Questions from people named Dave (also: new comics)

In fact, let's start with THIS WEEK'S COMICS:

Palooka Ville #17: Ah, this must be the latest chapter of "Clyde Fans", Seth's ongoing salesmen epic. It's part three, chapter two, for those with scorecards. The first half of the story (parts one and two, of three chapters each) is out in a lovely hardcover from Drawn and Quarterly. Buy that book (NOT the older softcover which ONLY collects part one) and snap up issue #16 and this new one, and you're all caught up.

Lore #4: As far as Ashley Wood goes, this is a pretty accessible book, involving mythical beast invading our world through magical misuse. Perhaps co-writer T.P. Louise is keeping Mr. Wood a bit more down-to-earth on the plotting front? This is a double-sized issue, hence the $6 price tag. Sure to look good, and I'm waiting for more of those prose interludes! From IDW.

Metal Gear Solid #1: More Wood art, this time adapting the video game from a script by Kris Oprisko (of various "CSI" comics that IDW has been putting out). I'm probably not picking this up, but these preview pages seem to indicate a blocky quality in Wood's art, in a possible attempt to emulate the polygon look of the PS1. Interesting.

Joe R Lansdale's By Bizarre Hands #4 (of 6): Avatar continues their series of adaptations of Lansdale short stories. This time, it's "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back" with art by Indian comics veteran Dheeraj Verma, who also did the honors in issue #1. Sure to be distracting.

Metal Hurlant #13: Still a full-color 64-page beast for only $4. Sadly, there doesn't appear to be any Jodorowsky stuff in here, but it does feature a story with art by "V for Vendetta" co-creator David Lloyd and Snakebite of "The Red Star". And all the usual continuing stuff (like more Guy Davis).

A Cubic Shitload of New 2099 Books: I'm not even going to name them all. Robert Kirkman writes five different future-time Marvel superhero books, none of which have anything to do with the prior 2099 line other than a recognizable brand. I guess huge Kirkman fans will want to check 'em out, but I'm not feeling the appeal.

*First up on today's questions, we have David Carter from Yet Another Comics Blog:

1. Peanut butter: crunchy or smooth?

Crunchy. Easily. Especially on a nice bagel. I like smooth peanut butter too, but crunchy just gives my teeth more to do. I like the texture.

2. The year is 2014: what does the comics market look like?

Marvel and DC are still firing away, but they've upped production of what we'd normally call Original Graphic Novels, as a substitute for ongoing arcs in several books. The floppy will still be around, especially for the Big Icons, but more and more B-Character miniseries or spin-offs are being released as complete volumes.

Seeing as how it's 10 years in the future I'm not sure how the issue-by-issue pacing will go; I think the often stretched-out six issue arc style of plotting is already nearing a breaking point. I would hope that the current popular style of pacing will have changed to the 'cumulative' style, as I'll call it: a number of one or two issue stories with recurring subplots and story elements building from one issue to the next, though each storyline essentially stands alone. There would have to be a more defined ending point for these gradually-building stories though, to prevent a Claremont-esque accumulation of abandoned/barely-acknowledged tangents, and to provide a guideline to trade collection. Often it feels that today's superhero comics are witnessing the cart of the trade collection driving the horses of plot, with stories that can't really support six issues stretched out. But ten years is a long time in the Internet Reaction Age. We may see a full-blown reversion to done-in-one storytelling on certain books.

Meanwhile, the inevitable cooling of the manga market has left a bit more room for non-Big Two books to obtain shelf space. I'm not sure if the Big Two will have much more bookstore presence in ten years than they have today; I think there will be a growing focus (well, even more than there already is) on the chain bookstore market by independent publishers with the Direct Market serving as the crucible for Big Superhero evolution. But I suspect the more successful Comic Shops will lean ever heavier toward the trade market, perhaps resembling a more concentrated, specialized version of the comics section at your local Borders, with added pop-culture doodads and games and magazines and the like.

3. Did you get any Calfornia rolls at the sushi bar last night?

No sir! I did get an Alaska Roll, though, so you're just a little too far south. Stuff's great with wasabi and soy sauce. This is in addition to my hunk of eel and some strange thin roll that got baked and covered in ginger. I forget what it was called but it was good. I considered getting a Quail Egg since it was only $1, but no.

