Saturday, August 20, 2005

Meme Week (Part 3): The Blogaround Challenge

Meme week continues! I too have answered Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag's call to poke around in a bit more depth on other comics weblogs and report back. Nice idea, Laura! I’ve included a number of blogs that I already knew about, but had been meaning to spend more time at. The blogaround challenge was the perfect opportunity.

My findings:

Lady, That’s My Skull
From its nifty title to its zingy, perceptive writing (not to mention its troubling obsession with groin injuries), Lady, That’s My Skull is a fun site to visit. It’s so eclectic in fact that it’s kind of like finding an old Pirate's chest at the back of the attic filled with all kinds of cool treasures. Sleestak does a lot of witty posts on Silver Age comics and pulps, and he is also digging up some really interesting comics history as he examines vintage comic book Public Service Announcements (he has an excellent post on anti-war PSAs in comics of the Vietnam era). But what I like best about Sleestak’s writing is the thoughtfulness and subtlety with which he explores one of my own favorite themes: the profound impact that things we read when we are children have on our mental lives. I especially like this recent confessional post about a fairy tale that made him question reality and this one about a horrible realization that we’ve all had to face at some point. (And by the way, Sleestak, those HIV/AIDS PSAs are still giving me nightmares--Sweet God, Man! Post a warning next time!)

Well, Sean Burns certainly doesn’t need my help. But I wanted to mention his great blog anyway. Websnark is mainly interested in webcomics, but even if you’re not, this is a cracking, professionally written blog that’s worth your time. Although I haven’t (yet) gotten into webcomics, I enjoyed Sean’s critique of a recent article by Sarah Boxer in the New York Times on that subject (it confirmed my own discomfort with Boxter’s comics journalism after reading her side-swiping piece about academic writing on Peanuts, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago here). I also really like the fact that Sean writes about newspaper comic strips. His new piece on the sexual assault story in Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse is a shrewd assessment of Johnston's work.

The Shrew Review
And speaking of "shrewd" assessments, the wonderful thing about the Shrew is that her reviews are not “cranky” (as she would have you believe); they are bracingly honest, which is another thing entirely. They are also pithy, insightful, and more even-handed than her handle suggests. Her review of DC’s conniption-inducing “Sacrifice” arc, for instance, was one of the most measured that I read. She demands that comic books be fun, but she also takes mainstream superhero books seriously enough to neither pull her punches nor be gratuitously snarky. She often makes me wince at my own soggy judgment. The real thing.

Nobody Laughs at Mister Fish
“This week probably isn’t going to be a bag of laughs, but terrorism is one of the themes of our times, one which comic books have sporadically covered, and I think that a reviewer should make an attempt to tackle this most difficult subject.” So began “Terrorism Week” over at the indispensable Nobody Laughs at Mister Fish where Disintegrating Clone is doing something that I really admire: holding comic book narratives to account for their politics, and doing so, I might add, in a way that is intelligent, rigorous, and thought-provoking. The writing and analysis on this blog are always excellent, but never more so than during the past week or so. If you haven’t read the Clone’s analyses of the Black September attacks in Avengers #113, the representation of the IRA in Daredevil #205, and the World Trade Center attacks in The Amazing Spider-Man #36, what are you waiting for? This is a challenging topic and Clone raises a lot of pertinent questions about those weird moments when reality and fantasy intersect.

Clandestine Critic
There’s a lot of great writing by David Norman over at Clandestine Critic. I always read his capsule reviews and recently I really enjoyed his piece on CrossGen, which has inspired me to write a little something on the now defunct publisher myself (coming soon in Spoilers Abound!). He also does excellent movie reviews of films of interest to geeks like us.

I am NOT the Beastmaster
Way back in June, Marc Singer of I am NOT the Beastmaster posted a wonderful discussion of the first Seven Soldiers books that contains some very interesting remarks about Grant Morrison’s “anxiety of influence” where Alan Moore is concerned, and about the presence of Swamp Thing in Seven Soldiers. He also has a fascinating (and very critical) review of Peter Milligan’s X-Men--a comic that I’m still intending to check out. Not the Beastmaster isn’t just comics, but what is posted there is well worth a read, and you can always check out Marc’s other reviews at Howling Curmudgeons!

