When Words Collide: SPECIAL EDITION: Thoughts of Randomness

Mon, December 26th, 2011 at 11:58am PST

Comic Books
Timothy Callahan, Columnist/Reviewer
11

In honor of the holiday week -- when, let's be honest, no one is paying attention to any of this except for us hardcore comics readers and CBR devotees (a.k.a. the best humans ever) -- I will run today's column in the form of the famous "Random Thoughts" popularized by Comics Should be Good's very own Chad Nevett. Of course, I will change the name and disavow any connection to avoid the inevitable legal battle.

Thought of Randomness! I have been sorting through my respectably extensive collection of "2000 AD" progs from the 1980s -- issues I acquired when I was trying to complete my "Zenith" run, back when I was first thinking about writing about Grant Morrison, years before my book ever hit the stores -- and thinking that I need to start buying "2000 AD" on a regular basis again. Following Jog's advice, I checked out the "Indigo Prime" relaunch issues -- via download and iPad -- and those were pretty great, making me curious about the ongoing series that followed. But I would prefer to have the physical copies, definitely, so I may have to go back issue digging.

Then I remembered that Al Ewing and Brendan McCarthy were teaming up for "The Zaucer of Zilk" next year, and I let my local retailer know to add "2000 AD" to my pull list, effective immediately. Even if that serial doesn't begin for another three months.

Thought of Randomness! I should start buying "Heavy Metal," too. I have bought maybe three issues off the stands ever. The rest of my collection of that venerable and sleazy series comes from back issue orders and convention buys. What if I stopped buying Marvel and DC comics entirely, and subsisted entirely on a diet of "Heavy Metal" and "2000 AD"? Would that make me unbearable?

Thought of Randomness! If I were to have a Belgian waffle right now, I would cover it with almonds, chocolate chips, blueberries, maple syrup and whipped cream. Even though I did that this morning.

Thought of Randomness! I stopped reading weekly Marvel and DC releases over the past two weeks -- the only exceptions were "Batman, Inc.: Leviathan Strikes!" and "Justice League" #4 -- and during that time, I was able to read three prose books. I read "Invitation to a Beheading," by Vladimir Nabokov, Paul Trynka's "David Bowie: Starman," and "The Pastel City," by M. John Harrison.

Thought of Randomness! "Invitation to a Beheading" is not recommended, even though Nabokov is probably my favorite author of all time. My Nabokov Top Five: 1. Pnin, 2. Pale Fire, 3. Lolita, 4. The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, 5. The Collected Short Stories.

Thought of Randomness! "Hunky Dory" is the best David Bowie album, but I was drawn to the Trynka-penned biography largely because I wanted to find out how someone could go from the self-titled first album, filled with goofy pop songs, to "Space Oddity," which begins with one of the greatest songs of all time. Turns out, if the Trynka bio is to be believed, that it was a matter of Bowie shifting from a pandering-to-a-perceived-audience mentality, to a do-what-he-wants-sonically mentality. That sounds about right, though it's an age-old story.

What we rarely see: biographies of people who stopped trying to please an audience and did their own thing, but failed miserably. Those guys and gals disappear and we never hear from them again.

Thought of Randomness! Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's "Justice League" #4 is yet another installment in the "let's show how awesome Aquaman really is" show. If you are a mindless alien strike force, he will command fat sharks to fly into the air and eat you, then he will impale you on his trident. So don't even try it. Also, he has sideburns.

I like "Justice League." It's like sitting next to Geoff Johns and Jim Lee on a plane while they talk about how cool their jobs are.

Thought of Randomness! "Pastel City" is a fantastic fantasy/sci-fi novel. If you haven't read it, know this: it is better than most of the fantasy and/or sci-fi novels you have read. The surly dwarf pilots a huge exoskeleton and they fight unstoppable robots that steal brains from their victims. And they use laser swords. And the novel debuted in 1970.

If it were ever to be adapted into a comic book, Brandon Graham and James Stokoe should collaborate on it.

Thought of Randomness! I ordered some original art from Brandon Graham and James Stokoe last week, in preparation of their eventual collaboration on a "Pastel City" graphic novel, even if they don't know that will ever happen and I have no idea if they have read that novel. Let's make it happen. Go!

Thought of Randomness! Paul Gulacy loves to shade the philtrum on his characters, doesn't he? That's his signature move. That, and big, glassy eyes.

Thought of Randomness! I read "Spies, Vixens, and Masters of Kung Fu: The Art of Paul Gulacy," over the weekend. It's pretty sloppy, with some bizarre overpraise about his Batman work, and much of the art is reproduced poorly. It's a glossy book, with technical flaws and a lot of awkward highlights from Gulacy's career mixed with some genuinely fascinating stuff. That gives the whole book a trashy appeal, though, that kind of goes along with the Gulacy aesthetic. Even though the words are reverent and the interview excerpts are shallow, the presentation of the art makes him seem like an outsider artist drawing these iconic characters under the noses of the big corporations. That's one way to look at it. I am kind of obsessed with his work, and the weirder and more stiffly posed it looks, the more engaging I find it.

