Monday, November 29, 2004

Remember what I said about SPOOKS?

Well, tonight - Golum is on, playing a rock star. Called "Riff", ferfuckssake. Overacting, ahoy! Keep an eye out for any STAR WARS refugees.

Nope, no-one from STAR WARS this week. As usual, this series is always grasping to say something profound, in this case about the collusion between celebrities, politicians and Fleet Street to keep the public in the dark about their true uber-shittiness, but fluffs it in the rush to replicate the visual style and glossiness of American shows like CSI or 24. Unlucky!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

In lieu of heavy, heavy drinking...

...this weekend (for financial reasons - I'll be visiting very fancy restaurants twice in the forthcoming weeks, Christmas shopping, oncoming overtime ban, etc), I stayed in and watched three DVD rentals, ELF, SPIDERMAN 2, and HARRY POTTER 3.

With mixed results.

ELF was okay, just a simple little kid's movie, elevated by the performance of the ever-reliable Will Ferrell. Contrary to what you might have heard, SPIDERMAN 2 is pretty mediocre stuff. Visually audacious, thanks to Sam Raimi, but overly sentimental, soapy slop otherwise. It shows how low comic fans' expectations are when they rushed to declare this the best comicbook film ever when on release. Oh, and while I'm at it, the 2 X-MEN films aren't all that and a bag of chips, either. Both turn their villains into 2D Bond-esque meglomaniacs (I really don't think Singer or McKellan really got Magneto), and both forego decent third acts for big special effects set-pieces.

Best of the bunch was HARRY POTTER 3, the first Rowling adaption to make a satisfactory transistion. The first two were blighted by a tendancy to just have their leads react to various CGI monstrosities, whereas this time, they actually, y'know, did stuff themselves. Instead of just gurn and scream.
This was my favourite book of the series so far, so that didn't hurt, either. It whipped through the book at a great pace, which is how the future films are going to have to advance through Rowling's next few ever-thickening texts as well. The sexy uneditable minx.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

They also served

And some more quick run-throughs of some more crap-in-the-box I've read recently.

The TEEN TITANS/LEGION special: nothing special about it. I keep giving Geoff Johns a chance, and I know he has his fans, but his work is just superhero sludge. Besides, writing off the latest iteration of the Legion in a Teen Titans comic is as big a faux pas as getting one of The Defenders in to sort out your big Avengers finale, as Bendis just did, the big tool.

THE COMICS JOURNAL #263: when was the last time I bought two issues of this venerable old rag in a row, as I just did? God knows, but they're still banging on about the same crap! Give SUPERMAN back to the Shusters! Return Kirby's artwork! Marvel bad! Fantagraphics good!
The main thing is, their tentpole interviews have been unmissable lately, last issue's Toth and this issue's Brubaker. Great stuff.

EVEN MORE FUND COMICS: felt good giving to the CBLDF, but the book itself was more miss than hit, unfortunately, which is the only way to judge an anthology.
CATWOMAN #35&36: I love Brubaker, but you can see why he bailed recently - heavy Bat-book editorial interference, and an incompatible artist. But I'm sure the guy is far too professional to ever say so.

THE NEW FRONTIER #6: Sure, its sentimental, sure we've seen this kinda thing before, but boy, can Darwyn Cooke draw real purdy.

BPRD: THE DEAD #1 - good start. Wish Mignola would knuckle down and draw more Hellboy, already, the lazy scamp, instead of fucking about playing the Hollywood big shot.
WE3 #2: god-like genius.

GOTHAM CENTRAL: consistantly the best monthly with that DC logo in the corner.
EX MACHINA #5&6: Hope all involved maintain this early high standard. Have already pointed out my high esteem for Tony Harris. Must admit, now curious enough to dig out more work by this Brian K Vaughan character. Must hit eBay.
100 BULLETS: Fuck waiting for the trade, this comic works just as well as singles. Genius.

