Posts Tagged ‘comics vs. movies’

Reminder: Know Prize Deadline Wednesday Night


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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Here’s your official reminder about the first ever Comics Comics “Know Prize”, with a harsh deadline of Wednesday, July 21, 11:59 pm PST!

We ask you, the Comics Comics readership, to re-color this picture (above) from the Thor movie. Just click on the image for a larger version. Put your Photoshop skills to the test!

Here again are the rules:

-All submissions are due by Wednesday, July 21 at 11:59 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

-72 dpi RGB jpegs only.

-Email to: knowprize (at) comicscomicsmag (dot) com, subject line: Know Prize; please include your full name and mailing address.

-Selection process will be based on strictly frivolous opinions.

-The winners receive: Vast exposure on this, the internet, AND a Thor comic book of variable quality mailed directly to you by Frank Santoro.

-On Friday morning, July 23, the day of our sure-fire Eisner Award win, we will post the top 10 submissions.

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deet deet deet


Thursday, July 15, 2010

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A new low for Comics Comics? Here’s a quick, egocentric look at the rest of the recent comics blogosphere webonet.

beep boop beep

The most important comics internet writing of the week can be found here, of course.

dreep dop dope

A few weeks back, the great Brynocki C posted his latest must-read epic, which included the following bit I wanted to republish just for Frank:

Didja hear? Artists can’t write unbiased criticism. They only see their subjects through the filter of self interest as a creator. As opposed to critics. Real critics. Real critics are as pure as new snow, with eyes of a child yet minds learned like the eldest philosopher. They castrate their creativity to write from the place of total mental stillness. Able to see through all walls of personal agenda. They use their pen of young lamb to judge what’s best not for themselves, but for all humanity. Such is the powerful power, the terrible responsibility of the true critic.

Co-sign (cosine?) that. Get it yet, Frank?

Coincidentally, by the time I read BC’s post, I had already bought and read (and decidedly did not enjoy) two of the comics under review, in the most recent of many misguided attempts to acquaint myself with the larger superhero comics world since we started Comics Comics. Every once in a while, I get the idea that it’s important to “know what I am talking about.” But that’s all over now. Honestly, I almost never write about Brian Michael Bendis or Blackest Night anyway, so I think it is safe to finally let that ambition slide. It’s healthier to rely on back issues or Bully when I need a fix of four-color fisticuffs.

bloop blop blap

Which leads me to another recent post on superhero comics, written by everyone’s favorite new internet hyperbolizer, Matt Seneca, who seems to have genuinely taken the intellectualizing-about-capes beat to new heights in a very short time. He believes in treating “the entire mainstream like a quarter bin.” This philosophy has much to recommend it, except for a not entirely inconsequential math problem: four dollars can get you sixteen comics from a real quarter bin, but only pays for one copy of Neal Adams’ Batman: Odyssey.

brope bop bleem

No comment.

bop a dop a doo

No comment either on Ng Suat Tong’s mostly negative take on Crumb’s Genesis, though it is the first solid online pan of the book I’ve read, and though he takes issue with things Dan, Jeet, and I have written. I’m sure all three of us would differ with some of his interpretations to varying degrees, but I am just grateful that he seems to have actually read the book in question, and didn’t manufacture our views wholesale, something you can’t always count on from certain quarters of the internet. I disagree with the ever thoughtful (if occasionally somewhat humorless) Ng on many, many things, but his essays and posts are always worth taking seriously. That comment thread is so forbiddingly unreadable, though, that it more or less banishes any thought (for me, at least) of attempting to continue the argument.

breep bap bop

Speaking of threads, could this be the most hilarious comment ever written? (Oh, to be a fly on the wall when it is read to Ken Smith over the telephone!) Of course, to really find it funny, you have to have wasted an awful lot of your life reading various blinkered self-proclaimed pundits going on and on about unimportant things in incredibly pedantic detail. … Then again, if you’ve made it to the end of this post, you’ve probably done just that.

deep depp doop

Did I miss anything? Is there any good writing about comics on the internet, or is the situation as dire as it sometimes seems?

yop yop yop

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled “comic book” coverage. Stay tuned as Dan and Frank argue over who should play Jarvis in the Avengers movie! (My money’s on Richard Jenkins.)

