Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ballad of
Nathan Christopher Charles Summers Dayspring Askani'son

I bid you come and listen to my fable,
A story told about a man named Cable,
Soldier from the future, soldier from
The past, veteran of a million wars, numb
And cursed to see his past - our future - play
Before his weary eyes, one bright, one gray.
It was the age of Bush the elder when
This man emerged from obscurity, then
Rose to fame, a warrior in a land
Of boys and multi-colored clowns. A hand
Of Steel, a heart of stone, called to lead
New Mutants in their time of dire need.
Pursued by Freedom Force, government
Goons who served as cannon fodder, sent
To bring down the future mutant Christ.
(Suffice to say the all wound up on ice.)
In the beginning he was a man
Of mystery and of few words. But fan
Enthusiasm called this warrior to
Stand among the vanguard of a new
And thrilling tide that crested fast
Across the rocky shore that housed the last
Arbiters of tastes and fashions fallen
Into disrepute. From this day when
He first took aim at the collective zeal
Of boys and men as yet to young to feel
The touch of woman or caress of age -
Who turned with grim excitement every page
In hopes of seeing Cable wield a gun
Weighing perhaps almost just a ton
To blow away the enemies of right
Those evildoers against whom the fight
With bloodthirsty and cruel tactics is waged
(The surrogacy of a giant gun
A firearm to stand in for the one
Thing yet undreamt of by the scores of fans
Held prisoner by overactive glands),
Cable was a man apart, a hero
Made for modern times and built to fight
The endless ambiguity of nigh
Encroaching cultural oblivion,
Last avatar of the fallen eighties,
Half robot and half commando, all
Designed to conjure memories of Arnold
The man who would be governor but who
Was in actuality better
Suited to wield a sword and cleave in twain
Evildoers, and to hear the laments
Of the women and the children of
His prey. Just like Arnold, Cable was
Eventually domesticated.
In his first year Cable was a killer,
Shooting unarmed foemen in the back,
Stabbing fools like it ain't no thing,
Fighting Sabretooth and Wolverine
One after another, a literal
Cavalcade of badasses intended
To strengthen the badass bonafides
Of a character designed to be
Explicitly and unambiguous
The hardest man of all, a man of men
Without so much as the intimation
Of homosexual implication.
(There is a distinction between flamboyant
"Gay" and flamboyant "metal," but you
Could be forgiven for obscuring the
Finest of fine lines. When in doubt
It's good to remember "metal" is
A bit more feminine and sensual,
As only unselfconscious latchkey boys
With imaginary father figures
Can fantasize the alien feeling
Of being held by strong and granite arms
With the appropriate patina
Of childish yearning and adolescent
Desire to present an unquestioned
Surface sheen of masculine cool.)
Eventually metal daddy became
Soft and yielding - just as Batman learned
To holster his gun and take up the use
Of a small child, parental surrogate
To generations of boys with a lack
Of positive reinforcement from
A masculine role model - in a pinch
The man in the bat costume will do -
So to did Cable eventually change
From a murderous mercenary
Bent on annihilating every
Threat to cross his path, and teaching his
Pupils to do the same, to a new age
Ambassador from a war torn future
Sent back to the present in order to
Preach love and tolerance, albeit
Occasionally from the barrel
Of an unrealistically drawn
Firearm of dubious make.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Because you've all been so very good:

BOOTY JAM - Funk City

FUZZY FX | MySpace Music Videos

Booty Jam!

"Knallbunt, schräg, retro-stylisch und superfunky - BOOTY JAM ist eine absolute Ausnahmeband. Nicht nur weil sich 11 erstklassige Musiker aus 5 Ländern und 3 Kontinenten zusammen getan und mit Leib und Seele dem Funk verschrieben haben."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Siege #3 / Dark Avengers #15

Well I should probably announce a spoiler so I don't piss anyone off.



