Archive for June, 2010

Splat!


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


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Stern Writing Workshop Handouts

Stewart Stern, Rebel Without a Cause and The Ugly American screenwriter, now 88, uses “splat” (inspired by this Feiffer strip) regularly to describe any obstacle in life. Stern: “Our lives are made of Splats, and our personalities are shaped by the way we go through Splat.” 

A documentary on his life is even titled Going Through Splat.  

Stern does a writing workshop where he gives you a starting line and you continue it, writing whatever pops into your head. Starting lines include: “The secret about me/myself that might come out if I confront Splat are…” or (my favorite) “Now, as I plunge into the vortex of Splat, the burning core of all of my hopes and dreams, I see, hear, taste and feel…”

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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (6/30/10 – Cats, Kats, Bats & Wolves)


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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


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So the other day I heard that Adam McKay — Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder, former Saturday Night Live head writer and director of various Will Ferrell theatrical vehicles such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Step Brothers and the imminent The Other Guys — was apparently close to signing on as director for a movie version of the Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson-created superhero beatdown comic The Boys, so naturally I thought: didn’t this guy write a comic himself somewhere? Way back in the mists of time, when we all were so young and prone to arguing whether it was the 21st century yet?

Absolutely: years before McKay had directed a feature film, he and SNL/Conan O’Brien veteran & TV Funhouse creator Robert Smigel scripted X-Presidents, a 2000 Villard Books expansion on one of the old SNL cartoon shorts, where Ford, Carter, Reagan & Bush get superpowers during a celebrity golf tournament and do battle with America’s enemies, like Manuel Noriega, or Reptilio. It’s a pretty funny book, formatted like a trade paperback collection of comic book issues, and dotted with as many artists (three pencillers, an inker and his studio and a letterer/colorist working from the original animation designs) as a typical superhero run of the day. Lots of fake ads, of the vintage sort you’d see in Acme Novelty Library, but this came out before the Jimmy Corrigan collection, or Clowes’ David Boring, so it seems to have missed out on the visibility granted soon after to bookshelf-format comics.

It mostly seems to be forgotten, which is too bad; there’s some decent (if occasionally obvious ha ha old comics) laughs, sometimes approaching a Michael Kupperman-type surrealism of decontextualized shared culture. It lacks Kupperman’s elegance with the form, though – Smigel readily admits it was basically a means of realizing an X-Presidents movie script without having the money for a feature film, which kind of shows, and maybe that’s another reason why it hasn’t quite stuck in the minds of comics devotees.

But all of us will be forgotten one day, as will the following list of purchasable funnies:
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Love Letter


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Monday, June 28, 2010


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I’ll send ya a love letter… straight from my heart, fucker! You know what a love letter is? It’s a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker! You receive a love letter from me… you’re fucked forever! You understand, fuck?I’ll send you straight to hell, fucker!
-Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper), Blue Velvet

Like some haunting refrain of a long forgotten pop song or like David Lynch’s dreamy, uneasy nostalgia – Shaky Kane’s comics take me away to a place in space that is beyond past or future.

That's a funny cover.

Written by David Hine, The Bulletproof Coffin is finally a vehicle for Mr. Kane to stretch out in and take us all for a ride. Hine has provided Kane with three narrative levels to engage the reader. There is reality, there is fantasy and there is the documentation of reality, y’know, simulacra or whatever it’s called. And Shaky Kane, the guy who has to draw it all, wisely chooses three styles to depict each realm. The styles are different enough from each other yet cohesive enough to make it all “hang together” narratively as well as symbolically.

Say what?

The story concerns a company that hauls away dead people’s stuff. Well, they’re more like Repo Men. Scavenging valuables before it all ends up in a landfill. One of the movers, Steve Newman, likes to cherry pick choice bits from each estate he visits. He has a collector’s mind and fills his “den” at home with lots of pop culture detritus: old toys, a Manson poster, rayguns, old TVs, old comics; the usual stuff for a guy who likes wacky shit. It’s an interesting way to pinpoint exactly what type of guy Newman is. He’s obsessive and probably a little like you if you’re reading this blog about comics.
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A Conversation With Bryan Lee O’Malley – SPX 2008


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Sunday, June 27, 2010


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From "Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour" (vol. 6); color by Dylan McCrae

On October 4, 2008, I had the pleasure of conducting a live q&a session with Bryan Lee O’Malley as part of the programming slate for the 2008 Small Press Expo. O’Malley is the creator of the popular Scott Pilgrim series of bookshelf-format comics, soon to see its sixth and final volume released on July 20, 2010, along with a motion picture adaptation directed by Edgar Wright, set to premiere in North America on August 13, 2010.

Moreover, O’Malley is perhaps the most visible face of a young comics-making generation liable to draw considerable influence from international comics art, and pursue means of distribution outside of the classical comic book format – his background is in webcomics, and his print-format career, est. 2001, traces the meteoric growth of manga as a presence in English-language North American comics reading. Even if we set visual qualities aside, it is striking that so many of O’Malley’s cited influences are comics and animation material targeted at women and girls; just one reading generation prior, this would have been almost unthinkable, as American comics had by and large abandoned that demographic as insignificant.

Yet O’Malley also keenly distinguishes between manga traditions — boys’ comics, girls’ comics, ’70s Golden Age traits, anime-adapted tropes — and applies them to a grander, evolutionary metaphor in Scott Pilgrim, a romance comic (and so much more!) about leveling yourself up by understanding your lover’s (possibly storied) romantic history, and confronting the negative traits “evil” ex-boyfriends might represent. Gaming action hangs over everything as a looser, atmospheric metaphor for personal myth-making; video games don’t function as ‘literature,’ not like books, but they are eminently applicable in their social role-playing capacity.

What follows is a record of our live q&a, transcribed by me, and edited to remove ums and ahs and hanging sentences. Keep in mind, this was 2008, so the currently most-recent book of the series, Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe, had not yet been released. Many thanks to Chris Mautner, aka “Audience #8,” for recording the panel (his own thoughts on Scott Pilgrim are hereby commended to your attention), and Bill Kartalopoulos, for shepherding the event into reality.

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Doing Justice to Crumb


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Sunday, June 27, 2010


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Crumb's Boswell.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been disappointed by the critical response to Crumb’s Genesis book. It is not so much a matter that the book hasn’t won enough praise, but rather that the critics, with a handful of exceptions, haven’t had the intellectual resources to tackle the challenge presented by Crumb’s handling of the Bible. Ideally, the critics of the book should be well-versed in both comics and Biblical scholarship. Instead, we’ve had many reviews from critics who know about comics but not the Bible (most of the reviews, I’d say) and a few from scholars who are well-versed in the Bible but are clearly unfamiliar with the history and language of comics (Harold Bloom being the prime case). Robert Alter wrote one of the best reviews of the book, but even he was hampered by his inability to fully respond to visual storytelling, leading him to make the theoretically dubious argument that print is inherently more ambiguous than pictures.

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LinkLankLunk


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Saturday, June 26, 2010


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Hey there, True Believers, it’s that time again! Time for Brian Chippendale’s Marvelous Coma blog to drop the hammer on all your wednesday comic book shoppe fantasies! Brian has served up yet another installment of his home cooking, and holy shit, it’s hot!. Check it out!

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DC Hardcore


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Friday, June 25, 2010


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View from my podium.

Attention citizens of our nation’s capital! I’ll be addressing you tomorrow, June 26th, on the subject of Art in Time, at Politics and Prose!

Politics and Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

Saturday. June 26: 6 pm

Slideshow and gab-fest.

Read a “hometown boy” interview here because you need more of me, me, me!

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