Two Posts of Note

November 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

-Colleen AF Venable at First Second/:01 is amazing. She’s got another design post up on their blog, and it’s a great read. Is there another company-sponsored blog as good as :01’s? I don’t think so.

-Graeme McMillan, the man behind the man behind the man of comics writing, wrote the best post on colored folks in comics in ages, and I’m including ones that I’ve written in that number. It’s very good.

And how did Rhodey get his start as a superhero again? Oh, that’s right; he replaced Tony as Iron Man. Just like John Stewart got his start replacing Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. And John Henry Irons, replacing Superman back when he died. Oh, and don’t forget Monica Rambeau, Marvel’s second Captain Marvel. Or, hell, the Justice Society of America’s Mr. Terrific or Johnny/JJ Thunder, the Legion of Superheroes’ Computo and Invisible Kid, DC’s Mister Miracle (and, for that matter, Manhattan Guardian) or even The Spectre (And, again, who can forget Black Goliath, who replaced Hank Pym’s original White Goliath – except, of course, the “White” was silent in his name).

Graeme pokes at Rhodey’s history and finds something interesting at work, and ends up saying a lot about what it means to be black in comics. It’s absolutely worth a read or two, and it’s something to keep in mind when looking at black characters in comics.

I hadn’t even realized how few black characters were not “fight the power” types. Storm isn’t, but that’s because she’s completely divorced from any semblance of blackness. Just Bishop and Icon? And Bishop is borderline because of how he was placed at odds with the X-Men. It’s just the “Angry Black Man” stereotype poured into a new bottle.

The post’s excellent, go read it.

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Pull Quote Linkblogging

September 14th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Prince of Persia/Uncharted 2 Contest

June 3rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

One of my favorite games, from both a story and a gameplay standpoint, is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. I played through it on either Xbox or PS2, I forget which, but it was a great time. The gameplay combined platforming mechanics and traditional combat to create a kind of gameplay that was extremely fun. The enemies provided a way for the Prince to make his platforming easier, turning creatively acrobatic combat into a crucial gameplay component.

Where the game really shined for me, however, was the story. Shortly before the end of the game, you find out that the game you’ve just played, deaths and all, was not a game– it was a story that the Prince was telling Princess Farah, the daughter of the Maharajah. There are a number of twists involved, but what it boils down to is that, due to an error, the princess died. The Prince reversed time, and now he must convince her of what happened and save her life. So, he told her the story of his adventure.

This wasn’t exactly out of the blue. The Prince narrates the game, and every time you died, he’d say something to the effect of, “No, that’s not how it happened,” and begin again from just before your death. It turned the story of the game into a story within the game, and it’s a plot twist that I greatly appreciated. If anything, it heightened my love for the game and hooked me for life.

First Second Books released a Prince of Persia graphic novel late last year. I picked it up and read it a couple months after release, but never really got around to talking about it on here.

Rather than do a straight adaptation of any of the handful of Prince of Persia titles, writers Jordan Mechner and AB Sina and artists LeUyen Pham, Alex Pulvilland, and Hilary Sycamore instead told a tale that spanned two timelines under the loose umbrella of being about a “prince of Persia.” There is a nice nod early in the novel to the way that the Prince of Persia series has changed over the years. A king calls for his son, the prince, but all three of his children, two sons and a daughter, come together, rather than the prince he wanted. When quizzed about why they all came, they respond, “For I am the prince!”

In a way, I enjoyed Prince of Persia more due to Sands of Time. They both showed a deft way of telling their story in a way that I didn’t expect at the time. The story takes place over two timelines, and they tend to blend in and out of each other as the book goes on. It can be confusing, but not in an off-putting manner. It simply gives the book a different tone than I’d expected. It’s much more whimsical, or fairy tale-like, in tone than a straight up adventure novel. It isn’t quite magical realism. Everything that happens fits within the story and is perfectly believable. However, there is a definite dream-like quality to the story.
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Keeping It Real

May 13th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Yesterday, Justin suggested I pick up Aya from Drawn & Quarterly. I’ve got some spare Amazon credit, so I’m going to order it today I think.

I want a couple of other titles, too, though. Esther and Gav have superheroes pretty well locked down now, so I get to indulge myself with a bit of non-Big Two (or non-Big Four) fare. Sell me on a book that’s published by houses like Top Shelf, D&Q, First Second, Fantagraphics, and so on. No qualifiers or reservations or pickiness on my part– just tell me why you like it. I’ll pick it up if I like your pitch and review it when I finish.

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