Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Thank god, I´m still wearing a pullover to work. It was freezing today not to mention the constant rain. Yes, you just have to love Germany in the spring. For the last three days it has been getting colder and colder and there has even been some snow in parts of Germany.

Last Saturday I was at the Stuttgart comic fair and it was better attended then I thought. Since I came prepared this time I managed to get a good swag of comics. I found SENTRY 4, SHE HULK 100, SOLO 7 Mike Allred, WHAT IF THOR ( by Robert Kirkman and Michael Avon Oeming ), SPIDER-MAN & FRIENDS ( Marvel Team Up 1 - 10 ), Marvel Exclusiv 49 ( Daredevil 38 - 45 ), Marvel Exclusiv 57 ( Daredevil 56 - 60 ), SOLAR 7,14,15, 21 - 25, 29, Archer & Armstrong 14, 16, 20, 21, 23, Shadowman 17, 18, 20, 21, Eternal Warrior 7, 11, 14 - 16, Magnus Robot Fighter 30 ( X - O Manowar ), X - O manowar 2, 10, Shaman´s Tears 11, 12, New Teen Titans 37 & Batman and the Outsiders 5 ( crossover ), What if 15 ( Greg Capullo ),19 ( Ron Wilson ), Justice League Task Force 7, DEMON 28, 29, Moon Knight Fist of Khonshu 1 - 6, HULK annual 13, Batman & Robin adventures 3, Batman adventures 10, 17. Except the first four comics I got the single issues for one EURO each and the trades with at least five EUROS discount each. Here in Germany most comic shops don´t have 50 cent bins so the only way to get cheap comics are at comic fairs or comic conventions and such.

Of course when you take a list with all the series you usually find at such events you start finding comics that are not on the list. Like the ROM issues. There were some MOON KNIGHT issues of the regular series I came across but since there were huge gaps between issues I decided that it´s a better investment to get the newly released ESSENTIAL MOON KNIGHT. But I bought the first six issue of the MOON KNIGHT - Fist of Khonshu series ( which apperently was all that ever came out from this series ). The name of the art team Chris Warner and E. R. Cruz doesn´t ring a bell but from the first impression it looks like the art of that independent comic CAPTAIN BOLT & BLUE THUNDER or whatever the name was. Sadly the art team changes after issue three which may be the cause the series got cancelled or a result thereof. Reading the comic I realized how important the captions are for a comic and how much atmosphere you can build with it. Especially if you read it right before the MARVEL TEAM UP issues. You get the impression that with the first one you are reading something more like a book while the last one is more like a longer cartoon strip. Somehow it´s kind of strange that there are comic companies who claim that the story is very important to them yet they have no captions. Really confusing that in times when most people state to read comics more for the story then for the art the same reader find captions and thought ballons too " comic booky ". They make the argument that people in comics speak differently than people in real life. That is right. Because the persons in comics are only there to get some information to the reader. In a theater play the actors only purpose is to play their parts and to speak their lines. And some roles are only written to get certain information to the audience.

In real life there are no such people. In real life there are a lot of people who talk for hours without getting you any useful information and in real life that´s okay. But in a comic you have a limited amount of space and time. So you have to edit what people say and more importantly you have to edit the people appearing in your comic. You can´t have six billion people in your comic. On twenty six pages. Unless you are Geoff Darrow.

No you have to leave only the people in the book that play a part in the story. Or that get some information to the reader. Because if they don´t have anything useful to do they just belong in the background or they don´t belong in your comic at all. I know that´s harsh but that´s the comic biz. You either have something to give to the reader or it´s " Hello, comic limbo. " for you. Just ask THE QUESTION.

But that are just some random comments and not what I really wanted to write about. No, my main topic are the translations of american comics in Germany and this one guy in particular. But instead of just writing about it I thought it would be best to show it with an example. Because as I stated in the header of this blog I´m writing about the translated versions of comics and that is why you are reading my blog. It may be old news to german comic readers but I think american readers might find it interesting what is done to their beloved comics here in Germany. We lost the war but we can still get our revenge on these verdammte amerikanische komik books, Schweinehund ! Case in point : HELDENSPECIAL - Glaubenskrieg from PANINI. It collects the storyline STAND OFF that ran through THOR 58, IRON MAN 64 and AVENGERS 63. Although I already have all the issues in the original my brother thought it would be nice to have a copy for himself to read. And it was at a really cheap price so it would be a bargain, right ? WRONG ! He forgot who translates most Avengers stories to german and altough he keeps reminding himself that he only bought it for the art he can´t help but feel ripped off. What is especially puzzling for me is that in a land like Germany where 90 percent of comic readers think that the stories are more important than the art nobody thinks that the quality of the translation is very important for the enjoyment of a comic.

