Funnybook Babylon

March 31, 2008

Is this really Truth, Justice, and the American Way?

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 10:44 am

The most significant and common error that people make when discussing legal decisions is to apply traditional notions of morality to outcomes. As I’m sure that you all read it, a court recently ruled in favor of the heirs of Jerry Siegel, one of the co-creators of Superman, and granted them co-ownership of the material contained in Action Comics #1. This material includes some of the most recognizable aspects of the Superman mythos. Although this does not include some specific details that have been developed over the decades, the material is the core of the character we all know and love. This decision was a clear victory for the Siegel family, and all those who support creator rights are elated.

Since the Siegels are the victors, and the heroes in the eyes of some, does that mean that DC Comics was the villain? Historically, that may have been true. As Dirk Deppey points out in his most recent column, publishers have never treated creators equitably. Abhay Khosla has referred to this as the ‘original sin’ of the comics industry.

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Fandom, Readership and Snark

Filed under: Blurbs — David Uzumeri @ 7:28 am

Why Comics Readers Are Setting It All Back (And Not For The Cliched Reasons)

The other day, I read a pretty insightful entry in the mega talented Mike Choi’s blog about the way creators perceive internet fan discourse. I know I’m not bringing anything new to the table by observing that there are posters out there who hide behind anonymity and make crazy/threatening remarks all the time, but those people are easily filtered and relatively harmless and, to be honest, pretty much just boring at this point. So are the flipside, the insanely positive fans who are unable to critique and defend their favorite creators and characters with a quasi-religious zeal.

What’s starting to disturb me more is the reaction to this that I see on a lot of the more moderated/respectable blogs – this conscious attempt to cut ties with the tastes of the hoi polloi and instead turn the topic to how cleverly you can savage a certain creator or book. Mike Choi is right – the switch is defaulted to “snark” all across the blogging community and everyone’s tripping over themselves to be the funniest guy to say something’s going to suck. (more…)

March 27, 2008

FBB Roundtable: Books Only You Would Buy

Filed under: Blurbs — Pedro Tejeda @ 1:33 pm

There was a recent discussion among several contributors on this site about the viability of a book put out by Marvel or DC that didn’t feature superheroes as the main hook in some format. The truth is books like that only speak to a small subset of the audience. It also got us talking about a book like this that if put on the stands only we would buy. The rules are simple: the comic has to take place in the shared universe of either company, but not have any main characters that are superheroes. It also must have something about it that forces it to take place in a superhero universe. Here are a couple of the books we came up with.

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March 26, 2008

FBBP #50 – Featuring the Peerless Power of David Brothers

This week features blogalaxy surfing zen master David Brothers as we talk about Pedro’s attempts at sub-super villainy, review Cap, Iron Man, Death of the New Gods, Incredible Herc, and War is Hell. We even talk about he who should not be named who is spoiling books for Tom Spurgeon. It’s our 50th show, so that means… nothing right?

Notes after the Jump.

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March 25, 2008

Oldest Rookie in the Game

Filed under: Blurbs — Pedro Tejeda @ 4:00 pm

Wizard is doing an online poll for their annual fan award. They state it’s the only place online where fans pick their favorites in comics and pop culture. Yeah, Wizard is a pop culture magazine on the level of Maxim. Don’t think about it, it’s as stupid as it sounds. Besides we here at FBB like to question Wizard on its quality as an institution in just the comics industry.

For the most part awards can be popularity contests and don’t do as much for the winners as you would expect in the comic industry.  After Bendis won one, the Eisner Awards’ Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition used to mean that your talent would be less recognized. Sometimes the category is lock down so hard that no one else has a chance. That is the case of Todd Klein, who has won the Best Letterer/Lettering every single year except for that one time Stan Sakai had the audacity to compete against him. Stan’s never been the same man since. You kind of question the nominees in some categories, wondering what someone was smoking when they came up with them. This year, the Wizard poll is no exception with 4 head shaking listings.

