Greatest Hits and Personal Favorites
Below are links and synopses of my more popular and/or interesting posts.
THEORY, THEORY, THEORY
I churn out theories on everything, all the time. It’s a bad habit, I know.
The Frisson of Woo, or “Thirty Seconds to Grab ‘Em”
Probably my biggest hit, and a lot of fun to fart around with. A theory of superheroes and icons, filtered through the magic of Hollywood. It was preceded by The Essential Superhero, or Why Captain America is an Anglo Bruce Lee, and followed by Rehabilitating the Lame.
The Mister Teeny Test
How can you tell if a work is an intriguing work of genius you just don’t understand or a bunch of crap thrown against a wall that’s meant to fool you into thinking it’s great by creating confusion? The Mister Teeny Test can answer that.
Penetrating Insight or Flatulent Nonsense: You Be the Judge
A theory of superheroes, linking their personality types to their powers, particularly their ability to survive harm.
Origins of a Marvel Fanboy
The difference between old DC and old Marvel, and why, deep down, I will always belong to the House of Jack, Stan, and Steve.
Oh, Damn, the Critics Adore It: The Love of Yawnfests
Why the hell is it that critics tend to love works that laymen find dull beyond belief? I got me a theory.
Hittin’ the Juke Joint
Comic books descend from comic strips, right? Sorta. Comic strips are the parents of the comic book, but pulp novels were the cool uncles who taught the kid how to smoke, set off firecrackers, and swear.
I Wanna Eat Your Brain: Zombie Zeitgeist
A throwaway theory on the popularity of zombies.
When Theory Meets Blood
An actual straight-up analysis of the blood-spattered smiley face in Watchmen, like something you’d write for English 101. Sorta.
A Parallel Notion, Plus Disco
My other Watchmen post, discussing panel layouts, Brecht, and Explodo Jones: The Quest for Ever More Radness.
Aquaman, Tell Us About Your Mother
Phallic imagery on covers is nothing new. Aquaman’s old series offered a…different image.
Great Scott! The Fiend!
The logic of Lex Luthor.
The Appeal of Red Sonja, Courtesy of Beverly Hills 90210, Lisa Simpson’s Bad Boy Crush, and the Taming of the Hottie
T&A characters tend to appear and fade away quickly. Why does Red Sonja keep coming back?
You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?
Debunking a common theory on the end of the Silver Age and the depravity of the Modern Era.
Character Versus World and Suchlike
An explanation of the overarching difference between modern DC and Marvel’s approaches to the superhero.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING
Like most comic fans, I harbor the idea of writing my own stuff and visions of “how I’d do it.”
The Champions Project
My great white elephant. I had an idea of doing my own version of the Seven Soldiers of Victory Project, a la Grant Morrison. I got eleven issues in, then petered out. Here’s the post that links to everything.
Rolling and Fixed Timelines: The Captains America and Retcon Fun!
One of my favorite bits, though I may be alone in digging it. Retroactive continuity can be fun, provided it fills large gaps, not niggling stuff. Forty years of Caplessness seemed like a good place to fart around. It’d form the basis of a good miniseries, I think.
An intelligent silverback gorilla with a French accent and his lover, a brain in a jar. To think that in comics, these are throwaway characters. Amazing.
Post-Dorkpocalyptic Press: My 15 Titles
A meme that was a lot of fun to try: strip the world-o-comics to fifteen titles, no more. I set up some additional rules and went to town. More fun than I expected.
Harveyizing Green Arrow
A revamp of the Connor Hawke Green Arrow based on a few ideas of mine. Granted I’m biased, but I think it’d be a huge improvement over the current Green Arrow status quo. I love the Rogues’ Gallery. It’d work, dammit! Another “Harveyizing” experiment, Harveyizing Hourman, was much more ambitious and less successful. This was a full-on reboot of Hourman in a four-issue miniseries, The Fire That Consumes. The synopsis is long and shot through with plot holes and logic flaws. Given time and rework, I think it’d be a hoot. Heroes! Robots! Time travel! Dinosaurs! Rebellions! Love! Revenge! Hoo-hah!
Impractical, But Hey, It's Not My Company
Of my many bad ideas, this one’s undoubtedly the worst from a business perspective. Any company that did this would die in a heartbeat. Ah, well. Artistically it could be a triumph, but it would require a strong and consistent editor.
Evil Thought of the Day
Marvel used to capitalize on fads all the time. Kung fu, blaxploitation, roller disco, whatever. What if they did that again?
HARVEY ANNOYS THE PROS
A few times I’ve made contact with the world of comic professionals, often badly.
Eisenstein, Cheese Fries, and the Joys of Bloviation
A group of comic book creators meet weekly at a bar about a mile from my house. The DC Conspiracy, headed by Hoarse and Buggy editor and all-around good egg Jason Rodriguez, was welcoming and interesting.
Due to a number of factors (they meet on the one day off I share with the missus, I’m more than a bit of a poseur tool, I’m the laziest man in four states, etc.) I only went to one meeting. In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s difficult to be as lame as I am. Don’t try it yourself without protective headgear and safety netting. It only looks easy.
