Sunday, May 30, 2004

Trip To Target

Just came in from a trip to the local Target store, where I noticed they have books from Marvel Comics that Ihad not seen before. There were full size magazines containing issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Marvel Age Spider Man and others. All for a $4.99 cover price, that looked like a good deal if someone was interesting in trying the series.

I did find it interesting that they have a subscription offer in the back, offering many of their most popular titles for half of the newsstand price. I wonder what retailers will think of that?

i'm thinking about ordering the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic as a subscription, because I really love Stuart Immonen's work. Ellis has been a miss for me over the past year though, and as a concept the FF has never really grabbed me.

I also wonder how well Marvel handles their subscribers books, since i work for the Postal Service and know how mail can be treated at times. Anyone out there ever have any experience with them?

Friday, May 28, 2004

[Astonishing X-Men #1 cover]

Astonishing X-Men #1

Writer: Joss Whedon
Artist: John Cassaday

If the goal of Marvel's bringing in Joss Whedon to write an X-Men series was to recapture lost readers, they accomplished it with this one anyway. I hadn't been to a comic shop in well over 4 months at least, and except for the first Grant Morrison X-Men issue, I haven't been a follower of the titles since the very early 1990s.

Yet I really love Joss's TV shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Firefly, and just out of sheer curiosity had to at least see what his take on these very old characters would be like. So I ventured into the shop and nabbed a copy.

Now comes the real test though, after the name and PR have got me in. Will the product be good enough to make me want to stay?

So far so good. After a kind of icky and hard to follow two page prologue that seems to be setting up the next big threat, we get to the X-Mansion where things are really hopping.

Kitty Pride makes for a great returning reader point of view character, as she too returns to the mansion after years of absence. She's grown and changed, a lot apparently since I last saw her as a teen, just as I have grown and changed a lot since the last time I was an X-Men reader.

She remarks on how somethings at the mansion never change. Which gave me as a returning reader a sense of comfort in knowing that though I may not have been around for a while. There were some familiar things that I could hold on to, and not feel lost about.

Yet as Kitty learns, there have been some changes, which is also refreshing because as a returning reader I want the familiar to a degree. Yet I also don't want to feel like I'm just reading a rehash of someone else's story.

Cyclops and Emma Frost dating is a strange pairing, I'm sure previous writers established it before I returned yet Joss setup all I needed to know in a few pages. I did keep waiting to see why Beast looks like a huge cat now, but I think I may have heard something about that a while back so it isn't anything new either.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of the big deal the team made out of changing costumes back to the original look, rather than the movie version tight leather. It seemed a bit more like author decree rather than story reason, yet if that's what it takes to make Joss have fun then that's fine.

One of the more refreshing things about the book, was a real playful spirit. In this day of gloom and doom comics, it was nice to see a comic that can maintain the balance of telling a serious story with the right mixture of humor to keep things from getting too glum.

There is a bit too much a sense of setup in this issue though. Which is to be expected I suppose with a new series, and the expectations of readers (like myself) who need to be caught back up on things. And I did really enjoy the character bits sprinkled through out.

Yet I got very little sense of what the direction of the series will be, I like characterization and know that is Joss's strong suit. Yet there will hopefully be a very compelling enemy for me to root for our heroes against.

Art wise, Cassaday's figure work is pretty and his big action panels work very well. Yet there isn't a really good flow from panel to panel, and seems more like collections of various scenes stuck together. Which made me have to use my imagination a little more, to follow what happened inbetween the panels.

Still I'm pretty happy, and will check out the second issue of the run in the same fashion as I did this. Which given that I haven't followed any monthly pamphlet comic on a regular basis in over a year, is a win for Marvel's gambit of bringing in such a big name.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The Future of Comics Characters?

Both Dark Horse and Marvel Comics are launching new prose novel imprints.

Could this be the ultimate future of all corporate owned titles, as the direct market declines?
With no real room or a large interest, left for many of the superhero titles in bookstore chains. Plus a dwindling fanbase, that is likely to have less and less interest in shopping at direct market comic shops.

Might there eventually come a day when the only new stories featuring these older characters, will be those available in prose form?

I'm not sure, maybe I'm wrong about the DM's effect waning as time goes by too. Yet it certainly seems a possibility at least.

Legion of Super-Heroes Returns!

Well that wasn't a very long downtime for the concept, after news of its series was ending just a few months backa new start by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson has already been announced.

Though fans can understandably be worried because this is being described as yet another complete revamp of the franchise. With the mess the book has been in over the past 4 years or more, a new start doesn't bother me that much, especially given the obvious love of the the concept by the creators involved.

The new book is going to be given every opportunity to succeed, with a oneshot crossover/leadin, teaming the new team with the ultra popular Teen Titans book. So hopefully the book's quality will be high enough to appeal to both the old fans, as well as the new ones who will be trying the concept for the first time.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Where's the love?

I've been spending time this evening looking through various comic reviews and news websites. Usually I see something that makes me at least curious, if not outright excited, on one of these sites for a comic that is coming soon. Yet today I'm hit with this big wave of apathy at everything I've looked at so far.

Newsarama has a report on a new Ultimate Elektra series, by Mike Carey whose work I like more often than not. Yet I find myself wondering why they can't have an Elektra story without Daredevil in it. It just seems sad that such a neat character as was on display in the previous mini by Greg Rucka. Apparently isn't thought to be good enough to stand on her own, and must have herself defined by her relationship with her boyfriend.

They also have an article dealing with a sequel to the G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover. Yet despite both properties being a big influence on my childhood, I only have a wish that it would guest-star other 80s series like ThunderCats and He-Man. Who would all die on the first page of a one page comic.

I then went to check Johanna Draper Carlson's blog, yet only find more DCU reviews of books that sound like either incredibly inane pointless subplots, or inside comic geek knowledge storytelling.

I did find myself laughing in some amusement at the Superman cover she has on display, that looks like one of those old colorforms stickers with the sheer flatness of it. While wondering if the Spoiler/Robin on that other cover's bra is padded enough to cushion her fall when she hits the ground coming in at that angle.

Over on John Jakala's blog, he has some amusing comments on some odd looking Marvel covers. Which he receives points for having none of them be by Greg Horn. Too bad his comments were more interesting than any of the Marvel Comics I've sampled lately.

Okay I'm sounding way too cynical here I know, and perhaps it is just the odd mood I'm in. Yet I'm looking around and can't seem to find anything from American comics to get excited about. So much of it seems to be nostalgic driven navel gazing to try and recapture someone's youth. Or gloom and doom "the world will never be the same again" claptrap PR, that has me rolling my eyes.

It's not even that I outright despise anything either, I have some gripes, but for the most part I just find myself not able to care. I used to really love comics too, so that kind of bothers me. I've never been what some might consider the target audience, yet I've never felt this isolated or perhaps ignored before.

