Friday, April 22, 2011

SuperSoundtrack #1: Ozymandias and Page of Quire

Everybody knows that a good film needs a good soundtrack. Star Wars and Indiana Jones wouldn't be the same without John Williams' great symphonic scores. Nor would 80s classics like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off be the same without the Flowerpot Men’s “Beat City” or the now iconic “Oh Yeah” by Yello, capturing the mood of the story so perfectly.

Indeed, when you watch the Director’s Commentary of FBDO you learn about what care John Hughes put into sound-tracking the movie, and why he deliberately chose music that hadn't yet made the mainstream. WGTB suspects this is why whenever you hear “Oh Yeah!" today, your first memory is probably of Ferris and the 1961 Ferrari GT California OR a subsequent reference to greed or excess that came from that scene.

So, in tribute to all the great, unexplored music out there, WGTB is introducing a new feature called SuperSoundtracks.

What we’re doing is pairing up good but non-mainstream songs with comic book heroes or villains who don’t yet have associated music. Of course, these are only suggestions, and hopefully our readers will add to the mix and suggest some songs and characters of their own -- our only request is that you keep the music interesting and obcure. No Madonna or Michael Jackson please!

SuperSoundtrack #1

Our first comic book character is Watchmen’s Ozymandias, a key figure in the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons masterpeice. Billed as the "smartest man in the world" and blessed with exoribant wealth and physical fitness, Ozymandias, is a key force in helping drive this timeless mini-series forward.

His chosen song is “Reason Man”, an early Depeche Mode track, performed by an obscure German synth group called Page of Quire. The futuristic keyboards and the driving beat capture the mysterious and aloof qualities of Ozymandias brilliantly, while the lyrics match him to a tee. If you know Watchmen then you know why Ozymandias is the "Reason Man".

Have a listen.

Do you have any suggestions that match Ozymandias even better? If so, please post them below. And again, if you have any other character/song suggestions please post with a link. This won't be any fun without a little interaction!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

WGTB's Top 10 Comics (You May Not Have Read)

Everyone loves a Top 10 List – so here’s one from WGTB. These are comics that your humble blogger count among his favourites. They may not be the most famous, or be by a famous writer, but that's no problem because WGTB thinks they're GREAT! If you have any comments or additions/recommendations please post a comment -- feedback is always welcome. Let's go!


THOR #272: For our money one of the best Thor covers out there. The story’s not bad either -- the message being: Thor = STRONG!


The Hobbit: A Tolkien classic in graphic form. This series of three graphic novels was released in 1989 and is a truly wonderful addition to any collection. I know how my mind's eye has always pictured The Hobbit, but it's interesting to see how Bilbo, Gollum, Gandalf, etc. carried on in the minds of some gifted artists. I'm not holding my breath for Lord of the Rings or Silmarillion graphic novels though.


ROM: Spaceknight #50: How does a secondary title get almost 80 issues? Great stories, of course! ROM: Spaceknight was one of those titles that just carried your imagination away. He was 'in' the Marvel universe, but he wasn't 'of' it;. This meant that if you wanted to get away from the goings on of the X-Men, Avengers, Spider-Man, etc. ROM was a place to go. Of course, there were crossovers, but ROM always did well on his own.


Star Wars: Dark Empire: This comic series (along with Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire trilogy) jump-started the Expanded Star Wars Universe, and eventually got Star Wars fans prequels. But that isn’t a reason to hate it! It’s a great character-driven story with great art. It also probably solidified Dark Horse’s status as a contender for the bronze medal in the comics world. Number 4 was chosen due to the cameo: in WGTB's mind this guy will never have a New Zealand accent!


Detective Comics #590: Batman heads to London to help stop a Guy Fawkes-style terrorist attack. History, politics, travel and comics -- all rolled into one. What's not to like?!? The cover is fantastic too and reminiscent of a Victorian dust jacket.


52 #45: I loved 52. In fact, you may notice that my comics are mostly Marvel. Well, they were once exclusively Marvel. But reading the trade paperback of 52 made me realise how silly I had been, and made me look at both companies with extra vigour. Since then I've really enjoyed the plethora of DC team-ups out there. Number 43 is here because its amazing cover is emblematic of this ambitious title. Black Adam just reeks of power on this one!


Web of Spider-Man #44: Back to Marvel! This one is actually a sentimental favourite because it’s the first comic book WGTB ever owned. Your humble blogger's mother bought it for me when I was 10 years old. I loved it then and still do! The villains here are a group of violent cyborgs named “Warzone”. They weren’t used again, but I always felt they had potential. Wait a minute! Are violent cyborgs at all appropriate for a 10 year old?!?


