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guy with lots of hairY’know why Japan has such a kick-ass comics industry? Because straight black hair is so damn easy to draw, is why. Assuming they don’t just slap a random polygon onto someone’s head and color it green or something.

Also, this looked a whole lot better before I put those black rectangles in the background.

And no, this doesn’t count as ambitious.

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I just joined a Flickr group for faking up the covers of Nintendo DS movie and book tie-in games. (No, I wouldn’t actually want to play a DS games based on Lolita. But a Blazing Saddles game would be awesome.) Here are my mock-ups.
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At the after-presentation dinner mission the other week, Gary Tyrrell of Fleen asked me the obvious question — what webcomics do I read? Me being the sad, silicon-dependent sod that I am, I was only able to recall four or five out of what I figured were a couple dozen webcomics. A few days back I got fed up with how badly Safari was performing and switched over to Firefox, and as part of that migration exported my Safari bookmarks, giving me an opportunity to pull the webcomics section out into a list. Turns out I read about 40 webcomics, though a few have stopped updating.

For those of you who are going to gloss over the whole list, let me just strongly recommend two comics right here: Templar, Arizona and Scary Go Round. These are the two that you’re most likely not to be already reading, but should be. Descriptions below.

OK, on to the list:

  • A Softer World — A photo, cropped into three panels, with captions added. Been thinking of dropping this; it’s been a while since it made me laugh, or wince.
  • Alien Loves Predator — Amazing comic built out of photos of posed action figures, NYC scenery, and Photoshop skill. Funny, too.
  • Bang Barstal — Post-apocalyptic ass-kicking. It’s in the middle of its third story arc, “The Dead”, which is being posted in big chunks rather than one page at a time. I’d start with the second arc, “Racing Towards Home”.
  • Bolt City — Kazu Kibuishi’s website, where he keeps a blog and posts updates to his various comics, like Copper, a beautifully drawn and colored comic where each story is a single page long.
  • Bruno — Adventures of a depressed twenty-something woman, done as a (usually) single-panel strip. The cross-hatching can get pretty amazing when the artist gets ambitious, which he doesn’t often nowadays since he’s got several other comics going too.
  • Bugsport — This comic set in a small New England town where space aliens have settled doesn’t update often, but it’s got gorgeous art. Check out the flying saucers that look like big-fin retro cars!
  • Butterfly A superhero and his sidekick. How long since this thing’s updated?
  • Cat and Girl — It was the “villanelle sandwich” strip that got me hooked.
  • Desert Rocks — Um, actually I haven’t looked at this one in over a year. But I keep meaning to.
  • Diesel Sweeties — Funny daily strip starring robots and hipsters. Distinctive pixel art.
  • Dresden Codak — I found this one pretty recently, but I’m glad I did. Lovely artwork paired with weird intellectual humor. Check out the philosopher’s role-playing game.
  • Flaky Pastry — Weekly extended-story humor strip set in a D&D-like fantasy world; pretty art.
  • Girl Genius — Extended story comedy adventure from longtime comics pro Phil Foglio and his wife Kaja. You all read it already.
  • Girls with Slingshots — Joke strip. Hazel is a cynical beanpole, Jamie is cheerful and zaftig, McPedro is a talking cactus. There’s lots of drinking.
  • I am a rocket builder: An Old House — Actually a bunch of interlocking webcomics. Doesn’t update often.
  • Mac Hall — Started as a college strip, currently on hiatus as the creators work on a new direction. Nice art, especially the use of color and blurred backgrounds.
  • Miracle of Science — Extended-story SF comic about mad scientists and the cops who hunt them. Oh, and Martians.
  • Naut-Cotic — Might delete this from my menu, since it hasn’t updated in forever. Long-form SF story with attractive art in a manga-derived, yet distinctive, style.
  • Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life — Irregulary-updating philosophical humor strip about robots.
  • No Pink Ponies — Joke strip about a woman who runs a comic store. Good art, but I’m starting to tire of the writing.
  • No Rest For The Wicked — Long-form fantasy story using classic fairy-tale characters.
  • Normal Life — Natasha Allegri’s LJ comic. Mostly exaggerated autobio humor.
  • Ojingogo — Beautiful but surreal. I really wish this updated more often.
  • Orneryboy — Sharp-looking, funny Flash comic. I don’t know why, but the main character reminds me of [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid.
