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Comics of the Weak Comics of the Weak

It’s Never Too Late To Break Your Own Fingers, Chief

So which one are we? The arrogant spy, laughing his way off to an expansive field of chocolate chip cookie puss? The oil-covered bird, still adorable as its cellular structure breaks down, its skin coated in an oxygen preventative shield, all its life changed in an instant to an existence of pure, unremitting suffering? Are we the dead guys, and the sound we make is the sound of the damned?

I can’t speak for you, but for my money, I vote for whatever gets me into the ground as fast as possible, dead as Dillinger, baking biscuits in Hell. But that might be because I already know what ABHAY KHOSLA IS GETTING READY TO TELL YOU ABOUT RIGHT NOW OH SNAP HERE HE IS WITH SOME COMIC BOOK NEWS YOU CAN USE:

The latest news in mainstream comics this week is that as it turns out, mainstream comics have shitty drawings, all the time. A nation reeled in shock, and indeed upon discovering this revelation, we drove our Chevy to the levee—but the levee was dry.

Most talked about was this teaser for the cover to Catwoman #0, which features Catwoman’s tits and ass erupting out at the reader like some kind of Skinemax xenomorph. (Note: the cover features other parts of Catwoman besides her tits and ass, but those are jammed in as afterthought such that the overall impression is that Catwoman’s titties went and grew themselves their own Kuato.) The cover raised eyebrows for many due to being severely fugly, though some might argue that by provoking the viewer into wondering, “Who was this shit made for, and at what age did their soul skid out of control?”, the cover successfully captures the essence of what it is to read a comic written by Judd Winick. They’re really terrible.

The cover triggered a backlash among a small group of comic creators, though apparently, a backlash to that backlash is now underway thanks to various other comic professionals on Twitter, upset that Guillem March’s shitty work (that he got paid for) is being MADE FUN of. Indeed, many agree: “Sometimes he can draw.” So. Comic fans, I guess, should feel better knowing that the Catwoman cover is not the result of artistic incompetence, but just reflective of the comics industry’s unrelenting cynicism and incessant willingness to target the lowest possible common denominator that the human imagination can conceive. It’s not that he can’t draw, everybody; DC just thinks you’re priapistic assholes whose buying decisions can be easily swayed by a parade of secondary sexual characteristics distended away from any humanity. He can draw fine, if he wanted to.  So… yaaaaaaay…?

Comic creators in 2012: Women cartoonists are being mean to us just because our drawings reflect a culture deeply oblivious to their existence as sentient human beings. Waaaah. If only the men working in comics could strike back somehow, like by creating an entire industry that knows only how to caters to the worst instincts of the worst members of the male gender. But…  that’s too crazy. Or is it just crazy enough to work? Cue theme music!

Meanwhile, thanks to the momentous and earth-shaking events of the Avengers vs. X-Men mega-crossover, Blog@Newsarama reports that Cyclops will now be wearing a “bright red thong” into battle with the Avengers.

Sure, sure.

For those of us only following the AvX crossover through internet news reports, this is extremely exciting news, because this is seemingly the first time anyone’s had anything to say about this crossover since it started. Other than that the story is really, really slow, and about how one issue of a comic about the Avengers fighting the X-Men somehow spent six-seven pages on an airplane crash, and that Jason Aaron’s script for his Avengers vs. X-Men:Vs story was one paragraph long (P.S. “Go fuck yourself, Alan Moore“!).

So… I guess we can add “Cyclops wears a red thong” to that list. All darned exciting stuff. Avengers vs. X-Men is famously being gang-written by a crack Marvel architecture team, meaning that Cyclops’s thong was presumably discussed by an entire boardroom teeming with people at some point, all of whom converged from different points throughout the country to a single boardroom, all to discuss Cyclops’s thong. What sort of titanic lingerie lies ahead in the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover? Will Hank Pym wear a seabreeze silk step-in trimmed with delicate lace and adjustable straps?

Only an entire boardroom of people knows for sure.  And maybe the MTV documentary crew that they had film them.

But it wasn’t all eyes rolling and “what the fuck is going on with these guys,” as comic critics celebrated the release of Watchmen 2: Minutemen, a comic some called “stunningly gorgeous.”

