The Intermittent

Why Are You Still Here?

Friday, February 27, 2004

THE RETURN OF THE BOOM BAP

My exile was self-imposed. Mostly due to the care and feeding of small children, who in their part prevented me from doing anything that might be called "research" to have a learned opinion about the things which this blog covers.

Had I continued to post through this "child-care experiment" portion of my erratic existence I would have been able to say only this:
Finding Nemo is the opiate of the masses.
I have now seen Shrek more times than Star Wars, and I have seen Star Wars a lot. And finally, regardless of politics and religion, you have to admit that the Teletubbies are messed up.

At random points through the day I also cry out "SHARKBAIT! OOH HA HA!". This confuses and distracts most people.

I have since left my role as Mr. Bellvedere, allowing for a laser-like focusing of attention on...whatever the hell this blog is about. I think it might be about home improvement or the Atkin's diet. Something along those lines.

So I will try to hold high the standard of the blog, and barring that, I will resort to dirty jokes.

There once was a man from Nantucket...
|

Thursday, February 26, 2004

THE REVENGE OF ROCKET RACOON

Brief but good retrospective on Mike Mignola over at Ninth Art. But hey now, don't go slamming Rocket Racoon. I remember buying these issues at the Waupaca drugstore when I was but a lad; and they were--and still are, for that matter--a trip. Probably the closest thing to an alternative comic as there was on the newsstands at the time (of course, there were still the DC war books being published as well), a willfully trippy, silly book with basically no ties to the normal Marvel Universe. Killer clowns, the title character, Poe allusions; really, it was a lot to process for me at the time, and it wasn't as if I had access to anything even remotely similiar--cable was thirteen channels, no internet, no comic shops. If it was published today it would fit right in at AIT and could get racked next to Sky Ape or similiar books.

I dug it up out of the bins a couple of years ago. It still holds up, sort of, as a light goofy read. Though of course Mignola is leaps and bounds better as an artist now.

Two glaring omissions though on the Ninth Art list. The first is Mignola's work on the Solomon Kane mini from Marvel. Kane is, to me, Robert Howard's best character; and Kane is a good (though not perfect--too serious) match for Mignola's pencils. That's one of the great lost treasures of my collecting days; I had I think two of the issues. No idea what happened to them. I gather, incidentally, that the Kane stories are going back into print. The Gary Gianni volume looks gorgeous, but is just a little too pricey for my blood.

The other omission is the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series Mignola did for Epic. Not as good as the books; but again, good fun, and a series in which his mastery of layout really starts to show. Not an essential book to have colted and in print (unlike that Helfer/Baker Shadow series, on whose behalf I will keep beating my drum) but another enjoyable read nontheless. Howard Chaykin did the adaptation by the way, making for a quality package all around. Worth picking up on Ebay if you see it.
|
PRIORITIES, PRIORITIES

Hmm. So I guess we're backing off that whole federalism thing, then, huh? Unless the law is only operative if the fetus is killed by interstate mail hurled Bullseye style, in which case the law would be tied to an article of commerce. If you're keeping score then, the government lacks the power to legistlate federal punishments for violence against women, but apparantly can legislate away if a fetus is involved.

God bless us all for the courage of our convictions. And for the gall to abandon them when it suits us.

Link via Pandagon, who also has a really funny comics panel swiped off of Progressive Ruin.
|

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

WHAT HE SAID

I agree with everyting Sean Collins has to say about this.
|
THE LAW: NOT ALWAYS AN ASS

Hey! Something I can talk about with some authority, before I engage in the extended bit of Intermittent navel gazing that's going to take up the rest of the week....

Anyway. News of the day is the ruling in the Gaiman/McFarlane case. The good news is that the Seventh Circuit upheld the District Court's ruling, just like I predicted, which means Gaiman is the winner, at least for now (we'll get to the "for now" bit in a little while). Bad news is that the "news" coverage is...well, let's just say it's not all that good. Though in all fairness it did get better, later in the day.

