Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grinding the AX: Too much to take in all at once

I may be late to most of the discussion that has occurred around Top Shelf's AX anthology of "alternative manga" (notably the great tweet-fest that happened back in September, which I would have loved to participate in if I had gotten to the book by then), but it's still something that begs to be written about, even if just to point out all the neat stuff contained within.  I'm finding it too overwhelming to do all at once though, so it looks like this will be the first of several posts, covering a few stories at a time.  Take that, coherent structure!

"The Watcher"
By Osamu Kanno

This first story certainly kicks things off with the weirdness, seeing a couple watching from their house as a drunk/homeless guy with a knife stuck in his head gets pissed on by a dog.  She then proceeds to strip naked and dance while the man acts as an announcer, or something.  It's kind of hard to tell, since the art, which might be "bad-good" or just plain bad, consists mostly of their oversized heads wobbling atop stiff bodies as they stand around and don't do anything.  There's probably some sort of message here about Japanese society and people's tendency to ignore the bad things going on in the world in favor of their own dumb interests, but it's just strange and kind of gross, without being very appealing.  Not the best way to start off this anthology, but luckily, things get better pretty much immediately.

"Love's Bride"
By Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Now this is more like it.  Tatsumi has kind of become the leading art-manga personality on this side of the Pacific, so a collection like this wouldn't be complete without him.  This story is kind of typical for him, if a bit less bleak than he can get, seeing a guy heartbroken after a breakup, with the only comfort being his weird relationship with a monkey in the local zoo.  The usual inability to communicate leads to some awkwardness and a humorously profane implied ending, with the best scene being the one where the guy tries to show his feelings for his girlfriend by imitating the monkey's mating call:

Like most Tatsumi, this can be really depressing stuff if you let it, all about the grind of modern life (or Modern Times, a reference seen in the guy working in a factory filled with gears) reducing people to unhappiness and isolation, our very progress de-evolving us back into animals.  But really, it's a funny bit of deadpan humor, with our hero finding happiness in the only person who will accept him, who just happens to be non-human.  Heartwarming!

"Conch of the Sky"
By Imiri Sakabashira

And we're back to the weird and surreal.  This seems to be a dream scene (or possibly a drug trip) in which a narrator describes people aging, nightmares and tentacles infecting the denizens of a house, a train running through different parts of his body, and people and creatures running around in chaos, all illustrated with plenty of strange imagery surrounded by lots of black.  There's some pretty striking stuff going on here, like an opening image of, well, read the caption:

Or a train emerging from a tunnel of guts and innards, or monsters intermingling with people and modern technology, or, you know, any panel in the story.  There seems to be a feeling of anger at old people, perhaps showing an antipathy toward an older generation, or just authority in general, but it's mostly just a bunch of strangeness that is, nonetheless, kind of arresting in its unique freakiness.  These early stories seem to be setting the mood for the bizarre, along with the somewhat mundane.  It's apparent that this anthology can contain all manner of stories; you never know what's going to come next.

"Rooftop Elegy"
By Takao Kawasaki

See, here's something completely different.  This one sees two hapless fellows stumble upon one another on a rooftop, one being a suicidal salaryman and the other a Golgo-13-style hitman.  When the latter indicates that he'll kill the former, he suddenly gains a new appreciation for life.  But there are several more twists and turns to be had in a short space, such that it all seems like a parody of hard-boiled tough-guy stories, with the art that combines shadowed realism with awkward proportions, wacky faces, and goofy poses only exacerbating this feeling.  Whether this was meant to be the case, or if it is just a bit of off-kilter badassery crammed into a few pages, it's pretty entertaining stuff.  And, you know, there's the usual commentary about the meaningless of modern life and whatnot; that seems to be a developing theme here...

"Inside the Gourd"
By Ayako Akiyama

This one is kind of hard to parse, possibly being a magical-realist love story, or a fable of some sort, but it's interesting either way, and there's something romantic and poetic about the tale of a lonely guy who watches a caterpillar grow inside a gourd, seeing it as a girl growing up in a little house, and eventually being led to the actual house to meet the girl he had been viewing.  What does it mean? Anything?  Or is it just a neat little cyclical tale of love (and voyeurism)?  One suspects that it might be another comment about the inability to connect to people, forcing worried mothers to rely on magical ends to find wives for their sons, but it's a pretty gentle version of that trope, rather than a savage satire.  I'll keep an eye out for the Disney movie.

By Shigehiro Okada

Ah, more about the disaffection caused by today's society, or something.  This one is still comedy though, with a weird guy wearing women's clothing (as an attempt to "embody how the existence of the self is lost", or possibly just due to mental illness) wandering the streets and being mistaken for a performance artist by another strangely-dressed young girl, who proceeds to seduce him and then totally get skeeved out when he spouts a bunch of philosophical nonsense afterward.  It's pretty funny, with some art that's reminiscent of mainstream manga style but just a little bit dirtier and grimier.  But damn, these stories about modern life grinding people down to nothing are starting to run together already; it's probably best to not read these all at once to keep from getting either suicidal or contemptuous of those whining Japanese.

