Monday, August 31, 2009

Is this the face of comics journalism?

I believe so. Okay, so the other day I was in a local Half Price Books, a chain of stores that sells used books (and other stuff) at half their cover price. Hence, the name. In the clearance section, I found a copy of Sam Henderson's 2004 Magic Whistle #9 for only a $1.

Imagine! A $12 Sam Henderson book reduced to just $6 must have sat on a shelf for so long that the good people at Half Price Books must have been like, "Aw fuck it, we're never gonna sell this—let's just put it in clearance for a buck."

Since I have a Magic Whistle #9-shaped hole on my bookshelf, I picked it up and read it with great interest until I got about half-way through the story "Hippy Beach" and realized that writer, critic and comics blogger Tom Spurgeon played a small role in the story.

I think.

My evidence? Well, as you can see, the character above is wearing a hat and glasses, and has stubble. And if you visit, you'll see a caricature of Spurgeon, drawn by Sam Henderson, in which Spurgeon is also wearing a hat and glasses and has stubble!

Additionally, and perhaps more convincingly, the above character is referred to as "Spurge" within the story, and "Spurge" is a nickname of Spurgeon's; in fact, the biography section of his site is labeled "Spurge's Bio."

Perhaps we should look at Spurgeon's role as a supporting character in a Sam Henderson comic more closely.

One night a hippy named Freakybeak is walking along Hippy Beach. You can tell he is a hippy because he has longhair, a beard, a head band, round John Lennon glasses and an acoustic guitar slung over his back. He sees a bunch of frat guys getting wasted around a fire. You can tell they are frat guys because they all have ball caps with Greek letters on them. Additionally, their leader has a soul patch.

Freakybeak is heartened by the scene. "My generation's time has come and gone. It's your time to shine," he tells the lead frat guy, handing him his guitar, which he's had since 1968.

The frat guy is excited. "Cool! We were just about to get more firewood..." he says, snatching it and tossing it into the fire. "Thanks, old dude!"

Bummed out by such un-coolness, Freakybeak returns to The Electric Love Bush, where his friends Starmother and Peacefrog are equally bummed out by his story.

Peacefrog makes a sleeve-rolling-up motion, and heads off to Hippy Beach to fuck with the rich kids who fucked with Freakybeak.

He does so in a rather novel fashion:

Peacefrog and his fellow hippies are dismayed by what's become of Hippy Beach, which "used to be paradise on earth...except for those lousy beatniks." He flashes back to the way they used to sock it to them:

Soon Freakybeak, a Beatnik and a cop are all commiserating about their past hatred of one another, when the policeman says, "Yet here we all are together, united by our contempt for those college kids and the sanctity of hippy beach!"

They form an alliance:

Meanwhile, this is what those damn college kids are up to:
Why it's our own Tom Spurgeon, eating ten fuckin' thousand Little Debbie snack cakes and swallowing a Pbst and Fresca chaser...without throwing up! Or dying!

As you can see in that last panel, the hippy, beatnik and cop have all snuck up to the frat boys, cleverly disguised, and are immediately asked if they are narcs.
The frat boys are prepared though, since every year "the old dudes" try to infiltrate their parties.

Prepared how? Why, with this:

But the policeman came prepared for the frat boys' preparation, with a "Counter-Disguise Kit." That's when things get a little confusing:
It looks like it may lead to violence, until the same little girl who broke up the beatnik/hippy/cop fight earlier appears to offer more wisdom: "Why can't you ass-cracks see the bigger picture? Stop and think for a'll figure out the real problem with Hippy Beach."

And they do! But I've spoiled enough of Henderson's story; I don't want to spoil the ending, too.

