Monthly Archives: May 2010
This was the first year I’d ever heard of a little something called the Joe Shuster Awards. Like many people, I sorta did a double take and went, “Holy crap! One half of the creators of Superman was a Canadian?” Not to insult the Canadians reading this site (of which there are plenty), but the whole “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” motto kinda threw me. It turns out that Shuster immigrated to the US when he was 10, which does kinda make him as American as I am. Still, Canada has every right to claim him as a native son, especially since it turns out his cousin was none other than Frank Shuster of the famous Canadian comedy team “Wayne and Shuster.”
The Joe Shuster Awards have been honoring an “Outstanding WebComic Creator/Creative Team” since 2007. Previous winners have included the team of Ryan Sohmer & Lar deSouza (for Looking for Group and Least I Could Do) and Cameron Stewart (for Sin Titulo). This year’s crop of candidates is pretty impressive. The webcomic nominees this year include Kate Beaton (for Hark! A Vagrant), Rene Engström (for Anders Loves Maria), Karl Kerschl (for The Abominable Charles Christopher), Gisèle Lagacé and David Lumsdon (for Eerie Cuties and Ménage à 3), and Steve Wolfhard (for Cat Rackham). As much as I lauded this year’s Eisner nominees, the crop of webcomic candidates at the Canadian awards may be a better reflection of the webcomic market.
(Both the Eisners and Shusters also share the same candidates, what with Karl Kerschl nominated on both ballots this year, and Cameron Stewart nominated on the Eisners and winning the Shuster last year. I guess what I’m trying to say is, “Hey, American webcomics creators! Step up your game already!”)
There were also a few names I wasn’t completely familiar with. One was Tara Tallan, the creator of the webcomic Galaxion. I knew little to nothing about it, other than it was set in space and all the characters dressed like extras for Star Trek: Enterprise. How could I resist? I’m a sucker for a good space opera. The Joe Shuster nomination only whet my appetite.
A few weeks ago, the Bad Idea Fairy beckoned to me. “El Santo,” they said, “see what present we have given you on Netflix. Look, it’s that Hudson Hawk movie starring Bruce Willis that everyone hates. But they’re wrong. They’re all wrong. It’s a misunderstood work of genius. Watch the movie… then give me your immortal soul so that you dance for me in Otherworld forever. Muhuhahahaha!”
There’s only so much time you can listen to the seductive voice of the Bad Idea Fairy before you cave in to temptation. Yes, yes, Hudson Hawk is such a notoriously terrible movie that it’s been savaged mercilessly at both the AV Club and Agony Booth. Yet, I know several bad movie cultists who love this odd duck of an action movie that doesn’t take itself seriously. They think it’s misunderstood, perhaps even ahead of its time. Among these people are Bruce Willis, who originally was right there with the critics in agreeing that Hudson Hawk was a mess, but has gone back to declaring the movie a work of hidden genius in the latest commentary track.
These people are wrong.
Hudson Hawk‘s central plot is about a master thief named Hudson Hawk who gets recruited by mobsters, corrupt CIA agents, and evil businessmen to do their bidding. The movie throws several absurd elements to show everyone that it’s all in good fun: Bruce and his partner time their robberies to radio hits from the 40’s, all the CIA agents are named after candy bars, a machine has to be assembled that turns lead into gold, fights are augmented with Looney Tunes sounds, and David Caruso plays a mute who, at one point, dresses up like a statue.
Sounds fun, right? I mean… who doesn’t want to see a young David Caruso caked in powdery white make-up? (And if you look closely in another scene in the movie, the future Horatio Cane does an version of his now world-famous sunglasses move.) One huge problem though: none of the movie makes any sense. Everyone spends so much time trying to convince you how wacky everything is that it gets kinda tiring. None of the motivations are clear, nor are any of the characters convincing, likable, or sympathetic. It’s like being stuck in a room where someone’s telling terrible jokes: you’re itching at the first opportunity to get out of there. And it didn’t have to be that way, either: Stephen Chow’s Kung-Fu Hustle is a gag-a-minute action flick, and I find that movie a million times more watchable than Hudson Hawk.
So what’s the point about talking about Hudson Hawk? Other than to obviously tell you to stay far, far away from this terrible movie? It turns out that today’s comic, Krazy Krow’s Marilith — which was recommended to me by a loyal reader (gee, thanks) —- is very, very similar in tone and content to Hudson Hawk. Both the movie and this webcomic even have an unattainable coffee-related goal that doesn’t get resolved until the final scene. It’s almost like … serendipity. Curse you, Bad Idea Fairy… clearly this is YOUR doing!
Marilith a webcomic that, God bless ‘em, tries to be wacky and fun and action-packed at the same time, but ends up … *puts on sunglasses* … shooting itself in the foot.
