Thursday, March 21, 2019

A New Publisher Named AWA/So That's What Bill Jemas Has Been Up To!

Back in October of 2018 I talked about how someone had given Bill Jemas a lot of money. Jemas of course has been in the realm of comics for decades, helping revitalize Marvel in the early 2000's when he was in charge with some great ideas (the Ultimate line) and some stinkers he wishes people would forget ("Marville," for sure). He also later on did the Double Take comics I at first hated, then liked, then found out were cancelled. Jemas has a number of people who love him as well as folk who absolutely hate him. In October of 2018 it was evident investors had given him a lot of money and rumors swirled of other comic-pros he maybe had scooped-up. He essentially said to everyone to check-back in 2019 and all went silent. Until now.

"The New York Times," just had an article this week talking about none other than Bill Jemas, plus his friend Axel Alonso (who either left or was forced out of Marvel a bit ago depending who you ask) and Jon Miller, a man most notable for brokering the deal Mark Millar made with Netflix to adapt his comic-properties into shows. These three are behind Artists, Writers, and Artisans, or AWA. Jemas and Alonso both have a lot of connections so they've got some big names working on the handful of comics they've announced they'll be putting-out (although Comicsbeat observed on many titles who the artist may be isn't noted yet). J. Michael Straczynski who wrote that stellar, "Supreme Power," comic and a lot of trash is returning to comics for the first time in 3 years to do an interconnected superhero universe, and there will be standalone titles too. Those will be coming too from Peter Milligan, Christa Faust, Michael Moreci, and Frank Cho (yes, he'll be doing his usual Cho-thing with a series about well-drawn sexy women who compete in athletic events to be Queen of the Galaxy, or such).
Frank Cho's going to be Frank Cho.
Drawing to some degree from the early Vertigo years (Alonso worked there before Marvel) and Image's structure and philosophy, creators will own a stake in their projects (how much of a stake is unclear as these aren't fully creator-owned), and there is a Creative Council (a bit like Image's board, I suppose) which has talent such as, "Screenwriter and director Reginald Hudlin, the novelists Margaret Stohl and Gregg Hurwitz...the comic book writer Garth Ennis," and Straczynski is on the council as well as he orchestrates whatever super-hero universe he has in mind. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those on the council have their own projects in the works for AWA as well.

Jon Miller's presence in all this makes it clear that AWA isn't setting out solely to create comics. I imagine the company's intention is to make these works as a proof-of-concept of assorted IPs that could then be turned into movies or television shows. After all, I don't think it is too cynical to assume that Jemas and friends were given a ton of money by investors for purposes besides simply making (hopefully good) comics. Jemas has overseen a lot of comic-book-related-endeavors. Some have been good, some bad, but always intriguing. Alonso has a great degree of experience as an editor and plenty of chums too, so between them and Miller clearly a lot is going to be happening in the near future with AWA. Whether this all turns out to be highly successful or is a colossal failure I of course am unable to predict, but with Jemas involved it's sure to be interesting. I look forward to when AWA's first comics come out and I am able to read them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Jonathan Hickman is Returning to Marvel and I Have One Main Thought

Marvel's first teaser found in comics one week,
followed by the Hickman one in comics a week later.
Jonathan Hickman is of course a great writer whose stuff I have often enjoyed. He did a great deal of stuff for Marvel Comics before leaving to return to indie-stuff where he got his start. Marvel has been hinting at a new comic series and now has confirmed that Hickman will be writing it (probably something related to the Eternals or X-Men, seems to be the general consensus). I have an assortment of smaller thoughts on this, but one main one. Namely how this better not delay, "The Black Monday Murders," even further or I'm going to be mad.

"The Black Monday Murders," was a series published by Image that started in August of 2016 and which I loved between Hickman's writing and Tomm Coker's artwork. However, it began to experience bigger and bigger delays up to the point issue #7 came out at the end of September 2017, #8 finally saw the light of day in February of 2018, and issue #9 is due in April of this year last time I checked. Yeah, as with many of Hickman's works, it has seen some delays (still not as severe as with his and Dustin Weaver's, "S.H.I.E.L.D." series though).
The series is supposed to wrap with issue #12 resulting in three nice volumes divided into four issues each. I pray that Hickman finds a way to both do some cool work for Marvel and still finish, "The Black Monday Murders," in addition to any other projects he's done that seem tremendously delayed. Here's hoping, right?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Forget the Haters, I Love Fruit Stripe Gum

You know Fruit Stripe gum? It is that chewing gum (not bubblegum, you can't really blow bubbles with it) with a colorful zebra as its mascot. Yeah, I love Fruit Stripe gum, but I've noticed there are many who seem to like to mock it or otherwise insult the brand. Some say the flavor fades too fast, others think the included tattoos on the gum-wrapper don't imprint on the skin well, and a number of folk just don't care for the five various flavors. Well, I say forget those haters, Fruit Stripe gum is awesome.

