Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some links to other websites you can read when you're not reading this one

I have a review of Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #1 in this week's Las Vegas Weekly. Seems appropriate. The above does not occur in that comic. But Fin Fang Foom and Iron Man are both in it. So maybe it will in future issues. If you buy the first issue of only one new Iron Man series this month though, I think you're better off with Invincible Iron Man #1. Because its pretty good, and Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas is not. Despite the presence of Fin Fang Foom.

—The Boneville blog now has plenty of photos up from the Jeff Smith: Bone and Beyond exhibit, which offers some great examples of how big the full-color mural is.

Felllow Newsaramite/Columbusite Vaneta Rogers also wrote up Saturday’s Smith/McCloud conversation; you can read her report here. She’s much better equipped than I, and therefore has plenty of photos, including a charming one of Smith and his parents at the end.

—So have you guys all seen the trailer for the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie yet? Is that for real? That’s going to be an honest-go-goodness, shown-in-theaters-for-money film? Seriously? Huh.

The backgrounds and space stuff all look as “real” as they have in the last few films, but the character designs are all just awful. They took the character designs from the Cartoon Network “microseries,” the highly simplified, highly stylized designs created specifically for a flat, 2D, traditional-style animation story, and then just, what, added a third dimension back in there anyway?

Those designs looked kick-ass in 2D, but not so much in 3D. And this movie’s going to have to be really, really, really, really good to stand up to the Cartoon Network series which, visually, had the very best storytelling of any of the Star Wars films to date.

It sounds good though; like, the light sabers and the lasers and the fast action music…I like how all that stuff sounds. And I hope they say “Kit Fisto” out loud a whole lot, because I love hearing that name said out loud.

—Rachelle Goguen seemed to have had a pretty fun Free Comic Book Day, hanging out with the man of the weekend:

The one above is my favorite. I love the way he’s apparently contemplating his hotdog. Is he imagining if its possible to cram it through the little rectangular mouth slot in his mask? Or if he should take off his mask in public, and risk his secret identity, in order to enjoy his delicious-looking hot dog? Plenty more here and here.

—Joe McCulloch wrote what was probably the very best Speed Racer film review I’ve read so far. Of course, a lot of the film critics I’ve read reviewing Speed Racer don’t have the space McCulloch has, nor the ability to write to so specific an audience, but, damn, McCulloch’s was a fine review. Very astute, and very well written.

Hey, I wonder if the publisher will get Ed Benes will draw the cover?

—Check this out:

It’s our old friends The Red Bee and Michael, as drawn by artist Louis Roskosch. Obviously, I really dig the image. But I think it’s the dialogue that makes it. I mean, Red Bee gives Michael such a complex command, and does Michael refuse, fly away or shirk his duty? No, he gets right to it, and goes about defeating the Nazis. That’s heroism. (Not sure why Roskosch refers to the Bee as a “crappy” superhero on his blog though. Probably a typo.)

There’s plenty more awesome art—including the Legion of Super-Pets, Brother Power the Geek, some maybe NSFW doing-it, and a dinosaur vs. ray gun fight—at (Link stolen from Dirk Deppey’s Journalista.)

—If you haven’t already, you may want to give Tom Spurgeon’s piece about the cost of comics a read (as well as the conversation it started, on his site and around the web).

Are comics too darn expensive? Yes and no. Some of them certainly are, and I think there’s a point looming in the not-too-distant future when they will all seem too expensive.

Speaking simply from my own personal experience, the market really seems to dictate to me how much a comic should cost: $2.99 for 22 original, full-color pages. The last big leap I remember was when all of the “mainstream” (i.e. DC/Marvel/Dark Horse/Etc.) books jumped from $2.50 to $2.99. At the time, it didn’t impact my own purchasing too much, as it was only 49-cents.

Right now, there seems to be some distressing leaning toward a $3.99 price point. That would certainly impact my purchasing of singles and, in fact, I’ve been skipping a lot of books of late because they were priced at $3.99. Some smaller companies sell $3.99 books, which I’d happily buy a great comic for, but am not willing to read a mediocre one, or one I’m merely curious about (I read a lot of comics on a gamble; I pick ‘em up because I like the art, or the premise or title seems cool, for example). That extra dollar has kept me from trying out a lot of books.

Marvel Comics has really perplexed me with their pricing a lot late. I’ve never understood why their Max imprint books cost a full dollar more, even though they’re the same size. Do swear words somehow cost more?

I was a little surprised that there wasn’t rioting in the streets over Secret Invasion #2, which cost $3.99 for just 22-pages. The previous issue was forty pages for $3.99; what on earth happened in the space of just one month to so radically effect the pricing, and why was it only on the Marvel Universe line’s most heavily-promoted title?

Because of the 22-pages are worth $2.99 formula the market has ingrained in my mind, I’ve found myself buying a lot more manga and those phonebook-like reprints that Marvel and DC put out, because, by that formula, they seem too cheap not to buy. (The main difference seems to be color; I like money more than I like color, particularly given the tendency of Marvel Comics to employ highly-gradated painterly/photorealistic coloring that makes me a little nauseous).

Right now, your average manga digest costs three times as much as your average mainstream comic book, but gives you almost as many pages as ten such comic books. The Essential and Showcase Presents volumes cost as much as six mainstream comic books, but you get as many pages as 22-24 comic books.

I really enjoy the ritual and experience of going to the shop each Wednesday and picking up new super-comics, even as I buy most of the comics from the non-superhero genre in trade format. At $2.99 for 22 pages, it still seems worthwhile to me, even though it’s probably not. Maybe it still will at $3.25 or $3.50. But at $3.99 or higher, the benefits of that ritual and knowing what’s happening in Batman’s life as soon as it happens no longer seem to outweigh the benefits of getting more pages for less money, particularly in an ad-free, trade format.

—Chris Butcher has a very well-written review of the first few issues of Project: Superpowers up at He seems to like both it and The Twelve a lot better than I do (I wonder if P:S reads better in few issue chunks than in serial installments), but rather eloquently sums up the biggest problem with the Dynamaite Entertainment Golden Age superhero reclamation project:

It’s one thing to have The Spectre, Captain Marvel, or any number of popular iconic characters shouting at one another or uttering mysterious nonsense that might eventually pay off in the story; the reader is already invested in those characters thanks to years and years of familiarity–it’s the very definition of a fanboy-oriented event comic. But when the reader has no idea who any of these characters are? When you haven’t sufficiently invested them with any humanity (other than: blanket tragedy, ‘mystery’, and screaming) it’s really hard to give a shit and I don’t.

Much more at the link above.

—I was trying to find an image of the current Lucky Charms box online somewhere, because the newest marshmallow appears to be Miralco, but no dice. I did find this one from back in the day, when Lucky the leprechaun was horrifying:

—In my write-up of the OSU Cartoon Research Library’s Jeff Smith: Before Bone exhibit, featuring his old Thorn strips from Ohio State University’s school paper, I mentioned Brutus Buckeye. It occurs to me that if you don’t give a damn about college football (as I don’t) and don’t live in Columbus (as I do), then you might not know who Brutus Buckeye is.

He’s the mascot for The Ohio State Buckeyes. He is a a sentient buckeye with a human body growing out of it; or perhaps he’s a human with a buckeye for a head. I don’t know exactly. He looks like this:

Buckeyes are nuts that grow on trees in Ohio. So named because they look like the eyeballs of male deers. I’ve read. I haven’t looked a male deer in the eye lately; certainly not as much as the folks who decided to call the nuts on the trees buckeyes did.

He used to be a lot cuter, though.

He used to look like this

and before that, he looked like this

A lot less bad-ass looking, and a get-up that’s probably a lot harder to dance around in, but definitely a cuter design.

—More news coming out of OSU’s Cartoon Research Library. Here’s what the press release on the matter has to say:

The collection of the International Museum of Cartoon Art (IMCA) is moving to The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library. The union of these two institutions will create the largest collection of original cartoon art in the world.

IMCA was established in 1973 by Mort Walker, the creative force behind
Beetle Bailey, as the first museum dedicated to collecting and exhibiting cartoons. The museum opened in 1974 in a converted mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Two years later, the museum relocated to a renovated castle in Rye Brook, New York, where the collection was displayed until 1992. At that time the city of Boca Raton, Florida invited the museum to construct a 52,000 square foot facility as part of an effort to attract cultural institutions to Palm Beach County. The museum was a very popular attraction with highly acclaimed exhibits, events and functions for the public. It was still paying off the cost of its construction when two of its financial backers went bankrupt creating a $5 million loss and causing the museum to close.

IMCA’s collection consists of approximately 200,000 works, including original drawings from all genres of cartoon art (comic strips, comic books, animation, editorial, advertising, sport, caricature, greeting cards, graphic novels, and illustrations), display figures, toys and collectibles, and works on film and tape, CDs, and DVDs.

Wow, that seems like an awful lot of stuff to add to the Cartoon Research Library. Where will they put it all?

Efforts are underway to provide increased space for the Cartoon Research Library that will include museum-quality galleries. “It is critical that we have state-of-the-art gallery space to display IMCA’s collection appropriately,” notes [curator Lucy Shelton] Caswell. A gallery in the new facility will be named in honor of IMCA founder Mort Walker.



Anonymous said...

I don't see the Clone Wars item being very successful, certainly not as a movie release. It would, IMHO, probably do far better as a Direct-To-DVD release instead. You're right about the quality, it looks like a moderately-good video game, perhaps, but not something I would want to see in the theater.

I guess we'll see how it works out.

Take it and run,

Earl Allison

Mike Lorah said...

I swore off monthly comics when the price went over $2.50. Even if the cost per issue for a trade is $2.99, the psychological satisfaction of reading the entire story makes the price point more palatable.

I will have nightmares about the image of Lucky the leprechaun.

SallyP said...

I know that the price of EVERYTHING is going up by leaps and bounds, but still...$3.99 for all comics seems a bit steep. I remember when they were .25.


And I like the Buckeye mascot with the giant hat and skinny little legs the best. He's just so CUTE!

John Cochrane said...

Possibly the Miraclo-looking marshmallow you were looking for? The official website shows all of the current ones, I think.

I don't read many Marvel titles, but I decided to give Secret Invasion a go. I loved the first issue (as Luke Cage is always good in my book), but it kills me that I won't be getting the second due to its huge price. I also wanted to get Thor: Ages of Thunder for the same reason. I looked through it and it looked spectacular.