Cartoon Network Hates You

You wanna know how I know this? Because they could be showing something like this:

And yet they're just sitting on a pile of unaired episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.


R.I.P. Gene Colan

All the various comics news sites are reporting that Gene Colan has died.

To be honest, when I was a kid I wasn't the biggest fan of Gene's art. It was darker and moodier than the more traditionally "comic booky" art styles I gravitated toward, and I always thought the coloring looked weird.

Then, earlier in the decade, I happened across the first Essential Tomb of Dracula volume and saw Colan's artwork in black and white, and it was like seeing it for the first time all over again. Everything I disliked about his work as a kid I found that I loved now. Black and white was the key. Turns out I just wasn't a fan of his colorists (though I've grown to like his stuff in color since).

Anyway, I never got to meet the man, but I'm sad he's gone. He leaves behind an amazing legacy of artwork, and from everything I've ever heard, he was supposed to be one of the nicest guys around. His 2005 interview with the Comic Geek Speak podcast sure came off that way.

So long, Gene. You'll be missed.

Spectacular Street Art (It's a Priority)

Seen today on a pole outside the Post Office Branch on Apponaug Ave. right here in swingin' Warwick, RI.

Pretty Sketchy: Think Big!

Dewey, the Mallville Public Library's less-than-professional teen services librarian from the webcomic Unshelved by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, as drawn by Barnes on the latest strip collection Large Print, and acquired at the recent Rhode Island Library Association conference. Gene and Bill gave two great presentations: one on graphic novels, giving a brief overview of the history of comics and many, many awesome examples libraries would do well to invest in (I took copious notes on the latter); and one on customer service at the library, frequently using Dewey's actions as examples of things we should not do even when we really, desperately want to. And, they were super nice guys to boot. Thanks, guys!

Major props to Marvel for this.

It's a little thing, but stuff like this is wonderful. Thanks to the Twitterati at Marvel for making my son's day (and mine!).

Hal Jordan: Predator, Nancy's laurels, and the Honestly Greatest Franchise Mash-Ups Ever

A long time ago, I posted a rant about why I don't like the character of Hal Jordan. Based on Curt Franklin and Chris Haley's latest Comics, Everybody! strip for Comics Alliance, we're all three of us on the same page.

This particular Tumblr site is almost assuredly old news to everyone by now, but if for some reason you haven't seen it yet, I give you the simple grandeur that is Nancy Panels.

Artist James Hance recently came to prominence among the internerds for his Firefly/Muppets mash-up, but he has a lot of other wonderful artwork available in various forms, including this print:

and this t-shirt:

both of which will be mine. Mine, I tell you!

The Importance of Being Cyborg

(Full disclosure: this is a slight reworking of a message board post I wrote a few days back, so if it seems even more clipped and hackey than usual, there ya go.)

So as we've all seen by now, Cyborg is going to be one of the members of the new Justice League when the book restarts in September. Being one of the three original characters to come out of New Teen Titans, he has always kind of stood out.

He was a Super Friend in the last season or two of that show.

He got made into a Super Powers figure.

He was very clearly a stand-out character on the Teen Titans cartoon, even considering the small recurring cast it had.

He was one of the earliest DC characters adapted for Smallville.

He never made it into the Johnny DC Super Friends comic that I can recall seeing, but he was added to the toyline and some of the kids' books.

Based on the pegs at Target, they made a TON of his DCUC figure.

Haven't been reading it, but it looks like he has a big role in Flashpoint.

And now he's apparently prominently featured in the Johns/Lee Justice League.

So what is it about Cyborg that has led to this rise in status? I think his TV visibility certainly helps, but I think there's more to it than that. I think the biggest thing he has going for him is that he is very likely DC's highest visible character of color who is not a new or alternate version of a legacy character, and neither his name nor his powers have any sort of connection to his ethnic heritage.

That's not just big for DC, that's generally pretty big for major publisher comics across the board.

I'm (sort of) gettin' too old for this ish (or these issues, to be exact).

I was planning on doing a rundown of each of the 52 new DC books launching in September and discussing which ones I was interested in buying, when I realized two things:

1. So is everyone else.

2. I kind of don't care.

Don't get me wrong , there are titles I'm curious about. More Grant Morrison Superman? Sure. Jeff Lemire's takes on both Animal Man and Frankenstein have me intrigued. I loved what Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang did on the Dr. Thirteen: Architecture & Mortality series in the Tales of the Unexpected revival, so I want to see what they do with Wonder Woman. All-Star Western might be decent if there's plenty of Bat Lash, and if Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray don't turn it into Rip Roarin' Rapin' Western Comics they way they did their first run on Jonah Hex (which drove me away completely). Paul Cornell's book with the Demon doesn't interest me, but his take on Stormwatch does. And... well, you get the point. Clearly there's stuff here that piques my curiosity, and I'm sure I'll buy some of the first issues come September, especially if DCBS makes with the sweet discountage.

But I can't help but feel that this makes a better jumping off point for me than a jumping on one.

