Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Dark Side After Dark," is a Fun YouTube Show!

I enjoy an assortment of podcasts and YouTube shows, so when I heard one of my favorite local comic shops around, The Dark Side Comics & Games, was doing a show titled, "Dark Side After Dark," I was intrigued! The show features Rob (who owns Dark Side) along with his friends Brandon, Ryan, Thomas, and Jacob (who is offscreen). In the debut episode, they discussed trading card games, which I am not too familiar with, but their laid-back and humorous banter made the show really enjoyable even if the more technical-talk about the trading card games went over my head a smidgen.

Plus, every episode aims to be around 25 minutes to 45 minutes long, which is nice and to the point compared to some shows or podcasts that ramble on for 3-4 hours. I'd encourage you to check out the first episode at this link, and be sure and visit the official website of The Dark Side Comics & Games as well. They have an online store you can buy from too!

Friday, March 27, 2020

In Case You Wondered What Dan DiDio Was Up To During the Pandemic...

Dan DiDio was suddenly fired from his position as Co-Publisher at DC Comics when a number of powerful people wanted him gone (WB's executive board, maybe, we don't know for sure). I wrote about it and how eventually some facts would come out or Dan DiDio would find himself at another company. Nothing juicy has come to light yet, but since DiDio's firing, a lot has happened. DiDio maybe was not liked by a number of people, but he got DC through a number of crises (no pun intended with all the, "Crisis," comics they publish) and maybe, just maybe, some people at DC wish he were there right now as everything in the comic-book market is an utter mess due to COVID-19. Diamond has stopped shipping product for an unspecified period of time, DC's printer is shut down for a number of weeks as well, and what is Dan DiDio doing while all this happens? He's buying comic supplies.

Yep, Dan DiDio posted on his social media and Bleeding Cool reported about it how he kinda-sorta broke the law and went out while California is locked down in order to buy some comic supplies from an unnamed comic store. It went down with the owner of the store meeting him in a parking lot and popping their trunk to reveal the goods as if it were an illicit drug deal. After sampling the merchandise as the picture at the top of my article shows, the transaction was complete as DiDio was pleased with his purchase of bags and boards. DanDio seems happy and safe, so I'm happy for him.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Cherry Vanilla Coke is Pretty Good

I like to share my thoughts on different flavors of Coca-Cola. As someone who prefers the original and sometimes a nice Cherry Coke, I can be a bit picky. I thought Cinnamon Coke was worth 3 out of 5 stars and have had it off-and-on since my review. Now, we have Cherry Vanilla Coke, a combination of the aforementioned Cherry Coke as well as the somewhat popular Vanilla Coke. What do I think of this new combo-flavor? It is pretty good.

Cherry Vanilla Coke definitely has more of a vanilla flavor than cherry one. That is perfectly okay, and if you are a lover of Vanilla coke who wishes it had a bit of cherry in it, then this is the soda for you. If you adore Cherry Coke and want a hint of vanilla, however, you will be horrifically disappointed. There is that delicious Coke flavor in there too, thankfully not overpowered by the two combination flavors. I do wish the cherry were more evident when drinking the soda, but it is still tasty. I would give Cherry Vanilla Coke 3.5 out of 5 stars, as it is a solid option if you want more, "Exotic," Coke now and then.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Indie Publisher Silver Sprocket is Posting Their Entire Catalog Online for Free

I am a big fan of the indie publisher of comics, zines, and goodies, Silver Sprocket. I get their press emails and was excited to see that they will be posting their entire comic's catalog online for all to enjoy. They are doing this because they know people are bored with the quarantine protocol we all are following (you better be following it), and when they post stuff online it often boosts print sales too (they can still mail anything you'd like to you as well). This is really awesome, and I have the press release in full below with links to the first new free comic offering, "Big Punk," by Janelle Hessig, which readers may recall I loved. It is posted with other comics and will soon be joined by even more titles! Here is the press release...

Silver Sprocket Posting Comics Catalog Online for Free

We’re posting the Silver Sprocket comics catalog online for free easy reading.
This includes nearly everything Silver Sprocket has ever published, from Eisner and Ignatz Award nominated hits like Your Black Friend by Ben Passmore, Catboy by Benji Nate, and Pinky and Pepper Forever by Ivy Atoms, to new releases and out-of-print classics. 
This is primarily a community service for bored nerds under quarantine or social-distancing in need of quality indie comics to keep our minds sharp.
It’s hopefully smart business too, since the comics we post online usually end up selling the best in print.
If enough people still have money for comics, maybe we can get through this.
Read them. Take joy. Share. Make memes. There isn’t anyone who can stop you.
We’re starting today with Big Punk by Janelle Hessig, and will continue posting every day.
These will join the hundreds of comics already on our website.

