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Who Cares About Comics, Anyway?

August 5th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Comics are a bastard medium.

It isn’t fine art. Even the commercial art doesn’t quite stick– it’s for sale, yeah, but it’s still somewhere between the two.

Comics are for children. They feature men in tights re-enacting the same simple good versus evil fights they’ve been doing for decades. How deep do you think Batman vs the Joker really goes? Don’t even try to play the “graphic novel” card– graphic novels are just comics with a spine.

The time of comics being worth a grip of money is over, too. It kind of blows my mind when I see people buying variant books for twenty bucks. I have trouble paying more than ten cents a page– why would you go for a dollar a page? Do you really expect that much of a return on your investment? That comic is worthless, son, and it isn’t going to make you money. The ’90s are dead and gone.

Comics are the red-headed stepchild of Hollywood. How many IP farms are out there now? How many people write comics that are obviously movie pictures or storyboards in sequential art form? How many Hollywood writers drop in, dabble a bit, and drop back out, sometimes mid-series? Hollywood options are big news these days– why? Easy: Hollywood is where the money is, friends. Money talks.

Comics are a bastard medium. Not quite fine art, not quite commercial art. Disrespected, not respected, and used as a stepping stone. What do comics have to lose? Nothing at all.

Why not take greater advantage of that?

I love Gotham Central. It’s a great little police procedural. Everything from the writing down to the art clicks. But, take a look at it. It looks like it could have been The Wire or The Shield. It’s staged and laid out like a TV show. It’s got realistic angles, establishing shots, and pretty realistic looking characters. This could’ve easily been a TV show. I’m not dissing or anything. The realism is a point of pride for the series, I’m sure.

Comics can do Hollywood. Hollywood is easy. However, can Hollywood do this?



Look at that. Hyper-compressed information dump gives way to a wonderfully wide open two page spread. The eighteen panel grid is positively claustrophobic. The lack of words and panel size forces you to take your time and pore over each panel. The panels even reflect the reality of the situation. They’re inside an oppressive military facility, and when they escape? A wide open breath of fresh air.

What about the insane style switches in Seven Soldiers #1?

Comics can do so much that movies cannot. However, the general style at the Big Two, and even beyond, tend to stick to realism. Chris Bachalo and Humberto Ramos are a nice look, but work by them, and those like them, is fairly rare.

David Aja made wonderful use of the comics page in his work on Immortal Iron Fist. He kept the straight-forward, realistic storytelling and flipped it. Each strike gets its own panel. Iron Fist dances around the comics page in a scene that would take a split second of action in a movie. He makes the page part of the story.

I loved We3. There are a ton of little narrative tricks and details that force you to read the book slowly and take it all in. The spread above, of the animals attacking the soldiers, is more exciting than bullettime was when the Matrix hit. Every single action gets its place in time. If you look at the panels in order, it’s like looking at a film strip.

No one cares about comics, so comics can get away with a lot. Grant Morrison’s Flex Mentallo is one of my favorite comics. It tells the tale of a forgotten superhero and how you can make fiction a reality. It’s a love letter to comics and it flits from era to era over the course of the series. It’s brave.

We need more Flex Mentallos. Tell a story that might not sell, but is worth the time. Marvel’s started moving in this direction with their revamped Marvel Knights series. Who’d have thought that a story about Daredevil’s Dad would be an excellent comic?

There’s a lot of attention paid to continuity, as well. Things have to line up just so or else the story is ruined.

Screw that.

Keep the stories internally consistent, but go wild. I may not like Marvel Zombies very much, but I can respect what it represents. Take advantage of the fact that most of these characters are unbreakable. Toss Captain America into 1602, sure. Pop Spider-Man into feudal Japan. What if Luke Cage was in his ’20s in 1930s Harlem? What did the Black Panther cult do to fight colonization in Africa?

Take your characters and bend them. If they break, guess what– you can just dial it back to what it was before. You don’t need Continuity Patch Comix. Fans aren’t stupid. If you say “That was then, this is now,” they will assuredly grumble. They’ll grumble regardless, to be honest. But, they’ll get over it. They always do.

Spider-Man made it through the Clone Saga. Batman made it through the ’90s. Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Emma Frost, and a host of other d-list characters are headlining now. You can’t break these characters, so don’t treat them like fine china. Throw them against the wall. They’ll bounce back.

Comics need to start acting like comics. No one expects anything out of them but a story that goes from A to B to (sometimes) C. If no one expects anything out of you, you’re free to do what you like.

We need more Seth Fishers.

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Aim For It!! Little Misty! Episodes 1-4

October 6th, 2007 Posted by Hoatzin

I miss Seven Soldiers.

 mistychan1.jpg mistychan2.jpg mistychan3.jpg mistychan4.jpg

(Shameless ripoff of those weird Japanese comic strips.)

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Read Good Comics: Firestorm #33

February 28th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Firestorm has had a rocky run recently, but the quality has never wavered. Jason Rusch’s coming of age tale has been smart, interesting, and well-drawn. I even got Jamal Igle to sign the Firestorm trade I bought at the con that collects the One Year Later story arc… and is also the only collection out.

firestorm33_cover.jpg Yes, lads and ladies, DC’s crap trades department put out a trade of a series 20-odd issues in and are going to cancel the series with #35 in April. A few trades earlier on and Firestorm could’ve built an audience. C’mon, DC! You’ve got Time Warner backing you. If Marvel can trade every series ever, including Marvel Nemesis: The Imperfects, you can do it, too! The bookstores are the future!

