Archives for the month of: May, 2013

faceoff

In honor of Wayne Xiao Long now appearing on the social media platform known as Facebook, Wayne Xiao Long is presenting the first Wayne Xiao Long Faceoff. Employing the ancient customs of facing off and offing face, Wayne Xiao Long Faceoffs will pit brother against brother, thesis against antithesis, children against their parents, and, as always, Batman against Bruce Lee. Here in the first Wayne Xiao Long Faceoff, similarly themed graphic novels will duke it out in the arena of Wayne Xiao Long’s personal preferences and refined tastes.

WAR ZOMBIES

’68 vs Graveyard of Empires

If you haven’t read this books, I recommend them both, but who has time to read every war zombie graphic novel? Both stories tell of a zombie outbreak witnessed by American military overseas. From the titles of the texts, you should be able to tell which military action that refer to (1968 was the year of the Tet Offensive and consequential change in thinking about Vietnam while Graveyard of Empires is a nickname for Afghanistan.) ’68 finds the zombies beyond the battlefield, eating brains on the domestic front as well, while Graveyard of Empires features a contained and coordinated zombie infestation that spans the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. occupation following 9/11. If you’re really short on time, go for Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta’s Graveyard of Empires because it’s a mini-series. While Graveyard of Empires is a great read, ’68 wins this faceoff. Both stories benefit from a lot of research and great art, but Mark Kidwell did more research and the team of Nat Jones and Jay Fotos created better art. One of the main characters in ’68 is an American-Chinese soldier named Yam; he’s fed up with the racist U.S. military, the distrusting local population, and, of course, the zombies- all in all, a very sympathetic character. As much as I like Yam, I’m disappointed with what little attention Kidwell paid to the Chinese language and to the way Chinese people speak pidgin English as he has given Yam’s mom a distinctly Japanese mispronunciation of English. Of course, if you know me or follow this blog, you know I can be a little nit-picky about how China is represented in comics.

WINNER: ’68 by Mark Kidwell, Nat Jones, and Jay Fotos

VAMPIRES OF A DISTINCT NATIONAL CHARACTER

American Vampire vs The New Deadwardians

A faceoff between Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s American Vampire and Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard’s The New Deadwardians is not exactly fair. American Vampire is a much longer ongoing work while The New Deadwardians is not. Still The New Deadwardians holds its own as a unique and valuable contribution to vampire literature and as a worthwhile criticism of Edwardian Britain. Both books feature vampires and use vampire mythology to reveal their respective nation’s essences, but they differ in many crucial ways. In The New Deadwardians, the reality of vampires is public knowledge while it remains underground (barely) in the American Vampire series. The New Deadwardians covers a much short time period than American Vampire, which stretches nearly a century from the end of the U.S. Civil War to the tumultuous times that followed the Second World War. Both works are political in nature, but follow something Margaret Thatcher said once about how European politics being compelled by history and American politics being driven by philosophy. The plot of American Vampire, like the American vampires themselves, is driven by the needs of individualism while the plot of The New Deadwardians and the European vampires of American Vampire are much more interested in social control and power than the ideals of freedom or personal justice. Having said that, the suffragettes are my favorite part of The New Deadwardians. If you have the time and resources, I highly recommend reading them both. I also highly recommend sharing comics- my copy of The New Deadwardians is on loan to a Dracula expert at Georgia Tech and I am grateful to my wife’s tallest co-worker for lending me all the American Vampire books, which is a hefty set that all public libraries should carry. Yay, sharing! The final results of this faceoff may be biased by my own totally awesome American-ness, so you should probably just read both titles (and write to DC telling them to put Dan Abnett back on Resurrection Man). Book 4 of American  Vampire is the weakest of the series, but still better than most stuff being published.

