Saturday, September 26, 2009

Origins of Maggie: Kiss "Deuce" and Chic "Le Freak"

I came across two videos from the 1970s music show "Midnight Special" that featured songs from Jaime's "Wig Wam Bam 8" which chronicled the friendship of Letty and Maggie and their musical coming-of-age. Kiss "The Deuce" is from a 1975 show, and Chic "Le Freak" is from 1978. Next, Letty introduces Maggie to punk rock and things will never be the same. Thanks to "Speedz" and "LODGIcare2500" who posted these historical gems on YouTube.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: DITKOMANIA #73 and #74

Rob Imes (formerly editor of TUNE IN and creator of NOZ) revived Bill Hall's long dormant DITKOMANIA fanzine last year. This alone would be good news to all us Ditko-philes, but Rob has been putting on a veritable fanzine publishing workshop.

Not only does he put out issues regularly, the quality of printing has been consistently high (solid blacks, clear typesetting, and few, if any, typos).

What makes DITKOMANIA stand out is the depth and diversity of it's content, inspired by the unique career of Mr. Ditko naturally, but fostered by Rob's editorial vision, as well.

DITKOMANIA #73 is the Dr. Strange-themed issue. It starts out with a fun Fred Hembeck cover (see top of post). Riffing on his "Petey" stories starring a young Peter Parker, Fred de-ages Dr. Strange, Clea, and Baron Mordo for a cute scene.

Artist Winston (LITTLE MISS STRANGE) Blakely's "Dr. Strange: Master of Black Magic" succintly recaps Dr. Strange's origin, accompanied by a Blakely illustration of the series main characters.

"An Examination into the Beginnings of Dr. Strange" by historian Nick Caputo is in fact a long detailed examination of the development of Dr. Strange through his creation and entire Ditko run. It is supported by copious quotes from primary sources, and analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Lee/Ditko stories. Some very evocative illustrations by Larry (TALES OF FANTASY) Johnson, also.

Longtime comics reviewer/analyzer (he contributed to the first issue issue of DITKOMANIA in 1983 and the first magazine-sized issue [#37] of THE COMICS JOURNAL in 1977) Christoph Melchert compares themes such as "loneliness" "reality" "graphic inventiveness" and "intractable nature" in Steve Ditko's SPIDER-MAN and "Dr. Strange" series. This is a concisely written essay that brings up many similarities than I not only never noticed, but for which I wouldn't have even thought to look.

Michael Aushenker's regular column "Ditkotomy" has a review of DITKO ONCE MORE, one of Steve Ditko's new series of comic-book-formatted releases from Robin Snyder.

The issue is capped by an old-fashioned letters page (don't they call these "comment threads" in the 21st century. just kidding.) with letters and debate from Sam Kujava, Sam Gafford, Jason Sacks, Mike Tuz, Jim Kingman, Michael Aushenker, Batton Lash, Nick Caputo, and Nic Carcieri (chairman, United Fanzine Organization).

DITKOMANIA #74 has a "Ditko at DC" theme , it starts off with a rare Ditko "Shade the Changing Man" drawing from the cover of THE COMICS JOURNAL #33 (1977).

Editor Rob Imes leads off this issue with a review of the latest Ditko comic-sized effort from Robin Snyder, DITKO PRESENTS. Stories include: "The Madman" "The !?" "A Crime Story" and "Miss Eerie."

Ceylon Anderson contributes the timely "The Charlton Action Heroes and the Watchmen" which compares the various characters, and how Alan Moore might have reinterpreted the Charlton Action Heroes into his extreme vision of Watchmen. This is such a thorough examination right down to comparing scene to scene Watchmen and Chartlotn comics.

Brian Franczak gives us a three-page tour of all of Steve Ditko's work from 1966's STRANGE ADVENTURES #188 to TALES OF THE NEW GODS TPB in 2008. A lot of this stuff passed under my radar when I was a young comics reader, although I fondly remember his LEGION OF SUPERHEROES stint and that strident pin-up for SUPERMAN 400.

"The Story of Stalker" by Bryan Stroud is an in-depth reading of STALKER 1-4. Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko, and Wallace Wood's 1975 sword-and-sorcery series. This is a title I knew nothing about, so I learned quite a bit about this obscure (to me, at least) series.

"A Fleeting Shadow: Ditko on Batman" by Nick Caputo really suprised me as I had no idea Ditko had ever drawn the character. Or, for that matter, drawn him so well (almost completely black in the sample page printed with the article!).

