Monday, May 31, 2010
The above image is courtesy of the artist Mister Hope and the blog Hey Oscar Wilde! It's Clobberin' Time, where various artists interact with their favourite literary figures-be they characters, artists or writers. If you've got an hour or so to spare, I suggest you wander over and spend some time going through the posts. Awesome stuff.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
So, yeah, go here and take a look at this slice of awesome. I would re-post it, but frankly, you should go visit the Pulp Sunday blog and click through the vast plethora of pretty pictures by Francesco Francavilla that await you there.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Neat article on CBR about comics arguments we should be having in lieu of the hoary old chestnuts that always crop up. Do yourself a favour and click through the links in said article as well, because it's quite interesting reading.
Personally, I enjoy reading about debates more than engaging in them. My opinions tend to be pretty fluid on most points, evolving as I absorb new information, so unless it's an issue I have strong feelings on, I tend to drift and enjoy the flow of conversation. I love other people's opinions for the most part. Kinda why I cross-post these bits in several different places.
Did have one idea for a new argument to have though...considering the evolution in the overall level of storytelling across the comics spectrum, why are super-heroes still the default? Detectives, horrors, cowboys, adventure-heroes, mystery men and romantics all dominated the earliest comics before the advent of the four-colour titans. But, by and large, while the pendulum has swung back towards the more realistic, adult themes that those type of books exploited, the method of delivery-guys in colourful tights-hasn't.
I mean, I get that the current generation of comics professionals cut their teeth on super-heroes, but at some point and time you have to look and realize that the story you want to tell-the points you want to make-might work a bit better without the super-people in it. So why include them at all? Look at Garth Ennis' Punisher run. Nary a super-type to be seen, and the book was insanely popular. Howsabout Sandman Mystery Theatre? Criminal? 100 Bullets? And those are just the mystery and crime comics.
If you want more adult themes, more realism, more grit, doesn't it stand to reason that it might be more effective without the demi-gods?
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
While it was true that Rex had no particular love for Theodore Roosevelt or his son, the boy was a necessary pawn in Rex's gambit for the White House and the lost occult library of noted Mason and possible Satanist, Thomas Jefferson. The bear's death was quick, courtesy of the WONDER-DOG!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I have never read this, but boy, do I want to. I read the more recent Dark Horse pairing (several years old now), but hot damn, look at that! Two of the greatest characters in pulp-history, back to back against God only knows what. Awesome.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Well, look at that...a certain someone who spends far too much time composing intellectually stimulating essays on comics nominated me for whatchacalloneothem 'Kreativ Blogger Awards'. See? Look at that pastel nightmare up there. I love it. That's my new wallpaper there, I think.
Anywhich, there are apparently rules to go with this thing, which are, as follows:
- Don't get it wet.
- You must thank the person who has given you the award.
- Copy the award logo and place it on your blog.
- Link to the person who has nominated you for the award.
- No food after midnight.
- Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
- Nominate 7 other Kreativ Bloggers.
- Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
- No bright lights.
- Leave a comment on each of the blogs to let them know they have been nominated.
So, since I done thanked Colin, and I done pasted that garish slice of heaven into my post, guess it's down to the seven facts about myself you will probably find interesting. Brass tacks, then...
- I once dated a professional wrestler. A lady wrestler, before you get any ideas.
- I have been bitten by thirteen species of animal. Including a gorilla. True story.
- I was raised a snake handler, but I'll die a Schismatic.
- Danny Glover irks me. He knows why.
- Harlan Ellison threw a shoe at me. To this day, I have no idea why.
- Latin. I knowz it.
- I can recite most of Richard III from memory.
Next up, my nominations, which are, as follows...
- Gef Fox of WAG THE FOX
- Cate Gardner of her eponymous blog
- Joe Bloke of GRANTBRIDGE STREET AND OTHER MISADVENTURES
- Gene Phillips of THE ARCHETYPAL ARCHIVE
- The Groovy Agent of DIVERSIONS OF THE GROOVY KIND
- Joel Jenkins of THE VAULTS OF CALADREX
- Nancy Gray of FEEDING THE WRITING ADDICTION
And that, as they say, is that.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I pride myself on my professionalism (says the man who posts pictures of the Thing to a daily blog), yet, whenever a disgruntled comics professional breaks the locks on the Fortress of Solitude, as it were, I get a giddy little thrill. I like it when creative folks dish the skinny on the behind the scenes work that goes into a creative endeavour, even the bad stuff.
