Neilalien : A Doctor Strange Fansite : A Comic Book Weblog  

Marvel and DC co-own the term "superhero" [Newsarama]

Dissolving Comics' Boundaries [Comixpedia] [by Neil Cohn]

Both the above links were found on a visit to Artblog.

Why 'Pamphlets' Won't Die [Torsten Adair of Barnes and Noble on ICv2]

Marvel sues Sony over Men In Black loot [Newsarama]

Luscious Tubers: Sexuality and Swamp Thing [Ninth Art]

Reminder: Upcoming McSweeney's Issue 13 is all comics, edited by Chris Ware [get a four-issue subscription at McSweeney's Store] [link via Danger Blog!]

Preview of Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #1 [Newsarama]

Posted 30 January 02004 - Permalink

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Does your soul burn with unanswered questions?

Do you seek the truth most profound?

Ask The Mysterious Orb


Posted 29 January 02004 - Permalink

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Marvel April Solicits [Comics Continuum]
Dr. Strange appears in She-Hulk #2. Oh man, Neilalien's not going to be happy to have to buy that. On the plus side, the trade paperback listings include Essential Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2, which reprints a classic Dr. Strange/Dracula crossover/confrontation.

Howard Chaykin's American Flagg! to be collected [Newsarama]

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Thoughts on genre-specific fandom: Why do hardcore superhero fans only buy superhero comics, and not expand their horizons and try other kinds of comics? [Ed Cunard asks in his Subsurface Communications column on Comic World News; via Grotesque Anatomy with a great comment thread of responses]

Updated: Be sure to read the comment thread at the above GA post (and more here)- tons of interesting angles and ideas discussed: people don't care/think of the comics medium just like they don't think of television as a medium, "if you want another genre, it's well-served by other mediums", people don't thumb through Previews or know a lot of books even exist, the Harlequin-romance-reader analogy, inertia and comfort with the familiar, TCJ attitude, etc.

Well, guess if you phrase the question the way Neilalien just did above, the answer is obvious. They are acting like hardcore fans of something.

Maybe it's that so much has happened to comics on a "meta" level- the Comics Code, the Direct Market, virtually zero marketing or outreach of any kind of comic to new people, etc.- that the micro-population of near-mono-genre-lithic superhero fans is almost all that's left right now, and they're simply buying what they like and ignoring what they don't. They're under no obligation to do otherwise (sure, it would be so awesome and "activist" if they could be the backbone/foundation of a more diverse medium), and it's not their fault the powers-that-be don't put out, advertise, and build markets for other kinds of comics. "If only superhero readers would buy something else (shaking fist)! This intrepid reporter will peer into their feeble minds and find out why they won't!" Neilalien just doesn't see the value in questions like Cunard's (not being snarky here either)- it sounds like an attempt to grok why hyper-fans of stamp collecting don't collect coins too. If one wants a larger readership for Baraka and Black Magic in Morocco, challenging the superhero enjoyer to check it out (just by default because they are already familiar with the medium, its language, the layout of the shop, etc.?) doesn't seem like the answer. Markets for non-superhero comics need to be rebuilt from outside the happy and fully-serviced superhero comic market. The real question here isn't, "How can we get hardcore Red Sox fans to buy Yankees jerseys? Why do they only buy Red Sox jerseys?", but "How can we get Direct Market comics shops that sell all jerseys of all teams, and happily and fully service the fans of all teams, and not just slowly go out of business selling only Red Sox jerseys?"

Please see Neilalien's On Blaming The Direct Market Superhero Customer for more on this.

Update: If you are visiting this post from Alan David Doane's interview with Dirk Deppey, then you are invited to read Neilalien's Response To The Journalista Interview and On Blaming The Direct Market Superhero Customer, and clearly see that Neilalien has not stupidly "expounded upon the theory that comics shops were for superheroes, while bookstores are for everything else" and asked that the Direct Market comic shops and current comicdom happily accept dying off in a superhero-only situation- but rather, he's pointing out the futility of trying to prevent said die-off by trying to get superhero-only readers to buy something else instead of trying to bring in new non-superhero-reading blood.

