Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thirty In Thirty - Days Four and Five

Sorry I haven't updated the blog in the last couple of days. I'm transitioning from one job to another and bills are piling up fast, so until I can get back on my feet financially, internet is one of those things that I have to skimp on. Right now, skimping means "borrowing" a neighbor's connection. That connection isn't always reliable and for the last couple of days it hasn't worked well at all. Given that I've been busy with training at the new job the last couple of days, I haven't had a lot of time to get to a library or coffee shop to update. Have no fear though, faithful readers, for I have not abandoned the project.

As I mentioned before, I didn't have a lot of time over the last couple of days, so I dialed back the effort to script my own characters and put together a couple of quick established superhero things again. The first is a humorous Green Lantern/Green Arrow story that features an fun cameo at the end of the story. The GL/GA piece is six pages long, for those of you keeping count.

The second story is a one page piece about Robin and his pal, Ace the Bat-Hound. I recently rescued a black lab (with some hound dog in there somewhere too I think) and, given my love of all things Batman, decided to name him Ace. Inspired by his playful mischief (he, much like Batman, cannot be contained by cage or trap), I wrote an eight-panel spread featuring him and the Boy Wonder. The story features Robin (young Tim Drake) searching for his boots which Ace is playfully running around the Batcave with. Like I said, it's just one page, but it's fun and kid-friendly, which I love. Maybe I'll post the script soon.

I'll be back later tonight with some work from today, though technically, with the six-page GA/GL, I'm way ahead of schedule. How is everyone else doing?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thirty In Thirty - Day Three

Well, it only took me two days to decide to do something differently. I did some superhero stuff tonight, but it's my own character, not an established one. The character is called The Poet. I believe I mentioned him here once before, but I'm not certain. The Poet is a hero in the vein of some of the old Charlton characters and is most similar to last night's subject, The Question.

The Poet takes place in post-WWII New York City and is set in and around the emerging "beat" movement. The book mixes elements of magic and two-fisted justice with the historical, artistic and political developments of America in the 1950s. The book also serves as sort of the starting point (with one notable exception that I'll get to later) of the superhero universe that I created recently. You remember, the one populated with all the analogs that I mentioned in my "analog dilemma" post? Anyway, the Poet stories serve as the spine of that universe.

I only got the first page done tonight because, well, I'm exhausted. I start a new job in the morning and it will be the first time in nearly two years that I've had to drag myself up at the crack of dawn in order to get to work on time. For this insomniac, that doesn't sound pleasant. But the job is a good one with the potential to be great and it's a company I've wanted to work for for quite some time. Once I adjust to the schedule, I should have a lot more free time and energy to work on various projects. But tonight...tired.

So one page complete with more to come.

Anybody else have progress to report?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thirty in Thirty - Day Two

Tonight's work is a silent Question story. Anybody who knows me knows that The Question is one of my favorite comic characters of all time. From the earliest Charlton comics, through Denny O'Neil's iconic run, even onto Rick Veitch and 52. So when I decided to do some short superhero scripts for the Thirty In Thirty project, I thought it appropriate that The Question get some attention.

I did things a bit differently tonight than I have done them in the past. The story is three pages (two standard pages and a full page shot) and I thumbnailed it all out before I wrote the script. The thumbnailing process worked pretty well, though it was fairly simple for this comic since it's meant to be silent. I'm interested to try it for a story that actually has dialogue.

I like how this turned out. It's basic, but it's definitely got the right feel for a classic Question story. I love that there are characters out there that are so iconic, that have such natural force, you can tell a story with them in just a few panels and have it resonate immediately with fans. In my world, the Question is definitely one of those characters and I think this story does him justice.

How was everyone's Day Two?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thirty In Thirty - Day One

My first page is done, but it's not great. I think what I'm going to do with my end of the project is try and write a quick, 1-2 page story with established characters. I was extremely inspired by Mark Chiarello's Wednesday Comics project and I'm curious to see if I can do something similar with established characters. I may change my mind about this starting tomorrow, but right now, this is my goal.

Tonight's page (actually, its two pages, four panels and a full page shot) is a Wolverine story. It's the kind of fun, all-ages comic that I'm a big fan of. Not that I can't enjoy the pages of Milligan's Hellblazer or Aaron's Scalped, but anyone who knows me knows that I think superhero comics appropriate for all ages are extremely important to the industry. Sure, some of you are probably thinking, "Wolverine? Safe for kids?" Fanboys know that Wolverine is a cold-blooded killer, but that doesn't stop him being one of the most recognizable characters in comics, complete with his own film franchise. So when it comes to characters that comics writers can utilize to get kids interested in the medium, Wolverine is near the top.

I'm not sure if I'm going to post the script because I'm prouder of the concept than I am the execution. Of course, getting better at the execution is part of the point. I'm going to finish watching Monday Night Football and then I'll probably tweak it a bit and post it in the morning.

What's everybody else working on?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thirty Pages In Thirty Days

I turn thirty in just over a month (October 21st) and to be honest, it's got me a little rattled. I'm not having an early mid-life crisis. You won't see me driving a new sports car or going on a "bro's only" ten day trip to Las Vegas, not that I could afford those things anyway. But to say it's not having a similar effect on me would be a lie.

When I was younger, thirty seemed far enough away that I just assumed I'd have my entire life worked out by then. At twenty-nine, I can safely say I'm nowhere near having everything figured out. Hell, there are days when I don't feel like I have anything worked out at all. Almost a month away from this milestone year and I'm unemployed, broke and at times completely directionless.

When I left high school, I thought I'd be in college for four years and after that I'd just, well, BE a writer. Sure, there'd be hardships, pitfalls along the way, but it was nothing a genius kid from the sticks couldn't handle. It turned out to be a hell of a lot more than I could handle. Or maybe it was just more than I was willing to handle. Let's face it, to know me is to know a picture of ennui. I can be one of the most pessimistic, cynical and, well, lazy people on the planet at times. I get frustrated, I get discouraged, I let myself believe in the worst possible outcome in all situations.

Okay, so, I'm being hard on myself. I'm not always like that, though I am capable of falling into some pretty long stretches of self-doubt and inactivity. Like, say...21-25. That's a pretty long stretch, right? Over the years, I've probably spent as much time talking about being a writer as I have actually writing. That has changed in the last couple of years, as I've taken a more active stance on making this writing for a living thing actually happen, but for years it just seemed like a pipe dream, or, maybe just something I'd get around to eventually. I always wrote, but it was mostly for myself.

