Friday, June 29, 2007

This Ain't Your Father's Clobberin' Time

Rock Bottom
Joe Casey and Charlie Adlard

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. I knew both names but couldn't really recall from where. I knew they were comic book names, and that was about it.

This is the story of a man who is turning to stone. It's the story of The Thing without space particles or anyone shouting "Clobberin' Time!" So it's good on an entirely different basis. Yes, it's good. It's a meditation, albeit a brief one, on what it might actually be like if you were to start turning to stone. It's unlikely many of us would do anything heroic or seek out to do anything heroic. Let's face it, that's reserved for the comic books.

Nope, this is about a guy whose life is pretty crappy and he's trying to deal with it the best he can, when bam, it goes all kooky. It's as much an examination of what happens when you know you're dying as it is about re-examining a superhero origin. It's paced well and the story is straightforward yet with enough curveballs to keep it interesting.

I wasn't sold on the art at first. The lines are fine, but it was just linework on a lot of white space. I got used to it soon enough but I'm not the biggest fan - I like a bit more depth so the shading worked but the rest just wasn't my thing. The character work is top notch, the sets and backgrounds are all clear, it just feels more like a sketchbook than finished work to me - albeit, a very accomplished sketchbook. I know this is to emphasize the stone-man but I think having a bit more shading or greyscales or whatever would have just given the whole work a lot more depth.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Undead Summer

For some reason a lot of my summer entertainment involves the undead. I've just finished reading I am Legend, which is a really good read if you haven't done so, you should. I had no idea all those Simpsons hallowe'en episodes were Richard Matheson stories. This is the guy who wrote that story about the goblin on the plane wing and the killer doll. I'm sure there's more. Also, there's a Will Smith movie coming out and I didn't want that to ruin the story for me. I had previously watched about a half hour worth of the Charlton Heston version called The Omega Man and I think Night of the Comet is also a version of the story.

I just picked up Resident Evil 4 for the Wii, which is exceptionally good and cheaper than other Wii games. I haven't played the game on previous platforms so this is simply great. Okay, they're not exactly the undead but it's Resident Evil and well, it's creepy. Good, but creepy.

I mentioned my idea for Night of the Sweet Prince: Something Rotten in the State of Denmark. But I'm also working on an actual zombie type story. Yes, I know that genre has jumped the shark but this actually kind of works. It's mostly historical fiction though and I've done most of the planning and research now I just need to find the time when I can go home and not feel like looking at a computer screen will burn the eyes out of my sockets to get that elusive first draft done.

Me and my wife are planning a zombie movie fest for a friend of ours who has never seen a zombie movie. Since we both absolutely love Shaun of the Dead, it's on the bill. We're also thinking of 28 Days Later because she doesn't remember it all that much and wants to see it again. I'm thinking we throw together the sequel if it's out and the Dawn of the Dead remake since she's not a purist, and the schlocky effects of the Romero movies might not go over well with our intended audience.

I'm writing this because I went to go get a blog rating and found this quiz instead:

When I walk to work I look around Ottawa to find the best place of defence. I think my home is okay for a little while but, honestly, the houses of parliament are the place for me. It's stone, it's got a huge front lawn that is fenced in with old-timey fortifications, a cliff protecting the back and the peace tower can work as a sniper's berth. But, the museum of nature is closer and has similar features.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Meme - the fake posting

Okay, got tagged in the "8 Things People Don't know About You" thing. I'll put up 8 and then I'm supposed to tag 8 other people but I probably won't get more than two or three so, whatever. Also, a lot of my immediate circle of friends know this stuff, but the internet doesn't.

1. When I was living in London I had a temp job at Conran Restaurants just before the millenium bug was supposed to wipe out everything. I was working on their stocking records, updating their systems and whatnot. I was in charge of Red Wines and Spirits so got to spend a lot of time in the wine cellar of Le Pont de la Tour. One day I was the person left in the office to watch the phones and I took Arnold Schwartzenegger's reservation. He went with Gabriel Byrne for the End of Days opening weekend.

2. I like to come up with story ideas but I never write anything. For example, the other night I thought up the sequel to Hamlet as a zombie story and called it Night of the Sweet Prince.

