Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Top 10 Comics of 2005

Continuing my list of my favorite ten comics of the year...

10. Girls by the Luna Brothers (Image Comics). I really didn't know much about this comics before I picked up the trade, but I'm glad I bought it. It takes place in a small town, very down-to-earth, a little hickish. But then strange things begin to happen involving a girl that was picked up naked on the roadside. It feels really strange when things happen that shouldn't just because it seems so grounded in this all-American community. You kind of feel the shock that these people must be feeling. It's really interesting, even if the metaphors are pretty blatant. It's kind of a screwed-up horror book. Very fun.

9. The Acme Novelty Library Final Report to Shareholders and Saturday Rainy Day Fun Book by Chris Ware (Pantheon) Collecting Ware's comic strips from Rusty Brown to Jimmy Corrigan, from Quimby the Mouse to Big Tex, this book has it all: an ongoing strip that threads through the entire book, a comic strip you have to read in the dark, a comic strip on the edge of the book jacket...Chris Ware has to be the most creative book designer working in comics. I loved the Rusty Brown strips about an aging comic collector and the smart alec Quimby the Mouse. Ware has a way of digging deep into the human condition and laying bare the sadness within us all in his controlled art.

8. Superf*ckers by James Kochalka (Top Shelf) The crazy superhero book with a lot of swearing. I fell in love with James Kochalka while reading his American Elf collection of his sketchbook diaries. I just love his sensibilities. Superf*ckers is hilarious, with great strips about different superheroes living together and getting on each other's nerves.

7. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press) This book just keeps getting better, as Scott Pilgrim battles Ramona's ex-boyfriends one after another while fending off Knives, his ex, who just kicks ass in this volume.

6. Spellbinders: Signs and Wonders by Mike Carey and Steve Perkins (Marvel Comics) This is the witch story I've been waiting for. A new girl, Kate, comes to live in Salem with her parents, where she meets a group of real witches in a community where tension is high between the non-witches, the wannabes and the true witches. After a series of accidents, Kate soon discovers that she is being stalked by someone or something, and tries to understand the new powers that are manifesting within her. There are some genuinely scary moments in this great story, written by the man behind the acclaimed Lucifer series. And Mike Perkins' drawing is great. There are some scenes where I just had to stop and admire the art. Read more about this great series.

5. Black Hole by Charles Burns (Pantheon) Burns' decade-long book is told through beautiful, very-controlled art that is consistent throughout this monstrous volume, an incredible feat considering how long it took to create this book. This horror story is about a sexually-transmitted disease passed between teenagers that cause mutations in their bodies upon infection. There's a lot more going on, however, beneath the surface. This is a masterpiece that will be enjoyed for generations to come. Read more.

4. Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore and Gene Ha (DC/America's Best Comics) I'd never read Top Ten before picking up this graphic novel, so I was really surprised that I loved it as much as I did (The only ABC book I'd even read was Promethea). Taking place after World War II, this story takes place in a city completely populated by superheroes, monsters and robots, and examines the prejudices between these groups, and against the rest of the human world. It's really a very clever book with beautiful realistic art by Gene Ha. It follows two characters closely - Sky Witch and Jetlad - as they grow accustomed to their new environment, going in different directions.

3. Dampyr by Mauro Boselli, Maurizio Colombo and Majo (IDW Publishing) IDW is awesome for publishing this long-running European horror comic in America. These volumes follow a half-vampire, half-human hybrid who, after years of swindeling innocent people by curing them of bogus vampire problems, is placed in a situation where he confronts the real creatures and learns where his true destiny lies. Incorporating all manners of monsters, this book is big on action and horror and lots of fun.

2. Nana by Ai Yazawa (Viz) Chronicled in the pages of Shojo Beat (with the first volume of the trade just out), Nana follows two girls with the same name (Nana) as they find themselves and try to put past heartache behind them. As fate would have it, the two girls come to live together in Tokyo. Full of tender moments and beautiful art, this book just stole my heart. After I read the first story in Shojo Beat, I put it down and thought to myself "Is this the best comic that I've ever read?" Seriously, if you're going to check out any manga this year, let it be this one.

