Sunday, October 31, 2004

Bah, Humbug!

I don’t like Halloween. I haven’t cared for Halloween since I was old enough to know better. If you’re a kid, well, I guess its fun to dress up and go beg for candy from house to house. But if you’re a grown adult who doesn’t have kids yourself, then why the hell should it be anything but another day?

In the past, we’ve done one of two things. Either we’ve bought a lot of candy that we’ve had to eat ourselves because we didn’t get any trick or treaters, or we hidden in a dark house hoping that no-one would bother us. Additionally, there is nothing that gets the dogs riled up more than strangers coming to the door and ringing the bell, so that’s even more impetus to ignore the “holiday”.

Basically, it boils down to the multinationals having established another seasonal cash cow, more reasons for kids to whine at their parents to spend more money they don’t have on shoddily-produced crap they don’t need. Count me out, thanks.

Tom Spurgeon take a minute to speak on the subject of scary comic books here. I have to say that for the most part I agree with him. Its hard to have the same kind of thrills and chills on the comics page as on a movie or TV screen, for the simple reason that a reader can control the pace that he chooses to absorb the story.

Usually the only comic stories that have been able to scare me are ones that contain frightening ideas or create an oppressively frightening mood. I can still remember where I was when I first read The Dolls House arc in The Sandman, in particular the chapter at the “cereal” killer convention. Amazingly, I think the horror sequences of the early parts of Sandman still hold up rather well, which is something I don’t think I can say about a great deal of the dark fantasy sections which followed.

I wrote recently about the occasionally good but mostly mediocre horror books produced by Marvel/Epic to tie in to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser mythos. Looking back over that series, there are some supremely effective stories here and there. The fourth volume of their Books of the Damned companion anthology, as I wrote here, is still probably the most evil piece of fiction I’ve ever read.

But the real scary part is that we’re only 48 hours away from the most divisive election in at least the last 140 years of our country’s history. I never post political, and I don’t want to distract you if you have no interest whatsoever in whatever I have to say, so I’ll give you the chance to ignore it if you wish – there’s no shame, I often ignore political posts myself. If you disagree with me I don't want to hear any shit, because if you run your cursor over the white text you really have only yourself to blame.

I’m scared because I know there is a strong chance the “right” candidate will not win. Sure enough, the “right” candidate is a matter of opinion, but I am not joking or exaggerating in the slightest when I say that my wife and I have been seriously weighing the pros and cons of a possible move to Canada should the opportunity present itself. We are well and truly scared of what could be down the road for our country.

The worst part is that in the past few weeks I have heard a number of otherwise intelligent people – far-left liberals with whom I would normally have no serious disagreements with – tell me with a straight face that they are voting for the incumbent because they feel that the Democratic party has given them no choice. I’m a little bit afraid of this, because it says to me that certain Democrats are more afraid of the lunatic fringe of their own party than the lunatic fringe of the opposing party. It says that some otherwise intelligent people have bought the RNC’s propaganda hook, like and sinker, and that they truly believe that Kerry has inextricably wedded himself to a bunch of hippie peaceniks who would roll over on their bellies rather than fight a just war.

This is the problem with being a liberal in today’s America, and this is why I can see nothing but dark days ahead for the party, regardless of who wins on Tuesday. I ultimately do not believe that Kerry is any sort of leftist activist. I believe that despite the Republican distortions of his voting record, he is a centrist very much in the mold of every popular democrat to come on the national scene since the disastrous 80s. I believe very strongly that anyone who understands anything about how the Senate works could never seriously entertain evidence of his voting record as any sort of trail of “flip-flopping”. In any sort of deliberative body where debate is constant and bills are perpetually altered, it makes perfect sense that people would have plenty of occasions to vote for and against substantially similar bills, or even to vote or not vote for purely strategic reasons. Only Goldwater-esque ideologues (such as our Vice-President) could even hope to avoid a voting record rife with seeming contradiction. Its simply the way business is conducted in any legislative body, and God bless George W. Bush for the moral clarity that requires never having to change your mind for any reason whatsoever.

The number one issue which seems to be dividing liberals is the perception of the war. There seems to be the perception in certain quarters that simply because Howard Dean was able to exploit a vein of strong anti-war sentiment, the Democratic party as whole is nothing but a bunch of appeasement-happy hippie fools. I concede the fact that, in the Platonic ideal, the war in Iraq was a “good thing”, in that a notorious murdering dictator is no longer in power. I’m an Old-School liberal in that I believe very strongly that our foreign policy should go arm in arm with a robust humanitarian agenda. For the record, I believe that the greatest tragedy of the Clinton Administration was not the fact that Bubba got a hummer, but the fact that humanitarian intervention was discredited with such a crushing finality. If Haiti and Somalia had been successful, then perhaps we wouldn’t have waited another decade before going into Iraq, and perhaps we wouldn’t have done it so badly that the idea of humanitarian intervention has been permanently sullied by the incompetence, malevolence and malfeasance of our current “Powers That Be”.

Is it OK to do the right thing in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons? Do the ends justify the means if the whole project is executed with the kind of incompetence that actually threatens the success of the ends? I know full well that less people are still dying in Iraq now than when Hussein was in power, but the chaos and disorder that has been loosed as a direct result of our cowboy foreign policy could very well end much, much worse. (You can read all about the actual numbers at Amnesty International.)

The fact is, you can’t seriously argue with the fact that Saddam being gone is a Good Thing. But you can argue that doing a Good Thing for the Wrong Reasons (and let there be no doubt: the humanitarian excuses are just excuses thought up after the fact in this instance), in the wrong way and in such an egregiously wrong way that the security of our country is actually more imperiled now than before is a bad thing.

I don’t believe that being a liberal means that we have to apologize for the actions of our allies who opposed war in Iraq not out of any deep conviction but because they were profiting from Saddam’s regime (I’m looking at you, France and Russia). I don’t believe that being a liberal means that you can’t persecute the terrorists who present a clear and present danger to our country. Quite frankly, you’d have to get up pretty damn early in the morning to do a worse job at defending our national interests than Bush has.

But what it boils down to is that George W. Bush represents a worldview that is totally alien to mine, and totally alien to that of everyone I know. I grew up and went to school with Fundamentalist Christians. I was friends with them when I was growing up. I know at least a little bit about how they think. Compromise is not in their vocabulary. Anything less than an absolute capitulation towards their belief system is seen by them as a failure in the eyes of their God. They don’t see a divided nation as an invitation to moderation. If they screwed things up, they would fight tooth and nail to keep things screwed up if their Bible told them so. I have heard rational people argue that these same Fundamentalists do not exercise that much influence over this Administration, but they are this Administration. Re-election would be taken as carte blanche to persecute their twisted values on anyone and everyone who disagrees with them. They would not, as some people have argued, change course if an abortion ban resulted in dead women in the streets: they would take that as further evidence that their perceived righteousness is indeed the correct course of action. They are ultimately irrational, and our President reflects the kind of anti-Clerical, Manichean Medieval mindset that our country, founded in the flush of the Enlightenment, should be diametrically opposed to. In this worldview the Bible is the ultimate authority, and not the Constitution. I don’t live my life according to a fundamentalist interpretation of The Lord of The Rings, and I really can’t relate to people who live according to a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

So I cannot in good conscience say that I share any values with anyone who casts a ballot for George W. Bush. We are separated by an abyss that cannot be bridged so long as you continue to support a political establishment which actively and publicly refutes the last 500 years of Western thought in exchange for a political orthodoxy that embraces – nay, rewards – the superstitious ignorance of our distant forefathers.

Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 7 in an ongoing Series)

Eno eht er’uoy, eikcud rebbur.

Dave the Satanic Rubber Duckie

“Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law – Provided You Enjoy A Big Bowl Of Sugar Crunchy Poofter Pops!”

This product push was effectively abandoned after General Mills failed to receive the all-important endorsement of the Church of Satan.

Friday, October 29, 2004


UPDATE: This week's remix, featuring Green Lantern: Rebirth, is up here!

So, how come now that everyone and their mother is doing this blogroll thing, going down the line and spouting off a pithy comment or two on their favorite bloggers, no-one has mentioned me? I mean, I try to remember I'm not the center of the universe, people, but come on... am I that forgettable? No one loves me enough to even mock me?

Waaaah! Pay attention, dammit!

Don't forget about our wonderful contest, running from now until November 10th!

Come on down to Chilis for our special fajita bar!

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1

So, I read a copy of Green Lantern: Rebirth #1. I realize that this is what the fans supposedly want, but that doesn't mean I don't feel slightly queasy while reading it. As much as I may be indifferent to most of his writing, I at least have to commend Geoff Johns for taking on such an impossible task. It's one thing to bring a character back from the dead, as Kevin Smith did tolerably well during his run on Green Arrow. It's another thing entirely to rehabilitate a character who had become a genocidal mass-murderer. I mean, are events supposed to have any weight in super-hero comics or what?

I remember a while back I was reading a particularly cogent post by someone or another on the blogosphere about how they got turned off to Morrison's X-Men by the fact that, very early in the run, after Genosha's destruction, the X-Men are basically sitting around the ruins of the sentinels' attack and cracking jokes in the immediate aftermath of a terrible genocide. Admittedly, that didn't jump out at me when I first read it, but since that was pointed out (Update: thanks to Rose's observent comment, the mystery blogger can be revealed as Adam Stephanides - you can read the bit here, but you have to scroll down to the September 2nd entry ), it has been sitting in the back of my mind for a bit here as an example of the knd of jarringly false notes that superhero comics can easily ring when you try to insert "real world" issues and emotions. I mean, if a few million people on a small island in the Indian ocean were suddenly killed without any warning, it would be a big fucking deal. I can guarantee you that the people who stumbled onto Cambodia's killing fields in the 1970s weren't popping quips.

In a similar fashion, its hard to get my mind around the fact that they are actually going ahead with the supposed rehabilitation of a character who killed more people than we really even know. Didn't he try to destroy the entire universe a couple times? That's a bit more severe than even killing a few dozen Green Lanterns and a bunch of blue midgets. If you accept that Hal Jordan actually became a megalomanical mass murderer, then you have to accept the logical fact that he could never be rehabilitated, regardless of whatever weird plot devices came up. Imagine Jeffrey Dahmer "getting better" and joining the Avengers. Imagine Pol Pot suddenly declaring that he defeated the evil sentient force in his head that made him kill all those people and was going to run for Secretary General of the UN. Not gonna happen.

Now, this is the problem when you make the superhero comics texturally inconsistant. You want actions to have consequences, and you want consequences to have some basis in objective reality... but then you have to write yoruself out of these kind of corners. I know that all the H.E.A.T. members are jumping for joy, but seriously, if Hal Jordan is actually "rehabilitated" and made into a cool superhero again, it's going to look very lame. In this one instance, storywise, Batman is 100% right. Even if he was best buddies with everyone in the Justice League, he killed a lot of people. John Wayne Gacy had a lot of friends, too, and if you follow the Rebirth's logic, he could have joined the Justice League if he had acted sufficiently contrite.

The frustrating thing is that there was a way to bring Hal Jordan back without incurring all of these massively convoluted moral conundrums. I hate to say it, but this is one instance where the example of the John Byrne Doom Patrol would definitely come in handy. If you absolutely, positively insist on having Hal Jordan back in the comics as a true-blue, noble super-hero, then you just have to do a Dallas. Have Carol Ferris stumble into the bathroom and find Hal taking a relaxing shower. None of the last ten years happened for his character. It sounds lame, but honestly, at this point its the only band-aid that would allow the parties involved to retain their dignity. Otherwise, you're stuck with a very unsatisfactory and, frankly, lame resolution to an extremely prickly problem.

You have to maintain narrative consistency. If you want to have mass murderers and genocide, fine. But you can't just have all that for a while and then go back to having hokey comic-book morality again without any sort of textural shift. Otherwise, it just looks bad.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Contest Is Here!

Yes, as I promised, it is now time for The Hurting’s very first contest.

Have you ever wanted to tell me that I’m full of shit, but just didn’t have the energy to bother? Have you ever read one of my editorials or reviews and said to yourself, “That Tim O’Neil is so full of shit I bet his eyes are dark brown!” Well, now’s your chance to tell me just how full of shit you think I am – and win cool prizes in the process!

One Grand Prize Winner will walk away with a brand-spankin’ new, pristine unread mint copy of DK Book’s recent DC Comics Encyclopedia. Yes, you read that correctly. This book carries a forty-dollar price tag, but it could be yours, and all for the price of a well-reasoned or witty insult to yours truly.

Wow, that’s a nice prize.

The First Runner-Up is going to walk away with a copy of Ait/Planet-Lar’s collection of Warren Ellis’ Come In Alone essays. This groundbreaking book retails for $16.95, but it can be yours for the cost of a sweet, sweet put-down.

Wow, this is a nice prize, too.

The Second Runner-Up gets a copy of Oni Press’ compilation of Andi Watson’s Breakfast Afternoon. This sweet volume carried a retail price of $19.95, but again, you could walk home with this book for the measly price of taking the piss out of moi.

Jeez, oodles and oodles of fun prizes!

Want to enter? Here’s what you do:

Send an e-mail to timoneilisfullofit at hotmail dot com detailing why I am full of shit. It can be of any length – no minimum or maximum. You can reference any article, review or commentary I have ever written, or just rant about my general pissy outlook if you want. Just make it good.

