Tagged: Internet

Saturday Morning Cat-toons: The Cat Of Steel and The Dark Kit

Saturday Morning Cat-toons: The Cat Of Steel and The Dark Kit

Because, gosh darn it, we want web traffic and we’ve been told there’s nothing better to get traffic than cute cat videos:

Wait– we’re supposed to run cute cat videos on Fridays? We thought we were aware of all Internet traditions, but this is news to us. Perhaps we should take down the… aw, look at them playing with the thing on a stick!

Where were we? Never mind. Go look at the cats, and wonder why DC licensed these costumes in the first place.

Marc Alan Fishman: The Top 5 Comics I’d Like To See

In an effort anger the Internet – and save me the time of writing too much – I figured this week I’d take a trip into Fantasy Land. Here is a list, simple and to-the-point, of five books I’d love to see hit the stands. This probably won’t happen unless we’re on Earth 29.

The Avengers: Written by Geoff Johns, Art by Peter Krause.

With his ability to handle a multitude of characters (see his run on Justice Society, or to a lesser degree, Justice League) and draw from countless years of continuity to craft original tales, John’s would deftly deliver a truly epic arc for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Peter Krause (of Irredeemable fame) has an amazing ability to show emotion, and a wide range of your more traditional superheroes. Put together? I think the fans would assemble in droves for a chance to see the premier Marvel team run through the proverbial wringer. And with John’s latent ability to hone lesser villains (see Captain Cold, or his subtle shifting and deepening of Sinestro), no doubt this impossible title would be one for the ages.

Green Lantern: Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Mike Norton.

Brian Michael Bendis could do perhaps what no other writer has done for Hal Jordan in the last 10 years of his comic booking career: he could make me give a damn about Hal. Bendis, master of the talking head page, could instill the much-needed pathos to what has basically been a cardboard cutout of a hero since his “rebirth.” Given his pedigree and ability to craft subtle, nuanced characters, I’ve little doubt his emerald knight would finally be a human being, akin to the Ultimate Peter Parker, with far more years under his power-ringed belt. And with Mike Norton’s clean, concise, and emotive style? Well, I think the book would look as sharp as it read. Norton’s often forgotten runs on Blue Beetle and Green Arrow proved to me long ago, he’s the go-to guy when you need stalwart presentation.

DC Kids Cavalcade: Written by Art Baltazar, Franco, and Keith Giffen, Art by Katie Cook, Art and Franco, Jill Thompson, and a Troop of Others.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. “Anthologies don’t sell.” Well, maybe they would if the stories and art in them wasn’t always a crap shoot, maybe it’d have a chance. I’d kill to see a monthly rag where the funniest minds in comics met with an endless parade of the most kid-friendly artists. Give us a chance to see Katie Cook’s Batman saga or “Tails From The Litter Box: The Midadventures of Dex-Starr.” Pair Giffen’s sharp wit with Art’s never-not-cute style. What could be more perfect for young readers, than a never-ending series where each issue packs in a brand new kid-friendly (but with plenty of Easter eggs for adults) tale? Nothing that I can think of, darn-it.

Thunderbolts: Plotted by John Ostrander, Scripted by Gail Simone, Art by Ethan Van Sciver

No, I’m not just pandering for my close and personal friend John Ostrander. OK, maybe I am a little. But hear me out. Ostrander’s original run on the Suicide Squad is just an amazing piece of sequential fiction. His ability to mine realism in the face of the absurdity of comics is unparalleled. Match this with the wit and charm of Gail Simone? You get yourself one fancy-assed book about ne’er-do-wells. It stands to note I found Simone’s Secret Six to be the sleeper hit of DC in the mid-aughts. Certainly her pitch-perfect evil side would pair well with John’s, and together they could craft a story about Marvel villains trying to change the world. Since Marvel doesn’t really have an “evil only” book per say, I’d think this’d be an interesting one to see. Pair them with Gail’s buddy Ethan Van Details? And you have a gory and beautiful mess on your hands. Van Sciver’s meticulous style would be great to see, when there’s no forced lighting, constructs, or fire being forced into every panel. When its time for poop to hit the fan though? There’s no one better for the art duties.

