Monthly Archives: December 2011

No Clever Title Needed | 12-26-2011

And I’m back. Alive. Just glad Christmas is over.

Yes, I have totally been Scrooge this year. Or maybe, better yet, Charlie Brown. I don’t know, something about getting older and Christmas doesn’t necessarily match up. I’m in that weird in between time, right now. I’m no longer a young kid, believing in Santa but neither do I have my own kids and seep enjoyment through their excitement. Instead, I’m the college kid who comes home to mom and dad and quickly realizes how much he likes living on his own.

And my parents. Shit. They’re at the point where their one and only kid has stopped believing in Santa, is in college and doesn’t exactly want to be home with them. It’s fucked up for everybody. And we don’t really get anything out of the whole religious angle, either.

But, yeah. My mom did made a nice dinner. That was enjoyable. Other than that, watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was my one source of pleasure on this holiday. I never realized how willing that special is to allow its narrative to wonder and float. Clearly there’s a tight plot for its 30-some minute run time, but Schultz let that thing drift a bit and sink in. Whether it’s with scenes spent walking through the snow or odd, off the wall spotlights on particular members of the Peanuts cast, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a very patient, atmospheric story. I kind of forgot how beautiful that special is.

Ah well. Links.

Go listen to the new Splash Page Podcast. Tim Callahan and Chad Nevett chat for three hours on comics, writing, “blogspheres” and whatever else. Honestly, it’s a new Splash Page. Good enough reason, if you ask me. Only the best comics podcast ever.


I’ve fallen into the comics of John Porcellino after reading King-Cat #72 for a review assignment over at This dude is legit. Self-published, serialized comics about life and whatever else. Oddly enough, if I were to make a comic, King-Cat is what I would want to make. In some sense. Laugh if you want, but Porcellino demands my attention. Once I’ve caught up on the pile of books I already own and have the money, his catalog will be mine. For now, here’s an excerpt from my forth coming Spandexless review.

John Porcellino seems like one of those true, vagabond artist types. Whether it’s reading his blog or this issue of King-Cat, you gather the vibe he lives both the life of a romantic and a starving artist – traveling, living on whim and creating. And even though he portrays his life in this comic as sad, depraved and hungry, I actually want the life this guy has.

Also, the King-Cat website. Here. Porcellino’s blog. Here.

Tucker Stone was interviewed by Tom Spurgeon. Read the interview. I don’t agree with everything, but it’s certainly one of the more entertaining interviews I’ve read in a while. I liked this bit the most.

Let me be absolutely clear: It is my choice to participate in these things — to read shitty web sites and get irritated by what people promote online and how they promote it — but the only alternative, the way I see it, would be to quit the job I currently have and have a consumer-only relationship with comics. If you write about this stuff — and I think you can take the modifier “certain kind of comic book” out of the equation, because art/alt comics people are as bad (if not actually worse) — you’re going to end up bumping into that part of the industry all of the time.

I’m just glad someone of Tucker’s caliber said that because it seems so easy to just flip off all mainstream comics anymore and praise the art scene. Tucker’s a respected dude in that scene, so it’s cool to see him not pander to it. Instead, he’s unbiased and real, throwing shit at everyone. I like it.


Short week. I’m tired. Peace.


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My Top 10 – 2011 Edition

Comic books. I read a bunch of them this year. Here are what I consider my favorite from 2011, ranked in some sort of particular order.

10. Moon Knight – Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

Technically, this probably shouldn’t be on any top 10 list because I’m not sure every issue has been crafted so well, but whatever, I’ve had a lot of fun reading Moon Knight every month. More fun than I can necessarily describe. I mean, fuck, I took the liberty to write about every issue of this comic, and I plan to do so on into the foreseeable future. Because this is my character, as lame as that sounds. Besides Greg Burgas, I’m probably the internet’s biggest Moon Knight fan, and I can’t tell you the time I’ve spent waiting for a legitimately good series starring the character. And now it’s here, and Bendis and Maleev are building a comfortable, best friend-type comic around the character. It looks great, the core’s there and I feel invested in the actual plot. I am a happy reader.

9. Spaceman – Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Patricia Mulvihill, Clem Robins, Dave Johnson

I only list each creator because this is one of the few comics in which collaboration actually fucking matters and produces the product you read. Whether Spaceman ends up as a compelling, mark-making science fiction yarn or a disappointing collection of pulp paper, one thing’s for sure – this comic houses the best team in comics. And not just Azz & Risso. No. Mulvihill, Robins, and Johnson too. It’s an entire squad producing this monthly adventure, and, God, it’s synced so well. While there’s only 2 issues out, Spaceman clearly has held more of my attention than all the rest of the mundane mush 2011 had to offer. Pay your dos. This is how mainstream comics should be made.

