Watchmen Is Okay: An Alert Nerd Public Service Announcement

Watchmen Is Okay: An Alert Nerd Public Service Announcement

Dec 29

Message boards and blogs have been alight for a week with the news that Fox was awarded some stake in Warner Bros’ Watchmen film. Today, a Fox spokesperson revealed they’d be seeking an injunction to delay the film.

I’m no industry expert, just a yokel in Orlando with an internet connection and a full bladder, but let me prognosticate for just one second:


There’s no precedent for delaying a film that’s in rights limbo, especially not a film where there’s upwards of $100 million in production costs, marketing dollars, and merchandising on the line. Usually, the case is resolved and settled in some fashion. Even if it means eating serious crow and forking over cash, WB will do it…and even if it means taking a lower offer than they’ve proposed to date, Fox will cave in.

Fox said that bit today about the injunction because they are HUFFING and PUFFING. They’re trying to make WB flinch. WB will not flinch.

These are high-paid powerful lawyers whose job is to protect their clients and make them money wherever possible. A shelved Watchmen film makes no one money. A released Watchmen film could make everyone lots of money. There will be lots of shit talking for the next couple weeks, and then on January 20, the trial will begin, and maybe as soon as that afternoon, a settlement/deal will have been reached.

Mark my words: WATCHMEN IS OKAY. Let’s complain about something else instead.

Matt's Fave Comics 2008 – Batman: Gotham After Midnight

Matt's Fave Comics 2008 – Batman: Gotham After Midnight

Dec 28

I’m a sucker for Batman comics, even half-baked ones, but I don’t think this Steve Niles/Kelley Jones maxiseries is half-baked at all. It’s pretty fully baked. It probably helps to be baked when you read it. I wouldn’t know. Just a guess.


Maps and Legends

Maps and Legends

Dec 27

My wonderful wife got me two amazing gifts this year for X-Mas. One is a USB preamp thingee that enables me to create pro-am musical recordings in the comfort of our back closet.

The other is a copy of Michael Chabon’s new book of essays, Maps and Legends, one of those books you know you want, but you didn’t realize it yet. It’s a great read–he writes on topics from “the borderlands,” which includes comics, genre fiction, old stuff, and more.

Even more than a great read, it’s a great looking book.


I had really forgotten the sheer joy of holding and reading an incredibly well-designed, thoughtfully crafted book. Maps and Legends has three separate dust jackets, with art from Jordan Crane. They depict cartoon images of many of the topics in the book–monsters, mythology, and the like. Each separate jacket sits atop another, creating three separate layers of artwork–in the center is a die-cut hole, and beneath the hole is the title, set in black type within a gold-leaf X on the actual sewn cover of the book.

I’m doing a shitty job explaining it, but from the second I opened the wrapping paper, I loved this book. Hadn’t read a word, didn’t need to. It’s a beautiful object. Fondle a copy the next time you’re in a store.

Matt's Fave Comics 2008 – Avengers: The Initiative

Matt's Fave Comics 2008 – Avengers: The Initiative

Dec 26

I love year-end lists, both reading them and writing them, but I rarely feel as though I’ve read enough of everything to actually offer any valid criticism.

So this’ll be an occasional, informal rundown of some comics that I enjoyed in 2008, most of them ongoing series, and none of them very adventurous from a mainstream vs. art/indie comix perspective. I tend to be too conservative when buying art/indie comics, waiting until the heavy weight of critical consensus forces a purchase or a loan from the library.

Anyway, that’s not to apologize for my taste, just to explain why this list will be heavy on the superheroes and quite light on the moody, introspective artsy fartsy stuff. That’s what early 2009 is for, after the experts have weighed in with their best-of lists.


There’s a very specific, unique style of serialized storytelling that can only be done in the Marvel Universe.

Jingle Bell Grok: The Ref

Jingle Bell Grok: The Ref

Dec 25

Merry Christmas, nerds! We’re going to close out Jingle Bell Grok with another Secret Guest Post about the meaning of Christmas. But don’t just take it from me. Read it for yourself!

Jingle Bell Grok: The Ref

I don’t hate Christmas movies. I think Jeff hoped I would say I did, when he e-mailed me after reading my contribution to this article. But truly — I’m currently juggling my holiday plans so that I’m able to watch It’s a Wonderful Life! in the theater, because it’s the only time of year I can do that. I think A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Grinch have beautiful things to say about generosity and fellow- feeling among people. (And beagles. And Grinches. And whatever the hell a Who is.)

But I’d just as soon watch these classics in the bleak cold of February or the doldrums of July. I don’t need affirmation of the basic goodness of man, and the strength of community, during the three weeks of the year that everybody pretends to believe in them. I don’t need to hear the same themes repeated in derivative and inferior forms, multiple times a day, from every possible media outlet, for the last two months of every year.

OK, so maybe I hate Christmas movies just a little bit. Blame the neighborhood my parents lived in for fifteen years. You couldn’t make a left turn onto their street any time from Veterans’ Day to Valentine’s, because the neighbors were competing to see who could get the most lights and plastic reindeer and fiberglass novelty characters into their front yards. Even better, people from other parts of the city would feel compelled to rent buses or limousines and come gawk at the ‘Tacky Light Tour.’ After a few weeks of witnessing this behavior — the crush of humanity, the waste of electricity, and did I mention the reindeer? — I wouldn’t have been nearly so thrilled to witness a miracle of human generosity as I would to have a particularly foul-mouthed stand-up comedian turn up on my street and start yelling at people to shut the fuck up.

That’s why my favorite Christmas movie is The Ref. I’m not claiming this 1994 Denis Leary vehicle is the best movie about Christmas, but it’s the one that the Christmas season actually makes me want to watch. Leary plays a luckless burglar who crosses paths with a suburban couple (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey, back in the days where everything Spacey touched was guaranteed awesome). In theory, he takes the couple hostage. The reality — a la “The Ransom of Red Chief” — is that spending Christmas with a household of rich, angry WASP’s, for Leary’s character, involves stepping into a circle of hell. It’s a mean, funny, profane little movie, and I love it a lot.

It’s gotten trendy to point out that It’s A Wonderful Life actually delves into some pretty dark themes. To turn that on its head, the dark comedy of The Ref is curiously redemptive. The central conceit of the movie is that the hostage ordeal works as a radical form of marriage counseling. When forced to deal with a crisis, the couple actually speak honestly about their problems. They band together: with each other, with their juvenile delinquent son, eventually even with Leary against Spacey’s horrible mother.

That kind of salvation through adversity is a fantasy, of course, as much as the Grinch’s heart growing ten sizes over a little bit of Who-caroling. But it’s an appealing idea, this notion that your nearest and dearest will come through when it matters. Even if they did just make you sit through a ten-course Scandanavian meal while wearing a candelabra on your head. Even if, sometimes, you secretly wish you could tell them to shut the fuck up.

[Caroline Pruett is part of the team at Fantastic Fangirls, where she writes about comics, usually with fewer F-bombs than she dropped in this article.]