Thursday, March 18, 2004

Notable Links for 03/18

Oh, man, these superheroes will be the death of me.

I turn my back for one minute and you people go all superhero nuts on me again. You would think this topic would at some point exhaust its interest, but apperantly not. Sean T. Collins has a rundown on the recent rounds of this whole enchilada here. As he puts it so adroitly, it is another tedious kurfluffle, perhaps even the very definition of a tedious kerfluffle.

Its especially interesting to read Christopher Butcher's response, seeing him coming back swingin' and all... I don't know why people take this so seriously. I mean, you'd think we were attacking their sacred cows or something. They get kinda hostile, or at the very least defensive, when you present an alternative opinion. You got hostile back. Admittedly, as Steve at Peiratikos points out here, it all kinda gets out of hand eventually. This is one of the reasons I quit posting on the Journal board lo those many years ago... as much as I love the discourse, it always gets out of hand eventually. (I imagine its only a matter of time before it happens again... every time I get into any sort of net community type thing it always falls apart. That's why I try to only post in the Gutters these days. Seriously, if you see me topside, its usually not for long.)

I'm kind of glad that I've become the William F. Buckley of the super-hero "hatas". I mean, that's cool. But I would like to take this moment to point out a few things that you might not know about me:

1) I don't discriminate between corporate superheroes and creator owned superheroes. If a book is enjoyable, I'll buy it. Likewise, whomever happens to own any particular trademark is ultimately irrelevant. Now, you are probably more likely to get something artistically meaningful out of something you personally own than a corporate trademark... but that's just my opinion. Its certainly an opinion that even I can think of any number of exceptions to but - the fact remains, I believe as a broad rule this is a good one by which to live your life.

2) I don't have a hard-on against Marvel. On a week-to-week basis, I probably give more money to Marvel than any other publisher (this is simply based on the fact that "Fantastic Four" comes out every month and most good indie titles do not). I regard Marvel as I would any corporation: they're not looking out for my best interest, they want my money. If they provide a product I want, I'll gladly give them my money, as I did earlier today when I bought the new issues of "Fantastic Four," "Daredevil," and "Thanos." But except in extraordinary cases, I will regard any superhero comic from Marvel or DC to be the artistic equivilent of a processed beef patty at McDonalds. (Keep in mind, however, that I really like Big Macs.) The burden of proof is on them, people.

3) I've never read "Powers," or "The Authority." I own maybe two issues of "Hellboy." The first two I basically just missed the bus on, and intend to catch up with in the trades, someday when I'm rich and am swimming in my dollar-sign shaped champagne-filled swimming pool. The third boils down to the fact that I've always been kinda cold on Mignola's work, for some odd reason. Maybe someday I'll break down and get the "Seed of Destruction" trade, maybe not. I dunno.

4) There is no four. Yeah, its an old joke.

Anyway, on to the show. Speaking of the latest "Fantastic Four," (#511) I am really torn by this one. On the one hand, it was a very clever ending and it played pretty well. On the other... well, I was not fond of Waid on "Flash" (which is a book I only ever occasionally bought to begin with) because he had a tendency towards really sappy and contrived endings. Like, the one where he and Linda defeat Neron with the power of their love, for God's sake, or any of the ones where Wally comes through and saves the day because, um, well, he just sorta tries real hard or something. I still can never forgive him for the sheer stupidity of the whole "Ka-Zar defeating Thanos in hand-to-hand combat" thing, and am glad that no-one stopped Starlin from basically retconning that entire awful story out of existence (that was one clone revelation I was not sorry to see!)

So, as I said, it was a nice bit of conceit, but on the other hand it was basically the biggest "deux ex machina" in the entire history of comics. Literally, you have one team-member dead and another hideously disfigured... so lets have God fix things. As cool as it was to see God the way we saw him (which I won't give away) it was still kinda stupid, ultimately. So, as cool as the build up was, the story floundered for me on that point. Not that we didn't expect them to get fixed up eventually, but c'mon, at least when Tom DeFalco had Wolverine carve Ben's face, he had the scars for a good three or four years. (Hey - DeFalco killed Reed and disfigured Ben, Waid killed Ben and disfigured Reed. Hmmmm.)

I'm a bit bummed that no one said much about my big "Cerebus" piece. Not that I'm an attention whore or something, but I thought it would elicit some kind of reaction. Oh well. I'm considering doing another review of #300... which would be the flip-side of what I actually wrote, examing how "Cerebus" was a failure for Dave Sim and how Sim ended up by betraying himself and his creation. Strangely, I think I could write that with as much earnest rigor as I wrote the first one. That's the kind of odd, multi-tiered thinking "Cerebus" inspires.

* The Central Asian and Southern Caucasian Freedom of Expression Network has delivered a stunningly horrific overview of Iran's systematic journalistic repression for the year 2003 here. Among myriad cases of repressio nand intimidation, CASCFEN reports that:

" November Nikahang Kowsar, an editorial cartoonist, was threatened with death by a clandestine group in Iran which calls itself 'For the Good of Islam'. They had apparently put Nikahang Kowsar on their death list. Some other individuals who were put on the death list by "For the Good of Islam" are outside of Iran. The police in those countries have already been informed concerning possible danger to these individuals."