DC's SOLO #1: I'm not the biggest Tim Sale fan in the world, but I thought this format was a great idea that deserves supporting, so I got it. Can't wait to they start getting round to some of my personal favourites, namely Paul Pope.
THE MIGHTY THOR #587: I loved Oeming's HAMMER OF THE GODS, which made it apparrent the guy was born to write this title, like no-one since Walt Simonson. I don't think he let me down. Truly Wagnerian comicbookery.

And, talking of Walt Simonson, ELRIC: THE MAKING OF A SORCERER #1 - it's bleedin' apparent from reading any online reviews of this title that comicbook reviewers have no idea where this stands in the greater scope of Moorcock's work. Namely, though it is in name a prequel to the Elric stories, it dwells on themes and ideas that have emerged in the last few multiverse books, such as the excellent DREAMTHIEF'S DAUGHTER and THE SKRAYLING TREE. The guy is another god-like genius that age does not weary. The fookin' modern day Dickens.

JACK STAFF #6: I'm dropping this. Sure, the art's great, and every issue gives me a few chuckles, but damned if that's enough from the guy who gave us the excellent KANE.
THE INTIMATES #1: Joe Casey just might talk a more interesting comic than he's actually capable of producing, unfortunately, as I reckon he's a smart cookie. However, I can't see myself continuing buying this book. I'm maybe about 18 years older than its taget audience, for a start.
THE GOLDEN PLATES #1: As someone who knows or cares little about the Mormon Church, but loves the work of Mike Allred, I can safely say: "do you guys really believe this shit?!"
At least it looks good, y'know, for a self-justifying, nearly-unreadable tract. I'll keep buying these, in that "waiting-for-a-Dave-Sim-moment" style morbid curiousity.
THE WICKED WEST: Love weird westerns, love Neil Vokes. This was just okay, I guess.

AVENGERS #502&503: Not as bad as some message board trolls had implied, but hardly as epochal as hyped. Poorly structured, flawed at many fundemental levels (see above), but boy! can David Finch draw a superhero comic. Which is the real reason no disgruntled fanboys will send these issues back to BENDIS for his money back challenge.

The "god, I'm tired, round up!"
AUTHORITY MORE KEV #4: Garth Ennis really hates being asked to write superheroes, doesn't he? "Sure, I'll write some AUTHORITY for you Jimbo, but they'll hardly appear, and it'll really be about SAS nutjobs". BULLSEYE GREATEST HITS #2, Daniel Way proves he can do Ennis, and to top off his impression, he gets Steve Dillon to draw it. Not bad at all. PLANTETARY #21 - fairly weak issue all round. POWERS #5, still Bendis' best work. Bitching about Bendis on the internet is now officially old hat. Watch as I start a new trend next month: bitching about Mark Millar! What,
Johnston's started without me? Damn him!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Some more crap I've read recently

SLEEPER vol 2 #4&5 - more none-more-black supernoir stylings from the Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips team. Pure genius, and if it really is ending with this season, let Brubaker spin this off into a new WILDCATS series, focusing on the cold war between Lynch and Tao - which solves Wildstorm's ongoing problems about what to do with their erstwhile flagship title.

The first few issues of BOOKS OF MAGIC: LIFE DURING WARTIME have done very little for me, so I'm dropping it. Sure, Quitely's covers are gorgeous, and the interiors are pretty groovy too, but the story is very old-school Vertigo (that is to say, in the thrall of Neil Gaiman), with a big scoop of extra Phillip Pullman thrown in. I tried, but it's just not my bag.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #5&6 - I've been a sucker for The Whedon in the past, so I keep buying this against my better judgment (the comics biz would be a much healthier place if we all decided to give up X-Men, cold turkey). Damn, nothing much happens, but he just keeps hitting the character notes so on-the-nose that you can't help but get a little nostalgic. "Oh look, an allusion to the fastball special! Man, that reminds me of when I was eleven, this comic was still fresh, and I genuinely loved these wacky mutants. Damn you Claremont! Damn you Harras!"

IDENTITY CRISIS #5 - I wanted to dislike this story after the first issue, as it was just so friggin' manipulative. But its also a well-crafted mystery (and how often do you see those in any media these days?), making you keep reading it, even when you resent the sadistic world o' pain Brad Meltzer is inflicting on these beloved old characters (and if you loved Keith Giffen's Justice League, Sue Dibney was pretty close to your heart).

SHE-HULK #8 - being a sucker for comics about comics, I LOVE this series. Can't recommend it highly enough. If you're unsure whether you could ever love a comic called SHE-HULK, 'cus yer a big macho lad who'd never buy a comic with a female protagonist, let alone one with a dodgy spin-off history, go out and buy Dan Slott's ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL collection. Inwardly digest, then start pre-ordering SHE-HULK. As someone who feels a little grubby enjoying any Marvel comic these days, I give this a whole-hearted two-thumbs-up. Shit covers, though.

I've written about the Brian Azzarello/Jim Lee SUPERMAN experiment before, and I've just read # 209 & 210. In these issues, Lee gets to draw some of the stuff he's more familiar with, and meanwhile I'm even less sure of what the big picture really is. Is the priest with cancer about to be revealed as the big bad behind the disappearances? Wacky. Its like a Harold Pinter play adapted into film by Michael Bay.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I'm a sucker for hype...

so I'll have to see if I can rope my niece (well, that's what kids are for: providing alibis when you want to go see a cartoon at the cinema) into going to see THE INCREDIBLES. It looks... um, brilliant (god, that was so hard, avoiding the bleedin' obvious pun).

Also, the hype for GTA: San Andreas has caused me to finally get round to starting GTA: Vice City. And, I'm hooked - it's like I have a double life, one where I'm a mild mannered librarian, and another where I'm a homicidal maniac called Tommy who sounds like Ray Liotta. But, in my dreams, I can't tell which is the real me! Can you see the real me, doctor?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Still in love with beer

Put down that wine glass, young sir. You may think you've fallen out of love with beer: all your new friends think it's a bit gauche, and as you aspire upwards on the social ladder, shotgunning a can of cheap lager seems so, I dunno, nineteen eighty eight.

Go here.

Back in love with the amber nectar, aintcha son? Now I'm no' sayin' I'm gullible, but it took me a little bit longer than it should have to figure out if it was a webcam or just a clever bit of AI.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Hardly amazing Pool revelation

Nineball really is vastly superior to eightball, isn't it? Skill, danger, sudden death. Makes other variations just seem so boring.

Spread the word.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

In your face!

Ireland 17, South Africa 12!! In your face, you smug, arrogant racists!! Yeesss!! Hope the English beat you next week, too!

***UPDATED 20th November 2004*** Yesss!! Once more, in yer bleedin' face, you over-rated fuckpots!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Just read TOM STRONG #29

... which reminds me of my opinion that the great Duncan Fegredo is, after Brendan McCarthy, the most under-rated artist in the comics industry.

The man is a bloody national treasure. From now on, he's Sir Duncan Fegredo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Careful with that box, Eugene

Just got a huge box of comics from my pusher, Ivor, and delved right in. As usual with the pre-ordering system, there's always a certain amount of buyer's remorse (as much as I love Ashley Wood's art, IDW's METAL GEAR SOLID comic proved to be a bit of a stinker). However, there's also a revelation or two within each box, and this month, that revelation was JLA CLASSIFIED #1 by Grant Morrison and Ed McGuinness
Mmm... Guinness. Whoops, lost my train of thought, there.

I'll start by pleading ignorance of McGuinness's previous work, but with a name like that, he's obviously got some Irish in him, which is always a good thing. Stylistically, he's of the post-Weiringo school of cartooning, and he puts in a slick and confident job here, but then I would even have bought this if it had been drawn by an infact with a muddy stick due to the writing of Grant Morrison.

