diflucan 2 doses

Abhay Did Capsule Reviews in April 2010

I think the last time I tried to do capsule reviews was in 2008; honestly, I don’t think I’m too good at them.  But let me type anyways, let me stretch the old “whine about comics, boo-hoo, comics make me :( emoticon” muscles, lest they atrophy. Oh, what a tragedy that would be.  If you’ll indulge me.

NOT SIMPLE by Natsume Ono:  This was the book of the moment briefly in January; it’s sort of like Pokemon, but with gay longing instead of adorable monsters.
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What is the Pokemon formula, the shonen formula?  A (1) young character goes on a (2) quest that (3) takes him from places to place, a quest to (4) be the very best at something, in order to (5) fulfill a dream that he’s had (6) since childhood; his (7) optimism and (8) kind nature (9) shock but (10) ultimately attract others to aid him in his quest.  And that’s the story of NOT SIMPLE– it a 10 out of 10.  The only difference with NOT SIMPLE is that tragedy upon tragedy is inflicted on the main character, in place of fun, shonen hijinks.  I mean– it’s a great formula; I like the formula; but not so much in a serious adult drama.  FROST/NIXON/LIGHTSABERS?  I would watch that; opening night.  Just not so much if it were pretending to be a serious adult drama.
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(Sure– maybe you could make a reasonable counter-argument that I’m advancing a false and spurious notion that “art” has to, like, defy the industry of its creation in order to be “art.”  Maybe.  Maybe you should stop undressing me with your eyes).
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The story is told sometimes from the viewpoint of a gay Japanese author watching the main character’s tragedy from afar, maybe in love with the main character but too depressed to act on his feelings.  With that character, I thought Ono was on to something– that character felt real and his depression seemed interesting.  I wanted to read a comic about that character, but I wanted to see the gay Japanese guy interacting with another character in his weight class, instead of Luffy from One Piece. I just couldn’t be persuaded to believe in the main character. Was the juxtaposition of the two a sort of genre commentary?  I suppose that’s one way we can read it, that Ono was suggesting the manga formula is a lie beacuse real life is “not simple”…?  I don’t know– do you think that’s interesting, comics about comics?  Me, not so often.
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Ono can put together an effective scene, but I didn’t end NOT SIMPLE feeling like she was making an observation about the world or people in it.  It felt instead like she’d built a contraption of misery, and was simply revealing the contraption.  Her drawings are striking, very immediate– I love how her characters consume the page.  But it all felt mechanical; Rube Goldberg but with child molestation, instead of dominos (i.e. worst OK GO video ever).
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BLACK BLIZZARD by Yoshihiro Tatsumi: This is basically an EC crime comic, but at 128 manga pages instead of being an 8-page EC comic.  I can see how it’d be of interest to, like, comic critics, people smarter than me:  if you’re intersted in how manga’s format allows it to investigate the psychology of a moment, I suppose seeing dull, cliched material like this stretched out to an unnecessary length would be of academic interest.  If you’re interested in Tatsumi– this isn’t really like the good Tatsumi but I suppose it’s… well, more…?  And I suppose there’s always something interesting about comics that have been quickly made– some of the drawings are funny, I think on purpose.
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I should probably be more into it, but I’m lazy– I’d rather have read the 8-page Johnny Craig version and just gotten on with my night.  Internet porn’s not going to surf itself.  A great cartoonist (at least later in his career), improvising a crime comic as he goes…?  I can see how that would be of interest. But if that’s what you’re looking for, I think Gilbert Hernandez’s book from January THE TROUBLEMAKERS already nailed that vibe perfect-like.  Yeah, it’s unfair to compare a young Tatsumi with a veteran Gilbert Hernandez.  But everything I felt Hernandez did right with THE TROUBLEMAKERS, I didn’t feel with Tatsumi.  With THE TROUBLMAKERS, I never felt that either Hernandez or I knew what was going to happen next– anything could and does, in that book– but whatever happened was going to be dark, cryptic, a little slimy.  Fun times; swell book.  I never felt that anything could happen with BLACK BLIZZARD– and not much really does.  There are effective stretches of storytelling; the book sustains a nightmare “someone’s chasing us” vibe effectively at least until it jams a slab of exposition down your throat at the end; certainly, the book design is swell.  But it just stayed very earthbound.
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Plus, I know it’s uncool to say; I’m an uncool guy; I’m sorry, but:  it kinda really doesn’t make any sense at all something this minor’s been translated into English, and L’AUTOROUTE DU SOLEIL hasn’t been.  I know, I know– uncool.
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THE SNAKE by Eric Kutner and Adam Goldstein:  Patton Oswalt mentioned this movie in a GQ interview; it’s available on Netflix On Demand.  Oh, man, you guys. The movie’s not perfect–  some pretty dopey parts run a little long, the second act is a little long in the tooth, the creative team try to mix in some pretty worthless Borat-type antics into the narrative which aren’t interesting at all, and there’s a slow part in the middle where the movie really fools you into thinking you’re watching a Hollywood comedy that’s a bit of grind; Margaret Cho has a cameo, and I can’t say I’m a fan.
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But Adam Goldstein’s performance.  Oh, man.
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If you have the stomach to appreciate it, Adam Goldstein plays maybe the worst, most repulsive fucking douchebag maybe in movie history.  And he’s the star of the movie; he’s the main character– the entire movie is watching this complete piece of shit.  There’s a kind of piece of shit, if you hang out in a certain neighborhood, or go to a certain kind of bar, you hate that fucking guy on sight, and Goldstein plays the King of Those Fucking Guys; he plays their Emperor; he commits to that character so fucking hard, it’s almost like watching some kind of awful Olympics.  He so overwhelmingly is that guy, that even the parts of the movie I wasn’t that into, I couldn’t stop watching, wanting the entire time to suffocate the main character with a pillow. It’s not a mumblecore movie, but it has no budget; no big actors; just this performance.

