Thanks, Baltimore Magazine!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"I think that troubled cities often tragically misinterpret what's coolest about themselves. They scramble for cure-alls, something that will 'attract business', always one convention center, one pedestrian mall or restaurant district away from revival. They miss their biggest, best and probably most marketable asset: their unique and slightly off-center character. Few people go to New Orleans because it's a 'normal' city -- or a 'perfect' or 'safe' one. They go because it's crazy, borderline dysfunctional, permissive, shabby, alcoholic and bat shit crazy -- and because it looks like nowhere else. Cleveland is one of my favorite cities. I don't arrive there with a smile on my face every time because of the Cleveland Philarmonic.
I arrived in Baltimore apprehensive. I left a fan. And in case you're wondering, blue crabs were out of season."
And another reason to love Mad Men (with all its Baltimore references) - the season opens in Baltimore!
And hey, Zurawik, Baltimore already looks good on prime time tv on Ace of Cakes (which just started their latest season a couple of weeks ago).
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
WEDNESDAY COMICS #1
by Mark Chiarello (editor)/various
Ever since I'd heard of DC Comics plan for their new Wednesday Comics anthology series, I've been increasingly curious as to how it would turn out. I like to see this sort of experimentation and innovation, especially in publishing.
I had a lot of pre-conceptions. I didn't realize how big it would fold out to. I was skeptical of the newsprint. I wasn't sure how the pacing would work. And I just didn't appreciate how much the artists would take advantage of the oversized format.
Wow! The result is that I am totally addicted to Wednesday Comics.
The format of Wednesday Comics is as much part of the point as the hyper-serialized stories (more story than a traditional weekly newspaper strip, but less than a monthly comic), and the weekly schedule smartly keeps you interested.
I have heard people complain about the newsprint, that it is a "disposable" format. And they're right. It is. But so were comics originally, and this is printed in that early, fun spirit. If anything, the fetishization of mainstream comics, with their glossy paper and their cardstock covers and their fans who are nervous even reading the things lest they reduce their collectible's condition before they can slide it into their mylar, has done much to take the fun, excitement and wonder out of reading a comic book.
Wednesday Comics brings back that fun and reminds me of how much I want my 4 color comics on newsprint.
The oversized format is an opportunity that most of the artists here really rise to, like Paul Pope. Just looking at his gorgeous Adam Strange page reveals a world of potential for this type of publication.
But as much as the format is an intriguing draw, so too is the line up. With talent like Pope, Neil Gaiman, Mike Allred, Kyle Baker, Dave Gibbons and other favorites contributing stories, the quality of comics is higher than DC and Marvel has turned out in years (this short story format provides more potential for busy creators who might not have the time sign on to a 4 - 12 issue run of a comic series).
And even though Wedesday Comics only boasts 16 pages per issue, it takes longer to read and provides more for the eye to look at than most 32 page comics.
There is something so wonderfully satisfying about kicking back in a chair and unfolding a big newspaper full of serialized comics by talented creators (and the series has a smart balance of DC standards - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc and goofball characters like Metamorpho and The Metal Men that generate a diversity of story tones that makes each page as exciting as editor Mark Chiarello must have intended), that I have totally fallen for Wednesday Comics.
The only drawback I can see is that some folks will understandably have a hard time dropping $3.99 for a newsprint comic. But damn if it isn't worth every penny.
Under The Radar #27
Wye Oak - The Knot (7 out of 10 Stars)
"...Wye Oak has taken a more aggressive stance throughout the album, not merely in the production choices. ... The Knot displays the a band more confident of itself and its powers." -Jim Scott
Double Dagger - More (7 out of 10 Stars)
"For only being three guys playing two instruments, Baltimore's Double Dagger can sure make a lot of racket. Although all three members happen to be art school students, More (their sophomore release) skips sonic experimentation for a sound that wouldn't feel out of place with some of D.C.'s best hardcore." -David C. Obenour
(corrections - More is Double Dagger's 3rd record (1. self-titled, 2. Ragged Rubble 3. More, not their sophomore release. They are not art school students. Bruce and Nolen make up the awesome graphic design firm Post Typography. -Ed.)Giant Robot #60
Double Dagger - More
"... The power trio's music recalls certain Amphetamine Reptile bands of yesteryear, and I can see Double Dagger being one of the hottest bands in Baltimore. ..." -Eric Nakamura
Wye Oak - The Knot
There is a small profile piece about Wye Oak and their much anticipated upcoming record, The Knot.
