April 29, 2012
April 28, 2012
This Tag Team Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Djeljosevic: I don't know anyone who's not frustrated with the sad state of the comic book industry. My Twitter timeline is full of pros, would-be pros, journalists and critics who all seem to be one bad day away from rage-quitting the medium they've chosen to devote themselves to. And you can't really blame them, because, well, you've seen all the Before Watchmen promotion happening, right? Shudders all around.
I don't know anyone who's more vocal about the sad state of the comic book industry than Goon creator Eric Powell, one of those indie comics advocates whose creator-owned work overshadows his corporate comics work. And, with The Goon #39, it looks like we caught Powell on a bad day.
Elkin: I know, right? This is an absolute screed on the propensity of the Big Two comic publishers to vomit up formulaic garbage in a mad quest for profits at the expense of creativity. There is not a smidgen of subtly to Powell's assault here as he rams through and blows apart every tired marketing ploy and hackneyed cliché that infuses so many of corporate comics these days.
April 27, 2012
This Tag Team Review originally ran on Comics Bulletin
Jamil: And we're back! The Supurbia Tag-Team Review-a-palooza Version 2.0 starring Dan and Jamil. In case you missed it, our unstoppable duo reviewed the Supurbia debut last month, and now we turn to issue numero dos, which creator Grace Randolph personally promised would rock our socks.
In case you missed the big news Daniel, this series was promoted to ongoing status after just one issue. I was going to compare that to a band getting a record deal after one good show, or a TV show having a full season ordered after a solid pilot, but I guess those are totally plausible scenarios, so maybe that's not the best comparison.
April 26, 2012
This Tag-Team Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Jason: Manoman, high school. The best times and the worst times, right? There were great friends and asshole enemies; college plans and awesome parties; drugs and alcohol and stupid mistakes. And there were the girls -- cute girls, sexy girls, girls who were too cool to hang out with me, girls who were my best friends, but always I had girls on my mind.
And there was also the music. Ah yeah, the music -- so much a part of my teenage years. In those pre-Internet days, you had to subscribe to magazines to know what the latest cool music was, or somehow have hipper friends with great record collections that they could use to create mixtapes. You and I were in high school at just about the same time, so you probably have happy memories of listening to some of the proto-punk and new wave bands at the time. I remember the revelation of Talking Heads's Remain in Light and the beautiful youthful intensity of the Waterboys; the uninhibited fun of the B-52's and the grace and beauty of Split Enz; the confusion I had listening to early R.E.M. (I wouldn't really understand them till I got into college and "matured." (ha, you call that maturity?)
Though the new comic Mixtape is set a few years after my high school years, it may as well have been set in the same time. Things don't change -- or at least they didn't between the early and late '80s. My friends and I still loved to congregate for big parties where we would talk music, love, sex, movies, high school and college, and all the other stuff that kids have always talked about. I could relate to the kids in this comic because they were like me and my friends.
I was a little bit like Jim Abbott in Mixtape #1. Like him, I was a bit of a loner who had to be forced by my friends to get the hell out of my bedroom into parties. Like him, I couldn't see the opportunities in front of me but always felt like I was chasing something better. Like him, I made my share of mistakes. And like him, I was a bit of an asshole at times.
So I liked this comic, quite a bit more than I expected to. Daniel, did Mixtape bring back a bit of your long-lost high school years, too?
Daniel: Yes, of what I can remember of them -- but that's a whole different story.
I, too, like this comic quite a bit more than I expected to and for the same reasons as you, Jason. I found myself easily immersed in the world of this book due to the music references and the friendships built around that. I made the majority of my high school friends because of music. High Schools in Dallas, Texas in the early '80s had the propensity for being a haven for hair bands or that ubiquitous Tina Turner/Whitney Houston axis upon which daily life seemed to turn. But I hated that shit for its vapidity and its cowardice. I was the angry young man and I needed a soundtrack that reflected my (snicker) depth and angst and lofty goals. And that music was there. You just had to find it. And once you found it, you discovered that there were other people listening to it. And when you found those people, you found your home.
