Archive for July, 2012


This Week in Panels: Week 149

July 30th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Hey, hey, hey. I got comic panels for you because it is late Sunday night and this is the part of the week when I do this thing and oh my God why did I schedule this on Sunday nights when work kicks my ass so badly like it did today and–


I’m helped out by Jody, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and Brobe. No Was Taters this time because according to the ThWiP charter, Week 149 is no girls allowed. Really, it was notarized and everything. Or was it motorized? What am I talking about?


All-Star Western #11
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Moritat and Scott Kolins

Amazing Spider-Man #690
Dan Slott and Giuseppe Camuncoli

Aquaman #11
Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

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Breaking Bad Open Thread: “Hazard Pay”

July 29th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Sunday Sunday Sunday! We’re going to have a weekly chat about Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad. I buy mine off Amazon, so I’m usually a day behind, but every Sunday around showtime I’ll post an open thread. I’ll probably start linking the Breaking Bad podcasts and trailers and whatnot

If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, you should. You can find Breaking Bad:
-On AMC, Sundays at 10 eastern
Seasons 1-4 on Netflix
on DVD
on Amazon Instant Video (my preferred method)

-Don’t be a dick
-No spoiler warnings, so don’t come in unless you’ve seen the latest episode
-Feel free to hyperlink and youtube it up
-Liveblogging is cool, just be specific so we know why you’re going “WHOA DUDE WHOA WHOA BRO”

This week is “Hazard Pay,” directed by Adam Bernstein and written by Peter Gould, who also wrote the screenplay Gavin’s favorite movie, Double Dragon.

Sneak peek:

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Dark Knight Rises and the Cumulative Villain

July 27th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Like many people, I checked out Dark Knight Rises last weekend. I won’t go into a full review of it, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. A discussion led to me realizing that while I think Dark Knight is a better film, I’d probably find more replay value in Dark Knight Rises. It immediately brought to mind some similar feelings on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Yeah, I know that Empire is the best, but nine times out of ten, I’d rather check out the optimistic conclusion.

After all, Dark Knight is the biggest downer in superhero movies. Three good people are ruined over the course of 2+ hours by a villain whose comeuppance doesn’t even fit the crime. It’s awesome and everyone’s great in it, but God, imagine if there wasn’t a sequel after that.

It’s not the only comparison I can make between the Batman and Star Wars movies. I mean, I’ve been describing Bane’s majestic villain voice as “Gentleman Darth Vader”. But it’s with Darth Vader that Bane shares a neat little similarity outside of the obvious.

It’s well agreed that the Star Wars prequels are garbage. There’s four hours of footage from Red Letter Media that explain it better than I ever could. Still, there are little aspects that work. One of them is something somebody pointed out to me years ago that I’m unsure of whether it was intended or not. The idea is that Darth Vader is the cumulative villain.

The prequels are famous for having ruined one of the most iconic and badass movie villains of all time and retconning him into a mopey loser with issues… and not even cool issues. Well, except for that time he went on a killing spree. That was pretty rad. While the three movies were set on deconstructing him and ruining his mystique, there was an unrelated building of him going on all along.

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Nike’s Find Your Greatness ad campaign is pretty good

July 26th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I was talking to someone on Twitter the other day about whether or not it was unfair that black superheroes tended to shoulder the burden of addressing racial issues in comics & movies, like the stereotypical angry black man or the uncountable comics where a black hero points out to his white mentor how grimy life actually is when you’re colored.

I agreed that it was unfair, but that we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. White characters will never shoulder that burden because white is treated as the default. They get to have regular adventures because they are treated like regular people. Black people are special. We’ve got baggage.

So the choice is either deafening silence, which is in and of itself an implicit suggestion that things are a-okay, or one type of character being expected to deal with one type of story before they can move on to regular stories. My point, I think, was that it was unfair, but necessary, because you can’t expect white characters to shoulder that burden and someone has to.

I really like this Nike campaign. “Find Your Greatness.” It’s another hit for Nike after a long line of them, and I love that it focuses on regular people instead of superstars. All the spots are pretty good, though I think the one with the diver is my favorite/the cutest.

But I think it’s notable that in a campaign that includes a wide variety of people, from black kids to Chinese martial artists to a kid who plays baseball with just one arm, the only spot to be explicitly educational, in a cultural sense, is the one that features Muslim women wearing headscarves. (The conceit of the campaign is that it’s documenting athletes in not-England Londons, but I’m not sure where in this case.)