Okay. To start, let's clear one thing up right up front: this ruling has nothing to do with Miracleman. Nothing. The Todd still holds those rights (such as they may be. See below for more). See, Gaiman sued under two different theories of recovery. First was a straight copyright claim: Gaiman claimed he held partial copyright on a couple of Spawn characters, and asked for his share of the profits those characters made. Second, Gaiman had a breach of contract claim: he argued that Todd welshed on the deal to transfer Miracleman to Gaiman in exchange for Gaiman's rights in the Spawn characters. Here's where it gets tricky. Gaiman couldn't recover under both theories. He couldn't get the money and Miracleman; that's unjust enrichment, and the courts don't much like it even when The Todd is the defendant, though as long as we're amending the Constitution we might as well fix that hole at the same time--A Defense of the Right to Abuse Todd Act (ADRATA) maybe...Gaiman picked the money, and the District Court dismissed the breach of contract claim. Short story long: TMP owes Gaiman possibly boatloads of cash, but not the rights to Miracleman.

Next bit to note. This isn't necessarily even over. Todd owes Neil some cash. But the question remains: how much? At some point, the lower court is going to have to enter an order specifying damages; and that order could be appealed to the Seventh Circuit, though if that happens the only issue would be how much, and not whether, Neil is due. Todd could also theoretically appeal the instant decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but maybe one stab at that is enough for him. As it stands, Todd is left sort of twisting in the wind (but perhaps not tony twisting) pending the outcome of the accounting of damages.

So what are we left with? Well, Gaiman has hella bargaining power. The monies he's owed now might be orders of magnitude greater than the value of the Miracleman rights; Gaiman's owed based on the value of the Spawn characters since their creation. And, despite it's status these days, remember, TMP made some money back in the day. Nothing would prevent the two of them from settling this matter; and if they did, it's entirely possible that the Miracleman rights would be part of the deal. But that is an arrangement that they both would have to consent too; the Court isn't going to order them to do it. In other words, stay tuned.....

The opinion is worth reading. Franklin Harris is rightt; Judge Posner did write the opinion (semi-known Posner fun fact: unlike most federal judges, Posner writes all his own opinions. Most federal judges merely sign off on opinions ghostwritten by clerks). It's a fairly witty opinion, as opinions go; Posner has a light touch and can turn a phrase. I mean, it's not Evan Dorkin does Copyright Law (which should be a CBLDF book), but it is funny, at least by the meager standards of the law. And if this is your first look at an opinion: yes, Judge Learned Hand was a real person. And yes, it is the best legal name ever, followed by Roscoe Pound, whom I always imagined as sounding like Foghorn Leghorn, which does make for some interesting reading.

For a more extended rundown of what the Seventh Circuit actually held, go here. Also, I haven't much been following the issue of what rights, exactly, TMP owns in Miracleman. Todd Verbeek seems to think those rights are de minimis. And he may be right; but I can't tell without more work. Gaiman and his lawyers seem to think Verbeek is right, and they've gone through the discovery, so....keep it in mind.

Standard disclaimer stuff; this isn't to be construed as legal advice or representations, etc, etc. I haven't seen any of the filings other than the posted briefs and the opinion, so I could be missing huge chunks of facts. Any other errors are the fault of that damn scrivener. Bartelby!
|

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

ONE TWO THREE REPEATER

I sort of feel like replying to NeilAlien's sermon, but...I can't get my head quite around what I want to say yet. It's not the accusation of groupthink that got under my skin. No, it was his sly attack on the whole point of the comics blogosphere; the "what kind of person presumes that other people should care what you think" question. And it's a good question, one I only kind of sort of have answers to; I mean, it's pretty much a given (and believe me, I've been the first to point to my own big clay feet) that I have no better point of view than any other schmo who buys comics every wednsday. Short, incomplete, answer: well, this is basically vanity press, and everyone should be onboard with what that entails. I know I am. Longer, more complete answer: forthcoming.

Or you could just go over here and read this piece by John Holbo. John is smarter than me, and a better writer, and likely smells better as well. He hits lots of the same notes I would (and some I wouldn't), only with more panache, about the point of this little excercise in egomania.

