50 (and then some) Duly Compartmentalized Things I Love About Comics

I've done versions "100 Things I Love About Comics" list (as inspired by two of Fred Hembeck's memorable Dateline: @#$% columns) the past four years (and, knowing my willingness to beat a long-dead horse, probably will again next February), but this new, categorized "50 Things..." variation, as pioneered by David Brothers and expanded upon by Jeff Lester, Graeme McMillan, and Brad Curran, is too much fun to pass up. And the format change makes it less problematic if I duplicate entries from past lists, so it takes a lot of pressure off. Gotta love that. So here are my 50:

5 Characters/Concepts That Sound Funky When You Apply Logic but are Actually Really Good in Execution:
1. The Winter Soldier (Not-dead Bucky as Cold War Cyborg Secret Weapon? Brubaker was a genius to pull that off so well.)
2. The Club of Heroes (A group of International Batman knock-offs were a concept best left in the 50s, but Morrison made them pretty awesome. Also, more of The Squire is always a good thing.)
3. Devil Dinosaur (Well, okay, DD actually IS pretty terrible, but even Terrible Kirby is still mind-blowingly entertaining somehow.)
4. Spider-Man's black costume from the Secret Wars planet is alive (Very silly idea, and it eventually led to a million bad Venom stories, but that initial alien costume story has some great moments of mystery and tension. Plus, eventually you get Spidey dressed like this).
5. Super heroes with human failings (Cliched now, but seemed pretty outlandish until Marvel proved it could work!)

5 Favorite Lesser Spider-Man Villains
6. The White Rabbit
7. Chtylok the Che-K'n Kau ("Did he say 'Chicken Cow?'")
8. The Spot (Funky power! Cool visual! C'mon, people!)
9. Screwball, the World's First Live-Streaming Super-Villain (and the first Parkour-based character I can think of, which is just rad).
10. Video-Man (from Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends; lame, to be sure, but you had to admire the lengths the producers went to to try and put VM over)

5 Creators Whose Worst Work Is/Was Still Better Than Most Folks' Best (IMHO)
11. Jack Kirby
12. Will Eisner
13. Darwyn Cooke
14. Mike Wieringo
15. Charles Schulz

5 Comics I'm Glad to See Back In Print (or Soon to Be)
16. Zot!
17. Herbie
18. Little Lulu
19. Tales of the Beanworld
20. The works of Fletcher Hanks

5 Comics They Still Need to Reprint
21. Sugar & Spike
22. Barnaby
23. Micronauts
24. Scribbly/Red Tornado (they're in the same little side pocket of the DCU, so I count 'em together)
25. The first few years' worth of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

5 Books from the 90s That Weren't Nearly the Rest of That Decade's More Infamous Output Would Lead You To Expect
26. Bone
27. Starman
28. Firearm
29. Black Panther (Priest's series)
30. Alan Moore's Supreme

5 Marvel or DC Superhero Books Aimed at Kids (Whether Spun-off From a Cartoon or Not) That Are Better Than Their "Adult" Counterparts
31. The Batman Adventures
32. Marvel Adventures Avengers
33. X-Men: First Class (esp. the Colleen Coover back-up strips)
34. Justice League Unlimited
35. Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam (probably too soon to call, really, but that first issue was damn good.)

5 Favorite Members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and the Version of the Team in Which They Appeared
36. Wildfire, original LSH (cool visual, up until his Quislet makeover, anyway, which just looked dumb, and I liked that he was never terribly impressed by the "big" Legionnaires like Superboy)
37. Kinetix, post Zero Hour LSH (I've talked about why I like Zoe before)
38. Shrinking Violet, animated LSH (Kinda gothy and perky at the same time, and the occasional snort when she'd laugh was endearing)
39. Brainiac 5, post Infinite Crisis LSH (could be a real dick at times, but I enjoyed the frustration he had from trying to think down to a level where people could relate to him; also enjoyed his relationship with that Legion's Dream Girl)
40. Bouncing Boy, animated LSH (who doesn't enjoy the entertaining big lug pilot guy?)

5 Favorite Stories from the 60s Batman TV series
41. The Joker's Utility Belt
42. Penguin runs for Mayor of Gotham City
43. Any Riddler story (except the John Astin one - no offense to John, but he was no Frank Gorshin.) (and yes, I realize this is technically cheating, but it's my list.)
44. The Green Hornet crossover, even if the villain was pretty lame.
45. Catwoman steals the golden cat statues and traps Batman and Robin in her Cat-acombs (probably because I had the View-Master reel for this one)

5 Character Reboots/Reimaginings that Truly Worked
46. The current Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes
47. Tim Drake as Robin
48. The analogues of the Charlton characters used in Watchmen (that counts, right?)
49. John Byrne's 80s Superman work (though I'm happy to see Silver Age stuff return over time, it was what the Man of Steel needed back then).
50. Wally West becoming the Flash

Bonus 5: 5 Comics Related TV Shows/Films That Need Proper DVD Releases Already
The extremely limited-animation Marvel Super-Heroes cartoons
Jonthan Ross' "In Search of Steve Ditko" documentary
The 60s Hanna-Barberra Fantastic Four Cartoon
Tintin et moi

My rambling political screed in which I don't mention even a single candidate.

