That goddamn comic shop in “The Big Bang Theory”.

First and foremost I would like to apologize for the inconsistent(read non existent) updates. There is really no excuse, I would love to say I was bogged down, but the sad and utter truth of it all is that I had some personal things weighing upon my mind, but really I don’t think that qualifies as enough of a reason to not update these missives which I would love to believe are read with white knuckles and fraught with anticipation for the next syllable. But alas dear readers no more will you wait, no more will you ponder back alleys behind illicit comic shops to get your fix for diatribes. Hark! For I have returned and you will once more be able to read, nay sense all manner of palpable emotions that flow forth from my fingers to the keys and into your hearts. Much like Chris Brown, I promise baby, I won’t ever hurt you again. As John Cleese said, “And now for something completely different.”

The title of this piece would imply that I maybe take umbrage with a certain something in a certain sitcom, and I gotta tell ya you’re damn right I take umbrage with it. It fucking sucks, have you ever been in any comic shop worth your time that remotely resembled that hellhole? I know I haven’t my friends, no good comic shop is that depressing, that tame, that quiet and that filled with cardboard cutout misanthropes from decades old stereotypes. It shouldn’t piss me off that much, but by Mjolnir it does. That shop doesn’t even resemble one that a writer on the show might have walked past, it is a warning to the fanbase of The Big Bang Theory to never ever step foot in one lest they run into a bunch of socially retarded mutants who have never seen a girl. On a side note, how the fuck is that even a stereotype anymore? I see plenty of women of all ages in my local comic shop, and none of them have ever had to deal with sub-humans gawking at them. No my real problem with that show’s portrayal of comic shops is the simple fact that it does nothing but reinforce the negative stereotypes of “geek” stuff. One of the most infuriating of which was a recent episode where the gals of the show try some funny books, two get more normal fare, costumes and muscles and all that jazz, but alas one gets Fables issue #1. She later comments on it that there was little to read and it was nothing but male power fantasy and violence. As I watched the episode I let out an angry, animalistic AH HAH, as I could fully see the level of bullshit effortless writing the staff had done, had they even bothered to crack open that issue they would have seen that that is one wordy motherfucker, sure violent, and heavily sexualized but definitely not a simplistic power fantasy as they had posited. I will end this by saying I enjoy the show on occasion, like many of you out there I am a sucker for references and homages to the things I love, but damn man can the overpaid writers of one of the most derivative shows on tv not be bothered to do even a tiny amount of research, and for the love of all that is holy why can they not make the comic shop more vibrant, noisy, busy, fun, and all around seem like any good true comic shop. I am back my friends, full of piss and vinegar and the updates will definitely be at the very least weekly.

The back and forth influence of American and Japanese pop culture in comics.

As the post title itself will suffice to say, Japan and our United States have a back and forth trade off of pop culture and “lore” that are wonderfully traded and swapped back and forth. Look no further than the Manga “Priest”, sure the movie was complete and utter shit, but so was “Wanted”. The manga played fast and loose with a version of our American west circa late 1800’s and tossed in some non historical demonic possession a’la Evil Dead.Then on our side of the puddle you have of course the most obvious example, Frank Miller and the Hand, no not HIS hand you dirty goofs, the Hand Ninjas. He would take the influences much further, even his art style but let’s not dwell on Frank and predilections. Of course you have the Godzilla style monsters and even a Monster island in the Marvel U, and DC also has had a few influences most obviously Cassandra Kain’s ninja style Bat-Girl. In Japan you have both the Japanese versions of Spider-Man and Batman, tailored for eastern audiences.

Directors like Takashi Miike draw upon both Japanese and American Comics as sources of influence and style, and even go as far as to occasionally remake their favorite properties in their image. Artists like the late great Seth Fischer borrowed quite heavily from Manga artists, emulating not only the obvious facial over exaggerations but also the habit of throwing perspective out the window for the sake of a cooler and more appealing image. Of course other cultures and societies in contemporary times have had influence on a great number of modern artists, but the U.S. and Japan have a unique quirk and that is that the over obsessed fans of comics, sci-fi, videogames and other “dorky” things. This isn’t meant to be an Earth shattering or new observation, just a love letter to something that I’m thankful for that helps make comics as cool as they are.

Comic books, Graphic Novels and what is considered literature.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what my pet peeve in the comics medium is, which theoretically is a broad and thought intense question. Not for me, sure it could be due to a constant state of curmudgeonly gloom, or it could be that I long ago decided what my peeve was and realistically it is definitely a combination of those two theories. Comics somehow persist on having a stereotype as either a silly or childish storytelling medium, thought albeit by people who have never picked up a comic once in their lives, much less read the latest Walking Dead or Criminal story arc. We live in a country(America, for those that in fact do not live in this country)where Fifty Shades of Grey is not only a pop cultural explosion that tops the New York Times best sellers list, it is considered “True literature”. Somehow the simple act of using sequential images and only writing out sound effects or a characters thoughts or dialogues makes it seem less like a legitimate method of telling stories. This has long been a peeve of mine on the basis that it continually is something that holds comics back from being accepted not only as a cherished American past time and important piece of pop culture but from even being seen as something to take seriously. I was in tenth grade and was told that on Fridays I was to bring in a book to read for English class, I thought that was pretty fly and the concept of delving into my current piece of literature made me giddy. Then a few months into it after finishing whatever “normal” book I was reading I brought in “The Dark Knight Returns”. The teacher told me that I couldn’t read comics in class and it had to be a real book, I fought tooth and nail with eloquent words and profound hand gestures but it was all for naught, I was not allowed to enjoy Miller’s seminal work for 45 minutes of class. What had bothered me the most besides the whole “real” book thing was the fact that the girl next to me was reading the latest installment of Harry Potter and that was just fine and dandy and I mean no detriment to the works of J.K. Rowling or those that enjoy them, my problem was that a book about teenage wizards that fight the worlds nicest villain(ever notice that Voldemort waited till the end of the school year every damn time?)was considered a book but an intense adult story about what can be perceived as one mans final acceptance of who and what he is was considered less of a book for the simple addition to pictures. It makes my skin crawl every time I hear someone make a passive comment about how comics are kids stuff, or that they aren’t real books, or that at the end of the day simply because of the way it is told Fifty Shades of Grey is more of a book than Alan Moore’s Swamp thing, and with that I take umbrage.

Ask the Captain

The Good Captain hard at workWho would win in a fight: The Midnighter or Superman? Who’s crazier: Moon Knight or Deadpool? Who’s hotter: Wonder Woman or Ms Marvel? ComicBook Showdown’s Captain Paul is undeniably opinionated. Thanks to a suggestion from Agamotto after Wolverine had got Paulie thoroughly lubricated with a not-so-wee dram of Jamieson’s, the Good Captain agreed to provide his own unique brand of sage wisdom in answer your questions. Email the Captain at captainpaul@comicbookshowdown.com.