Here’s BEST SHOW ON WFMU’s Tom Scharpling talking about Goldstein:
After fifteen minutes you want to murder the bag of human garbage… It’s one of those performances that you cannot believe you’re seeing. Goldstein plays it SO slimy at every single turn. There’s barely a line that comes out of his mouth that doesn’t make you want to punch him. But he’s hilarious – it’s like Chris Elliott’s character as performed by Daniel Day-Lewis. An absolute turn of brilliance…  it’s almost like THE SNAKE is a nature film documenting the worst animal on earth, who just happens to be human… Adam Goldstein gives the performance of all of our lives.”
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It’s not for everyone; the SNAKE is a comedy about fucking eating disorders, which… not everyone finds those funny, maybe. (If you prefer really intensely stupid, juvenile humor, there’s a totally-dumb, very-dumb PG-13 kids movie that I’m fond of called the SASQUATCH DUMPLING GANG, also on Netflix on Demand).  But if you can handle super-black, cringe humor, I think the SNAKE is worth a look for Goldstein’s performance.
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I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR BAND by Julie Klausner.
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Speaking of guys being douchebags– if you have a lady friend  whose having a hard time with the dating, this may be something you might want to get them.  It’s not a dating manual or anything like that– Klausner is a comedienne writing about her history of failed relationships with assorted hipsters, rockers, losers and perverts. One chapter is entitled “Star Wars is a Kids’ Movie“… I haven’t read that one yet, but I’m guessing it hits close to home.
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But it’s a funny book– funny stories.  For relationship stories, I guess I like things that hit both “vulgar” and “sweet,” which I think Klausner does.  A story about a guy Klausner dates who enjoys the taste of his own semen– that’s probably vulgar, I suppose.  But there’s something so sweet and sad when Klausner describes how it made her feel unnecessary to the relationship:  “I mean, what’s the point of having a girl in the room if all you want to do is dine on your own jizz?  Why not cut out the middleman?
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Hipsters, rockers, losers and perverts– I guess I’ve known a few of those, and I guess I can admit I’ve had that thought cross my head of… “I like my friend; my friend is a great guy; I should hang out with my friend more;  his new girlfriend seems nice and normal– why is a nice, normal girl like that dating a total scumbag like my friend?!”  It’s nice getting to hear the other side of those stories (without crying involved)…
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The book’s intended audience is plainly women– a good chunk of the book involves pep talks, for the ladies, or talking about sexism, or what have you.  Men versus guys; “nerds who fear women and aren’t sensitive despite their marketing; they just dislike women in a new, exciting way“; men are like Kermit and women are like Miss Piggy (it might not sound like it, but that part’s actually really good); so on.  I don’t know that I’m the best audience for those parts; I don’t know that I agree with everything there, necessarily.  But I just enjoy reading this kind of thing, lately– it’s been a big surprise for me because I always thought of relationship books as being the type of thing I’d never enjoy, until just recently.  I don’t know what’s changed.  I guess I just feel like I’ve read enough from guys; I kind of know what guys think about.  They think about robots, on fire, murdering dolphins.  There was that one song, in the 80’s:
I know what boys like / they like ro-bots,
murdering dol-phins / while on fi-re,
BOYS LIKE ME.
(Hand Claps; Hand Claps)
You can hear Klausner read one of her stories on youtube.
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POWERS #3 by Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Avon Oeming, and Co.:  I was very, very unhappy with POWERS #2; I didn’t like #1 much either, but especially #2.  They tried to do a big superhero action spectacle in #2, which is just something too many other books do, which Bendis himself does in too many other books.  I don’t want POWERS to be like other books; I want it to be special; POWERS is my “thick or thin” book, the comic I’m sticking with until they end it, come what may; man, #2 was a bummer.
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So, Issue #3 was that much more of a relief!  Relief!  It’s as much as I’ve liked a superhero action piece in a good while, as much as I’ve liked a comic from everyone involved in years maybe; POWERS doing the kind of action that I think the book excels at, that I want from the book more than anything:  superhero comic as survival horror.   I think the book’s always been at its very best when it’s mined that vein, and POWERS #3 is 41 pages of it.  The whole issue is three people in a car, trying to get away from a crazed superhero flying after them.  Acton spectacle, but something fresh, from a different perspective, from a different point of view.
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Plus, Bendis brings back something I haven’t seen him really do for a while, too long, where the book’s got a second level of tension that arises from the book’s main character doing the Wrong Thing.  A main character making a morally wrong decision, out of selfishness and stubbornness– here, Walker has superpowers but he’s keeping them a secret from the people around him.  He can save the day if he’s willing to sacrifice everything in his life, but he refuses to do it.  He makes the morally wrong choice; he makes the selfish choice; it’s not even mentioned in the comic– it’s all under the surface.  The entire 41 pages of action spectacle are all about characer, the main character’s integrity being tested, finding out through action who the main character is, the fun of watching a character make decisions.  This!  Not the other stuff!!  THIS!!!
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Bendis, Oeming, the entire POWERS crew, everyone just seemed in their zone on this one.  I think volume 3 still hasn’t quite explained why the story is continuing past what felt like a very definitive ending at the end of volume 2– both Walker and Deena had been on very fully journeys by the time the end of #2 rolled around.  (Though, I guess it would be cool if volume 1 was act 1, volume 2 was act 2, and volume 3 was the final act in Walker’s story, I suppose– if they could pull that off).  And boy, am I ever confused where all the pieces are, anymore, after all the delays and breaks– the federal government storyline, the Powers-have-been-around-forever storyline, that cosmic-storyline (didn’t the Pope die in POWERS at one point??).  But it’s just so fucking nice to feel glad that the book’s back, finally.  Sweet, sweet relief!
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GARY PANTER, at the Hammer Museum: I was at that Gary Panter talk a couple months back, at the Hammer Museum at UCLA.  As part of the Hammer’s big Robert Crumb exhibition, the museum brought Gary Panter in to talk about modern art.  At least up until the Q&A session, where it of course almost immediately became question-time from art school kids wanting Gary Panter to talk about drugs.  I was sitting next to the stoned art school girls (a.k.a. the entire audience for the speech), all of whom were whispering “yesssssssssssssssss” in unison every time Panter mentioned drugs.  I love you so much, stoned art school girls.  I love you so much.  Yesssssssssssssssss.
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September 2009 in 6 minutes from DaveAOK on Vimeo.

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2009 IN 6 MINUTES by Dave Seger:  Oh, I don’t even remember how I found out about these; I found these by accident.  In 2009, Seger would film part of his life every single day, and then at the end of every month, cut the footage down into 6 minutes, with each day receiving no more than 15 seconds of screentime, all set to music.
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And so over the course of twelve 6-minute movies, you see every day of a year in this guy’s life (with only a couple exceptions that i can recall).  You slowly start to recognize faces– blonde guy, brunette girl, etc., but mostly it’s a blur of these tiny moments.  A couple seconds of a party, a couple seconds in a car, a couple seconds in a line;  Seger started working in some capacity on the NBC show COMMUNITY in 2009, and so that’s sometimes in the background, but just in the tiniest of intervals.  Sometimes happy moments; usually, quiet moments; everyone seems pretty aware of the camera, Seger and friends pout and make faces to  the camera constantly, but that doesn’t really ruin it for me anyways.
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I like these videos, I guess, because while I watched them, I did get to thinking what the movie for a year for my life would look like.  It wouldn’t be much of a movie, really; honestly, it wouldn’t be as good as David Seger’s probably. But there would be some good parts, I hope. I hope. It was a good thing to think about.
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THE ASSASSINATION OF ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND AND SOPHIE, DUCHESS OF HOHENBERG:  I just hope that someday, the guy who letters CAPTAIN AMERICA can be brought to justice.
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SPARTA #1 by Dave Lapham, Johnny Timmons and Co.:  It has a pretty cool premise, this comic– it’s about a remote small town, nestled in the mountains, absurdly obsessed with football, controlled by facist forces, where mysteries abound.  Lapham goes all-out, as usual.
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But it’s got these distracting, Tiger Beat drawings of Colin Farrel.  He’s the artist’s model for the main character.  I like the premise, but I don’t know if I can get past it, guys.  Here’s a panel next to the very first image google turns up for Colin Farrell– feel free to tell me I’m nuts:
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Dude, Colin Farrel’s not even an obscure actor; he was almost an A-list actor for a while there.  TIGERLAND.  IN BRUGES.  MINORITY REPORT.  MIAMI VICE.  He’s been in a ton of movies, a ton of them.  He’s very, very recognizable.  I can watch Colin Farrel movies, on the Superstation, movies created by small armies of skilled professionals.  And they’re free!  TBS doesn’t charge me $3 to see Colin Farrel have an adventure.  Why would you purposefully remind me of that fact?  “My comic is called ‘There’s a Lot of Free Porn Easy to Find on the Internet.‘”  What? No! That’s a horrible title!
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I mean, do you even know how inexpensive cameras are?  If an artist wants to use photo-reference, there’s cameras everywhere.  I have a camera that came with my phone.  All you need is either to (a) own a phone, or (b) know someone who will lend you their phone for 5 minutes.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Take a photo of yourself.  Take a photo of your best friend. Take a photo of your dad.  Take a photo of your mom.  Your mom is about as manly as Colin Farrel.  Your mom has stubble.  Take a photo of your he-mom.  All you need to avoid punk moves in your comics is to just live somewhere where phones exist.
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RANDOM THOUGHT ABOUT COMICS:  I was in a suit the other day; pretty often, I have to wear a suit for work.  And … I like suits, but I hate having to wear suits; does that make sense?  Anyways, I realized that almost every singly time I’m in a suit, my mind flashes on that opening shot of that movie OUT OF SIGHT.  Man, I must think about that shot pretty much every single time I’m in a suit.
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And I have dozens of things like that.  I work in an office; if I go outside and the skies are super-blue, there’s a moment when I think of playing hooky, and flash on that moment in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, right at the beginning:  Ferris opening up his windows, “How can I can be expected to go to high school on a day like this?”  The kid on the Big Wheel riding down the hallway in the SHINING, when I’m in a hotel. Sandler dancing in PUNCHDRUNK LOVE, in certain cereal aisles.  That shot of Faye Wong on the escalator in CHUNGKING EXPRESS, on airport escalators.  William H. Macy walking into the bar in MAGNOLIA– which isn’t even a movie I like all that much.  There’s a moment from an episode of KATE AND ALLIE, I shit you not, when I see coins in a fountain, which is especially weird and something I really, really wish wouldn’t happen– why can’t I think about LA DOLCE VITA?  Nope, fuck you, Fellini:  KATE AND fucking ALLIE for the win.   I think of FREDDY VERSUS JASON every-time I climax, sexually.
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Do you have those, too? Tiny, tiny bits of business from pop culture that just sort of flash into your head involuntarily?  (I sure hope so, otherwise this is a little awkward, you guys.)
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Any of them from comics?
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I can’t really think of any, myself.  I remember that line “San Fran turned manga” popped into my head the last time I drove into San Francisco, that I laughed at myself for being such a lame, lame nerd.  It’s a line from one of my favorite comics, THE INVISIBLES, one of the best-est issues of that book maybe, but … I don’t drive into San Francisco often enough to know if that was a regular thing, or just a sad thing that happened once.  Maybe– maybe the kids lying on the hills in BLOOM COUNTY..?  But I don’t hang out on hills.  I don’t live anywhere there’s winter or snowmen, so no to CALVIN AND HOBBES. I don’t go to a psychiatrist, so no to PEANUTS. If I drive through a certain kind of town to get gas, on the way somewhere else, one of those “why is this town even here; why are these people staying here” type places, there are drawings of the town in ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY, maybe. But I don’t go on those kinds of drives too often.  Anyone, anything?
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CERVICAL CANCER:  What? No!  I didn’t– how did that–
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Oh, ads for Cervical Cancer– you’re exactly like that movie the WEDDING CRASHERS, only funny.
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FRANKENCASTLE by Rick Remender, Tony Moore, & Co.:  This is the only comic of its ilk I’m really getting any kind of charge out of right now.  I don’t think I’ve read every issue, but I think they’re onto something here.  They killed the Punisher and transformed his comic into a monster comic.  Tony Moore took a breather the other day, and Dan Brereton filled in.  The Brereton fill-in kind of underlined how I enjoy the book as being… Guys on a project that plays perfectly to what I think are their strengths, maybe…?  Do I want to read Rick Remender write a crazy, moody monster comic with colorful villains and messed-up heroes?   Do I want to see Tony Moore draw a bunch of gross, disgusting weirdos having crazy adventures?  Dan Brereton drawing giant Japanese monsters…?  Yeah: I think I can be persuaded.
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I’d enjoyed Remender-Moore on things like FEAR AGENT and especially XXXOMBIES, but I’m really very much not in the mood for this particular kind of mainstream comic right now.  So, I drag my feet with this comic, more than a little.  But, heck:  it’s a fun comic.  If there’s anyone else in the mainstream right now who are on a book as well suited for their strengths– it’s gotten by me…
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Anything else going on in the mainstream?  I’m partial to that Howard Chaykin DIE HARD: YEAR ONE book– I really admire how Chaykin used a DIE HARD comic book as an excuse to do his own thing about New York in the 1970’s.  It still satisfies the basic DIE HARD formula, but the early issues especially, he even gets away with ignoring John McClane for long stretches.  In a DIE HARD comic.  Which I thought was funny.  Beyond that book and the Remender-Moore… Gosh, slim pickings from the mainstream for me.  I tried a couple issues of that Jonathan Hickman FANTASTIC FOUR run people seem excited about– I didn’t get much a charge from it. His SECRET WARRIORS book seemed okay, the couple of those I saw; if I were more patient. But FF– I didn’t see what other people apparently are seeing.  Maybe I picked the wrong issues; color me envious, I guess.  DC… You know, if Cameron Stewart can’t get me to enjoy reading Grant Morrison’s BATMAN, nothing can; so, so boring!  I guess I’ve been sleeping on a lot of people, but I don’t really have the sense that I’ve been missing anything special.  Am I missing anything?
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TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY — OPENING CREDITS:  I’d never heard of this show before, and I really wish I could explain how delighted I was the first time I saw this.  “I never heard of this bit of pop culture, and now I know this exists” kind of has its own weird, sad vibrational frequency of happiness.

