Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Television Tuesday: The, "Golden Bachelor," is Finally Here!

It was announced it was going to happen three or so years ago, but the television debut of, "The Golden Bachelor," finally occurred last Thursday. When Gerry Turner was revealed as the elder Bachelor he seemed like a genuinely sweet guy. With the premiere having occurred I would say (for once) the show hit it out of the park picking a superb lead. I'd fallen off the franchise around when Zach's season started but I'm back because the, "Golden Bachelor," had my attention. After the debut, I'll continue tuning in!

After meeting Gerry and hearing his story of how he lost his first wife (a moment that had everyone on Twitter declaring they were sobbing) we got to the opening night and ladies arriving! I previously wondered if it being older women in the cast would result in less immature/competitive behavior from the contestants too. Well, the gals all seemed to be pleasant toward one another (for now) so that was nice. There were some interesting characters among the bunch and Jimmy Kimmel's Aunt made a surprise appearance as a joke to crack some one-liners before heading out at the episode's conclusion. Oh, Matt James (a previous Bachelor) had his mom randomly there too, but she went home the first night so that stunt-casting was basically for naught.

Besides the fact everyone is decades older than the OG show it was still, "The Bachelor," to a T. We had funny entrances, Gerry chatting with the ladies and smooching some, little jokes here and there, it was good! I will give the franchise props for not shying away from some sex talk too. People don't always like to consider how old folks are getting raunchy these days, but they are, and that's cool too! Just because someone is in their 60s that doesn't mean they have to avoid making a double entendre--this franchise loves jokes about, "Birthday suits," or such! There will still be drama, it just looks like (from the previews of the season) everything will be a lot less toxic and malicious.

I had fun meeting the Bachelor and all the women, and it is a little funny to think adding a bunch of elderly adults could very well be the reinvigorating shot in the arm this franchise needs. I had fun watching, "The Bachelor," and besides, 'Bachelor in Paradise," it has been a while since things have been genuinely lighthearted and enjoyable within this franchise so now that they are, I'll be tuning in.

5 out of 5 stars (for the first episode).

I Loved the, "Unexplained Prague," Book and Now Am Excited for, "Unexplained Los Angeles," on Kickstarter!

Back in February, I discussed how the Kickstarter campaign for, "Unexplained Prague," looked really fun. The, "Unexplained," series of travelogues features comic artwork and interesting stories about the spotlit cities--along with tips on spooky and eeerie places to stay or dine. These books are by Skull & City I.S.R.L. with writing and artwork by Mackenzie Peltz. The latest one focusing on Prague indeed turned out to be a real treat of strange stories about places to be sure and visit. Peltz's artwork is lovely too, reminding me a bit of Mike Mignola in style while standing on its own as superb. With the Prague book out, work has now turned to the next title, focused on Los Angeles!

"Unexplained Los Angeles," currently has a Kickstarter campaign you can find here. While L.A. may be thought of as a city of glitz and glamour, it has all kinds of eerie folklore and allegedly haunted landmarks for readers to delve into. Based on the quality of the other, "Unexplained," books I know, "Unexplained Los Angeles," will be a fantastic travelogue/graphic novel! I encourage everyone to check the Kickstarter campaign out (here's that link again) and to back the book if it sounds like something they'd enjoy reading--or planning a visit to L.A. with!

Monday, October 2, 2023

"Night Cruising," is an Eerie and Great Read

Floating World Comics puts out some of my favorite indie stuff lately so when I saw the solicitation for, "Night Cruising," it caught my eye. Focusing on a trouble-making youth named Ricky, the comic features him cruising around Los Angeles getting up to worse and worse trouble. Creator, Harry Nerdlinger (of," Vacuum Decay," fame) has said online that the comic was, "...inspired by just the mood of driving around LA at night, listening to the Cure, the Doors, and late-era Bowie. I think Lost Highway probably had a big influence on the general imagery." I haven't seen, "Lost Highway," but know it is quite trippy and I'd say, "Night Cruising," is without a doubt a surreal little dip into madness. 

The comic opens as Ricky drops off a lady after a date that seems to have been very proper and polite but then things quickly get dark. Ricky zips around the city getting up to all kinds of nefarious activities and it is hinted that since a head injury, he has been not quite right, although he maybe was already pretty, "Off," to begin with.

Something is seriously wrong with Ricky.

