Friday, May 26, 2017

Back Issue Week Friday edition


THE 
COLD 
WAR

This set of back issues to look for has a theme.  It is, comics about war, from the Korean war to the mid 1980s.  Or, nearly the entire length of the first Cold war.  Broken by Reagan's military spending and directed financial attacks, the Soviet Union collapsed and the world has been recovering since.  The books here are not all well established, but I've chosen for these recommendations books to give you thought about the story being told, and why it is being told the way that it is.




When the Berlin Wall fell, everybody knew the world had, in fact, changed. The people of Germany above all others knew this, and welcomed the change.  To celebrate the fall of the wall, a European publisher released Breakthrough.  Not only was this moment about the Wall, it also, de facto celebrated the end of World War 2 in Germany.  With the reunion of the two German states, East Germany, of the Communists, controlled by the Soviets, and West Germany, member of Nato and the financial powerhouse of continental Europe united as one state, the war and punishments and sanctions were truly over.

This work is amazing.  I gave copies of it to my German friends working in the US.  A couple even broke down in tears reading, by just paging through it.  I loved having this book to share.


The works of Joe Sacco are political, deeply disturbing, and important.  His views on Gaza and Palestine are, perhaps, fair, to some who side with Israel, but his works aren't there to present both sides equally.   As opposed to the stories in comics that use the action and drama to show the cost of war, Joe Sacco investigates it on a moral and personal level.  Those kind of works are almost always going to show a single side more than the others.



The Arab/Palestine/Israeli wars as seen by Garth Ennis and Tomas Aira in War Stories, is brutal, horrifying, entering the genre of horror at times, and well done.  The tank stories here illustrate the wars well.  They were a nightmare of blood, sand, and hate.  Anyone who is a history reader, such as me, will tell you, the intensity of this is painted incredibly well, both in the words and in the art.





Eclipse Comics published a number of anti war, anti establishment comics.  This was not a bad thing, not anything just following their personal and political viewpoints.  This can work against a company.  When doing anything that ruffles feathers, it is important to be aware of the backlash.  Having said that, I bought these, bought more than for just myself, and shared them.  I might not be a prototype Lefty, but I am a person who thinks we resort to war far too much.  El Salvador was a document of the fucked up situation greed and bitterness led to.  Real War Stories were two relatively anti military books, that told stories about how bad things can happen in the name of country.  Brought to Light by Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz was a thorough, heartbreaking look into the consequences of black operations, the Iran Contra Affair, and the actions of the CIA run rampant.




VIETNAM  WAR

In The Other Side Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart tell the story of being the home team in the Vietnam war.  It is rather unique in doing this, no matter how dark this is, it is important and was a truly great work.  As hard as it was for Americans, it was worse for the Vietnamese people.  This is a story about a tragedy.


Marvel's THE NAM is similarly disturbing, but from different perspectives.  In this case the stories are very well done, being in many ways the war recollections of US and Allies who served.  With attention to detail, an accurate depictions of people and equipment, the Nam is powerful story.  And Marvel was

WAR MAN was a story of the 1980s world of brushfire wars, arms dealing, and the desire to fulfill one's desires, monetarily and physically more than any desire to help others.  Some might see this as a cynical work.  Or a metaphor for various people who make profit from war but are also seen as being "heroic".  This is different than any other Chuck Dixon work.  He isn't evangelizing the world of arms, money and war.  He is showing a side of it, but not promoting it, from the perspective of a person who has a body of work using war a setting. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

FANTASY COMIC BOOKS: Focus on Comics about Dragons

Across the globe there have been legends of great beasts called dragons.  They have been seen by their respective region's writers as monsters, ancient gods, good luck, or the most foul evil.  There are believers in the world of the past existence of dragons.  Certainly, the dinosaur bones, the prehistoric ocean beasts, and other now explainable fossils of known creatures, give the mind reason to believe in odd, scary beasts.  As such they are popular features of stories, epic poems, movies and COMICs.  Here is a look at a number of comics worth checking out, that revolve around dragons.



In a sixth-century post-Roman Britain kingdom called Urland the people fear a great beast.  The king chooses a form of sacrifice to the 400-year-old dragon named Vermithrax Pejorative, by sending virgin girls to the slaughter.  Much like the myth of Theseus, where Athenian youths were offered to the Minotaur, this evokes a dark, fearsome quest, that only an epic hero can achieve.  The hero who rises to the occasion is Valerian.  His use of a special shield, and the innocence of his quest take him from young boy to brave hero.

Dragonslayer the movie was ok.  It had issues of the day of not having CGI, not having a big enough budget to really hit hard, but it had a story that was pretty nicely done.  The comic, oddly enough, was far better.  I was told in the past that with the right writer and artist you can tell multi million dollar budget stories.  I could still read this comic a few times. 


Black Dragon is a work that is beautiful to look at, but for most people who I've shared it with, seems a bit stiff.  But, for me it evokes some of the books I love best, such as King of Elfland's Daughter and Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene.  A hero, outcast, fugitive learns that two different worlds have a connection.  The Faerie world, the physical world both have queens, and have a say over the heart and actions of the soon to be knight Dunreith.  He is called to action to save the domains, versus a Black Dragon, who is fearsome and of legend.


The Dragonlance saga, as told in three graphic novels by Roy Thomas and Thomas Yeates is very pretty looking.  The story told is done well, and you can understand the story even if you didn't read the source material it is adapted from.  The story of a group of adventurers who end up fighting for power, using dragons, is solid.  But I would say, it has less of a spirit of excitement than it does, here is our interpretation of it.  The art while beautiful, isn't fluid in the sense of modern comics art.  It looks very much like the illustrations of the past greats, and I am not saying it is bad.  It just is more that you like looking at it than reading it.


Ron Marz told an epic tale of a woman fighting evil, and dragons in Sojourn.  He was brilliant with that.  What Dragon Prince does is something different, but still quite enjoyable.  While the previous series mentioned happened in antiquity, this is a story of the present.  An Chinese-American discovers that he is the Dragon Prince, last of a bloodline.  And should he fail in his adventure, both he, the dragons, and the line of men who can control dragons will die.  This has an easy sense of adventure and is very pleasant.  It doesn't take a genius to read it, but you won't feel robbed.


I bought all of the copies of Dragon Cross because the idea behind it all interested me.  Two brothers fighting, questing to find dragons.  It was not always great, but it was an interesting series, and kept my interest through to the end.

From the publisher
"Talon now finds himself traveling with companions whose lives are at risk just by being in his presence. While his brother Bronze is still tracking him, three other dragons are also on the hunt, and aren't too interested whether he returns breathing - or in a box!"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Back Issue Week Wednesday


DEADMAN: Love after Death
DEADMAN: Exorcism
collected as a TPB as DEADMAN: Lost Souls
Published by DC
Written by Mike Baron
Art by Kelley Jones 

I really enjoyed these books. The ability of Baron to take a tumor and make it burn and hurt, i.e. the undead existence of Deadman is brilliant.  The story asked questions like, if you can never die, can you love, can you have ideas, what is it like to live an existence that others can never understand or perceive.

Something that people might like or hate, is, the art.  I think that the previous version of Deadman, being a dead guy is rather limited by the look of the character.  He is a dead guy who is muscular and such.  Kelley Jones the artist made the DEAD part of the Deadman feel, look, and BE dead.  This new depiction adds a layer of metafiction without forcing it down the readers throat.  Additionally, the stories shift from "super heroey" to metaphysical and cosmic.


RUNE
Published by Malibu Comics
Story by Chris Ulm and Barry Windsor Smith

Some might think that RUNE is an unpleasant comic.  The protagonist is evil, alien to humans and unlovable.  He was an alien humanoid in the Ultraverse, until acquiring magical artifacts that made him ultra powerful, and nearly immortal.  He became stranded on Earth, and much like the Alien Astronaut theory, his great power and unbridled malice made him worshipped as a god and reviled as a demon by humans.  This character is dark, and I never found myself liking him.  I found myself enjoying the stories, because a great villain brings out the greatness in heroes.

