Farewell, sweet prince

This is the end of the Savage Critics.

Really, this is entirely because I am a complete idiot; in about sixteen different ways.

To start with, I've always been the world's most unreasonable collaborator.  I expect people to do shit exactly like I want it, but I'm not very good about expressing what that exactly is BEFORE I expect the thing.  In practice, that's almost barely workable in my physical stores, but it's never ever worked with anything even slightly open like the internet.

Savage Critics started back from the old CompuServe days, where I would read an entire week's worth of comics, and give one word (or up to a sentence, maybe) reviews.  I was young, and (well, I thought) very clever, so making snap judgements publicly seemed entertaining to me (at least).  Once gated communities like CompuServe became passe (well, until Facebook, at least), I thought it might be cool to do the same thing on the internet as a stand alone blog.  It was the Wild West back then, and this was an early blog (I think Tom Spurgeon called it "foundational" at one point?) of commentary and criticism.

I had a decent run, I think, of doing the snap review thing -- a couple of years where I was mostly weekly, but eventually I started to flag.  I thought I could bring in Jeff Lester to make up for me flaking, but in reality that mostly meant trying to offshore everything on to Jeff.  And then we added Graeme, and it became the same thing even more.  Even Graeme's lovely wife Kate got sucked in, redesigning the site, and ending up with me thinking "Ah, she's handling all the backstage stuff forever, right?"

Even our big expansions, where I tried to invite lots of wonderful, active, smart bloggers to come be part of this "brand", it was mostly me trying to avoid work myself -- if I have 7 guys each posting weekly, then I can post a lot less, right?  Hell, this continues to this very day where the utterly fantastic John K (UK) basically single-handedly keeps this thing running with real content.  All I ever do is say "Hey! I wrote another TILTING".  Even the weekly shipping list thread?  It has my NAME on it, but its been written by my manager Doug Slayton for like the last three years.

Most recently I tortured the awesome Thom Venier (who redesigned the general Comix Experience site) with a lot of unreasonable demands to get Sav Crit off of Wordpress and on to something that wasn't spam injected and gross and horrible.  He has done, in my opinion, not only an excellent job, but did so way above and beyond anything I deserve, trying to do stuff that only ever existed in my mind, and wasn't on the "old Sav Crit" site for probably a half-decade.  I was an ass to him about a lot of it, and I apologize here publicly: I am sorry Thom.

My main goal was to preserve the decade or so of content -- there's some EXCELLENT writing on here... virtually none of it mine.  And its here, and all of the tags and everything are all still there, so its at least somewhat searchable.  Long-time internet searches are probably going to be fucked up now, but hopefully the search engines will find things again.  (Seriously, Type "Jog" into that side searchbar, and get lost in dozens of excellent pieces!  Or go read the thrilling "The Case Against Dan Didio" -- the categories, the tags... you should be able to find lots of cool stuff)

So I apologize for being a shitty leader, and not at all appreciative enough over the years to Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillan.  To Kate McMillan.  To Abhay Kholsa and Jordan Smith and John Kane.  To Sean Collins, Chris Eckert, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone, David Uzumeri, and Douglas Wolk.  To Doug Slayton.  To Thom Venier.  To all of you I am really sorry.

And you, dear reader -- there are still scores of you who have followed this thing through thick and thin.  All of our regular commenters -- esp Peter, Thelonious_Nick, MBunge, John D,  Davids O, and T, Corey (Ottawa) and Chris Hero.

To me, Savage Critic is NOT Comix Experience, but the nature of the Squarespace account means it has to have the branding on it, but that totally shreds my last bits of interest in being "Savage".  There's a place for snark, but a commercial businesses site is kind of not that place, and so I'm going to call this blog here and now -- I've saved all of the past content, and I'll keep paying for the domain name as long as we keep the store going so as to keep it alive, but this is the functional end of Savage Critics.

I intend to build a NEW blog for Comix Experience in the next few days (before next week's new comics announcements, for sure), so we can continue to post the shipping lists, and any news of note, and I'll put that URL here as soon as I build it, and I hope those of you who have fun sharing your "What looks good to you?" answers each week will continue to do that there.

The new Comix Experience blog (with shipping lists, etc.) is here: https://www.comixexperience.com/news/

Again, thank you everyone I named above, as well as everyone that I didn't, and I really do sincerely apologize for my failures of leadership over the years.

Yummy Yummy Abhay!

You probably don't really need me linking to THE COMICS JOURNAL for you, but in case you haven't seen it, Abhay has an epic threefour-part journey through Comics 2015 that is a very worthwhile read -- I laughed out loud at least at four separate occasions, and I am one jaded-ass fucker. Part One: http://www.tcj.com/the-tcj-2015-year-in-review-spectacufuck-part-i/

Part Two:  http://www.tcj.com/the-tcj-2015-year-in-review-spectacufuck-part-ii/

Part Three: http://www.tcj.com/the-tcj-2015-year-in-review-spectacufuck-part-iii/

Part Four: Up tomorrow, dumb Brian.  But.... I bet you might be able to guess the URL....


Go read, and thank me later!



"...So Whose Matches Are THOSE?" ME! Sometimes I Make It So Hard On Myself!

