Friday, January 28, 2005

A reader writes...

Got an email from one of my loyal readers the other day. Now, she reckons my recent comments on Joss Whedon's recent ASTONISHING X-MEN weren't entirely sincere. In fact, her words were "dripping with sarcasm".

Oh for fucks sake, deary. What do you want from me? Honesty? OKAY, IT'S A LOAD OF WAFER THIN, PISS WEAK, MONKEY'S TICKET! MORE HAPPENED IN SEVEN PANELS OF WATCHMEN THAN IN SEVEN ISSUES OF THIS CRAP! IT'S CONTENT TO JUST REMIND YOU OF WHAT YOU LOVED ABOUT UNCANNY X-MEN AS A KID, AND THEN RIDES HOME ON A WARM FUZZY WAVE OF SENTIMENTALITY!  If Morrison's NEW X-MEN was a hilarious big beat remix of Claremont's great years, Whedon's AXM is a cloying Daniel O'Donnell cover version. Its a waste of a good writer who's just phoning it in, and a fuckin' brilliant artist who should be finishing fuckin' PLANETARY.

Fuckin' cants. Must go for a slash.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

fuck you, you fucken Blog! where's my fucken tea!

Feel like I've been neglecting the ol' blog recently. That's because I have. My blog is a beaten wife of a blog. Fuckin' bitch.

One of the many reasons I started the blog was to find something that could occupy my internet-time and NOT cost me money. Unlike, say, Amazon, eBay and internet hookers. To that same end, I've decided to flog off my attic full of crap on eBay, to reverse the trend. No one told me it would be such hard work. Scanning fuckin' covers. Writing fuckin' blurbs. Waiting for fuckin' upload. Fuckin' put in just about a twelve hour day, man, just to get the fuckin' stuff ready for auction.

Anyway, just in case anyone's kept reading so far just because of the extravagant cursin', here's the link: now knock yerself out buying my crap.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Local Postie damages back, more at six

Got a few comics in the mail today, but most of them were new issues of series I've already commented on fairly recently, so not much point repeating myself.
However, there's a few I've got an opinion on, so bear with me.

I got two of the current blush of WHAT IFs from Marvel, WHAT IF KAREN PAGE HAD LIVED and WHAT IF JESSICA JONES HAD JOINED THE AVENGERS.Both were crap. Absolute stinkers. And they could have been so good: if there's any work of Bendis's at Marvel I've been enjoying, it's been ALIAS/THE PULSE (well, not so much THE PULSE, its been pretty weak so far, and running late, too) and DAREDEVIL. Both suffer from the same main flaw: they spend so long recounting what actually happened in the original comic, that they leave themselves no room to spin an adequate alternate reality. The alternatives in both cases are little more than rushed, ill-considered short stories. At least the Jessica Jones tale is something of a love letter to his own character. The Karen Page issue is only redeemed by Lark's sterling work as artist. When Bendis and Alex Maleev finally make good on their promise to quit DAREDEVIL, I can think of no better team to replace them than Michael Lark and Ed Brubaker. Other than that, file the return of WHAT IF under B for bad idea. Another New Marvel folly, standing testament to the love affair between editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and favourite son Brian Michael Bendis.

Also got the last two issues of the current arc of 100 BULLETS, "Wylie Runs The Voodoo Down". Best arc in ages (thought this series had been pretty much idling for a while until the great issue 50), and for a change, managed to be kinda heartwarming, as some seemingly inevitable tragedy and carnage was averted for a change (bit of a change of pace for this series, all in). Best not to get too attached to the characters in this series, though. They're all doomed, one way or another.

God help me, I can't remember if I've ever written about Joss Whedon's run on ASTONISHING X-MEN before. Damn my deteriorating memory. Nor could I be bothered browsing my own blog to check. I may have given off about the increasingly ridiculous Quesada dubbing it the "WATCHMEN of X-Men comics" (it isn't: Grant Morrison's run was). Anyway, I wanted to go on record and say I honestly liked issue 7 a helluva lot. Sure, it only took about thirty seconds to read, but it was a truly great thirty seconds. I loved the sequence fighting the really big monster, where we're privy to everyone's deep, brooding,thoughts, then have the rug swept away from us by the depth of Wolverine's ("I really like beer"). I loved Ben Grimm's wit and wisdom ("WE do big monsters! Big monsters in Manhattan, that's our signature piece!"). The way Emma Frost's sexually charged vocabulary kept grossing out Kitty Pryde. I loved the fact that Marvel's lettering has returned to all upper case. I love the way John Cassaday draws Wolverine to look like an angry constipated hobbit a in a ridiculous bondage suit, and The Thing to look like a hastily assembled pile of bricks, rather than a man covered in lumpy poo, like the latex suit in the upcoming movie of The Fantastic Four. And christ, isn't it ironic for hard-done-by PLANETARY readers that Warren Ellis is writing ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR, and Cassaday is drawing the FF guesting in his Marvel comic?

