Thursday, March 31, 2005

SIN CITY, the one comic book movie I've ever looked forward to

The only worrying thing I've heard about this flick is Mickey Rourke telling Frank Miller that he's based Marv's walk on one he learnt in Ireland... oh great, our latest cultural contribution to the world: our brain dead hardmen teach an American actor how to walk like Uncle Andy. I can see it now on the front of the Andersonstown News. I'm so proud.

Other than that, I'm looking forward to it: it looks like Miller's persistance has paid off. And the comic book oriented east-coast premiere sounded like a well-deserved pat on the back for the ongoing pop culture innovation engine that is the comic book industry. Besides, all the prestige, all the riches, couldn't be going to a more deserving artist. If Robert Crumb is the modern day Bruegel, Miller is our Hemingway.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

up in the attic, digging for gold

I'm starting to enjoy my little jaunts up into the attic, to rummage through my longboxes to see what I'm going to sell on eBay next (mention my blog when you checkout with Paypal, and I'll include a special little surprise!), by the cold white light of a flourescent strip. But I've also realised that I've got some strange personal favourites that I just can't bring myself to part with. Stuff that a rational person would regard as being some of the first things to try and get rid of. Some things I won't necessarily even admit to. Stuff that doesn't even have entries at the Grand Comic Book Database.

Maybe the only guilty pleasure I'll mention now is Steven Grant/Vince Giarrano's 1994 series Manhunter. It was on one level, a far-too-late, shoddy attempt by DC Comics to revamp a much abused heritage character in a thin pastiche of the already-dated Image Comics house style. But on another, it was some decent storytelling by two under-rated journeymen (Grant continues to be one of my favourite commentators on his industry, and was the author of one of my all-time favourite individual comics, The Punisher Vol. 1, issue 1, as good an example of that old chestnut, the prison-set thriller, as you'll get in any medium). Giarrano is great, maybe a bit too rough edged for U.S. tastes, but if I was editor of 2000AD, I'd hire the guy in a flash.

Okay, I admit it: it was crap. Well, I liked it anyway.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

read all of volume one of Brian K Vaughn's THE RUNAWAYS in one sitting...

... in bed this morning, it took me about 2 hours. It takes me about twice that to re-read WATCHMEN. Draw your own conclusions about "decompression" from that. Sure, you get a story you can hold in your hands that reads well in one sitting, but we're definitely losing something in the process.

The actual comic: damned fine, in that it shows a clear path for comics to appeal to new younger audiences. If I was a kid flicking through the comicbook racks at my local 7/11, it'd speak to me. Unlike (for example) Mark Waid's LEGION OF SUPERHEROES, which despite some trappings of modernity, is really just the same old, silver age, same old. So, it'd join the ranks of comics I'd recommend for kids new to the artform, alongside ULTIMATE SPIDERMAN and anything by the great Adam Warren. Now there's a guy who understands the flippant morbidity of teenagers.

And, I'm a fan of the dinky manga format, too. It speaks to the inner librarian in me (i.e. it'd be easier to reshelve than goofy, floppy, standard comic book size trade paperbacks that stick out above and beyond any novels you try and display them with).

Saw the twist coming a mile off, though.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

DOCTOR WHO the fuck do you think you are, anyway?!

Sat down to watch the new WHO with a nice aussie riesling and a box of cheesy Snakatas. Luvverly.

Oh, and the programme itself? Great stuff. Except maybe the big finale, which had the same problem as most Hollywood third acts these days anyway (i.e. "lets have a big special effects display instead of any real drama"). Great script, Eccleston is brilliant, the real heir to Tom Baker the show was missing for too long. And I even found myself liking Billie Piper, which is a first for me.

And a note to my homeboy contingent: doesn't Christopher Eccleston look like Phil McLean?

Friday, March 25, 2005

the last (ever?) CLONE WARS

So, episode 5. It would appear that it takes us right up to the opening crawl of THE REVENGE OF THE SITH. Whoa. The pace was relentless, and I must admit that episodes 4 & 5 were somewhere in the scale between the most cinematic cartoons I've ever seen produced for TV (and I'm saying that as both a major Bruce Timm fanatic, and a lover of those first three SAMURAI JACK episodes that work so well when stitched together, they might as well have been released theatrically), and the best on-screen STAR WARS moments since the climax of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Sure, I often jest at George Lucas's expense (and boy, can he afford it), but one thing that remains true about the dude is he sure knows how to pick collaborators (Irvin Kershner, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, for starters). It's just a shame he wasn't prepared to delegate some of the responsibility for the prequels earlier.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

and the word for today is ...MOTORIK

...and today's word is brought to you by The Stooges' Funhouse, Beck Hansen's E-Pro, and Lullabies To Paralyze by Queens Of The Stone Age. So let's all go and try and work today's word into a conversation. Unless you're German. That'd be too easy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005 CLONE WARS series three, episodes 3 & 4

AAaaargh!! I'm getting the STAR WARS horn again! Dammit, every time! Yet I know Lucas will break all our hearts! And probably not in a good way! AAaaargh!

