Sunday, December 18, 2011

Links and sundry

In addition to a scene where Batman gets his ass kicked harder than at pretty much any other point in his career—including being set on fire and having the pointy side of a shove embedded in his chest cavity—Batman: Birth of The Demon features something else I don't recall seeing in any other Batman comics I've ever read: Ra's al Ghul's bare ass. That's him above, fighting the dark, winged monster he encounters in his dreams, which gradually takes the shape of Batman through the centuries of dreaming. The image is, of course, by Norm Breyfogle.

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I didn't end up using the above image in that piece I wrote about Ragman for Robot 6 this week, opting instead for an image from a house ad that Ragman creator Joe Kubert did for the original 1976 series, but I really like it, and went to the trouble of cropping it, so I'll just stick it here.

It's from the cover of the second issue of 1993 miniseries, Ragman: Cry of The Dead and, of course, by Joe Kubert. Kubert provided all six covers for the series, and they are all really beautiful. (Look here at comics.org, if you like). Kubert's now at the point in his career where he can draw anything he wants, or nothing at all, if he wants, so I imagine whatever's on his drawing board at the moment is exactly what he wants to be there. Still, I would love to read a full Ragman story drawn by Kubert now...

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Speaking of images I prepared but didn't ultimately use, here are two weird scans from that X-Force collection I wrote about early in the week. I singled those images, both from the same scene in the Clayton Crain-illustrated "Angels and Demons" storyline, because I didn't understand them at all. That is, of course, Rahne "Wolfsbane" Sinclair, whose mutant power is that she is basically just a werewolf who can control her transformations.

In every other scene, Crain drew her with a pretty standard wereolf head, an organic-looking head with furry brown flesh over a face with a long canine snout (although in some panels it look more like that of a rodent). At any rate, in the above images, Wolfsbane looks like an entirely different animal. The first image made me think of an Egyptian hieroglyphic version of a jackal head, but, in the second, her face seems to be made out of black PVC, and her mouth has disappeared. That humanoid-shaped figure is also here and, again, rather than having a human face with human flesh, she's drawn with a weird black, plastic face, and missing features like a nose or mouth.

That scene confused the hell out of me when I first read it, and I went back and reread it immediately to see if I was missing something.

Don't get me wrong, it's kind of cool-looking—and it's additionally cool in that it differentiates her mutant ability to turn into a wolf-like monster from just being a garden variety werewolf—but it's so different from Crain's previous depictions of her that it seemed like I was missing something.

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Jerry Robinson died last week. I didn't ay anything last week, as I didn't have anything to say that dozens of others couldn't say better. I'm thankful for the work that Robinson did and the way it enriched my imaginative life, and I'm even more thankful for all the work Robinson did that I wasn't even aware of until I had already grown up. Here is Tom Spurgeon's "Collective Memory" round-up of various eulogies and remembrances.

As it turned out, Robinson's passing was only the beginning of what became a pretty rough week for the comics community, as his fellow Golden Age giant Joe Simon also died this week, as did the much-too young Eduardo Barreto . Here is Spurgeon's collection of Simon posts and articles, and here is his obituary for Barreto. (I imagine a Collective Memory post will follow tomorrow).


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Hey, who wants to read something else depressing?

Then check out this piece by Gerry Alanguilan, about how the changing technology and trends in comics-making can mean there's less and less work for comics artists who specialize in inking and lettering.

I know that, on a certain do-it-yourself level, it's simple desperation that leads folks to turn to computers for things like lettering. I wanted to hire a talented letterer to hand-letter my comics, but, having no money, I then decided to try and teach myself to computer-letter them. But it was way too hard for me to do so, so I ended up poorly hand-lettering them myself (I'm still pretty rotten at it, and I have particular trouble with the bubbles and tails, but I've decided I like even my own shitty hand-lettering better than computerized lettering. But, in a perfect world, where I had millions in lottery winnings to pay folks to help me produce my shitty little comics about hobbits and Mothman? I'd hire Steve Lavinge or someone to hand-letter things for me).

Alanguilan discusses computerized inking and lettering vs. the old-fashioned way in terms of jobs, but I'd also like to point out that eight times out of ten, computer-driven stuff looks fucking terrible compared to old-fashioned inks on top of pencils, and/or letters drawn right into the panel before it's inked. Especially the lack of inks in favor of coloring from pencils (Unless the artists are using computer programs that replicate the application of inks to pencils, anyway). In general, the colors-on-pencils style tends to look fuzzy, soft and—to me—nausea-inducing. A lot of publishers and editors seem to prefer that fumetti-like look, and it must sell, but It doesn't produce any excellent comics. (Via Comics Reporter)

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Hey, look at these lovely Richard Sala Christmas images! Nice to see Peculia hanging out with a nicer sort of supernatural figure than she usually gets to...

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Retailer, blogger and Swamp Thing-er Mike Sterling conducts an impromptu survey of DC's "New 52." I started with five (Justice League, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Justice League Dark) and I've dropped two (Justice League, due to price, and Justice League Dark due to the art style).

Wonder Woman is the only one of the three I'm still reading that I would go to the mat for and argue is good-good; Green Lantern and Aquaman both hit that sweet stupid/awesome spot that Geoff Johns so often hits with me, and features pretty good (Aquaman) to really great (Green Lantern) art.

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Hooray! Given the creative team, I hope this Superman Family Adventures is more in keeping with their Tiny Titans than with their work on Magic of Shazam or Young Justice. From the very little we can see in that cover, I'm assuming it is.

Hey, three months after "The New 52" debuted, DC unveils a book aimed at new readers! (And that I am legitimately excited to start buying and reading as soon as possible!)

