Saturday, December 26, 2009

2 interesting books to recommend

1. Key Moments from the History of Comics by Francois Ayroles (Beguiling Books)
2. Otacool: Worldwide Otaku Rooms (Kotobukiya)

Both for otakus. You need to know serious comics history to get Key Moments, which is lots of fun if you do.

Danny Choo (whom i was told was the son of Jimmy Choo?) promoted Otacool at AFA09. It's a fascinating peek into the lives and mindset of otakus worldwide.

"We're sort of Paycheck-to-paycheck. I'm sorry I don't have much eyecandy here. T_T"

"I enjoy my otaku lifestyle very much and at the same time, I want to work hard and be a contributing member of the society, I worked very hard to develop my career and I want to help prove that otaku can be a very productive member of the society."

If nothing else, there is a nice pix of Alodia Gosiengfiao...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Singapore Hip Hop Horror Comics

Ye Zhen is the guy to watch out for in 2010. He was selling his comics at the Singapore Toys Games Comics Convention and now 4 volumes are out at Kino and other comics shops for those who missed out on buying the original ring-bind editions. (those must be collectors' items by now, you losers)

So don't lose anymore. Go get.

http://artst.com/profile/yezhen

p/s: whatever you want to say about STGCC, it has spurred local artists to put out their own books after years of wilderness. Troy Chin/Adrian Teo put out TRT 1 and 2 after STCC last year and Ken Foo followed up with Freedom Love Forever this year. Now this. Things are happening.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ah Beng Movie of the Year

Storm Warriors II.

The same goes for Part I, which I reviewed for etc magazine all those years ago.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kino Top 10 for Nov 09

1. OISHINBO: THE JOY OF RICE: A LA CARTE
by TETSU KARIYA, AKIRA HANASAKI

2. FULL METAL ALCHEMIST VOLUME 22
by HIROMU ARAKAWA

3. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 10
by MATSURI HINO

4. MAGISTER NEGI MAGI VOLUME 24
by KEN AKAMATSU

5. GREEN LANTERN AGENT ORANGE
by GEOFF JOHNS

6. OISHINBO: JAPANESE CUISINE: A LA CARTE
by TETSU KARIYA, AKIRA HANASAKI

7. FABLES VOLUME 12: THE DARK AGES
by BILL WILLINGHAM

8. OTOMEN VOLUME 6
by AYA KANNO

9. NARUTO VOLUME 46
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

10. BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER
by NEIL GAIMEN, ANDY KUBERT

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Irredeemable

So i finally read the Mark Waid comic where he destroys Singapore.

But don't you think Plutonian looks a tad bit like Miracleman?

There's a spin-off, Incorruptible.

I got Waid to autograph my copy of the Legendary trade at SWF which he was embarrassed? to do and no one seemed to know about the book.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Comics

I can't believe this.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/index.php/showbiz/43278-men-in-white-in-a-lighter-graphic-format

Get this Little Busters doujin instead.

http://www.collateralds.com/2009/05/04/project-announcement-little-busters/

Sunday, November 22, 2009

David Levine's American Presidents

Definitely one of the best buys of this year although it came out last year.

But my favourite is not in there. It's here:

http://www.nybooks.com/gallery/866

The Strange Deaths of Batman (2009)

Many years ago, I read one installment of 'Where Were You On The Night Batman Was Killed?' (serialized in Batman #291-294, 1977) The cover was all the arch-villains standing over the grave of Batman. There was a sense of finality looking at the cover. Of course, Batman did not die.

Now I can read the conclusion to this story.

Pictures That [tick]

Talking about Dave McKean, Dark Horse has just reissued the above in softcover. A limited hardcover edition was published by Allen Spiegel Fine Arts and Hourglass in 2001, which I might have somewhere in the archives.

Go get.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bob Dylan in Comics

Just got this from Kino.

http://flavorwire.com/50269/bob-dylan-revisited

The 'songs' by Dave McKean and Lorenzo Mattotti are great.

In the meantime, get the new Dylan X'mas album. Don't be a scrooge...

p/s: 2 others to get - Forever Young, a children's book adaptation of the Dylan anthem by Paul Rogers and also Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness by Reinhard Kleist.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

Picked it up at Prologue. Def inspired Loti.

Sembawang RIP

Reported a few weeks back that Sembawang Music Centre has closed shop. I remember travelling all the way to Sembawang Shopping Centre in the late 1980s to check out the shop. That was the original before they (over) expanded all over the island. Sembawang had picked up the reputation of selling CDs at a good price because they parallel imported their stuff, even cheaper than the local labels which were charging $30 per CD. Sembawang was instrumental in bringing CD prices down in Singapore. They pre-dated Gramaphone.

The CD I bought - Screaming Trees Anthology: SST Years 1985-1989.

Those were the days when CDs came in long boxes.

Globalisation (Tower Records) has done in Sing Records, Song Ching, Disc Dynamics (Thomson Plaza), and other mom-and-pop shops. Sembawang, Gramaphone innovated and expanded to seize the market share. The survival of the fittest. But globalisation itself was done in. Tower closed down and HMV downsized.

When Sembawang SC revamped last year, Sembawang didn't even make a comeback to their place of origins. It was a sign.

Last men standing: Gramaphone (which has grown and shrunk and now stabilized), That CD Shop. There's still CD Rama, but is Music Junction still around? There is still a shell of Valentine Music Centre somewhere in Selegie Centre. And the Attic at Novena.

Three cheers for Roxy then. And Memphasis Music in the same building at Excelsior SC. (formerly Thomson Plaza and a branch at Ikea Alexandra) Da Da at Funan started selling VCDs and DVDs and sold the business some years ago.

We have not seen the last of the fallout.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Revelator

There's just so much to learn. One of my fave LPs of all time is Gillian Welch's The Revelator.

Surfing and found a reference to Blind Willie Johnson's John The Revelator. Gillian took her Revelator from there.

To really write about western music, you need to know the Bible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPmacnYVb6A&feature=related

To know the blues, you need to know the Bible.

Life long learning.

p/s: go get Nick Cave's new album with Warren Ellis - White Lunar.

Detective Comics

The best mainstream comic book right now. This has possibly the most innovative page layouts I've seen in a superhero comic for a long time. It's amazing how far JH Williams III has come since Promethea. Go to Google Images and check it out.

Start with Detective #854.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New book out - Freedom Love Forever

Check it out.

http://kenfoo.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/freedom-love-forever/

www.waylandsmithprojects.com

There is some sick shit here:

http://www.kenfoo.com/cuts/Measure/measure.htm

and the childhood years:

http://www.kenfoo.com/

Mr A

Recent events have reminded me of Good Omens and its protagonist. Mr A have been appearing in the comic books. He's the hero in Garth Ennis' Wormwood and looks like he will save the day as well in Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire. The angels are the bad guys in this story arc.

A far cry from the 70s when Tony Isabella's (creator of DC's Black Lightning) fought with Jim Shooter over a Ghost Rider storyline he wrote in the late 70s.

http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/back20050927.shtml

More details here:

http://www.popthought.com/display_column.asp?DAID=65

This event was mentioned too in Brian Cronin's Was Superman A Spy?

Since we're on the topic of biblical tales, do get Robert Crumb's The Book of Genesis Illustrated, which makes a great companion piece to Basil Wolverton's Agony and Ecstasy and The Wolverton Bible.

Happy Sunday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino - Oct 09

1. NARUTO VOLUME 46
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

2. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 10
by MATSURI HINO

3. JACK OF FABLES VOLUME 6
by BILL WILLINGHAM

4. UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOLUME 2
by GERARD WAY, GABRIEL BA

5. FABLES VOLUME 12: THE DARK AGES
by BILL WILLINGHAM

6. ULTIMATUM PREMIERE
by JEPH LOEB, DAVID FINCH

7. SKIP BEAT! VOLUME 19
by YOSHIKI NAKAMURA

8. NARUTO VOLUME 45
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

9. FULL METAL ALCHEMIST VOLUME 21
by HIROMU ARAKAWA

10. FINAL CRISIS
by GRANT MORRISON

Monday, November 2, 2009

Got a beer for Gaiman

...during his 3 hour long signing at the Arts House on Saturday, but found out he's not a beer guy. (actually it was the pink barracuda who bought that round of Archipelago)

Which reminds me of my beer story when I first met Eddie Campbell in Singapore some years ago. He was in transit and I brought him to the Zion Road market for beer and makan. The drink seller came by with a bottle of Tiger (Eddie wanted to try that) and two glasses filled with ice. That threw Eddie into a fit.

