The East Coast’s loss is LA’s gain: God bless Nate Bulmer.
Abhay Khosla with the news, and then a suicide note.
There was an Alt-Comics war between Girl Mountain artist Simon Hanselmann and Prison Pit artist Johnny Ryan, which also involved Hanselmann’s “best friend” HTML Flowers and illustrator Nick Gazin. The last time I saw so many poor people fighting, we were watching Bum Fights on YouTube. Me and the other members of the upper crust. Lady Wintersbottom brought wagyu-stuffed lobster, and I snorted caviar off Baron Gurneysniff’s platinum-crusted titties.
It’s hard to find a neutral account of what went down, as the Ryan/Hanselmann contretemps somehow escaped the attention of the LA Times’s Hero Complex blog; plus: many (most?) of the primary texts seem to have been deleted after the fact or happened on Facebook, other than comics where they limpdick battle-rapped each other.
According to a message board post I Bing-ed, “HTML Flowers and Simon Hanselmann have been prodding and heckling Johnny Ryan for making gross comics and Nick Gazin for supporting him for a while now. Ryan and Gazin didn’t know who they were for a while, which resulted in some funny facebook comments back and forth, where friends of Simon and Flowers got involved.” On the other hand, according to this Tumblr post, Johny Ryan changed his profile picture to imply “that grant has different hair or looks funny (or something).” But to be fair, my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going out with the girl who saw Nick Gazin pass out at 31 Flavors last night. So, I guess it’s pretty serious. Will Johnny Ryan retaliate against Hanselmann and Gazin by including them in his Slam Book? Only the popular girls and the Cool Asians know for sure.
But hostilities seem to have ended so comic fans can look forward to all of these people getting back to whatever it is they supposedly do.
Meanwhile, Ben Affleck is Batman, James Spader is Ultron, and Bradley Cooper is Rocket Raccoon, so if you were wondering if that David Lynch movie Mulholland Drive was right and our reality is actually the fantasies of a broken, middle-aged woman pleasurelessly masturbating before blowing her brains out… My money is on yes. Flick that bean forever, Naomi Watts, or we’re all dead men.
“DC Comics is still a fucked up and embarrassing shambles“– Episode “What’s the Roman Numeral for I Quit Counting.” In haw-haw news, somehow DC being a fucked-up embarrassing shambles came as a Big Surprise to JH Williams III who was too busy drawing red circles around punches or some shit, to be paying attention to what a fucking shambles he was working in this entire time. “How could that shit come as surprise to anybody?” asked a small blind Amish child who hadn’t really been paying close attention this entire time. But Williams and some other person (but we all only really care about Williams; who’s kidding who?) apparently couldn’t solve the Rubik’s Cube on that one and got caught with their pants down, committing the cardinal sin at DC of “trying to plan stories in advance.” How? How is that possible? Had one or both of them buried alive face down? Sound waves travel through the earth!
JH Williams III will probably be replaced by some random asshole off the street who wins a contest to see who can draw the best version of Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn quote “sitting naked in a bathtub” unquote.
Maybe this entire time, they did not even know they were working for DC, like in A Scanner Darkly. The Scanner Darkly Hypothesis is the best I can do. (It’s A Scanner Darkly inside of a Mullholland Drive, with a side of Ferris Bueller and/or Mean Girls. Hello. My television gets TNT. Jealous?)
Anyways, do you really still feel any sympathy for any of these people? At first when I watch a horror movie, I get pretty upset– “Why did the Irritated Fisherman kill the girl with the tits? She seemed nice,” I say. But then the kids keep wandering off on their own one by one all by themselves, just begging to get picked off, and Luke Wilson refuses to sell some shitty house full of boogens or even just go to a boogens-free hotel. At a certain point, everyone in a horror movie deserves the Irritated Fisherman. Unless they’re the Final Girl which JH Williams plainly was not– Final Girl wouldn’t be the one drawing the lesbian Womanversion-Batman comic.
DC’s Final Girl is whoever’s not having enough sex, which means…
You guys! I’m going to live forever!!
In conclusion: movies!
Tucker here. Let’s do some true confessions type shit. See, I tried to read the story in last week’s Batman Incorporated Special written by DC Comics Co-Publisher/Editor Dan DiDio, because I’d heard that it was about Batcow and that seemed like it had some train wreck potential, possibly on the same level of entertainment as his story from the DC Comics Christmas Special where Aquaman saved the baby Jesus from speedboat pirates. After all, that’s the only thing interesting DC does right now–embarrassing train wrecks. All of their superhero comics are terrible, mediocre stuff–Tim O’Neil has a spot-on explanation as to why–with the only tolerable spots being the books that are drawn well (there are two of those) or the few that are written in a style reminiscent enough of popular serialized television shows that your brain can stay engaged as it plows through the C-grade art. They’re still stupid, but so is a lot of entertainment, and while they’re usually ugly, that’s not that unique either. The rest of DC’s stuff is just impenetrable, a morass of miserable tedium. Reading that Batcow thing was like living on a block where somebody is walking a really sick dog that has diarrhea everyday, and every once in a while you happen to look at the window during the time when it’s splattering wet liquid all over the curb. Sure, it’s gross, but look at it: it’s an old, sick dog being cared for by the one person left who cares for it. It should totally be put out its misery, but that’s not really your place, is it? It’s not your dog and you don’t really care about it anyway and the only reason you’re reacting to it with anything crueler than pity is that you’re staring at it, and you don’t have to. Drawing this is what Ethan Van Sciver chose to do with his life. That’s on him. Reading it is on me.
