics

A quick look at Adam WarRock’s new EP

A preview of Miners Mutiny from Stackhouse x Shahan

More digital comics, but not free

something i like

John Rozum and Frazer Irving, Xombi 3:

Rozum’s contribution to Xombi is far from insignificant (the story’s pretty good, and I’m really very happy with how the series is shaking out), but Irving’s work is what I want to focus on right now. Off the top of my head, I’d say that the series rarely goes above five panels per page, which gives plenty of room for action and dialogue. Irving’s had a chance to show off some low-key acting (David Kim on the phone is #1 is great) and some large-scale action scenes (check out the panel progress from panels 3-5, particularly David’s head), and he’s done well with everything. At the moment, this is probably my favorite DC book. Maybe a tie with the Milligan/Camuncoli/Landini/Bisley Hellblazer.

(The colors are interesting, too. The series feels like it’s colored by mood [a burning, angry orange, a twilight blue, a calm, natural green] rather than traditionally realistic colors.)

Xombi is fairly free of metatextual commentary. Xombi isn’t a comic about other comics. Everything you need to know takes place inside the panels. This might be the first time the story in the comic breaks out of the panels. I like the extra punch it adds to the scene, though I feel like the lettering being over the action, rather than near, hurts it a little. But that right there, the blood splatter breaking out of the confines of reality, is a great touch.

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4 Elements: My Favorite Comic Book Story

May 30th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

As of today, I am no longer a man in my 20’s. I was wondering how to be all sentimental about such a change and decided that I would do a 4 Elements post on my favorite comic story. That’s a hard decision to make, really. What to choose? I love Watchmen and all, but I don’t know if I’d rank it that high. Hell, I love Kingdom Come more than I should, but even that rings hollow. Maybe there’s some Deadpool story buried in there that I should gush over.

In the end, I decided to go with a short story from a 90’s What If issue. Yes, I’m terrible. In fact, most of the issue is terrible. It’s What If #34 from the second volume, otherwise known as What If No One Was Watching the Watcher? Years back when I ranked the top 100 issues of the series, that one only made it to #57. Despite being a humor issue, it featured 19 pages of unfunny jokes and inane concepts. The only reason it ranked so high was because of the opening 7-page story.

The story, written by Scott Gimple and drawn my Tom Morgan, came out in 1992, only a month or so after the finishing of Marvel’s hit Infinity Gauntlet series. Now, I’m a fan of violence and fictional destruction, but strangely, there’s a major lack of it in this story. In fact, the only actual action comes from the first page as this reality’s Thanos gives the business to Galactus, Eater of Worlds.

Yes. My favorite comic book story is What If Thanos Changed Galactus Into a Human Being? Rather than imprison him in energy cubes like in the original story, the omnipotent Thanos punishes Galactus by sending him to Earth in the form as a human. In his naked, human form, Galactus finds himself in a Kansas trailer park. With no memory of his true identity, hungry and entranced by the sound of nearby music, he stumbles into the home of Gertrude Rebmann, a waitress, single mother and Elvis enthusiast. At first, she’s horrified that there’s a naked dude collapsing at her front door, but then we get a good look at Galactus’ human form and she’s even more shocked.

Complete cosmic coincidence, Galactus had been transformed into a form that looks and sounds just like Elvis Aaron Presley. Gertrude is sure it’s him and spends the next few hours feeding him, playing him Elvis records, reading his life story via magazines and showing him some of his movies. Since Galactus has amnesia and he’s a complete match – even down to the singing talent – he agrees that he is indeed Elvis. He doesn’t understand it, but he knows he has a second chance and he intends to do it right this time.

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This Week in Panels: Week 88

May 29th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Crazy 88 time. Looks like my intentions to do a post a day petered out last week, but that’s what happens when you spend only minutes at a time at home/conscious. I did get to see Avenue Q for the first time, though, which was pretty great. It taught me an awful lot about the internet and its uses.

I saw Kung Fu Panda 2 tonight. It was totally sweet. Very, very little Dustin Hoffman, but it’s offset by how goddamn amazing Gary Oldman is as Peacock Hitler.

This week we got stuff from David Brothers, Was Taters and Space Jawa. I’ll give you ten guesses on which comic the guy with Jawa in his name supplied.

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #6
Jason Aaron and Adam Kubert

Captain America #618
Ed Brubaker, Butch Guice and Chris Samnee

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Kill Squad: 12 Hands. 12 Feet. 24 Reasons to Die!

