Novelist, comic book writer, and also comic book reviewer for www.BrokenFrontier.com, also website marketing coach for the Online Marketing Solutions company Push Traffic dot com. Incidentally, I am also the worst writer in the world.
Thought it wouln't pass?! Too extreme to go through?! Think again!!!
Capitol hill fucks artists everywhere!
FROM ILLUSTRATORS ' PARTNERSHIP OF AMERICA:
Orphan Works: The Devil's Own Day
Never Too Busy to Pass Special Interest Legislation 9.28. 08
As lawmakers struggled Friday to clean up the mess on Wall Street, sponsors of the Orphan Works Act passed more special interest legislation. Their bill would force copyright holders to subsidize giant copyright databases run by giant internet firms.
Like the companies now needing billion dollar bailouts, these copyright registries - which would theoretically contain the entire copyright wealth of the US - would presumably be "too big to fail." Yet it's our wealth, not theirs, the scheme would risk.
Small business owners didn't ask for this legislation. We don't want it and we don't need it. Our opposition numbers have been growing daily. So Friday, the bill's sponsors reached for the hotline.
What is Hotlining?
Critics of hotlining say "that lawmakers are essentially signing off on legislation neither they nor their staff have ever read. "
"In order for a bill to be hotlined, the Senate Majority Leader and Minority Leader must agree to pass it by unanimous consent, without a roll-call vote. The two leaders then inform Members of this agreement using special hotlines installed in each office and give Members a specified amount of time to object - in some cases as little as 15 minutes. If no objection is registered, the bill is passed. " - Roll Call, Sept 17, 2007
In other words, a Senate bill can pass by "unanimous consent" even if some Senators don't know about it.
The Devil's Own Day
Senators Leahy and Hatch hotlined the Orphan Works Act twice last summer. Each time came at the end of a day, at the end of a week, near the end of a legislative session. Each time lawmakers were distracted by other issues and other plans. Each time artists rallied quickly and each time a Senator put a hold on the bill.
Friday the Senators found a new opportunity.
With lawmakers struggling to package a 700 billion dollar bailout to avert a worldwide economic meltdown, with the rest of the country focused on Presidential debates, with Washington in chaos and Congressional phone lines jammed, they hotlined an amended bill. On short notice, even the legislative aides we could reach by phone said they didn't have time to read it. And so, while we were rushing to get out a second email blast to artists, the bill passed by "unanimous consent" - in other words, by default.
What better way to pass a bill that was drafted in secret than to pass it while nobody's looking?
Since Friday, artists have been conducting bitter post mortems on their blogs. That's understandable, but it's not time yet.
"When Sherman arrived at Grant's headquarters later that evening, he found the general - broken sword and all - chewing on a soggy cigar in the rain, which had begun soaking the battlefield.
'Well, Grant,' Sherman said to his friend, 'we've had the devil's own day, haven't we?'
The Senate passed their bill Friday, but the House hasn't. There's still time to write, phone and fax your congressional representatives. Tell them not to let the House Judiciary Committee fold their bill and adopt the Senate's.
Tell Congress to protect the private property of small businesses. Lick 'em tomorrow.
- Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership Quote from "The Devil's Own Day," by Christopher Allen, January 2000 America's Civil War Magazine
TAKE ACTION: EMAIL CONGRESS TONIGHT Tell the House Judiciary Committee not to adopt the Senate version.
So I went out to a local coffee shop to get work done, and instead was conscripted into walking a Korean lady to the metro in order to "protect her from the black man".
She hardly spoke a lick of English, but she could say "black man", and "following me" and "scared to leave" and "metro" and somehow, by intermittently speaking in hushed, harsh whispers and pointing with vaudevillian "inconspicuous" swoops of the arm at a tall and lanky black man sleeping in a chair somewhere behind us, it was revealed to me that she was of the emphatic belief that he was following her. I know secret service men that couldn't pull off so deft a tailing as sleeping and snoring and successfully keeping up with a short penguin-gaited highly-paranoiac Asian gal. But he'd apparently been at the same Metro stop as she, three days in a row, always there, just like she, always taking the same Metro (*gasp!*) Honestly, I don't even think that was true (I suspect they were different black men, but all tall and characteristically dressed and so deemed the same individual), but even if it was true, the dear little ajumma* didn't speak proper enough English (or, honestly, intelligence in any language) to allow me to point out that, based on her criteria for spotting a stalker, she was following them.
Still, just in case I was living in a casually stereotypical Hollywood Blockbuster, I didn't want to ignore the possibility of someone truly stalking a poor petite Korean ummu**, so I walked her to the Metro, "keeping my eye out" for the black man (which translated to any black men) who might sneaky-sneaky be following us. Surprise, surprise, the one in question remained vigilant in his napping, and all the rest were wrapped up in their own insanities.
Now, I know Koreatown blacks aren't the most sterling examples of ethnic potential the world over - they tend to be homeless, or extremely low-income, or plumb clinically off-kilter in the head, but this was my first dawning realization that my inherent white man's guilt, a thing which tends to rub off on most Americans no matter their ethnicity should they not be so cloistered in an area that allows them to cling to non-American traditionalist world views, was something that, for all its shamefaced existence, kept me from so throwback a behavior to another color of guy. Is guilt necessary for progress? Probably not: someone else once pointed out that it's merely that we have a history with blacks, more so than the Koreans, and the fact that our history is one of slave trade and viciously fought-for civil rights isn't as important as that we had a relationship with another people at all.
Exposure and interaction are the key elements. Here's hoping we can expose ourselves and interact in ways that aren't abusive, violent, demeaning, and/or demoralizing to another people. Likely we'd come to the same ends if we actually behaved ourselves: we'd still end up with a melting pot jamboree of differences, people coming together and staying together anyway. Wouldn't it be nice to have it without the regrets? --Dave B.
*auntie (older woman - not so polite) **mum (casual, polite enough)
Nothing much for today, something more definitely tomorrow. But today I got my last issue I was missing of STINZ - A STRANGER TO OUR KIND (Volume III, #5). I read lots of incredible things about this issue from other online reviews, many claiming it was their favorite and the best of the character's run. So of course it was the ONE issue I couldn't bloody locate.
But I nabbed a copy from www.WestFieldComics.com, and it arrived via post this afternoon, so WOOT! I've already read to the end of the line, or anyway to the new beginning of sorts in AFTERDEAD 1.1 and 1.2, but still, I'm looking forward to digging into this much anticipated chapter. Prolly write about it tomorrow.
In other news, me and the gal-pal of 6 years and counting found a great new apartment in Los Angeles an will be moving in together in a few short weeks! No more ghetto Koreatown! No more one-hour walks and bus rides just to steal a kiss! (awww! But it was so romantic [and yeah, it was, we'll have to get creative to replace the "And I will walk 500 miles" shtick to pronounce our undying affection for the other! Mmmm...creative...lookin' forward to it *sluuuurpp!*])
Late and tired and already written other things all evening long. Time for rest. Reading, maybe watch a move-ay. G'noit! --Dave B.
