October 31st, 2012 Posted by david brothers

Part of fun of writing about comics, for me at least, is the competition. I don’t mean scrapping with scrubs or anything, either. I mostly mean competing against my friends. Gavin, who is currently without power and won’t see this until he’s back, has been my funniest friend for going on ten years now. No one throws shade like the late, lamented Pedro Tejeda, the ghost of Funnybook Babylon. No one is as well-reasoned as Jamaal Thomas. Nobody’s got an eye for comics history like Chris Eckert. Tucker Stone is the king of insight, and Abhay has punchlines that’ll stop you cold. All these dudes do things that I wish I could do better, and I really dig seeing them work their craft.

Sometimes, my friends will do things that make me jealous, as in this post by Sean Witkze called Away From Human Memory: Editing And Composition In Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. I got to read an earlier draft of it and it was good, but I’m still jealous.

Sean’s talking about how Miller controls the reader in Dark Knight Returns and Ronin, and it’s really good stuff. I know the basics of this stuff, how big panels make you do one thing and a stutter-y cascade of panels make you do another, but Sean turns jargon plain and lays everything bare, revealing new facets of works I thought I knew well. And I mean, I love Frank Miller’s body of work, I’ve been through these books dozens of times… but Sean is revealing the iceberg just beneath the water’s surface here.

It’s way deeper than “Frank Miller draws nice.”

Sean elevated the game. If you’re trying to figure out how comics work, to examine what a master did in a period when he dropped more classics than most people get in a lifetime, you should read it.

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here’s some interviews i read and liked

July 6th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Mindless Ones interview Grant Morrison:

Bobsy: So obviously you can’t walk down the high street without seeing someone in a Batman t-shirt or a Superman t-shirt , but why are there no domino masks? Why no capes? Why no trunks on the outside? What is it that’s topping the fashion world from being hungry enough to go that extra mile?

Grant: I don’t know, because I thought super-fashion would look more like Zenith: Fashion clothes but with a little mask on. But that hasn’t happened. It’s just really hard to say where all this is going. The Internet offers up the idea that everyone is a superhero, every life story is a saga, everyone has a style, every love story is a magnificent adventure. We’ve all got our pages of our likes and dislikes. There’s osmething about the symbol of the superhero and what it represents… Clearly something is happening. People are trying to unite the imaginary and the real in a way using the Internet, so we might yet see the masks.

I just like the idea of this, how the internet is infecting real life with the idea that everyone is a superhero and important. Superhero as seductive meme, right?

I also like how it contrasts with this from Morrison’s DisInfo speech from around 2000:

“Beyond that, I find that we’re deluding ourselves in the worst way of all by believing in the individual. Stay with me on this. Kafka, Orwell, Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, everyone told us the individual is the most important thing you can be. Everyone is fucking quirky these days. Every shit in the window of MTV is quirky. Everyone’s cool, everyone’s smart… it’s not true.”

My main man Sean Witzke interviews Brandon Graham:

SW: When you talk about the idea of comics that haven’t been done – that’s kind of hard to actually achieve. Branching out of the moves you know work , and the idea that everything has been done – is it possible to actually make something new in comics? Not just in the “webcomics are the future” way, but just in paper comics – from page layouts to subject matter – is it possible to keep finding new ground?

BG: I can’t say with certainty what has and hasn’t been done since there’s so much unseen out there but there’s a hell of a lot that I’ve never seen tried in comics.

Emily Carrol just put out a set of zines with each one showing one page moments from a different member of a family’s life leading up to a big fire. and you get different sides and different clues deepening on which zine you read. Or there’s that Pat McEwan short in the back of Weasle #1 where each panel is a room and you don’t read left to right — you follow individual characters. I think that idea could be pushed even farther. — you could combine both those ideas and have choose your own adventures that read what direction the reader chooses to look and have it jump books or have pages fold out like posters in it.

I had this idea for a book that starts as a Scott McCloud how to draw comics or how to do perspective or draw manga book– hosted by a guy and his beautiful assistant. 3 chapters in to a standard how book to the assistant is found dead and then the learning comics part gets dropped and it switches to a murder mystery.

