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CSBG Archive

Random Thoughts! (October 27, 2009)

Random Thought! I sometimes write these in my underwear. It’s random thoughts time! Get excited!

Random Thought! Reread reviews return Sunday as I begin Nostalgia November here at Comics Should be Good. Every day in November, I will read and discuss one comic from a box of comics that I brought back from my parents’ house. The box contains a random assortment of comics from my childhood, so it’s a nice trip back to my youth. Sundays will have a reread review and a Nostalgia November post as, for the reread reviews, I spend November looking back at the death and return of Superman for four Sundays and, since November has five Sundays, will end the month with the Marvel 2099 crossover “Fall of the Hammer.” Oh, this should be fun.

Random Thought! Not related to comics, but last week’s 411 Wrestling Top 5 column asked a question that’s been nagging at me: if you had to choose five wrestlers (one selection can be a tag-team) to start a promotion, which five wrestlers would you pick? You can see the results that the guys there picked, but I wanted to share my picks for the three of you who also watch wrestling.

1. Chris Jericho. Not just because I’m a big fan of his, but because he’s probably the best all-around performer in North American wrestling (maybe the world, but I don’t know that stuff well enough to say for sure). Fantastic mic skills, can have a great match with anyone, a main event-level wrestler who has no problem putting other guys over or not being in the spotlight all of the time, and also very creative, always willing to come up with great ideas for his character and feuds. He can be a heel, he can be a face, he can do it all.

2. John Cena. Because you need a main event draw and no one does that better these days than Cena. Not only that, but he’s also a guy who’s willing to put guys over and do what’s good for the company as a whole — that he’s been kept on top so long is more a result of the WWE’s booking decisions than him demanding it. He also works hard to deliver his best every single time he’s out there. I won’t always take passion over skill, but Cena is a case where his passion more than makes up for whatever skills he lacks.

3. Samoa Joe. A big, thick guy with fantastic in-ring skills. He can also be face or heel, which is good. Not much more to say. He’s also young enough that he’s got a while before he’ll retire. An established main event star who also does midcard feuds, not someone who requires to be in a world belt feud at all times.

4. Legacy (Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase). You need young, future stars and this tag-team fits the bill best. Their work against DX the past few months has shown that they can deliver on a main event level and look to be future world champions. I’m choosing them over someone like John Morrison pretty much because, as a tag-team, it’s a two-for-one deal.

5. CM Punk. I debated this final spot between Punk and AJ Styles, but I think Punk is stronger overall. They’re both at similar levels in their careers, but Punk’s in-ring abilities are less ‘spot monkey’ and his mic work is much better than where Styles is at. Although, with Styles as TNA champ right now, maybe we’ll see even more improvement from him. Punk, though, has been pure gold since his slow heel turn after cashing in his second Money in the Bank briefcase.

Overall, I went with a make-up of six guys: two established vets (Cena not quite a long-standing vet, but enough of one), two main event-status newcomers, and two future stars.

Random Thought! The old saying goes that not many people bought the Velvet Underground’s first album, but everyone that did started their own band. Is there something like that in comics?

Random Thought! Nothing about selling a short story makes you feel like a real writer like having to sign contracts. Contracts mean business, which means professional.

Random Thought! I love the look of books on a shelf… especially trades. They look better than regular books, honestly. Especially when you get a nice uniform spine design like Vertigo used for Hellblazer until Denise Mina’s run.

Random Thought! As much as I love the comics Avatar publishes, I hate their generic covers. The company is better than that. Though, I do like the painted portrait Ignition City covers, the ‘warning sign’ Doktor Sleepless covers (though they cost more, which is bullshit), and dug that the colours on each No Hero cover went through the spectrum. Otherwise, though… the company publishes books by fantastic writers featuring very talented artists, they could be delivering gorgeous, knock-you-on-your-ass covers.

Random Thought! It’s a good thing I’m not an artist, because then I’d probably do stupid things like trying to figure out how to do Ulysses and Gravity’s Rainbow as graphic novels. Okay, that would be pretty cool, actually.

