11 Is A Palindromic Number, and, A Recusal
Please celebrate with Neilalien his 11th Blogiversary! Exclesior!
That's 1,111 in internet/weblog/dog years. You won't find a better combination of starting earlier and blogging longer in comics-blogging.
But alas, as of today, Neilalien is officially recusing himself from the news, entertainments, and expectations of the near-daily visitor to his website.
Now is a good time- 11 is a palindromic number, of course.
The still-addicted intent is to avoid a complete retirement. Neilalien still enjoys doing this website, and he will still require an online self-expression outlet. Barring circumstances, there will be no blogging in March (March Madness has usually had a negative impact on blog content anyway), and the planned next post will be an annual Favorites of MoCCA post after the festival in April. MoCCA usually refills the gas tank, but beyond that, no one can say. The Doctor Strange Info Pages will get some much-needed brushing-up and be maintained. It may be 1-2 braindumps a month. Like the Ancient One to Doctor Strange, he may occasionally appear to again bolster Doc fandom through its greatest challenges. Maybe the Neilalien brand will be completely repurposed. Maybe this is the last post ever. He will still be around, knock on wood- but regardless of what continues, near-daily linkblogging must end.
Steve Ditko didn't draw Doctor Strange for 20 years, and Neilalien's not going to blog him for 20. David McCullough wrote about the Johnstown Flood, then the Panama Canal, then Truman, then John Adams. Most historians don't write about one person their entire career, scientists go from research project to the next, creators from book to book, the runs of writers and artists on comic books end, entrepreneurs from business to business. Of all this decision's factors, it feels mostly like a 'time for the next/new project' kind of animal.
If you subscribe to Neilalien's RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter or Fan him on Facebook, you will know when he updates.
Gratitude is among the most spiritual and grounding of emotions- and Neilalien is feeling copious amounts. Thank you all for your readership and links and emails and kind words. Neilalien would like to specifically thank:
His parental units, who tried to instill in him that if you're ever going to do something, don't do it half-assed. That's not to say half-assed things don't happen, but hopefully not in the case of this weblog.
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, for creating Doctor Strange.
The secret cabal of Doctor Strange scholars, Howard Hallis and Sanctum Sanctorum Comix. You two make Neilalien appear a lot smarter and more encyclopedic about Doc than he really is. (And make Neilalien appear a lot saner, when Doc collections are compared. ;) )
To Sean T. Collins and Franklin Harris: There were a couple times long ago when it was Neilalien vs. The Universe, and while there was plenty of private support, it was you two who either publicly agreed with Neilalien, or at least engaged him so he didn't sound like a total crackpipe. Apparently, Neilalien hasn't forgotten it.
And last, Neilalien thanks Tom Spurgeon for starting Comics Reporter, and Mike Sterling for starting Progressive Ruin. As those with louder megaphones will undoubtably continue to tweak the history of blogging comics to their own benefit, hopefully the archaeological record will remain undeniable that when it comes to the intelligent, entertaining, positively-tonally-correct, and non-corporatist engagement daily online with comic books and the comics industry, they are the best of us.
(And now, of course, the Neilalien Curse shall lift, and great things will now begin to happen for Doctor Strange, Grant Morrison will be announced as the new writer, a blockbuster hit live-action movie, etc...)
Posted 25 February 02011 - Permalink
Shocking and heart-breaking: Creator Dwayne McDuffie has died, 49 years young; champion of diversity in comic books; writer and more; Milestone Media; animated series Static Shock, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited, Ben 10, etc. [updates: NY Times obituary; LA Times obituary] [Comics Reporter Collective Memory] [Wikipedia page] [Personal site] [condolences to his family] [23 Feb 02011]
Recent Doctor Strange and Related: Braindump
Invaders Now! miniseries
Old One Shuma-Gorath is prevented from entering our dimension by Captain America stabbing him in his eye with the Spear of Destiny that pierced Christ's side. That sounds a fuckload cooler than how it generally manifested in this miniseries. It shouldn't be so easy to both summon, and dispatch (it took the Ancient One's death before) He Who Sleeps But Shall Soon Awake; Shuma's about halfway through the doorway and there's no Sorcerer Supreme to be found- guess it got past the scanners. There is hair from the beard of the Ancient One, Nazis protesting the heroes' killing of innocents (you read that right), and subpar art by Marvel's usual standards.
Chaos War event
Hercules becomes God, punches the Chaos King into a pocket dimension to call his very own, and restores everything. Doctor Strange is part of Incredible Hulks #618-620. He has to blah-blah again that he's not Sorcerer Supreme anymore and he's much weaker. He can't even maintain an astral form for a few minutes here, although he easily can in New Avengers below, so the power level hasn't magically started being consistently portrayed. But beyond that, it's a good appearance. The Chaos King has excited his inner Zom, but with help, he eventually handles it. Can we hope that the next writer will just run with what possibly happens here?: Doc cured of Zom completely (or through Hercules' restoration), and friends with the Hulk again? Fate of Nightmare unknown, although presumably he's been restored too.
