Neilalien : A Doctor Strange Fansite : A Comic Book Weblog  

Comic Weblog Updates
Nuff said. Bookmark it now. If you are a part of this, be sure to ping when you've updated. Related: Pinging Service Rundown.

Superheroes as a Subgenre of Fantasy [MemeMachineGo]
Against the current realism trend.

Comics need more fun, dammit [The Pimp]

Fantastic month-to-month Marvel sales trending information [Pulse]

Chinese indifferent to first adult comic magazine [The People's Daily]
Sales are mediocre. Unattractive scripts. Comics are perceived as for kids. Don't have all the info, but maybe a third reason is the definition of 'adult' and 'grown-up' this article suggests. A little escapism, some sex, a couple explosions, a murder mystery- could go a long way to entertain people on their commutes.

Hero worship results in disciplined class [Miami Herald via Thought Balloons]
The cool teachers don't use gold stars, they use Spider-Man.

Writing Comics and Graphic Novels [NYU class taught by Danny Fingeroth; found via a subway ad]

Hilarious deconstruction of "Clark Kent, You're Fired!" Superman cover [Progressive Ruin]

Gaiman Wins Characters from McFarlane [Briefs On The Outside via The Intermittent with more]
The comics blogosphere has lawyer types to explain this stuff for us.

Underworld Sequel Set [ICv2]
More Kate Beckinsale in dark leather, please. This item is a fine example of why Neilalien avoids pish-poshing the Marvel movie machine with all the secondary characters like Man-Thing, Iron Fist, Black Widow, etc. Not that it excites him. But you make a little film for $20 million, it takes in $40 million from the action fan base alone, you have marketing costs, but then you have international ticket sales and video/DVD sales. Each of these little flicks is $20 million profit potential per pop easily. It's how Hollywood works.

Susannah Breslin has a webcomic up [Artbomb]
Oh yeah, it's about bukkake.

Posted 28 February 02004 - Permalink

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Play the classic Dark Tower game [via Triptych Cryptic]

Posted 27 February 02004 - Permalink

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Thanks for the Blogday wishes, everyone! It's awesome and very touching.

People have been emailing some interesting meta-blog questions, mostly of the "What's the secret to a long-lived weblog?" variety (note that this isn't quite asking for tips to a good/successful weblog ;) ). Neilalien wishes he had a profoundly wise answer that didn't make him sound like a blowhard, or like an old lady on the Tonight Show with such an important collection of potato chips resembling American Presidents.

It seems true for any passion*, interest, work, creativity, hobby, etc.: If you can find that sweet spot where (1) you have a clear, concrete vision/goal of what you want to do, and then mix in (2) that cliche "the more you put into it, the more you get out of it", yet (3) you keep healthy boundaries and perspective with it (vs. addictive behavior, burn-out, taking up "too much" of Real Lifetime) while (4) keeping it internally fun and useful for yourself independent of any external thing-- if you can get there, that sweet spot can be an extremely effective and rewarding place from which to operate. Adding (5) a good social component (like the Dr. Strange Fan Cabal and the other webloggaz) seals the deal.

But hey. This weblog's longevity is also simply a function of the Fates putting Neilalien in an early-exposure/adopter place with weblogs- and then blessing him with four good, healthy, stable years of Real Life, and the luxury to be able to own computers and buy comics and enjoy geek leisure time.

Ultimately, if this weblog (and comic books, and comic book news on the internet) is able to continue providing a moment's nice distraction and outlet for its creator from This Orange-Alerted Modern World, then maybe it will continue to be populated with links and info for a little while longer. Now, before he jinxes it all to hell and ends up quitting tomorrow, Neilalien will shut up.

* Slipping the keywords passion, gibson and christ into your posts right now would be one of Neilalien's tips for a high-traffic weblog...

Neilalien wants to remember, and return all the link love (tell if he missed someone): [Alan David Doane (get well soon)] [Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat] [Bloggity Blog-Blog-Blog] [Flat Earth] [Franklin's Findings (get well soon)] [The Hurting (lol- those Doc books are worn- no mummification here- wanna help this site get some new Doc stories?)] [The Intermittent] [The Johnny Bacardi Show] [Peiratikos] [Pipeline column on CBR by Augie De Blieck Jr.] [Pmpknface] [Pop Culture Gadabout] [Thanator] [Thought Balloons] [Unqualified Offerings]

Reminder: MoCCA Fundraiser tonight in NYC [MoCCA's "Empty Walls" Housewarming Fundraiser]

Be right back. Neilalien's going to take the weekend off, relax, drink a Gibson or two.

Posted 27 February 02004 - Permalink

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Approved by the Cosmic Code Authority Today's Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist #1 claims that the cover of Strange Tales #179 says "Approved by the Cosmic Code Authority" instead of "Comics". It's true! [cover pic at Mile High] Neilalien thinks this is awesome.

The Beat surveys the comics weblogs [Pulse]
"Weirdo"'s better than "asshole", right?

MoCCA 02004 exhibitor list
Neilalien can't wait! Some people no likey- not small press enough, tables too pricey (be sure to read Evan Dorkin's response to them on p. 2).

Neilalien gets the clap from Alan David Doane
Uh, now wait just one minnizle... Ah, it's applause! Thanks for the Happy Blogday wishes!

The superhero story is about the use of super-powers, so the bit writes itself [Permanent Damage]
Time to deconstruct the formula.

Someone's holding out on us re: direct market wisdom [Flat Earth]
But it's okay, it's for health reasons. Maybe Neilalien will stop linking to direct market industry meta-items for his own health as well. PS to FE- Don't mess with the corporate branding and the palindromic mojo, man: please spell "Neilalien" correctly.