Posted 28 January 02004 - Permalink

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Attentiondeficitdisorderly needs Team Comix help

Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work [via Artblog]

Watchmen is about the Cold War, not 'superheroes in the real world'; the superhero story is 'the literature of ethics' [Unqualified Offerings; via Grotesque Anatomy]

The core question of the superhero story might be phrased as What do we owe other people? The problem is that comics have typically answered the question before they've barely asked it: "With great power must come great responsibility!" Really? Are you sure about that? And how much is "great," anyway? What part of my life can I keep back for myself?

Horrified emotion on character's face confirmed by "No no no! This is awful!" thought balloon [JLA #94's weaker narrative devices discussed at Thought Balloons]

The latest good 'define a superhero' discussion [Comic Book Resources MB via Worlds Within Worlds]

Ed Brubaker answers Five Alan David Doane Questions, with one about the comic book industry:

I'd cancel three quarters of the mainstream superhero books and publish a lot of different genres like the publishers did in the 50s when superhero comics stopped selling. I think we're just slicing the pie into more pieces every year, and while there are some good superhero books out there, there's simply too many to fit on the average comic store's shelves, so is it any wonder a lot of good ones don't get stocked? I don't know if this would work, because the Direct Market is such a disaster anyway, but I think it would be nice to see a more diverse offering in stores.
Or maybe we should just make the whole market returnable. That would be great, because then retailers wouldn't have to rely on subscriptions from their customers and could afford to stock a wider variety of material in their stores. I know there are economic reasons this doesn't happen, but I think it's criminal that this is the only entertainment industry that puts all the risk on the retailer, not the publisher.

Posted 27 January 02004 - Permalink

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Doctor Strange in Daredevil #56

Stephen Strange, along with Peter Parker, Reed Richards and Luke Cage, have a talk in the park with Matt Murdock about how he's recently crossed the line of vigilante involvement, toleration by the powers-that-be, and status-quo preservation, with his recent unmasked moves as the Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. A very interesting encounter.

Doctor Strange doesn't do much. He hangs in the back, wears sunglasses (what is the "?MIS" on his T-shirt?), says nothing- and when he finally does speak, he starts to go fortune cookie (dialogue-master Bendis could have come up with a better half-sentence, even if he did want to show disconnect on Doc's part), then Murdock interrupts him and exits. It's a bummer that we don't get more from Doc.

Neilalien is questioning Doc's inclusion here. Don't know if it fits. This encounter might have been better with just "street-level" vigilantes like Cage and Parker- take out Doc and Reed, add Moon Knight. Why is Doc there? Why would he get involved? Is it just because he's a fellow New Yorker (explains Reed too)? Bendis goosing some of the fatherly moral icons and shepherds of the Marvel Universe? Does Bendis have use for his spells further into the story arc? Doc's just not usually "down" on the same level of power and concerns as Cage or Spidey. There's no mystical element to the situation (for example, Doc was perfect for testifying at the trial of the White Tiger a while back about the amulet's magical properties, or when he summoned Mephisto during the Kevin Smith run). There's no special connection or history between Doc and Daredevil like there is with Doc and Spidey or Doc and Hulk. Not saying that Doc wouldn't give a damn. Maybe he was there to scan for mental illness or mind control.

Certainly not that a writer has to keep Doc's power level, acquaintances and interests consistent (they haven't been), nor announce what they're going to be at the start of every story, nor keep Doc in the same old situations all the time (please don't).

Neilalien would love a street-level Doc- solving occult crime, helping people with their funky nightmares and haunted houses, fighting werewolves and cults- much more interesting IMO than outsmarting or out-energy-blasting gods.

But one just can't help but see Doc standing behind Luke Cage and wonder, "Dr. Strange is the sworn protector of an awful lot of real estate- WTF is he doing at this powwow of street punks about crossing the line?" The man's toppled evil tyrants of other dimensions. Although, he's never placed himself as leader of this or another dimension (The Order doesn't count)- he's never crossed the line in question in his own way.

