Neilalien : A Doctor Strange Fansite : A Comic Book Weblog  

Dr. Strange in Daredevil #65: Initial Thoughts

What Neilalien liked:

What Neilalien disliked:

Posted 30 September 02004 - Permalink

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Hulk Fetus

Hulk Fetus. Sold at Fetopia. Image snagged from 4-Color Review. Via Pipeline.

Update: Interview with Fetopia creator [4-Color Review]

Iraq visual language survival guides for military personnel [Boing Boing] [chart 1; chart 2] [via 24 Hour Pixel People]

Posted 28 September 02004 - Permalink

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Essential Dr. Strange Volume 2 spotted

Found on Amazon for March 02005 [found by Otto's Coffee Shop]
Essential Defenders too.

Issue #4 of Sean Wang's excellent Runners: Bad Goods is now available

The Fortress of Solitude author Jonathan Lethem working for Marvel? [Popp'd]
Kavalier & Clay's Chabon too!

Infantino pulls back from suit with DC [Newsarama]

Do relaunches of old cancelled titles ever work? Wasting good new ideas by attaching them to old characters [Ninth Art]
Where do Marvel and DC go from here? [Gutterninja]

We're all geeks about something; it's nothing to be ashamed of [Ringwood]

Andrea Jespersen and Ben Woodeson art exhibit in Copenhagen 'examines and describes the widespread phenomenon of superheroes', 'meta-reflects on our need to believe in the existence of superpowers and superheroes', 'deals with cultural and ethical questions that are part of the debate about the possession of supernatural powers' [] [via Thought Balloons]

More: The Hawk and The Dove #3 [Polite Dissent]
The Hawk and The Dove #4 [Polite Dissent]
Ditko's not doing the art on the book after #2, but these posts are great reading.

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Ex Machina linkage
Press hit: Political thriller soars with a superhero spin [Honolulu Star-Bulletin]
Glowing review of #4 [Silver Bullet Comic Books]
Artist Harris the star; hoping for a quicker payoff from Vaughn [Johnny Bacardi Show]
Inaccurate portrayal of local gummint; superhero trappings should have just been left behind [Intermittent]

Neilalien thought Ex Machina #1 was great- a Wow for the last page. But #2 and #3 dipped- good smart stuff, but slow-going. Like a strong spice, it's hard to add just a little bit of superhero. Once you add it to the recipe, no matter how smart or good the book is otherwise, if there's no explodo, people naturally get bored and restless. It's not just superhero per se- Queen & Country gets slow if there's too many issues between action/missions/shootings. Neilalien's liking the use of a different speech balloon/font when Hundred talks to machines. #4's big reveal (not that it could have been anyone else) (and art discussion, actually) kept his interest/curiosity alive for another ish.

Posted 27 September 02004 - Permalink

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PayPal to start levying fines for gambling, porn, as of last Friday [Reuters]

Research: [PayPal Mature Audiences Policy; standard; nice and vague] [Mark Perkel Rantz from June; with many links, including one to The Comics Journal's Message Board, so maybe people have covered this already; of course that TCJ MB link is long dead] [ with scary news and alternatives/options] [Seebach Exhibit 7 recently went with, recommends BitPass] [BitPass; micropayment model; but surely they must all have "objectionable content" rules to protect themselves though?] [TalkLeft reinstated by Paypal after account limited re: beheading video link] [Daily Pundit uses the Amazon Honor System; "so far, they have not attempted to dictate the content of any blogs"]

It sounds like the blogosphere has already had several problems with PayPal's Terms of Service- and now they're fining. Implications are clear. If you are in the comics blogosphere and using PayPal for site support/donations, you might have your account frozen or closed if you review any "offensive material". Webcartoonists using PayPal might be fined $500 if one's art is considered "offensive". Online comics retailers using PayPal might need to start watching what they sell (as if they weren't already). Scary stuff.

Posted 27 September 02004 - Permalink

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Where is the Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment Graphic Novel in Marvel chronology? [Marvel Chronology Project MB] [via Stern Talk]

Judge: DC owns the trademark to "kryptonite", it can be protected from dilution by Kryptonite Bicycle Locks [Newsarama]

Matching Wanted's villains with possible DC analogues [Howling Curmudgeons] [via Near Mint Heroes]
Howling's analysis includes this great tidbit: The villains in Wanted live in a world without superheroes, so they're taken from DC's more mythological archtype type villains, not from Marvel's interior-conflict villains who 'depend more on their superheroes'.

Neilalien's too old and crusty and 'let-'em-sink-or-swim' a weblogger to fall for the "Where's the love?" stuff (nah- he's a softie), but he did actually have some items from the wonderful Tony Isabella that got lost in bookmarkdom:

Posted 24 September 02004 - Permalink

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Dr. Strange in Avengers #502 Dr. Strange Sighting: Avengers #502
Bad news, Neilalienistas! You know that "Avengers Disassembled" "event" we've been avoiding like the plague? Now we can't! Doc appears at the end of Avengers #502 (one of his many classic useless last-panel Watcher-like cameos), and he seems to know exactly what's going on with the whole Jack of Hearts explodin' Ant Man dyin' Tony Stark drunkin' Ultron pissin' She-Hulk rampagin' Kree invadin' Hawkeye quiver explodin' mess. "The magics are being abused." Maybe Bendis has given Doc a neat role and a couple good lines in this dance? We shall see. Can't be any worse than making Spider-Man and Wolverine Avengers!

