Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ON REVIEWING and other thoughts


I often receive comments and complaints that I don't write nasty/negative reviews.  The suggestion is, I am being less than honest because not everything we read is great.  The truth is that I read many comics, books and various other works.  As such, I could write negative reviews, and do so with a clear conscience, but, I find that to be wrought with landmines.  I could be pooping on a work I didn't understand.  I could be pooping on a work that doesn't connect to my own sense of taste.  I could be pooping on a work that is the creative talent's heart and soul work.  None of these are small things.

I don't like a great many things.  IF I read them, my instinct is to say, not my thing.  If I read something I had interest in reading, and others are cheering it, or critics praising it, and I dislike it, I am probably missing what makes it special.  I say this having a son who is 18 and who has a variety of pop culture areas that are different than my own.  Many times he'll send a pic from a meme and wonder why I am not laughing.  I am not saying it isn't funny, just that, it isn't funny to me.  I recognize that the sense of humor is a distinct thing.  I am not moved by a lot of comedians.  But other people are.  So, my point is, spending time to say not my thing, is somewhat pointless, and giving the works a poor review due to that, shows my weakness, not my taste or refinements or mind.  Lastly, I feel that giving shit grades to works that I don't like isn't necessarily wrong, but if a person puts forth an honest effort, and I can see it is so, I prefer not to say anything.

I am not great and I am not wise.  My intellect was groomed and refined after years and years of school, graduate level university studies, and being a person who loves to learn new facts.  I am also a person who has been surrounded by intelligent people.  If they do not rub off on me some aspect of their intellect, it isn't due to anything they do or not, it is my opportunity to grab hold of.  Being curious and being patient, I think, are the two most important aspects of learning.  And that is the reason too, that I prefer not to shat upon another person's work.  We all have something to learn in this existence.  Why shat upon another person's works, when you can uphold those works that are great.  I am not constructed of steel and wires.  I am flesh and blood.  So I am aware of the hurt that unfair or unnecessarily negative reviews can bring.  I choose instead to aim people at the best works I come across.


I love art.  Comics are different than prose because they utilize images to advance the story from pictures in your head, to pictures on the page.  I am a lover of art museums, collections of great artist's works, and I love many artists who I've met.  They are not the same as me, and we have different talents we were born with, and different skills that we've honed.

I love using my imagination.  Comic books allow the reader to fly, to visit other dimensions, to be beautiful or strong, or many other such things that we do not have the opportunity to be or do in real life.  Comic books are a positive way to escape.

I love writing, but, more so, I love the concept that two creative people can join forces and the end result is an entertaining work that others can enjoy.  Collaborations can be a magnificent thing.  My best work has been with others, not my self alone.  So I can appreciation the rush out of two minds (or more) creating a work.

(I have had only one serious artist and writer conflict.  It wouldn't be honest to say it was about liking the other, we both were of a different life outlook, but at no time did I find myself hating the other.  It wasn't about talent.  The artist is/was extremely talented.  His problem was the more he tried, the less he could work.  His self esteem was rather low for other reasons, and evoking his talent to create  was nearly impossible.  At the same time I waited for his work, I'd put out 4 books with others.  I am prolific and he was so self critical he felt I was piling on.  I am not saying this to punish him or hurt him.  His talent is immense. )


Since my return to writing on a regular basis about comics I opened up my schedule to promote, share, help others in the comic book industry.  And within moments I had received a few requests to "interview" people.  Only, they didn't have an interest in doing an interview, they wanted me to construct an interview-like format to promote their project.  I am so ridiculously uninterested by kickstarter projects, if I were to do anything, I'd write a diatribe about the people who hound you to promote their works.  They follow on Twitter or friend request you on Facebook, only so that I might give them money, attention, or direct support for their project.  This is rather insulting.

I hate it.

5 COMIC BOOKS that I have successfully shared with non comic book readers

I have sent comics across the world, as both a comic book evangelist and as a comic book philanthropist.   I am not self promoting.  I've sent many dozens of packages to troops over seas.  I've made certain to send comics to people who are in the hospital.  I know certain people don't like comics, so I send them prose or poetry books.  But for those who do like them, I intend to share.