But in the end, if you can get past baggagefully thinking too much about why Doc is there, and then the bummertude that he does absolutely nothing, then you can start to see that this encounter works for Doc. He's there, he's chillin', he cares about Matt- but he stays distant and mysterious, Doc doesn't get into this mix too much and stays aloof. Which is more the essence of the character than his relative power level. And his distance is precisely what Murdock is confronting in this encounter. But hopefully there's more of Doc by Bendis in this story arc, and not just this Green-Lantern-getting-beaned-in-the-head-with-a-soup-can cameo.

Doctor Strange in Thor #73

In the future, Thor has a dream of 150 years in the past, when a band of Marvel heroes, including Doc, tried to end his rule of Earth. Doc puts in a good appearance, fulfilling his special unique role by activating an amulet from the Council Elite of the Pantheons of Earth that disconnects Thor briefly from the Odinpower and gives the heroes a fighting chance. Neilalien's far more interested in how Doc lost the Eye and Cloak (and his eye pupils? creepy!) to Loki, but we don't get that. At the end of the battle, while other heroes are shown prone or charred, Doc's fate is not clear. Perhaps he's still around and will be part of how this book returns to the status quo. "The Reigning" has ended up keeping Neilalien's interest- a good Thor story.

Doctor Strange in 1602 #6

As you know, Neilalien's waiting for this trade- and killing the industry!

Posted 27 January 02004 - Permalink

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Heroes, Heartthrobs and Horrors: Celebrating Connecticut's Invention of the American Comic Book [Connecticut Historical Society]
Review of the exhibit: It Came From Connecticut [Ninth Art]

Posted 26 January 02004 - Permalink

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Gene Colan interview [ via Thought Balloons]

Posted 25 January 02004 - Permalink

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Indy Magazine has relaunched, with editing and a beautiful design by Egon!

Also: Awesome review of Blankets by same [Indy Magazine]

Julie Schwartz back in hospital [Mark Evanier] [send him a get well note]

Dave Cockrum recovering, tribute book planned [Newsarama]

Preview of Strange Magic #1 [via Thought Balloons]

NYC: Big Apple Comic Con this weekend
Note new location: Penn Plaza Pavilion, 33rd & 7th.

Portland, Ore., is home to a thriving scene of comic writers [CJAD 800 AM via Newsarama]
Includes Greg Rucka defending superheroes:

Nobody would have asked the Greeks, 'Why Hercules?'

Oh, how the ghost of you clings! Notes on Watchmen [Eve Tushnet via Attentiondeficitdisorderly]

Hilarious must-download: Alan Moore's The March of the Sinister Ducks [get the mp3 quick via BugPowder via/thanks to Neil Gaiman]

Comic Book Publisher Year-End Report Cards [Breakdowns]

Dubious call that direct market comics shops are going out of business because of the astounding diversity they offer [Comics Commentary]

Robot Comic Book Cover Gallery [via Boing Boing]

Prisoner has no right to role-playing games, but he got his subscription to Green Lantern back [ICv2]

Hmmm- Neilalien has a big problem with this image [BugPowder]

Posted 23 January 02004 - Permalink

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Who should draw JMS' Dr. Strange? [Newsarama discussion; thanks to Thought Balloons for the heads-up]

Could the JMS Strange artist be Brandon Peterson? [Defenders Message Board]

Invincible #9 preview, artist news, second TPB due, schedule back on track [Newsarama]

Optic Nerve #9 preview [Drawn & Quarterly via Alan David Doane]

Posted 22 January 02004 - Permalink

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Foreign Heroes [Europe, Americas] [Africa, Middle East, Asia] [via From The Other Side column on Comic World News]
Comprehensive listing of non-USA heroes. Excelsior! The Ancient One and Wong are under Tibet.