So yeah, politics.

I've spent the last 8 years or so basically being bashed by people for my beliefs. And you know, I'm a little sick of it. Oh, I should probably point this out right now, too... this bashing comes from people on both the left and the right.

It isn't news to anyone that this country of ours is a pretty divided place these days. You're with us or against us. You're on the left or the right. And apparently, jeez, even salad green preference is divisive... iceberg or arugula?

And it goes deeper. I rarely hear folks refer to themselves as Republican or Democrat anymore... everyone's either a conservative or a liberal. People aren't even identifying with parties anymore, they're Lowest Common Denominatoring themselves down to governing ideologies. I don't know about you, but to me, that's pretty scary. I'm entirely too, well, stubborn, quite frankly, to try and compartmentalize my beliefs like that. I can't see the world as black and white, forcing myself to choose between one of only two options as dictated by one side or the other.

I know, I'd have made a terrible Objectivist. And I'm such a Ditko fan, too.

So I seem to take a lot of crap about this. I'm called non-committal. I'm told people in the middle of the road get hit by trucks. I've been told I'm "not playing the game correctly." I've been told I'm a bad America. One time I was even been slammed for adhering "too closely" to the word of the Constitution, taking too much of it at "face value" (especially in regard to free speech and the separation of church and state), which, hey, silly me, I always thought was sort of the point.

So there's a reason why my voter registration card says Unaffiliated. There's a reason why the Political Views line on my Facebook profile reads "Rational." It's because I think no one end of the spectrum should ever get their way on everything; there needs to be balance. Some of my views on, say, certain healthcare or education issues, could be considered fairly liberal, but I'm pretty conservative on aspects of immigration or defense. And this confuses the living hell out of some folks, but that's where my brain has led me.

I guess the point of all this is Think, Don't Follow. I probably could have saved a whole lot of my time and yours if I led off with that (and probably ended there), but it was helpful to get the whole rambling mess out of my head. Thanks for reading this far. Next time, it's back to comics and/or fart jokes, I promise.

Politics (or lack thereof) and eBay

With both Presidential tickets now announced, I'm pondering an entry about my generally apolitical nature... explaining it, defending it, maybe even suggesting how and why it might not be such a bad approach to things. But I'm trying to figure out how I want to word it.

So until... if... that post falls out of my brain and onto the keyboard, here's a link to my eBay auctions, where I'm currently selling:

  • Umbrella Academy 1 - 6 and the Free Comic Book Day issue.
  • Justice, Inc. (the 70s series) 1 - 4
  • Jeff Smith's Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil 1 - 4
  • Showcase Presents Jonah Hex
I need more space, and money is always nice!

Our top story tonight...

Apple founder Steve Jobs is still not dead.

And once again, we hail to the King.

But until that more enlightened day, simple bloggysphere salutes will have to suffice. Happy birthday, Jack! Wish you were still here to celebrate with us, but at least you left us plenty of awesome comics to enjoy in your absence. This one, for instance...

which I found in a dollar box at a show last weekend, and was completely freakin' amazing. So, you know, thanks.

(Incidentally, anyone know a good place to make poster-sized copies of comic covers? Because I think this one would look great on my wall somewhere.)

Lazy Tuesday Virtual Lego Minifig Self-Portrait Blogging

Made using The Mini-Mizer V3.0 at ReasonablyClever.com. Maybe not every detail is entirely accurate, but you get the idea.

I do own a Wrigley Field mug, though. And a TARDIS.

A darker, edgier Superman? But that trick NEVER works!

Lots of people have had their say on Warner Brothers' recent statement that they'd like future movies based on DC Comics characters, notably Superman, to take a darker, brooding feel a la The Dark Knight... and now I'm gonna have mine, and it's this:

I think we need to accept that Superman, as a movie concept, is done, at least for the foreseeable future. The definitive cinematic statement on the Man of Steel was made 30 years ago, and everything since then has either been treading water or off the mark entirely.

When WB and the Salkinds set out to make Superman: The Movie, they approached it in that big, 70s, tail end of the era when studios still had near omnipotent moviemaking power sort of way and set out to make not just a Superman movie, but instead a capital-E Epic. A script by the author of The Godfather, a director capable of handling both large action sequences and smaller character moments with equal aplomb, some of the most famous actors of the era in the cast, and a budget big enough to make sure that everything not only looked good, but looked right. And for my money, they succeeded. Now, based on the various stories of behind-the-scenes chaos, squabbles, and backstabbing, that success may have been a happy accident at the end of the day, but still, a success all the same. It was everything a Superman movie needed to be - part legend, part fairy tale, part romance, part comedy, part adventure, part "small town boy makes good" story. It was the quintessential American tale, a Capra film in tights.