These back issues are unlikely to be hugely expensive.  They were not, to my knowledge, ever collected in TPB form. 



THE HOOD
Story by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Kyle Hotz

Created by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artists Kyle Hotz and Eric Powell, The Hood first appeared in his own self-titled MAX limited series in 2002, which featured his origin, as a character who possesses a cloak and boots stolen from a Nisanti demon, which grant him invisibility and limited levitation ability, respectively.

This work is dark, with a story that features a criminal, using his new found powers for reasons that are less than good.  The art is amazing because it allows depth of the darkness to prevail.

I thought, when this came out, that it was a B+ on a grade scale, but now I think differently.  Much higher.


CATWOMAN
DC COMICS
Story: Mindy Newell
Art: J.J. Birch & Michael Bair

This was follow up series to the Batman Year One series by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.  The first year of Batman's career, followed up by the first year of Catwoman's career as a theif, adventurer, and defender of her world.

I liked the art a great deal, and the story worked well, evoking the atmosphere created by Mazzucchelli and Miller's Gotham.  But more, this work felt like it belonged in the Batman world.

GRENDEL
From COMICO and DARK HORSE
By Matt Wagner
and friends

I know friends who abjectly hate Grendel, and others who think it is sublime, perfect and undoubtedly the best comic ever.  I am of the opinion that you need to be aware that Grendel is a demon, who has inhabited many cloaks of flesh.  As such, his goals are not that of a happy camper.  He is not moral.  He might well have a code he lives by, but it is not the one that most people would have.

But, all that said, his stories are wildly dark and entertaining.  I never picked up a tpb or graphic novel and ended up being disappointed. 




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

RIPPER Comics

As a writer of a book about the Ripper it could be assumed that I like Jack the Ripper in comics.  The answer to that is sort of.  That isn't me being equivocating, it is me saying, most people haven't done the research enough for it to work for me.  That isn't to say everyone sucks. And it isn't to say that the stories that aren't "factual" or conversant with the facts, aren't good as stories.  It is that their use of a character that there are known facts about is perhaps either lazy, or cliched.  I am not making accusations.  Simply, that if you want to use a historical figure why not create your own?  This is like writing a story taking place in the American Civil War, using a character named Abraham Lincoln, and his being short, fat, and stupid.  He is clean shaved, wears a beany, and never made hard choices during the conflict.  Maybe that is a bad analogy, but the truth is, if you can't pay justice to the character, use your own, or a different one you can do justice for.

Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell show how to write a story that isn't focused upon the facts of the slayings, but is honest and faithful to the facts that are known.  From that point we engage the focus of the story, which is, Batman lived in Victorian era Gotham.  He is the answer to the new terror that has struck Gotham, Jack the Ripper.  It is an amazing tale, with emotive writing, and moody successful art.

The truth about this story is multi-fold.  It created the imprint Elseworlds for DC, a place where the often iconic figures in DC's universe are allowed to consider what if scenarios.  Secondly, it showed the world, from the first step how such a story should be done.  Thirdly, many people who otherwise would have been bored by a true crime story, were thrilled by the story of the same, only using the Batman and others to create a new way of considering it.




Don't confuse the placement of any series here as my saying that all of the works on Jack the Ripper are equally good. They are not.

The series Jack the Ripper from Eternity/Malibu was a quick fun read.  It was not a text book, nor historically factual.  But it was fun, for what it was.  I think it does make some mistakes, but, it is a work that would lure into more study the casual reader.

NBM Publishing's A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Jack the Ripper by Rick Geary was magnificent.  His tongue in cheek style of writing is consistent with the look of his art of the day of the Ripper. The writing and art together tell an interesting version of the story of the Ripper.  It isn't the very best of the bunch, but it takes 2nd place.  This isn't an ultra factual work, but it tells the story with deft talents.