3. The first time I ever left a movie to have a pee, Yoda died.

4. I had no idea the university I went to was Catholic until I got there. I was confirmed in the Catholic church when I was 12. The university is called St. Francis Xavier University. I don't consider myself Catholic and I won't raise my kids with any religion but there's no effing way I'm paying a church to get myself removed from their books or whatever.

5. My two favourite songs as a kid were Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35 and Like a Rolling Stone.

6. Monday morning I had a dream about an evil spirit or a wizard who had their essence bound to an object. The process of this binding, and the object were called a "Fong." But, instead of the object being a stone with ruins or whatever, it was a watermelon. Then someone bought the watermelon and the spirit transferred itself into the guy. I dreamt I would write this story from the point of view of the guy's spirit trapped in the watermelon and how this was about an essence being transferred from the soil to the watermelon plant or whatever. I was convinced it was brilliant until I was walking to work and had some coffee when I realized this was just stupid.

7. I find my current job exceptionally boring but I just got it and I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life. I'd like to change things but I can't afford to although I'm slowly trying to.

8. In the 2000 Federal Eleciton I was the Green Party candidate in Saint John, New Brunswick. I got 2% of the vote, of which I'm really proud since I only campaigned for 7 days because my full time job was as the National Organizer of the party so I was responsible for all the other candidates as well. I know I could have done a lot better if it was the only thing I had to focus on but I was on a live televised debate so I no longer fear public speaking. I did it because I wanted to run for parliament at least once in my life and this was the opportunity to do it. I'm no longer political and I hate the Green Party with the white hot fire of a thousand suns because they are insane racists who need a lot of antipsychotics slipped into their vegan water supply.

Let's see, I tag Siskoid and Whatever your name is at A Trout in the Milk - also, if you read this and haven't been asked, consider it an open invitation.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Last Wednesday's Loot - 20 June 2007

The Spirit #7
Ah, the "Summer Spectacular" comic book - how much I loved you in my youthful trips to the cottage. I remember getting old Marvel editions that had Spider-man and Fantastic Four at a gas station along the way. This summer however, I get The Spirit who has rocketed to the top area of my favourite comic book heroes. I could be cynical about this but after looking at that cover there simply isn't any way I can come up with bad things to say about this collaberative comic. It has 3 stories that manage to feel a lot like Eisner's minimal page count Spirit stories. That's what I love about the history of The Spirit, the basis is just so diverse that there really isn't too much you can do with the stories that makes them feel wrong or off. I like the idea of using this character as a space to focus on different means of storytelling for the creators involved and while I love Darwyn Cooke's work, this was a fun fill in that didn't feel like one.
I rate this comic: In the spirit of The Spirit.

Marvel Avengers: Iron Man #2
Enter The Mandarin. I'm not the most knowledgable about Iron Man but I know a bit about him and his trove of villainy. I like this Mandarin, I only wish he called his flying dragon robot Fin Fang Foombot or something like that. Oh yeah, love the footnotes Mr. van Lent, I never realized how much until I saw one again. Thanks.
I rate this comic: Classic comics.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Night Fights: The one true uppercut

Bahlactus brings the pain, and I'm signing the dancecard "always a bridesmaid never the bride."

Okay, this time I'm waiting for the bell to ring before I jump out of my corner with my best shot to the chin. So who can possibly top The Spirit for pure jaw-smashing power?

Well, it's simple. When the entire multiverse was threatened with destruction and while facing down the destruction of all known reality there is only one hero who knows that the best way to inspire other heroes to give it their all is to punch a man as hard as you can in the face.

I'm of course, talking about Batman.

Damn, son, check that chin at the door or Batman will check it for you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Last night I watched The Proposition and noticed that the credits read music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Is that comic book writer Warren Ellis? If someone could let me know I'd be ever so grateful. I just can't seem to find out myself although I wouldn't be surprised if it was him - this is a tough movie and probably one of the best westerns I've ever seen. It's well worth a watch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Comic Bibliophile

Wimbledon Green
by Seth

I think I’m going against the general consensus on this one because I liked this book more than I liked Clyde Fans. Then again I’ve only read volume 1 and I don’t even know if there is a second volume out. That could make all the difference but the first volume didn’t make me want to rush out and get the second volume, whether or not it exists, of Clyde Fans.

