Comics Ate My Brain

October 27, 2009

Podcast thoughts

Filed under: meta, podcast — Tom Bondurant @ 12:16 am
As you might have guessed, real life has intruded on my attempts to do weekly-roundup podcasts, just as it did on the written versions. I don’t mind doing them; but there are logistical difficulties, most of which concern a certain 14 1/2-month-old and her various bodily needs. In other words, it’s been hard finding an hour (at least) to record and edit the things.

Therefore, because I can’t quite tell how many of you actually listen to and/or like the podcasts, I’m asking now. Sound quality notwithstanding, would you like me to keep doing them, or would you prefer I go back to weekly posts on this site? My feelings won’t be hurt either way, and I may even do a little of both.

Thanks!

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September 28, 2009

Where are the Marvel nerd pages?

Filed under: meta, questions — Tom Bondurant @ 9:54 pm
Writing annotations for Trinity was a whole lot easier thanks to the wealth of DC nerd-sites on the Internets. The Unauthorized Chronology of the DC Universe is an excellent, well-reasoned, and fairly comprehensive timeline of post-Crisis DC. The DCU Guide indexes most characters’ appearances, both currently and in the Golden and Silver Ages. Mike’s Amazing World Of DC Comics focuses on the company’s publishing history.

However, for a company which made Eliot R. Brown a legend among nerds, I haven’t been able to find comparable resources for the Marvel Universe. If I want to know how Dr. Strange’s Defenders appearances dovetailed with his various solo series, where do I go? Last week I was curious to see whether the Essential Spider-Woman books covered all of the character’s major appearances, but I’m unaware of a Marvel counterpart to the DCU Guide. I’d love to see month-by-month charts of Marvel’s output over the past seventy years, but again, no luck.

So what about it, True Believers? And don’t tell me it’s because you actually have lives….

August 23, 2009

I got knocked out, and that turned out OK

Filed under: meta, podcast — Tom Bondurant @ 11:58 pm
The short version of this post is, the podcast is late because I have been sick. It’ll be done tomorrow, I hope.

The long version is, I ate something Thursday night which disagreed rather persuasively with me, so much so that I spent pretty much all of Friday on my back.

On the plus side, Thursday night I did get to see an “Incredible Hulk” I’d never seen before, where Hulk must land jetliner. Hulk evidently had lasagna.

Accordingly, yesterday and today were filled with postponed chores. It also meant I was in no shape to participate in Tom Spurgeon’s Five For Friday, which this week was all about matching songs with the comics pros who we’d want adapting them.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I didn’t get to submit my list, because I had gotten stuck on “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” adapted by George Perez — you know, for the quintessential Perez “let there be light” gradually-expanding layouts — and clearly I was too sick to blog because I didn’t take this vivisection of the song into consideration.

So now I’m feeling much better, thanks; and I might as well share a list, right? How about:

1. “Boys Of Summer,” Don Henley — Alex Toth
2. “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,” Billy Joel — Rozakis/DeStefano
3. “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” Meat Loaf — O’Neil/Adams
4. “Annie’s Song,” John Denver — Wolfman/Perez
5. “Dancing In The Streets,” Martha Reeves and the Vandellas — Simone/Scott

(Aaah, probably still sick….)

February 13, 2009

Which Essential Next?

Filed under: meta — Tom Bondurant @ 12:55 am
As you all know, I am always interested in Marvel comics from the ’60s and ’70s. So far I have read all the Essential volumes for Captain America, Howard the Duck, Tomb of Dracula, Godzilla, Killraven, Super-Villain Team-Up, and The Defenders.

Furthermore, I have read the first volume only of Essential Thor, Essential Avengers, Essential Doctor Strange, and Essential Spider-Woman (yes, I know).

Therefore, I have two questions:

1. Which new series should I start? Contenders include Iron Man, Hulk, and Marvel Two-In-One, but I welcome all suggestions. (It will, however, take a lot to get me to buy Essential Dazzler Vol. 1; and keep in mind I bought the Spider-Woman book without hesitation.)

2. Which of the series listed above (Thor, Avengers, Doctor Strange, or Spider-Woman) should I pick up next? Again, I’m leaning towards Doctor Strange, but I could be swayed.

