Monday, June 30, 2008

The Knight Who Says Meh

When I started this blog, I originally wanted to make a few harsh comments about Hannibal Tabu's "style" of reviewing over at CBR. It was one of those things that I really wanted to go off about back in the day, but not to the detriment of the Best Shots team.

Interesting fact: Psycho nut Koben Kelly, previously of the Best Shots team, had made a t-shirt for the team that read, "We Could Poop Out One Sentence Reviews In Our Sleep," to wear at last year's Wizard World Chicago (as a shot at Tabu). Of course, he then went on to skip his mental health meds, smoke copious amounts of mary jane, and have a legendary meltdown that required his mom to come pick his 32 year old ass from the hotel. A friendly prank I played on him may or may not have had a role in that meltdown.

Anyway...back to Hannibal.

Once I started this blog, I just didn't get around to reading it nearly as much and, when I did, the problematic bits were nowhere near as noteworthy as the ones I bit my tongue on.

He came back to mind because of something said at the Cup O' Bendis panel this weekend. Jim McCann ranted a bit on how people who comment on or review an issue by simply saying "meh" get him very angry. Bendis chimed in agreeing, but it didn't seem as possibly pointed at reviews as McCann's statement did. Bendis did say that having "meh" said about a piece of work is just like a kick in the balls for him.

Believe it or not, it took someone else in attendance suggesting that McCann's statement might have been directed at Tabu, who probably uses that more than any other reviewers and sometimes leaves that as his only commentary about an issue.

For those that haven't met McCann, he's one of the nicest guys you'll meet at a convention. He's a personable guy, very friendly to fans and pros alike (from what I could see) and has a love for comics that he couldn't hide if his life depended on it. He seems like someone that would be hard to piss off.

So, that development led me to check out Tabu's column, again. Found this:

This week's Indie Spotlight (a new feature, see the bottom of the column) is also the winner of the "WTF?" award. A Gambit knockoff is driving around, avoiding monsters and carrying the head of Medusa (the myth, not the legendary LA-area rapper) as a weapon ... wait, what?

Funny thing about that spotlight: hardly seems worth a damn when you don't name the book. I will say that his explaining his WTF "award" is an improvement; he often leaves it without any clarification.

Oh, Hannibal! One of these days, you just might have a whole column where you get it right. ;)

Whither Joe Quesada

One thing I heard over the weekend (from fans and people covering the convention, not Marvel artists or writers) was speculation about why Joe Quesada didn't attend the convention.

None of it was of the type floated about Dan Didio a few weeks ago. Marvel is having great success under Joe, so why would there be rumors of him getting fired?

No, some were speculating that he might be considering passing on the mantle. He's said more than a few times, to my recollection, that this wasn't something he expected to do forever. There are a lot of advantages to stepping away during such a good time for the company. Not only do you leave on a high note, but you're letting the new head honcho start out without having to try to repair any damage done by possibly overstaying your welcome.

In all likelihood, Quesada probably just had personal reasons for skipping Heroes & Wizard World Chicago that have absolutely nothing to do with even considering stepping down. I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Michael Turner Has Passed Away


Michael Turner was a great artist and always seemed to be one of the good ones. He bravely fought through life threatening illness on so many occasions. It is truly a sad event.

June is really becoming a terrible month.

Just An FYI

In case you haven't been following my Twitter, I'm on a first name basis with alcohol this weekend. Translation? I'm being a bad muslim but a good Irishman. Act accordingly, if you see me. Feel free to join me for a drink or talk to me until I treat you to a round. But if you want to come up and give me shit while I'm trying to enjoy a night drinking with my friends? I'm going to be a good Irishman. ;)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Comic Conventions Might Not Be For Me Anymore

Wizard World Chicago closed up at 6pm. I could have sworn they were open later last year. They close at 7pm tomorrow.

There's something retarded about closing up at 6pm on Friday when you have your guest of honor's Q&A 3.5 hours after you close up your convention. How the hell does that make sense?

You have a panel full of top DC & Marvel creators answering questions from fans and just generally bullshitting. It started at 5pm and showed no signs of dying out on its own. Wizard closed the panel down, not because the room was needed, but...well...just because. Apparently, a Japanese ska band would be rehearsing next door and a Wizard rep said the crowd wouldn't have been able to hear anything from the panel shortly.

I can't personally understand why the Bendis Vs. Johns was a Friday panel rather than a Saturday one, but I'm sure there are some good reasons why it shook out that way. But lord...this tendency to put Japanese music acts as some big lure in what is supposed to be a comic book focused convention just bugs me. I'd like for something as special as the Bendis Vs. Johns panel to get treated better than that.

Ah...Chicago!

Haven't been updating the blog over the last few days, because I'm in Chicago.

Wednesday night was karaoke and drinkin' with the Siegels and crew. This included butchering Journey's Don't Stop Believin'. Everyone else...and I mean everyone else...sang very well. This includes the guy who did the version of Sailing Away as Cartman.

During the advanced night of Wizard, I overheard a few people indicating they think the convention is dead. That's not talking about the number of fans attending, because they only had the three hours on Thursday night. No, the layout is what seems to be leading that discussion. The aisles seem to be larger, which, while all comfy for walking around, indicates that there are less exhibitors and possibly retailers.

Less exhibitors at the convention in full force can mean less attendees next year or possibly even this year. I'd have to say that, from the looks of the floor setup, NYCC has already surpassed Wizard World Chicago. We're quickly looking at the two biggest and brightest cons being on each of the coasts. While I'm personally happy about NYCC being higher in the pecking order due to it being much easier for me to attend than Chicago, I don't know if it is good that it comes at the expense of a convention more smack dab in the middle of the country.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If The MJ Statue Caused A Ruckus...

Scream Factory is set to debut their Bump statue at Wizard World Chicago. Here's the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THE SCREAM FACTORY DEBUTS MASSIVE LIMITED EDITION BUMP STATUE AT WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2008 THE SCREAM FACTORY will be appearing at Wizard World Chicago, June 26-29 in booth 933, and will unveil a truly unique, amazingly massive and EXTREMELY limited collectible!

The ‘Treehugger’ statue is based on the monstrous characters from the hit mini-series BUMP, featuring a terrifying three dimensional recreation of one of the cannibalistic minions of supernatural serial killer Eddie Dill, shown in all its bloody glory.

The statue was sculpted, cast, individually hand-painted and completely produced by Special Effects legend Robert Kurtzman and his 'Creature Crew' effects team (who also handle the special effects for the film), based on designs from BUMP creator Mark Kidwell. The piece is an imposing 22" tall by 12" wide and 12" deep, and features a scalp with real hair!

This is a Wizard World Chicago 2008 debut, and is available in EXTREMELY limited quantities. These are not "mass-produced" works, Every statue has been completely hand-crafted by Kurtzman and his team in preparation for the film’s special effects sequences.

About BUMP (the film and comic book series):

Directed by Special Effects legend Robert Kurtzman (director of WES CRAVEN'S WISHMASTER, creator of FROM DUSK 'TIL DAWN and F/X guru behind ARMY OF DARKNESS, KILL BILL, RE-ANIMATOR and many many more) and starring Tobin Bell (Jigsaw from the SAW franchise), Sean Patrick Flanery (THE BOONDOCK SAINTS, YOUNG INDIANA JONES) and Ashley Laurence (HELLRAISER, HELLRAISER 2), BUMP is based on the comic series of the same name by writer/artist Mark Kidwell and is a supernatural tale of extreme horror, where even the confines of the grave aren’t able to contain the brutal spirit of serial killer Edgar Dill, and his legion of monstrous Treehuggers! For merchandise and more info on BUMP visit www.bumpmovie.com.

