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CSBG Archive

Sunday Brunch: 7/11/10

Another Sunday, another tour around the comics internet!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: You are buying Casanova, right?

ITEM! A bunch of wonderful cartoonists (including Friend of CSBG Dean Trippe) are auctioning off some original artwork to benefit the Gulf. By which I mean, they’re not just gonna chuck money into the gulf and hope that plugs the spill, but use it in some way to benefit mankind. If you love me, you’ll buy me this Kate Beaton Aquaman sketch which is currently $450 out of my price range:

Aquabeaton 2

ITEM! Sean Witzke discusses “cinematic storytelling,” editing, and page layout in comics, and what that means, using examples from Steranko’s Nick Fury, Gulacy’s Kung Fu, Miller’s Dark Knight, and many more:

Comics’ relationship with cinema is complex. While it has become rote to hear creators compare comics to everything from pop songs to television to theater in recent years, film is probably the dominant influence on comics, if only because both employ editing from moment-to-moment and image-to-image. The comic as film pitch complaint that is common these days is valid ( there are so many comics that barely exist as comics), but it maybe ignores the closeness of the media to each other. The problem isn’t that comics is influenced by film, it’s that comics aren’t influenced by the medium but influenced by films. So ripping off the plot of a scifi film du jour is common rather than working out why John Woo times his action scenes the way he does.

Meanwhile, over at Escape from Suicide Wolf Forest (best blog name ever?), Witzke narrows his comics-storytelling focus specifically to artists Chris Bachalo and Goran Parlov, and talks about the “And-Then” fight scene.

ITEM! David Brothers at 4thLetter! also turns his keen critical eye to comic artists this week, profiling seven distinct, excellent illustrators in the field: McGuinness, Bachalo, Connor, Corben, Aja, Rivera, and Mahkne. You can find all of ‘em in a line at this link:

How do you read a comics page?

Stupid question, right? But no, not really. The comics page is the most basic building block of a comic book. They haven’t changed too much since they were first invented. You can have words and pictures and you can have ink in CMYK or digital PSDs or AIs in RGB, but without a page to put it on, the tabula rasa of yore, you’re out of luck. It’s probably the one thing in comics that’s genuinely indispensable. (Well, that and ink.)

What’s nice about David Aja’s work is how he treats his layouts. Rather than simply being a tool to convey the story, which is generally how most artists treat their layouts, Aja often turns the layout into part of the story. It’s like if the television you use to watch movies ended up actually introducing new data into your viewing experience.

ITEM! How do you make a copy of the early-90s X-Men #1 valuable? Paper a toilet with it:


Should Jim Lee be flattered or angry?

RANDOM THOUGHT! So, now I’m hooked on Wire in the Blood, a grisly British crime show that I’ve been streaming on Netflix seemingly 24 hours a day. I blame John Rogers.

ITEM! Hey look, a Scot-on-Scot interview with Frank Quitely.

ITEM! The Beat composes a retrospective of Wonder Woman covers to see how comics and their portrayal of women has changed over the years.

ITEM! A “Hulk meets the Thing” fanfilm from the early 80s? Yes. One of the filmmakers is former DC editor Bob Schreck? Yes. The weirdest thing I’ve seen all week? Hell yes.

ITEM! GQ has a massive interview with Matt Fraction that purports to be about Casanova, but quickly spitballs into a fun conversation about music (and then back again). Fraction breaks down exactly what bothers me about this Lady Gaga business:

It speaks to, like—I suspect we all want her to be David Bowie so badly. Like, we’re waiting for her to turn into the real deal, you know what I mean? There’s such anticipation and expectation. If she puts out another party record, I’m actually going to be depressed. If she puts another record about drinking and fucking, I’m going to be bummed out. I’m ready for what comes like—please be the real deal, please grow. Please don’t just be Madonna and do songs about drinking and fucking until you’re 50 years old. Please be something real.

