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Rusty’s Comic Reading List 2015

November 29, 2015
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EastofWest1
Grant Morrison may have been bad for comics.

This is quite a statement. Grant Morrison is a very talented writer and has done some really great things.

But, still…

Let me give you some context. Back in the 80s there was a turning point in the comic business. That turning point was the two-headed beast of The Dark Knight and Watchmen.

Watchmen was an absolutely brilliant piece of writing that took the super-hero milieu and turned it on its head.

Dark Knight was a solid, though fairly overrated, look into a dark future of super-heroes.

Both set a new standard for comics. A standard that was abused and warped and it lead to the absolute low point of the industry – the 90s.

The need for everything to be ‘dark and gritty’ mixed with the early image idea that artists were more important than writers did it really.

So, were Watchmen and Dark Knight bad for the industry? No, not really. The positive outweighed the negative but the negative was still there.

It is in that vein that I think Grant Morrison may have done the same.

Basically, Morrison is a very talented writer who has tossed out a lot of the basic ideas of STORYTELLING in sequential art. His scenes can be very choppy and he focused more on ACTION scenes (and I don’t just mean physical action – I mean scenes where the next big plot point happens) and less on CHARACTER scenes.

This is not something I like. The strength of monthly comics to me has been character development. People complain about ‘quiet’ comics, but I find those are usually the best ones.  The ‘Personal Files’ issues of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad. Bendis’ ‘Avengers sitting around eating’ scenes. The new Ultimates go to the beach. That sort of thing.

The side dishes that make the main course taste better. Morrison ignores the side dishes… but Morrison pulls it off.

Most of his imitators do not.

That brings me to Jonathan Hickman.

Hickman is a popular writer and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. His Fantastic Four (where he rose to fame) was an absolute mess. Yet it was a lot better than his extended run on the Avengers, which was pretty much unreadable. There was a WHOLE LOT of stuff going on in his Avengers run, all of which was building to… something… and it was all of earth-shaking importance… yet never seemed to matter. The characters were cardboard cut-outs and jumping from world-destroying something to world-destroying something with no character beats in between led to a comic that had no soul. It made it hard to care about anything that was happening in the comic.

While my abandoning of monthly comics was due to outside reasons, Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers made it an easier choice than it would have been in previous eras. I always got the Avengers and it was no longer a book I looked forward to reading. I usually couldn’t even remember what was going on. I just didn’t care enough. (Combine that with the Howard Chaykin mess that had already got me to stop buying EVERY Avengers book, and there you go.)

I can’t recall reading anything by Hickman that I liked.

That brings me, finally, to East of West. It was on a list of great comics of 2014, or something, and as I was going down the list and looking for a TPB to buy down at Comet Comics, I picked it up without noticing that it was Hickman.

I wouldn’t have bought it if I HAD noticed.

I am glad I did. This is a very solid book that deals with a weird, sci-fi(ish) world where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are trying to destroy the planet. Or most of them are, anyway. Then there is Death.

There are elements of the book that I am not a HUGE fan of (extended scenes of ‘3 people can kill thousands’ or whatever aren’t my bag), and the book still has the choppy element, but unlike in the Avengers, it feels like these choppy parts fit together and have some sort of point.

Characterization is still a weakness, bit the overall arc is working.

I enjoyed it.

 

