The big news this week in comics is, of course, not in comics at all, but in your local movie theater, where a Batman movie is at this very moment on track to make more money than the comic book version of Bruce Wayne has spent over the course of the last seven decades worth of stories. And as with all things in popular culture, we can look to the widespread success of the Batman film and remember the words of the old Confederate churchman who said "whatever is universal is natural," and while we'll probably cringe internally a little bit (as he was talking about slavery, which at the time was totes "universal") we won't be able to cringe for long, because that's the truth of comics today: if it's popular, it's correct, and those who disagree are haters, and we'll level threats of death and bodily harm upon their heads the same way they did against abolitionists. Perspective--the kind of perspective that will prevent someone from overreacting to a stranger's opposing reaction to an incredibly successful piece of corporate produced entertainment that is in no danger of disappearing in your lifetime, the kind of perspective that will keep you sane. I, personally, cannot honestly admit to possessing this perspective, as evidenced by my near-death experience not but two nights past, wherein I looked directly at a red light and confusedly said to myself "red light means keep going" and was only saved from the wheels of an oncoming vehicle because of a combination of their extraordinary instincts and an excellently tuned set of brakes and not in the least by my own dumbfounded, wide-eyed "what have I done" momentary incapacitation. Upon said feeling's departure, an I could've been killed alarm replaced the I hate that bastardrefrain that had been playing so loudly in my interior pathways that I had just misunderstand that most traditional of traffic signals, a firm example of the exact obsession that I'm so quick to deride in others, mine being wrapped up in the personal flavor of a very specific comics curmudgeon who had let fly with some insidious personal remarks regarding my oh-so-hateable-guts a scant 17 months ago--that kind of perspective is for the binge drinking fratboys that Nathan Bulmer describes above.
This week's column is a joint production from Abhay Khosla and Tucker Stone. Spot the seams, win yourself a tender kiss.
BREAKING COMIC-CON NEWS! Comic publishers will publish more issues of some old comic or another.
FILM BUZZ! Fans at this year's San Diego Comic-Con went crazy-loco at a sneak peek of a movie that will be in theaters in about two months. "I stayed up all night and was nearly stabbed to death by CHUDs while huddled on the street, but from now until this is movie is On Demand in three weeks, I will be better than the entire rest of the human population," said someone sad, out loud, while people around him got creeped out by the guy in a stained Dinosaucer t-shirt talking to himself.
"These are the people who we're doing it for," said some actor from a pile of models and cocaine, referring to human refuse lying on a street.
The Savage Hawkman #10
By Rob Liefeld, Mark Poulton, Joe Bennett, Art Thibert & Jason Wright
Published by DC Comics
The front of this comic has the phrases “Backed Into A Corner!” and “Thirsty for BLOOD” on its cover, along with a drawing of Hawkman’s snarling face and the image of his foe reflected in his helmet. The inside of the comic features Hawkman delivering a monologue about the history of gladiatorial combat as he fights in an abandoned hockey rink (and apparently kills at least two opponents). For some reason, even though he’s Hawkman, he doesn’t fly out of the hockey rink. You probably have no idea who Hawkman is. He’s what he sounds like--a dude who flies. He’s not the most well liked character in the world. He's usually portrayed as having a serious temper, sometimes as being stand-offish and upper crusty. He’s always very violent, but unlike the Punisher or Batman, he’s violent for no immediately apparent reasons. He doesn’t seem crazy, either, which would also make him fun. He’s just violent and angry in a really depressing way. There is a weirdly perfect comic called Hawkworld about the character that came out in the '80s, but almost everything that was awesome about it--the artist, the setting, the general tone--went out the window almost immediately, and it became a horrible fish out of water story that looked like it had been drawn by robots imitating human beings, generic plastic people in a grey, emotionless urban environment. This issue is neither as bad as those comics were, nor as good as their predecessor.
BREAKING COMIC-CON NEWS! Someone famous will be writing a comic, with the help of someone no one has ever heard of, who will actually be writing the comic.
Snake Oil 7
By Chuck Forsman
Published by Retrofit
This is another comic about disaffected youth from a well liked young cartoonist who seems to be undergoing a qualitative leap in skill. Its only major failing--that one of its main characters looks like he’s about 30 years too old to be in high school--actually ends up working as an unexpected strength, making the comic weirder than its romantic triangle/”drugs are a helluva thing” might otherwise be. Alongside Ted May’s Injury #4, it looks like the new genre alternative comics is going after is teenage angst, and more power to ‘em if that’s the case. Or even if it's not the case.
