Friday, May 31, 2019

Flashback Friday: The First Time Frank Miller Drew Daredevil

I have written before about my very complicated relationship with the work of Frank Miller. Regardless of people's thoughts on him or his work within the past decade, almost everyone can agree Miller's stuff in the 1980's and 1990's was often pretty great. He is of course especially known for his time drawing and then also writing the character of Daredevil for his series, "Daredevil." One interesting little footnote in the history of Miller and his work on the character is he actually first illustrated Matthew Murdock's super-heroic identity for a, "Spider-Man," comic. Yes, an interesting bit of trivia for sure.
I recently had the pleasure of buying a bunch of comics from a friend of mine named Brittany. She had an assortment of books and I bought the lot as a good chunk of it interested me. There were some books I was not as familiar with however, so I looked them up, and in doing so discovered that, "Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man," #27 featured the first occurrence of Frank Miller drawing Daredevil (for publication, at least, I don't know how often he may have doodled the character on napkins before that). This specific book isn't especially rare or valuable as Miller's later work on the character would be the sought-after stuff, but it still is kind of cool to see his name there as a, "guest-penciler," which is a fancy-way of saying, "Fill-in artist," for when a book's regular artist gets delayed and it needs art fast.
The plot of the issue isn't anything that wild, with it basically being about Spider-Man and Daredevil teaming-up after at first arguing and then realizing they need each other's help despite their mutual distrust--a standard story-template without a doubt. Still, it is cool to witness Frank Miller way back in the past with this book featuring a publishing date of  February of 1979 first getting his feel of drawing the famous protector of Hell's Kitchen that later would go on to define much of Miller's career. It is a fun little fact about Frank Miller and Daredevil and I thank Brittany for selling me this along with a bunch of other great reads. I would encourage you to visit the page of the nonprofit she manages, STL Animal Rescue Connection.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

"The Grand Abyss Hotel," is Wonderfully Strange and Disorienting

BOOM! Studios has a new original graphic novel they released this week titled, "The Grand Abyss Hotel." Part of the Archaia imprint is is written by Marcos Prior and illustrated by David Rubin. It is set in a world quite a lot like ours where technology dominates much of time and focus, the world economy is peril, and people are pissed-off. There is no single protagonist or antagonist, with the comic instead shifting its focus at different points to an assortment of people. Prior and Rubin blend faux-tech imagery and dialogue with some striking visuals and a healthy dose of symbolism as well. This creates an intentionally disorienting effect that mirrors what it is like to live in this telecommunications-saturated world.

Were I to say this book has any flaw, it would be that it has a wide-range of ambition and only so much space to cover a whole lot of talking-points. Certain questions are left unanswered (we never learn the identity of the masked-man at the book's start who goes and kicks off a great degree of violent uprising, to name one mystery) and the book has a somewhat optimistic ending considering how bleak things are for much of the graphic novel. That said, I'd rather read a book full of ideas and initiative which tries to cram as much as possible into its pages than something bland, and this book is massively creative in the best kind of way.
"The Grand Abyss Hotel," is a wild read. It is alternatively dazzling and dreary in its coverage of a whole lot of subject matter. I was entertained and found myself thinking in-depth about its subjects of globalization, media bias, and politics. To summarize, I loved it, and would highly recommend giving it a read.
5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

"Death Stranding," is Actually Coming out This Year?

In the realm of video-games it is a common occurrence for a game to have a release date announced and then delayed multiple times. It also often occurs where some game studios will spend years stating their game will come out, "When it's done." There is a developer of video-games named Hideo Kojima who spent decades of his life at the game studio Konami working on his, "Metal Gear,' and, "Metal Gear Solid," games. They were massive and super-complex titles that sometimes split critical opinion, but everyone could agree Kojima was dedicated and focused on detail. His last game with Konami, "Metal Gear Solid V," was apparently taking too long for their liking and was (allegedly, few have spoken on the subject without anonymity) in his opinion released too early. Kojima founded his own company, "Kojima Productions," and has been working for some time on a big game titled, "Death Stranding." Surely a developer such as he would take forever to get this game finished, perhaps it would simply be in development forever. Then today it was announced, "Death Stranding," is due this November, for the PlayStation 4. I did not see that coming.

