Monday, April 24, 2017

Some Cool Links As the End of April Approaches

April Showers...
April showers of course are supposed to bring May flowers and all that jazz. Well, we've had plenty of April showers where I live so I hope one of my favorite upcoming months (May) brings with it plenty of beautiful foliage, pleasant weather, and general good times. Before May arrives however how about I share some various links that I found interesting/worth showing to my readers.

Links!
If I may start with a political thought, fuck Donald Trump and his absurd claims that his (nearly) first 100 days has been anything but a mess and a shit-show.

I'm already a fan of Warren Ellis but this primer on his well-known work as well as lesser-read stuff is a solid read.

Apparently, "The Sims 4," can be made really, really raunchy if you have the right mods (note that the linked article contains computer-generated nudity).
I've been listening to Kendrick Lamar's latest album, "DAMN." and it illusrtates how he continues to be an artist that pretty much nobody living (outside of maybe Andre 3000) could hope to match in skill, lyricism, and general raw talent. He's announced concert dates too and that is a tour I'd be eager to go see.

Just what does, "Secret Emprie," have to say? Is it simply a mess or is there something concrete to take away from what has been released so far?

I haven't actually seen any since the very first, "Fast and the Furious," but there is something incredibly impressive about the eighth(!) movie in the franchise being a massive success. People debate and argue what the secret to its profitability is, but I think the movie just appeals to a wide-range of folk. There is a diverse cast, lots of action,and it is full of jokes and a bit self-aware. It has gorgeous women and incredibly attractive men for everyone to enjoy as eye-candy, and basically it is a box-office juggernaut of a franchise with the only thing to kinda compare being the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its flicks. I ought to catch-up on the series sometime, maybe.


I love, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and this video discussing one person's interpretation of how it has managed to stay funny all these years is pretty interesting.

This article on how Queer British artists would express concepts of desire through linguistic codes and other methods to avoid persecution is a great read.

This article discusses how Franklin from the famous and beloved comic-strip, "Peanuts," helped break the color-barrier in newspaper comics...but then unfortunately didn't do much else of note.

I loved the movie, "Brick," by director Rian Johnson (as well as his movie, "Looper!") and am always happy to see people talking about it, even if it is now in reference to the latest film he is directing, the upcoming, "Star Wars," film, which will probably get millions more viewers than, "Brick," despite its excellence.

Lastly, it is both reassuring and terrifying to think that an actual Doomsday device could have humanity's best interests at heart/designed into it, but one made by Russia in the 1980's has been created just that way, as this fascinating piece covers.

Eager For the May Flowers
As I said, I'm excited for May and all the good things it brings. I hope you enjoyed reading these links and that your April experience concludes smoothly as well!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I Made a Fiverr Gig to Sell My Comics!

I of course have too many comics. I also have a baby (our little Clarkson) who hopefully will be coming home before too long. Selling stuff on eBay is a slog and if you take your old comics to a place like Half Price Books they'll give you maybe a nickel or dime per book if you're lucky. Therefore, I thought it made sense to offer to sell random comics to people via popular, "Gig," website Fiverr. I get to make a small profit and I know my comics are going to be enjoyed by someone!

You can check out my Fiverr gig here and if you want to have me mail you some random comics I'm more than happy to do so!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Last 48 Hours of Actions by DC and Marvel Have Been Comically Offensive


Okay, seriously, what the fuck is going on with DC and Marvel? Right as I start thinking DC is looking peachy-keen compared to, "People don't care about diversity," comments from Marvel (now with additional hidden antisemitic and anti-Christian artwork that to their credit Marvel swiftly addressed), DC goes and announces, "Dark Matter." I know what you might be thinking, "Oh that sounds like a fun space-based event," but it actually is a move toward diversity--like, more characters of color...and it is called, "Dark Matter," which not only sounds vaguely offensive but also is referencing a theoretical matter that doesn't exist (possibly) so what does that even say as well?

