Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Blog Template Update for January

This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.

January was a busy, busy month. Why? I'll tell you in late February. But trust me, it was busy. I did find out that we're having a son (we knew we were having a baby, but not a boy), which was probably the most notable thing about the month. And, as always, I watched a lot of TV and read a lot of comics.

I did pretty well with my intent to get back to Graphic Novel A Month, just falling off here in the last couple of days. 31 days in January, and I covered 28 books. The result was about 14 graphic novels I'd consider worthy of a top 10, although I didn't have too much trouble narrowing it down. There were five Wednesdays in January, but there were several light weeks, resulting in only about 25 that I had to cut down to a top 20. But the last couple weeks of January were pretty good. DMZ fell off because it reads better in single issues, True Story because I didn't get to read it in January (although it almost certainly would have made my Top 20) and a couple others because, well... they weren't as good as the 20 I picked. As for the stats: 5 DC (1 of which is in continuity, and canceled, Manhunter), 4 Vertigo, 7 Marvel (2 Brubaker, 2 Vaughan, 1 McKeever, 1 Parker and, surprising me, 1 Ellis, and it's even tied into Civil War, where most of my picks aren't), 2 Dark Horse (Star Wars Dark Times and Usagi Yojimbo) and 2 indy (Toupydoops and Damned). No Image, weirdly, although Invincible, The Official Handbook o/t Invincible Universe, True Story Swear to God and Godland almost made it.

When it comes to TV? I gotta admit, I'm looking forward to the midseason. The Shield doesn't come back until March, which is also when Paul Haggis' The Black Donnellys starts. April looks like a pretty good month, with Sopranos and Entourage and Tim Minear's Drive. It's also a great month for comics, so I'm going to be overwhelmed with entertainment in April. Fortunately, though, the holiday viewing slump already ended in January, with the return of 24 (some great surprises in that 4 hour opener, I like a lot of the new players and I'm pretty much enjoying the manly art of action soap opera), Rome (I never look forward to it, but I always love watching it), Battlestar Galactica (coming back strong from its brief hiatus) and Veronica Mars (weakest season yet, but it's still pretty good with moments of great). What's interesting, though, is that NBC just rules my programming schedule these days. I was a Heroes skeptic, but I've been won over. I was a 30 Rock skeptic, but I now love it and find it hilarious. I see the flaws in Studio 60, but I don't care because I still really enjoy it and love the writing and the cast. I'm delighted that Scrubs is back (loved that musical episode), and last three Office episodes have been some of the best of the entire series thus far. My Name is Earl probably wouldn't be on my Top 10 if there was something else to push it off, but it's a solid, often very funny show. So NBC has six of my top 10 favorite shows in January, and they technically have a piece of Battlestar as well. If only they still had Kidnapped, that might have pushed something else off the list (probably Earl, though). Otherwise, SCIFI has 1, FOX has 1, HBO has 1, the CW has 1 and of course CBS is dead to me. ABC isn't, but I think I'm only watching Lost since they canceled The Nine.

I did "read" my novel of the month by finishing the audibook of John Hodgman's Areas of My Expertise. My novel for February is Fletch's Moxie, and perhaps other Fletch books.

I added three sites to my regular RSS feeds this month. The blog of writer Brian Wood (DMZ, Local), which I just had missed up to this point I guess; Big Head Press, home of the fantastic online graphic novel La Muse and others; and Welcome to Falling Oaks, a beautifully illustrated, intriguing new webcomic by Mora/Sea of Red's Paul Harmon.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Must-Read Online Graphic Novel

Adi Tantimedh and Hugo Petrus present the first thirteen pages of their serialized online graphic novel, La Muse. It's amazing. I wish more print comics were this good. In short, it's about a super-powerful political activist and her press agent/manager of a sister, but that really doesn't do it justice, and I'd hate to spoil the fun. There are funny moments, great action sequences and fantastic art that reminds me of the best work of Leonard Kirk or Stuart Immonen.

It's free. Go and read it, then add it to your RSS feeds. I know I have, and I'm already hoping there will be a print version I can buy when it's all done. Oh, and Big Head, the online publisher, has a variety of other interesting comics there as well.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Jack Staff Vol. 3: Echoes of Tomorrow

Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Company: Image Comics
Price: $16.99 ($11.55 at Amazon)

This volume, like volume two, jumps around in time quite a bit, and while there's a lot I like, there are a lot of elements I wasn't crazy about either. The sideways arranged story of the Druid got annoying enough that I didn't read it, and Grist again teased more of Jack's past, but stopped short of providing answers. On the other hand, the Becky Burdock/Bramble & Son story featuring vampires, vampire hunters and vampire-worshiping cults was a whole lot of fun, the Claw's short-circuiting of a young thief absolutely hilarious, the Alan Moore-looking mystic Morlan a lot of fun and the unexpected resolution of the German super soldier story quite enjoyable as well. Overall, this is a great read with nice art, although again it's the kind of thing that really reads much better in trade paperback. I miss Kane, and I'd like more answers on the backstory in Jack Staff, but this is still a really great read.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Jack Staff Vol. 2 Soldiers

Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Company: Image Comics
Price: $15.95 ($10.85 at Amazon)

Inspired by reading the last two Kane books, I decided to dive back into Paul Grist's full color superhero offering, Jack Staff. As I remembered, Jack Staff is really good comics, but it pales in comparison to Grist's work on Kane. Jack Staff has a wide cast of interesting characters equally inspired by British and American comic book heroes, and some of the same quirky weirdness that makes Kane work, but it's almost impossible to really follow in single issue form, and leaves unanswered questions even in trades. The jumping back and forth in time and jumping between narrators in this volume gets particularly confusing, and while it's not impossible to follow, it's harder than it should be. I also keep waiting for Grist to provide answers to some of the big questions, like why Jack is as young as he is for someone who fought in World War II, but he doesn't really seem interested in those details. There are answers here to what happened to Jack during World War II, what ties him to Becky Burdock and several other mysteries involving several other characters, but I wish there were more straightforward answers and straightforward storytelling.