Now, to understand why the translation is so bad you have to know that the translator has an uncanny ability to get rid of all key dialogue and important sentences. So we will analyze the original version and the translation via a technique I call the RETRANSLATOR. The retranslator functions with the same principle of mathematics that say that both sides of an equation must be the same. If 3 + 4 equals 7 than you should be able to get 4 if you substract 3 from 7. Now that sounds complicated but with a good translation you should be able to find out what was said in the original. It´s easier to show than to explain so we should get started.

On the first page we get what I call " compressed translation " which means that 50 % of the original text gets cut. Don´t know why you can´t use a smaller font but so the original text

" Sadly, there are places where man cannot aspire to the higher ideals of the gods, for he´s too consumed with simple survival. These are places of poverty and desperation, where the precious few who hold power use it to brutalize the weak. Such a place is Slokovia. "

reads in german like this :

" Es gibt Länder, wo die Ideale der Götter wenig gelten. Man ist dort zu beschäftigt damit, zu überleben. Es gibt Länder, wo die Menschen arm sind und verzweifelt. Wo wenige Mächtige das Volk unterdrücken. Länder wie Slokovia. "

Now let´s turn on the retranslator and see what remained from the original text.

" There are countries where the ideals of the gods have little meaning. Man is too busy with survival. There are countries where people are poor and desperate. Where few powerful opress the populace. Countries like Slokovia. "

Not only was the original text shortened but the word " places " was replaced with the word " countries " for no apparent reason. But that happens throughout the whole book so instead I want to concentrate on the key phrases of the comic. You know, that few lines that are forever engraved in your memory and pop up each time you think of the story.On page 8 Thor´s words

" Those mortals died with my name on their lips. "

are changed to

" Beim Gebet hat man sie getötet. "

which put through the retranslator reads :

" They were killed while praying. "

Now the original sentence gives the reason why Thor gets involved. The mortals died praying to him and he as a god couldn´t prevent their death. Their faith to him could not save them - but at least he can avenge them. The translated sentence gives no explanation to why Thor gets involved. They were killed while praying but that happens to a lot of people on earth ? Why are they so special ? Nowhere there is a mention that they were praying to him. Now, one might argue that the reader can get to this conclusion alone. That is possible but then he doesn´t need to read the comic. And secondly that decision is up to the writer and not the translator. What adds insult to injury is that the next sentence

" Such disregard for life is never to be tolerated. "

is reduced to

" Das darf nicht sein. "

which through the retranslator reads as

" This must not be. "

Which has little ( if not nothing ) to do with Thor´s original words.

Now on the next page Thors original text is :

" ´Tis clear an evil regime exists there which abuses and tortures its people. The burning flame of human rights and freedom has been extinguished amid such terror. The honor of Thor demands action ! Slokovian suffering demans justice ! Let their leaders be warned ! "

If we put the german translation

" Die Herrscher dort missachten die Rechte des Volkes. Freiheit und sterbliches Leben werden mit Füssen getreten. Also muss Thor handeln. Die Führer von Slokovia mögen sich vorsehen. "

through the retranslator we get the following result.

" The leaders there disregard its peoples rights. They trample on freedom and mortal life. Thus must Thor act. The leaders of Slokovia should beware. "

Now this does not only read entirely different then the original version you also loose most of the atmosphere and drama. No evil regime that abuses and tortures its people, no burning flame that got extinguished amid such horror and not even the slokovian suffering demands justice anymore. Not to mention that the honor of Thor no longer demands action. It´s like reading two different books.

Next strange point is in the conversation between Iron Man and Dr. Doom. The sentence

" He´ll turn this planet to ash. "

was replaced by

" Das ist verhängnisvoll. "


" That is disastrous. "

Well, I don´t know what you think about this but for me there is a difference between doing something disastrous and turning a whole planet to ash. A small difference but still a difference.

Okay, now we come to part two of the story and it only gets worse from here. On the first page the conversation between Thor and Iron Man

" Thor! You can´t do this ! " - " Shall I ignore the cries of those who are opressed in my name ? "

is changed to

" Thor ! Hör auf damit ! " - " " Sterbliche in grosse Not erflehen meinen Beistand. " .

Put through our retranslator we come up with :

" Thor ! Stop it ! " - " Mortals in great misery implore my aid. "

Well, I as a reader feel cheated. It´s not the same to tell somebody he can´t do something and to tell him to stop something. It´s not the same when some people are opressed in Thor´s name and when mortals implore his aid. The first one involves him much more then the second one.