And with the details worked out, they decided to go all out to depict the traditional superhero slugfest story in Superman II, and while that one has less heart and may not hold together as well as a film, it certainly embellishes, and maybe even completes, the story began in the first movie, it's still a lot of fun, and to this day has its share of fans. Some folks even like it better... they're wrong, to be frank, but still.

And from their, the folks in charge lost their way. Maybe too many Suits wanted to have a say so they could claim some share of the success, maybe the Powers That Be simply didn't understand what actually worked initially, but whatever the case Superman III and IV just aren't very good at all. Nor were any of the proposed series revival ideas I heard bandied about
in the years after IV... ideas that, at various times, included a Superman in a completely different uniform, a Superman who couldn't fly, a Superman played by Nick Cage, and a Krypton that never actually exploded. How many of these were rumors - or perhaps were even part of the same story - I'm not sure, but I heard enough of them over the years as to lead me to believe they were better off leaving well enough alone.

I did have some hope, however, with the initial announcements of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. Singer's previous films were great, his work seemed to have a definite vision to it, and I was anxious to see what he'd do. And what he did was... pretty much create a state fair tribute band version of the first two films (Bryan Singer's Richard Donner's Superman... not the original, but an incredible simulation!). It reminded me of Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho... sure, it's something you could do, I supposed, but why would you? Oh, and he added a kid, because that always goes over so well. I didn't enjoy it, but I remained hopeful they'd tweak the problems in the inevitable next film (or that, at the very least, Superman would do something other than foil yet another amped-up real estate swindle).

But this latest news has led me to the conclusion that the folks in charge are better off accepting the original movie (and, for the sake of argument, the first sequel) as pretty much THE Superman movie and moving on for now. Compare Superman: The Movie and Superman II to The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (and honestly, I think there are many levels on which you can). The first two films in both series combine to tell one big story, but once they go back to the well for the third movie, everything falls apart, and most folks end up ignoring the later material altogether. But at least with The Godfather they knew enough to actually call it quits, and hopefully have the sense to avoid any sort of remake down the road.

Let Superman be, Warner Brothers. It's already as good as it's going to get.

(Unless you plan on doing a late 30s story with Superman fighting full-on mad scientist Luthor and an army of robots, filmed sort of like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow so that it looks like one giant Max Fleischer cartoon, because my God, would that be awesome.)

Razzafrazza spammers

I think my Hotmail account was hacked over the weekend, so if you got spam from my address, it wasn't actually me that sent it to you.

Clone Wars! If you should bemoan wars...

(Sing the title to yourself in the style of Bill Murray's Nick the Lounge Singer character from SNL, and it may make a little more sense.)

I must be some sort of V.I.P., because I had my very own private screening of the new animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie last night! Of course, it's probably just that I was the only ticket they sold to a 9:20 P.M. showing of what is, ostensibly, a kids' movie - which was probably bad news for the movie itself, but was great for me - but I'm gonna cling to the V.I.P. theory, if that's alright. Give me this, okay?

Anyway, the short, short version is that I liked it quite a bit. You want more details, you'll have to keep reading. It might get a little SPOILERY, though, so if you haven't seen it yet and still plan to, you've been warned. I'm gonna pull a Mike Sterling and list my thoughts in between some images... they'll start below this first picture of Ahsoka and Anakin, and they'll end with a second picture of them. Got it? Good. Let's go!

  • Okay, let's get the elephant Hutt in the room out of the way... the animation takes a little getting used to. Until you get used to it, it looks like one big video game cut scene. And once you do get used to it, it looks like a next gen Gerry & Sylvia Anderson project... maybe more Captain Scarlet than Thunderbirds , but still, there's a definite "bastard child of CGI and Supermarionation" feel going on here that requires some mental adjustment. It does allow for some interesting character designs, and everything looks to have a very unique texture, and in the end, it probably makes it easier to watch than it would be if the people looked more realistic, since the whole "uncanny valley" issue never really comes into play.

  • Besides the general look of things, you know right off the bat that this is a much different Star Wars than you're used to... a WB logo instead of the usual 20th Century Fox fanfare, a unique Clone Wars logo instead of the standard Star Wars one, and an actual narrative voice-over instead of the traditional opening expository crawl text. That was probably the biggest shock to my system. I mean, it worked - you still the Saturday matinee serial effect from it - but still, you go in with certain expectations, you know?

  • And speaking of that Saturday matinee feel, this is probably one of the most action-packed chapters of Star Wars anything ever. The characters are all just constantly in the soup this time, jumping from one giant battle to the next with very little breathing room in between. But it uses the downtime well, I thought... lots of nice character bits that helped establish some new relationships, strengthen old ones, and generally move the plot along. No endless prattling about intergalactic parliamentary procedure or socio-economics here, thankfully.

  • The plot itself was pretty interesting, and it fit into the larger framework of the movie saga well, I thought. I know a lot of people expressed concern that this would feel like it was retreading old ground, since we've seen so much of the Clone Wars era before through the new trilogy and the previous animated series, but it didn't feel tired or particularly extraneous to me. There's quite a gap in that first cartoon between where Anakin becomes a Jedi Knight and the point where it starts the lead-in to Revenge of the Sith, and this is clearly in that gap. There's still a lot of wiggle room to play with in there before things start feeling excessively tacked on, I think.

