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On Obligatory Critical Discourse

October 5th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

When the topic of “feeling obligated to contribute to the critical discourse” came up during the SPX 2009 Critics’ Roundtable, I rolled my eyes a little. If you’re feeling obligated, you’re doing it wrong and you should probably chill out a little. However, discourse that occurs organically, out of respect for the work or the emotions it caused in you, is a great thing. It’s nothing you can force into being.

Two of my favorite bloggers are Tucker Stone and Matthew J Brady. Maybe it’s because we share sensibilities. Maybe it was that night we had to bury a body in Juarez. Whatever the reason, I tend to enjoy reading what these two guys come up with, even if I don’t agree.

Critical discourse is what happened when all three of us reviewed Pluto at different points in time, from different perspectives, and found different things to enjoy about it. Matthew recently posted a review that praises the emotional investment Urasawa instills in his readers by way of some well-executed facial expressions and pacing. Tucker juxtaposed it with the maturation of American comics, or rather the immaturatization, kind of like I did a while back. At the same time, I fell in love with the fact that one of the central conceits in the book, whether or not robots count as human, is a smokescreen, a purely surface level reading that is quickly proven to be a falsehood.

You can read Pluto’s first volume and get everything you need out of the series. It could be that robots can be people. It can be that Urasawa is a master artist. It can also be that Pluto approaches comics for adults in a way that American comics generally don’t. Compare the treatment of death in Blackest Night, DC’s All-Zombies All-Death All-the-time crossover and in Pluto 1-3. Look at which one treats death like it matters, and which treats death as overwrought melodrama. (Blackest Night is a bad crossover full of bad comics.)

All three of our takes are valid interpretations and all three are ripe for discussion. What’s nice is that I don’t think any of this came about because we felt like Someone Had To Discuss Pluto. We weren’t trying to prove that we’re real critics, or writers, or whatever, by contributing opinions because we felt like we had to. That’s a stupid and self-centered way to approach things. “I’m smart, smart people do this, so let me do this, too, to show that I am smart.”

Post-script: Tucker was right when he said that Pluto “is better than you heard it was.”

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Gentlemen, this has been a triumph.

August 17th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

The staff at Tucker Stone’s The Factual Opinion went on vacation last week, so he called in a few favors for his Comics of the Weak column. Who showed up? Let’s see…

How’s Joe McCulloch, Tim O’Neil, Timothy Callahan, Sean Witzke, Noah Berlatsky, Matthew Brady, Chris Mautner, and yours truly sound?

If this volume of Comics of the Weak was a rap song, it’d be Triumph and I’d be Raekwon. “Ayo, that’s amazing, gun in your mouth talk…”

Go and read.

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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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On Katsuhiro Otomo

May 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Early this week, Matthew Brady linked to a great lecture on Katsuhiro Otomo by Kentaro Takekuma. Click through, give it a read.

I’m a big Otomo fan, in part because Akira was one of the first anime I ever watched. The anime led me to the manga, which led me to the (awesome) colorized Marvel/Epic versions, which in turn led me to the (slightly less awesome) Dark Horse reprints. I’ve got three of the hardbacks Marvel and Dynamite Forces put out in the ’90s, even. I’d love to get the ones I’m missing in hardback form, but finding those seems to be pretty tough.

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