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CSBG Archive

Random Thoughts! (May 1, 2012)

Random Thought! Batman buries his opponents in “Knightfall” more than Triple H at his peak of power. It’s Random Thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture. 411mania for wrestling reviews and the occasional CD review.

Random Thought! The second Direct Message is up. Alec Berry and I get together and talk about Sleeper by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Part one is on Alec’s blog and part two is on mine. This discussion took FAR too long. Months upon months, because we are lazy, lazy men. Our next discussion will be on the concluded-last-week Moon Knight series by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

Random Thought! I’m struggling a little to find my groove with my “Riding the Gravy Train” posts on Avengers vs. X-Men, but did enjoy doing last week’s post on AVX: VS #1. Hey, I said I would be discussing that title in terms of wrestling… Also, I always laughed every time someone called that book ‘review proof’ because it was what it claimed to be: a comic featuring nothing but two fights. Yes, let’s ignore the actual quality of those fights. Shit, by those standards, most everything is ‘review proof.’ Except for New Avengers #25, because it didn’t feature any of the New Avengers.

Random Thought! I bought the first volume of the new Batman: Knightfall trades and highly recommend you check out these new volumes. The previous collections of the story took place over three volumes; the first two collected “Knightfall” and the third collected “KnightsEnd.” This first volume collects all of “Knightfall” with the addition of The Vengeance of Bane, which I don’t remember being collected before. The second volume will have “Knightquest,” while the third will have “KnightsEnd” and the aftermath stuff like “Prodigal.” Good on DC for doing these rereleases right (and at $30 per trade — collecting 24 issues). Though, I am a little disappointed that the third trade won’t end with The Vengeance of Bane II since the first trade began with the first special… Then again, I recall that second special not being that great. Mostly because it didn’t involve Batman breaking Bane’s back for fun and pleasure.

Random Thought Sometimes, I hear people talk about page count versus cover price and can’t help but wonder if people talked about any other artistic medium that way consistently. “That movie is only 90 minutes? I want at least 110 minutes for that price!” “I don’t waste money on books that aren’t at least 300 pages…” “A TV shows has to have at least 22 episodes in a season to be worth my time…” Obviously, not perfect analogies — but, still…

Random Thought! By the same token, I was a little confused over people getting upset when some of Marvel’s upcoming trades cost more than the price of the original issues. Considering trades are usually cheaper, we can assume that pricing has little to do with the cost of the original series. In fact, if Marvel (or any publisher) were to notice that people preferred trades more than singles because of the format, why not change more for what could be viewed as a ‘premium’ format? Most people who wait for the trades do so because it’s more convient, which would imply that they would be more willing to pay for that convenience. And what about the difference between hardcovers and trades? I guess I just find this idea that a more convient and desireable format should be cheaper automatically a little strange — and one that publishers have cultivated.

Random Thought! Christ, two ‘business’ thoughts in one column… I hate myself.

Random Thought! Yesterday was the final day to submit a proposal package for the 33 1/3 book series. I was going to do something after coming up with what I thought was a good idea. However, when trying to plan it out, I realised that I wasn’t the guy to execute the idea I had. I don’t have the knowledge, resources, skill — or, most importantly, passion. I got hung up on a clever idea and didn’t realise that it was an idea better suited for someone else until it was too late. Really, it came down to my not wanting to spend my time seeing it through. Ah well…

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Random Thought! Every goddamn week, there’s at least one comment for my Instant Analysis of Raw that basically says “Stop reviewing the show so much in your review of the show.” Fuck me.

Random Thought! Thanks to Bleeding Cool pointing it out this weekend, I purchased Farscape: The Complete Series for a cheap price on Amazon.com that’s still in effect. So, if you’re interested, I’d buy it while the sale lasts. And then, of course, buy the The Peacekeeper Wars since that’s not in the complete series set because of different studios owning the rights to each. But, thankfully, that DVD is cheap.