I know it's long, but really, it's worth your time. And if you stick to it long enough, you get a gratitious Black Bolt reference, so, you know. there's that.

Final thoughts before I punch out. Sean is wrong (see, see we do disagree!): there is a subtle but strong streak of self-selection at work in the blogosphere. People want hits and attention. For a new blog, the way to get those hits is for Sean or ADD or NeilAlien or, espcially, back in the day, Dirk to throw a link over. No incoming links equals no page views. A new blog that's ignored by the players in this scene, such as they are, isn't really going anywhere. Now, all of those guys are pretty good about linking to things they disagree with, if only to knock them down. And from what I know, which ranges from a little to nearly nothing, all are stand up guys. But still....you sort of get to know the big guns' soft spots, you know? Succes breeds reinforcement, and away we go. Hopefully, when the Great Schism happens we'll all still talk to each other.
|

Monday, February 23, 2004

TOTAL TRASH

Cleaning out the junk here at the Intermittent; out go some old links to sites, in come a fresh new batch. I highly doubt if there is anyone out there reading this who doesn't also read Chris Puzak, but if there....

Why are you still here?
|
THE PERILS OF A QUICK READ

Huh, Sen. Joseph Lieberman is writing Batman now? I guess we'll see a more family friendly comic then, excepting of course that issue where Batman beats the holy hell out of Al Gore.

Oh. Different Lieberman. Right. Slow down, don't read those headlines quite so fast, or stop paying attention to the Presidential race.
|
BEING ARI ARAD

So, evidently the rumour is that Ari Arad wants to really, really cut back on the titles Marvel is publishing. Basicallly the plan (allegedly) is to get rid of anything that is not in development as a movie property.

What's the point of that? Seems sort of half-assed, you know?

I mean, why keep any ongoing titles? If all Marvel cares about is the movies, why publish books at all? You can keep the trademarks alive for a long time even without monthly books. And I would guess that the number of kids who see the X-Men cartoon every month exceeds the number of...kids...that read the comic every month. It's not as if the books are keeping the characters out there in the public eye. So....why is Marvel publishing books at all? What's the upside for Marvel to publish any books at all, if it all it wants to be is a pimp for its IP?

It makes me wonder if Marvel is in the midst of something big, not on the publishing side but on the corporate side. Is Ari following the managment principles of Chainsaw Al Dunlop? Gut the biz for short term profits?

Anyway, this rumour just struck me as odd. Especially in light of DC's efforts to expand its publishing efforts. This must be what CIA analysts felt like looking at the Kremlin; somethings going on here, but what....

UPDATE: Arad, not Avrad. D'oh.

|
ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING

So, superhero's, snobbery, and the limitations of the genre; the "Topic That Endures" of comics fandom. Propping up that stiff corpse this week is Tim O'Neill. His essay is longish, and in response to Dave Fiore's earlier comments. I won't be quoting much of the essay, so go take a look at it before you read on down below.

Basically, I see two main problems with Tim's position. First, I think he makes the fairly common mistake of conflating things that bother him about the genre with objective problems with the genre, to the extent such things actually exist. Second, the categorical distinctions he draws are, in many and fundamental ways, at war with each other. Each of these points in turn; and I'll try to keep this post shorter than Jim Henley's take on the subject.

First off, it seems pretty obvious that the structural and storytelling tics of the superhero genre are really irritating to Tim. These little stylistic twitches are so flagrant to him that he can't see past them; because he gets stuck on the stylistic tropes of the genre, such as they are, he can't get to whatever emotional or metaphorical resonance lies underneath. And this is cool, really. Not a thing wrong with that position. I mean, I can't do opera. The genre requirements that opera works within are to me terribly silly and distracting. Same for old movies (please be gentle, Mr. Fiore). The set design, the style of acting; it all seems artificial to me. And so I find watching both opera and old movies to be uninteresting; the nature of those genre's is such that I can't find the point of access that would allow both enjoyment and analysis. The difference though, between Tim and myself, is that I try not to make the error of mistaking my personal, highly idiosyncratic tastes with the world. The mere fact that I don't like opera--or that Tim can't get past Batroc ze Leepah--doesn't compel a conclusion that either opera or superhero comics are objectively, fundamentally flawed. It would be a tremendous act of ego on my part to argue that my tastes are the ones by which the world should judge its art; I'll instead settle on using my tastes merely the guides by which I judge art. Not a one of us can make the broader claim, nor should we.