Aha, it is I! According to the word cloud over there I’ve shimmied past my 100th post! Whooo, me!  Actually it seems to have been about 8 posts back. It would have been serendipitous indeed had my 100th post been the one about Peter Cushing's centenary. However, I am a pretty poor planner so it wasn't. To belatedly commemorate the fact I have actually done something constructive for a lengthy period of time, I offer this not brief enough by half entry about something the site isn't remotely about. How appropriate! Anyway, this… So, first up I'd just like to publicly thank Mr. Brian Hibbs Esq. and all The Savage Critics for their patience, benevolence, forbearance and other kind things. At times it has amused me to make out like we are all chumming about madly back here, but in reality I try and leave everyone in peace. I hope that doesn’t come off as stand-offishness or ungratefulness or anything bad. I don’t mean it to. If I do bother anyone I bother Gentle Jeff Lester. Because there’s just something eminently botherable about Gentle Jeff Lester. Actually, it’s more a process of elimination (although now I think about it that’s another way of saying pooing but that’s not the sense I mean) - Graeme McMillion$ is busy using up all the words in the world so I don’t like to disturb him, Abhay would probably bill you by the hour for his time (why, yes, my lawyer humour is limited), J Smitty is always covered in flour and foisting comics on kids and The Brian Hibbs is busy chiefing out feral street scum and running some kind of shop of some kind or something. So I just bother Gentle Jeff Lester. Sorry, Jeff Lester! Truly, getting this far has surprised no one more than I. After all, Gentle Reader, the offer to contribute to The Savage Critics wasn’t something I was angling for at all. It was exactly the kind of generous, flattering and benevolent offer that makes me act as though someone has just offered to stab my eyes out. I believe normal people call them opportunities. So I thank everyone for this opportunity and I hope that, on occasion, I have risen to it. If nothing else I think I can safely claim to have single-handedly resuscitated the career of Howard Victor Chaykin. That's not arrogance there, that's humour. Anyoldhow, I really do appreciate being allowed to squat here even though I never say so or, indeed, practically even talk to any of the other Savages at all. Believe me that that’s an act of kindness in itself. Think yourselves lucky.

Anyway, you’ve (the Gentle Reader) probably noticed I’ve been a bit scattershot lately. That’s because this year’s been a bit of a rascal. After a few months of its unruly shenanigans I just got worn down and I apologise for the lack of content. It’s okay I’m not pity-fishing, that’s as much detail as you get and it’s primarily there to lead into this next bit which is about the time I last got a bit content light. It’s a story about how things can happen on this side of the screen and how easy it is to keep them there, but mostly it’s a story about how I snatched defeat from victory. But then again, aren’t they all, Mother?

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So a while back now I gave up smo…oh, wait, I stopped smoking. I didn’t give up anything because that phrasing has negative psychological connotations which are not conducive to my continued abstinence from the toxic weed. I stopped for my son and my lady partner, so that we could enjoy the wonder of each other for as long as Fate allows. That would be just peachy if it were true, but it isn’t. Smoking is many things but mostly smoking is selfish and there are two things I’ve found I’m good at in life; smoking and being selfish. So already being selfish and then smoking as well? Yeah, real spur to change there. No, the reason I actually stopped smoking was a combination of pain and stupidity.

So we're back in late Feb or early March 2012 and, say, let’s start with the pain. I’m no spring chicken so I get pains. We all get pains. Life is pains, candyshapes. Since I am privileged to live in a part of the world where doctors and the science of medicine are more plentiful, available and advanced than a lot of other places what I sensibly do is ignore any pain until it goes away. Now, one day I’m having one of those pains and I’m busy ignoring it when, shortly after posting some bland asskissery about Brian Hibbs in that contretemps with some Marvel guy, I realised the pain that had been making it difficult to think for a bit was now making it difficult to stand. So I sat. Then It was difficult to sit. So I lay on the floor. When it became difficult to lay on the floor I was a bit stuck for options. I could have started digging but carpets are expensive so I just rolled about a bit. I’ve kind of truncated those events there because they started around 07:00 pm and ended about 07:00 am. It was pretty unpleasant all told but not really the stuff of hi-octane anecdotery. Luckily for your wandering attention things happen fast once my partner wakes up and finds out I have had a sleepless night on the living room floor clutching my side.

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Cannily, she is deaf to my self-diagnosis of “a bit of trapped wind”. BANG! My partner’s on the blower to the GP and then we are IN the car. We drop MiracleKid off at school (having maintained a Royal Shakespeare Company worthy pretence of normalcy at all time; kids innit). Then back IN the car and we speed to the GP where, astonishingly, the GP agrees that it is just wind and oh, those ladies do overreact, cue manly laughter and then we light cigars and drink port. NO! He hands me an envelope and sternly instructs me to hand it in at the Hospital where I should go pretty damn promptly. It is appendicitis and I should perhaps have approached the medical fraternity somewhat sooner. Ignorance may be bliss but it turns out to be pretty poor medicine. Now the heat is indeed on, Glen Frey. BANG! We’re out at the car again. But we are not IN the car because (this is where the Stupidity comes in) I decide to light a snout. This turns out to have repercussions. Bad ones. Now the snout is OUT and we are IN the car and the car is MOVING. We are talking, keeping the CALM going and BANG! My vision is now like staring into one of those kaleidoscopic telescopes children have, all beads and spangles. I appear to have lost all muscle strength and my words are spooling from my mouth like drool. “Mmmnnncahhhnnnseeesuuuhhhhguuuud”, I say debonairly. The inside of the car is now upholstered in Fear. The car reeks of that new Fear smell. My Fear and her Fear. My Fear is okay, that’s on me, but to have caused someone else to have felt that depth of Fear is not going to appear on a list of My Proudest Moments. Opinions differ here. To be fair I was distracted struggling to stay away from The Light. Piecing this bit together is like Rashomon but with two people in a car and a lot less sexual violence. I say my blood pressure plummeted and I would have been fine; the other person says I nearly died and if I ever smoke again she’ll kill me. Which is highly illogical, Captain, but I take her point.

