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Monday, January 31, 2005

So Long, January!

That damn episode of Static Shock is on again. Holy Cats, it's like they're going for all the people they didn't drive to suicide last week. Good thing Static was so cool on Justice League, or else I'd write him off entirely after two viewings of this one.

So the New Adventures of Jack Kirby continues to develop (much to the surprise of a few), and I'm getting more and more excited about it. I had a few ideas that I sent off to Phil when I got home, so we'll see what develops on those. We MAY even have a guest cover--or at the very least, a pin-up in the Strictly Salacious Sims-Looney Style! Or is that the Ludicrously Loquatious Looney-Sims Manner? Sometimes I'm not sure how Stan did it. Still, that is one cool-ass robot.

I also got a few ideas for the Eberron novella, although I haven't actually written any more since last week. Meanwhile, Keith Baker's first Eberron novel has hit the bookstores, and since I ordered mine through the shop, I haven't gotten it yet. This wouldn't be worth mentioning except EVERYONE I KNOW HAS IT. Even Tug, who read my Drizzt book aloud in David Cross's "Gay Voice" has a copy.

Still, I finally have something to write. It's times like this I wish I could just sit type all day.

Some other good news from a good buddy, apparently the twelve episodes of Spaced I've seen do NOT comprise the whole series! There's seven episodes per season, not six, and that means that the second season DOESN'T end in a cliffhanger! Finally, the closure I've been looking for.

Anyway, that's about it. Sorry for the brevity, but hey--we got Nazi robots to defeat!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

After-Action Report

Nobody I know got killed in South Central LA. Today was a good day.

After staying up until 4:30 AM catching up on the Practice, Scott and I slept all frigg'n day. Once we were finally awake and mobile, however, the day kicked into high gear. We threw a bunch of crap on eBay, caught an early breakfast at Denny's at 5 PM, then I came back to my own sinister lair.

Oh God. I thought I'd hit rock bottom with blogging, but now I'm using my blog to plug my ebay auctions. Someone stop me before I start listing my current music and mood.

So what made today so good? Glad you asked, Rhetorical Question!

Gay Comics #22 -- Scott's got this program called Comicbase, which is exactly what it sounds like--a big ol' database of comics, including cover scans. It comes with this screen saver that just displays random comic pages, and I have to say, it's astoundingly fascinating to look at. One of the gems that came up while I was staring at it today was this cover. Now, I know it was 1944 and all, but I think we all know there was somebody over at Marvel who thought putting a cover blurb like: "I bet you can't blow hard enough to--ugh--splat!" on the cover of Gay Comics was hilarious. They were right.

Spaced Marathon on Trio -- If you're reading this around the time I'm writing it and you have the Trio cable channel, turn it on and get caught up on Spaced, one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. For those of you not in the know, Spaced is made by the same fine folks who brought you Shaun of the Dead, and it's every bit as good. Simon Pegg stars as Tim Bisley, who works at a comic book store, and Jessica Stevenson plays Daisy Steiner, his aspiring writer roommate, so you can see how it could appeal to the likes of me. It's awesome, and hopefully on DVD soon. Do not miss the rave episode.

Justice League Unlimited Season Finale -- [If you haven't watched it yet, look out, because this is going to have spoilers in it. And if you have watched it, you might want to skip it anyway, because it's mostly going to be me gushing]. Holy Crap. It's like they just said "Hey, you know all that stuff you liked from the past five years of DC animated properties? Well, we crammed it all into one half-hour. Enjoy!" I'm talking Deedee from Return of the Joker, Terry McGinnis introducing Batman to Old Bruce Wayne, hell, they even made Static awesome. And they even threw in the Spectre and Krona at the beginning of time! If Walker Gabriel would've shown up, I probably would've had a heart attack.

Scott McCloud's Destroy!! -- Phil reccomended this one to me, and Scott had it over at his place, so I read it. Words do not do it justice. Suffice to say that it's a treasury-sized (11x15) book that features nothing but two guys fighting, and it's fantastic. It's hard to track down, but if you find one, do NOT pass it up. And as a bonus, McCloud refers to it as the "Ultimate Fight Comic" back in 1986, and Alan Moore gives this one credit for starting the 90s four years early.

The KIRBY Project -- Phil's got a piece of concept art over on his blog, and I'm starting to get pretty pumped about collaborating with him. By the same token, I'm pretty nervous. Phil's a great guy, and I think he's going to do some awesome stuff on this story, but my dialogue's pretty much untested. Here's hoping I live up to it.

So all in all, despite the lack of a new Desperate Housewives/Boston Legal Action Pack, today turned out all right.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Boston Legal Prequel Party

This edition of the ISB is being broadcast live from a secure location known only as the Secret HQ as we roll on through Boston Legal Prequel Party!

The stage was set for tonight's festivities by the abysmal day we've had around here. I imagine Local News Douchebag is going to have a caniption fit tomorrow night bringing us the news about "CHILLING SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES IN THE MIDLANDS."

It was apparently so bad that the shop had to close, which works out for the best since I was so bored I invented a new ultimate martial arts weapon and scared away customers.

That's right. It's a toilet plunger handle connected to a Spider-Man mini-basketball with ten rubber bands. I have christened it the Ultimate Mace of Sadness, and legends say it traps men's souls within its office-supply laden form.

So since work left off early, Scott and I were able to get dinner at a local Chinese place where they McJordaned us up a delicious beef/broccoli/walnut dish while Scott spent no less than two hours bringing me up to speed on the Practice. You, on the other hand, can find out most of this information by checking the aforelinked Official BLPP website. When I told Scott we needed a website for the party, he told me that I have a gift for tricking people into generating content for my blog. "Before the end of the week," he said, "you'll have Tug pushing Chad down the street in a rocket-powered skateboard."

Which brings us up to right now, where there's sadly no breaking of the land speed record. We are currently one episode into the five we have scheduled for tonight, and as I write this, Soul Train is on Scott's TV. Those of you who know Scott and I should find that suitably amusing.

So Alan Shore has just won his suit against Young, Frutt, and Berluti, in an episode that featured no less than four impassioned speeches and two super-hot girls. After Scott described the Practice to me--and brother, that's a bleak world of noble men defending serial rapists--it's awesome to see the buildup come to a head in these episodes. Financially, ideologically, and even in the meta-show where we don't know who's coming back next season, it's literally Boston Legal (with Denny Crane and Alan Shore) versus the Practice (with the rest of 'em) for all the marbles!

If Alan Shore used the Astro-Force to reflect Eugene Young's Omega Beams, it'd be damn near perfect.

So if there's anyone out there joining in with the party with their own Shatner, Spader, or David E. Kelly viewing, raise your glasses in toast. I'm going to get back to the hot legal action.


Friday, January 28, 2005

The Warren Report: 1-29-05

Before I go on and talk about a guy so cool he can get away with sitting in a pub typing on a Treo all day, a few Items of Interest:

-There's this guy, Mark, who's been posting on the ISB as of late. I went and checked out his blog, and it's pretty awesome. We've got a lot in common, right down to the links to Homestar Runner and X-Entertainment. Go give it a read, especially his "Comics I Shouldn't Own" series. There's fun for everyone! I like him because he likes the Karl Kessel Daredevil, and Melanie's considering breaking up with her secret lover for him because he likes Square games.

-Alan Moore was interviewed on a BBC radio show this week called "Chain Reaction." The concept is that the interviewee becomes the interviewer for the next show, so we've got two episodes to look forward to that feature the world's best comics writer. If you haven't heard it yet, go here and click on Chain Reaction. It's awesome, and it'll be up for another few days.

-Boston Legal Prequel Party is tomorrow night! We'll be viewing the last five episodes of the Practice in a boozy Shatner-and-Spader haze, and you can be a part of it. Visit Scott's Official BLPP website for details and tune in here tomorrow for the on-location ISB update.

-I read JLA Classified #3 and I want to kiss Grant Morrison on the mouth.

Which brings me, in a roundabout sort of way, back to Warren.

He's been on a roll this week with the Bad Signal. The guy simply cannot stop thinking about comics, which is what I love about him. A couple Signals were just full of stuff he was thinking about, and in the tradition of "The Explodo," he dropped a new term on us--Fight Comics. It's a great label for certain things, and the best part of this week's dispatches was that about three paragraphs after he coined the phrase, he became so amused with himself that he broke out in mid-thought and just wrote: "Fight comics. Heh." and then went right back into what he was talking about.

I've said it before, Warren's awesome.

The reason it made me think of JLA Classified is that those three issues are just that: Fight Comics. I've been told that G-Mo's doing a sort of "Western manga" style on JLA:C, so the book just hits the ground running and doesn't stop for three issues. To say it's action-packed is like saying the Great Wall of China has a few bricks in it. I mean, look at that cover. Batman's in imminent danger of being eaten by a super-gorilla. It's got the Ultramarines fighting Grodd, the Robot JLA fighting the Ultramarines, Grodd fighting Batman, Batman fighting the Ultramarines... It's senses-shattering. It's fight comics done right.

