monday mixtape garou

April 29th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

monday mixtape garou from brothers on 8tracks Radio.

Eight songs here, which should play in random order. The list:
-The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now
-The Verve – The Drugs Don’t Work
-The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony
-Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
-The Smith – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
-The Stone Roses – Fools Gold
-Blur – Trimm Tabb
-Blur – Under the Westway

My friend Amy hooked me up with a playlist she called “Madchester and Manchester.” You can listen to it here if you have Spotify. I was going to embed it here, but it turns out you need Spotify to hear the songs, so… I did a lot of extra legwork and turned the tracks I like best (plus two more) into an 8tracks mix.

I say I like britpop, but what I really mean is “I like Damon Albarn-led or -related projects, like Blur, Gorillaz, and so on.” Albarn’s work has been the main way I’ve experienced britpop, even down to it being the lens through which I learn about britpop history. Oasis exists in relation to Blur. I was introduced to Justine Frischmann not through Elastica but via “Oh, she’s Damon Albarn’s girlfriend, some songs are probably about her, and the best Blur albums are post-breakup.” It’s not that I’m a superfan — I own a lot of his stuff and I figure his name is enough to get me onboard, but I wouldn’t say I’m obsessive about it — so much as I’m ignorant of the context. I wasn’t there, I was a kid when all of it was going on, and frankly, there ain’t a lot of young black kids in Small Towne, GA listening to The Smiths or whatever. I didn’t even hear an entire Beatles song, and recognize that it was The Beatles, until high school.

So I reached out to a few friends who’d know. Amy hooked me up weeks ago, and it took me forever to listen for stupid reasons. (I wanted time to be able to really listen to figure out what I liked, which is typical of me.) I got Ron Richards to kick me a lot of album recommendations in a few different genres, too, since we have so little overlap in taste.

I’m trying to broaden my horizons, and the best way I know how to do that is to do something new and then see how it makes me feel. In this case, I took Amy’s playlist and listened to it a few times on shuffle while walking around the city and commuting home. After an hour or so, I started starring whichever songs caught my ear for whatever reason. Maybe I liked the melody, maybe I liked a particular line, or maybe I liked something more ephemeral.

Whichever way it is, the star means I need to pay attention, and paying attention means either checking out more songs from the album the song originates from or asking friends what else sounds similar.

I don’t really have an endpoint for this. I just wanna know more, and spider-webbing my way to more seems good enough to me.

Thanks Amy. Sorry it took so long.

The two songs I added to round out the mix are a couple Blur joints I like a lot. The only Blur album I don’t own/haven’t heard is The Great Escape, I think. I passed it over when I was heavy into Blur, by accident maybe, and haven’t had a chance to go back yet. Which is weird of me, but hey.

I wrote about Frank Quitely & Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy. It’s soft like baby butts, but also the best comic Millar’s written in recent memory.

I wrote about Ananth Paragariya and Yuko Ota’s Johnny Wander. I like it a lot. Website.

ComicsAlliance is closed. To my knowledge, it wasn’t because of hits or performance or controversy. It didn’t fit, or something. Dunno. Either way, I spilled 477,770 words on 317 posts over about three and a half years.

-I watched Matthew Vaughan’s Kick-Ass finally, the adaptation of the odious Millar/JRjr comic. It was eleventy times better than the comic, but still pretty dumb. It’s like they intentionally shied away from making a good movie in favor of a weird quirky… thing. Hit-Girl was the most interesting part, and they botched every single action scene with her, including the big introduction where she rescues Kick-Ass.

It’s weird. It wanted to be an action movie, but the action was shot poorly almost as a general rule. The hallway run toward the end had so many good parts, like Hit-Girl dodging bullets, but it was delivered in the laziest, stupidest-looking way. Why cut every time someone moves an arm? I mean, maybe it was because they needed a stuntman (stunt-girl?) for Hit-Girl, but people have been using stuntmen for decades without it look like crap.

Anyway. The trailer for Kick-Ass 2 was funny, but ehhhh. Figure I’m good.

Open thread. What’re you reading/watching/hearing/enjoying?

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The White Man’s Burden, Not The Black Man’s Dream

March 27th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

It’s frivolous in the face of this, but it bears being said: everything matters when it comes to race and racism. Even these stupid old comic books that I spend my time reading. Everything is a brick in the wall or a straw sitting on the camel’s back. Race, as a concept, is ingrained in our society and way of thinking. It’s inescapable.