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Then we are in Hospital and things are moving fast. Because I am as successful in life as I am with words I am poor, so we are in an NHS hospital. Some people smack talk the NHS but those people are the kind of toilet drinkers who think the NHS should turn a profit. I don’t smack talk the NHS, I love the NHS and anyone who wants to dismantle it will have to go through me, pal. Is it perfect? No, but it is under funded and beleaguered by bureaucratic foolishness so it's hardly likely to be perfect is it now? And "choice"? Fuck "choice". People who start yammering about "choice" are trying to take you for a ride, pal. A ride at the end of which they will be sat in a gold replica of their own head and you'll have to sell your mum's old arse to afford an ingrown toenail seeing to. Choice is for greengrocers and comic shops. Don’t get me started on the NHS. That’s the last time you bring that up, right? Anyway, I went in to the hospital, the NHS hospital, the beautiful fruit of Aneurin Bevan, the NHS Hospital, and the NHS hospital did me right. These people were overworked, underpaid and unappreciated but these people were efficient and these people were professional. I’ll tell you this for nothing, funface: time is different in hospitals. Time is strange in hospitals. And Hospitals act on your memory like a fist kneading mince. I think it’s probably a combination of stress, drugs, fear, pain, and people dropping those fucking tin bedpans during the night which are inimical to the correct operations of thought. So things get a bit blurry from hereonin. But I do remember two things with remarkable clarity.

The first was the bit where I just let go of worrying and gave myself up to the tender mercies of the staff. Because, I don’t know about you but when someone’s about to put you under I have a tiny concern about whether I’ll be coming out again. But then I realised I’d never know so, hey ho, let’s go. That’s probably the first time I’ve unclenched in three decades. It was pretty good. I can see the appeal in this relaxing lark, but it's a bit late for me to form the habit, I fear. The other thing I remember is that I was two beds down from the heir to a local ice-cream fortune. Oh, I shit you not. I remember that because it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like I’m in an Elvis movie. (Hip swinging singing sensation Elvis Presley plays Chad Baps the heir to an ice-cream fortune. But when Chad’s appendix flares up complications ensue. Romantic complications!) But then because I can’t stand being happy I got a bit creeped out because he made me think of the Emperor of Ice-Cream, you know, from that Wallace Steven's poetry in the front of Stephen King's ‘Salem’s Lot. So through no fault of his own this unknowing bloke went from a spur to light hearted reflection on enjoyable crap to being a personification of my own mortality. Put the right willies up me it did. In my defence, there was some morphine action going on. And because I live to read, I read a good book while I was in there, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. If you liked Blood Meridian you’ll probably like that one. You will need to provide your own morphine though.

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So then I get discharged and I’m housebound for a good three weeks. Follow in the footsteps of a rag doll dance! I'm housebound! Housebooooound! How else did you think I found time to look at all those John Carter comics? You think I sweat Time or something? So, I’m in the house for three weeks and…no smokes. C’mon, you can imagine how my partner responded when I asked her to get me some. Remember back in the car before I upset you with the NHS stuff? Remember The Fear? Yeah, that request went well. Picture the scene. Hooo! Yeah. So, after three weeks it seemed stupid to piss away all the ground I’d made up and I carried on not smoking. Everyday you’d see me and there I’d be busy not smoking. I never took a break either because not smoking is a full time job.

So, yeah, I stopped smoking. Yay me. But I didn’t stop wanting to smoke. Boo, me. Swings and ladders of outrageous fortune, I guess. And like I say, this year? Not exactly a banner year, my friends. So, I caved. I pissed away all the good work I’d done and stuck a legalised cyanide stick in my mouth and lit it. I’ve had better ideas. Oh, I have excuses. There are always excuses for smoking. I don’t have any reasons, however. There are never any reasons for smoking. So what was meant to be a quick thanks to The Savage Critics for letting me stain their upholstery morphed into an attempt to build a sympathetic rapport with you, gentle reader, before smarming into a self-congratulatory high five to my awesome fortitude and self-discipline. But in a twist no one saw coming it turned out it was just me kicking myself in the face in public. Because I’m going to be not smoking again soon. And I’m leaving this up here in public so that when I want to stop not smoking I can remind myself what a weak and selfish asshole I’ve been and maybe that’ll help me not smoke. And maybe I’ll not smoke soon. Soon, and maybe for the rest of my life.

And that’s why I usually stick to talking about – COMICS!!!


A Few Good Links

Since it was so deep in a grown-tiresome thread, you probably missed this, but I loved loved loved Steve D's post here.  

Tom Spurgeon is back with another fabulous round of Holiday interviews, and while I don't know how many people go here without going thee every day, I wanted to really point out the interview with The Beguiling's Peter Birkemoe. It's super rare to see in depth interviews with retailers, and I wish we had more such interviews and profiles. I used to (when it was still a monthly magazine) beg The Comics Journal to do a few interviews with pioneering retailers before it was too late and we lost that history to second hand stories. There are times when I feel like I'd pay for the plane tickets if we could get Gary Groth to interview Jim Hanely. Anyway, great interview, go read it.


(This piece on the TCJ website recently was very nice as well)


And then, yeah, this week's Must Read is now Spurgeon's interview with sometime Savage Critic Tucker Stone (You can write about comics you like, here, Tucker, with no editorial interference or fear of/for reprisals on my end!) -- which is just astonishing, and all-too accurate about far too many things. I think Tucker's off in a few places, about the audience and what it wants, that's probably borne from me having a two decade long view of retailing, and his considerably less than that, but that's a 40 minute type-a-thon for another day. (Mostly: the audience DOES WANT Better comics, but mostly they want comics, so when Better comics aren't available, they're going to buy what's there.... or give up on the form, like much of the last decade has been.)