We got us a double bill today - I'm passing on reviewing THE DESERT PEACH #18 until I've had the chance to listen to the soundtrack a few more times, plus finish reading the libretto. (DP #18 wasn't a DP comic as such, but a reprint of THE DESERT PEACH: THE MUSICAL Program, plus lots of behind-the-scenes accouterments). I'll hit #18 with a proper review alongside a full review of the musical when the time comes. But for now...
The Desert Peach #19: "Self-Propelled Target"
"Self-Propelled Target" is the name of this one - the big return of the book after the huge climax/wedding-of-Udo in ish #17, and also it seems the title was shuffled from MU PRESS over to AEON STUDIOS with this installment, where it would remain until issue #25, after which creator Donna Barr would launch her own (and to this day still kicking) publishing gambit, A FINE LINE PRESS. When I interview the lady in the near future, I'll have to ask her about all the transitions and manifestations of this book, but for now, all I know is that the title changed publishing hands, and not for any discernible reason.
But sticking with the last two MU issues, #19 consists of a meaty 44 pages of story. Oddly, Udo'smarriage isn't brought up at all, even though it was the seminal event of the book's run to date. Instead we're offered a crazy tale of pranks gone awry - OberstPfirsichRommell is feeling under the weather (stomach problems that would plague him to the end of the NEXT issue!), and in his discomfort he allows himself to poorly phrase a request to Udo that yanks open a loophole to allow his nemesis, Kjars, to go at each other no-holds-barred. It begins Udo rupturing the decaying stomach juices of a deceased body while on grave-digging duty, and allowing the effluvia to douse both Kjarsand (by accident) Pfirsich. This does nothing but exacerbate the poor Oberst's delicate, waning constitution. This leads him to camp out in the outhouse, while Udo and Kjars both pursue parallel schemes of trickster-like schenannigans which will once again climax with poor Pfirsich caught in the middle.
This issue is, in a word, "disgusting". I'll leave it at that, and warn that those with a low threshold for potty humor and low-brow brown humor need not apply. The pranks go WAY over the top ant he results are extraordinarily nauseating if thought upon too explicitly. Which isn't to say this isn't a WONDERFULLY entertaining thing, just that it's also quite disturbing. The Wyle E. Coyote essence of the pranks is inspired, and the sheer mechanical clockwork genius of how the story comes crashing together into a tight, horrific climax is superb. That said, this is mostly a shtick-y episode, humorous and outlandish but not really concerned with advancing or searching the intricacies of the characters. This one is throwaway, in a sense, but it's also a perfect stand-alone story, more so than usual, as nothing before or after really enters into it.
Donna art is electric, some of the best yet - the sh*tstorm of a finale is brilliantly depicted, and all the whirlwind antics impressively captured and fluidly woven panel to panel.
STORY - 7/10 (incredible execution, some things almost out-of-character crazy though)
ART - 9/10 (Really tight layout and flow, detailed and dynamic)
IMPORTANCE - (EDITED [see comments below]) 8/10 (mostly stand-alone, but Pfirsich's sickness pays off in next issue #20, AND effects Kjars in #26 in a major way! )
TOTAL SCORE - 8 And then comes...
The Desert Peach #20: "Fever Dream"
Pfirsich's health problems come to a head as he lay, seemingly, at death's door. Udo (the one most responsible with last issue's pranks) paces and frets, and has the dear ear of Pfirsich's ego-heavy lover Rosen to commiserate with. This leads to Rosen relating the day he first met Pfirsich in German-occupied France, and then Udo spinning a tale of the same, and apparently the two events happened close together. This offers creator Donna Barr the opportunity to (at last!) break out with a very, intensely graphic and magnificently choreographed sex scene. Rosen may be a stud, but he's new to the guy-on-guy stuff (the beauty of Pfirsich his sudden inspiration!) and so Barr allows the somewhat awkwardness of the two trying to literally feel the other out to coincide with an audience that hasn't yet had the pleasure of a Desert Peach comic sliding quite so emphatically into the sex stuff.
But here it be, in all its visceral, funny, eye-popping and unexpectedly heart-warming glory. In usual Barr fashion, Donna somehow depicts an explicit act of sex, and not a mainstream one at that, and manages to make it charm the pants off a Hellfire preacher. Rosen and Pfirsich never seemed so real, human, and yet larger than life as they do in this extended and brilliant flashback.
Then Udo's story waxes poetic on his hiding his Jewishness while being nonetheless bigoted toward gays, and how his first meeting with Pfirsich and the braggart Rosen slapped his hypocritical double-standard beliefs into second thoughts and serious re-thinks.
Barr's art gets a touch more refined and polished for this semi-anatomy lesson yarn, and the result is a GORGEOUS issue of DP. The story is perhaps the most character-centric of the entire run, and gives Rosen a personality he sorely needed to bring his relationship with Pfirsich into glittering light. And Udo's less enlightened past also grants his character a 3-D real world sensibility that lets the reader love him all the more.
After the lightness of substance of #19, "Fever Dream" gives readers a dense and heady package of human beings being human in absolute and definitively human ways, puritanism be damned.
STORY - 10/10 (perfect blend of daring and charming, character and plot)
ART - 10/10 (like lightening striking wood, inordinate detail and crazed energy alike)
IMPORTANCE - 10/10 (two major characters get major moments of their lives told)
Okay, I admit it, I've been a recalcitrant pop-culturalist: I've never watched a single Bond film before Pierce Brosnan's GOLDENEYE. Well, I have vague memories of a Roger Moore Bond, and one Timothy Dalton Bond, both circa 1980-something, having watched a few scenes when I was a tyke and my mom had them playing in the background, but I was far too young to retain specifics and don't acutely recall a damn thing about either. So James Bond, as a viewing entertainment experience, for me, began with the Brosnan years.
I saw and enjoyed GOLDENEYE and then TOMORROW NEVER DIES, but fell off and heard far too many awful things about the third and fourth Pierce/Bond flicks. I have watched and feel happy enough with CASINO ROYALE - I'm not completely in love with what's-his-face (Daniel Craig) as the new "gritty" Bond, but it works well enough, and ultimately I realized - I had no idea what the flying $^&k I was comparing any of it to! I've never seen any other Bond!
Were any of these quote-unquote "good Bond films"? I guess I've never really been able to say. When people mention that Sean Connery is the best Bond, I can't imagine the guy without a white beard. Time I rectified that.
So I've plowed through Connery's years, and here's my thought on the first three:
First came DR. NO, and it was...okay. The first half was mesmerizing in its dated, sexist, racist, but nevertheless thrilling attempts at gritty pulp fare, but the second half slipped into over the top nonesense that really did make little to no sense. The villain was ominous, but ultimately ineffectual at doing villainous thing, and the climax/final big fisticuff was slow and mostly weird, a dud - which I suppose is poetic as it was about defusing a nuclear attack. The iconic white bikini chick - the first poster Bond girl - was a simply tossed in there character, appearing at the last half hour and sporting a laughable "origin" (a seaside drop dead gorgeous [well, for the time] orphan running around crazy free? Wait, what from where and why? Brrrprrprrprrp, trill the lips of my poor overtaxed brain).