  • Overcompensating — Autobio comic based on the daily life of a billionaire cowboy poet and webcomics magnate.
  • Perry Bible Fellowship — Strange conceptual humor with a flexible, adept art style.
  • Pibgorn — Another one I may drop. The adventures of a fairy, a succubus, and a pianist. Nice art, but the stories move very very slowly. He’s currently been doing an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that’s been going on for months.
  • PowerPuff Girls Doujinshi — You’d be surprised how many characters from Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon cartoons can be squeezed into a single storyline. Well-drawn, too; the cartoonist does a great job redesigning the characters for an anime look. The second storyline started up a few months back, then stopped after just a few pages.
  • PvP — Long-running popular joke strip set at a gaming magazine. Lots of geeky humor. Origin of the “Joss Whedon is my Master” line.
  • Questionable Content — Romance, sarcasm, coffee, indie music, and little robots.
  • Raymondo Person — Weird humor. Just updated this week, for the first time in months, as I was thinking of dropping it.
  • Savage Chickens — Daily single-panel joke strip, starring talking chickens, drawn on Post-It notes.
  • Scary Go Round — One of my favorite webcomics. Nice art, and consistently funny dialog. John Allison totally nails the difficult task of giving each daily page a joke so it’s satisfying on its own, while also building long story-lines out of them.
  • Skullcano Island — Is that a great name or what? I think this is just whatever the artist feels like putting up, whenever he gets around to it. If you go back to the beginning of the archives there are a bunch of repeating Bizarro-like strips, and then eventually this island-based storyline shows up. I love this drawing style.
  • Sordid City Blues — Wide-hipped women compete for the heart of a skinny cartoonist, while a rock musician wrestles with his faith. Currently on hiatus while [livejournal.com profile] mister_wolf works on a comic based around St John of the Cross’s “Dark Night of the Soul”.
  • Space Pirate Apocalypse — Actually the home for whatever comics Ben Bittner makes. “Cooking with Anne” is about scraping together a meal after a nuclear war, “Pirate” is a pirates comic that petered out after a few strips, and “Apocalypse” is his latest, that hasn’t gotten past the first panel.
  • Templar, Arizona — I rave about this one a lot. It’s set in a fictional Arizona town, I think maybe in a slightly alternate history, and shows a shy would-be writer trying to cope with overbearing neighbors and a strange neighborhood full of odd little counter-cultures. Spike’s dialog and art are just fantastic, and she’s got a real gift for both characterization and world-building.
  • The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat — Picked up a minicomic at MoCCA this year that started this story, and I was glad to see it continuing, but it hasn’t gotten very much farther. It’s a fantasy about a cat who’s used up his nine lives, and been given a tenth by the divine (and infernal) powers to perform a mission for them. Unlike most talking-animals strip, this one doesn’t gloss over what carnivore behavior is like; Pishio is an utterly believable vicious little brute.
  • Wapsi Square — A slice-of-life comic that’s being swallowed by a supernatural storyline. At this point I’m just reading it for the drawings of sexy girls.
  • Wigu — The hilarious adventures of a small boy, his family, a pastel space pony, and an talking potato made of poison.
  • Zip and Li’L Bit — Well-drawn story about a boy who swaps places with an upside-down version of himself he finds walking around on his ceiling.
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[livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana spent the weekend, and I showed her The Venture Bros and the Battlestar Galactica miniseries. We saw Babel, but didn’t get around to seeing Casino Royale.

Today we went to the Newark Museum for the strips part of the Masters of American Comics exhibit. (The books part is at the Jewish Museum; we may go during the week.) I was pretty surprised by Frank King’s early work. I remember the Gasoline Alley of my childhood (the ’70s) as a boring slice-of-life strip that I’d skip over on the way to reading Hagar the Horrible. (Those may have been after King retired and his assistant Dick Moores took over.) But back in the ’30s King used to do all sorts of visual experiments in the strip — characters walking through a modern art landscape, or twelve panels sharing a single continuous background with the action wandering across it.
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So the plan for today was to get up early, work out, do laundry, fix up my résumé, do some shopping in Manhattan, loaf around at the NYU Starbucks sketching till around 6:30, catch the Scott McCloud lecture from 7 to 9, then head uptown to the SFFWA reception.