There's a line in Mixtape where the character Adrienne Kennedy says of a Pixies show she saw in London, "Every song they performed was your song." That line really stuck with me. I can't tell you how many times growing up I thought Black Francis was singing to me directly, or Ian Curtis had been reading my mind, or Robert Smith had been hiding under my bed while I talked on the phone to that girl I was so obsessed with who wanted nothing to do with me.
On St. Patrick's Day this year I was fortunate enough to get to see Peter Murphy perform at Yoshi's in San Francisco. When he sangStigmata Martyr, I was transported back to driving around suburban Dallas in my 1979 monkey-shit brown Chevy Nova, chain-smoking Marlboros and screaming along with every lyric, every yelp, every Latin prayer.
It was the music that got me through. It was the friends that I found through the music that kept me from an absolute bleakness.
But this is supposed to be a review of Mixtape the comic and not an opportunity for me to wax poetic about my teenage angst. Like I said at the outset, I enjoyed this comic more than I thought I would.
April 25, 2012
April 24, 2012
Christopher Jug George is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker who lives in St. Paul, MN. He is originally from “The Valley of the Jolly Green Giant”, also known as Le Sueur, Minnesota. George writes flash fiction and takes photographs for christopherjuggeorge.com. He is currently writing a novel, Terry in the Blue World, and a screenplay, Coachlight. George has written a novella,Yeti Colliding with Angels, and wrote, directed and produced a short film based on his story 1331 Minutes After They’ve Never Met. He is currently shopping a collection of short stories titled, I Hope You Laugh Forever and Other Stories. George attended the University of Minnesota where he earned a B.A. in American Studies. He has written for Minnesota Daily and Le Sueur News-Herald. George has been previously published in a multidisciplinary online arts magazine, Eye Caramba. Most recently George read in Riot Act Reading Series at Nick and Eddie in Minneapolis.
Christopher was kind enough to answer some questions about his background, his influences, his process, and his thoughts about writing.
Daniel Elkin: I thought we would start with some of the basic kinda interview questions just to provide some context, if that's alright. First, can you tell me a bit about your background? Like where you grew up, your family dynamics, your education, etc...
Christopher George: I grew up in the “Valley of the Jolly Green Giant”, Le Sueur, Minnesota, about 50 miles SE from my house here in Saint Paul. It was a rather simple childhood, my family life was good, there was no dysfunction in our home, life was strange to me but not scary, it was beautiful there in the valley. At the age of 13 I started to live an entirely different life after my father died of cancer. Puberty coupled with being in the room for his Christmas death turned life into a surreal sport, sending me down a dark path. My psyche was being formed and then there was just this explosion in my life and it took me a long time to understand what happened, just really bad timing. High School was a blur, I don’t even know, I was outgoing yet introverted. I’m still that way. Nobody really knew how dark the world had become for me, I hid it well, although I think my mother knew because she had to hear The Cure’s Disintegration pouring out of my bedroom night after night.
Although I knew I wanted to pursue creative writing beyond college, I chose to be an American Studies major at the University of Minnesota instead of taking creative writing classes. The professor in the only writing class I took at the U told me it would be a good hobby for me. I didn’t like that too much. The American Studies program there really gave me another view of the world, one somewhat detached but hypercritical, it was just what I needed, coupled with the importance placed on the quality of the academic writing in that program really opened the door to my prose. Imagination was never a problem for me but there was no focus or structure. I applied the principals of writing academic papers to fiction and it really worked for me and the people in that department were incredibly supportive, sharp, and creative in their own way.
April 23, 2012
This Originally Ran as part of a Top Ten Tuesday Column
Top Ten Monster Comics
Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Steve Niles seems to have a love/hate relationship with monsters. He obviously loves them because so much of his work features horrific creatures doing horrific things in a horrific manner to people who are just plain horrified that these things are happening to them (horrificly). But he also seems to hate monsters, because he always finds a way for his heroes to kick their asses.
