Saturday, July 28, 2007

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

My flatmate has a weird comic book. She's left something called Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by Daniel Clowes out for any and all to have a look at so I thought, "Why not?"

Here's something with story elements you've never seen before. Or at least I haven't. I've never read anything by Daniel Clowes before, perhaps that's why.

A guy goes to a movie and seems to recognise someone in the movie. He is suddenly determined to find her. He borrows his friend's car and bizarre stuff that can only be rightly referred to by setting politeness aside and calling it, well, weird shit. And while this weird shit is happening to him, utter randomness that is occasionally related to the plot just suddenly pops up and takes a page or two. A brief interlude of other oddities before commencing back to the weird shit.

I have no idea why in the background the country was taken over by a revolutionary force bent on removing all men but their leader from the planet. Maybe that happens more in one of these other comics by the same author and it helps place the story with those... I will probably not be checking them out to see. It was a bit too much everything that it was and with art that felt flat and stiff to me helping tell the story.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

covered up in bait-and-switch

I know... well, I strongly suspect... that this cover is supposed to be funny and I get the joke. It's just not a funny joke.

The solicited cover may be a little bit flat, but it screams "old school Batgirl". You know that whatever Batgirl was when she started, this was it. Apparently this is the cover for her first appearance, which seems quite fitting for the volume of her first comics.

What the cover it actually got screams is a little bit different. It is more along the lines of "heroine not worth reading about". I'm not certain how that is supposed to sell books.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Museum of Terror

It seems that seinen, or manga for men, isn't selling well, leading to comments about how men aren't buying manga until someome pointed out that josei, or manga for women, isn't selling so well either. Shounen, manga for boys, and shoujo, manga for girls, are both happily making their way onto the USA Today 150 bestsellers list on many weeks. This is something to lament since it's not really the good stuff, but as the readers mature, so will their tastes. It's still very new to a lot of them.

Not exactly in honor of the whole "men aren't buying manga!" dust-up, I picked up the first volume of Museum of Terror (Tomie 1) by Junji Ito. I actually just happen to think there's some good stuff in the seinen section. Well, if the manga was split up into those sections there would be. This is award winning, but not really something that will change the trends.

Museum of Terror is really, well, a bit of a gore fest. It's no Berserk where the artist seems fascinated with the idea of cramming as much intestine onto every page as possible while still allowing some room to tell the story, but it is definitely trying to gross out the reader. It's also not a psychological piece in any way, which seems to be the horror I'm most likely to like. There's no 6th Sense twist coming here.

The book seems a little heavy handed in telling the story of a girl who cannot die. The action is often motivated by the characters' mysterious desires upon meeting her that even they don't know where are coming from, which adds up to unmotivated in my book. Even the bits that are supposed to be shockingly gross just don't have that touch of possible reality that makes things actually gross. They just can't happen. (In the way that two atoms can't occupy the same space, not in the way zombies aren't real.)

To be fair, I did suspect this book would be "too gross for me" when I picked it up, but I found it rather tamer than expected. I also expected it to be a little more than a zombie flick with a gimmick, but that's approximately what it is.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

new expansions

I have replaced the not quite right "read more" links that could only be on the bottom of the post and couldn't be changed to anything else and didn't quite work right anyway. Now my blog is much

much much much
cooler than before.

Here's what I did:

Place into the stylesheet of the template:
.commenthidden {display:none}
.commentshown {display:inline}

Place into the head, not in the stylesheet:

<script type="text/Javascript">
function togglecomments (postid) {
var whichpost = document.getElementById(postid);
if (whichpost.className=="commentshown") {
whichpost.className="commenthidden"; }
else {
whichpost.className="commentshown"; }

And then this into the post template:

<a aiotitle="click to expand" href="javascript:togglecomments('UniqueName')">tease text</a>
<div class="commenthidden" id="UniqueName">hidden stuff goes here</div>

And, yes, "UniqueName" has to actually be a unique name. I little more complicated in the actual post but miles better.

(And this is where I stole it.)

Of course, it probably doesn't work in the RSS feed anyway.

A new ending

Scrolled through my wish list and noticed a "Pre-order" button had turned into an "Add to cart" button unexpectedly. So I clicked on the picture and it said "one left!" implying there might actually have been more than one at some point. So I looked it up on Tokyopop and while I waited for it to actually perform the search I asked, found it in the new books out this month list. Jing, King of Bandits: Twilight Tales vol. 7 is finally out, and only 1.5 years late!

Friday, July 13, 2007


This is a wonderful book, but what to say about it that hasn't already been said? The quote on the back that I most agree with:

"Disarming and often humorous, Persepolis is ultimately shattering."
--Joe Sacco, author of Palestine
Interestingly, I picked up his book at the same time...

But this is about Persepolis the story of a childhood by Marjane Satrapi. Right now the movie is making the film festival rounds. It was huge at Cannes, where the complaints of the Iranian government were ignored. It was to open the Bangkok International Film Festival but there the complaints, and even threats, were listened to and it was replaced.

The autobiographical story tells of moments from 10 to 14 which happened to be a rather historic time for Iran. Her family is upper class, so her childhood is not necessarily a common one. The occasional glimpses of the common classes and their treatment, usually through her family's maid, are telling. But these aren't really the point.