WINNER: American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, with others

REIMAGINED CHILDREN’S STORIES

Peter Panzerfaust vs No Place Like Home

Two of the coolest books being published right now are Kurt Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins’s Peter Panzerfaust and Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan’s No Place Like Home, which draw inspiration from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Peter Panzerfaust places a charismatic Peter Panzerfaust in World War II France with several lost boys. The book captures the magical excitement and child-like wonder of being an orphan in wartime as Wiebe adeptly pulls your heartstrings and stirs your imagination. Familiar characters like Tinkerbell and the Darlings slowly creep in the fill out this Peter Pan Fan Fiction. If Wiebe and Jenkins can keep up this energy, this comic could be made into a movie that my mom would absolutely love. On the other hand, No Place Like Home could be made into a movie that my mom would absolutely hate. No Place Like Home is a little trashy, much more so than Peter Panzerfaust, but that makes sense- one is a horror comic intended for adults and one is playful historical fiction meant for a wider audience. This difference makes this faceoff a little more difficult, so I’ll return to a myth a friend of mine shared with me back in Dalian:

“Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, a prince was too be married and needed simply to choose his bride. Three candidates were chosen for him and set a challenge before each of them as he directed them to one of many rooms in his palace-

‘Here is one hundred American dollars. You challenge is to fill this room.’

Each candidate left with their challenge and the money the prince had bestowed upon them. While the candidates fetched their materials, the prince and the other members of his court played FIFA Soccer 12.

The first candidate to return brought several bags of gold and put them in the room. The items covered less than one third of the floor.

The second candidate to return brought several Mylar balloons, filling nearly three quarters of the rooms volume.

The third candidate brought a candle, which she placed in the center of the room and lit, filling the room with light.

Who did the prince choose to be his bride? The one with the biggest boobs, of course.”

Using the wisdom from this ancient tale, the winner of this faceoff has been determined.

WINNER: No Place Like Home by Angelo Tirotto and Richard Jordan

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qinaidecheetah

Here are five more panda drawings to add to the ever-expanding collection. In the first one there is a cheetah, but if you look closely, there are also two kitties on the purse.

magicians

These two are obviously magicians. You tell by the bright colors they wear in the clothing and nail polish. It is likely they listen to the blackest of black metal and drink from the most forbidden of forbidden juice boxes. In the unlikely instance that they are not magicians, they must surely be wizards.

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An American and a Manchurian debate the virtues of getting rich. The contest ends in a draw.

alexpianopanda

A young prodigy challenges the piano to justify its own existence. The piano responds slowly, completing its defense long after the earth is consumed by silence. In the end, the boy and the piano become great friends.

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Vintage lovers try to keep warm in the winter months by cuddling, snuggling, and juggling. Besides pandas, what other animals start with the letter P?

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As its very essence, democracy is institutionalized civil war. This doesn’t simply apply to political states, but to wherever democracy flourishes and spirited debate ensues. Contesting for authenticity, for sovereignty, for status among the masses- this quest to be deemed legitimate by the standards of the arena compels the democratic imperative. Comic books are one of the most democratic artistic fields, largely because of its ties to the capitalist system. People buy more Animal Man than Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. so Frankenstein is cancelled and Animal Man lives on. Every comic book convention is a market research orgy for publishers. Consumers voluntarily mail, email, and blog their votes/marketing information to allow the producers easy access to their opinions. The democratic elements on the production side are quite similar to rap music- you don’t need much more than a pencil and some paper to get started. Comics, like political democracies, have established seats of power, factions, propaganda departments, dirty tricks, and giant fucking egos. Here I’d like to touch on a comic book icon that reminds me a little bit of the recording artist Prince, Alan Moore.

alanmooreandtherevolution

Certain pop culture figures and moments in their public life can stay with you. Many of my first impressions of celebrity came from the actions of Prince Rogers Nelson a.k.a. Prince. I can clearly remember watching Weird Al Yankovic as a young child and hearing him explain that Prince refused to let me parody his songs, which may have been the first time I ever heard of Prince. One of the favorite Prince stories is the bit about how he demanded youtube remove a fan-shot recording of a live performance of Radiohead’s “Creep” that he had performed at Coachella and Thom Yorke, hearing of this, defended the fan and told youtube to unblock the recordings. Whatever your opinion of Prince, you must admit that a central component to his public persona is active paranoia regarding his music and his money. You could hate Prince for it and consider him a mega-crybaby,  but he deserves credit for committing to his own insanity.

