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Friday, February 6, 2009

Meanwhile, I'm totally falling behind on finding a real job...

So obviously a new part of my ongoing series didn't go up today (yesterday, from the perspective of when you read this), but it will definitely go up over the weekend. Obviously getting immersed in the ideas of Scott McCloud is one of the larger projects I've undertaken on Da Blog thus far, although today the major problem was when Order of the Stick updated and I spent a hefty amount of time catching up on the forums, which were down for an unforeseen span the last time the strip updated. Honestly, figuring out what McCloud actually means has left me so disillusioned with the state of webcomics now that I'm actually starting to develop more of an appreciation for the position of one John Solomon. But that's neither here nor there.

Starting next week, the Saturday Sandsday could update as early as 9:15 PM PT the Friday before, because of the possibility of actually getting sleep in if I post the strip, and thus go to bed, early enough.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In retrospect, this probably could have been predicted. Also, kinda cool web site. Like a bonus RID.

So I am planning on releasing two parts of the "Webcomics' Identity Crisis" series tomorrow (Friday), but to make up for today, not Tuesday. I probably should just give up and make it a Monday-Wednesday-Friday series, but new developments keep coming in the areas I'm planning on getting to. Doing the requisite reading-up and research on Scott McCloud's views is the hardest part.

I bought Reinventing Comics today, but I'm not happy about it. It was the only copy left at the store (the third time I've been to this particular Barnes and Noble), so I was antsy about stealing it from someone else who might want to buy it; I didn't have much use for it as a continuing resource (though I may refer back to it on later projects); and I didn't like frittering away an entire $25 gift card on it. (Now that I've been reading it, I have another problem: the paper, unlike my copy of Understanding Comics, is really cheap and dehydrates my hands. This is not worth the same price as Understanding.) I ain't returning it at this point, but at some point I probably will sell it. HarperPerennial's own site was the only place online with any interior items from the book, and only bits and pieces of it at that; at this point, given the point of the second part of the book, McCloud should consider just making the whole book available from his own web site for free or at least a reduced price.

Komix! has been one of my more consistent advertisers (it's at least bid on all three of my square boxes), and I finally decided to check it out this week. It's a "webcomics aggregator" that allows one to "subscribe" to one's favorite webcomics; I was attracted to its RSS function, and signed up because of the wording of the description in the FAQ, and then realized that the RSS-feed was comic specific and I didn't need to subscribe to read each comic's feed, only to track my current progress through the archives. Which, from an RSS perspective, seems kinda pointless.

But while this obviously makes it easier to keep track of the RSS-free strips I'm preparing to review (and could provide Sandsday with a stopgap RSS feed down the line), strips like 8-Bit Theater and Sluggy Freelance aren't quite off the hook, because Komix makes a point of adding one new tracked strip every day and the number of tracked strips it has indicate it's maybe less than a year old. Oh, and "there's nothing else quite like this out there" (though I doubt that; this site serves a similar if not identical purpose). Sluggy especially gets little to no slack because there is no archive page for today's strip (only the front page), which means Komix is perpetually a day behind.

(Komix also goes so far as to have discussion boards for "every comic and strip", which positively scares me...)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Looks like if I AM going to make up for Tuesday, tomorrow's potential "split posts" may be my best shot.

Incidentially, do you want to know what happened on Monday?

Something I've been agonizing over for months?

Something with big-time impact on Da Blog and the web site?


That only took, what, four months? But they're ALL there, too.

This has impact on the 100 Greatest Movies Project, my street sign gallery, my plans for the lead-up to my birthday, and much more, that will start playing out after the "Webcomics' Identity Crisis" series is over.

(Also coming up at that time? I need to do my monthly OOTS post - which may be part of the series - AND there's something happening - or NOT happening, rather - at Ctrl+Alt+Del that's worthy of attention.)

Webcomics' Identity Crisis, Part II: A Brief History of Comics

Blog note: The new "comic books" tag is also getting applied to Monday's Part I. Today's discussion will actually have more to do with comic books than webcomics. Part III will tie it all back in with webcomics. Also note that this part is almost entirely based on memory and you should consult "real" sources; even Wikipedia is more reliable than this post.