OK. On first read through that was an amazingly lame reveal - talk about the least interesting, most obvious revelation. Not that I was really expecting anything different, mind you. Bendis is nothing if not methodical, and it would have been against his M.O. to pluck in a random baddie from the pool without having laid some previous groundwork. And sure enough, skimming through the whole of his New Avengers run, it's pretty obvious in hindsight that he's been laying the building blocks for the Sentry's turn all along. Go back to the very beginning of the series and it's all there. But there's something else there as well, which is actually pretty clever: go back to New Avengers #2 and re-read the Sentry's battle with Csrnage. Or rather don't, because the battle is off-panel. You see Carnage tearing shit up in a hallway, the Sentry listens to Foggy Nelson and suddenly decides to intervene - and the next thing we see, the Sentry is flying Carnage up to the stratosphere to rip him in two. (Again: motif.) But now we can see what really happened all those years ago: the Carnage symbiote jumped ship from Cletus Cassidey to the Sentry. The Sentry was able to keep it in check some of the time, just like he was always able to keep the Void in check, until he just wasn't able to. So when Osborn assembles his Cabal and introduces the villains to his secret weapon, that's what Doom shits himself over: the Sentry possessed by the Carnage symbiote, complete with all the little swirling tentacles just like how David Finch drew Carnage in that very first New Avengers battle. Dunno what all the Old Testament stuff is, probably something else to be related later.

I have to admit, that's still a pretty impressive bit of plotting, and despite the general predictability of the storyline so far, it's still nice to see an unexpected twist like that. It's still not that great a book, but a moderately nice twist that I don't think I saw spoiled anywhere beforehand (if someone else guessed it, forgive me).