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March 24, 2008

Spoiler Alert

Filed under: Articles — Jonathan Bernhardt @ 12:07 am

It looks like everyone’s favorite C-list-supporting-character-turned- bizarrely-persistent-martyr is back for reals as of this past week’s issue of Robin (#172 for anyone who just has to hunt down a copy to read up on all these Shocking Revelations). I figure it’s been, like, five days or something since it’s come out, so I’m not spoiling anyone. G-Mo finally gives you a case, and now you want to be ALIVE again?!Get it??? You can get a surprising amount of mileage out of that joke, actually.

Anyway, yeah, it looks like Steph Brown is back to bumbling around the streets of Gotham. Which is pretty cool, since she had probably the most ill-advised character death-spiral seen in awhile during her last few appearances, thanks to the unholy combination of a well-meaning Bill Willingham, an editorial office dedicated to killing someone — anyone — to boost sales, and the apparent (and now hilarious) desire to wipe away a bunch of the Chuck Dixon-era contributions to the Bat-Mythos: killing Spoiler and Orpheus; sending Robin and Batgirl out of Gotham to Bludhaven — where Robin would eventually get a new costume, Batgirl would eventually lose her way and her claim to the Batgirl legacy, and Bludhaven would just get scourged clean off the face of the planet, though that’s more of a sidenote than anything else, and has little to do with what we’re talking about at the moment. The editorial office’s indulgences can be understood, if not quite forgiven — we understand you have to sell books, guys, but having Black Mask take a power drill to a teenage girl’s legs? Really? Really? — but Willingham’s contribution to Steph’s legacy, like most of Willingham’s contributions to comics, was a nonsensical perversion of what was on the surface a cool idea, that, when all was said and done, just ended up insulting the character.

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March 20, 2008

FBBP #49 – Secretly Wishing We Could be Paul Pope Characters

This week show barely gets into comics until about 15 minutes in, but when we do we go over the Wizard World LA announcements, the lack of quality books, Vixen’s tone in JLA, the importance of what comic creators do outside of the industry and the fact Radical Comics still fucking sucks.

Sorry this one is up late, but it took me ages to think of a name. Podcast Notes after the jump.

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March 19, 2008

We Must Love One Another Or Die

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , — Jamaal Thomas @ 9:24 am

Arthur C. Clarke died last night. He was a visionary science fiction author of over eighty novels, and a countless number of short stories. He was the man who worked with Stanley Kubrick to bring us the unforgettable 2001 film, and who inspired many of the great minds behind the American space mission. He was also the first to popularize the notion of geostationary communications satellites and space elevators. Clarke was obsessed with science, and produced a number of non fiction pieces on science and exploration. Although many will remember him for increasing public interest in science, particularly in space travel, or for his chilling vision of artificial intelligence gone wrong in the cinema, those aren’t the reasons that I revere him.

I’m not a science or mathematics person at all. After high school, I avoided either like the plague. For me, Clarke’s work reflected a rational optimism about humanity’s future. In his novels and short fiction, he discussed our moral condition as a species, and how technological advancement can be accompanied by an evolution of our ethical systems. There was something almost mystical about his belief in our potential. That was something that really had an effect on me as a young person, and helped inspire my love of literature.

He will be missed. As another writer said, “[h]e rejoiced to live in a gigantic universe of unencompassable scale, and he thought the rest of us should rejoice, too.

March 18, 2008

Hanging on The Wire: FBB RemiXXX

Filed under: Articles — David Uzumeri @ 2:26 pm

Everything is Connected

Note: This article was originally published as an Alternate Current at PopCultureShock. In the manner of our culture, there’s some new content added at the end for our much-appreciated audience.

HBO’s The Wire, co-created by David Simon and Ed Burns, finishes up its five-season run on Sunday. For its small but incredibly devoted viewership, this provides closure to over five years’ worth of emotional investment in an intricate serialized story about countless people from all walks of society and how they mingle, relate, love and kill. Propelled by a single artistic vision, five seasons, each with their own theme, build on each other to form a single complex and unified tale, manipulating existing genre conventions to create something wholly new and different.

Sound familiar?

It’s no surprise that television and comics have become kissing cousins over the past few years, sharing talent, ideas, and sometimes whole properties – they’re both serialized visual media that extend a story over a long period of time, creating a natural back-and-forth between the creators and the fanbase/viewership. They can be open-ended or finite, deliberately paced or created one at a time, episodically self-contained or continuity-laden.

