cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (greenlee and david)
I'm only halfway along here, so I may yet change my mind, but Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula has succeeded in the unthinkable, to wit, making me wish that the heroine, who is a perfectly decent and unexceptionable human being, would hook up with the evil, murderous vampire who loves her, even though he's also regularly raping and slowly murdering her best friend (...and, okay, I feel unclean just typing that out, and maybe now is the time to rethink the unthinkable that I've been thinking).

Anyway, Gary Oldman (Dracula) and Winona Ryder (Mina Murray) have a surprising amount of chemistry, doubly so once the reincarnation subtext comes properly into play. A contributing factor is Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker; I am perfectly willing to assume that he was cast for his wooden, Ken-doll-esque performance, and that this is all deliberate.*

I'm not even being sarcastic.


Overall, I have extremely mixed feelings about this movie (and I think I'm watching a cropped-for-TV-version, boo, hiss--it may be full of weird shit, but it's still Francis Ford Coppola, and cropping films for TV is a sin against both God and all good directors), but I must say, looking back from nigh twenty years on, this strange, and uneven, and at times, I think, deeply misguided adaptation contains memorable, influential, even iconic imagery that has lived on in the canon of vampire and film lore. Which is why I wanted to watch it in the first place.


*I don't remember this much Dracula/Mina romancin' in the parts of the book I actually read,** but if anybody is deeply invested in Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray as a couple, it's news to me.

**I have read about sixteen comic/graphic novel adaptations of Dracula, plus, now, this film; despite multiple attempts, though, I have never managed to finish the actual goddamned epistolary novel. My shame! I keep getting bored.


In other news, young Winona Ryder with an English accent looks and sounds so very much like Keira Knightley that I keep getting confused. Yes, yes, it's a generational thing, shut it.

In other, other news: the obligatory linking to of comics. First, it might be a violation of the Geneva Conventions to ever discuss a Dracula-related adaptation without linking to this Kate Beaton comic. Second, I finally know where this quote comes from. (Both links are reasonably worksafe, which is remarkable, since the second one is Oglaf (initially an attempt to create pornography which immediately degenerated into sex comedy).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (why is there spring in this winter?)
Non fiction:

Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

(Everybody should read this book. Especially if they work in medicine, or any life science, or for that matter, any social science, but even if they don't; everybody should read this book. Everyone, bar none, has a stake or a potential stake in what the material of this book covers.

Rebecca Skloot pretty much now a personal heroine of mine for this work--for doing it, for doing it right, for taking the time to do it right, and to do right by Henrietta and her family. I feel that this is almost a case study in how to write about an important medical subject and to decently represent the human interests involved--in this case, the woman, her life and her death, her circumstances, and her family, past and present. Henrietta Lacks is one of the most important people ever born in the world. I'm not exaggerating. She deserves nothing less than this book, and probably much more.

I come from a social sciences background to begin with, plus we just covered ethics in that silly mandatory information evaluation class I'm taking right now, so ethics was kind of on the brain anyway; I am practically humming with the importance of treating human beings like human beings in your work, whatever your work may be. I hope this book ends up as mandatory reading in a million college classes, maybe high school classes, too, and teaches people about the intersection of science and humanity and ethics, and the right way to deal with the human beings you'll be working with if you do science. Or, you know, anything at all in your entire life).


Novels/prose books:

Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Trio for Blunt Instruments.


Comics/graphic novels:

Foglio, Phil and Kaja: Girl Genius, book five: Agatha Heterodyne and the Clockwork Princess.


Manga:

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol 7.
(sob sob sob. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I just, I knew this was coming but oh man I hoped and pretended and looked askance because this is an adaptation, and Urasawa can do whatever he wants! He didn't have to! Oh gosh. I have to go lie down now.

By the way, I read this volume in ten minutes flat, standing next to my bookcase with its stacks of unread manga, fist jammed into my mouth, barely breathing. Hoping I was wrong.

sob.)
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (autumn travels)
Romance:

Beverley, Jo: The Rogue's Return
(Better than Dangerous Joy; not as good as The Secret Wedding).


Mystery:

Stout, Rex: Three for the Chair
(includes "A Window for Death," "Immune to Murder," and "Too Many Detectives").


Graphic novels/comics:

Cooke, Darwyn: Parker: The Hunter (based on Richard Stark's prose novel)
(Umm. Great art. Icky, kinda misogynistic story).

Barnes, Bill, and Gene Ambaum: Reader's Advisory : Unshelved 7
(I bought this at ALA Midwinter, along with a truly fabulous "What Would Dewey Do?" shirt. It's autographed by Bill and Gene! The book, not the shirt, that is.