… I agree with stunning, so at least we’ve got that.

—————————————————————————————————

WELL FINE WHAT ABOUT THE COMIC BOOKS THEN HUH

Green Lantern #10
By Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Tom Ngueyn, Hi-Fi
Published by DC Comics

Although the conclusion to Green Lantern: The One With All The Prison Rape Implications failed, like all Green Lantern stories, to be memorable in any substantive way, it’s impossible to deny the brief moments of entertainment that could be had in flipping through each issue quickly and laughing hysterically at a few of its weirder panels taken totally out of context. Go ahead. Try to deny it. You can’t! It’s the best thing ever! There was that one where the little kid was a suicide bomber, there were all the prison rape jokes about Sinestro (he’s the one who looks like a dark pink Errol Flynn) being “violated” or the part where the aboriginal Smurf character turned everybody into serial killers, and all of this stuff is still taking place in a universe where everybody has a different colored wishing ring that’s tied into a different emotion. In this issue, a guy jumps off a cliff to escape a wishing ring that will make him hopeful … but also lobotomize him forever. And he fucking dies, this dude, because he’s just a dude in hardcore gimp bondage gear (seriously!), and leather doesn’t save you when you jump off a cliff and bust open your body on the rocks below. But hey, don’t worry, gimpy! You get to come back to life and wear the dead people’s ring, because that exists, and now Green Lantern can have an archenemy again (his previous archenemy is the Sinestro character, but they now live as bros), which certainly bodes way well for our trainspotting future, because think about it: Green Lantern’s archenemy is an undead leatherback geek who killed his family and sleeps in open graves. And now he can FLY.

Dancer #2
By Nathan Edmondson & Nic Klein
Published by Image Comics

Does anybody remember those demo files that used to come with Microsoft Office or Windows or something? Fake stationary and fake letters and fake databases about a hot air balloon company–you’d read it and use the example to figure out how to do your own shitty business with your very own Excel spreadsheets? Or Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing—that also had fake business shit. Well, that’s what Dancer reads like, like it’s the script that you’d find in a screenwriting program, the example you would read so you’d know which parts of a screenplay get indented, and when its the right time to bust out some brackets. The previous issue’s big shocking final-page reveal was that the ex-hitman lead was being hunted by a dude who looked exactly like him, albeit younger. Does that get people excited? Are you excited right now? Are you upset that the last page of the previous issue of this comic was spoiled for you? Is that how spoilers work, or does somebody have to come to your house and do it while you’re raising your children and living your life? The title Dancer will probably end up being referenced in some corny monologue where a character (probably the guy’s angry girlfriend, who actually IS a dancer) compares the art of dance to the art of survival, how one moves across the stage constantly fluctuating between a state of evade & embrace much like one moves through life, evading and embracing certain relationships, and while she’d like to move away from this one because it turns out that the old man she’s fucking–oh yeah, it’s a May/December thing, the second most popular type of male/female relationship, just knocking around being number one, which is the type where the girl goes away except for when the guy needs a blowie–it turns out she’s embraced him too long, and now they’re twirling, twirling until the music stops. How much do you want to bet this comic will feature some panels that follow some blood as it seeps toward a drain, with little text boxes describing what it is like to be a hitman, how it’s like being a mailman, or a boxer, or a brush of thin air that shakes the barley?

Planetoid #1
By Ken Garing
Published by Image Comics

There’s something altogether charming about Planetoid. Partly it’s the fact that everything, including the lettering, comes from just one guy, but it’s mostly that the comic is such a simple, direct thing–it’s just a space pirate who gets stuck on a planet covered in robotic aggression, and he has a powerful gun that his talking computer doesn’t understand. There’s a bunch of blunt, 1-leads-to-2 transitions—dude lands, dude squats, dude throws his helmet on the ground, dude walks forward—and the end of the comic is exposition 101, with a character openly saying, “What’s your story?”, which leads to our taciturn lead describing the entirety of his life, which amounts to, “I used to be in the army, but now I’m a pirate.” Whenever the future gets around to building a decent robot, this is the sort of thing it is going to read for pleasure.