I've even seen Phil use the term over on Thinking Comics, which I think proves that it's one of those great phrases that's so useful we're going to wonder how we classified things like Orion #5 before it popped, reeking of booze, out of Warren's bearded head.

And that's the LEAST of great pearls o' wisdom we've gotten this week. Check these out (best read in a gruff English accent):

"The one issue of AUTHORITY I got hate mail on was, I believe, the third issue. The one where I stopped to explicate the plot (such as it was) and didn't use The Explodo. People passed on reviews which said, I swear to God, 'Has Ellis lost it?'"

"I have stolen planes from the needy. What a bastard I am."

Re: The last episode of Enterprise: "They could have just put a title card up for 44 minutes which read FUCK YOU FOR WATCHING. REGARDS, THE MGMNT."

And of course:

"Even a smart porn movie still has a come shot."

The man drops gems like he's got holes in his pockets, and STILL has time to have the Ultimate Fantastic Four sit around talking to each other for twenty-two pages each month.

What's not to love?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I'm On A Christian Radio, Whoa-Oh

I drive an hour to and from work, so I have a lot of time to listen to things in the car. Usually it's gangsta rap, books on tape, stand-up comedy, or whatever, but sometimes I like to flip on the radio. That's a pretty dangerous undertaking, since most radio sucks, but I do get to listen to This American Life and Prarie Home Companion on the weekends. But then last year, I lucked into finding the most awesome radio show ever.

It's called Adventures in Odyssey, and it has to be heard to be believed. If you're in the Greater Columbia Area, you can catch it on 88.7 at 7:30 every day. It's a Christian show that illustrates lessons from the Bible against the backdrop of a small town (Odyssey), centered on an ice cream shop, and it's exactly as bizarre as it sounds. I'm not what you'd call religious at all, but I swear, I can't stop listening to it. Ever since Tavis Smiley left NPR, it's the most entertaining half hour on the airwaves.

Heck, if it wasn't for this picture, it might be the best thing ever--although not for the reasons its creators intended.

Here's a quick rundown on our principal characters.

John Avery "Whit" Whitaker: The wise proprietor of Whit's End, the ice cream shop, and dispenser of wisdom. Also an archaeologist, Biblical scholor, and accidentally caused his stepmother's blindness.

Eugene Meltzner: "Genius" employee of Whit's End. We can tell he's a genius because he likes computers and says things like "Greetings!" and "To use the colloquial vernacular..." Formerly agnostic.

Connie Kendall: Whit's other employee. Perky girl.

Jason Whitaker: Whit's son, who's a Secret Agent. Retires to become a missionary.

Tom Riley: Local farmer and former mayor.

Bernard: Local janitor and oddball.

The Rathbones: Occasional villains for the show. Bart Rathbone owns an electronics store and is usually involved in shady deals, his wife is a shrew, and their son, Rodney, has a gang-slash-band called the Bones of Wrath.

Regis Blackgaard: Whit's opposite number. Genius and computer programmer who attempts and succeeds at murder at various times on the show. Has a twin brother who's a good guy.

There's a ton of other characters, but those are the most important ones for the story I want to talk about.

See, it's usually just a way for me to pass a half hour without listening to shitty pop music, and it's usually pretty awful. When Melanie was with me, we heard one where Whit and Eugene went to Corazon del Diablo to find the Cross of Cortez, which was extremely odd. There's one where they did three stories that it's painfully obvious were just leftover ideas they couldn't stretch an entire half-hour out of, so you get ten minutes of a guy being a poor role model by smoking (gasp!) in front of a kid with athsma (double-gasp!). 90% of the episodes are just flat-out cheesy.

But it actually has pretty tight internal continuity which appeals to me, and, as Warren Ellis would say, it's well-done, of its type. There was an episode where Connie kept bugging Eugene about becoming a Christian, and Whit finally had to sit her down and say: "Look, cool out with that." The message was that heavy-handed and constant pressuring, while done for the right reasons, is the wrong way to help people find Jesus, which is pretty forward-thinking and tolerant compared to most of the stuff on the Bible Broadcast Network. And the fact that they had an agnostic character who was portrayed so positively speaks volumes.

But back to the point, it's pretty goofy most of the time, and the more you listen and the more you find out, the weirder it gets. Whit's End is absolutely crazy. It's a small-town ice cream shop that has insane technological innovations like the Imagination Station--essentially the Christian Holodeck which functions in the stories to let the kids hang out with a computer simulation of Jesus. It's nuts.

But it's also addictive, which is why I found myself not too long ago listening to a storyline I called Crisis on Infinite Odysseys. It took literally months to set up, and the bulk of the story ran in the daily episodes for a couple weeks. Here's what happens.

Tom runs for Mayor, and despite a plot regarding some toxic waste in his orchard, he's elected. Then Whit goes on an archaeological dig to Jerusalem, and his son the SECRET FRIGG'N AGENT comes back to run the shop. So then there's these mysterious acts of vandalism which are perpetrated by the Bones of Wrath under the direction of an unseen force. This causes the town to go into an uproar and recall Tom as mayor. Concurrently, there's a dispute over the ownership of Whit's End. That's when Regis Blackgaard shows up announcing his candidacy for Mayor and seizing ownership of Whit's end.

I'm telling you, it's like Infinity Gauntlet and No Man's Land all rolled into one.

So THEN some more stuff goes down and Eugene, depressed because he's lost his mentor and his raison d'etre, AND because he thinks his girlfriend's going to leave him, puts together a computer program to analyze the data to make sense of it all, and he sees the entirity of his life in Odyssey all at once, and decides to become a Christian because of the patterns! I mean it's like he tapped into the Supercontext, Grant Morrison style! And I know it sounds crazy but, it's exciting when it happens, too. It's Secret Wars #8 as done by religious radio.

After Eugene's big conversion, the tide starts to turn and they find out that Blackgaard has been running his takeover of the city from a secret cave system underneath Whit's End itself (!) and when the heroes go to confront him, there's a massive explosion and a cave-in, which we assume kills Blackgaard (!!), although he later comes back as a self-replicating sentient computer program who takes over a child's mind (!!!).

Seriously, some of the plots they were coming up with were mind-blowing. I was trying to explain them to Tug, and he said it sounded like they'd found their own version of Geoff Johns to come in and tie all the continuity together in a massive story.

Unfortunately, Post-Crisis Odyssey has gone back to the way it was before. Tonight's, for instance, featured some gangs from nearby Connellsville called the Ravens and the Brothers. I mean, relly, "The Brothers?" "The Jets" is a more intimidating name than that.

Still, if you get a chance, listen. You might get a story where Connie and Eugene use the Imagination Station to go back in time and help St. Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland. But then again, you might get something crazy.


So there's this genius kid in England who read the Encyclopedia Britannica, found five mistakes, and sent them a letter correcting them. That's awesome. I'm kinda like that, except instead of things that actually matter, I find fault with comics and then whine about them incessantly on my interweb diary, and my genius manifests itself in other ways.

So this morning while Melanie was busy baking delicious pies, I was doing new comics in the back of the shop. Now this may come as a surprise to you, but I'm a big fan of war comics, specifically the DC ones. There's a sense of grandeur and mythology there that rivals anything in the superhero books. I mean, look at Sgt. Rock. He starts off pretty rough in a story where he talks about working in a steel mill roughly 34 times, but by the time you've got Joe Kubert doing some of the best covers in comics, there are some pretty amazing stories in there to go with 'em. There's the return of the Iron Major and how Rock is the only man to ever escape from Stalag 19, and the one where Jackie Johnson has to fight the Nazi heavyweight champion who keeps screaming "YOUR BLOOD IS BLACK LIKE YOUR SKIN! SHOW ME! SHOW ME THE COLOR OF YOUR BLOOD!" and ends up saving his life with a transfusion after he beats the hell out of him! That's frigg'n awesome!

The Losers, Enemy Ace, Gravedigger, Haunted Tank, they're all great. Love 'em all. Heck, I thought Jeb Stuart was a fictional character until last year.

That's why I flipped out in the back today when I saw this. It's got to be one of the craziest, most nonsensical things I've ever seen, and I loved it immediately. I popped it open and read through the story--"ONE WAY STREET!"--later, and boy, is it nuts.

So there's this dude named Joe Boomer, called Dynamite Joe because he's apparently really into blowing shit up. Someone finally realizes that this guy's probably completely lost his marbles and so they tell him "Okay, pal, you're a messenger now," and give him a note. So he hops in his jeep and heads towards enemy lines mumbling about how they can't take HIS dynamite away and by God he'll put a crateful in this jeep if he wants to.

Yes, he's heading towards enemy fire with a crate of dynamite on the seat beside him.