The forecast: scattered humor).


Manga/Manwha:

Azuma Kiyohiko: Yotsuba vol. 7.

KookHwa Huh, writer, and Sujin Kim, artist, Pig Bride vol. 1.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 6.

Yazawa Ai, Nana vol. 20
(Aaaand there's that spoiler omg).

Yoshinaga Fumi, All My Darling Daughters.

Yoshinaga Fumi, Ooku vol. 2
(sob. ...sorry, I can't help it. For some reasons, the stories in this series make me want to cry my eyes out and keep me from sleeping at night. Frickin' Yoshinaga).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (books)
I have to do this now because library books are due, and it got cold and snowed and the heat came on, so I can't keep piling these suckers up on the radiator.


Non-fiction:

Tyler, Royall, ed.: Japanese Tales
(this is an anthology of medieval Japanese stories--not folk lore, but rather stories written by upper-class members of the imperial court. I started reading this sucker back when I worked at the bookstore, some three years ago. It's a slow read, although an interesting and worthwhile read for people who are a) interested in Japanese history and culture, b) folklore and fairy tales, or c) Shinto and Buddhism. I'd heard for years about how Shinto and Buddhism harmoniously co-exist in Japan, but until I read this book, I never fully understood how that worked--I'd imagined peaceful mutual tolerance, but it's really more like a deep blending. You read about things like travelers going down some dangerous, haunted path, running into danger in the form of a powerful kami, and praying to a Buddhist figure. The menacing kami, however, sees that the traveler is a devout Buddhist, and, being a devout Buddhist his/her/itself, spares the traveler. It's a little bit like the way that various kinds of Western supernatural lore--vampire and werewolf myths--intermingle with Catholic imagery and Catholic beliefs--holy water, crosses, prayers, consecrated ground and whatnot).



Mystery:

Matsumoto Seicho: The Voice: Short stories by Japan's leading mystery writer
(In some other decade, I guess. It took me a few stories to adjust to the fact that in every story, the twist was signaled in about the first quarter of the story, and the rest of the story would be dedicated to following events to some logical end. I kept wanting some second twist closer to the end of a story, and it kept not happening).


Stout, Rex: Too Many Cooks
(Um, yeah, as [livejournal.com profile] snarp said, for a white guy writing in 1938, he didn't do too bad. And the story is Stout's usual strong stuff. But if the n-word or any of several other racial or ethnic slurs are dealbreakers for you, I would not read this.

I think Stout's racist like he is sexist--his is the worldview of an intelligent, thoughtful, sophisticated, creative, permissive and rather generous personality who is not, like, spectacularly socially enlightened for his era--I think he fits into his zeitgeist; he doesn't push the boundaries of his world. As a white chick who like snappy writing and vintage mystery, I find it easy and worthwhile to forgive him, but he does sometimes write things that need forgiving).



YA fiction:

Gaiman, Neil: The Graveyard Book
(I try to avoid Gaiman's prose books, because I don't enjoy them, but this was pressed on me by someone who knows my taste, and knows I adore Kipling. And, well, I finished it, which for me is pretty good when it comes to a Gaiman prose work, but I wish I hadn't known that it was a riff on Kipling's The Jungle Book before I read it, because then I would have been pleasantly surprised, instead of disappointed that it wasn't more like it. I love Kipling something ungodly fierce, and although Kim edges ahead by a hair as one of the most beautiful, loving, dream-like tributes to a real lost homeland I've ever read (the racial politics are actually really interesting, and not just massively depressing like, say, Heart of Darkness), The Jungle Book is nearly my favorite Kipling work. Gaiman's social politics are certainly easier to navigate than Kipling's (I mean, he did actually mean well, and he loved, loved, loved India, but boy was he racist), but if I was going to put them up next to each other, that's the only place where Gaiman would win for me.

Okay, will someone please tell Gaiman, for the love of god, that giving characters names like "Shadow" and "Door" and "Nobody" is fine when you're writing for comics--although it's still godawful cutesy--and the name is not the main signifier, but that when you're writing straight prose work, giving characters hideously unsubtle names like that is like slamming the readers in the head with a giant fucking brick over and over and over every single page? And to please stop it. Stop stop stop.

Alternatively, if people would stop trying to make me read Gaiman's prose work, he could continue to write books about people with BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS SYMBOLIC NAMES and using other textual tricks that so work better in a visual medium than in prose, and people who like that kind of thing could enjoy them, and I could ignore them in peace).