The voiceover: If we think greatness is supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, and play a certain way… we certainly need to rethink some things.

It’s not a complaint, exactly, more of a plain observation. I think it’s interesting that this is the one that has the “Be more accepting” message. The other short spots are of the motivational variety. “If greatness doesn’t come knocking on your door, maybe you should go knocking on its door.” “Greatness isn’t born. It’s made.” “Greatness is a scary thing. Until it isn’t.” “Sometimes, greatness is about overcoming insurmountable adversity. Sometimes it’s just fun.” That kind of thing.

But this one, the message is more pointed. Americans hate Arab peoples and distrust Islam. The role of women in Islam has been boiled down to “oppressed, forced to wear oppressive clothes.” The role of men has been boiled down to “sexists, murderous, terrorists.” That is the narrative right now. Don’t believe me? It was just last year, 2011, that Representative Peter King put American Muslims on trial for the actions of a few.

The narrative needs to be corrected. Which means that people need to be educated. Which means that these messages of empathy and acceptance… need to be said. It needs to be said, it desperately needs to be said to correct the poison we’ve been tainted with, but it is only ever said by, or by way of, the people who are victims of false and hurtful narratives.

That’s the rock and a hard place. It needs to be done, but it’s unfair at the same time. Why should I have to reprogram your idiotic beliefs when I had nothing to do with them being invented? But if I don’t… then the poison continues. And if that poison doesn’t directly affect your life, you’re probably not going to be particularly active about getting rid of it. It’s like being trapped in someone else’s box.

“Find Your Greatness” a great campaign, and I love the message behind it, even the “Stop being so mean to Muslims and Arabs you incredible jerks” one. This one’s my favorite spot, though:

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Breaking Bad Open Thread: “Live Free or Die” + “Madrigal”

July 24th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Trying something new! I watch a few TV shows. Some of them are even pretty popular. Who wants to have a weekly chat about Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad? I buy mine off Amazon, so I’m usually a day behind, but I can post a thread every Sunday for us to hash it out. Sound good?

If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, you should. You can find Breaking Bad:
-On AMC, Sundays at 10 eastern
Seasons 1-4 on Netflix
on DVD
on Amazon Instant Video (my preferred method)

-Don’t be a dick
-No spoiler warnings, so don’t come in unless you’ve seen the latest episode
-Feel free to hyperlink and youtube it up

Sound good? I’m going to paste my comments in the c-section and then we can see about hashing out how we feel about whatever whatever. I’ve never done this before, but hopefully it turns out well, even if it’s just two or three of us. Episodes go up for me after midnight, so I’ll probably be posting on Monday night instead of Sunday, but I figure if enough of y’all are interested in talking, that won’t matter.

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This Week in Panels: Week 148

July 22nd, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Hey peoples. It’s time for another go at sanding down the stuff we’ve read this week into one representative panel. My helpers are Was Taters, Jody, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa, Luis and Nawid. Remember, if there’s a series you’ve been reading that isn’t being represented, you can always send me some panels. Email’s over there on the right.

This update features Dracula the Unconquered #2 by Chris Sims and Steve Downer. It’s an incredibly fun series so far on both writing and art fronts and is super affordable at $1. You should probably go purchase a copy yourself and enjoy it with a nice bowl of Chocula. Think of it as a Kickstarter. The more of you buy this, the better the chance that Sims will fly over to Pennsylvania and join me for this year’s CHIKARA King of Trios. Do you really want to prevent that man from being able to see the Warlord, Barbarian and Meng team up as the Faces of Pain? If so, you’re a monster and you sicken me. Read the rest of my update and then get out of my face.

But then keep coming back on a regular basis to increase website traffic. And read David’s stuff on Comics Alliance. Just remember to get out of my face when you’re done with all of that.

Avengers Academy #33
Christos Gage and Timothy Green II

Avengers vs. X-Men #8
Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

Barrage #7
Kouhei Horikoshi

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Work In Progress: Becky Cloonan’s Bêlit

July 21st, 2012 Posted by david brothers

A peek behind the curtain:

I read a bunch of those new Dark Horse Conans while waiting for an airplane. Becky Cloonan and James Harren drew them, and they look great. My first thought, after I decided to write about them, was that Cloonan brings the sex and Harren brings the violence, so I should call it “Sex & Violence Comix: Conan the Barbarian.” Or something like that.