The 2010 Glyph Awards (“the best in comics made by, for, and about people of color”) were presented today at the East Coast Black Age of Comics Con, and Jay Potts went home with some fat booty. And by that, I mean a metric ton of awards.
Potts’ webcomic, World of Hurt, took home awards in Best Artist, Best Male Character, and Best Rising Star. The comic, which is an homage to 70’s blaxploitation movies, is riding on a sort of cultural revival of that movie genre … what with Black Dynamite emerging as a cult hit and that one afro’ed fellow showing up in Final Fantasy XIII. Luke Cage himself, the original comic book blaxploitation badass, ended up garner two awards this year for Luke Cage Noir.
The Glyph Awards have been very good to webcomics. Jeremy Love’s Bayou taking home an epic five awards last year.
(h/t Robot 6.)
Just got a tweet from the fine folks at Seattle Geekly: it turns out that this Monday, between 6:30 and 8:00 pm, Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett, and Kris Straub will be at the Comic Stop in Lynnwood. Pretty righteous: that happens to be the comic shop I go to the most often. Drop by for autograph signings by three of the four Halfpixel guys and to welcome both Scott and Kris into the Seattle area.
There was a lot of Twitter chatter the other day about a webcomic app for the iPhone that was put up at $1.99, then made free, and then taken down. I didn’t follow much of what happened, but Lauren Davis covers the incident over at Storming the Tower in detail, including where the app stood on legal grounds.
Again, I didn’t follow the whole thing — only running across a few tweets here and there — but from what I did see I have to agree with one of Ms. Davis’ conclusions: the webcomic community were acting like bullies. And whether Dale Zak, the developer of the app, was in the right or the wrong of things, one thing always remains true no matter what: it’s really tough to sympathize with bullies.
Now that I’ve done reviews for all the Eisner candidates, it’s time for the guessing game everyone loves to play: who’s going home with the Award? This year’s crop proves to be one of the strongest categories by far.
But let’s never forget that the Eisner voting body has a different thought process than you or I. After all, if you looked at the nominees in 2007, you might have predicted that the award would have gone to the immensely popular Girl Genius (reviewed here) or the delightful black humor of Minus (reviewed here). There’s probably even good cause to root for Bee or Phables. Who could have foreseen that a 12-page Sam & Max: The Big Sleep comic (reviewed here) written for Telltale Games would emerge the winner? Truly the ways of the Eisner voting body are strange and mysterious.
Thus, along with my pros and cons, I am including a Sugarshock-o-meter, named after Joss Whedon’s 2008 Eisner winning effort (which I reviewed here). It’s perhaps the most reliable gauge in determining the true winner. Who will joing an illustrious pantheon that includes Finder, Sugarshock!, Sam & Max, PvP, and Mom’s Cancer? Let’s find out.
The webcomic in brief: No video games and no computer makes boy get really, really horny.
Pros: With the unflinching scenes of self-centerness and loneliness, Nathan Schreiber’s comic feels the most awkwardly personal out of all the nominees.
Cons: There is a scene with a naked granny, which is one naked granny scene too many. Also, that main character … Justin? Kind of a chump.
Sugarshock-o-meter: 57/100. The very first Best Digital Comic winner was the sunnily titled Mom’s Cancer. Power Out has a chance if the Eisner voting body wants to return to its more introspective roots. However, Act-i-vate is always the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to these things.
Full review can be found here.
The webcomic in brief: Superpowered cowboys, assemble!
Pros: I mentioned the superpowered cowboys, right? Plus, I appreciate the nod given to the Chinese people who helped build the railroad. It’s got some wonderfully detailed Wild West illustrations, which would not look out of place hanging on the living room walls of some Wild West aficionados I know.
Cons: But who really likes cowboys anyway? I mean, I frikkin’ adore old Westerns, but I also understand that’s not necessarily a popular pursuit anymore. Attempts to jazz ‘em up have met with mixed success: for every Shanghai Noon, there’s a Wild, Wild West. Also, John Henry — the most famous African American Tall Tale character — is Chinese now? Shenanigans! Better keep your hands offa Annie Christmas, is all I’m sayin’.
Sugarshock-o-meter: 68/100. The comic is nice visually, and it packs plenty of action, but it doesn’t quite match the depth of the other four entries. While heavily action-oriented comics can win Eisners — Astonishing X-Men (2006), The Umbrella Academy (2008) — it just doesn’t happen very often.
Full review can be found here.
Thomas O’Shea’s Books, Beers, and Ballpoints quite likely has one of the longest URLs I’ve had to type out manually. And tough to remember, too. Is it Beers, Books, and Ballpoints or Ballpoints, Beers, and Books, or …? Yet, it’s worth typing it out, since this comic seeks to teach as well as humor. Where else can I learn that, in Australia, they say “noice” all the time? Or that it’s wrong to be racist against snakes?