For much of the twentieth century in the United States, comics had two major forms of distribution: the comic strip, usually printed on a daily basis in the newspaper, and the comic book, distributed as an entire magazine and until the 1970s or so appearing on newsstands alongside "real" magazines. During the 1990s a third distribution avenue arose: the webcomic, distributed (as the name implies) on the web.

For many in the print comic field this may seem almost blasphemous, or at least it would have seemed such a decade ago. To compare the twaddle being released on the web by people who aren't good enough to make it in "real" print comics, to the likes of Peanuts and Watchmen? But for reasons I'll return to for the rest of this series, there are some very good reasons to rate comics on the web on the same level as comics in the newspaper and comics in magazines, if only because they are using the same art form.

The modern comic strip was born late in the nineteenth century, though it had been evolving long before that in the form of editorial cartoons. (I don't count editorial cartoons as anything other than a subset of comic strips.) Somewhat arbitrarily, most histories of comics as a medium begin with Richard Felton Outcault's "The Yellow Kid", a key figure in the New York newspaper wars between the World (owned by Joseph Pulitzer) and the Journal (owned by William Randolph Hearst), getting his start at the former and eventually swiped away for the latter. (Those two papers went through various permutations before merging in 1966 and folding in 1967.) The Kid was - at least in America - one of the first continuing characters in comics, his feature one of the first ongoing fictional comic features, and most importantly, his move from the World to the Journal demonstrated the value a comic strip could have to a paper at a time when there were still more papers in a given market than you could shake a stick at. (Really, the newspaper industry has been dying for a long time, well before the Internet came along.)

So new comics popped up all over the country in newspapers desperate to stoke sales, including The Katzenjammer Kids, which introduced the sequential format and broke what we consider the "comic strip" away from the editorial cartoon altogether, and Mutt and Jeff, which was such a hit in San Francisco (where it had also made a move from one paper to another, Hearst-owned paper) it was picked up for syndication and seen all over the country. Naturally, other highlights of the comic strips swiftly made the move to national distribution. (Note: I don't know if M&J was the first comic strip to be syndicated, or even the one that started the trend. That's a startlingly under-studied part of comics history. But Wikipedia does say that its creator was "the first big celebrity of the comics industry", so that's why I'm singling it out.)

Early comic strips were either what we would call "gag-a-day" today, or in rarer cases (like Little Nemo in Slumberland and Krazy Kat), travels through bizarre landscapes. During the 1920s both types gave way to the adventure comic, spearheaded by comics such as Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon, which could tell a continuing story day by day for months at a time. As these were even better at drawing people's eyes to newspapers, since people had to come back to see what happened next, soon adventure strips were all the rage in comics.

Not long after the first comic strips came the first comic strip collections, which took a bunch of daily strips from a certain period of time and bound them all together in a book. As the story goes, someone at the Eastern Color printing company got the bright idea to take several different comics and publish a few of each in a single book. After experiments in distributing the books through mail-in coupon programs and department stores, in 1934 Famous Funnies first appeared on newsstands, and the modern comic book was born. It wasn't long before people got the bright idea to include new material in the comic books, and before long someone by the name of Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson brought in several people to create enough new material to fill an entire comic book without a single reprint, called New Fun. Thus was born the company now known as DC Comics.

I should point out that in these early days in the mid-30s, comic books were not that different from where webcomics is now. The full page of the comic book was the original infinite canvas; every month you had the full page that was then the standard for Sunday strips, without any additional daily strips to muck up the waterworks. What's more, you could tell a story for several pages at a time (usually six to eight) every month, partly making up for the lack of storytelling over the course of the week, or at least on a weekly basis. On the other hand, having your work distributed in the likes of New Fun or its successors New Comics (later New Adventure Comics and then just Adventure Comics) or Detective Comics was considered the fate of those who couldn't get work in real newspaper comic strips.

