Sunday, March 31, 2019

Reminder: Those Disney, "Black Diamond," VHS Tapes Continue to Be Worthless

Whenever I am looking for deals on my favorite websites or apps to buy, sell and trade it amuses me to see those people who think they have a piece of junk worth a bunch of money. There are the folk with some really common and unpopular comic from the 1990's who are positive it must be worth at least 100 bucks because, "It's in great shape," and others who insist that their vintage metallic toy has a value of $500 or more...even though its clearly a reproduction of an older toy (that even if it were authentic would fetch all of $50). One thing that always makes me laugh however, is the continued insistence of some people that their Disney VHS cassettes that you can find for a buck at the thrift shop are hold value of thousands upon thousands of smackers. As with all things, you can blame the internet for that.

As a quick search will reveal (on many sites), old Disney VHS tapes are maybe worth anywhere from $5-$45 in the classic clam-shell design some people refer to as being of the, "Black Diamond Collection." Unfortunately, an article in 2016 by Tech Times simply looked at what people wanted for Disney movies and assumed rubes were actually paying thousands for Disney tapes. In other words, there were a handful of people posting stuff at dumb prices for absurd reasons, then this article came out and inspired a bunch of people to dig-out their dusty Disney tapes and also post them for laughably-high asking prices. Sadly, since 2016 other sites have perpetuated this myth of imaginary value. Seriously, as recently as February of this year there have been websites with new articles that have authors who clearly didn't do their research.

Oh you poor, misguided fools!
Look, I get it, the idea that we could suddenly achieve some big windfall from something we thought was worthless is always an appealing concept. It is one reason we love to watch programs like, "Antiques Roadshow," or, "American Pickers," but often the people on those shows who are bringing things to be appraised or selling stuff to pickers are collectors themselves who have some relative idea of the value of what they own/ have inherited from a deceased relative who bought the item when it was in fact worthless. Some movies you got in the 1980's and 1990's aren't anywhere near the realm of those kind of antiques. Maybe in a couple centuries your great-grandchildren will discover your treasure-trove of tapes is worth some cash, but as of right now you can't expect your retirement fund to be supported by some copies of, "Beauty and the Beast."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Dave Sim Can Shut-Up Anytime Now

Just this Wednesday I was telling Zack Snyder to quit with his going on about the supposed amazing vision he had for the DC Cinematic Universe (may it rest in peace). Now it is Saturday and I'm telling Dave Sim he can shut-up anytime now--although, compared to what Sim is rambling-on about if I had to pick I'd listen to Snyder before Sim any day. Basically, Sim is outdated in his views on gender and sexuality, and not just a little, but horrifically so. He also thinks he ought to complain about LGBTQ people being too sensitive and how women need to quit whining about sexual harassment, all of which is expressed in the solicits for an upcoming comic of his.

Sim admittedly has amazing cartooning skills and managed to put out 300 issues of his big self-published indie comic, "Cerebus the Aardvark," over a a great numbers of years (with some assistance from Gerhard to make the backgrounds look prettier at the 65th issue and on). That's an impressive feat, but as, "Cerebus," kept going it morphed from a vague parody of Conan the Barbarian into a weird diatribe against everyone from women to the, "feminist/homosexual axis." Now we are in 2019 and Sim wants to express his dissatisfaction about how those darn gays and trans people are annoying him and women need to shut-up and let men grope them. This of course is the same Dave Sim who openly admitted/bragged about how he groomed a 14 year-old girl for a relationship (something which the morons in Comicsgate chose to defend as their chum Ethan Van Sciver rationalized it was all good) and waited until she was just old enough to legally have sex with before doing so and then dumping her. This is one of hundreds of reasons he has zero right to claim the moral high-ground in any discussion—especially about Feminist and/or LGBTQ issues. Dave Sim can shut-up anytime now.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Wizard World Saint Louis Starts a Week from Today!

As of today we are now just a week-or-so away from the start of Wizard World Saint Louis. I always enjoy attending the show and plan to be there yet again this year, reporting on all the cool folk I meet, great cosplay I witness, and awesome stuff I acquire. With guests including but not limited to Jason Momoa, Chris Kattan, Ty Templeton, Holly Marie Combs, Lou Ferrigno, Arvell Jones (co-creator of Misty Knight), Ernie Hudson, Alaina Huffman, Rick Burchett, and Sean Astin, there are lots of people to see in addition to enjoying the usual cool assortment of vendors, programming, and other fun stuff.

