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Showing posts from 2009

Proposed endings

...for comicbook villains. After all, who deserves it more?

-Doc Oc, in a retirement home, drives those around him nuts. Inevitably, he regains his tentacles, and breaks a hip. Convalescing, he continues to annoy those around him.

-The Joker, declaring, "It's just not worth it, anymore," goes straight (but remains unhinged) and realizes his dream of being in showbiz, as a radio DJ and late-night host. Batman doesn't believe it, and wastes an hour every night watching Joker's show, refusing to admit he likes it.

-Bullseye careens into a self destructive pattern that finally does him in. Everyone he's ever worked for or against tries in some way or another to talk him out of it, to no avail. Deadpool offers to make it quick and kill Bullseye himself, but is turned down. The man who can turn anything into a weapon is eventually slain by some no name punk in a foreign country, where no one knows him.

-Luthor, dying an inadvertent death, has his life flash before…

Longer comics series

Some recommendations for those interested in something longer lasting than a graphic novel:

Usagi Yojimbo - a heartfelt exploration of a society long gone by a masterful Japanese cartoonist, Stan Sakai, who has spent almost his whole life in Hawaii; deceptively simple and cartoonish on first glance, the art and storytelling share a strong sense of economy rare to comics; Sakai is an award winning letter, and his inking is some of the best in the business; 22 volumes and counting

Vagabond - perhaps the best comic being published anywhere today, this manga follows the lives of Miyamoto Mushashi, wandering swordsman, and his contemporaries (with a particular interest in two of his childhood friends); the art effortlessly slips between bold brush strokes to light line work, or watercolours to black and white; the layouts and transitions from panel to panel are excellent; the fight scenes progress logically and show a surprisingly realistic understanding of both the mental and physical sides…


I have now read three novels and one collection of essays by Michael Chabon, and a series of comics based around his character, the Escapist, created within the pages of The Amazing Adventures Kavalier and Clay. All were satisfying in their own way, and I admit I couldn't put down the aforementioned award winning book, but none were quite so compelling as The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

The later it gets, the more typos I make.

Not happy about the prospect of getting up early (especially with it being 3am) tomorrow to help my dad's church celebrate the politically chosen day of an ancient rabbi's birth.  Why couldn't the Catholics have decided to do this sometime when I wouldn't freeze my balls off waiting for the bus?

These is me, 9 years ago or more.

I have more of a beard, now.
But less hair.

Remakes, sequels, and originality in Hollywood

Many people decry Hollywood for its lack of originality, what with all the sequels, rehashed plots, adaptations, and remakes. I understand this critique. I feel its draw. But, when I think about it, I'm not against those things. Riffing on a theme is the basis for a lot of great art, including some movies. If we couldn't appreciate taking the same pieces through different moves (or different pieces through the same moves), we'd never retell our own stories, never play the same boardgame twice, and hate all music not based on random note choices.

I'd like to say I am simply against bad movies, but this is not entirely true. I can have fun with bad movies. Hell, I've seen They Live and Class of 1999 at least a dozen times each; Blade 2 is one of my favourite films; and while I didn't like Mission Impossible 2, I did like making fun of it.

What's more, even less than enjoyable material can offer us something, when it points to better works. I never would have…

Mark Millar brings loser chic to superheroes.

By using superheroes in titles like Wanted and Kick Ass, Millar has brought the navel gazing and Gen-X-style angst of self indulgent, pity-party indie comics to what may loosely be termed a mainstream audience. This would be pathetic enough by itself, but it gets worse.

Part of his popularity is based on dismantling the superhero (or supervillain, as the case may be) as fantasy fulfilment. Nevermind that this work was done with far more aplomb (and even subtlety) well over twenty years ago by the likes of Alan Moore, Frank Miller, John Ostrander, Mike Grell, Steve Ditko, and Howard Chaykin. Millar's protagonists exist in a hyperrealistic world where they remain scrawny cry-babies at heart, no matter how good they have it. This isn't deconstruction, it's embracing all that is wrong with nerd culture. Aggrandizing petty suffering and self doubt to such heroic heights as to make martyrs of geeks everywhere reinforces the need for fantasy fulfilment. Playing into and then gle…

Tim Hensley and David Heatley are hacks.

I am tired of seeing their work in alternative comics anthologies like Mome and Best American Comics. If those guys are turning out some of the better indie and small press cartooning, then the industry is in a sorry state, but that's still no excuse for printing such tripe.

A page from Hensley's Wally Gropius story, where he exhibits a complete inability to draw, and a dry, unearned sense of overburdened irony:
Heatley's illustrations suck, even when he's not writing:

And in its more or less original format:

Sans colour artificial. Much closer to how it would have looked when I drew it in 2003 with some crappy cartridge loaded ink-brush.