Untold Tales of the Punisher MAX #1
By Jason Starr, Roland Boschi, Dan Brown
Published by Marvel Comics

There’s about 800 of these types of things, and 800 more on the horizon, so let’s boil it down and then never speak of it again: you took the money to write a Punisher story, but you don’t have an idea for a Punisher story. So what you do is you tell a crime story, and the crime story is essentially the sort of thing you’d find in an EC Comic, and you tell it like they would without the great, history-changing artists, and at the end, you have the Punisher show up and kill your main character. There’s a million of these fucking things. They’re terrible Punisher stories, but hey, so what, who cares? The Punisher got turned into an angel once, they published these goofass stories where he dyed his skin black, they tried making him a woman, he has to be in Spider-Man comics so that Spider-Man fans can pretend that they aren’t fans of the biggest piece of shit pansy ass freakshow on the planet, Boo Hoo My Unkie Ben, If Only I Wasn’t Such A Candy Ass Baby My Aunt May Would Have A Hot Schlong To Stick In Her Armpit. So yeah, Punisher can handle a shitty story or two, or two thousand, or however many it is going to take before Marvel can no longer turn a profit off such blatant regurgitation. Which is probably never.

2000AD #1782-3
By British People
Published by Rebellion

These two issues are basically the same–a good Judge Dredd story, a weird, terrible thing about time travel and dinosaurs, a mediocre one-shot, some seemingly unfinished Judge Anderson stuff, and Brendan McCarthy blowing way past the pay grade. It’s weird to admit something would have been better if it had included a not-very-good story about a space marine SWAT team leader with a crush on his subordinate, or an even-less-very-good story about a pretty girl in a sweatshirt who overkills werewolves and scowls constantly, but…yeah. Nobody would’ve kicked those out of bed if they had came a-knocking around page 16.

*LET’S GET OUR OLD MAN PANTS ON RIGHT ABOUT NOW, FUNK SOUL BROTHER CHECK IT OUT NOW WHOOP THERE IT IS

Thriller #1
By Robert Loren Fleming, Trevor Von Eeden, Ziuko
Published by DC Comics, 1983

This is one of the weirdest comics I’ve read recently, and I keep up with Austin English. Some credit for that weirdness has to go to the fact that it arrives bearing the branding of the least weird comic books of all time: DC Comics. (Okay, there’s a great–and obvious–argument to be made that regular, meat and potatoes DC Comics are some of the weirdest things in pop culture, try explaining the convolutions of the Justice Society to somebody and you’ll quickly see why stuff like Twilight or True Blood–things that can be simplified to “young vampires dating” and “adult vampires fucking”–has millions of unconfused fans. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s agree that the popular fiction, where DC is the straight-laced, “establishment” version of super-heroes, still applies, if only because a whole bunch of people seem pretty invested in pretending that fiction is true, even when even the most surface assessment can see that it clearly isn’t true.) Thriller on the other hand? This is weird by every ruler you have to measure it with. The first issue includes some of the stereotypical concerns of the ’80s—the terror of unknown religious zealots probably stemming from all those hours the big creative babies of the time used to spend in line at gas stations, a fetish for war journalists (two items which were also a big part of Doonesbury story arcs at the time, I believe)—but that barely cracks the surface of all the shit that’s in here. Those are just two smokescreens that’ll fool you into thinking you’re in for something you recognize, when the truth is that you probably weren’t. And yet, the ultimate draw–the reason why this comic remains one spoken of highly still–is Trevor Von Eden’s brilliant, impossible art, a thing that survives the fact that Thriller never really got to go anywhere, or end. There isn’t a page in here that isn’t a marvel to look at, and long before the story began its blind, loose stagger away from the commonplace, one might even find themselves abandoning any attempt to read it–as well they should! There’s just too much here to get lost in, too many unconventional pages and too many unreal layouts, it’s just too, much, too much. A lovely, unstoppable comic.