Such was what initially happened to the proposed comic strip from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster about an alien from another planet who ran around fighting crime in an outlandish costume while maintaining a mild-mannered secret identity as a newspaper reporter. Unable to get a newspaper or syndicate to bite on the fantastic premise, they took their creation to DC, and even there it sat in the slush pile until an editor noticed it and made it the lead feature in the first issue of the company's latest title, Action Comics. Almost instantly, Superman was a runaway success that spawned hordes of other costumed crime fighters (including no small number at DC itself), and helped comic books climb out of the shadows of their newspaper cousins. (And ironically, led to Siegel and Shuster getting the comic strip gig they'd wanted all along.)

With adventure strips taking readers to lushly drawn faraway places and battles with pirates and evil overlords in the newspapers, and costumed crime fighters becoming an outlet for readers' fantasies and beating up the boogeymen of the day (initially corrupt businessmen, later Nazis) in the (cheap as all get out) comic books, this was the period known as the Golden Age of Comics.

But while World War II helped bring comics' popularity to even higher heights by giving its heroes easy villains to fight, it also helped mark the beginning of the end of the Golden Age, thanks to wartime restrictions on paper - though the changes continued later into the 1940s. Newspapers reduced the size of comic strips and replaced the full-page Sunday strip with a half-page; syndicates introduced a format that allowed Sunday strips to be reduced even further, by mandating that the first two panels be easily removed (resulting in a strip taking up one-third of a page) and mandatory panel borders be drawn that allowed the entire strip, including first two panels, to take up two lines on a fourth of the page. Ideally, if every panel was roughly square, the strip could even be run down the side. Many strips also suffered the indignation of mandatory panel borders on daily strips that forced every strip to be four square panels that could be rearranged. This effectively killed the adventure strips that thrived on freedom to roam and giving a sense of wonder, though most of the big ones stuck around, some into the present day. In 1950, Peanuts started, and would ultimately point the way forward for comic strips; gag-a-day comics proliferated on the comics pages and do so to this day.

As for comic books, the end of World War II - even with the rise of communism - meant superheroes were no longer in the cultural zeitgeist, and most of them quietly fell away. Comic books entered the only real period in their history where superheroes were not the most popular genre, as crime, romance, and horror comics started dominating newsstands. One company, EC Comics, got rich with horror comics such as the original Tales from the Crypt, but their stories helped bring the whole party to a halt, with the 1954 publication of Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, which charged comic books with corrupting the youth and leading them to delinquency, including the disturbing images in EC's horror comics and perhaps the first glimpse of the modern-day Internet meme that Batman and Robin might be homosexuals. Threatened with Senate action, the comics industry devised a ridiculously restrictive code of censorship known as the Comics Code, and announced that any comic had to be approved by the Comics Code Authority and receive a sticker indicating such on its cover if it wanted newsstands' trust that no objectionable material was in there.

The whole thing drove EC out of business with the exception of Mad, which switched to becoming technically a regular old magazine and became one of the cultural touchstones of the 1960s. Left without virtually anything to publish that would pass Comics Code muster, comic books, led by DC, ran back to superheroes, which offered simple good-vs.-evil morality tales that were easier to pass the Comics Code's bar. At first, this meant DC and no one else. But one of the imitators of the original Golden Age run, which had stumbled along at the edge of bankruptcy and had become reliant on DC for its distribution, suddenly hit a run of successes with deconstructions of the superhero like the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, and the modern Marvel Comics was born. This period also saw the first birth pangs of modern geeky comics fandom, who saw fit to label this era the Silver Age. (Because you can't just call it the second Golden Age, you have to show off how deep your knowledge of Greek mythology is...)

The Comics Code left mainstream comic books ridiculously ill-positioned to capitalize on the cultural turmoil of the 1960s. (Thanks to politically charged strips like Pogo, comic strips were slightly better prepared.) It also created a market for "underground" independent "comix" that were free from the Code's draconian rules and were thus free to cover a wider array of subject matter. American mainstream comic books did not overcome the Code and catch up to American culture until the early 1970s, when Marvel, tasked by the US government to create some anti-drug issues of Spider-Man, saw them rejected by the Authority for daring to even mention drugs. Marvel released the issues without Code approval, and the Authority was left with egg on its face. DC also broke new ground with a series teaming conservative superhero Green Lantern with liberal Green Arrow in an examination of all the problems America faced. The Code was forced to revise its guidelines, and by the early part of this decade even Marvel had dropped the Code entirely.