Actually, the one place I'll take the most issue I'm not certain that Tucker is using "ethical" correctly -- a lot of the politicing and infighting he describes is, I don't think, either ethical or not; it's simply how groups of humans behave. At the end of the day, I can't say that there's a world of  difference between "being told the 'true story of why Mark Waid was fired'" and discussing being told that in an interview, y'know? I don't think EITHER of those actions have ethical weight. An ethical action would be the suggestion Tucker made about Pondscum (is that really true?)

I don't know, maybe I'm too numbed by comics after a quarter century of it, but I honestly don't think that the Platonic Ideal that Tucker seems to be presenting (eg: that the Image artists didn't, as a rule, create anything substantially NEW or groundbreaking, having won their freedom) is even a fair burden to put on a person -- some cats just want to get paid to draw, y'know, and doing comics is a helluva lot more fun than van wraps and advertising. They don't HAVE to want to do capital-C Comics,

Wanting better and expecting more is wonderful, but people have to take that first step for themselves.


Anyway, I have to run to pick up supplies for the CE eggnog & brandy thingy (not really a "party" per se) on Christmas Eve (starts at 5 if you don't have better plans on a Saturday night Christmas eve!), I swear I want to write reviews, but this time of the year is brutal for time....



Lester Alert!

I don't know if you remember about three years ago when Jeff Lester was plugging his story in Cthulhu Tales #10? Well, that story (and many others) are now in a sturdy TP collection entitled CTHULHU TALES OMNIBUS: MADNESS.  This has a Diamond order code of AUG110894, and an ISBN of 978-1-60886-075-3, if you wanted to ask your local library to stock it. (hint hint)

Other than seeing ol' Jeff staying in print, I'm excited by the back cover text that says "Featuring comic book superstars Steve Niles...Jeff Lester (SAM & MAX ONLINE)...and Roger Langridge." Yes, Jeff Lester ranks higher than Roger Langridge!

The blurb then goes on to say "Follow the Old Ones of myth from ancient times and into the modern age, where even Cthulhu joins a rock band!" which is.... Jeff's story! Niiiiice!

Seriously, go buy a copy, and earn Jeff some royalties! (Well, we'd hope?)



Why am I starting to feel old?

Internet time is compressed and strange, and it is a whole lot of new all of the time, and so when things last it feels a little weird, doesn't it?  

It was ten years ago today that I started posting openly to the web using the Savage Critic name -- that was on comixexperience.com, and something broke that I hadn't noticed until a week ago, and I don't know how to fix it and anyway, that site will be revamped (and hopefully properly restored) sometime in June-ish, so sorry you can't go back and look at Public post #1 at this very second.


I had posts on Doug Pratt's long-gone Comics & Animation Forum on CompuServe (Wheeee, dial-up connections!) under the name maybe 4-5 years before that, but since that was only for CompuServe members, and, anyway there's no way to search those to day that I know about, I don't know if I can count any of that ? Either way, I'm one of the older (f not oldest) "named" internet comics commentators. Rich Johnston changed names 3 or 4 times since then; I believe I predate Johanna's Comics Worth Reading... who else am I missing?


Things were different then -- this whole name thing started from me doing one-sentence-or-less reviews for pretty much every single comic that shipped each week. It was on a bet. I'd lose that bet today (there's more new material than I have hours, in an average week of 2011). I had an awful lot of one-word reviews as time went on, I recall.


Now, The Savage Critics is  collection of voices -- you probably don't like how often any of us post, but since I think total donations to the site last year were like $20, maybe, so I'm not so sure that you really get to complain, hoss -- and I want to thank all of my co-voices over this last public decade. Most especially Jeff Lester without whom which there's probably no chance you'd be reading ANY of this (what did I know from setting up websites?), and who is something like 9 3/4 years of talking about comics on this site. Plus he's been leading weekly (!) podcasts for longer than I want to think about, and everyone should love Jeff....


...love him....all....night....long....


(Wow, I could hear him shudder, all the way from over here!)


I also want to super-thank Mr. Graeme McMillan and the lovely Kate McMillan (who keeps control of the site for me) -- I think it's actually Graeme's world of comics, and we just live in it... I mean, seriously, is there a website you don't see a post from G on at some point? I'm not wrong, am I? He's the only man who is on Robot 6 AND Blog @ Newsarama, right?


And I want to thank in no particular order the rest of my fellow Critics through the years: Jog and Abhay and Tucker and Douglas and Sean and David and Chris and Johanna and Diana and even the late and lamented Dick Hyacinth who made three lovely posts and then never said another word since, or even responded to email. We miss you, Dick! ET phone home!


And, I guess this is the place in the speech where I thank you, The Readers? I mean, clearly, I like the sound of my own voice, but if other people didn't say "Hey, I kinda like it, too", then I'd be a lot quieter, I think. So, thank you, the silent ones as well as the ones who take the time to comment, I wouldn't bother if I didn't  think I entertained you.


So yeah ten years, here's to another ten and whoo-freakin'-hoo to comics, right?




Self-promotion warning.  For those of you not interested in self-promotion, and don't want to spend their free time consuming advertising, this is fair warning, and I'll hide my infomercial for myself behind a jump.  I apologize in advance to anyone who thinks this doesn't belong here-- in my defense, I got Brian's okay, plus Brian reminded me that Jeff had already done the whole self-promotion thing so... Please send all angry e-mail to Jeff Lester.  Also: please send photos of yourself but just from the waist down to Jeff Lester. Pants tolerated.


