July 19, 2006 / More →
Off in the morning to the greatest freak-fest on planet earth, and like every year, i'm giddy with excitement. What's not to love about fleets of fat Klingons, leather-skinned & way past their due-date, aging "models," hordes of pony-tailed sweathogs in their full-length black leather jackets, and 40 year-old men dressed up like Sailor Moon?
I've been doing this show on and off now since i first went down with my pal Steve Ryan in 1991, and we were pitching projects to the Kevin Eastman pipe-dream, the money black-hole known as Tundra. We went again in 1994, and i haven't missed a show since 1996.
Chris, Rob (Venditti) and Andy (Runton) are already there and set up. Many thanks, guys. I don't envy those cats; for some reason the organizers refuse to turn on the air-conditioning during set-up, despite the bazillion dollar per-square-foot rental space vendors pay for the luxury.
This year, however, we'll be displaying fewer of our backlist books in general, and more of the frontlist and brand new books. (Hope to freaking god that Jeffrey Brown's new book shows.) So set-up should be a little easier.
I'll be honest... i just don't know what to expect about the debut of Lost Girls. The artist, Melinda Gebbie will be there signing, all the way from Northampton, England, and the press so far has been great. But this book … at the risk of sounding like i'm talking out of my ass … is absolutely unique in comics history. Highly intellectual, deeply spiritual, hard-core porn? At $75 a pop? Keeping fingers crossed.
I hope i sleep tonight.
July 18, 2006 / More →
I'd seen this funky looking magazine/book at numerous stores for a while now, called Modern Arf, edited by Craig Yoe. Not know exactly what it was, and broke to boot, i passed. Luckily fate came to my rescue, in the form of Reading Frenzy proprietress Chloe Eudaley, who sold me a copy of volume one for half price, because it had a dinged cover.
I just bought the second issue (both volumes are published by Fantagraphics) at Reading Frenzy, and i'm now a certified convert. This publication is a veritable treasure trove of cool comics weirdness. Yoe is excavating long-lost and forgotten gems that truly deserve the light of day. (With some perfectly suitable contemporary work sprinkled throughout, for zest.) He's the freaking Indiana Jones of Comics.
Arf also treads into the realm of sister media, like editorial cartoons, and fine-art illustration. A philosophy that i love, and one that gets overlooked, in the larger context of comics history. The focus and bent is not unlike that of another fine publication, Comic Art, but the difference is in the presentation. Where Comic Art might expend a great deal of energy and space talking about a given subject, Arf is more prone to just throw it up on its oversized pages in all it's inky beauty, with maybe one tiny text caption of explanation.
Kudos to Craig on curating one of my favorite new things in comics in a very very long time.
Meanwhile, i just finished reading easily the most succinct short essay on The Conservative Agenda, ever. In fact, i'd be interested to read a Conservative response to this. The title of the piece is Bush Is Not Incompetent. If politics or truth don't float your boat, just skip this.
July 15, 2006 / More →
How much booty does Aaron Renier kick all over town. (In his case, Brooklyn.)
Here is his newly designed cover for the French edition of Spiral-Bound, renamed Top Secret Summer (the sub-title of Aaron's book), because there was no real translation otherwise.
Masterful. Aaron, great work.
July 12, 2006 / More →
Finally saw Superman Returns on Sunday night. Went with my old comic-geek fanboy buddy Steve Taylor, who, in the end, said he didn't like it! Ouch. Mostly because he wasn't into the religious allegory.
To be fair, there were some pretty long stretches in this baby where i was bored stiff. Example: Lex Luthor's Kryptonite/Crystal palace erupting off the east coast. Sure the effects were stunning and grand, but holy crap some of these scenes were coma-inducing.
Also, the weird connection to the first two flicks by Richard Donner, with several almost scene-for-scene reinterpretations, made this seem like watching Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness all rolled into one movie.
As for the religious stuff, that was actually some of the best stuff. The allegory way beyond mere Christianity (or any world religion for that matter), into the larger realm of mythology, both classic and contemporary. The crucifix money shot of Supes drifting powerless in the atmosphere was almost worth the price of admission, on its own. The Hero's Journey, and all that.
The actors rocked, the look was lush and right on the money, the sets all fine and dandy. But for me, if there was any recent criticism of the movie that i would share, it's the almost disturbing devotion to the Donner films, which led to a lack of originality. It was perfectly executed, and yet something was lacking. Sort of like JLO.
In any case, i loved it all around. I really liked Kate Bosworth... a real surprise. Routh was solid, if not a little boyish now and then. Loved Spacey and Posie. I had a big grin on my face for most of the film, and that pretty much says it all.
•Â Then last night, i went with one of my interns, Chris to the pub/theater a few blocks away, to see the classic Deliverance. I hadn't seen this existential nightmare since i was a wee lad. (Literally, i remember being about 13 or 14 when one of my parents took us kids out with some other friends to a drive-in to see this.) I didn't remember much of this besides the banjo scene, and now i know why … it must have fucked me up in such a big way that i had to purge it from my psyche altogether, or leave me ruined at an early age. Mom, what were you thinking?!?!
