Attention RSS Feeders: We've Moved! And Stuff!

Hey, Jeff here.

I realize there may be some people who follow us almost exclusively through RSS who don't know that we've updated the site.

You will still be able to find us at Our service provider turned dickish on us and wanted a ton more money to continue to host us, so we've moved house.

As for the RSS feed, its new location is

See you there! Uh, when we're back up anyway...

Savage Critics on the Reporter!

It is a Savage Critic Four-fer (is that a word?) as Tom Spurgeon interviews Jog on Death Note, Douglas on Invincible Iron Man, Tucker on Ganges, and Sean on Blankets!

All of them (as well as all of the non-Savage Critic interviews as well!) are definitely must-read pieces!

Spurge initially asked me to do an interview, as well, but then he suddenly decided to do this one-critic-one-book series, and he asked if we could do our general survey of the business of comics later in 2010. I'm certainly looking forward to the chances of doing that sometime in the next month or two, I hope!


Super hot collectible alert!

[Don't forget that we've got Scott Allie and Kevin McGovern on Wednesday from 5-7 -- please try to come!]

In about 20-25 years, when my son is a famous artist, you're going to want to have in your collection a copy of SCOOBY DOO #149, out this week. Why? Because Ben's first published piece of artwork is in there on the letter's page!

I'm actually a little shocked how long it took to run -- I think it was nearly eight months ago that we sent it in, and they run 4-6 pieces from kids every month (can you tell I've been religiously checking every issue as they get released?) -- I'd actually given up hope it was going to run... so that's a lot of art they must be getting sent by kids.

Also, below the jump, if you care about pictures of what Divisadero St. looks like during the construction, you can find some there. I'm told the major drilling/smashing/whatever will be done on Saturday. I pray to God that is so...

Right, this first picture (if I'm linking correctly) is what Divisadero St., in front of the store, looked like at 8 AM this morning, just before the workers started working in earnest. Note that to get onto our block you have to dodge that funky corner thing. Also? The two western lanes (ie, my side of the block) are closed to through traffic while the guys work...

Divisadero at 8 am 10/20

This second one is looking directly out our door this afternoon, as they decided they needed to rip into the sidewalk to fix another sewer line. Joy for me!

October 20, out the Door of CE

This is why I've barely got any writing done the last bit of time -- hard to concentrate with all that noise going on outside!!



They Say That Girl You Know She Acts Too Tough Tough Tough: Diana Turns Off The Lights

This probably won't come as a surprise to anyone, but I've decided to step away from mainstream comics for a while. Sadly, that also means bowing out of the Savage Critics. Why, when and what next: after the jump. I love comics. I think they're capable of telling stories in ways no other medium can. Regardless of cultural stigmas, I've always believed comics are as legitimate a form of literature as the novel. And even though we lose a little ground every time Joe Quesada talks about genies or Dan DiDio does another '70s revival, we're still better off now than we were ten or twenty years ago.

My very first comic was a TPB of the Dark Phoenix Saga. I was fascinated by the characters, the drama, the action. That's when I became a fan of Marvel in general and the X-Men in particular, but it's also the book that introduced me to the concept of shared universes in fiction. If you recall, Dark Phoenix's escape from Earth is accompanied by a series of cameos, and to a 14-year-old newbie this is what it looks like: a stone giant comes rushing out of the shower, a guy in a spider-costume gets worried, and someone calling himself the Silver Surfer's flying around at the edge of space. You don't know who these people are, as they're not part of the story and only serve to indicate that Jean's transformation is a Very Big Deal Indeed... but these cameos also tell you that there are other stories happening at the same time, in the same world.