1. Ultra: Seven Days by the Luna Brothers (Image Comics) Ah, yes. The moment you've all been waiting for. This was probably unexpected. It was for me too. This book was sitting in my to-read pile for months before I finally got around to reading it. And I was utterly blown away. This is seriously the best superhero comic I've ever read. Although, there's more to it than that. It's more of a drama than a superhero story, following a woman named Pearl who works on a police squad of superheroes as Ultra. The superheros of this universe are celebrities and Ultra is one of the biggest, having dated the perfect man. This book examines her relationships with other superheroes, with the spotlight, and how she tries to feel normal despite the fear and inadaquacy she feels. Full of twists and shocks, as well as touching scenes and realistic dialogue, this book is a perfect ten, well-deserving of its title of best of the year.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Top 20 Comics of the Year: Part One

Okay, it's that time of year again, where lists dominate the internet, overwhelming us, pulling us this way and that. My list may not be a traditional view of the top twenty comics that have come out this past year, but they are the twenty I personally enjoyed the most. I'm not going to put something in my list just because I feel obligated to do so. And so, this is the first half of the best of the year...

20. Seven Soldiers: Guardian by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart (DC Comics) The new Manhatten Guardian surprised me by becoming my favorite of the maxiseries Seven Soldiers so far. I wasn't expecting much, but the creative zaniness of this story just worked, with each issue seeming like a story in its own right, all different from one another, but all great nonetheless.

19. Mora by Phil Harmon (Image Comics) A strange, disturbing horror story with three storylines drifting and overlapping through four issues. Read more

18. Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (and may I also mention the gorgeous covers by James Jean) (DC/Vertigo) This year's stories included the great "Homelands" arc, where we get to see where the NYC fables came from and who instigated their evacuation.

17. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona (Marvel Comics) The beginning of the second "season" of the series, with a giant leap forward in art by Alphona, and the runaways creating a new life for themselves in the ever-changing series.

16. Manhunter by Marc Andreyko and Jesus Saiz (and again, great covers by Jae Lee) (DC Comics) Including the "Manhunted" arc, this dark portrayal of superhero vigilante Kate Spencer is the best in years. A welcome new character in an already-crowded superhero universe.

15. Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday (Marvel Comics) My number one book last year with the awesome "Gifted" story falls to fifteenth place with "Dangerous," even though it was a great story despite harsh criticism.

14. Mnemovore by Hans Rodionoff, Ray Fawkes and Mike Huddleston (DC/Vertigo) A real creepy mini-series that experiments with the medium and creates a great atmosphere to get disturbed in. Read more about this little horror number.

13. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon) This is a great autobiography from a woman escaping a country plagued by war. She's really interesting and goes through some trying times in Europe, lonelier than she's ever been.

12. Lady Snowblood by Kazuo Koike and Kazuo Kamimura (Dark Horse) From the creator of Lone Wolf and Cub, this samurai series was the inspiration for the phenomenal Kill Bill movies. Read more about volume one of this series.

11. Sexy Voice and Robo by Iou Kuroda (Viz) This manga title I had trouble placing in my countdown. I was back and forth between this one and my number ten comic, but the other title won out. This is about a schoolgirl who uses her voice ala Veronica Mars to carry out missions for an enigmatic old man. Read more

Stay tuned for part two of my best of the year!

In passing...Black Widow to Zatanna

This past week was another slow one, as only a few comics came out for me. Aside from Frankenstein, here's what I read...

Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her #3 (of 6) - It's never a good sign when you have to go back through a comic to refresh yourself as to what happened... These past two Black Widow mini-series have been entertaining, but nothing to brag about. Devin Grayson and Greg Rucka's explorations of the Russian spy's escapades (under the Marvel Knights imprint also) were much better, as stories that had focus, lively characters, cool moments...in other words, everything Richard K. Morgan's versions don't have. Really, the only thing this series has going for it is the art, and even then, Bill Sienkiewicz is only doing the finishes. 4/10

Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4 (of 4) - The wacky tale of magic comes to a head here as Zatanna has a cosmic magical battle. Chalk-full of those cool moments and interesting characters that I mentioned before, Zatanna delivers on all levels, as (like Alan Moore's Promethea), this comic breaks through the traditional structure of comics and explores panel composition. Like the other titles in the Seven Soldiers saga, this book expands on the overall universe that Grant Morrison has been weaving with the Sheeda, and ends where Zatanna would join the forces of the other six characters in Seven Soldiers #1. 8.8/10

Friday, November 25, 2005

Patrick's Top 10 of 2005

(I'll get around to posting my favorites of the year soon, but take a look at Patrick's list now...)

1. Walt & Skeezix by Frank King, edited by Jeet Heer, Chris Oliveros & Chris Ware

2. Black Hole by Charles Burns

3. The Complete Peanuts 1955 to 1956 & The Complete Peanuts 1957 to 1958 by Charles Schulz, edited by Gary Groth

4. Krazy & Ignatz 1935 to 1936: "A Wild Warmth of Chromatic Gravy" by George Herriman, edited by Bill Blackbeard

5. The Acme Novelty Library Final Report to Shareholders and Saturday Rainy Day Fun Book by Chris Ware

6. Hanshin by Moto Hagio (as appeared in The Comics Journal #269)

7. Kramer's Ergot 5, edited by Sammy Harkham

8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World by Bryan Lee O'Malley

9. The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi, edited by Adrian Tomine

10. Superf*ckers by James Kochalka

Honorable Mentions:

Mome, Summer 2005, edited by Gary Groth & Eric Reynolds

The Dial and Other Stories by Chris Reynolds

Showcase Presents: Superman (volume 1)

Tales Designed To Thrizzle #1 by Michael Kupperman

Jack Kirby reprints (Fantastic Four, Captain America, Black Panther)

Luba by Gilbert Hernandez

Pluto (Naoki Urasawa) (In scanlations format)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Previews: February '06

What goodies are in store for us in February of next year...?

Antarctic Press:
- Alice In Wonderland #1 (of 4) - The cover of this solicitation caught my attention, but I didn't realize it was the creator of Neotopia until I read the captions later.

Archaia Studios Press:
- Mouse Guard: Belly of the Beast #1 (of 6) - This looks so damn cute. I love the art of the series.

Dark Horse:
- Hellboy: Makoma, or, A Tale Told By a Mummu in the New York City Explorers' Club on August 16, 1993 #1 (of 2) - Mike Mignola on a new Hellboy mini!

- Lady Snowblood (volume 3): Retribution part 1 - The first Lady Snowblood trade was great. It's a treat when I see a new one is coming out.

- Octopus Girl (volume 1) - The cover for this book looks awesome. You gotta love those great Japanese horror manga.

DC:
- Showcase Presents: House of Mystery (volume 1) - Isn't that a great cover? This volume includes work by artists such as Gil Kane and Neal Adams.

- Manhunter #19 - A new Manhunter is always welcome in my book. The first trade comes out fairly quickly if anyone wants to read the best DCU book out there presently.

- Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #3 (of 4) - Another great cover to another great series.

- Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #3 (of 4) - I was blown away by the debut of this Seven Soldiers series.

- Kid Eternity TP - I hadn't heard of this before, but Patrick said he'd heard it was a really underappreciated work by the creator.

Fantagraphics Books:
- The Comics Journal #274 - An interview with Abadazad creator Mike Ploog!

IDW Publishing:
- Night Mary TP - This has a cool premise. I've been meaning to check it out and now I'll get the chance.

