Sharp-eyed ISB readers may have noticed that it’s been a while since we’ve been down this particular lonesome road, but the fact of the matter is that after the nervous breakdown that capped off our our last attempt at casting the light of scholarship onto Laurenn J. Framingham’s landmark Marvel Comics urban fantasy series, the Research Department needed a little extra time to recover.
A little extra time and a little gin. And video games. Lots of video games.
But tonight, it’s back in action! After all, with the next issue of Guilty Pleasures–the series that consistently lives up to half of its name–hitting shelves tomorrow, the last thing we want is to fall behind in our attempts to classify and explain the adventures of everyone’s fifth-favorite Vampire Hunter.
And really, we at the Research Department are nothing if not timely.
Grab a copy of your own and follow along!
1.1: It might not be readily apparent from this panel…
…wherein Anita picks up where the last issue left off by continuing her psychic duel with Draco Malfoy’s twin sister, but this issue marks the debut of new series penciller Ron Lim, which presents the Research Department with something of a problem. See, Lim’s a veteran of the Golden Age of Marvel Comics–the eighties*–and as such, he brings a basic level of craftsmanship to the art even when he’s doing his thigh-swelling best to ape Brett Booth, and that’s going to make making fun of the art a lot harder.
Er, wait. Not making fun. Academic criticism, I mean.
Probably best to just move on.
1.5: Considering that there’s no amount of wind in the world that would explain the behavior of Nikolaos’s hair on this page…
…and assuming that she is, in fact, a vampire and not some deadly hybrid known only as The Medusapire, one has to seek another explanation.
The most logical theory? In a reference that will only be understood by me and the six other people who played it, Nikolaos is sporting a coif along the lines of Colonel Scott O’Conner, hero of 1990’s Kabuki Quantum Fighter for the NES. This would also explain why she crouches down and presses A three times to swap chips for health on page ten.
That’s what she said.
3.1: Ever since the Research Department pointed out that Nikolaos–the evil sinister vampire overlord who is actually a little girl–was something of a clichÃ© ever since it was done by Bring It On‘s Kirsten Dunst back in 1994, we’ve been waiting for something that would set her apart as a true force of evil. And now we have it, because in this panel…
NIKOLAOS SWEEPS THE LEG.
Clearly, the combination of vampiric abilities and John Kreese’s Cobra Kai style karate is a threat to the entirety of the Greater St. Louis area.
3.2: It’s not specifically indicated in the comic itself, but if you imagine that “AIEE! RUN! PERVERTS!” is being screamed by a looming, off-panel Sinistar, this issue gets a whole lot better.
5.7: So apparently, this is what passes for tough-guy banter in the world of Anita Blake:
I mean, come on, Framingham! Everybody knows Fangface was a werewolf, not a vampire!
8.4: In this panel, Anita and Phillip share what I think is supposed to be a tender moment…
…but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen this image before. Oh, of course!
In reconstructing the classic cover to H2O, Hall & Oates’ 1982 masterpiece, Lim has reminded us that Anita’s world is one where Private Eyes go One On One with literal Maneaters.
Gino the Manager.
10.1: Finally, the scene we’ve all been waiting for: Full Frontal.
Let’s face it, folks: It had to happen sometime, and we might as well just go ahead and get it out of the way here. What’s interesting to me, though, is that Jess Ruffner decided to adapt the shower scene rather than one of the sixteen bikini car washes that crop up, seemingly at random, over the course of the first book.
11.1: Despite the fact that it’s a dream sequence and, as such, doesn’t really count, this sequence marks the return of
James from Team Rocket Jean-Claude, who is allegedly one of our main characters, despite the fact that he hasn’t appeared in like a year and a half. Also…
…I totally thought Anita was saying “vampires don’t eat soul food,” which, with the exception of Blacula, is also true.
12.1: After two and a half issues of Anita & Co. tromping around in the woods for reasons that remain a mystery even to the Research Department, we’ve finally got a reminder that this book takes place in an actual city–Specifically, as I’ve mentioned before, St. Louis, Missouri.
Speaking of, when Mark Twain, author of what is arguably the greatest American novel, was asked about the proper pronunciation of his home state, he famously remarked that people from Missouri called it “Missour-uh,” non-natives callled it “Missou-ree,” and those who were born there and had no opportunity to leave referred to it as “Misery.”
Slightly less well-known, however, was an additional caveat: “And if you should find yourself reading cheap vampire-themed pseudo-erotica set in the state, then… Jesus, man. Jesus.”
