Funnybook Babylon

April 20, 2011

FBBP #134: EisnerWatch: Nick Spencer

Welcome to the New Look, New Technology Funnybook Babylon Podcast, powered by Skype and an overenthusiastic Chris editing the show so we all sound like we’re hopped up on amphetamines!

We’re taking a look at the Eisner nominees, starting with Nick Spencer. We read Morning Glories and Jimmy Olsen and… we apologize to his fans in advance.

Admittedly, we’ve been harsh to early works by creators like Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman before, and later came around to appreciating their talent. Why is this a pattern? We discuss that, pick apart Jimmy Olsen’s musical taste, try to remember what Rules of Engagement was, and much, much more!

June 8, 2010

FBBP #126 – Four Number Ones

As a follow-up to our theoretically award-eligible podcast Three Number Ones, Funnybook Babylon planned to look at Four Number Ones, the Billboard #1 singles on our respective birthdays!

Sadly, due to a quirk of fate, our birthdays are paired closely together, so we only have two number ones:

MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer (Chris & Jamaal)
Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes (Joseph & Pedro)

So we had to go with our backup plan: reviewing comics. I think we can all agree those are a couple of wretched songs; will the comics be any better?
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March 9, 2009

Page Appreciation: David Aja and a Damn Amazing Piece of Storytelling from Daredevil #116

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 10:39 am

Gonna go ahead and say it: David Aja is the best thing to happen to comic book art since J.H. Williams III.

His technical and formal inventiveness is off the goddamn charts, and recently my co-Savage-Critic-ite Tucker Stone brought up what was a really damn great piece of storytelling from last week, Ed Brubaker and David Aja’s Daredevil #116. He liked it a lot, but he omitted one portion, one page that blew the brain out of my head and really made me want to contribute to the panel/page dissection initiated by those geniuses over at Mindless Ones – this little masterpiece. I’ve cut out the narration for the purposes of both avoiding spoilers and focusing purely on the art.
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January 30, 2009

Waited for the Trade – Doubleshot!

huntress1Huntress: Year One
collects Huntress: Year One #1-6
written by Ivory Madison
art by Cliff Richards
DC Comics

DC’s Year One concept has become something of an institution lately, with everyone from Metamorpho to Two-Face to Green Arrow getting miniseries under its banner, complete with a “Year One” logo. Each series fleshes out the character’s origin, usually by filling in the details of their pre-superheroic life. Huntress: Year One doesn’t deviate from this formula, following Helena Bertinelli from her 21st birthday through her getting the Huntress costume and meeting Batman and his allies for the first time, what seems to be a period of a few months.
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January 11, 2009

“Get your politics out of my superheroes!” “Get your SUPERHEROES out of my POLITICS!”

Politics! Superhero comics! THE TOPIC OF TODAY!

Superman #24

Superman #24

Anyone reading comics news sites has surely seen the 175-car pile-up that is the Robot 6 comment thread to Bill Willingham’s article on politics and superheroes. (I love how the Superman picture chosen there is the Alex Ross pose that mirrors the famous Alex Ross Obama t-shirt.) The comment thread is a completely unjustifiable clusterfuck, the kind of thing Internet bingo cards were invented for, that’s pretty quickly devolved into the standard ideological baiting and namecalling you always get when people talk politics on the Internet, with poor Kurt Busiek standing in the middle as an oasis of sanity.
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October 22, 2008

Pull List Analysis for October 22, 2008

It’s a big week for known quantities at Marvel and DC, as their respective Summer Blockbusters stretch into sweaterweather.

finalcrisis4

After last week’s Rogues’ Revenge and Legion of Three Worlds tie-ins, the fourth issue of the core Final Crisis title by Grant Morrison and JG Jones (and Carlo Pacheco, and Doug Mahnke… what up’s, Jonesy?) drops, its “gap month” extended to ten weeks. We’re also getting Submit, a one-shot by Grant Morrison and Matthew Clark. David will be stepping up with annotations later today.

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October 9, 2008

FBBP #75 – O Captain! My Captain!

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 10:23 am

A lively discussion of Captain America is followed by an impromptu rambling eulogy for DC’s Minx line of graphic novels. None of us (and I’m guessing none of you) are the target young female audience for these books, but that doesn’t stop us from devolving into a McLaughlin Group style roundtable on how Minx succeeded and failed.

August 27, 2008

FBBP #68 – Out of Nowhere…

Filed under: Podcasts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 9:29 am

With Pedro and Jamaal doing adult things, we brought in a ringer. Jon Bernhardt came up from Baltimore to chat about the first issue of Air, G. Willow Wilson & M.K. Perker’s new Vertigo ongoing.

Then, a surprise visitor arrived just in time for our discussion of Captain America #41 by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting. I bet if you whisper “Captain America” three times in your bathroom mirror, Pedro will show up at your house too, looking for beer.
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May 6, 2008

FBB Ten Cent Plague Convo Pt. 3: Burnin’ Bright

Burn!

Pedro,

The accounts of the book burning were easily the most chilling aspect of the book. For me, it really undermined the moral authority claimed by comics critics of the time. Although it’s hard to ignore the legitimacy of some of the arguments, namely that comics of the time weren’t very good, were often made in bad and exploitative working conditions, I wonder why Dr. Wertham, Senator Estevauer and other critics paid so little attention to the actions of some of the people that adopted their cause. This was particularly the case with the extra-governmental wing of the anti-comics movement.

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April 16, 2008

FBBP #53 – Superman’s Foreign Policy Regarding Tensions between Tehran and Kandor

This week we talk Criminal #2, The new Howard Zinn comic book, and Pedro comes clean about JSA. Chris got his hands on some preview copies of some Minx Books, and relates his experiences.

We also have a deeper conversation of the about the ign Geoff Johns interview, and I ask “Why should we care?” This inevitably goes into the continuous continuity conversation.

Bringing in a topic that me and Jamaal usually have everyday over beers, this Superman foreign policy article made the rounds of the podcast.

Finally we wrapped up with a discussion of Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker’s decision to leave Iron Fist, and the implications of short vs. long runs on title characters.

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 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 4, 2008

FBBP #47 – A Date with Doctor Doom

Caution: The Funnybook Babylon Podcast contains mature language and content.

[00:00] :
Chris Eckert’s open letter to the New York Comic Con. He advocates the new FBB con dress code. – For further details view this educational clipmirror.

[03:50] :

This is the greatest idea that this podcast has formed.

Image provided by 4th letter‘s Hoatzin.

We expose the next big Marvel book spinning out of Secret Invasion. You better get your duct tape, Internet, cause we broke you like we were Iverson.

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February 27, 2008

Pull List Reviews for 2/27/08

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — David Uzumeri @ 5:33 pm

This… is going to be long.

Before I begin, this week has three Ed Brubaker books, two Geoff Johns books, two Mike Carey books, a Mark Millar book, a Brian Michael Bendis book, a Greg Rucka book, a Grant Morrison book, a Frank Miller book, and a Jeff fucking Smith book. The new releases shelf is a dizzying array of talent this week.

All Star Batman & Robin #9All Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder #9: This is a really fantastic comic that, with this issue, really starts to show its range. As a matter of fact, I’d say this issue serves as a good breather after eight issues of high-octane insanity – but not before the first half of the issue, which, as anyone who’s checked out the preview can attest, is one of the funniest scenes in recent memory and certainly cements this Batman as an updated version of his trickster self from the Silver Age. The second half starts off like a record stopping, as the book changes mood dramatically in a way that’s perfectly consistent and finally brings some humanity to these loonies after Batman has a much-needed moment of clarity. It’s taken a while to get there, but this is easily in the pantheon with Miller’s other Batman work.

Action Comics #862: The highlight of this Legion arc so far as a few issues I had were brought to the surface, especially the fact that the whole Legion-reject thing was kind of dickish of the Legion, as well as Gary Frank continuing to settle in and get comfortable and typically cool (without being senseless) action that you’d expect from Geoff Johns. Not a masterpiece, but better than basically anyone’s come to expect from a monthly Superman comic.

Batman #674Batman #674: Tony Daniel has improved immensely over his stay on this title, and Sandu Florea’s inks raise the game as well. I’m a huge fan of Daniel’s creepy new depiction of Bat-Mite, who Morrison is reintroducing brilliantly. Anyone who’s read the recent Newsarama interview knows just how much thought Grant has put into Batman’s life and character, and that love and understanding oozes from every pore of this page to the point where my only complaint is that it almost might be too jarring and confusing for non-longtime Batman fans. It certainly has more impact if you’ve read all the wacky ’60s shit it’s referencing. That said, it’s a fantastic issue that continues to raise the bar on this run. (more…)

December 18, 2007

Random Bits and Pieces

They are owned by huge, creativity-deadening corporations and operated by lawyers and marketing executives who lord over the worst creative decline I have witnessed in a long time, particularly in films. In television, companies like GE view properties like NBC the way realtors view square footage. GE does not care what is on NBC. So long as the programming is relatively inoffensive, they want to earn as much per square foot as they can.
Alec Baldwin

It’s a slow, slow time in the comics blogosphere, so when I decided to take a break from writing memos and preparing for meetings, I had to write about some completely random things. Two of them are related and all are tangentially connected to the comics industry.

1. Newsarama posted the first part of a wide-ranging interview with Paul Levitz, publisher of DC Comics, about the state of the company. Some interesting quotes:

In response to Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited program:

I wish Marvel well with it. I hope they’ve figured out something that a bunch of fans like at a price that the fans find appropriate, and that it’s a workable model for them. If it is, we’ll certainly look hard at it over time.

I think we have a few different views of the area than Marvel, one is if we’re going to do something where we’re distributing our material online, then we would certainly want to have figured out how the talent was going to participate in revenues that we were going to make. And that’s an extraordinarily complicated nightmare. If you set out to say…we’ve published probably 40,000 comic books in the course of our history…so if in one extreme you sat there and said, “I’m going to put 40,000 comic books online for people to read, the prospect of sorting the rights out for that, writing checks to the talent is pretty nightmarish.

This brings two things to mind. The obvious one is that I think that Levitz should hold company workshops on communicating a message to the media. He’s saying things designed to resonate with every audience. If you’re a fan, he implies (in his discussion of the administrative difficulties) that when DC figures out an online initiative, it is less likely to limit the amount of material available to the degree that Marvel has. If DC wanted to release limited portions of its archives for an online service, working out talent payments would not be particularly overwhelming. I would imagine that a publisher would be able to track the number of people who are accessing particular issues/runs, and develop some kind of pricing system. If you’re a creator, he’s telling you that DC will not take any rash actions before figuring out your compensation.

His patience and deliberation could also be seen as a positive for management/shareholders (to the extent they know that DC is part of Time Warner).

There’s no question that people are willing to read some comics online if they don’t have to pay for them. The question is: does anybody have a value proposition where a reasonable number of people are willing to pay for them? Will people ultimately want it all to be ad-supported, which seems how most online entertainment is being delivered these days? And is there an ad-supported methodology that makes sense for flat comic book pages?

Owners/managers of traditional i/p companies don’t want to hear about non-monetized technical innovation. The truth is, that on some basic level, no one knows whether online ad support is or will be sufficient to fully replace present revenue from print ads. In the end, we all know that it’ll have to, but that’s in the future. Managers want to keep their job now. Shareholders want a return in the next few months. This kind of hard-nosed skepticism is great for them.

His responses are also candy to the media:

NRAMA: Has DC done any kind of study or estimate in regards to how much money it feels it has lost due to online piracy?

PL: I haven’t a clue.

This is the kind of ‘honesty’ that makes journalists wet. If you don’t believe me, look at John McCain. Phony straight talk is like manna to the media.

But the more interesting, less obvious point made in the interview is this:

If you set out to say…we’ve published probably 40,000 comic books in the course of our history…so if in one extreme you sat there and said, “I’m going to put 40,000 comic books online for people to read, the prospect of sorting the rights out for that . . . is pretty nightmarish

I read a good article a couple of weeks ago about this, but I assumed that since Time/Warner employed so many attorneys, someone would have been working on this. It’s kind of sad.

2. Dick Hyacinth was right about the Trader Joe’s Gorgonzola Walnut Tortellini. It is really good, especially for a Lazy Man’s dinner.

3. Tom Brevoort on the Marvel Creative Retreat:

For the next 48 hours, we’ll be brainstorming on the overall direction of the future of the Marvel line, from the end of 2008 and the climax of SECRET INVASION well into 2009 and beyond. There are a bunch of ideas and plans already buzzing through the halls, but inevitably everything is going to change before our metting time is done. The only real certainty is that there’ll be some moment somewhere within the two days when I’ll change color.

Like in the past, it’ll be an interesting combination and collision of any number of creative mindsets, and virtually nobody’s storylines will escape completely unscathed–but hopefully better for having come through the experience. For myself, the two big areas of interest will be in getting to know Matt Fraction, who’s been doing some outstanding work lately, and who’s really a guy to watch, and spending some time picking the brain of Allan Heinberg, who’s one of the best guys in the business when it comes to breaking stories and making sure that character motivations and reactions remain true to the characters. This is the first Marvel summit that either of these guys has attended, so it’ll be interesting to see how they interact with the rest of the group (and how the group functions without Mark Millar or J. Michael Straczynski in the room this time, both of whom had other commitments that prevented them from attending.)

This is the moment when the future gets decided, so look for updates as things progress.

Even though I like quite a bit of what Marvel publishes, and think that the quality of the writing, art, and editing has undergone an amazing improvement since the 80’s – ’90’s, these kinds of corporate retreats kind of make me nauseous. The older I get, the more my enjoyment of comics is connected to an appreciation of the craft and creativity that goes into them (1). I really don’t care about the strategy and the coordination. When I read Bendis’ Daredevil, Brubaker’s Captain America, or Pak’s Incredible Hulk, I’m interested in their work, and not its relationship to an intricate larger universe. I guess that the shared universe aspect of the genre (at least as practiced by the Big Two) doesn’t really appeal to me anymore. Or maybe it’s just that I used to work for a big corporation, and got cheery e-mails like this for company retreats that made me want to stick pencils in my eyes.

(1): I wouldn’t say that this is a maturity issue, just a personal one. There’s nothing worse than when people link maturity to appreciation of a genre. You didn’t ‘grow out’ of it, you just stopped liking it. And there is a real difference.

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