The show will run from 4PM-9PM Friday, 10AM-7PM Saturday, and 10AM-4PM Sunday at the America's Center, 701 Convention Plaza, Saint Louis, MO, 63101. You can buy tickets for the show as well as VIP or photo packages with the guests at this link. I look forward to seeing everyone there!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Just Stop, Zack Snyder

As Snyder tells it, we just don't realize how amazing he truly is.
By now many of us know the facts as well as the rumors. Zack Snyder directed, "Batman VS Superman," and popular reaction was mixed-to-negative. He then started-out directing, "Justice League," but said he was stepping away to take time to mourn the death of his daughter who had died from suicide. Joss Whedon stepped-in and apparently rewrote a chunk of the script and re-shot 1/3 of the movie, but didn't get a co-director credit so much as some production ones. As Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon are about as tonally different as you can get when it comes to directors many feel, "Justice League," is full of tonal clashes at best, a total mess at worst.

Now, depending on whom you ask Snyder actually shot a whole bunch of footage that was erased and there is some kind of, "Snyder cut," that is super-long and fits his vision he started with, "Man of Steel," and, "Batman VS Superman." Also, there are rumors Snyder didn't leave the movie to grieve so much as he was fired when Warner Brothers (owners of DC and its films) thought what Snyder had created was a nonsensical abomination and told him to just give an excuse for getting booted from the flick. Whatever the case, "Justice League," came out and made some good money, but few people had fond opinions about it and Warner Brothers realized if they just made movies only vaguely-connected (or not at all connected) to each other as opposed to trying to copy Marvel's cinematic universe they could have much more success. Meanwhile, Snyder is essentially banned from touching anything related to DC and its films now.

Snyder directing, "Justice League," before Warner Brothers supposedly ruined his vision.
What has Zack Snyder been up to, then? Basically talking to anyone who will listen (or whom he can trap in a room and force to listen) about how grand his ideas were for future, "Justice League," movies and that his downfall was due to a vocal minority who whined about how he wanted to have Batman murder people with Batmobile guns or were bent out of shape when Superman killed Zod. I'll tell you Zack, it is a lot more than that. As someone who actually kind of liked, "Batman VS Superman," even I'll admit it was a hodgepodge of half-realized ideas, confusing character motivations, extremely dreary, and if it represents the closest thing to your, "Vision," being undiluted, maybe its for the best DC wants to keep your far away from its properties now.

I get that you are mad at WB/DC for stopping you from whatever it was you were trying to accomplish, but complaining relentlessly about how amazing you are and that a supposed, "Vocal minority," of people who didn't like your work somehow crushed your dreams of, um, having Darkseid brutally murder Lois Lane, is absurd. As my headline says, just stop, Zack Snyder, please! If you really want to display how talented you are make more classics like your earlier films such mean, the opening credits of, "Watchmen," were cool. Plus, "300," had some nice special effects. Oh, and, "Sucker Punch," was a movie that existed. Yeah, I think listing Snyder's flicks that he supposedly thinks are masterpieces really gets across the point he needs to quit yammering on.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Return of, "The Ride," Sounds Promising

Something That Caught My Attention
I don't generally do a cut-and-paste of when a comic company announces a new book as unless I have some unique insight to add what's the point? That said, the announcement of a new mini-series called, "The Ride: Burning Desire," to commemorate how the first mini relating to, "The Ride," came out 15 years ago as of 2019 was written just right to catch my attention. "The Ride," has always followed a wide range of characters with no connection to each other besides a unique car that somehow becomes involved in all kinds of stories that can range from gritty to wacky. Here is the announcement of the new mini-series below with some musings of my own after.

The Press Release Begins...
PORTLAND, OR 03/26/2019 — Image Comics is pleased to announce that The Ride will celebrate its 15th anniversary with an all-new, five-part story from the award-winning team of Plastic—Doug Wagner and Daniel Hillyard. This action-packed miniseries will launch from Image Comics in June and will feature special backup content from Adam Hughes.

“Fifteen years? Really? Well then, I guess I’d better turn up the heat on this one,” said Wagner. “Let’s see. How about…Unicorn onesies, love paddles, leather bunny ears, a guy in a Sailor Moon outfit that’s way too tight, an angel with only one arm and a heroin problem, a hairless dwarf, and a disavowed detective whose past desperately wants her burned alive—are all going to take a road trip in a classic ’68 Camaro that may or may not be cursed. The Ride 15th anniversary is going to be a wild, disturbing, and excessively violent tale of redemption. Welcome to what I like to call FETISH NOIR!”

