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Wait, What? Ep. 105: Ringing Endorsements

Jeff Lester

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads: Worth the Trip

Safe and dry on the left coast, we are willing and able to provide you with two-plus hours of distraction.  At no point in the following podcast do we mention the extensive rat population of New York clawing their way to higher ground even if it means going through dark, electricity free apartments and the helpless population contained therein to do so.  Not once!

So…join us after the jump and help us think happy thoughts, won’t you?

Show notes?  Why yes, we do have show notes, now that you mention it…

1:01-4:46: Greetings!  Welcome to the hundred and fifth episode of the world’s worst conspiracy. A brief bit of culinary discussion before we gear up to our four color topics of discussion.  Although this is the our first-ever “book club” podcast where we sit down and finally discuss in full Sean Howe’s remarkable Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, we also thought we should give you some reviews and news analysis, too.
4:46-31:19:  First up:  the gorgeousness of Brandon Graham’s Multiple Warheads.  Graeme and Jeff both read it, both dug it, and both dig into it for your entertainment, edification and (probably) exasperation.  There’s also a bit of discussion about the latest issue of Prophet for comparison/contrast.
31:19-31:40:  Intermission Uno.
31:40-1:07:04:  More comics! We’re a mite divided on Batman, Inc. #4 and Flash #13. Also, under Graeme’s microscope:  Superman #13. Talon #1, Ghost #1, Captain America #19, The Hive by Charles Burns, and, in passing, Superman: Earth One, Vol. 2.
1:07:04-1:07:26: Intermission dos!
1:07:26-1:08:23: Incidentally, though this episode is debuting just before Halloween, we didn’t record this in costume or anything…though Graeme does start us off with a very good HAL imitation.  Too bad they haven’t invented the “Sexy HAL 9000 costume” for Halloween…yet.
1:08:23-1:56:55:  Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.  Graeme and Jeff praise it; we kvetch about it; we both whole-heartedly recommend it and have a variety of caveats to issue.  It’s the first episode of the Wait, What? Book Club and we invite you to give the book a read and us a listen.
1:56:55-2:02:23:  Tech corner:  Curious about what model of Kindle Graeme is using?  Jeff is!
2:02:23-end:  Closing comments: In case you wanted a section of the podcast that’s all about what to get Jeff for his birthday, listen to this section first!
And…there you have it.  Quality talk about (some quality comics and comics-related nonfiction).  This week we’re skipping recording so if you fell behind and want to catch up, you’ve got two weeks to do so.
And if you want to listen to this podcast I just finished notating the heck out of…well, you have probably seen it staring at you from the corner of the block of Haddonfield, iTunes Illinois.
But if not, I believe you will find out it lying just below the Doyle house window below…waiting for you now:
May everyone everywhere stay dry, healthy, and safe, and have a fine ol’ All Hallow’s and All Saint’s!

18 Responses to “ Wait, What? Ep. 105: Ringing Endorsements ”

  1. Nice podcast as usual!

    Up front, Happy Birthday to Jazzy Jeff Lester. Boy, 28 really sneaks up on guy, amirite?

    Graham has posted links on his own twitter to archived versions of his pornier material. As I said in the arriving thread I hesitate to post them on SC but can if people would like to see it. I was really wondering how he would do Warheads given the .1 version and was thrilled with this take. All the things I love about his work are present here. Backgrounds matter. Fluid lines (did he ever even pick up the pen?). Really cool color choices. Story-wise, all the things that wouldn’t make it to a more “serious” comic are featured here (what color the water is REALLY matters).

    As to the SAGA parallels I picked it up but not necessarily as directly. If anything, you could say Graham goes much deeper and more alien on Earth in Dead Russia whereas Vaughn’s take is basically very “anglocentric” even in the depths of space – if that’s even a valid way of looking at it. I really like both but I don’t think you can compare them on that level, at least.

    I like that Brandon’s work is sex positive. As Graeme pointed out there are a lot of ways that sex and sex appeal are exploited in comics work but I find, generally, that what I’ve seen from Graham’s comix comes from a place where people are into each other and into the fun of sex. The people in his comix are into pleasing each other more than they are in it for themselves. That’s an important distinction and makes for an easier and altogether more interesting read. People forget that King City was actually fairly light on the actual on page fornication as well.

    Superman 13 – I kept waiting for the talk to turn toward the strip mining of All Star Superman and what your take on that was but nary a glance?

    I’m reading Howe’s book at present and have to say I’ve found it enjoyable so far. A little troubled to hear that ranks start to close after Shooter’s departure but I suspected that would be the case as per your thoughts on most of those people still working or looking for work.

    Anyhow, fantastic companionship on a long boring drive. I know your allegiance is to waffles but a donut sponsorship may be in the offing.

  2. Happiest of Birthdays Mr. Lester!

  3. I already lowered the discourse around here by linking to the original MW a couple years back, so you may as well just keep us current, Smitty.

  4. Happy Birthday Jeff

    I’ve been trying to wait a month for prices to drop on comixology, its been hard with certain books, particularly Multiple Warheads but now that the boys are discussing it on Wait, What Im going to cave.
    Im also 2 behind on Prophet so I’ll probably just get them too.

    Which means I have to wait till I listen to this episode :O
    As much as I would have liked to have read Sean Howe’s book beforehand Im not going to be able to put off listening to you guys for that long.

    I’ll be back later with real comments :P

  5. Happy early birthday, Jeff. We should hang out in person more often.

  6. Happy birthday, Mr. Lester!

    My first thought on putting down MULTIPLE WARHEADS was that it felt like SAGA crossed with SCOTT PILGRIM. Did anyone else get that vibe?

    I actually enjoyed SUPERMAN #13 quite a bit. Mostly because, as Graeme says, it’s leaps and bounds better than anything that’s been in the books so far.

    And yeah, I dug the hell out of Sean Howe’s book, but I too noticed that it got a little…breezy post-Shooter era? You gentlemen are right, it feels like about that point he either loses interest or just starts towing the company line. But it’s still a hell of a read.

    Personally, I’d like to see a thorough, well-researched and sourced book on the Joe Quesada EIC years. I know it’s probably still too fresh to get a truly impartial look, but I think an in-depth study would be fascinating. Even (especially?) as an oral history.

  7. Happy B’day Jeff!

    I’ve only listened to half the podcast so far – I plan to read Howe’s book at some point in the future, but haven’t yet.
    What say you all – will I still be able to follow what’s being said n podcast, or is reading of the book required?

    I thought Graeme missed one thing with his criticisms of Superman #13 – what was the catalyst for Clark Kent quitting? Was it that he saw Daily Planets stories and hated them, Perry asked him to cover fashion week or Edge told him to tap phone lines? No. None of those – going by #13, he quit mere seconds before being fired for being a bad employee/co-worker.

    From what we see in the issue, Clark hasn’t shown up to work for five days (Superman was lifting weights), nor has he filed any stories in that time.
    When Clark does show up at the Daily Planet – dressed in jeans and a hoodie which is pointed out to be breaking the office dress code – Perry, his boss, asked Clark why hadn’t been doing his job. Clark whinges about the job he was assigned (covering Superman) being unimportant(covering Superman is unimportant?) and then lectures Perry about the responsibilities of the press.
    Clark also lashes out at Lois, after she calls him on his bullshit to Perry. Clark then insults her work, and secretly reads her PRIVATE messages to her boyfriend – these messages make Clark sad so he runs out, and despite the fact he was a dick to them, Lois and Perry are shown feeling concern for Clark as they wonder what had made him sad (more empathy for another person than Superman is seen to express this issue).

    Following that, Perry’s boss, the paper’s owner Morgan Edge, comes over to Clark’s desk, and again accuses Clark of not doing his job – which apparently Clark hasn’t been doing even when he’s in the office. Edge has been monitoring Clark’s computer so knows he’s been researching housing code violations instead of the stories his boss wanted him to cover (Superman) – at which point Clark gives a speech and quits… right after Edge had said ‘If you can’t do your job, I’ll hire someone else’.
    (I assume Lobdell doesn’t quite understand working in an office, and that’s why there’s the weird bit about Edge monitoring employees computers all the time and seemingly knowing every key stroke – doesn’t make sense in the book as explained, but in the real world? The senior bosses may check your computer if you don’t show up for five days).