With the release of the TPBs of the recent Before Watchmen series approaching, I’ve been thinking about comic book icon Alan Moore. Many consider Moore to be the greatest comic book writer of all time. Is it wise to criticize this legend so early in my foray into the medium? Well, it worked for Grant Morrisson. My problem is not so much with Moore’s work, which I really enjoy, but with his personality and contradictions in it as it relates to how his work is used.

Moore has been vocal in his protests of the film adaptation of Watchmen and the Before Watchmen series. He was also pretty vocal about the film adaptations of V for Vendetta and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I sympathize with his commitment to the characters he “created.” Many fans align themselves loyally and somewhat blindly with Moore. Regarding the films, a lot of material was cut, changed,and thematically distorted. Of the three films, Watchmen is by far the most loyal to the source material, but Moore and fans alike have grumbled loudly about the film. I really enjoyed the V for Vendetta and Watchmen films and generally think it’s great when artists try to interpret other artists’ work- like Prince covering Radiohead’s “Creep,” for example. I enjoy mash-ups, film adaptations, fan art, plays, homages, cosplay, and other instances where people contribute the larger essence of a work, giving it new life and killing the author is Barthesian fashion. In this way, I’m like Voltaire and would die for Jessica Simpson’s right to slaughter Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ ” because art progresses with mistakes and the freedom to make them, good with the bad, bad with the good, equality with your neighbor and enemy alike and all that.

Adaptations are one thing. The Before Watchmen prequels are something else entirely because they’re not recreating Moore’s narrative in a parallel medium, but adding to Moore’s narrative in the same medium. Of course, they only add to the narrative if the reader allows it or enough readers allow it to justify the prequels entering the public perception of what Watchmen as a sequential art narrative entails, what constitutes its entirety. As an artist, I can understand how Moore feels threatened. It’s like Nickelback saying they want to add a few verses to “Stairway to Heaven,” but not as frightening. (That Nickelback thing might actually offend the gods in the volcano in my attempt to use hyperbole- I’m just trying to take the concept to its absurd conclusion, so forgive me.) Moore and fans also see the Before Watchmen series for what it is at its essence, a capitalist enterprise. Alan Moore is really mad, but the co-creator of Watchmen Dave Gibbons has given the project his blessing, which only complicates the validity of Moore’s assertion that DC Comics should not have pursued Before Watchmen.

What is Moore’s problem? Is it that he doesn’t like a comic book character being written by someone other than the creator? That would be absurd. Moore wrote Superman comics and he didn’t create Superman. Moore built his reputation on his run on Swamp Thing, which is a character created by Len Wein, the editor of the original Watchmen series and writer for the Ozymandias storyline of the Before Watchmen series. The greatest flaw of this argument lies in the original conception of Watchmen to be based on characters from Charlton Comics that Moore didn’t create, but also in the premise of Moore’s other acclaimed serieses League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Marvelman, From Hell, and Lost GirlsLOEG being the guiltiest party by featuring nearly two hundred characters that Moore did not create. Alan Moore has taken broad strokes with character he didn’t create, such broad and extreme strokes as shooting them, paralyzing, and taking naked photographs of them with the intent of driving their father insane. Moore has demonstrated a fondness for sexualizing, often violently, characters he didn’t create as seen graphically in LOEG and Lost Girls. A somewhat simplistic reading of LOEG will see it as merely common sexual fantasies manifested through the actions of Mina Murray- her sexual liberation through sexual assault at the hands of Dracula, the Invisible Man, and many others, her eternal youth, her bisexuality, a lover who can change genders (Orlando), the affections of multiple monsters, free love, incest (Quartmainn’s reincarnations), and on and on. The text itself is a sexual act and Lost Girls? That book’s even dirtier than LOEG, so if Alan Moore can take such sexual liberties with beloved characters from children’s stories, why should he be so upset by a couple of prequels for one twelve-issue graphic novel?

