24 April, 2014

The Bond Legacy

For those wiling to ignore his alcohol-fueled misogyny, one of the longest standing criticisms leveled at James Bond is that he is not a very good secret agent.

Going back for another, huh Jimmie? Not like you're on the clock or anything.

It's certainly evidenced by own often he's captured by the enemy (from whom he then escapes due to their desire to out-do his own incompetence). It's also shown by how many of his comrades just seem to up and die. Or how many times he's been "killed" himself.

Like a lot of things with Bond, I was willing to ignore this for a long time. Nitpicking at plot points and worrying about realism in a James Bond movie is like complaining about how this Nutcracker Suite has simply too many arabesques. It's missing the point and, worse yet, it's the height of tedium. It's a movie. Better yet: It's a Bond movie. Some silly things are going to happen

That all changed when I started reading the books. After finishing Live and Let Die, I realize that it isn't a contrivance of the screenplay or an oversight of the director, it's is as much in James' blood as vodka.

Yeah, here's a guy with his priorities in line.
In Casino Royale, he doesn't kick down the door or save the day. He crashes his car (not due to his alcholism, mind you). He's then tortured, nearly castrated, and then by a Soviet secret agent, who basically lets James Bond live so he can appear in more books. James Bond is saved by his enemy. . . Who he then swears revenge on, because, again, he's probably blacked out and doesn't really remember exactly what went down.

In Live and Let Die this tradition is continued. Bond is, once again, captured by the enemy. They spare him the ball torture this time around in favor or keelhauling him until he's eaten by sharks. This time around there is one further evolution in Bond's dubious heroics, in that he actually does plant a mine on the villain's boat.

Aw, the rummy is all tuckered out!
But then he's saved by a shark. A SHARK.

The world's foremost secret agent and world-renowned pussy hound is saved by the chance happening of a shark arrival (which is described as an excited dog. I don't know. It was the 50's).

Bond doesn't so much uncover plots as he stumbles into them. Knocking them over like so many glasses of wine that he didn't see there. To quote Fleming (and, later on, M), he's a "blunt instrument." All of the bowties and Brioni suits are only there to disguise the fact that he's a wrecking ball. A drunken wrecking ball. There are census takers that are better spies than James Bond. It's probably why Hannibal Lector hates them so much.

James Bond is, was, and always will be a kind of crappy secret agent. I wouldn't have it any other way. . . I mean, barring the return of 1950's racism.

James Kislingbury writes comics and podcasts. You can follow him on twitter.

15 April, 2014

I Done Gone to the Library: A Follow-Up

Like I said: I went to the library.

My reading stack is getting ridiculous. I've got a Hellblazer omnibus, two volumes of Akira, Judenhass (still), and the first Satellite Sam trade. That's just the comics. I'm working my way through the first book of Shadow Claw and after that is Live and Let Die and then God knows how many WWII books after that. I'm just glad that, while at the store today, I realized that I needed another book like I needed a hole in the head (so I only bought the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).

And then Jan's Atomic Heart. And maybe a Parker novel and a George V. Higgins novel, but that's it.

I swear.

Here are the books from the library that I actually managed to read (and finish)--

Lost Dogs-- Jeff Lemire.

I was right. So very right. And I don't want to feel this pain any more.

It hurts so bad and I want to go home, but I'm already there.

On the plus side-- and there is a real plus side-- is that a book like Lost Dogs is proof that whatever project it is that you want to complete, there are people that will meet you half way. Lost Dogs is a rough looking book. Actually, I take that back, Sweet Tooth is a rough looking book. Lost Dogs is primitive. The color scheme is almost non-existent, the character models are. . . "fluid," let's say, and the brush work is downright sloppy. But it works and it's good because it does all come together to tell a story. It doesn't work as a collection of drawings. It does work, though, as a comic book. I really like it.

I like it not only because it's a simple story, well told (in the afterword Lemire goes on about how he failed to write and draw a massive sci-fi epic, which is funny, because I remember reading an Alan Moore interview where that same exact thing happened to him). I also like it because it encourages me to work on my own stories. They don't need to be showy or clever or stand out. They just need to be good. They need to be good in whatever capacity that means.

No matter how rough it is or how much of a bummer it may or may not be or how little of a name you are, there is an audience for your work. People will read it if it's good.

The Infinite Horizon-- Duggan and Noto.

The Infinite Horizon is not very good. Unlike a lot of times when I take a contrarian position, this time, I am legitimately baffled. Befuddled, even. Boggled.

That isn't to say that it isn't useful. The pages are overcrowded with text that seems to fill out what should be in the art. As much as I have liked using that in the past, it isn't until now that I realize just how annoying this is when you aren't the one writing it. When it comes to voice overs not everyone can make Apocalypse Now and when it comes to comics not everyone can be Neil Gaiman.

