Monday, October 22, 2012

diary of a guttersnipe 10/22/2012: it's called topicality! (do you think i'm handsome, no you?)

by Shawn Starr

This week in Diary of a Guttersnipe we talk about the recent crop of announcements at NYCC with Joey Aulisio (aka “The Guy Who Runs The Site”) and then i do some other stuff.



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SHAWN STARR: Well New York Comic Con happened!

I think it's fair to say Image won NYCC this year, or won as much as any comics publisher can “win” a con that is primarily devoted to pandering towards film and television fans, announcing a strong lineup of old favorites and interesting newcomers.

Its amazing that not even a year ago the thought of Image being a dominant force in the market was preposterous. Fuck I’m pretty sure Dark Horse was beating them in market share last year (or were very close) and the only thing of value at Dark Horse is Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Universe and those overpriced Milo Manara collections, and now Image is the home of just about every major writer in mainstream comics and a healthy portion of its top artists (they may even be publishing the best “mainstream” book of the year in 'Prophet'.)

Imagine if the 'DC New 52' had the same lineups as Image this year? I would probably still be buying a DC “proper” book besides 'Batman Inc.' (and even that was more a legacy title).

New Howard Chaykin always has me excited, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's ‘Sex Criminals’ spiked some interest too following Fraction's recent creative renaissance (Casanova/Hawkeye) along with Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly's ‘Three’ which seems like a collaboration that has taken far too long to occur. So which books jumped out at you?

JOEY AULISIO: Yes, NYCC did happen, and this was the first year i did not attend it since 2007. On Thursday I was starting to get a little bummed that i was not going and then once i saw this...
...i was 100% certain i made the right decision not to attend.

But yes i would agree that Image certainly “won” the con once again in terms of announcements, and it does not look like any other publisher is going to challenge that crown for quite a while. The three books you mentioned in particular were certainly standouts among a handful of others.

Chaykin’s ‘Midnight Of The Soul’ sounds like the exact kind of book i want to read right now. It’s hitting all the Chaykin checkpoints so far, Noir mood, 40’s-50’s period setting, takes place in NY, alcohol is involved, and i am sure someone is getting shot and/or fucked at some point. There’s also a parallel universe involved to boot! ‘Black Kiss 2’ has mostly been a fun exercise in excess and depravity so far, but i think this series is probably the one to really pay attention to. I predict it will be the book Generation Wuss will be having a shit-fit over next year but it will be probably be in my Top 5 of 2013.

I notice Matt Fraction seems to be on the explicit tip more than usual lately judging from the books he has announced from Image so far. That murder mystery book he announced with Chaykin back at SDCC looked to be more on the skeevier side of things (Chaykin is drawing it so it will feel like that regardless), and this book literally is about people who have sex to stop time and then commit crimes, so if he wanted to shed his “Marvel hack” image, i guess this is a start. Like you said though it does seem like Fraction has had a creative renaissance recently between the most recent volume of ‘Casanova’ (which came off rather brilliant on a re-read) and the solid work on 'Hawkeye' (and 'FF' from the looks of it), i am more excited to read these now than i would a year or two back. Both Fraction and Zdarsky come off as those annoying kids in the back of the class who won’t shut the fuck up on twitter, but they do make some pretty great comics from time to time.

I agree that Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly collaborating on a book does seem like one of those “this should've happened already” things and i am glad that they decided to come together especially on an original book. The fact that it is a book about Spartans and war threw me off at first but then i remembered that the creative team worked on both ‘Thor’ and ‘Northlanders’ respectively, now it makes more sense. I also like how Gillen described the genesis of this book, as being both a response and appreciation of Frank Miller’s seminal masterpiece ‘300’. Personally, i find it more entertaining and interesting when creators critique each other through their work as opposed to other means, that’s how we get better in a ‘call-and-answer” medium. I do also have to wonder if this was also the book Gillen has been saying was coming from Avatar Press for years, if so my eyes are thankful Image and Ryan Kelly picked up the ball on that one.

Staying on Image announcements though, it seemed like Jonathan Hickman and Ales Kot were certainly the most prolific and ambitious in what they announced. It looks like the Hickman written and drawn book 'Feel Better Now' is finally getting a release as well as a new sci-fi western series with artist Nick Dragotta called 'East and West', While Kot announced the books 'Zero' (featuring like 10+ artists) and 'The Surface' with Langdon Foss on art. Any of these happen to spark any interest for you ?

