Wednesday, August 23, 2017 

A British publisher makes a comic lionizing the awful Jeremy Corbyn

It looks like there's a publisher in the UK that's putting out a book similar to some of the efforts made in the US to fawn over former president Barack Obama, one that presents the dreadful Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a "hero":
In one incarnation, he is Corbyn the Barbarian, facing off against the Maydusa. In another, Corbynman leaves his “mild mannered allotment of solitude” to take on the “inter-dimensional invasion fleet of Daily Mail death drones blasting everything with their Tory food bank rays” with a rallying battle cry of “jam on!”. Just in time for the Labour party conference, an unlikely superhero is preparing to take his place alongside the likes of Spider-Man and Wonder Woman: Jeremy Corbyn.

Independent graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero says it has received a “tsunami” of submissions since it opened its doors to comic-book creators a month ago, asking for comics on the subject of the Labour leader. Contributors to The Corbyn Comic Book, which will be launched at the Labour party conference in Brighton in September, include Guardian cartoonists Steve Bell, Martin Rowson and Stephen Collins, and comics artists Karrie Fransman and Steven Appleby, along with a host of strips from new writers and illustrators received during the open submission period.
Well this is certainly atrocious. Corbyn's a Hamas and Hezbollah supporter, and he's even supported communism and Fidel Castro (and the UK commies, in turn, supported him). He's also anti-American and anti-Israeli. What's there to celebrate about a man with such awful platforms? Unfortunately, that's the British left for you, who won't consider a better guy like Nigel Farage worthy of a comics biography or heroic figure by contrast. The only thing they thought worthy of doing with Farage was making a villain based on him for Judge Dredd. They sure know how to be cheap.

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Monday, August 21, 2017 

Jerry Lewis' history as a funny-page hero

Famous comedian Jerry Lewis has died at 91 years of age. Besides being notable in past decades for his slapstick movies like the Nutty Professor, he also had some comics coming from DC where he was turned into a cartoon figure on four color panels, and ComicBook has some history notes on the series starring his illustrated counterpart, published between 1952-71.

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Sunday, August 20, 2017 

What could be the exact politics of Tim Seeley's "Brilliant Trash"?

The writer Tim Seeley's been interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter (via Science Fiction) about a bizarre comic he's written up called "Brilliant Trash", which features what appears to be a Muslim teen girl destroying Jerusalem, as seen in the panel posted on the side. This is what the trade paper says this about:
Brilliant Trash, co-created with artist Priscilla Petraites, begins with the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of a superhuman teenage girl, which introduces a near-future dystopia in which anyone can be a superhero — but only one journalist knows how pricey a proposition that really is. Heat Vision talked briefly with Seeley about the new series.
From the looks of things, it would seem as though this story is about an Islamofascist who declared jihad on the historical Jewish city. The question, undoubtably, is whether it's depicted as an abominable, inhumane act. I should hope so. But according to the following statements from Seeley, this book is supposed to be satire:
The world of the series feels very much like it's prime satire, taking elements of today and ramping them up to 11: Journalists that no one believes! Fractured media that tells everyone what they want to hear! Conspiracy theories where corporations keep information from the people! Does this come from a love of satire, or a sense of "I have to write this now before reality eclipses me in a couple of days"?

It's both! But my favorite sci-fi has always been the material that takes current trends to a seemingly ridiculous satirical end, because those are the things that end up being accurate. We laughed at the ads in Robocop, but they mostly came true. As a person, I have to fight myself not to make fun of everything — but Brilliant Trash allows me to do it, and be absolutely savage about it.

As the solicitation for the first issue reveals, you're literally wiping Jerusalem off the face of the earth at the very start of this series. As far as opening gambits go, there's attention-grabbing and then there's attention-grabbing. Are you anticipating a lot of feedback on that particular plot point?

