Monthly Archives: June 2011

Brother Louie

TV Show: Louie | Place: FX | Watched: Netflix | Staring: Louis C.K.

I know this blog normally contains my poor attempts at discussing comicbooks, but I thought for the sake of writing away frustration that I would share a few thoughts on LOUIE.

LOUIE is an odd ball of a sitcom. A tale of a lonely, middle-aged father trying so hard to find a love connection in his post-divorce life. That may seem like enough, but Louie also have to put up with thoughts of image, religion, sex, and social standards. It may not seem like something you’d want to view with your free time as it’s always best to stray away from the unhappy, but it’s excellent television.

Don’t get me wrong, the show is absolutely hilarious. C.K.’s vulgar, questioning, and possibly offensive style influences the show to no end. If anything, LOUIE may be more of a realization of C.K.’s comedy than the actual bit he presents on stage. I just don’t feel that sums up the show, though. As mentioned, the subject matter isn’t exactly bright and shiny, and LOUIE never forgets this.

The audience sees splices of C.K.’s standup through each half-hour, but the meat of the show are the vignettes written and directed by C.K. These vignettes only seem to visualize C.K. stories when you first see them. The beginning of the season seems to ease you into what the show is really after, so up front the vignettes are short while the stand-up fills the majority of time. At this stage, everything is wonderful and the show still latches onto you while entertaining to the nth degree. Mid-season the vignettes take over, though. The show gets to business portraying more of C.K. himself. Granted, it’s a fictionalized version, but I feel it’s pretty obvious that C.K. lives this kind of lifestyle, minus a bit of exaggeration. The greatest thing is he’s not afraid to show it. LOUIE will go bleak at times. Episodes about God, scenes discussing child abuse, or explanations of the word “faggot” go past the territory of just making fun. The show actually begins to really question. Why do we live with such things?

There’s another element I find highly relatable. This is the story of a middle-aged man, but Louie’s luck with dating or just being social in general really clicks with me. The guy is lonely and lacks the motivation to find people. That’s me, and in someways the show scared the fuck out of me while also providing comfort. “I’m not alone” seemed like the appropriate phrase while watching this on a Friday night in my dark bedroom.

Seriously, for those who have seen the show. Season finale. The club scene. I’ve fucking been there.

The show has such a  strong and unique composition and vision, and the rotating cast never ceases to impress. It’s one of the rare TV shows airing on a basic cable channel that can still provide a challenge to its audience. I respect it. It’s Harvey Pekar molded into a Seinfeld cookie cutter, yet in someways it cannot be labeled.

Netflix Instant. Now, people.

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Why Target One?

Originally written for PopMatters.com, but I’ll throw the unedited, direct version up here anyway.

The DC announcements, for now, are over, and we the readers understand the plan set for September when DC relaunches its publishing line and sets forth 52 new comic book series.

But I still want to talk about it. It’s big and, while already over discussed to death, this event will dictate much discussion by fans and critics alike for sometime to come. Most likely, years from now, the historians (you know, the comic book ones) will look back at this summer and the next 6 months to ponder what it meant in the grand scheme. Was this the moment to predict the end, or was this beginning of a new golden age? Or, was it just like any other renumbering we, the readers, see so often in the modern super-hero market?

True, there are these questions, but I’ll save those for the future writers and pundits. For now, another questions taps about my mind.

What’s the creative direction and tone?

With the brunt of the announcement, before all of the specific details, I immediately put forth an opinion on Twitter  that a relaunch is all good and fun, but for it to really make a mark, talent behind the books is necessary. I still stand by such an opinion.

Why? Comics sell and generate favor by their talent.

That should seem like common sense, right? That a good comic book sells well as a bad one sells poorly, and the focus of most readers is the artists and writers producing the work? Well, things rarely make sense in comics, and such belief has not always been the case. Instead, for most of its existence, the super-hero market has been dominated by fanfare and expectations of “what happens next,”which, in result, have created an environment ignorant of creative talents and the actual, real people involved.

But that’s kind of changing, now. Publishers are printing the creative talents’ names on the covers of super-hero periodicals, and the font size seems to be increasing each month. Readers now list their favorite artists and writers and name off their most notable works. The unofficial movement, positivity, and sometimes unneeded care of “Team Comics” chants and hollers for creator rights as well as exposure.

Comic readers are leaving the character/plot-driven mindset behind. They’ve entered the age of the creator being real. The internet has given their reading a new intent as Twitter and podcasts present live coverage of the behind-the-panel process. We watch writers, like Marvel Comics’ self-dubbed “Architects,” as if they are the stories and characters.

Understanding this, it would seem important that a new line of books be headed up by strong talent. And by strong talent, I mean writers and artists who both “wow” through quality but also possess a dedicated audience while holding a presence in the industry.

In an ocean of 52 comic book series, it’s very doubtful that even half are something worthwhile. But 15, maybe 20? That should be doable, and I feel DC may actually have a line up to do that.

