Friday, May 23, 2008

REPORT :: Batman Year One Discussion Group!

What a fun night!!! On Monday we hunkered down and discussed Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli's Batman Year One. We covered a number of topics, but the majority of the entertainment-packed two+ hours revolved around the effects of the dual narrator on the flow of the story, the importance of Commissioner Gordon's character in the Batman mythos, and most importantly (ok, arguably most importantly) the effect of the characters on Gotham and the effect of Gotham on the characters.

As an added bonus, Andy Smith, local penciller/storyteller extraordinaire (Stormwatch, 52, Red Sonja/Claw) went over Mazzuchelli's page layout and demonstrated how certain graphic tricks work to lead the readers eye through a given page. OUTSTANDING!!! Thanks Andy!!!

We've posted a few new pictures from the night over in our Heroes Discussion Group set on our Flickr site, if you'd like to take a peek.

Of course the last fifteen minutes were spent on the battle royal to decide what the next book will be. We have it narrowed down to three and we would like ALL of your input as to what it should be:

SHAZAM: Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith
Sandman Volume 4: Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
Astonishing X-Men Volume 1 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

These nights are fun and informative and can only improve if more of you join us. It's VERY laid back, and a lot of fun! All you need to do is set the date aside-- the next one will be after HeroesCon in July--we'll announce it right here on the blog once we nail it down. Read the book and then join us! There is no pressure to speak, but if the past discussions are a harbinger for future meetings, we feel confident you will want to join in.


Matt Plummer said...

I would like sandman vol. 4 because I already own it. I would also go forwhich ever of the last two is easiest to find in a books a million b/c that's where I go to do my pre-discussion reading.

R.L. Deen said...

I will throw my vote for SHAZAM: Monster SOciety of Evil.

Dustin Harbin said...

I also vote for Shazam, as I haven't read it yet, and it would give me a chance to do so.

Veronica said...

I loves me some Joss Whedon.
Also, food for future thought: ExMachina. (BKV4evah)
Pick my idea and I promise to cut out the stupid acronyms!

Andy Mansell said...

OK-- i've just re-read all three and here is my take so far...
Astonishing X-Men
is really good, but the cliff hanger type ending could pose a bit of a challenge--especially since the story will have been completed by the time we meet.
Sandman easily has the most topic to discuss, but the number of dangling subplots and multiple artists leave it a bit disjointed.
SHAZAM strikes me as the best bet because there are several points where the story may have failed. The question is why and how or you can explain to me what I missed or mis-read.
Bottom line: Any of three would be great. Keep the votes coming!!

Anonymous said...

Pretty bummed that I missed the last one! Going to try super hard to make the next one, sometime I guess in July?

My vote is for either Sandman or Astonishing X-Men. Sorry, Shazam.

Justin said...

My vote is, of course, for Sandman: Seasons of Mist. I want to discuss what Gaiman called the "anarchy of belief" that this story creates with its multiple clashing mythological/religious systems. Also this is usually the volume of Sandman I tell people to start off with because it’s a good solid introduction to the world and characters (The Endless) who dominate the series.

Monk a.k.a. Zach said...

I vote for Shazam also because I have not read it.

Rusty Baily said...

I REALLY want to join one o these discussion groups, Astonishing X-men, I've read, not much to discuss....Shazam, again, I've read, seems a bit too basic to get too much of a discussion on it...but Sandman, however, never read it, kinda want to, but what I have read, confused me, and seemed waaaay over my head. I would attend a discussion group on this. If only to shed a little light on the subject for me(and to try to make Gaiman seem not quite so pretentious!)
Just my 2 cents....

Dustin Harbin said...

I will say that, while I'm pretty uninterested in Sandman in general--not to mention that we already did a reference-laden book with LOEG, so maybe a different Sandman volume would be a better discussion topic--I do think that we've so far only talked about books that everyone really liked, more or less. Talking about something where there might be more actual discussion might be a good one.

