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Thursday, Dec 8, 2011
A PopMatters Exclusive. MAD's "20 Dumbest, 2011" hits newsstands this December. In an exclusive-access interview with MAD Editor John Ficarra, we explore Keith Olbermann's relationship with MSNBC and their parting of ways earlier this year. Also, enjoy a free download from the "20 Dumbest".

What really happened between political commentator Keith Olbermann and former employer MSNBC? Like any good back-room story, we’ll never know the full details. We heard the MSNBC’s official confirmation of Olbermann leaving Countdown and leaving the network in a tersely worded press release that intimated the parting was mutual. But the real story here, as MAD Editor John Ficarra reminds me during our interview, is not how Olbermann exited, but how he almost singlehandedly dismantled his own relevance.



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Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011
A POPMATTERS EXCLUSIVE. MAD's "20 Dumbest, 2011" hits newsstands this December. In an exclusive-access interview with MAD Editor John Ficarra, we explore Keith Olbermann's relationship with MSNBC and their parting of ways earlier this year. Also, enjoy a free download from the "20 Dumbest".

What really happened between political commentator Keith Olbermann and former employer MSNBC? Like any good back-room story, we’ll never know the full details. We heard the MSNBC’s official confirmation of Olbermann leaving Countdown and leaving the network in a tersely worded press release that intimated the parting was mutual. But the real story here, as MAD Editor John Ficarra reminds me during our interview, is not how Olbermann exited, but how he almost singlehandedly dismantled his own relevance.



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Monday, Nov 21, 2011
There's a sting knowing that I'll hold a copy of Detective Comics #1,000 in my hands. All Star Western #3 makes that all better.

It’s hard to think of a movie this past decade that could possibly top The Dark Knight. Chris Nolan’s vision is just flawless. For the first time on screen we saw a Joker who was a genuine threat. And a Batman who struggled with deep, human insecurities, despite being the tower of strength he molded himself into. It’s hard to think of a better movie this past decade. But maybe there’s an equal.


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Friday, Nov 11, 2011
As a writer-artist and a writer, Jeff Lemire has a tough balancing act ahead of him. In a PopMatters exclusive, Michael D. Stewart raps with Lemire at the historic New York Comic Con.

When it comes to Animal Man, writer Jeff Lemire has a tough balancing act ahead of him. Both in terms of the character and Lemire’s own shift from writer-artist to just writer. Animal Man, especially during his recent Vertigo years, has been about the balance between superheroics, family and strange dark elements. Lemire’s current work sees him writing and writing-drawing several series at once.


“It’s really two different parts of my brain – writing and drawing – so it’s somewhat easy to shift between the two,” he said between signing at this past New York Comic Con. “90 percent of my time is spent drawing because it takes so much physical time to do, but I’m always thinking and writing as I’m drawing.”


He’s done the writing-drawing thing on such wonderful books as the epic Essex County, the mysterious The Nobody and the ongoing post-apocalyptic Sweet Tooth.  These have all been intimate stories, firmly planted in his indie comic roots. The transition from that style to the larger scope of superhero or near-superhero comics can be tough.


“I think the important thing is to stay yourself,” Lemire said. “Keep that small, quiet voice and then apply it. The good thing about these iconic characters is that they’re like ciphers and symbols. The most successful superhero stories are when someone brings a personal vision to them.”


He gave a glimpse of what he was talking about in his short Superboy run prior to the launch of the New 52. Conner Kent on the farm in Smallville became more akin to Lester Papineau, the boy who dreamed of superheroes on the farm in Essex County. “You do you’re thing, but with superheroes,” added Lemire.


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Monday, Nov 7, 2011
Get yer red hot exclusive preview of Demon Knights #3 right here, folks, and understand why comics matters more than ever (again).

Garage Inc. wasn’t an easy album. It didn’t work in the way that metal should, it didn’t hit the right notes with the fans. Ask any commentator and the verdict was clear; Metallica was on a backslide since the Black Album. What could have possessed them to put out a metal album that didn’t scan with metal fans?


And therein lies the strange resilience of Metallica. There’s a reason your Uncle Farnham’s next-door neighbor, Buck has heard of Metallica without knowing about Trivium. Knows he will be buying a Ferrari, without ever having driven one before. Buys an iPhone and not a smartphone.


In a culture defined by nothing more than the polarities of sellout-versus-authentic, Metallica simply demolished expectations. Black demonstrated that they could put out a metal album that appealed to a mainstream audience hopped up on pop melodrama. Black worked, and in working, disavowed the expectations that were drilled into us by the Music Biz in the 80s. That we could have authentic heavy metal, that appealed to a mainstream audience and still didn’t sellout.


DC’s New 52 definitely embraces the notion that in a 21st century fraught with unparalleled opportunity and danger, comics can yet again be a vibrant medium that focuses the energies of collective life.


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