12.3: The fact that Theresa leaves the party and changes out of her gothy fetish dress and into a snappy business suit before she’s decapitated is certainly an important clue to the series’ alleged mystery.
15.2: As a testament to her fame, a list sent to the Research Department by an alert reader lists Laurenn J. Framingham as one of the “CUTEST Paranormal Authors.” Specifically, she’s listed with the note “looks like she could be one of her characters.”
On a COMPLETELY UNRELATED note, here’s one of her characters:
And with that, it’s probably best to call it a night.
Well, die once and then come back. But don’t die anymore after that.
I’m waiting for the part where Anita and Jean-Claude bust up Magneto’s trial.
You no, I always thought “little girl” meant a bit younger than jailbait. Isn’t Nikolaos supposed to be like 8?
Seen above: Jean-Claude prepares for trouble, and makes it double.
Is Nikolaos sprouting breasts? I didn’t realize vampires went through puberty after being children for 400 years or whatever.
And Ron Lim, imitating Brett Booth? My, how the mighty have fallen…
So, how was Mass Effect?
No comment on the “killing blow” line?
So, Why are you oh-so-subtly changing her name? Just for laughs, or did someone actually attempt to nail you for libel (or whatever)? Which would be pretty funny in itself, given that we all know who you’re talking about and they used your quotes for a cover blurb.
There’s more than one blacula. Jefferson Twilight hunts them.
You know, the fact that this series is set in St. Louis is no mystery to me.
It’s a great big small town, and…well, if you’re going to make it interesting, you might as well set some vampire-themed pseudo-erotica there.
Of course, you could set Iron Fist there and make it interesting.
Or a pie eating contest.
When oh when will we see the Anita Blake/Tarot crossover?
Aw, it’s no fun anymore. I just can’t make fun of Ron Lim’s art. He drew X-Men 2099! And some Infinity stuff!
I spend more time thinking about Kabuki Quantum Fighter than I ever should. There never was a sequel to that, despite what the end credits lead you to believe.
You know, let’s face it: just about every bad comic can be redeemed if you imagine Sinistar saying the dialog off panel.
Of course, now I’ll be spending the rest of the day going “I HUNGER” at random, damnit. Which will make work interesting.
Great column and all, hilarious as always, but the asterisk doesn’t lead anywhere.
Is it there just to drive me crazy looking for some subtle meaning? What the hell was asterisk-worthy about the eighties?
Other than Members Only jackets with the sleeves pushed up, I mean.
I always enjoy these annotations and I always cringe when I’m reminded they’re set in my hometown. Just some things, though. St. Louis: we don’t know what Coors Light is. This is the land of Bud Light. We have the Clydesdales to prove it.
Also, if you’re in St. Louis, you call it Missour-ee. People not from St. Louis call it Missourah and that’s…that’s terrible.
And…Oooh! Ooh! There are lots of woods just outside the city, so it’s possible…but still stupid.
I’m sorry to nitpick! It’s totally not worth it, but I really, really love St. Louis. Anita Blake on the other hand? Not so much.
Thank you. You made my day with this post.
She could pass for one of her characters, I’ve seen the photos, she’s certainly got the thighs… too bad the rest is goth-wannabe housewife.
God knows that when I wander the aisles of my local bookstore, I always pick and choose based on how cute the author is. I’m not sure I’ve read anything by this Laurenn J. Framingham, though.
Just for laughs?
As for the asterisk, it’s there to denote that I stole that joke from Dave Campbell.
It’s a tad scary how my Googling “Scott O’Connor” in an effort to follow along whilst sagely nodding my head led me to far-right-wing blogs, Buck Rogers novelizations, two ethnic hate sites, Xena, and an article on Irish immigration. (Okay that last one isn’t so farfetched.) So that’s a lesson for me, then: Always use as many search terms as possible!
Also, “Fang face.” Hee. Inspired.
I actually dressed up as Fangface for Halloween one year as a small child.
Wow, Ron Lim did a pretty good job of lowering himself to Brett Booth’s level. Ronnie, how could you?*
*well, for money, that’s how.
heck, I’d do it too.
Clearly Nikolaos needs to guest-star in Iron Fist pronto. If anyone can redeem the blond kung-fu vampire girl with living hair, it’s those guys!
Though I’ll confess I’m not sure why they would bother.
On a completely unrelated note, this is her.
“… everybody’s… favorite Vampire Hunter.”
-Chris Sims, The Invincible Super-Blog
“Laurenn J. Framingham… author of what is arguably the greatest American novel…”
-Chris Sims, The Invincible Super-Blog
“Guilty Pleasures… level of craftsmanship… gets a whole lot better.”