- Dampyr (volume 10): House of Blood - Another installment of the great horror series.

Image Comics:
- The Portent #1 - This looks like a neat new series. There's a four-page preview with really nice art (reminiscent of Mignola) from Peter Bergting.

- Mora (volume 1): The Beast Will Show Their Teeth - This is one crazy good series. I really wasn't expecting it to be collected. Check this out!

Infinity Studios:
- Blood Alone (volume 1) - Another cool horror premise, although this is more of a love story, it seems, about a vampire girl. It comes with a slip cover and what a cover it has! I'll definitely check this out.

Marvel:
- Astonishing X-Men #13 - The triumphant return of the Whedon/Cassaday title! Yay!

- X-Men: Apocalypse/ Dracula #1 (of 4) - Cool cover. I...may check this out. Maybe.

- Giant-Size Ms. Marvel #1 - This could be fun - a bunch of reprints of old Ms. Marvel comics, and a new short story.

Narwain Publishing:
- Jenna TP - I wanted to check this out, but never saw the first issue...guess I'll be getting the trade!

Tokyopop:
- Someday's Dreamers (volume 1) - This has really pretty art, but by god, I hate when they compare series to other things. This does it twice - I guess it's a cross between Joan of Arcadia and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as well as Harry Potter and Sailor Moon. So, what the hell does that mean?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Morrison's Frankenstein

Will Grant Morrison ever cease to amaze? He must be the best writer working in mainstream comics right now (at least now that Alan Moore is "retiring"). In his new Seven Soldiers mini-series, Frankenstein, Morrison pairs up with Doug Mahnke, whose pencils perfectly compliment the writing of this monster title in all its dark, moody glory. In the opening scene, we are introduced to our main character, although most of the issue takes place over a hundred years later, depicting events that lead to his reappearance. For the most part, this issue follows a high school and the startling transformations that take place due to an outcast nicknamed "Uglyhead," who suddenly has the ability to hear the other students' thoughts, and uses those thoughts against them to bend them to his will. There are maggot monsters and Sheeda and cool action scenes. This is easily the most impressive debut of a Seven Soldiers title. And now that Frankenstein has returned, it'll be interesting to see what direction this book goes in next.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In Passing...Deadly Genesis to Manhunter

Since I don't like to spoil much in terms of plot, I'm going to start giving grades to my mini-reviews, out of ten points...

Runaways #10 - The runaways have gone to New York to aid Cloak in his quest to clear his name. And the kids get to meet some big time heroes. Is it just me or was there something really cool about She-Hulk walking by and the kids getting all starstruck? 9/10

Manhunter # 16 - Manhunter meets Mr. Bones and is presented with a proposition (following a fight with Skorpio, who has a really cool, sleak look even if he wasn't much of a fight). The status quo just doesn't like to stand still for very long in this book, as things are on shaky ground and shifting once more. 9.1/10

Fables #43 - Something interesting is brewing here, between Beauty and Prince Charming and Beast, between the animal farm and New York, between the Arabian fables and all of the others. It'll be interesting to see where all of this takes us. 8.5/10

X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1 - This was boring when you get down to it. It seems that this is the story where we find the answers to the questions posed in House of M - like where did the energy from the mutants go? It just...doesn't make me care though. 2.4/10

Ultimate Spider-Man #86 - Ultimate Silver Sable. It's extremely nerdy that I'm loving this so much, but she rocks. Oh, and there's a fight between Spidey and Omega Red too. 8.6/10

All-Star Superman #1 - This is seriously the first Superman book I've ever read. The character's just had this boring air about him since before I can remember. The art and writing in this issue are great though. I'm still not sure about Supes, but I'll continue picking this book up. 8.5/10

Winner of the week: Manhunter
Loser of the week: X-Men: Deadly Genesis
Last CD I bought: Confessions on a Dancefloor - Madonna
Last Netflix rental I watched: Veronica Mars: Season One (Disc One)
Last graphic novel I read: V For Vendetta