Update: From Silver Bullet Comics' Sunday Slugfest about the book:

Into reality pops Dr. Strange. Dr. Strange doesn't exactly say the following to the Avengers. I've embellished it quite a bit. "Hey, I know you guys have been under attack for the past few hours and your membership has been either wiped out or mind-controlled to the point of having your reputations disgraced for life, but didn't it occur to any of you that this assault on your selves and senses is magically based? Did I have to come all the way here from my brand spanking new miniseries just to inform you of this? How annoying!" Dr. Strange is much more formal in the actual comic book. But this is basically what he's saying.

Posted 23 September 02004 - Permalink

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Charlton Spotlight Magazine
Spotted this new magazine in the comics shop this week. When, pray tell, will they get to a Ditko issue? And can they pull one off without a big interview with the man himself? From their website: Steve Ditko Charlton Checklist.

Retailers lament unavoidable manga glut o' doom [ICv2] [ICv2]
Response: Don't be so quick to predict doom for a product line just because *you* can't make it work [ICv2]

Complete disregard for continuity causes reader to abandon corporate superheroes in protest [Franklin's Findings]

Fun praise for Marvel Boy [Jog The Blog]

Posted 23 September 02004 - Permalink

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Brubaker talks Sleeper; challenges notions of accessibility and new readers [Newsarama]

When you're doing monthly comics and continuing storylines, there's an inevitable amount of needing to know what came before. I always try to make stuff as new reader friendly as possible, but what I've noticed is that there's no amount of new reader friendliness that you can do that's enough for people...
I decided that I want Sleeper to read more like a story. So, I decided that's what I was going to do. I'm going to write for the audience that's actually reading it- the readers that are there every month, as well as the readers who pick it up in trade form. I'm not going to write for this mythical 'new readership' that's not picking up the book. That new readership can buy the trades, and they'll be in print for a long, long, long time. If people hear that Sleeper is good, they go and pick up the trade...
Anyway, that's a lot of what I've thought about lately- let's not be in denial about some mythical new readership. When I saw the orders for the first issue of Sleeper, I realized that we were doing a little bit better than we did the first time out, but obviously; the bulk of that series' readership was coming through the trade paperbacks. Let's not insult those readers then. Let's appreciate the readers we have, by not talking down to them...
That's how it's supposed to be with episodic fiction. When you tune in to The Shield in the middle of the season, you've missed everything that's come before. They don't recap it in an expository dialogue scene while they're driving around in the first five minutes of each episode. I would hate it if they did...
I just feel like, especially with what I'm doing at WildStorm, my idea of doing a mature comic was to do a comic that demanded a mature amount of intelligence from the reader, which is not really the most commercial way to put out anything- to demand that they pay a certain amount of attention and maybe re-read something... But that's what I would want as a reader- I want something that demands maturity on an intelligence level, not just because it has swearing and nudity. Well, I still want the swearing and nudity- I'm all over that, but that's where I'm coming from. I'm respecting the intelligence of my readers. If you like what's going on with this book, go buy the trades- get the back story, and the full story. Don't expect me to hand it to you.

Posted 23 September 02004 - Permalink

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Strange #1 Reviews Storage Space

Pop Culture Gadabout
Johnny Bacardi Show
Savage Critic One Two
Bloggity Blog-Blog-Blog
Clea's Cave
Critiques on Infinite Earths
Line of Fire at Silver Bullet Comics

Posted 22 September 02004 - Permalink

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Where to buy the Arthur Magazine with Grant Morrison ("the 21st century's Philip K. Dick") (and "why Johnny Cash went to Folsom Prison" hmmm...) (Paypal makes it impulse!) [Arthur #12]
Grant Morrison exasperated that comics market can't grok symbolic content (also: comics market polarizing, top tenners or cellar dwellers; 360epm too) [Gutters]
Hey Morrison you snob: we grok it when we feel it [Commonplacebook]

Extensive treatments: The Hawk and The Dove #1 [Polite Dissent]
The Hawk and The Dove #2 [Polite Dissent]

Eddie Campbell interviewed; more about his Graphic Novel Manifesto [Graphic Novel Review] [via Comic Book Galaxy]
Breaking apart the comic books = superheroes equation/perception is desperately needed. But that battle is not going well. Words/Names have power, so maybe conceding that fight and moving on, calling things with adolescent superheroes in them 'comic books' and sequential art free of them 'graphic novels', will improve the situation. Just this morning, Neilalien was disposing of some utilized airplane motion discomfort bags to his resident sanitation engineer, so maybe it will work.

New Middle Eastern superhero comics, "the first superheroes of their kind", present positive role models, positive image of region, the West [Boston Globe] [via Thought Balloons]
It's a happy place where all would live in harmony, if not for that villainous Army of "Zios". Loud and clear.

When Fanboys Go Wrong [Comics Fairplay] [via The Beat]

Emmy congratulations to Arrested Development, one the best shows on television
Looking at the bios on the official site, Neilalien just noticed that Jessica Walter's credits don't include the Dr. Strange TV movie. Not a career high point.