The Department of Taking Things Too Seriously

MySpace post leads to murder conspiracy charges for 6 teen girls

I get that after Columbine, everybody is scared. I get it. As a parent, I share it. But y'know, when the "hit list" includes the Energizer Bunny, Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey, don'tcha think maybe those teenage girls were just venting? Especially when there's no evidence of weapons or plans? Yes, it was stupid of them. Yes, for God's sake check it out, make sure they're not storing bombs or guns or what-have-you in their closets. But if they're not, maybe you shouldn't cart them off to a juvenile detention facility?

I don't have all the facts here, just what's presented in the article at CNN. Maybe these girls are borderline psychopaths and the rural authorities of Tennessee have prevented a high school massacre. It wouldn't be my guess, but I don't *know*. Here's what I know... if anyone ever comes to take my teenage daughter away for conspiracy to commit criminal homicide on something as stupid as this, there's going to *be* a criminal homicide involving whoever is trying to take her.

I hope they sue the hell out of the school and the police.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: The Legend of Grimjack Vol. 6

Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Tom Mandrake, Robb Phipps & Mike Machlan
Company: IDW
Price: $24.99 ($16.22 used at Amazon)

And so ends an era for Grimjack. Though original artist Tim Truman had already moved on, John Ostrander stuck with John Gaunt for a little while longer, until the stories reprinted in this issue, where he and new artist Tom Mandrake put him through hell with another doomed love and then sent him to his final reward. Or so it would seem. It's funny, I bet reading this in single issues was amazing, because who would have guessed they would do what they did to the main character? True, the next iteration wasn't as good as the original, and in many ways this is the end of the best of Grimjack, but there's still plenty of good stuff to come, and this was a particular high point, taking the grim noir tone of the series to its logical conclusion.

Weekly Comics to Come - January 31, 2007

Batman And The Mad Monk #6 (Concluding Matt Wagner's great Batman stories... can't wait to see what he does next)
Ex Machina #26 (#25 was great, looking forward to this book more than ever now)
Hellboy Animated Vol 1 Black Wedding TP (Surprisingly fun, really nice art)
Jack Of Fables #7 (A little weirded out by the mid-story arc change, but I'm generally digging the book)
Usagi Yojimbo #100 (All-star celebration of Sakai's samurai rabbit)

52 Week #39 (DC's weekly title, and I'm running out of things to say about it)
American Virgin #11 (Interesting twist in the last issue, hope this book gets to keep going for a while)
Daredevil #93 (Epilogue to the big DD story Brubaker's been telling, I think?)
Elephantmen #6 (I'm behind on reading single issues, but this is always a good read)
Scarface Scarred For Life #2 (I'll give the second issue a try, based on immense kind words from Brubaker and Robert Kirkman)
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #13 (I'm an issue behind, but I've read the trade and #11, and found this to be a lot of action-oriented fun)
Superman Back In Action TP (Busiek's OYL stuff, with Superman back as himself)
Walking Dead #34 (Potentially off this book after last issue, but I'll check back in)
Wasteland #6 (I'm sort of losing the thread in single issues, think I want to read the whole story in one chunk)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Hellboy Animated Vol. 1: Black Wedding

Writers: Jim Pascoe & Tad Stones
Artists: Rick Lacy & Fabio Laguna
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $6.95 ($6.95 at Amazon)

Wow. I haven't watched the animated Hellboy stored on my Tivo yet, but I'm going to get to it soon, if the strength of this new digest from Dark Horse is an indication of what to expect. And given that Tad Stones, writer of the second story in the volume, is heavily involved in the animated movies, it probably is. At any rate, there are two really good stories in here. The main feature, "Black Wedding," is a beautifully illustrated story that features all the BPRD and Hellboy and is clever, funny and true to the spirit of the BPRD/Hellboy series but with a style that marks it as different for the "animated" style and the closing story, a shorter one about young Hellboy messing up BPRD research with his emulation of his screen idol, is a lot of fun as well. Great for fans of Hellboy and the BPRD, new and old alike.

The Best Political Theory Ever

John Rogers, writer of Blue Beetle, several short stories for Boom! and TV shows many and varied, chats with a friend about politics. And comes up with a shockingly, frighteningly believable theory about "crazification."

It's a Boy

Suzanne and I had our seismographoscan (I forget what it's actually called at the moment, so I'm using the name Lex Luthor would have used if he invented it) yesterday to find out the sex of the baby, and it turns out... it's a boy.

Truthfully, I think we both were expecting it. We would have been surprised if they'd told us it's a girl. This means a whole new set of learning challenges... we've been through a baby girl before, but a baby boy (and a toddler boy) is going to be quite a different story.

But I'm pretty happy about it. Would have been perfectly happy with another girl, I love Katy like I didn't think was even possible, but yeah, I'm looking forward to having a son, which is a whole different experience.

Now we just have to come up with a name. And no, Kal-El ain't even in the running. Neither is Zeus.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Lucifer Vol. 11 Evensong

Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Peter Gross, Ryan Kelly, Jon J Muth, Zander Cannon, Dean Ormston, Aaron Alexovich
Company: DC Comics/Vertigo
Price: $14.99 ($10.64 at Amazon)

Lucifer was never my favorite Vertigo series, and by the end, I mostly felt like I was reading out of completeness sake. But the final volume really hits some high notes, especially with Elaine's last tale, which is at once heartbreaking and uplifting and human, surprising given the godlike scale that the book always operated on. Carey's magnum opus, moreso even than Gaiman's Sandman from which it sprung, seems like a book that would reward re-reading all together, and that's something I'll have to do at some point, but even not fully remembering everything that had gone before, Evensong makes a pretty satisfying ending for a long-running Vertigo series. It also features some great art, and finally they get around to reprinting the one-shot Lucifer: Nirvana with art by Jon J. Muth which was one of my favorite stories in the book's run.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Grendel The Devil Inside

Writer: Matt Wagner
Artist: Bernie Mireault
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $12.95 ($11.01 at Amazon)