Lovers of THE INVISIBLES make all kinds of high falutin' claims for Morrison, but the reason I love this book is for the same reason that MARVEL BOY #3 is one of my all-time favourite single issue comics - the man is the natural heir of Jack Kirby when it comes to superhero comics. A strange comparison, bearing in mind that Kirby was an artist and Morrison is a writer (though both have also done both jobs, with mixed results). But, like Kirby, Morrison throws down ideas and concepts onto the comics page at an amazing (and totally instinctual) rate. Reading this comic, there seems to be an outrageous new concept, or a new character, on every page. Flick it open at random: a mobile city of superhumans. A metallic Sumo that speaks only in mathematical equations and haiku. "The infant universe of Qwewq". The quantum keyboard that allows it user to rewrite reality like a word processor (it wouldn't be a Grant Morrison comic without throwing in a little meta-fiction now, would it?).
Like Kirby, Morrison has little truck with realism in dialogue: exchanges are clipped, the words picked often as much for effect than for utility ("I'm opening the sci-fi closet, Alfred" anyone?). But when neccessary, he has a fine ear, too - the affectionate antagonism between Knight and Jack O'Lantern is maybe the best example of the subtext-heavy banter between English and Irish characters I've ever read in comics.

I read this, and wish Morrison had the time or the inclination to follow up the ideas he creates and discards just as fast: that The International Ultramarine Corps got their own book by this creative team; that Morrison was writing THE FLASH again just to see more of his Gorilla Grod; or that (contrary to the received wisdom in comics fandom that Morrison was born to write Superman) Morrison would take over the writing of Batman, too, as his take on the Dark Knight always seems so note-perfect, a cross between James Bond and Machiavelli. Sarcastic, self-aware, manipulative but always charming enough to get away with it.

Great stuff - this has got me all enthused about Morrison's ambitious new superhero project SEVEN SOLDIERS, due to start next year. Now, I've got to go read some more of these comics, including another Morrison project, issue 2 of the heartbreaking instant classic WE3. Now that's a comic that deserves to be published in a Tintin-sized album, and distributed throughout schools and libraries alongside books such as Raymond Briggs' WHEN THE WIND BLOWS. Yes, its that good.
And I realise I'm saying this when its not even finished yet.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Now, that's what I call fantasy casting

A while a go there was a rumour going round that Jack Black was circling the drain to be cast as GREEN LANTERN. This caused much consternation in geek ranks. They love JB, but they hate the idea of a Green Lantern movie used as a vehicle for his patented brand of lunacy. Fair enough. Stunt casting has been the downfall of many comics-to-movies transitions.
Now I hear another casting rumour for this movie, which is so perfect it'll definitely never happen: FARSCAPE's Ben Browder. Browder as a heroic test pilot who discovers a strange alien artifact that pitches him suddenly into a mind-spinning, universe-spanning cosmic police force? That's practically typecasting. Browder is so effortlessly charming and charismatic that one senses, like when watching Clooney in ER, that he's someday bound for big-screen Hollywood leading man status. Or else stuck in bad TV hell with Nathan Fillion. Damn, but FARSCAPE was good. I didn't watch it for nearly all of the first two seasons due to my illogical prejudice against Muppets, but then I saw just a couple of minutes of the episode "Liars, Guns and Money" and I was hooked: great cast, cracking writing, cinematic ambitions. Fizzled out a bit by the end, though, but then, all TV shows do.

And Claudia Black looked great in leather. Sweet Jesus.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Thank you. Jesus...

..for another mercy parcel from Amazon. This time, I received the first volume of ibooks' reprints of the classic MISTER X, the latest volume of DC's STARMAN, Grand Guignol, and the hardback BIRTH OF A NATION by a couple of American media-type-guys whose names mean next to nothing over here in the UK, Aaron McGruder and Reggie Hudlin, but drawn by the godlike Kyle Baker. Baker is a one man MAD magazine - and while previously he's been heavily influenced by the great Jack Davis, these days he can also do a mean Sergio Aragones impersonation. Haven't gotten round to reading this yet, but its a great looking book.

