Apr
26

FBBP #139 – Origin Stories with David Brothers

Posted by Chris Eckert and David Brothers on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 02:59:32 PM

Chris and David Brothers chat about how they got into comics, how they drifted away, how they came back, and lots of other digressions about their formative years.

Check out this gallery of some of the comics we end up discussing!
Plus: Bronze Age DC, the Death of Superman novelization, Marvel’s Star Wars comics, the Ultraverse, Frank Miller in Spanish, Marvel Knights, and much much more!

Coming up next: more Origin Stories, with the rest of the FBB Gang.

Posted in Podcasts · 5 Comments »
Apr
18

Frank Miller and the Fairy Tale History of Comics

Posted by Chris Eckert on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 at 02:00:35 PM

This past weekend David Brothers brought up Frank Miller’s big 1994 speech from a Diamond Retailers seminar that got reprinted in the back of Sin City: The Big Fat Kill #5. He wrote something about it too. It’s a powerful speech, and dismaying at how much of the speech could easily be cross-applied to the industry eighteen years later with maybe 5% of the text adjusted. While I still don’t understand Miller’s hardline stance against anything resembling ratings or cover advisories, his message about creative freedom and creators’ rights still ring true. Which makes it all the more frustrating that he pushes what amounts to the Fairy Tale version of the comic book industry in 1954: He even does so in an attempt to “correct” history, saying:

This is how screwy our sense of our own history is. Most people in comics don’t realize that the Senate vindicated us. After due consideration, the United States Senate decided comics books were not a cause of juvenile delinquency. We were vindicated. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Articles · 6 Comments »
Apr
15

Before Watchmen: Marketing Tips and a Bold Prediction

Posted by Chris Eckert on Sunday, April 15th, 2012 at 01:13:07 AM

Looks like Brothers mopped up the whole odious “moral high ground” statement from today’s Before Watchmen panel, so let me offer some free advice to DC Marketing and its attendant promotional arms at various big comic blogs.

Look, I’m not a fancy marketing whiz. I’ve never worked at an ad agency or anything. But I have been on the Internet for a long time, long enough to remember when Mondo 2000 was a thing and Boing Boing was just a zine and Douglas Rushkoff was still a doe-eyed optimist about the potential of CYBERIA and memes were something you would namedrop while shouting over Rave Til Dawn at that warehouse club from Hackers, not a picture of a dog talking to someone on a telephone with captions in an Impact font.

So please believe when I tell you, I don’t think you know what viral marketing is. Or maybe it’s not you. Maybe I need to address this to bloggers out there, and the “viral” wording isn’t from DC itself. But… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blurbs · 12 Comments »
Mar
31

5-10-15-20: Comic Book History for March 2012

Posted by Chris Eckert on Saturday, March 31st, 2012 at 11:15:52 AM

Welcome back to 5-10-15-20, a monthly column that looks at things that happened in comics using arbitrary five year jumps! I realize this is being published in April. I had finished the post a week or so ago, but got caught up researching something really dumb and forgot I hadn’t posted this until today, when I finished the research project. What do you think I was researching? Guess in the comments! There will be a prize, probably.

This time out I made a point to include when certain characters were created X years ago this month, and mention who created them. I know I’m late to the party as Tom Spurgeon has been posting for the past month on this very topic. While there’s no doubt that all the attention given to the monumental work people like Siegel, Shuster, Lee, and Kirby contributed to the comics landscape is deserved, and their treatment by the corporate benefactors of that work has been almost universally abhorrent, it’s also important to remember that there have been hundreds if not thousands of other creators working in the trenches, putting their backs into tilling the soil upon which Marvel and DC’s fertile IP grows. They’re not getting any money for their characters showing up in movies or video games or toy lines either. The literal least we can do as Team Comics is acknowledge they did stuff that made comics we like now possible.

The #1 Comic Five Years Ago Was: Captain America#25

285623 Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 5-10-15-20, Articles · 1 Comment »
Mar
16

New 52 Brand Management Musings, or what happens when the cat wakes up.

