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Monday, Mar 15, 2010
An Actor Prepares: Dr. Frederic Wertham reads

An Actor Prepares:
Dr. Frederic Wertham reads “Shock!”


Strange things happened to comic books in 1954. EC Comics chief Bill Gaines tore up two of his publications at a press conference in September and said, “I have now discontinued all horror and crime comics”. Two days later, the Comics Magazine Association of America held its own press conference, at which they announced the now-infamous Comics Code.


“A staff of five censors was working full-time, screening comic-book layouts after the inking stage”, writes David Hadju in The Ten-Cent Plague. “The Code was an unprecedented (and never surpassed) monument of self-imposed repression and prudery”.


In April that same year, the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearings on comic books and juvenile delinquency began, and the first person to give testimony was Dr. Frederick Wertham, author of Seduction of the Innocent, which had pretty much kicked off the brouhaha. Among the comics he cited were issues of Crime SuspenStories from EC Comics and The Thing by Charlton Comics.


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Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010

Some time after I graduated high school, I had a factory job making pretty good money. I was still living with my parents, and had very few bills to pay. Much like any responsible 18-year-old, I immediately spent any extra money I had. Often times, this was in the form of comic books, video games, cd’s, or eating out. Usually, I would make these purchases on impulse, with very little information known before hand. This was the case with the graphic novel Preacher: Gone to Texas published by DC/Vertigo. I did not know what exactly I was buying. All I knew was that Preacher was a fairly successful series from the mid ‘90s, and I had $14.95 burning a hole in my pocket, that I absolutely had to get rid of.


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Tuesday, Mar 9, 2010
What the American public doesn't know is what makes them the American public.

The worst part about “Brand New Day”, Marvel’s quasi-reboot of the on-going adventures of the amazing Spider-Man a couple years ago, was how they made his identity secret again.  Never mind that at least two decades of continuity were rendered irrelevant with the flick of a switch.  Never mind that the editorial interference of Joe Quesada nearly pushed writer J. Michael Straczynski to remove his name from the finished product. The biggest Missed Direction as regards Peter Parker and the world at large knowing that he is Spider-Man is that Marvel already knew how to recover from this sort of dramatic change for a character, yet they still took the easy out.


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Sunday, Mar 7, 2010

‘Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules—and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress’.
-  Ransom K. Fern, Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan


‘And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!’
-  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan Or, A Vision In A Dream. A Fragment.”


‘Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction’.
-  Pablo Picasso


The perfect page is something many comicbook creators spend their entire careers searching for. The perfection of that single, solitary page is something that very few creators ever achieve in their entire careers, save for the elite few: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and later Moore and Eddie Campbell. Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson.


Well, despite not having yet earned the reputation of a team like Lee/Kirby or even Ellis/Robertson, Jason Aaron and R. M. Guera of Scalped can be added to that list of creative teams who have, effectively, created a single, perfect page. Not only does this one page boils down the entirety of the work to a five panel log-line, but it also manages to craft a brilliant critique of colonization, genocide, the repetition of history, the ownership of this world, and the act of creation itself.


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Thursday, Mar 4, 2010

not simple unfolds like an intricately constructed piece of origami. Start with the title. It isn’t ‘complicated’, for example. ‘Not’ and ‘simple’: the two words appear late in the story, when one character attempts to describe what she thinks of the main character in this unusual manga. She calls him ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’:


‘But not like a child. You’re hard to grasp. You’re not simple’, she says.


Those few words encapsulate the entire 316 page story. They’re practically a haiku.


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