I'm not saying I'd abandon comics altogether. That'd be crazy talk. It might be easier to get me to go off food than comics. Nor am I abandoning "mainstream" comics (whatever that means anymore), nor even DC books in particular. I think I'm just looking for a change in focus. This may finally be my chance to go trades only on the Big 2. Or maybe I'll just play exclusively in the back catalog. I don't know yet. I do know, though, that a lot of this new effort feels Not For Me.

And that's by design. DC has stated as much. A lot of us old timers (and I've been reading comics for at least 31 years now, so I think I count as such) are focusing on the new/relaunched series, but I think DC's main focus is actually the whole "day & date" digital release thing, which, yeah, may appeal to those of us who have devices that make reading digital comics easy and pleasurable. I do not; I have an iPod Touch, not a tablet of any kind, and while I certain can read comics on it, I don't really enjoy it. But really, DC isn't after us, they're chasing after a new, younger (or younger skewing, at least) demographic, hoping the digital thing catches their fancy (since they absorb so much content digitally anyway) and draws them into comics. We're allowed to play along, if we like, but really, it's Not For Us.

And that's okay. Hey, everyone who reads comics wants to more people to read comics. If this makes that happen, then bravo. I hope the next batch of folks gets as much joy out of these characters as I did. And probably will continue to do so, even if it's not in the same format, or even the same content. Hey, I've got a Showcase Presents Metamorpho book over here I've been just dying to dig into... I'm happy as can be. As long as they keep the past accessible, they can do whatever they like with the new stuff. And if I happen to like some of that, too, all the better.

I just want some funnybooks I can enjoy, and I won't begrudge the new folks theirs.

How's Who #10 - Doctor Who: The Television Movie

(a.k.a. Doctor Who: The Enemy Within; Doctor Who: The TV Movie With the Pertwee Logo; or even The One We All Quietly Decided To Overlook)

TARDIS Crew: The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann), and kinda-sorta Dr. Grace Holloway (Daphne Ashbrook), and less kinda-sorta Chang Lee (Yee Jee Tso). And then there's also The Master (Eric Roberts. Yes, that Eric Roberts.).

The Plot: Okay, try and keep up. The Master is tried and EX-TERM-IN-ATED by the Daleks (wait, what?), and his last request is that the Doctor (in his 7th incarnation as the story begins) come for his remains and return them to Gallifrey (wait, what?). The oozing, snakelike consciousness of the Master is still alive, though, and he manages to cause the TARDIS to malfunction and crash in San Francisco just before the Millennium. The Doctor ends up getting shot by a street gang as he exits the TARDIS, (wait, what?), since his arrival actually ends up saving Chang Lee, the kid they were trying to kill, and I guess they still had to shoot someone. Dr. Grace Holloway, the heart surgeon who tries to save his life, ends up killing him because she is thrown off by his actually having two hearts. Due to the anaesthetic, though, he doesn't regenerate right away, and when he finally does, he's missing a lot of his memory.

The Master, meanwhile, takes over the of body ambulance driver (as you do), but schemes to take over the Doctor's body and his remaining regenerations using the power of the Eye of Harmony, located in the TARDIS cloister room (wait, what?). He needs a human to do this, though, as the eye is somehow keyed to human retinal patterns because it turns out the Doctor is half human (wait, what?), and so he takes young Chang under his wing in the creepiest, most Eric Robertsy way possible. The Doctor, meanwhile, tries to recover his memories and recruit Grace to help him repair the TARDIS and stop the Master, all before midnight on New Year's Eve, because that's when the now open Eye of Harmony will suck the entire Earth inside of it (wait, what?). Antics, the consumption of jelly babies, motorcycle rides, muchas smooches, and expressions of delight about shoes ensue.

The Thoughts: There's no denying it, the plot of this thing is kind of a mess. But, to be fair, they were trying to do a whole hell of a lot here, and clearly the production's reach exceeded its grasp. When this aired in 1996, the original Doctor Who had been off the air since 1989, and besides the short 30th anniversary adventure Dimensions in Time, done as a one-off special for BBC's Children In Need event (which crossed over with EastEnders... and aired on Noel's House Party... man, there's a whole lot of weird in there), there had been no new Who on TV at all in that time. And sure, the 7th Doctor's travels continued in the Virgin Publishing "New Adventures" book series, but that didn't have the reach that the TV show did. So this movie was an attempt - and perhaps an overly ambitious and sincere one at that - to get the show back on the air.

But beyond that, they were also hoping to bring it up to date for a more modern, "with it" audience... no more shaky sets or visible zippers, and maybe the Doctor could actually *GASP* show a little overt affection for the attractive lady in his company. And as this was also a co-production with the Fox network, they were also hoping to make the show palatable for American audiences, and pull it from the PBS/nerd niche into the mainstream.

Amazingly, all of this would happen... but in 2005, with the debut of the series helmed first by Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat. In 1996, it just wasn't meant to be. Part of it may be due to the fact that it got very little promotion here in the States, and I believe was even pre-empted in many markets. And in the UK, well, it was all just a little too American in tone and scope, what with all the shootings and, frankly, weak attempts at humor. And for the die hard Whovians out there, they just contradicted too much of the established canon... and considering who bad the classic series was in following its own continuity, that's really saying something.