The winners will be picked by the world’s leading expert in my being full of shit, yes, My Wife. Her decisions will be final and her criteria for picking the winners will be totally up to her. She knows me best, so she gets to be the final judge as to just why the hell I suck.

No purchase is necessary, obviously (although tips are always appreciated!). The contest will run for the duration of two weeks. Any entries accepted after Midnight, November 10 will be disqualified. Employees of DK Publishing, Ait/Planet Lar and Oni Press are disqualified from winning, but they should feel free to enter. Enter as many times as you like. Profanity is always encouraged, but My Wife reserves the right to disqualify (delete) any entry on the basis of it pissing her off. Please include your mailing address and full legal name with every entry.

Winners will be chosen no later than one week after the final deadline, after which time the winners will be announced on this blog and the prizes will be mailed in short order.

This contest comes to you courtesy of the fine people at DK Publishing, AiT/Planet-Lar, and Oni Press. They’re all fine folks and you should tip your hat to them for providing the booty for this here contest.

Now come on, tell me I’m full of shit. You know you want to.
Contest Coming

Everyone be warned - tomorrow The Hurting announces its first ever contest. We just recieved the grand prize in the mail today, and I have a feeling its something you are all going to want to enter for a chance to win.

I can guarantee that this contest will be like none other the blogosphere has ever seen. Prepare yourself.

I am really proud of this and am glad they finally saw fit to print it.

How come no one bothered to mention all the horrible misspellings in yesterday's post until it had been up for over twelve hours? Are you all laughing at me behind my back here?

Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 6 in an ongoing Series)

Yo! Yo! Yo, fuck that, look at all these crab niggaz laid back, Lampin like them gray and black Puma's on my man's rack, Codeine was forced in your drink, You had a Navy Green salamander fiend, bitches never heard you scream, You two-faces, scum of the slum, I got your whole body numb, Blowing like Shalamar in eighty-one.

Warren the Wu-Tang Walrus

“Cash Rules Everything Around Me – C.R.E.A.M., Get The Milk And Make A Balanced Daily Breakfast With Delicious Toasted Oat Poofs, Dollar Dollar Bill, Y’all!”

Apparently the tots were not to eager to enter the 36 chambers of healthy breakfast foods.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Reckoning Revisited

A few weeks ago, I asked these important questions:

"What critical standards do we hold ourselves to?"

"What are our obligations to maintain a consistent critical standard?"

Of course, these were mainly intended as rhetorical questions. I had my ideas, but ultimately I think every one who writes about comics on a regular basis has to develop our own answers in order to be an effective critic. It's worth repeating that I try - at all times - to be extremely consistent in my criticism. I think aesthetics are an extremely important field, and I don't approach it lightly.

The worst problem facing intelligent criticism today is the fact that reviews have come to be synonymous with criticism. A review, even a well-written and witty review, is not criticism. Ultimately, the impetus behind a review boils down to a very simple question: is _____ worth spending your money on? There's no problem with writing a reivew of something. Reviews are very useful tools, and are certainly a part of the overall landscape of information that goes into the conception of criticism, but they should never be mistaken for actual criticism. That leads to a discussion of aesthetics that invariably devolves into black and white "Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down" thinking. I am sure every english teacher in the audience will agree that the pursuit of absolute and commercially-sanctioned standards of "good" and "bad" has done a great deal to dull the critical faculties of your average citizen. "I just like it" is the word on the street and the stock answer of every noncummunicative High School student - but why do you like it is the question that must be answered!

I was put back onto this line of thought by a comment on Sunday's Comics Reporter. On the subject of the Amadora Festival's compiling the "100 Best BD of the XXth Century", Tom Spurgeon asks:

"Is there ever anything to be gained by thinking about a bunch of comics and then putting some on a "Best of" list? ... As one of many comics-interested observers from around the world whose opinion was solicited for the project, CR agrees with Amadora that such lists have value -- even when no one can agree on what that value might be."

This, of course, set the little wheels in my head spinning. I have a confession to make which might make you think less of me: I absolutely love these kinds of lists. I would never be caught dead compiling one of my own, because I think that there is no greater way to expose the shortcomings of your critical faculties than to broadcast them from atop a tall building with a megaphone, but as a reader and a lay/part-time professional critic, I find them to be endlessly useful.

The best example I have on hand is the Journal's infamous "Top 100" list. I can't think of a single comics-related publication that I have referenced so exhaustively for my personal reference and in my professional capacity. I don't accept the list as anything more than, basically, some rough spitballing, general guidelines and contentious approximations. The exact computational methodology couldn't interest me less, especially as those roads have been so exhaustively travelled in the past. But the fact remains that in creating such a guide, the Journal created probably the single best existing one-volume reference work on 20th century American comics that yet exists. If someone came to me out of the blue and said "I don't understand the basics of comics aesthetics, is there a guidebook to what is generally considered 'canon', and why?" I would give them my copy of the Journal's Top 100 list. As Spurgeon himself put it so well:

"Lists allow the person making them to take the temperature of their own tastes, and to think of their chosen medium of interest for the forest rather than the trees, on the whole rather than work by work. It may also drive a critic to find and engage work out of their usual comfort zone.

"Just as important is that readers and critics can then use the lists compiled in any number of ways: to discover new works, to develop new ways of looking at familiar works, to get a snapshot of the usefulness of a specific critic for your own future needs, to expose yourself to competing summary views of an art form and what's important in it, or even as a silent debate partner to sharpen your rhetorical tools."

Criticism, at its best, is a way of interacting with an art form in a kind of cultural dialectic. Not to bring up the hoary old spector of Plato, but in a perfect world enlightened critics would exist in a symbiotic relationship to the art they critiqued and with the artists who create it. Of course, I shouldn't need to say that this isn't how the world works, and the world has never really worked this way.

The closest thing I can remember in recent memory to this type of critical Nirvana was during the 60s and early 70s, when some very odd and wonderful things began to happen in international film. Critics and artists seemed to actually be interested in moving The Medium (in capital letters, of course) forward through some kind of ongoing dialogue. Of course, it worked in some ways and it didn't work in a lot of others, and then Spielberg and Lucas came along and made the whole thing moot. Unfortunately, most filmmakers seem to excercise the amusing notion of working in a critical vacuum in reference to their forebears these days, because any young filmmaker who talks about the influence of Kurosawa or Cassavetes in a magazine or television interview is seen as, at best, pretentious and callow, and at worse, extremely disengenuous. People don't like their art to come with footnotes, real or implied, and most critics who work with footnotes don't have anything remotely resembling a popular audience.

