Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Absence, Archie and Shameless Self-Promotion

My poor blog, left unattended for the last 2 months. If there were an SPCA for blogs, mine would probably get taken away.

It's not like I don't have a good excuse though, most of that time was consumed with finally releasing "Aim for the Roses" and putting on a release show at the Planetarium in Vancouver. After 2.5 years of obsessive work, it was a huge relief to finally put the record out there.

If you would allow me a moment of self-promotion, The Vancouver Province said "Aim for the Roses" is "one of the most original releases this year " "There's nothing around now remotely like it" "Ambitious, unusual...Adventurous", Scene and Heard said "Aim for the Roses is a deceptive release. If you were to only give the first few minutes of every song a listen you wouldn’t, couldn’t enjoy what Haney is trying to do. Haney is experimenting with what making music is.", Discorder thinks "...for the optimistic and adventurous, this dark trip down memory lane will definitely leave you with something to ponder." and the MidNorth Monitor effused "...a hauntingly distinctive composition, which not only lingers in the mind of the listener well after the music stops, but forms a critical relationship between the story of Ken Carter and the sound drawn from the double bass."  "Eerily hypnotic...multi-layered double bass tracks embrace the journey of one man's dream into a colourful explosion of seeming defeat."

My favourite review/article is this one, by Vancouver music writer Adrian Mack, which also supplied the best quote about the record: "It's an extraordinary achievement, not only because it works, but because Haney has struck such a wholly original middle ground between the avant-garde and lowbrow '70s Canadiana. But most significantly, Aim for the Roses has a big heart."

Incidentally, you can buy "Aim for the Roses" on iTunes, if you're so inclined.

A lot of people have erroneously assumed that I made the record because I am a Ken Carter fanatic, or a daredevil junkie. I was glad that Adrian heard the real story: The story about the price that often accompanies a dream, the story of a man standing at the crossroads where he either gives up on his dream or follows it to the very end regardless of the cost.  

This all coincided with the first couple of issue of "Life With Archie", the new magazine-format series that features two possible futures for Ol' Arch: One where he marries Betty and one where he marries Veronica. "Life With Archie" is easily my favourite comic of 2010, and it is worth a read by anyone who grew up with the Riverdale gang.

The first couple of issues hit me in a very personal way, since one of the main themes is an examination of the high cost of following your dreams and learning to find the balance between hope and optimism and the reality that things may just not work out the way you want them to. It's like I had a bulls-eye on my psyche that Paul Kupperberg zeroed in on. This review I did of "Life With Archie" #2 for First Comics News gets deeper into this, for those with an interest.

The last few months also saw the release of Veronica #202, the much-hyped debut of Kevin Keller. Not only has it been an incredible success for the House of A, it's also a clear direction marker for the future of New Riverdale (my review for FCN gets way more into this). Kevin Keller has proven so popular that he is getting his own 4 issue limited series in 2011.

While this is a good thing on one hand, it is also cause for great concern. Kevin's high profile and rapid ascension in the Riverdale hierarchy has me very worried about Adam Chisholm. Superstar Archie writer/artist Dan Parent has previously claimed that Kevin's light brown curly/wavy hair was not designed to undermine Adam's most relevant identifier, and I guess we'll take him at his word (despite a nagging suspicion that Mr. Chisholm is being edged out). I spotted Adam in Veronica 202, and while Dan couldn't outright confirm this for me (clearly due to prejudices held by editorial towards certain third-tier characters) he didn't outright deny that it was Adam either (check it out here).

The quest to reclaim the traditional newsstand continues with the much-ballyhoed Obama and Palin story, which I'm curious to read. Last fall I expressed worry that Archie editorial would over-do the 'stunt' issues, but they've walked the line pretty well. The amount of media attention the announcement of the Obama/Palin issues received has more than justified the whole exercise, hopefully there's also a good story behind the covers.

Looking ahead, we'll be discussing the termination of the "Dynamic New Look", examining the "New Kids" at Riverdale High and keeping up with "Life With Archie". We'll also be looking at the Archie Americana series and tracking the development of "Betty or Veronica" in 2011.

When "Life With Archie" #1 came out, I predicted that in 2011 Archie Comics would tweak the dynamic in Riverdale and we would have a year of Betty versus Veronica. When Archie announced at the NYCC that Michael Uslan would be penning a new series called "Betty or Veronica" I gloated for weeks that I was, in fact right.

So with my little hiatus done, you can once again count on this blog to supply the best and most obsessive analysis and insight into Archie comics.

Requiem Daredevil.