The question that occurs to me, after reading that article, is whether or not we should be hearing it. Now, among non-comics writers, I've come to learn that the gossip grapevine is a necessary evil. It tells you what editors are the kind you want to work with, what writers you don't want to share an anthology with, what's a scam publisher and what ain't...but the thing is, despite the advances of the internet age, that gossip grapevine is still a pretty small thing. The average fan won't see leaf one of that vine, nor do they care. But compare that to the number of people who read an interview with an angry comics professional on, say CBR or Newsarama and feel affronted on said creator's behalf.
Now, I'm all up in Dwayne McDuffie's corner, don't get me wrong. But should we-the noncomics professionals-have known of the problems he was having with DC editorial? Or should he have kept it in-house, as it were?
Personally, I think the genuinely squeaky wheel gets the grease. Barring fanatical overreaction, it should be fairly easy to tell the difference between a professional demanding their day in court (and taking their lumps accordingly, as McDuffie did), and a person with an axe to grind. And presentation makes all the difference, kids.
While it's DC/Marvel's prerogative to act as they will in accordance with their corporate mandate, and that that sometimes means a writer or artist gets the bum end of the stick-kicked off a book, series cancelled, etc.-other times it's a wrong-headed decision made in defiance of the audience's expectations and desires because someone in marketing didn't do their research or buys into outdated or biased market tests. In the case of the latter, it serves the industry as a whole if it gets plastered all over the internet and the proper outrage is expressed by the parties involved.
Now, granted, said outrage might not accomplish anything (in fact, I'd say nine times out of ten it accomplishes bupkiss), but, at the very least, it might get someone somewhere thinking. And that's the first step to changing things.
Or, y'know, I could be completely wrong and every writer or artist who complains about their treatment by the Big Two is an unprofessional jackass commie agitator. Opinions? Thoughts? Donations?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Erik Larsen is a man of strong opinions. Personally, seeing as I make some (not much) money on royalties myself from the day job, I disagree with Larsen. Then, it probably comes down to whether or not you think letterers, inkers and colourists are a part of the creative team.
Now, for myself, I think they are. They are involved in the creative process-i.e., the creation of a book-and are therefore part of the creative team. It takes a blend of skills-whether provided by a team or supplied by one very talented individual-to make a comic. Writing and art on their own do not a funny book make.
Sure, splitting the royalty pie into that many pieces means the pieces will be smaller, and, you could argue that the artists and writers pull in more of an audience and thus deserve a larger share, but don't they make more off the front end anyway? How much does a writer make compared to a letterer? (Seriously, I'm interested. If you know, please share...)
There are ways to do it, obviously. You could always divide the royalties in an unequal manner (bigger cut for the bigger names), or simply pay a higher flat rate to those members of the production staff who aren't household names in order to compensate for smaller or no royalties. Probably sounds simpler than it is.
It's something to think about anyway. What's your opinion?
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Take a look at this: Mike Mignola's rendition of Detective Comics # 168. That's just fancy, that is. I like the Red Hood's nonchalant stance-hands in pockets, shoulders relaxed, legs spread. Looks like he's hanging out at the Palms (or the Gotham equivalent), rather than preparing to rob the Ace Chemical plant. The image courtesy of the DC Universe blog.
Monday, May 17, 2010
There's a saying in the comics industry...when you give Bill Sienkiewicz nine panels, Bill Sienkiewicz uses all nine goddamn panels.* Look at that layout. It's hypnotic. Like a spiral drawing in on itself. Goddamn that man can draw.
* This is not actually a saying in the comics industry, but wouldn't it be awesome if it was?