The rub is figuring out how to talk about both. I’ve talked about violence a lot and James Harren a little, so that half of the equation I can probably knock out in my sleep. Something something Harren shows us the moment of impact at its grisliest, something something harsh hand-lettered sfx, something speedlines first person pov something. Whatever.

The sex half of the equation is harder. (Ooh, is this a metaphor?) Sexiness is so unbelievably subjective to begin with that trying to not just quantify it, but point out the specific aspects of what makes an image and person sexy is a little crazy. It requires a certain level of specificity of language there that I’m not quite confident in just yet, since I’ve rarely tackled the subject in any detail or outside of jokes.

My first thought, in trying to describe Cloonan’s Bêlit, was that “she’s the type of woman you can’t help but objectify at first sight.” Like, you see her, and she is probably a pretty nice lady with great mind and several college degrees, but something about her just flips that animal switch in your brain from “Let’s have a conversation and get to know each other” to “I now know a girl named Nikki, and boy I hope she’s a sex fiend!”

But that’s not quite right, and also kind of stupid, despite being more or less accurate. It doesn’t work for me, it’s not crystal enough. So I’ve let myself think about this off and on over the past week, coming up with new angles of attack. Bêlit is the type of girl you obsess over, she’s nude but the nudity is more of a danger than a tease, she’s the girl your mama warned you about, she’s wicked, she’s scheming, she’s passion, she forces passion out of you, she’s fiery… she’s smoldering.

Smoldering works. A low burn, something that implies pleasure and pain all at the same time, or at least in quick succession. So men are like moths to the flame. There’s the promise of sex in her hips and poison on her lips, but something about her makes you want her anyway. Which is exactly what the story is about, in a way, so it’s perfect.

When I finally sit down to really write this, that’s probably where I’m going to take it.

Becky Cloonan knocked out Bêlit’s design and portrayal. Just thinking about her a little gives you everything you need to know.

To be continued.

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“Paradise not lost, it’s in you” [On urban ennui]

July 18th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

The Damon Albarn Appreciation Society is a series of twenty focused observations, conversations, and thoughts about music. This is the final entry. I had a conversation with a friend about Damon Albarn and what I’ve been calling urban ennui. This is me trying to quantify that feeling, and how the music I enjoy the most has reflected or dealt with that feeling. This is more a collection of thoughts than a proper essay, but I hope you underdig it regardless.

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), On why I buy vinyl sometimes, on songs about places, Mellowhype’s Blackendwhite, a general post on punk, a snapshot of what I’m listening to, on Black Thought blacking out on “75 Bars”, how I got into The Roots, on Betty Wright and strong songs, on screw music, on Goodie MOb’s “The Experience”, on blvck gxds and recurring ideas, on Killer Mike and political rap, on Ghostface Killah and storytelling

-One of my favorite, or maybe my most favorite, songs on the debut album from the Gorillaz is “M1A1.” Listen:

-The first couple minutes of this song are taken almost verbatim from George Romero’s Day of the Dead. The man’s shouts for other people turn the song into something a little creepy. He’s seeking companionship and finding none, but he keeps trying and the music eventually buries him. The implication is that he never finds anyone.

-“M1A1” could mean a lot of things. It’s a type of tank, a flamethrower, and a submachine gun. It’s also the name for a road in England, built toward the end of the ’90s. From wikipedia:

Between 1996 and 1999 the M1 section north of the M62 underwent a major reconstruction and extension to take the M1 on a new route to the A1(M) at Aberford. The new road involved the construction of a series of new junctions, bridges and viaducts to the east of Leeds. When the new section of M1 was completed and opened on 4 February 1999, the Leeds South Eastern Motorway section of the M1 was redesignated as the M621 and the junctions were given new numbers (M621 junctions 4 to 7).

-The song goes from empty loneliness to rapid-fire music and shouts. It’s an interesting balance. It’s not even remotely single-worthy or radio-ready, but it’s still a great song.

-It evokes a specific mood. It sounds like cities feel. You don’t talk to strangers. You don’t make friends. You stay in your bubble until you reach safety, and then you get to go wild — party, drugs, girls, sports, whatever.

