Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stuff and Things for July

1) Because individual "pages" do not really post on the main page, I have been posting lecture notes from my Fall 2012 course called The History of Zombie Films. They appear on Mondays and Wednesdays, and they can be accessed from the Essays/Lectures page linked at the top.

2) I am preparing to move at the end of the month and I am getting rid of a lot of things. I am still throwing stuff up on Ebay on the weekends, which is the only time I have to do that. Right now there are some DVDs, some vintage paperbacks, graphic novels, and comic books. The first Hack/Slash Omnibus, most of the first series of Crossed is up (I have not scanned the cover for #5...apparently I have a super rare cover variant), and I will be placing the issues of The Victorian Undead up this week or weekend (Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). My Ebay page is here.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Repost from 2010. This series is still going on, albeit under a mixture of authors and with subtitle/sequel titles attached. I believe Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows also occasionally still participate in the series.

Written by Garth Ennis || Illustrated by Jacen Burrows || Avatar Press || 2008-2010, 9 issues

My initial interest in the recently completed 9-comic book series Crossed is pretty much a case of "don't judge a book by its cover" gone awry. I first saw Crossed at a comic book store in Los Angeles last summer, but didn't pick up the series (which was at issue #6 at the time) because they didn't have the first couple of issues. It looked like an interesting zombie comic. By the time I got home, I had forgotten the name, and didn't get around to trying to piece it together until November. Once successful (fanwikis are useful) I ordered the back issues online and from my local comic book store. Before I got each of my orders, I found out that Crossed was probably going to be different from most zombie comics (for one, it's not really a zombie comic in the same way a lot of people will say 28 Days Later is not a zombie movie)

It was probably not good that I got into Crossed after finishing the 10-volume Y: The Last Man graphic novel series. The apocalypse scenario in Y was that a sudden plague outbreak killed all males on the planet at once, except for one male human and his male monkey companion. It's a good, compelling series. Crossed, on the other hand, seems to be Garth Ennis thinking, "let's think of something worse than zombies or the worst case scenario for the world to end". The "crossed" are infected humans who do the worst things in their mind to inflict on and infect other humans. Most of it involves rape, which is one of the ways one can become infected. Men, women, children, the elderly, it doesn't matter (even if children are mostly shown being murdered rather than raped). It also involves mass murder, but that seems to be mostly in the background. Other infected blow up a nuclear facility. So the infected can think, even if it is mostly centered around hunting down or hurting humans. It is never revealed how the infection came to be, and the infected are called the "crossed" because of the scabby series of marks on their faces that form a cross.

The series follows a group of survivors from a diner as they try to make it out to the northwest, then Alaska (under the assumption that there will be fewer infected there, and if there are any, they will freeze soon enough - you know, the obligatory Max Brooks reference). The main characters are a guy and a single mother who assumes the leadership position because she knows how to defend herself (mostly due to being the survivor of an abusive marriage). There is little-to-no character development until late in the series, and the comic is mostly vignettes of fucked up situations the survivors get into while trying to stay away from the crossed. The group's numbers dwindle issue by issue until there are only five left by the final issue. The only character I found compelling was the underused Kitrick, a man who had to see his family murdered by the crossed while he was swimming at the beach.

If I don't sound enthusiastic, it's because other than the artwork by Jacen Burrows, which is what attracted me to the comic in the first place, there is nothing to be excited about in Crossed; unless you really like new, nihilistic endgame scenarios. Once the shock wears off, there is really nothing much to the series. It pretty much ends with the biggest zombie movie cliche line ever, which is "they're us and we're them", it's as if Garth Ennis wanted to remind people of the pain that was Diary of the Dead, or every badly written academic article on zombie movies. He tried to proceed the cliche with an explanation that the infected were the rapists, pedophiles, and terrorists of the world, but that was a gross disregard of his own work and the initial premise and setting of the story, especially when contrasted against Burrows' covers for the series, which depicted people being attacked by the infected in everyday situations (fast food joints, high school, police stations, airplanes). The series does not play well with what it seems to want to say, which is that all humans are capable of evil, regardless of whether they were good or bad people before this infection struck. It wavers on the subject quite often, but abandons it almost altogether late in the series, especially as the survivors become followed by one group of the crossed.

The collected volume of Crossed is supposed to come out in the next couple of months, if Avatar Press can stick to the deadline, which was another problem with this series coming out in a timely manner. The series will apparently continue under a new writer and artist soon.

- And I really need to learn not to stick with things after I learn how awful they are. The casual optimism of "oh, maybe it will get better" gets me nowhere everytime.

