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Trouble with Comics

Face it, John Byrne never got better than this. The only thing that could have improved it would be if Terry Austin had inked it.

Face it, John Byrne never got better than this. The only thing that could have improved it would be if Terry Austin had inked it.

ADD Reviews Andre The Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown

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I’ve been a fan of Box Brown’s comics for years now. His style (somewhere near the intersection of Seth Boulevard and Kochalka Avenue Extension in the artcomix part of town) really resonates with me as a reader. From Everything Dies to The Survivalist, I’ve really liked everything of Brown’s that I’ve come across. So that’s why I set aside my loathing of professional wrestling (I lost interest in the sportsertainment of it all around the time my age hit the double digits) to check out the cartoonist’s new biography of Andre Roussimoff, a now-deceased pro wrestler who looms largest in my memory for playing Bigfoot on The Six-Million Dollar Man. (I looked up some YouTube clips, but they are pretty dire. If you have fond memories of those TV appearances, I’d recommend not revisiting them, just let them glow nostalgically in your mind.)

Brown humanizes Andre without painting him as a saint, sympathizing with Andre’s pains suffered as a result of the disease that terribly distorted the man’s biology; the same distortion that made him a superstar in the seedy world of pro wrestling, at a time when it was unusual for there to be 600 pound human beings. Brown balances whimsy with candor, here showing us how Andre’s phone looks like a tiny toy in his giant hands, there showing us Andre using race-baiting to pick a fight with an African-American colleague.

The world was a challenging place for Roussimoff to make his way in, and I suppose the mid-to-late 20th century was still backward enough that using his size to make a living was more out of necessity than cynical opportunism. His career began, after all, not long after the days of Vaudeville and when entertainers could make more money driving or flying from place to place rather than entertaining through mass entertainment media like TV or the internet. Much of Brown’s narrative involves depicting Andre in transit, and given that that was a large part of the man’s life (to the detriment of his family relationships, as we see), that seems appropriate.

Brown appears to have conducted copious research in the creation of this book, and it pays off. From recounting an appearance on David Letterman to a series of anecdotes from Andre’s fellow wrestlers and other people he worked with (like actors Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest), an expansive vision of who the man was begins to open up. He was bigger than life in more ways than one, and he clearly made an impact on the people he met and worked with. No doubt Box Brown and publisher First Second are aware of the lingering fascination with Andre the Giant, or this graphic novel would not have been produced. As I said up front, my interest in wrestling is non-existent, and my interest in Andre The Giant isn’t far behind. Despite that, Box Brown kept my attention throughout and fascinated me with the details he discovered in his research. If you don’t care about the subject matter, I suspect you’ll still enjoy Andre The Giant: Life and Legend; if you do care about wrestling in general or Andre in particular, I have to think you will love this book.  

The publisher provided a copy for the purpose of review. Buy Andre the Giant: Life and Legend on Amazon.com.

A Few Thoughts on the Justice League: War Movie

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* Thank God there’s finally an animated film that explains how the Justice League met.

* There’s something really wrong with the writing when my visceral, gut response to the bad guy breaking Green Lantern’s arm is “GOOD!”

* I’ll give you a pass for Superman snapping DeSaad’s neck because he was not quite himself, but I can’t help but wonder what Jack Kirby would have thought of having the heroes consciously plot to stab Darkseid in the eyes and then carry it out with no reservations whatsoever. 

* Thank God it’s finally okay for Green Lantern to call Batman a douchebag. That’s really what’s been holding comics back.

* Thank God Cyborg can finally say “Shit!” when something goes wrong. That has ALSO really been holding comics back.

* Why doesn’t “Shazam” turn back into Billy when he tells people his name is “Shazam?”

* Especially later when he says “Shazam!” to bring down the lightning to power Cyborg’s Boom Tube generator and DOES turn back into Billy?!?

* (I will never not think of him as Captain Marvel, because, HE’S CAPTAIN MARVEL.)

* Wonder Woman’s new costume would be so great if it had pants.

* Why did they make Cap’s lightning bolt look more like Superman’s S? Irony?