Rising and Advancing: An Interview with Steve Englehart
The only actual interview I’ve conducted for the site. Distressingly generic questions on my part. Ah, well. I’d hit a dry patch, and thought I might try shifting the site to interviews with writers. I reconsidered this idea quickly, but did complete this one interview first.
OH, COME ON!
When I go overboard busting on a cover of Ms. Marvel painted by David Mack. Mack responds in the comments. I then apologize for the overheated rhetoric and proceed to strengthen my argument. The original piece is not great—I shot from the lip and lost myself to snarky rhetoric. The comments section is where it gets good, and where the better arguments can be found.
Marvel and Malibu: The Full Story
Tom Mason, writer and former bigwig of Malibu Comics, wrote to me to set the record straight about Malibu’s buyout by Marvel in ye olden days. Interesting stuff.
Mary Sue, Mary Sue, Pretty Pretty Pretty Mary Sue
A grouse about “Mary Sues.” In retrospect, I was kinda wrong in this article. I blurred the lines between “character very clearly based upon the creator to the point of distraction” and “character based upon creator wish-fulfillment,” which are similar faults, but not the same thing. Moreover, the piece is also too dang snarky, like my David Mack piece. Why is it under this heading? Because of the last, anonymous note in the comments section.
Did I hack off Matt Wagner with my ill-formed rant? I hope not. (It also could have been Elmore Leonard, who also gets some grief in the piece, but the typos would suggest otherwise. Novelists know how to use apostophes.) Probably it was some random numb-nuts, but I can dream.
Dickering with Larry Young, of AiT/PlanetLar, about comic criticism. He’d said some inflammatory things in December 2005, and the blogosphere freaked out. I took a step back and dissected what he actually said, which proved to be none too flattering to Young. The odds that Young saw this are near zero, but hey. I’m sure he’d find it annoying.
ASK A SUPER-VILLAIN
Because deep down, we all wanna be the bad guy.
Wilbur Day may be a loser with a stupid gimmick, but he has one quality that made him perfect for “Ask a Super-Villain:” he returned my phone call.
Batroc the Leaper
Zee Leapair ees back from anozzer a’venture and weel charm us all weeth hees outrageous accent!
A mad god, a dark twin, and possessor of the best afro in comics history.
A gentleman, a scholar, a giant mutated head in a flying chair. Such is MODOK.
He’s a super-villain! He’s a television executive! He’s both! He’s…Blackrock! Could I resist interviewing the villain based on broadcast legend Fred Silverman? I could not.
RANDOM WEIRD CRAP
Sometimes it’s just weird crap.
The Knave and the Bold
A personal favorite. My George Plimpton-esque misadventures with the Justice League of America.
The Awesome Majesty of Nature
Details of a trip to Mexico and the wild Chihuahuas of the state of Chihuahua.
The Safety Word Is “Alfred”
Subtext? What subtext?
Fight the Cliches by Embracing Them
“…before America lost its innocence…” Heh. Heh heh. BWAH-HA-HA-HAAA!! Yeah, try another one.
Larry Young Is Wrong
A play in one act, starring me, Archie, Reggie, and Jughead, about the creative process.
Nerd, dork, dweeb, spaz, geek. It’s time we settled on what each one means.
The Fanboy Schisms, or, Is Dan DiDio the Pope of Avignon?
When the website Fanboy Rampage still ran, I liked to follow the senseless bickering of the fanboy world. This was my plan to help out.
Too Easy, Sure. But Fun
Jerry Lewis comics + Dimestore Freudianism = Big Time Komedy Laffs.
Viva! La Procrastinacíon! and Bliggity-Blog, a pair of posts where I venture an idea to create a “radio show” like Pendant Productions.
Sometimes I can’t keep my big yap shut.
The Ten Most Harmful Books
The conservative magazine “Human Events” produced a list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th centuries. I felt their list was inaccurate, and suggested one of my own.
Stealing from the Long Box, or the Political Education of Young Harvey
An old issue of What If shaped my understanding of politics. And that’s not a bad thing. Check it out.
Where Would You Hide, the Laws All Being Flat?
I will not surrender safeguards against tyranny because I’m afraid of a dipstick with a truck bomb. Those who would, please pick up your chains at the front desk, and don’t forget your lip balm. The asses of the mighty require lots of kissing. Hiding under your desk and hoping Big Daddy will protect you is irresponsible and cowardly. I say this as a man who lives and works very close to the White House and Pentagon.
In case anyone forgot, back in January 2005, the US government openly considered training death squads in Iraq. I took exception to the idea.
My best friend from high school spent a year as an infantry sergeant in Iraq, getting fried by the desert heat and ducking bullets.
Putting on the Rant Pants
There’s a lot of stupidity in this world. Thus do I rant about “The Mindset of the Moron.”
I loves me some comics.
An Eleven Panel Master Course in Comics
Breaking down eleven panels from Bernard Kriegstein’s story “Master Race,” showing what goes on in a well-designed comic. One of the posts I’m proud of writing.
