Archive for February, 2014


Inkstuds Spotlight in the Rear View

February 27th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Inkstuds Spotlight is done! Thank you for listening, or sharing the links around, or telling me or the creators I spoke to how much you dug what they had to say. It was a lark, it worked, and now I’m going to type too much about why and how I did it. But first, an index:

Darryl Ayo: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Jay Potts: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Jimmie Robinson: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Whit Taylor: CA | Inkstuds | Website
LeSean Thomas: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Spike Trotman: CA | Inkstuds | Website
Qiana Whitted: CA | Inkstuds | Website

I love writing about comics. More specifically, I love talking about them with other people, and writing gives me a chance to trick people into having conversations with me about comics. Writing is just a way of organizing my thoughts or interrogating what I think about a book. Now that I work in the industry, though, I understand that my words have an aspect they didn’t before: even when I’m not representing my company, people will look at it like I’m representing my company. Before, I appeared courtesy of myself. Now, I still do, but the perception may be different depending on who and where you are.

I’m still figuring out that balance. I don’t want to not-talk, but I don’t want to have people looking at me like “Well, you had no business saying this since you’re working professional #teamcomics.” I’m very careful about recommending Image books or dissing other books, because I feel like my word has some value, and I don’t ever want to trade on that for garbage reasons.

A weird part of paring down how often I’m writing about comics is that I spend a lot more time thinking about comics and why they work the way they do. Absence makes the heart grow even more curious, until finally the heart is like “chill out dude, just get over your dumb self and do something you want to obviously do.”

Robin McConnell founded and runs the Inkstuds comics podcast. At last year’s Emerald City Comicon, Robin asked me about doing some programming for Inkstuds. I thought about it, but couldn’t come up with any ideas worth doing, and then I quit my job, ComicsAlliance died, and I got another job, so doing podcasting wasn’t even really on my radar.

On January 15, after realizing that Robin’s show was about to hit 500 episodes, an idea popped into my head. I know comics, and I know some people in comics, but I don’t know about what people actually do in comics. Where they came from, how they came to comics, why they do comics, how they do comics, what influenced the way they make comics…stuff like that. This stuff is usually beyond the purview of the hype-oriented interviews in comics, and that’s no good for me, because I really want to know this stuff.

Basically, I figured out how to satisfy my own curiosity in a way that might be entertaining to others, which is probably the whole reason I started a blog, and it was constructed in such a way that I couldn’t over-think it the way I do everything else. I couldn’t worry about crossing some invisible line of professionalism. I only had time to do it, and once it was done, I couldn’t take it back.

I made a list of people I thought were in interesting positions in the industry, and focused on people I haven’t interviewed or discussed before, with one exception. I emailed Robin with the idea and the list, and he was into it. I googled around for email addresses, DMed a few people on Twitter, did some research, came up with a few possible avenues of conversation, and then got started. Before the first show went up, I had the vast majority of them recorded. By the end of the first week of February, I had all of them done.

I think about the divisions in comics a lot, the way we’re bunched up into various factions. It’s shorthand, of course, but there’s TCJ comics, cape comics, mainstream comics, manga, and more. There are all these little islands of interests, and for the most part, they keep to their own. Inkstuds has its own remit, but I realized that I didn’t just want to limit myself to that audience. I was tempted to just post them here on 4thletter!, but I know the size of me and Gavin’s platform here, and I wanted something bigger. I reached out to Joe Hughes at ComicsAlliance with the idea. He was into it, and provided some feedback that I think made it a lot better.

Inkstuds and ComicsAlliance don’t have a lot of overlap in terms of audience, or at least it doesn’t feel that way going by what they each have covered, and I liked the idea of using both outlets to expose people to stuff they might not have known. Joe and Robin were both fine with me doing it on my own terms, too. I was thinking about the value of ownership and control even before CA closed last year, and the money in writing about comics simply isn’t good enough to do it any way but the way I (and you, if we’re being really real with each other) want to do it. So I laid out my terms and goals like a prima donna, they were fine with it, and we were off to the races with a project I maybe made more complicated than it had to be, but one I liked.

