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.
I'm off to the big Alternative Press Expo Convention ("APE Con" to the hip kids) in San Francisco (open your doors for me! la la la laaa la la...). I'll be meeting up with our artist sensation Mr. Rick Worley in person for the first time, plus getting to hang again with FICTION CLEMENS scribe Josh Wagner and his crew of up-and-comings.
But the point: it'll be all quiet on the Western front until I return, and recuperate, and realize I spent WAY too much goddamn money on small press books which'll take me months if not more to get around to reading. Though far be that a criticism on my small press spending habits. If only we all bought indy books with such aplomb!
Ethan Nicolle will be guest speaking, as will Chris Ware, plus Brent J. Trembath of SCRUFFY PUPPIES fame will be in attendance, as will Karl Christian Krumpholz creator of BYRON. Oh, the fun to be had. The schmoozing to be done. I love these people.
Anywho, see y'all. I'm gonna be having a great, GREAT time.
Up-and-coming artist Jason Copeland (with a backup feature soon to be seen in the back of PERHAPANAUTS!) is now selling his first convention Sketchbook, titled "Marks on Paper 1" for a meager $5 - a price that INCLUDES shipping in the US! PLUS you get a personalized sketch of your choice in the book to boot! In a word - HOLY FREAKING JEHOSAPHAT!!!! GET THIS SKETCHBOOK!!!
In Jason's own words: "I am now selling my convention sketchbook. For a measly $5 you get 28 pages of black and white drawing goodness wrapped in a cool gray card stock cover. There is a great range of subject matter and drawing styles contained within. And, there is even a space on the first interior page for an original sketch... by me!! That's right! If you wish, I will sketch you something original right in your very own copy! Please specify what I should draw, if you don't want me just drawing something of my own design. Postage is included in the $5, if sending it regular snail mail is cool with you, otherwise we can work something out.
If you're interested, just leave a comment here (with a way to contact you) or email me at: j dot copland at telus dot net" Go to Jason's BLOG and buy this sketchbook now! Before he's too much of a big wig to give us the time of day (without charging $200 to draw it on scrap paper). --Dave B.
Now, one thing to get out of the way up front: ORCA, as a horror movie, is admittedly not very scary. However...it isn't a horror movie. That's like calling THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON a runner-up for the top ten not-so-scary movies of all time. That wouldn't be an...er...incorrect thing to say, but rather a pointless list if you're going to compose it of movies not meant to be "scary" flicks in the first place. Alas, ORCA suffers the stigma of JAWS, and so any ocean-swelling thing larger than a man with a fin and which isn't starring in a kid's flick, must by default be trying for "terrifying".
But ORCA isn't scary. It's phenomenal. This is hands down one of the all-time best drama/thriller blends ever put to celluloid. This thing out Moby Dicks MOBY DICK with superstar Richard Harris in the leading role of tough-as-nails but exhaustively emotive fisherman Capt. Nolan, who at first struts through the opening scenes as an old-timer with little open compartments left in his mind, especially when he meets his foil in animal-rights-loving Rachel Bedford (played by ZARDOZ'sCharlotte Rampling). Yet every minute that ticks by brings Nolan into greater, deeper turmoil. And that isn't to say this is histrionic (though at times, yes, it is). Rather, Nolan's struggle is a nuanced one. A quiet one. One of watching slight hesitations in a man usually unswerving in his violence and remorselessness.
Harris as Nolan:
The incredible Charlotte Rampling:
ORCA is Nolan vs. the whale, but instead of in a ship, this is the captain on land, retired, no longer what he once was, emotionally squaring off with a whale that won't leave the shore line for want of revenge. In a bizarre sort of inverse of the classic Ahab scenario, the WHALE wants vengeance, and the captain wants...resolution. But does this come from a victorious battle? Or absolution? Between sporadic bouts of serious bloodshed, this movie is pure brooding intellectualism.
Sure, there's scenes like this one:
And they're fantastically suspense-filled. Is the whale violent? Will be maul them? Take revenge? It actually isn't at all apparent through a good chunk of the film, and when the violence does hit it's bloody, sudden, and very impacting. But again, this is not the meat of this 2 1/2 hour epic. The true soul of this movie is in the moralizing of Nolan. The unmistakable humanity of the character given Orca herself, and the sheer power the battle between these two unleashes, which overshadows the small dramas afflicting the human characters of the piece.
