It is no accident that Superman, the original boy scout, the mildest-mannered, the most humane of all superheroes, always has a dog. Obviously, the concept of a super-powered dog is probably the silliest one yet to come from comic books, but whether it was with Krypto or a more mundane dog, I always picture Clark Kent growing up with animals. Unlike the humans in his life, he would never have to explain himself to them, or fear rejection if they saw his true nature. Animals are important in any kid’s life, but I can imagine that they would be essential to a superhero growing up with a secret like he had. Any hero as solid and grounded as he is would need to have animal companionship to grow up with and in many ways they could be as important to him as his human relationships, since we’re all alien life forms to him.
Growing up with the X-Men made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I guess I was lucky because whatever kind of freak I was, I wasn’t any kind of outcast and there were always friends around, but I never felt like part of anything or understood by anyone. I had an unconventional upbringing and that engendered hiding a lot of things from people, nothing really big but I didn’t feel particularly connected to the culture I was growing up in. And the other kids could tell that I wasn’t “normal”; I was small, thin, dark, I dressed all wrong, I ate the wrong food, and I liked all the wrong TV and music. I didn’t choose to be different, I just was.
In a move which disappoints everyone, (but surprises no one), the first promo pic from the upcoming Vivid Entertainment Wonder Woman porn parody reveals that her costume is significantly closer to her comic book counterpart than any the hero has worn in other screen adaptations.
Buying a book before it is has been created is a bit of a gamble. A collaborative art project by comic book artists, painters, writers, and musicians has to be even more of an unquantifiable project, so TOME has been a particularly pleasant surprise.
Superhero comic books have saved me. I don’t mean that some real-life lunatic vigilante in a costume stopped a mugger or something, I’m talking about the actual comic books. There was a turning point in my life, when I had to stop waiting to be rescued by some larger-than-life hero, and figure out that I was (and am) my own superhero. It changed everything and I am so grateful that it did. Books like Elektra Assassin, The Uncanny X-Men’s Dark Phoenix Saga, Promethea, Arkham Asylum, Concrete, and Kingdom Come all told tales of people who got to their lowest ebb and then figured out how to rescue themselves. In this way the stories I loved became parables to guide me and I found strength, even when it was simply the strength to know how to ask for help.
As always, this year Seattle’s incredible Emerald City Comic Con presented an amazing line up of comic book creators and associated ephemera. The staff, guests, and attendees were consistently friendly, helpful, and entertaining. There was so much to see and enjoy that I only managed to fit a tenth of what I wanted into the three days I had there and by extension, I only managed to fit a tenth of that into this column, but I hope this rough countdown of incredible things gives you a taste of the best titbits of one of the best comic book conventions I’ve ever been to.
Like a lot of adult comic book readers do at some point, I’ve been taking stock of my reading choices and the type of mainstream, ongoing, monthly comic books which I read. It took me a while to figure out what was bothering me, but I found that I was making a couple of assumptions which, upon closer examination, were wrong.
1. I’ve been assuming that I read predominantly two types of comic books; fantasy and superhero (apart from the odd foray into horror, bios, and science fiction.)
2. Without thought and with quite some negative judgement about it, I’ve been thinking of the fantasy genre comic books as “girl” comics, and the superhero ones as “boy” comics (e.g. some weeks are “girl heavy”).
These are depressingly reductive ways to look at the comic books I enjoy, and the more I thought about it, the more I saw how wrong I was.
Comic book artists make strange shoe designers. Some of them don’t really draw feet, others perch their heroes on tiny 6″ stilettos and assume they’ll be able to fight. Decades ago when I first began reading American superhero comics, the footwear fascinated me. Too young to be wearing anything but the most basic, functional kid-shoes, I loved the thigh-highs, the swashbuckling boots, the slouchy ankle boots, and all manner of footwear that was still out of my reach. As I’ve aged it has become less of an item of desire and more of curiosity as I witness cosplayers at conventions trying to duplicate their favorite heroes, footwear and all. Here is a list of ten of of my favorite boots in comic books, with no films included (I wanted to look more at the work of the artists and their take on specific shoe designs).
