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, "...is respectful of what Christians profess to believe. It’s not as respectful as to what they actually do. It’s not a satire of Christ so much as it is a satire on how his followers of the last 2,000 years have turned his message of forgiveness and empathy into one of power and domination, which is as un-Christlike as one can possibly imagine,”so this anger from certain demographics is laughable, frankly. Russell, Pace, and Ahoy Comics will also get to laugh, all the way to the bank, so good for them.

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!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Daylight Saving Time Starts Tomorrow, This Has ONE Positive

If only we could forget...
Daylight Saving Time begins tomorrow. I will spare you my usual rant and assortment of links about how studies have proven it is useless, because I always rail against DST. No, instead I will switch things up this year and say the one--count it--one positive thing about when Daylight Saving Time starts. What is that singular good thing? It stays brighter later.

Yes, out of all the terrible aspects involved with us having to, "Spring Forward," there is one element to be excited about, and that is how it suddenly feels like we have a whole extra hour of daylight in the evening. If you're someone like me who wants to quietly sob during the winter months when its pitch-black by 5PM the sudden influx of sunlight during March is delightful. Don't get wrong, I still think DST should abolished, but I guess even the most miserable metaphorical storm-cloud has a silver lining. That said, don't expect me to be cheery with the loss of an hour of sleep, I will be guzzling coffee and ready to cut a fool.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Many Great Shows and Cons Are Happening These Next Few Months

Much is Occurring
A Bunch of fantastic shows and comic-cons are happening in the area these next few months. I was thinking it could be fun to discuss them--the bigger and smaller--on my blog if for no other reason than it'll help me keep track of where I need to be some of these weekends!

Upcoming Great Times
March 10th: Toyman Show, 12365 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, MO, 63044
This Sunday is the latest Toyman show, and you already know I'm excited to attend and see what treasures I find. Guests include Robert Mukes, Susanne Lamdin, and more! Expect my usual report afterwards and I hope to see you there 9AM-3PM (8AM for early-bird entry).

March 16th: Wildcon 2019, 2645 Generations Dr., Wildwood, MO, 63040
I loved Wildcon when I attended this free convention last year full of comics, sci-fi, and fantsty. I was especially impressed with all the activities for kids. This year looks to continue the fun with artists, authors, card and video game tournaments, cosplay contests, and of course vendors of toys, comics, and more! It runs 10AM-5PM with activities focused especially for younger kids going 10AM to Noon.

April 5th-7th: Wizard World Saint Louis, America's Center, 701 Convention Plaza, Saint Louis, MO, 63101
One of the biggest shows that happens within the Saint Louis region, this year Wizard World has crowd-drawing celebrities in the form of Jason Momoa, Chris Kattan, Holly Marie Combs, Lou Ferrigno, and more. A variety of vendors and creators will be present too of course, but Wizard World gets a lot of its hype out of those celebrity guests that can have quite a following. Personally, I'm excited to meet Arvell Jones, who created Misty Knight with none other than Tony Isabella. This will be the 7th Wizard World show in Saint Louis I think, and the 6th I attend (I missed 2016). It'll run from 4PM-9PM Friday, 10AM-7PM Saturday, and 10AM-4PM Sunday.

April 13th: Big River Comic Convention, 301 Warren Barrett Dr, Hannibal, MO 63401
The first-ever BRCC in Hannibal, Missouri, is looking like it is going to be a stellar debut show. It may be a bit of drive to attend, but I'm going to go because I'm so pumped! Between the fantastic guests (famous creator Bob Hall, awesome actor Bishop Stevens, a bunch more), a schedule full of events, and plenty of vendors I am very eager to check out the first BRCC and report on all the fun I have. The show takes place from 9AM-5PM with tons of activities and contests occurring all day.

May 4th: Free Comic Book Day, At Various Stores, Libraries, Etc.
One of the most fun days of the year for comic-lovers, Free Comic Book Day is when publishers have special books given away to encourage both fans and new readers to find a comic they love. A wide range of locations will be celebrating this event throughout the whole day.