And nobody kicks monster ass quite like Cal MacDonald, the star of Niles' horror comic series Criminal Macabre. Cal has kicked the asses of all kinds of zombies, vampires, possessed muscle cars, mad scientists, werewolves, demons, freaks, and misshapen nightmares while he drinks, smokes, pops, shoots, and gobbles all sorts of psychoactive substances in an attempt to either numb his brain or put him in the proper head space to deal with endless hordes of monster asses that still need kicking.
April 22, 2012
This originally ran as part of the Tuesday Top Ten Column
Top Ten Best Monster Comics
The Goon by Eric Powell
Published by Dark Horse Comics
OK, so, monster comics. You got your pale pointy toothed vampires, you got your moldy and crusty old zombies, you got your stinky and flea-bitten werewolves, you got your oddly colored glowing space aliens. Ho-Hum. Been there, done that.
You want real monsters – the kind that will twist your brains tight in a bunch and set your sweet fur-lined panties on fire?
May I then present to you the likes of the Skunk Ape or El Hombre de Lagarto or Fishy Pete or Chicken of Teeth or Satan's Sodomy Baby or even freakin' Peaches Valentine (for god's sake)!
April 18, 2012
April 16, 2012
He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Field of Light and Shadow (Knopf, 2010); Black Lab (2006); At the White Window (2000); Night Thoughts and Henry Vaughan (1994), which won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry; The Planet on the Desk: Selected and New Poems 1960-1990 (1991); Foraging (1986); Earthshine (1988); The Names of a Hare in English (1979); Work Lights: Thirty-Two Prose Poems (1977); and Boxcars (1972).
April 15, 2012
This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.
April 4, 2012 – paid 50 cents for:
AIR BOY #6
Published by: Eclipse Comics
Written by: Charles Dixon
Pencils by: Stan Woch
Inks by: Willie Blyberg
Letterer: Tim Harkins
Editor: Timothy Truman
HIROTA … DON'T HIT THE SWITCH.
September, 1986 was when Augusto Pincochet survived an assassination attempt in Chile and Desmond Tutu became the first black Anglican Church bishop in South Africa.
It saw the release of the movies River's Edge, Blue Velvet, and Down by Law.
The music was great in September of 1986, highlighted by the album releases of Love and Rockets' Express, Billy Bragg's Talking with the Taxman about Poetry, and Skinny Puppy's Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse.
Sure they canceled The Love Boat, but on the television, national audiences were treated to the premieres of ALF, Matlock, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and It's Garry Shandling's Show.
September of 1986 was a time of creativity and experimentation, love and politics. Into this mix, Eclipse Comics was in the midst of trying a new publishing idea – a bi-weekly comic book for only 50 cents. That comic? Airboy. And issue #6 of this series came out on September 23rd.
April 14, 2012
April 13, 2012
Prior to publishing his first collection of poetry, Benedikt co-edited three anthologies of 20th-Century Poetic Theatre from abroad: Modern French Theatre: The Avant-Garde, Dada, & Surrealism (1964); Post-War German Theatre (1966) and Modern Spanish Theatre (1967). His anthology of twentieth-century American plays, Theatre Experiment, was issued in 1968. He is also the editor of two landmark anthologies of twentieth-century poetry: The Poetry of Surrealism (1974); and The Prose Poem: An International Anthology (1976). A critical Festschrift, Benedikt: A Profile was issued by Grilled Flowers Press in 1978. Benedikt was Poetry Editor for The Paris Review from 1975 to 1978. His editorial selections are represented in The Paris Review Anthology (1990). Occasionally active as a critic/journalist, he is also a former Associate Editor of Art News and Art International. His literary criticism has appeared in Poetry and The American Book Review.
Michael Benedikt's books of poetry include The Badminton at Great Barrington; or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), Night Cries (prose poems, 1976), Mole Notes (prose poems, 1971), Sky (1970), and The Body (1968). Poems as yet uncollected in book form have appeared in the 1990's in such literary magazines as Agni, Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and Partisan Review. His honors include a New York State Council for The Arts Grant, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and an NEA Fellowship. He has taught at Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, and Hampshire Colleges; and at Boston University. Michael Benedikt died on February 9, 2007.
