Tag Archives: Savage Dragon

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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Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is an anthology series edited by Michel Fiffe which originally appeared in single issues of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon. Now, TSDF resides in a trade paper back collection, and it spotlights the work of many excellent cartoonists doing their own Savage Dragon stories.

I’ve been meaning to write about this anthology for a while. Not that I have any ground breaking observations to add nor any comment of great length. I just really dug this project. So much so it will most likely pop up on my “Best Of” list at the years end. Because here’s the thing … Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies pulls off the impossible. Or better yet, the “dream.” This is a comic book work with idealism written all over it, and I’m happy to say I own a copy.

Because this project completely represents the type of comic I’ve wanted to read for years. I don’t know about you, but I used to spend much of my free time on comic book discussion forums. There was a heyday for such a thing, believe it or not. Some are still trying to keep it alive … Anyway, on such forums, threads pertaining to armchair quarterbacking would pop up frequently, and the simple question usually asked would be: what would you like to see more of at Marvel and DC? Or it might have been something like: what would you change about Marvel and DC?

Anthologies were my usual answer.

Because here’s the thing … while they tend to suck 9 times out of 10 (except for the possible awesome underground comics ones I haven’t read) … I love the anthology concept. There’s potential and room to run in an anthology. Multiple stories. A mixture of creative talent. No needed editorial barrier. An anthology can just be about good comics, and the necessity of shorter stories can only make them more kinetic.

But my reaction didn’t even really pertain to the anthology format as much as it did the idea of variety in stories. Because that’s the key to my enjoyment and the constant “rooting for” attitude I have for anthologies. They’re a fun tool to break the formula chain we’re so used to in mainstream comics.

So my ideal thought’s always been: put a group of great creators on a Marvel or DC anthology and let them go absolutely nuts with the properties. Basically make the anthology a backdoor or think of it as a small “What if.” What if the entire Marvel or DC line was spontaneous and ever changing? Just every fanboys’ favorite character taken over by a set of wild creative minds and put through stories designed specifically to fit the creators’ will.

The anthology would kind of bring that idea to life.

And those projects did happen with the advent of Wednesday Comics and Strange Tales, except neither of those soared past mediocrity. Wednesday Comics gets its cred for the experimental packaging and both series delivered a few enjoyable works, but for the most part both projects suffered the usual anthology gripe by not delivering in every single story. Or, more plainly, they supplied more bad than good.

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies picks up where those projects left off by obviously carrying over a similar approach, but TSDF does it a little differently when you consider the project’s serialization in Savage Dragon. Whether intentional or not, I feel the literal proximity of TFSD to Savage Dragon comments on the larger idea at hand, which is what I mention above – taking the established and handing it off to someone else for an extreme makeover.

The proximity, or actually having both works share the same staples as a comic book, works as a before and after. Or kind of a reminder. Like, look … here’s what Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen is and here’s what an underground artist free of constraint might do with it. It’s that juxtaposition of styles and choices in storytelling, as well as the clarity of it via the format, that brings home what I think the overall idea of Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is. That no two artists tell the same story. Because contained within this project are only Savage Dragon stories and none of them come off as repetitive.

The artists involved do all they can to make Erik Larsen’s baby their own. There’s respect in the storytelling, but there’s also no sense of worry. The creators brought in understand what they’re there to do, and that’s to create whatever comics they want. No holds bar. In fact, I’d say artist Zack Soto’s story “Screamin’ Bones” echoes such a sentiment. The entire story is basically a dream sequence in which Dragon experiences all sorts of crazy and then dies. It’s the dream aspect in Soto’s story which allows the character to go through such extremes, but really what I feel the story is saying is “comics can go anywhere. why not go there?”. A certain panel at the end of the story pretty much boils that idea down to one, visual instance as Dragon drunkenly stumbles through a door marked “Do Not Enter.” After which, he falls into a pit of fire, dies and then wakes up, back where Soto’s story began. The reader gains the sensation that, “hey, none of that really happened.” But it did because it’s clearly printed on the page and you can easily see so by flipping back. Both instances of “happening” and “not happening” can exist in the same moment if you chose to view two separate pages at once. Or you could just take the reveal as a comment on how easily you can make the impossible happen in comics. Similar to Morrison’s Animal Man, when Buddy’s family just comes back to life. Because it’s fiction, and you can do that in fiction. Just how Soto kills Dragon then doesn’t.