Fans flood Internet with grief at blogger's death [Chicago Sun-Times]
Bloggers mourn a lost brother [Red Herring]
Condolences to Aaron's family and friends. The way Neilalien sees it, despite claims to the contrary, was and will always remain a comics blog.

Posted 20 September 02004 - Permalink

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Stephen Strange in Strange #1

Strange #1: Some Initial Comments

Stephen Strange is a brilliant, arrogant medical student. Through coalescing events, he finds himself in the six-week medical program in Tibet of Dr. Milius, tending the medical needs of a village and learning alternative medicine. One of the villagers he helps is a traumatized boy named Wong, who responds miraculously to his treatment. He meets a mysterious Ancient-One type man who asks him meta questions about his life. At the end of six weeks, Strange promises to return to Tibet after his internship back in America is done. Milius is impressed with him, and wistfully, pessimistically hopes that out of all the students who vow to return, he's the one who actually keeps the promise.

Three years later, Strange graduates, with an offer to work at a boutique medical clinic pandering to the rich and famous. Dr. Milius tries to convince him to use his great talent in a more meaningful way, and calls him a disappointment for shooting for money and 'success'. They have a confrontation, and Strange says a nasty little curse to Milius that ends up happening, with Milius killed in a car crash shortly after. Strange is filled with regret and remorse. A mysterious woman, who has Clea-like front hair 'tails' in one panel, observes in the background at the confrontation, the crash, and the funeral.

Another three years pass, and Strange already has his own booming cosmetic surgery practice. He lives the rich playboy life, but has some doubts that he made the right choice compared to his friend's clinic work with the homeless. He's never returned to Tibet. Strange and his friend are in Switzerland in a cabin with babes. The issue ends with Strange having a bad skiing accident.

The Art
The art services the story, but there's nothing about it that wows. It's got that Top Cow style, with those empty wispy marble eyeballs. Which can work, if it's in a lush, bright and smooth piece like Fathom- but this art feels thin, dark and choppy. It didn't work for Neilalien at all. The story is a lot of dialogue and talking heads, so there's not too much for the art to 'show'. The one thing that the art does show to the max is Dr. Milius' car crash, but it feels like a plodding three pages of slow motion. The car crash would probably have been more impactful as a one-panel shock, or if it wasn't shown at all. There are no risks or interesting things with the art- don't read this after imbibing Quitely's work in We3 #1. The language of comics sits mostly unused- at least throw us an interesting camera angle or cliche red background for a panel depicting an argument or something. One can only grasp for hopeful straws that this issue's boring art is meant to meta-depict Strange's mundane life before his transformation, and mindbending realms and dynamic curvy Ditkoesque wisps and zaps and insane Colan panel shapes await us later, but that seems unlikely.

The Story
It's difficult to separate this issue from (a) high expectations and desires for new Dr. Strange, and (b) from the previous origin story.

On its own merits, it's a standard, safe, underwhelming first chapter that can still go somewhere. There's five issues to go, it's a slow first ten minutes of a movie that establishes the main character's status quo and puts some guns on the mantle to be used later. If people need a new modern 'first chapter' #1 to get into a character (because we all started reading Amazing Spider-Man at #1 right? right?), conceivably this could squeeze out some new blood from a risk-averse market.

But the questions keep going through the mind. What perceived problem with Dr. Strange and his origin does this issue solve? What do the alterations improve or modernize? What excites and grabs and entices and revolutionizes with this issue? What Peter Parker microscope is now a computer? What's been Man Of Steeled for a new generation so far? Not shock or tinkering for its own sake- what adds value here? What draws in new readers? Is the book living up to the reimagining hype?

Who is the mysterious woman? Clea? An agent of the Ancient One? An enemy? The mysterious observer in the background is one of the most hackneyed plot devices.

Now we have with Doc a previous time in Tibet, a previous meeting with Wong (but who knows if he'll end up as an assistant this time around) and possibly the Ancient One, a mysterious female in the background observing him pre-transformation, he obviously already has some mojo re: healing Wong and 'causing' the car crash. It's surprising that we haven't seen Bleecker Street yet. Writers just can't seem to resist adding 'connections' anymore, and leaning on the drama they supposedly add instead of writing a good antagonist or evolution of events. Maybe the Green Goblin shouldn't have been Osborn. Like the Batman movie- it's not enough anymore that it's Batman vs. Joker- they have to make it that the Joker was the one who killed Bruce Wayne's parents (before he turned into the Joker). They did this at the end of the Sorcerer Supreme run- now Mordo's been tampering with Stephen's psyche since childhood, to mixed results for the longtime reader (at least it had the interesting irony that Mordo helped create his greatest foe when he was trying to prevent that creation; unfortunately it also made Doc's car crash a suicide attempt to end a tortured life, instead of having him happily jerkily wallow in his shallow life). Is Doc in an interconnected web of destiny here, or have layers of lameness been added?

Brian Hibbs has noted that this issue makes the pre-transformation Doc a more sympathetic character, like the way Lucas undid how Han Solo originally shot Greedo first. He's right. The power of the origin is getting sucked out, at every step. Doc was declining doing life-saving surgery because people couldn't pay in the original. Heck, if Doc's been to Tibet before and knows the lay of the land, then so much for a hopeless last-ditch journey.

