31 January 2012

WE HATE IT WHEN OUR FRIENDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL



We hate it when our friends become successful
We hate it when our friends become successful
Oh, look at those clothes
Now look at that face, it's so old
And such a video !
Well, it's really laughable
Ha, ha, ha ...

We hate it when our friends become successful
And if they're Northern, that makes it even worse
And if we can destroy them
You bet your life we will
Destroy them
If we can hurt them
Well, we may as well ...
It's really laughable
Ha, ha, ha ...

You see, it should've been me
It could've been me
Everybody knows
Everybody says so
They say :

"Ah, you have loads of songs
So many songs
More songs than they'd stand
Verse
Chorus
Middle eight
Break, fade
Just listen ..."

30 January 2012

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

As January slips out of view, I thought it would be nice to collect the first four ads from the "Experience Creativity" campaign we're running over the course of 2012, in one place. We're spotlighting one a week in various Image titles, but they're also on the Image blog, and there are plans for some of them to appear in other places as well.

They're incredibly straightforward, and I'm very proud of the work Image's Jonathan Chan did on the design. They were created from photos taken by the creators' spouses or friends (or in the case of Shaky's, a professional photographer, Steven Cook), so it was important to have a clean look that would allow a variety of different images to look uniform yet distinctive. Jon kept things simple, and as is often the case with design, that's the shortest path to brilliance.

I think the idea speaks for itself, but we wanted to focus on what makes Image Comics great. In an industry populated by some of the most imaginative minds ever, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that they are – without a doubt – our single greatest resource. We wanted to celebrate, not just the comics we publish, but the amazing people who create them. Above all else, we wanted to tell their story – because their story is our story.




29 January 2012

GREATEST HITS


Musing on vinyl again today, because listening to The Gift last night got me thinking about The Jam's fantastic "best of" collection, the two-record Snap! I played the hell out of that when I was younger, probably more than any other album by The Jam, and so much so that I had to buy a second copy when the original wore out. I bought it again when it came on CD – renamed Compact Snap! and featuring fewer songs – and yet again when it was re-released in 2004 in a deluxe format that restored the original track listing, added the bonus live EP that came with the original vinyl issue and dressed it all up in a landscape format book featuring the original liner notes and all the lyrics.

The 29 songs on Snap! expertly chronicle the evolution of a band whose final single sounded almost unrecognizable from the first, and a songwriter who even today, refuses to stand still, but it was those liner notes and lyrics that got me thinking this morning, as I put the album on to accompany my morning coffee.

Beautifully designed by long-time Weller collaborator, Simon Halfon, Snap! was a gatefold album that opened to reveal 10 photos of The Jam taken between 1977 and 1982, along with excepts from Paolo Hewitt's then-new authorized biography of the band, The Jam: A Beat Concerto. The excerpts provided kind of a Cliff Notes overview of the band's career, and since I had come in at the end instead of the beginning, I was deeply fascinated by what I read. 

Each side of the sleeves for the two records offered further facts to pour over, these an almost stream of consciousness beat poem telling the story of one of England's best loved bands:

"Hair by Schumi, vigorous shows, backstage fights, mum ironing and drying white shirts, leaps in the air, sweat, Paul and Bruce back to back, fanzines, Rick Bucker's shades, Familiar Faces in the crowd, pogoing, 'revolution,' a contract just an ink dot away and yes! You can change your world if you want to."


On The Jam's first single, Weller proclaimed, "In the city, there's a thousand things I want to say to you," and regardless of whether he actually said that much or not, I read the sleeve notes to Snap! at least that many times. Even when I'd actually tracked down a copy of A Beat Concerto, I remained transfixed by the more stylized and condensed version of The Jam's story that could only be found in that album.

And that's not an experience that can be replicated listening to the album on your iPod or by streaming it on Spotify. I'm not against either of those things – I think they're both great, in fact – but they don't offer the same kind of immersive experience listening to records and pouring over the details on the sleeves does. And even more to the point, the entire digital format makes greatest albums almost obsolete. Anyone can create their "best of" playlists, for any artist.

