Screening Room: ‘The Old Guard’

Based on Greg Rucka’s comic-book series, The Old Guard is a big-budget attempt to start a new action franchise, this one centered around a band of centuries-old mercenaries who are (mostly) immortal.

The Old Guard launches today on Netflix. My review is at Slant:

Smartly prioritizing the bond of relationships over action in the way of the modern franchise series—doing so more organically than the Fast and the Furious series but missing the self-aware comedic patter of the Avengers films—The Old Guard is in the end only somewhat convincing on both counts…

Here’s the trailer:

Reader’s Corner: ‘The Complete Works of Fante Bukowski’

My interview with graphic novelist Noah Van Sciver, author of The Complete Works of Fante Bukowski, ran in Publishers Weekly:

You’ve written three books about Fante Bukowski, a delusional, arrogant, and slovenly character. Do you find something admirable in his belief in his own greatness?

I’m always interested in people who are obsessed with one thing, like people who become obsessed with comics history. I think it’s admirable to dedicate your life to this role. But now I have to think about it. Is he admirable? He’s dedicated to being a drunken writer [laughing]. I don’t know if that’s admirable, though…

Reader’s Corner: Stan Lee’s Marvelous Life

My interview with Danny Fingeroth, author of the new biography A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee, was just posted at Publishers Weekly:

What do you think accounts for Lee’s ability to create such an incredibly long-lived roster of characters?

Stan is pretty much the only comic creator who the casual person on the street would know. Because he became the voice and face of not just Marvel Comics but the comics industry, there was a long time when Marvel had no publicity department. Stan was in the office most days, he was available, he always had a quip and a quote. Stan took that on. He realized that this would be his vehicle for extending himself and Marvel beyond the attention of people who read comics. He cultivated it. Why nobody else took that on is hard to say…

Screening Room: ‘Avengers: Endgame’

My article, “Is Avengers: Endgame a Miserable Bore or Something Worse?” was published at Eyes Wide Open:

It’s official: We’ve been had. Avengers: Endgame is many things. A complex web of interlocking character arcs. A masterpiece of corporate synergy. A box office hit whose take various publications simply cannot stop fawning over. It is not a good movie, or even a passable one. Yet somehow this great yawning bore of a cinematic black hole will end up being remembered as the great smash hit of 2019…

Writer’s Desk: Let the Magic Happen

When graphic novelist Alan Moore (Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) was asked by a fan what “happens” to him when he writes, this is in part how he replied:

I know that my consciousness, if I am immersed in writing something demanding, is moved into a completely different state than the one which I inhabit during most of my waking life…

When you descend into this level of our reality, the code of our reality if you like, then whether consciously or not; whether deliberately or not, you are working magic. So, the answer to your question as to what happens to me when I write, is the most banal and useless answer you will ever get from an author: the magic happens…

One of the secrets to writing, it would seem, is to allow yourself to descend into that fugue state and just let the magic work its way through you.

It seems to have worked for Moore.

Reader’s Corner: Social Justice at Comic-Con

Though it will probably spur a backlash from the troll-ier corners of fanboy world, this year’s San Diego Comic-Con—the ever-more-massive pop culture lollapalooza currently taking over a good part of the city’s downtown—features a broad focus on diversity and social justice issues.

Per the San Diego Union-Tribune, here’s a few of the events being highlighted:

  • Panel: “Radical Activism in Comics”
  • Panel: “What Rebellions are Built On: Popular Culture, Radical Culture, and Politically Engaged Geeks”
  • Voter registration drive led by Indivisible and Black Mask Studios

Also, Black Mask Studios is releasing a special convention issue of their Trump-versus-California comic Calexit, with all proceeds going to help immigrants and their families in the San Diego area.

Reader’s Corner: Investigating Your Father

In All the Answers, Michael Kupperman tells the story of the strange childhood of his father, a brilliant professor who in his youth starred on a hugely popular wartime radio show called Quiz Kids. It’s an engrossing and emotional personal history in which Kupperman discovers more about his reticent father on the Internet than through living with him.

My interview with Kupperman is in the current Publisher’s Weekly.

Nota Bene: On Being a Black Nerd

From Lawrence Ware’s “Black Panther and the Revenge of the Black Nerds,” where he talks about what the release of a blockbuster adaptation of the Black Panther comic series means:

Now I know that to be a black nerd is by no means anomalous; there are millions of people who look like me and grew up loving comic books. Yet despite our numbers, we were underground for a long time. But now, there appears to be a widening cultural appreciation for what black people have always known: There are many ways to be black in America. The 44th president helped.

Barack Obama meant a lot to black nerds. Jordan Peele, the director of “Get Out,” told NPR back in 2012, “Up until Obama, it was basically Urkel and the black guy from ‘Revenge of the Nerds.’” President Obama showed us that to be black and nerdy could actually be an expression of black cool, what the author Rebecca Walker who compiled a series of essays on that topic, defines as audacity, resistance and authenticity in the face of white supremacy.

Reader’s Corner: Best Graphic Novel of the Year

Every year, the good folks at Publishers Weekly ask all of us lucky writers who review comics for them to put our votes in for what we thought were the best books of the year. The results came out this week in their Annual Graphic Novel Critics Poll.

The winner was Emil Ferris’s My Favorite Thing is Monsters. Some of the runners-up were:

  • Everything is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell
  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
  • My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi

Weekend Reading: August 12, 2016

reading

Screening Room: ‘Captain America: Civil War’

capamerica1

Roaring into theaters in the wake of Batman vs. Superman and before the summer movie season really gets going, the latest Marvel launching pad for yet more movies and series, Captain America: Civil War opens everywhere this week. 

My review is at PopMatters:

When Shakespeare wrote about the quality of mercy in The Merchant of Venice, chances are he wasn’t thinking about perpetually quipping guys in shiny suits slamming each other into walls…

Here’s the trailer:

Reader’s Corner: The Best Graphic Novels of 2015

'The Sculptor' by Scott McCloud
‘The Sculptor’ by Scott McCloud

Every December, Publishers Weekly surveys its reviewers — including yours truly — for an idea of what they thought were the best graphic novels of the past year. After our votes and comments were tabulated, the results were published here.

The winner was Scott McCloud’s gorgeous and adventurous The Sculptor.

Some of the runners-up were: