Showing posts with label comics culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics culture. Show all posts

Friday, June 12, 2020

Denny O'Neil Merges with The Infinite



I am terribly, terribly sorry to report that Dennis "Denny" O'Neil has passed.  I am often genuinely saddened when I see someone has gone on to their reward, but sometimes it hits harder.

It is difficult to measure the impact O'Neil had on comics, popular culture and culture writ-large.  And I doubt many people outside us comics nerds (and possibly only comics nerds of a certain age) know his name.  O'Neil was one of the giants, someone I "liked" as a kid when I'd read his stuff, but as an adult and went back through the history of DC and saw all he'd accomplished?

O'Neil is one of the creators largely responsible for the version of Batman you know and love.  He revitalized and solidified Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) and Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), making them relevant as sounding boards for the issues of the day.  He updated Superman and took on the challenge of turning Wonder Woman into a secret agent (with mixed results).  You may know the long runs on Batman that wound up informing Batman: The Animated Series, or the famous "Hard Travelling Heroes" period of Green Lantern/ Green Arrow.  His run on Superman is actually pretty well written, if unsustainable.  The run on Wonder Woman is flat out wild and strange, and - issues though it may have - it's a fascinating attempt to try to update (and maybe a good cautionary tale for every time the internet tells DC to update Wonder Woman).

I first learned his name, I believe, on the cover of The Question (along with Denys Cowan), and soon I looked for his name in association with a certain level of storytelling I thought surpassed most of what was on the rack.

O'Neil didn't just tell stories that took DC heroes on new journeys and challenged them in new ways, he invented a large number of characters for DC and more.   Those characters were a huge part of comics of my youth from O'Neil and others, and wound up in cartoons, movies and more.  Scroll down this page to see a list of his contributions.

It's odd to see the passing of someone who was part of the second generation to enter comics, the folks who were handing off the torch as I was showing up as a reader.  But O'Neil in particular is going to be missed.  But us comics folk aren't the type to forget a person's contribution or what they did to advance the narratives that inspire and entertain us.  And inspired others to create more on the foundations they built.

We'll miss you, Denny.



Thursday, April 23, 2020

PODCAST: "Superman: The Movie" (1978) a Super Movie Special with Stuart and Ryan


Watched:  04/12/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  oh, you kidders
Decade:  1970's
Director: Richard Donner

Ryan is joined by fellow Superman super-fan, StuartW, as they take on the 1978 superhero film that made the world believe a man can fly. It's a discussion of how lightning was caught in a bottle and set a template that the better superhero films still emulate. It's a geek-out fan-fest as Stuart and Ryan fly high into the movie that maybe both of them have seen way, way too many times.

More ways to listen





Music: - All Songs from Superman: The Movie, OST, composed by John Williams



Ryan's Random Playlist


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Dan Didio Exits DC



Friday afternoon, I saw news that Dan Didio, former writer, promoted to Executive Editor, then promoted to Publisher at DC Comics, was no longer with the company.  No circumstances regarding his departure have been reported from DC or Didio, so at this time, it's safe to say Didio's exit was possibly due to a difference of direction from WB and/ or the head of Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences - Pam Lifford, who took over DC leadership when Diane Nelson resigned and the structure of DC Entertainment was folded back into WB.  There are also rumors about the perceived impact of the coming "5G" event and reshaping of DC Continuity, which, frankly... sounded exhausting as a reader.  Other possibilities included workplace issues and the good old fashioned lay-off as ATT goes about restructuring WB.

A lot of artists and writers took to twitter to talk about how Didio had done good by them, with a few popping off here and there.  Honestly, some of what I saw about how Didio is a great guy just sounded like basic human decency or Management 101, which really makes me wonder what the heck it's like actually working in comics when "he said he'd take responsibility for the thing he is responsible for" is the bar for a great humanitarian in comics.  But, still, the expressions seemed sincere, and while I'm aware there's a tendency in creative fields to not burn bridges and overly laud anyone exiting, I'll take these creators at their word.

Longtime readers will know - I am not a fan of Dan Didio. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

100th Birthday of Curt Swan - comic book artist


Today marks the 100th birthday of the late, great Curt Swan.  For those taking any kind of deep dive into Superman as a long-running comic book character, it doesn't take long before you start producing your list of giants associated with the character's creation and adventures - and Curt Swan is top of the list. 

Siegel and Shuster created Superman, but eventually many of the art duties fell to first Wayne Boring, and then as we transitioned into the mid-Silver and Bronze Age, Swan became the primary pencil behind Superman.  For about three decades Swan drew covers and interiors of Adventure ComicsSuperman and Action Comics, and saw the end of his reign with the new era that began post COIE.  In his tenure he created such characters as Supergirl, Titano, Lucy Lane and many more. 

I became familiar with his work through a mish-mash of back-issues and collections of Silver Age comics, and he's very much locked in my mind as one of the best of the best.  It's astounding to see the care put into every panel of his art and how his own style evolved to meet (and often exceed) the times.

More about Curt Swan from Comic Vine and Wikipedia

Sunday, February 16, 2020

DC just canceled the "Supergirl" comic. Again.



Hooo boy.

The Supergirl TV show has run for five seasons on, first, the CBS network and now The CW.  That's roughly 22 episodes (plus) per season with a cast that has shifted, story elements come and gone, and now survived a Crisis on Infinite Earths.  It's a bit messy to explain how the events of Season 1 line up with what's happening now on the show, but one can if they're willing to experience nose bleeds and dizziness.

It's one of the shows I am probably watching now more out of habit than anything, but I don't *dislike* the show.  Every season has an arc and gives the characters arcs of their own to work through.

DC Comics released their solicitations for May comic releases, and announced that issue 42 will be the final issue of this run of the Supergirl comic book series.

Monday, February 10, 2020

DC Watch: Birds of Prey (2020)


Watched:  02/09/2020
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's

Uh.  Look.  I wasn't really planning to see this movie.  I wasn't a fan of Suicide Squad or even Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn in the movie, which many found winning.  She's kind of a perky Mary Sue for fans of My Chemical Romance.  I get it.

Friday, the movie was, at one point, tracking over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has settled in at a comfortable 80% as of this writing.  Filmmakers I like vouched for it, and Jamie expressed some interest, and I have an Alamo Season Pass, so money is already sunk for tickets, so we went.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

PODCAST! Christmas with Kryptonian Thought-Beast!




Brandon Z and Ryan talk about how comics have embraced Christmas over the years, from the cute to the weird and everything in-between. We also make some practical recommendations for folks who want to gift some comics this holiday season.

To see a list of recommended comics and images of comics we talk about, visit:  Kryptonian Thought-Beast!






Friday, September 13, 2019

PODCAST: "Secret Origins: Brandon Zuern" - It's a Kryptonian Thought-Beast Episode

The man, the myth, the manager - our own Brandon Zuern

We're trying this thing out where we're trying to stray a bit from the "let's talk about a movie" formula and we delve into comics and the people who love them.








It's the launch of "Secret Origins", where we talk to comic-folk about how they got into comics and how they got to where they're at as collector, creator, comic retail pro, etc, et al. We start off by visiting with the manager of what's been our longtime LCS (Local Comic Shop, for you new kids). Get to know Comic Book Brando, our own Brandon Z! Learn about Austin Books and Comics, its sister stores, and two guys discussing the winding paths to comics fandom.

For more Kryptonian Thought-Beast, you can always visit our, uh, satellite site?  Something like that.  OR our sister Soundcloud.

The Center of Austin Fandom below...!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

PODCAST: "Aquaman" (2018) - Kryptonian Thought-Beast Episode 01 w/ Jamie and Ryan


Watched:  08/29/2019
Format:  HBO Streaming on Amazon
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2010's

We launch our Kryptonian Thought-Beast series with an (exhausted) examination of our fishy friend's blockbuster cinematic success! And we ask "Why? Why did people like this movie? For it is not a good movie." Join Jamie and I as we discuss the dude-bro who would be king of 3/4ths of the Earth.




Music:
Aquaman Theme - Power Records, Sounds and Stories about the Justice League of America


Kryptonian Thought Beast PodCast Series

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane

According to long-lived Superman site The Superman Homepage (it's old enough to still be called a Homepage!), it's the birthday of everyone's favorite comic-book intrepid reporter, Lois Lane!



Lois is having a pretty good year.  She's been key to the entirety of the Rebirth efforts around Superman as the comics squared the Superman/ Lois romance/ marriage once again, and gave them a son in Jon Kent.  Since Bendis came on the Super-books, he's put Lois back at the fore, first as someone Superman missed as she left for space, and then as a source of consternation as she's deposited herself in Chicago rather than Metropolis.

