Pay Attention! Comics News Round-Up 07/12/10

Katsuhiro Otomo's Domu-The Language of Comics You ever think about how you read comics? You know, whether or not the techique on the page goes deeper than "This happened, and then this happened?" Sean Witzke explores the relationship between comics and film and, well, dang, it was one of the best things I read last week. I'm not even sure if I have a favorite part or if it's all just great. His breakdown of the blackouts in a recent volume of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Criminal was fantastic, particularly the suggestion that you don't have to identify with Teeg Lawless, just understand him. It's a switch from a lot of comics, where you're expected to look at the protagonist as a hero, rather than just a protagonist. Sean runs through several books and scenes in this post. He deconstructs Frank Miller, Brett Lewis and John Paul Leon, Steve Ditko, JH Williams III, Akura Kurosawa, Gabriel Ba, and several others. This is Comics Church, so pull up a pew and pay attention.

-Two Surprises In This One Johanna Draper Carlson zeroes in on one story with two surprises. First–former Sonic the Hedgehog comic writer Ken Penders has filed for and won copyright, and ownership, of every story he wrote while employed by Archie Comics. He did Sonic the Hedgehog for over 140 issues, so that's a pretty considerable body of work. Second–Sonic the Hedgehog has been going on all this time? All jokes aside, this is pretty fascinating. Archie Comics is known for being very… aggressive in terms of controlling the characters under their umbrella. For a writer to find some hole in a contract that gives him ownership of everything he created while working for Archie is unbelievable. Did Archie slip up? Is this some kind of fancy shell game? Is he getting by on guts and confidence? I don't have enough facts to be sure, but this could prove to be very interesting. This isn't as landmark of a case as the Kirby heirs trying to get what's due to them, but it could still be big. (Johanna also links to a few forum posts of fans angry that this guy has exerted some measure of control over characters he [maybe] owns because it'll disrupt their comic collecting. Those fans are capital S Silly.)

-Free Association Reviewing Abhay from Savage Critics picks up a comic no one's ever heard of and looks at what it means for the state of American pop culture. This is not just a cautionary tale on the perils of buying bad comic books. It's a study of how our standard for action heroes has changed (Adrien Brody has stepped into Arnold Schwarzeneggar's shoes, for example) and the way that unremarkable books make it to store shelves without anyone noticing. It's also the first sighting of former Flash artist Alberto Dose in several years, right? He drew the post-Blitz arc of Flash with Geoff Johns, where everyone forget who the Flash was, including Wally West. Love him or hate him, but Abhay is never boring.

Grant Morrison's Popcrime

-Crime As Performance Art Zom of the Mindless Ones focuses some brain cells towards the idea of "popcrime," which is best described as "what Batman villains do." The most boring aspect of Batman's various villains have been when they go on murder sprees because "wa ha hey we're evil!" or whatever. The performance art aspect of it, where it's kind of like method acting and the world's your stage, is exciting, though. The Joker isn't The Joker because he's a mass murderer. He's The Joker because he's a murderer with a gimmick beyond "I want to kill everything." This is the sort of strong analysis that makes comics so much more interesting. Popcrime is vastly more interesting than regular old murder, mayhem, and robbery. Let's see more of that and fewer generic super criminals! Throw some Adam West in those books.

Satsuma Gishiden

-The Manga You Should've Read Kate Dacey drops some science on manga you're not reading. I read a lot of manga, or at least I thought I did, but there's some surprises on this list, which I guess is why it's called "manga you're not reading!" The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924 sounds super interesting, and I think Kate's suggested Satsuma Gishiden to me personally before. Click on through and see if there's something that tickles your fancy.

Golgo 13: Duke Togo-The Professional I must've seen The Professional: Golgo 13 when I was seven or eight years old. That's the kind of movie that makes an impression on a young kid, what with all the sex and violence. Thus, it really floated my boat earlier this week when a couple of unrelated sites posted dual appreciations of the franchise in advance of the upcoming DVD release of the recent TV show. Scott Green at Ain't It Cool News talks about the DVD set and Mike Toole at Anime News Network places the series in historical context. If you want an easy explanation for Duke Togo, better known as Golgo 13, imagine the illegitimate son of James Bond (I believe that there are hints to that effect in the book) crossed with Richard Stark's Parker. He only sleeps with women once before moving on (relationships make him bored), he shows no fear, no one knows where he came from, and he's unstoppable once he's put his mind toward a gig. The stories aren't about whether or not he'll do the job successfully so much as "how is he going to win this time." Call it Alpha Male Plus.

-What Is It Good Fuh Paul Gravett on war comics in two words: worth reading. A lot of essays on war comics, and I'm guilty of this too, tend to focus solely on the action or the creators. Gravett takes a look at it from a more holistic perspective and finds some interesting things to talk about. I'd only be doing him a disservice by paraphrasing with some of my glib commentary, so go on and read that.


David Brothers writes for 4thletter! and is almost definitely your favorite writer's favorite writer.


  1. The blog on Popcrime was really thought-provoking. It’s something all Batman fans have come accross before, but served as a great Monday morning brain-breakfast. The thread following it was a fun read too. Some brainy folks over there at Mindless Ones.

  2. Never really gave conscious thought to ‘pop-crime’  Pretty interesting idea, especially since many comic fans have already synthesized it, without really analyzing it

  3. That first "Language of Comics" article was fantastic!

  4. Thanks again!