Or like, I’ve never seen a serious comic showing the life cycle of a fungus

Even if stories come from the old roots I think doing them in new ways creates something bigger than just the root idea. plus as a reader or an artist I feel like you have to have hope for undiscovered country. You can’t be an explorer that already expects every mountain to have a flag planted on it– there are still mountains on mars.

Longer quote than I wanted to post, but I wanted to get Sean’s question in there, too. There’s plenty more to read, including a great bonus round.

“There are still mountains are mars” is so good, because it then makes you wonder why so many comics are content with climbing Everest over and over again at best. Other than Morrison’s Batman & Robin (specifically the Irving/Stewart/Quitely trinity), which has definitely had its share of crap art, are there any visually challenging major books at Marvel or DC? Brian Bendis got Chris Bachalo for an Avengers comic and wasted him on a bunch of talking heads. Sure, Bachalo draws great heads, but is that really what you want him to do? I mean… that’s like getting Brendan McCarthy to draw your crime noir story, or Jack Kirby to do an adaptation of High & Low. I mean, sure, it’d look nice, but seriously: who cares? Who wants that? Work to these people’s strengths and show us something new instead of throwing all these square pegs into round holes. Figure out a new way to do talking heads or Batman standing on a gargoyle or Daredevil crying about his crappy life like a big fat baby on a rooftop in the rain.

Eric Wallace on DC’s upcoming Mr. Terrific:

Michael’s entire supporting cast will be new. One of the most important figures in his life is ALEEKA OKAFUR. Black and brilliant, Aleeka keeps Michael on the straight and narrow while running a billion dollar corporation, Holt Industries. When Michael makes mistakes and everyone else is afraid to speak up, she’ll be the one who tells it like it is. She’s the “heart” to Michael’s “head” when it comes to business affairs, and together they make quite a team. Another new character I’m excited about is JAMAAL, a sixteen-year-old intern at Holt Industries, who also just happens to have an I.Q. of 192. Needless to say, Michael sees a lot of himself when he was a boy in Jamaal, which makes Jamaal’s life really tough, really fast. Yes, he might be a genius, but Jamaal still has a lot of growing up to do. The problem is that Michael often forgets this fact.

I like the sound of Mr. Terrific the more I hear about it, and Eric Wallace acquits himself well in this interview, some bizarre phrasing featuring the word “diverse” aside. I mean, you’ve got a cape comic with a high tech angle, a supersmart protagonist who’s going to be going on dates, and what sounds like an actual supporting cast, a rare creature in modern cape comics. A black lady, too! How rare is THAT, I ask you?

The setup, what little info we’ve been given thus far, puts me in mind of McDuffie and Cowan’s Hardware, which in turn made me realize that Hardware and Terrific are basically perfect rivals. Brilliant and idealistic vs Brilliant and gruff? Easy conflict right there. Wallace teases a surprise cameo in issue one, and it’s probably Steel, but Hardware would be fun, too.

Not to mention their approaches to technology. Holt always struck me as a soft, sensitive dude–he can speak to electronics and finesse his way to innovation. He’s got a subtle touch, like a three pointer with half a second left, nothing but net. Hardware is rougher, with armor that looks cobbled together and is clearly a weapon. You turn the corner and run into Hardware and you aren’t even scared. You’re in awe, and then you’re scared when you realize exactly how many different ways he has to kill you. Hardware is that slam dunk that ends the game and posterizes somebody for eternity.

Like, basically, after you and your crew go up against Hardware, your grandkids would come at you like “I saw that picture of the time you got away from Hardware, granddad, and that’s what you call winning?”

“I’d hate to see what you call losing.”

Mr Terrific looks good, though. DC just needs to tighten up its PR game.

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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 02/23/11: “hide til it’s bright out”

February 23rd, 2011 Posted by david brothers

something wrong, i hold my head

created: What a weird week, man. RIP Dwayne McDuffie. I’m kinda pissed that my BHM11 post about him ended up being sort of a eulogy. It is what it is, though, and I’m thankful for what he gave me. Look for a longer piece on CA tomorrow, I think.