    So whilst there is a big Aaron Sorkin/Cameron Crowe speech about the problems with media, that speech is of no relevance to what has been shown in the comic.
    Clark’s speech is about the media selling out and putting entertainment before actual news, that the media has failed to stand up for the truth – but, at no point was he asked to cover entertainment rather than news, or to bury the truth, or to give his employers opinions over the facts, and at no point are we shown anything wrong with the Daily Planet’s stories or ethics – Clark complains about a random episode of Lois’ show, but that’s it. He was asked to cover Superman*, and Superman not being seen for five days is bigger news than housing code violations. No wonder the only person to follow Clark’s walkout was the ditzy fashion reporter – everyone else was probably glad to see the back of that jerk!
    Still, and this is really damning of the Nu52′s Superman book – this is probably the best issue of it this year (I thought #2 was better, the invisible beast battle was aces, although I’ve not read it since Jurgens/Giffen showed they had no direction).

    *How could someone so obsessed with the truth in the first place agree to cover the stories they themselves are involved in? Where’s the truth and objectivity in that? It’s as bad as in Superman: Earth One where Clark/Superman fakes an interview with Superman to get a job/make sure he got to set the agenda – that’s what dictators do! (Go read the faux-interview text piece at the back of Superman: Earth One – it’s creepy as hell!)

  8. Happy birthday Jeff, and sorry scheduling didn’t work out for me to be on the show. I still enjoyed hearing you both discussing Howe’s book.

    Jim Shooter’s arc in Marvel is very much the “live long enough to see yourself become the villain” part of Harvey Dent’s speech in THE DARK KNIGHT. He has the hero Marvel needed during the chaos that was the 70′s. I consider the early Shooter period a second golden age for Marvel. Books were on time, both the newsstand and the emerging direct market were serviced well. You had creative successes in Claremont’s X-Men (which started before but reached its greatest heights at this time), Frank Miller’s Daredeveil, Michelinie/Layton’s Iron Man, John Byrne’s Fantastic Four, and Simonson’s Thor. Epic started, a win for creator rights. Licensed properties gained a new vitality with G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Rom. All these things should be celebrated.

    But Howe’s book quotes many people in the Marvel offices who told of Shooter getting stricter and stricter with content. The floodgates seemed to open with Secret Wars II and then the nadir came when he insisted that one month every book must have a “can’t/must” moment. It’s a lesson in a topic I’m fascinated by: how much control does creativity need? We’ve seen examples of creatives who had no control in both 70′s Marvel and the early Image years before they brought Larry Marder in. Things fizzle out or explode in people’s faces. Someone needs to crack the whip. When creativity and responsibility are balanced the results please everyone. But the pendulum can swing the other way and authority feels it must justify its position, or feels that past success is permission to be more authoritative. Shooter’s arc was part of a greater arc that happened at Marvel, starting when Roy Thomas took over. It’s the Apollonian and Dionysian concept, if I may be pretentious.

  9. I would throw a couple bucks at an album of Graeme Noodling in Garage Band.

    The theme tune & successive songs are great.

  10. Just reached the end of the podcast. Happy birthday, Jeff!

  11. Happiest of birthdays, Mr. Jeff Lester!

    (Who is, as is also true of Batman and Superman, perpetually 29.)

  12. Happy birthday Jeff! If I could, I’d load up a frozen chocolate waffle with some candles.

    Howe’s book is everything you two said it is. The last section was disappointing after the first parts were so good, but I enjoyed reading it. The Kirby stuff was just heartbreaking, though. I would love to read a similar book about DC. If anything, it would be even more depressing.

  13. Derp! I listened to the last 20 minutes of the podcast this morning, so I just heard the birthday announcement. Happy Birthday Jeff!

    I really dug Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, my feelings were pretty similar to yours, although I thought the quality dropped off a bit later in the book than you did. I thought Howe did a great job of following the creative talent (that he wanted to follow) up until the arrival of Joe Quesada And Jimmy Palmiotti. Once they enter the picture, it seems like he either runs out of people he want’s to talk to or people who want to talk with him. I actually thought that the anecdote about Gerber “moving” Howard the Duck from Marvel to Image during the crossover event was one of my favorites.

    It was a great read. What’s next on the Wait, What Book Club list?

    Also, I’m completely on board with whatever Brandon Graham is working on these days. I’m gladly reading about Extreme Studios characters. Never would have guessed that.

  14. I think it’s worth pointing out that The Infernal Man-Thing, Gerber’s last, had digital codes in the back of each issue. I didn’t buy it, but surely someone did, and can make Jeff’s first days of a new age a little more pleasant by sending it in.
    I’ve sent Jeff codes for Wolverine And The X-Men, Incredible Hulk, Uncanny Avengers, and some scattered issues, so if you’ve got others, send them his way, and let’s see if we can get Jeff’s POV on Marvel’s output through our unsolicited download codes!