First place goes to TOP SHELF COMIX, Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell.  I've written about the series many times, and it is worthy of that attention.  Writer Alan Moore bases his story on the Stephen Knight book JTR the Final Solution,  In this book a theory that the Ripper was a doctor and others who were destroying people who had knowledge about Prince Eddy.  He'd been dingling his fiddle in the prostitutes of the Whitechapel, an area of London known for being a seedy place.  The slaughter hides not only the prince's naughty dalliances, but a secret child who would be an embarrassment to the Crown.  Moore is honest and doesn't say this is the absolute solution, he is saying, according to this theory, this is what happened.  Amazingly expressive, yet unconventional, art by Eddie Campbell adds layers and layers to the story.  Moore is rightfully well considered, and I've known many people who read this and think, that must be the truth.  Moore never claims that it is.  As a result, we have a piece of knowing fiction based upon the world of the Ripper.


In this series from DARK HORSE, Francois Debois writer and Jean-Charles Poupard artist tell a tale after the slayings in Whitechapel that is very delicious.    It is Spring, 1889 and the ripper slayings have ended in London.  But when the chief inspector of the investigation learns that there are a series of murders in Paris, he is curious and suspicious.  It turns out that these Paris slayings are very very similar to that in Whitechapel.  This works because it is familiar with the facts of the Whitechapel slayings, and introduces the reader to aspects of the case that a reader might not be familiar with.

Robert Bloch's Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper from IDW is based upon the novel and short stories of the same name.  This broad expansive work is an example of the fiction based on the exploits of the Ripper.  It enters the area of speculative fiction when it shares tales of the Ripper in other locations, and eras.  Chicago, space, time, the future, and again, Whitechapel are the setting for the slayer.  This work is amazing.  Less great than the novel, which was insanely good, it still reverberates with stunning effectiveness. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Back Issue Week Monday

This is a continuing feature here, giving a number of comics to enact a search for, and to recommend them as being worthy of the time, the effort, and money to find and purchase. 

TUROK SON OF STONE
Published by Gold Key 

I do not know who was the writer and I have no idea if I could find the name of the artist or not.  The stories are exciting, very well done, interesting, and were perfect for me, who as a kid, loved dinosaurs, was often the "Indian" to my brother the "Cowboy" in play, and loved the world of comics.  I cannot tell you that all of the comics are solid, but I have never, ever, read one I didn't enjoy.  I don't know how common it is to find these, but I know I've seen them go for insane amounts on ebay, and for as little as a buck a book at conventions.  For me 3 bucks on down would be a steal for any of them in reasonable condition.


T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents
Published by Tower Comics
Written by Len Brown
Art by Wally Wood

The series T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and other series from Tower were amazing for their day.  Each possessed amazing art, new, interesting characters, and no overarching continuity from dozens of years past that gave you shortcuts to the stories.  Each was complete in itself, being dependent not, upon the previous works, but succeeding only if the story at hand worked.  The art on various issues, with Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, Reed Crandell and others, was beautiful.  I was not aware of these as a child, nor even as a teen.  My first encounter was in the late 1980s, when I said, what the hell are these.  They have become collector pursuits, but I am not saying buy them to speculate and make money.  I think, for their day, were rare gems in the vast world of common and old super hero stories.


EVANGELINE
Published by Comico and First Comics
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Judith Hunt, Jim Balent and others

Every now and then you meet a comic that has a great concept, quality work by the talents on board, interesting characters, and a setting that is perfect.  If you find it, then you are going to have to find every issue.  Because if the concept is great, it doesn't mean the comic will be.  If the writing and art is great, it doesn't mean the comic is great.  Some characters, like Spawn are flawed in their concept, but there are issues of it that are brilliant. 

Evangeline as a concept was rather different.  The art and writing in it were amazing.  And the setting?  The 23rd Century earth, after the world was a wastleland in areas, deserts, but also, areas of remnant modernity, and areas of wild life that is new, different, and very very ancient.

The character?  Oh she was very different.  Not by today's standards, no, but the world has changed in 30 years.  It has changed a great deal.  Evangeline was vigilante nun, who was also willing to be sexy as the situation needed, and deadly, taking her orders directly from her boss, Cardinal Szn.  In the 23rd century various powers, such as major churches, groups of people with similar outlooks, and remnant powerful nation states with dangerous technology, scarce now in the changed, wild world.