That reminds me. Must go for something to eat.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Great news Stan, but...

Congratulations to Stan Lee for his recent victory in court. I'm sure Marvel's legal team will tie it up in appeals for as long as they can. Apparently, Marvel's stock price took quite a bath after this was announced.

That said, why does Stan get to take home ten per cent of the profits, and not the other writers and artists involved in the creation of the characters featured in Marvel's recent run of successful page-to-screen adaptations? Though Stan was management at Marvel whenever these characters were created, and headed up Marvel's Hollywood dividion for years before Ari Avad, surely his actual writing was done under the same work-for-hire contracts as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Johnny Romita (both Senior and Junior, come to think of it), Wally Wood, Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, Herb Trimpe, Frank Miller, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Ann Nocenti, Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon... all of whom created or co-created characters featured in Marvel Production films. And thats just a list taken literally from the top of my head, without too much consideration.

My head is starting to hurt thinking of all the writers and artists stiffed.
Stan Lee has always been good at taking more credit than he's really been due at Marvel. How about everyone getting a slice of the pie?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I love British TV!

Just caught five minutes of dismal "cosy" (read: mogadon) ITV drama DISTANT SHORES. And this is why I love British TV: Doctor Who is the local doctor; Roj Blake is the vicar; and Miss Moneypenny is the doctor's wife. Weeiird.

Now, if only I was stoned, that would make great TV!
Someone, somewhere, has had the acid flashback of a lifetime.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Saw a film, loved it, wrote about it in my blog...

The movies you love most are really the ones you see with no expectations, but then proceed to blow you away. In the past, for me, that was true of John Dahl's THE LAST SEDUCTION, the Wachowski Bros' THE MATRIX, and now, since tonight, Eli Roth's CABIN FEVER.

Just saw it on Sky Movies, and it rocked my world! The guy is one twisted melon farmer! It lurched from mood to mood, tone to tone in such a deranged manner that I couldn't help but love it. It reminded me simultaneously of Sam Raimi, David Lynch, Terrence Malick, and Mel Brooks.

Which is quite a feat when you think about it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Oh no! I haven't written about comics for a while...

...and I've forgotten how to!

How about...
Just got volume three and four of Dark Horse's THE CHRONICLES OF CONAN reprints, which feature the (presumably last reprintable) work of Barry Windsor Smith on the character.

Classic for good reason, in volume three we can see Smith develop from a post-Kirby style, to one as much influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as any comicbook artist. That said, the reason Smith had to inevitably move on is also painfully clear, as the consistency of his work skydives, as he strives to make his deadlines. As his pencils got later and later, Marvel took awful liberties, shooting from his pencils, or having multiple inkers hacking it out as quickly as possible.
The two issues drawn by Gil Kane in volume three are also great, reminding me of why I held him in such high regard as a kid. When inked by Ralph Reese, the detail in the work is positively Bollandesque, a comparison I'd never have made before.

Just as volume three sandwiches the two Kane issues between Smith's initial farewell to the character and his first reprise, volume four sandwiches John Buscema's debut on the character he would continue to work on for the guts of twenty years (and clearly burnout on), between Smith's last issues and Red Nails, from the magazine SAVAGE TALES. This work proved to be Smith's coda to his earlier work, and simultaneously his definitive take on the barbarian. My only complaint can be that it's a shame to see the work republished on such a small scale, as Marvel's magazines had different dimensions to the standard comicbook page.
Though Buscema's work was bound to look weaker beside such greatness, its powerful stuff too, the work of a man throwing off the shackles of the superhero genre he never really enjoyed. Ironic, as Buscema was the first choice for the Conan job, but Smith was the cheaper option, when Marvel needed to save money to pay for the license from Howard's estate.

These two volumes also feature some great guest stars: with Smith essaying Michael Moorcock's Elric in vol.3, and Red Sonja in vol.4. Smith gets Elric horribly wrong, basing him on the godawful American paperback covers (by Jack Gaughan) which Moorcock famously hated, with a peculiar pointy hat; and his Red Sonja isn't the chainmail bikini clad icon we all know and love from her own series (definitively redesigned/drawn by Frank Thorne), instead wearing a chainmail shirt and groovy Kylie Minogue-lookin' hot pants ensemble, with a formidable she-male jawline.

So cheer up. Even the best don't hit it out of the park every time.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Fuck yeah!

Just back from seeing TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE - it was bloody good. Hell of a lot more thought provoking than FAHRENHEIT 911, too, which was pretty much content to sing to the choir.

At least three laugh to your jaw hurt moments: the puppet sex, the puppet vomiting, and the panther attack. As with all Parker/Stone shows, the songs were all top-notch pastiches, too. Highly recommended.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ginger dimwit in Nazi shockah!

Saw the cover of this morning's The Sun and nearly pissed myself laughing.
Wotta muppet!