After serving a hard 15 years in prison on a murder plea, former Atlanta P.D. detective Samantha Vega now makes her living as a bouncer at an exotic dance club. But life on the outside isn’t easy, especially when enemies have scores to settle…

Back to Me
Adam Hughes' crazy variant cover.
I mean come on, people, doesn't that description of what to expect read as deliciously absurd? "Fetish Noir," has to be the best new term I've heard in a while to describe a story. I've enjoyed previous editions of, "The Ride," and quite liked, "Plastic," so I'm excited to see what, "The Ride: Burning Desire," holds for us readers when it starts in June!

Television Tuesday: Making Sense of, "Word Party."

We try to limit Clarkson's screen-time. He does get to watch some shows he likes however. Besides the random programs he inexplicably loves ("The Price is Right," and, "Wheel of Fortune,") he enjoys programs geared toward kids. One of these is, "Word Party," on Netflix and the lack of its backstory bugs me to no end. It is set in a futuristic nursery with indoor and outdoor sections and which houses some humanoid animal-babies--an elephant, wallaby, cheetah, and panda, to be exact. No one else lives there, just robots that assist them with tasks like knowing what time it is (play-time, nap-time, etc.) or bringing them food. There is a narrator-lady too they seem to be able to hear, but that's basically it. The animal-babies learn new words every episode with the assistance of viewers as well as general life-advice (when to use the bathroom, the importance saying, "Excuse me," after you burp, and so forth). It is fun, but I can't make sense of it--why are these animal babies here, and where are the humans? Well, through combining ideas from other stories I've enjoyed as well as a handful of my own concepts I think I've finally come to some conclusions about the world, "Word Party," takes place in.

I'm 99% sure, "Word Party," is set in a post-apocalyptic future. I believe these animal-human hybrids were being created in some kind of, "Hatchery," to be used as weapons of war (much like the comic, "Elephantmen,"), but the world ended in fiery destruction leaving behind basically no life besides some hatchery-babies that were forgotten about, born/came out of special womb-simulating machines, and now live in an idyllic-yet-lonely facility while the outside world burns. The robots are still around, doing the tasks they were programmed to do with or without human input, in a manner reminiscent of, "There Will Come Soft Rains," a thoughtful and depressing short-story written by Ray Bradbury. The only humans we ever witness are ones in little videos or pictures the baby-animals watch on a robo-screen to assist them in learning--old leftover files created when outside life still existed. I would assume the unseen narrator is herself an A.I. dutifully teaching the animal-babies in order to prepare them to enter a world that the AI is unaware has long since ended, beaming her directives over speakers.
The baby-animal hybrids could've been planned to grow into weapons of war, right?
I know I've said before how I hate wacky fan-theories for television shows, and I myself am indulging in one here, so yes, mea culpa. Still, hasn't anyone else ever tuned-in to something and found themselves infuriated enough by plot-holes they start concocting elaborate explanations to satisfy their own curiosity? I mean, it can't be just me and this guy who tried to solve the infamous Tori Paradox from, "Saved by the Bell," right? I may sound crazy, but if, "Word Party," wants to refuse to give us any context for its world of animal-human hybrids and robots, I'm just going to come-up with an explanation myself.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mini-Run Review: "Off Girl," #1-#4

A short time ago the writer of an indie comic named Tina Fine reached-out to me over Twitter (as some comic-makers do) so as to see if I'd like to review her ongoing series. Titled, "Off Girl," she sent me four issues that featured her writing and art by Mark Reihill. The, "Hook," of comic as it were is that a young woman named Julia has a severe problem in that anytime she orgasms men in her general vicinity end-up dead. This has resulted in her taking various pills to dull her arousal so that she can at least have some degree of a sex-life and because without medication she very easily gets, "Off," as the title of the book implies.

With a concept like this the comic could go in the direction of being more of a sex-comedy or straight-up horror, and it does a pretty good job utilizing both tones. The book tries to not be overly raunchy, giving it a PG-13 kind of feel which is acceptable and maybe helps the book be marketable to more folk, but makes me wonder what Fine and Reihill might do if they decided to go in more of a hard-R direction. The earlier issues are about Julia essentially trying valiantly to avoid having an orgasm, but then the plot gets a lot more complicated as it brings in a serial killer subplot, shadowy government conspiracies, biblical prophecies, and space-aliens. Yes, aliens.