"Push Pin Woman"
By Katsuo Kawai

This one might be my favorite story of the volume so far, or at least the one that has stuck in my mind through its simple way of combining symbolism and plot.  The story is about a woman whose boyfriend left her for someone else, so to punish him, she pushes a series of push pins into his back, eventually making it look "like the scales of a beautiful snake".

He takes it, saying that the pain is "nothing compared to how I've hurt you", and then he leaves, his new lover removing the pins and leaving them scattered across the space between them, preventing the push pin woman from ever trying to reconnect with him.  I don't know why this resonates with me, but I love the way the plot is presented as if it is a real incident, but everything is symbolic, even her symbol of the push pins.  He may regret hurting her, but his new love can ease the pain, and that same purposely-inflicted lesson is what prevents the push pin woman from trying to win him back.  That's all there is to it, but it's so exquisitely simple (due, in large part, to the thin-lined, backgroundless art) that it becomes sort of profound.  To those of us who are easily impressed, anyway.

"A Broken Soul"
By Nishioka Brosis

I don't mean to be a broken record, but this certainly seems like another "modern life is soulless" sort of story, about a guy whose soul has broken, leading him to install a crank in his head as some sort of fix.  It doesn't make much sense, although the point seems to be that even though he is fundamentally damaged, he continues with his life, going through the motions as if nothing is different, and he continues to do so without any change after he has been "fixed".  You know the routine by now, right?  Eat, work, fuck, repeat, life is meaninless, etc.  There's not really anything new to say here, but the art is pretty fascinating, long, thin-limbed people holding the same poses, defined by stippled textures.  It might not be an interesting message, but it looks quite pretty.

"Into Darkness"
By Takato Yamamoto

And we're back to the "freaky dreamscape" template of story, this one seeming to be an erotic-grotesque thing about a young woman being tied up and possibly raped, or at least fantasizing about it happening to her. But the thing that sets it apart is the art, which consists of intensely-detailed swirls of mossily organic, slimy  imagery, demon faces and skulls peeking out from amidst the chaotic tendrils caressing her body, flowers and symbols of life mixing with death and decay, all wrapping around the core of orgasmic ecstasy.  Yikes.  Like a lot of this sort of story, I don't know what it means, but it's pretty amazing to behold, and it certainly leaves an impression.


And that's it for this session.  Back for more soon, hopefully.  Like I said, this is too much to handle in one go, so we'll see how much I can process for next time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weathercraft: Uh, wha?

By Jim Woodring

I must say, I’ve never understood Jim Woodring’s “Frank” comics, although I’m also not sure there’s much to understand, since they seem to be operating on a visceral level, presenting constant surreal, dreamlike imagery tinged with unsettling grotesquerie, seemingly wrenched from Woodring’s subconscious and onto the page without much thought as to what they are supposed to represent, if anything. This graphic novel certainly seems to invite interpretation, however, containing a narrative of suffering and discovery, but one does wonder if it is all an elaborate joke by Woodring, an attempt to show off a lot of weirdness and see how people try to explain it. If so, it’s a pretty great gag, and a really well-crafted one, from the flowery-worded jacket which introduces the characters to the slaved-over art that sumptuously details the phantasmagorific world, conveying its story completely through wordless action.

That story is a disturbing one, sure to leave residue in some readers’ nightmares; it sees a human-pig hybrid creature named Manhog get repeatedly tormented, whether through the torture of more powerful beings or just the pain and misery of his horrible life in the muck, until he pulls a nasty creature out of his throat, and upon destroying it, is suddenly gifted with something akin to sentience, an ability to reason and see beauty in the world. This doesn’t necessarily keep him out of trouble, but he does try to direct his own destiny, even discovering that he can manipulate the fabric of reality itself. He doesn’t end up any happier in the end, whether because his reasoning mind ends up making things as bad for him as they were before, or because he was being manipulated by godlike tricksters and never had any real control at all. It all seems to be some sort of comment on humanity, the cruelty of life and capriciousness of nature, with man in all his intelligence being only one slight step up from beasts and never able to truly understand the world. Cheerful stuff!

It’s certainly compelling though, especially because of Woodring’s incredible control over his artwork, which gives everything a realistic weight and texture, no matter how strange. His precise line is so consistent that nothing seems out of place here, and even the most bizarre inventions of his psyche seem to fit in with the more recognizable imagery. It seems like a fully realized ecosystem, although one we could never hope to understand, populated with creepy monsters prone to casual cruelty. There is plenty to disturb the reader, however, such as a pair of feminine beings who seem wrong, sporting backward-bending knees, winglike protrusions, and distended faces; their actions stand out as especially evil and manipulative as they gleefully show Manhog a parade of horrors, including scenes from what appears to be the “real” world that are, for him, the most disturbing sight of all.