Perhaps the flavor doesn't last forever, but I savor it while it is there, and at least it doesn't wear out its welcome (some gums don't so much keep their flavor as have it just stay and insist upon itself). The tattoos aren't perfect, but if you put some effort in (e.g. you don't just lick your hand and press it on as opposed to using a warm and wet washcloth like with other temporary tattoos) they work pretty well. I'm not claiming Fruit Stripe gum is the best thing ever, but I know I'd pick it over Bubble Tape and its creepy gum-powder any day.
I love the laid-back vibe Fruit Stripe gum has, with its Zebra who enjoys various fun recreational activities. He's not trying too hard to come-off as extreme or edgy like some mascots (Chester Cheetah), instead just having fun and giving us the pleasure of pasting his tattoos on our skin after we're done enjoying chewing our favorite flavor (I like cherry). I love Fruit Stripe gum regardless of how some folk make fun of it, and imagine it has many other fans who simply don't feel like arguing with the haters about why Fruit Stripe gum is awesome--we're just too busy enjoying it to bother debating you. Oh, and yes, the urban legend is true that the wrappers are safe to eat in that they are non-toxic (not a metallic wrapper), but you aren't really supposed to do so with them or any wrapper..

Note: Fruit Stripe gum did not pay me for this article or is even aware I exist, I just felt like rambling about chewing gum today. That said, I will email them about my article and see if they'd be willing to mail a lover of their gum some free packs--can't hurt to ask, right?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Wildcon 2019 Was Wonderful!

I took this in the early afternoon,
the banner was being painted in the morning and people could watch.
Yesterday I was excited to attend Wildcon 2019 (having enjoyed the show the first time I attended last year). It was as stellar as I expected, with plenty of fun for all ages between the fantastic guests, comic-vendors, and other cool entertainment. Held by Saint Louis Community College at Wildwood, the students of the college are in charge of many aspects of the show and work hard to make it a great time!

Steenz
I started the show saying hello to some awesome creator-guests, including the immensely talented Christina, "Steenz," Stewart who is an editor for Lion Forge in addition to having her work published with an assortment of companies. Lorenzo Lizana was present and hard at work making awesome sketches as he often does at shows, and I saw my friend David Gorden too, eager to discuss his cool book, "Kwame Hightower: And the Man with No Name," with attendees.
I snapped a hallway picture before it got too busy!
There were numerous attractions for kids (and grown-ups) to enjoy, between the Performing Arts Club helping kids make their own capes, the Science Club with cool experiments on display including a fascinating experiment involving water, dry ice, and soap (here is an article explaining it), plus the robotics association had their fascinating robots, with many which con-goers could test-out and drive (if they were ones with wheels).

There were vendors such as my friend Spike who you can buy all kinds of great comics from at his web-store, Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. He had a big chunk of comics for sale and always has a lovely assortment of inexpensive books plus awesome rarer-reads (some CGC'd too). After chatting with Spike there was an adorable cosplay contest for little kids (young adults and adults had their contest later in the day). It was sweet that all the kids basically, "Won," in their category as some were super-heroes, Jedis, etc.

Jack from Trade Up Comics was present and I got some cool dollar books from him. He always has a great deal of comics to dig-through and is fun to chat with. I also enjoyed visiting the stands/booths of business partners who were present at the show, including  Code Ninjas (which teaches kids about coding), Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, Farmer's Insurance, Premier Martial Arts, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the fun photo-booth as well.

Two notable comics I picked-up were the first solo issue dedicated to Monica Rambeau (who has held the title of Captain Marvel as well as Spectrum) and a classic, "What-If?" featuring Nick Fury fighting space aliens during WWII. There were multiple fun panels as well and a lot of families and kids were present. Sometimes con's don't have a lot of stuff for kids so it was great to see such a great deal of activities and attractions kids could enjoy. Samii and Clarkson were originally going to come to the show this year but as his sleep schedule has been out of whack he needed to nap during the time I attended. I hope to have them all come next year though so he can enjoy all the fun!
Wildcon 2019 was an incredibly fun time and I am so happy to have gone again. I had fun talking with guests, visiting booths, and buying comics from vendors. Lastly, I wanted to share the awesome portrait Steenz did of me. I think it looks pretty snazzy, if I may say so without sounding vain! Yes, Wildcon 2019 was awesome and I can't wait for next year and Wildcon 2020!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Film Friday Newsflash: James Gunn is Back at Marvel!