-That mood puts me in mind of a Kid Cudi line from one of my favorite songs about depression: “Crush a bit, little bit, roll it up, take a hit. Feeling lit, feeling light, 2 a.m., summer night.” This is how we have fun. Looking out over a city when it’s long past bedtime, enjoying the quiet, the swoosh of cars going by outside or at street level, and the cool winds. But it’s a little futile, too. The song’s called “Pursuit of Happiness.”

I bailed out of my life and went to Los Angeles last week for a few days. No email, no tweets, no nada. I don’t think I even texted that much, beyond getting directions from the LA gang. I spent Saturday night in Santa Monica, and I woke up around 3am. I got something to drink, looked out of a window, and realized that it was bright outside. The city lights made 3am look like 7pm. The weather made it feel the same. An eternal comfortable twilight, the perfect time of day locked in place and preserved. I wanted to take a walk, but instead I just went back to bed.

-I live in San Francisco, and sometimes I take walks at night with my iPod. This city is really nice at night, and I live in a pretty busy part of town. It isn’t quite as bright as Santa Monica was after midnight, but it’s still nice. My only issue is with the weather — I have to bring a jacket when I go out. But, sometimes, you hit that perfect balance and the city is beautiful in all the right ways.

-A couple Sundays ago, I found myself sitting on a bench in Japantown (a district in SF, just a couple blocks from my place), pleasantly faded, reading stories out of a copy of William Gibson’s Burning Chrome that the homey Sean Witzke sent me. It sounds simple, I mean I was just reading outside on a bench, but that’s not an experience I could have back home in Georgia. The people going by, the location, the smell of food from Yakini-Q drifting down the block, the reflections from the New People building… there’s something special there. Something fascinating and appealing.

-One of my favorite images of a city is a Black Star song, “Respiration.” It opens with a woman saying “Escuchela… la ciudad respirando.” I don’t know where that’s from, but here’s the hook and a youtube:

So much on my mind that I can’t recline
Blastin holes in the night til she bled sunshine
Breathe in, inhale vapors from bright stars that shine
Breathe out, weed smoke retrace the skyline
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call
I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin
Chest heavin, against the flesh of the evening
Sigh before we die like the last train leaving

It’s beautiful, yeah? I love “Breathe in: inhale vapors from bright stars that shine/ Breathe out: weed smoke retrace the skyline.” It’s crystal clear, a thousand words worth of imagery packed into two short lines. When I think of what I like about cities, this is what I think of. The city as a living, breathing organism and the citizens as people just trying to get by.

-I loved this song before I moved to a real city. I spent a couple years in Madrid, but that wasn’t quite the same. I wasn’t on my own. When I moved to SF and found myself alone, I finally understood the melancholy aspects of the song. City living is like nothing else, but it will burn you out if you can’t keep up.

“I don’t know why I chose to smoke sess. I guess that’s the time that I’m not depressed.”

-I was trying to explain this to a friend in email, and the only compact term I could come up with for what I’m talking about was “urban ennui.” Urban ennui is that feeling that arises when you’re caught between a city’s majesty and its dungeon. It’s the combination of pretending you’re sober enough to talk to a pretty girl on somebody’s balcony at midnight and curling into a fetal ball in your apartment because the pressure is too much a week later, and then doing it all again because escape is unthinkable and unwanted.

-The feeling isn’t ennui, not really. Ennui is a listlessness, a tiredness. It’s exhaustion. Depression. But that’s the closest feeling I could come up with, even though this is something different.

Urban ennui about the push and the pull between the sacred and the profane, and how both are required if you’re living in the city. It’s how a smile from a stranger can change your day just as fast as a mean mug from another. It’s how a snarl of cars is beautiful from four stories up and a nightmare at street level.

-I can hear traffic from my place late at night, when it’s real quiet. I like how cities sound, and if I’m up late, not sleeping, that quiet motion is comforting, like the ocean. I don’t know why I like it, I doubt if I could quantify it, but I do.

-One of my favorite rappers, a guy whose career has had almost undue influence on my writing style, is El-P. He started with Company Flow, moved to Definitive Jux, and I’ve followed him ever since I first heard CoFlow’s Funcrusher Plus. Here’s his song “For My Upstairs Neighbors (Mums The Word)” off his (very good) Cancer 4 Cure album.