At least I still have manga, where again I'm not the target audience, but at least I feel welcomed by the way the publishers try and do such different things.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Quick Manga Takes

[Zodiac P.I. Book 1 cover]

Zodiac P.I. Book 1

Created and Drawn by Natsumi Ando
Published by Tokyopop, 177 pages $9.99

This looked like it would be fun little book when I saw it at the library. There on the cover was a young attractive girl, who looked like she was very cheerful and as such hoot to read about. Add in the back cover saying it was a mystery, with her as a teen detective and I thought it was a can't miss.

Too bad it really wasn't, as the cute girl, named Lili, is too ditzy to be even a little funny. She isn't really a detective but an astrologer who has a magic ring, that these cute little goddesses (think the laptops from Chobits) come out of and give her a fortune on a given person.

Which she then uses as an excuse to run around making all of these weird proclamations, that rarely turn out to be true. Most annoying, was that the book relies on her super smart childhood male friend to actually solve the cases, because apparently girls just can't do anything right if a guy isn't there to tell them the correct path.

I did have a feeling which I think might mirror how a fan just discovering superhero comics might feel. When Lili goes to confront the bad guy she puts on this strange dress, and calls herself Spica Zodiac .P.I. Which took me the longest to get that it was a secret identity for her, as I wondered why the other characters didn't know who she was.

Especially since the dress isn't that different from what she normally wears, and she doesn't wear a mask or change her hairstyle or how she acts or talks.Yet no one else in the book had any clue to her dual identity.

One of the odd thing I've noticed about the mystery/murder manga books so far, is a trend to make us feel sorry for the murderer. Which seems odd to feel sympathy for people who do some of the truly horrible things in this volume and in other series like Kindachi Case Files. Yet each story turns that way in the end, with trying to paint the murderers deeds in a tragic light.

[Girl Got Game Book 1 cover]

Girl Got Game Book 1

Created and Drawn by Shizuru Seino
Published by Tokyopop, 176 pages $9.99

There are rare times when a series will have a basic idea that sounds really stupid, yet when you read the book it takes that idea in fascinating ways that you didn't expect out of the concept.

This isn't one of them.

Kyo is a young girl about to go off to the prestigious high school she always wanted to go to, and can't be more excited about her future. That is all brought crashing to a screeching halt though, when her dad reveals that he faked her records to make them think she's a boy. Because the school has a highly ranked basketball team, and he wants to live his dream of making the NBA through her.

Everything in this book is so dull, that I found myself just flipping through it before I hit the halfway point. Kyo doesn't want to do what her dad wishes, which is a pretty twisted fantasy since it means she has to room with the boys in their dorm. Yet we don't see her argument, just her magically appearing at the new school with short hair.

I wonder the creator didn't really know of a convincing argument to make the entire idea make sense, so had it happen off panel .

When she gets there she has the typical story of finding a boy she really likes, but who is mean and surly to her. Yet they wind up being roommates, and she eventually wins him over with kindness and good nature. Yet she can't reveal her attraction to him, because it'll give away that she's a girl.

Which actually made me wonder, likely because I was bored, whether this would have worked better without the girl dressed as boy element. Given that outside of a very PROLONGED part about her having her period, it isn't really explored at all. Yet a gay boy in this same role might have held my interest a little longer due to different dynamics.

The art is nice, open and very expressive though. So if the creator ever does anything that makes a bit more sense concept wise, I might try it.

[xxxHOLiC Book 1 cover]

xxxHOLiC Book 1

Created and Drawn by CLAMP
Published by Del Rey, 208 pages $10.95

Watnuki Kimihiro is a young man who is constantly haunted by ghosts, to the point of never getting to have a normal life. He is drawn into a mysterious shop one day, where a witch named Yuko makes him an offer. If he'll come to work for her, she'll take away the ability to see the ghosts.

He accepts but soon finds that he has gotten himself into more than he's bargained for, when he's made her cook, butler and all around errand runner. Yuko also has other customers, people with problems that find themselves in her shop. Who she tries to help, but they all too often are beyond that point and meet less than lovely endings.

The only previous book by CLAMP I'd read was Chobits, about a world where men are obsessed with computers shaped like young women. This book shows that the talent can be very diverse in terms of themes as well as artistic looks.

In Chobits the focus is on city life in the near future, where everything looks either very high tech or at least modern. Here there is a sense of old world styling and atmosphere.

The art styles are near complete opposites as well. Chobits uses very little blacks in its art, leaving lots of white space around the characters and a bright looking world. When it does use black it is to hammer home an emotional scene. Here everything is black and moody looking. With the use of white space to explore an emotional impacting scene.

This book surprised me with its depth. While I can't say I like it yet, the strange mood and settings it places its stories in has me curious enough to want to read more.


Johanna also covers the DC Mature titles as well, but outside of Human Target none sound very interesting to me. And even with it, the bif appeal is the art of Cliff Chiang whose work I greatly admire.

Like her I find the Authority boring, because nothing can happen to the characters. Just like the characters they were created to parody or counter, having reach a level of success nothing lasting can now happen to them now.

The entire Focus line holds no interest to me, because it is little more than DC trying to do something different, by doing more of the same.

While Lucifer is just a series that I'll admit is just" too smart for me" I guess. I can look at it and see quality, yet I don't care enough about it to want to devote the time and energy of keeping the various elements straight to follow it.

Good coverage though, and nice to see what the female creators at DC are into.

Johanna's Marvel Reviews and Chick Check

Johanna has done her reviews of the latest batch of Marvel Comics this week, along with a check to see how many female creators there are working on them. Some interesting thoughts on the books:

Amazing Spider-Man #507 -- 0 out of 7. I don't care much for Spider-Man's character at the best of times. He's always struck me as something of a whiner, and I just don't relate to the "guy with powers who's still a shlub".

I used to be a big Spidey fan because of the fun he seemed to have as Spider-Man, and the poor shlub thing worked for me at the time. Yet as I grew older I things got better for me, and it made me realize that the "oh woe is me" tales Peter went through no longer held as much interest for me. So it made it easier to quit the titles when the clone saga started.

I wonder if that was why I latched onto the Kyle Rayner character so much though? I like the more "down to Earth" type characters, and he had similar ups and downs. Yet he seemed genuinely happy for the most part. His problems brought him down, but when he worked through them he was better at the end.

Something Peter never will accomplish, as being the ultimate loser eventually is his hallmark. Perhaps to give many comic fans whose lives can be a constant struggle someone they can feel sorry for?

Why does there need to be some mystical purpose behind it all? Seems to me, little as I know about the character, that it's a mismatch with the fundamental premise.

Yeah from the descriptions I've read of it, it sounds like a prolonged Mopie storyline. And like Mopey will be forgotten soon after.

Cable & Deadpool #3 (Why does this book need two each inkers, letterers, and colorists?)

Cable and Deadpool strike me as two very different characters, in terms of world they live in and how they are portrayed. Perhaps the two like that, so that each can stay true to their unique look? Or Marvel was doing a rushjob on this book to meet deadline and so gave it to as many people as possible.

New X-Men Academy X #1 -

I didn't realize this was out yet. It sounded from Johanna's review that it could be sort of tame. Yet I've always liked the idea of the kids in school part of the X-Men mythos. I wonder what the art looks like, and whether it'd be something worth tracking down.