"Good authors too who once knew better words, now only use four letter words writing prose.... Anything goes..."  -- Cole Porter.

(Is it just me or did dudes from back in the day used to put quotes from songs in their comics way, way more often?  "You bros ready to read a comic about HAWKMAN?  Here's a quote from Jethro Tull to get this mother started on the right foot. WHOAH, AQUALUNG!"  Is that something my mind is just making up on me?  Didn't that use to happen all the time?  Are people still doing that?  I don't see that anymore.

It's not the same thing, but all I can think of at the moment is I remember Peter David issues of the Hulk that'd have Shakespeare quotes-- that one issue where the Leader tricks Banner into turning into Grey Hulk in order to fight Rick Jones Hulk, that's got that "Swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon" quote or whatever...?  And there's me, age whatever-- "I promise-- no moon-swearing from me, Mr. Incredible Hulk, sir!" Does Peter David still do that? ... I don't know; I just heard that Cole Porter song earlier today and that line made me laugh. Funny song. Okay, whatever, let's start the whole sales thing... Let's get into character...)





I'm the co-creator of a 10 page Jimmy Olsen story in this SUPERMAN comic book, as advertised. It's solicited for sale in February 2011.  I think Beau Tidwell has written reviews and journalism, too, including for the NEW YORK TIMES.  I don't know who "Others" are, but my guess is that I'm at least the 4th or 5th best comic critic with a story in that SUPERMAN comic.  Though I like to think that I'm the 2nd or 3rd best critic in that SUPERMAN comic, in your hearts.

Brian suggested I give you the Order code, so-- here's the Order code:  DEC100215.  Brian also suggested I give the Order code to the North Koreans, though, come to think of it.  What was that about?  Oh my god!  Sarah Palin was right about San Francisco!

Dustin Nguyen did the cover, which I guess is a spiritual sequel to this fantastic cover he did for BATMAN 80-PAGE GIANT.  Dustin Nguyen is one of my favorite cover-guys working with DC (plus I really love those chibi style drawings he does on rare occasion), so... Boy, I was so happy when I saw that cover...

I was approached by DC in May 2010 about contributing something-- out of the blue.  Just this weird out-of-nowhere thing.  I guess they've been approaching new-ish people for these anthologies for a while now.  It's nothing I went out and got for myself-- just this thing that fell into my lap.  I think it's going to be pretty funny for me, though, the next time I hear some mainstream comics person talk about, "Breaking into comics, man, it's like infiltrating a volcano headquarters surrounded by a high-security prison, shoved up a nun's butt.  If someone manages to figure out a way in-- they wall that way in up with bricks, and have Hakeem Olajuwon piss on the bricks in order to sanctify them with his famous +1 Urine of Obstruction."  Because-- really?  I was just sitting around watching SAVED BY THE BELL on blu-ray the other day, and got an e-mail offering to pay me to write a comic about one of my all-time favorite comic characters.  Did you... Did you guys try chilling out and watching SAVED BY THE BELL?  Because my way sure sounds much easier.  For nuns.

Anyways, I sent in three pitches at the end of June-- two were comedies:  one pretty terrible, too vanilla, too much me pulling my punch, looking back on it; the other... it probably was a little weird.

The third was sort of what I hope is a pretty straight-ahead superhero comic. DC went with that one.  And I'm kind of happy that's what I ended up having to try to make.  Given the chance to make a superhero comic, I'm glad I had to make a real one, and didn't find a way to hide from that...?  I don't know if any of that makes sense.  You know-- I figure this is the only time they'll ever let me make this particular kind of comic, so I guess I wanted to be a part of... Part of the "tradition."

Though I don't know-- my "tradition" probably isn't everybody's.  A lot of DC comics in the 00's, I suspect were trying to be in the tradition of the reveal of the Terra character in the Wolfman-Perez TEEN TITANS, which didn't mean anything to me since my formative Teen Titans experience was the Teen Titans being buzz-kills and narcing out the cool kids on behalf of the Keebler corporation.

I was always sort of more fascinated with the post-WATCHMEN Inappropriate Superhero comics, as I think I've mentioned before.  Or, like, you know what comic got stuck in my head this week.  Does anyone remember that Jamie Delano comic TALKING TURKEY from VERTIGO JAM?  It was an Animal Man comic that was just Animal Man (in his post-costume SERIOUS VERTIGO COMICS incarnation)(!) getting yelled at about environmentalism by a turkey on Thanksgiving...??

I don't know.   I didn't have the balls to write a comic about a man arguing about SERIOUS ISSUEZ with a turkey(!), so I can't say I achieved true glory.  Failure of nerve, I guess.  You know-- but I tried to have Nerd Fun. Stole the first line of my script from those excerpts from Alan Moore's script for SWAMP THING ISSUE 20 that Stephen Bissette had on his blog last  year (one of several excellent series of blog posts on comics history, if you haven't seen that before):  "Before commencing this debacle, a few words" yaddah yaddah.  Stole the last line of my script from Grant Morrison's THE INVISIBLES: "End theme."  That's how Morrison ended his first two INVISIBLES scripts, which I think are floating around online.  I thought that was kind of a neat way to end a script for THE INVISIBLES.