Plus, the creators are all men, and about 10 of the 11 of them are Caucasian too, so we may be getting more diversity in regards to the characters we see but the spinners of these yarns will still be predominantly white dudes. Oh, and when someone brought up gender to a panel of DC creators at C2E2 John Romita Jr.  talked about how he wasn't working on, "any transgenders," as of yet in his stories. In regards to the transgender individuals I know and call a friend I'm 100% sure they do not appreciate being referred to as, "Transgenders," in the same way some other friends of mine feel it is derogatory to say something like, "Oh, he/she is a gay."

"Hail Hyrda, who totally are not Nazis, right?"
This would look bad for DC and probably usually get more headlines, but to their luck Marvel is asking comic-shop employees to dress-up like Nazis. Oh, wait, sorry, dress-up like Hyrda members, who are totally different from Nazi's despite for the history of Marvel comics usually being shown as exactly the same as Nazis and being led by a Nazi known as the Red Skull. Seriously though, it is cool guys, these are like a whole separate branch of Hyrda unrelated to the Nazis despite having Nazi-like ideals, oh and Captain America has been a secret member all along because the Allies actually lost World War II but used the cosmic cube to change history into the one we know now, but truthfully the Nazi's won World War II and Cap was a Nazi all along before any secret reality changes and I need to stop now because the stupidity of this is hurting my head.

Obviously, when you ask people to dress-up like, "Not-quite Nazis," to promote your comic such an idea is going to be met with a mixture of disgust, revulsion, and other synonyms for reactions to grossly stupid ideas that you think someone, anyone at Marvel would have realized sounds bad on paper and in practice as well--its a fail all-around. DC just made some questionable moves, but I think Marvel still took the cake for bringing upon itself another batch of bad press for an idea that just makes me do a facepalm, as the kids call it.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Admirable Workmanship of Fat Joe

When you ask people to talk about the greatest rappers of all time certain names are often thrown-out. We will doubtlessly hear, "Tupac," and when it comes to newer rappers, "Kendrick Lamar," gets name-dropped too. There is a subset of people who will argue without end, "Andre 3000," and I'm one of them (Big Boi is of course superb as well). One person who seems to often be forgotten in talks about great rappers is someone who has been around for decades and has an admirable work-ethic as proven by his illustrious discography. I'm talking about Fat Joe.

From the early 1990's on the protege of Big Pun has been an interesting presence. In the 90's and earlier 2000's he was around a lot, releasing a number of singles and getting into a high-profile rap-beef with then-newer rapper 50 Cent (they later resolved it). His 2001 album, "Jealous Ones Still Envy," was pure fire with hot track after hot track, but I'm one of maybe 10-ish people who bought, "Loyalty." Once 2010 hit however Joe kind of faded from the spotlight a bit, but not completely, instead doing something else.
Fat Joe does something I like to call, "Groundhogging." I think I've created this term, and it basically means everyone forgets about you for awhile, but suddenly every once in awhile a ton of attention comes your way because you do something important, and then you return to your burrow for a good amount of time to work on something else before emerging again to draw all the eyes. Since 2010 Joe seems to have been doing this, disappearing for awhile only to suddenly turn-up and fill the airwaves with stuff like, "All the Way Up," or a song currently dominating the radio, "Money Showers." He hasn't had his own solo album since the aforementioned year of 2010 but finally released a new LP titled, "Plata O Plomo," done in collaboration with fellow wordsmith Remy Ma.  Also, despite being known as, "Fat Joe," he has lost a lot of weight since at one point being 350 pounds, and as someone who has struggled with their own weight I admire his dedication to that too, because damn is it hard not eating all the delicious-but-bad-for-you foods.

Fat Joe may be overlooked by many when discussing the best rappers, but I feel that is a bit unfair. The man may not always be out there demanding attention, but that is because he is engaging in groundhogging--coming out when he has something to show us, but otherwise hiding away to create his sonic delights. Joe doesn't need your constant compliments because with his workmanship he knows that when he emerges from seclusion you'll doubtlessly want to admire his work. I know I do.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unicorn Frappuccino Review Because If the World Is Ending At Least We Have Colorful Drinks

The Unicorn Frappuccino exists and people don't really care what it tastes like because the whole purpose of the drink is to take a picture of yourself holding it and looking like what kids call, "Basic," as in, "Look at that basic bitch with his/her Unicorn Frappuccino." Well, I must be basic because there I am above smiling like a doofus. It is very colorful, with its bright pink and light blue that mixes into a deep purple, but how does the thing actually taste? Well, "Sour birthday cake and shame," actually isn't too far off. If the world is ending (nuclear war seems uncomfortably possible lately) at least we have colorful drinks that taste weird.

