Monday, June 30, 2008
Let me get a picture of her:
Though, for my money, nobody beats Theodore "Teddy Bear" Parsley Jr. His cereal ads alone are legendary. You know, the ones where he is on the horse, trying to balance the bowl of Cheerios, wearing that Sheriff Lobo jacket.
There is a Faulkner novel somewhere in all this. Or at least Truman Capote.
Okay, non sequitur over.
This photo essay at JPG Magazine explores different ways to "kill" your Barbie; but of course it's more than that:
"This body of work aims to comment on how accustomed we have become to violence, death and horror in our society. It also talks about the victimisation of women and how the `perfect´ body image has been warped into an unrealistic ideal that most people have no chance of attaining."
That said, this leads in perfectly to how I found a couple of stomped Barbies in the middle of the street Saturday. One had been stripped and was apparently ground into the sidewalk face-first with a shoe. I of course took them home and made sure their hair was properly brushed and conditioned. And you might think I'm kidding, but they are actually sitting my house with coconut conditioner in their hair, reading miniature copies of "In Style" and drinking mojitos.
Anyway, my favorite pic in that photo essay:
Call me Funless McFunnery, but I can't fathom why people would willingly go on roller coasters. I hear these stories like "oh yeah, they drop you and then catch you and suddenly shoot 90 degrees" and I'm like: "why?" Just why. I like my stomach contents in my stomach.
Are these Six Flags superhero rides just a bit more dangerous, or is it merely a coincidence? A teenager just got decapitated on the Batman ride, and last year a girl lost her feet on the Superman ride.
To be fair, in the Batman ride case, the teen allegedly jumped a fence and went in an unauthorized area. To retrieve a hat he lost when he was on the ride earlier.
And that's another thing: hats. What's up with that?
I'm not usually motivated to purchase wacky T-shirts online but this one got my attention:
That was such a key line in the "Iron Man" movie, wasn't it? "You morons, Tony Stark built this friggin' armor in a cave with two paperclips and some saliva, and you can't duplicate it with all my millions?"
Ah, Jeff Bridges. No longer "The Dude," playing "The Man."
Shirt from Neighborhoodies.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Just to have on record. Received it about 6-7 months before I left, after three-and-a-half years of service. Personally signed by Paul Levitz. When you receive this, you are invited in Paul's office and he thanks you in person for good service to the company. You also receive a cash prize. Usually everybody (in the entire company) gets called in to the 7th floor conference room and they announce the awards. I don't remember if that happened in my case or not. But, I got it.
Just to have on record. I'll be permanently including this as a link on the sidebar to my blog.
/stuff you find when cleaning your closets.
//yeah, I believe the "carrot" refers to Bugs Bunny.
///also carrot in front of the horse to pull the buggy, I guess.
////at Acclaim Comics I won a free SNES and the Turok videogame cartridge, but that was the result of a game of chance.
After reading the fascinating "Strange And Stranger: The World Of Steve Ditko" by Blake Bell this past weekend, I have decided that I like Ditko just a little bit more than his fellow Marvel Comics legend Jack Kirby. And I'll tell you why.
10. I Love The Slightly More Kooky Types
They are always more interesting.
9. I Met Ditko
Granted, he only opened the door a sliver to take the envelope I was delivering to him. But, now I too am part of the legend.
8. He Shamelessly Let His Personal Philosophy Send His Book Off The Rails
The story in Bell's book of how Ditko let his Ayn Randian viewpoint virtually hijack Spider-Man is a must-read. See point #10.
7. He Did His Time Doing Soft-Core Fetish Art
Kirby might have had to do romance comics, but Ditko had him beat.
6. His Acid-Trip Imagery Was Better Than Kirby's
Yes Kirby had those trippy collages. But, Ditko's Dr. Strange backgrounds were hardcore.
5. He Created That Iconic Peter Parker "Spidey Half-Face" Shot
For that alone he deserves an Eisner, as well as a full pension.
4. He Refuses To Do Work That Goes Against His Ideals
Which allowed him to turn down a Batman assignment for having "supernatural elements," for example, while drawing "Chuck Norris And His Karate Kommandos" was perfectly ok.
I'll take Ditko's impossibly-jointed, flexible fingers over Kirby's squared-off hands any day.
2. Shade The Changing Man, The Creeper, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and The Question
No, they're not The Hulk, Thor, and the rest. They're just f**king awesome.
1. Speedball And Squirrel Girl
"Strange And Stranger: The World Of Steve Ditko" is currently available from Fantagraphics Press
Last chance to for for Scott Brown's RED ICE on Zuda!
We have a modest goal here; currently it's in 9th place, let's try and make it at least 5th by tomorrow!
If we all work together, this can be a better world.
(goes back to watch YouTube clips of the opening to Family Ties being dubbed with the theme song to Who's The Boss)
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Note the music the Salvation Army band plays -- that was stuck in my head all day for some reason, and I just had to dig the clip up.
Okay, and just for good measure:
Okay, back to work.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Wanted to check in and explain a little further what I'm currently doing with the blogs.