Random Thought! Patrick Bateman is who Bruce Wayne would have grown up to be if his parents had lived. And was a young man in the ’80s. I still believe that, to keep the Bruce Wayne persona up, Batman had to do a lot of cocaine in the ’80s. Also: does Batman care about the legal issues regarding any of Bruce Wayne’s associates having illegal immigrants as domestic help? What’s his position on white collar crime?

Random Thought! Apparently, CBR’s traffic is up 25% from a year ago. I began reviewing for them this time last year. Hmm… so, the year that I’ve been reviewing for them, traffic has gone up… interesting… heh. (And that’s when I get an e-mail from Jonah telling me what the hits on my reviews are and I shut up…)

Random Thought! “Station to Station” is amazing.

Random Thought! New feature at the blog: Rated R Reviews. Haven’t quite gotten a handle on what I want to do with them yet, but it’s an evolving feature. Really brief reviews when I seemingly talk about the comics in somewhat tangental ways.

Random Thought! Up earlier today: the Top 25 Warren Ellis Comics, something that began in one of these posts, went through a Splash Page, and, then, Tim’s “When Worlds Collide” column this week. With all that Tim and I agree on, is it any surprise that we’re getting as much as we can out of one area where we differ?

Random Thought! Just for you guys, the five runners-up for the top 25 Warren Ellis comics (in no particular order): Iron Man: Extremis, Frankenstein’s Womb, City of Silence, Freakangels, and Ignition City.

Random Thought! One Ellis work that I have a lot of fondness for but know that it doesn’t crack the top 30 is Switchblade Honey, the little space graphic novel he did for AiT/Planet Lar. Basically, humanity is at war with an alien species that is kicking the shit out of them, so they put together a group of military criminals (basically the good people who didn’t fit in or follow orders) and tell them to go off and be the Viet Cong, basically. To help save humanity by being guerrilla fighters. Some nice jokes at the expense of Star Trek and its various shows. Not much more than Ellis drunk having fun — but aren’t those the sort of things that stay with you sometimes?

Random Thought! This week, I’m reviewing Blackest Night #4 for CBR…

50 Comments

First off, I never want you to mention your underwear and tell me to get excited in such close proximity to one another again.

Second, there is already a Gravity’s Rainbow graphic novel. Kind of. Close as anyone’s going to get, at any rate. http://www.amazon.com/Pictures-Showing-Happens-Pynchons-Gravitys/dp/0977312798/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1256678415&sr=1-4

Third, Station to Station is indeed totally amazing and is one of my favorite albums.

Finally, Patrick Bateman and Batman are two of my favorite fictional characters and I am thrilled that you have found a way to link them. And I think you may be right too.

Switchblade Honey reads like a sci-fi reimagining of The Dirty Dozen…the good one with Telly Savalas and Ernest Borgnine.

Your last random thought had a really ominous tone :-)

By the way, what did you think of Tim Callahan’s Top 10(.25) Geoff Johns comics?

After watching Dark Knight and American Psycho, I find it amazing how much Patrick Bateman and Bruce Wayne look like each other. They could be twins!

The closest equivalent of Velvet Underground in comics I think would be the original Eastman/Laird issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It lead to a whole FLOOD of DIY indie comics hitting the market that were often raw and crude but had great energy and creativity.

I’d suggest throwing out Legacy, adding Jerishow (that way you get Jericho and the Big Show in one pick) and then add in AJ Styles. Mostly because I think Legacy is pretty bland, personality wise.

And I’d love to see Samoa Joe and CM Punk in the same promotion again.

“Random Thought! The old saying goes that not many people bought the Velvet Underground’s first album, but everyone that did started their own band. Is there something like that in comics?”

I have to agree with T. and say that TMNT would be the closest parallel, with Love & Rockets in a distant (but respectable) second.
-r-

LouReedRichards

October 27, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Yeah, I think your right T.