May 27th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

I’m sure you have figured this out by now, but I’m a man who loves a good cheesy movie. That’s the reason why the 70’s and 80’s are so great. Give me a choice between watching the English Patient and the Warriors and I’ll choose the latter every time. I think a great cheese movie is a lot like an expensive comic. You can’t force it. It just happens. Nobody knew that Action Comics #1 would be such a big deal years later, but it is. You can TRY to make your new movie as cliché and silly as possible (hello, Shoot ‘Em Up), but most of the time you’re going to just get another forced product like insisting Doomsday killing Superman is going to be a major collector’s issue. Got my sloppy metaphor out of the way, so let’s continue.

I guess there are just some movies that are too weird to exist and when you get wind of them, you can’t rest until you sit down and watch it. Like the day I discovered that there’s a Japanese monster movie about a 50-foot-tall Frankenstein’s monster fighting a giant lizard. Or a movie about a samurai Buddy Holly walking through the desert and fighting Death so he could one day become the king of Lost Vegas. Or whatever the hell Santa Claus Meets the Ice Cream Bunny was about. I’m compelled to watch them.

Several years ago, I came across a clip on YouTube of one hell of a grindhouse movie trailer. It was a movie from the early 1980’s called Kill Squad.

I feel like the guy from the Maxell commercial when I see that. They really just tried to convince us that a throwing star blew up a car via different footage cut together! They don’t even try to give you any semblance of a plot. They just show you that it’s nothing but ridiculous fighting and the world’s greatest tagline. I’m in!

Unfortunately, Kill Squad is so obscure that it isn’t even on DVD. Believe me, I’ve spent the last few years checking up on that again and again to find no progress. Then fortune struck. I was showing that trailer to someone the other day and I saw a shocking link on the sidebar: “Kill Squad 1/8“.


I sat through the movie and came out a better man. It isn’t a good movie by any means, but the world is a better place for the fact that it exists. Also, the trailer was right. There is a loooooooot of fighting. In fact, I’m going to keep a running tally.

The movie is directed by Patrick G. Donahue and stars a bunch of guys who don’t appear in any other movie. B-movie mainstay Cameron Mitchell is also credited as the villainous Dutch. There’s a really hilarious and interesting notable actor in the movie, but I don’t want to make this review too top-heavy. I’ll go back to it down the line.

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4 Elements: Darkwing Duck

May 26th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Excluding Gargoyles, Darkwing Duck was always my favorite part of the Disney Afternoon. I always felt that although Disney is great at showcasing their many properties, Darkwing got the shaft. Sure, it got an NES game, but when the cartoon ended, so did the franchise. Darkwing fell into obscurity, only to become a piece of nostalgia years later.

But what a show it was. Funny and filled with adventure, it acted as the way lighter comedy counterpart to Batman: The Animated Series. It had plenty of character to go around. Not only with our egomaniac mostly-competent hero, but they stole the best character from Duck Tales for the sidekick role and the youthful ward seems to have more gusto than the title character himself. If a superhero is defined by his villains, then you can see the reason the show was so great through the likes of Darkwing’s rogues gallery. Except for that one walrus guy. He kind of sucked.

I never expected to ever see Darkwing again. Whenever a new Kingdom Hearts game came out, I’d half-heartedly hope that maybe we’d get some kind of return appearance, but no. He doesn’t rank with the feature film big shots. Alas, he’d only live on in Toon Disney reruns.

That is, until BOOM! Studios announced a Darkwing Duck miniseries. I was jazzed! Eventually, the idea became so popular among the masses that the company turned it into an ongoing. I was more jazzed! Then I read the first issue. That made my jazz flux levels go even higher! I even got to do an interview with writer Ian Brill one time! My jazziness… it… I… I was pleased, okay?

Darkwing Duck has finished up its first year via twelve issues (three story arcs) and an annual that featured a short story by the series creator Tad Stones. The main series is written by Ian Brill with James Silvani killing it on art. In a time when my favorite characters like Venom, Deadpool, Juggernaut, Booster Gold and Luke Cage have their own fantastic comics going on (by “Deadpool” I mean Uncanny X-Force. Sorry, Daniel Way), I can still tell people with a straight face that my favorite comic series being released today is Darkwing Duck. I get a lot of skeptical looks, but I stand by my claim. With those twelve issues plus one released, I’ve found myself blown away thirteen times in the past year.

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The Cipher 05/25/11: Hip-Hop Is Dead Edition

May 25th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I messed around and got bored, so this is closed for business. In the meantime, here’s something from Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira 2:

These aren’t good comics. They’re best comics. Visit Otomblr for more. I’m starting to think that people should be making comics that are at least trying to be as good or better than Akira. It’s cool if you don’t make that mark (it’s a high, but worthy mark) but if you’re just taking paychecks… nah son. Feed your family first, but holler at me when you make something worth reading.