Ha, I never anticipate feedback, because I never know what's going to really sink in with readers. But there's very much a reasoning behind why Lady LastWord [the character responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem] does this, and we'll see that motivation unfold over the course of the first five issues.
I'm not sure what to make of a tale that's built on satire, considering the book involves a serious issue like religiously motivated assault and annihilation. After all, there's nothing funny in real life about jihadists who commit murder in high numbers. Yet we're living in an age when the industry has almost entirely censored the subject of fighting against Islamic terrorism, and if they do address it, they take blame-the-victim paths, as seen in the unreadable Marvel Knights volume of Captain America in the early 2000s. If Seeley's not playing his cards right, then he's only served up another letdown. Serious issues aren't something you should just present as satire.

Since we're on the subject of Seeley, here's a few tweets he wrote in the past week, giving an idea of where he stands on the political map, mostly to the left:

I'm guessing they're RINOs, right? That is, Republicans In Name Only. Among those he retweeted include Mitt Romney and John McCain, the latter who's opposed repairing the damage wrought by Obamacare. I can't say I'm shocked when some mega-leftie considers faux-conservatives the reliable bunch, but not those who actually care about the public's future.

Well my grandpa, who died in 1972, about 2 years before I was born, also fought in the second World War. And labels had nothing to do with it, just altruism, far more than Franklin Delano Roosevelt ever showed. So this is Seeley's way of saying he apparently buys into the notion that Antifa's really a heroic, patriotic movement, when in reality, they're as repellent as the white supremacists who littered up Charlottesville. Even some hardcore leftists admit Antifa's basically the same as those they're "protesting".

Well at least he's thanking Russia's government for wisely opposing any associations with supremacist news sources, where all their commentary is loathsome as can be. However, he also retweeted this post from Snopes, apparently claiming it's not true what Trump said about Gen. Pershing's war on Islam, hinting he's still part of the anti-Trump crowd. And I think he should ponder that Snopes, in reality, is one of the most dishonest leftist websites around. Definitely not a site I'd consider trustworthy.

Seeley may not be the worst liberal out there in the comics medium, but he may not be the best informed either. And based on what the news is telling about his new comics story, he may not have done a very good job addressing a serious topic. In that case, what would be so "brilliant" about the trash he conceived?

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Saturday, August 19, 2017 

Ethan Van Sciver runs afoul of the left

If there's any conservatives in comicdom now who're being targeted by leftists, it's Van Sciver, who said he's avoided Twitter because of the toxic environment it's become. Here's what he wrote (via The Daily Caller):
There are strange people on twitter who are pretending to believe that I am a ‘white supremacist’ or a ‘Nazi’ because I’m a rare thing in comics: a Republican. It’s intolerable. It’s ridiculous to have to even declare that I’m none of these things.

To me, white supremacists are villains from movies. They aren’t me, they aren’t my family, and I deeply resent these calculated efforts to make me feel unwelcome in the industry that I’ve given my life to, and by the way, which has profited greatly from my work. This industry isn’t them or me. It’s us.

Their evidence is some ridiculous out of context images from a decade ago, when we were all much more friendly. Being called a ‘Nazi’ by a fellow creator then was quite different, like me calling someone a commie. It was meant in fun. But occasionally, some truly weird people would make a claim that my little diamond logo was a swastika (oh?? HOW? It’s based on the Iron Maiden logo). and a friend would satirize it by making it look like one. For laughs. Because it’s absurd.

Around the same time, I decided that I’d make my sketch books look like extremist political tracts. One was called MANIFESTO and contained communist dogma, with backward letters to look like Russian language. The other one was called ‘MY STRUGGLE’ and contained my earliest work on Cyberfrog up to my recent work. The cover was SINESTRO, who we’d redesigned that year to resemble Hitler, and with the fact that most people knew I leaned right, this was a JOKE. Made self-effacingly to my peers who I considered my friends.