Avi Arad pulls the strings at Nu-Conservative Marvel [Gutters]
Books cancelled over movie-money-threatening content, not sales. No more wacky, interesting, inane, fun-to-vent-about risks or Bagge books without Jemas or looming bankruptcy.

A call for better interviews, a must-return-the-phone-call figure in comics journalism [Attentiondeficitdisorderly]
Great item- although Neilalien doesn't think that's it's particularly "benighted" to want better than The Comics Journal.

Posted 20 January 02004 - Permalink

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Super Hero Happy Hour drink winners announced [Movie Poop Shoot]
Looks like Neilalien's entry of Fuzzy Navel for Beast was pretty common and yawnish. Oh well- no TPB for him! Probably should have went with something only slightly better like Hairy Man's Ass for Beast or Black Magic for Dr. Strange, but there a million drink names and entries just don't feel that compelling with obscure drinks no one knows. Zombie for Brother Voodoo and Absolut Mandarin for Iron Man are this website's favorites. Great contest!

Stan Lee discusses sidekicks [3.2 MB QuickTime on the Comic Book: The Movie site via One Hand Clapping]

Posted 19 January 02004 - Permalink

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Tilting At Windmills Version 2.0 by Brian Hibbs begins [Newsarama]
Happy day! Neilalien's been searching for more diverse and less shrill views online re: the direct market. Maybe this column will provide some good links. Neilalien highly recommends Hibbs' Tilting At Windmills book. Anyway, the link above includes discussions of the returnable bookstore market, and how Marvel's no-overprint policy might be slowing growth.

Humanoids- trapped in a Wizard What's Hot world it never made! [Ninth Art]

DC achieves real diversity and new-audience potential with Focus, Humanoids deal- while Marvel Age is just more from limited superhero toolset [Grotesque Anatomy]

Has the superhero been dead since Watchmen and Born Again? [interesting thread on Comic Book Resources via Worlds Within Worlds]

Posted 16 January 02004 - Permalink

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Dr. Strange Songs

"Mambo Sun" by T. Rex from Electric Warrior: I'm Dr. Strange for you
"Super Powers" by Ookla The Mok from Super Secret: I studied under the Ancient One
"New Broom" by XTC: Mr. Ditko was right/Mr. A is so near
"Cymbaline" by Pink Floyd from More: Doctor Strange is always changing size
"Superbird" by Country Joe And The Fish from Electric Music For Mind And Body: I've got the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange to help him on his way
"Eye Of Agamotto" by The Grandmothers from Grandmothers: credited to Mother of Invention Don Preston, instrumental song Frank Zappa played at shows [info]
"Dr. Strange" by The Afterburn
"Dr. Strange" by Burning Rain
"Time For A Change" by Peter Hamill from PH7: So tell Doctor Strange it's time for a change
"Please Don't Kill Doctor Strange" by The Pineapples
"Master Of The Mystic Arts" by 3-D Invisibles from Jump Off The Screen
"Comic Book Heroes" by The Tearjerkers from Through The Back Door: Cyclops, Angel, and Dr. Strange, I wanna be like them

Sources: [Trapped In A Lyric They Never Wrote] [Superhero Songs] [Howard Hallis] [Journalista]

Watch this space for updates!

Posted 16 January 02004 - Permalink

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Marvel's Movers: Joe Quesada & Dan Buckley [Newsarama]
Coy non-answer when asked about JMS' Dr. Strange miniseries.

Dave Cockrum hospitalized [Peter David] [Newsarama] [Pulse]

BBC finds missing 'masterpiece' Dr. Who Dalek episode [BBC News]

Marvel Forms Video Game Group to Accelerate Growth in This Powerful Entertainment Category [press release on Yahoo Business]
Huge video game lineup planned. Marvel stock up almost 10% today on huge volume.

Posted 15 January 02004 - Permalink

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CBLDF Joins Michigan "Harmful to Minors" Fight [Comic Book Legal Defense Fund]

Micropayments: porn is struggling, pay-per-song seems to be doing fine; what of webcomics? [ via Franklin's Findings]

Marvel unfocused; print-to-order is biggest barrier to Marvel growth [Permanent Damage]

Sounds like Genio is doing better with Marvel characters than Marvel is [ICv2]
TV commercials sell educational card game.

