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The Complete Essex County came out this month, too. I got to hold both the hardcover and softcover in my hands at SDCC, and dang is it a beautiful book.

July basically won for the year.

"That won't happen again! That man's in jail!"

Very probably the best line of the year.

"Baby > Cat."

Spoken like a man who clearly has had limited exposure to babies.

"This book is better than you heard it was."

Wow.... I've heard nothing but amazing praise for Pluto, so this is just all kinds of awesome. I just finished reading Tezuka's "Greatest Robot on Earth," so I'm all sorts of pumped for Pluto. I have my copies in my backpack, so I'm going to get to start reading it soon!

And yes, July 09 is one of the best months ever for comic enthusiasts. If only Love & Rockets V 2 or Ganges 3 was coming out this month....

David, the Essex County trilogy is some amazing reading. The second volume in particular was just too cool for school.

Speaking of books that need to come out, I'm really anxious for a collection of The Muppet Show. For those of us not living in a major metropolis like NYC, finding any issues of that series has been impossible. I'm pretty friendly with the guy who runs the comic shop here, but asking him to order something is always a craps shot. I've come to the realization I'm probably not going to read this thing until a collection comes out or I get to be a full time resident of Brooklyn.

Thanks Wednesday Comics, now I know what Douglas Sirk's "Flash" movie would have been like.

AM I the only one who finds Phonogram not just bad but actually ire-raising? It's not a good thing if you think the book would be 100x better if the Punisher came in the front door and shot everyone involved point blank in the face multiple times, is it? Because that's been my reaction to every issue of Phonogram that I've so far read.

I don't think you're alone, no. This is the only one I've read, but from what I've heard, the other issues are quite off-putting. This one has that quality as well, but the overall effect is that it's supposed to, because it's a genuinely accurate depiction of snobby music types. It's actually kind of sweet.

"...Iris driving in silence for eight panels..." - I would buy a whole book of this, I swear. Best Flash.

And Peter SO made the wrong decision when he chose to save Aunt May's life over his marriage with MJ. America really needs to get over their fear of death and grow up. Didn't HBO's "Six Feet Under" teach us anything. (Besides Russian Florists are bad house guests, of course)

I haven't read any of the Singles issues of Phonogram, but I have the original series and I interpreted it as a story about learning how to get over yourself. They're still snobby music types by the end but it's like, there's a REASON they're like this and I got the impression that things were going to be kind of different from now on toward the end.

It's kind of both a celebration and a mockery of that hipster snobbiness, kind of like Metalocalypse is for metal except less blatantly comedic.

I like Phonogram. One of the things I like about it most is that the Punisher won't come shoot anybody in the face. That kind of comic I can get from Marvel, which publishes, what, two a month, or DC, which publishes about five a week under the "Blackest Night" banner.

I also like the art and Gillen's dorkish enthusiasm for music. Since comics are usually a venue for dorkish enthusiasm about comics (Barry Allen is BACK!) (!!!), which is not a mystery to me, it's interesting to be on the outside of that enthusiasm yet able to appreciate what these guys are doing with it.

Gillen seems to want to deal with a slice of life -- the relationships of the kinds of folk who populate this pop music scene -- in an interesting way, and I think he's approaching the stories with more on his mind than cranking out a decent alternative take on magic fantasy semi-realism, for lack of a better term. When I don't like some of the characters, I find it's for the same reasons that I didn't/don't hang out in their milieu in the real world.

Is there a bit of preciousness attached? Maybe so, but moreso than I'd get from watching Dan Didio's tree fort boys club relive the early 80s, or the stereotyped indie creator moan about being broke and not getting laid? Nah. And the art's better.

Hm. If I had any internal editor, I'd have just posted that last paragraph ...

I didn't say I wanted the Punisher to show up because I thought it would make for a more interesting comic, I think it would be good because I want everyone in the comic to die. The thing is, it is a 100% accurate representation of a certain subset of people I know well, partly because I could be mistaken for one on a really bad day. It doesn't draw enough blood: in order to fully encapsulate my utter profound hatred for the kinds of characters on display in Phonogram, they would need to be teleported into the heart of the sun.

I think Phonogram suffers under the same problem that gets ascribed to Pitchfork reviews, which is that you can go full dork fanatic for music in person, but in text, it comes across too solipsistically, like you're sitting in a room wanting to take part in the discussion, but you can't, because you've got your mouth taped shut. And the guy won't shut up about late New Order albums, and he's WRONG, he's so GODDAMN WRONG. People who want to read extravagantly passionate music criticism--or in this case, a comic that's basically a fictionalized version of that culture--want to participate in it.

None of the back and forths I read in Phonogram (mostly in the text stuff) are that different from the type of wack-a-doo conversations one has with one's pals. But presented so baldly, so frankly, it reads a bit ridiculously--because nobody really gives a shit about music criticism anymore unless their own voice, their own point of view, is being included. It's the same thing that motivates any and every blog or writer on anything: nobody thinks they have bad taste.

The solution seems to be that one can dive into the message boards surrounding the issues and debate/discuss this stuff, but that's a whole lot closer to the sort of Standard Attrition/Newsarama type of creator worship than I personally find comfortable.

On the preciousness--i don't know, I think that problem is a whole lot easier to dodge than people want to claim it is. There's nothing precious about Pluto or Grotesque, and both of those are comics that have a hellish amount of baggage and potential for lame-o attached. Pluto's a love letter from a huge fan written under the loose supervision of the creator's family, and Grotesque was published by Fantagraphics.

I like Phonogram, punchable characters and all.

The solopsism Tucker identifies is definitely one of the big themes of the comic, something that's coming across better in the second series than it did in the first, probably because you're not locked to one very vocal protagonist.

So while you're still all taped up and silent, this time there are several conversations battering into your ears instead of just one. Which, actually, doesn't sound like a good thing when you say it like that!

Anyway, with The Singles Club, the big gaps between everyone's perception of the same events are starting to get really obvious and vivid. Which... it's not exactly an original point, but this examination of social solopsism is definitely very on point so far.

Also: 'Atomic!' Fuck yeah.

But then, I'm a pretty punchable wee music geek, so what the fuck do I know? Would my story be improved with the addition of some hot Punisher action?

"Did I die? Reader, I nutted the fucker!"

Phonogram's definitely a bit precious, but as with Umbrella Academy and Casanova I'll forgive that for now because the creators seem to be improving their game at a scary-fast pace.

I've still not read any Pluto. Need to sort that out next time I'm in town...

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