Sunday, January 9, 2011

BEST COMICS: 2000-2010!

by Charles Burns

It's always best to count the good things in the tough times: here's my favorite graphix from the last decade!

Shortcut links:
> Best Comic
> Best Comics Company +
> Graphic Novels
> Best Collections/ Reissues
> How To
> > Our Creators
> > MVPs
> "Burn, Hollywood, Burn!"
> Movies And TV

> Rest In Power

C O M I C :

Newly expanded for another generation to catch up to real greatness.

-STARSTRUCK, by Elaine Lee, Michael Wm. Kaluta, and Lee Moyer ⇧ _______

STARSTRUCK was one of the greatest comics of the Renaissance '80s. It was better than anything out then, and it still is.

Smart art for hip people. Get the Deluxe Edition collection in March, 2011!

C O M P A N Y :

America's Best Comics

An entire comics line created and written by the Shakespeare of the form, the unassailable ALAN MOORE. Quietly, with mesmerizing grace, Moore created his second revolution, dedicated to putting wonder and fun back into the medium. Everyone has yet to even attempt catching up.

-THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill ⇧ _______

Which ultimately is the story of one extraordinary woman: Mina Harker, and the teams of classic literary heroes she led across a century's span. It takes the conceit of weaving together all literature as if it were all co-existent and true, and pulls it off.

If you heard there is a film, it isn't true. Ignore it.

-PROMETHEA, by Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III, and Mick Gray ⇧ _______

A fully-realized Wonder Woman without any of the restraints. Promethea is the goddess embodiment of human creativity, fluid and endless, the core of our survival. Moore is more ambitious in scope here than can be comprehended, and artist J.H. WILLIAMS III (Batwoman) perfected his craft here re-inventing comic composition to keep up.

-TOP 10, by Alan Moore, Zander Cannon, and Gene Ha ⇧ _______

There will probably never be a more complex and loving homage to the entire history of Comic Strips and Comic Books than this. With layout artist ZANDER CANNON and the astounding ink finishes of GENE HA, this farcical police procedural investigates every last inch of the genres.

-TOP 10, Season 2 (2008), by Zander Cannon and Gene Ha _______
The artists continued the series on in fine form, but were cancelled halfway through their projected 8 issues by publisher treachery.

-TOM STRONG, by Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse, Alan Gordon, and Karl Story ⇧ _______

Tom Strong is every 20th Century hero archetype distilled into one: Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, Superman, Capt. Marvel. Better still, he is the sense of wonder that comics lost in recent decades confusing violence with maturity. Clean, clear, smart, startling, classic stories honed to a shining gleam by penciller CHRIS SPROUSE.

-TOM STRONG And The Robots Of Doom, by Peter Hogan, Chris Sprouse, and Karl Story _______
A solid attempt to continue the series in this 6-issue arc.


-BATWOMAN, by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III ⇧⇧ _______

The best ongoing series being made. She will kick your ass without a blink, on every level.
J.H. WILLIAMS III took the mainstream by storm with his astounding art, in service to crack stories by GREG RUCKA. (Fans of Williams should go back and explore all of PROMETHEA, as well as the early-'80s art of Gene Day on MASTER OF KUNG FU #101-120.)

-THE NEW FRONTIER, by Darwyn Cooke _______

Darwyn recaptures the early-'60s sense of hope and possibility in his retelling of the birth of The Silver Age heroes. Retro art and postmodern smarts.

-BATMAN DEATHBLOW, by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo _______

That art! LEE BERMEJO is one of the best illustrators to ever grace comics. His fully-functional costume designs for Batman and Superman put Hollywood to shame. A marvel of brutal excellence.

SUPERMAN, by Lee Bermejo

-WEDNESDAY Comics, Various Artists ⇧ _______

The most valuable person at DC is editor MARK CHIARELLO, an excellent artist who dreams up progressive projects regularly. Here he resurrects the large Sunday Comics strip pages with 15 strips by top creators, who all use this broad new canvas to the hilt.

-IDENTITY CRISIS, by Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales _______

Amid all the aggro-lescent blowouts that pass for 'big event' comics series anymore, here instead is a sharp and heartbreaking story by best-selling Mystery writer BRAD MELTZER, brought to life with deft humanity by artist RAGS MORALES.

