Sunday, December 04, 2011

This week's link post...half-full of old links, 'cause I didn't do one last Sunday

If you only read comics blogs during the week, while you're at work, I'm jealous of your ability to walk away from the computer and do something more positive, healthy and no doubt more constructive on the weekends. But, if you so, you may have missed my Friday night post regarding Art Spiegelman, Maus and MetaMaus or my way too long post reviewing everything I had read, had read to me or watched over the past month or so.


Writer Ivan Brandon's complaints about sales chart analysis garnered quite a bit of attention, and sparked quite a bit of attention, around the blogosphere the last week or so. I first encountered the discussion here, at The Beat (If you click through to give it a read, read the comments thread too; as both creators and some of the complained-about analysts show up to discuss).

I think I can almost understand Brandon's frustration, if not the specific arguments made regarding the negative effects of analysis, but ultimately the fault seems to like with the direct market publishers and their leaders, Marvel and DC, who could publicize actual numbers (The argument that the estimates in the sales charts don't reflect actual units sold to sellers seems to be something that bugs Brian Wood; at this point, I've read more of his writing in comments on sales analysis than in comics, I think).

A less murky picture would also emerge if direct market functioned like other forms of publishing where retailers could return the portion of the units they ordered the they couldn't sell to customers, but, again, that would be a big change the the direct market distributors (Just Diamond, now?) and leaders would have to initiate. Analysts are only working with what they're given, so anyone complaining about any aspect of that is naturally going to seem like misplaced whining.


Mark Millar recently opined that comics should not be digitally distributed on the same day they are available in hard copy at brick-and-mortar comics shops. Based on my past experience that everything that Mark Millar says about anything is wrong, I guess that means digital comics should be released digitally on the same day they are available in shops.


Here's Kiel Phegley's November 22 piece about what seems to be up at Marvel regarding their serially published comics line. You should read it, if you haven't already. Here's Todd Allen responding, and here's Tom Spurgeon doing the same. I'm pretty sure several dozen others also had stuff to say about Phegley's piece and what it means regarding Marvel's uncertain present and future, but those are the only two URLs I copy-and-pasted after reading them.

Given Marvel's transition from a company that makes money by publishing copies to one that makes money by licensing IPs based on their comics, trimming the low-selling books like the one's about Wolverine's handsome, tattooed, sexually ambiguous son or the Canadian superhero team seems sort of illogical to me, as Spider-Man, Iron Man and the "main" Marvel characters are already so established that Marvels houldn't have much problem licensing them for videogames or tooth paste or whatever, whereas they have a huge character catalog with lots of under-explored corners that could use the sort of emphasis the company devoted to The Avengers characters a few years back to essentially make them the X-Men of the 'aughts.

On the other hand, I don't know jack shit about business, and it could very well be that sticking Squirrel Girl in a half-dozen issues of New Avengers is more than enough to get her in the public eye enough to help sell a Squirrel Girl cartoon pilot, and they needn't bother publishing a Squirrel Girl monthly to do that.


This was probably my favorite headline to a review of The Muppets.

I thought the movie was okay, but I sorta wished I hadn't watched the previews a million times or read any reviews first, as I had seen and/or heard about all the funny bits going in to the movie.

Also, I woulda preferred more Pepe and less Piggy. I hate Miss Piggy so much. I always have. I thought maybe it was simply that she was a girl and had cooties and that's why I hated her as a child growing up with the Muppets. But now I'm an adult, and I hate her even more.

Also also, it's kind of crazy to think that there was a Muppet movie where, say, Kermit's nephew Robin had zero lines, and Jason Segal had, like, 3,000, isn't it?

I do hope it does well enough that they make more, though. It was a strange feeling watching a movie with my niece in a theater full of kids and not be wearing 3D glasses and not looking at slick computer animation with a US Weekly's worth of celebrities slumming as voice actors, but instead be looking at a felt puppet that's only like four points of articulation away form a sock puppet on that giant screen....


Wow, some of these links have been laying around for a quite a while now. For example, here's one to a November 24 piece in The Guardian by Rick Moody headlined "Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood". (The sub-head? "Fans were shocked when Batman writer Frank Miller furiously attacked the Occupy movement. THey shouldn't have been, says Rick Moody—he was just voicing Hollywood's unspoken values").

Moody brings up the popular reading of 300 as a three-cheer endorsement of the Bush Administration's many wars, a reading I've always felt the film itself rejects, perhaps inadvertently.

