Monday, August 31, 2009

So a mouse bought a spider or something? That's what the headlines led me to believe, anyway.

This is already old news by now, even in the world of legitimate news stories (and it's not even lunchtime), but Disney is buying Marvel.

Does this mean we might finally get stuff like the 60s Marvel Super Heroes cartoon and Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends on DVD? Because I'd be pretty happy about that.

. . .

Yes, this is legitimately my only concern in this matter.

Well, that and the status of Disney's relationship with Warner Brothers, because I'd love to see the Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four cartoon get released, too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Jack Kirby Day!


The King would've been 92 today. Celebrate what should be a geek national holiday by reading, or maybe even creating, some comics!

And be sure to check out Bully's 24 Hours With Jack Kirby, his day-long tribute to the King, every hour on the hour.

A few spoiler-free words about 'Inglourious Basterds'


I was very hesitant to see Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, mostly because a lot of the people I knew who were excited about it were the sorts of people who got WAY too excited about Fight Club, which I kind of hated. But the fears quickly subsided, since this is a fantastic movie. People can argue over whether or not it's Tarantino's best, but it's certainly my favorite film of his, and I liked Pulp Fiction a whole hell of a lot. All of the classic hallmarks of a Tarantino film are here - the shots, the dialogue, the Inevitable Pop Culture Discussion, etc. - but they seem different somehow; if not subdued then integrated more fluidly, as opposed to the usual pause to insert a directorial tic we've seen him do in the past (like the "and now David Carradine is going to stop and talk about Superman" bit in Kill Bill Vol. 2, to name a famous example).

And though it may sound odd, it was kind of refreshing to see a modern WW2 movie that wasn't burdened by the history or meaning of the conflict. I read that Tarantino wanted to make a Spaghetti Western as a war movie, and he totally succeeded there. This was definitely the sort of thing I could see Clint Eastwood starring in had it been made 30-40 years ago, but more a The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Clint than a Where Eagles Dare Clint.

It's a fantastic piece of film making. You owe it to yourself to see it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lazy Autumn-like Thursday Linkblogging

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Bangor, Maine, the weekend of September 19th and 20th, you'd do well to attend the BangPop! 2009 Comic and Pop Culture Con. Last year's inaugural event was quite well received, and I'm definitely making an effort to visit the old home town to go this year.

Inkville's list of the ten greatest Superman villains. Glad to see Silver Banshee made the list! She was in the first John Byrne Superman story I ever read, and she imprinted on me, I think. Hey, funky powers, cool visuals, and she's Irish. What's not to love? She'll forever typify post-COIE Superman for me.

Garth Ennis remembers when 2000 A.D. was the future. I've never been the biggest Ennis fan, but I appreciate it when a talented person openly pays respect to their roots and influences.

The Onion A.V. Club interviewed my favorite comedian working today, Patton Oswalt. It's a smart, insightful conversation. Go read it already.

Summer Glau is joining the cast of Dollhouse, and I'm sure Whedonites everywhere now need to change their pants.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wieringo Wednesday: The Mighty Marvels!



As I've said here plenty of times in the past, Mike Wieringo was probably my favorite comics artist of the past 10 to 20 years, and easily one of my all-time favorites, too. Ever since the second anniversary of his passing last week, he's been on my mind a lot, and I figured it was time to finally start this, a feature I've considered for a while now. It's not much - and since I've always felt I lack the vocabulary to express my feelings about art, I'll let the art mostly speak for itself - but it's my tribute to an artist whose work brought me a lot of enjoyment, so I hope it's appreciated on some level. And while it's tragic that we'll never see any more new work from 'Ringo, there's plenty of material out there for us to continue to enjoy for years to come.

A couple of single character pieces to start... my all-time favorite super-hero, and a hero whom I enjoy conceptually even if I don't regularly read her book.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pretty Sketchy: Grant Gould's Wolves of Odin

Sketch of one of the viking types from Grant Gould's 2008 vikings vs. werewolves graphic novel Wolves of Odin. This was one of those "order the book through DCBS and get a free sketch" incentive things. Obviously it worked, and hey, the book was good, too. And it turns out Grant recently started publishing a sequel web comic, so check it out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shameless Hucksterism: I have books you might like on eBay for (currently) cheap

If you're interested in maybe owning an affordable used copy of the first giant Locas tome, Yotsuba&! Vol. 3, Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson Vol. 1, Same Difference and Other Stories, Gus & His Gang, or Indiana Jones Adventures Vol. 1, you could always buy them from me.

