Arrrr, I Am A Comic Book Writer and This Bed Is A Pirate Ship

Hey ya'll, Nate Bulmer did an Inkstuds interview, so go and give that a spin if you're so inclined. Also: our boy is doing comics everyday like a fucking champion, so don't skimp on the clicks if you are a person whose life needs more chuckles. Also, I saw this and it made me laugh for many minutes. Look!

Apologies for the lateness of this week's column--as some of you may know, I really, really didn't feel like it until I did, so here it is now. Ahem.


2013 came in with a welcome dose of clarity for a change, as Bobbie Chase and Jim Lee puppet Bob Harras launched B&B at Comic Book Resources, a new Q&A column about DC comics in this exciting new year.

So, what's DC's exciting strategy for 2013?

If I understood their answer correctly: DC operates on a daily workflow whose ongoing daily mission is to weave and interweave into its post-New 52 creative churn a game-changing new mantra of defining themes worth exploring. For example, "Bad guys: in the New 52, are they the opposite of good guys?" Through mantras about daily ongoing concerns which are daily, DC has been able in the New 52 to weave out of the creative churn of the New 52 a series of exciting new writers, fantastic writers, amazing writers with game-changing ideas about the New 52, unbelievably talented writers who have already been fired, months ago, they never had a chance really, not in the New 52, not anywhere, they're not going to be let anywhere near sharp objects let alone DC books, but luckily Jeff Lemire will just write whatever-- and hey, it sounds challenging, but that's what makes the New 52 a creative churn instead of a creative ... (Oh Shit! Note to self: "What is the opposite of churn? Can Opposite-of-Churn be a bad guy for Batman?").

It's what makes those mantras not just a challenge but also an ongoing conversation. P.S. New 52. Also: New 52. In addition: New 52!

At least, that was their answer to the first question. Then, things got confusing.

Basically, they tried to explain who and/or what was writing various DC comics, various comics none of us will ever even see, that will be these indistinguishable blurbs of color sitting on a wall for a month, drowned out by other indistinguishable blurbs of color that we walk by to get to the part of the store where they keep the Cherry Poptart back issues, back behind the curtain, where the winners go...

So: there are all these books, and people thought that they knew who were writing those books because the people writing those books had said, "Hello, I am the person writing those books." But that was only because those people were assholes who didn't know better?

And we're not even 100% sure what their names are because there's one guy that they just keep calling "Jim Zub" --? Where'd the rest of his last name go? His last name is vaguely ethnic sounding and as it turns out, we're all Nightclub Managers from the 1950s all of the sudden. "What are you, an eye-talian?  In the Copa Cabana, your name is Pat Stevens or else we're going to have words." Why can't people copy-paste his last name? Is he the guy who gets strangled in the car at the end of Godfather?

Anyways: Glen or Glenda announce that Johnny Fontane over here is off some comic about Black Canary or whatever, and he's been replaced by Jeff Lemire, who as far as I can tell is perpetually replacing someone at DC; the only time I ever really hear his name is in the phrase "the new writer will be Jeff Lemire"; everyone at DC Comics is just in the perpetual state of being the Eric Stoltz to his Michael J. Fox.

Except then maybe he's not on it or nobody knows who's on it because creative churn, fog of war, sweet mystery of life, satellite of love, which means that the new creative team is...

Carry the one... divide by the coefficient of the denominator of the daily ongoing mantra... hold on-- take the derivative of tangent-- I think that's secant squared, which means... Which means... If my math is correct...


You are now the new writer of Black Canary!

It's an exciting opportunity for you, but let's keep in mind our ongoing conversation of the weavings of the mantras of the New 52: you will have to have Black Canary fight whatever the opposite of a Black Canary is. What is the opposite of a Black Canary? You can't just say White Gopher; Jeff Lemire has White Gopher fighting Brown Gopher in Justice League Dark; White Gopher is already spoken for. What is the opposite of a Black Canary philosophically? That's right-- let that question blow your mind! Blow it to smithereens! Can you hold the opposite of a Black Canary in your hand, grasshopper? Old pond... frog jumps in-- splash!

Please hurry because your first script is already late, which-- but look, you're extremely talented, and handsome, and your genitalia are either large or tight, whichever is the more complimentary adjective for your gender and/or lifestyle. And I'm sure you already have a lot of great ideas but unfortunately, I regret to inform you that you are no longer writing Black Canary.