Justice League Shitburgers

Whaaa whaaa my city got demolished my granddaughter got murdered when a building fell on her tough shit suck it up Archer Boy can't go off an do anything crazy like tracking down the worst domestic terrorist in American history and killing him because God knows if any American actually ever tracked down Osama bin Laden they probably wouldn't feel any temptation at all to just shoot the bastard and be done with it and really if that did happen I can't imagine anyone would be particularly upset about the thing as much as we like to say oh gosh the villains have to be brought to justice but really isn't the whole thing about superhero morality predicated on the idea that people as powerful as Superman and Green Lantern should not abuse their power over anyone weaker than them because that is the kind of abuse that leads to corrupting overreach and God knows that Green Arrow is so insanely powerful he should understand that there is no way any man can ever hope to stand up against a normal human being with a bow and arrow because good Lord it's not like anyone has access to body armor or anything that could possibly withstand an arrow and good Lord how dumb does Prometheus have to be not to think it a distinct possibility that if he fucked with Green Arrow then Green Arrow might just shoot his ass since it's not like he hasn't murdered people before lots of damn people whenever he gets pissed and goes all dark and gritty he just goes around poking arrows in people's asses like they were going out of style but jeez Louise how could he possibly have anticipated that killing a whole bunch of people would have inspired such a devastating reaction the Joker does it all the time and Batman just lets him off with a little rub down in the showers afterwards "you complete me, Batman" and really I guess where Prometheus screwed up is that it's OK to kill a lot of people so long as you've established some kind of weird codependent homoerotic relationship with your arch nemesis first but no he had to pick on someone who has no real incentive to prolong the affair any longer than absolutely necessary and Jeez are they really carrying Prometheus' body around in a glowing green coffin so they can rub it in Ollie's face that is probably the most absurd thing I've ever heard in my life I mean srsly there was even a John Grisham movie about this very thing OK well I guess it was a book first but I'm not going to read that shit the movie has Samuel Jackson totally taking an assault rifle and killing the dude who killed his daughter and then getting off scot free because Matthew McConaughey makes an impassioned speech to the jury about how pretty much anyone if faced with the opportunity of enacting revenge on a man who killed their child would do the same and to pretend otherwise is just hypocrisy and the thing is that despite it's cheesy origins that story has always stuck with me because on a very basic level there is something profound in that kind of ethical fable: we cede (or rather, we are complicit with the legal fiction that we have ever signed onto an imaginary "social contract") the ability to use force in all but the most pressing extenuating circumstances to the state and it is this monopoly of force that maintains the legitimacy of the state's authority and that's why he have things like Ruby Ridge and Waco simply because no matter how insignificant the threat the federal government can't allow any challenges to its authority to go unpunished but anyway back to A Time To Kill the whole point is that Jackson's character gets off because there is basically no way in hell anyone in that situation wouldn't do the same thing and as much as this idea of vengeance really threatens to undermine the foundations of society its as basic a human urge as can be imagined and I guess the idea is that as an avatar of the forces of justice a superhero can't take the law into his own hands in any circumstances except for oh yeah superheros take the law into their own hands every time they put the damn costume on and go fight crooks they are already undermining the authority of the state to reserve violence as its exclusive prerogative and I guess the reason they're really mad at Ollie is not because they're seriously upset that he killed someone with, what, ten or 100 times the body count as Timothy McVeigh it's because if they all started to take the law into their own hands then Amanda Waller wouldn't have any real reason not to sic the whole of the government on their asses speaking of which I was reading this week's R.E.B.E.L.S. and wondering to myself, has Vril Dox ever come face to face with Amanda Waller it seems as if that could be the coolest match up in recorded history and you know I kind of feel bad for R.E.B.E.L.S. because it's not a half bad little title and it's very obvious they're specifically trying to reverse-engineer the kind of consistent slow-burn success Marvel have had with their cosmic books - hell the plotline of the Starro war was even pretty much identical to that of the first Annihilation crossover, only substitute Annihilus for Starro - but I guess when you come down to is cosmic DC is just less inherently interesting than cosmic DC and if I had to put my finger on it I guess the reason why would be that cosmic Marvel is pretty wild and Darwinian with all sorts of huge cosmic monsters with unknowable agendas lurking out in the cosmic ether who can lay waste to your planet with a spare thought but cosmic DC is like, I dunno, some HBO original series and the Guardians are just like the administration down at the state franchise tax board they even wear those little mumus with the collars on them just like a real life bureaucrat whereas, say, the Celestials could probably just decide they were going to demolish Oa send Arishem down to pull his magic finger and then split the planet in two I'll put Kirby-spawned cosmic monsters like them or Galactus or Ditko's Eternity up against DC's very civilized space regents any day of the week because honestly all of DCs alien races are just kind of boring and I guess if you like Green Lantern you're really probably a Republican at heart because you believe in the ability of a central authority to dictate moral authority and maintain the cosmic status quo based simply on their say-so whereas if you like Marvel cosmic you're probably, well, not a Democrat because the Democratic party is pretty craven and worthless now but I guess if you were a "liberal-minded independent" or hell let's just say a pink leftist you're down with the Silver Surfer because he's all fuck you I won't do what you tell me when Galactus says you have to go kill a bunch of people because I am the cosmic military-industrial-media complex and I must devour the life-blood of entire ecosystems in order to be sated but then the Surfer's all like dude I just got my subscriptions to Adbusters and Mother Jones and I am totally not down with your South American secret wars or your Secret Wars II either for that matter and while we're on the subject I guess people who like Green Lantern probably just wish their dad was still alive so that he could tell them what to do and that everything was going to be OK but really once you hit 21 or 22 life's instruction manual just kind of runs out of pages no matter how well you think you have things figured out there reaches a point where you have to think for yourself and no matter how much you love or hate your parents you can't just live on their advice for the rest of your life because you don't want to make the same mistakes they did but then you wake up when you're thirty or thirty-five and realize that even if you didn't make the same mistakes they did you also managed to avoid doing all the good things they did regardless of your best intentions we all get kind of rudderless and wish we could depend on some rock-jawed daddy figure like Hal Jordan to tell us what to do but really Hal Jordan is and has always been a douchebag and his rebelliousness never struck me as particularly principled so much as just erratic and kind of willful at least Green Arrow supposedly has principle but the only thing that his character has ever convinced me of is that the majority of people who have ever written Green Arrow are actually kind of disgusted by "liberal" politics and think that the way to write a bleeding-heart is to make him a closet Republican who is just resentful of the fact that other people tell him what to do and who will, if given the opportunity, turn into an authoritarian asshole I mean I'm hardly trying to stick up for Green Arrow he's really a stupid character if you think about it and ironically my favorite Green Arrow run is the year or so right before Connor Hawk became Green Arrow which is partly written by Kelly Puckett and partly by Chuck DIxon and the reason is simple: Green Arrow is a silly character but he works pretty well in tight-paced low-powered stories and sure enough if you frame it kind of like a low rent John LeCarre book and give it to Jim Aparo to draw it really sings, but hell let's be honest the real reason those are such good comics is because Jim Aparo is drawing them and he was a really good action cartoonist when he wanted to be (which was every goddamn day he woke up, really) but anyway "Red Arrow?" there was a fucking hilarious panel in that same issue that I should just put up rather than trying to describe it for you because if you haven't read the book then you'd probably just think I was making it up:

The task of being Red Arrow - now if he has said, I dunno, the task of being President of the United States or General Manager of the Yankees I'd say OK there's a task with a lot of responsibility it might legitimately be something you'd have trouble fulfilling but Red Arrow? Red Arrow is a made up name that has been made up by a third-string former sidekick who is famous for three reasons, which overlap: 1) he was a heroin addict, 2) he has had some of the worst names in the history of superheros (Speedy, Arsenal, Red Arrow), and to tie it all together, 3) he was a drug addict whose name was Speedy and OK I guess he's not necessarily a meth addict but good God it's an unmixed blessing they didn't just name him Black Tar Boy - anyway what wasn't he ready for? what exactly were the special tasks Red Arrow had on his plate that he hadn't already had as Arsenal I mean jeez he got his arm ripped off by a supervillain that's not exactly a workplace accident you can easily plan for, I wonder if there's one of those signs on the wall of the Justice League satellite that says "X many days since a workplace dismemberment" and then when he got his arm ripped off Red Tornado had to go and write a big fat 0 on the board and he was smiling because for once it wasn;t him who had got dismembered but anyway that's what's wrong with DC comics today: we're supposed to care about someone named Red Arrow and think that just because he gives himself a different name he's somehow a different character than the same putz we've been reading about for Jesus Christ I just looked at Wikipedia and it says Roy Harper has been around since 19-motherfucking-41 making him like 70 years old and dear God you'd think that if they hadn't managed to do a single interesting thing with the character in all these years (other than making him a junky and a father, which is something moderately interesting I suppose but jeez you think they'd remember the fact that killing Aquaman's kid was pretty much the beginning of the end for that character because if you think being married ages a character, or having a kid ages a character, just kill his kid because then you know you just can't write a story with this guy without thinking in the back of your head wow this guy had his kid murdered and that has got to seriously change you in a permanent way that can't just be undone by getting a new costume or whatever) they might just have given up at this point but if there is one honestly good thing that will come of this whole sorry spectacle it's the thought that if there is one thing sadder than a one-armed superhero it's the mental image of a one-armed superhero trying to tap a vein and shoot up in his remaining arm I'm sure it can be done, and that's the story I want to see.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Ten Best Comics of the Aughts:

7. Tom the Dancing Bug
by Ruben Bolling

As good a decade as it was for comics, it was an absolutely abominable decade for everything else. And it wasn't even that great of a decade for all comics - editorial cartoons continued a long downward slide into calculated irrelevance - a situation certainly exacerbated by the declining (er, freefalling) fortunes of the newspaper industry but in no way arrested by their own general uselessness. This is not to say there aren't still good people working in the field, obviously, but editorial panels have become pretty dire. Mike Luckovich is skilled and professional, but his work is almost entirely toothless, and in its toothlessness emblematic of the problems assailing the field: rarely controversial on its own terms, the artist is content to harvest small laughs by sniping at passing scandal or knowingly winking at the procedural incompetence of career politicians. Somehow the majority of political cartoonists manage to make a living despite there being nothing actually political in their work - just good-natured bipartisan joshing. There's good, angry work being done in alternative weeklies, but unfortunately neither Tom Tomorrow nor Ted Rall are half (or even a quarter) the cartoonist that Luckovich is - put the insight of the former together with the skill of the latter and you might actually have something resembling a whole, effective political cartoonist, someone able to use the vocabulary of the medium to pointed effect.