The "outing" of the Illuminati continues. Readable, although it would be better if (a) the villain acquiring soul gems was anyone other than The Same Ol' Hood, and (b) the Illuminati weren't acting like moping children who just got caught stealing a cookie. The Illuminati is presumably one of Bendis' great contributions to the Marvel Universe, made up of the elite of the Marvel Universe, and (a) they've rarely been shown doing the smallest thing competently, and (b) they don't even have an assertive response that justifies their existence when lectured to.
New Avengers #9
Not-bad Doctor-Strange-in-a-group competently doing astral-form recon, and dispatching some thugs in the battle with an actual mystical action, "The Holcate Illusion of the Fears, The Book of the Vishanti, Page 3453"- previously, otherwise, and preferably known as, the Images of Ikonn.
X-Men: To Serve And Protect #3
Doctor Strange narrates a short story of his helping Emma Frost and others confront Blink; he casts a spell that purges Blink of Selene's corruptive influence. It's cool that Emma has faith in Doc- until Doc thinks, "I pray her faith in me is justified." Who is this underconfident schmuck?
Posted 22 February 02011 - Permalink
Must Read: The Lee/Ditko Doctor Strange was very different from other Marvel heroes at the time, and Marvel's heroes of today, and the Doctor Strange of today [great long essay by Too Busy Thinking About My Comics] [his own hero's journey was already over as of Strange Tales #110; he's not a young man attempting to become a competent sorcerer, but already adult, stoic, and able master of self and magic; "It's quite impossible to imagine the Lee/Ditko Dr Strange comfortably hanging out with the overwhelming majority of today's super-heroes, trapped as they are in an endless repetition of learning experiences while forever re-living the trials of their twenties and even their thirties over and over again. The Stephen Strange who appears in Strange Tales #110 to 146 has clearly already lived two quite distinct and demanding adult lives, and through the challenges of both of them he's experienced more and learned more than most superheroes ever will. He's been an avaricious world-class surgeon, and he's been the most able and powerful of all known mortal mystics... He is, in short, the very definition of a hero, and he's been burned free of angst, despair and ignorance, those typical and highly-functional motors of character development which are to be found so often in today's superhero tales."] [20 Feb 02011]
Doctor Strange: From The Marvel Vault #1: Storage Space For Approved Reviews
This is a Saturday morning cartoon and that's not necessarily a bad thing [CBR]
What is wrong with Stern. He wrote an entire story in one book, including retelling the origin of the character and telling the history of the Sanctum. All the while giving us a cool fight with a demon that is resolved. Come on, Bendis should have written this, then we could get a good two years worth of books from this one story. Or maybe Morrison, so he could bring in obscure characters whose actions only make sense if we have an encyclopedic knowledge of every story they have appeared in. And what's with the clean fun art that tells the story without gratuitous splash pages and static pose shots? [comment by edhopper; mostly positive comments on CBR's Forum]
Books like this make me wish they'd take Dr. Strange and really develop him... Though it's not the best or most stirring comic out there, as a one shot, this is definitely worth picking up and reading for nostalgia's sake. [True Believer]
Very positive reviews by Comic Vine members: perfection; I just can't be negative about this book
A fun read but not much reason to bring this comic back into the public eye [iFanboy]
It won't change the world, but it cheered up an evening [Too Dangerous For A Girl]
Updating as found...
Neilalien echoes the 'this book is nostalgic fun that doesn't crack the world in half' review-meme. He is not really into the "kiddie", light-hearted tone/art so much, although such stories can be charming; this story reminds of Michael T. Gilbert's The Bottle Imp. He also wants simply "new" straightforward stories about Doc- not more backfilling about his origin, "untold tales", flashbacks, etc.- this is a bit about Doc's acquisition of the Sanctum that predates Strange Tales #110 when he's already in New York but not yet given the Cloak of Levitation. Definitely has a positive old-school Lee/Ditko feel. Astral form done correctly. Roger Stern has more knowledge and ability re: Doctor Strange characterization, storytelling and charm/mojo in his pinky finger than the entire current Marvel creative department combined.