Guide to Val's blogs:
Cool Aggregator: I made a bet with a co-worker that I could create a Boing Boing type blog, with content, within a half-an-hour. Certainly, I wish I had time to take a catchier name, or that "Awesome Sauce" was available. But here we are.
Good ol' Wordpress Cutline template. Everybody's using it, but it never ever ever gets old.
Cool Aggregator is a mix of cool s**t, in the vein of Boing Boing, Neatorama, etc, only a bit crankier. So if you're looking for weird news, outraged news, useless news, bizarre gadgets, and hipster T-shirts, you've come to the right place. Updated regularly.
Occasional Superheroine: What you are reading here. This will basically become my LiveJournal. Updates about me (because it's so thrilling), little personal things you might enjoy, pictures of my cat, etc. The place you go to read profundity. Really. Updated more or less regularly, but with more "LiveJournally" type content.
Comics Spirit: This new blog will be a place where I can feature comics and creators who I think are important. I wouldn't exactly call it a news site or a review site. It's more like a classical fanzine; at least, that is the way I want it to be. Because I want to present more quality posts, this blog will be updated only two or three times a week maximum, maybe more if I have a guest blogger or two. I will announce on this blog when I'm launching it (which I hope to be in the next two weeks).
Review copies: if you want to send review copies, assume it will be for the Comics Spirit blog. Comics Spirit will have more of an emphasis on indie/classic comics -- though not exclusively. (I will also cover webcomics.) Also, since Comics Spirit is not really a review site, I will only feature books that really "speak" to me. It won't be a catch-all, or a situation where I am "compelled" to review because you sent the book to me. That said, if you would still like to send review copies, please inquire
I will occasionally feature a comic on Cool Aggregator, but those will be books that I think might appeal to a larger non-comic reading audience.
And so that's it. A guide to Val's blogs. Val usually finds blogging an enjoyable experience.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I'm putting this blog on hiatus for a week (or so) in protest of the apathy, inferior product, corruption, bureaucratic nightmares, dysfunction, soul-killing, greed, bad contracts, bounced checks, lingering discrimination among selected dinosaurs (sexism, racism, homophobia, ageism), and spineless ass-kissery in certain afflicted sectors of the comic book industry. My apologies to those sectors not afflicted; I still think you're tops.
You can still check out my other blog for some light and frothy pap, or read my narrative Goodbye To Comics. I am currently being filmed for a TV news-magazine type segment, and it's my hope that perhaps this will help both get extra funding for Friends of Lulu and facilitate interest in the adaptation in some medium of my memoir.
As for my future plans for this blog, and comics blogging in general, I would like to launch something along the lines of this (and you can let me know what you think of the idea):
Why We Read
Why We Write
Why We Draw
It would focus on the quality product that is being out out now, as well as individual creators who go above and beyond to create comics of merit. I figure there are enough press-junket coverage out there now, and they do it much better than I do and with better websites.
I've been re-reading those old Marvel Age issues recently, and they are actually (especially the very early ones) very good -- well-researched, with insightful interviews. The format of the classic comics fanzine -- such as Mark Gruenwald championed -- really appeals to me. Certainly, this is not stuff that can be dashed off four times a day. It would require a more careful preparation. But I think it would be rewarding. And maybe it could partially focus on those who work outside the system, who have challenged the system - either in the business itself or just in terms of their groundbreaking comics work.
The biggest comics and the most high-ranking people have their own mouthpieces and publicity machines. I should know, because I have both worked for one monolithic company and I've done PR for others. But, I feel that what is really going to really change this world and this medium are the unique voices. Life is change and diversity. Death is stagnation and uniformity. It's not new age mumbo-jumbo. It's biology and evolution. And, ultimately, it is also business.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I doubted here last week that Didio would be forced to leave. Say what you will about that department -- they take care of their own. Really, you would have to do something like walk into the executive boardroom and take a dump on the table in front of witnesses in order to be in danger of losing your job. And even then, you could just have everyone agree to never mention it again and just wipe down the damn table. And serve donuts on it the next day.
I have nothing against the rest of the company, but seriously -- outside of a few people I've mentioned before on this blog -- I want nothing to do with that particular department or their books until things actually really change for the better. Not a promised change. Not a "this book coming six months from now will really knock your socks off" type of change. But a real f**king change.
That's my right, that's my peaceful protest. Don't worry about me, that I might miss out on crucial books that enrich my comic-reading life. I've purchased enough of these suckers over the last two years to review, literally the majority of which are currently in boxes in my hallway for donation. I'll save up for next season's offerings from Fantagraphics and call it a day. They have a new book with art from old sleazy VHS boxes coming up. I'm not kidding. And I really, really want it.
And any way I can bring my memoirs to print within the bounds of legality, I will do. I will do it my way, I won't soft-pedal it. I will start looking at the multiple drafts again tonight.