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Noel Murray wrote an essay the other day about 22 SHORT FILMS ABOUT SPRINGFIELD, with this passage– I thought of it as I was watching those opening credits:
One value of a good reference is that it can send fans of one pop-culture artifact on little expeditions, tracking the secret history of the shows, music, and movies they like by digging through their footnotes. We become archaeologists of pop, like the heroes of the Warren Ellis/John Cassaday comic-book series Planetary. (How’s that for a reference?) There’s a longstanding tradition of this kind of digging in the arts, often under the loftier guise of creating and studying canons. But the ’90s were more about rewriting the canon, and making sure that all the junk of the past got preserved alongside the classics. Was all that pack-ratting worth it in the long run?
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I’m sure a lot of you remember this show, but I would swear I’d never heard of it until Shout Factory announced they were bringing the show out on DVD last month.  After Indiana Jones, after RAIDERS, ABC tried to create its own show in the classic adventure mold, with a premise ripped every which way from Milton Caniff.  This was a Donald Bellisario show– he did Magnum, P.I., Airwolf, Quantum Leap, others.  I might not even like the show, if I ever see it, but just that feeling of “This is totally a thing that exists.”  Hard to believe it’s even real, those opening credits– it looks like something Rob Schrab might have created for Channel 101.  There’s a dog in an eyepatch in the first fifteen seconds!  But it’s real! It’s totally a thing that exists! I know it’s not discovering King Tut’s tomb by any means, but… it’s just its own, weird frequency of happiness, the only way I can think to put it.
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THE NERDIST PODCAST by Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray, & Co.:  This is a solid podcast, if you do the whole “listen to podcasts while working late hours because your life is grim and gray” thing, if you like hearing funny people interview comedians.  There are many such podcast,  of late– Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast is also quite good.  But this one, in particular, I feel like they’ve been on such a terrific roll, with consistently excellent interviews so far with Drew Carey, Andy Richter, Adam Corolla, Jim Gaffigan, and more.  Hardwick himself is one of my favorite people to see perform; the conversations all range nicely from silly to insightful; and more than anything, more than anything– John Hamm doing a Brody Stevens impression.  If you understand what that means (and you probably do; you’re hip people; you’re on the internet, you’re reading blogs)– holy shit, goddamn, that made me laugh.
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DRAWINGS FROM 2008 INSPIRED BY HANSEL & GRETEL by Lorenzo Mattotti:  In 2008, Mattotti reduced the story of Hansel and Gretel to six drawings, as part of a group of artists creating art based on the classic fairy tale in connection with a production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel opera. They’ve been on the internet for a couple years now; I don’t remember who reminded me of them the other day; the internet just has a pleasant way of re-noticing and re-linking to things past their initial shelf date.  Besides just enjoying the drawing on their own terms, I think, moreso than the other artists interpreting Hansel and Gretel, Mattotti gets something essential about the story into his drawings, by focusing on the difference in scale between the children and the dark world around them.  Mattotti’s Hansel and Gretel seem that much more fragile, being so surrounded by the woods, by Mattotti’s thick, slashes of black.
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NEMESIS by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven:  With the hype building on KICK-ASS, I thought I’d check up on Millar, his new thing.  I’m not a fan, but Millar’s The Guy Who Won— worth paying attention to, for that reason.  I suppose I agree with most of the negative criticisms I’ve heard of this, most of all that it’s just a movie pitch masquerading as a comic, most of all that.  But, that said, I enjoyed it regardless.  It’s a comic book about violence, featuring violence, and starring violence, and so I approve of the message that this comic was trying to convey, to the youth, that message being: violence.