A couple of things shook me up lately though. First, a friend told me that the stories in my head weren't for me, that they were for everyone and that I'd be cheating everyone by not allowing them to see these stories. That hit me pretty hard, because its correct. All these notebooks full of worlds that I've built, all these google docs full of half-written pitches and unfinished scripts, what is their purpose? What's a story that never gets told? Worthless, that's what. It's not helping anybody or inspiring anybody just sitting there collecting cobwebs, virtual or not.

The second bit of posterior fire-lighting came from another friend, who essentially told me, while drunk, that I had to shit or get off the pot. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that my pitches are great but that my scripts were not. Not that he was being mean, he was just being honest (maybe a bit more honest because of the inebriation). I have a knack for world-building, but I am still so green that I need to hone my chops. I need to be able to tell a story in this language of comics, and that means scripts that just knock the shit out of an editor and make he or she say, "Yes, grab this guy an artist, pay this man a small sum to do something awesome." Right now, I can speak this language, but I'm not a master of it. Anything less than a mastery means I'm just a fan for the rest of my life.

I'm not okay with that.

So here I am, staring down the barrel of THIRTY YEARS OLD like it's a nickel-plated harbinger of doom. Maybe it's not though. Maybe it's like the Death card in a tarot deck, ominous to be sure, but not necessarily a signifier of bad things to come. So in the interest of appeasing my constructively critical friends and making serious strides toward being the creator I want to be, I've decided to challenge myself.

I've got just slightly more than thirty days before I hit the big 3-0. In that time, I'm going to write thirty pages. Sound easy? Maybe it will be. Maybe it will be frustrating, terrifying and hard. Maybe it will be fun. I'm certain, no matter what, that it will be constructive. The thing about this is, I don't want to do it alone. So I'm not issuing this challenge just to myself, but also to any creator out there, professional or otherwise, that wants to give this a shot.

Here it is: Thirty Pages In Thirty Days

Starting Monday September 13th (I'm aware this is NFL opening weekend and many of you won't pay attention to this at all if I start it tomorrow) I want to see a page a day for thirty straight days. I'm going to be doing this myself and posting my progress here at Surfing the Bleed. If you want to engage in this exercise as well, then you can e-mail me your progress and/or get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter. Now there are no hard rules here. If you want, you can write thirty one page stories, a la Wednesday Comics. If you feel so inclined, you can right a 22-page one shot and an 8-page back-up. Maybe you're feeling ambitious and you want to write the first thirty pages of your epic graphic novel. Whatever you decide, I want thirty scripted pages before my thirtieth birthday. Consider it a present to me. You all love me, right?


So there's the challenge. Are you up to it? Am I?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jason Latour - Recording the Bleed

I interviewed Daredevil: Black & White contributor Jason Latour at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con. Below are parts one and two. I had to cut the second part a bit abruptly, due to YouTube's upload requirements. It's okay though, all you're missing is us going on about the Big Lebowski and professional wrestling.

Actually, that might have been the best part.

In all seriousness though, Jason was a great guy and he had some fantastic advice for young creators. It's a bit of a haul (twenty minutes?! what?!) but it's well worth it.

Now, without further ado, Jason Latour.

and part two

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Baltimore 2010

My terribly vague recap of the Baltimore Comic-Con, complete with firefighting midget leg retrievers, is up at Broken Frontier.

Baltimore Comic-Con 2010 - The Year We Make Contact...with Desperadoes!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Digital Comics Debate Heats Up!

Video uploading is taking longer than I expected (which is what happens when you are borrowing a crappy Clear Wire connection from a neighbor and are legitimately so broke you can't even afford to go to the coffee shop), but that doesn't mean we don't still have content. Okay, the content is technically borrowed, but hey, you get what you pay for.

A couple of very good editorials advocating the advancement of comics as a digital medium came out today, one from Comics Alliance and the other from Mark Waid via Comic Book Resources. Below are links to each.

Digital distribution and how it evolves is something the entire industry is watching. Expect to see more content about it here, as well as in my column at Broken Frontier, in the coming months.

Comics Alliance

Mark Waid

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Videos Galore!

I'm currently editing the Jason Latour and Jonathan Hickman videos I took at this past weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con. The Latour video should be up first thing in the morning and the Hickman video will follow shortly after that. Until then, tide yourselves over with the new trailer for Stan Lee's Soldier Zero, due out in October from BOOM! Studios.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Slightly Out of Date Yet Still Awesome Interview With: JEFF PARKER

Jeff Parker is the writer of Marvel's Atlas and Thunderbolts and is about to take over writing duties on Hulk as well. His style hearkens back to an earlier age of comics storytelling, when action and adventure were the order of the day and heroes weren't always the primary colored tight-dwellers we know today. He took a minute to sit down with Surfing the Bleed before this weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con and talked about his books, his process and his experience breaking into the industry.

Surfing the Bleed: Hello Jeff. Welcome to Surfing the Bleed. Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us today.

You seem to have a significant knowledge of the medium and its history. Does that stem from a love of comics as a child and was it always your goal to become part of the industry?

Jeff Parker: Before the internet made finding out about comics crazily easy, it was pretty difficult to learn how the books were made and about the personalities behind them. When Stan Lee would write his Bullpen Bulletins or Bob Rozakis would do his Ask the Answer Man for DC's books, they'd mention the creators and it would be a rare glimpse into these names as actual people instead of representing a particular art style. Then I found Comics Scene magazine, and eventually The Comics Journal, and I sucked up that info like a sponge. I devoured any history of Hal Foster or Milton Caniff I came across.

Do you remember the first comic you truly loved and how it affected your perception of the industry and your own personal goals?

Jeff Parker: Probably the Fawcett Dennis the Menace books. I didn't connect it to any goals at the time- I was 5, but I could tell I liked some artist better than all the others (it was Al Wiseman). I think at some point you look at comics purely by character; these are Superman books- and then you hit the level where certain ones matter more: these are CURT SWAN Superman books. And you know a creator is making the difference. Then hopefully you're on the path to following the creators instead, because that will yield more satisfaction for you as a reader.

You majored in English Lit, changing from your original goals to receive a degree in illustration. You cite the realization that you wouldn't be able to do the sort of illustration you wanted to do in the program you were enrolled in. Were you hoping for an education geared more toward a career in comics and how was that program holding you back?

Jeff Parker: Yes. I hid out in college for a good long time. I went to East Carolina University, first as an art major and then realized that like most modern art programs it was gallery focused, not as much illustration as I had hoped for. There were good teachers in the program. But I really got into my English classes thanks to some excellent professors. And since that was constant reading of story, it ended up helping me enormously- of course, I didn't know that later I would do so much writing. Many of my English teachers enjoyed comics and didn't feel the need to deride them like many art teachers did. Or at least, I lucked out and didn't get the teachers who would have scoffed at them.

What was your first work in the industry and how was the experience of breaking in during those early days of your career?

Jeff Parker: I did some stuff for free, like everyone usually has to at the beginning. I drew a story that artist Nathan Masengill wrote adapting Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, that was in a Caliber Comics book. Soon I got a job drawing a fill-in issue of Vampirella that never got printed because they went to a different format, but I got paid and that was exciting. A little later I got a couple issues of Wonder Woman to draw- a lot of people got to essentially audition at DC by drawing an issue of that. I finally got regular assignments from Malibu Comics when Hank Kanalz opened some samples of mine where I'd drawn the Fantastic Four. That put me on the book Solitaire with Gerry Jones writing.

Often times, it seems it is easier for an illustrator to break into the industry than someone who is only trying to make their way as a writer. Do you feel that your skills as an illustrator made it easier for you to break in?

Jeff Parker: That's true, but a loaded statement. "It's easier to break in as an artist, so go spend a decade or two learning how to draw, compose and do graphic storytelling. Then it's easy!" So it's a little silly for young writers to complain about how it's easier for editors to evaluate and hire an artist- it's a hell of a lot of work to even draw a story badly. But it is true that almost no one will read your script. No one has time to read your script, you have to find a way on your own to get it drawn. And that usually means Pay An Artist. If you think that's unfair, consider how much time you just shortcut by not having to learn to draw, and you'll feel better. Or look at all the much deeper investment almost anyone else has to make establishing themselves in another career. It's not like you had to pay your way through medical school.

Most of what you've written has been in the Action/Adventure vein. Your book Interman was a marriage of superhero tropes and Ludlum-style suspense, Agents of Atlas (now simply Atlas) feels a lot like an old pulp novel, similar in theme and style to the Doc Savage tales of old. Are you very familiar with those old pulp books and how big an influence were those early action/adventure stories on you as a writer?

Jeff Parker: Yes, back to college, when I started finding reprints of comic strips like Terry and the Pirates and Captain Easy, I was very happy. I essentially write everything more or less in the vein of those genres. Even when I'm writing an X-Men story, I'm thinking of them as adventurers, not mutants or superheroes. Probably the most clear homage recently I've done to that stuff is the new Gorilla-Man miniseries with artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo.

When you made your path into the industry, was it always your intention to sort of revisit that style of adventure storytelling and update it for a modern comics audience?

Jeff Parker: I don't know that I did it consciously, I think I just write to entertain myself first and everything else just follows. But I do generally try to poke away that idea that high adventure can only take place in the 1930s, there's no reason in 2010 you can't embrace that kind of traveling story of discovery.

Between X-Men First Class, Atlas and all the Atlas tie-ins, Marvel has given you the go ahead to write what feels at times like a living history of the Marvel Universe. You're really telling the stories that exist between the panels of some classic Marvel moments. How does it feel being the architect of that secret history?

Jeff Parker: I did get to do a fair amount of that too with World War Hulks when they let me write the villain collective The Intelligencia (and yes, I know how it's supposed to be spelled. I don't remember why we decided to alter it). That stuff is fun to pull off, but can be pretty difficult, trying not to change continuity. I prefer writing something I don't have to check with others on, like ATLAS.

You're part of the new guard at Marvel that includes creators such as Matt Fraction, Jason Aaron and Rick Remender. How does it feel being on the crest of such a powerful creative wave? Is there a big sense of community amongst the Marvel creative teams and do you guys draw a lot of inspiration from one another?

Jeff Parker: I certainly like those guys and read their books. We don't sit around a huge table and push action figures around like generals, though we probably should. And I don't know how much everyone is on some level competing, but I know I feel I can never just phone a story in when others are doing such excellent work. I wouldn't anyway, really. It helps that so many of us live in Portland and often see each other at parties. To get more involved I should probably play X-Box games.

You did some time on Marvel's kids-oriented line, Marvel Adventures. How important do you think it is that the big publishers make an effort to reach that younger audience with quality material? And, in your opinion, do you think that the industry is doing enough to try and hook new readers and create a next generation of fans for our work?

Jeff Parker: I think it's ALL-important. Anytime this subject comes up, you get the same answers "Hey, there's Bone..." Really we should have a hard time listing all the kid-friendly books, there should be so many. No other industry lets the young market get away as much as we do, most entertainment tries furiously to cater to them. Just because some approaches haven't worked in the past isn't an excuse to not keep trying.

Considering you are both a writer and an illustrator, you likely have a unique perspective on the collaborative process necessary to create comics. What advice can you give creators from both sides of the equation on how to best work together to create a successful finished product?

Jeff Parker: Writers, even if you can't draw, try laying out your pages with stick figures and make sure you're asking for things that work. Remember that it takes about ten times as long to draw the thing as it does to write it.

Artists, do whatever is in the interest of telling the kind of story this is, don't force it into what you'd rather draw. Pay close attention to acting, bringing a character alive is everything.

Both of you- write back and forth a lot and do some give and take. You can make this a collaboration that breathes instead of a mere assignment.

Can you speak a bit about your own scripting process? Do you like to maintain a particular amount of control over the process or do you tend to leave things more open-ended for your collaborator?

Jeff Parker: I mainly have certain things I need to happen to keep the tone and direction of the story, and I leave a lot of room for the artists to be themselves- I hope. I have a fairly sparse descriptive style in explaining the scene. I like to chime in at layout stage, not to be a control freak, but to help keep things on message before it becomes too labor intensive for an artist to make changes. As an artist I prefer that too- ask me to make changes while we're in rough pencil, not later!

Does your process ever shift depending on the artist you work with? For instance, you’ve worked with a lot of different artists at various points in your career, but it seems of late that your most frequent collaborator is Gabriel Hardman. Given your level of comfort with Gabriel, do you give him more breathing room than you might with another artist?

Jeff Parker: Oh yes. I for instance won't write a tech-heavy script if working with an artist who doesn't draw that stuff easily. If I suspect an artist likes drawing animals, it will suddenly become a zoo of a story. Gabe can draw anything, anywhere, any way it needs to be done. All he cares about is that the story is intriguing. So yes, he gets maybe more breathing room than most, largely because the editors also trust him explicitly. We turn into a bunch of fans when his pages come in.

Lastly, what advice can you give new creators on their own path into the industry?

