The Cipher 05/25/11: Hip-Hop Is Dead Edition

May 25th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

I messed around and got bored, so this is closed for business. In the meantime, here’s something from Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira 2:

These aren’t good comics. They’re best comics. Visit Otomblr for more. I’m starting to think that people should be making comics that are at least trying to be as good or better than Akira. It’s cool if you don’t make that mark (it’s a high, but worthy mark) but if you’re just taking paychecks… nah son. Feed your family first, but holler at me when you make something worth reading.

Here’s a song I like off Killer Mike’s Pl3dge:

You should cop that album. There’s four or five serious bangers, and the worst it gets is “pretty okay.” And even “pretty okay” gets an upgrade to “good” thanks to a Big Boi assist on the remix.

Here’s some comics some people are probably buying this week:
David: Xombi 3, Power Man and Iron Fist 5
Esther: Yes: Xombi 3 Maybe: Action Comics 901, Detective Comics 877, Green Arrow 12
Gavin: Green Lantern Corps 60, Green Lantern Emerald Warriors 10, Green Lantern 66, Incorruptible 18, Astonishing Spider-Man Wolverine 6, Captain America 618, Deadpool 37, FF 4, Incredible Hulks 629, Iron Man 2.0 5, Namor The First Mutant 10, Power Man And Iron Fist 5, Secret Avengers 13, Secret Warriors 27, Venom 3

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The Cipher 05/18/11: Cape Comics Are Dead Edition

May 18th, 2011 Posted by david brothers


five manga for hollywood

jacques tardi is pretty cool

digital comics, censored comics, blah blah blah


-I wanted to keep with my new format of discussing two works or bits of art I liked, but I’m on the run eating today, in addition to flirting with burnout and depression simultaneously!

-Brief bites, like the old school ciphers of two or three weeks ago. New format returns next week. Fewer complaints, too, I hope.

-The promised album reviews will have to wait, too, ugh

-One bit of art I liked from Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira:

-That coach is the greatest.

-Sometimes I go through phases of really believing that cape comics have a chance of evolving and sticking around, rather than navel-gazing their way into oblivion. And then I see the sales charts and find out that John Rozum and Frazer Irving’s Xombi shipped 12k and get depressed and bitter. Twelve thousand is pretty bad, particularly in today’s crappy comics market.

-I keep forgetting that the echo chamber that is the people I correspond with isn’t made of the traditional direct market consumer.

-Cape comics fans don’t want new, or diverse, or fresh, or even really interesting. They want what they have always had, but maybe slightly different from the last time. Maybe a new face, but not too new, in some old clothes, or an old face back from the dead and a little sexier.

-David Finch’s incredibly ugly, boring, and awful The Dark Knight came in at #4, and a couple books saw sales spikes for Reign of Doomsday.

-This is the comics industry we’ve built, and it’s gross.

About as gross as this.

-Knowing how the sausage is made makes it harder to like comics, I think. My mistake.

-I think that the Mindless annocommentations for Batman Inc may be more entertaining than the comic they’re discussing.

-The death of Carlos Trillo is a bummer.

-Mainstream comics: I’m currently regularly buying Hellblazer, Heroes for Hire, Hulk, Power Man and Iron Fist, and Xombi.

-That’s my “pull list.”

-They’re consistently good, fairly free of stupid event-based shenanigans, and just tell good stories, month-in, mouth-out. Those are the most basic things that’ll get me to buy a comic.

-(The art on Heroes for Hire is frustratingly shaky, though.)

-I buy a lot of trades and digital books, too, but these are the only ones I buy on any sort of schedule beyond “Oh, is that out?”

-I realize that my Xombi complaint is pretty much “Why don’t people like the things I like” *throws teddy bear against the wall*, don’t get me wrong. But, that doesn’t make the fact that new books do not, and apparently will never, sell any less depressing.

-My policy is generally “Like what you like, because who cares,” but sometimes I slip.

-But it’s whatever. I’ll read something good this week (probably Hellblazer, which sells less than Xombi but has the benefit of being a Name comic in some way), forget about the fact that most comics fans don’t share my taste, and go back to gushing about how great whatever the last comic I read was.

-That comic’ll probably be Charles Schulz’s Peanuts.


David: Hellblazer 279, Heroes For Hire 7, Hulk 33, Thunderbolts 157
Esther: Yes: Tiny Titans 40, Batman and Robin 23, Superman/Batman 84 Possibly: Power Girl 24
Gavin: Batman And Robin 23, Booster Gold 44, Darkwing Duck 12, Avengers Academy 14, Avengers 13, Deadpool MAX 8, Herc 3, Heroes For Hire 7, Hulk 33, Skaar King Of The Savage Land 3, Thunderbolts 157, Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates 4, Uncanny X-Force 10

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The Cipher 05/11/11: The Adventures of Bomb Freak and Gun Nut

May 11th, 2011 Posted by david brothers


Buy these digital comics! Read this digital news! Do as I say!

Khari Evans’s work on Carbon Grey is pretty neat

Here is the only list you need to read of the top 25 comics movies, imoo (in my objective opinion).


-Been thinking a lot about what comics can’t do lately. There are some things that require something more than comics can give–silence, for example.

-Silence is the absence of sound. It’s tough to portray silence in comics. It’s not the same as wordlessness, not really. If you’ve ever seen a scene in a movie where the music drops out and every word hits like a hammer to the skull–that’s so powerful thanks to silence. It dials your attention down to a single point. It turns “It tastes like you but sweeter!” from a mean diss into a gunshot.

-Car chases, too. You can do them in comics, sure, but I don’t think you can top what you’d see in Bullitt or Dirty Harry. Car chases need motion, the blur of scenery, and jockeying for position. They need squeals. It never feels right in comics. Kenichi Sonoda’s Gunsmith Cats had some good car chase bits, but the most memorable one took place on an empty highway.

-Foot chases in comics, though? Those are great. Frank Miller on Daredevil, for example. Comics made rooftops magical. I got mad when I grew up and found out how hard it was to get to the roof of buildings.

-Slow walks toward the camera always look corny in comics, too. You can do the slow stroll, but you can’t do it head-on.

-What am I forgetting? Have there been good chases in comics?

-Speaking of Gunsmith Cats, here’s a bit I like from the first volume, which involves something like a car chase:

-One thing Sonoda seems to understand is how limited comics are when it comes to car chases. He always adds some sauce, whether it’s a three-way race, gun battles, or civilians getting in the way. In a later volume, Rally and Bean are faced with the choice of pasting a dude on the highway or wrecking. Instead, they share a glance, jerk their wheels toward each other, and lock their tires, causing their cars to set up on two wheels each in an arc over the dude.

-This bit, though, is really good, underage panties aside. This is how you put a proper chase scene in comics. Sonoda binged on making the cars real and showing progressive damage. The big impact panel features the side mirror on the Lotus breaking off and flying across their windshield. The Mercedes grille is flawless.

-Slipping the girl through the car’s doors is clever, too. It’s the sort of thing Spider-Man should be doing all the time. I’ve seen a couple similar things in movies, like this bit from the otherwise aight Red:

-You have a limitation: motion is limited in comics and sound is portrayed differently. Your goal: how do you surpass the limitations?

-Comics/cartoons crossover: I’ve been watching old episodes of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. I’ve only seen a little of the show, though I own the whole manga. I’d forgotten how Dr. Slump-y it got. Poop jokes, dick jokes, boob jokes… it’s got everything I love. I knew there was a reason I liked it more than DBZ.

-Anyway, the cartoon does something I thought was interesting. Whenever something explodes, the cloud of dust has a “BOM!” sound effect over it. There are a couple others that are used, some in Japanese, some in English, but it’s so interesting to see comics transplanted directly to film like that.

-It makes the show feel very kiddy, if I can say that without having to get all “pow! zoom!” It’s the font they use and the way it appears. It’s very fun, very friendly.

-Another bit from GSC that I liked, though not for any formal reasons.

-I like how much attention Sonoda pays to Rally loading the gun in that first tier of panels. It’s quietly menacing. 2.1 is great, too, with those speed lines Sonoda just throws onto Rally’s arms. The pose and the motion are all good. You can instantly recognize what she just did, and he flips it again for 3.3.

-I really, really enjoy seeing how comics artists solve things like this. How do you show someone spinning a cylinder? Show the thumb and then a blur? Focus on the cylinder? Cheat and draw it all static? Afterimages?

-That lettering is pretty good, too.

This behind the scenes post on Dark Horse’s branding is good.

-This pic is insanely good. I found it on a tumblr that is wild nsfw, but has some really great pictures, including what I thought was a really classy ’70s nude girl but turned out to be from the ’90s. It came from FreshJive.

-Smoking is one of my favorite things in media. It looks unbelievably cool, and in the hands of a proper actor and director, can really enhance a scene. Ladies with cigarette holders breathing clouds into the air while dismissing would-be suitors, thugs lurking in alleys with just the tip of their noses lit by the cigarette, or dudes in an apartment, making murder plans in clouds of smoke… yeah, I love all that.

-Smoking is great for pacing a conversation, too, and it works just as well, if not better, in comics.

-I got like four or five new albums yesterday, but those’ll have to wait. I haven’t had a chance to dig into them just yet, beyond Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin. Expect a big music post, maybe? I like buying music, so probably, yes.

-Oh yeah, I mentioned a Frank Miller piece I couldn’t find last week. Quote:

-There’s this piece Miller did of Miho for some magazine or another. It’s in The Art of Sin City, at any rate. It’s sparse, hardly any details but Miho’s face and pubic hair. It sounds perverted, but it really doesn’t come off like that way. It’s sexy, but not like… gross.

-Turns out I had it sitting on my computer the entire time in my big folder full of Frank Miller Stuff. Click here to see it, but keep in mind that it’s probably nsfw, depending on how your job feels about negative space boobs. It’s from Tripwire apparently. No idea which issue.


David: hates comics this week
Esther: Mais oui! Batgirl 21/ Oui: Birds of Prey 12. Est Possible: Doc Savage 14 (I like the crocodile on the cover.)
Gavin: Batman Incorporated 6, FF 3, Incredible Hulks 628, New Avengers 12, Punisher MAX 12

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The Cipher 04/27/11: “Lees and shell toes like it’s Black History Month”

April 27th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

picture me, lampin’ in the company car

created: blahhhhh

-New milestone: I did a piece for Publishers Weekly on First Second’s digital strategy. I don’t do much actual journalism type stuff, so this was pretty neat.

-I liked Wilfred Santiago’s biography of Roberto Clemente. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente is cheap on Amazon, just about fifteen bucks. I liked it quite a bit, so check out that review.

-You can read Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac for free.99. You absolutely should. Big fan.

Moebius is your favorite artist’s favorite artist. True.

Here go five digital comics you need to get up on. Comic Book Comics, Dwayne McDuffie’s run on Fantastic Four, Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits, Catwoman: Dark End of the Street, and Marineman.

-Here’s video of the iFanboy vs ComicsAlliance panel at Wondercon:

rims like tibetan prayer wheels

consumed: Today sucks like days haven’t sucked in forever, so I’m going to keep this short. Longer next week, I promise.

-Music… I’ve been spinning this mix of David Bowie’s The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and Saul Williams’s The Inevitable Rise and Liberation Of Niggy Tardust. Is it a yin/yang thing? I dunno. The transition from “Rock’n’Roll Suicide” to “Black History Month” (ain’t on youtube, look elsewhere) is pretty crucial. On Twitter, I said “the transition from David Bowie’s Rock’n’Roll Suicide to Saul Williams’s Black History Month is like dying and waking up in the apocalypse.” I dunno. I wish I could set up like a 15 seconds crossfade from one song to the other in iTunes, but not between songs on both albums.