So, now that it’s all done, I wanted to publicly explain why I did it, and to say thank you to Joe and Robin for letting me borrow their platforms for selfish reasons. Darryl Ayo, Jay Potts, Jimmie Robinson, Whit Taylor, LeSean Thomas, Spike Trotman, and Qiana Whitted were incredibly generous with their time and thoughts, and each of them leapt at the chance to talk to me about my vague ideas, which I’m exceedingly grateful for. I learned a lot, and I’m very appreciative that they were down to chat. I left every conversation energized about comics and making stuff, which is a sometimes-rare feeling and almost the whole entire point of the entire project.

Thanks for listening.

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This Week in Panels: Week 231

February 24th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

All right! Taking a break from watching the WWE Network so I can… um… Hold on.

*takes a blogging break to watch Marty Jannetty vs. Ludvig Borga*

Sorry, where was I? Oh, right. The Network. It rules. Me and the other wrestling geeks at Den of Geek US listed certain PPVs that we plan to zero in on. Unsurprisingly, most of my choices are, “I hear this is terrible. I need to see it.”

This week I’m helped out by Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. Sadly, Dan gives us the final Dragon Ball Z panel, as the recolorings are going to be strictly graphic novel releases from now on. Too bad. I liked those entries.

All You Need Is Kill #5
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Animal Man #28
Jeff Lemire and Rafael Albuquerque

Avengers World #3
Jonathan Hickman, Nick SPencer and Stefano Caselli

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The Wrestlemania All-Star Challenge

February 23rd, 2014 Posted by Gavok

We’re on the eve of what will be a very important date in wrestling history. The WWE Network is about to go live and a good chunk of the WWE’s future relies on its performance. Making huge risks is a major WWE thing and outside of the first Wrestlemania, people mainly remember the bad decisions that lost a ton of money. The bodybuilding federation, the football league, the political campaigns and so on. Unlike those, the WWE Network is looking like a great idea and I can only cross my fingers and hope it’s something that works out for them as they’re really burning some bridges with it.

I’m picking it up. I know many people who are doing the same. Usually a bunch of us would get together to watch a PPV that only one person ordered, so if we’re all paying $10 for the WWE Network, then maybe they have a chance to pull this off.

In honor of this situation, which will be interesting as hell whether they win or lose, I’m going to try something I saw on a forum years ago. I forgot if it had a name, but I’m just going to call it the Wrestlemania All-Star Challenge. If you have your own blog or whatever and you want to try it, by all means. Use the comments too, if that’s your thing.

Here’s the concept: You have to put together a playlist of the ultimate Wrestlemania. It has to be 29 matches with one match from each Wrestlemania. There are two roadblocks, though. One, no wrestler may get double-duty. You can’t have Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy from Wrestlemania 2 as well as Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy from Wrestlemania 11. Not that you’d want to. Non-participant appearances are fine, so you don’t have to worry about managers or run-ins. Similarly, no title belt may get double-duty either. This is going with the idea that the WWF Championship and WWE Championship are the same thing. You can have Steamboat vs. Savage for the Intercontinental Championship or you can have Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper for the Intercontinental Championship. You just can’t have both.

It’s harder than it looks, coming off as a giant puzzle. It’ll lead to some iffy choices and you’re going to have to drop a match or two that you really like. For instance, I was going to include Hogan vs. Rock, but that caused some problems in other shows where there simply wasn’t a viable match to choose from.

Here’s my list. Noticeably absent are Batista, Chris Benoit, Mick Foley and the Big Show.

WM1: Special Delivery Jones vs. King Kong Bundy. The first Wrestlemania is filled with a lot of nothing matches, but at least this one’s kind of memorable. Bundy squashes Jones in a quick match that they insist is quicker.

WM2: Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match. Again, this Wrestlemania has a lot of crap matches and anything passable has somebody I’d rather use for another spot on the list. The Flag Match isn’t that bad. It’s short, but both guys make it watchable enough.

