Two of my favorite comic creators, Ryan North and David Maliki have defeated Glenn Beck in Amazonian combat. Their book being number one on Amazon and not his pissed off the Paranoia Artist to the point that he attacked the book. This included the hilariously egocentric statement that his books are always #1. Man, if that guy ever falls off the map, he’s gonna fall hard. What I love about this is that it basically casts Beck in the role he usually assigns to the Dems, complaining that a media insurgent with no gravitas is spewing about stuff that has a negative impact on society. North and Maliki are in the Beck role of making money just because the bigger entity has taken the time to attack. This is not to say that I think North and Maliki are crazy like Beck, just that they’ve turned the tables on him.

Transcript of the Beck stuff from the Machine of Death website: Sound and Fury

Scarygoround

September 11th, 2009

There are a handful of webcomics that I have been reading for years. Some of them I have read since their inception. I started reading Scary Go Round when its author stopped writing Bobbins. He stopped writing Scary Go Round today. It’s worth checking out though, all seven and a half years of it. And there’s doubtless going to be something great coming in a few weeks, as he’s just on to new and better things. If you have the time to start from the beginning I recommend it, and webcomics being what they are, I also recommend tossing in for a shirt or something to help him keep going, if you like it. Generally webcomic t-shirts can be hit and miss, and often rely on in jokes that non-readers won’t get. John Allison, the author, generally scores more hits than misses with his merchandise. Though it is too late to get the ghost band, or the panda chasing beer, (two favorites of mine, which I won’t bother to explain because I’m lazy) you can still get Bears Will Eat You and several others. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that crass commercialization out of the way (Can you sell out to an independent artist?) it is back to reading about income tax.

Watchmen

March 9th, 2009

Well that was a bit of a disappointment. It isn’t a completely bad film. It has its moments. Still, I always find it interesting to see what happens when Hollywood gets a hold of a script. It was visible even in Watchmen, where the story was that the director had been given almost total control. One cannot help but think that it would have been better to try to convince Alan Moore to come in and give him total veto power, but that is just speculation. Moore probably wouldn’t have done it anyway.

What really interests me about movies is the way that they change certain rules about how you provide information. There is an old adage that if you introduce a gun in the first act, you have to use it before the third. Watchmen (the movie) seemed to operate under the assumption that if you didn’t introduce the gun in the first act, it couldn’t be used at all. Additionally, if you didn’t remind people of the gun’s possible existence five minutes before it was used, they would be too stupid to realize what had happened.

Alan Moore trusted his readers. If something happened, it happened for a reason, but he didn’t telegraph it by saying “this thing is going to happen for a reason in a little bit.” I don’t know why they felt the need to work it that way in the film.

As for the rest of it, the casting was great, the special effects were great (with the exception of the age makeup, which was hit and miss), and the dialog from the comic was usually delivered well. The dialog written to replace dialog from the comic? That was another story. The pivotal argument on Mars was altered greatly, and in such a way as to render it a sappy piece of crap. I’d give the film a C+ and if I hadn’t read the book… maybe a B-.

Changes clearly had to be made to adapt this to the screen, but as in seemingly all the adaptations that have disappointed me over the years, it was the small changes that I felt were pointless, and not the large ones made to fit the plot into two and a half hours, that really frustrated. As an example, there was a scene in which Rorschach kills a man for crimes that I won’t go into. In the book, he insures the man burns to death, a grim fate that the comic does not gloss over or sugar coat in an attempt to make Rorschach seem less warped. In the movie, he chops the man’s skull up with a cleaver. This nets no additional horror in the grand scheme of the man’s fate, or the question the view asks about the presence of, or lack of, justice in the world, or in Rorschach. What it does is allow the director to put more blood spatters in the movie. In the comic the cleaver is used on two dogs that had been fed a corpse. Now, the argument for the director is that this saved him visual time, and that he included a verbal homage to the dogs in Rorschach’s dialog, but it rings hollow to me because he played the cleaver scene out so long that he didn’t really save time.

Also? Worst soundtrack I can think of. I can’t think of another that even comes close to being as intrusive and disruptive to the overall efforts of the narrative.

And as a small final note, the the ‘heroes’ in Watchmen, save one, are without super powers, but the director seemed to want to give them powers, as they did an awful lot of punching through brick and such in the movie.

Happy Holidays

December 29th, 2008

One last thing before I quit for the night (making up for the fact that I said I promised myself to post once a day for a while, and then refused to pay for airport wifi).

During the semester I try to cut down on the rss feed. Some comics come off from time to time, but one that would never get cut is Pictures for Sad Children. The linked comic is indicative of the comic as a whole, and whenever the world is getting me down, I take solace in the fact that this guy is making something good out of all of this. He has also nailed phone support to the wall.

minus

July 11th, 2008

I thought that I would take a moment to point people in the direction of minus which is a web comic that recently ended. The fact that it ended is bittersweet, because it means that there will be no new strips, but it also means that people can, in relatively short order, read through the entire archives. The comic is beautiful but with fairly frequent cruel tinges. The main character has almost limitless power, and being a small child often uses that power in ways that an adult would not consider proper. This sometimes leads to the suffering of others. I like that the artist was willing to go there. Childhood is often cruel. The comic gives me a sort of misty nostalgia for my childhood and the belief in the imagination that goes hand in hand with that time. If there wasn’t the cruelty, things might come off saccharine.

