Permanent Damage

Wed, February 18th, 2009 at 6:58pm PST

Comic Books
Steven Grant, Columnist

Blast From The Past Dept:

Had a mild cold most of last week that conveniently developed into an endless hacksaw cough last night – the kind that leaves you thinking your esophagus has been raped by a garden hoe and leaves you pondering a tuberculosis test – that, if history can teach us anything, will likely stop in a couple of days, but meanwhile it's wreaking havoc on my concentration, so it's golden oldie time this week, I'm afraid. This one will at least be new to most readers of either Master Of The Obvious or Permanent Damage, since it first appeared three years ago in my "Fun Fun Fun" column in THE COMICS JOURNAL and punctuates the discussion of the last couple weeks:

A few years back, I coined the term "post-superhero" to represent a sea change in American superhero comics underway at the time, mostly at the hands of British writers. It was the first real shift in paradigm since Stan Lee introduced the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man – then commonly labeled "anti-heroes" – forty years ago.

These were superhero comics stripped of many familiar trappings, from costumes and unexamined kneejerk morality to subplots, though few stripped out everything at once. They often focused more on mood and character than action. (It's likely no coincidence that many who produced "post-superhero" comics cut their teeth on Britain's 2000 AD and short-form strips like "Judge Dredd.") Some (Warren Ellis on THE AUTHORITY; Joe Casey on WILDCATS 3.0) operated out of boredom with the superhero concept, some (Alan Moore on the ABC books, Grant Morrison on JLA and NEW X-MEN) were genuinely fond of superheroes but wanted to restore a sense of wonder to the genre and make it speak better to modern audiences.

Superheroes are easy to despise. As they developed over 60 years, they became increasingly ritualistic and geared to devotees. By and large, they are solely about using superpowers; everything else is window dressing. Considering the standard superhero story always in some way about the imposition of force, they've never provided a good medium for moral tales, but have commonly been straitjacketed by laughably simplistic moralism. (Heroes obey the law, heroes don't kill, heroes leap fearlessly into the fray, etc.) The widespread, mostly unconscious ritualization of superheroes also propelled artists to dominance in the '90s; if stories are ritualistic, anyone can tell them. When form becomes the content, style is all that matters.

The "post-superhero" was a possible way out of the mess. They caught the imaginations of new audiences and re-established the writer's role in comics. The "mainstream" (i.e., the standard superhero) market's reaction was predictable: condemnation on one hand, a rush to capitalize on the new development on the other. SUPERMAN tried to answer the challenge by reducing the Authority (via a thinly-veiled stand-in group called The Elite) to raving psychopaths he preaches to, which became a standard response. DC assumed Grant Morrison's revitalization of the Justice League was due to a renewed interest in their characters rather than Morrison's focused, energetic, unabashedly wild stories, but that theory went to hell when Morrison left. Conversely, Marvel, coming off a bankruptcy and severe sales decline and under new management, saw the "post-superhero" as salvation and quickly began mimicking the trappings, eventually resulting in new "Ultimates" line that stripped out old continuities and recast many familiar Marvel characters with new personalities and apparently more pragmatic moral codes. They also brought on Morrison to bring a 21st century perspective to their central team book, THE X-MEN. He did, thinking the whole mutant concept through so successfully that they had no choice but to overwrite his run the instant he left.

Marvel's co-option of the "post-superhero" and the results were to be expected; it has already been reduced to formula, a style that excuses periodic bursts of ultraviolence while the familiar old content burbles out from underneath. The collapse of the "post-superhero" had begun earlier, the moment Mark Millar took over THE AUTHORITY from Warren Ellis. Ellis' AUTHORITY was about politics and ethics, sprawled across a widescreen action film format. Millar's AUTHORITY, which saw the team battle X-Men and Avengers knockoffs and threw them into fight scenes straight out of a 40 year old Gardner Fox JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, was only about superheroes.