The writing was my first introduction to Chuck Dixon's work.  It was brilliant.  And the initial artist Judith Hunt took great care to depict the heroine.  I loved the series, and wonder, why can't there be a tpb collecting it?  Oh well, at least this series is relatively inexpensive, and whether through Ebay or at a local comic shop or convention, you can pay as little as 2 bucks a book and collect the whole series.

I sure would like a collected edition, though.


FANTASTIC FOUR 1234
Published by Marvel Comics
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Jae Lee

Grant Morrison is my favorite comic book writer.  I liked his DC work more than most anything else by anyone else.  But I chose this series because it is relatively easy to find, inexpensive to buy, and a very fun to read.  I might not be a hard core super hero team buyer and reader.  I used to be, but my tastes have changed, evolved, matured, over time.  But I always liked the Fantastic Four.  For me their stories were different than other teams, and the reason was : as a team they were truly a family, and, their adventures were, indeed, adventures.  While they saved the world, and were heroic, they were more about learning new things, meeting new people, and traveling across the universe.

Grant Morrison often challenges conventions, and all of his work is different in ways of content, conventions of the industry, and expectations the reader might have going in.  In this clever work he goes back to the early days of the FF becoming a team, when Prince Namor, the Sub-mariner challenged Reed Richards over the romantic interest of Sue Storm.  It isn't a retelling, but the story harkens back to the days of that time, and, the art fully translates the lust and love going on.

This is an awesome comic, and one I enjoyed, first read, and many more reads thereafter.


Friday, May 19, 2017

News from me, and comics from the rest of the World

MY NEWS

As an invited guest of MSP ComiCon, I invite YOU to attend as well.  This isn't an "Entertainment" guests and comic people con.  This isn't flashy.  This is about comics.  If you like them you can find hundreds of creators, plus comics that are offered, often, at a discount.  Toys, Movies and other items are available as well, but, buy comics.  Hell, buy my comics.  Buy anything I sell.  I am broke, I am tired, and I am somewhat happy, due to life.  You see, my son has attended almost all of the shows I visit, and this year is his last as a child, as he graduates from High School two weeks or so from this weekend.  I'll be in a good mood I think, so, hit me up for good readin's.

I am selling a streamlined variety of books.  Normally I try to bring EVERYTHING.  But I have 30 plus books, and lots other things.  So, I will be bringing all of my comic book work, and my postcards featuring my poetry work on them.  The postcards are a buck each.  The comics are tpbs, so not cheap.

If you are attending and wish to buy books I might not be bringing, please contact me.  I am very happy to bring whatever you might wish to buy.





COMICS ACTUALLY EXIST IN OTHER LANGUAGES?
OTHER CULTURES HAVE COMICS?
WHAT THE...

FROM FRANCE

There is a power of line in the work of Philippe Druillet.  His work NOSFERATU was wild with power and dripped with darkness.  The story revisits the myth of vampires and combines that with a post-apocalyptic futurism.  I know many great artists, and writers, but never read anything like this before.




FROM FRANCE

Long time readers of me will know that I love Jean Giraud, aka MOEBIUS.  A great artist, and thinker, his work is beautiful at the same time as it is dangerous, moving, and subtle.  I love his art, like his writing, and the scenes from Arzach will blow your pants off.


FROM ARGENTINA

RACE OF SCORPIONS was a shock to me.  I liked Hiyao Miyazaki, and his Nausicca, and the aforementioned Moebius and Arzach.  Race of Scorpions is the marriage of both, and still unique to itself.  Try to find issues online or in your local beloved comic shop.  The work rewards the reader.


FROM CHILE and FRANCE

If you've never encountered the work of Alejandro Jodorowsky, you need to do so.  His Metabarons series, The Incal, and buttloads more are power filled imaginations of dark futures.  The works he has done that I have read move me deeply.




And lastly FROM ARGENTINA

Juan Gimenez has an imagination that is brutally enormous.  If you take a sip you will be engulfed.  And I like that.  He has power, grace, and beauty in his art, and I am a fan.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Nothing Ever Ends


It's been said that The Golden Age of Comics is Twelve, meaning that the comics you first read when you first got into reading comic books always seem to be more meaningful and more special than comic books today. For me, that era was about the time I graduated from college and finally had the disposable income to buy comic books for myself.