"Death Stranding," has some big names involved in the form of various actors portraying characters (Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen) and a crazy-nice graphics system. What the game is about remains relatively unclear. It seems to have weird future-war shenanigans, strange mutant babies, and probably will be utterly bonkers as well as good fun. I'm just honestly surprised that Kojima revealed it is actually coming out with a definitive date, in this year. I swear, I would've guessed this thing wouldn't played by the general public for at least another half a decade and be on the PlayStation 5 or something. This is a surprise, and a pleasant one at that.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Drawing Blood," Is An Extremely Weird & Meta Comic I Quite Liked

Kevin Eastman was one of the co-creators of the, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," in the 1980's with Peter Laird. During the 1990's it brought him lots of fame, money, and complicated his life immensely. He has collaborated with some other talented creators for his latest book, "Drawing Blood," which follows a man named Shane Bookman. Bookman was the co-creator of the, "Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls," and in the 1990's and it made him rich, but then he sold the rights and now is ery depressed and struggling to come-up with something new to create whilst owing some bad people a lot of money. Clearly there is a whole lot of meta-stuff going on here, with the comic carrying degrees of being an autobiography but also a chunk of fictional elements (I hope Eastman doesn't owe a ton of money to violent bookies).

Co-created with David Avallone the comic has an interesting mix of art. Eastman draws flashbacks of Bookman's life when he came-up with the mutant cats who fight crime, Ben Bishop draws the present day, and Troy Little illustrates hallucinations involving the Ragdolls as well as a fictional one-shot that was "Created," by Bookman and portrays the hit characters. Again, it is all very meta. Funded via a Kickstarter campaign, you don't have to know much of anything about the, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," but simply being aware that Eastman made them and now is writing the twisted adventures of a similar fictional creator adds a fun element of wondering how much is non-fiction and how much is made-up. Has Eastman personally struggled with fame, suffered from writer's block creating something new, or had regrets about selling his rights to his original creations? Perhaps, we don't know for sure though and it is still quite entertaining to watch Shane Bookman dealing with all this.
"Drawing Blood," is very weird and extremely meta. It also is well-drawn and fantastically entertaining. Even if there weren't the cool vaguely autobiographical elements to the story thanks to Eastman it still would be a hoot, and I am excited for the upcoming issues that will delve further into Shane Bookman's issues and just how much trouble he may be finding himself in as the series progresses.
5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 27, 2019

I Had a Wonderful 31st Birthday!

I turned 31 today and it was great! I spent time with my awesome wife, Samii, and our son, Clarkson, having breakfast, playing at the park, and otherwise relaxing. We had some delicious cake my wife baked and enjoyed watching the first game for the Stanley Cup (it was fun, even if the Blues sadly lost). It was a stellar day and I look forward to an awesome 31st year of life.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Billie Eilish's Music is Terrible

Having heard the music of Billie Eilish on  the radio and blaring on the speakers at  my favorite trendy breakfast restaurants (why do the places with the best brunch play the worst pop music?), I can conclude she is terrible. Not as a human being, but her music is awful. Her whisper-singing that people act like is some new crazy idea is ripped-off wholesale from artists such as Erykah Badu, her lyrics are empty and vapid like a 14 year-old who thinks they're super-deep, and the music in her songs just is drab and droning. I admire she is open about her struggles with mental illness and has sought-help when she's needed it (she encourages others with mental illness to do so as well), but her music is still just plain bad.