So, does it all mean anything? Who knows? But it’s certainly a fascinating read, full of arresting images that seem like they are triggering some deep impulse in our lizard brains, and that’s a pretty significant achievement in itself. If nothing else, it’s often quite funny, as in a scene in which Manhog is bathing in a pond when a pair of what appear to be giant frogs walk up, open their mouths wide, pull out harps, and play a tune, encouraging him to sing along. If you can accept that as something entertaining and play along with its dreamlike logic, you should be able to enjoy the book at the very least, and maybe you’ll even feel like you get something out of it. I know I did, and even if it was just confusion, it was worth it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Playwright: Oh, to be an aging, celibate, wallflower

Sorry to anybody who cares, but life has been crazy as of late.  I hope to have more new reviews up soon, but for now, I've got several that I wrote a couple months ago to be published elsewhere that did not end up being used, so I'll be posting them over the next couple weeks.  Enjoy:

The Playwright
By Eddie Campbell and Daren White

So, you want some literary comics? Well, this is your lucky day, since this new Eddie Campbell graphic novel is like the comics version of a Philip Roth novel, all about a boring middle-aged writer and his sexual hangups. That should get The New Yorker’s attention! But don’t despair, it’s not a stodgy attempt to win a Pulitzer, it’s an Eddie Campbell comic, which means plenty of striking imagery, some very enjoyable wordplay (assisted by Daren White, who also worked with Campbell on Batman: The Order of Beasts), and some interesting use of comics to make a mostly internal story lively and fun.

And yes, this is a very inwardly-focused story, taking place almost entirely inside the eponymous character’s head, with captions hovering over almost every panel detailing his thoughts, desires, worries, and fantasies, although they are related in the third person, providing some remove from the intimate details and making it less of a confessional and more of an examination of a subject. But it’s far from dryly analytical, instead painting a very human portrait of a flawed, lonely man who can’t help but constantly think of sex, when all he really wants is somebody to share his life with. He’s intelligent, and he’s managed to pour all his hang-ups and difficulties with relationships (especially his family) into his art, ending up successful and recognized, but still unhappy. He might be kind of pathetic, addicted to internet pornography, imagining every woman he sees naked (yet judging them for their imperfections, though he isn’t exactly an Adonis), and being too timid to form a bond with anyone outside of a obligatory interaction (his social life consists of hanging out at a local bar so he can imagine himself part of the crowd that comes in to watch soccer).

In anyone else’s hands, this would be a depressingly sad story of an achingly unhappy man, but Campbell manages to use just the right tone, making the flights of fancy funny and relatable and exaggerating the sexual obsessions to a degree that they seem kind of ridiculously recognizable rather than horrifying. The art varies from lusciously smooth curves depicting the fantasies, to harsh scratchiness when concentrating on the playwright’s awkwardness, always exhibiting a wonderful grasp of posture and fluid movement. The Campbellian details and flourishes are all here, but they fit within the structure of the narrative, contained within the regular panels marching steadily across the landscape-oriented pages.

While the potential is there for this to be a navel-gazing exercise straining for acceptability from the literary establishment, it’s anything but, full of live and spirit, recognizable in its exploration of human foibles and the difficulty of forming meaningful human relationships. One must exit one’s safety zone in order to make contact with another, and while that’s a big step, it’s a worthwhile one. That such a notion can be communicated so subtly, movingly, and entertainingly is a testament to Eddie Campbell’s skill. He’s a keeper.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Boys: This is no fun, but it's like, real, man

Motion comics links:  I'm not usually interested in motion comics, which tend to be cheesy bits of limited animation with poor voice work, falling in between the two mediums and utilizing none of the strengths of either, making for the worst of both worlds.  But this one is interesting: Dean Haspiel's "Sex Planet", which retains the word balloons while adding Haspiel's own voice and adding a little bit of interest in the motion of graphical elements.  Still not as good as the comic, but actually not terrible.

For an example of the other kind of motion comics, you can watch a 40-minute-long adaptation of the first volume of Dan Hipp's Gyakushu on Hulu (!).  I wouldn't normally recommend it, but any exposure for that awesome series is worth pointing out.  Hipp has an interesting blog post about it, where he notes that he didn't really have anything to do with the adaptation, but the real notable news is that Tokyopop has finally made the third and final volume of the series available, if only through print-on-demand.  I know I'll be springing for it.

