Sunday, July 14, 2019

July 2019's Toyman Show was Stellar Fun!

Today was another edition of one show I always enjoy attending--Toyman! Being held 8 times this year, it is always a pleasure to attend thanks to how much stellar stuff there is (and how well organized the all the vendors, artists, and so forth are). With a wide range of people selling almost any kind of toy you can think of (new or old) to many comic-vendors, and a lot of cool artists and creators, I always have a wonderful time and find cool stuff I want to take home. I'll talk about some of the rad items I acquired at today's show and stellar people I met now!

One of the first vendors I really enjoyed chatting with were the guys from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. They just opened this June in O'Fallon Illinois. I had the pleasure of trading some of my stuff for a fun trio of Silver Age comics. My favorite is that wild cover for, "The Flash," that I've seen before and always wanted to own! Another great vendor was Each Sold Separately who had all sorts of awesome toys and collectibles. Paul Spangenberg of Nightcire Toys & Crafts was really fun to speak with as well, he had an assortment of fun wooden projects and toys that were very neat and very reasonably priced. I also saw my good friend Eric of STL Comics (who has an awesome Micro Con coming up July 28th) and my chum Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles.

I continued to do some more shopping and while I wasn't looking for a Batmobile, this die-cast toy just looked too appealing to pass-up! After I bought that I spoke with some authors of assorted cool books upstairs. I met Star Huddleston who is the writer and illustrator of the book, "What Am I?" about a real-life unique animal I won't spoil the species of, but which was fascinating to learn about. I next spoke with Dee Livers who paints beautiful watercolor creations and writes as well as illustrates an assortment of great children's books. Lastly, I met author and professional model Leigh Savage who was selling an assortment of spicy and exciting erotica books. The special guest at the show was Jeremy Miller of, "Growing Pains," fame and providing the voice of Linus in classic, "Charlie Brown," cartoons. He was super-nice and a joy to chat with as well. I'm just scratching the surface of the 140+ vendors and creators, but clearly a wide range of great products and talent was present!

Today's Toyman Show was wonderful fun. I am already pumped for the next one this August 4th and know that the founder and showrunner, Chris McQuillen will ensure yet another show is had!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Yet Another Streaming Service? Really?

Hey you, remember when the idea with Cable was that you could pay one flat fee and get a whole lot of content? Remember how eventually it got broken-up into various tiers of content, followed by other, "Premium," channels and then stuff got so fragmented it pissed everyone off? I remember.

Oh, hey you, yeah you again. Remember how when the idea of streaming shows kicked-off it was just one or two streaming services that allowed you to get all the content you want in basically a single place, much like cable was early-on? Yeah? I imagine you notice now how with all these different individual streaming-services that carry different fees and have differing content it kind of feels like the pain of when cable got so fragmented, doesn't it? It is annoying as Hell to think you need to get on one app for their exclusive program and then switch-over to another for reruns of a show you love, and yet another for some other damn show and now you're paying more than you ever did for cable just to get the handful of programs you like. Well, I have news. No, it is not good news, it is just news. We're getting another streaming service!

Say hello to HBO MAX and then after, "Hello," feel free to go, "Hell No." Now you'll be able to enjoy/despair over a bunch of content owned by Warner Brothers being exclusive to yet another streaming-service you have to shell-out dough for. You can now pay to access certain shows from the CW that won't be coming to other streaming services that used to carry the shows, like that upcoming, "Batwoman," program. There will be exclusive content too you'll have to get this service for, and Netflix is going to lose the rights to, "Friends," so if you ever want to be able to (legally) stream that again get ready to buy HBO MAX because could you be anymore tired of this shit? Oh, and there is HBO too, obviously, so who knows how that affects the standalone HBO-streaming service.

Yes, this is truly a brave new world we are entering. We'll be able to enjoy watching, "Orange is the New Black," on Netflix, then switch to Hulu for some of, "The Handmaid's Tale," followed by activating our Disney+ to watch a classic Disney cartoon, then we'll start streaming HBO MAX to catch-up on, "Westworld," before we turn-on Amazon Prime's service for some, "Good Omens," and then our smart-device explodes in our hands from the sheer stress of all these damn services existing with me having not even named all the most notable ones (CBS All Access, YouTube Red, countless more niche services)!