I'm not as talented as George Carlin, but I agree with him that it's important that certain things are heard. Because if they aren't heard, everything slides back to the same old s**t. When Didio arrived at DC, he kicked ass. Four long-time editors were either fired or demoted there within a short period of time. That was UNHEARD OF. The office was shaken to its very core. The sight of big metal dumpsters full of the contents of people's offices was a common sight. And his view on it was -- they needed to stay optimistic. They needed to stay on the same page. They needed to stay focused. And anybody who didn't follow that was holding them back. And they had to go. Because it was a new era.
But it's 5 years later, and everything has slid back to the same old s**t. That's the circularity of corporate office culture -- how, if you don't pay attention, it can suck away all your stated goals and ideals. I don't know what it is. Perhaps it's the coffee.
It's like I've watched this government over the last eight years -- the same old s**t. Things are committed that you can't even believe -- and nobody gets blamed. Nobody gets canned. But, worst of all -- nothing changes. It just gets worse. And here we find ourselves, with a f**ked economy. And why are we here? We are here because some prick behind the same desk for the last 30 years wanted desperately to keep his comfortable way of life and his goddamn swimming pool. We're talking thousands of these pricks. In all types of jobs, all over the country. And whenever they see change -- doesn't matter if it's for the good -- they have to kill it. And whenever they hear talk of change -- they have to kill it.
I think Dirk Deppey hit the nail on the head when he referred to DC as being like the Kremlin. There are an awful lot of nice people at DC. But there are a few pricks, too. Not sure where I was going with that metaphor. I just wanted to get the word "prick" in there again, I guess. That damn post-traumatic stress thing again. Figured I say it before another pundit does.
Sorry folks, but I'm closing comments on this one post. I don't want relive this post, or my last year at DC. Unless it will make a kick-ass graphic novel and it's for reals this time.
I've been listening to George Carlin allllllll day. And it's put me in a great mood.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I'm going to be very busy at work Monday, so unless any real breaking news happens, I'm taking a break from blogging on the OS until Tuesday.
But I thought I'd introduce you to this cool new song & performer I'm getting into -- "Still Alive" and Jonathan Coulton.
The song is featured on the game Portal, and you can see and hear the song from the end credits here:
Now here is Jonathan Coulton singing it:
Now here it is in Japanese:
And here is a little girl dancing to it:
Here is a creepy CGI girl singing it:
Now here is Coulton singing it on Rockband:
Now here is Coulton singing it at the concert I was just at on Saturday:
Now here it is backwards:
Now here is a chipmunk singing it:
And here's Luigi from Super Mario Bros singing it:
And I'll leave you with Coulton singing "Sweet Caroline":
Enjoy your Monday, everyone!
Friday, June 20, 2008
"Heroes Con Opens With Whispered Rumors...
... of a major shake-up at DC Comics. I have no idea if they're true..."
significant only because I think Spurgeon doesn't post these things lightly.
Further, he advises us to keep watching CBR and Blog@Newsarama for updates.
Plot your domination of the world in style with a 100% genuine Villain Chair made by the good folks at SuckUK. Made with tasteful "evil" leather, this perch from which you might scheme will only set you back a little over $7,000 American.
"It's simple, under his editorship, DC Comics has consistently been outperformed by the competition. You can't blame him for less that stellar results in other mediums with DC properties. It's the fact that he isn't getting the results that Warner Brothers should be demanding from one of it's subsidiaries.
It's worse than that. He is damaging a lot DC intellectual properties (thats characters and continuity). He should be fired. "
--from the 19-page (and counting) "Fire Dan DiDio Immediately" thread on the DC Message Boards
"It was roughly two, two and half years ago that I opined to Marvel’s David Gabriel that I thought they’d be able to get a ten point lead on DC if they worked a little harder.
That’s now grown to a 20 point lead, or, to put it another way, Marvel is about 50% larger than DC these days.
That’s just ugly.
At the end of the day, that’s down to editorial content " Marvel’s comics are simply more compelling for the audience right now than DC’s."
"Ouch"--Kevin Melrose, Blog@Newsarama
"I think it's worth considering that something as simple as an Invasion of the Body Snatchers rehash might seem somewhat appealing compared to what DC has been dishing out over the last year or so. In fact, it's probably time to consider the damage done by the Countdown miniseries and its related spinoffs."
"Sometimes your boss is wrong. Yup, as amazing as it sounds, Dan DiDio, architect of today's DC Universe, the man who gets up in front of a million fans at conventions across the globe, my boss, was wrong."
--Mark Chiarello, from this week's unintentionally poorly-timed DC Nation
Thursday, June 19, 2008
(The inspiration for this post came to me after talking to a couple who don't have cable and rarely watch TV.)
Here are ten questions (some with related sub-questions). If you thought these were good questions, send them to people you know and see how they answer them.
1. What if you no longer had cable television in your house? Could you do that?
2. What if instead of e-mailing certain family members or friends, you called them up on the phone or just wrote them letters? Could you do that? Do you think a person who completely stopped using e-mail could function in our society?