I'm a big fan of Matt Wagner, I like Mireault's artwork and I enjoy Grendel, but I have to say, this was one of my least favorite Grendel stories. One of the things I enjoy about Grendel is that Wagner feels free to change up tone and style in each arc, not to mention mixing up his protagonists and antagonists, but this third generation following the original Hunter Rose feels like it's kind of losing the path. The story, in a nutshell, is that the lover of Christine Spar has been hit hard by her loss, and combining that with a growing disdain for the city, he slowly goes mad and starts killing people, eventually putting him in conflict with the cop who brought Christine Spar down. However, the story is told through several viewpoints, including the lead character's thoughts, his notebooks and the voice of Grendel, a presence which has begun to infect him. It's all very experimental storytelling, and it's an interesting experiment, but I guess I prefer Wagner a bit more straightforward in general. Solid work, but not the best chapter in the Grendel saga.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Kane Vol. 6: Partners

Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Company: Image Comics
Price: $16.99 ($11.55 at Amazon)

Picking up nicely where Volume 5 left off, Kane Vol. 6 continues to flash back to the events that caused Kane to become a pariah in the department, as well as mirroring them with a modern "devil's bargain" that his current partner has to make with Oscar Darke to find her former partner. As always, Grist mixes experimental storytelling and quirky touches with straightforward cop stories, and as always, the results are very entertaining. Partners is a weaker offering than Vol. 5, if only because the longer story format doesn't have the same "get in, get out" punch that the short stories of Vol. 5 had, but it's still a great read. When I finished, I was disappointed, realizing that there's no Kane on the horizon anytime real soon... and I think it might be time to finally go pick up Jack Staff Vol. 2, and the recently arrived Vol. 3... only then I'll have no Grist to look forward to for a while.

Graphic Novel A Day: Kane Vol. 5 - The Untouchable Rico Costas

Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Company: Image Comics
Price: $13.99 ($11.89 at Amazon)

I enjoy Paul Grist's British-flavored superhero anthology Jack Staff, but I *love* his quirky cop procedural Kane. I'd forgotten how much until I finally got into the last two volumes I've bought, one of which was recent and one of which has been sitting on my shelf for a while. Kane has a heavy Frank Miller influence, even going so far as to have a terrific short story in this volume that references and in some ways lampoons a lot of Miller's Sin City, but if I had to describe Kane in shorthand, I'd say it's more like NYPD Blue done by David E. Kelley and Will Eisner. Sure, the gritty police procedural is there, in the form of Kane's tortured backstory about killing his corrupt partner, but there are also bizarre characters like the self-serving blowhard mayor (not far from Family Guy's Mayor Adam West), a blind hitman who's a direct reference on Daredevil and a crimelord named Oscar Darke who "speaks" with a thick phonetic Southern accent. Add in Kane's stylistic touches, like doing a whole issue in the format of a tabloid newspaper when the story focuses on a tabloid reporter, or his skewed Sin City impression in "Fwankie's Big Night Out" and you've got a terrific and unusual book.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: The Irregulars

Writers: Steven-Elliot Altman & Michael Reaves
Artist: Bong Dazo
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $12.95 ($11.01 at Amazon)

It seems like a good mix, the kid sidekicks of Sherlocke Holmes with contemporary villain Jack the Ripper and a touch of Lovecraft. With one of the original writers on Batman: The Original Series and Gargoyles as co-writer, even! Unfortunately, The Irregulars is sort of bland. The whole side jaunt into a fantasy realm feels more like a weak L. Frank Baum riff than Lovecraft, the writers and artist never really distinguish the characters enough to get me to care about any of them and as a result there wasn't much dramatic tension. Maybe bigger Sherlock Holmes fans than I would dig this, but I wanted to like it in theory and had trouble finishing it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Hellcity Vol. 1

Writer: Macon Blair
Artist: Joe Flood
Company: Gigantic Graphic Novels
Price: $13.95 ($11.16 at Amazon)

Previous Gigantic Graphic Novels offerings, such as Rotting in Dirtville or Dead West, have been books I've really enjoyed, so I had high expectations for Hellcity. That might help explain a little bit of disappointment, that I had set the bar too high. It's not that Hellcity is bad - it's an interesting classic style noir mystery set in an urban version of Hell - but aside from the setting, the whole thing plays out like a hundred other variations on the same crime noir story, and it didn't feel as fresh as I would have liked. I was also a bit disappointed that in a whole $14 graphic novel, I didn't feel like I got a whole story. I realize this is part one of three, but I think it's a bad idea to end your graphic novel on a cliffhanger without resolving some story thread over the course of the story. Basically, this volume is all setup, and it's intriguing setup, especially the last third or so of the book, but without any payoff, it's hard to get too engaged by the story.

Weekly Comics to Come - January 24, 2007

After three weeks of lame weeks, maybe this is finally a good week for comics. It's certainly a full one.

Criminal #4 (The first story arc of Criminal races toward its conclusion)
Damned #4 (Really loving this story of prohibition meets demons, story and art)
Fables #57 (Guest art by Allred! Bigby and his father talk history! Looking forward to this)
Mouse Guard #6 (The conclusion of the indie buzz hit)
True Story Swear To God #3 (Just as good as always at Image... more people should be reading this book)

52 Week #38 (Last issue was a good one, and it seems like some of the big mysteries might start to get wrapped up)
Civil War The Return (The hype worked, sort of... I'm curious to skim this and see who's coming back... but I don't care enough to read it, or to be anything but worried about what godawful thing the current stewards of the Marvel Universe are doing to it next)
Connor Hawke Dragons Blood #3 (Solid action miniseries)
Crossing Midnight #3 (Not hooked yet, but certainly intrigued)
DMZ #15 (If not for the strength of this week's offerings, this definitely would have made the Top Five... fantastic story art in one of the best ongoing series on the market)
Doctor Strange Oath #4 (Lots of limited series reaching their penultimate issue this week)
Dwight T Albatross The Goon Noir #3 (Second issue was weaker than the first, but there's still plenty to like)
Helmet Of Fate Ibis The Invincible #1 (First one-shot had some merits, I'll at least give this a look)
Invincible #38 (Honestly... don't even remember what's going on in this book anymore, the schedule is slowly killing my interest)
Legend Of Grimjack Vol 6 TP (Yay, more Grimjack from IDW!)
Love And Capes #3 (First couple issues were sweet and fun)
Lucifer Vol 11 Evensong TP (I stopped reading this except in trade, so I'm anxious to see how this Vertigo series ends)
Ninja Tales #1 (Boom! gives ninjas the anthology treatment)
Official Handbook O/t Invincible Universe #2 (First issue was just a blast, looking forward to the second which should feature Eliot R. Brown work)
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #14 (Future uncertain, with original writer and artist leaving... so I treasure these last few issues even more)
Star Wars Dark Times #2 (Wow, is this late... but the first issue was good)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Avengers Assemble Vol. 4 HC