(Note: Many in comic book fandom use the term "Bronze Age" to describe comics published after a number of shifts around 1969-1973. I think the spot that's closest in spirit to the division of the Golden and Silver Ages, at least in terms of overall industry sales and the popularity of superheroes, is a decline in sales related to an ongoing recession and the shift in distribution paradigms below, in the mid-to-late 70s.)

Later in the 70s, comics were effectively forced off newsstands and into stores devoted to selling only comic books. Comics left the newsstand distribution system and moved to what became known as the "direct market", originally used to describe a middleman-free system where comic shop owners bought their comics direct from the publisher. After a period of declining sales, what was left of comics fandom had effectively been thinned out to an almost exclusively geek crowd. Eventually the middleman-free system would evolve into a system involving a number of comics-specific distribution companies, eventually thinned out to one with an effective monopoly on mainstream comics distribution, Diamond Comic Distributors.

The new comic shops were places of superhero fandom (DC and Marvel, often now written by people raised on Silver Age comics), by superhero fandom (think the "Comic Book Guy" on The Simpsons), and for superhero fandom. Nonetheless, if you had a comic book and you wanted to be distributed, until this decade the comic shops were the way to go. Some in the business worked on the concept of the "graphic novel", attempting to liberate the comic book from its magazine origins and write longer works in comic form, helping to inspire things like Understanding Comics. Despite the ghettoization of comics, they enjoyed a brief resurgence in the 1990s as a fad linked to stories of the high prices commanded by classic Golden Age comics, bringing hordes of people into the comic book stores looking to buy a retirement fund. Ignoring rules of supply and demand, Marvel and DC resorted to all sorts of ridiculous gimmicks to sell massive numbers of comics - then the bottom fell out and took the comics industry down so hard Marvel declared bankruptcy.

By the mid-to-late 90s, when comics started appearing on the web, both of the existing types of comics were either in ongoing or entering states of flux. The comic strip has not changed much from the example set by Peanuts of simple, gag-a-day storylines; daily newspaper comic strips with ongoing storylines are the exception and not the rule. Part of the vitriol directed at Garfield is that it is perceived as further imbecilizing the comics pages by encouraging easy-pitch formulaic premises produced in assembly line manner. Comics such as Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes attempted to raise the quality of the comics pages, but little real change has happened.

And it's getting worse. What comics have anything even approaching being memorable since the 1989 start of Dilbert? The Boondocks? Maybe critically-acclaimed "quirky" strips like Pearls Before Swine or Get Fuzzy? So many of the comics lining the comics pages these days seem to just be unmemorable copies of one another over and over. Imagine what an impact Penny Arcade might have had in newspapers, how different it might have been just by rising above the sea of mediocrity - or maybe it would have been lost in the shuffle and never had anywhere near the impact it did. Or both. Newspapers have always relied on comics as a way to sell newspapers, but just as the Internet started challenging their dominion in this decade, the comics they had always carried could be found on the web as well, and most of them aren't worth reading anyway. Comics can't save newspapers this time.

At the same time, the distribution system of comic books in place for 30 years is starting to crack. Graphic novels and collections of the monthly comics (and even the monthly comics themselves) have started to crack bookstores (if slowly), and the rising popularity of Japanese manga since the 90s have turned bookstores into a primary place to get the comics. I'll expand on that later in the series in Part III or IV with a discussion of a recent development at Diamond with potential for great impact on webcomics. For now know this: old monthly comic books increasingly look like relics from a bygone era.

Between these developments, by 2020 webcomics could be the only first-run distribution mechanism for comics that I mentioned at the start of this post, and one of two with graphic novels. Figuring out what to do with that possibility looming is part of the point of this series.