-SHAZAM: Power Of Hope, by Paul Dini and Alex Ross _______

-WONDER WOMAN: Spirit Of Truth, by Paul Dini and Alex Ross ⇧ _______
ALEX ROSS, the finest illustrator in modern comics, is also a fleet storyteller with a kid's wonderful reverence and nostalgia. His huge, handpainted tribute volumes to the essence of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the real Captain Marvel are gems that act as 'how-to' lessons for the current generation.

-THE SPECTRE #1-13, by J.M. Dematteis and Ryan Sook _______
The most lyrical and elegant stylist since P. Craig Russell and Mike Mignola, RYAN SOOK's art is breathtaking in this beautiful run.


And last, an unintentional 'trilogy' of how to do the Man Of Tomorrow correctly...

-SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT, by Mark Waid & Leinil Francis Yu _______

The best and most surprising revamping of his origin and emergence one could imagine, one that SMALLVILLE and SUPERMAN RETURNS yearn to match.

-LUTHOR, by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo _______

LEE BERMEJO returns with this revelatory retooling of Lex Luthor that works inadvertently as a perfect bookend to "Birthright".

-ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely _______

Alan Moore summed up the absolute essence of Superman in his two DC finale stories and with the entire SUPREME series. But GRANT MORRISON gives Alan a terrific run for his money with this wonderfully inspired 'last Superman story'. a bonus rethink of a Clark Kent for our own world.

-SUPERMAN: Secret Identity, by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen _______


-DAREDEVIL, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev ⇧ _______

Adult comics have been better than most any Hollywood film for over two decades. Haunted by Tarantino and Coppola in the best senses, this stunner plays like an illustrated movie of realistic heroism and character depth. ALEX MALEEV's dark and cinematic art is ever amazing for their three year run.

-ALIAS, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos _______

This series is a parallel companion in tone, style, and sometimes story to the DAREDEVIL run mentioned above. Gritty, sarcastic noir tales of private investigator Jessica Jones, a world-weary smart-ass who brooks no fools but who can't seem to escape her shadowy former-superhero past. Irreverent as it is relevant.

(Released at the same time as the ALIAS TV series, there is no relation. In 2015, the JESSICA JONES series debuted on Netflix.)

-1602, by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert _______

Perhaps as close to a THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN as Marvel will ever get, courtesy of maestro Gaiman.

-THE ETERNALS, by Neil Gaiman and John Romita, Jr. _______

Neil Gaiman does Jack Kirby. Nuff said.

-X-FORCE/ X-STATIX, by Peter Milligan and Mike Allred _______

Imagine the classic Lee-Kirby Silver Age comics done as a scathing satire of the 21st century multi-media machine. Timeless retro art, surreal fun, and an unsparing critique of poison glamour and slick greed. You'll laugh, you'll think, you'll cringe at your world!

-EARTH X, by Alex Ross and Jean Paul Leon _______

In the wake of the magisterial KINGDOM COME for DC, Alex Ross proved his writing chops by pulling off the impossible stunt of making a cohesive cosmic history of Marvel's past while charting its best future. JEAN PAUL LEON couldn't be a more opposite artist in terms of style, but the zen essence of his bold brushwork is letter perfect.


-PLANETARY, by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday ⇧ _______

While Alan Moore reinterpreted all the wonders of 20th pop culture through TOM STRONG, WARREN ELLIS does an alternate take through an askew lens with stark clarity and nuanced sophistication.

-EX MACHINA, by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris _______

A tour-de-force of realistic heroes and the sociopolitical ramifications of their acts.


-Y: THE LAST MAN, by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra _______

Everyone loves this series. For me this was Good to Very Good, with some great moments. Wanted more from it, but still worth the journey.

-THE UNWRITTEN, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross _______

An adult reimagining of the same English tradition of British magic fantasy that Harry Potter springs from, this canny series plays with those expectations and subverts them at every turn.



-PUBLIC ENEMY, by Chuck D and Adam Wallenta _______

'The Only RAP Band That Matters'* become a different variant of heroes in this fun and pointed 12 issue series. A sorely needed infusion of African-American consciousness into a medium long short of it.

*That's a Clash joke, for any of you hotheads out there.