TMNT sure did spawn a whole bunch of indie comics.

Speaking of Spawn, I was going to mention the Image guys as having inspired (I use the term loosely) to start doing comics. But then I realized that tons and tons of people bought their stuff right off the bat.

Plus, I’d hate to compare the Image guys to the Velvets in any way shape or form.

Dang, I was just listening to Station to Station on my way home from work today. Bowie at his best.

I think that to compare The Velvet Underground to TMNT misses the point of the analogy. The VU anecdote implies that the only people interested in the Velvets ended up being musically influential in their own right. That is to say, wider audiences would be exposed to Velvet Underground influence through more popular acts, without necessarily appreciating the connection.

Pretty much everyone is directly familiar with TMNT, and any comics that were inspired by TMNT existed solely because of the Turtles’ commercial success.

The first thing I thought of when I read the Random THought was the Hernandez Bros. and Love and Rockets. Love and Rockets is respected within the industry as one of the most important independent/alternative comics ever, and the influence of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez is present in the work of many creators from subsequent generations.

“This week, I’m reviewing Blackest Night #4 for CBR.”

Especially given your recent exchange with Tim C., that should be interesting. Looking forward to it.

Pretty much everyone is directly familiar with TMNT, and any comics that were inspired by TMNT existed solely because of the Turtles’ commercial success.

I wouldn’t say that. People at the time sincerely thought it was a great book. But the crudeness of it at the same time made people think it was possible for them to do the same too. That was a major part of Velvet Underground inspiring people: not just how good they were but also how BAD they were. When you listened to it, it was awesome and catchy enough to love, but technically it was also awful enough that you thought “Wait, I can do that!” When you listen to Michael Jackson or Prince or the Beatles you love it but think I could never be that good because they’re so technically excellent you feel you’ll never be that good no matter how hard you try. When you listen to Velvet Underground you think “Hey, maybe being a rock star isn’t so hard after all. I could be this good in a year. I already sing better than Lou Reed.”

I think it was the same thing with Laird and Eastman. It was inventive, but let’s be honest (and I say this as a fan) it was pretty low-execution and very blatantly DIY.

I think Love and Rockets is a very good example too by the way.

I’d attribute CBR’s increase in traffic to Newsarama’s decrease in quality. Sad to say, but personally that’s why I prefer CBR over Rama when it used to be the other way around previous to the purchase by Imaginova.

And yes, Jericho is amazing. I loved his work way back when the WCW was still around and he had his feuds with Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera. Good stuff from Jericho even way back then.

Tom Fitzpatrick

October 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

“I sometimes write these in my underwear. ”

A little too much information there.

I hear the artist of Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat did his works in the nude, and sometimes receives guests au natural.

Dunno why I thought of such a “random” and “useless” trivia.

It’s been a while since I read any Batman, but I doubt if he would care at all about immigration violations. Batman has no compunction about breaking laws under certain circumstances (breaking and entering, assault), so clearly he’s not the sort to insist that all laws must be obeyed at all times. And since there is no conceivable ethical or moral justification for any immigrationa laws (quite the opposite), it doesn’t seem likely that he would ever want to enforce them.

i’d have to say hunky dory was at bowie at his best but to each his own

Regarding something that not many read but that influenced many, what about the original 1970’s Manhunter stories from Detective Comics? Not sure what the sales were on these issues, and if that would fit the criteria or not, but I believe that there’s an incredible amount of love for these stories among those in the industry. And I share that love, as a fan.

Another VU-type comic: Cerebus, the first major self-published comic.

This is a comics site, not a wrestling site.

So, gee, Nevett, is there something you’re trying to tell us, and not subtley at all? If you sold a short story you’re allowed to come right out and brag about it, you know.

Hunky Dory is better, but they’re both great albums. I actually think Bowie’s first album is the best. (And I mean the actual first album, not the Man of Words,Man of Music/Space Oddity album, which is sometimes listed as first.) I love Sell Me A Coat, She’s Got Medals, Love You Til Tuesday– all those great songs. I know I’m the only person in the world who prefers that album, but that’s just the way I am.

