Thee Comic Column #113: Elephantmen

2089608-elephantmen_036__2011__pagecoverOne of the most difficult truths for me to accept is that due to the nature of our perceived reality, to money and, increasingly, time, there is simply no way I am going to be able to read everything I want to during my lifetime.

First world problems, I know. Still…

Thee Comic Column #112: She Makes Comics

She-Makes-Comics-Logo-Medium-660x880I’ve been reading comics for more of my life than not and since almost day 1 there have always been women’s names I associated as key creators within the medium. For me Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson were first, Karen Berger was a little bit later. These are women who actively helped define my world by defining the books that I read, books that helped shape the interior landscape I then in turn used to define the world around me as I grew up in the 80s and 90s. Ms. Nocenti’s work on Daredevil and Spiderman and Mrs. Simonson’s work as both editor and later writer on the X-books were among the earliest comics I fell in love with preadolescence. Later, in high school, many of the key books and creators that Karen Berger brought to her Vertigo imprint at DC etched their way into my very soul, most especially Sandman. That may sound a bit overly dramatic but it’s not; in a very real way the person I am today has roots in those books. Comics have never been any different than prose to me, every bit as important as the fiction I love; every once in a while along comes a Louise Simonson, an Irvine Welsh, a Neil Gaimen or a Donna Tartt and an entire new wing is added to the ego-scaffolding that is, more or less, Me. To me, both comics and prose are literature and literature is food for the soul. So the idea that women may not have a level playing field in the world of comics when they are so revered everywhere else in writing is insane to me and perhaps a little bit of a clue that the comics industry isn’t quite as established or ‘grown up’ as the world of prose.

Your Fucked Up Childhood #3: The Snowman

tumblr_inline_nfzu25X0UK1qzwijzLooking forward to it snowing this year? No?! Can you pinpoint the exact moment at which your sense of wonder blackened, crumbled and blew away on the breeze? Maybe it was the day you saw Channel 4’s 1982 animated adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’. Every time the subject of snow comes up at this time of year I inevitably end up gnawing on the knuckles of my clenched fist as a means of both plugging my mouth and preventing me from raining a flurry of punches upon those balking at the fact that this astonishing annual phenomenon might prevent them from, wait for it, getting to work.

Thee Comic Column #111: The Real John Constantine

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.30.20 AMHoly cow. Now this my friends, this is John Constantine. I mean, if you can hold in your mind’s eye the *eck* movie version from 2005, add to it the current NBC version and then watch this short made with a super small budget and barely any effects at all, well, I think you’ll agree that this isn’t just John Constantine done right, this is John Constantine done probably as close to perfect as we’re ever going to get in our lifetime by a video production company.

Thee Comic Column #110: Wytches

WYTCHES-Cover-1-Final-7cd41I will admit that when I first heard about Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches my interest was tinged with a small swathe of trepidation. I don’t mean to sound like a dick, but after recently re-reading Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake I wasn’t too hot on the idea of jumping on a new series by Snyder. This is because, in The Wake‘s case, I love the set-up, LOVE the art (Sean Murphy can do no wrong in my book) and love the characters, love the story and the way it’s two stories that tell one bigger story. What I didn’t necessarily love however was the ending. Honestly, it left me a bit flat. Of course it’s true that the journey is just as important as the destination, but I just don’t know if the ending to The Wake does the rest of the story – and oh what a story – any justice. That more than anything else may be what bothers me about the book and had me a little trepidatious about starting out on a new path with Mr. Snyder at the helm.

Thee Comic Column #109: Southern Bastards Just Blew My Mind

STK652986I dug Jason Aaron and Jason Latour‘s Southern Bastards from the first issue, but only in a very peripheral way. And for the record, I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. It was actually A Voice in the Dark‘s Larime Taylor, back when he guested on Drinking with Comics, that brought Southern Bastards to my attention, and after picking up and reading issue #1 I ear-marked it as a series to follow. A lot of that was based on how striking and original Mr. Latour’s art and colors were, coupled with the fact that I had previously loved Mr. Aaron’s Scalped, a series I unfortunately still have not completed to this day (it’s in the works…). However, as you may have noticed if you read this column there are a lot of series I follow, and in the tide of my weekly stacks – stacks that seem to grow exponentially month by month – Southern Bastards was a book that I bought but didn’t read for the next few months. When I bought issue #4 I finally caught up, and by the end of it I was a little shocked at the direction some things had taken, not even realizing the… um, how to do this without spoilers… severity of what had happened to one of the characters in the book. Until I picked up issue #5 the other day. After reading the first few pages of that one, well, let’s just say my jaw hit the freakin’ ground.

Thee Comic Column #108: Karen Traviss’ G.I.Joe

FallofGIJOEIf you read this column at all regularly you’ve probably heard me talk about Larry Hama’s seminal run on the original GIJOE for Marvel Comics during the 1980’s. You’ll also know that I LOVED Mike Costa’s Cobra/Cobra Files series in all its iterations since IDW picked up the license to coincide with the first Joe movie in 2009. However, with the IDW books, COBRA was where I stopped. There was a regular monthly Joe book as well, one that followed the actual GIJOE team, and there was a Snake Eyes book – love the character but this seemed a bit excessive and in danger of watering down ol’ Snakes – and maybe another book or two at different times. IDW has launched and re-launched a lot of Joe books since 2009 and through it all I breathed deeply and repeated my mantra, “Follow the writer. Follow the writer.” That, along with the fact that they were smart enough to never jettison the carefully plotted continuity they had established over the course of five years, kept me interested.

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