Rusty’s Comic Reading List – 2015

East of West Book One (Hickman / Dragotta / Martin)
The Auteur Book One: President’s Day (Spears / Callahan / Anderson)
Transformers vs G.I. Joe Volume 1 (Scioli / Barber)
Here (McGuire)
How To Be Happy (Davis)
The Late Child and Other Animals (Cook / Romberger)
Fables 150 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha)
Over Easy (Mimi Pond)
Velvet Vol. 1 – Before the Living End (Brubaker / Epting / Breitweiser)
Batgirl Vol. 1 – Batgirl of Burnside (Stewart / Fletcher / Tarr)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Roz Chast)
Flash Gordon: The Man From Earth (Jeff Parker / Evan Shaner / Jordie Bellaire)
Seconds (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
The Wake (Scott Snyder / Sean Murphy)
The Fade Out, Act One (Ed Brubaker / Sean Phillips)
MIND MGMT Vol. 1 – The Manager (Matt Kindt)
Thor, God of Thunder Vol. 1 – The God Butcher (Aaron / Ribic)
Astro City Vol. 2 – Confession (Busiek / Anderson / Blyberg / Sinclair / Ross)
Astro City Vol. 1 – Life in the Big City (Busiek / Anderson / Ross)
Green Lantern – No Fear (Geoff Johns / Various Artists)
Stray Bullets Vol. 1 – Innocence of Nihilism (David Lapham)
Chew Vol. 1 – Taster’s Choice (John Layman / Rob Guillory)
The Walking Dead Vol. 6 – This Sorrowful Life (Kirkman / Adlard / Rathburn)
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 – The Faust Act (Gillen / McKelvie / Wilson / Cowles)
Lumberjanes Vol.1 – Beware the Kitten Holy (Stevenson / Ellis / Watters / Allen)
Southern Bastards Vol. 1 – Here Was A Man (Aaron / Latour)
Batman: The Court of Owls Vol. 1 (Snyder / Capullo / Glapion)
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5 – Public Scrutiny (Bendis / Bagley)
Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 2 (Bendis / Bagley)
Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 (Bendis / Bagley)
X-Men: Ghosts (Claremont / Romita Jr. / Leonardi / Brigman / Windsor-Smith / Adams)
Power Pack Classic Vol. 2
X-Men: From the Ashes (Claremont / Smith / Wiacek / Simonson / Romita Jr.)
Transmetropolitan Vol. 3 – Year of the Bastard
Transmetropolitan Vol. 2 – Lust For Life
Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 – Back on the Street
Gotham Central Vol. 1 – In The Line Of Duty
The Walking Dead Vol. 5 – The Best Defense
The Walking Dead Vol. 4 – The Heart’s Desire
The Walking Dead Vol. 3 – Safety Behind Bars
The Walking Dead Vol. 2 – Miles Behind Us
The Walking Dead Vol. 1 – Days Gone Bye
Fables Vol. 4 – March of the Wooden Soldiers
Fables Vol. 3 – Storybook Love
Fables Vol. 2 – Animal Farm
Fables Vol. 1 – Legends in Exile
Hulk Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 2
Hulk Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 1
Justice League International Vol. 3 – Giffen / DeMatteis / Maguire


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Rusty’s Reading List 2015

November 21, 2015
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rob photo in philadelphia october 4 2014 by stephen brockwell

 

(photo by Stephen Brockwell)

Rob McLennan gave me this chapbook at some point and, as happens all too often, in ended up in The Pile. Well, it made its way back to the top and I had the chance to sit down and read it, cover to cover.

Very interesting. Rob’s poetry is challenging for someone like me, who has come to poetry through spoken word. In spoken word (most of the time) meaning is paramount, but also rarely hidden. Reading Rob’s words on first glance feels like unconnected lines grabbed from different pieces. But when you read them a little more holistically, they will often ‘feel’ right together, if you get what I am meaning.

There is a reason why Rob is so respected in the Ottawa poetry community.

 

My year in books:

Escarpment Pages – Rob McLennan
Arc Poetry Magazine #76 – Winter 2015
The New Yorker Reader: True Crime
X – Shane Rhodes
Plane Tickets Printed On Broken Glass – Mike McGee
Issues with Etiquette – Sean O’Gorman
Madness, Rack, and Honey – Mary Ruefle
The Hottest Summer in Recorded History – Elizabeth Bachinsky
^^^^^^^^^^ – Stevie Howell
Zurita – Raul Zurita
What Does A House Want? – Gary Geddes
Twenty-five Years of Tree – James Moran & Jennifer Mulligan (ed)
Thanks For Nothing, Hippies – Sarah Clancy
Ocean – Sue Goyette
Come Cold River – Karen Connelly
Touch the Donkey Vol. 1
Memory – Ottawa Capital Slam Poetry Team – 2014
Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Some Remarks – Neal Stephenson
A Brief Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien – Nigel Cawthorne
Distrust The Particular Flavor – William Gibson
Shouting Your Name Down The Well – David McFadden
Thousand Times Broken, Three Books – Henri Michaux
Stained Pages – Sean O’Gorman


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Rusty’s Reading List 2015

November 17, 2015
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New-Arc-76-Front-Cover-large

 

I have a large pile of books that I read through in now particular order (well, in fact, there IS an order of sorts, but it is not one that actually makes any sort of sense), so sometimes I get something out of nowhere.