Is Moore’s problem with the capitalist enterprise of milking a story past its expiration date for financial reward? Isn’t that what comic books are all about? Such a large component of comics is the recurrence of characters, which is distinctly not a Nietzschean eternal recurrence but rather a more broad exponentially eternal recurrence as evidenced by the ever-expanding continuity organism that thrives on disruptions like the New 52 or Ultimates. Also, I love What If and Elseworlds imprints. In the case of Moore, didn’t he just release the LOEG: Century and Nemo books to cash in on the previous success of LOEG? Look at how those books were sold, Century is sold as three skinny books 1910, 1969, and 2009 even though they should be sold as a single graphic novel. Nemo has been released in hardcover despite being a mere 56 pages- $14.95 for 56 pages? Seriously? On this point, I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed every bit of LOEG and regard the additional material as worthwhile, but its nowhere near as good as the original first two volumes of the series, which probably stand better independent of the Black Dossier, the Century books, and Nemo. Mary Poppins might be worth it though.

I haven’t read Before Watchmen as I don’t read single issues and am waiting for the trades to come out. I’ve heard good things from people who read them and bad things, mostly from people who haven’t read them. I’m excited by the creative teams that worked on them- Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Jae Lee, Brian Azzarello, et al. are some of the most talented people working in comics. Stuff like Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote the Nite Owl storyline of Before Watchmen, is one of my favorite Superman storylines and the current Wonder Woman is one of the best titles being published, written by Brian Azzarello, who wrote the Comedian storyline of Before Watchmen. I’ll wait to see the final product before I judge and I’ll be amused and impressed, but not swayed, by Alan Moore’s commitment to his creations, despite obvious contradictions in his behavior- same with Prince.

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I first met Blake McConnell about twenty years ago. We worked on many projects together- chiefly Godzilla Vs Lenin; Quaaludas Iscariot; and collaborations as dr. cockroach & the jellyfish hypnotist. We haven’t collaborated on any project or seen in each other much since parting ways around the time of the great Y2K disaster of 2002. Since then, he’s been busy, chasing something that bellows, something that twitches, some ambiance that perpetually deliver its own death. His quest has taken him many places. Most recently, he’s set himself up in Wayne Newton’s hometown of Phoenix, Arizona where he does this kind of stuff . I encourage you to check out his page and press play on all the videos at your pleasure for a Zaireeka effect. Blake always had a fondness for the atmospheric, hypnotic, and accidental. He’s more  Music For Airports than Here Comes The Warm Jets, but he’s also the sky and the act of flight itself.

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Here’s Wayne Xiaolong‘s exclusive interview with Blake McConnell:

WAYNE XIAOLONG: Are you now or have you ever been a musician? What are you?