That understanding, that knowledge of the fact that race is way more than just the Ku Klux Klan and being scared of black people, is why I looked at Mark Millar’s assertion that he was going to create a top 10 black hero with the sidest of side-eyes. A quote, again:

’cause here’s the thing. Millar sees dollar signs. He’s over here thinking “Black people are cool now, guys!” and trying to figure out how to get a black dollar. He wants to ride a wave, to capitalize (and please believe I mean “convert into capital,” meaning dollars) on a trend, and that trend? That trend is my life. It’s not even a trend at all, it’s the blood that runs through my veins and my mom’s and my grandparents’ and everyone before them. I’ve been reduced to a column on a spreadsheet.

And I’m supposed to trust a guy whose idea of Cool Black is Samuel L Jackson, who was surprised that black people suffer from the same conditions as white people, who has consistently portrayed black people as objects of scorn for his white protagonists, who made a big to-do about creating an “African-American Hulk” in his crappy comics so that he could do a joke about how it’s weird that people call black Brits African-American sometimes and have a dude living like he’s straight out of a rap video to create a top 10 black hero? A guy who sees dollar signs, rather than dreams, when he thinks of black people? “You speak to me in words and I look at you with feelings.” There’s a gap in there between us, and it’s not a nice one.

Millar setting himself up to put coloreds at the forefront of comics sounds like another overseer to me, to be perfectly frank. Or at best, somebody who doesn’t know nothing about nothing attempting to do me a favor, even though every single other favor he’s done has gone down in flames. It’s the white man’s burden in four colors. “There are no popular black superheroes… I shall have to create one!” No. I reject your whole position and whatever lazy high concept comic book that comes out of it. Holler at me when there’s ten writers in mainstream comics who are black, and then you can talk to me about doing me a favor. In fact, just do me one favor, Mark. Don’t do me no more favors.

I spent a few years on this blog relating black history and comics in an attempt to… I don’t know, exactly. Part of it was sort of examining myself, part of it was an earnest attempt to point out when and where comics companies got race right and wrong. Overall, though, it was a reminder. “Black people love this stuff, too, and we’ve even contributed in a major way to the field.”

I’ve been reading comics since I was old enough to read. I graduated from David Michelinie to Judy Blume and stories featuring Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown. This stuff is in my blood. I couldn’t escape it if I tried. I’m just as much of a fan as Comic Book Guy. But I’m never treated like one, not by the companies I grew up loving. It’s the story of America writ small, drawn into a 9-grid. A crucial part of the evolution of the country or format, but downgraded to second class citizens when it comes time for representation. Racism is fractal like that. It winds its way from your thoughts, into your choices, into your society, into your world view, and then into your society, into your choices, and then into your thoughts. It’s self-perpetuating.

I didn’t do any Black History Month posts this year. I thought last year’s creator-focused approach was a nice send-off, and to be frank, it’s pretty emotionally exhausting to spend the month thinking real hard about black pathology and representation in comics. I think the creator-only approach was good, because I later finally realized that Marvel and DC do not, and will not, ever care about black people. If blacks had money, they’ll court them, and they have over in relatively minor ways over the years. But when it gets right down to it… Marvel and DC, two for-profit corporations, won’t care until the dollar signs are there, the fans won’t care because the characters don’t matter, the creators won’t get a leg up because the corporations don’t care, and I was just busting my fists against a stone wall instead of using my brain.

I’m working on course-correcting, but it’s a new way of thinking. Ever since childhood times, “comics” has always been a synonym for “Marvel and DC, and then maybe some other folks.” But if something or someone isn’t giving you what you need, and making no noises to imply that they might in the future, bounce. They don’t care about you. They don’t even really like you, unless you’re toeing the company line and paying cash money for their comics. The stuff that I like? That I consistently praise to the high heavens? Those are exceptions. Those aren’t things that Marvel and DC make bank off of. I was stupid for expecting the Big Two to change. They have no reason to. None at all. None that make business sense, anyway.

So, why stay? Why continually put yourself through this torture? You like the characters? I like a lot of things I don’t take part in any more. There’s always going to be new characters to enjoy, so why stay after they have proven that they don’t need you? Why stick around and let mercenaries like Millar come in out of the sun like vultures, ready to fix things by taking advantage of you and your culture?