Random Thought! You know, for a supposedly tough guy, Bane sure is a chickenshit pussy in “Knightfall.” We see numerous scenes of his flunkies going “Hey, there’s Batman — go kick his ass!” and Bane responding “No. He’s not weakened enough yet. I’ll let all of his enemies soften him up enough for me to break him. Because I’m actually kind of shit.”

Random Thought! If Jonathan Hickman keeps this up, Sam Humphries isn’t going to have much of an Ultimates to take over. Seriously, the way things are going in that book, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were renamed “Reed Richards and the Children of Tomorrow” in two issues…

Random Thought! Now that the half issues of The Unwritten are done, it feels weird to have to wait a whole month for a new issue of the series.

Random Thought! Michelle asked me last night if I was excited for The Avengers after seeing a commercial for it. I said no. But that’s only because I probably won’t be seeing it for a couple of weeks — wait for the crowds to die down a little — and there’s no way I’m going to try and maintain enthusiasm for that movie for that long. I’ll begin getting excited on, like, the day I go to see it. Maybe during the previews.

Random Thought! Cyclops is a master of media spin, conveniently forgetting to include in his press release the part of the giant cosmic fire bird that’s been destroying planets on its way to Earth to possibly possess the girl the Avengers are trying to get the fuck away from the planet…

Random Thought! This week and next week (especially next week) are big weeks of comics to buy. No doubt the following week will somehow work out to, like, three comics. And I will continue to complain about too many comics and trades I want to buy!

Random Thought! I kind of wish there was an Avenging Spider-Man tie-in to Avengers vs. X-Men where Kraven the Hunter tries to stalk and kill the Phoenix.

Random Thought! We watched the documentary on the new Rock DVD this weekend and it’s good. It did make me wonder why the Rock didn’t get the four-disc treatment ala “Stone Cold” Steve Austin given how much of the Rock’s popularity was tied to his promos. He definitely deserved a fourth disc of just promos like Austin got. The DVD decision making by the WWE often puzzles me. Hell, I’d love to see the four-disc model become more used. That Edge set I got earlier this month could have easily supported an all-promo disc. The structure of one disc for the documentary, two discs for matches, and one for promos is a strong one.

Random Thought! Speaking of wrestling, Rob Schamberger has a Kickstarter project going to fund painting every world champion in wrestling. It’s a cool idea and the rewards for support are also cool, so, if you’re interested, throw a little money his way.

Random Thought! In five years, every single person in the Marvel Universe will have been an Avengers. In a related thought, I’ve long wanted to see the Justice Society of America concept be taken into the realm of the old heroes actively trying to promote the ‘JSA lifestyle’ to the public at large. Basically, create a real Justice Society. Oddly, the Avengers seem to be doing that. After all, we did just see a fight where it was Namor as an X-Men fighting the Thing as an Avenger. That’s weird.

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Random Thought! I will miss Irredeemable. I really will.


Random Joe Casey Question! In the short semi-autobiographical story you did with Sean Phillips, “Autopilot,” you seem to talk around the idea that, working as a writer in mainstream comics, you basically have three areas you have to service: your own creative interests, your professional interests/the interests of your employer, and the interests of the audience. The conclusion you come to suggests that it’s near impossible to satisfy all three (hell, it’s difficult to satisfy one of them completely, I imagine). Do you place any of them as your priority usually? What’s the closest you’ve come to satisfying all three do you think? Hell… do you care about satisfying all three? (Also, did I just miss the point completely and am creating a question off of a false assumption?)

Random Joe Casey Answer! I really don’t think I’ve ever satisfied all three. And, really, you miss out on a lot of the fun involved in the creative process when you’re chasing any of them. If your artistic sensibilities happen to cross over with the sensibilities of the audience, then good for you. As for my “professional interests”, it’s been a good long while since those have been any real consideration for me. Which is how it should be.