It's not going to work out-- we're going in a different direction, which is the direction that is opposite from you, running backwards, while pointing at you and cackling; however, we're sure you will continue to be discreet and generous in how you describe your experience because otherwise you will never ever work in comics ever again and we will eat your babies. We will cook your babies in a pot that we dip into the creative churn, the creative churn is made out of a fire that is hot enough to cook babies yet weirdly cool to the touch at the same time, which defies science, but is also why we fear it. And then eat all of your babies, feet-to-head.

Don't worry about Black Canary-- it is now being written by Jeff Lemire again after all, who we think is going to co-write with two minor league pitchers from the Dominican Republic to be named later.

That's right: you just got Lemire'd!

Also, please change your name to Johnny Preston, Jr. This is a quality establishment.


That was pleasant. It's REVIEW TIME now.

Daredevil #211-212
By David Mazzuchelli & Denny O'Neil, Danny Bulanadi, Pat Redding, Christie Scheele, George Roussos
Published by Marvel, 1984
I thought I'd read all the Micah Synn issues of Daredevil, but I keep finding more. In these two issues, the general schematic is that there's some solid draftsmanship from David Mazzuchelli occasionally interrupted by some shitty dialog. The problem with this story, besides its length, is that it's just an idiotic plot, and its impossible for the characters in the story to behave in any way that's not idiotic. Reading this, you realize why Mazz went so deep into alt when he got out: he's clearly working hard and challenging himself, but its in the service of something with no redeeming quality whatsoever, because it can't even entertain a reader well enough to distract them from the numbing desolation that is contemporary life, and that, at the end of the day, is the primary job of the superhero comic. (That being said, the decision to make Doc Hollywood into an overwrought tri-color graphic novel seems like he was trying just a little too hard.)

Path of the Assassin #15
By Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima
Published by Dark Horse, 1972 in Japanese, 2009 in English

This is the final volume of Path of the Assassin, and while parts of it read like a conclusion, like the part where a main character has his wife murdered, other sections read like they could be the opening of a new narrative, until one reaches the final page and realizes that no, that was it, the one guy just decided to rape his buddy's sister with the old "ask her for one of her pubic hairs, and when she is plucking it, attack her at that moment of weakness/generosity," and that's the end of that subplot. I don't mean to single out that one rape scene over the other rape scenes, I know your supposed to let the reader pick their favorite. That one just seemed notable, because it ended with the guy pointing out that he didn't have a choice, he had to rape the lady, that was the quickest way to make her love him. While it may have been a fact of life in Japan during the time period the story is set, rape is a well that this series went to over and over again, and while Kojima was able to separate the consensual sex in such a way that the visuals of the sexual assaults are primarily disturbing (as opposed to the more complex erotic scenes he was tasked with presenting at other times, like the one above), the rest of Path of the Assassin is a pretty talky book, and that's a difficult switch to constantly make, and a supremely irritating one to boot.

Copra #3
By Michel Fiffe
Published by Copra Press
Delivering on the promise of Deathzone!, this issue of Copra sees Michel Fiffe's analog of Count Vertigo joining a squad that already includes Amanda Waller and The Punisher, and the final three pages handle the introduction of Lloyd ... well. A guy named Lloyd. You know who that is. I thought I was alone in second and third guessing my massive enjoyment of Copra, questioning if I felt so strongly about this comic because it encapsulated the belligerence of self-publishing without a whiff of that field's hilariously undeserved pretension, until I remembered that Chuck Forsman and the Johnny Wander squad had been regularly pulling that shit off for a while as well. Whatever it is though, I've heard about it from more than my own mouth at this point: this comic is doing so good it'll confuse you into having feelings again. Remember feelings?

Batman #16
By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo & Jonathan Glapion
Published by DC Comics 

Here's another installment in Scott Snyder's "Death of the Family" story arc, drawn by a rushed Greg Capullo, who nonetheless gets to draw a horse on fire, which is very Russian film-y of him. I don't have much to say about this comic myself--it's competently put together popular horseshit, and I never know from issue to issue whether I'll be able to make it through a whole story. It's like reading a Batman comic book that came with Insane Clown Posse tickets. Everything's all set up so that it seems like the real deal, but it's actually just a pudgy dude in cargo shorts who paints his face and secretly goes to church. If Scott Snyder told some interviewer that his favorite movie was Species, or that he really liked listening to Audioslave's first album--none of that would be surprising. I'm done giving this guy a shot, and I'm also done trying to figure out why it is y'all like him in the first place. Capullo can be interesting at times, but these comics are nothing more than a dictatorship of mediocrity, and it's disappointing to continually see the keys to DC's biggest kingdom handed off to a guy whose only reference points seem to be the things that excited him in high school, and whose primary achievement seems to be the ability to convince the world that trying is a skill deserving of acclaim. This is swimming in a bathtub, and there shouldn't be paychecks associated with that.

