§ Nice Art: Melanie Gillman not only did TWO weeks of cartoonst diaries for The Comics Journal, they did fully colored and rendered comics about turkeys and more advetures from a cartoonist’s residency. Gillman’s Stage Dreams was was one of the buzz grapic novels at Book Expo and you can see why.,
§ Just a few weeks ago we were bantering with Dustin Harbin at TCAF, as is tradition, but now he’s recovering from a gruesome face smashing bicycle accident. And he can use some help with his medical bills. Get well quick, Dustin.
§ Dark Phoenix is well on its way to being the worst reviewed, lowest opening entry in Fox’s X-men franchise. After 12 films, it’s time to retire these Mutants – except New Mutants is still out there, somewhere, ready to be unleashed on the world when we least expect it. Anyway, I’m sure you feel, like me, that there is only one person whose opinion about Dark Phoenix matters and that’s Jay Edidin’s. The X-pert from Jay and Miles X-plain the X-men deliveries the eulogy for Polygon.
After 19 years of Fox’s X-Men, I’ve gotten very good at managing my own expectations — but I so desperately wanted this movie to be good. It’s the last one. Even in a line full of retcons and reboots, second chances as literal as this one — the same source material as a previous movie in the same series, revisited by the same writer — are virtually unheard of. Nobody gets to do that.
There’s a lot more – including an astute analysis of Simon Kinberg’s contributions to the oeuvre – just go read it.
§ Everyone is ranking the 12 – yes, 12! – X-movies and this list has Logan at #6 so proceed with caution.
§ More Dark Phoenix stuff: The NY Times explains how they made Jessica Chastain look creepy. (Very simple: they copied Tilda Swinton) and the LA Times remind us that the 90s X-men Cartoon did he best version of the Dark Phoenix Saga:
It’s why the best adaptation of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is still the one done by “X-Men: The Animated Series.” The ’90s cartoon spent five episodes to tell the “Phoenix Saga” before tackling the “Dark Phoenix Saga” in a four-part arc a few episodes later. In the animated “X-Men,” Jean was understood to be powerful but she didn’t always stand out against Rogue’s displays of raw power and Storm’s regal elemental might. The events of Jean acquiring her new powers, her struggles and her turn to the dark side were shown in episodes that were fairly faithful to the comics with one big change — the animated “Dark Phoenix Saga” had a more kid-friendly ending.
§ The Wrap tries to explain the X-movie continuity which is really, come on. It’s just a shade less nonsensical than the comic and you’dneed a years long podcast to do that.
§ And this concludes (except for our box office wrap up) our Dark Phoenix coverage. The movie isn’t quite as “bad bad” as people are saying, but everyone involved in making it was clearly just tapped out and dragging to the finish. So wan and sloppy is this outing that no one even cares that it’s only the third superhero movie with a woman as the title character – and it was in the can so long that they had to change the ending so it wouldn’t seem like it was ripping off Captain Marvel.
Actually one more link. Abraham Riesman has yet another wrap up of the franchise and reminds us that it was X-men in 2000 that kicked off this whole crazy serious superhero movie era, with Oscar-winning actors as characters created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum.
And yet, that wasn’t the point. The point was that the movie’s very existence made us believe that there was a future for superhero fiction, that bigger and better things awaited our beloved spandex genre. And, sure enough, that was the case — to a degree that has become somewhat sickening. X-Men, which grossed $296 million at the box office worldwide, paved the way for Spider-Man, which paved the way for Batman Begins, which paved the way for the 2008 advent of the franchise that would go on to become superhero fiction’s apogee, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
PS: you can make a pretty good argument – and many have – that it was Blade in 1998 that actually kicked off the modern superhero movie era. But as strong as that trilogy of films was, it didn’t have quite the wide-ranging cultural impact that the X-franchise did.
Anyway, maybe I’ll do my own rankings of the X-movies but spoiler, Logan is #1 and anything by Brett Ratner and with a title that rhymes with Schmopocalypse is last.
§ Ariel Dorfman’s classic How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic is a classic of economic theory and it’s remembered in The New Yorker of all places.
His most enduring work from these years is a volume titled “How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic,” co-authored with the Belgian sociologist Armand Mattelart. Among North American audiences, Disney was most famous for its films and theme parks, but, abroad, Disney comics had a robust readership, and legions of freelance artists tailored them—or rewrote them—to international tastes. In Chile, Donald Duck was by far the most popular Disney character. But Dorfman and Mattelart argued that Donald was a conservative mouthpiece, dampening the revolutionary spirit, fostering complacency, and softening the sins of colonialism. What kind of a role model was he, this eunuch duck, who sought only fame and fortune, who ignored the plight of the working class, who accepted endless suffering as his lot? “Reading Disney,” they wrote, “is like having one’s own exploited condition rammed with honey down one’s throat.”
§ I haven’t really been keeping up with David Harper’s relaunched Sktchd site (or anything really as the absence of K’n’B shows) but it’s back! Newer content is behind a $4 a month firewall and as the demise of Paste’s excellent comics coverage showed, you need to support your local comics journalist. But you can read this long meta-essay on The State of the Industry for free. I haven’t read it yet but I’ll circle back with my thoughts tomorrow., or at least soon.
§ Meanwhile, educator Carol Tilley has also got her site going with sales charts from the ’70s, and also a long lost woman cartoonist of the golden age, Jane Krom Grammer who drew the strip “Dotty” for Supersnipe. Grammer’s daughter kept meiculous care of her mother’s archives and you can see photos and much more in the link.
Although drawn in 1946, this Dotty story shows that the problems with comics fans messing up the racks was as bad then as it is now. Tilley promises more historical revelations to come so bookmark or follow the Twitter or whatever it is you do to keep up with comics news now.
When I got started in the internet comics news game, way back at the turn of the century, online comics writing was mostly fond on personal sites and primitive “blogger” blogs. Now as Google makes more than $4.7 bilion off of other people’s work, it looks like comics journalism is BACK to people doing it in their spare time or for the price of a cuppa, like David Harper and Carol Tilley. Funny how things cycle isn’t it?
But don’t worry, The Beat isn’t going anywhere. Crazy, but true.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.