Nerdlinger's use of black-and-white results in lots of darkness mixed with blinding brightness when a car's headlights shine or Ricky goes into an ominous diner. The contrast helps contribute to the disorienting nature of the comic as Ricky seems to careen all around the city, only stopping to get into trouble. "Night Cruising," definitely puts readers ill at ease as they read it and Nerdlinger has created a freaky and eerie one-shot. If you like ominous tales that aren't quite horror but clearly are twisted and discomforting, then, "Night Cruising," is worth checking out.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

"The Department of Truth," to Have an, "Official," Bootleg Edition--How Trippy!

"The Department of Truth," is a fun and surreal comic by James Tynion IV and Martin Simmonds (with occasional guest artists). It focuses all on conspiracy theories and is quite trippy.  Tynion recently announced for the upcoming New York Comic-Con this October that they'll have, "Department of Truth: The Bootleg Edition." As Tynion described it in his email newsletter, "It’s printed in black and white, on newsprint, right here in NYC. We’re not making these available for sale online...we did a print run of 500 of these suckers, and they’ll be hand-numbered on the back." It is designed to be like a little pamphlet done by a crazy person as, "The ink literally comes off on your fingers." An official comic by the creative team designed to look like a bootleg? A faux bootleg or a fake of a fake? How strange and fitting for this series!

I had a post in August discussing how bootleg/unofficial/fan-made products can be extremely popular. It is humorous to witness an official item that is designed to look like a bootleg now hitting the scene. If anyone happens to be at NYCC and swings by the Artists' Alley they should be sure to visit table C-27 and grab one of these comics! Heck, if they let you buy two maybe get one for me!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Time for My Favorite Meme About September

As September draws to a close today I think of my favorite song regarding this month. To be specific, a cover of the song done on the saxophone seemingly played by a seal. Yes, it is about time to, “Wake up,” because September is ending. Observe:

It’s a lovely take on a Green Day classic. See you all in October in less than a day!

"Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham," #1 is a Treat of a Debut Issue

Rafael Grampá is one of the best artists around and when he makes a comic book it is bound to be a feast for the eyes. His latest series is for DC's Black Label and titled, "Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham." It features Batman trying to psychologically, "Kill," his Bruce Wayne persona whilst also figuring out a string of serial killings and fighting a new villain who seems to be unrelated to the serial killer but is also committing all kinds of violent crimes whilst engaging in an obsession with a decades-old cartoon. There's a lot of plot going on, and it is an interesting story for sure! That said, the thing that makes this comic really sing isn't just Grampá's plotting, but his art.

Whether Grampá is drawing an imposingly eerie Batman, an impressive new Batmobile, creepy baddies, or just a busy city street, the visuals are something you want to just enmesh yourself in. You can practically smell the dingy street, your eyes almost water seeing the chemicals in a drug lab, and every blow Batman delivers to the criminals he fights carries a heft through the illustrations you'd almost think you got socked in the jaw. Grampá is an absolute beast here with an intriguing story and incredible art. It's just fantastic stuff.

The first issue of "Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham," is stupendous. I'd highly recommend folks check it out and explore other works by Rafael Grampá as this is just another example of how stellar his work is. I unquestionably rate this comic 5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Today was National Coffee Day

Today was National Coffee Day. I learned this from the news and I celebrated by doing what I always do: I drank some coffee. I had some coffee in the morning with breakfast, I had a bit in the afternoon, and I just finished drinking a bit this evening. I am a fan of coffee, as you all know, so I appreciate having a day here in America celebrating the beverage. I will drink fancy brew at a coffee shop or cheap gas station sludge because I'm not picky. I basically like any plain black coffee besides Maxwell House--that stuff is just nasty. Happy National Coffee Day to all of you who are lovers of coffee. It is good stuff. Now we await the International Coffee Day on October 3rd!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

"Starfield," Impressions: It's Okay

I really wanted to love, "Starfield." Instead I just generally like it. The company behind the game, Bethesda, makes good stuff, from Elder Scrolls titles to Fallout titles, and so forth. "Starfield," is their first new IP in 25 or so years and it sounded cool. Spaceships, quests, and more! I was hopeful even if I felt like I'd had diminishing returns with Bethesda lately. I adored, "Fallout 3," and greatly enjoyed, "Skyrim," then had a lot of fun with, "Fallout 4," even if I liked 3 a bit more. Now we've got, "Starfield," and it is more of the same with some new spaceship stuff. I wanted to relish the NASA-punk aesthetic of grimy ships, going to planets, exploring the universe, and such. Instead, I got a little of Fallout and a little of Skyrim with some, "No Man's Sky," thrown in too (a different studio, but there is a bit of a vibe). 