Graphic novels/comics:

Beaton, Kate: Never Learn Anything From History
(the only complaint whatsoever I have about this fabulous collection of Beaton's comics is that I had read them all recently enough to be able to remember them pretty well).


Hinds, Gareth: Beowulf
(hmm).



Manga:

Akino Matsuri: Petshop of Horrors: Tokyo vol. 6.


Asano Inio: What a Wonderful World! vol. 1
(okay, I remember these. I was so thrown, because I was sure I'd read some of these stories before when I heard they were licensed, but I started with volume 2 and didn't recognize any of them.

If you like Asano, you'll probably enjoy these. If you don't, you probably won't).


Azuma Kiyihiko: Yotsuba vol. 6
(the translation in this volume felt weirdly stiff--it's all still funny, and god knows, the art is expressive enough, but I know this could be better. Not the work, but the translation. Bummer. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sorry ADV isn't publishing this anymore, because they were doing it better than Yen Press).


Tanaka Masashi: Gon vol. 3.

Urasawa Naoki: 20th Century Boys vol. 5

Urasawa Naoki: Pluto vol. 6
(bawl).

Yasuko Aoike: From Eroica With Love vol. 4.


Yazawa Ai: Nana vol. 18-19
(bawl.

My love for Nana K. continues to grow in a way I never envisioned when I picked up volume 1 of this book, lo those three or four years ago. There is something profoundly satisfying about watching a callow youth mature into real adulthood, and I think Nana K. has experienced more genuine positive growth as a person than any other character in this entire series. Some of her decisions are kind of anxiety-inducing, but they're decisions she made thoughtfully and even selflessly, and she follows though on them in a steady way that's kind of unimaginable for the person she used to be).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Archival post: The Hooded Utilitarian blog post #6: Female Creators Roundtable: Jane Austen and yes, eventually, some damned zombies. Originally posted at The Hooded Utilitarian by Cerusee on 7-26-2009.

Female Creators Roundtable: Jane Austen and yes, eventually, some damned zombies. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Archival post: The Hooded Utilitarian blog post #4: Kids Comics Roundtable. Originally posted at The Hooded Utilitarian by Cerusee on 7-14-2009.

Kids Comics Roundtable: Hazardous Travel )

Man, that is not my favorite thing I've ever written.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
News! Noah Berlatsky of The Hooded Utilitarian has kindly invited me to be a guest blogger at HU for a few weeks while Bill Randall is on vacation. I'll start next week. I'd tell you what I'm planning to write about, but at this very moment, I haven't decided. Probably manga, but who knows.


Prose books:

Mystery:


Stout, Rex: Prisoner's Base
(wow, one of the best Stouts yet. There are a couple of great moments along with the standard snappy voice and the wit--one genuinely creepy, which is not standard Stout, and one where something gets under Archie's skin enough that it bleeds over into his narrative voice. Also, a very nice twist on the normal Wolfe/Goodwin standard operating procedures).

Stout, Rex: Death of a Doxy
(this features one of Stout's best female characters, in my mind, and I generally quite enjoy the way he writes women to begin with, especially the witty ones who go dancing with Archie.

I was bummed when I finished Prisoner's Base, because it's the last Stout in my local library, and I now have to wait for my library network holds to arrive. Yesterday, I was looking around the library for something as portable as a Bantam paperback and as engaging as a Nero Wolfe mystery to take with me to work, and finding zilch. Sometimes I underrate authors like Stout and Heyer, who are pretty fluffy genre authors--fluffy they are, but they're thecreme de la creme of genre fluff, and it's surprisingly hard to find work that good that hits the right notes. I'm picky about my narrative voices, at least when it comes to light entertainment, and Stout and Heyer have exactly the kind I like. That's harder to find than a decently written plot, says I).


Graphic novels/comics:

El Rassi, Toufic: Arab in America
(Last Gasp. Holy shit, was this ever depressing. I had a hard time getting through it, because every page just drained the energy out of me. It's not that the difficulties and indignities, profound and petty, of being a member of an unpopular minority group are so surprising to me, but being reminded of them is still a major downer even when you are intellectually aware of them.

The form itself is nothing exciting, kind of stiff and distant. Like a lot of non-fiction, though, it gets an additional weight from the knowledge that the experiences El Rassi relates really happened to him, and not so long ago, or so distantly. Also, there's something about the way he draws himself that crawls into my heart, a little--dark-eyed, withdrawn, reserved, sometimes with fear, sometimes with anger and alienation, trudging through the trials of his life, confused and aching.

