"If Only I Could Convince BEVERLY That He's As IMPORTANT As I Know He Is." COMICS FOLK! Sometimes It's 65 Pictures For 65 Years!

It's the 7th October 2015 and that means it's been 65 years of the chunky wee thermodynamic miracle Howard Victor Chaykin! Today is his day, so I'm going to shut my yapper and below the break you can feast your eyes on 65 images culled from The Chaykin Section in The Kane Garage Archives. Raise your root beers high and let's all drink to another 65 years of the amazing Mr. Chaykin!  photo HeaderB_zpswlcrwrik.jpg

THE SHADOW by Chaykin, Bruzenak & Wald

Anyway, this...

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  Happy Birthday, Mr. Chaykin and thanks for all the - COMICS!!!

Wait, What? Ep. 99: Ex See, Eye Ex

PhotobucketFrom Gabrielle Bell's The Voyeurs

This is a pretty decent episode, I think, and we've got at least one surprise announcement in it (a less-surprising announcement: this is a skip week for us, so there'll be no episode next week), as well as some talk about books not out yet, books that may have slid past your radar, and we get our Englehart on. God yes, do we get our Englehart on.

After the jump: Show notes! Show link! Show...me the money?

1:04-6:06: Introductory comments.  What the weather is like for Graeme.  What Jeff had for lunch.  You know...the essential stuff.  Also, Graeme has some ideas about what to do for ep. 100 that, perhaps unsurprisingly, are a little heavy on the post-production side of things.
6:06-14:10: Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3 by Darwyn Cooke.  Graeme has read it; Jeff has not.  The phrase "potentially man-rapey" is used. I don't know; is that a phrase that I should issue a trigger warning for?  Also under discussion--how long a memory do Internet haters really have, anyway?
14:10-25:46: Superman, Wonder Woman, and Justice League #12.  I guess you could consider this spoilery?  Hint:  better than Justice League International Annual #1, though.  Also, Graeme has read both the Flash and Superman Annuals and tells Jeff about them.
25:46-26:42: The dreaded technical difficulties kick up, so we decide we are going to call one another back.  If you must skip 56 seconds from any podcast this month, true believer, let it be these 56 seconds!
26:42-27:51: Back again.
27:51-39:37: Back to Graeme's Calvacade of DC Annuals, as he finishes talking about the Superman Annual and then covers the Green Lantern Annual, which leads us into the DC career of Geoff Johns, past and present.  He has no trouble leaving titles--is it time for him to leave Green Lantern?
39:37-48:01: And along those lines, who has two thumbs and is the last person on the Internet to hear about this new Justice League title?  Jeff, who is even now using one of those thumbs to hit the space bar and type this.
48:01-48:01: Speaking of Jeff: why is he reading Batman?  It's a question that ties back to Rob Liefeld's TigerBloodian outburst on Twitter.
48:01-1:05:25: A follow-up question from Graeme:  "Are there characters who are so interesting to you that you will feel at least strongly tempted to try the first issue of a new creative team?"  This allows Jeff to talk about one of his more insane theories (even for him): the secret existence of a decade-long Challengers of the Unknown film franchise. The conversation goes on to cover 9/11, why Marvel heroes appear to be more successful at fitting into the zeitgeist than DC heroes, aspirational heroes compared to feet-of-clay heroes, superhero comic book culture, and more.  It's a discussion that catches Graeme at his most optimistic and Jeff at his, uh, Jeffiest. (That doesn't sound like a euphemism for "gloomy" at all, but is meant to!)
1:05:25-1:10:54: "It's very hard for me to talk about during an election season."  If you don't want us to sound bewildered about the Republican National Convention (or to hear Jeff sound bewildered about the United States), you may want to skip this part.
1:10:54-1:18:06: Thank god, we move on to talking about Archie #636, with art by the ever-talented and ever-talkworthy Gisele.
1:18:06-1:38:10: Also worthy of praise--and we do so extensively--is Vision & Scarlet Witch: A Year In the Life by Steve Englehart and Richard Howell.  Unsurprisingly, Graeme and Jeff proceed to nerd out heavily, talking about the differences between Englehart's work in the '70s and '80s; and the renunciation of Englehart at various times in the Marvel Universe.  Big thanks for listener J. Smitty for making this discussion possible.
1:38:10-1:44:49:  On the opposite end of the medium, but which Jeff also finds excellent: Gabrielle Bell's The Voyeurs from Uncivilized Books.
1:44:49-1:51:28: More stuff that Jeff likes: New Deadwardians, Prophet #28 (especially the terrific format for the Brandon Graham/Fil Barlow interview about the creative process behind Zooniverse), Axe Cop: President of the World #2, and Emo Galactus by R.M. Rhodes and Meredith Burke (debuting at SPX!)
1:51:28-2:08:17: By contrast, Graeme has read a preview of...Black Kiss #2 and Happy by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson. [Whoops: we broke an embargo on that one.  Sorry, Image!] On a related note: the schedule at Morrisoncon? Pretty stunning.
2:08:17-2:08:56: Our recording schedule...and plans for episode 100!
2:08:56-end: Would you like to call in with a question and have your voice on the 100th episode?  We've figured out a way you can! Listen in here to get the super-secret Wait, What? phone number and leave a message! As a bonus, Graeme tries to wrap his head around the early numbering system of our podcast...and fails!
See?  That sounds like a chunky little episode, right?  And we're even giving you a chance to catch up before ep. 100!
As Beatles sung in their classic, Here, There & On iTunes, you may have already encountered ep. 99 here, there, or on iTunes.  If not, for the first option do see below:
As always, we hope you enjoy! Please consider leaving us a question or comment at our super-special secret phone number, and we'll talk at you in two weeks!