These people who spread these images and claim that I’m a ‘Nazi’ are liars. They are lying. Flat out. They are liars who wish this industry wasn’t tolerant of people who do not share their partisan political views. That may include you. It may not. But I’ll lay out my career and the work that I’ve done against theirs. This is MY industry too. And lying liars with a dishonest agenda cannot change that.

I’ve chosen to avoid Twitter. It is a toxic wasteland of negativity. I’ve chosen to avoid discussing politics, for this very reason. But I won’t stand by and let these creeps continue to go unanswered.

And neither should you.

If you see this, please, as a fan, CORRECT IT.

It is evil.

Thank you.
Well, I guess we can all understand now why Twitter's use is in decline. The weird thing is, Van Sciver at least once came off sounding like a liberal apologist for Islam, but obviously, there's quite a few leftists out there who'll never care, never be satisfied and surely aren't buying his products no matter what left-wing scriptwriter is crafting the story he's illustrating.

I checked his Twitter page, and indeed, he doesn't seem to have updated it for 3 years. He's honestly doing the right thing to avoid such a social network (though he'll be doing even more of the right thing not to make embarrassing statements that sound like leftist apologia), because it really has become a toxic environment, with some of his leftist counterparts in comicdom only compounding the situation there. One of the worst things about Twitter is that there's quite a few SJWs running amok whom Marvel, if anyone, has been caving to with their demands drop certain coverscans that are far from the worst thing they could come up with. And even if they are in poor taste, that doesn't mean we have to buy the books in question. Marvel and others have to figure out for themselves what makes a tasteful drawing or not. In any event, the stories they've been publishing for more than a decade are awful, clogged with leftism and company wide crossovers, so it makes little difference what's on the cover to start with.

And I think Van Sciver would do well to avoid making comments in the future that sound like he's trying to pander to liberals, because in the end, it just won't work, and SJWs will never care.

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Friday, August 18, 2017 

Comic publishers shouldn't be turned into IP for other mediums, but that's what's already happening

Here's something sensible coming from the op-eds on Tech Crunch - a writer's pointing out how, over the years, major comic publishers and even small outfits like Mark Millar's have come to serve more as groundswells for movie adaptations and other such media, while the storytelling value of the pamphlets and graphic novels is cared for far less. Yet there is at least one part at the beginning that's not very accurate:
Over the past few decades, comic books have become Hollywood’s most reliable well for source material. It’s easy to see why — not only is comics one the most vibrant storytelling mediums in the world, but the books themselves offer built-in storyboarding, providing writers and directors a visual template on which to build a film.

This past week’s news that Netflix would purchase independent comics publisher Millarworld is hardly an outlier. It echoes larger moves made by Warner Brothers and Disney, when they purchased the two largest comics publishers, DC and Marvel, respectively, cementing their own cinematic comics universes. And while the specifics of those deals differ, both have kept their comics publishing wings most in tact.
Uhh, I'm not so sure I can agree with that. After all, the continuity and stand-alone storytelling collapsed more than a decade ago, rendering their products incoherent at worst, especially as company wide crossovers took over each and every year. No thanks to some of the worst editors and publishers who mandated tasteless storytelling effects, which had a bad impact in turn on the rest of their output. Leftist politics have unsurprisingly followed and flooded their output, and that too is another serious detractor.

And do the comics really provide built-in storyboarding? Maybe, but considering a significant amount of films and TV adaptations draw from the most recent stories of the 21st century, that's why the stories they're building on aren't the best places to look for inspiration. And I disagree that screenwriters have to base their ideas 100 percent on what's already been published - why can't they think of something themselves? Though it's probably nothing compared to how the publishers have been going out of their way to alter the structure of the original comics so it'll visually resemble what's seen in the movies, as was the case once with the X-Men films in the early 2000s, one of the earliest examples of the tail wagging the dog.. When they do stuff like that, it only ruins the zygote.
In the case of Netflix, however, the decision seems a bit more crass — or at least, it’s a decision that has very little to do with the comics themselves. There’s no doubt about the company’s motivations here. Seemingly spurred on by Disney’s plans to launch its own streaming media platform(s), Netflix went ahead and bought its own comic book universe.
Now they're getting somewhere. While Millar's products aren't worth much in terms of story merit, Netflix didn't buy Millar's company because they wanted to invest in comics publishing, if at all, as is further confirmed below. Rather, they bought it so they'd have a groundswell around for developing films and TV shows. Even if the source material as he envisioned it is already pretty tasteless, recalling some excerpts I once read from Kick-Ass involving gang rapists. John Romita Jr. was one of the artists for that sensationalized book, which decidedly doesn't reflect well on his portfolio.
Unlike the DC and Marvel acquisitions, Netflix appears to be making no bones about the fact that it didn’t purchase Millarworld to get into the comics publishing business. Yes, it says “Millarworld will also continue to create and publish new stories and character franchises.”

But also appears to be the key word here — as the press release spells out, the publisher’s main value to Netflix is in its IP: “The acquisition, the first ever by Netflix, is a natural progression in the company’s effort to work directly with prolific and skilled creators and to acquire intellectual property and ownership of stories featuring compelling characters and timeless, interwoven fictional worlds.”
Gee, what "skills" does Millar have for one? How compellingly developed are his characters? And what's so timeless about the "worlds" he conceived either? If anything, the man's made a career out of shock tactics, as seen in the Ultimates, right down to his remake of the Hank Pym-as-abusive storyline from 1981 in the Avengers, and even that was handled far better than what he put out in the early 2000s, where the Ultimate take on Janet Van Dyne may have been put in a situation where she allegedly "deserved" what he threw at her.
Deals like this risk undermining the source material. It’s in line with a growing fear in recent years that, the comics industry has becoming something of a farm league for Hollywood films. And indeed, it seems that many prospective screenwriters and directors have come to view the comics industry as a back door into Hollywood.

Eric Reynolds, Associate Publisher of alternative comics house Fantagraphics, bluntly sums up the opinion of many in the indie comics community.

“I have never read a Millarworld comic and as such have no clue and don’t really give a shit about this stuff, but of course it’s bad if media companies see comics as nothing more than IP factories,” he told TechCrunch. “I mean, if you actually care about the medium of comics, anyway, and believe that it has its own intrinsic value as an art form.”

This may all sound a bit alarmist, prompting the skeptical reader to quote crime novelist James M. Cain, who responded to concerns that Hollywood had ruined his novels by saying, “They haven’t done anything to my books. They’re still right there on the shelf. They’re fine.” Similarly, we might hope that no matter how many titles get pulled into the studios’ universe-building schemes, the comics themselves will be fine.

Except these larger corporate decisions are affecting the comics. Look no further than Marvel, where comics featuring the Fantastic Four and X-Men (characters whose movie rights were sold to Fox before the publisher started making its own films) have languished in recent years.
This makes sense too. In fact, I have a hunch Superman's red tights were omitted around 2011 partly because WB wanted to build on such a vision for the Man of Steel movie shoehorned into the comics first. And now look what's happened, it all led into Batman vs. Superman, which was even more mediocre; an excuse to see two legendary figures clashing.

There's a few other ways superhero comics were affected by sellouts to Hollywood, going back as far as the early 1990s, when video games and cartoons were coming out, and built on stuff I can't help wonder were created specially as IP or wellsprings for the different mediums to build their own products on. Gambit of the X-Men, for instance, is an early example of a character I wondered was created more as cartoon and video game fodder than as a storytelling vehicle for the comics themselves. I know Chris Claremont didn't do a great job fleshing out whatever background he gave Remy LeBeau after introducing him in 1990, and Scott Lobdell/Fabian Nicieza made everything worse with their expansions. Yet this very badly developed character began turning up in an X-Men cartoon and several video games over the next decade, even as he suffered terrible writing (and Rogue was victimized by poor writing to boot) back in the comics proper, right down the connections made to the Mutant Massacre and Mr. Sinister. I do think, however, that any writers in comicdom who didn't want to use Gambit for their stories at the time (he appeared in very few other Marvel books outside of X-Men during the 90s) weren't making their cases the right way, because their misgivings seemed to stem from a superficial dislike of a fictional character that let the writers responsible for bad characterization off the hook. What should've been their beef was the likelihood they wouldn't be allowed to make improvements in overall characterization, which is not impossible to do. The only obstacle would be the editors who'd impose harmful mandates.

