A Filthy Orphan: ColemanBalls To It All.
Right, due to doing the Great Refurb and a thousand bloody other things at once at the moment, it’s a bit easy to write about lots of things at once, rather than a full column. about one subject. Expect this kind of thing until life calms down a bit.
ITEM: One of the best things about my Christmas was some Random Off The Internet buying me a copy of the Lego Marvel game from my Amazon Wishlist. I, of course, totally encourage this kind of thing, as long as it isn’t going to end in my murder, having been led into a cave like Hansel & Gretel but with Muppets toys instead of breadcrumbs. For those of you not familiar with the history of Marvel Universe in video games, you can skip most everything (All the Spider-Man games, the Cap game, Deadpool, the X-Men franchise, Thor, Iron Man 1 & 2 etc all the way back to roughly Ultimate Spider-Man or Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction on the PS2.)
The main thing that struck me about the game beyond how bloody big it is (Only 37.8% complete as of writing this.) is what a love letter to the Marvel Universe the game is. My opinion that Lego Marvel is the most fun I’ve had with anything that’s had the Marvel logo emblazoned on it since the 1st series of Strange Tales or that time I tried watching the 1960’s Spider-Man cartoon on lots of drugs. It’s totally fan service but a non annoying way. If you’ve played any Lego game, ever, you know what you’re getting here, but with an added decent Open World Lego Marvel New York City to go exploring in once you’ve clocked the main campaign. You can download the demo for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC for free.
ITEM: I’m not sure if it’s a mid-life crisis or that I spend far too much time around comic related things, but I’m really into the Kirbyverse comics that Topps produced during the 90’s the moment. There’s something about Jim Salicrup‘s attempts to recreate Marvel’s earlier days that’s charming in its own way, certainly in contrast with Steve Bissette & Alan Moore‘s 1963 from the same period. (Which just gets better as I learn more about comics history and exactly what particular scandal was being skewered in the Soapbox & Letters pages. The one about British Comics Reprints is particularly, um, interesting.) It’s also the only series where the idea that Bill Clinton was impersonated by shape changing aliens and that was what lead to the Clinton/Lewinsky affair would make sense.
I think, though the main reason I’m enjoying this work I’d never seen before is that the immediate reaction I’m getting from people I’ve mentioned enjoying Secret City Saga is ‘You like….that stuff?’ I’m very, very bored with people using objective terminology to describe their opinion of things which are entirely subjective. ‘Obviously, Justice League Of America is terrible.’ or ‘Ultimate Spider-Man is a great comic.’ I suppose the nature of social media has trained people to simply trot out opinions as briefly as possible, but the use of Black & White terms to describe an experience that is entirely different depending on who views it simply doesn’t work. You use words like ‘Is’ or ‘Isn’t’ to describe absolute states. Foe example, someone either is or isn’t on fire. Or they are or aren’t alive. Running around suggesting a comic is or isn’t good purely on your say-so strikes me as incredibly…arrogant.
ITEM: Yep, I saw Marvel’s little dig in Deadpool: The Gauntlet. When they can produce a comic that isn’t another attempt to emulate the sales on Civil War, not have to resort to reprinting work that they had literally nothing to do with in the first place (and tried to shut down when it was originally published.) or manage to break the sales numbers of any given issue of Alpha Flight circa 1983 with anything they publish, given they’ve had Disney,Hollywood, Netflix AND the Video Game Industry acting as a billboard for them for the last few years, I’m unlikely to care what Marvel Editorial have to think about anything to do with the business side of Comics Retail.
That, Or I could just say ‘Heroes World.’
Or, you know.
‘Chapter 11 much?’
(By the way, I gave our copies of Deadpool: The Gauntlet to noted eBay Comics Wizard Jon Browne, formerly of They Walk Among Us fame. You can buy all manner of …..interesting Comics From History off Jon here.)
ITEM: From The Arguments We Should be Past By Now, Surely Dept?
Guys, we really, really need to stop saying ‘But men wear unrealistic outfits too, and most of us don’t have physiques like Captain America or faces like Hawkeye, LOL!’ whenever the subject of women in comics being portrayed in unrealistic and basically sexual decorative ways comes up. (Well, you might not, matey Jim. I look like Shade, The Changing Man circa the shift from DC to Vertigo and I’m 36, so try not varnishing us all with your inability to put down the cheeseburgers.)
The problem is, beyond the fact that many of these costumes are designed by men who have no background in fashion or what would be comfortable for a woman to wear in the 1st place, is usually the choice of camera angles employed by the artists. I’m not even pretending to be any kind of White Knight Saint, given my love of Adam Warren’s Empowered, Adam Hughes’s Catwoman covers or Frank Cho on, well, anything, but there are times where even someone as probably ‘incorrect’ as myself thinks ‘Hold on, did you have to pick Ms Marvel’s arse as the focal point in a panel where Dr Doom is explaining how his Doom Ray Of Doom works? If a filthy deviant like myself is aware that there are issues with the portrayal of women that need discussing and sorting out, then Lord knows how many women have walked into a comic shop and seen an endless parade of badly drawn super-heroines posing like their spines are broken and thought ‘Well, if that’s what this medium thinks is a representation of my gender, then BYE!’
I don’t have any answers on this, except that I quite like it when people buy comics, and dismissing the argument of half the population of the planet who might be more inclined to buy the material if they weren’t portrayed as sex dolls in spandex seems counter-productive. Holding steadfast to the old tradition of ‘Well, that’s what they’re like and if you don’t like it, get out of our Clubhouse!’ is just a surefire way to keep everything small. As a retailer, I’d quite like it if publishers didn’t seem to go out of their way to alienate the potential audience that’s largely uncatered for.
I’ve probably got huge amounts of this argument wrong, and I won’t be able to argue how women feel about their portrayal in comics too well, because, you know, I’m not a woman. The most intelligent writings I’ve seen on this thus far come via Escher Girls. So, check that out. I am trying, though.
Both read and enjoyed Tim Pilcher’s autobiographical book ‘Comic Book Babylon’ (not to be confused with Clifford Meth’s book of the same name.) recently. For the sake of transparency, I should say that not only have I known Tim for a worrying amount of years now, but I started working in Comics Showcase a couple of years after Tim went off to be Tim From Vertigo UK and Mr Pilcher gave me a copy of his book himself after a few drinks last week. It’s not the ‘You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again’ of Comics that I think a few people involved in Tim’s recollections were worried it would be (I understand Lawyers were …..’consulted’ before final publication.) but it is a engaging snapshot of the Central London Comics Scene from the Dark They Were & Golden Eyed days all the way up to the final days of Comic Showcase in Neal Street. Probably as much as you’ll ever need to know about the early days of Vertigo as well. It both rekindled fond memories and ignited thoughts of ‘Oh. Yeah. THAT Motherfucker’ in me, but then Tim’s a lot nicer than I am. Avalible by asking Tim if you can buy a copy via his Twitter, I guess? (Sorry, Tim.).*
*Tim informs me you can buy his book from a variety of retail comics outlets. I favour The Cartoon Museum, myself.
Finally, as part of my recent trip to Brighton, I got to catch up on some of the comics people have asked me to promote, and one of my favourites has been John Lee’s ‘And Then Emily Was Gone’. Like a creepy mix of Gahan Wilson and Gahan Wilson. DON’T do what I did and read it on your own in the dark as you’ll be proper creeped out, like the real spooky stuff used to do. You can learn more about John’s comics here.
I’m sorry I’ve let this ‘pushing new talent’ idea lay fallow for a bit, but life has been full on for the last few months. I’ll try to get a bit more into promoting things once the shop is out the other end of The Great Refurb.