WM3: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship. It’s the match that stole the show and acted as maybe the best singles match in the first ten years of Wrestlemania. How can I not include it?

WM4: “The Rock” Don Muraco vs. Dino Bravo. Wrestlemania 4 is problematic. There’s nothing especially good and the Jake Roberts/Rick Rude tournament match completely kills the show. Luckily, the first round meeting between Muraco and Bravo has a bit of pep in its step for such a short match.

WM5: The Brain Busters vs. Strike Force. A fun tag match that gives us one of the more memorable tag team splits of the 80’s. Now that I think of it, it’s kind of weird that they split up one of their big face tag teams while being overshadowed by the company’s top angle that was also about a big face tag team splitting up. Back then, the concept wasn’t as overdone as it is now.

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This Week in Panels: Week 230

February 17th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Decided for a Monday update because, I don’t know, I felt like writing about Archibald Peck last night. It happens. Speaking of writing, I did a fun little article at Den of Geek US on RoboCop vs. Commander Cash, an episode of the RoboCop TV series where the cyborg police officer hunted down an insane superhero played by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. It’s something I’ve wanted to cover for years. Also at the site, I did an interview with Chris Sims over his new book Down Set Fight!

My crew this week is Gaijin Dan, Matlock and Space Jawa. The first time in a long while that we’ve had three of us reading one book.

All You Need Is Kill #4
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Avengers #26 (Gavin’s pick)
Jonathan Hickman and Salvador Larroca

Avengers #26 (Matlock’s pick)
Jonathan Hickman and Salvador Larroca

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Wrestling is Weird: The Life and Times of Archibald Peck

February 16th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Wrestling company CHIKARA has gone through some interesting stuff in the last nine months. They died and did a rebirth, partially told through a series of YouTube movies that will be shown in its full form in a theater setting in a couple months. So yes, weird.

For Den of Geek US, I’ve been working on a primer for the Death and Return of CHIKARA angle as told via a who’s who of all the players involved. While that should be going up sometime next week or so, there’s one part that I felt such joy in writing about and that’s Archibald Peck. The time-traveling marching band leader’s ridiculous storyline since starting in CHIKARA has been an absolute treasure and even summing up his recent behavior in a couple paragraphs felt wrong. So join me as I go in-depth on the man.

It all started in early 2011. CHIKARA started releasing videos hyping up that the Band was coming. The videos acted like this was a major huge deal and included black and white historical footage and the first two seconds of the New World Order theme. The timing here was key. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and X-Pac, three major members of the nWo, just left TNA, where they called themselves the Band due to rights issues. CHIKARA was about to build up towards its annual King of Trios tournament, so were they really suggesting that Nash, Hall and Pac were on the way to compete? It was possible. Those guys did do a lot of indy appearances. On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea in the long run due to their personalities and the fact that only one of them was capable of putting on a decent match at the time.

As it came closer to the debut time, it became a little more apparent that it wasn’t going to be the nWo in CHIKARA. Nash just made a big appearance in WWE and Hall was in no condition to compete. Coincidentally, X-Pac would show up at King of Trios a few months later as the 1-2-3 Kid, but the whole “Band is coming!” thing was just a red herring. The band was really Archibald Peck and his majorette Veronica.

It usually takes people months to pick up on how they’re “Archie and Veronica.”

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This Week in Panels: Week 229

February 10th, 2014 Posted by Gavok

Okay, well, maybe “mediocre” is going too far. Superior Carnage had a really good first four issues, but then the last one put all the interesting toys back in the box.

MASSIVE week of panels this time around with 40+ images. I read a lot, but so did Matlock, who is still keeping up with DC’s big event for whatever reason. Though I guess Bane dressed as Batman riding a horse isn’t the worst reason. Flanking us as usual are Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa.

Though, I’m wondering. Should I fail them?