So maybe it is just nostalgia talking, but nevertheless I think that the mid-to-late 1980s was an incredible time in the comic book field, especially for fans of DC Comics. The company had just dismantled their long-standing multiverse in the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and every month readers could watch them rebuilding the universe, issue by issue. John Byrne was retooling the SUPERMAN titles; George Perez was breathing new life into WONDER WOMAN; Frank Miller was startling us with his dark violent take on Batman in THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS; new or re-vamped characters were being introduced into the DC Universe.

And then there was WATCHMEN.

To begin with, WATCHMEN was a completely radical rethinking of the most revered cliché of comics, the costumed crimefighter. The writer, Alan Moore, was already a rock star among comics creators for his dazzling work on the British comics MIRACLEMAN and V FOR VENDETTA and his reworking of DC Comics’ SWAMP THING. Moore wanted to totally re-think the super-hero and create a story about what would happen if super-heroes existed in the real world. 

The idea of realism in comics in itself was nothing new; Stan Lee had ushered in the Marvel Age of the 1960s by giving his heroes realistic characterizations. In the early ‘70s, Denny O’Neil brought "relevance" to comics by addressing social issues in GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW. But WATCHMEN took this trend much farther. It was part of a huge surge of "grim ‘n’ gritty" comics in the mid-to-late ‘80s that re-defined the genre.

WATCHMEN is set in a world in which Richard Nixon is still president and considering running for a fourth term in office; Vietnam has been admitted as the 51st state; most cars run on electricity and the world lies teetering on the brink of nuclear war. All this can be connected, directly or indirectly, to the superheroes who once operated in this world. Most of them have retired now, since the government ban on masked crimefighters several years past. One of them, a psychotic vigilante named Rorschach, never quit; and when a former hero turned government agent named the Comedian is found dead on the sidewalk beneath his penthouse apartment, Rorschach believes it is murder and that someone is out to kill his former associates.

As Rorschach investigates, he and the other heroes find themselves drawn into a plot to commit an act of violence that makes the 9/11 attacks look like a fraternity prank. But the purpose of the horrific crime is to prevent a worse one: nuclear Armageddon. The heroes fail to stop the plot; but as a result of their failure, the world is saved.

Dennis, the resident intellectual of our comic book club, insisted that the Ozmandias, the mastermind behind the plot, was the real hero of the series because, after all, he did save the world from nuclear destruction. (Although to be fair, a major element of his plot brought the world up to the brink). The central theme of the comic, Dennis said, was an inversion of the standard comic book plot. In comics, any problem can be solved by beating the snot out of a bad guy. WATCHMEN points out that the most serious problems in the world can’t be solved that way; and so it falls to the "bad guy" of the story to solve the problem of nuclear war.

I think, though, that Dennis was also being a bit simplistic in his analysis of the story. There is another moral in Watchmen that I think he missed. It comes near the end. After the climactic confrontation, there is a conversation between Ozymandias and Dr. Manhattan, a super-hero with near omnipotent power who is frequently used in the story to symbolize God. Ozzy asks Manhattan if he did the right thing, if it all worked out in the end. 

Dr. Manhattan replies, "In the end?  Nothing ends, Adrian.  Nothing ever ends."

He then teleports out of the room; and we see Ozymandias looking puzzled and concerned. What the heck did he mean by that?

When Zach Snyder came out with his 2009 movie adaptation of WATCHMEN, I was interested to see if he retained that line. Snyder's version was remarkably close to the original comic, not only taking dialogue directly from the book, but often striving to re-create the comic panel by panel. He did use the line “Nothing ever ends,” but gave it to another character, the Silk Spectre, who quotes it to Ozzy as a something Manhattan liked to say. The way she delivers it, she makes the line sound hopeful and life-affirming; but that's not how Ozymandias took it in the graphic novel.

I think I know what Dr. Manhattan meant. In that scene, Ozymandias was really asking if the Ends Justify the Means. Here Ozymandias achieves achieves World Peace and the Cessation of the Arms Race … at the cost of half the population of New York City. Dr. Manhattan does not answer directly, but his remark gives us a clue. This is the moral I took from Watchmen:

The Means that we use to accomplish our Good and Noble Ends have consequences and repercussions that far outlast those Good and Noble Ends.

Call it the Law of Unintended Consequences. Or, alluding to another graphic novel, you can remember the Road to Perdition and consider how it is paved with Good Intentions.

WATCHMEN ends on an ambiguous note. A brighter day has dawned. The United States and the Soviet Union have joined together and a new era of optimism and peace is unfolding. But this peace is a fragile one; a chance action by a simpleton in the final panel may undo it all. And that situation, with the guy’s hand hovering over the diary that could reveal the whole plot, was indirectly the result of the murder which began the story in the first place.

There the story stops. It’s deliberately open-ended.

Because nothing ever ends.

Paul Cornell talks about his Saucer State


Paul Cornell is a writer who is prolific, well considered by critics, and fans of Dr. Who consider him one of the best for novelizations of Dr. Who.

He has written a series, Saucer Country which had some attention from critics for quality and developed a small but core audience.  And then DC/Vertigo canceled it.

With the world fascinated by UFOs and Aliens, I couldn't understand why it got canceled.  And then IDW, who has a broad audience, offered a new series called SAUCER STATE.

Here I chat with Paul about his work and what to expect from it.  His answers are in Alien green.

Saucer Country struck a tone with a group of readers, but was ultimately canceled before running its hoped for length.  Does Saucer State attempt to do anything differently?

We know we're heading for the finishing line, after the second 6-issue mini, so we're being crisper and a bit more urgent, but I think that quality was always there.  There's a dirty great cliffhanger at the end of #1 which turns everything on its head and defines the rest of the series.  It changes everything.

 


American culture has grown rather skeptical of the Government's attitude towards UFOs.  Is that because they see the truth with their own eyes, or is this, like a conspiracy theory, fed by other factors such as generalized distrust, fear, and even hope for something more exciting?

Well, I'm partial to a particular theory about this, which the plot of Saucer State refers to, so I'm not going to give away spoilers!  

What is your stance on the existence of such things as UFOs and Aliens?

I try to keep a Fortean, not-believer, not-sceptic, attitude about this stuff in the real world.  It's interesting, a small part of it is real, but I don't think that reality has much, if anything, to do with aliens.  



Currently, it could be argued that UFO's and Aliens are becoming more popular in google searches, in television shows, in actual discussions.  How do you create a story that harvests that interest without portraying that subject using tropes and cliche?

Well, Saucer State is about UFOs *as* a mythology, so we take on the fact that these are tropes and then investigate the nature of those tropes and the reasons for them.  The Greys have actually gone away a bit as modern monsters.  Though, not, obviously, for the people still being abducted by them.  


As you, the person, not the entertainer/writer, Was Roswell an alien crash?  Why do you think so?

No, it wasn't.  It was the crash of something, probably from White Sands.  The violence to locals that followed was shameful, but the way the USAF used the event to write some UFO mythology of their own was kind of inspired.  






Will doing the series for IDW allow more freedom than at DC/Vertigo?  Why or why not?

Exactly the same, honestly.  


What do you predict will happen if tomorrow President Trump says, the US is announcing that we've made contact with aliens, and have now a working agreement with them to learn more about their world?

I think the odds against that happening are very, very, long.  


Do you have plans for works about other cryptids, aliens or other not normal things?

Not as we speak.  I kind of want to punt away from this topic once I've said all I have to say in this series.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Just a matter of time




"Whether if soul did not exist time would exist or not, is a question that may fairly be asked; for if there cannot be someone to count there cannot be anything that can be counted, so that evidently there cannot be number; for number is either what has been, or what can be, counted." Aristotle

Time is an enemy of human life.  The more it passes the older we get.  Since life on earth comes with a final end point, we measure time, with extravagant concern, and we crawl through life furtively, as if, we might escape its fate.