I don't know what this fan's costume is about-- I think it's from a Japanese cartoon, but I don't know all of those. Still, you have to admire the courage.
Try to keep your hands off yourselves if you're at work, fellas! Hello, somebody has Daddy Issues-- and that's one Dad I want to thank! Thank him for neglecting his daughter emotionally so that she ends up in a sexy melancholy. If I can quote Tim Allen, "RAWRF, RAWR RAR RARR." Here's my impression of Michael Winslow reacting to that photo: "ZERP ZLERPY ZLUUURRP WEEWAAAOOO." The boners reading this know what I'm talking about, amirite? The boners and Michael Winslow.
BREAKING NEWS: Unlike last year, there was no interruption of San Diego news coverage due to the massacre of multiple children at the hands of a Norwegian maniac, which unfortunately also meant there were no new examples of how completely out of their minds the people at certain fucking websites get when you stop retweeting links to their articles about what the guy from the original Battlestar Galactica thinks of Eric Stoltz because there's something actually happening in the real world.
Secret Service #3
By Mark Millar, Matthew Vaughn, Andy Lanning, Angus McKie
Published by Icon
So this is one that might become a movie? The guy who is listed as co-plotter, Matthew Vaughn, made the movies Layer Cake, Kick-Ass, Stardust, and X-Men First Class. Most of the stuff in Secret Service already reads like parts of a movie--the comic opens with one of those big speeches you never pay complete attention to because you’ve seen enough action movies to know that you don’t really need to have any of the information, because the movie isn’t really about that--and then there’s a bunch of jokes that you can tell will work great if they are intercut really quckly with the actual things they describe while the jokes continue in voice-over. Here, it looks like this:
It doesn’t work that well, because it's not that funny. But if they do it really quick and punchy, with three or four similar gags, it will work, and that's why it happens in movies all the time. Anyway, this comic has a bunch of movie type scenes, and all of the scenes would work way better if they were being delivered via the medium they’re best designed for, especially the part at the end, where it is revealed that the overly sensitive main character has overheard the two characters talking shit about how stupid he (the overly sensitive main character) is. It doesn't matter that in terms of current events, the meaning of words, class, decorum, and etc., that they are absolutely correct regarding the main character’s shortcomings: he is, in those regards, very stupid. That's not the point. The point is that scene is a classic romantic comedy humiliation moment, it’s straight out of the Legally Blonde movies, and basically, Secret Service is going for that same Legally Blonde arc, except its main characters are badass James Bond/Jason Bourne types and not the Legally Blonde lady. If this weren’t a comic, it would probably be a total success. But it is, and right not, it's a great advertisement for watching a movie instead.
BREAKING COMIC-CON NEWS! The cast of a cancelled television show reunited, and reminded excited fans how all of the funny, clever things they said on that show were written by other people, not in attendance.
Probably published by the people who made them
This is a free comic printed on newsprint, made up of a bunch of different kinds of comics on each page. Some are by people who have been around for a while, but I believe most of them were made by people who are pretty early in their careers, although that doesn’t necessarily show in their work and isn’t meant to be a criticism. You would laugh at some of it, ignore some of it, and I doubt you would hate any of it. Some of it--like the one that contains the drawing above--you'll look at and wonder if the person responsible is capable of keeping that maniacal detail up for a longer narrative, because if they are, that could really be something.
DUCK SEASON? AWARD SEASON! Who will ever forget who won this year's Eisner Awards? "Now I get to put a little cardboard sign on my flea market table at the Con that says Eisner Winner," said some now-immortal cartoonist, whose admission into Valhalla has now become a certainty. The words "Eisner Winner" will be perfectly lettered in Magic Marker thanks to skills the cartoonist spent years indoors perfecting, by themselves, hunched over a drawing table, far from sunlight. Congratulations, winners!
