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Bon voyage to the very first comics blogger

Neilalien, the pseudonymous/palindromic blogger behind the Doctor Strange-centric site of the same name, celebrated his eleventh anniversary of blogging on Friday. He did so by announcing he wouldn’t be blogging anymore, at least not for the immediate future and not with anywhere near the regularity and intensity he’d previously maintained if and when he returns.

To call this the end of an era would be a considerable understatement. Neilalien was the very first comics blogger, launching his blog on the unthinkable date of February 25, 2000 — long before most of us had even heard of blogging, much less started doing it ourselves. It was roughly another three years before enough comics readers started blogging about the medium and the industry, and engaging one another in the process, that the “comics blogosphere” could even be said to exist. Neilalien became a vital part of that community largely through remaining partially apart from it — quick to swipe at perceived groupthink, content to go his own way in terms of what he was reading and writing and why. While the heterodox linkblogging and no-holds-barred industry commentary of Dirk Deppey’s early ¡Journalista¡ blog for The Comics Journal helped link comics blogs to one another and make the existing comics-internet infrastructure of major news sites and message boards aware of the blogosphere as a source of news and commentary, Neilalien’s more personal approach led by example, if you will. Here was a guy who didn’t work in the biz and had no aspirations of doing so, a guy who just really liked Doctor Strange and wanted to get his thoughts on and discoveries about the character and his goings-on out there, a guy who in the process would champion worthwhile non-Doc comics everywhere from the Big Two to the tables at MoCCA, a guy whose blog was nothing more or less than what interested him and what he felt like saying about it. The model blogger, basically. And his carefully maintained anonymity — I’ve had lunch with the man and still don’t know his real name — lent him an aura of mystery in this put-it-all-out-there-for-all-to-see medium.

With Deppey (who incidentally was sort of Neilalien’s Baron Mordo) already gone and many other figures in the early comics blogosphere either dormant or enmeshed in other fields, Neilalien’s retirement leaves the scene nearly unrecognizable from what it once was. Major comics news sites, even corporately owned offshoots of major media conglomerates, have adopted the blog model (you’re looking at one such effort right now). And in today’s hit-obsessed climate, the idea that a site like Neilalien’s, blissfully unconcerned with anything that didn’t concern its creator, could have played a central role in the comics blogosphere is difficult to comprehend. That’s what makes his departure such a loss. And if nothing else, his passionately and frequently articulated conviction that there’s nothing wrong with Doctor Strange that smarter, better, more imaginative writing on the part of Marvel’s creators couldn’t cure will remain advice worth heeding, even if he’s no longer around to dole it out with the conclusion of each fresh Bendis New Avengers arc.

Vaya con Agamotto, my friend. I’ll miss you.

Straight for the art | Scorpio Steele’s awesome Doctor Strange love story

ComicFest flyer

ComicFest flyer

But wait, I can hear you saying now, that’s not Doctor Strange! Nope, that’s the promotional flyer from this past weekend’s Denver ComicFest by Scorpio Steele, featuring a really rockin’ Galactus. I saw it last week and meant to do a post about how awesome it was, but I somehow misplaced the link before doing so.

Luckily Super Punch did a post on it, as well as Steele’s really awesome — and not safe for work — Doctor Strange story, which he has posted over on ComicSpace. It’s a fun little story featuring an interdimensional romp (literally) between Strange and Clea and a mystery third participant who shows up at the wrong time. Again, it’s NSFW, so save it until you get home tonight.

Ten years ago today, NeilAlien invented comics blogging

NeilAlien

A very happy 10th blogiversary to the illustrious NeilAlien! As noted by Tom Spurgeon, today marks an astonishing decade of comics blogging from the Internet’s premier fan of Doctor Strange.

The pseudonymous NeilAlien is a ruthlessly efficient linkblogger, an unfailingly cogent and provocative thinkblogger in his all-too-rare longer posts, and a tireless advocate for not just the (former, alas) Sorcerer Supreme, but for all the comics he loves and all the comics bloggers, critics and journalists whose work he appreciates. He invented what we do long before the idea of blogging about comics — hell, long before the idea of blogging — was even a twinkle in most of our eyes. Hail the Alien!

PS: Definitely check out Spurge’s salute to NeilAlien, a list of 21 things he likes about Doctor Strange.

The Fifth Color – The Familiar and Strange

the fifth colorSo, Brother Voodoo dusted off his doctorate, hung it high above his name and became an Avenger of the Supernatural last October.  While skeptical of how he went about it, I felt the first issue was fast, hard-hitting and looked ready for action.  This was new!  All new, one might say… maybe even all different.  After a lot of hemming and hawwing, the House of Ideas was finally going to show us what it wanted from a Sorcerer Supreme, reinventing the man in their own image.  If Stephen Strange didn’t do it for Editorial, let’s see who did.

Oh.  It’s canceled at issue 5, you say?  Hrm.

Personally, I thought the second issue wasn’t as good as the first.  The dialogue sounded stilted, character voices started to blend together the longer you read it and… well, something was missing.  A lot of ominous atmosphere, a fight with Doctor Doom is always cool, but the momentum of the narrative slowed down.  This was not a good sign for the book and honestly, as creative a villain as Nightmare is, I know I was at least burnt out on him since Peter David’s Hulk story ‘Tempest Fugit’, oh way back when.  Something was missing, the book sold poorly and Rick Remender will probably scoot Voodoo and Pals into his surprisingly entertaining and fun FrankenCastle story.  He’d play better there and have a more specific set of goals herding giant monster terrors as well as helping out the undead Frank Castle (hey, voodoo!), more than is was with the ‘you’re going to get important, hang tight’ theme of his own book.  I don’t see this is as fall for Jericho Drumm, more a return to his strengths.

But where does this leave Wong, the fate of our dimension and the Sanctum Sanctorum?

Well, the Sanctum Sanctorum will remain safe right above the Pinkberry (no, really!), but the setting of an old familiar story and the way it’s told isn’t as in jeopardy as you may think.
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The Fifth Color – New Practice

the fifth colorDoctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural is yet another book to cash in on that ‘Avengers’ gold that does New, Mighty, the Initiative and Dark so well these days but it doesn’t really need it.  Jericho Drumm doesn’t need a byline for being Sorcerer Supreme, the job title should be enough.  I also don’t think he should be so quick to tack on his PhD.  Sure, it’s in Psychology and that’s nothing to sneeze at, but that degree will do him jack all in the days to come.

Having been chosen specifically by the Ancient One for the power/responsibility gig of the century, Brother Voodoo (again, no offense to the Doctorate but Brother Voodoo is a much cooler moniker and his actual brother’s spirit is such an essential part of his character; besides, it’s not like anyone calls Speedball ‘Penance’…) has taken the role rather quickly and with little fanfare.  He still wants to go back to his job at the clinic, he grabs whatever magics he can (even scary dark stuff) to patch up holes in the barriers between this world and the next and if Doctor Doom shows up, well he’ll add him to his To Do list.  There’s no messing around in his first issue, no lingering doubts no fond retelling of his origin, it’s right to business.

It’s about time.

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