For one example of why Eilish music is equivalent to aural homicide, the song, "Bury a Friend," has people raving about its minimalist sound and how creative Eilish is for having it be from the point of view of the monster under her bed. I think it just sounds like a grinding mess of barley-there audio and empty lyrics vaguely motioning at some kind of, "Statement." I don't think I've hated a new pop star's music this much since Alessia Cara and her ditties such as, "Here," that induce bleeding from the ears as she whines about not enjoying being at a lame party. Leave the damn party then, Alessia, especially if that kid throwing up all over himself is making as big of a mess as you describe!
These are some of the choice, "Amazing lyrics," from, "Bury a Friend."
I am completely aware I have complained about today's popular music before and probably come off as an out-of-touch geezer who doesn't understand what, "The kids," are into these days. You can think that, but I think there are other new (and established) artists putting out new work who are incredible and deserve a lot more attention and fame than Eilish and her inexplicably beloved songs.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Tomorrow I'll Be At, "The Oasis: Comic Book Bazaar," and I'm Excited!

A friend of mine who also happens to be named David, David Smith, owns the comic shop Callisto Comics and this Saturday/tomorrow is having a cool event. Near his shop is an outdoor open-space area that can be utilized and his store is having an event for those who want to buy/sell/trade comics! Titled, "The Oasis: Comic Book Bazaar," it is going to run from 9:00 AM through 1:00 PM and will have an assortment of stellar vendors present such as the always-awesome STL Comics and Cabal Books--another fantastic merchant I can't recommend highly enough. I encourage anyone is able to attend the event at 4219 Virginia Street, Saint Louis, MO, 63111. I'll see you there!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

"Lorna," is Cute, Hilarious, and Immensely Distrubing

Lorna is the kind of woman who loves cats, doesn't worry too much about her appearance, and will not hesitate to kill you should you insult her. She's complicated, in other words. The new original graphic novel about her, "Lorna," is by Benji Nate and published by one of my favorite indie-publishers currently in the field of comics, Silver Sprocket. It just came out this week in stores and I actually ordered a copy from my comic-shop I will be picking-up soon. I was able to read an advance copy available to the press as well, and that is how I'm already able to share an opinion. Needless to say, I loved, "Lorna," so much I'm now even more excited to have a physical copy to call my own once I get to the comic-store.

"Lorna," follows the titular character throughout her days as an adult and includes a flashback to her high-school years that explains how she was able to make at least one friend back in the day (Norma) whom she has managed to keep despite having a tendency to threaten people with death via knives (or being an accessory to murder at times and burying a body with other chums). Lorna could easily just be a one-dimensional figure, all bluster and anger, but she isn't. Yes, when she makes a resume in an effort to find work it simply says to hire her or she'll kill you, but she does in fact have complexities.
Lorna is very gentle and sweet with cats, seeing a lot of herself in them (quiet, smart, murderous), and Lorna is an extremely loyal friend to the people she trusts. She also is against picking-on others who are simply too weak or wimpy to withstand harassment from others--in other words, anybody she pulls a knife on arguably deserves it, and even if they don't, Lorna at least thinks they do. Benji Nate illustrates everything in a way that looks equally cute and hilarious, making the incredibly disturbing and violent moments of, "Lorna," seem equally slapstick and grotesque to a delightful result.

I loved, "Lorna," and am pleased that in the book Benji Nate says she has plans to revisit the character for future stories. Lorna may not be someone you'd want to encounter in everyday life (if for no reason other than your own personal safety) but she makes for a stellar individual to read about. I rate this comic/original graphic novel an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 stars. You can find yourself a copy via Silver Sprocket's online store, ask your local comic shop to buy it via Diamond order code FEB191963, or inquire at any finer bookstores if they could get you a copy via its ISBN, 978-1-945509-34-6. I loved, "Lorna," even if I was terrified of Lorna herself, so I'd for sure recommend getting yourself this book should you like cute illustrations, cats, and murderously dark humor!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

An Odd Rumor About Tom King and His Work on, "Batman," is Spreading

Update 5/23/19, 9:45 PM
It is official that King is off, "Batman," but will be working on other DC properties still, one of which may allow him to finish his big Batman tale. The first outlet to report this, Bleeding Cool, is quite pleased with itself, admittedly reasonably so.