ORCA may only be vaguely "scary". But this is a masterpiece in monster film making. I cannot recommend any film more than this one. Except perhaps RAVENOUS. --Dave B.
Tim is your average joe, a little nerdy, a little geeky, small-bodied and intelligent if not a genius. He’s a steady hand at accounting and at present finds himself reporting for his first day at a new job: the offices of SHR, the HR department for super humans everywhere! Poisoned fatally by a ninja in the waiting room, grunted at by a zombie receptionist, buddied to a maniacal ex-villain in the records department, and all of it loomed over by a sentient, flesh-hating copier machine, life take no time in giving Tim a trial-by-fire inauguration, followed by an unforgettable employment beyond.
That’s an inspired premise, but haven’t we already seen reality mashed atop the world of genre fare time and again? Didn’t Kirkman give us Capesand Tales From the Realm? Marvel’s Damage Control for a similar-setting juxtaposition of mundane and hyper-real, of work-a-day folk tossed into impossible Superman situations only to see what sparks? Even ignoring those, haven’t we been inundated with comedy super-mags? Yes, spandex and supers and creatures of the night are hysterical, especially the four-color kind, but the trouble with any new humor book that harps on such subject matter, is that it is emphatically not alone.
In this day and age, readers dare any “humor” book to indeed be humorous, to make them laugh, to elicit so much as a lopsided grin via its so-called comedy. The audacity of the writer, the sheer chutzpah of the artist, to think they can simply put what they think works on paper and that any reader will forcibly laugh, maybe cry (should they laugh hard enough), and pay the exorbitant price of single-issue print comics just to find out if they do. Well, hell, that’s what reviews like this one are for, right? To know in advance whether anyone who’s read the book thinks it’s worth the price? So…is Super Human Resources worth the price? Is it funny? Or rather, is it funny even in the face of all the funny that’s come before? Survey says…
Let’s wait one more paragraph for that big revelation and allow me a moment to confess: I was excited to hear from writer Ken Marcus to read the first three issues of SHR for review, but when I at last sat down to read them I was…resistant. I simply didn’t want to like it and I couldn’t really tell you why. Maybe because I thought “oh, right, another look-how-funnny-genre-stuff-is-especially-when-standing-next-to-real-life story. Hmph.” Maybe the book just looked too colorful and modern webcomic-y in art style. Not that either of those things are bad per se, but for whatever reason I dove in and immediately felt my face scrunch and posture tilt rearward, away from the “offending” material. This was going to be a tough battle between SHR and me. A long and tension-filled cold war.
Or so I thought; the book thawed me, somehow, mostly because it did something far more difficult to achieve than comedy - it charmed. Protagonist Tim was an everyman but the innocent goodwilled best of the everyman, not the ignorant acquiescent worst of the same. The supporting cast of zombie, bog monster, giant lady, Superman, ninja, robot, evil genius (the list goes on…) is thankfully more than a series of jokes. The jokes are there, and they are funny, but when being funny isn’t enough in an industry chock-a-block with genre-humor yarns, what a new series needs is character. And that, sweetly, SHR has in spades.
Writer Ken Marcus, a newcomer to the world of comic book scriptin’, skillfully pens the characterizations through a series of vignettes that feel connected in more than just setting (even though they really aren’t). The dialogue is well played and, if not nuanced, it’s definitely fitting. The comedy unfurls without a crinkle on its carpet, and the characters are enduringly likable. Justin Bleep, on the art side of things, wields his trademark umbellar figures with distorted features to pitch-perfect effect, resulting in a book that seems literally shaped like candy for the eye - rolls and twists and gumdrops and gummies, cobbled together and colored by the great Joey Mason (of The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Animated Series fame).
Much like Digerolamo’s The Travelers, and Donna Barr’s Desert Peach, or Phil Foglio’s Girl Genius, there’s an alluring innocence to Super Human Resources, a recognizable sincerity to the characterizations and motivations. Perhaps because the setting is one of office drudgery, where the creators may have sufficient real-life inspiration to draw upon, even when the anti-heroes or villains act their worst there’s an intelligence and sympathy to the proceedings that lend the book a magnetism most fail to achieve. This is the element that wins over, that kept me hopping right ton over to issue #2 and then #3 without pause. Oh, and the comic is really damn funny.