A lot of this can be taken back to the notion that reviews have supplanted criticism in the popular vocabulary. How many times have you heard something like "its like Die Hard meets the Seventh Seal?" (Not so much anymore, admittedly, but for a while there everything was "X meets Y ... on a pirate ship!") Comparisons like this don't have any meaning any more: they're grist for the mill commercial pitches turned into industry shorthand. The fact that so much of what used to be critical dialogue has been taken up by economic shorthand should tell us how much the art of serious criticism has devolved (I'm hardly the first person to point that out, but it seemed a nice point to reiterate since I was already in the neighborhood).

So what am I saying? I am saying that I awknowledge my job as A Critic to be a thankless task. I awknowledge the fact that I write a great deal of reviews and not nearly enough actual commentary. I awknowledge the fact that while most art is compromised to some extent by commercial origins, it is disengenuous of any critic to ever dismiss the commercial circumstances surrounding the origins and ongoing status of any given art object, for good or ill. I can't dismiss a piece of art because it was created work-for-hire, but I can't dismiss the fact that it was created in a work-for-hire situation, either.

I was having a discussion with an acquaintance of mine the other day. He's an educated fellow, but we got stuck on the notion, which I posited without even thinking, that any work of art should be accepted as "Art", without any thought given to the aesthetic merits of said art object. Of course, this seemed absolutely elementary to me, but he argued that "art" was not a basic noun, it was a category, and if something was bad art, it wasn't really art. Which was, to me, preposterous. There is nothing to be gained by making "Art" into an exclusive category, and everything to be won by merely accepting every piece of art, no matter how trifling or horrid, as a part of a greater hypothetical continuity. The challenge then is not to discover and demarcate what is and isn't art, but why certain art is better than other art.

It should be noted that my acquaintance, while a practicing professor who teaches for a prominent university, is not an expert in aesthetics. His arguments were intelligently proffered but, to my perception, poorly reasoned. Ultimately, even a smart man can be misled by our society's debased aesthetic sense. Again, it doesn't matter whether or not something is "good" or "bad" in a deeply Platonic way, because that is an impossible question to answer. What matters is why something is percieved as being better or worse than something else. It is by engaging this question on its deepest levels that we can begin to understand our own critical standards, and the critical standards of our particular community.

Which brings me back to the topic of lists. In so many circles, a list of great works is just callow commercialism - and for much of the world, that's all they are. Does any serious critic take those abysmal AFI lists as anything other than a big commercial for the studio's archival backlist? But the idea of "The List", in theory, offers the greatest possible opportunity for a critic to excercise the kind of thinking muscles that he has to keep vigorous and healthy in order to maintain a comprehensively acute mental apparatus.

Why is Krazy Kat better than Peanuts? Is it? That's a damn good question, and one that you could reasonably spend the rest of your life parsing. These are the type of assumptions that are necessary to underlie any intelligent aesthetic discussion, and the constant and consistent reppraisal of these assumptions is the lifesblood of any creatively coherent and intelligently dynamic medium.

Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 5 in an ongoing Series)

Apparently he’s into bestiality, seeing as how he’s a monkey, and not a man.

Otis the Onanistic Orangutan

“The Only Thing That Can Possibly Stop Me From Touching Myself Is A Nice Bowl of Wonder Whoopie Crisps!”

The strange this about Otis is that he did test extremely well with certain focus groups, but still didn’t make the cut. Despite his obvious appeal, it boils down to the probably fact that General Mills, unlike Marvel Comics, didn’t want to be seen as publicly courting the pervert demographic.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Pizza Pies

Well, the cat is finally out of the bag. I've been waiting a long time to be able to tell you all about Tom Spurgeon's wonderful new psuedo-blog/commentary site, The Comics Reporter. Milo got the exclusive drop on the announcement, but now that the embargo is broken, we can all chatter about it to our heart's content.

Since the end of Journalista!, the blogosphere has been lacking a central pivot. Sure, I tried my hand at it for a few months, but honestly, it was way too much work for me. In the months since, we've seen some people rise to the challenge and do some great work - particularly Johanna Draper-Carlson, who does her damndest to keep us males in line, and Neilalien, who covers an eclectic array of topics besides just Dr. Strange. And of course, we can't forget Kevin Melrose at Thought Balloons - who does just about the best job of compiling all the "mainstream" comics news and gossip of any site around. But the fact remains that even with the superb job these guys and a few others do, the blogosphere has been missing that vitally important one-stop-shop for all the day's pressing news and commentary. I know from our conversations that Spurgeon had no real intention of following in Dirk Deppey's footprints, but the fact remains that he brings an unparralleled authority in the field to just about everything he does, and his presence on the blogosphere has created, at least for me, a new central point for this far-flung digital universe of ours.

Tom Spurgeon is who everyone who wants to write intelligently and cogently about comics wants to be when they grow up - and if they don't, well, they probably don't know what they're talking about. Now that he's made his presence felt on the internet, I can only say: it's about fucking time.

I am happy to once again have a place to go to learn all that wonderful international comics news that no-one else seems to focus on, or at least not consistently. Context in our criticism and in our understanding of current events within our industry is vitally important, and from what I have seen of the first few "Members Only" weeks of TCR, I feel somewhat safe in saying that this much-needed context is finally back again. There is more to the world than merely pointing at the circus geeks at the Bendis Board and giggling uncontrollably - not that that isn't fun, but even that gets boring after a while.

I hope you are all checking out our good buddy Composite Superman's new blog!

Did everyone get a chance to look at Friday's Comic Remix, featuring the Legion of Superheroes? The remixes will now be posted on Fridays, so change your calenders accordingly.

Now that the Spurge is on the scene, it is time for me to rededicate myself to the wonderful world of blogging. I've admittedly been coasting for a little bit now, because of everything going on in our very busy lives - but that's no excuse. The fact that so many of you were so very generous to me during my recent "cry for help" tells me that there are indeed people out there who care about the goings-on on this particular blog. So, we shall hopefully not have too many days in the near future where I post one of my asinine Cereal Mascots in lieu of actual content. That's a cop-out, and you people - or at least the half-dozen of you who gave me money - deserve better from your's truly.

But if you haven't contributed, don't think that lets you off the hook. Even if I were rich as Croesus, I'd still be a damn greedy bastard. Oh wait, that probably won't endear me to the masses... hmmm. Well, suffice it to say I'm not rich, not yet, not until Joe Quesada sees my outline for the "Ultimate Woodgod" mini-series.

I'm telling you: Half-Man, Half-Goat, All Ass-Kicker. It's the next big thing.

Image Intended for Satyrical Purposes Only.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Ai! Dios Mio!

Legion of Superheroes Remix here!!!

This week's new Comic Remix hasn't gone up yet as of this writing. Following mutual agreement, Friday is now supposed to be the day for them, so it should be going up sometime soon. I'll post the link when I see it.

