Monday, December 27, 2004

Apocalypse, now.

Maybe its just one of those things, but I hate it when I've missed the news for a couple of days, finally manage to catch it, and half the world has been devastated while I've been off the ball. This is enough to convince me that I must never miss a news broadcast again. It just causes terrible things to happen, dammit. I bet if I went on holiday for a couple of weeks, there'd be a thermonuclear war. It'd be like LORD OF THE FLIES, or somethin'.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

No shit, Sherlock

Just watched an excellent BBC production, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE SILK STOCKING. It featured a great original script by Allan Cubitt (who adapted HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES a year or so ago, where the great Ian "cornered the market in John Lennon biographies" Hart first appeared as John Watson). It fused modern, post Thomas Harris, crime fiction psychology with old fashioned Conan Doyle style plot twists. But mainly I was impressed by Rupert Everett's Holmes. He's just gone into my top ten screen Holmeses with a bullet.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Now, the universe is just starting to take the piss

More stuff has arrived, this time from the comic shop. Christ on a bike. I've really got to cool off with the impulse purchases, too.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Stuff starting to arrive now...

...and I'm starting to feel guilty that I'll not have time to read it before the new year. For once in my life, my social calendar is biting into my lying around reading time, dagnabit! I don't even have time for quick first impressions! Damn my friends! Damn my hectic holiday overtime regime!

(So, in the style of THE FAST SHOW's Jessie) next year, I will be reading:
THE PUNISHER: KITCHEN IRISH by the great Garth Ennis.
LOCAS by Jaime Hernandez.
SHE HULK: SINGLE GREEN FEMALE by Dan Slott and Juan Bobillo.
SGT ROCK: BETWEEN HELL & A HARD PLACE by Joe Kubert and Brian Azzarello.
THE LOSERS: DOUBLE DOWN by Andy Diggle and Jock.

(Mini-reviews added 29th/12/2004)
Well, the latest Ennis Punisher proves yet again that he's the only writer who's ever written about the Irish Troubles in comics with any subtlety. He's also singularly capable of making violence seem as squalid and horrific as it actually really is, rather that exciting, or glamourous. All good. The art, however, is cat melodian, as we say in Ulster.

Jaime Hernandez' work is the best stuff to stick in the hands of non-comicbook fans to make them comicbook fans. If you gave someone interested to know more about comics WATCHMEN or even THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, they'd probably be baffled. But give 'em LOVE AND ROCKETS and they'd get it immediately. I bought this despite the fact I'd read nearly all of it before, just to have it all in one place. Damn big book though - unwieldy to the point of unreadable.

Dan Slott's SHE-HULK is something of a guilty pleasure, but it handles everything, including its own inate ridiculousness, with such a sure-handed light touch that I can't help but love it. It's also a great example of how the artist on a comic book is essentially the director. When Juan Bobillo is the artist, the book just seems that much smarter than when it's drawn by Paul Pelletier. The script shines through, still, but the gags seem just a little less deft, coarser.

Have been leaving SGT. ROCK to a time when I can savour it, but the art looks great. Joe Kubert's work doesn't get any worse with age, though, it's magnificent. His line has reached a sort of minimalist sophistication that reminds me of Jordi Bernet. His water-colours and hand lettering also adds to the project's European flavour.

Don't really know how I feel about Diggle/Jock's second LOSERS collection. I enjoy it while I'm reading it, but afterwards kinda forget all about it. In that respect, its sorta like a Jerry Bruckheimer produced film, only with more anti-corporate, anti-CIA gibes. Kinda like a Michael Moore directed film. Or maybe it's "Steven Soderbergh's The A-Team". Now what a movie that'd be. I love it when a plan comes together.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Loads of guff due soon from Amazon. They must be rushing to get as much stuff out before Xmas, because I've had a few emails in the last couple of days telling me that various old orders pending have been processed/dispatched/canceled. Bless their cotton socks.

Would almost feel guilty about all this stuff being for myself, and not presents, except for the fact that I tell everyone not to buy me books, DVDs, CDs, etc, as I tend to already have ordered everything I want on pre-release from the interweb. Just get me socks, and I'll be happy enough.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Remember kids - Don't Drink And Blog

I woke up today with the awful realisation that I had came back from my works "do" last night, and blogged something while completely hammered.

I went online, and was contemplating deleting it. It makes absolutely no sense. I've no idea what I was thinking or saying. I have, however, decided to leave this up as a lesson to you all.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Am I rough enough, am I rich enough, I'm not too blind, to see

Everyone should go listen to "Some Girls" by The Rolling Stones. Rest of message deleted in the name of diplomacy. Hurrah!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Caffeine, indigestion and Bill Willingham's FABLES

Just got MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS by Bill Willingham and the criminally under-rated Mark Buckingham. It was feckin' fantastic. Another reminder of why I've stopped waiting for various VERTIGO titles to reach bi-annual (or worse) TPB publication. The fact is, 100 BULLETS, HUMAN TARGET, FABLES, THE LOSERS and Y THE LAST MAN are all too good as monthlies to wait for collection.

