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Thread: Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga and other things that won't get you laid

  1. #131
    FORT Fanatic charstar813's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phat32
    Can't make it, but are you going again? And are you going to post photos?

    -----
    I'm currently enamored with The New Avengers, and I never thought that Avengers would be one of my favorite books, along with Amazing Spider-Man (how you liking those, Stargazer? ) and a book based on the Squadron Supreme.

    Life's funny that way.

    Well, I decided today that I won't be able to make it unless I want to short change my vacation time in August. So, oh well. My sister is still going. I'll tell her to take lots and lots of pictures so I can post some here.

    Aw, sorry to hear about the Kabuki woes, Phat. Are you still reading Circle of Blood? I promise it gets better with Skin Deep. That's what really fueled the love for David Mack. I'll send you a link to see his other stuff.
    Ludicrous speed!

  2. #132
    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Here's an interesting article about one of my favorite graphic-novel series: Paul Chadwick's Concrete.

    I actually met Chadwick at a San Diego Con years ago--circa 1993, I think. This was during Image Comics' heyday. I'll never forget that Chadwick sat alone while the fanboys (and fangirls) swamped the Image booths.

    No accounting for taste, I suppose.

    Mr. Chadwick listened to me express admiration for the only Concrete story I had read ("I Strive for Reality"), which I had only read a few days before Comic Con.

    He asked me to give The Complete Concrete a chance, and I did. I only wish now that I had read that volume before meeting him, as I have 1,000 new questions, amateur wannabe writer to published writer.

    Article follows:

    Heavy
    TIME.comix on Paul Chadwick's 'Concrete'
    By ANDREW D. ARNOLD

    The ability of the superhero to carry serious graphic literature has been a polarizing subject in the comics world since at least the 1960s. Hardcore fans of indie creators see superheroes as mere kid's stuff, while fans of traditional superhero books insist that the genre can be used to explore all kinds of sophisticated, adult concerns. As with any question of art, no definitive answer will ever be reached, but some fresh thoughts came to mind on the subject thanks to a new series by Paul Chadwick, Concrete: The Human Dilemma, and a recent panel I attended on the future of the graphic novel. Among the questions I found myself thinking about was this: Where does Superman stand on abortion? It seemed central to the debate.

    The wildly eclectic mix of participants on the panel, convened at the annual publishing industry tradeshow Book Expo America, included indie creators Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve) and Charles Burns (Black Hole) with superhero/pulp auteur Frank Miller (Sin City) and novelist-turned-superhero-comics writer Brad Meltzer (Identity Crisis), who sat next to comic autobiographer and movie celebrity Harvey Pekar (American Splendor.) Thanks to Pekar's irrepressible personality, things got a little warm when he denounced superhero books as "escapist" and worthless when there were more important things to spend your energy on like "getting Bush out of office." Meltzer later gave an impassioned and reasonable argument for regarding all comic genres on a continuum rather than a hierarchy. As both he and Miller explained the influence of the tragedy of September 11 on their work using superheroes, Pekar rolled his eyes and made faces.

    That same week the final issue of Concrete: The Human Dilemma, a limited six-issue series, appeared (Dark Horse Comics; 32 pages each; $3.50). Published off and on for nearly twenty years, with two newly packaged collections appearing in July and September, Concrete endures as one of the smartest-written "superheroes" ever created. Twice the size of an average man, with a rock-like epidermis, extraordinary strength, endurance and heightened senses, Concrete has all the attributes of a classic do-gooder. But here is where it starts to get interesting. Neither a troubled billionaire nor a brilliant scientist caught in an experiment gone wrong, Concrete has a secret past as Ronald Lithgow, a senatorial speechwriter. Captured by aliens while taking a remote mountain hike, he escaped, but only after having his brain transferred to a fantastical new body. Under the cover of being an experimental, government cyborg named Concrete, he lives as just another celebrity in L.A.'s freak show.

    Accompanied by Maureen Vonnegut, a biologist, and Larry Munro, his personal assistant, Concrete never fights evil geniuses or giant robots. Instead he lives the life you might expect an egghead lefty policy wonk with a supernatural body to live. He explores the world and does good deeds where he can. Past stories follow him climbing Mount Everest, working to save a family farm and being hired out as the bodyguard of a paranoid rock star. Using the tropes of the superhero genre, where Concrete often finds himself thrust into life-or-death adventures, Chadwick weaves in broader themes of the environment and social issues, along with the humorous quotidian details of Concrete's life as a walking boulder, such as his difficulties with unsupportive furniture.