Good reviews by her this week. As someone who grew bored trying to cover everything DC put out each month when I was on the comps list. I wonder how long she'll be able to keep up the pace of covering both companies output each weekend before burnout. Especially when she starts running into the same problems each and every month, because by the third month I was tired of saying the same thing.

She's more imaginative than I though, so she'll probably find a way to adapt.

Friday, May 21, 2004

No Updates today

Sorry gang but this has been a very odd day that has left me reevaluating a friendship, a possible romance that has hit a snafu, and a problem at work. Which means no update today, and likely through the weekend until I figure out what, if anything, to do.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Old Interview, Weird Nugget

From an interview at Newsarma with Brad Meltzer on the upcoming DC Identity Crisis crossover:
“Is there ever a happy ending at the end of a murder mystery? The heroes are going to be much more unhappy, beyond the mourning associated with who's dead. Life has changed.

Yeah because I want to see people with the power to run faster than light, bend steel with their hands and the rest be even more down and glum then they have been in recent years. Hey howbout for a followup, he writes a story about a multibillionaire who despite being rich, just can't find anything he wants to buy.

I guess I'm not the target audience anymore, but what happened to to just telling stories that are fun? If you're looking for something with deeper meaning and the like, than perhaps corporate owned superheroes running around with their underwear on the outside of their clothes, aren't for you.

Mobile Phones Hurt Manga?

Mark Frauenfelder's journal has him posting from Japan, where he is surprised at how things have changed on the subways and trains there since his last visit. When he was there fourteen years ago, everyone was reading manga while riding the trains, but now everyone has mobile phones that they use instead.

A part of what made manga so popular to the Japanese audience, was it was something easy to carry and read while you commuted to work. Now with other options available it is understandable for there to be some decline, but I doubt its as drastic as the Markpaints it.

From the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

ITEM! New Censorship Bill Turns Parents Into Prosecutors

On April 28, California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) introduced
legislation that could "turn parents into prosecuting attorneys
fighting a wave of obscenity," the representative told

H.B. 4239, also called the "Parents' Empowerment Act,"
would allow the parent or guardian of a minor to sue in federal court
anyone who knowingly disseminates any media containing "material
that is harmful to minors" if the material is distributed in a way
that "a reasonable person can expect a substantial number of
minors to be exposed to the material and the minor, as a result to
exposure to the material, is likely to suffer personal or emotional
injury or injury to mental or moral welfare." The bill has been
referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill allows compensatory damages starting at no less than $10,000
for any instance in which a minor is exposed to "harmful to
minors" entertainment products. The bill also allows that punitive
damages and reasonable fees may be awarded to the prevailing party at
the discretion of the court. The bill also seeks to strengthen the
current test courts utilize in determining what is obscene material by
providing a separate definition of obscenity specifically for
children. It is an affirmative defense to action under this bill if a
parent or guardian of the minor owned the material.

The bill is in its earliest stage, but if it passes, it will seriously
threaten retailers, distributors, and publishers. talked to
Hunter who said, "If the people who published (the material),
published it in such a way that they could reasonably have expected
children to access it, then the parents can receive an award of

"This bill is troubling on several levels," explains CBLDF
Director Charles Brownstein. "It appears to allow for civil
actions against any, or every, member of the dissemination food chain,
from the retailer to the distributor to the publisher, of work that an
individual parent may object to. So any citizen, using their own sense
of what is obscene or harmful to minors, can bring suit. Considering
that comics still suffer the cultural and legal stigma of being
perceived as a juvenile medium, this bill could become a dangerous
weapon in the hands of an individual who walks into a comic book store
and is shocked to find that comics offer much more than Archie and

Hunter's bill enjoys the support of several religious, family, and
conservative legal groups including the Christian Coalition, the
American Center for Law and Justice and the World Family Policy Center
at Brigham Young University. Working closely with Media Coalition, the
CBLDF will continue to monitor the progress of this bill.

People's stupidity when it comes to the "we must protect the kids" thing just gets more ludicrous as time goes on. What next, a law restricting what we can think?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Bad Day

I've had just a terrible day both at work and home and personally and professionally, which along with not feeling well has me planning to call it an early night soon.

So the only comment I have is that a reminder that today (May 19) was International Manga Meetup Day not sure why they set such an arbitrary date, but there you go. I didn't get to talk with anyone I know who likes manga today, but I'm going to celebrate it all the same by reading some manga before I go to sleep.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Dumb idea of the night

While browsing through the various sites and blogs, on John Jakala's blog's entry about reviewing is a comments section that has a host of popular names posting about the topic.

Reviewer Johanna Draper Carlson talks about contemplating no longer accepting review submissions from publishers, given how much they expect from her for them. Yet that given her time and at times interests, means she has to disappoint many of them, given the sheer number of books she receives.

My wacky idea, which I know isn't possible given cost, time etc. ,and would likely just piss off the companies as well. Is to develop a system of reviewers she can farm out the books to. Given how many reviewers are hamstrung by only being able to read and cover the books they already buy. This would be an interesting way to expand the diversity of what is covered through out the industry.

Reviewers on her "farm team" I guess could either pay or trade for shipping and time costs. And she would use her blog to point to each new review, meeting the publisher's goal of getting the word out about the book.

Yet as I said I know it is undoable, and is just an dumb notion that struck me tonight as I was reading it. Yet hey part of the fun of blogging is being able to spit out any dumb notion one has!;)

Defining the differences

Following up on yesterday's comments about whether what blogger Johanna Draper Carlson said about Aquaman #18 is a review or not. I've begun wondering if there isn't an even simpler way to tell the difference between a comment and review, than length or worth of insight.

Simply put, I wonder if a comment is just someone expressing what their likes or dislikes of a particular item are. While a review usually tends to go into why something is liked or disliked and hopefully an eventualy discover of whether something is good or bad. Which some might consider the same, yet the two comparisons can mean quite different things.

For instance, Neil Gaimon's Sandman run, and Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan are widely considered two of the best examples of what comics can offer. Which is entirely correct, as the craft and attention to detail in both is above what you'll see on nearly any other comic story crafted.

Yet I can't stand either one of them.

I found Sandman to be pretentious to the point of aggravation. While JC was such a depressing story, that I had to struggle to finish it, because it was just not a story type I was interested in. Yet I can look at both and know that while they are not designed for my tastes, I can admire the craft of the people behind them.

Being able to separate like that can be difficult though, especially if you are emotionally attached to what you read. Yet I think it would behoove any reader, much less reviewer, to always take a hard look on the WHY they like or dislike something. At least as much as they tend to focus on the WHAT they like or dislike.

Okay, so maybe I was wrong

A few days back I made an entry here,basically ripping writer Peter David for taking on a book dealing with a character I'd never heard of. After a series of misses recently, I just thought he needed a bigger title to show off on.

Yet after seeing this report on Newsarama about the series, I'm starting to change my mind. The idea of a character who can live multiple lives, and always has time for everything and yet feels cut off is interesting.

The design of the character's look is interesting as well, and looks like it could be something very different from the crop of stuff Marvel usually comes up with. I'm at the point now, where I'd be willing to try it now at least, which is quite a turnaround from my earlier sentiments.