And, hey, the story even references Memento. I’m cool with that.

What makes Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies hit even harder for me, though, is its embodiment of unity.

There’s a rift between super hero comics and underground comics. I don’t need to tell you that; the internet will clearly do so. If you haven’t, you should read Michel Fiffe’s (the editor of this fine project) blog piece titled “The Big Fusion.” I’d say it’s a pretty clear companion piece to this here collection of comics.  In it, Fiffe discusses the always interesting mash up of indie cartoonists and corporate comics, and says in the piece that these instances are usually the best celebrations of the medium. To Fiffe, these mash ups are, as he puts it, “the real TEAM COMICS.” As in, it’s the rare situation in which everything comes together.

Well, I think Fiffe threw his own party when he set out to do TSDF because that’s what this is. Savage Dragon may not be corporate, but the book via its tone represents all things super hero comics. It’s the quintessential super hero book, and it portrays the genre in the classic way you’d envision. Fiffe brought the best of the best in terms of today’s underground market to this quintessential super book, and we the readers got to enjoy this excellent work.

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies exemplifies what comics are. The book spotlights all the different elements present in this medium and industry. It represents all sides while exploring the notion of limitless boundaries. And while numerous artists are involved, I think Fiffe as an editor really conveys the strongest voice. Via his blog post Big Fusion, I get the sense Fiffe is a fan of the super hero/underground mash up, and with TSDF the guy gets to guide one of his own and champion the concept.

The book is really a love letter to all comics. And as an anthology, TSDF delivers in each and every installment. Yes, some hit harder than others, but all of them offer something. The book also stands as a great sampler for indie cartoonists. As someone trying to learn, I’ve gained much from this book.


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NYCC 2011 – An Interview w/ Erik Larsen

I took the opportunity and used this year’s New York Comic Con as a means to conduct a few interviews. This time around you’ll hear from Erik Larsen.

Larsen is a cartoonist, one of the original founders of Image Comics, and sole creator of the comic book series Savage Dragon.

Larsen still produces Savage Dragon. You could even say the title has entered a new revival period as its creator takes the book and its cast into new directions while remaining on a tight schedule.

Erik was also announced as the artist of the upcoming Supreme relaunch from Extreme Studios … illustrating Alan Moore’s final Supreme script and picking up where the writer left off so long ago.

In the interview, we discuss his work on Savage Dragon as well as cover the basics of the Supreme announcement.

Click the link below to listen, or right click and select “save link as” to download the interview to your hard drive.

NYCC 2011/Erik Larsen/14:52


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Savage Dragon. Read it.

As Joe Keatinge points out, Savage Dragon is the comic book you all want.

Consistent creator? Spontaneous, episodic adventure? Big sequences? Real consequences? Commentary? Experimentation? Artist connection? African American protagonist?

Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and CHECK!

Shame on you for not paying attention.

Erik Larsen’s  pet project means many things to me, but it first and foremost represents an artist’s love of comic books and super hero convention. Larsen’s passion for comics hinges freely open. Just a short stint following his Twitter account and you’ll see the interest and opinion he broadcasts. Twitter is the man’s personal soap box, and by following him you become subject to his care and interest in sequential story. When there’s big news floating around or controversial developments, you can always expect at least a few tweets from Mr. Larsen. Twitter’s a recent development, though. Long before the invention of social media Larsen and a few other hot talents ditched their secure jobs to pursue an unfiltered vision of comics. Image Comics was the biggest risk of its day. If it bombed, the men attempting were surely out a job and possibly blacklisted. A lot rode on the simple desire to create without limits. As the story goes though, Image boomed and took its founders to new levels of fame, but think back to the start once more. Larsen risked it all just to create comics the way he desired. That’s big, and once he became the subject of Image’s success he could have done anything. Larsen had the freedom. His next comic book project could have been a cosmic romantic comedy staring ape squids for all I know, but at the end of the day Larsen created a super hero centric title. It was obviously the genre he wanted to work in. That chance and choice, sir, shows a strong love.