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The Comics Comics “Know Prize”


Thursday, July 15, 2010

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That’s right, this is the first ever Comics Comics “Know Prize.” We ask you, the Comics Comics readership, to re-color this picture (also below) from the Thor movie. Just click on the image for a larger version. Put your Photoshop skills to the test! Or be like Frank and hand-color 17 layers of color separations and have some poor guy scan them for you. Whatever. Not just for Thor fans! Professional artists: We are calling you out. That means you and you and you!

Here are the rules:

-All submissions are due by Wednesday, July 21.

-72 dpi RGB jpegs only.

-Email to: knowprize (at) comicscomicsmag (dot) com, subject line: Know Prize; please include your full name and mailing address.

-Selection process will be based on strictly frivolous opinions.

-The winners receive: Vast exposure on this, the internet, AND a Thor comic book of variable quality mailed directly to you by Frank Santoro.

-On Friday morning, July 23, the day of our sure-fire Eisner Award win, we will post the top 10 submissions.

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Walt Wasn’t Available: Dapper Dan’s SuperMovies Column #1


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

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Odin Smiling After a Particularly Noxious Release

Geoff Boucher reports about the Thor movie over at the LA Times. I know, I know, it’s just a movie. It has nothing to do with the many things I like about 1960s Thor. And I don’t even care about this stuff, except… C’mon guys, you couldn’t have designed even slightly better costumes? Honestly? It’s just lazy looking. There are many cool things about circa 1960s Thor, most of them beginning and ending with Jack Kirby’s literary and visual ideas. But among the coolest were the costumes! Mind-bendingly intricate mythological armor and sets with a nearly psychedelic color palette. Where is all that? These pictures look kinda like Iron Man. Or X-Men. Or whatever. Point, is, where’s the color? The scale? The imagination? It’s a movie, natch, and things have to somewhat simplified, and it’s Hollywood and blah blah. I know it all already. But… No one thought to call Walt Simonson? Hell, if I were them I’d call CF! Or William Stout! Or Moebius! Call somebody! Anyhow, thus endeth my pointless afternoon rant. Sigh.

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


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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Farber on Comics


Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Farber's painting "Domestic Movies"

When Ben Katchor was in  Toronto last week, one of the many interesting things he mentioned is that while reading the new anthology Farber on Film: The Complete Film writings of Manny Farber, he had been struck by how frequently the great movie critic made reference to comics.

As I noted before, Manny Farber had many ties to comics, going back before he could even read. Richard Thompson once opened an interview with Farber with the following anecdote: “In one of his baby pictures, Manny Farber has the costume and the face of The Yellow Kid; as he explained, ‘Our parents used to dress us in costumes from all the comic strips.’” In 1944 and 1951 Farber wrote two brief but extremely perceptive essays on comics (which can be found in a volume Kent Worcester and I co-edited called Arguing Comics). In these essays Farber was among the earlier writers to appreciate Harry Tuthill, Ernie Bushmiller and Stan MacGovern. Farber woud go on to be an early champion of the Warner Bros. cartoons. He also served as an important inspiration to Donald Phelps, whose quirkily written and deeply perceptive essays are among the greatest body of comics criticism we have. And as a painter, Farber incorporated comic strip elements in his work.


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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (4/21/10 – Rise of Slovenia & the Return of Dave Cooper)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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I just think adding superheroes to something instantly makes it more interesting. I have a friend who says every movie should either be a Spider-Man movie, or at least have Spider-Man in it. [Laughs.] I thought it was such a brilliant quote. It kind of is true, in a weird way. Have you watched a low-budget British movie, you know, about a guy who’s unemployed trying to make ends meet, and how does he feed his family now that the coal mine’s closed? If you suddenly had Spider-Man in it, you’d be a little more interested. [Laughs.] If that guy had super powers or a costume or something. On some craft level, I think there’s an element of truth to that. I just find that superheroes instantly make a story more interesting.

-Mark Millar, to the AV Club

This happened once. From 1966, the year of Batmania and The Monkees, I give you:

That’s right, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo. It’s real, it’s here, you can Netflix it. One hour and twelve minutes. And if you don’t nod your head a little bit when the guitar line kicks in as he swings that cape around toward the camera then buddy, you know a different Silver Age than I.