  • It was great to hear Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Anthony Daniels all back to voice their characters - it really gives the entire project the feeling that it still matters - but the real stand-out here was Matt Lanter as Anakin. It's amazing how you can actually bring yourself to care about the character when he's played by someone who can, you know, actually seem to act (and, admittedly, probably directed by someone who doesn't think all dialogue should be delivered in a state of dull surprise). Even in the previous Clone Wars cartoon, the dude voicing Mannequin Skywalker was just echoing Hayden Christiansen's soulless delivery, but here the future Darth Vader actually has - gasp - vocal inflection! It's a welcome change.

  • As for the character of Anakin's new padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano... she was a little grating at first - she's really enthusiastic and a bit cocky - but she won me over pretty quickly, I have to say. And really, she's kind of the perfect apprentice for him in that she's almost more reckless and headstrong than he is. But it just can't end well for Ahsoka, can it? Knowing what's to come, and given Yoda's ominous statement that Anakin's real test as a teacher will be learning to let go of his pupil... yeah, sooner or later, this chick is toast. She's Luke's way-too-optimistic snowspeeder gunner from Empire ("I feel like I could take on the whole Empire by myself!") and a Star Trek red shirt all in one.

  • R2-KT cameo, people! It's cute, and it makes me happy she's canonical now.

  • Whoever wrote the score has clearly been watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica. I didn't have a problem with that, though. As much as I love the work of John Williams, the music in this felt moodier, more urgent, and it captured the feel of the battle sequences pretty well.

  • I know a lot of people were worried that Ziro the Hutt sounding like Truman Capote might seem offensive and stereotypical, but I think it did work for the character. Ziro's character is both decadent and snivelly at the same time, and, well, so was Capote, really. And I don't think they played it too over-the-top, either. It didn't come off as gay-baiting to me, like I've read that some claim it might be, but then again, I'm a straight guy, so I'm looking at this from a different perspective. I'm certainly interested to hear thoughts from anyone who might have been offended by the character's portrayal.

  • Only one burp joke with Jabba's son Rotta ("Stinky") the Hutt in the whole movie, and not one fart joke. I'm impressed by (and thankful for) their restraint.

  • Captain Rex = Space Snake Eyes. Where's his pre-Jedi-killing spin-off, huh? I'd totallk watch or read that!

  • Do we know for sure that this will eventually be shown as part of the TV series? If so, which episodes? Because while it could lead off the show, I'm sure, it seemed to start a little to in medias res to really be a premiere episode, even for a franchise that began at Episode 4.

  • My only big complaint? No one ever has "a bad feeling about this." Come on guys, it's a running gag! I don't ask for much. Well, okay, actually I do. But I'm asking for this, too. I'm assuming it shows up in the series at some point then?

Star Wars: The Clone Wars isn't always a perfect movie, but it's a very fun 98 minutes at the movie theater (especially when there's no one else there to bug you). It's probably different than what your used to, but it's still recognizably Star Wars.

And you know, after the prequel trilogy and everything, I'm of the opinion that a different take on the material is probably a good thing.

The Dig List: 8/20/08

Short (if not always timely) reactions to stuff I've read and enjoyed lately:

The New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly - I think Wood's greatest strength as a writer is to make his characters seem like real people. They're not just collections of quirks acting in service of a particular plot, and we learn about them naturally, through their own actions and expressions, not through droning narration or awkward exposition. He doesn't tell, he shows (and Kelly is a huge part of the success in this regard, don't get me wrong). But while learning about these four young women as they come together in their freshman year at NYU is one hell of an experience in character study, and would be enough of a reason to recommend this, the story is also pretty compelling, the sort of teenage drama that you wouldn't actually be ashamed to admit you watched if this were a TV show. We need more of that. And based on the ending, I'm guessing we will indeed be getting more, and that's a good thing.

You know, I'm gonna give this to my wife to read. She's not much of a comics fan anymore, but I think she'd really dig this.

Vix #1 - This is written Rantz Hosely, the editor of the giant Tori Amos anthology Comic Book Tattoo. In his interview with the Indie Spinner Rack podcast about the Amos book, he talked a bit about writing Vix as the chance to bring back the sort of female superhero comics he enjoyed as a kid, seeing how he didn't feel comfortable giving today's versions of, say, Ms. Marvel or Spider-Woman to his young daughters. And while this might still be a bit too heavy for the intended audience of a Marvel Adventures or Johnny DC book, I think it would serve the tweener and early teen demographic alright. Vix is a girl who has received superpowers under some mysterious circumstances she can't quite recall, but she's mostly digging the experience, and is compelled to use them to help, even if she'd like to still keep herself mostly under wraps. The shady people behind her transformation, however, want to force her out into the open. So, you know, this isn't really anything new. Sounds a lot like Shades of Blue, really. But you know, I miss Shades of Blue, so this definitely fits a niche. The story moves along pretty well, and the art by Matthew Humphreys is of a style somewhere between Mike Wieringo and Humberto Ramos, which fits the tone quite nicely. Worth a read.

