Random Ramblings about Things and Whatever

Random Ramblings about Things and Whatever

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Random Comics Review: Vertigo Pop! London #3, 2003

This is the third issue of a four issue mini series by Peter Milligan and Phillip Bond about an over the hill 60's rock god that switches bodies with an up and coming contemporary pop star (thru a magic bong). Rocky is the aged rock and Sean is the pop star Rocky plans to use.The intent is to take Sean's body in order to become a celebrity again. Of course nothing goes as planned.

In this issue Rocky and his current wife Trixie carry out the plan. Things seem to go smoothly at first. Sean/Rocky is placed in a mental hospital, because no one of course believes his absurd story that he's the real Sean Cody. Rocky/Sean begins recording a new album. He and his wife Trixie have a renewed sex life. However, things soon begin to misfire. Rocky/Sean is able to see from an outsiders view the people he's hurt over his life including his first wife and daughter. Rocky/Sean also has to deal with the seedier aspects of Sean's life that lie just beneath the surface of Sean's pretty boy image.

The story by Peter Milligan is told briskly with humor and punch. There's a knowing wink and nudge towards classic rock, the swinging 60's Mod scene, and 90's Brit Pop without throwing in over obvious parodies. The character are well rounded and the ones that aren't likable are at least funny. The art by Phillip Bond is well suited for this story. It strikes just the right balance between cartoony and ..I wouldn't say realistic, maybe naturalistic?

Vertigo Pop!London is fun romp. A fine comic to give to someone who might want to read comics,but not interested in superheroes or horror or science fiction.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Comics Review:The Complete Cheech Wizard #3,1987

The Complete Cheech Wizard was a comic published by Rip Off Press (the publishers of The Fabulous Furry Freak Bros.) that reprinted the 70's work of underground cartoonist Vaughn Bode. It's basically a baudy gag strip about a foul-mouthed wizard, his lizard assistant and the various inhabitants of their make believe forest. It's a little like a dirty version of Pogo by Walt Kelly. Vaughn's work heavy influenced some 80's graphitti artists as well as a film by Ralph Bashki named "Wizards".

This issue is interesting because it contains some revealing background information. Not only does it have pages from Vaughn's sketch book there's also samples of a cleaned up version of the strip that Vaughn tried to sell to the syndicate for family newspapers called The Yellow Hat! There's also a nice written tribute by Larry Todd. Not too many many depictions of "Bode Broads" in this issue but there's still a mature readers label probably because of the language and uh, tiny cartoon lizard penis.

So, not quite a definitive look at influential artist, but an very intriguing peak at what he was about. This might be fun too...

Yeah, NOT exactly intellectual, but well, uh...er...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Random Record Review: "Photograph" Def Leppard 1983

Credited to: Allen,Clark,Elliot,Lange,Savage,Willis.
From the album Pyromania.

I am not a big fan of this band, but I do kinda like this song. I was going to attempt to do this whole intellectual deconstruction of the song, but the truth is I don't know that much about music theory and the only real reason I like this song is the simplest: It's a hum-able catchy do-dad. This song is bubble gum metal at it's tastiest and it's chewiest!

First the listener is drawn in by a slinky seductive hard rock riff. Like the bastard child of 70's metal made pretty by 80's gloss. A simple drum beat lays the foundation on which the band builds a mighty tower of unrequited desire. Joe's voice full of yearning and youthful exuberance struts in with bravado beyond it's station and tells his tale of woe (ok,time to stifle these metaphors).

Supposedly,this song was inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Uh,ok...I couldn't tell by the lyrics, but... ok. Can someone explain to me what "passion killer" refers to? Is it supposed to be Joe because he can't have Marilyn? It can't mean Marilyn because I would think photos of Monroe would stir up one's passion not kill it.

Now getting to the good stuff, "Ooh,Ooh! Look what you've done to this rock n roll clown!" When I first heard this line I thought it was "Nuthin' too wild for a rock n roll town!" Then I found out what the real words were. I was disappointed, it went from a declaration of hard rock "Bad-itude" to Joe declaring himself a mope. Sheesh! And of course the chorus is one of the greatest hooks of the era. Best sing-songy chorus the band has ever had and why "Photograph" is one of the best POP songs of the 80's. Taylor Swift new it and so do you. After one listen you can sing the chorus, your mom can sing the chorus your kids can sing the chorus! Think they're gonna remember that Jonas Bros album you bought them? No! But they WILL remember THIS hook 20 years later if you just play it for them once! Don't forget other shining moments; the best bridge ever, "You've gone straight to my Heaaad!" Joe holding that note like a man on a mission, a slick 80's melodic guitar solo by Phil that's just tasteful enuff, a now it's back to the damn catchy "Oh,Oh" chorus! Classic fade out...the song never ends. It goes on forever...in your head.

uh,the music video for this song is one of the tackiest things ever committed to film.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Random Comics Review:Kazar the Savage #23,1983

Ok, we get two stories in this one. The art in the main feature is by Bob Hall and Armando Gil and the art in the second is by Val Mayerik. The writing in both is by Bruce Jones.

The first story opens in Casablanca as Kazar is chasing a man to steal a package from him. Kazar beats up some thugs who are also after the same package. Kazar grabs the package and takes it to a man in a bar. The package is a secret explosive. We also meet the man's boss, an evil woman named Ramona. We learn that she is an ex-A.I.M agent who's behind this all. She and her men previously captured Kazar and placed a device in his head that forces him to don their bidding. There's a cameo by Spiderman. Shanna is staying with Peter Parker and thinks that Kazar is dead as a result of a previous fight with Kraven the Hunter ( or something). The story ends to be continued as Kazar and Romona are crossing the dessert about to be ambushed by other bad guys.

It would be interesting to see how certain aspects of this story would be received today. At one point Romona tries to seduce Kazar. When he rejects her, she threaten to activate the device in Kazar's brain. Nothing is explicit is shown or stated. The reader is left to infer what happened, but essentially Romona coerced Kazar into having sex with her. I believe many people today would consider this rape. The story doesn't seem to treat this like that big of a deal. Kazar is shook up a little, but the story treats it like just another rotten thing he had to do along with stealing and beating people up.

Another interesting thing and it's so obvious that I'm not sure if it's a mistake or if it was done on purpose. When Kazar is in the streets fighting and running he's barefoot. When he meets his contact at the bar, he's wearing shoes. There's a caption at the top of the panel that reads "And shortly..." suggesting some time has passed, but is the reader supposed to think that Kazar just stopped at a store somewhere and purchased some footwear?

The back up story is Tales of Zabu. It's a past tale of Kazar as a boy. Basically, a cave man stabs Zabu the Saber-tooth tiger with a spear and kidnaps young Kazar to raise as his own. It ends with a page depicting Zabu laying on the ground with a spear sticking out of him as the rain falls. It's corny but um, kinda sad.

All in all, not groundbreaking but a solid old school adventure comic.With a little bronze age campiness (some intentional some not) thrown in.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Random Comics review:Scarlet #1,2010

Ok, I have mixed feelings about this comic. As a comic book it's decent. Actually, it's pretty good.The comic is written by Brian Michael Bendis and the art is by Alex Maleev. The dialogue is solid and the art is GREAT, but as a piece of art that is part of the zeitgeist, I have some questions about it.

The story is set in modern day Portland,OR. Scarlet is a young woman who's has just killed an corrupt policeman. She turns to the reader and tells us her story. She explains that the system is rigged to favor the corrupt and the rich. The system is broken she informs us and she means to fix it. Here Bendis does well in what is really his forte, introspective character driven pieces. We learn a little about Scarlet's background and we completely understand her perspective. We understand her doubts and questions, we understand her ambitions. All in all it's a decent set up for future issues.

The art by Maleev is FANTASTIC. It is really wonderful to look at. It is gritty and "realistic" yet at the same impressionistic. I don't know to what extent Maleev uses modern tools like photo refs,computers or photoshop, but it seems he uses them extremely well. As a reader I'm pulled into the visual world he's created. I don't think, "where'd he trace that from". I'm going to embarrass myself with this comparison, but it it's like old school hip-hop. The best DJs and producers were able to take samples you knew and make something fresh and unique out of them. That's how I feel looking at Maleev's pages. I know that's a model and there's a city scape he pulled from somewhere, but he makes it work and I buy it for the duration of the story.

Here's where I have issues. In the back matter, the interview with Brian Bendis where he talks about the inspiration for the story, he talks about what volatile times we live in. He mentions revolution. He mentions political protests that occur in Portland and says something like "yeah, what if some of these people instead of protesting peacefully took up arms?" My question is "what do you mean WHAT IF? People do that NOW! On the left and the right. What about the protests at the G-8 summits where police have to be called in because of anarchists vandalizing property? What about those "christians" who wanted to kill policemen and then kill more at the funeral because they wanted to strike at the government? Don't tell me you've forgotten about Tim McVeigh...But he story on the pages could be any vigilante action movie superhero origin story from the last 30 years. It seems that Bendis wants to have his revolution icing and eat his non-political cake at the same time. On the one hand I can understand not wanting to do a comic that's a preachy manifesto, but why talk up your story as if it's got something important to say about the times we live in if you don't have some point you're trying to make? Hell, 40 years ago Stan Lee had no problem addressing social concerns in Marvel comics. Whether it was fighting the communists, dealing with racism or drugs, or acknowledging Viet Nam in his stories. Some of those stories may have been naive, but at least Stan was willing to present a point of view.

So, yeah...as a comic book, Scarlet #1 is a good solid set up to an urban action thriller. I'll probably pick up the next few issues to see where it's going. As a work of art that reflect the times it was created in...meh.