When the Print Hits the Fans [Wired via Comics Burrito]
When webcomics get no respect.

El Cazador #5 preview [Newsarama]
Also on the to-buy list today: Chabon's Escapist book, Amazing Spider-Man.

Posted 25 February 02004 - Permalink

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Gollum Four years blogging... can't give up our preciousss...




Posted 25 February 02004 - Permalink

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Ditko TCJ didn't deliver [Evan Dorkin via Franklin's Findings]

Let's make Jack Kirby a big fish in an even bigger pond by making comics more than about superheroes [Comics Commentary via Flat Earth]
Eh, Neilalien is probably badly mangling and misinterpreting Warren Ellis' ten-year-old "Kirby is shit" shock piece here, but he's sticking with this particular interpretation nonetheless, dammit.

A cartoonist is a designer [ADD 5Q for Paul Hornschemeier]

Adrian Tomine piece [ via the message boards]
The article says it's pronounced TO-meen-uh. Is that TO a TOO or a TOE?
Update: Comics Burrito writes in to say it's TOE, long o.

Neilalien comparing apples and oranges [Attentiondeficitdisorderly]
Re: his comments on that artcomics conversation in the Ditko TCJ. Ah but they are both the fruits of insularity! :)

Posted 24 February 02004 - Permalink

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Today, Attentiondeficitdisorderly wrote something in his blog that has placed a bee in Neilalien's bonnet, so another restless night in the orbital alien base it is...

"However, I'll admit that I was a little alarmed at the lockstep we all seem to be in regarding manga." [re: the uniform manga-direct-market-salvation interview responses in this Comixpedia article on the comics blogosphere]

Neilalien sees a lot of lockstep in the "comics blogosphere". Oh, Neilalien ain't callin' y'all out, so calm yourselves. And he isn't asserting right now that manga is or is not a fad, or that the direct market is or is not doomed and why or why not, etc.- his own views probably aren't that far off the lockstep. Struggling direct market comics shops + manga comic-product cash cow = Duh.

But Neilalien is so skeptical of claims that the comicsblogosphere is so "diverse" or "mature". As Neilalien has said, he sees echo-chamber, not ecosystem.

Now, Neilalien realizes that he's floated up a poppable balloon here- one can hear the chorus now of "the same comics blogosphere that includes Egon's snobnews and Bloggity's Aquamanfandom must be diverse!" (not to place those two particular sites at the opposing, withering ends of a continuum- he just wanted to link to a couple faves). And it looks like the Ditko TCJ is going to shake out some different and non-TCJ perspectives in interesting ways. There is diversity in comic book tastes, in what books get reviewed, be they caped crusader, manga, art or Archie. There's diversity in thinking and linking. Even an art comix blog bubbles up with a proper defense of superheroes every now and then.

But when it comes to industry meta-commentary, the best topic we got, there is near-zero diversity. The blogosphere sure has its industry crystal balls all in a nice little row, doesn't it? Maybe "lack of diversity" isn't the tightest angle- more a "we don't know all the answers" thing.

There's a whole frigging lot of lecturing by non-retailers to retailers Brian Hibbs and James Sime about retailing. Sure, Attentiondeficitdisorderly's recent response to Brian Hibbs (Hibbs bemoans the 'fickle teen dollar', a challenge every other capitalist in the world seems quite eager to take on) was absolutely linkworthy and needed to be aired- and Neilalien's not going to be guerilla-badgering-Pimping people on the subway to buy comics anytime soon (although he reads them on the subway). But frankly, we could use more retailer weblogs and columns telling us their issues (no pun intended). If there's a future to the comic book industry, these guys are a mission-critical-part of it. Brian Hibbs is teaching us why it's a challenge for the direct market to cash in on the manga cash cow- so please, take a breath before responding as if he's making excuses for running an Android's Dungeon.

Even Journalista, an industry insider, wrote on occasion that some of his views were in the minority even in the Fantagraphics offices- yet the blogosphere would link away with "Go. Read. Now." to his essays with high sycophancy and very little critical dissent. If all the responses to that are, "Duh, well that's because Journalista's correct/shaping the debate" then you're making the lockstep point. Are you all in Journalista's minority? Is groupthink Journalista's legacy? If there is a majority view, other views, who has really expounded them? The dwindling market by example? Not Newsarama's press-release parade nor ICv2. The industry itself is mired in finger-pointing and theories and number-crunching and failed CrossGen experiments, so please excuse Neilalien for doubting that the answers are cut-and-dry. If you can see the future, then why aren't you rich? Assuming publishers, creators, retailers, etc. don't want to Suck- then why is Idiocy often the only explanation the blogosphere comes up with for their actions? Where's the equal time? This is why Neilalien is so glad Hibbs has started Tilting At Windmills again and Sime has a column, and message board posts like this one from retailer Jim Hanley are around. Yet the "other sides of the stories" that Neilalien yearns to find and link to?- the rest of the comics weblogs line up for communal pile-on debunkings.

If there was ever a time for Neilalien to flatter himself and allow himself to play the Grandfather Card, this might be it. Two days from now will mark four years of his comics blogging at this URL (hint hint!). He is a total outsider- he's often joked that he's the only comics pundit, columnist, blogger, journalist, etc. who doesn't actually want to be in the industry. One of the reasons why he started this weblog was to start learning about the industry, and he hasn't stopped learning. Maybe he hasn't learned a damn thing. But then again, he's watched Warren Ellis quit superheroes and return how many times now? He's seen a lot of comic book websites come and go. There isn't a mature diversity in the sites right now- there's just more of them. He's watched several tech and political blogospheres evolve into cliques of crackpots, know-it-alls and scapegoaters- and fears another similar result. He's read every theory about the comic book industry that exists- the answers are not as clear as the blogosphere seems to think.