It looks like we're getting a Stephen Strange who is less of a jerk, and more someone who coasts through life- only became a doctor to fulfill a promise, leans on his natural talent instead of hard work, just took the best job offer he got, nose jobs and blow jobs, even his friend gets him his ladies. Which could still give us an interesting transformation, an enlightenment that really opens his eyes to the true greater and interconnected nature of life and the universe in a zen master way and ascends him to a place higher than the usual money zombie slave workaday life. Still interesting- but not as powerful.

So the skiing accident is THE accident? Neilalien hopes it isn't. We need more comic-book space-time before the transformation, to make Doc a jerk, to give Doc a long bitter life or something.

Why is a new origin needed? The Flight of Bones mini dove right in with an updated situation, Wong on the interent, etc. Why can't we just do that? Doc fans want new stories, not the same old origin story rehashed and redone repeatedly. Comic book readers grok comic book time- drawing a now non-jalopy Batmobile doesn't throw us off the scent or require a reboot. It's like watching a DVD and there's a scratch at the end of the first chapter and that's all we watch over and over.

This #1 is smelling like a lost opportunity. Where's Morrison when we need him?

Posted 19 September 02004 - Permalink

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Capsule review of The Steve Ditko Reader Vol. 2 [Joplin Independent]

(Neilalien Internet Pet Peeve Anger Alert. This article begins with the line, "Last year I reviewed the first volume of The Steve Ditko Reader (you really ought to read it)", but there's no link to the Volume 1 review in that sentence. Guess the subgroup of people who would have easily clicked a link won't be reading it then, eh? For the 0.1% who would bother persevering at this point (like a motivated weblogger, perhaps), there's no Search box on every/interior page. Ah, but there's a note at the page bottom that says, "Editor's note: For previous columns, please place the keywords, "Suspended Animation" in the search box on our homepage." But that word 'homepage' isn't a link. Ideally in this case, it should be a link directly to the search results for 'Suspended Animation', or a directory list of all this reviewer's columns, etc. So up we scroll to find the 'Home' link and go there. Type 'Suspended Animation' in the Search box. Useless results come up: a long list of Suspended-Animation-named columns, no unique titles, no column subjects listed- and nothing dated from "last year" anyway, so why bother wasting life to click down the list? Type 'Ditko' in the Search box. Only this new review of Volume 2 comes up. Oh well, fuck Neilalien for trying. That's five minutes that won't come back. Wait- make that ten minutes- had to write this post.)

Update: A helpful reader mails in the link [Suspended Animation Comic Review of The Steve Ditko Reader]

Posted 18 September 02004 - Permalink

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The Webcomic List [via Bad Signal]

Famous Cartoonist Series: Steve Ditko Part 1 [Is This Tomorrow?]
Famous Cartoonist Series: Steve Ditko Part 2 [Is This Tomorrow?]

A Tale Of Two Publishers [Brian Hibbs Tilting At Windmills at Newsarama]
DC doesn't offer discount on its backlist, but then you can't even reorder from Marvel with its no-overprint policy. Also: Hibbs digs into a recent column from Mile High Comics uber-retailer Chuck Rozanski, who of course thinks variant incentive covers are a grand idea.

Premier comic and cartoon art collection, including some Ditko, destroyed in heartbreaking fire [Jim Steranko reports to The Pulse]

Jemas' 360ep will be an entertainment property management company, not a comic book publisher [Newsarama]
WARNING/Update: It's 360epm. associated with malware, don't go there.

Updates/remakes of Ditko polemic works don't have to be Objectivist/polemic themselves [Motime]
Ditko's work itself is never pure Randian agitprop.

Let Veitch play with The Question; the history of art is a history of necessary theft and harmless cover songs [Intermittent]
Interesting, valid point about Art. Maybe using the language of moral indignation and pedestalizing Ditko and his original-creator vision against this new Question miniseries obscures the issue. But... Neilalien resists. Of course, he wouldn't want to sound like, 'Should changes be done? No! Not allowed! Morally suspect! Thus all human progress is brought to a screeching halt!', but, 'How much change and of what kind until his own interest as a fan is brought to a screeching halt?' Again, it's a continuum- where one puts that line between a bent character and a broken one. There's variables at play- how much you pedestalize the original, what you consider the unalterable core of the original (costume, lyrics, creator vision, political orientation, sexual orientation, etc.), if you think the cover is any good, etc. And for each character, we're each at different points on the continuum. Think of all the What Ifs you want: if they made Rawhide Kid gay, Apollo straight, Silver Surfer a social Darwinist, Mjolnir a blues-guitar-slash-disintegrator-raygun named Lucille, etc. Bent or broke- what say you to each? Let 'em play? More interested now? Others, most notably the old-school established fanbase, btw the only ones who really buy Thor at this point, say, This isn't Thor, you bastards, I'm never buying this, you're pissing on Kirby's grave. Maybe comic book characters are more fragile than rock songs, to their detriment, because the audience is so tiny now and the purist hardcore fanbase so depended upon; the changes are 'forced' upon them too. Neilalien is an easy $3-a-month mark for a Question book- if it's actually The Question. If he's not the target audience for this title, who is? Why use the costume, the same lyrics? He feels like a Rolling Stones fan who's expected to buy/embrace the Devo cover of/response to "Satisfaction". Maybe it's the cover song analogy that feels clunky. A character has continuity, a worm through time. The bibliography of a character, especially of a corporate property with different creative teams over time, feels more like a discography of one band with changing lineups, than a series of discrete covers by various bands. Making The Question a hippie isn't a radical reinterpretation of a classic tune- it's New Coke. This isn't a Lou Reed fan thinking that a certain cover of "Walk on the Wild Side" has no right to exist- this is a Lou Reed fan reacting to Metal Machine Music. Or maybe it's more like Spielberg (DC, et al) taking over and going in a too-different direction on A.I. (The Question) after Kubrick (Ditko) 'left'. Does this distinction against the cover song example make valid sense, or has Neilalien revealed his cards as a fanbaby who wants his bottle?