Friday, November 18, 2005

Mora

Mora is a strange little tale, written and illustrated by Paul Harmon, from Image Comics. This four-issue mini is the "first act" of Mora, with maybe more to come? It didn't sell very well at all, but a lot of Image titles are extremely low on the sales charts and continue nonetheless. Mora consists of three stories that weave between the four issues, told by the narrators - a mutilated tortoise and hare. The story involving a young girl named Mora is about how this young girl befriends another girl in the city of witches, and has some odd "sixth sense" about her. In this city of witches, there are many dangerous creatures lurking about, crazed demons and child-devouring monsters, of which Mora and her friend learn through experience. The second story is almost exclusively related by the narrators, as sort of a fable, about a lion whose black soul consumes it, causing it to inevitably devour its own mother and her cubs. The third and final storyline is of a council of monsters and the delicate balance between them and the human world, as well as between each other. The monsters are made up of three creatures who became jealous of humans and have come to mimic them while preying on them - bats (vampires), snakes (witches) and wolves (werewolves). This saga is complete with fairies, odd relatives and a real sense of creeping darkness. One of the catch phrases of the book is "She couldn't know what she would become..." hinting at some kind of transformation of this young innocent girl that we come to know, whose power people feel. However, what that thing is, we don't know because the mini-series doesn't get that far. I recommend this work, but it is a dense read and you really have to be ready to invest a lot of attention in it, and do the work yourself, drawing similarities between the stories and simply making sense out of them. This book does not spell things out, but has the courtesy to assume the audience is capable of doing the work themselves.

Monday, November 14, 2005

5 Worst Comics of 2005

It's almost that time of year again when the "best of" lists appear all across the internet and on TV. Comics Reporter just linked to Amazon's Editors' and Customers' picks for ten best graphic novels of the year. Included in the editors' picks were lame things like Sin City volume one's second edition and Marvel 1602. What is going on over there? Not that the customer picks were any better. They were almost all humor collections. I'm not quite ready to do my "best of" list for the year, but I am ready to proclaim the worst comics of the year. Not that I read many comics that I'm sure would be in this list. I didn't read like, Tarot Witch of the Black Rose or whatever the hell that atrociously oversexed comic is, or other comics that I knew were awful. So, this list is really the worst five comics that I was subjected to this year. Enjoy and by God, pass on by when you see these titles in the store...

1. Gimoles by Mike Bullock and Theo Bain
I had to have been just asking for it with this title from Alias Publishing and Runemaster. It's completely cutesy, Disneyesque art with the most insipid, soulless "characters" to grace a comic book this past year. And that's saying something with all of the Claremont books that came out. The characters are so generic and do the things that were done in Fern Gully the animated movie, all over. Like, exactly. This is everything we've seen before reduced to its basic formula and as boring as it could possibly have been told. Seriously, this is possibly the worst comic I think I've ever read. And I read a fricking Jello-man and Wiggly comic, okay?

2. Of Bitter Souls by Charles Satterlee and Norm Breyfogle
Another uninspired comic that tries to do absolutely nothing different with what they work with. Yes, it has vampires and yes, it has superheroes. Yes, they're together in one book, but by God, do something cool with them! We've seen vampires like this getting staked like this a million times. The superheroes were designed on this artist's freaking lunch break. Oy.

3. The Stardust Kid by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog
I kept trying to like this comic. I picked up three issues of the series, even though I loathed the one before it because I loved Abadazad by these creators. Which makes you wonder how they could so completely and utterly screw this up. Yet they did. This title, unlike the others in the countdown, doesn't lack imagination. It's very imaginative. But it gets on my nerves like nobody's business. The narrator is annoying and condescending and tries to be clever, but isn't. The protagonist is the most reprehensible character ever. And each issue is packed with so much narration and miserable dialogue that it takes an hour to trudge through it. After reading this comic, you feel like you've been through an exhausting workout. And not in a good way.

4. Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis
Again, big fan of these creators on the original Excaliber series. Again, big failure this time around. From the jab I made at Claremont earlier, you must have known he'd be in this list somewhere. Well, here it is. Along with The Stardust Kid, one of the densest reads in comics. Like I said in my New Excaliber review recently, Claremont's books are just plain crowded. And I don't say that just because there are so many characters in his books (which there are. It's like he has to include all forty fan favorite x-characters in every issue to make the readers happy or something), but the pages are crammed with panels and unnecessary dialogue to overexplain everything. When he writes complex stories that only he could find fascinating for a book like Uncanny X-Men, his storytelling weaknesses are only amplified ten-fold.

5. Sea of Red by Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer and Paul Harmon
I'm always really hard on this book, but damn it, it just should have been a lot better than it is. It has a great premise, about vampire pirates and the revenge one seeks against another, but after you get past those surface elements, it's absolutely horrid. This is the biggest disappointment of the year just because I was so excited to get the trade and then I couldn't wait to burn the bloody thing. On the plus side, the trade is printed in an interesting way, but you just can't get past that sucky story (no pun intended) no matter how hard you try.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

DMZ


DMZ #1 by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli

The DMZ is the area that lies between two opposing American forces, comprising of the island of Manhatten. It's basically ground zero, a war zone, where civilians still live, wishing no part of either side's war. These civilians have become rather ruthless, stringing up bodies of any outsiders, laying down rules for different "territories" or neighborhoods. It's basically a gang-ruled area completely abandoned by America's two opposing forces. The first issue of the series works as a fantastic introduction as we follow an intern thrown into a news crew that is going into the DMZ to report on the type of life that the rest of the Americas can only imagine. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned and our intern ends up alone in this hostile environment, fighting to survive. If the rest of this series follows suit, this could be a really great series. My hopes weren't the highest when picking this book up, but I was really blown away. I definitely recommend picking up this book. One of the most original, best premises I've seen in awhile.

Friday, November 11, 2005

New Excaliber

Chris Claremont and Michael Ryan's new incarnation of Excaliber launched on Wednesday. Yes, I gave Claremont one more chance to not completely and utterly suck. Given my affection for the original Excaliber, I couldn't just let this one go by without giving it a look. So...the new team includes (as can be seen by the cover) Captain Britain, Dazzler, Pete Wisdom, Nocturne and Juggernaut of whom Captain Britain and Wisdom were part of the original team. Also appearing in the first issue were Excaliber favorites Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers and Lockheed. Even Courtney Ross, an old foe of the team, appears in the book. Meggan, my favorite Excaliber character after Pryde, was notably absent, which was addressed by her husband, Captain Britain. We may see her in issues to come - who knows? So, was it good? Shockingly, it was pretty good. The dialogue was kind of clumsy at times and the comic was a little crowded, which seems to be Claremont's trademark style these days, but everything else worked pretty well. There's an engaging story cropping up from the events of House of M and Uncanny X-Men (yes, you may be confused if you haven't read any Uncanny X-Men lately) and some quality of the old Excaliber series is captured here somehow (albeit a little clumsily). Involved in this story are some clones or something of the original five X-Men who have nearly killed Dazzler, and some confusion as to what's what. It's a good start to the series, at least, despite its faults. We'll just have to see where it goes from here.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In Passing...Polly to The Pulse

While last week was kind of a bust for comics released, plenty was released this week to satisfy the avid fan of the medium.

The Book of Lost Souls #2 - Colleen Doran and J. Michael Straczynski's "Icon" book from marvel actually made sense this time. It was a neat issue, drifting between a fairt tale world a housewife imagined herself a part of and well, reality. It wasn't exactly mind-blowing or anything, but it was a solid story to give us a taste of what the book is going to be like.