Before you mix it the drink just tastes like sugary milk, honestly. The key is to mix it up at which point something interesting happens--it suddenly tastes a lot better. Once mixed into each other the sour blue syrup, pink powder, mango mix, and milk combined with the whipped cream gives everything a taste not too unlike an Orange Julius. It's frothy, sweet, and a bit tart. I wouldn't describe it as anything amazing flavor-wise, however (this is strictly just above-average) but I would still try it again maybe during this brief period of time you can even buy a Unicorn Frappuccino--after April 23rd it theoretically is gone forever or until public demand brings it back. In summary I would rate it as...
Visually/Aesthetically: 5 out of 5 stars.
Taste: 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 17, 2017

I Do Love Those Shiny Retailer-Appreciation Variant Covers from Image Comics

Shiny text? Yah!
I've at times both been critical of marketing-gimmicks (DC's 3-D covers continue to just seem lame to me and Villain's Month was a fiasco) and found them fun too. That said, even though novelty covers sometimes make cynical ol' me all cranky, I must confess I really love those shiny retailer-appreciation variant covers Image has been doing. Generally limited to one-per-store, I've always asked my local comic shop nicely if it would be possible to have a shiny variant whenever one comes out if no one else requests it. Some stores sell those shiny-variants for extra money but my folk always sell it at cover-price to me because they are awesome.

I don't know what it is about these shiny-covers that I fancy so much, but they just look really cool. I mean, not even the entire cover has a gloss to it with these variants, just the title of the comic. Still, something about it just super-appeals to me and having all the covers with their gorgeous shimmer sitting on my shelf just looks delightful. I hope to continue to get shiny covers so that I can display them proudly/find a way to harness their power and take over the world (whichever is easier). It may be a gimmick, but its a gimmick that is good-looking and classy enough that I quite like it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Flashback Friday: Mr. Green Soda


Back in Junior-High I drank a soda that was only around for a short time, basically one Summer. It tasted kind of like Dr. Pepper but advertised how it had Ginseng and was green--like, dark green. If you drank enough and then pooped later it looked like you were expelling toxic waste (sorry if that is TMI). It was advertised in the, "EXTREME!" method that at times gains popularity and actually didn't taste too bad, but lacked anything that made it amazing. It was called, "Mr. Green," so it basically was ripping-off Mr. Pibb, who copied Dr. Pepper. It was a rip-off of a rip-off.

Mr. Green is the only soda to ever be released by Sobe, a sub-company of Pepsi which at various times has made juices, energy drinks, and sold milk. I honestly though I was the only person in the world who remembered this soda but you can find the occasional Facebook post, forum comment, and other stuff like that with people going, "Remember Mr. Green? I kinda miss it." I too kind of miss Mr. Green and would drink some if I could, perhaps. A new bottle or can hasn't been made since 2003 however, so it would be very, very expired. I don't even know what had me thinking about this soda today, but it popped into my noggin so I decided to share my recollections as an article for Flashback Friday. Anyone else remember Mr. Green and hold fond-ish memories about it?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Overall Thoughts--Wizard World Saint Louis 2017 in Review

A Strange First Five Minutes
Get it? The Arch and, "Gateway?"
I've been inside the main convention-center of Wizard World for all of 5 minutes and Kato Kaelin is jokingly yelling at me not to answer the trivia question he just posed to a clearly flustered older-gentleman in a Saint Louis Blues hat. I'm evidently clearly struggling to not yell, "The Baxter Building," to the query of where the Fantastic Four live and neither the older guy or the young kid dressed as the television-version of Barry Allen from, "The Flash," know the answer. I don't really want the t-shirt that they'll win, but it is just getting awkward to see these two guys get all these questions of varying difficulty that they don't know the answer to (and it doesn't help the man dressed as a DC character gets all the Marvel questions and the older guy probably was just coming with some grand-kids who like this stuff and got roped into doing trivia). So yeah, Kato is playfully yelling at me to be quiet and this Wizard World is clearly going to be weird.