Posted 17 September 02004 - Permalink

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Johnny Ramone dead at 55 [E! Online News]
Another sad day. The excellent documentary End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones is currently playing at the Angelika Film Center in NYC. Neilalien's going to see it again tonight.

Posted 16 September 02004 - Permalink

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Strange #1 out today! Off to the shop! [Diamond Comics Shipping List for today]

Marvel Comics for December 02004 [posted to Usenet (Google Groups)]

STRANGE #3 (of 6)
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils & Cover by Mark Bagley
In the midst of Peter's bizarre dreams and flashbacks, he goes to see the one man who might be able to help him- Dr. Stephen Strange- Master of the Mystic Arts!
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art & Cover by Scott Kolins
Something is going on. Something mysterious, mystical... magical. Reed Richards doesn't know what to do. Luckily, Doctor Strange is able to lend a helping hand, or spell or two. Will it be enough? Or will the threat be too great for the combined might of the Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange?! And what does it have to do with Latveria...and a man called DOOM?

Stupid publisher tricks [Permanent Damage]

Fantagraphics: Saved by Peanuts [Seattle Weekly] [via Thought Balloons]

"This is so gay" lines in Kirkman's Invincible seen as offensive [Fanboy Rampage tracks the discussion; read the comments too]

Posted 15 September 02004 - Permalink

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Stan Lee Media's stock registration revoked by SEC; that's all folks [CNN Money (Reuters)]

Former Marvel honcho Bill Jemas has written a letter to you on his new website, teasing about new plans [] [via ICv2]

Follow-up: The Question wasn't a character at all, just a Ditko mouthpiece for polemic; creators keep altering him because the original concept was tissue-thin [interesting reader email to The Hurting]
Neilalien sees the point but disagrees. The original character concept seems thick enough such that creators want to play with it, instead of just making a completely new character.

Showcase #75, Ditko's Hawk and Dove discussed [Polite Dissent]

Batman-dressed Fathers 4 Justice protester got on the Buckingham Palace balcony [BBC]
'Spider Man' charged over father's rights protest [ABC News]
Issues behind Batman protest [Shropshire Star]
Father's rights protesters in the UK, feeling powerless by courts/family laws that have denied them access to their children, dress up as superheroes to protest.

Posted 14 September 02004 - Permalink

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'Strikingly dumb' comics review newspaper article destroyed [Bookslut] [via Bloggity] [article here: Baltimore Sun (reg req'd, try BugMeNot)]
"My complaint about the graphic novel is that it attempts to illustrate what most readers should imagine on their own." WHAT!?

Free Comic Book Day back to the first weekend in May [Newsarama] [ICv2]
7 May 02005. Doesn't coincide with any movie!

360 Squared looks like the name of Bill Jemas' new company [Gutters]
Link updated: Nope, it's 360EPM. More: Marvel moving to digital inking? Production costs would be lower, but artists lose jobs.

$500G offer for CrossGen; would barely dent the debts [ICv2]

It's OK to judge a comic book based on incomplete information [Ninth Art]

Posted 13 September 02004 - Permalink

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Static: Steve Ditko's Battle of Ideas [article by Rodney Schroeter, Amazing Heroes, #155, 15 December 01988]

Steve Ditko: Space Wars reprint book from Vanguard listed as a paperback for December [Amazon]
Did the hardcover listed at Mile High for August ever happen?

Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers reviewed [Charlotte Observer] [via Franklin's Findings]

Marvel's flawed heroes; its increasingly interconnected plots; the knowing, tongue-in-cheek voice of its editor and main writer, Stan Lee; and the psychedelic vistas provided by artists like Kirby and Ditko at their most outre were all as redolent of the '60s as the Beatles. (Novelist Jonathan Lethem, in his essay, compares Kirby and Lee to Lennon and McCartney.) As Christopher Sorrentino writes in his account of the importance to him as a boy of choosing Marvel over its more staid rival DC Comics, "Marvel zinged along strings the culture had pulled taut."

Posted 12 September 02004 - Permalink

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The Question's hard-line right-wing moral absolutism polemic is as vital to the character as the mythological trappings in Thor [The Hurting] [via Motime]
To remove it, nay, replace it with its opposite, as the new miniseries does, is breaking the character and an insulting kick to his creator's nuts. Neilalien is in complete agreement.

