Originally published on The Solute

I read Carl Barks’ work voraciously ever since I learned of the existence of the Disney comics and that Gemstone was reviving them in 2003, the year I turned ten. My grandpa and I drove to every comic shop in town to find a copy, starting a tradition we’d continue through my teen years and shift to superheroes and art-comix.

So why am I waiting until four years into this Year of the Month project to dig into his work? Well, 1952 was an unusually high point in Barks’ career. His most famous creation, Uncle…

Originally published on The Solute

This is original artwork by Carl Barks, who created the Uncle Scrooge comics. He’s considered a bit of a genius.

— The Last Days of Disco

If John Stanley’s the unsung hero of the kid-oriented humor comics of the Golden Age, maybe that’s because Carl Barks has taken up all the space as the big fish in that small pond. He has a bit of a leg up on Stanley, since he spent his career working for one of the biggest media empires known to man and Stanley’s most famous work was based on an…

Originally published on The Solute

For a long time, I was sure I was a fan of Old Hollywood musicals, until I realized I really meant I was just a fan of this one.

On paper, Singin’ in the Rain doesn’t seem like it has much chance of both transcending and making a case for the whole genre. It has so many of the same foibles as they all do — The songs are scattered apparently at random. They have approximately jack squat to do with the plot, and they’re spaced out so haphazardly that sometimes you forget you’re watching…

Originally published on The Solute

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Hitman’s balance of the silly and the deadly serious tipped more towards comedy in the first third of its run, but shit starts getting real around the time of Who Dares Wins. McCrea keeps right up with Ennis, as his artwork becomes steadily more realistic from here to the end of the series, with some images giving his characters all the detail and expressiveness of live actors.

The bill finally comes due for Tommy and Natt’s friendly fire incident, and it’s a hefty one. The bodies emerge out of the…

Originally published on The Solute

A year ago, I talked about the paradoxes that drive The Boys author Garth Ennis’s work, and there’s no better example than Hitman. This is a story about the deadly and inescapable consequences of violence that also has its hero mow down the population of a small country in ever more improbably hilarious ways. (Ennis has said his first run on Marvel’s The Punisher was primarily influenced by Itchy and Scratchy, and it’s easy to see that same sense of cartoon mayhem here.)

It’s exhaustingly edgy in that very ’90s way, and yet it cares…

Originally published on The Solute

Yasujirō Ozu has earned his place in film history as the most serene of directors, telling subtle stories of everyday joys and sorrows with (and, let’s be honest, requiring) incredible patience — movies like Tokyo Story, Late Spring, Good Morning, and the rest. So what if I were to tell you that the best film I’ve ever seen from him, maybe one of the best I’ve seen from anybody anywhere, was a tense crime thriller that comes and goes in barely an hour?

That Night’s Wife was made when Ozu was still young, still establishing…

The Big Trail was the beginning and the end of a lot of things. It was John Wayne’s first starring role, and it tanked his career so hard that no one questioned John Ford’s often-told story of “discovering” him on the set of Stagecoach nine years later. It brought the Western into the sound era and promptly killed that off too. And decades before Cinemascope, it was a 70mm widescreen epic that so few theaters were willing to buy the equipment to show that it lost millions of dollars and killed off the entire format.

In other words, this is…

Originally published on The Solute

The debate over the greatest silent comedian shows no sign of going away any time soon, but it’s always been too two-sided to tell the whole story. Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton have been duking it out for the title for the past century and more, but have you considered taking a third option?

That’s obviously a bolder claim than I should really be making, but based just on my Letterboxd diary, I have to give Harold Lloyd the edge for making two movies I gave 5/5 stars (The Freshman and Speedy) to Chaplin and…

Originally published on The Solute

1996 was one heck of a year for American roots music. You had Johnny Cash recording Unchained, possibly the greatest album of his long, long career, with Rick Rubin and Tom Petty. Outlaw country legend Steve Earle telling the world I Feel Alright after a long bout of drug addiction. Wilco announcing their arrival as a major player on the scene with sophomore album Being There. Jon Spencer and the Blues Explosion’s punk, techno, and blues-tinged rock album Now I Got Worry and their collaboration with the great R.L. Burnside on his punk, techno, and…

Originally published on The Solute

It’s one of the moldiest old clichés in holiday movies to describe such and such a plot point as “a Christmas miracle” (or, if you’re Homestar Runner, a “Decemberween Mackerel”). A Charlie Brown Christmas avoids it. Maybe that’s because it’d be redundant. The special’s existence is a Christmas miracle in and of itself.

It does everything an animated special should never do. It has a nonprofessional cast, some of them not even old enough to read their scripts. It doesn’t just have an explicitly Christian message — it stops dead so a character can literally…

Sam Scott

Features writer at Looper and staff writer and editor at The Solute twitter.com/BurgundySuit

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