Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Notable Comic-Book Creator Birthday--Christopher Priest!

I don't usually list too many comic-book birthdays as with so many talented creators in existence (and who have sadly left us) it would be tricky to celebrate everyone worthy of recognition. That said, I wanted to spotlight one creator whom has been fantastic for decades and continues to impress as he turns 58 today--Christopher Priest. He's been involved in comics in some form from 1978 to the present, at times taking a bit of a break from the form but then returning to always make incredible stuff. His run on, "Deathstroke," has been one of the best modern stories in comic-books and he has done such incredible stuff before that as, "Quantum and Woody," a superb run on, "Black Panther," and countless other stupendous works. When I think about my favorite comic-book creators, Priest is on that list for sure. I wish him the happiest of birthdays and many more joyful ones as the years go on!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The Tower of Terror is Even More Interesting Than I Ever Realized

I have previously written about some of my favorite Disney-park attractions, and discussed thoroughly my immense love for the Tower of Terror. With that in mind, I was really intrigued by this piece on the AV Club that linked to a video that goes in-depth to discuss all the complex safety features of the original (and best) Tower of Tower located within the Disney World park, Hollywood Studios (us old people may remember when it was called MGM Studios). The Tower of Terror is a fantastic ride whether you love how it is themed for, "The Twilight Zone," or just enjoy a good scary faux-elevator that goes up and down in all kinds of zany unpredictable ways. It's funny, as a youth I was amazed by Disney and its parks, and as an adult I still love them but am even more fascinated by the complex inner-workings and behind-the-scenes stuff that makes the places function so (usually) seamlessly.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Flashback Friday: "The Bat Brothers," Comic I Made When I Was Five Years-Old

I have drafted a comic-book idea here-or-there and am a mediocre artist but enjoy doodling. However, in 1994, back when I was five years-old I created the only comic that to this day I wrote, illustrated, and provided colors for (my Mother did hand-lettering, now a lost art in this era of digital comic lettering). I may have been only a half decade old at the time, but I had the concept for a dramatic story about the power of family, the dangers of obsession, and how toast is delicious.

This story involved holiday themes, but was still an enjoyable read anytime of the year. It had little allusions to other famous comics but featured original protagonists and villains. I called it, “The Bat Brothers,” and it is quite possibly my finest comic-work.

“The Bat Brothers,” follows an assortment of bats who are brothers (of course) in a, “Day in the life of,” style, focusing on the brothers as they embark upon a quest. The story opens with the first Bat Brother focused upon in the tale waking-up to go visit Santa Claus.

I then used my masterful skills in mixed-media collage to glue an illustrated Santa from some other book/magazine/whatever into my comic. Santa eagerly greets the Bat Brother as he arrives but danger is brewing.

Santa did not realize the toast was burning in the kitchen, putting all of his workshop at risk! The Bat Brother comes to help, but one of his longtime-nemeses, a fellow named Harvey (a little in-joke of Harvey Dent AKA Two-Face sharing a similar name and this story also involving a bat-theme), is there to try and stop him. I do not say within the story if Harvey is to blame for this toast burning, but the context is clear for the reader.

This brings us to the first big fight in the book between Harvey and a Bat Brother, who thankfully has one of his siblings fly-in to help ensure, “Harvey is defeated.”

Before the two Bat Brothers can celebrate however another foe, “Hungry-Head,” arrives on the scene, ready to fight. Hungry-Head is a terrifying sight, a floating disembodied head that always wants to eat.  One of the Bat Brothers requests his sibling assists him in stopping Hungry-Head, but here a betrayal occurs! One Bat Brother refuses to help, instead eating some of the toast that was prevented from burning.

Thankfully, as the next page makes clear, the first Bat Brother defeats Hungry-Head, even without his sibling's assistance who let his desire for delicious toast drive a wedge between the family. The book then briefly cuts to an interlude with a penguin named, “Penguin,” who is eating his toast as well. Penguin does not appear again in the comic,  making today-me wonder if young-me had a plans to return to this mysterious animal in a future, unmade comic.

After that quiet interlude we cut-back to the Bat Brothers only to find that while the story was not focusing on them Toast-Head appeared. Toast-Head is a villain somewhat like Hungry-Head, but made entirely out of toast. I again don’t outright say it in the text, but clearly Toast-Head desires revenge for all the toast that has been eaten, and in an ironic twist the Bat Brother who abandoned his sibling to eat toast now requires that Brother’s help. They unite together and defeat Toast-Head up at the North Pole, in the process learning a valuable lesson about family, friendship, and the importance of being reliable. The Bat Brothers stop Toast-Head and proceed to return back home, assuredly living happily ever after.

The comic isn’t perfect and has some plot holes. The mystery of the penguin named Penguin with his own toast begs to be returned to, and I don’t address how Hungry-Head and Toast-Head were possibly linked to one another. After all they seem almost too similar for it to be a coincidence they both appeared at the North Pole, and if Hungry-Head wanted toast so badly perhaps it was because he actually was looking for Toast-Head? Had they been friends or a couple? It’s a notable unanswered question, but then again considering I was literally only five years old I think we can excuse some inconsistencies with the storytelling.

“The Bat Brothers,” sat in a drawer in one of my old desks for decades until I dug-it out on our most recent trip to Cortland to visit my parents and sister. Instead of leaving it in there for eternity I thought it might be fun to share this old story I made as it is kind kind of fun to peer-back at my random ideas when I was a youth. We all have creativity inside whether we are five or a lot older (I am so old now), and this little comic I made shows that. Now I wonder if I could get an artist to work with me and make a new version of this comic with some updated plotting and art, or possibly we could do a follow-up book about that darned penguin named Penguin—what is his deal?

