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Friday Fun Linkblogging

April 30th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The Boondocks returns on Sunday :) I don’t have cable, so I can’t watch it live, but please believe I’m excited. On to the links!

-Paul DeBenedetto and Marc-Oliver Frisch take me to task for my Death to Canon post the other day. They raise some good points. I do want to say, as a meager defense, that I don’t hate the idea of the narrative, I just hate that perfectly good tales don’t get read because they aren’t important. That’s silly to me. I think we should treat all stories with the same level of importance. That was the point of the Spider-Man Noir vs Amazing Spider-Man comparison. I should have expressed that better. You should definitely read their posts, though. They say a lot of good things.

-Tucker Stone talks about comics, ads, and audiences.

-Nina Stone serves up a good review of American Vampire, a series I have been enjoying much, much more than I expected to. I’m hoping Vertigo’s got another hit on its hands, because I want to see this one continue. That’s a good review there, you can see exactly what she likes about it.

-Kate Dacey’s Manga Critic turned one! Kate’s great.

-Look at this lady talking like an idiot in public! Let Obama define himself, stay up out of his business.

-Music video!


Lupe Fiasco – I’m Beaming

-Pac Div’s new mixtape is heat rocks. It’s free music. Go on ahead and get that.

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Wondercon Wrap-up!

April 6th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

If you asked me to sum up my Wondercon experience in a couple of short, witty phrases, I’d just tell you that I ate six pieces of pizza over the course of two days and that I spent more on karaoke than I did on anything even remotely comic-related.

That’s not the full experience, though. It was an interesting con for me, due in no small part to the ongoing evolution in the way I approach comics, and being a fan of comics. I got no signatures, no sketches, no freebies. I paid for three books and got one for free. I spent maybe twenty-five whole dollars at the con, a drastic decrease from the usual foolishness I get down to. I’ll get to that, though.

I left work a couple hours early on Friday to hit the con and get my pass. It was painless, with less than two people in line ahead of me. Other than my pass saying “4thletter!/Popcultureshock.com” for some reason, it was easy like Sunday morning.

I figured I’d walk the length of the hall from wall to wall, but the first thing I did at the con was find Matt Maxwell, Jeff Lester, and Heidi MacDonald chit-chatting in Artist’s Alley/Small Press. I killed some time with them for a while, talking about the con and comics, and that more or less set the tone for the con.

I spent a lot of time talking to people about comics and only attended a few panels. I stopped in on the DC Nation panel because a few friends (Esther, JK Parkin, Graeme McMillan, Carla Hoffman, Laura Hudson, a couple others) were there. It was, in a word, abysmal. They completely flubbed looking like they had any idea what they were doing with digital comics, there was a lot of “Wait and see,” there were a few “Wait until San Diego” answers… it was boring. I liked when someone asked about plans for Nightwing and got a succinct “Yeah, he’s Batman” in response, and I love that Dark Knight: Boy Wonder got announced, but it was a snoozer. I had a similar experience at the Marvel panel I accidentally attended the next day, again because friends were in effect and I had an opening in my schedule. I spent most of it poring over Darwyn Cooke’s The Man With the Getaway Face.

I attended a couple panels that were cool. The Greg Rucka spotlight moderated by Laura was a trip and well worth the price of admission. It was in a huge room, for some reason. The Boom! Studios panel was also pretty good, and Ian Brill seemed genuinely excited to be writing Darkwing Duck.


There was a Disney Comics superfan in the audience, too, who kept interrupting to ask about minutiae. At the end of the panel, I went up to say hi to Ian, and as I turned to leave, the superfan was right behind me. He was mumbling something about how we should print the Disney newspaper strips in black and white and not colorize them and something something Carl Barks. I tried to tell him I wasn’t part of Boom!, that that was the other black guy in the room, but he just said, “Yes, yes, but I think that…” and kept going. I shrugged and walked away while he was talking. I’m not getting trapped in an infinite conversation ever again, and that definitely had the makings of one.