These days, I’m usually out to service my own creative interests exclusively. I figure, if I can do that to a satisfactory degree, then at the very least I’m being honest with myself… and if an audience is receptive to that work, then I guess I win. And I’d rather connect with an audience in a genuine way rather than blatantly pander to them to get them on my side. I already work in mass entertainment media, where you’re trying to please everyone and their picky-ass mother. So I know the goddamn difference from first-hand experience.

I’m quite content with comicbooks being a niche market, like poetry or jazz. I didn’t used to feel that way. Ten or twelve years ago, I really wanted comicbooks to be on par with movies and TV. Then I came to my senses… because they’re obviously so much better than those other entertainment mediums…!


Random Comments! Will Travis Pelkie get a comment in this week? Answer below!

Chris Hargett said: The way I interpreted this one, was that the COURT knows, but that the Talons they sent werent briefed on this. Why would the Court relay anything to a bunch of reanimated dead anyway, right?

Because not mentioning that to your soldiers seems like a really, really stupid strategy. They think they’re going after some harmless trust fund idiot and, instead, it’s Batman. Awful strategy.

wil said: Garth Ennis Oral History of John Constantine. Or the Punisher for that matter.

Punisher would be interesting. I’d tap Mike Carey for John Constantine, if only because his run displayed a strong knowledge of the character’s history. It was the most ‘continuity heavy’ run I’ve read — and usually in ways that felt organic. It’s not my favourite run, but it’s one that shows him to be my first choice to try to tell the entire story of the character.

Travis Pelkie said: OK, enough of that. Will any of THAT get me into Random Comments, big boy?


That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later


I’ve thought about the movie and price thing before. I pretty much refuse to see a movie that’s less than 90 mins in theaters.

I’m the other way round – I won’t see anything over 3 hours, and in fact I’m of the opinion that almost no movie has an excuse to exceed 2 hours. (I’m giving Avengers a pass because it had to introduce all of those characters).

I think about price/length when it comes to DVDs of TV seasons. Like HBO used to want $70-80 for a season of Deadwood or the Sopranos, even though they were ~13 episode seasons, and you could get a network series of 20+ episodes for $35 or so at the time. Granted, the HBO shows went over 50 minutes an episode, while the network ones run in the low 40s, but you were still getting less content for a lot more money. Deadwood eventually got cheaper, but since the show just ended leaving me hanging, I never felt the urge to get around to buying the discs. Though I could go for an expletive-filled Ian McShane rant about now.

The only reason I’m not a dedicated trade-waiter is spoiler paranoia. For the things I’m really into, I have to read them ASAP. I would absolutely love some program where you buy the digital copies and that earns you a discount on the trade. Or a bundle of the digital issues plus pre-ordering the trade where it’s maybe $5 more than the trade.

A film’s runtime and a comic’s page count have never really been concerns of mine. If a comic or movie is good enough, no longer how good it is, it’ll never be long enough. Some of my favorite movies were longer than three hours, and I’ve been known to buy a comic just for a couple pages of Milk & Cheese.

-I know a lot of hardcore video game players question their purchases when they hear about the length of an average playthrough. I know, I know, quality > quantity, but $60 bucks for a game you can beat in a few hours, with little reason to replay it any time soon? That’s a big investment. We’re informerd consumers. We have so much entertainment choices out there, and at the end of the day its $3.99 for 20 pages of story you’ll breeze through in 5-10 minutes. Prices have gone up, actual content has gone down, and sales are lower then ever. I’m sure they don’t relate in any meaningful way, of course.

-I’m usually like you, in that I wait for the crowds to die down so I can enjoy the movie without distractions, but not for the Avengers. The Avengers is something you go see with as many excited people as possible. Much like pro wrestling, a crowd can drastically change your perception of the entertainment. A bad crowd can turn you off just as much as a good crowd can get you excited. The laughs are funnier, the action more exciting, the romance that much more adorable(When the whole audience goes, “Awwww” all at the same time, voluntarily almost on cue, too good). It’s a social experience and can make even bad movies into an enjoyable time at the movies.