So why write about Savage Dragon? Other than holding my heart as my favorite comic book, I feel Savage Dragon lacks discussion from both casual readers and the critical community. The critics damn it as weak and laugh at its existence, while the mass readership ignores it to pursue the corporate icons. An unfair shun, if you ask me. Savage Dragon may read as quaint and simple when cast a quick glance, but really Dragon is rocking some levels. The content and context make this comic a rare and special work in today’s market, but in true hypocritical fashion moaning, sobbing comic book fans roll their eyes at its presence.

As I point out on a recent episode of The Chemical Box, there are hardly any (maybe none) ongoing comic book series working issue to issue. Marvel and DC possess long running, high numbered series – even though they renumber every month – but most of those series rely on 4 or 5 issue story arcs or chapters. These chapters usually work as smaller stories within the long narrative, and they could honestly be removed from the ongoing series and be sold as finite stories. In fact, they are. These finite chapters traditionally see some form of repackaging before they are sold in trade paper backs as individual stories. In most cases, transitioning creative teams or the need to spice up product completely destroys the concept of  long narrative.

An ongoing series like The Amazing Spider-man constantly bears witness to small stories. The years of “Brand New Day” brought forth different artists and writers every three issues, providing a constant inconsistency. These practices question a reader. Am I really reading the same story and the same character’s same narrative as I have been for 15 years? Really, no. Consider story arcs and creative swings a fucking reboot. You might as well. Comics are now written to serve the Hellboy model, but even the Hellboy model works with a solid, consistent creative vision. The ongoing narrative of Marvel and DC heroes is dead.

Savage Dragon keeps the narrative tradition of comics alive. It’s run for 18 years under the same creative vision, from a writer/artist no less, and hardly ever works its narrative through labeled story arcs. Savage Dragon is THE issue-to-issue comic. Never does it lull mid-arc but rather offer high points each and every issue. Every issue tells a complete tale while still belonging to a larger saga. Again, the ideal comic book everyone so wants.

But, yeah, I’ll just quit with the “you’re a hypocrite” act and get to it. There was a cool scene in the latest issue of Savage Dragon, issue #171 (actually #172 will be the latest as you read this as it hits comic stores the day I post this blog post – good timing, right?). I wish to write a few lines on this scene I so dug.

Thunder-Head a.k.a. Kevin Gorelick sits upon his dusty, worn couch as a youngster playing a video game. In storms his father a.k.a. long time Dragon villain Skullface and Larsen provides the audience with a face filled visual. A line of dialogue is bellowed. “Do your homework.”

Young Kevin proclaims that homework is unnecessary, especially in a world where his father is a “bad ass” and homework is not required to pursue bad-assery. Skullface looses his cool and lectures his son on his own terrible life. Skullface wants the best for his son, not a cheap life as a crook. Through persistence, Kevin promises his father to work hard and stay out of trouble.

Years pass.

Skullface lay deceased, and we see Kevin attending to his grave site. There’s an anger in Kevin. Through monologue, he reports of his father’s poor job as a parent yet announces the difficultly of living without his father. Kevin states that these are tough times and that there are “not a lot of opportunities for a guy that looks like” him a.k.a. guys who have a blue, skeletal face. Kevin persists to honor the promise made to his father, though. He says, “I guess you’re still looking out for me” as he walks away from his father’s grave.