This old heart of mine is weak for greatest hits albums, though. When I'm out shopping for vinyl, I'll buy greatest hits albums by almost any band I like. I have every Otis Redding album on vinyl – but I also have two different greatest hits albums by him, not to mention a four-disc CD box set. The Beatles, The Byrds, Dylan, Love, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, the Stones... I have something like a dozen different Motown hits compilations and a seven-album, 14-record Atlantic Records collection. I'll argue long and hard in favor of the album as an artistic statement, but I also like being able to just kick my bits to the hits at times, too.

There are a few greatest hits albums, too, that are practically the definitive statement about a band. When I was growing up, one of those albums was Al Green's Greatest Hits. To this day, that is still my go-to Al Green record, even though I have heard all those songs more times than I can count, and even though I have most of his albums and love of many of the album tracks more than the singles. The albums definitely give you a much fuller understanding of an amazing artist, but Greatest Hits – it sums Al Green up even more perfectly than Snap! does The Jam.

In addition to greatest hits albums, I love making top 10 lists, so here's a quick rundown of my all-time favorite best of collections, all best listened to on vinyl and played LOUD.


1. Al Green - Greatest Hits (1975)
2. The Zombies - Time of The Zombies (1974)
3. The Jam - Snap! (1983)
4. Sly & The Family Stone - Greatest Hits (1970)
5. The Beatles - 1967-1970 (1973)
6. Shack - Time Machine: The Best of Shack (2007)
7. Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady (1979)
8. The Rolling Stones - Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) (1966)
9. Neil Young - Decade (1977)
10. David Bowie - ChangesOneBowie (1976)

28 January 2012

THE GIFT


"I believe in life and I believe in love
But the world in which I live in keeps trying to prove me wrong."

For me, staying in and listening to records has always been one of life's great pleasures, but it's an experience that has only gotten better with age.

Case in point: For the second time this week, I'm listening to my 30-year-old copy of The Jam's final studio LP, The Gift. There's a 180gram vinyl reissue available now, that I briefly considered buying, but thinking about that resulted in listening to my original copy for the first time in years.

Don't get me wrong: I've listened to the album, or least songs from it, numerous times, but on my iPod, on my computer, on CD. Pulling the record out of the lavender and white "gift bag" it was originally issued in back in 1982, it dawned on me a needle hadn't troubled its grooves since at least 1989.

Hearing it again in this format was somewhat of a revelation: I must have really handled my records with care when I was a kid, because it sounds almost as though it's never been played. Having grown used to buying clean vinyl that inevitably has the odd crackle or pop, I was a little shocked at how little surface noise there was on this one. It's almost like hearing it for the first time.

The songs also sound incredibly fresh, considering how long ago they were written and recorded. There are numerous Paul Weller fans who dismiss this particular album, but hearing it now, I find it difficult to understand. "Ghosts," "Carnation," "Running on the Spot," "Town Called Malice," "Precious," "Just Who Is the 5 O'Clock Hero?" – there are bands that would kill for songs that good. The wisdom and awareness in Weller's lyrics greatly bely his age, and listening to them three decades later, it's actually a bit unnerving to consider how little things have changed since they were written.

"We're running on the spot – always have – always will?
We're just the next generation of the emotionally crippled."

If you don't have a copy of the album handy – or worse, if you've never heard it – here are The Jam playing a few of the best tracks live at Bingley Hall back in 1982...







And the big hit from The Gift was obviously the almost annoyingly well-known "Town Called Malice," but it's still one of my favorite Jam singles and an all-around top song.


Here's the original promo video for it:

BLOOD MAKES NOISE


"Feel the blood."

"Rub the blood."

That's how we sold Bloodstrike to the world, back in 1993. The initial ads for Extreme's undead government super-team said, "Feel the blood!" Then, when Rob Liefeld came up with the idea to splatter the cover of the first issue with thermal ink that would "disappear" on touch, we decided telling people that wasn't enough. "Feel" sounded too passive – we needed to let everyone know that it required a bit more effort.

I still remember sitting on the floor in the Extreme bullpen and saying, almost absent-mindedly, what if it just says, "Rub the blood"?

