Peculia Artwork

Here Lies Richard Sala


Lucky by Gabrielle  Bell
Go to: Lucky by Gabrielle  Bell

More Nonsense: Violence Against Creators (and Characters)

Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was abducted on Thursday by by a group of masked gunmen believed to be working for President Bashar al-Assad. He was beaten, his hands were broken, and then he was abandoned on the side of a road, his attackers saying that this was "just a warning." Ferzat is a critic of the present regime. His latest cartoon compares al-Assad to his Libyan counterpart, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

al-Assad and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi by Ali Ferzat

Tom Spurgeon has link roundup. He has his doubts over the authenticity of a self-portrait making the rounds on the Web. Given the severity of Ferzat's injuries, it would have been an impressive act of defiance. Needless to say, the countries that have come out in support of the "Arab Spring", and actively lent support to the rebellion that ousted Gaddafi, have condemned the attack.

Noah Berlatsky interviews Shaenon Garrity, Lillian Diaz-Przybyl, and J.R. Brown about the effect of the Borders liquidation on the manga industry.

Timothy Callahan has read the entirety of Cerebus.

Ah, Grant Morrrison. He plans to bring the sex back to Wonder Woman. I can certainly get behind that if he manages to execute it well. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, he criticizes everything from sexism in superhero comics, rape as an occurring phenomenon in Alan Moore stories, to Chris Ware's supposed "nihilism." While many praised Morrison's candidness, David Brothers isn't having any of it. He points out that Morrrison should look at his own work first, especially when making claims like "I managed to do thirty years in comics without any rape!". And he calls him out on his unwillingness to speak on behalf of creators' rights:
You know what Frank Miller did when he got a platform? He repped, and he repped hard. For Jack Kirby, for Bill Finger, for Steve Ditko, and for other creators who deserved to get their art back or to own their creations. For those who got screwed in the name of profit and cheap labor. Sin City letters pages are littered with shots fired at Marvel over how they treated Jack Kirby. The Big Fat Kill (#5, I think) was where I found out that Marvel screwed Kirby. He built a platform and then he used it for good. Is he perfect? Nah. Bill Finger’s name isn’t on DKSA, though it might have been shouted at as a street name or something. But he tried. He got an acknowledgement to Finger and Jerry Robinson into DKR. He didn’t hide behind mealy-mouthed corporate speak to justify two guys getting screwed so that he could write Action Comics with a clean conscience. Two guys who jumpstarted the genre that he loves so much, at that.
Dan Nadel and J. Caleb Mozzocco also chime in.

Speaking of Kirby, Tom Spurgeon and Paul Gravett celebrate his 94th birthday.

(As my small way of showing support for the Marvel boycott, I've suspended reviewing any new Kirby-related material coming from the company, for now.)

Kevin Melrose asks "Is Flashpoint DC’s deadliest (and bloodiest) event yet?" citing a post by Chris Eckert, which puts the death toll conservatively at 833 million. But it isn't that number that impresses (Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Infinity Gauntlet were statistically far worse), it's the outright sadism towards the characters that accumulate over the course of the event. His list of deaths is quite an eye opener for the variety of ways the characters meet their gruesome ends. This parade of gore and violence is so ludicrous it becomes tedious self-parody.

Blackest Night #1: Writer: Geoff Johns Pencils: Ivan Reis Inks: Oclair Albert Colors: Alex Sinclair.

The Big Two's reliance of universe-wide events to hold on to their shrinking readership is kind of like the movie industry's reliance of expensive tentpole movies to hold on to movie theater patrons. Following the storylines through several ongoing titles is prohibitive and costly, as is the weekend movie goer being made to regularly watch effects-laden mega-blockbusters in 3D. As with the movie studios, there's a general willingness to blame this decline on anything else, rather than admit to the possibility that the audience is shrinking because the final product they release usually sucks. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, co-publisher Dan Didio acknowledges the 52 relaunch is related to falling sales:
"The truth is people are leaving anyway, they’re just doing it quietly, and we have been papering it over with increased prices,” DiDio said. “We didn’t want to wake up one day and find we had a bunch of $20 books that 10,000 people are buying."
 Von Allan's tracks the rise of comic book prices with the minimum wage, and his conclusions don't bare any good news for DC outside of a temporary spike in sales.

Speaking of crossovers, Jess Evins traces their literary and mythological roots.

James Sturm tells us how hard it is to get a cartoon into the New Yorker.

Ah Jim Shooter. According to him, Marvel almost published DC in 1984.

Derik Badman makes a webcomic of the sky with his digital camera.

Johnny Ryan plays Chester Brown in Paying For It

I babble on about the Hooded Utilitarian best of comics poll.

Other News:

Astrophysicists have made the most realistic depiction yet of spiral galaxy formation. Supercomputers are fun!

Linux, Linux, Linux!

Steve Jobs gives and takes way.


Yang on The Promise

Aang and Monkey King by  Gene Luen Yang.
Go to:  Gene Luen Yang

The Monkey King is not teaming up with Aang.