About The Scream Factory:

THE SCREAM FACTORY, an alliance of film, music, literary and comic book professionals, offers a stunning selection of quality horror titles online. We take fiendish delight in telling readers that they can find the offerings at www.wowio.com at absolutely no charge!!! Get your latest Scream Factory news at www.myspace.com/thescreamfactory and www.bumpmovie.com

The statue?

OK, that goes further than bending over doing laundry, doesn't it? ;)

(I'm joking...there's no way that this stirs up the same controversy)

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin: Dead


Man, June is fast becoming my least favorite month. Tim Russert passed before his time and now George Carlin passes at about his time.

Despite taking a more bitter, pessimistic turn over the last few years, Carlin was one of the best comedians to ever walk the Earth. I may not have always agreed with what he said, but he was one of the sharpest wits out there.

I think my life benefited from his sharing his look on life with the masses for these many years. Or, considering I first got into him when I was about 10, ruined the way I saw the world for most of my life. Either or.

The world is lesser for having lost him. During this election season, we'd all do well to remember the sentiment in this clip from one of his last stand-up specials:

Isn't Mark Waid The BMOC At Boom! Studios?

Heidi MacDonald reported the following bit from the State of the Industry panel at Heroes Con:

Waid declared that he would trade all the existing comics readers for a junior high school full of readers

Then Mark waded on to the blog over at The Beat and said:

“Wouldn’t that involve actually creating and marketing comics for junior high school readers instead of their parents?”

Yes, it would. As a creator, all I can do is create them for that readership, which I do. Pointedly. Whether I can actually physically get comics TO them or not. Marketing is beyond my control. But some of us have at least the first part of it covered. I wish more of the super-hero industry would follow suit, frankly, but that’s not my call.

Isn't he more than a creator at Boom! and in a position where he should have some control over trying to market their product? I mean, at least some influence?

It is possible that he was trying to speak more to his recent experiences creating work-for-hire over at DC, but he was on that panel as someone leading a comic book company. I'd like to see what he proposes to do to market Boom! Studios product to junior high schoolers.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Morrison: Pissing On Countdown Before The 'Rama Interview

Over on ComicFoundry.com, they had an interview published with Grant Morrison on April 29th where the following exchange took place:


"You’ve done several big event books for DC. What’s the hardest part about writing them?

Trying not to disturb continuity too much, particularly in cases where said continuity is best described as a car wreck. Back in 2006, I requested a moratorium on the New Gods so that I could build up some foreboding and create anticipation for their return in a new form … instead, the characters were passed around like hepatitis B to practically every writer at DC to toy with as they pleased, which, to be honest, makes it very difficult for me to reintroduce them with any sense of novelty, mystery or grandeur. So in cases like this, where fellow creators have overlooked my carefully established additions to DC continuity or ignored my pleas to hold certain characters in reserve, my intention is to follow the through-line I’ve established in my own work so that there’s at least some long-term consistency."

Wow...this says two things to me:

  1. Comic Foundry really needs to make its online presence a little more well-known. The blogosphere erupted much more about Grant dismissing Countdown in his Newsarama interview, despite the fact that he had pretty much already told the world that he didn't care to match up to what DC did against his wishes over in CF's interview.
  2. DC editorial really managed to find the worst of both worlds. They have apparently frustrated some creators by wanting to stick to the Morrison road map but disregarded what appears to be a pretty important setup point because the man at the top felt the New Gods needed a proper tribute. From where I sit, that send off could have been an out-of-continuity Death of the New Gods...or even just the in-continuity Death of the New Gods without making Countdown hinge on New God participation.
All the info I have read on the subject seemed to indicate that the decision to give the Kirby versions some sort of send off originated from Dan Didio. He's the only DC guy I've seen making statements about why they focused on them in Countdown and in their own mini. No other editors or creators have stepped up and said it was something they championed.

So, if a personal desire from Didio is at the root of Countdown, Death of the New Gods, and the resultant disconnect with Final Crisis, I can see why things could be a bit tense for Didio. He's in a position where you normally defer to the creators under contract, rather than spend time putting your own ideas out there. His being co-architect of Countdown with Dini is a double hit on Dan doing his job: one hit for approving the idea and another for expanding his role into being more hands on with the writing than he maybe should have been.

Makes me wonder...is he AJ Lieberman after all?

(CF article brought to my attention via a link from 4thLetter.net, which I got to via DigitalFemme.com)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Random Comic Thoughts

  • Does Tom Peyer have children? Because his short run on The Flash has led to the West children's inclusion in the book feeling a lot more natural than it did under Waid. Now there are grumblings that he's being replaced on the book permanently. Does DC no longer allow creative teams to find their audience?
  • Latest issue of JLA had numerous bits that flew in the face of logic. One of the most glaring (and I know this will sound nitpicky, but hear me out): the new Red Tornado redesign. OK, John wants to marry his lady and continue being a father to that little girl. Is this best done by drastically changing his outward appearance for no apparent reason? There doesn't seem to be an in-story excuse for why the new Tornado body would have a wildly different color scheme, other than letting readers differentiate from the good and bad Tornado. But with everyone trying to help John get back to having a normal life, it makes sense that no one would worry about the effects of a new look on his existing relationships? If I were that girl's age, I'd be pretty damn spooked about a jet-black (not a racial thing, folks, go look at the design) dad that would come in to check on me at night with glowing accents.
  • One of the side effects of not having much crossover material for an event like Final Crisis is the possibility of interest waning. I'm much more of a fan of DC franchises than Marvel ones, but Secret Invasion is more ever-present in my mind than Final Crisis. If there was even a little seeding of the Final Crisis story into the other monthlies coming out, it would help.
  • Nee resigns from DC Comics and 90% of the talk about it is centered around how this plays in the Didio drama or how this measures up as being the big news that Warren Ellis said might be coming that day. That's a shame.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Don't Hate To Do This Quite As Much...

Remember how I took Newsarama to task for someone over there taking a conference call interview and saying that Newsarama went in-depth with the stars? How they threw "Newsarama" in front of every question as if it had been theirs, when it certainly wasn't?

Cue CBR's Dark Knight interview with Christopher Nolan...

They managed to take it a step further. The front page says that "CBR's Andy Khouri goes in-depth with director Christopher Nolan". The interview has "CBR News along with other members of the press spoke with Christopher Nolan", but they then proceed to label the first question as theirs and continue on in a way that implies each question is theirs.

Some of the same answers are over on SuperHeroHype.com, with the questions paraphrased. Actually, there's a few parts where the answers diverge slightly, in ways that indicate one of them is supplying a quote that isn't actually a quote. Given that SHH uses XXX as a stand in for parts of their recording that were unintelligible, I'd lean towards it being CBR that has the iffy quotes. Then again, that could indicate more of a need by SHH to get the idea of the statement right, if not the exact words. Given that SHH seems to include even the less necessary words (including verbal crutches like "you know"), I'm still leaning strongly towards CBR being the one supplying answers as direct quotes but getting the verbiage wrong.

I never thought I'd say this, but Wizard actually got it right. When I googled one of the sentences of a Nolan answer, I found it in their coverage. But, instead of dressing it up to make the casual observer think it was a question and answer led by one of their people, they wrote an article peppered with quotes from the director (and others, as they seem to have "blown their load" by sneaking multiple interviews into it).