3. What if you wrote and mailed a physical letter to a dear friend you haven't talked to in a while, instead of e-mailing him or her? Could you do that?
4. Could you go two weeks without communicating by e-mail? (outside of work-related stuff)
5. What if, in response to a long period of time with high gas prices, families decided to live closer to each other? Or friends made a conscious effort to live within walking distance of each other? Could you see yourself doing that? Is that a good idea?
6. Could you stop buying new clothes -- except for those out of sheer necessity -- for a year? Six months?
7. Could you live without the Internet? Are there any websites you positively couldn't live without? What would be more meaningful to you -- a self-published newsletter sent to your house or the same information presented in digital format?
8. Would you enjoy your hamburger as much if you had to slaughter the cow yourself and prepare it? Would you keep buying certain brand name clothes and other high-ticket items if you had to meet the person who put the items together overseas? And see how they live, and how much money they make, and watch their fingers dance around that sneaker or pair of cargo pants and put it together? And spend a few hours in that factory, listening to the hum of a hundred machines?
9. Think back on the last subway ride you had or trip to the mall. Remember the crowd of people -- mostly people you don't know. What if suddenly you had to work with and depend on them in some capacity; these total strangers becoming your necessary friends. Would you see this as an opportunity to meet new people and as a challenge? Or would this horrify you?
10. How long would you work in a job you hated or that bored you? If they paid you very, very well? And gave you dental insurance? Would you take a pay cut to work at something that was dear to your heart? Would you stop eating out and buying as many new clothes and accessories, if it meant working reduced hours at a job and having more time to either work on creative pursuits or spend with your family? And do you think you will ever be able to achieve a living by doing things you love?
Bonus question: Do these questions a) intrigue you, b) annoy you, c) anger you, or d) give you anxiety?
Apparently someone on the Comic Forums posted a message Warren Ellis sent to his mailing list regarding Morrison, Dixon, DC, etc.. (I obviously have no direct link to the mailing list email, so if this is an inaccurate posting of the contents of the message, please let me know).
In the message, Ellis gives praise to the DC leadership while at the same time expressing disbelief at what he views as a series of current debacles. The only seeming blame he has is directed at "some lifers at DC editorial":
"People like talking shit about Dan Didio online. The truth is that he's actually a smart guy who, on entering the company, had to make some tough decisions fairly quickly. It's also true that some lifers at DC editorial are very resistant to any kind of change. Are some of them just plain nasty and dumb enough to say, "screw Morrison, we'll do our own story, and if it blows his big reveals, well, fuck ím''? I would hope not, but it does seem to have happened anyway."
Personally, after reading a number of posts in the last couple of days, including the fairly extensive io9 one by Graeme McMillan -- and just having time to think about it -- my intuition is telling me that all our speculation, pros, cons, guesses, defenses, offenses, parsing, analyzing, etc. is moot at this point.
The tipping point has been reached.
I used to be fairly good at intuiting stuff. I still am, but choose not to focus on this faculty as much as I used to, as it just got in the way and made life appear as one big Happy Days rerun.
The night before Acclaim Comics shut the doors of its NYC location and laid off about 75% of the company, I had a dream that we were all sitting around the conference room table, looking at a cake. Suddenly, everybody cut a slice of the cake, pulled it up close to themselves, and ran away. Then, in the dream, I saw strange people walk through our offices pulling down posters, unplugging computers, and repainting. I even saw one of my coworkers -- one of the few who were kept -- crying and walking the halls aimlessly.
So then I wake up from that, go to work, and get laid off. And it was still a shock, but then I thought back to the night before, and I was like "huh."
The night before one of my bosses at DC got fired, I began work on a short story about a person who worked in the industry for a long time and was suddenly fired and felt disillusioned. I wrote this long, uncomfortable scene where he gets called into the boss's office and let go. I completely didn't know my boss was going to get fired, but maybe I intuited it; picked up on subtle cues in the office that other people missed. Maybe writing that story was my subconscious way to cope.
The morning before another boss got fired, there had been weird rumors going around the office that something to the effect was about to happen. Being a practical, rational soul, I did the only thing I could do -- consult my online tarot cards. When I asked if my boss was really going to get canned, the Death card immediately popped up -- one question, one card. And so I was like, "huh." And when he was let go later that day, I had to fake surprise. Because I had already experienced all the emotions already.
This is all to say, I think I care far too much what happens in the comics industry. I'm supposed to have intuitive flashes about global warming and world wars. Five years from now, the current line-ups at the companies will be largely different, anyway. In some fundamental ways, the medium will be different, too. So what is going to happen in the industry one week from now, one month from now, or one year from now are not really that key. But it might be good for some general online discussion, and a few good books might come out of it.
Even with a complete regime change, it would take nearly a year to get DCU's output back on track, or to have changes really show in the books themselves.