He packs a lot in. Cops as hostile invaders and obstacles, New York attitude, snitching, abuse, but most of all, the unique relationship between neighbors in a city. You hear the noises from other apartments, the arguments and screams and orgasms and heels, and you ignore it. There’s no real common area, so you don’t hang out and become friends. Each apartment is a world unto itself, orbiting the sun of the apartment building but existing almost entirely apart from it, as well.

-I don’t know any of my neighbors. I’ve had conversations and introduced myself to a few, but I wouldn’t call any of them friends. We don’t hang out. We smile as we pass each other and continue on in our lives.

I live directly across from the main elevator and stairs, so I hear everyone. Snatches of conversation. Muttered arguments. Drunken ramblings. But I don’t know anyone. I don’t know faces, only voices, and I barely know those. I have neighbors, but they just live near me. They aren’t neighbors like I had back home.

-El-P is familiar with urban ennui. It bleeds out of his discography, in addition to his songs about abuse, addiction, and depression. It’s one of the things I like most about his work, honestly. That paranoia and pain that oozes out of songs like “Stepfather Factory” and “The Jig Is Up” hit me hard.

-It’s no surprise that whatever it is inside me that loves cities latched onto El-P and his love of the same. The actual surprise, though, was Damon Albarn.

-Blur just released two new songs: “Under the Westway” and “The Puritan.” They’re pretty good.

-The Westway is another road. Albarn sang about it in “For Tomorrow,” from Modern Life Is Rubbish. A video and another quote:

She’s a twentieth century girl,
With her hands on the wheel.
Trying not to be sick again,
Seeing what she can borrow.
London’s so nice back in your seamless rhymes
But we’re lost on the Westway.
So we hold each other tightly,
And we can wait until tomorrow.

“We’re lost on the Westway, so we hold each other tightly, and we can wait until tomorrow.” Terror and love, inseparable.

-I like “Under The Westway” more than I like “The Puritan,” but that’s more due to the fact that “Westway” sounds more like the era of Blur I’m really into, their 13 and Think Tank albums. “The Puritan” sounds more like Modern Life Is Rubbish to me. (Not a complaint, mind.)

“Westway” is properly melancholy and explicitly about cities. Here’s an excerpt:

There were blue skies in my city today
Ev’rything was sinking
Said snow would come on Sunday
The old school was due and the traffic grew
Up on the Westway

Where I stood watching comets on their lonesome trails
Shining up above me the jet fuel it fell
Down to earth where the money always comes first
And the sirens sing

Bring us the day they switch off the machines
Cos men in yellow jackets, putting adverts inside my dreams
An automated song and the whole world gone
Fallen under the spell of the

Distance between us when we communicate
Still picking up shortwave
Somewhere they’re out in space
It depends how you’re wired when the night’s on fire
Under the Westway

Love-horror-love-horror-love-cities. Again and again.

-I got into Gorillaz (who I’d liked since high school) in a major way after I moved to SF. I reconsidered Demon Days, I dug Plastic Beach, and I grabbed all the b-sides I could find. Here’s a snap from my Google Music:

I don’t have everything (I haven’t grabbed the Laika album yet), but I do have most of their stuff.

-I also got into Blur, and Albarn in general. I’ve enjoyed all of his side projects to varying degrees. I haven’t disliked any of them. Some are just more good than others.

The internet makes it easy to binge on an artist’s discography (“damon albarn discography mp3 high quality”), but I don’t usually get into artists like I get into Albarn. I never felt like I needed to get every Joe Budden song ever, or Fabolous. But I did that with Albarn, and I’ve even got three zips of bootlegs and live recordings to go through even still.

-I think I binged so hard because Albarn scratched the same itch that El-P does. They’re both exploring these ideas of love, hunger, fear, and obsession on wax. They have a habit of seeing the beauty in pain — El-P enabling a neighbor to murder her abusive husband, Albarn focusing on the love that keeps us together in hard times — and being honest about who we are and where we live.

They don’t have a lot of common ground, but the common ground they do have is remarkable. I don’t think they’ve come to the same conclusions, either. Albarn seems like he’s made his peace with how things are, while El is much more abrasive and prickly about it. Maybe that’s that New York swagger vs whatever they have in London, I don’t know, but I enjoy thinking about it.

-I wouldn’t be the person or writer I am today without music. Specifically rap music, guys like Nas and El-P and Aesop Rock and Cannibal Ox and Jay-Z and OutKast and Goodie MOb and Backbone and Cool Breeze and Too $hort and Mos Def and Talib Kweli and RA the Rugged Man and dozens more. They all either explored ideas that are near and dear to my heart or explored ideas in a particularly clever way.