All-New Invaders #2 (Gavin’s pick)
James Robinson and Steve Pugh

All-New Invaders #2 (Matlock’s pick)
James Robinson and Steve Pugh

All You Need is Kill #3
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

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Presenting “Inkstuds Spotlight”

February 4th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

I try to do a couple of big blogging projects a year, whether it’s blacking out on the whole of Frank Miller’s work on Batman or scratching the surface of why I like Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. It’s a chance to focus and do just one thing for a while, to empty thoughts out of my head I couldn’t find another place for, and to satisfy my own curiosity. Robin McConnell asked me to think about doing some stuff for his Inkstuds comics podcast over a year ago, and last month, I saw a space in my schedule between a relatively complicated winter and the beginning of con season, had a brainstorm, and took the opportunity.

So here’s what it is: Inkstuds Spotlight is a chance for me to satisfy my own curiosity about what it’s like to “be in comics.” I made the move from fan to employee last year, and it brought with it a whole new set of things to worry about. But I don’t really care about me, because I’m way more interested in what cartoonists, academics, bloggers, critics, and other people in or adjacent to comics do. Hawking books, working tables, coming up with lesson plans, making minis, covering comics, all of that.

Over the course of the next month, I’m going to put up a bunch of interviews in the 30-40 minute range—I’m aiming for two a week, but I may end up with a few more—with people in and around comics, talking about what they do and why. I don’t have a script, preferring to let the conversation go where it wants to go, but I did ask each person how they came to comics and what their comics community is like. Beyond that, it’s anything goes. This won’t be exhaustive or comprehensive, because there are literally not enough hours in the day for that. But hopefully it will be a lot at the very least.

I’m really happy about this and hopefully you’ll dig it, too. To make sure you can’t escape my voice, my friend Joe Hughes at ComicsAlliance is going to syndicate the posts in addition to them going up on Inkstuds, since I really believe that site has something to offer and I probably miss contributing there a little.

The plan is for podcasts to go up on Tuesday and Thursday morning each week, hopefully at 0900 Eastern. We’re looking at slight technical difficulties this morning, but we’ll get it sorted and then you can maximize your crush on me by making my laugh into your text message alert. (I laugh a lot. Sorry.) I’ll link posts here as they go up if you don’t visit either of those sites.

I promise this isn’t a way to trick you into listening to rap music by accident.

Edit: the Inkstuds post is live, and so is the one from ComicsAlliance!

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Sasheer Zamata tells good jokes.

February 3rd, 2014 Posted by david brothers

Saturday Night Live recently added Sasheer Zamata to their roster, apparently the first black lady to join the cast in about six years. I’ve been throwing her videos into a youtube playlist and ended up binging on Saturday while I worked. As it turns out, she’s funny as heck. I thought this one was glorious, all the way down to “Man, FUCK Storm!”:

I thought this story of her being flashed, which she’s used in stand-up before, was stellar:

Her mannerisms and style as the dude comedian are so on point it’s not even funny.

The killer bit, though, was this one, about a morning after a one night stand:

Zamata is super funny and a strong writer. I’m not super into SNL—that’s Gavin’s job—but it’s awesome that someone as funny as her gets a huge platform like that.

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This Week in Panels: Week 228

February 2nd, 2014 Posted by Gavok

All right, back on schedule! I had an awesome time at yesterday’s National Pro Wrestling Day, which featured the much-needed return of CHIKARA. Without going into too much detail, let me just say that the show featured a run-in via time travel where a guy literally drove in in a Delorean. It was amazing.

I’m joined by Gaijin Dan and Space Jawa. This week happens to feature a terrible comic starring Bruce Wayne’s son as Batman, a decent comic starring Bruce Wayne as Batman and an awesome comic starring Bruce Wayne’s dad as Batman.

All-Star Western #27
Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat

All You Need Is Kill #2
Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryosuke Takeuchi, Yoshitoshi ABe and Takeshi Obata

Aquaman #27
Jeff Parker, Paul Pelletier and Netho Diaz

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