However, the dwindling fortunes of the editorial cartoon in the United States should not be taken as any indication of the state of the art abroad. Political cartoons are a big deal everywhere else: one need look no further than the number one comics / cartooning news story of the decade (sorry, bookstore migration!) to see the power, in absolute terms, of the medium when tied to political speech. This is hardly the only example, either: political cartoonists have been jailed, sued, sidelined and outright murdered throughout the world, a sobering catalog of injustices that reinforces the cartoon's status as a uniquely explosive vehicle for political satire, parody, or sheer insult.

Not so in America, however. The price paid for safety and comfort in the land of free expression is basic irrelevance. The only time people pay attention to political cartoons is when a bad cartoon is misread (or "misread") - God forbid a right-wing hack "accidentally" draw a parallel between President Obama and a rampaging chimpanzee. Of course the moment anything offends, it's pulled and copious apologies are issued: the result of this reflexive cowardice is an editorial page held to the same standards & practices as Garfield. Anything that smacks of partisan "bias" (read: liberal bias) is obliterated. A neutral lack of "bias" always reinforces the status quo. In the end, what are editorial cartoons in 2010, just a rectangular slab of ink to anchor the design of an editorial page in an anachronistic media delivery vehicle? We get the press we deserve: even the most stridently leftist voices, if they make the conscious decision to have their work distributed nationally, are subverted by their status as content providers for the same multi-national corporations they ostensibly critique. You can read all about it in Theodor Adorno's The Culture Industry, on sale now from Amazon for $24.95. The revolution will not be televised, yadda yadda yadda.

Ruben Bolling hardly sidesteps these contradictions, but he is at least aware of the uphill battle facing any ostensibly independent cartoonist wishing to maintain relevance in the face of an omni-powerful media-industrial complex. The strip's most endearing quality is its unflinching commitment to dragging the reader through the figurative mud of our crap-stained national character: the strip may look cute, but Bolling pulls no punches. It's worth taking a closer look at the sequence of strips immediately following 9/11. Beginning with the "Super Fun Pack" at the top of the page, read this and this and this and this and this. In the space of six weeks and six strips Bolling captures the strange tragedy of post-WTC America with stunning satirical economy. Immediate shock, fear and despair give way to legitimate, unironic anger and national pride - but it's not long before the best parts of this generic, positive patriotism are bent to the service of regressive nationalism, itself fueled by an expansionist foreign policy apparatus unashamed to harness the aggrieved spirit of American exceptionalism to an aggressive agenda of triumphalist military expansion. Someone was going to figure out how to turn 9/11 into a payday - and ultimately what could have been a moment of national clarity and redefinition became a de facto coup of the United States government by its most radical conservative elements. Bolling is hardly the only person to chart this sad progression, but the fact that he was able to do so in the space of just a handful of panels, and with the wounds still so fresh, is no mean feat. For all the books and articles that have been written on the event, Bolling's perspective on 9/11 is still, for me, the most accurate, the most devastatingly tragic, and unfortunately one of the most clairvoyant.

Should I sue?

But versatility is another of Bolling's strengths. He may be one of our most astute political commentators - and he may be, at times, spookily prescient (read this strip, printed a full decade ago but, sans the Matrix reference, sadly contemporary) - but he's also a canny conceptualist with an eye for understated formal play. His recurring Billy Dare sequence is particularly notable for the ways in which it pulls apart the expectations regarding boys' adventure stories (Tintin and Terry & the Pirates) as if they were taffy - check out this, this, and this, for instance. "God-Man" parodies religion through the lens of superhero stories - or, um, is he parodying superheroes through the lens of religion? I can't tell. I personally like this pair of strips (1, 2) dealing with the Lord of the Rings' inexplicable mainstream popularity - yah, cheap shots, but they're funny because they're true. (Seriously, how weird is it that three of the biggest movies of the last ten years are based on what were once the nerdiest books ever written? I mean, real-life girls went to see those movies, and everything - real girls with breasts and hair, even!)