-Me and Uzumeri got together to talk about Uncanny X-Force. Gav pointed out that both of us liked X-Force for different reasons. Me for Fantomex, him for Deadpool.

-I reviewed Summer Wars, Funimation’s new anime disc. Summer Wars is pretty okay–great visuals, aight story. Shoulda been more John Blaze than that.

-Marvel comics, black history, get at me. Part 2 hits on Friday.

mj gone, our nigga dead

consumed: I went to a Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournament on Saturday on a whim. I ended up placing fifth, but the first cat I fought was exactly the type of player I’m not down with at all. All types of move spamming, and then when the clock got low, he tried to run away. I had to call this dude out before he manned up and fought me. C’mon, son. What part of the game is that? Oh yeah, the unfun part.

-I talked some about McDuffie on Twitter. Gonna throw those up here because I think I said a few things worth reading:

-Also, seriously, if you’re gonna write about McDuffie this week–Milestone was its own company, not an imprint of DC Comics. Get it right.

-The importance of DC not owning Milestone is this: You need to own your own work. That’s how you make money and leave a legacy that’s yours.

-DC published Milestone. They didn’t own them. McDuffie & Co shopped Milestone around to several publishers, and DC eventually bit.

-The copyright, the honor, and the legacy belong to McDuffie, Davis, Dingle, and Cowan. Milestone was theirs, and they did it for us.

-And Milestone and McDuffie’s career weren’t just about black characters, either. Blood Syndicate had TWO kinds of hispanics on the team.

-You don’t even see that these days. That’s in addition to every other type in Milestone comics. They weren’t black comics. They were comics.

-Yes, it was revolutionary. No, it hasn’t been beaten. They set the bar high, but in the exact right space.

-I definitely felt some kind of way when Batwoman was getting press for being out and a superhero because, HEY! Milestone was there FIRST.

-(a correction because I was wrong on one point:) Milestone was 1993, Alpha Flight [and Northstar coming out] was 1992. Credit where credit’s due, though, despite Byrne being his typical douchebag self. [why did I diss Byrne there? Not sure– a) he’s subhuman b) his big plan for Northstar to get AIDS and die was stupid c) I was just talking yang d) all of the above]

-There are a bunch of McDuffie comics to read on @Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited. I recommend his Fantastic Four.

-John Ridley and Georges Jeanty’s The American Way is on Comixology. You should buy it if you like racism or good comics (or both). First taste is free, the next seven issues are two bones each. I wrote about American Way two years ago, so read this and then read that.

-This Rahm Emanuel Twitter thing is crazy. Great read, wonderful gimmick, profane, funny, interesting… great gimmick Twitter.

Matt Seneca on George Herriman, and a panel from a strip I dug quite a bit.

-Romina Moranelli is an ill artist. DeviantArt, website.

-I want to do another series of art posts. Pretty Girls is nice, but now it’s like, been there, done that. I’ve got an idea, too. Might call it “Nice With the Pen,” and it’ll be a multi-creator round-up, rather than focused, and I’m not sure how much commentary I want to throw in it. Not a lot, I don’t think, because good art stands on its own. Just a round-up of stuff I saw that week that I liked, whether old or new. Maybe “7 Days, 4 Colors.” Who knows. There’s probably an album title I can jack.

-I liked this review of Daughters of the Dragon that Jonathan Rosselli wrote. Not because he says nice things about me (compliments are tricks!), but because he has some real good reasons for digging that book.

Sean Witzke runs this piece. Nobody beats the Witz, and here he’s talking about a Moebius book I’ve never read. Time to hit the library, right? This is good stuff.

-Is there a worse nickname than “the Witz?” I apologize.

Stan Sakai interviews Usagi. Oh my.

-If you write about comics online without even so much as mentioning the people who created the book you’re talking about… you suck, doggie. Stop writing. Retire. Nobody likes you. Grow up. There’s nothing about Batman that’s intrinsically awesome. Somebody made stories that made you like him. At least pretend like you care.