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
Very thought provoking post on crime and punishment in a super-heroic universe over at the ever-entertaining blog, Too Busy Thinking About My Comics. Give it a read, and maybe leave a comment, as Colin is quite the interesting fellow.
My own thoughts are roughly parallel, as you might guess from my occasional villain-centric posts, and the increasing meta-psychopathy of most of the Big Two's villains is a trend I find disturbing. 'Antagonist' does not generically mean 'Cannibal', except in certain cases (when said antagonist is, in fact, a cannibal).
Yes, bad men (and women) do bad things. But the scale of the bad is always uniquely adjusted to the individual's personality, and grafting a generic sort of moral malaise to a villain (i.e. Dr. Light revealing a heretofore unknown leering penchant for rape) in order to create Dramatic! Tension! is, at best, lazy. At worst, it relegates a once useful character to the discard bin.
There are, of course, villains for whom such taboo acts are well within their writ, but if every man is a monster, they become interchangeable, defined only by colour-coordination and gimmick.
Like I said, makes you think.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
So, I'm a bit late on the mark with this bit of interesting comics op-ed journalism, but, frankly, it's worth sharing anyway. Chris Sims is a thought-provoking fellow, once he sidles sideways of the whole Batman/car battery quagmire (I steadfastly maintain that Batman's best moment was not chucking a car battery, but instead when he rescued a ghost-girl from Thomas Jefferson's underground satanic temple with the help of a bat-demon), and his piece, "The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling" is well worth reading.
Especially in light of this bit of recent news.
My own thoughts on the matter are relatively simple: some characters have to be who they are for the brand to work. Others, not so much. Characters like the Flash, or the Atom or Green Lantern? They're gimmicks with attached characterization. As long as the gimmick and the costume is the same, it doesn't matter who they are under the mask. Batman? Batman has to be Bruce Wayne, because only Bruce Wayne could be Batman. His origin is inextricably tied into his gimmick. Same for Superman or Spider-Man. Even then, a change can work, given the correct circumstances (Dick Grayson as Batman, for instance, or say Spider-Girl) and a shift that comes with a smooth evolution in the ongoing story.
Personally, I've always wondered why super-hero comics aren't more open to change, especially considering the market base the Big Two are currently playing to. An older market implies the need for more complex stories (which doesn't necessarily equate with [insert random character death]). Granted, familiarity and nostalgia are amongst the most powerful forces of assembled geekdom, and not to be trifled with, but frankly, if comics are to grow, they need to attract more readers. Best way to do that? Appeal to a wider sample of people. Simple.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
While human affairs held little interest for Rex, and the affairs of Germany even less so since the death of the last Hohenstaufen Emperor, the rabid march of Nazism proved detrimental to any number of Rex's schemes. Thus, Rex was propelled into combat with the German Blitzkrieg...WONDER-DOG!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Hey, remember this? Well, of course you do! Zombie King-Kong is hard to forget, after all. But the man who put Kong back in his monkey-grave is back, battling a conglomeration of his worst enemies as well as...Nazi Ant-men? If you like your pulp pulse-pounding and pugnacious, power on over to Action Age comics and check out DANGER ACE: Adventurer for Hire!
Monday, May 10, 2010
CBR has the first full issue of Cullen Bun and Brian Hurtt's new series The Sixth Gun up for a free read for those interested. It's got a nice weird western/occult detective vibe going, what with ghostly gallows trees, vicious Pinkertons and a cranky sumbitch in a chained coffin. Go give it a read.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Justin Hammer isn't just dead, he's "frozen-inside-a-big-block-of-ice-in-space" dead, which is twice as dead as Gwen Stacy. But hey, can't keep a good mad billionaire down, right?
Yeah, okay, maybe I'm reaching. But without Hammer, who'll fund all of the super-villains? Who'll give them health-care and get their busted gadgets fixed? Who'll shell out for those jail-house accountancy courses?
Well, his daughter, probably, considering that she's given up the whole Crimson Cowl deal in the aftermath of Dark Reign. But Justine Hammer, while having plenty of her father's ruthlessness lacks his business acumen.