So when he gets there, he finds out that everybody's dead except for four guys who are pretty much the Village People of war comics: Smart Guy, Big Guy, Kid, and Indian, whose dialogue is wretched: "Me am Scout. Me fight like Indian anscestors... but win!"


So Easy Co. Lite gets ambushed while they're driving around. They run into a landmine which flips the jeep over and almost completely destroys it. That box of TNT Joe has sitting on the passenger seat? Just fine. So Joe figures he'll have to do something drastic to get out of this situation, and the overwhelming tide of racial slurs he throws out just isn't cutting it. Then, seeing Scout's bow and arrow (which he carries in the middle of World War II because, you know, he's an Indian), he gets the bright idea to tie bundles of dynamite to arrows and shoot them at the trees the Japanese soldiers are hiding behind. Against all odds, and logic, and aerodynamics, it works.

It's exactly the kind of thing Tom Brokaw had in mind when he called them The Greatest Generation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Pornucopia

[NOTE: Some links in this post are not safe for work. And in fact, the post itself is pretty rough too. But I mean, really, what are you doing reading this thing at work? I drop the f-bomb like I think I'll win something for it]

The best thing about Colleen Coover is that I can identify with her. We exchanged a few emails a while back when I caught on her webpage that she worked at a comic book store and was constantly being asked if they sold bongs. That happens to me all the time. One time this guy came in asking for chemicals to clear out your system for a drug test, and when I told him we didn't sell those, he looked dead at me and said, "Really? No, really?" It was like I was just waiting until he said the password.

So there's that. And then there's the whole thing where we're both into chicks, which is where Small Favors [probably NSFW] comes in.

The world of porn comics is absolutely amazing, and I don't think you can really grasp it unless you work in a shop and you see it come in week after week. It's insane. It is simultaneously the most fascinating and revolting genre. And while most of it is bottomlessly awful (especially the furry books, which I'll one day write at length and with great bitterness about), every now and then you get something that's actually pretty entertaining.

Small Favors is one of those. It's hard to explain, but most of the time it doesn't even feel very pornographic, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. Colleen draws in this really simple, clean style that's more reminiscent of Mike Allred and Bruce Timm [Look out! There's some naked ladies!] than, say, Milo Manara, and the stories are generally pretty well written and clever, while at the same time being disarmingly bizarre most of the time.

Example time. There's one panel that's a Dragon Favorite. The main story finishes with a few pages left to go, so our principal characters, Annie and Nibbil (who's a manifestation of Annie's conscience with the Power of the Atom--I told you it was bizarre) to just go at it for like six pages. And there's a bit of dialogue between them that goes: "Oooh... that's my ass" "I know."

Never fails to make me laugh hysterically. There's even a backup story in the trade that's written in the style of an 1890s adventure novel, and THAT's genius. Even ISB favorite Warren Ellis likes it! AND she did a sketch for Tug at a con once, and she wasn't even a guest! She's school in the fall, man--full of class.

There are a couple more standouts in the porn comic industry that deserve mentioning. First, there's Lost Girls [NSFW], by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, and like Alan Moore's 1963, is so good it doesn't have an ending. The plot reads like bad fanfiction--it's the story of how Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Alice from Alice in Wonderland meet up at a hotel and have sex with each other--but it's incredible. Seriously, I've read it, and it's astounding how well done it is. It's the Watchmen of porn. Chad, Tug, Scott, and I were talking about it at comic book club one time and everyone else just looked at us like we had lobsters crawling out of our ears. It's supposed to finally be released in Hardcover from Top Shelf this summer, and if you like comics at all, pick it up. Just don't let the wife see it.

Then there's Alice in Sexland, a comic that takes everything wrong with Japanese porn comics--and brother, there's eight hours of shouting I could do--and puts it all in one book. It is jaw-dropping, this thing. But for some reason, it comes off as not being that bad, and there's a twist ending that's actually shocking and turns the book into a weird kind of commentary on the treatment of women in a repressive society. Catch me at the store sometime and I'll tell you all about it.

Now, for the warning, because what would this thing be if I didn't bother to complain about something? A while back, when a few of us decided to each jump on a different porn comic, John made the mistake of picking the innocuous-sounding Housewives at Play [note the absence of link]. Written and drawn by the alleged "Rebecca," who I'm sure is a 40 year old man with some profound psychological issues, Housewives contains what is unquestionably the worst, most wretched, vile and downright horrendous porn comic ever created. I mean, I've seen issues of Genus that were less offensive. I'm not even going to get into the plot on this one. That's how bad it is. If you really want to hear about it--and no matter what you think now, you don't--ask.

Remember, kids: If someone offers you Housewives at Play, they are not your friend.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Random Ass Monday

Today's post was going to be on porn comics and why they make the world a better place, but after a lengthy consideration of the material, I decided I needed to do more research. Alone. Far from prying eyes. So instead, what you get is another sub-par internet diary entry, which I'm sure you're all just foaming at the mouth to read. I mean, really, who the hell am I?

Chris Sims, that's who, and don't you damn well forget it.


Apparently today's the Worst Day of the Year, but being as a new issue of Outsiders didn't come out, I can't see how that's possible.

Still, it's a theory supported by a couple of facts.

-Tonight's episode of Static Shock guest stars Shaq. Static's rough at the best of times, but this one has to be the worst. Shaq, of course, finds out Static's identity, which sets the precedent for every guest star (including the whole frigg'n team of real-life basketball players who are actually superheroes later on) to find out.

-I was reading through a bunch of random blogs today and found one in Portugese. The only word I could understand was "Xuxa." Xuxa, as you might know, is a Playboy model turned children's show host from Brazil who was briefly popular in the mid-90s, and it's fairly depressing that I know that much about her.

-Despite its designation in my head as New Content Day, this Monday hasn't produced a new Strong Bad Email OR a new Dollar Movie Review! And it's going to be Catwoman this week!

-The guy who has all the Woggles mp3s won't stay online for five frigg'n minutes so I can get 'em!

The Worst Day of the Year hypothesis is further supported by the Fantastic Four trailer, which I'm probably the last comic book store employee in North America to see. My reaction was pretty much the same as the guys over at Penny Arcade, but the movie footage aside, that's the worst trailer I've seen since the Michelle Trachtenberg ice skating movie. I mean, after telling us that they'll be changed "4 ever," they feel it necessary to let us know that "one will be bad."

When I was in high school, my English teacher asked the class what the main message of All Quiet on the Western Front was. I went for the whole brevity thing and answered: "War is bad." Well congratulations, 11th Grade Chris, someone else has usurped your record of worst adjective use ever.

To quote Penny Arcade one more time: "The whole thing looks like it was made on a dare during second lunch."

But today wasn't all bad. I had lunch with Scott , and I'm sure you'll be thrilled to learn that the plans for Boston Legal Prequel Party proceed apace. Be on the lookout for the official website later this week.

In other news, I caught the new Hot Hot Heat single today, and it's pretty rockin'. Tug introduced me to them last year, along with a ton of other bands. It's almost at the point where I think Tug will be remembered as a sort of musical Johnny Appleseed, roaming the countryside in a Tom Waits shirt tossing mix tapes hither and yon.

A few days ago I was driving to work and there was a car stopped in the lane next to me. There was a couple in the front seat and I could tell they were singing along to something, complete with synchronous, choreographed moves. I wondered about it until I saw the baby in the back seat and realized he was moving his arms along with the couple's motions. It made me think about how I'll roll down the street with my friends singing along to The Chronic. I don't know why, but I found the whole thing hilarious.

Hopefully, the malaise of the day will pass, since it's even gotten to Melanie. I was talking to her earlier and she told me she was worried about her class:

"The pie practical exam is on wednesday and don't automatically say yay just because it has the word pie in it, because I'm incredibly worried about it and he made it very very hard."

I think that about sums it up.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

It's Always the Good Ones

Before I get to anything else tonight, I just want to say that Johnny Carson was one of my favorites. I'm too young to remember him being on the Tonight Show, but with my interest in stand-up comedy, he always came up, and I was never disappointed with what I saw. I always hoped he'd have a comeback, but I guess I'll just have to stay on the straight and narrow and hope I catch his act in the next world.

The worst thing about it is that the Local News Douchebag kept practicing his "sincere face" as he promoted the Carson tribute tonight, sandwiched between a warning that temperatures were dropping and the invasion of the super-rats.

That guy almost ruins the Sunday Night ABC Rock Block every time, but fortunately this week's Boston Legal could not be stopped. I mean, it's a pretty good show usually, but this episode left its parents on Krypton. Here's a sample:

William Shatner: What's my name?
Morbidly Obese Guy: Denny Crane.
Shatner: Like you mean it!
Guy: Denny Crane!
Shatner: What's my name?!