N O V E L S :


H E R O I C S :

-TOP 10: The Forty-Niners, by Alan Moore and Gene Ha

-BATWOMAN: Elegy, by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III


A R T :

-THE PLOT: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, by Will Eisner
-BERLIN: City Of Stone, by Jason Lutes
-BERLIN: City Of Smoke, by Jason Lutes
-PERSEPOLIS, by Marjane Satrapi

-BLACK HOLE, by Charles Burns
-ASTERIOS POLYP, by David Mazzucchelli
-GEMMA BOVERY, by Posy Simmonds, (1999)
-TAMARA DREWE, by Posy Simmonds

-THE QUITTER, by Harvey Pekar and Dean Haspiel
-BLANKETS, by Craig Thompson
-FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic, by Alison Bechdel
-THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL: An Account in Words and Pictures, by Phoebe Gloeckner

-SHORTCOMINGS, by Adrian Tomine
-BLACKSAD, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido
-SCOTT PILGRIM, by Bryan Lee O'Malley
-LA PERDIDA, by Jessica Abel

-SMILE, by Raina Telgemeier


D R E A M S :

-SERENITY: The Shepard's Tale, by Zach Whedon and Chris Samnee
-VIMANARAMA, by Grant Morrison and Philip Bond

-CORALINE, by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell
-THE SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS, by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

-SUPERMAN: Earth One, by J. Michael Straczynski, Shane Davis, and Sandra Hope
-Michael Chabon's THE ESCAPISTS, by Brian K. Vaughan, Philip Bond, and Jason Shawn Alexander

C O L L E C T I O N S /
R E I S S U E S :

1: Gil Kane
2: Jack Kirby


S C H O O L :


To learn directly from the great masters, buy the affordable Showcase (DC) and Essential Marvel (MARVEL) trade paperbacks. These 500 page archives of classic comics printed in the original black-and-white line are a treasure trove for teaching aspiring artists.

-"KRAZY & IGNATZ in 'Tiger Tea'", by George Herriman _______

The most surreal and loopy storyline that GEORGE HERRIMAN ever did.

-WONDER WOMAN Chronicles, vol.1, by Wm. Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter _______

Over the years the 'clean line' style of greats like Carl Barks, Herge, and C.C. Beck have earned the respect they always deserved. This volume should turn similar respect to H.G. PETER, the original Wonder Woman artist for her first two decades. His spiraling art nouveau cartoon style is one of comicdom's neglected secret treasures.

-HARVEY COMICS Classics, Vol. 1-5, by various artists _______

The timeless and fun stories are enlivened by the rounded and happy house style of WARREN KREMER, a master class in pop economy.

-FLASH GORDON: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic, by Al Williamson _______

Carrying on the fine tradition of Alex Raymond, here is EC Comics artisan AL WILLIAMSON showing you how it's done.

-MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER 4000 A.D., Vol. 1-3, by Russ Manning _______

RUSS MANNING's ultrasleek style and snappy action adventures are timeless, and a direct influence on Dave Cockrum, Dave Stevens, Steve Rude, and Mike Allred.

-The Complete PEANUTS 1967-1970, Vol. 9-10 , by Charles Schultz
-The Complete PEANUTS 1971-1974, Vol. 11-12 , by Charles Schultz _______

In responding to the counterculture with empathy, CHARLES SCHULTZ's popular newspaper strip inherited the mantle from POGO as a social bellwether while becoming a pop phenomenon.

-Jack Kirby's FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS, 1-4, by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer _______

The New Gods books have more great ideas in five pages than most series do in decades. JACK KIRBY did virtually everything first and better than anyone.

-SUPERMAN vs. MUHAMMED ALI giant size facsimile edition, by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams _______

The most improbable comic story of all time is also one of The Greatest Of All Time. DENNY O'NEIL's story carries you from intimate urban streets to galactic warfare without a sweat, and NEAL ADAM's art is the best of his career (which is saying a lot).

-THE ROCKETEER: The Complete Adventures, by Dave Stevens _______

DAVE STEVENS was a terrific artist and storyteller, and a great guy. Here's everything you need to know why.

-XENOZOIC TALES, Vol. 1 and 2, by Mark Schultz _______

Inspired by Frank Frazetta's '50s comics work, MARK SCHULTZ is a fine illustrator in his own right on full throttle here with dinosaurs and cadillacs.

-CAGES, by Dave McKean ⇧ _______

We never got Moore and Sienkiewicz's BIG NUMBERS in finished form, but we did get this complex, chameleonic epic from premiere illustrator DAVE McKEAN.

-AMERICAN SPLENDOR, by Harvey Pekar with R. Crumb, etc. _______

Puts together the two trade paperbacks of the '80s that ignited public appreciation of HARVEY PEKAR, back in print in time for the excellent movie.

-THE ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR, by Alison Bechdel _______

ALISON BECHDEL's graphic novel FUN HOME was Time's Book Of The Year 2006. Here's 20 years of her epic and intimate comic strip to school us in how she learned her craft so well.