Jeff Parker: Don't try to second guess readers, what you think will sell or what the next big thing is. That's a cynical approach, and one thing readers can sense above all is sincerity. They can tell when you believe in what you're doing, and they'll respond to that by joining in with you. So please yourself first. Don't ever think "well my work is at least as good as Creator X and they hire him..." that won't get you anywhere. Set sights very high, too high. You'd rather fall short of something amazing than some average work you see a million of.

Here's a big one- don't try to start off with an epic. I don't know how many grand trilogies I've known that were to be coming out from talented people with lots of potential, and of course we've never seen any of these. Keep your first works short and achievable. Don't put the light at the end of the tunnel years away, put it weeks away. That's the way these kind of goals are met. I assure you, I am right on that!

Thanks Jeff! Best of luck with all your projects in the coming year!

Jeff Parker: Thanks Brett. Hey, what took you so long with this interview?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baltimore Comic-Con Creator Profiles, Cont.

Below are more profiles for creators I'm looking for to meeting at next weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con

Francesco Francavilla - I first found out about Francesco Francavilla from my friend Evan Shaner, who is a member of the awesome Comic Twart blog with Francesco. I was immediately floored by the man's talent. His ability to perfectly capture the feel of old pulp pin-ups while still remaining wholly original is wildly impressive. While all the Twarters are unparalleled talents, its Francesco's additions each week that I look most forward to. Now it's come to our attention that he'll be pencilling the Commissioner Gordon co-feature in Detective Comics, which excites me to no end. I am looking forward to meeting the man and hopefully getting a sketch. What will I ask him to draw? Any damn thing he wants to.

Tony Harris - Tony Harris is one of the most popular and respected artists in the medium of comics. The regular artist on Brian K. Vaughan's Ex Machina and James Robinson's (maybe the best superhero series ever), Harris has cemented his place in history as one of the best. I'm hoping he'll have a little time to step away from the table and discuss the ending of Ex Machina, his time working with Robinson on Starman and where he sees his career going from here.

The day is almost upon us! Keep checking back with Surfing the Bleed for updates from the convention floor, the barroom floor and hopefully, NOT the bathroom floor.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Baltimore Comic-Con: Panel Preview!

I'm going to make this one pretty simple. Below are descriptions of the panels I'm most looking forward to seeing at next weekend's Baltimore Comic-Con.


ROOM 307

1:00 - 2:00 PM - Spotlight on Thor

Marvel is giving the con-goers a Thor spotlight in anticipation of the blockbuster film set to drop next year. The panel features the creative talent behind the Thunder God's exploits both past and present, including, but not limited to, the great Walter Simonson. Simonson's Thor stories are some of my favorite comics ever. Last year at Baltimore I had the chance to meet Mr. Simonson and he was one of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Having the chance to hear him discuss his addition to the Thor legacy will be a real treat for this longtime fan.

ROOM 308

11:00 - 12:00 PM - comiXology and the Future of Digital Comics

comiXology has positioned themselves as the industry's leading force in the growing world of digital comic distribution and collecting. In this panel, comiXology's CEO, David Steinberger, will be discussing the company's rise to success, their plans for future digital comics initiatives and his opinions on what the future of the industry might look like with the advances in digitial delivery. Digital distribution is here and it's here to stay, so it's important that those of us working in the industry and those of us covering the industry are as educated as we can be about where comics is headed in this new digital age. I, for one, am looking very forward to this discussion.

3:00 - 4:00 PM - Mondo Marvel

Marvel Comics' executive editor Tom Breevort joins Jonathan Hickman (yes) and Jeff Parker (oh hell yes) to discuss the current creative direction of Marvel Comics and to tease some things we can look forward to in the near future. I've really been digging Marvel lately and they've overtaken DC in number of pulls each week in my hold box, so I'm definitely looking forward to it. Add to it the fact that Hickman is rocking it these days and the chance we'll get some more Hulk info out of Jeff Parker and you've got a panel well worth spending an hour on.


ROOM 307

1:00 - 2:00 PM - Comics Rewind: The 1980s

Last year this panel was a spotlight on the 1970s and it was the best time that my friends and I had the entire show. This year the panel shifts to the 1980s, but with a similar focus. Mark Waid moderates as Louise and Walter Simonson, Marv Wolfman, Timothy Truman, Matt Wagner and John Workman relate stories about working in the comics industry during the 1980s. This is one of the most entertaining, free-form panels of the weekend and if it's anything like last year's 70s version, the stories should be VERY entertaining.

3:00 - 4:00 PM - Paul Pope vs. Bob Schreck

Paul Pope sits down with his longtime editor, Bob Schreck, and talks about, well, about just how awesome he is. What more do you need?

ROOM 308

1:00 PM - Costume Contest

The panels close down for the con and the costume contest winners are announced. It should be a great time to watch all the various contestants in their geek finery competing for a bevy of prizes. I imagine we'll see more than a few Scott Pilgrims this year, probably some Kick Ass characters (oy vey) and more than a fair share of Predators. Whatever the turnout it should be a really great time and a good way to close out the show before we all grab up a bunch of 75% off back issues and make our way to the bars.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Baltimore Comic-Con Preview: Round Two

One of the best aspects of the Baltimore Comic-Con is the amount of facetime it offers attendees with the various guests. Unlike shows such as San Diego and New York, Baltimore has a more laid back, comics-centric vibe. Creators aren't dropped into a panel then sped away to the next major mutlimedia event faster than you can say BAMF! At Baltimore Comic-Con, the opportunity to engage your favorite creators in meaningful conversation or to get feedback about your portfolio is better than just about any other show in the business. With that in mind, I'm going to run down some of the guests I'm most excited about meeting this year.

Howard Chaykin - A 30+ year veteran of the industry, Chaykin is one of the most respected (and controversial) creators in the business. To this day, his art remains some of the most striking and visually interesting artwork in the industry. Chaykin's name alone is enough to get me to shell out my hard earned coin and his runs on G.I. Joe and his own American Flagg set the industry high watermark for bad ass storytelling.

Mark Chiarello - Painter, illustrator and editor extraordinaire Mark Chiarello has been the brain behind some of the most interesting projects in DC history. He created the incredible Batman: Black & White series, was the editor of the acclaimed series Solo and most recently he was the man behind the excellent Wednesday Comics. I know that writers and editors are, at times, the worst of enemies, but personally, I can't wait to meet Mark Chiarello. The first thing he'd probably say is, "Less commas!"