-Black Avengers–Graeme pulled out some quotes from a Brevoort piece on CBR that made some waves on Twitter. I don’t care, but I don’t care in that way that I get mad that other people care.

-It reminds me of the chromatic casting meme from last year (year before?). It’s begging for scraps off the table instead of demanding a seat at the table. I don’t want to buy Black Avengers. If I had to choose, I want to buy some fresh new comics with black characters. I don’t need the Avengers to validate my race or the characters I like.

-Screw the Avengers.

-This sort of thing tends to pop up once or twice a year–somebody gets it into their head that in order to be EQUAL black people need to be the same thing as white people. We need a Black Spider-Man! That’s diversity, right?!

-Black Spider-Man can get deez nutz. I don’t want him at all.

-The worst part about Black Avengers, and I’m using Black Avengers as a term to stand in for the thing I’m talking about, is that it’s so unbelievably short-sighted. It just ends up propping up the old, clumsy, ugly, poisonous, and rotten paradigm that everyone claims they want to get out from under. Let them people have the Avengers. Make something better.

-Oh, you want rock’n’roll? That’s cool, ’cause we’ve got rap.

-Sometimes I seriously hate corporate comics.

-And I said this would be short, but that was a lie, because I wanted to get that poison out of me. I’m not mad about the Black Avengers. I just think it’s a stupid idea (and, like all stupid ideas, one that would work under a talented team) and hate that it became, however briefly, a talking point with regards to race and capes.

-Think it through in both directions, front to back–where did it come from? Where will it lead? What does it mean? Black Avengers thinking is poisonous.

-Crap, what do I like so this isn’t completely composed of me blacking out on dumb ideas…

-JTabon on Twitter made the mistake of Twitting this: “Did a watercolor sketch of Jubilee in a hoodie as a warmup today. @hermanos puts terrible ideas in my head.”

-I think I’d twittered something about girls in fur-lined hoodies, but I don’t feel like looking.

-I called his bluff and told him to post it. Look:

-Dude is dope. Follow him on Twitter if you twit, and if you don’t, check out his website. The top post right now is a really interesting inking practice thing.

I liked this Tim Callahan piece on comics media.

Blu dropped some predictably cryptic liner notes for his new album, in addition to the track list. Really looking forward to No York over here.

-I saw Hanna. I liked it. Too frustrated to write about it right now, though.

It Ain’t No More To It is an attempt to better my writing. I give myself a time limit (15 or 30 minutes) and I don’t allow myself to edit. Once a paragraph is finished, it’s locked in stone, typos and all, and I move on. I barely even edit once I finish a sentence, barring deletion. It’s the raw unfiltered. My sword needs to be sharper, and this seems like an effective way to do it. Think faster, think better.

-Oh yeah, the African Batman has a few pages in Batman Inc 5. His name is David and he has a jetpack. I approve.

-I hope Donald Trump gets punched in the stomach on live TV. How unbelievably disappointing.

nigga, what, i’m a star

David: Power Man and Iron Fist 4, Xombi 2
Esther: Oui: Action Comics 900, Batman Incorporated 5 Peut-être: Xombi 2, Detective Comics 876
Gavin: Batman Inc. 5, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors 9, Justice League: Generation Lost 24, Avengers 12.1, Captain America 617, Deadpool 36, FF 2, Incredible Hulk 627, Namor: The First Mutant 9, Power Man and Iron Fist 4, Secret Avengers 12, Secret Avengers 12.1, Venom 2, Incorruptible 17

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The Cipher 04/13/11: “Golf Wang”

April 13th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

this is what the devil plays before he goes to sleep

created: I haven’t been sleeping well. My throat hurts, so every time I swallow, I wince. Apparently, every time I swallow in my sleep, I wake up. That’s right: I’m the guy who wakes up an hour after taking sleeping pills. It’s had the odd effect of increasing my productivity, though. I’ve been dashing out stuff at work and at home like mad. I’m this close to getting out in front of every deadline I have control over. Crazy.

-Got a lot of irons in the fire (two, in fact, with another probably coming tonight), but all that’s up now is a little bit about Stan Sakai

-and ten Marvel books for June

go to school with this

consumed: But forreal though WHY DOES MY THROAT STILL HURT!!!!!

-Have I linked this Charlie Huston piece at Mulholland Books yet? I like this cat a whole lot, and the conclusion he comes to is interesting. I like his commentary on the piece over here, too.

-You know what’s nice about comics? There’s so many good ones that I can be well-versed in the greats and have a fantastic library without having to give Will Eisner any props for The Spirit and Ebony White. “It was just the times! Ha ha! Not racist!” Nah son, that looks pretty racist, especially for 1972, but I guess ’cause Ebony was an Upstanding Honorable Guy Who Gets The Job Done it’s okay that he’s drawn like a pickaninny. Doing a smug strip like this is dumb, too. Why should I give you the time of day? Sheer skill only goes so far, man. Spotted at Diversions of the Groovy Kind.

-While I’m on the subject I guess:

Jonathan Hickman is the guest on the new Word Balloon podcast. Skip ahead to 1:13:00, when Hickman answers a question and goes into things he wouldn’t feel comfortable writing.

-I can respect Hickman’s point (glibly paraphrased: “I’m not completely comfortable writing black guys because I feel like a faker, and that’s not the kind of writer I want to be”), but at the same time… at a certain point, you gotta man up, man. I (inelegantly) talked about this a while back, but you can’t let the possible reception throw you off your game.

-What’s more, black people aren’t so different from other people. You know what black people hate? Taxes and nagging moms. You know what black people love? …if you do, let me know, ’cause I’m real uncomfortable with the concept the concept of love.

-But seriously, if you can write space aliens, secret histories of the world, and time travel, I’m pretty sure you can write a believable black guy. Just go for it, man. Do some reading. Take a look at some magazines. Flip through a history book. Research it like you would anything else. Run it by a friend. Some people will not like it, others will, so just soak up the feedback (“Oh, so I was a little wrong when I did ______”) and keep it moving. You’ll get better.