Dr. Strange featured on the cover and in the center spread comic of the Sports Illustrated Ryder Cup Preview Magazine! [Heaping Plateful] [the cover]

An article of serious study re: the 01978 Dr. Strange TV movie is impending? [Motime reports from the the Comics Scholars Discussion List]

Decline and Fall and Fall and Fall [Village Voice]
Has technology really been killing reading for decades? And: The stats would show that reading's increasing if they counted graphic novels.

If only the remaining micropopulation of happily-serviced hardcore fans would use their money-power to activistly move comics forward, instead of using that power to bring Hal Jordan back (shaking fist) ["Co-Evolution" Full Bleed column at Broken Frontier (permalink pending)] [via The Low Road]
Good luck with that. Because all those other same old Savant/Journalista type manifestos were so effective.

Posted 11 September 02004 - Permalink

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Remembering 9/11

Posted 11 September 02004 - Permalink

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"Sleeper is simply too smart for the room, and we all know that nobody wants to hang with the kid that's obviously smarter than his other classmates" [Johnny Bacardi Show]

"One brief flick though [McSweeney's #13] should be enough to convince even the most visually impaired poet that in the right hands comics can be enormously powerful" [Charlie Higson review at Guardian Unlimited]
McSweeney's #13 is "fetishising... over-weighty, overproduced... comics aren't and shouldn't be respectable" [Martin Rowson review at The Independent]
They're both right.

"In Seaguy, Grant Morrison takes his shot at the Disneyfication of the world" [PopMatters]

Posted 10 September 02004 - Permalink

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Living Tribunal in She-Hulk #7 She-Hulk #7
Neilalien once dreaded that he'd have to pick up an early issue of this new She-Hulk series (Doctor Strange was making an appearance). C'mon- She-Hulk?! My, times change, pleasant surprises happen, and it just shows to go that any character can sing when it's written and drawn well. Now it's the only Marvel book Neilalien is currently picking up, which says a lot (although Strange is about to change that). It's good, funny, light and refreshing- and it's made with total love for the Marvel Universe (and using MU/superhero ideas and characters quite cleverly- but you don't really need to be Marvel Universe experts to enjoy the book, but you'd get more jokes). If this book didn't grab and delight you, Doc (and old Marvel Cosmic) fans, when you snagged it for Doc's appearances, then here's some more new incentive: the Living Tribunal graces She-Hulk #7 in all his pantless glory (and in his "Star Chamber"- ha!). And Warlock, Uatu and Beta Ray Bill also appear (the "horse from space", as Warren Ellis recently called him (Thor's so boring that the first thing Simonson did was replace him with a horse from space), is lookin' a little skinny, no?); and introducing The Magistrati, the Tribunal's agency of judges. And Bobillo's back too: his quirky art was sorely missed the last two issues. We even get a cover that only half-sucks this time instead of totally sucks like the first six (that's more about Editorial's yawn-inspiring cover policy than about the cover artist's skills). The only downside to this issue (which is rapidly becoming a downside to any other comic book out there): Not enough Awesome Andy! At least give him one gag per. Neilalien's also curious how the hard-core fans of Ms. Walters are enjoying the book: Would Neilalien like a 'humor' book of Dr. Strange, no matter how well or respectfully it's created? Anyway, if you like good fun comics, if you are or ever were a Marvel Zombie, if you're open to humor with your heroes, if you can get past that whole blood-transfusion Hulk Family lameness, if you're looking for a book with a strong female lead, if you're looking for a break from today's grim-and-gritty, etc.- you cannot do much better than She-Hulk right now. The Living Tribunal says it would be an injustice not to check it out!

Posted 9 September 02004 - Permalink

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Dr. Strange in Daredevil #65 [preview at Comic Book Resources] [sweet page 28 by Chris Bachalo] [thanks to Thought Balloons]

Daredevil headlines this special, oversized issue celebrating both the 40th anniversary of the character AND the 5th anniversary of the groundbreaking Marvel Knights imprint! The Eisner-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev invite some of the greatest comic artists who have never before drawn Daredevil to answer the question: How has the public revelation of Daredevil's secret identity affected the rest of the Marvel Universe? This once-in-a-lifetime gathering of super heroes and superstar talent includes Spider-Man, Captain America, The Punisher, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, Elektra, and many more. Artists include Maleev and a band of stars including Chris Bachalo, Michael Golden, Greg Horn, Jae Lee, Mike Mayhew, Frank Quitely, and P. Craig Russell (at least)!

Another interview with Tommy Lee Edwards, artist of The Question [Pulse]

The Question is a character with a rich history and one who has appeared in several different series and specials. Tommy Lee Edwards didn't really follow every Question adventure- when he was approached by Jim Lee about drawing this series he only owned one Question comic book. "The short one drawn for Charlton by Alex Toth around 1976 or so," Edwards stated. "I knew of the '80s Question, but decided to avoid looking at it and really concentrate on the original Steve Ditko stories. That stuff is how I see the character- both in art and in story. I've come to appreciate Mr. Ditko's work on The Question as definitely ahead of its time and very sophisticated."

The graphic novel speaks volumes [Seattle Times] [via Thought Balloons]
After ranting in solidarity against the 'adolescent power fantasy' for years, the altcomix community gets two or three positive New York Times pieces and a taste of emergence from out of the superhero shadow-ghetto, and promptly turns the fangs inward, finally realizing what so many of us have been saying in our own defense for years: 90% of "precious, narcissistic, esoteric, autobiographical, very naive and naval-gazing" artcomix suck too. The era of praising something by default because it's merely desperately-needed non-spandex work is over! And thus comics can continue to brutally feast on its own as it does so well. An interesting (and flat-out-pro-Fantagraphics) article.