But it's the shared universe that's been steadily turning me off comics over the past two or three years. The problem, in my eyes, is that instead of having a wide and diverse selection of stories set in the same fictional universe, what we've been getting since CIVIL WAR is a single narrative that dictates the tone and agenda for the overall universe; the end result is that DARK REIGN makes me think of that Black Eyed Peas song where they keep repeating that tonight's a good night. It's dull, it's repetitive and it's uninspired. And it's everywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating a return to Silver Age wackiness. In fact, as an act in an ongoing narrative, the occasional dark turn can serve as very fertile ground for stories - look at how the New Caprica arc changed BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. Admittedly, it wasn't exactly The Reading Rainbow prior to that, but the point still stands. What we've been getting since 2006, though, is an endless slog through poorly-written political allegory and blatant writer's fiat: why Norman Osborne? Because Brian Bendis thinks he's swell. The mentality seems to be "Oh, you don't like Norman Osborn in Thunderbolts? Maybe you'll like him in X-Men. No? Maybe you'll like him in Agents of Atlas." Right now Norman Osborn's like sand after a visit to the beach: no matter how careful you are, it'll get into uncomfortable places and nothing less than a very long, very thorough shower will set things right.

And it's not like DC is doing any better. Admittedly, I've never been as invested in the DCU as I am its counterpart, but even I can tell you this much: I was in the first grade when Barry Allen died. I don't understand why I should see him as the Greatest Flash Ever just because Geoff Johns says so.

Which leads me to what I consider the source of the problem: both Marvel and DC are currently being run by a very specific breed of fanboy, the type that fixates on the specific period when they were reading comics. And rather than try to move forward, they spent all their time recreating that past over and over again, to perpetually diminishing effect. Looking back instead of looking forward, and making more and more outrageous leaps to get there (ie: Peter Parker selling his marriage to Satan so good old Aunt May can keep on keeping on). This mindset has become so pervasive that I can't even get worked up about the Flop of the Week anymore - Onslaught's back? Whatever. They're doing the Clone Saga again just to remind everyone how badly they messed it up the first time? Eh. The X-Men have moved again? Why get worked up about it? They'll end up somewhere else next year.

The last straw for me - what finally prompted me to make like Fred Astaire and Call The Whole Thing Off - is how it's getting progressively difficult to sidestep the Big Events. To use a specific book as an example, I've been reading DAREDEVIL consecutively since the start of the Bendis run. In eight years, I never had to deal with HOUSE OF M or CIVIL WAR or SECRET INVASION: it was a self-contained, consistent story that worked on its own merits without having other ideas imposed upon it. Then Andy Diggle takes the reins and guess who turns up in his very first story?



This guy.


So... yeah. That's it for me, at least until the current trends burn themselves out. I leave you, dear readers, with this final thought: there's been a lot of talk regarding Disney and Warner, and as the brilliant It'sJustSomeRandomGuy points out, it's quite possible that both companies will become actively involved in the publishing of comics, right down to content. Under any other circumstances, I'd be very much opposed to the idea of corporate shareholders imposing creative restraints on any story... but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that they really can't make things much worse. And who knows, maybe someday I'll enjoy comics again and come banging on Hibbs' door like Fred Flintstone trying to get back in.

Speaking of which, I want to thank Brian for offering me this opportunity, Jeff for making me think, Graeme and Abhay for making me laugh, Paul O'Brien for being my inspiration and all the other Savage Critics just for being your awesome selves. And, of course, our readers, because if a Critic falls in the forest and no one's around to hear her, does she make a sound?

Until the Watcher admits to watching Desperate Housewives, Make Mine Savage!

The RSS feed thing

I'll be completely honest with you: I know just about nothing about some of the backstagey bits of this site. I've never used a RSS feed in my life and don't really "get" it, because I'm a bitter old curmudgeon.

I only kind of understand how "hits" work, or advertising costs on the web, or any of that stuff -- I don't think I've looked a refer log in something like 5 years, and, while I have permissions to go get our metric information, I never really bother, because I'm more interested in the content than all of that stuff, y'know?

Anyway, long and short, yeah, Kate changed the way the RSS feeds work with the Savage Critic site, and she did it when the new gang came in (and aren't they all doing a great job already? Though... where's Eckert?!?!?), and it was done to try and get our hits up a bit in what I take to be a non-evil way.