Michael Aushenker's "Ditkotomy" column this issue examine's Ditko's place in mainstream comics: DC in particular and the peculiar heroes he created (or illustrated) there in general). I love the following line, "Ditko, in truth, was never truly conventional [...]." (New talent Javier Hernandez (EL MUERTO, MAN SWAMP, and podcast ), no relation to Los Bros Hernandez, turns in some nicely stylized illustrations for this article. Exceptional vision of the Creeper character.)

Greg Turner (central mailer of APA-LSH) turns in a rundown of Ditko's unjustly forgotten work (although to be fair, Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen's classic "Great Darkness Saga" began several issues after Ditko's last!) on LEGION OF SUPERHEROES 1980-81. Turner has an interesting way of naming each character Ditko draws on-model and off.

Nick Caputo tracks down obscure Ditko in two unpublished DC mystery stories, and one being published in THE UNEXPECTED #221, er, unexpectedly. DITKOMANIA is best at tracking down these unpublished stories or series.

The letters page for this issue features famous Ditko-fan Dave Sim, Larry Johnson, Mike Tuz, Jason Sacks, Bryan Stroud, and Christoph Melchert.

If you like Steve Ditko's comics now, or have in the past, I recommend you check out Rob Imes' DITKOMANIA. Website: . Ordering information: .

Robin Snyder has 16 Steve Ditko comics and books in print currently, from KONGA reprints (THE LONELY ONE, $11) to Ditko's forthcoming newest self-published comic A DITKO ACT TWO. My all-time favorites are THE MOCKER ($15) and the massive collection of old and new comics and essays AVENGING WORLD ($25). Looks like Mr. A may be collected in the future, as well.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love and Rockets Curiosities #5

Everyone's come across it at one time or another, searching on the internet for a certain phrase can lead one to something for which they really weren't looking. My Google Alert for "Love and Rockets" came back with a little item about an Australian "nightclub" called Love and Rockets. I put nightclub in quotes because, curiosity killing the cat (or blogger), when I did a search of "love and rockets" and "brisbane" together this is what I came back with (this link is probably NSFW, though I didn't go past the intro page):

The homepage for a Brisbane, Australia gentleman's club, if you will, named after our favorite comic book series, deliberately or by unfortunate coincidence, I don't know.

Reviews of the two locations with addresses and maps can be found here and here. A quote from one of the reviews reads, "with a design drawing from the Enterprise and a luxury 70s lounge..."

If you want to see what the place looks like here's a PG-13 rated slideshow (still NSFW).

There's not anything else I can add beyond pointing out it's existence...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Love and Rockets Links Galore

*Jaime Hernandez had a signing at Skylight Books in Los Angeles today, check out the store website.

*Jaime Hernandez, Lalo Alcaraz, Keith Knight, and Marv Wolfman appear on the panel discussion "Adult Writing Seminar Series: Comics" moderated by Salvador Plascencia (author of THE PEOPLE OF PAPER and visiting professor at UC Davis. The panel takes place 9/22 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm at 826LA East, 1714 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, CA 90026. ph#213-413-3388.

*Graphic Novel Club of Tacoma, Washington invites those interested in grapic novels to discuss Gilbert Hernandez's HEARTBREAK SOUP. Takes place 9/14 at TenTwentyTwo South Lounge, 1022 S. J St., ph#253-627-8588. call for time, must be 21 to attend. [via Michael Swan's "The Latest Word"]

*Alexander Chee (award-winning author of EDINBURGH) lists in the sidebar of his blog--"the complete body of work by Los Bros Hernandez (Love and Rockets)"--among his favorite books.

*Webcomics cartoonist Michael Cho lists Noel Sickles, Roy Crane, and Jaime Hernandez as artistic influences in this interview. Nice company to put Jaime in, and Mr. Cho is a fine cartoonist himself.

* is where you can find a review of CITIZEN REX #1 by Andrew Salmond

*One of my favorite writers on comics, Jeet Heer, reviews LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 at Robot 6. He also mentions CITIZEN REX at the end of his review.

*"Full Spectrum Comics" by SAN ANTONIO CURRENT columnist Patricia Portales has a review of Fredrick Luis Aldama's YOUR BRAIN ON LATINO COMICS: FROM GUSS ARRIOLA TO LOS BROS HERNANDEZ (University of Texas Press, 2009). The article is illustrated with the cover to LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 1 and mentions the Hernandez Brothers several times.

