Canadian musician, singer and songwriter Lights will be adding comic book writer and artist to her repertoire on July 12th. The two time Juno award winning artist has something very special planned for the release of her fourth album; Lights will be writing and drawing a comic series called Skin & Earth. Each issue will be accompanied by new music until finally, the series and full length album by the same name, are completely released.
As stated previously Batman has always been a pretty great barometer of popular culture and how that translates to film can always be measured by the music used. In film and television music is used to set the mood and tone (unless your film is No Country For Old Men being that it is way to fucking awesome for any music that has ever been created) and the Batman movies are no different. Before Christopher Nolan took them in a sort of dark/modern pseudo Michael Manesque direction Batman on film used all kinds of different music in parlance with the time it was created and the style of the film. This is going to be an examination of the good, the bad and the terrible in Batman soundtracks over the years. Some of these songs were my jams as a kid, some are pretty emberrasing and some are still my jams now. More then anything what it shows is that Batman has always been big business in the entertainment industry and record labels where as willing to cash in on Bat’s and friends just as fast as the movie/television studios. This is a selection of Batman tunes that I think illustrate the evolution of the film soundtracks over the years.
If you haven’t yet I urge you to read Rast recounting his upbringing as a graffiti writer and head of NYC’s legendary RFC crew as it’s a sobering and heartfelt mediation on graffiti/hip hop/drug culture, early 90’s New York City and growing up in poverty. I fashioned myself a tagger back in high school looking up to these NYC guys whose spreads I would see online or in Life Sucks Die (still the greatest print mag of all time) I had no idea that these guys were about that life like that. Again I did a little tagging but wasn’t really talented enough to do anything noteworthy. Reading comics you see certain guys whose style look pretty close to graf and were probably doing that back in the day. Skottie Young for sure. Maybe Joe Maud & McFarlene. Current guys like Kaare Andrews, James Stokoe, Brandon Graham (pretty much the whole Prophet team really), Tradd Moore, Michele Fiffe should’ve tagged if they didn’t. I’m surprised that the culture hasn’t intersected more often or that there isn’t more talk of it. It’s seems like a natural progression with the shape and colors and you can certainly see the influence comics had on graf from guys like Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Bill Sienkieze, Sam Keith, Chris Bachalo, John Romita Jr., Jim Starlin, Walt Simonson and Frank Miller in a lot of ways. Graf and comic art are very similar in that they require a high degree of natural skills and it allows for an unlimited level of creativity within very specific parameters. So if your an aspiring comics writer with no art skills I think there’s an artist near you for your comic. Just look at your local train yards, highway underpasses or under a bridge. You might see the next comic rock stars work there waiting for you.
DC made a big splash this week with three new television shows getting picked up while having several more in development from Vertigo, Wildstorm and the DC main line of superhero comics. This actually looks like the best possible move for DC to expand it’s brand by utilizing its vast resources of characters. No matter how much DC tries to retro fit all of their properties into one cohesive universe it’s never going to feel organic and always be awkward on some level. You can try and shoehorn an assortment of different comics idea’s from varying time periods but in the end Stormwatch doesn’t make sense when you have multiple Justice Leagues, Harley Quinn ruins Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing is deluded when you cross him over with Aquaman and no matter how hard they try nobody cares about Grifter. All these comics benefit by existing as their own entities and by selling television shows to multiple networks DC’s television shows can do that. The Question doesn’t need to be in Arrows world and Constantine won’t have a special mission in the Batman less Gotham. While the rush to form the Justice League in film sounds messy, rushed and convoluted years before it’s release allowing their TV shows to exist as their own entities (and adapting the Vertigo properties) allows for the brand to expand without diluting it. It’s what DC did best as a comic book publisher and it now they can at least get it back with television. Just keep Dan DiDio away from it.
I don’t usually like to give props to our competition here at NBC but I gotta say slow clap for Jonah Welland reformating the forums at CBR this week. For those that don’t know writer and former DC Editor Jane Asselin wrote about how shitty the cover for New Teen Titans rightfully noting how stupid it was to draw a teenage girls boob bigger then her head among many other criticisms. Brett Booth was upset by this and called her out on twitter basically because Brett Booth is a fucking pussy and from there all hell broke lose. In addition to being a contributing writer Jane also was compiling a study on sexual harassment in comics which offered a public survey and the piece of shit contingent of humanity connected to the internet decided it was a reasonable idea to threaten her with rape, publish her private information online and hack into her bank account. And then we had this bullshit happened. And of course the idiot brigade came out in full force on the cbr forums. They’ve been shut down so you’ll to use your imagination for the type of idiocy it takes to defend rape threats, the new teen titans cover, that shitty t-shirt and people that don’t hate coffee. Jonah could have looked the other way. Purely based on site metrics, the primary means to draws revenue out of a content producing web site, it would make sense in the short term to look the other way. But he didn’t. He runs what is probably the largest and most comprehensive comic website on the internet and put a clear line in the sand; dickbags not welcome. That is some fucking g-shit. That takes a real man to stare into the abyss and tell the abyss to go fuck itself when it stares back. That’s a real fucking man. Brian Michael Bendis had a great interview with Vulture this week touching on his career in comics. It’s fantastic. One of my favorite was the first question that went like this:
“In your 15-ish years of uninterrupted Spider-Man writing, what have you learned about the concept?
It’s a story with a very strong theme: “With great power comes great responsibility.” And that theme is so perfect in its simplicity that you could build a religion around it. As a fan, I carried it around with me, but when you start writing it, you realize, Oh, this is the most important lesson in the world. It’s not a superpower lesson. It’s a lesson about power, itself. If you have the power to sing, or to grab people’s attention, or anything, then with that comes responsibility that you need to identify and raise yourself up to “
This is a statement that is so true but is also supposed to be counterintuitive in business. You are supposed to think of yourself first and foremost. But Jonah didn’t do that. He looked at the world in front of him and raised himself up. Great power.
What if I told you that you could see superhumans every night? In real life? Well I’m here to tell you that you can and right now they are at the height of their powers as they are participating in the NBA playoffs. Forget the douchey jocks from high school that work for their dad now or teach gym class. I’m talking about the 1 in a million guys that excel at the highest level. The true genetic mutations of humanity that are born with superior strength, agility and leaping abilities. This isn’t exclusive to the NBA. You could say the same for the NFL, NHL or European soccer leagues like the English Premier League or Spain’s La Liga. The beauty of the NBA is that because of the sports free form nature you get to watch these guys perform at their most raw and stylized. The nature of the game rewards feats of extraordinary ability against those that are equal. Monday night of this last week was a prime example with the Oklahoma City Thunder facing the Memphis Grizzlies. At one point spectators got to see someone fly through the air
I love me some Hawkeye or Green Arrow but they don’t got shit on KD. Crazy part is they still lost because real life is for more unpredictable then the Marvel universe. Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, Paul George, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki and Marc Gasol are breaking the laws of physic and making their bodies perform the impossible every day. The words “stubbornly, again believing in his ability to overrule reality” could only be written in a comic book or about an NBA player. Shit what other pro athlete built a fucking batcave. Oh and you can g-check his nerd credentials all you want but this is based on the Michael Keaton one which for his/my age group is OG Batman love right there. I’m not saying you have to watch this and I’m not saying the NBA is better than whatever you are doing instead. All I’m saying is that Super Humans are real, they walk among us and even though it’s fucked that we pay them millions of dollars to play a sport for kids as opposed to having them go all Captain America on that ass against Al Qaeda they still push the same buttons as the comics by bending the possible. Only here it’s real life.
So not to be outdone the voice nobody wanted to hear forced us to hear them in regards to the Amazon/Comixology deal and that was from the sad group of not quite business men and not quite comic fans grouping of comic retailers. Lets see what the doucenozzles had to say about this matter
My bad dudes I didn’t realize I was reading fake comics. Let’s see some of the other comic book retailer voices had to say about things this week
“Why is Marvel trying to put comic shops out of business? It is painfully obvious. By including free digital copy codes in your books, you are trying to lure customers away from the comic shops and print books. It will not work, but you are trying to hurt comic shops none the less.”
Not sure that giving away a digital copy for free after buying a physical copy at a comic shop is trying to “put comic shops out of business” actually I think it’s the opposite. Oh and there’s bleeding cool where when not publishing poorly edited tips from disgruntled DC employees they let the shop owners sound off with this nonsense
Wait so you have one comic that that had an entire night dedicated to it at a major comic con ORGANIZED BY IT’S FANS and the debut issue of what is probably the most buzzed about new creator in the industry and you can’t sell those? I think you suck at your job. In fact I don’t think a lot comic shop owners feel any responsibility to their shops being “jobs” for them. I think they want these places to be their superhero clubhouse. And that shit will kill comics. That’s because in order for comics to survive they have to expand beyond their current market. This shouldn’t be too hard right now. After all the biggest movie and biggest TV show are from comic books. Big superhero publishers are making efforts to create comics with all types of different characters while creator owned comics are expanding into television and and film everyday. Even fucking cool kid websites are talking about comics. This is a golden opportunity for a smart shop owner to truly expand their business. Instead we get this nonsense above. If your comic shop can’t make money right now YOU are the problem. It’s not a club, it’s a business. Run it like one and you can still enjoy your shitty 90esque comics that inspired you to open the shop in the first place. Don’t and you’ll get to have a few more years of the industry bending over backwards to accommodate you as you lord over your stacks of single issues while customers walk out the door not buying comics that you didn’t stock because you just had to get that Indiana state flag variant of JLA #1 but I promise that your days or numbered. And while I’m still going to my good shops to buy Copra and Darkhorse books while getting everything else off comixology and you’re closing your doors don’t expect one ounce of sympathy from this guy. In fact I’ll be dancing on your grave. It’s a new world. Adapt or die.
So for those that don’t know Kelly Sue DeConnick is heading up Dark Horses Alien line of comics which is you know pretty awesome albeit a strange combination. This seems like another step similar to DC with Batman Eternal where Scott Snyder heads up the title as “showrunner” while other writers contribute different scripts and such. I have no idea if this is going to work but I am afraid of it working. The writers room mentality can probably work for some comics but if it‘s at the expense of strong writer like Kelly Sue or Snyder that’s where I have a problem. Comics writing is an interesting medium to me in that it allows for a singular vision of one or two creative talents confined to what is already a set of plot guidelines. The best writers manage to give their voices through the characters while still staying within the paradigm. Most of Grant Morrison’s best work is on DC books and the reason is because he’s brilliant at making big and interesting statements and ideas within the parameters of a superhero comic. Think of Frank Miller doing his best stuff on Batman and Daredevil or Chris Claremont on X-Men. That’s not to say this is a hard and fast rule. I’ve enjoyed creator owned work from all those guys and there are plenty of creators that I love as much as those mentioned above that do better on creator owned comics like Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman ect. But there’s a magic when a comic writer gets a certain property ala Brubaker on Captain America or Johns on Green Lantern. What worries me is how the writers room mentality can dull that voice. I love creator owned and indie comics but I’d hate to live in a world where that’s all I read.
So I’m going to Captain America in a couple hours. I mentioned this in the comments but it bears repeating that if these movies came out when I was like 5-12 years old I would have been in heaven. I used to sit around and think about how cool it would be to have these interconnected comic book universes in the films and now here we are and all I pretty much feel is indifferent. This isn’t anything new mind you. I didn’t see X-Men or Spiderman in the theatre when they came out even and I was still in high school. In fact with X-Men I was only like a year out of being removed from reading comics and I only stopped because I had no money. So what happened? I discovered Martin Scorsese. For some reason in the summer of 1998 at the age of 14 I discovered Scorsese movie’s which made me want to see similar movies which rendered all other movies irrelevant ESPECIALLY block busters. This mind set literally suck with me for close to ten years. I hadn’t watched a comic book movie in the theatres until Iron Man at which point I had started dling scans and reading comics again anyway. And you know what I still feel that way. For the most part every comic movie I’ve seen in the theatres has been an enjoyable experience besides the sleep inducing Watchmen and just plain terrible X-Men Origins Wolverine. But it’s still not enough to elicit any passion about said films. Not like I do about 12 Years a Slave, No Country For Old Men, Black Swan or Inception. And until they are I just can’t. Nolan came close with the final two movies in his Batman trilogy but didn’t quite get there. Comics themselves are making stories and art worthy of those distinctions both in independent and big two titles. Comic movies not so much. So until we get there I’m gonna go to the theatre, enjoy it and then forget about it a week later while still telling anybody within an earshot about how No Country For Old Men is the greatest movie of the last ten years.
Theres a pizza place I got to for lunch. It’s good if unremarkable pizza meaning it’s pretty much and also less then a block away making it the closest. The one problem I’ve had with said pizzeria is the music. You can tell who the owner or at least supervisor is and you can tell it’s his music. Dude is your standard middle aged white baby boomer meaning the playlist is pretty much your standard classic rock stuff that those assholes generally act like is better then anything else ever created (it’s not). Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad most is mediocre. You get the impression that HE thinks the classic rock pizzeria is AWESOME in spite of the annoyance of his employee’s and indifference of his customers. I mostly keep my headphones on and play tetris while I’m waiting for my slices. This has made me reconsider pull list playlist. I don’t want this to become Pat’s space where I push a bunch of niche rap music, whatever metal I can remember for Thor and the handful of rock bands that I love on you guys because that sucks. So here’s the deal: the staff is getting more involved to diversify the selection as you’ll see here. More from Cosmo. more from new writer Tyler and more from the rest of the gang. I’m also opening up the floor to you dear reader. You know our e-mail. Send me your submissions. Nothing is off limits unless it sucks and even that can be worked in with the right context. So here we go with a bold new era of pull list playlist. Upwards and onwards.