The Boys, volume 7: The Innocents
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Darick Robertson, John McCrea, and Russ Braun

Well, this is certainly an unpleasant read.  It's purposely so, however, an impressive bit of long-term plotting and characterization on Garth Ennis' part, the inevitable conclusion (but hopefully not the final one) of what seemed like silly poor-taste jokes at the outset of the series.  That's right, I'm not talking about the rampant rape, murder, baby-eating, and pedophilia that the super-characters in this series often get up to, but the dissolution of Wee Hughie and Annie January's relationship, which inevitably resulted from choices made and damages done at the very beginning of the series, then percolated under their every interaction up until the climax of this volume, in which they exploded to the surface with devastating results.  It's horrifyingly ugly to watch, like being present for a nasty fight between married friends and trying to look the other way while they air their dirty laundry in public.  That makes it a testament to Ennis' facility with characterization, as he turned what started out as mostly comedic bits of introduction to the world of the comic (that is, the accidental death of Hughie's girlfriend as some superheroic collateral damage, and Starlight's sexual-favor-requiring initiation into the world's premier super-team) and then explored their consequences, throwing the characters together and letting them develop a realistic relationship that stood out through its depth of emotion (as well as being one of the few bits of actual positivity in the series) then demonstrating the pain caused by hurtful secrets, tearing them apart in a scene that is painfully realistic in its depiction of the ugly things that emotionally injured people can do to each other simply through their words.

That's the real power of this series: the realization that the awfulness depicted throughout has consequences.  The horrible events that constantly occur aren't just there for jokes and shock value, but to show how the depravities of society can work their way into everything, polluting the best things about us and ruining everything.  It's a broken world we live in, and while Ennis exaggerates it by clothing it in spandex, horrible things still happen outside our windows, and it affects us all.  Maybe he can manage to bring things back around to some sort of happy ending, but it's looking less and less likely, and thus more and more like the real world.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I guess this is what has been consuming my attention lately...

I had a blast reading MAD's Greatest Artists: Sergio Aragones - Five Decades of His Finest Works, but while it's a great book, full of hilarious cartooning and thousands of densely-packed gags, my obsessions run specific, so I was looking for any Groo appearances that I could find.  And lo and behold, here are some (but probably not all) of them:

Here's the first appearance that I found, from a piece about how the hippies from the 60s had grown up to be yuppies in the 80s, and this fellow is showing off some fashion that's definitely in poor taste.  The Groo crew started early with the self-deprecating jokes.

This  one is from "A MAD Peek Behind the Scenes at a Terrorist Training Camp" (times have changed since the 80s, haven't they?)

Later, "A MAD Peek Behind the Scenes at a Comic Book Convention" not only sees Sergio drawing his creation (and being ignored in favor of a woman dressed as a jungle chick):

But also people cosplaying as Chakaal:

And Sage:

This bit of background from "The MAD People Watcher's Guide to a Shopping Mall at Christmas" didn't scan well, due to being right in the center of the page, but I had to share it:


It's a "Groo's Cheese Dip" shop!

This fellow helping hold up the title of "MAD's Handy Clues, Hints, and Tipoffs that You're Really, Unquestionably, Without a Doubt Stupid" apparently doesn't take very good care of his comics.

Here's Groo eating in a basic training mess hall.

Here, he's a popular bit of tattoo art.

And here he figures in an evolved fish's visions of the world to come.

This detail from the intricate cover of MAD Super Special #62 sees Sergio exhausted while drawing Groo (and other stuff), and also sporting a huge moustache that makes up part of Alfred E. Neuman's jawline.

A Groo delivery truck (along with a Magnor one!) apparently caused this huge pileup in the title of "A MAD Look at Cars).

And it looks like kids enjoy Groo-themed pinball.

In later years, Groo's appearances seem to have dwindled to occasional copies of the comics, such as in the window of this comic shop:

Or on the field at this chaotic Super Bowl scene, for some reason:

Or even on Sergio's drawing board:

Or at a garage sale he's holding:

I don't think that silly mendicant will ever go away, and I'll be happy every time I glimpse him lurking in the corner of a Sergio-drawn scene.  Long live Groo!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Harbor Moon: Spooooooky

Webcomics links: For National (Graphic) Novel Writing Month, Colleen Frakes is once again drawing a whole damn comic in 30 days and posting it online as she goes, featuring the continuing adventures of Sir Christopher.  Here's the beginning. Last year's was pretty great, so I'm all over this.

Tom Scioli's new webcomic, American Barbarian, looks like another example of the Kirby-style coolness that he does so well; I like what I've read so far.

Also really good reading, if not exactly new, is Jesse Moynihan's Forming, a weird, funny trip through mythology and the dawn of civilization, or something.

This is one on which I'm late, since the whole stupid brouhaha that inspired it has blown over by now, but Ken Dahl/Gabby Schultz did a comic which was an excellent response to the idiocy that occurred when Kate Beaton made some comments about being uncomfortable with some of the gross "praise" she has gotten.  For a depressing bonus, you can read the comments on the comic to see an example of exactly the phenomenon he is describing.

Not really a webcomic: This 2000 AD story by Robbie Morrison and Frank Quitely is pretty fucking awesome, a great example of the action that the latter can draw so well.