Monday, March 21, 2005

get yer GEEK on

Like so many nerds of my age, I'm in an extreme state of geek agitation waiting for the first new DOCTOR WHO on Saturday. The amazing thing is, the pub was absolutely full of discussion on this matter at the weekend. It looks like the BBC have marketed this brilliantly, and that this could be a huge crossover hit as long as it's anywhere near half decent.

My inner geek was also stoked at the start of new STAR WARS: CLONE WARS on Toonami this afternoon. As always, sheer eye-popping brilliance. It's just the sort of space-Kurisawa that the fans were expecting from these prequels, and were far too late in receiving. Boo Lucas. Yay Tartakovsky!

Friday, March 18, 2005

more high powered EBAY shenanigans

So, I sold a load of Johnny Romita Jr-era UNCANNY X-MENs to someone with a Shepperton Studios e-mail address. One quick check on IMDB, and it turns out she was the sound editor on ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR and LOVE, ACTUALLY. Wonder if she's working on X-MEN 3 with newly-appointed Brit director Matthew Vaughn?

And not only that, but a guy bought a load of really top-notch stuff in the same round of auctions (Frank Miller DAREDEVILs, Sienkiewicz NEW MUTANTS, some Kent Williams/JJ Muth stuff, too). There I was thinking, this guy's got good taste, he's bidding on some of my coolest stuff. Turns out the guy's postal address is Rockstar North Games. I google his name, and he's one of the main character designers of the GRAND THEFT AUTO games. Which, of course, rock my world. That, to me, is just as exciting as selling comics to that guy out of The Beatles who bought IDENTITY CRISIS.

So there you go, that's me: officially Comics Retailer By Appointment To The Great & The Good.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

monthly big box o'crap arrives

So this month's delivery from ACE COMICS arrived. Featured quite a lot of guff I'd ordered ages ago and promptly forgot about. A t-shirt I'd intended to give a friend for christmas but was three months late, that sort of deal. I'll be posting some of my patented dumb-assed mini-reviews here, so be sure to check back later. Two great comics by Grant Morrison. Two great art jobs, on two great comics, by two great writers, by J H Williams. The new illustration magazine SWALLOW from my favourite boutique publisher IDW. My latest complaints about Whedon's ASTONISHING X-MEN. A bunch of other stuff.

To be continued! Eventually!

Friday, March 11, 2005

stuff I'm currently reading, and stuff kids should be reading

Started re-reading Alan Moore/David Lloyd's V FOR VENDETTA. Haven't looked at this book since about 1990, and the zeitgeist seemed to demand that I refresh myself on it. They've started making the movie adaptation, and I wanted things nice and straight in my head for the "told you the comic was better" conversations.

That said, I've almost high hopes for the project. If any movie-makers respect comics it's the Wachowski Brothers. That said, any attempts at moving the locale of the story will fail miserably: with his Guy Fawkes origins, V is as uniquely British a character as Robin Hood, King Arthur, or, um, Harry Potter. So don't try and pull a "Constantine". Also, the whole point of the horror of the fascist regime V targeted was its quintessentially middle-English banality, so transfering it to a Wagnerian, ultra-cool series of big action set-pieces won't exactly ring true either. These aren't exciting leatherclad villains V is blowing up, it's TERRY AND JUNE-watching civil servants who just happen to be playing for the wrong team.

I, of course, can't exaggerate the impact of this strip upon me when I read it for the first time. An ten year old lad coming across a copy of WARRIOR issue one, with that amazing Steve Dillon cover, then discovering in another newsagent in the same town that issue two was already out, with an even more amazing Garry Leach cover, and buying them both on the same day. As mind-blowing as my cousin planting those first few issues of 2000AD into my hands as a five year old. That's why I say "get them young" - make good comics available readily, and you'll snag them for life. If I had a kid that age interested in comics, these days everyone would be saying, give them, y'know BATMAN ADVENTURES, or somethin', break them in gently. Sod that, give them something that stretches them. Something on the very verges of their comprehension, that makes them want to come back, try harder, to understand. I think I heard Warren Ellis say that the Marvel ULTIMATE line is for kids, and by that, I think this is part of what he meant. Don't mollycoddle. A poor, but easily understood, comic won't make a kid into a comic fan as readily as a good, but more complex, one. So yeah, if you want to make more kids into comic fans, donate a few trades of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, ULTIMATE X-MEN and THE ULTIMATES to your local library.