Wait, What? Ep. 96: Cool as Cooks

PhotobucketOur first non-food podcast pic in a month and of course it's David Aja from Marvel's Hawkeye #1.

Graeme and I are getting dangerously close to the big #100. (Almost in time for Onomatopoeia #200!)  I feel like we should do something special but...God only knows what?

Anyway, join me behind the jump, won't you, for show notes so you can discover what we did for this episode. (Hint: it rhymes with "balk a lout's tonic schnooks...")

Notes about the show:

1:00-21:09 : We jump *right* into the funny books. Seriously.  Our brains are broken by Howard Chaykin's Black Kiss 2, and we have to talk about it.  (Spoilers: obviously). Lots of discussion ensues about discussions, genitals, and (of course) Eddie Campbell.
21:09-29:40: Talking about the possible digital sales of Black Kiss 2 leads to us talking about the No. 2 top selling comic on Comixology, Earth Two, the second wave of DC's New 52--World's Finest, Dial H for Hero, and G.I. Combat--as well as the upcoming third wave.
29:40-37:50:  Hawkeye #1! (see above) Graeme can and has read it; Jeff cannot and has not.  We talk about it anyway, as is our want. Graeme has some very good things to say,
37:50-58:19: Graeme has some, uh, less good things to say about Avengers Vs. X-Men #9.  We talk about the current plot, possible swerves, the nature of Emma Frost, and more.  Will Cyclops die? Should Cyclops die? And other rhetorical questions...plus proof that Jeff is bad at math.  (Among other things.)
58:19-1:35:18:  Mark Waid vs. Newsarama!  It starts as part of our conversation about the challenges of creating today (one of which is instant feedback) and then becomes its own thing about personal ethics, obligations, how malleable the Internet actually is, and understanding comics creators and commentators on the Net.  Sadly, neither of us think to pull a "Waid, What?" pun.
1:36:18-1:53:23:  And then...comics!  We discuss Darwyn Cooke's Parker: The Score.  Graeme and I have similar reactions, but I feel like maybe we go in different directions with them.  Also, at some point, I think Graeme also coins the phrase "Princess TitsOut" while discussing European graphic albums and God do I want that phrase on a t-shirt.
1:53:23-2:07:21:   Back when I thought Black Kiss 2 would be working the crime vibe of the first series, I wanted to talk about it in relation to Cooke's adaptation of Parker: The Score and an amazingly formatted paperback graphic novel adaptation of Donald Goines' Daddy Cool by Donald F. Glut and Alfredo Alcala.  Fun fact: when I say on the podcast that Abhay interviewed him at a retrospective, it was actually during a promotional campaign for the book I mention on the 'Cast--Brother Blood, the "African vampire on the Sunset Strip during the '60s book" (That was written before Scream, Blacula, Scream).  Of course, we can't help but being slightly sentimental about the horrible way comics ended up chopped into bits to fit into a standard paperback.
2:07:21-2:16:57: Action Comics #12.  Not really much like either The Score or Daddy Cool, but we talk about it anyway.
2:16:57-The End: Closing comments!  They come so suddenly.  Graeme mentions he has a Formspring account where he's answering questions.  Oh, and remind me to ask Graeme about the Crackle and Frost which he doesn't have time to tell us about this time.
You may have come across this episode hitching North on iTunes, or you may check it out here and now and right:
And, as always, thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy!

