A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Today is Morrissey day here in Portland. The man plays the Roseland tonight. It's been, what? Seven years since his last stop in our rainy city? Bastard.

To commemorate, I took part in the regular blog feature run by the Portland Mercury and Floating World Comics recommending comics a visiting band might consider buying were they to stop in the store. (It's two blocks from the Roseland, so it's been known to happen.) My recommendations for Moz were:

* Weird Fishes by Jamaica Dyer

* Beast by Marian Churchland

* Breakfast After Noon by Andi Watson

Read my reasons for these choices here.

He should, of course, buy a copy of You Have Killed Me, too. If I were there, I'd sign it for him!

Current Soundtrack: I am also currently listening to Morrissey on BBC's Desert Island Discs, and you can too.

Both collected volumes of Love the Way You Love are listed alongside 12 Reasons Why I Love Her in Diamond Previews this month, part of an Oni ad campaign to push their romance comics for February and Valentine's Day. If you've been putting off having your comic book shop reorder these books for you, it's never been easier than right now:


Note that You Have Killed Me is also relisted this month. This ad here is on page 258 of the catalogue, and Killed Me is the top of 260.

My partners on these comics have things going on, too.

Joëlle Jones continues to get good reviews for Dr. Horrible, from the likes of Comixtreme:

"...the art plays a huge role, and Joëlle Jones manages to bring a look to the characters that is both its own thing--they look and feel like comic characters--and yet captures a look that evokes the appearance of the actors that played the live-action versions."

And Mondo Magazine:

"Jones’ art is utterly fantastic. She just nails facial expressions and the comedic timing of the show. Surprisingly awesome, a definite buy."

Marc Ellerby is selling the second issue of his awesome Chloe Noonan, Monster Hunter series and a new set of buttons/badges at his site. The Space Between Panels thinks you should buy the comic.

"If you've ever read Ellerbisms, you already know that Ellerby has a knack for bringing instantly likeable, warm and real characters (OK, people in Ellerbisms) to the page. The inhabitants of Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter are no different. I'm already pretty scared that if I ever meet Chloe's mate, Zoe Fox, her teeth will do something bewitching to me and I'll find myself listening to My Chemical Romance and crying at teatime.

The other thing I would say is that the polish Ellerby delivers is impressive. I see a lot of small press stuff that looks... I'll say 'rough around the edges' - not this, though. The printing and overall presentation of the issue - like in the one before it - are on a par with what you'd expect from one of the bigger indie publishers like Oni Press.

So, there.

Current Soundtrack: Bloc Party, Silent Alarm

Friday, November 27, 2009


Bleeding Cool began a...well, a bleeding cool feature yesterday. For Thanksgiving, they ran one exclusive peek an hour. Some kind of exclusive view into a comic, something unseen, be it an art tease or a sketch or what have you.

I went with the closest thing I have to a deleted scene from You Have Killed Me, a part of Mercer's voiceover. It's a flashback, one that never ended up fitting and maybe was also too literal. It would have been later in the book, somewhere in the final third, and I am sure I would have considered using it as dialogue, too, but it just never came up.

It begins like this:

The last night Julie and I were together--as a couple, I mean--isn’t one I like to think about too often. We were at a party together. We went to a lot of parties those days. That’s what kids our age and from our kind of families did...

Click through for the rest.

Thanks to Rich for letting me be a part of it! Be sure to dig through the other posts. There's some neat stuff on there.

Current Soundtrack: Robbie Williams, Reality Killed the Video Star

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


It's time to catch up on my movie reviews. Some good stuff heading into the Thanksgiving weekend...


* Fantastic Mr. Fox, the awesome realization of Wes Anderson's childhood.

* Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, a melodrama that gets by on the strength of its acting, but the script's contrivances aren't quite up to the hype. I actually really liked Alison Hallett's review at the Mercury. You should read it.

* The Road, John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy.


Ooops...I've been forgetting about this section.

* The Friends of Eddie Coyle, a 1970s crime picture with Robert Mitchum.

* Gomorrah, the electrifying, complex portrait of Mafia society centered around an Italian slum.

* The Hit, Stephen Frears' chilly road picture with Terence Stamp as a criminal condemned.

* Mayerling - Essential Art House, Anatole Litvak's 1936 costume drama based on a real-life murder/suicide.


* The Barbara Stanwyck Show, vol. 1, an unearthed television show starring the great actress. A little disappointing, but worth a look.

* Funny People, the Judd Apatow drama was lost this summer, but proves an excellent DVD.

* Gilda Live!, Gilda Radner's live show from 1980.

* It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - A Very Sunny Christmas, a new special from the gang at Paddy's Pub.

* Lemon Tree, an effective Israeli drama about one woman's fight to protect her heritage.