* Why did they make a New 52 cartoon and use the OLD Superman S? It’s maybe the one change I kind of like and they don’t use it!

I’m ambivalent about Miracleman being published by Marvel, but I have to say, at least it’s not DC, those fuckers.

ADD Review Copy Address Update

One of the things I hope to do more of in the year ahead is reviewing comics and graphic novels. And it occurs to me that I have not updated my address since moving last summer. So if you are a creator, publisher or publicist and want to send a review copy my way, please send it to me at:

Alan David Doane
Trouble With Comics Reviews
24-B Birch Avenue
Glens Falls, NY 12801

Thanks!

Aside from the needlessly overblown title (Moore makes it clear he’ll be game for more interviews in the future when it suits his purposes; he’ll just be more selective now), this is a typically excellent, and even more hilarious than usual interview with the fine, put-upon author. At the same time, it’s depressing, because this is Moore agreeing to answer the “questions no one has dared ask before,” seemingly because they’re so sensational and crudely posed that one supposes they could only get to Moore through the Trojan Horse of O’Mealoid, who’d already established a convivial professional relationship with Moore. If you’ve ever wondered when Moore would get tired of remaining mostly mum on the subject of Grant Morrison, this is that moment, though thankfully it’s more than that, including thoughtful explanations on the controversial (to some) use of the Golliwogg in his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and whether he agrees with the unqualified assertion that his body of work contains a prevalence of rape against women in it. 

Go read this thoughtful autopsy of Scott Lobdell’s non-apology for being a sexist asshole, written by postcardsfromspace:

Long story short: A few days ago, cartoonist MariNaomi wrote an op-ed about being harassed by professional comic-book writer Scott Lobdell on a panel at a convention. MariNaomi was very careful to avoid identifying information, but Lobdell apparently read the piece and recognized himself—maybe…

Dead Differential: Character Differences in The Walking Dead

Guest post by Kevin T. Fischer

There are quite a lot of differences between The Walking Dead television series and the ongoing comic series it’s based on. You could honestly fill an entire blog with everything from the difference in pace to the more superficial differences of color scheme. However, the one big difference that has been a point of contention between fans of the show and fans of the comic is the characters.

While many of the iconic comic characters have manifested in the show, the portrayals have not been quite so consistent. In some cases, the interpretations of the characters differ so greatly between the versions that they seem less like parallels of one another. These differences of character have also shaped and informed the progression of their respective plots, leading to wildly divergent experiences.

Below are just some of the major character differences between the AMC show and the comic:

Rick

In the show: Rick is the de facto leader of his group of survivors who gets thrust into some pretty difficult decisions. As the series continues, he makes some very serious mistakes that cost lives and is, initially, slow to learn just what it takes to survive in this new world. His progression is, admittedly, slower but more organic as he learns new life lessons and really struggles under the burden of leadership.

In the comic: Rick is still the quintessential leader, but he’s also quick to acknowledge and accept the circumstances surrounding Lori and Shane. He also endures tremendous psychological and physical trauma from pivotal moments like losing his right hand to the Governor, seeing his wife and daughter killed by a sniper and almost losing his son, Carl, on two separate occasions to gunshot wounds.

Shane

In the show: Shane played out his part of the Lori and Rick love triangle for twice as long as the comic. You also got to know him better, as a result. The final confrontation between Shane and Rick is also motivated largely by Lori, and it ends with Rick stabbing him and Carl shooting his zombie form.

In the comic: Shane is wrapped up by Issue #6 when he tries to murder Rick during a deer hunt. The real difference between this final confrontation and the previous is that Carl, without hesitation, fires on Shane – saving his father’s life.

Andrea

In the show: Andrea was emotionally indecisive and a bit of an opportunist – out for herself more than anyone else. She also was a bit of a liability, prone to suicide and accidentally firing on one of her own people – mistaking them for a zombie. Recently, she is among the dead.

In the comic: Andrea is still alive and well. She has grown to be an uncanny marksman, capable of shooting a person’s finger off with surgical precision. In addition to her prowess as a warrior, Andrea is a stalwart hero who serves as Rick’s second-in-command and on-again-off-again lover.

