Pay Attention! Comics News Round-Up 06/21/10

Hellblazer 268Trailblazer Tucker Stone on Peter Milligan, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Stefano Landini's Hellblazer: "It’s got a similarity of tone to one of the earlier Milligan stories, the one that achieved all of its drama by behaving exactly like one of those “i’m going to save the girl” soap operas right up until the point where it ended by saying that no, you dummy, the girl is dead and will always be dead and you’re as dumb as John for thinking that dead doesn’t mean dead forever. Tucker goes in on the latest arc of Vertigo's long-running series and exactly why it's both a scary story and a good tale. I've been enjoying Milligan since he started writing Hellblazer, and I hadn't even realized the very obvious thing that Tucker points out here: Milligan is writing stories that take what John Constantine is and bangs against it with a hammer. You think John is this smooth magician, John thinks that he's untouchable, and he's got a rep for being a man who gets things done. Except, no, John lurches through life, reaching out for handholds and living off luck and inertia. Milligan is doing a great job of digging into what it means to be John Constantine, and it's looking more and more like there's an ugly answer at the bottom of all of it.

Let's Battle The proprietor of Ogiue Maniax discusses fighting and shonen manga. There are certain characteristics that most shonen manga tend to share to lay the foundation for the story. A relatable hero, a rival, and so on. He makes a few interesting points about how the longer a series goes on, the worse it tends to get. When he says that sometimes series tip too far in the direction of fighting or talking, I agree with him wholeheartedly. The key ingredient in any adventure comic is striking a balance between violence and words. Some superhero comics lean a little too much toward talking, while others have too much action and not enough plot. Figuring out that balance is tricky, it seems, because so many people seem to get it wrong. Certain stories can get away with doing one or the other, but not for long. If you don't mix it up, even the most exciting fight, or thrilling conversation, becomes mundane.

NSFW Beetle Bailey Keeping it on the military side of things for a minute–I've got fond memories of reading Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey in the paper as a kid. Shaenon Garrity, gunning hard to become the newest and best national treasure, unearthed a book from 1994 that features a variety of Walker strips that were rejected for being a little… family-unfriendly, you could say. This? This redefines the phrase "That's a trip." The rejected strips don't go much father than telling some dirty jokes. They range from being remarkably dirty for what I'd assumed was a fairly clean-cut old guy to juvenile, but the simple fact that they exist is great. I mean, who knew? If you aren't at work, click through and check them out. They're definitely worth a chuckle or two. I'd love to have a copy to check out, too.

Joe Kubert's Dong Xoai

War Comics Are The Best Comics Matthew Brady digs into Joe Kubert's Dong Xoai, a book I've had some trouble articulating my feelings about. This kind of post is what's nice about the internet. I know how I feel at the book, but I don't know that i can express what I like and dislike about it properly. Brady, though, goes right at it and does a fine, fine job. He touches on the barebones nature of the book, which only serves to increase its complexity, and the way Kubert's art makes every page worth looking at. He touches briefly on the most striking thing about Dong Xoai, which is the way the soldiers never really rise above having mere rough sketches of personality. You don't spend enough time with any one soldier to really get into his head, and since the dialogue is kept to captions, you don't even really get extended dialogue scenes. They feel interchangeable. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it, but that aspect of the book serves to refocus your attention on the art. It isn't saying that they don't matter, exactly, but there's something going on there that I think is worth paying attention to. Don't get me wrong–I liked the book and I'll take any excuse to get some new art out of Joe Kubert. It's just a tough book, and one that's tough in a way that I wasn't even remotely expecting.

Online Manga Reading manga online is old hat for manga fans. Lately, though, the publishers have been fighting back against piracy and attempting to shut down the sites. Why? Read Alex Leavitt's "The Problems with the Problem of Online Manga." This is a thorough look at the vagaries of online manga piracy and even how information spreads online. I don't have much to add to it, other than the fact that's it's well worth a read. The way things work online, and especially piracy, is fascinating. It's the sort of thing that doesn't have any immediate benefit, but hey, maybe you'll impress someone at a bar because you know how many page views OneManga got before it was sued into oblivion.

Mike Mignola's The Amazing Screw-On HeadMore Mignola! Kiel Phegley at CBR wraps up his long interview series with Mike Mignola with a look at The Amazing Screw-On Head. That book, or franchise I suppose, is a small hole in my Mignola collection, but the September release of a collection will fix that. It's really fascinating that Mignola describes Hellboy as his "commercial book." He says, "It was always very important to me that there be this other thing that didn't have the logic of a shared universe or anything." This sets up a dichotomy between the Hellboy stuff, which is very intricately plotted and detailed, and Screw-On Head, which is more anything goes. I think it's interesting, and really rather fantastic, the way he picked up on a need in his own work and worked to fill that need. He really emphasizes the way he plots Screw-On Head as differently from Hellboy as possible. It's cool to see someone, especially a living legend like Mignola, working that out in public. It's normal to see less-established creators burning through works and trying to find their voice, but Mignola is a guy who has found his voice, made a whole grip of money off it, and managed to keep the quality extremely high in the middle of all of that. Who's complaining, though? Definitely not me.


David Brothers writes for 4thletter! and can't wait for the new Roots album this Tuesday.


  1. @DavidBrothers: You want to know the real source of the problem is? Study Abroad students. They get their grant (or loan), after recieving the ok from a university over at Japan and then proceed to study the culture once they arrive. The fact of the matter is ALOT of spare time spent is online, that’s just part of the culture*. So what happens? They resort to purchasing the weekly Shonen Jump (like we would ASM or Action Comics) at a very cheap price and then when done they scan it. It’s the number one cause of RAW exposure online.


    *see Otaku

  2. The Hellblazer article made me realize something. Not how great the story is; I already knew that. That Hellblazer continues to be published despite horrible sales. If this story doesn’t grip a lot of new readers it might be the real end of the line for John and the series. Scary…

  3. speaking of RAWS Naruto 500 came out this week. And it was pretty damned sweet. Best explanation of relationships I have ever witnessed. Bleach 400 (which came out a month ago) was what kick-started the DEICIDE event which was a great landmark celebration of the series as a whole. I didn’t believe it at first but the guys at shonen jump are really out doing themselves. It’s too bad I have to read the official translated version of Shonen Jump when it hits stores in oh 2012.

    My main longwinded point? Maaaaaybe if the American Shonen Jump was UP TO DATE with the WEEKLY one in Japan more people would buy it instead of reading translated RAWS online. For 2.99 I would definetly buy a weekly issue of BLEACH (I’d wait for the UP TO DATE trade of Naruto).