At this point it might actually just be cheaper to have Cable with a DVR and to pirate your favorite streaming shows (I don't endorse this at all, I'm just observing the costs). Hell, it might even make more sense to just buy a DVD collection of a one of those streaming-shows whenever they sometimes come out as paradoxical as it sounds for some folk to be buying DVDs nowadays. I'm sorry if I sound snippy, but I feel like this whole war of streaming services is turning into a huge mess where the biggest victim is the consumer.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Just a Reminder For Everyone Who Has Forgotten: The Punisher is a Villain

It astounds me this needs to be said, but Frank Castle AKA the Punisher is not someone to admire or look-up to. He is a villain who represents someone so traumatized by terrible event (the death of his family in mob cross-fire) he takes it upon himself to wage his own one-man war on crime, justifying his murdering of countless people as him only killing, "Those who deserve it." The Punisher is what happens when a human being no longer has any compassion, heart, or remorse, only rage and the training (thanks to his military experience) to manifest his murderous intentions effectively. The Punisher is symbolic of someone who no longer believes in the rule of law outside of his own narrow definition of who is innocent and who is guilty and needs to be killed. He is an interesting character to read about or see play-off of other people in comics, but he is not a good person. He maybe is not some straight-up bad-guy like the Green Goblin or Sebastian Shaw (two random examples), but he is no hero. Okay?

Why am I going on about this? Two reasons. First off, there is an unfortunate trend of those who serve in the military adopting the Punisher logo (a uniquely-designed skull) as a signal of pride because Frank Castle was in the military as well(generally he is written as having been a Marine). His being in the military is maybe one of the few admirable things about the Punisher, but that was long before he became the terrible monster he has been written as in the comics. Also, his logo is now popping-up among police organizations. The idea of police officers wanting to co-opt the signal is atrocious, with my own region of Saint Louis having become a topic of discussion due to Facebook groups of police officers having it leak that these groups were full of racist imagery, hate speech, and the Punisher's logo. In a misguided attempt to back their fellow officers some Police unions have encouraged their members to post a bunch of Punisher-imagery too, which seems to completely miss the point about how the police should not be protecting their worst officers who bring a bad name to the law, but instead should work to expose the rotten elements so as to have accountability and make people less terrified of cops--but I digress.
You've really missed the point if this is a logo you support.
I applaud the St. Louis Police Commissioner, Colonel John W. Hayden Jr. for this statements against this idea of police unions posting Punisher-imagery, with him releasing a statement that quotes one of the Punisher's own creators--Gerry Conway--as saying if anything the Punisher represents a lack of law and order. Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about the Punisher is aware he is a violent vigilante who interprets right-and-wrong to his own benefit. He is not a good man and the idea of law enforcement officers wanting to emulate him or his views is frankly terrifying. If police unions desire to express their support for fellow officers there are much better ways to do it than using the Punisher's skull as some sort of strange endorsement of the worst opinions people hold of police--that they take the law into their own hands and can't be trusted. There are countless members of the police who are good people and do care about equality and, "Justice for all," so it is just saddening to see a significant chunk make things looks so sketchy, because again, the Punisher is a bad guy (as I keep saying in this point to drill it in). Let's use some common sense, people. Please?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Piece of News that Brought Me Joy and One That Resulted in a Mildly-Interested Shrug

What's In the News?
Today two announcements were made and one has me pretty excited and the other elicited a shrug. Shall we break them down?

Joy: Jeff Lemire Writing a, "The Question," Mini-Series
I have discussed on the blog before my immense love for certain iterations of, "The Question," especially the one written by Denny O'Neil with art often by Denys Cowans and Bill Seinkewicz. Well, today it was announced none other than the fantastic writer Jeff Lemire will be doing a project for DC's Black Label (it lived while Vertigo sadly died) about good ol' Vic Sage with art actually also being done by Cowans and Seinkewicz! This is fantastic news and a wonderful break from how the Black Label so far seems to be about 90% books involving Batman, Harley Quinn, or the Joker. Oh, and as if to prove that point Lemire is also doing another Black Label book with Andrea Sorrentino about...the Joker. It'll at least look gorgeous with Sorrentino doing art at least.

Zack Snyder is Making an Animated Show About Vikings for Netflix
When Zack Snyder isn't busy refusing to stop talking about his plans for, "Justice League," movies that now are just fever-dreams of fans (I could go the rest of my life without hearing about the so-called demand for a, "Snyder Cut," thank you) or threatening to make a movie out of one of Ayn Rand's books he now apparently has a new project. Tired of being told to, "Put up or shut-up," by everyone it seems Snyder will be making an animated show about Vikings for Netflix in the vein of popular, "Anime," series even though I don't understand how it can call itself anime if only American companies or folk are involved. As this is Zack Snyder we're talking about I'm sure the show will be incredibly grim, gritty, and possibly entertaining in spurts when it is able to get over itself and Snyder's worst impulses (I mean, I actually liked, "Batman VS Superman," after all).