I find Grant Morrison & Alan Moore's esoteric views regarding comic book narratives and how they can reflect reality very interesting. Grant has already admitted to putting "sigils" into some of his comic book narratives in order to create change in the world. In an issue of Promethea, Moore has Hermes/Mercury turn to the reader and wonder about where the boundaries lie between the narrative/reader and fantasy/reality. Crazy stuff, to be sure. But speculated about by two of the most high-profile writers in comic books. Thank God for the sober world of Frank Miller, no?
Over the last five years or so we've seen DC go through an Identity Crisis, an Infinite Crisis, and a year-long Countdown to their Final Crisis.
In the mid-80s, the original Crisis in DC Comics launched a period of, in my opinion, really great comic books by the company. Crisis was the bridge DC crossed to finally leave the camp and "old way" behind, and to embrace a far more adult and literate approach to producing comics. Sure, there were good and smart books that had come out before Crisis, but it was in the aftermath of the event where all the great stuff really burst forth.
I really see Final Crisis as being at the other end of the continuum of that great original series. Crisis launched a period of great expansion and growth for the company. The 1989 Batman movie was like its zenith, coupled with the output of the entity that would soon be Vertigo. Then things began to very slowly devolve. Change stopped in favor of a status quo where people thought they would and should stay in their jobs forever. And yet, there were still great books being put out. But still, there was this slow, steady decay.
DiDio's arrival at DC WAS their new "Crisis." Seen through the eyes of a Morrison or Moore mindset, the events that followed reflected the panic and upheaval in the offices as DiDio applied, to paraphrase a line from the Batman movie, an "enema" to Gotham City. So we had Identity Crisis: "who were we going to be as a company?" And, like in that mini-series, several people were sacrificed in the midst of that period of confusion. But, this happens in every company. Only in comics, we've got the colorful costumes.
I deeply believe that every great period of history and art is proceeded by a devolution to complete and utter chaos. And I firmly believe that the last several years were the DCU's birth pains into a new and better comic book line. Of course, that will not happen as the result of "business as usual." And it won't.
But what do I know? I wanted to see "The Love Guru" in the theaters.
(Final Crisis image found via Comic By Comic)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Should comic book creators go public in their conflicts with their publishers, if only to clarify points that might have been misunderstood by the media?
Dixon, while having many supporters, has also caught some criticism over his remarks. His side of the story is:
"I simply stated that I was off my titles and that I did not quit. This was to get out in front of the rumors. I have a career and a reputation to maintain and I’ve had it maligned before in situations juts like this where I took the high road and the other party used it as an occasion to smear me."
Well, honestly, part of the reason I wrote "Goodbye To Comics" was to clarify/explain points that were misunderstood by some of my acquaintances in the industry based on things they heard that were not accurate. Whether the inaccurate things were purposely spread or simply inferred because of lack of information, I completely do not know. But, I had the desire to set the record straight. Because you bust your ass for years in an organization, you get the "golden carrot" award (literally, a f**king award based on Bugs Bunny's carrot), you get combat pay for dealing with crazy people, you get tons of praise, you get books in on time, and then in the end you watch your reputation go in the toilet. And so what do you do?
Dixon busted his ass for decades in comics, and now he's going to just sit back and be silent while people report that he was suddenly yanked from his books? Honestly, if I had read that news and heard nothing from Dixon, I would have assumed he had f**ked up somehow. Was he late? Did his "political views" get him canned? Maybe he just wasn't a good writer anymore. Who knows? You don't know. You assume. It's a bad habit to assume, but you do. At least now I have some perspective. It's not a full story to be sure. But, it's a start.
There are two central tenets to public relations that I've learned from both study and practice in my jobs:
1. Be transparent.
2. Assume that every skeleton in your closet will eventually be brought to the light of day, and develop a strategy now on how to deal with it when that day inevitably comes.
My boss at at PR firm I worked at when I was 21 told me the latter. A former PR person for (I think) George W. Bush or another Republican wrote about the former in a book. And she admitted that it had become harder and harder for her to put that philosophy in practice, but she still stood by it. She said you need to "own" the publicity before the publicity "owns" you.
Which is what Dixon did.
So I've made some initial observations upon reading this handy-dandy comic book shipping list for 6/18/08:
It seems like the major comic book companies are still getting mileage off of their backlist and older comics that have stood the test of time. This is why continuing to create the classics of tomorrow today is so important. Also as important: knowing that to a large extent, those sort of classics can't be planned.
Also, I really don't know the nitty-gritty about TOKYOPOP, but I was surprised to see that they put out more than twice the monthly output of books that Viz, another major manga company, does. Now, Viz has been around since the time of the flood, and I'm willing to bet that they know what they are doing.
I think Steven Grant touched upon the topic recently of smaller companies whose "eyes are bigger than their stomachs," so to speak, and put out way too much product. I agree: I think this is the kiss of death for an independent publisher. Better you stick with 3-4 really great books a month than 15 of varying quality.
As for me this month, I just might stick with picking up Incredible Hercules #118 and the soft-cover edition of Hope Larson's Chiggers.
Chiggers, which is not put out by that really big comic book company Simon & Schuster.