So what makes The Wire unique? Largely its ambition. Meticulously plotted and incredibly complex, The Wire engages the viewer eloquently, trusting him/her to stay alert, put together the pieces and follow the narrative without the consistent recapping and handholding that often permeates network television. Each season introduces a new cast of characters that supplements rather than replaces what was already there and exposes a new layer of the interrelated machinery that runs the city of Baltimore.

thewire.jpg

So what does any of this have to do with comics? To look forward, we must first look back. In 1993, David Simon’s book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets was published, leading to both considerable acclaim and the seven-season NBC police drama Homicide: Life on the Street, which Simon left journalism to work on himself.

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March 15, 2008

An Impassioned Plea to Marvel Comics

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 3:03 pm

Please, Marvel, don’t do this to us.

CBR reports that Matt Fraction is joining Ed Brubaker on Uncanny X-Men in a cowriting capacity, swapping off arcs. This is fantastic news; these are two great talents that have worked very well together in the past, and will really kick things up a notch for the title. I was excited for about all of five goddamn minutes.

Ed Brubaker will co-write “Uncanny X-Men” with Fraction starting on issue #500. Greg Land and new Marvel exclusive Terry Dodson will rotate art chores.

Oh, come ON.
500_cov.jpg

This is just awful. For a while, Marvel was keeping Land relatively compartmentalized – I would be perfectly happy if Land worked with Jeph Loeb for the rest of his career. However, Uncanny X-Men is a flagship book with two talented writers and they need an actual fucking storyteller for an artist, not an overgrown child with Penthouse and tracing paper. Storm on that cover is in the same fucking position as, like, every ‘spellcasting’ woman he’s ever drawn, traced off of some chick possibly mid-coitus. For God’s sake, Marvel, don’t do this to me, don’t make me read a comic I’m looking forward to and have half of the issues making me wince every time I turn the fucking page. I could deal with almost any artist more than this. Can’t you steal Cliff Chiang or something?

March 13, 2008

FBBP #48 – Secrets of the Costume Party

This week we discussed new books from David Lapham and Terry Moore, Darwyn Cooke’s new New Frontier, Jamaal’s take on Stabby X-Men (a.k.a. X-Force, and more! Plus, a discussion of Michael Chabon’s great article in The New Yorker .

Podcast Notes after the jump:

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March 12, 2008

Pull List Review BONUS for March 12, 2008 – Screamland #1

Filed under: Reviews — Chris Eckert @ 11:00 pm

Deathmate Reborn by Jeph Loeb & Rob Liefeld, Coming 2009!Hey FBBArmy, remember Image? In recent years they seem to have transitioned from THE SPAWN PEOPLE into a publishing house that puts out a lot of smaller self-contained series that aren’t too far from the sort of thing post-Sandman Vertigo is known for, but with lesser-known creative teams. Books like Fell, Casanova, Pax Romana, Phonogram and a lot of other stuff that probably slips through the cracks for one reason or another. I know a lot of their books (Pax Romana for instance) never show up on my radar until someone points them out to me.

In that spirit, I’d like to point out one of those books that debuts this week, Screamland by Harold Sipe and Hector Casanova. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known Harold for a couple of years; he’s a good guy, and he let me read a preview copy of the first issue.

Yeah, I think it looks a little like Zombie Hunter S. Thompson too.

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Pull List Reviews for March 12, 2008

Filed under: Reviews — David Uzumeri @ 10:05 am

Superman #674: I’m not really sure if I’m going to miss Busiek on this title anymore, since Insect Queen was extremely lackluster and this just feels rather rushed – which, admittedly, is totally not Busiek’s fault (his original storyline, featuring the introduction of Chloe Sullivan, was killed for presumably editorial reasons and I believe he had to plot this in a weekend). It would certainly have been nicer to see him go out on a higher note, but the demands of Trinity are calling. Not to really slam the issue – it’s a totally serviceable issue of Superman – I just figure without intervention it’d probably be a lot better. Still, thanks to Busiek for what started off as a great run, and new series artist Renato Guedes is simply stunning (although I really liked him coloring himself – does that just take too long for a monthly book?).

