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CSBG Archive

Sunday Brunch: 1/23/10

WHITHER THE COMICS CODE? So DC and Archie, the last bastions of the Comics Code Authority, have dropped the seal’s use entirely. Which begs the question, hopefully for an actual comics journalist to answer: Who was the Comics Code Authority? Where was this self-governing body headquartered, who was on it, and what will they do now? As something that’s existed for something like 60 years, you’d think we’d know more about it. Sure, we know what created it, but how has it been maintained these many years? What caused its complete loss of power (the direct market, I presume)? How will it be remembered?

RATED Q FOR QUIXOTIC: Tom Mason reveals DC’s new ratings system!:

G – GREYING MAN-BOYS
Content suitable for readers over 40.

W – WAIT
We’ll eventually collect this.

P – PRICE
This issue is shockingly overpriced.

A – AMAZON
This trade paperback is much cheaper at Amazon.

R.I.P., ALL AGES: Brian Clevinger drops the AA-bomb:

You may recall that this was intended to be an on-going series. It was downgraded to a four issue mini-series and then two issues — you get both of ‘em in this one-shot. Captain America: The Fighting Avenger will be one of the last “all ages” issues of anything Marvel will produce for quite a while. Because they “aren’t profitable.”

Aww, dang. I was really looking forward to supporting this series. No wonder we don’t need the Comics Code anymore.

RE:COVERED: ‘Cause every touch reminds you of just how sweet it could have been, here are some good cover versions by Richard Short, Thomas Perkins, and Dieter Van der Ougstraete:

ITEM! Matt Seneca investigates the development of the interior lives and workings of comics characters, as well as the tools used to explore them:

Around this time, some (as far as I can tell) unrecognized genius made an addition to the comics’ grammar that perfectly visualized the growing split between characters’ interior and exterior, drawn lives: the thought balloon. Here, in a gorgeous, murmuring, cloudy variation on the word balloons designating spoken speech, was an elegant and unobtrusive way to spell out what the people in the panels were thinking without forcing them to belt it forth for all to hear. It’s significant that thought balloons didn’t really emerge as a common comics trope until the stories the medium was telling were countenancing the characters’ hidden thoughts enough to need them.

ITEM! Tim O’Neil places Crisis on Infinite Earths into a context that makes a helluva lotta sense:

If you’ve ever read Homer, there’s something similar in the kind of incessant intertextuality used in The Iliad and The Odyssey. In both of those books you’ve got also got huge laundry lists of characters who show up, sometimes only for a couple lines, say or do something, and disappear soon after.

ITEM! James Stokoe throws a ton of more awesome pages onto the internet, just because he can. Pages like this:

ITEM! Rick Remender discusses his career and writing process with David Pepose at Newsarama. I love learning from these types of articles, and Remender’s is particularly interesting. I’d say he’s become of the Big Two’s best writers right now, fusing together pulp sensibilities with a strong focus on character. Like, a really strong focus:

I also have a character worksheet, which is like four pages long, with 1,000 questions. I’ll go through, before writing a character, and fill that out, and by the end of that, I know them entirely. That helps write their dialogue, once you know who the person is and what their motives are. … Oh, it’s intense. It’s like “responses to authority,” “time in the military,” “siblings,” “response to siblings,” “most traumatic childhood event,” “most traumatic adult event,” “political attitude,” “attitude towards socialism” — and by the time you answer all those questions, one leads to the other, one feeds the other, you’re not going to write a big right-wing guy who’s a proponent of socialism. One answer will determine the other, but it all helps form a human being inside your mind.

It took a lot to undo the perception of the people who have the power to give you work — I had to do about 22 creator-owned graphic novels on my own to establish myself, and it’s a testament to how much I want to make comic books.

Man, he’s making me really want to buy X-Force, and I can’t believe that’s the second time in my life I’ve had such a desire.

