Saturday, November 05, 2011

Greg Capullo Batman (and digital comic reading)

"There are times when I have closed a Marvel comic, and then I've opened the bible and read the Book of Job, and I've thought: "Job, you really have nothing on the Marvel reader." - Andy Ihnatko.

Andy Ihnatko talks about DC Comics' big "52" reset in his inaugural episode of his new podcast Ihnatko's Almanac (recommended. Ihnatko is bright and funny, and talks fast but thinks twice as fast). So I decided to check out a couple more of the titles. (I bought a couple of titles last month but they didn't stick with me.)  What I decided on was Batman and Superman, which were the two biggest superheroes when I was a kid in the sixties. Isn't it interesting how that really has not changed? There's something about a really iconic character which makes it stick, I guess. Everything about Batman and Superman screams "the yin and yang of superheroes". The dark avenger, and the shining power-hero.

So far I like Batman, it's written well by Scott Snyder, and drawn by Greg Capullo, who did a good job on Spawn many years ago, and it doing a great job now on Batman. It is clearly "comic booky" art, it doesn't try to be photo-realistic (a big mistake in my book) but yet it is advanced and dynamic, with a controlled complexity which I'm sure is not easy to achieve. (Many early Image artists for example drew complexly, but the result was usually messy, like much complex art tends to be.)

Here's a panel from issue one. Quite Frank Miller-inspired, I think (The Dark Knight Returns), but evolved and independent.

Ihnatko points out that the whole idea behind the "52" reset was to get new readers, and re-acquire the readers which have fell off the wagon years ago. I've been agin' it, thinking it stupid and reckless to just ditch 60 years of history, but... I must admit that it got me back for now. The regular titles had simply become so dragged down with supplots and history that a new reader had a very hard time getting into it, and for years I hadn't even tried.

It is not a "year zero" reset as it were, for example all three (or four, I can't keep up) young men who are or have been Robin in the past are still around. But they will apparently try to do it at a level where new readers won't just throw the book (or their iPad) into the fireplace in confused frustration. I hope they can keep it up, but I ain't holding my breath, knowing human nature and the nature of writers, publishers, and editors. Once they have new readers, they will probably try to keep them around by building up fresh layers of never-ending subplots (god, X-men, sigh) and history. We'll see.

... Re Batman (2011-), I really like the new logo too. That's also not an easy job, making something fresh with something with such a history.

(See the detail in the texture, click for bigger.) 

Above, a really well designed page from issue two. I like that they have not ruined the overall look of the page with white text fields. It has long been a pet peeve of mine that text and speech ballons are almost never designed into a comic page, they usually just sh*t all over it.

It is funny, by the way: I never intended to stop buying and reading comics, and I'm not totally sure how it happened because until about... 2006? I had been to the comics shop every durn week for 25 years or so. But after that my stack on my bedstand was gathering dust. So after a while I put it into the top drawer instead. And three years later I finally realized: frig, I'm probably never gonna get around to reading these issues, lets put them in the stack in the closet.

If there are really good new comics in the future, the iPad may keep me around them again. Though like Ihnatko points out and like I've been saying: the screen on the iPad 1 and 2 is juuuust two small (and relatively low-res) to be really comfortable reading comics on. If you have the whole page on the screen, most comics are hard to read, both regarding the text and the art. What I want is a 12-inch iPad with twice the pixel pitch.

What I do, currently, by the way, is reading the comics with the iPad in landscape orientation, and then first read the top half of the page and then the bottom half. The auto-panel-navigation that they have seems clever at first, but then it starts to suck. In comics, the relationship between the panels is as important as the single panels. I don't know why, but it is. (Thanks to the book/comic Understanding Comics for this insight.)

Gervais slapstick

I don't watch stuff like Golden Globes, but I looked it up because I was about to watch a talkshow with Johnny Depp on, and Ricky Gervais was on there too, and this was brought up.
I always felt Ricky was a slimy character, almost creepy, and this didn't change my mind.       :-)

Really, like Robert Downey Jr says here about the tone of Gervais' presentation: "hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones". You can't help but laugh sometimes, but he really is revoltingly venomous and hateful under his slick, handsome smile.
(That RDJ is pretty revolting too here is another matter.)

Hedgehogs are neato

More hogs.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I had Tivo a decade ago, and really liked it. But it was pushed off the market here in the UK. But now it's back, and I got mine today. I can't believe just how much superior the box and service is to the standard virgin cable box (even on + service). It's awesome. Just the Search functionality alone is worth it, and then comes how it learns your taste, etc.

(Even if the cable box had worked as intended, it would still be way inferior, but it was so incredibly buggy and unstable that I was really happy to get rid of it.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

For writers

National Novel Writing Month begins now!
(A bit of a misnomer, for it's decidedly international by now.)
It's a yearly online workshop where people set themselves the goal of writing a full novel during November. (If you think that's hard, let it be known that some guys do the same, only in 24-hour workshops.)

Japan, six months after earth quake

[Thanks to Bert]
One thing you can't get around re the Japanese: dang, these fokkers can WORK! Like Bert said: "The Japanese certainly earned more of my respect and admiration."
Six months after, photo essay.

(click for big pic)