Wednesday, January 25, 2006

City of Glass; PMS; robots.

Carpal tunnel is a bitch. I might say that along with Andrew Jackson, homophobia, PMS, trolls, and lactose, it is part of my Gallery of Rogues. I'm not sure who or what is in Amy's rogues gallery, but I can guess that Ron Marz probably has a strong presence. He and his army of androbots.

I took the day off today because I'm being mind controlled by the PMSculator and I don't want to accidentally decapitate any of my classmates. So what do I do? I blog.

The two of us are both taking Comics and Animation in America this semester (AMS 270). This is the first time I have ever had a class with Amy, and she has managed to make me giggle uncontrollably while covering the Holocaust (via Maus, of course) by taking notes in cartoon form and drawing herself punching Scott McCloud (right cross: KRAK! My God, Joe, the teeth!). What the unassuming internet does not know is that she is actually quite a good cartoonist. She stopped doing a lot of art after she quit her online drawing forum, even though she has *two* tablets, but I think I have finally convinced her to be my collaborator on a comics project. Here's to hoping.

I should go to the library and watch some Korean television drama for my Asian Film class, but I'd rather sit here and start work on a script to give her. I haven't done any creative projects of substance other than some poems since I finished One Dozen Black Roses, my last screenplay.

Anyway, the actually comics-related portion of this post is that I just finished reading City of Glass, which is a comics adaptation by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli (the latter did Batman: Year One) of a novel by Paul Auster. It was assigned for our comics class, and it is terrific. It is a detective story, but the detective is fake, and it reminds me more of Jorge Luis Borges's "Death and the Compass" (aka Muerte y la Brujula) than any crime story I've ever read. It is about the power of lies and words to shape reality, and if you don't like postmodern stuff where the author shows up in the story, stay away. However, if you are somewhat depressed by the state of your superhero pull list (like me) and looking for a great high-concept graphic novel, I highly recommend it. I am sure Amy will not be drawing cartoons of herself punching the author of this work.

Friday, January 06, 2006

What's wrong with this picture?

Geoff Johns shuffles into Dan DiDio's office, clearly upset.

"Hey, Dan, I've got a problem."

"What's the matter, sweetie? Come on over here and tell me all about it."

DiDio winks flirtatiously. Johns pulls a chair up to his boss's desk.

"Gosh, this is really hard to talk about. I've been having--"

DiDio cuts him off. "Is it that time of the month again?"

Johns stares across the desk in horror. "No, that's not it at all. You see, I'm really uncomfortable with the climate around this office."

"Was Jim Lee being mean to you again? I can talk to him if you want, but you've got to toughen up. It's time to be a big boy, Geoff. There's no crying in baseball, if you know what I mean."

Johns's frustration increases. He knew this was going to happen. But he tries again.

"I don't mean to sound whiny, Dan, but I think this office has a problem with..."

"Come on, spit it out."

"Sexism. There, I said it. This place is sexist. I can't walk through this building without a dozen people wolf whistling or calling me 'baby'."

DiDio rolls his eyes. "What did I say about toughening up? Boys will be boys, after all."

"It's not just that. Hardly anyone here will look me in the eye when they talk to me--they're always staring at my chest."

"Well, you are showing it off all the time, leaving the collar unbuttoned on those hot little oxford shirts. If you don't want men checking out your merchandise, cover yourself up for once."

"But Dan, George Perez can't keep his hands off me! I was trying to talk to him about the art for IC #3, but I can't get anything done with his hand inching up my thigh. I ran out of the room. What else could I do? Then afterwards, he told all the other guys in the office that I'm a cocktease."

DiDio sighs. "How do I know that that even happened?"


"How do I know that you don't just want attention? You show off that cute little butt in those tight khaki pants all day, and then when that doesn't get you noticed, you go around making baseless accusations. I bet you're just jealous."

Johns stands up from his chair. "Dan, I thought you would understand."

And that was the day that Geoff Johns quit comics forever. But there was another cute writer to take his place, one who didn't complain about being ogled by his peers, constantly disrespected, and assaulted by his editor. So no one even noticed that Geoff was gone.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

In totally uncontroversial news...

Sometimes, you realize something that should have been obvious much sooner. I submit for your approval or scorn a comparison: on the left, Rahne Sinclair, my beloved New Mutant Wolfsbane, as drawn by Ryan Sook. On the right, my beloved girlfriend, Amy, in an undated webcam photo taken earlier during our college career.

I think this is very funny. However, to my knowledge, Amy is not a were-lesbian.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Very Special Green Lantern Special

As promised, I now present to you Green Lantern Special #1. I figure, why dwell on violence against women in comics when there's such a...unique example of racial violence in my collection as well. I love "very special episode" comics. I have two different copies of the mini where Death and John Constantine talk about fighting AIDS. But this just bizarre. The worst thing is that while a large part of the issue is about how bad apartheid is, it concludes that the freedom fighters are as bad as the government because they also engage in violence.

The setup: Hal Jordan is always broke. John Stewart, trying to get him to stop sleeping on his couch, tells him to go steal diamonds from South Nambia while nobody's looking. They couldn't possibly miss them, right? But they catch him. This is very bad.

But it gets worse. Since John Stewart has a public identity as the Green Lantern, when South Nambians see Hal stealing from their mine, they assume it was John. John gets extradited to stand trial. In a racist country. With apartheid.

The South Nambian authorities try to coerce John into signing a fake confession. And then they beat him up some more.

Hal visits John in jail and convinces him to use his ring to break out. He does so and initiates a large scale prison break. Then he joins up with another guy who broke out to fight apartheid and destory rich white people's property. But there's more. As it turns out, in busting up the prison, John also freed a MURDERER!

The boy can't do anything least with Christopher Priest writing him. In the end, John almost helps in a terrorist attack against the South Nambian government, but Hal shows up to stop him (after some coersion by everbody's favorite bastion of law, Superman).

Yay for Hal getting punched in the face...sorry, Amy.

Hal and John's relationship in this era is described very accurately as schlemiel and schlamazel. A schlemiel is a bumbling idiot, and a schlamazel is a chronically unlucky person. To put it one way, the schlemiel is the guy who always spills his drink, and the schlamazel is the one he is spilling his drink on. Hal does a lot of things that cause him no problems but make John's life pretty miserable--a sad cycle of mistakes and consequences.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Some things are worth ignoring canon for.

So I finally got the Showcase Green Lantern trade for Christmas. I've really enjoyed reading it, both for the history (the origins of major characters, the first time Hal uses a boxing glove construct, etc.) as well as comparing this version of "rookie Hal" to the versions presented in Emerald Dawn and DC: the New Frontier.

But one panel stopped me cold.

I absolutely refuse to believe Hal Jordan went to college. You'll never, ever be able to convince me otherwise. I don't care if it's canon, I don't care if the image of Hal as Idiot Frat Guy works on a certain level. Some things are more important.

I know, deep down, this conviction is all wrapped up in my ideosyncracies that equate Hal Jordan with both Chuck Yeager and my dad, neither of whom graduated from college. But there's more to it.

It is extremely important that not all of the Green Lanterns of Earth have a college degree. They should be as socioeconomically different as possible. To present them any other way is ignoring one of the most profound elements of the whole Green Lantern mythos.

That is: in order to be a Green Lantern, you need to be two things:

  • completely honest
  • totally without fear

That's it. Honesty and fearlessness. It doesn't matter what race you are, or what class you're from, how much money you make or how much education you have.

As long as you're trustworthy and brave, as long as you work hard and believe in justice, you can gain the power to overcome any obstacle -- to do anything you can imagine, as long as you have the willpower to see it through.

The Green Lantern Corps has no officers, save for the symbolic (and now defunct) three-member Honor Guard. Rookie GLs defer to their seniors because of experience, not hierarchy. All Corps members are treated equally, whether they're an Air Force test pilot, an architect from the inner city of Detroit, a gym teacher with a disability, an out-of-work graphic artist... or an over-idealistic lesbian from Middle-of-Nowhere, Michigan.

They each have an equal shot at proving themselves worthy of the ring.

They're not perfect people, of course. They bicker over women and harbor petty grudges. They say dumb things sometimes and get hit on the head a lot. But for all their faults, all their flaws and all their failures, they represent a single, beautiful, absolute truth:

Strive to be the best human being you can be, and someday your rocket ship will come.

I can believe in that.