#045 “99 Ways” and Character Design

99 WaysEarthFLASHBACK! Discussion of Matt Madden’s 99 Ways to Tell a Story and Tim’s character design process for the Boogie Knights! (Originally published October 16, 2006)

Boogie Knights sketches

The finished page

REVIEW: Howard the Duck MAX Series

Howard the Duck MAX tpb

Writer: Steve Gerber, Art: Phil Winslade, Glenn Fabry.

Marvel, 2001.

This six issue miniseries (collected into a single trade in 2002) was one of the first things to be published under the Marvel MAX imprint, which seems tailored both to writers like Steve Gerber and characters like Howard the Duck. The loosened restraints that come with being a MAX book allowed Gerber to expand beyond the already surreal concepts and plots that he developed in his “normal” Marvel work. It also gave him an opportunity to mix a little venom in his social criticism by allowing an embrace of adult themes, mainly nudity and profanity, since we seem to think graphic violence can deserve a pass these days, because we see it as far less dangerous to show an exploding head then a female’s nipple.

But I digress…

The series begins with Howard and Beverly living in a junkyard shack. Beverly lands a job at a marketing firm that is testing boy bands for their “arousal” factor on a group of gay men. It seems that the boy bands are not just being tested, but grown in cloning vats. When the firm is revealed to be run by Dr. Bong, who hired Beverly because he is still carrying a torch for her, conflict ensues and Howard is knocked into a vat of recombinant DNA protein when he comes to save Beverly.

Continue reading REVIEW: Howard the Duck MAX Series

REVIEW: Action Comics #775

Joe Kelly, writer. Doug Mahnke and Lee Bermejo, pencillers.

DC Comics, 2001.

“Masks are for hiding. Capes are for play. ‘Villains’ don’t share their plans before they smoke you — ‘cept in campaign speeches. Or the pulpit or in front of the classroom. Reality is a mite bloodier than sitcoms or comics. The greys stretch out farther… Evil scientists. Bogey-men. Gimps in tights who want to ‘rule the world.’ From now on they’re yours — and the rest are ours to do with as we see fit.”

— Manchester Black (leader of The Elite) speaking to Superman

Despite some things you might have heard me say, or what you might have read in my diary that I keep under my pillow, I don’t really care about Superman in the greater context of things. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Clark / Superman dichotomy, or what principles Superman embodies. If anything, I agree with Gary Groth’s 1988 essay that really Superman is a symbol of commercialism, exploitation, and the gangster morality of the comics industry. I love the first Christopher Reeve movie. And I like the character to the extent that he opens the door to stories in which, say, Jimmy Olsen uses a “Helmet of Hate” to turn Superman into a red devil with horns and then the horns crack open and tiny Supermen fly out, all drawn in an almost inappropriately naturalistic way by Curt Swan.

Continue reading REVIEW: Action Comics #775

#307 Getting some Action (Comics)

Action ComicsIf you’ve paid two seconds of attention to American comics recently, you probably know that DC “soft rebooted” its entire line, shipping fifty-two #1 issues last September. Since hyping the latest DC/Marvel news is not really our thing, we’ve been leaving that to other podcasts. But since Marvel zombie Tim, of his own free will, decided to pick up Grant Morrison’s Action Comics, and Kumar is a sometime Superman reader, we decided to present here our take on the first four issues.

Also, why reading comics on an iPhone is still a less-than-satisfactory experience; and, you too can be a DeconstructingComics.com columnist!

REVIEW: Canadian Ninja #1

Rogers Beausoleil: Script and Layout. Nathalie Lagace: Inks. Nelson Joly: Letter (sic).

Editions RGB, 1988.

Sometimes the only appropriate response to a thing like this is internet snark.

Quite obviously published during the height of the black-and-white boom-and-bust, it’s hard to tell how much a shoddy piece of junk like this was published out of sheer creative enthusiasm, and how much of it was mercenary. I’ll give you the facts, and you decide.

Continue reading REVIEW: Canadian Ninja #1

Critiquing Comics 019: “Black Snow” and “Electric 1937”

Tim and Mulele are back with two comics, submitted for critique by their creators:

I'm Famous/Black SnowMichael Balestreri & Alex Siquig have several comics at blacksnowcomic.com, all of them centering around a group of superheroes. We tap our feet on the non-existent floor, and invoke Chris Schweizer’s “Guide to Spotting Tangents.” (Chris appeared in Deconstructing Comics Episode 157!)

Electric 1937Michael Liggett’s “Electric 1937” is set in a fantastically imaginative alternate reality. The comic just needs to tell us about it a bit sooner.

REVIEW: Samurai, Son of Death

Writer: Sharman DiVono, Art: Hiroshi Hirata.

Eclipse Comics, 1987.

(This review originally appeared at Weird Crime Theater.)

Because of my own personal experience, I tend to approach fiction about Japan by Westerners with a spoonful of suspicion. Typically I find even pro-Japan works to be either somewhat or grossly based on generalization born of not spending long enough in the country, or not trying hard enough to get to know the people. Though, naturally, my own opinions of Japan are based on my own generalizations as well.

Continue reading REVIEW: Samurai, Son of Death

#306 Fear Itself and other events that… happened

Fear ItselfCrossover events have become ubiquitous fare from Marvel and DC, with smaller publishers recently jumping on the bandwagon. Lots of us complain about them, and yet, buying ironically is still buying. Tim is joined by John Roberson to discuss why the past year’s main events, Fear Itself and Flashpoint, were particularly unsatisfying, what makes a (relatively) good event series, and why we read these books in spite of “event fatigue”.

John’s Comic Art Commissions page

REVIEW: Gangsta Rap Posse #2

by Benjamin Marra

Traditional Comics, 2011

Of all the comic covers I’ve seen featuring superheroes pummeling Nazis, this one takes the cake. And if you can’t handle the cover, then I should point out now that you will find even everything in this review offensive.

Continue reading REVIEW: Gangsta Rap Posse #2

#305 Love & Rockets: Gilbert Hernandez

In episode #300, we took a look at the sometimes wacky and cartoony Love & Rockets work of Jaime Hernandez. This week, Tim and Kumar are again joined by Tom Spurgeon to look at the somewhat darker, more violent and yet rather hard-to-pin-down work of Gilbert Hernandez in his stories of (or, sometimes merely tangentially related to) the isolated Mexican village of Palomar.