Better Living Through Graphic Storytelling
A Comics Blog About Shit We Like
24 May 2007
30 Signs That You May Qualify as a Nerd

So after reading this, I came up with a few very painfully obvious indicators that you have begun heading down the inescapable path towards a nerd. Keep in mind that all of these things, save for one item, are ripped straight out of the pages of my own life.

  1. The majority of your CDs are Japanese importted OSTs.

  2. Your contribution to any conversation among friends following a viewing of the newest big-budget Hollywood super hero adaptation always starts with "See, in the comic book..."

  3. You still watch Smallville.

  4. You were a regular viewer of Veronic Mars, but had a crush on Mac instead of Veronica.

  5. Similarly, you were a regular viewer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but had a crush on Alison Hannigan instead of Sarah Michelle Geller.

  6. The most used tag used in your account is "comics".

  7. The most used tag used in your account is "manga".

  8. The fact that you even have a account.

  9. Attractive women/men making reference to Star Wars excites you sexually.

  10. Attractive women making reference to Star Trek is par for the course.

  11. You know what Go-Rangers are.

  12. You know who Captain Harlock is.

  13. You lay awake at night thinking about the differences between Macross & Robotech.

  14. You lay awake at night thinking about who would win in a fight - Hulk or the Thing.

  15. You lay awake at night thinking about who would win in a fight between Superman & Thor, but then quickly assuage your concern by reminding yourself that it doesn't matter since they exist in two separate universes.

  16. Your dream job is working in the Gundam super-store in Osaka, Japan.

  17. You know that next week's new comic book day is Thursday, not the usual Wednesday.

  18. The underwear you've been wearing for the past few days begins to smell like a Port Authority bathroom.

  19. You get emotional over thinking about Newsarama's lack of an RSS feed.

  20. You use the terms "pwn3d" or "IRL" regularly.

  21. In a moment of emotional & psychological weakness, you begin to think that Welcome to the NHK is actually an anime adaptation of your life story beamed into your television/computer from the far-off future.

  22. Your other car is a TARDIS.

  23. You have a sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/LOST blog.

  24. Your summer job throughout most of high school was working the rennaisance fair, and you "score chicks" by making Lord of the Rings references.

  25. You continually get into heated arguments with complete strangers because they don't understand that the Flash is the greatest super hero character of all time.

  26. You have at one time in your life compiled a list longer than 4 entries, of your favorite Flashes in descending order.

  27. You regularly use the Justice League track jacket you bought at the last comic convention as a conversation starter.

  28. You wish that the Justice League track jacket you bought at the last comic convention could actually get you laid.

  29. Any of the items on this list made you laugh out loud in that "It's funny because it's true!" kind of way.

  30. Shortly after laughing, any of the items on this list make you cry in that "It's sad because it's true..." kind of way.

This one goes out to you Mallet. I may not be white, and I may not be over-weight, but I'm still a complete nerd through-and-through. We stand united, brother.

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23 May 2007
Flash!!! Ah-aah! Savior of the Universe!! BAM BA-BAM BAM BAM!!

So (link via Blog@Newsarama) has an interview with Eric Johnson, star of the Sci-Fi network's new Flash Gordon series.

I particularly like this bit:

What’s the mode of transport here?

It’s the old wormhole. Flash’s father was a scientist who was developing the technology. I thought he was lost in a fire, but it turns out he was sucked through this wormhole that he created. So now after 13 years, something came back through, and that something is not so nice, and it’s looking for me.

Now, is it me, or does this sound like the premise for a new season of Doctor Who? I don't know. Maybe I'm just obsessed. But whenever I hear "...something came back through, and that something is not so nice, and it's looking for me," it just reminds me of this, this, and this.

Also, if you replace "wormhole" with "Zeta Beam", the young Flash Gordon all of a sudden sounds like a teenage Adam Strange.

Also Flash gets a T-Bird.

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22 May 2007
They Really Are Paying Attention!

Forbidden Planet (the best comic book/sci-fi blog in town - and by town I mean INTERNET) has an excellent post on Filipino cartoonist Gerry Alanguilan. Not only do they mention Alanguilan's excellent series Elmer, they give heavy props to the his work on "The Philippine Comics Art Museum" and Komikero, his excellent, excellent blog.

Gerry Alanguilan is one of those cartoonists that really knows his shit inside and out. He's flawless in his approach to craft (in terms of education and dedication of and towards the creative process), and he maintains an inspiring amount of reverence to some of the most talented, but overlooked cartooning masters to come out of his (and essentially my own) home country, the Philippines.

I've mentioned before (can't locate link...) that unlike most Filipino Americans my age, I don't speak nor can I read a lick of Tagalog. I started speaking and reading English at a fairly early age, and when it came time for me to attend pre-school, a lot of my teacher's were concerned because I kept confusing which words belonged to which language. Also, Tagalog is not my mother's native dialect, and it was easier for her (and my father who had to bear with her "mistakes") to communicate with me in pure English.

For this reason, I again petition the komikeros and the publishers to at least think about translating some of this stuff for U.S. distribution. I think both fans and publisher will be surprised by not only the quality of these works, but also the familiarity. As Alanguilan's Philippines Comics Museum is quick to point out, a lot of American comic work was being done by Filipino artists.

In the meantime, I will have to make due with re-reading my Siglo anthologies, and Alanguilan's excellent, excellent Elmer comic (currently only available here in the States through Independent Propaganda). Elmer is definitely in my top 10 favorite comics coming out right now, so do yourself a favor and check it out and check out the Komikero blog.

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More IMDB Inspired "Oh Shit!" Moments

I'm looking at more IMDB entries, this time for the cast of Lost, when I discover that Daniel Dae Kim (Jin) does the voice for Metron in the Justice League series. That totally blows my mind, since I think I remember shitting my pants when Metron made his appearance on the show.

Also Morena Baccarin from Firefly/Serenity and the upcoming Star Trek movie did the voice for Black Canary.

J.K. Simmons who has been in a whole bunch of notable stuff, but most importantly played J. Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman films, does the voice for General Eidling.

Eric Roberts, most recently of Heroes was Mongul.

And finally, Jeremy Pivens as the motherfucking Elongated Man?!?!?!

On another note, I was already aware of this (since, as you can see, I spend so much time wasted on the IMDB), but I thought it was mentionable since Gilmore Girls just ended its 7 year run on television this week. Scott Patterson (Luke) did the voice for King Faraday. His performance as Faraday was so spot on, it brought to mind the term "perfect casting".

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Tonio's Pull-list for 23 May 2007

Ok, looks like it's not a bad week for pamphlets. Last week saw the release of Ivan Brunetti's Misery Loves Comedy collection (Schizo #1-4 + way more), which may have been the best comic I've bought since NYComiCon (back in February). Also, Black Gas 2 #2 proved to be a surprisingly awesome read (more on that later). Most of the books I pulled last week were all pretty good, and this week looks to be equally as awesome.

Here's my upcoming pull-list for tomorrow (there's a bunch of other books I'm not bothering to buy right now, so they are excluded from the list):

  • Spirit #6
  • Madman Atomic Comics #2
  • Criminal #6
  • Newuniversal #6

I said what I have to say about Ed Brubaker in the last post, so I won't mention it again. Criminal is possibly one of the funnest monthly reads out there from a mainstream publisher (although I'm sure the creators involved will debate the usage of "mainstream" since this is part of Marvel's creator-owned-and-operated imprint), which proves that there is in fact an audience for mainstream books that don't involve fucking super heroes. I'm a little concerned with the tentative plot on this one, since it so closely follows the ending of the previous story arc, which was the weakest section of the story, but I maintain faith.

This is only the second issue of Mike Allred's newly relaunhed Madman series, and while the first issue proved an interesting read, it gave little indication of the direction or quality of issues to come. Still, it's fucking Madman! How can you go wrong with that?

newuniversal is hands down, the best sci-fi comic book series being put out right now, from any publisher. Do yourself a favor and read the damn book. You won't be sorry. Even if Kenneth Connell/Star Brand looks more and more like Josh Holloway with each issue.

Marvel Solicits for August 2007

Ok, so following up Eli's post about Marvel's new pro-tentacle porn stance, here are three quick thoughts on Marvel's solicitations (I'm not even touching the Captain America cover, because I still maintain that Brubaker is the Jay-Z of the spandex set, right now).