So if you haven't read it before, do keep an eye out for Magic Whistle #9, where you can see Tom Spurgeon as you've never seen him before, plus a whole bunch of other great stuff, like the adventures of Simperton J. Narcisissy, Aspiring Artist and "Gunther Bumpus Awaits a Package Which is Right Now Being Sent to him Via Express Mail by Dandy Zipper" and Pickles The Exploding Dog and the epic story of Hamburger Joe, a minor character in a lawyer comic strip who gets fired and then tries to launch his own strip.

While casting about for Sam Henderson characters to co-star in his Hamburger Joe strip, he thinks of Jack Wrongswear, who is the best:

Cry For Justice continues to make me laugh...and cry, alternately, depending on the page

Hey, remember back in April when DC's DC Nation column featured that comical image of some of their male heroes just cold ogling Supergirl's breasts?

I had made fun of it at the time, but also noted that "I’m sure this isn’t a full image, and was maybe cropped like it is to avoid a spoiler."

Well, it turns out the only cropping was done at the bottom of the image. The actual page of the actual comic features her head off-panel, in order to make room for her breast in the foreground. DC's Source Blog posted some pages from Justice League: Cry For Justice #3, and that page is one of them:

Reading through them for anything as comical as the last batch of preview pages contained, I was depressed to find out that this issue deals with the ethics of torture, and the heroes are all a-okay with it. Famously liberal Oliver Queen at least asks his highly Republican pal Hal, "Is this right? I mean, isn't this torture?"

Hal responds, "Prometheus is a villain, Ollie. He's a murderer." And when Ollie points out that they're supposed to be the good guys, Hal answers with, "Ask me that when the sting of Bruce and J'onns death and all the others has gone away, if it ever does."

Which is, of course, hilarious because Hal has returned from the dead, as has the person he's talking to.

Now the fact that writer James Robinson at least has the characters talking about whether torture is good or not—even though Ray "The Atom" Palmer eventually agrees with Hal and tells Ollie to shut up, while Ollie, Captain Marvel Jr. and Supergirl all stand around watching the torture—leads me to believe (hope?) that he's eventually going to get around to siding with Ollie and agreeing that yes, Hal and Ray are fucking monsters and torture is never justified and if anyone eschews tortue it should be these peple who refer to themselves as the Justice League.

But in these half-dozen pages, all I see is a half-dozen superheroes taking Vice President Dick Cheney's side of the real world, really fucking serious discussion, and I get depressed.

Er, I guess you can pretty much ignore that last post, maybe...?


That's...that's some pretty big news, isn't it?

I haven't even eaten breakfast or drank any coffee yet, so I don't have any thoughts on the matter beyond "Woah," "Holy crap!" and "Wait, for real?"

Well, other than this: Lower their prices Mickey!!!

Some thoughts on Marvel Comics' business strategy that I had after I received my latest shipment from

Late last year Marvel began publishing Punisher: War Zone, a six-issue miniseries re-teaming the "Welcome Back, Frank" creative team of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Each 22-page issue cost $3.99, so if you read the book as it was originally released, it would cost you $23.94.

The hardcover collection was released earlier this year, and featured the usual advantages of a collection—the whole story available to be read start to finish all at once, no ads and a more convenient, easy to store format. That cost $24.99, a buck and nickle more than the individual comics, although you can currently buy it on for just $16.49.

I just received and read the trade paperback version this weekend, the version which, of course, shares all the advantages of the hardcover, save the heaviness of the cover stock. It only cost $20, but Amazon was selling it for $13.59, about $10 less than it would have cost me to read it one 22-page chapter at a time, with a bunch of dumb-ass ads for Hulk toilet water and Iron Man cupcake decorators between the pages.

I don't understand how this business model works.

I suppose it works and will continue to work as long as the pool of readers who need to know what's happening in the Marvel Universe immediately is large enough to make it profitable (and enough of them have enough flexible income that they don't care whether Marvel charges 'em $2.99 or $3.99 for the same 22 pages).