Though our physical space is temporarily closed by government mandate, we will continue sending mail-order every day from our online store with free shipping for orders over $25, and just launched a Gumroad profile for PDF downloads.
Stay safe out there. Let’s make the best of this. We got this. 
Please get in contact if there is anything we can do to help.
Comics we will be posting online include:
As You Were, Vol 1-5, curated by Mitch Clem
Be Your Own Backing Band by Liz Prince
Big Punk by Janelle Hessig
Catboy by Benji Nate
Daygloayhole (volumes 1-3) by Ben Passmore
Emotional Data by Abby Jame
F*ck Off Squad by Nicole Goux and Dave Baker
Girl In The World by Caroline Cash
High and Shy by Abby Jame
How to Make Comic Zines by Ivy Atoms
I Think Our Friend Dan Might be a Dolphin by James the Stanton
Lizard Daddies by Abby Jame
Lorna by Benji Nate
Morsel by James the Stanton
No Better Words by Casey Nowak
No Romance in Hell by Hyena Hell
Our Best Shot by anonymous
Pinky and Pepper Forever by Ivy Atoms
Please Destroy My Enemies by Michael Sweater
Please Destroy The Internet by Michael Sweater
Radlands by Liz Suburbia
Satanic Feminism by Seth Katz
Siren School by Isabella Rotman
Sleepwalking by Lauren Monger
Snowbird by Erin K Wilson
Squatters of Trash Island by James the Stanton
This Must Be The Place: A Please Keep Warm Collection by Michael Sweater
Turnstile Comix #1: The Slow Death by Mitch Clem
Turnstile Comix #2: Lemuria by Mitch Clem
Turnstile Comix #3: World/Inferno Friendship Society, by Mitch Clem
Your Black Friend and Other Strangers by Ben Passmore
You Can Try Again by Oliva Walch
Illustrations: Plague doctor by Travis Rommereim, letter carrier by Ashley Robin Franklin

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The, "Greenlight," Debit Card Has the Same Name as a Deadly Fictional Drug, Green Light

A debit card and a drug with the same name.
Sometimes when you are coming up with the name for your product you should look around online to be sure nobody else has used it in a manner that makes you look bad. The, "Greenlight," debit card which parents can give to their kids to teach them responsible spending, saving, and whatever. Anyone who did a simple web search would see that for a number of years that has been a key plot point on the show, "Black Lightning," where Green Light is the slang term for a Government-created drug which is highly addictive and in people with a meta-gene can unlock their powers (thereby allowing the Government to snatch them up and use them as soldiers against fictional nations with their own meta-humans like Markovia).

This means when I hear, "Greenlight," I don't picture a debit card that is supposed to teach kids to spend money responsibly, I imagine a dangerous drug that kills countless people while giving superpowers to a small number (who then also die if they aren't made stable, another big plot in the show). I know shows on the CW aren't necessarily as well-known as a Marvel superhero movie, but, "Black Lightning," is pretty popular and you would think the folk who came up with the Greenlight debit card could have at least spent 15 minutes double-checking any unfortunate shared name such as Green Light as two words instead of one. It could be worse, but it is kind of awkward.

Monday, March 23, 2020

This Post About Diamond Shutting Down Comic Distribution Morphed Into a Piece About Sadness and Hope

Diamond Comic Distributors is basically the only comic distributor around. There has been plenty of talk before about the problem with this and the direct market itself, but that isn't the focus of this post. Instead, the fact that Diamond is going to be shutting down the distribution of new comics after this week for the foreseeable future is what I'm covering. This means that zero new comics are coming out next week, or the week after, indefinitely.

Comic stores were maybe struggling due to COVID-19 having to rely on curb service or delivery, and so forth, but now they will lack any new items on Wednesday. It'll be all back-issues are relying on people wanting to buy board games or trading card games if they have those as well. This must be terrifying for comic stores and all the local comic shops are in my mind during this trying time as they are wondering how to pay the rent without any foot traffic or even new comics to sell to folk who order those releases every week. Between the lack of sports, comics, restaurants struggling, and the World basically in a mess I just hope everyone is able to weather this okay. The scariest thing is not knowing how long COVID-19 will be here, and that is terrifying.

All of the little things we took for granted are evaporating. Watching a new episode of, "The Bachelor/Bachelorette," due to production shutting down, grabbing some new comics every week to read and enjoy, sitting at a restaurant with our loved ones. Routines have been disrupted and it is incredibly hard. It has made me depressed and my doctor has helped me add on to my medication dosages a good bit due to how depressed and irritable I have been with everything seeming to go wrong in the World. I want people to be okay and instead feel hopeless. I worry about so many people from my family to friends.

I want everyone's health to be fine, I want their businesses to be successful, and we have to stay cooped-up to prevent a very real threat from killing a lot of folk who are susceptible due to age, compromised immune systems, etc. I am very sad, stressed, and anxious. I want to keep my wife and son safe, but I also don't want my son bored with us stuck at home even for safety reasons. It is a tightrope of sorts staying safe but keeping us entertained and busy. I don't want to be crabby at my wife who just wants to be there for me, but I have been snippy because, just look at everything, this stuff is hard. I know things will eventually improve, we just have to be patient and safe. Trying to have people go back to work before things are better is foolish and will kill people. We need to self-isolate, we need to practice social distancing, and we need to be patient.