Go on.

Do it.

I'd imagine seeing Bryan Hitch's art for the first time might just be as influential on some nipper's development as Garry Leach's on mine.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

wheeling and dealing

I now have more items for sale on eBay than I've ever had before. Phew, it's harder than it looks: scanning them all, writing blurbs, uploading. Anyway, take a look: anyone who mentions this website when checking out will get a special little treat. Click on the red text for a link to all that comic booky goodness.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

why I love Mike Mignola

D'y'wanna know what was the scariest part of the HELLBOY DVD was for me?

It wasn't the scary monsters.
Or the creepy locations.
Or the squeeky-gate music...

It was the fact that Mike Mignola looked like he was having so much fun working as part of a team, during the pre-production and production diaries.
Aw crap, I thought. He's never going to want to be chained to a drawing desk alone again. We've lost him for all eternity. Buggeration.  I still might be proved right, but here's some good news: looks like there'll be at least some more work outta the old grouch yet. And there's one of the great quotes of 2005 so far: "Don't mess with me lady, I've been drinking with skeletons". Genius.

Friday, March 04, 2005 new stuff from Amazon, too

After reading last month's issue of PREVIEWS (is reading the right verb? does anyone actually read it? Skimming is probably more accurate), I've been checking out the work of this guy BEN CALDWELL, and not just 'cus his name sounds a bit like mine. He comes from a background in illustration, yet his work seems steeped in the field of animation, being one part Bruce Timm's dynamicism (and eye for cheescake!) to one part Don Bluth's whimsy. Anyway, he's great, so I'd ordered both his DARE DETECTIVES books, and his first "How-To" book, ACTION! CARTOONING, because I'd love to (re)learn how to draw, for the amusement of Ciara and Ellen, primarily. Turns out the guy is a pretty good (and very articulate) educator, too.

ACTION! CARTOONING and THE DARE DETECTIVES 1.1 arrived today. Very good, even if DARE DETECTIVES is a tad uneven, and does sometimes read a bit like a pitch to Cartoon Monsoon. His "how-to" book is very inspiring: think I'll order its upcoming sequel, FANTASY! CARTOONING, too. There'll be no stopping me! I'll be the next Rob Liefeld!


Thursday, March 03, 2005

latest eBay purchases - a report

A couple of old NBM CORTO MALTESE editions, "Voodoo For The President" and "The Early Years".

The translation is terrible, but man is it worth persevering. No stiff, strangled dialogue can undermine the glory of Hugo Pratt's linework. For the uninitiated, the nearest comparison is that it's like an existentialist, post-imperialist TINTIN drawn by Milton Caniff. But then, that's a pretty horrible comparison. Anyway, it's bloody criminal that these are out of print in English, and the NBM editions are starting to sky-rocket on the back issue market.

If I won the lottery (which isn't very likely, seeing as I never buy a ticket) I'd start a publishing house that buys the English language reprint rights to European classics currently languishing in limbo. Corto, Blueberry... there's money to be made in them thar hills!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

big news slips out in little press release

Just came aross a little press release on a news site that may in fact turn out to be the biggest development in the American comic industry in years. The direct market has been a double-edged sword for years. Personally, I thought it was keeping comics back from being an actual mass medium again. Comic buying was weighted towards a dwindling number of collectors, rather than chasing after potential readers.

So this news goes a long way to reversing that trend: kids can again start pestering their oblivious parents to buy them a totally inappropriate comic again, just like when I was an ankle-biter.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

ah, sweet progress

A year or two ago I came to a horrible realisation: the stuff I was buying on eBay was pretty much the crap I had coveted as a fifteen year old and couldn't afford, but now had the disposable income to buy. Well, I've made progress. I'm now buying the stuff I coveted as a seventeen year old and couldn't afford.

At one level, I'm fine with this, as I'm pretty sure I was a clever, more creative, and better adjusted individual at seventeen than I am now. Scary, huh?

Anyhow, the difference is exemplified by this: instead of buying Archie Goodwin and Howard Chaykin's Marvel graphic novel THE SCORPIO CONNECTION, I'm now buying Fantagraphic's english translations of Sampayo and Munoz's ALECK SINNER stories.

At this rate, I may actually be able to beat off any accusations of arrested development in about five years! Cheers!