Find out all you’ll ever need to find out about Super Human Resources at the comic’s WEBSITE.
Well, I've banner waved Michael Bracco's epic masterpiece NOVO enough before, now here's a quite thorough review of his latest:
Novo Volume 2: The Pride (ADVANCE)
Review by Dave Baxter, posted October 23, 2008
Words: Michael S. Bracco
Pencils: Michael S. Bracco
Inks: Michael S. Bracco
Story Title: The Pride
Publisher: Alterna Comics
Release Date: December 00, 2008
Bracco is back. A mere season after the outrageous beginning of his ambitious 7-volume epic, Novo (though it’s 8-volume if you include the, uniquely, published-first stand-alone prequel called Birth ), Michael S. Bracco returns with another 88-page black-and-white tome which continues the adventures of his little Earth-born sole survivor. But wait…he’s the sole survivor? Then, uhm, what is this second volume about? Hell, that was half the fun of Volume One’s climax—what was coming next? A new planet, new species, new conflict, and yet, some things feel oddly familiar….
Novo finds himself washed up on the planet Xennon, where he meets the brutal, warrior cat-woman, Xephonia, and her son, the rightful heir to the Xennon throne. But dark supernatural cat-like creatures hunt the lot of them, and Novo Volume 2: The Pride concerns itself with our trio’s desperate race to survive within an uncharted wilderness, hounded by unknown enemies wielding abilities undefined. It’s 88 pages of tension, action, chase sequences, bloodletting, and, in the spirit of the best of Roddenberry and Bradbury, a heavy-cream dollop of cultural philosophy, existentialism, and frenzied fantasy.
Heroic Kamandi-figure (yes, I just used Kamandi’s name like Christ’s) Novo, having just escaped the folly of his own stratified Earth peoples, finds himself swept up in a clash of traditions and ancient animosities which mirror the very vista of tragic casualty he’d left behind at the end of Volume One. Can Novo put things right on this new planet? Can anything ever break blood vendettas and cultivate seemingly impossible peace? These are the very questions Bracco explored, up close, in Birth, and then mused upon the ultimate consequences of in Novo Volume One , now brought into crisper focus in Volume Two by mixing up the setting and details, but even little Novo can’t miss the startling similarities.
Bracco weaves a magnificent sequel (or is it threequel?), a story symmetric to what has come before and yet, thrillingly, in effect an unanticipated plunge into whole-cloth new territory. But it’s disquieting territory as well: this is the Wizards of the black-and-white comics crowd, the innocent and cute-looking alien lad getting hip-deep in the realities of a universe wherein justice is an ideal and not a force of nature, where mortality confronts everyone, even a would-be hero. Much as with Birth, Bracco is able to go toe-to-toe with Ron E. Howard and Burroughs in blending social criticism with head-to-toe fantasy, and the mix of pulp adventure, light-heartedness, and deadly serious danger should please anyone who’s ever marveled over those classic writers’ ability to ignore all such supposed divisions in fiction.
The hand-drawn dialogue is utterly fantastic, both in content and form, funny, wry, intelligent, dramatic, and it only enhances the greatest element of any Bracco work: the art. A breif digression: my girlfriend, only vaguely comics-initiated herself, was sitting over my shoulder while I cracked open Volume Two to read, and after maybe three seconds of staring at the first page she announced: “That’s looks really incredible.” She proceeded to pace by every few minutes after that, to look at another page and then another. She had a few more choice testimonials to give to the work before she and me were done with the book, but needless to say, Bracco’s sequential pages are like watching Picasso paint. They’re captivating, pleasing, overwhelming, and ultimately cathartic to take in. They illustrate his story with utter ease and absolute craft. Bracco is, in a nutshell, both in writing and art, Frank Miller meets Sam Kieth. If this man isn’t an Eisner winner within the next decade, I’ll eat my laptop’s cathode-ray tube. Which would kill me. So as you can see, I’m serious.
Even considering the violence (there's a bit of it, true to any story that purports to peer into the depths of human fallibility), this is a fable for us all, even for our children, especially for our children to grow up with and to understand as an inherent part of their character: this is not the way we should live. Schisms between nations, bloodlines, classes, people need to end. There will forever be conflict, but never-ending? Based on past or imagined slights? Carried onto the sons and daughters of future generations? Traditions that disallow for honest evolution, either biological or anthropological? Phooey. That’s what Novo Volume 2: The Pride is all about. And more. But to tell more would be tell-ing, and believe me, you really want to check out these books and receive the surprises they have in store for yourself. They have a ton in store.