Back in July I talked about how upset I was that some hateful people who were mad at James Gunn got him fired by digging-up old (admittedly tacky) jokes Gunn had tweeted over a decade ago. These haters despised how Gunn was an outspoken opponent of Donald Trump and posted these old tweets saying, "Why could this Gunn guy say tasteless stuff but we get in trouble for it?" whilst ignoring the fact Gunn was telling dumb jokes and these idiots believe the racist, sexist, and homophobic comments they spout. Gunn had since apologized and grown as a person, but Disney freaked-out and fired him off of, "Guardians of the Galaxy 3." There was an uproar and it looked like that movie would never get made. Gunn had the last laugh getting hired by Warner Brothers/DC to write and direct a new, "Suicide Squad," movie, and that seemed to be that. As in comics how nothing ever seems to really die however (I've lost count how many times Jean Grey has returned), Gunn is back at Disney/Marvel. Say what?

That's right, Gunn (who is apparently a Saint Louis native, which is cool) has been rehired by Disney/Marvel. I guess between Gunn apologizing for his past jokes, being careful not to slam Disney/Marvel for firing him, and the fact that a lot of money stood to be lost this all resulted in Disney either (depending who you ask) politely offering him his old job back, or crawling to Gunn begging him to return. Gunn is still going to write and direct the new, "Suicide Squad," movie first and then will make, "Guardians of the Galaxy 3," so the biggest irony in all this is that the people who tried to get Gunn fired inadvertently had short-term success, but then helped him get new work before he was also rehired. This is irony so rich that if someone baked it into a cake a single bite would make my teeth hurt. God, that's a tortured metaphor, but ya'll get my point that I'm happy about this, right? I'm just sad the animal who served as the real-life model for the character Rocket Raccoon died before he could see this. I'm sure he's smiling whilst stuffing his face in that big garbage heap in the sky knowing that we're getting a, "Guardians of the Galaxy 3," after all!

Facts About The Horrific Mass-Murder in New Zealand and Extremism

I often have discussed on this blog my opinion that Donald Trump and his horrific views has tainted much of America and the world. That is an opinion, of course. Therefore, in the interest of only stating truths, I now will list some facts about the terrible mass-murder in New Zealand...
  • 49 people were killed (the number may increase if others injured die) by a man named Brenton Tarrant  at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • Tarrant was taken alive by the police, two other people were brought into custody as well.
  • No one has ever committed an attack of extremist terror and claimed anything President Obama said or did served as an inspiration for their hatred.
Those are the facts, I encourage you to form your own opinion based upon them. I know what I think.

I'm Excited for Wildcon 2019 Tomorrow

Last year I attended Wildcon, a sci-fi, fantasty, and comic-book convention put on by Saint Louis Community College at Wildwood. I wrote about all the fun I had in the previous year and am excited for the 2019 show tomorrow (read about it here). The show will have well-known guests who make comics such as(friend of the blog) Lorenzo Lizana, Christina 'Steenz' Stewart, and  Rick Burchett, in addition to plenty of other writers, artists, and creators. There will also be an area full of vendors (as all great cons have) selling comics, toys, and other awesome stuff. Plus, from 10AM-12PM there will be activities specifically for families and their younger children, something I always appreciate a convention doing as fostering enthusiasm helps youthful-fans grow into dedicated adult-fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. There will be cosplay contests as well, and the whole event is free in regards to attending and taking part in activities (vendors of course will want money for their wares).

The convention takes place at 2645 Generations Drive Wildwood, MO, 63040, and runs from 10AM-5PM with the aforementioned activities specifically geared towards kids taking place 10AM-12PM. I look forward to seeing anyone who is able to attend there!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

When a Creator Criticizes Their Own Critics

The comic cover that resulted in an enraged artist once it was questioned.
I am someone who often reviews and criticizes all kinds of work, including comics. I suppose this makes me a critic to some degree. It was dispiriting to hear another critic (Claire Napier) found herself angrily Tweeted at by an artist (Dan Panosian), who was upset she stated she disliked his cover for her own valid reasons. This artist thought he should explain what he intended and that would result in an apology if Napier was educated on how wrong he thought she was. Panosian claimed he did not even realize she was a critic as opposed to some random lady on Twitter whom he found rude, so the whole thing smacks of sexism. Oh, and then Frank Tieri piled-on this woman too as Panosian is a good friend of his and Tieri is, "Old-school," so he has to apparently attack others who question his friend's artwork? Seriously, what the Hell, people?