Original Article
Assorted websites such as Bleeding Cool and Comics Beat have been talking about an apparent rumor that popular comic-writer Tom King is no longer going to be working on the, "Batman," comic as of issue #85. This is strange as outside of a few issues that tied-in to other events King has written the comic since its most recent relaunch (when, "Rebirth," started) and has indicated he has a 100+ issue master-plan that everything leads up to (and changes Batman forever...or until the next reboot).

Some people have said this relates to sales of, "Batman," dropping to a level that displeases DC/Warner Brothers, others claim it has something to do with King's idea to, "Change," Batman being one the company now is less in favor of having occur. Also, there are people who have stated this is all just a big silly rumor and nothing is changing, or at most maybe King is going to get his own separate series/mini-series to wrap things up while the main, "Batman," book goes in a new direction for one reason or another (there are always events to tie-in with.)
I don't know what is happening or going to happen, and I haven't really read much of King's run on, "Batman," outside of some earlier issues and that decent, "The Button," cross-over between his book and, "The Flash," that set-up elements of the eternally-delayed, "Doomsday Clock." That said, I kind of chuckle at how this vaguely reminds me of years ago when King was doing, "Omega Men," for DC and while he had made it clear the plan was for it to be 12 issues it was at first cancelled and shortened to seven issues before enough outcry took place for DC to let it finish at its full dozen of issues (and go on to be highly-regarded as a great read). This is funny as while comic-book fans can sometimes be really mean to creators (especially with some awful so-called movements nowadays like Comicsgate) it is the fans who seem to have helped Tom King previously when his work was in danger of being affected by the higher-ups at DC/WB.

One can only wonder how much truth there is to this rumor of King being kicked-off/replaced on, "Batman," and if there will be enough outcry from people invested in the 80+ issues King has written to reverse any possible decisions DC has made--if this rumor has much truth to it, which we do not know (so yes, this whole article could be a moot point, so sue me). It probably won't be too long before this all is proven true, revealed to be false, or turns out to be a mixture of accurate scuttlebutt and imagined nonsense. In the meantime I wish Tom King the best as he is a very nice guy and has written some great stuff (and some things I've hated, but that's normal).

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Television Tuesday: "Westworld," Season 3, You Say?

I know the series has a wide range of haters, and while I thought season 2 was everything season 1 should have been, some people actually despised it, but all of that said, I love, "Westworld." A teaser for season 3 apparently aired on HBO after the finale of, "Game of Thrones," which did not officially tie the two shows together in my proposed hilarious/crazy manner, but still managed to enrage fans. The teaser looked cool, indicating the show now takes place even more in the, "Real," world we got glimpses of in season 2 and the robots/hosts are getting a foothold outside of the parks. The teaser also says not to expect the show to return until some point in 2020, so strap-in for a long wait.

The short teaser reveals very little and doesn't even seem like it is specifically related to, "Westworld," until right at the end when a new character played by Aaron Paul runs into none other than Rachel Evan Wood as Dolores. I know I'm excited for the show's return, and if I could have one request, it would maybe just be to tone-down the habit of somewhat needlessly jumping-around back-and-forth in time so much. I know that's practically in the show's DNA at this point, but one can dream.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Interview Time: Bryan Edward Hill

Bryan Edward Hill has been doing great work for some time now, but I didn't realize how much I loved his work until I started reading some stuff he's worked on more recently. I adored his work on the mini-series, "Wildstorm: Michael Cray," and have tweeted extensively about the fantastic comic, "American Carnage," in addition to talking about his work on, "Batman and the Outsiders." I reached-out to Mr. Hill and inquired if he would be willing to do an interview about his work, and I was delighted when he said that sounded great! We engaged in the interview for a number of days via email and it can be read below.

For my readers who are not familiar with whom you are, would you mind introducing yourself?

I'm Bryan Hill. Sometimes credited as Bryan Edward Hill. I'm a writer. Filmmaker. TV scribe and screenwriter. From Saint Louis, MO. Currently living in Los Angeles and I'm eternally grateful to have the opportunities I have.