Spider-Man and X-Men fans will certainly always have enough of a steady stream of product that it may pay for them to stay engaged on a weekly basis with their franchises. Same with the Avengers under Brian Michael Bendis' care, as he's used the series as a launching ground for big Marvel Universe changes.

But when you move beyond the goings on of the Marvel Universe proper, into more self-contained books, there's less and less incentive for even those readers who care about keeping up with comics in a timely fashion to care about those books in comic book format. That's the Ultimate Comics line, the Marvel Knights lines, the Max line, most of the miniseries and, I imagine, almost everything that doesn't currently have a "Dark Reign" logo at the top, and/or involve a major player in the Marvel Universe.

That Punisher miniseries, for example, was a standalone series with a beginning middle and end, one that wouldn't have any ramifications on the other two Punisher comics, one set in the Marvel Universe proper, the other in the quasi-continuity Max-iverse. I have a hard time imagining thousands of people who read Punisher: War Zone simply because they had to know what happened in each installment, and how it would all end (The Punisher would kill a bunch of people and, at the end, he would live and his enemies would all die).

This would seem to indicate that there's little chance of line-wide storytelling in the "Dark Regin" model going away any time soon, but, at the same time, the increases in interest in such books seems to always come at the expense of the rest of the line.

Say you're a Jeff Parker fan (as I am) who goes to shop every Wednesday (like me!), but you have limited funds (also, sadly, like me). Do you buy Dark Reign: The Hood and Agents of Atlas (which prominently featured the "Dark Reign" logo and featured appearances from Norman Osborn and the Avengers in the first few issues), or do you read Exiles or The Golden Age of the Sentry, an ongoing and miniseries set in the furthest corners of Marvel continuity?

Sure, maybe price is a factor (it was for me), as one of those four books was $3.99, as is your interest in various characters, but all of them are going to be in trade within a month or two of the end of the first arc/end of the mini, and two of them don't impact the ongoing Marvel Universe soap opera. If that's the reason you're still reading single issues on a weekly basis, then of course you're going to buy the "Dark Reign" stuff and then maybe catch up on the other stuff in trade someday.

Using myself as a test case, I see I'm currently down to just three Marvel ongoings—Incredible Hercules, Runaways and Agents of Atlas. Of those, two are about to be canceled/go in to some form of hiatus.

That's not to say I have no interest in Marvel Comics any more; there are a lot of books I'd like to read if they were cheaper and/or I was richer. But because Marvel's pricing makes many single issues seem impractical to the point of insanity, and their trade program has become so swift, why on Earth would I want to read Ultimate Comics Spider-Man or Marvel Zombies 4 or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in any format other than an Amazon-discounted trade paperback format?

In a few more weeks or so, I'll be just one comic away from reading about half my super-comics in trade format only.

And keep in mind, I love comics. I like going to get them every Wednesday, I like flipping through them in the shop, I like the way they feel and smell, I like the cliffhangers, I like putting them in stacks and then in longboxes.

But I like having enough money to buy and read comics a heck of a lot more.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"There once was a pillow head who snored his name: Honk-Honk-Ashoo."

That's the first line in Ralph Cosentino's The Story of Honk-Honk-Ashoo & Swella-Bow-Wow (Viking; 2005). Usually it's the art on the cover of a children's picture book that catches my eye, but in this case I found the onomatopoeia-derived name of the title character to be just as attractive as Consentino's super-simplified, super-cute art.

So, what the hell's a pillow head? Well, it's obviously a person with a pillow for a head. And Honk-Honk-Ashoo's world is one in which sentient humanoid creatures sometimes have objects for heads (when he hears the new word "Marvelous," for example, he looks it up in the head of his friend Smarty Pants, who has a dictionary for a head), or are objects with faces and/or limbs and the ability to think, walk or talk.

Frankly, I don't get it. But it sure is cute!

Here's Honk-Honk-Ashoo's bedroom, on the first page, for example:

His clock has a face (a face-face, not just a clock face), his lamp has a face and arms, the star outside his window has a face, and so do his bunny slippers, which you can see are sleeping next to his bed.