Here’s a list for the sake of a list:

Justice League Geoff Johns & Jim Lee
Wonder Woman Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang
Aquaman Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis
The Flash Francis Manapul & Brian Buccallato
Green Lantern
Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke
Batman Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo
Batman: The Dark Knight David Finch & Jay Fabok
Batwoman J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman & Amy Reeder
Batgirl Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes
Catwoman Judd Winick & Guillem March
Batwing Judd Winick & Ben Oliver
Swamp Thing Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette & Francesco Francavilla
Animal Man Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman & Dan Green
Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli
Hawk & Dove Sterling Gates & Rob Liefeld
All-Star Western Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray & Moritat
Grifter Nathan Edmundson, Cafu, & Bit
Action Comics  Grant Morrison & Rags Morales

Personally, not all of these announced titles float my boat, but I think this is a case where everyone could potentially receive a piece of the pleasure pie.

Example: the snobs and critics get their J.H. Williams’ book while the fans can happily read Batman by David Finch.

Both groups, both audiences of comics, have the selected few they follow in this now creator driven market, and I think DC has made it clear to have a nice, rounded group of creators to hopefully speak to and draw attention from all sorts of comic book readers.

Sell comics to all we can. Let’s not target one audience. That’s the plan.

And speaking of speaking to the multiple audiences, DC is in this move to hopefully restore sales and inspire new life-long comic book readers. Well, what better market to target with all of this mainstream press than the lapsed reader of 1996.

If you know comics, you know the 1990s were a big time. Spawn #1 sold a million some copies, and Todd Macfarlane probably bought a space shuttle with that money. Point is: comics were spread wide across the populace in the 90s, and it was a time for the industry to make a lot of money.

It seems like DC has the major players to possibly drum up that excitement again. They have just the right arrows to target those readers who left comics with the collapse of the later 1990s.

Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Scott Lobdell, and Bob Harras.

Two of the biggest artists of the 90s (plus, they are kind of iconic for the time), the guy who wrote X-men in the 90s (X-men was BOOMING in the 90s), and once Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics (in what decade? The 1990s when the X-men were BOOMING).

Three guys, arguably four, who were single-handedly responsible for the 1990s super-hero aesthetic. Now they are all in one place generating a comic book event whose scale could probably only be contained by an era such as the 1990s.

Coincidence? I think not.

As Bob Harras found his way to DC last year and Jim Lee became the new co-Publisher, they probably set out to make  a portion of their line 1990s inspired. It’s what these guys know and do.

That look and that vibe sold comics, and it was a time when the industry possessed a rapid energy. Now they are channeling and pumping that energy into this new, drastic course change in hopes to once again capture that 1990s Boom.

The issue is, it’s 2011 and I’m not sure I’m in the mood for another round of Jim Lee knock-offs or 17 Batman titles. I always find it better to progress rather than re-capture the past, but hey, DC is after the varied audience and this may bring back some of the 1990s faithful.

Plus, Morrison is writing Superman in Action Comics, so DC is certainly after something forward thinking.

Finally, for the best discussion yet on the DC Relaunch, all should listen to Episode 44 of the Wait, What podcast. Hosts Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillian bring in comics retailer Brian Hibbs, and they bring up very, very good points about what this could mean.

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Writing is Personal. This-This is just Data Spill.

How’s it going?

This post basically says I’m alive and kicking. The blog (the one you’re reading) has been pretty lackluster as of later. Very little postage, and the posts made recently have been pretty weak – did you read that Scarlet write up?

I just want to say: don’t give up. I will still write. On this page.

Recent events and thoughts have just made me consider where my focus and energy is at. Specifically, my energy as a writer. Most could care less about my energy, but I do care, , and yeah, I’m figuring my focus out. I believe it’s just a matter of what I want from writing, and I’m starting to fall closer to the desire of personal pursuits.

You know, just being me. Like the final lyrics of  ‘Golden’ as Tyler, The Creator realizes who he is and Doctor TC fades out.

Could I be more vague?

Anyway, to make this post some sort of something, I will link a review I wrote for The Daily Athenaeum. The DA is West Virginia University’s student newspaper, and the review would be on Uncanny X-force, specifically the “Deathlok Nation” arc. Check it out. I liked it (the review, that is).

Also, I read The Mighty Thor #2 and no longer carry any interest for Matt Fraction’s Thor. Why? It’s simply more of the long, drawn out cape comics I am really starting to loose patience and interest for. But, why don’t I just copy and paste my mini Twitter rant on the subject? I thought I may have possibly tweeted something interesting for once.

I did like the first Fraction Thor story. The one Pasqual Ferry drew the fuck out of. Many weren’t cool with it, but I thought the story carried a cool epic poem aesthetic, and it seemed to have everything that makes a Thor story. I don’t know, I was into it. Anyway, here’s the Twitter stuff. Until next time.