April 12, 2012
His poems have been published in literary journals and magazines including Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, Electronic Poetry Review, Rattle, and in anthologies including Verse & Universe: Poems About Science and Mathematics (Milkweed Editions, 1998) and New American Poets in the 90’s (David R. Godine, 1991).
Seibles was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and earned his B.A. from Southern Methodist University in 1977. He remained in Dallas after graduating and taught high school English for ten years. He received his M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 1990. He is a professor of English and creative writing at Old Dominion University, as well as teaching in the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing and teaching workshops for Cave Canem. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia.
April 11, 2012
THIS COLUMN ORIGINALLY RAN ON COMICS BULLETIN
Random Pulls from the Bargain BinIn these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.
March 28, 2012 – paid 50 cents for:
Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Louise Simonson
Pencils by: Michael Chen
Inks by: Akin & Garvey
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Julianna Ferriter Editor:
NO VIBES! NO VIBES!
November, 1984, you also spawned Starriors #1 from Marvel Comics, and no amount of ScoJo or Boney M will ever make me forgive you for this (not even Boney M!).
A matter of fact, because of Starriors #1, I would like to erase November, 1984 entirely from my memory, and let me assure you that in November of 1984, I was a frickin' king.
And this is because Starriors #1 is a complete mess that made me angrier and angrier and angrier the more I read it.
April 8, 2012
This Interview Originally Ran On Comics Bulletin
In the process of randomly pulling comics out of the bargain bin for my Cheap Thrills column, I recently stumbled across Joel Rivers' Along the Canadian . After the column was posted, I got in contact with Joel via social media to let him know how much I enjoyed his book.
The more I thought about his book and how it ended up n the bargain bin, the more questions I came up with. Finally, I asked Joel if he would be willing to talk a little about the fate of Along the Canadian, his experience with the Xeric Foundation, the state of comic book publishing today, and what he learned from the experience of self-publishing. Here's what he had to say.
Daniel Elkin for Comics Bulletin: First off, let me tell you again what a treat it was for me to find Along the Canadian. Writing a weekly column about comics I find in the bargain bin can be rather brutal at times, but every once in awhile I find a little lost gem. Your book was one of them, and it gave me renewed faith in what I am doing with my column. Can you tell me a little bit about where you got the inspiration for the story, what your influences were, and how your background may have played a role in developing Along the Canadian?
Joel Rivers: Well, thanks! Like I said to you earlier, I’m just glad SOMEBODY is reading it still. It’s humbling to think people see value in something I view as so rough and flawed. I was definitely still just a babe in the woods when I did ATC.
The inspirations are several. First, my family is from the place that ATC takes place: Oklahoma, Texas. My mother grew up out there, but she’s from Kentucky. I grew up in San Francisco, but heard lots of backwoodsy stories, ghost stories, etc. when I was young. Of course I was influenced a lot by Sergio Leon’s spaghetti westerns, and some of Clint Eastwood’s later western films: High Plans Drifter, Outlaw Josey Wales especially.
April 7, 2012
This Column was a collaborative piece done with Steve Savage (The Boss at Fan to Pro)which first ran on Comics Bulletin.Steve and Daniel are still hot on the idea of a Comics Necropolis - an on-line resource and archive for odd, obscure, weird, and lost titles.
Last week they sketched out a business plan – today it's all about the bells, and whistles – a grab bag of random ideas.
By the way – Steve and Daniel would like to assure you that they are in no ways telling you this is something that you should be doing right now. They just think it is something you should be doing right now.
Anyway, here are some of their further thoughts about a Comics Necropolis:
Number One: Although ideally a Comics Necropolis should be a stand alone entity, if some enterprising pop culture or comic book web site decided that this should be something they should take on, then it can easily be adapted into their existing structure as a add-on feature to drive traffic to the rest of their site.
