Friday, January 18, 2008

Hoopla! - Episode 2: What looks good in March 2008? (A-J)

Hello and welcome to Hoopla!

It may seem like it's been a while since I've written a new column, but that's not entirely true... I've started writing a couple of columns, but neither of them is finished, yet, and so the end result has been that, to the untrained eye, it would appear that I have not been fulfilling my Hoopla! obligations...

But now you know the uncanny truth...

So, what looks good in March...? Well, I'll tell ya...


I am totally enjoying the six-part Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes! storyline and this is the concluding chapter. So, this is pretty much a no-brainer...

And, yes, Gary Frank's art does look very different than in his previous work, and I suppose that I do prefer the earlier stuff, but I have no problem with what he's doing here... Gary Frank's second-best is still pretty damn good...


I hated the first issue, but the second one was better. Still not completely satisfying, but I think I'll give it a little bit longer to pull together...

If nothing else, I really enjoyed the Spike: Shadow Puppets limited series by the same writer and artist, so that suggests that this series may improve over time...


Enjoying this. 'Nuff said.


Chuck Dixon.

It is not a great series, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is consistently enjoyable, I think...


A neat little series. I first got interested in this because of Mark Waid and George Perez's use of the character in their Brave and the Bold story. Again, this series isn't the pinnacle of comic-book genius, but it's a good time...


I am SO bummed out that George Perez is leaving this title.

So very, very bummed...

But, Jerry Ordway aint nothing to sneeze at, either, and I suspect this will continue to be great fun as long as Mark Waid is doing the writing...


That Faith story by Brian K. Vaughan? That was damn good stuff...

Hopefully, they can maintain that level of quality...



Okay, so... what is Comic Book Comics, you may be wondering...

Well, I'll tell you...

Not so very long ago, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey published a very quirky, funny and--yes--educational comic titled Action Philosophers. Essentially, Action Philosophers was a series of brief summaries of the world's most famous philosophers... a bit of biography, a bit about what they actually contributed to the wonderful world of philosophy, and a lot of good, snarky humor.

Action Philosophers recently ended, as they finally ran out of philosophers that they wanted to talk about, but Comic Book Comics is their new series, and it's all about the history of comic-books.

Here is a preview of the series and here's a great interview with Lente about Action Philosophers, M.O.D.O.K.'s 11, his Marvel Adventure stories, and Comic Book Comics.

Among other things, Lente says this about the new series...

Well, we were trying to come up with a follow-up series for “Action Philosophers!” and what I wanted to avoid was “Classics Illustrated.” I really didn't want to adapt the major works of novelists or the stories of films. It's one thing to “adapt” a work of philosophy, it's another thing to re-tell somebody else's story.

And I've done a lot of work for Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art (MoCCa). I now serve on the Board of Advisors there. So I've amassed a huge library about comics and it just sort of hit me one day: no one has ever tried a non-fiction comic about comics history before. And what's great about comics fandom is everyone is into their own corner of the history: this guy loves Will Eisner, this guy loves Marvel, this guy loves EC horror stuff, etc. But we're going to cover everything.

So, there you go.
Buy it. Love it. Polybag it.


In my last column I showed some of the very beautiful preview pages... it's the one that looks like it was illustrated back in the 1800s.

It's gonna be mighty good, methinks...



Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch.




Blue Beetle and Booster Gold.

Written by Keith Giffen.

Um... yes.


Loving this series... loving the art, loving the "Kingdom Come" storyline, loving that ultra-tragic Superman from another world...

Really, really enjoying this series.

Well, that's only about half of the list of stuff I'm pre-ordering for March, but I need to get going... my bestest friend in the whole wide world, Meredith, and I are going to make some dinners at this place, Thyme Out, where you go and make dinners and then bring them home and eat them over the course of the rest of your life.

Get it...? It's called Thyme Out because... uh... because thyme is a seasoning that you use when you're... uh... cooking, and because "time out" is... er... the thing that you say when you... um... eat the thing. That you made.

Or something.

Anyway, I'll be posting What Looks Good in March 2008 (L-X) sometime this weekend, I hope...

Until then, I hope that you're THYME isn't... uh... out?


- Paul

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hoopla! - Season Two - Episode 1: Will Someone Please Fix My Continuity...?

Hello and welcome to Season Two of Hoopla!

As you can see above, I've decided to restart the numbering with the new year... there are a couple of good reasons to do this.

1) It will help me keep track of how close I am to producing a weekly column. Last year, for example, I think I ended up with 48 columns (not including the little special announcement ones) which is actually pretty darn close to weekly. This year I'm shooting for 52, although the smart money has it that I'll actually be producing even less this year than I did before. Sad but true.

2) Sales always go up with a re-numbering because people LOVE a first issue of something. So, I'm hoping that by making this number ONE of Season Two of Hoopla!, rather than number 49 or something stupid like that, I can double my readership!!! To help make that dream a reality, I'm also going to be releasing a special variant cover of this first column of the second season of Hoopla!, which will have a chronium foil cover and which, when exposed to moisture, will expand rapidly, like one of those compressed sponges.