He's hardly the best draftsman on the comics page, but his rough-around-the-edges, slightly awkward style makes an extremely effective disguise for his ruthlessly effective satire. His celebrity likenesses are intentionally goofy, but his pastiches of Barks, Kirby and Hergé are surprisingly sure-footed despite their simplicity. He's no R. Sikoryak, but he is nevertheless able to pull from a far-ranging pool of influences to great effect.

I could go on but anything more would just be belaboring the point: Bolling is a cartoonist of rare insight who has found an enviable, surprising outlet for some of the most effective and consistent political commentary of the last decade. One would like to think he would be a stand-out talent even in a crowded field, but as it stands now he easily distinguishes himself in a very sparsely populated room.

10. X-Force by Peter Milligan & Mike Allred
9. Schizo #4 by Ivan Brunetti
8. Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware

This list is composed of English language comics originally released between 2000 and 2009.

The best way to experience Tom the Dancing Bug is in the pages of your weekly alternative newspaper. However, for those of us for whom this is not an option, the strip is also available online and for free. New pages can be seen weekly here at Universal Press' comics portal, GoComics, or through Salon. I believe you have to register to see archives past a certain point on those sites, but a huge whopping chunk of the last decade's run can be found in a semi-organized archive here, at no cost.

Unfortunately, Bolling's work has not yet seen comprehensive or timely collection. The most recent collection - and the only book to feature strips from the last decade - is Thrilling Tom the Dancing Bug Stories. It features pages from the late 90s through to around 2003, but is not complete and the choices are somewhat baffling for anyone familiar with the strip. (Specifically, the famous 9/11 strip reprinted at the top of this review is absent, although other 9/11 themed pieces are present.) Still, considering that it's an imperfect collection, we might not see another anytime soon. It appears to be out of print but can be found for pennies online. I bought my copy for around $7 in a used bookstore in southern Vermont, I can't imagine you'd have to pay more than that if you looked.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Punisher MAX: Butterfly

This is a good comic. Anyone who says this isn't a good comic because it reflects the personal experiences of the writer is simply full of shit. I've seen a lot of glowing reviews and I've seen a few savage reviews, and I find myself rather bewildered as to the latter. Sure, it's hardly a reinvention of the four-color wheel . . . but it's a well-told story told from a perspective not often seen in superhero comics. Yes, the perspective is clearly the author's; yes, there are many elements which might veer (for some) uncomfortably close to "personal" on the part of the author - tough shit. After Brian Michael Bendis' wife almost died he wrote, like, four comics featuring people sitting in hospitals waiting for their loved ones to pull through. After Jeph Loeb's son died, it seemed as if every other story of his was about mourning dead children - hell, he did that just this week in New Ultimates. Let's not even start about Warren Ellis' never-ending stream of Wired-subscribing Mary Sues. Or Steve Gerber's "Dreaded Deadline Doom." So if Valerie D'Orazio wants to write a story about a woman in a male-dominated profession who is targeted for writing a dangerous tell-all; if she wants to give her character issues stemming from childhood sexual trauma and dissociative disorder - fine. Tell the story well and I'll be on board.

By all means use superhero comics as a vehicle for some kind of personal expression - not many people can pull it off. Some who do can do it well - Howard the Duck is a great example, and that's the reason why anyone else writing Howard besides Gerber, regardless of their best intentions, falls flat. There are certainly many worse creators to model oneself after than Gerber. Butterfly is a good book because it finds, within the context of another in a very long line of predictable and formulaic Punisher stories, a unique personal hook, and it uses that hook to craft a good character study. I admit I like D'Orazio: I don't see the big deal in saying I've been a more-or-less consistent reader since she published the first chapters of her "anonymous" memoir. I'm happy to see her finding some degree of success in a profession that has treated her so crappily - we should all be so lucky as to find any kind of validation, regardless how measured, after kissing off an entire industry in the most public way possible. That's enviable, more power to her. I'm definitely glad she blogs.