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Random Statement: Jughead is my Favorite, "Archie," Character as this Article About Him Reminded Me

I just wanted to share the random thought that Jughead is my favorite, "Archie," character. I was reminded of this today reading a piece on Comicsbeat discussing how Jughead is arguably the most well-known Asexual character in comic-books. His Asexuality is not why I am a big fan of him, but I was pleased when it was made explicitly clear he is Asexual. We have characters like Archie who is always dealing with his usual cliché drama of whether he wants to be with Betty or Veronica, and a variety of other straight characters, plus some gay-representation by Kevin Keller, who also is a wonderful person thankfully not wholly defined by who he is attracted to.

It makes sense for Jughead to be clearly made Asexual however as he (almost) never in his comics expressed sexual interest in anyone. Asexuality is of course a complex subject with a variety of intricate elements (Asexual does not mean Aromantic for example), but it just makes perfect sense for Jughead. When you think about him you consider how he's a chill dude who loves hamburgers and hanging-out. He is probably one of the better-fleshed out Archie characters because he is not defined by his romances. A big element of Archie, Betty, and Veronica of course is the romantic drama. Jughead however is defined by himself and what makes him cool separate of whom he is wanting to make-out with.
Jughead is delightfully sarcastic, I like having chums with good jokes.
Jughead is someone I'd like to be friends with. He is clever, funny, is a foodie (although with my beef allergy I can't eat burgers), and otherwise is a relaxed and cool guy. His Asexuality is another interesting thing about him, but not the main interesting thing. Even if some versions of the character don't have him as Asexual he is still always a cool dude overall.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Attention DC Comics, That is Not How You Use the Word, "Pop-up," Okay?

I don't think DC Comics fully understands what a, "Pop-up," is. When you have a pop-up restaurant, library, or store it is a brief, temporary thing. It appears with little warning, cooks its food/checks-out its books/sells its clothes or whatever and then disappears, only to eventually return somewhere else when least expected. Having a, "Pop-up imprint," called, "Hill House Comics," as a part of your Black Label is not truly a, "Pop-up." Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of the imprint's founder/curator, writer Joe Hill, as his stellar comics and solid prose-work always impress. Hearing he has a line of books (some written by him as well as other talents) coming-out sounds really cool--even if it is a little hypocritical considering DC just announced it was getting rid of all its imprints (R.I.P. Vertigo), more-or-less (Bleeding Cool is quite cheeky about this, for sure). Again though, when you create a new imprint/sub-imprint/whatever and it releases mini-series of comics that retailers order two months in advance and expect on set schedule...what exactly is, "Pop-up," about that?

The one exception here where I could maybe, just maybe let this slide is if once Hill House Comics releases its announced titles it truly does just stop and disappear for awhile--like an actual pop-up business would do--only to reemerge some years later without warning. In such a case Hill House Comics is just barely like a pop-up, at least in one regard. Otherwise, calling your new line of books a, "Pop-up Imprint," just sounds like a desperate marketing/branding attempt that looks as cynical as it does foolish. Semantics aside though, I do expect Joe Hill and friends to give us some good stuff, although I wonder if this means he's done doing any further work with IDW where much of his great comic-output originated ("The Cape," "Locke & Key," and so forth). IDW is in trouble finance-wise, so they don't need to lose anybody else who can make them quality books.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Television Tuesday: "Big Brother," Returns Tonight for Season 21!

I made a Television Tuesday post earlier today about one guilty pleasure reality T.V. show that has become a new favorite ("sMothered," as you recall), but starting today a long-time love is actually returning! That's right, "Big Brother," is back and hopefully it is going to be awesome. The last season was spectacular (we earned it after the slog that was season 19) and this show with its mixture of social experiment (people locked away from the world and stuck with each other for months) and competition (they do crazy games and vote each other out) is one I very much adore. I'll be tuning in to CBS today at 7PM Central and I am very eager to see what mayhem the show holds this Summer!

Television Tuesday: "sMothered," is a Hot Garbage Fire and I Love It!

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows how much I love my reality television, often the trashier the better. Whether it's Mama June going from, "Not," to, "Hot," to, "Having a Serious Drug Problem," or people thinking they will somehow find true love competing with a dozen other people for the affections of a bachelor/bachelorette, reality television is the pleasant junk food my brain sometimes needs when our world is more depressing and disgusting than ever. With that in mind, one show has now aired three episodes and is not so much trashy as it is the equivalent of a hot garbage fire I am incapable of stopping watching. It is called, "sMothered," and it is incredible.

"sMothered," follows an assortment of mother-daughter duos with relationships that are at best uncomfortably close and at worst arguably emotionally abusive. When a 31 year-old woman have never lived with anyone besides her Mom and essentially serves as a live-in maid to her mother, we've got some odd dynamics. We've got moms who go to downtown Vegas and party with their daughter till they're falling-down drunk, moms who are way too obsessed with their daughter's love-life and finding them a, "Nice Guido," to use the very-proudly-Italian mom's words. Then there is Cher and Dawn who probably are the least odd and seem almost like a relative, "Control," to this bizarre experiment.

Angelica (left) and her Mom, Sunhe (right) are drastically co-dependent.
Yes, Cher and her mom sometimes like to dress the same and talk a lot on the phone or Facetime, but Cher lives separate from her Mother and otherwise seems to be able to function as an individual--she just is so close with her Mom she does stuff like tell her how she and her husband are pregnant before anyone else, even though it had been agreed everyone would find-out at the same time. It is all relatively tame stuff compared to Sunhe making daughter Angelica do her nails before bed nightly, sharing a bed with her, and being dressed by her every morning when she isn't throwing a fit at the idea her grown daughter might want to go on a cruise with her boyfriend without Mom tagging along.
My favorite person on the show is without a doubt Adrian. Adrian is the Father of just-turned-21 Mariah who considers herself an Instagram influencer and has 45 year-old Mom named Sandra who likes to try to party as if she's two decades younger (she was very intoxicated in downtown Vegas). Adrian and Sandra actually are divorced but they still live together for a mixture of reasons (money, being able to still co-parent).

Adrian is like a shining beacon in this show, a voice of reason that makes observations that need to said. I wasn't surprised to hear he has a career in stand-up comedy because this man knows how to cut-through all the B.S. and flat-out say, "Why are you, Mariah's mom, getting drunker than her on her own 21st birthday and making it all about you? Why do you live vicariously through your daughter? We are supposed to be role-models!" Adrian is like the viewer, just flabbergasted at all the crazy stuff going on in this show and at times only able to shake his head and roll his eyes.

"sMothered," is an incredibly odd show and even just three episodes in it is one of my favorite new programs. There is something weirdly addicting about watching strange folk doing wild stuff, and these mother-daughter duos with their strange dynamics have me hooked. I'm not proud of my reality television habit, but I'll be darned if it doesn't keep me entertained when it provides me content like, "sMothered."

Monday, June 24, 2019

"Cinema Purgatorio," Kind of Just...Ended

It ended up not quite being, "Monthly."
Back in February of 2016 the Kickstarter campaign for special editions of the new Avatar Press anthology series, "Cinema Purgatorio," wrapped. Featuring an impressive lists of contributors including none other than Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill with a movie-themed short-story each issue as well as other folk, it sounded cool. There was Kireon Gillen and Ignacio Calero with a video-game themed piece called, "Modded," Garth Ennis and Raulo Caceres following-up on a short two issue mini they had done that shifted into the anthology, "Code Pru," about an EMT for monstrous creatures living among humans (but just trying to have a normal life). Christos Gage and Gabriel Andrade had one about Kaiju being trained by humans called, "The Vast!" and Max Brooks and Michael DiPascale had a weird take on the Civil War where instead of Americans fighting each other they were in a fight against giant ants--it was titled, "A More Perfect Union." The Kickstarter was a big success and the comic started coming-out on a good schedule. Then it got kinda delayed and mostly forgotten.

In May of 2019 the last issue of, "Cinema Purgatorio," was released to little fanfare beyond Bleeding Cool (who is owned by Avatar Press, natch) mentioning it. It had been oft-delayed and weirdly enough accidentally reprinted one entry of, "The Vast!" but as it never needed a catch-up piece some theorized it was meant to be shorter than the other stories and/or was horribly delayed and the title holding-up the series coming out at a decent schedule. The end of the stories in, "Cinema Purgatorio," indicate some of them will be continuing in some form--"Code Pru," "The Vast!" and, "A More Perfect Union," seem to plan on follow-up comics or graphic novels (one would assume within Avatar Press). I liked, "Cinema Purgatorio," but other than some buzz when it first began thanks to one of the stories featuring Moore and O'Neill working together (they are of course both well-known creators individually and folk love their, "League of Extraordinary Gentleman," work) there was usually little discussion of the title anywhere.
All of the stories within, "Cinema Purgatorio," were quite solid and equally good--a rare thing to say about an anthology series where many times you get some gold and some garbage. I'd for sure be interested in reading any follow-up comics with the stories that indicated more is to come, but wonder if the relatively muted reception to anthology series will result in the individual creators or Avatar Press deeming the stories not worth following-up further on. That would be a shame because, as I said, it was a solidly entertaining book (at least when it was able to actually come-out). I really liked, "Cinema Purgatorio," but it seemed a lot of folk just kind-of shrugged about it. It's a shame, but that's how things go sometimes.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Saint Louis Comic-Con 2019 Was a Blast!

Another Spectacular Show
I had a wonderful time at the Saint Louis Comic-Con this year! It has wrapped as of 5PM today and I enjoyed myself immensely. Here are some of the highlights of the con for me as well as the cool stuff I acquired!

Great People, Snazzy Comics
One of the first people I was excited to see at the show was Tom Nguyen. A talented comic-artist and all-around lovely guy, I enjoyed chatting with him about his work with the television program my wife and I both love--"Big Brother," where he uses his skills to help plan-out set designs and other artwork. Next I ran into the two women who make-up, "Sugar Quill Studios," which consisted of some awesome stickers, prints, and other absolutely gorgeous works. They also were promoting the products of their friend behind, "Jam," which also had some superb stuff! I then spoke with Camerson Petti who is the writer and co-creator of the comic, "Skeleton Bay Detective Agency," which follows a group of youth as they investigate a wide-range of mysteries in their town. I met Beth of Gothic Nothic Geek Boutique who had a wide-range of really neat handmade and organic products such as candles, lip balm, and more! I saw a cool booth run by Damian Starr who was there to assist with selling comics to raise funds for the charity, "Comicbooks for Kids!" which donates comics to children in hospital settings so as to assist them with having fun and relaxing reading to take their mind off medical concerns. Mr. Starr also told me about his own comic he was working on, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," which involves a young boy named Dennis taking on all kinds of dangerous monsters when his Dad takes him to a seemingly-normal military base that holds some dark secrets. It is on Kickstarter now, actually!