Catwoman Movie

The media blitz for the movie has started, as I was bombarded with commercials for it last night while watching television. Most comic fans are upset because it will have little resemblance to the long time comic book character. Yet that doesn't bother me about it one bit, there is more than enough other awful looking stuff in the commercial to be upset about.

How they did the impossible, and made Halle Berry unattractive is one thing. The Catwoman costume she wears is so ridiculous looking, that I find it very hard to believe it got past producers. Yet even that is just superficial I'll admit.

No the main problem of the movie, is that it seems that the producers are WAY too into a former comic book movie The Crow. The commercial actually has the line that when people die violently, sometimes a cat can bring them back. Which is a blatant steal of the Crow's storyline, of a crow bringing the hero back to exact his revenge.

I know there aren't any original ideas left anymore, but still if you are going to swipe something, try and make it something not still fairly fresh in audience's minds.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Review or Commentary?

That seems to be the topic of interest today, as blogger Laura Gjovaag took umbrage at Johanna Draper Carlson's comments on Aquaman #18. Calling it poor writing, and stating that Johanna had apparently not read the book in question, labeling it a poor review.

Which Johanna replied back to stating that this was not a review, but a commentary, which is a definition Laura disagreed with.

Now I'll admit up front my bias here, in saying that Johanna has been one of my longest running friends, both on and offline. Yet I found the whole "controversy," such as it was, pretty weird.

I've never thought of Johanna's commentaries on her blog as reviews, so much as just pieces of conversation. Her thoughts always struck me as the next best thing to sitting with a friend "shooting the bull" about the latest movies or TV shows, or in this case comics we experienced lately.

Perhaps a reason for confusion here, is that Johanna can at times be "too smart for the room" in how she thinks even casually. Instead of simply saying she likes or dislikes something, she often has some nifty insight or funny aside, that perhaps makes those that don't know her think more of what she says, than what she means.

Anyone that's observed her site can see that her reviews are much more focused, and usually much longer and detailed than the things we've seen on her blog. She even has a philosophy of reviewing that brings up some interesting points, though I don't know about having to talk about art each time you review. Because if nothing really stands out about it for the good or bad, it can be boring to just say "very workman like, that tells the story well."

Hopefully she'll do some reviews for her site soon, and those just finding her writing will be able to compare the two different types of writing.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

[Comic Party Book 1 cover]

Comic Party: Party Time Book 1

Created and Drawn by Various
Published by CPM Manga, 164 pages $9.99

Comic Party is a series that follows a group want to be manga creators, as they try to put together submissions for an anthology book for an upcoming convention. The setup reminds me a lot of what I see creators here go through for SPX. Reaffirmed by one story showing the creators actually setting up for the convention, talking about how the show is designed to be non-corporate and only for those supporters of the show.

The book has an interesting twist of getting various real life indy manga cartoonists to do the stories, which means the quality is up and down as with any anthology type book. Yet this one is stronger as a whole than a lot of other anthologies that I've seen before.

The stories span the various genres, with one or two almost superhero inspired takes on the characters. To a lot of comedy takes on trying to meet deadlines, and one of the funniest bits a "Beat Each Other With a Graphic Novel" contest. Which has the participants battling each other with the thickest GNs they can find.

The best part of the book though, are the focuses on the character Mizuki. She's the girlfriend of Kazuki, one of the would be creators, and while she doesn't particularly understand his passion for comics. She tries to be supportive, and appreciates that he has a passion for what he does.

Malow Tea by Ruri Akise puts this on display the best, as Mizuki is hurt by him having to yet again cancel plans with her because of his work. She lashes out at him, but feels guilty immediately for doing so and rushes off rather than confront him further.

While out she meets up with one of her and Kazuki's mutual friends , and another would be pro, who invites her for tea. They talk about the problems Mizuki and Kazuki are having, and she gives Mizuki advice on how it is okay be a little selfish. While using the tea as a wonderfully surprising metaphor for how Mizki was feeling.

How the significant others of comic professional handle the time away from them that the work requires, was an aspect I hadn't even thought of before. Yet this captured that well, and I could understand her mixed feelings of understanding and even supporting his need to do these things that takes time away from her. Yet still feeling a little hurt that at times she had to take a back seat, and deal with being put off until later but trust that he cared enough to eventually come to her.

This was just a wonderful little book, and I can hardly wait to see the series in regular form when it comes out from Tokyopop later this year.

Wow and PAD Wonders Why His Sales Are Low?

Peter David was at one time one of the biggest name writers in comics. Bringing a sense of humor and pathos to characters like the Hulk and Aquaman, while amounting critical and commerical success. He seemingly had that rare power of having his pick of series to write.

Yet in recent years a lot of the luster has worn off, with his regular series Supergirl and Captain Marvel being canceled for low sales. While his current series, Fallen Angel, is also is in danger of meeting the same fate, with lack luster sales.

Now of course every creator has highs and lows in their career, yet some just lose their audience because they are unable to keep up with what is popular. This news from Newsarma that has him writing a miniseries on Multiple Man, a small character, unknown by the majority of even the small number of comic readers seems odd. It just seems like yet another disaster in the waiting for him.

PAD had a specialness about him at one time, because he had a well known career writing Star Trek and other novel series. Now with the influx of creators like Kevin Smith, Joss Whedon and others, that part of him is no longer quite as special. Making him just one more name in the ever increasing crowd of comic writers.

Perhaps I'm wrong, and this take on a small character that by its nature will allow a freer hand will be a hit. Yet in today's market, where anything too different from the norm is ignored, I have my doubts. It just seems an odd project for a creator who seems to badly need a big project after a rash of misses to take on.

Only time will tell though.

Want to be a comic pro? Be ready for Editorial politics

Writer Ron Marz was asked today about his short run on the Secret Defenders series for Marvel Comics, and how he came to be on the title.What follows is a bizarre sequence that had me laughing but feeling oddly disturbed as well:

I never actually agreed to write the damn book. Not officially, anyway. During that period I was writing Thor (admittedly a pretty wretched year, with some truly weird art by future Disney background designer Bruce Zick). The editor was Mike Rockwitz, also the editor of Secret Defenders. I REALLY wanted another artist on Thor, and had suggested Tom Grindberg, who had a great feel for the epic/barbaric stuff. Tom came up to my house for a weekend and we brainstormed ideas, came up with desgns, some pretty cool stuff. Maybe I'll dig them out and post them at some point.

Shortly thereafter, I headed into the Marvel offices to meet with Rockwitz and Grindberg to see if we could put together something on Thor. The three of us headed out to lunch, accompanied by Rockwitz's supervising editor, Ralph Macchio. When we finally got the restaurant, Ralph says to me, "So, we're excited you guys have agreed to take on Secret Defenders. The book really needs some new blood." I looked at Tom, he looked at me, and the glance we exchanged made it clear that NEITHER of us knew what the hell Ralph was talking about.

Obviously what had happened is that Rockwitz had told his boss, Ralph, that we were the new team on Secret Defenders. Unfortunately, Rockwitz had never asked either of us if we wanted to do it. So we had the choice of blowing the whistle on our editor, and making him look bad in front of his boss; or, going along with it so Rockwitz wasn't compromised. I guess Tom and I silently decided to go along with it.