He's got it way more together than the image of himself in the book, though--he couldn't have put this together if all that confusion and aching hadn't produced a lot of insight).


Katchor, Ben: Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District
(This one, I gave up on. It's mildly interesting, but although I can enjoy its brand of ironic absurdity in small doses, an endless stream of it is just boring. It doesn't build on itself in any way that I could see--I don't really see why it needed to be a book).


Manga:

Tezuka Osamu: Astro Boy vol. 5.

Hiwatari Saki: Tower of the Future vols. 6-7
(I shoul read more than a volume of this every six months, because I keep losing the plot, and Hiwatari's twisty plots are part of her appeal).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Non-fiction prose:

Nicholson, Geoff: The Lost Art of Walking
(didn't finish it--I don't quite remember why now, but I think it was because it was sort of boring and mostly about the author's own experiences walking, rather than being a more general treatise on the act of walking. The latter would have been informative; the former is pretty dull).


Mystery:

Stout, Rex: A Right To Die
(While I appreciate that Stout probably meant well in making race the theme of this book, he probably shouldn't have, because he does a lot of dumb things. The bulk of his work predated the Civil Rights Movement, and racial relations seem to have crept up on him in the last decade of his very long and prolific career. However, the various wince-inducing race-related moments in this book have nothing, absolutely nothing, on the introduction by David Stout--no relation to Rex--which was written in 1994, and kicks off by saying that although there's nothing wrong with a white woman and a black man in a relationship, we all have to look deep into our hearts in order to realize that. Oh, David Stout, FUCK YOU. Rex Stout was a man of his time belatedly recognizing the significance of Civil Rights, and his racial sins were sins of omission, not something more toxic. And he was trying. There is no racist apology in the book itself that equals David Stout's implication that interracial relationships are shocking and taboo and morally troublesome. To to say something that asinine in 1994, in the service of introducing a not particularly transgressive work? Go to hell).

Stout, Rex: And Four to Go, Black Orchids, Trouble in Triplicate
(all very enjoyable, all lacking the mild ambition of discussing race in any way, all lacking people of color, which is pretty standard for Stout. As I said, sins of omission. I'm white and don't know much about the history and racial politics of New York circa 1930-1960, so that tends to be easy for me to ignore).


Graphic novels/comics:

Bechdel, Alison: Dykes and Sundry Other Carbon-Based Life-Forms to Watch Out For.

Rabagliati, Michel: Paul goes fishing
(less about fishing and more about the heartbreak of miscarriage. It's a good book, but not all that well structured. The other Paul books were stronger).

Robinson, Alex: Tricked
(Hated the rock star guy--the romance was underwhelming, and I felt no sympathy for him at all, nor interest in how his sudden fixation on Lily made his life better. It didn't make him a better or more interesting person, it just made him happy, and I don't care. Generally, I hated or barely liked most of the characters, and the conceit of their lives all becoming intertwined until they culminate in that one climactic moment--eh. I've seen it done much better).

Delisle, Guy: Burma Chronicles
(waaaaaaay better than Shenzhen, in many ways, and more of a genuine pleasure than Pyongyang, which was almost purely upsetting. For whatever reason--because he was here with a wife and child, because his wife was deeply involved in humanitarian work in Burma, and the related politics of that, because the length of his stay and his more relaxed lifestyle permitted it--Delisle actually seems to have gotten to know people in Burma, and learned about their lives and culture. While China's political system is by no means ideal to me, Delisle's criticisms of Shenzhen seemed, well...shallow, uninformed, ethnocentric, and lacking in real critical perspective--there is legitimate criticism of China to be made, quite a lot of it, but he wasn't doing it well, and he came across as totally uninterested in people's actual lives. Not the case here. Although life in Burma is pretty depressing and scary in many ways, same as in Pyongyang, this is a much warmer book nevertheless--the description of the betel-nut chewing, the Water Festival, the love of children that made Delisle's infant son very popular in his neighborhood, the deeply emotional, quiet reverence that the locals hold for Aung San Suu Kyi, sitting silently under house arrest in a decades-long act of political protest--all of this made for a much richer, more interesting, less ethnocentric book than Shenzhen. This one, I can whole-heartedly recommend).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (woman with hamster)
Romance

Quinn, Julia: Romancing Mister Bridgerton
(this was off my friend's A shelf. It's not what I would think of as an "A" book, but it was certainly better than the last one).