But that's the way it goes. Superhero comics and their fans as a group are particularly tenacious bunch, clinging to their right to simplistic, repetitive material even as they long for more popular attention. They also absorb innovation like sponges, squeezing individual voice from it and applying a veneer of it as broadly and noisily as possible (though often it seems that's just so when the "new style" eventually fades commercially they can claim sales are down because there aren't enough "traditional" heroics in the books). The "post-superhero" has long since faded as an identifiable zeitgeist. Warren Ellis abandoned superhero comics altogether until health problems forced him into a Marvel contract, and with its recent expiration he mostly leaves superheroes behind again. Alan Moore's ABC line of comics ran out its string, and in hindsight seems to have been mostly a smokescreen under which Alan could publish PROMETHEA, a lengthy tract on hermetic philosophy disguised as a superhero story. (With his daughter, Moore has since revived English superheroes of his youth, literally an exercise in nostalgia.) After his X-MEN stint, Morrison retreated to produce a series of "big idea" mini-series for Vertigo. "Post-superhero" tropes nestled into the "mainstream," resulting mainly in nastier heroes and more self-involved deconstructionism. Interestingly, perhaps the most "post-superhero" superhero these days is Batman, which inadvertently demonstrates the limits of development from the "mainstream" perspective: other characters can acknowledge Batman's increasingly terse personality as long as they also note he's the hero of the story and the king of crimefighters, but no one's allowed to mention he's now a total flaming prick.

So, if recidivism is superhero comics' middle name, why pay attention? Because genuinely interesting superhero comics do get published, though they're rarely touted and those that get publicized as interesting rarely are.

Among genuinely interesting recent developments, Grant Morrison has returned to the genre. Morrison contributes more than writing this time – he's close enough to DC's new management to be made both a concept developer for the superhero line and creative director at the company's Wildstorm branch. And he's behind this year's quietest Big Event, DC's SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY. Virtually lost amid blander, more publicized events from both companies that threaten to "change the universe forever," it's the surprise of the year.

On the surface, SEVEN SOLDIERS appears to be standard DC practice, trying to revitalize seven stagnant characters as well as an old team concept. This would seem to be old territory for Morrison, who first made his mark at DC turning the third rate character Animal Man into a dizzying meditation on altered states. But Morrison's after bigger fish this time. Other events tease changing their universes (and never do, because superhero comics above all else must maintain the status quo, and trademarks), Morrison simply changes his. He postulates in the opening salvo, the one-shot that introduces a deftly sketches a new team, not to mention all the subsequent themes of the series, only to obliterate them at issue's end, that there are "in-between places, where solid things turn soft and change… like justice and humanity sometimes do… into monsters. Wonders. Fairy tales." The series is evidently one of those places. Other talents have tried unsuccessfully over the decades to turn comics into superhero comics into mythology. Morrison tries something else. In SEVEN SOLDIERS, he consciously reinvents superhero comics as modern fairy tales. (Literally. His villains are fairies, the hard and violent Shee of Celtic mythology rather than the harmlessly defanged fairies of PETER PAN.)

The characters are a hodgepodge of standards and reinventions, each with their own mini-series, a team whose members don't know each other. The names are meaningless to most readers: Shining Knight, Klarion, Mister Miracle. The minis intersect through fleeting moments and talismans. (A subway train in Manhattan Guardian runs over a monster in Klarion; secondary characters weave in and out, sometimes unrecognizably.) Each arc has a strong theme. Shining Knight examines the limits of virtue, Zatanna the trap of messing with things you don't understand, Klarion the pitfalls of insular societies. There's little talk of good and evil, the binary fixation of superhero comics; where it's mentioned, in MISTER MIRACLE, Morrison flat out posits the DC Universe as a world where evil won.

SEVEN SOLDIERS is really about perspective, less a superhero story (there are precious few superheroics in it, and Morrison incorporates other genres from gangland stories to self-help books), less a collection of mini-series (that's the marketing) than a rashomon of events where characters without perspective provide readers with a panoscopic view. It's an interesting metaphor for existence, for a change.

Sure, it's pulp, but why not? There's room in the world for good pulp. Morrison spits out no end of "comic book" ideas – a buffalo spider, a "Newsboy Army" that declares a United Nations of kids, subway pirates – but keeps control, with taste and intelligence. Never mind the mindless shock, Brownian motion and, ultimately, static nature of other Big Events. This is what superhero comics are supposed to be: a smart antidote for ordinary existence. More than anything, the "post-superhero" was supposed to be about stripping out the baggage and bringing back a sense of wonder that was in line with today's world. With SEVEN SOLDIERS, Morrison's there. It's too bad that, for the market, it's already a dead end. There's no new road here unless other writers can equal, not imitate, Morrison's sensibilities. Simply imitating the form would be pointless, but simply imitating form always is.