Connery, though, I'd admit, made a suave Bond. His cool-as-cucumber posture coupled with his alarmingly agressive, straight-on glare at everyone who crossed his path gave him menace and charm, which is what Bond is all about. The deadpan quips with just a *touch* of lift at the end - par excellance.
Then came FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, hands down the very best the Connery Bonds ever achieved, and so I was on board to stay after this one. Connery was now form-fitted into the role, which had yet to balloon into sheer ridiculousness. The villains were fantastic, while also being sympathetic, the "Girl" of the story wonderfully three-dimensional while nevertheless fitting the 2-D plot device mold which allowed the movie to still be, at its core, a simple Bond movie. SPECTER is introduced, the fighting sequences were brilliantly choreographed with rough-and-tumble "realistic" half brawling boxing, half fine-tuned martial art moves. The story itself was the most coherent and twisty; this one seemed to have the perfect blend of pulp and grit, of real and surreal. It reminded me of the BOURNE films, and truly I see a lot that BOURNE stole/was inspired by from RUSSIA. This would collapse in its entirety with GOLDFINGER.
Yes, GOLDFINGER...I really wanted to like this one more than I did. It's the quintessential Bond flick, the one that set the mold for all to come: lunatic villains with bizarre prowess (in this case a touch that turns to gold), unforgettably lethal henchmen (Odd Job!), "Girl" names that must be heard from the lips of the actors themselves to be believed (Pussy Galore!), lines quotable for decades to come ("I don't expect you to talk, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!"), and action that moves waaaaaay past the realms of anything resembling "the world". And it was boring. Or, well, it was...weak.
Lots of gooniness, an admittedly great battle bewteen Connery and Odd Job at the climax, but beyond that, the movie just wanders and does little to cement itself - more in love with the brilliance of its MOMENTS rather than its whole. The great moments have already been shared via oral tradition and everything else is forgettable. Connery as well, especially when he's strapped to a table or otherwise not in motion, can literally be SEEN thinking "hmmm...I wonder what else I can do with my career...?"
Thankfully, the series picks up a bit better in THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, and even the break-from-Connery-for-a-single-movie George Lazenby as Bond ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE does some wild but inspired visual storytelling. GOLDFINGER set the standard, but mirroring the dynamic between DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, what came next figured out how to do it better. I'll talk about those some day soon. --Dave B.
I've decided to start pimpin' every new sketch done by the unbelievably talented (unbelievable because he's still a relative unknown) TOM BROWN. He's pedal-to-the-metal working on his first big manga graphic novel opus, and this after nearly completing the first volume with Image's Shadowline before deciding he was unsatisfied with the art and speed he was trying to plow through it and decided to go indy and take his sweet jolly time with it. Already the difference shows and shows big:
Here's the first two-page spread of the NEW first book of Brown's HOPELESS uber-epic (click on image for a much larger view):
Okay, so here's a connect-the-dots eureka that everyone is well aware of but likely this'll still come as an oh-my-god-that-still-took-me-by-surprise-and-makes-me-feel-really-really-bad kind of thing.
So Timur Bekmambetov, the director of WANTED, also directed the Russian smash box office hits (in Russia, mind you, still pretty decent successes in the States and abroad as well, though) NIGHTWATCH and DAYWATCH, the first and second offerings in the Nightwatch "Trilogy" of films:
Now, there are four novels all together insofar as the original Nightwatch series is concerned, of which the movies are then based on, but the first AND the second movie cover only - I shit you not - the first TWO-THIRDS of the FIRST NOVEL alone, no matter that the second movie shares the same title as the second novel, and so THAT is worrisome enough as it is. Nevertheless, the movies are fantastic, the first flick the most so, a perfect example to American producers and directors on how to craft a wild fantasy spectacle via creativity, ingenuity, and an indy-sized budget. On Daywatch, Bekmambetov had a much more sizable piggy bank to dip into and it shows: Matrix-style effects dominate a script that really could have stood a finer polish (or any polish at all).
THEN...to make matters as bad as they (theoretically) could possibly be (oh, how naive we can be! To think we've reached the bottom when it's only a giant land mass floating atop free-flowing high-speed lava!) an American producer contacted Bekmambetov and offered to finance the third and final Nightwatch entry...on the condition that it was shot with an entirely English cast and in English to boot. I mean, who the &*$k would watch a Russian language movie over an English one? Subtitles or dubbing be damned? Better to have the third be in English, even though first and second weren't, because things (including trilogies) get better exponentially on WHATEVER small part of it can be transformed into English, language of the past, present, and future.
So, okay, that's pretty shitty, right? To be taken over by Hollywood and to have the insanely uneducated demands begun before the film is even past its conception point. BUT...Bekmambetov didn't make any third Nightwatch film, did he? Well...uhm...no, wait wait he did make something, though. Ooooohhhh. Right. He made WANTED. Well, that's okay (depending on your open-minded definition of "okay"). Hollywood shuffled him over to another project to prove his worth before really pouring money into something as ludicrous as the thir entry in a non-English fantasy trilogy. That makes sense. I don't cheer the approach, but I can follow the general reasoning.
But this isn't what happened. Bekmambetov ultimately revealed: the third Nightwatch movie BECAME "Wanted". The English movie with an English cast directed by Bakmambetov through the producers that approached him shsuffled THE PROJECT ITSELF into a mindless comic book popcorn thing. And then Bekmambetov admitted that he didn't know if - and didn't think it likely that - the third Nightwatch would ever be made.
Thanks, Hollywood. Thanks, America. Oh, country that I love for its...uh...well dash it all for its something I'm sure. That's pretty troubling I can't think of anything off the top of my head that isn't shared by SOME other country(ies) as well, and nothing whatsoever that's more than a single something, and therefore definiteively shared by others but...hmm....
And then it gets really, REALLY BETTER.
To quote the press release:
"Bekmambetov to direct 'Moby Dick' Universal steers reimagining of Melville classic
Universal Pictures has made a splashy preemptive buy of "Moby Dick," a reimagining of the Herman Melville whale tale that Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted") will direct.
Studio paid high six figures to Adam Cooper and Bill Collage to pen the screenplay. The writers revere Melville’s original text, but their graphic novel-style version will change the structure. Gone is the first-person narration by the young seaman Ishmael, who observes how Ahab’s obsession with killing the great white whale overwhelms his good judgment as captain. This change will allow them to depict the whale’s decimation of other ships prior to its encounter with Ahab’s Pequod, and Ahab will be depicted more as a charismatic leader than a brooding obsessive.
"Our vision isn’t your grandfather’s ‘Moby Dick,’ " Cooper said. "This is an opportunity to take a timeless classic and capitalize on the advances in visual effects to tell what at its core is an action-adventure revenge story."
Scott Stuber is producing with Jim Lemley and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. Both Stuber and Bekmambetov have deals at Universal. Bekmambetov will look to apply the visual flourish he displayed on the U summer hit "Wanted."
"We wanted to take a graphic novel sensibility to a classic narrative," said Collage. They brought it to the Wibberlys, the "National Treasure" scribes who are branching into producing and will team with Stuber. The project then caught the fancy of Bekmambetov and Lemley, who teamed with the helmer on "Wanted."
