Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

(And a solemn 'Uh...sorry?' to our Wampanoag brothers and sisters.)

See you Monday!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This Week's Best Comics Links
(a.k.a. your last bit of joy before fighting with your effed-up family)

The Yaoi Review hands the reigns over to its straight-girls-who-love-gay-guys readers, asking them to suggest the best and worst books for all-ages, y-curious readers.

The 1975 manga version of Jaws is nuts. For two sick samples, click here and here. Then up the ante and click here to check out Junji Ito's absolutely insane when-fish-attack manga, Gyo.

The Comics Reporter recently ran a looong list of his picks for The Best Superhero Comics of the 00s. Then, cuz everyone's got an opinion, he went and ran a second list of his readers' picks.

You'd better make this link last, cuz it's the last one til Monday: David Welsh folds his hands, bows his head, and shares the manga-related developments for which he's thankful. Can he get an amen?

Cuz he's an author and a chef and tomorrow's Thanksgiving...

Anthony Bourdain on Authors@Google

Book News, In Brief

Daryl Cagle must be as unhealthily obsessed with Sarah Palin as I am. Why else would he have compiled 30 Editorial Cartoons Lampooning Palin's Book Tour?

Eff Thanksgiving. We're celebrating our enemy's apparent demise: Borders' UK website has stopped taking customer orders, and their staff has been told that they are no longer allowed to place customer orders. For more details (and dirt), click here.

A copy of Through the Looking Glass once owned by the 'Alice' who inspired Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland will be sold at an auction next month. If you've got enough free time to read these links, you're not working a in field that pays you enough to bid.

Samuel Webster is right when he says that "Young Adult Fiction is one of the few genres with a psychologically pervasive and accepted sociological function," which is why I love that his article, The Ideology and Irony of Adolescent Fiction, takes the fawned-over field to task.

American Media Inc., critically acclaimed publisher of The National Enquirer and Star, has struck a deal with Playboy Enterprises to manage major parts of its flailing flagship title. What does this mean for you and I and the rest of those enlightened individuals who enjoy Playboy's thought-provoking interviews and airbrushed anuses? The photos will be sleazier, the prose will plummet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Go, Look: Wally Wood Warps LOTR

Go, look!

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

Ray Bradbury offers a bit of advice to flailing writers: Flail more.

Masturbate to this: Rants & Ramblings' How Book Royalties Work.

I'm not sure how scientific this list is, but it feels fairly feasible. Wordplay's Top 7 Reasons Readers Stop Reading. (Via.)

Doyce Testerman offers a helping hand to NaNoWriMo writers looking to pad out their anorexic opuses: The Rule of Three! (Via.)

Thanks to technology, learning to write no longer requires reading! A free recording of the 'teleclass' Breaking Into Food Writing is available here. (Via.)

A Distant Soil creator Collen Doran has compiled the links to all of her hard-won lessons about self-publishing and webcomics onto one easy-to-navigate table of contents. If you're considering a life in either, you'll wanna bookmark these.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Recommended Viewing: Going West

Trashing a book to tell a story. It doesn't sound like it would work, but the results speak for themselves.
(Via: Cartoon Brew)

Comic Book Review:
Cable & Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza, et al.

Writer Fabian Nicieza's Cable & Deadpool is a 50 issue 'buddy-movie' starring the Marvel Universe's equivalents of Jesus Christ and Bugs Bunny. It promised loose laughs and even looser sci-fi concepts, yet somehow managed to morph into an affecting ode to fractured friendships and surrogate families.

The plot -- as it was initially pitched -- was simple. Well, sorta. Fast-talking killer-for-hire Deadpool (a.k.a. 'the merc with the mouth') is paired up with time-traveling, soldier from the future, Cable (a.k.a. the son of the X-Men's Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey). Deadpool wants money. Cable wants to provide the preventative measures required to stop Earth from becoming a war-torn wasteland. You know, your basic run-of-the-mill comedy of opposites with minor Messianic undertones.

Story lines run the gamut, going from blue-skinned cults to hard boiled detective stories to the at-least-it's-dealt-with-quickly Civil War crossover, all while supporting an over-arching plot line partially lifted from the end of Alan Moore's/beginning of Neil Gaiman's run on Miracleman: Cable's creation of island utopia via his many mutant abilities. This is the 'real' story here, the one that you'll find blurbed on the back of the trade paperbacks and in the lead paragraph of the title's Wikipedia entry. And for good reason -- it's good! Nicieza intelligently explores the pros and cons of living under the gentle fist of an all-powerful peacekeeper, all the while using Deadpool's batsh*t crazy blood-lust (and Bea Arthur-inspired loin-lust) as the fail-safe for keeping things unpretentious and unpredictable.