A few of the propositions herein failed the test of time; Warren Ellis, for example, has kept his hand in on superhero comics, though much of his efforts focus elsewhere now. But overall the piece is on the money, and my admiration for SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY remains undiminished.


1000 reviews in 1000 days (days 22-28):

From First Second Books:

THE PHOTOGRAPHER by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre & Frédéric Lemercier ($29.95; magazine format paperback)

It's been awhile since anyone has done an interesting fumetti, and I can't recall when any other publisher lifted Fantagraphics' Coconino Press format, but both really work here, in a documentary comics/photo essay on Lefèvre's 1986 travels through Afghanistan as the (then) Soviet-supported Kabul government wars with the Mujahideen for the country's future. It's one thing to read comics about foreign cultures and the people behind them, and plenty of great comics along those lines now exist, and another to see actually photographs. It's an odd pairing in some ways - the photos are so stark the figures therein seem frozen and at times harsher than human, but the intervening comics (the book is far more comics than photos) nicely warm and characterize them – and an interesting effect. Considering the country's at war at the time, the book dwells very little on the war and focuses mainly on the Afghan people, and a culture that in some ways goes on forever and in other ways has since completely disappeared. Very good, if a little dry (that might be down to the translation) but I can't think of anything else quite like it.

From Dynamite Entertainment:

THE MAN WITH NO NAME #7 by Christos Gage & Diego Bernard ($3.50; comic book)

From what I understand, Dynamite has been having pretty good luck with their "branded" line of western comics - LONE RANGER, LONE RANGER & TONTO, ZORRO and the strangest choice of the lot, THE MAN WITH NO NAME, franchising the Clint Eastwood character from Sergio Leone westerns commonly called The Man With No Name. (His name, by the way, if you accept that the character in all three films is the same person, is "Blondy" Joe Manco; the "man with no name" thing was a p.r. gimmick.) Turns out it's... all right. The charm of the character came more from Eastwood than from anything innate, and Leone's vision, not the stories, carried the movies. Put all three of those qualities together, you've got a classic. But this only has one of them, and though Gage & Bernard take a mighty stab at it, half the story demands knowledge of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY - this issue begins a story positioned as a direct sequel to it – and the other half is totally divorced from it. "The Man" is handled okay – without Eastwood, he's all mannerisms anyway – but Tuco bears no resemblance, visually or in character, to the film version. So what is it? Do they want us to reference the movies, or don't they? If they do, then the book's suffers badly by comparison, since it brings virtually none of Leone's characteristics to play. If they don't, it's a decent western, but it's just a decent western.

From Del Rey Manga:

YŌKAIDEN by Nina Matsumoto ($10.95; trade paperback)

Is this Japanese or Amerimanga? I only ask because it reads left to right but is set in medieval Japan and involves a boy who becomes involved with, for lack of a better term, demons, then enters their world to find the demon that killed his grandmother. It's done well enough, but there's nothing especially memorable about it. Average.

From New Baby Productions:

ELEMENTAL FOURCES #1-3 by Crisman Strunk, Elic Mullarky, JC Grande, John Becaro & Ernest Jocson ($3.49@; comic books)

On the one hand, this series is loaded with things I'm sick to death of: the Apocalypse, ancient quasi-religious secret organizations, the year 2012, superheroes with powers based on the four elements of ancient quasi-science, demons in supervillain costumes, dragons, angels, kung fu monasteries, and Lucifer. On the other hand, it's relatively well written and drawn – it looks as good as many comics published in the '90s and doesn't drop much of a stitch when pencilers switch in mid-stream, and the writing is considerably better than the clumsy pun of the titles – but it's one of those comics that's little more than the Cuisinart version of a million comics that came before it, and there's enough talent here coming up with an original idea or two to hang the whole thing on wouldn't have killed them. It's okay, but just.

From Titan Books:

NEMI II by Lise Myhre ($14.95; hardcover)

Goth chick humor, though maybe not Goth: the title character has fixations on elves, UFOs, the Easter bunny and various other cutesy quirks. Since most vignettes are four panels, though there are some longer pieces, I gather this was a newspaper or online strip somewhere. The heroine and her friends strive relentlessly against reality, rules, aging and all those other things that make us dull, middle-aged and middle class, so I admire its spirit. I just wish it were funnier. It's amusing though, and occasionally dark, but always cute, pleasantly drawn and unlikely to offend anyone. Unless alcohol and extramarital sex upset them. It's okay.

