State of the Pull List 2013 Addendum (Foolish Oversight, Really): Bandette

I'm a little ashamed of myself that I forgot to mention Bandette when I wrote up the indie section of my State of the Pull List post the other day, because if I'm being completely honest, it might be my favorite ongoing comic right now.  However, I still don't read a lot of books digitally... I'll pony up for a few if Comixology is running a 99 cent sale on something I really want to read (All of Alan Davis's JLA: The Nail for under $3? Yes, definitely, thank you.), and I'll download free stuff from time to time (Marvel's #1 promotion as a recent example), but Bandette is the only created-for-digital-release comic I'm reading at the moment.*  Comics are still, for the most part, physical objects for me, and out of sight is sometimes still sadly out of mind.

Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, I hope you can forgive me for such a foolish oversight, and I hope you win all the Eisners you're nominated for and even those that you were not.  For instance, I figure with such a strong BeDe influence, there's an argument to be made that this qualifies for Best Presentation of Foreign Material.

If you read Tobin's recent-ish blog series about his favorite female characters in literature (and you should), you'll know that Bandette here is basically the character he was born to write... she's a thief, she's a little bit detectivey, she has a light and easy-going manner but is super-capable and talented and can definitely bring it when she needs, she has strong and varied cast of associates (basically her own Baker Street Irregulars, her "Urchins"), and a complex moral code (she'll employ her talents for the good of society, for the good of her Urchins, for the good of her pocketbook... or just because it's fun).  Coover's artwork is the perfect accompaniment to the story and the character.  You can often tell as much about Bandette and the characters that occupy her world by how they dress, how the move, and by their facial expressions as you can by what Tobin is having them say.  Everybody here feels unique, both in relation to each other and to other comics characters.

This book has style in every sense of the word.  It reads and looks much differently than pretty much everything else out there right now.  If you're not reading this, that's a problem you need to fix ASAP.  Get yourself over to Monkeybrain Comics and learn how you can fix you own foolish oversight.

*Though this is likely to change now thanks to Art & Franco's Aw Yeah Comics! has started.

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I'm just sayin'.  There's gotta be one of you out there who wants some hipster cred for having an old school FP portable turntable, right?

Auctions end tonight (4/29) around 6 or so EST, so hop to it!


As over-memed as this famous WW2-era British poster has become in the past few years, it is good sentiment to keep in mind, and a reminder that we must carry on in the face of tragedy and the loss of human life, no matter the scope or reach.

My wife was in Boston with some friends from work for the Red Sox game yesterday, and was on the route congratulating runners as they ran the last mile or two for the finish.  They didn't see, hear, or feel anything as it happened, and were able to get out of the city safely, if confusedly since the police weren't saying a whole lot as they were urging people off the streets and overtaxed cell & wireless service made it hard to get info as it happened.  We also knew a guy who was running in the marathon, but luckily he had finished prior to the bombing and he and his family were out of harm's way by the time it happened.

These stories ended happily.  Others did not, and my deepest sympathies go out to everyone affected in any way, whether that involves a loss of life, health, or even just a sense of safety.

I think we'd do well to keep the lessons taught to us by our friends across the pond at the time when this poster was more than just a clever decorating or easily-Photoshopped internet trend, but a mandate of open defiance to those who would try to keep them down.  It's become a cliche to say "if we change, they (whomever they end up being) win," but some cliches have a whole lot of truth at the center of them.  The perpetrators of these heinous acts will face justice, definitely in this world and hopefully in any others that may exist (depending on whatever cosmology you, they, and/or the universe subscribes to), but the biggest slap in the face we can give them is to go about our lives as unaltered as possible.  We will not forget this, of course, but we will keep calm, and we will carry on.

State of the Pull List 2013

I've decided to take stock of what I'm reading regularly these days.  This is probably more for my benefit than anyone else's, but I figured I'd share the list and the reasoning behind some decisions anyway.

