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Sunday Brunch: 6/27/10

This week, I share some links to the comics internet (as always), go off on a tangent about cultural discovery (as sometimes), and talk about Doctor Who (because no one demanded it!). It’s Sunday. Here’s your brunch.

TANGENTIALLY RELATED TO COMICS DEPT: Leonard Pierce of the AV Club asks “are we in a cultural golden age?”:

First, why—other than the natural laziness that informs most nostalgia—do so many people think that the culture is in decline? Why is the belief that things were better in the mysterious “before” so common that it jumps from generation to generation, like baldness or a bad ticker? While the tendency to be politically conservative knows no particular age, cultural conservatism is as predictable as prostate cancer. Why hasn’t this changed since Sallust’s time?

Me, I think it has to do with a sense of “discovery.” Now, in what way? There’s personal discovery, sure, which guarantees that an era or piece of culture will never be as good as one remembers it being when they first encountered it. That magical time you first heard the Beatles, or read your first Spider-Man, or saw your first Star Wars or Doctor Who or whatnot– that’s the feeling you are endlessly trying to recapture when you take in culture, but that experience becomes harder and harder to replicate as you get older. Every so often, a comic or TV show or movie comes around that makes you feel like that again, and you remember what it’s all for, why you’re a fan in the first place. Nostalgia is a hell of a thing, and it has so much power because it’s tied to that feeling of discovery, usually during childhood, that memory that smells as sweet and savory as freshly-basked cookies and feels as smooth as silk.

Of course, the sense of discovery is important, and as we get older, we can remember old discoveries, through the rosy tint of nostalgia, or we can search for it via new, original things. We have a ton of media available to us these days; for a nominal fee (or free, let’s be honest), you can have almost any piece of culture you want immediately transported into your hands. Culture is literally all around us; I speak not metaphorically, but physically. We’re covered in magical waves of informational energy, transporting a Tom Clancy novel to that guy’s eBook thingie, or a song by The Smiths to that girl’s phone (that’s what all the kids listen to these days, right?), or last night’s episode of Party Down to your laptop (by the way, go seek out Party Down and watch it, dammit).  How much of this stuff is new, though? As our culture expands, it eats itself, cannibalizing bits from the past and Frankensteining itself in a way to look new without actually being new. Today’s new genres are hybrids of the old. Where’s the new rock and roll, the new hip-hop? What comes after post-modernism? Where’s the sensational character find of 2010?

As we get older, nothing seems new anymore. Maybe nothing is new anymore. Maybe we’re cynical old bastards, but maybe there’s some truth to it. With dwindling attention spans, and exponentially expanding culture, what new frontiers are there to explore, new horizons to reach for? Can culture implode? Talk amongst yourselves.

ITEM! io9 reveals Spidey and Hulk comics– printed on toilet paper! I wish they still made these:

For all the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog fans out there

For all the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog fans out there

ITEM! Over at The Village Voice, Ward Sutton draws an amazing comic about the Batman porno (cartoon boobies make it Not Safe For Work, kids), guest-starring quite a few incarnations of Batman throughout time and media:

Batporn trio

ITEM! Zom of the Mindless Ones begins an alphabetical look at Batman’s rogues gallery, beginning with one of my favorites, Anarky. And then everyone in the comments talks about how Alan Grant comics aren’t very good, which is EIGHT HUNDRED KINDS OF WRONG *ahem*.

OBLIGATORY CHRIS SIMS DEPT: This week, Sims writes the travel guide to comics universes:

Downtown parking is adequate (for $5 per day, you can leave your car at the town’s Superstitious Cowardly Parking Lot), but visitors are encouraged to ride the city’s Batrolley, which — thanks to a generous donation from the Wayne Foundation — recently became the country’s first mass transit powered by atomic turbine.

REMAKE/REMODEL this week brings us full circle– to Batgirl, the thing that started the entire remodeling meme on the interwebs. Here’s D-Bed and C-Payne:

Batgirl DBedBatgirl Payne

DOCTOR WHO DEPT: “The Big Bang” Written by Steven Moffat

Who logo

Yep. That was a show.