"They're diluting the beer! That's against the law!"

I explained to Eddie that's how we drink beer in Singapore. Our beer gets warm very fast, especially if we're drinking outdoors. Eddie said that you get arrested for diluting beer in the UK. We both learned something new that night.

So what does this got to do with Gaiman? Sometime later, Eddie alerted me about "Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame", an old Gaiman script for DC Comics that finally got drawn and published in 2000. Eddie drew the framing sequence for the story involving a very drunken Blackhawk.

Amanda Palmer drank the beer instead. Yam seng.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Had latte with lat

JF's new wiki

From JF Koh, do support.

Singapore Comics Wiki
-----------------------------------

I have just launched this new website, and I invite you all to participate!

Singapore Comics Wiki
http://comics.storykitchen.com/

It's the Wikipedia of Singapore comics. All are welcome to contribute/edit topics and add to the collective knowledge. Let the world know about comics in Singapore!

If you're a creator, please don't be shy about starting a topic on yourself and your publications. No one knows you or your works better than you. If you're really too shy or modest, email me your text and I'll post it up.

If you're a reader and know about a comics artist or writer or book that needs to be documented, please come in and create that topic.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

From the desk of...

Went to the new Popular theme shop at ION on Thursday. Prologue's specialty was supposed to be its graphic novel section.

Fail la.

But I did find From The Desk of Warren Ellis there and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Now got to look for the second volume.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kino Top 10 for Sept 09

1. FABLES VOLUME 12: THE DARK AGES
by BILL WILLINGHAM

2. WARCRAFT: LEGENDS VOLUME 5
by CHRISTIE GOLDEN

3. OISHINBO: VEGETABLES: A LA CARTE
by TETSU KARIYA, AKIRA HANASAKI

4. NARUTO VOLUME 45
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

5. FINAL CRISIS
by GRANT MORRISON

6. TSUBASA VOLUME 23
by CLAMP

7. WORLD OF WARCRAFT VOLUME 2
by WALTER SIMONSON

8. DMZ: WAR POWERS VOLUME 7
by BRIAN WOOD

9. NARUTO VOLUME 44
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

10. BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER
by NEIL GAIMAN, ANDY KUBERT

Monday, September 28, 2009

Singapore Writers Festival

This is old news for some of you, but Singapore Writers Festival is starting on 24 October 2009 and I see a few interesting names from the comics industry who will be there. Sonny Liew, Troy Chin, Lat, Rhaimie Wahap and Rizal Wahap, Neil Gaiman and Mark Waid will be giving various talks at The Arts House.

http://www.singaporewritersfestival.com/

-----

24 Oct 2009, 12:30 pm
Meet the Author: LAT

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

Moderator: Lim Cheng Tju

Mohd Nor Bin Khalid is familiar to his fans as Lat, the popular Malaysian cartoonist whose earthy humour has brought on smiles and touched many hearts. He will share his inspirations and experiences as a published cartoonist with more than 20 books to his name, as well as his work as the editorial cartoonist for Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper.

Supported by G&B Comics

Event end: 1.30pm

-----

24 Oct 2009, 1:30 pm
Meet the Author: Mark Waid

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

Moderator: Terence Chua

Fans of comics and graphic novels will be excited to meet Mark Waid, a comic book writer and editor who has produced best-selling titles like Kingdom Come and Superman: Birthright. He will speak about his current post as editor-in-chief of independent comic book company BOOM! Studios, and share what he is working on at the moment.

Supported by G&B Comics and the Embassy of the United States of America

Event end: 2.30pm

-----

24 Oct 2009, 3:00 pm, Arts House
Comics - A Timeless Narrative

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

Featuring: Lat, Mark Waid, Sonny Liew
Moderator: Terence Chua

From young to old, everybody loves a good comic! Join American comic writer Mark Waid (whose notable works include The Flash, Captain America and Superman), Malaysian-born Singapore-based comic artist Sonny Liew and beloved Malaysian comic artist Lat in a panel that reflects on the challenges of drafting a good narrative and on writing comics from an American or Asian angle.

Event end: 4pm

-----

25 Oct 2009, 12:30 pm
Mystery Investigators-Five and the Case of the Missing Golden Bird Mask by Rhaimie Wahap and Rizal Wahap

Price: Free
Venue : Earshot

When a priceless artefact goes missing from a museum, five best friends discover that their new classmate from Hawaii turns out to be the unusual suspect. Children between the ages of nine and 13, or adults with the love for sequential art, are welcome to join author Rhaimie Wahap and illustrator Rizal Wahap as they chat about their debut graphic novel introducing the Mystery Investigators-Five.

Event end: 1.30pm

-----

31 Oct 2009, 4:30 pm
Who Killed Amanda Palmer

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

Tickets required for entry.
Available at The Arts House Box Office from 26 Sept (Sat), 11am, on a first-come-first-serve basis. Limited to ONE pair per person. Limited seats available.

Featuring: Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman
Moderator: Terence Chua

Amanda Palmer is a performer most noted for being the lead singer, pianist and lyricist/composer of American music duo, The Dresden Dolls, whose musical style she described as “Brechtian punk cabaret”. English author Neil Gaiman accompanies her in a reading of several extracts from their new photo book, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, a macabre collection of Amanda in death poses with texts written by Neil.

Event end: 5.30pm

-----

01 Nov 2009, 12:00 pm
Our Local Super Heroes

Price: Free
Venue : Earshot

Featuring: Sonny Liew, Troy Chin
Moderator: Gwee Li Sui

Calling all comics devotees and fans of Eisner-nominated comic artist and illustrator, Sonny Liew. You’re in for a treat, as we take a look at creative works that Sonny and emerging Singaporean comic artist Troy Chin have accomplished over the years. Both living and working in Singapore, Sonny and Troy will share their experiences in conceptualising their comics and getting them into print.

Event end: 1pm

-----

01 Nov 2009, 2:00 pm
Meet the Author: Neil Gaiman on Graphic Novels and Fantasy

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

Tickets required for entry.
Available at The Arts House Box Office from 26 Sept (Sat), 11am, on a first-come-first-serve basis. Limited to ONE pair per person. Limited seats available.

Moderator: Lim Cheng Tju

English author Neil Gaiman has achieved worldwide fame for coming up with The Sandman comic series and graphic novels like Violent Cases (1987) and Signal to Noise (1992). In his novel, American Gods (2001), he blends Americana, fantasy and modern mythology for a captivating read. At this session, he will share some of his experiences and inspirations behind his many graphic novels and writings in the fantasy genre.

Event end: 3pm

This will be followed by autograph signing outdoors.

-----

31 Oct 2009, 3:00 pm
Neil Gaiman

Price: Free
Venue : Chamber

Tickets required for entry.
Available at The Arts House Box Office from 26 Sept (Sat), 11am, on a first-come-first-serve basis. Limited to ONE pair per person. Limited seats available.

Moderator: Lim Cheng Tju

You may know Neil Gaiman for his novels and graphic novels in the science fiction and fantasy genres, but he is also an expert in the field of children’s literature, having written The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish (1997), Coraline (2002) and The Graveyard Book (2008) for the younger set. Find out if he writes in a different mindset when positioning his stories for children and teens.

Event end: 4pm

Supported by G&B Comics

Family

Some of the best books I read this year, old and new, are about family relationships.

- Stitches by David Small (Norton)
- The Complete Jack Survives by Jerry Moriarty (Buenaventura Press)
- George Sprott by Seth (D&Q)
- Collected Essex County by Jeff Lemire (Top Shelf)
-- Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)
- Garage Band by Gipi (First Second, this is old)
- Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Mariner, this is old)

Here's something about Stitches: (six figure deal!)