The Mister X collection features just about the only Los Bros Hernandez work I hadn't actually read at the time it was published - I remember seeing adverts for the collections published by Vortex (who also published another previous favourite of mine, YUMMY FUR by Chester Brown, and Brendan McCarthy's PARADAX). Didn't get it for one reason or another - probably just financial(hell, I was just a teenager at the time). A lot of classic creator-owned works are coming back on the market now, as publishing rights revert back to the artists. Ah. all those classic mid-eighties imprints that caused a revolution, but crashed and burned due to over-expansion as the market unexpectedly contracted - Pacific, Eclipse, First, Epic (I'm generalising horribly here, but that did in at least two of that four). Its good to see all that classic work back again - I'll be buying the AMERICAN FLAGG! hardcover, for certain. If the rights revert to the author, and the author sets up a deal with a print-on-demand company, destiny is pretty much back in the hands of the artist!

And I'm never as at my happiest than when I'm reading some James Robinson STARMAN. It's pure comicbook comfort food, superhero cottage pie. God, it was good, and the Grand Guignol arc was the emotional climax of the series (which more than most that make the claim), one big 80-issue graphic novel. A big family epic, like D H Lawrence with cosmic rods. I got tired waiting for DC to collate STARMAN faster a couple of years ago, and bought much of the remainder of the series as back issues, but bought this TPB to plug a few holes anyway. Re-read it hungrily, when I should have been getting some damned sleep. Realised recently just how influencial Robinson's tone has been amongst other DC writers of late, specifically Geoff Johns and Brad Melzer. It's almost the house style over there now. Its a shame Robinson wasn't appreciated more before he decided to try and make it as a screenwriter. I for one hope he makes it back to working in comics again someday soon. The art is (except for a few pages by Robinson's THE GOLDEN AGE pardner Paul Smith) by the massively under-rated Peter Snejberg, whose work always struck me as a cross between Steve Ditko and David Lloyd. Great stuff, but always "just not Tony Harris" in the eyes of many STARMAN fans.

Now, if only Robinson and Harris would make good on their promise for a new STARMAN OGN (thats Original Graphic Novel, for anyone outside the comic geek loop) or two. No hurry, James - Tony Harris has a fifty issue run of EX MACHINA to be getting on with in the meanwhile.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

California, knows how to party

God, I felt embarrassed for Seth Cohen tonight, while watching the consistently entertaining THE O.C. on E4 (and like most who love this show, I must admit to being older than its actual target audience). Poor guy. Meeting his girlfriend's father for the first time, and babbling about comics.

However, most lovers of the show were probably cringing due to Cohen exposing himself as the lowest kind of geek to Summer's shallow cosmetic surgeon father.
Not me. I was cringing at the overblown credit Cohen (and by extension, the show's production staff) was giving Brian Bendis. "Lyrical, like Alan Moore"? Yeah right. Not even on his best day, such as the last couple of arcs of POWERS, before the recent relaunch. Bendis is good, but when has he ever even striven for lyricism? His mate David Mack goes for lyrical - Bendis does realism, prosaic not poetic.

Those O.C staffers' brown-nosing has paid off, I see - one of the producers is now writing a series called Young Avengers for Marvel.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Fat Guys In Rock

The one good thing about Nu-Metal is that it pushed the boundaries of acceptable body image in rock music. Either that, or it is now statistically impossible to find enough guys to form a band in America without at least one being obese. Unfortunately, most of these fat lads are saddled with glum old shouty metal.

For a liberating blast of what fat lads in rock should really be aspiring too, check out the website of my current fave Scando-retro rockers. I'm not pretending to be ahead of any curve here, I've loved these guys for only a couple of years now, but they do have a great website full of streaming tracks and videos, if your connection can handle it.

Friday, November 05, 2004

My new favourite TV show... VH1's BANDS REUNITED. I've avoided watching this show for its first two series, largely because I didn't actually like any of the bands involved, either at the time or retrospectively. And, of course, due to my despising of VH1 in general. But last night I found myself watching a triple bill on Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC, and Haircut 100, and enjoying each tremendously, all individual little psychodramas about how relationships between old friends can deteriorate. The three bands all formed and split in relatively similar fashions (core membership of old friends graft on new members to form definitive line-up, release classic debut album, achieve success, crack up due to stresses from that success). The programme doesn't dig up the really dark stuff (but, hey! That's what I buy MOJO for), and instead tries to jolly everybody involved along to a reunion/reformation.