Cerebus #16
By Dave Sim
Published by Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1980

This issue includes Dave Sim getting worked up in the letters column about Ronald Reagan earning the Republican presidential nomination and a plug for a distributor’s final copies of the first five issues of Cerebus, of which only 2000 copies were printed. The story is about a ball where a bunch of assassins show up to murder the Julius character, and Cerebus successfully fends them off with a similar trick to the one that Bruce Wayne uses in that first Christopher Nolan movie to get all the people out before Liam Neeson burns his house down. There’s also a lot of cross-hatching. Sometimes you look at cross-hatching and wonder if the person responsible only got into comics to cover for the fact that they were into compulsively drawing intricate lines over and over again, and this is pretty much the only place you get to do that outside of when architects add a little flair to a blueprint. But then you realize that’s a stupid thing to think, it’s not funny or mean or even interesting, you’re just an asshole for bringing it up, the same way your mother is being sort of an asshole for not calling you back even though you left really explicit details on when you were going to be available, and fuck it, it’s a 32-year-old Cerebus comic, why not just pad things out with a reference to how the guy feels about women, even if you’ve never actually read any of that stuff and honestly don’t care about it anyway, because it ain’t like he just sent in his resume for babysitting detail? But that’s what everybody wants when you bring up a Sim comic anyway, it’s what they’re waiting for the entire time. It’s like that thing Chekhov always said about the gun, that if you show a gun in the first arc, then you should spend intermission using that gun to murder everybody in the audience, because really, anyone with the gall to even show up for live theater at this point is pretty much openly admitting that they think they’re better than you, that they think you’re stupid for watching the Avengers movie and thinking that maybe contemporary porn has started going too far too often, and I’ll bet you haven’t even read the new Bechdel book yet, you sanctimonious Void-worshipping cretin, you’ll never understand how professional wrestling really works, classic professional wrestling, the kind that had real characters and real people, and also real struggles. Cerebus!


32 Responses to It’s Never Too Late To Break Your Own Fingers, Chief

  1. eric orchard says:

    Just to clarify, on that Twitter stream you posted where I said the mocking drawings were unnecessary, I went on to say they weren’t necessary because it was a terrible drawing that couldn’t be made worse or satisfyingly mocked through satire. Just wanted to add some context there….

    And I do feel a bit bad for the artist. This whole thing reminds me of scary/mortifying crits in art school. I pointed out on Twitter the editor should’ve vetoed this drawing.

  2. Joe McCulloch says:

    Here’s how real wrestling is done, Tucker; you’re welcome in advance.

  3. Mikael says:

    Oh look. Tucker’s being all snarky about mainstream comics again. Yaaaaawwwnnn

  4. Good god, Brendan McCarthy. I love that you can recognize it’s him as soon as you see the coloring of the top quarter inch of the page.

  5. I love that the problem with that Catwoman cover isn’t the terrible art or the endemic horrors of how women are portrayed in cape comics, but that people were being mean to an artist who was just trying his best, and why can’t we all get along, because professionals shouldn’t dig on each other, because what if I’m next?

    It’s a nice way to reframe the conversation.

    Doug Mahnke makes everything look good, geez.

  6. LLJ says:

    Normally I’m not a fan of snark in general, but this column seems to come out at the right time of the week to make me receptive to it. It’s Friday, I’m all tired and pissed off, so reading Tucker dumping on stuff is somehow cathartic.

  7. Andy Smart says:

    The other backlash to the backlash over Guillem March’s shitty Catwoman cover is that it’s distracting from the real issue of Rob Liefeld’s shitty Grifter cover.

  8. Red Scharlach says:

    Lucky for us, you’re here to buck the trend.

  9. Pat says:

    and here’s a tweet stuck right in the middle of that conversation:
    “in rest of publishing world editors seem more aware of gender & race issues”

    guess how many people in the conversation actually bothered to acknowledge that point?

    (HINT: it’s less than 1!)

  10. caleb says:

    I’m pretty sure that DC quit editing all of their books around 2001 or so, and they redefined the job title “editor” to simply mean “co-plotter.”

