monday mixtape lazy

June 10th, 2013 Posted by david brothers

No mixtape or fast essay this time. I just wanted to say how much I like this video for Buraka Som Sistema’s “Up All Night,” which is probably mildly nsfw for having the sexiest people in the entire world in it. It’s erotic without being a real bore about it like most videos like to be. I like the gimmick of this video, the live webcam dance party. It’s very fun, and it reminds me of Vines, the little six second videos that you can record and post to Twitter now. I know a few people who do vines, and I’m always impressed when they manage to get across a whole idea or mood in that short period of time. I love dance videos anyway, and this is one of my favorites.

I like this video, too. Description:

Cho Cho Cho is the first song and music video produced and written by the youth of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Created in a Beat Making Lab, the song was inspired by a popular call-and-response chant in Goma, and the video was filmed during Yole!Africa’s SKIFF Festival dance competition.

I read and enjoyed this excerpt on the subject of Magical Girls and the influence of Sailor Moon. The full piece is over here. I like reading about paradigm shifts in genres and mediums, things that forever alter the landscape. It makes me wonder how much of it is bandwagoning and how much is someone realizing that a door they thought was closed or didn’t exist is actually wide open. A lot of the post-1986 stuff in comics is like that, I feel like. People out there read those books and realized that they could actually push the envelope and evolve in new directions and there was a market for it and worth in it.

I read and enjoyed this piece on a Latina teen “coming out” as black. One thing that gets lost in the conversation a little is how internally diverse each race is, and how the lines between them are often blurred thanks to… basically everything, really. I’m interested in how other people view the fine lines and subtle gradations that go hand-in-hand with race as a concept.

Jim Rugg’s Flickr is must-viewing.

-I got a new job! I’m Content Manager at Image. Sort of a Flo Steinberg, quality assurance type of situation, with a little more besides. Someone asked me why Image and I talked about that some. Last week was my first week, and it was pretty interesting. BUT I’m basically gonna stop writing about comics for a bit, especially industry nonsense or recent books. I still owe people reviews for a few comics, but I’m gonna put those off for a few weeks while I get settled and figure out the best way to do that while distantly or implicitly representing the company. I’ll probably do more stuff like this parallel I noticed between a couple books I like and this question about the current best cape comic, but definitely no news and nothing that would make me drown in conflict of interest. I’m still figuring this out—bear with me.

-If I ever become one of those braggy “Oh look what I just read that you can’t see yet” types of dudes (outside of like, a legitimate critical context, I mean) feel free to smash me into a thousand pieces. I don’t want to be that guy. I’ll still be enthusiastic about stuff I dig, but I hope it’ll never come from that place.

I wrote about a family friend who passed away some time back, and my reaction/lack thereof.

I caught up on Arrested Development over the past week or so. I didn’t want to binge on it, but I did find myself wanting to watch it, so I did a couple episodes a day after work. I’m surprised by what impressed me. I thought it was pretty funny, but much, much better-written than it was belly-laugh funny. It was still plenty funny, especially anything involving Maeby, Ann, or the Michael/George-Michael stuff, but the writing was what grabbed me more than the laughs. A few of the parallels only hit me as time went on, from the various walls to how much of the series was about people explicitly trying to get something from someone else without tipping their hand or giving up anything valuable. I appreciated it more than I laughed at it. I’m really interested in how it was made now, too. They successfully nailed an incredible juggling act, editing scenes down to equally significant slices of time and then organizing those slices into a greater whole. Everything had to work when it was obscured, partially revealed, fully revealed, and integrated. There’s something really impressive about that. I like complicated or intricately constructed shows, but I don’t think any of them have managed to walk that line half as well as Arrested Development. I’ll have to wait a few months and check it out again to see what reveals itself.

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

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Can’t Afford an iPad? Buy Afrodisiac!