Metal Men: Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Chris Burnham.

Last but not least, a title so impossible to exist, 14 editors just burst out laughing over how unsellable it’d be. This iteration of the Metal Men would be a mash-up of sorts. Fraction has proved he’s got the uncanny (natch) ability to build slow, methodical tales without boring his audience to tears. And based on his most current work on the Defenders, he’s proven he can be witty to boot. Pair him with the “in-the-prime-of-his-career” Burnham, whose carefully crafted dynamic figure work is second to none, and you have a book that’d look as sharp as the titular metallic men in question. Fraction could world-build around the odd duck Doc Magnus, but not lose the fun always associated with the franchise. Toss in some climactic battles with new versions of Chemo, Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man, or Monsieur Mallah and the Brain… and you have a perfectly unsellable train wreck – that I’d buy 10,000 copies of.

BONUS! GrimJack: Written and drawn by Unshaven Comics.

What? Boys are allowed to dream!

OK, Internet. Time to tell me how wrong I am! Or better yet? Pitch your impossible book below. We’ll take a vote, make a petition, and incite riots for the best idea. Now, go do that voodoo that you do so well.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Big Batman Spoiler

The Best Fake “Dark Knight Rises” Spoilers

Big Batman Spoiler

Ah, Internet. Even if one doesn’t want to be spoiled for The Dark Knight Rises, you can still keep us entertained. Here, we present the best #FakeDarkKnightRisesSpoilers from Twitter… including, of course, a few of our own. (What? You’re not following us on Twitter already?)



Oh, it appears Jimmy Fallon did this for his own purposes as well…



Dennis O’Neil: Maybe…

Maybe you’re not reading this. Maybe you’re one of the thousands of computer users who lost Internet access on the interface between Sunday and Monday – that’d be midnight – because some really evil cyberstinkers infected your machine with the “Doomsday” virus and in the process made themselves rich. They were caught – sometimes the Feds get it right – but apparently nothing could be done about their mischief they caused and so, barring the unforeseen, at midnight on the ninth, some 69,000 U.S. computers until things get sorted out. I hope that yours isn’t one of them.

Maybe I should switch tenses and say that, again, maybe – is there no end to the maybes? – you won’t be reading this due to malfunctioning machinery. (I’m typing it at a little after five on Sunday. You think I know what will happen in seven hours? You think I know what will happen in two minutes? Please!)

So if you won’t be reading my blather, what will you be doing? Heading toward the annual mind-croggling San Diego Comic Con? If so, well… brace yourself. It’s an intense experience, that con, and I guess it can be an expensive one. Hotel rooms on beachfront San Diego don’t come cheap. Food costs aren’t too bad, but it is a tourist area. And inside the convention itself are hundreds of merchants who, in my experience, are nice people, but they do want to sell you something. And isn’t one of the reasons for con-going to buy stuff you can’t get on your home turf?

But – here it is again – maybe you’ve been bitten by the economy and a trip to southern California is not a current possibility for you. Always next year, but meanwhile… Can you afford a movie ticket? It’s a bit early to see the new Batman flick, which doesn’t open until the twentieth in most places. But the new Spider-Man is all over the place and – here it comes again – maybe you live near a multiplex that reduces admission costs during drive time and, being as financially strapped as you are, you aren’t doing anything else late afternoons, are you? If you have to pay the full freight, skip lunch. And dinner. And don’t even think about popcorn.

Although I haven’t seen the movie myself yet – ahem, maybe Tuesday? – I believe I can calm those who are wondering, What the heck? It’s only been five years since the last Spidey, and only a decade since the first big-screen Spidey and that one did include an origin story, thank you, and now they’re reinventing the whole mythos, including another origin? I mean, what the heck!