At the time I'm writing this, Newsarama hasn't posted their interviews on the set of Dark Knight. Their first part is about the costuming, which involved interviewing but I haven't checked elsewhere around the net to see if others framed theirs as their own interview. Troy Brownfield wrote his up as an article with quotes scattered through it like the Wizard article.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On Being Of Irish Heritage

Truths I gleaned from watching the Tim Russert memorial on MSNBC:

"I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know the world is going to break your heart eventually."
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, upon hearing of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Quoted by Brian Williams before saying (dripping with sarcasm), "for those of you not married to a dark, brooding Irishman, let me assure you that we are a blast to live with."

Which led me to Google the Moynihan quote to make sure to get it exactly right and found another from him on being Irish:

"The Irish were distinguished by qualities which tend to make men interesting rather than prosperous."

Fortunately for many of us in the world, Tim Russert was both interesting and prosperous. His son is a helluva kid, too. I wasn't able to keep my composure for even a few minutes when I attempted to eulogize my father. Strong young man, that Russert boy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Maybe The Rama Is Getting Dogpiled (& The Dixon Saga)

I'm a comic industry gossip addict. I hit The Beat & Blog@ everyday...many times. I occasionally hit Journalista and Spurgeon's site. Journalista get hit daily from time to time, depending on how recently Dirk has picked a fight or stirred shit up on some topic.

I go to these sites because it seems to me that blog sites run with bits and fragments of news and stories more quickly. I think it is just the nature of the animal.

So, I'm a fan of the work done by The Beat and by Blog@, regardless of what people at either site might think of me. They are both damn entertaining.

That said...

I feel like the following from The Beat paints a disingenuous picture:

Covering breaking news seems to be a work in progress at the new ‘Rama. While l’Affaire de Chuck Dixon was all over the blogosphere last week, it was absent from Newsarama’s front page, something that did not escape Valerie’s notice. Matt Brady came back the next day with a solid story that was mostly background and no comment but at least it was something.

First of all, Newsarama wound up covering it on Blog@. Was it front page when there was little-to-know meat to the story? No. Could they have linked to the Blog@ coverage from the front page? Sure. But there seems to be an effort to trump it up into a bigger issue.

Then there's trying to frame Newsarama as responding to people criticizing their lack of front page coverage by giving it front page coverage the next day. The Beat seems to try to do this with subtlety in the above quoted piece. Occasional Superheroine did it with less subtlety by following this blog with "Guess What Story Is On The "Front Page" Of Newsarama?" Never mind that the front page article went live at 7:45am that morning, meaning it was certainly being worked on much of the previous night. That would seem to demonstrate that Newsarama was, gasp, trying to focus on good journalism practices more than rushing to get something on the front page that was already covered on Blog@ and countless other sites.

The final bit seems to be critical of Newsarama for their being nothing new in the reporting, despite their best efforts. They can't make anyone talk if they're unwilling (though, holy shit, what a difference a week makes with Chuck Dixon, apparently).

It seems like, due to the timing of this story with the changeover in the site, people want to see a major problem where there isn't one so they can tie it to the site transition.

-----------------------------------------------

Oh, while we're talking about the Dixon situation, Val's take seems to view the whole thing through the lens of her life instead of what actually went on with Dixon. Dixon spoke out like he did to defend his reputation and it is partially appropriate because DC wasn't doing anything to explain the situation? That's how I read it from her blog, but feel free to steer me in the right direction if I'm wrong. Because, if that's what she's saying, there are a few problems with it as it pertains to Dixon (but no problem with how it pertains to her; she may have avoided names, but she gave a clear picture of the circumstances).

  1. It would be kind of odd for DC to come out and announce that Dixon has been kicked off the books before there were any solicitations that would necessitate an explanation for his absence.
  2. If there's been any demonstration that DC was leaking negative info about why Dixon was no longer on the books, requiring him to counter by harshly ripping "someone" at the top, I haven't seen it. Feel free to link me to it in the comments if I missed it.
  3. Telling everyone you didn't quit doesn't really seem to defend your reputation. Bashing the conditions at the place you didn't quit doesn't seem to be much of a defense of one's reputation.
It seems clear that Dixon went a touch past defending his reputation in his blog commenting/Didio bashing. I can't argue for or against the comments being warranted or deserved. But I can certainly argue against them being necessary to protect against being slimed by his past employer. No, he seemed to be preemptively sliming his past executive editor. Last I checked (and I'll give you that it's been more than 24 hours), there still wasn't a clear picture of what exactly happened.

Chuck's not really being entirely fair when he says, "BG1, I simply stated that I was off my titles and that I did not quit. This was to get out in front of the rumors."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one knew anything to make rumors about until he decided to tell the world that he was off the books. THEN he had to get in front of rumors (that he created a vacuum and market for) by saying he didn't quit, which didn't exactly fill that vacuum.

In all of this, he goes through basically spelling out who the problem was by telling everyone who it wasn't. Shit, at some point, his not naming the person when he was doing everything BUT THAT to make it clear who he was talking about, his continued resistance to naming the name makes it seem like he's missing part of his anatomy. I won't say what part, but it certainly isn't the head and don't blame the shaft.

Funny that I haven't seen anyone (least of all Dixon) refute the rumor that Lynxara shared on the infamous Comics Should Be Good blog:

So I’ve heard an interesting rumor about this, not quite inside info, but sourced well enough I’m inclined to take it seriously. I cannot disclose the source as the information was passed along entirely off-the-record, so you may take this with a grain of salt.

What I’ve heard regarding this situation is that Dixon was approaching the books as regular runs and so had written very far ahead on all of his titles– I’m hearing something like two years’ worth of scripts. However, editorial didn’t give him full details of the outcome of upcoming events like Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, so the vast bulk of what Dixon wrote ended up being unusable.

This led to sharp disagreements about rewriting the scripts and whether Dixon should have produced that much material in the first place, and presumably the end of Dixon’s employment at DC.

He wrote possibly two years ahead on off-shoot books. He knows that Robin will always be lower on the totem pole than Batman or Detective. Same goes double for Batman & The Outsiders. He doesn't stop to think that the main titles might dictate enough to the spin-off titles along the way to present a problem? Maybe he's just not used to writing a spin-off without having more of a hand in the parent titles?

So...again...he writes ahead, presumably gets told that some elements crucial to his writing ahead aren't usable, and he doesn't agree that he should have to scrap that work and start over? That makes DC the heel and Dixon a saint?

What other type of employment is that acceptable in? What other type of employment is that not basically quitting by fact of refusing to do your job? If I behaved like what his role in that rumored scenario in any job I had, I'd at least be denied several weeks of my unemployment, if allowed to file at all.

Yakety Smackety



For some reason, "blah blah blah yakety smackety," got in my head today and I thought I'd share a little reminiscing about cartoons of my youth...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Man...I Really Hate To Do This...

See where Newsarama interviews Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway over here? No, you didn't. Well, you might have read their answers to some questions...but you didn't see anything that involved Newsarama interviewing the stars.

What you saw was one of those pre-packaged print interviews (well, conference call interview, at least) that everyone slaps their name on and runs. It's basically a press release interview. It's like one of those radio interviews where your local host dubs themselves asking questions in between the pre-recorded answers from the stars and starlets of the latest mass media entertainment release.

It is nothing new and it is done everywhere across the 'net. But it sure disappoints me to see it as a newly adopted practice at Newsarama.

The same interview is available at SciFi.com (with an individual claiming to have conducted it) and chopped up for significant repackaging over at Canada.com. Other sites just grab certain bits. For instance, when I was searching for this "interview" to be posted all around the 'net, I decided to Google one of Hathaway's more unique, full answers:

HATHAWAY: Making out with him is like the yummiest lollipop, dipped in sunshine and wrapped in a masculine wrapper! That's the only way I can think to describe it.

