Monthly Archives: February 2011

Image Addiction Review: Savage Dragon #169

Cover of Savage Dragon #169

As usual I review the new issue of Savage Dragon over at Image Addiction. Here’s what I had to say:

“There is always one issue of a comic book series that is all about catching up and re-iterating the status quo. These instances can be risky though because they walk a fine line between good and bad, and it is easy for a writer to make a breather issue boring by filling the page space with plain exposition. Luckily, Erik Larsen is better than this because Savage Dragon #169 allows room for breathing but also does not loose much momentum…”

You can read the rest HERE.

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No Clever Title Needed

No specific point to make nor any actual essay, but instead a general blog post containing a handful of random thoughts. Everyone does one of these at times. Why not me?


Dwayne McDuffie passed away this week. I’ve never been a fan –  not that his comics were bad, I just have not read many of them – but I still felt an effect. We all did, really. That’s the thing about comics and the industry and the community around it. It is so intimate.  When an event occurs or news drops, we all respond in some manner. We all look around at each other through the various internet outlets, expecting a few words. Creators communicate with other creators. Critics to critics. Fans to fans. And all of these words, these respones are visible to everyone around. The culture of comics is tightknit. I may not be familiar with the work of Dwayne McDuffie like most are, but I still felt the impact of his loss. Twitter blew up (rightly so) with many very kind thoughts. The responses from industry professionals had to be the hardest to read. I quickly gained a sense of the man in a short period of time. He was loved by many, and he truly did add to the creative landscape. The most interesting bit about him passed a long Twitter that day had to be this video.

For someone like myself, who knew his name to a degree but not much else, this video really does a great job of telling you what the man was about. A guy after a good story and diversity in comics. Two concepts I can certainly get behind. From what most professionals said about the man, it seemed McDuffie was the type to speak up for what he believed in, yet he could also walk the walk as he did actually do the work, bringing what he believed to life. Milestone, the comics publisher he help found, was the key example of that. McDuffie seemed like a classy dude.


The Mountain Goats are close to releasing a new LP entitled All Eternals Deck. Last night they preformed a new song, “Birth of Serpents,” on Lettermen. It was a cool performance, and I am excited for some new Mountain Goats. Check it out.


I usually grow tired of the “physical media is dead” conversation (Print Still Cool), but PopMatters ran an interesting enough piece this week. I simply just want to reccommend reading the article; a conversation cannot really take place unless it is read. I will say though that what makes this one different is that the author of the article tends to stay away from the “future arguement.” Rather than claiming CDs as dinosaur stuff, he takes more of a critical approach, pointing out the flaws of the format. Oddly, I found this an interesting enough arguement for the death of CDs. The author had a few valid points. Plus, the criticism was not limited to only CDs or Vinyl; MP3s were dissected too.

Overall, it contains a few points worth a thought. Check it out here.


A great column from Mr. Tim Callahan this week over at CBR discussing Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Tim’s thoughts on comics as a reader. I feel Tim brings up some points I have felt myself before. The idea that the world just throws way too much at us anymore. All of this media constantly being thrown in our face, wanting to be consumed, and because of this a question comes to mind: do we fully appreciate anything anymore? Do we ever slow down and focus?

As for the idea of whether or not everything produced (comics wise) packs substance, I do not feel I could say comics are necessarily lacking. There are more than a few books coming out currently that I feel offer more than the typical cliches. Comics still suck me in more than anything else, and that is because of the substance I find in their stories and artwork.

It’s a good read, whether you’re a comics fan or not. Read here.


I’ve been having fun with this blog so far, and I hope anyone reading has found it at least some what interesting. I know I am certainly not one of the best bloggers online and that my skill as a writer probably lacks, but I have enjoyed this experience and will continue to do so as long as it continues. I’m not sure how you the reader feel about it, so if you are reading this please feel free to leave a comment. I would appreciate it. Again, I know I’m not a cool site like iFanboy or something, but I feel I am offering something here. I would like to hear from you.



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Missed Opportunity: Nick Spencer Writing Supergirl

Supergirl #60 is certainly a tease.  At least it was for me because I have become a pretty big Nick Spencer supporter over the past few months.

 Early on though, I never paid him much attention, and I even kind of disliked Nick Spencer. He was this guy who hit the scene with all of these mini series from Image Comics, and most of them just gave off this vibe of “movie pitch.” At least to me. I saw a book with a Nick Spencer credit on it, and I immediately rolled my eyes. Who was this guy? He just popped up, playing in the medium I treasure the most, and in very little time he picked up a movie option for his Existence 2.0/3.0 series.  What the hell? Was this guy just in it to score Hollywood deals? I had to investigate. Sadly after a purchase of Shuddertown, my opinion did not brighten. The writing was fine looking back on it, but the artwork? I am sorry, but Adam Green did not help me love a Nick Spencer comic. More like it, he only strengthened my “Mr. Hollywood” idea. Green used a lot of photo reference, making Shuddertown a book staring Keanu Reeves, James Gandolfini and Giovanni Ribisi. Maybe that idea would be cool if done intentionally, but I was not feeling that intention. Shuddertown dropped low on my list, and Nick Spencer followed. Boom, shut the door – I was done with Nick Spencer.

