Why aren’t you reading the #1 Graphic Novel of 2007?

January 28, 2008 at 4:15 pm (comics, strange, Webcomics)

Reminiscent of when the magazine lauded Watchmen as one of the top 100 novels of all time, Time has claimed Achewood as the #1 Graphic Novel of 2007. Granted, this scintillating work of art is a webcomic, it is still more than deserving of this recent prize and I can’t help but wonder what took so long for it to receive this kind of recognition.

I’d recommend starting at the beginning, but if you want to make certain as to whether or not this is a webcomic worthy of your attention, read the Great Outdoor Fight story arc. If this doesn’t clinch your adoration nothing will.

Man. This comic is worth reading for the alt-text alone sometimes. Makes me want to get my slant on.

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A Mix Tape from Warren Ellis

October 2, 2007 at 8:14 am (Blogroll, comics, music, Warren Ellis)

No, not the violinist from Dirty Three, but the so-called Internet Jesus and creator of Spider Jerusalem. He’s begun releasing a somewhat regular mix-tape of unsigned or new artists and it’s a worthy listen. Go here. It’s even got a Godspeed! You Black Emperor type track.

A word of warning, don’t go crawling around his site too eagerly; there are a lot of possibly dirty/reprehensible things. Naughty, but nearly always interesting.

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My Problem with “In Search of Steve Ditko”

September 22, 2007 at 4:52 pm (Alan Moore, comics, long post Strong Bad! long post!, Neil Gaiman, Shade: The Changing Man, Steve Ditko, too many tags, writers)

First off, before I state my case against the documentary, I am by no way or means an expert on comics. It has been only in recent years that I’ve become interested in the art form and my involvement has been as a reader and not a collector.

So. In Search of Steve Ditko is a documentary that comes to us by way of Jonathan Ross and Channel 4 that explores the reclusive comic book artist and co-creator of Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and many other superheroes. It also stars titans of the medium such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, and of course, the master showman, Stan Lee. For the most part, I found the doc informative and entertaining but something was wrong, something was missing from their characterization of Mr. Ditko.

Naturally, there was a summary of the illustrator’s career in which the tale was told of how he came to leave Marvel Comics and his further “less-successful” development. The story ranged from psycho-tropic imagery mixing with his conservatism to his take on the Vietnam war with Hawk and Dove. This was wrapped up with the lackluster creation of the Creeper for DC Comics whose absurd powers Alan Moore described as the ability to”laugh at will”.

What was most compelling about this analysis was Ditko’s super-hero Mr. A, a black or white, good or evil moralist who’s didactic preaching was influenced by the writings of the philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand, as seen in the title of part three of Atlas Shrugged, A is A. If I recall correctly, most of the experts on the show attributed this black or white, no shades of gray world-view onto the creator of the character due to his past disagreements with Stan Lee and the anecdotal evidence of Alan Moore. One of the magician’s bands even has a song called Mr. A based on his meeting with Ditko which alone is worth watching the doc for.

Most of this characterization can be polarized by one of Ditko’s creations never mentioned in the documentary, Shade: The Changing Man. The exclusion of Shade is telling. Even the name of the character may be taken as a reference to the “shades of gray” opposed by the black and white of Mr. A. The powers of Shade’s M-Vest allowed the fugitive to appear however he liked and gave the anti-hero the ability to take advantage of the mental state of whoever saw him. Not to mention the anti-hero’s trials of clearing his own name have the didactic thrust of not trusting how things appear to be. Rather relativistic, don’t you think?

Due to this omission I believe it possible that the documentary left this particular creation out because it contradicted one of it’s implied thesis’: that Steve Ditko, legendary comic book illustrator that he is, may have been driven to reclusion and obscurity due to his espousal of the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. It may be worth my mentioning that Ms. Rand herself was a recluse in her later years.

Now, I understand this was a short television doc and was possibly constrained for time. I also realize I know next to nothing about Steve Ditko himself. But I believe leaving out Shade is an injustice to the character and Ditko. It may not have been the most successful title in it’s own time but later it went on to become one of the first titles under the imprint of Vertigo. In Peter Milligan’s incarnation Shade becomes one of the most morally obtuse characters around (let alone his “retinue”) and I believe the roots for this trait are to be found in Ditko’s original.

Steve Ditko is certainly what one could refer to as a recluse. But his supposed black or white morality? I’m not so sure. Mr.A is certainly a didactic figure but what are we to make of Shade if that is the case? Could Ditko’s personal views have changed so drastically over the course of a decade?

Such a change is certainly possible and it should have been mentioned as such in this charming, though incomplete, documentary.

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Delved Media Notations Part One or Questions Answered

July 17, 2007 at 8:06 am (anime, comics, film)

First, answers to questions left on the update page, in order:

Michel Foucault is often verbose, at times pompous, and his style is consistently melodramatic. But his ideas are interesting, such as insanity replacing leprosy as an attribute worthy of scapegoating when the more visible of the two diseases virtually disappeared. I picked up Madness and Civilization years ago, even before becoming a Psych major, and I finished the first two chapters before putting it down for something more literary. Nausea, The Stranger or something just as existential. Now I’m reading it for no particular reason at all.