In fact, after some time, as is often the case with wisdom, skepticism and open minds: you tend to find out just how unclear things really are, just how little you know.

But hey, wishy-washiness doesn't make for a good blog, now does it... and lockstep doesn't make for a good blogosphere, too.

For a group of people who talk an awful lot about non-diverse stores filled with just superheroes, we sure are non-diverse in the Warren-Ellis-Forum party-line of theories and solutions we serve up (granted they probably haven't been tried much). Take it from someone who still (admittedly, snarkily) uses doubt quotes around "comics blogosphere" and has actively taken tiny steps here and there over time to keep himself just a little distanced from it (nothing personal): These are fair questions and check-ins: Did Attentiondeficitdisorderly get a legitimate peek at the Emperor today? And when he peeked, were we all wearing the same color panties? And how can such lockstep possibly be anything but a bad thing?

Update: Responses:

Unqualified Offerings: valid concerns re: groupthink; Brian Hibbs didn't sound all that stupid

Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat: eternal vigilance needed vs. groupthink

Posted 23 February 02004 - Permalink

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Superheroes are inherently uninteresting and beneath critical eyeballs? [The Hurting: he of that review of The Filth in the Ditko Comics Journal issue]
Answer: NO:
Unqualified Offerings
Motime Part 1; Motime Part 2
The Intermittent
Forager 23

Blake Bell reports that work on his Fantagraphics Ditko book has been delayed [TCJ Message Board]

Some major never-cancel Marvel icons like Iron Man getting the axe? [this week's Gutters via Franklin's Findings]
Yikes! Why publish a comic if the character's not headed for the movie payday?

Blogging About Comics: Online Coverage of Our Favorite Medium [Comixpedia via ADD]

Overview of Mike Mignola's career [Ninth Art]

Posted 23 February 02004 - Permalink

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Random Thoughts on the Ditko issue of The Comics Journal #258

Ditko Essays

"Ditko's Hands: An Appreciation" by Bill Randall

The title says it all. Four poisoned sandwiches.

"Beyond Atlas: Ditko's Supernatural Works" by Larry Rodman

Marvel offered deep escapism, but Ditko had deeper plans. Three poisoned sandwiches.

"Unmasking The Villain: Notes on Ditko, Kirby and Marvel-Style Plotting" by Craig Fischer

This essay argues that Kirby trumps Ditko because Amazing Spider-Man was overly formulaic while Fantastic Four's plots were good, diverse, and constantly introducing new characters, realms, etc. Then it relates the great story about how Kirby wanted the Him/Warlock story of Fantastic Four #66-67 to be a critique of objectivism, but Lee gutted it, which led to their falling out. Very interesting. "When I peel off the mask of the supervillain, all I see is the face of Ayn Rand, the philosopher-bitch who managed to outdo Yoko Ono and blast apart two of the 1960's most creative partnerships." Four poisoned sandwiches.

"Facing West: Ditko's Question in Mysterious Suspense #1" by Mari Wood

Excellent essay. Had you noticed that Vic Sage is always facing the left side of the page, against the flow, and only faces right when there's a gun in his back? Four poisoned sandwiches.

"Letter Of The Law: Ditko's Mr. A Era" by Donald Phelps

"[Ditko's] instances of costumed champions... are closer kin to the phantoms in The Christmas Carol than to Batman or Green Lantern. They are like armed images of conscience." Four poisoned sandwiches.

"All or Nothing: Ditko's Didactic Comics" by Jonathan Hastings

A discussion of a worldview that allows no discussion. Four poisoned sandwiches.

"Logical Mystery Tour: Ditko's Essays" by Rich Kreiner

Ditko's essays get ripped a new one- but they certainly provide a glimpse inside the man. Three poisoned sandwiches.

"Nightmares in Gray: Ditko's Warren Work" by Gregory Cwiklik

An appreciation of Ditko's work in Creepy and Eerie. Four poisoned sandwiches.

"Like an Acid Trip on Acid: Shade the Changing Man" by R. Fiore

An appreciation of "the last full flight of fancy of the commercial comics business's last wild, free man." Three poisoned sandwiches.

Other Notables

A grim survey of how ACTOR is only helping comics creators after they've died.

Sean T. Collins' letter critiquing News Watch is printed, with no less than four luminaries of the magazine lining up to say, "Well, I'm sorry you're such an idiot then." Which is basically how almost all the letters get answered. Neilalien has nothing against discussion/rebuttals and the personal passions of TCJ- but have you ever seen anything like this in Time? Yet this is the "magazine of record". It's as embarassing for the medium as anything in Wizard.

Big Dave Sim letter. Ditto.

An interesting set of reviews, including Queen and Country and Planetary/Batman. A review of The Filth by Tim O'Neil is interesting too, if you can get past two full columns! of mind-numbing blobbity blah that a talent working on Marvel/DC superheroes is slumming it and superheroes are "inherently uninteresting" (equal time: his review of The Golden Age Spectre Archives is a riot).

There's a conversation of artcomics people comparing themselves to other artcomics people. Yeah, because that's not as much of an Outsiders Beware circle jerk as needing to know Hal Jordan's origin story to appreciate New Frontier. Oh well, surely the regular TCJ crowd enjoyed it. Neilalien would have preferred a straight-up interview- if only the Joe Casey interview was with this Ditko issue instead- that would have been a nice complete package for him.

"Who Is Stan Lee?" by R.C. Harvey takes a look at Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book and Excelsior!, Lee's autobiography. Is anyone else getting the sense that this new meme of, "Sure, Stan Lee is worthy of admiration, but his comics were crappy, and now that we've deconstructed his 'origin tale' we can know the *correct* reason for admiring him: he was a great production manager!" sounds a lot like when the best compliment you can come up with for someone is that he was "punctual"?

Overall, Neilalien will have to say that this TCJ issue was a disappointment. What Ditko section there is, is neat to see, but it's not big enough and it's not enough about the red meat of Ditko, no essay reached five poisoned sandwiches. Geez, it feels like the million-word Dave Sim letter was a bigger portion of the magazine.

Posted 21 February 02004 - Permalink

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Yes, Neilalien's scanners are aware of the big events in 1602 #7 concerning Dr. Strange. As a Dr. Strange weblog and completist, you'd think 1602 would be a pivotal Neilalien event (as much as Thor: Vikings at least). And he loves the Marvel Universe and What If? stuff. And he would pay $10 for an ashcan of Krypto: Superdog if it had Doc in it- and pimp it, too. But he's just not plunking down the hefty monthly coin for this baby. Now please don't make the jump to, "Even Neilalien's not buying it! It must really suck!" (Although you might not be too far off. Shrug.) Let's just call this an example of how market forces, price point, lack of interest, format wars, obvious TPB-with-extras candidacy, let's-see-Gaiman's-vision-all-in-one-sitting, etc., can sometimes pile up even too much for Neilalien and leave an unfortunate, glaring hole in the Dr. Strange Weblog Record and Parade of Monthly Minutiae. For the record, he eventually stopped plunking down the hefty monthly coin and talking about Earth/Universe/Paradise X too. Neilalien advises you to wait for the trade along with him. He might have a big fat review for us then. Let's not lose our heads over this, okay?

She-Hulk writer Dan Slott pimps for artist Juan Bobillo's rendition of Doctor Strange in issue #2 [Silver Bullet Comic Books] [thanks to Pmpknface for the FYI]

The Great Marvel Cover-Up! [via Fanboy Rampage]
"Join our campaign to reverse Marvel's 'iconic' cover policy." Neilalien is on board! Scroll down for a great indictment of Ultimate Spider-Man covers.

Erik Larsen replaces Jim Valentino as Image Publisher [Comic Book Resources]
Sounds like the perception is that balls have been dropped re: lost studio relationships and sales?

Remembering Jack King Kirby [Pulse]

Too many new Batman villains from Hollywood wannabes, not enough sequential art risks and sweat and soul [Ninth Art]

A day in the life of a Comic Pimp [Comic Book Resources]

Brian Hibbs is responding to the 'bookstore/manga = salvation' critics [The Intermittent]

More Jennifer Garner in dark leather, please [ICv2]
Elektra movie starts shooting in May.

Posted 20 February 02004 - Permalink

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Might Dr. Strange be the next Marvel project for Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell? [Newsarama]

"It's all hackneyed set-up" Ultimate Fantastic Four review [Forager 23]
Also congrats to Forager for the Ditko TCJ essay, which was good readin' as well. Neilalien tried to email Forager in private, but Forager's email isn't working. But hey, praise should be public.

Posted 19 February 02004 - Permalink

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Epic Anthology cancelled [Comic Book Resources]
A travesty.

Arkansas agrees not to enforce harmful-to-minors display law [Newsarama]
First Michigan, now Arkansas. A good week for general rationality.

Warren Ellis to write Ultimate Fantastic Four [Newsarama]
So that explains those recent Bad Signals. He'll probably get a lot of heat from his minions for this- but here at Neilalien, an Ellis Marvel gig rekindles foolish hopes for an Ellis Dr. Strange.

More on that upcoming StormWatch #20 cover with word balloons [Newsarama]

Obit for Julie Schwartz- and the Silver Age [Permanent Damage]
And still more on comic book covers! Grant: Whatever the type, they should do their job, which is stand out and sell the book. Plus: self-publishing no longer a viable alternative; a graphic-novel only store in Montreal.

Robert Kirkman interview [Silver Bullet via Thought Balloons]

Letterer Bill Oakley passes away [Pulse]

'God of geeks' Scott Bukatman examines superheroes, pop culture in new book Matters of Gravity [Stanford University Report]

Innovating Superheroes [Alvise Mattozzi essay in Reconstruction: Studies In Contemporary Culture via Motime]
Neilalien's light reading for the weekend. :)

A. David Lewis on the Comic World News Forums:

1. The superhero field is not a genre; it's a maxi- or hybrid-genre. That is, considering both its breadth and how easily it absorbs other genres into its domain (superhero westerns, superhero romance, superhero drama, etc.), I think relegating it to a simple genre status is misleading.
2. The I/SP field is almost (note: almost) as insular and imposing to a first time reader -- and exclusively I/SP fans are no more or less rabid and unforgiving than exclusively superhero fans. The two communities are much more like each other in practice (if not in content) than it may seem.

Posted 18 February 02004 - Permalink

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Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem questioned by police in intimidation campaign []
This has been your Journalista Replacement Link Of The Day.

Toon Titan Disney Rejects Offer From Comcast [AP on Yahoo News]
This has been your Splash Replacement Link Of The Day.

Marvel Comics remembers Julie Schwartz [Comic Book Resources]
This has been your ComicGeek Replacement Link Of The Day.

Tony Isabella speaks [ADD's 5 Questions]
This has been your Comic Book Galaxy Replacement Link Of The Day.

