Old Habits

So, I dropped off the face of the Earth. I needed a break from it all; we all do at times.

I’d like to say I went off like Bruce Wayne, fought bears and bedded many pretty ladies (although, it depends on how you define “many”), but in all actuality I only did the college thing: attended class, drank and even battled some slight depression.While it’s all typical, I can still say it’s been an interesting time, and a time nonetheless in which I have read not one comic book. They just haven’t seemed to matter in the shadow of early adulthood’s challenges. And, bluntly, most of them suck, now.

But lately, I’ve found myself jazzed once again. Things are looking up, and this new positive outlook has my eye over my old, faithful hobby again – inspecting it, appreciating it for all the wonders that initially lit the spark. Distance fuels interesting viewpoints. Being away from comics and the culture around has allowed me to understand more about it. You think a little more clearly when you stop paying to have opinions or read every blog post from the esteemed critics. The mountains of data embedded on Twitter may only suffocate us. Chain us. The world’s too fast, now. Even comic books … we cannot keep up with. Enlightenment, or personal calm, lies in ignoring the game and chasing your interests. Writing well means writing what you want.

My problems are my problems, and this odd, off-kilter blog update won’t exactly express them or fill them, yet it signals a shift. I’m feeling better. Confident, for once in my life. And that’s all I really need. I can tolerate haze and absent direction. I can tolerate not knowing how the day’s going to end. Low self-esteem, though, was killing me. I wouldn’t act through fear of failure, and without action or those goals I’d been reaching for, everything seemed unnecessary. I’d wake up in the morning and stare at the ceiling. Nothing would entice me to leave bed.

While all of this reads vague (and intentionally so) and maybe even a bit simple, the point is is that I feel better and in some way needed to remove some portion of it from my chest. This is a blog. Not a professional publication. I can write whatever I choose, and if I want to write honestly, I need to embody a sense of confidence. Especially when playing the role of “critic” or the over-concerned reader. I stopped writing for a few months and now find the lack of action a mistake. I’ve always been worried about the audience. So concerned by what you think. So enamored by the “retweets” and “likes.” I forgot why I do it. No offense, audience, but I need to ignore you. It’s not about you. Whatever I write, from personal sob stories to measly reviews of comic books, it’s not about you. I write it. I think the thoughts. They are mine.

You don’t matter.

No matter what all the English and Journalism classes tell me, you only hinder things. And in terms of comics criticism, if I play any part in it as a field, catering to your interests should not be a prominent concern.

I’ve only tapped the surface of what I want to say with this piece, but I feel it’s best to now move on and write about comics. This is a blog after all; it’s meant to suck. So in honor of all the random thoughts and diary-entry columns, I’ll run you through a stack of comics I read the other day and toss out quick, throw away thoughts just to get the gears turning.

All I can do.

. . . . . . . . . .

Godzilla: The Half-Century War #1-3
James Stokoe

First, this is the soundtrack (pardon the shitty 20-second intro).

Even the album art embodies Stokoe, but it’s really the relentless, entirely ridiculous drive of the song which sums up this monster comic’s attitude. The riff emulates everything your 7-year-old self desires. The length of the song, with its stubbornness to complete, enacts taking a good thing as far as you can before its tires out. On top of that, Stokoe’s beautiful, inventive illustrations. He’s certainly pulling a little more on a Japanese influence for this.

But I just love the book’s existence. In a line of IDW comics completely dependent on licensed properties, this one comes in and makes a case for it being a comic book other than sales. It acts as both pay day and passion project for Stokoe. You understand it as a Godzilla comic reading it, but so much of it is the artist. IDW should just burn itself to the ground after this mini series wraps up. There’s no other point for it. It’s balanced out all the bullshit published with this one Godzilla series. Go out on top, boys.

Savage Dragon #182
Erik Larsen

An old favorite. It still excites. After 20 years, Larsen still utilizes the page 2 and 3 splash like it’s no one’s business. A trademark of the series, you expect it, but when delivered a sense of glee and security overcomes all.

The Overlord plot looks to be nearing its end. I’m not sure how it would actually read if you took the past three years worth of SD comics and made them one, but I sort of don’t care. This is my monthly fix book. It serves that well – 20 pages at a time.

Uncanny Avengers #1
Rick Remender, John Cassaday

Nothing uncanny here.

King-Cat #73
John Porcellino

Nearly half the comic is spent on Porcellino’s fascination with cuckoo birds. Out of this, you’re reminded of comics ability to be their authors and vice versa. Porcellino emphasizes his obsession by shear page count and inclusion of research, and even for someone really uninterested in bird watching or the subject Porcellino’s own curiosity bleeds through his rudimentary artwork and translates. The story gains an urgency, and you actually hope he sees that bird.

But it’s the attention and depiction that shows Porcellino’s obsessive side, or at least his drive to find whatever it is he’s searching for. That cuckoo represents something. What, I’m not sure.

Multiple Warheads #1
Brandon Graham

The sense of direction in this comic is outstanding. For a road story, it shows Graham’s focus when characters and objects are consistently moving to the right, as if starting from page 1 progressing to the back of the book. And I’m enticed by it being a road story. Whether its Chuck Forsman’s work or my recent attention to films like Gun Crazy and Badlands, I’m all about road stories at the moment. Graham’s push on graphic storytelling also impresses. He seems to be pressing readers to think visually versus traditional reading.

I found this a nice touch:

Most promising comic I’ve read lately.

Batman, Incorporated #0, 4
Grant Morrison, Frazer Irving, Chris Burnham

The zero issue looked nice, but you cannot help but feel its lack of reason from page one. It’s a shame Irving had to draw this. He’s so much better.

Issue 4 picked it up. The inking appeared a little more saturated and muddy in spots, but it seemed to channel the look of Neal Adams’ Batman – especially the panel of Merlyn taking an arrow through the hand. I’ve sort of forgotten what’s happened in this series, but issue 4 marked a fun comic filled with well-drawn super hero action, and as a bit of fan satisfaction all of the Robins reunited. Awwwwwwww.

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