Captain America: Red Menace Vol. 2 - Ever since James Robinson wrote Starman for DC, lots of people have been looking for the Marvel equivalent, the book that takes all the disparate strands of continuity and weaves them into a larger story of legacy. Folks, if there is a Marvel Starman, Ed Brubaker's Captain America is it. No corner of Cap's universe is ignored, no storyline unsuitable for plot mining. I mean, in this volume alone we have callbacks to the Invaders, the Sleepers, Skull House, the Baron Blood story from the 80s... oh, there's lots of stuff. And Brubaker goes the Robinson route in giving everything a context, an explanation, a reason for revival, not the sort of fans-only continuitygasming of a Roy Thomas or Geoff Johns. And while I had always wondered if Civil War had hindered any plans Brubaker had for this book, this volume (thanks to stuff set in motion here and prior series events that are referenced) leads me to believe he had planned for it all along. And I do love it so when a writer plays the long game like that. I'm late to this party, sure, and yeah, I already know some of the big events coming up, but I'm still thoroughly digging the ride.

Pretty Sketchy - Itsy Bitsy Spidey

Got the not-quite-midweek blahs today, so in order to cheer myself (and any of the rest of youse) up, here's a fun boxtop doodle of Spider-Man by newly-official Star Wars: Clone Wars artist Katie Cook.

I do so love it when artists doodle on the mail they're sending you!

It Merits Repeating

I've never met John and Bully in real life, but I do consider them blog friends, so I want to help spread some very important words John wrote on the topic of sexual harassment at Comic-Con:

Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: "These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, 'cause I wanted to see what her reaction was." This was only one example of several instances of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.

1. One of my friends was working at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her co-workers chased him off the final time.

2. On Friday, just before the show closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the "prettiest girl at the con." They they entered the booth, started hugging and kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and scared, but they left quickly after doing that.

3. Another friend of mine, a woman running her own booth: on Friday a man came to her booth and openly criticized her drawing ability and sense of design. Reports from others in the same section of the floor confirmed he'd targeted several women with the same sort of abuse and criticism.

Quite simply, this behavior has got to stop at Comic-Con. It should never be a sort of place where anyone, man or woman, feels unsafe or attacked either verbally or physically in any shape or form. There are those, sadly, who get off on this sort of behavior and assault, whether it's to professional booth models, cosplayers or costumed women, or women who are just there to work. This is not acceptable behavior under any circumstance, no matter what you look like or how you're dressed, whether you are in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit or business casual for running your booth.

On Saturday, the day after the second event I described above, I pulled out my convention book to investigate what you can do and who you can speak to after such an occurrence. On page two of the book there is a large grey box outlining "Convention Policies," which contain rules against smoking, live animals, wheeled handcarts, recording at video presentations, drawing or aiming your replica weapon, and giving your badge to others. There is nothing about attendee-to-attendee personal behavior.

Page three of the book contains a "Where Is It?" guide to specific Comic-Con events and services. There's no general information room or desk listed, nor is there a contact location for security, so I go to the Guest Relations Desk. I speak to a volunteer manning the desk; she's sympathetic to the situation but who doesn't have a clear answer to my question: "What's Comic-Con's policy and method of dealing with complaints about harassment?" She directs me to the nearest security guard, who is also sympathetic listening to my reports, but short of the women wanting to report the incidents with the names of their harassers, there's little that can be done.

"I understand that," I tell them both, "but what I'm asking is more hypothetical and informational: if there is a set Comic-Con policy on harassment and physical and verbal abuse on Con attendees and exhibitors, and if so, what's the specific procedure by which someone should report it, and specifically where should they go?" But this wasn't a question either could answer.

So, according to published con policy, there is no tolerance for smoking, drawn weapons, personal pages or selling bootleg videos on the floor, and these rules are written down in black and white in the con booklet. There is not a word in the written rules about harassment or the like. I would like to see something like "Comic-Con has zero tolerance for harassment or violence against any of our attendees or exhibitors. Please report instances to a security guard or the Con Office in room XXX."

The first step to preventing such harassment is giving its victims the knowledge that they can safely and swiftly report such instances to someone in authority. Having no published guideline, and indeed being unable to give a clear answer to questions about it, gives harassment and violence one more rep-tape loophole to hide behind.

I enjoyed Comic-Con. I'm looking forward to coming back next year. So, in fact, are the two women whose experiences I've retold above. Aside from those instances, they had a good time at the show. But those instances of harassment shouldn't have happened at all, and that they did under no clear-cut instructions about what to do sadly invites the continuation of such behavior, or even worse.

I don't understand why there's no such written policy about what is not tolerated and what to do when this happens. Is there anyone at Comic-Con able to explain this? Does a similar written policy exist in the booklets for other conventions (SF, comics or otherwise) that could be used as a model? Can it be adapted or adapted, and enforced, for Comic-Con? As the leading event of the comics and pop culture world, Comic-Con should work to make everyone who attends feel comfortable and safe.