But jeez, the last thing I want to do with my not-working time is talk about a bunch of arch Gaiman dialogue and references to pantheon, etc. Dullsville. Astonishing X-Men, while flawed, is also more self-contained than Season of Mists. So I could go for that if the tide turns that way.

Rich Barrett said...

What happened to Ice Haven? That still gets my vote. Or David Boring, maybe?

My second choice would be Shazam I guess because I wasn't blown away by it and like Andy and Dustin said, it might be interesting to talk about a book that doesn't work.

I recently read the first volume of Absolute Sandman, having never read Sandman before. That Lucifer story was probably my least favorite of the volume and most forgettable it seems but I'd be up for doing Sandman anyway because I'm sure there's tons of stuff in there that I've overlooked.

Andy Mansell said...

I would love to do Ice Haven, David Boring or even the Death Ray at one of our next groups; but I went with the old democratic method and choses the three with most votes, AXMEN, Shazam and Sandman.

I think it would benefit the discussion group to stay in the mainstream this time and tackle a book that is successful and entertaining on many levels is potentially flawed in others.

Phil Southern said...

This is honestly and mostly due to the book I enjoyed it the most. I could spend hours talking about books I don't enjoy (Astonishing X-Men) or which I feel are O.K. (Sandman).

I think a fertile discussion area may be the works of Neil Gaiman/Sandman or the entire comics work of Joss Whedon.

However, I think that Shazam! provides the best overall reading experience, and would certainly lead to great topics like creator's intent (for both CC Beck and Jeff Smith), truly all ages comics and impeccable storytelling.

Rusty Baily said...

Maybe ya'll are right. Shazam COULD provide a good topic...I do love me some Jeff Smith! And AXMEN would have some interesting points, but man, I need somebody to explain Sandman to me there cliff notes for any of those?

Andy Mansell said...

How many times have they resurrected Cap with disasterous results?
Why didn't they work-- why did J.Smith's version work? or to mix a metaphor-- why can you remake some movies and some should never be touched......

Please keep voting....

Grandone81 a.k.a. Brain said...

Well since I dont really care that much for guys in tights but love horror and fantasy I guess my vote will be for Sandman: Seasons of Mist. I've never read it but hear its great and will be looking forward to discussing it in July.

Justin said...

I just want to say to Dustin that in respons to what you had to say about Sandman...its not like I was really looking forward to spending my Monday evening talking about a generic Miller story involving prostitutes and guys in tights but I still showed up and listened with an open mind. Think about it.

Dustin Harbin said...

I hear you Justin--and I would reiterate that I think that makes for stronger discussion. For instance, you were a great "control" for Year One, because you weren't really familiar with the tons of stuff Miller's done, repeated themes and ideas, etc. Therefore who better to judge whether or not the book succeeded to a non-superhero reading audience?

Ditto for me and Sandman. Maybe I've just been around it too long, and am tired of hearing about it. If we do Sandman, either in July or the future, I'll try to keep an open mind.

Andy Mansell said...

Two things to note about Sandman--

1. From just a nuts and bolts story, the first chapter alone where you meet all of the Endless is fodder for some great discussion-- without even mentioning mythology.

2. This particular story arch could open up such topics as the afterlife, the existence of hell, the importance of dreams, on and on both inside and outside the realm of graphic fiction.

1 thing to note about SHAZAM--

Is it a children's story; should it be looked at as a children's story?

1 thing to note about X-men--
Can it be read on it's own by a casual reader. There is a heckuvallotta baggage that comes with the Marvel Mutants; but then again there is baggage galore with Superman-- how do Morrison and Whedons approaches differ; how are they similar-- what works; what doesn't?

Jeez--let's just order in dinner and do ALL three.

Keep voting!!!!!!

Shawn Reynolds said...

My vote is for Shazam!

But that being said, maybe we should go ahead and do Sandman. People are going to keep voting for it until we pick. Not that I want to "get it over with." I'm just saying that it has a popularity that can't be denied.