Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sweet Mama Pajama Moment

I am still trying to figure out my favorite comic for the week. While I ponder I'll leave you with this panel from Wolverine #47.

Um...crap. Um...holy crap! Um...Holy Sweet Mama Pajama Crap! Humberto Ramos, you are the best. When you leave the comic so do I.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thoughts for Tuesday

I just want to start this post by saying I don’t hate Marvel comics. There are those people out there who think so but it’s not true. There are many Marvel titles that go straight to the top of my “to read” pile. Nextwave, Moon Knight, and Runaways are long time favorites not to mention the new love I have for Incredible Hulk thanks to Greg Pak’s amazing writing job. So I do like the comics that are put out by Marvel. I just have issue with how the company does its business and how that business affects the story.

We are in the age of the blockbuster, grand scale stories with big endings and even bigger action. The comic industry is no exception as huge crossover events take control of what we see from May – November. There are preludes and tie-ins and each of the Big Two does it. DC had its Identity Crisis that led to Infinite Crisis that led into One Year Later/52. Marvel has House of M that led to DeciMation that led to Civil War. Both companies are guilty of big events but I think Marvel is guilty of doing so at the expense of story and character.

Scarlet Witch destroys the Avengers; the superheroes get together to maybe kill her and bam House of M. I had no problem with event; I was really excited about it. It felt like something that would happen. A story based on motivations that I would believe. Then it kind of screwed around with all the alternate world stuff, basically becoming a huge “What If” and went out with a whimper. There were ramifications here and there but ultimately I didn’t see much of a lasting effect. Peter never really told Mary Jane that she wasn’t in his perfect world. Hulk was quickly shipped off to space, Sentry and then Ronin showed up in the Avengers. Sure 90% of the mutants disappeared but it barely registered in some of the titles.

Then comes Civil War and we forget House of M. It was almost as if Marvel went “Well, that didn’t really work. Let’s get started on next summer.” That is the problem. There is no build, no sense of what has gone before affecting what happens next. How does House of M lead to Civil War? Certainly not as well as Identity Crisis led to Infinity Crisis. If the Registration Act was a result of the government getting pissed off that the superheroes caused reality to be rewritten then I could feel more for the story. Instead the Act comes up in Spider-man (although apparently Stark has been fighting it for years) and then takes on a new level of serious (before we even got a handle on the old level) when Nitro blows up a town. This looming law leading into a disastrous war all created and put into effect in the span of six or seven issues. That’s artificially making up a problem just so you could have a big event.

I would still be o.k. with Marvel if they hadn’t changed characters to suit their needs. Look at what happened to Spider-Man. Here is a guy who has held his own for decades, a great man, a hard fighter and a pretty damn fine scientist. During the build towards Civil War he has been an idiot. He is all “Yes, Tony” and “No problem, Boss.” He has been turned into a naïve rookie, not a veteran do-gooder. I believe that recent Spider-Man would naturally follow Iron Man, would unmask, fight Captain America, and everything else he has done. But the recent Spider-Man is not the Spider-Man of years past. He has been fundamentally altered so that he could fill the role of the superhero with the epiphany. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have found a character whose personality was more suiting to the role.

Now we stand on the threshold of Hulk War in the summer of 2007. It comes out of Hulk being pissed about being shipped into space and returning with an army. That’s cool; I can absolutely see it coming out of Planet Hulk. How does it come out of Civil War though? I have no idea.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

On an Indie flip

So yesterday I traveled from the comforts of my home in Washington, D.C. into the far suburban regions of Northern Bethesda. My goal? This year’s Small Press Expo (SPX). As I walked the rows of tables set up in the Marriot’s conference room I was struck by the bazaar feeling of the whole affair. The creators hawk their wares with loud voices, bribe us with candy, and fill our pockets with post cards and mini-issues. The friend who attended SPX with me, a hardcore non-comic reader, left contented because the driver’s side visor is now overflowing with ironic and free pins.

The large, more mainstream cons I’ve attended this year have a completely different feeling. We wait in lines for hours to shake hands with Johns, Cassidy, the Romitas, Lee and so on. We pack ourselves into rooms hoping that whatever panel we are watching might drop a hint or two. We root through boxes of back stock trying to find that first appearance of Multiple Man. The creators sit on their piles of comic cash, enjoying our adoration. They can be very pleasant and very nice but you can tell they revel in their celebrity. Hell, if I ever get there I will do the same thing.

The artist, writers and artist/writers at SPX did not act this way. No at the SPX the power seems to shift to the consumer. We envy them for actually publishing something. At the same time though we snub the stuff we don’t think is up to snuff. We are the art critics and think to ourselves, “Crap is crap no matter how indie it is. Just look at You Are Here.” I'm definitely sure that neither convention dynamic is fair but it still felt like the dynamic.

This isn’t to say there aren’t those small press heroes, creators who give me the “I just met Elvis" willies. I could barely stutter out, “The first issue of Pirates… was awesome,” to Rick Spears. Then again when I met Geoff Johns I think I drooled on myself. But most of these people are complete unknowns to me.

This isn’t to say that I’m a complete small press novice. I fell over myself at the Oni table and spent a good hour trying to decide whether or not to buy the “Sex Bomb-omb” T-shirt to show my love for Scott Pilgrim (see Why I Love Oni Press… pt. 2). I know of the adventures of Owly and pointed out Andy Runton to my buddy. When someone said they had a Xeric grant I knew what he was talking about. However, ninety-five percent of the people in the room were complete strangers to me. I think this is a shortcoming and I definitely noticed there were some books that I would have picked up had I had the money.

One thing I did pick up was Musings on a Month of Requests by So I was doing my my everyday or so check of Newsarama and I came across Rachel Maguire. She does drawings based on requests that people make on her website. The pictures are incredible, involving whimsy and a super cool style. Best one…request #29. Ninja penguins. She also gave me a free button because I said I love monkeys. Yay, free monkey pins.

Lastly, I just want to say that my hair only looks that thin because of the light behind me.

I'm not really bald. Really. I promise I'm not bald.