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“Working Together In The Name Of The Common Good…” COMICS! Sometimes Creators Don’t Get To Pick Their Fans! (Ever, Actually. Now I think About It.)

John Kane

It’s a Skip Week! (Booo!) So let’s see what falls out of my head (Yay!). Checking the Savage Critic’s mail bag I see several of you may have contacted me expressing intense distress that I have yet to tell you how 2013 panned out for Howard Victor Chaykin.  It was definitely several or none. It’s so hard to remember these things. So, hedging my bets I’ll tell you anyway…

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Howard Victor Chaykin ended the year of 2013 by sprawling debonairly into the first month of the new year with the final issue of Buck Rogers, which splashed down in January 2014. Judging by the sales you ‘orrible lot were blasé in the face of the charms of Howard Victor Chaykin’s Buck Rogers revival. Well, that’s your loss because I can tell you it was in fact VERY GOOD! Yes, despite the fact that a page in the final issue !OMITTED! !THE! !DIALOGUE! Howard Victor Chaykin’s Buck Rogers was the usual witty, political savvy, oddly meandering then hectically climactic appeal for everyone to stop acting like jackasses, but this time with jodhpurs and jetpacks. Kenneth Bruzenak and Jesus Arbutov all played important parts in giving the series a vibrantly pulpy sheen in keeping with the hoary yet versatile source. It was certainly very Howard Victor Chaykin and finished off what was certainly a very good year for Howard Victor Chaykin. Actually, I don’t know how Howard Victor Chaykin’s year was. It was probably a pretty decent year because throughout it he would have been Howard Victor Chaykin. Head start right there, am I right? You know I am. And what I know is it was a good year for people who enjoy Howard Victor Chaykin’s work; both of us.

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Despite being denied an overseas audience in its original periodical form (due to an aversion to spending decades in court) in 2013 Image collected and released Black Kiss 2. Which you will recall is VERY GOOD! So, it appears there are different rules for books and comics when it comes to peddling filth. And those rules are probably totally unconnected to the different amounts of money the different formats bring in. Black Kiss 2 was the one where Howard Victor Chaykin showed that even his sick smut made other people’s smart stuff look sick. Opinions were divided, with some declaring the book merely an old man whacking off in public. Such people are probably unaware just how much work goes into writing and drawing a hundred and odd pages of comics. A lot more work than whacking off, even given how much more work is involved in that the older you get. Particularly in public; you have to really plan that shit out like a caper movie unless you like having your windows broken. Or so I’ve heard. Naturally, untouched by bias as I am, in my head Black Kiss 2 was inventively vile but always engrossing and enthusiastically executed. A lot like an old man whacking off when you put it like that. It was certainly a lot less toe curling than that time Howard Victor Chaykin drew those Bendis Avengers comics. See, it’s that kind of bland doggerel kids need protecting from! Every year lowered expectations kill more people than pictures of gnawed off cocks being spat in people’s faces. Check your stats! Anyway, a mixed reaction to Black Kiss 2 like I say, but while we should always respect the opinions of others we should also remember they are worthless and only I am always right. To sum, Black Kiss 2 was probably a bit rich for most palates and we’ll move swiftly on.

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Image continued to curry my favour by finally publishing Century West; this being an OGN from about 6 years ago which originally appeared in Spanish or French or some other vulgar tongue I can’t be arsed to learn because, well, indolence is bliss. Or ignorance. Either way, I’ve got that covered! Come on now, 6 years or whatever it was; what was the hold up there? It’s not like they had to translate it or anything. I know he can be a bit excitable and his dentures might slip making his speech go all mushy but I do believe Howard Victor Chaykin usually speaks English. Anyway, like when our cat went missing that time Century West finally turned up; unlike our cat it hadn’t lost an ear and now hissed at loud noises. Despite being a bit overcrowded layoutwise and so busy with characters and events in its short span of pages it risked leaving you feeling like you’d sucked a three course meal through a straw very quickly indeed, it was VERY GOOD! It didn’t hurt that Howard Victor Chaykin’s busy script and crowded art was blessed by the titanic typography of Ken Bruzenak and Michele Madsen’s lovely colours. There was a James Garner level of cool pleasure emanating from the endeavour embodied by Howard Victor Chaykin sneaking in a sly nod to his early work decades past on the Shattuck strip. One for the keen eyed old timers there. Basically it was another fine example of Howard Victor Chaykin’s love affair with the history of America and his somewhat more ambivalent feelings about the kinematograph (it’s okay, Howard Victor Chaykin, it’ll never catch on!). It was in fact very much like Black Kiss 2 in its themes and concerns but somewhat more sunnily optimistic in its conclusions, and certainly less likely to need stashing when the Rabbi pops round to chat about donations for the next jumble sale.