BLAKE MCCONNELL: ok, self identification time.   let’s do get that out of the way.  with all due pretense, I will describe myself as an artist that uses sound as a medium.  that’s not the only medium I use, and I don’t only use it musically.  my alter ego Miss Pixel is much more musically inclined.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Besides me, which living artist most influences yr. work?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: hmm, that’s a tough one.  I will say Genesis P-Orridge because they have influenced me for the longest, and so much ground is covered in one career.  They are basically the heir of the Burroughs/Gysin mantle of queer mysticism, early transgressive performance artist, inventor of more musical subgenres than the internet, and generally an uber-freak.  I saw The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye recently.  It really cemented for me that the Genesis persona is not a performance, or maybe its a never-ending performance that I could watch forever without getting bored.  I so admire that level of commitment.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What did you find in Mexico?
BLAKE MCCONNELL:Encontré muchas cosas magnificas en D.F.  Creo que la gente es mi favorita.   Los chilangos tiene una resistencia muy fuerte.  Hay tanto pobreza, sin embargo la gente parecen mas orgullosa que cualquiera.  Los chavos son muy politicos.  Fuimos a un demostración contra la empresa de televisión Televisa que fue dando mucho apoyar a Enrique Peña Nieto, ahora el presidente de Mexico.  ¡Fue bastante emocionante para ver tanto energia en la calle!
(I found many great things in D.F.  I believe that the people are my favorite.   The people of Mexico City have a really strong resilience.  There is so much poverty, yet the people appear prouder than any.  The kids are very political.  We went to a demonstration against the television company Televisa that was giving a lot of support to Enrique Peña Nieto, now the president of Mexico.  It was very exiting to see so much energy in the street!)
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What’s your favorite sound?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: Another tough one.  Right now I’m really into space, so less the sound itself but how it manifests.  I’ve been playing around with convolution reverb which can transform anything!  I mean, you take crinkling paper or something kind of mundane and you throw it into a cathedral or a canyon and it becomes, just, sublime.  You have to watch out, though, because the room you are listening to the sound in shapes the sound too.  Right now I’m getting ready to move out of my little adobe studio so every sharp noise sounds like glitch music–very wet, snappy reflections.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What do you perceive to be our greatest threat and what have you been doing recently to thwart it?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: One could write a whole PhD dissertation parsing those words, “our greatest threat.”  Who is the “we” implied by “our?”  I think my reflexive response would be to say that shifting the discourse away from “perceiving threats” would itself eliminate threats?
WAYNE XIAOLONG: You have virtually no social media presence and yet your world is somewhat driven by communications technology. How do you reconcile this contradiction?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: I don’t.  There are a lot of contradictions at play in my life, in all our lives.  Without them, without tension, life would be incredibly boring.   I like to tell my students, when talking about work (I teach the “media arts”) that you don’t have to resolve the tension–or anything–in your work.  I find, especially at that level, they feel like there should be a “punchline” or something that makes the meaning of the work really obvious.   I don’t think that’s necessary, just as I don’t think it’s necessary to Facebook.  Again, I’ll defer to Miss Pixel for all things Twitter.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Describe your ideal twelve person ensemble, instruments only not which beasts will play them.
BLAKE MCCONNELL: canyon, tornado, deluge, lazer, ice, lfo modulated vacuum, jumbo magnetic tape, reclaimed power line, grain silo, bones, amplified viral replication, dust
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which contemporary pop figure makes you feel most uncomfortable?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: Tough questions!  Probably Farrah Abraham because she’s both internet hipster famous and tabloid famous in this authentically tragic way.  She’s either completely clueless or super calculated–another contradiction.

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Last night the season finale of NBC’s greatest accomplishment Community aired. Sadly it might also have been the series finale. The show has teetered on extinction pretty much since its inception much like the beloved panda. This season Abed wore two panda shirts, so I can only imagine he would think my homage is cool cool cool cool cool.

While I really hope the show doesn’t get cancelled, the last several episodes of this season brought several elements of the show together and wrapped things pretty nicely. If the show ends, I hope everyone in the cast and crew find other outlets for their genius and have the opportunity to work together again. If you haven’t been watching it, give it a try.

I volunteer with a family from Myanmar every week, teaching them English. The kids in the family love superheroes. Here’s a picture where I drew them as pandas:pandakids

Here’s a Superman-related activity I made. I based it off the Simple English Wikipedia(a great resource for language teachers to find simple and interesting material) Superman origin story. It shouldn’t be much of a challenge for native speakers. Keep in mind, this puzzle is for beginning language learners, so somethings are simplified. Of course, I know Superman has more than one weakness. Here’s the puzzle:

supermanpuzz

Here are the clues:

Superman is not from (20 Down).  He is an (8 Down) from a planet called Krypton. His (21 Down) named him (24 Across). His father, Jor-El, found out that their planet was going to (22 Across). Jor-El sent his baby son to (20 Down) in a (3 Down) to save him. Baby (24 Across) was found and (27 Across) by Jonathan and Martha Kent. They named him (2 Down). The Kents raised him as their own son in on their farm in a small (14 Across) called Smallville, (5 Across) in the United States.

As he grows up, Clark finds out that he has (17 Down) powers. He cannot be hurt.  He is (7 Down) enough to lift almost anything. He can (4 Down) like a bird. He can run and move faster than a speeding (23 Across). He has can see through walls and shoot heat from his (6 Across). He can (4 Across) things with his cold breath. He decides to use his special powers to fight (12 Across) and save people in (25 Across).  He wears a blue and red (2 Across) and cape to keep his identity (18 Down).

He moves to a (10 Down) called (16 Across), and becomes a journalist for the Daily Planet, the most popular (19 Across) in the world. He falls in (11 Across) with another journalist, (13 Down).

His only (9 Down) is a (15 Down), a radioactive rock from his home planet. It makes him (11 Down) his powers. His (26 Down) use it to hurt him. (15 Down) comes in many colors, but is usually (1 Down).

YOU CAN FIND MORE WAYNE XIAOLONG SUPERHERO CROSSWORD PUZZLES BY CLICKING here.

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As you probably know, Geoff John’s nearly decade-long run as helmsman for the Green Lantern titles is coming to a close. Green Lantern fans nervously await a new era as all the GL titles receive entirely new creative teams and a new title Larfleeze arrives. When the new creative teams were announced, fans prepared themselves for the transition. The GL fan base was shaken up again by the announcement that Joshua Fialkov would not be writing Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns, despite initial announcements that he would. DC demonstrated a high level of cool when picking Fialkov’s replacements, finding two very original voices from independent comics, Van Jensen and Charles Soule.

I had the good fortune of meeting Van Jensen last summer and we’ve eaten hot wings together several times since. When I heard the news that Van was chosen to replace Fialkov, I was excited for both Van and for the Green Lantern Corps. If you’ve seen Van’s previous work the Pinocchio Vampire Slayer series, you might have a hard time imagining this guy writing Green Lantern Corps, but you shouldn’t worry. From talking with Van, it’s clear he takes this responsibility very seriously and is thrilled to be working on the title. Growing up in Nebraska, Van’s access to comics was somewhat limited, but he could always rely on finding G.I. Joe comics and he still carries much affection for the series. Isn’t the Green Lantern really just a story about soldiers fighting vampires? Don’t worry. The Corps is in good hands. Bernard Chang will be delivering what is surely to be some amazing artwork.

Here we offer you our exclusive interview with new Green Lantern writer Van Jensen-

WAYNE XIAOLONG: Over the past decade, the Green Lantern titles have enjoyed tremendous popularity earned through outstanding writing and art. Since Hal Jordan exorcised Parallax and the Green Lantern Corps reformed, a great many iconic characters have been introduced and core elements of the DC multiverse’s quantum mechanics and metaphysics have been defined in the pages of Green Lantern books. Geoff Johns and his buddies pursued nearly absurd limits of grandeur, affecting the entire DC universe in fundamental ways. Your work in Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer has been an intimate series of small town murders while the Green Lantern books have been planet-wide genocides. As a writer, what are some adjustments you’ve been made as you tackle a narrative with consequences that reach pretty far beyond what you’ll write yourself?
VAN JENSEN: The work done by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Dave Gibbons and so many more is really remarkable, up there with some of the best creative runs that anyone has had in comics. So, first and foremost, I come in knowing that I have huge shoes to fill. I’ve worked to familiarize myself as much as possible with the details and mechanics of this universe, as well as with the complex histories of the characters. The scope of that research is quite a bit beyond what I did for Pinocchio, which relied almost entirely on Carlo Collodi’s original story. A key component is simply thinking on a grand scale about impacts—asking myself: “If this happens, what are the reactions not just within the Corps, but around the universe?” And the last component is working closely with Green Lantern writer Rob Venditti. Luckily, we come into this having been friends for years. Rob is an extremely talented, thoughtful writer, and it’s very easy to work with him.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: You’ve worked with artists long distance successfully before. What are some tips you can give creative partners separated by geography?
VAN JENSEN: The key is simply communicating clearly. Know what your expectation are, hit deadlines and work through problems together. We live in an age when distance isn’t the barrier it once was, so geography never should come between creative partners.

WAYNE XIAOLONG: For Green Lantern Corps, you are working with Bernard Chang. Chang’s style is quite different from Dustin Higgins who you worked with on Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer. Is the process very different with each artist? Any positive surprises working with Chang?

VAN JENSEN: I’ve known and admired Bernard’s work for a long time, and I count myself as extremely lucky to have a chance to work with him (as well as colorist Marcelo Maiolo). One thing I’ve learned is that Bernard is very attuned to storytelling. He asks lots of questions and brings lots of great ideas, making sure that the narrative flows effectively. That’s something that is very true of Dusty as well. So they’re fairly similar to work with, even though they are so different stylistically.
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WAYNE XIAOLONG:The internet breathed a sigh of relief when the rumor that you were going to kill John Stewart was put to rest. Many sensitive readers are still recovering from the death of Damian Wayne. Given the chance, how would you kill Superman?

VAN JENSEN: With a spoon.

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WAYNE XIAOLONG: I think what DC Comics is doing with We Can Be Heroes is really fantastic. What causes are you involved with?

VAN JENSEN: I agree completely. We Can Be Heroes is a great program, and it’s nice to see a company make such a significant effort to make a difference. Mostly, I’m involved with programs local to Atlanta—our Habitat for Humanity chapter, a couple of local homeless shelters and a creative writing mentorship program for kids at inner city schools.
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WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which U.S. President do you think a Green Lantern ring would have most likely chosen?
VAN JENSEN: I doubt that any president had as much willpower as Teddy Roosevelt, and he would’ve created some totally crazy constructs.

whichringforyou
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which ring would most likely end up on your finger?
VAN JENSEN: If I’m stuck in Atlanta traffic, definitely Red.
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WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which ring would most likely end up on Pinocchio?
VAN JENSEN: Probably Red. That puppet has a lot of anger. And it’s fun to imagine him with an endless supply of stakes AND spewing flaming bile.

fcbdjesusbacon

When: May 4th, 2013

What: Free Comic Book Day

Where: Criminal Records and Oxford Comics in Atlanta, Georgia

Today was my first Free Comic Book Day. Of course, I’d heard of it before. It’s promoted in single issues a lot, but I usually read TPBs, which causes me to miss out on various snacks marketed towards young children and Nintendo promotions. Still, I’ve seen the promotions before and my local comic shop Oxford Comics gives away Free Comic Books all year round. I’ve always thought highly of the idea and have been anxious to see it in action. Having been in China for the past years during this holiday, this was my first opportunity to witness it. I had a nice time. The weather could have been better. Blame Storm.

First, I went to Criminal Records, a comic and record shop in Little 5 Points that has always been dear to my heart, first as a record store and then as a comic book shop. In many ways, Criminal Records is responsible for my current love affair with sequential art. Once before I left China to visit the US, my girlfriend at the time (wife at the present time) had gotten her hands on a copy of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and asked me to pick her up some American comics. From that point on, every time I would return to the US, I would stop my Criminal Records and the staff there would let me know what was hip in the world of independent comics. Today the atmosphere was pleasant. There were a handful of cosplayers, including what I think was one of the TV-headed bad guys from Saga. I didn’t get any pictures- sorry. There were several local artists and comic creators. I first spoke with Chris Hammer,a sketchy looking character who was accompanied by a well-mannered illustrative model. Both looked like they could eat nails, but carried on like well-groomed teddy bears. Hammer’s art is mostly too cool for school stuff, evoking graffiti and pop art. I picked up his book Long Way Home, a very fun book.

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I also had the pleasure of speaking with Rodney Rodis, Tony Barletta, and George Marston who work together as illustrator, writer, and inker respectively on a little sci-fi book called Cosmic Behemoth. The three of them seem to get along well and embrace their cooperative process. Rodis and Marston both do some great work independently. Marston, in particular, had some very stylistic interpretations of the enemies of Batman and Spiderman. Marston is distantly related to William Moulton Marston, inventor of the lie detector, creator of Wonder Woman, and gender radical in both theory and practice.

