Friday, March 26, 2004

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Hi, everyone. Marc Mason here. There are some changes coming to this blog, and I want to get them out in the open as best I can.

In the beginning, I helped start this blog on behalf of eight to ten people who were going to post stuff here, including myself. Some, like me, have columns and blogs elsewhere but wanted a place to let off steam or do different things. The others had written for other sites before and weren't currently working somewhere else at the moment. But it never quite worked out that way.

Some of the writers got too busy and bailed quickly. Others took a different tack and did the Comics INactivist thing you've seen here. Let me state it out loud, because I have been asked multiple times: I am not, nor was I ever, the Comics INactivist. The only things here that were me bore my name. Period. In the end, there were actually two people who posted as the Comics INactivist. This is only important to know, because neither one will be posting here as the CI again.

The primary CI has decided to end his reign, and I support him. If he had wanted to continue to write them, I would have had no problem helping him create a CI blog and get the materials online. The second CI only posted once, and that turned into a fiasco that ate up days of time and energy in multiple forums. What made it worse is that it resulted in me, the originator of this place, losing access to this blog for a temporary amount of time. That, of course, pissed me off.

So The Waiting Room will be a little different from now on. There may be an occasional guest writer, but I'll be posting their stuff myself. But for the most part, this will be me, supplementing my Movie Poop Shoot column (for the love of God, click on the link on the left side of this page and read it- it's great!) with pamphlet reviews, essays, etc. It won't be as daily, say, as Alan David Doane's excellent blog, but it'll always be as good as possible, as often as possible.

Thanks for your patience. Thanks for reading. Now let's go and enjoy some comics, shall we?

Marc@MarcMason.com

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Comics INactivist proudly? presents:

In Defense of Martha Stewart. Or, why I hate scapegoating.

Border Patrol (Mar. 11, 2004)
or
Defending the Indefensible

Personally I think she’s a real bitch, and this comes from knowing her only through her TV shows and magazines, but Martha Stewart got a raw deal.

[and remember to always wash your hands after handling poultry]

In case you’ve just emerged from the bio-dome

[Comic World News is always ready with the latest topical reference, Mister Kot-ter]

or are in fact Pauly Shore (star of said Bio-Dome) then you’re aware that the ever-pompous and proper Martha has landed in a world of shit and faces up to 20 years in prison along with some hefty fines. Common opinion is that she will do time but not the full 20…

[more like 15 months]

that is if the convictions hold up when appealed, which, again, common opinion is unsure of. She was convicted, along with her stockbroker, of numerous security (stock) related fraud charges.

Frankly, that is all that needs to be said of the nature of the event to catch you up Mr. Shore.

[But let me keep on going with lots more words, despite having very little information myself]

At its most basic Mrs. (Ms.? What is it?)

[I’m a journalist]

Stewart took a tip from her broker and sold some stock based on the tip. Now the idiot broker gave her information that was NOT yet public information and from all indications Stewart knew this. HUGE “no-no” for all parties concerned. Acting on private information to save your own financial ass may seem like the best thing to do to secure your future but at the cost of the rest of the investors means the playing field is no longer level and anyone who lived through or has read about any of the “recent”

[quotes used why, exactly? Because they’re NOT recent? Why?]

stock scandals will know that this is frowned on.

[In fact, they’re not just frowned-on no-nos, but, gosh, securities fraud, or else there wouldn’t be things like trials.]

In fact, some feel that those that engage in this practice are the moral and financial equivalent of the guy who spilled all that Exxon oil and killed those cute seals and majestic seagulls (rats with wings if you ask me, but that’s just my once-shat-upon-by-one-of-them opinion).

[the “financial equivalent”?!]

Well here it is about a week after K-Mart’s spokesperson was nailed to the cross to prove a point

[that laws shouldn’t be broken, no matter who you are?]

and the truth is slowly leaking out to the general public.

Turns out that the jurors were out to prove a point.

[Turns out…how?’]

Wipe that smug self-congratulating smirk off her cookie-baking face. See how smart she is at decorating a jail cell with only gray and white to work with and horny cellmate ta’ boot.

[Let’s trot out all the clich├ęs, because of course Martha Stewart won’t be able to have her own nice cell. No, she’ll be in Cell Block H with the bull dyke, yep.]

They said as much in after-verdict press conferences. Not the point of our judicial system you freaking retards!

[But was the law broken, Caleb?]

Let’s step back and take a broad look at what happened here.