* The Limits of Control, Jim Jarmusch's latest, a challenging and misunderstood journey through the artistic process.

* Margaret Cho: Beautiful, the latest stand-up concert from one of my favorite comedian's is too inside baseball even for me. I actually think Jason Bailey's review of this does a much better job of getting at what's wrong with it than mine.

* Toi & Moi, a romantic comedy starring Marion Cotillard that fails to generate any heat.

* However, there is plenty of sizzle in the kitchen on Top Chef: New York.

Current Soundtrack: The Muppet Show record album; Morrissey, Swords

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Another nice review of You Have Killed Me this morning. Jim over at Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales really seemed to get the intention of the book, and I encourage you to read the whole piece.

His summation:

Overall Grade A – You Have Killed Me is a wonderful throwback to an era where the private eyes were dicks and the women were dames. A noir book at its heart, taking the familiar and making it new and fresh again.

Current Soundtrack: Rihanna, Rated R

Monday, November 23, 2009


It's sweeps week on the Internet. Borrowing from that notion that the pre-Thanksgiving viewing in November is important and TV networks roll out big shows and pull stunts to get ratings, I guess web comics are also obliterating all the stops.

Hence: a Jamie S. Rich visit to EmiTown! (And, yes, I've had my shots.)

Bet Emi beats all of those other webcomics this week! Though, if Between Gears were up to date, Tally could have totally used me and told everyone about drunken phone calls...Apparently if you tweet about her, it freaks her out! It'd be the best comics crossover ever, where girls of the comics universe team up to destroy me.

Current Soundtrack: Luke Haines, Achtung Mutha

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Brett Anderson has been fairly prolific since he disbanded Suede. He is currently on a self-imposed "album a year schedule." Freed from the commitment of a band and just being content to make music however it strikes his fancy, how and with whom being up to the moment, it appears he can come and go in the studio as he pleases and not contend with any democratic process. His initial reasoning for dumping Suede was that he had lost his passion for writing and was going to go out and "get his demon back." This was a rather Anderson-like announcement, the kind of "psycho for sex and glue" provocation that had made his band a tabloid darling and then quickly became the albatross by which those tabloids hung them.

Ironic, then, that this demon, as revealed on his third solo effort Slow Attack, is such a placid fellow. The songwriter has been quite forthcoming in identifying what is a fairly obvious trajectory in terms of creative development over the last three discs. The self-titled debut was his groundwork, a comfortable if underwhelming pop-rock starter kit; last year's Wilderness saw him struggling to shed the conventional and find something more classical. Pastoral. Yet, the final disc was tepid, never quite gelling. It almost seemed like a stopgap, what with two of its nine songs being retreads of material that was already out. (One of those, "Clowns," stands taller as a B-side from "Love Is Dead." In a rather Morrissey-like turn, the stuff Brett ditched from his first album was better than most of what was on the record proper.)

Whatever Anderson was fumbling for on Wilderness he has now gathered together on Slow Attack. Recorded with Leo Abrahams and a collection of classical performers--cello, bassoon, French horn, clarinet, oboe, and various flutes are listed in the credits--Slow Attack has a lush, classical atmosphere. Its sound is warm and natural, more like landscape than portraiture. Though the record is dedicated to Anderson's wife, I actually hear his father in this more than anything. The famous anecdotes of Mr. Anderson Sr. involve the old cab driver alternating his son's band on the tape deck with his beloved classical music. It also shows the influence of Abrahams, a musician I was unfamiliar with but whose resume speaks volumes--Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Marianne Faithfull alongside dance acts like Pleasure and Ministry of Sound and popstars like Annie Lennox and Ronan Keating, a mix of Anderson's heroes and popular, commercial music. Not to mention the snippets of Abrahams' own ambient discography that can be found on his site.

The confident ear that Abrahams brings into the production booth is obvious from the opening track, "Hymn." The song starts out with a prelude of sound that is clear and distinct, warmer and more direct than on any of Anderson's previous records, achieving a beautiful dissonance before giving away to the most quiet, considered piano. "Shining through the plate glass," the opening line as much a descriptive as a lyric. By the time Anderson sings the pseudo-chorus, ""The climbing sun, the fading dawn, like a hymn to love," music and voice are in perfect unison. The aural sunrise comes full glow. I can't put my finger on what this reminds me of, some soundtrack song or other, another invocation of daybreak. It's lovely.

