I’m too sluggish from all the turkey to offer anything remotely resembling an intelligent opinion today. Thankfully, there have been enough thoughtful reviews and essays out on the comics blogosphere over the past few weeks to make up for my lack of loquaciousness.
I’ll start off in Argentina, where Amadeo Gandolfo read my post about “Overlooked Comics Month” and decided contribute by writing a post on Ed Brubaker’s Deadenders series that Vertigo published oh-so-many years ago.
Unfortunately, Gandolfo’s essay is in Spanish (duh), but those of you who aren’t fluent or don’t feel like wading through Google’s translator should take heart. Although I’m sure I can’t take credit for it, other folks seem to have taken an interest in the idea of writing about older, “somewhat ignored” comics. For instance, there’s Leroy Douresseaux’s essay on Thriller, John Flutz‘s look at Jack Katz’s The First Kingdom and, on a somewhat related note, Kristy Valenti‘s overview of Adam Warren’s career (not that he’s overlooked or anything, but I feel safe in saying it’s been awhile since anyone thought about Dirty Pair).
* And while we’re on the subject of blogging about old comics, here’s the type of ambitious project that makes my heart go all pitter-pat: Over at Sequart, Marc Sobel is reviewing and breaking down every issue in the original, magazine-sized run of the Hernandez Brothers’ Love and Rockets. He’s currently up to number 26:
This opening page is also Jaime’s most explicit sexual scene in his half of the series thus far (Gilbert has, of course, been much more graphic than Jaime). When asked by Gary Groth if he thought “sex in Love & Rockets is frivolously portrayed,” Jaime said “A lot of punk girls I met would talk about anything. Sex, anything. And I liked that openness about it. So I never had anything to hide talking about that…I try to portray sex as it is. People talk about it. People do it. People have their own little ways of doing it, their own ways of not doing it. I try to put it down there. And I make up a lot because I know that there are no boundaries. People will go to any lengths.”
* If Internet dust-ups are more your speed, there’s always the one that occured over at Savage Critics last week, between Diana Kingston-Gabal and Gail Simone. Sadly, they agree to disagree rather quickly, but there are plenty of other folks in the comments section ready to offer their thoughts on the matter:
Gail, get the fuck off the internet and work on your stories. Whether Diana entertained you or not, whether she’s as good as Abhay or not, she’s 100% right about your recent work. It’s weak, sloppy, and borderline formulaic. I liked your first Wonder Woman pretty well, but I went in expecting better. Don’t go bitching about critics disappointing you, when you’re disappointing us.
* If you’ve been following or are at all interested in the new Schulz biography by David Michaelis and the controversy surrounding it, you owe it to yourself to read Jeet Heer’s two essays on the book (be sure to read the comments from Schulz’s widow and his children):
Some fans of Peanuts are keen to emphasize the dark side of the strip, in order to counteract the syrupy “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” reputation it has. The dark side of the strip is there, but there is also joy in Peanuts: the Snoopy dance surely owes something to Schulz’s gratitude for being alive, when he could easily have died as a soldier. After the War, Schulz knew every day was a gift and intensity with which he lived his life was a testament to how much the gift meant to him. As a biographer, Michaelis seems to want to give us a “dark” portrait of Schulz, in the same way that DC Comics occasionally offers up a “dark” version of Batman or the Green Lantern (to shake things up and make the stories more interesting). But the darkness of the portrait hides some key elements of Schulz’s life. The shadows don’t just give character and create mood, they also obscure and distort.
* Elsewhere, Dick Hyacinth casts his cold eye on the comics bloggers and what exactly they have to complain about:
The thing that I find most irritating about fan ownership is not its deleterious effect on online comics criticism, but that it seems to bind fan and character together for all of eternity. That’s absolute insanity. It’s what allows Marvel and DC to keep a stranglehold on the Direct Market against all logic.
On a related note, Leigh Walton basically agrees:
The remaining fanbase is extremely emotionally invested in the characters. If you put out a Batman comic book I don’t like, you are insulting my friend Batman. If you write a comic book in which Sue Dibny is raped, then you have caused my friend Sue Dibny (or worse, my reader-avatar Sue Dibny) to be raped, and I am understandably hurt and furious.
* Over at The Visual Linguist, Neil Cohn tries to explain why photo-comics and CGI-type comics leave him cold:
The problem is that they don’t come from some sort of conceptual basis. They are just capturing events in the (virtual-)world and the displaying them in segmented parts. But, contrary to regular comic sequences, they aren’t produced to be sequential.
(This may be the same reason that pin-up/cover artists don’t always translate to being good “storytellers”: they are used to drawing single images, not sequences. Or: they have good visual vocab, not so good visual grammar.)
* Finally, I’ll leave you with some snark via Kevin Chuch’s rant about the reviews in Comics Buyer’s Guide:
Star rating systems are the lowest common denominator in reviews. Yes, they give non-readers something to glance at to make a snap judgment, but what’s the point of a review if it’s not being read? Of course, complaining about the EZ-Glance System Of Reviews means completely putting aside the fact that much of the commentary mentions the age-inappropriateness of the reviewed material or discusses legacy corporate-owned characters with a heightened sense of entitlement.