Ok, is it me or do all the covers for World War Hulk make the "event" just look flat-out retarded. Be that as it may, these covers look more intriguing than any cover that's come out from Marvel in the past year or so. I mean, the Hulk can take down Blackbolt? What the hell is that about?

New Fucking Thor!

This new book by David Lapham, Terror, Inc., looks as equally as "innovative" as World War Hulk, but, judging from this cover, will be worth it because it appeals to my worst childhood obsessions - futuristic weaponry, rotting corpse as anti-hero. Plus, David Lapham, not writing an continuity heavy, tie-in book? Sign me the fuck up!

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complaints 2.
tonio asked me to blog more. so, continuing the longest theme around these parts, what the fuck is up with this?

i hate to point out an artist's failings, but since when is misty knight a miami beach white woman?

oh, and also, impending rape, especially of the fucked up alien kind, isn't sexy. you're disgusting.
19 May 2007

Apparently, the US manga market is doing so well that Tokyopop doesn't feel the need to conform to Western Societies quirks:


Apparently, Del Rey and Viz don't seem to have this problem. They would actually like their books to be catalogged and put in libraries & such. I guess at this rate, the libraries don't really have a choice, but c'mon! Help a brother out.

P.S. I hate your logo!

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18 May 2007
The IMDB just brain-pwn3d me!!

Those of you who knew me, know that I have a tendency to become momentarily fixated on things. Some people call them "obsessions". I don't like to refer to them as such, simply because the word "obsession" insinuates that these fixations last over an extended period of time. "Momentary fixation" or "momentary infatuation" tends to sum up my condition the most appropriately.

Around the years 2003/2004 (the year Eli and I shared a house) I have quite a few fixations that my roommates were more than well aware of. The two most prominent, aside from my daily experiments in finding new ways to ingest Ramen, were David Cronenberg's 1981 film Scanners and the Timmverse Justice League cartoon. I had even brought along VHS tapes I had painstakingly editted, of redesigned Batman: TAS episodes not yet available on DVD (you think that's nerdy, you should have seen the VHS "best-of mix" I made for Eli the following year).

Little did I realize at the time, however, that three years after the fact those to specific fixations would collide into a frenzy of... Oh fuck it.

Michael "Daniel Revick" Ironside (pictured left) did the voice work for "80s Batman" in the amazing "Legends of the Dark Knight" episode. For those unfamiliar with the episode, the basic premise is that three children recant vastly different interpretations of the "mythylogical" Batman. One being based on the Batman of the 60s, the other being based on the "grim-'n-gritty" Batman of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returs, and the other just being a boring old shadow monster with pointy ears & fangs. Most notable about this episode, other than the fact that Ironside's Batman is so amazingly dead-on, is the barely obscured back hand directed towards Batman Forever/Batman & Robin director Joel Schumacher.

Even more amazing than this particular tidbit, was the fact that Revick...I mean, Ironside also did the voice for Darkseid in the final seasons of the Timmverse Superman, Justice League, and of course Justice League Unlimited. This of course explains why every time I watch the series finale, my nose bleeds a little.

Ironside seems like quite the accomplished thespian. Of course, by "accomplished thespian" I mean NERD. This in no way is meant to invalidate his career. In fact, I had no idea he had bit parts in some of my favorite childhood films, like Top Gun, Highlander II, and The Next Karate Kid - which was the film debut of another giant set of teeth, I mean thespian, Hilary Swank. Also, Ironside was in V. You can't beat that.

Right now it looks as if I may have to print out this IMDB entry and just hit up the local video store, making a weekend of it.

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16 May 2007
Today's Releases
Correct me if I'm wrong but, are two of the most delayed mainstream comic books coming out on the same day:


OCT062127 ULTIMATES 2 #13 $3.99

I think my mind has now just been blown. I thought I'd be dead by the time those books came out.

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14 May 2007

NOTE: This post only has a passing relation to comics, but I felt that some of the issues I discuss are particularly relevant to a lot of the problems I have with mainstream comics today.