April 5, 2012
This Review Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Sometimes it's hard to be effusive about something you really, really, really, really like without sounding sappy. Sometimes it's hard to express that you really, really, really, really like that something without it sounding bathetic. Let me warn you from the outset, there will be times during this review that, by golly, I'm going to sound both sappy and bathetic, but I can't help it. The new release from Dark Horse Comics of Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten's, Criminal Macabre: Die, Die, My Darling! has pressed all of my pleasure buttons and has turned me into a smile-faced, gushing fanboy jumping up and down repeatedly while clapping my hands in glee.
Criminal Macabre: Die, Die, My Darling! is the latest installment in Niles' long-running (since 1990) horror detective series staring Cal McDonald and Mo'Lock, and it is one of the best he's ever done. If you haven't read any of the Criminal Macabre books in the past, Niles provides readers with this quick overview of the character and plot:
Cal McDonald saw his first dead body when he was eight years old—setting the tone for the rest of his life. A pill-popping, alcoholic degenerate, teamed up with his ghoul associate Mo’Lock, Cal spirals around the sin-infested streets of Los Angeles in his possessed Chevy Nova against a growing horde of monsters. Losing one friend after another to his cases, Cal is slowly being pushed over the edge. A looming war between man and monster is coming, and Cal and his army of the undead are ready to blast every single werewolf, demon, occultist, and vampire back to hell!
I mean, how can you not be instantly engaged in this?
April 2, 2012
This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin and was written with Jason Sacks and Nick Hanover
Jason: We really need more graphic novels like Gone to Amerikay. With an epic setting, interesting characters, intriguing explorations of historical moments, and a twist or two, this book was a real pleasure for me on every level. It's a true historical graphical novel. Writer Derek McCulloch has his characters grow and change throughout the book. None of the featured characters are the same at the end as they are at the beginning, and their story arcs play out wonderfully throughout. The Ciara and Maire O'Dwyer who we meet at the beginning of this story are not the mother and daughter who we know at the end, and the same is true of the other characters in the book as well.
The first page of Amerikay really sets the tone. We get a scene set in 1870 as the O'Dwyers arrive by boat into New York. A man on the boat is momentarily overcome by his excitement at their arrival, calling America, optimistically, "Where any man can be free and prosper to the utmost of his ambition." Two panels later, an uncredited voice mumbles, "It's littler than I thought."
April 1, 2012
This Column Originally Appeared on Comics Bulletin
As promised (or threatened) last time, Daniel and Jason are back to talk about Steve Gerber's mad genius work for Marvel Comics in the 1970's. This time they explore his work on the series OMEGA THE UNKNOWN.
Daniel Elkin: “Are you in pain, James-Michael?”
Jason Sacks: “Only the voices can harm you. Don't listen to the voices. It's dangerous to listen.”
Elkin: This Omega the Unknown is some seriously hard-to-wrap-my-head-around comic booking going on.
Sacks: It's all pretty Gerber, if you ask me.
Elkin: But with such an overwhelming sense of disconnect. To the point where I began to feel my emotions dripping out of my toes -- that is, I guess, until the fucking Foolkiller shows up again.
Sacks: What do you mean by "an overwhelming sense of disconnect"?
Elkin: I guess the fact that James-Michael and Omega were, at least initially, so devoid of an emotional response to the world. It seemed almost un-Gerber.
Sacks: A lot of this book is about what happens to unemotional people when they're thrust into a situation where they are forced to react.
You put a stone-faced, home-schooled genius in the midst of one of the worst slums in New York and send him to the middle school from Hell, and then force him to deal with the consequences of that life.
Elkin: And he has this very intimate connection with Omega who is also very uneasy with his emotional side -- so much so that when he finally has to emotionally respond to things, he seems to get increasingly erratic and out of control. Or am I totally misreading this comic? I kind of found it confusing, but engaging because of that -- Actually, I'm not really sure how I felt about Gerber's Omega. Talk me through this, Sacks. Maybe by the end of this, I will actually be able to tell you what I thought.