Reports are coming into the orbital HQ: Dr. Strange fans might want to check out today's X-Factor #203: Mindless ones, the mouth-clamp spell, and a certain member of Doc's rogue's gallery are all present
Also out today: The Creeper by Steve Ditko hardcover [DC Comics]
Now, for the first time, DC collects Ditko's Creeper epics from SHOWCASE #73, BEWARE THE CREEPER #1-6, 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #7 and short stories from WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #249-255.
Great blog-discussion burst re: thought balloons, their usage, the actual cloud-like object in the comics panel, and vs. thought/narration captions:
The Problem with American Vampires Is That They Just Don't Think; Marvel editors tell Stephen King thought bubbles have been phased out; the immediacy of manga's bubbleless portrayal of thoughts [Jog at Comics Comics]
That Hand on Your Shoulder; traditional thought balloons are a patronizing "he thought"; Dr. Strange panel used [Scott McCloud]
Some words (and pictures) in defense of thought balloons [Hereville]
Word Balloons in Visual Space [Jeet Heer at Comics Comics]
A Claremont X-Man thinking three thought balloons while throwing a punch nukes all realistic sense of time, distances the reader instead of draws her in [Nijomu]
Neilalien thinks that the comics pendulum has swung too far anti-thought-balloon in the recent decade- no device in the creator toolbox should be eliminated willy-nilly- it's a neutral technology dependent on how it's used (although the above discussion re: some perceived inherent flaws of the thought-cloud itself is neat). But it's an understandable pendulum-swing: a chunk of the modern negative reaction seems because they were used too much for too long, too many words bringing too many stories to a screeching halt, and as storytelling crutches (thinking "I'm so sad" instead of simply drawing a teary face well) and characters thinking things for the reader's benefit that people would never think ("Is that my wife Joan, the writer and alcoholic, sitting at her desk?"). And it generally goes against the modern-comic meme to be more 'cinematic'- it's uncommon and cheesy for movies to reveal character thoughts via voice-over, monologue, or narration.
Neilalien delighted in the entire 70's black-and-white Marvel magazine (complete with short prose story) aesthetic. Having it in larger magazine dimensions would have been too much to hope for.
"The Cure" by Kieron Gillen and Frazer Irving. The go-to first story is the strongest. Really enjoyed the "mind-muddled utopia via the Devil" story concept. Many have a problem with Doc making a deal with Mephisto that dooms the cult leader- Neilalien understands that- who has moaned more about Doctor Strange acting unheroically over the past years (pre-emptive strike on Skrull homeworld anyone)? But he didn't have a problem with it. The leader was probably too far corrupted to be rehabilitated at that point, Doc's move saved all the innocent lives, and it felt more like a way of "navigating the dark arts" which can be a welcome move for the Doctor Strange character if done well. There might have been some way to trick Mephisto out of the leader's soul too, but once you paint yourself in the Mephisto corner instead of a more minor demon, "The Prince of Lies" has no credibility if outsmarted by Doc once again. What bothered Neilalien more is that the story didn't stay confined to a small utopian cult or commune- by making the love-in an apparently planet-wide phenomenon, the story stumbles into much larger stakes while Doc nonchalantly cuddles with Clea. The art is great overall- Clea could have been less button-nosed and doe-eyed (but it fits the timing of the story in Doc's continuity)- but Mephisto looked fantastic. One page giveth with the "globule" Alcala Eye but also sadly taketh with a Cloak-including astral form. 22 pages that could have been a comic in itself.
"Melancholia" by Peter Milligan and Frank Brunner. Neilalien can add nothing more to Sanctum's review of this disappointing nostalgia piece (the story is about a man haunted by a memory, much like Doc's first-ever tale, and the art is by the legendary Brunner). The missed opportunity of Wong in the time-altered room. Was a battle with Nightmare edited out? Are we expected to believe that after Doc's wisdom against wiping the man's painful memory from his mind, Doc pulled a Dr. Light on himself? Brunner's art feels a little too stiff in some places and too loose in others, but the man has such a superb sensibility of what a Doctor Strange tale should look like that there can be no real complaint.
"So This is How it Feels" by Ted McKeever. Neilalien's never really grokked McKeever, including his Doc in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up. Neilalien's in love with the concept that Doctor Strange is much more wide-open to very weird stories and art interpretations than Cyclops, but McKeever's isn't one that floats the boat.
"Duel in the Dark Dimension" by Mike Carey, with Marcos Martin (The Oath) art pieces (teases!). Knocked out of the park. Remember when things used to scare Doctor Strange- and his readers? However, out there must be an alternate dimension where Marcos Martin drew this story in its entirety and it worked. [Marcos Martin pin-up from Mystic Hands]
Bottom line: It's a real joy that The Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange #1 exists. If the meme's going to be that (1) every creator has a Doctor Strange pitch in them, and (2) Doc can't support his own monthly title, then we'll take running with Mystic Hands as an anthology series with a #2. And a #3...
"I now count this as one of the highlights of my collection, the art is stellar, the stories are at worst readable, and the whole package just works"; 8.5 Night Girls out of 10 [Comic Book Revolution]
A couple pages posted with some comments; "does seem to sort of show a complete lack of confidence in their 'Doctor Strange isn't the Sorceror Supreme' storyline" [Scans_Daily]
It's definitely a simple relief that this one-shot isn't bogged down by Doc's current storyline and has him wearing the Cloak and Eye.
Stephen Bissette is sharing the incredible tale of the DC/Marvel Ratings Debacle 01986-87 [Prologue]
The noble battle by our previous generation of comics creators against having a stunted artform intended only for the smallest, youngest, most susceptible reader. Essential worth-the-time reading, especially for the comics historian or wonk.
Awesome sneering Doctor Strange art by World of Hurt webcomic creator Jay Potts for Neilalien's Blogiversary! [World of Hurt]
Neilalien's never been able to figure out really why- it's not like he's watching every single game, spending hours with bracketology, running a college basketball weblog on the side, etc.- but somehow March Madness always seems to make this weblog a sports widow. Maybe it's just been an annual post-blogiversary breather/excuse. Posting will likely be light over the next couple weeks- even lighter since Neilalien's particular proclivities will have his scanners on some additional NIT games this year too.
Searching for comics' first black-white interracial kiss
And navigating all the grey areas. Neilalien wants to know: The first drawn kiss (not just a romance or implied), in mainstream comics, in color comics (black skin looks black, white skin looks white), by contemporary characters (not some sci-fi analogue or metaphor on another planet), by both parties willing, able and aware (not mind-controlled like Kirk and Uhura), part of the story and intended by the creators (not a printing error), balls out, no hedging.
Young Romance #194, "Full Hands Empty Heart", July/August 01973? [Out Of This World]
Neilalien would give this one the prize- it's a nice contemporary story and the couple deals with racism- but alas, it doesn't satisfy his criteria if it appears she's kissing him while he's sleeping (and then again when he's dead).
Amazing Adventures #31, Killraven, July 01975? [Comic Book Legends Revealed]
Many have anointed this one, by Don McGregor and P. Craig Russell. But the post-apocalyptic venue does nada for Neilalien. The interracial kiss in Warren Publishing's Creepy #43 (01972) was a mistake (writer-artist miscommunication) that appears out of nowhere in the story. (This Don McGregor Facebook page sure takes a lot of credit for interracial kisses nonetheless.)
The best contemporary Japanese novel is a manga [Guardian.co.uk] [via Robot Wisdom]
"The ingeniously satirical Legend of Koizumi tells you far more about the country, far more entertainingly than any novel of recent years."
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