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nah, son.

March 25th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Same dude that said this, for the record:

“While down at the shops, I saw a black guy with [Down syndrome]. Amazing, as this is something my friends and I had queried for years. Is DS genetically localized to Caucasians. Yes, I’m now about to waste 20 mins phoning a couple of my pals to say so, but now me appetite has been whet and I’m curious if there are any Chinese or Indian Downs Syndrome people out there. Given that Scotland is almost entirely white my chances of seeing one here are slim, but I’m certainly on the look out now.”

Since deleted off his forums, of course. I had to dig it, and a couple other choice bits, up a couple years ago when the ending of Kick Ass gave me a screwface. I’m sure you’ve seen his other comics that make being black into something exotic or terrible, yeah?

That’s mighty white of ya, Mark, but I think we’ll be okay. We can handle this one on our own, buddy. We’re good, really. Go on ahead and keep doing your thing. Over there. Go thataway.

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Uh Oh, Here Comes Trouble

March 14th, 2012 Posted by guest article

Guest article by Fletcher “Syrg” Arnett.

(Quick warning to all you readers: may want to save this one for home. Some images are possibly less than work-appropriate.)

Years back, I bought, and then wrote about, a weird miniseries called Marville. It was a six-issue title that had a quasi-seventh issue. As far as I could ever tell, not finding a copy of it myself, the final issue was nothing but instructions on how to submit a pitch to the soon-to-be-relaunched Epic Comics imprint of Marvel. That relaunch would basically be about as much of a fiasco as Marville itself. I started looking around for as much information on it as I could. It seemed like a good idea – be a line that would allow for creator-owned works in the Marvel wheelhouse, and let some young upstarts work on properties which didn’t get much attention.

From what I can find, a total of fourteen issues were published under Epic before it was shut down and abandoned a year later.

I’ve looked around for any backissues, just to see what the quality of what came out was like, but the only thing I ever found, or that most people would have heard of from the line, was a Mark Millar miniseries. It was called Trouble. And I may be the only man on this Earth who liked it. (Yes, I know that the nerd-Hulk was apparently a fan in a later Ultimates story. I said our Earth for a reason, you pedant.)

I’m exaggerating a little – someone else out there has to like it. For some reason it got a hardcover trade last year, 8 after its initial publication. It’s the first time that a solicited collection of the series actually came to market. (Apparently one was announced and then quietly canned due to the book’s weak sales.) Still, it’s easily a unique work among the rest of Millar’s catalog. I’ve heard a lot of his work referred to as “popcorn flick” comics, especially since he began writing books to be turned into films directly – well, Trouble is basically “romantic comedy comics”. Or maybe something a little less mature, “teen sex comedy” comics. It’s got a real American Pie vibe to it.

And yes, just because I’m sure some of you are thinking it right now – this is the book where a young May gets teen pregnant and has a baby named Peter. I don’t hold this against the book for a single instant, since it’s pretty apparent that it’s not that May and that Peter.

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How Ultimate Red Skull Could Have Worked

August 7th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Mark Millar’s in the news due to how his comic Nemesis is officially being turned into a movie. That’s good a reason as any to talk about him. Usually when his name comes up on this site, it’s David cursing his name for saying or writing something stupid. David does not like that guy. I see Millar in a different light.

As a writer, Mark Millar is an extreme mixed bag. His stories are filled to the brim with lots and lots of ideas and it’s a crapshoot on which ones are going to be good and which ones are going to be bad. Most of the time, the bad overshadows the good. Sometimes the contrast causes the story to implode upon itself. Though sometimes it’s also the lack of real substance outside of, “Here’s some crazy shit!” that does that.

It’s telling that two of my favorite Millar stories are Red Son and Civil War (the miniseries itself, not the event). Morrison had a hand in Red Son, giving it an ending that really glued the whole story together. Civil War became more interesting after seeing Tom Brevoort post Millar’s original idea for the series before Brevoort had to play damage control. No pun intended. Millar’s original concept involved killing off Happy Hogan and Pepper’s non-existent child, having Thor come back as part of the series and including Hulk’s return from space as something everyone teams up against. One of the ideas with the Hulk part was that Hulk had so much space poon that the superheroes are challenged by an army of Hulk babies.