That St. Mark's Comics shop that closed last weekend? Worst store ever! [Loonyblog]

Neilalien's scanners will be watching this new Cranky Thoughts comics blog

Bummer! Peter Bagge's Incorrigible Hulk cancelled [Newsarama]
Neilalien enjoyed Megalomaniacal Spider-Man and was looking forward to more.

Posted 14 January 02004 - Permalink

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Steve Ditko essay [Interesting Motherfuckers on Acid Logic]
From 16 May 02002 but new to Neilalien.

Neilalien's been wondering what these are [Ebay auction for a "Mighty Beanz Marvel #51 Doctor Strange Rare"]
This recent entry on X-Entertainment is a little enlightening.

Stuart Moore with a proper defense of superheroes, and the mass appeal of quality genre-plus-superhero stories [A Thousand Flowers]
Update: Good discussion so far, good post by Shawn Fumo on page 2.

Just as Neilalien is enjoying the TechnoPriests books he got via the big sale, Humanoids and DC form an alliance [Newsarama] [ICv2]
Sounds like a good move for both publishers. Hopefully they'll keep that big beautiful album size- that tiny manga format ain't good for Neilalien's peepers.

Motime, thou art ahead of the curve: Warren Ellis on his Bad Signal mailing list today (reprinted here without permission):

Y'know... what if the 2000+ remaining direct-market comics stores are really just for selling superhero comics, and bookstores and the web are for selling everything else?

Pipeline column surveys the comics blogosphere [Comic Book Resources]
Thanks for the nice mention! Yes, Neilalien is the comics blogger closest to burnout has been blogging comics for a long time.

Posted 13 January 02004 - Permalink

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The Marvel Knights Imprint: For you kewl hip progressive non-uber-fanboys, with three-bucks-per-issue to spend, who think outside the boxes of continuity and Superman-vs.-Thor battles [Newsarama]
Axel Alonso tries really hard to place Marvel Knights readers higher up on the geek hierarchy. Sheesh. Anyway, no news yet that Dr. Strange is part of the imprint's expansion- but they still have two more titles to announce, and hope springs eternal.

Posted 12 January 02004 - Permalink

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Doctor Strange Fan Alert: Be sure to check out this week's Thor #73
It sounds like the "Reigning" storyline comes to a head, and Doc is involved [spoilers].

Rumor: The Formerly Known as the Justice League team of Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire and Joe Rubenstein are going to do a new Defenders book [All The Rage]
This would be a fantastic team to get on the Defenders! Neilalien would be surprised if Marvel went back dipping in this well again so soon- but maybe not, with Marvel turning back the clock in many ways a la Necromancy Month.

Posted 11 January 02004 - Permalink

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A list of hundreds of songs that mention comic book and strip characters [Trapped In A Lyric They Never Wrote]
There's some Dr. Strange songs here that Neilalien didn't know about.

NYC News: St. Mark's Comics, Chambers Street store, is closing forever today at 7pm, great deals on back issues and graphic novels [via TCJ Message Board]
Should you want to brave 1° weather today to pick over the bones of your hobby. It's always sad when a comic shop shuts down.

Celebrities discuss their favorite superhero power [Cinema Confidential News]

Posted 10 January 02004 - Permalink

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American superhero comics companies content to ignore tween literature renaissance [Ninth Art]

Peek behind the curtain: Dean Phillips of Krypton Comics on the Diamond-Alliance Retailer Summit [ICv2]
Free Comic Book Day and banner colors discussed. They got around to outreach marketing, too.

Captions missed [Full Bleed (permalink pending)] [Thought Balloons]
When they're not a storytelling crutch, anyway. Thought balloons are long gone, too.