Now, Chiggers is apparently (according to the list) being released in both hardcover and softcover editions at the same time.
Seriously, who, if given the choice, buys the hardcover? Unless it's like your favorite book ever?
There was a recent book in the bargain bin of my local comic shop from an independent publisher -- this very thin hardcover printed on crappy paper that came out like two months ago and had the price slashed 75%. And I looked at the original price tag on that sucker and I was like: are you f**king kidding me? Seriously, who would buy this?
Preview of Chiggers in New York Magazine.
Anywho, those are my picks.
What are you all buying? Post below!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I miss dose halcyon days of yore when I could just enjoy stupid programming and believe it.
The staff of the Occasional Superheroine blog was saddened to hear that Danbizzle, a regular contributor to our comments section since the seminal Countdown To Change post about a year ago, has decided to call it quits from the OS community. Citing my negativity over Final Crisis and the general direction of the DCU, Danbizzle had to regretfully leave the blog -- destination unknown.
We at the OS feel terrible about the loss of one of our own, and want to extend this teddy bear with flowers to Mr. Bizzle with our sincere apologies if we had offended him. Like Dan, we only want what's best for the DCU.
Monday, June 16, 2008
EIC: DiDio. Concentrates on Hollywood stuff and general big picture. He's been working hard the last five years or so, so it's cool if he just wants to coast and let new managing editor handle a lot of the details.
Managing Editor: Ron Perazza, and I'll tell you why: a) former Marvel editor, b) tons of experience running DC's custom publishing line, c) very well-liked by workers and freelance talent, d) great cultivator of new talent, e) extensive marketing experience.
Superman Editor (aka "Geoff Johns Editor"): Covers all Superman and Green Lantern titles.
Batman Editor (aka "Marts"): Handles all Bat-books.
Quirky Editor (aka "That Indie Guy/Gal"): In charge of aggressively pursuing new talent that can revision classic DC characters (a la "Starman"). This is an important role, because in theory a lot of that is R&D for eventual Time Warner movies/TV. Oh yeah, also -- talented people with unique things to say get work.
Team Books Editor: Justice League/Society, Legion, and Titans books.
Etc Editor: Handles a potpourri of assorted solo books. Give this to an associate editor who looks like s/he has the chops.
Johnny DC Editor: this goes to another Associate Editor.
It is of tantamount importance that all these editors get along and share information.
Incentives should be given to editors to pull in new talent, retain happy older talent, and create cutting-edge new titles. $incentives$ should be given.
And if any editor is caught saying they are tired of being there, are jaded, are just going through the motions, etc., go find another editor. You can't afford jadedness.
On the topic of assistant editors: an assistant editor should be the next generation of editor for your company. Hire and reward accordingly. They are not glorified administrative assistants.
All the books that have been f**ked by extreme creative changes, etc -- axe them and start clean.
As for the continuity between Final Crisis and the build-up -- that's completely f**ked, so don't even worry about it at this point. Just move past that.
And the most critical element: Making DC's books accessible - top to bottom - increasing their casual and ongoing reader base.
That said, I think their "DC Universe" output is, outside certain pockets of material, a massive train-wreck. Rather, the fabric of the DC Universe is a train-wreck, it has no spinal cord, and there are just some selected good things floating around aimlessly around it.
The case regarding this breakdown has been laid out here far better than anything I could have possibly written. So read that and then come back here (if you wish).
In good times, even if you f**k up a bit, you can coast in a place like DC. But, we are virtually in a recession. It will not stand.
Only one of three things can happen now -- and happen soonish.
1. DiDio leaves
2. Certain editors leave
3. DiDio and certain editors leave
This is not "maybe this will happen one day." This is now. Because you need to just slash and burn what is not working there and start planting seeds now.
Honestly? I would be very surprised if DiDio suddenly left or was forced out. I don't think it is going to happen right now.
Further -- While I thought that DiDio made decisions regarding Identity Crisis, etc, that were short-sighted and misguided -- he never made me feel personally uncomfortable as a woman. Shallow of me I know, to count that as a plus for the old man, but yeah, that's part of how I gauge things. Sorry. He never invited me to a strip club after work with freelancers and then publicly told me I was a "prude" for not coming along, he never suggested that I flirt with and date my superiors in order to get management "off all of our backs," and he never made references to my boobage. So bully for Mr. DiDio, he gets a gold star (or at least a silver one).
Now, do I think DC as a whole, after all these years of under one regime, could benefit from starting over again and getting a true comic book veteran -- maybe someone with some previous experience from another successful company -- in the EIC or at least managing editor seat? Sure. Absolutely. Maybe they wouldn't even have to look that far.
But at least -- DC, get in some new editors. Look at your house and go get some new editors. Look at the scorecard, book-by-book, and get a few new editors, and give some others the chance to do everything they wanted to do had they not clung so tenaciously to their jobs thinking it was the best thing they could ever achieve. And it's not an age thing -- God knows, when Andy Helfer was working there he was more in touch with what the youth culture was really reading than we were, and had he been listened to more DC could have gotten a bigger jump on the manga market. It's a jadedness thing. Jadedness is the kiss of death.