Rob loved that.

Something else he loved was my suggestion, last year, that Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley write the new Bloodstrike series we were planning to launch.

Tim had actually contacted Rob about doing something with Bloodstrike even earlier than that, but nothing was going on with the book at that point. Rob liked his ideas, though, and when I told Rob that Tim was my first choice, his response was both immediate and wholly enthusiastic. In fact, Tim was the first piece chunk of talent we enlisted as we began putting building the awesome Frankenstein monster that would become the new Extreme.

For anyone unfamiliar with Tim, his Hack/Slash comic follows the adventures of Cassie Hack as she hunts down serial killers – all of whom will seem more than a little familiar to fans of the slasher movies Tim himself loves so much. It's a great series that is full of action, humor and gore, whilst simultaneously broadcasting Tim's heartfelt affection for a genre that likely falls into the "guilty pleasure" category for most.

Bloodstrike is about super-powered government agents resurrected to continue fighting the good fight. Or at continue fighting. Whether the minds behind Project: Born Again actually have noble intentions is something else altogether, but either way, Tim's affinity not only for the darker side of life, but the lighter side of death, made him seem like a perfect fit as we revived Bloodstrike's long-dead corpse.

And as with Brandon Graham and Joe Keatinge, Tim brought an incredibly talented artist along with him: Franchesco Gaston.

The artists on Prophet and Glory share almost no common ground with their predecessors on those titles, but Franchesco manages to incorporate some of the series' original energy into a style what is considerably different that that of any other Bloodstrike artist. There is outrageous weaponry and there is gore galore, but Franchesco goes all Sinatra on us and does it his way. You're going to love it.

Here's a taste:




I'm also a big fan of Tim's covers for the book, the latest of which actually prompted this post. Tim doesn't draw enough, in my opinion, but I'm happy we've got him on covers for Bloodstrike. Here's one you probably haven't seen yet:

27 January 2012

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT

Prophet #22 is barreling to finer comic book shops everywhere in a few short weeks, and it's actually better than Brandon Graham and Simon Roy's first issue.

I could rattle off a list of reasons why, but since Simon decided to do a new cover for this issue that no one's seen yet, I figured I'd let that and a few of the pages speak for themselves.





25 January 2012

DESPERATE BUT NOT SERIOUS

I got an email from a prominent comic book retailer a few days back. He wanted to let me know that more and more of his customers are checking out Image's 2012 books, and how excited he was for the year to come. He predicted Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga would be likely be one of, if not the, biggest selling books of the year in his store.

It was an inspirational and uplifting message, but his kind words about Image's ongoing commitment to creating good comics – good new comics – only barely masked a seething disappointment with Marvel and DC. And not just on his part, but his customers' as well. He said readers were tired of being force-fed the same stories, as though nobody recognized they were regurgitating the same ideas – recent ones, even – again and again. He praised Image's commitment to maintaining a fair cover price on so many of our books, whilst Marvel and DC paid lip service to "holding the line" at $2.99. Worse, he bemoaned the increased frequency of Marvel's books, noting that readers might be excited by that if the quality was there, but concluding it simply wasn't.

That last part really made a dent in my thinking, because it's not the first time I've heard or read comments like that from a retailer. I think everyone has noticed that Marvel has started publishing a number of their books more than once a month. They've been ramping up on this for a while, and it's something I've kind of shook my head at, because it's a desperate ploy to gain marketshare that doesn't promote sustainability on any level. It's a cash grab, pure and simple, and when you couple that with the fact so many of their books are creeping up on $3.99, I shudder to think of the long-term effects.

And I can hear you shaking your own head now. Okay, maybe I can't hear you doing that, but I can imagine the chuckling: "Desperate? Marvel is the number one publisher in comics!" – but I'll stand by my words. When DC launched their new 52 last September, Marvel didn't fight back with awesome. They fought back with the only real tool in their shed: more. They're not increasing the frequency of their books out of generosity, they're doing it to dominate the market. And in the absence of anything even resembling new, all we get is more.

