200903310355§ Two from THE SAVAGE CRITIC:
Abhay Khosla finds a stack of old comics and does the “you can’t go home again” thing:

Stray Bullets #3 by Dave Lapham: This issue is titled “The Party,” but it doesn’t have Lapham’s best party scene in it. For that, you want issue #5, the first Orson issue. But I remember when this comic first started coming out being so excited, going out-of-my-head excited, that the page numbers continued from issue to issue. You know, how if issue #2 ended at page 45, then issue #3 started at page 46…? Oh, man!

It’s a strange detail to be excited by but I think a lot of people overlook how much those little details can matter for fans. The letter page in the old Bendis Jinx comics, the page numbers in Stray Bullets, the lettering in American Flagg– just some hint that there’s something going on, some extra bit of work being invested.

The new comics I’ve seen? Can I really tell any of them apart? The Great Unknown has a one-color all-blue color scheme, but even that’s becoming a thing now, maybe.

While it’s an excellent piece, you do need to be careful with this “comics were fresher then” thing. They were fresh to US. It’s unlikely that some of today’s comics strike new readers with the same kind of freshness.

Likewise, Jeff Lester looks back at his comics sacred cows

But over time, as you get older, you watch most of your sacred cows get a bolt in their brain, hung upside down and bled, cut into parts. Then you are offered the chance to plunk down some cash so you can bite into that extra-thick and juicy hamburger formerly known as your sacred cow. And some of us bite deep into that burger just so we can complain knowledgeably about what a horrible waste, a sacrilege, a defilement of the divine, the burger’s production is. And some of us realize the sacred cows were never grazing in our pasture, and we either stay because we like the view, or we split.

Or, you know, every so often, in mid-self-righteous mouthful,we find ourselves going, ‘this is one damn tasty burger.’ I was not a big fan of bringing Bucky back, but god-damned if Brubaker didn’t grill that shit up and serve it to me with thick-sliced onions and a side of bacon. I was incredibly annoyed at how lame ‘One More Day’ was, but on the next-to-last page, I was a little bummed Gwen Stacy wasn’t right there next to Harry Osborn–as long as you’re gonna defile the church, people, fornicate on the altar, not in the pews.

§ Steve Duin profiles Paul Hornschemeier prior to an upcoming art show.

That’s right: Zeno’s Paradoxes. Hornschemeier is, after all, the son of a lawyer and a federal judge; his older sister is an astrophysicist, his younger sister pursuing her Masters in Education while working at the Death Penalty Clinic at DePaul University’s law school.

“Achievement was the baseline in our family,” he notes, and it is the hallmark of his career. “Not only does he grapple with the big questions,” Schutz said, “but he’s really, really smart.”

§ Timmy Williams, from the comedy troupe, The Whitest Kids You Know, is writing a column for The Daily Cross Hatch:

I Woke Up Today Wondering, “Will Warren Beatty Ever Do Something With His Dick Tracy Rights? And Now Look At This!

* I really was thinking about that when I woke up today. Now I find this article just a few hours later. This can only mean one thing: the Internet is spying on us in our sleep (was there ever any doubt though?). And yes, I do realize that I totally missed out on a great “Warren Beatty May Lose His Dick” joke, but I’m a little too classy for that. Or am I?

§ Speaking of the Daily Cross Hatch, Adri Cowan has taken over writing the news roundup, The Cross Hatch Dispatch, so yay, one more source for us to borrow from!

§ QUESTION: Does Victoria Beckham emulate The Flash?

Our answer: No.

To expand on that: No.

§ Film Fodder interviews Larry Hama:

Larry Hama: I stopped buying comics back in the sixties. I used to get comics for free from both Marvel and DC, so I would at least look at the pictures. If I can’t tell what the story is about by just looking at the pictures, I’m not interested. The companies have not comped me on comics for close to twenty years, so I have no idea what is going on in the story lines. I have a lot of problems with the concept of guys in masks dispensing “justice” according to their own standards. It’s easy to rationalize these actions by having stories where the characters are troubled and conflicted by their own actions, but that is just white-washing the unpleasant truth.

§ Digital City interviews Comics Book Club co-host Alexander Zalben and we learned many things:

Did you ever feel nervous around a guest?

There’s always a moment where, if we have a celebrity, or someone who is one of my favorite writers or artists on the show, when they walk in the room … It’s very weird. And then you have to sit on stage with them for an hour, and make fun of them to their face (to be fair, you don’t have to do this, but I like to), so you get over it very quickly. I think they things I have been most nervous about are guests that have had something public and, say, negative. We had one of the producers of The Spirit (the movie, which was universally panned) on the show a few weeks ago, and I was really nervous about bringing it up. But I pushed through, asked him in a way that, hopefully, wasn’t confrontational, and we had a great discussion about what went wrong, and what went right. In summary, people aren’t nearly as intimidating, or as sensitive as I thought they would be before doing this show.