Okay, take comfort in remembering that the history of the filmed entertainment’s first cousin, comic books, demonstrates that a little reinvention, from time to time, is not necessarily undesirable. On the contrary. As for the small number of years between origin and origin revisited… There were two filmed adaptations of Dashiell Hammett’s classic crime novel The Maltese Falcon in the ten years before John Huston gave us his version and the existence of the first two did nothing to harm the excellence of Huston’s work.

That’s a factoid you might miss if your computer’s on the fritz and you’re not reading this. Or – wait for it…maybe not.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases Writes From Las Vegas?


SpyGal or ExasperatedSigh-Gal?

So, ladies. Finally, we get what we’ve been waiting for all of our comic-book-loving lives… a comic wherein the female heroine is based on a makeup product.

Thanks to Marvel Custom Solutions and San Francisco-based Benefit Cosmetics, we now have SpyGal, which is available at Benefit makeup counters, and stars a “wise-cracking, pore-zapping persona… modeled after the POREfessional pore minimizing primer.”

To this, I feel I must say… ”Really? In the name of Odin, why??” (Or, in the always effective language of Internet memes, “what is this I can’t even.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for comics geared towards women and for reaching a wider female audience, but I’m pretty sure this is the wrong way to go about it.

Now, I’ve only seen teaser images, and no story text, so I’m willing to withhold at least a sliver of judgment until I’ve seen more, especially since SpyGal is being touted as a “witty” story with a “dynamic, nuanced hero” and “humor and intelligence.”  SpyGal’s job seems to be “helping powerful women spread their influence around the world,” which could be cool, and at one point it looks like she saves her date, and he’s all, “My heroine!!” which is kind of fun. And I am a sucker for a good, witty story (I love good art, but if the story can’t hack it the art never saves it for me), so it’s possible the text could make up for a bit of what I’m seeing. But from the images, it appears the main character… fights bad guys with weapons disguised as makeup? While zipping through the air in completely impractical-for-grappling-hook-use skirts and short coats? As Rorschach would say, “Hrm.”

While I loved the little gadgets in Alias – many of which were built into purses or lipsticks or jewelry – to have this be the main point of a comic (along with, apparently, a romance angle) rubs me the wrong way. I do realize this is meant to be advertising for the cosmetic company, and can’t fault them for wanting to team up with Marvel. And I get the concept of Marvel teaming up with other companies, because money is money, hooray. But I confess to feeling disappointed that this is what Marvel chooses to do for its female demographic. And even with the choice made, I have further skepticism about the execution.

Although the blurb talks about the hero(ine) being faced with “life’s modern problems,” the art and fashion are done with a “vintage female action figure” feel that to me (even with a flying car) reminds me of the ‘50s and an accompanying cultural attitude towards women that I do not need in a modern female-oriented comic. I hope Marvel doesn’t think this is really what female comics fans are looking for. And although I realize that the point of the comic is to sell makeup, what self-respecting crime fighter would use a grappling hook with a grip as tiny as a mascara tube?

Further, not to disparage either the artist or writer on the book, both of whom are talented, but couldn’t Marvel have gotten at least one female creator on this project? Don’t get me wrong; I don’t advocate giving someone the job just because they’re female (that’s just as bad as the opposite) but I know there are talented female artists and writers out there. Why not get one of them to work on a book pitched solely towards women and which deals with turning beauty products used by women into practical super-heroine gear? (Unless none of them wanted to work on it?) Maybe then at the very least Our Heroine would have better bangs.

I know it’s easy to criticize, and that this is geared towards a very specific purpose. But tell me truly, don’t you think there could have been at least a few better ways to execute this? Or that it would have been better not to do it at all?