Here’s a song I like off Killer Mike’s Pl3dge:

You should cop that album. There’s four or five serious bangers, and the worst it gets is “pretty okay.” And even “pretty okay” gets an upgrade to “good” thanks to a Big Boi assist on the remix.

Here’s some comics some people are probably buying this week:
David: Xombi 3, Power Man and Iron Fist 5
Esther: Yes: Xombi 3 Maybe: Action Comics 901, Detective Comics 877, Green Arrow 12
Gavin: Green Lantern Corps 60, Green Lantern Emerald Warriors 10, Green Lantern 66, Incorruptible 18, Astonishing Spider-Man Wolverine 6, Captain America 618, Deadpool 37, FF 4, Incredible Hulks 629, Iron Man 2.0 5, Namor The First Mutant 10, Power Man And Iron Fist 5, Secret Avengers 13, Secret Warriors 27, Venom 3

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And Now… Dancing Baby T-Shirts

May 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

My attempt to do a post a day for this week didn’t work out so well for today. Last night I closed at work, today I opened, then once my shift was over I immediately put on a suit for a retirement dinner. That doesn’t give me much in terms of time and energy to get any decent writing done. Not only that, but it’s been brought to my attention that my article concept of “comic book writers as professional wrestling bookers” is actually a terrible idea.

Like Garth Ennis’ WWE where he brings back grizzled, Irish badass Finlay and pushes him through the roof. Throughout his rise to the top, Finlay makes John Cena, Randy Orton and Undertaker look like complete jokes while revealing that they’re all sexual deviants with bizarre fetishes. Coincidentally, Katie Vick is brought back into continuity. Oh, and Hornswoggle starts urinating on people all the time.

Okay, fine, I’ll stop. Instead, here’s a crazy commercial that my brother Geremy directed for Evian.

I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes photos of how they got those baby poses to work. It was… It was something, all right.

All right, so James Robinson’s WWE would have Drew McIntyre show how much of a threat he is by taking out a bunch of named jobbers and putting them on the shelf right as they’re released from the company. After getting the credit for taking out so many lower-carders, his supposed monster push is screeched to a halt as he ends up losing to Evan Bourne and is never heard from again.

…Yeah, now I’m done.

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The Point One Collaboration Experiment

May 24th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Last Wednesday saw the release of Alpha Flight #0.1, the first in what appears to be a second wave of comics in Marvel’s Point One Initiative. Revealed first in late October and making its debut on the shelves in February, Marvel decided to start focusing on certain issues of their various series as jumping on points. It’s similar, at least to me, to DC’s One Year Later comics that existed after the events of Infinite Crisis half a decade ago, only without the shakeup factor of it all. They simply give us a bunch of $2.99 comic issues that claim to be a great place for a new reader to start with and move forward.

I’ve seen people review the Point One books in batches, comparing what worked and what didn’t. I even thought of doing that myself, but then I took a second to notice that it would be pretty unnecessary. What reason could I possibly have to review those? For instance, I read Jeff Parker’s Hulk as is and enjoy the hell out of it. So of course I would love Hulk #30.1. I’m already on board for the series. To me, it’s just another great issue. I’m not the intended audience for such a review.

But you know who would be good for this kind of thing? People who would read Hulk #30.1 despite never reading the 29 prior issues. Same for Avengers #12.1 and Wolverine #5.1 and so on. If this is Marvel’s attempt to bring in new readers, I need to get me a hold of some new readers! Namely, I need a crew from the DC side of the tracks. It was a long and tortuous search (fifteen seconds, give or take), but I figured on a perfect trio for this experiment.

First up is Esther Inglis-Arkell, the Clobberella of the 4thletter! New Justice Team. Since she and I have had shockingly minimal interaction over the years on this site and she stands firm on DC ground, Esther was ideal for this. Joining Esther is Was Taters, a friend to this site for all the work she regularly does for This Week in Panels. Lastly, I introduce my real life good buddy Andrew, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with for the past five and a half years.

Before we get started, let’s hear from our guinea pigs.

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Fourcast! 86: The Wonderful Punisher of Oz

May 23rd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-You Made Me Read This!
-I made Esther read Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, and Jimmy Palmiotti’s violent Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank
-She made me read L Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young’s sublime The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
-“Made” may be the wrong word for that last one.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-Here comes a new challenger!
-See you, space cowboy!

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