Random Thoughts! (August 14, 2012)

Random Thought! Why, yes, this edition does feature another Joe Casey Q&A installment! It's Random Thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture. 411mania for wrestling reviews and the occasional CD review. My Twitter account for random thoughts as they happen in real time.

Random Thought! The two latest Avengers vs. X-Men posts: Riding the Gravy Train 18 on Avengers vs. X-Men #9 and Riding the Gravy Train 19 on New Avengers #29, which happens to be the best Avengers vs. X-Men comic so far. The characters act like actual adults. Or, do so more than they've yet to so far during the event.

Random Thought! I'm not as well-versed in the work of Joe Kubert as I would like to be, but I am saddened by his death. Partly because it's a loss to the comic book community, but moreso because every story I ever heard about the man was about how kind and decent he was and it's never anything less than terrible to hear that there's one less person like that in the world.

Random Thought! And how do you follow that...? I don't know...

Random Thought! Hey, go read Tim Callahan's interview with Joe Casey in this week's When Words Collide column! Between Tim and I, we've logged a lot of interview time with Joe. Tim's better at it than I am -- he's much better at asking conceptual questions, while I tend to get mired down in the minutae of things. I think that was a wonderful combination in our Splash Page Podcast interview of Casey. Tim would ask a smart, ponderous question before I asked Casey about a panel in a comic he barely remembered writing a decade ago...

Random Thought! Of the 'Marvel NOW' books revealed last week, Thor: God of Thunder is the only one I'm definitely buying. I'm leaning towards Kieron Gillen on Iron Man (too bad he's paired with Greg Land) and that Matt Fraction/Mike Allred FF book. Might give the Mark Waid/Leinil Francis Yu Hulk one a flip through, but maybe not. The others don't do much for me.

Random Thought! I got the two-disc edition of Batman: Gotham Knight the other day on DVD. The main feature is okay. A little bland, though. And the voice acting didn't do much for me. I've passed over getting this DVD in the past, but seeing that four episodes of Batman: The Animated Series were on the second disc sold it for me. I've only watched "Legends of the Dark Knight," but it's an episode I've wanted to see ever since I heard of it. It's quite entertaining. I like the different style of animation and how well they capture the look of the Dick Sprang and Frank Miller. Good stuff.

Random Thought! I finished American Tabloid by James Ellroy on Saturday after reading two-thirds of it over two days at the cottage the previous weekend. Damn good novel. The final bit lost me a little, if only because, as the book went on, the stakes seemed lower for me given that they revolved so heavily around events that I know about. The shift went from the three leads to history, in a sense. And there's something absolutely compelling about that and what Ellroy is trying to say about those historical events... but something is also lost in the process. Dramatic irony can be entertaining, just not on such a large, obvious scale, for me, at least. But, I am looking forward quite a bit to starting in on The Cold Six Thousand. I decide to read the new Paul Auster book first, though. I'm about 60 pages or so into Winter Journal and it's really engaging. Auster has a very casual, easy-going tone to his writing here, even in the use of the second-person. One of those cases where, by discussing specific event in his life, he's really discussing general, universal experiences that we've all had in one form or another.

Random Thought! The cottage was fun. Lots of reading (obviously), some swimming, lots of rye and cokes... For some reason, I decided to spring for the 12-year old Canadian Club Classic instead of regular Canadian Club. You can taste the extra money and it's worth it. It was a cottage weekend with Michelle's friends, which made it a bit more 'hit or miss' at times since they and I don't always share a lot of common interests. But, they're all great people. On the ride up and the ride down, we listened to every Tragically Hip album in order. It made me realise that their most recent one, We are the Same is their best album. It seemed to accomplish what everything since Music @ Work was striving for and only pulling off in brief moments. Then again, that whole stretch of albums is rather interesting with only In Between Evolution not holding up its end (I think it may be the worst Hip album).

Random Thought! Along with Winter Journal by Paul Auster, I also got the two latest WWE Superstar Collection DVDs this past week (all in one Amazon.ca package) and Michelle and I watched the Sheamus one on Wednesday night. It's pretty good. A rare chance to see a performer noticeably improve each time you see him. Where he is in that WWE Championship Tables Match against John Cena and when he ends up in the Royal Rumble against Chris Jericho is insane to see happen. We were all wrong about Sheamus when we trashed him back in late 2009 (except not, because he wasn't good then).

