Sunday, August 31, 2008

Get Free From the Middle Man

I defy you to not be totally charmed.

Damn Fools - Ben Curran Edition

Hey Kids!

Remember This Post about how if you don't like something, a comic you're reading, a blog you're checking, just stop participating in it?

Well, instead of doing that, Ben Curran over and chose to post a 60 item long list taking childish pot-shots* at things he hates in the comics industry. 

See it here - 
Now, were I to write up this post, saying that Ben Curran sucks for liking Clerks 2** and then continue to read his blog, I would be no better than that which I decry.
Instead I'm just going to point out that acting like Comic Book Guy does nothing to help you be taken seriously, that writing solid reviews and analysis is harder and more interesting, and I will not be reading the Comics Should Be Good! blog any longer. 

Agency, kiddos! Taste the FREEDOM.


* One blogger makes the list because he likes Hawkman. A list of lisenced comics "whose annihilation would make [him] happy." A list of people who should never have written comics. You don't like something so you don't want ANYONE to have it? That is the attitude of a child.

** It should be noted that Clerks 2 is a terrible movie.

Okay, I'm sorry, this is the last one...

He's to sexy for all of those things. 

I promise, I'm done for now.

I should probably start saving these up...

Kids, this is why you don't go down the YouTube Rabbit Hole.


Why is this thing a thing?!

Bad Box-Art Theater

"Why choose a single Fish Related Action Movie Pun when we can have TWO?"

Other than that, I have NO IDEA what the hell is happening here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Adventures in Google Advertising

While I appreciate the concern for my finances, Google, I'll thank you to keep your adds out of my asshole.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Damn Fools - PVP Comics

"If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."
- W. C. Fields

An annoying trend exists in nerd culture, and comics culture specifically, where we cannot let anything go. Comics that we claim suck get our $2.99 every month, we complain about TV shows yet tune in every week, and go to the sequels of the movies that we didn't even like to begin with.

Are we so shut out from the broader pop-culture that we cannot let go of things that are specifically for us? Like so many Garfield window-toys we cling, bleaching in the sun, orange and gaudy, not to be moved. Or is it that we are a culture that nurtures complaints - geeks as a people are of the internet, a place designed specifically to allow anonymous, endless criticism*.

ardless of why, I'm as guilty as the rest, so I am going to excise my demons here.

Today is the day I begin the process
of moving on.

ay is the last time I go to PVP Comics.

I started reading PVP around 1999/2000, a year into highschool, back when the comic strip was about gaming. It was punchy, the art was good, and most importantly the strips were funny.

Eventually, though, the funny decided it didn't need to show up to work every day. Gags turned into running gags, running gags turned into memes, and memes got tired. The strip became more sit-comish, with some gags ripped straight from shows like Newsradio, with the more hackneyed plots that style demands. At one point Scott Kurtz, the creator of PVP, even introduced a talking cat that wanted to take over the world.

If there's two rich comedy veins currently unmined by cartoonists, they're cats and adorable megalomaniacs.

But something kept me reading. For every Scratch the cat and Shecky the Troll I wanted to throttle, I still really enjoyed the core cast. Brent, Cole, Skull, Jade... these are characters who I've been reading about daily for nine years now, and Kurtz has done an amazing job of keeping most of his older characters three-dimensional, consistent, and interesting.

Another plus for the series is how Kurtz has evolved as an artist over the years. Comparing Kurtz's early work to what he's drawing today is a bit like comparing the light from a match to that of the sun. It ranges from solid cartooning to some really beautiful line work. If Kurtz continues to work on his artistic range, maybe some day he could be as diverse as late-era Bill Waterson.

But those can't save the fact that the strip just isn't funny any longer. I click through each tired story line, excited for the next to begin but as soon as it does I find myself waiting for it to be over. The stories are boring, there are no good gags to be had.

And every strip is so steeped in Kurtz's love for pop-culture that it becomes distracting. It's impossible for there to just be a doctor in the strip, the doctor has to be Hugh Laurie from House, and a panel must be spent referncing that. It's gotten to the point that I can only respond to all of Kurtz's winking with eye-rolls.

So today I take a step into a scarier world, a world without Skull the Troll and with one less thing that annoys me taking up my time.

Today I quit reading PVP. Tomorrow perhaps I'll stop buying back-issues.

Baby steps, Casey, baby steps...


*And pornography distribution.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Random Reviews - Fantastic Four: 1 2 3 4

It's possible that I'm more susceptible to the whims of writer's block than your average blogger.

Living in a
nerdy version of Fred Sanford's house, I constantly trip over excuses not to write... Hey, is that the DVD of Izo that I bought about three years ago and haven't watched yet? What about that copy of The Sun Also Rises that I bought and promptly used to prop up my desktop speakers? And tempting me from my bedside is Batman choose your own adventure book I bought in 4th grade and have read 100 times by now.

So, like a judo master, I decided to use my opponent's strength against him. I closed my eyes, reached into the pile, and said "I AM GOING TO REVIEW THIS THING!"

What I grabbed was Grant Morrison and Jae Lee's Fantastic Four: 1 2 3 4

Reading Final Crisis and the JLA story Rock of Ages it's become pretty clear over the years that Grant Morrison would have a great bit comics-author make-out with Jack Kirby if he could. They're both all about big, crazy ahead of their time ideas, and both sometimes a little weak on delivering those ideas in a story. So when Morrison gets hold of Kirby's most famous creations and uses it to stage a five-dimensional chess match, I get a little nervous.

1 2 3 4 avoids falling into a downward spiral of Morrisonian craziness, though, by letting the structure of the mini-series work for it. Taking place over four issues, each member of the Fantastic family gets 22 pages to take front and center... and by putting Mr. Fantastic's issue dead last.

So any and all discussion of "prime movers," alternate realities, and dimension warping machinery that Mr. Fantastic would otherwise be Morrison's mouthpiece for get put as far away from the reader as possible, and for three issues, we get to read about the characters.

Morrison writes the Human Torch and the Thing relatively deftly. The Thing is made human early on in a "be careful what you wish for" twist. As for the Torch, it's hard to lend depth to a character whose whole shtick is that he's
a one-dimensional airhead. Their parts weren't especially great or boring, but I think even a well written version of either character would seem flat next to this story's version of Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman.

In my favorite part of the book, Sue and her friend Alicia Masters share dinner... for twelve pages. Excessive in any other book, but here one detail makes it work - Sue goes through eleven pages of it completely invisible.

Running to Alicia's apartment to get some time away from being in the Fantastic Four, Sue drinks wine and talks... mostly about Reed. She talks mournfully about being ignored by Reed, how she wishes he would talk to her, and how he seems to "look right through her." That kind of lazy metaphor works here (Looking through the Invisible Woman, haha, get it? Groan.), because it's with Alicia, a woman who is totally blind. When around the one person who can't tell if she's invisible or not, Sue still chooses to be transparent.

Looking for that privacy and some time away, Sue needs to be invisible so she can hide from the one person left who can see us - us, the reader.

All through this sequence, Sue emotes through a wine glass, which artist Jae Lee imbues with tremendous personality. It dips, it rises, it tilts and represents the ups and downs that come from having this conversation about her husband.

So when Namor the Atlantean Sex God shows up at the end of the sequence to take her away demanding "Susan, let me look at you," she drops the glass and becomes visible. Sue doesn't need the glass, or to be invisible - there's finally someone worth being seen by.

It's a great marriage of character, conflict, and something that can only happen in a Grant Morrison super-hero comics, and I ate it up.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

one sentence about peanuts (part 1)

 - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Schroeder is a total bad-ass.

(More updates to come, I promise.)