Mystery

Smith, Alexander McCall, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
('twas ok. Unless they get plottier after this, I don't know how much I'd want to read--the love letter to Africa is nice, but not on the level of say, Kipling's Kim, which fits probably into the same sort of cultural framework and also has slightly rambling narrative, but is such genius that I always forget the qualifiers).


Graphic novels/comics

Dickens, Charles, writer, and Rick Geary, artist/adapter: Great Expectations
(abridged, but I got the plot, and Geary is always worth it.

Someday, I will do right by Dickens and read at least one of his actual original short stories or novels, instead of some adaptation or pastiche, I swear).


DeMatteis, J.M. and Mark Badger: Greenberg the Vampire
(nice art, silly story.

A) The next time I read some ooh-aren't-we-transgressive "reworking" of the vampire legend that kicks off with "Bram Stoker had it all wrong! Let me, a real vampire, tell it to you right," I will commit murder, perhaps in some suitably blood-draining thematic fashion. It's not that I'm particularly attached to Stoker or his book--I've never even made it through the novel, and I'm not a devotee of vampire lore--but it's a meta framing device that's never worked for me, like, at all. Vampires are fictional to begin with, dude; you're not bound to defend your reworking of vampire lore--and by the way, you are not transgressive, and you are not original, you are about the seventeen thousandth person to rework vampire lore since Stoker came up with the prototype to begin with, and it's all tired and hokey. Get over it! You were the one who wanted to work with vampires. If your vampires aren't like Dracula, whatever; just don't write 'em like Dracula. Change whatever you like. This whole demythologizing a fiction to serve a different fiction thing is stupid. Stoker created a popular image to bounce off of, so did Anne Rice,* and we've had "Rice had it all wrong! I'm a vampire, I should know" since, probably other steps, too, in the vampire chain, that I don't fucking care about. It's how you know an work's really carved its way into the popular consciousness, when other authors can't seem to tackle similar material without inserting meta disclaimers into the narrative. Jesus. It's so wussy.

Personally, I can't wait for the Twilight references to start popping up in future fictional works. "Meyer had it all wrong, buddy: I'm a vampire, I should know! Here's my super-original story! Vampires don't sparkle! They do glow in the dark, though. And they can't live on animal blood, but they can live on fish blood."

I am asking all future writers of vampire stories to shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up in the future. Just write your fucking vampire story. You are allowed to pretend no one else ever wrote a vampire story before. It's okay. No one will mind.

B) Why is Lilith so interested in this dweeb? She's a fucking demon goddess. I'm not into the dweeb character enough to not be bothered that this is a sadly transparent personal fantasy of being the random super-special guy who attracts multiple hot supernatural lovers who are into him because it's Destiny. And it's not a funny enough book to make up for the wincing bits. Whatever).


Foglio, Phil: Buck Godot, Zap Gun for Hire 2: PSmith
(oh thank god, a good book).

Carlton, Bronwyn: The Big Book of Death
(Paradox Press. Kept me up at night. Not a good book to relax with. *shudder* But as always, the Big Book of n is fun.

Um. About spontaneous human combustion. Really? I can't quite bring myself to believe it. Since this is a controversial topic, it's one of those things Wikipedia is useless on).


*You know something neat about Rice? She didn't waste a lot of time on worrying about how her vampires looked next to Stoker's; she just wrote out her crazy-ass sexy vision, no holds barred. She's nuts, but her work has a powerful kick because she's good with prose and she has these vivid ideas and images, and she puts them down on paper. You can say a lot of stuff about Rice, but at least she had the courage to work with her own vision without playing apologist. Rice is self indulgent, sure, but it's a self indulgence that entertained millions, and that is frankly an impressive thing. Come to think of it, the same thing can be said about Meyer.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
I know the internet's afire with this already, but I haven't seen this perspective anywhere else yet, so here goes:

Re: the recent deletion of [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily: it was inevitable. I'm not feeling entirely blase about its permanent suspension, because although a TOS on copyright issues was inevitable, it seems pretty clear that what triggered the TOS wasn't actually the copyright pigeon coming home to roost, but rather stupid, petty wank over bruised feelings, and I have no respect for that. And [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily was fucking awesome; I loved reading stuff there, and reading discussions. I followed it and commented there for years--since at least 2004, maybe even 2003--and have enjoyed it, through its many ups and downs and interesting wanks.