By Trevor Von Eeden, Tom Ziuko, Robert Loren Fleming
Published by DC Comics, 1984
Since Thriller didn't "work" in the sense of getting to finish its story or getting its creators the respect they deserve, it's probably unseemly to overly praise the way it waited until the 3rd issue's letters column to explain the series pitch and make clear who all the main characters are, but you can't be too much of a rules man when you're briefly explaining a comic book from 1984. And besides, it is intoxicating the way Thriller did everything it did, right down to the choices it made that might not have been the best ones. Every story features people stripped of parts of themselves--holes in hands, fractured skin, missing faces--while every plot sees them moving faster than safety would dictate. The choice Fleming and Von Eeden made led to a reading experience that did the same, a comic that's always moving further past you, that's leaving out the expected introductions and cues, empty air where the helping hand usually appears. Maybe this wasn't the next level. But it most definitely was a different one.
BREAKING NEWS! Record numbers of people cram into Comic-Con, some of whom still manage to have never felt so alone.
Phoenix Volume 5: Resurrection
By Osamu Tezuka, 1970-71
Hey, here’s an old comic! This is a comic from Japan translated into English and released in 2004. It’s part of a larger series, and not all of the volumes are available. The basic plot of each of the volumes I’ve read is about character’s interacting with an actual phoenix, that famous immortal bird you learned about in school, only so that you could someday intelligently use the phrase "like a phoenix arising from the ashes" when your hung-over roommate comes out of the bedroom and does a "this guy" joke with his thumbs pointed at himself. This particular volume of that story is also about robots and super-intense surgical procedures and what it means to be alive or in love. It has an interesting story, the drawing is extremely good--the man who made these comics is an extraordinarily important figure in Japan, he died in 1989--and the comic reads so well in one volume it may come as a surprise to find out that it was actually serialized over the course of two years. But it was!
OUR 2012 SAN DIEGO CON REPORT, EPISODE ONE (OF INDEFINITE)! Before I tell you about Comic-Con, I think it's important you hear about what happened at the airport on the way to the Comic-Con. First, they had a Ruby Tuesdays at the airport, and I turned to my significant other, Koko the Helper Monkey, and said, "It's not Tuesday where we're going," which was a reference to Bob Gale's screenplay for Back to the Future, but the important thing to understand is that at this particular Ruby Tuesdays, I had a plate of french fries, and would you believe that french fries at an airport were not properly salted? I took my complaints to the manager, but the manager tried to tell me I had to complain to the FAA, who I was smart enough to know would not appreciate the gravity of the situation. At that time, I found out my flight had been delayed and I would have to spend another 8 hours at the airport. Lucky for you, a great many things happened at the airport which I really have to talk about for you to really understand the flavor of this year's Comic-Con. TO BE CONTINUED IN EPISODE TWO: THE MASSAGE CHAIR AT THE AIRPORT BROOKSTONES GAVE ME A SEMI.
Love and Rockets #5-6
By Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez
Published by Fantagraphics 1984
These are some early issues of a comic book that you would probably enjoy quite a bit, although reading them in this format--the single issue--would probably not be your preferred method. I’m only reading them like this because I didn’t before, and I was curious what they would be like in a shorter format. Unlike certain comics that would require some historical background, I bet you would immediately pick up on why Love and Rockets is such a well-respected comic. It’s never anything less than stunning from the visual perspective, the dialog, pacing, and plots for the more grounded stories are heads and shoulders above many movies, television shows, and novels, making all the cool stuff about its non-exploitative production and widespread acclaim purely icing on the cake.
BREAKING COMIC-CON NEWS! There will be comic books based on movies.
BREAKING COMIC-CON NEWS! There will be movies based on comic books.
Seven Miles A Second
By David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger & Marguerite Van Cook
Published by Vertigo, 1996
This was a comic given to me because the person who it was actually destined to be given to wasn't there at the time, so I won. I enjoyed most of it, although I think it starts to fall apart in the end for the understandable reason that the writer had died without finishing it, and the artist had to make do with "concepts" and "David's entries in his last diary". The comic itself is a very unique, very visceral piece of work, and in telling the life story of its writer, it straddles a very delicate line--there's more than a few passages in this book that are difficult to get through simply because of the graphic nature of what's being described, that what you're seeing and reading is just so intensely sad. Cathartic work can be a chore to read if one isn't led to it by his own desire, but that doesn't necessarily mean this might not be up your alley. As an alternative, you could also watch the Denzel Washington movie Philadelphia or the Alan Alda television film And The Band Played On, both of which deal with a similar subject in a little less bombastic fashion.
NEWS OF THE SHOW! Image announced that they'll publish a big pile of action-adventure comics. Image publishes a big pile of action-adventure comics every month, but these comics will be written by people who sometimes put out comics for Marvel or DC, and that means they mean more.