Saturday, July 26, 2008

WIRED covers the chaos of Comic-Con '08

Read the article HERE.

More Alan Moore

This is a great recent piece on Alan Moore (mostly in his own words). Obviously it would be nice to hear him talk about his works in-depth instead of the pithy encapsulations that these short videos require of him, but he's still quite the showman. Also...LSD? Why does it seem so obvious and yet still surprising.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Paul Pope Interview-- "life is chaos"

I've only skimmed it so far but a rather typically worshipful but nonetheless entertaining new interview with Paul Pope is online HERE

The interview is by the guy who founded toy manufacturer Kidrobot, and in part to promote a pair of new toys designed by Pope (one of a number of media that Pope is dipping his fingers in lately).

Paul Budnitz: Totally. There's this literary influence on all your work. I don't know what to say about that, just mentioning it. It seems like literature is a giant influence for you.

Paul Pope: Yeah – and the great sci-fi writers like P.K. Dick or Ursula LeGuin are able to write about the "human experience" through their stories, while at the same time doing all the stuff we want from sci-fi. Fitzgerald is the same in that sense. It all started gelling at that time, added to the prism of manga, I started to get some good ideas.

Paul Budnitz: It makes your work feel much more mature than the average comic. And you're not doing the psychological thing that Alan Moore does. Your work is a bit enigmatic, I mean your stories, and the art really supports that. It seems like you're not afraid of an unsettled narrative.

Paul Pope: No, life seems unsettled, I try to put that in my work. You walk outside thinking about bills and fall in love. Or get hit by a car, life is chaos. I sometimes chafe at the clean-cut ending in a story. I love a good, sweeping good-versus-evil thing like Flash Gordon or what have you, but I also love the chaos of David Lynch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Watchmen Trailer

The visuals are interesting, albeit with a dose of the odd blue screen sterility of Snyder's prior films. But the immediate impression is that much like 300, Snyder's reverence for the source material promises as faithful an adaptation as possible right down to frames of the film perfectly mimicking panels from the comic. But where Frank Miller's 300 featured a story every bit as spartan as its main characters and thus could be easily encapsulated and contained in a single film; Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbon's tale is deeply layered and filthy with detail. So can Snyder edit such a work down and get more steak than sizzle. Either way it will be fascinating to see the end result.

Dark Knight's "chill will linger"

TIME’s Richard Corliss on The Dark Knight:

"For a good part of the film when [Batman and The Joker] embrace in a free fall of souls--one doomed, the other imperiled--you may think you’re in the grip of a mordant masterpiece.That feeling will pass, as the film spends too many of its final minutes setting up the series’ third installment. The chill will linger, though. The Dark Knight is bound to haunt you long after you’ve told yourself, As it’s only a comic-book movie.”

I’ve become more interested in seeing the film as a result of critics raves rather than the dull-looking previews or certainly the prior, well-done, but still mostly unmemorable, film.

Alan Moore discusses Watchmen

(usually I put these on the blog to remind myself to watch them again)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

NPR reviewers love Hellboy

NPR has not one but two glowing reviews of the new Hellboy sequel.
There's an audio (and text) review from Kenneth Turan here.

And Nathan Lee's review excerpted below.

"...moral nuance and mythic resonance, are everywhere on view in Hellboy II, a rare blockbuster with soul. Del Toro brings a meticulous artisanal attention to his material, suffusing it with uncommon subtlety and care.

And for all its comic-book gobbledygook — the plot is sheer delirious nonsense — there's a mischievous, childlike wonder to Hellboy II, a guileless belief in itself and its audience. It's a summer joyride that remembers the joy."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Guillermo del Toro and Popping Cars Like Popcorn

Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labrynth, Hellboy) discusses his influences in the latest Entertainment Weekly:

For the Hellboy films del Toro goes beyond Jack Kirby-influenced Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and cites Kirby himself as the primary influence:

“Kirby’s monsters were incredibly silly--creatures with massive teeth wandering the streets popping cars in their mouths like popcorn.”

Del Toro’s favorite superhero is Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing (which may bode well for an actual decent film adaptation that goes beyond the C-movie quality of the original films).

As a kid in Guadalajara, Mexico, Del Toro would buy the latest issues and “never complete the [bike] ride back. I would always stop half a block away and read it on the sidewalk.”

Millar wins the 8-week Lottery

From Entertainment Weekly:

Mark Millar on his Top Cow comic Wanted (and the currently in-production Kick-Ass) being adapted by Hollywood:

“It’s brilliant. Some poor sods did all the hard work on the script. The Wanted comic only took me eight weeks to do six issues. It’ll probably have a sequel, and possibly a third sequel. And we get paid…even though there’s no [more comics]. It’s obscene! And when we go to Universal Studios we could go on the rides without waiting in lines.”

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Son of Slow Jams by David Choe


SON OF SLOW JAMS David Choe (self-published)

When I met my soon-to-be retail sales rep, Tony Shenton, for the very first time at SPX 2000 David Choe’s name inevitably came up over the course of our brief chat. I say inevitably because not only was Choe the cover artist and featured interview in the issue that Shenton was staring at on my table, but also because it was Choe who had recommended me to Shenton (who was already in the artist’s employ) about six months prior. Shenton told me that he considered only two people involved in comics to be true geniuses; one was an essayist/journalist who I knew primarily from a single unfortunate email encounter (and no, not anyone from The Comics Journal), and the other was David Choe. Now flash back a few weeks prior to the Expo: A debate is raging on the always-acerbic message boards, and at the center of the storm is Choe’s eight-pager “Wanton Kill Dorado”, a story that opens with the following observation “It was that time of the year when the sun shined bright and when you rode past certain trees they smelled like cum.” And yet the real sticky wicket had nothing to do with Choe’s interest in bukakke, but rather with the perception that Choe’s story, which features a brazen and obnoxious Korean skateboarder enacting some revenge on a thuggish group of black kids about half his age, was racist.** One wag (a mini-comics creator himself) went so far as to suggest that Choe took a “good deal of care to differentiate grammatically between the groups using currently accepted terms, ‘the Korean’ (capital "K") and ‘the black’ (lower case "b").” Concluding with what seemed like a rhetorical question: “Coincidence, or dangerous stuff? You decide!” (Note that a few sentences down I will take the same “care” in capitalizing “Korean” while leaving “black” in lower case. Hopefully this won’t prove particularly “dangerous” to anyone.)
Of course, nothing conclusive about Choe’s intent or character ultimately came out of the debate; but I must say that it would be incredibly surprising if Choe, who was particularly outspoken in his TCI interview about other artists who he feels perpetuate Asian stereotypes, was in fact committed to perpetuating stereotypes of other races with any sort of malicious intent. For its part, Son of Slow Jams again casually confronts issues of race, although unlike “Wanton Kill Dorado,” racial confrontation is not the focus of the story. Of course a particularly interesting historical footnote to Choe’s commentary on racial dynamics is the fact that Choe is a Korean-American who’s lived most of his life in Los Angeles. And anyone with even the foggiest memories of the LA riots which followed the Rodney King verdict, is likely to remember the exposure of the violent rift between the Korean and black communities in Los Angeles. Especially given that in many cases Korean grocers were specifically targeted by black rioters due to racial animosity and jealousy.
All that said, if Son of Slow Jams truly sucked, I wouldn’t hesitate to say so. After all, Choe himself seems to revel more in criticism than in praise (not that either shapes him). But newsflash for the nay sayers, wannabes: It doesn’t suck!
David Choe is a savant when it comes to inclusion of closely-observed scraps that not only add depth to his characters but also to the chaotic world that they inhabit. This is just as evident in SOSJ as it was in its parent book. Early on there are casual, but detailed, asides, like the one about “Nicky The Retard” wearing a “cheap imitation” of checkered Vans called Coasters which come from Payless Shoes; thereby adding layers to a character who only occupies a single page. Choe also continues to skillfully build his Dixon Ticonderoga alter-ego, always making him more than just a one-dimensional skate punk. For instance, for all his nasty attitude and street cred, Dixon still isn’t afraid to jam to the wistful Irish pap of the Cranberries “Linger”, even if he doesn’t exactly come clean about it to his rap-loving black friends.
Artistically, Choe rummages through techniques and styles like no one else in comics. And while it’s his frenetic, sketchy pen-line that gets most frequent use, there is also the occasional detailed still-life in pencil, heavy-handed charcoals, blurred pages that no doubt draw from the guerilla-Xeroxing techniques of Aaron Cometbus (who’s tutorial on manipulating photocopies is included in SoSJ), and the sporadic manipulated photograph. Each technique used in a way that facilitates Choe’s story, thus not branding him too much of an art school showoff (although he certainly is that).
Another aspect that clearly separates Choe from the pack (as demonstrated in all of his prior works) is his fearlessness and personal honesty (or if it’s not naked honesty, it is at the very least a willingness to portray oneself in a less than favorable light). Of course, this is something of a bastion of the autobio comic. By now chronic masturbation has become less a bold revelation than a tired cliché to autobio-saturated fans. But aside from R. Crumb, not too many cartoonists so readily confront issues of race without proselytizing. Yet Choe’s comments on race are so gleefully tossed off and left behind, that they seem entirely unselfconscious and never calculated with any moralistic

Son of Slow Jams ends in a simultaneously violent, yet strangely joyous and cathartic fight between Dixon and a “truly fucked up girl”, and with a final, mundane, aside from Dixon-- “Later that night I had a steak dinner, with a slice of pie for desert[sic]. I felt much better.” It’s Choe’s way of saying that it’s vastly preferable to live life, to truly experience it, (embracing even its traumas), than to simply be a cowering spectator. And to that end Choe seems determined in all of his comics to engage and involve his readers; whether by challenging their own prejudices and perhaps exposing his own (often infuriating them in the process) or simply by testing the limits of which they’ll laugh at truly cruel humor; or even by trying to turn them on (given Slow Jams sexual content). Thus readers of Choe’s work are less spectators or dispassionate fans sitting back in their seats with a mere expectation of casual entertainment, than active, often prodded, participants, in a rather shaky, sometimes uncomfortable emotional roller coaster that is just getting under way. Troubling or not, it’s always a ride worth taking, especially given that its engineer is something of a mad genius. TCI