A league of their own: Women's comic shop in Korea [Korea Herald via Comics Burrito]

Posted 9 January 02004 - Permalink

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The anatomy of past crashes/crazes/fads in comics [Permanent Damage]
And how manga isn't in the same situation, because it has diversity and fans. And how if hip hop were to crash, it still doesn't mean big band's coming back. Also: I Ching consultations for the new year. And: weblogs as questioners of the "official version".

Big Humanoids sale [via Artbomb]
Neilalien's had The TechnoPriests on his radar for a while- now you can get Volumes 1 & 2 for $12! That's not each- both together. And this is hardcover. And it includes shipping. No more excuses.

Marvel Age, a new imprint aimed at younger readers, with manga-sized digests, is talked up [Newsarama]
It's like giving the same rehashed gift every Christmas over and over, but with different wrapping paper.
Update: The wrapping paper looks a lot like Tokyopop.

Contest: Submit a funny drink/supercharacter combination and win a Super Hero Happy Hour TPB [Movie Poop Shoot]

Brian Michael Bendis wants to help you get laid [Image Comics MB via Fanboy Rampage]

Posted 7 January 02004 - Permalink

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Superhero/manga bookstore graphic novel shelves are no place for independent creators, but the web is [Odd Jobs via TCJ Message Board]

Posted 6 January 02004 - Permalink

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Marvel and DC are threatening to sue Neilalien hero Arlen Schumer over all the fair use artwork used in The Silver Age of Comic Book Art! [All The Rage]

All The Rage also reports a great item about JMS agreeing with criticism that Amazing Spider-Man has been a little soft of late. Neilalien's enjoyed the book, a 02003 Award winner, a classic run, plenty of Doctor Strange. But the criticism strikes a chord. Like the latest issue: another likeable well-written piece, this time about the tailor and the sniper, but it's not as if Spider-Man was ever under any real stress/danger, solving a mystery, etc. in the story. Let's add some challenges for Spidey again.

Great history: How it went down the first time with TSR Comics [Lying In The Gutters]

Paul O'Brien looks at DC's new Focus line [Ninth Art]
A new line of gritty superpowers-but-no-superheroes books for us, the expansive audience that praised Sleeper and put it at the top of the bestseller lists.

Michael Chabon Presents... The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist #1 due in February [Newsarama]
No legal probs after all?

Don't tamper with perfection [Unqualified Offerings on Eightball #22 expansion]

Posted 5 January 02004 - Permalink

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Waiting for the Trade: Some Reflections on the Book-Format Comic [Johanna Draper Carlson rant on Usenet]

Read Kurt Busiek (and many others) on the topic []

I think what [fans who wait for the trade] mean is, "I'll wait for the trade, because I'm interested enough in the material to buy it in that format, if it ever actually materializes."

More: John Bryne says waiting for the trade is killing the industry, and his page rate [ column] [Newsarama with more links]
Variation on the theme: If only people would buy the format they don't want to buy (shaking fist)!

Update: Franklin's Findings:

It is the comics industry's responsibility to adjust to the market, not the other way around...

Update: Unqualified Offerings on the decadent phase of boosterism, when the line is crossed from activism to hobbyists telling people its their duty to support the losing side of history

Update: Wait for the trade? Progressive Ruin's waiting for the microfiche

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Flat Earth is back! He's thinking about many aspects of the comic book industry and blogging about the Archie Comics he loves
He's also "intrigued by the idea that comic book fans may be helping along their own extinction" and polling SH folks if they'll buy something non-SH if it meant saving their favorite SH titles [Comicon MB]

Franklin sees increasing evidence for his "geek culture store" future; good tsk tsk about ignoring manga cash cow [Franklin's Findings]
The comic book shop is diversifying to survive- into action figures, games, anime DVDs, etc. Not into more comics, genre or art/alt-comix [Motime has more]

Let's redefine the comic book store [The Pimp's keen for 02004]

Legal Action Comics Volume Two Book Release Party & Art Show at CBGB's 313 Gallery in NYC Wednesday 7 January 6pm [info via Egon, who suggests we all go, Neilalien probably will]

Sleeper: Out In The Cold pushed [Ninth Art]

The Silencers #1 is available online in PDF [Moonstone Books via Pulse]
Neilalien picked up #1 at MoCCA 02003, and just recently snagged #2 and #3. Expect this good book to be pimped on this site in the future.