And that was one of the courtroom scenes! And in case that's not enough for you, tonight's episode featured three words that are very close to my heart: hot-ass lesbians. If you're not excited about watching this show, then you, sir or madam, are made of stone.

Scott and I are so excited about it that next Saturday, we're throwing a little shindig we like to call Boston Legal Prequel Party. We're going to watch the last season of the Practice, featuring Alan Shore and the first appearance of Denny Crane, and consume some of those left-over alcoholic beverages from New Year's. It'll also be the site of the first on-location ISB update, and I encourage you all to participate. If you can't get the Practice, feel free to go back even further to any Shatner or Spader joint (I reccomend Wrath of Kahn), crack a beverage, and celebrate! Stay tuned for more updates as we move through the week.

And with that, I'll let Master Shake provide the words of wisdom for the evening: "Egypt is so boring! I mean, it doesn't even exist! You don't hear DMX rap about it!"

Another Saturday Night in Old Deutschland

I hate to come to this thing without anything to talk about but how my day went. It really turns this into a glorified diary, but considering that's what it is, I'm ready to roll with it.

I don't know if it was the dreary weather, the fact that mama cooked a breakfast with hog, or what, but I was feeling down all day. Work was the pits, man, and even a trip to Popeye's with Phil didn't do a whole lot to raise my spirits, although it was fun. Seriously, the day dragged on so much that I had a pushup competition with Matt P. Those of you who have seen our less-than-Hero-of-the-Beach physiques can imagine how well that went.

So here's an idea. How about we as a society all get together, join hands, and decide to never use the phrase "Workin' hard... or hardly workin'?" ever again. It shames us all.

My bad mood was knocked out by a trip to the Art Bar to see a few bands play, and I didn't catch one misuse of the Metal Sign. It was a great time--me, Chad, Robert, Tug and Carrie, and Matt G, who's back on the sauce. Even Scott made a cameo appearance. He'd punked out on us earlier that night, but after he got a call from an old friend, decided to punk back in for a bit.

The opener was a Stooges tribute by a band billed as the Spooges, although they also referred to themselves as--and I swear this is true--Teen Vulva Eye. They were good, and met all the requirements for a bitchin' rock show.

Frontman with no shirt occasionally bleeding? Check.
Drummer who kinda looks like Henry Rollins when he grimaces? Check.
Gutarist with a big metal cross around his neck? Oh you best believe that's a check.

Between shows I went out for a breath of fresh air, and Chad ran into a friend of his who wore a scarf that made him look like Number 2 from the Prisoner. His girlfriend was with him, a pretty blonde who introduced herself as Summer Brooks.

I've always been a little wary around people attatched to names that should belong to subdivisions, but she was nice. I stood there while Chad talked to Number 2, and she flicked her eyes down to my shirt, then back up to me.

"I like your shirt," she said. I looked down. Batman. Why is it always Batman?

"Thank you." There was a pause. "... I like your scarf."

I mean, what do you say to someone named Summer Brooks?

A few minutes later, Tug pointed out a guy in a cowboy hat and coat that I'd mistaken for a pimp earlier. "That's Hick'ry Hawkins. He's a legend." I tried, but no further explanation was offered. Hick'ry, if you're out there, keep on doin' what you do.

Then the second act came on, and I'm sad to say, I may never have sex again, because they rocked the fuck out of me. They were the Woggles, and they were absolutely amazing. Downright hellacious. I mean, the frontman's called the Professor of Rock 'n' Roll, for crying out loud, and that might be cooler than Shaft. I could write all night about how great they were, but "amazing" pretty much sums it up. They were all over the stage and out in the crowd, and a couple times they were rocking out like three feet away from me. Although, to be honest, they were rocking out three feet away from Carrie, and I just happened to be there.

Towards the end of the show, the drummer even moved his whole kit off the stage and into the audience for a couple songs. It was great, and between the fantastic show and my friends, it really cheered me up. They're out of Atlanta, I think, but if the Woggles ever come anywhere near you and you're not performing life-saving surgery, drop whatever it is you're doing and go see them. I guarantee you won't regret it, and you'll get to see what rock 'n' roll really looks like.

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Warren Report: 1-21-05

FACT: Warren talks about an Australian journalist and what she said to him in a Bad Signal last week, which is later recounted in the Warren Report.

FACT: The Invincible Super-Blog gets a post not one week later from a girl in Australia who describes my Evil Ernie post as "rousing."

I don't have to tell you what that means, true believer. The connections are starting, and the ISB is at the epicenter. On with the show!

So here's the best thing about Warren Ellis. He loves to share.

Whether it's a new band he's found that he likes (check out "The New Sound"), or his opinion that Come On Eileen was the best pop song ever created, you can always count on him to brighten your day with a previously undiscovered bit of fun. The Bad Signal's how I found out about the Grey Album, the Arcade Fire, and, of course, the Asshole Milkshake. That last one's evidence that they're not always winners, but this week's epistles from the pub had some content that I think is going to be worthwhile.

The gentleman's name is Sharknife, and as Warren says, "If you can look at this page and not grin at the Pure Comics Madness of it, you are dead to me." That's quite a reccomendation, especially considering that he broke out of his usual schedule of "Desolation Jones! The novel! Iron Man being late isn't my fault, you tossers! Stealth Tribes!" to let us know about it.

The book's being written and drawn by a guy named Corey Lewis, and I'm pretty excited about it. I mean, in the preview, he describes the cover to Volume 1 thusly: "Since Sharknife spends almost ALL his time in the interiors of the book flipping out and rocking hard, I decided to let him chill and sit on the cover." If he spends even HALF of his time flipping out and rocking hard, Sharknife is my kind of hero, and I've really got my hopes up for this one. It's in the January Previews on page 317, and it's not too late to order.

The rest of the Bad Signals this week were just the usual, keeping us up to date on Warren's various irons in the fire, which are legion. I really admire him for that.

In today's Non-Ellis news, I caught the season opener for Monk, featuring Natalie, the "New Sharona." I wish I'd been keeping up with it from the beginning so I knew if there was something at the end of last season that explains why she left, aside from the four-line summation in the new episode. Anyone got an answer for me? Jim?

I also watched Collateral today, on loan from the inimitable Shaka B. He and Chad were both shocked beyond belief when I told them I didn't really care for Tom Cruise, but I don't see why he's so great. Collateral was pretty much the same Tom Cruise experience I've always had: not bad, but nothing worth writing home about. Especially on the heels of the Royal Tennenbaums and the Prisoner, which I think I'm going to go watch now.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

For Every Action

Before the Best News Ever hit yesterday, I was going to talk about another character's return to comics, but then Project: OMAC was announced and rendered all other news obsolete.

Unfortunately, that won't stop this piece of shit from coming back. Yeah, it's Evil Ernie. Evil fucking Ernie. Apparently not even driving a company into bankruptcy can keep him in a damn grave.

Now even by my usual standards, you may be thinking that's a little harsh. Well if it is harsh, it's because Evil Ernie is the worst comic book character ever created, and to quote Bill Hicks, "that's the fact, the factorum, and if you give me some scratch paper, I can show my work." As I mentioned a week ago, I decided one day to read every Evil Ernie comic we had on hand, so don't think this is an uninformed judgment from some elitist. I know all about his abusive parents, the Dead Onez (look, kids! The famous "90s Z!"), and the quest for Megadeth. Yes, Megadeth. Spelled like the band. I hate these comics. I mean, I read Tarot, but Evil Ernie makes the Jim Balent ouvre look like fucking Hamlet.

Now besides being Brian Pulido's jack-off teen angst revenge fantasy, Evil Ernie is rife--RIFE--with problems. It bills itself as a clever satire on both the comic book industry and the horror genre. See, in a horror movie, the bad guy will usually kill teenagers, but in Evil Ernie, he's a dead teenager that kills adults! See how close to clever that comes? No? Yeah. Me either.

What passes for attempts at satire in the world of Evil Ernie (see Evil Ernie vs. the Superheroes 1 and 2 [yes, there's a fucking sequel]) is poorly done, wrongheaded, and based on the premise that Ernie is a better character than, say, Spider-Man, and I think we can all agree that's just patently untrue, especially for a character that refers to Spidey as a "sooper-hero."

But I'm getting ahead of myself. To spare you the trouble of slogging through that quagmire of awfulness, here's a quick summary of Evil Ernie. Little Ernest Fairchild has telepathic powers, and because he's different, shy, and has a shitty perm (we can assume this mirrors the childhood of a certain creator), his parents beat the hell out of him. This child abuse is shown in flashback for about six pages in every issue, and is portrayed so over-the-top and cartoonish as to be laughable. I seem to remember at one point that his dad hits him with a baseball bat and throws him through a window, and the next day he's got a black eye. A BLACK EYE! What is he, Wolverine?! Anyway. He's experimented on by a scientist or something and ends up hanging out in the Endless Graveyard with Lady Death, who at least had the good sense to get bought by a separate company and legally end her involvement in Ernie's stories.