I feel I should also mention…

February 7th, 2008

Buttercup Festival is back. Despite the fact that this has been a very good week, this is some of the best news I’ve had in ages. Seriously. This is one of the all time greats in my book, back after three years. I could cry. If any of you didn’t read it back in the day, and wonder what it’s about, think xkcd for lit geeks and discordians. I just cannot tell you how happy I am about this.

Go, be a scooter commuter.

And now back to the faintly offensive, but readable tinge of Agatha Christie’s xenophobic mysteries…

Comics, More Comics

April 11th, 2007

I read two more collections of Fables since I last posted. Those were great. Maybe the most impressive thing, at least over the course of the first six collections, is that the author manages to reveal the plot without disappointing me. I’m one of those readers who generally prefers the mystery.

In the sixth collection of Fables, the identity of “The Adversary” who drove the fables from their ancestral homes is revealed. Instead of the letdown I thought it would be, my response was “Ah, well, that opens some interesting possibilities.”

Contrast this with Powers, of which four volumes were left at work on a slow night. I read all four while I was there, and was left with a sort of ‘huh’ feeling. It’s not that they were bad, but they were only just interesting enough to keep me going. No more, no less.

Powers is the story of two detectives. In a world where more than a few people have superpowers, these detectives work on super hero homicides. Of course, much like the heroes they work with, they have secrets they would rather not reveal. In the first collection, one of the detectives complains that they’ve got nothing after two days, and I couldn’t help thinking that there was shockingly little procedure in this otherwise standard police procedural. At times I felt like I could hear the writer screaming “PLOT!” as things happened. By volume four, so much has happened I feel like I’ve read six or seven volumes. There’s no real time for the characters to have personalities. They are… impressively broadly drawn.

Which brings up the fact that Powers started as an Image imprint, so for at least the first four volumes suffers from the tradition Image comic “Women With Titanium Spines” syndrome or WITS. At least in powers the women seem to have been drawn to imply that they had implants rather than to pretend that all women with 28 inch waists have DDD sized breasts. Can someone who’s been reading more comics than I do help me out here? Does this problem still persist? I mean, seriously, even as adolescent male fantasy it’s a bit out of control.

It’s an interesting take on the superhero genre, but I’d suggest borrowing it. Of course, if you read comics, you’ve probably come to this conclusion already, as Powers started publication in 2000.

Quick Link

March 21st, 2007

Just a quick little thing here.

Boing Boing had a link for a cartoon from the new This American Life TV show. It’s by Chris Ware, and it’s fantastic.

Spider WHAT?

February 12th, 2007

Did you love Spiderman as a kid? Scroll down this link for what I can honestly say is the last plot point I EVER thought anyone would ever use. Warning link mentions spider spooj, so will this post.

In a way, this article speaks to the dangers of comic books. It’s not just that the form has been a ghetto for writers over the years. There have been plenty of good story tellers who have, unfairly or not, gone largely unrecognized because they work with comics.

But many of these series continue long after the creator has moved on. The flagship characters often appear in multiple books per month, month after month. That has to create plot fatigue, even in a genre almost perfectly designed to only deliver tiny nuggets of narrative each month. You can only go back to the well so many times. It might be time to consider that the well has run dry, even if only for a short while, and begin printing reruns for kids who never had a chance to experience Spiderman from the beginning. There’s no shame in that. Let the character sit a bit. Let the old classic books bring in new fans. The themes of Spiderman aren’t going away, even if we live in a higher tech society. When you’re ready, when you have some great ideas that you just can’t wait to use, bring it back and make it new.

How do you know when that time comes?

WHEN SPIDERMAN’S SPERM KILLS MARY JANE!

That is my new baseline definition of “I have nothing to say, but I’m saying it anyway.” It is the white noise of comic book narrative. I choose to believe that it has not happened. I do not want to think about Spiderman’s man goo, and someone at Marvel needs to get laid if they thought this was a good idea.

George Lucas is engaged in a little fan service right now. He’s sent a cease and desist to R Stevens of Diesel Sweeties.

Three T-shirts are named in the letter (yet not the robot evolution one, which is odd). The art is heavily pixelated in two of them, but there’s no text, which might make it hard to get it through as satire or parody. Then again, at least one of those two shirts barely looks like what Lucasarts says it does. It seems that they have the copyright on two curves and a circle, when joined by two dots? Come on. Chewie is My Co-Pilot is also easy to defend, as it’s clearly satire, a defense that has repeatedly held up in court.

Sadly R Stevens is but a maker of comics, and will likely not have the money to fight this. For what is likely a limited time, you can buy a three pack of the shirts and celebrate a right that copyright law, and the occasional large bank account, is rapidly stripping.

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