I love how this is considered the quote-unquote GRAPHIC NOVEL-esque take on the tale. THIS, my comic book brethren, is what "the mainstream" thinks our art form is. How blockheaded, how blind, how bass-ackward they...oh...wait...
Yeah, picture's worth a thousand, eh? This will likely be closer to the reality of the film, though:
Has anyone here seen IDIOCRACY, the latest Mike Judge film which uber-corporate braindead Fox treated like crap because the film treated them like crap? Well, if you haven't seen it, see it. Idiocracy predicts shit like action-adventure Moby Dick. You watch that film and you see it everywhere. It's depressing, but also enlightening, in a way that makes you a better fucking human being. Or, as one of the posters on a message board pointedly pointed out:
"Isn't the book basically Melville's meditation on America and an examination of the human character?"
Point, set, and match. We are well and truly fucked, and apparently this is a natural evolution that cannot and will not be stopped. --Dave B.
More Donna Barr reviews...reading through the DESERT PEACH: THE MUSICAL Libretto while also giving its soundtrack a second and third listen-to, so I can progress with my reviews of the single issues, as the next issue I'm to hit is in actuality a special non-comic dedicated instead to behind-the-scenes ephemera and a reprint of the Musical's program pamphlet.
Also I'm putting together a solid, understandable list of how and where to purchase Donna's stuff, as searching for her books online and trying to track their twisty publishing history can be a mind &$*k.
Also more thoughts on 3R and Armageddonquest, thoughts on Bond movies, X-Files...oh, lots of thoughts. That's what blogs are for! --Dave B.
I'm not a big Jonathan Lethem fan, and there are parts of his New York Times Op-Ed essay "Art of Darkness" that I don't agree with, or feel reach a bit too schmaltz-ily far, but it's core point is a killer one, and a god damn true one:
"Peach" has adherred to a 33-page "standard" format up until this point, though now it overflows into 44+ pages per book, beginning with this 48 page wedding spectacular! After the complete mess our resident secret Jew (who-is-also-a-nonbelieving-member-of-the-Nazi-party!), Udo, made of the local Muslim people's black stallion in issue #16, he's forced to make amends by marrying one of their girls, who, for her part, has had her eye on Udo for quite some time. And far be it for Oberst Pfirsich Rommel not to swoon at the idea of a happy couple coming together in coupling love.
Creator Donna Barr kicks off the story with an inspired addition to the wannabe Nazi character, Kjars, a knee-jerk Aryan who's passion for music attributed to "the lower orders" (black music - jazz) comes to the fore and offers an entertaining and (god forbid) BUYABLE tug-of-war between Kjars' unsupportable political beliefs and his actual love of an art form. This broadening of Kjars' character plays heavily into the proceedings when the wedding kicks into high gear, as a malicious rumor of Udo being a Jew starts winding its way through the camp, and neither the Germans nor the Muslims are one bit happy with this!
But before it all hits the fan, two dozen pages are devoted to a whirlwind of culture clashes as a wedding is held to appease (through trial and error) Muslims and Lutherans alike (I think it's Lutherans, anyway...I dunno, the Catholic and Christian divisions confuse the beejeezus out of me - I once knew a born-again gal who I asked point blank to explain the differences and break it down like a family tree kind of thing, and her response was, I kid you not - "there's only one Chirstianity", and proceeded to blink baffled back at me. So much for going to the source...one day I'll read a history book and get it straight). As usual, Barr's play on traditions and pre-conceived notions is as whimsical as it is critical, a celebration of human fraility that doubles as a compelte jeremiad against it to boot. It's a whacktastic blend that feels more real than reality, in a way, a caricature that holds solid layers of true-blue truth behind it, all impossible to ignore the way Barr maneuvers her story through it.
When rumors of Udo's Jewishness finally come to light, things get hairy, and Barr seems to finally get from off her chest all that she has to say on the topic of slander, the unthinking maligning of another without regard to the full conseuqences another will suffer due to the rumor, whether it be true or not. Talk about a subject that still pertains: DP #17 may be over a decade old, and cover a time period nearly half-a century back, but if there's one thing people consistently wipe their hands of, no matter the era, its responsibility of their own actions, the consequences they could have forseen, if only they'd bothered to think it through, only they don't, and so claim they couldn't have known, or anyway it's "THE TRUTH" as though there was something inherently virtuous in spreading around a fact that was, insofar as any man can determine, a fact, and "lies" are bad while "truth" is forever worthy, it's own reward, no matter the disastrous results of utilizing it. Da liegt der Hund begraben: "Truth", in so many things, is like the aethist's God, a thing to believe in at face value and without question. It's pure, it's "good", it's "godly", while lies are the devil, evil and scandalous. Fooey.
Kjars and his music are roped in with an enviously organic twist of plot - if only my own characters could dance around a story and a comic book page as fluidly as Donna Barr's! His own internal battle between what's "acceptable" and what calls to him naturally is mirrored to the Jew/Muslim/Catholic culture issues at hand and it ALL comes to a head with drinking, covorting, and a development with Kjars at the end which makes the entire trip seem, in Barr's own words: "If there's a lesson to be learned here...it's much too confusing for me!"
This is the epitome of storytelling done solid, intelligent, and unchained - unfettered by anything so pedestrian as editorial or audience concerns. Desert Peach #17 is an issue I'd recommend to be a first of the series for anyone, as it embodies and showcases to marvelous effect the every strength the book normally wields. An all-around compelte and exhaustive package of Donna Barr and DP, in a single issue. Es ist einfach zum Schießen!
Story - 10/10 (firing on all cylinders)
Art - 9/10 (incredible detail, wild layouts, more going on in any panel than most comics have happen in an entire run!)
Importance - 10/10 (the culmination of the past 16 issues, all be told)
Running on my Donna Barr riff: the logo below is now to be displayed alongside any official vendor of her books. The first time you'll see this will be at BellCon, at the Cartoonist Northwest table, and Keith Curtis's Crater On The Moon, with more to follow!
On a side note, review for Desert Peach #17 coming tonight, after I finish the double-sized 48-pages-of-story-and-art bastard. It's a real memorable one though.
Working my way through the entire Desert Peach saga (30 issues + two AFTERDEADGNs in total), a series that follows the exploits of The Desert Fox's gay younger brother, Pfirsich Rommel - The Desert Peach! And here I am at the more-or-less halfway point - issue #16!
First off, the cover sports a simple but utterly beautiful use of watercolor, one of the prettiest covers of the series yet - past covers offered a greater dollop of exquisite detail, but this one makes simplicity look damn good.
Inside, then, the story follows the attempted mating of Pfirsich's white purebred mare with a black pureblood stallion (the mare is a breed that boasts blood purer than humankind can scarcely fathom...well...except for the fact that people were the ones who bred them, or anyway an Arabic people did, which blow the European peoples' little brainpans).
Anyway, long story short, Pfirsich wants to work closely with the Arab folken to enact a successful mating with the mare, an event which would double as a friendly-relations event between the Germans and the natives, but then Peach's subordinate, Udo, rather fancies a mating between the white mare and some other gray speckled horse. He tries to sneak said mare out one night, to make the coupling happen the way HE wants it to, but of course it all goes horribly awry and leads to - I kid you not - a horse orgy with army men stuck in-between. The look on Udo's face as he gets tangled/tied to the white mare's rump as a black, quite erect stallion rears up for the mount, is beyond priceless and perfection itself!