(You ever had one of those? When someone keeps going and going and you can’t find a polite way to excuse yourself because they’re so focused that all they want to do is talk about whatever? Yeah. Infinite conversations. They’re gonna be the death of somebody one day.)

I attended the Black Cartoonists as Social Commentators panel, too. It was good, but the moderator was a little too overbearing. It was clear he had a very clear and academic formula he wanted to follow, but Keith Knight and Darrin Bell are hilarious, personable, and have great anecdotes. I would’ve much preferred to see them let loose with a conversation about themselves and their work. The glimpses we got were great, though, and if you aren’t reading either, get familiar. Bell’s story about how he was getting hate mail after hate mail before Hurricane Katrina and zilch after… that was a good one. It was a good panel.

I spent most of my time walking around with friends like Lauren Davis and Ana, digging in the various half off book booths and looking for stuff to buy. I didn’t buy much, as I said before, in part because I know exactly how much stuff is sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be read. I stuck to books I knew I’d love and get to relatively soon. This means I missed out on deep discounted hardcovers, but that’s okay. I think.
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Wondercon Invasion!

March 23rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Wondercon is right around the corner, taking place from April 2nd to April 4th. It’s probably my favorite con, maybe tied with New York Comic-con, but slightly ahead because I can walk to Wondercon if I like. This one’s gonna be super special, as you can see from these descriptions of Saturday’s programming:

12:30-1:30 Comics Podcasting— Celebrating 5 years of podcasting about the comics industry, join the voices behind the iFanboy series of podcasts, Ron Richards and Conor Kilpatrick, along David Brothers and Esther Inglis-Arkell from the Fourcast! from 4thLetter, plus some possible very special guests as they discuss the ins and outs of podcasting about comics, what’s changed over the past 5 years, and what the future holds. You won’t want to miss this frank discussion, which is sure to be filled with often embarrassing stories of comics creators, conventions, and other comics related amusements. Room 220

6:00-7:00 Comics Journalism— Join David Brothers (4thletter!), Kate Dacey (manga critic), Graeme McMillan (io9), JK Parkin (Robot 6), and Ron Richards (iFanboy), for a roundtable discussion of comics journalism from all angles. What should publishers and readers expect out of the varied and often fluctuating landscape of comics criticism online? Is comics print journalism dead? What makes a writer worth reading? Expect answers to these questions and more as the panelists, each practicing a different discipline of comics journalism, talks about the what’s, why’s, and how’s of writing about comics online. Room 232/234

So, you know, if you’re around… come around. We’re up against some stiff competition, but really, who cares about Brightest Day and Toy Story 3, anyway?

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Sick Day Linkblogging

October 22nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been sick for the past two days, but I’m almost back in fighting action now. While I recuperate, you get to enjoy these links to a couple of good posts.

-Tim O’Neill on the X-Men and longevity:

The weird part is that Marvel as a company aren’t ready to acknowledge that the franchise has peaked – or even that, if it hasn’t peaked, it needs some time off before it can perform again. When the X-Men were the number one franchise in comics they built an incredibly powerful editorial apparatus around the books to guide and control the direction. The books were so important that nothing could be allowed to pass unexamined: every creative decision was micromanaged and second guessed, characters and creators were treated as interchangeable and at the same time jealously guarded. This worked to a point – in the early-to-mid-90s when the books were at their inarguable peak, the machine ran smoothly.

-The Eastern Edge has a great translation of Naoki Urasawa talking abotu making comics.

The trouble is, will I be able to produce a drawing of the ideal acting that I have in my head. It’s a matter of whether I’ve got the skill in my drawing hand or not. For example if I’m drawing Kanna, whether she’s crying, laughing, or just standing there, I’ve got her face in my head but sometimes when I try to draw that it turns out completely differently. I feel like, “Ah, stupid right hand!”

-Kate Dacey talks about one of my all-time favorite comics, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. I love the sprawling and crazily detailed comic, and the movie even holds a special place for me, since it was almost definitely the first anime I saw.