You've worked in film, television, and comics, how does your writing process differ depending on the format?  

I'm a crazy person so my process is equally crazy. I don't see much difference between the formats, in terms of how imagination works, but comics have less space for storytelling. They're an incredibly efficient medium so that requires the most heavy lifting, in terms of narrative economy.

I read and loved, "Wildstorm: Michael Cray," considering it one of my favorite mini/maxi-series of 2018. You had a complex challenge in that is spun-out of Warren Ellis' series, "The Wild Storm," and then spun the character back-in as the series nears its conclusion. Was it tricky to take this character and know you had to get him from Point A to Point B within a certain time-frame, or was that actually helpful?

Thank you!

Well, it's always intimidating to be working with Warren Ellis, but he was incredibly welcoming to me. Telling the story in the time-frame wasn't the difficult part. The difficult part was getting into his head (which was already crowded with an alien) and making him live and breathe, like a real person would. I don't like to write archetypes, full stop. I like to invest into them and see what makes them tick. In this case, I had the space to do it because it was a new relaunch and there was more road in front of me than behind me.

One thing you just said sticks out to me, about how you wrote Michael Cray and your effort at, "making him live and breathe, like a real person would. I don't like to write archetypes, full stop. I like to invest into them and see what makes them tick." This grabs my attention because your characters do indeed, "Feel," very real. I'm not sure if is your masterful flow of dialogue, how you seem to really dig into the people you write, or what it is, but none of the characters I've seen you writing feel lacking in dimensions. How do you go about getting into the nitty-gritty of these characters and making them feel so fleshed-out? Are you the kind of person who makes a huge, "Bible," for his work breaking everything and everyone down, do you make a loose outline of concepts and fill them in as you progress? Some other methodology?

I take my notes and have a place for all my random ideas and thoughts. In the writing, I approach it like acting, sort of. I'm not an actor, but I've studied acting and known a bit about the process. I try to imagine the story through the eyes of each character, sort of living through them and that usually opens up their manner of speaking and doing to me. I have to imagine them as kind of "real" in order to write them. That's why I'm careful about what I write, which jobs I take. Sometimes I don't want to be in the head of certain fictional characters or explore their worlds.

"The Wild Storm," was going to have other series spin out of of it but that seemed to not occur, do you know why your book still was able to happen, is the secret just that you did such a stellar job on it?

That's the business side of it and I deliberately keep myself ignorant of all of that, LOL. I'm sure whatever decisions were made were considered carefully. I'd love to see more writers and artists be able to explore what Warren is doing.

Within, "Wildstorm: Michael Cray," you have Michael face a variety of twisted-versions of popular DC characters. One thing that struck me was how some of them don't exactly come-off as evil. I felt really, really bad for the mentally disturbed Barry Allen who seemed just as desperate to forge a human connection with Cray as he was to kill anyone whom he felt threatened his mission. 

Sometimes, I will write pure good, pure evil. Definitely pure evil, because that's easier to imagine. I reserve that for my work in horror (my favorite genre). In this case, I wanted to explore causality. Why people become destructive. I felt more interesting than having him up against simple characters with little dimension. Cray isn't particularly heroic himself, so it's a lot of the pot shooting the black kettle in the face for being black. Mixing up the metaphor.
Can you disclose if you have another works relating to, "The Wild Storm," or any potential follow-ups to it in the near future? I know I"d love to see more about Michael Cray! 

All is quiet on the Western front as far as I know, but maybe there's something in the works. I'm not sure [since this interview was conducted a new title unrelated to, "Michael Cray," has been announced, "Wildcats."]

"American Carnage," is probably my favorite new series right now. It follows a former F.B.I. agent named Richard Wright, who is biracial and able to, "Pass," for white, which allows him to infiltrate a white supremacist group led by wealthy industry-leader, Wynn Morgan. How did you get the idea for this series?  

Essentially, one of my friends growing up became a white supremacist and I needed to explore my feelings about that so I started work researching the world, speaking to people in the movement, trying to find a way in that wasn't just "racists bad - The Comic Book."