Artificial intelligence art festival calling for entries [Macworld UK]
This has been your Robot Wisdom Replacement Link Of The Day.

A short essay on coprophagy [Susannah Breslin on Identity Theory]
This has been your Reverse Cowgirl Replacement Link Of The Day.

Them websites, they come and go, and 'tis folly to replace.

Drew Geraci starts telling his Steve Ditko story
This has been your Neilalien Link Of The Day.

Posted 17 February 02004 - Permalink

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Michigan's county prosecutors agree not to enforce comic-retailer-threatening sex display law [Newsarama]
Sex material display law put on hold [Detroit News]

This week's Lying In The Gutters is reporting that comic book inker Drew Geraci will relate tomorrow on his weblog a story about the possibility that Steve Ditko could have worked on a title for CrossGen's Code 6 imprint

Searching for middle ground between boring non-selling pin-up covers and retro-corny cover speech balloons [Ninth Art]

Chuck Dixon on pirate stories and the potential of the non-superhero straight-genre comic book [Pulse]

Newsstand market left enthusiast-niche direct market high-and-dry with aging clientele [today's Artblog (no permalinks)]

University physics class uses superhero comic books to illustrate principles [Science Blog]

Posted 16 February 02004 - Permalink

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St. Valentine's Day is Link Love Day

It's an annual tradition, now in its third year. Neilalien sees who the top referrers to this site were over the past year (Feb to Feb), and thanks them for their linky love, and tries to send some back. So without further ado, the top 15:

  1. Google and Yahoo searches (unchanged)
  2. Journalista
  3. Franklin's Findings
  4. Bloggity Blog-Blog-Blog (new on list)
  5. Alan David Doane (new) (includes when his blog was on Comic Book Galaxy)
  6. Big Sunny D (new)
  7. Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat (new)
  8. Pop Culture Gadabout
  9. Motime Like The Present (new)
  10. LinkMachineGo
  11. Flat Earth
  12. Unqualified Offerings (new)
  13. Johnny Bacardi Show (new)
  14.'s Links Page
  15. Grotesque Anatomy (new)

Neilalien was thinking this year that the tradition of including search engines on this list is unfortunate- should have just kept it to the top referring weblogs, keep the fun for us little folk blogging in our dens and cubicles. But Google searches are an undeniable enormous driver of traffic to this site, since people look here for Doc information. Top searches: variations of "doctor strange", and "stipperella/'pam anderson'". Stan Lee's project with her has been a boon to this site's traffic! Yahoo's search doesn't have big Google branding anymore, but the page still says, "Search Technology provided by Google" so they stay combined.

Analysis: The major change from Year One to Two was a reduced dependence on search engines, weblog directories, and The Chicken for traffic, and more true weblogs. Now the trend from Year Two to Three is the infusion of a more topical set of pop culture and comic book weblogs. Excelsior!

A great big humbled thanks to everyone who sees value on this site enough to read and link.

Posted 14 February 02004 - Permalink

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Current BookScan bookstore sales numbers make the direct market look good [Brian Hibbs Tilting At Windmills]
Big manga warnings too: the coming glut of crap, bookstores can return them but the direct market can't, notoriously fickle teen demographic, no one wants mangazized western comics, manga selling like a periodical with big initial release sales but providing no backlist economic engine like TPBs.
Update: Blistering Attentiondeficitdisorderly response

Alan Moore joins Cockrum tribute book [Pulse]

"Dave Cockrum was doing great things in comics when few great things could be found..." While Cockrum's condition has improved somewhat, he is still hospitalized with neither income, medical insurance, nor royalties from the characters he created for Marvel.

Walk away from an ongoing series when a good creative team gets replaced by the same old churn [Ninth Art]

Update: The Roger Stern Message Board is now in a new and spyware-free home

Neilalien-Approved Reviews

Epic Anthology #1
So, Neilalien's been pimpin' this baby, what'd he think? He liked it! Sleepwalker was the weakest of the three- it just couldn't overcome being all build-up about a character Neilalien cares nothing about, and the art's not Neilalien's style. Young Ancient One was fantastic. Fun kung fu action. Did the Freeze spell freeze the flying bugs too? In many ways, the Ancient One was Dr. Strange's Aunt May- so maybe this is a good Trouble for Doc fans? Strange Magic was a great surprise- and Dr. Strange fans will really enjoy it. They should enjoy this whole book. These are three decent stories that need to be told to completion!

Optic Nerve #9 [ADD 5 out of 5]
NYC scanners indicate that at this time, you'll have to go to Jim Hanley's Universe for this book- Neilalien went 0-2- and at big stores- looking for it until he went there. But Midtown Comics had the Ditko TCJ out already, so the money got spread around this week.

Secret War #1
Hmmm, couldn't quickly find a positive review of this book. Guess Neilalien's marching to his own drummer on this one. He really enjoyed it! A great premise, and a great way to goose the superhero genre: through its economics. Dark n' gritty was the way to go with the art in this case, but maybe not painted. Nothing against Earth/Universe/Paradise X, 1602, or JLA/Avengers, but this is the kind of love note to the Marvel Universe fan that Neilalien can get into. If only Doc could be involved, but it wouldn't make sense with the tech orientation.

Coup D'Etat: Sleeper
This book is nice if compartmentalized as a funky Sleeper one-shot- but Neilalien's not inspired to get any other of the Wildstorm-Universe issues.

Invincible #8 [Fourth Rail]
Neilalien loved Walker's art and was fearing a big art change, but those fears have subsided. The cliffhangers keep the pages turning, just as Stan Lee taught. Neilalien agrees with this review re: Kirkman should just jump in with both feet and his own wacko muse and leave the JLA, Rorschach, genre parody, etc. alone. This might be Neilalien's favorite book now that Sleeper is between seasons. This generation's Zot!