All of story-lines happening at once threatens to make the book feel overloaded with ideas but Fine writes everything in enough of a self-aware way that it manages to work for the most part. Julia knows how the idea her orgasms can kill men is pretty crazy so she doesn't struggle to shrug-off just how bizarre the world can get. Reihill's artwork is enjoyable, giving the sexy-moments a nice erotic sheen and the more terrifying bits a suitably dark and ominous feel as well. As the general plot of the comic is a sexual one I'm pleased to report Reihill does a fantastic job illustrating sexy women and men--he draws a great six-pack of abs on a gent or silky lingerie on a woman.

The comic hints at the idea of Julia using her gift/curse as a kind of super-power, but isn't really a super-hero comic so much as an interesting mixture of sex-comedy-meets-horror. Picture something in the vein of that cult-classic movie, "Club Dread," that both made fun of and indulged in horror and sex cliches and you have a pretty solid idea, but of course, "Off Girl," doesn't get as down-and-dirty as, "Club Dread," did, as I mentioned before (side-note: I actually saw, "Club Dread," with my mother in theaters when I was a teenager; the rampant sex and nudity made the experience a tad awkward). I'm perfectly alright with the book not exactly moving in a hero-direction as I greatly enjoy the mix of funny and scary it gives us--even if the many plot-points at times are a bit overwhelming.
One of my favorite jokes is when Julia is scared airplane turbulence will arouse her too much,
so they request pills and tons of nervous fliers have them. As someone who hates flying, I relate.
The first four issues of, "Off Girl," are good fun, with fantastic artwork and a phenomenal mixture of sexiness, humor, and terror. Whenever it starts to feel a little too complicated with assorted twists and turns Fine's ability to always keep things grounded through her likable protagonist, Julia, makes it all work out quite well in the end. I'd rate the first four issues as overall being 4 out of 5 stars. There are a couple more issues that have come out since the first four I was provided digital copies of for the purposes of review and I know I'll be checking these later issues out seeing as how much I enjoyed what I have read! You can buy print copies via the web-store as well as purchase issues for download if you like your comics in the digital format and I would encourage you to do so as, "Off Girl," was off-tastic. Yeah, that was a bad pun, I'm sorry.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Marvel Announced Some Comics at C2E2 This Friday and Saturday

Yesterday and today at C2E2 Marvel announced some comics. Some sound like events that might have lots of tie-ins (or we already know will thanks to previous statements) and others are more like mini-series. In chronological order...

War of the Realms, April 2019
This has already been announced, hyped, has tons of comics that relate to it, and I don't really have any interest in the thing. It relates to Thor and the Ten Realms of his mythological people. It has an absurd amount of tie-in comics and I'll perhaps read some summaries of it online and may inadvertently read one or two books that relate to it if they are titles I already enjoy that are dragged into the ordeal. One thing tangentially related to it that does sound fun though is a, "Valkyrie," series co-written by Al Ewing and Jason Aaron (no announced artist yet, I believe).

House of X and Powers of X, July 2019
This is what Marvel was teasing with those odd little promos the past weeks. Jonathan Hickman is returning to Marvel and doing two mini-series of six issues each involving a great deal of X-Men. They are titled, "House of X," and, "Powers of X," and apparently the letter X is supposed to be pronounced as a, "Ten," which is maybe some kind of story-hint. Many predicted he was going to be doing an, "Eternals," comic but as I generally love Hickman's work I am happy to see him doing whatever he's passionate about.

Absolute Carnage, August 2019
I have a big soft spot for Venom as someone who was a kid in the 1990's. That said, Carnage has often struck me as an attempt to do an even edgier and more bloodthirsty villain that tries way too hard. However, the newly announced, "Absolute Carnage," has Donny Cates writing it and Ryan Stegman is doing the art, so between those two stellar talents I'm willing to give this comic (be it an event or mini-series) a shot. It invovles, "every single character who has ever worn a symbiote and every symbiote that has ever been, going all the way back to when Peter found the black suit,” and Carnage trying to hunt them all down and kill them. Considering how almost everybody has had a symbiote attach itself to them at some point or the other it isn't an exaggeration when Cates says how, "Everyone is a target."