(You can tell this is a library book that gets taken out frequently by kids by the scribbling on this page. Note the scribble in the lamp's face, and someone went over Honk-Honk-Ashoo's eyes and mouth with a pen.)

The first few pages of the book detail Honk-Honk-Ashoo's day, he gets up when the alarm clock rings, he does his exercises, he reads the funnies while having breakfast,
he does his chores and then he plays.

(Please note the funnies that Honk-Honk-Ashoo's local paper carries. They're pretty huge......but not very funny).

One day, his routine is interrupted by a strange sound, which enrages his alarm clock:
The barking is coming from the little brown dog on the cover, which is being menaced by a dog catcher.

This dog catcher is a gigantic house cat, bigger than Honk-Honk-Ashoo, in a blue coat and matching hat that reads "Dog Catcher." It also has a soul patch.

Now, the fact that about half of the objects in Honk-Honk-Ashoo's universe are anthropomorphized, and to different degrees, was already giving me some conceptual difficulties. But the fact that there's a dog who's just a totally normal dog, while there's a cat that wears clothes, drives a truck and has a job, catching dogs? That completely blew my mind.

Well, short story shorter, the dog is taken to the pound, Honk-Honk-Ashoo feels bad and adopts him, they do everything together, a walking, talking soda bottle named Soda tells Honk-Honk-Ashoo that his dog is "marvelous," Honk-Honk-Ashoo names his dog "Swella-Bow-Wow" and then they go to bed "nice and early, together," with Swella-Bow-Wow getting his own pair of slightly smaller sentient bunny slippers and curling up to sleep in the middle of Honk-Honk-Ashoo's face which, you'll recall, is a pillow.

When I was in high school, this is the exact sort of thing I would describe as "trippy."


If you get a chance, please visit and check out some of the artist's work, especially the portfolio section. Of particular interest to comics fans will be his 2008 picture book Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight, which I plan to cover here in the near future.

In the mean time, behold Cosentino's Batman:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another great Guillemgoyle

I've mentioned my appreciation for Gotham City Sirens artist Guillem March's gargoyle-designing skills before, and issue #3 feature another great example:
It's another example of Gotham City's insane architecture. Like, instead of going for a classic demon/devil gargoyle, or a bat-like gargoyle, this particular sculptor decided to go with some sort of horrifying giant bat-monster with an exposed rib-cage, hook-like claws and fangs that look like shark's jaws.

This image, by the way is a splash page, and incredibly well-designed in general. The gargoyle's cool, as is the depiction of Batman and The Riddler, their similar posture demonstrating the way they think alike as they compare their cracking of the complicated clues in the case they're working on. I like the little inset-panels, breaking up the dialogue and keeping the eyes dancing over changing art despite the use of a splash-image, and the way their borders make them look like little case files.

And hey, not only does the gargoyle look cool, as you can see from this panel, it's also functional, hiding a gutter to move rainwater off the roof and away from the building:

You know, I liked this Guillem March character the first time I saw his art, and I think I like his work more and more the more I see of it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Finally, a children's picture book with a very important moral:

Writer/artist Neil Numberman's Do Not Build a Frankenstein! (Greenwillow Books) is a charmingly straightforward picture book, with an important moral to teach (see the title). It's one of those picture books that hovers between traditional picture books and comics, although I think it's far closer to the latter.

Some of the words appear as prose text within and around images, but if these were encased in little yellow boxes, we'd just call 'em narration boxes and think this thing was perfectly comic-book-y. All of the dialogue spoken by anyone other than the protagonist/narrator, and quite a bit of his dialogue, occurs within traditional comic book dialogue bubbles. Many of the pages function as giant panels (the edges of the pages functioning as the borders)
while others are broken up into multiple images per page, with the white space between the images serving as implied panel borders.