Captain Canuck #1: Timely Comic’s answer to Captain America was set in a near future where Canada was a superpower and needed a hero who was ultimately a cross between the above mentioned American and Flash Gordon. I love the cover and, well, any story where Canada kicks butt!


Fantastic Four #275: Imagine you were facing prosecution and needed a lawyer. Do you think you could get The Watcher? Reed Richards did. In WGTB's opinion, this story arch is the magnum opus of John Byrne's impressive run with the Fantastic Four. It's a jam-packed comic where we get to witness the best justice system in the universe AND what Galactus looks like to other species. Amazing!

And the GOLD goes to:

Wolverine #31: Shocked it's not the Galactus Trilogy, the Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen? Good. That's what we were hoping. Yes, WGTB's favourite comic is this obscure stand-alone Wolverine story. In it, Logan heads up to Alberta, Canada for a little Wolverine-style rest and relaxation: hunting, fishing and running around naked! He then comes across a mythical monster, a fugitive and his victim, and a couple Mounties hot on the trail. It ends with an important revelation about a man who could be Logan. This was well before most of the Wolverine back-story had been revealed and had a real impact when first read. It's still is a great (some might say THE BEST) read.

Please let WGTB know what your favourite comic stories are. This is, after all, a place to share these things. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

WGTB pays tribute to the King of Comics!

Your humble blogger has just returned from Hail to the King, an art tribute show and auction at the Resistance Gallery in London. Unfortunately the camera was left at home so I wasn’t able to take any candid shots of the event.

So let my words be the photos! Picture this: an eclectic mix of artists, fans and well-wishers gathered over drinks discussing Jack Kirby while looking at some outstanding tribute art. Sound good? Well, you're right -- it was! Again, I really wish I had an image or two to convey not just the awesomeness of art, but also the interesting people.

WGTB also participated in the auction and ended up purchasing a print-sketch of Fantastic Four #1 by the curator and artist, Jason Atomic. I told Mr. Atomic that I recently started a blog and hopefully we’ll be able to connect for an interview in the near future. In our brief conversation he told me how he started his art career in comics and a little about his affection for Jack Kirby. That would be an interesting conversation and I plan on looking into this for a future posting. Here is the art -- all proceeds will be going to the Jack Kirby Museum. (See the link on WGTB recommends)

So that was it. Truly the King’s legacy is as strong as ever. Have a great night!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

WGTB goes to Slovenia!

In the English-speaking world we accept that the language we speak is English. We might be American, British, Canadian, Australian, Indian, New Zealander, etc. but we all speak a language that takes its name from England. This past weekend WGTB -- by simply buying a comic book -- learnt that that there are some identical languages that actually have different names depending on their nation of use.

How did this come about you ask? Well, this past weekend WGTB visited Slovenia. Not familiar with this place? Well, you’re missing out! Slovenia is a small central European republic and true delight to visit. Cue the gratuitous tourist shots:

The above photos are from Piran, a former city within the larger Venetian Republic. This place is spectacular and situated almost directly across the water from Venice proper – hence the strikingly similar architecture. Below is Portorose, once the centre of the 'Austrian Riviera' and now a tourist hot-spot with casinos and flashy hotels.

Finally we come to Ljubljana, a midsized and thriving city with all the amenities one would expect from the capital city of a NATO, European Union and Eurozone member nation. There is a mixture of older Baroque and Vienna Secession along with Yugoslavian and modern architecture.

Which brings us to language of comic books in this land, and the interesting fact that in Slovenia it is NOT Slovenian! It's actually Serbo-Croatian, a cousin Slavic language that is (for the most part) accepted by Slovenians to be a language of greater expression and colour. Take for example, the comic of Zagor I bought. Zagor is a Western/Native American character who was created in Italy during the 1960s and is still immensely popular in the former Yugoslavian countries:

This book is actually printed in Serbo-Croatian -- nearly 20 years after the break-up of Yugoslavia. Moreover, and this goes to the point I mentioned above: Serbo-Croatian is a hybrid language but takes different names, (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian) depending on the nation where it is spoken.

Of course, this may just be because the market for Slovenian comics is too small to print Slovenian language comic books. If that's the case then I'm sorry to have misled and I hope you enjoyed the pictures! But if not, then this is just another little interesting thing about how our medium reflects a diverse and interesting world.