-X-ED OUT, by Charles Burns _______

A postpunk Tintin, by CHARLES BURNS. How can you lose?

-A CHILD'S LIFE and Other Stories, by Phoebe Gloeckner _______

Brutal truth, sensitive stories, sharp illustration...PHOEBE GLOECKNER does it all.


L E A R N I N G :

Alan Moore

-FROM HELL, by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell _______

The most complex, all-inclusive, well-researched, and quietly subversive account of Jack The Ripper ever created.

-LOST GIRLS, by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie _______

Alan turns literature and erotica inside out, while MELINDA GEBBBIE -his life partner and feminist underground comix pioneer- pays homage to Von Bayros, Mucha, Schiele, and Beardsley along the torrid way.

-SUPREME: The Return, by Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse _______

The greatest Superman stories never told.

-SUPREME: Story of the Year, by Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse _______

Still more of the greatest Superman stories never told.

T O :

We're blessed in this age to have the most well-trained artists and writers in comics history, thanks to progressive colleges and republished archives.
If you want to know how to do this, there's never been a better time to learn how the right way:

-COMICS AND SEQUENTIAL ART: Principles and Practices, by Will Eisner

-UNDERSTANDING COMICS, by Scott McCloud _______
I went to the oldest art school on the West Coast. Turns out this had a better grasp on the fundamentals of artmaking than anything I ever read there.
-MAKING COMICS, by Scott McCloud

-The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics, by Dennis O'Neil
-The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics, by Klaus Janson
-The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics, by Freddie E. Williams II
-The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics, by Klaus Janson
-The DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics, by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein

-DRAWING WORDS AND WRITING PICTURES: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden

C R E A T O R S :

There are a wealth of retrospective books about the great artists out nowadays. Here are a few terrific ones.

C O M I C S :

-WILL EISNER: A Dreamer's Life in Comics, by Michael Schumacher
-WILL EISNER: A Spirited Life, by Bob Andelman
-WILL EISNER: Portrait of a Sequential Artist (DVD), by Andrew D. Cooke ⇧ _______
It's easy to single someone as The One when they're so great. WILL EISNER was part of a pantheon of great creators who triggered and defined the graphix arts, but his singular innovations leave him without peer.

-KRIGSTEIN, vol. 1, by Greg Sadowski
-KIRBY: King Of Comics, by Mark Evanier
-ALAN MOORE: Portrait Of An Extraordinary Gentleman, tribute by 145 creators
-MYTHOLOGY, by Alex Ross

-Modern Masters, v.12: MICHAEL GOLDEN
-COMIC BOOK ARTIST #6: Will Eisner, a trade paperback tributing the late WILL EISNER by the entire industry.


I L L U S T R A T I O N :

-JOSEPH CLEMENT COLL: A Legacy in Line, edited by John Fleskes

-FRANKLIN BOOTH: American Illustrator, by Manuel Auad ⇧ _______
One folly of youth is to think that the here and now is the ultimate fruition. Only in a relay handoff tied by respect. But, without that respect, good traditions are lost and things devolve. Just look at classical illustrators like COLL, BOOTH, and CLARA ELSENE PECK, and you're reminded quite handily what timeless quality really is.

-The Brinkley Girls: The Best of NELL BRINKLEY's Cartoons from 1913-1940, by Trina Robbins _______
TRINA ROBBINS has done more to rediscover and canonize the women of comics than everyone else combined. All of her books will lead you to a wider dimension of appreciation.

-RGK: The Art Of ROY G. KRENKEL _______
The works of the fine illustrator, from EC Comics to his paperback covers.

-Wings of Twilight: The Art of MICHAEL KALUTA

-The Art Of JEFFREY JONES, by Arnie Fenner and Cathy Fenner _______
JONES and KALUTA are among the modern masters who have continued the finest tradition of the great illustrators.


M A G A Z I N E S :

-BLACK AND WHITE IMAGES, edited by Jim Vadeboncoeur
-ALTER EGO, edited by Roy Thomas ⇧ _______

While there should be retrospective books about him, it was this magazine (issue #47) that finally gave us the most detailed overview of the career and work of MATT BAKER (Phantom Lady), one of the few African American artists permitted into the Golden Age Of Comics.


-COMIC BOOK ARTIST, vol. 1 (Two Morrows) and vol. 2 (Top Shelf)

-DODGEM LOGIC, edited by Alan Moore _______
An underground grab-bag of conceptual curios and mayhemic mentalities, from ringmaster MOORE and his colourful cadre of calamitous creatives.