Being the result of spilt ink.

Everything after that first punch is probably superfluous, but who said you had to be kind in a fight?

I am large. I contain multitudes.

An anti-Kantian strip (from 2003) in direct opposition to a previous post. I have more respect for Kant's epistemological work nowadays, but still feel roughly the same about his ethics. Boo, Kantian ethics!

Features the infamous Bottle of Injury and that familiar trope of the artist as God.

A vision of the east-side

Being the greater Seattle area's east-side, home of Microsoft, Nintendo, and so on. Quick, unfinished ink sketch from memory of the odd sort of office buildings you see over that way.

Variations on a signature, with notes.

The back of a page from a sketchbook, with minimal editing, featuring a silly attempt at developing a personalized hanko, eventually resulting in an abstract of a hamster in a wheel, as seen at the bottom left, a few odd sketches, and this rather long sentence fragment.

Note that, in that link which sort of explains what a hanko is, you can save one cent by purchasing a square stamp, rather than a round one.

I love editorial picture choices in journalism.

NYT headline: Poll Finds Paterson Deeply Unpopular

You should click on the photo to get a full sense of the composition. It really makes the man look lonely.

This is not a rhetorical question:

The rationale for having people deal with graphic depictions of Nazi internment camps and all that is not usually just that it is a fact of history, and people should acquaint themselves with it, nor that it tells us something important about the human condition, but that we must know about it so we can stop its like from ever happening again. So, I wonder, have efforts to educate people about the Holocaust actually done anything to stop other acts of genocide or mass murder?

In skimming Sam Beckett's wiki entry...

I came across the odd statement, "Though many of the themes are similar, Beckett had little affinity for existentialism as a whole." Right. Name me an existentialist for whom that isn't true.

How many grains of salt must one have before one is prepared to read an encyclopedia?

In which Tavis explains why he should not have read The Walking Dead.

Call it a compulsion. There was a time when I would have read any and every comic I could get my hands on. I've gotten better, and far pickier. Nevertheless, after coming across a cache of the much hyped Walking Dead books, I thought I'd give them a chance, despite the art, writing, and layouts all seeming boring. About four issues in, I began to wonder why I was doing this to myself. Eventually, it felt like punishment for some unnamed misdeed.

Thirty-seven(!) issues in, I believe I can say The Walking Dead showcases the reasons there has been so little interest in comicbooks (as opposed to comic strips) in the American public. The series offers up everything that is wrong with so-called mainstream comics--the real mainstream being either the aforementioned strips, or else manga, both of which are more popular and widely read than adventure books published by Marvel, DC, Image, or so forth. I suppose this also explains its appeal to many comics readers, many of whom seem to …

Unfinished business

And I don't expect to be paid for a job I never completed. Or any other, when it comes to art. >_>

Other notes:
-Drawn somewhere around 2004/2005.
-I like blue.

As Digital Underground said:

Do whatcha like.

--This might be from 2004.--

A public service announcement.

'Leary' and 'wary' are synonyms. This does not mean you should combine them. 'Weary' means 'tired'. It should not be used in place of 'leary' or 'wary'. Stop raping your own language. It isn't pretty.


A classic game, but not really what I was expecting from the title, to be honest. This remains a mild disappointment, all these years later.

Mining my somewhat surreal past.

Circa 2005: 10 panels, 3 moods, 1 piece. A little worse off for being bent while copied. The result of using a cheap scanner. Alas, my misspent dollars.

Smoke gets in your eyes.

Drawn at a small concert some months ago, coloured on my computer a few days ago, this is a (belated) dirge for indoor, public smoking in Seattle. The show's venue was an indoor courtyard in what felt like a cross between a public theatre and somebody's house which just happened to be tucked between two bars and a couple doors down from a tattoo parlour. The club had no sign, no bar, and allowed customers to bring their own booze to the party. Smoking was also allowed inside. Scandalous, I know.

Pointless Man fears compromise.

Conceived and drawn on a bus, my only two panel comic ever.

3 Guys, 1 Gun: Season Finale

Maybe people would be more interested in following through with their moral convictions if those beliefs were themselves more stylish. Adding colour just makes sense, damn it.

3 Guys, 1 Gun: This is the Plan.

You don't know what it's like. You don't have a clue. If you did, you'd find yourself doing the same thing too. Planning to break the law! Planning to break the law!

But does the reader ascribe this intent as intentional to the characters at hand? Perhaps they are innocent of societal or legal mores? Again, many comics operate on this assumption. Just how stupid (or grossly ignorant) are these guys supposed to be?

