Austin Road Trip Comic Nerd Diary- Wherein I Talk About the Awesomeness of Half Price Books, Final Crisis, and... Hack/Slash???!??!?!!? Also, Adrian Tomine is okay too, I guess.

Chris Sims is probably gonna disown me for one of those. Well, he would if we were friends. Stupid restraining order.

Friday- Went to Half Price Books in Austin, because I had a lot of time to kill between the Continental Breakfast and the Wedding.

Best store ever. I found dirt cheap copies of everything from a collection of Adrian Tomine's mini-comics to the Hack/Slash trade I'll kill my credibility by gushing over later. So that's rad. They even had a copy of the Onion. A physical copy. I marked out over that. God, I'm a hayseed.

I also met a cool cat there who was conversant on comics well beyond anyone I've met in my small slice of Texas. Dude knew what Diamond was! And could talk about EC Comics, Frank Miller's Batman, and this very site! When Texas gets gay marriage, I'm proposing to that dude. Hope he's still alive in 2,000 years.

Even after spending two hours combing through HPB's comics section (roughly 1/352nd of the store), I still had a lot of time to kill after the potentially profane Fuddruckers. So I got down to reading Final Crisis #3. My main thought afterwords can be summed up in two words.

Holy Shit! In a good way. I hope all the people who whined about it not making sense earlier will have the good sense to acknowledge it's starting to cogneal. My only problem with it is we gotta wait to months to see what happens next. But that's mitigated by the sheer awesome of pretty much everything here, topped by Aquaman cruising on his sea horse through the ocean when Oracle starts cold calling people to join the fight, but even that had to fight tooth and nail with me finally realizing the Super Young Team are stand ins for the Forever People and Grant Morrison establishing evil Mary Marvel better in a handful of pages than the commity that wrote Countdown did in 52 issues. I bet. I never read the damn thing, but sometimes the stench on something alone's enough to judge by, you know?

Of course, my credibility is shot because I liked Hack/Slash. Always had an inkling I might, mind you. Slasher movies are, even amongst my other trashy/ephemeral hobbies, a guilty pleasure. I'll watch a legion of the stupid things before I get around to seeing something like There Will Be Blood, although hell, that sure sounds like a title for a slasher, doesn't it? Damn missleading Paul Thomas Anderson!

Ahem. But it's not just a shared affinity for the genre that made me gravitate to Tim Seeley's magnum opus. It's the shared premise we had for a story, that he just happened to beat me to publishing because has all his industry connections. And the intivatie to write a comic. But mostly connections. All politics, I say! I wanted to see how the story he actually wrote would stack up to mine that I never wrote, even if mine is totally better because I can imagine whatever the hell I please until the Chinese take over the country.

Anyway, I woulda played the premise (final girl in a horror movie becomes an avenger against slashers) as more of a farce, but there's humor here. That will endear anything to me, but I think Seeley and his legion of collaborators (Skottie Young's one of the few I recognized) are doing solid work. It won't be to everyone's taste, but neither is... well, anything. But it's very reminscent of Buffy, I think. It doesn't have Joss's wit, but if you wish I'd spelled it "wit", maybe you'll like this more.

The main character, Cassie, is a lot like her, but with a traumatic past that makes Peter Parker's look idyllic, much less Buffy's "valley girl whose parents got divorced and then she died a couple times" sob story. She had to cap her undead mom after she went on a killing spree and her only friend is a homunculous or mutant (not sure which, genuinely) who talks like Bruno Sammartino. I'd say she's got it pretty damn rough compared to the blonde gal who gets more attention, and that's just comparing them in similar stages of their gestation; now that Buffy has an army and Dark Phoenix and Nick Fury as running buddies, I think it's really not fair.

She also reminds me of Buffy because she's as close to iconic as a character not wearing a costume can get. Of course, "hot goth girl" is kind of a costume in and of itself. But she's a distinctive design that burns in your brain while still looking like a real person. Of course, I have a lot of hot goth girls burned in my particular brain, so your milage may vary. At any rate, for what this is, hybrid trash genre fiction, Seeley gets some good milage out of it. I want to read more of it. Even this thing. And also the one with Milk and Cheese. That should mitigate Sims theoretical ire a wee bit.

Now, in a lame attempt to regain whatever indie credit I may have (and also because I can not sleep in hotels), I read a couple Tomine strips from his mini-comics collection, 32 Stories. I was never much of a fan of his before. Mind you, I've only read the first couple Top Shelf published issues of Optic Nerve, but those mostly left me cold. Excellent form, mind you, but much like Chris Ware, I'm not in to the content at all. I'm not saying their stories are bad; I just admitted to liking a comic not even Chris "full run of Tarot and Anita Blake" Sims doesn't care for. I just don't care for what I've read of either guy's work. I'm not saying my apple can beat up your orange, indie/alt/art/emo comics strawman. Maybe when I grow up I'll join you, and we can make passes at girls with glasses.

Ahem. Anyway, I liked a couple of the strips in here more than those two Optic Nerve issues. I'm not gonna rush out and buy more of his stuff, because nowhere is there a goth/punk chick in slutty clothes whaling on demons, but I no longer am indifferent to him. It helps that one of his strips shows that yes, he does actually have a sense of humor, or did before he became an indie superstar. The one reason why Dan Clowes is the only guy in the indie snob pantheon whose work I actually care for is he can crack a good joke in between all the alienation and what not. Ware had some funny lines in Jimmy Corrigan, mind you, but all the soul crushing depression pretty much trampled them. I have the same criticism of Will Ferrell's films, actually.

So, based on one used book store and a hotel that, while overcharging so much their slogan should be "Bend over, jerks!" was quite nice, I'd say Austin is the raddest town in the world. Ben McKenize and Paul London live there, after all. If nothing else, it's a good place to read comics while waiting for your cousing to get married, and I can't say that about any other city in America, that's for sure. I'm looking at you, Terre Haute!

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