8. Zegas #1 – Michel Fiffe

Dammit if this isn’t one of the best looking comics this year. Fiffe creates slice of life parables and dresses them in peppery apocalyptic ash fires, elevating the impact of the story he’s after as well as providing his comic a declared visual identity. His cartooning is in league with King City scribe Brandon Graham, pulling influence from all kinds of line work – European and beyond. And, man, the color work. There’s this citrus Earth tone he’s goes for and completely nails to create this wonderful effect of twilight and swelling emotion. Zegas #1 reminds the reader of how impending doom can cause us to live and make the most of what we have. Fiffe captured my attention this year, and Zegas #1 is certainly a reason why. I can’t wait for a second issue, or simply anything he does next.

7. Daredevil – Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera

A very well crafted super hero comic which supplies the necessary drum beats and bass notes every thirty days. Why aren’t more mainstream comics like this? I don’t know. For some reason the formula of good creative talent and solid stories is impossible to nail down in the market we now know. But thank the higher up for Daredevil. It’s this sparkle of hope, I think. It’s this bright little bulb in the garage full of dust mites and broken glass. I can only hope it pushes onward to twenty issues. That is more than we deserve.

6. Uncanny X-force – Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, Esad Ribic, Dean White

And the Marvel streak continues. Another book like Daredevil in which I feel the goal of cape comics was really met: monthly satisfaction. But the one thing X-force had over Daredevil was its wonderful sense of threat and culmination. I’m not an X-men reader, but I couldn’t help but be swept away by Remender’s control of the subject matter and its history, combining all elements of X-men lore into this epic celebration of the property as well as reflecting on the idea of progression and our obsession with it. To me, this seemed to be the ultimate X-men comic book where everything came to a head. In terms of a super hero comic, I think it’s an instant classic like that of Morrison’s X-men, and I can’t help but say I’m proud to have experienced it on its monthly tour. Plus, it’s another book in which I actually gave a shit about the plot. I respect comics that can do that to me because 97% of them I read for other sad reasons. Also, it kept to the soap opera integrity X-men stories are known for – right down to the conclusion of the “Dark Angel Saga.”

5. Vengeance – Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta

If only all event comics read like this one. Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta’s hot middle finger to Fear Itself worked so well in the shadows of Marvel’s publishing plan that I’d call it one of the better punk rock comics I’ve read in some time. Each page makes a sham of the drawn out model of story telling we’ve come to cradle in mainstream comics, packing each and every issue with such detail that the singles themselves could be considered events. But what’s hot about Vengeance is its anger. This is Casey’s living example of how he wants super hero comics written. Where Butcher Baker sets the attitude and philosophy, Vengeance comes in to apply the theory, and that’s apparent from the very first page.  Vibrant, dense and capable of toying with all of the event conventions, Vengeance gave the reading populace what it wanted this year. Tight, meaningful hero comics, and most likely the people had no idea, missing it entirely.

4. Criminal: Last of the Innocent – Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Val Staples, Dave Stewart

Just such a great story. That’s honestly all it comes down to with this one. A great story made from great construction. Fuck, Last of the Innocent all boiled down to that final page for me. Shit, the final panel. There was not one better image to sum up an idea. After a year and a half or so of bad/mediocre Brubaker comics, it felt good to read this. I missed Val Staples on the two final issues, but I feel Phillips and Brubaker pulled the work through and stuck the landing. This is a cold story. Cold, brutal and honest. It fits so well into Bru’s overall catalog. I’m proud to own this.

3. Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker – Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston

This hot, synthy, peppermint green comic exuberates so much attitude and testosterone it burns your fingers when you pick it up. But that’s why I love it so. Butcher Baker was the war cry I followed all year. Between Huddleston’s beautiful illustrations and Casey’s madman text essays, BB does philosophy better than any comic book out there at the moment. It’s a fucking beast. Forget this quick quip your reading. Read the comic, or this essay I did on it months back.

2. Blast Furnace Funnies – Frank Santoro

A true poem in comic book form, Santoro sums up what a city or town can potentially mean. But that’s not the kicker. While emotionally packed as well as touching, what makes Blast Furnace Funnies special is its observation and meditation on process. Santoro comes off to me as a comic artist’s comic artist, and Blast Furnace is a testament to that. Originally apart of a museum exhibit in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Blast Furnace digs deep into how comics evolve from thought to a tangible mass of paper. Each panel within this thing tells a story because Santoro pays so much attention that each panel lives as its own independent painting. And the colors. They haunt yet warm you.  It’s a comic that as I now think about it I wish I gave more time to throughout the year, but I guess I can at least honor it somehow via this list. If anything, it’s one of the few things I read this year I know I’ll reread multiple times. It delivers a lasting impact.

1. Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies/ Savage Dragon – Erik Larsen, Michel Fiffe, various others

I think this earlier blog post spoiled the surprise, but whatever, this was a good year for Dragon readers. TSDF may make up most of the reason for a number 1 spot, but Larsen’s Dragon all by its lonesome would still easily rank somewhere on my top 10. Why? It’s comics. It’s larger than life, it’s issue-to-issue, it’s entertaining, it experiments, and it’s free, and even though it’s most always been those things, 2011 was the year Dragon juiced up a bit and showed the public what it could really do. I feel this was the year the book was somehow legitimized. It only had to plummet in sales to reach such a standard … But I believe bringing in Michel Fiffe and Co. helped as well because sharing the staples with Larsen’s comics were an assortment of art comic favorites. As my earlier essay states, TSDF embodies that ideal comic book, mashing super heroes with alternative story tellers to celebrate all of what the medium has to offer. I feel the project will only stand as an example for what’s possible in the future. Or if anything, it should because TSDF is the cue mainstream comics needs to take. I just love that the guy and book people enjoy so much to write off made the point and came away fueling the best comics of 2011. How’s that for justice?

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Mudman #1 | Paul Grist

My clock reads 2:28 am, yet for some reason I’m awake typing this review. My head hurts, and my body’s shouting at me with cold chills and lonesome aches. I feel some sort of illness charging my way, which of course “just figures.” Holiday break begins this weekend.

I’m compelled to tell you about Mudman #1, though. That’s sad, right? That I feel driven to tell you, the invisible reader, about this comic book? And it’s not even that good, which makes this activity even sadder. I should just get on with it, huh?

What’s funny about this new Paul Grist Image comic is that the book doesn’t even deliver what it states it will, which is a “story written for the comic book.” By now, most of you internet savy funny book fiends probably know of the open letter on the inside front cover of this printed item. I believe “news” blogs picked it up and gave it a few rounds. But, in case you’re unaware, here’s the gist of it …

“I’m not ‘Writing for the Trade’, I’m writing for the comic.”

Grist’s entire letter tells the infamous tale of how our comics and TV shows are now offered in narrative chunks. You know, the box set and the trade paper back… and Grist isn’t down with this. For him, these media are a means of serialized storytelling, so why experience the entire story at once? He then goes on to pledge his comic, this Mudman, will uphold the serialized mindset. That’s great. I completely agree with him.

Because I like comics. I like 20 page bundles, and I like staples. I like monthly installments. I like the idea of time adding to the narrative. Trades, to me, destroy all of that, and in some regard, like Grist notes, trades destroy the flow of comic book storytelling. I honestly kind of hate the fucking things. To me, you’re not getting everything when you read the story in a trade because time is not necessary involved to help supplement the tale. Instead, it’s all in your face. You’re not thinking as much as you should about it. Most likely, when you’re done, the story isn’t going to linger with you. Because you’re done with it, and it just becomes another book on a shelf where you house the rest of your shitty Fear Itself tie-in trades.

Which is itself a messed up situation … the fact that everything must now see a collection. No. Most of this shit deserves to rot in some box or backroom storage area. But whatever. Mudman.

So I agree with the intention, but Grist doesn’t translate that intention. Instead, Mudman reads like any other first issue you might see in the current landscape, except it’s little weaker. Script wise. Art wise, though, I’d say it’s a whole other story. I’ll offer a little praise first. I don’t want to be a complete asshole.

This comic looks like nothing else on the market right now. That’s safe to say. Style. Layouts. It’s pretty unique. What I appreciate the most is the abundance of white space left between the panels as well as in them. The book feels clean that way – clean and minty fresh. Which works very well when juxtaposed with the dark browns this mud-centric story implies. It also just bounces off of the majority of comics right now. So many of the big super hero titles resort to the muck coloring and “mature” stories in which Superman is a dick that this little comic suggests a breath of fresh air when you look at it. I can appreciate that just as I can appreciate the design aspect in each and every one of Grist’s pages. The panel placement suggests a sense of time invested in the creation, yet Grist’s expressionistic style offers up a quick cartooning look.

I think a lot of this comic, visually, is about emphasis. The book uses contrast to make specific elements stronger, and because of that I feel the comic keeps your eyes’ attention a little longer than most things.

But I was in ill-favor of this comic, wasn’t I? I should get back to that.

As Tim Callahan points out, intention is separate from what its actually on the page, and I agree with him, but I feel in this case intention is an element of the final product. For one, the intention is blatantly stated in the work, and two, the comic seems to be so much about offering an alternative that it cannot help but be connected to the statement of intention. I think Grist wants to do this comic because he wants to give people a monthly super hero story that is monthly as well as lighthearted, but he’s so much about that, that the comic really just seems to exist for the sake of an intention, or better yet, to be a public statement rather than to tell a story. So it’s with that I must hold the work up to the intention, and Grist doesn’t nail it.