As you can see, I've returned from New Year's Eve more sales-savvy than ever!!!

So, 2008 looks to be a very interesting year for me... I start teaching at American University in a couple of weeks, I'm hopefully finishing my dissertation in May or July or sometime around then, after that I may move to _____ to start work at _____ , and my girlfriend, Mie, has just moved in with me.

I was actually pretty nervous about Mie moving in with me... big life change and all... but then I realized that this is actually the perfect time to be doing this because modern science, assisted by the work of Joe Quesada and Dan Didio, has made retro-continuity adjustments so painless and relatively inexpensive.

If, a few months from now, I find that Mie is driving me bat-shit crazy, I can always have a friend punch a hole in the wall of reality and - WHAMMO!!! - Mie never moved in with me and all of my hair has grown back. Or, if I have trouble finding work after I graduate, all I have to do is make some half-arsed deal with Mephisto and - SHWAZZANG!!! - I never went to get my PhD at all but, instead, took that lucrative government job that, in this continuity, I passed up several years ago.

And all my hair grew back.

So, I feel a lot less pressure in making life decisions nowadays...

Thanks Joe! Thanks Dan! Thanks modern science!

So, I happened upon some pretty amazing preview pages for a book called Cursed Pirate Girl. You can see these in full size over at newsarama, but here's a brief sample...

Umm... wow.

Of course, they look a million times better when you see them at full size over at newsarama, and there are a lot more of them to be seen, too.

Impressive stuff, though, I gotta say...


So, I came across a sort of interesting debate about a new Dave Sim book that's coming out titled Glamourpuss (The book, that is. Not the debate about the book.)

The gist of the argument is that many people have written that they have no interest in supporting Dave Sim by picking up his book because of his rather fanatical diatribes against women. The primary counter-argument seems to be, yes, he's completely bonkers, but he's also been incredibly important in the comic-book world, his work has been highly influential, and you shouldn't confuse the artist with the art.

And, hey... it's called Glamourpuss! What's not to love?

This is an issue I've pondered before... the first time was with the work of Doug TenNapel, whose outstanding graphic novel, Creature Tech, was somewhat ruined for me when I learned a bit more about Doug's personal beliefs... this was back when I was doing the original Hoopla! column over at comicbookgalaxy. I ended up in a rather lengthy dialogue with Doug, who wrote to me to say that I was misrepresenting his beliefs in my column and that, more to the point, he'd really appreciate it if I'd stop talking crap about him.

To this day, I'm not sure what his personal beliefs really are, but I concluded that if the guy is polite enough to write me and ask me to stop saying nasty things about him, I probably ought to oblige. Especially since I can't be 100% certain that what I'm saying is correct.

In retrospect, I still think Creature Tech was a great book but I haven't purchased any of TenNapel's other books... partially because they're rather pricey but also partially because I'm left feeling somewhat uncomfortable about the whole thing.

To a slightly lesser extent, I've had this problem with Chuck Dixon, who is rather vocal about his homophobia, although I don't believe he's ever called it that and he may have even denied the actual label. I believe his position was along the lines of "I don't want my kids learning about gay people in comics; I don't think gay-ness should be discussed in comics or advocated for through the creation of gay super-heroes."

I still pick up his books on occasion because I really enjoy them but, again, it's sort of tainted my overall impression of the man and makes me slightly more reluctant to pick up his work than I would otherwise.

Dave Sim is a whole 'nother case, though...

The thing about Chuck Dixon and Doug TenNapel is that, regardless of what their personal beliefs may be, they've managed to keep it largely out of their work. Chuck Dixon may not want to write about gay super-heroes, but he also doesn't ridicule gay people through his work and he doesn't spew bile in his letter column about how gay people are parasites sucking the life out of the rest of us or anything like that...

He keeps it to himself, in other words.

That makes it possible for me to enjoy his work without feeling icky inside.

Dave Sim, on the other hand, has used his work to write lengthy diatribes about women and how irresponsible/foolish/evil/parasitic/untrustworthy/etc. they are. He has, in other words, chosen to make an issue of his opinions.

If I buy an issue of Robin that has been written by Chuck Dixon, and if I stop to think, "What message am I sending to the marketplace through this purchase?", the answer I arrive at is that I am sending the following message: "I like well-written, traditional superhero comics with lots of action."

If I purchase a Dave Sim book, however, I feel that I am sending this message: "I approve of mysogyny and of deep-rooted prejudice in general. I think it's okay to hate lots and lots of people and to argue that they are less human than myself."

So, if it turns out that Glamourpuss is the next best thing since wasabi-flavored tooth paste, I think it's still pretty unlikely that I'll buy it. I may read someone else's copy, if my curiosity absolutely gets the best of me, but I won't contribute financially to Dave Sim.

Other opinions...?


Well, there's a bunch of really neat stuff coming out in the next few months and I'll tell you all about them in the next Hoopla!, but for now I've gotta head home and rest my weary eyes... and say hello to my fancy new girlfriend/roommate.

I hope you all had a restful, mellow winter break, that your parents didn't drive you too crazy, that you got lots of cool gifts, and that 2008 will be a good one for all of you...

Best wishes,