Amanda Conner - To dismiss Amanda Conner as just, "Jimmy Palmiotti's Wife," would be a serious mistake. Sure, being married to one of the industry's most respected creators doesn't hurt her profile, but Conner's success is all her own. Conner's artwork is some of my favorite in the business. Her style, full of fun, bright renditions of iconic heroes, is immediately resonant with a large audience. Amanda Conner's Power Girl is the kind of comic you could drop into a casual reader's hands if you were trying to get them interested in comics and her Supergirl strip in Wednesday Comics was perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire project. Maybe I'll try and steal an interview (or just geek out and get some books signed).

I'll be back tomorrow with more profiles of creators I'm looking forward to meeting this year. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What I'm Looking Forward To: Baltimore Comic-Con Edition

Over the next few days I'll be posting a collection of the panels, guests and exclusives I'm most excited about experiencing at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con. Baltimore was one of two cons I attended last year, the other being NYCC, and I had a blast. Not only did I meet a number of creators I've had a great deal of respect for over my years of comic fandom, I also made a handful of contacts that have turned out to be fruitful over the last ten months. I'm very excited about going into this year's BCC with a slightly higher profile in the industry and seeing just what I can accomplish this time around.

My first look at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con will start with a rundown of some of the exclusive events they've put together for fans this year. Exclusive workshops, contests and giveaways are a great way to drum up interest for a convention and the guys behind Baltimore have come up with some great ones this year.

Klaus Janson & Howard Chaykin's Artist Workshop - Industry mainstays Klaus Janson and Howard Chaykin have been giving an artist's seminar for Marvel Comics for years now. The workshop gives artists on the verge of breaking in a chance to pick the brains of two of the greats while learning valuable tools for surviving in the comics industry. Recently, Janson and Chaykin took their show on the road and were met with success at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. This year, the two legends of the field will offer their seminar at the Baltimore Comic-Con. Entry into the event is $75 and will take place on Saturday 28th between the hours of 1 and 4 PM with a peer review session afterward. To apply for the seminar, call host store Cards, Comics & Collectibles at 410-526-7410.

Second Annual Costume Contest - The Baltimore Comic-Con will also be hosting their second annual costume contest this year. A follow-up to last year's inaugural contest, which saw a much larger turn out than promoters expected, this year's contest has some incredible prizes, including a $1000 grand prize for best overall costume. Are you intimidated by the skill and devotion of hardened cosplayers? Well, have no fear, because Baltimore Comic-Con is offering contests in both the Pro and Amateur categories. So throw on those trenchcoats and muss up that hair all you wannabe Constantines, pull on those fishnets and singlets all you saucy Black Canaries, it's time to party!

That's just a couple of the things I'm looking forward to at this year's Baltimore Comic-Con, but there's plenty more to come. Check back to Surfing the Bleed over the next few days for more about which guests I'm looking forward to seeing, which panels I'll be attending and which bars I'll be thrown out of!

Friday, August 13, 2010

How I Became the Bomb's Jon Burr Reviews Last Week's Comics! (A title for this segment, my kingdom for a title!)

Ahoy, there, reader! In a bit of a switch from last week’s post, wherein I reviewed only a handful of titles, I’ve decided to give shorter reviews of a larger number of comics. If this is not your preferred method, feel free to comment. Perhaps I’ll return to my previous, more specialised style.

Sally forth, shall we?

Things I read that weren’t bad:

Time Bomb #1
Who am I to resist a cover featuring a Steranko-esque Black Ops team set against a backdrop featuring Jet Propulsion Lab-era rocketry and a Nazi skeleton? Well done, Radical Publishing. Not only did you suck me in with the cover, but you gave me the nostalgia-evoking team of Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Paul Gulacy.

Action Comics #891
Mr. Mind serves as our guide through Lex Luthor’s power fantasies. Read that sentence again. Now remind yourself that Mr. Mind is a giant anthropomorphic worm with the power to invade and control minds. Now go buy this fucking comic.

Secret Warriors #18
Just when I think Jonathan Hickman can’t make me enjoy this series any more, he inserts Macross-esque air battles into this bittersweet arc, entitled “The Last Ride of the Howling Commandos.” Now hear this, Hickman: If Dum Dum dies, you’ll soon follow. The Cheung covers always blow me away, as well.

Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #3
Perhaps a step down from the first two issues, but I’m not about to tell you that anything featuring the Tom Strong-verse and Chris Sprouse is not good. Plus, NAZIS!

Avengers Prime #2
Bendis doing his best Simonson and Alan Davis being Alan Davis. I’ll take it. I still think Mister Mind was my favorite surprise comic appearance this week, but this book featured a close second. Your only hint: This guy didn’t NEED pants. Yet he most certainly wore pants.

Sweet Tooth #12
Visually splendid, as always, but the more Jeff Lemire reveals in his slow-moving tale, the less I care. The mystique of this title is disappearing for me, but I still revel in Lemire’s layout and line.

I have heard tell ‘round internet ways that many are finding this book incomprehensible. They point to this book, along with 1602 and the Earth X titles - failed experiments, to be sure - as examples that any attempt to place Marvel into a bigger, all-encompassing mythology will fail. To those naysayers I say this: BAH! JUST BUY IT FOR DUSTIN WEAVER’S ART. I am enjoying this book and its last page reveals very much, thus far. We’ll see if it reaches its goals.

Doom Patrol #13
The best comics are the ones that send you scampering to your longbox or, these days, Wikipedia. Keith Giffen has given Rita “Elasti-Woman” Farr a bit of the ol’ Alan Moore Swamp Thing treatment, completely re-imagining her and upsetting the status quo in the span of just one issue. With just 22 pages, Giffen had me scampering for my back issues and looking up bits of DP history. The man loves these characters and refuses to let any of them remain stagnant. Even Rita Farr.

Daredevil: Black & White #1
Briefly, I’ll get my opinions on the issue as a whole out of the way: two neatly scripted tales with some fantastic art, followed by a prose piece with more wonderful illustration. This is a good comic, certainly, but eclipsing that was the discovery of Jason Latour, the artist of the first story. His dynamic style found a way to be tight and loose at the same time, omitting lines here, placing a truly bold stroke there. Latour is a very exciting find, as his work - intentionally, I’m guessing - was evocative of, simultaneously, the great DD artists of days gone by. Mazzucchelli, Miller, Sienkiewicz, Romita the younger; they were all in there, but within his own unique work.

Things I read that weren’t so good:

The Rage of Thor
This comic wasn’t poorly written, nor was the art horrendous. However, this read like a bad pastiche of Conan and Northlanders. If I need to envision lamentations of the womenfolk or to ponder the whims of Crom, I’ll crack open a Cimmerian tale or pick up Brian Wood’s latest Viking yarn.