-I REALLY want Kraven the Hunter going after the Phoenix. Talk about big game! After you catch that, you really can kill yourself; it’s never gonna get better then that!

I remember having a date insist on going to see the Rob Schnider vehicle The Animal. As we were leaving, I remember explicitly stating to the girl I was with that at just over 60 minutes of movie, I should feel ripped off if I wasn’t so happy to just have the experience end.

Movies you see on a date don’t count for discussions like this. Seeing the movie isn’t really the primary reason of seeing the movie — which makes the actual movie somewhat irrelevant.

I don’t know about the movie analogy, but as someone who reads a lot of Amazon reviews, I have seen plenty of reviews complain that although a nonfiction book was well-written, enjoyable, clearly written, or full of ideas, it was too few pages for the price.

I’d like to echo everyone’s thoughts on page count and TV shows on DVD. I won’t buy a BBC show for more than 20 Australian dollars, because I know there’s only going to be 6 or 8 episodes and generally there’s no commentary or special features; I can get a 22-episode season of something else, often with 3 or 4 (or, in the case of Community, 22) commentaries and a whole raft of stuff that makes it worth more. That’s not to say that I’ll never splurge, of course, but I certainly /consider/ the ratio of bang to my buck.

In terms of trades and prices being more expensive… I guess the feeling is that the “payment” for the convenience is not reading it when it comes out, rather than having an actual tangible value? If it costs more than the single issues /and/ it’s coming out 6 months after the last issue that’s in it shipped, it feels like being hit double. I suspect if the trade came out the same week that the last issue did, or a week or two later – within the same sort of timeframe – then people would be alright with paying a bit more.

There’s no set-in-stone rules for page-per-dollar for me, but it depends on the quality of whomever is working on it. I’d pay $20 for a 50-page Moebius book. I’d laugh at the idea of paying $20 for a 50-page book from someone like Jim Lee.

Also, comparing the price of movies to boxed-sets has really put a stop to buying individual movies for me. Why pay $20 for a dvd of one 90 minute movie when I can buy a 5-disk box set of a television show I enjoy just as much that has at least seven times the run-time for only a $30 or $40 price tag?

Hope you enjoy the Farscape series. I do warn you though, if you watch too many episodes back to back, the language of the show will creep into your daily vernacular. Try explaining to non-viewers what you mean when you say ‘Deep Frelling Dren’.

I am surprised there was no comment about Battlescars #6. I was more excited about the debut of Phil Coulson in the regular MU rather than Samuel L Fury.

Also, why are BBC box sets so expensive in Australia? I went shopping for Dr Who for my brother, and was surprised how much a season box costs, compared to what I was paying for HBO and other network tv series?

Travis Pelkie

May 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm

“In five years, every single person in the Marvel Universe will have been an Avengers.”

I think Marvel U. Andy Warhol said that one first.

And dammit, still not in the comments section? What do I have to DO!!!???!!!

Waaaaaaaiiiiiittttt a second! I DID get into the comments! HA! I tricked you!!!

Somehow, it just doesn’t feel right, though. Huh. I feel empty. Ennui is creeping in. Nihilism is taking over, and even wondering how to pronounce “nihilism” isn’t helping (Nigh- or Knee-?). I don’t even want to figure out how to actually spell “convenient” to let Chad know there’s a misspelling. Why God Why!??!!

What are we talking about, again?

sandwich eater

May 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I wait for trades because they are cheaper. I expect them to cost a third to half the cost of the original issues. If trades cost more I’d probably switch to individual issues or just give up on the expensive ones.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

@ T.P.: We’re talking about you, you dirty paranoid bugger!
Excuse me while I go take a shower and scrub myself with a scouring brush!