The story itself has held up well. Its paranoid, don’t-trust-the-military vibe seems as resonant in 2009 as it did when the manga was first released in 1982, as does its message about the devastating consequences of WMDs. Watching China prepare for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 — leveling shanty towns, silencing protests — suggested parallels with AKIRA’s own Olympic subplot, both in the secrecy surrounding the facilities’ construction and in the Chinese government’s adamant denial of citizen opposition to the projects. Even Tetsuo and Kaneda’s brotherly drama, which was never one of AKIRA’s stronger points, seems better developed in the manga.

I kinda wish that Kodansha used Marvel’s color for the first few volumes, but c’est la vie!

Business as usual next week, hopefully including a post that’s four weeks in the making (four weeks late).

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Put You On Game Linkblogging

October 6th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

-Emi Lenox of EmiTown creates one of my favorite online comics, and one of the few journal comics I’m willing to read on a regular basis. Her art is very endearing, and her point of view is always interesting. She did a comic in 24 hours in honor of 24 Hour Comic Day, and it’s a good one. Check out the comic here. It’s pretty awesome.

-Jason Thompson discusses Felipe Smith’s Peepo Choo, which looks like exactly the kind of manga I want to read. I may order Smith’s MBQ just off the strength of this feature.

-Chad Nevett, once again proving that my opinions are the best opinions, agrees with my unspoken opinion that the first half of Hancock was very good and interesting and that the second half goes completely off the rails. He’s got some good thoughts on the movie, and Hancock’s motivations.

-Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca are dropping an Afrodisiac book later this year. You have bad taste in comics if you don’t pick it up.

-Kate Dacey dropped her Manga Hall of Shame, a list of terrible books that she’s read. In what I hope is the first of many, Erica Friedman does her own list for yuri manga. I don’t know if I could make a list of my own. Maybe the Cowboy Bebop mangas, which were both amazingly not charming at all? The Gundam tie-in manga that Tokyopop put out when I was dumb enough to buy every manga on the shelves?

-Leylaaker (apologies if I missed a real name) writes about a pretty sour experience visiting comic shops on both coasts. Dear comic shops: get your acts together. Comic Shop Guy should be an aberration, not the norm.

-Ian from The Eastern Edge posts the final part of his six part Naoki Urasawa interview translation project. It’s a good read, and links to the previous installments are in the post.

-Brandon Graham’s blog is a must-read, though it’s sometimes NSFW. He renewed my eternal love in this post and with these words: “Where did that L7 square, space wingtip wearing motherfucker ever come up with the feet for that robot? Those feet were clearly designed by someone that regularly mastrerbates into a pair of 93 Reebocks.”

-Jog wrote a wrap-up of SPX 2009, and as usual, it’s must-reading. It ranges from a look at old Mazzucchelli art to panel recaps to books he picked up at the show.

-FBB did a podcast on Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons’s Martha Washington books. I haven’t listened to it yet, but black people.

-A brief bit of Richard Corben animation from 1968. NSFW, but guess what: it’s Richard Corben. Props to Sean Witzke for the link.

-Cheryl Lynn is reading a couple comics on recommendation from Ragnell and David Uzumeri. Which did they recommend? Tarot and Fantastic Four. Prologue is up, and part 2 covers Tarot.

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Pull Quote Linkblogging

September 14th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Pull quote link-blogging! I read some good things this past week, and I am here, sharing them, because I love you.

Here’s how it works. Sarting on the 16th, there will be a form field on this site where you can enter your name, address and age. Choose what general type of manga you want (shojo, shonen, seinen, yaoi, etc.), submit the form, and you’ll be entered for a random drawing. Each day, one person will receive 5 graphic novels. A winner is only allowed to win once… BUT! Post a photo of yourself with your manga, and send me the link at “jason@sonic.net”, and we will cross-post it on this blog and send you 5 more graphic novels.

Jason Thompson, author of Manga: The Complete Guide, is giving away a gang of manga. That’s all there is to it, really.

Gonzo’s “There’s not a word yet, for old friends who just met” is an absolutely gnostic maxim. You are old friends because the spark of god comes from the same ancient source, but you have not yet met in the fallen world.