I meant to have this up before Halloween, but that obviously didn't happen.  Let's see if I can actually write some shit for once...

Harbor Moon
Written by Ryan Colucci and Dikran Ornekian (story by Brian Anderson)
Art by Pawel Sambor (Art Director: Karol Wisniewski; Supporting Artist: Nikodem Cabala)

Ambition is certainly a nice aspect to have in comics, but there's something to be said for general artistic and storytelling competence as well.  This book, which was financed and produced by Ryan Colucci but published through Arcana, has plenty of the former, apparently attempting to weave a mythology involving werewolves (that might be a spoiler, but the title kind of gives it away) and werewolf hunters and illustrate it with moody, Ben Templesmith-influenced style, but it's so hard to follow on a basic level that it seems like a lot of effort without much of a foundation to build it on.

The best thing about the book is definitely the coloring, done in a computery style that really makes certain hues shine on the glossy pages, adding some moody deep greens and blues in atmospheric scenes, and harsh reds for the gory parts; it lends an air of professionalism that much of the rest of the art doesn't live up to.  No, this is the kind of book in which multiple broad-shouldered dudes do a lot of grimacing at each other, and the only way to tell them apart is through hair color or the fact that one of them wears glasses or something.  The story doesn't help, being a pretty simple thing about a guy getting a message from his long-lost father and tracing it to the titular small town in Maine where the populace is unfriendly, only to uncover a dark secret about them, as well as himself.  It's pretty standard, and there's little that's remarkable about it, other than that it lasts a lot longer than it seems to need to as the protagonist keeps wandering around the town, getting in arguments with the locals and flirting with a hot schoolteacher, before it all ends with the monster hunters crashing the town for a big action scene.

It's all decent enough on a basic story level, but that art makes following which character is doing what a chore, and this combined with the tendency of the word balloons to be placed such that it can be hard to tell what order they should be read in makes for a read that is much more confusing and frustrating than it should be.  When it comes time for action, the artists' grasp of movement and the way objects and bodies interact with each other in space is shaky, making for more muddled scenes that are hard to follow.  It's kind of an amateurish effort all around.  Of course, the book does deliver where it counts, in monstrous imagery and bloody violence, so if that's all you're looking for, you'll find it here.  Unfortunately, those of us looking for a good, well-told story to deliver any of that will have to search elsewhere.

Make Me a Woman: Regarding coverage

Hey, here's something.  More to come soon, I hope.

Make Me a Woman
By Vanessa Davis

Let's examine that cover, which I didn't really like at first glance, but has grown on me as I regularly glanced at it as the book sat in its spot on my nightstand, waiting to be read.  Having read some of Vanessa Davis' comics here and there (especially the ones posted online at Tablet, many of which are included herein), the emphasis in them seems to be very personal, autobiographical tales full of keen insights, with plenty of well-done facial expressions and conversational scenes.  This cover, on the other hand, eliminates that type of expression entirely, and while at first glance it seems like a not-especially-well-drawn moment from Davis' life, it makes sense upon closer examination.  The angle is an odd one, looking down over the sink and toilet as the subject sits painting her toenails, perched in an awkward position, and it makes for a scene that is intimate without being salacious, a moment of normal bodily maintenance that we just happen to be watching.  While the right hand does seem a bit club-like, with its arm limply hanging from out of the top of the image, it communicates a sense of contortion, Davis' weight leaning on the right leg and the wrist twisting inward.  Along with the splayed fingers of the other hand, the hunched-over posture that pushes the left thigh up against Davis' torso, and the glimpses of intimate apparel, it gives the image a feeling of awkwardness, and along with the title, captured in a word balloon to communicate it as a spoken wish of Davis', it shows how the whole scene is part of what she goes through, trying to present herself to the world as a competent, attractive adult.  But really, it's all surface, just a coat of paint to add some aesthetic value to what people see.  The close-up cropping of the image also speaks volumes; we don't even see Davis' face.  We're only getting a portion of her here, one angle, and while it might be a revealing one, it's far from the whole.  Davis might be letting readers into her life in her comics, but while she does work to make them interesting, pleasing, and relatable, there's still some distance.  And that's the book in a nutshell.