Ralph asked what I had in mind for the book, and I made up some stuff on the spot. And Tom pretty much said, "Whatever Ron says." So there were handshakes all around, and rather than having a shot at Thor, Tom and I embarked upon a short and (thankfully) unremembered run on Secret Defenders. I bailed out after ... six issues? Eight? I don't even remember. Tom stayed for a few more after that. And at the end of my year on Thor, I departed from that title as well.

Gotta love comic politics stories!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

You'll never see this on C-Span

Weird article at USA Today, with the Japanese Prime Minister scolding rookie law makers for reading comics on the parliament floor. Hmm imagine if this was our congress? What kind of comics do you see as being the type congress men and women reading?

Of course we all know that President Bush is reading those "cool" Chuck Austen comics...

Friday, May 14, 2004

Time Covers Indie GNs.

Andrew D. Arnold covers Allison Cole's "Never Ending Summer," James Kochalka's "Sketchbook Diaries Vol. 4" and Jeff Brown's "Unlikely" for Time, having some interesting insights on these much lesser known books.

Yet I found it odd how he described the books in a Do It Yourself movement. Almost as if saying that the quality on these were such, that they showed that anyone can do comics if they want to try.

Of course with so many bad comics out there these days, I guess that notion is true.Anyone can do a comic if they have the time and money to put into it. It isn't something I would want to encourage others to do though, as the last thing we need are more bad comics in today's market.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

B&N Ultimate Spider-Man HC Exclusive

Via Johanna, Marvel is offering an exclusive HC containing the first three Ultimate Spider-Man collections at Barnes & Nobles. Comic Retailers are understandably upset over being left out of this offer, which will have 992 pages of story at $49.95 retail (though only $34.95 online). Or just a little bit over what one of the HC volumes of the series in the Direct Market offers at $30 a piece for only 1/3 as many pages.

I'm tempted by it I must admit, as it is such a great deal and I've always liked Spider-Man but found Bendis's stories too slow to follow. Yet surely with 992 pages to work with, something substantial had to happen. I would hope anyway...

Discussion heats back up

As first reported on Johanna's blog a few days ago was a thread on writer Ron Marz's message board, with former CrossGen creators commiserating about their experiences at the company. There were some fairly mean things said, most about the too hands on control that Alessi had over the creative staff and direction.

Things had been slowing down since then, to the point where the thread had almost ran its course. That is until this post by former CrossGen PR representative Ian Feller:

Hello Ron, Drew, Andy, Andrea and all my other fellow former co-workers that may be here somewhere. Very interesting discussion going on here. I'm a little shocked to read how horrible and stifling CrossGen was for all of you. And how much disdain there is for some of our other co-workers.

While I agree that the majority of the poor choices were handed down from WAY on high, no one forced anyone to remain there if they felt so strongly about how terrible the books were or how poorly the company was run. I don't remember but two people leaving because of those reasons. It seems to me that I'm reading the rants of a bunch of cry babies. For all those years it was very easy to take the easy money and tow the company line and not express your negative opinions. Even with NDAs people still did it when they felt strongly enough and wanted to stand up for it. But now that times have changed, how easy it is to spew venom.

I loved my time at CG and all my co-workers as family. Wouldn't it have been just as easy to say nothing? What are you gaining from trashing what we all built? I don't get it.

In the early days, CG took no-names and the downtrodden, who in a lot of cases were cast off by the big 2, and turned them into creators the fans want to see. As horrible as you think your time there may have been, remember where you were before you came there and how much better off you are now. Don't piss on my memories.

I just did a quick websearch but was unable to find a suitable comic book explosion sound effect, so just imagine one and you'll get the reaction the others had to this.

First up was

Andrea Di Vito

Hey Ian,
i'll make it simple for ya, these are not YOUR memories , you never were in our shoes.
These are MY memories and if i wanna piss on them i will.
There are good things and bad things about crossgen, like any other experience. Point is, we are merely discussing WHY CG failed, if you care to join in the discussion you're more than welcome but keep in mind that with a few exceptions, there was no "Easy money" for the artists, we worked harder than any of you management guys.

Kind of harsh, but to the point. Ron came in next to try to settle things down somewhat, but feelings were already bruised hence these snippets, of much longer posts, by Drew Geraci

A lot of us sold our souls for money, there's no doubt, myself included. If you consider me a crybaby, so be it. Your opinion, while curious, is coming from one of the luckiest people in comics. You think your track record's going to get you into another comics company? I think you were insulated and caught up in the fantasy that CG was going to crush Marvel and DC. I remember you gleefully predicting DC and Marvel's demise. In fact, you'd counted on that as part of your strategy. Very pollyanna-ish.

Before CG, I myself was on the fast track at DC doing JLA and Nightwing,(both of which I STILL get royalties from!) which you may have overlooked, as they were in the Diamond top ten and fifty, respectively. However, I understand you had to routinely skip the top 100 searching for CG books. Once in a while there was a blip where a first issue or Sojourn would squeek in there. Hmm, I wonder who inked that the first year?

A lot of us took a MAJOR speedbump in our careers that we're still overcoming to restablish ourselves to the mainstream. During my CG tenure, I turned down several offers from other companies, and although CG's money was better at the time, career-wise I'm now having to restablish myself after a 3-year exile catering to a hardcore readership of 10,000 or so.

and Scott Eaton who after reaffirming what the other had said, added

What does it say about Crossgen that Scot Eaton, no name, downtrodden and cast-off by the big two, packed up his wife and cats and bags and moved back to Vermont in the February of 2003?

It says that starting my career over again was a better bet than Crossgen.

It is always strangely interesting to follow things like this. There is an awkwardness in seeing professionals argue about things that for the most part only happens behind closed doors. Yet it is also interesting, because you learn how the business of comics is no different than any other field.

Which perhaps is good, because it can keep you from blindly worshipping any creator or the opposite hating a creator because you realize they are people with problems just like you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Marvel Comics Hates America?

According to Michael Lackner they do, as he hammers Marvel and Punisher writer Garth Ennis for what he perceives as leftwing anti American sentiment in recent issues of the Punisher series of comics. Citing things like the books portraying President Bush as a drunk, having the Punisher threaten to assassinate him and refusing to go after Bin Laden in the article.

I don't know if I've ever read a Punisher comic, though the impression I've always gotten was that he wasn't something to look to for a positive role model. Some of the points Lackner makes did make me wonder at a comic putting something like that in its pages. (having a fictional character threatening to kill a real life person for one)

Yet as I read further I started getting the impresion that anything that shows the US government in less than positive light is un-American to Mr. Lackner, which is a laughable position. So I started wondering how much he was describing actually happen as he says, and how much is his own bias.

This isn't the first time the author has taken Marvel to task for being, as he sees it, Un-American. Last year he teamed up with Michael Medved, to write The Betrayel of Captain America dealing with other perceived anti-government/America stories Marvel was publishing in the Captain America series at the time.

