O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Your weekly smorgasbord of comics internet things. And a TV review, because I can.
WATCH THIS SPACE for reviews of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Motion Picture and The Expendables.
ITEM! J. Chris Campbell reveals his process for creating comics for anthologies:
Once I’ve run completely out of time I finally draw out the boxes on sheets of paper. That is when I decide that my original idea was no good and force myself to come up with something new. I sit someplace away from my computer and just start making up the story right on the page. I start to sketch pretty tightly while I act out the story in my head. I wade out into the stream of conscious and see what I can catch. Each panel moves the story along as I make it up in my head and try to keep up on the page.
ITEM! I usually assume everyone reading this also reads our sister blog Robot 6, but I am compelled to link to Brigid Alverson’s plea for better websites for comic publishers:
A catalog page for every comic you produce: That seems obvious, doesn’t it? You would be surprised how many websites don’t provide that, though. Just working on this week’s Food or Comics post, I looked for and couldn’t find pages for individual comics from Archie, IDW, and Top Cow—in some cases there was a page for a series but not an individual issue. A catalog page doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing—just a cover image, basic information like authors, price, and ISBN, and the blurb from the back cover. It’s enormously helpful to journalists like me, who like to check their facts, as well as to readers who want to know what they are buying. Also—this is another simple thing that lots of publishers overlook—the catalog page for a single issue or volume should include links to all the others in a series.
OBLIGATORY YOU GET THE PICTURE HERE: Chris Sims takes a look at the world’s most fascinating Archie comic, featuring Archie’s dual married lives, art by Norm Breyfogle, Crisis on Multiples Archies, and a cover appearance by Justin Bieber, of all things:
Michael Uslan and artist Norm Breyfogle –both of whom are probably more well-known to super-hero readers for their work on Batman — are not only taking these ideas to their logical conclusion, they’ve recast them as a character struggling with the problem of modern society. This is an Archie that as a grown-up — or at least as much of a grown-up as you can be while getting paid to write about comic books — I can identify with. He’s living the choice between a well-paying but morally ambiguous job that is literally destroying his friendships, and forsaking the corporate world in favor of creative pursuits that run the risk of leaving him destitute. It’s the problem of my generation, that no matter what we do, we stay up at night wondering if we made the right choices and hoping we didn’t screw it all up, all the time wondering why everyone else seems to have it all together.
ITEM! The Comics Journal features a video of Frank Quitely showing off his craft and process with his magical future Cintiq computer thingy.
ITEM! Another video, this time from Wired, with Grant Morrison talking about meeting Superman, drinking with Bizarro, and how he writes comics. “You’ve got to read the pictures,” he says, and damn, he says it all with just that. I’m also surprised G-Mozz can nail an American accent.
AXE COP MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Context? We don’t need no stinkin’ context! (Click here for stinkin’ context.)
A BEATON IN YOUR BONNET: Kate Beaton, Andrew Jackson, hilarity. All these things go together like so:
ITEM! Todd Alcott returns again forever & Robin with a look at Batman Begins, which has me wanting to watch that movie for like the thirtieth time:
Bruce’s father dies, but he never lacks for father figures. At the funeral, Earle offers Bruce his paternal care (while planning to ruin his father’s business). The same day, Alfred takes over as Bruce’s “true” father figure. Falcone gives Bruce fatherly advice in the form of a threat, but Ducard is a more genuinely father-like figure — a teacher and mentor, a guide. In this regard, it’s almost disappointing that Crane isn’t older — but on the other hand, as a man younger than Bruce, he’s an avatar of “things to come,” the kind of demented, costumed freak that will come to be synonymous with Gotham.
PREVIOUSLY, ON COVERED!: Lauren Gregg covers my favorite comic book cover of all time!
REMAKE/REMODEL returns at Whitechapel this week with an Ancient Cover Remodel of Love-Crime Detective #6. The following stunning pieces are by Raid71 and FredG, respectively:
SHERLOCK DEPT: “A Study in Pink,” “The Blind Banker,” & “The Great Game” Written by Steven Moffat, Steve Thompson, and Mark Gatiss
This has absolutely nothing to do with comics, but I’m going to write about it anyway. Sherlock, a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes and new BBC series from Doctor Who head writer Steven Moffat and cohort Mark Gatiss recently wrapped up all three 90-minute episodes of its first season on British screens (it will premiere in the US on PBS in October or so). The Doctor Who connection is particularly apt; Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes is as mad, mouthy, and brilliant as that eponymous (or titular?) Doctor, a man who lives to solve. The best aspect of this new Holmes lies in the depiction of Sherlock’s process. Rather than simply be told how brilliant Holmes is, the writers show us, using Cumberbatch’s rapidfire delivery to explain how he came about his conclusions, as well as onscreen text to point out the clues Sherlock finds, and the text messages (rather than telegrams) he often sends. Not to be outmatched, Office alum (and former Arthur Dent) Martin Freeman brings some marvelous understated acting to John Watson, to better counteract Sherlock’s necessary exaggerated nature. In the first episode, Watson serves as our protagonist and viewpoint character, a normal, though highly capable man who finds himself sucked into Sherlock’s world. Freeman knows how to portray compassion, conviction, and exasperation, all of which are needed when dealing with this new Holmes. The pair’s dynamic chemistry perfectly validates other characters’ assumptions that they’re a gay couple.
The writers borrow liberally from the original Arthur Conan Doyle canon; the first episode is primarily based on the original Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, with later episodes utilizing quite a bit of material from the short stories. The second episode, written by Thompson, feels like a bit of a dud with its slow pace and less-than-exciting mystery, but Moffat and Gatiss’ episodes are riveting bits of entertainment, filled with humor, drama, mystery, and adventure. Moffat writes a script as great, if not better, than any of his Who scripts from this past year (which you know I loved), and Gatiss knocks my socks off with a dense, thrilling ode to Die Hard with a Vengeance. The music, by David Arnold and Michael Price, is also worth noting, jaunty, haunting, and magnificent all at the same time, not to mention damn catchy. Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr’s take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos surprised me with its high quality, but I may like this even more; certainly, it was the BBC Sherlock that had me running to the bookstore to continue my journey into the world of Holmes.
Essential viewing. Seek it out.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.