But a TOS over copyright would have happened eventually anyway, because from a legal vulnerability standpoint, it really does not matter whether a half-an-issue posting cap is set as a good faith effort to emphasize that the scans are about sampling, review, and discussion, not intended as substitution for supporting commercially available material: a community as big and old and well-known as [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily was gonna get a TOS sooner or later. The fact that it was later, and the open acknowledgment of it in so many industry-nigh comics circles, strongly suggests to me that it was left alone out of the correct belief that it did no actual harm, and was a lively, passionate venue for comics discussion. But the copyright thing--yeah, there was just no way someone wasn't going to be so generous about it, eventually.

More on copyright. )


Here's the heart of it: [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily was not about buying comics, and it wasn't about not buying comics. It was about reacting to comics, and it directly incorporated them into that process with scans. I'm sorry if some creator somewhere was disappointed that it wasn't a primo viral marketing tool for them, but it's not always about you, chickadee.


And it was good for comics. It wasn't good for comics because there was some kind of direct correlation between a post on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily and a sales bump; it was good for comics because for its members, it strengthened their love of comics and let them explore their interests in the kind of freewheeling, informal, fannish environment that no commercial entity can create. I learned so much from [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily! Long before I got interested in manga, or comics blogs, before I ever read Journalista (which for my money is one of the best places on the internet to learn more about comics, and have chances to look at cool shit), the gradually broadening content at [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily was introducing me to new kinds of comics. My interest in superheroes has waned over the years, and as it exists at all, is mostly just nostalgia, but due in great part to the breath and volume of material posted at [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily in that time, other things have taken the place of superheroes. I own a ton of manga and alternative titles because [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily widened my horizons. Some of it I first found there, some not, but all of it owes a debt to [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily's place in my comics education.

I should point out, too, that even if people aren't necessarily buying things now, places like this can keep an interest alive while there's no money for the comics habit because they're student, or a kid, or had a medical emergency, or lost a job. Just like I'm leaning heavily on my local library to supply me with reading material while I get through grad school and can't afford books, I think people can and do rely on places like [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily to keep track of what's out there in the comics world while they are not able to purchase everything they're interested in.***** It's shortsighted and stupid for industry pros to think of this issue only in terms of, "will we see an immediate sales boost on some item if someone posts a sample of it on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily?" What they should be thinking about is, "does a forum like [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily help to promote the healthy, diverse, passionate, comics-reading culture that we as an industry need in order to have a future?"

The answer, by the way, is yes.


Footnotes. )
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels/comics:

Robinson, Alex: BOP! [More Box Office Poison]
(they don't suck by any means, but I can see why they didn't end up in the initial compilation).



Manga:

Ashihara Hinako: Sand Chronicles vol. 3
(such tasteful and pleasing teenage soap! I can dig it).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (nana at the window)
Graphic novels:

Allison, John: Heavy Metal Hearts and Flowers: A Scary Go Round Story
(reread. I've actually been reading the webcomic Scary Go Round for years, and its predecessor Bobbins years before that).

Chadwick, Paul: Concrete vol. 1
(It's precious, but I liked this more than I thought I would anyway).

Chinsang, Wayne, writer, and Dave Crosland, illustrator: Heaven, LLC
(okay, actually, I didn't read more than five pages. As satire, it's a little lacking in subtlety...intelligence...purpose...).

Cruse, Howard: Stuck Rubber Baby
(A coming-of-age story set in the 1960s, about a young, white, gay man learning to accept his homosexuality at the same time that he is drawn by his friends into the Civil Rights movement in Dixie. I was brought to tears for the tragedy, and was grateful for the honesty, the humbleness, the generosity of its spirit. God, this was a hell of a thing to read on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. What a good book. Read it).

Los Bros Hernandez: Tears From Heaven
(I think I prefer Gilbert to Jaime).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (the sky is bleak and lovely)
It's the holidays! Lots of family members that I love and miss and rarely see are en route to visit me and my sister for the holidays, for the first time since we moved Boston. It's very exciting! Too bad the horrible/picturesque winter storms have stranded and delayed 'em all.


Graphic novels/comics/picture books:

Hernandez, Gilbert: Chance in Hell
(I adore this man).

Giardino, Vittorio: No Pasaran vol. 3
(a little anti-climactic, but far from disappointing).

Tudor, Tasha: Corgiville Faire
(a friend saw this and spontaneously bought it for me and sent it to me, along with the news that she's decided to take classes in my library program next semester. I don't know what thrilled me more, the happy news, or the happy dogs).


Manga:

Tezuka Osamu: Dororo vol. 2.