The actual book is as excellent as expected, a good sampling of Davis' comics on subjects like adolescence, family, Jewish-ness, and art, interspersed with selections from her sketchbooks and some wonderful images of attractively zaftig women.  It's a pretty great package of work from one of comics' young stars, and if you haven't experienced her work before, this is a perfect place to start.  Please, judge this book by its cover.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rip-Off Theatre presents: Things that would belong on Tumblr, if I knew what Tumblr was supposed to be for: Space-wasting memes, they are a diversion

This comes courtesy of the great Shaenon Garrity, with the following instructions:

All the animated movies in the world, sort of

- X what you saw
- O what you haven't finished/seen or saw sizable portions
- Bold what you loved
- Italicize what you disliked/hated
- Leave unchanged if neutral

[X] 101 Dalmatians (1961):  I always liked this one, and as a kid, I though "Crazy woman driver!" was an absolutely hilarious line.  I hope I've become less sexist since then...
[X] Alice in Wonderland (1951)
[X] Bambi (1942)
[X] Cinderella (1950)
[X] Dumbo (1941)
[X] Fantasia (1940)
[X] Lady and the Tramp (1955)
[X] Mary Poppins (1964)
[X] Peter Pan (1953):  I loved this one as a kid, and there are parts I still get delighted when I watch (most stuff with Captain Hook), but damn, those Indians are fucking racist, aren't they?
[X] Pinocchio (1940)
[X] Sleeping Beauty (1959)
[X] Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
[ ] Song of the South (1946):  This one is so notorious, I just want to see it out of curiosity someday.

[O] The Aristocats (1970)
[ ] The Black Cauldron (1985)
[X] The Fox and the Hound (1981): I remember kind of liking this as a kid, maybe? The farmer's pants fall down when he shoots, that's funny.  Plus, bear fight!
[X] The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
[X] The Jungle Book (1967)
[O] The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977): I have no idea if I've seen all of this.
[X] Oliver and Company (1986): Saw this in the theater (I would have been 7), don't think I've seen it since.
[X] Pete's Dragon (1977): I'm sure I saw this as a kid, but I barely remember any of it.
[X] The Rescuers (1977)
[X] Robin Hood (1973): Another one I used to love as a kid, but isn't actually all that good.
[X] The Sword In The Stone (1963): This one isn't bad at all, from what I remember.

[X] Aladdin (1992): I was the right age when this came out/was on video to really like it and not quite be too old.  Man, I thought the action was awesome, Robin Williams was hilarious, and the music was good.  Not so much now, but it's still all right.
[X] Beauty and the Beast (1991)
[X] A Goofy Movie (1995)
[O] Hercules (1997)
[X] The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996): What a crazy, doomed-to-failure idea for a kids' movie. I should watch this again and see what it's like with the space of years.
[X] The Lion King (1994): Everybody loves this one, right? Maybe I saw it too much as a kid, but I'm thinking it was kind of boring.  It's probably on the other side of that "too old" line.
[X] The Little Mermaid (1989): I gotta say, I studied the scene where Ariel gets legs and swims bottomless up to the surface very intently as a young'un.
[O] Mulan (1998): Is this the first Obnoxious Eddie Murphy Sidekick Animal role?  That's most of what I remember about this one.
[X] Pocahontas (1995)
[X] The Rescuers Down Under (1990): I loved this one as a kid, for some reason.
[O] Tarzan (1999): The thing I remember most about what I've seen of this is the gruesome death-by-hanging of the bad guy. Tough stuff for a kids' joint.

[X] Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
[X] Bolt (2008)
[ ] Brother Bear (2003)
[ ] Chicken Little (2005): I hated this without even seeing it.
[X] Dinosaur (2000)
[ ] The Emperor's New Groove (2000): I've seen episodes of the spin-off TV show...
[X] Fantasia 2000 (2000)
[ ] Home on the Range (2004)
[X] Lilo & Stitch (2002): This one is pretty great, isn't it?
[X] Meet the Robinsons (2007):  I actually thought this was quite good.
[X] Treasure Planet (2002):  This, on the other hand, was kind of awful.

[X] A Bug's Life (1998): So is this or Cars the accepted "worst" Pixar movie? It's still pretty good.
[X] Cars (2006)
[O] Finding Nemo (2003): This one's pretty good, and some people like it best, but I don't think I've ever seen it all the way through, and I don't feel the need to do so.  Weird.
[X] The Incredibles (2004)
[X] Monsters Inc. (2001)
[X] Ratatouille (2007)
[X] Toy Story (1995):  It might be nostalgia, what with seeing this at a time when I was outgrowing toys but still fondly remembering them, but I still think of this as one of my favorite movies of all time.
[X] Toy Story 2 (1999): I don't hate this movie, but I don't think I hold it in the esteem that a lot of people seem to.  It's a pretty good sequel, but not much more.  We'll see what I think when I get around to the third one...
[ ] Toy Story 3 (2010)
[X] Wall-E (2008) 
[X] Up (2009): This was great, but those first 15 minutes are what really stick.  Man, was there anybody who didn't readily admit to crying at that scene?

[] All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
[X] An American Tail (1986)
[X] An American Tail: Fieval Goes West (1991)
[O] Anastasia (1997)
[X] The Land Before Time (1988)
[ ] The Pebble and the Penguin (1995)
[ ] Rock-a-Doodle (1991)
[X] The Secret of NIMH (1982): I remember liking this well enough, but when I read the book, I was pissed that they added a bunch of magic and shit.  Was this my first experience with a disappointing adaptation?
[ ] Thumbelina (1994)
[X] Titan AE (2000)
[X] A Troll in Central Park (1994): I saw this many more times than I should have, due to my little brother being obsessed with it, as young kids are wont to do.  It's kind of awful.

[O] The Adventures of Mark Twain (1986)
[X] Chicken Run (2000)
[X] Corpse Bride (2005)
[ ] James and the Giant Peach (1996)
[X] The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
[X] Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
[X] Coraline (2009): And here's an adaptation that might even improve on the original.

[X] Antz (1998)
[X] Bee Movie (2007)
[X] Happy Feet (2006)
[X] Ice Age (2002)
[X] Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)
[ ] Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)[X] Kung Fu Panda (2008):  Not bad; there's some cool artistic stuff going on in this one.
[X] Madagascar (2005)
[ ] Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
[ ] Monster House (2006)
[ ] Over the Hedge (2006)
[X] The Polar Express (2004): Wow, this was awful. A true adaptation would have lasted maybe 15 minutes, if you stretched it out, so they added a bunch of noisy, stupid nonsense. Painful to sit through.
[X] Robots (2005)
[X] A Shark's Tale (2004)
[X] Shrek (2001): People sure loved this when it came out, didn't they, like it was some sort of amazing combination of adult and kid humor, but it was actually rudimentarily-animated kiddie shit with a few slightly-dirty jokes and cultural references thrown in, back when CGI was new enough to seem fancy.  I don't hate it, but goddamn was it overrated, and each sequel just got more tiresome.
[X] Shrek 2 (2004)
[X] Shrek The Third (2007)
[ ] Shrek Forever After (2010)
[X] Monsters vs. Aliens (2009): This wasn't half bad, mostly by not being flat out terrible.

[ ] Arabian Knight (aka The Thief and the Cobbler) (1995): I'd really like to see this, any version.
[ ] The Last Unicorn (1982)
[ ] Light Years (1988)
[X] The Triplets of Belleville (2003): Goddamn, this is a really fucking good movie.
[X] Persepolis (2007)
[X] Waltz With Bashir (2008): I liked this one a lot; good, serious animation for adults.  It's like them comical books I always talk about.
[ ] Watership Down (1978)
[ ] When the Wind Blows (1988)
[X] Wonderful Days (2003): Korean anime-style sci-fi; I remember it being decent.
[X] Yellow Submarine (1968)

[X] The Cat Returns (2002): Pretty cute and fun.  Cats!
[X] Grave of the Fireflies (1988): Devastating.
[X] Howl's Moving Castle (2004): As good as most of these.
[X] Kiki's Delivery Service (1989): Gotta love the girly stuff.
[X] Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986): Fun adventure, with a surprising amount of violence.
[X] Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979): Not a bad beginning.
[ ] My Neighbors The Yamadas (1999)
[X] My Neighbor Totoro (1993): I love the gentle atmosphere here.
[X] Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984): An even better start.
[X] Only Yesterday (1991): I think I've seen this; it's not very memorable, unfortunately.
[X] Pom Poko (Tanuki War) (1994): Raccoon testicles!
[X] Porco Rosso (1992): Flying pig!
[X] Princess Mononoke (1999): Damn good, if you don't watch the dubbed version, which was full of horribly miscast celebrity voices.
[X] Spirited Away (2002): I think this is my favorite, but only barely ahead of all the others.
[X] Whisper of the Heart (1995): So, so sweet.
[X] Ponyo (2009): Nice, if simplistic.

[X] Millennium Actress (2001)
[X] Paprika (2006): Satoshi Kon will be sorely missed.  Damn, this was such a good movie.
[X] Perfect Blue (1999)
[X] Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

[ ] She and Her Cat (1999)
[ ] Voices of a Distant Star (2001)
[ ] The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004)
[ ] 5 Centimeters per Second (2007): I really ought to see one or more of these at some point.