I don't know if I did anything anyone will like, especially-- that's not really up to me, I guess. I'm sure I made a lot of mistakes, or... It's an all-ages Jimmy Olsen comic, and maybe that inherently has a limited appeal. I don't know. But I tried my best to try not to make a faux-"cinematic" storyboard comic, which sure as hell was goal #1;  I tried to give the artist chances to be awesome; and if my execution was lacking, well, I think I at least tried to have my goals be true to my tastes, so... I think that's what I was supposed to do...?  I think...?  Or maybe not-- I don't know.  Maybe I'm wrong.  All my research aside, I'm not entirely sure what a hypothetical reader wants out of a 10 page Superman comic, or why they want it, so...

Annnnnd this is awkward-!  I am not built for self-promotion. I *totally* judge other people when they promote themselves, so, I'm so sorry if this is horrible for you.  It's awkward for me. This is awkward for me.  It makes me feel-- I feel like I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by.

Fun-fact: Mario Lopez is a guest on George Lopez tonight.  Fun fact.


And... yeah:  they let me write Jimmy Olsen.

Jimmy Olsen is just about my favorite character in superhero comics.

Olsen:  he can be equally in a romance adventure (e.g. Nick Spencer is doing a nearly perfect example, at the moment), a Kirby science fiction comic, a James Robinson super-crime comic, or a classic Superman fantasy comic, without seeming too out of place.  Only really Batman does more than Jimmy Olsen-- that is to say, the MOST POPULAR character in comics.

Olsen was already reinvented for modern times-- decades ago!  By the best-- by Kirby.  Olsen before Kirby is okay.  But the Kirby Olsen... To me, the Kirby Olsen is a crazy young man who seeks out the future so he can bring photographs of it back to the present.  Maybe just no one could separate that aspect out from all the other, more idiosyncratic things Kirby brought to the book, I think.

And unlike most DC characters, he's not locked into any single theme.  A comic about Batman should probably be about crime being a bitter fruit that grows weeds, or whatever that expression is; a story about Wonder Woman should be about Man's World; a story about Black Canary should be about fishnet stockings;  a story about Zatanna, I don't know, I guess should also be about fishnet stockings.  A story about Cheryl Tiegs should be about that fishnet one-piece she wore in the 1978 Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit issue.  Maybe the story could be from the perspective of the fishnet swimsuit-- let that blow your mind, intro to creative writing 101 professor.  Or it could be from the perspective of a young Brazilian girl watching, from binoculars, and she's judging at first but then gradually her defenses wear down and she starts having FEELINGZ.  I don't know-- I don't want to accidentally screw up any plans that Geoff Johns might have there, you guys.

Jimmy Olsen doesn't really quite have a heavy burden of theme to him.  You can think of him as someone inspired by another's heroism to go be a hero himself; i.e. as a symbol for the positive way being a fan of some fantasy character can effect your life.  Or you can think of him as ... As someone who tries to be cooler than he plainly is, to the extent he's making a fool of himself or even risking his life, based upon an impossible standard that he's imposed upon himself. Which I think is sort of how we all process mass media...?  Mass Media gives up Superman and then we're trapped in the bodies of Jimmy Olsen.  When I watch a James Bond movie, what goes on in my head?  How much have James Bond movies screwed up the inside of my head?  And is that any different from what happens in Jimmy Olsen's head when he's watching Superman?  Or you can think of something else entirely for him-- Jimmy's just this guy, you know?

I think I've mentioned this here before, but:  what I love most about Jimmy Olsen doesn't show up in my story, but it's the signal watch.  I couldn't do that justice in 10 pages.  I mean, none of this made it into my comic any, but ... the signal watch not making it in smarts the most because I love it so much:  Jimmy Olsen survives his adventures not because he's more powerful or stronger than his adversaries, but because of his ability to form friendships with people who are.  He doesn't need superpowers-- his superpower is social skills!  Which -- I think I consider that a better "lesson" than almost any other lesson in all of superhero comics.  And the ultimate symbol for that is the signal watch.  Plus, post-Crisis, at least, Jimmy Olsen invented the signal watch-- he saw Superman and responded to Superman by inventing a way to get Superman to help him in his life.

Jimmy Olsen is a person in a society transitioning from a human society to a post-human society, and the way he responded to that is by putting that post-human society at his disposal.  Which-- is my favorite heroic type that I grew up with: the computer hacker.  The computer hacker, when I was a kid, was a person who saw the effect computers were going to have on society coming, and was going to control that machinery of the world rather than let himself be a cog in it. Matthew Broderick in WAR GAMES isn't going to be a victim of the military industrial complex; he's going to use the technology of the military industrial complex to force it to recognize his right to be free of its machinery. Jimmy Olsen is exactly that.  Jimmy Olsen is a hacker, not of computers but of a post-human society.

This is all stuff I'd thought about on a regular basis, years before anyone from DC ever got in touch with me, so...

Oh, god. I've wasted my life.


Plus: I got to write something that would have real comic art to it for once!  I basically draw like crap, and so there are types of comics I don't think I'll ever create on my own, in one-man-band mode, for that reason.  Action comics, horror comics, monster comics, suspense comics-- really, anything besides people talking in a sparsely decorated room is probably off limits to me. So, getting to actually write, you know, ANYTHING and it's some other stupid asshole's job to draw it...?  That is a Christmas miracle.