The language they used and the ideas they explored are what made the difference. They opened something up to me, whether it was showing that every subject is worthy of consideration or just flipping a hysterical lyrical miracle off a spherical aerial toward the pinnacle, minimal satirical.

The way that I talk, the way I choose to write, is a direct product of a childhood spent listening to music. The books that I read ranged from classics to airport trash, and none of them hit me as hard as, say, “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” or “Find A Way” or “2nd Round KO” or “Uni-4-Orm” or “Fugee-La” or “Scream Phoenix” or “Shadowboxin’/4th Chamber.”

-Music taught me to be willing to find different ways to explore ideas, rather than just being simple and straightforward and boring. If you have to work for something, even just a little, it tastes better.

-I realized that several of my most favorite songs and albums explore city life and urban ennui entirely by accident, but it made a lot of things about me fall into place. It’s like opening a safe. The tumblers fall, click click click click, and then the door slides open and you have that lightbulb moment.

It makes sense. City living is stressful, especially on your own, and why wouldn’t it be explored via music? San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, New York, whatever. There are differences, but I bet the basic foundation of living in those cities is the same. It’s one of those things you have to make your peace with, or else just leave the city entirely.

-I’ve started running in the mornings, since I’m not really biking currently. I know my neighborhood well, or at least maybe a three square block radius. It’s different when you’re up at 6 or 7 and winding your way through the sidewalks, portapotties, and overgrown trees. You look at different things because you can’t run with your head down. It’s easy to find something you never noticed before as you watch the fog burn off.

It’s another angle on the city, basically, something new to love and fear.

-Urban ennui isn’t a concrete concept, or like a dominant one or something like that. It’s part of a spectrum of things: depression, relationships, adulthood, son-hood, and whatever else. But this feels significant to me, it’s something that matters. It’s something that’s real.

-Thanks for reading.

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Comics Marketing Pet Peeve

July 17th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Fans & critics seeking better representation in comics for women/blacks/gays/asians/etc has been a Thing the past few years. Just between you, me, and the wall, I’ve dabbled in it myself, just a little.

That’s the preamble. Here’s the meat. Don’t do this, in part because it is a huge pet peeve of mine and I am the center of the universe, and in part because it’s bad marketing:

CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 by @kellysue is out THIS Weds! You SAY you want books w/ strong female leads. You SAY you want books by top female creators. Time to put your money where your mouth is.

This is going to be the start of a GREAT run– not just of a great “girl” comic– of a great comic for EVERYONE. This one’s got a LOT of talent and heart in it. Give it a go!

This is from Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott’s Twitter feed. It is good intentioned, and I appreciate the sentiment behind it. Kelly Sue DeConnick is a pretty dope writer (Osborn: Evil Incarcerated with Emma Rios and I think Becky Cloonan for a bit is great comics, the best Normie since Jenkins/Ramos on Peter Parker, and her Slam Dunk adaptations are A+) and I get why they want this series to be a success. But.

1. Guilt is a crap motivator. I come from a family of guilt trippers, and as a result, there’s not much I hate more than a guilt trip. This is a guilt trip that also implies dishonesty on the part of the guilt tripped. “You SAY you want books w/ strong female leads. You SAY you want books by top female creators.” The suggestion is that you have to buy it, because otherwise, heh, guess you didn’t mean it, eh?

2. People say a lot of things about a lot of things, and there is always an unspoken caveat after the phrase. I want more comics by and about black people… that are good comics. I want more comics by and about black people… that don’t involve them being all sad about being black or fighting racism. The “you” here is a wide mass of people, each with their own wishes and peeves. “I want more comics by and about women… [that fit my criteria for things I enjoy].” Captain Marvel certainly seems to be eagerly awaited, judging by the stuff I see daily on my tumblr, and that’s cool. (Actually, tumblr being so energized is really cool in a grass roots sort of way, but that’s not this post.) But that doesn’t mean that it is the lynchpin on which future comics about women revolve. I mean, I hope it isn’t, because, wow, that would be a tremendous dick move and also pretty unlikely. But Captain Marvel It is just one comic. A comic with a lady lead, female writer, a cool mohawk, and a good amount of buzz, but still just one comic. Some people who want more lady-orientated funnybooks might not dig it. Others might. And that’s okay. If you keep making those books, they’ll like something else, and all of us can argue over which one is the best. (The obvious answer is the Jubilee: Firecracker twelve issue maxiseries I just made up, aka “The New Watchmen That Is Also Better Than Watchmen“)

3. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, basically, and I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again. “Buy this book or we’ll shoot this dog” is funny on a cover. It’s less funny when it’s someone actually telling you that. It’s bad marketing, it’s annoying, it’s insulting, blah blah blah. Y’all know the drill. Your mileage may vary.