I’m finding nothing new in the world of WOT, although the female characters are beginning to blur together, forming an array from crazy to reasonable. They all have their moments in either extreme. Except for Moiraine who I expect to be revealed in A Memory of Light as a fantasy-world hopping Gandalf, so he doesn’t count. Of course, I’m joking.

Final Fantasy XII was disappointing. No character development at all and the plot was bland. My favorite character was the character with character. You’ll know who as soon as he joins your party. The bestiary is worthy of notice due to its depth and breadth and reading it made the games low moments tolerable. The game-play is well executed but I wouldn’t want to play through this game again. Maybe in ten years.

Yes. Ten years.

Metal Gear Solid 3 was just as good as its predecessor. Its sad, its funny, and has villains which are completely unbelievable. “That’s some good stuff right there.”

I had played both Diablo and Starcraft some time ago but never to completion. Lets see how I do this time around.

The First Doctor has just avoided getting married to an Aztec wise woman in the, you guessed it, Aztec serial. Quite a ways to go yet since I only feel like watching early 60’s English television so often.

Kimagure Orange Road was a waste of my time, but someone with different taste may enjoy the series. It’s basically a story about a romantic triangle with psychic powers thrown into the mix for humor and plot device. I had read somewhere that it was a cornerstone of anime and dating sims, which I can understand to some extent, but it just isn’t my cup of tea. And what do I know?, I can stand Love Hina. It wasn’t so bad that I didn’t have favorite characters. There were the two perverted friends vying for the attention of the protagonist’s sisters, and the cat, Jingoro, who often found himself at the wrong end of psychic frustration which had me laughing regularly.

“You know my methods, Watson.” Both Paranoia Agent and Boogiepop Phantom are good viewing material though I prefer PA. For me, Lain falls somewhere in between these two.

What first attracted me to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was the word melancholy in the title. Then I saw that someone else had watched it so I thought I’d give it a shot. It was short and sweet, and funny besides, with just a touch of intelligence, enough not to ruin the whole. To say it wasn’t what I expected would be an understatement as well. I wonder where it would fit into Robert Burton’s Anatomy? My favorite episodes were The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya and Live Alive.

Heroes is very worth watching. I approached the series expecting nothing at all, given the hype surrounding the show, and got rewarded. Mainstream American television hasn’t been this good in some time.

I thought Torchwood was ridiculous. Do you have to have bisexual tendencies to be a paranormal investigator? “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Or how about giving these people psychological profiles? Man. It came to the point where I couldn’t tell whether the characters were being themselves or were controlled by some demon. I’m still not convinced of that. And talk about hubris! There’s enough here for all of Greek tragedy five times over. All of that said, I still found the series enjoyable, if unbelievable.

RahXephon was enjoyable and compares favorably to Evangelion although the series seemed a bit whitewashed or clean but I find that typical of the Mecha produced by this particular animation studio. Like Eureka Seven, there is much present that is downright borrowing, or at the very least an homage to Evangelion. I guess what I’m trying to say is that RahXephon depends on Evangelion to flesh out its character types and without EVA to support it, RahXephon wouldn’t be as good of an anime. RahXephon is certainly not better in this case.

Tank Girl was okay. I wouldn’t say I liked it but I enjoyed it for what it was: a silly mid-90’s action flick which depended heavily on comedy. I find I’m enjoying Malcolm McDowell as a villain more and more recently.

Citizen Kane is a well made film much like Firefly is a well made television show. It’s not quite great and doesn’t live up to the hype, but it’s exactly what should be considered as a model worth emulating. Cool Hand Luke was another film that can be considered in this light and its Christian imagery is subtle enough to be appreciated.

I chose the Ultimate series since having to trace all the old originals would have been much more difficult. I had begun to read the original X-men series some time ago and got bogged down somewhere around Dazzler’s own title. I may go back to the original Marvel series once I explore more of DC’s post-crisis universe. I must note, however, my favorite Ultimate moment. In the first Ultimate Team-up between Spider-man and Hulk, Spidey approaches the Hulkster after picking up a car and says “Candygram for Mongo!” which is, of course, from the classic Blazing Saddles, and drops the car on Mongo er…the Hulk. Hilarious.

Yes, Chris Milligan’s run, although I have read the original Shade run as well. Apples and oranges naturally. Shade isĀ  a mix of Chasing Amy and Sandman although that’s a disservice to the title. Obviously recommended.

Well, I think that wraps up the questions. Part Two will consist of my own blather about what I’ve been delving.

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Twilight of the Superheroes

June 20, 2007 at 10:15 pm (Alan Moore, comics)

I’ve been making my way through the Hellblazer mythos, not to mention Swamp Thing, and was surprised to find Twilight. Apparently, it influenced Kingdom Come to some degree.


Wow. What a short post.

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