 Once Panosian looked into Napier he saw she was an artist as well so he was aghast at the idea a fellow creator would dare call him out as I guess people in your own field can't criticize you, counter to all logic (I mean, wouldn't a surgeon tell another surgeon if they were doing something that the other thought could be better)? A critic can have an opinion and if a comic-book writer or artist dislike it, too bad. I've given some creators glowing reviews as well as extremely negative ones and this has resulted in some thin-skinned creators no longer wanting to talk with me when I said anything less-than-glowing about their stuff, and others who realized as a critic I'll have my own opinions that could be positive or negative.
Critics have opinions. Deal with it.

When a creator of anything starts openly criticizing the critic of their work in many cases it just looks petty. Now, there are times someone might offer a thought-piece that is absurdly stupid, misses the point etc. and they should be called-out. For example, take the case of how movie reviewer/troll Armond White has always astounded me--but not in a good way--as he would always give good reviews to bad movies and glowing reviews to terrible flicks just to be a jerk and eventually was written-off by people as someone to simply be ignored (although I was curious whatever happened to him once we all quit listening and found a great piece about just that). but generally other people who actually understood a work will discuss how ignorant certain critic's hot-takes are, because if the creator just goes around yelling at everyone about how they are plebeian's who don't understand his genius, he just kind of looks like a jerk.

I've been (digitally) yelled-at for having an opinion before by people both publicly and privately. I have apologized at times when I felt I was wrong (Ed Benes and I are cool now, I enjoyed his Kickstarted comic too), and refused to budge when I've felt I was right. As a straight white male I know I get 1/100th of the harassment females or people of color receive when folk disagree with them online (the worst I've ever gotten is an empty threat of a lawsuit or a Jewish slur here and there), so I have nothing but respect for all my fellow critics who put up with a lot of shit all for the crime of trying to tell the general public their educated opinion on a piece of work.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Early-to-Middle-ish of March News and Links

Spring is Hopefully Close
It is the early-to-middle (or so) time of March. Spring should supposedly be here soon (the 20th). Let's bide our time until the weather hopefully gets nice by enjoying articles/links from the internet I thought were interesting enough to share.

Things to Mull Over
Champion for the people or villain profiting off of them?
Shall we start with something that might anger a lot of people? How about how, "JK Rowling was always this terrible," with its discussion of how Rowling maybe gave us some cool fantasy stories with her, "Harry Potter," books, but since their publication has continuously done a variety of actions that come off as pandering at best (declaring Dumbledore is gay despite not actually putting it in the books) to absolutely tone-deaf (using Native American culture as props, other racial insensitivity, questionable gender-role imagery, the list goes on). Rowling has seemed like a socially-liberal leader at times for folk, but she has over time revealed some toxic tendencies often witnessed in, "White Feminism," especially.

I am prone to saving basically all my emails, various sound files, images I've used for the blog, etc. but this article about self-described, "Digital Hoarders," covers people who take collecting and collating things to a whole new level. One interesting takeaway from the piece is how people who physically hoard things at times are depressed and isolated, but digital hoarders often love to share their collections of stuff with others and discuss it.

Considering how long comic-maker R. Crumb has been known for his eternally-horny state of being and oftentimes discussing very sexual matters in his comics, it is a bit strange to see him discussing a diminishing libido as he grows older in this piece by, "The Guardian."

I always felt that from what I saw of the movie, "The Passion of the Christ," it came off more like a weird simulated snuff-flick with religious overtones than some kind of incredible and important film with a special message. Instead of focusing on the messages Jesus brought for people to learn from, Mel Gibson zeroed-in on showing his death in the most bloody and grotesque manner possible, with dashes of Antisemitism thrown in too (he made good on those hints 2 years after the movie's release with a drunken tirade when pulled over for a DUI). That said, the movie was a smash-hit and The AV Club has a fascinating article covering how to this day apparently is still adored by a number of people as a supposedly great way to reinforce their beliefs and reassure themselves through buckets of fake blood whilst traumatizing their young children forced to sit and watch.