-Creators up, characters down.

-Quick hits: Mass Effect 2 is nice, I need to get back to Persona 3 Portable, Patapon 2 is fun, Justin Cronin’s The Passage is pretty good thus far (I’m not to the vampires yet), and… that’s all I got. Oh, no–I’ve been reading Rei Hiroe’s Black Lagoon. The anime grated, the manga doesn’t, and I can’t figure out why, but whatever whatever. Volume 6 is out of print, though, which is trouble.

-How awful is Kanye’s “All of the Lights” video? Cripes, remember when Hype could make you wish you were in a rap video? What happened to that toy?

-Remember these? That Kanye no-step and lean is still the only dance I do.

-Lauryn Hill, man.

i slapped my girl, she called the feds

David: Power Man & Iron Fist 2
Esther: Action Comics 898 and possibly Detective Comics #874
Gavin: (maybe) Metalocalypse Dethklok 3, Justice League Generation Lost 20, Incorruptible 15, Avengers 10, Captain America 615, Deadpool Team-Up 884, Deadpool 33, Incredible Hulks 623, Iron Man 2.0 1, Namor The First Mutant 7, Power Man And Iron Fist 2, Punisher In The Blood 4, Secret Avengers 10

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The Cipher 12/29/10

December 29th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

girls who are boys, who like boys to be girls
created: Not a whole lot, but I’m pretty happy with what we’ve got.

-We’re in the home stretch of Digital December. Two more pieces this week and done. To catch up, peep my interview with Fantagraphics about their run up to digital publishing. You can also check out seven things you want to see in digital comics, where I pull reax from Twitter and talk about them. Finally, I look at spin and call it out in terms of ownership and digital books. Non-digital–here are ten Marvel books to read in 03/11.

and I’m too tired to care about it. can’t you see this in my face, my face
consumed: Still on comics hiatus while I’m on vacation, which is somehow simultaneously grind time (bang bang bang). I got through a few things, though.

-I’ve been burning through Akira Toriyama’s Dr. Slump. I knocked out the first four volumes over the course of four days. Good bedtime reading, and so densely packed with jokes that each page is great. There’s a chapter early with a joke that revolves around Arale being a robot without a vagina, and Senbei is like “I didn’t put one on because I haven’t seen one before! All the magazines are censored!” Weird reading a comic for kids that’s like, “Dirty magazines? Yeah, our main dude reads them constantly and is a huge pervert. Also this chapter is about vaginas.”

-Sort of makes, “Hey kids! Comics!” look stupid in hindsight, don’t it? I vote we all stop saying that.

-I read Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy’s Shang-Chi: The Hellfire Apocalypse. I’m trying to wrap my head around Gulacy still. His art style doesn’t quite appeal to me, but I like the way he does fight scenes. He can dip into the T&A well a little too much, but his camera angles and staging are good. More on this guy later, I’m sure, as I figure out who he is and how he came to be.

-This is what happens when we allow moe to run wild:

-Speaking of moe:

-I’ve been listening to a lot of The Beatles this past weekend. Just on a whim, really. I’m not very familiar with their catalog, so I asked around to see where I should start. That ended up meaning listening to Revolver about ten times from what, Thursday to Monday? Then I switched to Rubber Soul. I like a lot of it. Deeper thoughts as I continue my trip through their library. A post of its own.

-“Eleanor Rigby” is fantastic, though. I had no idea that that’s where Bobby Ray got the chorus from “Lonely People” from, but that’s another song I dug. I bet this pissed off however many Beatles fans listen to southern rap when it came out, huh? Video’s mildly nsfw, I guess, though everything is blurred out.

-Marty over at TFO didn’t like it much, I don’t think, and apparently I did know that it was a flip of “Eleanor Rigby,” because I’m in the comments down there. I just didn’t know that it was “Eleanor Rigby” from The Beatles, is all, I guess.

