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. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.
I thought July was a good month for comics, but August might have actually been better. A couple books snuck in from the last week of July (like Immortal Iron Fist #7, which was amazing, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5, the best issue of that series so far), but mostly, it was great books crowding out other great books. There's a pretty good spread of most publishers, with 2 indies (Mouse Guard & Toupydoops), 2 Image (Dynamo 5 and Invincible) and 3 Dark Horse (BPRD, Hellboy & Buffy). DC bumps up to 5 if you count all their imprints (a lone book from the DCU, a lone book from Wildstorm and three from Vertigo) and Marvel once again really has its hooks in me, with 8 books, almost half of my top 20 for the month. Of those 8, two feature Ed Brubaker, two feature Matt Fraction and two feature Jeff Parker. Fair to say those three guys are in my top 10 writers of the moment. Probably the top five. As for the stuff that almost made the cut? There's well over a dozen, many of which easily would have made a Top 20 in a lighter month. McDuffie and Pelletier on Fantastic Four #548-549. Kirkman and Adlard on Walking Dead #40-41. Fear Agent Last Goodbye #2 was also great post-apocalypse action and survival tales. Brubaker's got Daredevil #99 and Captain America #29. New Warriors #3 offered up great twists and turns. Local #10 featured the Austin area and one of the few bars I've been to in town, Beerland. Usagi Yojimbo #104-105 were great as always. Spirit #9 started what is probably the over-arcing tale closing out the Cooke/Bone run. Green Arrow Year One #3-4 continued a strong bi-weekly story. Annihilation Conquest Quasar #2 and Wraith #2 were pretty solid reads. And then there were the debuts, like Brit #1, Flash #231 and Terror Inc. #1, all fun stuff.
There are only a couple graphic novels that didn't make the cut this month, Shannon Wheeler's Screw Heaven, When I Die I'm Going to Mars from Dark Horse and Rose & Isabel Parts One and Two by Ted Mathot, which I finally got around to finishing. Both were very good, but didn't quite bump out any of the other good stuff I read this month. My desire to actually read books again has cut into my comics-reading (and TV-watching, and videogame-playing) time, and this month I read The Golden Compass (very good) and Kitchen Confidential (very funny and interesting, and man could I not be a chef). Next month I'll probably read the next two books in His Dark Materials trilogy, the new Greg Rucka novel Patriot Acts, and maybe start on the Alton Brown book I'm Just Here For The Food that I bought my wife for her birthday a couple years back.
In August, I started to watch Mad Men, based on a number of critics I like who loved it, but I just couldn't get into it. I really enjoyed the first episode, and the look and feel of the period is great, but I stopped and started the second episode about six times and just couldn't stay engaged. I gave up on a lot of shows this month, actually. I realized, with three episodes on the Tivo and no particular interest in watching them, that it was probably time to go ahead and give up on Rescue Me. I finished John From Cincinnati, although just barely, and I think my final estimation is that it's a mediocre show with genius in it. I invested a fair amount of time and got zero payoff. If JFC were actually the reason HBO canceled Deadwood (and it isn't), I'd have been pretty pissed. I have watched the first episode of Damages, which I'd qualify as "OK," but never got around to watching the remaining episodes on my Tivo, which means I probably never will. And Entourage is just barely hanging on, I'm watching purely on momentum now, same with Big Love (although that show is demonstrably superior, I just don't have as much intrinsic interest in the premise)... HBO better come up with something impressive in their next crop of shows, or, despite my love for HBO On Demand, I might go back to DVD spot watching those few shows they have that interest me, like Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Especially since Showtime has Weeds, which kicked off a great third season. True, Californication was weak, but I hear good things about Dexter, and two great shows could overshadow HBO at the moment. Especially since I haven't seen much The Wire, and thus I've got tons of seasons of that on DVD when I finally get time to sit down and give it the attention it deserves. I was also pleased to see Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt return for a second season. Burn Notice continued to grow on me, and is probably my favorite show of the moment. So of course, it's going on hiatus until tennis season (or whatever) is over, several weeks from now. I'm a little less enthused about The 4400 on USA, although as of right now I'm still watching it. And of course, I sprinkle viewings of Daily Show, Colbert Report and Countdown throughout.
I added a ton of new links to the RSS feeds this month, helped a great deal by post-San Diego linkblogging and business cards gained during the show. Added feeds for a half-dozen artists, new comic blogs from Marc-Oliver Frisch, Laura Hudson, Bahlactus, Jason Michelitch, Valerie D'Orazio and my first ever video podcast from Blair Butler. Added another TV critic from the Chicago Tribune via links from the TV critics I already read, and added feeds for CNN Politics (2008 election stuff is starting to piss me off, which means it must be time to become more avid in following it) and realized that I had somehow lost the feed for Whitney Matheson's excellent pop culture blog Pop Candy when I migrated over to Google Reader in the first place. Even better, she's got a podcast, too! Oh, and I figured out how to share my feeds from Google reader, so each category now has a link to the shared feed.