Wait, What? Ep. 76: Dares, Wins

Photobucket And Lo, There Shall Come...An Answering!

For most of you, anyway.  I fully confess Graeme and I did punt on a few questions that were either complex enough to take up a full podcast at a later date, or so good that it would require better men than us to answer it.  (Ah, yes: the old "It's not  you, Listener Question, it's us" strategy--never leave home without it.)

Anyway, as you might imagine with so many exceptional inquiries, it would take us a while to answer them--and of course us being us, we're going to go egregiously off-topic, right?--so, yeah.  Two hours and forty minutes is what we've got for you. We talk so long Graeme turns into The Lord of the Flies at the end, and if I was less tired, I could make some sort of joke about me having the conch/gronch William Golding/James Stokoe free association/condo association...but obviously I am far, far too tired.

So lemme just say:  we talk scheduling and artistic teams on DC; new 52 titles and teams we would like to see; The New 52: Threat or Menace?; Marvel movies and costumes in superhero movies; alternative sexual relationships in comics; 2000 AD and Shonen Jump Alpha; our favorite books of the 80s; a moment in Defenders #3 I totally blew past; J.M. DeMatteis' run on The Defenders; The Shadow, The Red Circle, Milestone and other commandeered characters; X-Men franchises vs. Teen Titans franchises; speculation over the changes in the Marvel dancecard; real world landmarks in imaginary worlds; our favorite Superman; Dr. Who; John Byrne's Fantastic Four; Rick Jones; Downton Abbey comics; the Shooterverse and, as you're probably used to by now, much, much more.

iTunes? Hopefully.  Here? Most definitely:

Wait, What? Ep. 76.1: Dares, Wins.

Thanks for your patience with us and, as always, we hope you enjoy!

STRANGEly fascinating

Wow, I really loved Marvel's STRANGE TALES #1.

If this was an attempt to "counter-program" DC's WEDNESDAY COMICS, it's a pretty solid drubbing -- there's a tremendous amount of energy and passion on display on most of the strips here that I'm finding lacking from WC (which is beautiful, and all, but I found myself suddenly stopping reading WC at around week 3, saying I'll read again when the whole thing is complete, which I guess will get me there around 9/23)

Like with most anthologies, there's not a lot here of real lasting and permanent value, but even the slightest pieces are inventive and fun -- for example, Paul Pope's "Inhumans" story is nearly an episode of Seinfeld on the nothing-happens scale; it is eight pages about trying to open a can of dog food... but what a glorius eight pages it is!

There's some seriously mental work on here: who would have ever (EVER!) thought you'd see a Junko Mizuno or Jason "Spider-Man" story? Or Dash Shaw doing "Dr. Strange"? Man, pure beauty!

There were a few bits that didn't work for me: I thought the Johnny Ryan pages weren't "Johnny Ryan enough" -- I wanted to see more feces and blood and cursing! And I was oddly cold from the Peter Bagge "Hulk" story, especially for something that was so famously "drawered" for being... too something or another. While his "Megalomaniacal Spider-Man" was pretty on-the-nose, this first third of "Hulk" almost felt too sit-com-y for my taste.

The real winner for me, however, was Nick Bertozzi's "M.O.D.O.K." story, which got me dangerously close to a tear. It was a real winner. IN fact, between that and the Pope story, it seems to me that these cartoonists are probably better off to not do the "big" Marvel characters, as there is more to be mined from the c-listers.

I don't know really how to rack this book -- it doesn't belong in the Marvel section of the store at all. Marvel's standard readership isn't going to know how to react to this book, whatsoever, and I don't think it will be all that great to "lead" Marvel readers to a wider set of styles.

Its also a book that seems to REQUIRE hand-selling -- at least three quarters of the people I pointed to it had no idea it was out (even staring them in the face), but each of them was "Holy Shit! I want!!"

Am I the only person who finds it deeply ironic that this came out the same week as the announcement of the Disney deal? I wouldn't count a lot on projects like this coming too much in the New World Order, but maybe I'll be surprised?

Overall, I thought this was an EXCELLENT comic book. What did YOU think?


Modern Art! Makes me! Want to! Rock out!: Graeme loves The Salon.

It almost feels like an insult to say that THE SALON should be compulsory reading for any course teaching the history of 20th century art; it suggests that the book is some kind of dry, informative, educational text, which couldn't be further from the truth; someone who has absolutely no knowledge or interest in art could read this book and come away as in love with it as I did, without feeling as if they were being lectured or preached to. But nonetheless, one of the wonderful - and wonderfully sly - things about this book is the way that, almost without you noticing, it tries to explain the thinking behind the cubist movement and introduce you to Gertrude Stein and many of the movers and shakers of her artistic salon in Paris at the opening of the last century. It may distract with the amazingly inventive larger plot, but throughout the whole thing, conversation between Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque illustrates the excitement and drive that led to (and immediately surrounded) early cubism in a way that makes the whole thing relatable and understandable better than any art history teacher ever could. And I taught in an art school, once. I should know these things.

There is nothing wrong with The Salon. And I kind of mean that in the literal sense - This is one of those rare books that you read with joy and a sense of stunned awe at just how good it is. Nick Bertozzi's writing ambitiously mixes art theory with murder mystery with cultural history remixed with imaginative flights of fantasy (the effects of absinthe, for example, have to be seen to be believed) without putting a step wrong; the facts of the story may not be entirely historically accurate - I'm pretty sure that Gauguin's ultimate fate, for example, is not what actually happened - but it's true to who those involved were in terms of personality and outlook, and manages to relate those personalities truly to the reader while in the midst of a speedy and enjoyable pulp plot. Visually, Bertozzi doesn't disappoint either; with a cartoony line reminiscent of Paul Pope drawing New Yorker cartoons and a smart and effective use of color throughout the book, it's both beautiful and evocative, pushing the reader's take on the action gently but surely throughout the entire book. The design of the book, with chapters separated by small pencil drawings surrounded by white space, and frontispieces that work both as design elements and plot hints, is also something to be applauded - This is a book that as intelligent in its visual elements as in its written elements, and - unusually for books that you can say that about - in both of those cases, it happens to be extremely intelligent as opposed to "Rob Liefeld".

It's a book that surpasses the hype, and something that I read and immediately started raving about to anyone that would listen, probably much to their annoyance. Smart, enjoyable, funny and entirely Excellent.