-More Marty: His review of Das Racist’s Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man is great. I liked Shut Up way more than Sit Down, but this is the kind of review that makes me want to go back and bump them back to back to back to back. He pulls out what works about the music, provides context for the albums, works in the sociopolitical context, too… this guy is good. Das Racist is good, too.

-The Deborah Solomon interview he mentions is here. She’s completely out of her depth. This is the best bit, though:

Like most musicians, you dislike the process of categorizing your work. That said, how would you categorize your work?
Suri: It’s a realist painting of a collage. Vazquez: I would say we are proto-postworld pop.

Ha. Is that capitalized?
Vazquez: It’s all capitalized! Suri: All caps everything!

-“ALL CAPS EVERYTHING.” I think Jay-Z once said, “I might type in all caps for a year straight, I might bring back Cazal shades.” Look it up.

Here’s Witzke on the Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach:

Gorillaz is a 21st century project as it is larger than just songs on wax, and how much work/knowledge the audience brings to their time with it. If you are a Jamie Hewllet fan, who’s been reading all his comics for years, Gorillaz is a completely different experience if you’ve never heard of the him before this. There is a matrix of “if, then” questions that determine what you can and will take away from Gorillaz as a project, most of them are deliberate on Albarn and Hewlett’s part, some of them aren’t (consider – this is the first Gorillaz project without any overt George Romero zombie or Exorcist references – did you know that? Do you care? Do I?).

Basically, you should be reading that.

-Listen to these while you do so. “Rhinestone Eyes” (dig those Jamie Hewlett storyboards) and “Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach” with tha Doggfather. (“Helicopters fly over the beach/ Same time everyday, same routine/ Clear target in the summer when skies are blue.”

I love his letters (BOOM!) and how he draws De La and the other guests of Plastic Beach.

-Some idle thoughts on Plastic Beach: Murdoc is the villain of the Gorillaz. That much is true. Noodle and Russ are pretty self-sufficient. Russ has his mental issues, but he knows better than to trust Murdoc farther than he can throw him. Noodle, though, is 100% in control, with Demon Days being her Jean Grey in New X-Men moment. 2D, however, just kinda follows along. He’s been stuck with Murdoc for years, and at this point, Murdoc’s kidnapped him and taken him to Plastic Beach. That makes 2D the damsel in distress, doesn’t it?

-2D and the clown mask–is it a coping mechanism? Intentional dissociation? Transference? There’s an interview someplace where he talks about wearing the clown mask in the “Stylo” video and how it got shot up. Did I imagine that? Maybe it was on the iTunes Sessions EP. He’s terrified of Cyborg Noodle, though. Does that make his participation in “Doncamatic” a cry for help? “Talk to me talk to me talk to me” while wearing an outfit that Murdoc clearly picked out for him.

-Jack Sullivan agrees with me. “If you invert the island it’s like he’s trapped in a tower, and the whale is like a dragon, so pretty much yeah.”

-What’s “Doncamatic” mean? Nonsense word?

-What’s it mean that Murdoc made such an extremely pop-sounding album that’s actually kind of sad and foreboding once you get past the sound?

-Here’s Gorillaz covering The xx’s “Crystalised.” You can see Daley in this one. Also “Doncamatic” and “On Melancholy Hill”. “Empire Ants” on Letterman.

-I should stop. There’s a ton of official live Gorillaz on Youtube, and turning youtubes to mp3s is easy and I should stop now before it’s 3am.

-The time between me writing that “I should stop” bit and actually stopping watching youtube: enough time to save like eight or nine fresh new live Gorillaz tracks, including the entire Letterman sessions.