Posted 19 February 02011 - Permalink
The Avenging Page (In Excelsis Ditko): massive missive re: Ditko's self-published work of recent years, by Jog, at Comics Comics [15 Feb 02011]
St. Valentine's Day is Link Love Day
Top 12 Referrers to Neilalien Over The Past Year (1 February 02010-02011) (much thanks!; give these fine sites a visit):
- Google searches
- Progressive Ruin
- Comics Reporter
- Neilalien's Googlized/Feedburnerized RSS feed, RSS subscriptions, as used in Google Reader and on Facebook
- Groovy Age of Horror
- Yahoo searches
- Comics Weblog Update-A-Tron (aggregator)
- Neilalien's Twitterized RSS feed, Twitter tweets/mentions, various URL shorteners
- The Comic Book Resources Universe, from Robot 6, the Forums, and accumulating columnist mentions over the years (Comics Should Be Good, Pipeline, The Buy Pile)
- Polite Dissent
- Sanctum Sanctorum Comix
Posted 14 February 02011 - Permalink
A Brief History of Dead Members of the Fantastic Four [Johnny "The Human Torch" Storm has died recently in Fantastic Four; he'll be fine] [Spider-Man is joining the group, newly renamed The Future Foundation, new white costumes, starting in renumbered FF #1 due out 23 March] [13 Feb 02011]
The New York State Department of Labor has issued two safety violations against the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark [Christopher Tierney, one of several actors who play Spider-Man, fell 20 feet from a platform into a basement beneath the stage and broke four ribs and a shoulder blade, fractured three vertebrae and suffered a hairline skull fracture; he is undergoing physical rehabilitation] [two other performers sustained injuries while rehearsing a sling-shot technique, which catapults performers from the back of the stage to its lip; one performer broke both of his wrists and another injured his feet] [13 Feb 02011]
Original Art Stories: The (Sad) Saga of Black Lightning's Creation: even-handed 'comics are words and pictures, written and drawn, and since we've all learned from the Lee/Kirby/Ditko saga, we're trying to get proper co-creator status to artists who drew iconic costumes, etc.' approach [or, How DC can screw a creator who got himself a more-decent deal, by adding co-creators and making Black Vulcan for the SuperFriends cartoon instead] [Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing] [12 Feb 02011]
Black Comic Book Days this month: Saturday 12 February in Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit, Saturday 19 February in NYC; more in Philly and LA; racks permanently dedicated to African-American comics placed in bookstores [10 Feb 02011]
Stan Lee Media Loses Bid for Stake of Marvel Profits ["There is no language in the SLE/Lee employment agreement granting SLMI any rights to Lee's salary, profit participation or other compensation from Marvel." IANAL but sounds like a final firm ruling that the goodies, rights and creations Stan Lee dealt to Stan Lee Media's capitalization do not include Marvel goodies; no goodies Stan Lee got from or dealt away to Marvel later was Stan Lee Media's; and it's too late to complain about it now anyway] [Robot 6; Comics Reporter] [8 Feb 02011]
Why Aren't Americans Cast As Superheroes Anymore? Not Manly Enough
Another top casting agent who works in the comic-book genre adds that there's a third problem, and it's the reason that actors like Ryan Gosling unilaterally turn down superhero roles: "The big name guys aren't interested, because many of them think comic books are soap operas for boys. And since the ascendancy of reality TV, a lot of the younger American actors don't feel they need to be in [acting] class as much - Stella Adler, or 'method' or whatever training or skill you'd normally want to focus on - and if you're young and particularly good-looking, you might not even have had to. But in the superhero world, people need to believe things that are far-fetched. There has to be some sort of vulnerability or pathos for that person to be relatable. In the U.K., it's the norm to do a lot of theater, so they know how to act with their entire bodies."
Top superhero movie roles in Superman, Batman, Thor, Green Lantern and Spider-Man (Chris Evans as the upcoming Captain America is only exception, but casting rules dictated it had to be Yank) going to foreigners for three reasons: (1) American leading men in their 20s/30s are boyish nowadays (think DiCaprio) (Peter Parker should probably be boyish tho); (2) they're too identified with their quality HBO TV shows to invest a billion-dollar franchise upon, and (3) the quote above: depressing 'soap opera' comment, but interesting observation: American men don't have the acting chops to make the wonderfully crazy shit that happens in supercomics believable [5 Feb 02011]
Speaking of ending eras: DC drops the Comics Code, and Archie too, leaving no more publishers using the Comics Code Authority; DC will replace with its own ratings system- Marvel did that already back in 02001; CCA formed in 01954 by publishers to 'self-censor', scared after Wertham and the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings that government would regulate comics; now an irrelevant zombie [Newsarama investigation: unable to locate any evidence that the organization has actually been functioning since 02009? "it's been ineffectual and a relic of the past for probably the last 20 years"] [Progressive Ruin: Has anyone ever experienced any kind of real-world impact of the Comics Code Authority in the past ten years?] [More: Washington Post] [Wikipedia: Comics Code Authority] [thank heavens the comic book industry stunted itself creatively in the 50's to prevent all that juvenile delinquency! definitely one of the factors re: how superheroes came to dominate the medium] [2 Feb 02011]
End of an era: Wizard has abruptly shuttered its print iteration; once the dominant magazine covering comics, launched in 01991; starter of a thousand careers, both creative ("Top 10 Writers and Artists lists and annual Wizard Fan Awards carrying significant weight") and many current industry front-officers and pundits; often the symbol of comics' worst from its "superheroes boobies insert-Beevis-Butthead-giggle" attitude to the speculator's price guides; apparently often managed in an ethically-challenged way; went from over 100K direct market sales in October 01998 to just 17K this past December; will now be a new website (and penny stock? really?); sister magazine ToyFare also done [massive reaction round-up by ADDTF/Robot 6] [more: Bleeding Cool] [Comics Reporter: "There was a time when Wizard was such a dominant force that the only reactions to it seemed to be despair, accommodation, or dark humor. That time is long past, and I will not miss it."] [best of luck to all whose employment status has been affected] [2 Feb 02011]
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