Pre-order Novo Volume Two: The Pride now from your retailer until the end of this month (Oct. 2008) with Diamond code OCT083787
Head over to the SEPTAGON STUDIOS NEWS BLOG, now more than ever because their superb ground-breaking blog has just been nominated for "Best Comics Blog" Award at the BlogNet.com awards site!
Go HERE TO VOTE. All you have to do is register for the Awards site and then cast your vote by rating the site 1-5 stars (oh, come on and just give 'em 5 already! - no equivocating on this one!)
SS offers essay-esque coverage on comic news and thought-provoking and utterly enlightening editorials on starting up a small press comics company in the modern age, marketing, printing, etc. Their design sense is insane, too. The blog looks GORGEOUS. But for once, it's pretty AND has content. 200% more small press coverage than your average blog to boot.
For those of you who frequent a local comic shop, this message is for you. All this month NOVO Volume 2: "THE PRIDE" is in the October issue of PREVIEWS. So go on down to your comic shop and place your order today!! To preview the book and read some reviews on the first installment of NOVO just go HERE
And if you can talk your LCS into carrying my books...EVEN BETTER!
For anyone who gets their books online or at a regular ol' bookstore, you can pre-order NOVO at AMAZON
NOVO is an amazing book, one of the best goddamn finds of the past year for me, so check this out if you like daring new art and storytelling techniques doing classic-mold adventure type yarns. This one rocks it out of the park.
You can read my "Inter-Review" (a review and interview intertwined!) of NOVO Vol. 1 by clicking HERE.
The soon to be super-star artist behind our Nuts and Mr. Right character designs, plus my and Gillian's upcoming 8-page short "The Right that One Can Do" for the HOPE ANTHOLOGY by Ronin Studios and The HERO Initiative, the one and only RICK WORLEY, has his
VERY FIRST COMIC BOOK FOR SALE AT THE APE CON IN SAN FRAN THIS NOVEMBER 1ST-2ND!!!!
Look at this beauty:
This shit is FUNNY. And its sadly too true, too. Weep, chuckle, chortle, pray to god in thanks that you have a better life than Rick's. That's the experience of reading his strips. That's a comPLETE Waste of Time...not. This book will rock.
Moved into the new apartment with my girl of six years this weekend, the co-writer of what will be my first published comic - I'm exHAUSted, and won't have internet at home until next week sometime. So very sporadic replies and communication and posting from me for a bit. I still love everybody, though. Love my fucking living room, full dining room, full kitchen, full bath, one bedroom, four closet, gated community, everything-within-walking-distance-including-Quentin-Taratino's-favorite-Midnight-Movie-theater-The-New-Beverly place even MORE.
Okay, so I kinda have to agree with Robert Kirkman about what a damn fine movie SPEED RACER is. It's way over the top, and super-CGI heavy, but one thing I'll grant the Watchowskis: whenever they tackle the visual side of things, it never looks like what anyone else is doing. This movie may seem, from the trailer alone, to be the epitome of brain-dead eye-candy in the shape of story cinema, but it is far from that in effect.
The story itself is classic, a coming-of-age tale with every well-loved cliche rolled into one. There's the overbearing lovable bear of a dad, the older sibling who failed before, the younger who now has to prove his mettle, the choice between the love of a thing and the corporate greed and abuse of a thing, adults that don't fight quite hard enough and youth that often acts upon overly-naive convictions, propelled by the belief that their go-get'em gumption will mass the masses to to 'em.
Admittedly, the "evil corporation" comes across as a somewhat empty villain, seeing as how this is the Watchowskis and a huge-budget studio flick. If corporations were truly okay with having their mentality exposed as anything more biting than cookie-cutter cartoon biblical style evil, then IDIOCRACY would have been treated better. Hmmm...come to think of it, SPEED RACER didn't exactly have the right backing and promotion necessary in these entertainment-saturated times to become a hit. It just kinda came and went. The moral? America, darling, you're the enemy. The rest of the world? The wide-eyed youth that believes spirit and passion can win him everything? That's what we kill. Daily. In our pursuit of greed and gadgets. I am not talking about our corporations. I'm talking about YOU. Our corporations may be THE corporation of the film, but we're Taejo, the driver that turns a blind eye to how the actions of his family and company do away with all sportsmanlike virtues, and even, ultimately, the sport itself. America, these movies aren't doing well. We don't like them. We ignore them. I wonder why? It's no mistake the villain was American (albeit with a British accent, which I suppose was the attempt at camouflage) and the semi-villain was Japanese.