Story continues below

ITEM! Todd Alcott examines Batman Forever, and lives. It’s a fun read, but if you’ve got the time, I’d go and read his 11-part analysis of Los Bros Coen’s A Serious Man, because it completely turned me around on that film. But this is a comics blog, so, Batman:

The script gives Two-Face his essential coin, but it also robs him of his pathology — his coin-flip isn’t a compulsion, it’s an affectation. He only does it when he feels like it, and if he doesn’t like how the coin lands, he flips it again until he gets the answer he desires. Or, he proceeds with his plan and merely alters it to give lip-service to the decision of his coin. The narrative of Forever holds Two-Face at arm’s length, and Two-Face holds his coin at arm’s length, as if to say “Okay, I’ve got the zany makeup, I’ve got the incessant “two” puns, isn’t that enough? I don’t really have to abide by the rules of my pathology, do I?”

ITEM! Matt Seneca draws a fun page of Plastic Man gags:

Plas variations

ITEM! Blog@Newsarama takes a look at the many outfits of Aquaman. I will defend the orange shirt until my dying breath.

ITEM! Christopher Allen writes about the first few issues of First Issue Special, and since The Green Team is included, I am required by law to link to it. There’s also some Metamorpho action in there, as well. I don’t know how anyone can’t love The Green Team.

ITEM! Comics Comics labels Sheldon Mayer a “prisoner of DC.” C’mon, DC, at least put out a Sugar and Spike Showcase. I know Sims and Sterling would buy it!

ITEM! It’s been a while since we took a look at Covered!, so why not do that now? Here’s a few courtesy of  Fonografiks, Mike Walton, and Matthew Allison:

V covered'Tec coveredWorld's Finest covered

OH MY GOD KATE BEATON YOU GUYS DEPT: New strips! Kate Beaton makes me laugh:

Beaton's Gorey Maury

ITEM! Neill Cameron draws a happy Doctor Doom:

Happy Doom

REMAKE/REMODEL this week turns its leering eye on Dan Dare, pilot of the future! My favorites are by the mind-blowing Eric Millikin and the always bodacious David Bednarsky:

Dare to be MillikinDare by DBed

DOCTOR WHO DEPT: Dean Fraser draws the Doctor, Amy, and a few more in the style of the Simpsons. Some visual spoilers for this season finale at the link. (Avert your eyes, BBC Americans!)

Who SimpsonsWho Simpsons 2

Also, the BBC is going to start publishing their own Doctor Who graphic novels. The first one on the docket is The Only Good Dalek. Looks okay.

That’s it for the week! See you next time.


I think I might read only a third, or as little as a quarter, of the links in any given week, but I love the Brunch anyways. Thanks again.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm

The answer to your question of the week is: Good God, NO!!!! I’m an anti-Fraction reader!!! Casanova’s the very reason why I don’t like Fraction’s stuff. The art’s ok, tho’.

Poor Jim Lee, I can’t imagine what’s going through his mind seeing that toilet.

I shudder at the coffee stain on that V for Vendetta cover. The horror, the horror ….

I wasn’t sold on Casanova at the beginning either, but I’m glad I stuck with it, because it might be the best comic of the last ten years. Fraction hasn’t really lived up to it in terms of his Marvel work (so you’ll probably love that stuff).

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

I have to admit, the first issue of Casanova hooked me, since it was already a crazy mashup of ten things I liked and three I was willing to give a second chance.

Casanova is a phenomenal work, oozing of the creativity and verve that Marvel has continuously failed to deliver after Kirby left in the 70s. It’s probably the best new find of this century.

That said, I already own the original issues, and I don’t feel like paying for them again. Maybe I’ll get the inevitable collection, but first thing’s first, and that’s tracking down that second arc.

Travis Pelkie

July 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm

A few quick things before my promised crap about Happy Town (you were hoping I’d forget, huh?).

I plan on getting newly colored/lettered Casanova. I’m hoping the LCS that’s got a sale this week still has #1 (and Scarlet #1, since that sounds interesting).

Ok, more in a bit.