The actual practice was: Slept late, skipped the gym, did laundry, fought with MS Word, wasted time reading blogs, did some shopping in Manhattan, couldn’t find the lecture hall, saw the McCloud clan crossing the street and followed then figuring they’d know where the lecture hall was, discovered they didn’t know either, found it using Vindigo (still the most useful app on my Palm), enjoyed the lecture, hung around after and went with the amorphous dinner group (to the Apple Restaurant & Bar — warning, Flash site with music) which finished up around 11:30, came home. In addition to seeing [livejournal.com profile] goraina, who I seem to run into at every NYC comics-related event, I also saw [livejournal.com profile] marionv, and chatted over dinner with Gary Tyrrell of Fleen.

McCloud’s presentation is great. Some of the material is covered in Making Comics, but there’s plenty that isn’t, like his life story condensed down to 150 pictures. I jotted down a couple of pages of notes. The guy next to me was taking his notes down in comics form with a red Sharpie. And the woman next to him had been doing some Sharpie sketching before the presentation. Just imagine if the whole audience had been taking notes with Sharpies! The fumes could have provided that swiveling-through-the-third-dimension aspect McCloud was talking about.
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small headshot with glassesYesterday I went into Manhattan to pick up a ticket for Scott McCloud’s presentation on Monday night. (Tickets are free; details here.) I expect lots of the NYC comics crowd to show up — the name before mine on the tickets list was Ryan North, of Dinosaur Comics fame, and on my way out I ran into Raina Telgemeier, of Smile and the comics version of The Baby-Sitter’s Club.

Then I plopped down in a comfy chair at the NYU Starbucks near Washington Square Park (the only Starbucks I know of that still has big, comfy chairs), and sketched:

More sketches )

Grrr! While getting up to get my sketchbook out of my bag, my weight on the floor was enough to jiggle the top shelf of my bookshelf free, spilling heavy books down onto the platform where I keep my laptop. The heaviest stuff fell behind the computer, but I did dent the hinge. Doesn’t seem to have done any functional damage, at least not that I’ve been able to tell. Yet. I’m moving the books down to shelves near the floor.
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I’ve added a couple more webcomics to my trawl:

The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat
I picked up the beginning of this story in minicomic form at MoCCAfest this year, liked it, and promptly forgot about it till I saw a post about it on [livejournal.com profile] onlinecomic.

Dresden Codak
Linked to from Miracle of Science today. I want to be this comics when I grow up! Surreal humor with plenty of scientific hat-tips. Starts out a bit weak, but improves steadily, and after a dozen or so strips he starts developing some continuity. By the current strip, his art’s gotten very nice.

Comics

Oct. 5th, 2006 10:05 pm
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I joke that my weekly comics habit has turned into me walking around the store moaning about how there’s nothing worth buying, but this week I found the latest trades of Ex Machina and Ultimate X-Men. I think I’m gonna give up on the latter — they’ve just introduced the Magician, and checking the storyline on Wikipedia), it looks pretty lame. Ex Machina’s still doing a decent job of looking like it might actually lead somewhere in along with the melodrama.

One panel from ImmortalIn webcomics news, [livejournal.com profile] eurotard linked to Dean Haspiel’s Immortal, a new Billy Dogma and Jane Legit story. I’d seen Billy and Jane in various indie sources over the years (probably SPX but maybe other places too), and somehow never taken a shine to them, but damn, this story’s got graphic chops! Simple, square panels, black and red and a bit of a tone, a nice grainy brush line, and a sexy story that reads like a Brooklyn creation myth with superheroes (or villains, or whatever Billy and Jane are). (Panel © Dean Haspiel)


And a couple days back, [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily put up the entirety of the Cerebus-Elrod-and-Lord-Julius-in-a-closet (actually a ship’s cargo hold) story that originally ran in Cerebus #51 and was reprinted in Cerebus #0. I first started collecting Cerebus around the time this came out, and even though I didn’t know who the characters were, it was still hilarious. What really knocks me out after all these years is this: Not only is Sim using these tall, thin panels to give himself lots of time (because time progresses across panels) for reaction shots to properly pace his dialog-heavy comedy, but he’s also slightly tilting the panels to indicate the ship’s rocking motion. (Page excerpt © Dave Sim)

Four panels from Cerebus

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My name is sticky. It sticks in people’s heads, and they come up to me at conventions and stuff and say “Oh, yeah, you’re Avram Grumer” when I have no idea of who they are, so I’m at a permanent social disadvantage.