What was it that I liked about Wimbledon Green? Well, I think it was the fact that it was more of a sketchbook that was published rather than a completed work. If it was presented to me as a complete work in and of itself I would have been sorely disappointed but as a sketchbook, I can accept it for what it is. To me, it’s basically two stories – the documentary type of story surrounding the life and times of Wimbledon Green and the second being the comic book style adventures based on the life and times of Wimbledon Green.

Like Seth, I’m fascinated by the motivations of collectors and can see myself going down that road if I had the time and money to be so eccentric. Alas, I’m not so I appreciate these little forays into a world we all know is out there albeit unlikely to such an extent in comic bookery circles. I’m a bit of bibliophile myself and seeing the stories and obsessions of that world being transposed onto the comic book world was a fun little exercise in entertainment.

There is a great love for the source material in this comic and at times it wears its influences on its sleeve. Seth manages to create his own Mary Jane in the form of Jonah, and a lot of the other fanboy and collector types rear their heads throughout the pages here as well. There’s a litany of pity bitter revenge plots throughout the book that can only be from the world limited to comic book fans – those inward looking collectors who not only find their escape in the four colour fantasy worlds, but relate to the rest of humanity through it. And there’s the people who love the medium and find the collectors quirky but a wonderful source of information as well as those who rant about the purity of art and embody the whole “not selling out” emotions of a lot of small press or independent creators and fans. And this is all presented via face on interviews as per any documentary (or mockumentary) and, well, Citizen Kane. You can’t help but see the influence of Orson Welles here – the collection of facts via other people’s accounts, the vast wealth, the conflicting stories of the character’s past, the humble origins leading to the rise and eventual fall from those heights, as well as the enigmatic Webb Collection taking on the role of Rosebud.

This was a great read for a sunny day on my back porch where I got to understand a bit more about trying to locate old comics (real or not) and how one who appreciates that sort of thing just doesn’t have the borderline personality to dedicate himself to it fully. I guess a lot of people just wanted something more cohesive in the end and I can see why. There is a lot of potential in this story and if you’re not in mood to simply go where it takes you then it feels incomplete. I was in the mood to not totally concentrate and was open to letting the book lead me where it may. But I too wouldn’t mind to have a complete story one way or the other about Wimbledon Green.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Kafka-esque - oh shut up you wanker.

Steven T. Seagle - writer
Stefano Gaudiano - artist

I had no idea what I was getting into here when I ordered this book from the library. I thought it was the Crumb illustrated biocomic about the writer. But the more I read and the more I read about the book, the more I was thoroughly impressed by it. To read how this comic was up for one of the first Eisner’s against Watchmen is impressive enough but to find out it was by two relative newcomers, if not on their first project (I can’t remember) and being done on a 30 day schedule going straight to printing is almost inconceivable in this day and age of delays, changing creative teams and plain old disappearing books – I’m looking at you Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk or Hulk vs. Wolverine, I can’t remember anymore. I’d say I dropped that book but since there’s nothing to actually drop all I can say is if it ever comes out again I won’t buy it then.

So, what do we have here? Well, a manic black and white comic about espionage and past lives merging into a new reality that skirts the lines with a superhero origin. A man with a new identity is visited by some agents telling him his identity is compromised then is visited by two more agents with the same story. Within a few pages you’re given a setup that throws you into a world where you can’t really trust anything you see yet you feel the desperate need to run towards something but just what you don’t completely know yet.

And some weird and confusing stuff starts to happen. At first you think it’s the improbable comic book disguise stuff, you know Superman puts on glasses and nobody knows who he is, but you later realize that it’s just using the powers of the medium to help with the powers of the protagonist. It’s a fairly straight forward set up and storyline but it works really well here. You’re joining this story more or less at the beginning and while you hit the ground running you learn more about the current predicament as the protagonist does. Very well executed.

Then you get to see it through the art as well. It feels manic and just on the edge of being too rushed, but it doesn’t slip. What you’re given instead is art that is infused with the manic energy of a man trying his best to stay exactly one step ahead of what amounts to a well funded and ruthless organization he wants no part of. He really only has his own wits and is constantly being pursued and each line is infused with his desperation and excited energy. And the black and white art is pretty much what any noir type story calls for so no complaints there.