It's not without it's charms, though, mostly due to Paul McGann, who really is a terrific Doctor. His look is generically Edwardian, so much so that he looks more like a vampire than a Time Lord, but his personality is great, and a wonderful counterpoint the master chess player that was McCoy's Doctor, or the brash pomposity of Colin Baker's. McGann's Doctor is genuinely excited about life, the universe, and everything, definitely a guy who wants to carpe every diem he can get his mitts on. And his habit of revealing little hints about people's destinies to nudge them in the right direction reminds me a bit of Patrick Troughton's Doctor; he's not breaking the laws of time, but he is bending them.

And the TARDIS set is amazing, sort of a mix between the wooden secondary console room of the Tom Baker years and the cathedral-like expanse that Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant ran around. It may be a bit too gothic or steampunky for some, but I think it's quite charming, austere, and eccentric, but without being too over-the-top. Definitely the sort of place the later-era "Time's Champion" 7th Doctor from the New Adventures books would have chosen for himself, and it fits 8's style well, too.

And Eric Roberts as the Master? Actually, it's not that bad. He chews scenery and camps it up to the point where even Anthony Ainley might have advised him to dial it back a bit, but hey, the dude has been repeatedly been killed trying to expand his lifespan. That might make him just a bit nuts, enough so that the anger and madness we see briefly in Derek Jacobi's take, and so brilliantly in John Simm's, makes all the more sense. It's not a brilliant performance, but given everything else going on here, hey it kind of works. It's all about context.

Overall: Whether you like it or not, people, the BBC says it's canon, so it's best to stop fretting about it and just take from this what you enjoy, whatever the hell that may be, and ignore all that which doesn't make sense. Hell, that's what Terrence Dicks did. In the first of BBC Books' 8th Doctor novels, titled The Eight Doctors originally enough, he spends most of the first chapter addressing or outright correcting statements made in the movie (the Doctor wasn't really half human, the Eye in the TARDIS was just a conduit to the actual Eye of Harmony that powers all Gallifrey, etc.), and that's about as official a recommendation to create your own personal continuity as you're ever gonna get.

It's not perfect, not by a long shot, but it is McGann's only "official" appearance in the role (assuming you don't count his many Big Finish audios, the countless BBC novels, and the comics), so enjoy it for what it is, and be happy that no one threw in the towel for good when this didn't take off the way they had hoped.

Apropos of Nothing: There are actually two cast members from the sitcom Less Than Perfect in this thing. Eric Roberts, of course, but also Will Sasso, who plays Pete the morgue guy here, was Andy Dick's one-time bully but then later inexplicably friend of him and the rest of the cast on the show. I wonder if that ever came up on the Less Than Perfect set?

Sasso: "Hey, wow, Eric Roberts! We actually worked together once, kind of. We were both in the Doctor Who TV movie! Remember that?"

Roberts: "Kid, I don't even know how the hell I got to work today. Hey, you wanna sit in my f--- chair from Star 80?"

Sasso: "No. No I do not. Not even with someone else's ass."

Well, my nerd life got made today. How you all doin'?

I'd be lying if I said I won't be floating blissfully over this for days.

Don't call it a reboot... well, yeah, okay, call it a reboot.

I go away for a couple of days and the whole nerd internet pretty much a-splodes with the news of DC hitting the reset button in September, relaunching their superhero books with a new continuity, new costumes, and new #1 issues. And it's funny, because I've been joking for a while now that these characters have become so far removed from their status as icons (see also: weepy Superman, paranoid Batman, murdery Wonder Woman, rape-as-a-plot-device, etc.) that basically burning everything down and starting over from scratch was the only way to get things back to normal. At long last, they've finally listened to me!

Okay, yeah, clearly I'm not that delusional. But I do think it speaks well for the current crop of management at DC that a pretty heavy hand had to be taken to get these characters back in line. Of course, I say this now. For all I know, the attempts to tie these characters more closely to the real world, to paraphrase the news story, may make them even more rapey, weepy, and ultraviolent. With Geoff Johns and Jim Lee at the helm, it's a distinct possibility. I've never been a huge fan of the work of either person, though they have both produced books that I have enjoyed, so I guess I'm cautiously optimistic on the whole, though maybe more the former adjective than the latter.

I kind of hate most of the redesigned costumes up there, though. Aquaman looks alright, and Batman looks mostly unchanged - though, come on, we just got the yellow oval logo back, and they're taking it away again? - but Superman and Wonder Woman's costumes are terrible, and I don't understand why everyone is wearing a v-neck shirt. Also, does the Flash really need a chinstrap?

On the whole, I'm approaching this with a wait-and-see attitude. Having read comics for about 31 or 32 years now, even the idea of continuity reboot (and trying to figure out which parts of the old continuity make up the new) seems old hat. It might end up being pretty good, it might not, but we won't know until the books come out, so there's no sense in getting uptight about it yet. I guess this means we may need to learn yet another version of the Legion of Super-Heroes now, though, huh? And will this fix the Marvel Family? If so, I'm definitely on board.