H I S T O R Y :

H I S T O R Y :


CHABON won the Pulitzer Prize for his epic reimagining of the Golden Age Of Comics, and brought a generation of new eyes to deities like WILL EISNER, LOU FINE, JACK KIRBY, and JIM STERANKO who inspired the book.

-MEN OF TOMORROW: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book, by Gerard Jones _______

Exhaustively researched overview of the entirety of how comic books came to be, from the sacred to the sordid.

-THE 10-CENT PLAGUE: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, by David Hajdu _______

The story of EC Comics, the most redical innovator in '50s comics... and how the government destroyed it.


P R O G R E S S :

-REBEL VISIONS: The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975, by Patrick Rosenkranz
-EROTIC COMICS: A Graphic History from Tijuana Bibles to Underground Comix, by Tim Pilcher
-EROTIC COMICS 2: A Graphic History from the Liberated '70s to the Internet, by Tim Pilcher

-JACKIE ORMES: The First African American Woman Cartoonist, by Nancy Goldstein ⇧ _______
Although MATT BAKER hasn't gotten the book he deserves yet, luckily JACKIE ORMES has. Learn about her struggles and triumphs as a comic artist, writer, and designer in the turbulent '50s.
-BLACK COMIX: African American Independent Comics, Art and Culture, by Damian Duffy


O L Y M P U S :

-SUPERMAN: The Complete History, by Les Daniels
-BATMAN: The Complete History, by Les Daniels
-WONDER WOMAN: The Complete History, by Les Daniels

-SHAZAM! The Golden Age Of The World's Mightiest Mortal, by Chip Kidd
-KIMOTA: The Miracleman Companion, by George Khoury ⇧ _______
Learn the whole crazy history of one of comics' most revolutionary and essential characters; how he went from Marvelman to Miracleman, and the legal labyrinth therein.
With the talents of ALAN MOORE, NEIL GAIMAN, JOHN TOTLEBEN, MARK BUCKINGHAM, and ALAN DAVIS, what more do you want?

W E B S I T E S:

- Golden Age Comic Book Stories
- Bud Plant's Art Books
- Robot 6
- Newsarama

- Girls Read Comics Too
- AfriComics

P L A Y E R S :


L: Darwyn Cooke;
R: My painted acrylic homage to Darwyn Cooke >

A former animator on the quintessential '90s BATMAN cartoons by Bruce Timm, Cooke proved himself 'the man with the golden pen' throughout the decade.

-CATWOMAN ⇧ _______
Cooke retooled Selina Kyle as a reformed and complex woman in Mod DIY biker's leathers. Ed Brubaker's no-frills realistic noir stories belied the simple grace of the art with a gritty depth that built and built. Sadly, Hollywood destroyed it all making a clueless movie for clueless people instead.

After only four issues, Darwyn made a prequel graphic novel with the heist that led Selina to this new resurrection.

The dawn of the Justice League in the Kennedy era of hope, with a Wonder Woman you do not cross.

-THE SPIRIT _______
Leery of taking on the loaded course of reviving the most innovative series in comics history, he did just fine balancing the past with the modern. His final act was the best, retelling the ultimate Spirit story about Sand Sarif, but in a lovingly exact capturing of Will Eisner's modern graphic novel style. Pitch perfect and heartwarming.

-PARKER: The Hunter, PARKER: The Outfit _______
Now Cooke is taking all the industry awards with his hardboiled adaptions of Richard Stark's brusque anti-hero.


Morrison proved to be 'the man with the golden keyboard' this decade.

The millennium started with Morrison killing it and rebooting it in the grand finale of his subversive conceptual molotov series. This book from the late 90's probably jumpstarted Alan Moore into his brilliant ABC Comics years, and most definitely inspired THE MATRIX trilogy.

-WE 3 _______
Three animals and a story that effortlessly balances soulful empathy against brutal bureaucracy. This is what would convince a new reader that comics are Art.

An elegant and majestic summation of everything touching and wondrous about the greatest hero of them all.

If 1971 Jack Kirby and 1985 Alan Moore had a jam session, it would probably be as cool and inspired as this. A collage epic of seven different series, four issues each, that redefine Kirby for the post-Vertigo era, and bring Silver Age wonder back in to redeem all that darkness. Alive with inspiration.