Random Thought! Dude, Scalped ends next week...!

Random Thought! I'm curious to see what I think of Uncanny X-Force: The Dark Angel Saga book two, which comes out in trade this week. The first book of this storyarc left me decidedly cold after the previous trade was hit or miss. I know Jerome Opena returns, so that should raise the level a bit.

Random Thought! The warning on the CBR review of Black Kiss 2 #1 is FAR more prominent than the warning on the actual comics. Think about that for a second.

Random Thought! The Olympics are finally over. I did enjoy the various 'scandals' like the amateur boxing match where, apparently, knocking a guy down six times in a round doesn't actually add up to the three knockdowns required for a TKO or the Canadian's women's soccer team somehow thinking that one call determines the outcome of a game (it the game were the length of one call, it would, but it isn't, so it doesn't). I also learned that judo is frustrating to watch, because it looks like one person is beating the shit out of their opponent, constantly knocking them and curb-stomping them... but that doesn't count for shit. Sorry, folks, but when you gold medalist spends the entire match on his face and is bleeding from the mouth as a result of the beating he took, then there's something wrong. I could do this all day... Ask Michelle. She's dealt with more inane Olympics-inspired rants than anyone should ever have to endure.

Random Thought! We're three episodes into Boss season one on DVD and I like the show. Some parts are pretty bad, but any time Kelsey Grammer is on the screen, the show is gold.

Random Thought! A big part of me is dreading the end of Bendis's Avengers tenure.

Random Thought! The end of RASL was damn good stuff. Given the frequency of issues and the fact that I didn't reread any, I'm amazed I followed along as well as I did. I fully expect to do a reread of the entire series, hit the end and go, "Oooooooooooooooooooh! That's what it was actually about! Boy was I wrong..."

Random Thought! The loss of RASL means the loss of the funnest comic title to say aloud. RASL!

Random Thought! To Rome with Love is a good movie. Go see it.

Random Thought! Seriously, did anyone expect a panel where Rorschach lunges at a naked woman, screaming "WHORE!"? Could anyone have predicted such a thing? Truly, J. Michael Straczynski is a man whose mind works on a whole different level from the rest of us.

Random Brian Cronin Quote of the Week! "Just own your own shit. Even if it is dumb."


Random Joe Casey Question! What was it like to be one of the 'main' writers of a big event crossover story ("Our Worlds at War")? Is it something you would ever want to do again?

Random Joe Casey Answer! As a writing challenge, my first instinct is to say, quite cheerily, "Hey, it's always a blast to chip in on those big stories." But then, all of a sudden, common sense intrudes and I have to be realistic -- not to mention honest with myself -- because I know exactly how those Events are constructed. Especially these days. There's not a whole lot of individual creativity involved, aside from the creativity involved in coming to terms with the fact that you're providing a product -- one that exists primarily to boost the corporate bottom line -- more than you're telling a story. There might be a story there, by pure coincidence or even by accident, but I can't imagine that any of the writers working on something like AvX have been harboring some deep, lifelong, burning desire to have those two teams fight. Maybe I'm wrong about that. I hope not, because from my perspective, that would just be sad.

The thing is, Marvel and DC are now trying to emulate the so-called "Hollywood system" in some of the worst, most clichéd ways, and when it comes to making comicbooks, that whole pool of quicksand is probably not for me right now. And maybe I'm just spoiled... I came up during a decidedly "writer-driven" mainstream market, and I benefited greatly from that, as both a creative artist and as a brand. At that time, crossover "Events" had become a rare thing and when we did OWAW, we had a degree of autonomy because it was really just us dipping a toe back into those Event waters (and to limited success... I think my last year on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN blows OWAW out of the water, in terms of quality and energy). Now it's 100% editorially driven, and I get enough of that kind of control when I'm working in television and making a commercial product for that medium (coincidentally, I get paid a lot more to put up with it). I didn't get into comicbooks to "make product" or to be told what to write. The medium is still about personal artistic expression for me and I can't think of anything that would kill that spirit more than simply being a cog in some Event-writing machine, which seems to be what writing for Marvel or DC is all about, almost without exception. Besides which, I wrote my Marvel Event Comic when I wrote VENGEANCE last year and that managed to kick out the jams without a bunch of spotlights shining up my ass.


That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.

Kiss: The End #3

More in Comics