SHAWN STARR: Yeah that floor makes me want to have a panic attack.

Howard Chaykin seems like the definitive “fuck generation wuss” comic writer/artist. For a man enamoured with Jazz and the 50’s (both for machismo and style), it is fascinating that he can still elicit such a strong response in 2012 for his content, you’d figure we would be past it, or at least see it more as scandalising than content, but that's what makes 'Black Kiss 2' so strong, Chaykin is able to write a book which smears decades worth of romanticism of Old Hollywood, the French Resistance, the Titanic and fucking Disneyland by turning them into these bastions of exploitation and violence, but also subtlety use it as a critique on the American Dream and its acceptance of sex/violence.

So yeah, Chaykin and alcoholic bikers in the 1950’s sounds amazing or awesome, whichever one is more “critically” minded.

(I hope it’s in black and white and everyone dies or gets fucked though.)

The two Hickman books sound strong, Nick Dragotta is one of Marvel’s best artists whenever he shows up on 'FF'. My only complaint is that the “high concept” sounds so “high concept” that it avoids any possible discussion as to what it is actually about. Seriously what does “[A] sci-fi/western hybrid about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse's mission to kill the President of the United States.” even mean at this point in time? It’s so “AWESOME” to be rendered meaningless.

New Hickman art is interesting, i'm fascinated as to what a couple years of only writing Marvel Comics has done to his style (aka his Graphic Designing) since we’ve never actually seen one of the “Marvel” guys draw a book after becoming a “Marvel” guy (Bendis, Brubaker, Remender). Does he still have it? I’d like to see (My guess is no, but as always I would like to be proved wrong).

Ales Kot is one of those guys i’m fascinated by, he’s only had one book out (to my knowledge) which is 'Wild Children', which i think worked well enough as a piece of political comics writing; not “political” in the sense of normal “politics” (aka Republican/Democrat) but as a manifesto on comics as a medium, something akin to 'Promethea'. That said it was clearly modeled after political writers and their need to constantly write a “fictitious” story around their ideas (Fathers and Sons/Thus Spoke Zarathustra/Anthem) and their failure to understand that an actual story needs to occur in their essays (except in the case of Orwell, because well he’s Orwell and the dude can write).

'Zero' seems so ambitious as to be either a total failure in every aspect or a landmark comic. Can’t wait to see which it will be. That's one thing i have to give to Kot, the man does not take half steps - every one of his comic(s) end up being a swing for the fences, which i have to respect (His acceptance of this fact, and its natural polarization among critics and readers is even more admirable, as opposed to Morrison's recent bout of condescendence, valid or not).

Image’s big get this con seems to be Paul Pope's 'One-Trick Rip-Off'; a title originally set to be published by Legendary, which brings up the (unanswerable) question of what happened with Legendary? 'One-Trick Rip-Off' has already been solicited for a January release so it had to be in a late stage of development/production at Legendary, and along with Jamie Grant's coloring (which Image, however flush with 'The Walking Dead' cash, could never possibly afford) seems to point towards a colossal fuck up on their part.

Anyways, new Paul Pope is always a good thing.

Which brings me to a question about Legendary as a publisher, they seem to want to be making “pitch books” for their movie studio counterpart, but so far they have only published 'Holy Terror' which is really and truly "unfilmable", and their recent crop of announcements do not look much better in that respect. The description for the new Grant Morrison book 'Annihilator' reads like a Michael Bay script that someone forced Charlie Kaufman to write under threat of death (or in Kaufman’s case probably a heart to heart with his mother). Which brings us back to the question of what is the point of this comic for Legendary, since "Adaptation" was, while a critical hit (primarily because of Kaufman, or only because of Kaufman), a financial wash. It really seems like a book a post-Animal Man Morrison would produce, which means i will read it, and then be disappointed in it not being 'Animal Man' or 'Doom Patrol' like i am with every Morrison book nowadays.

Legendary announced some other comics right? I didn't read the whole press release since it was long, but i saw Del Toro’s name which seems interesting (I wonder if in two or three years we will be looking at Legendary as another Tundra? Only with less sympathy since seriously fuck Hollywood).

JOEY AULISIO: Legendary the studio brought us “The Dark Knight’ trilogy so i am forever grateful (but they also helped unleash Zack Snyder on the world which is an unforgivable act),

Legendary the publisher really just has a series of announcements under their belt and not much else. I loved ‘Holy Terror’ and was really happy someone had the balls to release it and especially throw that much promotion behind it. They recently released the first part of a collaboration with Matt Wagner and Simon Bisley but other than that nothing has actually showed up in a store. Of the stuff they announced this go around, I think the Grant Morrison book ‘Annihilator’ definitely sounds interesting, and i trust Morrison a lot more with those “run on sentence high concept ideas” than almost anybody else. No mention of an artist yet though unless it is Morrison himself, and if so, Legendary clearly won the con then.

The Guillermo Del Toro book is just a prequel to his upcoming film “Pacific Rim” (of which Legendary is the studio funding), so in other words probably a waste of time, but then again the Del Toro project at Dark Horse right now ‘The Strain’ has a great team on it and is actually a really entertaining read, so who knows? Maybe Del Toro is one of the few Hollywood guys who actually does give a shit if books with his name on it are actually good.

Speaking of Dark Horse though, they had two pretty intriguing announcements which seemed to fly under the radar a bit. The first was that the long awaited book from Gerard Way and Becky Cloonan “The Fabulous Killjoys” looks to finally be hitting shelves in 2013 after originally being announced back in 2009. Way is one of the few “celebrity comic creators” who seems interested not just in the actual medium itself but also trying to push it forward. ‘The Umbrella Academy’ certainly did not reinvent the wheel or anything but it was a genuinely pleasant surprise and an energetic and imaginative read. I also wager that book brought more people (young people especially) to the comic medium than any other comic stunt Marvel or DC has pulled in the last ten years. So another book from him, especially with art by Becky Cloonan, will definitely be something i will check out.

The other book that is one that if i had to say was my favorite announcement overall would be that Joe Casey is reviving 'Catalyst Comix' and using a rotating cast of artists including Dan McDaid, Paul Maybury, and Ulises Farinas (the latter two really caught my eye on ‘Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies’). I believe the idea is to continue the book and bringing in more ‘indie’ artists as it goes along, and since Casey seems to be the only guy really pushing the idea of a superhero comic further, i am excited to see where this ones goes.

SHAWN STARR: I don't really care what Joe Casey does in the first issue of 'Catalyst Comix' because him name dropping Ben Marra is enough to secure my $3.99. Although how amazing would a Ben Marra/Joe Casey comic be? Seriously my brain / dick would explode. So yeah, that comic sounds decent, even though i don’t know what it’s about past “Joe Casey revitalizing a bunch of dead characters no one cares about”; which seems like all Joe Casey does nowadays.

The only real imprint left talking about is Vertigo, since DC and Marvel decided to not bother announcing anything besides 'Young Avengers' (which was leaked a month ago) and a Jim Lee/Scott Snyder Superman book (which was also leaked a month ago). I’ll buy 'Young Avengers' simply because i want to see Gillen/McKelvie do another project, even though it’s not 'Phonogram', and i don't care in the slightest about a Lee/Snyder book because this is not 1992 and i don’t think “LEE IS THE DREAMIEST SCAB TO EVER SCAB” or any book which shares the same name of the movie which is going to be released around the same time will ever be good.

The Scott Snyder/Sean Murphy (it PAINS me to spell Shawn as Sean, like morally, he spells his name wrong and god help me if he didn't draw better than every artist at DC) sounds interesting, Snyder’s name does not elicit much response, he seems like a competent writer, if not over wrought in most cases ('Batman' #12), Murphy’s 'Punk Rock Jesus' is tied for the best comic DC is publishing (with 'Batman Inc') so anything he draws is an instant buy for me, although Snyder may push that into a instant trade buy, by the end of the series. The Jeff Lemire series sounds interesting, although I found 'The 'Underwater Welder' lacking and 'Animal Man' to be running in place after issue #6, but he still has some indie cred left over from 'Lost Dogs' and 'Essex County' for me.

JOEY AULISIO: I am really looking forward to ‘Young Avengers’ but i’ll buy any Gillen/McKelvie collaboration sight unseen, and I could not give less of a fuck about that ‘Man Of Steel’ book. I do think it is interesting that Scott Snyder is just “the guy” for all of DC Comics right now including Vertigo. If you think about it ‘American Vampire’ is the last bona fide hit that Vertigo has had in years, he’s certainly the golden boy at DC proper handling Batman, Swamp Thing, and now Superman to great sales so far. Has there been a creator at DC before who was literally at the top of the sales chains in both camps at DC ? I honestly can’t think of one.