I mean, they keep doing these events that are based around the same mix and match concepts: Other characters get the Hulk's powers. Other characters get Spider-Man's powers. Other characters get hammers like Thor. Now, if that recent Iron Fist image from an upcoming issue of New Avengers is any indication, a bunch of characters will be imbued with the Phoenix Force. I know DC went green by using recycled paper, but maybe Marvel's trying to recycle in other ways.

Also central to these "ideas:" Everyone vs. everyone! I poked fun at this last week, when that hilarious Avengers vs. X-Men cover image was released online, but it's the truth. Civil War, House of M, World War Hulk, Secret Invasion, Shadowland, UltimatumFear Itself, Spider-Island, X-Men: Schism, and now, Avengers Vs. X-Men. It's all-out hero on hero action in the mighty Marvel manner, again and again and again.

These are not serious creative statements. It's more like a bored child reaching into the toy box trying to find new ways to wring some meager enjoyment out of faded old playthings. The fun lasts for a little while, but you can only tell yourself something's all-new and all-different so many times before those words ring hollow. Avengers vs. X-Men wasn't a new idea when Marvel did it in 1987, and it's not a new idea now.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter if it's new, or even if it's good. All that matters is that it sells, which it will. But it won't sell as well as the last big "event," and I'm willing to bet the one after that (and oh, don't you just know there will be one after that...) will sell even less.

That's why I use words like "desperate" and "sustainability." These "event" books – whether they're from Marvel or from DC, and whether it's Avengers vs. X-Men or Watchmen 2  – whatever – they're just short-term fixes. They spike sales, but they don't sustain interest. And instead of seriously looking for ways to engage new or lapsed readers over the long haul, it's just more of the same – an approach as worn out and tired as the phrase "wash, rinse, repeat."

That's worrisome to a growing number of retailers, like the one referenced above, but truthfully, it should be to anyone with an interest in this industry's future. We're at juncture where we can either embrace creativity and move forward...or we can just sit where we are and chew our own tails, month-in and month-out.

Me? I've kind of lost the taste for it.

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Mélanie Laurent

23 January 2012

COMEDY

I was chatting with a friend over email the other day, about British comedy shows that ran here in the States during the early '80s. This was years before BBC America was developed, so these shows were running on PBS, and they ran them in a block that included The Benny Hill Show, Doctor In the House, The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perin, and a show I haven't thought about probably since I last saw in 1982 or so, Dave Allen At Large. These shows came on either before or after Doctor Who back then, and along with Monty Python's Flying Circus (which was aired separately for some reason; memory suggests in was only on weekends), formed my introduction to British humor.

I actually had to do a Google search for comedians missing a finger to finally recall Dave Allen's name. And then it was off to YouTube, wonderful YouTube, the repository for virtually everything knocking about the backseat of our minds, to be reminded of why I was so transfixed by his show to begin with. Comedy is different now – a bit more brusque, I think – but Dave Allen registers laughs with me. I think it's because so much of what he says is grounded in truth. What's more, itt's odd to see this stuff now, some 30 years on from my original point of contact (and even later, in terms of its original air date), and realize how much of my own sense of humor is owed to this wonderfully irreverent Irishman from the 20th century...






22 January 2012

SUNDAY'S PRETTY ICONS

Nostalgia strikes at strange times, for strange things, in strange ways: I woke up this morning longing for the comfort of my old blueberry iMac.

I actually still have it, sitting atop a bookshelf in my office at Image, but the notion of actually setting it up and using it again somehow invaded my idle thoughts again and again over the course of the day. Also, it got me thinking about just how simple and beautiful so many of Apple's computers have been.

How many of these have you had?






20 January 2012

THE QUEEN IS DEAD

There's always bad news to go with the good, and today's allotment comes as the announcement of Etta James' death at the age of 73. Somehow Aretha Franklin was crowned the queen of soul, but while I love her, too, for me, that title has always belonged to Etta James. Honestly, I really don't know how you can listen to "At Last" or "A Sunday Kind of Love" or "I'd Rather Go Blind" and think any differently. What a voice. And have you heard "Seven Day Fool," or her team-ups with Sugar Pie DeSanto, like "Do I Make Myself Clear?" She just had an amazing voice – powerful as all get out, but still capable of projecting incredible warmth and vulnerability. "Soul" just doesn't begin to describe it.