Note that Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man (and probably Peter Parker by extension) are not part of the discussion because I am reading the Masterworks (and I have the FF reprints on DVD).

For your convenience, here is Wikipedia’s chart of Essential reprints.

Thanks!

January 6, 2009

If it’s Tuesday, it must be …

Filed under: meta — Tom Bondurant @ 2:46 am
In case you haven’t heard, we few, we happy few who used to write for Blog@Newsarama have found a new home under the CBR umbrella. We call ourselves Robot 6 now, and we’re better than ever.

Of course, I say “we” collectively. “I” am still doing the same kinds of things, except I’m doing them two days earlier.

Therefore, look for the newest Grumpy Old fan at high noon tomorrow, Tuesday, January 6, right behind this link.

See you there!

December 24, 2008

Christmas on the go

Filed under: Christmas, meta — Tom Bondurant @ 3:06 am
Every Christmas I try to post something profound, or at least something obvious said in a somewhat clever way. Not so much this year, however. This year we have been scrambling simply to keep ahead of Christmas. Let’s put it this way: tomorrow morning the LCS opens at 8 a.m. and I still won’t have time to go there.

Among other things, Christmas emphasizes how the divine was visited upon the mundane, so all this clamor and confusion may seem a little perverse. Indeed, I am more than ready for just settling down to a long winter’s nap. (I was ready for it at about 3:00 this afternoon, in fact.)

Nevertheless, in the spirit of the holiday, I am sure everything will work itself out in the end. I am looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and sharing the season with my family. I do feel another Santa-as-superhero post coming on, but that will probably have to wait until next year.

Meanwhile, feel free to click on the “Christmas” tag to see my previous holiday offerings, and I’ll talk to you next week. Until then, Happy Holidays to one and all!

December 9, 2008

Looks like I’m a Good Critic; plus Joe Kubert and Sgt. Rock

Filed under: meta, sgt rock — Tom Bondurant @ 2:47 am
We got back last night from five days and four nights in Lexington, for a two-day seminar and an afternoon party so that our old Kentucky friends could see Olivia. Without going too much into it, I was technologically limited, so I spent those five days with a pretty minimal connection to the Internet. I also didn’t have an opportunity to see Thursday’s new comics until this morning, which meant that I couldn’t check about 80% of my Bloglines subscriptions until then (no spoilers!). That left me with some 400-odd comics-related posts to skim, read, or just check off.

Probably the nicest surprise — and I was surprised to be in such excellent company — was being included on plok/pillock’s “Critic’s Canon” list. That’s a pretty high standard of criticism, me excluded. It makes me think plok hasn’t read my Bottomless Belly Button review, which was hardly a model of the form.

Then again, I have never been good at accepting compliments. Thus, before I forget, thank you plok, thanks to the commenters who approved of my inclusion, and thanks to whatever silent majority/minority/plurality has similar feelings. If you like this stuff, who am I to argue?

* * *

In other news, I found Man Of Rock, Bill Schelly’s biography of Joe Kubert, to be a quick and entertaining read. There’s not much in the way of controversy. Kubert didn’t lead a “Behind The Music”-esque life of triumph, tragedy, and redemption; and neither, apparently, was his work exploited egregiously. For example, he was able to move his prehistoric hero Tor from one publisher to another without too many problems. Kubert’s disappointments, as MoR sees them, include such things as being replaced on Hawkman by Murphy Anderson, and failing to sustain newspaper strips for Tor and Tales of the Green Berets.

More numerous, naturally, are Kubert’s successes: Tor, Enemy Ace, Sgt. Rock, Tarzan, Fax From Sarajevo, and of course the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Man Of Rock argues, fairly successfully, that Joe Kubert was indispensable to the growth and development of modern mainstream comics; perhaps even on a par with Will Eisner or Jack Kirby. I don’t mean this to be quite as obtuse as it sounds; but I approached MoR from the perspective of Kubert as the consummate craftsman, and came away with an even greater appreciation of the man’s place in comics history.

* * *

Then, of course, I read Showcase Presents Sgt. Rock Volume 2, written entirely by Bob Kanigher with only a few non-Kubert stories. (It reprints Our Army At War nos. 118-148, May 1962-November 1964.) Last year, discussing Volume 1, the stories were, by and large, about object lessons taught by Rock to the men under his command. While this book contains several of those as well, after a while Kanigher and Kubert start telling stories about Rock himself, as well as building up a regular supporting cast (the by-now-familiar Bulldozer, Ice Cream Soldier, Wild Man, Sunny, and Little Sure Shot). There’s even a story narrated by our heroes’ weapons, which for me recalled the Spirit story of Rat-Tat, The Little Machine Gun.

It’s not all fun and games, to be sure: death seemed to come more readily to Easy’s men, and even a regular is both blinded and deafened (temporarily) by an exploding shell. Men of Rock mentioned that Kanigher and Kubert had to be careful about what they showed, but the sight of a makeshift tombstone — fashioned from a rifle and an empty helmet — is unmistakable. With regard to Volume 1, I thought that the stories were meant for grade-school kids, but lead-out captions for many of the stories in Volume 2 talk about Easy’s exploits being “aimed at your heart.” Apparently, readers of Our Army At War wouldn’t have been blamed for shedding manly tears (or “actin’ like we had cinders in our eyes,” in Rock-speak) at the end of an issue. Indeed, with this volume, Kanigher and Kubert seem to be settling into a nice groove.

The book ends on a two-part story from OAAW #s 147-48, which involves a deskbound general whose lack of combat glory has disappointed his two sons. Naturally, Rock ends up impersonating the general, and you can guess the rest. Although the story is driven by their sentiments, the general’s sons come across as unsympathetic (one’s eager for reflected glory; the other is passive-aggressive). The plot also has to contort itself in order to avoid a court-martial for Rock. Nevertheless, “Generals Don’t Die” is effective on its own terms, thanks mostly to Kanigher and Kubert’s concise,direct storytelling. The whole book is like that; and like its predecessor it’s highly recommended.

November 17, 2008

Get well soon, Carla and Lance

Filed under: meta — Tom Bondurant @ 11:39 pm
You’ve probably heard by now that my friend and colleague Carla Hoffman was badly burned, as was her husband Lance, while trying to escape the Southern California wildfires. They’ll probably be in the hospital for a while, and are expected to recover, but they’ve lost their house. Goodness knows I can’t imagine what they’ve been through.

I “met” Carla (in the online/email sense) when she joined Blog@Newsarama in the summer of 2006, but I didn’t meet her in person until the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. (Unfortunately, I haven’t met Lance.) If you think her blogging is energetic and passionate about comics, she moves about ten times as fast in real life. She is a real dynamo, and I can’t imagine her not in perpetual motion, let alone laid up for days or weeks.

Please help them out. I know I will. Donations may be made to

The Lance and Carla Burn Fund
Santa Barbara Bank and Trust
1483 East Valley Road
Montecito, CA 93108-1248

October 6, 2008

Another quick Green Lantern question

Filed under: justice league, meta — Tom Bondurant @ 12:38 am
Everyone remember the Justice League bookshelf?

Wouldn’t ‘cha know, the Green Lantern figure has suffered a career-ending knee injury, and I’ll be needing a new one.

However, thanks to the good folks at Mattel, I now have a choice. Do I replace the “Hard Traveling” Hal, thereby keeping that set of Hal/Ollie/Dinah intact; or do I go for the more articulated Mattel version? (If it makes a difference, I am planning to get a Mattel Aquaman as well at some point.) I don’t think availability is an issue, since I got both Ollie and Dinah off teh Ebay.

Thanks!

[EDIT] P.S. If you have any preference for a particular John Stewart figure, I’d love to hear it. (The Guy and Kyle figures may have to wait until a future League expansion.)

August 15, 2008

Harassment is harassment, even at Comic-Con.

Filed under: meta — Tom Bondurant @ 5:30 pm
John DiBello is a trusted friend of this blog. His disturbing acoount from this year’s Comic-Con is crossposted from his pal Bully’s site:

Overheard at San Diego Comic-Con while I was having lunch on the balcony of the Convention Center on Sunday July 27: a bunch of guys looking at the digital photos on the camera of another, while he narrated: “These were the Ghostbusters girls. That one, I grabbed her ass, ’cause I wanted to see what her reaction was.” This was only one example of several instances of harassment, stalking or assault that I saw at San Diego this time.

1. One of my friends was working at a con booth selling books. She was stalked by a man who came to her booth several times, pestering her to get together for a date that night. One of her co-workers chased him off the final time.

2. On Friday, just before the show closed, this same woman was closing up her tables when a group of four men came to her booth, started taking photographs of her, telling her she was the “prettiest girl at the con.” They they entered the booth, started hugging and kissing her and taking photographs of themselves doing so. She was confused and scared, but they left quickly after doing that.

3. Another friend of mine, a woman running her own booth: on Friday a man came to her booth and openly criticized her drawing ability and sense of design. Reports from others in the same section of the floor confirmed he’d targeted several women with the same sort of abuse and criticism.

Quite simply, this behavior has got to stop at Comic-Con. It should never be a sort of place where anyone, man or woman, feels unsafe or attacked either verbally or physically in any shape or form. There are those, sadly, who get off on this sort of behavior and assault, whether it’s to professional booth models, cosplayers or costumed women, or women who are just there to work. This is not acceptable behavior under any circumstance, no matter what you look like or how you’re dressed, whether you are in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit or business casual for running your booth.

On Saturday, the day after the second event I described above, I pulled out my convention book to investigate what you can do and who you can speak to after such an occurrence. On page two of the book there is a large grey box outlining “Convention Policies,” which contain rules against smoking, live animals, wheeled handcarts, recording at video presentations, drawing or aiming your replica weapon, and giving your badge to others. There is nothing about attendee-to-attendee personal behavior.

Page three of the book contains a “Where Is It?” guide to specific Comic-Con events and services. There’s no general information room or desk listed, nor is there a contact location for security, so I go to the Guest Relations Desk. I speak to a volunteer manning the desk; she’s sympathetic to the situation but who doesn’t have a clear answer to my question: “What’s Comic-Con’s policy and method of dealing with complaints about harassment?” She directs me to the nearest security guard, who is also sympathetic listening to my reports, but short of the women wanting to report the incidents with the names of their harassers, there’s little that can be done.

“I understand that,” I tell them both, “but what I’m asking is more hypothetical and informational: if there is a set Comic-Con policy on harassment and physical and verbal abuse on Con attendees and exhibitors, and if so, what’s the specific procedure by which someone should report it, and specifically where should they go?” But this wasn’t a question either could answer.

So, according to published con policy, there is no tolerance for smoking, drawn weapons, personal pages or selling bootleg videos on the floor, and these rules are written down in black and white in the con booklet. There is not a word in the written rules about harassment or the like. I would like to see something like “Comic-Con has zero tolerance for harassment or violence against any of our attendees or exhibitors. Please report instances to a security guard or the Con Office in room XXX.”

The first step to preventing such harassment is giving its victims the knowledge that they can safely and swiftly report such instances to someone in authority. Having no published guideline, and indeed being unable to give a clear answer to questions about it, gives harassment and violence one more rep-tape loophole to hide behind.

I enjoyed Comic-Con. I’m looking forward to coming back next year. So, in fact, are the two women whose experiences I’ve retold above. Aside from those instances, they had a good time at the show. But those instances of harassment shouldn’t have happened at all, and that they did under no clear-cut instructions about what to do sadly invites the continuation of such behavior, or even worse.

I don’t understand why there’s no such written policy about what is not tolerated and what to do when this happens. Is there anyone at Comic-Con able to explain this? Does a similar written policy exist in the booklets for other conventions (SF, comics or otherwise) that could be used as a model? Can it be adapted or adapted, and enforced, for Comic-Con? As the leading event of the comics and pop culture world, Comic-Con should work to make everyone who attends feel comfortable and safe.

There is no good reason why this kind of behavior is even remotely tolerated, and no excuse for Comic-Con not to take steps to address it. I’ve written sexual-harassment policies myself — trust me, they’re not rocket surgery. If my client had 125,000 attendees’ worth of harassment complaints, I’d want one too, and pronto. It might take a few billable hourse to write, but it’d take a potential plaintiff’s lawyer just a little longer to allege that Comic-Con’s management was liable, even in some small part, for a particular incident.

(sigh) Things like this make it just a little bit easier to stay home from San Diego, even if it means missing out on seeing friends like John.

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