Two pages later, Kevin types away at his formal office job when a young woman reports he is being “let go.” Kevin becomes upset and is escorted away by security guards. Soon we see Kevin pursuing his role as Thunder-Head. He’s communicating with the organized crime unit the Vicious Circle. Kevin breaks his promise and by the end of the issue combats with the book’s own protagonist, Malcolm Dragon.

Ok, so maybe it reads just like another, soap opera fueled origin of a super villain. You know, daddy wasn’t there (to change my underwear…) and all that jazz. Really, though, it’s not. In comics, the family aspect can spell out the coming of evil, but in this case Larsen reverses or twists the circumstance of family as motivation. Unlike the usual parent of a evil, Skullface cares. Granted, Kevin makes note in the grave scene that it was hard living with his father, but that could mean a number of things. I mean, it’s hard living with my mom, but that’s just because of her to tendency to annoy me – not poor parenting. From what we see of Kevin and Skullface’s relationship, things seem normal and well. Skulface looks out for his boy and encourages him to do well.

It’s then that the sub plot acts as expectation shifter rather than convention. Larsen, like Tarantino, poses Kevin’s story just right so that it plays with the audience. While reading, we expect Skullface to beat young Kevin when he enters the room, but instead he lectures. While reading, the flash forward instills pre-thoughts of criminal Kevin while it really depicts a white collar, office working citizen. Our guesses as to where the plot is leading land false. It’s not until Larsen takes away the respectable job that he folds to convention and portrays the orthodox, crime happy style.The play on the audience involves more than expectation tease, though. By showing this oddball circumstance of a character becoming a villain, Larsen suddenly brings an extra dimension to the usual 2-D comic book antagonist.  Most comic book baddies pertain to little motivation or explanation. They are simply bad to be bad, or because the story dictates them as so. If anything, a usual villain comes packaged with some line of vengeance or goal of world domination for a chosen idea of society. Not here. Kevin wants to be good and has every inspiration to be. The character, though, eventually loses sight and drifts away. The element of falling makes the character a bit more interesting, and Larsen’s choice of such shows his willingness to experiment with hero genre cliches.

For what Savage Dragon is – an analog version of 1960s/1970s Marvel – this move resembles perfect, “oh, of course” sense. Larsen’s book takes great pride in bending and breaking the cliches of corporate hero comics. The narrative always goes after the elements Marvel and DC will not touch, and it does what most readers won’t expect the Big 2 to do. Kevin a.k.a. Thunder-Head is only another classic Savage Dragon example.

I don’t wish to dress Savage Dragon as another super hero comment book, though. I find no problem in stories that simply choose to comment on the comics medium or super heroes, but for the sake of addressing those who do find error in such thing I’d like to point out that Larsen’s use of Kevin is a very real world, social comment. Most crime in our world does not derive from a soul of pure evil or sadistic drive. Most crime is survival based. Hurricane Katrina stands as the perfect example. Looting of retail shops made all the headlines as the flood waters climbed and climbed, but no where among any of those looters were thoughts of evil. The looters looted to survive. Whether food topped the list of stolen items or television sets, the looting became a necessary mean. Food nourishes while TVs provide black market cash. Either way, people need both results to make it.

As Kevin comments, times are tough. The character losing his job and turning to robbery represents many in America right now. People are making rash moves to make ends meat. Even Kevin’s extra incentive to join the way of crime speaks toward a survival instinct. The Vicious Circle mention their new mission as being one to bring Kevin’s father back from the dead, and as you recall Kevin announces how hard it is to live without his father. In some way, Skullface’s absence harms Kevin or inhibits his survival. Bringing back his father could only make it better for Kevin. At least, that’s the thought.

So, yeah. I just typed all of that, 1800 fucking words, to discuss one subplot in one issue of Savage Dragon. It may read as quaint, which I argue is apart of the book’s aesthetic charm, but goddamn, there’s something about Erik Larsen’s 1990s-born Image Comic. Read an issue sometime, and don’t even tell me the comic you ideally want doesn’t exist. You obviously ain’t looking.