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Jerry Ordway, Steve Epting, John Romita Jr., Alan Davis & more
Company: Marvel Comics
Price: $34.99 ($23.09 at Amazon)

It's funny, I didn't wholly appreciate how good Busiek's Avengers run was at the time. I mean, I loved a lot of it, but I fell off several times, and I seem to recall loving some of the issues collected in here and being lukewarm on some of the others. But looking at this hardcover, which collects the Avengers vs. Intergalactic Federation story Maximum Security and the post-Perez Avengers segueing into Alan Davis' all-too-brief run, all I could think is that this is sort of the baseline I'd like for the Marvel Universe. Fun for all ages but not dumbed down, loaded with continuity and characters but not restricted to only longtime fans, packed with action and respectful of the style of the superhero genre. The heroes are heroic, but their struggles still have tension, the stories are action-packed but they don't leave out characterization. It's really the closest the Avengers got to what is to me the untouchable greatness of Roger Stern's run. I loved this book, and hope there's at least one more on the way to finish out Busiek's run on the book. The only sadness is that reading this, I realized that the type of superhero shared universe I want is probably dead and gone, replaced by the Civil War/Identity Crisis-tinged modern universe that, quite frankly, usually holds little to no interest for me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Marvel Visionaries: John Buscema HC

Writer: Various
Artist: John Buscema
Company: Marvel Comics
Price: $34.99 ($23.09 at Amazon)

I have a huge fondness for the art of John Buscema, and I like the oversized hardcover "Visionaries" format quite a bit in theory, but overall, this book didn't quite make the grade to be added to my library. The selection of stuff is interesting, a fairly complete look at Buscema's career with a heartfelt introduction by Roy Thomas, but I found that most of what I really wanted to see I already had, either in the form of trade paperbacks, original issues, DVD-ROM or in a few cases all three. The few stories I didn't have were either early work that didn't really capture why I liked Buscema so much (in the case of the EC-style stories at the beginning) or were too small to be worth picking up an expensive volume like this one (such as the Black & White story). It's a good book, and worth picking up for anyone following the Visionaries series, but since I already bought another Marvel HC (Avengers Assemble Vol 4) and the newest color Bone this week, I decided to put this one back on the shelf.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Sergio Aragones' Groo Odyssey

Writer: Mark Evanier
Artist: Sergio Aragones
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $12.95 ($10.36 at Amazon)

Groo is one of those weird holes in my comics history. I know Evanier's work to some degree, and of course I'm familiar with Aragones' cartooning, but I've never sampled their comedy about a hapless barbarian, which has run through several companies, killed several companies and currently rests at Dark Horse. This was my first exposure and I have to say, given it's reputation, I wasn't that impressed. Aragones is a masterful cartoonist, but the whole thing really is one joke (look how stupid Groo is) run over and over again in multiple variations, and it's just not that funny of a joke. Maybe it's just aimed at a younger crowd, but these tales of Groo as a pirate, Groo being mistaken for a god, Groo's rampaging sister and Groo as a lawman were mildly amusing at best.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Essential OHOTMU Update '89

Writer: Peter Sanderson
Artists: Various
Company: Marvel Comics
Price: $16.99 ($12.06 at Amazon)

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition (or OHOTMU, as it's been lovingly abbreviated by me and some friends) is basically the bible of my Marvel Universe. It captures my favorite era, the mid-'80s, and is overseen by the best steward the Marvel Universe has ever seen, Mark Gruenwald. I wondered, when they did this Essential Volume of the '89 Update, why it was a Volume 1, not Volume 4 of the Essential OHOTMUs. Having reread, now I know why. This bears more resemblance to Marvel's modern pretender to the Handbook throne than the classic that they produced in the '80s. Gruenwald is gone, replaced by Gregory Wright and then Terry Kavanaugh, neither of whom lit the world on fire with their Marvel comics writing. The all-star line-up of artists from the OHOTMU is gone, and while big names like Walt Simonson and John Byrne do make appearances, and there's some solid art throughout, there's also some godawful art. Rob Liefeld does some art, to give you an indication. In addition, for the most part, there wasn't a need for this update. If you needed a snapshot for when Marvel went on the decline during the Tom DeFalco era, the '89 Handbook offers that. Fallen Angels? SHIELD II? Goblyn and Manikin and the rest of the late era Mantlo Alpha Flight? Artie and Leech, for God's sake! Add in some fairly weak reproduction, with lettering becoming faded and tough to read, and this is a big comedown from Marvel's three volume reprint of the original OHOTMU Deluxe.

Of Ice and Men

You know, here's a dirty little secret the cowboys don't want you to know. They're all manly men, chewing tobaccey and punching out cows and such, but if it drops below 35 degrees, they turn into big 'ol wusses.

Seriously, stores are closing around here and people are freaking out because it's 30 degrees outside and there's some ice on cars. I went out and took my dog to the vet, and there is... zero... ice... on the freakin' road. Maybe, maybe there's more on the highway. I'm willing to allow for that. But the sheer panic... it's like the clouds dropped twelve inches of snow on us or something.