I’m really glad I stumbled across this book. It just goes to show how much comic book pedigree there is out there that even fans, and especially new/returning ones, just simply don’t know about. I guess that’s why I liked Wimbledon Green so much, but more on that tomorrow.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Night Fights: Uppercut Appreciation

Once again I crash Bahlactus's party. Last night there was a boxing match going on just down the street from my house. People dressed up and ritzed up as their limos dropped them off. It reminded me that today was going to focus on the uppercut. So I plunged the depths for one of the originals.

That's right. Rule number two of comics - don't talk shit to The Spirit.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wednesday's Loot - 13 June 2007

Nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nil. Uh-uh.

Didn't get a dang-blamed thing this week. A few months ago and I would have used that money to purchase some new comics that I haven't tried before but this week I'm just not really feeling the love at all. I could easily just cancel all my titles and move on, especially the Marvel ones.

I actually quite like the Marvel Adventure books I'm reading and think two definite things. One, they seem more mature than the actual company itself. Two, while I want to support the creators on these books and encourage this type of production I know in the long run buying one copy of two books doesn't accomplish much, especially when the company is making so much that my four Canadian dollars has little to no influence so I'd just be making myself feel somewhat better by not giving a faceless corporation any additional profits while limiting the paycheck of some good talent.

Yeah I'm torn.

On a weirdly related side note, me and my wife saw a preview or something about the new Hostel movie and were discussing the whole torture porn horror movie craze and what it's saying about our culture and us personally. Neither of us find it entertaining and we're just saddened that enough people do find it good enough to create sequels. Sure the basis is that it is b-movie schlock, but the result is re-inforcing stereotypes. Same with the whole Marvel being idiots as far as a company is concerned.

It's a tempest in a teapot that is just making me less and less likely to continue to spend my money on comics. I'm on the verge of pulling out all together and just getting the occasional trade.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm glad I gave it 24 hours.

Lucky by Gabrielle Bell

It’s amazing what 24 hours can do to your perception. When I first picked up this book I couldn’t stand it and was ready to simply bring it back to the library. I felt it was yet another exceptionally dull diary comic about someone documenting their rather mundane life. A day later I picked it up again to see if maybe I was just missing the point and with a better day behind me, I can say that I actually enjoyed this book.

What felt like just scribbled art and dull episodic storytelling turned into a fascinating examination of a somewhat transient lifestyle. I think, maybe, it hit a bit too close to home for me to fully appreciate the book on my first day. I too had gone through the horrors of apartment hunting and trying to come to terms with a career that reading about someone aiming for the same thing just felt whiny to me. But as I got to know the characters I could appreciate what they were doing and how they were trying to both find their places and define themselves by and with those places.

In the end what I read was great comics. The figures have an ease about them that is both insecure and charming. The linework shows characters that are just on the verge of becoming incredible – they are infused with the potential for more but seem trapped in the beginning stages at present. Then as you read the additional volumes the characters do get improved as much as the stories do. The people grow with the art.

I probably would have loved this book a lot more if I came across it at the end of high-school or in my first few years at university. It just doesn’t seem so fascinating or original to me now because I’ve had to deal with those problems and I want to read about things I’m not totally familiar with. But I know comics aren’t just about bulletproof underwear fetishists so I try to get out of my superhero comfort zone every now and again, and as I was this time, I get pleasantly surprised.

You get to be a fly on the wall for a day in the life of a regular person. You’ll either find beauty or familiarity in it but it’s as much about you as it is the subject here. This is a comic that allows the reader to give it more meaning than the text itself contains but I do think it is a book about potential. It is about characters and people who are on the verge of becoming more defined, and you’ll either appreciate it, be able to reflect back on it, or like me (at first) just be annoyed by it because it’s sort of just what your life is and you don’t really need to spend time reading about people you don’t know going through similar regular life ordeals because you and your friends are doing that already.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Banlieue 13

Banlieue 13 or District 13 is a French action movie that is a must for anyone who likes kicks to the head and dudes jumping from rooftop to rooftop without wires or nets.

For some reason the English Subtitles kept refering to the Sub-divisions as Barrios, and while that's sort of LA, I can live with it here.