So Ernie, at the age of like 13, ends up killing 37 people in his neighborhood, which is absolutely ludicrous. It's absoludicrous. He'd have to be quieter than Snake Eyes and luckier than Longshot to pull that off. Regardless, he gets shipped off to another scientist where another experiment goes awry and turns him into Evil Ernie, and he subsequently murders everyone east of the Mississippi River, including dropping a military satellite on New York. Then he blows up the world with nuclear weapons or something and gets rebooted. We didn't have those issues, thank God.

The crazy thing about it is that everything wrong with Evil Ernie--the over-the-top violence, the insanely nonsensical series of events, the way the world is an idea viewed through a lens of madness--is what's charming about OMAC. Which just goes to show that Brian Pulido is no Jack Kirby. Jack was writing for us, while Brian wrote self-indulgent tripe.

And a quick word on the violence. There's something enjoyable about Jack Hawksmoor punching a guy in the brain. Maybe it's because that's not the primary focus of the Authority. But when Ernie does it--and I've seen him do it, dear God, have I seen him do it--you just know that someone was sitting there drawing it going: "AW MAN THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME LOOKAT THAT BRAIN GOIN' EVERYWHERE!" It's an unhealthy way to run things.

And I won't even get into the fans.

For what it's worth, Tim Seely seems like he has at least a handle on how Ernie works, and he's come up with what sounds like the best Evil Ernie plot in years--which isn't saying much--and is trying to tie it into some kind of continuity. It's hardly a noble goal, but I wish him the best of luck with him, and I honestly want to see if someone can fix a character I declared irreparably and inherently flawed.

Maybe this'll get someone to finally look at my Cremator proposal. I'm telling you, it's Conan meets Sandman... in hell.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

OMAC Lives... So that MAN may live

[For an enhanced version of this article, check out Jim's Illustrated OMAC Tribute over on his site!]

I'm sure by now all of you have heard the best news ever. But for those of you who I don't shout at on a regular basis, it is simply this: NEW OMAC SERIES FROM DC THIS APRIL!

The news was broken to me by Tug, who came out of his office and interrupted my reading this evening.

"Who's a writer you like a lot?"
I looked down at the book I had in my hands, A Gentleman's Game. "Greg Rucka?"
"And who's a character you like a lot?"
"No, another one. With a mohawk."
I stared at him blankly for a few minutes, then, "No way."

It's like DC heard what I said about their fine comics and decided to make it up to me by putting out a book that only I would have asked for. Melanie says I flip out about him more than any other character, and those of you who know me know that I flip out a lot.

OMAC, as you well know by now, has a special place in my heart. To me, he's the quintessential Kirby character, incredibly over-the-top, living in a world built of insane extrapolations of trends taken to their illogical extremes, creating an oddly prescient view. The world may not look like it does in OMAC, but we DO live in a time where full-scale war is unthinkably dangerous, where people can build-a-friend for horrifying purposes, and the super-rich probably CAN rent out a city, if they don't own it outright. Hell, there's even an issue where a guy holds all the world's water for ransom, and even HE probably doesn't charge a dollar a bottle for it! It's a great thought to think that one honest man could stop it all.

He's a character that I've wanted to write from the moment I first saw him. Maybe because you could throw anything into it and it'd make sense, but mostly because he embodies the spirit of comics. He combines Captain America's origin with a story that pits him against an entire bleak future (although bleak by Kirby standards is still pretty colorful), and he's just unstoppable.

He's also the star of the most oft-recounted issue around the Dragon since Sukzushtu saw the Rainbow--OMAC #2.

The only important parts of this issue are the first two pages, and what you have to understand is that OMAC is a bad motherfucker. I mean, he's a One Man Army Corps. At one point, he even fights a hundred thousand foes. A hundred thousand. ONE ZERO ZERO COMMA ZERO ZERO ZERO. And he WINS. So when this issue opens up with OMAC standing there being told that he can't get into a city, you know that some shit is about to go down.

Quick note about the structure of OMAC: One of the reasons that OMAC works so well is that when you read the stories, you can literally see the scope of the story. Each issue opens with a full-page panel, followed up by a massive double-page spread, with a few more full-pagers to set off each chapter. It all adds up to make OMAC seem bigger than Galactus and twice as strong, something which George Perez's art in OMAC's DC Comics Presents appearance didn't quite pull off, although that issue does have one of his best lines, spoken to Superman: "They thought they were dealing with one man... They didn't realize it was a One Man Army Corps."

Anyway, back in The World That's Coming, OMAC's standing there with a bunch of army guys--trained soldiers, mind you--telling him that he can't go into the city, as its been rented out for the night. OMAC's response? "I am OMAC. No city is barred to me." Translation: "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." According to a recent issue of the Jack Kirby Collector, OMAC holds the rank of "World General" and can give anyone orders. Despite this, Army Guy decides to cop an attitude, shoves his finger into OMAC's chest, and goes "Look, buddy..."

End of page one.

Page two is fucking chaos. OMAC is just plowing through about ten guys. There's one flying away upside down, hit so hard he's going the WRONG DIRECTION. There's even one guy whose arms are the only thing you can see, clinging desperately to OMAC's foot, yelling "I CAN'T HOLD HIM!" Yeah, no kidding you can't, he's frigg'n powered by BROTHER EYE. What did you THINK you were going to do to him?

He's a great character, and I'm glad--no, ecstatic--that he's coming back, even if this means I can't bring him back in my Suicide Squad run (the non-erotic version, for those of you keeping score).

Monday, January 17, 2005

A Startling Look Into the World That Is

What is it about VH1 programming that's so frigg'n addictive? I literally cannot stop watching it, whether it's I Love The [Decade] or the top 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs, or the Hundred Greatest Metal Moments, or whatever. It's damn well fascinating. You're lucky I can see the TV from my computer chair is all I'm saying.

The Daily Schedule of updates here on the ISB makes me fear that I'm going to run out of things to say pretty quickly. Fortunately, I've got things like today's All Star Lunch to talk about.

The All-Stars in question were returning fan-favorites Chris and Tug, along with senses-shattering guest stars Scott, Matt G, Chad, Phil, and, as a special treat for the ladies, Shaka. We talked about Twin Peaks, the Prisoner, comics, and the waitress remembered how fast I drink. It was a good time, especially in light of a frustrating paycheck situation that was pretty frustrating for us. I said I was worried because the month is halfway up and I haven't lived up to my resolution of writing something once a month. Phil and Chad told me that this thing counts, but I dunno. Is it really helping me to be a better comics writer? Oh well, if it comes down to it, I've got that Top 10 List and the Shaft bit that I can count under the "Humorous Essay" portion of the resolution. Rock on!

Having Phil there for a big Dragon shindig was pretty fun. We talked a little about a conversation we'd had on Saturday. Phil wants to do a 24 Hour Comics day at the shop, and I told him I already knew what mine would be about. It'd be called "Are You Ready For KIRBY?" and feature a lot of full-page shots and double-page spreads alternated with pages chock full of crazy angle panels. It's an idea that spins out of a Comics Club meeting that Phil and I spent passing notes to each other in true Junior High fashion. The subject was a comic idea he had called the New Adventures of Jack Kirby, and after I drew a picture, he started drawing the covers for our imaginary collaboration. He'd pass them to me and I, the Stan to his Jack, would write the adjective-laden cover copy. My favorite was Kirby yelling: "WHATEVER YA DO, DON'T BUY THIS COMIC!" with incredulous cover copy referring to the story inside as "THE RAY-GUN THAT BROKE THE 4TH WALL!"

I was so bored Saturday night that I drew the first page of my comic. And yes, he's chucking a WorldBomb at the reader. It's supposed to be a fuse.

And now you know why I want to be a writer, and not an artist.

As a sidenote, Melanie finally recieved her Hellaciously Awesome Christmas Presents, incluing a sketch of John Constantine that Todd Nauck did when he stopped by the store. He's a really nice guy, and if you haven't read Willdguard, it's coming out in trade pretty soon, so do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Wow. I just found out the most interesting thing looking for a good link for JC that wasn't the movie site. You know that football player, Johnny Unitas? His full name is John Constantine Unitas. How weird is that?

You learn something every day here on the Invincible Super-Blog.

Quick Addendum

After that last post, I was talking to Tug about Rhona Mitra, and how I want her to dye her hair purple and play Psylocke in X3, and I'd be excited. Tug's response: "I would be too until I thought 'Oh shit, they put fuckin' PSYLOCKE in that movie!'"

I said that's no worse than putting in Storm, and he dropped a comment that's pretty exemplary of the Mighty Moon Knight Manner in which he speaks:

"Storm has been a fuckin' leader on the X-Men for YEARS. Psylocke was just because Claremont had a thing for girls with English accents sticking their hands up his ass... then later his fisting fetish switched to Asians... And you can put that SHIT in your blog."