I’ve always been generally unhappy with most Doctor Who comics (DWM strips are generally too supercompressed for my tastes; the IDW comics are a bit naff–except for Rich Johnston’s and the Moore/Reppion/Templesmith joint–and the IDW ongoing is way way too fanwanky) but I’m definitely going to give The Only Good Dalek a try. I love Mike Collins’ art from the DWM strip and I’ve always found Justin Richards to be a solid writer, and I’ve wanted to see a long form proper Doctor Who graphic novel. The preview pages look superb. I’m in.

As for Casanova: as I gather Marvel is reprinting the early issues I shall probably give it a try because Bill has been going on about it for years. Next thing you’ll know I’ll be reading Atomic Robo as well. I fully expect Bill to reciprocate one day and read The Invisibles.

Travis Pelkie

July 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Also on Casanova — does it seem that Casanova is one of the “advanced class” comics (so to speak)? As in, you probably get more out of it and “get it” more if you’ve been steeped in comics and the language of comics for years and years. Further down I’ll come back to this point.

I think Fraction nails it about Lady Gaga. I’m *ahem* gaga for her, but yeah, we definitely want her to grow, and stop reusing iconography that Madonna used 20 years ago. But she’s got catchy tunes, and “Bad Romance” was one of the hottest videos ever (those eyes in the tub!), and it seems to have charged XTina into a, shall we say, skank-off with the “Not Myself Tonight” video. When Gaga and XTina skank-off, I don’t know if everybody wins, but I do. And I normally don’t like blondes (fake or otherwise).

Doom is happy is awesome.

The toilet pic reminds me that one thing that we should hold against Jim Lee, that was lost in the WW redesign hoopla, is in Bissette’s interview on CBR, where we find that it appears that the big reason the 1963 Annual never happened was because Jim Lee was trying to outdo Valentino (who brought Alan Moore to Image) and McFarlane and Liefeld (who got stuff out of Moore first) by announcing at a convention that Jim Lee his own self would draw the 1963 Annual — then he went on his hiatus, and nothing came of it, and that in part led to the bad blood that means there will never be a 1963 collection. If you don’t have those 6 issues, buy ‘em up and read ‘em.

Ok, back to the bit about Casanova as part of the “advanced class” — my girlfriend wants to be good and get into comics with me, so I’m trying to figure out good stuff to show her. However, I think a book like Casanova is too much at this point (however, she has seen part of it, in the preview from Fell). So what books are good intro books? She liked Fell a lot (we’re both jonesing for some more) because she likes the crime shows and stuff, but also the psychology too, and she also dug the Un-Men series from a few years back (that I don’t get). She liked the FCBD Green Hornet stuff, and the John Stanley/Tubby issue, and the other day at the comic store, we got (from the back issue bin) Atomic Toybox 1 by Aaron Lopresti, which she liked (unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any more of that). I’m probably going to show her Sandman Fables and Reflections (the first Sandman book I read), and she digs graphics that to me look manga-like, so what else might be good to show her? I’ll probably go on about this on different posts on CSBG in the next few weeks.

Happy Town comments later.

Alright, you’ve been waiting for it, I know. I post this because a CBR article alerted me to a new Amy Acker show, so the fact that I spent time on this show, by default, I blame on you guys. It’s unfair, I know.

Here is, in (probably) several posts, with hopefully few to no spoilers, my thoughts on the last 2 eps of Happy Town (probably Burgas and Tom Fitzpatrick are the only ones who MIGHT care):

If you liked the first 6 eps and have a decent internet connection, watch the last 2 eps. Unless of course, you’re not American (it is on the American Broadcasting Corporation, after all), as Tom informed me. I wasn’t carded on the website, I just went to abc.com and put Happy Town in the search bar in the upper right, then got to it.

But even if you liked the first 6 eps, you’ll get to the end of the last ep, and say to yourself, they’ve only got 10 minutes left to wrap it up… only 5 minutes… only 3… only 2… only 1 — WHAT THE FUCK?!! WHAT THE FUCK?!!!

Sorry, but that was my reaction.

There’s an idea I’ve seen attributed to Chekhov about if there’s a gun on the mantelpiece in Act 1, it should go off in Act 3. The corollary is that if a gun goes off in Act 3, it better have damn well been there in Act 1, but it didn’t seem to be there in this case. There are neat revelations, but overall there are too many unanswered questions.

