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It Ain’t No More To It: “When a fresh faced guy in a Chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell.”

April 28th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

started at the top of Saul Williams’s “Banged and Blown Through.” 2334 on 04.25.11. images from brian azzarello and eduardo risso’s 100 Bullets Vol. 8: The Hard Way. you can start with issue 1 for ninety-nine cents, though.

Cape comics are nice and all, but my favorite types of comics feature real people doing real things. Crime comics and war comics are what really float my boat, for whatever reason. Sci-fi and fantasy are okay, but never really manage to hold my interest for long. I like seeing people in these books that could live next door, but have this insane other life.

Crime comics are a sorely underserved genre. There’s a lot of crime in cape comics, sure, but that’s not really the same thing. My ideal crime comic would probably read like Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Richard Stark, or Dashiell Hammett doing comics. Where cape comics are flashy and make a splash, crime comics are the ones that are a little dirtier, and a lot more down to Earth. People get shot and die, punches hurt, and the dialogue is punchy or mean.

In terms of crime comics, I like them spare, more often than not. The ones that descend into two-fisted gunfights, intense acrobatics, suicide charges that the hero lives through… all of that is sorta bland. It turns it into an action movie, rather than something measured and realistic. I like it when a punch in the face ruins someone’s whole day, or when the violence is inexpert and awkward. You can be trained to shoot guns with deadly accuracy, sure. At the same time, that can be a little boring, can’t it? I like people who mess up.

My favorite crime character is Richard Stark’s Parker, though I don’t know that Stark is my favorite writer, crime or otherwise. I like the spare, stripped down nature of him. He likes money and women, in that order, and he pulls jobs so that he has money to get women. Everything else is just part of the job. Not to say that he hasn’t pulled off some impossible stuff before–Slayground is essentially Home Alone in an amusement park and there’s one book where him and some friends rob an entire town–but when you get down to it, Parker is just a guy who’s talented at what he does. And that happens to be hurting or robbing people.

I liked Sherlock Holmes a lot as a kid. I loved the whole idea of solving mysteries being like unlocking a puzzle. Once you had all the pieces, it was simply a matter of looking at them from the right perspective. All it took was smarts and you could do anything. I don’t remember many specifics about Holmes any more, and it’s been years since I revisited Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, but I still love the idea of him. The Robert Downey Jr movie was pretty okay, but more action-oriented than I’d have liked.

I liked Holmes, but I loved Encyclopedia Brown. That kid was amazing to me. Sherlock Holmes Plus.

A lot of comics tend to screw up the violence. It’s action movie violence, which is great for a two hour picture, but not necessarily good for comics. I like when it gets visceral and personal. One guy fighting thirty ninjas is boring. One guy fighting his brother is great. Give me stakes I can believe in, stakes that go higher than just “If he loses, he dies.” Give me blood and give me tears.

Not say that there’s no place for stylized violence. The other day on Twitter, I said that “I mostly just want stuff where men and women (or ninjas) of visibly legal age wear suits, smoke cigarettes, and kill people.” It’s glib, but it’s also kinda sorta true. I love that whole Rat Pack/mobster/Mad Men aesthetic, and the thought of gentleman thieves is one that I can never let go of. Stylish people doing stylish things is a fetish.

Cigarette smoke is bad for you or whatever, but it’s also one of the best visuals I can think of. You can do a lot with that, from a melancholy moll to a weary hitter. If you know what you’re doing, it can be immensely powerful, you know?

I’m a big fan of Lupin the 3rd. He’s a take on the gentleman thief that I can really get down with. He steals because he’s good at it and because he likes money. His heists are increasingly ridiculous, and he’s chased by a bumbling oaf of a cop. Lupin the 3rd is pretty comedic, but the actual heist portions are always fun. He’s sort of how I wish they’d portray the Riddler in the Batman comics. He does it because he’s good at it, not because he’s a villain. If you’ve got a talent, flex it. Why not?

Another thing I dig about crime stories is the way the conflict between good vs evil plays out. It’s rarely as simple as black and white, and sometimes, morality blurs under the weight of reality. Sometimes a guy just needs to feed his family, and sometimes a cop has to feed his smack habit.

Crime comics/stories can be ugly and mean, but I love them.

I love war comics, too, though my taste in that has gotten very specific very quickly. I like them pared down and lean. Big battle scenes are no good, and one superman vs a faceless horde isn’t my thing. I like my war comics personal, and from the point of view of the man on the ground or his girl back home. The sort of stories where officers are corrupt and ineffectual, and the only real men are the ones with blood on their bayonet.

I eat up Garth Ennis’s war comics with a spoon. He’s got a take that I love, one that’s reverent of the men who do the work but scornful of the fact that the work itself exists. There’s this strong strain of hate for the war industry in his comics, the people who profit off bullets and bombs and blood. He’s concerned about the people, rather than the politics, and that makes for good reading. The people in his comics are everyday people pushed to do extraordinary things for sickeningly ordinary reasons.