The List: 8/19/09 - "People You Don't Want to Know but Can't Stop Reading About" Edition

Comics have been read! Here are encapsulations of my reactions! Exclamation point!

Richard Stark's Parker: The Hunter - I'll admit being a little apprehensive going in, seeing as I hated hated HATED the movie adaptation of the original novel (the Mel Gibson shoot-'em-up Payback), but I trusted in Darwyn Cooke, and that trust was rewarded. The man can tell a story like nobody's business, effectively using silent sequences, quickfire bursts of dialogue, long passages verbatim (I assume) from Stark (a.k.a. the late Donald Westlake), and effective use of light and shadow. The mono-coloring works fantastically, too; it would've been easy to go straight black and white in this, but the blueish tint gives the feeling of a world perpetually clouded in cigarette smoke, which fits.


RASL Vol. 1: The Drift - Almost assuredly not the sort of thing people were expecting from Jeff Smith after Bone and Monster Society of Evil. It's definitely ponderous, and deliberately so; Smith is definitely playing this story close to his vest. And that's a strength, I think, since after being dropped into this world - these worlds - without much explanation, you need to really work to follow along, and as result, each little revelation feels huge because you've come to think that you earned it. A quick read, but one that will benefit from re-readings. The more I think about it, the more I want to think about it, so I think it's safe to say Smith has me here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The female superheroes look more realistically proportioned by comparison.

For reasons neither Erin nor I understand, Maxim magazine started appearing in our mailbox. We didn't order it, we don't appear to be getting billed for it, and oddest of all, Erin's name is on the mailing label.

I bring this up because I noticed that in this month's issue, just past the pictures of Milla Jovovich in her underwear (which are admittedly very pleasing to the eye), there's an interesting article about the history of Marvel Comics as told from the first person perspectives of some of those who experienced it, similar to Legs McNeil's punk history Please Kill Me, Miller & Shale's SNL book Live from New York, or Rudolph Grey's Ed Wood bio Nightmare of Ecstasy. It's an interesting take on a story that a lot of us (well, a lot of comic book fans, anyway) have heard plenty of times before, but being an article in a mag that's probably best known for a feature called Hometown Hotties, it doesn't get enough page real estate to get into anything but the basics. There's sure to be a book in all this that has to be at least as readable as Live from New York was, even without all the drug stories.

Obviously you face a drawback in that several of the most important - and certain to be most controversial - voices are either deceased (Jack Kirby) or non-communicative (Steve Ditko), but I'm sure you could find what you'd need in past interviews and whatnot (well, you'd still most likely be lacking for Ditko, but what can you do?). There's no way we'll ever get a real conversation or con panel in which people really discuss, debate, fume, bash, scream, yell, and carry on, about the history of Marvel, who did what, who truly did or did not get what they deserve, etc. Seeing such a discussion played out on the printed page may be the only way we'll ever even come close. And I bet it'd be a hell of a read.

So if you're inclined, go check out this article. I think you'll agree that it's an interesting starting point for a much larger project.

And if you don't, there's still Milla.

Lazy Monday YouTube Blogging: Spidey loves his oranges



Really? The superhero best known for being perpetually broke is going to turn down cash money? That's some orange.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Remembering Mike and Mark

Two years ago today, we lost one of my all time favorite comic book artists, Mike Wieringo.


And thirteen years ago today (wow, has it been that long?), we lost one of my favorite comic book writers, Mark Gruenwald.


Remember the work of these men today if you can. If you don't have any of their books handy, there are plenty of great internet resources. 'Ringo's blog is still up, as is his DeviantArt.com gallery. As for Gruenwald, I can think of no better place to go than this archive of his Mark's Remarks column that ran for so long in Marvel Age and various other titles. As much as I enjoyed his work on books like Squadron Supreme and Captain America, it's this column that I always enjoyed most, being one of the first "behind the curtain" looks at the industry I ever encountered.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Night Cartoons: Pryde of the X-Men

The 90s X-Men cartoon wasn't too bad, occasionally wonky animation and Gambit aside, but I often wonder how a full series based off of this pilot from the 80s would have gone.

WARNING: Contains an awful earworm of a theme song (X-Men! X-Men! Comin' your way!"), an Australian Wolverine (weird at the time, but oddly prophetic in hindsight), and absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. But, no Gambit, so I think that evens things out rather nicely.









Sunday, August 09, 2009

The List: 8/9/09 - Quick Hits Edition

Even briefer than usual reactions to comics read - if not always produced - recently.

