I received Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography “Born to Run” for Christmas. As I stared at the cover, a picture of the Boss circa late 70s standing next to an old Corvette I got to thinking, why is he so iconic? Why do people love him? What is it about him that I know already? Bruce Springsteen has a certain zest and a romance for glorifying the mundane moments that shape a persons life. He is a purveyor of memories, his own personally and yours as well. Lyrics like, “Girls comb their hair in rear view mirrors” can conjure up many images maybe personal or something you saw in a movie. He is a poet, a film director and a storyteller all rolled in one. So why did I never get it? Why do I change the station when I hear certain Springsteen songs? I got along all these years without Bruce. I got board on a flight from Denver and started reading his book and I got sucked in to his story. That curiosity led to me revisiting some of Springsteen’s back catalogue throughout my reading.
I’ll be damned if Southern Bastards didn’t just one-up itself AGAIN!
I was a HUGE fan of Larry Hama’s GIJOE comic, published throughout the 80s by Marvel. The title actually continued on into the early 90s as well, but by then it was well past its prime. I remember I checked out at some point when Claremont’s X-Books overtook Joe in the battle for my allowance and my attention span, somewhere around issue #119 or so. But even then, in 1991 at 15 years old I had a serious case of fan inertia with the book. Conceptually I still loved GIJOE, not the toy but some of the bigger ideas Mr. Hama floated through the book. Many of those ideas were personified by the Ninja characters and arcs of the book, but also things like the town of Springfield – state unknown – where Cobra had an entire American small town under its influence. Or strange serendipity that coated characters like Cobra Commander, his son Billy and various other peripheral characters, many of whom suffered some pretty messed up fates, not in a gross or graphic way, but in a way that made me psychologically wonder about the world I lived in. A great example of that was the Commander himself, who went through several diametric changes over the course of the book, and may have been my first encounter with a non-black and white bad guy in a comic, even if he eventually did kind of get reset into a very black and white caricature. But despite all this, I’d be lying if I didn’t say the main impetus for my aforementioned checking out was the infamous issue issue #109, where, after what I’d imagine were endless complaints over the years of Joe members surviving situations simply because the editorial bullpen seemed hesitant to kill off any characters with corresponding action figure equity, the book suddenly introduced a new character that kills a large dose of JOEs in one fell swoop. And wouldn’t you know it, all older, out-dated and admittedly kind of ‘blah’ characters to begin with. The way I’ve always looked at it in hindsight is Hama being pushed and pulled between killing and not killing, finally receiving a editorial edict to kill some and then just basically putting up his middle finger and saying ‘fine, you want me to kill a bunch of ‘unimportant characters? Fuck you, there it is” way.
For this particular piece I feel as though I should change the name of the column to “For the Love of Negan” because, well, today I want to talk about how much I LOVE Negan’s character in The Walking Dead.
Spoilers: Some spoilers for the comic continuity lay ahead so if you’re not caught up stop and come back later. Also, I am NOT talking about the show here. I don’t watch the show and feel fairly certain – perhaps unjustly but oh well – that the neutered portrayal on AMC’s show is only going to frustrate me (as a rule I have avoided watching the show since its third season but my girlfriend is a huge a fan and I will most likely see some of the episodes this season. Wonderful what we sacrifice for love, eh?).
I miss Thee Comic Column here on Joup. I really do. And while I haven’t had a chance yet to bother our own Shawn Baker regarding his recent absenteeism from his critical and cultural evaluations of comic books and graphic novels on these digital pages, I’m hoping that my own foray into cheerleading a new illustrated property will perhaps ignite the fires again for him. All gentle urging aside, I probably would have written this essay even if Shawn’s column were still going strong.
Eyes blurred and head foggy, this year went by in a flurry. There was just so much to take in…everywhere…everyday, scores of great albums, great movies, great TV shows, great books, great comics, great beer, and more, more, more! So this year, rather than do a run through of my favorite records, songs, etc., I picked ten different things from pop culture that made my 2015 awesome. Though, if you are interested, you can and should check out my year-end album list, song list, and movie list. There’s some good stuff in there, I swear.
More and more frequently I find myself wondering whether the world has always been this despicable or if I’m just becoming more conscious of it. Concurrent with this feeling is a realisation that our generation is being increasingly more spoilt with a Pop Culture smorgasbord: the Heroes of our youth dominate the Box Office, favourite bands of the past reform and tour, the best TV show of all time revived after a 25 year hiatus, Comic-Con has gone supernova. One of the few gifts of being a dentally challenged, pallid skinned Brit is an ever healthy cynicism possibly attributable to being of an island nation still living on a pension from a highly questionable Imperial legacy, which during the best of times enables many of us to take a dim view of anything that on the surface seems too good to be true. Back in my teens when I thought ‘The X Files’ was giving me a window into the clandestine machinations of the world’s superpowers my dad calmly and succinctly cut through my teenage distrust of his adulthood by putting it to me ‘hypothetically’ that THEY would love it if we were ‘watching the skies’ rather than paying attention to what was going on in front of our noses.