What scares you

I was standing around Ben's schoolyard the other morning talking with the first graders while waiting for the morning bell to ring, and one of them announced to me that they were afraid of squirrels (first graders are really cute with what will just pop out of their mouths) (She had been bitten by a squirrel a few weeks before apparently, so I can get behind that)

So I started asking the kids what they were all scared of -- I have a very mild fear of heights (more like I get dizzy), and Ben said "Ghost Galaxy!" (I think we'll come back to that), one little boy said people dressed as zombies, and another said spiders, but the one that tugged at my heart was the precious little girl who declared it was "Jesus"

I blinked rapidly.

"Um, honey, why are you scared of Jesus, he's supposed to be very nice and said everyone should be friendly to everyone else."

"Yes, but he's part of God, and God is very very very big, and we're like ants to him."


ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE: RECORDED ATTACKS: Another thing that scares me is the notion that book publishers are going to come into comics not having the slightest idea of what they're doing. This was proven to me with this volume from Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House.

I really really really liked Max Brook's WORLD WAR Z -- more for its scope of history and world building and just plain thinking about the impact of the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse on the whole of the world than about the zombies themselves; heck, I like it so much I even bought the audiobook version (truncated as it is, it has some excellent performances -- Alan Alda FTW!), so I'm pretty hip to the idea of a GN extension of that world. The premise is to show various Zombie attacks, all before modern times, and how other cultures and historical periods would have dealt with them (I'm iffy on the Caveman one, just from a Reasoning POV, but the rest are clever)

However, take a look at that cover. Here's a copy of it.

Notice anything odd about that?

Think about it a moment.

For the slow among you: Max Brooks is "just" a writer (at least as far as I know) -- and he certainly didn't draw the book. YET THE ARTIST'S NAME IS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND ON THE FRONT COVER (or spine, for that matter)

There's a little small line on the BACK cover about how the book is "illustrated by" Ibraim Roberson, but it's all just an afterthought in the marketing copy. Even in the indicia page (or whatever they call that page in proper books) Roberson's name is in a smaller type size than the ISBN number.

The weird thing to me is that this was apparently changed at some point in the production process -- here's the Random House website with the cover as it was solicited -- and Roberson's name is right there on the front cover where it should be. Some Marketing (probably) person made a conscious decision to remove Roberson's name from the book.

Here's the thing: in comics, there's no such thing as "illustrated by" -- the artist (or artistS, since penciller, inker, and colorist are all common components) is either an equal, or, in some cases, greater-than participant in the creative process as the writer. Especially in a book like this which has lots and lots and lots of silent sequences.

For all I know Max Brook's script is very very detailed, dictating "camera position" and exact details and everything so that "any" artist could have done exactly the same work... but from what I know about comics production, that seems pretty darn unlikely to me. In fact, in a lot of ways, the text seems a bit divorced from the sequential story-telling, almost as if Brooks just wrote some (very) short prose chapters and left it at that. I don't know.

But I do know that "comics" is "Words AND Pictures working together", and to not credit the artist on the front cover or spine is, in my opinion, horrifically disrespectful, and utterly screwed up.

The book itself is a low GOOD, being mostly vignettes that don't add together, and being, let's be charitible, outrageously expensive at $17 for a black & white paperback, which should be selling 10s of thousands of units based on the Author's cachet.


So far for three years running, Ben and I take an annual "father and son" trip; and, so far, each year we head down to Disneyland. Ben's an October baby, so we're always there for the Halloween decorations at Disneyland, especially the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on The Haunted Mansion (which is 99 flavors of awesome, I got to tell you).

This year Ben was (finally!) tall enough to ride the Indiana Jones ride, and he DUG IT -- we went on it three times before the lines got too long to make it "worth it"

We go midweek on a week with no holidays or anything, hoping for the least lines possible, but this year it was absolutely packed. I'm thinking the "get in free on your birthday" promotion is REALLY working, because I saw a TON of people wearing "It's my birthday" pins. Also, there's a marked rush at about 3 PM, making me think a lot of locals have annual passes, and come by after school for a ride or three.

