Enough about me, let's talk about me:

But first, let's remember to preserve our planet's future for LAST WEEK'S REVIEWS:

Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #2 (of 6), Drawn and Quarterly Vol 3, Milk and Cheese #1

Astonishing X-Men #1-4, Jimbo: Adventures in Paradise by Gary Panter (this Jimbo book is worth the effort to seek out!)

Marvel Boy

Give these reviews a lot of love and sunlight!

*My stack of stuff to read is a big one. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. You’d be shocked at the sight of it, my friend, and you’d ask me why I continue to spend money on new comics when I’m not particularly close to finishing the ones that I already own. I’d tell you to take a look at my dvd pile, and then your eyes would fall out.

There’s two recent events that have put me into this state of reflection. First, I just finished reading the latest "Comics Journal" today. It came out weeks ago. It’s a big issue, and there’s a ton of stuff in it, and the Journal always takes a while to read, but it shouldn’t take me weeks. This is a trend with me. I still haven’t finished their Comics Journal Library volume on Frank Miller yet. I didn’t even buy the Robert Crumb one, tough I still want it.

Secondly, I have still yet to crack “Persepolis 2”. Well, ok, that’s not totally accurate. I’ve flipped through it. But I haven’t even begin seriously reading it, but there it is, happily peeking out from under my copy of Jeffrey Brown’s “Unlikely”, which I bought weeks ago. And these books are young turks, recent immigrants into the tenement homes of my ‘to read’ piles. That copy of Al Davison’s “The Spiral Cage” is an old timer. And that collection of older “American Splendor” strips, with the movie tie-in cover! I got that before the movie came out! Long before I saw it. So looking at “Persepolis 2”, I’m reminded that not only am I slow to finish reading things, but I’m prone to not beginning things, and leaving them around to fester.


The first and most obvious reason is that I don’t really have a lot of free time anymore. I have enough time to write stuff in this blog, and I have enough time to read the week’s comics, and I have enough time to watch the occasional movie or go out with friends or try to write some fiction once in a while, but that’s the max. And yet, I still make time for things I really want to do. There’s something deeper.

Regarding new books, and working with a stack of things to read, I’ve found that excitement plays a big role in getting me to read stuff. I certainly intended to read “Persepolis 2” soon after I bought it (although I bought it almost by surprise; I didn’t know it was out in bookstores yet, and it certainly wasn’t out in comic shops) but then all the reviews poured in, some of them pretty mixed, and other exciting books came out, and my interest declined a bit. Never enough to make me regret buying the thing. I don’t regret anything sitting there on my pile; it‘s only after I read books and find them lacking that I find them to be regrettable purchases. But my interest went south enough to make me think: “Well, maybe later.” And it’s now much later, and there’s the book peering out like a kitten, and here I am.

I’ve found that collecting books in a series affects me in a similar way. I get volumes 1-3 of Grant Morrison’s run on “JLA” and I don’t really want to get too into the flow, or I’ll get anxious to read the rest of it (which I don’t own) and I don’t have the money to get the rest of it right now so I’ll stew on it for a while, and then by the time I can get the remainder of the story I need to refresh myself as to what’s gone before, and so on and so on. Interestingly, I usually only get this feeling when there’s volumes available to buy; I’ll start reading “Doom Patrol” now since the rest of the trades haven’t come out yet.

Ah, me and my stack. Someday I’ll catch up. It’s funny that I’m interested in every last book on that pile. I wouldn’t buy anything that I wasn’t interested in. But there’s such differing levels of ‘interest’ to go by…


Paul O’Brien lets us know where we stand at 1/6 of the way through Chris Claremont’s “X-Men: The End”:

Apparently there's a plague which is causing mutants to lose their powers. It seems to have been going for a while, and you might have thought we'd have heard about it before issue #3. There's a completely new subplot with Dani Moonstar in Neverland, and another one with minor characters from the spin-off books (M and X-23, of all people) hunting down Sage, who in turn seems to have something in mind involving Malice. And what does all this have to do with the return of Phoenix? Uh... Well, Sinister seems to think that the return of Phoenix is going to hasten... something or other... so he's going to do... something. The X-Men are... kind of hanging around, vaguely hoping that a plot will become apparent to them. And Jean is lounging around on a spaceship waiting for... er, for something to happen. Basically, other than Sinister (who won't explain what's going on), nobody has a clue what's happening, and indeed nothing seems to be happening, other than everyone having a general sense of urgency seemingly unrelated to anything that might actually be happening.”

Sounds like a real ‘zinger’ of a story! Paul has a super jumbo-sized review feast up today, and all are welcome to partake!