  1. Part of “going home again” is that… back then, we were innocent, naive, unspoilt. We bought every crossover issue of Secret Wars II and Millennium. We were excited when Spider-Man got a new costume, or Captain America quit, or when Thor turned into a Frog of Thunder, or when somebody died.

    Some of it is worth rereading. John Byrne’s (and Walt Simonson’s) Fantastic Four stories are fun (and WS’s time-jump battle between Reed and Doom is still groundbreaking!) Early Excalibur is beautiful and entertaining. Tales of the Beanworld, Concrete, Neil the Horse… it’s still good stuff. And there’s new stuff that’s just as good, like American Born Chinese.

    I may not laugh uncontrollably at a Tex Avery cartoon, but I still chuckle when the wolf is whistling “Kingdom Coming” and introduces himself to the audience. Watchmen might not thrill as I read it for the seventeenth time, but I can still marvel at its mastery.

    I visit my family fairly regularly, love them all, but wouldn’t want to move back. That’s how I feel about comics I read back in the *sigh* 1980s.

  2. I’m one of the people who believe that Marvel published its best comics in the ’70s. Current Marvel writers still rely on ’70s storylines and characters for their work. If there was a fire — I’d save Englehart’s AVENGERS and Dr. STRANGE runs over every other comic I own. The writers back then had different, and better, attitudes toward the characters and the overall stories.

    I’m afraid that if the current trend of using screenwriters and emulating screenwriters accelerates, the writing in superhero comics will get worse. The nadir might have already been reached, though, in GIANT-SIZE ASTONISHING X-MEN #1, when Whedon demanded that readers just imagine that the Retaliator could somehow threaten Earth. I can’t imagine Roy Thomas approving that plot. How many other (screen)writers are going to view artwork as special effects?

    I don’t agree that continuity is a trap. The stories that create the most continuity problems are the “events” that are decried, anyway. Preventing significant continuity problems is a matter of letting series proceed with storylines independently and exerting tight editorial control so that when crossovers do occur, they work.


  3. I’m a bit confused. Are you saying that people who are new to comics (either in general or of the periodical superhero variety) don’t get struck and awed a bit by the stories they’re reading today? I mean, I’ve had tons of people talk to me over the past two or three years about how Persepolis wowed them and I’ve gotten a great response lending things like Scott Pilgrim and Grickle to my non-comics reading friends. And even in the traditional fanboy side of things, I’ve seen those rare 11 to 14-year-olds sitting around comic shops and getting all heated up about Secret Invasion and the like. Are you trying to say there’s something about today’s comics that aren’t as new to the uninitiated, or is that a typo?

  4. “It’s unlikely that some of today’s comics strike new readers with the same kind of freshness.”

    I believe that can be interpreted as written. The potential readership is much more used to visual entertainment than they were in the ’70s, and the stories in superhero titles rely much more on recycled concepts, or ideas taken from movies, TV programs, and video games.


  5. I still think that viewing things that way is an extremely myopic view of comics as a whole, and even if you’re looking only at the mainstream superhero titles out there these days, the idea that new readers will find them recycled or too based on other media assumes way too much and doesn’t account for the fact that even the more tepid superhero comics out there these days still work their own genre beats in ways that most consumers aren’t used to seeing in even the best comic movies like Iron Man or Dark Knight.

    So, agree to disagree I guess.

  6. “. . . even the more tepid superhero comics out there these days still work their own genre beats. . .”

    One can’t anticipate how an individual reader will react to a comic — I wouldn’t try to anticipate how a newbie would react to an non-superhero story — but an example of some of the worst storytelling in superhero comics is Slott’s MIGHTY AVENGERS (#21-#23) arc.

    Slott recycles plot material from AVENGERS #186-#187, published 30 years ago; bases the interaction of Pym and Stark largely on the conclusion to SECRET INVASION, which had a childish view of how computer networks operate; and blows the climax, because Slott apparently doesn’t understand magic well enough to realize that Chthon wouldn’t have to speak spells to utilize his own power. I wasn’t impressed by the gimmicky ending, either.

    Unless Slott wrote himself into a corner and hoped nobody would notice how weak the “spells” tactic was, the premise was flawed from the start, and the storyline should have been replotted or abandoned. Using a 30-year-old story as the basis for the new one would turn off at least some new readers.

    Slott isn’t the worst writer out there, but if a storyline he wrote could be that bad, how do worse ones read?


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