4. Which author is best suited to write the Bildungsroman based on your life?

Oh, totally Thomas Pynchon. I'd have to be something like "V." where the story more or less follows me around but there's a large supporting cast who exemplify different aspects of the times, and there's constant digressions to the past (that, of course, informs the present) courtesy of the experiences of other characters, or whatever dvd I'm watching on a particular page. I'd also guess that given the jobs and activities I've worked at as a young person (newspaper, pizza delivery, government, college debate, comics blogging) there couldn't not be a strong element of cultural-historical satire. I'm not sure how this fits into the Bildungsroman style; I guess it's a very 'adorned' English Bildungsroman.

Heh. Maybe I just want Pynchon to throw in all sorts of historical and cultural information to distract from how boring the damn thing is.

5. Hulk vs. Thor: who wins?

Thor. Even if Hulk isn't the HULK SMASH Hulk, I'd guess that Thor would have some sort of edge in tactical thinking. Just keep Hulk at a distance and keep on throwing that hammer!


Endemic Treponematosis Sucks.


*And next, the good Mr. Dave Intermittent:

1. What is the worst Grant Morrison comic you've read?

Often the stock answer to this is either "The Mystery Play" or "Arkham Asylum", and I'm not going to provide much of a surprise, I'm afraid. I've never read "The Mystery Play".

I blogged a few days ago about how Morrison wrote a letter dated 1988 in an early issue of "Doom Patrol", decrying "angst-ridden" and "grittily realistic" superhero comics. Interestly, "Arkham Asylum" was released after that letter. Like I posted as Ian's the other day, I've always seen "Arkham Asylum" as the archetypical post-"Dark Knight"/"Watchmen" VERY SERIOUS superhero story. It's not 'realistic' per se, but there's a heavy focus on the psychological states of the "Batman" cast, with a tendency toward the over-analysis that's common in SERIOUS superhero books that exhibit a certain degree of insecurity in being superhero books. Dave McKean certainly adds to the tone. I love McKean's work, but he really lathers on the shadow and aggressive mood here, and combined with Morrison's script the book comes off as just the sort of distracted angsty thing that Morrison generally dislikes (I'm pretty sure that the book was not written with McKean in mind, and he was placed on the book by DC to help hype his and Neil Gaiman's "Black Orchid" mini). It's really sort of stultifying, even given the already agnst-prone "Batman" ensemble of the post-DKR era. And beyond that, there were some basic pacing problems too. The finale is abrupt and seemingly arbitrary; a good ten extra pages might have been needed to flesh things out.

Morrison has done a lot of emphasizing the fun and 'pop' in his work since then. And I think he works a lot better with heavy doses of humor interjected into the mix.

2. In 2014, will the cool kids be just as sick of manga cliches as they are of superhero cliches today?

Oh yes. I'm not very connected to what's going on in Japanese manga fandom (not speaking Japanese being a slight obstruction) so I wonder if there are complaints and movements against typical domestic cliches. I expect there are. And I expect that some US fans will also adopt harsher stances against Japanese comics cliches; it's just that many of these complaints will come from longtime manga readers rather than sceptical supporters of different comics styles. At that point, there may be some interesting developments in evolving Japanese tropes within America as informed by an American setting, and it will be fun to compare these artistic cultures with then-current Japanese growths of their own domestic iconography.

3. Is there a worse punishment in Hell than being forced to read an alternate version of Identity Crisis as rewritten by John Byrne?

Reading John Byrne's message board posts on the topic of his revamp, of course!

4. Why the pseudonym?

Once upon a time, I was playing one of those 'shoot the gun at the things on-screen' arcade games, which I still love. It came time to shoot at the alphabet on the screen to enter in my initials. Instead of initials, I tried to fire out my first name, but the gun went haywire and the 'g' was hit rather than the 'e'. My friends and I were greatly amused by this (since there weren't any shiny objects around to distract us) and I proceed to enter in the initials JOG in every arcade game I'd ever play again. I then began to use the initials as a name, 'Jog', on the Internet, and I just sort of kept doing it.

And Jog rhymes with Blog! That's perfect! Or immensely corny! Either one is good!

5. The worst highway in America is?

Route 81, which is a big road extending right from the Ontario border all the way down to near Atlanta, Georgia. Actually, I'm sure it's a really handy road, and I've barely seen more than 300 miles of it. I'm just mad I got stuck crawling through 8 miles of single-lane construction traffic the other day. I didn't say my answers would be fair.