From IDW:

FISHTOWN by Kevin Colden ($19.99; hardcover)

A strange little social crime novel, simple and well told. Emotionally disconnected teenagers in a Philadelphia neighborhood lead empty lives of petty crime, meaningless sex, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and finally murder, unveiled through a series of interviews with police. There are no twists in the story to speak of, no dramatic development of note aside from the slow unveiling of past events. Past and future here are both written in stone. But Colden reveals his characters' innate monstrousness mercilessly, and their behavior becomes scarier for being virtually pointless, even by their standards, and how little, considering how bonded they are, they care for each other. The coloring – only black, white, yellow and red allowed – effectively punctuates the action. Genuinely creepy.

From Cosmic Publications Ltd:

COMICS INTERNATIONAL #207 ed. Mike Conroy ($4.99; magazine)

CI remains my favorite newszine, not because it rivals the depth of THE COMICS JOURNAL or that their coverage is superior to the big comics newssites (it isn't) but because its English perspective is just skewed enough that it becomes a sort of control group for my own perceptions. They breeze through press releases with aplomb, handily cutting out all the blather and fat to leave nicely encapsulated data, that somehow makes the projects discussed seem more interesting. There are also nice little capsule interviews that cut to the chase, focused coverage of most of the English comics scene, quirky feature articles like this issue's "Apes: A History In Comics," some coverage of European comics, good capsule reviews of numerous comics, and decent dollops of historical perspective, while it shares the problem of all print comics newszines: it's always behind the times. But regardless of subject or timeliness, it's always an enjoyable read. Same thing in this issue. "Dependable" is often a backhanded slur, but not here. CI is dependable.


Notes from under the floorboards:

An angry response to last week's NYCC report:

Your "secret East Coast correspondent" couldn't be more wrong [about the New York Comic Con]. No big announcements? Sure, no huge announcements, but plenty of items. Since when do the announcements made at a con determine the success of a convention anyway? Your own website, CBR, got interviews with the likes of Bendis, Loeb and Millar about their plans for the Ultimate Universe and while those may not have been huge announcements, they matter to many fans. The show was packed. The panels were well attended. Many retailers did very well, though some did not. That's true for every convention. All the retailers I spoke with did good business. I know two who did record sales.

If this guy is comparing the success of NYCC to San Diego, that's totally unfair. San Diego is a special case and judging any other show against the announcements and success of San Diego sets the level way too high for the other show to even compete. NYCC is not San Diego, but NYCC is a good show.

"Overall, I got the feeling that this year the Direct Market might tank." Look, the coming year is going to be a tough one and one that requires people to work harder and smarter than ever, but there's still plenty of opportunity in the market and plenty to be positive about when it comes to comics. C'mon, 20 years ago if you told a comics fan that there'd be both WATCHMEN and WOLVERINE movies coming out in the same year, they'd laugh in your face."

I don't know about that – even 20 years ago they were making comics movies – but if you'd told them there'd be good WATCHMEN & WOLVERINE films coming out in the same year, sure, that might've been the reaction. Of course, whether they're good remains to be seen. (I'm not betting they're not, I'm just saying we don't know yet.) As for comparing New York to San Diego, my "secret correspondent" hasn't been to San Diego in years.

Oh, sweet mother of Mitra! Marvel just sent me another volume of WHAT IF CLASSICS. Among other things by a lot of people like Mike Fleisher and Frank Miller, this one includes both my favorite WHAT IF story and my least favorite. (Of the ones I did, I mean.) See if you can figure out which is which...

Wait, is the forthcoming RONIN & MOCKINGBIRD Marvel's answer to DC's GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY? (For those who don't know, Mockingbird – I co-created her with Mark Gruenwald in an issue of MARVEL TEAM-UP, updating her from a character called The Huntress, since DC had established their own Huntress character by that point – was intended (by Mark; I didn't care one way or the other) to be Marvel's Black Canary, since was slowly trying to create a Marvel version of the Justice League and every hero in it. (You may now go play a "which is which" game.) He'd already pegged Hawkeye (now Ronin, since Bullseye is now Hawkeye, and who's Bullseye now again?) as DC's Green Arrow... which is why he paired the two romantically as soon as he could. Hey, I just thought of a drinking game: take a bottle into a comics shop and have a shot every time you see a Superman or Batman analog on the stands...