"Beverly Grove was a STAR!" Comics! Sometimes they are mucky.

On 7th October 1950 Howard Victor Chaykin was born. Belated Happy Birthday wishes to Howard Victor Chaykin! On 8th October 2011 I wrote this about a book he did in 1988. On...look will somebody answer that dingdanged phone! Photobucket This time I decided to talk about one of his books that's in print, after all those Mai Tais don't buy themeselves, people!

Black Kiss Story and Art By Howard Victor Chaykin Lettering by Ken Bruzenak Dynamite Entertainment B&W Hardback, 136pp, £14.99/$24.99

Newly paroled jazz aficionado Cass Pollack (a Chaykin everyschmuck par excellence) lets his little head do the thinking and just may not live to regret it as the Hell beneath the veneer of Los Angeles licks its lips and prepares to give him a very black kiss indeed.

BLACK KISS was originally published as a 12 issue series by Vortex Comics in 1988. In 1988 Howard Victor Chaykin's mighty 4 year run of comics awesome (AMERICAN FLAGG! (1984), THE SHADOW (1986), TIME (SQUARED) (1987), BLACKHAWK (1987))had allowed his career to build to escape velocity. The magical world of Television beckoned but before Howard Victor Chaykin left comics to produce shows about stuff like a man with a special car and a crime solving coroner chimp he had time for one last fond farewell to the medium that had made him the man he was. And by "fond farewell" I mean "kick in the nuts".

The series was a pricey affair with high production values, a low page count and, clearly, complete creative freedom for the author. Given this freedom, even rarer back then than it is now, it is interesting to note that Howard Victor Chaykin chose to produce what is commonly perceived as a smut comic. Several issues came not only bagged but also with a black board protecting the quailing eyes of consumers from the artfully designed and stylishly executed erotica of the covers. There was much talk of censorship and ratings in the air at the time and it seems Howard Victor Chaykin’s response was to do all the things you weren't supposed to do and see how they liked them apples.


"Well, nobody's perfect..."

Howard Victor Chaykin is on record as saying that he has made more money from BLACK KISS than any other project. I guess people liked those apples just fine because, hey, forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. Another reason Howard Victor Chaykin produced a work full of people sticking bits of themselves into other people is probably because that’s the way Howard Victor Chaykin rolls. This is the kind of guy who would, around that time, spend a good portion of an interview opining about what was wrong with porn films and how that could be corrected. I’d take that as indication that Howard Victor Chaykin has high standards even where his lower entertainment is concerned. Other interpretations are possible. Given all that it is less surprising that he produced BLACK KISS and that the result is so superbly executed.

And superbly executed it is. PredictablyHoward Victor Chaykin doesn't stint on the craft one iota; everything that made the previous 4 years of his work so innovative and damned enjoyable is present and correct. Examples? I have examples. I came prepared. Right from the off we have a page consisting of repeated panels of a phone/answerphone on a tabletop. There’s some action involving a cat running through the panels and some hilariously dirrrty OTT chat action. That’s all misdirection though. The real information is in the static elements of the panel. Because Howard Victor Chaykin understands that if its on the page it should fulfill a function. You’ll see that panel a lot through the book but it isn't until you close the book that you’ll realize how much of what you read was contained in it. I love that panel.