Okay, point the first out of the way. My second big problem with Tim's piece is that I think it's logic doesn't hang together. Not that it needs too, necessarily; if Tim were just saying, "hey, I don't much like these" there would be no need for logic at all. But Tim instead tries to construct a reasoned argument for the limitations of the genre, and I think he fails.

First off, he categorically states that superhero's aren't interesting, then later recants and says, sure, there have been some intelligent and thought provoking work done with them. So, his original position is wrong. It's not that all superhero's are uninteresting, but that most, perhaps the vast majority, of superhero books aren't. Okay. Fair enough. So why does this illustrate a failure of the genre versus a failure of the marketplace? Why is his essay about why the genre sucks instead of about ways the marketplace makes the genre suck?

Tim does take a backhanded swipe at the market; the by now standard routine, patented I think by Warren Ellis, of "Servicing the Trademarks." And if Tim were simply making the typical STT claims--that publishers don't want interesting work that hurts the trademark, that artists are better off working on things they own--well, that'd be fine. I might even agree. But he doesn't. His critique is of the whole process of allowing others to use intellectual property that isn't theirs. He more or less argues that those that create a character, or idea, create presumptively better works than those that later use those characters. Which is crap, when you think about it. Leaving aside the vast landscape of counter examples, both within comics and without--Miller on Daredevil, Peter Jackson on LOTR, Sophocles on Electra--Tim's essentially arguing that characters have an objective "essence" against which to measure fidelity. Huh? And even if this is true--even if the original creation retains the spark of its creators--why can't moving that essence within the narrative landscape be interesting, if only for the context? Weirdly enough, Tim's point here would lead to the same sort of ossified genre he deplores; do not take my favorite characters to new places, they were fine with Lee/Ditko, or Claremont/Byrne!

Lastly, Tim bizarrely asserts that supehero's, like fantasy and SF, are divorced from reality; but supehero comics, unlike fantasy and SF, can't construct an alternate reality with resonant psychological depth. This is Jim's angle of assault on Tim's piece, so I won't go on much longer here. Suffice it to say that I assume that Tim has reasons for this statement, but they're not in this post.

Look. I don't read many superhero titles these days. And even in the best of times, most superhero titles are crap. So I'm sympathetic to Tim; and, like I said above, Tim's perfectly within his rights to throw up his hands and walk away from the genre if it's not working for him. But unless you're already inclined to follow him, I don't see his post as giving anyone else a reason to walk out the door.

UPDATE: Added the links, cleared up a few grammar errors, and extended one or two points. Also, everyone reading this should know that Tim's been doing a bang-up job in trying to fill Dirk Deppey's shoes; the above is offered meekly, and in the spirit of healthy debate. Also, for more on this point, see Sean.
|

Thursday, February 19, 2004

THE SAVAGE CRITIQUE

Brian Hibbs emailed me a response to the post below. It is, with his permission reproduced below. I'll append my response in a little bit; but suffice to say that based on his response, I'll willingly concede that Brian may have the better of some of these arguments. Others, I'm not so sure about, even after reading his email. The rest may be two people who love rhetoric talking past each other. In any event, Brian's comments are worth reading, and thinking about. His comments are also a reminder that, surprisingly enough, people actually read these damn things, and that I (along with everyone else) should sometimes watch what we say. It's very easy to say or imply something about someone I've never met, sitting here typing at home; it's good to remember that there are people on the other end out there, most of whom are plugging along in good faith, just like me.

In any event, on with the show....

------
(Hibbs stars below, in italics)

Just FYI, I plan to try and track BookScan “from here on out” – once a year looking in and seeing what’s going on, and to see if and where there is growth.