-I have a problem.

i got my head checked by a jumbo jet. it wasn’t easy, but nothing is, no
David: New Mutants 20
Esther: Action Comics 896, Tiny Titans 35 Possible: The Dark Knight 1, Detective Comics 872
Gavin: Green Lantern 61, Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine 4, Avengers 8, Captain America 613, Carnage 2, Daken: Dark Wolverine 4, Deadpool Team-Up 886, Hulk 28, Secret Warriors 23, Ultimate Comics Avengers 3 5, (maybe) Ultimate Comics Thor 3, What If 200

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The Cipher 10/13/10

October 13th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

keys open doors
-NYCC shouts: Witzke, Jared, Tucker, the whole FBB4l! death squad, Tim Callahan, Sims, Julian, Deb Aoki, Ed Chavez, Laura Hudson, Prof Gray, Kiel Phegley, Caleb and Anna, Bergen St Tom and Bergen St Amy, Cheryl Lynn, the iFanboys, and everyone else I met whose name I instantly forgot when I blinked my eyes after being introduced. I’m sorry, it’s just that my brain is so full of cut-n-paste snark blogging that I can’t even build short-term memory any more.

-Anybody else attend the X-Men panel? I thought it was funny when PAD showed up and announced that whoever placed the panels so far from either the show floor or Artist’s Alley should die? A couple years back he was going off on people online for that, but I guess it’s all to the good in person!

-See?! It’s a compulsion! I can barely type a whole sentence without mentioning how there hasn’t been a good Typhoid Mary story since Ann Nocenti left the character!

-Special shouts to everyone who said that they a) listened to, b) enjoyed, c) loved, or d) all of the above the Fourcast!. That was pretty flattering. Also everyone who mentioned the posts where I say things about race and comical books. This was a super flattering con. Good thing my ego’s already as big as humanly possible, you know?

-Kicked off the con weekend by giving a guest lecture to two classes and two and a half hours of karaoke.

-How good is The Outfit? I’ll have to hire a 4l! intern to scan some pages out of it so I can talk about it some.

-What was up with fans behaving badly at NYCC? Apparently some Lian Harper cosplayer got invited up onto a DC panel and then went on to complain about Jason Todd’s hair color and some other crap? There was also a belligerent Sgt Rock cosplay who was real upset about Frankencastle and accosted another panel. I’m sure there was some OMD/BND strife, too. C’mon, son. It’s just comics. It’s not that serious.

-Every year I go to one of these, I end up adjusting how I interact with comics as a whole. The first year, I was greedy guts, thirsty for signatures and books and panels. Attending a World War Hulk panel killed all that noise real quick, though, and now I only attend corporate comics panels if I gotta. They’re awful. The panels to go to are ones featuring either smaller publishers, like Oni or Top Shelf, or focused on a specific creator. Creator spotlights are great.

-Last year, it was all about original art and sketches. I got a Risso sketch and a gang of others.

-This year, I realized that I don’t care about signatures (though I do still like sketches/art) and it was all about 1) books and 2) my friends. Meeting creators at a con is nice and all, but it’s too one-sided for me. “Hi I like your books it’s nice to meet you can you make this out to David?” I don’t really get anything out of that.

-I’d rather meet someone at a bar or somewhere less formal than stand in a line to shake their hands and then catch them hand sanitizing it up thirty seconds later, you know? Email, over drinks, anywhere outside of the context of a comics convention is great. Within the building, though? I’d rather talk and walk with my friends.

-I do like those brief moments where you run into a creator you know or a friend on the floor while traveling in opposite directions, though. I saw Tim & Ryan Callahan, Geoff Johns, Kate Dacey, Marc Bernardin, and a few others that way.

-There was a super fine Ramona Flowers running around the con on Friday. She was quickly dubbed Ethnically Ambigious Ramona Flowers by the crew, and if you’re reading this: you won the con. Don’t let anybody tell you different.

-We gotta get rid of the Sexy Jailbait Anime Costume cosplays, though. If you needed to get parental permission to attend the con, please put some clothes on.

-I wore a three piece suit on Saturday.

-Sims talking about how he would kill Stephanie Brown “9 times” on the Comics Alliance panel killed me. Hopefully the video will be up soon, and hopefully I didn’t make too many stupid faces.

-Oh yeah, from the preview for ASM this week:

Bringing back Hypno Hustler, however briefly? Mark Waid, you are the dreamiest. Truly.

keys open doors
Wrote: I wrote a bunch of panel recaps while I was at NYCC, but there’s not a single bit of news in there I thought was ground breaking or worth paying attention to. Instead, read about Chi’s Sweet Home, 7 Billion Needles, and Redline, an anime that makes the Wachowski Speed Racer flick look like a fraud.

