Thursday, March 27, 2008

Five to Read for Thursday, March 27

Items of interest from around the Blogosphere:

* Progressive Ruin presents...the End of Civilization

* Precocious Curmudgeon: Mergers and acquisitions

* all kinds of stuff: Don Martin - department store 2, The Genius of "Ignorant Humor" (via Heidi)

* Uncharted Territory: Gender and Reading Habits Part One: Let's Hear it for the Boys (via Chris)

* Polite Dissent: Colorful Diseases of the Golden Age: The Purple Plague

New This Week: March 26, 2008

I haven't done these for a while, but while this may not quite be the Best New Comics Week Ever, it's definitely up there so a few things bear mentioning:

For all you formalists out there, the top of the list is sure to be the second issue of Kevin Huizenga's Ganges. If there's anything even approaching last issue's "Time Traveling" story, it'll be worth your $8 right there.

Also this week is the tenth issue of All-Star Superman, which we forgive for being constantly late because Morrison & Quitely are always so darn good.

Completing the once-in-a-blue-moon trilogy is a new issue of Jason Lutes' Berlin (#15).

Oh, and also a new issue of Amelia Rules (#20), which must make it a quadrology.

Also showing up this week are Blue Beetle #25, which not only features an end to the major overarching Reach storyling but also means that Jamie Reyes' comic has officially lasted longer than Ted Kord's; and Dan Dare #5.

There's plenty of other good stuff too, which I'm sure you've already seen if you went to your FLCS yesterday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Night Fights: Angel vs. Ape

(From Angel and the Ape #1 (1991). Story by Phil Foglio. Art by Phil Foglio & Keith Wilson.)

Round Eleven? Yes Ma'am!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When Will Amazing Spider-Man Catch Up with Action Comics?

Now that Amazing Spider-Man is being published three times a month, when will it catch up in its numbering to Action Comics?

Assuming that ASM keeps its thrice-monthly publication, and that Action continues to come out once a month (not a guarantee, especially lately...), we can do a little quick back-of-the-napkin algebra:

Issue #554 of ASM is the last one published in March; Action didn't publish an issue in March (see what I mean!) though #862 came out in February. So, let x = the number of months until the two titles reach numbering parity, and we get:

554 + 3x = 862 + X
2x = 308
x = 154

So in 154 months; or 12 years, 10 months from now; i.e. January 2020, with issue #1016.

This has been your useless comics math calculation of the day :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comics in Google Books

Now that Google has finished scanning our library, some of the comics & graphic novels scanned have started to make their way into Google Books (and its local equivalent, MBooks). A quick search of Mirlyn (our local catalog) shows at least 375 so far, with more sure to come.

Of course, with most of these scanned items still in copyright, they are only available in search mode; which means that you can search the text of the books (and see 'snippets' where the search terms appear) but not actually view the pages of the books themselves; for that you'll still need to go to your friendly local comic store (or public library!)

As might be expected, the quality of the OCR when dealing with hand lettering can be rather poor. Take for example the Google scan of Avengers: Emperor Doom, with 'key words and phrases' that include 'THROUÖH', 'RI&HT', 'THINÖ', and 'AVENÖERS'--we can infer that Google's OCR had difficulties with letterer Bill Oakley's 'G'.

So I'm not exactly sure what the utility will be of having these scans available, but it does make for an interesting curiosity.

Review: Suppli, vol. 1

Suppli, vol. 1
by Mari Okazaki
Tokyopop, $9.99

Twenty-seven-year-old Minami is unhappy in life. Her relationship with her boyfriend of seven years is stagnating and she barely sees him due to her job. But her job at an advertising agency is unsatisfying; Minami wants to create exciting, unconventional ads, while the clients just want the same, safe advertising. By the end of the first chapter (and I don't think I'm giving away anything here) Minami's boyfriend dumps her and her life starts spinning out of control. Luckily for Minami she's a plucky manga heroine, so despite numerous setbacks she starts to live life again.

