Your weekend is GONE.

*That was nice. Pennsylvania once again demonstrates its dominance over all comers upon the national stage, and I hardly even had to watch any of the game. Then I got home and spent an inordinate amount of time wrestling with a can of kippered herring, which managed to destroy my only can opener but couldn’t withstand the vengeful might of my kitchen scissors. I still have all of my fingers too, which will make today’s post all the more jovial.

*The new Entertainment Weekly (#862/863) is devoted mostly to the Oscars, but they also opted to cover some comics in the back, providing an amusing ‘writers of other media tackle comics’ sidebar in the Books section. Coming out on top are issue #1 of Damon Lindelof’s Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk ("In one scene, Hulk hosts an orgy; in another, he rips in two the self-healing Wolverine… [c]onsider us intrigued.") and the debut chapter of Denise Mina’s run on Hellblazer (“Mina‘s vivid slang and pervasive dread work wonders for grown-up comics.”), both of which EW editorial has opted to award ‘A-’ grades (as usual, keep in mind that all of these little reviews are written by entirely different critics - it’s not one writer making comparisons). Also up are Douglas Rushkoff’s Testament (‘B’ - “…Rushkoff’s Sunday-school lessons are fresher than his Big Brother paranoia.”) and the Etgar Keret-written anthology Jetlag, from the Actus Tragicus comics collective (‘B-’ - “After traveling across multiple time zones, the reader lands with a splitting headache.”).

Also: film critic Owen Gleiberman did not much like the Dan Clowes-penned Art School Confidential film (which played Sundance), dubbing it “derivative and inflated” though conceding there’s a few nice bits of satire. Really though, the most interesting piece of comics-related info came from Lawrence Frascella, presenting information gathered for his upcoming book on Rebel Without a Cause (written with Al Weisel); apparently, James Dean’s regular on-set companion Jack Simmons once proposed to Jack Larson, television’s Jimmy Olsen, that the trio engage in a three-way. The offer was declined.

*Really been digging through the back-issues and trades recently. I’m currently in the middle of two separate happy distractions - an Eddie Campbell re-reading, and a Warren Ellis (1994-1998) kick. With the former, I’ve already discovered that it’s quite useful to read Alec: The King Canute Crowd and Alec: How to be an Artist back-to-back, as the periods they cover overlap somewhat, and the latter deals in a fair amount of visual/textual citation of the former. Plus, Campbell’s decision to include the creation of The King Canute Crowd itself in the context of How to Be an Artist while simultaneously retaining fictional character names and carrying over personalities from one book to the next creates the mildly intoxicating impression that ‘Alec MacGarry’ is literally creating himself via some strange metafiction loophole, which is lots of fun.

They’re also in certain ways two very different works, one of them rambling around through the late ’70s as young Alec has many adventures and drinks with his friends, the timeline becoming more hazy and the storytelling more fluttery as the pages pass by, while the other is determinedly straightforward in its stride through time and Alec’s experiences with the comics scene, though no less anecdotal. How to be an Artist is also (by necessity of its subject matter) crazy about examining other works - one of the very best scenes sees the storytelling momentarily stop as panels from all of Campbell’s favorite older cartoons parade across the page, and it’s a fine moment. As thousands have said prior to me, both are very much worth your time.

The Ellis stuff, most of it uncollected after its initial pamphlet airing, is as mixed a bag as one would expect, though there's some standouts, like the mind-searing existence of Celestine, a 2-issue, 1996 miniseries that Ellis wrote for Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studios; it’s actually a sequel to Alan Moore’s Violator Vs. Badrock miniseries, utilizing the Moore-created (and, according to the legal indicia, copyright and trademark Moore) title character, a crazed, violent angel of vengeance. It’s basically a black comedy, with the now-deceased angel being sent to Hell for her many murders, since even murdering in the name of God (and apparently on God’s direct orders) is murder, and murder is a sin, and stiff upper lip and all that. It’s not the regular Hell either - it’s kind of a semi-Hell, featuring such sights as the Lake of the Useless (“…contains those souls who, upon Earth, were especially crap.”) and the Hallway of the Undecided. The place is run by some scantly-clad woman who really isn’t into the whole ‘Hell’s discipline’ thing (“…I mean, you’re already in Hell -- what else can I do to you?”). Celestine tries to break out, while agents of both Heaven and Hell proper try to prevent her escape, because really nobody liked her much anyway.

It's a genuinely funny little thing, adopting the stance of the earlier Moore miniseries in not taking anything very seriously and slipping in little bits of comment whenever possible. I wonder if Moore still retains the rights to the character Celestine (I'm sure there were some contractual provisions as to her use)? As an added treat for industry watchers, the pencils are by Pat (credited as 'Patrick') Lee, later of Dreamwave Productions, with inks by four parties, one of them being a Mike Miller; I'm not sure if this is the same Mike (S.) Miller that heads Alias Enterprises, but the prospect of both of the future heads of these companies teaming up on an Alan Moore-derived Warren Ellis book from the studio of Rob Liefeld is almost too much to bear.