I find it funny that the unused Hulk babies idea became one of the bigger ingredients for Old Man Logan later down the line.

Millar belongs to the pantheon of writers who really need a filter of some kind or their writing reaches unfortunate levels of insanity. Other members of this club include Jeph Loeb, Vince Russo and John Kricfalusi. Granted, I hold Millar in higher regard than the rest.

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Read Fewer Comics

June 29th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Hey, let’s talk about Rise of Arsenal some more!


Let’s do some math instead. According to my hyper-literate, arithmetically-impaired brain, comics are, at first glance, 50% writing and 50% art. In reality, the scales are probably tilted a little more toward 25% vs 75%, since you can look at a comic and see the art but not even notice the words, but ride with me here. I have a point and I’ll not let numbers stand in my way.

1. Good Writing + Good Art = Good Comic
2. Good Writing + Bad Art = Bad Comic
3. Bad Writing + Good Art = Bad Comic

This is a boiled down version of how I judge comics. Both halves of a comic have to work in concert to tell the story. If one half isn’t pulling its weight, then the other half suffers. A comic with bad art or bad writing is like watching a wonderfully cast movie with excellent dialogue, but with sound editing done by a three year old. It doesn’t work, it’s clashing and ugly, and there’s no reason to put up with it.

Bad writing can be any number of things. Same-y dialogue, lackluster plotting, crap pacing, or simply being boring all count as bad. Bad art is similarly varied. Unrealistic proportions are not bad by default–Chris Bachalo and Eiichiro Oda being two examples of people who twist and contort figures and it all looks fantastic–but when used poorly (read: looks like crap), it’s crap. Poorly designed layouts are another thing that can kill art, as well as being blatantly photo-referenced.

Good is easier. If you look at it and go, “I like this!” Congrats! You have found good writing and/or art! Embrace it and watch your enjoyment of comics increase!

Grant Morrison and Mark Millar are the all-time champions of this sort of thing. Morrison’s had his Batman scripts drawn by Philip Tan, Tony Daniel, and one particularly bad issue by Ryan Benjamin. The middle third of his run on New X-Men is frustratingly ugly, with Igor Kordey and Ethan Van Sciver turning in some subpar work. Millar’s the opposite. He’s worked with John Romita Jr, Steve McNiven, Leinil Francis Yu, Frank Quitely, and several other artists who deserved better stories.

Jeph Loeb sits in this strange middle ground between the two. He’s a solidly average writer, but his extreme lows (Ultimatum, Ultimates 3) were paired with artists like Joe Madureira or David Finch. When working with Tim Sale or Ed McGuinness, or really anyone who’s worked on Hulk with him, he delivers scripts that usually don’t get in the way of the art. You could make a case for the constant narration boxes being distracting, but Loeb does simple, crowd-pleasing books. If I had to pick between Loeb working with Ed McGuinness and Millar working with him, I’d choose Loeb every time.

I decided a while back that I’d stop settling when reading comics. No more paying money for things that make me go, “I like it, but.” No more suffering through sub-par art to get a Grant Morrison story. No more forcing myself to read a Mark Millar script just so I can see what John Romita Jr is drawing this month.

I’m a picky comics reader by choice. I could sit through Greg Land or Salvador Larroca just to keep up with what’s going on, but I don’t think that’s worth it. These are just stories. They aren’t so important that I have to know, and if I’m reading comics for fun, I’d have to be stupid to willingly put myself through something that detracts from that. I like comics more since I started reading fewer of them. Funny how that works out.

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Don’t believe the hype.

April 15th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The nice thing about the internet is that even if you erase all of the stupid, hateful, idiotic things you say on your forums, someone out there has hung onto it. I wanted to post a couple of his greatest hits from a few years back, maybe 06, 07, that are now lost to time. A little not safe for work googling (“rape of wonder woman mark millar” and “black down syndrome mark millar,” for instance) and bam, just as I remembered them:

“While down at the shops, I saw a black guy with [Down syndrome]. Amazing, as this is something my friends and I had queried for years. Is DS genetically localized to Caucasians. Yes, I’m now about to waste 20 mins phoning a couple of my pals to say so, but now me appetite has been whet and I’m curious if there are any Chinese or Indian Downs Syndrome people out there. Given that Scotland is almost entirely white my chances of seeing one here are slim, but I’m certainly on the look out now.”