That bit is at MTV Canada and Contra Costa Times, with the latter claiming it was said to Contact Music when it was obviously part of a big, honking press conference.

Kudos to Collider for not dressing it up and pretending they got to have a one-on-one chat with anyone.

Anyway, I guess I'd just feel better about Newsarama's expanded focus if they were applying their comic book coverage standards to other areas. I've never seen one conference call or panel for comic books dressed up to pretend it was a fireside chat conducted by someone drawing a paycheck from the site. It's one thing to run generic content available everywhere, but it's another to take part in the practice of passing it off as if you were directly involved and have something unique.

Could Carlin Be The Culprit?

Warren Ellis sent out a Bad Signal e-mail about the current state of DC and Didio. One of the parts that caught my eye:

People like talking shit about Dan Didio online. The truth is that he's actually a smart guy who, on entering the company, had to make some tough decisions fairly quickly. It's also true that some lifers at DC editorial are very resistant to any kind of change. Are some of them just plain nasty and dumb enough to say, "screw Morrison, we'll do our own story, and if it blows his big reveals, well, fuck ím''? I would hope not, but it does seem to have happened anyway.

I was initially set to point out that DC lifers didn't have much to do with those lead-in projects. Marts was on Countdown at the start and Death of the New Gods. Much of it was Didio's darling to begin with.

But how could I forget Mike Carlin? You know, the guy who seemed to go through many a weekly 'Rama interview (and issues of the event he was editing) with a "I just don't give a f***" attitude. Used to be one of the more important people 'round those parts, seems to be much less so now. He was on Countdown for a longer (and, ultimately, more important) time than Marts, when it comes to matching things up. He wound up on Countdown because an editor that management likes better begged off it (that's the perception).

Could his "f*** it" attitude be part of why Countdown didn't match up to Final Crisis? Could his "f*** it" attitude really have been more of a "f*** Didio and this project he stuck me on/I'll show him" sort of thing?

Mind you, Ellis didn't say anything to imply that he was talking about Carlin. This is just my own spitballing and shouldn't suggest that anyone else was going in that direction.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And Comics Journalism Needs A Russert

  • Rumors persist that Marvel_b0y was a viral campaign run by employees of Marvel, despite at least some sort of denial from Joe Quesada.
  • Countdown counted down to nothing, since it certainly didn't countdown to Final Crisis.
  • Grant Morrison says that he gave DC his first issue script and the outline for the entire mini-series long ago, yet rumors persist that Didio traveled out to Scotland because Morrison was delivering something different than he had previously laid out.
  • Dixon leaves DC; he didn't quit, yet he says he didn't have quite the passionate "YOU'RE FIRED!" moment. There are strong indications that Didio is the reason he's gone, but he won't spell it out further, as of yet. Keep in mind he said no comment next week and now he's been posting up a storm of comments alluding to what the heart of the matter is.
  • And now, despite protests to the contrary only a matter of weeks ago, JG Jones has obviously NOT been on schedule with his artwork for Final Crisis, as revealed now by Carlos Pacheco being added to the series as of Final Crisis #4.
  • Kinda indicates that Grant Morrison was full of it when he protested that things were way too far gone for them to have adjusted anything to meet up with where Countdown to Final Crisis left things. It wasn't a combination of things, it was simply the lack of desire to change things. Again, nothing wrong with that on his part. Should have left it at "I didn't want to" rather than trying to say circumstances made it too difficult.

Man, I wish there was someone that comic notables felt that they HAD to submit to being interviewed by and could press for firm answers (without being spat upon by half of the fans out there).

You know what is a shame? I find the mysteries of Marvel_b0y (still) and exactly what the fuck is happening at DC more compelling than the comic book event series at either company.

Russert Was My Imam



I said the other day that Meet The Press was the Sunday trip to church for me. Of course, it was convenient for me since I could Tivo it and watch it at my leisure during the afternoon. God forbid you happened upon me on an afternoon where I found out that they bumped the show to a different time slot and Tivo failed to get an update on it. Sure, I'd get a late night replay on MSNBC, but then I might not have my weekly dose of MTP until Monday evening. That just wasn't acceptable.

My faith and my country run neck and neck for the top loyalty. More often than I'd care to admit, my country and its politics take the top spot. Tim Russert, for his dedication to thorough interviews and assembling great roundtables, was the clergy that led me to pray at the altar of Democracy on a weekly basis. While I'd still watch Chris Matthews and George Stephanopoulos later in the day, neither could truly compare to Russert's dedication to the truth, rather than entertainment or loyalty to past employers.

Tim had an exuberance for the political process and for this country that never seemed to lean left or right. He was an advocate for American democracy and a lover of the truth. I've never felt the words of For Whom The Bell Tolls ring more true during my lifetime than with this passing. The world is lesser for the loss.

Please forgive me this second interruption of the regular topics. This should be the last for awhile.

Chuck Dixon Was Fired

Reading the blog over at Comics Should Be Good, it appears that Dixon was fired and that he has some serious issues with Dan Didio.

Countdown was Didio's baby. Giving Morrison the keys to the entire universe was his call. Letting him be uncommunicative about whatever changes he was making to the FC story in such a way that it screwed up the flow between Countdown & FC likely had the fault shared between Didio and Berganza.

I've appreciated many of the strides that DC made under Didio, but Countdown was his clusterf*ck and he follows that up by failing to make his people ensure that they bounced back. If you believe Valerie D'Orazio's picture of what happens when a series bombs (like she described with Titans), it appears that the editorial staff may have been too busy whispering jokes back and forth about how bad Countdown was doing and how bad Carlin looked in many of his Newsarama interviews, so more stupid mistakes were missed along the way.

Final Defecation On Countdown Part πέντε

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back.

Everyone having fun?

No?


Regardless, we're going on with the poo-slinging.

In Week 46's Counting Down column:

Newsarama: Ballparking here - since Jason and Donna are talking about it, where does this issue fall in relation to Amazons Attack #1 and #2?

Mike Marts: Countdown #46 falls somewhere in the middle of Amazons Attack #2. Check out the issue for Donna and Jason’s lead-in scene to this Countdown #46.

That's offered without real comment at this point. I'm just sure that, with the way AA kinda demonstrated that Countdown would never really be the "spine" with any semblance of each month's issues happening in the same calendar month, it will be worth referencing later.

NRAMA: Since we've got a shot of her again in her costume, how did Mary's costume manifest itself - that design, specifically? Why not the "Mary Marvel" look, but black replacing the white?

MM: We won’t find out the true nature of Mary’s new costume or powers for some time...but some readers tend to think it had to do with Mary¹s fragile state of mind when she acquired her new powers. Others think it may be Teth-Adam’s evil influence. Maybe it’s a combination of the two - or - something completely different. Some other third party, perhaps?

I still don't fully understand that. I know the third party they're alluding to was Eclipso. But how she managed to have that kind of effect on her without sniffing the same zip code for so long still escapes me.

NRAMA: Got it…back to Mary herself - is she...changing as a result of Adam's magic? After all, she didn't seem too upset when five pregnant women blew up in front of her...seems like that would've gotten a jolt out of the “old” Mary...

MM: Mary has definitely changed...and not to the good side of the Force...let’s hope we haven’t seen the last of old Mary.

Yeah...I guess we should still be hoping?