But that´s all peanuts to the next translations. Was the translator taking a few liberties so far ( and that´s the understatement of the year ) so this is the part where he finally says goodbye to the original script and just writes his own story. The pivotal sentences of Thor

" So this is your " line in the sand ? " Well, this is mine. Cross at your peril ! "


" So weit gehst du also? Thor sagt...Nicht weiter ! "

which translates back to

" That´s how far you go ? Thor says...No further ! "

Okay, what happened here ? Clearly somebody is on an egotrip. The whole analogy with soldiers drawing their lines in the sand just go rright out of the window. That´s just not right.

And it just gets better. Doom´s words

" Thor has fired the opening shot. "

are changed to

" Thor has provoked the world. "

Thor´s text

" Only a fool has no doubts, brave Balder...or a loyal friend. "

get distorted to

" Only a fool has no doubts. Or no friends "

losing the original meaning completely ( which sadly shows that the translator did not understand the original meaning ), Thor´s warning

" Now...know my wrath ! "


" Therefore....tremble ! "


" You sting me with words sharp as steel. "

miracously reads as

" It would be better if you leave, human. ".

We´re almost finished but there are a few grave mistranslations left in the last part. Here we witness how

" You dare to power your armor with the gift of gods ? The might you stole is yours no longer ! "

is translated to

" You dare to play god with your armor ? That I can never allow. "

Doom´s comment

" I do love a good wine. And a good war. "


" Perfect. Red blood. ".

?????? I´m just totally confused. I haven´t even the foggiest where this one came from. Thor´s words

" Captain. You either stand with me...or not at all ! "

now reads

" For me it´s totally clear, Cap. Friend...or foe ! "." Don´t be an armchair general. "

Now it´s

" Think about it. ".

And for everyone who has ever served in the military it´s absolutely clear that there is a difference between

" Move out ! "


" At ease ! ". Or between

" For I am their GOD ! "


" For my people ! "

I mean it´s apparent that the translater would rather be writing comics himself than translate the work of another writer. So maybe that´s what he should do. One motto I go by is : If you do a job at least do it right. Or with the words of a great philosopher : Do or do not. There is no try.

So now you know why there are so many german comic readers who prefer the original versions to the mutilated, distorted and just wrong versions that appear in Germany. Like I said this is just this one guy who thinks of himself more of a Shakespeare than a hired hand to translate comics to their german version. But it´s not easy to avoid it if he does all the Avengers ( and spin offs like Thor ) and most of the Fantastic Four comics here. I know it has gotten kind of long but I just wanted to illustrate my point for all those people on comic forums telling me that I´m exaggerating and that normal readers won´t know the difference. Sorry, in my experience that just doesn´t make it right. If you don´t care about your readers and just want to get the quick cash - that´s when you tell yourself : They won´t know the difference. Either do your job right or let somebody more qualified do it. And if a publisher doesn´t want to invest the money for good work that is up to him. But don´t come to me and bitch that your sales are dropping and readers buy the original. Because readers are not stupid and some of us know the original version. You can´t expect readers to buy the german version if it is not only more expensive but it additionally lacks quality.

So that was my kind of rant about the german translations. Which for the most part are pretty good. But when they are bad - man, they really suck !

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Thursday, May 25, 2006


So you might ask yourself where the hell are the german comics ? Isn´t this guy in Germany reading any german comics ? Aren´t there any german comics to write about ?

There are not a lot of german comics I read and only a few that I follow in the german translation. That´s on one side because a lot of series that interest me are not translated to german but on the other side because some of the translations are not so good. And I have always said : never pay for something you could have done better. If you are a german comic reader you probably know whose name to look for. I have to say I never looked who made the translation but after the awful translations of Brian Azzarello´s BANNER and CAGE there was a name that came up more often. Since it was the same name in the Avengers issue where Cap got censored and the mutilation of the ULTIMATES I started to keep an eye out for it. Even if it meant to get many series in the original when I learned that most of the Avenger and Thor comics were translated by him ( no, I won´t mention the name, if you read comics in Germany you know who it is......if you don´t read comics in Germany you don´t have to know ). So one of the reason why I don´t read much comics in the german translation is the bad translation. But don´t get me wrong, not all german translations are bad - I would even say most are really good. If you can avoid this one guy you are with a 90 % certainity good.