I don't know whether or not this is the best mix yet or the worst mix yet. It's another "Classic" mix, this time featuring the first appearance of one of the most inexplicably popular super-teams in comics history. There are no words to describe the silliness here... except to say that I finished this one up at about six in the morning, and it definitely shows.

But really, people... the way things are going, I am going to be out of the remixer business:

This is just not kosher, any way you look at it.

When the real books themselves read like MST3K spoofs, what the hell are we in the Comics Mockosphere to do? Make fun of Andy Cap?


Whoa! I came across something really cool in my recent web wanderings. Seems like our old pal the Composite Superman finally got himself a blog, the better to communicate with his resurgent fanbase. Check it out here, and tell him Tim sent you!

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Check out my buddy Slote's examination of a particularly strange Dr. Strange story. Funny stuff. The good Doctor has had as many bad stories as anyone else, I guess.

I am amazed that there is any demand whatsoever for a straight-ahead Space Ghost comic. Space Ghost certainly has one of the nicest designs from his era (courtesy of Alex Toth, 'natch), but in terms of any interesting or compelling story, he's about as interesting as a bucket of water. I am certain there are a few folks who take umbridge at the recent Coast to Coast and Brak Show incarnations of the characters, but seriously, people, they were a joke to begin with. I, for one, will never be able to take Space Ghost at face value, because I will always hear George Lowe's cheerfully disengenuous voice booming out of his mouth, and whenever Zorak or Brak show up I will never be able to see them as anything but the absurdly loveable morons they have been for the last decade.

With all due respect to the fine folks laboring on this new Space Ghost book: your task is Sisyphian. By turning a stable of C-list 60s cartoon also-rans into a canny pomo deconstruction of those very same stupid cartoons (and talk shows to boot), the good folks at the Cartoon Network have essentially salted the earth for anyone foolish enough to follow in their footsteps. Do me a favor: if you read the new Space Ghost book, and Brak shows up, just have a little voice in the back of your head say "Hi, everybody!" in Andy Merill's stupid voice every time he comes on the panel. You will not be able to take the book, or anyone in it, seriously, and that is how it should be. If you see someone buying this book without the intention to mock it hopelessly, you must shun and stone them.

Remember how I said that Composite Superman figure was the Nerdiest Object Ever? Well, I may have been a bit premature...

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Fun With Alt Text

I haven't been doing enought comics blogging lately, you say? Well, this is technically a comic-book blog, I suppose. I just haven't been reading very many comics lately. I even have a small pile of review comics accrued here from various and sundry sources: if you've sent me a comic to review in the past couple weeks, I have it and intend on reviewing it. Believe it or not, I'm actually trying to see if I can get some reviews published in more real publications, not just this dinky little blog. So, your gracious patience might just be well rewarded.

Anyway, I mentioned the DC solicits yesterday. I never go through the solicits myself, for the simple reason that I don't believe anyone cares what I would buy if I were placing advance orders through Previews. But, people seem to like it when I mock the bad comics, so we'll try something different. The following comics are comics I will most definitely not be buying under any circumstances. Find out why through the magic of alt text. It's that simple!

Batman #636

See, I told him to let go of my fucking Eggo, see? I had to do it. It was me or him, the dirty bastard. Now he's dead. Don't blame me. I told him to leggo.

Nightwing #102

Whoa! It's just like that dream I had with the half naked boys falling out of the sky ...

Batgirl #60

The Penguin always liked the ladies with the meaty thighs.

Aquaman #26

Aquagirl's personal trainer, however, is much less focused on mass than with tone. But Aquagirl always cheats on her crunches, as you can probably tell.

Doom Patrol #8

You know, John Byrne may be just *this* far away from becoming the next Dave Sim, but this is actually a pretty striking cover.

Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student TPB

Photo reference? I don't know what you're talking about...

Hawkman #36

Like I said: the D stands for Dave.

Rebirth #4

Over-rendering? I don't know what you're talking about...

JSA #69

I suppose there's a good reason why we had to get such an ... unflattering ... perspective of Hawkgirl? Oh yeah, look at the issue number...

Legion #2

Now With 50% More Nerds!

Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives #1

Who says that God doesn't have a sense of humor?

Space Ghost #3

In all seriousness, the only person who wanted to see this was Alex Ross, and maybe Al Toth, if he still cares. Seriously, I predict that 4/5 of the people who pick this up in the store to flip through will put it down once they see that it's not, you know, funny, like every Space Ghost cartoon that anyone has seen in the past decade. Why they haven't made Adult Swim comics yet is beyond me. Hell, I'd write the Aqua Teen book myself for free. You hear that DC? For. Free.


Tin Tin? No never heard of him. Why do you ask?

Sleeper Season Two #8

You mean, this is, like, a Gen-13 spin-off? Ew. I am so outta here.

Constantine Movie Adaptation

Say it with me, you know you want to, in your best ted Theodore Logan voices: Whoa.

Swamp Thing #11

The really good news is, I just saved a bunch of money by switching my car insurance to Geico.

Composite Superman Action Figure

This, ladies and gentlemen, is officially the Nerdiest Object Ever Discovered. I feel better knowing that it exists. Seriously, what kind of joke can you possibly make about the existence of this figure, that could possibly be worse than the joke played on us all by its mere existence?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

He Who Hates, Loves

I owe every regular reader of this blog an official Big-Ass Apology. I re-read yesterday's entry and realized that it was almost total gibberish.

Usually, when you write something, its a good idea to edit it. That way your misspellings are kept down to a dull roar, the bad syntax is shaven away, the diction is cleaned up. I did none of these things yesterday, and sure enough it looks like Corky from Life Goes On wrote the entry.

No, not that Corky.

Anyway, in the interest of self-flagellation, here's what I should have done to yesterday's post:

"Last night's gig at the Common Ground in Allston (just outside of Boston) was... interesting. They were broadcasting the Boston/NY game previous to when Anne was set to start. So... as you can imagine, based on how much of a wash the game was, it was an interesting night." I used the word "interesting" twice in three sentences. The second sentence is just awkward - should have been "The Boston/NY game was being shown previous to the beginning of Anne's set." Even that's not really satisfactory. "After the Sox got creamed (and really, they got creamed), the crowd wasn't very interested in dancing. There were a couple of surly, drunken Sox fans who even made menacing gestures towards Anne when she started performing, because they turned the sound off of the game around the eighth inning." I should have more clearly established that they turned the game's sound off in the eighth-inning because the game was pretty hopeless at that point, and even a die-hard would have to admit there was no way the Sox we're going to find ten runs in the space of a single inning. "Sheer masochism - do they like sitting around and cutting themselves with razor blades, too? I don't take kindly to people who want to throw beer bottles at my wife." This just wasn't a very well-constructed paragraph, all things considered. The sentences just seem to be thrown out at random, with no regard for any sort of structure. Who wrote this shit? Oh, I did...