Maybe I'm jaded since I lived in Colorado, where I rode my bike in the snow. Where if they shut down when it got below 30, the whole state wouldn't function for months at a time. But jeez... get some mittens and man up, people!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Star Wars General Grievous

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Rick Leonardi
Company: Dark Horse
Price: $12.95 ($10.75 at Amazon)

I'm cheating a bit, because I actually read this a couple weeks back, but I haven't read any graphic novels over the last day or so, and so I'm finally giving this one a write-up. At any rate, this is a mostly forgettable although decently done miniseries tying into Episode III. My hope was that Dixon and Leonardi, both known for doing solid if rarely spectacular work, would be giving us the never-revealed origin of Grievous. That doesn't happen here. Instead, it's a story of Grievous killing Jedi and kidnapping Jedi children, and of Jedi children standing up to him. It's about some Jedi seeking revenge because the council is too wussy to stand up to him. Basically, it highlights a lot of what I didn't like about the character, as opposed to what I did, which was the stuff in the Tartakovsky cartoons. That said, there's some solid action, an interesting backstory tying in Empire Strikes Back's Ugnaughts to the Republic era and he's still a more interesting character here than he was in the movie. Seriously, George, a cough? That's the tic you gave your big bad guy? Why not have him limp and have trouble going to the bathroom too?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 1: Commencement

Writer: John Jackson Miller
Artists: Brian Ching & Travel Foreman
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $18.95 ($13.45 at Amazon)

I haven't played the Knights of the Old Republic videogame, but I've been meaning to, and reading this graphic novel just reinforces that. Miller writes a swashbuckling, adventure-laden story set in the earlier days of the Star Wars Universe that is fun (with touches of darkness in the plot) and has all the feel of a good Star Wars role-playing session. The artwork by Brian Ching and Travel Foreman is nice, the cast of characters interesting and the general plot, about an obsessive group of Jedi who commit an atrocity in hopes of preventing a larger one, pretty solid. I look forward to seeing where future adventures take us.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Fallen Angel Vol. 2: Down to Earth

Writer: Peter David
Artists: David Lopez & Fernando Blanco
Company: DC Comics
Price: $14.95 ($10.19 at Amazon)

I've sort of fallen off Fallen Angel after it moved to IDW, because the 20 years later story and the artwork just didn't appeal the way the original series did. But reading this second trade of the DC series makes me want to go give the IDW series another try, as this book really reads stronger in trades, where you can see the throughlines of the stories, the mysteries and the character development so much stronger. David's moral dilemmas for the lead character can be a little heavy-handed, but it sort of works in the uber-noir genre he's created for Fallen Angel, and there's some great mystery and character bits in this trade, which features the origin of Black Mariah (the Fallen Angel's nemesis - sorta), Angel's first meeting with Dr. Juris, her sometimes lover and sometimes enemy and fallout from events in the first trade. I hope DC reprints the whole run in trades.

Weekly Comics to Come - January 17, 2007

Marvel Adventures Avengers #9 (Jeff Parker returns, and MODOK is riding in with him. Hells yeah!)
Marvel Visionaries John Buscema HC (One of my favorite artists, I'm delighted to get a chance to pick up a hardcover collection of some of his Marvel best... although I fear it could spark the format whore in me to pick up more of these pricey Visionaries hardcovers)
Spirit #2 (Loving The Spirit... can't wait to see more issues)
Toupydoops #5 (The exceptionally fun indy comic returns with a new issue)
Y The Last Man #53 (After a disappointing last arc, I'm looking forward to less technobabble about clones and more of the last 7 issues of one of my favorite comics)

52 Week #37 (You killed *N*M*** *A*! You bastards! But they may yet decide *not* to kill The Question. See? Something I hate, something I like every week)
Avengers Assemble Vol 4 HC (More of the Busiek Avengers, with Alan Davis art, plus his surprisingly fun Maximum Security crossover)
Bone Vol 5 Rock Jaw Master Of Eastern Border Color TP (I'm not even reading these until I get all nine volumes in color... but I can't wait to get them and do a big reread)
Demonwars The Demon Awakens #1 (This was kinda fun fantasy when Crossgen publishes it, curious to see how Devil's Due will handle it)
Desperadoes Buffalo Dreams #1 (New supernatural/western, with art by Alberto Dose)
Helmet Of Fate Detective Chimp #1 (I'm curious... not optimistic, but curious)
Lost Books Of Eve #1 (Love Howard's art, mildly interested in the concept)
Love As A Foreign Language #6 (Hooray! Eric Kim and J. Torres return for another outing of their cross-cultural romance book)
She-Hulk 2 #15 (OK, it's *this* issue that starts the She-Hulk as Agent of SHIELD issue. Honestly, I may be over this book... but it gets one more chance to win me back)
Ultimate X-Men #78 (Guilty pleasure, as Kirkman channels the '90s X-Men. Which I hated at the time, but I'm finding his take interesting enough)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Monster Vol. 6

Writer/Artist: Naoki Urusawa
Translators: Agnes Yoshida & Hirotaka Kikaya
Company: Viz
Price: $9.99 ($9.99 at Amazon)

Another great volume of Monster, as Tenma faces off with a fanatically dedicated police inspector and then takes solace with a group of dangerous men. Which doesn't help much when his ex-fiance and a deadly killer come looking for him, allowing his fiance to face her feelings and see if she can redeem herself. All the while, a pair of students investigating a lonely rich man find themselves embroiled in Johan's web without even knowing it. Tense, layered stuff as always, this is definitely my favorite manga running.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Star Wars Tag & Bink Were Here

Writer: Kevin Rubio
Artist: Lucas Marangon
Company: Dark Horse Comics
Price: $14.95 ($10.17 at Amazon)

I read the original Tag & Bink miniseries, and remember finding it very funny. I read the latest one-shots, and didn't really get much of a chuckle out of them. Reading all the Tag & Bink stories together, my opinion meets in the middle. It wasn't really laugh out loud funny to me, but I had to respect Rubio's clever script, inserting the hapless Tag & Bink into every important event of the various movies, and I really enjoyed the cartoony artwork of Lucas Marangon quite a bit. Dark Horse's Star Wars line is an impressive array of different approaches to the characters, and this parody of them, combined with a loving devotion to continuity that only a true fan could have, is yet another interesting and fun flavor. It's not the first Star Wars book I'd recommend to someone about to dive into the comics, but it's hardly the last one either.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: The Art of Dragon Magazine