Then there's all the issues of creator control and creator's rights that afflicts both comic strips and comic books. In addition to all the size and layout constraints, comic strips are a very regimented world where you are basically a hired hand and take a lot of guff from syndicates who are afraid of potentially offending anyone, and where the syndicate reaps most of the benefits of your work. The rights of the creator has been a big issue since at least the 70s, and in the 80s and 90s some cartoonists such as Bill Watterson made inroads on creative and financial control of their work (oddly, Jim Davis of all people had a lot of success with the latter), but Eric Burns(-White) suggested back in 2004 that they may have actually hurt the cause of creator's rights in the long run, simply because they ended their strips after only ten years or so instead of continuing for decades, meaning they sent the message that giving cartoonists what they wanted wasn't worth the trouble. One may surmise the flip side of this: wannabe edgy cartoonists going to the web instead. (Of course, only two years later Diesel Sweeties was distributed to newspapers by United Features in a deal that meant little more than a little extra work for R. Stevens, who merely wrote a parallel strip - a sign of just how far in the dumper newspapers had already fallen.)

In comic books, the problem is more with the creators of Golden Age properties and the like; you may have heard about the legal troubles DC has had with Siegel, Shuster, and their estates over various Superman rights since the 70s. Comic book writers and artists are even more hired hands in superhero comics, effectively writing what amounts to fanfic. Once again people have been pushing for more control over what they create, and early in the 90s several superstar Marvel artists left to form their own company, Image, that would serve merely as a publishing platform for comics owned by their creators. The problem, as we'll get to later, is that only a few publishers are able to make inroads in Diamond's catalog and while financial success isn't exactly a sane goal in traditional American monthly comic books at all, it's pretty much a fool's errand if you don't work for DC or Marvel (meaning you make superhero comics), and hard to even get started (harder now - again, for reasons we'll get to) if you don't align yourself with one of a handful of other companies, maybe five or so, and that includes DC and Marvel.

So that's another reason we could be left with webcomics and graphic novels by 2020: an artist (here used as a broad term) would be insane to deal with the antiquated ways of old.

This part would serve as a great lead-in to the first current topic that inspired this series. But first, we need to take a detour through Scott McCloud's vision of webcomics to figure out where we are and where we could be going. And as I write this, I'm not sure which I'm going to do first, and I may do them simultaneously.

An open complaint to Blogger.

This may just be me and my computer, but I don't like an autosave feature that causes the editor to freeze up every thirty seconds and forces me to wait while the letters I just typed actually appear and I can move on. Very annoying.

Random Internet Discovery of the Week, plus an explanation

More phobias than you can shake a stick at!

Proving once again that even with my fun stuff I work on the wrong things, I didn't get in Part II of my ongoing series today - well, yesterday(my typical webcomic day!) because I was distracted by another project. This part is fairly involved, and is going to be written mostly off memory, and I'm going to try to get it in tomorrow - well, today - plus Part III to make up for today - well, yesterday - but for all I know this could be my platform reviews all over again...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another thing about the Super Bowl that NO ONE has noticed...

Everywhere I've gone, starting with the announcing team itself, people have lamented that if James Harrison's long touchdown run to end the first half was called down at the 1, time would have run out and the play would have been for nothing.

Um... has anyone actually seen the play, and watched the clock, and the exact moment when the clock ran out?

THERE WOULD STILL BE ONE OR TWO SECONDS ON THE CLOCK! Watch that clock in the video below!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Webcomics' Identity Crisis, Part I: Understanding Understanding Comics

Understanding Comics is incredibly addictive. I bought it on a gift card on Saturday despite having already read it cover-to-cover, mostly as a reference for my own ideas, and proceeded to read it cover-to-cover all over again. Oddly, I've been to two different Barnes and Nobles three different times, and the latter two times both Barnes and Nobles had Understanding Comics and its second sequel, Making Comics, but not the first, Reinventing Comics. As Reinventing is the book I'm most interested in for this weeklong series, as it's the book with Scott McCloud's thoughts on the then-burgeoning form of webcomics, I'm going to see if I can still procure it or at least read it. (Oddly, Reinventing is not even the first hit for its own name on, Making is and Reinventing is third and has no cover image. So basically B&N treats it like the bastard stepchild of the series. But I did see it the first time I peeked into a Barnes and Noble to peek at Understanding, and even read a bit of the beginning...) At some point as well, I want to read other dissections of comics, such as Will Eisner's McCloud-recommended Comics and Sequential Art and anyone following in McCloud's footsteps, just to get more perspectives.