Sean Murphy on the other hand has become the reluctant superstar artist at Vertigo despite DC under utilizing him in every way, and yet everything he works on winds up being a hit. To think in 2007-08 DC signs him to an exclusive and DOES NOTHING with him for years, that is just insanity! Vertigo decides to use him for some ‘Hellblazer’ fill-in’s (most of which did not see the light of day for three plus years), some superhero stuff which they shut down because it did not conform to their “house style”, and then finally gets a hit when he does “Joe The Barbarian” with Grant Morrison plus an ‘American Vampire’ mini that gets him some well deserved recognition too. Now ‘Punk Rock Jesus’ is a hit for Vertigo in spite of the fact that they tried to handicap it several times out of the gate (and like you said it is the best book DC is publishing not called ‘Batman Incorporated’), and only now with ‘The Wake’ is he getting the star treatment.

On the actual book itself, i am not a Scott Snyder fan at all. He’s competent like you said but pretty damn boring otherwise. Sean Murphy on the other hand i have bought pretty much everything he has done since that 'Year One: Batman/Scarecrow' mini and i don’t think i am going to stop now. I’m in for the Lemire one as well, at least 'Trillium' is only a mini so he can’t pointlessly meander for issues at a time like on ‘Sweet Tooth’. That’s the other thing about the Vertigo announcements is that these are basically the three guys they have left that sell anything or draw any interest in a potential audience at all (at least until the new Gaiman/J.H. ‘Sandman’ book drops). Also all the books (even the Gaiman one) are all mini-series now, i guess that’s what they are transitioning into publishing now as a model.

SHAWN STARR: Well Scott Snyder is the only reason Batman sells any copies whatsoever according to him. Take Snyder off Batman and that book will sink like a 1974 Buick LeSabre filled with misfitted clown costumes. That or he’s writing every major franchise with a top tier “superhero” artist, which has a pretty built in audience (along with the perception of its “importance”); it’s not like he saved Green Lantern and turned it into a giant dissertation on rainbows and “AWESOME” moments that are not really that awesome or anything. A new Murphy comic should be good, maybe they will even pay to color it this time (although 'Punk Rock Jesus' kind of proves color is not necessary when it comes to Murphy) and possibly keeping Lemire under 600 pages is for the best.

Well i think that wraps for New York Comic Con, unless something else was announced, but i really don’t care and i figure i would have heard about it by now.

So...we done?

JOEY AULISIO: Yeah, “we done”.

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Not so much a review, as a thought on one comic.

Palomar: The Heartbreak Soup Stories (Fantagraphics)
by Gilbert Hernandez

I'm about a hundred pages into the Gilbert Hernandez 'Palomar' Hardcover and Gilbert's first string of stories are much stronger than Jaime's early Locas entries; they're both there for the most part art wise but Jaime's early stuff is overwritten beyond belief making it a chore to get through. That said the reward at the end of it all is one of the greatest long form narratives in comics, but those first hundred pages are a bitch. Gilbert on the other hand introduces a cast of roughly twenty characters who are pretty well fleshed out early on with believable relationships and conflicts. My only complaint is Gilbert has a tendency to have odd panel transitions which, while not jarring, just stand out a little more to me than they should.



leaflet full of sweet things. #WhiteGuySayings

pamphlet full of honey's #WhiteGuySayings

spreadsheets full of broads. #WhiteGuySayings

phone books full of dames. #WhiteGuySayings

file cabinets full of shorties. #WhiteGuySayings



“I promise you that this will be the best drive-in movie ever made. It will be a movie that people will love. It will be fun, we’ll have a great time making it, and just trust me.” - Joel Silver selling Kelly Lynch on staring in "Road House".

Truer words have never been spoken by a producer, although that was followed up with the following statement "And by the way, you don’t have a choice, you know. You’re under contract. You can say ‘no’ and we can get really difficult, but we want you and you should do this. It could be great for you." just to prove hes still a scumbag.

/////////"That gal's got entirely too many brains to have an ass like that."\\\\\\\\\
I've been attempting to watch every Nicolas Cage film (starring roles, i have a life), so far the worst ones have been:

"Seeking Justice"

Seriously don't watch these movies, they're terrible.

Jamie Hewlett looking Swayze.

"Sometimes, you get your throat cut while a clown is pulling your pants down." - Josh Simmons interviewed on The Comics Journal.

----The best tag line for a movie ever. ---

----The best tag line for a movie ever. ---

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