January 27th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

The Apple iPad is out, as you can see on this post here from Engadget. It’s five hundred bucks for the lower end version, which has 16 gigs of space and supports only WiFi. It looks a lot like a giant, novelty iPhone, but hey- it’s new. Check out apple.com/ipad if you want to order one- the WiFi revs ship in late March, 3G in April.

On the other hand, if you’ve got the money laying around for an iPad… you should be copping Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac. You can read my review on it here, if you’re unfamiliar with the work. The official site has an extended PDF preview and trailer, too.

It hits comics stores today. If your local shop doesn’t have it (we’re going to assume that you go to one of those shops who orders good books like this, and that they simply ran out before you made it in), you can order Afrodisiac from Amazon, where it’ll run you about ten bucks. Amazon’s site says that it’ll be in stock on 02/01, but there’s probably a chance it’ll ship late this week.

Really, get this book.

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We Be That Afrodisiac

January 5th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Blaxploitation, like film noir before it, was very much a product of its time. The effects of bitterness about Vietnam and the way the Civil Rights movement turned from great success to tragedy can all be seen in the best blaxploitation films. As time goes on, though, audiences get more sophisticated, absorb the lessons of the genre, and then we collectively move on to the next one.

Doing straight blaxploitation doesn’t work these days. There were a couple attempts in the ’90s, the most memorable being Original Gangstas, but it doesn’t really work out as it should. It feels kitsch or like a relic from the past. You need a hook, whether it’s Black Dynamite slyly winking at the audience or World of Hurt‘s painstaking attention to what made blaxploitation work back in the day.

Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, presented in a fancy hardcover from AdHouse, has a hook, but I don’t know that I can do it justice. It’s kind of a love letter to blaxploitation, but filtered through the style, feel, and design of ’70s Marvel comics. It’s also really, really good. If it had come out in 2009, Parker: The Hunter, Asterios Polyp, and Pluto would’ve suddenly been part of a Top 4, instead of a Top 3.

Alan Diesler, sometimes Afrodisiac, often Mack Midnight, other times The Afrodisiac, still other times Dr. Rufus Blackguy, and even more often simply “Daddy,” is the hero of the book. He runs girls out of Afroca, his headquarters in Wilkesborough. When he’s not pimping, he can be found saving the hood, the world, or some new skirt from predators. He’s distilled John Shaft, smarty, sexy, and able to talk the pants off a clothes store mannequin. There’s not a problem he can’t fix with his charms or his fists.

Afrodisiac is a peek into an alternate history, one where Afrodisiac was a long-running comics franchise, racking up 144 issues, spawning cartoons, manga adaptations, multiple ongoing series, romance comics, and even a magazine, judging by the art on a cover in the book. It reads like an abridged omnibus, spanning the 12-year history (longer if it ran bimonthly, like Luke Cage did off and on) of the character but only showing glimpses into that past.

afrobushIt’s an interesting approach for a standalone book, but it lets Rugg and Maruca cover a lot of ground and build a fascinating world while telling varied stories. There are only so many times that you can fight the man, of course, so Afrodisiac takes on aliens, Dracula, demi-gods, Tricky Dick Nixon, Death, corrupt religion, and computers.

What’s crazy is how well it all manages to come together. Afrodisiac punches Dracula’s whole brain out, teams up with Richard Nixon as tag team partners, and fights a sentient (and evil) computer, but it never feels forced. It feels like Marvel’s ’70s exploitation books, where a hard-hittin’ black hero teams up with a white kung fu master and it’s all to the good.