Reading - Batman Incorporated, Legends of the Dark Knight (monthlies); All Star Western, Superman Family Adventures (trades)

Dropped in (roughly) the past year (or at least since the New 52 relaunch) - Animal Man, Aquaman, Batman, Demon Knights, Supergirl, Worlds' Finest (well, just about to be dropped)

Going to give a shot in the future - Adventures of Superman (especially since dropping the Card story), Wonder Woman (at least the first trade), Action Comics (ditto... Morrison reads better in chunks, anyway), The Green Team (creative team and weirdness of concept earns a look), The Movement (ditto)

Thoughts - I've been pretty solidly a DC guy since about 1988 or '89, around the time a then-friend pretty much forced a John Byrne Superman book into my hand and said "you need to read this, Marvel Zombie."  So the fact that I'm down to reading just two regular DC monthly books feels very weird for me.  And of those two, one is ending soon, and the other is a continuity-free Batman book completely removed from the rest of the company's storytelling universe.  I'm not staunchly opposed to the New 52 (well, aside from they're doing to Captain Marvel Shazam... and Superman's costume), and in fact have quite liked some of what has come out of the relaunch.  But between some glacial pacing (Animal Man, Demon Knights, Worlds' Finest) and seemingly endless cycles of crossovers (everything else), I've lost a lot of interest in what they're doing over there these days.  I'm willing to be wowed, of course, and I'm happy they're doing some of these non-continuity digital-first projects for old timers like me, but for the most part, they're not exciting me much these days.

Reading - Hawkeye, Daredevil, Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, FF, Fearless Defenders (monthlies); Amazing Spider-Man, Indestructible Hulk (trades... or I plan to with Hulk, anyway)

Dropped in the past year - Fantastic Four, Young Avengers, Indestructible Hulk (this one so I could switch over to trades)

Going to give a shot in the future - Avengers, All New X-Men (both in collected form)

Thoughts - So obviously since I've been a big DC guy since middle school, I haven't been as big a Marvel fan.  I read my share, of course, but it's Coke and Pepsi or Elvis and the Beatles... you can like both, but you always have a preference, and a switch like this is very much like going from, I dunno, Blue Hawaii to Rubber Soul.  Marvel is rocking my comics loving world right now, and I think a lot of it is because it seems like they are taking more chances on smaller, quirkier books with distinct authorial and artistic voices and giving them the opportunities they need to thrive.  Captain Marvel, for instance, looks and reads like no other book on the market right now (whether featuring a female or male lead character), and like no other Marvel book in at least the past 10-15 years, either.  Hawkeye is just barely a superhero book, more like a 70s buddy cop / heist-gone-bad character piece.  Over 20 issues in, Mark Waid is still turning in Daredevil scripts that reflect and respect the character's past but have helped break the streak of "we must all ape what Miller and Bendis did" stories that haunted him for so long.

I also think it's funny that so many of my favorite Marvel books are coming from either Matt Fraction or Kelly Sue DeConnick.  That's one hell of a talented household right there.

Reading - Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time (currently) and the TNG crossover Assimilation2 (recently completed), Garfield, Snarked! (recently completed) (monthlies); Adventure Time (trades)

Dropped in the past year -  Hypernaturals (plan on switching to trades), The Black Beetle (ditto), Saga

Going to give a shot in the future - ???

Thoughts - Non Marvel and DC books are so wide-ranging in reach, scope, and availability it's hard to talk about them as one category, but for some reason I don't plan on letting that stop me.  First and foremost, Boom Studios is absolutely killing it with All Ages books that are actually appealing to all ages.  Roger Langridge's Snarked! is about as clever and funny a comic book as has come down the pike in a while, and familiarity with the works of Lewis Carroll was helpful but by no means necessary (which is good, because I am sadly underread in Carroll!).  And Adventure Time is that rarest of licensed books, that which is as consistently good as the source material from which it spawned.  IDW's Doctor Who projects are inconsistent, but a.) Doctor Who comics are always inconsistent in quality; and b.) if I'm being honest, so is the show.  The Star Trek crossover was awkward and sloooooooooooooooow at times (3-4 issues of ready room discussions, while maybe consistent with some of the lesser episodes of TNG, was kinda painful), but the fanboy in me was so happy to see it happening that I was able to forgive a lot.  And Prisoners of Time has been a fun era-by-era take so far (the Troughton issue was especially good) and I'm looking forward to seeing where that goes.

