Monthly Archives: December 2008

Freddie Hubbard, Rest in Peace

My true “heroes” are guys and gals who don’t fear bucking the system in search of their own creative identity.

With that in mind, here’s one of those heroes, the now departed jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, kicking it during a reunion with Herbie Hancock and the gang (the “gang” being Tony Williams, Joe Henderson and Ron Carter) performing the immortal “Cantaloupe Island.” Please do yourself a favor and check it out:

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Does Crime Pay?

At the risk of jinxing things (no one ever talks about projects in the proposal stage, for some reason), Ramón Pérez and I are working toward putting together a new crime book for a particular publisher.  I think it should be obvious that crime fiction in various mediums has been a big influence on me, and while I suppose you could call HAWAIIAN DICK a “crime comic,” I’ve been mulling over a full-fledged leap into the genre for some time now.

At their best, crime comics have provided the medium with some of their highest artistic peaks. EC’s crime comics rose above most of the sensational stuff that dominated the racks in the fifties, and David Lapham’s STRAY BULLETS is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive achievements in modern comics history.

Obviously, Brubaker and Rucka have put their stamp on crime comics, as has Azzarello. Seeing Brubaker and Phillips work their asses off to make CRIMINAL a success has been inspiring. The same could be said of Ellis and Templesmith with FELL, which is easily one of my favorite Ellis books, and probably the best thing Ben’s ever done. I also think THE HUMAN TARGET was a Vertigo high point of the past few years, and I’m looking forward to checking out some of their new “Crime Line” OGNs, a few of which are being handled by good pals. And what is SCALPED, if not a crime book? There are a bunch of “modern” crime books listed on my message board: http://www.imagecomics.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?t=44321

In any event, here’s hoping this one flies. In my head I see it shaping up as the biggest thing I’ve done, in terms of where I’d like to take it, and what kind of emotional resonance I’d like it to possess. It’s clearly a crime book, but it’s also a character study, and, honestly, it’s exceptionally rare that we see effective character studies in genre comics. I’m not exactly sure why that is. Maybe it’s because writers are resistant to fully developing a character, knowing that the evolution might throw readers used to following characters stuck in a permanent status quo. I don’t really know.

But my biggest influence of late has been the British television model for drama, which is all about character arcs and evolution. When I was a kid in Dallas, I hooked into a couple of British comedies (Doctor in the House and The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin) that moved from series to series, pushing characters forward until an actual conclusion was reached. In the same way,  the books that thrilled me the most when I was young (Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and C.S. Lewis’s the Chronicles of Narnia) featured characters that grew over the course of several books. In a way, I’ve slowly tried to do the same thing with HAWAIIAN DICK, but it’s been hard to maintain much flow on that book, in case you haven’t noticed…

I won’t say too much more, but I think we’ve got a good hook, a great protagonist, and, you know…one of the best artists in comics, whose sensibilities line up nicely with my own. So keep your ears large for developments and wish us luck…

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Have a Four Color Christmas

The sentimental sap inside wants to share some holiday love from the back bins.

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Grant Bond’s Dick Take

I’m not sure if “flattered” is the right word, but I can’t say he didn’t nail us. KC artist Grant Bond serves up this portrait of the original Hawaiian Dick team:

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March Solicits: Black Vault #1

From Top Cow: BLACK VAULT #1

Written by B. Clay Moore, art by Nelson Blake II, cover by Jeremy Haun.

From Kickstart Productions, B. Clay Moore, the creator and writer of Hawaiian Dick, and new talent Nelson Blake II comes a gripping tale of torture, terror and the threat of nuclear annihilation…set in deep space.

When the astronauts aboard the International Space Station help install a state-of-the-art weather observation satellite, everything seems perfectly routine…until the screaming begins. Now it’s up to the ISS crew to face down the threat, and the stakes are higher than they could ever imagine.

32 pages, $2.99

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Mix Disc: The Best of 2008

I should note that some of my favorite discs from the year aren’t represented for various reasons. Sometimes because the whole of the record works better for me personally than individual tracks do, and sometimes just because I couldn’t decide between cuts.

In perusing this year’s “best of” lists, I think a lot of killer stuff is being neglected, so I stretched my mix out over two discs:

2008: Shading Dark Toward the Light

DISC ONE

  1. Victoria’s Secret by Quiet Village
  2. Someone’s Gotta Change Your Mind by Lindsey Buckingham
  3. Taking Tips From the Gallery G by Bound Stems
  4. Feel the Love by Cut Copy
  5. Two Daughters And a Beautiful Wife by Drive-By Truckers
  6. Ponce de Lone Ave. by Butch Walker
  7. Quiet Houses by Fleet Foxes
  8. Red Tide by Foxboro Hot Tubs
  9. Paper Planes by I’m From Barcelona
  10. Rockferry by Duffy
  11. These Days by Glen Campbell
  12. Climbing Up Fire Escapes by Head of Femur
  13. Working Poor by Horse Feathers
  14. Pain Song by It’s a Musical
  15. Bubbles by James
  16. So Small by Jim Guthrie
  17. Brand New Start by Little Joy
  18. Disappear by Pacific!
  19. Bye Bye Bye by Plants and Animals
  20. The Show by Lenka

 DISC TWO

  1. Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head) by Ben Folds
  2. Go Go Go by the 88
  3. The Step and the Walk by The Duke Spirit
  4. What Is Happening? By Alphabeat
  5. Sleepytime in the Western World by Blitzen Trapper
  6. Can You Tell by Ra Ra Riot
  7. Dance ‘til We’re High by The Fireman
  8. Cellulose Sunshine by Stereolab
  9. Sweet Darlin’ by She & Him
  10. You Are the Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne
  11. Who Are You Now by the Boticellis
  12. My Mistakes Were Made For You by the Last Shadow Puppets
  13. Houses by Vetiver
  14. The Good Old Days by the Lodger
  15. The Stations by the Gutter Twins
  16. Straight ‘Til Sunrise by Barry Adamson
  17. Boy, Did She Teach You Nothing? by Absentee
  18. Sultan by What Made Milwaukee Famous
  19. Two Girl Area by Boston Spaceships
  20. Singing to the Earth (To Thank Her for You) by Apollo Sunshine
  21. Freeway by Aimee Mann
  22. Stay Free by Black Mountain

 

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2008 in review: JSA Classified 35-37

One of the finished projects I’m happiest about is the three-part Wildcat story that Ramon Perez and I collaborated on in JSA CLASSIFIED this year. Jann Jones and Dan Didio has approached me about doing some DC work , and given me some options. Dan mentioned a Batman story that sounded up my alley, but when the JSA came up, I decided I had to be true to myself. Ever since I first stumbled across the JSA in a slightly beat to hell copy of this book in a childhood friend’s collection:

I was hooked on the JSA. Partly because I was dying to know about all this existing history the story hinted at, and partly just because these characters all seemed both unique and familiar at the same time. I assume my next exposure to them was in one of the old JLA/JSA crossovers, although I can’t really remember. In any event, being asked to write a Wildcat story that would help define the character, and act as a potential launching pad into a new book, was more than I could ask for.

Ultimately, that new book never happened for this reason or that, but I’m still elated that I was able to bring Ramon in on the story (on pencils and inks), and that Dave McCaig was hauled in to color. Full credit to editor Mike Siglain for being so easy to work with. In the end, I think we told one of the best solo Wildcat stories in years, and the feedback from fans was phenomenal. Beau Smith wrote an insanely flattering review of the book in his Busted Knuckles column, that meant a lot because it was clear he completely got what we were going for. (http://www.comicsbulletin.com/busted/121341903078446.htm scroll down to the “Roundup”)

Ramon and I have been kicking around collaborating together for years. At one point we had discussed a superhero book, and he had worked up character designs, and I’d even scripted the first issue:

 Scheduling conflicts never saw us get past that point, although some of the characters we developed for that book will pop up elsewhere. Later, I scripted a short Hawaiian Dick backup for Ramon, and I think there’s a chance that one’ll see the light of day sooner or later. Ramon did contribute this brilliant Dick pinup to one of our earlier issues: 

In any event, if you haven’t read the Wildcat story, I’d encourage you to track it down. If for no other reason, than to see what I think is the definitive visual take on Wildcat (not to mention what Ramon did with Alan Scott and Catwoman):

For what it’s worth, I can’t say whether Ramon and I will ever get to collaborate on DCU characters again (we’d both be willing), but we are talking about putting something new together that might angle in a slightly different direction.

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