SPEED RACER is a half kid's-movie, and reminded me greatly of the Hoskins/Hopper SUPER MARIO BROS. flick in tone, but its oh-so-much fun, and every actor, especially the child actors, are so INTO the movie and enjoying what they're doing, you can't help but be strung along. On the subject of the visuals, seriously, what other movie on earth looks like this:
Maybe ZARDOZ, a choice few Boorman and Ken Russell masterpieces, but that's about it.
The CGI is wondefully artful, like a sci-fi Willy Wonka, it actually stands reminiscent of TRON, mixed with of course the more modern slow-mo stuff a la THE MATRIX and 300. Yet the charming part is that the CGI is meant to look like CGI. They make it look hyper-real and fake, and beautifully so. Unlike such rainbow colored bowel movements as 300, wherein the CGI was meant to stun, and startle, and shake, no nuance or sense of actual love or craft apparent (just manipulation), SPEED RACER is the CGI equivalent of stop-motion CLASH OF THE TITANS type grandeur. It's wonderfully unreal, exquisitely so. It's awesome to watch because for all its excessive qualities, it's NEW. It's truly DIFFERENT and something we havent' yet seen before.
So check this one out. If you're a Yank, this movie is at its heart against everything you are and do currently, but it yearns for a spirit no capitalist culture has truly maintained as its grown into the global bloated beast it stands as today. It's headier than it thinks it is, is our Speed Racer. It's mind and swirling, sizzling, streaking matter. It's bloody awesome is what it is. --Dave B.
If you're in the mood for some GREAT old-fashioned 80's pulp semi-high-literature fun, a book that's like Stephen King at his grandest writing Doc Savage - check out:
It's a werewolf hero vs. Nazis in Germany during the core of World War II. Slow-ish to start, but the second half is absolutely phenomenal. Some of the best action and thirller sequences I've read in a long damn time. The fight between the hero and a master "Great White Hunter" through multiple cars of a train is sweet, sweet fiction magic. Buy a copy HERE.
So here was a Donna Barr book I wasn't aware of until I decided to be all completest about her gluttonous, corpulent body of work. Published through Antarctic Press' adult line, Venus Comics, it's a compilation of the pin-ups and shorts that Barr doodled out over the course of coarse time, hinging on a rather interesting (if graphic) idea: what if everyone was an hermaphrodite? What if all humans were both genders at once, so that there was never any distinction? What would the new preconceptions be? The new biases and cultural divides? And what of our own cultures would be lost having never arisen in the first place?
BARR GIRLS is fancy free and graphic, in love with sexuality and in love with love in general. While there is some drop-dead accurate social criticism in these stories, mostly by what the stories leave out rather than what they contain, the lack of certain beliefs and day-to-day gender views that logically are the bathwater to the baby that gets overhand-fastballed out the window when men and women become one and the same, and so are proven cosmetic, views and beliefs that do not stand up to even this slightest of shifts in reality, and in this way spotlighted as dependent upon circumstance (wow this is turning into a long, digressive sentence, sorry, and this isn't helping, sorry again), the core of BARR GIRLS is not necessarily message-centric, or preachy, and while perhaps it is a little slap-in-the-face insofar as its outrageous subject matter in concerned, the spirit of its audacity comes across as the passion of innocence unfettered (why would I hold back? the child asks) instead of the shock value of arrogance unleashed (what's gonna make me hold back? the bastard sneers).
The book starts gentle, mostly observing the "girls" (who are referred to as girls but almost always pronoun-ed as "he" and "him"), heading to work, inviting guests over, exploring what the unavoidable assumptions of the human mind would be like in a world where gender was simply parceled out differently. Then comes the crowning, most lengthy episode of the issue, and the sex-stuff gets explicit and wild. Not for the easily offended, and not at all for anyone who thinks they already have the answers to human sexuality and gender place and position. Closed-minded asininnies need not apply.