This is the tale of an eccentric child with liberal parents who allow her to think and dream in a time when great political forces are at work. It is at times wild as the strength of the child, the parents, and the society co-mingle and collide. It is, in the end, everything Joe Sacco says in that sentence above, which holds far more than one might expect.

What's a Zuda?

Apparently DC wants to go into webcomics, and they're calling it "Zuda". For some reason the phrase "the YouTube of webcomics" keeps coming up in describing it. Seems to me that was probably KeenSpot and a few others, long before there was a YouTube.

They're holding a contest and eventually one lucky winner will get the opportunity to get paid for writing a webcomic, which usually you don't get. They'll also have to carry the site for the first month until there's a second winner, which seems a bit much. Hopefully the editors will take the opportunity to choose at least one other comic themselves, as they say they will from time to time. After all, DC doesn't actually have a ready built webcomic audience and plenty of their readers don't want anything to do with comics on a screen.

The facts aren't in yet for what the winner (and any chosen player) gives up to have that pay check. Being DC, they'll probably want some sort of control over the future of the creation. It may not be outright ownership of characters and worlds, but there will be control. So if you've only got one idea it probably shouldn't go into the contest. On the other hand, if you're a one-trick-pony, you probably aren't made for an industry that banks on creativity.

Given that there is no average webcomicer, the opportunity to draw something for a year getting paid could be success. For many, success isn't about money but notoriety and page hits.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Mozilla 2.0, may I have a word with you? Tabs were great, wonderful, and once you got over just putting the new ones at the end, even correctly ordered. Why do you want to go and break them?

See, here's the deal. When I click on a tab, that means I want to change to that window. I don't then want the tab to be selected. When I go do the arrow keys, the window is supposed to scroll, not change to the next or previous tab.

When I open up lots and lots of tabs, I want to see all of them. They're supposed to resize, not scroll off the side of the screen. What part of 50 to 250 pixels wide don't you understand? That doesn't mean always 250 pixels wide.

Now I have to go searching the web for how to fix things because I sure didn't find it just going through the settings GUI.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bride and Prejudice

My neighbor hadn't gotten around to watching a movie he checked out from the library, so he brought it over so everyone could fail to watch it together. The flatmate not on vacation said, "Oh! Bride and Prejudice! I wanted to see this one!" Apparently it's done by at least some of the folk who did Bend It Like Beckham, which was an alright movie. And it has award nominations.

Well, if it's so great (and no one else is going to watch it anyway), I thought I might watch it.

To date, no Bollywood movie that I know of has ever tried to claim that it was natural at any stage of Indian life for everyone to get up and start singing dancing in unison, choreographed and in just the right ratio of men and women. This movie would have me believe that one of the dance numbers was natural. Okay, that was probably just trying too hard to deal with people suddenly singing for an audience that doesn't get many new musicals anymore.

The movie itself if about a couple rich friends, one who is Indian and decided to go home so that mom can find him a bride. His friend falls in love with her sister and she with him but neither one will admit it. This is before they've even seen each other close up. Once talking she decides he's boorish while he finds her intelligent and outspoken (which she is sort of presented as, especially outspoken). As he proves that he is boorish, but honestly boorish, she apparently decides he's not so bad and all is right in the end.

Whatever. It is probably banking too much on the viewer believing this is Pride and Prejudice with the details changed. It will follow along to the prescribed ending regardless of how well motivated the characters seem to be along the way and these characters are not motivated at all. In fact, there was plenty of motivation away from the prescribed ending, yet somehow it gets there.

The background story with the friend meeting a woman his mom has found for him with conflict in the form of a boorish American friend who convinces him the woman is being forced by her mother that is eventually resolved is a better motivated story than the main one and it's not much more than a few facts.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Planetary excursions

Google Mars!

A false color (by elevation) Mars including markers for the rovers and various landmarks. Perfect for when exploring Earth seems just a little too close to home. Also excellent for when you are planing your next hike on Mars (scroll to the very bottom).

Mister Blank

Mister Blank Exhaustive Collection by Christopher J. Hicks (who for some reason is only mentioned on the copyright page and on some notes in the back but not on the cover) is a most exceptional comic book. Every time I go back to it, I've forgotten that it's actually only black and white. There is no way someone pulled off that much contrast and character with a few bold lines and a bucket of black, but he does. In short, the art is nothing short of phenomenal.

But art isn't everything, there has to be a story! He delivers there too. A quick introduction to our everyman character Samuel Smith, his dead end job, and the love of his life, then a head first dive into action. Quite literally. Once started, this roller coaster ride keeps on rampaging for another 300+ pages of pure enjoyment.

Everyman Sam Smith has a boring but livable life. He has a great dog and a job that pays the bills but can't quite get to asking out his would-be girlfriend. One day after staying late he spots something that just doesn't seem right. No one else is around so if someone is going to do something about it, it is going to be him. So he does.

With the help of the woman he can't quite ask out, his clone made of secret goo, a mime and a few other great characters, he figures out what exactly is wrong and, well, does something about it. All while worrying if his dog is okay.