Saturday, July 03, 2004


I have a theory.

I've been writing on pop culture for a long time now, even some academic papers, and it seems to me that all really standout pop has at least one thing in common: it has an extended arm and a raised middle finger pointed squarely at other boring or just flat bad pop culture.

It's a very, very good theory. Think about it. Think about films like DEEP BLUE SEA, for instance. Not only did it have an almost laughably dumb premise (super smart sharks), but it only had one "name" actor in the cast (Samuel L. Jackson). And at the very moment that Jackson's character is giving the standard "If we all stick together, we'll survive" speech, a shark breaks the water and swallows Jackson whole, leaving the viewer laughing his fool head off and applauding. Not only did the film flip the bird to a very bad cliche, but it also gave a winking nod to the concept of "jumping the shark." Other moments of "fuck you" raised along the way, and that made DEEP BLUE SEA an immensely entertaining B-movie.

I want pop culture to give me the finger. I want as much pop as possible to rise above its roots and strive to be something better. I want it to challenge me to pay attention, I want it to stir my brain, and I want the people who are making it to just give a shit.

STREET ANGEL #2 came in my mailbox, I brought it home, and it immediately flipped off the stack of comics I had sitting on my bookcase. It even used both fingers.

I reviewed issue one in my MoviePoopShoot column a couple of weeks before it came out. It was an exhilarating breath of fresh air, a piece of such perfect pop that I worried that the creators would not be able to sustain their momentum. Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about.

The brilliant creative team of Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca have let loose another blast of brilliance upon the comics scene. Incan pirates from the past and an Irish astronaut from the future are dragged through a time warp and land in Jesse Sanchez' Angel City. Their landing gets the local ninjas involved as well, and a melee ensues.

At every step, the plot of this book is so insane that you can't help but giggle and snicker with glee. Plus you get beautiful gags like the ninja house having an alarm designed specially to go off if pirates show up...

Like I said: a brilliant giving of the finger moment.

STREET ANGEL is so good that it's almost scary. Both issues have become instant classics, and it is my sincerest wish that Rugg and Maruca are able to keep up the quality of the book without jumping the shark.

Of course, reading that, they're probably flipping me off.

Marc Mason
P.O. Box 26732
Tempe, AZ 85285

Friday, July 02, 2004


Here's the deal, each and every week, new comics enter my home (in a variety of forms, from a variety of sources) and make their way onto my reading pile (which is detailed below). Some stay on the pile longer than others, and the purpose here is to track them through to their ultimate end. It's an experiment and you're a part of it! Lucky you...

Here's the stack as it stands today (and bear with me as I figure out how this is going to work every week; also note I'm a "stream-of-consciousness/print-the-first-draft" kind of writer/guy):

Stranger Than Fiction (Chuck Palahniuk): I'm trying to work through my backlog of non-comics (just finished the new Sedaris - good, but I like his old stuff better, just like John Byrne ;) This will be put back into the marketplace when I finish it; not a keeper as of this writing.

Exterminator 17 (Bilal/Dionnet)/ Gods in Chaos (Bilal): These have been on the pile for quite a while, you have to be in the mood for European scifi, and I haven't been in that mood recently (these are the Catalan Editions).

The Incal 1, 2 (Moebius/Jodorwsky): These are the Epic Editions, and I've read through the Humanoids stuff and wanted to compare; haven't done so yet; see above regarding mood.

Found (Rothbart): A collection of the excellent Found Magazine. This will stay on the pile for quite a bit, as it's not something I would ever choose to read straight through. Great stuff, though.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 1,2,3,4 (Miyazaki): These are the new editions from Viz, and I'm working up to them; my kid loves his films.

Chronicles of Conan 2, 3,4 (Thomas/Windsor-Smith/Kane/Buscema): I don't like the re-coloring, that's for sure (same deal with the DC/Adams/Batman Hardcovers), and that's not keeping me from slogging through these, but incredible apathy sure is. Maybe I should just pick up a bunch of Howard's paperbacks?

Vampirella: Crimson Chronicles 1 (Various): Looking forward to this, actually, as it's all the old Warren Vampi stuff, and I like 60s/70s B&W Horror (last year, I picked up a ton of Eerie's and Creepy's and read them straight through; loved every minute of it)

Sword of Dracula 1-4 (Henderson/Scott/Belk): Just curious...

1963 #'s 1, 2, 4,5 (Moore/Various): Haven't read these in awhile, and picked them up (again, I know I have copies in a box in the basement somewhere); sucks that I don't have #3 in this stack, but I'm pretty sure I'll live.

The Moth #2,3 (Rude/Martin): I want to like this, or at least tolerate it, but reading the special and skimming #1 doesn't appear that's going to become reality.

X-Statix #24 (Milligan/Allred): I've been skimming these, I lost interest quite a ways back, and it's almost all done anyway.

Sleeper Season Two #1 (Brubaker/Phillips): Liked the previous "season" and see no reason why I won't like this.

Human Target #11 (Milligan/Chiang): This lost its way for me; I picked it up last night and thought "that's a whole lot of reading I'm not in the mood for."

Lucifer #51 (Carey/Gross): Ditto.

Seaguy #2 (Morrison/Stewart): We'll see at the end of #3, but it's not looking good (actually, it looks great, but overall, I'm not enthused by Mr. Morrison's mad ideas anymore).

Infiltration #22: A zine about being in places you're not supposed to be; I've lived this.

Here's what's leaving the stack this week, and where it's going:

Bannock, Beans and Black Rice: Just finished this; quick, good read, wonderful illustrations/design and heading to the bookshelf with my other Seth stuff (It's a Good Life... is one of my favorite comics ever).

FF Visionaries: John Byrne 1 and 2 (duh!): I received 2 recently, and took them both with me this week to re-read. I did a lot of skimming, and set them back on the self upon my return. Make of that what you will

Neal Adam's Batman Hardcover 2 (duh!!): This went straight to the shelf, and it's one of those things I'm not sure why I have as I'm not sure when I'll ever sit down with it (more on this in future installments); I hate the re-coloring; these could be on newsprint (with the ads!) and I'd be much happier and more likely to re-read).

Here's what needs to go on the stack, but then the stack would be perilously tall:

Lone Wolf and Cub (Koike/Kojima): I'm committed to reading the whole thing at some point this summer; haven't started yet)

Palomar (Hernandez): This will be a second reading of the material, but the size isn't conducive to travel, and as you see from the current stack, there's lots of other (admittedly lesser) material hogging my time.

Joseph Rybandt has been working "professionally" in the comics "business" for close to 14 years. He lives in the mountains of Northern PA with his wife, daughter and companion Cosmo. His thoughts and opinions are, mercifully, his own.