Daredevil #22
By Mark Waid, Chris Samnee and Javier Rodriguez
Published by Marvel Comics 

A nice bright spot after a tough series of misfires, this issue of Daredevil sees the character teamed up with Spider-Ock, which is the term I'm using regardless of how much it might irritate you. Due to a small publishing snafu, Daredevil #21 turned out to be one of the first appearances of the character (who is Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man's body, possessed with the knowledge of the Great Responsibility slogan that has dictated Spider comics for so long that we no longer quite remember what it means, or that Uncle Ben straight up stole that shit from Jesus Christ), and in today's new speculator market--ably created by Marvel & DC executives in a totally self-preservational move to cover their salaries--a fuck-up first appearance of a for-right-now controversial character is the hottest of fool's gold. That bullshit aside, Waid's take on Spider-Ock is legitimately funny, and he's well partnered with Chris Samnee, who manages to drop a couple of Fred Hembeck style lines in here that'll have you looking for those weird squiggles on the elbows. While the conclusion is embarrassing--cancer, guys?--this is still a pleasant, pretty, super-hero comic.

The Comics Journal #88 

Most of this issue is built around transcriptions of what seems like the dumbest possible panels ever, except for maybe every panel since then: these panels were about whether or not comics should be labeled to reflect their content. The discussion--if you can call it that, and you really shouldn't--consistently devolved into ignoring the actual discussion and instead rambling on about meaningless, non-existent arguments with imaginary foes. Groth is on both panels, and while he comes across as the smartest guy in the room (and very well may have been) this is more because he sticks to the actual questions he's asked instead of going off into some fantasy war with the hordes of Censor Loving Dream Haters that threatened to steal comics away from the maligned fans who (based off the transcript) have never allowed a meaningless platitude to cross their aural landscape without drowning it in applause and huzzahs. Based off the audience response alone, you were allowed to root for censorship: the only adult content those dumb fucks deserved was a cinder block to the genitals.

The High Way #1
By John Byrne & Leonard O'Grady
Published by Image Comics

Let's pull back the curtain a bit: do you remember Cold War? I'll continue as if you said no. Cold War was this espionage comic by John Byrne, more Le Carré than 24 in its inspiration. It was terrible, terrible comics, and it was the kind of terrible that you can't keep to yourself, which is why I first found out about when I received an out of the blue demand that I "take a look at this motherfucker", to which I of course did. Cold War then proceeded to break this column for a week, actually, there was a period of time where the idea of remarking on a comic seemed a waste of effort, because if it wasn't going to be about Cold War's first issue, then what was the point? Meanwhile, Byrne did what Byrne does, and Cold War continued to arrive, and finally I just accepted that Byrne won, and that Google Doc I had going on Cold War's first issue--which recently cleared 10,000 words, with no end in sight--became a personal obsession, and possibly the beginning of a very bad novel about the time James Bond had sex with a female-shaped goblin man who lives in an old timey British war hospital. (That's what happened at the beginning of Cold War.)
This time around, if I'm being honest, he's pretty much won again. We can throw up the panel for the comic where the main character uses the space toilet to make a post-sex dumplestiltskin, we could talk about how impressive it is that Byrne is able to portray a character as an ex-leprechaun without giving him a cheesy accent, or we could be really unfair and go to that psychotic message board he has and cull some out-of-context crazy, but the truth is that The High Way is a John Byrne comic published by IDW about some space trucker types who end up at a space station where shit is on its way towards "awry," and all of its faults (being populated by stock characters, being predictable, looking like John Byrne drew it) are also all things that anybody older than 4 would have assumed were going to be present as soon as the phrase "a John Byrne comic published by IDW" arrived. This is what you think it's going to be. Let's take a close-up look at dumplestiltskin and call it a day.

He looks so happy. Maybe it's a genital-sized hand-mouth, and maybe it's warm.