I've never understand the absolutely visceral negative reaction to her on the part of some people. Accusing her of shameless self-promotion hardly makes sense, since shameless self-promotion is the byword on the comics blogosphere, and it's worth pointing out that some of the most prominent "names" in our circle of the blogging world have essentially abdicated day-to-day blogging because their blogging has opened the doors to many other more remunerative or creatively satisfying careers. There's nothing at all wrong with that. People blog for different reasons. Go read Neilalien's excellent debrief from his first decade blogging right here for a good rundown on just why the Granddaddy of all comics bloggers does what he does. I don't have the same kind of blog Neil does, but I like to think we're fighting the same type of fight - doing what we do because we like doing it, no more and no less, trying to communicate something with people who might be interested in hearing what we have to say. It's easy to tell a ringer for all that. I've never got the feeling from D'Orazio that she was blogging for anything but the "right" reasons - because she wanted to say something that someone might be interested in hearing. If she has a side career writing comics now? Good on her. That, based on her first big mainstream debut, she appears to be halfway decent at it, with a strong personal voice and a thematic program besides simply mushing a pile of random "fuck yeah" moments together to make some kind of storytelling Dagwood - well, that's pretty good too. I look forward to reading what she does next.

SO, to sum it all up: Bloggers gotta stick together. I feel a bit of sympathy for other bloggers who might get some flack for letting their personality slip over into their writing about comics, who consciously avoid cultivating any kind of put-on personality filter between their real, honest-to-God opinions and their keyboards. Nothing against the Kevin Churches and Chris Sims of the world - God bless 'em, they've been able to turn their blogging avocations into something resembling a real vocation, and I certainly admire their hustle. I certainly don't want to imply that they're doing anything for the "wrong" reasons, they've got their blogging bona fides well sorted. Hell, even the folks involved in the Fake AP Stylebook thing - a group whose ranks include many well-known and respected comics bloggers - good on 'em. Lord knows I have tried, intermittently, to use this blog for commercial purposes, but that hasn't worked out too well - and honestly, I can't really feel too bad that a fabulous writing career hasn't materialized, since my attempts to market my book online have never been anything more than feeble and half-hearted (mostly because I've been so busy the past couple years I haven't had it in me for "the hustle" necessary to make a serious go of online handselling, but that's a different story). I sold a story to an Australian arts magazine based on some blog postings, but all things considered I've actively lost more writing jobs than I've gained in the last few years - mostly because I've been busy, but there have been other reasons as well, none of which are worth going into now. (Maybe some day I'll write about my health problems the last year, but not now.) I have a lot of respect for anyone who has been able to turn their blog into this kind of professional lever - I would be a massive hypocrite to resent anyone's hard-fought achievements.

But to return to the point: anyone who blogs for any amount of time - as in, more than just putting up a Blogger page and posting a dozen times before eventually forgetting the whole thing, actually sticking with it long enough to cultivate some kind of distinctive voice and personal narrative - gets my respect. I'm less sociable than many bloggers, but I like to think I've made a few good friends through this whole thing - people like Neil, Tucker, Milo, Martin, Mike, Dorian - folks whose writing I admire and whose insight I genuinely respect. I've never - that I can remember - exchanged more than a few words with D'Orazio, but I'm happy to consider her a part of our little blogging community, and wish her all the best success with her future endeavors. I can't help but think that, inexplicable hatred aside, anyone who seriously begrudges her so-far earned achievements (and obviously still measured - she's got all of one published full-length Marvel comic under her belt, for Goodness' sake) might just be sipping a bit too deeply from the sour grape wine. Green is never a good color on you.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Just got back from Cleveland, only to be confronted with the fact that I have apparently been infected with some kind of e-mail virus forwarding little blitzes of spam advertising cheap pharmaceuticals and Russian brides to anyone unfortunate enough to be on my contact list. It's been so busy I have no idea how or when this might have developed: I use Hotmail and access my e-mail almost exclusively on a MacBook, so I don't even know enough to know where the virus causing the trouble is actually located, or whether it's something that needs to be rode out until Hotmail figures out to filter it. So, if you receive something from me telling you to go buy some Viagra, assume it's not me. Unless I really am telling you to buy some Viagra, but that's not likely.

Real posting will resume sometime . . . soon? Hopefully.