It's a disaster of sexploitative length and breadth (tee hee) that leads to (a rare happenstance for this series) a direct kind-of sort-of "to be continued...", in which a particular event what's threatened poor Udo for the past six issues or so, finally looks to happen in issue #17. (Wedding bells anyone? - shotgun wedding to keep the peace!) Auteur Donna Barr begins to inch toward a looser, more kinetic style, leaving behind the smoother, more crisp pages of the early DP books. Which isn't to say that detail is lacking, but said detail becomes vastly more wild and fancy free as compared to the rigidly controlled linework of Barr's 80's work. This is the perfect story for Barr to cut loose, because horses rampaging and rutting amongst a small turmoil of human bodies stampeding to put it all under control = the very organized chaos Barr's pen-stroke evolves into.
While the social and cultural issues usually explored in a Barr story take a back seat for the situation here - a thing Barr obviously couldn't help but work into an issue-length fiasco out of sheer glee (horse sex! horse sex! army men in the middle! whoooo!) - sixteen issues in, and this is actually a breath of fresh air, allowing DP a chance to get down and get nasty not to mention funny and ridiculous before tackling the intricacies of a multi-cultural wedding in the next ish (which should have big-big cultural insights aplenty!).
Desert Peach #16 is a whirlwind ride of humor, humanity, and absolute artistry, if you like your art a fair shake on the naughty side.
Story - 8/10 (hysterical, dense, fast-paced, everyone in character, awesomeness) Art - 8/10 (a wonderful blend of intricate and expressionistic, drop dead gorgeous cover) Importance - 8/10 (Udo'sgoin' ta the chapel!) TOTAL SCORE - 8/10
In preparation of the second "Gillian's Heart" short story - this one to be published in the HERO Initiative and Ronin Studios' HOPE ANTHOLOGY coming in 2009 - our wonderful artist Rick Worley worked up a rough sketch of the character who'll star in this second short, the man who acts as Gillian's nemesis:
The Libertarian Anti-Hero MR. RIGHT!!!
Don'cha love it? In Rick's own words:
"Well, hm. Maybe a bit of explanation. First, I'll start with a disclaimer and say that I know the picture isn't perfect, but it's meant to give the idea. He looks kind of thicker than I'd like, but it's hard to put the muscular Superhero physique underneath a coat like that. I think that when I draw him again I'll be able to find a better balance. The coat is based on different references I found of German World War II soldiers. The goggles are meant to look something like aviator goggles from a similar time frame. This might make a little more sense if I showed you a picture of my idea for Mr. Right's older costume..." [Note from Dave: Mr. Right is planned to have a more spandex-y costume from his true-blue superhero days, before he parted ways with the other heroes who he found compromised by government interests, whereafter he himself became what you see here in the sketch - a militant guerrilla maverick!] "...but I haven't finished one yet, and I want to send you stuff as I do it. More or less.
"My idea for his older costume, in part, is to make it a more traditional superhero costume, but with similar goggles, except that the goggles will be more explicitly based on American WWII combat pilots. His newer costume, by contrast, should have goggles that are rounder and slightly creepy. I'm thinking of having the older costume without the coat, but with a similar collar, possibly a little like one of those older incarnations of Nightwing. The idea, of course, is to have more of an All-American look in the beginning, and then progress to something that draws, I hope subtly, on imagery associated with fascist armies. The earlier costume could have some sort of wing insignia on the chest that would be in reference to both the fact that in his dreams he can fly and, of course, an American bald eagle. The newer costume, though you can't see it in the drawing I'm sending, should have a more subtle, industrial wing insignia on the belt that's similar to what he used to have on his chest, only with sharper angles and a shape that just slightly might recall Nazi symbols.
"I like the idea of the belt on the new outfit having several large, almost cumbersome, pouches, because you talk about all of the gadgets he has come to use. This would be in contrast with an older costume where he has very few gadgets or pouches and relies much more on his hands. I think it would symbolize, too, him becoming weighed down by what he's taking on himself. I kind of like the newer costume being bulkier for these reasons. I think the goggles might turn out to work well for some of your ideas in the script, because I noticed at least one occasion where you mentioned something might be reflected in his eyes, and that would be easier to do with the goggles, and might look good, as well, if I do it right. Anyway, I think that's probably a good start at explaining my thinking on this costume and what I'd like to do with the other version."
So there ya have it, folks - an artist with BRAINS, eh? Yay! Forgive me when I say: our Mr. Right short is going to be one memorable damn story :) --Dave B.
Looking at the next R.I.P. tie-in, this one even more inexplicably removed from anything remotely R.I.P.-ish, as Batman is whole, hale, and hearty and fighting crime like he always has in it. That gripe aside (though c'mon, saying something is something it certainly is NOT is NOT a small thing), this is thus far the most interesting of the Bat-books outside of Morrison's.
It's Paul Dini, who most people trust, though lately I've been finding his Detective pretty bland, not to mention his contribution to "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" was incomprehensible and a mess. Still, Dini now tackles Hush, and FINALLY it looks like someone's going to wrap this subplot up. Not since THE CLONE SAGA has such a storyline seemed so editorially mandated to remain mysterious and unresolved. Jeph Loeb started it all in his popular epynonymous 12-parter with Jim Lee that introduced the villain. But at the end it seemed Hush's identity was revealed to be (disappointingly) the most obvious (Bruce Wayne's old freind Thomas Elliot, who was always who Hush was supposed to be, so why the bizarre secrecy?), even though (big red flag here!) he escaped and was never in fact unmasked. Then came the longer serial wherein Alfred recognized the identity of Hush, an identity which was for whatever reason kept away from readers to see explicitly, and then the story ended with Hush still advertised as being the obvious doctor Thomas Elliot and possibly killed by the Joker (in any event, the Hush "mystery", which again and again was strongly suggested to exist, went unsolved).
Now, we get "Heart of Hush" which looks like there IS an unsolved identity to Hush. God knows, there's no answer possible that can account for and pay off the years of build up, but at least it's here. Add to that a VERY dramatic and shocking event with Catwoman, and this is indeed a thrilling story. Dini doesn't pen a subtle or engrossing issue, save for this Catwoman event (what a motivation for Batman! - Catwoman's life hangs in the balance in a very creative way!), but this is head over heels better than ROBIN or NIGHTWING currently stands.
Dustin Nguyen, I love that he's doing a book as high profile as this, but I await a time he works on a book with the impact of WILDCATS 3.0. Dini's Detective Comics, even as a classic kind of book, is barely above average. Still, Nguen adds a skill to the proceedings, a layout and linework that bring sdynamism to a flat as hell script. It actually does make the story better!
The best Bat-book besides Morrison's right now. But yeah, that isn't exactly high enough off the ground to even be a "bar". --Dave B.