4. Have I done this? I’ve probably done this. Sorry. I think a lot about this stuff, both this “I want more comics by/about blacks” stuff and “I love/hate to talk about wanting more comics by/about blacks” stuff. My thoughts are evolving. How I approach this stuff is evolving. I’m evolving.

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“’cause political power comes from the barrel of it”

July 16th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

One interesting thing about intentionally expanding the types of music I listen to is finding shared ground between genres and the people who make them, no matter how much time or how many miles separate them.

I’ve been listening to The Clash’s London Calling and Killer Mike & El-P’s RAP Music over the past few days. No reason why, I don’t think — I just felt like it. I had a light bulb moment while listening to “Guns of Brixton.” A youtube and a quote:

When the law break in, how you gonna go?
Shot down on the pavement or waiting in death row?

You can crush us, you can bruise us
But you’ll have to answer to
Guns of Brixton

I like it. It’s easy to understand. It positions the law as amoral and the authorities as a possible danger, not a source of safety.

The song was written a couple years before the 1981 riot in Brixton. I never heard about it growing up, but in reading about it, it sounds like a pretty familiar story. “Guns of Brixton” is a fight song, a warning. “Do what you want, but don’t think you can get away with this. You’ll answer for this.”

From Killer Mike’s “Don’t Die”, second verse:

Now the dirty cop’s looking at me
Talking ’bout he kill a nigga if I try to flee
Shit, I’m about to lose it, so he gon’ have to prove it
All because the government hate rap music
I’ve been labeled outlaw, renegade, villain
So was Martin King, so the system had to kill him
A nigga with an attitude, the world gotta feel him
Educated villain, intent on living
If I gotta kill a cop just to get out the building
That motherfucker gettin’ left dead, no feelings
Yelling “Fuck him!” as I buck a .45 at his fillings
Trying to knock his brains through the motherfucking ceiling

This is different, but not that different. Mike’s playing the role of a rapper who’s about to be assassinated by cops, and this is his reaction. It’s a song about self-defense, about protecting yourself and your family from anyone who would do them harm, up to and including the people who are meant to protect them.

I don’t think it’s a stretch or insulting to say that the police are often used to enforce oppression in poor and black neighborhoods. Not in a shadowed men in a dark room plotting to rid the world of the untermenschen sort of way, I mean. More in a “these policies are predatory, meant to disenfranchise people, and often built on suspect evidence” kind of way. The war on drugs as a war on poor and brown people, racial profiling, all that stuff. On top of that, disruptive community leaders, your Martin Luther Kings and Malcolm Xs and Black Panthers, are targeted for political and personal destruction by police organizations via extralegal and obsessive surveillance.

A cop stands at the door and knocks. When you hear his voice, how do you feel? What’s the first thought that goes through your head?

Paul Simonon and Killer Mike’s distrust of authority is separated by over thirty years and a couple thousand miles, but it’s rooted in the same history, the same ideas. Protect yourself and your family, via armed resistance if you have to, because you can’t depend on anyone else to do so. There’s something really resonant about that idea. Mike’s is a little more swaggery than Simonon’s version (the delivery on “Yelling ‘Fuck him!’ as I buck a .45 at his fillings/Trying to knock his brains through the motherfucking ceiling” is nuts), but they’re both coming from the same place.

There’s this element of music that I cherish. It’s the fact that, if you’re open to it, there is a ton of history encoded into the songs. It can be anything from trying to identify a half second sample to looking up someone’s name. Stuff like “Y’out there?” being quickly followed by “Louder!” screaming out from the past. Or “Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for star time?” or how Biggie flipped Schooly D’s “PSK” into a serious black/rap history joint. If you dig a little, just a little, and let your mind make the connections that are already there, you’ll find a lot more to enjoy, and that uncovers even more.

Ain’t no more to it.

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