So, when I hear various nostalgic twats writing off VERTIGO as a ghetto, I tend to think "fuckin' idiots - put some thought into your damn craft".
The big bollox. Really, what would you rather have - a dozen Marvel titles giving you washed-out versions of other stuff you've read before (taking a six issue arc to retell a story that Stan and Jack told in an eight pager in the back of TALES TO ASTONISH or some such), or a few good folks pushing the boundaries.

Oh shit. I like Ed Brubaker and Mark Millar as much as the next guy, but do yerself a favour - buy Y by Brian Vaughan rather than CAPTAIN AMERICA. Buy an issue of LOSERS by Andy Diggle instead of WOLVERINE. Go on. You won't regret it. Then ween yourself off spandex. You'll never look back.

"I'm buying sixteen MARVEL titles in January". Yeah, right - catch a grip, fanboy.

(Preachy mode on) If there's a ghetto that needs to be escaped in comics, it's superheroes. They have a place n'all, but look at the comics in France, look at Japan: these countries have a huge variety of mainstream entertainment comicbooks, and they sell not in their thousands, not in their hundreds of thousands, but in their millions. All kinds of genres, all kinds of target ages. Meanwhile in the anglophone world, its just superhero comics aimed at forty year old guys who've been reading superhero comics since they were five, and can't bring themselves to let go. A Vertigo comic may not sell more than 20-25 thousand copies a month, compared to, say, ASTONISHING X-MEN selling 200 thousand. But damned if anyone who hasn't been reading X-MEN comics for the last twenty years has a clue what's actually going on in that book. Stick that in the hands of your average guy in the street, and he'll be totally bemused. Maybe he's seen the two movies. These guys in the comic don't look familiar to him. He doesn't have a clue what the hell they're gibbering about. Hand the same dude FIRST SHOT, LAST CALL and he's in familiar territory. He's seen movies like this, he's seen TV shows like this. The characters sound like they listen to the same music as he does. He's hooked. He heads down to Waterstone's and orders the next one. Bada-bing.
(preachy mode: off)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Postie resignation imminent, naked fat guy blamed

My delightful little blonde postie got a real eyeful of my pulsating nekkid flesh as I picked up the post this morning. She was knockin' me up at all hours with another little present from Mr Amazon, this time, the Vertigo graphic novel LOVECRAFT, and the second volume of DC's JIMMY OLSEN BY JACK KIRBY reprints. I love a girl in uniform.

Any way, LOVECRAFT, by the screenwriter Hans Rodionoff and the fine Argentinian artist Enrique Breccia is top notch, the best attempt I've ever seen in any visual medium to replicate the mood of H.P. Lovecraft (though Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Gordon Rennie, and Mike Mignola have all done pretty good stabs at it, too).

Kirby's run on JIMMY OLSEN is the red headed step child of his Fourth World saga (quite literally in this case, BOOM BOOM!!), is (of course) a heartbreaking work of towering genius, and raises at least one question: how come this has been reprinted in colour, while NEW GODS, MR MIRACLE and FOREVER PEOPLE are languishing in black and white? Riddle me THAT, Mr. Robert Greenberger.
Also, if you wanted blinding literal demonstration of my earlier theories on the demerits of Vince Colletta versus the merits of Mike Royer, open this book at the spread between pages 102 and 103. On your left, the last page of issue 145, inked by Colletta; on your right, the first page of 146, inked by Royer. No contest.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

So not right

Never wanted to be one of those bloggers who just links to other stuff on the web, but check out this guy. One sick, twisted genius.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Worra load of shite

Just watched Ang Lee's HULK premiering on Sky Movies. Craptastic.

Proved my old point perfectly that, when making these types of movies, stay faithful to the original source material. That way, the fanbase stays happy. They generate positive buzz about the project, then wham! - it takes off at the box-office. This follows the other model: film-maker presumes he knows best as he works in the more successful media. Imposes own "vision" on project. Movie dies on its ass.

My main complaint with the way Lee dicks around with Banner's origin is how becoming the Hulk is something that just happens to the poor sod. In the original, it was pro-active: he heroically saves that kid on the test site, despite the knowledge he's going to die trying. This version completely leaves out the notion of self-sacrifice so intrinsic to the original myth. Instead, it becomes more like JEKYLL AND HYDE with oedipal overtones. Bollocks to that.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Thank God that's out of the way

Bought LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING EXTENDED CUT today. Thank god - that means I'll never have to buy any more LOTR crap, ever again.

Isn't it funny how I hated the books, found them practically unreadable, but liked the films? Or is that normal?