Artists: Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, Jeff Easley, Wayne Reynolds, Brom, Todd Lockwood, Tony DiTerlizzi, Tim Hildebrandt, Daniel Horne, Dennis Beauvais, Clyde Caldwell, Kalman Andrasofszky, etc.
Company: Paizo Publishing
Price: $34.95 ($23.07 at Amazon)

OK, technically this isn't a graphic novel, but it is a really nice art book. I read Dragon from probably somewhere in the 70s (issue-wise, not year-wise) to somewhere in the early 120s or so, and then picked it up again for a while when D and D 3.0 came out. I've gotten a lot of use out of the magazine over the years, and seen a lot of great covers too. One of the things that Wizards of the Coast does better than probably any other gaming company is that they use professional artists of the highest caliber and print their work in full color, and you need only look at Art of Dragon to see what a boost that can be to a player's imagination. It was in reading this that I discovered that my favorite Dragon artist, whose images I remembered but name I never knew, was Dennis Beauvais, and they reprint a decent number of his pieces here. There's a variety, from earlier work to the latest stuff, from the classic fantasy paintings to the more comic book and anime-influenced work that we see a lot of in D and D books today from guys like Wayne Reynolds and comics veteran Kalman Andrasofszky. It's loosely organized into themes like dragons, monsters, worlds, etc. but basically the editors get out of the way and let the art do the talking. I would have liked a little more insight, maybe commentary from the artists, but I can't complain about giving the artwork full pages so that you can really appreciate the work. Any fan of fantasy art should definitely pick this one up. I found myself wishing for a DVD-ROM version with the covers of every issue of Dragon and all the interior artwork after reading through it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Manhunter Vols. 1-2

Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Jesus Saiz, Javier Pina, Jimmy Palmiotti, Brad Walker, Diego Olmos, Fernando Blanco & Bob Petreccia
Company: DC Comics
Price: $12.99 & $17.99 ($12.23 at Amazon)

Last night I read the first 14 issues of the new Manhunter series. Or reread, I should say, since I've actually kept up on the book in single issue format. I have my issues with the book, as in some ways it represents the dark and gritty over-reality of DC, and the tie-in to Identity Crisis didn't help. And at first, I found Kate Spencer too abrasive, not just real and flawed like Andreyko intended but actually unpleasant and borderline unlikable. But I've come around to really enjoy the book as a densely-packed story that incorporates some of the lesser-known aspects of the DC Universe and a modern crime drama tone. It's got more than a little in common with the late, lamented Chase, including having Cameron Chase as one of the supporting cast as of the second part of trade number two, and the artwork is terrific. The book is weirdly paced. On one hand, they have a hard time finding good chop points for the trade because the plotting is sort of old school, with plenty of ongoing subplots and foreshadowing of upcoming stories. On the other, it's really kind of hard to keep up with everything in single issue format, so it reads better in trades. Ideally, this is the kind of book I'd like to see published manga style, in $10 trades every few months, but I know just exactly how realistic that is. Still, I hope that the second trade does well and that we get the rest of the series, whether it concludes with #30 or goes on after a successful "last" arc, in trade paperback form as well.

Video: Katy's Little Gym

Today was my daughter's Little Gym "graduation", which means there was a mini dance recital and then gymnastics demonstration. Now, these are like 3-4 years olds, so it's more like cute, mostly organized chaos than an actual recital, but I had a lot of fun and dragged the video camera out of retirement to film it. Since I have Youtube, I'm showing off the results of my shoddy, amateurish camera-work and editing there for the family, and since I have a blog, I'm embedding the videos here as well. Video editing was by Ulead VideoStudio 10, which I've got on 30-day Free Trial. I think it's probably going to be my new video editing software, as it seems easy to use and can do things like import music from my iTunes collection, which is really all I require with my limited editing ability.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Writers: L. Frank Baum, David Chauvel & Kat Amano
Artist: Enrique Fernandez
Company: Image Comics
Price: $9.99 ($9.99 at Amazon)

I've never read the original Oz books, but given the way the property has been translated into comics, I'm really thinking I ought to. First there was Shanower's fantastic Adventures of Oz, and now we have this translated graphic novel, which is a faithful enough comic book adaptation to have Baum's name in the credits. It's a wonderfully engaging tale, sweet and fun and adventurous, and Fernandez's lush painted artwork reminds me of the first time I saw Scott Morse's stuff. Oh, and $10 is an insanely cheap price for this package, which is oversized, 90+ pages and on really nice quality paper. Kudos to Image for great packaging and pricing.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Solidarity for Dummies

ComicsPro, the nascent comics retailer organization of nearly 100 members, has come up with a solution to the recent problems with Civil War mis-shipping from the Los Angeles warehouse due to weather difficulties. (If you're unfamiliar with the situation, here's a rundown at CBR.)

The organization has released an open letter, which Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading has reprinted at her site.

Now, I'm one of the managers for a comics shop that was not affected by the delay. And here's my thinking: "Screw this." I'm not entirely sure how my losing out on a weeks' worth of sales (and make no mistake, not getting Civil War would have cost at least half of the customer base on this particular, relatively slow-shipping Thursday) helps anyone on the West Coast out. If I get Civil War in Austin, am I going to undercut sales to someone who usually shops in San Francisco? Or is this just a "We're miserable, we want everyone to be miserable together" kind of thing?

Seriously, I have sympathy. Had things been different, and my shop hadn't gotten Civil War last week, I would have been pissed. But I wouldn't have demanded that everybody pretend like the book wasn't available anywhere. Unless it's shipping to my local competitors and not me, I don't really see a huge problem with uneven shipping. Yes, it's unfair and yes, it sucks for those in the affected region. But requiring Diamond to not ship the books to every region for a week, undercutting everyone's sales? That would be kind of like your buddy cutting his thumb off and so you cut your thumb off in a show of solidarity. It makes you a *great* friend, but kind of an idiot.