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No Clever Title Needed #4

Bits of info that go no farther than this.

I’m expecting to be busy this week, so this post is it for the next few days. But, hey, I updated three times last week. I’m happy with that, especially since my writing made a little bit of progress. At least I felt that way. (Just read the First Wave post and compare it to anything previous). My writing still needs work though, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Most posts I write hold a “clunk” in their flow and my word choice lacks, but I’m working on it. I’m searching for the right flow, I’m cracking the code of verb choice, and I’m finding my voice in the words. I’ll crawl my way there. I hope.

Last week was good, though. The Chemical Box, after a four month absence, finally made its return. For those on the outside, The Chemical Box is a comicbook centric podcast hosted by Joey Aulisio, Just Jean, Chris Johnson, and myself. Why absent that long? Every other time we recorded, the show went sour. Plus, I had a bad case of “radio-Alec,” and I kept taking away from the show by trying to sound pro. Lesson learned. I’m loosening the tie and using podcasting as the escape. As it should be.

Listen in, though. We should be somewhat consistant now. link.


Erik Larsen took some shit last week. He tweeted a few thoughts on web comics, and people went crazy in true internet fashion. Larsen said:

Every crappy submission can “see print” on the web–every reprint book that would sell three copies in print would work on the web. The web is the great equalizer. Every crappy thing can get tossed up there. If it all went digital nothing separates a pro from an amateur. Print is far more discriminating. There are fixed costs which can’t be ignored for long. It’s not the wild west like the Internet is. That’s why the web doesn’t excite me a whole lot. Every nitwit can put stickmen telling fart jokes up–there’s nothing special about it.

Stickmen telling fart jokes is Watchmen as far as the internet is concerned, @BizzaroHendrix.

I mean–there’s things on the internet that people are willing to read but they would never pay for–and those are the success stories.

It’s an entirely different level though, @NoCashComics– even the worst pro comics have a modicum of professional standards.

I’m not saying everything on the net is bad–no need to take offense, @tsujigo @BizzaroHendrix just that there is no filter.

I disagree and I don’t disagree, @IanBoothby — how’s that for being agreeable? There are plenty of groundbreaking things in print as well.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the best online work is on par with good pro comics but the worst is far worse. I don’t think there is a web only comic that’s as good as Watchmen or Dark Knight. Correct me if I’m wrong. There are certainly web comics that are good for a laugh–and better than what’s in the Sunday Funnies–but not at a Watchmen level–yet.

Point being–anybody can do a web comic. There’s nothing preventing a completely incompetent idiot from doing it, @215Ink.

No. Nothing promising falls through the cracks, @drawnunder if you can’t get your proposed book in print somewhere–your book sucks.

Now, this wonderfully organized collection of tweets originally saw “print” here, at Robot 6. The have every right to report on this. I mean, I’m “reporting” on their reporting. I just feel Larsen’s point was unfairly twisted.

“I’m not one for Internet triumphalism, but it seems awfully churlish — and odd, for an artist and publisher — to greet the Internet’s enormous boon to speech and self-expression in this way, quite aside from the question of whether he’s accurately characterizing webcomics to begin with,” the article comments.

First off, I do not feel it is “odd” for to Larsen speak his honest opinion. The guy holds a reputation, so this type of outburst should come as no surprise. I actually champion him for being so outspoken. Why? Bullshit grows old, and a lot of the “opinion” offered by comics pros never rings completely true. I understand why the tongue must be bitten at times, and I would probably follow suit if I too worked at Marvel or DC. Larsen does not work for either, though. The guy creates Savage Dragon and holds a comfortable relationship with Image Comics – who, in terms of quality, is probably the strongest publisher in the business right now. A guy should speak up when in that postion, holding that many years of experience. He will have things to say, and people will listen. The honest voice provides a nice break in the manufactured PR.