-Also, please add some more colored folks to SHIELD. The world’s a big place. Thanks in advance.

-Ellen Page is pretty interesting. I liked her AV Club interview, particularly the stuff on how she chooses to go about her career, and all of these sketches of her by dope artists is pretty cool. As far as Inception goes, her and Joseph Gordon-Levitt shared the only real moment of humanity in the entire movie (the stolen kiss) so I’m pro-Page.

-This is mind-boggling:

-If I tried to pull this as a kid (“Oh, that was a lie. I didn’t mean it, I just wanted to say something.”) my mom would’ve beaten me in the street and I would’ve deserved it. Jon Kyl is either a hero or scum. The country we live in, man. We keep electing creeps.

-Colbert cracks up during this bit, and I really can’t blame him:

-That’s really, really funny stuff, and it gets even funnier because of Colbert breaking character.

-Did anybody see Norm Macdonald’s new show last night? I missed it.

-Norm wasn’t funny to me at all when I was a kid, but he’s legendary these days. Me Doing Stand-Up was funny, and so is stuff like this:

-I pay three bucks a month for Yen Press’s Yen Plus. It’s pretty okay, but the highlight by far is still Kiyohiko Azuma’s Yotsuba&!. Funniest comic, man. I liked this bit from the new chapter. Read it right to left.

-So much of Yotsuba&!‘s humor revolves around being mean to Fuuka.

-Tyler, the Creator’s Bastard came up this morning while it was raining. It triggered a funny thought. I latched onto Jay-Z in a big way once he started talking about his experiences as the child of a single mother. “Where Have You Been?” was incredible to me. I was what, 16? 17? Whenever that Dynasty joint dropped. I was putting that on mix CDs like it was going out of style and at all appropriate to give to a girl you liked. I was that high on it.


Do you even remember the tender boy you turned into a cold young man?
with one goal and one plan: get mommy out of some jam
She was always in one
Always short with the income, always late with the rent
You said that you was comin through
I would stay in the hallway (waitin), always playin the bench (waitin)
And that day came and went
Fuck You! very much you showed me the worst kind of pain
but I’m stronger, and trust me I will never hurt again

-So tell me if this exceprt from Tyler’s Bastard” is all that different from “Where Have You Been?”:

My mother raised me a single parent so it’s apparent
That I got love for my mother, none of you other fuckers
Are much important, I’m getting angrier while recording
I’m feeling like the Bulls, I’ve got a Gang of Wolves
Odd Future is children that’s fucked up on they mental
Simple but probably not, fuck ’em

-Being able to relate to music in some way is vital for me, whether through the pleasure of living someone else’s life or affirming some aspect of my own, and Tyler’s rapping about the same stuff I’ve been struggling with for years. I think I would’ve been an Odd Future fan in high school.

-The beat on “Yonkers” is so hard. I bought it off iTunes a while back, just because.

-Video ain’t safe for work, I guess.

-Wolf Gang.

losers can never win me, you can never offend me

David: Uncanny X-Force 7
Esther: Yes: Batgirl 20 Maybe: Batman and Robin 22, Red Robin 22, Superboy 6 (would have been a yes, but ugh, crossover) New Artist and a Story About Huntress and Catman? Oh, HELL Yes: Birds of Prey 11
Gavin: Batman And Robin 22, Booster Gold 43, Justice League Generation Lost 23, Captain America Fighting Avenger 1, Carnage 4, Deadpool 35, Incredible Hulks 626, Iron Man 2.0 3, New Avengers 11, Punisher MAX 12, Secret Warriors 26, Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates 3, Uncanny X-Force 7

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The Cipher 04/06/11: “Imagine if this was the last rhyme I ever wrote”

April 6th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

i say, one, two, three, four, five, really wanted you to be my wife

created: I read a Wiki article the other day about Impostor syndrome. It’s an interesting read, and I’m pretty sure I waffle between that and a sense of absolutely delusional entitlement regularly.

Ten panels you should’ve seen at Wondercon

A really obvious April Fools’ Day post

X-Men blah blah event blah

and i say six, seven, eight, nine, ten, really wanted you to be my friend

consumed: I went to Wondercon and got sick. I was wrecked yesterday and am only slightly better today, but I should be good to go tomorrow. I hardly ever get sick, so each time is like the end of the world. (What a crybaby.)

Jay Potts got his book funded! I’m really happy that this happened. Black comics, baby! Congrats to Jay. Looking forward to seeing the book.

How Slavery Really Ended In America is an interesting read. I’m only a couple pages in, so maybe it goes south at some point, but thus far? Super interesting.

Zom of the Mindless Ones takes a swing at Frank Miller, Lynn Varley, and Klaus Janson’s Joker, with an eye toward David Bowie. I liked this read. It’s a pretty interesting examination.

-I got the new Fantagraphics catalog in the mail, and guess what’s in it! Michael Kupperman’s Mark Twain’s Autobiography 1910-2010! Kupperman is one of the funniest dudes in comics (it’s him, Kyle Baker, Sergio Aragones, and ???), and his Mark Twain post was super funny. Here’s an excerpt from Tales Designed to Thrizzle 6, one of the funniest comics ever:

So, yes: I’m buying this one as soon as it drops.

The Daily Crosshatch had a good interview with Stan Sakai of Usagi Yojimbo fame.

-Coming via Cheryl Lynn is this bit of dopeness:

SOUL MAN™ Teaser Guillaume Ivernel (Blacklight Movies) from Blacklight Movies on Vimeo.

-Sean Witzke is back to writing about comics, and wow, he’s making my days. On Dan Slott, Marcos Martin, and violence in cape comics:

You want to do the story where Spider-Man saves everyone, makes sure that no one dies, gets some new armor with some cool magnetic webbing, outsmarts the bad guy and rubs it in J Jonah Jameson’s face? Do it without talking about it. Calling all this attention to death, it makes the entire endeavor feel awkward, it consistently points out that this is a problem with reading a superhero comic with real world consequences. If you want to do something old school and tell classic Spidey stories, WHY NOT JUST DO IT? This is caught in the middle and satisfies neither side.

On Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, and action in comics:

This isn’t nostalgia comics, it’s a job for these guys – almost in the mode of the shittiest Batman comics that come out – it has Wolverine and Deadpool in it, and it comes out in 6 weeks, do whatever you want. And Remender and Opena, they want to do a comic with some great fight scenes, and for me that’s always been something undervalued as a reason to make a comic. Especially in a place where comics are now, where real action is now much more of an idea you play to (which I think happens in all kinds of comics, from the Fort Thunder indie stuff to huge Marvel/DC crossovers, action is a pose more than anything). Giving a shit about things like fights and chases always makes me feel a bit silly, but it’s what I care about and I enjoy seeing it done right and hate when it’s paid lip service to. Uncanny X-Force is a comic that understands what it is, and then goes about being the best dumb fight comic it can be.

On Charles Burns’s X’ed Out:

So I bought it, I thought the idea of Tintin traveling through Interzone sounded far enough away from coming of age and the 70s and Baby’s First Body Horror Reader. I bought it, because I am an idiot who actually listens to people, and the preview art looked great. I paid $20 for this. Those Tintin books that have 3 reprints in one are only $18.

-Some scrub on Twitter (retweeted here) called Sean’s work “Not the type of criticism the world needs.” Hahaha. Get real, homey.

-I can’t think of anyone who writes about comics like Sean does. The way he blends cinema theory (is that a word? “the way movies work”) and comics theory is endlessly fascinating to me, because I like movies, but I don’t know them. Sean can spot directors swiping other directors, which is basically magic, as far as I’m concerned. That’s a voice that I need to be reading, and that’s just the most obvious touchstone for his work.

-It’s cool to not like people, but to pitch it as “Oh, this guy is hurting the form,” like there’s some objective way to grade criticism? You need a dummy smack for that one. If somebody sucks, say they suck. Don’t get all bougie about it and try to justify your dislike.

-I always find discussions of what criticism is or should be to be pointless, but hey, I’m home sick from work and doped up, so let’s get it in.

-People are gonna believe what they want to believe about your work, according to their own interests. I’ve had people tell me that I’m too negative online. That’s funny, because I posted about 25 times in February for Black History Month, and one post about a dumb Gorilla Grodd comic came close to getting more comments than everything I wrote in February combined.

-I’m negative? C’mon, b. I spent the latter third of last year depressed out of my head and still managed to give sloppy kisses to dozens of comics I loved. Check the rhime if you don’t believe me. Do your homework.

-The internet’s backwards. People pay attention when you savage (or lightly insult or even ignore, at this point) something, because 1) controversy (intended or otherwise) brings in hits and 2) everybody likes a chance to tell you you’re wrong. Post about something you like more than most people you’ve met? Deafening silence. It should be the other way around.

-That’s the secret of why every site does top ten lists. They invite hits and angry comments.

-I could post tomorrow on that dumb looking American Panther thing, with some very well thought out and reasonable points, but I’d rather do what I’m doing right after I finish this point: write about Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and figure out some way to explain Moebius to a general audience.

-The more I think about it, the dumber I think “not the type of criticism the world needs” is an incredibly stupid thing to say. It’s just–there’s this layer of elitism in there, an implicit statement that criticism needs to be a certain way to be valid, that valid criticism exists, and all of this other garbage that I hate.

-It reeks of stuffy academia, where knowledge is only kept by those who have been properly trained or let into a special criticism club. It’s rockism for comics, and I hate it. Maybe that’s my lack of education and public school upbringing, I dunno.

-But I do know that me and mine could eat people who think like that for lunch.

-There’s no right way to do criticism. It’s anything goes martial arts. You can savage books all day long, talk around them, new games journalism them, dissect them, or recap them. If it’s good, it’s good. No one “needs” any type of criticism, either.

-We’re all nobodies, baby. “I just wanted to talk about the comics, see? All those shitty, amazing comics…”

-It’s a good time to be a comics fan. Heroes for Hire went a little soft in the art department this week, but, man, was that a good issue or what? Misty Knight uber alles, dang.

-I need to figure out what I should write about Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston’s Butcher Baker. I’m feeling it, though.

and i say eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, can’t think of nothing that rhyme with fifteen

David: Heroes for Hire 5
Esther: Esther’s comics purchases for today have been called on account of bad plots and crossovers
Gavin: Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth 2, Secret Six 32, Irredeemable 24, Deadpool Family 1, Herc 1, Heroes For Hire 5, Marvel Zombies Supreme 3, Ozma Of Oz 5, Ultimate Comics Captain America 4, (Maybe) Fear Itself 1

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The Cipher 03/24/11: “Evian backwards.”

March 24th, 2011 Posted by david brothers


created: I feel like I’m so behind on stuff all the time. I’ve got a lot in progress, but not enough done, as far as I’m concerned. Gonna have to play catch-up this weekend.

Q Hayashida’s Dorohedoro is ill.

Marvel makes comics, here are some good ones


consumed: Pusha T and Young Dro dropped mixtapes that are, at best, mediocre. Far as I’m concerned, that translates to “unlistenable.” There’s not much worse than somebody with talent, whether for punchlines or scorn, to come anything less than 100% correct. Ain’t no half-stepping, fellas, so do us all a favor and get it together.

Jared draws two of the best fictional characters ever. I don’t really want to buy any more original art, but seeing artists take on Akira makes me second guess my stand. Akira is basically the best comic, and I don’t even know. It provokes reactions I keep forgetting I had. And that tac vest is such a sharp look, too, bird chest or not.

-How good is Asaf Hanuka’s The Realist? I love the art and the kind of airy way the strips progress. You get to fill in a lot of blanks yourself, and sometimes that takes a little mental legwork. It’s alternately funny, melancholy, and real.

-Nardwuar interviews Das Racist, Odd Future, Lil B the Based God, and Curren$y. Nardwuar is dope, and all of these are pretty entertaining. Curren$y is super weeded in his, too.