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I can’t stand the character design for the main character, though. Does McNiven have no talent whatsoever for character design, or was something this dull requested of him?  Setting aside the character design,  the idea of reviving the old French character Fantomas for the modern age? I think there’s a cleverness to that.  (Fantomas’s character design had panache, but…) Looking at the U.S. market, and saying, “The U.S. audience hates itself enough now to root for Super-Bin-Laden“– that takes a mix of total stupidity and market savvy that Millar arguably is the best at; that mix is arguably his specialty.
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My gut say he’s right– the time does feel perfect for a Fantomas revival.  If nothing else, it was pretty obvious to a lot of people that last BATMAN movie would have been a much better movie without Batman, so Millar being fast enough to profit from that observation– you know, what else can you say but well done.
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I hope future issues of NEMESIS feature Super-Bin-Laden wreaking total havoc upon decadent Western civilization.  Violence; explosions; kaboom!  This sounds like I’m joking, but I very sincerely enjoy seeing violence in a comic book– I really am not a very sophisticated human being.  As long as the comic is violent, and I don’t have to deal with Millar writing about race, or sex, or … really, any kind of attempt whatsoever to write about real human people or real human concerns.  If he can avoid those three things, please, please, we should be good to go here.
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CALIFORNIA ROLL by John Vorhaus:  My life’s been pretty hectic this year, so I’ve downshifted lately from serious books back to crime comedies.  I just finished CALIFORNIA ROLL; headed into the sequel to the SPELLMAN FILES.  This book, CALIFORNIA ROLL, I don’t know if it was very good or not.  It’s about Con Artists, and I have a huge blind spot when it comes to con artists.  I really think con artists are the very best thing a story can be about.  Since I was a kid, with the STING; anything Mamet; DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS; I didn’t really like that movie the BROTHERS BLOOM very much at all, as a movie, and even then, I still walked out of it completely happy just because… You know, people got conned in it.  (Everything but MATCHSTICK MEN, basically– that movie was the exception to the rule– it was all stinky).
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It’s about a half-dozen con artists colliding in Los Angeles.  What I like about it is … You know, a movie about con artists, you’re always sitting there the whole time thinking “Oh, I know what’s going on– the con artist is being conned.  I went to college.”  You’re always playing that game of trying to outsmart the characters.  With this book, the main character is doing the same thing: he realizes he can’t trust a single thing anyone is telling him, and so most of the book is his internal process of trying to figure out if he’s being outsmarted or if he’s overthinking the situation he’s in, getting paralyzed by a fundamental uncertainty as to what the hell the plot of the book even is.
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That was enough fun for me.  If the rest of the book was terrible, I wasn’t really paying close attention.  The book walks through a half-dozen cons along the way, big and small.  That said, a con artist story does kinda live or die by its ending, and I thought CALIFORNIA ROLL fell apart near its end with (a) a contrivance concerning the main character that I really didn’t care for, and (b) some physical action, which is not what I want from this particular genre: I want to see characters win because they’ve outsmarted other characters, not worked out harder at a gym.  But I need frothy right now; I don’t have the energy for anything besides frothy?  On that level, this did okay enough by me.
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RANDOM ANIMATED GIF:  I love this animated gif so, so much, but I don’t want to know anything about it.  Did you see that last Coen Brothers movie, A SERIOUS MAN?  I think they made the point in that movie that applies equally to this animated-gif:  sometimes, you just have to embrace the mystery.

15 Responses to “ Abhay Did Capsule Reviews in April 2010 ”

  1. Any of them from comics?

    Every wall and tall building I have ever seen, True Believer.

    //\oo/\\

  2. NEMESIS #1 is awful, but at the same time, I find myself attracted to its retarded verve and refreshing one-dimensionality. People say it’s childish and immature, and it is indeed dirt-dumb, but, y’know…isn’t the superhero genre fundamentally stupid? Or is that no longer the case, post-Watchmen?

    Also: you like Sasquatch Gang?!? Me too!

  3. Easy, Black Blizzard is manga, while L’Autoroute du Soleil is just a french comic.

    (Just to be fair, it also has FAR more chances to have a new french-language edition than any EC comic. Sad but true.)

  4. Every time I walk on wet tarmac at night – the way the strip-lights reflect – I am reminded of BACK TO THE FUTURE’s carpark time travel sequence. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a result of having seen that film close to a trillion times.

    I am hella enjoying FRANKENCASTLE, but at what point is a character no longer that character? Like, a Frankenstein monster hunting monster-hunters – that’s not The Punisher, is it? This isn’t a Punisher story. I understand that launching a new series with a new character who hunts monster-hunters would be commercial suicide, but… I feel slightly worried that they’re saying Punisher is creatively bankrupt and that the only way to make him succeed is change it so wildly. How’s this any better than making him black? Or a ghost? And Marvel seem content to just settle on Ennis Was Right as Punisher M.O. (See Aaron’s disappointing run on MAX) so why not go crazy. I’m a little disappointed, but having fun too, so… who’s wrong?

    Also – I’m shocked anybody still reads POWERS.

  5. TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY was sadly awful. It swiped many things I like enormously, and did a terribly, wooden, tone-deaf job with them. It even cast Roddy MacDowall and still wasn’t any good.

    Its main claim to any standing whatsoever was that it gave Disney’s TALESPIN something to swipe — and do a better job of.

    Someday someone will do a good Caniff-based TV show, but GOLD MONKEY isn’t it.

  6. Yeah, the OUT OF SIGHT thing: I don’t get it with movies or comics but I do feel like I can summon cinema most anytime I want. Like you’re walking and the iPod becomes disembodied and suddenly it’s the soundtrack of your existence. And sometimes I make that little cinematographers frame with my thumbs and forefingers and whoah a tracking shot. Should the shuffle hit the kinks you’re in a Wes Anderson film.