As for the drops, Hypernaturals was fun sci-fi superheroics, but Abnett & Lanning read better in chunks.  Francesco Francovilla's artwork on the Black Beetle mini-series is gorgeous enough that it needs a nice, sturdy place on my shelf, hence the decision to switch there.  And Saga, well, it's good, I can see why people like it, and Fiona Staples is killing it on the art, but for whatever reason it just wasn't my cuppa.

Random Final Thought
I know, I'm really underread on indies at the moment.  Make some recommendations!

The past is fading away faster than my ability to keep up with it (RIP Roger Ebert, Carmine Infantino, Annette Funicello)

Roger Ebert was one of the first people (along with his former co-host and Gene Siskel) who ever taught me to look at entertainment with a critical eye, and that the ideas of "art" and "mass appeal" (however those can be defined) did not have to be mutually exclusive.  The man certainly appreciated and championed a great number of sophisticated, so-called "high brow" films, but he also clearly enjoyed his share of big spectacle popcorn flicks, too.  If the film was well-made, thoughtful, had something to say, and said it smartly, there was room for it in the Ebert pantheon no matter the intended audience.

And let's be honest, the stuff he hated... well, that was usually just as much fun to read about (maybe even more fun to read about) than the stuff he enjoyed.

I didn't always agree with Roger Ebert's opinions, but I always found them well-defined and argued with passion.  More than just a great film critic, he was a brilliant writer.

Pretty sure I first encountered Carmine Infantino's artwork in the pages of Marvel's Star Wars comic, and if I'm being honest, I wasn't much of a fan at the time.  Sure, I knew who everyone was supposed to be, but everybody looked just off-model enough that it all looked kinda weird.  Later on, though, I began to discover his DC work, at first through his return to The Flash in the marathon-length trial story, and then through reprints of his Silver Age work on the character, and on Batman as well.  The cover above, for instance, is one of my favorites of that entire era.  The bizarre scenario, the cover asking the reader to solve the mystery, the tie-in to the then-current Batmania craze, the go-go checks... yeah, that's just about perfect.  The man had an incredible eye for design (just look at Flash's Rogues Gallery!) and in an industry known for people often aping others' styles, Infantino's work always had a unique quality that identified it as purely and entirely his own.

Annette Funicello was a piece of living Americana thanks to The Mickey Mouse Club and the Beach Party movies, maybe more so than a lot of other similarly iconic mid-20th century media figures since not only was she known for two such different franchises (similarly benign though they were), but, well, she just seemed so darn nice, too.  But, again, if I'm being honest, before I knew her for any of those things, I knew her as the Skippy peanut butter pitchwoman.  I ate a lot of peanut butter as a kid (um, yeah... as a kid), and often Skippy.  Because, well, she just seemed so darn nice, you know?

The above clip is obviously not a peanut butter commercial, but the opening song to one of Disney's Merlin Jones movies with Tommy Kirk, The Monkey's Uncle.  It's one of my favorite songs from any Disney film ever, live or animated, and it's one of my very favorite Beach Boys songs, too.  Annette's a huge factor in both of those decisions.

Pretty Sketchy: From Thanagar With Love (and a Mace)

Hawkgirl "pencil study" sketch by Tess Fowler, purchased from her Etsy shop in Fall 2012.  Tess's description called this piece "simple." I thought it was anything but.