Having read this and having made my own half-assed diagnosis, I've come to the conclusion that I need to write less and let my artist do his thing. I have this blog if I want to babble on forever.

It's an odd comic overall. It doesn't quite feel like it's in the real world and it doesn't ever commit to being a fable. It's not gritty enough to be a war book and it pulls too much out of real world events to hit on the kind of legendary narrative that Star Wars or, hell, even Kings managed to nail.

I don't know what this is.Worse yet, I don't care enough about the story to ignore this flaw in the storytelling. The Infinite Horizon has received fairly positive reviews and I can't account for that other than these people are clearly sick and need help.

Pray for them, dear reader.

Maybe go read the current run of Black Widow. That's got some real good Phil Noto in it.


A Quality Interruption is officially here. . . Sort of. It's just a place holder, really, to remind you that it exists. And now I'm reminding you that the reminder exists.

You can see my overwritten comics in the anthologies Old College Comics Presents and The Freshman Fifteen. You can buy a meatspace copy of it or a digital version! They're a good value, they're independent, and every issue you buy is one step closer to me getting a check for this thing that's more than fifteen dollars. Isn't that a dream worth helping along?

You can follow me on twitter, too. I guess.

Also, one last thing: Thank you, everyone who reads this. I really appreciate it. I don't get money for this. I don't get kudos. All I get is some odd numbers on the back end of this website. And that's all. And that's quite enough.

09 April, 2014

The Limey: A Play in Three Rhyming Acts

I was going to write an entry on Ground Zeroes and then maybe Tomb Raider or, at least the Bioshock Infinite DLC. Instead I finally watched The Limey. Top notch relevant stuff on this blog and nothing but!

If you had to compare The Limey with a 1960's crime film-- and I think that we do-- It's much more Performance than it is Get Carter. Saying that now I realize that's exactly the kind of revenge movie the guy who made King of the Hill would make. It's soft and it's odd and it isn't quite what I was looking for. And that isn't a bad thing.

Instead of being this drama driven by anger and spite, it instead circles around the idea of a revenge film without ever actually becoming one. It takes this dreamy, scenic route through the margins of Hollywood and Los Angeles, and through the journey of an emotionally unstable man, and, yet, in the end, it ends up in the exact same place as a Death Wish or any other revenge movie (and, thankfully, without the cliche at the end about how violence never solved anything and "dig two graves" and blah blah blah).

There's a shoot out, there's catharsis, there's bloody resolution. In the end there's all the things you want, but they aren't the same because of the jounrey you took to get there.The Limey is a different kind of movie-- and I don't mean from a thriller, I mean from all movies. It's an odd duck, The Limey. It's probably why I'm so tepid on it. I can't be too enthusiastic about it because I'm still not sure what it is.

The one thing it does really well is shoot LA in a way that doesn't look like any other film I can think of. Well, maybe White Dog. There's a lot of LA mountains in both of these movies. Lots of scrub land.

It isn't glitzy and it isn't glamorous and it isn't the usual heap of B-roll of the western end of Melrose or Sunset. It isn't involved with Hollywood. There is nothing on parade for the tourists. Hollywood, though, touches on the fringes of this world. And like downtown LA in the background of Valentine's apartment, it's a hazy place many, many miles away.

You know what's a slightly better Terrance Stamp road/crime movie? The Hit. I don't remember too much about that one, but I do remember it being pretty good. I'd bet money that Steven Soderbergh feels the same way.

As for artsy genre movies and Steven Soderbergh movies go see Haywire. It's got a solid cast, a plot that doesn't get in the way of some serious ass kicking, and seems to embrace its genre far more than The Limey does.

I'm off to watch Le Duexieme Souffle next. It's a Jean-Pierre Melville movie, so it can only be so bad. I've also had Out of Sight sitting on top of my player for about a month, so maybe I'll finally get around to cracking that one. . . Plus I still have to watch Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill!

Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, somebody make a Performance sequel. Set in in the present. Someone get James Fox and Mick Jagger on the phone. Let's hash this thing out while I still think this isn't a terrible fucking idea.



We've got a new episode of White Guys, Square Glasses up. This one is about the caper/high school/cyberpunk/whatever movie Hackers. There's no time better than now to jump on. . . right as we change the name of the show over to A Quality Interruption.

I have comics! My friends have comics! We make comics together! Our two indie anthologies, Old College Comics Presents and The Freshman Fifteen are on sale now in both physical and digital copies. Like my dumb podcast there is no time better than now to buy!

You can also follow me on twitter. You know, hey, because!

03 April, 2014

I Done Gone to the Library

The Pasadena Public Library is a wonder house.