The art is often staggering. J.H Williams III does line-perfect homages to the art styles of Jean (Moebius) Giraud's "Lt. Blueberry", Jack Kirby's "New Gods", and Winsor McCay's "Little Nemo". And then homages all seven artists from the other Soldier titles all side-by-side in one story: including disparate styles like Simone Bianchi, Ryan Sook, and Doug Mahnke. Whoa.

Moore makes collage puzzles that have an underlying symmetry, Morrison makes kaleidoscope headgames based on chaos theory. The concepts are so fast and furious that relishing the details matters more than any cohesive whole. Morrison manages to payoff his Seven Soldiers set-ups, give Jack Kirby one of the best epilogues possible, and make an epic bookend for "Crisis On Infinite Earths" (1986). Wow!

-BATMAN titles _______
Morrison took his 'Death of Batman' story as a chance to rebuild him for the future. In connected Bat-family titles he has expanded the Batman concept into a global task force, while perfecting his particular blend of Silver Age fun, Vertigo edge, and freestyle freakiness. Time will look back at this as one of the pivotal, crucial arcs in the character's advancement.


Coz, hey, who has all the money in the world? (Greedy corporations who aren't real people.)

-FABLES, by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Laialoha
-ASTRO CITY, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson

-THE BEATS: A Graphic History, by Harvey Pekar
-LOVE AND ROCKETS: New Stories", by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez

-NEED MORE LOVE: A graphic Memoir, by Aline Kominsky-Crumb
-ALEC, by Eddie Campbell

This has been all about the good things to enjoy out of the decade. But here's some bad nonsense that should end.


-immature Mutant comics

-Mercenary Killer comics

-cosmic Events with rambling plots and no heart

-violent Cheap Shock comics

-bubblebodied Bimbos for chuckleheads comics

-macho masturbation Crime comics by Tarantino wanna-bes

-stunt Hero Death comics

-cynical rebootings of Once Great Characters by ad-hoc committees

-anything that smells of R&D from the Corporate Mafias who just stole the comics companies

-Also, Bad Movie adaptations by stupid studios...

B U R N ,
H O L L Y W O O D ,
B U R N !

a.k.a., Suits Are Stupid, Dept.:

(V enters) "Some observations, by someone who cares. Let's begin."

Art by David Lloyd

  • A clue for you. Y: THE LAST MAN can't be adapted into a two-hour film because it's meant to be five seasons of 13-episode arcs on a forward-thinking Cable station. Since you bothered to do that for THE WALKING DEAD...the solution is abvious. Hint: this also applies to THE SANDMAN.
  • SUPERMAN is not meant to be 'dark'. His villains need to be more powerful and darker to let him shine.
  • SUPERMAN RETURNS did everything right. And it made more money than BATMAN BEGINS. Writing off its quality success with the back load of your Bad '90s Development Debt is only your covering your own mistakes.
  • You don't know what to do with WONDER WOMAN because you think she's just a hottie in a bikini. If you make a faithful movie about the compassionate gladiator instead, it will be a worldwide smash.
Art by Alex Ross
  • New rule: one villain, one great story. Period. Example proven, SPIDER-MAN 2.
  • Screwing Sam Raimi over by cramming too many bad suggestions into SPIDER-MAN 3, and then firing him to make a teen-friendly reboot doesn't impress anyone.
  • The phrase "TURN OFF THE DARK" is a non-sequiter that makes the medium look that much stupider.
  • Gutting Ed Norton's character depth from THE INCREDIBLE HULK for an 'action cut' was wrong. Cutting his excellent Rio opening out of the Special Edition dvd instead of putting those scenes back in was just spitefully wrong. Meanwhile, the character-driven DARK KNIGHT wiped you off the map.
  • If you had done Brubaker's and Cooke's CATWOMAN instead, it would have been a smart character noir with Riot Grrrl appeal and cost no money beyond leathers and a cycle. Where's your impatient ReBoot Dept. for that?
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL is a man, Billy Batson is a separate kid. Don't get foolish by conflating them just to give us BIG (1988) in a cape.
Art by Brian Bolland
  • Elaine Lee's VAMPS series for Vertigo Comics would've made a smarter choice for a Cable vampire series than any of the bad Whitebread Romance Novel flicks you've glutted the market with.
  • AMERICAN SPLENDOR and PERSEPOLIS are the right way to go. Make smart, cheap Indie films out of adult works like LOVE AND ROCKETS, CAGES, and THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL.
  • It's possible to do animated films now that retain an artist's line style using computer programming. Wake up: make animated films in the actual line styles of Jack Kirby ("New Gods"), Herge ("Tintin"), and Milton Caniff ("Terry And The Pirates").
  • Don't show us an entire film in the trailer six months before it comes out. We've seen it all and lose anticipation.
  • The money people who greenlight these films should know and understand the medium they are drawing them from. Respect breeds respect.
  • We revere the writers and artists who created the storylines you use as fodder for films. They should be credited, paid, and their works artistically respected by your money machine.
  • Great movies are made by creative people, like Christopher Nolan. This does not include bean-counters, so let them do the real work and leave them alone.
  • We will support Quality. We will destroy Junk. Do right by us and earn the profits.

Art by David Lloyd

"Good evening." (Exits)

> FourColorFilms: THE Comics Film Review Site!

T V :

I write and illustrate reviews of all comics-sourced films at the Four Color Films site.
So I guess I should put my money where my mouthiness was...

Art by Tym Stevens,
directly after David Lloyd


- - - - - - - - G R E A T - - - - - - - -

Art by Tym Stevens

-UNBREAKABLE (2000) _______
The right way to do it, as an engaging human story with some mystery and nobility.

-ROAD TO PERDITION (2002) _______
> Four Color Films review
-HERO (2002)
Zhang Yimou can do no wrong. A good story is a good story.

-AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003) _______
> Four Color Films review
The other right way to do it: indie character films made from indie character books.
-X2: X-Men United (2003) _______
> Four Color Films review
Takes it all on, pulls it all off.
-MATRIX RELOADED (2003) _______
The best Catwoman movie never made.
-MATRIX REVOLUTIONS (2003) _______
The best Superman movie not made.

We exist because of the Pulps. Never forget.
-SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004) _______
> Four Color Films review
One villain. One great story.
-GHOST IN THE SHELL II: Innocence (2004) _______
Another way to do it right; Art And Text becomes Art And Sound.
-THE INCREDIBLES (2004) _______
Arguably the purest superhero movie ever made in reverence and spirit. Definitely the only Fantastic Four movie yet made.
-KILL BILL, 1 and 2 (2004) _______
There are not enough strong, well-rounded women portrayed in any media.

-MIRRORMASK (2005) _______
The undersung indie film by NEIL GAIMAN and DAVE McKEAN.
-BATMAN BEGINS (2005) _______
> Four Color Films review
Perfect, and only the warm-up.

-HOLLYWOODLAND (2006) _______
The real death of Superman.
-V FOR VENDETTA (2006) _______
> Four Color Films review
A film that 100% respects the work it came from, even in its changes.
-CASINO ROYALE (2006) _______
A James Bond you care about. Brilliant!
-RENAISSANCE (2006) _______
Cult hit French animation in future noir black'n'white, voiced by Daniel Craig.

-SUPERMAN RETURNS (2007) _______
> Four Color Films review
Not only completes the first two Christopher Reeve films as a perfect trilogy, but lifts our Man into Alex Ross' compassionate savior.
-PERSEPOLIS (2007) _______
There are not enough strong, well-rounded women portrayed in any media.

-HELLBOY II (2008) _______
> Four Color Films review
Huge and poetic and funny.
-THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) _______
> Four Color Films review
The epitome. The GODFATHER II of graphix films.
Smart, fun, affectionate.

-WATCHMEN (2009) _______
> Four Color Films review
It's all there, done with total respect and smart embellishment.

-TAMARA DREWE (2010) _______
> Four Color Films review
A smart, good film of a much deeper, brilliant graphic novel by Posy Simmonds.
-SCOTT PILGRIM vs. THE WORLD (2010) _______
> Four Color Films review
Plug in, Tune Up, Blast off!


T V :

-Misfits (uk) _______
If "Heroes" was Marvel, then MISFITS is Vertigo. Rich, tough, shocking, hilarious.
-Alias, season 2 _______
Lena Olin.
-The Tick _______
Too funny, too little support.
-Spaced (uk) _______
Find out where Simon Pegg and his director Edgar Wright got their start. A smack perfect love letter to 'geek' fandom.
-The Middleman _______
Goofy fun, crack lines, pop culture in-jokes galore, created by writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach (LOST).
-Smallville, season 10 _______
Once the real mythos kicked in, it now roars on all cylinders.


A N I M A T E D :

-Samurai Jack
-Powerpuff Girls _______
There are not enough strong, well-rounded girls portrayed in any media.

-Batman: Gotham Knight
-The New Frontier


D O C U M E N T A R Y :

-The Mindscape Of Alan Moore
-Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked


Art by Tym Stevens

- - - - - - - - G O O D - - - - - - - -

-FROM HELL (2001) _______
> Four Color Films review
If you're going to do 2/5 of the story, this is a pretty apt way to compress it. But read the book for epic depth.
-SPIDER-MAN (2002) _______
> Four Color Films review
-HELLBOY (2004) _______
> Four Color Films review
-GHOST WORLD _______
> Four Color Films review
There are not enough strong, well-rounded grrrls portrayed in any media. Note how 90% of this blog's lists are male and pale.
-HULK (2003) and INCREDIBLE HULK (2008) _______
> Four Color Films review
> Four Color Films review
-CONSTANTINE (2005) _______
> Four Color Films review
Is it different being American? Yeah. But the essence is there and it works as its own Elseworlds take.
-SIN CITY (2005) _______
> Four Color Films review
-A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005) _______
> Four Color Films review
> Four Color Films review
-IRON MAN (2008) and IRON MAN II (2010) _______
> Four Color Films review
> Four Color Films review
-HANCOCK (2008) _______
While IRON MAN was really BATMAN BEGINS-Lite with some laughs, this odd film seemed like it was missing its third act. It was that lack of formula that charmed me. When fun is enough.
-PUSH (2009) _______
If this had been an adaption of an existing Vertigo series, maybe it would've gotten more credit. Great texture, fun action, just enough heart.


Art by Tym Stevens

P L E A S U R E S :

Hey. You like what you like.

-DAREDEVIL (2003) _______
> Four Color Films review
Sure, they compressed his finest storyline too much: Elektra. But in general, for tone and details, it did everything pretty right.
-ELEKTRA (2005) _______
> Four Color Films review
Forgetting our baggage and expectations, this is actually a fine Hong Kong action film on its own merits.
-MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND (2006) _______
Can't watch Superman/Lois flying scenes the same way again after this.
-WHITEOUT (2009) _______
> Four Color Films review
A decent alternate take of the graphic novel, with most of its essence. Not brilliant but not bad.


T V :

-Heroes _______
The tired line: "I liked it in the beginning, then it lost it." Not true; they got better at cohesive arcs and actual character exponentially up to the fine ending.
-Smallville, seasons 1-9 _______
Started fresh but fell into formula and stalemate. Lois and Green Arrow lifted it toward its refreshed second half.
-Dollhouse _______
Half-baked and half-brilliant. The bookend finales about the future drug it up to its highest potential in the end.


Art by Tym Stevens

- - - - - - - - G O D - A W F U L - - - - - - - -

-CATWOMAN (2004) _______
How to insult the character, the fans, women, and the popcorn crowd in one disposable go.
-THE PUNISHERs (2004, 2008) _______
-300 (2007) _______
A circle jerk for jerks.
-WANTED (2008) _______
After seeing this for free, I wanted $12 back.
-TRANSFORMERS (ad infinitum)
-G.I. JOE (2009)
-KICK-ASS (2010)
-JONAH HEX (2010)

-THE SPIRIT (2008) _______
This movie broke my heart. The 'Citizen Kane of Comics' reduced to an episode of the '60s Batman show, by a director who should know better both ways. A capitol crime.

"The Spirit", for real, by Will Eisner


  • Don Martin
  • Gil Kane
  • Charles M. Schulz
  • Edward Gorey
  • Dick Sprang
  • Carl Barks
  • Dorothy Woolfolk
  • Johnny Craig
  • Gray Morrow
  • Dan DeCarlo
  • John Buscema
  • Kurt Schaffenberger
  • Warren Kremer
  • Guido Crepax
  • Julius Schwartz
  • Kate Worley
  • Will Eisner
  • Dale Messick
  • Alex Toth
  • Dave Cockrum
  • Martin Nodell
  • Arnold Drake
  • Steve Gerber
  • Dave Stevens
  • Will Elder
  • Creig Flessel

From you, we exist.
Because of you, we persist.

Nuff said, pilgrim. Excelsior!

© Tym Stevens

See Also:
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-FourColorFilms: THE Comics Film Review Site!


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1 comment:

StevenErnest said...

You're right about Superman needing dark villains to shine. But "Superman Returns" failed artistically for several reasons. It had too much fat, could have had about 20 minutes or so cut. It was to slavish to the first Christopher Reeve film, however wonderful it was at the time. Luthor was still a silly villain. We needed more originality.