It wasn't that long ago that any whiff of fantasy sent the BBC into fits of derisive airsniffing – better to leave that sort of thing to the uncouth lowlifes at ITV - but since the advent of the latest DR. WHO run, British TV has been grasping at the fantastic, possibly because '30s-set class dramas are dull as dishwater, and even in Britain dull no longer seems to cut it with audiences. Unleashed as the dam burst: TORCHWOOD, THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES, PRIMEVAL, JEKYLL, NO HEROICS, MERLIN, THE SURVIVORS, DEMONS and probably others I've forgotten or only borderline qualify (like LIFE ON MARS, the near-future set SPOOKS: CODE 9, or ROBIN HOOD). Even Jack the Ripper made a comeback of sorts in the recent, innocuous WHITECHAPEL. And now BEING HUMAN, which posits a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost sharing a flat somewhere in London. No, it's not a comedy, but a sensitive drama of monsters attempting to create a place for themselves between unsuspecting humans (who, oddly, are rather blasé about it when they do tumble) and others of their kind, in particular the vampire, who want to emerge from the shadows to take their proper place of power over the human cattle, despite all of them apparently having done rather well in the shadows. Yes, it's the same damn plot as in almost every other bit of vampire fiction in the last couple decades. But at least he's got a storyline. The ghost, a formerly engaged woman who died in their flat (and the secret of that is ridiculously obvious from practically the first sight of her), has something approaching a storyline, but, miraculously, as soon as the vampire and werewolf can see her everyone can see her. The werewolf just roots around for places he can transform without scarfing down passersby for dinner. The pilot, made last year, was atrocious, but the first episode of the mostly re-cast series is significantly better. As in I could watch it without wanting to throw something at the TV. Better enough to sit through the six episode series? The jury's still out...

In media piracy news, the Obama Justice Department, in a frenzy of hiring lawyers with a history of litigating on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), now seems poised to leap to the RIAA's aid in pursuing legal action against music pirates, since judges keep handing the RIAA bad news. Is this what Obama meant by getting rid of lobbyists, give them government jobs so they don't have to "influence" government policy anymore, they can just control it themselves? Speaking of piracy, many charges in an ongoing lawsuit against Pirate Bay have been dropped upon "revelations" (that have only been obvious forever to anyone who took a look) that Pirate Bay doesn't warehouse or duplicate any copyrighted material itself, it's only a listing service. You'd think someone would have figured that out before. Needless to say, the RIAA and MPAA are not pleased, since without those charges it begins to look like Pirate Bay is correct when it claims its actions are legal under Swedish law.

Seems Republican Congressmen are moving to block the closure of our "terrorist holding facility" at Guantanamo Bay by trying to keep the administration from moving any detainees to prisons in the Congressmen's home states. In a way they have a point. Most American prisons are already overcrowded, badly run and ridiculously expensive to operate, and, since a lot of cities and states refuse to differentiate between pot smokers and mass murderers, now serve little practical purpose aside from being crime colleges, where small time criminals become affiliated with big time criminals, and various gangs recruit. Maybe throwing violently radicalized Muslims into the mix isn't the best idea. That's if you accept that all Gitmo inmates deserve to be there. Maybe the best idea would be to finally give all of them fair trials, to determine if they should be in any prison. Of course, that's what the whole idea of off-shore incarceration totally severed from the American justice system was concocted to prevent in the first place...

Remember Blackwater, the third-party army serving as mercena – whoops, I mean "civilian contractors" – in Iraq for the occupation, as well as building private prisons and other interesting activities here in the States (no word on the future of those now that their government contracts are theoretically all dried up)? Blackwater is no more! It has "rebranded itself" Xe, pronounced Z, apparently to shake off their war-built image as civilian-murdering thugs. As long as they're updating their image, they might want to rethink the business cards printed with human blood, too...

I really have to wonder what's going on with Microsoft these days. They used to be pretty good at marketing strategy, but lately every "move" seems to be without rhyme or reason. The company's big bid for new revenue a year or so ago was a push into "online advertising," like no one ever thought of that before. It hasn't been mentioned much since. Then they "embraced" open source software, only now they're hiring someone whose duties are expected to be a "defense" against the Linux operating system, which has been gaining a lot of ground lately, especially as cash-strapped companies look for ways to cut back on costs. (Considering the major problem with Linux, on a business level, is inadequate software – sorry, but I've used both, and OpenOffice is no match for Microsoft Office – seems to me Microsoft's best option for dealing with the "threat" is porting software to Linux, same as they do for Mac.) Now they've come up with an extremely clever new plan: stores. Physical stores. Everyone else is moving online, and Microsoft is talking stores. Are they nuts? I keep getting reminders from Circuit City about their liquidation and loads of bargains still available, so I checked my local CC the other day. Not really anything there I wanted, but I noticed the liquidation prices were still higher than what I'd pay ordering through NewEgg, at least on items I'm familiar with. Half the rest of that shopping center was empty storefronts. And this is what Microsoft wants to expand into? At least they should be able to get some pretty good bargains on rent...