What has Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who been about? It’s been about fairy tales and stories, memories, cracks in walls, day-glo Daleks, Vincent van Gogh, River Song, Weeping Angels, spoilers, perception filters, timey-wimey goings-on, and a madman with a box. It’s been about choices, and monsters, and death. And bow-ties. Let’s not forget those. Bow-ties are cool. A bloke named John on one of the Who forums, who says he reads this (hi, bloke named John) thinks this finale evoked the God of All Comics himself, Grant Morrison. I can see that, in a Flex Mentallo sort of way– the transformative power of belief. And in a Final Crisis way, in terms of Hypertime and compression. And in a Superman Beyond way, as a hero so super-fictional he must be real. Or as Alan Moore put it: “This is an imaginary story. Aren’t they all?” Who better to have as your fairy tale imaginary friend than The Doctor?

I won’t ruin the plot for those watching on the BBC America or DVD release schedules. I will say that Steven Moffat has lived up to fevered expectation, that Matt Smith has been a revelation, that Karen Gillan is– well, she’s Karen Gillan, isn’t she? Doctor Who has been as great as ever, and I can’t believe the season is over already.

If we’re still talking about cultural discovery– and I am, so sit down– Doctor Who is a thing that can still hit those buttons for me, that makes this thing called “entertainment” worth it. I used to watch Buffy religiously, and Doctor Who has filled that obsessive hole in my heart. Every episode has the potential to astound, move, or inspire. Often, it’s all three, all at the same time, in a show that laughs in the face of genre. Frankly, I think DC or Marvel could stand to learn from the show; here’s a nearly 50-year franchise that still manages to feel new and exciting with just about every episode. It changes and evolves– it regenerates, you might say, while keeping its spirit intact. What a lovely, infinitely imaginative show, made for what I can only imagine is a shoestring budget (and yet probably the most expensive show on British TV, except maybe Top Gear). Fantastic.

Update: Rich Johnston confirms that I did see Tom Brevoort lurking in the background of Doctor Who Confidential (the behind-the-scenes show that runs concurrently with the regular series). I am not crazy. Hurray for that. (Spoilers in that link, by the way.)

11 Comments

Well, if you are a hispanic kid in East L.A., then The Smiths is probably exactly what you listening to.

That is what I find the most interesting about our current moment, just about everything is out there. What that means is that different people find different media at different times. Old stuff for you is brand new for them (and vice versa). That means that there is going to be an energy around old stuff that was not there for prior generations, because new people are constantly discovering it and getting excited about it.

Alan Grant wrote a great Batman.

And I’m gonna take a cue from those commenters and just call them crazy.

Don’t forget those of us who watch Doctor Who on local PBS stations. I’m only now getting to see the Catherine Tate episodes. (And I’ll never be able to hear the words ‘baby fat’ again without getting THAT freaky image in my mind.)

When the Bullpen page was profiling a different editor each month, Jim Salicrup mentioned the Spider-Man/Hulk Toilet Paper— ‘If you don’t like the story, you know what you can do with it.’

It might be fun to read that toilet paper some day, but I’d rather not buy a used copy.

I didn’t think they were still airing Who on PBS. I think they gave up after season two around here, maybe sooner.

That Batman porn comic is funny, but the image of DKR Bat-Hulk masturbating is disturbing.

Like many I was worried about Smith taking on the Doctor, but he dances! And gets punched! Not unhappy with it at all.

I heart Karen Gillan…

I’ve been watching Dr. Who on BBC America, and while I’ve loved the stories and general direction of the show, I haven’t warmed to Smith or Gillan nearly as much as I’d hoped I would. I think part of the problem is that the this Doctor’s relationship with Amy is so similar to his with Rose or Donna, who both abandoned either a boyfriend or fiancé.

And I’m thoroughly convinced that Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle will one day be heralded as one of the greatest creative teams ever in the Batman universe, if for no other reason than the creation of the original Ventriloquist.

Sorry I just don’t have the love for Amy that a lot of folks do…..but I will say that Matt Smith is doing an excellent job as the Doctor…

Alan Grant is on my list for underappreciated creators in comicdom….

Comics on toilet paper…yeah insert the potty and high price of paper jokes here….=)

I am convinced that as a comic fan grows older, his/her capacity for wonder and discovery shrinks proportionately…..

I was pretty dubious about both the new Doctor and the writing in the new season for the first couple of episodes, but by the end of this (too short!) season I was pretty much in love with it. Love the new Doctor — not quite as much as Tennant, but he makes the role enough his own that I’m totally on board. And I love love love Amy and Rory. Amy Pond is well on her way toward becoming my favorite companion. (I’m sorry, Zoe! I held out as long as I could.)

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