28 November 2005

Comics Roundup 11/28 (CS)

Following it's Infinite Marketing Crisis, DC will be cutting a lot o' the fat, getting rid of a bunch of books (including Plastic Man, The Flash, Batgirl, and others).

Well, apparently the Teen Titans cartoon is going away too. If it were the decision of the show's creative team that they had run out of juice and they may as well quit while they're ahead, then that would be admirable. In this case, however, it is reportedly the Cartoon Network's decision to not pick up a sixth season of the series.

Mind you, this is a series the Cartoon Network has gone to particular lengths to support and market. Re-runs are frequently on, new episodes are regular and punctual, there are toy lines and the subject matter and art style has been kept manga/anime-esque to appeal to a younger audience. The popularity of the show itself and it's fun theme-song even seemed to help in the creation of a cartoon about Japanese Pop-group Puffy Ami-Yummi.

If the Cartoon Network is going to choose not to pick up a show they've treated so well, what hope is there for shows like Justice League Unlimited which CN has shafted with terribly inconsistent scheduling (a span of 3 MONTHS between ep's 4 and 5 of this latest season), hardly running re-runs (if ever), and usually terrible time slots (for example, at 8 pm on a Saturday night, JLU's target audience is usually getting drunk or at least not high enough to sit down and watch a cartoon..... um, not that I speak from experience or anything). If they had half a mind they'd show episodes of Justice League during Adult Swim hours (closer to JLU's target demographic's usual viewing schedule) instead of one of the ten thousand different anime shows they usually have on (where they experience a ratings drop anyway). I figure JLU's on the chopping block too after this season.

The saddest part is, of course, that Teen Titans was actually a great and engaging series. It seems like most the episodes were inspired by classic and usually overused types of plots executed in a way to make them feel fresh and exciting. They've built up not just one major villain (Slade) but in successive seasons have introduced new ones and built them up as well. The show even successfully incorporated The Doom Patrol, who rarely get smart creative talent to make them as interesting and fun as they should be (but it worked this time).

What's more, what does this mean for the young audience that Cartoon Network set out to grab with the particular marketing of this show? The 7 Year Old I babysit loves this show and it's a great avenue for me and him to connect on. I even bought him an issue of Teen Titans Go! (DC's related, kid friendly comic) which he loved enough to read twice in one night (I can usually hardly get him through 2 pages of whatever he might've had assigned that night from school).

And what will fill the gap left behind? Another homegrown Cartoon Network series? There've been few truly fun or engaging ones since powerpuff girls. My 7 Year Old Buddy would rather watch Toon Disney. Or perhaps they'll inundate the airwaves MORE Ed, Edd, and Eddy (slightly amusing at best and ALWAYS on)?

I've head talk that the Cartoon Network will eventually be running a Legion of Superheroes cartoon and if DC can provide the same caliber of creative talent that has worked on their previous cartoons (whether it be Titans, JL, or even Superman and the various Batman series) then perhaps there is hope yet. Also, they will be airing the Hellboy cartoon movie, so there is that to look forward to. We'll have to keep our fingers crossed, though, 'cuz Cartoon Network has already decided to ax a good one.

25 November 2005

Thank you, God.

Just for this article.

24 November 2005

It Is Right To Give Thanks and Praise (CS)

No doubt that today we will be hit by a deluge of "thankful" lists from various publications, bloggers, television shows, and whatnot. Against instinct, I've decided to join the fray.

Two categories from which I think it's useful to select things to be thankful for are "things we usually take for granted" and "things that totally took us by surprise" Mine would look something like this:

Things We Usually Take for Granted
-- Family, Friends, Good Fortune (if you're reading this, you probably have it. Whether you believe it or not)
-- Hockey. It's back.
-- Technology (including and especially robots). TIME magazine's recent "inventions of the year" issue had several pages on robots that totally blew me away.
-- Pumpkin Pie. King of Pies.
-- Monkeys. 'Nuff said, right?
-- "The Little Things." For me this would include the Sights/Smells of Autumn/Winter, History stuff (yes, I am a nerd), Cussing (yes, I am thankful for "fuck" and "shit"), Miko the dog (definitely a "little thing"), Guzz the cat (little thing going on big thing), animals in general, Ghostbusters on the TV, and The General Craziness that is New York (as well as the General Craziness that is New Jersey).

Things That Totally Took Us By Surprise
-- Pumpkin Ale from Brooklyn Brewery. Damn I love this season
-- Downfall of the Bush Administration (sorry, couldn't help myself)
-- A Bill and Ted boxed Set (you're next, Dr. Jones)
-- Captain America becoming my favorite monthly, once again (as of issues #11 and #12)
-- The Rangers having a competitive team!
-- And because I didn't make this list last year, Not Having An Appendix Anymore.

Oh, also thankful that I can occasionally get away with ending a sentence with a preposition. Know what i'm talkin about?
Bonus Points to anyone who recognizes where this post's title is from.

21 November 2005

A letter to Rush Limbaugh

This letter was sent via e-mail to Rush Limbaugh today at 8:00 PM:

Mr. Limbaugh:

Greetings from an American Democrat in New York. I listen to your show when I can and I enjoy it. I'm 22 years old and still in school. I opposed the Iraq war from the get-go, not because I'm some clueless peacenik, but because I felt we as Americans had bigger fish to fry.

Again, while I consider myself a liberal, it's more in the classical, Lockean sense. After the Sept. 11 attacks four years ago I posted an article on the door of my NYU dormitory room titled "To be anti-war is to be pro-fascist," which was ripped down before my door was vandalized. I'm pro-war when America is fighting the correct war.

I'm writing because I believe you are misrepresenting to your audience the recent statements by Congressman Jack Murtha regarding withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. Rep. Murtha's resolution endorsed the termination of the deployment of US troops "as soon as is practicable," meanwhile, the resolution put forth on the House floor by Republicans last Friday called for "immediate" withdrawal, which would be a blunder, to be sure. You also praise Congresswoman Schmidt for calling Murtha and his supporters "cowards," but neglect to mention that Rep. Schmidt requested her statement be stricken from the
record, which request was granted.

Partisan wrangling aside, as far as I'm concerned, we have won the war in Iraq, and forgetting what I and many other Americans feel was a duplicitious and misleading enticement by the President to take on Saddam Hussein's regime, we can take pride as a country in the fact that a murderous tyrant was removed and captured, and the Iraqi people ratified a constitution and elected a government with our help.

When our country was fighting for its independence from foreign oppression, no third party held our hand until we were ready to stand on our own. As a nascent republic, surely we faced some of the same threats the Iraqis face today; a violent insurgency, a lack of bureaucratic and military organization, meddling in our affairs from other countries. We faced those problems head-on; we did not throw up our hands and declare that this democracy thing wasn't worth fighting for.

I wonder now, what conditions would have to take hold in Iraq before the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans decided America could safely withdraw our troops. We were, after all, promised a quick, inexpensive war with a short-term occupation. Must a spontaneous peace break out in this country before we let its citizens handle their own affairs? And in the meantime, we face grave threats from Iran and Syria among others, but so long as our military is committed to Iraq, we will be unable to respond to these aggressors should these threats escalate.

I stand behind Rep. Murtha's assertion that our mission in Iraq has been accomplished; we must now bring our troops home and get them some rest. For the war on Islamic terror is not over with, and so long as we occupy this country, we are fighting it with a handicap.

Warm regards,
Brendan Rogak
Brooklyn, NY

13 November 2005

Comics Roundup (told you it'd be back.... CS)

Many of us are told from a very young age that you can't judge a book by its cover. But for most publishers, and especially in the realm of comic books, a lot of thought and effort is put into covers. When you're browsing the racks, looking for your usual weekly allotment of books, occasionally a great cover hooks you in, at least long enough to take a look at what's going inside and sometimes enough to include the issue with your ever growing price tag. Happened to me recently with Incredible Hulk #88.

The cover in itself isn't mind-blowing and doesn't compare to some of the covers done by Lee Weeks during the Tempest Fugit storyline, but there's something about the simplicity of the Hulk stalking through the woods that appealed to me (especially after putting up with the House of M interlude, bleh). It's when I paged through the issue that I saw not only the great art of Keu Cha (who'd I'd never heard of up until now), but where I also saw.....
Bearded Hulk!! Fishing!!!

And as if that weren't enough to hook me (pun intended, though Hulk need no fishing instruments).... Bearded Hulk make friends with Bears!!
Have you ever seen a more awesome Hulk? Or a happier bear? Together!??! Now i challenge you to tell me that you don't need this issue too.

Speaking of great covers, Eric Powell's recent lending of his talents to the cover of the most recent Swamp Thing sure had pretty results.
And speaking of Mr. Powell, he hit my sentiments spot on in an IGN.com piece interviewing writers and artists on who their favorite villain is (check it out):
"Hands down Doctor Doom is the greatest comic book villain ever. It's great that those movie guys are so much smarter than the guys that invented him and gave him character... HOW THE HELL DO YOU MESS UP DOCTOR DOOM??!!! C'mon. I refused to see that movie just because of what I was hearing about the way they handled Doom. And from what I hear, I was right to do so."

Right on, Eric. Did I not voice the exact same sentiment once upon a lifetime (last summer)? Also, you'll notice in the IGN piece that there's a whole lot of love thrown Viktor Von's way. Hell yeah.

And finally, The New York Observer ran a piece reviewing Charles Burns's Black Hole. It's your average template for reviewing a "graphic novel" where the reviewer compliments the work, but bashes comics on the whole, citing brief moments of artistic integrity among what is seen as a silly and "colorful juvenilia." I see more and more reviews like this as the comic fan base, its market, and the reach of indie books like Black Hole spreads. It's somewhat infuriating, actually. It'd be nice to see a review by someone who has read beyond R. Crumb and Will Eisner rather than your average, pretentious lit critic asshole. As great as Eisner and Crumb might be, that's certainly not all there is. And any reader of the great writers like Moore, Morrison, Gaiman, Brubaker or even Geoff Johns, Brian K. Vaughan and many more will be able to tell you that there's comparable complexity infused into books like Swamp Thing, Captain America, or Batman than a lot of the crap that gets published these days and passed off as literature. I'm not going to say that comics can't be a bit silly at times or a bit simple or crazy... Of course they are, they're here to entertain, let us have fun. But it's frustrating to constantly hear the medium called stupid and childlike and seeing the possibility of the rise of graphic novels being equated to the dumbing down of America, when the majority of comic book readers I know are also some of the smartest and most discerning ones. Being an avid reader of comics and knowing this makes me feel that it's the reviewer here who is being mindless and juvenile rather than his ideal of the spandex clad, violence driven superhero book.

That being said, I'm off to read my new issue of Drax the Destroyer.

Not Hiding, Just Tired (CS)

So, what is up with the lack of substance on Whippersnapp these days? Believe it or not, i actually got this question a couple times (readers? who knew?). Well i can't speak for my co-hort, but i'll tell ya what, folks.... I'm just tired.

I mean, what else is there to say? How much can you hop up and down and scream and shout until you're even getting on your OWN nerves? Some people have no problem being angry their whole lives. And don't get me wrong, it's not as if i'm ready to ignore injustice and completely calm down and tune out. It's just the act of expressing my indignation that seems to have run its course and become relatively pointless.

And it's not as if anyone with half a mind needs all that much help recognizing the problems out there. There's no need anymore to point out that the administration (and much of congress) is composed of lying crooks when everyone knows it already. Humor poking fun of/at Bush has run dry because, as Brendan put it, he makes the joke for you, taking all the fun out of it.

If you want to know what's gone wrong, just read the headlines (just remember to diversify your news sources, including The Daily Show and even The Onion). If you want to laugh at the President, just be patient, he's bound to make a semi-illiterate speech or comment sometime in the next week or so.

I'm sure, even having said this, I'll find moments to slap at the keyboard, whether angrily or in jest. And the comics roundup will return and be around as long as i'm not working the occasional 60 Hour week. Just have some faith, young lads and lasses. And lighten up (i'm tryin).