Friday, May 17, 2019

Grumpy Cat Has Died and This Makes Me Genuinely Sad

Viral internet sensation Tardar Sauce, or as she was better known, Grumpy Cat, has passed away at the age of seven due to complications from a urinary tract infection. Seven is a relatively young age for a cat to die, but she of course suffered from feline dwarfism which gave her that striking face that brought so much fame, and which can bring with it a variety of health problems as well. I always was amused by Grumpy Cat's shenanigans and actually owe her/her family a debt of gratitude. You see, the first comic to ever, "Blurb," me was the initial mini-series hardcover collection of, "Grumpy Cat and Pokey," that was published by Dynamite. On the back-cover none other than The Newest Rant is quoted as loving the first mini-series to feature the sour-faced feline (and I did enjoy it immensely). Even though Tardar Sauce/Grumpy Cat herself of course didn't pick me to be blurbed on the comic dedicated to her and Pokey's adventures (Pokey was her real-life brother/housemate), without Tardar Sauce/Grumpy Cat there never would have been a comic for me to review and be quoted by, and for that I thank her for existing and bringing us all joy.

I have since seen myself quoted on other published comics now and then, but Grumpy Cat always had a special place in my heart, and I also appreciated that she, "Followed," me on Twitter. Yes, she followed about 53,100 other people, but considering she had 1.5 million followers I still felt pretty honored. Tardar Sauce/Grumpy Cat was not on this Earth for long, but she touched many lives with her unique expression and all the memes, books, comics, and even movies inspired by her perturbed visage. I am sending her family good vibes and wish them the best during this stressful and mourning-filled time.

Film Friday: Robert Pattinson May Be the Next Batman and I Don't Get Why People Are Mad

It is being stated by many media outlets that even though it isn't 100% set in stone, Robert Pattinson may be the next person to play Batman/Bruce Wayne. This seems to have upset a chunk of the internet and I don't quite understand why. Yes, Pattinson was one of the leads in the awful, "Twilight," film series years ago, but even he hated his character of Edward and did the best he could with the miserable source material. In fact, many of the people who were associated with the, "Twilight," films have gone on to have careers showcasing their immense talent--Kirsten Steward, Anna Kendrick, and so forth, so don't blame the actor/actress, blame the script (in this case, at least). Pattinson has shown he is a damn fine actor in other less-mainstream fare such as, "Good Time," and if this upcoming Batman film directed by Matt Reeves is set earlier in Batman's career a younger (but not too young) actor such as Pattinson who brings a mixture of intensity, sadness, and freaky sex-vibes sounds perfect for a film about a man who dresses-up in BDSM gear to beat-up criminals as a bizarre way to mourn the death of his parents. 

This all is funny, because I distinctly recall how much people thought Heath Ledger would be a terrible Joker, and he was incredible. Hell, go back in time to the 1980's and folk were throwing a fit about Michael Keaton as Batman. Clearly when it comes to Batman and the characters associated with him, everyone has strong opinions, but clearly we need to let the work speak for itself before we pass judgement. After all, some people were really excited for a George Clooney Batman and we all see how that turned-out. Anyways, if you're that concerned but need a Bat-fix then just watch the new, "Batwoman," show coming to the CW soon, that looks pretty cool.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

One Sentence Summaries Rises From the Grave!

Been Long Time
That's my goal!
It's been a while since I did my, "One Sentence Summary," segment I sometimes engage in--even longer since I did it about comics specifically. Let's rectify that with a post that is sure to be as funny as it is informative (in other words, lacking both of those features)! Here we go...

Immortal Hulk #17
Al Ewing and Joe Bennett somehow knew turning Hulk comics into a bunch of body-horror imaery would work incredibly well, and we are forever indebted to them for it.

Metalshark Bro #1
Part of SCOUT Comics' clever idea to release a short issue of a comic and follow it up with a full trade paperback (they call it the BINGE! initiative) this would fail horribly if the comics they are doing a, "Sample," of were bad--but thankfully, this title and others continue to be great fun such as in this story of a shark who fight Satan and plays guitar.

Wyrd #3
I love what I have read of this title and find it interesting that for many of the same reasons I love the book (it is odd, off-kilter, and the narrative is purposely jumbled-up and messy) some folk hated it.

DCeased #1
Tom Taylor did a great job with his work on the, "Injustice," comic and he brings his immense skill to what is basically DC's take on/rip-off of, "Marvel Zombies," that surprisingly is a good time.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #4
Kieron Gillen has written a lot of great stuff, but this mini-series riffing and commenting on super-hero tropes may be the best thing he's ever written, for me at least.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #10
What started as an interestingly alternative take on super-heroes has morphed into an epic universe full of meta-aspects plus some wild subplots--I love it all.

I Think Our Friend Dan Might Be a Dolphin (One-Shot)
This one-shot makes it pretty clear that Dan isn't only a Dolphin, he's a bit of an alcoholic and sex-freak.

Deathstroke #43
Well damn, I am aware Christopher Priest is a creator who always knows what he's doing after decades in comics, but I'm quite curious how this comic will continue (spoiler warning) with the titular character suddenly killed at the end of this issue...did not see that coming.

Savage Avengers #1
Very little happens in terms of plot within this debut, but I can tell you Mike Deodato is a stellar artist when it comes to illustrating fighting and bloodshed!

Dark Red #2
Vampires living in the Midwest makes for a strangely compelling tale mixing politics and lots of blood.

Achilles Inc. #1
In a world where a small percent of the population suddenly gains powers this comic--which I found to be a great read--imagines what would most likely actually happen in a such a scenario, e.g. the people with powers use them to get rich in various fields of work instead of being vigilantes or whatever.

Captain America #10
Steve Rogers has been framed for murder and is stuck in a high-tech prison, but he still knows how to kick-ass when written-well (Ta-Nehisi Coates has done wonders to make-up for the mess Nick Spencer left with, "Secret Empire," I'd say).

Threshold: Allure #3
It's a title from the publisher Boundless, so you already know to expect lots of genitalia drawn in a very detailed manner along with some usually-stronger-than-you'd-anticipate storytelling, so depending on how raunchy you like comics to be your mileage may vary.

Atomic Robo and the Dawn of a New Era #5
I've been enjoying the adventures of Robo since his early years at another publisher (he started at Red5 and now is with IDW) thanks to the mixture of science, action, adventure, and a heaping dose of humor which makes this last issue of the most recent mini-series a delightful read.

Now, We Conclude
I hope you found my one-sentence summaries worth reading. If you did not it is too late now anyways. Therefore, I guess I just want to say you're welcome and I'm sorry.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Television Tuesday: At Least ABC Didn't Cancel Two of My Favorite Shows

Usually around the time Summer hits television and cable networks announces which shows are getting renewed or unceremoniously kicked to the curb. I am happy that two shows I love and which both happen to be on ABC survived the, "Bloodbath," this year. They are my much-beloved, "American Housewife," which will be getting a fourth season and the new series, "Single Parents," which I thought started with some strong potential and now can confirm has only has gotten to be stellar over this first season.

Considering that, "American Housewife," was one of my favorite T.V. shows of 2018 and, "Single Parents," has an incredible cast that makes me laugh often, I'm extremely thankful with all the cancellations going on they get at least another year to delight everyone. I don't have to mourn these shows as I still do to this day for, "The Mick," which was genius and didn't deserve to be axed by Fox. Seriously, that still stings a year later.

Monday, May 13, 2019

2 Live Crew and City Girls Both Rap Raunchy and Face Similar Criticisms

If you remember the 1980's and 1990's or have at least read about them you probably are aware of 2 Live Crew. They were a rap group that often had lyrics about enjoying sex and how they were always horny. Their 1989 album, "As Nasty as They Want to Be," resulted in all kinds of legal fiascoes and Governmental debate when it was accused of being obscene and the group became outspoken pioneers about freedom of speech, with group member Luther Campbell spending the years after as an activist for numerous causes afterwards. In retrospect it all is kind of funny as now in 2019 we have a group such as City Girls with their own raunchy raps outraging critics. The more things change the more they stay the same.