STORY - 5/10 (dead on average, great twist but otherwise generic storytelling) Art - 8/10 (awesome layout and adds style, true panache!) Importance - 5/10 (remains to be seen, to R.I.P. it's absolute zero, to Hush and Catwoman...hmmm...maybe quite a bit)
So I've been intrigued, if not altogether overjoyed, by the "BATMAN R.I.P." saga - the main six-part saga over in Morrison's flagship Bat-book has had its moments, a sincerely interesting approach to a major event for all that it's more or less a failure insofar as cohesive storytelling in concerned (not that THAT's a surprise where Morrison's zaniness is concerned). I was hoping all the tie-ins would really lend the grounding to Morrison's overboard-ness, make the "event" work as something more than the brief overview of Batman's downward spiral which is all we get over in the main Bat-book. Where's the steady affect on others? What psychosis preluded Bruce Wayne's ultimate mental snip-snap like a twig in half? Ah, this must be it - Nightwing, Robin, and Dectective Comics, Batman and the Outsiders, all getting in on it, two of them, including Nightwing, to culminate in a double-sized anniversary issue for their R.I.P. part to play. So a lot must be happening, a lot must stand to be revealed. Right?
Wow, nope, R.I.P. is apparently hands-off to other writers, even though the big-wigs in editorial obvious WANT all these titles to "tie-in". Batman's missing. That's the entire tie-in. Beyond that? Former comics editor Peter J. Tomasi continues his second NW storyarc, and its about as lackluster as his first. It's dramatic, but its slow and the dialogue, while not at all bad, isn't very interesting. There's too many dry, researched facts with far too little character development. And like Tomasi's last NW arc, it's not terribly apparent what the hell is going on in this one, even though it all seems to play out rather formulaically. The story is...okay. The writing is...okay. But it all feels VERY place-holding, like Brubaker's Uncanny X-Men pre-Manifest Destiny.
Rags Morales' art is as superb as it was in the much-lamented HOURMAN series, but it isn't enough to make this comic worth reading. Nightwing just doesn't feel like he has a purpose right now. He picks up the pieces of other Bat stories (League of Assassins, Talia al Ghul) and even then doesn't really move those forward, just deals with them.
Underwhelming, even as an R.I.P. tie-in, even with an anniversary issue right around the corner, I couldn't be more bored. --Dave B.
Story - 4/10 (entirely unimpressive, but nothing horrific) Art - 7/10 (Solid, detailed, gorgeous, not much going on though) Importance - 3/10 (Two-Face is involved, maybe it's leading somewhere, but otherwise this seems pointless)
So, it's been a while since I've read a VERTIGO book, especially a VERTIGO mini-series, really I haven't taken the time since the days of Nevada and Goddess, and so it was with great anticipation and self-satisfaction ("I have a Vertigo mini, aren't I so cultured, ahem hem hem") that I sat down to consume FAKER, a six-issue saga written by Mike Carey (X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, Crossing Midnight, Hellblazer) and art by Jock (The Losers, Green Arrow: Year One)
The story opens on a collegiate university, and swiftly introduces its small cast of young adult protagonists. Part of the series' premise is that each and every character is a bastard, in their way, an unlikable, self-involved, obstreperous kind of chap or chippie and while this does play into the themes and even the sci-fi/horror element of the tale, it is, as usual, exceedingly difficult to follow such characters for page after page, all the while telling yourself "there's a point, there has to be a point". We are inarguably a youth-centric culture, and youth is indeed a self-centric stage of life, more prevalently than any other. But isn't selfish to selfless kind of an uber-arc? Isn't the move from an awareness of yourself to the dawning understanding of, oh, everything else kind of a man or woman's entire life movement? Can this really be considered a fair arc for a character in a single story?
It's sort of forest for the trees: writers these days have THE great maturation process of any man double as the "character arc" for any given story, but of course in order to accomplish this everything has to be blown way out of proportion: the character has to be REALLY selfish, and then they have to magically turn REALLY out-of-character idealist at the last moment. It reminds me of the (in memorial here) David Foster Wallace quote: irony and ridicule have become “agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture”, wherein he mourned the loss of engagement with deep moral issues that animated the work of the great 19th-century novelists. Deep moral issues, which FAKER certainly tries to tackle, cannot so much as be jabbed with a toe if said toe isn't drenched in insincerity, punk attitude, quips, and a complete disassociation with the very importance the issues at hand hold.
Basically, FAKER vies to showcase different levels of selfishness and social fakery, of the pseudo-emotions we adopt to get through life and interact with other fakers. Toss in a bizarre Twilight Zone-esque element of a boy who apparently doesn't exist, a best friend who only the book's central cadre of kids recall having memories about, but to the rest of the world he was literally born yesterday, and FAKER offers, admittedly, a story not found anywhere else.
Sadly, it devolves quickly into cheesy pulp stuff, as the allegorical nature of the set-up becomes solid sci-fi followed by thriller-esque action. It kind of like an X-Files episode, but with highly unlikable characters. Even worse, the message of the book gets garbled as the MOST unlikable character of them all becomes the hero, and for...very inexplicable reasons. It's another tough-to-the-point-of-bitch girl = strong woman role model who hides a strength other types of mean people don't wield. Uh...sure.
Mike Carey is hit-or-miss - I really enjoyed his HELLBLAZER run up to issue #200, though then he spun off on a very odd tack. Actually, it makes sense: his HELLBLAZER, initially, was about a mythical dark beast, and it was glorious. Then he tried for human characters in need of sympathy, and the book bombed and bombed big. FAKER is the same, the fantastical elements very intriguing, but the characters and their respective stories absolute abominations story-wise.
JOCK supplies wonderfully deft artwork, well paired to a story that grows darker and black-ops-like as it goes, but his characters all look mean, defensive, itching for a fight, which only enhances the craptacularly juvenile emotional qualities of the story.
To steal a few quotes: "whiny, narcissistic characters [suggest] a falling off of ambition and a claustrophobic solipsism" which is not surprising as the "brave new individualism and sexual freedom of the 1960s has devolved into the joyless and anomic self-indulgence of the Me Generation." (more David Foster Wallace - rest in peace, big guy) FAKER is juvenility at its worst, but tempered not at all by anything resembling a mature eye or guiding hand. It's glorification of asininity justified by the "realism" of the subject matter. It's emotional and creative pornography, defined the same as any pornography "if it is done for the sole purpose of titillation alone".
I was happy to dive back into a VERTIGO mini, but FAKER fails on every level, and is a disgrace to a once progressive company line.
Story- 3/10 (some great genre ideas, well handled, terrible everything else) Art - 5/10 (well done, nothing inspired, adds nothing to the story) Importance -1/10 (best left forgotten as ever being a part of VERTIGO)
Well, super-awesome find of the day - MYEBOOK.COM, a place that may replace WOWIO.COM for the ultimate in finding free reads. Registration is free, and while you don't get to download the material offered, MYEBOOK sports an intensely superior "Reader" to the Platinum Studios derived letdown used over at Wowio. The pages are big, bright, crisp, and MyEbook is even interactive, allowing you to leave comments about the book, join in communities, share with friends, and even more, though honestly I just found the site and I'm not aware of all that it offers yet. It seems kind of like MySpace if Myspace were a library - THAT MAKES ME SO HAPPY :)
Myebook even allows you to embed a particular book in a blog, like so:
That's the first issue of the Archaia Studios Press' critically-acclaimed, highly unique spin on the zombie tale, AWAKENING. Really guys, do check this software/website out. There's only 49 comics up on the site right now, but I expect the list to grow much as Wowio's did, from 100+ to the 1000+ it has today. THE BOY WHO MADE SILENCE #1 is even up on Myebook now, and an affiliation like that is enough to recommend anything. --Dave B.