The horrible truth is, it's okay for Sid Vicious or Siouxie Sioux to wear a swastika armband, because they were punk rockers actively trying to piss people off. Prince Harry is a member of an elite organisation whose only remaining purpose is diplomacy. How friggin' diplomatic is his granny's presence at the upcoming 60th anniversary Auschwitz memorial ceremony going to seem now?

Snivelling little shit, as Spike Milligan would have put it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Finally got round to seeing the reformed PIXIES...

If only on tv. Last night VH2 showed an entire gig, at Belfort. Running time was two hours, but in truth it was closer to one hour, with one hour of bleedin' adverts. Friggin' music television.

I wasn't sure which era the gig was going to be of, prior to transmission, as the digital TV guide said something along the lines of "the legendary Pixies play at the height of their powers", which definitely had me scratching my chin for a while.

The good news is, the scream is back. I thought that one of the reasons the Pixies might never reform was because Charles Thompson was afraid of letting the scream out again, that as he grew older and settled he wouldn't want to unleash whatever demons were behind it (y'know, like Pete Townshend won't play guitar properly anymore because he thinks it'll end up with him downing a bottle of Remy Martin every night, and with a needle hanging out of his arm). It was quite touching, watching the loving glances between the band, especially during Joe's solo in Isla De Encanta, (which was as blistering as the good ol' days) nearly brought a tear to this old cynic's eye.

Fingers crossed for the album.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Oh, For Faust's sake

Just watched JERRY SPRINGER THE OPERA on BBC2. Big chuffin' deal. If this was blasphemous, then so was PARADISE LOST, PILGRIM'S PROGRESS, DOCTOR FAUSTUS, BEHOLD THE MAN, or even friggin' BRUCE ALMIGHTY...
The only difference being, all of those had more laughs.

So, reading between the lines, the recent controversy goes like this: Rupert Murdoch's rottweiller, THE SUN, whips up some negative publicity about the screening as part of his ongoing agenda against the BBC (Though I fear the old bugger also has some masterplan to make the UK public as unquestioning as the US public, and promoting religious conservatism is part of that plan).The BBC itself milks the scandal, because it loves the attention (see also: the David Kelly affair), and even more, loves talking about itself. Cue BBC current affair shows and documentaries, with BBC presenters and BBC bigwigs, discussing whether the BBC was in the right or wrong. That isn't blasphemy, it's onanism.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Making it all worthwhile

Got a lovely email from Walt Simonson the other day. Apparently he came across my review of ELRIC: MAKING OF A SORCEROR, liked it, and sent it to Michael Moorcock, and then Walter forwarded me some kind regards from Moorcock.

Jesus on a tortilla, dudes!

Now, I like to come up with handy little metaphors for the comics biz for my friends whom I force graphic novels upon, who tolerate my eccentricity, and seem to appreciate the comics without ever becoming fanatical about it. These are usually based on the lingua franca of the rock'n'roll biz, which we all do share a fanaticism for. So after a while, I came up with this: imagine I write a blog about classic rock, rather than comics. I write a few positive words about the album Riding With The King.  Unlikely, I know. Weeks later, Eric Clapton emails you to say he agreed with your opinions, and passed them on to BB King. Through Clapton, BB sends back his blessing. Now maybe you understand what a big deal this email was for me. Its like Apollo emailing me to tell me I had passed within the notice of Zeus. Believe me when I tell you, I am currently a very happy bunny.

He called me "pard"! Just like the opening line of KING OF THE CITY!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Will Eisner R.I.P.

Y'know what I was saying last year about missing the news for a couple of days, and the world goes to hell in a handcart? Well, my computer was down with a virus for less than a week, and all kinds of crazy shit happens.

Will Eisner dead, not only a great artist and writer, but also comics' greatest theorist. A great role-model, too, as a creator and a businessman. Fathered the "graphic novel", arguably: never got his fingers burned in the work-for-hire inferno that ruined so many of his contemporaries.

Frank Miller, his foremost disciple at one point I suppose, back on the character that paid for his New York apartment in All Star Batman. No one wants to build their hopes up again after his last anti-climactic encore on the character, but here's crossing my fingers anyway.

S'pose it'd be a good time to finally order this from Amazon, then.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Nearly fifty man-hours later...

...and I've finally finished all the storyline missions in GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY.

And yet, I've still got about 30% of the game to finish. Rampages to go on, odd jobs to accomplish (how in god's name are you supposed to complete the Ambulance mission? the bleeding idiots keep jumping under my wheels!), hidden packages to find, unique jumps to complete. Buggeration. For a start, I can't go anywhere near Little Haiti without it turning into a total bloodbath, after completing the final mission for the Cuban ganglord. Even picking up the rent from the cab company there is a pain in the ass.

Now what the hell am I to do while waiting for GTA: SAN ANDREAS for the PC?
(Correct answer: try joining a gym, Round Boy!)