Mystery Comic, December 2019
Nobody knows what this or could be, hence it being a mystery. Currently I've seen the guess that it could be something relating to the Ultimate Universe coming back in some shape or form. It's mindless speculation, but that could be fun if it happened. Between some of the announced stuff sounding good and other things making me shrug, it should be a decent 2019 for Marvel in terms of their comics--I already know with, "Avengers: Endgame," coming in April its film division is gonna be swimming in money.

Friday, March 22, 2019

This is Cool, a New, "Vampire: The Masquerade," Game Is Going to Happen

As someone with fond memories of the old PC game, "Vampire: The Masquerade--Bloodlines," I was pleased to hear that there has been a sequel in the works for some years that has now been revealed and which looks quite promising. The original game was great fun even if it was buggy mess without the fan-patches that were later created and the fact it has a colon and long dash is arguably a grammatical crime. The original game wasn't perfect, in other words, but many folk loved it, myself included. This new one sounds like it will have much improved combat and a fun plot whilst also maintaining its edgy vibe but perhaps adjusting story-elements that were questionable then and would be even more problematic to have these days (tone-deaf portrayals of mental illness, weirdly outdated sexism, and so forth).

I don't play video-games as much now but love well-developed worlds with interesting characters, something the first, "Bloodlines," had in ample supply. I'm excited for this sequel and hope that it isn't just on computers as my current laptop is way under-powered when it comes to playing games. Here's hoping it hits the PS4 too, perhaps. Whatever the case, I look forward to hearing more as further details are revealed and the game nears release in early 2020--still a ways off, but not too far.

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!

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, " 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.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Toyman Show Yesterday Was Just Plain Superb

I always have fun at the Toyman Show, but yesterday was simply sublime. I brought some stuff to trade/sell and acquired all kinds of awesome stuff whilst also chatting with some really cool creators. So much happened yesterday it took me until today to note it all down for this post.

Probably the coolest thing I got at the show was this astronaut G.I. Joe. I was talking with a vendor about his Batman wares and he asked if I was a fan of G.I. Joe; I honestly told him I generally was not, but he said I might find one item he had really cool. He proceeded to take out of its box and show me the above metallic figure, designed to look like it was on the Moon, and it really spoke to me. Perhaps it was because of my fondness for my Grandfather who worked for NASA, but I had to have it. We cut a deal and the figure was mine.

I proceeded to walk about running into some other chums of mine who sell comics at the show, including Eric of STL Comics and Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. Eric had a ton of cool $1 books this show and Spike had a gorgeous first issue of, "Ghost-Rider," which was CGC graded and quite snazzy. There were tons of other downstairs vendors as well with the usual wide-range of toys, comics, and fantastic antiques, I made to go upstairs too because as the show has grown more and more plenty of cool stuff is up there in addition to downstairs.

In the upstairs area there were more vendors, plus guests of the show Robert Mukes, Susanne Lamdin, and other cool folk. There were stellar authors, including friend of the blog Dan Killeen, from whom I bought the book on the left, "Tillie & Clementine & Mikey," which my wife and I are excited to read to Clarkson. I met Jessica Mathews from whom I bought the fun book, "The Old Man and Pirate Princess," which discusses not judging people based on how they looked--and contains a farting ninja (I had to have the book as soon as I heard about the farting ninja). The book's illustrator, Jennifer Stolzer was there too, and both Ms. Mathews and Ms. Stolzer were kind enough to sign the book.

I met author Dave Rudden who was selling his, "Age of Humanity," books that discuss a family dedicated to hunting the supernatural. Lastly, I had the pleasure of meeting J.E. Nelson who had a cool-sounding book titled, "The Power Within," about a middle-school student named Daphne who has autism and has to survive a zombie apocalypse. Ms. Nelson told me about how he own daughter had autism and she worked to make the book accurate about its portrayal of autism as opposed to how it is sometimes portrayed in unrealistic ways.

Downstairs I found an assortment of other random comics, but the most notable one I found this time was a cool old, "Moon Knight," issue I got from my good friend Phil Trapp of The Comic Grind, an amazing bus that has a comic-store inside (I've talked about it before, and it is really cool). It was a jam-packed day at the Toyman show and I as always have to thank Chris, "Toyman," McQuillen for having run such a spectacular show for so long that continues to be great every time I attend between the vendors, creators, and special guests. The next show is May 5th, at 12365 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, MO, 63044, as always, from 9AM-3PM, with 8AM early-bird entry if you can't wait to start checking-out all the goodies at the show. I hope to see any readers of the blog who are able to attend there!