Suppli is another josei manga, intended for an audience of young professional women. I can't say that the story grabbed me, though that may differ for you if you're part of the target audience. Certainly it's refreshing to see a manga targeted at women where the protagonist has interests other than finding a man; one feels that Minami's professional challenges are as important to her as her romantic ones, perhaps even moreso.

The best part of Suppli is Okazaki's art, which features inky lines that never overwhelm, excellent character design, and a strong sense of graphics and storytelling. While the story may not have held my complete interest throughout, I continued to go through the volume to enjoy the artwork. I pre-ordered this book based solely on the cover, figuring if the art inside was half as good then it would be worth it; happily the interior lives up.

So a mild recommendation to at least pick the book up and look through it; give it a chance to see if the story appeals to you.

Rating: 3 (of 5)

(Other reviews: David Welsh; Katherine Dacey)

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Library Comics: Week of March 10, 2008

Here's a list of the comics we added to our library collection last week:

Brunetti, Ivan. Cartooning : philosophy and practice / Oakland, CA : Buenaventura Press, c2007.

Gumby / Walnut Creek, CA : Wildcard Ink, c2006- no. 1

Howarth, Matt, 1954- Particle dreams / Agoura, CA : Fantagraphics Books, 1986-1987. nos. 1-2, 4

Lurid tales. / Seattle, WA : Eros Comix, 1991- no. 1

Oh, comics!. Dublin, OH : Corby Visual Productions. nos. 12-14

Terasawa, Buichi, 1955- Cobra / San Francisco, CA : Viz Comics, c1990-1991. nos. 1-12

This listing is now available as an RSS Feed!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Tunes

Sorry for the relative silence this week. Here's a playable playlist of some of the songs I've listened to over the past couple of weeks:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Review: Glacial Period

Glacial Period
by Nicolas De Crécy
NBM ComicsLit, $14.95

This is a strange graphic novella, part future travelogue, part art & cultural critique, part ecological warning tract, and part absurdist narrative.

The book basically breaks down into three acts. In the first, we are introduced to a group of archaeologist-anthropologist-explorers in a far future Earth ravaged by ecological catastrophe into a glacial wasteland. They are accompanied by talking hybrid pig-dogs who are for no discernible reason are named after American super-heroes like Hulk & Spider-Man. (One wonders if this was an unfortunate choice by the translator and that perhaps in the original French they were named after famous European comic characters--Tintin & Asterix perhaps?) We learn that the explorers are looking for artifacts from our earlier civilization, and perhaps a great city; also, that one of the pig-dogs, Hulk, has untoward feelings towards his human mistress.

In the second act, Hulk and the humans separately stumble upon different parts of the Louvre, recently uncovered via a snow-slide from its icy entombment. The humans discover the various paintings hung in the museum and completely misinterpret what they represent.

In the third act, the statures and various pieces of representational art come to life and begin to hound poor Hulk, impressing upon his the history of the Louvre and the downfall of the prior civilization. Hulk then mounts one of the large dog-like statues and rescues two of the humans who had become trapped in a mini-avalanche. They ride off into the sunset.

The plot summary above doesn't even begin to describe the strangeness, so I don't feel that I'm giving much away. The best part is the satirical second act, as the explorers take the representations of their finds far too literally. It serves as a critique of the potential follies of anthropology as well as the times that produced the art in question. The other parts of the narrative don't fare as well; the introductory section establishes relationships that are not successfully followed through on, while the end defies logic and undercuts the earlier parts with its use of the fantastic and absurd that comes out of nowhere. My understanding is that this is De Crécy's style; he just needed to either curtail it here or set us up better for it.

De Crécy, a graduate of the Angoulême comics art school, is a skilled storyteller and is able to work the reproductions of the various art works into his work with ease. This is partially an educational enterprise, done in conjunction with the Louvre to promote appreciation of the arts in general and their collections in particular. I'm not sure this is what they were expecting!

Still, there's enough good stuff here to recommendthat you consider giving it a look.