Brett Anderson's voice has matured beyond the nasally whine that defined his early sound. It's become a vibrant, honeyed instrument. Listen to the "oh ohhhhs" on the first single, "The Hunted," and tell me those aren't the most gorgeous tones he's ever committed to tape. He has noted that his goal with Slow Attack was to create an album that could have been an instrumental record, where his lyrical approach was not as direct or as obvious. He has dropped all of his tell-tale language, the glammed-up and drugged-out phraseology that was starting to veer toward self-parody in the late Suede days, and that he even struggled to find a way around in the Tears project. Tellingly, the mixing on Slow Attack gives nearly equal weight to music and voice. The commercial technique normally pushes the singing all the way up in the mix, putting the frontman literally out in front. On a track like "Pretty Widows," Anderson is practically trading off with the piano, engaging in a back and forth where at times one rises and the other steps aside to let it happen, but as the song increases in volume and pace, the pieces fuse.

As narratives, the Slow Attack songs continue the themes that were emerging on Wilderness: love and nature. Like I mentioned, these songs are more landscapes than portraiture. Gone are the lists of crazies and beautiful ones, the city streets all but abandoned for solitary creatures more in tune with a world that existed before man. Anderson has dropped his cleverness and his obfuscation, looking to create open abstracts with more plain language (something he has been trying to do since that last Suede album, A New Morning). "The Swans" is merely a description of what Anderson sees at a lake, set to a loping arrangement that sounds like it could have been lifted from a timelapse sequence in Koyaanisqatsi. While the predator in "The Hunter" could be one of Anderson's characters from days gone by (on, say, the Suede B-side "Killer"), the presentation completely changes the point of view. Old Anderson would celebrate this dangerous woman with desire and scorn, making her into something lurid; the new Anderson celebrates with admiration, longing for the more permanent capture she offers. Love and mortality are no longer transient poses, Slow Attack embraces the forever. In a song like "Ashes of Us," things fall apart only so the pieces can come together again--the true life cycle is death and decomposition giving way to enriching what comes next. The details are both natural and artificial, the plight of modern man. "Falling like feathers, drifting like petals, pieces of paper, the ashes of us; break like bone china, faces in mirrors, piece us together, the ashes of us." This is likely intentional, for as much as this record has warm images of life, songs like "Frozen Roads" or the iTunes bonus "Forest Lullaby" evoke the changing cycles of the seasons and the day to day, of things falling and passing.

If there is any criticism to be leveled here, it's that Anderson is too successful at his goals. In seeking to be less obvious, he has also become less accessible. In pulling back on his persona and folding himself into the music, there is less that stands out and thus less to gravitate to. The appeal of his previous style of writing was its instant effect. Like the drugs he often referenced, the contact instantly made you high. On Slow Attack, Brett requires you to work your way into the songs. He has gotten so specific in his detail--look at the second verse of "Scarecrows and Lilacs," for instance--that listeners have to sift through it to find what makes sense again. The old Suede nonsense poetry was so bereft of meaning, it was universal, it could be anything. Here, it's just as easy to ignore what is being sung, let the voice be just another member of the orchestra. Again, what he wanted, too successful.

At the same time, Slow Attack is like a Resnais film, peopled with distant figures that are beautiful and alluring, and despite the chill, we want to understand what they are on about, where they are going, what they plan to do. "Julian's Eyes" is like following X in Last Year at Marienbad, getting the sensation directly from his mysterious brain.

Slow Attack is not a perfect album, and it may not be the masterpiece that Brett Anderson is working toward. Then again, it may. It could be one of those records that makes more sense over time, when you've listened to it so many times, you've absorbed every nook and cranny and have found all the hidden elements. It's got that lush orchestration that never stops being inviting, something akin to the Style Council's Confessions of a Pop Group
or Elvis Costello's North. I've only had about a week of listening to it, and look at how much I've got out of the disc already; imagine what I might find in a year or two.

Current Soundtrack: Slow Attack

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich
You've compared your songwriting process to automatic writing. How integral is the synchronictous accident to songwritng?

It's a clear reflection of what's inside of you. This is why songwriting for the sake of writing is just feeble drivel. For me, it's just one great big internal traffic-jam. It's a conflict. I'm not remotely trying to make myself interesting to anyone...which is just as well...

Does dissection of one's own process kill the golden goose?

Yes. A lot of writers struggle to explain, and the ultimate truth is often hard to hear your own voice say. We're all convinced that no one struggles as much as we do ourselves. When you write a song and someone listens to it and says "what's it about?" it's very much like giving birth to a child and someone says to you "what IS it?" Everything must be clarified. It can't be allowed to just go one spinning along, and we always assume there's a bit left unexplained. And then you try to sound intelligent...and that's when the trouble starts....

-- Morrissey, March 2009

Current Soundtrack: http://www.last.fm/music/Morrissey/_/I+Knew+I+Was+Next

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The fall is here and I am all bundled up inside my cave, and I swear, I've been working like a maniac. I have had a steady stream of freelance for Viz, Yen, and Tokyopop, as well as some other commercial work. But I've also been hard at work on a project I am doing with Kelley Seda. I am over the moon about that. My Seda fandom can't be overstated.