But does time really exist?  Isn't it a concept that allows our minds to understand why we age?  So, is there a past that can be reached by the present?  How could that be?  I've seen a great many comics about time travel.  I understand the point of them all, but, Doctor Who and all of these stories aside, I am not certain anything could be done to visit past ages.

And why the hell would anyone want to?  I am 53 years old, I have survived two blown appendixes, yes two, staph infection of my heart WHILE I was getting chemo for CANCER.  I had thyroid disease and treatment.  And on 4 occasions doctors told me You should be dead.  If I went back in time, I guarantee you, something would happen to me, and I'd die.  They don't have doctors that could save me, they don't have space heaters, they don't have internet, they don't have comic books.  So I don't want to go.  But all of the characters in the shown images did want to, and their stories are found here.

TIME BEAVERS was a hoot.  Perhaps naive in its outlook, it is an adventure that goes from 17th century France to the Lincoln Presidency, Hitler's Germany, finally to the Great Dam of Time.  The Time Beavers are warriors, of a sort who protect the time stream, and the various threads of potential crisis.  The graphic novel is fun, but better illustrated than written.  The concept is silly, but with a name like Time Beavers were you expecting anything else? 


The story revolves around a time traveller named Ace who often has to risk life and limb to save the timestream.  A 23rd Century man, Ace is a world traveler, and a time traveling world traveler.  From Ancient times to the future he tries to make the timestream flow correctly.Aztec Ace used a pseudonym when in different eras, occasionally T.A. Zek.  His time in Ancient Egypt and Maya and Aztec Mexico showed his interest in things cosmic.  And he encounter an ugly bastich called Nine Crocodile, who wished to unravel the present and past, to leave only limbo, his personal realm.  The stories are fun, and, if you like metafiction, they are rewarding for the way the writer inserts the lead character into scenes of movies from the eras he travels to.


Rip Hunter was a DC comics 1960s weird science character.  He was not a super hero, rather  an ordinary man who uses his invention, the Time Sphere to visit other times. His friend Jeff, girlfriend Bonnie, and her brother Corky, there is a team of adventurerers.  This character and series was not boring, but it wasn't thoughtful.  It is the kind of comic you can read in the restroom and forget 10 minutes later what it was that you read.  Still, it has its charm.


Alan Moore was known to be a super writer following Swamp Thing.  But these are a variety of stories, with some level of quality from his (and others) 2000AD work.  The most interesting is the character Dr. Dibworthy.  The stories follow the time trips taken and the adventures that doing that leads to.  Some of the time travel happens only in the mind, but the rest are quite physical and some are quite funny.  (Actually, I think they are reprints from 2000AD, but can't remember, and don't have the comics nearby to check.)


The Chronos Files: Time Trial follows the adventure through time by a doctor of great time travelers, who had, incidentally, saved time.  She has some innate abilities regarding passing through time, and has the sensibilities of girl from 1931, but, her understanding that time is a path, not a stationary obstacle makes her more "worldly".  The stories are great, and deserve an audience.


The Time Breakers and The Black Lamb were the two best series that DC Imprint Helix put out.  Time Breakers features a team of unusual people who are dedicated to tie up the loose ends of time travel, extinguish paradoxes found in the stream, and seek a long term solution to the problem, the end of time itself.  I like Rachel Pollack's writing, and Chris Weston is so bloody good I can't even stand that he doesn't have a dozen more series out.



Although the character Chronos was originally a villain, this series is not about that version of the character.  This Chronos, with the civilian name of Walker Gabriel, was revealed to be the son of a temporal theorist who had worked with the original Chronos.  The father also created Chronopolis, the city beyond time. This series takes a character who had very little nobility in him, to negating time lines that were going to cause a horrible tragedy with his acts.  In the end his decisions even affect his existence in time.  A thoughtful series, worth a read.


I liked Timespirits.  I didn't love it, but it was an entertaining ride about an elder with knowledge of more than the present world, and a youth from his era.  The elder travels about, and finds in the youth a great talent for being a time spirit.  They go about their adventures visiting eras and places, and not necessarily leaving them unchanged.  The art is beautiful, and the story rather fun.

Tempus edax rerum
Time, the devourer of all things
Ovid