There Was the News

I'm pumped for Lemire's take on, "The Question," and vaguely interested in what Zack Snyder has in store with his interpretation of Viking lore. That was the notable news for me today, at least, and I wanted to share my thoughts!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tom Scioli Doing a, "Fantastic Four," Comic? Yes Please!

Well, Marvel found a way to make me read a, "Fantastic Four," comic willingly again. Seriously, I don't think I've been excited to read a book specifically focused on the team such Jonathan Hickman's run started back in--lemme check my notes here--2009? God, it has been awhile (of course the book was canceled for a good deal of time too). I don't know why there are so few, "Fantastic Four," runs I like, but that just seems to be the case--I've always liked Doctor Doom though. Anyways, Tom Scioli, whom I have often sung the praises of, is going to be doing one of those, "Grand Design," mini-series where a whole bunch of Marvel history is summed-up. Ed Piskor did it with the X-Men recently and now Scioli is going to give us two big honking issues of his take on the Fantastic Four.

This has me ecstatic as Scioli  of course is amazing in the fact he basically he does everything with his comics. He writes them, illustrates them, colors them, letters them, and I suspect he may very well be down at the printing-press stapling his books too for good measure. I may not have too many, "Fantastic Four," story-lines I am a big fan of, but I know without a doubt I'll enjoy seeing Scioli's take on the team's legacy. Yeah, I'm pretty pumped for this.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Television Tuesday: My One Thought on "The Bachelorette," This Season

"The Bachelorette," has been on and I've barely watched it as I will admit to not being a huge fan of Hannah B. I don't hate her, but I also lack much of any enthusiasm in watching her as the lead on a season of a "Bachelor"/"Bachelorette" program. That said I do have one thought on the season: I am surprised they found someone even more unlikable than Colton so fast in the form of Jed Wyatt.

Yes, I have often discussed how much I did not care for Colton (just look at many of my posts on the show) due to how outright bland and aggressively dull he is. That season of, "The Bachelor," that led to Hannah's current gig featured him basically shrugging-off at the end some women who were very interested in him for Cassie, who started-out the show seeming sweet but by the end was so wishy-washy about whether she liked Colton or not it infuriated everybody watching. That's nothing compared to Jed Wyatt though, a man who apparently told his girlfriend he was doing, "The Bachelorette," simply to get famous, had sex with her the day before he came on the show, and then supposedly fell in love with Hannah and if leaks are to believed, he was her final choice.
Jed Wyatt, keeping things sleazy.
Oh, Jed also apparently cheated on Hannah with a yet another woman in this mix and at this point his rumored engagement to Hannah has been broken-off by her and she's just outright left him. Again, it is all hearsay until the show actually broadcasts its conclusion (everyone on the show has signed NDAs and has to stay mum about the juiciest details for now), but if any of this is true, just damn. With all this happening my one thought continues to be how I'm just amazed it only took a season for someone truly disgusting to get everyone's hate after just how miserable a person Colton was--although to his credit he was never a cheater and liar, just as exciting a watching paint dry. At this point the zany laid-back fun of, "Bachelor in Paradise," can't get here soon enough.

Monday, July 8, 2019

I Flipped Through, "Secret Empire," and Only Like Two Things About It

I previously did a, "Tale From the Dollar Bin," discussing an issue of, "Secret Empire," and how terrible I thought it was. Curiosity had me wondering if reading a collection of the whole event might help change my mind even a little, so I checked a copy out from my awesome local library and proceeded to kind-of read it and kind-of aimlessly flip through the book when I found it too atrocious to pay my full attention. There are only two thing I think I like about, "Secret Empire." Let's discuss.

1. It has an utterly insane scene with Hank Pym/Ultron hosting a Thanksgiving-styled dinner to a bunch of trapped Avengers.
Some years ago there was that weird thing where Hank Pym and Ultron merged into a single person (it was called, "Rage of Ultron," and it is pretty forgettable) which then was mostly promptly forgotten about except for his popping-up now and then. In the 4th issue of, "Secret Empire," he entraps both the Nazified Steve Rogers and a bunch of Avengers fighting against him (a robotic Tony Stark who I think was still in a coma from, "Civil War II," and other folk) in a replica of the Avengers mansion and proceeds to cheerily serve them a Thanksgiving-esque dinner.