Speaking of Sleeper, Neilalien's looking for a recommendation for his now-unused Sleeper dollars. Maybe Human Target? A store in NYC has all of the issues of this series just sitting there to pick up.

Posted 13 February 02004 - Permalink

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Happy day: Returning mini-stories, text, speech balloons, etc. to comic book covers [Fanboy Rampage quotes Micah Wright (you'll need Delphi Membership to see the source)]

Grumble: More about the new Question being firmly in Superman orbit [Jim Lee interview on Pulse]

MoCCA getting new, larger space [MoCCA via Pulse]
Empty Walls Fundraiser on Friday 27 February with drinks and snacks! NYC rocks. Hellboy exhibit on tap, too.

Daydreaming of the ideal comic book shop [Subsurface Communications via Grotesque Anatomy]

Spider-Man Cover Archive [via Boing Boing]

Scanners are picking up new Ditko issues of The Comics Journal present in NYC...

Posted 12 February 02004 - Permalink

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Dr. Strange: Strange Days Indeed [Comics 101 via Thought Balloons]

Update: Neilalien's just starting to get into the hilariously excellent television show Arrested Development, and the above article caught something he totally missed! Brooklynite Jessica Walter, who plays the mother, played Morgan LeFay in the Dr. Strange TV movie! Ha!

Posted 11 February 02004 - Permalink

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Great pic of a young Ringo Starr with a Ditko-covered comic [Fred Hembeck (no permalinks, 10 Feb entry)] [cover of Mysteries of Unexplored Worlds #3, April 01957]

Posted 10 February 02004 - Permalink

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The Marvel Universe Appendix has created a jaw-dropping Dr. Strange Characters Page! Excelsior! [via The Defenders Message Board]

Epic Anthology #1 with Young Ancient One and Strange Magic coming this week [Diamond Shipping List]
Also out this week for the Doc fan: the Thor: Vikings TPB.

Holding Out For A Hero [Ninth Art]
Superheroes are America's gods for times of uncertainty.

Watchmen movie poster from another dimension [Julian's Lounge via Unqualified Offerings]

Neilalien defended, microcultural struggles, propping up capitalism not on the to-do list [In Sequence]

Posted 9 February 02004 - Permalink

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Julie Schwartz has passed [Newsarama] [Mark Evanier]

Posted 9 February 02004 - Permalink

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It's a wonderful gem of the internet, slowly growing, a concept that is pure gold: a Roger Stern Message Board, and the classy legend himself participates. And folks, he's talking about Dr. Strange too. So why hasn't Neilalien linked there yet? Why the trepidation now in his voice? Because the message board is Network54, and uses EntryPass- and as Neilalien understands it, EntryPass is spyware [just one citation of many]. Ads are reality, popups annoy- but evil spyware is something that Neilalien just cannot abide. He avoids linking to anything that would lead his readers to inadvertently install spyware. (It's also one of the reasons why he hasn't linked directly to the John Byrne Message Board.) But maybe that's nannyism. His readers can make those decisions for themselves. So here it is, with a "Warning: Spyware" label: The Roger Stern Message Board. Hopefully it can move to a new and better home someday. A post by the Board's majordomo from last night addresses this issue positively. Enjoy.

Posted 8 February 02004 - Permalink

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Dr. Strange costume hanging in Isotope Comics A Dr. Strange costume hangs in a corner of legendary store Isotope Comics [click on the pic to see a close-up, click here for a pic showing context]

Al Stewart album cover


Be sure you've checked out the cover to Al Stewart's 01974 album Past, Present And Future [Amazon]

The readers are always emailing in and activating Neilalien's scanners. You guys rock.

Posted 7 February 02004 - Permalink

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Confessions of a Superhero Fan: Thoughts on genre-specific fandom [Subsurface Communications by Ed Cunard on Comic World News via Grotesque Anatomy]
Neilalien is happy to be a part.

Superheroes vs. the World [Franklin's Findings]
Geek culture stores are good, more realistic than the all-comic-shop ideal, still have room for growth.

Superheroes defended: So, Why Superhero Comics? [Full Bleed via Fanboy Rampage]

Posted 5 February 02004 - Permalink

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Let's pour a stiff drink, catch up on some links, enjoy the recently-arrived Journal of MODOK Studies #2 and #3- turn this crappy day around for Neilalien...

Superheroes As Horror [Bruce Baugh via Attentiondeficitdisorderly]

[T]he early Marvel heroes existed in a rich and vibrant context, a world gone mad... It's quite possible that what the supers field needs now is less calculation and more late-night, last-minute grabbing of pop culture fears and doubts and shoving them in any which way. Much as they loved the field, the calm, enthusiastic rationalizations of folks like Roy Thomas and Mark Gruenwald ended up embalming what was once part of a vivid, dynamic, highly disorganized scene.

Baugh also says that Grant Morrison's got the right mojo, mirroring Warren Ellis from four years ago:

Grant has the single vital ingredient for good superhero comics- unrestrained, childlike madness.

Lame 'press release' just in time for all that Disney/Pixar split buzz: Marvel has met with Pixar about makin' movies [Hollywood Reporter via Newsarama]
Marvel wants a whopping 15 movie franchises cranking. Doctor Strange not mentioned.