Page from Shuddertown #3

But then came Morning Glories, and like the rest of the internet my ears perked up. It was a book that certainly hit hard because of its mystery appeal, but what I found most important was its voice. Right out of the blue, from a guy still relatively new, came this comic that sounded so bold. The first issue packed this excellent vibe of generational confrontation, and Spencer amped that through his style of storytelling. It was like this guy just showed up and said, “Hey, I love Grant Morrison and Bendis.” I mean, that’s how his comics read, but even still I am seeing some other angle to his work as it progresses. Like there is this bit of “Spencerism” emerging. I cannot describe it, but I just find it absolutely exciting to see a guy come into comics and with only one year under his belt already carry a strong authorial voice. He is not just another comics writer producing the standard; he is a comics writer who has things to write about. That is refreshing and important because I feel most comic book writers just come in to tell a story. Nick Spencer certainly tells stories, exciting ones, but the guy also lines his stuff with actual ideas. For one, there is that generational divide. The concept of the youth wanting to do things their way, to prove the adults wrong and show them how it is done, but find that task not so easily accomplished. I see that idea in Morning Glories, but also T.H.U.N.D.E.R.Agents. Technology and its hold on our daily lives? Look toward Infinite Vacation. Granted, it is early in his career and some of these books have only just begun, but I seriously already see these concepts as Spencer’s ground of interest. It is a nice touch, and it makes his books feel important but also interconnected.

Cover of Morning Glories #1 - 4th Printing

I cannot remember why I actually pre-ordered Morning Glories – as typed, I was done with Spencer – but I am so glad I did because that first issue went FAST.  Without my act of pre-ordering, Morning Glories probably would have been lost on me, and I think that would also be the case for Spencer’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R.Agents, Infinite Vacation and this issue of Supergirl.

Which would be a total shame because all those comics are great, even yes, this ONE issue of Supergirl.

What makes it great is what I highlighted above: the Spencer voice. When I think back on it, Supergirl has never been a character to hold my interest. I doubt I have ever picked up a book because she was in it, nor have I really read much of her. Why? To me it did not seem like the character had much to offer. For the time I have been reading comics, Supergirl has been through many changes and her book really has not held a definition. The Supergirl title has just been a part of the Superman line, offering nothing else really. Granted, I know the Sterling Gates run is held rather positively, but I have not read it and really I do not feel inclined to. From what I have heard, it kind of seems like another superhero book. I have read plenty of those. When Nick Spencer was added to the equation though, I was all ears. Again, he is a writer with a voice, and after hearing him talk about his plans for the book on Word Balloon and CBR, I was really excited because what he described seemed like an excellent approach to Supergirl. Plus, the Spencer interests I noted earlier…those would work well on an adolescent superhero.

Issue number sixty of Supergirl brings all of that excitement to life. You read it and it certainly is Metropolis and Kara Zor-El, but it is also very Nick Spencer. Those interests, those concepts Spencer seems to play with are all in that issue and they blend so well with the subject. Supergirl is that youth figure Spencer likes to focus on , but what makes her even more striking is the symbol she represents. The character, wearing the “S” shield and being a part of the Superman family, has something to live up to. That sense of pressure but also responsibility inherently makes her a figure of youth who has something to prove. I think Spencer really shows this well by pitting Kara against four fairly well-known Superman villains. Rather than providing the character with joke threats, Spencer puts her in front of guys capable of knocking Superman down. Kara puts up a fight though. She may not completely succeed, but she does get in a few good hits. Which is important because it shows that the character is trying to be influential or at least that she’s not a push over. Spencer makes Kara this character who wants to represent the “S” symbol well, and show that she is capable of doing the job well.

Panel from Supergirl #60

I also like the roll of technology in the issue, which is again another Spencer interest. Yeah, it’s very Social Network-y, but I think the main attraction of the Alex character is his use of technology as the villain. For one, Alex is a very cool, kind of “I know all”, quiet bad guy. For the most part, every time we see him he is just sitting at a dinner table, tapping on his cell phone, but when the character speaks Spencer shapes his dialogue in a very “Aaron Sorkin/Mark Zukerberg” way. Every line the character drops is spot on, and it always feels like the character is manipulating the situation, or that he is almost more aware of it than the other characters. It is affective, but more important than that is the tech aspect. I just really dig the idea of Supergirl against technology. Why? Supergirl is an adolescent, and it is the case nowadays for adolescents to be constantly bombarded by computers and the internet. Really, the same thing is happening to Supergirl in this issue; a villain is basically using his iPhone against her, to manipulate her. I think that is very much a social comment by Spencer, but it is also an interesting angle at which to explore the superhero genre. What if superheroes had to fight the internet? Or better yet, what if the internet was giving superheroes privacy issues? I just find that an exciting idea for a sense of evil in a superhero comic, especially when it is applied to a teenage character because then I feel it is even more relevant.