And yes, according to legend, director Ray Dennis Steckler — best known for 1964’s The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, but prior to that a cinematographer on legendary writer/producer/director/star Timothy Carey’s brain-searing, Frank Zappa-scored The World’s Greatest Sinner — was supposed to be making a perfectly normal ultra-low budget suspense picture, except after a while he got bored/panicked with the project’s development and, as I’d hope we’d all do in that situation, put together a pair of superhero costumes from stuff off the rack at Sears and finished the shoot in style. Someone has a gorilla suit? BOOM – action scene. A parade scheduled that week? They crashed the parade in costume and stole the footage for a set piece. However, the corollary legend, that Steckler didn’t want to pay to fix a fairly evident grammatical error in the title, is apparently not true – it was a little chant one of his kids started saying, so damn it, that was title.

Rat Pfink a Boo Boo is a lot like Kick-Ass, in that they’re both about superheroes in a ‘real’ world that obviously a total fake. But Steckler’s picture accomplishes this by purely cinematic and almost certainly accidental means, in that it ‘answers’ the completed footage of the crime movie it was supposed to be with acutely improvised capes ‘n tights antics, sprinkled with barely-relevant home movie footage cut A Hard Day’s Night-style to songs by leading man Ron Haydock, a rockabilly crooner supporting himself by writing scores of disreputable adult novels (and a few comics scripts for Warren magazines on the side, under the pseudonym Arnold Hayes). All boundaries between reality and fiction and art and assemblage are obliterated by the movie’s frantic lunge toward saleability, and by its effort it exhausts itself into a shambling heap of genre suggestion – if the Batman show was a slickly professional, comparatively desexualized variant cover of, say, Mike & George Kuchar, Rat Pfink a Boo Boo doubles right back to source material, the old Batman serials, transmitted in the form of a child’s daydream, half-understood real world anxieties careening into romper room escapades set to whatever’s on the radio nearby, pretty much. Like, there’s no sync sound or anything.

Wasn’t that last shot the end of The Warriors? I don’t think this has quite the same appeal – actually I suspect most people will find it to be lethally inane if not completely unwatchable, but there’s something to be said for a hard-headed exploitation film that does literally everything wrong, to the point where its very commercial intent is called into question. Pair it up with straight-arrow bullshit like Jerry Warren’s The Wild World of Batwoman from the same year and the difference is plain – Steckler is coming from a deeply goofy, weirdly personal place, committing to film the most inexplicable longbox find of your entire convention season.

Anyway, I’m confident that any of the fine artists listed below would be proud to have their work deemed the Rat Pfink a Boo Boo of comics of 2010. Immortality isn’t pretty, but it lasts.


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Fanboy Dreamz


Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Yes, I was briefly excited by this news that David Fincher is in charge of a Heavy Metal film revamp (er, another one!). I sometimes think Fincher is great. Zodiac was a masterpiece. Then there was Benjamin Button. No one is perfect. In any case, there are a few oddities here: It’s funny to me that someone would be SO excited to make an anthology movie based on, I guess, the “idea” of an anthology that was last good 25 years ago. On the other hand, I kinda understand it — HM represents a cinema-friendly storytelling style and is ready-made content for CG-fetishists. Assuming this involves work like Arzach and RanXerox, as opposed to, oh, I dunno, Captain Sternn, it could be rather remarkable. Then again, Kevin Eastman was attached as director, too. So… oh hell. There was a period when Chris Cunningham was set to make RanXerox, which could have truly blown minds and would again make sense since Cunningham worked for Fincher on Alien: Resurrection Alien 3. The whole thing seems to have fallen apart, and while I once even saw some gorgeous production designs online, they seem to have vanished. Alas, I suppose I would just hope for some kind of blowback that sees a RanXerox, color-corrected deluxe edition published. Or the complete works of Sergio Macedo. Etc. Incidentally, here are Cunningham’s designs (under the name Chris Halls) for the unfortunately terrible Judge Dredd movie. This post is called “pulling a Frank.”

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #14


Sunday, September 27, 2009

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“We decided that the light should be emotional rather than realistic,” says [Alain] Resnais, citing a source of inspiration in one of his beloved comic-strip illustrators, Terry and the Pirates creator Milton Caniff. “At a time when comic strips were very disparaged as an art form, I was very happy to learn that Orson Welles and Milton Caniff had a correspondence in which they said that each was influenced by the other. And Orson Welles was not an imbecile!”

Village Voice, Sept. 22, 2009

An easy one, but a good ground rule double all the same.