Photo of Sue Storm cosplay, obscured by Cosmic Behemoth's creators Rodney Rodis, Tony Barletta, and George Martson

Photo of Sue Storm cosplay, obscured by Cosmic Behemoth’s creators Rodney Rodis, Tony Barletta, and George Martson

Several other creators were on hand at Criminal Records. All of them quite busy, happily entertaining customers and exhibiting their crafts. Customers, staff, and guests all seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Way to go, Criminal Records! A great success!

fcbd2

After Criminal Records, I headed over to Oxford Comics. The festivities at Oxford were more kid-themed than at Criminal, which is kind of funny considering that Oxford offers a lot of hyper-mature products like jaw-dropping Japanese cartoons, adult films, and heartily hardcore homosexual comics. Artists were on hand to do free sketches of kids 6 and under. Two totally rad parents were there with their kids in homemade costumes, a Hulk (pictured below) and a Robin.

Little Hulk With Hulky Dad

There was a woman dressed a Green Lantern. When probed as to which Lantern she represented, she denied ties to any specific member of the Green Lantern Corps. I told her that if she lost the mask and drew some triangles on her face that she could make a good Soranik Natu. She told me that several people had already told her. Maybe she’ll take our advice and my stock in red paint will finally begin to rise! rise! rise!

Green Lantern cosplay

I picked up ten of the free titles:

-Bantam Dell’s previews of Louis L’Amour’s Law of the Desert Born and Jonathan Kellerman’s The Web.

-Local heroes Top Shelf’s Top Shelf Kids Club

-Archaia’s Mouse Guard/Rust

Ugly Doll Comics which features a parody of the cover of Action Comics v.1 #1. I like the Ugly Doll story very much. It’s one of those very cute love stories between creative people from different sides of the Pacifc Ocean. If we’re lucky, those kind of cute love stories are the future of cultural production- cooperation between male and female as well as eastern culture and western culture. Also mixed babies are adorable before they grow up to become very attractive adults.

-IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures

-DC Comics’ Superman: Last Son of Krypton Special Edition, which features an interview with Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, the creative team behind Superman: Unchained

-Aracana’s The Steam Engines of Oz

-Marvel’s preview of their upcoming six-issue mini-series Infinity

-Drawn & Quarterly’s preview of Gilbert Hernandez’s Marble Season

-DC Comics’s Capstone Presents Mr. Puzzle

sketchypandas

I’ve been working on several panda illustration based on photographs- mostly pictures I took, but some pictures my friends have taken. In this first picture, the SNOW beer is pretty east to see. The glasses and bottles may seem disproportionate to your Western eyes, but in China, it is common to drink beer out of small glasses that has been poured from a larger bottle. It facilitates frequent toasts among drinkers, toasts that vary in enthusiasm and glory depending on the spirit of the revelers. Sometimes you drink with your friend. Sometimes you drink with your boss. Sometimes you drink with some creepy government official who won’t stop touching your leg and spits rice when he talks. Sometimes you drink with bored alcoholics that just keep toasting to keep themselves from committing mass murder-suicide. I spent my time there as a diplomat, so I drank with everybody. It’s just one of the way I protected America’s interests abroad. I deserve grant money.

pandagrocery

This is based on photograph of myself and a lovely woman I met in Almaty, Kazakhstan (the music capital of Central Asia) at the grocery where she worked. She might still work there. The photo was taken in 2008 right before the Beijing Olympics.

bluehairbabepanda

This one is not based on a photograph that I took. It’s from somewhere in the erotic abyss that is the internet.

pandathuglove

This one reminds me a bit of Diane Arbus. I only recently learned that she was married to M*A*S*H’s Dr. Freeman in the wake of Allan Arbus’s death. That news really blew my mind. My mind can barely wrap itself around the fact that  M*A*S*H featured an actor named Alan Alda and an actor named Allan Arbus. That must have been confusing. The folks at the 4077 had trouble keeping Asians straight, so they hired the same five Japanese actors to play all the Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Asian-American roles. The nurses all had seemed to function normally despite their multiple personality disorders.

catvsdrunkpanda

This picture speaks to one of my dear friends who is currently help get malaria out of Africa. Her compassion for others is rivaled only by her cat-titude, which is an unstoppable force of sugar and spice.

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