Some time after the production on New Wave Soldiers stopped, I approached Nate to start things back up again. In order to get people excited for the comic, I thought we’d do a mini-comic in the style of Mark Waid’s Thrillbent. Instead of it being a full page of comic, I thought we could do slides of no more than three panels. I wrote a “prequel to the prequel” of sorts. Taking some inspiration from 2001: A Space Odyssey but with a twist. I wrote ten slides and Nate drew them up. I think this is one of the better things I’ve written and Nate has some gorgeous work here.
I love cover songs. I love hearing different variations on the same song. In my younger days, I would spend hours just looking up covers on Youtube. They don’t have to even be professional covers, I like hearing amateur Youtubers attempt famous songs too. Some may be terrible, but that’s okay. It’s just fun to experience the variety of interpretations out there.
Today, I present to you five covers that I feel are as good as the original versions. I’m not saying these are the best covers of all time, but they are really wonderful.
Original Artist: Erykah Badu
Cover Artist: My Morning Jacket
Original Artist: Bon Iver
Cover Artist: Birdy
“Dancing in the Dark”
Original Artist: Bruce Springsteen
Cover Artist: Tegan and Sara
“Pursuit of Happiness”
Original Artist: Kid Cudi
Cover Artist: Lissie
“Viva La Vida”
Original Artist: Coldplay (gag)
Cover Artist: Weezer
I’ve got a real love/hate relationship with weekly series from DC Comics. 52 was an incredible experiment that can probably never quite be replicated in terms of just how crazy and good it was, and I try each new weekly series, but the results have been mixed over the years.
Let’s recap the weekly series that DC has done so far and I’ll give some brief thoughts about them before I move on to Futures End.
52 – It’s the dream team of creators: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid. While there were some issues that weren’t as good as others, it’s pretty forgivable to have some misses when you’re doing a comic a week. I haven’t read the series in a long time, but they were throwing every idea they could at the wall and never had time to see what would stick. The space stuff with Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange is probably the most memorable with the Batwoman story being my second favorite. Black Adam also had a great story arc that really fleshed out his character more. It even made Booster Gold into a character that I liked! It was a series that took minor characters and made them interesting. No Superman or Wonder Woman to be found in this series but Batman got his own issue. All in all, it was the prototype for what a weekly series could be; minor characters getting a profile boost and becoming cool.
Countdown – If 52 was what to do, then Countdown was what NOT to do. It seemed to be operating on the same premise of boosting minor characters into higher profiles, but the characters in question weren’t ones anyone really wanted to see. Jimmy Olsen, Pied Piper, Trickster, and a sexy/creepy version of Mary Marvel were the biggest failures. The only real success was the Jason Todd/Donna Troy/Kyle Rayner search for Ray Palmer through the multiverse, but even that was a missed opportunity that only worked in places because it allowed us to see the worlds of the multiverse. I think the biggest moment of how awful this series was came at the end when Jimmy Olsen as Turtle Man fought Darkseid. It doesn’t get much worse.
Trinity- This series focused on the relationship between Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman rather than minor characters in the DCU. I only read maybe the first third of the series and Mark Bagley’s art just turned me off the whole series. I liked Bagley’s 90s Spider-Man, but wasn’t a fan of his Ultimate Spider-Man work. Meanwhile, Kurt Busiek’s writing was fun during its comparisons between our main heroes, but his plots never really grabbed me.
Brightest Day - Though not technically a weekly series as it was bi-weekly, I thought it was a series with an incredible start and a terrible finish. Bringing back Aquaman, Reverse Flash, Martian Manhunter (I had forgotten that he was even dead . . . but yeah, he died in Final Crisis so that was a short death), Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Deadman worked. And the series ended by bringing back Swamp Thing right before the New 52 which was a surprise. Things got a little weird at the end of the series when characters were transforming into elementals, but it was a good ride.
Justice League: GenerationLost – The other bi-weekly series alongside Brightest Day. It was written by Judd Winick and Keith Giffen, so I didn’t read it. Sorry.
Batman: Eternal - It may be a little early to judge this series, but it has started really strong. Batman is a focus, but the Bat-Family has equal time as well and it is really fleshing out the world of Gotham City more than we’ve ever seen before. The art has been the best of all the weekly series as well.
Which brings me to Future’s End. Which I’ll talk about next week.
My book about Grant Morrison’s Batman run is out now. I’ll have a post a little later about where to get it and all that but I’m waiting for the new Diamond Catalog so you can tell your comic store how to order it.
After Nate’s prologue pages, I wrote a full script for a 20 page comic – the first real script I had attempted on my own for an artist. It’s not perfect and I need to go back and fix some things, but I like it still. It’s weird and fun.
So, I sent it off to Nate and he got to it. Unfortunately, LIFE happened and we had to stop the project. I think these pages are great still. Continue reading →
I only heard it on the radio one time, but I was instantly fascinated by the song “#Selfie” by the Chainsmokers. I looked it up on Youtube and as of this writing, it has had over 150 million views.
That’s right. Over 150 million.My brain went Vegeta on that one.
If you haven’t watched the video, here it is for your . . . um . . . enjoyment? Analysis? Contempt?