I've not been reading a lot lately. For some reason, whenever I'm not baking (purely for fun! I just made a honey cake. Why not? To buy the honey for it, I only had to tramp a mile through snow, slush, sleet and hail--yes, all of those; the temperature is in flux right now. I got some fennel while I was at it. Normal people buy toilet paper and milk in preparation for bad storms; I buy fennel and brussel sprouts), I'm doing crossword puzzles. Got me why.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Link found via Journalista.

This article on the rise of manga around the world is absolutely the most interesting thing I've read all day--okay, it's neck in neck with the biography about Panizzi. It doesn't talk much in detail about American comics, only generally, but there's tons in there about French comics, and, of course, manga from Tezuka onwards. This is not your average "wow, manga sure is popular!" piece. Check it out; it's worth your time.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
I am amused and perfectly unsorry that this discussion doesn't really encompass superhero comics. Shaenon Garrity assembles a crack panel to identify which American cartoonists draw really hot men.

Of the ones mentioned, I can firmly endorse Carla Speed McNeil (who draws sexy, sexy people of both genders, but who is also talented and imaginative enough to draw a variety of physical types, including unsexy people--do not take this sort of thing for granted!) and Mike Mignola (I never got anywhere in Hellboy, but both the male protagonists and the poor women who got eaten by rats were extremely sexy in Migola's adaptation of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser), Wendy Pini (I agree about wanting to bone the elves. Hello, Rayek! Pini also gets props for that coveted ability to draw different physical types), Los Bros Hernandez (the mustaches of Palomar are not my thing, but the male characters have the same vibrant sexuality as the female characters; that extraordinary ability to convey the power and presence of sex and sexuality is one of the magnetic qualities of Love and Rockets), and Kyle Baker (you know the protagonist in You Are Here? The one who looks like a young Cary Grant? That's my type, and how).

I would also like to add Phil Foglio to this list. You can go look at the canon of Foglio's cheerful, sexy, funny, sci-fi porn comic XXXenophile if you don't believe me, but you really need look no further than his current work, Girl Genius, which contains two of the most smoulderingly hot men around in comics: Baron Klaus Wulfenbach, and his son, Gilgamesh. You know, Gil, the one I said I wanted to clone a thousand times so I could marry all the clones. In the context of Girl Genius, that's slightly less bizarre than it sounds. Really.)

Oh, and Adam Warren. It's easy to get distracted by Emp in Empowered, but Thugboy--wow.


Looking over this list, it occurs to me that with all of these artists--I think all or all but one of whom are both artists and writers--the sexy characters they've created aren't just physically good-looking, but are also dynamic, memorable, interesting personalities. It's that synthesis of a well-shaped physical form and a lively personality that makes them stand out as sexy. Superhero comics are filled with cookie-cutter character designs of ideal male and female bodies (sometimes idealized to the absurd or even to the point of being grotesque); it's all quite dull. I find some superhero characters very sexy, but only when they have such interesting personalities that they begin to stand out as people. For a variety of reasons, that doesn't happen much.

Anyway. Anybody else know of any American cartoonists who draw really hot men? Inquiring minds want to know, preferably before my next visit to Hub.
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
Graphic novels/comics:

Lutes, Jason: Jar of Fools part 1
(my first Jason Lutes work, and I like his style a lot. He's of the cartoony black-and-white style, with everything really clear and cleanly rendered; lots of detail lines, but little grey color. It's a style that lends itself very well to liveliness and expressiveness, and it's easy to read, and to become engaged with the story. The story features a young magician struggling with a lot of personal issues--a stalled career, a breakup from an intense relationship, a beloved mentor who is going senile, and the bizarre and tragic death of his older brother, which may or may not have been suicide. Kind of unsettlingly weird. I would definitely like to read more of this).

Lasko-Grass, Miss (she's credited as "Miss Lasko-Grass; I'm not entirely sure, but I think that "Miss" is a nickname for "Melissa" and not meant to be a title; that's how WorldCat treats it, at any rate. God love super-prentious creator credits--the bane of catalogers everywhere): Escape from "Special"
(really not what I was expecting, and more interesting to me for it--it's sort of a not-very-strict chronicle of growing up as a creative person in environs that were not always prepared to handle the intensity and sometimes shocking manifestations of her creativity. It's not at all whiny, or snobbishly dismissive of the people who didn't quite get her as a kid, which makes it very approachable--Lasko-Gross clearly understands both how it feels on the inside and what it can look like on the outside to people who are not on your wavelength. Mucho cool).