While I was playing, "Starfield," my wife saw it and said, "Haven't you played this before?" She didn't mean it in a joking manner, she just literally couldn't tell, "Starfield," apart very much from the other Bethesda titles she'd witnessed me playing at points over the years and knows I sometimes revisit old games now and then for some fun. It got me thinking, however, I have played this before. Even with the excuse that, "Starfield," starts a bit slow and then the main quest has some fun twists-and-turns, it is all pretty familiar. 

I'm not imbued with dragon magic, but instead some kind of space magic. I can join any faction and do all the quests before moving on to the next faction and doing all their quests with zero impact on the World at large beyond those siloed quest concepts (to the credit of, "Fallout 4," the main quests incorporated the factions/groups a lot and being tight with one could make another hate you). I can stumble on a random bandit den on a planet instead of in a cave--and this time certain things are procedurally generated on some planets so I can see the almost exactly same group of baddies in a single play session with just a planetary atmosphere making the difference. All of these complaints/observations aside, I have had fun and little magical moments do happen.

The moments of little whimsy make me have a fondness for Bethesda games. When I'm floating around above a planet and see other ships zipping around I can interact with to chat, trade, or threaten, it is a fleeting moment where, "Starfield," feels special and not just like another Bethesda game. Little jokes written/typed on in-game notepads can give me a chuckle and impart some personality in an otherwise oddly sterile and drab Universe. I like, "Starfield," I just wish it had lived up to my expectations of being an epic space jaunt that utterly wowed me a bunch instead of being another Bethesda game that does the usual Bethesda stuff with a touch of extra spaceship action. I've witnessed, "Starfield," being called, "Skyrim in space," or, "Fallout in space," and don't agree fully with that phrasing. It's, "A Bethesda game in space," and that statement summarizes it to a T, for better or worse. I haven't played a ton of, "Starfield," and I do plan to play more--I do! That said, I now have realistic expectations for the rest of the game as I continue my journey among the stars.

3 out of 5 Stars.

Mad Cave Comics to Publish New, "Dick Tracy," Comics

One of the older comic characters around would be Dick Tracy. He's been around 90 or so years and now, Mad Cave Studios has cut a deal with the brand's owner, Tribune Content Agency, to publish new comics featuring the detective. Alex Segura and Michael Moeci will be writing new tales and Geraldo Borges shall be on art duties with creative consultation being supplied by Chantelle Aimée Osman. The first issue is due around March of 2024 and I'm happy for Mad Cave Studios as they've continuously put out some cool stuff over the years as a smaller-but-great publisher. I wish everyone involved success with this latest take on the famous investigator.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

"Predator Versus Wolverine," #1 is a Fun Start to a Wacky Story

Disney and by proxy, Marvel, acquired the licenses to both the, "Alien," and, "Predator," franchises. This resulted in some fun variant covers featuring heroes fighting those characters and comics separate from the Marvel Universe. However, the first official crossover has dropped where a Predator and Wolverine have a fight spanning over a century. Fittingly titled, "Predator Versus Wolverine," I believe this is in the regular Marvel continuity. Now the Predator exists in the 616 Universe so that's fun. This debut issue opens in the present day before spending a good chunk of time in 1900 or so and then jumping to when Wolverine was part of a mysterious assassin squad with other mutants such as Sabretooth and closing on a cliffhanger. I enjoyed the issue as it was fun to watch Wolverine and a Predator fighting in a brutal manner. Writer Benjamin Percy writes a good yarn, after all.

My one issue would be how the segment in the long-ago past is illustrated by Greg Land. That is a huge bummer as out of all the comic artists working today he's one of those few artists whose work I actively avoid--I have not read a comic when I know he's doing the art. That said, he isn't the artist for the entire issue so I managed to muddle through his segment. It was fun witnessing Wolverine and a Predator quarreling throughout the comic and Greg Land's art aside I enjoyed the issue. I look forward to seeing more of Logan and the space creature going at it as the series continues!

4 out of 5 stars.