The comic gets the lighthearted bit right, but it’s still written with an eventual trade paper back in mind. True, Grist has the notion of serialized narrative in mind, but this comic really leaves too much to be explained in future issues. There’s nothing here that’s solid or of its own. Instead, Mudman #1 sets up a lot of pieces without supplying anything concrete or satisfying for this monthly installment. The comic’s somewhat hypocritical.

But say we even remove intention from the argument and just focus on what is exactly on the page … Mudman still doesn’t really work. The plot is sown together in a disjointed fashion, going from numerous dream sequences to “real” world scenes. None of it flows together but rather makes you wonder what exactly is going on. There are even bits in the plot that don’t really work. For one example, our protagonist is at one point hit by a car – which is nonetheless driven by one of his teachers – but rather than being apologized to or taken care of, he is yelled at. That doesn’t make any sense.

But I’m not even sure if he was hit by a car because on the very next page the automobile is parked and its owner comes walking from the opposite direction, implying some weird sense that what we saw is not exactly so. Which is interesting for a mystery, but I’m not even sure if it is a mystery or just bad story telling.

The entire comic just makes for a disjointed read, and I was given very little in what is supposed to be a monthly installment to really say I received anything. That said, I’ll probably give issue 2 a shot because I’m still somewhat intrigued, but more importantly, Mudman looks really good. Can’t complain on that front.

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You Are Always on My Mind | Kat Roberts

I’ve been trying to write this post for the past four hours, but between the distractions of G.I. Joe trailers, skittles, cute girls and Patrice O’Neal stand up, I have yet to accomplish anything up until the very typing of this God awful sentence. Fuck it. Gotta start somewhere.

This sense of procrastination exists because  I feel the need to be negative and critical as I review this comic by Kat Roberts. Not that I found it awful – quite the opposite – but because I’ve been on a positive, everything-is-flowers streak lately. I’m sure someone reading is questioning my integrity as a “critic,” and I feel that in this day and age of “comics criticism” where everything receives automatic love, I need to expect more of what I read and push my own critical bar. Or that in order to prove my blog worthy I need to rip something to shreds and then take a massive shit on those shreds. Because that’s what critics do, right? They’re the ultimate judges. The Comics Journal as well as individual dudes I enjoy reading work that way.

But see, those voices do negative within reason, and they provide fair analysis by way of their intellect. For the most part, I don’t believe any TCJ writer rips into things without a sound purpose. Those guys are considered professional critics, so they know better. Although, when it comes to the super hero, genre stuff … I think they can lose some of the self discipline and spit unnecessary insults.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I became self-conscious of my critical voice today after a few days of suspicion. I give a shit about this blog, and I’d like to be recognized as a legitimate voice of some sort at some point, you know? I’ve been reading a lot of pieces by a lot of different sites and individuals lately, and while not everyone has impressed me, each one that I’ve read has been able to hold to a high standard or expectation. I then look at my own stuff and wonder how I could improve, and I’m just wondering whether or not I’m critical enough to be a legit critic. So coming to type this review I’ve been searching for a way to not absolutely high-five Kat Roberts and this comic. Just, you know, looking at it tougher and pushing my own way of thinking about it.

So what does this “writer talking about his own writing” intro have to do with Kat Roberts and her comic? Not a whole lot besides being the context in which I am forming this blog post. Oh, and because even though I’ve been on a positive streak it doesn’t mean I should just tear something apart for no reason other than to shit. Sure, it’s one thing to be critical and set a high bar, but in this instance of reviewing this particular comic the tough attitude doesn’t seem necessary. You Are Always on My Mind deserves a pat on the back, and even though I’m looking at it hard in order to issue a complaint, I really can’t find a whole lot. So, whatever. I guess I’ll save the negative for another time and get this review started. Thanks for hanging out throughout that first couple hundred words. Just writing out thoughts.

*by the way, none of that intro is a rip or complaint of negative reviews. I’m not trying to make a point against them. I literally mean what I typed. I’m uncertain of my critical credibility.

So, the comic. I should write about that and get past this self-conscious, oh poor me bullshit. The internet’s seen enough of that lately, anyway.

In case you don’t know anything about Kat Roberts, she’s a cartoonist and all around creative person residing in Brooklyn. She has this blog about DIY fashion, and she’s also published this series of web comics called “Fever Dream.” I believe she’s relativity new to comics, but guessing from her work I’d say she already knows how to contribute a solid effort.

You Are Always on My Mind weighs in at 12 pages but packs 4 well-crafted shorts that invite you in and let you explore the notions of embarrassment and self-conscious worry. Roberts uses dreams as the base for her brief narratives.  Some are even said to be real ones she’s had. But, real or not, these dreams paint quirky situations that lend themselves to some discomfort as well as a good laugh.