The funny thing about Understanding Comics is that it's not just about comic books, but to some extent or another, about all art forms. And I'm not just talking about Chapter 7, which focuses on McCloud's vision of the creative process for any work of art. As if to prove McCloud's point (and then-novel idea) that comics were just as much an art form as anything else, McCloud discusses comics and other art forms side by side throughout the book. To take one example, part of Chapter 4, mostly a discussion of time in comics, casts the idea of the "motion line" in comics (and later refinements on it) as the answer to the question of motion on a static image some in the "high" visual arts had struggled with early in the twentieth century. But even that is a fairly weak example (and really, McCloud returns to the visual arts in particular throughout the book, as static painting/drawing and comics are cognate art forms (or cognate media), for a reason I'll get to later).

Chapter 2 deconstructs the appeal of the cartoon (distinguished as an artistic style from the medium of comics) as an extention of the reader/viewer, by deconstructing the way we see ourselves, going so far as to completely ignore its ease of drawing, to explain its popularity not only in comics but in any form of animation. Chapter 3 compares the extrapolation of events between panels to the portrayal of events "off-screen" in those same media. In addition to the discussion of motion, Chapter 4 also compares and contrasts the concept of the present "now" with film and television and brings up the specter of "viewer participation" in media of all stripes. Chapters 5 and 6 discuss the very origins of language, and the latter effectively sees comics as a means of returning to the ideal union of words and pictures, and discusses the obstacles facing the genesis of any medium.

If I have an issue with it on first read, it's mostly the clunkiness of the end of each chapter (except the first) and the end of the book. The "recaps", perhaps inspired by the "hourglass" model of long-form argument taught in English class, are clunky and come off as unnecessary. This is why I have problems properly wrapping up my posts sometimes, because the main, predominant form of ending posts of the lengths I sometimes write is one that doesn't appeal to me and I don't think I've found anything better. (If anything, McCloud gets worse at this as he goes along; other than Chapter One, Chapter Two is the least clunky chapter ending.)

There are also some problems with the content, though I think I would have fewer of them than some others would. McCloud distinguishes between six different types of panel transitions but comes close to throwing out two of them: "moment-to-moment" is really a slow "action-to-action", and the "non-sequitur" may not even exist, since either multiple non-sequiturs in a row become scene-to-scene, subject-to-subject, or even aspect-to-aspect, or a single non-sequitur that's continued from is really a form of scene-to-scene. I might add that aspect-to-aspect is arguably a form of subject-to-subject that's somewhat arbitrarily distinguished from it mostly in order to distinguish Japanese comics from their Western counterparts.

Also, I have some trouble with McCloud's six-step creative process, especially the specifics of the third part, the "idiom", which is never quite clarified as well as it could be. The way I see it, what McCloud means by "idiom" is all the stuff that can be used to describe the work other than the singular, basic "point" of it. To say that something "has a kissing scene" is different than to say it's "about kissing". But I wouldn't be surprised if others have different interpretations, and especially, the distinction between that, "structure", "craft", and "surface" can be somewhat unclear, especially for non-comics media - and if you do distinguish "idiom" from the other three, you then have to distinguish it from "idea/purpose" and "form"! And I would suggest that "idiom" sometimes (especially in other media) goes hand-in-hand with "craft". I often write stuff with no attention paid at all to "structure", and let the ideas flow onto the page as they may. I decide the "surface" aspects will come out naturally as I write (and so I rarely edit) as well, so "structure" and "surface" come out naturally following "craft".

Oh, and the "backwards" development of most comics artists may no longer be 100% true simply because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of Understanding Comics: since the book was released, people have gotten more self-conscious about the process. And despite its nature as a dissertation on all art, I don't really see it as doubling as a manual for designing for the computer the way some people do...

But again, I came for McCloud's thinking in Reinventing Comics which oddly, made him a god in webcomics but - by his own reckoning - tarnished his Understanding-built reputation and made him a pariah in the print field. And there is, from what I hear, plenty to deconstruct in Reinventing Comics. But first, I want to point out the irony in that Reinventing is de facto an attempt at doing for webcomics within the broader comics field what Understanding did for comics within the broader domain of all the arts: defend the former as a legitimate part of the latter.

