November 24th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Johanna Draper Carlson nails one of my problems with Alan Moore’s latest works.

I also, and I cringe at the potential response to this but I’m going to say it anyway, outgrew this kind of fanfiction years ago. When I was a kid, my impulse was to match up the casts of favorite TV shows (because I was a child of the 80s). It’s not that much more clever when Mr. Moore does it with literary figures, except in his case, you need a scorecard to recognize some of the more obscure ones. It’s also not very creative to think that simply having character A from book series B meet character C from TV series D makes for sufficient story. It doesn’t.

I haven’t read Black Dossier yet, nor Lost Girls, and you know what? I kind of don’t want to. I’ve gone into why I can’t get into Alan Moore, and LoEG seems to just be more of the same.

LoEG is continuity porn for literature geeks.

I’m tired of continuity porn and I’m tired of pastiche.

Stop being so clever, Mr. Moore, and write stories with real plots with your own characters.

Amen to that.

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November 18th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

87_4_000532.jpg 1570_4_00246.jpg2605_4_0175.jpg
(all covers from November 1983)

Hey guess who has a birthday today

no it’s not alan moore

(okay it is but he isn’t who i’m talking about)


How brilliant is that Amazing Spidey cover, seriously? Jonah in a tracksuit laying Spidey flat.

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U DECIDE: Frank Miller

October 4th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Has he totally lost it, or has he, like Alan Moore, looked upon the legacy of his ’80s work and run screaming in the other direction?

Alan Moore has spent the past 15 years reinventing himself to be Grant Morrison. Has Miller spent the past few years doing something similar?

Bear these two quotes in mind when you answer:

I’ve seen all these characters of my childhood fall into disarray. They’ve become neither fish nor fowl. Those of us who wanted to test the boundaries of what a superhero comic book could do, unfortunately broke those boundaries and the results have not all been very good. We pushed against the old walls, and they fell-but nothing much has been built to replace them. And now the roof is leaking and the sewer’s backing up. So I’m taking this romp through the material again and showing just how spiffy this stuff is. I’m doing it without cynicism and giving my best. I’m also having a very good time.

What I want to bring back to superheroes with this project is a sense of play. Things have gotten so dreary. The heroes have gotten so ugly that even their muscles have muscles. The elegance of Gil Kane is gone. You don’t see the sheer joy of Green Lantern’s power ring. The magic of somebody like the Flash-somebody who’s able to move so fast that you can’t see him move-is gone. There’s no sense of the basic wish that any of these characters have.

I think anyone who’s working on a superhero comic should be obliged to write down in one sentence what the central wish is of the character. Every story has to play to that theme. “Adolescent power fantasies” isn’t just a tired cliché; it’s too broad, too crude. There’s more than that to these characters, the good ones, anyway. As it is, I don’t know who these characters are anymore. I don’t know why they do what they do. Why Green Lantern became a drunk driver when he can fly always loses me. And I’m told they turned him into a mass murderer as well. The fun’s gone out of it. I want to try my hand at bringing it back.

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Bits & Pieces

April 26th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Linkblogging again today! I’m off tomorrow so I can put some work in then.

– I am flying out to San Francisco on Sunday and staying until Wednesday! I’m apartment hunting for my move there in May. It’s fun trying to guess at your take-home pay without knowing how much the gov’t is going to ream you for taxes!

– I finally got the out of print Mr Majestic TPB. I now own each TPB of his two solo series, which is kind of a weird feeling. It took me a while to realize how much of a big Wildstorm fan I am. Anyway, the book collects issues 1-6 and the Wildstorm Spotlight by Alan Moore and Carlos D’Anda. I think that the series went on for eight issues total, but what we’ve got here are six done-in-ones plus a special. From the back cover copy: “Mr. Majestic rearrangest he solar system, repairs a temporal anomaly, gains a son, halts an intergalactic prison break, and meets the Ultravixens.”

Also from the back cover copy: “Remember when superheroes could move planets?”

The first Maj series is kind of a precursor to All-Star Superman in theme, if not in quality. Both stories take these wild silver age tropes and, rather than looking at them ironically (“Ha ha why do you need an invisible plane”) they just take them at face value. Majestic can move planets. Why? Because. It’s a pretty light and warm book from what I remember, and the team of Joe Kelly, Brian Holguin, and Ed McGuinness is the perfect fit for it.