Happy days. Remind me to tell you how VH1's gawdawful flagship show, BEHIND THE MUSIC, led to me having a hilarious "conversation" with Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliot in a Dublin pub after a Cheap Trick (best live band ever!) gig.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Now this is really starting... get on my tits. I came here to post some wacky, but ultra-relevant pop culture commentary, but blogger was again on a go-slow! Still bitching about Bush, eh? Get over it! Some of us need the bandwidth!

Plus, you know what? I totally forgot what I was going to write about, goddammit! I need to start taking notes when inspiration hits me!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Big BLOGGER slowdown

Went to diddle about with my blog and noticed the blogger website had slowed to a crawl.
I'm presuming this is due to all the saps on the planet blogging their (special, so special) reactions to Kerry conceding to Bush. Fuckers - I lost a crapload of stuff I was trying to upload.

Bush may be a repellent little shit, but its worth having him back in power just to see how artists like Michael Moore and Steve Earle will react. Both dedicated their last works to the notion of regime change. The regime survived, so what next? Exasperation? Resignation? Desperation? Insurrection? Start by living your life by a simple motto - What would Bill Hicks do?

Besides, I can't actually remember Richard Nixon, so I'm trying to sit back and enjoy a presidency history will look back on in dumbfounded amazement, from the relevant safety of Northern Ireland (but really, who can foretell where Bush'll bomb next? We could make it to The Axis Of Evil yet).

Frankly, I'm amazed at the amount of coverage this election has gotten here in the UK. It seems we're getting more and more news from the USA on our screens (since 9/11, really), and I for one can't fathom it. If it doesn't affect me, and I can't affect it, why should I give a feck about it? ( see what I did there? BOOOM-BOOOM!!). I blame Murdoch and his ilk, trying to make us nice, unthinking global citizens. Modern day serfs, for a new Feudal era. Dumb, superstitious, fearful of an invisible, unknowable and completely fictional enemy. Compliant due to that fear. In a perpetual state of religious war - 'cus war is money. War sells papers. War sells arms. Read the same dumbed-down tabloids. Watch the same dumbed-down news. Eat the same dumbed-down food. Drink the same over-packaged coffee. Really, it's enough to make you a francophile.

What always amazes me when I watch American current affairs is how much respect the US media gives their political classes - our newsmen essentially despise ours, while theirs mollycoddle them. I watch CNN and think - imagine these cunts being interviewed by Jon Snow or Jeremy Paxman. Imagine the presidential debates being chaired by John Humphreys.

Similarly, American satire seems toothless compared to ours. I remember P.J. O'Rourke on HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU a couple of years back, and he was like a throwback to the Macmillan era. He seemed horribly out of his depth. His one lame gag? "Isn't Bill Clinton fat", which isn't neccessarily even very accurate, compared to a lot of his countrymen. The only American satire that has played successfully over here of late is THE SIMPSONS, and it left it far too late to go after Bush II.
Compare Chevvy Chase's Gerald Ford or Will Ferrell's inept-but-cuddly Dubya impression to the bilious SPITTING IMAGE Thatcher or even Rory Bremner's Tony Blair.

Americans - you want rid of Bush? Can't understand how his lying, corrupt regime continues to survive? Then go for the throat. Don't hold back due to some notion of decorum, or respect for the institution. Make him synonymous with the stupid, brutal things his government have done. Failing that, try shooting at him. After all, he did just re-legalise owning machine guns, didn't he? Kewl!
Sic semper tyrannus!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Went back to work today...

...and after Saturday and Monday off, I went back to work this morning to find photographs of myself plastered all over the damn place. Bastards.

Last Friday was The Halloween Spooktacular (story-telling sessions, art classes, mime artists, stilt walkers, the whole nine yards), and we all had to dress up for the occasion. I was The Undertaker, in a formal suit, black tie, stovepipe hat and umbrella. And yes, I must admit, I was one scary lookin' fucker.

The pictures will be in all the local papers later this week. Oh great. I get the feeling I won't be able to show my face in the pub for a very long time.