'3 Guys, 1 Gun', part the second. Or is it parts three and four?

This series functions as both an implicit critique of and an explicit attempt at the traditional three panel comic strip. There is a similar ambivalence here towards violence and guns. Some people are confused by this, though I don't consider it very subtle.

What was I doing four years ago?

Game testing for Nintendo (a 12 hour commitment for an 8 hour day, between lunch and the commute by bus) feeling very tired, and drawing this comic in between. Took me all of one walk to conceptualize the four pages I've drawn in this series, but I just now managed to get them to look close to decent in a digital format. No one ever accused me of knowing my way around Photoshop. Anyway, I'll post them up over the next few days, and, who knows, maybe I'll try my hand at finishing up the series.

Sorting comics is hard.

Given that there are often at least two people with authorship over a comic, and that these comics sometimes star franchise characters, it becomes hard to sort comics in a meaningful way. Going alphabetical-by-title will split up the works of authors, and often break up series. Alphabetical-by-author splits franchises and (sometimes) series, as well as leaving one to decide whether to sort by writer or artist. Switching between styles leaves a bookshelf with no logic, which can even confuse the person who placed the tomes there, and almost defeats the purpose of sorting in the first place.

Like the earlier Beck problem, there is no easy solution to this petty issue, which arises from something I enjoy, albeit indirectly.

A Forest view

I'd like to thank Frank Miller for lending me this scarf.

This, by the way, is from a really bad scan.

I am so, so very ambivalent about Beck.

Nevermind his stage name messing with my attempts to talk about Jeff Beck from time to time. I can live with that. But I cannot stand Guero or 'Loser', and can only tolerate Odelay due to distance of time. On the other hand, I like Modern Guilt, and think Midnight Vultures, Sea Change, and Mutations are brilliant.

Beck is, therefore, one of my favourite and least favourite musicians. He presents a problem when filling out lists for sites like this or Facebook. Should I just list his albums I dig? And if I do that, should I do so for other artists? I know I'm overthinking this, but there is no way to happily solve this matter, as far as I'm concerned.

That was a fatal combination.

Villains! This is what happens when you watch too much Fist of the Northstar!

Will G. W. Bush era culture make sense to people years from now?

Listening to Sage Francis's 2005 album, A Healthy Distrust. The opening track, 'The Buzz Kill', is, among other things, about an American denial of supposedly quintessential American values via our rhetorical offensive on the French. 'Freedom fries' are referenced, but never mentioned. These are juxtaposed with '50s-sounding clips about 'the Sage', a supercomputer protecting America from the nuclear threat of the Soviet empire.

This is (sadly) complex enough to render its meaning obtuse to many. But how will future generations of those smart enough to unravel the song interpret it? If America gets the break it so clearly desires from the general feel or effects of the Bush era (perhaps as was afforded those of my generation with the fall of the USSR and its walls), how will a girl who's ten now understand Sage's lyrics when she's twenty and getting into hip-hop?

Back, then, to the titular question. Those of us who were paying attention at the…

The human race is awesome.

Some will counter by calling humanity a cancer upon this earth. Fie. Nature, for all its beauty is not ethically pretty. Life feeds on life. The world-without-man is no guide for moral living. It is, by and large, amoral.

The awesome power of humanity is only further evinced by its impact upon the globe. Consider its scientific feats, its aesthetic achievements, its incredible willingness to crash in upon itself through war and economic strife. Humanity's arm is as God's. It's voice thunders across the globe. It is decked in majesty and excellency, arrayed with glory and beauty. It casts abroad the rage of its wrath. It looks upon every proud beast, and debases him, bringing him low, and hiding him in the dust; binding his face in secret. Even the Christian God would confess man is capable of bringing about his own salvation.

--Further rambling which may readily be ignored:--
But, while the human race is amazing, most humans are less impressive. Most humans kind of suck. So, …

If actions in war can be just or unjust, might some Hamas actions be justified?

Let us assume for a moment there are some rules which should typically be followed in war, and that these rules are generally agreed to have legal and/or moral force. For those who think rules, laws, and ethics do not or cannot apply to war, that war is too barbaric or too disorderly to allow for rules, or that a sort of cruel pragmatism which places victory as the sole and ultimate value attains during times of war, I ask that you pretend to deal within other people's views and follow this post's assumptions for its duration.

So there are rules. As rules, they probably have exceptions. Let us say, "Killing civilians tends to be wrong," is among these rules. People have argued over whether going after those who indirectly supply the war effort is just or justifiable, in talking about allied bombing raids of civilians during WWII. As a result of the Gazan conflict, there has been some debate on whether it is wrong to kill civilians being treated by one side as human sh…