    I also enjoy WTF. In addition to the comedian interviews there’s the shit about Marc’s life. Sometime I feel like we’re all he’s got. he does this early morning recording and tells us the podcast is now the best thing in his life and goddamn when’d that happen? Can any other man/medium deliver that?

  7. “Easy, Black Blizzard is manga, while L’Autoroute du Soleil is just a french comic”

    But… Kodansha, they… aaaaah, I guess.

    “Like, a Frankenstein monster hunting monster-hunters – that’s not The Punisher, is it?”

    Fair point. I don’t know, though– I liked as a kid, all the permutations that the Hulk went through, with Peter David. There were things I didn’t like about that run, and sometimes I was just in the mood to see a big green guy hit things, but… those nasty grey guy in a suit working for a casino bits, I remember fondly. The whole “let’s make the Punisher a regular Marvel character” mission statement is a pretty tough one, to begin with. Fans don’t like seeing characters with “potential” getting killed, so a character like the Punisher whose whole thing is KILLING people– he either ends up looking incompetent or inconsequential, unless they throw a change-up. Anyone doing Punisher post-Ennis is going to be in his shadow if they don’t change it up… I guess I thought they threw a good one here.

    “It even cast Roddy MacDowall and still wasn’t any good.”

    Aww, heck. I’ll always have the trailer.

    “In addition to the comedian interviews there’s the shit about Marc’s life. Sometime I feel like we’re all he’s got.”

    I find that material really refreshing– I like depressing-seeking Maron more than the old angry-political Maron from years ago; the former’s funnier, first off, but I don’t know, I just believe it more. I especially like when the comedians argue with him over it– Bob Odenkirk in the new one, talking about how life is humbling, or whatever.

  8. “But… Kodansha, they… aaaaah, I guess.”

    Public perception and all that. Walk into an anime convention and say out loud that Adam Warren’s Empowered is a manga. Chances are you won’t walk out of it alive!

    Best,
    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  9. Sort of a different thing, but I didn’t realise until I re-read Why I Hate Saturn and Transmetropolitan how much I’d internalised them. I’ve stolen words, turns of phrase, observations, whole conversational bits from those books and then forgotten that I’d stolen them. They’re just part of the way I talk, say, if I’m at a Mexican restaurant now.

  10. Which Fantastic FOur issues did you check out? 573 and 574 were pretty much godawful, with fill-in artists and self-contained mediocrity, but the other books are pretty much everything a FF book should have, exploration of crazy science fiction landscapes, especially 570-572, which feature a team of alternate universe Reeds battling Celestials.

    If that won’t sell you, nothing will.

  11. My memory’s pretty terrible, but one involved Mole Men (I got it because I like Mole Men…?) and maybe a city, and maybe the Thing getting all weird. The other, the FF went an underwater lost city thing and fought AIM or Hydra or somebody, then hung out with some dudes until Sue Storm got all proud of herself. Both just kind of … ended.

  12. Yah, political Marc is a bit before my time but it sounds like that was really a gig and Marc was putting it–and we all know COMEDY COMES FROM HONESTY. Or we’ve learned that.

    @Jody: That’s fascinating. Maybe it’s the case that comics work on a more subliminal level. I remember reading an interview with Brad Meltzer where he got fanmail–before anyone knew he was such a fanboy–about how much his chapters had the rhythms of 22 pp superhero stories.

    Is this why there are less people “training” in comics to go write screenplays than you’d think? Why Mark Millar doesn’t write screenplays instead of treatments disguised as comics? Because the “rhythm” and form doesn’t translate to the screen? (Meltzer has a dead tv show in his corpus btw, and Geoff Johns had that Blade show, and there’s that book where no one wants to film Bendis’ screenplay)

  13. Tales of the Gold Monkey was teh awesome– at least I thought so when I was 11. I wouldn’t dare to watch it now for fear of disappointment.

    A fish doesn’t notice water, and as a TV-watching kid in the 80s I didn’t notice how very TV-in-the-80s those credits were. Could be the opening for Magnum or A-Team.

  14. […] Bulletproof Coffin #1 (of 6): This is, on one level, a comic about comics. As our own Abhay Khosla recently said: “I don’t know– do you think that’s interesting, comics about comics? Me, not so […]

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