For those of you unaware, Kato is most famous for being a small-time actor who was friends with OJ Simpson and staying in OJ's guest-house the night OJ left town/possibly murdered his ex-wife Nicole and Ron Goldman beforehand. So yes, Kato is arguably famous for not being murdered by OJ Simpson. This pop-culture relevance apparently made him the perfect MC for Wizard World Saint Louis and to his credit he was very nice and unlike most celebrities/"celebrities" at the show did not want to charge me to take a photo. Observe:
I was at Wizard World for a bit Late Friday and a good Chunk of Saturday, but my first five minutes of Wizard World Saint Louis 2017 encapsulated everything in itself as it was a mixture of fun, weird, and off-putting. Hey, let's use that for a header!

A Mixture of Fun, Weird, and Off-Putting
There were five actual vendors of comic-books at this Wizard World, which is ostensibly a comic-con but really more like a popular-culture convention. I'm not saying that to be negative, it just is worth observing that if you came to the show planning to look through long and short-boxes as well as shelves for cool comics, there wasn't much in the way of retail. I of course had the majority of my fun hanging-out in, "Artist's Alley," where the lot of stuff that appeals to me is found. Most of cool people I met or stuff I got occurred thanks to Artists' Alley or one of the few retailers.

It's not like I hate having random celebrities at this convention--it is par for the course that Wizard World gets random folk to come and sign autographs, but for every person who made sense--Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman--there was someone random like Butch Patrick who played Eddie on, "The Munsters." I liked that show and his booth looked lonely so I went over to say hi and tell him about my enjoyment when it was on, "Nick at Nite." He thanked me and then some assistant insistently said, "This guy looks like he wants an autograph!" I had zero intention of paying Butch Patrick 40 dollars to give me a signed t-shirt so I politely worked my way out of that situation.

Butch, tell your assistant to cool it with pressuring folk to buy autographs. 
As that awkward moment illustrates, Wizard World had a weird assortment of folk who had next-to-nothing to do with comics and there weren't really any, "Celebrities," known specifically for comic-book work. Yes, we had plenty of cool creators of stuff in Artist's Alley, but what does Gene Simmons have to do with comic-books besides how sometimes comics have been made about KISS? Again though, I know that Wizard World is billing itself as less of a comic-book covention and more of a popular-culture convention. That said, if you can't manage to go as press like me it can be horrifically expensive, so get ready to shell out the cash to get parked, get in, and then buy an autograph from a random celebrity.

This sounds negative, and I don't mean to sound that way, it is just that some of the convention was off-putting as I mention in my header. I still had a great time talking with an assortment of vendors, all the cool folk in Artists' Alley, and I spent some time with friends from my comic-club enjoying the show. It was a fun time even if it was full of weird and off-putting moments as well. I would for sure go again, but with basically every year since the first one the focal point is less-and-less comics and more just a general celebration of popular culture.
I'm okay with Wizard World not being about comics as much though, because there is a show like the upcoming, "Saint Louis Comic-Con," which has me really excited to go to a con with an actual comic-book specificity. It'll be in its 2nd year now, was a ton of fun last time, and is very well-priced. I'm not throwing shade at Wizard World, but I do know a number of people who didn't go to it this year, forgoing attendance instead for Saint Louis Comic-Con. Both are very different shows with separate identities and concepts, but if you want something centered on comics this is a great place to go. This year they actually have Chris Claremont coming, so that is rad!

Honestly, if you can afford it you should continue to go to the Wizard World shows and the more comic-based ones like Saint Louis Comic-Con. Both are fun in different ways, and while in all honesty the comic-loving part of me gets a lot more excited for this Summer, the aspect of me that enjoys general popular-culture had a great time at Wizard World too. In summary, "Fun, weird, and off-putting," is both a sentence I am overusing for this article, and extremely apt. I hope to get to go as press again next year and if I do I'll make sure to write extensively about it!