Travis Pelkie

May 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Tom, please don’t tell us what you do when you think about me. Eww!

Thanks for the mention of my Kickstarter, Chad!

Jeremy already mentioned it, but video games are a pretty good comparison in regards to cost vs. amount of time it takes to complete.

I haven’t read Knightfall since it originally came out, but I enjoyed it quite a bit at the time. I thought KnightsEnd was even better. I always figured that if I re-read it today I’d think it was ridiculous 90s crossover crap, but I might need to dig those issues out and give it another look.

Travis Pelkie

May 1, 2012 at 11:57 pm

“people preferred trades more than singles because of the format, why not change more for”

That should be charge, not change, right? That was what was throwing me off in understanding what you were getting at.

But yeah, I certainly prefer to see the trade at a comparable price to the individual issues, but I certainly understand if the trades are being upped in price. If that’s where they’re making the money, why not get a bit more?

Indie comics, at least, (and maybe the bigger companies in Diamond) have always been that the individual issues aren’t what make money, the collections do. I know in Cerebus columns in the late ’80s, not long after he started issuing the phone books, he said that the collection was what made the money.

Since magazine/print advertising is down in general, I’d guess that individual issues of even the big 2 aren’t making money (for the most part) for companies.

On your other business note, I get what you’re saying, that content neutral complaints about page count vs price are silly, but I think the one thing that is different with comics versus other media is that comics are sold with pre-set page counts. The only really comparable comparison was your TV season episode count. Comics are sold with the preset counts, and we’ve gotten used to the 22 (+) page books at a certain price. Now comics are doing what food packaging is (not increasing the sale price, but decreasing the amount of stuff for that price — Steak Umms is the latest victim of this!).

I wonder, too, if complaints are partly because comics have gotten into the bad habit of not having done in one issues much anymore. If you get a complete story with a movie, book, TV show, what have you, the price versus the amount of time involved won’t be as big a complaint. And if you don’t get a complete story, it tends to be that as the basis of complaint in other media.

Or something.

Travis Pelkie

May 2, 2012 at 12:18 am

“You know, for a supposedly tough guy, Bane sure is a chickenshit pussy in “Knightfall.” We see numerous scenes of his flunkies going “Hey, there’s Batman — go kick his ass!” and Bane responding “No. He’s not weakened enough yet. I’ll let all of his enemies soften him up enough for me to break him. Because I’m actually kind of shit.””

I believe that’s called characterization.

Actually, turning off the snark (well, down, at least), I haven’t read the first Bane special, but wasn’t it that he was king shit in the prison he was raised in, and since that was a controlled/easily controllable environment, he didn’t have to do much after his initial tough guy poses, so he didn’t really have the stuff to back up his anti-Batman stance? He wasn’t good enough to take on Batman until Batman was completely beaten down, and then Bane was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I couldn’t resist.

Also, I’ve got a Batman vs Bane collection out from the library that I’ve yet to read, so maybe that answers something, but I might check out this new collecting of the Knight-stuff. It was pretty good, what I read of it.

Ok, also, am I just nuts, or wasn’t the rumor at the time that it would turn out that Bane was Batman’s son? Did I just misunderstand something I heard about that stuff, or was that a rumor? Maybe it’s even a CBLR level rumor, hint hint Brian ;)

Like Batman, Triple H also knocked-up his Arch-Enemy’s daughter.

Probably the better TV series analogy to page count gripes would be the CN Adult swim series and some of the midnight anime that are 15 minutes long, with seasons 13 or episodes long (or 2 half-seasons). Some were even shorter (FLCL, for example).

To me, the only show that has worked for me in that format has been Robot Chicken, and that’s because it’s skit/anthology, and stop-motion to boot (which, given an appreciation for how long SM takes, even with computer help, a season’s worth of 15-minute shows is actually something to applaud – let alone multiple seasons).