And...wow...that week's Q&A was incredibly short. Even after taking a few weeks off, I might still be able to go over all of this before Final Crisis wraps.

In Week 45, we have two statements that seem to contradict each other a bit:

Newsarama: Okay - big picture wise, and looking at the bigger picture of the series, would it be safe to say this issue was a pause for exposition? After all, we had the explanation of who Forerunner is, Jimmy's recap of the story so far and his explanation of the New Gods, and a recap of the Legion members in the present-day...

Mike Marts: While there were a few short pauses to explain things a little more thoroughly than usual, I don’t remember it being a conscious decision on our part. I think it was more a case of the natural progression of the story...the timing was right for Jimmy to recap who the New Gods are, etc. Let’s not forget, the bulk of this issue was the action-packed fight in Washington DC between Forerunner and Donna Troy…

...and...

NRAMA: Mike, with 52, there was always talk of the first few issues setting the stage, and then, things really taking off once all the players were where they were supposed to be. Is that similar to what we're seeing in Countdown's first few issues?

MM: No, with Countdown we took a different approach—we decided to blow #%&! up from the very first issue and never allow readers to catch their breath.
From the looks of things, what they were blowing up were stink bombs. What? Too easy?

But honestly, if Matt Brady is indicating that they seemed to slow down here, I'm guessing they actually did slow down. I don't have the issue here. I remember the Forerunner fight sort of framing the rest of the story in that issue. I guess shit was still blowing up, but it would seem that readers were still allowed to catch their breath a bit.

And we're on to Week 44. Wow, do these start to fly by or what?

Here, we see the fruits of the aforementioned "begging to get out of the pit of despair that the editor of Countdown resides in":

NRAMA: So what we're seeing here with Billy, and what he's referring to with Freddy - this is what's going on in Trials of Shazam, right?

MM: Exactly, this scene reflects the current status quo in Judd Winick and Howard Porter’s Trials of Shazam... a title ably edited by Mike Carlin, a.k.a. The Great Carlini...

...who by the way (see how I’m segueing?) will begin co-editing Countdown with me starting next issue. Then, after a dozen or so issues of the two of us playing mad scientist together, Mr. Carlin will take over full-time as Countdown editor as I devote all of my energies to editing the Batman titles. And who said being a comic book editor wasn’t fun?!

Let's see...I'm told that Mike started asking off the book six issues in. That'd be two issues before the column I'm currently dissecting. Two weeks from asking to arranging a path out of hell, with a relatively short stay in purgatory along the way. I'm glad Marts was lucky enough to be a high profile new signing or his talent may have withered on the vine here rather than putting in such good work shepherding the Bat titles.

NRAMA: Okay - Monarch...let's bring in whos and hows for folks who may not know him...who is he?

MM: See Wikipedia! Just kidding. Monarch—once upon a time in the future—was some evil guy in high-tech armor who ruled over all and was hated by everybody. The catch, however, was that the true identity of Monarch was an actual DC hero! After some big battles, etc. in Armageddon 2001, it was revealed that Hank Hall--a.k.a. Hawk (of Hawk & Dove fame)--was the guy who eventually became Monarch. Still with me? Okay. Then, later on, Monarch and Captain Atom fought a little bit, got sent back in time together, and eventually Captain Atom was given the Monarch armor through some weird timestream/duplicate copy explanation. Oh yeah, he’s also hung out in parallel universes, the Bleed, and has been known to pal around with Parallax.

Hm. Maybe you should see Wikipedia after all.

AB: If I can try…Monarch is the identity Captain Atom assumed after his dimension hopping experience in the Armageddon limited series. The armor he wears contains his unstable, and incredibly powerful, energies.

NRAMA: He seems to be spilling a lot of inside info about Forerunners as a race...how'd he get to know so much?

MM: See above answer! For a guy so well-traveled through both time and space, you figure he probably picked up some decent Forerunner trivia along the way.

AB: My guess is, his experience bouncing back and forth between dimensions gave him a lot of insight into how things really work, not just as far as the Forerunners go, but about a lot of things.

OK, I quoted a lot there. All of it was just to set up the last sentence. You see, Countdown how 51 issues to meander through so much, but they had to leave how Monarch obtained this information as something to get explained away as happening off-panel before the series launched? Really? No time to spare for flashbacks?

NRAMA: Holly - er...she don't look like Holly from last issue from her outfit to her hair. Production-wise, how does something like that happen between issues and artists?

MM: Answer A: We’re fairly lucky that most of the artists working on Countdown have a similar style...and we keep an extensive database of visual reference that all of the artists work from...but that being said it’s tough to match up every single detail page in and page out. We strive to keep things consistent, but every now and then an inconsistency or two sneak through.

Answer B: in Countdown #45, Holly was having a bad hair day.

NRAMA: Maybe a little of A, a little of B?

MM: Maybe.

Yeah...I remember this. It really was a drastic different between the two appearances. While it is a relatively small thing, it is another in a long line of things that went awry with Countdown when they supposedly made the whole "show runner" change to make things run more smoothly. I do remember some less than stellar art in 52 (which we, also, had here), but not drawing lead characters as unrecognizable from one issue to the next.

Week 43 is where they had the funeral for Bart Allen. It's late (God bless scheduled postings in Blogger) and I'm weary, so I'll start on that later this week.

Friday, June 13, 2008

R.I.P. Tim Russert


I normally keep my news and politics blogging segregated from my popculture stuff. But today, I was floored when I received a text message regarding the passing of Tim Russert.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is getting comfortable in my favorite seat in the living room, setting up on the laptop, and watching my Tivo'd Sunday political talk shows. None stood out in my day more than Tim Russert's MEET THE PRESS. No journalist, in my opinion, did a better job of interviewing political figures without bias. He pressed for the hard answers without seeming disrespectful or resorting to ambushing.

My heart breaks at the loss, for no reason more than that his passing leaves both a father and a son to mourn such a loss on the weekend of Father's Day. This holiday has been a painful one for me since 2004, the first after the passing of my own father. I can only imagine their heartache this weekend. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Russert family...and to every family who will spend this Father's Day without the presence of their own father or a father without his child.

Nightmare Factory Sequel


Heidi talks about the Fox Atomic Comics project she helped put together over on The Beat.

Whenever Fox Atomic Comics comes up, I can't help but remember the kick ass panel they had at NYCC 2007. I'll never forget Eric Lieb's story about being nailed by a car the day or two before the convention. Quick trip in and out of the emergency room let him get right back into the thick of things. Whatta trooper! :)

Incredible Hulk: A Rage In Harlem


Just got back from a midnight showing of the Incredible Hulk. I have a few quick observations:

  • The CGI Hulk wasn't horrible. I think it needed a few tweaks it didn't get that could have made it better. The face was a bit off balance, with the head being enlarged but certain parts (most notably the nose) weren't in proper proportion. I'd, also, hazard a guess that the face might have been made too symmetrical.
  • The best appearances of the Hulk happened during some of the least important moments. Some of the best work could be found in a confrontation in the middle of the film, rather than during the climax.
  • For me, this had the best cameos and easter eggs of any Marvel property, thus far. Dialog, images on the TV screen, names of throwaway characters and the inclusion of the TV show theme are all just a taste of the bits fans might enjoy in the flick.
  • I was shocked that at least one scene prominently displayed in early trailers and commercials was completely removed from the movie. Norton wound up not having a conversation with the character that was supposedly named Dr. Samson. No idea why it was cut.
  • Speaking of scenes on the cutting room floor, I kept having thoughts of Banner's trek to the lands of tundra nag at me towards the end of the film. From what I heard of that scene, I think it would have been a perfect fit.
  • At least 80% of the audience stuck around past the credits in hopes of another scene like Fury in Iron Man. I guess that shouldn't be so surprising, since 12am showings bring out the die-hards, but it still seems to bode well for what Marvel Studios is doing.
  • While it may not have done the job as well as Iron Man, the film did a decent job of blending in some humor.
  • Oh, I found it interesting that the climax happened in Harlem. If I knew a bit more about the layout, I'd probably have been looking to see if any collateral damage was done to Clinton's office.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Punisher: War Zone Teaser



(By way of Kevin Melrose, who got it from IGN)

I Know, I Know...But Still...