*An essay by David Turgeon from 2006, "Poison River and the Vertiginous Ellipsis" has been newly translated by Derik Badman at: , it analyzes Gilbert Hernandez's narrative techniques in his most dense graphic novel, POISON RIVER.

*Marc Mason reviews LOCAS II and LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 in the comics waiting room.

Jog reviews LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 and reveals how THE COMICS JOURNAL reached 300 issues by accepting paid advertisements from mysterious organizations! Bet you want to look.

*whereweather returns with a loooong review trying to make sense of all the twists and turns in LUBA: THE BOOK OF OPHELIA the middle part of Gilbert's post-Palomar saga.

*Matthew Weinberger lists "50 comics facts about the Class of 2013" including:

41. There's always been a comic called LOVE AND ROCKETS.
*Podcast preview of the weeks comics releases when CITIZEN REX 2 was released:

*More from the folks at ifanboy, this time with comments on CITIZEN REX 2.

*Chris Mautner mentions LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 in previews of titles arriving on 9/10.

*The Inkwell Bookstore blog enthusiastically announces the arrival of LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 right here.

*Alex Carr in his "Graphic Novel Friday" column offers yet another reaction to the "Guide to Geekery" feature on How to Read Love and Rockets:

*Douglas Wolk reads Gilbert Hernandez's LUBA hardcover while on vacation at Burning Man. Read what the reviewer does while not reviewing comics.

[some of the above via FlogBlog]

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Love and Rockets New Stories 2 In Stores

LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES 2 arrives in comic book stores today, although it has been available from the Fantagraphics website for several weeks for phone and internet orders (that's where I got my copy!). Only Jaime and Gilbert are in this year's installment of the third iteration of LOVE AND ROCKETS, but it's probably their best work to date.

Speaking of Fantagraphics website they are having a huge 99cent blowout sale of what they now term "pamphlet" comics, including tons of Hernandez Brothers titles (can you believe a reprint of the original series #1 for under a dollar?). Here's a list of all the Hernandez-oriented titles I could spot:
  • LOVE AND ROCKETS (First series) 1 2 6 15 30 34-43 45-49
  • LUBA 4-10
  • NEW LOVE 1-6
  • PENNY CENTURY 1 2 4-7
  • WHOA, NELLIE! 1-3

I'm assuming this sale will only last for a limited time, go here for more details.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Love and Rockets in the Public Library

Brigid Alverson's column "Good Comics For Kids" links to Chris Mautner's recent "Comics 101" analysis of LOVE AND ROCKETS. Although her column is geared towards school libraries, this got me to wondering if some public or school libraries were placing this series in the Young Adult section. I did some quick research at the public library in the larger neighboring city. It seems about half of their Young Adult section (discreetly placed near the main fiction section, and on the opposite side of the building as the children's section) are dozens and dozens of manga titles with a few American titles mixed in as well (AMERICAN BORN CHINESE, ATOMIC ROBO, ELECTRIC GIRL, RE-GIFTERS, THE PLAIN JANES, Dan Clowes' GHOST WORLD, DEOGRATIAS, LEAP YEARS, and THE LOST COLONY). LOVE AND ROCKETS and other Hernandez Brothers books could be found upstairs in the non-fiction section filed under 741.59. They had a nice selection of THE EDUCATION OF HOPEY GLASS, LUBA: LUBA IN AMERICA, LUBA: BOOK OF OPHELIA, CHANCE IN HELL, SLOTH, and a Spanish-language edition of PALOMAR. Other comic strip, graphic novel, and comics history titles are grouped under 741.5 and 741.5973. I believe those hardcover omnibus volumes Fantagraphics has published in recent years (LOCAS, LOCAS II, PALOMAR, and LUBA) are ideally suited to libraries, as they are durable and dense reading.

So, what's in your public library? Check out all the graphic novels you may have missed because your budget couldn't handle it...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gilbert's Inkstuds Mixtape: The Clash "Complete Control"

Gilbert and Jaime both contributed compilations of their favorite music to the Inkstuds website recently, I recommend you find the homepage and download their complete "mixtapes." We're taking a break from the "Origins of Maggie" series this week. It's my 40th birthday today, so I'm hijacking the blog and presenting my favorite band of all time (although not my favorite Clash song).