"... Songs like 'Take It In' and 'Mary Is Mary' with their dark melodies and foreboding tone, sound as if they belong on a My Bloody Valentine record, while others, like 'Tattoo' and 'Talking About Money' are simple country hymns built on top of a massive wall of sound. ..." -Scott Dudelson
Rye Rye is featured in a pin-up/photo/fashion spread.
"Barely legal rapper Rye Rye likes shaking it to the ground, spitting Baltimore slang, hanging out with M.I.A. and wearing colors bold enough to scar your retinas." -Roxana Hadadi
Death & Taxes #20
Double Dagger - More (3 out of 5 stars)
"Double Dagger boasts the most traditionally punk aesthetic of all the emerging DIY duos and trios that comprise the burgeoning lo-fi noise rock movement. ..." -Brian Merchant
Both Wye Oak and Double Dagger (along with a giant list of Baltimore bands) will be playing at Wham City's Whartscape festival that starts today and runs through Sunday.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
A cult classic comic in collected form! If you remember the old, short-lived Saturday morning cartoon of the same name, or the even shorter-lived live-action sitcom of the same name, you'll love this. The publisher (New England Comics) has been releasing Tick collections, and they're all fun, but if you can only have one, this is the one to have - by Ben Edlund, the creator himself.
Much darker and funnier than anything you've seen on TV, it's framed in almost a sort of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest narrative at the beginning that makes you suspect that while you follow the Tick on all his misadventures, fighting Ninja, saving The City, well, he may just be in a mental ward lock up someplace and we're just seeing his crazed fantasies.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Author of the NY Times bestseller Crooked Little Vein delivers this graphic novel dealing with relatively disturbing ideas. Let's say you are a superhero who truly believes in truth, justice and the American Way. And let's say the President of the United States indulges in torture and illegal wars and gives no-bid contracts to mercenaries who are more interested in enforcing the terms of those contracts than protecting the US Constitution? And when faced with the truth of the situation the American public does nothing about it. What do you do?
Well, in Black Summer, the hero kills the President and insists Americans have another election. As predicted, all kinds of craziness breaks out. His old team comes out of retirement, a new secret team of heroes that are government operatives is activated, and caught in between all his is our military and us.
Freakangels Vol. 1 & 2
by Warren Ellis/Paul Duffield
This is a free weekly ongoing webcomic. But after so many installments, it's collected into a graphic novel, and there are two out so far. The Freakangels are a group of people with unusual and mysterious powers that are protecting a section of a city and it's population in a post-apocalyptic world. Oh, and unbeknownst to those they protect, they are accidentally responsible for the apocalypse. The Freakangels are reminiscent of the Endless from Neil Gaiman's acclaimed Sandman series, but much more human. Some are crazy, some are depraved, and at least one is just plain bad. Paul Duffield's art is subtle but charming - a European style that at first seems plain but then reveals itself to be gorgeous.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
by Harvey Kurtzman / Jack Davis / Will Elder / Al Jaffee / Arnold Roth
Harvey Kurtzman is one of the most important and overlooked comedic influences of the 20th century. He started as the editor-in-chief of a rowdy little magazine called MAD (from 1952-1956). Everyone from Sid Caesar to Mel Brooks to Mort Sahl to Monty Python count him as an influence.
After the initial success of MAD, Kurtzman and some of his key artists were stolen away by Hugh Hefner and Playboy to create a modern, adult satire magazine called Trump (also soon to be collected and published). The problem was they were given too much autonomy: their own offices, an unlimited budget, no deadlines - Hef finally had to pull the plug on Trump after only two issues. But feeling guilty about it, he let the gang keep using the offices. The result was Humbug - one of the earliest comic collectives/creator own endeavors.
Lasting only 11 issues, Humbug might be arguably some of the best illustrated work of Kurtzman's career. Unfortunately, a number of technical and distribution issues sunk it. He would then follow up with Help! which was famous for the talent it gave early exposure to - like Gloria Steinem, Woody Allen, Robert Crumb, and it was were where John Cleese and Terry Gilliam became acquainted (who then went on to form Monty Python).