– No longer hold any interest in Fraction’s Thor. Mighty Thor #2 is a mess of drawn of story with no sense of purpose.
– What is the direction or point of this? Odin’s preparing for something. Who gives a fuck?
– The comic looks fantastic. I love the team of Morales and Martin on about any artist and w/ Coipel they are doing something special.
– Maybe I keep buying it for that, but I don’t know. I could use the time and money on something else.
– I do believe the choice of long and drawn out is made by Fraction. He knows what cape comics are. He knows what the audience wants.
– So, he gives it to them. Nothing wrong w/ that. I just don’t feel his Marvel stuff, not all of it, is for me.
– But Casanova? Fuck yeah. I’ll be there, and I’m pretty sure he hasn’t lost that skill. The new Cas story in Gula #4 sold me on that.
– With him, I think it’s just a choice of how he is going to write. I would love to see the Casanova style brought to hero comics, but …
– … if Fraction doesn’t want to do that, well, he doesn’t want to that. I have no say in the matter.

– All of my tweets were speculation, of course. My opinion. I mean, this is Twitter after all. Want real shit? Read a book.

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The Internet Blew Up

And I was off to the side, trying my best to be snarky on Twitter. In case you’re wondering, I feel I failed miserably. But, oh well. The Marvel Bullpen of modern day made up for my suckage.

So, DC, eh? This is a big deal. The Internet storm may appear just like any ol’ comics Internet storm, but this is no simple costume change or cancellation. This is a LINE WIDE costume change and cancellation. Heh. Sarcasm aside, it is big as DC is going ALL THE WAY with this. No pussy footing nor any hesitation. DC altered itself over night.

What I find most interesting though is the backlash from many people on twitter. Granted, comic fans are always the most prone to complain, and the lose or altercation of continuity is always controversial among the nerd contingent…but most people online, reading comics have wanted this, right? Especially the digital angle of this?

My friend Joey Aulisio (Chemical Box, Matinee Idles) made this point to me, and I immediately felt he was right. This is what most have wanted. I know I’ve requested a line wide reboot or a drastic change to hero comics aloud at least once or twice. Yet, the Internet cries and cries or acts as if this isn’t good enough.

Not good enough?

What else could DC possibly do? Give the books away for free?

The day-and-date digital aspect is the bold move, though. Continuity and costumes aside, super-hero comics will still be super-hero comics. The digital direction will really bring the change, whether it is for better or worse. Brick-and-mortar comic stores will see some effect, and I highly, highly doubt Marvel ignores such a move. Not saying to expect a Marvel announcement next week or anything. This is more of a “wait and see” action. Either DC strengths the digital market in a big way, or DC proves that the world really doesn’t want digital comics. Either way, this may be the telling tale of the oh so talked about digital comic book.

And, possibly, the down fall of the physical direct market.

But, yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard enough “doom” talk at this point.

Personally, I actually want digital comics to fail to some degree. Not a total failure, just not enough success to make it the mainstay. I’ve said it before, and I’ll type it now; the industry needs an even mixture of both print and digital. Balance always seems to be the key to life, and I am willing to bet balance in this situation will work just the same.

Let’s see what happens.

As for the DCU, I need talent on these books. 52 new titles is A LOT of comics, and only 10 strong books will not cut it. If DC really wants to make this work and keep this excitement post the initial announcement and hype, they need quality and artists who will make people talk issue-to-issue. So far, from what has been announced, I feel there may actually have a shot at this. First off, even though I have been low on Geoff Johns before, I have to say the Justice League team is good. If DC wants to capture the spirit of Marvel’s Avengers franchise, which I feel they do, this is very smart of them to put the company’s top two on a book like Justice League.

Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman? There’s the energy that character desperately needs. Azzarello has wrote off mainline DC projects before, but I don’t know, I feel if he is working with an artist of Chaing’s caliber, the result could be different this time around. We know it will at least look good.

Manapul writing and drawing Flash. Again, energy. Whether Manapul can write or not, I almost don’t care. That dude can draw. But it is a writer/artists project, and I like that DC is continuing this experiment even though Finch’s Batman went no where and Daniel’s Batman wasn’t all that. Comics still needs writer/artists, and Manapul may have the special juice to do it well.

Johns/Reis Aquaman will make people read. Hell, I may even give it a shot.

DC Universe Presents sounds interesting, and Bernard Chang is drawing some of it.

Those five projects announced, and we haven’t even heard of the Morrison or Snyder projects yet. Plus, DC does tell of more new talent doing work.

And, I bet the J.H. Williams Batwoman shows up at some point. Would explain the long delay on the series.

My question, though, is where is Chris Roberson in all of this? The man came in on a terrible Superman run and somewhat saved it for people. Plus, the dude writes a Vertigo book for Mike Allred. Hello?

Even if this fails, I feel we always have to respect DC to some degree for this. They took the risk, and honestly they went from second stringer to suddenly taking all of the industries attention for the rest of the year. DC is pushing the game right now. Especially, again, with this digital thing.

And, hey, Flashpoint went from the event few cared about to probably the series everyone watches. Smart business move  by them. Flashpoint now sells more. Fuck, I’ll probably buy it because, well, I know I come off as cynical a lot, but honestly I am excited about this. I like the DCU very much. To me, the DCU is super-hero comics, and I like the idea that DC may finally publish a few good, exciting super-hero comics.

My eyes are glued.

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