Ron Marz Gives Writing Advice

Ron gives a very detailed response to a fan, as to how he actually writes a comic. Anyone curious about the process should definitely give it a look.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Comics Out This Week

This is the stuff coming out this week that sounds good to me.

Source for this list it the ComicList: New Comic Book Releases List for Wednesday, May 12, 2004, © 2004 by Charles LePage with information from Sun Coast Comics.

Star Wars Empire #19, $2.99 - Ron Marz's debut issue of the series as regular writer. I've seen some preview pages of it, most of which was of Darth Vader, and must say they blew me away with their detail. I like the Star Wars movies, though I wouldn't say I'm obsessed with them, but Ron is promising story arcs focusing on Princess Leia, Han Solo, rather than the "hanger ons" that had become the star of these series in recent times.

Kane Vol 2 Rabbit Hunt TPB, $12.95 - Probably my favorite of the Kane collections, featuring a criminal who runs around in a rabbit suit!

Walking Dead #7, $2.95
Walking Dead Vol 1 Days Gone Bye TPB, $9.95
Good marketing by Image to put these out in the same week. It is a series about a small town sheriff who after an accident wakes up to discover that zombies now run the world. Usually I'm not one for horror stories of this type, zombies are just icky, but the characterization and plot twists have kept me coming back to it.

Blue Monday Painted Moon #1 (Of 4), $2.99 Glad to see Chynna return to this series after the Scooter Girl mini of last year. Which was a fun little series, but this book and its mixed up group of teenagers is where I feel her talent comes through clearest.

Inker Drew Geraci Has Blog

Former CrossGen inker Drew Geraci has a blog now. Updated every Tuesday night it promises to talk about comic news, his upcoming projects and his comic influences. Two weeks ago he started talking about his former employer CG, detailing first how he came to know about them and telling of another story of a publisher who didn't pay the creators who worked for them. One of them oddly enough being John Dell, who has found himself in the same boat with CrossGen.

Last week he decided against continuing this feature for now.

Citing this:

I've had a few days to think about how much ugliness I'd have to dredge up, and frankly, I don't think I have the enthusiasm I thought I would. The summer's coming and starting this week, I'm inking Captain America, a character I've dreamed of working on since I was seven. I think I'm finally getting the poison, or Kool-aid, if you will, out of my system and moving on with my life. Let's face it, I'd only be hurting the good people I've worked side-by-side with for three years and in a perfect world, they should be prospering. To those who are my friends still at CG, I'm sorry if I've caused more angst than you're already going through with my sarcasm.

Which I think may be for the best. While it is good at times to share the bad experiences with others, to make those not in the know aware of what's happened. So that they can judge`whether it is something to support or even be warned about if they intend to work there.

A lot of the times all that really happens is those still having to deal with the situation as is are put in tight spots. And it is them that feel the brunt of it, rather than those who really should be held accountable.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Johanna on Chobits

Johanna says:I've had people tell me that I should be more disturbed by the way the female lead is literally an object, serving her master, but oddly, it doesn't bother me. Part of that is the cuteness that pervades the series, especially with the little fairy-looking laptop. Part of it is that it's so blatant and obvious about its symbolism that that doesn't even seem like the right term for it.

Perhaps I'm taking it too seriously when I read the series, I have read more volumes than Johanna has after all.

Yet I think a point of the series is the way the men treat the persocoms as objects. This isn't meant to be objectifying, at least in the way that a Tomb Raider or the like does where the women are just there to be looked at.

It comes across to me as much more as showing how wrong it is for men to treat women as objects. Shown in many ways, like many of the men's inability to relate to the real women, and by how the men and women look for different things in the persocoms.

Or at least that's my interpretation of the series anyway. Which when I first read it I didn't like it quite that much, but the more I read the more fascinating I founds its social commentary to be.

Time Exams What's Wrong with Superman

An incredibly indepth article looking at the problems Superman as a character faces today in various mediums. With opinions from the current crop of creators, Warner Bros management, to even huge Superman fan comedian Jerry Seinfield. The question of how to make him relevant today is explored in great detail.

Legion Canceled

My favorite DC superhero teams is getting the axe. While nothing in this run has interested me enough to read it, because in my opinion it got away from the sense and wonder and optimism that personified the series for me. I had always hoped that perhaps someday it would come back to the type of stories I wanted to read.

At least the series should go out with a bang, by having Gail Simone and Dan Jurgens team up for a story that seems to have promise. Yet Gail does give us some hope by saying she knows that DC has plans for the series beyond this ending. Hopefully it'll be a return of the classic type of stories, as well as the title Legion of Super-Heroes which never should have been changed anyway.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

[Negima Volume 1 cover]

Negima Volume 1

Created and Drawn by Ken Akamatsu
Translated by Hajime Honda
Adapted by Peter David and Kathleen O'Shea David
Published by Del Rey, 208 pages $10.95

Ten year old Negi Springfield has just graduated from a prestigious magic academy in England, and can't be any happier. That is until he learns what his next assignment on the road to becoming a Magister Magi, a sort of guardian angel magician, is to teach junior high girls in far off Japan.

There he has to deal with an odd group of personalities. Some who don't want to take him seriously because of his age, and one who at first hates his guts because he's taking the position of a professor she has a crush on.

As any reader of his Love Hina series should be able to tell, Ken Akamatsu likes drawing young women. Which this book provides ample opportunity for with more than 31 female characters as regular cast members. The foreword promises they will all have unique personalities, yet so far they seem to only have different body types.

Which given the artist's penchant for having their clothes torn from their bodies, is likely the reason why for large cast. After all, I'm sure it would get boring to draw the same two or three characters nude all of the time.

There is supposed to be a story here, I think, about friendships and growing up. Yet it gets lost in all of the titillation jokes and pandering panty shots. Instead of having different personalities the girls only have different reasons for liking, or disliking, Negi.

The more I think on it, the more this reads like a selfish guy's fantasy of the world revolving around him. Everything in the book revolves around his life and experiences, and the other characters are only ciphers to reflect on him as the center of attention. Even when they don't know he's around he's the topic of everyone's discussion.

The humor here is very low grade, filled with women rubbing their breasts on him, bath jokes, etc. I think they try to appeal to the younger readers who read Harry Potter with Negi's background. Yet there really isn't anything remotely like Potter in this series beyond that he's a wizard, and is more like the Girls Gone Wild Videos you see commercial on TV.

The book just left me cold, even with all the pandering and teasing of Love Hina at least there was the nifty plot of the burgeoning romance between its lead and one of the girls. This lacks even that, and doesn't leave me with any real need to read more.

Former CrossGen Employees go public about their former employer.

Ron Marz, Drew Geraci, Andy Smith and Andrea Di Vito, talk candidly about the things that went wrong, and who they feel are responsible. This point by Drew Geraci was especially interesting I thought:

I did an interview months ago where I mentioned CG was 'hamstrung by beauracracy' and that's all I felt comfortable saying about it at the time.

I remember Ron looking exhausted some days because he had the burden of shoehorning good writing around the directives of an arrested adolescent, a gym teacher and an dull writer who's managed to loiter around the industry (on and off) for 15 years. Make your own conclulsions about whom I speak.