What makes these shorts so enjoyable though are their execution. In terms of shorts, every beat counts. We all know that, but Roberts makes that fact feel fresh again. I don’t feel like I’ve had that thought before when I read her comics because the way in which she sets up her stories and hits the punchline per say makes you smile and turn the page. The progression in the narrative and the visual cues feels mechanical, yet not so that it comes off as stiff or hollow. Instead, the flow feels rich and tight. Like a well-oiled machine or a drummer hitting a snare drum on cue.

Roberts isn’t shy about implementing creative signals to move her stories along. There are quite a few instances in this comic in which she applies clever, even cute, visual bits. My favorites have to be the two panels above. The warped speaker box just oozes those “thoomps”, and the little blocks depicting fingers in a countdown descend so nicely. Just interesting tidbits like that turn a normal progression of panels into something a little more colorful and personable.

There’s also this use of facial express in which she completely capstones a whole story via one panel, and it’s done so well that the beat is met and I, as the reader, laugh.

And, hell, this one panel manages to look cool, tell the story and echo back to Abbey Road in a rock ‘n’ roll centered story about crushin’ on Jim Morrison.

But I like the order of the 4 stories the most, believe it or not. Roberts opens her comic with the short “I Lost My Virginity to Jim Morrison,” which reads more like a traditional comic book narrative, and closes it out with a dialogue-less, more subtle short entitled “Dream in June.” Between the two, Roberts expresses a bit of a dark side with tales like “Nude Suit” and “Sin Eater.” What I take from this progression is that Roberts structured the content of this mini comic in order to pull you in so you can’t escape her more awkward points. There’s a feeling of “easing in” all throughout the book up until you hit the heavy stuff. You go from “Nude Suit,” which is slightly awkward yet still packs a laugh, to the almost haunting green pallet of “Sin Eater,” and I think it’s in “Sin Eater” that the core of the book conveys itself. Think of the idea of sins and sinning. That shit’s supposed to stick with you. They are the mistakes and missteps you’ve made. They are your faults. The things that remain on your mind. It’s in that tale that Roberts’ fictionalized self must face her wrongdoings, yet even then it’s done with a chuckle as the cartoon version of the author makes a disgusted face after her first gulp of sin worms.

But it’s that idea of shit you can’t escape Roberts is after, and by selling the point through dreams I’d say she does an affective job. I mean, dreams are theorized to tell us things about ourselves, correct? Or more so, if you can’t escape something even in your sleep, where are you supposed to go? Same thought process as A Nightmare on Elm Street, but instead I think You Are Always on My Mind speaks more to self-conscious judgements than not being able to completely protect your kids.

The comic strays away from being a complete awkward downer though by way of its finale “Dream in June.” It’s here Roberts suggests a positive outlook and a way to escape the nags and worries. A fitting end, if I may say.

So, that’s my review. I hope it worked in some regard. I’ll probably ponder its faults tomorrow.


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No Clever Title Needed | 12-12-2011

This was how my weekend started.

AXE – that terrible body spray that supposedly gets you laid – drove into town and set up shop for one of those “One Night Only” concerts, and Girl Talk, the music mash-up extraordinaire, was listed to play.

Girl Talk’s one of those music favorites of the moment that I have mostly been ambivalent toward, but when AXE wanted to give my friends and I a bunch of free tickets and hold the show at a small venue like 123 Pleasant Street, I couldn’t deny. Why would you deny? A free show’s a free show, no matter who it is.

And it was fun. Between the toilet paper streamers, confetti, balloons, loud music and audience members storming the stage, Girl Talk and his crew knew how to throw a party. And that’s all that’s really needed at a show of this kind where, really, a DJ is the main act. Especially in a college town. One, big party can go a long way.

If anything, it was quite the event, and it felt good to attend something exclusive like that. Those tickets weren’t easy to come by, but I managed to get lucky as I sometimes do. As for why Girl Talk came to a town in West Virginia, well, he’s from Pittsburgh, which is only an hour drive from here. At the end of his set, the man grabbed the mic and pronounced that in his early days, before even his own home town showed him any love, it was here, in old Morgantown, West Virginia, that he found an audience.

That would explain it.

photo by derek rudolph

Speaking of shows, Ty Segall will make an appearance in Morgantown soon. The show will take place on January 14th at 123 Pleasant Street, and U92-FM, the college station I’m involved with, is presenting it.

There’s a little article here if you care to learn more.

Along with Segall, my friends John Casey and Jami Calandros’ band “Best Friends” will provide the opening entertainment.

I am excited for this show. It should kick off the Spring Semester right.

It’s odd to think of the comic book industry without a Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers book in it, but I guess should get used to the thought. Whatever dirty finger you may point at this book, the run is a landmark, and even with its slumps and inconsistencies, I still would list it as one of the more interesting and probably influential super hero comics of the last twenty years. In some ways, I’m happy to see it end – less money I can invest in Marvel – but I’m also a tad sad. My entire time as a comics reader has been marked by the presence of Bendis and his Avengers, so, in some ways, this feels like the end of an era. And I think it will seem that way for many people. Maybe than rather ending the world, 2012 will instead bring rapid change. All signs are pointing toward such. Occupy to Bendis’ Avengers.

The man writes another comic though, and telling from this piece on CBR I think Bendis is quite passionate about Moon Knight. Good. I am too.

I like these quotes from the article:

“I will say that I wish ‘Moon Knight’ was doing better. I know it’s a tough market, but literally every day someone tweets me or e-mails me about our ‘Daredevil’ run and how much they liked it. I whole heartedly encourage anyone who like our ‘Daredevil’ run to pick up ‘Moon Knight.'”

“This is exactly the kind of book no matter who’s writing or drawing it that needs a lot of support from people.”

He’s pretty open in those statements. Respect. If anything, the pleadyness of it tells me the guy wants this comic to keep going. He cares, and I don’t think it’s because it would mean less money.

Also noted, much of what Bendis says in that article I’ve said myself on this very blog. So, just saying, you should be reading my posts on the series. I’m tapped in.

Anthony Bourdain on WTF with Marc Maron. I really enjoyed this episode. The whole “rush and instant satisfaction” from working in a restaurant … I’ve been there.


The Mindless Ones blog recently posted an article titled “The Theatre of The Direct Market.” For anyone at all aligned in comics and considers themselves on the “in” of the industry or whatever we call it, I suggest you take a read. It’s very interesting, and it provides a look at the direct market that cites an actual influence on content rather than just business models. Read it slow. Let it sink in. Big words about.


Alright, I’m out. If you at all like or hate these “No Clever Title Needed” posts, give me your feedback in the comments. Please. I’m thinking of doing one of these a week as a manner to express quick thoughts and link cool shit. I normally would not worry about the audience’s feelings, but in this case, these posts are kind of entirely for the audience. I don’t write these for me, necessarily. I write them to share stuff with you as well as give you a bit of a peak into my actual life.

So, yeah, comment. Peace.

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Thoughts: Moon Knight #8

This is  a post of simple observations and thoughts. Objectivity may not apply.


“I hate this vigilante shit.”

– Detective Hall

“And yet it’s about the only thing that works.”

– Moon Knight

Confidence fills the tail end of this exchange, and its quite possibly ignorant. The ignorance seeps through later, though. For now, in this initial scene, Spector’s in the groove of his alter ego, riding the tail of last issue and the moves made in it. The guy’s feeling hot.

issue specifics

But I’d say this new found self esteem may have some ill roots as it seems Spector is placing a lot of faith in the vigilante concept. Or at least, that’s how Bendis writes him. I mean, the entire opening scene paints a picture of man packaged and sold to an ideal, and now he’s out preaching the good word, trying to convert the nonbelievers.

I just like that the nonbeliever is a cop, and Spector tells him straight to his face vigilantism “works.” It’s cocky, but somewhat justified because the character, as in Moon Knight, does supply the goods in the scene – as in a captured criminal and evidence. Hall can only be sent away with no option but to play along, and play along he does as a nice section of this issue revolves around his efforts to coerce his superior officer to investigate the LA Kingpin thing.

But what’s really going here is we’re seeing Spector grow more comfortable with the super hero thing, and in this scene he actually acts like a legitimate comic book super hero. Bendis does a solid job conveying the point by writing this opening scene very much like a Batman scene. You have the parking garage, the dichotomy, the crouching, the costume … this scene is something I would expect to see in a Batman book. So you have Moon Knight, who has been labeled “Marvel’s Batman” for years, literally standing in for the Dark Knight, but it makes so much sense. At least, to me it does. In my own personal interpretation of the character, Moon Knight is the ultimate wannabee super hero. I’ve noted that over and over in these posts. Rather than being “Marvel’s Batman,” I see it more appropriate to call him “Poor man’s Batman.” Well, after 7 issues of growing comfortable, Bendis puts the character in the shoes. And while it’s cool to see as a fan of the character – you know, him be legitimized – I know there’s another reason here. Marc Spector is so ready to fall into this super hero thing, and I think Bendis is setting him up to be obsessed – even more so than he has been.

Look at how easily he sells vigilantism. Look at how the character’s written in this scene. Spector’s clearly playing a part. He hits every beat. Surprise entrance. Suggested mystery to solve. A snappy one-liner as he makes the quick exit. That’s super hero 101, and Marc plays the part.

I think the character’s growing comfortable very fast and because of that he will soon make mistakes, but the larger picture here speaks to something we all go through. This is a story about a man finding who he is. The true self. We all take that journey at some point, but even after we figure out who we are, it’s not over. The next step is all about being you, and being a confident you, without overstepping boundaries and getting sloppy. That’s where Bendis has Spector at right now. He’s coming off the first arc and feeling good, but after this moment’s over, I bet shit hits the fan once again – actually, you kind of see so by the end of this very issue.

The immediate continuation of the Nefaria plot line surprised me. Being a Bendis book, I expected it to wade about for a while, but instead we’re right back in it. The choice makes sense, though.

If Marc is in a state of mind of total confidence and “playing the part,” it makes sense he’d get right to it. The dude’s eager. That’s why his subconscious/conscious/trio of colorful costumed dudes pressures him, in this issue, to put the mask back on. It’s himself telling himself, “hey, dude, I wanna play.” That eagerness will only hurt him, though. Whether it’s with the “professional job” or, as the ending alludes, Nefaria handing him his ass, the character’s moving too fast for his own good. Ties back to what I discussed before.

Of course, this could just be a sign the series is on its way out as Bendis abandons original plans in order to come right back to Nefaria and wrap things up. I mean, this book sells pretty poorly. I hope I’m wrong on that. Either way, though, I feel the choice in fast track narrative is a smart one.

And what about the Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-man head trip this issue? That whole thing just comes off like an over-possessive girlfriend.

“Spend more time with me! Fuck your job.”

We all know where that shit goes.

Although, the dramatic reaction to the trio’s appearance didn’t work for me. You know, when Marc’s with his secretary whatever and they appear. Shit stops cold for two panels. One panel plays up the whole red background thing. Why is it that dramatic? We’ve seen these personalities before. Something was lost in the translation there.

Art wise, I’d say this is the best looking issue yet. Maleev and Hollingsworth tear this comic apart. Whether the parking garage or the splash toward the end, it’s exciting to look at.

And, damn, that whole match throwing sequence was sweet.

As much as I did dig this issue, I honestly don’t have a ton to say on it. There’s interesting development with Spector, but it seems Bendis has the rest of the cast in a holding pattern. They’re written well enough to play the parts and move the plot, but I feel the other characters are missing the needed third dimensions. I’m glad Bendis is in Moon Knight’s head, but well, how much more can I write each month when it’s only Moon Knight’s head I’m placed in?

And then I wrote about #9 …

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No Clever Titled Needed | 12-05-2011

If you follow my Twitter exploits, then you may already know the type of weekend I had. I probably should resort from tweeting pictures of empty bottles and dance sessions as I’m sure it only comes off as a sad attempt to look cool, but dammit, I now have an iPhone. Tweeting photos now presents itself as an option, and the sad journalistic drive inside of me tells me to document this College shit, even though it’s probably not worth documenting and only describes me as a tool.

I don’t, however, wear Tapout shirts. I promise.

Start your Monday right. Listen to this.

My dad hooked me on this track in the 4th grade. Jammed to it most of the weekend. Chad Nevett made the point on Twitter that he also digs it.

Speaking of Chad, the dude wrote a new blog piece titled “You Don’t Just Want to Break Me, You Want to Tear Me Apart” in which he discusses why he likes writing negative reviews. The comics internet is too uptight up about positivity. It’s cool to like and love comics, in my book, but Chad drives home the main point. The job of the critic is to tear shit apart. Team Comics needs to realize that. Read Chad’s post.

You can now blast the Trent Reznor, Karen O cover of “Immigrant Song.” The movie about tattooed girls will be out soon, and the soundtrack is up for pre-order. But, you don’t need to pre-order. Wired has six tracks streaming for free. If you want your own precious copy for the iPod, though, you can buy “Immigrant Song” for a buck on iTunes. I just did that. I also dig “Oraculum” a bit.


Tucker Stone writes good shit. One of the more exciting voices on the comics internet. May I suggest some recent examples to prove it?

Woodshed: 11/28/11
The Comics Journal Thirty-Eight
Comics of the Weak: Just Saving Myself Til I Get Raped

You should read each of those, but if you’re short on time, make the first in the list the priority.


If you’re a Savage Dragon reader, then you must follow this Twitter account.


This would be the current controversy in my area of residence: fracking.

Noted as a method of natural gas drilling, fracking has had Morgantown, West Virginia up in arms over the past year. City Council’s all about banning that shit, but state government is cool with it. Jobs. Apparently. Anyway, the article talks about the process in terms of Pennsylvania and New York, but let it be known, this new power house industry even trickles down to my neck of the woods.

If anything, look at the eerie photos in the post. The one with the fighting/playing dogs kind of creeps me out for reasons I can’t explain.

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the TW review: Our Love is Real, the Dudes, Blast Furnace

Comics. I read them. Hence the title.

Our Love is Real
Sam Humphries/Steven Sanders

I’ve heard the buzz on this one. You kind of can’t escape it. Even my good friend Joey Aulisio wouldn’t allow the room to go quiet. After letting it sit in a pile for a few months, I decided I should finally read this, and you know what, I think Our Love is Real does deserve the buzz.

To somehow explain it … this story is set in the future where AIDS has been cured, and all new types of love are running wild. People now have sex with animals, plants and even rocks. Our anchor point is a cop by the name of Jok, and we follow him through this crazy, crazy world as he reconsiders all he knows.

The excellence here stems from a blending of different genres and ideas of comics into one, smooth, exciting final product. It’s as much an art comic as it is a big budget production, and it’s as much a noir as it is a science fiction meditation. Humphries’ approach to writing takes the path of creation in which all resources and outside influences are welcomed to the table. “Love” exhales a complete breath of freshness because of that. The comic’s components, in terms of plot elements, narrative beats and genre signifiers, blend together for a wicked celebration of what fiction has to offer.

The book gives off a certain statement that I think every new writer would want to deliver: “hey, world, I can add my own voice to all this old stuff.”

Sanders’ artwork captures the script very well. The detail and locations are there when needed, yet he’s not afraid to minimize his approach for the character scenes. There’s a nice sense of design to bring out the uniqueness of the world, and I’d also say the man draws an excellent fight, meeting every beat.

At the core though, Our Love is Real tells a classic yet compelling tale of a cop who has to rethink what he previously believed right. The theme is true to the noir state of mind. Humphries and Sanders do a great job telling this story. It’s a one-shot and it reads quick, but the team drops  a number of subtle marks to give readers spots to go deeper. On top of that though is a comic full of extremes. Animal/human relations. Sex with rocks. Protests. Over the top voice overs.  It’s as ridiculous as the subject it’s exploring. Or better yet, the subject it’s fighting against. By the end of the book, Humphries and Sanders make it clear that no specific type of love is the real, right, correct way to go, and the point is wonderfully summed up by the loving pair on the last page. A transgender and a deceased man’s crystallized ashes.

The Dudes
Alex Schubert

In my attempt to read comics outside of my usual focus, I stumbled upon Alex Schubert’s work after clicking a few links, and being as care free as I am I bought a few of his comics, not knowing what to expect.

Luckily, a pleasant surprise.

With his mini comic The Dudes, Alex Schubert shows us the darker, sadder side of the typically funny and well-loved “Dude” archetype. The story is very simple, or you could even say  nonexistent. Schubert places us in a neighborhood where we observe an assortment of typical hipster, stoner kids and their miserable existences. Yet, to these Dudes, their existence is pretty important. Or at least, they make it out to be as they find used condoms and discuss threesomes they’ll never have.

Now, Schubert spells none of this out directly. Most of it you infer from the artwork, situations and comical tone, but he does a nice job of conveying the idea that way. The comic exemplifies minimalism in a very interesting fashion, applying it both in terms of the artwork as well as the “plot.” Most of the book is just a collection of drawn out moments, and the moments are so pointless to begin with that there’s no point at all to draw them out. Except, that is the point. Drawing out these moments shows us how insignificant they are, and Schubert’s deliberate lengthening of them channels that very real life importance we like to place on everything. His artwork keeps backgrounds to an absolute minimum and his layouts are as plain as can be, but it’s these touches that bring home the idea. Even the character’s dialogue is well done. Any line within the comic could easily be switched around with another as not one line is specifically designed for a particular character. This shows how truly little these Dudes have to say.

The Dudes is a nice peak into the typical American way of life. It’s a comment on what little we really do with our time on this planet and how we lie to ourselves to make us believe the opposite. The book makes you laugh while also causing you to reflect on your own choices. Not bad for 12 pages.

Blast Furnace
Ryan Browne

This could be consider a combination of the first two in terms of execution and tone. More importantly though, it’s a fun fucking read.

Blast Furnace makes its usual rounds as a weekly web comic, but I managed to pick up a print collection – which is really a mini comic – at this year’s New York Comic Con. According to Browne’s website, Blast Furnace will run for an entire year with a new page each and every week, and the entire thing is completely improvised. None of Blast Furnace is planned out or necessary thought through in terms of a plot, but damn, I must say, it’s good.

Browne’s entire base point seems to be an exploitation of badassery. The lead character wears a flaming tie and a handlebar mustache, and he goes around performing ridiculous feats of action. The first time we meet him his hands are dripping blood. The rest of the comic follows suit as Browne presents quirky situations and highlights them with accents of laughably exciting elements. Combined with the extreme though is a lighthearted sensibility of minimalism. His artwork strays completely away from any sense of rendering and instead looks like it came right off the sketch page. That’s not an insult. More comics should pack this vibe.

The look of the book and the line work used reminds the reader very well that Blast Furnace is nothing to take too seriously, just like the events in the story. Because it’s produced on a weekly basis Browne has room to go on the occasional tangent. Reading these pages in a row, you can clearly see how little this book follows a strict outline. The story goes where ever it goes. I like it, though. It feels very direct and there’s a certain flow on the pages.

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