That narrator/protagonist is a pretty normal looking boy, who's only distinguishable from all the neighborhood kids by the dirt on his face, and the anxious look on his face. He's called all the kids out to a snowy field, where he stands upon a wooden crate, and delivers his message, on an two-page spread that's an extreme close-up: "Do not build a Frankenstein!"

"Trust me," he goes on. "I know. I tried. You must dedicate your entire life to building a Frankenstein. You must research...built a laboratory...and find the right parts."

The kid tells the others about how it might seem fun having your own patchwork monster at first, but it can get sort of annoying after awhile (his monster never rebels against him or drowns any little girls in a lake or anything terrible like that though; it mostly just acts like a big, clumsy, super-strong little brother).

The kid builds a compelling case, although Numberman's important message regarding the not-building of Frankenstiens is somewhat undercut by the expected (but still amusing) twist ending.

Numberman's character design is a lot of fun, with his children possessing huge round heads—giving him plenty of space to work in exaggerated, easy-to-read expressions, and spindly, boneless limbs attached too little bodies (There's something very Muppet-like about his human children).

His Frankenstein's monster is a refreshingly original design. He's green and has bolts in his neck, but the only real sign that he's been stitched together form grave-robbed body parts are the quilt-like patches he sports here and there. I like how he's all arms and torso, with just a tiny bullet-shaped head and a lower body that looks a little like an upside down football goal post.

Numberman creates all this in water color, and there's a neat, homemade feel to the art. The drawings are simply rendered, but there's complex workings beneath them all, and the uneven weight of the water-colors is left visible, so that each page looks a little like something a kid might have brought home from school—if the kid was very, very talented (Or, put another way, it looks like if you locked Numberman in a grade school art room, he could have made this book in there with no trouble).

The "camera" moves in and out from full-page medium shots to extreme two-page splash close-ups to multiple long-shots per page, giving the book a fast, hurried pace that pushes the story along quickly and making sure something jumps out at the reader on a very regular basis.

It's all around great work, and one of the best picture books I've read in a while.


If those couple images pique your interest, I'd definitely recommend you pay a visit to, and check out the images and comics he has filed under "comics," "kids" and "portfolio." There's some super-weird stuff in there, and his Che Guevara comic under "portfolio" is pretty awesome.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Weekly Haul: August 26th

Batman and Robin #3 (DC Comics) You know who I feel bad for? Poor Philip Tan. If I were him I'd be sitting there looking at this issue, sweating profusely, drawing my knees up to my chin and rocking back and forth in my chair. How exactly do you follow Frank Quitely? Particularly when the assignment is to work with Grant Morrison, a task relatively few artists do well, and no one does as well as Quitely?

And Quitely's work here is absolutely perfect. The action, much of it involving Batman and Robin flipping around flying kicking doll-people, is absolutely flawless, and there are some really clever bits, like the sound-effect written in artfully splashed blood on page 21. Morrison, of course, does pretty great work as well. He certainly writes crazy maniac monologues well, and the timeliness of a pig-themed villain attempting to spread a deadly, flu-like disease all over a city is pretty remarkable.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #8 (DC) Chinese super-team The Great Ten team up with Batman this issue, and yet there are only four members of The Great Ten in the entire issue. Why are J. Torres, Carlo Barberi and Terry Beatty trying to un-teach our children math?

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #7 (DC) After Stephen DeStefano's turn penciling last issue, pencil artist Byron Vaughns returns, and I've gotta admit, I don't really dig his style much. There's nothing at all that's technically wrong with his art, and it's purely a question of aesthetic preference, but I just don't really care for his interpretation of some of the characters, or the way he adapts some of Jeff Smith's original designs for them here. Story-wise, Art Baltazar and Franco are still doing an a-okay job here, so I doubt any younger readers will care all that much if it's DeStefano or Vaughns or Kunkel or Smith drawing it given a particular installment. Jaded, bitter old people like me, on the other hand...

