Assorted things.

*Sad news: writer/editor/publisher Byron Preiss was killed in an auto accident yesterday afternoon. Preiss will be best known to readers of this site as the publisher of the 1978 Samuel Delany/Howard Chaykin book Empire, an early original graphic novel and an ahead-of-its-time example of what is today known as ‘widescreen’ comics. He was most recently involved in comics publishing as president of ibooks. Jim Steranko has released a memorial essay, with several others providing reminisce. May he rest in peace.

*Tired out from my big Urasawa/Tezuka piece yesterday, and yet I’m still hyped to do more scanlation-related stuff; I’ve got two series I’m reading now, so we’ll see. Actually, quite a lot of manga material is going on here; I’ve got another two manga-related pieces readied for places other than this site, and one of them (maybe both, I don’t know) will probably be appearing sometime this week. More on all that later.

*Desolation Jones #2 is out this Wednesday, if things hold up. In honor of this occasion, Warren Ellis has posted a short set of annotations for issue #1 on his site. Obviously a must-read for fans.

*And speaking of Ellis, Jim Henley (largely a politics blogger but prone to interesting trips into the world of comics) covers Planetary and muses on the logical incompatibility of the various all-powerful secret conspiracies that seem to be controlling the Wildstorm universe simultaneously (“In the Wildstorm Comics Universe, secret rulership of the earth must be some timeshare proposition.”) Frankly, the situation reminds me of the state of the DCU circa 1991 when writers like Gaiman and Morrison were busting out all sorts of cosmic controllers of life and fate and all of that, not to mention the leftovers from Alan Moore’s tour of duty. Eventually, they all got shunted over to Vertigo and everyone tried to forget that this stuff actually took place in the DCU; it’s just a lot easier that way. And now it seems that Wildstorm is employing the same brand of conscientious amnesia, without even birthing a special line of books. I like it that way, and I expect Jim does too, but it’s amusing stuff to consider; how would WildC.A.T.S/Sleeper’s Tao and Planetary’s Not Reed Richards (sorry, I forget the name Ellis gave him) get along?

*At the grocery store today, the checkout lady was stretching to collect all of the cans set down by the woman in front of me.

"Woah," she said, "I could use a set of rubber arms!"

Why do I get the feeling that she's making reference to the Fantastic Four movie? Knowledge of superhero traits enter the common language sometimes, but 'rubber arms' is a pretty specialized one. It's not like Batman: my partner at work refers to our office as 'The Batcave,' and he's not a comics fan at all. But Batman is not just a comics character. Maybe Reed Richards will prove to be the same? The cartoons haven't helped him much so far, but don't underestimate the power of the Hollywood Blockbuster, especially one that looks primed to snap the industry out of its months-long slump. I've also noticed quite a few comics-centric sites noting that the film isn't nearly as bad as it's being made out to be in oft-brutal reviews by established critics. Well, it's looking like we'll be getting similar superhero movies in the near future if these returns hold up...