For example, I just picked up the brand new edition of ARC, which is the ‘Spoken Word’ issue. Did I read that one?

How about I instead read this one from a year ago, finally?

Yeah. Anyway, it is very good, as expected. I was really taken with Steve McOrmand’s ‘For The Beauty of Winona Ryder’. The last line hit me like a ton of bricks, and I don’t know why.

My stumbling attempts at review had me interested in the review section, including a review about talking about reviews, if that isn’t too Inceptionist for you.

You see, I don’t really understand poetry reviews. I read them and they seem interesting, but they never seem to give me any sort of feeling of what the poem is LIKE.

This is not specific to poetry reviews. Read music reviews that don’t use other bands as a benchmark. Our touchstones give us a mental picture – even if it is wrong.

Oh well, my basic ‘reviews’ will continue to be ‘I liked this’ or ‘I didn’t like this’.

I recall talking about a comic book and saying that the art was bad. Someone asked me to explain what ‘made it bad’. Fair enough. I am no art expert. I switched to ‘I don’t like the art’.

Well, as stated, my review for this issue of Arc is that ‘I liked this’. I look forward to reading more issues. (I think I have 3 more in my to-read pile…)

 

 

My year in books:

Arc Poetry Magazine #76 – Winter 2015
The New Yorker Reader: True Crime
X – Shane Rhodes
Plane Tickets Printed On Broken Glass – Mike McGee
Issues with Etiquette – Sean O’Gorman
Madness, Rack, and Honey – Mary Ruefle
The Hottest Summer in Recorded History – Elizabeth Bachinsky
^^^^^^^^^^ – Stevie Howell
Zurita – Raul Zurita
What Does A House Want? – Gary Geddes
Twenty-five Years of Tree – James Moran & Jennifer Mulligan (ed)
Thanks For Nothing, Hippies – Sarah Clancy
Ocean – Sue Goyette
Come Cold River – Karen Connelly
Touch the Donkey Vol. 1
Memory – Ottawa Capital Slam Poetry Team – 2014
Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Some Remarks – Neal Stephenson
A Brief Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien – Nigel Cawthorne
Distrust The Particular Flavor – William Gibson
Shouting Your Name Down The Well – David McFadden
Thousand Times Broken, Three Books – Henri Michaux
Stained Pages – Sean O’Gorman


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Rusty’s Reading List 2015

November 9, 2015
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TrueCrime

I picked this up as airplane reading for the CFSW trip but ended up spending more time playing Ascension on my iPad instead.

Not really a book, but just like issues of Arc Magazine, it feels too substantial to dismiss it as just a magazine.

I don’t read very much True Crime. When I read something good, I appreciate it, but I never have a desire to grab more… because, well. It can be very unpleasant.

There is some great stuff in here, however. The first part of Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ is here and it is good enough to make me want to read more. There is also and amazing piece that reads like fiction until you realize that the author is someone who narrowly avoided being part of a mass shooting.

2015 in Books

The New Yorker Reader: True Crime
X – Shane Rhodes
Plane Tickets Printed On Broken Glass – Mike McGee
Issues with Etiquette – Sean O’Gorman
Madness, Rack, and Honey – Mary Ruefle
The Hottest Summer in Recorded History – Elizabeth Bachinsky
^^^^^^^^^^ – Stevie Howell
Zurita – Raul Zurita
What Does A House Want? – Gary Geddes
Twenty-five Years of Tree – James Moran & Jennifer Mulligan (ed)
Thanks For Nothing, Hippies – Sarah Clancy
Ocean – Sue Goyette
Come Cold River – Karen Connelly
Touch the Donkey Vol. 1
Memory – Ottawa Capital Slam Poetry Team – 2014
Empire of the Sun – J.G. Ballard
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Some Remarks – Neal Stephenson
A Brief Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien – Nigel Cawthorne
Distrust The Particular Flavor – William Gibson
Shouting Your Name Down The Well – David McFadden
Thousand Times Broken, Three Books – Henri Michaux
Stained Pages – Sean O’Gorman


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Rusty’s Comic Reading List 2015

November 1, 2015
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AuteurBookOne

Rick Spears must think we are idiots. He writes a book about someone who makes movies. In there he talks about how you can jeu throw a bunch of sex and violence on the screen and the masses will eat it up. Forget making art. It is just lowest common denominator stuff.

Then he makes the comic exactly that. Sex, violence, drugs. Through it a dollop of misogyny and racism, mix it all up and call it… not a very good comic.

Two bad ones in a row. Disappointing.

Rusty’s Comic Reading List – 2015

The Auteur Book One: President’s Day (Spears / Callahan / Anderson)
Transformers vs G.I. Joe Volume 1 (Scioli / Barber)
Here (McGuire)
How To Be Happy (Davis)
The Late Child and Other Animals (Cook / Romberger)
Fables 150 (Willingham / Buckingham / Leialoha)
Over Easy (Mimi Pond)
Velvet Vol. 1 – Before the Living End (Brubaker / Epting / Breitweiser)
Batgirl Vol. 1 – Batgirl of Burnside (Stewart / Fletcher / Tarr)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Roz Chast)
Flash Gordon: The Man From Earth (Jeff Parker / Evan Shaner / Jordie Bellaire)
Seconds (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
The Wake (Scott Snyder / Sean Murphy)
The Fade Out, Act One (Ed Brubaker / Sean Phillips)
MIND MGMT Vol. 1 – The Manager (Matt Kindt)
Thor, God of Thunder Vol. 1 – The God Butcher (Aaron / Ribic)
Astro City Vol. 2 – Confession (Busiek / Anderson / Blyberg / Sinclair / Ross)
Astro City Vol. 1 – Life in the Big City (Busiek / Anderson / Ross)
Green Lantern – No Fear (Geoff Johns / Various Artists)
Stray Bullets Vol. 1 – Innocence of Nihilism (David Lapham)
Chew Vol. 1 – Taster’s Choice (John Layman / Rob Guillory)
The Walking Dead Vol. 6 – This Sorrowful Life (Kirkman / Adlard / Rathburn)
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 – The Faust Act (Gillen / McKelvie / Wilson / Cowles)
Lumberjanes Vol.1 – Beware the Kitten Holy (Stevenson / Ellis / Watters / Allen)
Southern Bastards Vol. 1 – Here Was A Man (Aaron / Latour)
Batman: The Court of Owls Vol. 1 (Snyder / Capullo / Glapion)
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 5 – Public Scrutiny (Bendis / Bagley)
Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 2 (Bendis / Bagley)
Ultimate Spider-Man Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 (Bendis / Bagley)
X-Men: Ghosts (Claremont / Romita Jr. / Leonardi / Brigman / Windsor-Smith / Adams)
Power Pack Classic Vol. 2
X-Men: From the Ashes (Claremont / Smith / Wiacek / Simonson / Romita Jr.)
Transmetropolitan Vol. 3 – Year of the Bastard
Transmetropolitan Vol. 2 – Lust For Life
Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 – Back on the Street
Gotham Central Vol. 1 – In The Line Of Duty
The Walking Dead Vol. 5 – The Best Defense
The Walking Dead Vol. 4 – The Heart’s Desire
The Walking Dead Vol. 3 – Safety Behind Bars
The Walking Dead Vol. 2 – Miles Behind Us
The Walking Dead Vol. 1 – Days Gone Bye
Fables Vol. 4 – March of the Wooden Soldiers
Fables Vol. 3 – Storybook Love
Fables Vol. 2 – Animal Farm
Fables Vol. 1 – Legends in Exile
Hulk Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 2
Hulk Visionaries – Peter David Vol. 1
Justice League International Vol. 3 – Giffen / DeMatteis / Maguire


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