Also disappointing? Dr. Sivana's hobo disguise.

Come on Sivana, I'm sure you can do a much more elaborate hobo costume if you put your mind to it!

Detective Comics #856 (DC) Greg Rucka brings back Abbot, a werewolf character he introduced during his last TEC run and used off-and-on through the Religion of Crime business in 52 and elsewhere. He is now apparently the Martin Luther of Crimeism, and he and his fellow animal men take Batwoman's side against the other crime worshipers. It's...well, it's really beautifully drawn by J. H. Williams III, who has incredibly inventive lay-outs, and always seems to be trying to find new and exciting ways to effectively transmit story information.

Unfortunately, it really seems like his skills are being wasted, as there's no real originality to the scripting (So far, there's little that would change if you swapped Batwoman and her dad out for Batman and Alfred).

The Question back-up, while also effectively illustrated, is even worse in terms of originality. The Question could be aboslutely any character; she's just a punching machine fighting bad guys. It probably didn't help that I read this back-up after Batman and Robin, which also had something to do with bad guys selling women into sex-slavery, but there it was a sentence in the origin story of a bizarre new villain; here it's the whole story. The back-up is certainly competently done, it's just completely generic, and I'd rather not spend a $1 on it if I can avoid it.

I think I'll finish up this story arc next month, and then switch to cheaper, ad-free, The Question-free trades.

Flash: Rebirth #4 (DC) If you were doing a big story about a long-dead superhero coming back from the dead, you would probably want to wrap that up before you did an even bigger story about a bunch of long-dead superheroes coming back from the dead, wouldn’t you? And yet for whatever reason, Flash: Rebirth is only on issue #4, the two-thirds-over mark, while Blackest Night has already started in earnest.

It seems like such a shame that DC waited a good 20 years to bring Barry Allen back to life, and then decided to do it at a time when what could have/should have been a momentous event for the company was sure to be eclipsed by another of their own storylines. The contents of this issue even further undermine the importance of Allen’s return, with the big bad guy behind it all pointing out that Allen wasn’t really needed to outrace death and save all existence from an evil god in Final Crisis after all (which we all knew already anyway from reading Final Crisis, but still).

Unfortunate timing aside, the contents of this issue are pretty solid. Artist Ethan Van Sciver continues to do a whole lot of neat things with with his art to suggest super-speed, and Johns’ descriptions often match up with those images quite nicely (I like the bit about Zoom inhaling his sneering after images, for example). This issue is packed with comic book science as applied to The Flash, and it all reads convincing enough—not really contradicting anything that Mark Waid wrote (that I can recall, anyway), but still refashioning it to suit different purposes.

Gotham City Sirens #3 (DC) Well this was a pretty weird issue. The titular heroines—Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn—are relegated to four panels of the entire issue, and when they do appear, they seem to be interrupting another, better comic already in progress. That one involves The Riddler-as-good-guy-private-eye meeting and dealing with the new Batman while they each work the same case.

Also odd? It's only the third issue, and series writer Paul Dini is MIA, with Scott Lobdell filling-in for him (not that the solicitation on reflects either the contents of this issue or the change in writers). It doesn't matter much to me, as Lobdell does a very good job of making this fairly throwaway done-in-one a sharp character study of The Riddler and his present purpose in life (and, to a lesser degree, Dick Grayson's Batman). And it's still drawn by Guillem March, whose fantastic artwork is the only reason I've been picking the book up at all. Still, it's one of those curious releases that leaves one wondering what goes on behind the scenes to result in a comic by a different writer, with a different plot and featuring different characters than the one advertised.

Green Lantern #45 (DC) Geoff Johns pulls back from Earth and all the dead superheroes with black rings making a nuisance of themselves there to check on the rest of the colors in the rainbow. How goes things with the various other armies in the "War of Light?" Not so well. The pink guys are fighting the yellow guys, the red guys are fighting the green guys, the orange guys are fighting the blue guys, and now here come some black rings turning yellow guys and red guys into black guys.