Polly and the Pirates #2 - Ted Naifeh's new mini-series about a little girl kidnapped by pirates continues in this funny, charming little comic. This is very different from the gloomy atmosphere of Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin, yet his artwork compliments this story all the same.

The Pulse #12 - Jesus Christ, this kid is never going to come out! How many issues do we have to wait to get a glimpse of the kid? Oh, wait, yeah, he was on the cover from issue one of the storyarc. Gosh, it sure is swell of those Marvel guys to overhype those aspects of their books (Ronin in New Avengers anyone?). This was a good issue. The series has improved dramatically since Michael Gaydos came on as artist, however...it's still just no Alias.

Y- The Last Man #39 - The "Paper Dolls" arc concludes in this stunning continuity-changing issue! No, not really. It was kind of a boring wind-down for a story that started out great, but just slowly ran out of steam as it chugged along. But that's the entire series for you - hit or miss.

Independent Films

Okay, here's a fun meme I saw at Tom the Dog's blog...It's Empire Magazine's 50 Greatest Independent Films. So, go ahead and copy it if you want and have fun (I changed the rules because I'm not computer savvy and don't know how to strike through letters)

Blue the ones you've seen and liked.
Red the ones you've seen and which you didn't like or which are just plain overrated.
Italicize the ones you haven't seen but want to.
Underline the ones you haven't seen and don't want to.
Don't do anything to the ones you've never heard of.

1. Reservoir Dogs - Quentin Tarantino's awesome. Good choice.
2. Donnie Darko - I love this movie but it's kind of annoying how it's become such a big cult classic. Whatever. Anyway, it's too high on the list. Although this was the movie that introduced us to Jake Gyllenhaal (drool)
3. The Terminator - Okay, if Terminator's on here....where's Star Wars? This is a crappy, hastily-strewn together list, but it's still fun to do this.
4. Clerks - Ah, yes. Kevin Smith. Foul language. Jay and Silent Bob. It all started here.
5. Monty Python's Life of Brian - I don't know, comedies usually aren't my thing and Monty Python just holds no appeal for me.
6. Night of the Living Dead - A masterpiece.
7. Sex, Lies, and Videotape
8. The Usual Suspects
9. Sideways
10. Mean Streets - I actually have this movie. I'll get around to watching it someday...
11. Bad Taste
12. Eraserhead - A very disturbing experimental film by David Lynch, one of my favorite directors.
13. Memento - An obvious choice.
14. Stranger Than Paradise
15. Blood Simple
16. She's Gotta Have It
17. City of God - This was really an amazing movie. Unapologetic and brutally honest.
18. Withnail and I
19. Lone Star
20. Slacker
21. Roger and Me - I think this is the only documentary on here, which is a shame (where's Crumb and Dogtown and the Z-boys?)
22. Nosferatu - This was a great film
23. The Evil Dead - I saw this when I was really young, so I don't remember much about it, but I do recall liking it...
24. Happiness - I'm glad this is on the countdown. This is just an awesome film. I would recommend anyone reading this list to go out and rent this. You'll never have another experience like it.
25. Drugstore Cowboy
26. Lost in Translation - We own the soundtrack =)
27. Dark Star
28. In the Company of Men
29. Bad Lieutenant
30. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song
31. Pink Flamingos - Okay, I'm a gay man and I even hated this film. Completely overrated and just plain ugly to watch. Where are the good queer films like Hedwig and the Angry Inch?
32. Two Lane Blacktop
33. Shallow Grave
34. The Blair Witch Project - This was the first independent movie I actually went to the theater to see, at the Uptown theater in Minneapolis, before it went wide. It was a great experience. The theater was packed (I had to wait in line two days in advance of the screening to get the damn tickets) and was completely silent during the whole film. I loved it. It terrified me and it's one of my favorites still. And me...I was completely gullible and thought it was real. Don't ask me how I got into that frame of mind...
35. THX-1138
36. Buffalo '66
37. Being John Malkovich - A really unique, strange movie. Very enjoyable.
38. Grosse Point Blank
39. The Passion of the Christ - I'm just happy that this movie got people to watch fucking subtitles for once. It's not that hard!
40. The Descent
41. Dead Man's Shoes
42. Swingers
43. Shadows
44. Amores Perros - This should have been higher.
45. Mad Max
46. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - I just saw this again recently. The slasher film genre at its finest.
47. Blood Feast
48. Cube
49. Run Lola Run - Another obvious choice, but I love this one. I think this should have been higher too.
50. El Mariachi