MIKE GOLD: Fellowship and Censorship

This week I’ve been ruminating about the Internet and free speech over at Michael Davis World. Whereas I don’t want to discourage you from checking out my pearls of wisdom in its awesome glory let alone the interesting and edifying comments in response thereto, I do want to clue you in on what the whole thing’s about.

I said “Arizona House Bill 2549 states if you post an offensive annoying comment online, you are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. What is offensive? What is annoying? The bill criminalizes behavior that is used “to terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend (using) any electronic or digital device.” Of course, it also outlaws lewd or profane language. You could be fined $250,000, and you could be sentenced to six months in the clinker.

 “Do you think this un-American attack on liberty could not possibly pass? Well, you’re wrong. The folks in the Arizona house and the Arizona senate have already passed this bill and it presently awaits their governor’s signature.”

Given this nation’s fear-based cultural drift towards repression of our freedoms, the chilling affect of this law is as overwhelming as it is overwhelmingly depressing.

Then I looked at some of the comments we’ve received on our March Madness campaign here at ComicMix.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, I am a First Amendment absolutist. As long as it’s legal, there is no reason why advertising cigarettes should be illegal (and no, I do not smoke cigarettes). I don’t believe in the concept of “hate crimes.” Hate speech might be evidence of the motivation behind a crime and that’s fair – freedom of speech does not absolve you from the consequences of your actions. But speech is not in an of itself “action” and we have the right to express our opinions. And I certainly do not want to censor or limit in any way anything anybody might comment on here at ComicMix, even if the ox you’re goring happens to be mine.

However, given some of the comments I read recently here on ComicMix, I am making a request for a higher level of civility. There’s no enforcement behind this, and if you want to comment on this column with a “fuck you, you crawling piece of shit,” well, that’s your prerogative… you asshole.

One of the things I like most about ComicMix (and, for that matter, Michael Davis World where ComicMix columnists Martha Thomases, Marc Alan Fishman, Michael and myself also blog) is that, by and large, this is a pretty civil operation. We tend to respect one another’s opinions, or at least we’re usually polite. I realize this places a burden on impulsive wits, but I figure if I can usually rein it in, then anybody can.

ComicMix Sorcerer Supreme Glenn Hauman and I have been discussing all this, and Glenn summed it quite up nicely when he said “Welcome to the Internet.” I’m too much of a Tex Avery / Bob Clampett fan to ever be that cartoon bunny rabbit dancing in the sunshine, but I sometimes recognize being a jerk has its limits.

So, on one hand, I want to compliment us all on being such polite and considerate folks. On the other hand, I’d like to ask those who feel the phrase “flame on!” refers to something other than Johnny Storm to please play nice. We’ve all got enough trauma in our lives, and I hate the idea of chasing anybody out of the sandbox.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil


MIKE GOLD On Criticism And Critics

Of all the characters Dan Ackroyd played on Saturday Night Live back when the show was actually funny and clever, my favorite was a guy named Leonard Pinth-Garnell, a tuxedoed teevee critic who hosted segments called, alternatively, Bad Playhouse, Bad Cinema, Bad Ballet, and so on. Whereas the premise was obvious, the ambiance was brilliant. Pinth-Garnell was an über-snob, the kind who pontificate with their noses so high up in the air you’d think they’d drown in a light drizzle.

Needless to say, damn near everybody who ever applied letters to opinions has a bit of Leonard Pinth-Garnell in him, her, or it. Some of us try to keep him locked up in a dark corner of our brainpans, but he keeps on popping up on our shoulder like the devil that torments Donald Duck, or, more to my point, Tom Hulce in Animal House.

Then the Internet came along and freed our inner-Pinth-Garnell. Now we had a forum where we could say anything. Of course, with great power comes great dues and we have to subject ourselves to comments from the masses. As I see from elsewhere on the Wild Wild Web – certainly not here at ComicMix, where I have come to regard our commenters as family – some responses can be quite abusive.

Well, what goes around comes around.