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN

I didn't notice until recently, but Manic Street Preachers' Nicky Wire and my father share the same birthdate. That date being today. The Wire is 43; my old man is somewhat older. I wish them both the best.

If you're not familiar with Nicky, he's the Manics' bassist and has written virtually all their lyrics since the disappearance of Richey Edwards in 1995. He's prone to saying whatever the fuck is on his mind – a trait I greatly admire – and he also fancies a dress every now and again.

Nicky isn't everyone's cup of tea – his lyrics, his persona, or his singing voice – but I'm a fan, and here are the top 10 reasons why, including the frequently-maligned "Miss Europa Disco Dancer." It doesn't feature a lead vocal from Nicky, but does include the refrain "brain dead motherfuckers" at the three-minute mark and is thereby okay by me...

1. Manic Street Preachers - "William's Last Words," (Journal for Plauge Lovers, 2009)
2. Manic Street Preachers - "Some Kind of Nothingness" (demo), (Postcards from a Young Man Deluxe Edition, 2010)
3. Nicky Wire - "Casual/Glam," (single b-side, "Break My Heart Slowly," 2006)
4. Nicky Wire - "Daydreamer Eyes," (free download, 2006)
5. Manic Street Preachers - "Ballad of the Bangkok Novotel," (single b-side, "Found That Soul," 2001)
6. Manic Street Preachers - "Lady Lazarus," (single b-side, "Indian Summer," 2007)
7. Nicky Wire - "Break My Heart Slowly," (I Killed the Zeitgeist, 2006)
8. Manic Street Preachers - "The Future Has Been Here 4 Ever," (Postcards from a Young Man, 2010)
9. Manic Street Preachers - "Miss Europa Disco Dancer," (Know Your Enemy, 2001)
10. Manic Street Preachers - "Failure Bound," (single b-side, "Empty Souls," 2005)

19 January 2012

OFFEND IN EVERY WAY

Honestly, I don't know which is worse, that they're claiming this was "the top performing concept across all consumer segments," or that Warner Bros. laid out a ridiculous sum of money for these abysmally dopey things.

And the Watchmen variation really should serve as notice to the entire creative community in this business.

18 January 2012

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Marion Cotillard

FALLING AND LAUGHING

Often, logos are redesigned when there's really no need.

Really wretched examples that come to mind include Denny's, Burger King and Baskin Robbins.

DC Comics isn't a skeevy chain restaurant, but boy, does this abortion of a logo ever take the cake. Or, as Image Production Manager Tyler Shainline quipped on Twitter yesterday: 

"If I keep peeling, do I find a good logo underneath?" 

There are a lot of things DC Comics could improve upon. Their logo should really be amongst the least of their concerns.

17 January 2012

SWEET CATATONIA

Ah, Cerys Matthews.

I'll take her over 10 Katy Perrys or Adeles any day.

Were the late '90s really over 10 years ago?








MEANWHILE





SCREAM THY LAST SCREAM

Everyone seems very upset here, but this image really just leaves me speechless...

15 January 2012

AROUND THE DIAL


I haven't listened to the radio regularly since the early '90s, and I often found doing so back then to be a frustrating experience, but these days, it's downright mind-numbing.

When I was visiting my family in Kentucky over the holidays, we spent a lot of time going places in the car, and that invariably meant listening to the radio. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve riding in the car with my family, hearing great song after great song. A particularly vivid image comes to mind of driving cross country from Washington to Kentucky with my Dad, watching the moonlit landscape of Middle America glide past as I heard songs like Bowie's "Space Oddity" or ELO's "Can't Get It Out of My Head" for the first time. My Dad has satellite radio these days – Sirius XM, I believe – in his car, and I figured that would be great. 

Wow, was I ever wrong.

Even though the stations my Dad favored – "Classic Vinyl" and "Deep Cuts" got the most air time – seemed geared toward my abiding love of all things '60s, they were just unbelievably bland. And not because I didn't like the music – Deep Cuts focuses on "deep classic rock" by the likes of The Beatles, Dylan, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Kinks and The Who, and Classic Vinyl is rather more of the same  – but generally speaking, it was so rigidly the same bloody songs you hear by the same bloody bands, over and over, it almost defied belief. 

I mean, I think "A Day In the Life" is a wonderful song. But it's not the only Beatles song. And The Beatles aren't the only band.

That's an exaggeration, obviously, but listening to these stations over the course of several days, it did occur to me that a blinkered view of the '60s has developed over the last little while. And it's nothing new. The British music magazine Mojo has been cycling through the same acts on its cover for years now, in the exact same way. If you were to go off their cover features and the bands played on various classic rock stations, you'd think there were fewer a dozen bands in the '60s. It's all Beatles/Stones/Dylan/Who/Floyd/Zeppelin, all the time. 

Maybe there's some Credence. Maybe some Neil Young or Bowie. But if it's Neil Young, it's "Old Man" or "Heart of Gold." If it's Bowie, it's more likely to be "Changes" than "Oh! You Pretty Things" or "Life on Mars?" – and those aren't exactly what I'd call hidden gems. It's "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Bad Moon Rising," "Money," "Riders on the Storm," "When the Levee Breaks" and "Sympathy for the Devil" on a never-ending loop, and regardless of the relative merit of any of those songs, I just think it's an unfortunate misrepresentation of the way things were and the actual scope of the music that was being made back then.

Some of that music still sounds as inventive and fresh as it did when it was first released in the '60s and '70s – it seems like a real shame to reduce it all to just the superstars and the hits. So, here's a couple hours worth of great music that strays a bit further off the beaten path when it comes to "classic rock." Not everything here is what the programmers at Sirius XM would you refer to as a "deep cut," but whether they're hits or misses, any one of these tracks would liven up playlists on any number of classic rock stations...

1. Humble Pie - "Bang!," (As Safe as Yesterday Is, 1969)
2. Love - "Singing Cowboy," (Four Sail, 1969)
3. Jim Ford - "Spoonfull," (Harlan County, 1969)
4. The Merry-Go-Round - "You're a Very Lovely Woman," (single a-side, 1967)
5. Big Star - "September Gurls," (Radio City, 1972)
6. Neil Young - "I've Been Waiting for You," (Neil Young, 1969)
7. Nick Drake - "Hazey Jane II," (Bryter Layter, 1970)
8. Gene Clark - "So You Say You've Lost Your Baby," (Gene Clark and the Gosdin Brothers, 1967)
9. Donovan - "Superlungs My Supergirl," (Barabajagal, 1969)
10. Scott Walker - "The Old Man's Back Again," (Scott 4, 1969)
11. The Action - "Brain," (Rolled Gold, 1998 - recorded 1968)
12. Bee Gees - "Red Chair, Fade Away," (Bee Gees' First, 1967)
13. The Rolling Stones - "Monkey Man," (Let It Bleed, 1969)
14. David Bowie - "Conversation Piece," (Space Oddity, 1969)
15. The Pretty Things - "Baron Saturday," (S.F. Sorrow, 1968)
16. The Creation - "How Does It Feel to Feel," (single a-side, 1967)
17. Simon & Garfunkel - "Richard Cory," (Sounds of Silence, 1968)
18. Tintern Abbey - "Vacuum Cleaner," (single b-side, "Beeside," 1967)
19. Brian Auger & The Trinity with Julie Driscoll - "Season of the Witch," (Open, 1968)
20. David Crosby - "Laughing," (If I Could Only Remember My Name, 1971)
21. Steeleye Span - "Copshawholme Fair," (Hark! The Village Wait, 1970)
22. The Zombies - "She Loves the Way They Love Her," (Time of the Zombies, 1974 - recorded 1968)
23. Small Faces - "Song of a Baker," (Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake, 1968)
24. The Move - "Message from the Country," (Message from the Country, 1971)
25. Emitt Rhodes - "You Should Be Ashamed," (Emitt Rhodes, 1970)
26. Fairport Convention - "Meet on the Ledge," (What We Did on Our Holidays, 1969)
27. Rod Stewart - "Man of Constant Sorrow," (An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down, 1969)
28. Faces - "Debris," (A Nod Is as Good as a Wink, to a Blind Horse, 1971)
29. The Who - "Sunrise," (Sell Out, 1967)
30. The Velvet Underground - "Who Loves the Sun," (Loaded, 1970)
31. The Kinks - "Big Sky," (The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, 1968)
32. The Moody Blues - "It's Up to You," (A Question of Balance, 1970)
33. Paul & Linda McCartney - "The Back Seat of My Car," (Ram, 1971)
34. Rodriguez - "Sugar Man," (Cold Fact, 1970)
35. Fleetwood Mac - "Dust," (Bare Trees, 1972)
36. The Beach Boys - "'Til I Die," (Surf's Up, 1971)