I may have more of my own thoughts to add on this topic later, but in the meantime, 'nuff said, America. Stay classy. Or, you know, get some class if you're an offending party in this sort of thing.

Buy before you try! (August Previews ordering)

"Hey, Bill," I hear you say. "What's your August Previews order look like?"

Well, jeez, aren't you the nosey one?

But, seeing as you asked:

Blue Beetle 32 - Matt Sturges' first issue was strong enough for me to continue to give him the benefit of the doubt 3 months in advance. So don't blow it, dude!

Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam 4 - It's Mike Kunkel, it's Captain Marvel... they'd have to do a lot to not make me want to buy this.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century 19 - A fun sounding Booster Gold appearance (and all the other non-Legion DCU appearance I've read in the book this far have been great) and it's Alex Serra's turn in the artist rotation again? That makes this a no-brainer.

Digital Webbing
E-Man: The Idol - The two previous E-Man revival one-shots from Digital Webbing have been fun, so I'm have hopes for this one, too. I'm also hoping they're doing well enough to justify an eventual collection of the original series. They're at least selling enough to keep doing one-shots, anyway, so at least there's that.

Evil Twin Comics
Comic Book Comics 3 - Come on, people. It's only kind of perfect!

G.I. Joe: A New Beginning 0 - I liked the original G.I. Joe comics alright, but I was never a huge fan. Same with the Image/Devil's Due revival. But I'll give this a shot, especially since DCBS has it for 50 cents.

Grant Morrison's Doctor Who 1 - Even though I'm often left disappointed by Doctor Who comics, no matter who the creators are, I've still wanted to read the few stories Morrison wrote for quite some time now, and this is loads easier than finding the individual back issues of Doctor Who Monthly, and far cheaper than the ridiculously expensive Panini collections.

Comic Book Tattoo softcover - Not strictly a Previews thing, but the people behind DCBS also run InstockTrades.com, and you can now order IST stock through the DCBS site and just add it to your order. And they have this for 50% off, making this giant, potential-person-killing slab of a book for 15 clams. After all the positive press and actually looking through a copy at Borders the other day, I couldn't pass it up at that price. Sorry, Unlikely and Hey, Wait... , but you had to be cut to make room for this.

MindStorm Comics
The Contingent 1 (w/sketch) - This is carried exclusively through DCBS, and it's written by Zack Kruse, who works for them. He's a very friendly guy on the Comic Geek Speak forums, and he answers my customer service emails quickly and politely, so I figure I can check out his book. Plus, it's cheap, I get a free sketch for order, and the solicitation copy makes reference to mechanical apes. So there's that.

Viper Comics
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes 1 - Look. I'm unapologetic in my love for this movie (the sequels, less so, though I do enjoy Return of... for both John Astin and George Clooney), so I'm in for at least the first issue of the comic book. DON'T YOU JUDGE ME!

Shotgun discourse

So the Arkansas Democratic party chairman was shot and killed yesterday.

Now, the police still don't seem to know of any possible motive at the moment, so we don't know politics were involved. But if it turns out some sort of ideological clash is at the center of this, is this going to be a thing now, like the Unitarian church shooting a few weeks ago? Where people think it's perfectly okay to kill someone just because you disagree with their politics?

(And isn't that the sort of thing they do in some of the countries we currently consider our enemies, or am I not supposed to ask that question?)

I only ask because I know more than a few people who will think, say, or do what Fox or talk radio or whatever tell them to do, and a few of them do own guns, so if this is becoming some sort of official policy, yeah, I'm a little scared.

And for the record, I'm registered as unaffiliated. Whenever anyone asks me if I'm a Republican or a Democrat, or as is more often the case lately, conservative or liberal, I either answer "angry and unrepresented" or "Rational."

One Year Later

Got thinking about Mike Wieringo this morning for some reason and then discovered that today is the one year anniversary of his (sickeningly too soon) passing.

You're still missed by fans and friends both far and wide, Mike!

The Dig List - 8/10/08

Short (though not always timely) reactions to comics I've read recently:

Liberty Comics: A CBLDF Benefit Book - The good: the Darwyn Cooke story about a cursed book was top notch, which was a nice throwback to the glory years of EC Comics; the J. Bone story was kinda cute; the censorship conversation strips by Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones; and the Monkeyman and O'Brien thing, even if it was just a glorfied pin-up. The not as good: everything else. You figure any anthology is gonna be a mixed-bag, but this bag was particularly, um, mixxy, I guess? And, of course as always seems to be the case when a 50/50 cover split between J. Scott Campbell and anyone else is involved, I got sent the Campbell cover. Not a fan. But, it benefits a good cause, and I did enjoy almost half of this, so there's that.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #1 - I like that they're using this to continue the story from Jeff Smith's Monster Society of Evil mini-series, and that if they couldn't get Smith to come back, they got probably the next best person to follow him in Mike Kunkel (if I can't get more Herobear, I'm more than willing to let him write and draw me some Captain Marvel stories). It's a little weird that they've already departed from the "Cap and Billy are two separate entities" thing Smith established, and there's WAY too much Shazam-code to bother translating, but beyond that, this was a fun read. Definitely looking forward to more.