Awesome People I Met--Wizard World Saint Louis 2017 In Review

Lots of Neat Folk
I talked about some of the stuff I picked-up at Wizard Word, but there were many interesting people I met there too. I thought I would spotlight the people I enjoyed talking with in this post!

Cool People I Met (In Alphabetical Order by First Name or Company)
Aging Monster Press
I already mentioned their exciting-looking comic, "Life Ends on Mars," in my previous post and how I plan to read/review it, but Aging Monster Press had a number of other cool-looking books that have been made or will be coming out. I encourage you to check out their website!

Alexa Heart and Everyday Geek
My friend Alexa Heart was at the show selling cool wares for Everyday Geek!

Bob Somerhalder/Built of Barnwood
I met Bob Somerhalder who with his business partner and brother, Ian, are the men behind the company, "Built of Barnwood," AKA B.O.B. As someone who is big on reusing and recycling stuff I love B.O.B. and its mission of taking old pieces of material from abandoned and crumbling buildings to create re-purposed pieces of artwork and furniture.

Critical Blast
Critical Blast was at the show with a number of cool books to discuss.
E.D.E. Bell
Ms. Bell was at Wizard World with a variety of cool fantasy titles. She was very friendly and her books all sounded fun! You can find her online here.

Emilyann Girdner
Ms. Girdner (website here) is the author of, "The Labyrinth Wall," book I thought sounded cool and picked-up a copy of. She was very friendly and excited to talk about her book with anyone who passed by her booth.



Geek Inc. Comics/Saint Louis Comic-Con
I enjoyed chatting with the awesome folk of, "Geek Inc. Comics," who had a lot of superb stuff for sale and were there to promote the Saint Louis Comic-Con this June which I am immensely excited for! Their company, "Mighty Con," puts on the show and the first-ever one last year was great!

James A. Wilson
Mr. Wilson (website here) is the man behind, "Third Contact: The Harvesting of Sol," which I excitedly picked-up after he told me about the book. His way of discussing how his book mixes science-fact and science-fiction is what got me eager to purchase it!

James Wylder
Mr. Wylder had a cool variety of books and poetry collections about a wide-range of supbects from Doctor Who, to technology, and lots of neat stuff! Check out his site here.

Jay Erickson
Mr. Erickson (site here) had a number of cool-sounding books set in a dynamic and complex fantasy world. One of the first books, "Stromwind," sounded especially fun with its exciting but also humorous plot.

Ray Wenck
I spoke with author Ray Wenck (site here) at the show and was impressed with his variety of novels set in a variety of genres ranging form paranormal, to suspense/mystery, and of course some good post-apocalyptic fiction.

Rick Burchett
I always enjoy running into the talented Rick Burchett at comic-cons. He has done extensive work for DC and was as friendly as ever!

Ryan Kincaid
Artist Ryan Kincaid had a number of cool drawings and comics for sale, as I mentioned in my previous post I bought a comic of his work!
Saint Louis Symphony
I chatted with some representatives of the Saint Louis Symphony who were there to promote all the good stuff they've got going on. I told them how my wife and I enjoyed seeing Ben Folds with the Symphony recently and one of the ladies said she loved that concert too!

Steve Geiger
I talked with Mr. Geiger and his wife about his past work at Marvel as well as other comic-companies and all the cool-stuff he has been working on lately as well. You can find him on Facebook here!

Susanne L. Lambdin
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ms. Lambdin (website here) and her husband about her series of, "Dead Hearts," novels which currently are up to their fifth book.They start-out seemingly about just zombies but then werewolves, vampires, and all kinds of mystical and prehistoric creatures enter the fray. It sounded like some fun stuff!

Thought Bubble
The good folk of Thought Bubble were at the show selling comics, toys, and other fun items in addition to all the great ways to store them!

Wandering Wolf Press
I enjoyed speaking with Wandering Wolf Press about their publications and fun, "Bad Bears," card game! It looks like a really fun time (murderous bears with dangerous weapons has got to be good) and I encourage you to check out their website here!