Kill All Monsters at Emerald City (and other updates)

I’m not at Emerald City Comicon this weekend, but Jason is and he has Kill All Monsters! ashcans and prints (color and extremely limited edition black-and-white) with him. You can find him and KAM letterer (and awesome writer of his own stuff) Ed Brisson at table F-10 in Artist Alley.

As long as I’m on the subject: if you haven’t Liked the KAM Facebook page yet, you totally should. Whenever we hit a Likes milestone, Jason draws a random name and then draws a KAM picture for that person. The one above is the most recent.

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated you on the comic, so let’s do that, too. I’m currently writing the last chapter, but we’re already deep into plans for the return of KAM. I can’t say much yet about what that’ll be like, but I will say that there will be another print version before we relaunch the digital version. Not another ashcan, but that’s all I’ll say about it for now. We’re way excited.

Have a great weekend!

LXB | March Madness: The Winner

For the first three weeks of March, we’re going to answer the question, one match at a time, of who would win if 12 movie tough guys were airdropped into an abandoned city and only one could escape.

Well that wasn’t even close. Between Twitter and here, a little over 70% of you chose Jason Bourne over James Bond as the winner of the final round. The discussion followed my own train of thought pretty closely. On Bond’s side are longevity and – let’s be honest – tenacious loyalty on my part. I’ve been a Bond fan since childhood and it’s painful to admit that a tougher spy may have come along, especially since Daniel Craig  has put the tough back into the character.

However, part of making him tougher is also making him more realistic. Craig’s Bond doesn’t rely on gadgets, so he’s not as ridiculously superheroic as some of the earlier Bonds, but taking away those superpowers does weaken him. Yeah, Craig’s Bond can fight better than any of the previous ones, but he’s still human. I guess I’d compare him to Batman. Roger Moore was the Silver Age version who had a tool for every occasion in that utility belt; Craig is the modern Batman who still has some toys, but relies much more on his brain and his fists.

Bourne, on the other hand, is a machine. I compared him to Captain America at one point and I still think that’s accurate. Bond is as good as a human can get on his own; Bourne had a little help from science to push him over the top. Not into cartoonish territory, but he has the edge on Bond and all else being equal (which I think it pretty much is), he wins.

You didn’t have to vote for the winner to win the contest (I chose a random name out of all the entries), but of course the odds were in favor of that happening. Mark Juelich won the Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers graphic novel and Hanna DVD. Congrats, Mark! I’ll contact you about getting you your prizes.

Thanks for all the great discussion everyone! This was fun! (Incidentally, Brian at Cool and Collected also picked Bourne to win the whole thing, though he got there on a much different route. Other LXB choices for top winner were Ash, John McClane, Bruce Lee, and two votes for Snake Plissken.)

Amulet, Books 1 and 2

While I’m counting up results from the Bond vs Bourne comments, how’s about a quick reading recommendation?

I’m two books into Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series of graphic novels and am plenty impressed. There are a lot of stories in the world about kids and a newly single parent who move to a remote, run-down, inherited estate where they discover a family secret involving dangerous magic. I love that concept more than I usually enjoy the stories that come from it, but Amulet is living up to its potential.

For Emily and her brother, Navin, the magic takes the form of an amulet that gives its bearer strange powers. Unfortunately, another power craves the amulet and abducts the siblings’ mother, transporting her to a fantasy world that’s been overrun by evil elves. The kids go after her and meet their great-grandfather, a dying man with a walking house full of small and cute, but courageous robots. As the kids plan to rescue their mom, they’re also trying to understand this world and why they’ve been pulled into it. Kibuishi does an awesome job filling it with awesome, steampunky architecture and a cast of talking animals and fantasy creatures. I hesitate to compare anyone with Miyazaki (and Kibuishi’s art is stylistically very different from Studio Ghibli’s), but the setting and the epic scope remind me a lot of films like Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away. It’s a world I’m very much enjoying and looking forward to spending more time in.

Wild Boy and the Noble Savage

One of the most difficult things to get right in jungle fiction is portraying people who are indigenous to the setting, especially if you’re a white person who’s writing jungle adventure stories for a predominantly white audience. How do you do that while also sensitively portraying the non-white characters who make up most of the population of the region you’re writing about?

Most agree that making them all savages is out of the question, but the Noble Savage stereotype isn’t cool either; mostly because it’s a stereotype. This Wild Boy story on Comic Book Catacombs is a good example. It shows that the Noble Savage idea isn’t so much racial as cultural. It’s the notion that humans are inherently good and will stay that way unless corrupted by “civilization.” In the comic, that applies to both the indigenous people and the white Wild Boy. In contrast, the White Man’s World – because it’s civilized – corrupts everyone, including the indigenous man who visits it. The problem isn’t racism, it’s using stereotypes in place of characters. All the primitive characters are good; all the civilized characters are bad.

I don’t want to be too hard on the story. It’s a Golden Age comic and those weren’t about characterization. Compared to other Golden Age jungle comics, it’s downright enlightened. But it does illustrate how problematic it is when a writer paints everyone from a certain group – whether racial, cultural, or something else – as being exactly the same. That’s why stereotypes suck. It’s not that you can never write a character who falls into a particular stereotype, it’s just that it’s far more realistic to have characters occasionally buck against expectations. And more interesting too.

It also helps when they wrestle crocodiles and apes, but that’s beside the point.

Ocean skyscrapers, Jurassic Park 3D, and other news

People vs Nature: The Fort

  • As the climate continues to change and the world gets deadlier for humanity, a couple of Ukranian designers have conceived what they believe to be a structure so sturdy that God himself couldn’t sink it. I know I’ve heard that somewhere before… Bold claims aside, I’d totally live in that place.

People vs Nature: The Swim

People vs Nature: The Biopic

  • James Cameron is producing a film about “the love between free divers Francisco ‘Pipin’ Ferraras and his wife Audrey Mestre, and the record-setting attempt that claimed Mestre’s life.” Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Green Lantern) will direct.

People vs Nature: The Tour

  • If you missed out on that Groupon trip to the Titanic wreck, you can still book a similar trip for regular price. Deep Ocean Expeditions will be happy to take you down to 10,000 feet or deeper. All you need is between $30,000 to $375,000 depending on location. The Titanic costs around $60,000, but you can get to the Bismark later this year for less than $48,000. The most expensive one is called 20,000 Leagues Under the Atlantic and allows tourists to “traverse the North Atlantic basin, picking out an undersea route from Europe to North America.”

Remember those photos of the Titanic wreck?

So just what is down there at the bottom of the ocean?

The US Navy wants Robo-Subs

Why giant squids have giant eyes

Floating islands

Speaking of isolated islands

Hanging tents

  • A company called tentsile has invented a cross between a tent and a hammock “to provide separation from wildlife, including insects, snakes and other predators but also from sand storms, earth tremors, cold or wet ground, debris or contamination.” I do most of my camping at the Hyatt, but I still want one.

The River could join Terra Nova at Netflix

If you want to watch something about a river… 

Tarzan trading cards

Reading List: Becky Cloonan’s The Mire

Jurassic Park 3D