We managed to get my top pick to draw the comic:  Mr. Andy Macdonald of NYC MECH, RED WARRIOR, TERMINATOR: 2029, TERMINATOR: 1984, PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, a SPIDERMAN web-thing, and END LEAGUE fame-- no, infamy!  I've known Andy for many, many years, and I've spent hours and hours watching him draw.  No-joke:  Andy would be my top pick to draw this if I could get anybody, anybody at all, so I feel like I got extraordinarily lucky.  Well, no, wait-- my top pick would be Jesus-- that's sort of a no-brainer.  #2 would be Lee Harvey Oswald-- my family's pretty convinced he didn't do it, so it'd be a big deal for them if he drew my Superman comic.  But #3 would be Andy Macdonald. So: Andy Macdonald: Almost As Good as Lee Harvey Oswald in My Book.

Plus: we're trying to get an old, old friend to letter the story, too-- I don't know if that's 100% locked in yet.  But this person, Andy and I all had dinner together at San Diego many, many years ago, and it's one of my favorite memories of the times I went to that thing.  So, I guess I'm happy that... If it feels like something made by an assembly line of strangers to other people, then that's how it is and I apologize to you, but I'm really happy it's not going to feel that way to me...?  And aren't my feelings all that really matter?  Yes!  You're right!  They are!


And then:  sometime in 2011, the 4th issue of my webcomic TWIST STREET.  I also started writing issue #4 sometime in May, I think, according to my notes. Hopefully this gets released sometime in June but it's hard to say for sure.  I'm wrapping up a final draft now, and hopefully drawing starts in late December / early January.  Talking heads, repeating images, endless dialogue-- low-low-low-budget comedy webcomics.  More than 100 pages, but less than 200, I think.  With a plot, this time-- another stab at doing a plot, unfortunately.  But the good news is I think I found a way to make my cheapest looking, laziest comic yet!  I really think people might hate this one!  Yay, honesty!

You know: there have been times when I've wished that other people had found a better balance between their personal work and their work for others, and have been disappointed that they haven't.  So, I guess I really, really want this to be out in 2011 so that I won't ever have to feel like I was wrong about anything.  Take that, world!  No comeuppance, everybody!  I avoided comeuppance!

I mean, I'm not saying it's normal but ... I really think my feelings about the Superman thing would be diminished in some essential way if I didn't also have this coming out.  Anyways, here's the Order Code:  Seven.


And of course, there'll be more of this sort of thing.  You know: more stuff that gets posted here, extremely slowly, and probably not often enough, and probably about comics no one cares about, and sometimes with me maybe calling the guy who wrote POWER PACK a baby-killer.  (You reading anything good?  I'm wrapping up DUNCAN THE WONDERDOG-- I really haven't decided yet if I'm enjoying that or disliking it intensely-- interesting book, though.  That and HARLEM HEROES-- why did people who wrote 2000AD think black people rhymed so much??  I'm going to end the year sitting down with the ALEC omnibus...)

But yeah, I should say:  writing for this blog, this is the most fun i have writing anything.  Oh god, when one of these comes together-- it is so much goddamn fun.

You know: I think part of the fun of this whole experience has been watching myself to see if I turn into That Guy.  Because I was really scared I'd have that moment of, you know, "Oh, I was wrong!  Forgive me, people who work in comics!  I've learned the error of my ways-- the real enemy is snark.  How dare you, snarky snarks?  Comic creators have FEELINGZ."  And maybe I did it wrong, but... I didn't have  that moment.  I was never visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past.  I never felt like I had to repent.

And I'm so happy about that.  SO HAPPY.  Having been through this experience now-- I take NONE of it back.  DC gave me every opportunity to think about what I was putting out into the world, and I've gotten asked questions throughout the process, questions making sure I understood and respected the characters, questions about story logic, theme, etc.  And if I didn't think hard enough on my work product, and what I put out there was ... was intellectually lazy or morally repugnant to someone else in any way, then there's no way I can pretend I didn't deserve the "snark" (or as I like to call it, "entertainment")  that I get in retaliation, even if I disagree with that person or how they draw their conclusions.  And that would only be my fault, and no one else's, not snark, not "The Internet", and especially not Lee Harvey Oswald, who loved the smell of cookies coming out of the oven, which I think you'll agree the Warren Commission completely overlooked....

Plus, I just really, really don' want to repent-- this is such goddamn fun and I don't want FEELINGZ to get in the way of that. So, I guess what I'm saying, if anything, I really hope that this experience has only made me a worse and more unfeeling monster than I was before.

In conclusion: No comeuppance!

"Lee Harvey, you are a madman. When you stole that cow, and your friend tried to make it with the cow. I want to party with you, cowboy." -- John Winger.

"Drying in the cold sun -- watching as the frilly panties run."  -- William Shakespeare.

Spurgeon interviews Hibbs

Over at The Comics Reporter. Tom pitched it to me as "Stump the Hibbs", though he veered away from that pretty fast once we were talking.

I wish the first question hadn't been The First question, because, upon reflection, I would have questioned the very basis of a Vertigo/Art comics split -- selling comics to adults is selling comics to adults, and there's a point where you have to Let The Market Decide. Still, it was The First question, and you're still feeling each other out at that point...

I truly don't understand why one would want to categorize things that tightly -- and I don't think those kinds of divisions make a lick of sense in 2010 (if they made any sense ever in the first place) -- if someone can cogently explain the difference between, say, Peter Bagge's OTHER LIVES and the latest HATE ANNUAL, which were released within weeks of each other this year, then maybe I'd get it. AFAIK, OTHER LIVES is "creator owned", and, presumably, is given Peter what he feels is a "equal or better deal" that he'd get from another publisher, so who cares WHO the publisher actually IS? When was the last time you said "Y'know what I want to see? A Miramax movie"?

Anyway, go read, and feel free to comment here, since Tom doesn't have a comments section. He usually reads here though, so good odds of having both of us see your comments....