May 5th: Toyman Show, 12365 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, MO, 63044
I already mentioned the Toyman show on March 10th, but it is never too early to plan for the future. I already have this one marked on my calendar, of course running 9AM-3PM (8AM for early-bird entry).

A Lot to Plan For
There are many fantastic shows and cons happening that I plan to attend these next few months. It is going to be a fun Spring!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Cardi B and Bruno Mars Really Sound Like They Want to Have Sex

Look, just as I know Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are not secretly humping despite what the internet thinks, I am aware Bruno Mars and Cardi B are most likely not dating, hooking-up, or whatever it is folk do these days. That said, they really sound horny for each other in their new erotic single, "Please Me." Between Bruno stating how he is, "Begging," to be teased and pleased along with Cardi stating, "Dinner reservations like the pussy, you gon' eat out," in addition to, "Hit it one time, make it levitate," directly at Bruno, I really feel like Bruno Mars and Cardi B want to have sex. I know it isn't logical as these are of course professional music artists simply singing and rapping a song together, but between just how desperate Bruno sounds when he goes, "Please!" and the way they look at each other in the music video, a part of me says, "Yeah, they're doing it," regardless how absurd it is.

This is all silly, Bruno Mars has been in a long-term relationship with a model named Jessica Caban for years now and Cardi B has expressed publicly how she is focused on raising her daughter, Kulture Kiari Cephus, since divorcing her former husband (and Kulture's father), the rapper known as Offset. It goes against all reason to think Bruno and Cardi are having intercourse together, but man if they aren't great at creating that kind of vibe with this latest song.

I'm Wishing Alex Trebek the Absolute Best

Yesterday (it is a bit past Midnight here in Saint Louis) one of my favorite game-show hosts and generally all-around great guy Alex Trebeck came forward with the news that he has stage four pancreatic cancer. A number of headlines have come out about this, but the one that ends, "Damn, damn, damn," summarizes my views perfectly. Various forms of cancer have taken many people I cared about from my life, actually including pancreatic cancer removing one wonderful friend from this planet way too soon. I simply want to wish Alex Trebek the absolute best whether that means he continues to host, "Jeopardy," takes a break, or retires to enjoy time with family for however many weeks, months, or hopefully still plenty of years he can treasure playfully mocking people who forget to state their answer in the form of a question.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Television Tuesday: The Umbrella Academy

I've been fan of, "The Umbrella Academy," comics since reading the Free Comic Book Day issue published by Dark Horse way back in the bygone era of 2007. When I first heard about the comic I shrugged at the news some music celebrity named Gerard Way from, "My Chemical Romance," was writing it--after all, another famous person supposedly writing a comic sounded drab. Then I read that FCBD issue as well as the first mini-series and was absolutely floored by Way's creativity, masterful quirkiness, and superb characterization in addition to killer plotting. Plus, the artwork by Garbiel Bá  was the perfect compliment to all the wild insanity on display. The second mini-series, "Dallas," was spectacular as well and then...nothing. Gerard Way still made comics, but about other subjects, and Bá is always in demand as a talented illustrator. It felt like it took forever, but then in 2018 we both had the joy of a 3rd mini-series finally happening, and a show being announced for Netflix. My wife and I watched the whole first season of Netflix's adaptation of, "The Umbrella Academy," and we enjoyed it a lot!

One thing about this version of, "The Umbrella Academy," that is readily apparent is that while it draws heavily from the tone of the comic, it picks-and-chooses what other elements to use in regards to who the characters are, what plot to utilize, and is overall a lot more grounded--albeit still edgy and quirky. The show never has the team fight the Eiffel tower after it comes to life as in the comics (there is a little mention of such a thing, but yeah) instead focusing on them as grown-ups in a world that is off-kilter but still not too weird, maybe just weird enough. Others have remarked on how, "The Umbrella Academy," isn't super-strange, with SYFY observing it is a lot more mellow compared to, say, "Doom Patrol," on the DC Universe service (which I've still been meaning to try). That isn't to say the show being a little less wacky is bad, it just is something readers of the comic may notice. (it also draws from elements of both of the first two mini-series to some degree as opposed to being a general adaptation). The show is still damn good.