The other problem with buying the translated comics in Germany is that they are usually more expensive than the original. What in my opinion is mainly because the german comic market is a collectors market and not a readers market. I know what you are saying : that´s just my opinion. But I have made the observation that in Spain where it´s a readers market and not a collector market they have lower prices than here in Germany. Now that PANINI is publishing a lot of comics there the prices are sure to rise but for the moment they are lower than in Germany. And in some cases lower than in the USA. Concerning some comics the spanish version is better than the original and especially hardcovers have a really low price. No, the german comic market is clearly a collectors market which you can easily see by the fact that there are no comics along MARVEL´S ESSENTIALS, DC´S SHOWCASE or Panini´s BIBLIOTHECA MARVEL published in Germany. A cheap black and white comic with lots of pages and poor paper quality just has no chance on the german comic market. Here we need the glossy paper and the hard cardboard cover. The only thing that was like this more readerfriendly comics were the comic library editions of BILD and the FAZ , two big german newspapers ( the comics were in color instead of black and white but in a poket book format ) but so far no publisher in Germany has tried to follow the success. Maybe I´m wrong and germans just don´t like to buy their comics at the newsstand because every time I´m in Spain there are at least three special series of cheap comics ( sometimes even in hardcover ) to buy at the newsstand like UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN, the best Batman Stories with Ra´s al Ghul or the best Batman stories of all times. So some books are published in Spain sooner then in Germany and since they are usually also cheaper I don´t have to wait for the german version.

So comics in Germany are more expensive. And sometimes that is because they pack too much content into one book. Somebody on the internet coined the phrase of the satisfying chunk which means that readers like to buy big trades if they get a nice chunk of comic to read all at once. It is sometimes not as cheap but well worth the price. So I would say what german comic readers get is the overload chunk. The argument is that when those so-called MONSTERS are published it is cheaper and the readers only pays 2 EURO per issue or less. That´s all good and fine but if the comic costs 20 bucks or more that is just too much for most comic readers even if they get 10 or 14 issues. They only have a limited amount of money and they are not going to save their money for three months to buy one book. If they have 5 bucks to spend they only have 5 bucks and when in doubt they will spend it on a manga. I don´t know if it would not cost more money to print comics with less pages but I know that more comics would be sold if it was possible to sell half the comic for half the price. At 10 bucks per comic it would sell far better.

Anyway, the other problem with comics in Germany ( still speaking about the translated versions ) there are almost no single issues sold. You can count the series that are sold in the one issue format with the fingers of one hand. So no matter what comic you want to buy you have to - at least - buy another comic with it. Sometimes one, sometimes two, three or four issues. Sometimes from the same series and sometimes from other series. And that is a problem especially if you want to read the X-Men for instance because all X-Men series are published in the same series ( with a few exceptions in the last months which hopefully is a new trend ) and not all series have the same quality level. If you only want to read Joss Whedon´s Astonishing X-Men you also have to pay for Peter Milligan´s mutant stories or those of Chris Claremont. Although they have now begun to publish trades that only include the Astonishing issues. But you have to wait very long and it´s not as cheap as the original trade. So in Germany you can´t always choose between single issues or the trade. For the most part you have comics that are neither fish nor flesh.

Another reason why I haven´t mentioned german comics in my blog so far is that next month the big german comic convention takes place in Erlangen. Which means for me that two or three months before that I stop buying german comics. Because you usually get the comics there cheaper or you want to have a signature or a sketch in the comic. And who has the money to buy a comic twice ? And some german comics are just too difficult to find and the best place where you can get them is at conventions. So you can read all about the best the german comic market has to offer after ERLANGEN.

Now we come to the german comics I have read, namely ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and ULTIMATE X-MEN. Normally I don´t buy ultimate Spider-Man because it´s on my brother´s pull list but I just wanted to read the annual and I was sick of waiting till my brother decides if he wants to get the issue or not. With the Ultimate X-Men it was that I didn´t want to read the series to begin with. Then I read the german version of the first issue, got the first US trade paperback and started buying the single issues. But over time I somehow lost interest in the series and stopped buying the issues. Then I went from buying the trades to buying the german issues again. Because I wanted to keep reading the series and with a price of 4,25 EURO per comic which includes two issues I can even save a little money. Even if the cardboard cover is a little too heavy for my tastes. At the moment I´m undecided in which format I will continue reading the book because I just had to get the MAGNETIC NORTH trade after all the recommendations at ComicGeekSpeak and the internet.

Now to the issues themselves. DER ULTIMATIVE SPIDER-MAN 43 contains the ANNUAL 1 ( and also some short stories from WHAT THE HUH...? and a profile about the Kingpin but that´s just filler ) which is not drawn by Mark Bagley. Therefore the art is a little weird but the story was worth it in my opinion. The annual tells the first date of Peter Parker and Kitty Pride, the first step of an interesting relationship that clearly shows that the ultimate line does not simply retell the old 616 universe stories but tries to have it´s own identity.