Then there’s the dialogue. This is pretty much dialogue-driven but unlike today’s dialogue-drunk drivers Howard Victor Chaykin understands and respects dialogue with regard to the work he’s producing. Through the use of well-honed and finely buffed wordplay information is conveyed effectively and concisely. Yes, the big thing about Howard Victor Chaykin's dialogue is its efficiency and polish. The things people say are important whether in revealing their character or crucial plot points yet they are also often important in how they disguise the same information. As with the phone panels the words are on the page because they fulfill a function. If it’s there whether in word, image or a combination thereof it’s because it needs to be. There’s no fat on these bones. Or on Howard Victor Chaykin's. Have you seen that guy, he's 61 and he hasn't stopped dancing yet!


"You've got some mouth on you, lady."

As usual the plot is a sliver of a thing but as usual Howard Victor Chaykin uses elision, obfuscation, brisk pacing and sheer overload to keep you disorientated and guessing until all comes clear precisely and exactly when he wants it to. Basically he replaces complication with confusion but he does it so well and in such a way that the mental pleasure when all parts unite is quite delightful. It helps that while the plot is straightforward his treatment is not. Sure, BLACK KISS is a smut comic but it is many other things beside. It's a musky mélange of smut, crime, horror, conspiracy thriller and screwball comedy. There’s a certain level of artistry alone in simply keeping such disparate elements from working against each other but there’s another level of artistry involved in finding the common ground that retains each genre’s individuality so that there is never a moment of jarring transition. Until the end when he purposely allows the various genres to collapse into a gang-bang al a the end of the porn he is so effectively imitating.

Oh, don't put your pants back on, it's fiesta of filth alright it's just lots of other things too. There's something for everybody's inner freak here except maybe scat fans. They'll just have to make do with their Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth albums I guess. Structurally it lures you in innocuously enough with some naughty role-play then proceeds to progressively up the ante until by the end while sex is involved, well, if this is the kind of situation you flick and tickle your mind with late at night then might I suggest the number of a trained mental health professional? Up until then it’ll probably make the old bald man cry more surely than an honest review of NEW AVENGERS.


"That point one issue was a real return to fo-RaaarRRLpphhh!"

Also I may be forcing this one in but I think BLACK KISS is About Stuff. You all know I have a weakness for stuff being About Stuff and her it is again raising it's ugly head. During the book Pollack’s path is clearly one of expanding awfulness. Like the common perception of the addicts fall. A bit like starting out with the innocuous airbrushed ladies of MAXIM and before you know it waking up one morning to find your PC full of scat videos and the FBI outside your house in a white van. I think there’s a reason Cass Pollack is a recovering substance abuser is all I’m saying. I'm certain I'm not driving too hard or deep when I say that the relationship between Beverly and Dagmar is a scabrously witty attack on those who let their influences overpower their individuality. Y'know, like those fans who lack any kind of self awareness and are constantly banging on about their object of adoration. Hey, don't look at me, there's no way I'm having surgery to look like HVC, it'd require having my shins removed at least and I hear that smarts like chili paste on your woo-woo.


"Everyone's a critic!"

Its not a one man show though. Ken Bruzenak is also here on these pages and Ken Bruzenak is at it again, leaving most other comics letterers in the dust. His usual delightful design sense is present but more sparsely than usual. As though in compensation Howard Victor Chaykin gives him two moments that depend on the lettering to succeed. Well, depend on the lettering and the fact that you aren't too concerned with what’s happening in your pants to be paying attention. The lesser of these involves a character, a cat and a cigarette providing a neat summation of said characters less appealing qualities. The other involves a character and a fly. This latter scene occurs early in the book and  is an important indicator of a character's true nature as well as being a homage to a certain novel about a certain count. No, not Monte Cristo. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, okay!


"Was it "on" or "off"?"

Ultimately talking about BLACK KISS without revealing too much is pretty trying. In fact almost as trying as I'm sure you found reading this far but I hope I've succeeded in at least suggesting that its far more than a jazz rag and the pleasures of craft contained within are more lasting and rewarding than those resulting from a quick hand shandy. BLACK KISS judged as comics is VERY GOOD! don't let the schlongs and profanity put you off.

Howard Victor Chaykin, eh? Happy Birthday!  Here's to the next 61 years!