Mike Loughlin

May 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

For me, $4 is too much to pay for a single comic book. Therefore, $17 is too much to pay for, say, the second Uncanny X-Force trade that collects 4 issues. I liked the first one, but not enough to drop $4+ per comic. I’m sure I will buy the second UX-F trade at a steep discount some time in the future. I’m sure I will enjoy it. For the same price (plus a couple bucks), I can get two recent trades or hardcovers in the discount section. I can get an Essential or Showcase collection. I can get 5 or 6 $3 single isues. I can get the same item much cheaper on Amazon or ebay.

Similarly, I won’t buy hardcover books for full price or regular-length albums for more than $12. I can get something else cheaper and the desired object will be available for less in the future.

My comics budget is limited, so I have to be a smarter shopper. Movies are different. when I go to a movie, I get a complete story (regardless of length) for the price. There is ususally a higher incident-to-minute ratio. I’m with other people. I’ve felt ripped off by bad movies before, but I’m rarely less than satisfied by a good movie that clocks in around 90 minutes.


May 2, 2012 at 10:32 am

I think the Austin one was a bit longer may be because there is just more to his story. He went from territories to WCW to ECW to WWF mid carder to Biggest star since 80’s Hogan. Whereas Rock went from playing football to developmental right to WWF.

Speaking of the recent WWE dvd’s I would greatly recommend the Blu Ray versions. I am in no way a tech snob or care greatly about how much clearer the Blu Rays are but well they are and also the extras on all of them are very nice. More matches and for instance on the Edge one there is a 5-10 minute long extra about the Edge and Christian with Comissioner Foley stuff which, granted, should have been on the main part of the doc but wasnt. But all of the new ones have been great: Edge, Rock, Austin, HBK vs Bret, even the Randy Orton one was way better than I would have thought.

I prefer panel count to page count. I’ve seen too many comics that I could read in two minutes because they have, like, three splash pages, and only three panels on most of the other pages. (And, often, not much happening in the panels that are there.)

Books already do seem to have a rough correlation between page count and price. It’s by no means an absolute, hard and fast rule, all other things being equal, you’ll usually end up paying more for a 500 page doorstop than a novella.

That said, like a lot of people, that’s maybe my 8 or 9th concern, well behind things like author, topic, edition, etc.

Comic book writing is so goddamn decompressed these days that we end up paying $3 or $4 for one sixth of a novella/ short story. If Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine was $25 bucks, people would watch the page count there too.

It’s infuriating. For instance, there’s only been one drawn out Green Lantern story in the last five years, right? Has Hal Jordan even changed clothes?

ABOUT DAMN TIME… DC did a rerelease of Prodigal. I keep telling fans that it’s a must read of the “Nightwing donning the cowl” trope. In my opinion, the only story with Dick in the cowl that’s better is the recent Black Mirror one by Scott Snyder….

Too true about Avengers and the Namor vs Thing fight Chad…and the Wolverine flip-flopping deal….

I dunno about the Avengers Academy tie in…but as usual, Hercules outright stole his scenes and Surge and Hazmat as a team up might be too much sarcastic sass for any villain to match….

I may not go gaga over The Rock but it is true that he needed a promos DVD included in the set… Even in my itunes, I got 5 or 6 of his because they cracked me up so much…

Avengers…Thursday at midnight…..Friday at 9am…..Saturday..sometime…. So I see it once by myself, and twice with friends…. You think DC has seen the light and will get the framework started for a JLA one now? That might break the internet (and most banks) in half because of the iconic nature of their heroes. 310 million at this point for Avengers would be dwarfed by Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman et al taking on Darkseid…

Sorry Earth 2.. but WTF Jay Garrick? They turned him into Wally West without the Barry Allen obsessive fanboy-ism. I was hesistant on the relaunch giving how much I loved the previous iteration and its racially/gender mixed line of tradition. Sigh… I wonder how many JSA lovers really liked this first issue?

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