See, that's what I always liked about Hammer...he wasn't book smart, like Tony Stark. In the immortal words of Bartholomew J. Simpson, "With your book-smarts, and my ability to manipulate people with book-smarts...". Hammer was a stone-cold manipulator. Whether via money, intimidation or genetic poisons injected into the bloodstream, Hammer got people to do what he wanted.
Including downloading his consciousness (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) into a Hammer Industries variation on the SHIELD Life Model Decoy. Possibly with a bit of help from brainiacs like the Mad Thinker or Arnim Zola. Wouldn't that be a shock to poor Justine?
Finally out of her father's shadow, only to have him reappear, in a manner of speaking.
But even as Hammer sets about re-establishing himself, he learns that his daughter has out-manoeuvred him...Hammer is locked out of his own company, left only with a few bits and pieces of Stane International to keep him in his dotage. And his LMD body is beginning to wear out thanks to a faulty transference process. He needs funds and research and fast.
Of course, the bits of real estate he still holds are, in actuality, the old training and outfitting facilities from his super-villain hiring days. And Justine threw his old Rolodex in with his other office supplies. And, he has just enough money to jumpstart a small business. Say, a private security company?
What's a master manipulator to do?
Friday, May 7, 2010
God help me, but I love villains who are complete nutballs. Not psychopaths per se, but just plain nuts. That, in a nutshell, is what I like about the Unicorn.
Poor Milos Masaryk is a born pawn, bouncing from one master to the next, and displaying almost fanatical devotion to each. He's a loon, but a loon with a lot of power, especially considering the number of times he's been the subject of experiments and cosmic tampering. Whether you're a fan of the pre-third eyeball or post Unicorn, Masaryk is essentially a walking death ray.
The Unicorn is a tool, to be used by a master-planner type. He's easily manipulatable, amazingly powerful, and incoherent enough to confuse even the most powerful telepath. Too, his madness adds a touch of pathos to his character, which is always handy for a writer looking to put the screws to his readers.
Essentially, he's the perfect niche-character for a long-running storyline. He shows up to cause damage and manoeuvre the hero into a position of weakness or danger, so that the mastermind may strike.
There's a certain value in a character like that, at least IMO. The Unicorn provides a decent threat for most any character or team, while not being what you'd call continuity-heavy. He can be plugged in with minimum effort on the part of a smart writer, and can set up a number of potential subplots just by wandering around blowing the crap out of things.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Blacklash is dead.
The real one, I mean. Mark Scarlotti, the original nutcase to take a slightly more impressive than normal bullwhip into a fight with a guy wearing one of the most advanced weapons systems in existence.
That's like charging a machine gun nest with a spork. It never ends well, but you can't help feeling that it was something worth watching.
That's why we need Blacklash back. We need a villain with more guts than brains, a man impervious to common (not to mention fashion) sense, a man unafraid to beat on a nuclear warhead with ball-peen hammer.
Most villains fall into two camps-the professional and the amateur. The former are your mercenaries, your thieves and your basic hired flunky. The latter are your guys-with-grudges, your psychopaths and your one-bad-dayers.
With Blacklash, you get the best of both worlds. You get the blue-collar bad guy, punching a clock and raking in the overtime and the slightly off-kilter renegade who carries a grudge. Even better, Blacklash has one of the strongest backstories among Marvel's legion of third-string bad guys. Manic-depressive, tried to reform but failed which cost him his wife, gets his throat crushed by Iron-Man's sentient armor. Dude has pathos coming out of his pores.
Granted, some jiggery-pokery would be required to bring back Scarlotti, but it could be done. We can rebuild him. We can make him better. A new voice-box courtesy of AIM or Justin Hammer or Norman Osborn, and he could be up and ready to rumble, just in time to cash in on the whole whip thing Mickey Rourke has going on in Iron-Man 2.
Plus, then we could get the band back together-Boomerang, Blizzard and Blacklash. The greatest trio in super-villain history other than the family Sivana.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Really, what's not to like about Spymaster? Like the Ghost, he's essentially a corporate raider taken to the next level (and without the Ghost's anti-corporate screed), which is quite interesting. He's a brains-over-brawn sort of villain. With no powers to speak of, Spymaster must be ten steps and two gadgets ahead of his opponents.