Geoff Klock examines gnosticism and The Muppets? I was skeptical when I saw the title, but dang if he doesn’t convince me over the course of the essay. It’s a fun read, and a nice way to look at a classic.

Third, there is no such thing as a “universal” canon. This is what I call the “Gershwin” rule. From the perspective of an American historian, George Gershwin is a canonic composer, profoundly influencing the development of American music with his distinctive marriage of black vernacular styles to European art forms. But from a Russian or Italian perspective, Gershwin is a local anomaly, a decent American composer who enjoys a far greater reputation among his fellow countrymen than in the international community. (Translation: he ain’t no Stravinsky or Verdi.)

Kate Dacey takes on the question of what belongs in the manga canon, to great effect. She approaches it from an angle I never would’ve expected, in depth, and wow– it’s totally worth the read. Also, she’s in it for the long haul down in her comments. Good golly. One of my favorite reads from last week.

The women on vintage and even contemporary mystery covers are, more often than not, busty blondes that generally fall into one or another simple category: Victim or Vixen. You’d think you’d be able to tell the V-Blondes apart by how scanitly dressed they are, but another pattern is that both types are often pretty disheveled in the clothing department. (Who knew ghosts and murderers loved fabric so much!) The true way to tell if they are a Victim or a Vixen is by their gaze. If they are looking directly at the reader they are a Vixen and are not to be trusted.

Colleen AF Venable at First Second goes in on one of my favorite things: book design. She discusses a few tropes of old school book covers, approaching the design for a new book, and has generally written a piece that’s absolutely worth reading if you care about things like “how books look.”

I’m just glad to find out that I’m not the only person who will spend an hour or two poring over old book covers.

The simple answer is that it is often necessary to emphasize immediate sales in an industry with tight profit margins, and that’s understandable. But if you have the financial backing to shift your priorities slightly — which is the question Quesada was asked — why wouldn’t you? If you could afford to invest in the best creators up front and give them the creative freedom that original graphic novels offer, or allow yourself gauge the success of more monthly comics as longer-term investments, why wouldn’t you?

Laura Hudson, czar of AOL’s Comics Alliance blog, digs right into Joe Quesada’s position on why Marvel doesn’t do OGNs. Another great read, and when I say “digs right into” what I really mean is that she “obliterates his wishy-washy answer.” C’mon Marvel, you got to do better.

It just makes it another crappy Big Two super-hero comic. It will sit on the shelf for awhile, eventually go out of print, and someday exist as little more than a reminder that yes, this is what they thought we’d want. A repellent, juvenile product–lazy in design, ignorant in preparation, and blind to the response it would create.

Tucker Stone looks at the online reaction to a certain comic book, and the comic book itself, and comes to a few conclusions. Which comic? JLA: Cry for Justice #3. He puts a few things into perspective, and wraps it up very well. Some whiny jerk shows up in the comments, too, having clearly missed the point of the editorial, but hey kids! Comics writing!

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Must-read Manga Linkblogging

August 13th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Kristy Valenti has a wonderful look back at Oh! My Goddess!, a series I remember always being curious about but unwilling to break out of my “Anime should be about FIGHTING! and sometimes being sad but mostly FIGHTING!” mold as a teenager. Not that I’m any better now, of course, since I re-watch Ninja Scroll a couple times a year. Anyway, it looked interesting, and I liked the idea of the cosmology/theology/bureaucracy in it, so her look back is very welcome. She does a good job of explaining its place historically, too, which is always fun to see when someone’s talking about an older series, where “older” here means “pre-Naruto explosion.”

Kate Dacey sat down and read and reviewed all of the current Shonen Sunday manga chapters. Shonen Sunday is one of Viz’s TWO online manga endeavors. IKKI and Shonen Sunday are aimed at two different markets, more or less, with IKKI seemingly being a bit more mature and Shonen Sunday being aimed at the teen-ish market. Kate’s observations seemed dead-on to me when I read a couple of the installments, so bam! Take her word as holy writ and go and read.

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