Speaking of the economy, I notice that even news shows have started to note American citizens are never referred to as "citizens" anymore. We're "consumers." Listen to politicians, pundits and businessmen talk and all you'll hear about is "American consumers." Or, during an election year, "voters." But we're rarely called "citizens" anymore. This is really the current economic crisis' elephant in the room. When people run into economic crisis, they're told it's all their fault, and they should have saved instead of buying things. When companies or the economy goes into crisis, the problem becomes that consumers aren't spending enough. Banks used to encourage savings, but now they make more money if you use their credit card instead, so they pay lip service to saving and encourage spending, preferably on credit. The new problem is that the economy now has many people cutting way back on their spending. That's considered dangerous, but from a business perspective it's really dangerous because all it takes is a little while of not buying junk – the American economy is predicated on selling people lots of junk - for people to realize they don't miss it. What happens if consumers who stop consuming start thinking of themselves as citizens again?

Also speaking of the economic crisis, I hear it hit Asia (esp. China and Japan) in a big way this past weekend. Let's see... the USA, Europe (the Euro's in free fall), Asia... I have no idea how things are in Canada or Australia, though I doubt all the fires and flooding are doing Down Under any good... never mind if this qualifies as a depression yet, does it qualify as great yet?

Congratulations to R. Foster, the first to spot last week's Comics Cover Challenge theme was "ball." R. wishes to point your attention to pop culture site Scary-Go-Round, which he calls "the best webcomic online." Hmmm... does that mean there are better webcomics offline? Go see for yourself.

For those who came in late, almost every week I run a Comics Cover Challenge: the covers of seven seemingly unrelated comics (thanks to The Grand Comic Book Database for the covers) from throughout comics history are spread, usually not in any particular order, down the column. But a secret theme – it could be a word, a design element, an artist... anything, really - binds them together, and the first one to e-mail me with the correct solution can promote the website of their choice, subject to my approval. IMPORTANT NEW RULE: PLEASE INCLUDE WITH YOUR GUESS THE WEBSITE YOU'D LIKE TO PROMOTE IF YOU WIN. As in most weeks, there's a secret clue cleverly hidden somewhere in this column, if you can get through it. Good luck.

Those wishing to comment should leave messages on the Permanent Damage Message Board. You can also e-mail me but the chances of a reply are next to nil these days, given my workload, though I do read all my e-mail as long as it's not trying to sell me something. IMPORTANT: Because a lot of people apparently list it in their e-address books, this account has gotten a slew of virus-laden messages lately. They're no real threat but dealing with them eats up time I don't really have, to the extent I can no longer accept unsolicited e-mail with attachments. If you want to send something via attachment (say, art samples) ask me first. If I say okay, then send. Unsolicited e-mail with attachments will be wiped from the server without being read.

IMPORTANT PUBLIC NOTICE OF COLUMN POLICY: any email received in response to a piece run in this column is considered a letter of comment available for printing in the column unless the author specifically indicates it is not intended for public consumption. Unless I check with you or the contents of your e-mail make your identity unavoidably obvious, all letters are run anonymously.

Please don't ask me how to break into the business, or who to submit work to. The answers to those questions are too mercurial for even me to keep up with.

The WHISPER NEWSLETTER is now up and running via the Yahoo groups. If you want to subscribe, click here.

I'm reviewing comics sent to me – I may not like them but certainly I'll mention them – at Steven Grant c/o Permanent Damage, 2657 Windmill Pkwy #194, Henderson NV 89074, so send 'em if you want 'em mentioned, since I can't review them unless I see them. Some people have been sending press releases and cover proofs and things like that, which I enjoy getting, but I really can't do anything with them, sorry. Full comics only, though they can be photocopies rather than the published version. Make sure you include contact information for readers who want to order your book.

TAGS:  post-superhero, seven soldiers, grant morrison, nycc

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