How sticky is my name? Yesterday I went to Midtown Comics for Scott McCloud’s signing of his new book, Making Comics. Now, I’d never met McCloud before. We’ve had no social interaction out of a couple of letters I wrote to him twenty years back when he was doing Zot!. And it’s not like I’ve ever done anything in the world of comics that might draw attention to my name. But when I told him to make it out to Avram — “You’re not Avram Grumer, by any chance, are you?”

The book is fantastic, by the way. I’m about halfway through. The sections on facial expressions and body language are probably the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a better book than Understanding Comics was, though probably of use to fewer people.

Today was the book’s launch party at Rocketship, a cool new comics shop in Brooklyn. I’d never been, but now I wish I lived in Brooklyn again. It’s not large, but the selection is good, and it’s brightly-lit and the walls are decorated with original pages by some local comickers. It looks like the sort of place that doesn’t make you ashamed to be a comics fan. And, unlike any other comics shop I’ve ever seen Rocketship gives first priority to the books — the trades and hardcovers, collections and graphic novels. The nasty pamphlets, rather than being given a massive spread of wall-space, are dismissed to below-waist-level shelving (with a few small wall or standing racks). Oh, and there are minicomics by the cash register.

I saw [livejournal.com profile] goraina there, and a friend of [livejournal.com profile] ladymondegreen’s (“Wait, I know you, Avram, right...?”), and got to chat with both Scott and Ivy McCloud, who are both super-nice and smart and funny, so yeah, go see them when they swing around to your state. (That’s Sep 14 and 16 for you Cambridge, MA people, and Sep 26 for Boston.)
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I know some of you know this, but it may be news to most: Scott McCloud has a new books out, Making Comics, and he and his family are promoting it with a 50-state tour, starting in NYC. He gave a Q&A session at SVA today, which I opted not to go to. (See [livejournal.com profile] mccloudtour for updates about the tour.)

Tomorrow (Friday) he’ll be signing at Midtown Comics just south of Times Square from 5-7pm. It’s a few blocks from my office, so I’ll head up when I get out of work at 6. Anyone else going?

Saturday he’ll be at Rocketship in Brooklyn for an 8pm release party. I’ve never been to Rocketship, so I may go there too.
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¡Journalista! is back! This is Dirk Deppey’s comics blog, originally hosted by The Comics Journal; now it looks like Deppey’s hosting it on his own domain. The old stuff is there too: if you scroll down the front page, you can see three recent articles, and then one from November 2002. Found via Warren Ellis’s del.icio.us account. (And I’ve got one of my own, too. Pretty handy.)

Through Deppey, I see that Dave Sim is doing comics again! His new project is called Diary of an Actress... Siu Ta (So Far), a serialized strip about a struggling Asian actress, published online.
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No new comics for me today at the comics shop, so I might as well write about some others I’ve read recently:

Templar, Arizona (No, wait, start at the beginning!)
Spike, self-published through Webcomics Nation
Templar is a city in Arizona in a slightly alternate timeline. Not too alternate; they still had Jimmy Carter — Templar has a statue of him, posed heroically, hammer above his head, bowl of peanuts cradled in his other arm, wearing a toga to display his muscles. And the statue of Andrew Jackson is even worse....

Not only is Templar host to dozens of weird, invented sub-cultures and alternate-historical cuisines — often only hinted at — but Spike’s also got both the gift of spinning out entertaining dialog and that of showing you things about her character’s inner lives without having to spell them out for you explicitly.

Updates twice a week, or a third time whenever Spike’s tip jar hits $100. Each page reads pretty quick, and there’s only about 70 or 80 pages so far, so go get caught up now.

Moresukine
Dirk Schwieger, self-published through LiveJournal
A diary, in comics form, of a German man living in Tokyo. I first saw it through one of the Moleskine fan sites (probably Moleskinerie), and then forgot about it till [livejournal.com profile] eurotard reminded me. What Schwieger did was throw himself open to suggestions. Anyone who wanted could email him a suggestion of something to do in Tokyo, and he’d do it, one thing per week, and write/draw the experience up in comics form and publish it on LJ. And Schwieger’s an astounding comics artist. Eurotard suggests Matt Howarth, Joe Sacco, and Rick Veitch by way of comparison, and yeah, Schwieger’s got something of the zany inventiveness of page layout that Howarth shows at his best, but he’s a better draftsman than any of those three. (Well, maybe not Sacco.)

Polly and the Pirates
Ted Naifeh, published by Oni Press
Something to tide over those of us who’re waiting for more Courtney Crumrin. Just like Courtney, Polly is a young girl who gets into trouble. Unlike Courtney, her trouble comes looking for her — pirates swoop into her bedroom at night and shanghai her off to be their captain. It’s all a zany plot involving dubious parentage, rival pirate gangs, a map to (of course) hidden treasure, and a cameo appearance by Emperor Norton.

Naifeh’s ship designs are a joy — buildings with hulls and sails. A navy warship looks like a sailing fortress. Even Polly’s school is on a ship. It’s a great lesson about visual storytelling: If you can’t be realistic, be cleverly imaginative, and your readers will forgive a lot.

Wet Moon
Ross Campbell, published by Oni Press
Cleo Lovedrop is an art student at a small college in the deep south, one that appears to have a student body consisting mostly of hot, chubby women who wear torn scraps of clothing. ([livejournal.com profile] mister_wolf take note!) Oh yeah, story too, um, Cleo’s troubled love life, some mysterious doings, emotional issues, roommate arguments, stuff like that. But oh, the hotness.

Eurotard
Not a comic, but a comics review blog. (Though he, or maybe she, sometimes runs some comics, too.) Good taste, a good eye, and agrees with me that Transmetropolitan wasn’t actually all that great.

Full Story
Also not a comic, this site list completed webcomics — story-based webcomics that have finished their runs and come to endings.

Some stuff

Aug. 1st, 2006 11:00 pm
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So today I spent five hours arguing with a recalcitrant command line. It was worth it to be able to spend the rest of the day sitting back and watching my computer do my job for me. It’ll be even more worth it in a few weeks when the rest of the work for this client comes through, and it’s four times as many SKUs as this batch. Tomorrow I get to spend more time arguing with the command line to get it to do different stuff. (Today: Compositing four different PNGs together, each with a different alpha channel. Tomorrow: Cropping and resizing; much easier.)

And I got a postcard from [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia in Dubrovnik! Yay!

Only one comic due out tomorrow that I’m interested in, but it’s the best one — the new Finder collection, “Five Crazy Women”! Doubly exciting because I haven’t been following Finder on the web, so most of the material will be new to me.

And I’m not going to link to the Hello Kitty Darth Vader picture, because somebody hasn’t to.
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[livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana and I saw Superman Returns on Friday. This is pretty directly a sequel to the 1978 Richard Donner film, but holy crap, it’s half remake. Seriously, this thing slavishly recreates entire scenes and incorporates chunks of dialog from the original. Hey, Brian Singer, could we maybe have had more new stuff in our new movie? And what the heck was the deal with that meteorite at the beginning?

And I like a bit less Jesus in my Superman. Sure, the Clark Kent/Superman thing has maybe an echo of the whole “wholly God, wholly man” thing, but a key part of the Jesus myth is that Jesus’s death and resurrection redeemed mankind from sin. This isn’t part of the Superman storyline — Supes’s death and resurrection in 1993, for all of the ham-fisted gospel parallels the writers put in, was just a crappy DC marketing ploy, and is too recent to have really shaped his myth. And, frankly, it’s just too awful a story for me to take seriously, so I don’t like to think about it. But then, that’s why I’m hardly buying any Big Two superhero comics anymore.

Superman’s mythological roots don’t lie in the gospels, but primarily in the stories of brawny-yet-clever heroes like Hercules and Samson. Supes being a sun-god makes him even more like Samson, and Lois in the old Silver Age comics made a pretty good Delilah.

If you want the feel of the old Silver Age Superman written with modern attention to dialog and plotting, pick up Grant Morrison’s and Frank Quitely’s bimonthly All-Star Superman, up to issue #4 so far. Morrison knows what myths to draw from; Samson and Hercules even show up in issue #3 to flirt with Lois, arm-wrestle Superman, and generally cause trouble.

MoCCA

Jun. 11th, 2006 08:20 pm
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Back from MoCCA, and I am exhausted and my feet hurt. But I enjoyed myself. Went to a panel for the first time — the Saturday afternoon one about the Mome anthology. Ran into, let’s see, [livejournal.com profile] tinpan, [livejournal.com profile] meritahut, [livejournal.com profile] sw_inku, Carol Pinchefsky, Liz Gorinsky. Hey, [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana, Meritahut publishes SPQR Blues, a comic about ancient Rome, on her LJ.

OK, here’s this year’s haul:

Books

Floppies

  • Red by Elizabeth Genco, Kevin Colden, and Miss Lasko-Gross
  • Gin 747 #0, an anthology of mini-comics
  • The Industry by Kiki Jones
  • Oz Squad #1-9, and Little Oz Squad, by Steve Ahlquist and various artists, even though I already had like three or four of these issues, just so I’d know I had them all in one place. Ahlquist was sold out of #10, but he said he’d mail me one, since I’d bought all the others, thus establishing that he is a god among men. He also says he’s working on getting a trade collection out, and (I think he said) starting the series up again.
  • Wigu: The Case of the Missile Crisis! by Jeffrey Rowland

Minis

  • An untitled print collection by Tintin Pantoja (aka tinpan)
  • Jellaby #2 by Kean Soo, and Jellaby, The Homage Series, a set of color prints by a variety of artists
  • The Tenth Life of Pishio the Cat by Zack Giallongo
  • Hey, 4-Eyes! #2, an anthology comic that I’d put in Books if it were bound instead of held together with a rubber band
  • Hats by Vasilis Lolos
  • Heaster & Galatea by Chari Pere
  • Conscious by Mike Zagari
  • Some stapled-together thing whose title I can’t even read, but hey, it was free
  • Nonsequiteria by John Peters
  • A whole handful of tiny minis that I got handed for free on Sunday, mostly Sparrow’s Fall by Baker, but also one called Mine to Make by Bonnie Leigh
  • Brendan Comics #1 by Brendan Burford

I’m starting to get kinda arbitrary about what goes into which category.

On Friday I went back to my last two MoCCA entries and assembled all of my lists into a printout I could take with me to make sure I didn’t buy anything I already had.

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devilFree comics day! [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana and I started at Jim Hanley’s Universe up on 33rd, walked down Brodway to Cosmic Comics on 23rd (which was also having a 30% off sale, so I picked up the first volume of Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha in paperback), and then down to the Forbidden Planet on 13th. My bag was about full, so we skipped St Mark’s Comics and just kept going down to the Angelika to see Art School Confidential.

From what I’ve seen of the comics so far, it looks like most of what I got is new material, short stand-alones actually written for the free comics, rather than the excerpts from regular stories that some companies were passing off a couple of years back. My fave so far is Joel Priddy’s The Preposterous Adventures of IronHide Tom.

Art School Confidential, well, the first half hour or so is pretty hilarious if you’ve been to art school. The rest of the movie suffers from having a mainstream Hollywood plot; there’s a romance plotline that gives the protagonist a lame motivation for his art, and a serial-killer plotline that feels like it belongs in an entirely different movie.
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Comics! Been a while since I reviewed any comics. Let’s see what I’ve bought over the past couple of weeks....

The Great Catsby
» written and drawn by Doha, published by Net Comics
First printed volume of an anthropomorphic romance webcomic. It suffers badly from the author’s unfamiliarity with English, and the fact that the panels weren’t originally composed to be placed on a printed page. It’s the art that hooked me. Doha’s animation-style drawings (foregrounds sharp, with thin outlines of constant widths and simple two-tone shading, background fuzzier and more complex) look simple, but he has a great grasp of gesture, posture, and facial expression. His protagonist Catsby is (of course) a cat, as are the two girls he desires, and for all of these characters Dosa makes great use of their highly expressive ears. If only all nekogirl-obsessed comickers took such advantage of their material.

Pizzaria Kamikaze
» written by Etgar Keret, art by Asaf Hanuka, published by Alternative Comics
A story set in the land of the dead, or at least that section of it that suicides go to. It bears a strong resemblance to the parts of the living world populated by twenty-somthing slackers. People still work, party, fall into and out of love, go on road trips, and join religious cults. Keret paces the story well, and the story does pack a couple of surprises at the end, but very little punch. Hanuka’s art — this is another one I bought for the art — is great. Clean lines, elegant use of black and white (and a spot color, printed in silver ink), good depiction of faces, just a whole lot to like.

The Forty-Niners
» written by Alan Moore, art by Gene Ha, published by America’s Best Comics
Hey, how often does something new from Alan Moore come out? Even if it’s part of the ABC line, which is Moore writing way below what he’s capable of. The Forty-Niners is a prequel to the Top 10 series about super-powered cops in a city full of superheroes (and villains, and monsters, robots, gods, etc), probably the best series ABC published, though also the shortest. This volume tells of the founding of Neotopia after WW2, through the eyes of 16-year-old Steve Traynor, aka Jetlad (who we know as the police captain in the main series) as he deals with vampire gangsters and his own sexuality, and also makes clear that Top 10 is the reconstructionist version of the 1986 deconstructionist short piece “In Pictopia”. (Yeah, I’m using “deconstructionist” and “reconstructionist” in their obscure comics criticism senses.) Like I said, Moore’s basically phoning it in here, which means the writings only a bit better than most comics writers manage on their best days ever, instead of leaving them sputtering behind him in the dust. Gene Ha is great, filling the backgrounds with the same sort of comics in-jokes and obscure characters he drew in Top 10, and perfectly depicting a wide variety of 20th century urban architecture.

Mome #3 (Winter 2006)
» various creators, edited by Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth, published by Fantagraphics Books
Anthology comics are always mixed bags, and Mome is no exception, but the good stuff in this is really good. The longest piece, taking up about a third of the volume, David B’s “The Armed Garden”, is the fantastic story of a utopian religious movement in 15th century Bohemia. B’s art uses an appropriately medieval flattened sense of space, but he uses a very rich and sophisticated iconography, doing things like portray a religious debate by filling the panel background with an interlocked tangle of struggling, weapon-wielding letters. And you’ve gotta love a comic that shows anti-pope John XXIII committing simony, sodomy, and murder simultaneously. Other good pieces are Martin Cendreda’s one-page “Matthew and Buster” comics, Kurt Wolfgang’s “Odd Petal Out”, Gabrielle’s “Mike’s Cafe” — actually, I liked everything in here except for Jeffrey Brown’s “How I Became a Cold-Blooded Murderer”, which looks like it was drawn on cocktail napkins. I’m gonna have to pick up the first two volumes.
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Saw V for Vendetta tonight with [livejournal.com profile] bugsybanana. It’s a real shame Alan Moore had his name removed (mostly because of disagreements with DC), because it’s a good, faithful adaptation.

Events are moved around from the comic, a couple of the least convincing bits are rewritten, a couple of sub-plots are dropped. The leader character (Susan in the original, Sutler in the movie) goes from being an introverted cypher to being a caricature, which plays better on film.

The lumpy, unattractive, middle-aged characters are played by lumpy, unattractive, middle-aged actors! There aren’t any in Hollywood, so they had to import them from England.

The general sensibility of the setting is updated. The comic — written in the early 1980s, set in 1997-98 — seemed to have a real year some decades earlier than that. The art seemed to depict a shabby, worn-down England, one where radio announcements were still a major part of people’s lives. The movie has cellphones and desktop computers, most things seem clean and in good repair, and television is the central information and entertainment source. (Maybe that’s a bit behind the times. The movie mentions something called the “Interlink”, but it’s literally just mentioned; we see nothing of it.) I much prefer the movie’s version of Lewis Prothero.

The really important bits of the story — and if you’ve read it, you know what I mean — are all there, and mostly presented very faithfully.

And here’s what people reading at Barnes & Noble look like )
avram: (Default)

I see that somebody's putting a bounty on the heads of the Danish cartoonists. But is he serious?

President of Goldsmiths' association, Israr Ahmed Khan, said his organization would fix the amount on Saturday. "We will definitely announce (the reward money) and it will be in dollars," Khan said.

Nah, I guess not.

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Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lumpley, I’ve heard about The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, a narrativist RPG set among the faculty of a small northeastern college in 1919, that asks the question Are you willing to swallow a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying human civilization if it will get you tenure?

Not cool enough for you? How ’bout this: No gamemaster. Also, you can play a full campaign in a single session of three or four hours.

Still not enough? OK, check out this two-page ad in comic form: Page 1, page 2.

Or just go download the draft version in PDF format for free. (The final version should go on sale in a week or two from Bully Pulpit Games.)

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