After I had a snack I continued browsing and met Harley of Pastel Jackalope. They had some very cool artwork, but my absolute favorite was one they based upon a nightmare their mother told them about--a hamster with human legs. As you can see above, its pretty wild! I also met M. Ainhi, the author of a quartet of books in the, "Blood Inheritance," series that all sounded really cool. I got to see again the team behind the comic, "Hafu," whom I met at a previous con; they had the second comic in the series for sale and it looked rad. Game Night Gear was present at the show with their board-game subscription service, and I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of talented artist Jeffrey Moy as I explored the con.
I picked-up the first issue of the comic, "Visitations," from creator Scott Larson whose enthusiasm about his book made me eager to buy and read it! I checked-out the work of, "Biff! Bam! Boom! Comics," and after that I met William Schlichter who had an assortment of his books for sale, including one really neat sounding one titled, "SKA: Serial Killers Anonymous," about a group of serial killers who form a support group to try and stop killing. I saw Steven J. Bolds who had some really cool art prints for sale and last but not least met Rad Cat, who makes all kinds of neat costumes and art.
I bought/traded for a handful of interesting comics at the show. I got some old issues of the great DC comics series, "52," and some other random stuff, but the coolest acquisitions in my opinion were a snazzy ashcan promoting a, "Batman," comic and four old issue of the, "Snowman," series that was published by Avatar Press on occasion (I have a soft spot for the old over-the-top Avatar Press titles). I also loved browsing through all the great books that were brought to the show by STL Comics and on display in their booth. I told the owner of STL Comics, Eric Meyer, how excited I was for the upcoming Micro-Con on July 28th--expect posts about that as the date nears!

Thanks to Saint Louis Comic-Con
I just want to thank the Saint Louis Comic-Con for letting me come to the 2019 show and write about how awesome it was. I had a fantastic time and am already looking forward to the 2020 show next year!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Film Friday: One New Cinematic Universe Concept I'd Support

I was sitting around and thinking about how after everyone tried to copy the Marvel Cinematic Universe and basically failed (sometimes spectacularly) unless they were inexplicably a, "Conjuring," movie, there was one universe I'd like to see. Basically my idea is a combination of a Cinematic Universe and a Multiverse such as the one seen in that recent animated Spider-Man film and directly referenced in trailers for the new live-action Spider-Man flick. Basically, my idea is to make the three main, "Annie," films all cross-over in some way. Yes, I'm serious, and yes, I've probably gone quite mad.

There is the initial, "Annie," film which was released in 1982 and features a stellar cast including Carol Burnett, Tim Curry, Bernadette Peters, Albert Finney, and more. Following that is the lesser-known but still solid 1999 television movie, "Annie," which had names such as Alan Cumming and the superb Kathy Bates as the delightfully evil Miss Hannigan. Lastly, we have the most recent, "Annie," film which had a much more diverse cast (some haters dismissively refer to the movie as, "Black Annie,") including such awesome folk as Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and Rose Bryne. All three movies make various tweaks to the plot and have certain better and worse elements overall. What if there were a way to make them all cross-over somehow though?

Evil Hannigan's Unite
Picture it, taking place after all the other movies we find that Miss Hannigan somehow finds a way to travel other dimensions (don't ask me how, maybe the power of sheer spite towards children) and attempts to unite with her other selves who have been defeated by Annie to find a, "World without an Annie," where they can run a big ol' orphanage without ending up broke or in jail. However, the Annie of the various dimensions, all now different ages and doing different things in life discover this plot and realize they need to team-up to stop Miss Hannigan from breaking-apart the, "Annie-verse," which I do plan to trademark, in case you were wondering. This leads to all kinds of multi-dimensional shenanigans and the eventual defeat of the evil league of Hannigans.

However, before all the Annies can celebrate too much there will of course be a post-credit stinger. In this a shadowy figure with a young girl's voice will state how, "They are more worlds than you can imagine that need your help," before stepping forward and revealing she is Madeline, of that famous franchise! Oh shit, I just kicked-off the craziest cinematic universe of popular children's characters ever and I didn't even mention where the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Pippi Longstocking, and a talking Curious George come in. Yes, this sounds overly complicated and most likely will fall flat on its face as with any other Cinematic Universe that has been attempted lately besides the MCU (or again, the inadvertent formation of a, "Conjuring," universe), but damn-it someone should give me millions of dollars and at least let me try to get these movies made. I mean, it can't be any worse than what Zack Snyder gave us (and refuses to quit talking about what he would have done if DC/Warner Brothers let him keep at it). Seriously, give me 100 million dollars for at least the initial film and I'll give you absolute gold or at least an interesting mess. Let's make this happen, people!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

DC Comics Just Took a Humanitarian Stand and I Applaud That

Currently at America's Southern border things are an absolute mess. Migrants are being kept in cages within concentration camps (and yes, they fit the definition of concentration camps), and our Country seems gripped with a violent xenophobia not seen for decades. There are certain elements that are very obviously to blame (Trump, the GOP, etc.), but things continue to just get worse instead of better with so few politicians willing to speak-out no matter how many people they represent urge them to do so. Big corporations at times have taken stands on issues (Nike and its deal with Colin Kaepernick who was blacklisted from the NFL for his protesting police brutality), but usually this only occurs when the company crunches the numbers and sees they can make more money supporting one issue as opposed to another. DC made a statement today though that seems less motivated by finances and more by general humanity.

DC Comics tweeted about the need to support refugees and stand with migrants. They deleted the Tweet but then put it back up an hour later and now it still stands. This is sure to piss-off a bunch of angry xenophobes who seem to forget that Superman himself is literally an alien refugee, sent to Earth and landing in America by parents who wanted him to have a change at life (e.g. not dying on Krypton), but at this point saying you are in favor of migrant concentration camps just makes you look like  heartless monster, so obviously DC is doing the right thing here. Even if it gets them some angry press, some right-wing readers saying they'll never read DC books again, and so forth, this is the caring and human choice to show support for those who need it. DC took a stand on this humanitarian issue (it isn't political, it is treating people as human beings) and I applaud them for doing so.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"Doomsday Clock," #10 Reminded Me of Another Random Comic

"Doomsday Clock," is the 12-issue max-series from DC that has much to the surprise of myself and others been really, really good. It has also been horrendously delayed for assorted reasons, but it keeps slowly coming out on a vaguely quarterly schedule now. Geoff Johns is writing it and Gary Frank is providing the illustrations. It has been extremely clever and utilized characters from the comic, "Watchmen," in the only way I thought would work--getting really meta and 4th-wall-bending. Much has been written about how the latest issue is in a way Geoff Johns making his own clever comments on working for DC in comics and film as well as changing concepts of DC's multiverse in fascinating ways (now the, "Metaverse,") and clever in the way it shows the comic-World is so pliable in time and space with Superman as its intriguing center-part. One thing I haven't seen though, is anyone commenting on how darn much certain elements are reminiscent of another great comic.