It seems odd to say it of an issue in which a half-dozen space armies shoot one another with laser rings all over the universe, but this issue was actually kind of uneventful, with nothing completely stupid/totally awesome to reccomend it. Aside, perhaps, from the creation of a Black Lantern seemingly specifically designed to fight Mogo, an idea so obvious that I actually laughed "Of course!" when I got to that page. Doug Mahnke continues to draw the living hell out of Johns' scripts. He's not the best pencil artist DC's got drawing their super-comics at the moment (Note Quitely, Williams and March all had books out this very week), but he's definitely one of the better ones.

Runaways #13 (Marvel Comics) Kathryn Immonen has a lot of fun with the names of Nico's spells this issue, doesn't she? I'm not sure what on earth is going on with this title in the near future. The next issue is solicited for next month (with a $3.99 price tag?!), and that's it. No new single issues solicited for October, and the only Runaways solicited for November is a collection of Immonen and Sara Pichelli's four issues (plus the Runaways story that ran serialized in the back of the last round of What If? books...damn! Shoulda switched to trades on Runaways!) If they canceled the book, they sure didn't give the new creative team very long.

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #2 (DC) I really regret even buying this comic.

It's $4.99, so I assumed it would be pretty over-sized, but having counted the pages once I was done, I see it's actually only 38 story pages long. DC usually charges $3.99 for a 30-to-32-page book, so the extra $1 for just 6 pages struck me as a little excessive. Doing the math though, I guess it works out to 13 cents a page, which is about the rate of a $2.99, 22-page book (which is 13-and-a-half cents per page), and only a penny more per page than the rate for a $3.99, 32-page book (12 cents per page).

It sure seems like a lot to pay for a book about Jimmy Olsen having a short conversation with Mon-El, then having a short conversation with a former member of Luthor's Infinity Inc., and then a very, very long conversation with Natasha Irons (whom I thought was in high school, not deep undercover infiltrating black ops military squads) and then getting shot to death. Oh come on, that's not a spoiler—it's not like DC's ever gonna really slot Jimmy Olsen.

You know who's not in it? The Guardian, shown prominently on the cover that’s still up on The final cover has The Guardian removed, and Mon-El dropped into his place.

Wednesday Comics #8 (DC)

Batman: A couple of points—

1.) Risso draws cities very well. That first panel is just incredible.

2.) Why is Gotham Today in the Gotham Examiner newspaper box?

3.) Gotham Today was pretty funny headlines.

4.) Doesn’t Gotham have laws against littering? And shouldn’t the commissioner of the city’s police force abide by them?

Kamandi: Are there Horse people on Kamandi’s world? And do they ride horses too?

Superman: Eh, Superman fights an alien.

Deadman: One of the spirits of one of the murdered ladies has visible panty lines.

Green Lantern: Eh, Hal Jordan fights an alien.

Metamorpho: Holy shit you guys! This is something to see this week. Metamorpho and the Element Girl chase the evil, ancient Element Man through a secret chamber in which they must transform their way through the entire periodic table, which Michael Allred has drawn, with multiple element people moving and transforming throughout the squares, which are both part of a single splash panel and tiny, implied panels, while talking and joking, their dialogue bolded and capitalized so that they’re announcing the element they’re in. It’s…wow. You guys gotta see this page. Here’s a terrible photograph of part of it:

Teen Titans: Oh, who really cares? No one gets killed in it, which makes it rather different than the other Titans stories that came out this week in Teen Titans and Blackest Night: Titans.

Strange Adventures: Back on Rann, and Lovern Kindzierski is still coloring Pope, so I guess the switch in colorists wasn’t simply to indicate a switch in settings/planets. At this point, I think it’s fair to declare this the most visually accomplished of the 15 features.

