May 2003 Archives

Fantagraphics S.O.S.

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Indie comics publisher Fantagraphics has fallen on hard times. You can help out by buying some of their books.

Fire brings site down

If you tried to reach this site yesterday and were unable to, it was because of a fire that affected the servers for my weblog and many others. I wasn't able to post to In Sequence or to work on the migration of this weblog to the Movable Type content management system, which is now in progress.
I've managed to install the MT application, but I haven't moved my posts or comments yet. The prospect is a bit scary because who knows what could go wrong. Still, I'm excited about some of the upgrades I'll be able to put in place as a result of the switch, like better permalinks, category archives, and so on.

No E3 report this year

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I've reported on the E3 Expo for the last two years, but I didn't attend this year, instead relying on news from multiple sources, including the new Slashdot Games, Gamegirl Advance, and GamerFeed. In fact, my gaming experience this weekend was quite lo tech. Somehow, possibly through the work of Satan, I wound up in a Games Workshop store, watching a public Warhammer game in progress while about a jillion dollars worth of Warhammer miniatures beckoned to me from the surrounding walls. Thankfully, the Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend showed up in time to wisk me away to look at a pair of shoes before a financially fatal connection could be made between the Games Workshop cash register and my VISA card.
Meanwhile, back on the video game front, it was announced that the stars of Alias will be lending their voices to the upcoming video game based on the series. I was sad to hear that star Lena Olin, who plays Sydney Bristow's mother, does not seem to have a role in the game, since the mother-daughter shooting exchanges are, in my opinion, one of the show's highlights.

Gary Panter in TCJ

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I finally finished reading the interview with Gary Panter that appeared in the print edition of The Comics Journal. It took me back to my first exposure to Panter, through the Jimbo comic that appeared in the pages of the punk magazine Slash.
I was maybe around 16 back then, deeply into the Los Angeles punk scene, and unsure of how I felt about Jimbo. There was an arty side of punk rock and a stupid side of punk rock and I couldn't figure out which side Jimbo was on. Jimbo's brawny naivete could have stood in for punk's muscular approach toward received notions as it strove to create a new music and sensibility. Or, Jimbo might represent one of the many rude, stupid youths who so often managed to kick me in the head while stage-diving during concerts.
Later, I ran across a colorful copy of RAW in my local record store. Seeing Jimbo again, outside of a punk context, made me understand Jimbo as a comic character on his own, instead of as part of Slash. It was sort of disconcerting because it suddenly joined together in my mind two things that I usually thought of us separate: the comics subculture and the punk subculture.
Panter mentions interviewing Philip K. Dick for Slash, which freaked me out because I remember that interview and the impact it had on me at the time. Dick was well aware of what was going on in the punk underground, enough to have formed opinions about it. After reading the interview, I went out and searched for Dick's novels in used book stores, since I couldn't find them in print.
Dick's ideas were interesting, but it was really just knowing he existed that mattered to me. As a teenager, it was important to know that it was possible to resist conventional beliefs and ways of doing things and also survive for as long as Dick had. Most of the punks I looked up to were in their late 20s then, and whether they would live longer than that was an open question. Punk band leader Darby Crash had recently died, on the very same day that John Lennon, one of my counterculture idols, was killed. Knowing about Dick allowed me to imagine that I might be able to live my life in a way besides what was expected and also reach old age.
Back to Panter. His website is under construction, but there are a lot of examples of his work on the net, including at The Comics Journal link above. I was surprised to find his work Dal Tokyo, which I was unfamiliar with before reading about it in the TCJ interview, available on the web.
I enjoyed reading about Panter's religious upbringing in the interview, as well as his experiences moving around the country with his family. That combination of dislocation and strong religion seems to me very typical of the U.S. and has such a marked influence on our art. I suppose that's how Jimbo came to be wandering around Dante's Purgatory.

Comics postage stamps

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Via Dublog comes news of the Comics Strip Classics postage stamp page. I'm not a philatelist, but I love the way the perforations on the stamps suggest comic panels!