This is an entire movie done by the dudes who did the opening of the latest James Bond movie Casino Royale. It's a free-running extravaganza that is basically a French version of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels mixed with Ong-Bak but set in the not-do-distant future (i.e. 2010).

This movie is kinetic and has more bone shattering kicks than is healthy for one individual to witness in a lifetime. My favourite part is that as much as you think they're using wires, they're not. Like when that one dude lands on the corner of a casino table after being kicked in the face and spinning through the air? No wires, he smacked that thing - I watched the making of feature on the DVD.

The ending is about as subtle as Joe Quesada hyped up on coke but exceptionally not cringe-worthy because the French just have the gall to pull it off right and make you believe in their honesty.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Last Wednesday’s Loot – 6 June 2007

Countdown 47
Yeah I do think they can pull something off but I’m not reading all the books in the DCU so this just doesn’t work for me anymore.
I rate this comic: dropped.

Detective Comics #833
Ah it’s good to see Gotham return to normal with the proud tradition of the insane death trap.
I rate this comic: Classic Batman, but with Zatana

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 #4
And with that I’m really happy I’m reading this book. I was a very late comer to the show in that it wasn’t on the air anymore when I watched it all on DVD so this is all quite enjoyable to me. I haven’t hit saturation point yet. And while I really like this story I also feel like I need to read the last few issues each time I pick up the latest issue. I bet this will read brilliantly in trade.
I rate this comic: It’s Buffy, with ninjas and army plots, what’s not to love?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Well that certainly cleansed the palette after the Senators lost the Stanely Cup to the *shudder* Ducks *shudder*. Hot Fuzz delivered everything I had wanted from that movie. It met my expectations and far exceeded them. I understand why this movie isn't for everyone - mostly because you'd have had to have watched a lot of aciton cop movies and be cool with two Brits totally making fun of them in their brilliantly cutting and loving manner. The romance scenes were brilliant but the climactic battle blew my mind into a gajillion pieces. If I had it at home, I'd have watched it again immediately after I watched it the first time.

You know those rumours about a Solomon Stone movie, well Hot Fuzz beat them to the punch. And that's a joke probably 15 of my 20 readers will understand.

I'd put up a Friday Night Fights retrospective but I only had the one entry (just scroll down a few posts to see the beauty of Plastic Man punch Hitler in the face as part of a three-headed Axis beast).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'd buy X if Y was writing.

I'm currently reading Fluke by Christopher Moore. I can't help but think he should really get a chance to write an issue or two of Aquaman. I'd read it.

Fluke is just a mind blowing read. It's this really endearing story about whale researchers that just goes bat-shit insane at about the halfway mark. I really don't want to spoil it, but I recommend it to you all (although I'm not quite done yet), and Aquaman fans in particular.

I think Moore would be a good choice because of what Mike Sterling posted the other day. When was the last time you saw a comic book not aimed specifically at a children's demographic that promised thrills, adventure and laughs? I think Moore could pull it off and craft, not only a thrilling adventure but one that wasn't dire and depressing. Okay, maybe he can keep the dire and mix it with something else like excitement, humor, science, or dashing adventures on the high seas.

I've read Lamb, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, Dirty Job and Practical Demon Keeping (which has H.P. Lovecraft owning a greasy spoon) and enjoyed all of them. It wasn't until my walk to work this morning that it hit me that this guy was writing novels that embodied what it was I loved about comic books and generally doing a better job about the whole thing.

I wonder who else would seem to be good fits?

J.K. Rowling writing Teen Titans? Tim O'Brien writing Sgt. Rock or The Unknown Soldier?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Last Wednesday's Loot - 30 May 2007

Countdown #48
Okay this is worth a few more issues. I've made it through the first four and while I'm not totally in love there's still something there that I find interesting. I'm trying to decide if I trust the teams enough to bring it all together because they've all done well by me in the past. It's a tough call. I do like this Jimmy I have to admit.
I rate this comic: On a week by week notice.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Night Fights - Always Punch Hitler

Bahlactus calls, eventually I get around to answering - although not always during the right time of day.

Q: When confronted with a three headed Axis beast, who do you punch?
A: Hitler.