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Sunday Brunch: 7/18/10

Does anyone actually read this pre-cut text? [  ] Y [  ] N

ITEM! A “Snapper52″ is putting together an Exquisite Corpse webcomic, and wants your help. Can you draw? Then you can produce the next step in a one-panel-at-a-time story that’s heading in all sorts of bonkers directions already, as no one’s quite sure what everyone else is doing. (Warning: cartoon boobies at the link, if you’re afraid of that sort of thing.)

ITEM! Two interesting remembrances of Harvey Pekar: one by the AV Club’s Noel Murray, the other by Anthony Bourdain.

ITEM! A new Abhay article! Time to celebrate! Naturally, it’s another tour de force in which Abhay begins reviewing a comic only to bemoan the loss of the 80s action hero and identify the bespectacled emo-rocker responsible for the death of machismo:

What became of the pulp action hero?  For the 80’s action hero, the fantasy seemed to have been one of physical over-competence.  Is that somehow no longer a relevant fantasy for today’s audience?  I’m not sure why not.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve gained some weight these last couple of years– a spare tire around my mid-section, some in the jowl-area.  I’ve got a very upsetting situation going on in my jowl-area, people.  I’ve joined a gym, but discipline is … Discipline is an issue. It causes no small amount of anxiety, being out of shape, even though I don’t think I’m quite a lost cause physically just yet.  I believe the statistics suggest that I’m hardly alone in this particular anxiety– we hear now regularly of rampant obesity, declines in physical activity, and a surge in related disorders.  So: shouldn’t the fantasy of physical over-competence still hold some appeal for those like me, wanting to correct some years now of physical neglect?  Or is the decline in that sort of hero, the fact that I look at Mr. Felix Gomez as being a silly figure instead of an aspirational figure– is that a kind of surrender, a kind of giving up?  Am I part of a culture of defeat?

ITEM! Colin Smith talks Grant Morrison(and his smooth pate, though in this case he had hair at the time)‘s Zenith:

And that’s part of what Grant Morrison wanted Zenith to express, of course, namely “…the Eighties obsession of style over content”, although why the decade which bred The Smiths, R.E.M. and U2 as well as the likes of Stock, Aitken and Waterman should always be characterised by the latter tribe is beyond me. Yet in making Zenith a teenager who didn’t want to be a superman, but who did want to be the most superficial and glitzy of chart stars, Morrison created a character which the average four-colour comic fans found it hard to engage with without a considerable degree of obscurating prejudice being kicked up in the process. For what could be more counter-intuitive to the already skewed logic of a super-hero fan than to come face-to-face with a character who not only refused to track down muggers, but who rather wanted to shamelessly mime sing-a-long-a-papness chart hits on “Top Of The Pops”?

ITEM! Here’s a piece from the end of last month, transcribed from a Wizard article (yes, I am sort of linking to Wizard, I know, I know) by Jim McLauchlin on the triumph and tragedy of Wally Wood:

A cover blurb on December, 1964’s Daredevil #5 proclaimed, “Under the brilliant artistic craftsmanship of famous illustrator Wally Wood, Daredevil reaches new heights of glory!” Ten months later, on Avengers #20, another blurb boasted, “Special note to art lovers: Wait’ll you see Wonderful Wally Wood’s inking of Don [Heck]’s drawings in this great ish!” In a day and age in which NO ONE got cover credit, Wood somehow was getting it…even as an inker.
Wood started to develop kidney problems, and a 1978 stroke left him with diminished vision in one eye. As fast as Wood was deteriorating physically, he was even worse off mentally. “Larry [Hama] and [artist] Jack Abel and I had gone down to see him at the VA hospital just after he had a stroke,” Ralph Reese recalls. “He looked to be in very bad shape. I asked him about his plans, what he was gonna do after he got out of the hospital. He said, ‘I’m gonna go get a drink.’ You know…what can you say to that? I had a feeling then that might be the last time I saw him alive. Like I said, he really looked bad. He looked sick. He looked old. He looked beat up by the world.”