More on Marvel/DC "superhero" trademark co-ownership [Briefs On The Outside]

"Do people really think [the problem with comics] is because this guy over here is only interested in the Flash?" [good Legomancer]

Snob v. Fanboy indie-rock syndrome hurts art comics [Intermittent]
Breadth of genre is a matter of perspective [Intermittent]

From France: Unstoppable manga machine destroys minds, cultures, indigenous comics industries [ via Bookslut]
"For a long time we thought manga was just a fad that would disappear, but we were wrong..."

Eight moments that show what comics do best [Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers]
Love the Invisible Man blood scene from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2.

Neilalien's got a lot of catching up to do re: Motime's recent essential wave of Watchmen blogging [bunch of links to be collected here]

Joan of Arcadia TV show satisfies superhero fix [Peiratikos]

Walking Dead #5 preview [Newsarama]

Mike Mignola talks Hellboy [Comic Book Resources via Bloggity]

The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man comic book [X-Entertainment via Progressive Ruin]

Robin- What have I done to you? [LinkMachineGo]
Hilarious panel of what Batman first thinks when told everyone he's ever touched is doomed.

Reviews of recent purchases that Neilalien agrees with, so he doesn't have to write reviews himself:

Point Blank [ADD]
Essential Sleeper prequel. [By the way: Review of #12 Sleeper finale]

Wanted #2 [ADD]
It used to be that you only needed greed to make a supervillain.
At same link: The Walking Dead #4

Amazing Spider-Man #503 [Bloggity]
Don't know what's worse for the Dr. Strange fan: mystical occurences in the Marvel Universe and Doc is AWOL, or when a character says like a hundred times, "Doc is not here..." as Spidey and Loki do in this issue.

Posted 4 February 02004 - Permalink

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Neilalien's Response To The Journalista Interview

Neilalien massively, maliciously maligned and misrepresented [Alan David Doane interviews Journalista's Dirk Deppey]

So in the "What The Fuck?!" of the year, Journalista, in a recent interview with Alan David Doane, has oddly chosen this Neilalien website as its poster child for "the uphill battle against stupidity" that Journalista wages against Direct Market narrowness- and describes Neilalien's position as the total opposite of what it actually is.

Neilalien has never said, thought, proposed or expounded upon a theory that Direct Market comic shops are or should or ought to be for superhero comics only.

Neilalien has never asked creators, publishers, distributors and retailers or anyone to accept Direct Market narrowness-until-die-off as a good thing.

It's as simple as that. He wants as comics-diverse a Direct Market as any comics pundit.

The challenge is how to achieve that more-comics-diverse Direct Market. The only thing Neilalien's expounded upon is if your idea for achieving a more-comics-diverse Direct Market is anything like Journalista's- trying to shame-blame the hardcore Marvel/DC superhero customer to buy comics they don't want- then you're seriously gonna need a better idea.

Several criticisms of Journalista, The Comics Journal, and that artcomix community so in love with its own assholeness and iconoclasm that it undercuts its own noble mission, can be found on the Neilalien website, but here's the relevant one to this interview: Journalista observes an automobile industry going out of business only building cherry-red convertibles, and a network of industry showrooms going out of business only selling cherry-red convertibles, and who does it blame for this situation? The cherry-red convertible hardcore aficionado customer.

Is that not the biggest whiff-miss of all comics-punditry time? Only in comics!: Do you think that when only 1,000 people show up for a U.S. Major League Soccer game, soccer pundits blame those passionate 1,000? On the contrary, they're thanked profusely for keeping the thing alive. But blaming that 1,000 is the best idea Journalista's got.

It would be great if the superhero enjoyer-consumer activistically bought a wider range of books than "a detective love story... with spandex!" and Saved Comics- but that dog won't run. Like a highly-specialized finch-beak, the Direct Market environment has naturally selected only the hardcorest of superhero fandom. It's pointless to urge them to Buy Something Else, and why should anyone buy something they don't want?- they do not love Comics as a Medium the way the pundits do. They yell "Stop buying crap!" but the micropopulation who likes the "crap" is all that remains. It's like demanding a finch start eating a different nut than the one for which its strange beak has evolved. The population currently remaining that's into comics is so small anyway, that having them spread their meager dollars out is merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic. Going after the "fanboys" might satisfy Journalista's frustrations, but it's just not going to be an effective strategy.

One of the few topics that Neilalien has differed from the comicspundit party line is that he speaks out against Blame The Direct Market Superhero Customer, defends the superhero enjoyer from calls to Stop Buying Crap, even sometimes Stop Your Habitual Buying depending on the tone, etc. Why? Because the fact that the Superhero Enjoyer is the only comicbook consumer remaining in the Direct Market is not the cause of comics' current state- it's a symptom of the Marvel/DC/Diamond/Direct Market destination-nichestore monopoly that once rescued comics, but now relegates them to the slow death. They just happen to be the micropopulation that the industry never abandoned, by being the micropopulation motivated enough to actually walk into the modern Android's Dungeon.

Neilalien has never asserted or believed for one moment that the Direct Market should be superhero-only. If Journalista believes that, then Journalista has only skimmed this website and gotten its sensibilities completely wrong- apparently a fairly common situation, just ask Stuart Moore. Despite his distant linkblog style and the corporate superhero image in the banner, the Weblog Record should be quite clear: Neilalien has probably linked to more items on this weblog about/against Direct Market Non-Diversity than any other topic besides Dr. Strange, from Warren Ellis' Sermon On The Mount, December 02000 on down to The Comics Pimp- expressing alarm and sadness often as direct market shops diversify not into different comics and manga, but into Franklin's geek-culture stores, leaving comics in the far corner, a ghetto within a ghetto.