Comic Book Geek Speak podcast with Hibbs

I should have mentioned this earlier in the week, but I Forgot.

The gents at Comic Book Geek Speak have be back yet again, and I get all pontificatey in episode #777, which you can listen to here: http://www.comicgeekspeak.com/episodes/comic_geek_speak-999.php



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!


The Debut Switcheroo: Jeff Advocates Cthulhu Tales #10 for Entirely Self-Serving Reasons

Um. So, I wanted to talk about last week's Previews. More specifically, page 225:

CTHULHU TALES #12 by William Messner-Loebs, Jeff Lester, Jeremy Rock & Chee

Jeff Lester pens "Reunion Tour," what is probably our favorite Cthulhu Tale to date, a story melding rock and roll, age-old partnerships, unnameable beasts from the dimensions beyond time and space, and flight attendants! Also, William Messner-Loebs returns to Cthulhu Tales with a short story of chilling horror!

Honestly, as solicitation text for my comic book debut go, I couldn't be more fortunate...except for one tiny, nagging detail: my story isn't in Cthulhu Tales #12. It's been moved up to Cthulhu Tales #10.

And so, rather than an extended, perfectly planned and executed series of posts in which I woo you into purchasing my first story, I have to go with the last minute, flat-out shameless pitch: please purchase Cthulhu Tales #10, coming out in January. (You can use order code OCT083937.) Although it's long past the date for initial orders, if you go to your retailer, tell them you want a copy of the issue (and give 'em this code: OCT083937), they can proably still reserve you a front-row seat for my transition from "guy who talks too much on the Internet" to "guy whose characters hopefully don't talk too much on the printed page."

Here's the splash for the story (every time I try to bump the size a bit higher it breaks the page, so...):

From CE

I chose this panel because Chee, the artist, did such an amazing job with blacks, whites and particularly (what looks to my untrained eyes as) those grey washes, that the editors decided to run the story in black and white, and I hope you can at least see a little bit of that here.

This panel is also the closest I get to sounding like classic Lovecraft, so it may not be entirely representative of the story as a whole. The other stuff is a bit more like this:

So... you know. If you enjoy my writing on this site (as well as the humor stuff I've done over here), I think you'll dig this. You know your comics store better than mine, but most stores don't stock Cthulhu Tales in Avengers-sized quantities, so if you're interested, you might be better served by going to the retailer (with this code: OCT083937) and trying to get 'em to order a copy in advance from whatever amount over the initial orders Boom! printed.

Again: Cthulhu Tales #10. Order code OCT083937. Coming out in January.

Thank you. Apart from a brief notice the week the issue comes out, I promise not to do any additional shilling here.

(Oh, and speaking of last week's Previews, if you check out the IDW section, you'll see Hibbs has a second volume of Tilting At Windmills coming out. I'm hoping he'll talk here about that one sooner or later. We were amused we both had stuff in the same issue of Previews, though.)

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!

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, comicsworthreading.com, 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.

When is Self-Promotion Not Self-Promotion? Jeff and the Second Season of Sam & Max.

I am appallingly bad at self-promotion--saying something that sounds even remotely boastful makes me feel like an utter a-hole. 

Accordingly, I suppose I should feel grateful for the circumstances surrounding the first episode of Sam & Max's second season, Ice Station Santa, premiering on Gametap just a few weeks from now: I worked on the dialogues for the first episode (along with the talented and terrifyingly young Ian Dallas) but can't honestly tell you how much of my material made it in. Telltale has released three gameplay videos, excerpts of scenes for which I did the early drafts, and the percentage of the material I recognize as mine runs anywhere from 30% to 80%. For a panoply of reasons, this second gig was a lot harder than my first, and I was pretty sure when my contract was finished that stuff would end up rewritten. (Hey, that's the freelancer life for ya...)


So even if I was capable of exhorting people who enjoy my writing to check out Ice Station Santa, I'm not sure it would be entirely cricket for me to do so. However, there are a variety of non-me reasons to be excited about Season 2 of Sam & Max if you're a fan of the characters.


First, while working on the first episode of Season Two I had the opportunity to see some of the projected plans for the other episodes, and I think Telltale has done a great job of coming up with stories and locations for this season that nail that crazy Steve Purcellian sweet spot Sam & Max fans crave.


Second, Telltale brought Chuck Jordan on full-time and I believe he's doing the bulk of the dialogues for the second season. The man's work on Season One's Abraham Lincoln Must Die! really knocked me on my ass, and I'm totally in awe of him. As a fan, I couldn't have hoped for better news.


Third, Gametap is currently offering the above-mentioned episode on their free player. I think I read somewhere that Telltale may be following suit, but for now this is a great way for you to see what I'm talking about without having to pay out any cash.

Fourth, Gametap may or may not be still having an anniversary sale, making it super-cheap to sign up for the service for a year and play not just Sam & Max episodes as they're released, but a slew of other great games. Sadly, the site is so damn slow on my work browser I can't tell you for sure if the sale's still going, but I can say that any service that allows me to play the Atari 2600 version of Adventure, Sonic The Hedgehog, Super Puzzle Fighter, Sega's Typing of the Dead, and the Sam & Max games on any computer in my home is worth it even at the non-sale price. But go poke around their site if you get a chance and see if it's still going on.

And, finally, I did write some funny lines for Ice Station Santa--funny enough that even a low-self-esteemer like me feels confident they made it in--and the episode has a great, high-concept premise which it looks like the Telltale crew did a great job of developing visually. Regardless of my role in it, I hope fans of the characters check out this series if they haven't already.