Part of my goal as a storyteller is to explore the uncomfortable things, the cosmic horror that lives inside the human mind. Our capability. I like to follow the monsters and write about what they're like up close and in person.

One thing that I found both incredibly interesting and distributing is how Wynn Morgan could be considered an intelligent man, but he's also incredibly hateful and ruthless. In issue #6 hearing him break-down his views about why White people deserve power and respect made me extremely uncomfortable in that we know he is wrong, but he states everything so clearly and matter-of-factly you can see how his twisted logic makes sense to him and enraptures followers who agree that the White Christian deserves respect.  How did you create the character of Wynn Morgan and make him so unpleasantly, "Real?" Did you do extensive research into these kinds of groups and their ideologies? 

Unfortunately, all you have to do is watch YouTube for a couple of hours and you'll hear all that rhetoric. It's the same rhetoric I got in person when I visited with people in the movement. My job as a writer was not to judge Wynn, but to write him and let the reader determine where they fall. It's more of a Kubrickian approach, the presentation without judgement, but that's the approach that I prefer. I don't like telling people what to feel. To me, that can be condescending.

I had to write Wynn and make him convincing, because people like Wynn Morgan can be convincing. Anything else would have been a self-serving lie.

 Reading, "American Carnage," I am also intrigued that you don't exactly paint things as a Democrat VS Republican issue. Wynn Morgan seems disconcertingly able to appeal to anyone who wants to blame others and states that is why he is entering politics as an Independent. Within the comic both Republicans and Democrats seem equally inept at truly understanding how much hate is manifesting in our country, and the threat is poses. There is no, "Good guy," here, just a bunch of hapless people and Morgan, a really bad guy. Looking out the window at our world today do you think someone like Morgan actually would be able to run for office and even win in our current MAGA-era?

Could someone like that win? It's possible. Politics is always a hot mess of a thing. Especially these days with the 24 hour news cycle and social media. Within chaos there's a lot of potential for anything to happen. Good and bad.

Both Republicans and Democrats have their issues. I didn't want to lionize one and demonize the other. I'm very liberal. Everyone knows that, but I'm not in allegiance to a party because I don't believe the two party system works to our benefit. There's prejudice on both sides of the aisle. That's obvious. Making this book a screed against one party would have been an oversimplification of what is a complex and layered issue within our society.

 I recall you saying that, "American Carnage," was not exactly an ongoing-series as you have an endpoint in mind. How many issues do you anticipate the series going for, barring any sudden dramatic change in plans? 

We're doing 9. I always wanted the book to be a single sit down read. A bullet train through Hell.

"American Carnage," is an amazing comic, but I could also picture it being a stellar television show. Seeing as you've done screenwriting is that something you'd ever want to pursue, or do you want this to remain strictly a comic for one reason or another? 

I never really think about my comics as other media. That would depend on a lot of factors. Who was interested and why and what is their vision of the show.
You are a man of color/Black, and sometimes your writing touches on the subject of race, diversity, and politics. I notice that you write characters who are Black however, not Black characters, e.g. their race is the most notable thing about them. Comics as an art-form seems to have at times struggled to have main characters who aren't just white men. What do you think is the way to have more diversity within the art-form of comics? More diverse voices, creators stepping-out of their comfort zone to write characters that may, "Look," different from them? 

I should hope that my race isn't the most notable thing about me. That's a very narrow way to define yourself. My goal is to make things easier for other creators of color, to be an example of how we can contribute to the culture of art in all forms.

On the subject of diversity in comics, why do you think there has been an emergence of some so-called movements protesting any kind political message, racial/gender/sexual diversity in these past few years? Comics have always been political but suddenly it seems wanting to make a statement within a comic results in an online battleground of name-calling and hate. Why has this happened and what can be done, in your opinion? 

That's just America. There are always going to be groups and individuals who will protest anything they think threatens them, attributing some kind of dark agenda to it. Being said, I keep myself out of all of that back and forth. Why be negative? For what? Yelling at people on twitter doesn't solve anything.