Schrag, Ariel, editor: Stuck in the Middle
(is there anything more cheerful than people's tales of middle school hell? Although the specific experiences don't match up to mine, I appreciate this collection for acknowledging the horror of middle school--the horror of high school gets a lot more press, but I remember high school as the point when the sickeningly intense cruelty of my classmates eased up a bit, and I began to find friends again for the first time in about five years. High school was unpleasant, but middle school was pure hell).

Tyler, C: Late Bloomer.


Manga:

Aoi Hana: Love for Dessert
(LuvLuv. My god, what a total waste of 11 dollars. The plots were entirely banal, the art dull, the sex scenes formulaic, repetitive, and unsexy.).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (eaten by affection)
Graphic novels/comics:

Kanan, Nabiel: Lost Girl
(so memorable, I've already forgotten what it was about).

Gurewitch, Nicholas: The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories
(that's quite an imagination Gurewitch has).

Kochalka, James: Monkey vs. Robot.

Giardino, Vittorio: No Pasaran! vol. 2
(the more I read of this, the more I dig it. He's got a really spare style, so it takes some time to get used to the characters, but it kind of crawls up under your skin, the bright, crisp, colorful art, the beauty of landscape and the well-rendered details of houses, cars, trains, airplanes, military uniforms...I know zilch about the Spanish Civil War, so I'm going to need to read up on it).

Benson, John, editor, Dana Dutch (presumed) author, Matt Baker, artist, et al: Romance Without Tears: '50s Love Comics--With a Twist!
(Fantagraphics. The stories are not really "with a twist," like those romance comics with the text rewritten to snark the original stories. This is a collection of actual romance comics published by Archer St. John in the 50s, presumably written by Dana Dutch and mainly illustrated by Matt Baker; however, as there are no surviving records proving Dutch wrote the scripts, we can't be entirely sure all of these are Dutch's work, and the collection is copyrighted by Benson. In the introduction, Benson explains that the older romance comics of the fifties featured surprisingly liberated and self-possessed heroines, far more so than their counterparts in the 1960s, which are notorious for the "tear-stained faces" of their covers. These 50's comics are still conservative about sex and marriage--sex outside of marriage is presented as disastrous, shameful, and rare, and this is not historically true of what actual people did in the 1950's. That said, Benson's observations about the nature of the heroines and their actions in these comics is borne out by the texts--the collection is just chock full of young women who learn by experience, make decisions for themselves (and sometimes make mistakes), cry infrequently and briefly, and who have the kinds of relationships with their boyfriends, parents, siblings, and friends that support mature growth. Well worth checking out).

Simmonds, Posy: Gemma Bovary
(On the subject of good stories involving romance and well-written women--this is fucking brilliant in every regard, and oh so clever. I highly recommend it).
cerusee: a white redheaded girl in a classroom sitting by the window chewing on a pencil and looking bored (Default)
I'm much too lazy to actually ever write that post titled, You Know, You Guys Care Way Too Much About Getting Comic Books Turned Into Movies that's been eating at my backbrain for a few months, but Tucker Stone hits a few of the highlights that would be in it--namely, "comic book movies don't sell comics, and never have and possibly never will, but that's not necessarily a bad thing." Maybe I could write a follow-up titled, Are You Sure You Want To Become A Franchise? Or, Okay, So You Are Sure You Want To Become A Franchise, That's Cool, Your Life, But Don't Complain If I Don't Follow.

Getting stuff--particularly finished works--made into movies is really, ultimately, not about artistic validation. Right now, and in the foreseeable future, comics and graphic novels are a tiny, money-poor niche in publishing and in the broader American cultural sphere. It's hard to make a living on them. That's going to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Creators who benefit substantially from the occasional comic/GN-inspired movie will be few and far between (one can always live on the hope of that, I suppose; that's what the American dream is all about--letting gross inequalities of wealth and social resource remain standing on the unshakeable, delusional hope of the disenfranchised that they'll someday win the lottery or invent the perpetual motion machine and be welcomed into the Kingdom); creators who benefit artistically from comic books or graphic novels being made into movies will, I think, be even rarer.*

*Creators who benefit artistically from the creative innovations of film are not so rare.

So all that money and name recognition that gets thrown around with movies? Just remember you're not going to end up getting very much out of it, whether you're a reader or a creator of comics. Comics etc is not a money field. Publishing of any stripe is not a big money field. That is a reality all people who are part of book culture need to accept. I'm not saying, "don't hope and work for financial solvency and god willing, even profitability in book publishing or as a creator," but movies are not the holy grail that will make money issues in publishing go away.

January 2017

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