The Invincible Iron Man #28
Well, we’re back to regular covers for good, it seems. ‘Twas a noble experiment, Mssrs. Fraction and Larocca. Now stop aping Warren Ellis and do your own thing. If I wanted Iron Man as The Authority, I’d pick up something from the Ultimate line.

Supergod #4
As much as I have enjoyed Warren Ellis’ previous takes on the folly of creating ubermensch - No Hero and Black Summer - this book has been a rambling mess and is rather dull. Ellis made his points with the aforementioned series, and I’m not really sure what he has left to say on the matter.

Amazing Spider-Man #639
Bollocks to this. ASM was doing quite nicely for itself for quite sometime there. In strolls Quesada with his “One Moment In Time” non-event and, lo and behold, the streak hath ended. Ah, well. I guess I’ll step over this, not unlike if I were to encounter shit on the sidewalk.

Jonah Hex #58
Know Jordi Bernet, know peace. No Jordi Bernet, no peace. The artist on this book, Giancarlo Caracuzzo is not series regular Bernet, but he’s not the reason this book falters. Gray and Palmiotti, the writers and, usually, masters of the single issue story, just simply lose control of their twisting tale. The narrative device is a neat one, letting the actual bullets fired serve as storytellers, but the writers get too caught up in their double crosses and coincidences to write a cogent and compelling issue. Don’t give up on this book, for it’s usually a paragon of the medium.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Superman on the Subway

This has nothing to do with breaking into comics and little to do with comics at all. Still, it's too cool and strange to keep hidden away from you guys. Check out the link below (the images are legion and would take far too long to load if I posted them all here).

Vintage Japanese Subway Posters

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mutants & Masterminds

When I was in high school, some friends of mine and I played a role-playing game called 3001. They had come up with the setting themselves a couple years before I met them. 3001 was a sort of post-apocalyptic, almost William Gibson-esque superhero world populated with resistance fighters and draconic super-powered overlords. My buddies had populated the world with many different characters but not a lot of thought went into the background of the world itself. Well, high school ended and slowly we went our separate ways, but 3001 stuck around my head for a while. I always tried to figure out why the world became what it was, how it got there, what events led them to that place and time. Over the years I constructed a solid timeline for the setting and even toyed with the idea of pitching it as a comic someday. Over the years my interest in it waned, but I never forgot about that world.

I'm older now, with an all new group of nerd buddies. Of late they've all been clamoring to do some table top roleplaying and, given that I occasionally masquerade as a writer, they've pushed me to come up with something for them to play. On a recent trip to a local used bookstore I found a copy of the original sourcebook for Green Ronin's Mutants & Masterminds. Remembering that I had owned the book once before during my heavy RPG days, I decided to pick it up and re-familiarize myself with the system. To my surprise, M & M is the best-selling superhero RPG ever and they're still publishing material for it today. So I picked up some of the supplemental stuff for a good price and have decided to run a game.

The campaign setting? Well, that's obvious, right?

Do any of my readers still RP? If so, do you have any Mutants & Masterminds tips and pointers? Anybody out there playing a game right now?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Welcome back How I Became the Bomb frontman and weekly Surfing the Bleed contributor Jon Burr as he reviews some of last week's comics.

Amazing Spider-Man #637
I pity the creative team for this now-concluded Spidey arc. It’s not that it was bad. It’s not that it was mediocre. It just wasn’t the mind-bending, savage, and haunting arc that was Zeb Wells’ and Chris Bachalo’s “Shed.” Stop reading this review. Go get those issues. I’ll wait. Don’t dawdle. There. I’ll carry on now. This arc, The Grim Hunt, by Joe Casey and mostly Michael Lark, was good comics, though, pulling together, not unlike its eponymous arachnid, different strands from eras recent and bygone to tell a compelling tale. I know most people will bemoan the usage of characters and themes from Joe Straczynski’s subtotemic storyline, but I found it rather ballsy. I also loved that they gave J.M. DeMatteis the back-up, seeing as they played on his and Mike Zeck’s iconic Kraven’s Last Hunt so well. The only blight on the run has been Stan Lee’s bewildering two-pager backup tales but, hey, it’s Swingin’ Stan. So, all in all, ASM continues bringing the quality, thrice monthly, which you can’t really beat.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #2
Boy howdy, can Jason Aaron write the Marvel Universe?! As loathe as I am to use the term “world-building,” Aaron has done just that in just two issues. Now many will point to Aaron hijacking plots from other works, mostly genre films, and just inserting Marvel characters into them but, hey, it makes for good comics. We’ve seen elements of First Blood and Terminator in his Weapon X series, but now we’ve got some full-on Charlton Heston end o’ the world sci-fi on our hands. And I couldn’t enjoy it more. I’d love to divulge more detail, but he packs so many easter eggs and surprises on each even-numbered page, that I wouldn’t dare risk spoiling it for you, dear reader. Oh, and Adam Kubert’s no slouch either.

Superman #701
J. Michael Strazcynski has the skills. The man can tell a story. I know this. I’ve read his work. He’s also not afraid to be daring. He’ll tell the story he wants to tell, and keep telling, regardless of reception. I know these things about JMS. Now what I want to know is if he is half the sanctimonious ass he makes Supes out to be. This is rough reading, folks. Superman basically walks around, staring down would-be jaywalkers, street toughs, and the like, pontificating like some sort of awful amalgamation of Tony Robbins and Thoreau, the latter of whom is quoted extensively unfortunately, as opposed to an alien in long-johns. The art doesn’t help as, skilled as Eddy Barrows might be, the poses and facial expressions given to Supes don’t help reduce the burning desire to stop, put down the comic, and pick up my copy of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? I swear, if Superman had thoughtfully clutched his chin once more, as he sat in judgment over some poor normal human sap, I would have done just that.

The Bulletproof Coffin #2
There aren’t many comics out there that can make a lowly reviewer traipse through his mind searching for the apt adjectives quite like this one. Shaky Kane’s art is creepy, yet undeniably beautiful; static, yet alive; homage, yet wonderfully new. These seemingly contradictory descriptions are not limited to just the art. Coffin is a book of comics within comics. Kane, along with co-writer and scripter David Hine, have created a series that looks at Silver Age comics with nostalgia, but does not turn a blind eye to the strangeness and somewhat emotionally stunted nature of the era. The story is able to harken back to a bygone era, while existing in its own unique not-so-distant future or perhaps even a twisted, satirical present. Despite the book-within-book nature of the work, it’s not too metatextual that it can’t be enjoyed by someone just looking for kicks and vibrant art. This comic is able to interpret and possess so many aspects of the genre, serving as a book that can really serve the reader however he chooses. For fans of Alan Moore, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby. Yea, it’s that good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

CCI: Oh, how I wish I were there.

