2017 Year In Review : Top 10 Graphic Novels

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

And so we’ve arrived at this, our final — and, I’m sure for some, most significant — “best of” list of the year, surveying 2017’s top 10 graphic novels. Quick reminder of our “house rules” : these have to be original works designed from the outset for the GN format, not collected works of any sort, which have already been covered on our contemporary and vintage collected editions lists — and, as always, no real “reviews” here (chances are I’ve reviewed most, if not all, of these somewhere or other online already), just quick summaries of why they’re all so fucking awesome. Okay, let’s do this!

10. Vague Tales by Eric Haven (Fantagraphics) – Long one of the most intriguing, if sporadic, cartoonists around, here Haven constructs a fascinating and surreal overarching story from mostly-silent vignettes featuring barbarians, super-heroes, sexy sorceresses, and monsters that borrow equally from Jack Kirby, Fletcher…

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Music Video of the Day: Back to December by Taylor Swift (2010, dir by Yoann Lemoine)

Right now, as I write this, there are lot of people on twitter and in the media who are bitching and whining because Taylor Swift hasn’t written any #Resistance songs.  She didn’t endorse anyone in the 2016 election.  She never talks politics.  She even had the gall to say that she had a good 2017!

Since when did being happy become a microaggression?

See, this is one of the things that I hate about social media.  Just because you can’t stop talking about Trump or Hillary or whoever, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is obligated to do the same.  When I see people whining about Taylor Swift not using their favorite hashtag, I’m reminded of Joss Whedon, at this time last year, whining about people saying, “Happy holidays,” because he was upset over how the election went.  Just because someone isn’t constantly bragging about how pissed off they are, that doesn’t mean they don’t care or that they’re not doing their part.  It just means they, like me, have a life outside of whatever’s on CNN or Fox News.

Anyway, I was so annoyed with all the Taylor Swift hate that I spent Saturday listening to Last Christmas on repeat.  So, it seemed like a perfect pick for Music Video of the Day, right?


Sadly, there isn’t an official music video of Taylor’s version of Last Christmas.

So, I decided to feature her video for Back To December, instead.  It’s not specifically a Christmas song.  In fact, it’s generally agreed that it’s a song about Taylor’s breakup with Taylor Lautner.  (Taylor Swift has never specifically confirmed who it’s about, beyond saying that the song was meant to be an apology to a former lover.)  But hey, it’s December and there’s snow on the ground.  As far as I’m concerned, that makes it a Christmas song.

The video was directed by Yoann Lemoine, who has several credits.  (He’s also directed videos for Katy Perry, Lana del Ray, and Drake.)  Taylor’s love interest is played by Guntars Asmanis.



A Movie A Day #341: Hot Pursuit (1987, directed by Steven Lisberger)

When high school student Dan Bartlett (John Cusack) is late arriving at the airport, he finds himself watching as the plane taking his girlfriend (Wendy Gazelle) and her parents (Monte Markham and Shelley Fabares) to the Caribbean takes off without him.  Dan catches the next available flight and tries to track down his girlfriend and her family.  Helping him out is a Ganja-smoking islander (Keith David) and a crusty sea captain (Robert Loggia).  Complicating matters is that Dan’s girlfriend has been kidnapped by pirates (Jerry Stiller and his son, Ben)!

John Cusack got his start appearing in dopey 80s teen comedies and Hot Pursuit shows why he eventually declared that he would never appear in another one.  Hot Pursuit relies on the idiot plot.  If everyone in the movie didn’t act like an idiot, there wouldn’t be much of a movie.  Cusack seems bored in his role, only waking up towards the end of the movie when he gets to pick up a machine gun and blow away the pirates’ hideout.  (Cusack even gets to do a Rambo-style yell while riddling the building with bullets.)  This was Ben Stiller’s film debut and he has a few funny scenes.  The movie probably would have worked better if Stiller and Cusack had switched roles.

One final note; Hot Pursuit was produced by Pierre David, who also produced several of David Cronenberg’s early films.  It’s probably not a coincidence that Wendy Gazzelle’s character is named Lori Cronenberg.

Young Frontier: John Wayne in THE COWBOYS (Warner Brothers 1972)

cracked rear viewer

THE COWBOYS is not just another ‘John Wayne Movie’ from the latter part of his career. Not by a long shot. Duke had read the script and coveted the part of Wil Andersen, who’s forced to hire a bunch of wet behind the ears adolescents for a 400 mile cattle drive across the rugged Montana territory. Director Mark Rydell wanted George C. Scott for the role, but when John Wayne set his sights on something, he usually got what he wanted. The two men were at polar opposites of the political spectrum, and the Sanford Meisner-trained Rydell and Old Hollywood Wayne were expected to clash. They didn’t; putting their differences aside, they collaborated and cooperated  to make one of the best Westerns of the 70’s.

Andersen’s regular hands have all deserted him when gold is discovered nearby, leaving the aging rancher in the lurch. He heads for Boseman to look…

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12 Days of Random Christmas Songs: “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” (from DR. SEUSS’ HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS)

cracked rear viewer

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was first broadcast on December 18, 1966, and has become a TV staple ever since! Directed by Looney Tunes animator Chuck Jones and narrated by the great Boris Karloff, one of the highlights is voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft (the original Tony the Tiger… “They’re grrrrrreat!) singing “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, an ode to the odious Grinch, and here it is! Enjoy, and save me some Roast Beast!:

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