No biggie, though! There’s nothing wrong with buying canceled books, especially ones that look as good as this. Stuart Moore and Jamal Igle had a great run, but Dwayne McDuffie and Ken Lashley are on tap for the final three issues. Here’s the solicit for #33.

The superstar creative team of Dwayne McDuffie (JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, STATIC), Dan Jurgens (Superman, Captain America) and Ken Lashley (The Flash) bring Firestorm to bold new heights! Jason Rusch and Prof. Martin Stein just want to get their lives back to normal, but the New Gods have other plans! When Orion comes looking for Prof. Stein, you can bet a throwdown’s not far behind! Guest-starring the Seven Soldiers’ Mister Miracle!

C’mon, now. You’re a comics fan on the internet. I know that you liked Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Dwayne McDuffie was behind a lot of the cool stuff on that show, so Firestorm #33 is pretty much guaranteed to deliver a good-sized bang for your three bucks.

Still not convinced? Look here for an interview and a quick preview. Jason Rusch is growing up, gaining confidence in his powers, and is still rookie enough to make Orion mad.

It drops today, it’s got New Gods, super-science, and a quality protagonist. We may not be able to save the series before it’s canceled, but we can read a good story along the way.

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Comic-con Stuff

February 22nd, 2007 Posted by david brothers

The 4l crew (myself, Gavin, and Wilde) are hitting the NY Comic-con this weekend. If you want to meet up, send your info to 4thletter@gmail.com!

I get in Thursday afternoon, with the other two arriving Thursday evening. We’ll see how this goes, hey?

Anyway, I figured that I want to get a few trades signed while I’m there. Here’s what I’m packing and who I want to sign it.

Annihilation Vol 1 HC – Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Keith Giffen
Seven Soldiers Vol 1-4 – Everyone
Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill – Oeming
Thor Visionaries Vol 1: Walt Simonson
Wildcats 3.0 vol 1 – Dustin Nguyen
Echo: Vision Quest – David Mack
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines

I’m also taking my DS and a few novels for the trip. The Death And Life Of Superman by Roger Stern (I wonder if I can get that signed?), Green Lantern Sleeper Book One by Christopher Priest, Black Girl Lost by Donald Goines (not comics), No Dominion by Charlie Huston (not comics), and maybe one or two others. I do not know yet!

We shall see how this goes. Blogging may be light, depending on internet access.

Is there anything that we absolutely have to hit? This is my first con, so I kind of want to see all the cool stuff I can. I think we’re meeting up with some goons, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll make the PopCultureShock party on Saturday night. I want to pack my schedule and hang out with cool cats.

Anyone else attending?

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Omelet, eggs, etc.

October 25th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

There are probably spoilers for 52 in this picture, so don’t click unless you want to be spoiled and/or absolutely terrified and have nightmares.

dc52week25-021.jpgIt’s a logic problem. How do you turn a ugly asian stereotype into a believable comic character?

You turn him into a hideous freaking death dealing robot machine thing. Holy moley. I thought Egg-fu showing up was just a joke, but this is an insane inversion of my expectations here. Gone are all the stereotypical features, in are robot death arms and a Mojo-mobile. Whoof.

This was kind of an insanely good week for comics. Seven Soldiers #1 was the event comic of forever, Deathblow #1 featured Brian Azzarello sporting a kind of Batman-esque sense of humor to good effect, Loveless #12 was a shock and a half, 52 was good, Black Panther had a great setup and more than a few great Storm moments… good week.

Too bad Wildcats #2 is pushed back to March!

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Catching up…

October 13th, 2006 Posted by david brothers

Okay, I’ve got some room to breathe, so let’s close some tabs and hit you guys off with some knowledge!

Seven Soldiers #1 is almost here! Scope the seven page preview for a look at what is sure to be a great finale to the best megaseries ever. Oh, baby, October 25th can’t come quick enough!

I’ve got a three part interview with Brian Azzarello that is honestly a must-read. Part one, part two, and part three. As usual, 100 Bullets is the best comic ever go buy it blah blah Loveless blah blah Deathblow blah blah awesome. Seriously, Azz writes great stuff, so check his interviews and buy his books. We get confirmation (again, possibly) that DC is going to support 100 Bullets through to the end, so I’m a happy camper.

Lisa Fortuner discusses the uncanny valley in comics and I pop up in the comments feed. This could turn out to be an interesting discussion, but only I’ve commented so far.

Gavok is a stupidhead. That’s not a link or anything, I just wanted to let you know that he’s got a funny face.


Now, I’ve got a personal rule on this site, which I’ve technically already broken by writing about Patriot a while back. I don’t like to talk about comics that I don’t like. I do enough of dealing with stuff I dislike in real life, you know? I don’t hold Gavok or Thomas to this rule, it’s just a personal thing. I don’t like to talk about bad comics unless I can get a laugh out of it or there’s some larger point behind it. Bruce Jones on Nightwing? :loleyes:. Winick on [variable]? :lol: again. Millar on Civil War?

I could say a lot. Instead, I’ll just say this: read Giffen on Annihilation instead. It’s the best “big event” going on right now. Civil War has had some sweet tie-ins (Wolverine, Captain America) but the main series is a joke.

On the other hand, Annihilation has Drax and his young sidekick Cammi, a not-stupid Richard “Nova” Rider, Gamora, planets exploding, Galactus as a weapon of mass destruction, Annihilus with the quantum bands, Annihilus killing Quasar to get the quantum bands, Quasar being killed, Thanos as scheming trickster god, and Phyla-vell. It is excellent and well worth your time. Also, Quasar died in it.

More detailed content later on. I need to take some time to chillax. I updated the sidebar, by the way. Can you tell what’s new?

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