So I’ve got nothing to write about this week. It happens sometimes. I mean, I read some funnybooks last week, but nothing I could fill a column with.
The only new book I picked up, for instance, was the third issue of Andrew MacLean’s excellent Head Lopper…
…and all I’ve really got to say about it is that it’s more of the same crazily-inventive fantasy adventure nonsense he served up in the first two issues. The plot thickens a bit, certainly, with more intrigue and deceit than it initially seemed the book would have. But overall, it’s the same fun and exciting reading experience MacLean’s turned in before. And I’m not really much in the mood to repeat my earlier review of it.
I also picked up a few back issues last week, but I’m not in the mood for a retro review, either. I mean, I did read my first-ever issue of Don McGregor’s Sabre last week, and it was pretty jaw-dropping. But beyond saying that it’s like Ed Wood, Jim Morrison, and Roger Zelazny collaborated on a comic…
…I’m not sure how much else I have to say about it. I mean, I like the pulpy epic sweep of it (that would be the Zelazny part). And “Poet of Deceit” is an awesomely pretentious turn of phrase (the Morrison part). Plus, you get such glorious nonsense as this caption from page one: “He wanders like a hesitant tourist through steam redolent of burnt earth and danger.”
(Ahem. Excuse me.)
(That would be the Ed Wood part.)
But that’s just not enough to squeeze a real review out of.
I also picked up a comic that I didn’t know existed until about a week ago: a Silver Surfer one-shot by Stan Lee and John Byrne.
Done in the early 80s, this book is fascinating, but utterly pointless. Seriously. Lee manages to turn the Surfer’s status quo upside-down, and then resets it completely, all in the space of one issue. That cosmic barrier Galactus erected to keep the Surfer on Earth? Reed Richards figures out a way around it. Zenn-La? Turns out Galactus ate it after the Surfer turned on him, leaving it a lifeless rock. Shalla Bal? She’s been living on Earth for ages, and is about to marry Doctor Doom (?!?!!). But by the end, that’s all undone, and the Surfer’s stuck back on Earth (because Reed’s barrier-weakening frammistat will, for reasons not explained, only work ONCE!).
Astounding. But not something I can really get a whole column out of. Neither is this weird red and black Tick ashcan comic I snagged:
It’s neat, and it’s got that slightly disturbing Yogi’s Ark back-up strip Ben Edlund did for an early issue. Which, now that I think of it, might actually be worth a post in its own right. But my scanner’s on the fritz, and you’ve really gotta see this thing to believe it, so… No.
Even looking beyond comics doesn’t net me anything to write about. I finally got around to watching the American Splendor movie, for instance, and was shocked at how much I enjoyed it. I liked it more than I generally do Harvey Pekar’s comics, even. But that flick’s been out for ages, and I don’t know that I’ve got a lot to say about it, anyway. I caught Two-Lane Blacktop, too…
…but I think a 45-year-old movie about car racing (even one as good as this) is maybe a bit beyond the scope of the stuff I generally write about here on the nerd farm, as is the Stanley Kubrick documentary I watched. Nick Cave’s novel And the Ass Saw the Angel goes a little far off the farm, too. And besides, I haven’t even finished it yet.
I did finish getting caught up on Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios’ Pretty Deadly…
…and at first I thought that was kind of promising. I came to a realization about the series, you see: I enjoy the experience of reading each individual issue, but it’s not focused enough to be really satisfying in the long run. This is not to say that it’s empty-minded or anything. Quite the contrary, it has a mythic resonance that appeals to me a great deal. But while it seems to be striving toward something profound, it never quite achieves it. What it’s actually good at is evoking a tone. Which is fine, as far as it goes. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that it’s a book I’ll never want to re-read after soaking it in the first time, so I should probably shift to digital on it. No need to have floppies cluttering up my house for no reason.
And speaking of having floppies cluttering up the house…
…part of the reason I can’t settle on anything to write about this week is that I’m pulling some comics together to sell, and that always puts me in a weird mood. On the one hand, it feels good to get rid of stuff, to lift the burden of having all this crap lying around. It’s also fun to play with my comics. Because there is a certain joy in simply having them, in taking them out every so often and remembering why I love the things so much in the first place.
It’s that dichotomy, I think, that war between the desire to have and the desire to purge, that puts me off my feed. Whenever it comes time to thin the herd, I always feel a little bad about it. I know the industry (and my own tastes) well enough that I seldom buy a comic I totally hate anymore. So I retain at least a tiny bit of fondness for almost everything in my collection. And sometimes making that decision to get rid of something feels a little like telling one of your children that it’s not good enough for you.
Or… Maybe not a child. That’s pretty harsh. A friend? No. Still too wrong. A pet! Yes, a pet. But not, like, a really good pet. You know, a pet with a personality that you can get seriously attached to. It’s not like sending Sparky to the gas chamber. It’s more like… flushing a goldfish. While it’s still alive.
There’s a moment of regret, a moment when you wonder if you shouldn’t be doing better by the thing. But then you go ahead and do it anyway, and you know it’s for the best. And then you look at the next goldfish in the tank. And you do it again. And again. And again. Sure, you save that pretty beta fish over there. And you’re definitely not getting rid of… I dunno… Some other really cool fish that people who keep fish like a lot. But you’re flushing those dumb ol’ goldfish by the dozen.
After a while, that kind of slaughter starts to weigh on a man.
There’s also the personal nightmare that is figuring out a price. Now, luckily, this purge is a yard sale kind of deal. It’s all about dumping some comics in a box and unloading them at two for a dollar. So I’m not having to figure out the twisted logic of the modern-day funnybook speculator. Those guys have squeezed every penny they can out of genuinely significant books, and are now casting about for whatever stupid shit they can con someone into paying for.
But, I’m sorry. A story that was retconned 20 years after the fact into being part of the new Master Villain Flavor of the Month’s Evil Scheme That Was Really Part of Our Hero’s Life All Along… does NOT constitute a first appearance of said character “Behind the Scenes.” First Appearance Behind the Scenes is Thanos popping up as a silhouette on a video monitor months before Jim Starlin actually revealed him in full.
Or, if you wanna get nasty about it, the REAL first appearance of Thanos “behind the scenes” happened when Starlin read some Jimmy Olsen comics and decided to rip off Darkseid.
Not that it was necessarily… THIS Jimmy Olsen comic. Honestly, I’m not even sure Darkseid’s in that one. But if you’re gonna post a random Jack Kirby cover for Jimmy Olsen, it should always be the one with Don Rickles.
Anyway. What was I talking about?
Oh, yeah. The fact that I have nothing to talk about. I just… got nothin’. I mean, I couldn’t even discuss my current funnybook purge without going off on a tangent about speculator greed and creative theft.
So, yeah. No column this week, folks.
I’ll try to do better next time.