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bad Reading Habits

I may have mentioned once or twice that I have a tremendous back-log of comics that I haven't read yet. There are three whole short-boxes of comics floppies in my to-be-read 'pile,' not to mention the scores of unread graphic novels and manga sitting on my shelves.

This means that in the evening when I'm selecting a comic to read next, I don't necessarily go for what I think will be the best read, but often the quickest, in an attempt to cut down on the sheer volume of comics that need to be read. So anything by Chuck Dixon? An easy read, five minutes tops. But even though an issue of Casanova will most likely be a better comic, the time spent per page count will be higher. So the last several issues of Casanova sit in one of the boxes.

Sometimes if I get a nice long weekend with nothing else to do I'll pull out a long run of something and give it a read. But those chances are few and far between these days.

One peculiar thing that happens, particularly with mini-series, is that I'll read the first issue to see if it's any good. If it is, I'll get the rest of the issues, but many times they go unread until the series is finished. Then I realize that several months have gone by since I read the first issue and I don't know remember what's going on. Going back to read the first issue again seems counterproductive--reading something I've already read when there are so many unread comics to be read. It's like a vicious circle or something.

Of course one solution to all this is to buy less comics. I've managed to cut about $100 off of my monthly DCBS order, so that's a start. I could also move more things to wait-for-the-trade, but that just means that the bookshelves grow more packed instead of the short boxes.

I long ago accepted the fact that I'll never read every prose novel I want to read. I guess I'll have to accept the same thing about comics.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

That Sense of Wonder

Remember that sense of wonder you had when you read comics as a youngster. I can remember going to the spinner rack at the newsstand, being presented with so many choices and having to narrow it down to just one or two comics. Then getting home, cracking it open, and reading it cover-to-cover--the story, the letters pages, even the ads--over and over; pouring over it like a Talmudic scholar.

Where is that sense of wonder now? What made it leave? Is it age and experience? Have I just read too many comics?

Were the comics of my youth better in some way? By most objective measures today's comics are overall better--better writing, better art, better production values. And there are certainly many more choices in both types of material and in sheer number of comics being published. But is that 'wow' still there for a new comics reader?

Forgive me, I'm just feeling a bit melancholy today.

Does today's eleven-year-old kid who cracks open a new volume of Naruto have the same feeling of excitement, wonder and possibility that I did when reading an issue of DC Comics Presents?

I certainly hope so.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gary Gygax

As you may have already heard, Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax passed away today at age 69. While this of course is sad news, I had to laugh when a co-worker, upon sharing the news, remarked that "we will now have 1D6 minutes of silence in his honor." :)

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #1

I began playing D&D back in 1980 at the ripe young age of 10. Although I haven't played and significant D&D in about twenty years, it began a love of role playing games that continues to this day. I suppose, like a first love, one always fondly remembers one's first RPG rules system.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Silver Age Vertigo

Just in case you haven't seen it yet, this is a work of brilliance.

YAMR: Cover Songs 5

Now playing on Yet Another Music Radio: Cover Songs 5! Another compilation of over 100 songs by the artists who didn't make them famous!

For nearly seven hours you'll be able to listen to:

Adrienne Young covers Joni Mitchell
Alison Krauss & John Waite cover John Waite
Allison Crowe covers Leonard Cohen
Allison Moorer covers Johnny Cash
American Music Club cover The Mamas and the Papas
Angela Kaset covers Suzy Bogguss
The Be Good Tanyas cover Prince
Bebel Gilberto covers The Eurythmics
Beth Nielsen Chapman covers Billy Jonas
The Bird and The Bee cover The Bee Gees
Blue Man Group & Venus Hum cover Donna Summer
Celtic Fayre cover The Waterboys
Celtic Woman cover Bobby Darin
Daphne Rubin-Vega covers Kermit the Frog
Dar Williams covers Pink Floyd
Deana Carter covers Roy Orbison
Deanna Kirk covers Leonard Cohen
The Derailers cover The Crystals
The Detroit Cobras cover The Flirtations
Diana DeGarmo covers Melissa Manchester
Dolly Parton with Judy Collins & Rhonda Vincent covers Joni Mitchell
The Duhks cover Randy Newman
Dwight Yoakam covers Little Eva
Elizabeth Mitchell covers The Velvet Underground
Elizabeth Mitchell & Lisa Loeb cover Bob Dylan
Emm Gryner covers Ozzy Osbourne
Emmy Rossum covers The Carpenters
Emmylou Harris covers The Everly Brothers
Falco covers Steely Dan
Farmer's Daughter cover Bobbie Gentry
George Strait covers Bruce Robison
Gwyneth Paltrow covers Kim Carnes
Hayley Westenra covers Kate Bush
Hem cover Natalie Wood & Richard Beymer
Il Troubadore cover ABBA
Ivy cover The Carpenters
James Mercer covers The Pixies
Jane Monheit covers Bread
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins cover The Traveling Wilburys
Joan Osborne covers Sara Evans
Joaquin Phoenix & Reese Witherspoon cover Bob Dylan
John Legend & Stephen Colbert cover Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
John Paul White covers Electric Light Orchestra
Johnny Cash covers Soundgarden
Jonatha Brooke covers The Beach Boys
Jonathan Coulton covers Sir Mix-a-Lot
Joss Stone covers The Drifters
June Tabor & The Oyster Band cover The Velvet Underground
Karrin Allyson covers Joni Mitchell
Kelly Sweet covers Aerosmith
Kris McKay covers The English Beat
Kyrsten covers Bad Company
Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Des'ree cover Bill Withers
Lori McKenna covers Peter Gabriel
Lorie Line covers Cat Stevens
The Lucksmiths cover The Bee Gees
Lucy Kaplansky covers Roxy Music
Luna covers Paula Abdul
Madeleine Peyroux covers Patsy Cline
Maire Brennan & Michael McDonald cover Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush
Mandy Barnett & The Jordanaires cover Hank Williams
Mary Chapin Carpenter covers Bruce Springsteen
Mates of State cover David Bowie
Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs cover The Who
Michael Carpenter covers Jeff Lynne
The Muppets cover Harry Nilsson
Mutual Admiration Society cover Toad the Wet Sprocket
Natacha Atlas covers Matt Monro
Neko Case covers The Shangri-Las
Nichole Nordeman covers Bob Dylan
Nichole Nordeman covers Cyndi Lauper
Nickel Creek covers Pavement
Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackman cover Prince & Elvis Presley
Norah Jones & Adam Levy cover Elvis Presley
Ookla the Mok cover James Kochalka Superstar
Patty Griffin covers Bruce Springsteen
Paul Anka covers Survivor
Peter Gabriel covers Magnetic Fields
Pink Martini cover Doris Day
The Puppini Sisters cover Blondie
The Puppini Sisters cover Beyoncé Knowles
The Raveonettes cover The Angels
Red Molly cover Elvis Presley
Reel Big Fish cover The J. Geils Band
Richard Shindell covers Bruce Springsteen
Ricky Scaggs & Bruce Hornsby cover Rick James
Rilo Kiley cover The Velvet Underground
Rogue Wave cover Buddy Holly
Ronan Keating covers Keith Whitley
Sammy Kershaw covers James Taylor
Sarah Blasko covers Crowded House
Sarah Brightman covers Kansas
Seal covers Echo & The Bunnymen
The Section Quartet cover Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Seven Nations cover The Church
The Softies cover Rick Astley
Something For Kate cover Christina Aguilera
Student Rick cover Belinda Carlisle
Suzy Bogguss covers Chicago
Thrice cover Real Life
Tok Tok Tok cover Paul Simon
Tori Amos covers Boomtown Rats
Vitamin String Quartet cover Flyleaf
The Wailin' Jennys cover Neil Young
Willis cover Cameo
Wyclef Jean & Eve cover The Outfield
Yellowcard cover Michelle Branch

It's all free, so tune in now!