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/blog/1790000379/post/1070015707.html

Is this the start of a new trend? But family, they are the ones that can build and destroy us. I should put The Resident Tourist Volume 3 by Troy Chin in this category as well.

Others I like this year:

- Queen & Country Definitive Edition Vol 4 by Greg Rucka (Oni Press)
- Mini Marvels Secret Invasion by Chris Giarrusso (Marvel)
- BPRD (Dark Horse, a real lifesaver in relieving work stress)
- Air (Vertigo)
- West Coast Blues by Jacques Tardi and Jean-Patrick Manchette (FB)
- Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Bookheroes 1936-1941 ed. Greg Sadowshi (FB)

The Israeli comic artists are really good too. People like Rutu Modan and a relatively newcomer, In The Flesh by Koren Shadmi (Vilard Books)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mack Bolan the Executioner

I used to read this series and its spin-offs, Able Team and Phoenix Force, in the early 1980s.

Now I know it inspired The Punisher and The Vigilante.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Executioner_(book_series)

Wonder any connection between Mack and Marc Bolan.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Was Superman A Spy?

The most fun comics related book i've read in a while. Brian Cronin runs through the comic book legends we've come to love and wonder...was Wolverine meant to be an actual wolverine? Which comic book character inspired Elvis Presley's iconic hairdo? Did the inventor of the lie detector test also invent Wonder Woman's lasso of truth? Did Stan Lee feature a gay character in one of Marvel's 1960s war comics? Did the Ghost Rider meet Jesus in the late 1970s? And was Bruce Banner sodomized at the Y in The Hulk #23? (written by Jim Shooter no less)

Up there with Bryan Talbot's The Naked Artist: Comic Book Legends.

Can be found at Kino.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Ultimate Team-Up: Spidey vs. Mickey Mouse

Everyone should know by now that Disney has bought Marvel. Their shares are rising so if you have stocks with both companies, good for you.

Do the rest of us care?

[remember, Disney bought Pixar as well back in 2006.]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Singapore Writers' Fest/Lucky Plazas

They are bringing in Mark Waid and Lat this year. And a certain Mr G as well...

Btw, Sonny is having his second exhibition with Hong Teng at Tanglin SC (Mulan). It's called Lucky Plazas. Should be at LP then.

http://sonnyliew.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/lucky-plazas/

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino August 2009

1. FABLES VOLUME 12: THE DARK AGES
by BILL WILLINGHAM

2. BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER
by NEIL GAIMEN, ANDY KUBERT

3. OISHINBO: FISH, SUSHI AND SASHIMI
by TETSU KARIYA, AKIRA HANASAKI

4. NARUTO VOLUME 45
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

5. OURAN HIGH HOST CLUB VOLUME 14
by BISCO HATORI

6. MAGISTER NEGI MAGI VOLUME 22
by KEN AKAMATSU

7. FINAL CRISIS
by GRANT MORRISON

8. THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA VOLUME 4
by NAGARU TANIGAWA

9. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

10. OTOMEN VOLUME 5
by AYA KANNO

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Merz Virs

One of my fave local metal bands, Meza Virs is playing this Sat at baybeats.

http://www.esplanade.com/whats_on/programme_info/meza_virs/index.jsp

The last time I saw them was with Shark at a Goth party all the way at Mandai. Talk about ulu.

We had just come from the Ngak gig at esplanade which was a disappointment. But Merz Virs made up for it.

MJ died that week and the male singer wore a single white glove in tribute to the King of Pop. And they covered Rammstein's Du Hast. (listed by a recent metal issue of Classic Rock magazine as one of the songs that forged metal, 1990 - 1999)

It was one hell of a night.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Printed in Malaysia!

Was reading You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, the second volume of stories by Fletcher Hanks and came across the above. It was in the early 1990s when I was buying The Complete Crumb Comics from Comic Art Gallery "under the counter" that I noticed the "Printed in Singapore". That made me feel more proud of being a Singaporean than anything else back then. The Complete Crumb Comics printed in Singapore! (by Palace Press) But then again, so were Playboy books I was told. How sad we couldn't buy these above the counter. I wanted to make friends with Palace Press so that I can get free books from them. Damaged or dented also never mind. Misprints still can read. Especially the centrefolds.

Years later, it was TWP, Tien Wah Press that were on the lips of Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly when I met them in NYC in 2006. Their books were printed in Singapore and TWP is the choice printer.

[The Resident Tourist Vol 3 is also printed by TWP recently.]

So now it seems Fantagraphics Books have gone across the Causeway. Another sign of us losing our competitive edge? Another Tanjong Pelapas?

Where do you buy your comic books?

Met some old friends at the con and shooting the breeze. Asked them where they buy their comics these days. The answer: Kinokuniya.

I know Kino has a policy of bringing in the trades and graphic novels but leaving the single issues to the comics shops. A balance, a trade-off as we need the comics shops alive to keep the fandom/community going. Or just a place to hang out if you are old school like me.

Looks like the balance is shifting. Or perceptions are. Comics = trades and graphic novels. Hardly anyone (has the time?) to follow and buy singles. Arguments have been made in the US about the importance of single issues. Not everyone has the luxury to work on a long story. What/Who's going to pay the bills when you spent months working on a 100 page graphic novel? Most comics companies do not pay advances like book publishers. Single issues is still the norm for most.

So what the views of comics shops owners in all these? I actually suggested that the con should have such a debate, about the state of the scene and industry. But alas...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Warren Ellis

Just picked up Ellis' Frankenstein's Womb from Kino and read it in one sitting. It's awesome. Ellis is really going into history these days. Stories about Mary Shelley and how she came to write Frankenstein are not unknown. There's Gothic (1986) directed by Kent Russell and starring Natasha Richardson as Mary. I saw that in the late 80s at one of the Singapore Film Society screenings when the Gothic Institute was at the Singapore Shopping Centre. (a no-prize if you can tell us where that was)

[others: Haunted Summer (1988) and the sci-fi Frankenstein Unbound (1990)]

I won't spoilt it for you, but this is one of the best treatise about fate, destiny and modernity I have read in recent times.

The art by Marek Oleksicki is impressive too.

If you like this, try Ellis' Crecy as well. That's about the 1346 battle between the Britons and the French, which "changed modern warfare forever". And also Aetheric Mechanics.

"It appears to me impossible that I should cease to exist. Or that this active, restless spirit, equally alive to joy and sorrow, should only be organised dust ready to fly abroad the moment the spark goes out which kept it together. Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable and life is more than a dream."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

GI Joe

Sometimes you get into the hype. And so I did when I picked up GI Joe: Best of Snake Eyes (IDW). This reprints the Marvel Comics stories featuring the mysterious but cool Snake Eyes, sort of the Wolverine of GI Joe.

Was never a fan of Joe in its original Marvel run in the 1980s. (only had #3 in my early comic book collection) Too much of a comic book based on toys thing for my liking. But reading these now made me realised how much killings and deaths were in the the Joe comic books for a Marvel title then. Remember the big deal about Wolverine slicing up the Hellfire foot soldiers in Uncanny X-Men #133? That's nothing compared the violence here. Maybe it's because this was an army/soldiers comic book rather than a superhero comic book...

Larry Hama is underrated. His Joe stories may not be top-notched. But just check out his Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja (1989-1990), probably one of the best things Marvel put out that year.

Alright, let me go back and read the Image run of Joe (Front Line) from 2002 that I just picked up...

p/s: for fans of Fables, Steve Leialoha is the inker for some of the stories here. He also drew the Firestar mini-series and also also some issues of The New Mutants in the 80s.

Bestselling Comics at Kino for July 09

1. BATMAN: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE CAPED CRUSADER
by NEIL GAIMAN, ANDY KUBERT

2. FINAL CRISIS
by GRANT MORRISON

3. 100 BULLETS VOLUME 13: WILT
by BRIAN AZZARELLO

4. GREEN LANTERN: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS
by GEOFF JOHNS

5. HALO: UPRISING
by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, ALEX MALEEV

6. WARCRAFT: LEGENDS VOLUME 4
by RICHARD A. KNAAK

7. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 9
by MATSURI HINO

8. FULL METAL ALCHEMIST VOLUME 20
by HIROMU ARAKAWA

9. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

10. WARCRAFT: LEGENDS VOLUME 1
by RICHARD A. KNAAK

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marvex!

We are know how violent comics can be. Just check out any issue of Punisher (currently drawn by local hero Tan Eng Huat), he'll be blasting the villains to kingdom come. Suicide is not in short supply too. Those old enough will remember X-Men #137 - Phoenix Must Die! Yeah, she killed herself.

But superheroes always had this hang-up about taking lives. One of my favourite Superman story (and also fave Alan Moore story) is Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (recently reprinted in hc and way more superior than Gaiman's Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?) In that story, Supes felt so bad about taking the life of Mxyzptlk (a demon from the fifth dimension) that he exposed himself to Gold Kryptonite and walked out of the Fortress of Solitude without his powers, supposedly another act of suicide.

Most people have forgotten that when Siegel and Shuster created the Man of Steel, he used to throw people around. And the original Batman by Bob Kane, he carries a gun and uses it with extreme prejudice.

http://sacomics.blogspot.com/2005/08/batman-and-guns.html

That's why it's so fun to read the 30s superhero reprints by Fantagraphics:

I Shall Destroyed All Civilized Planets and You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation by Fletcher Hanks

Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936 - 1941

Solid stuff when read together with The Ten Cent Plague and you'll see why the authorities were scared shitless by the comic books. These were wild things.

So forget about the DC Archives, these are the real deal. I suspect these stuff were avoided when DC reprinted 30s/40s materials in those 100-page Adventure digests in the 1980s. Not even a hint when Roy Thomas revived JSA, All-Stars, etc over the years.

Okay, if you want a sample of these hard stuff, go get All Select Comic #1, one of those 70 Years reprints (plus new materials) that Marvel is putting out. The new Blonde Phantom story is pretty lame. (Javier Pulido's art redeems it somewhat) Go straight to the 2 Marvex stories from 1940. They are a riot! (only after that, check out the new Marvex story by michael kupperman)

Marvex kills his evil creators in the fifth dimension. (where else?)

Marvex yanks a bad guy by his hair and says "You are no good! You die!" Death by slamming the baddie against rocks.

"With a mighty heave, Marvex flings the spy right through the wall of the building!"

But the best part:

Girl: "Oh, thank you! You are the only friend I have!"
Marvex: "But remember - we can never be more than friends."
Girl: "Why not?"
Marvex: "Because I am not human. I am Marvex the Super-Robot."

and in another scene,

Girl: "Marvex - you're the most wonderful man I know!"
Marvex: "I AM NOT A MAN - ONLY A MACHINE!"


I think Hal Sharp (listed as the artist of the stories) was worried that readers might get the wrong idea that heavy metal sex was permissible.

Yeah, right.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Queer Beats

Was reading The Beats: A Graphic History by Harvey Pekar, Ed Piskor, etc.

Picked up Queer Beats: How the Beats Turned America On to Sex ed. Regina Marier later on.

Here's an interesting bit by John Giorno:

Little did I know that Allen Ginsberg breaking up Jack Kerouac and me was a sign of things to come. The first of many times that Allen would be an obstacle to me. An endlessly recurring pattern,that went on for 40 years, until Allen died,and afterwards. Allen was a good friend on the surface, and a secretly obstructing force; paraniod,but true. Among the many reasons and complicated karma were that Allen was jealous of anyone close to William Burroughs and I lived with William for 3decades in the Bunker at 222 Bowery in NY and in Lawrence,Kansas, and toured performing with him endlessly.

I ran into Jack Kerouac occasionally during his brief visits to NY over the next 10 years,until he died in 1969.He became a nice,overweight, drunk guy. Nothing ever happened again,because it was too much troubleto make it happen.I had gone to Andy Warhol and the 1960s, and the golden age of promiscuity.

Remember the Alamo!

great splash page.

http://scifiwire.com/assets_c/2009/06/BestSimonKirbyReview2-thumb-550x396-18914.jpg

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America

Reading this book now by David Hajdu. The paperback just came out, can be found at Kino.

It was old crusty Bob Beerbohm who told me at San Diego last year that I should read this book. In fact, he brought me over to Bud Plant to look for a copy but it sold out.

Hajdu's thesis: comics as teenage rebellion predates rock n roll.

Some interesting facts:

"Invulnerable in the panels in the comic books, superheroes succumbed to common criminals on the newsstands. In the late 1940s, dozens of costumed characters, including Captain America, the Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Human Torch, and the Submariner, were all discontinued by publishers quick to move on the new trend, crime. In 1946, crime had represented about 3% of all comics, in 1947, 9%; in 1948, 14%. 30 new crime titles appeared in 1948 alone." (p. 110)

"In 1948, the 80 million to 100 million comic books purchased by America every month generated annual revenue for the industry of at least $72 million. (The usual cover price was 10 cents, although some digest-format books sold for 5 cents apiece.)" (p. 112)

Not forgetting that around this time, some states were already legislating against the sale of crime comics to teenagers. The 'king' of crime comics then was Crime Does Not Pay (Lev Gleason, Charles Biro, Bob Wood).

Not long after that, "the frenzy over crime comics began to subside". Love comics became the next wave. (chapter 8)

A few years back, I bought alot of Jack Kirby and Wally Wood stuff from ebay. A review of Kirby's comics output in the 1940s and 1950s (pre-Silver Age) would reflect the trends described above.

This is one of my best buy:

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n24/n120567.jpg

Put out by Eclipse Comics in 1988 when the King was still alive.


[over the years, some of the romance comics have been reprinted by both DC and Marvel.

http://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/simonandkirby/wp-content/uploads/2006/06/yr001.jpg

http://www.amazon.com/Marvel-Romance-TPB-Stan-Lee/dp/0785120890/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_a

There's even a book about this genre.

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Racks-History-American-Romance/dp/0786435194/ref=pd_sim_b_4]


Picked this up as well:

http://www.thefifthbranch.com/images/oldies/kirbymags/mob1cover.jpg

which is not really from the 1940s but something Kirby did in 1971. Fascinating crime stuff that reflects the vibracy of the genre.

And the reason why this book is called the 10 cents plague - it's because comic books were priced at 10 cents from the 1930s all the way to the early 60s.

Found this out for myself when I picked up 70 Years of Marvel Comics Poster Book. The price of comic books remained the same at 10 cents from the late 1930s (Marvel Comics #1) to early 1960s (FF#1). Of course, the number of pages went down while the price remains the same.

The price slowly increased after that:

Amazing Fantasy #15 - 12 cents
Avengers #92 - 15 cents
Luke Cage #1 - 20 cents
Hulk #181 (1st app of Wolverine!) - 25 cents
Ms Marvel #1 - 30 cents
Howard the Duck #30 - 35 cents
X-Men #141 - 50 cents
(somewhere along the line, I know it went up to 60 cents and I remember Marvel was holding on to that price while DC raised theirs to 75 cents)
Secret Wars #7 - 75 cents

and then it went on to $1, $1.25 and so on.

On the same trip to the comic shop, I also picked up Astonishing X-Men #30 and that is cover priced $2.99.

Now it's the $3 plague.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Concave Scream

Soundtrack for a book. Another one on heavy rotation.

They're opening for The Ob next Sat at Blu Jazz, 9.30 pm.

Their own album launch - 18 Sept, Esplanade, 9.30 pm.

Dark Folke

The Observatory 4th album.
Been listening to this. Go get it.

Official website www.theobservatory.com.sg
Facebook www.facebook.com/theobservatory
Myspace myspace.com/theobservatoryband

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kid A

This poem by Simon Armitage is about Robin.