If I were to ask someone to name their favorite comic done by two creators who collaborate often named Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, the odds are good that person would say, "Criminal." If they like the duo's older stuff, "Sleeper," might get thrown-out. Most would maybe forget what I feel is actually their greatest work, "The Fade Out." The comic is about the dark and seedy underbelly of Hollywood in 1948. It follows an assortment of studio-heads, actors, screenwriters, and such as the industry works to keep a whole bunch of secrets kept quiet (e.g. how many people were in the closet, had substance abuse issues, and so forth). It was only 12 issues (the debut was extra-long), but a fantastic dozen for sure. I found myself really getting some of its vibe in certain aspects of the tenth issue of, "Doomsday Clock."

This latest issue of, "Doomsday Clock," shows where Doctor Manhattan of the famous, "Watchmen," comic went after he left that Universe. He went to the one with Superman and noticed the strange way time seemed to alter and bend around the character. Manhattan doesn't meet Superman first, however. No, he meets a young man named Carver Coleman who has gone to Hollywood hoping to become a big star but is struggling in an unforgiving and difficult industry. Manhattan ends up having Carver be a bit of a focal point for him to practice his powers to, "See," around in time and much of the comic when it isn't following Doctor Manhattan involves Carver and his immense success as an actor in the, "Nathaniel Dusk," film series.

"Nathaniel Dusk," was an actual detective-comic published by DC at points in time and, "Doomsday Clock," has had the films serve as a bit of a background-material in much of the issues, not unlike how, "Watchmen," incorporated that Black Freighter comic within the text. A lot of the comic-moments with Carver and his putting-up with the sleazy side of Hollywood made me strongly think of, "The Fade Out," albeit now with DC super-heroes and Doctor Manhattan thrown-in to tweak stuff.

"Doomsday Clock," has two more issues to go of its dozen and seems as if it is going to make some big changes to the DC Universe while also cleverly contextualizing the rules of it Universe. "Watchmen," was also 12 issues and altered the landscape of the comic-book form forever. "The Fade Out," was of course 12 great issues and is in my opinion unfairly ignored by many when the best works of Brubaker and Phillips are discussed. Dozens all around, linked in various ways be it the comics directly riffing on each other or tonally reminding me of certain elements in the others.

I know Johns and Frank weren't drawing from anything in, "The Fade Out," with this tenth issue of, "Doomsday Clock," but it just felt nice to see an unintended and inadvertent spiritual sequel to, "The Fade Out," popping up in issue #10 of, "Doomsday Clock," of all places when it came to certain parts of the story and its vibe when it came to late-40's (and some of 1950's) Hollywood. Again, I'm about 99.9% sure I'm the only person to see much similarities between the books, but it makes me all warm and fuzzy to think I did even if I maybe look a bit like a crazed-maniac drawing random comparisons between totally unrelated books.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I Never Liked Mr. Resetti

At various points in my life I always enjoyed playing, "Animal Crossing." Whether is was on a Gamecube, Nintendo DS, or even the micro-transaction-happy iPhone version, I found great pleasure in the charm of living in a little village with a bunch of anthropomorphic critters as my neighbors. One thing I did not like, however, was Mr. Resetti. Therefore, I was happy to hear he got, "Fired."

In previous, "Animal Crossing," titles you could only save your game by having your character go rest in their bed for a nap. The game always moved in, "Real-time," so when you would stop playing your character was essentially, "Asleep," until you came back to adventure more. You'd go fishing, catch bugs, pick fruit, run errands for chums, send some letters to your animal-neighbors, then lie down and, "Sleep." Perhaps for some reason the game got turned off before you could save, however? Maybe you lost power or something? Well, when you would turn the game back on Mr. Resetti, an angry little Mole would appear and scold you. The first time he'd be relatively polite, but if it kept happening he'd get increasingly angry, threatening to delete your game or otherwise bring you harm. I hated him and how rude he was. This is why I'm pleased that the upcoming version of, "Animal Crossing," for the Nintendo Switch will have an auto-save feature and therefore make Mr. Resetti's job of yelling at you redundant. He's been laid-off, and I couldn't be happier.
Perhaps I'm being silly here. Mr. Resetti never could actually affect your game in a negative way, and he had a point that you shouldn't reset your game without saving it, even if something you didn't like occurred (perhaps you sold a piece of furniture and later regretted it). Still, he was just programmed to be so unpleasant and crass that it stuck with me and resulted in him being one of those video-game characters I hate the most. Hopefully now that he doesn't have to work this job that caused him so much stress Nintendo can find another position for him within, "Animal Crossing," or even a different game series. Just tell him next time he thinks he can talk smack to me I will shove a hose down into his burrow and flood it. I ain't playing.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Saint Louis Comic-Con is this Saturday!