Stewart was told that this stock she had a SMALL part of her portfolio in was about to tank due to some negative news that was about to go public. Then after being caught with her hand in the highly decorative cookie jar tried to double-talk her way around it so as to not effect the value of her own company publicly.

[AFFECT]

So, basically she was doing what any of us would do put in the identical position. Any of you who think that you would not are not being honest. Sure there are laws and rules but at the end of the day who has the most important roof on the block: you or your neighbor?

[Should I turn myself in now? Oh, yeah, I didn’t actually break the law like Martha Stewart. Almost forgot.]

They say that when the cabin pressure goes on an airplane you should 1st put your own mask on THEN help your neighbor because you’re of no use to anyone if you pass out.

This is what I think was going through Martha’s head. Cover her ass and then protect those that invested in her, MS Omniverse.

[By telling them not to sell their stock that was about to tank. Thanks, Martha! You’re all heart.]

It pisses me off when someone is singled out as a scapegoat and it is clear that Martha, while being the definition of ego and snottiness,

[For that matter, how does he even know what she’s like? That’s all rumor, anyway. She’s not snotty on her shows.]

is being held to a different standard then the rest of us would be.

[Like probably only doing about a year of a 20 year sentence.]

Hell, part of her conviction was on a charge of lying while defending herself on a charge that she was never charged with (for some reason I can’t get my eyes to stop blinking while wrapping my mind around that one).

[In fact, I’m still stuck on the concept of hey, you or I would break the law to save our asses, too, so why punish her? It’s just the law, freaking retards]

Almost daily we read here or on Newsarama or in Rich Johnston’s slime sheet

[at least he does the research, Mrs. or Ms. Gerard]

or whatever that so-and-so is effin’ up their corner of the comicbook market. Mark Alessi was the man carrying the target a few months ago.

[“Carrying the target”? Where was he carrying it? Do you mean he was WEARING it?]

Every few months Rob Liefeld gets the honor of being a-hole of the month on the company wall weather [sic] he deserves it or not.

[We just need to prove he has a company…and walls!]

Joe Quesada has suffered his share of arrows and is primed to get many more at any moment (thank goodness for his “Spidey-sense”).

[?]

Our recent interviewee, Dave Sim, avoids certain outlets ‘cause they’ve bent him over without even the courtesy of even pretending to drop the soap.

[Finally, a metaphor I can’t screw up—anal rape!]

And the list goes on…

But at the fore of the evildoers in the reputation destroying syndicate (soon to be a Slave Labor Graphics series)

[again, ?]

are the fans. With the ease of entrance to the message boards, once the haven of only the geekiest of geeks, any butthead with an opinion can now put it out there while somehow gaining the taint of legitimacy by association (he types with a small self-deprecating smile). “I once met a guy who was working with that guy on a series that Image was supposed to publish, but the guy I knew told me that the guy working with Image stole his Girl Scout cookies. I swear.”

[Good thing it’s so tough to get your own column!]

And you see the funniest times are when someone like Matt Brady or Jonah Weiland is singled out simply ‘cause they turn their focus one way or the other as if they have some hidden agenda. No wait, I’ll save that one for a later week ‘cause that one just cracks me the hell up.

[You wouldn’t want to overload this column with laughs—save some for later]

If you’ve noticed a small amount of cynicism

[more like senility]

creeping into this column over the last few weeks then go get yourself a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s ‘cause it’s more then a small amount.

[Cynicism and…ice cream? Whuh?]

I have not been around the block near as many times as many of those that I’ve come to know well, and often wonder why they continue to make the trek.

[To Ben & Jerry’s, right? C’mon, Caleb, I’m trying to keep up with you!]

What do you think the answer could possibly be? Why commit yourself to the expected backbiting, ass kicking and image bashing? Do you long for the days of the only outlet being the LOCs at the back of the latest issues? If you’re a pro and want to continue being one… WHY? And if you’re not and want to be one, WHY?

[Somehow, the last paragraph that tied together Martha Stewart and cranky fanboys must have been cut off]

I still continue to buy my comics every single freaking week, rain or shine (and damned if we haven’t been actually having weather here in Southern California), at The Comics Factory in Pasadena California.

This has been a message from The Comics INactivist.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

SIDEKICKS
Written by Dan Danko and Tom Mason
Published by Little, Brown and Company


As a reviewer in any field, a creator has the ability to “buy” or “earn” credit from you. By that I mean that if someone produces a superior or affecting work, you, as a reviewer, are going to be more inclined to be interested in seeing what they do next even if it’s radically different than that last project. In film, it has always been the Coen Brothers for me. Even if THE HUDSUCKER PROXY sucked, they had enough credit with me that I was in line on the first day for THE BIG LEBOWSKI. In comics, there are a few people who have that credit with me, though some I haven’t heard anything from in a while. So it was much to my great surprise and happiness to receive an email missive from Tom Mason asking if I’d take a look at and review the first two (of eventually six) young adult novels he’d co-written with writing partner Dan Danko.

How could I say “no”?

Tom Mason, no relation, was the insane genius behind one of my all-time favorite comic books, DINOSAURS FOR HIRE. Published by Malibu/Eternity back in the late 80s and early 90s, DFH was a rip-snortingly funny, wildly subversive tale about walking, talking dinos who were obsessed with Elvis, shooting people, and destroying property. It was guns, sex, and loopiness all the way, and I still look back on the title with great fondness. Mason even signed my copy of issue two at the first San Diego Comic-Con I ever went to. He saw my nametag, looked amusingly horrified, and assured me that, if I was a relative, he had no money to loan me. Good times. His autograph even reads “Marc- I have no money. – Tom Mason.” So yeah, Tom has some credit built up with me. Full disclosure and such.

SIDEKICKS, and its first sequel SIDEKICKS: OPERATION SQUISH is the tale of Guy Martin. Guy, a/k/a Speedy is your normal teen boy, struggling with school, and too terrified to ask out Prudence Cane, the most beautiful girl in the school. He’s also the fastest runner in the world, able to make it up to 92.7 miles per hour (he improves to 102 in OPERATION SQUISH), and training to be a superhero by being a sidekick to Pumpkin Pete, who has all the powers of a pumpkin… whatever that means. He spends most of his time hanging out with his fellow sidekicks in the Super Sidekick Clubhouse where they all await the call for extra help from the League Of Big Justice. And what mighty sidekicks they are: Spelling Beatrice. Exact Change Kid. Earlobe Lad. Boom Boy. Boy In The Plastic Bubble Boy. Charisma Kid. Spice Girl. If you’re catching more than a faint whiff of tongue firmly implanted in cheek from that list, then you’re pretty much grasping exactly what Danko and Mason are putting forth in these books.

As Danko also did comic work, the writing duo has decidedly taken a look at the superhero genre and they work they did in it, taken the piss out of it (if you will) and found a marvelously subversive way to get it across to the 8-13 age group who would never pick up a comic book. Fortunately, they were also smart enough to make it amusing enough for adults to enjoy as well, and the books are filled with one sparkling moment after another. To wit:

There’s a moment in SQUISH wherein Guy is describing his relationship with the lazy and cowardly Pumpkin Pete (who naturally takes all the credit for Guy’s work and bravery):

”…Pete likes to call me his ‘human bulletproof vest’. ‘But I don’t have the power to stop bullets,’ I told him the first time he called me that. ‘You will if you’re standing in from of me,’ he replied.

Delicious.

The SIDEKICKS books work, I think, because even through the subversive attitude they take towards the superhero genre, Guy is a sweet, decent kid who really does have the desire to do good things for the world. He somehow manages to stand above the silliness that swirls around him (Spelling Beatrice’s power is just that: she can make eight letter words in Scrabble with just seven letters in her hand, for instance) and be heroic and normal at the same time. The rest (battling an evil puppet called Peenoh Keeoh- think about it; trying to rig a “win a date with a sidekick” contest so that Prudence will go out with him) is all gravy, really, stuff that allows Danko and Mason to get their clever on.

The books are each about 100 pages long (and come with trading cards of the characters), making them a pretty quick read, especially compared to Harry Potter, and they’re going to be entertaining from ages six on up. Danko and Mason have written for both RUGRATS and MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE, so that gives you an idea of their ability to create entertainment that crosses multiple age groups. They also take a moment in SQUISH to set up a meta-plot that will apparently be picked up on in the later four books of the series, so there is an effort to bring the read back for the future installments as well.

Of course, no one would be happier than me if Guy were to progress through the series and wind up as a full-fledged superhero at the end… as long as there was a strange and bewildering meeting with some very violent dinosaurs somewhere along the way. Keep hope alive, I always say! But the only way to find out is for me to keep reading, and so I shall. Tom’s credit is still good with me. Grade: A-

Marc@MarcMason.com