June 27th, 2003

smokin'

The Latest from the Not-So-Greatest

A bucnh of short bits today, I have a ton of work to get to, the weather has turned from dreary rain to miserable heat here in NYC, and later tonight I am going on a field trip with the Lawgiver and the Apes to view Hong Kong Kung Fun cinema in its natural surroundings, i.e., the big screen. There's a film festival in Manhattan (no, really?) showing martial arts films and tonight they're screening One Armed Swordsman, which I haven't seen. Wow, a night out. Bet I'll ruin it thinking about deadlines.

Speaking of deadlines, my Hellboy: Weird Tales strip has been pushed back a couple of months due to my schedule being hell-dipped. My thanks to editor Scott Allie for juggling things so I can still participate.

As far as books that I've actually finished go, the second issue of the Thing mini-series shipped this week. I thought it was coming out next week, but what do I know? I just rammed through a second dialogue revision on #3 last night, which killed a day necessary to finsih the final plot pages for #4. Looming on the near horizon are a few Bizarro sequel strips and the pilot bible. I am all a-scared. Actually, I am, having tremendous trouble sleeping right now between the heat and my nerves. Feh.

This week's comic shop purchases included the new issue of Draw! (featuring an interview with my pal, Stephen DeStefano) and the latest issue of Comic Art, which features a nifty Chris Ware "In the Studio piece, a piece on Mike Sekowsky by the ubiquitous Mark Evanier (unfortunately, the fairly short article ends up being more about the JLA than the apparently somewhat mysterious Sekowsky, and really wasn't that satisfying)and some other material I haven't read yet. We also picked up the new Astro Boy volume, and I forgot that I wanted to look through the new Disney comics -- but I was distracted by the Jim Woodring harcover collection of all of his Frank stopries. Ladies, gentlemen, this is one of the finest volumes this medium will ever spit out, take my word for it, you must see this book, if not own it. If you have any interest in Woodring's work at all, you must beg, borrow or steal to obtain this tome. I love this book. I would defend this book with my own life as if it were my child. It gives me hope for the future of this medium and industry and makes me want to destroy my art supplies in rage of despair at how far short I measure up to this man's talent and this beautiful project. An amazing array of comics, gorgeous color work, breathtaking pen and ink work, wonderful reproduction, design and presentation. God in heaven, this is just great stuff.

And, oh, yeah, got the latest Previews. I think I only saw three or four things in it that I really want, every month there's less stuff I'm interested in it seems, but what I do want, I want with the hunger of a thousand orphans. This month -- Fantagraphics strikes back with two more oversized monster hardcover offerings -- the first being the companion to the Bernie Krigstein biography, a thick collection of his comics work, re-colored by Marie Severin. The second is the long-awaited WIll Elder book, which I am waiting for the way some people mark time before being let out of prison.

I didn't pick anything up at Mocca, sad to say. Partly because I didn't get to walk around much due to how busy we were at the table, partly because I geta discount at my local shop and these things do pile up and endanger the paying of bills. The big buzz book seemed to be Craig Thompson's Blankets, which I will most likely check out. I admire his artowkr very much and there's some nice comments floating around on the project. I'm a bit cautious, though, because Goodbye , CHunky Rice was heavily hyped, and while I liked it, I didn't find it anywhere near as relevatory or earth-shaking as some did. I also flipped through Top Shelf Answers the Big Questions (or whatever the silly title is) , at the comic shop, which looked half-interesting, half-huh? Ditto the new Kramer's Ergot. Y'know, not to sound like a jerk, I think there's some really exciting work being done by the latest wave of young cartoonists, but am I the only one out there who's wondering if people are getting too worked up over packaging and format and printing and not getting behind delivering actual content these days? I swear all I keep hearing about in snippets of con-versation and on-line seems to be about the size of the books, the finish on the cover, the processes ionvolved in printing and presentation. All well and good, and often very striking, but all too often I open a beautiful package from the new set and there's nothing of substance inside, art-wise or writing-wise. It's becoming sort of the alt-indy equivalent of DC putting a Brian Bolland cover on a miserable interior (uh...like my book...?. Tons of effort in the packaging, dashed out something or other inside. Nice icing job, lousy cake. The folks who shut up and put up insofar as interiors go will be our next group of ink studs and studettes, the rest will wonder what the heck happened, I mean, I worked so hard on the pink die-cut cover of my three hundred page square-shaped book about nothing. Anyway, gripes aside, I guess comics have come into their own at last, otherwise we wouldn't have so much navel-gazing. But what do I know? I'm just a dopey gag-man, I work for the "man", and I still think old farts like the Hernandez Bros out-cartoon most folks getting ink these days in the fanzines and the websites. I'm not trying to come down on the next generation, I just wish some more folks would step up to the plate and deliver on the promise of their art direction. And, no, it's not like I think my stuff's so fantastic, I'm just giving my opinion and offering an observation, more as a consumer/fan than a "professional".

Okay, that's it for this batch of words. Hope everyone out there reading this is well, again, my thanks to those of you who stopped by at the fab and gear Mocca show, those who have written in about the Thing, etc, etc, etc.

Later, skaters.