Stuff from the last DCBS box and the local shops:

Captain Britain and MI13 #15 - The vampire war story ends a little too quickly and cleanly, but at least it gets a proper ending at all. This book was something special, and I'll miss it lots.

Wednesday Comics #s 1-4 - Everyone has analyzed this to death already, so I'll just say it's a mixed bag, to be sure, but a great and largely successful experiment thus far. Kamandi, Adam Strange, Deadman, Metamorpho, Flash, and Batman are my favorites, whereas Wonder Woman is just a muddled, torturous slog to read (if beautiful to look at), and Teen Titans and Demon/Catwoman are just really boring.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #6 - I'll be happy to see more Mike Kunkel issues down the road, but it's in terrific hands with Art Baltazar and Franco's writing right now. Stephen DeStafano's art took a little getting used to (why does Captain Marvel have Alfred E. Neuman ears?), but it grew on me by the end, thanks in no small part to the hefty doses of Kirby Krackle.

100 Bullets #1 Special Edition / Vertigo Crime Sampler - Never read any 100 Bullets before, and I do have to say that the first issue was enough to make me want to check it out from the library sometime, probably because the Wednesday Comics Batman strip has me primed for more Azzarello & Risso. Curious to scope out the Vertigo Crime stuff now, too... Filthy Rich at the very least. Dark Entries, also known as "that one with John Constantine," didn't grab me, but then again, I'm not much a Hellblazer fan, either. Your mileage etc. etc.

The Unknown #3 - Still holding my interest, I guess, but given the whole "science vs. mysticism" bent of this, I'm doubting the larger mystery at hand (Kat's quest for proof of an afterlife) will be given the sort of satisfying conclusion, especially considering they've already announced the second mini. I'm going to have to really like the end of this to continue on, though.

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest #133 - Picked this up on a whim in the line at the market last week, and it's been a breezy, fun read, due in large part to the reprints of Reggie's first appearance and the first full issue of his solo book. Funny how I enjoy Archie books so much more now than I ever did when I was in the target demographic.

Runaways #11 - After enjoying Kathryn Immonen's Patsy Walker: Hellcat mini, it was recommended I check out what she's doing as the new writer over on Runaways. I was certainly drawn in by the story she's setting up, especially the cover blurb stating that an old character will be returning (please be Gert!), but I've been reading the series in digests all along and am conditioned to reading larger chunks of the characters' story as a result, so I'll be waiting for that. Anxiously, granted, but still waiting.


Bargain Bin Books (from the 99 Cent section of ComicBreak.com):

Uncanny X-Men #s 500-503
- This sets up the whole "the X-Men move to San Francisco" thing pretty well, but it is indeed mostly set-up, so I can see why they padded out the Manifest Destiny collection with all those extra tie-in issues. Makes me want to keep reading, though.

Mighty Avengers #21 - Not following the various Avengers books, nor Dark Reign except for where it tangentially passes through the Marvel series I do read, but this caught my attention for the fact that it stars Hank Pym acting more or less like a superhero Doctor Who, right down to having a dimensionally transcendental HQ and useful handheld multi-tool. If Dan Slott's gonna pitch it right down the middle to me, I'm gonna go for it. The story was good, if all set-up, and that Khoi Pham can sure draw, so I'm curious. I'd probably look for it at the library rather than buy it, but I still wanna read it.

Kick Drum Comics #1 - Despite not having much of an ear for hip-hop, nor an eye for graffiti-style artwork, I still love Jim Mahfood's comics. Two stories here, one the bizarre tale of a reclusive genius musician and the gangwar that erupts with his most unexpected adversary, and the other a more down-to-earth piece about a slacker skater who expects great things to happen when he receives one of John Coltrane's sax reeds. In other words, it's all classic Mahfood, and it's fun to watch his style evolve over time.

Countdown Specials: Jimmy Olsen and Kamandi - I'm not made of stone here. If you present me fat reprints of 70s Kirby for cheap, I'm going to take them. The art is Jack at his best. The stories... less so, but they're great in their way. The ideas are amazing even if the dialog isn't and the character names are god-awful. But if you're a fan, that's part of the charm.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Strike up the band, Chuckie Baby!

It's been a rough week here at TPS World Headquarters for any number of reasons, so here's a little piece of television that would always make me happy as a kid.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's GENE GENE THE DANCING MACHINE!



Seriously, you guys, my brother and I fucking LOVED The Gong Show.