The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist in uber-delaying legal tangle? [Unqualified Offerings]

Can you ID superheroes by just 12 pixels? [fun Flash test]

Filipino creators fight onslaught of Marvel/DC superheroes [Philippine Daily Inquirer's Job Market Online via Newsarama]

Times must be good again for Neilalien (knock on wood): He finally plunked down the $25 and bought Avenging World by Steve Ditko. You'd think a book this pricey would be in color, but take his word for it: this book is only in black and white.

Posted 4 January 02004 - Permalink

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Neilalien is honored and humbled [Unqualified Fanboy Successes 02003]
But doesn't a Lifetime Achievement Award mean it's basically over for the recipient? :) :(

Comic book shops are superhero specialty shops; to 'outgrow' superheroes and ask them to diversify is like becoming a vegetarian and then insisting that your favorite burger joint start selling samosas; let bookstores service the mainstream [Motime Like The Present]

Neilalien took advantage of Comicraft's Comic Book Fonts New Years' Day one-day sale yesterday and bought the Sanctum Sanctorum font for use on this website

Great huge overview of 02003; just Part 1 of 2?! [Breakdowns]

Stonehaven: Milk Cartons & Dog Biscuits will be a graphic novel in March [Stickman Graphics; first chapter online]
Neilalien picked up some ashcans of this at MoCCA 02003 and found it a real page-turner.

Posted 2 January 02004 - Permalink

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02003 Neilalien Awards

Best Comic of 02003: Sleeper
Can't say anything that hasn't been said already.

Best Comic [Read in] 02003: Eightball #22
Okay, so this book is dated October 02001. This website has a long tradition of naming books for this category that are (a) indy, non-superhero and (b) didn't actually come out in the awarded year (Jimmy Corrigan, Hicksville). Or maybe it's a long tradition of getting to parties late. Neilalien likes to make that non-mainstream stuff bubble to the top and sweat it out. ;) So this category is qualified as the best read of the year. Anyway, Neilalien and In Sequence both hit this book at the same time, about March of last year. Or more accurately, it hit us, like a ton of story-telling brilliance-bricks. And if Unqualified Offerings can place it on his Best of 02003 list, so can this site.

The big news now is that there's going to be an expanded book-form edition of Ice Haven [Dan Clowes interview at via Alan David Doane]

Best Comic [Read in] 02003, Honorable Mention: Coober Skeber #2
Thanks to conspirators Egon and Alan David Doane for getting this book, and its hilarious send-up of Dr. Strange, into the orbiting library. (No comment about the cover- the move to acquire this book predates a certain blogosphere discussion which Neilalien has spared his readers.)

More Notable Comic Books of 02003:

Amazing Spider-Man: J. Michael Stracyznski and John Romita Jr. continue their excellent run as clones fade into distant memory

Invincible: if you liked Zot! this book is for you- refreshing and fun, especially in these dark-and-gritty days- the art is clean and bright- and Robert Kirkman can write (and is writing, about ten titles now!?- also notably The Walking Dead)

Smax: Promethea took all the props, but Moore quenches lips thirsty for Top 10 with this fantasy tale; be sure to catch the baby getting thrown out with the bathwater in a background shot

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen II: this was on Neilalien's list for 02002... but all's well that ends well, if not on time; the Invisible Man's blood slowly appearing everywhere was Image of The Year, and a riot

El Cazador: Neilalien's always on the look-out for good low-fantasy action-genre yarns- sci-fi, crime, spy, pirates, horror, occult, etc.- with good art and lettering- now that's what a pop storytelling medium is for (actually, Neilalien is looking for recommendations in this area- El Cazador can't be the best book out there that fits this criteria...)

