The plight of the poor comic book fan is a lamentable one. New books pop out from companies big and small every week, and magically wing their way to your local comics emporium. They taunt your impecunious self from the shelves, their inviting covers sullied by that capitalist formality known as a “price”. It’s easy to get discouraged. That fistful of dollars you scraped together by eating ramen for a month doesn;t go very far in a world of $3.00+ pamphlets and $20 trades.
And this is how you come to miss out on books that yo’ve been waiting for, getting excited for, even craving. Stop going to the comic shop, and everything ends up passing you by. Books you’ve been following for years start slipping past you, new gems you should be discovering come and go without being noticed.
This is how I ended up missing Suburban Glamour when it was originally published.
See, we here at the Successless Comics Blog are big fans of Phonogram, the music-as-magic Britpop exegesis in comics form by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Gillen’s story dug deep into the troughs of nostalgia and critical appreciation for one’s past, ably aided by McKelvie’s stark and delicious ligne claire artwork. Throw in a giant helping of Britpop minutiae, and you have a recipe for excellence. The resulting 6-issue series was a sure success on all levels, and I look forward to the ofrthcoming follow-up with baited breath.
But While I waited, I noticed that McKelvie had a solo book due out soon! Not to tortue the Phonogram band metaphor too much, but I wondered if it would be a breakout solo release by a capable collaborator, or a side project doomed to languish in obscurity and mediocrity. I was pretty sure the art would kick ass, either way.
Then I went broke and missed it when it was published. Fortunately, Half Price Books in Capitol Hill came to the resuce this weekend, and I scored a full run for hlaf off the cover price. A little tattered, but here at Successless, we know comics are for reading, not collecting.
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The title Suburban Glamour, and the fashionable young characters gracing the hip covers made me think it would continue in Phonogram’s music/fashion/youth culture obsessive tradition, and I was partly right. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Take the word Glamour in the title, for instance. We typically associate the word with style and fashion, but it’s original meaning was more closely related to magic, witchcraft, and enchantment.
The first issue works this wordplay rather nicely, starting out like a teenage melodrama, repletewith hip students mourning the suburban doldrums they’re trapped in, attending parties and ditchng school. The title appears totally appropriate in the mundane, modern sense of the word. Then things get weird, of course.
This is no simple disaffected suburban youth story, but a tale that combines that youthful ennui with the epic fantasy and fairy tales you would be expecting if you paid attention to obscure definitions of words like glamour. Imaginary friends from chilhood return to life, mystical creatures appear in the night, and long lost fairy worlds come crashing into the normal reality of the teenage protagonists, turning their lives predictably upside down. Once concerned with being slipped drugs at a party, and the viability of a career as a rock star, they are now faced with possibly fatal battles and life-altering revelations.
It’s a surprising twist to the first issue, and handled rather well. Afterwards, the story plays out quickly, if a little predictably. The mysterious stranger who seems to know what’s going on turns out to be involved in exactly the way you would expect. The otherworldly and mundane dilemmas dovetail nicely into moments of personal growth that seem a little too tidy at times. Overall, while it lacks the meta-narrative complexity and nuance of Phonogram, Suburban Glamour is a solidly told tale, gorgeously illustrated. The trade is out now, and for only $9.99, it’s well worth picking up, assuming you’re not as broke as some of us *ahem*.
3 comments | Categories: Artists, Reviews, Seattle, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
Inconsequential update: Hellacious, ass-kicking quarter complete. Commence catching up with comics and whining about not making it to San Diego for Comic-Con. While drinking beer. And maybe playing Katamari Damacy.
While I mentally compile and organize my unread books (starting with The Hot Breath of War by fellow NorCal rad guy Trevor Alixopulos that has been staring at me since Stumptown), I wanted to do a quick linkdump to direct you to some cool interweb things that have delighted me…
Etsy.com interviews Jessica Abel
Tatiana Gill and her adorable illustrations
BeaucoupKevin takes beautiful photos at MoCCA, which reminds me how much I suck for missing this event every year.