Anyhow, watched 'em with a few cans of Murphys stout. Great combo. By the end I was an emotional wreck. Man, I loved those little furry dudes! Hic!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The transistion continues

The hand-over from being a Red Hot Comics customer to being an Ace Comics customer gathers pace. I'm still a little confused by the process, but less disheartened. Biff and his crew seem like an efficient and capable bunch, even if their taste in music sucketh the big one.

Today I received a big box in the post, imagine my disappointment when it included only one new comic, THE ULTIMATES 2 #1, and about half a ton of PREVIEWS. Couldn't be arsed "Blogging the previews" (stick that into Google and about half a dozen fanboys are at it).

Thoughts about the latest Millar/Hitch meisterwerk? Well, my current downer on New Marvel means I want to dislike it, and I certainly resent the non-ironic machismo on display, but there's certainly enough good stuff to keep me returning. The Pym/Banner scene. The Thor/Volstagg lunch. The continuing greatness of Hitch The Bitch. Millar's dialogue zings along nicely. The fact that here's a Captain America who actually seems like a decent metaphor for the real America, rather than for The American Dream. As usual though, its another Marvel Comic where I think as soon as I've read it, damn, should have waited for the trade (or in this case, hardback). When will I learn?

Dimebag R.I.P.

That said, he died as he lived: stupidly. Really stupidly. Gotta respect that.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sweet baby Jesus

The close personal friend who sent me this link shall remain nameless, but thank you so much.

Sweet Jesus, look at the arse on that!

It really is quite moving to find an artist so dedicated to his subject.

And, on a similar theme, if yer bandwidth can handle it, try this.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Happy birthday to me

29 again! What is that, four years in a row?

Same birthday as Tom Waits, dontchaknow.

Anyway - now ya know, it's the seventh of December: there'll be no excuses for not getting me a present next year.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

My compliments to the chef

Dance, fat boy, dance!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

I Jack Kirby (or, Now THIS is a better looking book)

Just got the MARVEL VISIONARIES: JACK KIRBY hardback from Amazon, bless 'em. Now, take notice, assholes at Simon & Schuster, this is a great looking book design (by some guy called Patrick McGrath, not a little in thrall to the similar book designs of Chip Kidd and especially Arlen Schumer).

Anyway, as well as anthologizing the work for Marvel of the only man I call The King about as well as you can, it showcases just how damn long his career at the top was. Any time I try and describe my admiration for the man to non-comics fans, I have an analogy based on popular music to describe the length and variety of his career. Imagine if Glenn Miller had re-emerged after the war to become Frank Sinatra, only to change into Elvis Presley, then form The Beatles, then to split and form Led Zeppellin. That just about covers it.

The book also showcases how ill or well-served he was by various inkers over his career. Some absolute stinkers at times. Who was this "Geo. Bell" who inked Sgt. Fury #6? It was George Roussos, doing a characteristically fast job, doubtless to meet an impending deadline. Obviously done with a pen, not a brush, no wonder he wanted a pseudonym.

No such anonymity for the brazen Vince Colletta. The guy absolutely blighted Kirby's run on The Mighty Thor. This body of work is pretty much the equal of Kirby's contemperaneous run on Fantastic Four, but is often overlooked. It hasn't even been properly reprinted yet, god-dammit! And why? Friggin' Colletta! Imagine if the whole run had been inked by Bill Everett, like those last few issues. Man, they looked great.

I already knew I loved the inks of Joltin' Joe Sinnott and Mike Royer over The King's pencils, but I'll also add Chic Stone to that list of great Kirby embellishers - the guy adds a classic blockiness that seems almost the definition of what became the Marvel "house style". It's the style Steve Rude or Mike Allred emulate whenever they draw the Marvel characters for the licensing department, for mugs or bedspreads, that kind of thing.

And then, in 1970 when Kirby goes over to DC and does the best work of his life, who inks those first half-dozen or so issues of every Fourth World book? That's right. F*ckin' Colletta!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Jesus, what a fugly cover...

.. on Bob Dylan's first volume of autobiography, CHRONICLES. It looks like a dodgy detective novel published by a vanity press. The typography is horrid. But man, can the guy write a bit.

Ordered this from work, hence the only getting it now, but I'm getting through it at a fair old pace. It sames strange that the authorial voice should seem so familiar, but that's because it's unmistakeably Dylan. Even the way the narrative skips back and forth in time and space reminds me of his music (specifically the lyric TANGLED UP IN BLUE, really). I'm not the biggest fan of the guy, I used to smirk whenever academics would mention him in lists of their favourite poets, but I'm really impressed by the prose writing. Crisp, evocative, and classically American. Salinger-esque, even, given much of the subject matter.

And also the best book about musicians I've read since McDonagh's SHAKEY.
Flakey bunch o' bastards.