Reset is the story of out-of-work, B-movie comedy actor Guy Krause, whose life has become a series of tabloid story jokes. He’s penniless and out of work when he’s approached to be a guinea pig for a mysterious, virtual reality project which allows the subject to relive and change events from their past. The only control that the subject has over his virtual experience is a “reset” button, which allows him to return to the beginning of his story (his high school graduation) and start all over again. Initially it seems like some kind of dumb game or potential psychotherapy tool, but as the weeks progress the behind-the-scenes workings become increasingly disturbing and we begin to wonder if our heroes sanity is safe…
Committed: The “Batman On Robin” Exhibition (Warning: Explicit Imagery, for mature readers only, NSFW, etc)
This Friday sees the opening of an exhibition of original art inspired by the relationship between Batman and Robin at Mission Comics and Art from February 6th – March 3rd. The exhibition includes original works from 30 artists, including Ed Luce, Sina Grace, Beth Dean, as well as the curators; Justin Hall and Rick Worley. I spoke with Worley and Hall about the exhibition, and they gave us a preview of art which will be included in the show (which I’ve included below the interview.)
Please note that some of the imagery is of a graphic nature and will not be appropriate for all ages.
Last week Jeff Lemire let me know that he and Ray Fawkes are committed to keeping John Constantine’s life filled with self-sabotage, demons, sex, and all kinds of insanity. After a sneak peak at the script for Constantine #1 (on shelves in March) I found some points of interest, certainly enough to make me look forward to the release of Constantine in March), and Lemire kindly agreed to answer a few questions. Talking about his intentions and the future for our favorite misanthropic anti-hero gives me hope that the core issues Hellblazer was able to wrestle with may not be entirely lost in this forthcoming take on the character.
Kyle Baker has posted small versions of his graphic novels on his website for everyone to read for free. I’m hoping that this will lead more people to discover the subtle genius that is “Why I Hate Saturn”, along with many of his other very clever, funny, beautiful, eclectic books.
For many years, Why I Hate Saturn was one of my favorite comic books, it was funny, silly, clever and wise. I gave it to at least three different friends so they would understand me a little better. This story highlights all of the things that work in society, (as well as the many things that don’t), and it makes me laugh while it does it. When I was growing into myself, it demystified a very awkward phase I was going through and the confusing changes in the ways that the world was responding to me. Even though that particular awkward phase is done, there are always new ones and this is still a book which is dear to my heart.
Committed: Big Bang Theory Vs. Morgan Spurlock (or “When a Sitcom is Less Insulting than a Documentary”)
Like junk food, I expect my consumption of sitcoms to be unsatisfying and flippantly derogatory. I do not expect the same from films calling themselves “documentaries” but unfortunately that is what I experienced.
Last week an episode of the The Big Bang Theory (season 6, episode 13) featured the guys going to a small convention in costume, leaving their girlfriends to explore comic books. As usual, it was presented in a denigrating and ridiculous manner, belittling everyone involved. No big surprise, it was the usual mildly amusing collection of silly clichés played out by an ensemble of two-dimensional characters.
Jud Meyers and Scott Tipton (founders of Blastoff Comics in North Hollywood) are the team behind the ambitious compendium comic book for Elizabeth’s Canvas; a non-profit organization which offers cancer patients and people affected by cancer creative therapy through free art classes, including painting, drawing, and writing. Published by IDW in March, with all of the proceeds going to the organization (thanks to IDW covering the print costs) this book features work by well-known writers and artists from all over the world. Meyers agreed to sit down and tell us more about the book.
In 2012 a broader variety of author communicated their joy and intensity using the alchemy that is art and literature in comic books. The wealth of great comic books published in nearly every genre made me happier than I can say and when I put in my votes for the CBR Top 100 Comics of 2012 I was hard pressed to pick only 10 comic books to vote for. So for you, I’ve compiled 16 mini-reviews of my favorite comic books published in 2012. These books were enjoyable, intense, personal, and / or an evolution of the the comic book medium (and now I can’t wait to see what we’re going to get this year!) Continue Reading »