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.

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