I have no problem with sexy music and enjoy it when it is done well--just as I like, "Clean," songs done with skill. I also have zero issues with groups like City Girls being two ladies (Yung Miami and JT) outspoken about their sexuality--if a man can sing and rap about loving sex so can a woman. It just makes me giggle a little to think how in 1989 people were up in arms over, "I'm like a dog in heat, a freak without warning/I have an appetite for sex, 'cause me so horny," and now everyone continues to be mad at sex-lyrics with City Girls going, "Move it, baby, lick it, baby (do it)/Suck up on that clit until that pussy got a hickey, baby." Just as 2 Live Crew incurred some wrath I bet if City Girls were spitting these verses 30 years ago it probably would've made Tipper Gore (of the Parent's Music Resource Center) go mad with rage to the same degree.

City Girls
One irony in this would be how much of the same forces that were so outraged at 2 Live Crew are mad at City Girls, yes, but now they are using different phrasing in an attempt to achieve the same goal of trying to shame the artists/cause outrage. With 2 Live Crew the refrain was, "How dare they objectify women and expose our children to this unmoral garbage?" and with City Girls it is, "How dare they present their sexuality so loosely and expose our children to this unmoral garbage?" When 2 Live Crew was saying how much they liked sex they were debasing women, when City Girls  are eager to say how they like sex, they are bad examples for women (who are supposed to be pure and virginal)--basically, no matter who is doing the rapping it is all about a weird patriarchy where women should never be expected to enjoy sex unless it is in a heterosexual marriage.

With the art-form of music sometimes there is content for all ages and other times the lyrics can be decidedly adult. It is up the musician making the tunes how clean or raunchy they want to sound, and even if vivid dirty-talk upsets some critics prone to, "Moral panic," both 2 Live Crew and City Girls have the right to discuss their love of sex over fun beats regardless of if they're men or women. After all, if you really don't like the song you are quite capable of changing the radio dial/pressing next on Spotify.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day 2019!

I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to everyone with human-babies, fur-babies, children they birthed, children they adopted, and anyone who thinks of themselves as a Mother to the people they care about! I especially want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my wife, Samii, who is the best mom I ever could have hoped to have for our son, Clarkson. Have a great day, everyone!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Three Topics I Maybe Should Keep My Mouth Shut About, But...

Three Things
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I generally can't keep my mouth shut and want to offer an opinion--hopefully a well-informed one. Well, three topics seem to be in discussion as of late that maybe I should keep my mouth shut about and leave well enough alone, but...well, here we go.

1. Black Lightning and the Outsiders
The creator of Black Lightning, Tony Isabella, has expressed publicly (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) he is not a fan of how the character is now being utilized in the series, "Batman and the Outsiders," where Batman asks Black Lightning to run a super-hero team. Isabella feels this diminishes the character to being a, "Support negro," for Batman and otherwise is against this comic. Isabella created Black Lightning so his opinion is indeed an important one, but that said the creative team on the comic--Bryan Edward Hill as well as Dexter Soy--are both incredibly talented creators, and Hill is in fact a Black Man himself and Soy is of Asian descent. I don't think they would work on a book that involves a minority character serving as subservient to a White man--Batman or anyone else.

Both Isabella and Hill are friends of mine (as in we've spoken online and follow each other on social media) so I refuse to choose a, "Side," in this matter and simply will say if Hill is making such as incredible comics as, "American Carnage," which deals heavily with race and politics, I think he'll do a stellar job writing a comic with Black Lightning just as Isabella as the creator can state if he does not like such a comic occurring.

2. Feminism and Anti-Trans Sentiment
This article about how some far-left Feminists have found an, "Unholy union," with far-right conservatives in their anti-Trans sentiment is both depressing and not surprising. Feminism and the LGBTQ movement has always seemed to struggle with often being about more than the L(esbian) and G(ay) with less effort spent in making sure to include Bi and Trans voices (with the addition of Q AKA Queer and/or Questioning being a newer addition to the term and carrying with it further complexity). I find an immense irony in Trans-exclusionary radical Feminists, or TERFs, partnering with groups that would rob women of their right to abortion, right to same-sex marriage, or otherwise refuse to ever listen to them were it not for a strangely shared anti-Trans view. I am not a Woman or Trans, but I 100% feel that Trans Women are Women. From the first time I read an article for a sexuality class about the (now-defunct) Michigan's Womyn's festival excluding Trans-Women I knew that was wrong.

Again, I am not Trans, a Woman, or attracted to the same Sex. I am however a staunch ally of the LGBTQ movement and everyone who is a member of it. The idea that Trans-Women and Trans-Men could face rejection and scorn from others in regards to their gender when those insulting them have experienced immense discrimination and judgement for their sexuality is just mind-boggling and upsetting. I can say without a doubt I fully disagree with anyone who is anti-Trans, be they Gay or Straight.

3. Marvel's Queerbaiting for Their Movies is Extremely Tacky
Marvel be like, "It could be anyone, perhaps Captain Marvel?"
While we're on the subject of LGBTQ representation let's discuss Queerbaiting and how Marvel's engaging in doing it which is super tacky, cynical, and calculated. Queerbaiting is when a movie/show/book/etc. hint that a character (or characters) might be gay or engage in a same-sex relationship in order to draw-in LGBTQ fans. Its a ploy and oftentimes these hints are not even followed-up upon or evident in the text (e.g. claiming Dumbledore is gay as some grand gesture to fans without it being evident anywhere in, "Harry Potter," he could be). Now, we have the Russo brothers who directed the most recent, "Avengers," films stating how one already-introduced Marvel Cinematic Universe character is, "Canonically Gay," and saying how we'll find out eventually whom it is.

Hyping-up the reveal a character is Gay as if it were some exciting special effect as opposed to just simply an aspect of full-developed and interesting character is contemptuous of so many LGBTQ fans of Marvel who would appreciate actual representation. As fun as the Marvel movies can be they aren't exactly progressive (it took plenty to get one with a Black Male as a lead and over twenty to get one with a Female lead) and while they might be trying, its better to just admit you're working at inclusion instead of treating gayness as some kind of selling-point for a future movie--one is working towards Queer representation and the other is flagrant Queerbaiting.

I've Commented on Controversy
There we go. I have commented on some controversial things. Sometimes it is easier to write about stuff everyone agrees on--e.g. how Steve Harvey is a terrible person or, "Glee," never achieved its full potential due to Rachel Berry being an awful character (no shade at Lea Michele, she's fine)--but even if I should've maybe kept my mouth shut about the three subjects I discussed...I didn't, because if there is one thing you can count on with this blog, I'm gonna speak my mind, and hopefully sound more educated than ignorant when I do so!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Comic Book Presser Does Great Work!

Awhile ago I said how I had complicated feelings about CGC and comic grading/encapsulation in general. As I've gotten older and wiser I see how it has its uses and for some rarer comics or ones in really good condition it can be a good idea to keep them from falling apart over time. I had two comics I wanted to get graded but my hope was to make sure they were in stellar condition before I submitted them. I've heard about comic-book pressing and dry-cleaning in regards to how it can assist comics with some assorted issues (aging defects, spine roll, and so forth), but if I wanted pressing done I had zero idea whom to get help from. Should one look around online there are services that range widely in price, speed, and reviews, so it can be hard to know who to turn to for pressing. With this in mind, I asked some of my assorted comic-selling friends who have a lot more knowledge about comic-pressing and CGC grading than I do. My chum Justin of Wayne Kent Comics had plenty of glowing things to say about Chris, "The Comic Book Presser."

I reached out to Chris and he walked me through the form on his website you fill-out to be sent an invoice for his services. I then mailed him two comics. I sent him a Mexico variant of, "Amazing Spider-Man #11," featuring a J. Scott Campbell cover of the Black Cat that also appeared on a, hard-to-find, "Superior Spider-Man," cover in America (I got this as a present from my awesome friend who lives in Mexico and I trade comics with, Oziel). I also sent-in a copy of, "Avengers #196," which features the first full appearance of Taskmaster. The above pictures are from before the press. As you can see the Spider-Man comic is in mostly great condition but has some spine issues from my own occasional rough-handling, while the Taskmaster appearance has a number of concerns here and there that were evident when I bought it. It took about 4 weeks (I didn't pay for a rush-order which is an option, but I was good with the standard time) and my books came back as such:

The Spider-Man cover looks even more gorgeous and has nary a defect I can spot, and my, "Avengers," comic looks incredibly better--especially in regards to the extensive spine-roll it earlier suffered from. I look forward to submitting these to CGC for sure--I have no intention of selling the awesome Black Cat variant but think it would display wonderfully in a CGC case with a high grade. I may sell the, "Avengers," once it is graded as Taskmaster is getting more and more speculation heat lately. I found Chris' prices extremely reasonable compared to some quotes I'd seen online from other pressing services and am extremely pleased with the result of his work. I also was happy he kept in touch during the pressing-process, letting me know the books had arrived, when he was shipping them back, and so forth.

I took this today before getting them prepped to be sent-out to CGC.
I'd eagerly recommend The Comic Book Presser to anyone who is interested in having their books pressed/dry-cleaned/otherwise fixed-up before getting them graded, or simply if they want them to look snazzier. I want to thank Justin for his recommendation and Chris for doing such a superb job with my books. I look forward to getting them back graded and am excited to know they'll without a doubt grade much better thanks to Chris' hard work.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Lion Forge and Oni Press Merger News Inspires Mixed Emotions

Lion Forge was a small publisher that grew impressively. Based here in Saint Louis it at first focused mostly on digital content but then expanded into all kinds of cool and exciting published works that gave it a great, "Voice," of not quite being a super artsy-publisher or simply another offshoot super-hero label, it was just full of great stuff. Back in 2015 I was writing about my enjoyment of the publisher and since then have often said glowing things. I mean, it is a highly-respected comic publisher based here in Saint Louis, how awesome is that? Well, I read the news today which seemed to be reported all over with slightly differing tones how Lion Forge was going to be merging with another popular publisher of comics--Oni Press. As a result of this a number of employees may be let-go from each company and Lion Forge is going to move much (if not all) of their resources to Portland, Oregon (a city that is known for having a chunk of publishers).

I'm happy for Lion Forge and Oni Press, it is great they have been able to reach a deal that will hopefully assist both soon-to-be-merged publishers in generating further success with their great comics. That said, I am sad that this Saint Louis-based publisher is going to be leaving as it was something I felt very proud we had. I also have some friends/associates who have worked for Lion Forge in the past or actively are working for it and some may be impacted by this merger while others will have their positions be less affected. They all are in my thoughts as a merger is stressful for everyone involved in the numerous complicated aspects. I am clearly feeling a mixture of emotions, but in the end I just want everyone from both companies have everything work out for the best--and even more splendid comics to be made.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Television Tuesday: We're Seriously Doing This XFL Thing Again?

Back in 2018 a businessman who has worked extensively within and led the WWF (now WWE) and is known for making a lot of money off of treating his employees terribly, Vince McMahon, announced he was actually going to try and do the XFL again, despite all logic. Details were sparse other than it would be football that is rougher, faster, and players would have to stand for the Pledge because I guess the idea is, "Fuck these men and their politics who are damaging their bodies for our entertainment." Should you have been born anytime before 2001 or so you might be getting a bit of deja-vu recalling how the XFL was already a thing that happened and failed spectacularly. I'd highly recommend the ESPN documentary, "This Was the XFL," so you can see just how badly things went. Well, this whole thing is still happening with deals apparently struck to get the games aired on television and the cities set to host teams are still all-in (including Saint Louis, which if our experience with the Rams shows anything we don't need a Football when we have a perfectly great Hockey and Baseball teams)

The, "New," XFL is working its hardest to have an image of competence and respectability with a commissioner named Oliver Luck who actually seems quite smart and hard-working (also, they gave him a lot of money to toss common-sense to the side and do this). The XFL is set to start again in the spring of 2020, so with nine or so months left a whole lot still seems up in the air (team names, the exact differences in rules from the NFL, who is even playing) and I'm wondering if this will simply be a failure or an incredible failure--e.g. it crashes and burns after a couple drab seasons or implodes almost right way like the first time. I guess once the games start airing in the Spring of 2020 we'll see what happens. I'm not holding my breath for any wild success stories.