Tuesday, December 07, 2004



I cannot count how many times in the past month or so that I sat down to do this, started it, didn't get done, and then got discouraged because stuff got to be to outdated to link to or comment about.

Well not this time. Here's a batch of stuff that's popped up in the past few weeks. If you don't like your commentary slightly aged, just pass right by. I've tried to cluster newer stuff toward the top.

This is also your "long and rambly" warning.

Happy Anniversary Progressive Ruin!

If I were the editor of an online newsmagazine and a columnist included a line like this in a submission, I'd bounce them off the staff in a heartbeat:

"Once again if you possess a short attention span, a poor sense of humor and/or if you’re easily irked by rampant spelling errors and really bad grammar, then feel free to skip to 'The Verdict' in all the reviews." (Emphasis mine.)

As a wanna-be writer, I just don't get the need to flaunt one's ignorance like it's some kind of virtue. It's sloppy and lazy. It's also counter-productive. If you don't care enough about what you're writing to make it the best it can be, then why should anyone want to read it?

As an editor, I cannot comprehend such a lack of oversight and quality control. You can have your "geek in the shop" reviews without a total disregard for standards. It reflects poorly on the site, on the product they offer, and insults the readers.

It just plain looks bad. Standards for most online comics news sites are low enough as it is. Dalton Wemble at Comixpedia addresses the need for editors from a web comics point of view. I would argue that the same thing applies to comics news sites as well. (Thanks to Cognitive Dissonance for the Comixpedia link.)

Top Shelf has a holiday special running right now: 10 bucks off an order of $29.95 or more. Johanna Draper Carlson has more info, plus a list of recommendations. Top Shelf also has some stuff marked down, which can stretch the savings further. I'm thinking it may be time to finally order a copy of Mirror of Love.

Augie de Blieck has his Preview Review up. Surprisingly, several of the same books caught both our eyes. I could have done without the inane blathering about The Comics Journal though. I just saw that Johanna Draper Carlson has hers up too. I don't have time to read it right now, but it's always worth checking out.

Last week on his Bad Signal list, Warren Ellis shared this link. It's a promo for an web-animated Transmet series that never went anywhere.

Speaking of Carlson, she's been reviewing more manga. Readers looking for good places to start reading manga can find a lot of pointers in her reviews. One of the series she recently named a "comic worth reading" is Marmalade Boy, which is one of my favorite anime. I don't know why I’ve never read any of the manga, but I'll obviously have to do something about that.

But she really misses the boat with her Jane's World review. "Cathy with better art." Like Cathy ever had space aliens turn a character into a monkey or floated down a river on a mobile home or dated a woman who turned out to be a secret agent or... Okay, I'm getting carried away.

Suffice it to say, Paige Braddock is prone to some wild flights of fancy in Jane's World, and she makes it work well. This collision of the fantastic and the mundane in a gag-a-day strip is hard to pull off. Jane puts a whole different spin on the search for life, love, and happiness in today's modern world.

To be fair to Carlson, I know she has to review the issue at hand and make her judgment about the series based on what she sees there. I cannot specifically recall the contents to JW #14 off the top of my head, so I don't remember how much the side of Jane I like so well is on display. It's just a shame that this issue wasn't enough to grab Carlson, since Jane really is a great book.

My personal preference would be for Braddock to actually tell stories intended to be printed and read as a comic book, rather than just reprint her strip. I'd love to see what she could do with the rhythm and pace of a comics book, which is quite different from a strip. At least she largely seems to have gotten her impulse to try to mimic comic book pages by enlarging panels from the strip.

In other reviews, David Welsh has a nice review of Alice 19th that reminds me how much I love Yu Watase's work.

Dorian at Postmodern Barney (my current favorite comics blog) posted a link to an anti-communist story from Treasure Chest. This stuff is one of my comics fascinations of the moment. There were a handful of red scare comics like this put out during the early Cold War years, mainly by Catholic publishers. They're super hard to find and tend to fetch prices that I'm not willing to pay, so I'm ecstatic to get to read this story, which was scanned from several issues of Treasure Chest. My dream comic project would be a nice hardback collection reprinting these stories. Dorian hints that he was going to be discussing this material in the future, so I hope this doesn't make him change his mind.

A couple of weeks ago, Augie de Blieck asked an interesting question, kind of a "before they were famous" type thing. He calls it the "Others," as in the "other" books that mainstream comics "names" worked on that never got huge levels of attention. Last week, he published some of the answers he got. I'm only dimly aware of who is supposed to be "hot" in mainstream comics right now, but I can tell you that my favorite Kurt Busiek series was called Jonny Demon, which came out from Dark Horse about a gazillion years ago, well before Busiek became a "comics name." In fact, it can go on the record as the only KB comic I've ever liked! Apparently, I'm the only one who remembers this one, because no one else mentioned it.

Someone does mention Valentino's A Touch of Silver, prompting Augie to wish for other stuff in this vein. Valentino did a couple of autobio comics for Renegade back in the 80's which have been collected by Image, if anyone is really interested in more of this kind of material. It's much better material than ATOS, which veered too much toward the maudlin in my opinion. My vote for "Other" material from Valentino would be the Myth Adventures-style stuff he did for Warp and Apple.

As annoying as it is to find books I bought for full price a couple of years ago on sale for just a buck, dollarmanga.com is a good way to try out some manga titles. (Thanks to Shawn Fumo, and a ton of other people for pointing this one out.) If you haven't read Joan, I highly recommend it. The art is beautiful, with lovely color throughout. It's a historical novel about a young girl (raised as a boy) who finds herself following in the footsteps of Joan of Arc, who died several years earlier. The book's protagonist finds herself interacting with the same people that Joan did and following the same path as the warrior saint. It's a good read that explores the intersections of faith, politics, gender and identity.

Finally, comics newsmagazines tend to be so mainstream and super-hero oriented that it's good to see interviews like this recent one with Charles Burns, even if the questions do seem a little weak. And again, pointing to the need for an editor: What is the purpose of repeating a quote from the second paragraph of the interview in the opener? There's no reason for it, nor is there any other text that might support its use and actually turn it into a proper introduction.

Well, that clears off my plate. Hopefully that wasn't too intolerable for a bit of slightly aged, but hopefully still tasty morsels. I hope that tonight I can put some more current stuff up. Maybe I won't reference Johanna Draper Carlson so much!

1 comment:

E. Burns said...

Amen, brother, on the question of the need for editors both in Comics and Comics Journalism. Which makes me wonder how to do that for my own site....