so I haven’t been posting a lot in a while. Perhaps the quest to read every ROM comic was too ambitious a project to blog about (although I am in the twenties of the comic itself, I am much further behind on scanning images). This is one robot that may never get completely reprogrammed.

There is more on the horizon, however. Josh and I are hard at work on our full length, which will hopefully have a show announced for it soon. What I could do is tell you the (updated and longer!) tracklist for it. This is subject to more change, however, so let me leave the issue with just one tease. I just got done writing the words for “Tupacolypstick [Peter wants to battle rap Tupac’s hologram]”, and it is atop the most apocalyptic and post-production polished track on the album. It comes from almost entirely synthesized sounds (besides a couple found sounds impeccably recorded by other people, used with kind permission, of course), and is also about our obsessive (and perhaps dangerous) will to digitize and remember, instead of create and experience.

Also announceable is the DELUXE EDITION of the album! If you so fancy to help haha, Radical with generosity, they will bestow upon you not just a signed compact disc of the album, but a booklet of stories surrounding the tunes you’re hearing, AS WELL as a compilation of Peter’s sampledelic electronic compositions, which comes with a (sure to be strapping) tank top emblazoned with the words “Untitled Hustler”, as well as a depiction of said hustler. The image for the shirt’s gonna drop soon.

The tank top will be available on its lonesome as well, although the compilation, featuring as many illegal samples as it does,will remain a free download online that Peter will burn, and hand-title, for those buying the shirt and haha, Radical full length, at the same time (for a discount, of course!).

Unless our plans go awry, the title of the album will read “By George, We Got It!”.

So far, three songs from the album can be heard. The early muscle of “Give it up” (later retitled), the completely spontaneously recorded (and, ever since, live staple) “Let’s Keep It Simple”, and the outro’s closing domestic lullaby of “High Cues”. Sixteen tracks will probably make it onto the final album, squeezed onto a compact disc (with a couple more bonus digital-only files for the medium with no time constraints!).

Also announceable is some guests on the album! Besides the slaying electric guitar of Eric Bell, and the rhythmism and vocal contributions of Samuel Velzquez (miss you, man!), there are two other guests: MINUStheEGO, a featured MC on some tracks, and Donatella, a relatively unknown beat machine with whom I have only had e-mail correspondence, offers some of her apocalyptic 808 production to the album! Really marvelous stuff there! Oh, and joesnackpack contributes a beat to one song!

Progress on the album has been stready. We have at least demos of every track, most of which are finished to our current satisfaction. A couple days of focused work together will likely yield a finished album. I’m working on finalizing the untitled hustler compilation and making the tank top in the meantime.

I’ve been almost compulsively collecting comics, trying hard to make myself read the comics instead of collect them. It’s a difficult battle, for some inarticulate reasons. I uses comics to escape, but sometimes the complex history makes comics this daunting castle with an elaborate drawbridge to enter. so the trips to the comic store (or the online research accompanying ebay purchases) becomes the escape. I hear whispers of epics and imagine myself as having a conversation, when, really, words need to be spoken as well as heard, in order to be really known.

I’ve been incredibly enjoying some old Avengers essential volumes I bought a while back and haven’t since read. After Stan Lee threw his initial world cataclysms at the avengers in their first couple adventures, they really started to become mindless comics where familiar characters predictably thwart disasters posing as cataclysms. Then, all of a sudden, Roy Thomas starts writing the Avengers, and the comics focus a lot more on interpersonal relationships between the earth shaking cataclysms. Quicksilver and Wana start talking to Magneto, who tricks them into thinking the Avengers don’t fully trust them, Hank Pym finds himself unable to commit to his steady girlfriend, and, most striking of all, Captain America suffers some post-traumatic stress syndrome and leaves the team for a time, suggesting the displaced African King T’Challa, or the Black Panther, take charge of the team. Roy Thomas wastes no time in firmly establishing what makes this hero different from every other leader of the team. He is willing to wait in the shadows and use other people’s stupidity to save the day, instead of brightly arm-wrestle for it.