The pin-ups are the most blink-inducing parts of the book. Mostly involving Barr dressing her girls in the looniest outfits and exploring the, uhm, anatomies of male-female adonis-amaranths. It's all jolly good fun, and you walk away feeling damn good about genitals, of either sex, which is refreshing.
This one's a tough nut to find, but right now there's copy available over at or anyway their online eBay store (which is where I purchased my copy, and they still have at least one more!) Head on over there by clicking HERE
REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public today REMINDER.... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies tomorrow and you will start to receive sale calls.
..... YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS
To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222.
It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.
HELP OTHERS BY PASSING THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS ...It takes about 20 seconds.
Inspired by a fellow comic-con goer, who recently posted his Top 10 80's tunes, I decided (being such a fanatic of that decade, because I was too young to really live it and get disgusted by it) to make my own. His was very Brit-based, little punk and alternative, mine's a but more mainstream, if that can really be a distinction.
10) WE CLOSE OUR EYES (Oingo Boingo) - This is the one that I discovered only recently. In fact, OB themselves I only recently came aware of due to THE FORBIDDEN ZONE oddball musical movie they made when they were KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO (pre-new-wave rock-pop stuff) and now I do oh-so-love them. This one was the song that made me seek out EVERYTHING they did (I now own it all, live albums, too). Haunting, happy, melodic, dissonant, very very metallic drum 80's. Gorgeous and begins my best-of list, no question.
9) THE HEAT IS ON (Kenny Loggins) - Just lost out to "Footloose", but I only wanted one song per artist, and "Heat" with its unforgettable saxophone core, wailing whoa-OH-oh-oh!, and catchy verse, it does definitely trump the toe-tapping/I-wanna-jump-around quality of Kevin Bacon's old-school aria. There's a lot of movie themes here like this one (which is from Beverly Hills Cop), but oddly I'd never seen BHC, or most of the movies the songs were made for, until long after I fell in love with the songs themselves.
8) GHOSTBUSTERS THEME (Ray Parker, Jr.) - Well, except this one: I saw the movie first, and this is one of the best theme songs in movie history. The artist hardly ever made a "hit" again, but this one will forever be as remembered as the movie and characters themselves. Who you gonna call? That's right. You gonna call them.
7) NOTHING COMPARES 2 U (Sinnead O'Connor) - Not only a heart wrenching song, but also arguably the only heart-wrenching music video ever made. Just Sinnead in front of the camera in close-up for one single take, as the song drives her to tears. Incoyable! You can't even think of this song without singing/humming it for hours after the fact.
6.5) LEAD ME ON (Amy Grant) - Yeeeaaahhh, this one is 6.5, as I'm one song too many on this list, and this one is a tough call. It's very special to me. I had no idea Amy Grant was Christian/Gospel, but stole a tape of hers out of my sister's bedroom one day an listened to it while reading Uncanny X-Men comics and it was the perfect soundtrack to the reading experience. It made the X-Men issue I was reading my favorite of all time (#285 - the final chapter of "The Muir Island Saga") and this song, "Lead Me On" was the one I replayed the most, loving it to pieces. It could have been worse. My only other option were Tiffany tapes. "Circle in the Sand" anyone?
6) WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN (Bangles) - Just lost out to "Manic Monday", but this one is *that* much more phenomenal in its simplicity and yet completely unexpected perfectly overkill production. Like a Broadway finale with synth.
5) FAITH (George Michael) - "Father Figure" and "I Want Your Sex" were close runners up, but Faith has got the staying power in the head, and really makes one want to dance, sing, and I think everyone can picture themselves being George Michael in looks and style when they sing it. Incredible blend of styles into a song that never even strikes as being a fusion unless you really listen to its parts.
4) DUCHESS (Genesis) - Barley made the list, as it was released in 1980, but this ballad by Phil Collins and Co. was the first that really paved the way for Genesis' pop career and Phil's own solo one. It's so wonderfully sung, composed, and the lyrics are killer. Also a great blend of old-Genesis and pop-Genesis, a perfect middle ground. Made me adore them forever and ever, even into the easy listening days and new-singer-who's-isn't-Phil album.