Yeah, it's going to be challenging working with DiDio, but go get some fresh new editors, give them some sort of incentive, and see what happens. I once got a bonus expressly for working with a "difficult editor." That's awesome. Do more of that. Lay the groundwork now. Even if you lay the groundwork now, it's going to take at least a year to heal things, but start now.
Now, DiDio has to trust those editors. He has to. He has to get more fresh go-getters like Marts -- and maybe not even from comics, maybe even from standard publishing or other places in DC -- and he has to trust them. Trust them, nurture them, let them shine -- then take some of the credit. It's the easiest goddamn way to run a division. Get great talent, stay out of their way. Get great talent, stay out of their way. Get great talent, stay out of their way.
Until DC addresses certain things I think they didn't handle effectively, I will always have some sort of a chip on my shoulder about them. I'll be honest with you. I would be lying if I said otherwise. There are certain things that...really, I'm disappointed in. Sometimes angry. Usually just disappointed and resigned about. I think those ineffectively handled things -- I think it plain ol' produced bad karma. And there was bad karma from before that, before I was even there. Seriously. And they have to clean the bad karma out of that department. I'm serious -- to the point where they light candles and hire that midget from Poltergeist. It's that bad.
I announced a couple of weeks ago that I was going to write and draw a mini-comic for MoCCA Art Fest entitled "My Freaky-Ass Psychic Abilities" (or something to that effect), but it is clear that with my current schedule that would be impossible. So I figured I'd just write it up instead, as to not be completely inconsistent.
"The Fortune Teller"
Several years ago, I had a boyfriend who didn't think I was "exciting" enough. Apparently, almost bleeding to death as the result of an intimate encounter with him gone awry was not enough to bump up my "extreme" cred to a point that might be Howard Stern-worthy.
So, with his blessing, I began to go out into the world -- also known as Craigslist -- and meet people who were exciting as to have life experiences and thus be exciting enough. Not unlike the hero's journey set forth in the movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure."
These adventures included a hot date with a young woman at a fast food joint that ended with me giving her a platonic little "buddy punch" on her arm with the parting line "take care, Sport" (which she took really well the next morning when she wrote to tell me I was a jackass), a man who tried to convince me over the phone that ingesting urine was "just like drinking vitamin water," and a trip to a rave that ended when one of my companions had his wife or girlfriend dance topless on the bar, inviting other men to touch her boobies.
Undaunted, I contacted a transvestite named Cleopatra (or he contacted me), and we decided to have coffee. He was a very affable older fellow, with a lot of living under his belt. He brought me a corset he had bought recently that didn't quite fit him, and it was a nice gesture. He told me Native American folktales and the best stores in the city to buy nylon stockings. We ended the day by going to a costume shop, and while I was there I spotted a deck of tarot cards on sale.
I had thrown out the last several decks of tarot cards in my possession for various reasons over the years, many of them having to do with my several attempts to become a born-again Christian. Actually, one time I threw out the cards because a New Agey therapist I went to said they were "bad karma." Long story short, I've wasted a lot of money over the years.
So I said goodbye to Cleopatra and headed to the park, where I sat on the steps and began shuffling the cards. Not soon after I started this, the requests came in for readings.
I started doing readings, and, after the first one, I began to charge a nominal fee. Most of the people who requested readings were tourists, and the most common topics were love and work. I must have done about 12 readings that day, and there was very little down-time between readings.
In the middle of this, two Orthodox Jews came up to me with some sort of gourd and a stalk of grass and asked me if I was Jewish. I gave my standard answer, "well, my great-grandmother on my mother's side was Jewish," and they gave the standard answer: "you, ma'am, are Jewish." They asked if I would conduct with them some sort of ritual there on the steps, where I repeat a bunch of words they said. God only knows what I said, what bargains I made to God on those steps.
After the ritual, I went back to my readings. There were a bunch of teenagers in from Chicago, and I read their fortunes. The one boy got a card depicting a man lying in a pool of his own blood with a bunch of swords through his body. Obviously, he wanted to know what that one was about. I thought for a second, and then said, "you will be a detective when you grow up, and you will investigate crimes." Coincidentally, he was actually thinking of entering the FBI or something like that. Then I read the other guy's cards, and I said that he would take some time after school to find himself, "like traveling the United States in a Winnebago." One of his female friends gulped, and said he was just saying that exact phrase, with the word "Winnebago," earlier that day. I felt pretty full of myself and skillworthy, but then I wondered later if they were just shitting me.
Before they left, the first boy whose cards I read said he wanted to take a picture of me. He said it was because if these things really came to pass, he wanted to document it. I thought that was kind of neat, but then I wondered if he would take the photo to the police or something -- "the notorious gypsy card reader."
When my little card-reading expedition was nearing completion, I called my then-boyfriend up and proudly told him what I did. I figured he would think it was "exciting" enough. But instead, he said expending all that psychic energy like that would make me sick.