The way they teased the next issue was funny, though. Can't wait to see if anyone gets their panties all in a bunch over that. ;)

You Might Be A Comic Book Geek If...


...the first thing you say is, "hey, cool Captain America shield on that bike!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This Or That: Final Crisis Explanations

While being slightly busy getting defecated on by testy ex-Wizard employees, I wandered back over to Heidi's reporting on Dixon's departure from Batman & The Outsiders.

The comment that stood out was from Dweeze:

I think what Lukecash is referring to are earlier reports that when Morrison turned in the final script for Final Crisis 1, it was vastly different from what he had told editorial it would be and from what editorial had originally approved. As a result, a contingent from DC editorial went to Scotland to discuss what could be done, and the result was what eventually became DC Universe 0.

I had forgotten all about the rumors that the purpose of Didio's Scotland trip was because Grant had made changes to Final Crisis from what he had previously provided to DC editorial. In light of Grant throwing Countdown under the bus in his interview, I thought it might be worth trying to get an idea what people think is most likely the true story.

THIS: Grant Morrison changed Final Crisis significantly, which resulted in Countdown not matching up with Final Crisis.

or

THAT: DC editorial did a sloppy job of coordinating Countdown with Grant's expressed vision for what Final Crisis would be.

What do you think?

Chuck Dixon Out At DC Comics

Heidi MacDonald reports over at THE BEAT that Dixon is no longer employed by DC Comics.

Reaction from fans, thus far, seems to be mixed. Some are lauding his return of Spoiler, but I have reliable info that says the broad strokes of her return have been sitting with DC editorial just waiting for the right time to execute.

I haven't been much of a fan of his Batman & The Outsiders, as it suffers extreme decompression, IMO. Probably not the one to look to for a fair critique of that book, as the creative musical chairs and pulling a switcheroo with the cast (especially after having the readers invest in a five week event meant to select them) soured me before the first issue hit.

Thoughts?

The Other Family

So, I was over on Every Day Is Like Wednesday the other day, where Caleb had a great blog really just savaging most of the newspaper comic strips that are published these days. In the comments section, it was pointed out that the only time Family Circus strips are funny is basically when people edit the captions to totally warp the meaning.

The Other Family is a site where such strips are collected. That site is not for everyone. The humor can really test your limits of what you find funny.

But some are real winners. Not many could really sneak by being displayed here, but here's two fairly tame ones:


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SCHWAPP!!! Is Proud To Sponsor The Bendis Boards


So I started advertising on the Bendis Boards earlier today...

Update1: Well, my money is no good there. They've canceled my sponsoring of their site, but did it with humor this time. The current winning bid has alternative text that says, "go somewhere else why don'tcha?" Of course, it is paying considerably less than I was paying. C'est la vie.

Update2: HA. Apparently, whoever outbid my ad for no apparent reason is stalking my Project Wonderful ad buys. Right after the comment below about my money being welcome there, someone decided to outbid me with an ad that points to a YouTube video and alt text that says, "what was that again?" Oh...won't this be fun...

Update3: Out of respect for the man and his board that is giving me hours of entertainment with an ad-bidding war, might I suggest buying some of the best work from Brian Michael Bendis:




Personally, I highly recommend Torso and Fortune & Glory. I read Torso all in one sitting while flying to Barbados and F&G was a damn funny read.

Update 4: It is a little silly, at this point, that our mystery Bendis Board ad-bidder has followed me to three different sites to try to get rid of my advertising.

Final Update: It seems that my ad-stalker has had their fun and moved on. Could have had something to do with my backing off bids just enough for them to have the highest possible winning bid and didn't want to get stuck paying $60+/day just to keep me from advertising.

My sincerest apologies to our friends over Secret Society Wars for daily ad rates not staying up at their highest levels for just a little bit longer. It does seem that it just might have helped give a residual bump to your rates, though. And, hey, that ain't a bad thing.

Wait Just One Second Update: Genius is back with another animal flavored banner. The alt-text says "Still here." OK, now...anyone who wants to say no one cares is CLEARLY wrong. ;)

The Joke Isn't On Who They Think: My ad-sniping stalker's latest animal banner with a message says, "was it worth it?" Seeing as how this stalker's pockets don't seem deep enough to push on the more important and more expensive ads lately, I think the question should be pointed in their direction. They're failing to realize that many of their targets now aren't the ones with the best cost/click ratio, either. Which would be part of why I keep walking their bids up to the highest level and leaving them footing the bill.

Scream Factory Does WWChicago

Scream Factory will apparently be at Wizard World Chicago in force.

They're bringing Robert Kurtzman, special effects legend.

They're bringing Sean Patrick Flanery, star of Boondock Saints and the upcoming movie based on the SF property, BUMP.

They're bringing Jesse Blaze Snider, hit sensation from MTV's Rock The Cradle and writer of SF property, STRANGELAND.

They're all featured guests, too.

I'm just wondering if Jesse will be bellying up to the bar this year. Hanging out with him and the rest of the gang that went on to form Scream Factory was one of the highlights of the con last year. Of course, Troy Brownfield thought the highlight of the night was tied between the Koben Kelly saga and my bar tab.

When The Two Of Us Can Even Agree...

Occasional Superheroine: Titans: Should Be/Is

The Titans relaunch is shite? Check.
The T&A reaches ridiculous levels? Check.
The book looks like something that crawled out of the 90s? Check.
It basically needs a completely different creative team (and possibly editorial team) to become anything better? Check.

Oh...and not that anyone cares what I think...but I feel like Valerie's doing a pretty good job lately. I can even see that she's letting very vocal disagreement with her come through in the comments section, so it seems clear she's using moderation for the best intentions now.

Classic SNL Super-Hero Party



Via Blogging Away In LA (if not for Ivan, I wouldn't have realized this was available on Hulu)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Final Crisis: Grant Morrison's Interview At Newsarama

Over at Newsarama, Grant gives an interview about Final Crisis in general, but I want to pick apart where he talked about how Countdown and Death of the New Gods fail to mesh with Final Crisis.

Final Crisis was partly-written and broken down into rough issue-by-issue plots before Countdown was even conceived, let alone written. And J.G. was already working on designs and early layouts by the time Countdown started. There wasn’t really much opportunity, or desire, to modify our content at that stage.

OK, I'm just going to leave that there for now. Well, alright...I can't resist pointing out that layouts are nothing set in stone. It's really not a defense of why things couldn't match up so well (not that Grant needs a defense here).

Obviously, I would have preferred it if the New Gods hadn’t been spotlighted at all, let alone quite so intensively before I got a chance to bring them back but I don’t run DC and don’t make the decisions as to how and where the characters are deployed.

You know, when I first read this, it read more like, "I asked them to leave the New Gods alone until my Final Crisis work," but it now seems more like he just expected that DC would see the pieces he was using in Final Crisis and try to leave them exactly where they were rather than risk messing things up. I'd still put the onus on editorial to possibly double check that their work on the lead up to Final Crisis is actually leading up to it, rather than shooting it in the foot.

