A Ben Cohen Ink Comic


By Ben Cohen a “legendary master of the left field.” -BRP!

“Unintentionally misunderstood since 1975.” –Anonymous

“A big f@#k you, to the audience.” -B. Pendarvis

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Review of Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: Year One, Rubber Blanket and Paul Auster's City of Glass)

Review of Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli (Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: Year One, Rubber Blanket and Paul Auster's City of Glass)

Mazzucchelli has played unsung, but important roles in the history and present day of Superhero Comics, Comic Adaptations in Graphic Novel form, Self Published Comics and Comics Education (he teaches Cartooning at the School of Visual Arts).

On a personal note this book took me to a parallel universe were a lessons from my first college (College of Marin) and my second (Savannah College of Art and Design) merged. The first being a Theater lesson on the “Act of God” and the second a lecture by the author Mazzucchelli on his artistic journey to progress circularly toward a comic strip he did with Cran about Batman, Robin and a Peanut Butter sandwich. While the “Act of God” bookends the story, the author’s journey plays throughout, in the refreshing and terse yet intricate story of Asterios Polyp.

Asterios is a man confronted with moments to shake off his self-induced mediocrity coma, grab three “seemingly” unsentimental items, and rush into a rediscovery and reflection. His reflections focus on his complimentary twin brother, his work as a famous architectural professor whose work is only theoretical, his petty egotistical intellectual competitiveness, and his journey through “love” to where he has finally met his match. While he runs away from the aftermath of his old life, he runs to a life where instead of pontificating about a design or a theory, he simply makes. This contrast I personally fantasies and reflect about, although perhaps in the reverse. I am not familiar enough with Mazzucchelli to project, but perhaps like Asterios and I, the author lives in the world of education and art, where the practical use of our skills are more often then we had hoped, wasted on the theoretical. While the less glorified in our communities get to do something pure, perhaps routine, but practical. Lucky for me I still do get to, as does our “hero” Asterios. Perhaps Mazzucchelli has his “day job” as well.

If you love a good love story, Acts of God, design theory, architecture, critiques of the intellectuals (done intellectually), and believe people can grow even from knowing everything, this is wonderful comic for you.

Please take the time to read other peoples thoughts at the following links:



...and if you ar in NYC go to: http://www.moccany.org/

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Final Crisis, Newsweek and other Summer readings

Final Crisis:

At the climax Mandrakk (a dumb name) says to Superman the only refreshing line in the entire book; “Your Father failed to save his world.” Three pages later in the worst drawn perspective is a double page spread of superhero’s flying (how basic is that) and on the next page appears along with every other hero I had forgotten in the DC universe is Captain Carrot. This book is so corny and convoluted that I didn’t even get that I was at one point reading about Kamandi (who I read just a few weeks earlier…see review bellow) until the last panel Kamandi appeared in…I love Kamandi. I kept saying to myself why are there Tiger’s…when Tiger’s play a huge role in Kamandi. In fact none of my favorites, even though they all appear in the book could save it, not Green Lantern, not The Flash, not even Green Arrow. Actually, the Weird never showed up…but he would have been lost in the crowed. It was the first time I had spent any time with Mister Miracle, who was much more interesting then I had imagined. But I felt I was continually reading introductions until I was reading climax and conclusion; and we all know how disappointing that is. The hick-up like storytelling left me uninterested and frustrated. I know the characters…I majored in comics. But some with 52 worlds all coming together to confuse and annoy you they still hammered home a depiction of misogynist violence and obtusely sexualized women. Basically it was bogus, I have yet to read the brilliance of Grant Morison that people tell me is out there. And the arts quality is over sold, for every well rendered interesting panels there are four that make me wonder if the editor just thought, “hay I am working with geniuses, I can take a nap.” Every once in a while I wonder, why did I always make mine Marvel as a kid…I have nothing gainst DC, I like their shows and movies often, I loved The Weird, the Dark Knight, Year One, Long Bow Hunter and The New Frontier. I know they have had brilliance in their midst like Kirby, Miller, Infantino, Cooke, Mazzucchelli, Cole, and Adams. Nevertheless, colossal efforts like this do not win them my devotion.

Newsweek (filtered through inspreation provided by Final Crisis):

In the latest issue I had some thoughts, or things I would like to point out: Fareed Zakaria again is brilliant. He points out simple truths…for example America’s Fatal Flaw: if it’s not a crisis, we can’t fix it (see there’s that word again CRISIS). This is a huge issue with our reality, particularly if you take the reality this issue points out (and know it is not Aliens only). The Revolutionary War, The Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Bay of Pigs, Kuwait, 9/11, Our Current Recession…like Superman we spring into action. Social Security, Government Deficit, Energy Independence, Laying Cheating Manipulative Immoral Politicians, Education, Poverty, Religious War, Intolerance, Global Warming, Health Care, the End of the world…eh we will get to it once we are done being manipulated into fighting with each other, being selfish, trying to win. In this issue we also learn, Aliens Exist (well we think the odds are good), Jewish Settlements can be stopped, The Train idea is cool, but not a logical substitute for fuel efficient cars, Marriages are hurting our kids, Socialism is good medicine (I have much to say in support and rebuttal to that), Bipartisanship is Bad, Immigrants make more jobs (no duh…we are all immigrants and there are more jobs now), oh and by the way because of the permafrost it is TO LATE TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING so we are all dead…but the good news is the environment is in better shape then it has been in 100 years.