Enjoy yourselves. I'll be back soon with moooooorrrrrrrrrrrre stuff.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Don't You Forget About Him

John Hughes died today.

Now, I don't quite have the reverence for Hughes' movies that much of my generation does, mostly because my parents were pretty strict about movie ratings for most of my youth. Trying to see PG-13 movies before I was actually 13 took enough subterfuge and legerdemain as it was; trying to sneak R movies, even up until age 16 or so, required a lot more effort than was usually worth it, so the only Hughes movie I ever lucked into seeing when it was pertinent was Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Also, it always bugged me that for a director being renowned as being "pro-geek," a lot of the geeks in his movies really got the shaft - Brian gets stuck writing the paper for the rest of The Breakfast Club, Cameron's gonna get the crap kicked out of him by his dad while Ferris gets to make out licky style with Mia Sara, and Ducky, well, the Duck is pretty much well and thoroughly screwed over by Molly Ringwald, isn't he?

But all of these are my hang-ups, and in spite of them, I still enjoy, maybe even celebrate, the John Hughes oeuvre. And I use the term oeuvre completely free of irony, because when you're a filmmaker whose work literally helped to define an entire generation of American teenagers and whose influence is still felt to this day, then yeah, you've earned the right to high-fallutin' French words.

So long, Mr. Hughes, and thanks for the movies. Even if I came to them too late and maybe didn't always appreciate (or maybe just misunderstood) what you were trying to say, you usually managed to entertain me, and that counts for something.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Lazy Wednesday YouTube Blogging: The Man in Black and the Pre-Fab Four Minus One

It's the Monkees (minus Peter Tork, as he was the first to leave the group at some point after the movie Head and the bizarre TV special, 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee) on The Johnny Cash Show:



Kinda makes me wish Johnny had recorded a cover of Last Train to Clarksville for real!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The List: 8/2/09 - Upbeat Cats and Not-So-Dark-As-Expected Bats

Short(ish) reactions to recently-read (if not always recently released) comics. Might be spoilery, so read with caution.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat TPB - I'm going to come right out and say it: this was one of the most flat-out enjoyable Marvel comics I have ever read. Kathryn Immonen's take on the character is fantastic: she's charming, engaging, intelligent, funny, and best of all, frequently flummoxed but never outwitted. And the stories themselves are great fun, too. The book opens with her serial from the most recent iteration of Marvel Comics Presents, and it's light but an interesting and unique look at the many facets of the character, and the art by Kathryn's husband Stuart is great as always.

The rest of the book features her recent mini-series, again written by Kathryn but with art by David Lafuente. Patsy is appointed to be the one and only member of Alaska's 50 State Initiative team, so it starts like it's going to be Northern Exposure with super powers, but events quickly escalate, and demon polar bears, animal spirit guides, and an allegedly kidnapped future shaman quirkily turn her assignment into anything but boring. The story is never what you expect, and is always fun, due in large part to Kathryn's unrelentingly irrepressible Patsy. I was worried Lafuente's art wouldn't measure up to Stuart Immonen's, but he's the perfect match for this story, ably balancing the dramatic and humorous moments with just the subtlest changes in style, his work often reminding me of the half-way point between Takeshi Miyazawa (from Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane) and Sam Kieth.

Long story short (too late), Patsy Walker: Hellcat was not only a great read, but a fantastic ride, and if Marvel lets Kathryn Immonen write more Patsy stories, I'll be first in line.



Batman: Tales of the Demon TPB - I've been on a Bronze age Batman kick lately, and somewhere along the line it occurred to me that although Ras al Ghul as long been one of my favorite Batman villains, I've read very few of the original stories (in fact, most of what I know about Ras comes from Batman: The Animated Series, which loosely adapted several of the stories in this book). And while this was a fun read, it shocked me how... well, genial Batman's initial relationship was with a known international criminal who named himself The Demon's Head. Yeah, he's smart enough to figure out Batman's identity, he has a smoking hot daughter, but still, what you'd expect to see as begrudging respect comes out as downright pally for a surprisingly long time.

Also, though Denny O'Neil is credited as returning Batman to his darker, creature-of-the-night roots, the dialogue coming out of the Dark Knight's mouth is still pretty hokey. O'Neil's Batman is just as likely to call someone "chum" as Adam West's, make no mistake about that. These quibbles aside, though, a fun read, particularly if you like a Batman who's as much "international man of mystery" as "dark knight detective," and some fantastic artwork from such 70s mainstays as Neal Adams, Michael Golden, and Irv Novick.