Kid (1992)

Batman, big shot, when you gave the order
to grow up, then let me loose to wander
leeward, freely through the wild blue yonder
as you liked to say, or ditched me, rather,
in the gutter ... well, I turned the corner.
Now I've scotched that 'he was like a father
to me' rumour, sacked it, blown the cover
on that 'he was like an elder brother'
story, let the cat out on that caper
with the married woman, how you took her
downtown on expenses in the motor.
Holy robin-redbreast-nest-egg-shocker!
Holy roll-me-over-in the-clover,
I'm not playing ball boy any longer
Batman, now I've doffed that off-the-shoulder
Sherwood-Forest-green and scarlet number
for a pair of jeans and crew-neck jumper;
now I'm taller, harder, stronger, older.
Batman, it makes a marvellous picture:
you without a shadow, stewing over
chicken giblets in the pressure cooker,
next to nothing in the walk-in larder,
punching the palm of your hand all winter,
you baby, now I'm the real boy wonder.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino for June 09

1. FINAL CRISIS
by GRANT MORRISON, J.G. JONES, CARLOS PACHECO, DOUG MAHNKE

2. WORLD OF WARCRAFT ASHBRINGER
by MICKY NEILSON, LUDO LULLABI, TONY WASHINGTON

3. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 9
by MATSURI HINO

4. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

5. OISHINBO: RAMEN AND GYOZA
by TETSU KARIYA, AKIRA HANASAKI

6. TSUBASA VOLUME 22
by CLAMP

7. BATMAN: R.I.P.
by GRANT MORRISON, TONY DANIEL

8. TRANSFORMERS REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
by SIMON FURMAN

9. MY FAIR LADY VOLUME 22
by TOMOKO HAYAKAWA

10. WARCRAFT: LEGENDS VOLUME 4
by RICHARD A. KNAAK, JAE-HWAN KIM, FERNANDO HEINZ FURUKAWA, DAN JOLLEY

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shout!

Watched Ngak and Clement at Esplanade last Friday and for their last song, they covered Tears For Fears' Shout. I've said before that one of the great things about covers is that you get to rediscover and be reminded these old gems from the past.

So, Tears For Fears, what a band and what a name. The 80s aren't so bad after all.

This one goes out to Vincent Seow, whom I've not seen in almost 20 years. Everybody wants to rule the world, you and I.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson Mati

...end of an era.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where's the music?

The newly renovated Sembawang Shopping Centre does not have ... a Sembawang Music Centre. That's where it all started for Sembawang Music back in the 1990s. They were one of the first music shops to offer CDs at a much cheaper price. (prices back then were $30-$40 and that's standard retail price for all the shops) SMC imported their own and really brought the price down. Soon the major labels here followed suit.

Sure, they were in super ulu location. (don't think Sembawang MRT Station started yet - the line stopped at Yishun) But they had the selection damn shiok and I made my way there once and bought a Screaming Trees Best of.

Today, they are not doing so well. The state of the music industry. People are not buying music, they are downloading.

So do yourself a favour, go old school. Go buy a CD because I know you haven't for the longest time. In the meantime, remember the shops of yore. Song Ching, Sing Records, Disc Dynamics, Da Da, Supreme. (long live Roxy!)

Heard Valentine Music Centre is still somewhere in Selegie. And Form Records only survived in Malaysia.

And what happen to Jimmy Wee?

Tan Eng Huat

http://www.singaporetgcc.com/walkoffame.html

He's coming down so get ready your Doom Patrol, JLA, Batman, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider and now, Punisher for him to autograph. He's also bringing down some original pages for sale, so save your pennies now! And if you really want to make a wise investment in this economic climate, commission him to do an original piece for you. Value for money too. Screw the stocks and shares.

http://www.theartistschoice.com/huatcom.htm

http://readrant.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/ghost-rider-got-his-own.jpg

An early interview with him:

http://www.bigozine2.com/archive/ARfeatures/ARfeatures2002/ARtanenghuat.html

Saturday, June 20, 2009

wat recession?

1. the long queues outside LV at Taka on weekends.

2. 2am: Dessert Bar on weeknights

3. BlackRock

4. all the crap you have been buying this month.

No respect for the self-made man

...especially if you are MIS.

Made in Singapore.

Friday, June 19, 2009

American Jesus

This is really one of the best thing I have read this year. The movie will be directed by Matthew Vaughn, who just made the Nicholas Cage vehicle, Kick-Ass, also based on a Mark Millar comic. (Vaughn was the director of Stardust)

Mark Millar's mainstream stuff can be hit or miss, but this is simply mindblowing.

Roots: Saviour, one of Millar's earliest works from 1989.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saviour_(comic_book)

So go get the new edition put out by Image or if you are really lucky, try to score the original 2005 collection from Dark Horse.

Can't wait for Pt II.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18237

[reminds me of True Faith, another early story from Garth Ennis from 1990. what's with these brits about faith, talking that long walk and the antichrist? see preacher, just another pilgrim, chronicles of wormwood...]

Lists

I'm still interested in lists and sales figures.

http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2009/04/10/dc-month-to-month-sales-febroary-2009/

http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/14518.html

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Actress and The Bishop

Word has it that Brian Bolland is coming to Singapore.

http://www.singaporetgcc.com/walkoffame.html

This would be his second visit to Singapore. The last time he came was in the late 1980s. The Killing Joke just came out and I got it signed.

So you fanboys better stock up on your Bollands for autographs. Top of the list should be The Art of Brian Bolland if you want to impress him. That's a handsome book.

I just picked up the Camelot 3000 hc two, three months back. It has not aged well and even when I finally read it some 20 years ago, I found it choppy. They haven't quite figured out then how to tell and end a story in a 12 issue maxi series. (That's what DC called their limited series then - maxi for anything more than 4 issues and 4 and below, a mini series; Marvel just called them...limited series - that was how you tell the diff between the two companies in the mid 80s. They want to make sure you are buying Crisis on Infinite Earths and not Secret Wars)

What was enlightening about the Camelot 3000 hc was Mike W Barr's intro. He said he actually suggested to DC for Bolland to finish drawing all the issues first before soliciting it. DC didn't listen and that led to delays between issues and the series falling off the schedule, which was unheard off in those days. Today, that's the industrial norm. Now I understand that Bolland is slow worker given the details he put into his work. (and maybe why he also draws covers these days; another reason to get The Art of Brian Bolland - collects all the excellent covers from Animal Man in the 80s to Wonder Woman and beyond) The Killing Joke was much delayed when it finally came out in 1988. By that time, Alan Moore had sworn off DC.

Okay, getting back to what you should stock up for Bolland, well, Camelot 3000 is not that bad a series just for the beautiful Bolland art. There's some excellent girl on girl action there which aroused some controversy back in the early 80s. Tame stuff now.

When I was in San Deigo last year, I picked up Camelot 3000 #1 for the heck of it. I should gotten it signed by Mike W. Barr (got him to sign other things instead) if I knew Bolland is coming to Singapore this year.

But, but if you really want to be different, go get Bolland Strips! which I found at Kino yesterday. Stacks of it. I think Kenny is to be blamed for this. We were just talking the other day how difficult it is to go dig out our old issues of A1. (mine are somewhere in my parents' place) The girly stuff. The stories that separate the men from the boys. I've read most of them before but it was fun revisiting The Actress and The Bishop and The Princess and the Frog again after all these years.

Boy, do I feel old.

Think I'll go dig out my definitely-not-mint copy of JLA #200 which has a Batman-Green Arrow - Black Canary sequence drawn by Bolland, probably one of his first works for DC as that predated Camelot 3000.

Or just get him to sign my Killing Joke again. A friend actually got Neil Gaiman to sign on her copy of Sandman a second time when he was in Singapore. The first autograph she got at a signing in London. How fannish.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction_fandom

Heh.

UPDATE: Just picked up The DC Universe by Brian Bolland (Comic Book Cover Portfolio No 3) from GNB. Beautiful stuff. Go grab.

Monday, June 15, 2009

read

gweek

http://gweek.wordpress.com/

It's a Lat Lat Lat World...

This just came out at kino.

Lat: The Early Years. Retailing for $63.13.

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Tuesday/National/2543117/Article/index_html

http://nursamad.blogspot.com/2009/04/lat-early-series.html

This reminds me of how I used to send Lat books to comic artists overseas in the 1990s way before First Second put out Kampong Boy and Town Boy for the North American market. Jim Woodring, Larry Gonick, Seth, Collier were some of the ones who really like Lat. They were nice enough to send things back as trades. Others whom I shan't name didn't bother.

I remember sending the McDonald's placemat for Lat's Kampong Burger to Jim Woodring and he wrote back expressing his disappointment. Something pure has given way to commericalism.

In 2002, I went to Toronto for a conference and brought along copies of Town Boy as gifts for friends. Had lunch with Collier, Seth, Joe Matt and Chester Brown. They were thrilled with Town Boy. We visited The Beguiling after that and I gave them a copy too.

A few years later, through the help of John Lent, I helped Ng Suat Tong to contact Lat for Rosetta Vol 1.

Life was simpler then.

Lady Ga Ga

Thanks to Kheng we managed to catch the lady's showcase.

It's a highlight of the month. She is pretty awesome.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sonny@Kino

Didn't get to talk about this and i ain't much of a blogger anyway. But for archival purposes, here's the write-up from sonny's blog. Maybe he'll write about it with photos.

http://sonnyliew.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/wonderland-signing-at-kinokuniya/

It was a fun event.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Comics World

Can't believe I found this place again after all these years. Bill is still there behind the counter and he recognizes me.

Was talking to Kenny about Comics World and how we can't find it.

So imagine my surprize when I was at Parklane last Sat to attend the metal gig at Gossip Pub at B1 and the shop was just next to it.

Me, Shark, Harold and Victor went in.

Brought back memories.

http://comicsworldsingapore.blogspot.com/

It's a piece of history, one of the oldest comic shops in Singapore. And Bill can regal you with his own history stories as well.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm not there...

A lost classic rediscovered thanks to Todd Haynes.

"...no i don't belong to her
i don't belong to everybody
she's my prize forsaken angel
but she don't care she cries
she's a lone-hearted mystic and she can't carry on

...i was born to love her
but she knows that the kingdom waits so high above her
and i run but i race..."

From Sight & Sound Vol 18 No 1 (Jan 2008):

Q: The film is named after a lesser-known Dylan song from the 'Basement Tapes' sessions. It sums up your take on Dylan, but it seems perverse to start with a song most people won't know.

Todd Haynes: It's from the original 'Basement Tapes' recordings with the Band in 1967 but it was never released as part of the Robbie Robertson-produced album that came out in 1977. There were a few packages of discovery I encountered when I got back into Dylan in 2000, and all the strange and mysterious drunken songs from those recording sessions was one of them... That collection of stuff I'd never heard as a teenager was part of the first blush of obsession that came back at that time.

I discovered 'I'm Not There' probably by reading about it before I even heard it. So when we finally approached Dylan that summer I already had a one-sheet. What resulted in the meeting with his manager Jeff Rosen and his son Jesse was a one-sheet description of what there would be, which was entitled 'I'm Not There: Propositions on a Film Concerning Dylan' and contained a one-line take on each of the essential characters.


How often we read about Dylan first before hearing him.

Counterpoint and reversals. Counterpoint to I'm Not There: Someday Baby ("why was I born to love you?') from Modern Times (2006).

And go back to Simple Twist of Fate (Blood on The Tracks, 1975) and compare it with Born in Time (Under the Red Sky, 1990 or the version found in Tell Tale Signs, 2008).

Hope springs eternal.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kino Bestsellers for May 09

1. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

2. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 9
by MATSURI HINO

3. MY SPACE: BABY BLUES SCRAPBOOK 24
by RICK KIRKMAN, JERRY SCOTT

4. NARUTO VOLUME 44
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

5. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE SECOND COMING
by DWAYNE MCDUFFIE, ED BENES

6. HELLBLAZER: THE ROOTS OF COINCIDENCE
by ANDY DIGGLE

7. NARUTO VOLUME 42
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

8. THOR PREMIERE EDITION VOLUME 2
by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI

9. D.GRAY-MAN VOLUME 13
by KATSURA HOSHINO

10.FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST VOLUME 19
by HIROMU ARAKAWA

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Elvis and Dylan

From Rolling Stone #1078 (May 2009):

Dylan has quipped that when he first encountered Elvis' voice as a teenager, it was like "busting out of jail." For Dylan, the very fact that Elvis has recorded versions of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" and "Blowing' in the Winds" remains mind-boggling. Dutifully, as if returning a favor, Dylan recorded Elvis' hit "(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such As I" during both the Basement Tapes and Self-Portrait sessions.

But that was about as close as they ever got. "I never met Elvis," Dylan says. "I never met Elvis, because I didn't want to meet Elvis. Elvis was in his Sixties movie period, and he was just crankin' 'em out and knockin' 'em off, one after another. And Elvis had kind of fallen out of favor in the Sixties. He didn't really come back until, whatever was it, '68? I know the Beatles went to see him, and he just played with their heads. 'Cause George [Harrison] told me about the scene. And Derek [Taylor], one of the guys who used to work for him. Elvis was truly some sort of American king. His face is even on the Statute of Liberty. And, well, like I said, I wouldn't quite say he was ridiculed, but close. You see, the music scene had gone past him, and nobody bought his records. Nobody young wanted to listen to him or be like him. Nobody went to his movies, as far as I know. He just wasn't in anybody's mind. Two or three times we were up in Hollywood, and he had sent some of the Memphis Mafia down to where we were to bring us up to see Elvis. But none of us went. Because it seemed like a sorry thing to do. I don't know if I would have wanted to see Elvis like that. I wanted to see the powerful, mystical Elvis that had crashed-landed from a burning star onto American soil. The Elvis that was bursting with life. That's the Elvis that inspired us to all the possibilities of life. And that Elvis was gone, had left the building."

For those of you who knows me, you know I'm a big fan of Elvis and Dylan. Dream holidays: to catch a Dylan gig overseas and to visit Graceland and the Sun Studios.

And the Elvis Dylan was talking about:

Well get out of that bed, wash your face and hands
Get out of that bed, wash your face and hands
Well get in that kitchen
Make some noise with the pots and pans
I believe it to my soul you're the devil in nylon hose
I believe it to my soul you're the devil in nylon hose
For the harder I work the faster my money goes

Well I said shake, rattle and roll
I said shake rattle and roll
I said shake, rattle and roll
I said shake rattle and roll
Well you won't do right
To save your doggone soul

Shake rattle and roll

I'm like the one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store
I'm like the one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store
Well I can look at you till you ain't no child no more
I believe you're doing me wrong and now I know
I believe you're doing me wrong and now I know
cause the harder I work the faster my money goes

You're wearing those dresses, sun comes shining through.
You're wearing those dresses, sun comes shining through.
I can't believe my eyes all that mess belongs to you.

Well I said shake, rattle and roll
I said shake rattle and roll
I said shake, rattle and roll
I said shake rattle and roll
Well you won't do right
To save your doggone soul

Play it again!

I went over the hill, way down underneath
I went over the hill, way down underneath
You make me roll my eyes
And then you make me grit my teeth

Well I said shake, rattle and roll
I said shake rattle and roll
I said shake, rattle and roll
I said shake rattle and roll
Well you won't do right
To save your doggone soul


Ok, did you get that - "one-eyed cat peeping in a seafood store/look at you till you ain't no child no more."

and "You make me roll my eyes/And then you make me grit my teeth"

Elvis performed the song on the January 28, 1956 broadcast of the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show minus the 'dirty' parts:

"You're wearing those dresses, sun comes shining through/I can't believe my eyes all that mess belongs to you."

The TV censors must have been stupid. The whole song is dirty, dammit! And that's why we love Elvis. He's the original escape artist and he showed us what we could and should get away with.

Elvis was an alien alright, way before Bowie claimed that title. Out of this world and still inspiring the rest of us. [i was listening to Shake Rattle and Roll on the bus to work one morning a few weeks ago, helped me to survive the day.]

And despite not wanting to meet Elvis in the 60s, Dylan still admires the King. He once went to Tupelo, Mississippi to soak in the essence of Elvis.

One day, I'm going to make that journey too.

The Sacred and the Profane

Two books I was told about when I was in San Diego last year deserved this blog title.

1. Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ross MacDonald

This is a children's book about how Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman. You know, the typical rags to riches story with an inspirational spin to it that is good for the kids.

I was first informed about this book by my friend, Phil Yeh who had his own encounter with Jerry Siegel that helped to put the Superman creators' names back into the Superman comic books:

http://www.wingedtiger.com/CAA/contacts_artists/godpa.html

http://www.comicsbulletin.com/features/120284921496065.htm

Nobleman contacted Phil for info about the Siegel and Shuster story.

Blame it all on Gerard Jones and his Men of Tomorrow (2004), which revived the interest in the injustice and indignation faced by Siegel and Shuster who were surviving at nearly poverty line (Siegel was a messenger 'boy' while Shuster was nearly blind by that time) when Christopher Reeve was about to take off on the big screen as the Man of Steel in the mid 1970s.

Recent additions to the narrative:

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-08-25-superman-creators_N.htm?se=yahoorefer

http://www.greendoorfilms.com/blog/

http://www.cleveland.com/movies/index.ssf/2008/07/secrets_of_superman_unveiled_i.html

But I saved the best for the last.

2. Secret-Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster by Craig Yoe, another good friend of mine. I won't say more about it but you can see some preview pages at http://secret-identity.net and also Craig has put some pages in his earlier book, Clean Cartoonists' Dirty Drawings (2007). It's a really sad story.

Up, up and away!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ellison, Johnson and History

Picked up Harlan Ellison's Watching, a collection of his movie reviews from 1965 to 1989. Now I know Ellison, The City on the Edge of Forever, Dangerous Visions, Vic Blood (excellent comic book drawn by Richard Corben in the late 1980s), suing The Comic Journal again in recent years and The Glass Teat, his essays of opinion on television.

Ellison is opinionated, abrasive, someone you might not to meet in real life. But the old guy got balls. Here's what it said at the back of Watching:

Everyone's entitled to his own opinion, right?

WRONG!

He or she is entitled to an informed opinion - so if you don't like being aruged with,if you don't like a total stranger telling you that your opinion is stupid, and you're fulla crap

DON'T BUY THIS BOOK!


Like I said, gutsy.

Now I don't need to be sold about history, but what I really like about Ellison's essays is his encyclopedic knowledge about the talking pictures. Referencing a contemporary movie with another that was made 40 years earlier. That's impressive, the kind of commitment to bring derision to rubbish. We are not in polite company here.

Which reminds me of an incident in my early years of reviewing music. I was given a CD of Robert Johnson covers done by others. I gave a hum-ho review, the covers were not bad, pleasant, listenable, some of the songs did rock out, got that old time bluesy feel, good intro to the mojo of Robert Johnson, blah, blah.

The review got killed. Essentially, the editor's response was WTF!!!! Have I even listened to Johnson's originals in the first place? (i have but i was basically too young then to dig the blues and to have an informed opinion about it...) He said, "These covers murdered Robert Johnson!"

Point taken. Sense of history has never been higher in my book since. I can't quite remember if the ed man himself rewrote the review and ran it under his byline. Or just threw the CD of rubbish in the can, but it was a lesson learned.

Reading Ellison these few nights brought back the reminder that we should bring all our passion and fury to speak out against crap because they deserve our scorn. After all, "the greatest enemy of clear language is insincerity." (George Orwell) And let's call a spade a spade. "If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." (Anatole France)

[these are quotations taken from the book.]

Life is short and in this age of info overload and hyperkinks embedded within hyperlinks, you want to spend your precious waking moments on talking about the good stuff. But sometimes, you just got to give it to them, you just got to tell it as it is.

You have been judged and found wanting.

"If we live in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that avarice, anger, pride and stupdity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little, even at risk of being heroes." -- Thomas More in The Man for All Seasons (1966)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino for April 09

1. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

2. NARUTO VOLUME 44
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

3. NARUTO VOLUME 43
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

4. NARUTO VOLUME 42
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

5. TSUBASA VOLUME 21
by CLAMP

6. BATMAN: R.I.P.
by GRANT MORRISON, TONY DANIEL

7. BATMAN THE HEART OF HUSH
by PAUL DINI, DUSTIN NGUYEN

8. WARCRAFT LEGENDS VOLUME 3
by CARLOS OLIVARES, CHRISTIE GOLDEN

9. WARHAMMER 40,000: DEFENDERS OF ULTRAMAR
by GRAHAM MCNEIL, KEVIN HOPGOOD

10. KITCHEN PRINCESS VOLUME 9
by NATSUMI ANDO, MIYUKI KOBAYASHI

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm punk rock!

So what is it about rock n roll that the best stuff are the anti-establishment songs?

A long weekend and an opportunity to catch The UnXpected before Shirlyn flies off to LA in a few weeks' time. 2 outstanding covers that strike a chord tonight: The Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall and Metallica's Master of Puppets.

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave those kids alone
Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall


Now those of you who know my day job knows the irony of this. Let's be honest: I am establishment these days. So how come I identify so much with all these kill 'em all songs? (and if you must ask, that's the title of Metallica's 2nd album)

Master of Puppets
I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind
Smashing your dreams

Deep down, I'm still punk rock after all.

Closing song of the last set: Nirvana's Come As You Are. The UnXpected is wonderful for reminding us how great some of these songs and bands were. No one disputes Nirvana's influence and impact. But people tend to overlook how brilliant a lyricist Kurt Cobain was. It's haiku he was composing, the juxtapose, the reversals and the longing.

Come as you are
As you were
As I want you to be
As a friend
As a known memory

Take your time
Hurry up
The choice is yours
Don't be late
Take a rest
As a friend
As a known memory


Wonder if the band will cover Lily Allen's Fuck You one of these days.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino for Mar 09

1. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

2. JACK OF FABLES VOLUME 5 (TURNING PAGES)
by BILL WILLINGHAM

3. NARUTO VOLUME 41
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

4. NARUTO VOLUME 40
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

5. NARUTO VOLUME 38
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

6. BATMAN: R.I.P .
by GRANT MORRISON, TONY DANIEL

7. FULL METAL ALCHEMIST VOLUME 18
by HIROMU ARAKAWA

8. NARUTO VOLUME 39
by MASASHI KISHIMOTO

9. OSHINBO VOLUME 1
by KARIYA TETSU, HANASAKI AKIRA

10. WARCRAFT LEGENDS VOLUME 3
by CARLOS OLIVARES, CHRISTIE GOLDEN

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Most of the time...

we don't get it. We don't get what we want.

The first Bob Dylan album I heard was the universally-panned Real Live. (see Michael Gray's entry on this in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia; even uber Dylan critic, Paul Williams calls it "unsatisfactory") Not a very good intro to a rock legend and at that age, you just can't get past that voice. Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, sure, they were cool cats. But Dylan? That took a while.

And that's the amazing thing about him. I hardly listen to The Doors anymore or even the Stones, Beatles. But I can always return to Dylan. I finally 'got' him in my 20s and now as I approach my 40s, he is the only one from that generation of artists that I can constantly return to and literally hear new things.

Take Most of the Time. I first heard the song back in 1989, track six on Oh Mercy, the gem among all the ho hums of the 80s Dylan output. It was a good album, the track was decent, interesting title. But it wasn't a standout. Maybe most of us were too focused on Political World, the opening track of Oh Mercy and the critics were saying it was a return to form for the social conscious Dylan of old. Even Everything Is Broken got more attention than Most of the Time.

But it's always the personal Dylan to gets to you and it's a sucker punch that comes out of nowhere. Just when you thought you have heard it all and there's nothing new from a song you have encountered before, it slips so cunningly into your consciousness and you're floored.

These discoveries are wonderful. And it's not even planned unless there is some divine hand at work that arranges this playlist for you and the epiphanies are released to you from time to time.

Yes, we shall all be released, eventually.

So 20 years on, revistations and revelations occurred in Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989 - 2006 (The Bootleg Series Vol 8). I picked up the deluxe edition from HMV for Christmas, took my time to run through it. Sync the songs to my ipod and listening to them on dark miserable mornings to work. Other songs catch your attention faster:

"Soul of nation is under the knife/Death is standing in the doorway of life/In the next room a man is fighting with his wife/Over dignity" (new verse in the piano demo of Dignity)

"Some of us turn off the lights and we live/In the moonlight shooting by/Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark/To be where the angels fly" (Red River Shore, unreleased)

Lines that sent a shiver down your spine. Most of the time is simple in that sense. Simple but never simplistic. Because the first encounter was in Oh Mercy together with songs like Political World and Everything is Broken, you thought it's another song about the sign of the times. You don't pay attention to the lyrics. In fact, you have never done so for this song for 20 years.

And it hits like bombshell.


Most of the time
I'm clear focused all around,
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground,
I can follow the path, I can read the signs,
Stay right with it, when the road unwinds,
I can handle whatever I stumble upon,
I don't even notice she's gone,
Most of the time.

Most of the time
It's well understood,
Most of the time
I wouldn't change it if I could,
I can't make it all match up, I can hold my own,
I can deal with the situation right down to the bone,
I can survive, I can endure
And I don't even think about her
Most of the time.

Most of the time
My head is on straight,
Most of the time
I'm strong enough not to hate.
I don't build up illusion 'till it makes me sick,
I ain't afraid of confusion no matter how thick
I can smile in the face of mankind.
Don't even remember what her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time.

Most of the time
She ain't even in my mind,
I wouldn't know her if I saw her
She's that far behind.
Most of the time
I can't even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if I was with her.

Most of the time
I'm halfway content,
Most of the time
I know exactly where I went,
I don't cheat on myself, I don't run and hide,
Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside,
I don't compromised and I don't pretend,
I don't even care if I ever see her again
Most of the time.



It is about love after all. It always has. The best stories in the world, they are all about love and war. "I can survive, I can endure/And I don't even think about her/Most of the time". Those are some of the saddest lines I've ever heard. The sense of loss, longing and denial. You can never say goodbye.

So, better late than never. Don't think I'll really get this song even if I had listened carefully to it 20 years ago. Who I am then, what I am today, who wouldn't give to know what they know now then. But it doesn't work that way, most of the time. What is life without love and regrets?

Postscript: Dylan himself wrote about the recording of Oh Mercy in Chronicle Volume One. He recalled the recording of Most of the Time was difficult. But it paid off. Paul Williams described Most of the Time as a "big song, a major work, the sort of listening experience that brings people back to an album again and again." Well, not quite. But sooner or later, it all comes back to you.

Hello, hello, hello again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Watchmen movie

...is awesome. Thanks to Bernard of G and B for organising a screening last night.

So forget what the critics said, go watch it and decide for yourself.

Content is king. People who said that we don't need comic books anymore are wrong. What makes a good Spiderman or X-Men movie is not special effects or the Hollywood big stars. But the stories written by Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, etc over the years.

Character design is one thing. (and yes, ppl have made movies based on computer games, etc) But it's the stories written by WRITERS that have made readers laugh, cry, smile silently and identify with the characters and situations. You still need a good story, you don't run away from that.

Alan Moore may want to disassociate himself from the movie adaptations of his comics. But no one is going to forget that he's the one behind the stories anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino (Feb 09)

1. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

2. BATMAN: R.I.P .
by GRANT MORRISON, TONY DANIEL

3. All STAR SUPERMAN VOLUME 2
by GRANT MORRISON, FRANK QUITELY

4. FABLES VOLUME 11 (WAR AND PIECES)
by BILL WILLINGHAM

5. AVENGERS INITIATIVE VOLUME 3 (SECRET INVASION)
by DAN SLOTT

6. THE DARKNESS VOLUME 1 (ACCURSED)
by PHIL HESTER, MICHAEL BROUSSARD

7. SECRET INVASION
by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, LEINIL FRANCIS YU

8. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 8
by MATSURI HINO

9. WARHAMMER 40,000: ONLY WAR
by DAN ABNETT, IAN EDGINTON, GRAHAM MCNEILL

10. OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB VOLUME 13
by BISCO HATORI

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sonny's Liew in the papers today

Dear friends,

Watch out for the nice article about Sonny Liew in today's Chinese Zaobao newspaper. Interview with him about his career as a comics creator and editor, and also publicizes an exhibition of his oil paintings at J Cafe, MICA Building, until 18 Feb 2009.

JF

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Late Night Request or Times When You're Proud To Be A Singaporean

It takes a great local band to tell you about another great local band. Was at Wala on Thursday to catch Shirlyn and the UnXpected and it was a strong night for them. Usually their first set would be crowd pleasers, but that night, you had Led Zep's Black Dog and Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart to drown your sorrows. You know what they said: "A big legged woman ain't got no soul."

They did their originals and covers of Hendrix, Guns 'n' Roses, Nirvana, Muse, Journey, The Killers (CCB!). But what really blew me away was the closing song for the night. A cover of The Great Spy Experiment's Late Night Request. I have the album and in fact, gave my copy to musician friends when I visited San Diego last year. But I must said I haven't listened to the album that closely and it simply escaped me what a great song Late Night Request is.

Until that night.

Oh, sorrow, won't you flow out?
These tired veins have dried. This tired soul has burnt out.
Collect her. Bring her back here next to me.
Cause I need her now. I need her touch so desperately.
So go now, don't come till the night is done.
And I will wait for you. Yeah, I will wait for you.

Oh, distance, oh why won't you disappear?
This electric love is so tiring and dear.
Collect her, bring her back here next to me.
Cause I need her now.
Oh yeah, I need her now.
So go now, don't come till the job is done.
And I will wait for you.
Yeah, I will wait for you.

Oh, won't you come? Like before..Oh, won't you go on down?
Yeah you know..Oh, won't you come? Like before..Oh, won't you stay awhile?

Oh, sorrow, won't you flow out?These tired veins have dried.
This tired soul has burnt out.
Collect her. Bring her back here next to me.I need her now.
Oh yeah, I need her now.So go now, don't come till the job is done.
And I will wait for you.
Yeah, I will wait for you.
Wait for you.
Wait for you, love.
Oh, won't you stay awhile?


What a great song about longing! It's times like these that you're proud to be a Singaporean. Because if there's one thing we are good at, it's longing.

Good nite and thanks for the song.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino for Jan 09

Happy Chinese New Year.


1. VAMPIRE KNIGHT VOLUME 8
by MATSURI HINO

2. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

3. SECRET INVASION BOOK 1 (NEW AVENGERS VOLUME 8)
by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS

4. WAR AND PIECES (FABLES VOLUME 11)
by BILL WILLINGHAM

5. OTOMEN VOLUME 4
by AYA KANO

6. ROOM AND BOREDOME (HOUSE OF MYSTERY VOLUME 1)
by BILL WILLINGHAM

7. FIRE AND HONOUR (WARHAMMER 40,000)
by GRAHAM MCNEIL, TONY PARKER

8. MY FAIR LADY VOLUME 20
by HAYAKAWA TOMOKO

9. HERE WE REMAIN (WALKING DEAD VOLUME 9)
by ROBERT KIRKMAN

10. OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB VOLUME 13
by BISCO HATORI

Monday, January 5, 2009

Bestselling Comics at Kino for Dec 08

1. WAR AND PIECES (FABLES VOLUME 11)
by BILL WILLINGHAM

2. AMERICANA (JACK OF FABLES VOLUME 4)
by BILL WILLINGHAM

3. WATCHMEN
by ALAN MOORE, DAVE GIBBONS

4. OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB VOLUME 13
by BISCO HATORI

5. THE JOKER
by BRIAN AZZARELLO, LEE BERMEJO

6. THE BURMA CHRONICLES
by GUY DELISLE

7. TSUBASA VOLUME 20
by CLAMP

8. FABLES COVERS: THE ART OF JAMES JEAN VOLUME 1
by JAMES JEAN

9. SECRET INVASION BOOK 1 (NEW AVENGERS VOLUME 8)
by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS

10. LIQUID CITY
ed. SONNY LIEW