The Bricktosser

A place for me to rant, ramble and rave about all things comics related.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Friday, February 24, 2006

Outcome Oriented Comics

Intriguing title?

This post is prompted in a trend I see in comics over the last few years-- the rise of stories which seem less intended to entertain, but rather, to result in some final state.

To wit: Green Lantern #9, just released.

The point of this comic seems to be to re-establish Green Lantern and Batman as allies. Oh, there's a story-- and it's reasonably entertaining (if forgettable), particularly the character bits between Hal and Bruce. (Yes, I'm a geek, I refer to them by their first names.)

But mostly, the point seems to be to get to the end.

This isn't all that unusual these days. See also: Green Lantern: Rebirth, the JSA arc re-introducing Hawkman, the Power Girl arc of JSA: classified. Notice a pattern here? They're all written by Geoff Johns.

He's not the only one, though. The Marvel Ultimate line is chock full of stories that the point of which seems to either establish or overturn a parallel with the regular Marvel line. Bendis does it in New Avengers, too-- the whole setup of the Sentry. And while it's getting common lately, it's not new. Early in the current JLA series, there was a two-part story that existed to restore Adam Strange and his surrounding to their old state. Even back in the 70's you find these stories from time to time, like the one that existed solely to explain how Superman could fool everyone with a pair of glasses. Google "Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis" if your curious about that one.

Anyway, there seem to be two flavors of OOC
* Restore some aspect of a character or his mythos
* Establish some character change mandated by editorial edict (such as killing off a character or disbanding a team so that a new one can come along).

OOC comics aren't all bad, and if fact, Johns' are pretty good. But they're very disposable. Here's hoping the trend will tire itself out before long.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Comics Reader Identity Crisis

or, What Sort of Fan am I, Anyway?

I've been reading comics blogs for a few months, and something struck me: I'm schizophrenic.

Seems like most blogs are either superhero blogs, or not. And those that are seem to be pretty divided between DC fan sites and Marvel fan sites-- although there are plenty enough that are both.

I like it all. I read more superhero comics than anything else, but then again, there are more superhero comics than anything else. I even like comic strips and panel cartoons, although I tend to find those decades after they are created. See the site mascot and title for a prime example.

One thing I miss is a steady diet of recommendations of non-superhero comics to read, even better if they're non-genre altogether. If you have some, send them my way.
If there was a survey of comics fans, I'd check "all of the above."

What kind of comics fan are you?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Always Remember...

More here.

League of Ordinary Gentlemen #2: Harvey Pekar

Harvey Pekar is so ordinary that he's unusual.

I mean, he's not really an ordinary guy. Most ordinary guys don't write comics about their life. They don't get famous for doing so. They don't go on David Letterman, antagonize the network's owners, and get kicked off. And they don't have movies made about all of this.

But somehow, despite all that, Pekar seems like an ordinary guy.

As far as I can tell, Pekar kicked off the "Ordinary Guy" genre of comics with American Splendor. There were autobiographical comics before his, but it wasn't until he started that we got comics that really focused on the ordinary. Pekar strips, especially the early ones, are quite zen at times. Little slices of dialogue from Pekar's workplace as a file clerk, observations about the little old Jewish ladies at the supermarket. Pekar revels in his ordinariness.
In one strip, he calls out Superman abandoning the ordinary guys, and turning his back on his Jewish heritage. This is why I think Ordinary Guy comics exist as a reaction to Superheroes. If Superheroes dominate, what room is there for the Ordinary Guy? Pekar makes the Ordinary Guy the hero, and scorns the fantasy.

Also, I think he's probably the first comics creator to depict his own masturbation. Not the last however-- he really started something with that one. Maybe there's a future series of posts there... but maybe not.

So here's to Harvey Pekar, who started something really big but still hung on hard to his working class roots. Check out his comics, or see the movie version of American Splendor to see a real one of a kind, despite all those that followed.