Seriously, i'm amazed that this film isn't mentioned more often as one of the pantheon of greats. Just great storytelling all around, and a scary indictment of the human condition. Jon Voight turned in a brilliant performance, and actually conveyed such a realistic drunken scene, that i almost wouldn't doubt for a second that he was actually wasted off his ass when filming it.
I don't know much about the making of this (and now i want to), but it seems like it may have been one of those "journey" films, ala Apocalypse Now, where the crew and cast were living what they were creating.
And the hillybillies, well, yeah... oof.
July 8, 2006 / More →
Once again my buddy Gary Butler makes a strong personal recommendation to me, and yet again i have a new jones for more entertainment to dig on, when i simply don't have time enough in the day to think straight as it is.
Not long ago, you see, Gary sent me a really crummy bootleg of the recent retcon of Battlestar Galactica. About an hour in the disc started jumping erratically, and even skipping whole chapters; so much so it was unwatchable. I'm convinced now that Gary sent me the bum disc on purpose to prove how compelling this show really is. The very next day i went out and bought the Season One dvd set (which includes the mini-series as well), just so i could see how it the opening scene ends. Holy crapola, what a great twist!
Just got done watching the first regular episode, and i have to say that this is absolutely riveting television. Hands-down the best contemporary sci-fi on tv (well, along with Firefly, that is) since Next Generation, oh so long ago. I will admit i was very skeptical of this series when it premiered, if mainly because there has been zero science fiction that suited my tastes in years and years and years. (Again, excepting Whedon's Firefly, which is so singularly unique, i don't put it in the same category.)
I love the idea of the new model cylons, and especially the hot, sex-starved, god-fearing blondy, who gets under the skin of the bad guy, the scientist Dr. Gaius Baltar … the stand-in for the old bulb-headed bad in the original. (I'm guessing, anyway. I haven't seen that stuff in so long, and i can't recal for sure. I'd wager it hasn't held up too well. Although i'll ALWAYS love the old spaceships, and the cyclons themselves.)
The cast is superb, and just how Loren Greene carried the show in it's first incarnation, Edward James Olmos is beyond incredible in this role. Tough, responsible, warm, and a true leader. This guy is a rock. (Wish we had "real" leaders like this running the show.)
The President (something like the 43rd in command, after the home planets were decimated along with the old Prez and the next 40-odd in line), is played with aplomb by Mary McDonnell. Apollo and Starbuck, and even the deck-hands, all stand out. There's no dud on the crew. (Like the original annoying blond who used to stand next to Worf on Next Generation. Man, i was so happy to see her bite it. What was her name?)
But what really rocks me is just the verisimilitude of the show. Everything just looks and feels plausible, unlike shows like Babylon 5, Farscape, or Stargate, all of which have such a cheesy veneer to them. (I've never been able to sit through a single episode of any one of them, so i won't cast judgment... they're just not my gig.) And the scenario rings so much more true than any of Trek shows post-Next Generation.
I. Am. Hooked. Thanks, Gary!
• Read a few things over a 4th of July break spent at my mom-in-law's lake-house. Most note-worthy was the excellent Bob Haney interview in the most recent Comics Journal. Great stuff, from a grizzled old DC vet who passed away a few years ago. A hot-headed guy with a wonderful sense of humor, and not afraid to call a spade a spade.
•Â Also read volume one of the new Southland Tales prequel graphic novels, by Richard (Donnie Darko) Kelly. It's pretty bizarre, like i expected, and when the next volume comes out, i'll re-read this one again. Pretty original, if not entirely easy to follow. The art by Brett Weldele is simply gorgeous. And no, i'm not just saying this because Brett drew our own Surrogates. I just dig his stuff. People have compared his work to Ben Templesmith … a fair comparison, and another artist i like (30 Days of Night is killer) … but i think Brett can paint circles around Ben. He's got the same flair for color , mood, and atmosphere, but his line art and storytelling are both, well, better.
In any case, in spite of some negative reviews about the debut of Southland Tales at Cannes this year, this prequel piqued my interest, and has me really looking forward to the flick. After all, Donnie Darko was a big-time sleeper, and now it's a legitimate cult phenomenon.
•Â Lastly, i read the recent Modern Masters from the superb TwoMorrows press, spotlighting my old hero John Byrne. This was a great read, and the featured interview was one conducted by Jon Cooke, originally intended to run in an issue of Comic Book Artist. In his prime, Byrne was a god. And so inspired i went out and picked up the first four issues of his recent retcon of The Doom Patrol. His art was actually very nice, inked by Doug Hazelwood i think(?), and his story had some good ideas. But it just smelled and tasted so much like a late-80's - early 90's, by-the-numbers comic book, i just couldn't buy into it. (Especially when right afterwards, i pulled my Doom Patrol Archives off the shelf, and marveled at the goofy fun and the absolutely stunning art by Bruno Primiani. Why that guy isn't mentioned in the same breath as his Silver Age comrades is a freaking crime.)
Anyway, sorry John. That said, i will track down the first couple issues he did (again with a more detailed inker than himself) of Action Comics, penned by Gail Simone. We'll see. I'll let you know what i think.