Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fuck the 90's

My God, an update?!

Hey, I made this blog for venting pretentious Deep Thoughts about comics and stories and things that weren't really suited to casual conversation or my LJ. If you're somehow reading this, then you'll just have to deal with it.

So, my thought today: why does everybody hate the 90's?

Seriously, a bunch of the 90's comics publishers have radically mutilated their characters to make them less 90's. DC has gone to ridiculous lengths to obliterate just about everything the company did in the 90's without a trace. Marvel seems sort of embarrassed about the whole thing and tends to pretend like they didn't release anything between 1990 and 2000.

Why?

When I was reading comics in the 90's as a whipper-snapper, the industry seemed convinced that it was at its peak. Nobody could pretend to be embarrassed about the 80's, as that gave us Dark Knight and Watchmen, but man did comics otherwise seem convinced that they were producing the bestest, most diverse, most radical comics ever. Oh, sure, earlier decades produced their okay comics, but 90's comics had all that stuff and were also totally better. A lot of them seem hilariously dated in retrospect, but no more so than your typical 80's, 70's, or 60's book. In some ways a lot less so, there's actually some resemblance between a modern comic and a 90's book.

Then you go on the intarbutts, and it seems like the worst thing a poster can say about a book or a comic or anything at all is that it's so very dreadfully 90's. How dare that decade exist! To hell with everything published then! It's like the comics we have now, but they sucked more in some ill-defined way! Seriously, just try to find praise for a major 90's project that isn't something Vertigo or Kurt Busiek being all artsy with Marvels. It's hard going. Taking a dump on major stuff like Kingdom Come is downright trendy.

I don't understand it. The 90's, like every decade of comics, was a mixture of awesome books and total shit books. I won't get into the details of what was good and what wasn't since that varies somewhat by taste, but I defy any real comics fan to be unable to pick a good dozen solid projects from the 90s, and that's just out of the big superhero stuffs. Add in indies and it was an incredible decade that gave us the likes of Bone. Yet among modern fans there is this horrible, nameless embarrassment over almost everything associated with the decade: the new characters, the "modern" updates of things, the art styles, the early uses of computer coloring, the prestige format stuff, even just the fact that it all sold so well.

I've got to wonder, internet: where's the hate coming from?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Eventually you must think for yourself

There's something that's been gnawing at me lately about the comic book industry. All the big storylines, the all-important super-hyped event stories? They're all based on stuff that happened in comics published fifteen or twenty years ago, and largely about either other comic books or particular views of the comic book industry. These are themes of limited interest, to say the lest.

Comics fans, obviously, take great interest in them, but... well, most people won't. Truly appealing stories are about themes that are easy for an "average" person of a given culture to relate to, or general universal human themes. So, House of M and Infinite Crisis are ultimately just a mosquito's fart in a hurricane. They won't have significance to an audience outside of the dwindling die-hard comics readership, and even they know full well that both stories will be on the road to retcon inside of five years. I mean, nobody who isn't already making a weekly trip to the comic store is gonna give a damn about mutants losing their powers or Golden Age Superman wagging his metaphorical finger at the DCU.

What was that quote from Shakespeare again? "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Why do we comics fans, the people who ideally care most about the medium, keep supporting these idiotic stories? It's especially hurtful when they're told by creators who are clearly not idiots, who have obvious technical ability, but seem to lack the ambition to tell stories about more significant themes. I suspect much of the positive reaction to All-Star Superman throughout the blogosphere has mostly just been that it's just a new Superman story about... well, something other than how comics fans feel about Superman. It's an actual story, with themes and situations that are easy to empathize with. It's a sign of the sad state the industry's in when this is not the default expectation for storytelling. We should expect every comic worth our money to be at least this good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

You have to start somewhere

Hello. My name is Alicia Ashby, and I like crap.

Good crap, silly crap, all kinds of crap. Comics, cartoons, movies, TV, folklore, all the assorted flotsam and jetsam people generate to entertain, enlighten, and influence each other on mass scale. I write about one such form of crap, video games, for a living, and in time hope to write about other forms of crap.

Please don't confuse my use of 'crap' with a pejorative attitude toward this stuff. We sadly don't have a term that fits well enough; certainly it's not quite the same as fine art or literature, but it carries too much significance to simply not be taken seriously. I suppose I could call it "stuff" instead, but that doesn't quite capture the geeky zeitgeist of our affection for these creations of mass media. It's our crap, and we love it.

I have a LiveJournal that I update sporadically with personal ramblings. Now I shall update this blog irregularly with observations about the forms of mass entertainment that most interest me on a personal level, and my own thoughts about the content and technical writing merits of such forms. You could fairly call it pretentious bullshit, but I hope you're too interested in what I'm saying to notice.