And it did; I came down with a flu almost as soon as I came home that ended up lasting two weeks. That was when I decided I should really charge more.
New York Times: "Charging By The Byte To Curb Internet Traffic"
"Some people use the Internet simply to check e-mail and look up phone numbers. Others are online all day, downloading big video and music files."If my internet is metered, I don't want ads wasting my bandwith."
For years, both kinds of Web surfers have paid the same price for access. But now three of the country’s largest Internet service providers are threatening to clamp down on their most active subscribers by placing monthly limits on their online activity."
"Time Warner Metering"
The impact on the relatively young video streaming industry will be huge if customers are charged by the amount of bandwith used. From the NYT article:
"Casual Internet users who merely send e-mail messages, check movie times and read the news are not likely to exceed the caps. But people who watch television shows on Hulu.com, rent movies on iTunes or play the multiplayer game Halo on Xbox may start to exceed the limits — and millions of people are already doing those things."
This will have an added benefit to old-model media, because people will be less likely to download books, TV shows, music, and movies -- legally or illegally.
Then there is the idea that metered usage will bring us back full-circle to the early days of AOL & dial-up. Is this a step backward?
Finally, people who have their wi-fi leeched from other people will be charged for bandwith they didn't use.
But, for me the larger issue is that if the internet providers succeed in getting the metering established, we will be one step closer to having to pay for "packages" of Internet content the same way we pay for cable channel packages.
Ok, this question popped in my mind as I was reading Batman RIP --
Is it fair to review any story arc before it's over?
Say, you have a three-issue arc. Should you wait until you collect all three issue before making a judgment call?
I mean, I can't watch 25 minutes of a movie like Iron Man and then review it, can I? And then watch another section the next month and review that?
This is become more and more an issue for me with floppies, this reluctance to review them until I've either finished the mini-series or the arc.
A lot of these comics are written with an eye towards the eventual trade collection anyhow; decompressed storytelling chopped up in arbitrary 22-page sections.
So, what do you think?
Because, I want to be timely and all, but I have very little desire to review Batman RIP until it's over.
Or reviewing the new Eternals series: "well, from what little I read, it seems good!"
The rub comes in when you've got a monthly or a mini and it needs to be promoted somehow and get good initial sales. So the reviews come in handy for promotional purposes. But again -- how valid are these reviews when they are on incomplete stories?
I mean, Final Crisis might be great, read in a trade next year & isolated from the current hubbub. But if you give me issue one now and say: review. What can I say? Nice art? Grant Morrison books tend to suffer the most from breaking them up and reviewing them this way.
I guess all you can really say about these single issues is your first impressions and how you *feel* the series might go.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
X-Force #4: "No, Rahne, what are you--AGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!"
The Goon #25: "Happiness Is For Pussies"
Coptopus #1: "Nemesquid is part mollusk part machine. He's the perfect synthesis of technology and squid..."
The books that have called "X-Force" have been such a strange damned lot. I guess the philosophy with the title has always been: "this is more than just an X-Men book! this is an X-Men book plus plus plus!"
The latest incarnation, written by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, is like a horror movie within an X-Men context, with plenty of blood and chopping. The premise -- what if you put the most slicey mutants together on one team -- almost sounds like something out of an earlier, more gimmick-laden era. What prevents the execution of said concept from being somewhat on the ludicrous side is the surreality of Clayton Crain's painted art.
The way they brought back Archangel seems a little too pat, but it doesn't seem like what really matters. What really matters is that Warren Worthington is back with the slicey things. I always thought he was far more interesting -- and heck, marketable -- as Archangel than the plain old vanilla version. The BF vigorously disagrees with me, but there you go.
One of my first X-Men figures was that Toy Biz Archangel with the two little bulls**t "missiles" (which are like the first thing you lose, like within a week of purchase); it was awesome.
The Goon #25 continues a story arc in which the title character is out to avenge the death of a friend, and heads towards the showdown with the famed Labrazio. This arc has revisited so many plot points since the series began, that I almost feel like writer/artist Eric Powell is trying to wrap this book up and give the famed bruiser a rest. Here's hoping that, like Goon on the outskirts of town, he decides to drive back and continue the battle.
In some ways I've always felt like The Goon is a more accessible version of the Hellboy universe, at least to me; less Lovecraft, and more stinky sewer. God bless The Goon's stinky sewers, and all the horribly mutated things they find in there. I still feel lucky that I can get a monthly book with this consistent level of quality and artistic merit.
Coptopus #1, by Brian Rubin and Collin David, features an octopus that is a cop, and if this isn't a concept begging for its own T-shirt, I don't know what is. The book is a Jhonen Vasquez-esque take on Lethal Weapon, with a trenchcoat-wearing cephalopod teamed up with a clueless human detective. Alas, while this book might seem like the perfect opportunity to engage in some tentacle porn, there is none to be found.
My advice to creators Rubin and David: get this property over to Adult Swim.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Coptopus #1, please head over to Rubin's site and inquire.