    I feel strange about the response to the Catwoman cover because, on the one hand, Guillem March is a very talented artist who produced a wretched drawing (and his Star Sapphire on the GL: New Guardians cover is much, much, much worse than his Catwoman) rather than a wretched artist who is ALWAYS producing wretched work . On the other hand, it’s heartening to see other professional artists making fun of one of their peers for a job poorly done, and calling out bad art as bad art. I’m just confused as to wear all these folks are month in and month out when Ed Benes, Rob Liefeld (or is he exempt on account of being Rob Liefeld), Tony Daniel, David Finch and all these other scrubs are producing THEIR shitty covers and comics for DC…

  11. bkmunn says:

    Cerebus!

    What most voidoids don’t realize is that that Catwoman cover totally passes the Bechdel test because Catwoman’s ass is totally talking to her tits about her face.

  12. Dustin says:

    Ha, I laughed. Can’t help but approve of jokes that reference Dave Sim, Alison Bechdel and Catwoman at once.

  13. Briany Najar says:

    CatWoman looks like one of those models of chemical compounds made of intersecting balls to represent each element. Someone, for a laugh, drew a face on one part and smeared the whole thing with grey latex.

    Anagram: AtomWanc.

    Or, maybe it’s a lovely tribute to Hans Bellmer?

  14. TimR says:

    Tony Daniel? David Finch? From my glancing familiarity, those two seem like some of the more interesting artists I’ve seen at the big 2. What have you got against them?

  15. Pat says:

    really? daniel? finch… i could at least see where you’re coming from, but daniel?

  16. caleb says:

    They’re terrible.

  17. Tucker Stone says:

    Finch can fall into doing something interesting every once in a while, but not often enough to make him worth paying attention to.

    Daniel’s work, on the other hand, has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

  18. Jesse Post says:

    Also, I love that the defense to criticisms of the art is, “He’s a nice guy.” Who criticized his niceness?

  19. DanielJoseMata says:

    Its being said because people went on his blog and brutalized him. Just because the drawing is terribly weird, he shouldn’t be vilified and wished for dead. I feel pretty bad for the guy just trying to make a buck by giving what the company wants. This whole PC brouhaha is very dispiriting.

  20. Nate A. says:

    You’re right, it’s a reflection of how uptight we’ve become as a society that we expect comic book artists to draw with a modicum of competence. Dispiriting indeed.

  21. DanielJoseMata says:

    Criticism is one thing, vilification is another.

  22. tucker stone says:

    Nah, the phrase “he’s a nice guy” is the go-to thing everybody says nowadays. It nosed out “could you do better” a while back. This time, it just happened to dovetail with some nasty personal shit. It would have been said a thousand times anyway.

  23. Jayhawh says:

    How come you used a page from Prophet for the Planetoid review?

    WAIT…………………….. WAIT A GOSH DARN SECOND

  24. Jon Hastings says:

    What I don’t get is if that is the cover for Catwoman #0 why is there a big #1 in the upper left corner? Isn’t anyone else bugged by that?

  25. Mateor says:

    Ohsnap. Good one.

    Yes, continue with the Cerebus, please.

    I would love to hear your thought abut the good ones.

    (Hint: All of them!).

    I also highly approve of the idea of a comic script IDE. Quesada brought up Jason Aaron’s scripts are one paragraph? In public? And he wasn’t mad?

    I wonder how it felt signing the check for that one. No wonder these guys toe the company line. That’s free money!

  26. Andy Smart says:

    The concept behind the #0 covers is that the title character is jumping through a bad photo-copy of their first issue. Hence weird details like the #1 or names of creative teams who are no longer working on the titles.

  27. Jon Hastings says:

    Thanks for the answer (even though thinking about it hurts my brain more than looking at that Catwoman drawing does).

  28. Frank VanderShoot says:

    I came away feeling like there was a joke I missed.

  29. Frank VanderShoot says:

    I mean, that . . . can that be correct? That this happened?

  30. Frank VanderShoot says:

    Catwoman #0 is sort of an OMAC tribute? Like if Jack Kirby lived backward in time and sought to deconstruct 2012 in 1974.

  31. Frank VanderShoot says:

    I knew I was dreaming as I read this column, and I thought, this is is the best Prophet I can come up with? BUT I DIDN’T WAKE UP.

  32. Pingback: When Falls the Coliseum » Graphic Novel Review: Pandemonium & Whispers in the Walls

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