The popular reading is to think of Sparta as a stand-in for the U.S. (although I think it would be awfully hard to find 300 Americans with abs like that) since they are, um, white and a Democracy and, uh, slightly to the West of Persian and, um...I guess that's it...? And, in that reading, Persia is Whoever America Is Fighting, probably "The Terrorists," or "Arabs" or "The Middle East" or "Foreigners," depending on how xenophobic the particular viewer might be (or how xenophobic they want to believe the folks who made the movie are).

But the Spartans are the underdogs in that movie, defending their tiny nation-state against a vastly superior military force intent on invading and conquering it. It's hard to fit the U.S. in that Sparta-shaped space.

Whereas the Persian army seems a lot more equivalent to the United States, as they are a massive military power—the most powerful in the entire world—and are comprised of people and technology from all over the world. They are an empire, and they are invading a much smaller, weaker country's homeland.

The weirdest thing about reading Moody's piece for me, however, was seeing him use the word "cryptofascist" over and over again while talking about a post on Frank Miller's blog, where Miller had previously posted this drawing.


In other old news, I guess writer James Robinson is worried that his new limited series The Shade isn't being ordered by shops in very large numbers, and that the orders are so low that DC might even cancel it before all 12 issues are published. (That, or he's come up with a neat form of marketing his book).

I find this kind of fascinating.

The Shade seems made for trade-waiting. It's a limited series, but it's long enough—12 issues—that it's not in either the I Would Like To Read This Indefinitely category or the I'll Give This A Shot Since It's Only A Couple Of Issues category of comics. It's setting and relevance are also in question, given that it appears to be set in the pre-New 52 DCU, not the post-Flashpoint New 52 U, in which The Shade and his history as fans have come to know and love it can even exist. I was curious about the book because it was announced with such a stellar art line-up—each issue by different artists which, further down the line, were to include the likes of Jill Thompson—but given Robinson's recent track record and my uncertainty about the state of The Shade, I wanted to wait until the reviews were in.

I'm sure part of the problem is that DC ruined James Robinson's "brand" over the course of the last few years (And/or James Robinson ruined his own brand by writing all those shitty comics for DC that erased a lot of the goodwill he had built up as the writer of Starman).

Beat writer Allen mentions Robinson's fallen profile among many fans in his piece, and he also mentions that The Shade has been out of the public eye for so long that it might make the mini a hard sell. I disagree on that point. Robinson has kept The Shade front and center for much of his writing since returning to DC after the "One Year Later" jump; The Shade was featured prominently in Cry For Justice and Robinson's JLoA run, and he was the star of the Starman issue of that neat Blackest Night stunt, in which DC published temporarily-uncancelled "zombie" books for one issue each.

I think because of DC's focus on promoting the everything is new aspect of their New 52 initiative, anything from the old, apparently nonexistent continuitiverse is going to be regarded with a lot of suspicion by a lot of DC fans. A Batman or Superman or Green Lantern book set in the old continuity, or in its own continuity could probably survive easily, but a supporting character from a popular '90s series? Probably not so much.

The discussion about The Shade's sales and possible fates really makes me wonder about DC's panned JSA book...or anything DC might hope to set outside of their New 52 in teh future. The reboot certainly helped sales, but did it limit the types of comics and comics characters that DC can publish now? That is, are the Golden Age characters going to be unusable while the five-year, Superman-was-the-first-superhero-and-he-debuted in 2006 timeline is in effect?


By the way, I wonder why DC chose to introduce Mister Terrific into the New 52, but not any of the other Golden Age heroes? Certainly Hawkman, The Flash, Green Lantern and The Atom couldn't appear without queering things with their Silver Age iterations, but what about the Justice Society guys who Julius Schwartz didn't use as source material for the Sivler Age? Like, why can't there be twenty-something versions of the original Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Starman, Johnny Thunder and Wildcat running around The New 52 alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman?


Remember: Ross Campbell is awesome.


That's your Lizard, Amazing Spider-Man movie? Labcoat or GTFO


Rich Johnston is saying his anonymous, maybe not even completely made-up sources are telling him that DC has green-lighted the more Watchmen comics that Rich Johnston often reports DC is planning on publishing, perhaps because, as Abhay Khosla notes, "Bloggers need to buy Christmas presents."

I really can't imagine DC ever doing more Watchmen comics of any kind, given the PR damage it would do vs. the sales benefit (Even if they do, say, a half-dozen four-issue minseries, probably by the same folks who have been doing all their shitty Flashpoint minis and New 52 series, because not only is DC not that great at getting great talent to make their comics anymore, anything perceived as pissing in Alan Moore's direction is going to turn off a lot of the potential talent pool, and even if all of those series sell, say, 150K units for their number ones, is that really worth it? Especially when you consider the prequels will lack the long shelf life of the original?).