I expect to see even more former CG employees go public soon, as the company's demise draws closer each day, and any chance of payment for work done becomes less likely.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Today's Links of Interest

The Saga of the Seven Seas Reviewed

The reviewer, Joules Taylor, is a new name to me while the book in question is of little interest to me her review had some very interesting points as she defined what a graphic novel is to her.

The skill involved in creating a successful graphic novel astounds me. Obviously the basic story has to be appealing in some way - exciting, dramatic, heavily visual - and lend itself to illustration. The artwork should be tempting, the colours (if used) eye-catching, and the quality consistent. The layout should echo the plot.

If the story is complex, the layout should reinforce that complexity - but not to the extent of confusion or there's a risk of the reader giving up. The characters should be attractive, pleasant - or striking, or memorable - to look at (they don't necessarily have to be particularly realistically portrayed, though) and the background appropriate to the action.

it is an interesting definition of what could make for a good graphic novel to be sure. I wonder at the attractive bit for characters, as too often the characters can be too pretty in my opinion. Yet it is a good formula to see listed by someone.

I do find this opinion to be weird by anyone covering comics though:

The main disadvantage with any graphic novel is that the reader is presented with the artist's vision of the characters and environments. To some extent, this removes the possibility of envisioning the work for oneself (much the same as 'the film of the book' often makes it impossible to imagine the story any other way).

She saves it by going on to say this

Then again, that's what graphic novels are about!At their best they straddle the line between art and literature, and can enhance both.

Yet it is a striking thing to be seen said about comics, that a disadvantage could be not allowing the reader to imagine their own vision of the world they are reading about. To me that was always an advantage to comics, the getting to see as clearly as possible what the creators intent was. In a way that neither movies (with budgets and actors) or novels(reader's own imagination and interpretation) could ever allow.

DC Chick Check
Marvel Chick Check

Johanna over at her Cognitive Dissonance blog, covers how many female characters and creators there are involved in this week's books from the big two comic publishers. The numbers are very enlightening, and the lack of representation seems to indicate possible reasons why they are unable to draw the female audience that the more diverse manga publishers are able to.

Staying with Johanna's blog, she also does some DC and Marvel review capsules.--Note to laptop users though. If when you first go to them it looks like the covers are over her reviews. That just means you need to expand the size of your browser's window. I had to expand my own to fill the entire screen.-

I'm glad she covers these books, because her insights are always interesting and quite often very funny. The odd part is that I don't feel as if I'm missing anything by not reading any of the. They all just sound so familiar, and like something people have been writing for years.

She also covered Chobits vol. 1 on her site. It is a solid review, though I wish she had spent more time on the societal parts of the volume, which was the best part to me.

Yet her views of how it is interesting to male readers was interesting, though I think there is plenty there that could interest even more female readers then herself as well. For one case, the way many women can probably relate to the tendency for guys to want to "perfectly built" women, which the female shaped computers could represent.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Today's Links of Interest

Del Rey Manga Starts Strong

The Del Rey manga line, which launched with four titles last week, has started strong, by capturing the top two spots and four out of the top twelve spots on the Nielsen Bookscan graphic novel bestseller list. 

Tsubasa took the top spot, while Negima, by Ken Akamatsu (and translated by Peter David and his wife), was second; with xxxHOLiC and Gundam SEED, taking spots 6 and 12. 

Another sign of success was placing #20, #28, and #45 on the Bookscan over-all trade paperback bestseller list, and Tsubasa #5 on the Waldenbooks trade paperback bestseller list. The highest ranking for a manga title ever, with Negima having a strong showing at the #10 spot.

I myself picked up Negima and xxxHOLiC , but have yet to find the time to read them. I was wondering if the influx of so many publishers getting into manga might hurt the medium, but success like this bodes well. Perhaps even showing that the audience wants as wide a variety of material as possible.

SBC Spotlights Oni Press's Scott Pilgrim

Bryan Lee O’Malley, is back with a new book titled SCOTT PILGRIM, VOLUME 1: SCOTT PILGRIM’S PRECIOUS LITTLE LIFE. Due to hit stores this July, it'll follow Scott Pilgrim, a slacker want to be rock star who kind of skirts through life.

Bryan's previous work, LOST AT SEA, got lots of praise around the industry. Even being named a Comic Worth Reading, at Johanna Draper Carlson's amazing website.

If his new book can match LAS, then this book should truly be a wonderful read.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Valley Advocate Spotlights Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly

It's a good piece covering some of the history of both publishers, while spotlighting projects like "The Comics Journal's Special Edition:Volume Four", Joe Sacco's "The Fixer: A Story from Sarajevo", and more.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Adult Japanese Comic Gets Relaunched

The comic magazine called Manga Attack gets another shot and promises to deal with adult level stories in its new form. One of the first ones is a comic version of the true story of a Japanese hostage's return from capture in North Korea.

It sounds promising, and the article had two things that showed how the Japanese market is quite different from ours in the US.

Whether Manga Action proves a commercial success is another story, amid the prolonged slump in the market stemming in part from a shrinking youth population. But Minoura said the magazine will not make the same mistake of kowtowing to "popular tastes" like it did a few years ago, when it served up obscene material in an effort to attract male readers.

Gasp, appealing to male adult readers, by adding obscene material didn't work? That is a very different response that the American market, where sexing things up is a proven way to get horny fanboys in.

This tactic failed to revive sales, and eventually Manga Action's circulation fell to some 70,000 -- a fraction of its 1972 peak of 1 million copies -- by the time its publisher suspended publication.

70,000 got the previous series publication suspended? Here in the US 70K would get any American comic publisher doing cartwheels, hyping its success. Just proving that it is a completely different world!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Today's Links of Interest

Atari Force Comics Online

Sadly not the really cool 1980s DC series, that featured the lush art of Jose Garcia-Lopez. These are the 5 issue minicomics that appeared in various Atari games out at the time. These stories setup the basis for many of the stories of the later series, though they don't have the character Dart in them, so its not a big thing for me.

May 19 International Manga Meetup Day

New York Daily News does a report on the popularity of manga, and how people around the world are planning to meet up with fellow readers to discuss their passion on May 19. Some comic fans still seem to see manga as a fad, if the excitement displayed in this article by a woman who identifies herself as "Luna P" is any indication:

I live, breathe, love, manga," she writes on the manga-crazed Web site "I'd marry it, but there's so many choices."

Fans for manga are just as passionate for them, as many American comic fans are for their comics.

India's First Graphic Novel

I find it fascinating to see the growth of the graphic novel format in different countries, and its ready acceptance by those cultures. This one sound promising too, and I hope it someday reaches our shores.

Graphic novels more than double library membership

An interesting report from Fayetteville, North Carolina about how the inclusion of graphic novels in their library has more than doubled the number of patrons. Something especially pleasing to see was that a number of the new patrons are kids, who seem to have a real passion for the stuff.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Quick hits

It is Monday and I worked late, so don't expect a heck of a lot tonight.