What Neilalien has asserted is that if you want to Save/Grow Comics, admonishing the 200,000 superhero hardcore people still in comics to Buy Something Nonsuperhero (and even then, the admonishers never seem to urge them to buy the indie genre sci-fi, action, horror, fantasy, etc., that they might like, but books like Chris Ware's, another big whiff-miss) is not the answer- the answer is changing the current system so it attracts more of the 250 million other people out there who are not currently reading comics to enter the system and buy nonsuperhero! And not decrease superhero's absolute numbers, but add so much nonsuperhero growth that superhero is rendered the lower percentage of all comics sales that a costumed-vigilante genre should be. Straightforward enough, but Journalista has a mental block in place. In no way does this mean or lead to the concept that the direct market should be superhero-only- in fact, exactly the opposite! It's a call for a more diverse direct market that serves more different kinds of consumers side by side! Exactly the opposite of what Journalista thinks Neilalien means.

But Real Outreach? No! It must be so much more comfy for the snobcamp to keep the fanboy targeted- to feel bigger than the adjacent nerd, rather than do difficult outreach in the real mainstream world that thinks the snob is just as nerdy. This is a political wing and wacky logic that asks them why they keep buying only superheroes, exhorts them to "stop buying crap", calls on them to "pave the way", puts the Outreach label on Sequential Tart's booth inside a comic book convention. The happily-serviced cherry-red convertible customers, under no delusion that a showroom catering only to its own tastes would survive, are looking around at the closing showrooms and asking, "Where are the green SUVs and blue sedans for other potential customers?"

In the entry Journalista linked to in the interview, Neilalien suggested to Ed Cunard (it wasn't that personal, let's say it was suggested to the comic snob in general) that bullying superhero enjoyers to buy something else (who are under no desire nor obligation to buy anything else besides superheroes until they die off) would not be as effective for improving the fortunes of alt/art/indy/smallpress comic books as outreach and marketing for these books to people outside of the superhero reading population. Simple enough. But Journalista equates that with (a) "expounding upon the theory that comics shops are for superheroes, while bookstores are for everything else", and (b) "asking creators, publishers, distributors and retailers to accept [the dwindling direct market as the superhero-reading population ages and dies off] as a good thing". So the question is how the fuck does this weblog's post actually say those things, or even lead to them. And who would be moronic enough to think (b) anyway? Geez Louise, give this website a little more credit. Journalista essentially says that Neilalien wants retailers to fail, or that this website nurtures attitudes that puts time limits on shops, that Neilalien wants you to "accept as a good thing" that a retailer or creator could no longer feed his/her family. Wrong and disgusting, at best. Going by the interview, Journalista must be so enamored with its blame-the-reader ineffective bottom-up approach to monopoly-breaking that it perceives any deviation or questioning of it on this website as fanboy-consumer "protectionism" and exhorting fanboy publishers and retailers to continue catering to only that one shrinking taste and keep the Direct Market nondiverse- it's easy and understandable to see a difficult, interconnected web of Android-Dungeon-ism, but that's a bad confusion and logic leap.

Targeting Neilalien in this interview makes no sense. If you're going to have an uphill battle, make sure you have the right target: fanboy retailers, and fanboy big publishers, who only sell Widget A as they go out of business, instead of expanding to sell other B-Z widgets too. If Journalista had a point to make about this concept out there that direct market stores ought to be just for superheroes, why link here to show a prime example? Why not link to Motime Like The Present's recent play with it, or Warren Ellis on Bad Signal immediately after? Much better links- and then call it a "dangerous musing", since Neilalien and everyone else didn't "expound" upon anything- and then make the point why it's a dangerous path to take, if that's what you believe. That would have been a lot tighter.

But we didn't get that this time, much to Neilalien's disappointment.

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Attentiondeficitdisorderly defends Neilalien, maps out the difference of opinion, seeks closure

Neilalien defended, microcultural struggles, propping up capitalism not on the to-do list [In Sequence]

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Epilogue: Journalista now tries to place a halo over its own head, and saying "Neilalien is taking this shit way too personally" (the eternal retort of the bully after they've kicked you- lighten up!), and people should be able to disagree with Neilalien "without rancor" (and also some tangent of hypocrisy that this website using the term "snob" is such terrible name-calling but Journalista using "fanboy" and worse is not).

Everyone is free to fabulously disagree with and critique Neilalien's positions- Neilalien will even link to them- but please, disagree with and critique the positions Neilalien actually holds, and don't get his positions wrong "by almost 180 degrees". It's a very different and more accurate thing to say "I believe Neilalien's position will lead to X" than "Neilalien believes X."

It can natually be upsetting to be mischaracterized in the press- and even the aloof Neilalien can be moved to respond with a little thunder of passion and conviction. If you don't want a response with "rancor", don't start shit. But the skin is thick, no one's being hysterical or taking anything too personally, Neilalien sleeps well. Misrepresentations like this happen a million times a day, and much worse than this- ask anyone who's ever been mentioned in the press, ask Steve Ditko.

What Journalista's doing here is not any kind of real interaction or debate- it's what the internet lingo calls being a troll. And Neilalien has a strict Don't Feed The Trolls editorial policy, so that's the end of this feeding. Find someone else to be the "anti-Dirk" and the "other parent"- if such a someone else can be found among Journalista's comicsblogospheric sycophants. Neilalien has learned a lot via Journalista, a lot about the sad state of the comicbook industry, and a lot via disagreeing with Journalista and hopefully becoming a better thinker and writer. But if all that's coming from the other side are hatchet jobs, then Neilalien must choose healthier and more nourishing conversations and binaries and time-uses than this, and Journalista's burned the bridge at this point.

Posted 4 February 02004 - Permalink

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