"But it wasn't all bad. It was very quiet after the game crowd filtered out, because even though there was a slight influx of people later on in the night, it was still very subdued." Come on! I said the same thing twice in the same sentence! Plus, its slightly confusing - if there was a second influx of people, why was it sitll subdued if the original, depressed crowd had mostly left at that point? This just keeps getting worse. "Anne met a couple of people who were really digging her, though, which is always satisfying. This one guy was really appreciative, btu he was also very gay, so I didn't feel too threatened." You people shouldn't have to wade through a pile of "btu"s and "teh"s to understand what I'm saying. This ain't a propane blog.

"I just have one more question. Say you're a New York fan and your team is playing Boston in a heated playoff game. Why would you go to a crowded bar/club that you knew would be packed full of inebriated Sox fans? Do you have a death wish, or what? They left around the sixth inning, however, leaving very quietly." Come on - "leave" and "left" in the same sentence. How redundant. This was obviously written by a dislexic third-grader. "The hundred-and-fifty or so inebriated and violent Sox fans stopped being amused by the eight Yankee fans' joyous outbursts when the score got to 18-9. It would have been a fight if they hadn't known when to quit - those same mooks who wanted to pummel my wife would have seen to that." That was just very awkwardly phrased.

What can I say? I'll try to be better. I'm sorry. I am a bad blogger. Bad! Bad!


DC Solicitations are up, for those who care. I am just happy to see that Plastic Man is still being published. If I had any extra dough, I'd run a contest for the book, because I think it is that good, and that deserving of your hard-earned sheckles - but I can barely afford to buy the book myself. So you will just have to take my word for it. A number of people have already done so, and they haven't regretted it (I think).

Also, while the Adventures of Superman solicit doesn't seem to have given away any Identity Crisis spoilers, the solicit for the Teen Titans book mentions very plainly that Lex Luthor's armor is a major plot point in the series. Meaning Lex Luthor plays a part. Meaning, Luthor is probably the murderer, or in charge of the murders. Which is only what I said three months ago.

Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 4 in an ongoing Series)

The iguana is in your mind.

Ignatz the Abstract-Expressionist Iguana

"Trying To See The Iguana Is Merely A Vestigial Impulse Of The Euro-Centric Aesthetic Fascism Of Representative Imagery – But If There Was An Iguana, He’d Sure Love To Eat These Delicious Fruity Flakes!"

I don’t know why this one didn’t fly. Kids love modern art. Perhaps there was a licensing snafu.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

There's A Treasure Map On The Back Of The Declaration of Independence

So once again I'd like to thank everyone who ponied up a little bit of scratch for the O'Neil Survival Fund (and especially that one guy who ponied up more than a little - you know who you are!) But we're not out of the woods yet, so if you enjoy the free content I provide here, think about putting a fee sheckles into the cup. I know content has been a bit scattershot lately, but that's just a function of the fact that literally everything in our lives is up in the air right now - we don't even know where we'll be living this time next month! Uncertainty is just a killer. But every time someone cares enough to contribute to this blog, it makes us feel that much better to think that someone, somewhere is pulling for us.

Now, all I need is a literary agent and a paying gig and life would be just about perfect. If you can help out with either of those, well, you know the address.

Big day in terms of new and fun articles. Of special interest to the comics crowd is my obituary for Christopher Reeve, courtesy of Popmatters. Its a pretty nice piece but, honestly, writing a good obituary is almost impossible to screw up. As long as you don't start ranting about necrophilia or something, you should be OK.

I'm a lot more proud of this piece on the new Green Day album. I was quite surprised with how good this one was... I figured I'd be writing a rave review of the new Green Day about the same time I was booking a rocket trip to the moon, if you catch my drift. But, there you have it.

Last night's gig at the Common Ground in Allston (just outside of Boston) was... interesting. They were broadcasting the Boston/NY game previous to when Anne was set to start. So... as you can imagine, based on how much of a wash the game was, it was an interesting night. After the Sox got creamed (and really, they got creamed), the crowd wasn't very interested in dancing. There were a couple of surly, drunken Sox fans who even made menacing gestures towards Anne when she started performing, because they turned the sound off of the game around the eighth inning. Sheer masochism - do they like sitting around and cutting themselves with razor blades, too? I don't take kindly to people who want to throw beer bottles at my wife.

But it wasn't all bad. It was very quiet after the game crowd filtered out, because even though there was a slight influx of people later on in the night, it was still very subdued. Anne met a couple of people who were really digging her, though, which is always satisfying. This one guy was really appreciative, btu he was also very gay, so I didn't feel too threatened.

I just have one more question. Say you're a New York fan and your team is playing Boston in a heated playoff game. Why would you go to a crowded bar/club that you knew would be packed full of inebriated Sox fans? Do you have a death wish, or what? They left around the sixth inning, however, leaving very quietly. The hundred-and-fifty or so inebriated and violent Sox fans stopped being amused by the eight Yankee fans' joyous outbursts when the score got to 18-9. It would have been a fight if they hadn't known when to quit - those same mooks who wanted to pummel my wife would have seen to that.

Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 3 in an ongoing Series)

She wants to rock and roll all night and eat cereal every day.

Kory the Kiss Army Kangaroo

“It's cold gin time again,
You know it's the only thing that keeps us together,
Besides eating a bowlful of these delicious Berry Bunches of Oats!”

Apparently Kiss wasn’t a very recognizable license for the under-five set.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Meet The Hurting

If you live in the Boston area, come out and meet Mr. and Mrs. Hurting tonight. Check out the details here. I'll be the guy behind the girl with the purple hair, hopefully not too drunk.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 2 in an ongoing Series)

It’s a junkie alligator.

Alphonse The Jazzy Alligator

"Daddy Needs His Medicine . . . And A Heapin’ Spoonful Of Wacky Sugar Pops!"

For some reason this mascot made a number of General Mills executives very nervous. They did suffer financially after pulling plans for the character, as the had lined-up an extremely lucrative merchandising deal with Oneida to make special Alphonse Alligator cereal/miscellaneous spoons.


Rejected Breakfast Cereal Mascots
(Number 1 in an ongoing Series)

Image Hosted by

Morris The Suicidal Marsupial

"I Love Fruity Winks So Much I Have To End It All Now."

Apperently this one didn't test very well with confused tots.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Clive Barker's Book of the Damned IV

Every once in a great while, you run across a comic book that makes you wonder "What the hell were they thinking?" This fourth volume in the companion series to Marvel/Epic's Hellraiser anthology is one those books.