Just closed the covers on Green Arrow/Black Canary #12, the grand-slam finale to the "Search for Ollie - no, wait, now it's - search for Connor" story arc. First off, I gotta ask, what the &#^k has happened to Judd Winnick?!? Does he have kids now? Creative types should never have kids. It's ruined Eddie Murphey's career, and the once-incredible creator of the foul-mouthed Barry Ween Boy Genius and the sincerely affecting if sappy Pedro and Me nowadays churns out plots stolen from hollywood script-doctor index cards and dialogue so quip-happy and banal it seems lifted right out of classic Thundercats episodes (I will forever love the T-kitties, but c'mon, that show was terribly written!). This is what writing children's cartoons gets you - the inability to write otherwise. Sigh....
The final mysteries surrounding Ollie's kidnap and then Connor's is finally brought to light, and it works, and isn't a compelte wtf letdown, but neither should it have been 12 goddamn issues to get to this point. The big showdown is intensely disappointing, consisting of a bunch of heroes throwing mid-air punches at a cavalcade of faceless lackeys while the mastermind escapes bwa-ha-ha'ing all the way. Jimminy Chirstmas! but this is an uninteresting series. Green Arrow and Black Canary, finally married and together, headlinging the same title, and all the damn book's been ABOUT is everything BUT this dynamic. Is that ridiculous to anyone else but me?
Mike Norton's art is very well done, very polished, very smooth, very easy on the eyes, but his animation-esque style does little to alieviate the already unenlightened, cartoon-quality of Winnick's approach.
Story: 4/10 (icky poo) Art: 7/10 (very good, not great) Importance: 7/10 (a new status quo for Connor Hawke, big GA continuity events!)
BRYON is a comic about a Goth kid wannabe who finds himself tumblind head-first into real true-blue horror evil dark-thing Yog-Sothothery. It's charming, freaky, and funny all at the same time, which is a difficult blend to achieve. Krumpholz and his BYRON have been an intriguing new work I've championed for about a year and a half now (you can read my review of the first series "Mad, Bad, and Dangerous" HERE, and then my lengthy Inter-Review of the sequel "Die, Byron! Die!" by going HERE.
Here's an excerpt from that last review, so in my own words *ach-hem-hem-hem-hem*:
"For all those cool story beats, Krumpholz can likely be called an artist first and foremost, regardless of the strengths inherent in his writing, and Byron can stand alone as a truly visual—and a packed one at that—warehouse of black-and-white elegance. M, B, and D is a chock-a-block collection of square-shaped characters, sharp-teethed critters, and nearly panel-less pages. D, B! D! wields the same, though wherein the first series had moments of opaque action and compositions sometimes difficult to dissect, the second series shows Krumpholz already finding a far more elegant and easily sub-divided number of layouts, with clearer action, more distinctive characters, and a clean and polished line to every finished page. His style is incredibly suited to Byron's subject matter, being a cousin to Mexican folk art..."
Yeah, the webcomic is chapter 4 of the second series, but said second series is largely episodic and easy to jump into, even in the middle. And anyway, it's a great way to get a tast before spending *gasp!* less than a dollar for awesome small press entertainment. Not the best of all worlds (that would be totally free webcomics beginning to end that somehow, magically, the publisher and artist could earn a living from), but it's a step in the right direction, a direction BYRON and Krumpholz have needed to take for a while now.
Today I'm going to plug a buddy of mine's webstrip: ORCUSVILLE!!
Starring the arch-demon baron duke dude fiend from literal Hell, Lord Orcus, and his one secretary, Velia; his lone torturer, Vis, who's also a lawyer and eternal demon of arbitrary retribution; the only torturee of Orcus' domain, named Victor, forever strapped spread-eagle to a wooden block and suffering (in-between witicisms and/or pleas for mercy); and finally the unforgettable Doctor A. Thoth, the pan-dimensional Chaos Theory specialist of all the known multiverse!
The webstrip is updated near-daily, usually riffing on gamer-related humor, or just geek-related humor in general. Por ejemlpo:
Pretty funny, n'est ce pas? Even better, Lord Orcus himself sometimes steps out from behind the black HTML'd border of his own webstrip to interview comics pros in a Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast style, such as his latest chat (read: ridiculous harrasment of) superstar artist Carmilla d'Errico, of Nightmares & Fairy Tales fame as well as her latest little diddy, Burn (see images below).
AWWWWW! Don't Orcus and Carmilla make a sweet ol' couple?
So go read ORCUSVILLE!!! There's a TON more stuff on the site (it's quite comprehensive). Written by Steve Saunders and art by Julio Falkenhagen and Freedom Drudge and, hey, for those of you who read the gods-beautiful awesome FICTION CLEMENS mini from Ape earlier this year, Orcus is co-written by that book's very author, Josh Wagner! Ah, yes, sometimes life can be so syrupy sweet... --Dave B.
Had a craptacular morning this morning: was woken up by noisey neighbors at 6:45 in the mother-lovin' a.m. (after going to sleep at 2am - I start work at 11). They were playing the radio at an insane volume - they live above me AND I was wearing earplugs, as I'm well aware of the thinness of my apartment's walls ('s cheap and them's the breaks). Nevertheless, loud radio in the early a.m. that hurdles through plaster and foam cylinders alike demands action. I had to call the cops and the building manager to get them to stop.
The dude who lives above me (note he lives there alone, or supposedly does) was gone, and instead it was his crazy lady friend. She told me to "get the fuck away from her door" when I asked her to turn her radio down. I love it: she tried to sound outraged because I was asking her to turn down her "church music" - "What, my church music?!?" she asked - and she was further outraged that I was doing what I was doing because she was "a cripple" and...and...she "used a wheelchair" (yes, she said this standing on both feet) and she tried to bulldog me by taking offense at absolutely everything I said, up to and including - I kid you not - "yes." I said "yes", she said "WHAT DID YOU SAY?", I said "I said yes." she said "YES?!?!!" I said "Yes." She said "get the fuck away from my door!" (probably because, shockingly, in a rare moment of self-awareness, she became savvy to the fact that she couldn't push the "yes" offense any further).
After that absolute absurdity, I told her I was "calling the cops, just so you know!" and then I did just that, and had to stay up because she never did turn down the music. Sadly, the cops didn't show up until 9:30, but that actually turned out to be a blessing and here's why. At first I thought the police would come quick, and so as not to miss them (and because I was sick to death of listening to crazy crippled church bitch music) I grabbed a book and stood outside from 7-8am. While I was out, the tall black dude came home. I said nothing to him, but let him go inside. Eventually I got tired of standing outdoors and went back in. Still the same music and ruckus. So I called to check on the police status, and was told they'd still be a bit. So I showered and lamely searched online for available apartments elsewhere.