Posted by Jamaal Thomas on Friday, March 16th, 2012 at 12:00:58 PM

Six months after DC’s historic line wide relaunch, it’s become clear that the artists have taken over. The four best books from the first wave — Wonder Woman, Flash, Batman and Animal Man — all have talented writers, but with all due respect to Messrs. Azzarello, Lemire and Snyder, the art is the primary appeal. It’s all about Chiang, Manapul, Capullo and Foreman.

Quick(ish) confession: I have a troubling tendency to attribute the authorship of corporate superhero books to the writer by default, particularly when the art’s mediocre. Sure, I spend time thinking about the choices made by the pencillers, inkers, colorists (and sometimes the letterers), but tend to consider them contributors to the writer’s creative vision. It’s an easy and astonishingly lazy way to read comics, but that’s the way they seem to marketed most of the time. Still… no excuse.

The writing has only been interesting to the extent that it serves the needs of the story that the artists are telling. Batman‘s entertaining because of the contrast between Capullo’s post post Bronze Age art and Snyder’s horror/thriller inspired writing. Animal Man is great because of how Lemire’s absurdist gothic horror prose complements Travel Foreman’s body horror. I love Wonder Woman and like Brian Azzarello, but without Cliff Chiang’s spare, expressive art, the story loses some of its meaning: it goes from a gripping tale of a warrior struggling with family and identity to a pretty standard superhero book. Chiang strips the book of the artifice that’s bogged down earlier volumes while retaining the iconic quality that’s central to Wonder Woman. His action scenes are plausibly staged and brutally efficient in a way that grounds a story steeped in Greek mythology. Tony Akins does a nice job and all, but it’s an entirely different book in his hands.

The other books I’ve sampled from the first relaunch wave have been maddeningly inconsistent. The first few issues of Action Comics and Batwoman were pretty good, but painfully slow pacing, reduced page counts and questionable storytelling choices have wasted much of that early promise. Williams is growing as a writer, and Morrison still shows some flashes of brilliance, but there’s something missing from both books.

So, some thoughts on the new 52 books:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feb
21

5-10-15-20: Comic Book History for February 2012

Posted by Chris Eckert on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 09:58:12 PM

In the interest of making everyone feel old, inspired by Scientific American, and because I spend too much time digging through old comic book material anyway, here’s what will hopefully be a new monthly feature: 5-10-15-20, a look back at goings-on in the funnybook field in half-decade increments. Yesterday should’ve been the fiftieth birthday of Dwayne McDuffie, but instead today marks the first anniversary of his passing. If you’d rather go read one of his books or watch something he show-ran, I understand.

feb5271881

The #1 Comic Five Years Ago Was: Civil War #7

Has it really only been five years since Civil War? On one hand, it seems like there have been at least a dozen events and big status quo shifts since All The Union Employees Stood Up to Tell Cap to Give Up. On the other hand, the very first FBB podcast was recorded in the immediate aftermath of said Civil War. It doesn’t feel like we’ve been doing this for five years, but here we are. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 5-10-15-20, Articles · 3 Comments »
Jan
24

FBBP #138 – Daredevil Discourse with David Brothers

Posted by Chris Eckert, Jamaal Thomas and David Brothers on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at 10:00:02 AM

We’re joined this episode by David Brothers, and he brought with him a classic Marvel run: Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr. on Daredevil!

This isn’t the gritty noir Daredevil modern readers have grown to expect:

It contains a critique of factory farming!
dd-pigs

Philosophical (and physical) fights about feminism! (And DD joking!)
dd-feminism

The Inhumans! (And philosophical fights about societal ethos!)
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Ultron!! (And fights about the notion of free will and perfection!)
dd-ultron

And that’s before everyone literally Goes to Hell.
dd-demons

It’s an awesome read, though the issues we dug up to discuss (DD #270-282) are largely out of print. That shouldn’t stop you from seeking them out of the back issue bins, or reading the earlier part of this epic run collected in Typhoid Mary and Lone Stranger. A decent portion of the run is also up on Marvel’s Digital Store.

This is a long one, but chock full of things to discuss: we drifted off into conversations about the heady topics hinted at above, the terrible implications of Inhuman society, why Quicksilver is better as a turbo-dick, Alan Moore’s Supreme, recent issues of Secret Avengers, and Nocenti’s upcoming run on Green Arrow.