I can see planning for a season 2, and hoping for one, and leaving SOME story to tell, but you should wrap things up to a certain degree. ABC seems to have wanted the show to be the next Lost (from what I understand, I haven’t watched Lost yet ever), or the next Twin Peaks, but it just didn’t work. There needs to be some questions answered, and here there were plenty of mysteries left to explore. 2 shows that wrapped things up nicely but left you wanting more: Mad Men season 1 — the way it ended, it would have been a fine conclusion to the show, but left things (obviously) still to tell that are interesting; The Pretender Island of the Haunted — the one big reveal was kind of, we’ve seen this before, but the way it ended put a new spin on the whole series without completely violating the integrity. The Pretender is THE show I’d want to see continued a la Buffy Season 8. Happy Town ended with so many unresolved plots, and SOOOOO many dangling plotlines, it’s amazing. There was one nice bit of closure for 2 characters, but I won’t spoil it. I think too Happy Town had an underlying mythology that the writers wanted to explore, but they never got to it because the focus was on the Magic Man, and that’s apparently just one aspect of the weirdness of the town. But they never delved deeply enough into that.

Ok, more in a while.

Online fans and Happy Town: I know it’s a skewed sample, but the commenters on the abc site for Happy Town were really really pissed that ABC cancelled it. From what I see, though, these people cannot spell, and cannot seem to comprehend that just because it is free to turn on your TV and watch shows on the networks, the shows are not free to produce. The ads finance them, and if no one is watching, then no one is watching the ads, and that’s why the show gets cancelled.

People also want another network to pick it up. It’s an ABC production, I doubt they’d let it get away for cheap enough for someone else to bother financing new eps. They’ll put out a DVD, maybe with some special features to “solve the mysteries”, and maybe they’ll recoup the losses from showing it on TV.

I do think it’s cool that if they weren’t going to air them, they at least put the last 2 eps online for free (well, if you’re American, sorry Tom Fitzpatrick). Of course, that’s “if you own a good internet hook up (or have one at work, innocent whistle)” free.

What’s interesting to me is that I thought the show was ok, nothing special (til Bill poisoned me on it around the 4th or 5th ep), while I find the Good Guys to be ultra super mega awesome. However, going by the ABC boards and imdb posts, people liked Happy Town and think GG is crap. These people are what we call idiots.

I guess I’m spoiled by this blog. Even if I don’t always agree with them, posters like T, Apodaca, stealthwise, funkygreenjerusalem, Tom Fitzpatrick, Omar, to name a few, are articulate, can spell, and can make a point without (usually) resorting to name calling. I guess that’s why I keep coming back.

More in a bit.

Good (and bad) lines:

In the 7th ep, Mrs Haplin (or, as Burgas called her, Six Feet Under Lady) steals a Mitch Hedberg line: “My artificial plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” I’m surprised she’s a fan. What with the evil and all.

Bad line is that in the last ep, someone actually says “it’s quiet out there” and someone actually replies, “yeah, too quiet.” Seriously.

Best line of the last ep, and maybe the show (other than Henley’s line to Mrs Haplin: “Did you just take the scenic route to calling me stupid?” yes, yes she did, because you are): Root Beer is outwitted by one character (I won’t say who), and is being forced to walk home from a deserted road. This character makes Root Beer give RB’s cell phone over, which Root Beer does, saying “I’m low on minutes, though”. Just a great delivery that’s so incongruous in the context of the moment.

Until I read the cast bios, I didn’t realize that the guy who played Root Beer was the one on Mad Men s1 that was Adam. The mustache threw me. I did know that “the Mad Men guy” was years ago Zoey’s boyfriend on Cybill. Ah, Alicia Witt.

Oh, and thankfully, Amy Acker did have a nice bit in the last ep confronting the person that everyone thought was the Magic Man.

And probably Burgas will be glad to know (it seems that a certain amount of his musical taste is from that era), they did finally use Heart’s “Magic Man” song in the 7th ep. With that and Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”, the Stiviletto boys sure know a lot about songs that some would deem “chick music”. That’s one of the weirder bits from the show.