Blue Beetle #29 - The first issue of Matthew Sturges' run as new regular writer on the book. I wasn't driven away immediately like I was with Rick Remender's first issue of All New Atom after he took over from Gail Simone. And this was at least as good as any of the fill-in issues that have showed up in the series to this point, which were all pretty good even when compared to the awesome sauce John Rogers was dishing out. So I'm cautiously optimistic thus far. I think a lot of it will depend on how heavy a hand Sturges applies to this immigration story arc in the making. I'm willing to give the man a shot, though.

Witchblade: Witch Hunt TPB - I had only read a handful of Witchblade comics prior to this book, and I enjoyed exactly one of them, so even though this was supposed to be an attempt by Top Cow to move the series away from being based entirely around cleavage, I still didn't have very high expectations going in to this. But you know, it was actually pretty good. The story by Ron Marz is a bit by-the-numbers in terms of having Sara fight some cult and their big drooly demon thing while establishing her new-ish status quo, but it moves along at a good little clip, the dialogue is snappy, and it managed to hold my interest even if it didn't break new ground. And the art by Mike Choi is nice, sort of loose and detailed at the same time... not too cartoony, not overly rendered and referenced. And there are no breaks in the action to force a cheesecake pose into the proceedings, so there's another plus. Best of all is the price... if you buy this at the direct market level, it's $4.99 (bookstore version is $9.99, I think). 6 issues for 5 bucks? Okay, yes please. I don't know that I'll ever buy the books beyond this point (maybe I'll get 'em from the library sometime), but I definitely got my money's worth out of this.

Hellboy: Seed of Destruction - I've never really warmed up to Hellboy (pardon any pun you may see in that statement). I love Mike Mignola's moody artwork, and I think the high concept of "monster hunts monsters" is really smart, but something in the actual execution of the stories falls apart for me. But I thought I'd give HB another shot via the library and... yup, loved the art, was only so-so on the story. Now maybe it's because this is just the first volume, and maybe because it's Mignola's ideas through the filter of another writer's script (in this case, John Byrne), or maybe I'm just not a horror fan, but something on some level just doesn't click with me here. Am I going to find it worthwhile to try future volumes, or should I just cut & run and accept that I'm going to disagree with the rest of the known comics universe in regards to this series?

Comic Book Comics #2 - I've said it before, I'll say it again: in ten years' time, maybe less, people will talk about this series in regards to comics history as they talk about Understanding Comics in regards to theory and Comics and Sequential Art in regards to form. I can't think of anything to say about this book beyond that, except for maybe that this issue covers comics in WW2, the birth of the romance comic, and how Bill Gaines' desire for paternal revenge led to the rise of EC Comics, among other things. Come on, doesn't that sound interesting? Go give some money to Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente in exchange for the privilege to read this already!

Pretty Sketchy Extra - Shrinking Violet & Bouncing Boy by Emily Block

I don't usually like to do more than one Pretty Sketchy post a week, nor do I like to put up sketches as soon as I get 'em, but I thought this was awesome enough to break both rules:

So after buying Emily Block's 24 hour comic Marina, (which I typed about here), I wrote to let her know how much I enjoyed it, and I mentioned that if she ever did commission sketches, I'd love to get something from her for the Legion of Super-Heroes sketch book/collection I was starting. She said that she was at least passingly familiar with the cartoon and was willing to give it a shot, and I figured she'd do an awesome job with my two favorite characters from that particular version of the Legion, Shrinking Violet and Bouncing Boy. And I was right... Vi and Bouncy look fantastic. She knocked this one out of the park as far as I'm concerned. Thanks, Emily!

The Greatest Super Grover Movie You'll Never See

Here's an awesome PBS Kids promo featuring Super Grover and one of the lions from Between the Lions. The quality of this particular YouTubing is a little off, but it's too awesome not to share. If this were a real movie, I'd see it in a heartbeat:

Doctor Who - The Stolen Earth / Journey's End

Right. It's about to get SPOILERY around here. So if you haven't seen the final two episodes of Doctor Who season 4 and you plan to, you might wanna skip this one. Go look at the Throwing Muses and Belly videos I posted yesterday, for instance.

Right... the two part finale, "The Stolen Earth" and "Journey's End." Because De wanted to hear some of my thoughts, here they are. I'm gonna bullet point 'em, though, because it's early and I haven't been visited by the Coffee Fairy yet.

  • Okay, so Daleks. They're quintessential Doctor Who, easily as much a landmark of the show as the TARDIS, and because of the whole Time War thing, they're inexorably linked with the Doctor and all the big events of this iteration of the series I know that, I get it, I love them. But I think we need a moratorium on them for a bit, don't you? Even if they just steer clear of them for the upcoming specials... it's long enough until Season 5 Proper that I might not be so sick of them by then.