I'm excited that in less than a week the Saint Louis Comic-Con will be happening. Held at 1 Convention Center Plaza in Saint Charles, it is always a fun event. With free parking and a reasonable cost to attend, you don't break the bank just to enter the show and can instead spend your money on all the spectacular guests, artists, and vendors! I personally always like how the Saint Louis Comic-Con (which is done by parent company Mighty Con) has a strong focus on comic-books and plenty of vendors selling them. I don't mind when shows are just pop-culture focused, but I always treasure being able to go to a show and enjoy browsing a bunch of comics in-between talking with awesome guests known for their work in the field of comic-books (that isn't to say this show lacks a wide range of interests, I just especially love the comic-content).

The con starts at 10AM Saturday morning and I can't wait! You can buy tickets there (with kids 12 and under free), but I always recommend purchasing them in advance just to make things easier. I look forward to the show and know it'll be great time just as it is every year. I'll be sure to make a post discussing the fun I had afterwards, but if you can go I'd encourage you to do so as opposed to just reading about how much I consistently enjoy myself! See you there!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

(100% Not Serious) Father's Day Advice

Happy Father's Day!
Today is Father's Day. I have loved writing about my son, Clarkson, and have made serious posts discussing being a Dad as well as just generally enjoying talking about my awesome baby boy (although now he's officially toddler-age). That said, to commemorate this Father's Day I thought I would share some tips that actually are terrible and you should not under any circumstances follow or take seriously. With that said...

Awful Advice For Dads
Make sure to give your baby at least 1 cigar a day to smoke, but no more than 3.

By age 2 it is reasonable to expect your child is capable of operating heavy machinery without supervision. Don't hesitate to let them use a forklift, welding equipment, etc.

If your baby poops in their diaper while in public, help them feel less self-conscious about it by letting-loose into your britches as well.

Don't let your child play really violent video-games alone. Play with them so you can beat the hard challenges with less trouble.

To help foster responsibility in your child, get them a pet. Don't make it a boring pet like a cat or dog though. Get something interesting like a Komodo Dragon or Polar Bear. They'll not only learn the importance of keeping their pet fed, they'll be skilled at avoiding being bitten/mauled.

If your child starts throwing a fit in the store over a toy don't let them get away with making a scene. Show them you're the professional fit-thrower and proceed to kick and scream on the ground even louder than them.

Only let your baby drink clear liquor until age 5, stuff like whiskey will keep them up at night. Red wine is okay though.

Never hesitate to bring your baby to a movie--no matter the rating or how often they fuss. Everyone around you will 100% completely understand if they start screaming for snacks in the middle of a dramatic moment.

Teach your child proper manners. For example, if they're at a restaurant and the food is taking awhile it is always good form to begin banging your utensils on the table while loudly exclaiming, "I want num-nums!"

Let your child know you will always love them, no matter what--this one is actually a piece of good advice to end an otherwise silly post. Happy Father's Day, everyone!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

E3 Happened A Bit Ago

That big Electronic Entertainment Expo or, E3, as it is also known, happened a bit ago. It used to be a huge deal, with video-game companies making big announcements and such. Now it gets some press but is a lot less of a, "Thing." There were some interesting tidbits, such as the fact Microsoft plans to launch a new console during the holiday 2020 season, and how that long-in-development, "Cyberpunk 2077," has a definite release date (April 16th, 2020) as well as a digital Keanu Reeves, which is exciting but also as more is seen of the game some social-elements are a bit...problematic. Also, "Dying Light 2," looks kind of cool with is multi-layered cities, plus that, "Final Fantasy VII," remake keeps chugging along, but there wasn't anything super-wild and crazy announced that hadn't already leaked to some degree before the show (sup, "Watch Dogs: Legion,") or is specifically of interest to me even if other folk are pumped (a new game with George R.R. Martin involved).

E3 happened and some cool stuff was there, but it wasn't as wild as back in the day; that sums things up pretty well. Oh, and also that, "Avengers," game from Square Enix looks kind of off-putting and its annoying it'll be one of those, "Service games," you get sporadic little updates to. That does not inspire much excitement within me.

Friday, June 14, 2019

A Quick Observation About an Ariana Grande Song

Ariana Grande is a bit of divisive personality currently, with there being lots of debate about if she's appropriating Black culture for monetary gain (opinions range from, "Yes," to, "It's Complicated," basically). That said, there is something weirdly admirable about some of the lyrics in, "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored." Within the song she tells a man that she would like him to leave his girlfriend and then have sex with her for no reason other than she bored. She is sure to point-out in the song she is aware this is wrong, mean, and unfair, but she's basically really horny, and yes, bored. Also, to Grande's credit she is not willing to cheat with this man. She will only, "Let you hit it in the it's yours," once he is officially single. This essentially means she respects a relationship enough to never have someone cheat, but is still sleazy enough to encourage someone to end a relationship so she can get a good boinking--which she fully realizes, "Ain't right," but she doesn't care.

I suppose the song is in a way weirdly thoughtful, because if a man is willing to leave his girlfriend simply if Ariana Grande is bored and willing to have sex with him (if he's single), the woman he's leaving doesn't deserve such a flaky and crass boyfriend. Yes, everyone, Ariana Grande is doing the woman dating the man she wants to bang a favor. Again, it is all weirdly admirable.

This Latest Marvel Storyline Suddenly Sounds Interesting...

When it comes to naming a villain who at times struggles to be interesting, one I can easily think of is Ultron. Created by Hank Pym (in the comics, in the movies Tony Stark is his, "Father," of course), Ultron has his whole deal being wanting to wipe out humanity...and that's about it. We do have a rare occasion or two where Ultron has had something more interesting going on (that time he considered conquering the galaxy, the weird day when he tried to seduce Hank Pym as a robotic version of his ex-wife), but it is telling my favorite story involving the character was one that imagined a world where he hadn't been created. I know somewhat recently Ultron and Hank Pym merged into one person or something ("Rage of Ultron," was weird), but that seemed to do little of note for the character being at all intriguing. Hence, when I saw the press for a new story-line in the, "Tony Stark: Iron Man," comic titled, "The Ultron Agenda," I assumed it would sound very dull. Then I saw Machine Man was the villain. Wait, that's interesting.

Aaron Stack AKA the Machine Man was created by Jack Kirby to tie-in with the classic film, "2001: A Space Odyssey," of all things. Over time other writers tackled the character as well as varying interpretations of him (Stack was very important in the out-of-continuity, "Earth X," to name one example). Stack arguably gained a whole new group of fans when Warren Ellis used him in the cult-classic, "Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.," series that painted Stack in a light that was both hilarious and a tiny bit sympathetic. He then popped-up in other series and is one of those cult-characters that has a small and dedicated fan-based but otherwise gets ignored a lot (kind of like my personal favorite character, Moon Knight). To see that Aaron Stack AKA Machine Man is going to be leading a robot uprising dedicated to making sure A.I. takes over the planet suddenly sounds pretty attention-grabbing as opposed to if it was simply Ultron trying to just wipe-out humans for the 50th time for little reason other than a slew of daddy-issues about his creator.
Reading that the, "Ultron Agenda," story-arc will explore concepts of just how, "Alive," the artificial life in the Marvel Universe is sounds pretty snazzy. It was a concept touched-upon to a good degree in the stellar, "The Vision," mini-series (fun fact, Vision is technically the son of Ultron, making Hank Pym Vision's Grandpa) and one worth exploring. Plus, with a character as interesting as Aaron Stack AKA Machine Man I already expect a lot more interesting stuff to occur than if it had been Ultron himself again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Alright, the Blues Might Win TODAY, Then?

Update at 11:14 PM--The Blues won, hooray!

On Sunday I made a post discussing my hopes for the Saint Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup in Game 6. The game did not go especially well, with the final score being Boston's favor. This brings us to Game 7, the final game, today. It is taking place in Boston, but the Blues won Game 5 despite it being on the Bruin's turf, so here's hoping that today the Blues will win and achieve their first-ever victory in successfully completing the road to the Stanley Cup.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Chelsea Cain Really Messed-Up

Chelsea Cain
Chelsea Cain is a writer who has done some stuff I really liked. Her cancelled-too-soon run on, "Mockingbird," was spectacular, with Kate Niemczyk doing a stellar job as well illustrating it. They reunited to do, "Man-Eaters," which takes place in a world where menstruating women can turn into violent panthers and kill people, resulting in all kinds of legislation and efforts to control their bodies. I was super-impressed with the artwork, but the story was just kind of..there. Cain seemed to have a clever idea but was engaging in some strange metaphor mixing, doing the White-Feminism thing of incorporating racial imagery and such while having all the characters in the story be White (e.g. a women-only fountain calling-up ideas of racial inequality...but all the women are Caucasian).

One thing that didn't occur to me was how the story seemed to be ignoring the idea of the manner in which Trans individuals might be affected in such a world. This was pointed out by some people who felt the story could benefit from the inclusion of Transmen and Transwomen simply to expand the plot and provide more of a view than how the story seemed really focused on CisWomen who were white. Cain saw some tweets written about this and responded in a somewhat overly-defensive manner about how she appreciated Trans readers even if they, "Hate," her book (no one Trans said they hated it, just that it could incorporate Trans people into the story). She said she would work to be better, so no harm, no foul, right? I mean, sometimes Cis-folk don't think about how Trans characters could be affected by a plot in a story but by working to be more inclusive we can correct that. Cain apologized so all was good...and then she did something really stupid.
In issue #9 of, "Man-Eaters," Chelsea Cain has a bunch of her white female characters in a concentration camp for women (more uncomfortable metaphor-mixing) and there are billboards in the background that copy text verbatim from Twitter with tweets critical of, "Man-Eaters." This includes Trans readers who tweeted about the comic. Cain basically is passive-aggressively responding to critics by making them look like dumb haters. She didn't include user-names, but it is easy to find Tweets with the text and it maybe was actually illegal to take other's tweets and print them in her comic without any permission. The internet exploded in response to this. It has been pointed out that at this point Cain has a lot of things we can question in regards to if she is in fact trying to do better or is moreso engaging in classic White-Feminism that exclusively focuses on White, CisWomen to the hindrance of anyone else (people of color, Trans individuals, and so forth).

 I'm not saying Chelsea Cain is a TERF, but she's making some dumb moves. Before she deleted her Twitter in response to all this hubbub she asked if someone Trans would work for her for free to ensure the book was, "Sensitive," enough to Trans concerns, and then just outright stated, "'Man-Eaters,' has meant a lot to a small group of people, and we will finish the last three issues for them. I'm sorry I'm not who you want me to be, and I'm sorry that ME can't be inclusive of every experience." Much controversy could have been avoided if Cain has simply apologized and continued her story how she wanted or tweaked it to be more inclusive, if she had done either without printing tweets in her comic without permission. She messed-up when she did that, and she continued to really mess-up afterwards tweeting some ignorant B.S.
Cain's last tweet before she deleted her account.
The whole thing is a mess, and the icing on the cake is some Conservative idiots are now on some of the sites I frequent laughing about how this is an example of Liberals turning on Liberals and how left-wing people are the really hateful individuals, etc. These morons of course miss the point, but its just annoying to see right-wing dummies yukking it up about all this. At this point I don't know what Cain is going to do, but it seems the comic will conclude and maybe future printings of the series will excise those unfairly-printed tweets. What a fiasco.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Could the Blues Take Home the Stanley Cup Today? I Hope!

I live in Saint Louis and the one sport I remotely follow at all is Hockey. Therefore, I am pretty pumped for the Saint Louis Blues to play this sixth game of the Stanley Cup today, and possibly even win it for the first time ever! It has been a wild season, with the Blues ranked dead-last among all the teams in January and now a single game away from being champs. Much of the credit for this goes to the incredible goalie, Jordan Binnington, a relative rookie who is possibly already one of the top goalies in the league. No matter how great a goalie is at blocking shots however you need the team to score too, and the Blues have had some solid play-lines, with each one contributing greatly to their success from the big-name players such as Tarasenko, Schwartz, and O'Reilly to less-discussed but still key guy such as Sundqvist, Dunn, and Thomas (who has been injured and unable to play in the Cup, tragically).

Could the Blues take home the Stanley Cup today? I sure hope so, as it has been nearly 50 years since the last time they even had the chance to do so and this is the first time ever they might just make good and take the series in six games--on home ice, no less. Should they fail to win, we will get a Game 7, but it will be in Boston on the Bruin's home turf and that just sounds like trouble. Here's hoping the game tonight goes well and the Stanley Cup stays in Saint Louis, where it belongs after this crazy season!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

I Loved Visiting Frosted in Cortland!

We are heading out from Cortland, but before we left I was sure to stop by my favorite bakery in town, Frosted. They have a delicious assortment of cookies, cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and do some stellar breakfast bagel sandwiches too. One of my favorite things is how they'll sometimes bake a cookie into a cupcake, which I find simply delicious. Should you ever be in or near Cortland, I'd encourage you to visit there. Feel free to visit their Facebook page to double-check their hours and when you stop by be sure to get some tasty goods and maybe purchase a fun t-shirt (as you can see, I did just that)!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Some, "Almost Officially Summer," Links

Kinda Sorta Summer?
The schools in Saint Louis let out in late May (hence our family's trip to visit my folk in New York) so it is already Summer for us. It isn't officially Summer however until Friday, June 21st. With that in mind I guess these links don't, "Kick-off," the Summer so much as they are here to entertain you while waiting for the actual Summer Solstice.

(Nearly) Summertime Learnin'
I don't know what kind of group Marvel is assembling with its, "Newest, most ruthless team," but apparently they will not compromise or provide mercy. It sounds suitably gritty, but there are some characters I quite like involved, making me hopeful when whatever this group's team-name will be is revealed we'll hear there is a solid creative team involved too.

Sam Rockwell is a tremendous actor and I've been a fan of his since, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," but even he is willing to admit lately he's played a whole lot of racists in film. Maybe he can host, "Saturday Night Live," again and try not to let any F-bombs slip this time?

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6th, 2019, an assortment of World Leaders signed a symbolic proclamation signifying a, "Shared responsibility to ensure that the unimaginable horror of these years is never repeated.” It was solemn event about World War II, and everyone signed at the bottom except our President, Donald Trump, who just had to sign it at the top, separate from everyone, as largely as possible. Goddamn, this is embarrassing. As much as anyone with sense despises this President I imagine the rest of the World hates putting up with him even more.

As someone who played the first, "Metal Gear Solid," game way back in my Junior High years and found it to be a revelation of game-meets-cinema (albeit an admittedly flawed one) I really enjoyed this article that discusses the game in equally fond and critical ways.

I've got two articles that are both from The Takeout. We've got one about collectors who drop hundreds on vintage Kool-Aid flavors and sometimes drink the decades old packets (sounds kinda fun and kinda gross if one drinks them) and another post discussing how a food delivery service in New York City has been pretending actual beef burgers from Burger King are the plant-based Impossible Whopper. As someone allergic to beef that sounds like a recipe to make me very, very ill. It is funny to imagine someone taking a bite out of one of these and saying how it is gross and tastes nothing like a real Whopper, when it is in fact beef-based, that'd be kinda funny.

John Byrne has his own X-Men comic he is releasing as fan-fiction online instead of officially at Marvel, despite rumors they wanted to publish it. John Bryne being a cranky ol' bastard is not news, but he is one admittedly extremely talented cranky ol' bastard so it is cool people will be able to read this work for free on his website.

Remember when a new, "X-Men," movie was big news, then at least notable? Yeah, now we've got this new, "Dark Phoenix," coming out, basically being the last entry in the current canon of, "X-Men," films (as horribly disjointed and broken a continuity as they have) and it's being met with a resounding shrug--as the AV Club put it, "...just another damn, 'X-Men,' movie." It is sad to see the franchise end with such a whimper, and it has had some incredible highs ("Logan," was amazing, and "Deadpool," will be allowed to keep on trucking even with Marvel/Disney getting his rights back from Fox), but sometimes a saga ends in a disappointing manner instead of a crowd-pleasing explosion--just look at how often we are let-down by the finales of big television shows, after all. Oh wait, "New Mutants," is still in development Hell and started as a Fox project. Check back with me in 2020 and just cut-and-paste the titles of the movies as I'm pretty doubtful it will be of much note either.

While we're on the subject of film franchises that have had more misses than hits, my friend Tony over at Comics Heating Up wrote a great article that points out how character of The Flash really suffered when it came to the DC Extended Universe (may it rest in peace). If we ever get that supposed, "Flash," movie due in 2021 that would maybe be nice though, as I am a big fan of Ezra Miller.

Let's close with a helping of further food news. This article about how MSG got a bad rap is insightful in how it digs into the racist roots of the backlash to the chemical that seems to inspire disgust when its in Asian food, yet is a-okay when its a major ingredient of a beloved food such as the nuggets at Chick-Fil-A.

Not Much Longer
I hope everyone is able to get some relaxation in as Summer approaches and of course during the hot vacation months as well (unless you live South the Equator, in which case, enjoy the cold)!