All of this, while more popular characters with their own mag (Iron Man and Thor in particular) were often shown as too busy to attend meetings, and would only show up when really dire cosmic threats loomed large. It would not be uncommon to see a bit of dialogue on the page, “Why didn’t Thor show? We never even got a crack at the long haired fink!” followed by the note “Could you attend a wedding and battle the silver surfer at the same time?” All of these were very bold moves for a comic that was created to inoffensively display all of Marvel’s comics together like pin-ups. It ended up enriching their shared universe while more developing other characters never given their own series to shine with more focus. And I haven’t even begun to mention themonumental power Roy Thomas’ restorative work had. Whereas Lee and Kirby would dash out a new villain almost every issue, allowing only the most special to reappear, Roy Thomas made it his specialty to resuscitate these old characters, to use their spontaneous and freely created origin as the foundation of something greater.

He turned a one-off villain, Scorpio, into one thirteenth of an entire syndicate of astrologically named villains, revising his earliest appearances as scouting work for an organization looming in the sub plots of Marvel’s once-innocent pages.

Really, this careful attention to what was left unsaid, as well as Roy’s creative reading to the comics of the past, would go on to define the values most cherished by comic’s creators and readers well into today. DC’s New 52 is almost built upon the concept that not every character has been given the chance to shine. So Grant Morrison’s best-selling (and quickly forgotten) Frankenstein gets his own team (that fights Morrison’s own governmental agency enforcing normalcy, The Men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.) while Kirby’s OMAC gets another human host. J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman breaks out of Detective Comics into her own series while getting reconnected with Williams III’s own Department of Extranormal Operations reveals its previously secret operations influencing our present. I would talk about contemporary marvel comics, but Waid’s Daredevil and Deadpool MAX is about as far into Quesada’s company as I’m willing to dip right now.

As incredibly brilliant (and hokey) that Roy Thomas’ writing was, the magazine only became the flagship marvel team book (eclipsing fantastic four in sales) after John Buscema replaced Don Heck. While normally given the short end of the stick when compared to his contemporaries, Heck came to Marvel comics from Western and sci-fi comics, which were all a bit different from the monster, romance, and war menagerie the marvel house style favored (Ditko would be the other exception, being a more prolific . He would pore almost all of his energy into the dramatic staging characters in scenes, and is notable for drawing and co-creating almost all of Iron Man’s villains. Unfortunately, his complex and dynamic linework was inked as if he dwelled on pages with the might of Kirby, whereas he was even more delicate than Steve Ditko. He also drew the most detailed backgrounds and most beautiful women of any contemporary marvel artist. John Buscema, on the other hand, was always ready to draw the apocalypse, and those racing to prevent it.

His muscular characters were incredibly muscular, but, more than that, his normal people wore baggy clothes. Plus his greater attention to body language made him a more refined flavor of Kirby, who himself was making his style even more primitive and powerful before establishing himself at DC Comics with the New Gods and a fleet of new creations that could have been a third superhero universe. All of these traits are what made Avengers into the premiere team book following Justice League of America’s initial success (and, later, absolute inability to sell as many copies as the Avengers).

Steve Englehart would learn from these comics, follow Roy Thomas for a little more than a year on the title while being edited by him, and then go on to popularize the Justice League, while the widescreen, epic style of Roy Thomas’ writing would re-emerge in the early nineties with widescreen superheroics embracing the perfectly orchestrated cataclysm with varied and socially relevant team members arguing how to save the world. Comics like the Authority and Stormwatch, and, heck, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, would revel in the influence of these larger than life catastrophres that causes humanity to re-examine what’s worth saving. Here’s a double splash page of a remote controlled satellite shooting specific but large points on Earth causing urban destruction:

drawn by the (amazing) Gene Colan as a fill-in artist. Other fill-ins would include a young Barry Windsor Smith, the only artist I know to have rendered the feeling of walking through the Vision when he has infinitely small density.

For now, though, these comics were the plucky up and comers showing up to a party whose alcohol had just arrived. The Marvel Age of Comics was in full swing, giving superheroes broken hearts and unpaid bills, and DC was left to its own devices to figure out how to graft humanity onto its heroes. Roy Thomas just didn’t have to try at all. Having gotten a handful of letters published in the lettercolumns before being offered a job as a continuity editor, Roy Thomas was already a fan. His run on avengers was him imagining what it’s like to hang out with these guys, as spontaneous and complex as a politician denying his own deeds, as digressive and passionate as a child telling you the backstories of his Legos.

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