Story continues below

ITEM! And here’s a new Alan Moore interview with John Doran. Interviews with Alan Moore (and his beard) are always interesting:

I’m interested in the superhero in real life, but not the comic book version. I’ve had some distancing thoughts about them recently. I’ve come to the conclusion that what superheroes might be — in their current incarnation, at least — is a symbol of American reluctance to involve themselves in any kind of conflict without massive tactical superiority. I think this is the same whether you have the advantage of carpet bombing from altitude or if you come from the planet Krypton as a baby and have increased powers in Earth’s lower gravity. That’s not what superheroes meant to me when I was a kid. To me, they represented a wellspring of the imagination. Superman had a dog in a cape! He had a city in a bottle! It was wonderful stuff for a seven-year-old boy to think about. But I suspect that a lot of superheroes now are basically about the unfair fight. You know: people wouldn’t bully me if I could turn into the Hulk.

ITEM! Some movie costumes were revealed this week. First– Thor, Odin, and Loki want you to buy their new album:


Secondly, Green Lantern is green:


RANDOM THOUGHT! I have had a particular tab in Firefox open for over two months now, perhaps longer. In that two months, I’ve bought a new computer, but the tab has followed me, unread. Should I read it? Or should I simply enjoy its company until it is my last, my only friend?

OTHER RANDOM THOUGHT! So Vertigo is releasing some “lost” gems they found in a drawer somewhere, including Warren Ellis’ previously banned issue of Hellblazer, “Shoot”. What are the chances of finally getting to see Rick Veitch’s “Swamp Thing meets Jesus” story? Or Flex Mentallo? … Yeah, I thought so.

FURTHER RANDOM THOUGHT! In fact, DC’s released a lot of announcements this week. Why not wait for next week’s Comic-Con? Oh right, because any comic announcements would be lost in the tidal wave of movie promotions.

THESE THOUGHTS AREN’T ACTUALLY THAT RANDOM! The only announcement that’s actually excited me so far is Paul Cornell’s Knight & Squire mini-series, which is so far up my alley that it’s a zoning violation.

ACTUALLY RANDOM THOUGHT! You know what’s weird? Ears.

ITEM! Matt Seneca reviews one panel of Batman & Robin #13, 23 panels of Batman #700 (some of the best writing-about-art I’ve seen in blogging), and also defecates into the bleeding neckhole of Batman: Odyssey. Compare this quote:

Lots to like here; I dig how Quitely places the street sign in the approximate spot where a narrative caption announcing the scene’s location would usually go. These are pictures that do more than illustrate, they carry weight usually left to the writing. The height of the signpost is pretty exaggerated (how tall is it, 40 feet?), again to create a heightened sense of depth. That’s especially cool since Quitely has set this panel up to very obviously mimic all the artificiality of a stage: there’s a flat backdrop, a spotlight, hell, even playbills and a marquee. The minimal set dressing is key for the choreographed action that’s about to go down, but it’s interesting to see Quitely addressing it head-on and inviting the reader to see it through the lens of another, more objectively “real” medium, that of the theater — or more probably of performed dance.

With this’n:

Neal Adams is a bad comics artist; some people hold the mistaken belief that he’s a good one. That’s basically my whole point, and I’m forty years too young to keep him from influencing too many people with my indelible comics criticism. But stop right there, pal, we haven’t even gotten to the writing on this thing yet! And while Neal Adams is too entrenched in people’s minds as a dude who draws good comics for them to read him as anything but, his writing is on the next level of strangeness.

ITEM! David Brothers counts again, only this week, it’s writers (who also happen to be artists. How ’bout that?), such as Stan Sakai, Naoki Urasawa, Jeff Parker, Adam Warren, Eiichiro Oda, and Inio Asano. Here’s a bit from the Warren piece:

Adam Warren is an idea guy in the best possible sense of the phrase. If you want to kick something into high gear, really peel back what makes it work and throw a whole bunch more stuff into the mix without breaking your character, he’s the man to come see. Hypervelocity is what Iron Man should always be like. Something fresh, something moving at Mach 8, and something that takes something from real life and makes an ill comic book concept out of it. Warren just pours ideas onto the page at a rate no other writer can match. He drops them out there into the world where they’re just aching to be explored.

AXE COP MOMENT OF THE WEEK: So Dark Horse picked up Axe Cop. Awesome news! But also:

Axe Cop vs Axe Cop


Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

There’s a really good point about the depressing prevalence of fauxtorealistic art in Matt Seneca’s piece, but it’s buried under several layers of Seneca getting his hipster rocks off by sneering at exactly the superhero comics readers who needed to read it. They therefore won’t, and Seneca ends up preaching to the rather tiny choir of hipsters who won’t quit give up their superheroes. I’ve rarely seen such astute observations so utterly torpedoed by authorial voice like that.

The other day someone on another board I frequent said Ryan Reynolds looked like a slim Will Ferrell…which I didn’t see at first but I’m starting to see after repeat viewings.

Does anyone actually read this pre-cut text? [ ] Y [ X] N

• I always read the pre-cut text. It whets the appetite for the rest of the Brunch. If you’re looking to draw more attention to the pre-cut text, though, you could tease the items that follow. “In this issue: Yadda, Yadda, Etc…!”

• Bourdain’s Pekar eulogy was superb. I believe Travel Channel’s airing the Cleveland episode of No Reservations on Monday, before the new ep.

• You know what would be perfect? Abhay writing a book on free association.

• I should reserve judgment of those movie costumes until they’re on screen and in motion, but, so far, I’m pretty underwhelmed. The Thor suits look so shiny and plastic and fake, and the Green Lantern costume has all of those bizarre grooves or veins or whatever the hell, topped off with that lackluster, painted-on mask. Eh…

• What, uh, is the tab that’s been open for months?

• DC and Vertigo have a ton of stuff in the drawer, waiting to be dusted off, so Vertigo Resurrected could be pretty spectacular. Kicking the anthology off with “Shoot” sends the right message.

• Cornell on Knight & Squire was, by far, the best Bat-announcement of the week. I’m willing to give Tomasi and Gleason a shot on Batman & Robin, though. They’re a solid team, from what I’ve seen, and Gleason certainly deserves as much exposure as possible. That said, it’ll be pretty damn strange to have a Morrison-free Bat-line. I wonder if G.Mozz has a new Bat-book, perhaps starring Bruce Wayne, in the works—an announcement worth saving for Comic Con.

• Adam Warren is, in fact, brilliant. He definitely needs more recognition.

Neil Adams bashing at that level should be a crime.
You don’t like the man’s art, fine.
There’s also a lot of negative that can be said about the writing in Odyssey.
But slapping the guy around like that, even on the internet, is just low and gross.

Aw, read what it says in the blog title, JRC: Comics should be good!

Travis Pelkie

July 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm

The idea of anything being so far up your alley is disturbing. ew. But I do like the idea of Cornell on Knight and Squire — since I’ll probably end up dropping Bats+Robin, that might be the book for me.

Did you see Ty Templeton’s 2 blog pieces on Pekar? Also, the Jewish newspaper Forward had a piece on Pekar as well as one on art spiegelman’s collaboration with a dance troupe.

I kind of agree with that point about Neal Adams being a bad comics artist — there’s always been something about his stuff that just doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe it’s the slick advertising illustration look to it? Plus the coloring on it (especially the Continuity stuff) is usually awful. But he is a fascinating personality. If you find it, the Following Cerebus issue where Dave Sim talks with Neal for 100 pages is pretty damn interesting — I think it’s issue 8.

I’m wondering what else there is for that Vertigo unreleased stuff? Beyond the Hellblazer issue, Veitch’s Swamp Thing (wait, Veitch already worked for DC/Vertigo again, I thought he wasn’t going to until that was printed?), and Flex Mentallo (which, who thinks they’ll REALLY collect that?), what is there? Someone mentioned GM and (I think) Cameron Stewart’s LeSexy, but that didn’t sound like it was anywhere near complete. From what I understand, Ennis and Dillon aren’t still working on City Lights. I thought I heard GM was putting off War Cop, but that doesn’t really count yet (something that just hasn’t come out yet isn’t really unreleased or banned). They mentioned something from GM, and what I thought of was that apparently, there were some changes made to an early issue of the Invisibles (even though it was ostensibly, you know, creator owned), so maybe the “uncut” version of that will come out? There’s also mention on the comments of the CBR article about a Preacher related thing, a Quitely Lobo book (not really Vertigo, although it is called the Hand Job), and some other stuff, although it also sounds as if it’s more reprinting stuff that hasn’t been collected before. So it’s kind of a tease. And really, if the Veitch/Zulli Swamp Thing doesn’t come out, who cares?