"The Umbrella Academy," focuses on an adoptive family of adults who used to be super-heroes as children under the care of a pretty-unpleasant adoptive Father, Reginald Hargreeves. They are all grown-up now (the ones who are still alive or not missing) and living their own lives. However, Hargreeves dies and it results in them coming together to see if he was actually murdered whilst also preventing an upcoming world-ending apocalypse they've been warned happens in about a week. So yeah, a lot going on over these 10 episodes. Speaking of the 10 episodes, I probably loved the first two and last two the most, with the scene-setting early on giving us some great moments and things getting really exciting and zany at the end of the show.

The middle-episodes don't necessarily drag, but it at times feels like we are getting a lot of filler, especially when in one episode (I'll be vague so as to not spoil too much) certain things that seem to happen are later revealed to be a big misdirect, making a good chunk of the viewer's time a bit squandered on a, "What-if?" scenario. The whole show is great, but the earlier parts and ending bits are probably the best, outside of a one batshit-wild use of the song, "Ride of Valkyries," in episode 5 that resulted in my wife and I laughing out loud. Perhaps I feel this way as much of the show is loaded with mysteries, and those mysteries are introduced early and not fully resolved until towards the end. That's okay though, because the cast is mostly stellar all-around, between such great talent as Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Emily Raver-Lampman, Aidian Gallagher, and Mary J. Blige is involved too as a time-traveling assassin!

The first season of, "The Umbrella Academy," is fantastic and the show has already been renewed for a second season thanks to both its high quality and apparently being a hit (Netflix rarely shares exact numbers, so we just have to trust what it offhandedly says). Samii and I both enjoyed the show and she and I agreed we'd rate it as being 5 out of 5 stars. It is very different from the comic, but just as fantastic a piece of entertainment. I just hope Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá start putting-out comics about the characters a bit faster if for no other reason than it'll give the show more material to draw from and result in further excellent comics.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Advance Review: Beastlands #1

I was recently contacted by Curtis Clow of, "To Infinity Studios." They make comics and actually have one series coming-out soon that was picked-up by the publisher Scout Comics ("The Wild Cosmos,") for distribution to comic-shops. Clow reached-out to me because soon a Kickstarter will be launching for the latest comic, "Beastlands," which is written by Clow with art by Jo Mi-Gyeong. I was offered the chance to read the first issue of, "Beastlands," and quite enjoyed it. Mi-Gyeong's artwork is gorgeous and lush, giving us a beautiful fantasy land that looks mostly medieval in nature with a fantastical element in the form of big creatures known a, "Keepers," that many people have as companions. There is conflict however, as Keepers have been ordered to be killed by a King enraged that his Keeper could not save his own recently-deceased daughter. Between that and a group of adventurers trying to solve a mystery (whilst making sure their own Keeper is safe) a lot happens.

The mixture of a relatively-grounded world besides a few magic touches such as the Keepers, mixed with the delightful artwork results in this first issue of, "Beastlands," being a great read. The Kickstarter campaign for it launches on March 19th and you can sign-up to be reminded of the launch at this link (which upon the start of the campaign will redirect to the Kickstarter itself, I was told by Clow). You can also stay updated on, "Beastlands," by following Mr. Clow on Twitter or via the Instagram page of, "To Infinity Studios." I'd excitedly rate, "Beastlands," first issue with 5 out of 5 stars and wish the book lots of success with its Kickstarter campaign!

Note: A digital copy of, "Beastlands," was provided for the purposes of review.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Video-Game Company That Gave Legitimacy to a Website Full of Hate Speech and Child Pornography

Suppose you are a video-game company and want to get some press for your upcoming game? Perhaps to do so you decide to engage with fans. Maybe you do an AMA (ask me anything) segment on Reddit, or request tweets from folk. You know what you should not do, however? You should not do a Q&A on a website known for being so vile that even Google won't link to it due to the numerous times it was accused of having pornographic images of minors, not to mention its reputation as being a bastion of hate-speech for folk who hate black people, Jews, foreign folk, etc. Yes, I am talking about the cesspool of the internet, 8Chan, and how a video-game company known as THQ Nordic inadvertently gave it an air of legitimacy and now looks really stupid for doing this.