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Throughout the year the odd voice was (reasonably enough) raised in opposition to the occasionally offbeat aspects of his work but it was Howard Victor Chaykin’s art that was the best reason to tolerate the tone deaf Altman impression of Matt Fraction’s Satellite Sam. Hey, another Image book. Image: we keep Howard Victor Chaykin off the streets! Despite Howard Victor Chaykin’s best efforts Fraction’s incessant showboating continued to undermine the effects he was after. He’s like a mirror that man,  a mirror to which access is keyed on the DNA of the entire population of the world but me; I can’t see what others see in him. One day his enthusiastic mimicry might make him comics’ Michael Sheen but as the final whistle blew on 2013 he remained comics’ Mike Yarwood. And Satellite Sam remained OKAY! So, that New Year’s Resolution I made to not be such a dismissive prick? Not a success. Anway, I say the art but really it was the art and the lettering which were worth showing up for. Ken Bruzenak was here again, this time busting out an innovative invisible speech approach which harked back to Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon strip with its blunt ended bubble tails. In many ways Howard Victor Chaykin’s 2013 was also Kenneth Bruzenak’s 2013. Not only was Ken Bruzenak all over Dark Horse Presents like a beautiful rash of bruises but he was reunited with his beach dwelling pal on a seemingly permanent basis. Chaykin and The Bruise were back! Chaykin and The Bruise! Sounds like a forgotten quirky action flick from the ‘70s starring Peter Boyle and Alan Arkin or something. Maybe with a jazzily chugging score by Lalo Schifrin and a very special guest appearance by Ann Margaret. Sadly the reality is in all probability naff all like that; just a couple of salty old dudes doing the do old dudes need to do to get the dough.

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Oh, there was also Howard Victor Chaykin keeping Marvel sweet with an Iron Man OGN and that weird strip in that A+X comic (which a kind Savage Critic commenter alerted me to). This latter involved Black Widow and The White Queen flashing their breasts at a man until he puked. Because, Howard Victor Chaykin! Some even more magical pals of The Savage Critics sent me reports of Howard Victor Chaykin’s doings at conventions which were very much appreciated (SPOILER: he was a gentleman!). My thanks to all the lovely people who enable my crippling obsession! I have not named anyone because sometimes people don’t like that, but while the mental hygiene behind my thanks may be suspect those thanks are genuine. So, the year in Howard Victor Chaykin there, Actually I just blurted all this out so I probably got all the release years wrong and missed stuff and oh, dear, I have to go now. So, I might have missed something, do let me know. Oh, do!

Anyway, Howard Victor Chaykin: 2013 was another year we should have been glad he still bothered with – COMICS!!!

11 Responses to “ “Working Together In The Name Of The Common Good…” COMICS! Sometimes Creators Don’t Get To Pick Their Fans! (Ever, Actually. Now I think About It.) ”

  1. “This latter involved Black Widow and The White Queen flashing their breasts at a man until he puked.”


  2. I love that I can come here for all my Howard Victor Chaykin news.

    That Satelitte Same sure has a lot of craft, as far as that goes, but the story meanders around that hole near your backside for five issues and I forgot to care about it anymore.

    Ya know, I’m fully aware that HVC has more-or-less been kinda doing the same thing since those first three issues of American Flagg!, square-jawed heroes, biting wit, sexy ladies in lingerie, long scene setting panels with vertical panels for action and inset panels for reaction shots. He even has the same letterer! But goddamnit, its heartening to find some enjoyable constants in your life. The sun will rise next morning, Undertaker will win at Wrestlemania, and HVC comics will be HVC comics til the end of time.

  3. I don’t know about the sun and Wrestlemania, but I’m with Michael 100% on the rest! “Wholesome Howie” Chaykin for eternity!

  4. Jesus, John. If you aren’t going to learn a foreign language to enjoy HVC in a timely fashion I don’t think I can believe you like him at all. Anyways good to know about Century West. I actually thought that Century West was brand spanking new last year, which would certainly have made it a doozie of a year for the man.

    By the way, I wonder what we’d get if someone actually did ask John Kane about an entire year of Howard Victor Chaykin’s life and career?