The problem with criticism is that, categorically, it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel. It’s simply too easy to criticize someone for doing something you didn’t like. Of course, when you do you’re pissing off all those people who did like your target. Doubtlessly, you are aware of the famous aphorism known as Sturgeon’s Law: “ninety percent of everything is crap.” This led to my own definition of a cynic: “he who believes Sturgeon was being conservative.”

Here’s something that confirms your suspicion: occasionally, some critics (never me, of course) often are exploiting their target so they can get their audience all riled up and generate a lot more page-site hits, which inure to the benefit of the advertising revenue. My dear friend, author Max Allan Collins, once referred to this technique as “tossing a hand grenade into the audience and then throwing your body on top of it,” and nobody does that with a bigger smile on his face than Mr. Collins, my generation’s version of Richard L. Breen.

Such criticism is among ComicMix’s raisons d’être. Whereas I do not impose these (or hardly any other) standards upon our sundry columnists and commenters, I strive to be informative in this acre of bandwidth. I like turning people on to cool stuff they might not have come across, or, better still, they were considering but hadn’t decided upon. Like all writers I admire a well-turned phrase, particularly my own. The reason why I never got a vanity plate is because back in my First Comics days Rick Oliver and I saw a car license that read “BLIND.” I can’t beat that one.

Occasionally, we all come across an unavoidable target: one so well promoted that commentary is necessary to preserve the greater societal sanity. This is often known as “the Emperor’s New Clothes,” or “What is Frank Miller doing next?”

Yeah, a little Leonard Pinth-Garnell every once in a while sure is good for the soul.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil and Batwoman



Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. Every asshole has lots of opinions. What comes out of assholes frequently is a load of shit. Check the GOP Presidential debates for verification.

I say this, of course, in the middle of an opinion column sitting in the middle of lots of other opinion columns here at ComicMix. ComicMix, of course, sits in the middle of the Internet which, of course, is comprised mostly of opinion. So – which opinion matters? Outside of mine, of course. How can you tell?

I encountered a fan (well, not really a fan of mine) who wanted to tell me why I sucked. My basic response was: I should care because –? This offended the would-be critic; s/he had bought a book of mine and had a right to his/her opinion. I didn’t dispute that; the real question was – why should it matter to me? The fan got huffy; he/she/it thought I should want to hear that opinion.

Some fans – yes, I do. Others – not so much. One of my primary rules:  not everyone’s opinion matters. Not everyone’s opinion should matter. If everyone’s opinion matters, then no one’s opinion matters. How do you tell the difference?

Experience is a good place to start. Has the person giving you the opinion any experience in the field on which they are opining?

Does the opinion expressed have any facts to back it up? Real, verifiable facts, not ones made up to fit the circumstance (again, GOP presidential candidates; hell, all political candidates). Does it have some thought behind it? If they just want to express how they feel – okay, it’s how they feel but there’s no reason I should listen to it because there is no reason in it.

What is your experience with the person giving his/her opinion? Is it your history that you can trust, to a greater or lesser degree, what they’re saying? If I go to a movie and I read a review that mirrors my experience, then I know I can trust that critic’s opinion. It’s not that their perfect or that I am but I know our tastes are similar enough to make it less likely that I’ll waste my money.

Friends, relatives, colleagues – I know who they are and how trustworthy their opinion is on a given subject. We don’t have to agree, but I can listen with confidence. What they feel about it may be important to me but it’s because I know them. A stranger – well, not so much.

Also, just because someone knows something on one subject doesn’t mean they know anything on another. Come to me for an opinion on writing, story, or comics and I may have some thing useful to say. Ask me about NASCAR – well, I saw the Pixar flic Cars. Take anything I have to say on the topic with a lot of salt.

Editors – if I want to stay employed, I’d better listen to their opinions. I may disagree and I may express my disagreement but, in the end, the editor represents those who own the property or the rights so, unless that owner is me, I need to heed their opinions – even when I disagree.