Up to issue 42, I was really enjoying the series. The action was exciting, the dialogue irreverent, and the art (almost always) enjoyable. But as a perpetual pruner of my comics collection, I had no intention of holding onto these books when I was done. 'Out with the old, in with expensive, hardcover, classic comics re-prints,' as they say. It's not that there was anything particularly wrong with the series, it's just that, up til that point, there was nothing especially right. Wait, let me re-phrase that. There was a lot 'right.' The jokes alone were worth the price of admission. It's just that nothing had hit me in such a way that I thought, 'You know, I could come back to these books year after year and always find myself emotionally engaged in more ways than giggles.' As corny as it sounds, I want the art I keep around me to be the art that adds to me, that betters me, that reminds me of ideas, ideals and philosophies that I'm prone to lose sight of during my day-to-day living. And up to issue 42, Cable & Deadpool had yet to offer anything in the way of this awkwardly worded request.

Or so I thought.

Here's where I've gotta offer up one of those annoying, all-caps SPOILER ALERT!s. I mean, if you scan the titles of the trade paperbacks, this spoilerific plot point is actually a title-changing event, but some folks are sensitive to this sort of thing. You want a hint? The book goes from being called Cable & Deadpool to Deadpool vs. The Marvel Universe. Did you see what just happened there? SPOILER ALERT! (again!) Cable died. Yes, on the next-to-the-last page of issue 42, Cable sacrifices himself while his Nantucket-like nirvana explodes in a fiery, Photoshop-assisted explosion. From that point on, for the last eight issues of the series, Deadpool is bounced from one guest star to another in a style reminiscent of Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. In most corporate comics, this is usually the 'jump the shark' moment, the first glimpse of the shadow of death for any teetering title. Yet somehow (no, not "somehow" -- because of the authorial ingenuity of Fabian Niciez!) it's this extended dying breath of the soon-to-be-canceled comic where things really come together. Having lost the only character in the Marvel Universe who truly believes in him, Deadpool begins to begrudgingly surround himself with a new cast of surrogate sidekicks. They're a motley band of has-beens (Sandi, Outlaw, Agent X) and never-weres (the brilliantly conceived Bob, Agent of Hydra) who, as the last few issues unfold, become a sort of 'workplace family' for our fast-talking antihero. It's this last bit of character building that adds an unexpected gravitas to the series as whole. All of the wacky adventures, pseudo-science, and Christ-like posturing was fun while it lasted, but it's Cable and Deadpool's platonic partnership that now resonates most with the reader. After all, it's only because of the unconditional love and devotion that Cable had shown the oft-undeserving Deadpool that Deadpool is now able to open himself up similarly to others. (Well, he might've been open to a little sumthin'-sumthin' with the aforementioned Bea Arthur, but that was about it.) This is an obvious insight, I know, but it's also one that is nice to have reiterated from time to time. It's especially nice when it's done using a clinically insane comic book character who breaks the fourth wall while wearing boxer shorts emblazoned with his own iconic emblem.

At least, it was for me. And will be again. Cuz I'm hanging on to these.

Book News, In Brief

Nice Girls Do author Sarah Duncan says 'Enough with the Bad Sex Awards -- where's the squishy, squashy, interlocking Good Sex Trophies?!'

Local guy makes good. Providence poet Keith Waldrop won a National Book Award for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy. To hear the bearded bard read some of his work, click here.

What happens when your thinly-veiled memoir makes headlines for being a, well, thinly veiled memoir? The Australian explores the inevitable emotional outfall.

A Latino-centric poetry series at East Harlem's El Museo del Barrio is causing a bit of controversy over its title: Spic Up/Speak Out. The naysayers label it "a complete lack of consciousness," while the yea-sayers say, "You do not want to fall into this dogma where all Puerto Rican or Latino writers have to be serious. [...] This can be a moment of reflection."

Every bookseller I've talked to has a secret bookstore backup plan. You know, for when Amazon puts the shop you're currently working at out of business, this is the place you plan to apply to next. For me, it's always been a 50/50 toss-up between Los Feliz' Skylight Books and Boston's Comicopia. But this article in The Morning Call has me contemplating a third option, this one a PA bookstore that serves as a fully-functional front for a South Bethlehem speakeasy!