The theme song for the project has become Bobby Vinton's "I Remember You," which I can't find anywhere online, so I guess I'll have to share it myself. I don't know what caused me to pull out the Vinton comp I have while I was writing. I got it ages ago, out of a freebie pile when I worked at Dark Horse. I never listen to it, but for some reason, I decided to now, and it's been perfect for this weird little thing I am cooking up. Bobby Vinton, so blue and lonely.

Bobby Vinton - "I Remember You"

Also, this old Human League hit has been an inspiration:

Don't forget, Joëlle's Dr. Horrible issue is out today. The first reviews are really great.


And Comic Book Orange:

Current Soundtrack: Brett Anderson, Slow Attack

Monday, November 16, 2009


The Dr. Horrible one-shot drawn by the ever-wonderful Joëlle Jones goes on sale this Wednesday, and everyone should go out and by a copy. Or three. Since there are three covers (by Kristian Donaldson).

Newsarama has a preview here.

Things from Another World is selling all three covers if you want to order online. This one is my favorite.

CBR also released the February solicitations from DC today, featuring Joëlle's second Madame Xanadu issue. The girl's been busy.

Current Soundtrack: The Simpsons where Bart falls for the Jessica Lovejoy ("If I don't save the wee turtles, who will?")

Thursday, November 05, 2009


I know it's been quiet, but hey, I told you I was knuckling down and getting to work. In addition to some freelance stuff, I spent the last two weeks focusing on the first draft of the second Spell Checkers volume, which I completed Tuesday night. Nico will be done with volume 1's principal art in a handful of weeks, and we're going to keep rolling right into volume 2.

Next up: burying Kelley Seda in script pages!


* An Education, the Nick Hornby-penned coming-of-age tale makes a real star out of Carey Mulligan. One of my favorite movies of the season.

* The Men Who Stare at Goats has a great cast--George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey--but doesn't have a complete script to match.


* The Dead, John Huston's final film finally comes to DVD, so why did Lionsgate screw it up so bad? Ten minutes missing? Did you leave it in your horse and buggy? Update: I just got an e-mail from Lionsgate and they are issuing replacements. I've added info to my review in case anyone needs to do a trade-in. Very good news!

* The Who, the Mods and the Quadrophenia Connection, an interesting but ultimately flat look at my favorite Who album.

* Will Ferrell: You're Welcome, America - A Final Night with George W. Bush, a numb satire that seems to want us to think Bush was innocent and stupid rather than destructive and disingenuous. Where were you guys over the last eight years? Certainly not in this country!

Current Soundtrack: The Daily Show, 11/3/09

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Karaoke Watch: Halloween Night

Last night we celebrated Halloween and the last night of karaoke at the Lucky House in NE Portland. The KJ that was running the show there was awesome, and someone needs to pick him up and give him another venue.

My costume was intended to be kind of like a magician's, but I ended up being more in line with either (a) John Steed from The Avengers, (b) the Riddler, or (c) Fantomas.

More pics here.

My songs for the evening were:
Pulp - "Help the Aged"
Velvet Underground - "Waiting for the Man"
David Bowie - "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide"
Erasure - "A Little Respect"
Herman's Hermits - "Dandy"

The Bowie was a bit of a failure, and I recall Joëlle having the same problem when she did it a couple of years ago. It's a song that seems to stick in the memory as being simpler than it is, but there are more lyrics than you think. It was a first-time effort, as was the Erasure and V.U., the latter of which is one to add to the repertoire.

Joëlle went as the Morton Salt Girl, and sang:
Stray Cats - "Stray Cat Strut"
The Ronettes - "Be My Baby"
Neil Diamond - "Cracklin' Rosie"

Our group was organized by Sister Amber, a progressive nun out of her habit, who sang songs fitting the holiday and her costume's theme:
Oingo Boingo - "Dead Man's Party"
Madonna - "Like a Virgin"
The Commodores - "Easy"
George Michael - "Faith"

Amongst our group, we had a Franciscan monk who sang "Personal Jesus," Andy as a metal dirtbag appropriately singing some Foo Fighters, and the awesome pair of Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Toki Wartooth from Dethklok. Toki even brought a bowl of candy. It tasted like chicken would taste if chicken was a candy.

Current Soundtrack: Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room

e-mail = golightly at confessions123.com * Criterion Confessions * Live Journal Syndication * My Corporate-Owned Space * ComicSpace * Last FM * GoodReads * The Blog Roll [old version] * DVDTalk reviews * My Books On Amazon

All text (c) 2009 Jamie S. Rich