  5. There’s no adulation like “I’m getting a restraining order” adulation. That was some might fine reporting, John. Now if only that Black Kiss X-Mas Special had come out, 2013 would have been pretty darn near perfect.

  6. John,

    Thank you for reminding me Buck Rogers had been released – it never appeared on Comixology so hearing it was all in-print, I bought up the entire series a day after you posted this.

    Although I am not a connoisseur of Howard Victor Chaykin, I did enjoy the series. What I found most novel about his interpretation is his Buck Rogers is more inclusive and liberal-minded than the future people. Given that many comics which revive an old character by bringing them into the present depict said character as being decidedly backwards and non-PC, to the point of racism (Peter Milligan’s interpretation of Miss America), mindless jingoism (Mark Millar’s Captain America) or homophobia (JMS’ Dynamic Man), it’s kind of neat to see that trope smacked upside the head. We seem a little smug about our place in history when we ridicule our forebears, no?

  7. @JRSM: Oh yes. to be fair it was a neat little story about the importance of privacy in these privacy free times. But that did indeed happen. Several times.

    @Michael: I’m thinking of branching out into Howard Victor Chaykin weather next! Whoa, you described HVC’s comics to a tee. Nicely done. Although I should point out that the word we give to his unfaltering magic is ‘consistency’!

    @Seth Hollander: Eternity Plus!

    @Brendan: I know. I’m such a light weight! So, did you buy Century West? Because that’s what it’s for!

    @Corey (Ottawa): Hey now! Neither of us would have seen that X-Mas Special, living as we do in repressive police states! I don’t know what happened to that comic, all the Black Kiss stuff has gone off digital as well. Maybe someone actually read it and was all, oh %^$&!!!!!

    @Michael Hoskins: Thanks for splashing the cash on Buck Rogers. I’m glad you liked it. I like your point about our smuggery with regard to The Past.

    I was reading some newspaper strip reprints and they had that whole “In the Past people were really big on racism and some of it has got on these pages. We do hope you can stomach it you big sophisticated lug, you.” thing on the copyright page. And then I switched on the TV and found that in 2014 Russia apparently still can’t understand the difference between ‘homosexual’ and ‘paedophile’. I know that’s intolerance and not racism but I imagine there’s still a bit of that floating about somewhere. Good work, everybody!

    Thanks to all the Chaykinmaniacs!

  8. This review made me realise that whilst I have every issue of Black Kiss 2 and Satellite Sam, I haven’t read them all. I also didn’t make it through Century West. The first two were just a lot different than I was expecting- I thought Satellite Sam would be going somewhere, and also thought it was only going to be three issues long – and Century West just felt a bit like HVC going through the HVC motions, but with nothing new to show.
    Also, I got Wolverine/Nick Fury: The Scorpio Connection this year, and that totally hit the spot.
    So I had some ups and downs with HVC this year, but I’ll stick with him.

  9. @Ben Lipman: Aw, man. You sound really bummed out about it. It’s okay, probably just a bit of Chaykin Fatigue. Take a break ,read some Devil Dinosaur or Lady Spy. A varied diet is the ticket to a happy comics life!

    This year he’s doing The Shadow in Russia and that existential epic about the dude on a motorbike, the serious one I’ve been waiting for for so long I’ve forgotten the title. It’ll be a good HVC year, but it’ll wait ’til your appetite is back!

    The Scorpio Connection is tons of fun isn’t it? I can’t tell if Archie Goodwin was tailoring it for HVC personally or just taking the piss with all the Chaykin-isms. Fun stuff, glad you liked it.

    Keep smilin’!

  10. @John K Have not bought nor read CENTURY WEST yet but maybe I’ll have to because you cited it as an example of colors looking good on HVC.

    Btw, found a coverless paperback of SUPERMAN: DISTANT FIRES, written and not drawn by HVC, on the floor by the childrens’ section of the library. I read it right then and there. The kids just don’t respect Chaykin.

  11. @Brendan: In the interests of not being responsible for your money I should point out that I’m not really impartial about HVC. So you might want to get Century West out of the library first.

    r.e Superman: Distant Fires: It’s like some benevolent Chaykin Fairy left it for you to find! Art by Gil Kane and Kevin Nowlan! Gil Kane! That book may make no sense but it is still drawn by Gil Kane! I like S:DF. Kids? Little more than animals. I know, I was one.

    Cheers and keep supporting your library!

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