But, just like Sean before you, I don’t think it’s especially fair to characterize my column as advocating “ignore(ing) an upward trend” – as I said there, and I’ll say here again, I LOVE comics in Bookstores – it creates more customers for US!

What I’m objecting to is the undercurrent of bookstore commenting that implies that the DM should just go away. I disagree, I think that, sure, the DM needs to be TUNED, but it’s still, and will continue to be a 10x more efficient method of selling our product.
---

I believe (though can’t be 100% certain) that “endcap” space in big stores is generally PURCHASED by publishers – that’s why CrossGen had endcap space a few months ago. And that’s at least one of the factors that brought them to the brink of ruin when their comics didn’t sell DESPITE the endcaps. Big returns + big placement fees is a bad combo.

That’s not to imply that this manga won’t sell in the same space, of course.
---
In regards to teen readers, as I wrote to Sean, I never suggested anyone IGNORE them, what I meant to suggest is that IF manga is a trend (rather than a new category) among that demo, then THIS point of the product’s life cycle isn’t the wise place to JUMP IN.

In fact, I’d point to the Old Fogey Theory which states “When DC decides to pursue a trend, that trend is then officially over”

Can you find any evidence that Dark Horse’s manga line has had any spill-over to the rest of what they publish?
---
I’d like to observe as someone with nearly 20 years experience (no pun intended!) selling books to people [not just fans but “civilians”, too] that, quite often, quality DOESN’T sell and crap just FLIES out the door. In fact, it’s usually through the interdiction of folks like me taking a financial chance and hand-selling a work until that material gets “found” by its audience.

The observation (and I think I noted it clearly as a working theory, not anything I can prove) of manga’s periodical-like sales clearly went over the heads of much of my audience – I’m just too used to writing for the “industry” audience rather than a general one that I don’t explain everything the way I probably should.

The concepts of “turns”, which I tried to describe, or things I left implied, like “return on investment” where Tokyopop’s shitty discount (45%!) makes them more difficult to be profitable with, probably need whole columns by themselves.

But, as a retailer, you approach “periodicals” in a very different manner in which you approach “perennials” – they just function in different ways. For you, then end consumer, it doesn’t mean anything, but for “the trade” it surely does.

The point wasn’t “Western = better”, Dave – that’s a very shallow read.

---

I assume nothing about other comic shops. In fact, I bet you I have a much more nasty opinion of shitty comic shops than almost anyone.

I’m also well aware that most stores are shitty. There are plenty of shitty stores in my “cosmopolitan” city, too!

And that makes what the “good” stores do that much more remarkable, in my opinion. And it shows me that the best way to grow comics, as a whole, is to encourage more DM retailers to open.

Especially now that we actually have the product base and market mechanisms to make “backlist-driven” stores “easy” to run.

When I opened Comix Experience in ’89, there were very few TPs, and those that were became a bitch to properly stock because of the decentralized nature of distribution at the time. Ordering something basic like WATCHMEN could take a month or more to show up depending on which distributor had stock at which warehouse.

Now the entirety of stock of the “Big Four” is 3 days away at all times. These are major, major differences.

And, as near as I can tell, there are MORE stores persuing this course than every before – that’s why I threw in that stat about 1800 stores ordering STAR-coded books, that’s 2-6x what previous estimates would have held for stores with any backlist. See? Even the DM is making solid progress...
---
Bottom line I wasn’t trying to “critique” the bookstore market – just to give a couple of data points that I think show that “bookstores = salvation” and “manga = salvation” are inaccurate positions.

I think more places to sell comics are good, and I think more good comics to sell is good. But I also think that, all other things being equal, a specialist is going to do better than a generalist.

-B
|

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

BAD MOVIES

Wrong Turn. Lost in Translation. Both very bad films, for very different reasons.

More later, but trust me: Lost in Translation is the biggest sham in recent filmic history.
|
HAS GEORGE CLOONEY BEEN CONSULTED?