But [Peter] Bagge... wonders if there's gotten to be too much self-expression. "I can't believe it when it's all this pouty relationship stuff. It looks good, but when I start reading it, it's like, where's the beef? But at the same time people are just wetting themselves over these guys... It's very autobiographical, very naive and naval-gazing."

Peter Hogan, he of the excellent Captain America/Nick Fury: The Otherworld War and the unsuccessful Dr. Strange: Year One pitch, uber-quotably interviewed [Ninth Art]

[Why do you think comics stick with superheroes?] Because they're safe- they're known territory, and commercially proven. Of course, comics have tried other genres as well, and still do- there's Vertigo, the small press and so on. But if you look at the richness of subject matter in newspaper comics back in the 1930s, or of pre-code comicbooks in the 1950s, it does seem like the industry took an enormous step backwards that we're only just now beginning to recover from. But superheroes probably seemed a better bet financially back then, and evidently they still do. By definition, that shunts a lot of other things into the independent arena...
As to why superheroes are so popular... 'power fantasy' is the phrase that usually gets trotted out when people try to analyse it, but I don't think that really does it. I don't think everybody likes to fantasise about being Superman so much as they like to fantasise that someone like Superman might actually exist. They want to believe in the possibility of magic, and I think that's at the heart of the appeal of fantasy and science fiction as well ... and with all those genres, you can say things about the 'real' world that you can't with straight fiction...
But we all have the power to change the world, and we do it every day, with every action and every word. That was the key point that Alan Moore made in WATCHMEN, I thought: 'Who makes the world?' You do. We all do. All of our lives are meaningful and significant. And if superheroes don't have everyday human problems, don't have something resembling a life that we can relate to, why should we care about them?...
I think the issue isn't really superheroes per se, though we could certainly do with their taking up a little less shelf space. I do think it's still possible to do a good superhero story, and when they're done well they're as satisfying as any other kind of story. Perhaps even more so, if you love the genre. But the good ones tend to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The problem is that so much of what's produced doesn't - it's just this endless treadmill of monthly soap opera, which isn't a very satisfying form dramatically. It may well be that that's what keeps the industry afloat financially, but it's also what keeps it creatively stagnant. Of course, there are also still people out there doing very good work on monthly titles, and those are the stories that hang together properly when they're collected in book form...
As far as being derivative goes... you may well be right, but that doesn't necessarily mean 'bad'. Most pop songs aren't that original- what makes the difference is whether it's a good song or not. It's not so much a matter of being derivative as of building on a tradition. Terry Pratchett once compared fantasy to a stew - that if you were writing fantasy you were taking out ingredients put there by earlier writers, and adding a few ingredients of your own for the next person to play with. The same is pretty much true of superheroes... but ultimately the only thing that really matters is the quality of the writing. I'd rather read a good superhero story than a bad crime story...

Posted 8 September 02004 - Permalink

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Hefner, Stan Lee team for 'Superbunnies' [CNN] [Reuters/Hollywood Reporter] [thanks readers!]
Update: MTV Green Lights 'Superbunnies' Pilot From Stan Lee's Pow Entertainment [ICv2]

Stan and I go back a long ways, and he simply felt it was time for me to reveal my secret identity. You all know me as the editor in chief and publisher of Playboy. But late at night when everyone assumes I'm in the grotto living the good life, I'm out there with the Superbunnies fighting evildoers.

It's okay to like comics, genre and fantasy, Ms. Book Critic [Bookslut]
Hmmm, the book that's reviewed, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has a magician with the last name Strange in it. That's going to mess up Neilalien's scanners as they seek out Doc news.

Marvel Swimsuit Special issues remembered... fondly!? [Cheesedip] [via Bookslut, Tangognat]

Ooh, one of Neilalien's favorite Doctor Whos, Pyramids of Mars, is released on DVD today [Amazon]

Posted 7 September 02004 - Permalink

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Joe Quesada to leave Marvel in January to work with new Bill Jemas company? [Post-Crisis, snagging interesting Newsarama message board rumor before deletion]

John Romita Sr. on Steve Ditko [01997 convention panel excerpt] [via fansite]

List of comic book surgeons includes Dr. Strange, of course [Polite Dissent]

Recent episode of Justice League Unlimited with The Question discussed [Franklin's Findings] [Progressive Ruin] [Johnny Bacardi Show]

A reader of this humble website writes in:

If you haven't checked out Venture Brothers on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, take some time and do so. It's packed full of comic references. This week's episode "Eenie Meenie Miney Magic" features a guy reminiscent of Doc Strange...

The Venture Brothers: Eeny, Meeny, Miney... Magic episode item [TV Tome]

Posted 6 September 02004 - Permalink

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Scott McCloud on Making Comics [Newsarama]

Update your scorecards:
Good blog Grotesque Anatomy ends
Good site Comic Book Galaxy celebrates four years
Good columnist Ed Cunard begins walking The Low Road

From the fun TV Guide searchable cover gallery [via Danger Blog!]:

Comic Book Guy on TV Guide cover Wonder Woman on TV Guide cover Green Hornet on TV Guide cover

Posted 2 September 02004 - Permalink

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Writer Rick Veitch has the answer to The Question [Comic Book Resources]
Artist Tommy Lee Edwards asks The Question for DC [Comic Book Resources]
DC Comics for November: The Question #1

[Veitch:] We all agreed back in the very beginning that the Question needed some tinkering with to help him stand out a little more on his own while being true to his roots. He needed to be even crazier than Rorschach, but in a different and more creative way. I envisioned a Question who's spent so many years prowling the mean streets of Chicago in his lonely vigil that he's begun to see Chicago as a living entity. He talks to it and it communicates to him through his intuition. Like a native shaman who converses with nature spirits through the rivers and the mountains, the Question is in a dialogue with his city. He thinks that he walks in two worlds, the world of concrete objects that you and I perceive, and a hidden shadowy spirit world that only he a few others enter. He uses this knowledge to find criminals and bang heads in the name of truth and justice. But we never quite know if he's off his rocker or not.
[How exactly does an artist bring emotion to a guy who has no face?] [Edwards:] Yeah, the mask is a funny thing. Because of the way I draw and color this series, though, we do get a little information to grab onto in the way I render some of the form on the Question's featureless face. A lot of the acting relies on his body language and subtle posture-shifts...
[In the O'Neil/Cowan run in the 1980s, artist Denys Cowan made an unusual artistic choice for the series- no sound effects. Edwards won't be following in that same direction and has his reasons for doing so.] [Edwards:] Although that may have worked in that series, I personally don't understand that decision. 'The Question' is a comic book, so I tend to use comic-book language. We have captions, thought balloons, word balloons, and yes- lots of sound effects beautifully hand-rendered by my regular letter, John Workman. I am a firm believer in pushing the envelope with art and storytelling techniques. However, there are certain things in comic-book language that have worked for decades- and for good reasons. To me, it's not a comic until the lettering is there on the page. That's one of the reasons I need the lettering to be drawn by hand on the board as an integral part of the art. Writers and illustrators have a vast arsenal of tools that come only with comics. It would be a shame not to use them. [*]
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The curiosity is certainly here in the orbital base. But any interest Neilalien may have for this miniseries, because it's a classic Ditko character, is limited by the fact that it will probably be nothing like the Ditko character.

That old sticky pickle! They don't make a new character, because they want to lean on the established fanbase and the property-bird they already have in the hand. So they revamp, update, add powers, modernize, bend the property to give us something, anything, new (or fix the perceived shortcoming in the character that lead to less than first-tier status in the first place). New is absolutely needed, a lot can be changed, but only up to a point: too many alterations end up crossing the fine line and breaking the character for the change-resistant established fanbase who just want the characters as they know them, too. So they probably should have just made new characters for these new character ideas anyway! But then the new superhero characters rarely sell in the direct market's established fanbase or attract a new outside audience. And round we go. (The upcoming Strange, anyone?)

Don't have all the facts yet, don't want to prejudge or preresist or sound like that aging change-averse fanbase- but for Neilalien, this (as most others) incarnation of The Question appears way broken, no matter how talented the creators are or how much they spin or give Ditko props and respect.

'Urban shaman' sounds a bit like Jack Hawksmoor of The Authority. A 'shadowy spirit world' certainly does not jive with any attempt to keep to the character's great Ditko roots. Obviously, as the existence of this website attests, Ditko was quite capable of stories that involved the supernatural- but he kept the supernatural and the objectivism separate. Dr. Strange had one, so it did not have the other. The Question had one, so it cannot have the other. And from the other angle: The politics/concepts (and the non-supernatural by default- yes, even the suit-color-changing gas is meticulously explained by science) cannot be separated from The Question. The right-wing vigilante Question accumulates information by beating up weak diseased perps until they squeal like greased pigs, not by communing with the dumpster in the alley! He's Drano, not dreamy. Granted, most people's moral senses would probably judge The Question as insane (Eightball #23 anyone?)- but still, it's a red flag that if a creator's starting point is that The Question is 'off his rocker', then it's unlikely we're going to get a faithful representation of one of Ditko's one-sane-man-against-the-world type characters.

Another big turnoff for Neilalien is the intrusion of the DC Universe: this story is part of a big Superman event. Wish it were separate. If Neilalien picks up this miniseries, no mystery or cliffhanger contained therein could possibly be compelling enough for him to pick up any other issue of this DC Supershitstorm, like Superman, never mind Vigilante. Plus now Vic Sage is head over heels for Lois Lane, he's never been able to tell her since college, and she doesn't know he exists. As if Vic Sage would be too wussy to tell anyone anything, as if anyone wouldn't notice Vic Sage. And the creators call this state of unrequited love via wussiness 'Ditkoian'? Seems more precisely 'Peter-Parker-ian' or 'Lee-ian', no?

Neilalien will be probably be picking up this miniseries. Damn this sick familiarity and curiosity! He wishes it was creating a compelling new character, instead of further breaking a compelling old one of Ditko's. Probably should just read an original Question story to satisfy the fix instead.

(* IIRC Ditko is against the use of sound effects (the 'POW!'s in big red letters in comics, for example.)

Posted 1 September 02004 - Permalink

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