I try to treat people with respect and appeal to conscience when I can. You use the term battleground, and that's accurate but wars have casualties and that's not the best way forward. Never meet anger with anger. Rudeness with rudeness. I believe you have to engage with your work. Demonstrate your ethics with your art. Don't waste your energy arguing with people on the internet.

I read and quite enjoyed the first issue of, "Batman and the Outsiders." May I ask whom your favorite character on the team is to write? 

Cassandra Cain. I'm the world's biggest Cassandra Cain fan.
At the end of the first issue we meet a character who seems to be a bit of a riff on Marvel's character, Cable, at least as the internet has interpreted it. Was this an intentional homage or has the mental-association people have made just happened by chance? 

Hahahaha. Saw that.

All I'll say is: Just because someone SAYS something about themselves, that doesn't mean they're telling the truth.

I saw in the news how the creator of Black Lightning, Tony Isabella, was not a fan of the character being folded into the, "Outsiders," team you are writing the comic of. I made a blog post discussing how I consider you both friends of mine and respect both your opinions/decisions (plus, as I'm a fan of your writing I am eager to see how you write the character). I just wanted to ask if since the initial hubbub things have settled down, or if you and Tony spoke at all? 

I have!

Look, Tony is a passionate creator and Black Lightning came out of his imagination. He cares so much about what that character is and what that character can be. I understand that. I'm going to try and honor his viewpoints the best I can, but ultimately I have to tell my own story and let it speak for itself.

 BOOM! released as a surprise the #0 issue of their new comic, "Angel," which I imagine ties-in with their, "Buffy," series they recently started since acquiring the rights to the character. You're the writer on the series and as the whole comic even starting was a secret I am curious how hard BOOM! and you had to work to keep the thing under wraps. I imagine it can't be easy to be working on this title and not be able to say anything until right around the day it actually starts--that would be like if you wrote a movie and were unable to talk about it until it suddenly released in theaters! How did you keep it secret? Did you tell ANYONE? 

Due to my schedule, I rarely socialize, hahahaha. That makes it easy to keep a secret.

When I feel the need to vent, I tell my dog.

I am a resident of Saint Louis and have noticed you mentioning the city in a number of comics ("Batman and the Outsiders," just had a character buying a ticket to there) or setting certain events within the city which makes me smile. This resulted in me looking on Wikipedia to discover you moved to and lived in Saint Louis for a good chunk of your life (or still do, not sure if you still live here, I'll alter the question as needed). I moved here myself back in 2011 and am not a native, but have been introduced to things such as the local cuisine. Therefore, as another individual who isn't a native but lived here awhile, I've got to ask, what do you think of Saint Louis Style Pizza AKA Provel Cheese AKA Imo's Pizza

I'm in LA now, but provel cheese is fine? I don't mind it. I need to lose twenty pounds so I'm not eating much pizza these days, hahahaha.

 When you're writing--for any format--what kind of environment do you prefer? Do you like silence in a home office, working at a coffee-shop, playing music, eat a snack while you write, or so forth? 

Definitely my home office. It's my temple. I work to make it a creative oasis from all the distractions. I'm like Doctor Strange. Nothing disturbs my sanctum sanctorum.

You have written both pre-established characters and worked on series you have created yourself. How is the process different when you're starting something brand-new versus making something new but which draws from a mythology (e.g. much of super-hero comics)? 

Everyone has a different approach. When it comes to something I didn't create and don't own, I try to understand the essential aspects of the world and characters and make sure what I'm doing doesn't break that. That's the real difference for me. When it's not something I've invented, I feel a responsibility to stay within the established tone and foundation of the world I'm working within, so I don't turn it upside for fans without good cause.

Besides writing, what other hobbies do you have? Are you a video-gamer, do you play an instrument, could you secretly be a master chef? 

Music is a love of mine. I write music when I can. For a film I'm planning to direct this fall I'm working on the score. I do like to cook, when I have the time.

You are directing a film and writing the score for it? Can you tell any further details--the title, the genre? 

