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Author Topic: Guilty pressures  (Read 12718 times)
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Council of Wisdom
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« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2006, 12:25:28 PM »

Actually, I just re-read my Ron Marz 1997 GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL and it wasn't as good as I say it was.

For one thing, one really important developments (GL befriending the Amphib) is covered in narrative caption! And though Marz keeps on saying that the Princess "can take care of herself," the only point we see her do anything is in an ASTRO CITY-style single panel in the middle of a "tell-don't-show" montage sequence. In fact, there are all sorts of things that just don't matter: you could take out the encounter with the Balloon Fish and the eating plant and the story would be EXACTLY THE SAME.

And then we have Marz's torturous use of first-person caption boxes. It's a miracle that my wrists remain unslitted after experiencing such psychic masturbation as "Sometimes I feel I'm in competition with myself, the artist vs. the hero. But I need to know I can do both." GAH!

And it's another one of those Green Lantern stories, the worst kind, where all is lost, but then Green Lantern fires from his ring some sort of dubious ray that fixes everything.

Also: look for the mount of Ookla the Mok in the Throne Room of the God-Mage on pg. 49!

As for Archie's plots and humor...

Again, I have only vague memories of Archie, but I principally remember inane gags like this one:

    ARCHIE: "Gee, Jughead, I can't believe Veronica left without me to the Caribbean!"
    JUGHEAD: "Jamaica?"
    ARCHIE: "No, she wanted to go!"[/list]

    I suspect this is why, even up to the 1980s, Archie's jalopy was still a Model T: because if you upgrade Archie's car, you're denied priceless "my car is a piece of crap" humor.

    Me, though, I'm more a "Veronica" kind of guy than a "Betty" guy. She seemed feistier and had more personality than Betty, who was something of a doormat, a female Clark Kent. With her, you just need a little backbone, that's all.

    On a brighter note, though, the Archies were a much more talented fake band than the Monkees were.

    Quote from: "TELLE"
    I think at one time (late-70s) Chaykin had legitimate claim to "next big thing" in the adventure/superhero comics world. But you can only be the next big thing for so long. But that's beside my original point: What I was referring to was the claim made, not in letercols, but in the popular media and by DC publicists that Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Art Spiegelman were the holy trinity of adult comics and that things like Fish Police, American Flagg! and Love and Rockets (ie, comic wildly different in audience and quality --only one of which (L&R) has stood the test of time) constituted an emerging vanguard of awesomeness that would once and for all prove that comics were legitimate art/not for kids/etc.American Flagg! was mentioned in places like Time & Rolling Stone and by people like Harlan Ellison as one of these Maus-heirs, when in fact Maus was and is relatively unique in its impact and place in the culture.

    Though I have never thought much of MAUS, this is an interesting point. Like Kirby, MAUS was a unique work. Go to a bookstore and ask for "something like MAUS" and they won't give you anything.

    "Wait, a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
           - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
    Defender of Kandor
    Council of Wisdom
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    Semper Vigilans

    « Reply #17 on: August 03, 2006, 05:45:09 PM »

    Julian Perez wrote:

    I could never get into ARCHIE, for the same reason I did not "get" or like the Marvel Star Comics line either (HEATHCLIFF, MADBALLS, TERRY IN SPACE, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE), and why, to this day, I can't stand the POWERPUFF GIRLS. Because I've always thought that the best comic books, especially superhero comic books, are ones that can be read and appreciated by both children AND adults, a fact proven time and again by very talented writers.

    As a kid, I always shunned the stuff obviously aimed at kids, like "Richie Rich," "Hot Stuff", "Casper" and so on.  The only kid I knew who liked that stuff was a female cousin.  She was the right target age, but other than her, every kid I've ever known wants to read a bit higher than their age.  How many 7-year-olds, if it were up to them, would buy a book written for 7-year-olds (or rather, what a bunch of 40- and 50-somethings think a 7-year-old is?)  Wouldn't they buy something aimed at 10- or 12-year-olds at least?

    This is how it was for me, anyway.  I wouldn't call 70s Superman or Batman "adult fare" by any stretch, but to read comics in the late Silver and Bronze Ages as a grade-schooler was to take on a bit of challenge.  I can't begin to count the contributions comics made to my vocabulary over the years...I was probably the only second-grader who called another kid a "witless cretin" instead of, say, a "doo-doo head."  And those reprints in the Super-Spectaculars taught me what World War II was, how to survive if I fell into quicksand, how Telegraph Birds make a sound just like a rattlesnake, the finer points of fingerprint identification (and the lengths criminals would go to beat it), what things like fedoras and running boards and vacuum tubes were, and so on.  The point being, comics back then made me feel "grown up" in a good way; they taught me stuff, and not the stuff modern comics "teach" what a grown woman looks like naked, or what someone looks like with their head ripped off.