As far as music goes, it’s barely a song. The whole thing is programmed on some guy’s computer and the “lyrics” are nothing more than a one-sided bathroom conversation from a shallow woman. But maybe it’s far more complex than we would like to think. Let’s look to the lyrics and pick them apart in order to understand the plight of the current generation.
It begins with our protagonist feeling self-conscious about a potential romantic love interest named “Jason” who is with another woman.
When Jason was at the table I kept on seeing him look at me while he was with that other girl Do you think he was just doing that to make me jealous? Because he was totally texting me all night last night And I don’t know if it’s a booty call or not So… like what do you think? Did you think that girl was pretty? How did that girl even get in here? Do you see her? She’s so short and that dress is so tacky Who wears Cheetah?
In this modern world where our avenues for communication are so multi-faceted, our protagonist can’t even tell if Jason loves her or not. People are almost NEVER unavailable communicate unless they force themselves into isolation, but how much do we really know about anyone? Even our protagonist doesn’t know if Jason likes her because the different avenues for communication have lead to more miscommunication than actual connection.
In the second verse, we have a new turn in the identity of the modern person.
Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia I wanna look tan What should my caption be? I want it to be clever How about “Livin’ with my bitches, hash tag LIVE” I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes Do you think I should take it down? Let me take another selfie
This is about image and how important it is to represent oneself. It shows the subtle nuances that plague modern life and the presentation of that image. On Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. one is now no longer an individual, but rather a brand. A corporation unto themselves responsible for content that earns “likes” which are the social media equivalent to dollars only you can’t buy anything with likes at all. So, in a way, they are nothing like money, but what is money anyway? It’s just paper that we’ve assigned a value to. Why is that?
Finally, in the last verse, the messages established in the first and second verses merges into a cacophony of brilliance.
Wait, pause, Jason just liked my selfie What a creep Is that guy sleeping over there? Yeah, the one next to the girl with no shoes on That’s so ratchet That girl is such a fake model She definitely bought all her Instagram followers Who goes out on Mondays? OK, let’s go take some shots Oh no, ugh I feel like I’m gonna throw up Oh wait, nevermind I’m fine Let’s go dance There’s no vodka at this table Do you know anyone else here? Oh my God, Jason just texted me Should I go home with him? I guess I took a good selfie
Jason has now liked our protagonist’s selfie which she interprets as being creepy at first, but when he texts her, she wonders if she should go home with him. The social cues and mores are all jumbled in this world of mass communication. The modern person’s brain runs circles pondering what each like or comment must mean. Is Jason a creep or is he authentic in his love? Our protagonist doesn’t know and must resort to alcohol, vomiting, and dancing to clear her mind.
In the end, she attributes Jason’s affection for her not to her brilliant wit, her kind heart, or her winning personality, but to her selfie. Image is everything, substance is nothing. Or rather, substance comes from image and nothing more.
One thing is for sure, like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” before it, the Chainsmoker’s “#selfie” is hard-hitting social commentary about the times in which it is written in.
Like Bob Dylan’s “The times they are a-changin,” it reflects upon what it means to be an individual in modern society.
And while the music is programmed on a computer, is it any less a musical achievement than Vivaldi’s Four Seasons? Sure, Vivaldi has 40 million views, but that’s not 150 million! Maybe if Vivaldi put some words in there, people would care.
A few years ago, my childhood friend Elaine Johnson and I decided that we wanted to collaborate on a project together. We tossed a few things around and finally settled on a story about a grown up Nemo from Little Nemo. I wrote a few things. She sketched a few things. And nothing came of it for one reason or another.
I hope this doesn’t come off as an attempt to cash in on Nemomania, because it’s not. We had these ideas awhile back and then LIFE happened and stopped us. Then, as Elaine was getting to work on the strip, Alan Moore announces a project that’s just like ours. Great minds think alike.
Or, in the case of Alan Moore and myself, “great minds sometimes research public domain characters.”
I hope you enjoy our project in the weeks to come and I hope you’ll judge it on its own merits rather than as a comparison to all the other Nemo stuff that’s out there at the moment. At the very least, it’s free online, so we got that going for us.
Here are some of Elaine’s wonderful sketches so you can get a glimpse of all the wild and wonderful characters we are working on. I do hope you’ll come back every Friday for our adventures.
Terry Bartley is one of this site’s oldest friends. We’ve had a few podcasts together and taken down a racist, so he’s good people. Today, he’s got a great article about diversity in superhero teams. Enjoy!
There has been quite a bit of talk as of late about diverse representation of characters. Many would argue that things are moving in a positive direction, with characters like Batwoman and Ms. Marvel headlining their own titles. I am tempted to agree with them, then I read a mainstream team comic and I’m reminded just how little diversity there is in the titles that would make a real difference.
In 2009, James Robinson debuted a Justice League roster of young legacy heroes from diverse backgrounds. There were seven members total and it consisted of four female members, one gay member and one member from Africa. While the team may not have been traditionally racially diverse, it did consist of one green-skinned and one blue-skinned member. I thought this was incredible! It may not have been perfect, but it was far more progressive then previous teams.Continue reading →