DIE ULTIMATIVEN X-MEN 32 contains issue 60 which fills the gap I had and is the finale of the big showdown between Storm and Lady Deathstrike who in the ultimate universe share history together ( instead of Logan and Lady Deathstrike ). Like it is often the case when two characters from the 616 universe got melded into one. For this new version the writer used Yukiko and the Lady Deathstrike. Issue 61 which is the first issue of magnetic north and while I already had it I didn´t hestitate for one moment to buy the issue. I may even buy all the issues again in the german translation which mostly depends if my older brother wants to read the storyline. Because his english is not so good. Now MAGNETIC NORTH is the stroyline you have to read. Doesn´t matter if it´s in the original, in german, in spanish or even in suaheli - if you never read ultimate x-men before or never will read them again that´s irrelevant. You just have to read it. This is without a doubt the best Brian K. Vaughn has ever written. If you have only a mild interest in the X-Men you can´t pass up on this comic. Trust me. It all begins at Emma Frost´s academy when Polaris in a freak accident kills two policeman. She get´s arrested and placed under S.H.I.E.L.D.s custody but since her powers are magnetic there is only one holding cell that can hold her and it´s presently occupied - by Magneto. At this point begins one of the most multi-layered plans you have ever seen in a comic. That just shows you what happens when someone with the intellect of Magneto is alone in a prison cell playing chess 24 hours a day.

Now as you may have seen by the last post I have finally been infected by the civil war banner illness and after spending a few hours on the internet last night I´m going to include one in each post for as long as civil war lasts. Which in Germany will be an even longer time than in the states.

Now last but not least I wanted to give a shoutout to my two readers at PHIL & LAMOND´S COMIC - KOLUMNE not only because they keep pimping me and they are so far the only website that has a link to my blog but because I have finally downloaded their cool banner. If you are reading comics you just have to check out their site which has hard hitting reviews that are as good as spoiler free. Check them out in the link section.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Okay, this is like the third time I´m trying to write my comments about the new solicitations but I hope I can finally finish it. Up to now there was always something that got in the way and I think I already mentioned twice that you can save 23 bucks. So before it is time for the next solicitations or another thing comes up let´s do it quickly. I don´t have that much to say, as I´m more prone to comment on comics if I have read them so therefore I won´t comment on most series I have on my pull list. By the way, I just wanted to say for all jazz fans there is a new episode of the RedJazz podcast online ( the link is in the sidebar ).

The first thing I want to mention is from DC. BATMAN GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT is resolicitated and if you don´t have a copy of the comic ( or if your copy looks like mine after reading it for the hundreth time ) you should definitely get it. The art by Mike Mignola is just wonderful and the story is one of my favorite Batman elseworld stories alongside HOLY TERROR done by Norm Breyfogle - one of my favorite Bat-artists.

I´m undecided on this item. You can´t go wrong with X-Men by Jim Lee and I would love to have an issue that´s in better condition than the one I have so far. But maybe it´s better to get the trade that includes this issue. It will depend on how it is printed. Definitely have to see this one before I decide.

What is this ? Is this some unfinished project of Jack Kirby or is he being ripped of ? Again this is a book I have to see first before I make a decision. I mean you buy the Jack Kirby comics for the Jack Kirby art but if the art is done by someone else I want to see it first. And of course it depends on the fact if Jack Kirby´s family gets any of the money.

Done ! It´s already on the list. I don´t even have to think about it. This is the second Batman miniseries by Matt Wagner after Batman and the Monster Men and I just can´t wait to get my hands on this. Matt Wagner is really working on a new Batman opus within the Batman history with BATMAN AND THE MAD MONK.

The covers to Robin just get stranger and stranger. While the last one looked like there would be a showdown between Robin and the new Captain Boomerang this cover seems to imply that they need to team up. If only to fight a common enemy. I will have to see if I can find any issues on the comic fair in Stuttgart on Saturday. Maybe it´s time for Robin to join the pull list again.

Since GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH the only other series I read was GREEN LANTERN but that was mostly for the artwork by Carlos Pacheco. But this cover intrigues me. Who´s the bad guy ? How long will it take for Guy to whup his ass ? And who´s the hot chick ? Have to check it out if only because of the chick. Hey, I´m a guy. What can I say : a hot chick in a comic never hurts especially if she has little clothing.

Now comes the part all of you have been waiting for and the real reasons you are even reading all this stuff. How can you save 23 bucks ? That´s easy : just buy the SAVAGE DRAGON 0 issue for 1.95 $. This comic contains the origin story from the IMAGE ANNIVERSARY HARDCOVER I already wrote about ( in the post called COMICS NOT WORTH THE MONEY ) and it is the only of the stories you need. No really. You can skip the rest of the stories. I just whish I knew this before I spend 25 bucks on the hardcover. But at least now you can save some money and learn the Dragon´s never before revealed origin. And believe me : it will not be what you expect.