Yeah, Tug's pretty awesome.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Can You Dig It?

This may come as a surprise, but my deep and abiding affection for gangsta rap is relatively new. In my post-metalhead phase, I was more into funk and soul, with some electro and 80s hip-hop thrown in for good measure. As David Carradine would say, I was all about the old school.

The reason can be traced back to what might be the most pivotal moment of my life. I was fifteen years old, and had a desire to see a particular movie, since I'd heard so much about it from other media. So one evening after I'd stayed home sick from school, my mom rented it for me. I put it in the VCR, and it changed me. It changed how I looked at things, how I interacted with people, and how I think. It was the greatest movie I'd ever seen.

That film was 1971's Shaft.

If technology had caught up with the way things are in my head, as soon as you read that sentence, Isaac Hayes' immortal theme would start. The song's actually a lot longer than most people think; the whole deal with being the black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks doesn't even come until like three minutes into it. But it's the perfect "bown-down-dadada-down, wockachicka-bown-dadada-down" soundtrack for the first time we see the guy who would become, along with Batman, my predominant male role model.

Shaft is the kind of guy who throws a man through a window in the first ten minutes of the movie, then gets mad when the cops give him shit about it. He's the kind of guy who calls up the most feared gangster in New York, and when the gangster answers his phone "Wrong number," says "I know damn well what number this is!" He is, quite simply, the coolest character ever put on film.

The script is, in places, phenomenal, and Richard Roundtree handles it better than anyone possibly could. I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that someone sent a cyborg back from the future just to make sure he got the part so that the awesome, over-the-top lines Shaft says would work. He drops gems throughout, and I could fill up an entire post just talking about the righteous dialogue. Okay, just a few:

VIC: Come on, Shaft, what is it with this black shit, huh? (He holds up a pen to Shaft's face) You ain't so black.
SHAFT: (Holds up a coffee cup) And you ain't so white, baby.

ELLIE: You got problems, baby?
SHAFT: Yeah, I got a couple of 'em. I was born black and I was born poor.

TOM: Hey, where the hell you goin', Shaft?
SHAFT: I'm goin' to get laid, where the hell you goin'?

And the hits just keep on coming. That last one defined my personal philosophy throughout my teenage years. But the best, the absolute definition of how cool Shaft is, is established in his very first lines of dialogue, spoken over the opening beats of the theme:

"Hey, baby, up yours."


Sorry. Didn't mean to lose my composure. The dialogue in this flick is just amazing, and Richard Roundtree pulls it off so well it's unbelivable. He even came back for 2000's Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson, which is in Shaft Continuity.

The fact is, Shaft is incredible, and if you haven't seen it, you're wasting your life. I heard the Cardinals make every new Pope watch it once a month for the first year just to make sure he "keeps it real."

One caveat, though. While it is and will remain the greatest movie ever made before and after you watch it, it gets pretty rough during the whole thing. It's an odd kind of balance that makes me think that the makers of Shaft knew they were creating the best thing ever built by man, and that if there weren't flaws, it would surely drive those who viewed it to madness.

I've been sitting here for a few minutes trying to think of a way to put this next sentence that won't illicit chuckles from junior high students, but there isn't one.

If you can't get enough Shaft, and trust me, you can't, try out one of the three--yes, three-- sequels: Shaft's Big Score, Diamond Shaft, and Shaft In Africa ("The Brother Man in the Motherland!"), and be sure to catch Richard Roundtree playing a badass private eye on recent episodes of Desperate Housewives! See how I tie that shit together?

Yeah, regardless of how cool Shaft is, it's still Sunday, and the Arrested Development-Desperate Housewives-Boston Legal Rock Block was in full effect, despite a lack of Roundtree anywhere in sight. Contrary to last week, I think BL took the prize tonight, although really, are law firms out there really like Crane, Poole, and Schmidt? Because everyone who works there is pretty ridiculously gorgeous, and I need to know before I pursue this writer thing any more.

The only thing that marred my Sunday Night ABC Club viewing experience was that this local news douchebag kept coming on and delivering these ridiculous promos for the 11 O'Clock newscast. Apparently temperatures in the Midlands are going to get down to the teens, and he wants us to prepare for the worst. Listen, buddy, my girlfriend lives in Winnipeg, where she's been waiting for the bus in -50. NEGATIVE. FIFTY. That's ten degrees past where Celsius and Farenheight meet. So I sincerely doubt that us finally getting appropriate weather for the season is "the worst." But then again, this is the same guy who was on my TV a few weeks ago trying to get me to stick around for a newscast about people making Jesus-scented perfume.

Up yours, baby.

Hangin' With Lorenzo, Rollin' in a Benzo

If you would've told me when I woke up this morning that we would've sold fucking Pogs today to a kid who was genuinely ecstatic to get them, not only would I have not believed you, I probably would have punched you in the face.

I have to say, today was a good day.

The first thing I noticed this morning was that somebody decided it was time to have winter again. The temperature's dropped from like 70 to 40 in the span of about 36 hours. Seriously, make up your frigg'n mind, nature.

After that, I hit Burger King with Shaka and Phil for the first of two visits of the day. Lunch with those two cats was great, we talked about comics and hip hop (which, really, is no surprise). Then we rolled back to the shop listening to my gangsta rap mix tape, rocking Nothin' But A G Thang, one of the best songs to come from the west coast. I mean, really, Compton and Long Beach together? Now you KNOW you're in trouble! That in turn got us talking about the new Snoop single, which, unfortunately, does not live up, and Phil went on a mini diatribe about it:

"I hate it. What gets me is that Snoop Dogg is thirty-something years old, and he's rapping about being a crip, and there are kids out on the street dying because of something as stupid as 'that's your side of the street and this is my side.'"

It was one of those things that really makes you stop and realize: "Wow. Phil Looney's the shit."

The second visit to the King came later on, when Scott and I rolled in for dinner (and with that use of his name, the fact that I talk about Scott more than my girlfriend in this blog has become officially creepy). Our conversation was a lot more varied, considering we had a lot more time to waste, including the customary half hour loitering in the parking lot. One of the things I brought up was this recent Internet Gem, which is worth a read even if it's not true, as I suspect. Be sure to check out pages 5 and 6 for more hip hop references!

We also talked about Judd Winnick, who proves more and more every day that he needs to be stopped. I recently read a copy of Pedro & Me we had laying around the shop. It was enjoyable. Would've been more enjoyable if I didn't feel like I'd read it six times already, but still. The big red flag came from the fact that Mia's speech about AIDS to her school in a recent Green Arrow is almost word-for-word Pedro's speech about AIDS to a school. Judd. Seriously. We get it, all right? It's a noble goal, but I truly believe you're failing at it. You do good work, sometimes. Time to move on.

But the main focus of the conversation was, of course, Quantum Leap. Scott loves that stuff, I swear, and I was partial to it when I was younger, so we were just going on and on about it. I mean, we talked about more elements of Quantum Leap than I think actually exist. We talked about God/Fate/Sam, Sammy-Jo, Project Evil Quantum Leap... this went on for literally over an hour. The people who run that Burger King are probably over on their blogs right now talking about me like I was one of those kids who was gay for Spaceknights last week. And who ever thought I'd be using THAT phrase twice?

We also talked at length about the Greatest Movie Ever Made, but I think that's probably a topic for tomorrow. All that matters tonight is on the way home, I even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp, and it read "Chris Is A Pimp."

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Warren Report: 1-14-05

Today I slept until four in the afternoon. Cold or no, that's just ridiculous. I mean, it even surprised me when I woke up and saw the clock. And I haven't even read all of this week's comics yet.

Point is, I think it's going around, since Warren's been unusually quiet this week. Only three missives from the Bad Signal, only two of which with any kind of substance. Fortunately, the last two Apparat books came out, giving us some other Warren related matieral to talk about.

The Bad Signal was about how Warren hates Mondays, which made me decide to read the next few installments of Garfield in my Warren Ellis voice to see if they were any better. They weren't. He was apparently interviewed by "an Australian woman who claimed, in the interview, thatI was on her 'famous people I'd like to fuck' list."

And people ask me why I want to write comics. Heck, I'd be happy to be on an Australian woman's "Regular People I'd Like To Fuck" list!

As for the Apparat books, they went pretty much as predicted: Two good ones (Simon Spector and Frank Ironwine), one okay (Quit City), and one pretty rough (Angel Stomp Future). Not bad for an imaginary fifth week event that came out two months apart. The stories function as well done gimmick books; there's a trick to each one, but they're generally well crafted, and in the case of Spector and Ironwine, a lot of fun.

Simon Spector featured art by Jacen Burrows, who you may remember I recently bashed in my Worst Comics of 2004 list. Now, while he's not exactly the Superstar Artist that Avatar wants him to be, Burrows does have some talent, and his art fits Simon Spector well. I was actually thinking of another Avatar mainstay, Juan Jose Ryp, whose art I can't stand (and who, coincidentally, does pencils on Angel Stomp Future). Ryp's art style is, to my eyes anyway, horrid. He tries to do ultra-detailed work like Geoff Darrow, but his panels end up looking cluttered and hard to read. It's a shame, because I've seen his raw pencils, and they're almost good. He adds in all the clutter in inking. If he'd tighten up his art and draw more cleanly, he'd only have to worry about the terrible way he draws vaginas.

And in case that's not enough Warren for you, in addition to working for Avatar, DC, and Marvel, he's also haunting Scott's dreams!

"I was back in high school, with high school age versions of everyone I know, and I had a class taught by Warren Ellis--He was the math teacher. And he had a rule that you couldn't ask questions in class that took more than one sentence to say, and if you had a longer question, you had to write it to him as a letter and put it in his mailbox. "

That's Warren for you. Always redefining the industry.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Kneel Before Me, HTML!

Eyes slideways, spud. With my incredible HTML skills, I've added a new Links section to the sidebar. And it is a testament to my geekiness how excited I was about doing it. You'd have thought I delivered the reborn Baby Jesus instead of just editing some HTML in a template.

(Hey, you know how I like to link to things a lot? Well, searching for a link for that last paragraph, I typed "Baby Jesus" into Google, and got this. WARNING: It's pretty messed up, even by my standards, but the fact that it's the very first result is absolutely hilarious. I love/hate the internet.)

Two of the links on the new sidebar are to sites I've never linked to in the ISB. The first one is Fark, which I consider to be an actual weblog, in that it's an ever-changing list of strange, amusing, or otherwise interesting links. Sadly, it's where I get most of my news.

The second is to Chad's Blue Ribbon Blog™, the official blog of First Prize Comics! I'm really glad we've got Chad on the whole blogging train, at least for the time being. He's one of my favorite people, and he's responsible for getting me a job at the shop. And brother, is he full of ideas, something I am supremely jealous of. The guy has a twelve-part Nick Fury story that's pretty fantastic just percolating in the back of his head somewhere. Me? I made a resolution to write something every month, and here we are halfway through January and I've done nothing but a blog post whining about bad comics. Chad's great, and you'll all love his comics.

Unfortunately for the readers of this humble blog, however, today was pretty boring. I'm getting over my cold, but the lethargy that comes with not being able to breathe through the nose was weighing heavily upon my brow. By the end of the day, Ben and I were reduced to playing hangman on the backs of sale flyers, and I was so desperate to have something to do that I kept adding body parts to the poor victim.

One event of note, though. Early on in the day, about 11:15 or so, these two men (that'll be important later) came into the store. They were from a new tax service and offered us discounted, well, tax services. They even gave us a complimentary box of Krispy Kreme donuts and a stack of coupons to give to our customers. Now, these are accountants who are trying to get us to trust them with our money. So what do they decide to go with? Costumes. One, who didn't talk at all, was dressed as Uncle Sam, with a floppy cloth top hat and a beige plad polo shirt that completely ran counter to the look I assume he was going for. The other guy, the one who did all the talking, was dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Green velvet toga, foam crown, box of donuts, the whole nine yards.

At lunch, Ben and I thought about their plan and decided they should come by every day. I wanted them to just be in random-ass costumes, you know, "For all your tax needs, the Pirate and the French Maid" or "April 15 is just around the corner--trust Monkey and Spider-Man to get you a refund!" But Ben wanted them to stick with a theme and just do different mascots every day ("The Proletariat and the Bear have the best accounting services west of Stalingrad!")

Still, they gave us donuts, which was awesome. They can wear whatever they want, as long as they're handing me Krispy Kreme while they wear it.

Another thing that broke the tedium was a new game that I bought, Gloom. It was designed by Keith Baker (creator of the sweet Eberron D&D campaign setting) and features an innovative system. It's a card game where you take control of a family and attempt to give them the most horrible lives you can until you finally kill them off, adding up Pathos Points to determine the winner at the end. You can even play happy events on your opponent's cards to better his characters' lives! The game itself uses transparent, plastic cards stacked upon each other so that the modifiers from different cards can come through or be overlapped by new ones. It's a novel system that's been applied to a fun Series Of Unfortunate Events type of style for an amusing game experience that encourages you to tell a story and explain the mishaps that befall your characters. It's really neat, and it's published by Atlas Games, the same people who re-released Dungeoneer. It retails for about 20 bucks, and after playing several games with Tug today, I can reccomend it.

So that's all for today. Tune in tomorrow for this week's edition of the Warren Report, where I actually admit that I made a mistake! And could Scott make another appearance?! Be here in 24!

And as a completely random sidenote, I love getting comments on my blog. It gives the illusion of a wider readership, and I'm pleased as punch that for the past week, everything I've written has got a reaction out of someone (except the picture of Ming, which you were all probably cowering in fear of). Thanks for taking the time, and as Brandon would say, Holla Back!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

What Is This Creature That Walks Like A Man?!

To quote Warren Ellis, "It's me, you bastards." So it's been a week now since I started this whole blog thing, which means it's about time for me to quickly lose interest and go back to wasting my time playing video games where rappers beat the hell out of each other.

So I'm not going to write anything today, since I've got a cold and I'm still exhausted from the font of hatred I created with my last two updates. In lieu of that, I'm going to post a dream Scott had, which is far more interesting than the one I had about Judd Winnick being a member of the Illuminati and sending a legion of secret troops after me for bashing him on the internet. Here's Scott's dream, in his own words.

"I was at the Dragon with Mark Alessi and Chad, and Chad was telling Alessi that he wouldn't be able to pay off his debtors. So I got mad and yelled at Alessi, 'Now nobody will ever invest in comic books again!' And then this guy walked over and said, 'I think we can do something about that,' and even though he didn't look like him at all, I knew it was Jack Kirby. So Kirby passes gas, and then all the sudden he's got a little orange sticker on his finger. Then he pulls out a pen and writes a lot on the little sticker, and hands it to Alessi, saying, 'There, put THAT on your comics and the kids'll buy 'em!' So Alessi looks down at the sticker and says, 'Wait, I can't read this.' And Jack looks at him and says: 'I don't have to write big. I write neat."

Scott dreams are awesome.

So there's what passes for today's update. I'm going to go drink a glass of orange juice and watch the Prisoner.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Losers, Part 1

NOTE: This is a long one. Grab a beverage.

By popular demand of two whole people, I'm going to go ahead and do a list of the Ten Worst Comics of 2004. Ironically enough, The Losers is not on that list. It's a highly entertaining military-caper book that is always cleverly written, and you should be reading it. So before we get to the list, a couple things.

First, I'd like to clear up a misconception. You might think that with all the complaining I do about them, I don't like mainstream comics. That couldn't be further from the truth. I love mainstream comics. Love 'em! And unless your name is Scott Simmons, I probably love 'em more than you. In fact, there's not a one of us that works at the Dragon that doesn't love mainstream comics, if by mainstream you mean the ones published by the Big Two. Now that's not to say that we don't also love indies, because we do. I love superheroes, as I'm sure anyone in the Columbia Comic Book Club can attest. Someday, Phil will be sitting around and his grandchildren will walk up and go: "Grandpa... Do you remember where you were when Chris Sims flipped out about Wonder Woman?" I love comics, plain and simple.

I just don't like them when they're terrible. Which, unfortunately, a lot of them are. And when you love the medium so much, when you care about what comics are and what they can do, and how they can change the way you think, the bad ones hurt, and make you want to hurt back by belittling the hard work of a lot of assuredly nice folks. One of the things that most of these comics have in common (with the two obvious exceptions you'll see) is that they were all made by people whose work I used to really enjoy. So in addition to being disappointed, I feel betrayed. Also, and this is no shock to anyone, I think about comics a lot, and minor continuity issues bug me. Maybe it's nitpicking, but with a tiny, tiny amount of extra work on the writers' and editors' part, continuity issues could be easily cleared up. Otherwise, you're just getting shit wrong.

I also realize, that in doing this, I'm almost assuring the following scenario sometime down the line:
SIMS: So, I heard you were interested in my work?
QUESADA: Yes, yes, come in. Good scripts. A little rough around the edges, but nothing that can't be fixed with some very hard work. I think you'd be a great asset here at Marvel!
SIMS: R-really?
QUESADA: Oh, most definitely. Of course, that's what I thought before I did some research on the internet and found that in early 2005, you referred to my editorial style as a cross between an "infected monkey and a retarded child."
SIMS: Oh.. well, about that, it was all in good fun--
QUESADA: BENDISNINJAS! SEIZE HIM! Now, my fine fellow, we shall see how your screams sound when echoed through the House of Ideas!