We're going to take a look at traffic over the next few weeks, and see what happens with this new scheme, and the new writers, and see how things go. This may or may not be a permanent change, I dunno, but we're going to try it and see what happens.

Feel free to use the comments thread to voice your support or annoyance, but, honestly, you can stop emailing me. What I will say is that any such changes we make like this are aimed at paying the contributors more money for their efforts, and nothing more.


Oh Comics, how we love thee!

I know we fuss and fight some times. Sometimes we fight about money, some times about even sillier things, but, baby, you have to know that we love you with all of our hearts.

We've been together a really long time, but for us at least, it just gets better with age. We honestly can't think of anyone else we'd rather wake up in bed next to each morning, and, I know, I know, sometimes we flirt with film or television or prose, but always always you're the one foremost in our hearts and minds.

So, this Valentine's Day, 2009, we'd like to rededicate our love to you, and offer you this: The Savage Critics: Wave Three!

Ladies and Gentlemen, to present our newest Savage Critics:

Tucker Stone! Sean T. Collins! Dick Hyacinth! David Uzumeri! Chris Eckert!

Can I get a "Holy shit!!!!"?

Yeah, I think the single finest line-up of comics reviewing talent under one banner (along with my half-assed ramblings) now got even crazily better.

Now that I've posted this, sometime later today (yeah, we planned this with military precision, yes!) you'll see the additions reflected on this page, and the guys will trickle in and post a introductory message. Please join me in welcoming them!

Gentlemen, the Tranya! I hope you relish it as much as I!

Happy Valentine's Day, Comics!!


Mostly a test

I can't quite figure out if something is broken with our blog, or what, but Douglas has had a post pending for 3 days that JUST WON'T PUBLISH, so I thought I'd post a little test thing here to see if it is his message, or if it is the blog

Just to keep things vaguely on subject, I was complaining in Tilting last week that December was horrible. And it mostly has been. However, this last week has been really terrific, and Christmas Eve was the best Christmas Eve we've had in terms of sales in nineteen of them... it doesn't look like the last minute surge will be good enough to send the month positive, but I think we'll be in the single digit loss, rather than the doubles so color THIS retailer happy-pappy. And, who knows, we still have five days left...


Savage San Diego: A Quick List of Who's Where & When

I don't know which one of the thousands of exhibitors brought the ray that speeds up time, but they've got it cranked to eleven down here in San Diego: I had enough time to walk one-tenth of the giant exhibition floor last night, said hi to no more than three or four people (but they were awesome people, I assure you) before joining the nerd diaspora and staggering through the streets of San Diego in search of a place to rest my feet and a liquid that cost less than a dollar an ounce.

So I'm posting this early Thursday morning instead of Wednesday, and I apologize for that. Nonetheless, if you're immune to the effects of the Speed-Up-Ray and are at SDCC and have time to peruse our humble blog, here's the schedule for the Savageites at SDCC (basically, this is the stuff Douglas presented at the end of his post, plus the rare appearance of Graeme on a panel):

Thursday, July 24

1-2: Douglas Wolk moderates The Future of the Comics Pamphlet, Room 32AB (with Joe Keatinge, Carr D’Angelo, Eric Shanower, and other luminaries to be announced)

2-3: Graeme will be schooling you on the Science Fiction That Will Change Your Life, Room 2, along with Annalee Newitz, Austin Grossman, Charlie Jane Anders, and Patrick Lee. Expect Graeme to do most of the talking!

6-7: Douglas Wolk moderates The Comics Blogosphere, Room 32AB (with David Brothers, Jeff Lester, Laura Hudson and Tim Robins)

6-7: Jeff Lester will be thinking of something clever to say on the above-mentioned Comics Blogosphere, Room 32AB (with David Brothers, Laura Hudson and Tim Robins, moderate by the mighty DW)

Friday, July 25

11:30, Douglas’ll be giving a talk called “Against a Canon of Comics” as part of the Comic Arts Conference in Room 30AB, and probably signing Reading Comics somewhere after it.

5-6: Douglas Wolk moderates Teaching Comics—Room 4 (with Phil Jimenez, Matt Silady, James Sturm and Steve Lieber)

Saturday, July 26

11:30-12:30: Douglas Wolk moderates Image Comics/Tori Amos—Room 6B (with Tori herself and a cast of thousands)

2:00-3:00: Douglas Wolk moderates Lettering Roundtable—Room 8 (with Todd Klein, John Roshell, Tom Orzechowski and Jared K. Fletcher)

4:30-5:30: Douglas Wolk moderates The Story of an Image—Room 4 (with Kim Deitch, Jim Woodring, Jim Ottaviani and Kyle Baker)

Hmm, looking at the schedule, I think Douglas is one who owns the Speed-Up-Ray...

So there you have it, and I hope to see you at the Con. If you catch me wandering about blankly, feel free to come up and say hi--I'm hoping I can defeat the effects of Time Disappearitis by meeting more quality people!

Those ad boxes

I'm kinda stupid sometimes about the internet, and we're still figuring out how things work, so it looks like we blew it in getting how Project Wonderful functions -- we got 34 (!) bids for the ad space, but when we looked at it, we didn't understand that the bids were blind and that all we saw was $0.00 bidded, and we passed on all of them. Stupid me! So... if you tried to bid on the space before, try it again, I now have the slightest idea of what I'm doing! (but, really, just the slightest so far)

Thanks to Bill from Lone Star Press for clueing me in on what I was seeing, and you SHOULD be seeing his ad on the side for the next day or so. Go take a look at his Bill Mantlo tribute book as minor thanks for setting me straight.


Goodbye, Farewell, Au Revoir

I regret the need to do this, but I'm leaving the Savage Critics. I find that my good intentions of contributing are far outweighed by not having the time available to do the job I should be doing here, which makes me feel guilty. I thank everyone involved, especially the great Brian Hibbs, for including me in the first place. I still feel incredibly honored to be asked, and I'll remain a reader, of course!

Here Comes Everyone: A Quick Bit of (Kinda) Self-Promotion.

Yeah, "kinda," because is it really self-promotion if you're promoting the people that you work with on this here blog. (Answer: Duh, of course it is!) First, in case you missed it, essays from both Abhay and Jog were mentioned(repeatedly) in Chris Mautner's excellent round-up of the best comics criticism of 2007 over at Blog@. Then, Johanna's fine blog,, got name-checked by Newsweek magazine in its article on Wonder Woman (which, unfortunately, has one of the stupidest titles I've ever read). Finally, there's a blissfully long interview with Graeme conducted by Tom Spurgeon over at The Comics Reporter. (And The Comics Reporter has been exceptional lately, I think: even before it's accidental holiday hiatus, it was bursting with amaazing content. Currently, it's like reading a one-man Comics Journal ("OMACJ?") and really wonderful.)

Anyway, wanted to let you know. I should have slightly more substantial material than this (complete with special guest-star!) shortly.

The X-Mas Experiment: Tell Jeff What to Write in December...

Howdy. I've been thinking: my December is looking pretty open at the moment, and I thought it might be fun to sort of dig my heels in and post a little more frequently to the site, since I've been posting so infrequently here for the last few months. But I'm really torn on what to write, and thought you could help.

Even before some commentators mentioned it in threads, I'd been thinking the site hasn't had as much old-school "here's reviews of the 20 to 30 books I read this week" entries as we once had. I thought it might be fun to do that for December, despite my reservations that: (a) I don't work at CE any more, which means I'd have to set aside a chunk of time during my week to read all them damn funnybooks; and (b) I'm so behind on my reading of singles (even on books I follow!), the results could come off as pathetically out-of-touch.

Alternately, I could write longer reviews, one or two a week, of the stuff I have been reading lately--mostly manga, but a few other things as well. This is the stuff I should really be doing anyway, but haven't in many cases because I've been too lazy to shape my thoughts beyond the "Ugh, Jeff like!" stages.