I'm going to try and recap the news that jumps out at me from this weekend's mildly interesting Comic-Con International. You may have heard of it? Anyway, here's a list of newsworthy items that I deemed, well, newsworthy. This will be a linkfest, so apologies there for the lack of originality. When it comes to SDCC/CCI, you just let CBR and Bleeding Cool do the work for you.

Paul Tobin discusses Dark Horse's new Savage Sword anthology, a sort of homage to famous pulp writer (and DH cash cow) Robert E. Howard

Marvel to publish CrossGen.
I wasn't much of a CrossGen reader but this has to be exciting to those of you who were. I wonder if they'll bring back original books and creative teams (Way of the Rat, anyone?) or if they'll use the CrossGen brand as a place to launch newer talent?

Marvel Movie Panel. I'm a huge fan of Joss Whedon and I love that Marvel is ambitious enough to attempt this merging of all their films into one big Avengers franchise, but I have misgivings. Much as I love Joss, the guy has pretty much worked with the same actors (and second-tier actors at that) his whole career. I hope he can handle the egos of people like Jackson and Downey, Jr. well enough to get a good, coherent picture and not just an ensemble mess.

"He'll be charged with assault with a deadly weapon, due to the stabbing in the eye..." Of all the things to stab somebody over, the Resident Evil panel? Seriously dude? Where the hell is Shade when we need him? It seems like the American Scream was in the house at Comic-Con this year.

The collapse of all nerd marriages and the abject neglect of all children produced by these relationships has caused a massive disruption in the nation's economy.

IDW announces a new Rocketeer anthology to include talent such as Darwyn Cooke, John Cassaday and Mike Allred. As a bonus, partial proceeds from the book go to benefit the Hairy Cell Leukemia foundation.

A fan at the DCU panel reminds us all that stories can help save lives, even if we're not all fans of those stories. "The first fan said that he began reading comics with 'Blackest Night,' around the time he was diagnosed with HIV. He thanked DC for publishing a story about literally fighting death, which inspired him. In the midst of applause, Sattler walked down to hug the fan."

DC's Vertigo-bound chickens finally coming home to roost.

Morrison and Stewart on Thunderworld, Grant's take on the Marvel Family. Also, Absolute WE3 in the works.

It just gets wackier in Gotham City and I, for one, couldn't be happier.
Eventually Grant Morrison is just going to write Batman for me and only me. It's almost happening already. I think at some point I'm just going to get a copy of Morrison's Batman on my doorstep each
month and it will be my job to just explain it to everyone else in the world. Ah, dreams.

DnA to do a Rocket Raccoon/Groot mini-series!

Stan's Back!
The Boom Studios Stan Lee Panel.

There was more news than you can shake Big Barda's cosmic rod at coming out of Comic-Con this weekend, but those were the bits I found most interesting. What did you see at CCI this weekend that you are excited about? Did you go to the show or were you just watching from the sidelines like myself? What other cons do you plan to hit up this year?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How I Became the Bomb's Jon Burr Reviews Last Week's Hits (and MIsses) [we really need a title for this segment]

Jon Burr is the lead singer of geek rock champions How I Became the Bomb. He is also my friend and a rather obsessive comic book nerd. When he approached me about doing a series of reviews each week for Surfing the Bleed I gladly said yes. Partially because the man really knows his stuff, partially because, well, I hate writing reviews. Before we go on, I want to state that in an editorial capacity I stand behind Jon and his right to express his opinions one hundred percent. That isn't to say that he and I will always agree, but the man is informed, intelligent and honest and I want that kind of material here on the site. So if anybody has a problem with his opinions I want to remind you that there is an open comment forum just underneath the post. Let's be constructive and stay on point, shall we? Without further ado, I give you...

The Segment Which Has No Name!

Greek Street #13

Well, I’ve given it a year. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Peter Milligan is amongst my favorite comics writers. I’ve followed him for over a decade. My favorite comics artist - Darwyn Cooke - described him as the only collaborator whose words he wouldn’t touch or change. Human Target is one of the four or five long runs I’d pass along to a non-comics reader as proof that the medium isn’t simply fun genre trash. Skreemer and Rogan Gosh are titanic works in comics, unlike any others I’ve read. Hell, I sought out and purchased the B-movie he penned (It’s not bad, actually. Ray Liotta is in the lead, which insures victory). And, yet, here I am, giving up on his latest Vertigo piece. I’d like to think I don’t understand The Classics upon which this series is based or that maybe Greek Street is “written for the trade” as so many are prone to say these days. Perhaps it’s just too British; too Soho. Alas, I’m afraid I’m dropping this book because it’s just not good. I’m not even going to blame the artist. David Gianfelice and this week’s fill-in, Werther Dell’Edera, have been more than adequate. My old standby has finally let me down. I don’t condemn him. After such fine form for so many years, he’s earned a free pass. At least, as long as his Hellblazer stays up to par.

Scalped #39

I’ll admit it. Scalped isn’t always the best read. I know it gets almost universal praise. I know it is THE latest critical darling in comics, next to Scott Pilgrim. But it really hasn’t been the spiritual successor to 100 Bullets everyone claims it is. Sure, it has a Pulido-esque talent in R.M. Guera and it has the grit and the slow burning storyline of its Vertigo forebearer, but it has lacked the consistency. Lately, though, it has given me some hope. This is a book that just won’t quit. For every rough edge or clunky device, there’s a character like Shunka, the conflicted right-hand man. For every reveal that doesn’t quite work, there’s a hook at the end of an issue that keeps you on the reel. This issue keeps the fire stoked. The main thread of the story, which is Claudine’s rocky upbringing, didn’t really reveal anything to me, but the further unraveling of Bad Horse’s cover and life has me clamoring for more. And isn’t that Jason Aaron’s job? Simply put, he just needs us to keep coming back. Simple economics, really.

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #10

This little surprise came to me thanks to Surfing the Bleed’s own Brett Williams hoodwinking me into thinking that this was a
Secret Avengers crossover. Now, mind you, The Secret Avengers were, indeed, in this issue, but that was inconsequential. Writer Gregg Hurwitz, on holiday, I imagine, from his farcical V television series remake, is either simply not up to snuff or is rebuking some sort of editorial mandate. Ah, I can see it now! Sweaty, cigar-chomping editor Axel Alonso cajoling Hurwitz: “Sales are in the tank, kid. I pushed for Deadpool, but we’ll have to make due with the Secret Avengers. Now they’re gonna be on the cover, so we’re gonna need a story here, kid.” Cut to Hurwitz hastily pecking away this hackneyed script, which of course employs a laconic monologue not unlike the purposefully putrid voiceover turned in by Harrison Ford when the studio started interfering with Blade Runner. I choose to believe this outlandish scenario and will give this book another chance as I am strangely in love with Juan Jose Ryp’s art, which is, to your humble narrator only, surely, reminiscent of Crumb and Richard Corben. Only he draws men in their underpants fighting sea monsters.

Demo #6

Hauntingly rendered tortured figures somehow finding serenity. And so ends the second run of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s
Demo. It’s fitting, really, as the series was comprised of fantastic imagery that was sometimes hamstrung by some plodding metaphors, yet always seemed to find a way to be compelling and heartfelt by story’s end. Cloonan’s work was daring and excellent throughout the series, from her wildly effective experimentation to her always resonant use of body language. The story struggled here and there, particularly on this issue and the first, with some truly transparent concepts, but they always managed to bring some truth to the comic by the last page. And this week, it was literally a last page save. The entire issue struggled with the clunky metaphor of a superpower that kept a couple ever together yet slightly apart. Oh, like a long-term relationship? Ugh. Obvious choices were mounting and this one was really growing tiresome until that last image, wonderfully conceived and drawn: The weary couple, reading together. They aren’t touching, of course, but they finally seemed at ease with each other. A masterful panel.

As an addendum, I can’t stress enough how much the extras at the end of the books - which I think the kids are calling “backmatter” - add to the series. I know it’s mostly an indie thing, but Vertigo should take note. Hell, I’d take some of this newfangled “backmatter” in my capes n’ underpants comics! It really makes for an immersive, insightful experience.

Thor The Mighty Avenger #1

I am finished with origin stories retold. A relentless horde, a insurmountable tide. These are the things I told myself, as I dropped books by good creators (Joe Casey’s Avengers: The Origin, anyone?) for the sole reason that I just didn’t think I could handle the same tales any longer. I was out. Or so I thought. Roger Landridge and Chris Samnee’s simple, evocative take was compelling and thrilling. It provided the quick, vibrant rush that is unique to the comics medium. I put the book down, stunned smile on my face, and wondered, “What’s next?”

Jonah Hex #57

I’ve snagged a few Jonah Hex issues this year. The odd Darwyn Cooke contribution here and there have certainly helped, but I had never read an issue of Jonah Hex with series regular artist Jordi Benet. I assumed he was another member of the Brazilian talent agency that has slowly developed the DC House Style I’ve come to loathe in the last couple of years. I was sorely mistaken. Not only will I pick up anything else with Bernet’s name on the credits, but I am now on a mission from god to familiarize myself with the rest of the man’s oeuvre. This includes any previous Hex issues, as Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s script had me pining for days of comics past. Between Bernet’s Caniff-meets-Kubert draughtsmanship and the pure-comics-ness of the writing, this issue left me devastatedly nostalgic. This is what comics should be. This is what comics can be. This is what comics were.

Brightest Day: The Atom Special #1

Sweet Tooth has been a good ride, thus far, with this week’s issue being another quality effort. Essex County was solid and I’ve heard nothing but good about The Nobody. Jeff Lemire is becoming a creator one must follow. Be that as it may, it was still difficult to pick any book bearing the Brightest Day banner. As it turns out, I probably could have skipped it, because this book, at least in the beginning, had all that I feared. Needless origin retelling? Check. Tenuous link to crossover? Check. In the latter half of the book, Lemire finally breaks free and plants the seed for what I’m hoping will be a fun tale, but it remains to be seen if his capes n’ tights debut will bear fruit, as we readers weren’t given much to work with here. Quick aside: Ray Palmer’s life is hysterically terrible! Is the domain name “www.RayPalmer’” taken? Someone get Gail Simone on the horn.

Doom Patrol #12

If you don’t like the notion of Keith Giffen somehow finding a way to meld the tone of his Legion: 5 Years Later story with the humor of his JLI and THEN finding a way to incorporate the characters and spirit of Grant Morrison’s exceedingly brilliant DP run, then you should do one thing and one thing only: Stop reading comics. Now. Thank you.

Casanova #1

I can’t get a read on Matt Fraction. His X-Men books have entertained me. I absolutely loved the Iron Man covers he spearheaded, as I really think comics and modern design need to become friends again. However, I read last week’s Iron Man Annual and it was one of the most putrid, long-winded, and dull stories I’ve read in recent months. Thus, I’ve waited for Casanova for some time, as I had hoped that it would be my Matt Fraction Rosetta Stone. I’ll have to wait a little longer, seemingly. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot to love here. Ba and his brother are always fun, and watching how they’ve developed was certainly interesting, but there was so much Morrison and Ellis influence that it was hard for me to fully enjoy. I’m certainly not writing this title off, but I’m going to need a little more before I give Fraction credit for his talents as a comics writer and not just a guy with some great ideas about design and a genuine love for good comics.

Things I also read that weren’t bad:

Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom #2 (Pulp-y goodness!)

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1
(Bold prediction: Penciler Jim Cheung will rule the comics roost someday. Or quit comics and make a real living as a storyboard artist or in advertising.)

Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #1
(Brubaker’s Bucky-Cap’n has been pretty aimless. This had purpose. That SuperPro costume is still hard to look at, though.)

X-Force #28
(Don’t listen to them. Second Coming was great. Sure, Nightcrawler died, but look on the bright side: they finally killed Cable.)

King City #10
(Imagine your wittiest, most stoned friend could draw like the bastard child of Moebius, Otomo, and Toriyama. I ran out of room, but you can bet that I’ll review this soon.)

Sweet Tooth #11
(I want Lemire to pick up the pace, but it’s still a quality issue.)

Batman and Robin #13
(A line from my shop owner, Mark Angell: “There are two Grant Morrisons. Good Trip Grant and Bad Trip Grant.” I THINK Grant’s on the good stuff here.)

X-Men #1
(Everyone is so sick and tired of vampires, thanks to True Blood, Twilight, etc. Here’s the thing: I don’t watch or read that stuff. So get fucked, all of you, and let me read my X-Men.)

Things I also read that weren’t good:

Fantastic Four Annual #32
(Ah, Bryan Hitch. There you are. Sorry, chum.)

Scarlet #1
(Cute, Bendis, but a little late to the party on so many levels. I commend him for his return to creator-owned stuff and will definitely give this a few more issues, though.)

Shadowland #1
(Look, I read most of the books associated with this. I should be the guy who gets this. I don’t get this. Daredevil did what now? Punisher is human again? Beg pardon?)