The Comic Asylum
Wow--The Comic Asylum is a really good site. James Meeley’s commentary on mainstream comic books has a lot of fun stuff like The 10 Greatest Comic Battles Ever as well as really interesting articles on other things. There’s a really nice piece on the great hype-fatigue debate of a little while ago and another good one on his appearance on the letters page of Young Avengers. I’m going to be spending some more time around here.

Collected Editions
This site has become indispensable, not only for its great trade reviews, but for its up-to-date info about upcoming trades. Collected Editions’ wait-for-the-trade mandate gives the whole site an appealing air of austerity and authority. Secretly, I wish I had the author’s patience and will power, though he made me feel better by caving in just a little on Infinite Crisis. Here's a nice recent review of the Hawkman: Wings of Fury trade.

Size Matters
Shawn Hoke’s thoughtful reviews of mini comics on Size Matters: The Mini Comics Blog make me want to get off my ass and order some of these books. In fact, I’m going to. He’s doing a really good thing here, and this site is clearly a labor of love. (He also has a stellar set of picks for the desert island meme.)

Comics Ate My Brain
Reading Tom Bondurant’s Comics Ate My Brain is a surreal experience because it often feels like I’m reading my own diary, our tastes seem so similar. His capsule reviews are precise and reliable, but the main attractions for me are the long detailed essays (mainly on DC comics), filed under Manifestos in the sidebar. I’m still working my way through them, but I especially want to mention his informative, meticulously researched commentaries on The New Teen Titans 1-2, 3-6, 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15. He’s also got a bunch of great looking stuff on Crisis on Infinite Earths, Identity Crisis, JLA, and Green Lantern.


James Meeley said...

Hey, thanks for the plug of confidence about The Comic Asylum.

I really do try to bring both thought-provoking bits and fun stuff together under one roof. I'm glad you dug my "Greatest Comic Battles Ever" piece. It was a lot of fun to do. It brought back a lot of good memories for me, from my near two decades of comic reading.

I'm also glad you enjoyed my take on the "hype-burnout" event from a little bit ago. As both a fan and retailer myself, I thought I'd have a somewhat unique take on the issue, since I see it on two different fronts.

I've added you blog to my favorite places. I'll be checking it out when I have a little more time. If I like what I see, I'll be addeding you to my links at The Comic Asylum. After all, good blogs need all the attention they can get, right?

Thanks again.

Tom Bondurant said...

Thanks from me too, Jim! There is a fine line between "detailed" and "boring," so it's good to hear I'm on the right side of things.

More New Teen Titans essays are coming, along with recaps of the Geoff Johns Flash.

You run a great site! Of course, with us on the same wavelength, you probably expected me to say that....

Jim Roeg said...

Hi James--my pleasure! And thanks for the link back. Hope you enjoy D.A. once you get the chance to browse through it a bit (there aren't enough hours in the day to read everything we want to, I know)!

Of course, with us on the same wavelength, you probably expected me to say that....
lol! Naturally. And what's more, I know your recaps of the Flash will be outstanding too. Looking forward to them, especially since just last week I pulled out those very issues and begand rereading Johns's run from the beginning! (Seriously. I do not kid.) Wtf??

David Norman said...

You're far too kind, Jim; I don't think my writing is that great yet, but thanks for the complimentary words anyway :)

It's nice to know that one is being read at all, especially by someone who produces quality content such as yourself. Looking forward to your piece on CrossGen.

Jim Roeg said...

Hey, David--no sweat, and don't knock your writing. It's good. I especially appreciated your movie review of the Island (your comparison of the highway crashes to the Matrix highway sequence was bang on--at least, I had the same thought exactly, for what it's worth). I was feeling a bit guilty about my own more negative review of the Island, so it was nice to read a more measured one. Also, I'm really looking forward to your thoughts about those CrossGen comics you picked up!