  • The return of Davros, though, was a great touch, as was continuing his life of ups-and-downs in the eyes of the Dalek empire (he's never in power for long, but he never stays out of power for long, either).

  • And his "reunion" with Sarah Jane was nicely chilling, and another great example of working in old series continuity without leaving the new fans wondering what the hell everyone's talking about. They've met before, neither of them enjoyed the experience... that's all you need to know.

  • I also enjoyed the use of Sarah Jane as the voice of metacommentary on the greater Who universe - chiding Captain Jack for all the violence connected to Torchwood, yelling at Mr. Smith to stop with the anthem playing and get on with the analysis, stuff like that. Fun jokes if you watch all three shows, but again, nothing that people unfamiliar with them are going to be annoyed by, either. Meta is best when used sparingly... a lesson the producers of American shows should brush up on.

  • And related to that, I appreciated that the scenes with Torchwood and Sarah Jane & Luke both played like scenes from their respective shows without having to make any significant tonal changes while still retaining some of the unique elements that differentiate them. Well-played.

  • And I suppose Erin would want me to mention that she was happy to get another Ianto fix.

  • Okay, so Rose Tyler. Rose, Rose, Rose. I was hoping a couple years on her own would bring back the Season One Rose we all loved. Nope. Just as clingy and selfish as before, though I'm happy they didn't play the Intense Jealousy Over Later Companions card with her. It looked like they were gonna when she first saw Martha in The Stolen Earth, but I did enjoy her reaction to Martha's gambit with the UnpronouncableGermanName Key ("Ooooh, she's good!"). But I mean, come on, she gets returned to her own universe again - with an entire Doctor completely to herself, no less - and she's still gotta complain? Silly, selfish Rose. Go away forever again.

  • Cloned Doctor was stupid. Glad they quickly sent him packing.

  • Silly Plot Theory We Had Which Was Proven Wrong #1 - We wondered if silly, selfish Rose, being both silly and selfish, might have made some sort of alliance with the Daleks in order to get back to the regular universe just to be reunited with the Doctor, essentially selling out the rest of the creation just to get her dude back. Boy, would that have pissed off a good chunk of fandom!

  • Erin and I both liked Donna Noble from the start. The idea of a companion amazed by the wonders and terrors of the Doctor's world, but isn't all swoony over him and is willing to take the wind out of sails whenever it's necessary - or funny - was a welcome change for the new series. And watching her transform not a little unlike a time traveling Eliza Doolittle was one of the real joys of the season. So her ultimate fate was particularly heartbreaking, I thought, and I almost wonder if she would have been better off dying physically instead of metaphorically. That was particularly driven home by her grandfather Wilf, who had watched her become the person he always thought she could be, only to have it all taken away. Just a crushing performance at the end by that man there.

  • Silly Plot Theory We Had Which Was Proven Wrong #2 - Donna's importance, and the fact that the Doctor clearly had to meet her, would end up being due to her somehow being another Time Lord hidden in human form. And given the season's recurring theme of the Doctor's family, and Donna's own relationship with her grandfather, I was kinda hoping she'd turn out to be the Doctor's granddaughter, Susan.
In short, it had a few moments of weirdness, but on the whole, a good ending to what was, for my money, the best overall season so far. There were no hugely stand-outtingly excellent episodes like "Blink," "The Girl in the Fireplace," or "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances" this seasons, but neither Erin nor myself thought there were any real "Daleks in Manhattan" style clunkers, either. Even the not-as-great episodes were still quite good in some way, shape, or form, we thought. And how often can you say that?

Video to Go - Throwing Belly

Hey look, it's Throwing Muses performing "Dizzy" live on something called Big World Cafe:

And if you'd like to follow Tanya Donnelly on to her second band (well, maybe third if you count her time with the Breeders, but that's neither here nor there), here's Belly performing "Super-Connected" on Letterman:

Pretty Sketchy - Go ask Alice...

One of my favorite silly Spider-Man villains, the White Rabbit (from this issue of Marvel Team-Up, of course), as rendered by Andrew Charipar, the second of 2 sketches he did for me in advance of this year's New York Comic Con (the first was this awesome Batman he did for my son; and he did a Mary Marvel for me at the 2007 NYCC).

Ancient Chinese Prophecy of Imminent Doom, huh?

So this was what my fortune cookie said the other night:

Now if that's literal, fantastic. I'd love to, say, go back to Europe, or maybe cross the Pacific to Japan. But fortune cookies tend to talk in metaphor more often than not, and if that's the case here, then I'm left thinking it's predicting my death. Maybe even threatening me.

You see? The really ARE out to get me! Even the Chinese restauranteurs (or at least their brethren who run Big Fortune Cookie in this country) are in this. No telling how far down the rabbit hole this goes...

(The moral of the story is, if you're paid to write fortune cookies, it's probably a little less unnerving for the customer to just come out and say "You'll be taking a trip soon, you lumpy, paranoid fool. And hey, maybe eat a vegetable once in awhile. I'm just sayin'.")