It is really hard right now for everyone in different ways, but I know patience and hope will help us through this. I just need to remember that when I'm at my saddest. Well, this piece about Diamond delaying the delivery of new comics until things get better really morphed, but I feel better having shared all this, and hope everyone stays safe. We will get through this, it just is going to be hard.

"The Stringbags," is Another Great Garth Ennis Tale of War

If you needed to think of a comic-book writer who probably knows the most about war--its technology, its events, all of that, you would most likely be thinking of Garth Ennis. He's done some solid super-hero comics as well as comics that outright takedown super-heroes, but his passion seems to be in writing comics focused on war. Ennis manages to write tales that are exciting without glorifying combat, and if you needed anyone who makes comics to give the intricate details of the most random battle or weapons used in it, Ennis would be your go-to person. That is why I was excited to receive a preview copy of, "The Stringbags," from Dead Reckoning.

Dead Reckoning is the graphic-novel focused imprint of the Naval Institute Press (a part of the U.S. Naval Institute, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, professional military membership association). The NIP prints books that explore naval and military history in both fictional and nonfiction methods. At the end of, "The Stringbags," Ennis actually breaks-down what was true about his group of British Naval troops who he shares three different stories of in the book, and what was fictionalized. Even if Ennis took a degree of dramatic license with the book, it is still steeped in fact and fascinating details about World War II.
P.J. Holden provides the artwork throughout, "The Stringbags," and while my advance review copy was in both color and black-and-white, the finished product will be full-color. Holden's art is fantastic in color or without it, however, with his highly expressive faces being most impressive to me. You can really feel the emotions of these soldiers from the page thanks to his great mastery of the human body. That isn't to say he lacks skill at drawing warplanes in explosive fights, however, he excels at that too. I just was really struck by how well he drew the humans at the heart of the story.

"The Stringbags," is Garth Ennis doing what he does best--telling in-depth war stories full of historical detail along with some fiction. P.J. Holden provides some fantastic art as well and the whole book is a lovely read. I look forward to its official release which I believe is sometime in May of this year.
5 out of 5 stars.

Note: A copy of, "The Stringbags," was provided for the purposes of review as I am on the press list for Dead Reckoning.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The World's Fattest Parrot is at Least Doing Okay and Serves as a Model for Us Humans

With the planet in a mess, I thought I would share some good news from an article I read. The World's fattest parrot, a flightless species found in New Zealand known as the kākāpō, is doing okay. It was near extinction due to a respiratory disease (aspergillosis) that was quickly spreading among the parrots, but they were able to treat many of those afflicted and isolate others. This weirdly mirrors some of what is going on in the rest of the World, making me feel like I am just like the World's fattest parrot--chunky, flightless, and trying to be mostly isolated to avoid a respiratory illness (COVID-19, in this case). The kākāpō was able to get through a health scare, however, and we as human beings will too.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

This, "Island Companion Planner," is Great for fans of, "Animal Crossing"

Examples of the cover options and the interior pages
The two-person team of Nicholas Grimes and L. Saransalmi recently had a very successful Kickstarter for, "The Island Companion Planner." It is quite careful to never outright state how it can be used with the latest game in the, "Animal Crossing," series, "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," but it says how it is handy if you are going to be living on an island with animals, so take that statement as you will. "The Island Companion Planner," has a calendar and planner as well as pages for plotting-out things like the design of your island, facts about villagers, a way to track fish and bugs you catch, etc. The Kickstarter is done, but folk can follow the news on their mini-site about future editions and there is a temporary website (only until March 26th) where you can buy a physical planner or just digital versions of the pages for planning and noting things about your island.

As I have physical planners I already jot notes and such in, I went for the digital option of tracking pages I can print-out. Having reviewed the pages I am very excited to use them in conjunction with my game as Samii was kind enough to help me with the cost of a Nintendo Switch while we live in pseudo-lockdown due to COVID-19. Yes, I have evolved from once thinking the Switch was lame, to wanting one, to now soon owning a snazzy Lite version. I've grown as a person/I'm a hypocrite depending on how you want to look at it. Judge me all you want, I'll be busy on a magical island full of humanoid animals.

Friday, March 20, 2020

"Grandma's Playroom," Could Use Your Support

One of our favorite places to take Clarkson is Grandma's Playroom. It is a free-play location where you can go with your little ones and let them enjoy all kinds of fun set-ups from toy cars, to a pretend kitchen, things to climb on, and there is a sitting area for parents with coffee, snacks, and soda too. We actually had Clarkson's birthday party there, we love it so much. This is why I was concerned to see with COVID-19 shutting everything down that Grandma's Playroom took the safety precaution of closing and now needs some help being sure there will be enough funds in place to avoid permanently shutting down.

Many stores and restaurants are struggling right now, of course, but Grandma's Playroom has a special place in our heart so if anyone who reads my blog has ever been there with their own kids, or you just understand how great these kinds of play locations are, do please give to their GoFundMe if you are able. That, or simply share it on social media as that always helps!