[X] Akira (1989): I've only seen this once, and I didn't understand it very well.  I should watch it again sometime, and read the manga.
[O] Angel's Egg (1985): Early Mamoru Oshii; I should watch it again and try to understand it.
[ ] Appleseed (2004)
[ ] Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)
[ ] Arcadia of My Youth (U.S. Title - Vengeance of the Space Pirate) (1982)
[X] Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2003): A pretty darn good long episode of the series, although not reaching the heights of the best ones.
[ ] The Dagger of Kamui (U.S. Title - Revenge of the Ninja Warrior) (1985)
[ ] Dirty Pair: Project Eden (1987)
[X] End of Evangelion (1997): Ditto what I said for Akira (except the part about reading the manga).
[X] Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (2007)
[X] Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance (2009)
[ ] Fist of the North Star (1986)
[ ] Galaxy Express 999 (1979)
[X] Ghost in the Shell (1996): This movie is awesome, full of cool ideas and great action.  I try to rewatch it every so often.
[O] Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004): I think I had trouble staying awake for this one; I should try again...
[X] The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006): This was recommended, but I didn't think it was all that good.  Kind of a low-rent Miyazaki, without a compelling hook and a boring character arc.
[ ] Lensman (1984)
[ ] Macross: Do You Remember Love (U.S. Title - Clash of the Bionoids) (1984)
[X] Memories (1995): A cool sci-fi anthology, with the highlight being Satoshi Kon's "Magnetic Rose".  The other parts are decent though.
[X] Metropolis (2001): I think this might have been my introduction to Tezuka; it helped me learn to love Mr. Mustachio.
[ ] Neo-Tokyo (1986)
[ ] Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985)
[X] Ninja Scroll (1993)
[ ] Patlabor the Movie (1989)
[ ] The Professional: Golgo 13 (1983)
[X] Project A-ko (1986)
[ ] Robot Carnival (1987)
[ ] Robotech: The Shadow Chronicle (2006)
[ ] Silent Möbius (1991)
[X] The Sky Crawlers (2008): Mamoru Oshii's latest, and it's kind of a snoozefest.
[ ] Space Adventure Cobra (1982)
[X] Steamboy (2004): Late-period Otomo; it's no Akira, but it's fun.
[ ] Sword of the Stranger (2007)
[ ] Unico and the Island of Magic (1983):  Tezuka! I really want to see this one.
[ ] Urotsukidoji: The Movie (1987):  The tentacle-rape classic; I wouldn't mind seeing it out of curiosity.
[ ] Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer (1984): Mamoru Oshii adapting Rumiko Takahashi; I should try to get my hands on this one.
[ ] Urusei Yatsura: Only You (1982)
[ ] Vampire Hunter D (1985)
[ ] Vampire Hunter D Bloodlust (2000)
[O] Wings of Honneamise: Royal Space Force (1987):  This is supposed to be good, but I fell asleep watching it, so I wouldn't know.

[ ] American Pop (1981)
[X] The Animatrix (2003): I think Shinichiro Watanabe's "Detective Story" was my favorite part, but there were some other really cool bits too.
[ ] Beavis & Butthead Do America (1996).
[ ] Cool World (1992)
[X] Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001): This was supposed to be a revolution in computer animation, but it ended up being a leap forward in boringness.
[X] Final Fantasy: Advent Children (2005): This was better, if only for superfans of Final Fantasy 7.
[ ] Fire & Ice (1983)
[ ] Fritz the Cat (1972)
[ ] Halo Legends (2009)
[X] Heavy Metal (1981): Stupid, but amusing in parts.
[ ] Heavy Metal 2000 (2000): This is supposed to be awful, but I'm curious about it, possibly just because of the original.
[ ] Hey Good Lookin' (1982)
[ ] Lady Death (2004)
[X] A Scanner Darkly (2006): Probably the best Philip K. Dick movie adaptation, with animation being the only medium to make the Scramble Suit believable.  
[ ] Sita Sings the Blues
[X] South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
[ ] Street Fight (Coonskin) (1975)
[X] Waking Life (2001): I fucking loved this when it came out, but I don't know if I would think it was as deep if I watched it again.  I'll probably still like the animation.

[ ] The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
[ ] Animal Farm (1954)
[ ] Animalympics (1980)
[X] Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon The Movie (2007)
[X] Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000): As a former regular reader of Ain't It Cool News, I remember there being a big uproar about this being censored because it was too disturbing for kids or something.  With a decade's perspective, it sure seems like a weird thing to get worked up about.
[X] Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
[ ] Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
[ ] The Brave Little Toaster (1988)
[ ] Bravestarr: The Movie (1988)
[ ] Cats Don't Dance (1997)
[O] Care Bears: The Movie (1985)
[X] Charlotte's Web (1973)
[ ] Fern Gully (1992)
[ ] G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987)
[ ] Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords (1986)
[ ] Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
[ ] He-Man & She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (1985)
[X] The Hobbit (1977)
[X] The Iron Giant (1999)
[ ] Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
[O] Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
[O] Lord of the Rings (1978)
[ ] Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1992)
[ ] My Little Pony: The Movie (1986)
[ ] Pink Floyd's The Wall (1982)
[O] The Prince of Egypt (1998)
[ ] Powerpuff Girls: The Movie (2002)
[ ] Quest For Camelot (1999)
[ ] Ringing Bell (1978)
[ ] The Road to El Dorado (2000)
[ ] Shinbone Alley (1971)
[X] Space Jam (1996): Not even Bill Murray could save this one.
[ ] Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)
[ ] Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
[ ] Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
[ ] Superman: Doomsday (2007)
[O] The Swan Princess (1994)
[X] Transformers: The Movie (1986)
[ ] Wizards (1977)
[X] Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
[ ] Wonder Woman (2009)
[ ] Balto (1995)
[X] Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)
Conclusion: I've seen lots of Disney, CGI crap, and well-regarded anime, but there's always more to watch.  Must...consume...more...media...