ITEM! Joe Casey gives good interview, talking with The Beat about all facets of his career, from Ben 10 to Butcher Baker, and then gets real about comics:

When sales are in the crapper — as they were in the late 90’s and as they are right now — that’s not the time to be overly-conservative or overly-cautious. That’s the time to say, “Fuck it,” and just go for broke. Take chances with the material and the characters, for chrissakes! There’s a resilience there that’s definitely not being tested, and that’s a real shame. And sorry, but I don’t think killing characters and then bringing them back is going to cut it anymore. That bell’s been rung too many times. To me, there’s a huge difference between “creatively driven” and “editorially driven” and you can see it in the books themselves.

ITEM! Iron Man, in cake form. Disclaimer: The icing is made of nanotechnology. Consume at own risk.

ITEM! Doug TenNapel (Earthworm Jim, CreatureTech, et al) has launched a new webcomic, Ratfist, updated every weekday, and totally free. So go enjoy it, would you?

Fisted, rat style!

REMAKE/REMODEL knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, because it’s The Shadow!  Here come pieces by Lee Jackson, Chris Thornley, and David Bednarsky to cloud your mortal minds:


And that’s all she wrote for this week. Stay tuned for George Lopez and his guest, Chuck Mangione.

14 Comments

I love the Brunch. :)

Always loved Remender. Followed his Fear Agent series for years and just loved the sci-fi, hard traveling, harder drinkinger hero goodness of it all. I wanted like hell to follow Last Days of American Crime but for some reason my LSC didn’t order it and I didn’t even see an issue of it until the series was just about over – has it ever been collected? I also think I was alos one of the few people who didn’t scream “foul” at his Frankencastle storyline in Punisher – Christ, wasn’t the punisher turned into everything from an angel to a robot by that point anyway?

Oddly enough, I haven’t followed him very far into his Marvel writing assignments, which are certainly becoming the bulk of his work and “yay Marvel!” for hiring such a good writer. I’ve never been an X-Force fan, even back in all of itsLiefeld-esque glory, but with Remender on the title I should just swallow-deep and give it a try.

Last Days of American Crime has been collected, Ed. Buy it; it’s a ripsnorter and Tocchini’s art is mad mental.

Uncanny X-Force is almost the greatest superhero comic being published right now. Reminder’s process of getting into characters is working for him, because he nails each of the characters in that book, characters that I have not been able to enjoy for quite some time.

The only thing holding the book back is its ties to the current X-Men status quo. If they could lose the stupid black costumes and get past the whole “Cyclops deserves a clean conscience so we must do that which must be done oh the guilt” meme it would be an outstanding book. As it is now, it’s a good but flawed book.

Opena’s art is so beautiful, I just wish we could get some color on those pages!

Does Clev’s “no more All-Ages” announcement spell doom for Paul Tobin’s work? Or, is Marvel just doing away with the nebulous “not in-continuity but also not Marvel Adventures” stuff?

Stokoe blows my mind. I hope he finishes and releases all of these projects. I’d buy the hell out of ‘em.

Remender’s process is fascinating. The extensive pre-writing he does certainly seems to pay off. More writers should probably adopt that strategy, and he should definitely post that 1000 word questionnaire online for everyone to peruse.

I’ve read quite a bit of Remender’s indy work (Black Heart Billy is great fun; Doll and Creature is good stuff; The End League…ended), but I haven’t checked out any of his mainstream work. I clearly need to rectify that. Uncanny X-Force sounds pretty damn entertaining, and the stable of artists is superb.

Casey continues to give the best interviews in town. Here’s another choice quote from that Beat interview:

If making comicbooks is all about the money, then you don’t need to be making comicbooks. Just don’t even bother. There’s no secret handshake… just shut the fuck up and make comics. Period.

No truer words.

Ratfist completely won me over with a panel of a rat covering its eyes while plummeting through the air. Excellent stuff.

CinnamonAndSpite’s Shadow piece is probably my favorite, although kmcleod’s concept is quite clever. Lots of strong entries in that thread.

The “No more all-ages books” rumor is false.

