Random Thoughts! (January 22, 2013)

Random Thought! Next week is the end, so, this week is like the last 'normal' edition. 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! Only four days until the 2013 Blogathon. I'm in the midst of preparing. Finishing up reading I need to do, compiling my 'best of 2012' lists, harrassing contributors for posts... and trying to make sure I get some good sleep every night leading up to it. It's always a struggle to stay awake and press on through (and remain coherent), but it's best to avoid making it too difficult. So, check out the details and donate some money to the Hero Initiative.

Random Thought! Rumours of another Marvel event written by Brian Michael Bendis? That would be five where he's the sole writer in addition to another one where he co-wrote the event. He's clearly not satisfied with long runs on Ultimate Spider-Man and the Avengers titles -- he wants to write the most events. Ever. In all of comics. (Okay, I doubt that that's a motive at all. Yet, I wouldn't mind if it was. Because I would understand. Also, I like his writing.)

Random Thought! I have been asked about that Thanos book Jason Aaron is writing beginning in April. I will buy it. Partly because I'm curious, partly because I like Jason Aaron's writing, partly because it seems like the sort of thing that would break my internet silence after less than three months. But, let's not kid ourselves: this is clearly the broken memories of one of the defective clones of Thanos. Sorry. That doesn't mean it can't be good. It just means that if you're not Starlin, you're writing about a clone.

Random Thought! Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE has ended with an issue that was rather unremarkable. I liked where Matt Kindt began his run and some moments since, but it never really came together. Drifting off into part of that whole "Rotworld" nonsense didn't help. I will miss Alberto Ponticelli's art -- especially when he inked himself. The art was a bit uneven once he stopped inking himself and we ran through a series of different inkers. The way that it looked at the beginning fit the book so well. Just messy and rough. Ah... well...

Random Thought! The person who does the 8pm-8am shift on Saturday night/Sunday morning called in sick, so I wound up picking up some overtime, working 8pm-midnight on Saturday night (someone else did the other eight hours) and it was the most productive four hours I've ever had at work. Made me oddly proud.

Random Thought! All male superhero team = normal. All female superhero team = contrived. FUCK YOU, COMICS.

Random Thought! Last week, I rewatched the first season of The Newsroom -- the original Canadian sitcom, not the American show (I haven't seen it at all yet; waiting for the DVD) -- and the second episode, "Dinner at Eight" just gave me a feeling of what DC Comics seems like at the moment behind the scenes. You can watch it on Youtube: part one, part two, and part three.

Random Thought! Went to my first Ring of Honor show on Friday night in Dearborn with Michelle and my buddy Adam. It was a good show. Excellent venue, great atmosphere, and some good wrestling. We were sitting second row right next to the entrance (with no one in front of us for the first half hour or so) and that was good. Seeing the way the baracades move when someone is slammed into them made my knees ache a little just at the thought of being smacked with metal like that. The promotion is coming back in July and we may go. That depends on when/if Dragon Gate USA and CHIKARA hit the area as well. I do know we'll be seeing the WWE in September when Night of Champions is held in Detroit (unless that changes).

Random Thought! I agree with Adam: the original X-Man who should join up with Cyclops is Beast. That makes me giggle a little.

Random Thought! I love the idea of New Avengers, but the execution has left me rather cold for the most part. I'm not the biggest fan of the art, which is a bit too slick for a book like this. Epting uses a lot of shadows, sure, but it takes more than that. Namely a colourist that can't resist turning 'dark' into 'shiny.' The shiniest dark comic ever! Hickman's clearly gearing up for something big and I love the idea: how far will these characters go to save the world? How big is too big? Of course, we've seen that a bit already with The Authority and its first 12 issues. My concern is how far Hickman will be allowed to go. The teaser at the end of the second issue suggests pretty far... but will that be the reality?

Random Thought! Semi-related: how in the world is Avengers shipping two weeks in a row? Excellent scheduling.

Random Thought! Huh. The third Grendel omnibus has been solicited. I should probably read the first two sometime soon so I'll know if I want to pre-order it -- or if I've wasted money on two books I don't enjoy.