I do not say this because it is in any way a bad book. Not at all, although it is "bad" in the sense that it is evil. I say this because this is quite possibly the most disturbing book that Marvel has ever published, at any time and under any aegis. If this book had ever accidentally fallen into the hands of a zealous parent or ambitious prosecutor, the offending retailer would have undoubtedly been convicted on obscenity charges. Seriously, this shit is hardcore. If Avi Arad could go back in time and burn every copy of this book before it left the printers, I think he would.

Thankfully for him, there aren't too many copies of this in print. Hellraiser was a fairly successful franchise for Marvel for a few years in the early 90s, spawning numerous spin-offs and seasonal specials (seriously, there's a Hellraiser Christmas Special out there that must be seen to be believed). The franchise imploded in the mid-90s when every wannabe Marvel franchise imploded: they were pushing out tons and tons of spin-offs with no particular audience in mind, all of which floundered and eventually destroyed any remaining support for the core title. Towards the end, they even had a Code-friendly Hellraiser spin-off, The Harrowers, aimed at the newsstand market, with pencils by Gene Colan. Tell me that was in any way shape or form a remotely good idea.

I'm not usually one for horror movies. Not that I have anything against being scared, its just that most horror films are not very good. I mean, seriously, what is so frightening about Freddie Krueger or Jason Vorhees or any of those punks? The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was very creepy, but the story itself paled next to Tobe Hooper's evocation of a suitably terrifying mood. Frankly, most "slasher" flicks that revolve around some masked maniac or supernatural monster killing lots of people until they are ultimately defeated are kinda dull.

But the Hellraiser films were, and are, substantially different.

Hellraiser continues to scare the pants off of me. I am a grown-ass adult and the first two movies in the series are still guaranteed to creep me out for days afterwards. The later ones are hit-and-miss, but that can be easily attributed to creator Clive Barker's steadily decreasing participation in the franchise. He sold the movie rights in exchange for the ability to make the first film exactly as he wanted to make it. He did it on a shoestring but it still holds up amazingly well, unbelievably creepy and still very effective. One of the most underrated films of the 1980s.

The basic concept behind the cinematic Hellraiser series, as well as Barker's original novella The Hellbound Heart, are deeply indebted to Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft presented a cosmos demarcated by primal elder gods and monstrously powerful alien creatures, all of whom regarded humanity as nothing more than, at best, a passing inconvenience, and at worse, food. Lovecraft's universe is a harsh and unkind place, and if you ignore August Derleth's dubious contributions to the mythos (and who doesn't?), the Cthulhu cosmos is totally devoid of any conception of good or evil. Ultimately, the universe is split between the elder gods, the crawling chaos, and the dark geometric aliens who made Earth their home billions of years before mankind. Man doesn't fit into this mythology as anything but lunch.

Hellraiser takes this one step further. The dark elder forces in the Hellraiser mythos - represented by the dark god Leviathan - have as little regard for humanity as Cthulhu and Co. The difference between the two is that while Cthulhu may regard humans as nothing more interesting than an occasional snack, Leviathan actively despises the teeming chaos of humanity and wishes to impose an unnatural order on our society. And of course, by order they mean that they want to rip us all limb from limb and put us back together again until we make sense.

You don't have to know that Barker is very openly queer to see the S&M undertones here. Whereas most horror monsters deal in strictly sublimated sexualized violence, the Cenobites who serve Leviathan's whims are very blunt instruments of sado-masochistic desire. They are always talking about "pleasure through pain", and the exquisite delights of unbelievable agony. The fact that the monsters are all dressed like refugees from the local leather bar is hardly the most subtle indicator.

It's easy to make light, but the fact is that the blueprints of the Hellraiser mythos, as laid out in the pages of Marvel's adaptions, were almost unrelentingly grim. Most horror is based around simple archetypes: the demon, the killer, the monster. Isolated phenomena that can be dispatched without ultimately disruptign the fabric of reality too badly. Serial killers are real, but they are all too human and can be dealt with acordingly. Any cosmology that creates demons also creates angels. Most horror is self-correcting, for the simple reason that you don't want to drive your audience insane with by overwhelming them with inescapable nihilism.

Hellraiser, however, posited a horror mthos driven by the basic concept of hell as an infinite concentration camp, run by a horde of fiendishly creative Dr. Mengeles who have sworn allegience to a millennia-long religious inquisition of all things flesh. A serial killer can be dismissed because they're crazy, a demon because they're patently, irredeemably evil. But real-life monsters like Nazis can't be so easily dismissed. They are evil, yes, but they are also human, and their threat was the threat of a banal indifference to suffering and misery, and the all-too real potential for cruelty that exists within us all. The people who shuffled the Jews and the gypsies and the homosexuals into cattle cars that took them to death camps were human, just like you and me, and they weren't crazy or ignorant. The image of hell as an eternal Auschwitz, where you are tortured for eternity not because you were bad and are suffering in a righteous flame of retribution, but merely because you were born is enduringly terrifying. There is no higher morality at work in the Hellraiser mythos: there is all-consuming fear and there is never-ending pain. That's it.

Marvel produced some good - and some not-so-good - Hellraiser books over the course of their run. Pretty much everyone who ever had anything to do with painted comics did some work for the book at one point, from Scott Hampton to Dave McKean to John Bolton. Alex Ross did his first published comic work for the book (I think, I may be mistaken). As a hardcore Christian, however, he hated Hellraiser and everything it stood for and almost refused to take the assignment until - reportedly - Clive Barker personally begged him to illustrate a story, on the grounds that it would give Ross' talent a showcase that would enable him to move on to bigger things. Sure enough, it did. Neil Gaiman did a story for the book. Colleen Doran did two. Bernie Wrightson, Ted McKeever, Kevin O'Neill, Jorge Zaffino, Kyle Baker, Gray Morrow, Bill Siekiewicz... the list goes on. Larry Wachowski (yes, that Larry Wachowski) even recieved some of his earliest writing credits on the book.

But we're talking about one book in particular. The fourth Book of the Damned featured "The Revelations of Johnny John". The idea is that this is the "revelation" of a convicted killer named Johnny John, sentenced to death on the electric chair for murdering a priest. After his death, they find a book in his cell that illustrates John's experiences in hell and foretells the coming apocalypse, when hell finally conquers the earth and, basically, everyone dies and is dragged off to hell for eternal torment. No heaven, no angels, just never-ending suffering on an inconceivable level.

This is a depressing, gruesome, unbelievably nihilistic comic. Probably the most extremly nihilistic thing I've ever read, and I consider Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho to be one of the great works of American fiction. I don't recommend reading it unless you have a strong constitution and are not easily frightened by gore.


Here, we see Johnny John drowning in a river of blood. How fun! From the people who brought you Muppet Babies!


Here, we see the dead being force-fed their own bodies, and loving every second of it.