I’ve got a column at Moviefone now, too. The first is about five non-cape comic movies we need to see.

Read: I bought a gang of French and Alan Davis comics at NYCC, including an ill Eduardo Risso/Carlos Trillo book I’ve never seen before. On the plane, I read Twin Spica 01, Twin Spica 02, Twin Spica 03, Power Girl Vol. 2: Aliens & Apes, and Spin Angels. All of them were good to very good, and I’ll have longer bits on them later. And now that the Palmiotti/Gray/Conner Power Girl is done, I can go back to pretending like Power Girl doesn’t exist.

keys keys open doors
David: Amazing Spider-Man 645, Thor 616
Esther: Definitely: Knight and Squire 1, Maybe: Return of Bruce Wayne 5, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home – Batgirl, The Outsiders, Batman and Robin, Red Robin, Doc Savage 7
Gavin: Batman Return Of Bruce Wayne 5, Booster Gold 37, Green Lantern 58
Justice League Generation Lost 11, Knight & Squire 1, Welcome To Tranquility One Foot Grave 4, Daken Dark Wolverine 2, Deadpool Corps 7, Incredible Hulks 614, New Avengers 5, Irredeemable 18

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4thletter! Film Fest

May 26th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Sean did it because Wolkin asked him to. I’m doing it because I can. I’m picking movies for a personal film festival. These aren’t my favorite (that would be Out of the Past), but I love all of them. No explanations, though the titles of each day should give you an idea what I’m going for. Feel free to chime in. If you’re really puzzled, I’ll explain in the comments.

Three movies a day. I could probably come up with a food menu for these, too, for the full David Brothers Experience.

Friday: Nothing Succeeds Like Excess
Ninja Scroll, directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (dub) (possibly on second generation VHS)
Scarface, directed by Brian De Palma
Bad Boys II, directed by Michael Bay

Saturday: Building Blocks
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, directed by Steve Barron
Akira, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (original dub)
Malcolm X, directed by Spike Lee

Sunday: A History of Violence
Seven Samurai, directed by Akira Kurosawa (sub)
The Killer, directed by John Woo (dub)
Blade, directed by Stephen Norrington

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Station Identification

March 1st, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I’m taking a couple days break now that BHM is over, so it’ll be a few days before I get back to calling DC stupid and Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass racist. In light of that fact, now’s as good a time as any to remind you who we are and what we do!

4l! turns five years old this month. The anniversary is later in the month, and hopefully we’ll have some cool business going on. Five years, though, dang. If you have anniversary stuff you want us to do, drop a comment down below.

4thletter! is
Gavin: Funny stuff and wrestling
Esther: Batman and Batman
David: Black people and exasperation

RSS feed for posts
RSS feed for comments
Livejournal syndication
Facebook page
iTunes page for the Fourcast!
RSS feed for the Fourcast!

The Family
Blog@Newsarama: Psyche.
Cheryl Lynn: Cheryl likes to send me links that are to either funny animated gifs or are meant to get me writin’ mad. She’s also the maintainer of The Ormes Society.
The Factual Opinion: TFO is the home of Tucker and Nina Stone. Nina’s just looking for somecomic to love while Tucker’s handing out two-fisted reviews. Both are worth reading.
Funnybook Babylon: Chris, Pedro, Joe, Jamaal, and David U bring some tough talk for funnybooks.
Julian Lytle: Creator of Ants and dope artist. Check out his reviews and miscellany on Ignorant Bliss.
Ron Wimberly: Dope artist, creator of Gratuitous Ninja, jet-setting dude who does a whole lot.
Sean Witzke: Sean is the kind of guy who brings up something you’ve seen a million times and completely dismantles it, forcing you to look at it in a new light. You don’t get it, boy. Supervillain isn’t his blog. It’s an operating table. And he’s the surgeon.

If I forgot you… I forgot you. Peace!