As for the point, all Larsen said was that web comics are open everyone, and they lack a professional standard because of that. That’s it. The guy told no one directly that they suck, nor did he say web comics are completely useless. They are just open. And he’s correct; web comics are open. Filters do not exist for quality nor does a professional standard. Sure, any “idiot” with a pile of cash could publish a bad print comicbook, but compared to the workload web comics require how many would go through with a print book? Then there still remains the question of Diamond and distributing your print comic to stores. Print weeds out the unnecessary just through its basic operation.

Granted, maybe Larsen could have been more direct in his statement. Someone just glancing at the twitter speech could take it farther than it needs to go. When the entire statement is blogged about though, I would expect people to actually read. People react to headlines, though. That’s the nature of journalism. People skim. I would be surprised if anyone actually read this far into THIS post.

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go scour eBay for that Dart miniseries…,” the article says.

Oh, and I know it’s not cool, but I do like Savage Dragon. I would happily read that Dart miniseries.


Matt Seneca writes about comics, and he is quite good at it. The man reviews for The Comics Journal, produces a column for Robot 6, writes for Comics Alliance, and he has a blog. Matt Seneca runs all over the internet, but his recent blog post, entitled “HarmoniComix”, is by far my favorite thing he has written. Matt knows a lot about the medium. I love when he shares his thoughts on it because his voice is so distinct, and his writing feels like a peak into another outlook I would never come up with.

Anyway. Matt wrote a mind blowing piece on color and its function in comics. To Matt, color and music are basically one as they both produce specific sounds and tones. Comics may not look the same to me anymore.

Read. Be Educated.


Enough. I have other topics and thoughts, but this one is running long. Next time is down the road.

Also, I have a new job – a web editing job. The staff of The Daily Athenaeum, WVU’s student newspaper, has for some reason accepted my offer to care for their website. I won’t question it. I’m excited about the position and the opportunity. Hopefully, I can implement some cool online content in the next year. Plus, I have the option to write, and I plan on taking full advantage. Just another avenue.


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Image Addiction Review: Savage Dragon #170

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

“The page layout matters in comics. The method of how the panels mesh along with the placement of borders and breaks determines the reading experience as well as the pacing.

Well, this issue of Dragon explores that as Larsen shows the effect of page design by repeating one particular layout for basically the entire issue…”

You can read the rest HERE.

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The Digital Thing

The future, right? I’m not sure.

This week Bleeding Cool (as reliable as it may be) dropped word that one of my favorite comics, Savage Dragon, was going to now follow a day-and-date digital release plan through Comixology.

Artwork from Savage Dragon

It is always at least interesting to see a comic book series go forth to test the day-and-date digital market. The decision is a step forward toward this “utopian” concept held by a majority of the online comics scene. The idea of new comics digitized the day they drop in print is the ideal model for most people, the model scribbled on almost all notepads describing peoples’ desires. The plan sounds so well on paper; comics can once again flourish. The ready availability and the scent of future make digital comics seem limitless and offer the chance to once again reclaim a large comics reading audience. Day-and-date only increases this with the excitement of new books every week, the ability to follow the form, and hell if the price can drop below the print price…digital is unstoppable.  

So, Savage Dragon, or any book for that matter, adopting day-and-date brings the ideal a step closer. At least the ideal for most people. I’m not so sure if it’s my ideal, or that I really buy such a belief that digital comics will have such an effect. Why? Well, digital comics clearly already exist, and I’m not feeling much of an effect so far.

Granted, the numbers Comixology, or any digital comics distributor, may do are not available. The information on downloads is mostly unknown to the general online perspective, so for all I know maybe digital comic downloads are totally insane and comics are blossoming again in the mainstream. The publishers, Marvel and DC, do not seem to be giving off this impression though. For all it’s worth, I think they are both still trying to figure this digital thing out. If Comixology’s numbers were so high and so consistent and digital comics were strengthening the industry would it not be believable that Marvel and DC might speed up their push for digital, putting out more day-and-date digital releases rather than the random mini series here and there? I would think so, but they are not. Marvel and DC are still playing it safe with this digital thing, charging still high prices on digital editions in order to keep the print and local comic shop market intact.