So now you have 23 bucks of extra cash on your hands. How about spending it on the new POWERGIRL BUST ( and then some !!! ) from DC ? You can only pay for half of it with the money but that´s better then nothing. This statue is done after a drawing from Adam Hughes and it depicts Power Girl in all her glory. I know it says mini bust in the solicitations but it´s just not physically possible to have the words " Power Girl " and " mini bust " in the same sentence. If I only get one statue in all my life this will be it. I better stop now before I start drooling.

Whew, that´s the end of this post. I hope it was entertaining for you and you didn´t already buy the Image hardcover. I hope to post more in the next few days since tomorrow is a holiday in Germany and the museum stays closed for the rest of the week.

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  • Monday, May 22, 2006


    In this weeks column of ONE FAN`S OPINION Erik Larsen writes about how more and more writers don´t want to use sound effects in comics because they are too comic booky. He makes a very good point that there is no sense to it.

    The same people who argue that it is unrealistic to have a character say : " Oh no, the DARK SCREAMER has deflected my power blasts with his zero gravity nullifier. I have to come up with a different way to defeat him before my hour of power is up and I´m mild mannered reporter Wimp Lame again. " because that doesn´t happen in the real world and just there to transport information to the readers the artist couldn´t bring across otherwise.....the same people think it´s a good idea to let people say : " Oh, the phone is ringing. I wonder who it could be. " or " There is someone at the door. I better open it. " just to avoid sound effects.

    Well, let me tell you something : that´s also unrealistic and doesn´t happen in the real world. I never feel the need to announce the sounds around me I hear to nobody in particular. Another aspect is that sound effects are also a form of visual expression in comics and for me comics are just not comics without them. I don´t think walter Simonson´s Thor comics would be as impressive without the mindboggling sound effects.

    There is this new trend of writers trying to get rid of all the things ( I´m not talking about Dan Slott´s series THE THING which you should be buying by the way - I want to read the big poker tournament issue ) that make comics unique and more like movies. Things like captions, thought balloons, footnotes and now sound effects. I don´t think it´s a good idea to get rid of the things that make comics unique. It´s right that sometimes artists don´t know how to use them properly and the results are mediocre comics. But in the hands of a real comic virtuoso they can be used to enhance the comic to new levels of literacy.

    That they are not used very good by some people is not a good argument to get rid of them altogether. I mean there are a lot of people who are bad, yes, downright awful drivers but nevertheless nobody would get the idea to say : let´s get rid of cars. Or to bring a comic book example : you don´t have to use every X-Man in every issue of the UNCANNY X-MEN. If you don´t like Gambit ( which by the way is your duty unless you are an evil robot drone from dimension X......hhmmm, have to write this one up as a possible comic title ) you don´t have to use him in every issue. You don´t have to use him at all ! You can just say that he got his foot stuck in the cellar and leave it at that. But it´s a bit extreme to say all other writers should do the same ( as much as I wish that would be true ).

    I just don´t understand why an artist would limit himself in a medium that is limited to begin with. There is no real movement in comics, there is no real sound in comics but do you have to deny yourself the few tools you have ? People say it is strange that people in comics have long winded dialogues in panels that take place in a few seconds. And that such a thing does not happen in movies. That´s right - because it can´t.

    If Hollywood was able to pull this off they surely would do it. If there was a chance to get long winded dialogues into something that happens in mere seconds Hollywood would jump onto it. When you are writing comics you should not impose the limitations other mediums have. You have enough limitations in the medium you are working with you don´t need to add to them.

    When writing a movie writers sometimes try to use thought ballons or captions. Don´t believe me ? Have you ever seen an episode of MAGNUM P.I. ? Throughout the whole episode the main character is talking to himself and we the viewers can hear this. It is called " inner monologue " and the movie version of thought balloons or captions. So while the comics themselves are trying to get rid of them other mediums like movies try unsuccessfully to copy them. Gives you something to think about doesn´t it ?

    Another thing that bothers me about this whole debate is that in an interview I read not so long ago somebody said : if you don´t want to draw background or buildings or cars or normal people without spandex and just like to draw pin up type of pages or splash pages maybe you ought to think about it if you really want to draw comics. If all you want to draw are covers and pin ups you can be a good artist but you don´t really want to be a comic book artist. Which doesn´t mean that you are not a good artist. You just are not a comic book artist. Because being a comic book artist means that at 80 % of the time you will have to draw things you don´t like.

    And if you don´t want to use captions, thought ballons, footnotes or sound effects maybe you don´t really want to write comics. If you are always bitching that the pictures in comics don´t move and that comics ought to be written more like movies maybe in reality you want to write movies. And if you don´t want to use all the mentioned things why don´t you also get rid of such unnecessary things like speed lines and panels and speech ballons. Just text and pictures. Which people call a picture book. Or why not go all the way, forget about those pesky pictures. But then you are not writing a comic then you are writing a book.