They are:

Warren Ellis
Paul Gulacy

Great action/espionage story regarding the assassination of a US President and the chase of the assassin thereafter.

Chuck Dixon
Jorge Zaffino

The earth has experienced a catastrophic climate shift and everyone is searching for warmth, food, and safety.

Timothy Truman

The story of the man who would become Hawkman, and how he came upon views of the world that, despite the militaristic people he is from, he has morals, gentleness, and kindness.

Bill Mantlo
Michael Golden 

Barring the release of a collection of the stories of the Micronauts, these comprise a very sweet entrance to their adventures, battles and introduction to our planet Earth.

Doug Wildey
Just like the original television show, Jonny Quest Classics were produced by the original creator of the series, and these are wonderful for the people who think comics are just for stupid kids.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Gods or Heroes? What are we entertained by?

Humans for millennia uncounted told stories of action, heroism, love, death, fear, hope and other emotions and labels.  They often included the gods of their faith interacting with humans and blessing or cursing them.

We still do this.  Whatever our faith, or lack of, humans still tell stories and utilize the same myth making stories, with different costumes, different motives, and found in different places.    Also, most people don't have a clue where their myth traditions come from.

Some stories are the origins, the death of, or the affairs of humans, who are rather different.  Some of the heroes, such as Miracleman are found sitting on the top of Mount Olympus, pondering the power, nearly endless he has, and what he might next do.  Or take the stories of Son of Vulcan, who, despite some trappings of super heroics, is actually the child of a God.  He has no different goals than most children of epic ancient gods.

Adam Warlock has been considered by numerous commentaries to be the Marvel Universe interpretation of Jesus Christ.  Silver Surfer is John the Baptist to his rapidly approaching God Galactus.

Heracles or as we call him now Hercules, is a Greek demi God.  His tales still linger.  He is so popular his adventures have been written and drawn from numerous different publishers.  Often in the same era, perhaps found on the same comic store shelf.

Thor is the template of the God Thor from the Norse myths in the flesh of a human.  He is the son of Odin, and has mythic and heroic adventures, saving mankind, thanks Thor, so many times.  The character Thor has an odd disadvantage, he speaks in old English yet, is Norse.

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” 


Sandman and his kin the Endless are not Gods, but are truly god like.  They represent the common experiences throughout the family of mankind.  They have existed forever, they have immense power, but are holders of god like power, not gods themselves.  They are Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium.

 “We of the Endless are the servants of the living — We are NOT their masters. WE exist because they know, deep in their hearts, that we exist.”

Having said all that, Jack Kirby created two pantheons of gods, not connected, directly, with analogues in human myth.  And, he created the enemy of all good, Darkseid.  Upon the planets New Genesis and Apokolips, are the New Gods.  Darkseid rules Apokolips with an iron fist.  The residents of Apokolips believe in fear, in pain, and the eventual death they "deserve"  Upon New Genesis Highfather uses love, trust, and hope to allow his people beauty and joy.  To prevent future wars, Darkseid allowed HighFather to raise his first born, Orion on New Genesis.  Upon Apokolips Darkseid raises HighFather's son, Mister Miracle.

The Eternals were created by Jack Kirby at the height of the first wave of ancient astronauts and alien visitation hysteria.  His story finds that the aliens have not created gods but super humans who have reached the final and highest stage of human evolution.  They are called to protect mankind from the fallen, the failed evolutionaries, The Deviants.  Kirby did this with a great deal of energy.  His work was filled with brilliance and concepts that often were deeper than the reader might have noticed. 

The First similarly showed the powerful beings, as a family of gods, who help mankind, but usually screw, argue, envy and more the other gods.  If it fails as a straight forward super hero story, it isn't because it is bad, but the expectations of their being heroes is here not evident.  That is, the Greek gods bickered and had sex, fought, and plotted against each other.  The First is no different.  While it isn't a direct translation, it is clever and often ignored for the things in it that are true to form.