No Crécy on your Ellis list? That’s a glaring omission.

Regarding T’s comments:

I agree with most of your points, particularly the do-it-yourself aspect of early TMNT. My only point of contention is that TMNT was SO popular at the time, whereas, VU was only listened to by musicians. (At least, according to the story)

A better analogy for the Turtles, I think, is early Beatles. The simpler “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” stuff, that was immensely and immediately popular, but still accessible enough to inspire countless knockoffs. (Maybe we should be comparing the Monkees and the Radioactive Adolescent Blackbelt Hamsters.)

It feels a little bit snobby to talk about the Velvet Underground and Love and Rockets, but I still think that’s the best analogy.

I suspect that traffic for CBR is up by 25% because it was a year ago (or more?) that Newsarama got…weird. You guys were the next best alternative, and it’s paid off.

Yeah, I gotta echo the wrestling complaint, I really couldn’t care less about it. It’d be like reviewers here rambling about the new Lady Gaga album, or watching Gossip Girl. Nothing wrong with either of those (well, that was a flat-out lie, but anyways…), but they don’t belong on the blog, and it feels like a waste.

JK — I’m not a Big Show fan and haven’t really dug his tagging with Jericho — I would have preferred someone like Kane who can do more in the ring.

sgt pepper — Yeah, I sold a short story. And I’ll brag how I want to.

alan coil and stealthwise — If that was the only thing I discussed here, I’d apologise, but it was one item, it’s my post, I’ll write what I want. I mentioned music, too, and you didn’t get too upset. I made reference to books (prose), too. And, sometimes, my personal life. And other people get something from those thoughts. Plus, my post, I write what I want.

The wrestling part was 523 words out of 1281, so… just over 40% of your post, despite the fact that it was just “one item.” It’s irritating for the reason I named, CSBG is primarily about comics, and your comment doesn’t tie in at all (unlike the one about music). A one-off blurb here and there is one thing, but… you’re right though, you can write what you want.

I was referring to my “Station to Station” comment.

And I do understand your point, but there’s also this: I spend A LOT of time writing about and thinking about comics. I need to throw in the odd non-comics thought for my sanity. A variety-style regular post like this is a good place since it can get lost in the shuffle easily.

Everyone here loves David Bowie and Wrestling. Awesome.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 27, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Is there something like that in comics?

Everyone who read Young Liars is cooler than everyone who didn’t.

Not much more than Ellis drunk having fun — but aren’t those the sort of things that stay with you sometimes?

I often think about that one.
If the ending had been stronger, it would have been great.
Heck, I wish the bugger was writing it as an ongoing.

Nah, the real kool thing is Lucius Shepard’s Vermillion.

I remember when TMNT first came out, it was this snarky little homebrew book that was poking major fun at the “popular” themes (read being shoehorned into EVERY title possible by the big two). I also think that that’s why it became so popular itself (many folks didn’t get the joke and/or sarcasm and then once marketing got their hands on it it had just enough originality left for them to beat it into a mainstream phenomena). When I read one of the first copies (dam I wish I held onto it) I was laughing my ass off at seeing the “gritty”, “outcast” (be it mutant or teenage or BETTER YET both) aspects being turned on their ear (hey it worked so well for batman and the xmen and the titans ….. let’s do TURTLES, every ones loves funny animals). Yet when a few friends looked at it who weren’t into collecting they thought it was fabulous, I laughed a bit figuring they didn’t get “the joke”. Fool that I was I didn’t get “the masses”. So yeah I’d totally agree with the VU & TMNT anthology (hell I even gave thought to trying it myself “Wow, if they could do it and I’m easily twice the smartass that they are”).
Well, anyone wanna back my idea for “Secret preteen mutant wolverine Trouts who’ve exerienced a black Night” maxiseries?