Formerly Known As The Justice League: tried a little too hard to be funny, but Neilalien had a nostalgia-gasm nonetheless; but no Guy Gardner (wait for the sequel)

Best Dr. Strange Appearance: Michael T. Gilbert's "The Bottle Imp" in Marvel Double-Shot #4

Neilalien hasn't really talked about this piece, except for his usual nitpicky review of this lighthearted tale when it first came out. It ends up being the only Doc solo story of the year- but it does more than "win by default". The Mr. Monster creator serves up a very fun, dynamic, colorful story. The homage to the half-issue switcheroo-endings of old-school Doc stories hits the right notes. And the honey/bee exchange was the most fun use of Dr. Strange's powers this year.

Best Dr. Strange Appearance, Runner-Up: Thor: Vikings

What is clear, from the very interesting emails and discussions that Neilalien had with the Dr. Strange Cabal of Fandom and other dignitaries, is that the Garth Ennis Doctor Strange portrayed in Thor: Vikings is popular. Neilalien had a blast with this mini-series, but he's sticking to his guns re: it goes a little too far to be a permanent shift. Doc should have a little more dignity than to call someone a "turd" like Hammerhead might. Do all of our heroes have to be Ultimatized into black-trenchcoated foul-mouths? A Doc that struggles with past guilt, and to stay grounded in humanity in the face of his vast esoteric responsibilities, is more compelling that one who's already lost it in pompous aloofness and lounging in pajamas. Still, Ennis' work here seems to be getting noticed. What clouds the debate maybe is that for so long Doc has been so distant-boring-cameoed that the personality Ennis injected is such a breath of fresh air. Ennis is probably doing the same type of thing that Warren Ellis was going to do with Doc years ago in his aborted Sorcerer Supreme run: give the guy some stones and a sick sense of humor. Seriously, shouldn't being Sorcerer Supreme severely fuck you up?

What Neilalien wants to know: It can be assumed from what we've seen that Ennis and JMS are on opposite ends of the Doc characterization spectrum, so if the Ennis Doc is this popular, does it bode ill for JMS' upcoming "revamp"?

Other Dr. Strange Appearances of Mention: Amazing Spider-Man, "Happy Birthday" story arc

Worst Dr. Strange Appearance: Fantastic Four, "Unthinkable" story arc

Almost nothing bugs Neilalien more than when (1) major mystical events happen in the Marvel Universe and Dr. Strange is nowhere to be found, (2) Dr. Strange is portrayed as completely incompetent (i.e. major mystical events happen in the Marvel Universe, but the writer tries to do the right thing to explain Doc's absence, and thus shows him incapacitated/captured/moronic, etc.), (3) any schmuck is shown being able to perform magic just by reading or repeating words or thinking happy thoughts, which completely devalues Doc's powers (and when it comes to mystical things, yes, the scientifically-brilliant Reed Richards is still any schmuck), and (4) Dr. Doom is portrayed as a better sorcerer than Dr. Strange, which completely devalues Doc's powers (spellcasters better than Doc are allowed, and you can even show them kicking Doc's ass, but please make them people dedicated to the mystical path as he is, not ones who have forsaken the path, blunder upon it, make a deal for it, etc.). This story arc is 4-for-4.

Best Appearance of Dr. Strange's Stuff But Not Doc: The Eye of Agamotto and Cloak of Levitation worn by Loki in "The Reigning" storyline of Thor; the Wand of Watoomb as one of the items in JLA/Avengers

Biggest Insult to Dr. Strange Fans: Another editorial box claiming a JMS mini-series is on the way; a godlike Scarlet Witch in JLA/Avengers

Best Hopes (and/or Greatest Fears) for Dr. Strange Fans in 02004: JMS' Doc mini-series and revamp; the all-Ditko issue of The Comics Journal; Blake Bell's Ditko book; that we get to see all installments of Young Ancient One

And thus also ends Neilalien's Celebrating 40 Years of Dr. Strange 01963-02003 Extravaganza.

Posted 1 January 02004 - Permalink

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