See, this is what happens when I can't get my weekly Doctor fix: I watch sci-fi television series I have no particular interest in.

Finished watching Torchwood on Saturday. It's link to the Doctor Whoverse, and its standing as an official spin-off are somewhat perfunctory. Sure we have the appearance of a Cyber(wo)man, but a Cyber(wo)man whose appearance and behavior in no way resembles what we are used to seeing in Doctor Who. Sure the TARDIS makes a sort-of appearance or at least is alluded to at the very end of the series finale, after Captain Jack makes the first mention of the Doctor in the entire series. Other than that it just appears to be another mediocre sci-fi team drama.

That was mean, wasn't it? I mean, I do really like some of the characters. Of course, none of the characters that I'm supposed to love or simply be enamored with. I have such a contentious relationship with Captain Jack at this point that I can't decide whether I want to kiss him (which he would love) or if I want to punch him (which I'm sure he would also love in some sick/twisted way). I do, however, love Ianto & Toshiko. I can barely stand anyone else on the team at this point. Even if Owen did have a good performance during the whole Weevil/Fight Club thing.

My main problem with the show seems to be its fixation with "love" sex. Not that there's anything wrong with a person being obsessed with that, I suppose.

Character "depth" comes in the form of an episode-long romance doomed to end tragically before the 50 minute mark. If the experience of said romance was particularly effecting, then that plot thread will continue into the next few episodes, only to be exploited on an explosive level in the season finale.

I had it pegged from episode three.

Over at the Journalista blog Dirk Deppy gave a perfect dissection of the state of current mainstream super hero comics [specifically pertaining to this image]:

"…isn’t that it’s misogynist, but that it’s fucking ridiculous. This looks like sexual-fetish material, sure, but it would have exactly the same weird-ass vibe if both of the depicted characters were men. This image isn’t “sexist,” it’s emotionally stunted. Wrapped in the garb of teenage fantasy, it cannot help but take on an air of unreality that no infusion of sex or violence will dispel. Sixty years of accumulated kiddybook clichés won’t suddenly become adult reading material if you add lesbian relationships, hardcore gore or extended scenes of chartered accountancy; the latter only throw spotlights on the childishness of the former."

Oddly enough, this tends to address almost all of my issues with Torchwood and a lot of genre fiction coming out these days in mainstream media outlets.

This leads me to another point.

For almost a year now, I've had to listen to some of my closest friends colleagues sing the praises of Battlestar Galactica, to the point that I am now morally obligated, as a fan of science fiction, to catch up on the entire series. It's not that I haven't given the show a chance, it just honestly doesn't interest me that much.

That's right. I said it. I don't care about BSG.

I really don't.

The problem with shows like Torchwood and BSG, and subsequently most mainstream super hero comics, is that in spite of sci-fi and comics being treated as a cultural ghetto, these stories are trying desperately to tap into a cultural vein that allows more "mature" stories to be told within their respective genres. But as most intelligent comic fans know at this point, blood, guts, and sex do not a mature story make. I mean, any adolescent with a word processor can produce a work of fiction that contains "mature" elements like violence and sex, but that doesn't make it any better than the story they wrote when they were eight, that lacked those things.

Torchwood does not make sense to me as "Doctor Who for adults" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets the X-Files". Likewise, BSG doesn't make sense to me as "The West Wing in space", because with each of these shows maintained/maintains an identity wholly unto itself. Doctor Who doesn't try to emulate anything other than Doctor Who. X-Files never claimed to be anything more than X-Files. These stories were strong enough to stand on their own without comparison and without contrast. I honestly don't believe that Torchwood proves itself to be a good enough work of fiction to do that. BSG's standing as a piece of fiction in this regard, after three seasons, is arguable.

It doesn't make sense to me that someone would write a novel or a short story, in hopes of being as good as or comparable to something else. That's just not how the creative process works.; Sure, there's the Picasso line about how "all artists borrow", but that's something entirely different. That's about the transference of inspiration, of ideas. If you set your sights to emulate a specific work of fiction, when your work reaches that level, but never manages to rise above that or become something wholly new and exciting, you have no one to blame but yourself.

You can't make "Buffy meets the X-Files" into a sustainable series. At a certain point, your story is going to have to grow wings of its own and be able to carry itself on its own merits. You can't emulate a show like The West Wing, but have your show set in space or under the sea or on a zepplin, and expect it to be any good. The West Wing operates on completely different rules than BSG.

Emulating a piece of fiction that is important, doesn't make your piece of fiction important by association. All it does is make your work momentarily relevant. There's nothing wrong with that, but it will certainly not go down in the history books as even a footnote. Your work can only be encompassed in the cultural dialog if you offer something new and noteworthy to say. It doesn't how clever you spin someone else's ideas, because at the end of the day, there still somebody else's ideas.

12 May 2007
Green Arrow #74

Ok, I may be forced to take back all the mean things I said about the way in which DC has been handling the whole One Year Later if all their books contained scenes like this:


I know Eli's going to make fun of me for this, but I cried when I read that page. Is that so wrong to ask? Just a few moments that pack a ton of emotional wallop into 8 panels? Is that so hard for you DC? Is it too much to ask?

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Countdown #51

I really really hope that DC's new maxi-series, Countdown, can sustain its own weight. In many ways its predecessor, 52, was almost Homeric in tone, detailing the journey of the DCU over the "lost" year. Unfortunately though, a Homeric epic doesn't quite work without the presence of the Divine. Sure in 52 there was plenty of mysticism, but very rarely did we see any real characters that encompassed that level of godly power. Essentially it was quiet coming-of-age story. You can jam pack with all the chaos and craziness you want, but plastering "World War III" on the cover four comic books doesn't automatically give it emotional impact

Countdown could have the very same problem of faltering under its own weight. 52 issues of a comic gives you plenty of room for a story to degenerate into something unrecognizable. I think 52's biggest problem was its constant need to adhere to the concept of "real time". Countdown, in its first issue, has already freed itself from this, by presenting a very brief moment in time. It doesn't jump in time in space the way 52's first issue did, in an attempt to display the "grand" scope of itself. If Paul Dini continues to do his job right, this story will be aware of its own portentousness, but won't need to use it's self-awareness as a crutch.

Already, in issue #51, its proven itself capable of the kind of pacing required in a epic. The ending of 52 left so many DC fans with low expectations, regardless of the DC/Warner Bros. hype machine's efforts. Lower expectations makes the task of telling an epic story that much easier. With 52 and Infinite Crisis, we were constantly too aware of how large the story was supposed to be. With Countdown we are slightly less aware. Countdown is not about defining or redefining the DCU. It's simply a story set in the DCU. It's the same reason that Identity Crisis and Countdown to Infinite Crisis was far more powerful and effective than the Infinite Crisis mini-series itself.

Hopefully Countdown can keep the work up. This first issue, along with the three big reveals, contains some damn solid writing on the part of Dini, as well as maybe the first comic where I actually enjoyed looking at Jesus Saiz's art. I'm excited to see what Sean McKeever will be doing with the story. I wasn't too impressed with his work with World War III, but I am a huge fan of his Spiderman Loves Mary Jane work, so I have faith that when presented with a better story, he can really produce.

Right now, it's obviously way too early to tell how well Countdown is going to work as a story, but taking into account only the first issue, I'd have to say I'm pretty curious/excited to see what is going to come out next.

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06 May 2007
Spiderman 3 is your best friend's ugly girlfriend

We arrived at the theatre at 9:00 PM. The 9:30 & 10:00 screenings had both been sold out. The line for the 10:30 screening had already begun to form at the oppostie end of the multiplex.

I arrived in NJ around 5PM. Shortly after my mother and her friend picked me up from the train station, our car got hit and I almost got into a fist fight with and angry cyclist (he was not the one who hit our car). I don't think I've been in a proper fist fight since high school, and those barely count because I stopped caring about winning a fight after my sophomore year. It was easier to just take the beatings, and after that nobody bothered. This guy didn't take a swing, like I told him he couldn't, in spite of me making fun of his outfit and sticking my middle finger in his face. I don't condone violent interaction. Not even yelling or screaming. But you don't fuck with my moms. Seriously.

Shortly after the altercation I met up with my dad and he drove me to the store to pick out a funeral-suit. The guy at the store had a Russian accent and was a little too "hands on" for my tastes. It's hard enough finding a t-shirt that I feel comfortable in. Try finding a $200 suit. I stopped trying them on after the third suit, for fear that the Russian salesman would continue to find excuses to put his hands in my groin area.

There was a story in the NY Times' Arts & Leisure section about Philip K. Dick. The writer was smug and dismissive, in spite of trying really hard to write a puff-piece. The words "pulp" were used frequently. Not always favoreably either. He made fun of hard core fans a lot. He compared Dick to Emerson. I don't think he got it.

It was nice to see Will and Josh. Josh was already in a pissy mood to begin with. He just got back from visiting his sick girlfriend in the hospital, and he was not pleased about having to go to work on a Sunday. When Josh is down, he has a tendency to bring those around him down with him. It's a talent he has. He just sits there quietly, checking the time on his cell phone every other minute, and starts his sentences with "Errrreah..." and ends them with "...but whatever, man. It's not up to me." That made the whole ride to the movie theatre pleasant.

Apparently my home town movie theatre - the one all my friends worked at - had now become overridden with "creeps". There were cops and rowdy teenagers everywhere. I told them to go to Times Square on any Saturday night. It made me sound like a pretentious New Yorker, which is funny because every time I open my mouth in NY I sound like a scummy kid from New Jersey. Will insisted on going to the giant multi-plex on route 1.

When we finally got into the theatre it was a half hour before they began showing previews. It then took them another half hour to project anything on the movie screen with any consistency. I saw snippets of the new Lindsay Lohan movie god knows how many times, with the sound dropping out here, the image dropping out there. Josh checked the time.

Spiderman 3 was such a messy hodgepodge of one CGI fight scene after another. It would've been more fun to look at if I had remembered to bring drugs. But I didn't, so I had to sit there for nearly three hours watching CGI fight scenes interspersed with Tobey McGuire's awful "I'm crying!" face. It seriously could have been cut down to a single hour-and-a-half fight scene and everyone in the theatre would have walked away with essentially the same experience.

The movie was so over-crammed with multiple plot lines competing with each other for screen time that they only were able to squeeze in one truly great J. Jonah Jameson moment. It felt like someone had editted together all the important parts of a television series. Like the beginning of Veronica Mars when the say "Previously on Veronica Mars: 'Duncan Kane - he was my boyfriend. That is until his sister Lilly, my best friend, was murdered. My dad went after the Kane family. They destroyed him, and my mother couldn't take it anymore. She left us 6 months ago." Imagine watching that for three hours.

The best parts of the movie dealt with Flint Marko/Sandman. More so than any of the actual superhero action, these scenes looked to have been ripped out of the pages of some weird 60s EC comic. It looked brilliant. Had Raimi been trying to make a good film, instead of a Hollywood blockbuster that specialized in fanboy handjobs, he would have made the entire movie look like the scenes featuring the Sandman.

And is it me or has Kirsten Dunst actually become a worse actress? Previously, her acting, at best, ranged from Vacant to Ethereal. In Spiderman 3 she simply became ignorable. You almost don't want Spiderman to save her. I did like the outfits she wore. They were all metropolitan class. It was a signifier that she had moved up in the world. Just like comic books. Did you know that they're not just for kids anymore?

All of this is evident in the use of a metaphor similar to someone trying to bash your head in with a rubber mallet. Annoying and ultimately futile. Anger, rage, and resentment can destroy who you are. Really. Spiderman 3 told me so. Also, subcumming to your rage will make you a way better dancer. Really. Spiderman 3 told me so. Like five times. And then there was the CGI fight scene to end all CGI fight scenes. At least until Shrek the Third comes to theatres.

Gwen Stacy? Oh, yeah. That was that "fanboy handjob" I was talking about. She proved to be completely expendable. Just like Theresa Russel's appearance as Felicia Hardy. She wasn't even referred to by her first name, and I was very tempted to yell out "Art Garfunkel had sex with your bloated corpse!!" when she stepped on screen. Oh and James Franco is only sexy when he smiles. Otherwise he just looks funny.

Maybe I'll watch the movie again on DVD and see how it stands up when I'm not in such a terrible mood.

I doubt it'll be much better, but I might be more forgiving.

Sam Raimi doesn't need to make any more movies like this. He's proven himself too good for that. He needs to stop dating down.

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04 May 2007
"Passion that Sometimes Comes with a Death Threat"
I suppose it's better than passion that sometimes comes with a Death Note?

Avi Arad is interviewed over at Wired Magazine about this weekend's Spiderman 3 opening.

I will not be checking it out here in NY. Instead, I am going to go back to NJ, round up some old comic book loving high school buddies, and we're all going to go together.

Fun times.

I will post some thoughts some time tomorrow night.

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02 May 2007
Life After Death

Are there any more zombie-genre stories left to tell? The medium of comics has recently been over-saturated with generic zombie story, after generic zombie story, culminating in Marvel's Marvel Zombies. At this point, everyone seems to be sick of them, but are we sick of zombie stories, or is there anything left out there that could possibly breathe life into this seemingly (un)dead sub-genre.

Granted, there are a few good zombie books being put out right now. The drama-level of Robert Kirkman's Romero-worshipping The Walking Dead

remains consistent, but about half-way through the series, it lost it's moral footing. The gray areas became too gray. The character flaws have come to define the characters, rather than simply flesh them out. It has degenerated from a book that featured zombies, to a book that is about zombies.

Arguably, none of George Romero's classic zombie films have ever really been about zombies, just like no science-fiction story set in the future is really about the future. The zombies were more scenery than anything. The created an environment in which specific social issues could be tackled. That is why, unlike a long-form ongoing comic book series, they only last two hours. To extend the story beyond that would be hitting your audience over the head with a hammer. But without moral conviction, Romero inspired zombie stories have virtually nothing to offer us.

On the other hand, European styled zombie stories (a la Zeder or Zombi) have certain aesthetic strengths that their American cousins are lacking in. Warren Ellis' Black Gas mini-series has been a perfect example of this aesthetic translated to the printed comic page. The moral footing of these kinds of stories is a bit shakier, boiling down to 'everyone's a fucker', which Ellis pulls off perfectly (again). The biggest difference, however, is in its attention to the aesthetics of horror. Euro-zombie stories are supposed to be genuinely scary and/or creepy. You'd think that this kind of storytelling would prove so effortless for cartooning, since you essentially can create any mood or atmosphere that you desire without having to expand a SFX budget.

At the end of the day, however, the problem is not zombies, but too strong a focus on zombies. Even Black Gas seems to have the problem of pacing a story along with featuring enough zombie eating flesh moments on top of that. The most exciting of zombie stories prove that.

Jason's The Living and the Dead, and Brain Ralph's post-zombie-apocalypse story Daybreak, are fresh new zombie stories that work. Both stories use the zombies as little more than window-dressing, giving the narrative a bit of an extra 'umph', but are capable of standing on their own. If only there were more people willing to tell stories (zombie or not) like these two, I would be buying a lot more comics right now.

What we love about zombie movies is the zombies themselves, but unfortunately that is hardly ever what makes a movie worth watching or a comic worth reading. The zombie is a trope that works because it can easily be connected with various other tropes of almost any genre within fantastic/speculative fiction.

So to answer my question, there are more zombie stories out there to tell, but nobody seems to be imaginative or clever enough to come up with them. Until then, the genre will remain another ghetto the comics medium has tried to cash-in on and destroyed in the process. It will take an unbelievable amount of talent and craft to ressurect zombie fiction.

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01 May 2007
Fangirl Link for Today
I'm sure there are more out there, but Karma Girl author Jennifer Estep talks about her new superheroine book and other women's issues in terms of popular superhero fiction.

Some good questions are asked, and some good answers are given. Generally speaking, it's nice to see a non-comics reading woman discussing the issues of genre fiction. It just goes to show that there is a female audience out there for superheroine franchises, if this wasn't the crap they were trying to shill.

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New trailer for Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Everyone on the internet is pretty much raving about how good it makes the movie look. Personally, not having seen the movie, I can assume it's still crap. I'd rather watch the old Silver Surfer cartoon if I'm going to watch anything having to do with 'ol chrome dome.

(Yes, I did just use "'ol")

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