Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Comic Quotes Should Be Good for the 12/29 Comic Week

On the side of this blog are a lot of fine blogs where folks talk about comic books. Each week I pick out ten cool quotes about comics from those blogs during the past comic week. I cannot promise that my picks will be thorough, or even the best quotes. They are just quotes that made me laugh or smile or say, "Good line." Please note that the folks who write on this here blog (Comics Should Be Good) are excluded, as it strikes me as a bit too self-serving to quote any of them here. But be assured that I think they are all quite good!

Let's begin!

Alex gives us a recipe for goodness in Jack Kirby's Kamandi,
Want a recipe for delicious comic goodness?

Take one cup of cut-off pants.
Add a tablespoon of feathered hair and a laser gun.
Mix in an ample portion of talking animals, including Tiger Pirates and Dogs dressed as Prussians.
Pour in a gallon of Apocolyptic wasteland filled with Giant Grasshoppers and Atomic Mutant Men with Cyclotronic hearts.
Stir it all into a Jack Kirby casserole dish and let simmer at a million dgrees for twenty years.

When that pie comes out, it will be the most tasty thing you've ever put in your mouth.
Speaking of Alex, he also recently expressed curiosity as to why people have enjoyed All-Star Batman & Robin, to which Mike Sterling rose to the challenge,
To answer a question posed elsewhere: I enjoyed All-Star Batman and Robin because...

1) It's Frank Miller clearly having a good time with the character

2) Like the majority of Miller's recent work, its tongue is firmly in cheek...

2 1/2) ...though not all the time, since, also like the majority of Miller's recent work, there can be tone shifts throughout the story -- not so much in this work, so far, but I think that's what bothered people about Dark Knight Strikes Again

3) It's written like a Big Hollywood Summer Action Movie (with the attendant chase scenes, dialogue, gorgeous dames*, etc.), freeing up the character from the "Dark Avenger of the Night" straightjacket that's been making the Bat-books so (yawn) terribly exciting over the last two decades

4) I'm not the world's biggest Jim Lee fan, but the art in this series has kind of grown on me, particularly in the facial expression department...Robin's reaction to the Batmobile is priceless

5) Miller also seems to be deliberately tweaking the too-serious fans who don't want to see these kinds of shenanigans in their caped crusader comics, what with his dialogue ("I'm the g--" well, you know) and staging choices

6) The overall over-the-top outrageousness of the comic...there've been a couple scenes in each issue that just plain make me laugh out loud. I can't remember the last time a Batman comic made me laugh. I mean, with it, not at it.
Jog also spoke about enjoying All-Star Batman & Robin, but specifically, the latest issue, #3,
Debate however you’d like the aesthetic appropriateness of Lee on this material (obviously he’s needed for the economic boost), but he’s gamely working to incorporate a worthwhile set of influences into his work, and it adds a little spice to an issue like this - what with all the scantily-clad vigilante women, the big bushy hair on that little guy in the bar, and of course the many splashes, this feels more like an early Image book than anything else I’ve seen in a while, even from a genuine Image founder like Lee.

But you know what? It works pretty damn well here. And that’s undoubtably in part because of Miller’s already famously eccentric scripting, but this is no one man show. Just look at the first seven pages of this book. There’s that overheated narration (“A rotten joint. It sits there like something that came out of the back end of a horse.”). There’s corny gags, like the “It’s Sunday! Have a shot with Jesus!” sign, or Matt Murdock and Elektra sitting around in the background. There’s Miller’s odd predilection for replacing naughty words with less-naughty and rather silly ones (‘dipstick,’ ‘sass’). There’s plenty of cheesecake.

But as the pages pass, these elements suddenly fall into place as something resembling a coherent design strategy; Miller’s narration dances around that almost-splash, raising repetitive questions as dislocated word balloons toss out fragments of statements and snatches of jokes, often directly separating the narrative captions form one another. The fuse on the dynamite begins to burn away.
Michael writes "Dear John" letters to some classic comics celebrating twentieth anniversaries in 2006 (I don't necessarily agree with these takes, but they were pretty cleverly written, and I guess the following letter is the one I would agree with the most),
Dear Maus,

You know, after those other two, you don't look so bad. You're pretty good for us. Great rhetorical device, simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking plot, and enough wisdom not to take yourself too seriously. You were just the indie we needed. In fact, the trouble isn't with you at all; it's with everybody since you. Because when it was all over, we handed you the Pulitzer and wrapped you up in a nice dual hardcover set, and went right out and looked for the exact same guy again.