We did little this year that we didn't do other years -- I still can't get Ben to consent to the Twilight Zone ride, though we did get on Soaring Over California as our last ride of the day. Very impressive, but way not worth the hour in line that it ended up being (it was 25 minutes we we got in line, but I guess they had an army of "Fast Pass" people show up, because it took 65 minutes total)

Other than that was a new overlay on Space Mountain, called "Ghost Galaxy".

I had the vague thought that maybe they'd just replace the streaking lights with ghost shaped lights or something. Maybe change the sound track a bit.

You couldn't tell what it might be from the outside of the ride, since they couldn't be bothered to change the entry whatsoever -- and, seriously, walking through that 1970s edifice to futurism is about as unghostly as one might get. There WAS a sign or two that said "small children might find this frightening", but hell, Indy says THAT, and Ben was grinning and cackling through Indy.

Not on Ghost Galaxy. He was as white as a sheet at the end, and said, in a very quiet voice, "I never want to go on that again as long as I live, Daddy"

Dig that he LOVED Space Mountain last year, AND as a four year old too.

Ghost Galaxy basically just projects "gory" spirits up on the walls -- there's no blood, per se, but they're colored blood red. As an adult, it's utterly laughable, but it freaked the fuck out of Ben. It also sort of ruined the ride. Space Mountain is awesome because the ... well, I don't know what to call the moving lights... the hyperspeed effect, maybe?... really helped with the smoothness and the movement of the roller coaster part. Randomly projecting big square "ghost" portraits completely screwed up the effect. That's a ride I'll never ride again myself. AWFUL.


BLACKEST NIGHT BATMAN 1-3, and SUPERMAN #1-3: To me, the biggest sin of a crossover tie-in is to be "red skies". That is, where basically nothing really happens, except to take money from your pocket. And I kind of feel that BN crossovers are doing pretty much that -- zombies show up, get fended off, the end.

BATMAN was especially that -- there's nothing in there that "moved the needle" much, while SUPERMAN at least put up an "anti Zombie field" around "New Krypton" (that will also repel anyone else), which, I'm thinking, is going to explain why SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON is only a 12 issue mini-series. Of course, that will make WoNK a less satisfying read, perhaps, with "See something else!" as it's big conclusion.

Overall, neither was any better than OK.


The pounding in my head is starting again from all the drilling outside. Maybe THAT's what I really fear: street construction (And the loss of business from it)

What did YOU think?


Brain and brain, what is brain? Hibbs continues 4/4

Wow, how cool would it have been if "Spock's Brain" was about zombies, huh? That's my mini-theme this entry, with two zombie reviews:

MARVEL ZOMBIES / ARMY OF DARKNESS #2: I actually can't tell you how much I'd like it if that cliffhanger were true, and that was the last we saw of Ash -- what a perfect, absurd ending that would have been.

In fact, I'll even say that that last page may be my favorite last page of a comic book so far in 2007.

I also really really laughed hard and out loud at the Blob sequence, even though it was background and only a page long.

So, yeah (and I honestly don't beleive I am typing this): GOOD.

RAISE THE DEAD: Also under the auspices of Dynamite, this is a lot more pedestrian. I feel like I've read "trapped in a truck stop diner" ten thousand times before, even though I have probably not.

The characters are reasonably well voiced, the suspense level is adequate, and despite the slightly awkward, "our gun is from children" bits, this is generally compelling drama. But there's nothing, in this first issue at least, that really STANDS OUT -- nothing to differentiate this from, say, WALKING DEAD (sorry, sorry! Too obvious a compariosn, I know, but there it is). Or 20 or 30 different movies or TV episodes or something that I've watched over the years. In a genre as well-mined as "zombie survival", you need to have something DIFFERENT to get to a worn out soul like mine. And while this was competant, maybe even very much so, I didn't get much of a tingle from this first issue.

I'll check back with it, because, y'know, I own a comic book shop and I can read comics for free, but not because of "Wow! That was fresh/new/exciting!". Which is pretty much the cardinal sin for a new (ongoing? I think?) title.

A strong OK, but only OK.

What did you think?


PS: Analee liked OPTIC NERVE #11