“Spare” is my watchword, apparently. It’s something I try to do in life. Keeping things as simple and free of flourish as possible is something I try to practice, both in my writing and real life. “I deal with the real, so if it’s artificial, let it be,” right? I like when crime and war tales strip away the fat and just show us the meat and bone. Why are these people doing this? How is it going to affect them? Why do we put them into this?

Cape comics tend to work in the opposite direction. Heroes fight as soon as they team-up because the genre demands it. The villain who just spent a year terrorizing everyone in the country gets punched out, sometimes on live TV, and that’s supposed to be some type of closure any reasonable person can live with. Nobody ever gets stomped out. They just “do battle.”

That’s good, up until a point, but sometimes I just want to see people react to violence like normal people. Seeing somebody get shot is traumatic. Getting punched in the face sticks with you. There’s not enough of that in cape comics, but war and crime tales tend to keep me satisfied.

finished at the end of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream.” 0001 on 04.26.11

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Pretty Girls: Eduardo Risso

October 29th, 2010 Posted by david brothers



I yapped this piece of Nancy from Frank Miller’s Sin City from ComicArtFans.

Eduardo Risso: Wiki, ComicBookDB, Lambiek, 100 Bullets Week
Books: Start with 100 Bullets Vol. 1: First Shot, Last Call and work your way down the series. All the images in this post are from 100 Bullets. Colors by Grant Coleash or Patricia Mulvihill.
Why? Stupid statement alert: I like Risso for what he draws and doesn’t draw in equal parts. Not generally–specifically. He’ll leave out certain details that your mind fills in and render other things in exacting detail. Details drop in and out as needed, and whether it isn’t there or it is, the effect is the same: it looks excellent.

He has a way around noses that I really admire. He suggests facial structure with just a few tiny lines. (It sometimes puts me in mind of whoever did the character design for Final Fantasty Tactics sometimes, but cartoony in a different direction.) Pretty much everyone Risso draws is a bombshell, or clearly used to be one. He’ll stick in subtle wrinkles and cellulite as needed, and it’s all okay. His facial expressions are deadly, too. He’s got mean stares, curiosity, amusement, surprise… he’s got everything down. He knows what to show, what not to show, and how to do it best.

All that and his signature is ill, too.





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Fourcast! 23: Sex and Violence

November 2nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Guess who’s back, back again… Tell your friends, will you? The rundown:

-A special introduction, courtesy of Joe, a Funnybook Babylonian. Thanks fella!
– 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-I explain the new and improved Bruce Banner to Esther. A little smarter, a little meaner, a little more interesting.
-We talk some about James Bond: Polestar, a Titan Books release. These dusty old newspaper comics have better than your recommended daily alliance of boobies and violence, usually in equal parts.
-The next segment was intended to be a discussion of what makes a good comic for grown-ups, but it segued and mutated and warped into just a discussion of what we like and don’t like about adult books. It’s a little rambly, but there are some gems in there, and hopefully it’ll provoke some conversation.

If you’re curious to see some crudely-drawn cartoon breasts, check out these two non-consecutive pages from the book:

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Queen and country, luv!

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
-Podcast Alley feed!
-RSS feed via Feedburner
-iTunes Store

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Joe Casey Fanclub Linkblogging

August 5th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you…

Here’s some catchup for you, Joe Casey Fanclub style-

-I joined my Joe Casey Fanclub gang on The Factual Opinion‘s Television of the Weak a couple weeks ago. Thrill as I talk about Leverage, the last TV show I watch! You can read the first entry here and click on through to the second. Read the third here. Just wait until Matthew Brady gets back on the Television of the Weak train. That’s the Comics Blogger Death Squad right there.

-Speaking of Matthew Brady… that guy has been on fire lately. He’s finally finished 100 Bullets, and he came with the big guns in “100 Bullets: Everyone dies in a flurry of arrows” and “100 Bullets: My only friend, the end.” On top of that, he’s doing these Jack Kirby flashback posts that rock my world. In “No goddling! No faltering! No whining!,” he’s got a great big panel, and then a wonderful sequence of Big Barda nonchalantly destroying things while Scott Free quips, and then a look at Holocaust imagery that Kirby used in his 4th World. He’s also got “Wow! Get that Orwell ‘double think!’ I’ve read ‘1984’–It sounds nastier–when spoken!” This is another flashback piece, and just as good as the rest.

If you aren’t reading him, you should be. Here, I’ll make it easy– here’s his blog and here’s his rss.

-Comixology‘s Comics app for iPhone/iPod Touch is pretty great. Just saying. I haven’t gotten a chance to see Longbox yet, though.

-Tucker Stone and Jog wrote my favorite reviews of The Hunter. Tucker’s is here and Jog’s is here. Neither of them approach it like a normal review (here’s the art, here’s the words, here are some opinions, in conclusion…) and the reviews are all the better for it.

-Sean Witzke‘s found a couple awesome things lately. There’s James Brown reading Werewolf by Night and ALL CAPS, an idea that I totally wish I’d thought of first. If something similar appears here, don’t be too surprised. Sorry, Sean! Ideaspace! Information wants to be free!

-Advanced Common Sense Episode 4:

In non-JSCF news–

-Laura Hudson wrote an excellent post on the direct market over at Comics Alliance. You should definitely read it sooner rather than later.
-You should read Charlie Huston‘s Twitter. He’s writing a story. Start from the bottom.

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Crush, Kill, Destroy

April 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Adam Rosenlund, the guy who drew this:

Jubes, Harl, and Diz

has a new deal online: Destroy All Mics!.

He’s pushing out rap & comic remixes over there, like Darkseid x Suge Knight or Biggie Smalls x MODOK. Go give it a look, bookmark it, and grab the RSS. It’s clever, and totally worth it. In his own words:

Destroy All Mics! is a visual mash-up of hip hop and comic icons. Sometimes the connections are merely physical in nature, some are derived from word play, and some draw loose paralells to the more dramatic stories found in each. That’s what these are all about. Suggestions are also welcome!

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Great Moments in Black History #07: “Momma loved me, Pop left me.”

April 27th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

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from brian azzarello & eduardo risso’s 100 bullets: hang up on the hang low, words by brian azzarello, pictures by eduardo risso


(the thing about “parents just don’t understand” is that they do understand. they are just smarter than you think they are, and generally smarter than you.)

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100 Bullets: The Saint

April 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

The more I think about it, the less I have to say.

100 Bullets is really a series that speaks for itself. The craft and love that went into it shows on every page. You’ve got a ton of fully-realized characters, a mega-arc that gives up amazing chances for discussion and speculation, and a concept that could go on forever.

The main reason why I just did five days straight of images is because I know that fans of the series, those who stuck with it and came out on top, are gonna get it. You see “Jungle or zoo?” and know what it says about Jack’s life. You can look at a single panel of Remi Rome and see his try-hard swagger. You see “Pun. First syllable a PUN-ish-ment,” and think back to how Loop went from a boy to a man, and ended up smarter than anyone else expected.

The thing about being a comics reader is that you come to expect a certain kind of storytelling. X-Men, Superman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, all of those feature characters, but aren’t really about the characters. They are corporate icons, mascots, and on some kid’s underwear. They can’t change too much, so all of the bang of the characters has to come from action. It’s Frank Castle putting on some superhero gear, holding a gun, and saying something out of an action movie. It’s Hal Jordan once again proving that he’s the prettiest princess on the block by overcoming everything and everyone. And, at the end of the issue, everything is back to normal.

100 Bullets is a story about the characters. It’s money shots aren’t all tied up in explosions, headshots, and fist fights. Those are there, of course, and they are good, but the real bang comes from the characters. It’s Wylie and Dizzy reminiscing over lost loves together, the look in a man’s eyes as he sees his brother for the last time, or the quiet respect that everyone has for Mr. Hughes. It’s the quiet goodbye a man gives to his family before he goes off to do some dirty work, and a peck on the forehead that tells you all you need to know about him and his viewpoint on life.

The Trust, the attache, the mega-arc, all of that is wonderful, but for me, the real joy in 100 Bullets is about the characters. It’s about how they bounce off one another and figuring out what they’re thinking. It’s about who, not what.

I discovered 100 Bullets shortly after I got back into comics, and month-in, month-out, it has been heads and shoulders above every other comic that I’ve read. The weakest issues or arcs are only weak by the high standard set by the others. Risso, Azz, and Mulvihill blew me away for six years straight, and have me looking at other comics now with a jaded eye.

Blackest Night and Dark Reign are boring to me. After the deep-seated menace of Lono and his inability to tell right from wrong, Norman Osborn’s Snidely Whiplash antics are cheap and hollow. After reading about Remi Rome being the most cocksure, try-hard, desperate to please young kid on the block, Hal Jordan is a caricature of somebody’s grandpa’s idea of a superhero.

I can’t take all these stories about how Soandso Lass and Generigal are strong female characters and wonderful and et cetera, because they aren’t. They’re stupid, hollow, and empty. The black characters, too. Luke Cage leads the Avengers now? De-evolve, thug, crawl back in the ocean. Loop and Curtis Hughes, Dizzy Cordova, and Megan Dietrich are characters that you can appreciate without having to go, “Well, they’re great, except for…”

You want your strong, fully realized, and respectful characters of whatever race, creed, or sexuality? 100 Bullets has your black dudes, latinas, old white dudes, Russians, whatever.

That’s where 100 Bullets wins. Even with all of the insane acrobatics, intrigues, and unkillable villains, 100 Bullets is real. It gives you characters who you can believe in, characters who seem like people you could actually know, and put them into situations that only make them more interesting. It’s a book that challenges you with its story and forces you to care about the people you’re reading about.

I had six years of glimpses in on these characters that I’ve grown to love. Its quiet moments are just as loud as the bits where someone is being murdered. I’m going to miss it.

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100 Bullets: The Monster

April 24th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images in this post from Once Upon a Crime, Dirty, and Wilt. Tomorrow? Commentary on 100 Bullets as a whole.

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100 Bullets: The Bastard

April 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images in this post from Strychnine Lives, Decayed, and Once Upon a Crime.

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100 Bullets: The Rain

April 22nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images in this post from Six Feet Under the Gun, Samurai, The Hard Way, and Strychnine Lives.

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