Random Thought! Warren Ellis writing another comic? FINALLY. I'm kind of hoping it's a webcomic, because I really enjoyed reading FreakAngels every Friday. Little burst of serialised storytelling every week. It's a different pace than most North American readers are used to and I don't think Ellis did much of that sort before this either. He didn't seem to go full-on 2000 AD in his approach where each chapter was a chapter... it would be interesting to see him try that. Then again, it was clear that the pacing was aimed at being as legible as possible on a computer screen with a basic flow and nice big panels. Finding the balance between the two would be tough -- but one of my comics hobbies is watching Ellis try to figure out how to make things like that work. He's one of the few 'mainstream' writers who seems genuinely interested in trying new things. Part of the price for that is exploring similar ideas a bit more frequently than some would like, but that's necessary to a degree if you're going to be experimental in form and technique.

Random Thought! There are just some characters you're never going to like. Similar to people.

Random Thought! I hate Gambit. Always have. Always will.

Random Thought! I'm going to read a lot of comics on my break. And watch a lot of wrestling DVDs. And read a lot of books.

Random Thought! My biggest gap in my Joe Casey knowledge: his runs on Kiss and GI Joe. I haven't read anything from either. Shameful, really.

Random Thought! Now that Tim is writing about Neil Gaiman's Sandman for Tor.com, he's finally picked a third writer for his personal stable (other entrants: Alan Moore and Grant Morrison). He and I can finally have a full out fantasy battle as his group goes up against mine: Joe Casey, Warren Ellis, and Jim Starlin. Do you see why he's more successful than I am?

Random Thought! We like Justified. Yes we do.

Random Thought! I wish What If...? would come back.

Random Thought! You know what works with the two post-Mister Miracle Fourth World books? OK Computer by Radiohead. Stick that with the end of Kirby's Fourth World and it works all right.

Random Thought! I miss Amalgam, too.

Random Thought! I am both looking forward to Young Avengers #1 this week and dreading it a little. I just don't want to be let down when it comes to Noh-Varr anymore.

Random Thought! Superman should wear a cape. Just saying.


Random Joe Casey Question! Is the cover to the Butcher Baker hardcover the closest we'll see to some art from you? Do you draw? I know some writers like to sketch out page layouts or do crude designs of characters to give an artist an idea of what they have in their head. We saw a little of that in the Butcher Baker hardcover back matter, but is that something you do on a regular basis? Or, are you more of a words-only sort of guy?

Random Joe Casey Answer! I have no idea what the extent of my drawing ability is. But, yeah, I've had occasion to do layouts and horrible character sketches... mainly when I've been too lazy to explain shit in writing to an artist. Plus, it gives them something to laugh at me about. I think most writers who were interested in comicbooks -- the art form -- from an early age probably started out wanting to be an artist. Or, more specifically, a penciller. At least, that's how I made comics when I was eight years old. I think it might be the only way to really learn the language, to put pencil (or pen) to paper and try to make comics that look like comics. And it doesn't have to be great drawing to learn storytelling. Look at Harvey Pekar and how he wrote his stories. It might've been just stick figures, but through that technique, he mastered panel-to-panel pacing, as well as page-to-page pacing. Mike Baron used to draw out his comics and those were the scripts he turned in to artists (and to editors! Who would have the balls to do that now?!). I've written a few comicbooks that way... one of my first no-money gigs, THE HARVEST KING (for the late Caliber Comics) was written like that. Even something as recent as MARIJUANAMAN was a situation where I gave Mahfood horrible, psycho-scratch layouts of each page, with dialogue written right in the margins, and he did his thing with them. And I thought that turned out fuckin' great, from a collaborative point of view.

Sometimes I do thumbnails that artists never see. In those cases, I'm just trying to work shit out for my own edification, to make sure that what I'm asking an artist to do is actually possible to do on the page. I've done my fair share of random cover sketches, too. Basically, whatever it takes to convey the idea I've got in my deranged head, I'll do it. I'll probably always end up doing it from time to time, because that's just part of creating comicbooks. To do it just on the keyboard is not taking of advantage of the medium you're writing in.


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

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