There's no question Lois's storyline is just getting bigger, and it sure doesn't hurt that she's starring in the super-books, deeply involved in Event Leviathan and currently has her own 12-issue maxi-series by Greg Rucka (a great fit for Lois) that I'm actually really enjoying.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Super Satire Watch: The Boys (Amazon Prime)



I haven't actually read Garth Ennis's The Boys series.  I read the first trade and always intended to follow up to see where it went from the set-up, but never quite got there.  I'll make up for it now, but it's gonna take some purchasing power, I guess.

Flat out, Garth Ennis is one the three or four best writers in comics, and, on some days, I think he's just "the best".  Some of us stumbled upon him due to his bizarre ability to make gore and violence absolutely hilarious (in the right context) but stayed for the amazing characterization, astounding turns to genuine sympathy for unsympathetic characters, and his ability to grasp humanity and the tragedy and comedy of his characters enough that they feel can feel three-dimensional.  All while existing in profane, graphically violent, sexually frank or ridiculous situations that seems like it would send many-a-comics-twitterer running for some pearls to clutch.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

TL;DR: In 1989 I was 14, and I saw "Batman"



The kids are never going to know that there is, literally, in the public consciousness, a world before Tim Burton's Batman from back in '89, and a world that came into being after that movie.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Batman, the Michael Keaton/ Kim Basinger/ Jack Nicholson-starring gothic caricature that changed the public's perception of superheroes in general.  This isn't hyperbole - nothing was ever the same after this movie came out.  You don't get an Iron Man or Avengers without Batman.  You really don't get the idea out to the general public that comics have moved to a teens-and-up audience until you get breathless write-ups about the Batmania phenomenon.  You also don't have piles of merchandise for adults with a superhero logo on it until Batman, or comics movie-related toys flying off the shelf.

But, mostly, you finally got people to stop thinking "Bam! Whap! Pow!" when they thought about superheroes.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

TL;DR: Happy Superman Day! (yesterday)




So, about halfway through the day yesterday the internet decided it was "Superman Day".  I have no idea what for or why.  Something to do with DC cashing in on the release of Man of Steel a few years back.  Why this isn't a Saturday so stores can promote Superman and bring in kids and stuff, I can't imagine.

Get your act together, all of comics.

Whatever the reason, we'd feel remiss if we didn't raise a glass to our favorite fictional undocumented alien, the man of tomorrow, the ace of action, Big Blue himself:  Superman.

Every once in a while over the years I've attempted to explain the appeal of Superman, but that's never gone over particularly well.  Explaining why you like a fictional character feels like weird and dorky gushing, especially when discussing one who has seen hundreds of writers, dozens of interpretations, and who has been on the outs in popularity for more than thirty years.

Still, I'm a fan.  I don't think this is a secret.

Maybe in this era of cultural division and splintering, featuring a low, dull tension that seems to be hang over us at all times, where we aren't sure what to believe in the news or from our elected leaders (or from other people who'd sure like to be a leader)... We know we're getting fleeced and we know there's plenty to come right back swinging if you push back...  Maybe standing in relief against that backdrop, a guy who tells the truth, stands up for those who can't stand up for themselves, who can shrug off bullets and shackles of the injust but powerful as he moves through the world righting wrongs and helping the helpless...  Maybe in this world a Superman who can pull open his shirt and appears in a blaze of primary colored action makes a lot more sense.

Monday, June 10, 2019

No, Hollywood, That is Not Why We Didn't See the New X-Men (or Godzilla)

oh, no.  I couldn't possibly.  No, thank you.



The Hollywood Reporter posted an article today explaining why X-Men: Dark Phoenix underperformed at the box office.  It's an article that explains how the execs at Fox were wrong about what went wrong with X-Men: Apocalypse and how they mis-course corrected with Dark Phoenix.*

I'll argue, the article is no more correct about what went wrong (re: why people didn't show up) than the condescending treatment it gives the execs trying to sort things out in the days after the poor performance of Apocalypse.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

TV Watch: Doom Patrol - Season 1


I really didn't know what to expect when DC announced their second show in their DC Universe app exclusive line-up would be Doom Patrol From the pictures shared, the comics would be roughly based on the late 1980's/ early-90's-era Grant Morrison-penned (with art by Richard Case, Doug Braithwaite, Scott Hanna, John Nyberg, Carlos Garzon) comics.  But with a slightly different line-up, what with Rita Farr there front and center.