-Chris Sims, The Invincible Super-Blog
What *did* happen to Ron Lim? I loved his work on the Silver Surfer in the 80’s and/or 90’s. The Silver Surfer actually looked silver for once.
Are these comics based directly on the original source material? Because I’ve read complaint after complaint from Anita Blake fans, that the quality of the books has dropped sharply as it progresses…
Oh, it hurts so good…
Why is Laurell K. Hamilton referred to as Laurenn J. Framingham?
TIRED: Laurell K. Hamilton.
WIRED: Laurenn J. Framingham.
Lim did an issue or 2 on Cable and Deadpool. (Sims, no love for this series?)
Also a recent FF mini called Fantastic Five with Tom Defalco. I loved his Silver Surfer stuff!!!
OMIGOD Kabuki. Holy shit that was a great game. That reference made my day.
This post made me weep tears of joy.
You know, I’d begun to suspect for some time that this was the most awesome blog ever, but is always seemed there was something missing…
Kabuki Quantum Fighter reference…check!
There we go. That was the official seal of unsurpassable radness.
Because I scrolled slowly, at first blush, that panel where the Kristen Dunst did the leg sweep looked like she whipped the dude with her hair. Believe me, I love the leg sweep as much as anyone, but that? Would have been awesome.
Sinistar. Marry me?
Is Jean-Claude crimping his hair in that panel with Anita? Would explain why it’s so freakin’ wiry all the damn time!
Full frontal? Pfft… Marvex: Been there, happy to do that at a moment’s notice!
*rip~!* “I AM MARVEX!“
Holy shit on a stick, Kabuki Quantum Fighter?! I thought I was the only one alive who had that crazy game. Not that I was any good at it…
A.R.Yngve, the books don’t just “drop sharply,” gravity decided to kick it into overtime and flatten those bitches after she turned them into a personal psychiatric tour. One has to be curious as to how far Marvel is willing to go with them, as multiple sex partners, succubus powers, and even more sex partners are par for the course after the “drop.” Even Marvel’s so-called “mature readers” line wouldn’t be able to cope.
“Are these comics based directly on the original source material? Because Iâ€™ve read complaint after complaint from Anita Blake fans, that the quality of the books has dropped sharply as it progressesâ€¦”
They are direct adaptations, yes. “The First Death” was an original story, meant to be a prequel.
As someone who was involved in the development of the early books (I was the editor on #1-5), all I can say is that the more control the author wanted, the less control the people working on the book had. And oddly, it was the earlier books (issues #1-3) where the author offered the least input that the fans seem to have the least trouble with.
I’m obviously not permitted to talk about specifics of production, but I will say this: I always felt that the author is extremely out of touch with her fans, and that she has forgotten why people liked her books in the first place. It’s a tragedy, really, because some of the novels (particularly Obsidian Butterfly) are decently done. But the direction in her latest books, combined with the famously adversarial relationship Laurenn J. Flamingham has with the fans who complain about all the sex, makes me wonder how long it’s going to take her to realize that she’s peaked, and in a bad way.
But enough about that… and just to cover myself, these are my own opinions, of course, and do not reflect the opinions of my company, blah blah blah, etc.
From what I’ve seen as a fan of the novels, she’s figured out that 200 pages of sex and 20 pages of story isn’t what we want. I don’t mind porn, but give me something to go with it. Otherwise, I can look for crappy fanfic.
Oh gee, a guest cameo from Sabertooth in the last panel :D
Nickolaos is about twelve actually. And Guilty Pleasures, the book this is all based off of was originally published in 1993. Kristen Dunst hadn’t even made it on the silver screen in Interview with a Vampire yet.
Yes, there is something to be said about moderation of a thing…that said I wish you luck in your flaming, may it put bread on your table.
It pays better than leaving comments on two year-old posts, that’s for sure.
Hey, I just commented on the first annotation I read of yours. I’m suprised after 2 years that you even gave a crap. Still, you don’t get paid to talk about the comics, and yet you do almost faithfully, and I give you kudos on that. I read what you wrote after this and I have to admit, you’re hillarious! What’s worse, is some of the lines you pound into the dirt actually happen in the books, as well as the unecessary narration, I am sad to say. I agree that the adeptation to comic is a bit of a fail, but I’ll stand behind it anyway cause I still love her writing style. But now just for laughs I’m going to have to keep tabs on your sight so I can see what you think of the comic forms of the books I love so much!