-Nardwuar’s interviews always end so poorly, man. He gets some good footage out of people, but he’s just so oppressively awkward that nobody knows how to take him.

-DC rolled out a bunch of new good digital stuff. We3, Flash, Garth Ennis’s Hellblazer, Catwoman, and New Frontier. I’m a fan of all of these, and while We3 is overpriced, these are all worth owning. Those Brubaker/Cooke issues of Catwoman are all pretty good, and I think that the Comixology run has the point where Brubaker really hit his stride. Get those!

Amy Poodle takes on Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles for the second time. You can read part one here.

-Video games! I was going to make this a post on its own, but ehhh, it’s just some brief thoughts.

-I play games for work, so I generally avoid games at home. They’ve gotta be all-star affairs, you know? I don’t have time for mediocrity or “just okay.” Why would I waste that time?

-Currently playing: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Killzone 3, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Valkyria Chronicles, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, Final Fantasy 7, and Angry Birds. And maybe something else, I don’t know. Oh, Metal Gear Solid 4.

-I graze. I haven’t played a few of these in months (most particularly FF7 & P4). What I tend to do is focus on one game for a few weeks, then move on, eventually cycling my way back as the spirit moves me. Right now, it’s Brotherhood. Next is probably Persona 4.

-What I look for is an experience broken down into discrete portions. I like being able to drop in, get something done, and drop out. Sometimes this means ill multiplayer. Sometimes it means a compelling story with a lot of subplots. Anything that lets me sit down and have a bit of fun and leave it right there works. Shooters don’t really cut the mustard any more, multiplayer aside.

-I play games to relax, not to get frustrated, so something that pulls me in and is a brief escape is what’s nice. I purchase like… four new games a year. Last year, I don’t think I bought hardly any. Just Tekken, maybe?

-Sometimes, less is more, is what I’m saying. I could easily get a full year of gameplay out of what I own right now, but the way I play means that I sit down for 20 minutes or two hours (rarely), have some fun, and come back a week or so later. I could probably not buy a new game until 2013 and be okay. That’s a nice feeling.

-That new Pharoahe Monch is good, innit?


David: Hellblazer 277, Hulk 31, Power Man and Iron Fist 3, Uncanny X-Force 6
Esther: Yes: Batman Incorporated 4
Maybe: Batman: The Dark Knight 2, Superman/Batman 82
Gavin: Batman Incorporated 4, Green Lantern Corps 58, Green Lantern 64, Justice League Generation Lost 22, Invincible 78, Astonishing Spider-Man Wolverine 5, Daken Dark Wolverine 7, Deadpool MAX 6, Deadpool 34, Hulk 31, Namor The First Mutant 8, Power Man And Iron Fist 3, Uncanny X-Force 6

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The Cipher 03/16/11: “Peace to the number 7. Everybody else get the 4 9 3 11.”

March 16th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

no question

created: I haven’t talked about digital comics in what, like six whole hours? So I talked about that some, I pushed some art, and talked that Milestone talk over the past week.
Digital comics: either they’re a threat or they aren’t. You can’t have it both ways.

Xombi 1 gets a preview. I’m writing this post late enough that I already read all my comics, and my predictions came true. John Rozum and Frazer Irving gave DC their best creative success since that issue of Batman & Robin where Damian hit Joker with a crowbar.

Me and David Uzumeri take on Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy’s Joe the Barbarian. tl;dr: I liked Sean Murphy’s half of the book.

Jonah Hex has had some ill artists.

ch-ch-blaow, end of session

consumed: This has been a week of weeks, man. Somebody needs to let me hold a number two pencil, ’cause they testing. I’m ready for the weekend, but I can’t sleep it away like I did last weekend.

-Ron Wimberly is doing Ninjaid for charity. In his own words:

On March 11th, 2011 a great earthquake struck 130 kilometers off the east coast of Oshiko Peninsula, Tohouku Japan. This earthquake caused great destruction to Japan.

My work, particularly GratNin, has benefited beyond measure from the culture of Japan.

Starting today, I will draw a GratNin (16×22.5 cm) every afternoon for the next 30 days and post it here. I will reward every donation of $35 or more made from this site, with the button above, with one of those original GratNin drawings posted or to be posted here.

The proceeds will go to Red Cross via Paypal.

thank you for your generosity.


Good cause, ill art, win-win. The iFanboys have the lowdown on other relief efforts, and Deb Aoki at About.Manga has a few, too.

-I watched the tsunami footage live on Al Jazeera’s youtube page the night all that went on. One of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.

-I really appreciate Takehiko Inoue’s Smile series. It’s such a simple thing, just quick sketches of mostly children smiling, but it’s really nice. I dunno.

-My main homegirl, editor, and karaoke addict Laura Hudson is doing karaoke 7 days a week (actually 12) and blogging about it for the Portland Mercury. Here’s the category. She’s crazy, the posts are great, and I’d stage an intervention but this is awesome.

-I started watching Community. It’s pretty okay. It took a while to find its legs, but now it’s pretty good. I need to start season 2 pretty soon. It’s at its best when it’s doing straight comedy rather than romance antics, though. “Will they or won’t they?” who cares

-I know I keep just barely mentioning Killzone 3 on here, but it’s fascinating (and I play it a few nights a week so it’s always fresh on my mind). But here’s the thing. I had a game the other night where I was like 32-54, or 26-41, or something like that. I got chewed up by any reasonable standard. My kills/death ratio is like .49. But. I spent those matches having a gang of fun, coordinating with a friend to get things done, and generally taking part. I captured points, repaired ammo boxes, whatever whatever. When I’d play Call of Duty and get eaten up like that, I’d be getting mad. In Killzone, I just keep on pushing, taking L after L, but enjoying every minute of it. Even if you’re getting blasted, you can still support your team, capture game objectives, and generally help get things done. This is a good thing, a tremendously good thing, and more than welcome in this genre. You can find your strengths. My strengths are running into bullets, drawing fire, and getting in-game objectives done. Maybe yours are different.