Now, people maybe have heard of 4Chan, an image board-website of sorts that is known for often having unpleasant people on it--think Comicsgate, Gamergate, Neo-Nazis, Homophobes, Xenophobes, so-called Men's Rights Activists, and so forth. Now, 4Chan is regarded as being pretty toxic and miserable, but imagine if there were people so terrible and awful that even 4Chan disliked them and banned them, basically the worst of the absolute worst. Well, those people went and created 8Chan.

8Chan apparently now at least tries to be vigilant about getting rid of anyone posting outright child porn as they don't want to be arrested or shut-down. Besides that however, anything goes. Written stuff that is full of hate, drawings of popular children's show characters who by no means are adults put into all sorts of grossly sexual situations (which is borderline in terms of legality), ranting and raving about SJWs, liberals, and so forth, it is a terrible place with no redeeming aspects. This isn't like Reddit which has some awesome communities and some atrocious ones, this is a case where if 4Chan were the dumpster of the internet, 8Chan is the stuff that was too disgusting to even be in that dumpster so it was moved into a nuclear waste site...that also caught fire. Then a video-game company trying to promote its upcoming game, "Darksiders III," dove-into this toxic sludge. The AMA went about as well as expected, full of hate-speech and questionable imagery, much to the surprise of nobody who knows anything about 8Chan.
One comment for THQ Nordic was about the poster wanting more, "Big tiddie lolis," in games.
Why did THQ Nordic have a P.R. person willingly go on 8Chan to promote their game? Apparently, "The opportunity was here and we took it." They were approached by 8Chan and instead of doing some due diligence said, "Sure, why not?" or maybe even realized the site was controversial to some degree (without full knowledge of how bad things are there) and figured doing a bit on there could get more press--not realizing just how disgusting 8Chan is. I imagine the P.R. person who was in charge of this, Philipp Brock, is praying to not get fired, with he and THQ Nordic having now engaged in extensive damage control. Although honestly, you never want your company in a position where they have to release a statement about how despite the way things look they are opposed to child porn and white supremacy. This is one big piece of shit-cake, and THQ Nordic eagerly baked it.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Rant Reviews: Checking-In With the Small-To-Medium-Sized Publishers

Not That Long Ago...
Pretty recently I reviewed an assortment of books from the big publishers--Marvel, DC, and Image. I thought it would be good to check-in with them and discuss the books I was reading and enjoying. Well, I also am a huge fan of the books put out by the more medium-sized as well as smaller/indie publishers, so of course I only felt it appropriate to discuss comics from those too.

Maybe Lesser Known, Not Lesser Quality
Dark Horse is probably the biggest publisher around to not quite qualify as massive but still qualify as a good deal bigger than indie. That said, as a bigger-yet-not-too-big publisher it can have the power (and nerve) to publish something a bit edgier. "Wyrd," and its second issue is an example of that. Following a supernaturally-powerful man employed by an unclear Governmental power, Pitor Wyrd fights against other mysterious entities requiring his expertise to handle In this issue he combats a British politician who has gone mad from an occult ritual that involved having sex with a pig in order to gain power and special abilities. Also, it is made abundantly clear the politician is David Cameron, who shamefully resigned from his position as Prime Minister after the mess that is Brexit was voted for (odd fact: there are actual rumors about Cameron and a pig, albeit a dead one, as well). So yeah, a weirdly political and nasty story that is funny and gross can be found within this comic. The back-up yarns also penned by writer Curt Pires are even more twisty, with an assortment of vignettes in Nazi Germany, the year 2049, and a surreal visit to a time-traveling city run by a Hunter S. Thompson-esque fellow. It is all very weird, not unlike the comic's title, but it is my kind of off-kilter storytelling so I dig it.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Babyteeth #14
Donny Cates once was a little-known writer who gave us such cool works as, "Buzzkill," with the equally talented but lesser-known artist Geoff Shaw, a man with whom he still often collaborates. Now Cates is a huge name who seems to be writing all the notable books at Marvel (with Shaw illustrating some of them) but before Cates signed that exclusivity deal with the company owned by the House of Mouse he started this weird little series at Aftershock Comics and keeps plugging away at it, even if issues only seem to come out every three months or so now.