Forsyte book series

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Last fall I wrote about the serial production of The Forsyte Saga, which aired in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theater. It was a sumptuous production, more so even than the usual Masterpiece fare. But beyond the look of the thing, I was captured by the moral ambiguity of the story's characters. So much so that I decided to download the book at Project Gutenberg and give it a read.
Once I opened the file, I realized that I was not dealing with one book, but rather, three. The Forsyte Saga is a book series, told across several novels, novellas, and short stories. That's what makes it interesting as a series: it is a single epic story told through multiple and varied print formats. The first novel, "The Man of Property," is told in the Masterpiece dramatization, as is the second novel. By visiting the Masterpiece Theater website, I soon discovered that a second and third production are already under way and will continue to dramatize the rest of the saga.
Like so many other PBS web sites, the Masterpiece site is exceedingly well done and full of all kinds of interesting features. There is a book club, a forum, and even recipes for scones and other bookish treats. They also offer a newsletter which I immediately subscribed to, and which I can recommend for its timely updates and previews. In an unexpected and rather un-ExxonMobil kind of way, the Forsyte section of the website even has a links section that points visitors to Project Gutenberg.
I finished reading "The Man of Property" and found it to be tremendously nuanced on matters of class and money. If you have any interest in economic history or class studies you will find it a joy. There is also a kind of urgency in the writing, as though the author were keen to unburden himself of his material, which makes the novel seem to move quickly. I also got what I was looking for in the novel, which was more insight into the motivations of the characters, and greater understanding of the mysterious and beautiful Irene.
I often find, in reading novels from the past, that I run across some old saying or mannerism that has gone by the wayside but deserves revival. For example, in "A Man of Property," I noticed that the characters believe the liver to be the root of much illness, and constantly refer to it while making excuses for their behavior. It's what "stress" was, I think, before there was stress. There's no reason, really, why this excellent concept couldn't be revived for present day use. Try it yourself:

  • I ate a large meal and now my liver is off. I'm afraid I won't be returning to my desk after lunch.

  • You will have to excuse me from attending your party this evening. I've been having tremendous problems with my liver lately.

  • I know I am late sending you a check, but my liver is acting up, and of course it effects everything.

Bad reviews for Batman game

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Ouch! I guess the reviews are in for the console game Batman: Dark Tomorrow and the consensus is it sucks pretty bad. Like go-hide-your-head-under-a-rock bad. It's a shame, since the graphics look dark, detailed and moody.

Jaspanic game title

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In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I call to your attention an upcoming PlayStation 2 game: Low Rider. Originally launched in Japan, the title is now going to be released in North America as well.

Free comic book day 2003

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Sadly, my local comic book shop was not participating in free comic book day today. But it was alright after all, because it gave me an excuse to venture a bit further to Golden Apple Comics, which was participating in a big way.
I waited in a fairly long line for my share of the booty, which turned out to be 18 comics, one Incredible Hulk Hero Clix, some "Free Comic Book Day" stickers and a button, and a couple of comics posters. Very, very worth it! An unexpected bonus was the presence of long-time Archie writer George Gladir, who was doing a signing. He was really cool and even drew a picture of my favorite Archie comics character, Jughead, on my comic book.
A lot of the folks in line were talking about the X-Men 2 movie, which a few people had seen the night before. They all gave it a thumbs up. Before leaving, I bought a generous handful of comics, just to say "thank you" to the shop for participating.

War effects

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Regular readers of In Sequence may have noticed a sizable gap between posts last month. As a blog reader myself, I've also noticed that several other bloggers stopped posting during the same time period or even abandoned their sites for good.
There are many reasons why people stop blogging for awhile--one may be busy with work or personal concerns, "blog fatigue" sets in, and so forth. For myself, I was indeed very busy during the past month, but it seems to me more than a coincidence that my absence from this weblog coincided with the recent war in Iraq.
I've been thinking about something I once heard in connection with domestic violence. It's the idea that when an abusive person is violent to another person or to an inanimate object, the violence is intended to send a message--an implied threat--to others who may not be the direct recipient of violence but who are witness to it.
Extrapolating on this theory to the national level, it's probably true that many people in the U.S. have been experiencing a certain amount of "shock and awe" lately. I don't say this to detract from the violence committed against the Iraqi population, but simply to affirm that the recent demonstration of brutality by the U.S. has consequences at home. One of the chief repercussions of the war domestically, I think, is censorship, both from external and internal sources.
I become quiet when awed. Shock creates speechlessness. I consider what I have not spoken in the last month, much less written. If these questions concern you, too, I recommend that you read Erik Davis's article, Shadow Dancing, a personal exploration of fear in connection with U.S. politics. Let me know what you think.

Fairy tale quiz

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I know it's cheap blogging, but I just couldn't help myself. Found via Turn of the Friendly Die, here is my result for the Which Fairy Tale Archetype Are You? quiz. Please note the comic book tie-in provided at the bottom, where Spawn is listed as a famous anti-hero. When I read the line "you're probably known for being very cynical and bitter" I couldn't resist it.
In case you can't read the badge, it says in full:

"You're a typical anti-hero--that is to say, you're an atypical hero. Anti-heros lack the typical qualities of a hero: bravery, optimism, etc., and yet they still manage to save the day. As an anti-hero, you're probably known for being very cynical and bitter. Your sarcastic wit is so sharp it could cut a turkey. You have no desire to save the world and don't really believe you could, but when the heat is on you somehow always manage to show the world what you're made of. Now get over yourself! Famous anti-heros: Toby Dexter, Spawn."

Han Solo looking like a rouge
So which fairy tale archetype are you? Hmm??

made by Michelle at EmptySpace.

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