But maybe I'm being short-sighted or selfish. Or both. My initial reaction here, though, is that this is that rare comic book screw-up that is actually nobody's fault. You can stretch and say it's Diamond's fault for not having a better contingency plan in place, but beyond being willing to airlift the comics from the trucks caught in bad weather for a huge sum of money, I'm not quite sure what satisfactory contingency there could be. You could stretch really, really far and blame it on Marvel for not having the book on time in the first place... if it had shipped in December, it might not have hit the bad weather. But really, the blame lies with bad weather. Emotionally, I get that retailers who didn't get their books would be steaming... but I would think that intellectually, they would have to realize that this was an unfortunate accident, not one of the many broken things about the direct market that needs fixing.

If ComicsPro needs a cause, how about getting Diamond to ship all accounts (not just the multi-store chains) on Tuesdays so that the books can be prepared Tuesday nights for sale instead of in as rushed a manner possible on Wednesdays? That would also have the benefit of building in more lead-time if a weather delay like this happened again.

Graphic Novel A Day: Action Philosophers Giant Sized Thing Vol 2

Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Ryan Dunlavey
Company: Evil Twin Comics
Price: $8.95 ($8.95 at Amazon)

Action Philosophers is a great comic, combining witty writing and art with actual informational content about philosophy. Their off-kilter sensibilities, which re-envision philosophers through a pop culture lens, results in this volume in the memorable cross of Karl Marx with Rambo, Derrida with the Terminator and Isaac Luria, creator of the Kabbalah, with Doctor Strange. Amidst these pop-culture laden visuals is a very straightforward, heady analysis of these mens' lives and the philosophy they refined and espoused. I'll be honest, this volume gets into existentialism and such a little too heavily for me, and I found my eyes just glazing over at the deeper exploration of more complicated philosophies, as opposed to the first volume, but there's still plenty to keep the mind and funny bone occupied. And their take on Karl Marx was both informative and possibly the funniest of the bunch except for Plato in the original trade. Check them both out, the trades are ridiculously cheap and really good.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Superman Up, Up and Away

Writers: Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artists: Pete Woods & Renato Guedes
Company: DC Comics
Price: $14.99 ($10.64 at Amazon)

I was disappointed in the "One Year Later" Superman when I first read it, and stopped reading after a couple issues. I wanted Superman, not depowered Clark Kent and friends. However, Superman Confidential, All-Star Superman and good word of mouth on the Busiek/Johns run had me in the mood to give the book another go, and I'm kinda glad I did. I'm still not in love with the run, and I'm not convinced that the best way to return Superman to greatness was several months of him without any powers, but... there's some damn good writing and really terrific art here. I've always liked Pete Woods, but he's at a whole new level on this trade, with some lush work reminiscent of the best of Leinil Francis Yu. I also really dug Busiek and Johns' take on Superman's rogues' gallery, particularly the work done with Luthor and the new Kryptonite Man, and to be honest, even liked seeing Clark and Lois dealing with life without Superman. After reading this trade, I want to go back and check out the rest of the One Year Later stories that have been going on in the Superman books.

Weekly Comics to Come - January 10, 2007

Light week this week.

Agents Of Atlas #6 (Curious to see how Jeff Parker and Leonard Kirk's mini concludes)
Fallen Angel Vol 2 Down To Earth TP (More of the DC run, hoping this means we'll see all of it traded)
Godland #15 (One more issue until the 60 cent jumping-on issue)
Hellstorm Son Of Satan #4 (Surprisingly fun, Vertigo-esque in some ways)
Runaways #23 (The penultimate Vaughan/Alphona issue)

52 Week #36 (I think the focus is on the space stuff this issue, which means I probably won't dig it much)
Batman #662 (The Ostrander/Mandrake run started strong but hasn't done much for me since... we'll see how the ending is)
Batman Confidential #2 (Good writing, weak art)
Justice Society Of America #2 (I had some serious gripes with the first issue, but there was also plenty I liked)
Meltdown #2 (Concluding the tale of a dying hero's flameout)
Thunderbolts #110 (Yeah, I'll probably hate it... but I'll admit to being curious)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: The Black Coat: A Call to Arms

Writers: Ben Lichius & Adam Cogan
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Company: APE Entertainment
Price: $12.95 (Website)

I love the concept for this story, a masked adventurer fighting a slightly supernatural menace in 1775, just before the Revolutionary War developed. And I love a lot of about the execution as well, from sure-to-be-A-lister Francavilla's art to the swashbuckling, intelligent characterization of the main character and his Shadow-like band of secret operatives. I wish the story itself had been a little less convoluted by the time it ended, as it's not a terribly satisfying conclusion for a miniseries. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, the big mystery of the traitor in the group is never resolved and the sinister League is not really explained much either. As the first arc of an ongoing, it would have been more satisfying, but even then, I would like to have seen a little more closure and less open-endedness. That said, the general vibe here is cool, and recommended for fans of pulp adventure with a new, historical twist.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Vol. 2

Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa & Valentine DeLandro
Company: Marvel Comics
Price: $7.99 ($7.99 at Amazon)

The newest collection of the teen drama comic set against the backdrop of Spidey's early years is as good as always. McKeever and DeLandro give us the origin of Mary Jane, with elements of Spidey's origin floating in and out as the story requires, then follows up with the terrific introduction of Gwen Stacy to Peter and Mary Jane's world. It's a new perspective on Gwen, presenting her as a diversion rather than Peter's true love (it's Mary Jane's book, so we know she's his true love) but as a sweet, likable character at any rate, and it adds another dimension to a book that keeps surprising me. My initial reaction to DeLandro's art was somewhat negative, because in my mind nobody but Miyazawa should be drawing this book, but reading it knowing that someone else will be taking over gave me a new perspective and I realized that DeLandro's art was quite good, and just as interesting a take on the characters.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Graphic Novel A Day: Vertigo

Fables Vol. 8: Wolves
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Shawn McManus, Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy
Company: DC/Vertigo
Price: $17.99 ($12.23 at Amazon)

Every volume of Fables is good, but this one holds the unusual distinction of being an ending of sorts for the series. Don't get me wrong, the book is still going, and is still excellent, but the resolution of the Bigby-Snow White story brings with it a lot of closure type moments, and so the whole thing could easily be read as the last issue of the series. It's a very satisfying resolution, with Bigby getting a number of badass moments, plenty of teary reveals and relationship turning points and, as a bonus, an issue where Cinderella goes on a spy mission for the kingdom.