    So while I´m all for comic artists using what they think works for them I´m against this comic writing style mafia that tries to get rid of most important instruments of an artist. Don´t try to impose your belief system concerning comics onto others. Can´t we all try to make comics like they should be ? Instead of talking about how outdated things are because we are ashamed of making comics we should think about how to use it in a modern and contemporary fashion that shows how proud we are. I for once stopped hiding in the cellar because I read and love comics when I was 25. How old will you be before you are willing to take this step ? Life is short.

    Anyway, what I wanted to say is I am hoping for a trend that tries to bring comics to new greatness not belittle them. A trend that draws from comics rich history and it´s rich inventory instead of ignoring it. Like Grant Morrison´s ALL STAR SUPERMAN. I have been reading comics for a long time now and there are some things that we could use in comics today. Wouldn´t it be neat if you hadn´t to use the internet because you have read a comic and want to know when Superman and Batman encountered the crimson menace the first time ?

    If there would be a caption in the same issue you read that gives you that information ? I don´t know how many threads there are on internet forums which only resolve about such themes and how easily they could be redundant by simply including footnotes. Or letters pages. Some people say that letters pages are outdated and that internet message boards are far better and much faster. Yes, that is right - unless the message board crashes or all the old threads are deleted to make way for new topics. Hundreds of hours worth of time and effort gone forever. And it also takes a lot of time to sift through all the postings that are boring, or insulting or just plain stupid.

    I like letters pages. Not only because a person with good taste selects the letters that get printed and saves you of hundreds of mails sayin : " You suck, you hack. Bring back character x or else. " I always enjoyed to read the explanations some people gave about things I didn´t know or the things that were pointed out that I had overlooked. For me as a comic reader in Germany who only got some issues with huge gaps between them in the beginnig of my comic reading days the letters page was always a good way to find out out what had happened in prior issues. There is just no replacement for the big discussions that made me think and sometimes reevaluate my attitude or belief about some things. I like the poems or pictures other readers send in and the sheer enthusiasm of some people. And everyone who ever got his letter printed knows that it is a special thing to have his own words saved for eternity. I can read a comic that is a decade old and maybe I can find a letter by some of my favorite comic writers when they were just comic fans like me. That is something that is lost by todays techno dependency.

    Initially I wanted to write about the new solicitations and how you can save 23 bucks but I just had to write down my thoughts on this. So it is okay to use sound effects in comics. Or captions or foot notes or thought ballons. It´s all in the way you use them. So be bold and don´t let anyone put limitations on you. Making a comic book is like using the Green Lantern ring : the only limitation should be your imagination.

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    Saturday, May 20, 2006


    Yes, the countdown has already started for comicfans in Germany. It´s 7 days till the comic fair in Stuttgart and 26 days till the international comic convention in Erlangen also known as UNCIVIL WAR.

    Which means just infinite comics for me to read for the rest of the year. The comic fair in Stuttgart is a good place to get cheap comics and fill the gaps in your collection. Initially I wanted to wait till next week before visiting my comic shop again. But then I thought it might not be the best idea to have to pay a lot of money for my subscription on the week of the comic fair. Another reason to go to the show in Stuttgart is that there are two or three dealers who will also be in Erlangen and I can go through their comic before Erlangen. So there are less tables I have to go through in Erlangen. I don´t know if there will be a lot of people, last time there were a few more people but this time there could be all the people from Stuttgart who won´t go to Erlangen because of the soccer world championship.

    Nobody knows what will be happening in Erlangen. If there will be many people that´s good for the convention. If there will not be a lot of people the place will not be so crowded - which is good for me because than I can maybe get more of a discount. So either way is good. The only thing that bugs me is that the salon del comic in Barcelona is on the weekend before Erlangen and I don´t think I will get a ticket to go. Every year I try to get there and every year I fail. Last year there was no comic convention in Erlangen because it is only every two years but true to form I somehow managed to go to Spain on the exact time after the comic salon of Barcelona and right before the manga convention.

    Tomorrow I will be working for a few hours at the museum, not like Friday when I had to work till 15.00 hours. The photographer for the catalogue was there so we were bringing the paintings up and unpacking them. All the while handling them really carefully because some of them are worth about 40.000 EUROS or more. So after a long day at work I went to the comic shop to relax and get new comics. Because this week I had no new comics to read and had to resort to other material.