Dear Colin Smith,
The Smiths and U2 are the EPITOME of style over substance.

And man, that Green Lantern costume is atrocious. It’s the same kind of mistake they made with the Spider-Man costume, glitzing it up like a Mardi Gras costume. They do one worse with this, though, making it bland and indistinct. It looks like a bad Photoshop job.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm

The Smiths and U2 are the EPITOME of style over substance.

Both bands employed stylized lyrics in their heyday, but their lyrics have a well-deserved reputation for content.

But kudos on your own statement’s utter reliance on style and complete lack of content, right down to typing the word “epitome” in all caps while presenting nothing resembling argument or evidence for your dubious, contrarian opinion. You just don’t find irony like that very often.

U2’s lyrics are full of vague, freshman-year philosophy like:

“Don’t believe the devil
I don’t believe his book
But the truth is not the same
Without the lies he made up

Don’t believe in excess
Success is to give
Don’t believe in riches
But you should see where i live
I…i believe in love ”

The Smiths sound like angry teenager poems:

“Kitchen aromas aren’t very homely
It’s not “comforting”, cheery or kind
It’s sizzling blood and the unholy stench

Add in the following evidence:
Pompadour hair
Overuse of sunglasses
“The Edge”

The music is boring and predictable. I don’t know what you would expect from me as “evidence” for that.

There. Are your panties untwisted now?

RANDOM THOUGHT! I have had a particular tab in Firefox open for over two months now, perhaps longer. In that two months, I’ve bought a new computer, but the tab has followed me, unread. Should I read it? Or should I simply enjoy its company until it is my last, my only friend?

I do this too! I thought I was the only one. Right now I have a job posting I’ve been thinking about applying to, the Amazon page of a band I want to search out more music from and an article from Wired (the last one has been there for a good three weeks). If this is an actual phenomena or habit that people have, Rich Hall should come up with a sniglet for it. (Well, we were talking about the 80s, weren’t we?)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

July 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm

What might be “evidence” to lend substance (!) to your stated opinion?

Well, you could try using explanatory terms instead of empty invective. What makes them freshman-year philosophy? Are there rock bands or artists from the 1980s who exemplify substance over style, whose lyrics are, we might say, graduate-level philosophy?

Or you might point out an example of a mature take on the same material, creating a lucid and potentially worthwhile contrast. You know, you might try to add value to the conversation instead of subtracting it. Byt that might entail actually valuing the fact that other people have opinions that diverge from your own, a level of consideration that requires a maturity and self-assuredness the rest of your comment suggests you simply lack.

I mean, you’re coming across as some sort of weirdly misogynistic imbecile with this “panties untwisted” grade-school bullshit. Are you really still in the “girls are icky” camp where calling someone effeminate is a devastating insult, or is this some kind of horribly delusional attempt to convince us all that you’re some sort of super-alpha-male descended among the unworthy geek hordes? Because that pose collapses on itself right from the start.

"O" the Humanatee!

July 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Whether or not one thinks Neal Adams is or has been a good or bad comics artist, Seneca and a vast number of others seem to make the mistake of thinking he’s a realist artist. He’s not. He’s a cartoonist, just one who works in a “realist” style. One can easily see this by contrasting the figures of Muhammad Ali and Superman in their “versus” book: Ali is humanly proportioned, while Batman has, for example, a much smaller head relative to his body, he has a clearly delineated six-pack that Ali lacks, etc. And just look at Adams’s often incredibly exaggerated facial expressions. So when Seneca criticizes Batman for being in a pose that no real human could be in, he completely misses the point. Also, while his commentary on Frazer Irving (I haven’t read the Quitely stuff yet) is thoughtful, his critique of Adams’s art is basically preaching to the converted – “You see how crappy that is? It sure is crappy!” – without providing any serious argument.

(On a related note, in an interview in the Comics Journal #91 – which unfortunately I don’t have with me to quote exactly – Bill Sienkiewicz relates that he changed from being a Neal Adams “clone” when he realized that comic book art is really cartooning. As a result, he distorted his Neal Adams-based art – which was already cartooning – with the result that, at least for me, too much of Sienkiewicz’s art reads as a kind of meta-cartooning – more like a commentary on comic book art than comic book art per se.)

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