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.
Wheww. That was a close one.
At the time I was absolutely flooded with new books, ongoing books, books to re-read, etc. and I was so overwhelmed that I don’t think I even really read that first issue. I mean, I read it, but I think at the time I was so hesitant to add another book to the monthly pile that I didn’t really pay attention. Self-sabotage.
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?).
Well howdy! Welcome to the NEW comic column. If you used to read the precursor column to this one – Thee Comic Column – you’ll no doubt remember that I dropped off penning that column all the way back in December. Holy cow! I had no idea it had been that long. The impetus for stopping Thee Comic Column – other than that particular name never really gelled with me; it was meant to be an allusion to Genesis P. Orridge’s Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth but mostly I feel just made it sound as though I had a wantonly high opinion of my thoughts on our favorite periodical industry – was that after going for 150 mostly weekly iterations I had reached a point with my writing that no longer saw a focus placed on discussions surrounding the mediums I love. I’d already pretty much given up writing about film after leaving Chud.com, so abandoning something I had created was not without precedent in my life. And honestly I’d realized some time before December 2015 that the column was just one more way to distract myself from finishing the novel I’d been working on tooth and nail for four years. So, I jettisoned the column, my podcast Drinking with Comics (which may return at some point) and knuckled down on my own story.
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.