Or I could try my hand at writing something more like a personal essay, something not unlike my response to Abhay's review of Dr. 13. I'm a little worried about this option, because the call-and-response nature of the earlier essay made it much easier to structure. Also, looking back at that essay, I realize I may have used up every unique theory about comics and their readers I ever developed. Because I'm really not sure how to tackle this angle, there might be only two (or three?) of them during the course of the month.

Finally, I could do nothing. After all, the revamped site seems to be picking up its second wind with some strong (and strongly challenged) reviews, and more comment threads turning into actual discussions. And December frequently looks low-key going into it, before it catches your sleeve in its gears--giving you just a split-second to realize how goddam fast everything's going--and spits out what's left of you on January 1st.

So, to recycle that terrible phrase, U-Decide! Should I:

(a) do weekly capsule reviews of the books on the stands; (b) do reviews of stuff I'm reading currently, once or twice a week; (c) do a longer comics-related essay or two; or (d) do nothing, as the site is producing plenty of content anyway?

Please lemme know yr. thoughts on the matter, either in the comments below or by dropping me a line at pig[DOOT]latin[ATT]gmail[DOOT]com.


Thanks for Lunch!!!!

So, the first weeks results of Jeff's "telethon" pitch to you to contribute to the SAVAGE CRITICS is in, and we've taken in a little over $250. Hooray!

Everyone writing for the site gets a nice lunch out of it, while I get a portion of my expenses back.

I'd like to personally thank the 47 of you that have contributed, but I'm just a little lazy, so I'm going to cut and paste. Here's everyone who donated, in, er, alphabetical order by first name....

Alex Chylinski Brendan Cahill Brian Duffy Brian Linnen Chiron Mukherjee Christopher Ritter Cynthia McShane Drew Bell James Woodward Jason Wyckoff Jeremy Kahn John McInnes Jonathan Kline Jury Rigged Comics Marc Anderson Marcel Martinez Mark Bender Mark David Parsons Mark von Minden Matt Bucher Matthew Brady Matthew Ciccarelli Matthew Vergin Max Smith Megaflow Graphics Michael Reyes Morgan Johnson Paul DesCombaz Pulp Fiction Ralph Mathieu (Our BIG SPENDER, for $52... or $1 a week!) Richard Jones Robert DiManna ROBERT GHIORZI Ryan Bonneville Samuel Phillips Scott Davis Sean Phillips Southside Press Stephen Hickman Steven Dandois Steven Darrall Timothy Bumpus Timothy Price Tobias Carroll Two Headed Cat Wilhelm Lang William Jennings


The PayPal button is still over there off to the side, so please feel free to donate as the mood strikes you. Paid bloggers are happier, more productive bloggers (at least I think so!)

The only thing I'll add is, PayPal charges 33 cents in fees on the FIRST dollar, so it ends up that $2 or more donations are probably a better idea...

Again, thank you to everyone who donated some money -- it is REALLY appreciated!


In Which Jeff Asks You For Money.

Howdy! I'd like to ask you to do something for me. I'd like you to use the little Paypal button below the list of the SavCrits and give us a dollar. (Actually, if you're reading this on an RSS feed, I'd like you to do two things for me: First, go directly to our site; then, use the little Paypal button below the list of the SavCrits to give us a dollar.) Here's my thinking on the subject. As of Graeme's post this morning, there have been approximately 50 posts this month (not counting my garage sale posts or the Douglas Wolk signing pix) and there will doubtlessly be more by the time August ends this Friday. (Maybe 55 posts?) If you came across a zine in your local comic book store that had the dozens of reviews everyone's done, plus Abhay's smart-assery, plus Jog's coverage of Igor Kordey's career at Marvel, and the overview of Valérian: Spatio-Temporal Agent, would you play a dollar for it?

Let's say I follow the public television model and only do this once every four months. Would you pay for a dollar for a zine that would then be (let's assume) four times that size, with four times the reviews and four times the etc., etc.?