My initial exposure to Doom Patrol as a team was via issue #1 of this series - Morrison had come on in the mid-30's - written by Paul Kupperberg.  Frankly, I'd been completely enamored with the first couple of issues (long since disappeared from my collection, even before The Purge).  It was so weird and dark and uncomfortable - starting at a point where people were assembling, talking about a team that had preceded them had died.  Badly.   Somehow it felt more adult and frank than the way X-Men never seemed to quite exit high school.

Friday, May 24, 2019

This Season - on "Supergirl"



At the end of last season, I'd kind of given up on the CW superhero shows.  Maybe there was some residual guilt - after all, I no longer have that mania for all things comics I once did, and whenever I realize I no longer care about something comics-related, it makes me... kind of sad?  That said - these days, there's so much superhero content out there, I long ago let go of watching *everything*, and now I'm lucky if I watch much of anything.*

I find a lot of network TV a chore - 22 episodes or so per year is a lot to watch in sheer time allotted.  But, more than that, unless you're talking 30 minute sitcom or a show that's more episodic in nature, keeping the thread over twenty-two 45-minute chapters is a lot of narrative to keep track of.  Frankly, it feels like it's too much for the writers a lot of the time on these shows, and by the time we'd get to the season finale, speaking especially of those CW superhero shows, it can feel like a tortured mess that you just want to see end more than you care about the events of the finale.

Anyway - after watching both The Flash and Supergirl for a few seasons, at the end of last year, Jamie and I decided to hang it up.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Way TL;DR - Tracking Superheroes from Source-of-Shame to $2 Billion Dollars in 2 Weeks



The kids today will never *quite* appreciate what Marvel pulled off, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with this week's mega-release of Avengers: Endgame.  But, more than that, they'll never really understand what it was like to go from an era where you'd stay home on a Friday night to see a TV movie of the week starring David Hasslehoff as Nick Fury.  Truly, any crumb of a glimpse of a live-action version of the comics you enjoyed was like a signal beamed from weirdo space and invading the lowest-common-denominator normalcy of broadcast TV.  Any cinematic appearance of anything even superhero adjacent was a reason to trek to the movies (a habit I am just now breaking, pretty unsuccessfully).

These days every basic jerk out there tries to claim nerd status for just *liking* something other than sports and *admitting* they have something they enjoy (heads up!  you cannot be a wine-nerd.  You can be a vintner, wine enthusiast, sommelier or lush.  Pick one.  But a "wine nerd" is not a thing.).   But in an era before Bryan Singer turned the X-Men into a box office smash, and the internet gave us hidey-holes into which we all disappeared and Watchmen made the 100 Greatest Novels Since 1923 list...   comics were for children.  Or for nerds, losers, the mentally slow, the emotionally damaged, perverts and delinquents.

Movies might come out based on graphic novels or comics, and sometimes that source was acknowledged - but I grew up in the 1980's, and my comics habit made the adults around me visibly nervous.*  Parents, teachers, etc... knew to be disapproving and angry about musical selections (thanks, Tipper!), but comics?  What were we even doing?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Stan Lee Merges with The Infinite



Excelsior!

I am, like everyone, mourning the loss of Stan Lee who passed at age 95.

But.  What a world we live in where everyone is mourning a comic book writer/ editor/ huckster!  What an amazing guy we had with us for almost a full century!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Steve Ditko Merges With the Infinite



Comics creator Steve Ditko passed this weekend at the age of 90.  As you may know, Ditko co-created Spider-Man and was responsible for the art chores and certainly deserves co-writing credits with Lee on the early years of the wall-crawler's adventures.  He was behind some of my favorite Spidey villains like Sandman, The Lizard, Electro, Doctor Octopus, and - of course - Green Goblin.  Not bad. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Comics Culture Read: Marvel Comics - The Untold Story (2013)


Author:  Sean Howe
Release:  October, 2013

The manager at my Local Comic Shoppe, Brandon, suggested Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (2013) while we were discussing some minutia around the history of Marvel Comics. 

My knowledge of Marvel history is one mostly gathered patchwork from various interviews, articles, word-of-mouth stories, etc... so I knew some broad strokes, particularly around the infamous Kirby/ Lee creator debates and the Ditko/Lee broo-haha, but after Lee left Marvel, it's all bits and pieces gleaned from Bullpen Bulletins, credits on comics while certain things were happening, and trying to piece together what the hell, exactly, was going on at Marvel at any given time.