Monday, September 16, 2013

diary of a guttersnipe 09/16/2013: back in a civic

by Shawn Starr

I’ve decided to be proactive in treating this random cough i have had for the past few months, and i’ve begun taking cold pills and switching from whiskey + cokes to screwdrivers. Should be cleared up in a few days.


Thor: God of Thunder #12 (Marvel)
by Jason Aaron, Nic Klein

It’s difficult not to see the departure of Esad Ribic from 'Thor: God of Thunder' at the conclusion of the Grodd The Godslayer “mega-arc” (11-issues) as anything but a death nail for that title. Esad brought a heaviness to the title, his artwork carries with it a sense of weight and density that few other artists in comics can achieve - making the fight scenes (featuring overly muscular men wielding hammers punching and smashing their way across the cosmos) feel real in a sense, the hammer blows have a weight behind them and the damage they caused is felt. The other aspect of Ribic’s heaviness is his artwork's clear association with 'Heavy Metal' (both the magazine and musical genre); his artwork begs to depict these genres tropes, it needs to depict outer space and celestial bodies and Conan stand-in’s beating each other up while giving speeches on the state of the cosmos.

With Ribic’s departure, Aaron brings Thor back to earth after a little over a year (publication time) in space, promptly reinserting the god of thunder back into the Marvel Universe and leaving behind much of Ribic’s trademark imagery. This is first achieved by a series of pastiches (showing Thor with the citizenry of the 616, a pub owner noticing the once absent thunder returning and pulls out a barrel or two of mead for the returning hero, Thor meets with an inmate about to be put to death - the inmate in these last moments now realizes that if only he had met Thor earlier he could have avoided his life of crime, etc.) which are all built around the idea of humanizing and bringing him up to speed with the 616 universe. Now this is a god whom we have just watched smash his way through the universe riding on a viking ship with three time displaced versions of himself while on a quest to kill a rogue “god” (see the godslayer had turned himself into a god in his battle against the gods, ironies a bitch, huh?). The deflation is needed in the absence of Ribic, but it’s one that stops the book in it’s tracks, gone are the epic speeches and in their stead is melodrama and YouTube jokes.

Nic Klien’s artwork at times has flourishes of a cosmic scale, there are a few instances, in particular two splash pages both off world where his charcoal texturing adds a depth to the landscapes that looks promising, but his artwork for the majority of the issue is rooted in an amalgamation of house styles that he doesn’t seem completely grown out of yet, and which Aaron seems to only wish to reinforce in his search to bring Thor back “home”.


Mother News, a free newspaper out of Providence, has recently achieved their past editions. The paper itself is quite good, but the main draw here is that this archive contains monthly strips from CF, Mickey Z, Charles Forsman and Michael DeForge (along with others). With so many free alternative newspapers shutting down lately (the long standing Boston Phoenix shut down publication last year after a nearly fifty year run), it’s nice to see one still running, along with publishing strips from some of the best new creators in comics. I’m doubtful this will be possible by the end of the decade.

Speaking of Esad Ribic, he will be taking over art duties on Hickman's 'Avengers' starting in December which actually sounds pretty cool.
A Newsarama interview with Ben Marra. What Newsarama is doing interviewing Ben Marra and why they are doing a “countdown to SPX” is beyond me, but i guess it will get more eyes on Marra’s work, so it’s ultimately a good thing. This interview reminded me of a semi-recent interview with Howard Chaykin on CBR about a new-ish release of his (something about Westerns and TV) where towards the end of the interview, when the inevitable “what else are you working on?” question is asked, the answer is something twenty times more interesting than anything else being talked about in the interview. The crazy thing is the interviewer doesn’t just stop the whole process and latch onto that cool project he just mentioned, they kind of bury the lead instead (In the case of the Chaykin interview it was the mention of a 'Black Kiss Christmas Special' along with 'Black Kiss 3'). Here's the one from the Marra interview:

Newsarama: What's next for you? More blades, more lazers, what?

Marra: I'm currently hard at work on a few projects. I'm working with Josh Bayer and his brother Sam on a new line of superhero comics called All Time Comics. Be on the lookout for those soon. Recently, I wrote a comic that Michael DeForge is drawing and Dash Shaw will be coloring. It's a sequel to Michael and my story that appeared in an issue of 'Smoke Signal', a cyber/bio-punk tale called Faunamancer. Desert Island Comics is going to put that out.

It would be difficult to imagine a stronger lineup for a collaboration in comics right now, alt or mainstream. (An Aside: the interviewer's jokey and slightly pandering tone throughout the interview was really annoying to me.)

CF does “Batman”; signed Paul Pope.

Autopic reports from Secret Acres, and the Autopic organizers.

Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy talking 'The Best of Milligan & McCarthy' over at Robot 6.

“Whether Grace left Dogville, or on the contrary Dogville had left her - and the world in general - is a question of a more artful nature that few would benefit from by asking, and even fewer by providing an answer. And nor indeed will it be answered here."

I finished "Dogville" this week, or was it last, i’m so infrequent with these columns my understanding of time is really beginning to get fucked up. Anyways an interval of time ago, I completed a viewing of Lars Von Trier's film "Dogville", a story of a town who takes in a stranger running away from the mob and how they deal with having complete power over one individual. Their dealings leaves something to be desired over the film's near three hour run time but the ending is something i don’t think i’m going to forget. The narrator, who is so intent on explaining the feelings of each individual and their thoughts, chooses to ignore giving a grand point to the film's violent and possibly deserved ending. It leaves it up to the viewers to decide if the characters who sanctioned each of these acts was right, and if they deserved the consequences put upon them. It’s a film whose ending i will change my opinion on as time progresses, but right now i read too many Josh Simmons comics and i smiled at that shit.

“It was as if the light, previously so merciful and faint, finally refused to cover up for the town any longer. Suddenly you could no longer imagine a berry that would appear one day on a Gusberry bush, but only see the thorn that was there right now. The light now penetrated every unevenness and floor in the buildings and... in the people. "

Lack of context seems to be a big deal in comics this month.

iFanboy is dead. Fuck iFanboy.

Michael DeForge released what i am assuming to be the entirety of the fourth issue of 'Kid Mafia' online. I’m holding off on reading it until the print version comes out, but since most of the 'Kid Mafia' issues are only available from him at a con this might be your only chance to read it.

Youth In Decline had a big week in pre-orders news, they opened with a new issue of 'Frontier' which highlights the artists Hellen Jo, and then followed it up with their first T-Shirt which consists of the company logo (designed by Michael DeForge).

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