Now, I think you know right now whether you'll push that little button and give us a dollar or not. Some of you aren't going to give us a dollar because you don't have to, or you don't have paypal set up, or you can't be arsed with remembering your paypal password, or you think if you give us a dollar today, everyone will be hitting you up for a dollar by this time next year. No matter what reasons I put forward for why you should give us a dollar--with the possible exception of me suddenly breaking into piteous cries of extreme financial distress--I think you've already decided whether or not you'll give us that money. But in the interests of making this entertaining, I'll still go ahead and tell you why you should.

Clearly, the North American comics industry has been changing dramatically over the last several years. Interestingly, and for very different reasons, the North American newspaper industry has been as well. For example, despite being essentially the only daily paper in town, The San Francisco Chronicle recently went through a rather grueling round of layoffs and cutbacks, in part because circulation numbers diminish as more people get their news and opinions electronically. In the past, I think newspapers would have, over time, come to employ fulltime critics to perform reviews of graphic novels and the comic medium as they did with other developing media. But because the newspapers are struggling to find their place in a dynamically different workplace, that's probably never going to happen: they're using freelancers, or they're assigning their regular critics to cover this field. Comics doesn't have its Tim Goodman, or its Frank Rich, or its Andrew Sarris. Despite my delight that in Douglas Wolk we may finally have our Pauline Kael, Douglas isn't (yet) set up at the New Yorker, able to focus on educating and inspiring weekly and not having to worry about hustling for the rent. Coverage in the news about comics is still spotty, and it will probably remain so from some time until it figures out how to understand how to best take advantage of the public's new habits. Until it does--whether as Boing Boing Media Networks or Google Press, International or Digg Universal or whatever--a rejuvenated field has little more to rely on for its criticism than passionate individuals who continue to contribute to the field with their own free time and resources.

We all do this out from a sincere passion and love for the artform, and that won't change no matter how many people click the Paypal button. But what we do here does take time and energy and commitment, and financial remuneration has a way of making the time we clear from our schedules easier to justify, to ourselves and our loved ones, and it is my hope that it will provide the sustenance--emotionally, at least--for smart, knowledgeable people to continue to write engagingly about this medium at a good clip for some time to come. It'll also make a strong incentive to expand the site, whether that's adding interviews, podcasts, or merely another wave of critics for an even wider view of the marketplace.

To phrase it a bit more succinctly, Making with the clicky shows both that what we do matters, and also that it matters that we do it. Looking back on the first forty days or so of the rebooted Savage Critic, I very strongly believe both those statements to be true. So much so, in fact, I sent in the first dollar myself earlier today.

As I mentioned above, I'm thinking of a public television model for this, and one of the things they do with public television pledge weeks is they offer incentives. So the person who offers the first donation will get a DVD of Seijun Suzuki's Pistol Opera mailed to them, and the person who donates the most by the end of this week will get a copy of Jim Woodring's Seeing Things. If you want, I'll even personalize each with a little critical blurb (or not, as you prefer--they're certainly both such significant pieces of work they can get along just fine without me.)

But I'd like to think you don't need any such incentives. It's the last week of the month and payday is right around the corner. If you think what we do here is valuable, take a second to remember your password, and take the plunge. Although I'm only speaking on behalf of myself here, I'm sure all of us at The Savage Critic would appreciate it. Thank you.

Housecleaning Notes.

So, if you want to read Brian's POS pains in the entirity, you can go here and get the entire POS Follies series of posts (Gimme awhile, and I'll actually label all of his retailing info posts, so those persons who come here wanting to read that kind of thing only can do so without fear of running into opinions); it seemed like something that should be easier to get to than it used to be, somehow.

Question for the audience: Should we add tags (sorry, Blogger, I mean "labels") for each poster, so you could search for Jog's, Johanna's, Abhay's, etc.'s, posts more easily, or is that just getting ridiculous?

EDIT: Okay, individual posters have labels for their posts going back to the relaunch (Sorry, folks - I'm not going to go back and label the previous 700-odd posts right now. Maybe when I have a large amount of free time). Feel free to use the comments thread to suggest other changes we need to make to make this blog more excitingly user-friendly, with the exception of asking for larger fonts.