Then it was 9:20ish, and I decided to leave for work. My building;s manager, Avi, was already there so I ducked in and told him all about it (good thing I raised my karma up with him over the weekend by helping another tenant hook up her internet). I told him I'd called the cops and that they were still coming. I asked him point blank if the crazy "crippled" lady was even on the lease and allowed to be there. He thought about it for a second and then said "no, she's not." I left it at that and he said he'd take care of it. Then, since I was leaving early for work, I went to the local Coffee Bean to relax and drink a really huge-ass coffee. At around 9:35 Avi calls and says the police are there, he's showing them in and they're ALL taking care of the problem and so not to worry.
And that...made me very happy. Crap assy morning, but I love sticking it to crazy crippled church bitches that make my morning so crap assy. I think though I may need to write a follow-up note to my next-door guy, because I left him a note Sunday saying I was still getting woken up and now I suspect it might have been the above jerk-offs. Damn. I need to move. --Dave B.
Okay, tonight I ramble on something bo-ooooor-ING. Just something on my mind:
I was thinking about how we call someone or something "weird" - "You're weird!", we might say, either lovingly or dismissively, either-or, but both amount to the same thing, viz. inferring that someone is outside the "norm", is plainly not normal, and/or that they display unnatural or unique and therefore inexplicable qualities. More often than not, it's slang-y speak to say you admire someone's eccentricities (the positive version), or are disgusted or unnerved by them(the negative).
But charmed or pissed off, it's a complete misnomer: weird is relative.
We all "know" this, we "get" relativity and in public we'd claim to the very heavens that we were thoroughly invested in keeping an open mind due to it. Yet so many little things keep minds locked and bolted tight. So many seemingly insignificant customary ways of speaking and therefore thinking that refuse to allow us a greater view of reality, and not even beyond our own head, but also the full view within our own head.
"You're weird", due to weirdness being relative, is a one-sided way of saying: "You've done something beyond my own experience and understanding of things." Even when said out of love or simple enjoyment of the "weirdness", it's a turn of phrase that allows someone's normal, if perhaps far from ubiquitous, way of being become something impossible, which is unnatural. Anything that exists is natural, as it does exist, therefore it fits within the framework of nature and what the universe finds acceptable. WE may not understand it, but the way we speak is forever to shift blame away from ourselves and onto others. THEY are the ones that "are" a certain way, even though, due to relativity, we must forever "be" a certain way as well, and so our translation of another's behavior is ever telling of ourselves.
So just please, remember that the more intelligent you are, the more understanding, empathetic, and sympathetic toward others and their behaviors you'll be. It's perfectly awesome to be held rapt by another, but try to realize that we're ALL very, very understandable, normal, and everyday. Maybe not to each other, but since we all ARE these things, perhaps we should be, perhaps we should all get over ourselves and agree that humankind in all our variety is effortless to understand and accept. No more racism, no more bigotry, no more inequality (not even the inequality that benefits the non-majority), no more quibbling over whether any one sub-culture of religion, culture, sexuality, gender, economic class, or aethetic is different and has rights. The details are irrelevant. If you're too stubborn and willfully unenlightened that you must refuse someone else a place in your life as "understandable and normal", then please, consider that someone else's "weirdness" is your personal responsibility.
Thought I'd take a mo' this morning to blog about one of my ALL TIME (we're talking Top 5 here) favorite comic book epics - ARMAGEDDONQUEST by the incredible (but entirely overlooked) Ronald Russell Roach.
Roach (or "3R" as he's been known to be nicknamed), is a child of the underground "Comix" movement, and his style is highly reminiscent of R. Crumb and Matt Howarth, solid black-and-white linework enhanced by extraordinary detail, intricate shading and crosshatching - basically the complete antithesis to the modern day style that owes more to cell animation than old-school quill-penned woodblock etchings of yore. 3R resembles the Comix guys not only in this, but also in his wonderfully unselfconsious, undisciplined use of text. For all that he might be an artist first, he nevertheless allows pages to overflow with oversized letters and hand-drawn captions and balloons, words that encompass, literally, I'd say two-thirds to three-fourths of any actual page, and yet the book is, stunningly, never a chore. The art is captivating, disarmingly charming, and the prose itself, in all its legions, flows like white water rapids until you have no choice - no choice whatsoever - but to topple right over and freefall down the waterfall that is AQ.
Now what's ARMAGEDDONQUEST about? In 3R's own words, it's: "a 900-page graphic novel about Tazio, the reluctant Antichrist. He is the paradoxical Good Beast of the Apocalypse, who challenges that Evil Destiny laid out for him." Yes, you read that right, this sucker is 900 PAGES, in three volumes of approx. 300 pages each! The story, ultimately, is inordinately complex, an absolute convoy of creative ideas. Tazio's childhood and young adulthood are explored in painstaking detail, with a nail-bitingly mysterious past, a wild supporting cast that is, I kid you not, bar none, and an approach that rears like a horse whenever it so much as smells a cliche. This is jam-packed, dense storytelling, that somehow manages to blow by. You sit down to read, oh, say, ten pages or so, and then 3 hours, 20 missed phone calls, and a full inbox of unanswered email later, you've read through a whole Volume, maybe even barked at your significant other for bothering you because you'll put it down in "just another minute, jeez!", but you don't, because it is that engrossing.
How engrossing? The only comic book epic, as a whole, that I've enjoyed more than ARMAGEDDONQUEST, is Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's PREACHER. Frankly (that's a pun, wait for it...) it far outpaces THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and only marginally loses to WATCHMEN in substance, intelligence, theme, and depth (I like AQ better than WATCHMEN, but Alan Moore's little masterpiece IS the more deft, all-around flawless work of creativity, I admit).
There's so much to love about AQ - the vast cast of memorable characters, I mean LOOK AT THEM ALL:
And then also the rich, textured artwork you simply won't find between many other covers, espeically not today. Also scripting that must be read to be believed, and lastly a story, a plot, a three-act structure that abides by every necessary standard of a cohesive epic as it does spurn formula and dive instead into its own waters - &*$k the ocean, I'll build my own man-made lake and swim there, 3R says. And it'll be fresh water, none 'a dis salt crap.
AQ was published in 1997 by Sirius Entertainment, in three volumes, in its entirety. Joe Lisner drew the covers for the three GNs, and published the short story prequel to AQ, "Mother Instinct", in his CRYPT OF DAWN #2. Lisner even let his DAWN character co-star with 3R's Tazio in this sweet little pinup:
You can nab all three AQ books by heading over to Amazon.com
Sirius is no longer around, but AQ volumes seem to be prevalent and cheap to come by, usually all three books able to be purchased for $3-5 each. Even better, 3R produced a few short stories and prose stories to flesh out small but significant moments and characters in the AQ world, and all of these can be read for free at HIS WEBSITE.
This book is amazing. BONE doesn't touch it, CEREBUS isn't nearly as readable, MAUS is practically trite by comparison. If you've never heard of Ronald Russell Roach, or his opus ARMAGEDDONQUEST, you my friend are in for a super-size me treat. --Dave B.