And that's exactly who we got: an unending succession of perfect carbon copies. Neurotic antisocialite? Check. Issues with women, especially his mother? Check. Wallowing in self-pity? Check. The back half of our not-so-little black diamond book is clogged with guys so cloned, Richard Attenborough gives a tour about them to Sam Niell and Jeff Goldblum. You were supposed to open our eyes to a whole new world of possibilities, but instead, we clung just as hard to our new archetype, and instead of an infinity of ideas, we got two. Escapist fantasy and navel-gazine semiautobiography: is that all we can do? No, because like mom always said, there's other fish in the sea, and we're changing bait.
Johnny Bacardi had a year in review as well, that I missed! (Sorry, Johnny!!) Here is one of his picks for best of the year,
Been waiting seemingly forever for this- the singles it collects are kinda hard to find- and although I have yet to hear a plausible explanation why this collection of late-90's stories took forever and a day to be released in 2005, it was definitely worth tolerating the delay. I discovered Paul Grist through JACK STAFF, and it's an excellent title in its own right, but the more I read of its predecessor, the more I think that this was/is his best work. Besides the usual Grist daredevil storytelling techniques, this features a nifty Sin City parody. I hope the next collection comes out before the decade's end...
I can be forgiven for missing Dave Carter's Year in Review, as he just put it up today, but he gets extra props for making a sports reference regarding Grant Morrison. I like sports references.
For my money, Morrison is the most interesting writer working in comics today. He started off the year with the final issue of We3; had his Kirby-Meets-Bollywood Vimanarama in the middle; ended with the first issue of All Star Superman; and somehow in the middle of all that did his huge mega cross-over epic, Seven Soldiers. What I like about Morrison is that no matter what he's working on, he always brings his 'A' game, and swings for the bleachers each time he's up. He may not always hit a home run, but he's always trying--never phoning it in. And different things work for different readers--while almost no one has liked all of the Seven Soldiers series equally, most readers have found at least one or two to be very much to their liking, and every series seems to have its fans. Mainstream comics would be a heck of a lot more boring without Grant Morrison around stirring things up. With his new overseer position within the DCU in 2006, we'll see if he's able to have a 'Michael Jordan' effect on the rest of the line.
David Campbell is spending the week looking at the Oficial Handbooks to the Marvel Universe, which leads to plenty of discussions like the following look at the Red Ghost,
OHMU #9 also featured the Fantastic Four villain known as The Red Ghost, a Russian commie who could become intangible at will. That's a good enough power as is, right? Anybody else would be satisfied with that, but not Red Ghost. In addition to becoming intangible, The Red Ghost had a trio of super-apes who did his evil bidding.

You hear me: super-apes.

I have no idea how primate henchmen fit into the whole Red Ghost brand identity, but I say if you have the opportunity to use super-ape flunkies, use them! Who cares if they don't fit in with your powers or your costume? "They call me Queen Cobra! I spit venom, I have a lethal bite, and I have these three super-apes that rob liquor stores for me!" See? Super-apes are never a bad idea. I want that phrase on my gravestone.

The Red Ghost also bears an uncanny resemblance to Canadian rock god Neil Young:
Lyle doesn't blog about comics enough, so it was nice to see his thoughts on the best collections of the past year, even if they were just bulletpoints,
Bite Club: Normally, Howard Chaykin's work has a "been there" feel for me, but this one had a more to it than the typical Chaykin cliches. With those aspects reined in, Chaykin made for the perfect writer for a mini-series that tries to capture the feel of The Sopranos in sequential art form. Even better, David Hahn's clean art style (which Shelly Bond perfectly described to me as "Archie with an edge") meshed with the story, adding emphasis to the more shocking moments by the contrast.

Johanna Draper Carlson, in my mind, basically sums up the appeal of Owly as well as anyone could,
Readers will be charmed by the innocence of these stories while laughing out loud at their good humor. The messages are simple yet profound. It’s always good to be reminded that those who are taught to hate each other can still be friends or that helping others brings its own rewards. Although cute and charming, the comics also have drama and sequences full of adventure.
Shawn Hoke takes a look at Robin Enrico's Stupid and Unkind,
Volumes 1 and 2 of Stupid and Unkind tell the story of Ronan, his ex-girlfriend/current obsession Leona, and Jennet, the girl unlucky enough to land in Ronan’s lap in volume 1. Ronan and his ex-girlfriend Leana are film geeks, they love watching movies and creating their own. Jennet is more into music and likes romantic comedies – a grave social error in Ronan’s eyes.

Since his breakup with Leona, no girl has been able to meet his lofty expectations. But it’s funny, because Ronan isn’t that much of a catch himself. He doesn’t know that, however, and this is the basic triangle of Stupid and Unkind. Filling it out is lots of conversations between Ronan and his friends, Clerks-style at times, and the rise and fall of Ronan and Jennet’s relationship.

Robin has a good handle on the flow of conversation between characters. His speech balloons have long tails at times, making you look a second time to figure out who is saying what, but it’s not enough to pull you out of the comic. Occasionally, he does a neat little trick where the character speaking, when they are not in the panel, will show up in the very bottom corner as a tiny head with a long trailing speech balloon attached. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this used, but it’s handled well here.
Thanks, folks, for providing me with so many great quotes! See you next week!

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