July 21st, 2003


Chaland Shenanigans

So, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up the second Chaland Anthology, featuring the last two Freddy Lombard stories. And two nights ago, unable to sleep (because of my right arm killing me and my stomach dancing a sloppy rumba due to my nerves being shot), I decided to give it a whirl. So I'm enjoying the beautiful artwork and the swell storytelling and the wonderful coloring (and the okay stories) when suddenly, on page 2, panel 5 of the second story, F.52 -- I notice that someone has scribbled a beard and moustache on one of the character's! Zut alores! Or however you spell it! And , yes, I'm breaking my "!" rule, because I can, so sue me!!! Ahem. This pisses me off (can you tell?), and I start angling the book in the light to see if it's been drawn on or is some sort of goof-up/act of sabotage in the printing process, a la the infamous Captain America slipcase hardcover (featuring Bucky's hard-on). A sleepy Sarah determines it is actually in the printing, and I fume a little and turn back to the story. Then, on page 6, panel 5, some ding-dong has written "BL", backwards on the landing gear door of the titular plane! Blistering barnacles! I get so riled up I wake Sarah up, and I run downstairs over confused, fleeing cats to retrieve my French edition of the very same Chaland anthology -- just to see if there was a similar cock-up in the original version. I know, pretty pointless, but I was on a mission. And fuming. Of course, the original is bereft of ball-point monkey business. I read the book under an inky cloud and drift off to sleep, hopefully dreaming of murder. The next afternoon (I don't get up in the morning), I called the Manhattan Jim Hanley's shop and a clerk there confirmed that the scrawled images were on their copy as well. So, it seems Humanoids published a $25 book with some idiot's schoolbook doodling in it. Nice. How the heck does that slip by? I mean, yeah, I'm the idiot who put out a comic where I referred to one of my main characters by the wrong name multiple times, but I'm an idiot, and sure, I'll never be put out a $25 hardcover, but if I did, I'd take a look at the bluelines to see if anyone scribbled on it! Maybe it happened at the printers, I dunno, but I'd refuse to allow that edition to see the light of commerce, if the printer was responsible then they should make good on the job. You'd think someone would watch out for that stuff. Anyway, of course it's a minor stupidity, but gee whiz, that's annoying and I was having fun typing about it. It's still a nifty book, even if two panels are RUINED. And yes, I broke the all-caps rule. Sue away, mean people. It will do you no good.

Post for a Dull Monday

I haven't done much of anything save work and run errands this past week, while most of this godforaken comics industry was in San Diego soaking up Klingon-stink and trampling venerable Golden Age cartoonists in their rush to get to the panel on the new Tomb Raider movie. Okay, I admit, I'm a bit jealous -- this year Sarah and both kind of wished we went to the Big Carnival. We haven't been there since 2000, and it would be nice to see friend and publisher Dan Vado one of these days. It also would have been nice for Sarah to meet her Tokyopop editors (if they went, that is). Anyway, one of the reasons we skipped this year was because we assumed our schedule was going to be a mess, and we certainly were right about that. Last Monday I sent off several scripts to Joey Cavalieri for the Bizarro sequel (hopefully none of them will bounce back to me), I'm still hammering away at the dialogue for the final Thing issue (the horror...the utter horror...), Sarah and I are almost done with the pilot bible, which I also worked up the main preliminary character designs for. My time has been budgeted so poorly, that I've found myself weeks behind on starting my DC project (luckily we have some time before the artist can even begin, but I was hoping to have been up and running by now), and my Hellboy story was pushed back several months (thank god). What's most annoying is that I've been unable to get any of my own comics done, which I knew was going to happen when I took on all this commercial work. I'm just looking forward to the fall, cooler weather, cooler head, cooled-off schedule. Just a little breathing room. I hope.

Otherwise, sheesh, not much to blather on about. Don't worry, I will anyway. We got a new cable box today. A friend tipped us off to the hush-hush introduction of the DVR boxes (or whatever it's called), which can record/download programming like a Tivo. A nice bit of technology for the HOF, which I'll never learn to use myself, I'm sure. Speaking of cable, last night after breaking from work Sarah and I watched A Day at the Races on TCM, which I've never managed to catch before, amazingly enough, seeing as I how love the Marx Bros so much. Not as good as A Night At the Opera (I lose my friggin' mind every time I see Harpo run up the canvas backdrop), but several sequences are really terrific (the scene where Harpo and Chico try to prevent Groucho from being framed by the girl he's seducing, and the examination scene with Sig Ruman, old Hollywood's go-to guy for buffoonish Nazis and Austrians), and it builds nicely and gets more manic after a slow start where they set up the useless plot and let the romantic interests make goo-goo eyes at one another. Alan Jones is the male goo-goo, father of Jack Jones (y'know, he sang the stupid Love Boat theme)and a real stiff you wanna sock in the eye whenever he starts to sing. Or talk. Or smile, like he knows he's the bee's knees. Maureen O'Sullivan (Tarzan's Jane),is the female goo-goo. She's a doll. Oddly enough none of the Marx Brothers chase her. Huh. For some reason the trivial bit that killed me was when Harpo grabs poison and tries to drink it for no reason whatsoever. A big bottle of poison marked "poison", like in a cartoon. I love that stuff. God I love the Marx Brothers. Did you know none of their early films are available on DVD? Did you know that should be a capital offense? Put that in the damned Patriot Act, my friend, and maybe then I'll go along with your cold-war creepiness.

Picked up the latest Comic Book Marketplace, the Lev Gleason article looked promising, as I'm really interested in the Biro crime comics he published. Unfortunately, the article is a real mess, written in an irritating mix of past and present tense, and padding out what little is known about Gleason with the usual fannish speculation and, god in heaven, yet another run-through of the beginnings of the comic book industry (not to mention a few compulsory paragraphs about the Wertham situation). Padding is a serious problem with CBM in general -- pieces are often bloated with fanboy speculation ("I think Kirby would have gone on to enter more pie eating contests and cure cervical cancer if Carmine Infantino didn't destroy his dream"), pointless personal background (Honestly, nobody with a life cares about how you first encountered the artwork of Mike Sekowsky at your local drugstore in 1963 or fell in lust with the Iron Maiden, okay?) trivia (Oh. Wow. This Wonder Woman story just might have been written before that one but published after it. Wow.), plot recaps of comics and other empty-headed calories. Anyway, there's some interesting information on Gleason's political stances, but all in all, really disappointing, and a reminder of how frustrated I get at what tends to pass as serious writing on the subject of comic books -- enthusiasm standing in for analysis, personal opinion presented as fact, speculation posing as information. I mean, get this -- when the author of this convoluted mess delves into the fate of cartoonist and Gleason associate Bob Wood (an alcoholic who murdered a woman with a flatiron, saw jail time, and was later struck and killed by a car while on a binge), he actually writes, "Art (sic) Spiegelman, creator of Maus, is writing a musical based on the life of Bob Wood. I'll spare further details, so as not to spoil anyone's enjoyment of this much-anticipated spectacle". Excuse me? He's sparing me details? About a subject I was interested in? That I paid to read about? So as not to spoil my enjoyment of a play that I might never see? Or care to see? A play that might not even get produced or be staged? What if I drop dead tomorrow? What if Spiegelman drops dead tomorrow? I want my details! I paid for this magazine, and I want my goddam details!

Anyway, I don't really mean to beat up on CBM, or any of the silly, dopey pro-zines that love comics and can't help it if nobody wants to write about comics except for comics fans who love love love comics. What can you do? Drink a bottle marked "poison"?