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Groundwork of Evangelion: 1.0/“cinematic” comics


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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This is my first post here. I’ve never regularly written about comics, or anything else, before so please “go easy” on me and forgive my poor word-writing ability. Thanks to the CC crew for inviting me to participate. I will try to post once a month, unless my previous posts become too embarrassing.
Groundwork of Evangelion: 1.0 (2008) is a collection of preparatory drawings and pencil tests for the (forthcoming to the USA) animated movie. The pencil test drawings usually follow a grid but occasionally a single frame is enlarged to cover two tiers. It reminds me of how sometimes when a newspaper strip was collected into a book format the publisher would print a single panel larger than the others. Since everything was originally drawn to the same scale, a single panel would have larger text and the ben-day dots would be bigger, oppressive. It’d give it a Pop art aesthetic for just one panel. Or the old Crockett Johnson Barnaby reprints where the publisher stacked the panels Yummy Fur style. My favorite example of this is a Little Orphan Annie reprint where all of the panels were spaced out strangely, still following a grid but with unusually large gutters. Each panel was orphaned from the others. I wonder if the cartoonists themselves approved any of these decisions.

Anyway, this book isn’t really a comic book or an ani-manga (stills from a movie arranged as a comic for no good reason- see the Pantheon Scanner Darkly release) although you could read it as a confusing one. And it doesn’t have the fanboy nerd-fest feel of one of those “concept art” books, where you can see endless drawings of how a mecha looks and what all of the parts supposedly do.

This is a book of ephemeral, notational drawings for a movie that I haven’t seen yet. Large portions of it look like if Cy Twombly drew a comic.

Other parts look like portraits of character scenes where the “performance” in the drawings are still being worked out. Since it’s all light-boxed from previous drawings, it has a thin-line traced drawing look like Warhol line drawings.
They’re marked with little notes that I don’t understand. All of the Japanese I once knew is gone, and I don’t know filmmaking vocabulary anyway. Unlike comics, which have a widely-known “insider” language (“these bubbly shaped frames around the words mean the character is thinking- is that cool with everybody?” “yeah, okay”) this is a totally foreign “insider” language used by the people at the studio to communicate to each-other. They weren’t drawn to be published for a wide audience; but here they are, published, and I could go into Kinokuniya in NYC and buy a copy. Awesome.

It seems like “cinematic” is used as a derogatory word for a comic because it suggests that the comic was designed for the reader to use it as a springboard to imagine something that it’s not. Obviously, most cartoonists would like to think that they’re making comics as opposed to imaginary movies awaiting a budget.

Since this is published and I could get a copy before I could see the movie, I’m left with a book that stands on its own in my mind. I know the characters from the animated series, but these drawings are too abstract for me to connect it to a specific scene. It’s too incomplete for me to use the drawings to imagine what the movie will be like.

Chris Ware and other cartoonists have frequently dissed the idea of “cinematic” comics in a variety of ways:

“Some of the best comics, I think, are still from the turn of the century, when the medium was still being developed as a language. And each particular artist developed that language to suit his or her own particular vision, which I don’t think has happened since the 1940s, where it’s just absorbed- this sort of ready made language of, sort of cinematic close-ups and dissolves and long-shots and that sort of stuff.”

I just googled “Chris Ware cinematic interview” and pulled this up. He’s said similar things in interviews I remember reading. I think Ware’s the greatest living cartoonist, but what’s strange about this argument to me is that:

(a) So many of the early newspaper comics that Ware and other cartoonists love and appropriate from have a language based in theater (like Thimble Theater). There’s a lot of theatrical staging in contemporary cartooning. Why is theater somehow more akin to comics than movies? When these early cartoonists were drawing comics, it made sense to be influenced by theater because it was an extremely popular medium, like movies are today. In fact, I think movies are a little tiny bit closer to comics (as a medium) because film is on a 2-dimensional plane while theater is 3-dimensional.

(b) What’s wrong with drawing from a “cinematic” language?

Here’s another Chris Ware quote from

“I don’t like to think of my work as ‘cinematic.’ A movie is passive — you’re watching it, taking it in. Where a comic strip, it’s completely active: you have to read it, search it for meaning, for the connection with your entire experience and your memory. Yes, you do have the illusion of watching something happen in a comic strip — but if it’s done well, it comes alive on the page like a novel. A novel is the most interactive thing ever created.”

I don’t think Ware is creating an either/or argument here. I don’t think he dislikes ALL movies, or feels that ALL movies are “passive.” I don’t know him, but I’d be surprised if that was the case.

This Evangelion book makes me think of “cinematic” comics in a positive way; not passive; one of many modern languages that comics can react to.

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