I've never even heard of porn that has has people being force-fed their own vomit. He says that vomiting up his stomach and internal organs is "orgasmic".

This is the image on the front of the program for the Harper Valley Elementary School First Grade Spring Pageant.

This is my favorite. Nothing like the implication of human remains being ground up in a meat grinder.

You get the idea. There are pages and pages and pages of this stuff, 48 pages in all. There's a part of this that is just absurd, but there's also a part that is just batshit-crazy frightening. I wonder what kind of people bought this book when it hit the stands. I really and truly do. I know there are people out there who listen to Norwegian black metal and read about serial killers all day who would get a real kick out of this, but in all honesty I think that this kind of nihilism is beyond even the weird kids who give themselves plastic surgery to look like 700 year old dark elves. This is just evil, and I feel dirty after reading it. Which is probably the point, but still.

It's rare that anything in the horror genre can achieve the status of truly, profoundly frightening. I think most horror is just sort of funny. Hellraiser, however, is deeply, deeply disturbing on that very profound level. There's something essentially disturbing about any fictional universe where suicide is the only escape from unrelenting pain (unless you're in hell already, in which case suicide will do no good). This kind of sickness is too outrageous to be funny or diverting, it is just chilling... because it reminds me that as amazingly evil as this is, mankind has done no worse throughout the realms of history.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Songs of Faith and Devotion

Hey! New remix up at! It's Wolverine #20! There's zombie ninjas and stuff! Woot!

I should probably say that this next bit was inspired by the good men over at PostModernBarney, who do their best to keep the world safe for ambiguously gay comic-bookery. (Actually, there's just one person over there and his name is Dorain, but it sounded nice so I'll go with it). He's got a recurring features called "Subtext? What Subtext?" where he takes obscure comic book panels and covers and puts them in a somewhat... interesting ... light. It's consistently one of the funniest things on this here blogosphere.

This isn't really a "Subtext? What Subtext?" moment, however, more like a "Get Your Dirty Mind Out of the Gutter" moment. It's been in the back of my mind for a good few years, but I've never thought to share before:

This is, of course, one of the most famous comics of the Golden Age: All-Star #3, the first meeting of the fabled Justice Society and the first true super-team in the history of comics. It's an iconic image for any super-hero fan, with the world's greatest super-heroes assembled for the first time around the same table.

Except... well, doesn't it look as if the Sandman, the Spectre, the Flash, Dr. Fate and Green Lantern are all doing something... suspicious? They all have one hand under the table. The Flash and GL have some oddly pacific looks on their faces. Surprisingly, Hawkman and the Atom, the most S&M obsessed of all the Golden Age heroes, have both hands "above boards", so to speak.

This amusing interpretation was amazingly preserved when the cover was redone for Two-Morrows' All-Star Companion, this time featuring characters who had been left out of the original cover to All-Star #3, some sixty years previous.

It's a nice piece of work by the great Murphy Anderson, even if it is perhaps a little too loyal to the original, in terms of the easily misinterpreted gestures of certain super-characters. Take a look at this black and white draft of the cover art (courtesy, of course, of Two-Morrows):

Starman and Johnny Thunder seem to have rather... odd looks on their faces, don't they? Even Superman is getting in on the onanistic fun. Notably, however, Batman looks appropriately disgusted, radiating the "I Don't Know You People" vibe so hard that Dr. Midnight there will probably piss blood in the morning. Wonder Woman and Black Canary look blessedly oblivious... although Diana looks maybe a bit too oblivious.

They went back to this well a second time for Roy Thomas' Alter-Ego fanzine, this time inserting Timely/Marvel's Golden Age crew in place of the JSA:

Man, Cap and the Whizzer are just having the time of their lives. The Whizzer is so freakin' happy he can't stop tapping the tabletop. Captain America just looks drunk on sin.

Hopefully you will never be able to look at the Justice Society the same way again. They're all just a bunch of dirty old men who like to get together and touch themselves in naughty places. No wonder they couldn't even manage to ever dodge that Johnny Thunder idiot. They were too busy doing other, dirtier things.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


So here's where I thank everyone for their outpouring of support in the wake of Friday's posting. It was truly breathtaking, especially from everyone who saw fit to actually donate a little to the O'Neil family preservation fund: it's not going to save the day but it is going to make the small anxieties a little bit easier to deal with.

Seriously, when my wife saw the extent to which certain people were willing to go to help out a perfect stranger, she couldn't help but crying. She's been crying a lot lately, but they're not usually tears of joy.

All things considered, I was initially hesitant to post any sort of personal entry like that. It was actually Milo who convinced me of the necessity of occasionally "passing the hat around", despite the fact that I felt kind of embarrased about it. Fact is, times have been tough. I don't get paid to do this blog, but I try to keep up with it because I know for a fact there are people out there who appreciate what I do. Comics are important to me, even if they are an incredibly frustrating field to be involved in on even a tangential level. But as stupid as the comics themselves may be at times, the people who like comics and work in comics seem to be, for the most part, a bunch of really good people.

If you're not a good person, you probably know who you are, so I shouldn't need to castigate you for being an asshole.

In any event, I thought the Ziggy remix was a good idea, even separate from the cirumstances. Ziggy is one the most pathetically simple comic strips of all time, so I figured it might be effective to put some actual pathos in those word bubbles. I think I would like nothing better than to see Ivan Brunetti do some Ziggy. That would make me very happy.

So, basically, thanks for all the kinds words, kind thoughts, and kind deeds by a very few of you who also know who you are. Thanks to Milo as well - I know he's got a curmudgeonly reputation, but underneath it all he's just a big fuffy teddy bear of love.

Mr. Milo George, in a rare candid photograph taken on 09/08/03.

My new favorite stop on the Comics Blogosphere is Captain Corey. There are few pleasures in this world like bad movies, and I have a feeling that Captain Corey agrees with that sentiment, because he just wrote about friggin' Timemaster. Carry on, mighty hydrocephalic warrior. Makes you feel like humanity is in good hands.

Here's today's visual oxymoron:

Why the hell would anyone have this comic graded? Tell me, please. I can understand why you'd have something that was actually valuable, like an Action #1 or an Amazing Fantasy #15 graded, but I will bet you money that I can walk into any comic book store in this entire country that has a decent selection of back issues and get this in good condition for two dollars or less.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Music For The Masses

I'd say you could help out by making a donation ...

Or purchasing an item through one of my Amazon links ...

But in all honesty ...

Unless you've got enough money sitting around for first and last month's rent on another house ...

Or have particular sway over someone in the Veterans' Administration bureaucracy  ...

It wouldn't really do a lot of good.

Things are going to get better. At this point, they sorta have to.

Because at this point ...

They can't get any worse.