Justice League Via Dresden Codak

On the podcast, we’ve talked about the whole DC Comics messing around with all their comics and characters and starting everything back at issue one, and I have to say I’m more than a little skeptical about the whole enterprise. Meanwhile, over at Aaron Diaz’s art blog (Diaz being the artist and author of the excellent webcomic Dresden Codak — which I really don’t read often enough), he’s come up with his own versions of all the main DC characters. And not just new costumes, but whole new origin stories and character concepts. It’s a real reboot, not this half-assed rejig that DC did.

Personally, I’d be much more interested in cracking a superhero comic again if this Diaz kid was in charge of everything.

(And check out that Superman costume. No underpants on the outside but I like it. Eh? Eh? Steve?)

Diaz’s last post in the series is where DC comics reboots Dresden Codak. DC has (rightly) been taking a lot of heat for rebooting their female characters as hypersexual, nerd-boy fantasy chicks. (Here is an essential read on the subject. Here too.) Diaz nicely skewers them for it.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode 09: The Truth Is A Lie

This week, on prairie dog‘s most podcasty audio entertainment, we take a tour of Harbour Landing and wonder, what does this town have against pedestrians?

Also, we look at Shane and ask, why is he looking so haggard? Does it have anything to do with DC Comic’s reboot?

Then, another installment of Shit We Haven’t Seen. Did you know sci-fi superstar Orson Scott Card rewrote Hamlet for a modern audience? Did you know Hamlet is all about the evil gay agenda? Well, that’s what Card says. Aidan responds.

Also, we announce the winners of last episode’s big contest and get another update on Capital Pointe.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode 09 — The Truth Is A Lie: At the table, Aidan Morgan (host), Shane Hnetka and me. Music by the Lazy MKs. Runtime: 30 min fusty ruminations, 7 min 31 sec frantic tirades.

To download, click on the radio or the link above. Be sure to catch up on all your ultrasonic listening by checking out our episode archive.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode 08: Don’t Eat The Salmon, Moose

This week, Aidan was waylaid by zombies and Shane was busy astral projecting, so joining me in the Ultrasonic Alarm Call’s ultraswank podcasting module was Cookie Madill and, on guest hosting duties, Stephen Whitworth.

On the agenda: Does Regina hate renters? We go to city hall to find out. Does Regina hate pop music and joy? We listen to a couple tracks off the new Library Voices’ CD, Summer of Lust, then wonder how that could be possible.

Then, does Regina hate Superman’s new costume? And, is Whitworth weirdly obsessed with that question? I’m guessing yes on both counts.

That’s a lot of hate for one podcast. Fortunately, Ultrasonic Alarm Call is all about love and we balance all that hate with two installments of Cooking With Cookie! What does roller derby’s culinary terror have in store for us this week? Listen to find out.

Plus, we have another giveaway which we’re calling New Contest, Old Prize! This time, we have an audio riddle for you to solve! Listen close and win some swag!

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode 08: Don’t Eat The Salmon, Moose! At the table, Stephen Whitworth (host), Cookie Madill and me. Runtime 47 min essential listening, 36 sec incoherent blubbering. Music by the Lazy MKs.

Yesterday Superman, Today Catwoman

The first photo of Anna Hathaway in Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is out and I like it better than no-shorts Superman. From Dark Horizons, my go-tp movie news site for probably a decade now:

Half hidden by the Batpod, what we can see of the bodysuit seems fine. The great looking goggles of the comic have been replaced by less interesting and more conventional looking military-style ones, and there’s no hint of a hood with or without cat ears.

More here and here. And here’s the photo! Thoughts?

Lights…Camera…Action Comics #1!

Hey, look! It’s the first public image of Henry Cavill as Superman from the upcoming Man of Steel movie. First impression from this Supermaniac? That’s a lot of hair. Second impression? The textured rubber kinda looks like sequins, which gives Superman a distinctly disco shimmer. I can get behind that. Third impression? The pleats give the cape the effect of looking like movie house curtains.

