Would You Accept Candy From These Strangers?

Jon Gorga: "Strange Tales" #2 has come out (in fact number 3 has come out, but let's not talk about that) and we have both read it. So now it is time to review it! I found this issue much more balanced than the first one, do you agree Josh?

Josh Kopin: Yea, I think that's true. There was still a lot of parody, but some of the funnier strips (in particular, Lookin' Good Mr. Grimm) took advantage of how absurd comics can be without really lapsing into parody and I appreciated the more serious stuff towards the back of the anthology.

Gorga: HA! "Lookin' Good, Mr. Grimm!" Delightful. Jacob Chabot's art is even better than his writing, and that's impressive. Those last two panels crack me up every time I read them. But I REALLY appreciated finally seeing an interpretation from one of these artists (many of whom I have tremendous respect for) that had some fun with a Marvel character without being purely comedic. "The Black Widow" by Matt Kindt is definitely in the running for my favorite piece so far in this series. Although I still have a soft spot for the M.O.D.O.K. story from the first issue and the awesome "Anything but RETAIL!" by R. Kikuo Johnson from this issue couldn't fail to amuse and excite me, as it hits real close to home for a recent college grad!

Kopin: Speaking of things that hit you as a recent college grad, how do you feel about what may be the most experimental piece in the anthology: Jonathan Hickman's series of advertisements seeking heralds for Galactus? It, beyond all the other works in the issue, takes the idea and runs with it- it's the least the comic-y thing we've seen in the series so far, it references the absurdity of comics (and of Galactus in particular), but it doesn't feel like parody to me- how about you?

Gorga: Oh, it's a parody. It's just not a story. It's a satirical poster series (or video?). Galactus doesn't need to advertise, he's a goddamn god-like being. I know that sounds worthy of parody. I'm not arguing it's not. I'm just saying that if you were a Devourer of Worlds, you wouldn't need a poster campaign... I don't know, am I being far too loose in my use of the word parody? To my mind, a parody comes from a different frame of mind than the thing being parodied, specifically the constructed, mocking frame of mind. Maybe I'm just too sensitive about people poking fun at my favorite funny-books.

Kopin: Well, I'm not sure Hickman's posters fit into that particular definition of parody- they are poking fun at Galactus, of course, but I'm not sure they're doing it from a mocking place.

Gorga: Well, it feels mostly that way to me. But Hickman in particular has always rubbed me the wrong way for some reasons I can't put very articulately: He appeared out of nowhere with strange comics in which it is difficult to discern what's going on, to both my eyes and my mind (while they're certainly still not BAD, just NOT GREAT). I heard one of the iFanboy boys (possibly Ron) say that "The Nightly News" was (paraphrasing here) 'the future of comics' and I thought 'If this is the future of comics I hope that future is populated with creators with some sense of restraint.' I feel about the same way toward this short experimental-comic/faux-posters-thing. I see more lost potential. But maybe turning 23 has finally turned me into the old-fuddy-duddy I always was on the inside. [Note: At the time this section was written, my birthday had recently come and gone.]

Kopin: Well, I'm an old-fuddy-duddy at 19, so there you go. Pardon me while I go chase some kids off of my lawn.

Sorry, I'm back. Having not read that much of Hickman's stuff, I have trouble agreeing or disagreeing with you [Note: Since the time I wrote this sentence, I have read and reviewed an issue of Hickman's Fantastic Four for this site]. I am curious about his presence here, though- given that he's been writing Secret Warriors for almost a year and also that he's been handling Marvel's first family for a little bit, it's hard to argue that he's "an indie creator" at this point. Do you feel any better about the way Marvel has handled this issue, simply in terms of their labeling it an "indie" book?

Gorga: Yes! Specifically, because it has so much more variety than the last one. We got a hilarious and warm story from a cartoonist-cum-New-Yorker-cover-artist ("Anything but RETAIL!" by R. Kikuo Johnson). A spy-story from the master of subtle spy comics ("The Black Widow" by Matt Kindt). AS WELL AS an ironic abstract piece by one of the more unique artists working anywhere ("The Invincible Iron Man" by Tony Millionaire), a pulpy 'blaxploitation' comedy piece ("Brother Voodoo: Death Rides A Five-Dollar Bag!" by Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca) and a faux-document parody piece ("Feed Galactus, See the Universe" by Jonathan Hickman)! That is much closer to an accurate representation of what 'indie' comics is.

Kopin: Got any new favorites, then?

Gorga: I did really enjoy the Brother Voodoo story! one panel: "The building is too qui--" next panel: "KA-BOOM" That's great. But other than that it's still hands down the Black Widow story by Kindt and the R. Kikuo Johnson story about poor blind recent college grad Alicia Masters and her father the Puppet Master! The dog! It can talk! But you don't know until the end! Great! What are your favorites from this issue?

Kopin: Well, I think my favorite one from this issue that I haven't already mentioned is Jhonen Vasquez's M.O.D.O.K story. What is it about the Model Organism Designed Only For Killing that works in this format so well? Is it just that he's so damn ridiculous? I mean, he is a giant floating head-chair.

Gorga: Galactus is an equally easy, but always welcome, target isn't he? Although Vasquez's style often comes with stuff that makes me want to throw up, it also comes with an equal amount of things that make me weak in the knees with laughter. (His "Fillerbunny in My Worst Book Yet!" is the funniest comic I've ever read.) Galactus munching on Mars (ever so delicately poised between two halves of a sesame bun) with a planet-gut hanging out of his purple outfit is one of the latter! I imagine, if you were a Devourer of Worlds, you might need a slice of bread every now and again. Well, I feel as if we've said everything that needs to be said about this issue and this post has taken longer to gestate than some babies! What say we turn it loose on the world, Mr. Kopin?

Kopin: And loose it shall be, Mr. Gorga.

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