His "Catwoman" run is not one of my favorites, though.

Thought of Randomness! Why doesn't every company just use Rian Hughes-designed logos on every comic published?

Thought of Randomness! Chad Nevett and I returned for a very fancy, very special holiday edition of the "Splash Page Podcast" that is not holiday-themed in any way. But it's about 180 minutes long, so you'll want to set aside a significant chunk of time, or just go for a long drive with our voices blasted through your speakers. It's probably the greatest podcast you've ever heard. I theorize about everything and Chad keeps it real.

Thought of Randomness! Though Chad will have you believe that he created the very idea of "Random Thoughts," scientists have proven that human beings have random thoughts five times per second. And archeologists have uncovered original scrolls written by Thucydides that read: "Random Thought! Pericles is wicked convincing!"

Thought of Randomness! I left the Brooklyn Comics and Graphic Festival earlier this month and neglected to pick up any copies of "Hellberta" #1, "Thickness" #2, or the "Kid Mafia" minicomic. I didn't see any of those books, but I wasn't looking for them either. Next time I go to one of these things, I need Matt Seneca and Tucker Stone and Joe McCulloch to follow me around and point out everything I need to pick up. I will buy Snapple and candy bars for lunch, guys!

Thought of Randomness! Even if I had read the last couple of weeks of single-issue comics, I would still be about eight months behind on Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque (and friends) "American Vampire" series. What happened was that I misplaced one of the issues this summer, and I didn't find it until about a month ago, and now I have this thick stack of issues to catch up on and haven't sat down to devote myself to catching up. The same thing has happened to me with Jeff Parker's "Thunderbolts" series.

I plan to catch up on both series soon. If they end up totally killing it with greatness, and they should have ended up on my Top 30 Comics of 2011 list, I will make sure the historical record books include an asterisk.

Thought of Randomness! Television's Ryan Callahan (currently on break from television to hang out here in Massachusetts and watch wrestling on his laptop, using my ping pong table as a laptop stand) and I are in the midst of one of our famous 24-Hour Nonconsecutive Film Festivals, and we are only one-point-five movies into it. We are not likely to hit the 24 hour mark before he has to go back to normal life, but you can follow us on Twitter, using the "#24noncon" hashtag.

All of our selections come from Netflix Instant Watch, and so far all we've seen are Michael Mann's "The Keep," and the first half of Robert Aldrich's "Ulzana'a Raid"

Thought of Randomness! What is the comic book version of "The Keep" do you think? The comic -- or graphic novel -- that may have had some kind of idea at its core, and may have had talented creators involved, but was just one bad decision after another? What is the wow-this-is-just-bad-taste-on-the-page of the comic book world? "Infinite Crisis"? "Superior"? Half of the "Uncanny X-Men" runs ever?

Thought of Randomness! F. Paul Wilson, writer of the novel "The Keep" film was based upon, found our Twitter feed and told his followers to check out our reactions. He was not a fan of the film, apparently. And anyone who watches it can easily see why.

It's kind of an awesome movie, though. Not so-bad-it's-good, but so-bad-I-can't-believe-they-made-those-choices. No flashlights were harmed in the production of the film. Or maybe they were.

Thought of Randomness! If you haven't been paying close attention, you may have missed the fact that I'm spending the next year (well, 10 months more) rereading pretty much all the Alan Moore comics and writing about what I find over at Tor.com. I've already tackled "Marvelman" and "V for Vendetta" along with some lesser lights such as "Skizz" and his "Star Wars" tales. "Captain Britain" is coming up soon, then I'll settle into a month of "Swamp Thing." If I'm going to be honest, I'll say that rereading all of that Alan Moore stuff has helped to make normal, weekly Marvel and DC releases seem pretty tame and kind of insipid by comparison. That's one of the reasons I decided to take a couple weeks off from reading the Wednesday comics.

Moral of the story: few are as good as Alan Moore. Period.

Thought of Randomness! I wonder if Television's Ryan Callahan will notice if I steal some of the chocolate-covered espresso beans he got in his Christmas stocking?

In addition to writing reviews and columns for COMIC BOOK RESOURCES, Timothy Callahan is the author of "Grant Morrison: The Early Years" and editor of "Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes" anthology. More of his thoughts on comics can be seen regularly at the Geniusboy Firemelon blog.

Follow Tim on Twitter: TimCallahan

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TAGS:  when words collide, justice league, jim lee, geoff johns, brendan mccarthy, al ewing, the zaucer of zilk

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