How to separate feminist and psuedo-feminist comic fans and maintain moral superiority
Hope Larson debuts Chiggers at MoCCA, which gets me like a sucker punch as I was able to fawn over her preview copy at Emerald City.
No comment | Categories: Linkdump, Slacking, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
Oh, Hi. We have a comics blog, don’t we. I’d almost forgot about that, and I’ll bet you had too, seeing as it’s been months and months since we’ve posted. But we haven’t been idle all this time, oh no. We’ve been working hard on launching a new version of this site. Well, not for the whole time obviously. That would be kind of sad. But we eventually did just that, and here it is. You’re soaking in it.
We’re getting our comics blogging legs back at the moment, so excuse the dust and bleary-eyed expressions on the faces of your humble authors. We’re on a new blogging platform, at a new URL (comics.successless.org). The old one might work, but it probably won’t. Sorry for the inconvenience. I’ll put up a redirect page when I get a chance for all you stragglers.
Anyways…let me know if anything about this new design isn’t working for you. I know there are a lot of broken pictures. I’m trying to fix that, but they may have disappeared into Blogger’s database, never to return. Wish me luck on that one. Otherwise, kick the tires, see how the seats feel, leave a comment or two if you so desire. Actual content: coming soon.
2 comments | Categories: News, Uncategorized, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
It’s been pretty quiet in our corner of the world, mostly because we are preserving our witty repartee for the Love & Rockets event that we’ll be attending at Fantagraphics this Sunday.
That said, a blogger/editor named Lisa Jonte brought me out of my shell with a fairly universal list of wants from women comic readers. Anyone who has read this blog for a while has correctly pigeon-holed me into a “indie comic reader.” While I hate to resolve myself to a predictable demographic, Lisa succinctly states all my reasons why I am content with this label.
Sure, I’ve dipped my feet in the ‘giant pond’ by reading series like Y: The Last Man and DMZ. But those aren’t the same. They aren’t the ripped costume, giant breasted superhero comics that I’ve missed out on. They are smart, edgy, well thought out, and have a point. I would be lying if I said that on some level the ’superhero’ stories don’t interest me. I would love to read a comic that had superheros, especially if they were all as awesome as Watchmen. But honestly, every time I’ve been driven to check out a title like JLA or 52 Weeks (by reviews or cover or name recognition) I’ve had three reactions:
- Confusion: in order to get anything out of the story, I have to be familiar with the characters. Normally this wouldn’t be a deterrent, but the characters from the gate can be pretty bland without the construct of years of back story and without anything interesting me in my motivation to learn more is nil.
- Anger: I don’t understand the hypersexualized nature of the comics and don’t understand how it contributes to the story, other than fueling fanboy (and fangirl) masturbatory needs. I think it’s dismissive of potential character development and distracting.
- Isolation: the writers and editorial boards direct story lines and arcs in a way that cater to a single audience: the aged fanboys who have been reading their favorite superhero comic since they were 8. I’m sure there are exceptions, and there are really innovative, exciting titles out there, but there are far too many examples of this that crush my spirit of exploration to find what these titles might be.
This confession isn’t to start some defensive flame war (though if you have good examples of something to check out, I’d be game). This confession is to support Lisa’s wish list. The things she list are pretty straight forward and not surprising, but she makes a point that they aren’t necessarily universal. But they are and I think any partially intelligent editor could come up with that laundry list on his or her own. But the fact that they don’t, and still sit there wringing their hands about how to conjure up a new audience is disappointing.
At Yet Another Comics Blog, a good point is made. Superhero comics are a niche - a strong, viable niche. David even makes a stronger point in that there really isn’t a need for it to evolve and cater to an audience that may or may not like them at the risk of alienating the loyal reading base, especially when that evolution puts the book in a position where they may not be read at all. But from my perspective, as someone who who is interested but has fundamental issues with the current content, I can only hope that some publisher is willing to risk it a bit to appeal to a wider audience.
As I hop off my soapbox and mentally prepare for the awesome that is coming our way on Sunday (and the following Saturday), we command thee to drop us a line if you will be here on Saturday. Since we live in the COOLEST NEIGHBORHOOD ON EARTHtm we like showing people around.
No comment | Categories: Slacking, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
Dear Comics, Comix, and any assorted other cousins:
You are boring me. Come out with something new and exciting or else I will have to get malignant on you guys.
Now that I have that out of the way, there are two exciting things that require dusting off of this here blog to discuss:
1. Brian Wood at Emerald City Comicon next year! I keep telling everyone over and over again but Seattle is so effing awesome. And yes, we have a spare futon.
2. Yes, I am this stupid excited for my very own Scott Pilgrim shirt.
Now go get your own.
And while you are at it, buy yourself a Ninja barrette.
2 comments | Categories: Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
I wore mine without expectation of stumbling upon my anticipated Oni Press package, but I am not one to discount coincidence. I now deem my barrette the Ninja of Fast Shipping.
Sorry things have been a bit quiet around here. Between moving, fighting this freakish heat here in Seattle, and figuring out how to mesh two comic collections into a one bedroom apartment, we’ve been a tad busy.
To bring our posts up to speed:
a. Superman: awesome. Kevin Spacey is a great Lex Luthor.
b. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness: so. fucking. good. Just like we expected. Even if I am still waiting on my copy. A big fatty post on it will most likely appear later.
c. This week’s ship list: is a thing of beauty. Flight #3, Babel #2, Pussey, and Monologues for the Coming Plague (I also have some catching up to do with Ellen Forney’s I Love Led Zeppelin and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home).
d. Kevin Church: (aka BeaucoupKevin) sucks. He didn’t buy me anything at MoCCA. I bought him stuff at APE. That being said, you should still congratulate him and Benjamin Birdie on being printed comic superstars with their debut in Boom Studios! X-Isle #1.
Okay, now that we are sort of caught up, I hope everyone has a nice 4th of July. In true insular blogger fashion, maybe we’ll post drunk photos of us hanging out at my Uncle’s house. Then again, maybe we won’t.
2 comments | Categories: Slacking, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
Dear Comics Blogs:
I love Scott Pilgrim, as much, if not more than, you all do. And this makes me sad. Why? Because I haven’t yet been able to read Volume 3, even though I’ve salivated over it’s release for months and months, and have seen it sitting on the shelf at my local comics shop, taunting me. You see, I’m waiting for my signed copy to show up in the mail before I read it, and so far I’ve been able to resist buying an unsigned copy to read beforehand, like I did with Volume 2. But really, this is torture. I’m about to claw my eyes out in anticipation.
In other words, STOP FUCKING POSTING REVIEWS! It’s too much! It’s like you’re all just trying to torment me while I wait…and wait…and wait…
But it’ll be worth it. In a few more days, I’ll be able to dig in, read and re-read it, savor the humour and drama and action and giddiness and squeal like a schoolgirl. And then, finally, I can find out what people have been saying about it for the past few weeks.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
1 comment | Categories: Fandom, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
Sometimes I think the Gods of Comicdom are trying to kill me. Or at least cripple me financially. After the comics-purchasing orgy that was APE (see previous posts), I’m faced with a new comics day that, under normal circumstances, would have me jumping for joy. But, with my wallet still limping and gasping from the beating it sustained over the weekend, the overwhelming pile of new comics almost rises to the level of hardship. Almost. But really, including a coupe of books I’d missed in the last two weeks, I ended up with 8 floppies and one (remarkable budget priced) book.
Brian Wood’s new graphic novel with Toby Cypress, The Tourist, looks pretty enticing. Only $9.99 for approximately 100 full-size pages. I haven’t heard a whole lot about this, but between the gorgeous art (half Paul Pope, half Bill Sienkiewicz? Somewhere in that territory anyways) and Wood’s typically high quality scripts these days, it was an obvious buy.
Speaking of Paul Pope, we also get the penultimate installment of his Batman book, in which a nameless future Dark Knight and crew delve into the murky dystopia of Gotham 2039, drawing equal comparisons to 1984, Dark Knight Returns, and Pope’s own Heavy Liquid. The sheer manic desperation evident in each page of Pope’s artwork is enough to keep me enthralled while a pile of loose plot threads sloooowly pull together.
The first story arc of Desolation Jones starts up, bringing an end to the saga of Hitler porn and other dark secrets circulating a community of exiled former intelligence agents to a close and launching us, I can only assume, into further stories of depravity and betrayal in the underbelly of Los Angeles. Also, Brian Wood’s DMZ series begins it’s next story arc, “Body of a Journalist”. It’s a timely story arc,but then again, it looks like the underlying concept, and it’s central US/Iraq metaphor, will be depressingly timely for the foreseeable future.
Former Wood Collaborator (and another personal favorite) Becky Cloonan’s series with writer Steven T. Seagal, American Virgin, sees it’s second issue. The first was slightly rocky, with a few too many plot elements introduce all at once, and a couple of implausible escapes by our titular hero, but it’s interesting enough to hold on and see if it finds it’s feet quickly.
The wickedly funny X-Statix revival (pardon the pun) Dead Girl continues to impress with issue three, brimming with continuity-nerd in-jokes and completely off-the-wall concepts. This is the kind of book that X-Statix was at it’s peak, totally irreverent without losing it’s sense of drama, and it’s a type that I think Marvel could stand to publish more often. As far as I’m concerned, it’s really the only Marvel book worth reading at the moment. But that’s just me…
100 Bullets and Y: The Last Man are both reliable, long-running entertainers, and it looks like Bullets is finally returning to it’s roots, after an extended period dealing with the dense web of conspiracies and double-crossing that have piled up. That element is still present, but the original “mysterious briefcase” element returns, which seems to help ground the book in a more relatable, human drama. Y, on the other hand, seems like it could use a good shake-up these days. Still solidly written, but it always ends up in the same situations. The plot is chugging along slowly, with plenty of revelations lately, but none of them have really changed the status quo.
And finally, Shaolin Cowboy, Geoff Darrow’s absurdist action comic. I almost missed this one,a s I wasn’t expecting that ultra-distressed paperback -style cover. Darrow turns everything to 11 in this book, and the cover is no exception, with the cover image torn away to reveal what appears to be fragments of a Shaolin Cowboy pulp paperback. Probably one of the most consistently and pretentiously entertaining books on the shelf today.
Now I just have to get around to reading some of these…
No comment | Categories: Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink
Yep, I got it. Cerebus book 13 arrived in my mail on Friday. I now have all of Cerebus in one form or another, from the first colelction of barbarian/funny animal parody books, through to the bitter, bitter crackpot end. This is my new reading project over the next few months. 6,000 pages of comics about a talking aardvark. Am I crazy? Maybe. But not as crazy as the man who spent 27 consecutive years publishing this story monthly, on his own dime. That, I can guarantee.
I think what I’ll be doing is posting reflections on each major storyline as I complete it. So there will be roughly 16 Cerebus related posts here, covering each phone book collection in some form or another. A lot of this material I’ve read before (everything up through the end of book 12, plus the final issue), and the rest will be new to me.
Wish me luck, I might need it.
In other news: Took a financially ill-advised trip to Comic Relief last night, on the way to the Anticon benefit show at Bottom of the Hill. Picked up a few more books there, including Epoxy #3, Pounded #1-3, Blood Orange #3, and Stupid Comics #3 (do you see a pattern here? Odd, I just noticed all those threes). I’ll probably read those first, before I settle in on the big project above, but that shouldn’t take too long. In fact, I think I’m gonna bike over to Aroma Roasters right now to read comics and play with my Mac.
1 comment | Categories: Reviews, Whine, Complaining, & Griping | Permalink