“I pitched this to DC for a laugh years back. The idea was that, like Death of Superman, we had Rape of Wonder Woman; a twenty-two page rape scene that opened up into a gatefold at the end just like Superman did.”

Johanna Draper Carlson recently posted another amazing idea:

(This dislike of his work runs in the family. Back in the day, Millar pitched KC a terrible Legion proposal that included all kinds of awful ideas, like Fertile Lass, whose power was to get pregnant whenever a boy looked at her. See? Another bad taste concept that doesn’t go anywhere.)

Aw, he’s just joshin’, ain’t he?

The ending of Kick-Ass? The one where all his heroism was for naught and he ends on a down note? That note is his father banging a black lady on the couch, his girlfriend dating a black guy and texting him pictures of her going down on him, and a little girl beating up a couple of prepubescent black thugs.

Marc-Oliver Frisch got it right.

Y’all like him, though.

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This Is What They Think About You

March 21st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Mark Millar’s much-ballyhooed Ultimate Avengers is introducing two new characters to the Ultimate universe: “Nerd Hulk,” which is pretty self-explanatory, and something he’s been calling “African-American Hulk.”

CBR just released advance solicits for the June Ultimate books, which covers Ultimate Avengers 2, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Ultimate X. Check out the Ultimate Avengers 2 solicitation:

Written by MARK MILLAR
Pencils & Cover by LEINIL FRANCIS YU
Nick Fury’s Avengers have assembled: Black Widow, The Punisher, a new Hulk, War Machine and Hawkeye are souped-up and ready to face Hell…literally. Evil’s emissary comes in the form of The Ghostrider, a mysterious new villain sent to collect Satan’s debts: human lives. But how do you fight the devil and his men? With big guns and even bigger cojones. Who lives, who survives? Who knows? But it’ll be one hellish ride!! Join superstars MARK MILLAR and LEINIL FRANCIS YU in another heart-pumping adventure!
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

And the cover image:

Well, there’s your “African-American Hulk.”

I mean, honestly? Where is this guy from, 1987?

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How Kick-Ass Ran Out of Gas

March 16th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

For a couple days, my neck of the woods has been victim of a pretty bad rainstorm. The kind that has people calling into where you work just to ask if you have power because they don’t and they need some place to be. The kind that has you find new routes getting home because there are trees littering the streets and, in one case, crashed into a house. The kind where you lose your cable, but are fortune enough to still have electricity and water, unlike half of the town.

So without any internet during this time, I decided it was finally time to get to reading Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass.

I picked up the hardcover last week because the movie trailer makes it look fun and the JRJR art is really nice. Unlike my associate hermanos, I don’t normally hate on Millar. A lot of the time, I enjoy his work. I even didn’t mind anything about the infamous Red Skull flashback in Ultimate Avengers #5 until Millar pussied out about how even though Skull forced a woman to horrifically murder her husband and then tossed a baby out the window, he would NOT be committing any rape, no sir. Such an idea is unbefitting of a reimagining of a proud Nazi war criminal. No, dead children plus horrific murder plus ordered rape is only good enough for a reimagining of the Kingpin these days.

It’s that inability to commit that leads to my problem with Kick-Ass. I feel that the comic is really, really good… up to a point. Then the lynchpin is pulled out and the entire thing seems to implode. I’m going to be getting into some major spoilers, so if you’re waiting for the movie, this isn’t the article for you.

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Psyche, Just Kidding Guys!

March 15th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Mark Millar on the opening scene of Ultimate Avengers #5:

PS Wasp wasn’t raped. These guys were political torturers, but it wasn’t sexual. Sexual violence in Marvel books is a bit weird and I’ve avoided since I started (as far as I recall) as this stuff is all available to kids.

from ultimate avengers #5, words by millar, art by pacheco, inks by dexter vines

Political torture? What did they do, tie her to a chair and read her some Glenn Beck quotes? Did they get into a really, really heated debate over healthcare? Maybe diss her for voting Perot? Did they make fun of her for thinking that dead prez’s (bounce to this…) socialist movement was going anywhere?

Did they make her cry when they carefully explained that no one will ever spend as much on education as they do on war?

C’mon, son.

We don’t believe you, you need more people.

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