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Fourcast! 29: Talking About Comics Internet

January 18th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Ooh, welcome to Name Drop City, where the comics are good and the girls are pretty!

-Noted comics critic David Uzumeri of Funky Babylon gives us an intro
-Theme music: 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-What’re we talking about? Comics internet! Who we read, what we like, what we dislike, and so on.
Twitter is David‘s favorite comics site, and at recording time, David Uzumeri‘s open letter to DC Comics was the big thing.
-Peter David and Gail Simone: sometimes they get into heated arguments with people on the internet. Here is Jim Halpert from The Office doing an impression of what Esther does when things like that happen:
Read the rest of this entry �

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Marian Churchland is Beasting

September 4th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Marian Churchland is the real deal.

I hadn’t heard of her until Sean Witzke started talking her up and I began following Brandon Graham’s livejournal. I haven’t read anything else by Churchland, though she’s done some Conan and Elephantmen work this year.

beast_ogn_coverHer original graphic novel “Beast,” which hits comic shops on September 23rd, is an amazing introduction to the woman and her work. It’s the tale of Colette, a young sculptor, who ends up being hired to sculpt a piece of flawless white marble for a client. In return, she’ll get enough money to pay her rent for a year, if not more. The issue is that she has to live in the house with the block until she’s done, and her client is something other than human.

As with any good story, that is just where it begins. Beast veers off into something else entirely very quickly. Within the first dozen pages is a very good horror turn, one of the best in recent memory. A slasher doesn’t jump out of the bushes while Colette runs away in her underwear, or anything even remotely as obvious, but the book takes a hard left where I was expecting something else.

It instantly made me re-assess what I thought the book was about. I wondered if the book was about the Apocalypse, and that the titular Beast was the Beast of Revelation. If she finished the sculpture, was the end of the world going to begin? Was she going to fight back somehow?

The idea floated around in my brain while Churchland slowly revealed the secrets of the marble and Beast and eventually debunked what was, in hindsight, a cockamamie theory. That vague sense of ambiguity about the story enhances the work, though, turning it into a tale that’s occasionally melancholy, always compelling, and, as a first work, simply amazing. It isn’t a horror comic, it isn’t a romance comic, it isn’t a weepy depresso comic. It’s just the kind of comic you should read. You don’t get to prejudge it and put it in a little box.

Churchland wrote and drew the story, and her art is full of those useless details that count for so much. The tag sticking up from Colette’s boxer shorts, the way her vest rides up a little, and her messy hair bun– all a lot of nothing, but very important in terms of building atmosphere and character. The art has a bit of Geof Darrow about it. Couches aren’t just the platonic ideal of a couch. They’re ripped, rumpled, and torn. Clothes shift and bunch, and faces turn from sleepily tired to worried and don’t need words to express it.

When the art goes from the soft tan tone and clean line work to the gritty and messy pencilwork that is the first appearance of Beast, you feel uncomfortable. When Colette wakes up, the world is different and she’s a little off. The art, too, is different- a different shade of color. That shade soon gives way to grey, as Colette finally meets Beast, and when she shivers and bursts into tears while an uncaring woman stands behind her, well– it works. It works really, really, really well.


The details are what stuck with me the most, I think. The dried smudge of leftover tears on Colette’s face, the way Beast is defined (but not really), the disarray of the house, and the way the marble looks. All of it looks great. The colors change fairly often, but it always works within the story. It happens when a new day appears, or Colette’s perspective changes, or Beast reveals something new.

Beast is a mature and wonderfully paced work. It’s melancholy, wistful, maybe a little magical (for lack of a better term), and the character interaction is what makes it work. It can be a little rough around the edges, but never in a way that’s distracting. In fact, I never felt like the story was dragging, and I breezed through all 140-ish pages in one sitting. There are a few things I don’t quite buy, but that’s pretty much water under the bridge. I’m genuinely impressed, and I can’t wait to see what she’s doing next. If she can hit us with one of these a year, I’d be happy. Really, I think I’d be happy to read whatever she wants to work on.

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