Remender’s take on Deadpool is pretty freakin good.

Is that Tom “Dinosaurs for Hire” Mason? I just read what I’ve got of that series and it (mostly) holds up years later.

The only interesting thing I’ve discovered this week is a movie out from the Blue Underground company, Baba Yaga. It’s based on Guido Crepax’s S&M comic Valentina, and on the DVD there’s an interesting short documentary piece, probably from the late 60s/early 70s about Crepax and comics in Italy. Interesting stuff.

“Which begs the question, hopefully for an actual comics journalist to answer: Who was the Comics Code Authority?”

This sounds like a story for a comics-based version of This American Life. Which, having just discovered A Life Well Wasted (TAL for video games), I think could be a minor hit and I would be the world’s biggest fan of.

I love Remender. I’m trade-waiting of Uncanny X-Force, but I will definitely pick it up eventually. Remender did something with The Punisher I didn’t think possible – made me want to read about him within the confines of regular Marvel continuity.

@aaron,

I’m actually as much in love with X-force colorist as the penciller Jerome Opeña. I think its refreshing to have a book be colored so distinctly and with such intense hues of fuchsia and red and bright green. its a book with a tone, as opposed to the usual colors everywhere puke of normal super hero books. Not everything is lit with white lights that shows colors so truly. I’m going off on a tangent, but the point is that the colorist has gotten some jabs for some reason, and i just can’t see why.

btw, this week’s brunch was extra scrumptious, considering the Stokoe art, and i really hope the Clevinger is just being blown out of proportion.

I should have clarified, Dean White’s colors are great, I just wish the costumes had some colors to them.

ah! right, right. I’m impartial to the black and white costumes, though i will say that its refreshing to have deadpool in a different color.

honestly though, i’d have no idea how to add color to those costumes while still separating them from the normal x-men. oh well.

Don’t mean to leave a post on a older blog entry – but I just had to circle back around and let everyone know (OK, anyway who happens to take a look back at this Sunday Brunch entry) that based on the comments here, I tried Uncanny X-Force and am very glad I did. I picked up issues 2 & 3 at my LSC (issue 1 was long gone and I wanted to wait and peruse these issued before trying the then just released Issue 4). Like I said above, I’m most familiar with Remender through his creator-owned Indy work, so I was really gratified to see that his excellence translates to other, pre-established characters as well. In fact, he nailed these characters better than anyone has in years. Fantomax has life breathed into him like I’ve not seen since the original G.M. days. And Psyloch? God, I”ve never even cared about that character before and in a scant 2 issues, he made her more real and likable than I’ve ever seen her.

And what’s really great about this series is that Marvel really ponied up and provided some great artsists for this. I’m not familiar with Opena, but I love what he’s doing here. I love those small panels that possess an acute sense of detail that just makes your eyes want to linger and pick up everything in the background. And he’s no slouch on the full-page spreads and splash pages to boot. And I love what Dean White is doing with the colors. Very out-of-the-mainstream but I just love the way it fits with Remender’s writing and Opena’s art. The sepia-imbued pages in the beginning of issue#3 (which shows the history of the Final Horseman) is just gorgeous, and matched with Opena’s art makes it look like you’re looking at the minutely detailed printing on a dollar bill. All-in-all it makes for an excellent book just a little left of the mainstream, and I’m very excited for it. Marvel has a good thing going with this and I hope they don’t monkey with it. Dare I say, it strikes me as a Marvel-equivalent of an “All-Star” series in the making – with the main players just not as well known as the DC counterparts but looking to have every bit the potential. Not sure what the sales figures have looked like, but I’m hoping they’re high enough to convince Marvel to keep this team together and keep this book going. I’ve not been this excited about any X-Universe characters in a long time. And with Jason Aaron back on Wolverine, things have not looked this good for everyone’s favortie Canuckle-head in a long time.

Thanks for tipping me on to this folks. I hated the old, original X-Force so much I don’t think I would have ever tried this had it not been so well endorsed here.

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