    The first thing I read was MONOGRAFICOS DOLMEN - ARTHUR ADAMS. DOLMEN is a well known comic magazine in Spain that is published in a small format ( I think a little smaller than regular US comic size ). In the beginning it was all black and white but in newer editions there are color pages included. If you ever are in a comic shop in Spain get the newest copy. This is always a good read, they sometimes have news earlier than Wizard and the spanish comic readers take shit from nobody. They don´t candycoat anything and the letters pages alone are worth the price.

    But I will get an indepth analysis of DOLMEN when one of my brothers has been in Spain and I can review a recent issue. Now the monograficos dolmen line is a line of specials like the MODERN MASTERS books of TwoMorrows Publishing which focus on a specific artist with lots of interviews and lots of art - which is the next best thing to reading comics. The first issues had Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, Alan Davis and a John Byrne issue I am saving for when the John Byrne issue of modern masters comes out. Because I like to read all the books about the same artist in continuation. It always reminds me why I fell in love with comics and I´m reminded of all the cool comics done by one particular artist. In the case of Arthur Adams it sadly reminds me that there is not so much stuff coming out from him. The book is in the normal album size ( which is called magazine sized in america ? ) and has 100 pages of glossy, thick paper 16 pages in full color for the price of 6,50 EUROS.

    Now two weeks ago I was going to my old comics to update my comiclist for Stuttgart and Erlangen. At the first two times I was in Erlangen I had a list and was just looking for the comics but through the years the were less and lesser comics left on the list and I concentrated on other things. But last time there were some occasions were I was going through a 50 cent box and had no idea which comics I had read and which were missing from my collection. So this year I decided to make a list so I know when I have the chance to close a gap in the collection. As I was updating the list I had to pull out all the comics bending myself like a chinese acrobat because my older brother somehow always manages to get three or more tables between me and where I stash my comics. And of course if you can´t reach the place where the comics were originally when you put them back you can´t do it right and there are some issues that don´t fit anymore.

    So I had to put some of the comics on my desk where they are waiting till I have a chance to get them in the proper place. Which will be when my older brother goes on vacation and I can move his table collection. Anyway, all the comics which didn´t fit are very special miniseries and I reread already one of them, namely SACHS & VIOLENS by Peter David and George Perez. This miniseries came out in 1993 from epic under the HEAVY HITTERS imprint that had other cool series like MIDNIGHT MEN by Howard Chaykin


  • by Peter Quinones and Ron Lim ( which was one of the more successful series because after the initial 4-issue miniseries there were

  • two more issues
  • ) or THE TROUBLE WITH GIRLS by Will Jacobs, Gerard Jones and Bret Blevins ( artist of SLEEPWALKER another superb series ).

    I know in hindsight the 90s are called the dark age and that most people say there were no good comics during that time. But as a person that was reading comics at the time I can say there were some good comics coming out if you knew where to look.

    Greg Capullo was starting the definite run on QUASAR in January 1991,

    the best GHOST RIDER series ever had just started in May 1990 and in 1991 Arthur Adams did three issues of Fantastic Four with the New Fantastic Four one of the most reprinted trades from Marvel.

    And there were lots of others.

    Now back to SACHS & VIOLENS it was the second team up of Peter David and George Perez after the two issue miniseries HULK : FUTURE IMPERFECT one of the best Hulk stories of all time. Now sometimes I have a problem with Peter David but that´s mostly because I know how good he can be as a writer. I never had any problem to give the man credit when credit is due like on SACHS & VIOLENS. It´s Peter David at his best paired with really detailed art by George Perez who is risking a little more than on other books. If you ever wanted to see full frontal nudity by George Perez this is the book. The story delves into the topics of sex, violence, pornography, murder, snuff movies and white slavery without being exploitative. The two main characters are Ernie Schultz ( nicknamed Violens because of his past as a photographer in Vietnam ) and Juanita Jean Sachs ( or short J. J. Sachs ) who work together as photograph and model. Of course Ernie who is a dead ringer for Ernest Borgnine is madly but secretly in love with J. J. who doesn´t notice his affection for her. This all changes when J. J.´s best friend gets murdered and she goes to avenge her death. Ernie tries to talk her out of it but of course he´s too late to stop her and his only option is to dig up his old battle gear and save her ass. Which finally let´s J. J. see him in a diffferent light. Sadly the series was never continued like other series George Perez worked on like CRIMSON PLAGUE. If you have not read SACHS & VIOLENS check it out you may be able to get it cheap maybe even in the 50 cent bin.

    There are more things I wanted to write about but I don´t want this post to go on too long. Maybe I will find the time to write more tomorrow but I may be watching the rest of the CASE CLOSED episodes of the last three weeks. Today I only got to watch 4 episodes so I have 11 left. So till next time : Imperius Rex !

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