Frankly, the costume is too busy. Whenever I see superhero costumes full of pockets, piping, or panels I get depressed. Superman’s costume is the way it is for some very practical reasons. The red, blue and yellow made the best use of the four-colour printing techniques of the 1930s. The cape gave the artist a visual shorthand for conveying a sense of motion, which Superman was almost always in a state of during his early appearances in Action Comics. Luckily, Cavill’s Man-of-Steely gaze is convincing enough to draw your attention away from the overdone costume. Here’s some words from Cavill on fitting inside the suit (Dark Horizons).

So That’s What Happened To My Old Alpha Flights… [UPDATED]

Toronto pop punk trio Courage My Love has at least four things going for them:
1. They’re named after a Tragically Hip lyric based on Hugh MacLennan’s CanLit classic The Watch That Ends The Night. EDIT: Whoops, there I go presuming things. I’m way off here. Commenter JB correctly points below out that, according Courage My Love’s own website, their name is taken from a line in the 1936 movie Things to Come, based on the H.G. Wells novel and not on a Tragically Hip lyric, which, for the record, is “Courage, my word”. They get to keep the point because H.G. Wells and old movies are cool.
2. They are young enough to pull off their asymmetrical haircuts.
3. They out-Avril anything the former Mrs. Whibley has done lately.
4. They made this really fun video:

Props to The Snipe for finding the vid first.

UPDATE: A veritable Legion of Super-Walter Flanagan Fans insists that credit be given to one Walter Flanagan, podcaster and comic seller, who wrote the lyrics to “I Sell Comics”. Flanagan is credited for such twice in the video. Should Mr. Flanagan wish to advertise his podcast or comic shop on the Dog Blog, there should be a link on the right side of this page that can get him in touch with prairie dog’s irreproachable advertising team.

Pick O’ The Day 2: Comic Book Convention

“What th’? There’s a comic book convention on June 26? In Regina? At the Hungarian Club? Where? 1925 McAra? Balls! From 11am to 4pm? The hell, you say!”

That is an exact and accurate transcript of my response to a random chap-in-the-street informing me (last night) about today’s Pile O’Bones Comic Convention and Pop Culture Fair. Apparently, there’s a nerdy event going on in Regina and nobody thought to tell me. Why? Because I wouldn’t be interested? Clearly that must be the case because only a mere one in three of our podcast topics involves comics (like this week’s, for instance, which deals with the DC Universe reboot as well as the evolving plans for the RPL main branch). And I walk around every day in Clark Kent cosplay. But that must be because, you know, I’m a city hall nerd. Not a normal nerdy nerd. So who’d want me at their comic fair?

That said, you should definitely check out the Pile O’Bones Comic Convention, today. Because Regina has a thriving and talented comic arts community and they deserve your love. And your $1. Because that’s all it costs to get in. Unless you go in costume. Then it’s free.

Now, I’m off to see if they’ll let Clark Kent in for nothing.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode 04: Reboots

Turning it off and turning it back on again. It’s the cure-all for our time. And this week, instead of starting from scratch ourselves, we’re looking at two reboots the respective rebooters hope will solve all the world’s problems.

First up, the continuing saga of Regina Public Library’s downtown branch. We were just supposed to be getting a revamped central library but the RPL board secretly toggled the on/off switch on that plan and now we’re getting something much bigger and much grander.

Why the change? Why all the secrecy? Who made the Masons cross? Plus! Are animatronics really better than books? We think so and you’ll just have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

In the second half: DC Comics plans to reboot their entire line of funny books. Will the new DC be superpowered or superdumb-as-turds? Plus, what does all this mean for digital publishing and summer movies? And! Are there any parallels between the DC Comics and RPL situations?

As it turns out, yes. And you might call that alarming.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call Episode Four — Reboots: Looking for a good jumping on point? Consider this episode your number one. At the table, Aidan Morgan (host), Shane Hnetka and me. Music, as always, by the very awesome Lazy MKs. Runtime: 35m 11s.

To download, click on the link or radio above.

You can also listen to other episodes of this podcast by clicking on our spiff new link button on the right side of the page. Or by clicking here.

This Is Mine And You Can’t Have It

Lookie! I’m holding an advance press copy of Canadian cartooning god Chester Brown’s autobiographical new book, Paying For It. It’s about about the cartoonist’s experiences buying sex. The foreword’s by Robert Crumb. Crumb! Zow!

Brown’s last book, you might recall, was a comic biography of Louis Riel, which was a prairie dog cover story waaay back in 2003. This new book  looks amazing. We’re working on getting Carle (who’s hiding out in Toronto these days) an in-person interview with Chester (who lives in T.O.) for a feature in an upcoming issue.

Paying For It arrives at comic shops, libraries and interloping book and music stores in May (my comic shop connection says Wednesday the 25th). Alas, Regina’s not on the launch tour.

(Photo by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography)

Coming soon: Zach Worton’s The Klondike

Face it, people who have–at any point–lived in Regina are the bomb.

The latest erstwhile Reginan to do something colossally awesome is Zach Worton. His graphic novel debut The Klondike will hit the shelves in March, and his publisher, Montreal’s Drawn & Quarterly (arguably the most prestigious comics publisher in North America), has posted some preview pages on their blog. Very impressive stuff.

Regina no doubt remembers Zach from his string of chart-topping garage rock bands the Negatives, the Real Slow Drag and the Blackelles. Zach even did some illustration work for prairie dog back in the day. You might say we discovered him. It would be a gross exaggeration, unfair to Zach and the many hours of hard work he’s devoted to his craft. But there are two ways to react to the success of a friend, you can be hideously jealous or you can take undue credit. We like to think we’re taking the high road on this one.

Geek Philosophy; or, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Avengers Mansion

Patton Oswalt, the American comedian perhaps best remembered for his supporting role on the long-running sitcom King of Queens, wrote recently for Wired that it is time for Geek Culture to die. Oswalt, who has devoted no small part of his professional life to catering to the geeks (he wrote a terrific fan’s-eye-view of superheroes in the graphic novel Justice League of America: Welcome to the Working Week–scoring bonus nerd points by referencing a song by nerd icon Elvis Costello), says:

everyone has easy access to their favorite diversions and every diversion comes with a rabbit hole’s worth of extra features and deleted scenes and hidden hacks to tumble down and never emerge from, then we’re all just adding to an ever-swelling, soon-to-erupt volcano of trivia, re-contextualized and forever rebooted. We’re on the brink of Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was—Available Forever.

The modern Geek is kind of a Bizarro World inversion of the Hipster. Where Hipsters shy away from such nomenclature, Geeks have embraced their term, and in turn, they have diluted the idea of Geekdom. Originally, the word geek referred to the guy in the circus sideshow who opened the performance by biting the head off the chicken. Unless you actually were a geek, it wasn’t a way you wanted people to think of you. Eventually, geek has come to refer to anyone who is especially knowledgeable or enthusiastic about a certain subject. Not too long ago, that actually meant something. It took some effort to become a geek. When I was a young comic nerd, I spent long winter days absorbing Ron Goulart’s Great History of Comic Books by Ron Goulart (who else?) or Michael L. Fleisher’s The Encyclopedia of Comic Heroes Volume Three: Superman (also known as The Great Superman Book) at the Frances Morrison Library in Saskatoon. It wasn’t particularly hard work, but it took some effort. The upstairs non-fiction section was my refuge from the casual violence and daily humiliation of the sixth and seventh grades. My growing knowledge of comic books and comic book history was something I quickly learned to share only with my immediate family, lest I give my tormentors at school (classmates and teachers alike) more ammunition. Getting through the Eighties, that was an accomplishment.

Nowadays, though, you can use your iPad to scroll through an impressively thorough Plot Summary of the Kree-Skrull War on Wikipedia without even getting out of bed. Nowadays–at least in Vancouver–you have billboards featuring a dude wearing a Green Lantern shirt every four kilometres, advertising a crap TV show that seemingly does not revolve around said dude in a Green Lantern shirt getting a punch in the arm every time he walks past certain classmates.

The Nineties, for me, brought on puberty, increased hygiene & social skills, and I drifted out of comic book nerdery and into music geekdom. When I eventually found my way back to comic book circles, in the mid-2000s, I barely recognized it. Ideas that had once been relegated to the backpage letter columns of comic books were now mega-budget Hollywood blockbusters. You could now buy Fantastic Four t-shirts in women’s sizes. Fast forward to the summer of 2010, and no less a monolithic corporate behemoth than Warner Bros is trotting out a life-sized replica of the corpse of Abin Sur–a figure from the most secret place of my pre-adolescent imagination–to drum up excitement for next summer’s action movie crapfest starring the soon-to-be-former Mr. Scarlett Johansson. I don’t know man, when Van Wilder starts talking to Entertainment Tonight about the Guardians of Oa, it starts to feel like all those beatings I took in 1989 count for nothing anymore.

“Etewaf doesn’t produce a new generation of artists—just an army of sated consumers,” says Oswalt. But here’s the thing, if Everything That Ever Was really is available, why has Hollywood made a movie based on the current, totally boring, Geoff Johns iteration of Green Lantern when it would be just as easy, and more exhilarating to use the earlier, more elegant Gil Kane stuff (seen below)?

But I’m off track here…

Oswalt says Geek Culture Must Die! because we’ve disappeared so far up our the Sanctum Santorum of our unceded childhood that we may have lost the ability or the drive to Create. New. Things.

The coming decades—the 21st-century’s ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s—have the potential to be one long, unbroken, recut spoof in which everything in Avatar farts while Keyboard Cat plays eerily in the background.

I dunno if you’ve read any DC Comics lately, but that’s pretty much what it’s become. Oswalt’s solution–which, being a good nerd, I won’t spoil–involves lists, lists of lists, and Steve Ditko’s Shade the Changing Man.

Of course, Oswalt’s satirical diatribe has found its mark. Professional Geek Harry Knowles, of the ugliest website in Space Sector 2814 Ain’t It Cool News, has written a rebuttal, which you may choose to read at your own risk of eye-and-brain-strain here. Knowles’s argument is pretty much unassailable because, well, see for yourself:

GEEK CULTURE is fine, I say this because the same folks that didn’t love TRON for the past 28 years – are the leaders of the minority vocal opinion on the film.

So there you have it. To me, the argument is moot. Geeks and nerds are passé; the future belongs to the dorks, and especially the Dorkbots.

Dorkbot Ensemble from Neutral Ground on Vimeo.

Saturday Afternoon Cartoonists: Sergio Aragonés


Shane is taking a well-deserved rest after two years of Saturday Morning Cartoons on the Dog Blog, but there’s no reason we can’t still enjoy some juvenile kicks during the first half of the weekend.
I stumbled across this recent National Post Q&A with legendary Mad Magazine cartoonist Sergio Aragonés while trying to catch up on my habitual Internet-related time-wasting that I forsook over the holidays.
Sergio Aragonés is one of the most prolific and most hilarious cartoonists of our time. In additional to his marginal humour in Mad, Aragonés has written or drawn comics for both Marvel and DC Comics in humour, western and horror genres. His Groo The Wanderer series is perhaps the second best long-running, creator-owned, Conan the Barbarian satire of all time (after Dave Sim‘s Cerebus). And he may have killed Marty Feldman.

Here’s part one of a weird chat show featuring Stan Lee interviewing Aragonés: