Tom Spurgeon 1968-2019

I didn’t know Tom Spurgeon, a longtime critic and lover of comics who passed
away last week at just 50. We met but once at a convention. I know his work, though, and I know a lot of other people in the comics world who did know him, admire him, care for him.

Tom Spurgeon as drawn by Michael
Netzer © 2001 the artist.

Altered Jean

Poster with heads, busts, and full-body shots of ten X-Men characters at various sizes

I saw Dark Phoenix this summer and, not for the first time, was amazed at how my reaction to a $200 million effects-laden event film with bankable stars reprising popular roles could be “That was it? Eh.”

No spoilers ahead.

Oh Snap

Up now at my website The Comicologist is an article that I wrote on Thanos for the magazine ACE back in 2015.

3 silent panels of successive close-ups on the Infinity Gauntlet worn by Thanos
Panels from The Infinity Gauntlet #1 © 1991 Marvel Comics. Pencils: George Pérez.
Inks: Josef Rubinstein & Tom Christopher. Colors: Christie Scheele & Ian Laughlin.

I’ve posted a version with images and one without, since the former is rather heavy on the graphics. That’s due in part to the article’s length, which in turn is a consequence of the breadth of the character’s publication history — or vice versa. You might want to wait to read it until after you see Avengers: Endgame if you’re not already familiar with the comics, although my guess is that any spoilers pertain more to last year’s Infinity War.

Batton Lash 1953-2019

I’m heartbroken over the loss of Batton Lash.

Batton Lash seated at table in suit holding saucer in one hand and hoisting cup in the other, looking at camera

Bat created the delightful series Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, later known as Supernatural Law. Bat’s wife and collaborator Jackie Estrada announced
his passing in January at 65 after a battle with brain cancer, and Facebook was immediately flooded with tributes. I didn’t share thoughts here at the time for a variety of reasons, but I want to post more in general and this can’t go unsaid. His nattily attired figure was a highlight of any convention; American comics in the ’90s, let alone my personal world of comics, would’ve been much the poorer without him.

Off the Wall

Panel 1: Mooch the cat about to throw a ball as Earl the dog waits excitedly. Panel 2: The ball in the air. Panel 3: Earl and Mooch recoiling in surprise as it bounces off the right panel border with a 'bonk'.

I got a kick out of this Mutts strip from September.

The most amusing part to me is that it doesn’t really break the fourth wall but accomplishes something very like what we think of as breaking the fourth wall by not breaking the panel’s third* wall, surprising the characters — and in turn the reader — by suddenly reneging on the contract that allows panel borders to be drawn in the same ink as lines defining solid objects within a strip’s panels yet be traversable by said objects as portals to the rest of the world being depicted.

[*While I’m not sure the other “walls” have a conventionally accepted numbering, if
you count from the left clockwise in a plane intersecting the flat page or screen (or the proscenium of the stage, from whence the concept originates) — the second/middle wall being the background, parallel to the unseen “fourth wall” through which we view the action — you end up with the left and right walls being the first and third, respectively.]