But then this week, I figured I’d try again, this time with Forever Evil, which is the first big DC Event they’ve done since the last time they did one. It’s written by Geoff Johns, and he’s one of the guys at DC who can write something that’s readable, and it’s drawn by David Finch, and he’s one of the guys who can draw people in a way that you can tell whether you’re looking at a drawing of a woman or a man, although he still slips when its time to parse out a smile from a grimace. It’s not any less stupid than a story where a cow with too many lines on its face (it is Ethan Van Sciver after all) runs a carjacked minivan off the side of the road, but its watch-the-bad-guys-team-up plot is so cliched that it’s somehow less embarrassing. I don’t know if this is a bad comic or a good comic. I don’t think that it matters. It’s got such a narrow focus that even at its best it could only possibly excite a very specific audience, and that’s not even the point of it, anyway. Being interesting or entertaining isn’t in its priority base at all–it’s just supposed to exist so that it can be sold to a store so that they can sell it to a person. How many of these can Geoff Johns write?
Whatever the answer is, it’s more than I can read. And sure, maybe it’s just that I have a baby now? I can remember when I tried to make a long distance relationship with my college girlfriend work, how when we hit the point where we knew we didn’t want to do it anymore–she was in love with the UPS guy, I had finally moved somewhere that had Bob Fingerman comics–we kept trying anyway, out of spite towards our parents and friends who had told us that bicoastal relationships built on half-hearted phone sex don’t work. Is that what I’m doing now? Continuing down this road despite the mountain of evidence that says I no longer care because it seems so incredibly pedestrian to admit that I would rather spend those free hours touching her cheek and listening to her creepy laugh than reading something I have no feeling for? Am I still that bent on spite, and ego? People who cure cancer lay on their deathbed mourning the way they spent their free time. What excuse will I give for the way I’m spending mine? “I didn’t want to admit that I don’t really care”, I’ll croak, “So I kept trying to read Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers.”
You could make an argument that there used to be a battle to be fought, because comics were art and super-hero comics were the only comics of the day, and that it was up to Gary and Kim and Carter and the team to bust balls, chops and all the rest, because nobody cared or tried. You could make that argument, and you would have been right, and while all those “boom pow” blog posts may make Robert Crumb and Brian K. Vaughan fans bristle to their core… that time is gone, isn’t it? People buy a lot of Maus and Fun Home and they take that shit seriously without any cues, and meanwhile everybody who takes classes with Frank Santoro vomits in a bag when he mentions Jack Kirby and then people who play video games and make Adventure Time comics drink the vomit out of that very same bag just so they won’t have to listen to anybody talk about Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil. It’s over. Superhero comics don’t mean shit anymore and they never will again. Hell, if somebody is any good at making superhero comics, they (rightly) bail out as soon as they can so that they won’t end up the next corpse nailed to the exploitation cross. There’s no reason for them to stick to this as a career, and if you’re a fan of anything other than just “specific superhero characters,” there’s no reason for a reader to stick it out either. Even the physical product gets more poorly made every couple of months–DC is quietly switching over to the Marvel method of printing even the covers on that cheap-ass paper they use for the interior; at least, that’s what they’re doing when they aren’t pulling absurd cover gimmicks out of the asses of their Wizard-infested brain trust–while the page count lessens and the price goes up. There are people who will make arguments for digital distro, and yet all of those arguments fall apart when you realize that the main thrust of them is the belief that people would ever want to read these sorts of comics for any length of time beyond brief periods of binging, and everybody knows that isn’t true. Why would you read these things on the same device that will just as easily allow you to watch a superhero movie, made by the same giant corporation, but over in the division of that corporation where the employees are professional entertainment merchants? Choosing a DC or Marvel single issue over watching the shittiest X-Men movie is like choosing to take a bus for an hour to watch a 40-year-old orthodontist play softball when there’s a sports bar playing the Braves game one block away. That’s not to say that there aren’t times when a Pop Warner football game won’t majestically capture one of the most soul-stirring achievements of all time, it’s just acknowledging the reality that there are only two kinds of people who make superhero comics: people who would rather be doing something else, and people who can’t do anything else. Some of them will be good at it, one or two will probably even attain a moment of greatness at it. But when it comes to making shlock, cheap entertainment, they’re amateurs at best.
The images above come from the best superhero comic book I’ve read recently. It’s a comic book about a superhero meeting another superhero. They are tricked by the villain into doing battle, but eventually they realize the truth. They then team up and put the bad guy behind intergalactic bars. It’s drawn pretty well.
Eh. Who gives a fuck?