Gene continues to boycott The Last Airbender for its preferential casting.

I just got the news

Steve Wozniak and Steve  Jobs
This was a long time coming. Thanks Steve, and good luck.

Update: Richard Stevens pays tribute the Jobs. He also has been selling a shirt for would-be Mac hipsters.

I was a Mac user when Apple was doomed, by Richard Stevens


JLA: A League of One

JLA: A League of One by Christopher Moeller, with Bill Oakley.
By Christopher Moeller, with Bill Oakley

I'm currently more broke than usual, hence the lack of reviews lately on the blog. So I'm forced to delve into my own archives and revisit some old reading material. I have to admit that I was first swayed by the packaging of JLA: A League of One to purchase it. The story itself could have been told within the pages of a regular comic book, but is distinguished by Christopher Moeller's painted artwork. The pages are printed on thicker glossy stock, bound as a hardcover, and wrapped in a dust jacket containing an illustration of a lone Wonder Woman confronting an enormous dragon. "How cool was that!" I probably thought at the time. But hey, my decade-old copy's still in great condition.

"A League of One" takes place during Grant Morrison's icon-centric run of the Justice League. Drakul Karfang, the last dragon on earth, has awoken from more than six centuries of hibernation. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman listens to a prophecy made by the Oracle of Delphi that foretells the fall of the JLA after battling Karfang. To prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy, WW incapacitates her teammates, assuming sole claim to the JLA title, then takes on the dragon alone. She stops the dragon and dies bravely, but is bought back to life anyway. Hallelujah!

JLA: A League of One by Christopher Moeller, with Bill Oakley.
parapraxis #1

This comic is often bandied about when fans discuss "best of" Wonder Woman stories. Is it as grand as Moeller's cover suggests? Hardly. Inserting WW into a fantasy setting sounds like a great idea in theory. But it falls kind of flat. The problem is that the fantasy tropes being trotted out can't hide the fact that "A League of One" is still a standard superhero adventure. The JLA and WW are a little too invincible to function like traditional fantasy characters. Superman's compared to a god. Batman's prickly genius is indomitable as typically portrayed in other DC books. The story reflects the publisher's policy of hammering the message that their propertied are icons. Moeller lays it out a little too thick when describing how WW's virtually free of self deceit, even as she goes about tricking the JLA. And that's problematic. Most fantasy stories of this type work when the outgunned heroes set out on a quest to uncover the enemy's fatal flaw. But DC's A-list superheroes simply smash the bad guys. For all intents and purposes that's what WW does after she's finished with the League. Boring!

An unfortunate side effect of using this icon-drenched JLA roster is that it only serves to emphasize how anachronistic it is. The original League was basically a boy's club with WW the sole exception. Now the reader is supposed to believe that WW would sacrifice her life for her comrades. And I suppose fans take that for granted. I dunno. As far as this book is concerned it feels like WW's just taking orders from the Martian Manhunter. There's an unspoken sexual tension between her and Superman, but it never goes anywhere. So where's the personal connection that could be used to justify WW's extreme behaviour? Ultimately the whole thing is just another episode of the ongoing adventures of the League, and another excuse to trot out the company's big guns without altering their respective continuities. Fine, but Moeller oversells WW's compassion when she goes out of her way to keep her super-powered colleagues safe. They're not innocent bystanders or part of WW's civilian supporting cast. They're her comrade-in-arms. No reason to deny them that opportunity to fight a monster. Why does she even bother?

JLA: A League of One by Christopher Moeller, with Bill Oakley.
parapraxis #2
As a threat, Karfang fizzles out. Moeller hard-sells the dragon as the embodiment of lies just as much as he does with WW as the paragon of truth, producing similarly unconvincing results. Karfang might appear frightening. But as Batman astutely points out "The JLA has taken on Darkseid and won." Is Moeller arguing that Karfang presents an even greater evil than Darkseid? In the end Karfang is just a "monster of the week" threat to WW, rendering the JLA's involvement superfluous. The story begins with the dragon being driven to ground by a Crusader army led by a knight on horseback armed with a lance. A lance folks. That's all it took. When she awakens from her slumber, all she does is conquer the adjacent town. Meanwhile, nearly half the book is spent on WW taking down the JLA. She could have easily told them "By the way, I need to go to Switzerland for a couple of hours and punch a dragon in the face. No need to come along. I got this." And it would be obvious to them that she's technically the most qualified to deal with the situation. But then DC wouldn't have the page count to justify a hardcover.

It's not all bad. "A League of One" is still an attractive work, and Moeller is a fair fantasy artist. The orange and brown palette may look a little dated, but he renders some beautiful scenes. The fantasy elements in general, not just Karfang, are well realized. Some of the superhero art even works. The violent confrontation between WW and Superman is both viscerally powerful, and in a few panels involving vultures amusing to read. Still, this isn't the comic that's going to convince everyone that superheroes look better when painted, as a lot of the time they appear less like living figures and more like mannequins or action figures. Finally, as much as I've grumbled about the gratuitousness of WW's defeat of the JLA, it's not a complete waste when she manages get the last word on Batman. Given how many times Supes and Bats get away with kicking JLA ass, this is a rare reversal. After all, it's not like those beatdowns weren't also contrived forms of fan service.