-No, I haven’t gotten back to Persona 3 Portable yet. Tonight, I think. I keep starting novels, like real novels with no pictures or nothing, and read those before bed, which is my prime gaming time. Life is so hard you guys 🙁

-Pharoahe Monch’s WAR (We Are Renegades) leaked the other day. I listened to it five times a row that day. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s cop on sight, and I keep checking Amazon to see if the mp3 page is going live so I can buy it. I dunno if this will work or be annoying or whatever, but Monch’s PR dude sent me this streaming clip of “Assassins,” which features Royce da 5’9″ and Jean Grae. That’s three of my favorite emcees on one track.
Assassins” feat. Jean Grae & Royce Da 5’9 by duckdown

-Here’s why I listen to rap, courtesy of Nickel Nine: “You claiming that you flow like water, but y’all niggas Evian backwards.” Oh my.

-Raekwon’s Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang is… okay. It’s not as good as Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2, which is I think my main problem with it. That said, it starts off real strong, as seen in the slightly NSFW below, wobbles in the middle, peters out, and then comes back strong for that joint with Black Thought. The Nas track didn’t impress me.

-You want to cop Frank Ocean’s nostalgia,ULTRA. Here’s a download link. Cover art below.

Ocean is nice, and this absurdly smooth R&B album from the Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All crew sort of puts a bullet into the meme of “Oh, all they talk about is rape and murder and gaybashing, but they’re so young and talented that I feel compelled to write a two thousand word piece on why it’s okay/not okay to listen to them.”

-“There Will Be Tears” is brutal, fair warning. It’ll kick your legs right out from under you.

-It’s like Andre 3000 said on “Aquemini.” “Now, question: is every nigga with dreads for the cause? Is every nigga with golds for the fall? Naw… So don’t get caught in appearance. It’s Outkast, Aquemini, another Black experience.”

-Something else Andre said on Aquemini:

Three in the morning, yawnin’, dancin’ under street lights/ We chillin’ like a villain and a nigga feelin’ right/ in the middle of the ghetto on the curb, but in spite/ all of the bullshit we on our back starin at the stars above/ (aww man) Talkin bout what we gonna be when we grow up/ I said what you wanna be, she said, “Alive” (hmm)/ It made me think for a minute, then looked in her eyes/ I coulda died, time went on, I got grown/ Rhyme got strong, mind got blown, I came back home/ to find lil Sasha was gone/ Her mama said she with a nigga who be treating her wrong.

-I’ve been playing nostalgia,ULTRA and Pac Div’s Mania on repeat, basically. I like Pac Div a lot, and Mania is on point. Grab the album here and the cover art rightchea:

The full-size art is like 1000px square. Dunno why–250×250 is fine, isn’t it? Smaller, too, which makes the mp3s smaller. Hi-def album art, I guess. Check out the back cover art on the official site.

blood shot in that direction, cipher

David: Hulk 30.1, Thunderbolts 155, Uncanny X-Force #5.1, Xombi 1
Esther: Knight and Squire 6
Tiny Titans 38 Mmmmmmaybe Power Girl 22
Gavin: Batman 708, Knight & Squire 6, Darkwing Duck 10, Avengers Academy 11, Deadpool MAX History Of Violence, Iron Man 2.0 2, Thunderbolts 155, Ultimate Comics Avengers vs New Ultimates 2, Uncanny X-Force 5.1

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The Cipher 03/09/11: “I got a story to tell”

March 9th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

a strange form, something kinda lyrical

created: You think a crackhead paying you back? Forget it.

biggie the bastard, sadat’s kind of spiritual

consumed: Number nine shoulda been number one to me.

-I saw Adjustment Bureau. It was pretty cool. I haven’t read/seen much of Philip K Dick’s stuff directly, just secondhand via Grant Morrison/Ellis/whoever. It made me want to read the novels/short stories in the end, so mission complete, I think.

-What did I do over the past week? I can’t remember for the life of me. I know I did more than see Adjustment Bureau, right?

-I spent a lot of time on Killzone 3 multiplayer.

-Oh! I beat Killzone 3. The ending is awful. I didn’t play any of the campaign when I owned KZ2, and I sorta wish I’d done the same for KZ3.

Thrillzone 3 multiplayer is dope, though. They shoulda called it Illzone 3 (Trillzone 3, Realzone 3, Krillzone 3, Forrealzone 3). Tons of fun, and easy to get into and run a casual game with friends.

-I’m seriously at a loss here. What did I do last week? I just got off work, and today has been a Day, but I can’t have put seven whole days out of my head.

-I did get Joe Casey & Dustin Nguyen’s Wildcats Version 3.0 Year Two in the mail today. I’m happy to have that and Wildcats Version 3.0 Year One, even if I went out and got my issues bound. Those comics were great, and will be making an appearance here sometime soon. I’ve been doing some thinking on them and Grant Morrison’s New X-Men.

-The future was then.

-You know what I miss? Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. I just skimmed this essay I wrote about it last year, and the essay isn’t half bad. I got a lot of what I wanted to say in there. There’s a whole lot to like about that series, and honestly, the only Bat-books that have even come close to being as exciting and compelling as ASBAR‘s ten issues was that sublime bit toward the end of Morrison’s run on Batman & Robin with Frazer Irving.

-Don’t even bother mentioning Paul Dini or Tony Daniel’s run. I read those comics, and now I break weed up on them.

-I’m really looking forward to Dark Knight: Boy Wonder. Just wanted to let you know.

-I also bought The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo 2. I was expecting to see some Archie style cheesecakey gag strips… but Dan DeCarlo drew some absolutely ridiculous breasts. Carnival boobs. It’s funny, though. A lot of the jokes revolve around sexual harassment in the workplace (including a pun about “arrears” [ayo]), and it’s weird to see the Archie guy drawing what’s basically outlandish cheesecake from the ’50s, back when all girls were gold diggers and dudes were just like the wolf from Red Hot Riding Hood.