    I’ve not read Howe’s book, I’m waiting to get it for Christmas so I can have six Christmases in a row (then a Gil Kane Superman for Boxing Day!), but my suggestion for a close look at the artist’s who followed the Image exit would be the Life Of Ben Riley blog, which gives insight to the forces influencing Marvel at the time, and what the creatives went through chasing marketing’s dreams.

  15. Have not yet read Marvel The Untold Story but I fully intend to. I’ve sort of been waiting on buying any physical books because I’ve been toying with getting a 7″ tablet and doing my reading there. It doesn’t help that every time a new one comes out that sounds like the one I want to buy, one of the competitors announces their new, improved better than anything tablet that’s coming soon, so I actually found the discussion of Graeme’s Amazon Fire HD to be enlightening and I may go with that. Basically I’m looking for something that will be the most pleasurable e-reader (easy-on-the-eyes least amount of glare, while also being able to download comics and movies on it. Suggestions, anyone?)
    I liked Multiple Warheads, and the earlier porn version (I forget who posted the link, but enjoyed it, too, thanks), perhaps more than Prophet, but it’s one of those things where I enjoyed elements of it (including the puns, and I fall into the Jeff Lester camp of being a usual pun-hater), more than liking the whole of it and really getting into it. I think it was more accessible than Prophet, perhaps because it’s “warmer”. Prophet’s another thing I appreciate elements of, but haven’t really gotten into. And I do really dig Saga (while not being a particular fan of Brian K. Vaughn: again I appreciate elements of his other work and see why people like it – quality high concept stuff to be sure – without finding it particularly compelling, Pride of Baghdad being an exception). Still, Multiple Warheads had enough value for money that I’ll give a 2nd issue a try.
    Hope you had a Happy Birthday, Jeff, and a Happy Halloween, Graeme. I left some digital codes on your Savage Critic e-mail, Jeff, but sadly no Infernal Man-Thing. I trade-waited it and am still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mails. Oh well, Steve Gerber rising from the grave to pen a final Man-Thing story is a better Halloween present than I could have hoped for, so I guess I can be patient in its arriving late.

  16. Ben Lipman makes some excellent points and I pretty much agree with them (having worked on a daily newspaper, a monthly print magazine, and a weekly print magazine). But I’d like to expand on one other thing that made this feel so wrong to me: passion v. empathy.

    In many ways, Superman _cannot_ be passionate, in the sense of sudden emotions creating sudden action. This goes back to how his father, in (AFAIK) all canonical versions of his childhood, told Clark he must be more careful than any of us can imagine being. You or I can slam a door in anger or frustration; if Superman does it, it breaks the world, it breaks the character. We even see this — stolen shamelessly from Larry Niven — in the awful, awful Earth One Part Two Electric Boogalo, though of course this is about, you know… ess… eee… exx.

    When does Superman work? I think we all agree that the “I care about everyone” of All-Star Superman nails it. You can push the imagery of it, making Superman the one who takes on all our sins and suffers for it — wait, bad flashback to Singer’s movie — okay, we’re back — but that’s too much. Superman is kind. Superman is strong enough to care. Superman really wants to do the right thing.

    Now, I’m sure in some peoples’ minds, ranting about a vague and incoherent vision of journalism is the right thing. God knows I’ve done it (had to try to teach business school students about journalism and… grrrr). (And may I just say here how “The Newsroom” is perhaps the most irritating and possibly societally damaging thing I’ve seen on TV in the last few years?) But anyway, this is a Superman who cares nothing for the people he interacts with, who runs away rather than trying to help save them, who uses his powers for petty and self-centered purposes, and who does not care about what’s best for others as he acts out of a momentary passion. This is morally equivalent of a Superman who tosses a bus of schoolchildren over a building because he wanted to sit where the bus was parked. This is Earth 3 Superman, who just hasn’t hit on the personal profit motive yet.

  17. @dan t.
    Any chance you have a blog post somewhere on your thoughts on The Newsroom? Id be interested in giving it a read

  18. @Dave_Clarke (and his 5): Ha, no, I have not published a newsletter on that. I did, however, get into a… discussion… on the twitsphere about it. The Television Without Pity recapper for that show backed me up.

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