A lot to talk about, but for now I will retreat into the comforting world of Comics and my other summer readings.

Booster Gold (the good newish DC superhero Book I read):

Convoluted Time Travel: Check, Overly Glorified Art: Check, Multiple Versions of the Same Characters: Check, Lame Villain: Check, Less the Satisfactory Conclusion: Check…so why is this book the good one. Well it’s Booster Gold and he doesn’t take himself seriously enough, but he is trying. I never really paid much attention to him until I saw an episode of Justice League Unlimited that focused on his hubris and incompetence… this book lives in a struggle between the mans flaws and the necessity that he is faced with: accidentally destroying all reality…another similarity to Crisis…but this a problem he helped create and he has manned up to solve…in other words it is a character driven problem…not a ridiculously uninteresting one. Along with that the Blue Beetle is in this book and he is equally charming and refreshing a character in the DC universe…you know why mine was always Marvel even when their comics sucked like DC’s…because their characters are all built on flaws that are transparent and are as much a part of their powers as their strengths…not as metaphorical as Superman’s Jewish alienation. So not the worlds greatest comic, but a fun read, that does not leave you bitter.

Secret invasion Captain Britain and MI13:

As long as their has been comics there has been competition and innovation that is dependent on stealing other companies ideas or at least trying to one up…I would not be surprised to find this is the case here…I also would not care…it is one of the things I like about comics…the piracy. While not being any ware close to as good a Captain Britain story as Claremont and Davis would have done, this one is respectable. And yes it has another cross dimensional multi universe angle with Aliens and this time King Arthur’s court. And again there the art is ok, but not brilliant. I do love the John Lennon Skrull and like the utilization of 1940’s superheroes (see an explanation in John Byrne’s Sensational She-Hulk for an explanation on how that is possible). I am surprised by my interest in the Black Knights Sward. I did find the inclusion of a Arabic, Nun Super Healer to be a little trite. But Captain Britain is still a fun character and they didn’t ruin him, so its an ok book that meats the level that Crisis should have and not quite the level that Booster Gold did.

Jonah Hex:

I had recommended this in the past, not having read it. Based on the cover and the involvement of Jimmy Palmiatti (who I like as a person and cartoonist in general…a nice helpful fun guy)..this book falls under the misleading cover category. The stories and art are hit or miss. There are some brilliant moments in both words and pictures. My favorite is an image of an Indian leaping at an Anglo on a horse…it has a Frazzeta quality to it. But some of the story is just about as annoying as it gets, and again there are gratuitous aspects that simply bug me now. I am still searching for that great cowboy comic.

Kamandi Volume I:

For me this is be best the King of Comics did…and it is pure nistalgia. It is not the most brilliant story, or depiction. It does ape a lot of other sources to create this new universe (see how I feel about that above). But Kamandi speaks to a future I wouldn’t mind surviving in (as tough as it sounds). And based on news week and some other ideas floating in my head…I may just have to settle for this future. It’s better then final Crisis. Basically, Kirby can draw comics, sometimes not as sharply as you would like, but he lays out a panel and a page just about as good as it has ever been done, the book is both filled with intelligence and silly fun. In short if you have not read it and you can put your judgment aside and just enjoy the ride, go for it…the water is fine.

Love and Rockets New Stories No 1:

In this one Berto leaves me feeling eh (not usually the case). But Jamie finally lets go and delves into the secret superhero world he has been hinting at for decades…and it is as refreshingly fun as Kamandi, as unguarded as Booster Gold and as clear as well…it is clearer then the other reads on this list. Basically if you want to see how female superheros should be, you want to have a fun read, you are smart, you are in the cool crowed, well then you are reading this right now. Plus not many people ink as wonderfully as Jamie. Go INDY SUPS!

Note on The Comics Jurnal 298 and 299:

The Cover of 298 is pure comic asthetics. The interview with Trevor Von Eeden both egotistical and hart brakingly riveting (sounds like the story of all great cartoonists…I am sure he would take exceptions to that since the hell most of them put him through). And 299 reveals just about the most amazing thing to not come to fruition in comics history, Michel Choquette’s anthology of the most brilliant ensemble of cartoonist and artist ever assembled…I am so glad it never was finished…it would have disappointed and now we can just ponder what could have been…until the world comes to an end.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ben's 25 (+) Favorite Comics Covers of All Time…to date.

No. 25.1: Marc Silvestri's

No. 25: Bob Mantana's (?)

No. 24: Katsuhiro Otom'sNo. 23: Bryan Hitch'sNo. 22:(unknown) No. 21: jason'sNo. 20: Jack ColeNo. 19: Bill Watterson'sNo. 18: Will Wlder and Adam Grano's No. 17: Dan Clowes'sNo. 16: Jack Kirby's

No. 15: Dave Gibbon's

No. 14: Neal Adam'sNo. 13: James Jean'sNo. 12: Jim Woodring'sNo. 11: Chris Sprouse'sNo. 10: Frank FrazettaNo. 9: Frank Miller's

No. 8: Paul Smith's

No. 7: Adrian Tomine'sNo. 6: Alan Davis's

No. 5: Chris Ware'sNo. 4: Darwyn Cooke'sNo. 3: Jamie Hernandez'sNo. 2: Bill SieniekwiczNo. 1: Herge'sThanks to fellow cartoonist and college friend Kelly Thompson's inspiring list I have made my own, less as a rebuttal (you will see some similarities), but more as another perspective. What's yours?