Yeah, I'm not sure why Joe Quesada talks like a cross between Mr. Potter and Ming the Merciless in my fantasies either. Needless to say, this is all written in good fun. Please let me write comics.

It'll go as follows. Today I'll do numbers 10-7, the Frightful Four. Tomorrow, it'll be the rest, on down to the Worst Comic of 2004. The Sinister Six, if you will. I tried to keep it to one issue per comic, or else this would just be nine issues of Superman/Batman and Avengers 503. Also, this is by no means a definitive list. Even I can't read EVERYTHING, and I probably read stuff a lot worse than what I'm about to talk about. This is just the stuff that stuck with me.

And don't worry, just like my erotic fan fiction, this list will strive to be scientifically accurate. To determine which comics were truly the worst, I held them against the Gold Standard of Awful, Jim Balent's Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, a comic that pretty much revels in its vileness. If you ever find yourself with too much to live for, read an issue or two. It goes out of its way to be bad, and, needless to say, I love it. For it to make this list, it had to be worse than Tarot.

One more thing. This is my list. You will probably disagree with it. You are wrong, and probably an idiot. Regardless, I have no intention whatsoever of changing my mind. Oh, and there are spoilers contained. You've been warned.

On with the show!

10. JLA Secret Files 2004 - The only reason this isn't further down the list is because of the great Kurt Busiek/Ron Garney story and the profile page on the Ultramarines, and the Justice League Elite story was bad enough to drag it down this far. I'm also using this as a stand-in for the undeniably wretched JLE series, which I haven't read all the way through, thus disqualifying it. Joe Kelly wants to be Warren Ellis so bad I can taste it, and he's turned a good story about Superman's place in a market dominated by antiheroes into a godawful Authority ripoff minus the talent, charm, and artistry of that book. Bonus points for including noted senile has-been John Byrne drawing with his customary sharpie, a ludicrous plot, and a scene where the Flash, pining over his wife leaving him over in his own, much better, book, makes out with Vera Black.

9. Identity Crisis #7 - Okay, explain to me one more time what Jean Loring's motivation for killing Sue Dibny was? Oh, she wanted to get back with Ray. Well, that makes perfect sense. Hey, maybe she should've thought of that before she filed for divorce. Or maybe, considering how eager he was to jump back into bed with her (great, nipple-filled Rags Morales art notwithstanding), maybe she could've just GIVEN HIM A GODDAMN CALL AND ASKED HIM TO DINNER. "I never meant to kill her!" Yeah, that certainly explains the FLAMETHROWER you brought. That's a real nonlethal weapon there, sweetheart. Nevermind that she shouldn't have been able to use Ray's belt, or take the flamethrower with her, since it would begin to explode almost immediately, OR that she shouldn't know who Tim Drake is, it's just poorly written. It gets #9 because there's so much I actually liked about Identity Crisis outside the main plot.

8. Identity Disc #1 - The ongoing battle between Marvel and DC often leads to strange imitations. DC puts out the Witching, Marvel puts out the Witches the same week. DC puts Geoff Johns on four books so he can clean up old continuity, Marvel puts Bendis on six so he can ignore and ruin what little continuity they have left. DC releases a huge event comic called Identity Crisis, Marvel craps out this turd. Featuring a plot cribbed directly from The Usual Suspects (according to Tug, who is knowledgeable in such matters) and godawful Mike Deodato covers (Deodato is an enigma to me, his interiors are worlds better than his covers), this Rob Rodi joint features six villains that Bendis wasn't planning to inexplicably bring back from the dead that week getting a disc chock full o' superhero secret IDs for the mysterious Tristam Silver. Yeah, I'm sure S.H.I.E.L.D.* just keeps all that information laying around on a CD-R. I've said it before, Rob Rodi is a hit or miss writer, and he missed bigtime with this one.

7. SIX-WAY TIE! Brian Pulido's Lady Death, Brian Pulido's War Angel, Brian Pulido's Killer Gnomes, Brian Pulido's Gypsy, Brian Pulido's Unholy, Brian Pulido's Belladonna- I don't care if he HAS paid his dues, Pulido sucks, has sucked, and will continue to suck for the forseeable future. Conjugate "to suck" however you like, I guarantee he's done it. For reasons too complicated to get into, last summer I read every Evil Ernie comic we had in chronological order, and I still hold a grudge. For some reason (probably the same one that makes them think Jacen Burrows is a superstar artist and publishing Jungle Fantasy was a good idea), Avatar decided to plague humanity with more gems spilling from Brian's pen. Do not, under any circumstances, read them.

So that's the Frightful Four (well, nine, really). See why I broke it up into a two-parter? Tune in tomorrow when I get down to the REAL bad stuff.

*-The Strategic Hazard Intervention and Espionage Logistics Directorate! --Quizmaster Chris!

Ming the Merciless, Emperor of Mongo! Posted by Hello

Sunday, January 09, 2005


It occurs to me that on my days off, I don't do a damn thing. Take today for instance. I woke up quick, at about noon, rolled out of bed, didn't shower, didn't shave. It's pretty ridiculous.

Woke up with a sore throat today, anyway. It's been feeling pretty rough since New Year's and my first shot of
Jack Daniels, but spending all that time in a smoke filled bar last night really aggravated it. Speaking of, I forgot to mention it last night, but Hot Lava Monster played in a room that had a giant spider made of tinfoil attatched to the ceiling. It was very cool, and when I say "giant," I mean the body of this thing was like six feet long, and the legs were huge. And also made of shiny tinfoil. Matt didn't notice it.

Mom and I watched the first couple episodes of
Monk today. I got her season 1 for Christmas, and it's awesome. To read this thing, it's pretty obvious that I'm a fan of the private eye genre, and I can give Tony Shalhoub a righteous thumbs-up for his performance. It's great, and I encourage you to watch it. But more on good TV later.

First, some quick post responses. First, Jim, I think you're a little confused. I don't know if you saw my response to your post, but I think you're thinking of Brian Michael Bendis, writer of Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Powers, and a bunch of other books that used to be good, with my man Warren E. Second, I found out who that J. Kern fellow who posted a
hilarious response to my erotic fan-fiction bit was. Turns out he's an old friend under a new name. Do yourself a favor and check out his Dollar Movie Reviews over on InsidePulse.

So after I got to the bottom of THAT mystery, it was time for the greatest block of TV ever created: The
Desperate Housewives/Boston Legal Double-Shot. If Fox hadn't been showing the season premier of 24, we could've added Arrested Development at 8:30 and gotten the Trifecta. If you're not watching Desperate Housewives, man... What are you doing with your life? It's awesome. It's got the hottest woman on television on it, for cryin' out loud! And what's more, it made Teri Hatcher hot again! I'm not going to lie, in that post-Lois phase where she was doing Radio Shack commercials, she was pretty rough. But now she's back, dating Mike the Plumber, and WHO KNOWS what he's into! He's got a gun and a stack of cash hidden away in his house! And now he's being framed for Martha Huber's murder, and--

Sorry. Just... Just watch it, okay? It's really good.

Boston Legal has
the Shatner. And the Spader. Nothing more need be said.

These two shows have given rise to Scott and I rapid-firing emails to each other while they're on in a little thing we like to call Sunday Night ABC Club. And brother, it's a good club to be in.

Also, I was thinking about future updates, and I was considering doing a Worst Comics of 2004 bottom-ten list. But then I figured that my chances of getting work at DC and Marvel are already fragile enough as it is... Any thoughts?

Get It Right

So today at about six, this passel (and I believe that is the correct term) of high school kids come into the store, and immediately start to flip out for about a half hour. Now I realize that it's a cool shop, and I'm glad you're pleased with our merchandise, but really. Don't lose your shit. Don't run around with a d20 rolling against your friend to see who gets to hypothetically purchase the Evangelion merchandise. Don't drop posters out of the poster rack, and then when someone explains that they'll be happy to help you with them, say "I'm cool." You're not. Just chill out. The way these kids were acting, you'd think they were gay for Spaceknights.

After work, I went down to the Art Bar to catch the Led Zeppelin tribute by Hot Lava Monster with Tug and Matt. For the first hour and a half, I had as much fun as you can at a bar while not drinking and waiting for a band to get started, which is to say, not much. But once they got going, they rocked out pretty hard. The lead singer had the rock moves down pat. Very entertaining.

I did see something that caused me a great deal of distress, however, and I want to address it here: Improper Use of the Metal Sign. It's got to be stopped.

For real, kids, Ronnie James Dio didn't bust his ass writing hott lixx and consorting with demons so you ingrates could get it all wrong. Index, pinky, and thumb out is not metal. It is used in American Sign Language to say "I love you," or, in some rare cases, to tap into the boundless mystical powers of the Vishanti. The proper Metal Sign, index and pinky out, thumb curled around middle and ring fingers, demonstrated here by Melanie's secret lover Bam Margera, is slightly different, but those differences are important nonetheless.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.