Tokyopop opens own webstore

Trying to apparently bypass the middle man of book chain retailers, online stores like Amazon and comic shops, Tokyopop is now trying to sell directly to the readers through their website. With bargain bins that will feature sales that you won't be able to get at stores, this could be a huge deal for them.

I'm going to be curious to see the reaction from others though. Will this cause a backlash against them, from those who Tokyopop is now actively competing with, with this?

Also of note today, was seeing that the Marvel digests volumes have finally arrived in my local Books A Million store. While I feel sorry for any new reader exposed to the PAINFUL third person narrative of "Spider-Girl." The "Sentinel" and "Runaways" collections collect two of their more solid, and different from the norm series of books.

There is also a mysterious, to me, "Spider-Man" one is also out. It is unfamiliar to me, because it seems to be a retelling of original stories with different art. Yet is not the "Ultimate Spider-Man" series that Bendis wrote. Apparently I missed a memo somewhere.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Wonder Woman pet peeve

Newsarama has some very interesting coverage of the Wonder Woman panel at WonderCon, but there is something about it that bugs me. See if you can spot it:

At Friday’s Wonder Woman panel Greg Rucka, Drew Johnson, and Dan Didio fielded questions ranging from storylines to sales to junior partners getting their own books.

The “Stoned” arc (it’s got Medousa in it) concludes in issue #210 with “pretty dramatic events,” Rucka said. Immediately following #210 will be a Wonder Woman-Flash crossover entitled “Truth or Dare.” In the two part story, Wally West and Wonder Woman are tethered together by Wonder Woman’s golden lasso, and get real with each other.

Superman will show up more in the series, now that Rucka is writing Adventures of Superman.

See it? Many don't, but I am always peeved that almost anytime Wonder Woman is talked about the attention always seems to be on who she is teaming with rather than about her. Yes I know that she is part of a shared universe, and that there will be gueststars from time to time. Yet none seem to be as attached at the hip to them as her. Almost as if writers don't know how to write about her, so they must bring the easier (for them) hero like Superman or Batman in to help make the story work.

Watch out for that giant forehead!

The wordless preview pages of the upcoming Mary Jane title from Marvel look fantastic. It looks like it could be that really cool teenage romance title that the big two have been lacking for a long time.

Though I do find myself staring in awe at the giant forehead that MJ has on some of the pages. Fans of the TV show Dawson's Creek's first season, may be reminded of Dawson's similar huge head.

Cool DC coverage

Johanna covers this week's DC's with some nifty breakdowns of the various lines. I'm really glad to see that someone else out there loved Teen Titans Go, as much as I do, This is a wonderful little series, that knows how to have fun with itself and its stories. Bringing a real charm that very few other books are able to come close to.

Her Birds of Prey piece brought up a question for me though.

Birds Of Prey #66 -- It's a pleasure to see Black Canary pondering her mother's legacy when so much of the rest of the universe is driven by fathers. This is the framing sequence for a flashback tale of the first BC and a case with a killer of blondes.

That's a good point about mothers and daughters legacy heroes being so rare. About the only other female character I know of who is continuing a legacy of her parents, is Jessie Quick. Yet going by her name alone, it is easier to see that she follows her dad's role than her mom. Which is too bad, given that her mom has always seemed pretty cool too.

Anyway my question for this. I don't know a heck of a lot about Black Canary, yet in the original stories there was no mother right? I was always under the impression that as time went by they sort of retrofitted that in when they got rid of the multiple Earths. Is that right?

Johanna also makes me darn curious about trying Batman#626, it has been way too long since I've seen a male superhero dressing up as a woman story.

Micah Wright, Liar

Newsarama and the Washington Post revealed that Micah Wright was not an Army Ranger as he had previously claimed to be.

I found this news very shocking when I read it, while I don't know Micah personally I did enjoy large portions of his Stormwatch: Team Achilles work. He is a very capable writer, which is likely why he found it so easy to fool everyone.

For myself, I was one of the ones who bought into his trade drive, to save his Stormwatch series. Yet after careful reflection overnight, I decided to cancel the order for them I had placed through Amazon.

While the stories are enjoyable, I'm not sure if I could get past this bad taste in my mouth reaction to this news to ever enjoy reading them. Plus I feel that I need to put my money where my morals are, and can't in good faith support someone like this.

Reaction around the internet from other comic professionals has been almost unanimously in disfavor of Wright's actions. With one of the most damning being from writer Ron Marz, whose background in journalism gives him a unique perspective on Micah's "apology/defense."

From Broken Frontier

But, I couldn't let this one go by. I guess by now most everyone is aware Micah Ian Wright lied about being an Army Ranger. Obviously a tasteless and underhanded thing to do. I can't abide liars, something my father taught me. My dad was a World War II veteran, a decorated B-24J tail gunner in the Pacific theater. So maybe this tweaks me more than it would someone else.

But what truly makes this situation reprehensible is Wright's seeming inability, or unwillingness, to take complete responsibility. In his statement, it seems to me he tries to lay off the blame for his lie on what he deemed the corporate media. As if, somehow, his propogation of the lie is okay, because the Washington Post didn't sniff it out. Having worked as a journalist for a number of years, I'm offended at even the suggestion.

Newspapers DON'T fact check every piece of information they print; it would be impossible to do so in the time available. A hard news story is going to be fact checked; for an author interview, it's much less likely. You trust that the author's bio you're handed is accurate; you trust that the source has some integrity. In this instance, obviously that wasn't the case.

Where does Micah go from here? Looking at his forum, many of his diehard fans have abandoned him. Which some might say that internet fans don't matter, and the difference between what people say online and do at the cash register is often different. Yet given that his sales haven't been stellar, I think this will hurt his career even more. Will he be able to get future work? I guess only time will tell.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Future better than present?

Johanna covers a bunch of the Marvel team books in her blog today, making some interesting and often very humorous points. Yet the best point she makes is this at the end that questions how everyone seems to look forward at what is coming, rather than what is happening in the books they read now.

That's a scary notion to think on, but is probably quite true in a lot of respects. Now in the instance of the books Johanna is talking about here, the creative talent coming on board the books are remarkably better than the current ones. So it is easy to understand wanting to look forward at what the new teams will do rather than think much on the current drek.

Yet look at the recent news that DC is returning the Hal Jordan character as Green Lantern.

Now never mind that this story is 6 months into the future, it garners interest and discussion by both sides today, and so by the time it comes out it'll be old news. Which is fine, because if it doesn't prove to be worth the talk, which I doubt it will be, well by that time DC's next bright idea will be the talk of the industry.

One thing I've found in comics, is that there seem to be a lot of great idea people. That's why solicitations, and other talk can make things sound so wonderful. Yet the problem is that there seems to be very few people who are good at execution of those wonderful ideas.

I wonder if it amounts to the same way that after a certain age Christmas morning's wonder loses its edge, once you realize that the anticipation you had built up for it over the years was never lived up to.

The hype and solicitations for upcoming books, work in the same way as the wrapping on the presents. Pretty and wondrous to behold before opening, as it is filled with all kinds of possibilities and potential. Yet once the wrapping is off, often the present or story never lives up to that potential you thought it might hold.