Coming up: more podcasts! Got something (or someone) you think we should have on the show? Let us know in the comments.

Posted in Podcasts · 6 Comments »
Jan
9

An Aperitif

Posted by Jamaal Thomas on Monday, January 9th, 2012 at 01:00:41 PM

I’ve been meaning to write about comics for about two months, but life got in the way. Family, work, holidays… you know the spiel.

I haven’t stopped reading comics (as evidenced by my Twitter feed), but between the controversies about salaries and work conditions at Marvel Comics, the Kirby (and Ghost Rider) litigations, diversity in mainstream superhero books and day and date digital comics, I’ve found it easier to simply disengage from the debate for a bit. I think we’ve been having the same conversations about the comics industry for the last twenty years, and nothing really changes. We’re still asking Marvel and DC to improve working conditions for creators and to respect their creative rights. We’re hoping that they treat the writers, artists and editors who were responsible for creating their most valuable intellectual property with kindness, respect and honor. We want them to realize that attracting a workforce with diverse backgrounds and experiences will foster innovation and lead to more interesting and original stories. We want them to learn how to effectively market and sell their product to a wider audience, many of whom will never set foot in a comic store.

I feel like I’ve been trying to balance my love of some Marvel/DC books with my disdain for the management of both publishers for most of my life. They’re never going to change. Neither am I. That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to rail against their unjust and/or shortsighted business practices, but… I guess I just need a break sometimes. Maybe it’s holiday malaise, even though this might have been the best holiday season since I was eight years old.

Quick comics update: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Articles · 3 Comments »
Jan
6

FBBP #137 – New Year, Same Old New 52

Posted by Chris Eckert, Joseph Mastantuono and Jamaal Thomas on Friday, January 6th, 2012 at 07:40:18 PM

Welcome to 2012! Back in the dying days of 2011, we sat down and looked at some of DC’s “New 52″ titles a few issues in. Titles discussed include:

  • Action Comics by Grant Morrison, Rags Morales and others
  • Batman & Robin by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
  • Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
  • Batwoman by JH Williams III and Haden Blackman
  • Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

We also talked about the overall “success” of The New 52, how we as readers should judge the success, how much digital comics should cost, and how Apple should really sell Chris an iPad for ten dollars. Seriously. It would be great PR.

What New 52 books are we sleeping on? What books are we insane to enjoy? Why aren’t we reading something not published by DC? All good questions, and it’s up to you, the FBBArmy, to tell us!

COMING IN 2012: More Avenging the Week, more Girl Talk, more podcasts, and A Cavalcade of Davids!

Posted in Podcasts · 6 Comments »
Nov
1

More Girl Talk: It Could Be Worse

Posted by Chris Eckert on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 at 11:33:53 PM

Last time I probably spent too much time rebutting Colin Smith’s review of The Ultimates and extrapolations about its creators and publisher made from a single comic book. I said people needed to look at things in context. I want to make something clear: no one can tell anyone else what to be offended by. If Smith or anyone else was bothered by the Boys’ Club atmosphere in The Ultimates, that’s their reaction and I can’t tell them not to be bothered. Recently commenters across the people across the Internet have been bothered by a plethora of things in the Superhero World: the prolific use of “bitch” in Arkham City, the New 52′s depiction of characters like Catwoman and Starfire, overall representation of women in comics, and probably several issues I’ve forgotten. People are entitled to be bothered by whatever they want, and I’m inclined to join them in their dismay at all of these things. But to the collected Internet Team Comics Blogosphere, I want to say one thing: It Could Be Worse. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Blurbs · 1 Comment »
Oct
24

New York Comic Con 2011: No Fear, No Loathing, Just A Pleasant Experience

Posted by Jamaal Thomas on Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 03:24:49 PM

Another New York Comic Con has come and gone… The FBB crew ran wild during the annual pop culture festival that reminds us that we have the best and the worst hobby in the world. We drank, ate, schmoozed with creators and held our annual FBB/4L reunion sans David “Benedict Arnold” Brothers. We also drank. In the midst of all the fun, there were some fascinating announcements and developments. Let’s take a brief look, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct
21

Girl Talk in Context: The Ultimates Problem

Posted by Chris Eckert on Friday, October 21st, 2011 at 11:31:37 PM

Looking across the sometimes bleak landscape of Women in Superhero Comics, it’s easy to get dispirited. Whether’s it’s inequity in representation — be it in the stories or on the credits page — there’s still plenty of ground to make up before things are acceptable. And even when female characters are pushed to the fore, it often results in tawdry trash like Catwoman, Voodoo, or Starfire in Red Hood ft. Outlawz. But not everything is terrible — it’s not like we’re back in 1996 in the Year of the Bad Girl or anything that dismal — and I admit, as White Male Privilege-y as it is, I sometimes wonder exactly what people are looking for. People choose arbitrary data points and then go off on how this proves that comics are a vast misogynistic wasteland. What percentage of colorists on team books released in October of 2011 by Marvel are female? How many women appeared on the covers of the top ten DC New 52 #1s? How many Black Lanterns were mothers? Do any of these sets of data mean anything?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Articles · 2 Comments »
Oct
3

FBBP #136 – Jeff Lemire Revisited

Posted by Chris Eckert, Jamaal Thomas, Pedro Tejeda and Joseph Mastantuono on Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 08:04:30 PM

As the seasons change, Funnybook Babylon returns to look back on the work of Jeff Lemire! We reviewed Sweet Tooth back in Episode #125 and were divided on its relative quality, but after two additional volumes we are united: it’s pretty great.

But don’t take our word for it! The first eleven issues are available digitally over at Comixology, or you can purchase the first three volumes (Out of the Woods, In Captivity, and Animal Armies) wherever finer books are sold.

We also take a look at Animal Man #1, part of DC’s New 52 line. We liked it too! We also like digital comics, the kind DC and Top Shelf and Dark Horse have been putting out lately. We are full of love lately!

Posted in Podcasts · 4 Comments »
Sep
8

The Weirdest NYCC Event I’ve Seen: “A Date With Marvel”

Posted by Chris Eckert on Thursday, September 8th, 2011 at 07:37:32 PM

The 2011 New York City Comicon is fast approaching, as the near-daily press releases remind us. Buried underneath today’s announcement of some sort of kick-off concert was a strange event anouncement:

We’ve setup a nine course meal with wine pairing at wd~50, owned by Wylie Dufresne, a Michelin star winner and molecular gastronomy chef. If this award-winning restaurant doesn’t entice you enough, wait until you hear who you’ll be dining with… C.B. Cebulski, writer and talent scout extraordinaire hosts this once-in-a-lifetime dinner with Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, Joe Quesada and Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso. This is your chance to be wined and dined with some of the most important people in comics. It all takes place at 8:00 PM on Friday, October 15 and includes a nine course meal and wine pairing. It is open to only ten fans. The cost is $550, but the opportunity is priceless!

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sep
7

Imaginary Stories

Posted by Jamaal Thomas on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 06:52:42 PM

This is going to be a quick one.

I’ve been thinking about canon, alternate takes on Marvel/DC properties, cultural ownership and the artificial rules of storytelling in fictional storytelling over the last couple of days. I’m still working through some ideas on the latter two, but I want to spend a little time on the notion of canon and the possibilities suggested by Jon Morris’s DC Fifty-Too Project. For the unfamiliar, Jon Morris, an independent cartoonist and creator of the hilarious Jeremy: The Complete Strip Collection, among others, was inspired by DC’s relaunch of its main line of titles. DC Fifty-Too was a challenge issued by Morris to 52 cartoonists to imagine their own version of a new title using DC characters. The results were spectacular, a reminder of the potential locked in DC’s vast library of characters, possibilities that will remain unrealized due to restrictions of continuity or canon or the conservative preferences of editors and readers. It was the same sense of loss that I felt after reading Brendan McCarthy’s pitch for a post-apocalyptic Jimmy Olsen book or James Stokoe’s brilliant Spider Nam idea. I’d love to read these projects, whether as one-shots or limited series or ongoings, and it’s a shame that none of these projects will ever see the light of day.

DelinquentJimmyOlsen-WEB-796003

Read the rest of this entry »

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