- There should also be a moratorium on using the line "they're us and we're them" and any variations thereof in all forms of writing on zombies and other formerly human creatures. Any sort of writer who uses it will get smacked with an automatic "F- -".

Update 03/14/10: Courtesy of a comment someone from Avatar Press left: the collected volume of Crossed should be in stores by April. My local comic book store is already taking pre-orders for the new series Crossed: Family Values, which I think is due in May.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tank Girl (1995)

Dir. Rachel Talalay || 1995 || USA

I remember liking Tank Girl as a teen in the 1990s, but looking at it now, it's easy to see what a mess this film is. It's not an odd or even fully enjoyable mess, and it's only occasionally amusing. It can't be chalked up to inexperience or disinterest in the source material, qualities that tend to factor into the better comic book films; because Talalay was an experienced director at this point and did like the material. But by all accounts, there was a lot of studio interference with the film because up until this past decade, very few people knew what to do with comic books or graphic novels as source material. The film is live action, but it also has clips from the comic books and animation sequences.

Most post-apocalyptic films tend to have a timeless quality to them, no matter what decade they were made in. Tank Girl is so 90s it hurts. The situation that the film takes place in is timeless - where a comet hit Earth and it hasn't rained in 11 years, so water is high in demand and only a select few has access to it. But everything else is 90s. Considering that one of the first places I was introduced to Tank Girl was an article in Harper's Bazaar, the fashion magazine (yeah, I read this as a teen, what?), the film is very high on costume changes (IMDB counts 18 for Lori Petty as Tank Girl) and it's all very punk-grunge-pseudo-riot grrrl. Even The Rippers dress in 90s clothing (flannel shirts and t-shirts, one Ripper looks like a half-man-half-kangaroo member of Color Me Badd). It's funny that in the comic's revival in the mid-2000s by IDW Publishing, Tank Girl was drawn as wearing a lot of 1980s power suits because the reasoning was along the lines of "a lot of people still dress like Tank Girl from the 1990s, it's no longer edgy." The soundtrack, supervised by Courtney (Love, Love-Cobain, whatever she's calling herself now) is sort of a mix of good 90s music and music that never made it past that decade, along with some bizarre covers (like Devo covering Soundgarden's cover of Devo's "Girl U Want", or something).

Tank Girl is an overwhelmingly cartoon-y film. And yeah, Tank Girl is a cartoon character even in the comics, but on film it's ridiculous. The film just meanders. The sense of urgency towards saving the little girl that lived with Tank Girl is never there because of all the side missions that are jokes and costume changes. It would almost be a parody if the film could settle on anything whatsoever, other than being a valentine to Tank Girl as a fashion icon of sorts, and occasionally her other positive attributes; like being a good friend or being a loud-mouthed and brave woman.

The one thing that I will give the film is that for much of the film, Tank Girl and Jet Girl (Naomi Watts!) have realistically post-apocalyptic water shortage greasy hair. Do you know how rare that is in post-apocalyptic films? Although Tank Girl's makeup rarely smudges, even when being in a torture chamber for what seems like a couple of days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Crazy Theory #4: Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4 as Superhero Origin Story

I think between my research a couple of years ago and the documentary Never Sleep Again, in my mind, the Nightmare on Elm Street series has kind of built itself up as the only respectable slasher series. It was consistently trying different things within the confines of slasher sequels, while also having an almost enclosed narrative because it rather smartly stuck to one town or one circle of people. Within the enclosed narrative, only maybe parts 2 and 6 were somewhat jettisoned out of the entire Nightmare narrative to various extents, because Nancy was not linked much in those films. Nancy exists in a sort of off-screen space in 2, with the new inhabitant of her room finding her diary. When she returns for part 3 and later dies after teaching the kids that their "superpowers" within their dreams can help defeat Freddy, she still manages to become the link to the fourth and fifth films. 

Part 4 quickly jettisons the remaining survivors of Part 3, who have returned to relatively normal teenage, high school lives. Kristen manages to call her friend Alice into her dream right before she dies. Alice then gains Kristen's power. As each of her friends and her brother begin to fall victim to Freddy, she gains their skills or powers. Her brother was into karate, her above-pictured friend was into weightlifting, another friend is highly skilled in science and can create tools out of simple objects. Alice becomes the only person who can defeat Freddy with her superpowers and release the souls of her friends and his other victims. Essentially, the film is a sweet story about how your loved ones never really die wrapped in a superhero origin story. This is not to say this storyline is maintained into the fifth film exactly, but it's an interesting experiment for the fourth Nightmare film.