The Governor

In the show: The Governor was a deeply disturbed individual who wantonly murdered anyone he felt was a threat to his town. In that way, they attempted to justify and redeem his character to the audience. A lot of his hostile tendencies veered into the realm of physical trauma.

In the comic: The Governor was irredeemably malicious with not a single shred of hope or compassion. He repeatedly assaulted and abused Michonne when he had her in custody and was unhealthily involved with his zombified daughter. His right eye and right arm were cut off by Michonne before he was shot by one of his own people.

Carl

In the show: Carl continues to descend into violence as he is forced to make life or death decisions no child his age should ever make. He has killed people both in defense and in cold blood and even had to shoot his own mother to ensure she didn’t come back as a zombie.

In the comic: Carl experiences a remarkable amount of pain and suffering in a short amount of time. Not long after witnessing the murder of his mother and little sister, he caught a stray bullet that obliterated an entire half of his face. These experiences coupled with how quickly he’ll resort to a gun have all twisted him into the violent murderer we know him as today. That being said, he still has enough perspective and self-awareness to keep from veering into irredeemable, Governor Territory.

Daryl and Merle

In the show: Daryl and Merle were just a couple of good old boys out for themselves in this post-apocalyptic world. When they were separated, however, Daryl began to evolve and become a likable anti-hero while Merle only got worse. In the end, Daryl is the one you root for as a hero with some rough edges, while Merle finally met his end.

In the comic: Daryl and Merle are regrettably absent from the comic.

Those are some of the more prominent differences in the characters which, ultimately, affect the overall experiences of both the comic and the show. In the end, The Walking Dead comic and show are both great stories – the differences just help keep things from getting repetitive.

fantagraphics:

pictureboxinc:

As of December 31, 2013, PictureBox will no longer release any new titles. This was not an easy decision, but the company is no longer feasible for me as a thoroughgoing venture. Change is, as the cliché goes, a good thing, and I am proud of PictureBox the idea and the company, and grateful to the…

Our good friends are shuttering their publishing operations and we wish them well. Look for Dan’s continued co-stewardship over at TCJ.com.

Not great news, but the coldblooded consumer can get 50% off everything on the site. I picked up Frank Santoro’s Pompeii, C.F.’s Mere and Blutch’s So Long, Silver Screen.

—Chris

ADD’s Comics DNA

I missed seeing Tom Spurgeon’s Five for Friday post a few days ago, but the subject was a really good one and it got my brain looking back over my own personal history, so I thought I’d post my answers here. You can see everyone else’s responses at FFF Results Post #358 — Comics Reading DNA at The Comics Repporter.

Comics Reporter readers were asked to name as specifically as possible:

1) The First Comic Of Any Kind You Remember Reading

I’ve tried to narrow that down, and I think it’s Amazing Spider-Man somewhere right after Gwen Stacy died. 

2) A Comic That Got You Back Into Reading A Certain Kind Of Comic After You’d Given Up On That Kind Of Comic

Avengers #1, the Heroes Return era by Busiek and Perez. Superhero comics had completely lost me in the 1990s, but Perez back on Avengers made me curious and the easy professionalism and obvious fun Busiek and Perez were having bought me back. It’s a good bet I might never have gotten so involved in comics again had this book not existed, so blame Busiek and Perez for Comic Book Galaxy and Trouble With Comics even ever existing, if you like.

3) A Comic That Got You Reading A Different Type Of Comic Altogether

Either The First Kingdom or Elfquest led me to what we then called ground-level comics, and FantaCo really opened the floodgates with Hembeck, Smilin’ Ed, Gates of Eden and more.

4) A Comic That Made You Want To Make Comics Even If You Never Made Them

Oh, hell, any good comic makes me feel that way. I did make scores of them in the early ’80s, probably inspired by the black and white alternatives I was reading.

5) A Comic That Represents A Kind Of Comic You Have Yet To Explore

I don’t know that there are any genres or kinds of comics I haven’t explored. But I do know my interest in comics about people who can fly or have bolts shooting out of their hands has never been lower than it is now, due to the shoddy quality of most superhero comics right now and the insipidity of the comics culture overall.

— Alan David Doane