I think one, maybe 2 more posts. Then I’m probably done.

(Oh god, he’s still here)

As I said, the reveal at the end (the VERY end) is annoying and the last segment of the show really brings up so many questions without answering ANYTHING. I really can’t think of anything that was either resolved in full or anything that was revealed that really seemed to show the underlying mythology of the show. There’s a poster on the ABC boards with this odd theory about Dubbyiks or something, and it sort of makes sense, but jeez, it’s so damn complicated that it just doesn’t work.

I do want to find Twin Peaks now, to see how “small odd town holds strange secrets” was done right.

I would like to hear the creators delve into the secrets behind the show (once it’s confirmed that it won’t be coming back, since, sorry ABC posters, IT WON’T!!!), but it probably wouldn’t be online, just on the DVD. I think that’s one thing I didn’t like about it — everything was going into the “who is the Magic Man?” direction, so that really needed to be CLEARLY resolved, and since it wasn’t, the show as a whole failed. There were all sorts of interesting subplots, but that’s the thing, they were SUBplots. Although I’d watch a whole series about the old ladies in the boarding house. (Ok, I wouldn’t, but they were at times more interesting than anything else).

It seemed obvious that certain characters had more to them than it appeared, and this turned out to be true in a couple of cases.

Maybe the problem was that they saved all the interesting for the last ep?

Ok, I think I’m about done talking about this show, bar one last bit. I blame Amy Acker, who was mostly wasted, although as I said, her bit in the last ep made you love her like on Angel, like how the Hole in the World ep made you cry at the end. (You didn’t cry? Heartless bastard. I suppose you can get through WE3 dry-eyed as well?) But if Amy is in something interesting, I’ll still watch.

The last bit: I’m going to imagine, although it doesn’t (necessarily) fit, that agent Dan Farmer is the same character that that actor played in the Pretender 2001 movie (the Chameleon). It sorta kinda fits. A little. But the Pretender was so much better of a show. Like I said, there should be a Pretender comic that continues the series. Of course, I also have a fan fic version in my head of how the Pretender SHOULD end, too. But let’s not get me started on that show.

Ok, I’m done, and this week I hope to catch up on my comics reading, maybe get some more stuff at the LCS with the sale going on, and also watch Mad Men season 3 from the library. I hope it’s not as hot around here as it was last week.

I fully expect Bill to reciprocate one day and read The Invisibles.

Hey, I have done for the first two volumes. There’s just too much new stuff coming out for me to catch up on all the stuff gone by I need to read.

Travis: Buy your lady Dead Boy Detectives.

Travis Pelkie

July 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Ah, the Jill Thompson one. Yes, that would be good. I have the Brubaker mini, which is (who the hell did the art? Talbot? PCR? Dammit, memory!) probably got some art she’d like, so that might intro the characters, unless you think the Thompson one is the one to go with first. I will keep that in mind, thanks.

Now I’ll be posting the rest of the week bothering other CSBG posters on the topic.

Oh, and I wasn’t just sitting online waiting for you to post something again, I just happened to be online. Thanks for indulging me with the Happy Town stuff, even though it mostly scared everyone away.

And just because there’s new stuff coming out all the time is no excuse to miss old good stuff! (He says, going, whoops, better get Invisibles myself) I thought you had to pass a Morrison test to get to be a blogger here, though :)

Travis: I think you convinced me to watch the final two episodes online! I was perfectly happy to let it go, but now I’m going to check them out.

See, here I thought I got Dead Boy Detectives confused with Deadenders, but no, I was right. Brubaker did write it. But there was more than one!

I thought you had to pass a Morrison test to get to be a blogger here, though

Flex Mentallo is my favorite comic. That’s a 100% score right there. I’ve read all of his obscure works, but I’m missing some of the bigger stuff.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 12, 2010 at 5:24 pm

@ Travis Pelkie:

I know the feeling, I’ve watched terrific series such as Twin Peaks, and Flashforward get canned without being given a chance to “wrap up” all or most storylines and plots.

I think that all new seasons should NOT end on a cliffhanger unless they’re guaranteed another season, and if not, there should be a clause that allows the cancelled series to come back for a finale episode in the new season to tie-up the series.

I like Amy Acker, tho’ she was little used in Happy Town.

I don’t think I’ll bother watching ABC anymore, they care far, far too much about ratings.

Also on Casanova — does it seem that Casanova is one of the “advanced class” comics (so to speak)? As in, you probably get more out of it and “get it” more if you’ve been steeped in comics and the language of comics for years and years.

Ok, back to the bit about Casanova as part of the “advanced class” — my girlfriend wants to be good and get into comics with me, so I’m trying to figure out good stuff to show her. However, I think a book like Casanova is too much at this point (however, she has seen part of it, in the preview from Fell).

Casanova certainly benefits from having a knowledge of pop culture and comics and music and so forth; I’m not sure if it’s actually too advanced for a new reader, though. A lot of information is thrown out quickly, especially in those first issues, but, once you get into the narrative, it’s not too difficult to keep track of who’s who and what’s what. The second arc has a wonderful emotional impact as well. The real question is: Does she like spy-fi?

Other recommendations, in no particular order:
Scott Pilgrim (vol. 6 is out next week, I do believe)
Runaways (although Whedon’s run is pretty skippable)

Since she dug Fell, she might also like the first arc of Desolation Jones, with its detective yarn (a send up to Raymond Chandler) and strong character work.

Oh, and Detective Comics: Batwoman: Elegy is a possibility.

Anything with JH Williams III art will get anyone hooked on comics, I’d wager.

The main problem with Twin Peaks is that it’s brilliant for the first 13-14 episodes and then absolutely unwatchable until the finale. The writers went out of control, the plots went to crap, and worst of all Kyle MacLachlan refused to do the Audrey Horne romance they’d spent a season and a half developing so instead we get Heather Graham and Billy Zane giving some of the worst performances of their respective careers. The only reason the finale was watchable was because Lynch came back in, threw out basically the entire second half of the script and instead made one of the most unsettling and visceral sequences he’s ever committed to film. I’m actually fine with the series ending where it did, because the writing staff really couldn’t have done anything other than fuck it up even worse at that point.

I gave up on Happy Town after 4 episodes when the Chloe/Stiveletto brother romance pushed me to realize that I hated literally every single character in the show other than Sam Neill. I guess I kind of liked Stephen McHattie when he beat the living shit out of the blatant Bobby Briggs ripoff whose name I’ve already forgotten, but that’s about it.

Travis Pelkie

July 13, 2010 at 8:34 am

YES! I got someone with my babbling on HT. Thanks for reading, Burgas!

Bill, I’m going to brag a bit–I found Flex Mentallo 1 in a cheapo bin sometime between when it came out and when the Atlas (was it actually a lawsuit, or just the threat of one) prevented the reprinting. So I have a book I got for less than a book that might be “worth” 20 or more. Of course, I want to find 2-4, so I shouldn’t brag too much. But #1 was so f-in awesome.

And you thought I got Dead Boy Detectives and Deadenders confused. But I dug both (although I need the rest of Deadenders). And Talbot is the artist on DBD.

Dave, I can’t remember what you’re talking about with the Stephen McHattie beating up someone (the kid dating his daughter, probably), but yeah, ep 4 was around where I realized I hated most of the characters. I blame Bill for that :)

Thanks for the comics recommendations, guys. I’m guessing with Desolation Jones, the Hitler porn aspect wouldn’t necessarily go over well :) But I’ll show her some of the other stuff you guys mention. Thanks.

No offense, Tom, but all the networks care about is ratings. Happy Town’s were crap. That’s why they wouldn’t even air the last eps — repeats of Castle get them better ratings. The only reason they care about the “art” of shows is because in recent years, cable has gotten better ratings from “art” shows (something like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, etc), so that’s the only reason the networks care if their writers and viewers want “art” in their TV.

Travis Pelkie

July 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

Whoa, that’s weird, when I published my comment, it put some of my paragraphs out of order somehow. Weird.

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