JLA: A League of One by Christopher Moeller, with Bill Oakley.
parapraxis #3

Hello Brandon

Royal Boiler by Brandon Graham
Royal Boiler by Brandon Graham
Go to: Royal Boiler by Brandon Graham


Quote: We Stopped Dreaming

And so when someone says, "We don't have enough money for this space probe," I'm asking, no, it's not that you don't have enough money, it's that the distribution of money that you're spending is warped in some way that you are removing the only thing that gives people something to dream about tomorrow.

You remember the 60s and 70s. You didn't have to go more than a week before there's an article in Life magazine, "The Home of Tomorrow," "The City of Tomorrow," "Transportation of Tomorrow". All of that ended in the 1970s. After we stopped going to the Moon, it all ended. We stopped dreaming.

And so I worry that the decision that Congress makes doesn't factor in the consequences of those decisions on tomorrow. Tomorrow's gone. They're playing for the quarterly report, they're playing for the next election cycle, and that is mortgaging the actual future of this nation, and the rest of the world is going to pass us by.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson on recent NASA budjet cuts (via io9)

Good Grief! Don't go into the water

Snake Oil by Charles Forsman
Go to: Snake Oil by Charles Forsman (via Caleb Goellner)

Didn't Snoopy pretend to be a shark in a couple of strips?

Nostalgia means never having to leave the sixties at Marvel

Susan and reed Richards by Phil Noto.
Go to: Your Nice New Outfit by Phil Noto (via Kevin Melrose)

No way would I want to hang out with them. These people are OLD!

I went to China

Sarah McIntyre’s China travel comic!
Go to: Sarah McIntyre’s China travel comic! at David Fickling Books Blog (via Brigid Alverson)


Fifty years ago, the Marvel Age began

...Under the shadow of thinking. That's what happens when beating the Commies takes precedence over pure science:

Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by George Klein, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek.
Go to: Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun! for more FF goodness.

Eh, screw this. Marvel hasn't bestowed on Jack Kirby the respect he deserves. This puts a damper on celebrations of the whole "Marvel Age" thing. Better yet, let's not forget the true heroes of the , like cosmic-powered Laika:

The Alternative Endings to Laika Show by Nick Abadzis.

That's an explorer I can get behind.


More NonSense Followup: The Miles Morales Backlash

 Ultimate Fallout #4

In Ultimate Fallout #4, it was revealed that the new Spider-Man within the Ultimate universe is a half-black, half-Hispanic teenager named Miles Morales. This may not be the mainline version, but Spider-Man is nonetheless the most recognizable Marvel superhero to undergo such a major revision. Given how difficult it is to establish new characters/ideas within the traditional shared universe, this is a significant attempt to create a viable non-Caucasian superhero who already possesses the cachet of a core property.

Disappointingly, if not surprisingly, the move produced an eruption of fan backlash. Most accused Marvel of being unnecessarily "PC", or having a case of "killing of whitey". Dan Harmon characterized them as a "... previously unknown demographic of racist comic-book readers...” Rich Johnston noted some of the more negative commentary on the Web, including the infamous twitters of Larry Doherty, owner/manager of Larry’s Comics.

Kevin Melrose covers the impact of writer/actor Donald Glover's campaign to be cast as Spider-Man.

David Brothers expresses the most positive outlook on the news, seeing the creative possibilities of finally having a character not saddled with 50 years of Peter Parker's continuity:
I don’t necessarily think Marvel should be patted on the back, but this is a pretty cool move. No other major character–and the major characters these days are Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, make no mistake–have been replaced by a non-white. In this case, the one, true Spider-Man, or Ultimate Spider-Man, or whatever, is a black guy. What’s more, this’ll pull the Ultimate universe away from pantomiming the past, which is what the last murderfest and reboot was supposed to do. You can’t do a retread of Venom with Miles Morales. They don’t have the history, and there are no expectations.
Heidi McDonald quotes the explanations of writer Brian Michael Bendis and editor-in-chief Alex Alonso, as well as the official Marvel PR on the relaunched Ultimate Spider-Man series.The comments section has the opinions of comics professionals like Kurt Busiek and Andrew Farago.

In another post, Heidi wonders if Marvel and DC are getting left behind by a changing market. She questions the old adage that non-white characters don't sell.

On the topic of minority representaions in superhero comics, J. Caleb Mozzocco points out the dubious portrayal of African-American charcters Cyborg and real-life president Barack Obama in DC's crossover event Flashpoint. Yeah, it's been a hell of a week for DC.

Just in case you forgot who created Captain America

Ty Templeton's Art Land!!