3) MAN IN THE MIRROR (Michael Jackson) - MJ is a god. And this is his very best far as I'm concerned. There are songs of his that work better than Man in the Mirror, in one way or another, but none had such a solid coming together of rock, pop, diva, gospel, funk, you name it. And what a great message! If only MJ himself hadn't taken it so...uhm...literal. And, you know, followed the message and not just the words. ("Take a look at yourself, and make that change")
2) WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO-GO (Wham!) - The first song I ever decided to love just for myself. The awakening of my musical awareness. Oh, yes, it's so syrupy gummy sticky wonderful. "Last Christmas" and "Careless Whisper" are almost as good, but in ultimately different ways - a little more sentimental and gooey. This one is total cheese, and done soooo sincerely. Love. It.
1) ***GLORY OF LOVE (Peter Cetera)***- The ultimate, the one, the top and very bestest of them all. Yes, it's that wretched theme from KARATE KID II. Insanely 80's. Insanely sappy. Insanely wonderful. Cetera seemingly sings the whole thing from inside a tin drum, and the lyrics are bar none for their ridiculousness and yet true-blue touching pie in the sky romance. This was Bryan Adam's "Everything I Do, I Do it For You" long before Bryan Adams was known.
Okay, that's that! Richard Marx should have been on this list (Endless Summer Nights!) but, alas, only so much room, and I haven't listened to him in too long a time. Beyond that, what's YOUR top ten 80's? --Dave B.
Whoof - child molestation, murder, and desecration, generally in that order. THAT is the name of the game for this rather unexpected (can I say that? That this book is unexpected? Ever? As in "I didn't see the fact that I wouldn't see the what that came next would be coming?" Haven't I learned that this is straight-on par fer the sandy dry dessicated course?) issue #21, titled "The Good Uncle".
I thought that was Erwin Rommel on the cover (what a striking cover, too, eh?), the Desert Fox himself, but thankfully no, the cover model is a new character introduced (and exuented) in this very issue, there to basically explore a rather squirm-inducing topic. For that, it's memorable, as this is a hotter topic to fan the flames than the more general topics of war, humanity, tolerance, bigotry, sexuality, etc. I suppose that's the unexpected part, this is the first time quite so specific an issue has been raised as sole focus of an entire chapter. Which isn't to say creator Donna Barr doesn't toss in male mothering instinct, her usual up-close dissection of the differences between cultures and resolving issues even in the face of ignorance and unavoidable bigotry. But past DP books have wheeled between sub-plots and side tracks, while "The Good Uncle" travels a very straight and arrow-shaped path, as thought the subject demanded a very focused, single-child nurture.
The first half flows well, and offers readers a marvelous number of scenes involving an enlisted regiment of dirty, lonely, aimless soldiers taking care of a little leibchen, the son of Pfirsich. Then comes the arrival of LeutnantDoktorLindemann, a pediatrician who's come to lavish special, prim, professional attention on Pfirsich's boy. Soon, however, the locals arrive crying for justice, looking for a killer of their children! A search for the suspect in on, and when they're found the question still remains of just what to do with them.
It's a heady brew, The Good Uncle is, though it does a commendable job with sizing up the justifications of man's behaviors, and drawing distinctions between "deviant" ones. And the ENDING!!! With a one-two punch of horrific absurdity, Barr yanks the whole shebang to a climax and epilogue that would have immediately been rejected by any editor with content authority. Not that they're offensive (is anything, really, in a Barr book? It's her most signature talent - offensive material that never IS offensive when she writes about it), but the ending is classic Barr - entirely random and not how anyone else would have done it, but wholly fitting nevertheless.
One final thing that makes #21 stand out - A LETTER'S PAGE!!! Yes, after having nearly none for quite some time, AEON gave Donna 10 whopping pages to go all Dave Sim/Erik Larsen with her fans, printing letter after letter longer than some essays and responding in kind. It's was fascinating to get a nice lump of historical perspective, reading letters concerned with the book's hiatus (when Donna took time off to produce the DP musical) and then letters deciphering the issues much as I'm doing now on this blog. Different takes, different opinions, good to read, awesome to read in fact.
THE GOOD UNCLE is an issue I'll likely think of long into the future, one of those that may become signature when I consider the series in retrospect. But it's also, thus far, an oddity - less a pot pourri than a deliberation. But a deliberation done DP style, which makes it oh-so-good. --Dave B.
Whoo-hoo! What a thrill to have finally read the very last (missing) installment of my Stinz collection!