The thick vein of humor running through Afrodisiac helps quite a bit with that cohesiveness. Afrodisiac is raunchy, clever, and more than willing to poke fun at itself. It revels in its own gimmick, pushing the blaxploitation humor as far as it’ll go. Afrodisiac fights a giant cockroach (“even by ghetto standards” proclaims a caption box) to save #72, one of his working girls. What follows is a series of cheap cockroach jokes and, incredibly, a boxing match involving a car, and a giant cockroach.

afroduckFrom weird to mundane, Afrodisiac stays clever. The dialogue is pitch perfect for the tone of the book, just the right mix of self-conscious cool and slick slang. Dizzy, Afrodisiac’s numbers girl, loses her temper when Tricky Dick threatens to sic the IRS dogs on Afroca. She gets right in his face, telling him to “settle this like you got some class or we can get into some gangster shit.” The dialogue works. It’s not so stilted or stylized that it sounds awkward. There’s flow and rhythm to it, and most of all, style. The slang is never out of place or awkward. And the slang no one uses any more (bloods, turkey) fits the time period perfectly. Rugg and Maruca avoid having their book sound dated or unreal, managing to always land on the side of “cool.”

The capstone on the whole work, though, is Jim Rugg’s art and design. It looks like a collection of old comics, even down to wrinkled pages and names scrawled across covers in pencil. Some pages look like they were scanned in, complete with the scanning bed or the background showing through the edges, while still others have dog-eared corners or worse. This sort of thing could easily go overboard, but Rugg and Maruca strike a really nice balance between properly printed art and faux flawed repro. It never gets in the way of the story, but it does help to build the myth.

Rugg’s characters are great actors, too, with everything from body language (Afrodisiac wondering if he “finally checked out?”) to the face of Vixena’s mom or Nixon selling emotions without dialogue. Sometimes it goes straight cartoony, as Nixon does when he gets angry. Other times, Rugg goes in close, kicks up the detail, and check that out, Afrodisiac is visibly determined.

afroloveAfrodisiac is incredibly enjoyable. It feels like the work of people who not only enjoy blaxploitation and comics, but get why the two work. There’s never anyone delivering a ton of exposition, explaining what Rugg and Maruca were trying to do. All of it is there on the page, just waiting for you to take a second look.

The easiest point of comparison for Afrodisiac is Street Angel, but even that isn’t quite on this level. They share a similar tone and sensibility, but Afrodisiac is composed of shorter stories, allowing it to get across more content, and completed years after Street Angel. The creators have grown in skill since, and it shows in this.

It’s a book that works on a number of levels. AdHouse has its genres defined as hip-hop, superhero, comedy, and art, and all of those are true. It’s funny, beautiful, and it’s got a toe in that ’70s Marvel aesthetic. It wears a lot of hats, but never seems cluttered or unfocused. It just sets out to do something and succeeds admirably.

Afrodisiac is dope. That’s really the only way to put it. Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca get it. Afrodisiac is a lot of cool in a small package, and my early front-runner for book of the year. It hits retail 01/14/10, so keep your eyes peeled.

Grab an extended preview of the book from the official site and check out these six images to see how the book looks in real life. See if you can spot the silhouetted woman:


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And keep them heels off my whitewalls, girl, dang!

December 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Check out this cover by Jim Rugg.


Dope, right? Jim Rugg is crazy talented. He has a comics set on Flickr, so go and look at more of his pieces there.

And tune in this time next week for something special. Gonna kick off 2010 with a bang.

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Fourcast! 26: Welcome to the Deadpool, Street Angel!

November 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

-Wait, who is that? Who let Gavin on the podcast? Did he hack my computer?
-Theme music: 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-I Made Esther Read: Street Angel, by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca. Check out this clip.
-Deadpool. What’s the deal with that guy? And Agent X, remember that?

And of course, there’s bad news– the Fourcast! is on hiatus for at least a month and change. Unavoidable technical issues, time, unrelated stress, blah blah blah– we’ll be back at some point in January, most likely. Call it a holiday, and call it a comeback in a month or so.

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
Podcast Alley feed!
RSS feed via Feedburner
iTunes Store

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Afrodisiac Trailer

October 14th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Woke up this morning and saw that Robot 6 had the good stuff: a brand new trailer for Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca’s Afrodisiac, published by AdHouse Books.

I want this book. C’mon, y’all, this book is right up my alley. I’m the guy that talks about black people and comics all the time and this is a comic about a black guy. 2 + 2 = Real Talk!

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