Using a variety of skills and technology, he steals the most precious commodity around-information. Information in the form of blueprints, interoffice memos, flashdrives containing state secrets, Nick Fury's Blackberry, the list goes on.
Now, there have been three Spymasters to date, but I'm using the picture of the first one for a good reason-I like him better than the other two. A master of industrial espionage, he 'died' without revealing his identity after a botched assassination attempt on the Ghost, but was recently revealed to have survived and been living under the radar ever since.
Now, why would a man like this go underground like that? Obviously, he's no fool. There were probably quite a few people looking to put him in a pinebox permanently, so he took advantage of an opportunity to slip out of sight.
So why come back? Simple. Like many career criminals, Spymaster enjoys the game. He's been taking it easy, but he's tired of sun and sand and suburbia. In the wake of Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, etc. ad infinitum, there are plenty of corporations out there waiting to be picked clean by certain interested parties. Stark International has been divvied up, but its most expensive secrets have yet to be ferreted out. The same for Oscorp. Too, organizations like SHIELD, SWORD, HAMMER, etc. are leaking like sieves. There's alien technology all over the place, Wakanda just had a coup, and Asgard is a shambles.
It's player's choice and Spymaster is ready to get back in the game.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
France has a history with the super-villain. Fantomas, The Brothers Tenebrae, Arsene Lupin, the Vampires, Irma Vep, Mm. Atomos, the list goes on and on. Thieves, sadists, mad scientists, anarchists, our Gallic cousins got 'em all, going back to the years prior to World War I.
With a pedigree like that, you'd think they'd rate more of a presence on the four-color funnies scene, right? We'd get some slick, suave French bad guys in domino masks and European-cut suits. Maybe some sexy thieves in black bodysuits who sniff powdered blood out of snuff boxes? Right?
Instead, we get a guy who teleports (because he's a coward-get it?), a guy who kicks people and a guy who turns people to stone. While Warp, like many DC characters, is dead, and Batroc's lunacy has gone clean out the other side of whatthefuckistan into awesomesauceburg, Paul Pierre Duval lags sadly behind the both of them.
And there's really no reason for it. He can disable the strongest opponent with the merest brush of his fingers, turning them to stone for an hour and is proven threat to even the heaviest of hitters. So why the lack of gargoyle-love?
Because, for all his gimmickry, Duval lacks even the barest iota of personality. He is, unfortunately, generic French guy #4. Batroc, for all of his inherent ridiculousness, possesses a swashbuckling flippancy that makes him, if nothing else, fun to have around. But the Grey Gargoyle has no such flippancy. He's a template villain. He serves a similar purpose to gentlemen such as the Rhino or Electro or Powderkeg. A prefabricated opponent, dropped into a story to serve as a source of conflict, or else he's one villain in a crowd scene.
But he could be more. Duval is a thinker (advanced chemistry degree, anyone?). A schemer. No to mention that the obvious sadism he so regularly displays is a significant kink that could, in a pinch, substitute for a real personality. Indeed, with a bit of effort, the Grey Gargoyle could be a major player. Think of him as a Fantomas or a Great Vampire...not a leader, per se, but more of an organizer and a figurehead. Someone who plays games with the heroes to distract them while the other villains are out getting down to business; someone who insists on his fair share, whether he deserves it or not.
And Heaven help you if you don't give it to him. Stone may not feel pain, but it can be broken easily enough...
Monday, May 3, 2010
We're back, after a short, unforeseen hiatus. Well, not BACK-back, because I ain't doing crap today, but back in the general sense of updating this thing on a regular basis. Semi-regular basis. When I feel like it.
On that note, what with Iron-Man 2 opening in theatres in a few days, I thought I should do something special to celebrate...so, for the next week, I'll be posting five new entries in the 'Villains with Potential' series, each one dedicated to an Iron-Man related (perhaps tangential, in the case of some) villain. First up...
The Grey Gargoyle!