Another choice line: “What the @#$# is wrong with you?! I’m a freakin’ nun!”

Ah, Ladytron.

batmanrobin6cvrsm.jpgI love Jim Lee’s new Batgirl design for All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder. (For color reference, see here.) It’s just all around awesome. The freckles visible under the bat-mask, the bats on the boots, and the big yellow bat-symbol work really, really well. I also love costume designs made up of just two colors for some reason, so that’s icing on the cake. I’m also really, really fond of Frank Miller’s dangly and busy way of drawing earrings. It’s funky and different. Also, is it me or is that a Daemonite head that Batgirl (who I’m assuming is Barb Gordon, if only because of the freckles and hair?) is standing on?

– 52 this week (#51, to be exact) was pretty good and paid off in all the expected ways. Buddy returning was a nice capstone to his story arc, though he now may be the most powerful thing in the DCU. I can’t imagine DC dropping the ball on that, so expect him to show up in Countdown. Also, I totally called the Mr. Mind in Skeets thing, just like 51% of the rest of the internet, but the payoff was so much better than I expected!

– Is anyone else reading and enjoying Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov’s Barracuda as much as I am? It is trashy and ugly and excellent. Barracuda has turned out to be a lot smarter than anyone ever gave him credit for and the series has been quite a ride so far. Be interesting to see where it goes!

– What’s it say about me when the most striking part of the first Outsiders trade is John Workman’s lettering? I love that man’s work. He’s got style and he’s unique.

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Gotta Have Heart

March 8th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

G. To read Alan Moore’s work, it’s so beautiful and architectural and everything about it is great, but for me, that fire of creativity isn’t there in it, and I’m not fooled by it. I read Promethea last night, and I thought, “This is Doom Patrol, I don’t care, there’s nothing new for there for me here, but it’s so beautifully constructed, I wish I could do this kind of thing…
S. …immaculate objects…
G. …yes. It lacks the transcendental, it lacks the soul. And even last night, I was talking to Warren, The Authority’s like Justice League, but to me, what I find in that is this voice coming out, that to me, Warren’s got this voice of this new whatever generation it is that’s coming up where there’s all this violence and black humour, and that’s why I love it, because it is a thing with fire coming out of it. I don’t get that with Moore’s stuff, I just get this brilliance.

–from an interview with Grant Morrison conducted by Spiros Xenos in 1999

My secret shame as a comics fan is that I’m not an Alan Moore fan.

I’ve spent a couple days trying to write this post, actually. It veered a little too close to being a Moore vs Morrison whinefest. I’ll try to hit you with the bullet points.

Let’s discuss.

I’ve read a few Moore books that I liked. Watchmen (I own the Absolute!), V for Vendetta, Top Ten, and LXG are all good stuff. They’re technically impressive and Moore has an incredible grasp on the craft of comics-making. He may be the best technical writer ever, and he’s been gifted to work with some stellar artists at the same time. Dave Gibbons, Kevin O’Neill, JH Williams III, Gene Ha and Zander Cannon, all of these guys are ridiculously good.

However, I just can’t get into the majority of Moore’s work. Promethea leaves me flat, Lost Girls turns me off, and the majority of his America’s Best Comics were really sort of boring.

I think my issue with it is, as Morrison kind of describes above, it’s lacking in heart. It feels empty. Top Ten is the best superhero pastiche/homage since Planetary, but it all feels very by the numbers. Here’s the Fantastic Four analogues, here’s the DC characters, and so on. There’s no sense of the “Gee whiz, this is cool!” that I get from other comics writers.

I think that this is because Moore’s work is so perfectly constructed. You can tell the care that goes into his pages. You can tell that he’s thought a lot about it. However, because of that construction, all of his work feels very calculated. It doesn’t feel fun at all. Not to say that he hasn’t done some fun comics, as a handful of issues of Tom Strong were really very fun, along with that issue of Mr. Majestic he did years ago with the Dyson Spheres, I believe. But, my overall impression of Moore’s work is that it is all very serious and important and literary, capital letters optional.