And as for the video game influences, another early example could be Spider-Man's Maximum Carnage storyline, which ran through 4-5 different Spidey titles in 1993. It may not be considered the worst Spider-story in the backlog, but from what I know, most Spider-fans don't find it very good either. Yet this weak tale of a serial killer getting hold of an even more demonic take on the symbiote that originally created Venom several years prior wound up being adapted to a video game shortly after. And I can't help but wonder if the story's overall mediocrity stems from being written specially as the basis for creating a video game, where storytelling isn't the most important part by contrast. Even the Onslaught crossover from 1996 served to provide the subsequent Marvel vs. Capcom with a boss opponent, no matter how wretched the original comics crossover was to start with. I'm sure DC also had a few examples at the time, but Marvel's are most noticeable.
Over the past decade, Millarworld has become far better known for its IP than its actual books. While Millar’s early superhero work like The Ultimates and The Authority has its fans, you’d be hard-pressed to find Millarworld titles like The Secret Service, Kickass and Wanted on anyone’s list of their favorite comics. Instead, they were “successful” in the way that Millar probably intended: They were de facto pitches for blockbuster films.
And what does that suggest? That he's probably the kind of guy who's greedy for the chance to get into Tinseltown by conceiving his own line of comics that would appeal to film producers desperate for something comics connected they could craft their screenplays on. Let's not be surprised if Netflix could just as easily close down Millarworld as a publisher in the future, because they believe the story premises alone are enough.

For now, what matters most is how the Big Two have suffered from becoming more IP for movies than their own storytelling agencies, and just as awful are the crossovers they show no signs of wanting to abandon as the outdated concept they already are. That's why I believe in their case, it could do a lot of good if somebody who does recognize the power and potential of the art form try to buy out the publishing arms and just use them to tell stories as part of the medium they are, and if anybody wants to adapt a story from them, let them do it without writing it specially for movies or video games, and in fact, let the screenwriters conceive their own film adaptations as they see fit for the silver screen. This is far different from how Japan's manga and anime mediums have managed business, as here, by contrast, no distinctions or considerations are made as to what's best for either division. Being one specific medium is the only way to run a successful business.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017 

What leftist creators are saying after the Charlottesville chaos

Here's a number of tweets the usual leftist comics crowd wrote following the truly awful spectacle of two equally bad movements - white supremacists on one hand and Antifa activists on the other - in Charlottesville earlier in the week. For example, Patrick Zircher:

Is he claiming Antifa's totally innocent? Well that's why I'd beg to differ, based on the fact that Trump did condemn the neo-nazis, and Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Hayer, the woman who was killed by the filth driving that sport coupe, thanked Trump for speaking out:
On Monday, the mother of Charlottesville, Virginia victim Heather Heyer released a statement thanking President Donald Trump "for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred."

"Thank you, President Trump, for those words of comfort and for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred," reads a statement from mother Susan Bro. "My condolences, also, to the grieving families of the two state troopers and quick recovering for those injured."
So anyway, if Zircher and the following examples are pretending he didn't address the subject, they'd do well to think again, because he did condemn the neo-nazi violence. But Antifa's also a bad lot, and one activist even assaulted a reporter. Worst, some even called for murdering white children. This is why Trump panned violence "on all sides", as news reports first noted. So if they think Antifa's any better, they'd be advised to get a microscope and magnifying glass. Antifa is one of the phoniest and most reprehensible movements around.

Quite a few leftists are wrong-headed themselves. Nobody can win if they keep that denial act up. Next comes Ron Marz:

So no thanks for Trump, even though he condemned the supremacists? Nope, it's just not in Marz's mentality to do so. Here's Dan Slott:

This from the same man who penned the Dr. Octopus in Peter Parker's body atrocity. Put sincerity before politics, Slott.

Correction: do leftists like Slott not think for themselves, and only rely selectively on specific news sources like CNN? Next, from Rick Remender:

This from one of the writes who made terrible use of Scarlet Witch a few years ago in one of the Avengers titles. Now from Jimmy Palmiotti:

But if he voted for Clinton, he doesn't think he made a mistake voting for the woman who hurt Kathy Shelton by helping her attacker off the hook in Arkansas? Then, we have Brad Meltzer, responding to a post about Trump Evangelical Council officials not resigning:

But no regrets over penning that awful gender bigotry called Identity Crisis? Nope, as this tweet strongly hints, he's as unrepentant as ever. Oh, and since we're on that subject, what's the artist of that repellent miniseries, Rags Morales, got to say about an Economist article with a nasty attack on Trump?

He hasn't read the article? Gee, then how can he possibly judge anyway? What a disgrace. And then, here's Kurt Busiek:

Hmm, fascinating. Does that mean he's dismayed at how, over the decades since the 1950s, references to Islamic pirates in the 18th century (sometimes referred to as Moors) were erased from US school textbooks? Probably not, so I'm not sure what he's talking about.

Which brings us to an important point: not only are these leftist creators using the terrible incident in the past week as a cheap excuse to attack Trump, they're also using it as a perfect excuse for obscuring challenging issues now facing the world, including Iran's nuclear terror. As for those monuments to Confederates, I don't like the notion of honoring tyrants, but I do think there should be a museum or some kind of archive for research on supremacists built where those structures could be moved, so everybody could study how there were cretins out there who conceived monuments to fiends who didn't deserve them. Yet if I'm correct, the screwballs who removed them may have even destroyed them? That's not helpful.

Oh, and how odd that Busiek's bringing up statues of Saddam, because I wouldn't be shocked if he was part of the anti-war crowd that opposed toppling Saddam in the first place. If he's still as leftist as he makes clear, then his comments on the Saddam statues are conflicted.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017 

Simone actually disapproves of using Azzarello's take on WW as a basis for the film

I'm guessing the discussion Gail Simone was leading on Twitter that's gathered together here only took place because she's largely out of DC Comics' employ now. But, it does prompt fascination:
Simone took to Twitter to respond to a few fans who had been asking for her take on the Wonder Woman movie and the revamping of the character on the pages of DC Comics' New 52 runs. It was there where Simone shared her disapproving perspective of changes made to the character's origins.

Namely, Simone's main issue is the New 52 introducing Zeus to the heroine's origin story. "Of the many reasons to hold a grudge against the New 52, the role of Zeus in Wonder Woman's birth is top of my list," comic book writer D.M. Higgins wrote under the Twitter username Superdames Comics. "It's now in the movie."
On that, I can certainly agree it was uncalled for to use Brian Azzarello's retcon, which, for all we know, was probably intended to serve as a component for the screenplay to build on in advance. The origin of being created from magical clay holds up far better, and just think of how imaginative it could've been to see a daughter conjured up from clay on celluloid.

But I miss the part where she pans the guy's retcon of the Amazons themselves into one-dimensional savages, which was definitely no improvement over the repellent miniseries "Amazons Attack", where they were depicted going on an anti-male rampage. It's one thing to complain about an unimpressive retcon of WW's own birth origin. It's another to ignore the harm done by turning her tribal colony into something so vicious that Bill Marston never intended them to be.

So unfortunately, if she can't lament the misuse of the Amazon society of Themyscira, then I'm not sure we can buy that her complaint about the retcon used in the film is sincere.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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