Digital is an uncertain ground as of now even though it has existed prominently for about a year. Remember the iPad dropping and how the Marvel Application was at the attention of the media, even making a splash on the iTunes Store home page? That was plenty of attention for comic books, but if the digital numbers are not as strong as people hope after all that…well. Yeah, the selection was sketchy at the beginning you may argue, but the digital products available at that time were still comic books – comic books that most people probably had no knowledge of and would not know if they were good or bad until read. Drop the argument that day-and-date will change all, bringing people in, and I still have to question it. Again, people who are new to comics and know nothing of what is new or old will not be persuaded by day-and-date.  That is an incentive to the current readership. Even then though, day-and-date is only an incentive when the price of digital is cheaper than print which is not happening because digital numbers are not as strong as they need to be to persuade Marvel and DC to go that direction. See that, a cycle. In order for digital to become cheaper than print, digital must outperform the print market but how does that happen when the current readers buy print and no new audience comes to buy digital?

Marvel App Screenshot

Maybe it will just take time for everything to grow and for digital comics, or comic books in general, to latch their teeth into a larger audience. That is always a possibility. My own personal opinion though says that the problem is not availability or price or day-and-date but interest. I do not believe the interest in comic books, or really reading as a leisure, exists with many people today. Too many alternatives to reading exist, and for most these alternatives carry much more of a flash and sex appeal than text on a white page or a book filled with illustrations. Reality TV, Xbox, drugs, alcohol, sports, the internet…those are America’s past times in the 21st century; reading carries more of a hard work connotation. The use of books and idea of concentrating on words runs along with the thoughts of school work, lectures and other dull activities. People do not want that. Not saying reading will die away – reading will always have a place in the world – , but I can see reading for leisure becoming more of a counter-culture activity rather than a tradition practiced by most. And that is just reading in general, not even comics. With comic books I think the problem is even a bit bigger. It is still lack of interest, but the lack of interest stems more from I think the general perception people have of comics. The medium is not seen as something artful or sexy but more as something surrounded by the odd interests held by the geek and nerd culture: Comic-Con, cosplay, the Hulk vs. Superman argument. That reputation holds a strong connotation that I feel most look at negatively.

So if the problem is interest, how does digital fix that? I do not believe it does, unless digital suddenly makes comics attractive and not nerd fodder. I’m not saying suddenly try to make comics “cool” by ditching our geek attitudes and such. I actually feel like that counter-culture identity is a part of the grand aesthetic that makes comic books what they are. Maybe we should just go with that? The idea of comics culture being this small, intimate understanding – why not use that to the advantage? Instead of worrying so much about digital and making comics widely available, why not keep them kind of obscure and in print? As the world goes to pixels, would a print comic book not stand out and automatically attract interest?  Instead of conforming and following the digital media revolution why not stand aside and have comics follow their own path? Instead of catering to an invisible, potential audience why not quit worrying, make good comics and party with the community already present?

I just think it’s kind of fucking stupid to be so worried about digitizing comic books when they are already their own cool, unique thing in print. Sure, the numbers are drifting downward as sales slump, but it’s a bad economy to use the typical excuse. That doesn’t mean print suddenly sucks and we need digital. It just means people are broke at the moment, not being able to buy print or digital comic books. People will come back though, and those interested by the uniqueness of print comic books will catch the bug and start reading. The new generation audience will come. Comics will continue. Let’s just stop trying so hard to keep them going and instead enjoy the party.

But, hey, Savage Dragon is digital, which is cool I guess. Another alternative, which is what digital should be at the end of the day. An alternative, not the only option. I do like my Dragon in print, you know. It’s cool that way.

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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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