In Part II, I'll start examining the similarities and differences between webcomics and their print counterparts and begin examining the state of webcomics at the present time. As the series goes along, I hope to examine what McCloud got right that may not have been recognized yet - and what he got wrong and why.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Quick thoughts on the Super Bowl

  • If I were putting together NBC's opening sequence, I would have made a few more changes to the opening song. For example, instead of "waiting all day", how about "waiting all year"? And how can you pass up the fact that "forty-three" rhymes with "NBC" and so could have been inserted into the song with few other changes? You won't get anything like this until Super Bowl 70!
  • I hate to disagree with Roger Goodell, but this game did not top last year's game. This game does have the advantage over Super Bowl XLII, and XXXVIII, that the first half was not boring as hell. But while this game did produce some landmark, all-time Super Bowl plays, those individual marks can't really compare with a great game - this game was just like any other Super Bowl from a pre-game angle standpoint, unlike XLII, and the Cinderella team didn't win, which hurts its standing - in fact I was rooting for Pittsburgh to pull out the win just because it would have been too bizarre otherwise. There are in fact some similarities with XXXVIII, another game people wondered about being the best Super Bowl ever. One of these days I need to go over the game film, or at least the NFL Films distillations, or even compact game stories, of every Super Bowl and rank the greatest ever. FSN's "The Sports List" did a ranking probably around the time of XL, maybe even before XXXVIII. Obviously, that list needs a serious update.
  • Is it too early to start talking about Ben Roethlisberger's Hall of Fame credentials? Remember, in the lead-up to the Super Bowl people were talking about Kurt Warner's Hall of Fame credentials now that he had reached three Super Bowls with two different teams. Now Roethlisberger has been to one fewer Super Bowl and won two, becoming just the tenth QB in NFL history to do so, and not completely throwing up in the second. Not to mention his leadership in the regular season. If there's a knock against him it's that he's leading a team composed of a bunch of parts that might win Super Bowls without him, but then again that was the knock against Tom Brady for a while as well. If he so far as makes one more Super Bowl, is he a shoo-in for the Hall? And is it possible that his final drive in this game, which had Steve Young positively salivating on ESPN's NFL Primetime, is the one that puts him in the Hall?
  • Speaking of ESPN, and lists, about your "Top 10" Super Bowl plays: Your own analysts, who clamored for Manning-to-Tyree to beat out Roethlisberger-to-Holmes for #1, are correct. What you should have done was rank the Harrison INT return significantly further back, in the middle or even near the back, since it was one of those sideshow gimmicky plays that come out of the blue every once in a while in the Super Bowl. By ranking it #3, you forced the Holmes play to #1 to avoid consecutive plays from the same game. Probably the main reason you rated the Holmes play #1 was because it actually scored the game-winning TD, but it arguably makes Manning-to-Tyree greater that it attained such greatness without actually scoring. (Incidentially, initially I rendered "Holmes" as "Burress". What does that tell you?)
  • Am I the only one who noticed that the clock briefly stopped at two minutes left in the game when Roethlisberger barely got a play off, then started again as the clock operator realized there was a play going on, and the discrepancy was never corrected? How might that have influenced Arizona's final drive? The game-ending fumble would have only occured with two seconds or so left on the clock! You think Arizona would be working a bit quicker? And am I the only one who thinks that on the play to the 5 on Pittsburgh's final drive, the main reason the Steelers called a timeout was that the receiver (I think it was Holmes) was a little lazy getting back to the line of scrimmage, as though he didn't quite realize the situation? The Steelers might have needed that timeout to set up a field goal with a few seconds left on the clock if the Cardinals had been able to get a stop. I think there was one other "Am I the only one who noticed that" in there, but damned if I can remember it now.
I have plenty to say about the ads in a later post, where I hope to hand out awards for the ads, and some comments on NBC's modified banner for the game, which is also an opportunity to talk about ESPN's new tennis banner it broke out at the Aussie Open. There were a LOT of great ads in the second half of this game. Lineal titles updated for the offseason.