So....Ellis on FF? The new, teen-pop, all ages FF? The new best seller from the all new, family friendly Marvel? I can't imagine this lasting more than five issues before Ellis leaves in a huff over editorial interference. Unless he really needs the money, in which case all bets are off.

And in somewhat related news, does anyone else find it weird that George Clooney was so appalled by the Ennis Fury? Is it really any worse in tone than Three Kings, which featured its share of graphic violence? And really, doesn't Clooney buff his image as Captain Bachelor out there in L.A.? It just strikes me as strange that a one or two panel scene of Colonel Fury with some hookers struck deep at the core of Clooney's moral fiber. But what do I know...I've never slept with Lucy Liu, and he apparently has.

This post used my allotment of question marks for the day. I now go back to depleting the world's supply of semicolons.
|
AVERT YOUR EYES, THESE POSTS MAY ASSUME OTHER FORMS.

Man, were those last posts filled with typos and other grammatical gremlins. And this after Jim called me a great writer too....

Is there an Unqualified Offering jinx?

|

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

A SIGN OF....SOMETHING.

Shawn is right; bookstores are giving manga prime space now. And it's not just Barnes and Noble. This weekend, at Borders, I saw a manga endcap. More shocking, it used the word "shojou" to describe the selection on sale We've reached the point, it seems, where the market for manga is so broad and die hard that it the use of its estoric labels in public places makes good business sense.

I have no idea what this means.
|
LOST IN LA MANCHA

Dogpiling on Brian Hibbs, after Sean does the hard work....

Hibbs' basic point is that bookstores are not the panacea they're made out to be; and he drags out the charts and graphs to prove his point. But all the numerical handwaving is largely besides the point, because all he points to are static pictures of the market--and the phenomenon at issue is the dynamic growth in bookstore sales. Hibbs gives us Bookscan numbers from the past couple of months, all of which show that the direct market sells more OGN's than do booksellers. These numbers might in fact be true; but they are only partially relevant. More relevant are the numbers over time; and here I would expect that we'd see that bookstore sales have increased steadily over the past couple of years. Sure, it would be foolish to think that what goes up stays up (remember the NASDAQ!), but it would be equally foolish to ignore an upward trend.

Moreover, he ignores the fact that bookstores--and here we're talking not about little mom and pops, but giant multinational conglomerates in whose dark employ toil hordes of sales and market analysts, driven by the lash of independent consulting firms--seem to think that comics are going to be a big part of their sales; as Shawn notes, manga is getting prime endcap space. Unless we assume that all these bookstores have no idea of what the market wants, I can't imagine why we should follow Hibbs in discounting the growing role of bookstores.

Further, as Sean rightly notes, it is absolutely perverse of Hibbs to essentially write off teen readers. Are they fickle? Oh, god yes. Do they spend money in bundles? Again, yes. Would a smart publisher have plans to tap this market for as long as it lasts? Sure seems like it to me. Could this money subsidize other, non-manga books, a la Dark Horse, and it seems now, DC? I can't think of a reason why not.

Hibbs also tries to argue that manga has little in the way of return business. Once the kids have read through Chobits, they're done; whereas, of course, Watchmen still sells, thus proving that Western comics have better long term viability. Which is of course why all those trades of Spider Man 2099 are still selling like hotcakes. Oh wait....it doesn't. Quality works will have long term sales. Crap doesn't, mostly. Akira will have long term sales. Calvin and Hobbes (as Hibbs notes) will have long term sales. Watchmen will have long term sales. And Chobits (maybe, I can't really speak to it's quality), and Ghost Rider, and Cathy won't.

And finally, Hibbs makes the mistake of assuming that his store--located in a fairly cosmopolitan city, and evidently serving a pretty diverse clientele--is representative of stores nationwide. It ain't, based on my experience is six states. In most of the stores I've been to, a copy of Love and Rockets would be as rare a thing as a female customer.

Really, there are lots of smart ways to critique the bookstore market, or manga. We've in fact gone over lots of them. Hibbs' piece? Not one them.
|
GOODBYE TO THE KING

When I said below that Dirk was the heart of comics blogdom, I meant it. And it's thus with sadness for the comics net that I extend to Dirk congratulations on the promotion; and hopefully we all can live up to his example with respect both the breadth of coverage and depth of thought.
|

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

JUMPING ON THE NEW TRAIN

Watchmen blogging? Feh. That's so, like, two weeks ago. This week the smart money is on a run of Dark Knight blogging. I don't have time (see below) for much in depth contribution to this sure to hopping topic, but I will say this: the genius of Frank Miller is that he at once strips characters to their essence and then inflates that essence until it fills the whole world.

Look at what Miller did with Sin City. The characters are defined by at most two recognizable emotions at any given time, usually Love/vengeance. They have no personal life apart from their obsessive need to either redeem their love/avenge their love/avenge their betrayal/save their lover. The bad guys aren't just bad, they're demonic: pedophiles, cannibals, perverts, murderers. These are characters devoid of any nuance. And they should be shallow, dull, uniteresting. But they're not. Miller powers through that problem by cranking the volume up to eleven. It's not just love, but LOVE! VENGEANCE! DUTY! Miller's technique is the comics equivalent of Glenn Branca guitar symphonies: keep smacking away at the same couple of notes until they fill the whole room with reverb and overtones and you're so overwhelmed by the sheer power that you don't even notice the simplicity of the underlying scheme.

This is seen even in the art for Sin City; black and white not for the morality (which is often in fact quite gray) of the town but for the the lack of nuance in the stories. And look at the panel compositions. Miller has moved to stark, large images, that are iconic in the true sense of the term: when you see Marv silhouetted climbing a building, or three pages of a man trying to get up after a heart attack, you're seeing one moment, one emotion inflated to point of dominance. Note that these are often static panels. Each moment exists on its own terms, as pure expressions of the thematic emotion.

I'd say this is why Miller's Dark Knight is often imitated but never surpassed. Miller boiled Batman down to his essence; an obsessive, calculated need for violent justice. And then he took this essence and juiced it up into a narrative juggernaut. His followers go the essence, but forget to juice it up; and so we're left with tales of an obessive hero that get old quick. Without adding more nuance, there are only so many ways to tell stories about Batman's particular obession.

Anyway. This theory is half-baked and has likely been said better elsewhere. But it is to me, now, the key to his work. Miller tears down and pumps up like no one else in comics.

Link to the Dark Knight piece via Sean.
|
THE ROAD TO FOUR COLOR HELL

It's what I'm on apparently, what with my fortnightly posting schedule. The culprit in this most recent dry spell? The new Intermittent Puppy, D.C. She's adorable (I'll put her up against Sean's cat in the cuteness derby, sight unseen), smart, headstrong as all get out, and only sort of housebroken. Therefore time I could spend on the computer is spent instead on mop and bucket duty.

In the grand scheme of things, I'm sure the world is better off with less posting and less indoor peeing rather than more of both.
|

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

EVOLUTION AT WORK

As us comics blogger types have proliferated (and that reminds me, an update the blogroll is waaaay overdue), the old guard has adapted; when every yahoo can give his opinions on things, it takes something more to make your blog stand out. And so we see ADD step up to the plate and give us essentially original journalism, interviews with James Kochalka and now, Dirk Deppey. ADD stays ahead of the evolutionary curve; while this site is a small furry animal scrounging for crumbs, Alan goes and gets himself thumbs.

Go and read the Dirk interview, if you haven't already. Lots of interesting stuff there, and nothing to detract from Dirk's deserved reputation as the heart of the comics net.

UPDATE: To everyone who came here via Alan's link: yes, I wrote "animan." Consider it either an egregious typo and cut me some slack or else a sly reference to Dr. Moreau and bask in the light of my genius. Up to you.
|
SOMETHING I LEARNED TODAY

Via Sean, the lyrics to Born Slippy. I would never have figured these out in a million years. Other than the "lager lager" bit, it was always a blur to me, albeit a blur with a really kicking beat.

And if you haven't, go show Sean some love already.
|