A Stranger to Our Kind (Stinz Volume III, #5), the fifth and final one-shot published by MU PRESS before Stinz V.III continued on for four more issues (#6-9) and a graphic novel (New Souls, which wedged itself between issues #8 and 9) under creator Donna Barr's own company imprint, A FINE LINE PRESS.
The first two volumes of Stinz dealt with his war years, as a half-horse conscripted into the German army, his meteoric rise to war hero, thus nicknamed "The Black Major", and then also his coming home, back to a rural farmland community. There were whispers, though, of "The End of the War", and how this had somehow traumatized Stinz, changed the face of the world as anyone knew it, and yet Stinz's own township seemed unaffected. The one-shots otherwise known as Stinz V.III #1-4 slowly built-up the mystery, and revealed hints of precisely how the world changed, and began to build up a new tension: Stinz and the townfolk vs. the Baron and Baronin, who since the End of the War have apparently, officially "owned" the town, and all the half-horses became their Serfs. Half-horses are not seen to the world at large as people, with the rights of two-leggers. By and large creator Barr kept this mostly as part of the setting, rather than first and foremost in the trials of the characters. But all that changed with "A Stranger to Our Kind".
Here, the conflict between the extreme class differences as accentuated by the results of "The End of the War", come straight to the fore. The Baronin has married the Baron, and now brings her guards in to run the valley as she deems proper, which is based on an outsider's perspective of "proper". This leads to yellow-suited soldiers trotting about and demanding service of the locals, which leads to one local reacting with a fatal consequence for one of the soldiers. Confusion and outrage ensue, leading to one young half-horse soldier, Yesi, thoughtlessly naming Stinz as the most likely suspect in the murder.
Now, Yesi had been (somewhat unsuccessfully) courting Stinz' daughter, Reet, only to be rebutted by both the girl and the old war half-horse himself, so that this accusation stems from less-than-sincere impulses. Now Stinz' ex-General, Gift, along with Yesi and other soldiers who consider the half-horses little more than uppity slaves, have to bring Stinz to a ceremonial trial that no one in the valley has actually heard of or taken part of before, and mass miscommunication is the flavor of the day.
This is the story that truly kick-starts everything that comes in the FINE LINE PRESS issues. The Baron and Baronin, the carnivorous face-horse Kilan, mention of the ground zero area for the mysterious End of the War, the first story that truly centers itself around the cultural overhauls caused by said End of the War, much talk of journeying back into the world outside the valley, Yesi and Reet's relationship, the respect and love between Gift and Stinz that only two old war companions could have, no matter the most current conflict between them. It's all here, and makes, frankly, issues #6-9 seem much less sudden of a switch in tone and focus as they did before, when I tried to jump from V.III #4 to #6.
A Stranger to Our Kind is dense and jam-packed, with dozens of characters, and a whole story told on nearly every page, each page like a chapter in a book, nearly self-contained in its own right but then you get a full book-length contemplation of events should you plow through all 40+ pages of the one-shot. In a way, this is the perfect "jumping-on point" for Stinz, as everything you need to know is explored here, and then continued and brought to natural conclusions in following issues. Think of this as like the beginning of the "Twilight years" for Stinz, all past stories dealing more with youth (V.I) and middle age (V.II, III #1-4).
Barr's dialogue and pacing is in perfect control, which is to say the story tells itself without doubting its intent or direction for an instant. The art is equally as finely wrought, tight and layered but very polished. The printing is smooth and flawlessly cut and magic to the touch - crisp white paper and solid cardstock cover.
An absolutely beautiful package, with a striking cover and a story that will bloat you with ideas and characters and events as though a meal of fried chicken and waffles - it will stay with you, intermittently pleasant and otherwise.
For all other Stinz issues (they're all available except this one!), go to:
THE LITTLE STORE (http://donnabarr.blogspot.com/2007/04/my-emergency-website.html)
EDUCATION OF PURCHASE:
STINZ V.III #1-4 and 6-9 are sold individually.
The two Stinz collections offered: "CHARGER" collects all of V.I and V.II under one cover, and "ALL TURNED AROUND", otherwise/also known as "NEW SOULS" GN, fits chronologically between V.III #8 and 9, and collects a long run of online Stinz stories Barr published at ModernTales.com, where you can find yet more of her Stuff.