The more I think about it though, I hope that if the ever really do pull the trigger, they just go as crazy with it as possible, and with such a "Fuck it, let's do this crazy thing no one ever thought we would have the balls to do and do it as obnoxiously as possible" attitude that you can't help but admire them.

I want it to be totally crass and totally Hollywood. I want it to eclipse the number of Blackest Night and Flashpoint tie-ins. I want a youthboot. I want gender-swapped version of the characters. I want all of the character to be black for some reason this time. I want Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I want Jeph Loeb and Rob Liefeld. I want Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. I want Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld. I want Jim Balent. I want a Christmas special. Hell, call it Watchmen 2: We're Just Doing It For the Money, Obviously. I want a plastic cover incentive with puddles of ink in it that makes the cover of one issue look like Rorshachs's mask, only clumsily and cheaply. It' stoo bad that Marvel own Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis, because those dudes would be perfect for this project. Stan Lee! Imagine Stan Lee Creating...Watchmen. Oh, get Jason Aaron. That dude was all like, "Fuck Alan Moore for not liking my comics." Let him fuck with an Alan Moore comic. Watchmen Zombies. Watchmen Apes. Poines, bears, sea elephants, whatever. If they're gonna do it, they should do it. I don't want to see a Phantom Menace to Moore and Gibbons' original Star Wars trilogy, I want to see Dancer in the Dark, Human Centipede and Un Chien Andalou to it.


Actually, you know what? DC's current co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee are a comics writer and a comics artist, respectively. If they really feel strongly that there's more to Watchmen than what DC originally published, then they should do it them damn selves.


God, I love it when Abhay reviews comics. Here he completely destroys The Homeland Directive (or does he?).

I can't agree or disagree with his assessment of the book. I borrowed the trade form the library and started reading it, expecting to need to fill a hole with a comic review, and when the hole closed up, I quit reading. I didn't get very far. Not wanting to finish it is probably a reveiw of sorts in itself, but now I don't remember the exact circumstances. Maybe I was really busy at work that week or something. I don't recall. I did manage to read the 300-page hardcover of X-Force Vol. 1, by four different writers and four different artists, the other night in one sitting, and that was pretty terrible in every way. But it did have Wolverine in it. Maybe that makes all the difference? Maybe if Wolverine was the star of Homeland Directive, or if they just gave the star Wolverine hair and fist-knives, I would have finished that in one sitting too...?

I like Kholsa's idea of writers pitching high-concept movies via postcard instead of comic book miniseries, too. Like the postcard of that fake movie poster that he ran with his review? All I know about it is the information on that poster, and I want to see that movie that I'd kill a person to see it. Not someone I know, but, like, a stranger maybe. Or a particularly annoying neighbor.


Please note that I would never actually ever kill a person. Especially if you are a member of law enforcement, or a spy reading comics blogs to report nefarious activities to a government agent, or one of my particularly annoying neighbors. I was totally just kidding, and exaggerating to hyperbolically make the point that I would like to see a movie in which the Taliban trains dinosaurs (Actually, I'd like to see any movie with dinosaurs). I am a pacificst. I am a vegetarian. I will not even eat a piece of a dead animal's body that was killed by someone else and disguised as something other than a piece of a dead animal's body.


Hey, John Carter of Mars and I have the same initials!Now what am I gonna put on my movie poster?


Finally, something really sad happened this week. The character Teddy Montgomery moved away in 90210 this week, signaling the end of the character's presence on the show, and actor Trevor Donovan's place in the ensemble cast.Good luck in your future endeavors Mr. Donovan, and we'll miss you Teddy!


Anonymous said...

I think the logic of the 300 interpretation is that, although in reality the US is like Persia, its self-image post-2001 was of a nation besieged by a more powerful alien force that posed an existential threat. cf. War of the Worlds, Battlestar Galactica and, more recently, a certain Holy Terror. This may be a delusional self-image but, well, that's never been an obstacle to any nation...

SallyP said...

That was a very nice picture of a handsome young man at the end. Is it just me, or would he make a great looking Booster Gold?

David said...

I think your movie poster would be half the top of your bald head, peaking through the side, and the text SUMMER 201#. You know, no title or anything, just a teaser like everyone knows what it's referring to.

And then the second poster would have you posed goofily with everyone in the supporting cast clustered behind you, and a tagline in red text on a white background at the top of the poster, and the movie's title in a kind of fake dark orange adventurish font at the bottom.

Caleb said...

That was a very nice picture of a handsome young man at the end. Is it just me, or would he make a great looking Booster Gold?

I was thinking Aquaman, but I guess there IS supposedly a Booster Gold television show in development now, huh...?