Mighty Avengers #10: This is just fantastic, with Bendis doing his ’60s flashback issue complete with “CONTINUED AFTER NEXT PAGE” signs before advertisements and old dot-coloring. Not that the comic itself is in an old-school style, with Doom displaying a particularly amusing sardonic wit (I’d kill for an odd-couple style Doom/Tony team-up book by Bendis) and some long-awaited character development for the Sentry. I’ve been a fan of the thought bubbles since the beginning, but I think Bendis is really getting a handle on using them correctly at this point. Great stuff. (more…)

March 11, 2008

Respect the Architects

Stan Lee

Styling and Profiling

How do you sum up the career of a man who revolutionized an industry? Should you emphasize his triumphs? When I first started reading comics, I experienced the rite of passage that any new superhero fan has to endure: the nostalgia of older readers. One of the primary paradoxes of superhero comics is that readers have to purposely ignore the long history of the title (and the characters) that produce huge gaps in narrative logic, and simultaneously learn more about the past in order to understand plot points and references. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were far past their prime by the time I started reading. But I was constantly inundated with the competing origin myths of the Marvel Universe. At that point, the consensus was that Lee had single handedly birthed the Marvel Universe, with some assistance from interchangeable artists. In some interviews, it even seemed as though Lee endorsed this view. My father (and his childhood friends) had a very different view. In their version of events, the artists (Kirby, Ditko, Romita, Buscema) were the real visionaries, and Lee was the businessman who robbed them of their dream. This counternarrative dovetailed perfectly with their political beliefs. It was simply a story of corporate interests steamrolling creativity. The ‘man’ crushed the dreamers. The latter vision turned out to be the one that was far more popular, and was evoked in a countless number of stories about the early days of the medium, as brilliantly discussed in Michael Chabon’s The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

But now that we’ve all recognized the true genius of Kirby, et. al., it’s troubling to note that the pendulum has swung in the opposite extreme. In the latest Comics Journal (available for free for one week only!), Tom Crippen uses one of Lee’s most recent books, The Last Fantastic Four Story, and Jeff McLaughlin’s collection of Lee interviews, Stan Lee: Conversations, to discuss his legacy. In the event that anyone doesn’t have the time to peruse the article, the short version is this: “At Marvel, Ditko and Kirby covered imagination and heroics; Stan covered pop-culture gimmicks, catch phrases – all the zeitgeist jabber- and he made it his business to keep the everyman angle coming through.” Essentially, his legacy is that of an ad-man, a guy who writes pithy phrases on packs of Bazooka Joe gum.
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March 10, 2008

Comics Oracle’s Crystal Ball: Marvel Exclusives?

Filed under: Blurbs — David Uzumeri @ 4:19 pm

Saw this all up on the latest Lying in the Gutters:

EXCLUSIVE FISHING

[Green Light]Look for three major DC names to make a move to Marvel rather shortly. Two exclusive artists and one of my favourite comic book writers of all time who transformed one ill-regarded book into an all time classic.

Let the guesses begin… and watch for future “Young X-Men” covers for a clue.

For the writer, no question: Peter Milligan. Infinity Inc. is on the road to cancellation (to put it lightly), Johnston’s little blurb is clearly meant to red herring towards Morrison (for whom leaving DC makes no damn sense) and Milligan has been around long enough for Johnston to like him, is in his whole British taste-sphere, and fairly definitely transformed X-Force from a gun-totin’ piece of crap into an all time classic.

As for the artists, the obvious guesses are the Kuberts, who seem to have been placed at DC by Joe Quesada to screw up their biggest books as hard as possible. I’m not saying it happened, but man, they did a whole lot of damage. They’re both ostensibly in the middle of new projects for DC, but it’s not like unfinished commitments are alien to these guys.

That said, it seems *too* obvious. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to instead see names like Cliff Chiang (who just jumped off Green Arrow/Black Canary), Sean Chen (Salvation Run was a bomb), Phil Hester or even Pete Woods or Jamal Igle (who DC would be absolutely insane to let go). Or maybe he’s just behind and he means the Dodsons, who already have solicited Young X-Men #1 and #2 covers.

Still, though: My bet’s on Milligan.

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