GM: Again, bear in mind that Countdown only finished last month so Final Crisis was already well underway long before Countdown and although I’ve tried to avoid contradicting much of the twists and turns of that book as I can with the current Final Crisis scripts, the truth is, we were too far down the road of our own book to reflect everything that went on in Countdown, hence the disconnects that online commentators, sadly, seem to find more fascinating than the stories themselves.

All well and good. One bit of advice to Grant Morrison regarding his last sentence: get over it. Look, you're a great writer and I'm sure you're about to tell a great story. But you're pretty damn well aware that the DC Universe line of books have quite a bit of continuity. I'm sure you're fairly aware that DC sold Countdown as setting the table for Final Crisis. If DC sold us a product at least partially by convincing us it tied into another, more attractive product, the we're going to be a bit distracted by that, regardless of how well you executed your ideas.

And here is where I call a bit of shenanigans:

GM: What mattered to me was what had already been written, drawn or plotted in Final Crisis. The Guardians didn’t call 1011 when Lightray and the other gods died in Countdown because, again, Final Crisis was already underway before Countdown came out.

C'mon now, Grant. You have a good enough case for all of this not being your fault without making shit up. Lightray died in Countdown #48. Are you telling me that you and JG Jones were in a "there's no going back now" position back then? Bullshit. Pure, unadulterated bullshit. It was approximately the same time that Barda and that other character got killed in Birds of Prey. You weren't put in a position where you couldn't do anything to reflect that.

There wasn’t really much opportunity, or desire, to modify our content at that stage.

You had PLENTY of opportunity here, just no desire. And that's fine. But don't plead that it was impossible when it was clearly just uncomfortable or unattractive. I'm pretty sure I'm going to enjoy this version of the mini more than I'd enjoy whatever you would have had to morph it into in order to accommodate all the stuff that Countdown and Death of the New Gods did.

I mean, doesn't the following settle the issue just fine without exaggerating the circumstances:

The way I see it readers can choose to spend the rest of the year fixating on the plot quirks of a series which has ended, or they can breathe a sight of relief, settle back and enjoy the shiny new DC universe status quo we’re setting up in the pages of Final Crisis and its satellite books. I’m sure both of these paths to enlightenment will find adherents of different temperaments.

Of course, there's a little exaggeration there, too. It's been a few weeks since the first issue came out. Is there really anything that ridiculous about initially venting some frustration over how this company that's been selling the idea that they've got such a cohesive universe with an amazing plan in place goes and violates all of that cohesion after sucking out 52 issues worth of their money for the DC Universe spine? It is a little early to suggest that a group of a size worth noting is going to still be bitching and moaning in a few months.

Quote of the interview, though:

Once you’ve had the image of Dr. Light hammering away at Sue Dibny’s ruptured rear end burned into your neurons, it’s hard to write him as one more cackling gimmick villain.

Alrighty, then. ;)

JUDENHASS: My Biased Take On The Book

So, Dave Sim has come out with JUDENHASS, the work that some in the blogosphere seemed to be waiting with baited breath for over the last few months and are falling all over themselves to compliment (even if they're no fan of Sim due to his misogynistic tendencies).

While I was interested to see what this would turn out to be and felt it had potential to be a great work, I'm not going to be heaping praise on it. This comes with a bit of potential bias on my part, because one of the first pages I saw (through accident of how my copy tended to flutter open on its own) contained his quoting a hadith that had Muhammad saying the end of times would see inanimate objects yelling out to muslims to kill the Jews that were hiding behind them.

First of all, he is quoting a hadith. There are many hadiths. Unlike the Quran (or Koran, if you like...either spelling is just as good as the other), hadiths are not infallible. They have not been controlled and kept from being changed and perverted like the Holy Quran. Many were compiled after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In fact, many muslims believe that false hadiths were planted by Cabalist Jews in what was more or less a form of psychological warfare. An Islam with its followers divided in arguments over religious texts would be less of a threat than a united one.

But the most important part, taken into account with the first point, is that it wasn't the full quote:

"Judgment day shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, whereas the Jews will hide behind trees and stones, and the tree and the stone will speak and say, 'Muslim, behind me is a Jew; come and kill him,' except for the al-Ghargad tree, which is a Jewish plant."

The end of that quote points to its likelihood of being false. Muslims believe that God has dominion over all. There can be no plant created by man that God doesn't have ultimate control over. In fact, many muslims tend to avoid saying man created anything; where a westerner might say man created a vaccine for polio, a muslim would say man FOUND a vaccine. Why? Because God created everything that was, is, and ever will be. Man just finds God's creations through his hard work.

So, it was with the misfortune of finding this quote before getting to sit down to read the rest of the book that I was already soured on Mr. Sim's approach. He already demonstrated ignorance in his attempt to create a book that he hoped to use to enlighten. God does work in mysterious ways, but I tend to doubt the ability of the ignorant to bring about enlightenment of their own intention.

It didn't help to read what I felt was a backcover full of pretentiousness:

"I decided some time ago that the term anti-Semitism (a 'coined' term of late nineteenth century origin) is completely inadequate to the abhorrent cultural phenomenon which it attempts to describe. For one thing, Arabs are Semites as well and the prejudice as it is generally understood certainly doesn't apply equally to Arabs and Jews."

Well, for one thing, I wouldn't really call it a "cultural phenomenon". But, putting that aside, many before Sim realized that the term was grossly misapplied. To people that have ever understood the word, rather than just having it introduced into their vocabulary by news reports, it has almost been comical to see how many times an Arab muslim or a Palestinian have been referred to as anti-semitic.

"It was in the early stages of researching this graphic narrative that I first encountered the German term judenhass. Literally Jew Hatred. It seemed to me that the term served to distil (sic) the ancient problem to its essence, and in such a way as to hopefully allow other non-Jews (like myself) to see the problem 'unlaundered' and through fresh eyes."

Ah yes. Semantics. That's always been the problem. The wrong choice of vocabulary. Through common use, anti-semitism has almost always been taken to be about hatred or prejudice against the Jews. But Sim's attempt to introduce judenhass into the vernacular is going to be what helps wrap peoples' brains around this problem?

It was at that point that I started to get the feeling that Dave Sim isn't so misogynist. He just has a God complex of sorts where he gives men a slight bit more benefit of the doubt in regards to their potentially being deities as well. I really get the feeling that he's writing this book because there'd be no hatred for Jews in the world if people just read his thoughts (or, more accurately, quotes of hate he's gathered from various literature).

The book doesn't start out on great footing in between the covers, either. His first statement is that he feels that ever creative person should do a work about "the shoah - the preferred Judaic term for the Holocaust - at some point in his or her life". It immediately creates a feeling that he's trying to force his opinion on the reader rather than attempt to enlighten them. I really think that's counter-productive to getting people onboard with what the implied intent of this book is.

"The Shoah was done to Jews - and yes, to others as well. But the fact that "to others as well"has become a universal interjection when the subject of the Holocaust comes up, it seems to me, points to a central and malignant evasiveness on the part of non-Jews."

Really? I don't know, I'd think that homosexuals would prefer that their plight was remembered, as well. I'd, also, think it might be beneficial to remember that it happened to others besides the Jews for a pretty good reason:

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

Call me crazy, but if one of your concerns is making sure that nothing remotely like the Shoah ever happens again (and Sim expresses just such a concern), you'd want to remind people that it likely won't just stop with that group that they are unaffiliated with. You'd, also, not want to suggest that anyone making sure to include the others who suffered in the Holocaust is a passive carrier of judenhass.