*The latest new blogging trend is ‘favorite moments in comics’ which began on the Comics Journal Message Board and spread to the Greater Internet. I already contributed to the Journal thread itself, but let me expand on my original picks:

1. The first time the Rat Creatures chase Fone Bone and Thorn through the woods in "Bone":

First impressions are important. I had heard about “Bone” in “Wizard” and saw an ad for the first trade on the back cover of an issue of Image‘s “Shadowhawk” so I got my Mom to buy it for me. It was the first self-published book I’d ever gotten my hands on. This scene occurs near the end of the book, and it blew my mind. It was funny and cartoonish yet violent (not gory) and frightening. The Rat Creatures were particularly well-balanced between humorous goons and vicious animals at that early point in the story. If nothing else, this sequence made me realize that non-Big Company comics could be really damn good too.

2. The last words in the last panel in the last installment of Chris Ware’s “Rocket Sam”:

He will pick them all.

“Rocket Sam” was one of the two big stories (“Big Tex” being the other) that Ware worked on throughout the two Big Book of Jokes issues of “Acme Novelty Library”. There was lot of assorted “Rusty Brown” material scattered throughout too, which was also excellent. I’m so glad that all of this stuff will soon be collected into book form under the “Acme Novelty Library” title by Pantheon soon, because it all deserves to be read. “Rocket Sam” is a pulp sci-fi story about a stranded astro-hero who builds robots to aid him in his isolation. But his self-loathing prevents him from ever appreciating what his artificial creations do for him, or at least what they try to do, and he falls into a rut of despair and abuse. But he is his creations’ God and father, and they love him very much, and they know he knows best. It’s humor of only the darkest brand, and it builds to a stunningly beautiful and terrible finale of total devotion and the passing on of violence to successive generations. Those last words (you’ll have to see the context for yourself) are like a kick to the throat. Marvelous!

3. The close-up of Dave Sim’s eye right before the Viktor Davis segment of “Reads” kicks off:

As if to explicitly mark off where the story’s going to start getting a little… wild. Everybody and their kitten knows about “Reads”, that most controversial volume of “Cerebus”, and it’s suffice to note that the image of Sim’s eye can be ‘read’ in almost any way you choose. Is it filled with hesitancy at where the book is about to go? Or determination, and a steeling of the soul, since the book is about to dive very deep indeed, and the turning point is just now past.

4. The last page of “Elektra: Assassin”:

Frank Miller’s rollicking nightmare party of Sexy Ninja Death (as Brian Hibbs would say) and masculine introspection and Them Crazy Politics is the best thing he’s ever written. I’ve always felt that “DK2” was an attempt to recapture the same caffeinated satire glory, and while I’m actually rather fond of “DK2” it didn’t have Bill Sienkiewicz going for broke on every page. And the last page pulls it all together, the final whoopee-cushion for Our United States to sit on, the Cold War resolved in the way only superhero fantasy can do it, or maybe it’s the only way superhero fantasy can do it…

5. Quimby the Mouse walking down the stairs and disassembling the hospital bed:

Yep. More Chris Ware. This one’s out of “Quimby the Mouse”. When I read this as serialized in “Acme” I had no clue what it was all about. I thought the whole issue was style for style’s sake. But in a collected edition, it all gelled. It’s an amazingly emotional moment. It’s almost abstract, heavily symbolic, even obscure, but there’s such feeling behind it. The level of Ware’s skill seems to distract some readers from how passionate it is, how emotional. I read comments claiming that his work is chilly or distanced and I don’t agree at all. Ware’s heart is rarely anywhere but on his sleeve; he just needs to stretch the boundaries of the comics language to properly express himself. Less sophistication just wouldn’t do the emotion justice.

Say, let’s add a few more!

6. “Spectacular Spider-Man” issue #143:

I’ll have to paraphrase here. Spidey and The Punisher have just finished a battle with villains, including some psychic dork in a white jumpsuit who’s working for the Kingpin. Frank, true to his nature, shoots the bastard, who‘d been trying to brainwash him. In disbelief, Spidey shouts something like: “What the hell was that?! We could have gotten him to testify in court! We could have gotten evidence from him on the Kingpin, and all his cronies! And you just shot him!!!” Frank is not amused, and mutters something to the tune of: “Scum deserve to die. I‘ll get to the Kingpin and his cronies myself.

I was seven or eight when I read this. It really drilled into my head the conflict between differing levels of ’heroism’ at play in the world. It also (on a more direct, little kid level) made me think that Frank was such a bad-ass, telling off the star of the book, just like that! Truly a noted formative experience in the young fan’s mind.

7. The angry misanthrope ’hero’ of Dan Clowes’ short story “MCMLXVI” (collected in the “Caricature” book) tells us that he’s recently gotten into watching terrible old exploitation pictures from days gone by, and he explains why he can’t stand seeing them in public: “I used to like to go to see these movies in the theater, but I got sick of all the fucking assholes in the audiece who would laugh at everything… I genuinely love this stuff”:

‘Nuff said!

*Perhaps you remember my exploring Avatar's December solicitations and noting that the Alan Moore "Yuggoth Cultures" colection would feature 50 pages of bonus stuff. Well, turns out that some of those pages will house Alan David Doane's interview with Mr. Moore himself from a few months back! Very cool news.