Supergirl: Supergirl takes Krypto and Streaky to Dr. Mid-Nite for an examination (which apparently includes brain scans via colanders with wires sticking out of ‘em), and the super-pets have a very alarming interest in Doc’s pet owl Charlie. Also, Conner sows us the inside of Dr. Mid-Nite’s refrigerator, something I didn’t even know I wanted to see until she drew it for us.

Metal Men: Wait, a Metal Man punctures Chemo’s shell, endangering the city…I swear I’ve read this exact same conflict before. A couple times.

Wonder Woman: Caldwell uses fewer panels than ever, and many of them are relatively large (particularly the huge splash devoted to giant wolf Fenris, which occupies a full third of the page), but it’s still kinda hard to follow, on account of the dialogue bubbles. I admire the hell out of Caldwell’s work here, but he loses the fight with the format more often than he wins it.

Sgt. Rock: Sgt. Rock has not killed a Nazi for eight weeks now.

The Flash: The small army of Flashes do something neat and Flash-y with their powers and, well, that’s about all this week.

The Demon/Catwoman: Okay, I’m afraid I don’t get why Morgan wants Catwoman’s younger, sexier body when Morgan doesn’t look any older than Catwoman in this strip. Should she have maybe been drawn all haggy and crone-y, instead of like Catwoman with a funny haircut, eyebrows and Kirby-designed hot pants…?

Also, I think “strike with the spellsword of lust” is the dirtiest thing I’ve ever read in a comic book.

Hawkman: One panel of Hawkgirl, two panels of Batman, Aquaman getting name-dropped, Kyle Baker’s wiggly “brontosaurus” silhouettes and a T-Rex wandering onto the scene…yeah, that makes for a pretty awesome page of comics.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Which character most enjoyed his appearance in Super Friends #18?

Amazo, the android who really likes his job destroying things and fighting superheroes...

...or self-satisfied Superman?


All of those images are drawn by the great J. Bone, and in most cases they're just small parts of single panels. Bone really fills the panels with so many fun little details that scanning the background players' expressions is enormously rewarding.

If Super Friends #18, which Sholly Fisch scripted, doesn't win the Eisner for best single issue next year, there is no justice in the universe. Because, you see, not only does the comic have smug, smirking Superman and happy dancing Amazo on, like, half it's pages, it also has two other things going for it:

1) Sad Batman:

2.) The Bizarro/Bizarro Flash race:
(Their expressions in that second panel just kill me).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meanwhile, on Cobra Island...


That was the alternate G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra "review" I planned, but I instead went with a series of head shots, which I thought was funnier and allowed me to draw a much more random assortment of characters. A little while later I decided to try drawing this one up for EDILW anyway, as it gave me a good excuse to watch old cartoons on YouTube while sketching out and drawing various Cobra villains. (Codpieces are very popular among the Cobra leadership, aren't they? Also, what's up with Destro's chest? Was he an early adopter of spray-tan or something? Dude looked positively orange from the neck down)

And as long as I'm sharing, here's the start of the random head shots post:

Originally I was going to do a full index card on each character, which would have resulted in a from-the-waist-up image instead of just a head-and-shoulders one, and allow room for other stuff, like Cobra Commander complaining about his mask in the movie.

Next to Snake-Eyes' creepy plastic lips, I think the mask that "Commander" dons was one of my least favorite parts of the movie (which, again, wasn't very good, but wasn't that bad either—like, not as bad as torture). Cobra Commander has two such super-awesome mask options already—the hood and the mirror helmet—that designining a newer, much lamer one for the film seemed really wrongheaded to me. (When I was a kid, I also hated the post-G.I. Joe: The Movie Commander's Iron Man-like suit, even though I did have that action figure).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This scene from Transformers: Perchance to Dream completely freaked me out:

Ravage...talking?! Wheeljack and I both shouted "Waaah!" at the exact same time.