There's a bit from Sim that perplexes me.

"Jewish remembrance of Shoah, distilled to its essence of 'Never Again' implies the self-preservation of the life of not only each individual Jew wherever he or she lives, but of all of God's chosen people wherever their collective continued existence is threatened"

"Never Again", when in reference to the Holocaust, would seem to quite obviously be about more than individual self-preservation. To include this bit seems to be stretching for original written content. For lack of a better term, it is a bit redundant and certainly pointing out the obvious. It really serves no greater purpose in the book. If Sim had really contributed much of his own actual writing to this book, an editor might have asked him to trim that out or rephrase it.

In addition to that issue with the quote, it always perplexes me when an outsider to Judaism refers to Jews as "God's chosen people" without some form of modifier. To put a modifier on it, though, would make it sound clunky and quite possibly lead to others wondering why he couldn't offer the phrase up without qualifying it. There's a chance that he chose to use the phrase just out of need for variety, seeing as how there's only so many ways to refer to the Jewish peoples.

Still, it came off weird, just as it would be strange to see a non-muslim refer to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the seal of the prophets or the Quran as a miraculous, infallible document in a way that implies it as fact. Again, pointing out to the reader that Jews consider themselves to be God's chosen people isn't likely to be a tact that rallies more to the cause of their defense. That makes it seem illogical to include the contention here out of anything but necessity.

In going over this book, which Sim seemed to profess was such an important labor to him, I can't help but notice how he seems to have done very minimal work on it. That isn't to say that the art isn't impressive. But in going over this book with a critical (somewhat cynical, given the circumstances) eye, I can't help but notice how often he does one large page of original work and uses it through at least 2-3 pages in some areas through selective copying and pasting. Given how much of the "narrative" is just Sim's cutting and pasting quotes, that's a bit apropos, yet still a bit disappointing.

Other than the above issues, everything else seems like a nitpick. Putting quotes around the illegal in an issue of illegal immigration in Palestine where two Jews were being deported for having quite illegally trying to permanently immigrate there by overstaying their tourist visas in order to make the British look as bad as their home country that refused their return is a stretch. Framing US Army Guards who returned a boat-jumping Jewish refugee to their ship when it docked for refueling in Norfolk, VA, as evil seems just as much of a stretch. It gives the book a bit of a feeling of a high school student writing a paper the night before it is due in class, scrambling to use any passable info possible to pad for length.

I really think that is one of the biggest problems I had with the quotes and history he uses here. I'm sure Sim could have easily used more hard evidence of how prejudiced members of our government helped to deny applications for immigration to our country from Jews. He could have used more of the dehumanizing quotes from members of the Nazi party. But quoting a cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt saying something "anti-semitic"? Really?

The Shoah was a terrible event. We can not be reminded enough that we can never let something like that happen again. In trying to do his part, Sim puts out a book for sale that is not only padded with ill-fitting quotes, notes and citations, but padded with stretching one image out for multiple pages (not panels). I've never seen someone take so many shortcuts while attempting to do something for the greater good of society. That he spent nearly as much time patting himself on the back for this book as he seemed to spend putting it together is such a shame.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

SCHWAPP!!! Encore: Black Adam: The Dark Age Review

One of my weaker attempts to put more of a multimedia twist on my vlogging. Still, it reviews the whole of the Black Adam: The Dark Age back when it was only available in single issues. Now it is out in a paperback form, is still a great piece of work by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, and still carries a SCHWAPP!!! guarantee that you'll love it.



Friday, June 06, 2008

Fun With Press Releases: Wizard World Chicago Needs A Dictionary

Wizard has sent out their latest press release for Wizard World Chicago.

Wizard World Chicago will feature a very rare appearance by Alex Ross on Saturday. Wizard World, the largest family-friendly comics and pop culture convention in the central US, returns to Chicago June 26-29 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. For more information and to purchase advance tickets, please visit www.wizardworld.com.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but he appears at Wizard World Chicago every single year, because it is in his backyard. The only thing that changes about his appearances are who "sponsors" him driving into the city from the suburbs.

And so very rare that he was at NYCC about four months ago.

Someone there needs to be disabused of the notion that an annual appearance that is actually the second convention appearance of the year can qualify as rare, let alone very rare.

Update: As pointed out to me by a friend and the comment below, Alex Ross has a booth for his artwork to be sold by others every year but doesn't put didn't put in any official appearances at the con for years.

It's Not Sexist If It's In A Song

I dare you to watch this video once or twice and then see if you're not sing-songing in your head, "show me your genitals...your genitals...show me your genitals...GENITALIA!"

Go on...I dare ya.

Secret Invasion: What's The Point Of Paying For It?

The humorously named "AnalSurprise" posited the most interesting complaint on the new Newsarama about $4/issue Secret Invasion, a great number of preview pages, and heavy-on-the-spoilers discussions with creators the day after the issue hits:


http://comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=16695

Can someone tell me what is the point of *purchasing* these books anymore? I believe I will actually skip the rest of Secret Invasion and just read this column instead. Then buy the collected series as a book if it turns out it was good.

Anyone else feel way too much is being given away for free via the previews & columns like these? They're not even saving the big moments for the legitimate buyers -- every significant moment in the book is given away online for free, legally... including the last page, if you can believe that.

(To say nothing of the fact that the entire article is so obviously pandering to Bendis & Marvel, you'd think it was written by Bendis himself.)

He has a point. A lot of the pages are being shown, in addition to the web-traffic-generating, spoiler-heavy items masquerading as articles (trust me, I know about spoilers-for-ratings), and the prices are only going up.

What do you all think?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Brand New Newsarama?

OK, I posted this briefly the other night before deciding to take it down only minutes later. Then I saw the following post from Matt Brady:

whoever said that the new boards would be populated with the "I'm leaving!" threads, consider yourself a prophet.

The rest - trust me, everything is being worked on. Everything.

That made me feel a little more comfortable nitpicking about the change.

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It's been about 24 hours since the debut of Newsarama 2.0. A few thoughts...

  • I closed my account in February. I still received an e-mail from the moderators at Imaginova about migrating my account to the new boards. As far as I know, my closed account shouldn't look that much different than someone who had their account closed involuntarily. Translation: the mods might be inadvertently advertising to past trolls that it is open season to come back to the new boards.
  • The front page of Newsarama is showing even more articles that have nothing to do with comic books than before the Beta. I really fear that they're working at being the jack of all trades and the master of none.
  • Back to their board transition; man, has it been bad. The majority of people who let Imaginova handle the transition of accounts were unable to login to the site, it appears. It makes it look as though basic quality assurance steps were missed and that the move was rushed.
  • Anecdotally speaking, there are many regulars from the Newsarama boards who aren't taking well to the change from vBulletin to Pluck. Some of them seem to be relocating to CBR, where the old, familiar board software is alive and well. Naysayers are suggesting that if the litany of improvements requested for Pluck haven't been implemented by now, they won't be anytime soon. I did read that Pluck has been bought by another company, so maybe hope is alive.
When you think about it, many more people view Newsarama on a daily basis than post there. I'm sure Newsarama will be fine, but I can't help but think they'll lose some ground to CBR.

Whatever number they lose due to the message board changes just seems to be due to a distinct miscalculation. You can force a change that brings all of your employees on to the same platform for convenience of maintenance and support, but it isn't exactly wise to try to force your audience to make such a change for your convenience without an obvious benefit to the end user.