ABRAHAM, MARTIN AND JOHN

Written in response to the death of Robert Kennedy in 1968 and originally recorded by Dion, "Abraham, Martin and John" is one of my favorite songs by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. It's lyrics are formed around such a simple sentiment, but at the same time, it's so beautiful and powerful that it still manages to affect me on an emotional level, even after being familiar with it since my teens. One particular line – "Didn't you love the things they stood for?" – gets me each and every time.

And today seems like a good day to post this wonderful video of Smokey Robinson performing the song at the White House...



Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people
But it seems the good, they die young
You know, I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend John?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people
But it seems the good, they die young
I just looked around and he's gone.

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people
But it seems the good, they die young
I just looked around and he's gone.

Didn't you love the things they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?
And we'll be free some day soon
And it's a-gonna be one day...

Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walking up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

14 January 2012

GOD'S FOOTBALLER

New England Patriots - 45. 

Denver Broncos - 10.

Curious how prayer works, innit?

11 January 2012

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Léa Seydoux

10 January 2012

BLACK TREACLE

Who wants more Arctic Monkeys?

Well, good, because here's the video for their latest single, "Black Treacle," from their awesome 2011 LP, Suck It and See.

08 January 2012

HIT PARADE

1. Future of the Left - "Polymers Are Forever," (Polymers Are Forever EP, 2011)
2. Manic Street Preachers  - "The Endless Plain of Fortune," (National Treasures - The Selected Singles, 2011)
3. Lush - "De-Luxe," (Mad Love EP, 1990)
4. Paul Weller - "Around the Lake," (Sonik Kicks, 2012)
5. Bob Dylan - "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?," (single a-side, 1965)
6. Fleetwood Mac - "Sunny Side of Heaven," (Bare Trees, 1972)
7. The The - "Flesh and Bones," (single b-side, "Heartland," 1986)
8. The Who - "Joker James," (Quadraphonenia: The Director's Cut, 2011)
9. Tears For Fears - "Call Me Mellow," (Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, 2004)
10. Echobelly - "Everyone Knows Better," (Lustra, 1997)

JEALOUS OF YOUTH

It's funny how, as we grow old
We cling to the past as we cling to the air
And feel nostalgia for things that were maybe never there

The town where innocence was bullied and flared
The house where desire's first fluids bled

But now the autumn leaves are turning to the color of rust
I'm getting jealous for youth's first yearnings for lust
I wanna live
I wanna live
But I ain't a big enough man to anything other than think

There's a girl I used to know
Who I think still lives 'round here
Up there, on top of that council tower
I was once her man
At the midnight hour
When I was as lusty as a dog
Come moonshine or fog
When our tongues would entwine
Long and slow
When we thought
We'd never let each other go
Oh no?

But now the autumn leaves are turning to the color of rust
I'm getting jealous for youth's first yearnings for lust
I wanna live
I wanna live
But I ain't a big enough man to anything other than think

Yet it's funny how as we grow old
We curse and point our finger at those
Those, those, those
Who made us scared and made us old
Who touched our bodies and bruised our souls
Who have made us scared and made us old
It was those, God
It was those
Who made us scared
And made us old

The autumn leaves are turning to the color of rust
I'm getting jealous for youth's first yearnings for lust
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
But I ain't a big enough man to anything other than think

I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
I wanna live
But I ain't a big enough man to anything other than think

06 January 2012

FLOURESCENT ADOLESCENT

Alex Turner is 26 today.