Okay, this was screwed up. Where is Pi? Requiem For a Dream? Ghost World? Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson)? Hard Eight (Paul Thomas Anderson)? And Patrick mentioned The Sweet Hereafter and Ararat by Atom Egoyan. At least the fricking Big Fat Greek Wedding wasn't in it. Might as well have been for some of the crap they have in this list....

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

I finished Phoebe Gloeckner's The Diary of a Teenage Girl this evening, a hybrid of narrative and comics about a young girl, Minnie, growing up in San Francisco with her single mother and sister. It was a really unique experience. It's told in diary format, so it's not exactly like I felt like I was doing what she was doing, but yet I felt myself get really anxious when she was stressed or confused, and really mad at the people who used her. As the novel progressed and her life spiraled more and more out of control, I felt a sense of hopelessness along with her, and the depression she suffered was instilled in me. I think it's a really great work of art that can convey those feelings so absolutely upon their readers. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is very honest and almost naive in a way, as Minnie pours out her heart in detail, indiscriminate of bad/good behavior. Her choices are kind of left for the readers to make sense of and condemn or not. I really enjoyed Phoebe Gloeckner's work that was on display in Chicago at the A & D show this Fall, "Cartoonist's Eye." Gloeckner illustrates for anatomy books, and does some interesting things with her skills. But anyway, I would highly recommend this book to people. I know it's been out for awhile, so it's merely my turn to sing its praise and renew interest in this material to those who haven't jumped on the band wagon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

In Passing...The Bulleteer & Spidey

It was kind of a slow week for comics (which was kind of nice since I'm flat broke). I had to pass on the trades I wanted for the week (Catwoman: When In Rome and Excaliber Classics), and settled in with a few floppies.

Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer #1 - Another very promising start to a Seven Soldiers title. I think its debut was second only to The Guardian. While it was very straight-forward, it was just well-executed and creative and fun. Even when we see the cliche scientist getting carried away with his experiment, there's a great twist on it. Grant Morrison's awesome. Now we only have to wait for the last series to debut - Frankenstein!

Ultimate Spider-man #85 - This was a pretty lacklustre finale to what has been a great storyline. I was really excited with each of the last issues I read from this "Warriors" arc, but was left a little cold with this one. Ah, well. Overall, it was a great read. I consider this a kind of a "cool down" issue.

Novel I'm reading: The Diary of a Teenage Girl ~ Phoebe Gloeckner

CD in my car: Blink the Brightest ~ Tracy Bonham

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Season of the Witch

Jai Nitz and Kevin Sharpe's Season the Witch mini-series made its debut this past Wednesday with the issue entitled "Spring." Me, loving the witch genre of comics, had to check it out of course. I actually really liked the interior art of the book, despite the book's horrible cover by the same artist (I like how they advertise for this artist formerly working on Crossgen. What does that even mean? Shouldn't they have at least used a specific title or something?). Beyond the art, however, there's not much more going on. The story is about a mistreated girl (her parents are poor, so kids pick on her, yadda yadda yadda(even though I've never seen a kid picked on based on income before...does that even happen?)) who gets the chance to leave her crappy life behind to become a warrior in a mystical world. Very mediocre story, barely holds my interest, but God, the next issue has a great variant Darwyn Cooke cover. I can stick it out for one more issue. It can only get better, right?