I think I really need to read Alice in Sunderland after perusing Jog's excellent review. And even Greg Burgas likes it!
I saw somewhere that Codex Seraphinianus, a weird book (or is it the weirdest book?) by Luigi Serafini, had been posted in its entirety on Flickr, and thought it looked interesting, but didn't really think too much of it. However, after reading Stephen Frug's analysis of a page of sequential images from the book, I'm hooked (by the way, read the comments on that post to see an interesting discussion of the definition of comics (and definitions in general) with Eddie Campbell). I'm going to have to read the whole thing now. It'll probably blow my fragile mind. I should also point out Frug's look at my favorite page from We3. He articulates my thoughts on the art and layouts perfectly. I want to be able to write that well someday; I think he's my new hero.
Comics Should Be Good has an excellent essay by Stuart Immonen about the use of computer software and photo reference in comics art. Fascinating reading. As he mentions, the use of photo reference/swiping/tracing has been a hot topic of late in comics commentary, with many people coming down against it. Greg Land has particularly been demonized for his use of the technique. I find the subject interesting, as it's obviously a useful tool for artists, but at what point does it become too much of a crutch, making the art look too stiff and posed? I usually like Alex Ross's work, but there are times his figures look odd, especially since they sometimes look too "normal" for superhero situations and costumes. On the other hand, you have artists like Jonathan Hickman (who Immonen mentions in his essay), who use photo reference but add so much of their own style to it that the art becomes somewhat surreal. It's a really interesting subject, and it deserves more space to discuss. Maybe I'll write a more extensive piece sometime.
I usually find CBR's "studio tour" articles kind of boring, but I have to link to the one with Mike Allred, as I'm a drooling fan of anything involved with him. It's interesting to see, if you're a fan, but you probably shouldn't bother otherwise.
Also from CBR: an interview with Peter Milligan about his upcoming Infinity, Inc. series. I'm wary of getting into any mainstream DC comics, but this one might have a bit of an X-Statix vibe, so I'll consider it. Plus, it features art from Max Fiumara, who usually works for Avatar (was it him or his brother who did the art for Warren Ellis's Blackgas?). That's a weird choice. Milligan also reveals that he has a 12-issue Wildstorm series called The Programme and a noir-style Vertigo graphic novel called The Bronx Kill in the works. Those will be ones to watch out for.
Also also from CBR: An interview with Frazer Irving in which he talks about Silent War (which I'm now considering checking out) and Gutsville (which I'm pretty excited about; check out this freaky preview page). He also describes his process, and reveals that he didn't really like Seven Soldiers #1. Good reading.
CBR again: An interview with Andy Diggle about his upcoming miniseries Green Arrow: Year One, which reteams him with Jock, the artist he collaborated with on The Losers (which was awesome). I have little interest in Green Arrow, but I dig Diggle and Jock (that's a funny turn of phrase), and he makes the story and themes sound really interesting in the interview. So now I'll probably have to check it out. Damn.
CBR, still: Another interview, this time with Rick Veitch, focusing on his new Army@Love series. Very interesting. I liked the first issue a lot, and hopefully it will keep getting better.
Okay, that's enough for now. I might update later if I find anything else linkworthy.
Same Hat! Same Hat! posts links to every manga they've done a scanlation of.
From Journalista!, here's some interesting commentary from Johanna Draper Carlson and John G., about the cartoony style of Osamu Tezuka's art, and how it can (depeding on your point of view) either complement or distract from the sometimes serious subject matter he's dealing with. I'm reading Ode to Kirihito right now, so this is something I've been thinking about.
Also from Journalista!: Jesse Hamm (a comics artist, apparently) relates some of the problems of drawing a story written by a non-artist, and the complications that can ensue. It's really interesting, and obviously comes from irritation with writers. But the really interesting part is when Mark Waid shows up to comment, pissed off at the portrayal of writers as prima donnas who think they know how to draw better than artists. Here's my favorite quote:
"I have also worked with, in pretty equal numbers, "artists" who are complete fucking chimpanzees and need their hands held on a PANEL-TO-PANEL BASIS. Monkeys who are incapable of doing ANY sort of even basic storytelling because all they can draw are steroid heroes and strippers and have, apparently, never seen a telephone, a newspaper, or the St. Louis Arch, just to pick at random three things that I have seen my artists fuck up JUST THIS MONTH ALONE".That made me laugh. Really though, Waid gives good advice, which is to drop the attitude and view comics as a collaboration.
UPDATE 2 on 4/5:
I don't know if this is old news, but apparently Grant Morrison is doing a rewrite on the script for a movie adaptation of the arcade game Area 51. I'm somewhat surprised they're actually doing a movie of that game, since it's kind of an old franchise. And I wish Morrison would stick to doing good comics, like the rumored Vertigo stuff he has in the works. But I bet it pays well, and if the movie actually gets made, his involvement might make me want to see it.
Jeff Lester at The Savage Critic(s) talks about volumes 10-12 of Sgt. Frog, and I think he puts his finger on why I've become disillusioned with the series: too much time between volumes. Like him, I read many of the first nine or ten volumes close together, but the increasing gaps between later volumes leads me to fall out of the swing of things. Whatever; I still think I'm done with the series.
Speaking of manga, here's a review of the series Heibon Ponch, which is running in a Japanese anthology (and will probably never make it to the US). It sounds completely insane, filled with breast obsession and nonsensical transformations. I'd love to read it; maybe I can find a scanlation somewhere. (By the way, I think I found this link from Journalista!, but I forget. I do try to credit my sources...). Also, that's a really interesting blog, by a professional translator; I might have to add it to the blogroll.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE:
Chris Butcher presents a primer on the works of manga artist Taiyo Matsumoto, inspired by his excitement about Viz's decision to re-release his Black and White, retitled as Tekkon Concrete. I think the only thing I've read by Matsumoto is Blue Spring (which was really good), but I have a few pamphlet-format issues of Black and White that I found in a discount bin; I need to read those.
From The Comics Reporter (who also linked to my Shojo Beat review): a recent strip that Peter Bagge did for Reason magazine, about bums. I enjoy the strips he's done for them, even if I often disagree with his opinions.