I feel like I can see the man behind the curtain in too much of his work. It’s lacking in spontaneity. It’s too perfect. It’s there to be held up and admired, like art, rather than devoured, like pop culture.

(I’m an English major, honest. I’m not a literiluddite, I swear!)

Have you guys seen the proposal for Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes? It’s a DKR-style tale of superheroes gone wrong and fascist and their grisly end. Check the internet. It’s hailed as being an incredible tale, full of vim, vigor, and clever plot twists.

I read this proposal and was completely repulsed. Billy Batson as a leather sex midget? J’onn J’onnz as a murderer? John Constantine being so stubborn that he’d doom himself to a life of loneliness out of spite? Again, technically and craft-wise, it’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just lacking that heart and charm that I like from my comics.

Reading Moore is kind of like reading the classics. It’s very, very good, but it isn’t really very fun. I love Albert Camus, Voltaire, and Faulkner. I’m okay with Hemmingway, but you’ll rarely catch me reading them just because. Alan Moore’s work is a lot like that for me.

On the other side is Grant Morrison, relentless optimist and imperfect creator. His work has a snap and just earnestness about it that I don’t get from Moore. Even when he screws up or falls short of his goal, most especially in Batman 663, you just get this sense that he’s trying to give you that same feeling of “Gee whiz!” with his work. All-Star Superman illustrates this really well. He loves the Silver Age Superman and, when combined with a talent on the level of Quitely, you can tell.

His reach can easily exceed his grasp and he sometimes falls victim to scripting anticlimaxes, but he’s really very earnest about it and that comes through in the work. JLA Classified, New X-Men, The Invisibles, Vimanarama, and half a dozen of his other books all show this. They’re cool scenes, one-liners, and dialogue that sit on top of one mad idea after another. Flying jet apes, Barbelith, secondary mutations, Flex Mentallo, and Xorn. Shoot, Fantomex. He isn’t perfect, but he’s going to take you on a wild ride.

Alan Moore is literary comics. He writes comics as if there is a comics canon out there. His comics are smart, technically impressive, and wonderfully crafted. He’s rightfully hailed as one of the greatest ever, but like a lot of literary canon, his books can be boring and not very fun to read.

Grant Morrison is glam comics. It’s focused on fun, but with a point, and isn’t really aspiring to be anything other than fun. It’s shiny without being empty, and stylish without being substanceless.

I kind of prefer Morrison’s approach. I want that cool shot, I want that one-liner, and I don’t mind when my comics fall short of their goal. I want my comics to wow me and be awesome because it’s cool. I like pulpy stories.

Am I making sense or do I need to be put out to pasture? I’m not pitching this as either/or, just as an exploration on how I’m feeling about these two creators.

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Comics vs. Cartoons: A Look at Diniverse Designs

February 14th, 2006 Posted by Gavok

Next Monday seemingly marks the end of one of the greatest eras in animation. For fourteen years, we’ve been given what people call the “Diniverse” (named after a guy who barely writes actual episodes anymore). It started back in 1992 with a primetime showing of Batman: the Animated Series and after all these years, it’s going to die out with the finale for the fifty-eighth spin-off, Justice League Unlimited.

Lord knows the Diniverse made its stamp on both the world of animation and the world of comics. Characters like Harley Quinn were introduced… as well as more forgettable folk like Livewire and Lockdown. The comic version of Supergirl started wearing the white t-shirt and tight skirt made popular by Superman: the Animated Series. John Stewart took Kyle Rayner’s place as the token Green Lantern on the Justice League roster. Batman Beyond showed up in the pages of Superman/Batman for no reason whatsoever.

There are obviously changes here and there over how certain characters are portrayed. Many consider the Kevin Conroy-voiced Batman to be the defining version of the character, compared to the close-minded, paranoid caricature he’s become in the comics. Sure, the Joker kills people here and there on the cartoons, but at no point would they ever have him cripple Batgirl and strip her naked in order to drive her father insane on Cartoon Network. In the comics, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl have never been an item, nor has a big chunk of the JLU roster been members of any Justice League roster. Hawk and Dove sucked in both mediums, so there is that. Read the rest of this entry �

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