Oh, it's a micro-budget, indie film that I'm self-financing, writing and directing. It's really an opportunity for me to experiment with film. It's a horror-film, of sorts, but it's more personal and experimental in its construction.

What is a property/characters/etc. that you have not yet worked-on that you'd love to tackle? 


You have discussed your love of horror here in this interview, and I for sure got a bit of a body-horror vibe from, "Wildstorm: Michael Cray." Plus, "Angel," has horror themes and, "American Carnage," is terrifying in its own unique way. I recall you have said, "The Exorcist," is your favorite horror film, and that is loaded with gross body-horror and scary imagery plus religious themes as well. It is a terrifying concept, this idea of a loss of a control over own self, and I was curious what other horror-concepts interest you and which you might like to explore (you mention, "Hellraiser,"  and that is loaded with all kinds of subtext from religious to sexual for sure)? 

I lean towards the supernatural. I don't personally enjoy pure-suspense as an experience, so most slasher things, for instance, they don't resonate with me, not without some kind of elements of the preternatural.

Philosophically, I like to explore the causes, the effect and the sources of evil. For me, that's what mythology does best.

What is a book/movie/show/comic you could keep coming back to and revisit an infinite number of times, you love/value it so much? 

RED DRAGON, by Thomas Harris. I love his prose. I read that book often.

You have worked with some stellar artists on your comics, such as N. Steven Harris on, "Wildstorm: Michael Cray," and  Leandro Fernandez with, "American Carnage." When you are doing a new comic with an artist you have not worked with before, what is your process? Do you and the artist often speak before you give them a script, do adjust the script based on whom the artist is, so forth? 

I like to speak with an artist and the first question I have is "What do you love drawing, and what do you hate drawing?" That way I can try to write scripts that aren't frustrating. I try to be as collaborative as I can be, and make the process as enjoyable as possible for an artist. I tend to work best with artists who view themselves as storytellers. I like to let the images do as much work as possible.

Do you have any upcoming projects you're able to discuss that you'd like to tell my readers about? 

I can't announce anything yet, but follow me on twitter: @bryanedwardhill 

I want to thank Mr. Hill for taking the time to do an interview and encourage everyone to read his works!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

"World of Warcraft Classic," Is Making People Mad By Giving Them What They Want

I used to play, "World of Warcraft," a lot in the old days when the level-cap was 60 and getting there took lots and lots of time. I enjoyed it but quit way back in 2011 around when the, "Cataclysm," expansion came out and I found myself less-and-less engaged with the series. I have some great memories of WOW, but know full-well a lot of my fond recollections are occurring with rose-tinted glasses. old-school WOW was as lot harder and a lot less fun than people probably believe. Now, after a lot of fan demand and unofficial versions being shut-down, there is going to be a 100% Blizzard-approved (and run) version called, "World of Warcraft Classic," and fans beta-testing it are convinced features that make the game harder and less fun are bugs instead of those classic features. This is hilarious.

Often when think back to the things we enjoyed doing in the past we forget or outright purposely ignore the stuff that wasn't as pleasurable. Players are outraged that quest objectives aren't showing on the map (a later feature) or that creatures they need to kill are respawning so slowly after other players kill them (the game used to involve a lot of waiting around for a stuff to reappear), and maybe its proof that there really never were, "Good old days," in WOW, it just was less of a mess than other online games and managed to rise to the top through its constant updates and tweaks--the very ones players claim they wished were gone for a more, "Classic," occurrence. The moral of the story here is that I hope everyone playing the newest version of, "World of Warcraft," will enjoy having a throw-back version and it will make them value just how far the game has come as well. I still have zero intention of going back to it in a modern or classic format, however. I ain't got time to grind a bunch of Murloc mobs these days.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Grumpy Cat Has Died and This Makes Me Genuinely Sad

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

One Sentence Summaries Rises From the Grave!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

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

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

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

Monday, May 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day 2019!

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Comic Book Presser Does Great Work!

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

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

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

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