One editor I had said I couldn’t use thought balloons because, after all, movies didn’t have thought balloons. I disagreed – I pointed out that they were different mediums telling stories in similar but different ways. To start with, movies moved. I couldn’t convince the editor; I worked without thought balloons.

Listening to opinions with which I disagree is important in general. I may not change my mind (or change the speaker’s mind) but I often walk away with a better insight into the opposing view and it can hone my own thoughts and opinions; I know better why I have the opinion that I do. These days, fewer and fewer people seem to do that. We look for only those who reflect our opinion, who agree with our dogma. Dogma is easy; no thought required.

We also should consider why we are being gifted with this person’s opinion. It’s the basic question a writer asks of his/her characters – what do they want? What’s the reason behind what they are doing? Does the person giving you their opinion care about you, do they want something from you, both, neither, more?

My mother was always of the opinion that I should get a teaching degree so I would have “something to fall back on” if my theater or (later) writing career didn’t pan out. I loved my Mom and I knew she was trying to look out for me but underlying that suggestion was her opinion that I wouldn’t make it in the field I chose. I knew that if I had something to fall back on, I’d fall back. Sometimes you have to perform without a net.

We are constantly bombarded with opinions these days and it becomes easier to take someone else’s opinion for our own. The issues are so complex and there are so many compelling issues vying for our attention that it’s easier to latch on to some pre-made opinion than to form our own. The times, however, demand we do the thinking necessary or, at the very least, know whose opinions we listen to and why.


Monday: Mindy Newell Offers Her Opinion

MARTHA THOMASES: Copyrights … and Copywrongs

MARTHA THOMASES: Copyrights … and Copywrongs

Last week, ComicMix, along with most of the Internet, protested against SOPA and PIPA, two bills that would have seriously compromised our ability to use the web to share information … and gossip … and pictures of cats.

The protests were so widespread that Congress backed down and sent the bills back to committee. It was a victory for those of us who spend all day enthralled by our computer screens, and, more important, it was a victory for the free exchange of ideas.

Still, I can understand the motivation behind the bill, despite how crudely and ham-handedly it was written. The purpose was to protect intellectual property. As a writer, I enjoy getting paid for my work. It would make me grumpy if someone else made money from my efforts and didn’t include me in the payday.

If anything, this hubbub shines a light on our wonky and unfair copyright laws. The purpose of copyright is not only to protect the rights of creators, but also to encourage creativity in a capitalist system. If my writing can make me money, I’ll be encouraged to write more. The same is true for songwriters, artists, choreographers, filmmakers, and comic book crews.

Unfortunately, our particular version of the capitalist system doesn’t work that way.

Songwriters, for example, collect royalties from those who record (and then sell) their songs. In many, many cases, they are not able to get their work published without giving away a large percentage (usually as a co-writing credit) to the publisher. As a result, a lot of musicians don’t care if their work gets downloaded illegally, because it increases their audience and they can make more money – which they don’t have to share – on tour.

On a larger scale, this is true in movies and television. We’ve all heard the stories about actors, directors or screenwriters who supposedly have profit participation in their films, but the studios claim there are no profits.

In comics, at least in so-called mainstream comics, the price for a chance to work for a company that would distribute your creation was your copyright. The most famous example is Siegel and Shuster’s Superman. Things have improved, and if you work for Marvel or DC as a creator, you can now get health insurance and a contract (so you can get a mortgage), but you will still most likely have to agree to work for hire.

The major media corporations try to defend their anti-piracy efforts by saying they are protecting creative people. If only. As Kyle Baker  recently explained, the entertainment conglomerates treat creative people as interchangeable widgets. If one artist wants a living wage, ship the job overseas.


The Internet should make it easier for artists to communicate directly with their audiences, without paying the toll of working for a Disney or a Murdoch. It should level the playing field for all entrants.

It should also reduce the price of an admission ticket. Just ask Louis CK.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman