Archive for July, 2008

Into the Longbox

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #19, Aragones, Evanier, Armstrong, Amancio, Austin, Rivoche. I should probably drop this. Three short stories with different artists in which I didn’t like any of the visuals and found some of the writing both uninspired and unbelievable.

Captain America #40, Brubaker, Epting, D’Armata. Not much really happens this issue for the amount that goes on. It’s a fast-paced issue with two sets of foils going at one another concurrently. It’s nice to see Brubaker making jump cuts between the two conflicts using dialog overlaps and other bits of writing. Overall this would be a hard place to jump on, but a fun issue for those of us who’ve been playing along.

Glamourpuss #2, Dave Sim. After Cerebus ended, I didn’t think I’d be reading anything else Sim wrote; as I’ve mentioned before, he can be kind of crazy. But man alive can he draw and write about comics. A student of the medium could learn a fair bit just paging through and looking at the layouts. There are some ramblings on various other topics that are of varying quality, but Glamourpuss is worth it for the art and the discussions of art styles of middle 1900’s comic strips alone. And to be fair, the non-comics stuff has its solid moments as well. The book is remarkably original and remarkably good.

Black Summer #7, Ellis & Ryp. This ended up well enough. The series was an exploration of the envelope of vigilanteism with exercises. Unfortunately, the exercises – that is to say the mayhem – and the ideas didn’t mesh as well as they could have. I think this may be because Ryp’s faces and postures aren’t well suited for conveying subtle nuances of character. His layouts are extremely dynamic and convey the adrenalin rush of combat, but don’t convey soul-searching with any conviction. That’s a shame, because the series should have its share of both. Consequently Ellis’s writing carries the weight of the ideas in this issue. There are a lot of words, and one can see spots where I’d rather have been shown a point than told about it. Overall, the words are worth reading and considering, but the visuals aren’t holding up their end.

Madame Xanadu #2, Wagner and Hadley. These two are in synch. I don’t know if Wagner’s experience drawing is helping with the collaboration or if Hadley’s just remarkably good at doing a lot with her art. Here each page is laid out with a unified theme, usually bled to make use of every millimeter of the paper.  Each page draws out both what’s mechanically happening and what it means to the characters (and the world), and is part of the unified whole of the issue and arc. I’m slighting Wagner’s excellent writing here, but his pacing, plot, and characterization are all right where they need to be to bring out his themes. This is remarkably strong work.

Run like a man!

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I’m guessing that my racewalking friends are not amused by Mr. T.  The AV Club covers the brouhaha.

At long last, a matching aileron

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

A year or more ago, I discovered a crack in the skin of my left aileron, probably caused by someone being careless when washing the plane. I got the aileron re-skinned, but it’s been a hideous sea green color (from the chromate anti-oxidation coating) for some time. A week and a half ago or so I showed up to go fly and Ta-Da – white aileron!

It’s tough to overestimate how much better I think it makes the plane look. I know this is 95% psychological, but I’ve gone from thinking of having the plane repainted every time I fly to just basking it its beauty.

Enjoy these pictures of my aileron.

A few things to check out…

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

George Bush explains the economy (from the BBC).

Excellent interview with Teri Garr on the AV Club.  Everything I’d like to believe about her seems to be true.

Ominous segways from Street Use.

Fanboy confession

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Just so you all know, I did get into a real-world, out-loud discussion today about who would win a fight between R2D2 and Dr. Zaius.  (I was an Artoo supporter.)

Reviews up

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

I’ve got short reviews of Theodore Rex and WLT: A Radio Romance up on Bell, Book, and Candle.


Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Last weekend, on the 5th, I picked up and flew out to Flabob Airport in Riverside. Flabob’s my favorite kind of airport – small and full of activity. There’s a good inexpensive cafe there, and flying in is a good way to sharpen up my uncontrolled field skills. It was very hazy in the basin, partially due to all the wildfires, and not a perfect day for sightseeing from the air. Still it’s always nice to get up and see the world.  I popped in for lunch and a couple turns around the pattern.

On the way home it sounded as if someone had wandered into an airspace they should not have been in. I heard an airliner get a landing clearance canceled. I heard a similar problem last time, which I hope is just bad luck, not an indication of a rise in pilot deviations.

I took a few pictures at Flabob:

Into the Longbox

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Two weeks in here:

Captain America #39, Brubaker, De La Torre, D’Armata. The Skull (?) continues his move, but the good guys are moving, too. From a plot perspective things are on the move more than the characterization this issue, but there are still some nice touches. We get to see Sam and Bucky working on the superhero tradition of talking and fighting simultaneously in a sparring session, and Sin find out once again how ineffective she is against real fighters; fortunately she’s a teen-ager and will never notice it. Still great super-hero work.

Madame Xanadu #1, Matt Wagner & Amy Reeder Hadley. Madame Xanadu is one of the many mystic powers of the DC/Vertigo universe who’s never really been a headliner nor a personal favorite, so it wasn’t out of any love for the character that I picked this up. What drew me to it was Matt Wagner who’s been a favorite creator since his Mage days. Wagner doesn’t disappoint in this issue with a fast-paced, introduction of the players and conflicts in this first arc, set in Arthurian times – obviously a setting with which he has some familiarity. The action is brisk and clear, and though the connection to Madame Xanadu is obscure at this point, it’s very diverting. I expected great things from Wagner, but I’ve never read anything by Hadley. Her art is really breathtaking: every page layout conveys the enormities of the settings and powers at play without slowing the narrative; individual panels are clear and crisp. Even the clouds of pixies that surround the magicians are enjoyable rather than annoying. This is a remarkable combination of storytellers. Well worth checking out.

Glamourpuss #1, Dave Sim. The problem with being Dave Sim – or I suppose one of the problems with being Dave Sim – is that you’ve become such an outsized personality that no matter what you set out to do, part of your work will always be judged partially as a reflection of you personally. Given that Sim is perceived as being either ridiculously conservative on women’s issues or downright misogynistic, when I saw what is apparently a fashion magazine parody from him, I feared the worst. Didn’t stop me from buying it, mind you, but I expected some sort of rant trailing off into incoherence thinly disguised as parody. What I got was something else altogether.

Often when a reviewer throws out that phrase – “something else altogether” – they mean that there was a twist in the plot, or a particularly well executed piece of work that elevated it above expectations. Compared to its front cover, Glamourpuss really is something entirely different. (OK, Roy Thomas’s description on the back cover description is accurate, but who would believe it?) The book includes a (workmanlike) parody of fashion magazines in there that does hit the content advertised in the cover blurbs, but basically it’s 25 pages of Dave Sim polishing his considerable art skills by drawing photorealistic pictures of young girls. And he’s very up front about this inside. This is a Dave Sim sketchbook where he’s translating fashion magazine pictures into comics idiom working from lessons from some of the classics of serial comic strips. The word balloons and captions are mostly a discussion of what he’s learning and how he’s executing the work. It’s remarkably diverting and gorgeous to look at.

Whatever one thinks about Sim’s opinions are on Pressing Issues Of The Day, I think his opinions on the study and creation of comic art are fascinating. I think he’s an authentic genius of the comic page and it’s a delight to find him sharing that genius, especially in this bizarre format. A must.