|Page by John Romita and Stan Lee et al, from Spider-Man #50, 1967|
Last Wednesday was the third anniversary of TooBusyThinking. Only the fact that the blog and I were quietly undergoing a trial separation stopped me mentioning it here. But alot can happen in 10 days. I finished 7 different pieces for 4 different places. I got ahead with both of the books that I've been struggling with. Eventually it dawned that it didn't matter that the blogosphere was eyebrow-deep in interesting comics-blogs. After all, TooBusyThinking was never meant to be a vehicle for me to compete with the quality of anyone else's work. So why feel redundant because of all of the fine, insightful writing that's being produced elsewhere? This blog has always been the place where I could work on improving the quality of my own work. Nothing more or less. A week and a half of time has given me a much clearer sense of what I want to work on, and of how I might be able to do that. In fact, there are things I want to try that I can't believe I didn't think of before. Accordingly, the blog and I are now very much talking to one another again.
The March issue of "Q" was published during this brief sabbatical. If we're talking about opportunities which have transformed how I think about my writing, "Q" would be top of the list. Much of that is the result of trying to make both style and content as appropriate as possible for the magazine. The rest is the unavoidable - and exceedingly welcome - process of horizon-widening that the research for the column inspires. Of course, "research" sounds far too serious and self-regarding a term for the business of reading a great many comic books, strips and graphic novels. But whatever word is used, I'm now at a point where I simply don't seem to have a preference for any particular genres or styles at all. If asked what material I most enjoy, I'd just have to mutter "Comics!" and exit, stage left.
In issue 320's Comics Column, there are reviews of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's Nemo: Heart Of Ice, David Lloyd's Aces Weekly web-anthology, Roger Langridge's Popeye, China Mieville's Dial H For Hero, and Jodorowsky and Giminez's Metabarons. It's always odd, and even a little intimidating, to encounter each new "Q" when it's published. I've already been fortunate to have had the next column accepted, and I'm actually putting together a proposal for the one after that. By the time a column written a month and half ago actually appears, I've practically forgotten what I wrote. Looking back at what's been printed involves a deep breath and a great many attempts to cross every finger and toe. What did I say this time? Still, the process is always, as the old teaching cliche goes, a learning experience, as well as a great deal of fun.
|Panel by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, from Strange Tales # 138, 1965|
I'm as always grateful to Sequart for posting material of mine on their site. That's particularly true where the individual sections of my longer piece on Steve Ditko and Stan Lee's Doctor Strange are concerned. (Last week's can be found here.) It's been a chance to focus on one particular run of stories to a degree that I've never done before, and it's been a pleasure to get to read and re-read those wonderful tales from Marvel's first few years. It's also served as more-than-merely useful experience when it comes to writing extended pieces. In a few weeks, the Strange posts will be finished and I'll get to hack them into shape - adding and subtracting material as I go - for an e-book on the early Marvel superheroes. And then, I'll be posting chapters at Sequart from "Shameless?", which is all about Mark Millar's superhero books.
If you've not been to Sequart's magazine pages before, then I'd highly recommend a visit. There's a great many fine articles there by a whole cadre of knowledgeable folk and I don't think you'd regret giving the site a once-over.
|“The quest for certainly blocks the search for meaning.”|
(Panel by Alexis Frederick-Frost & Andrew Arnold et al, from Adventure Time #12, 2013)
Finally, you might consider popping into the TooBusyThinking Tumblr. Updated two or three times a day, it features juxtapositions of what I hope are noteworthy quotes and comic-book panels. For awhile, I'm also adding a mid-afternoon post featuring relatively obscure material from the fanzines of the past forty and so years. This afternoon's post, for example, is an advert from 1976 by Brian Bolland for London's first comic shop, Dark They Were And Golden-Eyed.
For those of us who can remember something of that shop, the nostalgia may prove overwhelming. For everyone else, it's both an interesting look at the artist's early work and an intriguing glance at what was considered cool in the fan community of the day.
|“No longer did I have to pretend to like the “pow!” and
“crunch!” style of Captain Marvel or the Green Hornet … Here was a
heroic person who might conquer with force, but only a force that was
tempered by love and justice.”|
Gloria Steinem (Panel By Gail Simone, Aaron Lopresti et al, from Wonder Woman #40, 2010)
There'll be reviews of several new books up on TooBusyThinking in the next few days.