I disagree with how many parenthesis you chose to use. Anyway, No one loved funny animals in 1980 because no one ever loved funny animals, at ALL. TMNT wasn’t popular because it was the obvious next step in the . . . Christ, whatever Carl Barks didn’t take care of.

TMNT isn’t VU because more people know who Splinter is than who Lou Reed is. And also because TMNT never led to artistic expansion.

Usagi Yojimbo

Plenty of people know who Lou Reed is now, and very few knew who Splinter was in 1984. And while they say that everyone who bought Velvet Underground’s first album joined a band, no-one ever said that they were all good bands.

If you read those early issues of TMNT, though, they’re strongly influenced by Miller’s Daredevil (right down to the toxic waste bumping off someone’s eyes before bouncing into the sewer) – isn’t that Daredevil run the Velvet Underground of comics? It was dark and cinematic years before Watchmen…

A couple more years, and sci-fi TV will be ready for Switchblade Honey. Right now, it seems like it’s following Battlestar: Galactica (wrestling with serious allegorical issues, overall sense of grimness, supposedly has an endgoal in mind but really doesn’t) which is fine, but…there’s no fun to it. Adapting Switchblade Honey would bridge the gap: it’s serious business, but there’s still joy to be had. By smoking and drinking abusively. (Something it would have in common with Galactica; I kept wondering how they seemed to be barely spaceworthy yet still have a steady supply of booze.)

Ah, VU and comics. 2 of my favorite topics. 2 quick related things: the writer of the Rough Guide to the VU is Peter Hogan, who co wrote the Terra Obscura minis for ABC, and he mentions that Neil Gaiman listened to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music while writing sequences set in hell for Sandman.

As I’ve always heard it, the quote about no one bought their albums but everyone who did started a band is attributed to Brian Eno. I would point out that a lot of the early NYC punks, Jonathan Richman, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, etc, all have said they dug the VU or covered songs of theirs. So as someone said, they are sort of influential by proxy. Although none of my examples are really people who do music that the kids listen to today. Also, as I think T said, the crudeness, the “I can do that” factor helped with the VU. I’m sure, too, that Eno as producer for things like U2 got something of the influence to the masses. Somehow. There’s also the idea that everyone who bought the VU loved it and wanted to do the same thing, and there’s comics like that.

So I’d agree that early TMNT, with the torrent of parodies and the B&W explosion of the late 80s would be analogous.

Love and Rockets, I don’t know. I suppose they led to the Fantagraphics (hm, what’s a similar term for “house style” that would fit here?) type stuff, and that in turn led to the kinds of comics that mainstream media tends to cover or review.

Maybe Maus/Raw? or Weirdo? I’d say those would be comics that never made waves in most comics stores, but everyone who was into them went on to make comics. Again, influence by proxy.

Elfquest?

But my vote is still with Cerebus, as I’m a big fan of that. Apparently not a lot of other people are of the Cerebus Archive, as Diamond appears to be dropping it and Dave Sim is printing/distributing it through ComiXpress. But I’d say there was a “circle” of people who saw what Dave did, and said, hey, self publishing is a viable option. Like Martin Wagner, James Owen, (hmm, go elsewhere for examples), Colleen Doran, Terry Moore and Jeff Smith. By the early 90s when these people were really gearing up and going strong, Dave and Cerebus had established that you could do this, and have a degree of “fame”, although most people in most comics store don’t know about Cerebus. A kind of influence by proxy, as I’m sure there’s people who saw what Jeff and Terry did and started comics themselves.

Anyone know what ever happened to Martin Wagner? I dug Hepcats.

Or Mark Oakley and Thieves and Kings? It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it had it’s moments.

Yes, I COULD look things up online, but I’m lazy.

Is CBR traffic up 25% because of Robot 6?

Cheers,

B

LouReedRichards

October 28, 2009 at 7:39 am

My only objection to Love and Rockets and Cerebus would be that they maintained enough support and recognition through their work to be able to keep at making comics. Whereas the VU pretty much went down in flames because of lack of “success”. I don’t remember at what point the TMNT were when they got optioned for the cartoon series and toys and all the crap that followed. Were they doing ok at that point or were they thinking of closing up shop?

Also, Lou’s solo 70’s work would be a decent comparison to the success of mainstream TMNT. Both were much more popular than the work that preceded it, but were less satisfying in the end. Or maybe I’m just talking out my ass – who knows?

Who’d be the Roxy Music of comics?

LouReedRichards

October 28, 2009 at 7:41 am

Forgot to add that the Hernandez brothers and Dave Sim may have managed their finances better than the Velvets, thereby allowing them to continue to do financially unrewarded work.

spot monkey?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

October 28, 2009 at 10:29 am

I think everyone’s looking way too late — I’d go with something like Robert Crumb’s Mister Natural, which was being published in low-circulation magazines and so forth but ended up essentially setting much of the language of “comix” as an alternative to “comics.” Any arthouse comic today is going to owe much to Crumb, but how many people really knew who he was before that documentary by Terry Zwigoff?

Speaking of wrestling – CM Punk is the reason I started watching again. Well,that and obsessively playing Smackdown vs Raw 2009. I love heels who say what I’m thinking.

isn’t that Daredevil run the Velvet Underground of comics?

I would say no because although that Miller DD run was influential and popular, I don’t think it was crude enough to make a lot of people think they could jump in and do the same thing. I’d say some people even found it intimidating. When I watch VU documentaries, one of the things people praise about the album is how it “democratized” rock music and made people feel like you didn’t have to be a great genius technician in order to say what you wanted to say. It paved the way for music to be democratized even further and made even more crude by punk rock.

I like wrestling, Lady GaGa and I read Young Liars.

Just saying…

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 28, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Right now, it seems like it’s following Battlestar: Galactica (wrestling with serious allegorical issues, overall sense of grimness, supposedly has an endgoal in mind but really doesn’t) which is fine, but…there’s no fun to it.

You didn’t think BSG was fun?
Moral compromises, the death of the individual to for the good of the group, characters slowly becoming what they hate – you don’t think that’s fun?

Something it would have in common with Galactica; I kept wondering how they seemed to be barely spaceworthy yet still have a steady supply of booze.

Like all good soldiers and sailors, setting up a still is first priority!

-The wrestling analysis is on point even with your alternates in Morrison and Styles. I’d also add the Motor City Machineguns, Edge, Christian, Daniels, Amazing Red and Shelton Benjamin as wrestlers who aren’t main eventers but week in week out give matches high on the ‘wow’ factor.

-As a work, I’d include Bone with Love and Rockets as stories that laid storytelling ‘how to’ groundwork for writers of today. On the downside too many writers have taken the worst aspects of Watchmen, Sandman and Dark Knight Returns as the how to and that has led to a lot of comic fun being lost….

-Count me in on the trade thing. Things like the Strangers In Paradise pocket books linking picture binding, the color scheme binding on Y the Last Man and even the trippy-ness of how marvel and dc binds their runs like Avengers and JSA look really cool.

I’m also not interested in wrestling (though I was when I was younger), but as you’ve said, it’s your post. It’s also not too hard to scroll down and skip it.

There are plenty of things on your Warren Ellis list I want to read, but nothing on Tim’s Geoff Johns list (well, maybe 52 and the Flash). Of the things I have read on either list, Transmet and Nextwave are genius (no hyperbole) and Fell is really good, while Infinite Crisis was painful. I recently read Down, and that was fun.

As for the Batman/Bateman thing, I can now mention that I didn’t like Christian Bale as Batman. I think Hugh Jackman would have been much better. It’s a pity he was already Wolverine. I honestly don’t think Bale is a very good actor. He was good as Bateman, but it seems to me that every character he plays is a variation on cold/emotionless/really serious guy. I think Keaton was a better Batman/Bruce, suprising as that was.

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