-Christopher Wallace, bka The Notorious BIG, Francis MH White, Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa. 1972-1997.

-N-O-T-O-R-I-O/ U-S, you just/ lay down slow.

-I can’t remember what I did, but tell me what you did, and we can conversate in the comments.

well “in god we trust”, guns i bust

David: Batman, Inc. 3
Esther: Batgirl 19, Batman and Robin 21, Batman Incorporated 3, Birds of Prey 10, Superboy 5
Gavin: Batman And Robin 21, Batman Incorporated 3, Booster Gold 42, Justice League Generation Lost 21, Incredible Hulks 624, New Avengers 10, Punisher MAX 11, Venom 1

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The Cipher 03/02/11: “we’ve got a file on you”

March 2nd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

brothers and sisters

created: Couple gooduns this past week. Did some more writing about art, something I don’t do often enough.

Cameron Stewart and Karl Kerschl formed like Voltron (they were both the head)

Dwayne McDuffie memorial

Kaare Andrews flips the script on Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis

Part two of my Marvel Black History joints. These were fun.

rebuild your lives

consumed: I’m growing increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of stuff I read online. I need to read less, and in doing so, read better works. Gotta stop clicking every link where somebody’s hopping mad or talking about some comic I never read.

-Right now, as far as I’m concerned, Black History Month is done. Four years and out, wham, bam, and Billie Jean is not my lover, no matter what she says. Thanks for reading, but I quit.

Tim O’Neil wrote a stellar McDuffie tribute, and his piece on the time Punisher went black is pretty good.

-Sean Witzke goes in on Seth Fisher with Jared and takes George Lucas apart in one neat post. I don’t mean that in a stupid “Oh I hate those prequels so much!” crybaby way, either.

-Sean linked this a long while back, and I finally finished reading it. The forgotten story of Marcia Lucas, George’s ex-wife and collaborator. Great read.

-Courtesy of Ron Wimberly comes these:

Audience Calibration Procedure from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery on Vimeo.

-Michelle & Melinda talk about the visuals of One Piece and NANA.

Frank Miller interviews Goseki Kojima and Kazuo Koike, of Lone Wolf & Cub fame.

Lupe Fiasco is an idiot, and you shouldn’t buy his album.

Four free issues of David Lapham’s Stray Bullets. You should definitely read these.

Jack Kirby does Frank Miller

Stop talking to me about Charlie Sheen

Sloane drew a comic. I liked it–there’s a bit with a tongue and a pill that’s super Akira.

-Vote in the Gylphs Fan Award for Best Comic. The correct choice is Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of our Fathers.

-I tired to work my way through Radiohead’s discography… it didn’t take.

-Amazon has some pretty ill five dollar albums up: Brown Sugar, Baduizm, Vol.2 … Hard Knock Life, Things Fall Apart, What’s Going On, Licensed To Ill, The Score, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star

-I always want to change after I wrap up February. BHM is always stressful–both the schedule (I think only three posts didn’t publish at a minute past midnight) and the subject matter. Working through my own issues via comics is stressful enough, but having to pay attention to what other (frankly lesser) writers are saying is a pain in my neck. I just want a break, really, a chance to re-center.

-Usually that means deciding to take a week off from posting and then failing utterly, but this year… I think it means writing about music more. I just don’t have patience for a lot of the stuff that comes with talking or reading about comics online. Sometimes I read stuff and I just want to raze my RSS feeds to the ground. But music: music is new and interesting and I’m feeling my way around it. It’s like looking at someone with new eyes.

-C’est la guerre, right? Things change, people change, I change.

-Working with Graeme McMillan on that co-review of Blur’s 13 was a trip. I think it’s the first time we’ve collaborated on something. It’s crazy–six (or however many) years ago, I was just a fan who checked Fanboy Rampage regularly. Life is pretty okay sometimes. There’s more coming, too, with Graeme and others. I feel good about this.

-Video game update: The only thing I’m playing lately are the Netflix and Hulu apps on my PS3 and Killzone 3, whose online multiplayer is great fun. Me and a friend (Larry) get on just to fool around. We spent most of a game talking to each other about nothing while shooting dudes. At one point we were remarking how cool it is that when you’re squadded up, your teammates can’t hear you, when another player joined our server. This guy joined our conversation and we realized that, nope, turns out they can hear us fine, we were the only ones with mics, and that we’d subjected our team to about 15 minutes of chit-chat about kung fu movies and everything/nothing.

-Larry mutes people with a quickness. They get one chance and bam, gone. I’m lazier, and also, I didn’t bother to learn how to mute people in-game until recently, so I’d just talk through them. One guy kept complaining about how his missiles weren’t working, his gun was weaker than the enemy’s guns, blah blah blah my controller sucks, not me, I’m fine, they’re cheating. So I sorta started coaching him. “Shoot better.” “No, you can’t–that’s the wrong way, turn around.” “Shoot now! No, wait—awww, why’d you shoot?” “Wait, this isn’t Call of Duty? Are you SERIOUS? I thought I was playing on Shipment.” “Do you like turtles? Or pudding?” Eventually, the rest of the team joined in on heckling this chump.

-Larry got half the conversation and was therefore entertained. The chump… not so much. Can’t imagine why.

-Great game, though.

-I’ll be back to review the comics I bought in the morning. Feel free to review your books, too, or talk about them, whatever whatever.

we’re all drug takers

David: Heroes For Hire 4, Joe the Barbarian #8, Thunderbolts 154
Esther: Superboy 4, Secret Six 30 Possibly: Batman Confidential 53, Weird Worlds 2
Gavin: Axe Cop Bad Guy Earth 1, Azrael 18, Green Lantern 63, Joe The Barbarian 8, Secret Six 31, Darkwing Duck Annual, Irredeemable 23, Avengers Academy 10, Daken Dark Wolverine 6, Deadpool 32.1, Heroes For Hire 4, Secret Warriors 25, Thunderbolts 154, Ultimate Comics Captain America 3

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