He proceeds to go on a variety of angry rants about feeling unappreciated before having sudden mood-swings and being happy again. It is just completely bonkers enough that in this terrible event full of awful decisions it is deliciously absurd and actually kinda works. I mean, we've already got a Nazi Captain America and a hologram Tony Stark who apparently is running off of a program that simulates him being drunk, so why not throw-in Pymtron (as the internet calls him) and just have shit get even more crazy? If, "Secret Empire," is a mess, at least this dinner is a delightful moment of embracing the sheer chaos.

2. Elements of it are drawn-upon in Ta-Nehisi Coates current stellar run on, "Captain America."
When Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote the newest re-launch of, "Captain America," he could have tried to completely ignore the mess that was, "Secret Empire," but instead he leaned-into certain aspects. Coates introduced us to an America that felt confused and betrayed by the idea that someone who looked just like Steve Rogers spouted hate. Coates played-up the fact that a lot of people would wonder if the Captain America who was supposedly back and beat the evil one was a good-guy. With that concept Coates has been doing a stellar job on the book creating a complex mystery full of conspiracy and deceit.

In a world where even the symbol of all that is supposedly good--Captain America--could be used for evil who can the people of America trust? Coates has dived deep into this concept and the way he has taken a God-awful event and seen the potential in it to create a masterful story is as impressive as it is wonderful to read. If we had to go through, "Secret Empire," to get to Coates run on, "Captain America," I guess it was worth it.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

"Sobek," by James Stokoe is Amazing--Like all of His Work

James Stokoe is an amazing artist, with an intricate and detailed style that makes simply reading any page he has illustrated a pleasurable process where your eyes absorb pure beauty. I was intrigued when I saw he would have a comic title, "Sobek," within the cool quarterly comic-collection that comes out from, "Shortbox," and was doubly excited when, "Sobek," could be ordered individually as opposed to part of the whole box (handy if you're watching your funds). The comic is both written and illustrated by Stokoe, and is a fantastic read. It is a story about the gigantic Crocodile God, Sobek, and what he gets up to when his worshipers come with news of another God's followers (Set) taking-over a nearby city.

The writing is clever, with Sobek's acolytes speaking to him with great reverence and fear, while meanwhile Sobek is actually a really chill dude. Much of the comic simply follows him making his way to the city where he will confront Set and how the journey involves swimming, snacking, and taking ample naps in the sun. When Sobek finally confronts Set he doesn't even seem angry or annoyed, just tells Set to please leave and then smacks him around until Set takes-off. Meanwhile, everyone around Sobek talks to him with dramatic and appreciative flair, while Sobek just keeps things laid-back.

My main reason for wanting to read the book was of course the artwork (the writing is stellar, but I adore Stokoe's drawing), and it astounds. Sobek is massive and imposing-looking but has a kind and relaxed face that imparts he is a friendly fellow. His journey to confront set shows us an amazing and gorgeous variety of landscapes. The, onnce he and Set do fight it is kinetic and otherwise incredible. Stokoe is a master of the comic-book art-form and, "Sobek," serves as another stupendous example of his exemplary abilities.
5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, July 5, 2019

The End of, "Mad Magazine," is Sad and Was Inevitable

Word started leaking late-ish Wednesday that, "Mad Magazine," was for all intents and purposes shutting-down. From now on to keep the trademark its owner, DC Comics (yep, they acquired it some time ago), will just reprint old material every now and again. This means, "Mad Magazine," as we know/knew it is dead. This is both sad considering the publication was a cultural icon for its 67 years of existence, and arguably was inevitable. The, "Inevitable," comes from basically the internet, because at this point the internet can be both thanked and blamed for everything. What was once an audience eager to read a magazine's take on something dumb a politician did or to witness jokes about a movie/television show is now an audience that creates their own content via memes, YouTube videos, and snarky tweets. Nowadays if you want a humorous opinion on your hit show you don't need to wait for a publication to discuss it, you can hop online and see never-ending jokes and hot-takes within minutes of something everyone is talking about.

Polygon agrees with me on this that while everyone from Baby Boomers to folk born before 2000 or so may have some fond memories of reading, "Mad Magazine," how many of us still actually read it as opposed to just liking the idea of it still existing? Then, for everyone born after the new century arrived how many of them even ever picked-up a copy to read? The answer to both of those questions is obvious with, "Mad Magazine," now ending besides the occasional reprint of material that fits a specific theme (e.g. "Mad about the 1980's," or such). As time marches on another era comes to an end. It is sad, even if it was to be expected.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Have a Fun and Safe July 4th!

Should you be a resident of the United States, today is of course a big ol' day of celebration. Anywhere else in the World it is simply the fourth day of July. If you're here in America please have plenty of fun and stay safe. Be careful with your phone too, as this is actually the most dangerous day of the year for them (don't go dropping it on grills or in pools)!