and Plaudits (1/26)
& Plaudits. Someone told me that the broadcast television
networks have slipped in another couple minutes of commercials every
hour this season, starting in the fall. Yeah, well, I can
it. We're awash in these things. Why? You'd
think that in this day
and age, beset by competitive television on cable, the broadcast
networks would want to woo viewers back by giving them the Best TV
Ever. Fewer commercials, not more. But no, we
commercials. It's as if the TV networks just don't care. Screw
viewer: load on more commercials.
And, of course, that's exactly the attitude
that prevails. Now let
me reveal the reason behind it all. The networks realize
only a matter of a few more years before cable TV and the Internet
have completely displaced broadcast television. When that
the Big Three TV networks will be completely out of business. They
all realize it. They anticipate it. So until that
dire day arrives,
they're determined to squeeze every possible advertising dollar out
of the market. They want to squeeze it while it can still
squeezed. And in order to do that, they just heap up more
commercials every hour. Simple, like I said.
And if this reveals just how scornful
the networks are of the
viewing audience ("Those dummies will take anything we dish
out--screw 'em"), that's just as it is. They are scornful.
All the more reason to get back to funnybooks. To
In Starman No. 62, drenched stunningly
in black shadow by Snejbjerg,
we have a 22-page story by Robinson in which 32 different persons are
named, 16 in the last 7 pages; the plot gets as lost in this kind of
name-dropping extravaganza as it would in the New York phone book.
So who is Sadie Falk, anyhow? This issue is the first in
a new story
arc, by the way, dubbed "Grand Guignol," which, as every comic
fan knows, invokes a theatrical form popular in Parisian cabarets in
the 19th century that dramatized sadism and violence. Wot
If you want to see what one of Bruce Timm's
pert li'l cuties looks
like when he really turns up the heat, check Vampirella Monthly No.
20 in which Timm does all the art chores, including painted color, on
a six-page story about Vampi as an artist's model; ho, boy . . . .
In the same "ho, boy" vein, we have Jim Silk's latest Bettie
deliciously rendered--Bettie: Queen of the Nile (or, as we say here
in R&R corner, "queen of denial" because of an lingering
frustration). . . . Here's Paul Grist's British book, Kane,
somehow have managed to miss until No. 26, at hand; a tour de force,
tovarich--masterfully varied page layouts for visual variety and
narrative impact, starkly contrasting black and white, dramatic use
of shadow, exquisite pacing--in short, a minor masterpiece of the
cartoonist's artistry and a nifty cops-and-robbers story, too. . . .
Alex Ross does his usual stunning renditions
in Batman: War on
Crime, but the format defeats him: every page is half of a
giant-sized double-truck spread, and the binding at the center,
pinching the pages together at the gutter, spoils the effect wherever
the layout crosses the gutter. Paul Dini produced the story
script, and I wonder about some of his usages. Would anyone--even
the melodramatic Batman--actually say, of himself, "I am a grim
fighting a relentless war on crime"? I'm a grim soul? Doubtful.
And when Dini refers to "ghosts long departed," doesn't he
mean "ghosts of the long departed"?
I'm not a regular reader of Wizard, so
when I picked up No. 100, I
was baffled to find that you can scarcely tell the advertising pages
from the editorial pages. That's deliberate, I know: the
is to sell stuff, no matter what other objective might be ostensible.
But it sure makes it difficult to read the magazine, a difficulty
compounded by the magazine's leap-frog layout--no doubt a desperate
frenetic, scattershot assault on readers afflicted with attention
deficiency syndrome. The purported alarm among the editorial
hierarchy at discovering that an ad in this issue is touting a porno
Website is another thing that's hard to take. The stance
pages seems to incorporate readily an adolescent fart-lighting,
gross-out sense of humor, of which the following is a typical (albeit
hilarious) example: "What is the sexiest body part, T or A?" The
answer is T--because, apparently, you'll never "hear a breast fart."
I bought this issue because of the "celebration"
of this century's
70 years of comic books. Their history is, naturally, as
their sense of comedy is sub-navel. The supposed first comic
Funnies on Parade (in 1933), could not have reprinted Hal Foster's
Prince Valiant because Prince Valiant didn't start until 1937; ditto
Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates, which debuted in late 1934.
And Terry is not a sailor. And Joe Shuster didn't marry Joanne
Carter, his model for Lois Lane; his partner, Jerry Siegel, did.
(It's true that Joe dated her first, but it was Jerry whom she
married in 1948.) These mistakes were all on the same page,
after encountering this many, I almost stopped reading. I
did a few
pages later after bumping up against a few more erroneous
assertions--Batman's villains were not inspired by Chester Gould's in
Dick Tracy (they came along too late for that), Bill Finger didn't
create the Green Lantern (but he burnished Mart Nodell's concept),
and that picture of the Green Arrow is, I think, from the wrong era.
Do they have fact checkers at Wizard? Or do they just blurt
their own big bang version of history? One hopes Wizard never
it onto library shelves where innocent bystanders might be inclined
to take its version of history as gospel.
The Wizard guys shouldn't be too apologetic
about the porn ad. And
Jesse Ventura needn't hang his head in shame over his crack in
Playboy about wanting to be reincarnated as the size of bra a
well-endowed woman might wear. You gotta realize what's happening
comic books, aristotle. On the cover of Animaniacs No. 54,
example, we have a furry femme proclaiming that she "couldn't do
without her support hose," and behind her, a shelf of stockings
going hubba-hubba nutso. A Jesse gesture if ever there was
inside, when the Seven Dwarfs encounter Snow White for the first
time, one does a take Tex Avery would applaud, saying, "Holy
Kielbasa, dere--wotta bilt!" And this comic book is
readers. Well, youth just ain't what it usta be. If
it ever was.
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