100 Bullets Vol. 10: Decayed
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Company: DC/Vertigo
Price: $14.99 ($10.64 at Amazon)
On the other hand, we have 100 Bullets, which has slowly declined in my eyes with each volume. I really think this book should have gone the 60 issues and out route, because we're on issue 75 as of this volume and I'm done. Decayed is a particularly appropriate title, as a once promising and gripping noir has become repetitive in structure, confusing as hell in terms of story and laden with way too many characters. The atmosphere is still dead-on perfect, thanks to Risso's gorgeous art and Azzarello's oftentimes filthy, distinctive dialogue, but the story... I'm at a loss. I don't care anymore about the Trust, the Minutemen, etc. etc. Maybe if I reread all the issues, it'd make more sense and I'd be back to caring, but I can't quite care enough to go back and do so. I think I'm done, leaving me with 10 volumes of a series I'll probably never reread as a result.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Blog Template Update for December

This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.

December was a busy month, as evidenced by the slowdown of my writing, both here and on Comic Pants. Holidays, a nasty cold and various headaches related to stuff I'm doing added up to give me little free time, or a stressful, not-conducive-to-writing mood when I had free time. On the other hand, Christmas was terrific, spent the holiday with Suzanne's family the week before and my family the week of, saw all the brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, sisters, nephews and nieces and had a grand old time. Also loaded up on holiday DVD presents, plus my wife got me the hardcover slipcased Far Side collection, which is a joy to behold and an absolute monster to try and carry. It currently sits open on one of the tables in my office, so that I can read cartoons on a whim. New RSS feeds added this month were blogs from Asaf & Tomer Hanuka, Josh Middleton and Paul Pope.

Comics-wise, I seemed to be in a pro-Marvel mode. Which is weird, given that I absolutely despise Civil War and won't even read 95% of the tie-ins for the series for free. But I guess there's enough book format stuff and fringe materials to hold my interest. But 6 of my top 20 comics were Marvel, as were 4 of my top graphic novels. Of course, only one of the graphic novels is in continuity, and most of the series are well-clear of Civil War, with two of them being outside the Marvel Universe in general (Criminal and Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four). DC's universe isn't any more intriguing to me, though, with only 4 DC books on the list, only one of which (Manhunter) is even remotely in modern continuity. Three of the usual suspects from Vertigo are on there (DMZ, both Fables books), and it probably would have been four but American Virgin missed December by a week. Ex Machina returns to my favorites list with its best issue in a long time, and the rest of the slots (6, for anyone who is counting) are taken up by Image (2), Archaia (2), Dark Horse (1) and Oni (1). It's weird, I feel like my taste is so out of the mainstream, since I don't read a lot of the top-selling books, but my favorites are still from the big companies or what I feel like are more well-known indies. Is the comics market in that bad of shape, that even books from the bigger companies can feel like fringe reads?

Looking at my lists, it looks like my favorite writer for December was either Brian K. Vaughan (3 comics, 1 collection), Bill Willingham (2 comics, 1 collection) or Darwyn Cooke (2 comics). Probably Cooke, if only from the residual goodwill of last month's Batman/Spirit and Absolute DC New Frontier. My favorite artist of the month was Christine Norrie, for the excellent work on Breaking Up, although Brian Hurtt (from Damned) and Tim Sale (from Superman Confidential) are damn close.

As for TV... um, prepare for rant. 2006 just might be the year that TV started losing its hold on me. I'm completely addicted to the medium, but the greedy, often stupid bastards in control of entertainment are rapidly driving me away from its current delivery system. If I didn't have a Tivo, I would probably have cancelled my cable and gone to all-DVD in December. And that decision may lurk just a couple years in the future if things stay as they are. So I'm down to a top three for December, because most of the shows I was watching got cancelled or finally lost my interest. Daybreak got axed, as did The Nine, and I lost enough interest in Doctor Who season two to finally drop the thing off my Tivo. Daily Show and Colbert Report are always entertaining, but rarely diverting enough to get me to watch them instead of something else that I had on DVD. Same with Professional Poker Tour... I read Phil Gordon's new book in December, and I still have as much interest in playing poker as I always did, but I think watching poker may have become an occasional joy for me, rather than a regular one. No Lost in December, same for Veronica Mars. A couple eps of Battlestar Galactica and one of Studio 60, though, plus a brilliant Christmas episode for The Office. Dry month for TV, though, and here's the thing... I barely noticed. I still have so many DVDs to watch, videogames to play, comics and books to read, not to mention the diversion that is the Internet, that if TV magically went away tomorrow, I don't know that I'd actually miss it. And I am a diehard fan of the medium. This should scare the shit out of TV executives, who still seem intent on driving off what audience there is with hair-trigger cancellations of serial shows, constant rejiggering of schedules and some of the lowest common denominator programming I've ever seen. There may come a day when prime-time TV is all reality shows and gameshows, and is only watched by people who enjoy that. As a fan of the medium, I would find that very sad.

I don't really do resolutions, partly because I never live up to them. But my general guidelines are to get angry less, worry less, spend more time with my wife and daughter, cut down on spending money and enjoy what I have. My more specific goals are to reinstate the Graphic Novel A Day, try to do a Novel A Month and hopefully do more writing on Comic Pants. Speaking of, my Novel A Month for January is The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman, which I'm currently listening to as an audiobook on my iPod. Choosing an audiobook is not cheating, since I'm just starting this thing and thus I'm laying down the rules right now, and the rules say audiobooks are acceptable as Novel A Month selections. Hopefully there will be about five Graphic Novel A Day selections coming in rapid order, some of them already added to my Top 10 in December because I read them in December but didn't write them up on the blog yet.