When the Wheel Turns
Spider-Man revealed his identity to America. The status quo is forever changed? What, are you new here? Of course it’ll go back. Here are a few ways it might.
How to Tell a True War Story
An appreciation of the EC Korean War comics and their creator, Harvey Kurtzman. Never been anything like them before or since.
Like Jesus, But With Fisticuffs
Captain America has died and come back so often, you’d think he’d have his own religion by now. Or at least a revolving credit line with a mortuary.
The recently cancelled series The Thing was beautiful. Here’s proof.
Why I Love Hitman in Two Words
I could go on, but why? The two words sum it all up.
Banish All the World
Silliness in comics: a good thing. Despite what many say.
The Beauty of Rough Edges: The Women of The Spirit
No comic ever had women like The Spirit. And that is a damn shame.
Dirty Little Secret: Marvel’s “Essentials” Line
The first post I wrote that garnered a few “hear hears!” Because it’s true.
Mister Miracle’s Mad Opera: Taking Comic Lunacy to Another Level
An appreciation of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World and the crazy Christmas-colored hero at its center.
The Master of Glomp Glukkle Shlik Shlorp Ghomp Glunk Glik Shtork
Don Martin, master. Bow before his greatness.
Go Away, Scary Man: “That Yellow Bastard” and Frank Miller
The first “Sin City” was cool and different, and I dug it. “That Yellow Bastard?” Not so much.
A Lost Character: The Charms of the White Tiger
An appreciation of a character discarded from Marvel Comics all too quickly: Christopher Priest’s version of the White Tiger. He coulda been great.
Lines Are Busy
A rundown of the many lines of comics produced in the last twenty years, ranging from Marvel’s New Universe to Valiant to CrossGen. I got into the motivating idea of each line, what happened, and my own read on it. This was one of my bigger hits, since Mike Sterling, one of the tentpoles of the comic blogosphere, linked to it.
Pull the Trigger: Why Walt Simonson Rocketh
"Groo Week: A Salute to a Great Series"
Groo the Wanderer is the only comic series I bothered to put in mylar bags. For I love it so. I spent a week of posts drooling over it.
The Greatest Comic Ever Printed
A Wanderer, A Kat, and a Mice with a Brick
A Process of Inbred Fertilization
Am I Not Lovely, O Man?
North by Southleft
With a Heart Full of Napalm: Iggy Pop, Kill Bill, Chris Farley, and Why Gødland Doesn’t Suck
Behind the Times and Proud of It: Grooving to New X-Men
Why I don’t like the X-Men and how Morrison did a hell of a job fixing it.
A Lake of Hot Chocolate: Stan Freberg Shows the Way
A review of the original graphic novel The Long Haul through the prism of Stan Freberg, radio god, and basic comic book aesthetics.
"Mister President, You're All...Scaly!"
The President of the United States, comic book style.
REVIEWS FROM "COMICS SHOULD BE GOOD"
Once in a while I contribute a review to another website, Comics Should Be Good. A few of 'em were even decent. (CSBG moved recently, and can now be found here.)
Great Expectations and the Graphic Novel
A review of several big-ish "coming of age" graphic novels: Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware; Blankets, by Craig Thompson; and the Buddy Baker stories in Hate, by Peter Bagge. I loved one of 'em.
Viva La Weirdness: Marvel’s Whacked-Out Comics of the Seventies
A tour of some of the deliciously insane comics Marvel put out in the Seventies. I review Essential Defenders Volume 1, Essential Howard the Duck, Essential Killraven, (sic) and Warlock: Special Edition. Whacked-Out Marvel is one of my very favorite types of comics.
We Are the Valets: Why Superheroes Aren’t So Superheroic Anymore
A counter-argument to the oft-floated idea that "modern creators don't like superheroes."
A Near Thing: Smoke #1
Writer Alex Di Campi said “I’m more of an auteur than a mainstream writer, anyway. I’d rather be known for creating five amazing books, and five awful ones, than for being ‘Little Miss Continuity’ who wrote 50 mediocre books.” Reading that, I had to check out Smoke #1. Did she succeed? Check it out.
CSBG Roundtable: Local #1
CSBG ran a couple of roundtable reviews. This one, coordinated by yers truly, reviewed Oni Press's Local #1. I think we did a good job of dissection and explanation. Consarn it.
Nat Turner #1 Review
Kyle Baker's Nat Turner work is brilliant. It should be a runaway hit. Here I try to explain why.
MOVIES AND TEEVEE
Pop culture mania!
Masked Men, Melted Cheese, and the Great Lost Film
Nacho Libre…as made by Billy Wilder?
Disrespecting the Bing
At the end of the penultimate season of The Sopranos, all I could say was “what the hell was that?” This post was me hashing it out. Turns out it did have an underlying theme. A dumb one.
Let’s All Go to the Lobby: Tim Burton and Freaks
Why I don’t like Tim Burton, the short form.
Let’s All Go to the Lobby: “It’s Like The First Ones Were Jokes!”
Why Batman Begins was so much more satisfying than the earlier four Batman movies.
For the Bob Dylan fans out there. Or for those sick to death of Bob Dylan.