    Anyway, "Archie," for me, was at best a canny book for 7-year-olds.  It understood that many 7-year olds would rather read about 16-year-olds than about other 7-year-olds.  Kids like to "experience" their own future through Archie and Betty and the gang, a future where they'll have a little more freedom and can date and drive and all that cool stuff. It's the same appeal as Barbie, a doll in her late teens marketed to girls under 10.  Few actual high-schoolers would want to read Archie, just as there probably aren't a lot of 17-year-olds who spend hours rearranging the furniture in Barbie's Townhouse.  

    Something about Archie always seemed deliberately superficial and over-polished to me, like the Brady Bunch...some grown-up's idea of what teenagers ought to be like.  I never detected anything particularly significant or multi-layered in Archie comics.  Which might sound like a funny to expect anyway, but I'd argue that most comics or strips that hang around for decades usually have something going on under the surface that lets them outlast any trends.  For example, compare Archie to "Peanuts" or "Krazy Kat" or any one of a dozen classic comic strips that worked as mindless, inoffensive fun on the surface, yet had enough going on underneath to inspire decades of analysis and study to this day.  Or for that matter, even Ernie Bushmiller's "Nancy," which doesn't tell us anything insightful about the human condition, but was so downright WEIRD that you couldn't take your eyes away.  Archie was too polished, slick and committee-produced to even offer that "oddball" factor.  Once I got the basic jokes -- Jughead was lazy and always hungry, Moose was a dumb jock, Reggie was a snob, Archie couldn't choose a girlfriend and Mr Weatherbee had the worst toupee in history -- there wasn't much reason to come back month after month.

    Superhero/science fiction/adventure comics just for children are just as insincere and ugly as comic books that are just for adults. There should be something there that children (and the child in us) can appreciate: monsters, powers, flashy action, and things that adults (and very discerning, intelligent children) can enjoy too: smart unpredictable plotting, good characterization, and clean, correct plots.

    Indeed.  It irritates me to no end to hear the standard industry response to criticism that comics are unsuitable for kids.  "We print a line of kid comics, let 'em read those!"  To me, this says, (1) we reserve the right to print any sort of depravity or filfth we like in our "mainstream" comics and it's the parents' fault if kids stumble over them, (2) we view children as a sub-group unworthy of our full attention and (3) we couldn't write for a broad audience if our lives depended on it.

    I love MICRONAUTS. It was STAR WARS space opera thrill from start to finish: swordfights in space, a living "bioship," prison planets where the uniform is zoot suits, serpent-tanks, a race of bugs with a sexy bug queen, and a Darth Vader type that can transform into a robot centaur. It also does STAR WARS one better: it explains why there are people that are willing to be cannon fodder for the Evil Empire: they have access to clone banks, ensuring immortality for their minions.

    The masterstroke of that book was bringing the Micronauts into our universe, where they were the same size as the toys in the stores!  I still remember that ship flying around the legs of skaters in a skate park and barrelling down the Florida highway causing all manner of mayhem as motorists freaked out!  This was a brilliant twist on things and some really fun summer reading.

    I actually preferred Karza to Vader, except for those weird iron dredlocks or whatever hanging down behind his head.  The big surprise was Arcturus Rann, who as the square-jawed "Captain Kirk" of the piece would normally have been a shoe-in for my favorite character (you're talking to a guy whose favorite X-Man is Cyclops, remember), but in fact he was such a non-entity I never took to him at all.  I did dig bug and Acroyear, though.

    The last great idea before the book went south was Captain Universe, a cosmically powerful character who was someone different with each could be a muscleman, or it could be some fat slob or an old lady or a kid.  It wasn't really the sort of thing that fit in a Marvel comic, but what I wouldn't have given to see guys like Otto Binder and CC Beck take the concept and run.  (Would've been better than Fatman the Human Flying Saucer, anyway!  :lol: )

    The ultimate guilty pleasure for me, is the book I know it's bad, but I love it anyway: Claremont's IRON FIST. It was absurd, it was outright stupid at times (boomerangs that only home on people with Kung Fu training?), but it was fun - I'd rank it higher even than the Byrne/Claremont UNCANNY X-MEN. And the Byrne art was incredible: that guy could do the most dynamic fight scenes this side of Buscema or Kirby. What a sense of speed and acrobatics!

    I've seen the "ESSENTIAL" volume of this at my local library a few times and I have to say that even though it would cost me nothing to check it out, I have put it back on the shelf every time.  Personally, just scanning through it the art is terrible.  I was as excited as anyone about Byrne when "X-Men" took off, but I soon found that most of his stuff before it had a clumsy, amateurish, "fanzine" look to it.  And everything after it got scratchy, homely and repetitive.  Basically when it comes to Byrne, for me it's X-Men or nothing.  The rest makes my eyeballs bleed.

    Speaking of fight scenes, as loathesome as he is both as a writer and as a human being, Todd McFarlane is a very, very gifted artist. His AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in the eighties is a guilty pleasure of mine. One need look no further than his three-dimensional panels, faces that could be given to personalities, and his va-va-voomworthy Mary Jane and Black Cat never looked better.

    We're gonna have to disagree on this one, too.  McFarlane did do some fun stuff with Spidey, and made me pick up the book for the first time since the mid-70s...and for that matter, made me buy more than 3 issues in a row for the first time in EVER...but he couldn't draw faces worth spit.  One reason he was so great on Spider-Man is that the character's face is completely hidden.  As soon as the mask came off, things got ugly.  Really ugly.  Peter Parker didn't even look human.  It's no coincidence that his signature character "Spawn" also has no face...even without a mask!  

    In his favor, though, Todd was the first guy in forever who understood the appeal of seeing Spidey's body contorted six ways to Sunday.  Not since Ditko did we see such incredibly fun, goofy poses...great stuff.  (Much as I loved the slick pencils of Romita, Sr., I think in retrospect he destroyed something essential to the look and feel of the book, and it took many years to get it back).

    Allow me to launch a pre-emptive strike: no, Archie's MIGHTY CRUSADERS was not any good. Yes, I know, it's not possible to have a "wrong" opinion, but...c'mon. The Crusaders, on facing certain doom, had one of their members say "Wait...I have the ability to teleport, but I've never mentioned it before...and I can only use it ONCE!"

    Ha!  That's wonderful!  The sort of thing you expect to see in a "Radioactive Man" comic on the Simpsons.

    Speaking of which, I love the bit in Bongo's "Radioactive Man Annual" (or whatever) where a bunch of supers are moving giant lab equipment and a huge gizmo starts to fall on one of the heroes.  His word balloon: "No time to move out of the way!  Only time to talk about it!"   Cheesy That's Marvel all over.

    "Sometimes I feel I'm in competition with myself, the artist vs. the hero. But I need to know I can do both."

    This is the same dillemma that keeps Neal Adams up at night.  But I have faith he can re-write tectonic theory and still churn out those five comic covers a year.  You go, Neal.

    This looks like a job for...
    Supermanica Council
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    « Reply #18 on: August 04, 2006, 03:17:41 AM »

    Quote from: "nightwing"
    Anyway, "Archie," for me, was at best a canny book for 7-year-olds.  It understood that many 7-year olds would rather read about 16-year-olds than about other 7-year-olds.  Kids like to "experience" their own future through Archie and Betty and the gang, a future where they'll have a little more freedom and can date and drive and all that cool stuff. [...]
    I never detected anything particularly significant or multi-layered in Archie comics.  Which might sound like a funny to expect anyway, but I'd argue that most comics or strips that hang around for decades usually have something going on under the surface that lets them outlast any trends.

    I didn't read Archie as a kid.  Almost straightaway a Marvel Zombie.  Marvel, Mego and tv were my 3 pop culture poles: Herculoids, Micronauts, and Fantastic Four --I could never decide which I loved more.

    The only Archie reader I knew was an older boy in junior high (he let me listen to his KISS records) who once put me down for reading comics that had nothing to do with real life.

    My experience since then is the same as Nightwing's --younger preteens, especially girls, enjoy the skewed view of adolescence they get from Archie.

    As a so-called adult I discovered the Archie world to be an infuriating mix of dopiness and highly competent art (Dan DeCarlo is one of my 3 fave 60s mainstream cartoonists, the others being Kirby and Swan).  The perfect mindless entertainment for the back porch in summer.  I often imagine things like Kurt Schaffenberger drawing Archie or DeCarlo doing Lois Lane.  Archie was not quite as sophisticated as Superman comics but it had its fair share weird philosophy, blackout gags, mystery, romance, morality, time-travel and enough oddball moments to give Scott Shaw a second career.  For my money, a Betty & Veronica Giant or early Josie from the 60s is just about the perfect kids comic.

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    Johnny Nevada
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    « Reply #19 on: August 04, 2006, 05:18:37 AM »

    I've flipped through Archie comics occasionally at the store, and still think they'd be OK for younger children to read---obviously not cerebral, but seemed like it'd be ok "fluff" reading. The "Sabrina" comic seems to be making a stab at an older audience lately (with its current manga-drawn style and continuing plotlines)...

    As a kid, I mostly read newspaper comic strips (and still do), not really getting heavily into comic books until high school (when I had more money). Probably got plenty of exposure to politics/the concept of political satire via "Bloom County" and "Doonesbury"...

    Lee Semmens
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    « Reply #20 on: August 04, 2006, 02:32:18 PM »

    ARCHIE: "Gee, Jughead, I can't believe Veronica left without me to the Caribbean!"
    JUGHEAD: "Jamaica?"
    ARCHIE: "No, she wanted to go!"

    This is a paraphrase of a very old British vaudeville routine:

    MAN #1: "My wife went to the Caribbean for her holiday."
    MAN #2: "Jamaica?"
    MAN #1: "No, she went of her own accord!"
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