So there it is. My excitement and expectation was met, maybe surpassed. In that one issue, I felt Nick Spencer made Supergirl matter, and he brought along his bag of interests to throw around the character in able to explore them a bit more. More importantly, Supergirl #60 was a superhero book with a voice rather than just a collection of the usual story pages.

But wait? Nick Spencer did not write the next issue, number sixty-one. Oh yeah,  he left the book…

Or was it more like DC took him off? I mean, I do not really have any substantial evidence that DC actually took him off rather than him leaving on his own, but the vibe I get suggests to me that they did. For one, Spencer did offer two tweets the day the announcement of his leaving was made, and those tweets did not read like it was his decision.

@nickspencer Okay all, breaking some bad news today– I won’t be doing SUPERGIRL after all.

@nickspencer But hey, nobody cry for me! All kinds of cool stuff coming up in 2011, so stay tuned and all that.

(For the actual tweets, click the above links.)

The word choices of “after all” and “nobody cry for me” suggest to me that leaving Supergirl was not his decision. Plus, there were no other comments from Spencer about the situation. If he had decided to leave on his own, would you not think he may have come out and explained that? The entire situation just rang odd to me, especially when Spencer was just talking about his Supergirl run the day before on CBR. The guy sounded excited for this run.

Cover of Supergirl #61

But yeah, for some reason Nick Spencer only penned issue sixty, and I think that is very disappointing because issue sixty-one is a bit below the standard of awesome set in the previous issue. Honestly, I was not even going to bother with the first James Peaty issue, but for the sake of writing this post I wanted to at least give Peaty’s take a chance. I picked it up, went into it with a clear head, but still I kind of found the disappointment I expected. Granted, it is not bad. The issue has some enjoyable moments, Peaty does carry over some of the “Spencerisms” I mentioned earlier, but the voice and style of it all is just missing. The key example has to be the Alex character. As typed previously, Alex of issue sixty was a quiet, manipulative villain who carried a vibe that he was cooler and more sophisticated than the traditional comic book bad guy. James Peaty takes all of that away though and turns Alex into the traditional villain. His version of the character talks much more, and I half expect him to just off on the usual rant about “how he will stop Supergirl!”

To be fair though, there was one scene in Peaty’s issue I did enjoy and that was the Lois Lane/Supergirl scene. Spencer did setup Lois in his issue to have more of an active role. He brought out the journalistic side of her, reminding us of the “go get’em” attitude the character can have and using that to create an extra force of good in the story. Peaty does carry that over, and I felt he wrote it fairly well. He keeps the journalism aspect tied in through Lois discussing research with Supergirl but also having Lois show up in the book in a news helicopter. I really liked that bit. Like some superhero, Lois shows up out of the sky carrying this sense of mission. Like Supergirl, Lois also represents something. It may not be the Superman symbol, but it still is the media or more importantly the freedom of the press and the duty to inform the people. So, I have to give James Peaty a little credit. It was a nice scene.

The issue overall does not compare to Spencer’s though, and it is because Peaty’s issue lacks a voice. Again, it is not a bad comic book, but it does not stray far past the standard. When I look at the situation surrounding this title, I just shake my head and wonder “why?” If DC did remove Nick Spencer, what were they thinking? No offense toward James Peaty, but Spencer is a pretty hot up-and-comer in comics right now and his writing is certainly stronger than most. I mean, DC had him. They HAD him. How could they just loose him? Did they not want their Supergirl book written by someone who has that much attention on them right now? Or better yet, did they not want such a distinct voice writing one of their books?

It is just so odd to me, especially when one issue of Spencer’s run does exist. Just compare the Spencer issue to the James Peaty issue and feel that new found perspective you gain. The thought of what could have been is kind of  unsettling.

Oh well, I guess another general superhero book cannot hurt anything.

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The Success of Chew

Does this title sound familiar?

For anyone who has followed my previous online exploits, I am sure you may remember my previous attempt at discussing Chew. If not, do not worry. It was a mess. An essay  inspired by conspiracy theories and a need to mudrake, the original Chew essay was a prime example of an angry, ill-informed comics fan.  I was young (younger), and I had a beef against Chew. For some reason, possibly just plain old aversion, I could not agree with the majority opinion of the book. Everyone loved Chew, and I did not. I saw this as my opening, my chance to really grab some attention. I wished to strike a chord across the internet cosmos. I felt like my opinion had a lasting impact. I felt the need to grab the public by the throat and shake their foundations clean. I did not agree with Chew, and I needed to make this clear. I wrote my essay, and I made it loud. The blog post was made, the link was spread. My work was done. Soon, the internet would come calling my name, holding me up high as the next great personailty in comics whatever.

And, boy, did it get attention. Just not the kind I wanted.

Cover - Chew #12

The Chew essay quickly became  a great example of what was wrong with the comics internet. A manifesto backed only by anger and loose facts, it was a piece that tried to delve into the behind-the-scenes aspects of the book’s success, citing its well-doing because of favoritism and hype. Really, this was not the case but instead my imagination and bias against the book – a bias only developed in order to derive attention. People ran with it, though. The link to my blog was spread and suddenly the comics internet knew me as the angry Chew hater. Even the series artist, Rob Guillory, read my essay and quickly delivered a response, correcting me of my errors and sharing the actual details of the story.

Simply said, in the matter of one afternoon, my perspective on myself and the comics internet experienced a radical…experience. It would take some time and some growing up to truly look back and learn from it, but the effect was certainly felt at the moment of publishing.

In hindsight, I see the errors of my way.

1.)     I should have never felt the need to write something only for the sake of attention .

2.)    I should have actually done the research.

3.)    And, finally, the only way to really judge a comic book is by looking at the work itself.

The third point is the most important, and probably how I should have approached Chew to begin with. The actual work is what matters.. That was the major mistake of my take on Chew, and now I feel it is time to return to the subject and properly explain why I believe Chew has connected with so many readers.

And, hey, don’t worry. I’ve done my reading, and this time I plan to stick strictly to the book itself.

Page from Chew #12

So, let’s break it down. Off the bat, Chew makes a nice first impression by use of its high concept and unique identity: guy eats food, food provides guy with information and the information either helps him solve a crime or seriously grosses him out. It’s a creative concept that builds the intial interest of the audience, as all concept pitches should. Chew is in an even better place, though, because its concept is so unique. The concept is certainly one not heard of before, and it carries a strong ability to make a potential reader stop and think.

All comic books need to carry that sense of identity. So many books are published , yet so many look the same. If you do not believe me, then you should just pick up a Previews Catalog. With this the environment, it is so easy for a book to get lost in the maelstrom and fail. Not Chew, though. This book has the strong sense of identity, and it easily sticks out in either Previews or on the shelf. The title, the concept, the art, the design…they all carry a unique quality, and they all work to gain interest, pulling readers in for a test drive.

The true success of the book becomes apparant upon reading, though. The high-concept certainly adds to the reading experience as it does in identity, but Chew also carries a quality of consistancy. The book is written in a style similar to a sitcom. If I may, the setup:

Take a normal, everyday idea – the show is about a family – yet mix it up with a very out of the ordinary beat – but the family lives on the moon.

Take a normal, everyday idea – Chew is about a cop named Tony Chu – yet mix it up with a very out of the ordinary beat – but Tony Chu is a cibopath. 

It is very sitcom in its approach. Layman and Guillory establish this setup, and they simply hold onto it. With each issue they keep the concept at the core while mixing in a blance of humor, drama and underlying points. Each issue is a complete package holding a consistant tone, and you know what, I feel that is a very smart move. Commercially speaking.

The book provides a sense of dependable comfort to its audience. Every month readers know what to expect of Chew, and every month it delivers just that. Comic fans love this sort of thing. We, by our very nature, love to see the things we enjoy repeated. If we enjoy a specific take on Batman, well, that is the take we will most likely always want to see.

Even as human beings we seek consistancy in our daily lives. We enjoy the routine, and we enjoy the assurance of knowing what to expect. Chew, as well as television sitcoms, tap into that structurally. Now, yes, specfic events do vary in each issue of Chew. The story can offers twists and surprises, but I am speaking in terms of structure and tone. On that level, Chew is basically the same each issue. Going in,  a reader knows that Tony Chu will eat something disgusting, just as Applebee will yell, Amelia will warm Tony’s heart and and John will make us laugh. Those are the book’s components, and Layman and Guillory keep them turning. What Tony Chu eats may vary with each issue, yes,  but when you boil it down Tony still eats.   

This consistancy is what hooks readers in and seeds their love for the series. It’s comfort food in comic book form. On a commercial level, that is a great quality to have. When something is comfortable for an audience, they are most likely to never let go. As stated, we love consistancy in our lives, and I feel that transfers right over to our entertainment. I have to respect Chew for that because the book does what most corporate forms of entertainment wish to. The book provides a nice experience that services an audience and brings them back with each installment.

Page from Chew #1

I do not want to down play Chew as the “comfort food” comic, though. I do like Chew. Upon a recent re-reading of the entire series, I found myself enjoying my time. Why had I not before? I feel my reason for previous dislike spawned from the habit of reading comics month-to-month. As described, Chew, at least to me, reads about the same each month. I tend to not enjoy books of that vain. I like comics that mix it up, or at least pack an energy in each issue. I was not getting that from Chew as I intially read it. Reading the series as the larger piece, though, the single issue does not need to be the focus. Suddenly, I could look past the usual beats and see the larger narrative. Suddenly, I could see what Chew was doing, and what it was about. Suddenly, I kind of liked Chew.

It certainly is still not at the top of my stack, but it is a good comic. Objectively, it is a well written, well oiled machine. Very formulaic, but masterful of the formula, Chew handles its specific elements with grace and confidence, and Layman, as the writer, does a nice job pacing his story in the long form. Each arc, always five issues in length, adds a little bit more to the overall story, and each arc creates a nice sense of building. The characters are progressing at a comfortable rate. The ideas of the book are fun and interesting. The artwork is great to look at.

Simply said, Chew is a good comic book, which is ultimately the most important reason for its success. Yeah, it doesn’t push the medium in anyway, but hey, not every comic can. Sometimes the industry needs those consistant pieces, those bits of comfort food. That’s Chew, and it does a nice job of it.

So whatever the “behind the scenes extras” are, Chew seems to be the Cinderella Story it is because of what it does right. Where other comics fail, Chew picks up the pieces and establishes an identity, a consistancy and just offers an enjoyable experience. True, the book is not my ideal example of a comic book, but I can still respect it and understand its success.

So, yeah, I don’t hate Chew.

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It’s a Good Time

Moon Knight art from Alex Maleev

Yes it is. As someone who holds a strong appreciation for the Moon Knight character, right now is a great time to be a comic book reader. For quite a while his presence was either lacking or not high quality, but it seems like that is all about to change. Marvel is pushing, putting forth their best efforts to put the man of jet and silver in the forefront.

I could not be anymore excited.

I never really hold that much affinity for certain comic book characters. I tend to not read books specifically to just see what characters are up to that particular month. To me, super-hero characters tend to act more as bodies for concepts, and it is the creative talent behind the character that which matters. The character is fictional (obviously), but what a writer or artist can say with a character is not. Super-heroes, especially the casts of the Marvel and DC Universes, work as great, modern day myths, providing fine creative folk opportunity to explore themes not so fantastic on the surface. The capes and cowls provide a dress and harness life’s large ideas and bring them down in a form fit to work in a story. That is usually the way I look at super-heroes. They are characters, but more importantly devices, and writers that understand that tend to produce if not great, then at least interesting comic books.

Moon Knight kind of breaks that mold for me though. While he is very much the shell for a set of ideas, I do read the character for the character’s sake. His character is one I will gladly check in on, and I have read many bad Moon Knight comics just because he was featured in them. I mean, I’m not total “fanboy” about the character, complaining if the costume doesn’t match or if Khonshu pops up or not, but I do buy his various series or appearances like a “fanboy.” When I consider why, I think it all just goes back to when I first found Moon Knight. As a reader, I was living in a world where Spider-man and the Fantastic Four were the “be all, end all.”  These characters, these concepts so “super-heroy” with their spandex suits, powers, catch phrases and wild cast of villains. My reading of only these types of comics was a version of a sheltered, conservative lifestyle. I knew nothing else, and comic books only held that specific visual idea of Spider-man and the FF. Then came a specific issue of Ultimate Spider-man, seventy-nine (79), and gracing the final page in full splash art glory was a character not steeped in the bright blue and red hues of costume attire. Instead, he carried shadows, and his first act before my eyes was his defeat of Spider-man. When I think back to that moment, it was actually pretty meta. One character knocking out the other for my attention. It was sort of a shift in my comic book world view. Moon Knight showed up and opened the door, and ever since I have always found him a character that strikes my interest. For me, he carries this vibe of mystery and and this persona of cool. It is hard to ignore, especially when his actual visual look is considered.

I have carried this enjoyment since then, checking in on all incarnations of the character. For a while, it was simply for the “he’s my favorite” motivation, but in the last year I have really begun to appreciate the character on a whole new level. Moon Knight, all the way back to his origin, is the character so trying to do good. Marc Spector is the man with the questionable instincts and history, but he so wants to be a hero, to be something beyond human. He can never quite achieve that though, and at times the character must face what he truly is inside. I look at that, and I see such a universal concept. We are all Marc Spector. Everyone wants to be someone they are not, forgetting all of their personal faults and leaving behind the earthy shackles of humanity. His character, in such a Marvel way, represents that, and I feel like so many overlook it, labeling Moon Knight simply as “Marvel’s Batman” or a character only suitable for crime stories. Yes, he does work great on a crime story level, but Moon Knight is also much more and his concept can work in many settings. It just takes a skilled writer.

Moon Knight and Cast by Bill Sienkiewicz

Now comes Brian Michael Bendis: a writer who has produced many enjoyable comics, and oddly enough introduced me to Moon Knight. Marvel’s A-game is coming to my favorite character, and from the interviews I have read Bendis’ take looks to really work. I cannot say for certain because the book is months away, but the sole concept of Moon Knight playing “The Avengers” and creating new personas to act as Wolverine or Spider-man is so true to the character. Yes, at the surface it does feel like a very fresh take, but when you look at it it hits the core. Moon Knight is still playing hero and being someone else. Bendis’ “pitch”, his take alone sells to me that the man understands the character. Plus, he looks to also add to the character, putting him in a new setting and taking a step further. How could I ask for more? Oh yeah, Alex Maleev is drawing it. I know Maleev says he does not want to do Sienkiewicz’s Moon Knight, but I cannot help but look at his art so far and see a homage to Bill. An homage that also still feels very Maleev. That is fucking awesome.

I have appreciated the character since 2006, and since 2006 I have been scoffed at for feeling any appreciation. The original stuff usually gets cred, but anything new usually sees flack. Most of it deserves so (except for Charlie Huston’s first arc, “The Bottom”), but I still grow tired of the internet putting Moon Knight down. He is not “Marvel’s Batman.” Honestly, he is one of the most interesting Marvel characters, up there with Daredevil in my opinion. Now is a chance for people to really see that. Marvel is putting two A-listers on this character, and they are putting forth effort to market and create real excitement. I don’t know if this will happen again in such a way with Moon Knight. At least not for a long while. I am sure plenty will still complain about this book and see Moon Knight as nothing significant, but I honestly don’t give a fuck. This, in an odd sense, is a dream come true comic book for me, and I am going to enjoy every last second of it. For ever how many issues are published, I will be talking about this book, even if in some shocking way it sucks (I really doubt it though). I will also live in the build up to the series by re-reading all the old stuff, soaking up all the glory and interesting failure that is Moon Knight. I’m sure further writing will take place up this very blog.

I am a Moon Knight FAN, and I am damn proud. May 2011, I await you.

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Image Addiction Review: Hack/Slash #1

Hack/Slash #1 Cover B

I have posted a new review over at Image Addiction on Hack/Slash #1. Here’s what I had to say:

“With the topic of “diversity in comics” being so up front recently, Hack/Slash seems to have come just at the right time because this book is certainly unique in a sea of comic books that tend to follow a standard pattern. Hack/Slash packs a tone both exciting and comedic while supplying a vibe familiar of a John Hughes film, and honestly it is very refreshing…”

You can read the rest HERE.

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Print Still Cool

Yeah, print. I know, a stretch calling it cool, right? It’s bulky, inconvenient and doesn’t scream “FUTURE”. The printed “book” aspect of comics is something that everyone seems ready to just put in the back seat and forget. We want to move on, look toward better and brighter things and find a way to save a dying industry (note that I typed “industry” and not “medium”: the medium will always be, but the industry is a machine breaking down). Not saying that people are chanting, “Die, print! DIE!” I do not think anyone wants it wiped away and buried, but I do think people tend to look down on print at times. The promise and shine of digital seems to mesmerize the populace, so print just becomes this red-headed step child who is no longer as exciting and gets a bit overlooked.

Why though? Print has so much to offer still. On textile alone, it provides a physical weight. A great example is reading The New York Times in print versus digital.

The New York Times

We all read news online. The internet is now the vessel for the knowledge we consume. I easily spend twenty to thirty minutes a day between classes clicking links on Twitter, zipping my way across the internet cosmos reading blogs and news sites. I do it in hopes of learning something and making myself aware of events outside of my visual range. At first, it can be exciting. All of this info instantly. It’s just waiting for you. At some point though the feeling of it all slows down and suddenly all of what you read can blend together. The New York Times can start to look a lot like any other web page you read. Why? Because they are all web pages. They all have the text section, the ads on the top banner and sidebar, and the buttons to “Like” and “Tweet.” Sure, most print newspapers also carry a similar format of want ads, editorials and front pages, but print still manages to make itself special.

Web sites, at least to me, tend to just blend together after a while, and I think it is because web sites lack that physical weight print ever so seems to provide. Back to the New York Times reference, I do not enjoy reading it daily online because at this point reading from a screen feels so faceless while print kind of makes itself an event. When I pick up the Times in print, it does not feel like clicking another link. There is an action to it, an identity. You are reading THE New York Times. The paper’s coverage may be agreeable or disagreeable to you, but it is still a world famous paper that carries a huge reputation. And you feel that weight when you read a print copy of the paper. I like reading it that way. I read it to read The New York Times rather than just to consume information. The textile nature of the newspaper makes the experience enjoyable; it makes the Times feel like more of a work of art rather than a product presented by pixels. The words written by the journalists are all collected in this wonderful array of pulpy pages which are folded in a manner that resembles a possible type of architecture or origami. There is more to it than information and all of that comes through just when you pick it up. The weight. And all newspapers have their own physical weight, just as they do layout, writing styles and ink preferences. They are art works in a sense.

Comic books are similar. When I read comics on the screen, no matter the content, they all kind of read the same. I find myself having a hard time actually gathering a feel for a comic when I read it on the screen because I do not have a physical connection with the work. It’s just a progression of panels on a screen. There is no ID for it because it’s just another file or application or whatever. When  I read a print comic though, I’m closer to the work. I do not feel the distance. The work is in my hands and actually feels like it matters. That is the key feeling of print: importance. Ideas that are presented in a textile format ultimately hold a stronger sense of realism. And not realism as in “Batman is real”, but realism as in the art, the writing, the point of the story being real. Print makes it all physically exist.

Plus, with a print comic, a reader can gather an extra aesthetic value. An artist can make print work to their advantage just by being selective of the paper quality they use, or by printing in different sizes. I would not want to read Orc Stain or King City digitally. I would loose the cardstock covers and pulpy paper of Orc Stain. The Golden Age format of King City would be lost. Those books, even though with great content, would just be more panels on the screen.

Page from King City #5 by Brandon Graham

The print aspect is ultimately a part of the comic book. Where do you think the “book” comes from? The print angle and the staples are a part of the identity of comic books. It may seem like just a package, but the package can say quite a lot. It defines the look of the medium. When you think of CDs or Vinyl, does your mind not think of music? No matter the abundance of MP3 usage today, music will always be correlated to the visual look of a Vinyl Record or a Jewel Case just as comic books are synonymous with the tall pamphlet and the goofy ads. Print is not just the packaging or delivery system; print is a part of the comic book, a part of the art form.   

With print being this cool and offering the possibilites of such gut punches of impact, why not keep it alive? Rather than following the likes of all other media, why not keep comics in print, keep them unique, keep them with an identity as the rest of the world goes to pixels. At some point, people grow tired of the computer monitor. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a media option that didn’t require a computer or internet connection? I feel so. I kind of hate the computer at the end of the day anyway. It’s work anymore, not leisure.


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No Moore Hate

This is a post about Dodgem Logic #1. I would not consider this a critical piece, though. Why? It reads to me as more random thoughts mixed in with some personal sentiment. But, hey, if you want to take it as a critical piece, feel free. I won’t stop you.

So, I started to write this post as a “nice try, but Dodgem Logic, you failed” kind of blog post, but after you read this, it’s obvious that didn’t happen.

 I had my reasons noted, and I was typing, typing away. I felt I had my point, yet when it comes to writing about some certain thing, you tend to gain a perspective you did not have before. This happened to me. In the meat of my original take, my view on Dodgem Logic shifted. I went from seeing it as the interesting failure to now a pure, little passion project.

For sake of context, and to not totally waste the other post I wrote, here were my original thoughts on the magazine:

“For a magazine that is supposed to channel the likes of the underground’s finest, Dodgem Logic feels oddly mainstream. The writing it presents, though objectively fine all around, does not totally encompass the underground aesthetic. The magazine seems to get it half right with Moore’s piece and the music scene essay by Tim Lately. They both play to their strengths, and they both offer a focus specific to the magazine. The Twitter observations and “how-to” articles seem to bring all of that down, though. They read more like installments in a hipster’s version of Wired than they do an Alan Moore project.”

Right after the word “project,” I stopped and asked myself a question: what is underground? This question was not meant to be some universal, truth-seeking question for all of humanity. It was just a question for myself. In my eyes, what is underground?

I grew up a very sheltered, very conventional  young man. Mom and Dad, they raised me on football, dog walking, lawn mowers, classic rock and hard work. I didn’t attend a concert let alone take part in any “underground” activities. So, the question made me realize that I do not know what underground is, or at least traditional underground. I do not have the context; I have not been the audience of any underground mags, or art, or ideas. How can I claim Dodgem Logic as not being underground enough? I cannot.

The question then made me wonder what could be considered underground. To me, anyway.

Anything not recognized by the mainstream, I would suppose. Comics were the first thing in my mind. All comics. They do not sell high. It is tough to find a fellow reader, let alone one who reads the same books. They are somewhat looked down upon. Comic books fit the underground calling card, but…Is Batman really “underground”?  I love Batman, but the character is owned by Warner Brothers and featured in high grossing films. That doesn’t seem very “underground.”  I mean, comic books are certainly not synonymous with the mainstream of CNN, Kim Kardashian, and Bright Eyes, but comic books still have their own mainstream. Even though the books may sell less than one hundred thousand copies, most comic books still work under pretty mainstream conditions. The first two in my mind are editorial mandates and corporate interests.

Independent comics, though. Those still work, right? I think it depends. Most of what Image releases is technically indy, but only a few really carry that independent aesthetic.  That aesthetic is a sense of personal touch reflected in the work. James Stokoe’s Orc Stain and Brandom Graham’s King City capture that really well. Books like Chew or Walking Dead, while both good and enjoyable, seem to just tell a story, though, while the other two mentioned seem to tell a story plus more. Like Matt Fraction’s Casanova, Orc Stain and King City reflect their creators and share the ideas of their lives. This aesthetic quality plus the “do it yourself” mentality seemed pretty underground to me. Plus, books like Orc Stain, King City or any other number of PictureBox books are not very recognized in the comic book mainstream.

With the question answered, my idea of “underground” came to be:

1.)    Self produced, published, distributed, etc.

2.)    A reflection of personal beliefs, vibes, ideas, etc. of the person (persons) behind the work.

3.)    Most important, honest.

I came back to Dodgem Logic with this new found definition, and when I applied it, Dodgem Logic suddenly became an underground magazine.  There are columns that talk about Twitter or whether or not doctors are good for your health, but they are wrapped in an honest package. The idea of Dodgem Logic, as quoted from Mr. Moore, is, “old-school underground illegibility tooled up for a new century” (Issue 1, Pg. 7).  The magazine does that. There are articles about music you’ve never heard of and artwork featuring actions you would rather not describe, but there are also thoughts on feminism and the internet. The magazine makes it all work, though, because each bit is provided by someone relatively unknown, and it is honest stuff.

Dodgem Logic feels like a jam piece between Alan Moore and his friends. The notion that these guys are having fun producing this is quite evident while reading. The jokes and the topic spotlights both provide me with this feeling. The magazine is something they just want to do; they want Dodgem Logic to exist. In a weird way, Dodgem Logic felt like this war cry. It is a magazine that obviously states that underground is back, and it is back in a different way. It seems that Alan Moore wants this to represent something. For one, it is the underground aesthetic. I think by the very fact of this magazine existing it is clear Moore wants more content like this alive and available. It is also clear Dodgem Logic speaks for Alan Moore’s point of origin, Northampton, which I assume is somewhere in the UK.

It is no secret Moore likes to speak up for Northampton. Most interviews with the man bring at least a brief mention of the area. He has made it clear that it is a place troubled with poverty and misfortune, but I always get a sense that Moore is proud to represent Northampton. Why else mention it as much as he does? He wants to draw awareness, but he also wants to give the region cred. Dodgem Logic continues this idea. The magazine features the work of creative folk from the area, but it also just talks about Northampton. The music essay certainly does this, but the magazine also features a pullout section completely dedicated to Northampton. Most of the pullout is specifically for the Northampton audience, but even if you do not care about the local events, the section still brings about a sense that this magazine has a purpose.

As a reader abroad, you gain an idea of what Northampton is about. You are told and shown the conflict through various forms. You understand the problems Alan Moore and others understand. It comes off as a bit eye-opening, but then the local music reviews provide a balance, showing that Northampton also has things to be proud off. It has its own scene and its own culture. Coming from Alan Moore and a mix of other Northampton talent, Dodgem Logic just screams to me, “Hey, world. Here’s Northampton. He we are. Pretty or not, here we are!” I think that is awesome.

The whole “Northampton representative” thing goes to another level too when you consider its charitable mission. The profits of Dodgem Logic go right back to the community, creating this “you feed us, we’ll feed you” idea. Northampton seems to be the fuel for Dodgem Logic, and as Northampton is fed out to the world through print, the world returns the act by feeding, literally, Northampton. I find that to be a very cool symmetry, and it adds another layer to the work overall.  More importantly, though, it brings home the idea that Dodgem Logic has an actual purpose(s) as a work.

For one, the words written in it are honest, and the magazine conveys a collection of ideas that hold personal attachment to the men and women behind them.  Dodgem Logic is not just another magazine where people write in it because it is their job. Instead, it is a publication done for the sake of want. The people writing and designing Dodgem Logic want to. Second, the magazine stands to represent a place. A place close to Alan Moore and many others. A place stuck at the bottom. Dodgem Logic gives that place a voice and puts it out into the world. Third, Dodgem Logic gives back to what inspires it. The magazine actually affects the world in real ways. It does charitable work, and it brings about awareness. Shouldn’t more art do that?

I feel so. Last but not least, I cannot put Dodgem Logic down because, well, it is Alan Moore. I know that is probably a lame excuse, but Moore’s catalog of work has done so much for comics. Whether every work is a masterpiece or not (I couldn’t tell you, really. I have only read a few), Moore’s work has inspired and influenced so many. He has been labeled the greatest comics writer. The greatest. I have heard complaints that Dodgem Logic is a lame use of Moore’s time and talents. “Why doesn’t he focus more on comics?” is the usual remark. I cannot agree, though.  Like Frank Miller, Alan Moore has earned the right to just do what he wishes. The guy has proven time and again that he can do great work. More importanly, he is an artist and every artist has a right to do what they wish. If Alan Moore wants to do Dodgem Logic, a small magazine centered on Northampton and life style ideas, he is allowed to.  I know I will pay attention because whether it is objectively perfect or agreeable, it is an Alan Moore work. That alone makes it interesting and worth my time.

I just need some spare cash to buy another issue.

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