* Has Diamond owner Steve Geppi become embroiled in some sort of political scandal in the state of Maryland? Honestly, I have no idea, but this article hints at just that (courtesy of the Baltimore Sun).

* "Members of the Chicago Fire Department, from the firehouses on up to the top firefighter at City Hall are hopping mad over a Chicago Tribune editorial cartoon that ran in the newspaper on Sunday. The cartoon [by Jim McNally] depicts three white Chicago firefighters shooting water at three black men up against a wall with their hands behind their heads. A couple of dogs with the firefighters snarl at the black men and a fourth firefighter shouts to the others, 'No, guys...the fire's over there,' as he points to a building in the opposite direction." Read more here, courtesy of Chicago Business.

* Here's some authentic good news for a change: Marvel has apparently decided to do right by long-suffering artist and "All-New, All-Different" X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum. While details remain confidential, Neal Adams emerged from his semi-retirement in order to help hammer out the details of the settlement, described as "equitable to both Cockrum and Marvel", and significant enough to allow the Cockrum's to "securely enjoy their retirement." Cockrum had been hospitalized since December of 2003 with complications from pneumonia and diabetes, and possibly a stroke as well. Read about it here, courtesy of Silver Bullet Comics.

I'd like to congratulate Cockrum on his continued recovery and wish him the best. We should all thank Cliffard Meth and Neal Adams for their part in helping to ameliorate this conflict - its been a while but its nice to know that Neal Adams is still as stridently committed to the rights of comics creators as he ever was.

* British political cartoonist Trog (AKA Wally Fawkes) was named Cartoonist of the Year at the British Press Awards, earning prais for a "lifetime of brilliant observation". Read about the awards here, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph.

* John Thibault examines "Boondocks" cartoonist Aaron McGruder from the perspective of the fringe-right here, courtesy of

* Comix raconteur Art Spiegelman is beginning to regret agreeing to deliver his famous "Comix 101" presentation at Northeastern University: he won't be allowed to smoke during the presentation. Read about his reluctance here (second item down), courtesy of the Boston Globe. Again, I ask: why has no one produced a DVD of this lecture? Sounds like a grand idea to me (but what do I know?).

* "The 2-year-old Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, now located at 32 Union Square East, is moving to 2,500 square feet at 594 Broadway and expanding its programming. The nonprofit art and educational museum is dedicated to the study and preservation of cartoon art. Its new building owner, Jeffrey Gural of Newmark, is also on the museum's board of advisers and gave it a break in the rent." That's about it, but you can read it here, courtesy of the New York Post.

* Gardner Linn examines the work of "Mother Come Home" and "Forlorn Funnies" cartoonist Paul Hornschemeier here. Link courtesy of Alan David Doane, or, as I like to call him, A-Dawg.

* Also courtesy of A-Dawg, here's one I missed: an interview with Alan Moore on the occasion of the opening of a new Belgian art exhibit celebrating his career. Link courtesy of

* The Taipei Times examines a recent storyline in the popular Manga "Golgo 13" that used the current fright over American currency fluctuations as a prominent plot point. The economic intrigue begins here.

* Michael Deeley over at Silver Bullet Comics takes a look at the soon-to-be deceased Raijin comics here.

* Sean T. Collins has a word with the always-slippery but never-boring Larry Young, publisher of AIT/Planet Lar books, here. Meanwhile, Newsarama takes a look at AIT/Planet Lar's upcoming fifth anniversary here.

* "It's 'Up, up and awaaaaay' for Yao Ming and Steve Francis, but not on the court. The two Houston Rockets stars trade in their baggy shorts and jerseys for body armor (sans cape) as each battles villains in one of four new NBA comic books from Los Angeles-based Ultimate Sports Entertainment." Why couldn't they just put out a book featuring, you know, actual basketball? I here the kids like that. Read more here, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle.

* You have to love any review that begins with: "There are more than a few comic page characters I’d give anything to see dangling from the end of a rope. And whether or not you agree those Family Circus brats have it coming, you have to admit that Ziggy deserves it." Andrew McGinn of the Springfield News-Sun examines the recently-released “Batman in the Forties” here.

* Did you know that the current editor of The Atlantic Monthly is also the current co-writer of "Prince Valiant"? No, neither did I. It's amazing the things you learn if you actually read the Fantagraphics newsletter. Link courtesy of Mediabistro.

* Also courtesy of that incredibly handy Fanta newsletter, here's the new and official "Pogo" website for all you possumphiles (that's not a very good word, I know, give me a break).

* The Boston Globe examines the life and career of "Clifford" creator Norman Bridwell here.

* Also courtesy of the Globe, here's a talk with Dr. Seuss expert Charles D. Cohen.

* Peter Bagge communes with the swingers because he's a hip and trendy cat - er, not really, but read this anyway (courtesy of Reason Online).

* Jamie S. Rich over at Artbomb takes a look at Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo's recent graphic novel, "The Castaways," here.

* Man, oh man, sometimes life is too fun. Best quote: "Because this is an article about comic books, there has to be X-Men in here, somewhere." Oh, my. Courtesy of Silver Chips Online.

* Proof that "Peanuts" will never fade from our national consciousness, courtesy of the Sun-News of the Northland.

Oh well, that's that.

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