You know, everyone seemed to assume the, "Gambit," movie wasn't happening as the people who were rumored to be at all involved with it seemed indifferent to the whole thing other than Channing Tatum and his surreal insistence the the film get made. Apparently we can blame the most recent (and terrible), "Fantastic Four," movie for somehow sinking the chances of a, "Gambit," flick before Disney acquires Fox and proceeds to demolish anything Fox's movie studio has done with Marvel characters--besides making Deadpool worth a whole lot of cheddar.

Someecards may be full of clickbait articles and a bit junky at times, but I'll be damned if I didn't love reading this collection of, "The 18 best clapbacks at anti-vaxxers in internet history." Once I read the line where someone advised an anti-vaxxer who was concerned about measles but still refused to vaccinate their kids to try, "Thoughts and prayers," I was laughing heartily.

I was a big fan of the comic, "Black," considering it one of the best new comics of 2016 when the mini-series started coming out at the end of that year. It has had some spin-off books, but the first true follow-up, "White," reunites the whole creative team (of course including writer Kwanza Osajyefo and artist Jamal Igle) to give us an uncomfortably allegorical story about a racist President using the idea of superpowered black individuals as an excuse to enact horrific policies. Subtract, "superpowered blacks," and replace it with something like, "Migrant workers," and you basically have a story ripped from the headlines. I've backed its current Kickstarter campaign and would encourage you to do so as well.

Sometimes we really want a video-game to be good, and we want this so badly we deny how flawed and broken things can be (or acknowledge it but keep plugging along). This article from Kotaku says how sometimes, "It's Okay to Stop Playing." It took me till I was older and realized how time was too precious for crappy games to understand I can quit something if after awhile it just isn't doing it for me anymore.

Lastly, a whole lot of people (some pretty famous) seem to be in a great deal of trouble due to bribing big-name colleges into admitting their kids. Having attended colleges that both are lesser-known or supposedly impressive to have gone to, I'll tell you in my personal opinion the, "Name," of the school doesn't matter nearly as much as finding supportive educators to learn from and the work you do to make sure you grow as an individual. That's just my 2-cents.

Come On, We Need Spring
As I said at the start, Spring is close. After a mixture of snow, rain, thunderstorms, more snow, and general miserable weather I'd like some nice 68-degrees-and-sunny-but-not-too-sunny days. Come on, Spring, we've earned you after this miserable weather!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ahoy Comics Will Publish the Controversial Comic About Jesus, "Second Coming," and Make a Lot of Money Too

Ahoy Comics put out that, "The Wrong Earth," comic I absolutely loved, and now has a big get in the form of getting the rights to publish, "Second Coming," AKA that Vertigo comic DC panicked over and cancelled (whilst giving the rights back to the creators, thankfully). Yes, this means that the comic, "Second Coming," is indeed getting a, "Second Coming," as it seems everyone online with a fondness for puns is delighting at expressing. Writer Mark Russell and artist Richard Pace undoubtedly had plenty of interested publishers approach them after DC didn't think about how all this controversy could only help the book sell more copies even if some right-wing conservatives (who wouldn't have bought the book in the first place or probably any comics) claimed they would boycott it and DC if such a title came out.

For those unaware of all the hubbub, "Second Coming," is a satirical comic about how Jesus returns to Earth only to find himself incredibly disappointed in how people are interpreting his Gospels and seem to worship a popular super-hero named, "Sun Man," with a violent ideology counter to Jesus' message of peace. From what I have read and heard Jesus is never portrayed in a spiteful or insulting way, it is certain interpretations of Christianity that is criticized, so of course people who claim to be Christians but are in fact just hateful morons freaked-out in regards to the book. The fact these are probably the same people who think it is perfectly fine to draw and insult Mohammed yet they don't see their inherent hypocrisy in these clashing views is thought that would be hilarious if it weren't depressing.

Both Russell and Pace must be ecstatic that all this press-attention has probably helped to assure the book sells a ton of copies when its released this Summer and Ahoy Comics is probably more than willing to be threatened with boycotts from people who don't even read their books in exchange for tons upon tons of cash. Again, the comic isn't even anti-Christian or anything if people look at the subject matter, with Russell saying to the New York Times how it, "...is respectful of what Christians profess to believe. It’s not as respectful as to what they actually do. It’s not a satire of Christ so much as it is a satire on how his followers of the last 2,000 years have turned his message of forgiveness and empathy into one of power and domination, which is as un-Christlike as one can possibly imagine,”so this anger from certain demographics is laughable, frankly. Russell, Pace, and Ahoy Comics will also get to laugh, all the way to the bank, so good for them.