A dark comedy about a girl who gives birth to an Anti-Christ (one seems to be born every couple of decades) and has to deal with all the forces both pleased by and opposed to this, "Babyteeth," is Cates operating with basically no filter, and artist Garry Brown complimenting it perfectly. This issue has our heroes (the immediate and extended family of the baby) running into none other than Lucifer/Satan himself as they've gone to Hell on a rescue mission for some other family members. Satan is pretty chill though, with his own beach-house and states he'd honestly rather not invade Earth and lose, but knows God will make him do it. This leads to a shocking-twist, that God basically makes all these magic babies be born and Jesus was essentially one--e.g. there is no, "Anti-Christ," as all the babies are basically just the same magical beings and the most famous was Christ. It's strange, edgy, and anyone who is super-religious and can't take a joke will hate this series, which makes me love it all the more. Now, if only issues didn't take forever to come out, that would make me even more joyous.
5 out of 5 stars.

Wulfborne #1
SCOUT Comics was my independent publisher of the year thanks to their stellar assortment of books and as, "Wulfborne," shows with its debut, they have not slowed at putting out great stuff. "Wulfborne," has a bit of a minimalist plot, but by this issue's end we see the overall idea is how a hero wants a witch to help him get over a broken heart--but the witch quite likely can't be trusted. The imagery that accompanies our hero facing various threats in his journey to find the witch is great, some swords-and-magic-style stuff with a cool creepy vibe. Writer and artist Brian Middleton has me intrigued by the pieces of story he has given us so far and gives us some beautiful imagery resulting in my interest being very piqued--I look forward to more, in other words!
4 out of 5 stars.

Belladonna: Fire and Fury #11
This issue the comic outright states what I discussed in a previous post it had been hinting at for some time, namely that the protagonist, Belladonna, is in fact the villain of the comic. Sure, she fights and kills some people even worse than her, but we've basically been unwittingly rooting for someone who has slowly made it abundantly clear she is the bad-guy. Credit to writer, Patrick Shand, who very carefully had the story unveil our "Hero," was actually a terrible person over this mini-series, with Boundless Comics showing yet again even if their comics are loaded with cheesecake-art and graphic scenes of sex they also can work in some damn fine storytelling. If I may spoil the end of this issue, it appears Belladonna meets a gruesome end for her evil deeds, but I'm betting that seeing as there have been other times she seems defeated that she hasn't truly been stopped and the next issue will have a clever twist in regards to how deceased (or not) she truly is.
4 out of 5 stars.

Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era #3
I've been a fan of the character, "Atomic Robo," since his debut mini-series at Red 5 years ago before the property moved to IDW (its current publisher). Mini-series about the smart-and-sweet robot generally are good fun, and this book has been so far, albeit I feel like so many plot-lines are happening at once it makes for a slightly jumbled read. There are stories about one researcher stuck in a time-loop, vampire-monsters from another dimension being fought by a man once thought dead, Robo teaching another sentient robot about the world, and there is a team of new researchers learning the ropes--all this is crammed into a standard-length comic! I have the feeling everything is going to come together at some point, but right now all the events going on simultaneously is a tad disorienting and makes me feel like the overall comic is moving along a little slow. It still is good fun, I just hope it starts merging the stories so it can pick up the pace before too long.
3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Smaller Companies, Big Ideas
Whether these publishers are not massive yet still solid in output (Dark Horse, IDW), or more indie in regards to their size (Aftershock, Boundless, Scout Comics), they all can make some quality reads and have some fantastic concepts/ideas expressed within their illustrated yarns.