    The Human Dilemma tells of Concrete's new job as the spokesman for a foundation dedicated to population control. (Try lighting the Bat Signal for that!) Well paid for his efforts, he somewhat reluctantly stumps for their controversial program that would provide financial benefits for couples that undergo sterilization. As the story builds Concrete has an increasingly difficult time staying "on message" in the vicious world of pundit media, while Larry finds himself in the unfortunate position of impregnating a one-night stand. Meanwhile a mysterious character, disturbed by Concrete and the foundation he represents, plots an assassination.

    These and other parallel narratives, including a surprising love story, all involve birth and death and the human population's impact on the world. Yet Chadwick never lets any message overtake the needs of telling an exiting yarn. Instead, he uses ingenious dramatic irony to explore an issue's nuance. For example, L.A.'s traffic jams, just one result of over-population, become a frequent motif in The Human Dilemma. One scene has Concrete, stuck in a steamy gridlock, leaping to the rescue of someone caught in a dangerous road rage incident. But, in the first of several missed chances at heroism during the series, he can't save the victim.

    The scene looks exactly like something from a mainstream superhero book, but with important differences. Thanks to starting his career drawing a different kind of loser hero, Marvel's ill-conceived Dazzler series, about a crime-fighting roller disco queen, Chadwick knows the basics of the mainstream look. Using the best of that style, such as its dramatic angles, to create dynamic pages, Chadwick also infuses the artwork with quirks, like the frequent use of X-ray shots into a character's body, so that no one could mistake it for mere hackwork. Another major difference between The Human Dilemma and more mainstream books is Chadwick's uses of black and white rather than color. This perfectly suits the material, which explores the gray nuances of decisions about bringing another life into world.

    But there's another reason you wouldn't mistake Concrete for any other superhero. Chadwick, and not some corporation, owns Concrete, allowing the character to take positions on real issues. When, during a scene in The Human Dilemma, an interviewer asks Concrete if he is pro-choice, "You bet," is the unequivocal reply. The scene startled me into thinking about where other characters stand on major issues. We'll never know, because mainstream superheroes cannot be invested with that level of political awareness. They always have a secret, over-riding agenda, spelled out in the earnings reports of their corporate masters: sell product. This is the "ick-factor" that makes some people roll their eyes when they hear about mainstream superheroes taking on meaningful subjects. A whiff of exploitation follows Spider-Man and his ilk wherever they go. Using him to comment on September 11, for example, would be as gross as using Snap, Crackle and Pop.

    Paul Chadwick's The Human Dilemma, and his other Concrete tales prove the superhero genre has no inherent literary limitations except the ones brought by a character's real-life role in the culture. Either they are there to move you or to move the products they are associated with. Owned by an artist and not a company, Concrete can be invested with meaningful characteristics that give his stories literary weight. Concrete: The Human Dilemma goes beyond mere genre, combining surprising visuals, smart characters, an entertaining story and above all, engaging issues into a work of valuable literature.
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

  3. #133
    Fashionista Sandinista Chorita KaBoom's Avatar
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    That's an awesome review. Concrete has been one of my FAVORITE books since it first came out. I'm not really sure if I would ever really classify it as a superhero comic though. It's more in the sci-fi adventure genre. I will agree that it's the quality of the storytelling (both through the art and the words) that really make it one of the most underated comics around.
    there is no energy shortage, there is a shortage of imagination

  4. #134
    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chorita KaBoom
    That's an awesome review. Concrete has been one of my FAVORITE books since it first came out.
    Right. I consistently look for it, too. I'm disappointed it's not published monthly, but it's one of those books of quality worth the wait. (Which, in my humble opinion, includes Hellboy, The Ultimates, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Planetary and any Grendel written and drawn by Wagner.)

    I'm not really sure if I would ever really classify it as a superhero comic though. It's more in the sci-fi adventure genre.
    I mulled that over, too, which of course led me to the question, "So what makes a graphic novel character a superhero?" Lithgow is an "ordinary" person with extraordinary abilities and striving, in his own little way, to handcraft a finer world. In that way, I would call Concrete a "superhero."

    Otherwise, no, I consider Concrete from the school of ultra-realism that I enjoy. Along the same vein, some of my favorite graphic novels are "What if?" takes on "established," well-known characters that have grown stale over time, either because their creators no longer care (See: Chris Claremont), or because the corporation that owns the character is afraid to mess with a winning formula (See: The X-Men).

    Examples of "What if?" superheroes I enjoy: Rick Veitch's Maximortal, a parody/homage to Superman and Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority, a parody/homage to Superman and Batman.

    I'd always thought of Concrete as the thinking person's Thing (from Fantastic Four). Surely, Ben Grimm is one of the most tragic, most interesting character studies in all the comic book world. Concrete is Grimm done right.

    I will agree that it's the quality of the storytelling (both through the art and the words) that really make it one of the most underated comics around.
    What I find most compelling about Concrete is that he's just trying to get by, day by day, the best he can, and he experiences the same frustrations and joys that we do...only he's stuck in a big ol' quarry for a body.
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

  5. #135
    Lah
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    FORT Newbie Lah's Avatar
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    Currently reading the Ayako trilogy by that doyen of Japanese animation and manga, Dr. Osamu. *mucho fanworships*

  6. #136
    Picture Perfect SnowflakeGirl's Avatar
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    Sorry I haven't been in here for a while, I haven't read too much in the genre lately! Although I heard there is a very rare graphic novel version of the George R.R. Martin Song of Ice & Fire books I've been reading that garners upwards of $500 at auction. And someone gave me a book that illustrates the Bible with Lego figures. Not sure these count!

    I'll have to check out this Concrete. I'm sorry you weren't keen on Kabuki; interesting you disliked the art, because that is one of my favorite aspects of the comic.

    Alas, I cannot make it to the Comic Con this year. I will either be out of town or have out-of-town visitors I can't ignore. Zounds. And I wanted to cosplay with Charstar!
    Sending good vibes and warm fuzzies your way..., SnowflakeGirl
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  7. #137
    Leia-Jakita-Arendt OnMyLunchBreak's Avatar
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    I just picked up Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic!



    It is Mr. Cobain's diary, graphic novel style. It looks so sweet!

    The link to it at Amazon: Godspeed

  8. #138
    Leia-Jakita-Arendt OnMyLunchBreak's Avatar
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    Sorry to double post...but I'm so excited about my recent purchases!

    I picked up Planetary: Crossing Worlds, which is just cool because it has like 5 iterations of Batman in it and wonderwoman, and the Green Lantern. Plus, Jakita does some serious fighting, which is my favorite part of the Planetary comics.

    I also got Quixote, put out by Image Comics. It is a modern day retelling of the classic book and more novel than graphic, but the graphics that are there are very cool and Frank Miller/Sin City in style. I'm excited to begin!

  9. #139
    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnMyLunchBreak
    I picked up Planetary: Crossing Worlds, which is just cool because it has like 5 iterations of Batman in it and wonderwoman, and the Green Lantern. Plus, Jakita does some serious fighting, which is my favorite part of the Planetary comics.
    The Snow/Drummer/Jakita showdown with Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman is a personal fave.

    If you get into alternate histories of the JLA, I can't more highly recommend The Nail, written and drawn by Alan Davis, which relates a world in which Superman was never a part of the JLA. (I'm looking at you, mrdobolina! )

    I also got Quixote, put out by Image Comics. It is a modern day retelling of the classic book and more novel than graphic, but the graphics that are there are very cool and Frank Miller/Sin City in style. I'm excited to begin!
    If you like classics/military history/Frank Miller (and I know you do), I recommend The 300 by Frank Miller: "In 481-480 B.C., King Xerxes of Persia raised forces in Asia and Africa and invaded Greece with an army so huge that it 'drank rivers dry.' Then they entered the mountain pass of Thermopylae and encountered 300 determined soldiers from Sparta...."
    Last edited by phat32; 08-03-2005 at 08:35 AM. Reason: "The Nail" credited to wrong creator
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

  10. #140
    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Absolute Watchmen

    Alan Moore's classic graphic novel Watchmen has been reissued in a digitally recolored, larger format, under the DC Comics "Absolute" line of books. (I for one couldn't be happier. Some of the original coloring work in Watchmen was terrible and detracted from Gibbons' terrific pencils.)

    Even if you're not a fan of graphic novels, you're probably familiar with Moore's work through From Hell (great book, lousy movie), and you're sure to hear more about him after the release of V for Vendetta, the upcoming film based on Moore's graphic novel series, made by the same folks who brought you The Matrix Trilogy.

    Watchmen was recently picked by Time Magazine as one of their "100 Best English Language Novels Since 1923."

    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

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