Today at the Journal, we've got the first piece of evidence that Matt Seneca meant it when he said he was going to review everything he read this year--here it is, his new column, titled Search & Destroy. There's a lot of meat in this column, but the part I liked best was when I read how he refers to the Holy Trio of Violence as "my three favorite rough boys":
When I go to a comic store that only has superhero stuff on sale (most of the time these days), I usually look first at the selection of Wolverine, Batman, and Punisher comics. These have historically maintained a higher standard than most other hero books, I believe because of the smaller amount of imagination necessary to do a serviceable job on them. If you’re doing the Silver Surfer or some shit, you’ve really gotta cast a wide net and pull in something pretty different with it to make a mark. But with my favorite three rough boys, all you have to do is concoct a situation that forces the main character into committing acts of violence. From there, they pretty much write themselves, differing only in milieu and the level of sanction their heroes find it acceptable to administer: Batman usually stops at unconsciousness, Wolverine at grievous bodily harm, and for the Punisher only death will suffice. Like the novels of Jim Thompson, these comics deliver on a hyper-masculine, voyeuristic formula, elevated by the exoticism of their settings and the particularities of their protagonists’ pathologies. And as with Thompson, if you come in with the right expectations it’s hard to go wrong.
And that's not all we've got: Over in the Reviews category, Leonard Pierce has returned to us with a look at Image's latest bestseller, Bingo Love.
It’s a very sweet story, and it’s told with a certain degree of charm and flair. And unquestionably, it’s the kind of story we need to see, especially in comics, where there’s a dearth of anything but lunkheaded superhero variants from companies like Image, let alone stories that center older queer women of color. It was produced outside of traditional venues of publishing, and it showcases creators who don’t normally get this degree of attention. The book’s good intentions are obvious. So…what’s the problem?
ELSEWHERE? The biggest news in comics criticism looks to be two recent hires at the New York Times--Hillary Chute & Ed Park, who have been brought on as regular columnists focused on the graphic novel category. For more information about the hire, Calvin Reid has you covered on that, and the possible connections to a recent agent-led campaign to return a Graphic Novel Bestseller list to the newspaper.
An INTERVIEW I rather liked, in no small part because it is about a book I publish by my favorite cartoonist went up yesterday, you should read it, absolutely. Am I biased? Yes. Of course I am. It's with Michel Fiffe and Kyle Welch, and it's over at Multiversity.
This PROFILE on William Messner-Loebs started making the rounds yesterday, and while I share the writer's emotional connection to those old Wally West issues--not just the Pied Piper ones, but also the ones where Wally was sleeping with a married woman when he wasn't binge-eating hamburgers--said connection is not required to be disgusted at the never-ending cycle of cruelty that is financial difficulty.