Besides the fact that it's full of wonderful books that you can just go ahead and take, it has a wonderful comic book collection. I first read Watchmen because of that library. And League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Sandman and Preacher and quite a few other wonderful books that I never would have picked up if they hadn't been there just waiting for me.

Libraries are pretty good places, as it turns out, especially for young, vulnerable nerds.

This past week I renewed the tradition and picked up the following books:

Infinite Kung Fu-- Kagan McLeod.

This is a book I've been waiting a long while to read. Like, years. Even when it came out in a TPB (and at a reasonable price), I never got around to actually buying the damn thing. I just looked at it and moved on and eventually forgot about it, which is the way of these things. If I hadn't found it at the library I don't know that I would have ever gotten around to it.

It's about Kung Fu and while I feel that my best Kung Fu loving years are behind me, this should be a good ride. One can always use more Kung Fu treachery in their life. Plus, it's called "Infinite Kung Fu." Who doesn't want to read that? That sounds like exactly what I need right now.

Lost Dogs-- Jeff Lemire.

Any time somebody smiles in a Jeff Lemire comic it seems like it's a set-up for something terrible to happen. And since Lost Dogs is one of his earlier, independent works, I'm fully expecting this to have an emotional palette that ranges from "Being waterboarded" to "Waterboarding your cat."

Not to say that it's going to be bad. I just know that it's probably going to hurt.

I never got around to writing about Sweet Tooth, so I suppose I'll do so here: Sweet Tooth is one of the best books Vertigo has come out with in a long time (or at least since Scalped). While Lemire's art is, um, rough, there is an emotional underbelly to that book that is so delicate that makes me feel like I've been writing wrong this entire time. And that's always a good sign. . .

War's End-- Joe Sacco.

I don't know much about Joe Sacco other than the fact that he tends to do books about war that are non-fiction. Apparently. I'll find out if I'm wrong soon enough.

This particular book is about Bosnia in the 90's, which despite Rick Steves' best efforts, is still not place that makes me think of a good time. Basically what I'm saying is that it'll likely be less merciless than the Jeff Lemire book I picked up.

The Infinite Horizon*-- Gerry Dugan and Philip Noto.

The Infinite Horizon is another book that I've been meaning to read for a long while. Well. Here I am. The library, once again, decided for me.

For those who don't know The Infinite Horizon is the Odyssey told in the modern era with the War on Terror serving in place of the Trojan War. It's a bit high concept for me and I don't have much attachment with the Odyssey outside of that one Wishbone episode, but anything that reminds me of Kings, however tangentially, is always welcome.

Wait. . . Is this title a reference to The Lost Horizon? Oh boy, that doesn't bode well. . .

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair-- Len Wein, Jae Lee, John Higgins, and Steve Rude.

When I heard about this thing, the sudden taste of copper and bad oranges hit the back of my throat. It didn't seem right. When the talent attached to the project was announced and it almost seemed that DC, despite the wishes of the creators, despite good taste, and despite all odds, was trying to do this thing right. It's an especially odd choice when you consider that most alcoholics have less accute cases of self-sabotage than DC Comics.

And, yet, it still seemed wrong. Deeply and bizarrely wrong. I seemed odd that I had to have an opinion about it, to the point at which I had about the same feelings for it as crazy people that I have never met nor care to. It was like somebody was doing fanfic of the Bible. Or slash fiction on the Constitution. And they hired Stephen King to work on it. There's something to be said about leaving some things alone.

Then it came out and nobody cared and went away. That almost seemed like a small mercy. It was one less thing to be outraged about. One less thing to be annoyed about. Plus, since Alan Moore isn't involved in the project (except maybe buying one of the comics to make some sort of a Druidic hex), at least I don't have to worry about there being an obligatory rape.

I'm still curious, though. And I'll be goddamned if I'm going to throw actual money at the actual After Watchmen project. I'm sick, not crazy.


Speaking of comics: I have written some. You can buy them in digital form or in good old analogue. The name of the collections I am featured in are The Freshman Fifteen and Old College Comics Presents. I'm rather proud of them. Everyone at Old College Comics is proud of the work we've done. It might not be the finest or the most polished comic book you'll ever read, but it's independent, it's

I also do a podcast called White Guys, Square Glasses. In this podcast my friend Cruz Flores and I ramble on about a particular movie in each episode. The subject ranges from schlocky camp fests to Japanese action movies to the odd Cold War thriller. It's a good time, through and through. On the latest podcast we reviewed the ridculous voodoo movie The Serpent and the Rainbow.

We're going to be changing the name to A Quality Interruption soon, so don't forget to subscribe to switch over when that happens on the 7th.


*I read The Infinite Horizon. It isn't very good, you guys. You should probably read other things from Duggan and Noto instead.