I was working in comics when I was 26 and had been for a couple years, but I certainly wasn't enjoying the kind of success Turner has had in his early 20s. It's been a bumpy road from Arctic Monkeys's debut in 2006, but the quality of the music speaks for itself. That Turner has crafted four excellent albums with his main band, plus another gem with Last Shadow Puppets and a rather brilliant soundtrack EP last year – all before crossing the threshold from 25 to 26 today, is actually kind of amazing, if you ask me.

The videos are damn fine, too:










04 January 2012

WEDNESDAY GIRL

Emily Blunt

03 January 2012

TOUGHER THAN THE REST

Glory #23 is all ready to go to the printer, and I have to say: It's excellent. 

Writer Joe Keatinge and artist Ross Campbell have done a masterful job, not just in taking over a moribund character from the '90s and making her work, but in drawing me in right from the get go. Considering it's my job to shepherd Glory along through the creative process – just as it was when I worked at Extreme Studios way back when – that's no mean feat, really, but here I am, excited to see how things unfold in the next issue. And more to the point, as excited as I would be if I had no involvement in this book whatsoever. It's a good comic book, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to see it. 

There's been some talk about how women are portrayed in superhero comics over the past few months. Well, that's putting it lightly, actually: It's an ongoing discussion in a genre where scantily clad little runway model types are meant to be viewed as super-powered warrior women. There are numerous comics where female superheroes preen and pose and both dress and act in ways counterintuitive to superheroing, no matter how imaginary that particularly endeavor may be.

But Glory is different. 

If you're at all familiar with Ross Campbell's work – on Wet Moon, on Shadoweyes – you probably know already that he's not interested in just going along to get along. He draws people, and women in particular, his own way, celebrating their differences instead of making them all conform to a single standard. Glory's meant to be a warrior princess. She looks the part, and thanks to Joe's script, she behaves the part, too. Best of all, three of the main characters in Glory are women, and they're completely unique. It's going to be fun getting to know them and seeing where this story takes them.

Here's a small taste:


02 January 2012

01 January 2012

SOON

Stephen Duffy had a tendency to post some really nice photos on his blog, so thelilactime.com is always worth checking out, but I was particularly excited by this:

SOWING THE SEEDS OF LOVE

Happy 2012.


High time we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man
And the love train rides from coast to coast
DJ's the man we love the most
Could you be, could you be squeaky clean
And smash every hope of democracy
As the headline says you're free to choose
There's egg on your face and mud on your shoes
One of these days they're gonna call it the blues, yeah, yeah

Sowing the seeds of love
Anything is possible when you're sowing the seeds of love
Sowing the seeds of love
Anything is possible sowing the seeds of love

I spy tears in their eyes as they look to the skies for some kind of divine intervention
Food goes to waste
So nice to eat, so nice to taste
Politician granny with your high ideals
Have you no idea who the majority feels
So without love and a promised land
We're fools the rules of a government plan
Kick out the Style, bring back the Jam

Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds

Sowing the seeds
The birds and the bees
My girlfriend and me
In love

Feel the pain, talk about it
If you're a worried man, then shout about it
Open hearts, feel about it
Open minds, think about it
Everyone, read about it
Everyone, scream about it
Everyone, everyone
Read about it, read about it
Read it in the books
In the crannies and the nooks
There are books to read.

Sowing the seeds of love, we're sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, we're sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love

(Mr. England sowing the seeds of love)

Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes
Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes

High time we made a stand and shook up the view of the common man
The love train rides from coast to coast
Every minute of every hour
"I Love a Sunflower"
And I believe
In love power
Love power
Love power

Sowing the seeds of love, the seeds of love, sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, the seeds of love, sowing the seeds

Sowing the seeds
An end to need
And the politics of greed
With love