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Here's the trailer for the next G.I. Joe movie.

Here was my original reaction: What the F...?

The 2009 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra spent so much time—waaaayyy toooooo much time—setting up a franchise,including origin stories for Cobra Commander and Destro, and those guys aren't even in the sequel? Also missing, Scarlett, General Hawk, The Baroness... Jeez. Something obviously went really wrong between the first and second installments.

I'm still bummed most of my favorite characters still don't seem to be in in it in any capacity, with the exception of Lady Jaye, who joins the cast of this second installment. Unfortunately, it looks like she'sbeing played by TV actress, Ohioan and almost-Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki, instead of my first choice, Hannah Spearritt.

No one ever asks my advice on these pressing matters...

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Okay, I give up. Who is that lady with guns on the cover of Avengers Vs. X-Men...?

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Here's a well-timed piece from NPR's Monkey See blog, "The 20 Unhappiest People You'll Meet In The Comments Sections of Year-End Lists."

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Yeesh, check out the choices on USA Today's list of the best graphic novels of 2011, relatively few of which qualify as such, unless they're using the loosest definition possible for "graphic novel"; that is, bound comics with a spine.

Two of them are collections of comic strips (xkcd, Hark! A Vagrant), at least one is a collection of a miniseries telling a story that doesn't even really begin or end between its own covers (Flashpoint), another is an anthology collection of various shorts by a single author (Bob Powell's Terror) and the even included DC's The New 52 collection, which is every #1 issue of their 52 September-launched monthlies between a single set of covers. Its inclusion on the list should make eve DC Comics uncomfortable; that's about as far away from a "graphic novel" as you can get while still being comics; it's the first chapter of 52 different "graphic novels," if one wants to consider eventual trades collecting story arcs as graphic novels.

Given those choices, whether or not it matters that The Death-Ray and Walt Simonson's Thor comic are reprints from comics that range from a few years to a few decades old doesn't even seem worth considering when it comes to assessing the best work of the year 2011.

Three different guys put the list together, and each includes something that is totally not a graphic novel, no matter how you look at it the work chosen or the definition of "graphic novel." The list reads like a list a newspaper would put together if the feature editor looked at the pile of unread comp copies publishers sent them in the last few months and simply picked the ones with the covers they liked best and copied some copy from the back-covers.

Man, don't even click on that link, which will take you to Robot 6's link to the USA Today article and, if you do, don't click on their link to the USA Today list. Not unless you wanna read a newspaper feature that will make you wanna punch some motherfuckers in the face.

Jesus. The New 52. Better than 99.9% of all other bound comics published in 2011!

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By the way, I'm totally dreading putting together a best-of list for the year. That shit is hard work. If only I wrote for USA Today, I could just name the last few comics I read, call those the best graphic novels of 2011 and collect my paycheck....

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Holy shit. Holy shit.

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Kiel Phegley threw questions at Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso in Comic Book Resources's regular column devoted to that, and one of them pertained to Gambit playing a role in the upcoming Avengers Vs. X-Men event/story. Alonso answered:

Though he's on the cover of "AVX" #1, Gambit doesn't yet have a strong presence in the story. But we have been discussing the possibility of a "Gambit" ongoing series. On second thought, maybe not. I mean, who likes Gambit…?

No one, that's who!

There are some interesting tidbits in there. Those features are always very, very hard to get real, valuable information out of, because someone in Alonso's position can only be so honest/volunteer so much information, but it's nice to hear his thoughts on a few of the subjects brought up. Even if some of the answers—like the one about why there will be more Avengers and X-Men comics than Truth or X-Statix-like projects—are kind of super-depressing.

5 comments:

Kate said...

The "lady with the guns" is Hope Summers. Mutant messiah, daughter of Cable (and therefore granddaughter of Cyclops), star of the Generation Hope comic.

JRC, the OWL Says Who said...

what exactly are you "holy shit"ing? The depth of the post in general, or was their a specific aspect?

George S. said...

As much as I love Hannah Spearitt (and I freaking LOVE Hannah Spearitt), she's too cute to be Lady Jaye.

But then again, they cast JGL as Cobra Commander, so what do I know?

Nick Ahlhelm said...

Cobra Commander is in the trailer for the new G.I. Joe. He's just not pointlessly played by an actor with any kind of name value.

I think to make sure this G.I. Joe makes money domestically, most of the cast of the first needed to be written out. Baroness and Destro were handled imcompetently and everyone pretty much hated Ripcord and disliked Scarlett. Offing them is a bit extreme, but I much prefer Snake-Eyes and the new cast. My fingers are crossed that Duke dies as well, but I have doubts about that.

Caleb said...

Kate,

Thanks! That makes sense.


JRC,

The size and scope, mostly. But everything to a certain extent.


George,

I thought JGL woulda been a terrible Commander, but he did a great version of the voice...which is basically all Cobra Commander SHOULD be once he's hooded/masked up. (Which I would preferred they do from the get-go, rather than the convoluted back-story tying a bunch of characters together).

Nick,

I thought I saw a second of someone with a shiny mask in the preview, but I wasn't sure if that was supposed to be Cobra Commander or just some random Viper or something. It seems like the leader of Cobra should get some more trailer-time to me. Anyway, I didn't see anyone in the credits playing Cobra Commander at all.

I agree they did really poorly introducing those characters, but since they made a whole movie about Cobra Commander and Destro becoming Cobra Commander and Destro, I think it's weird they just totally dropped 'em.

I don't remember actually liking anyone from the first movie. I remember being surprised by JGL and impressed with his voice. And...hm. Not disliking Snake-Eyes or Storm Shadow. Oh, and the lady who played Scarlet was pretty.