Monday, September 27, 2021

Read This Oral History of the New 52 For Some Fascinating Insights!

If you are someone who enjoys, "Seeing how the sausage is made," when it comes to comic books, this oral history of the New 52 that Polygon published is a stellar read. They have one anonymous quote and note a number of people contacted didn't want to, "Spill any beans," as it were, but they do get some juicy insights from former DC head honcho Dan Didio (who we may recall was suddenly laid-off from DC in 2020 and has nothing to lose sharing his thoughts), Scott Snyder, Judd Winick, Christy Marx, and more. Didio provides a ton of info and even though his relationship did not end with DC on the best of terms as far as we know he doesn't come off as bitter at all, just a bit melancholic about how the New 52 ended up working out (long story short: it didn't work out well in the long run at all).

I always think of the New 52 as having a ton of potential it didn't quite reach. The article itself points out we all have an, "Underrated New 52 comic," that we feel deserved more attention (for me it is, "Men of War," without a doubt). The New 52 was a cool attempt at doing a brand-new relaunch/reboot and even if DC undid basically everything some years later, I have some fondness for the era. Reading how it came to be and end is a nice treat.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

I Had a Fantastic Time at the ToyMan Show Today!

One of my favorite shows to go to whenever it happens is ToyMan. Run by Chris, "ToyMan," McQuillen, it is always loaded with so many vendors and creators it can make your head spin. I saw a lot of my old friends and met some people who were new to me today. I also found some stupendous comics during my browsing of all the stupendous stuff on sale. 

I kicked off my time at the show talking with Tim of Tim's Toys and Comics, LTD. His knowledge of comics and the great stuff he sells makes him always a delight to interact with. I then chatted with Dustin who had some awesome comics he was kind enough to sell me for a great price:

I then was able to run into a bunch of my friends I always am happy to see. Brian Lan was selling wares, Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles was packing a ton of goodies. I also met The Perler Mom AKA Bethany Leisure. She was making all kinds of awesome creations for sale. 

After a bit, I saw my friend Mark who was attending the show (we actually met at ToyMan before, so I have it to thank for a friend), and we talked for a bit. I walked around some more and ran into Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games who was kind enough to sell me this issue of, "Secret Invasion," the first! Check it out:

I went upstairs where I was able to visit with a bunch of my favorite authors! I saw Jessica Mathews and Jennifer Stolzer, then I ran into Heroes for Kids who were fundraising for their nonprofit with all kinds of awesome stuff.

As I explored the show I ran into my friend Lindsay Hornsby. Blog readers may recall I met her some years ago at the Saint Louis Mini Comic-Con and had the pleasure of reading her, "Princess Pups," comics. I bought a book collecting all her, "Princess Pups," work and was ecstatic to get more great comics from her! Here's a pic:

I proceeded to meet two new folks who were great to talk with. I saw Justin of Justin's 3D Prints. He had all kinds of neat 3D printer items for sale. I introduced myself to Trash Panda Studios and admired their magnets while I heard about their podcast.

"Bug," as he is known was at ToyMan selling comics too and had a flyer with exciting news. He is going to be opening a physical location with comics (new & old), toys, games, and all kinds of collectibles. I can't wait! Here is the flyer:

Before I left a bit later in the day I saw my chum Phil of the Comic Grind bus. He's always a joy to speak with and I would encourage you to book his bus for an event where a vehicle loaded with comics would be enjoyable (so anything)! Clearly, this latest ToyMan was an extra-great show with a ton of my favorite vendors and creators present. I had lovely conversations, got awesome comics, and would encourage anyone who is able to attend the next ToyMan show on November 14th! 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

"Montero," is a Fantastic Debut LP by Lil Nas X

It feels odd to think, "Montero," is the first album from Lil Nas X considering he exploded onto the scene in 2019 (which feels like a decade ago) with, "Old Town Road," and proceeded to have some smaller hits before coming roaring back this year. Thanks to absolute bangers such as, "Montero (Call Me by Your Name)," and, "Industry Baby," Lil Nas X is on all our minds. Those wild tracks make up a banging first half of his LP while the latter half has a much more introspective and at times concerned/sad tone, as other reviewers have observed. Lil Nas X does a bit of a victory lap for all his immense success at first and then gets serious, talking about how hard it was being in the closet for years, what it is like being a black and gay man who is out and unafraid of haters today, it's deep stuff that folk wouldn't necessarily expect from the same guy who made the jokey, "Old Town Road." Note that is it absent from this album.

Besides the stellar lyricism, the album has some great beats and melodies that really dig into your ear--happy or more melancholy. My favorite tracks are tonally polar opposites, the aforementioned, "Industry Baby," and, "Sun Goes Down," where Lil Nas X sings quite well along with his raps. Was I to have a complaint about the LP, it does have some songs that are a bit of a snooze. I've seen praise for, "Scoop," where Lil Nas X and Doja Cat discuss a workout routine, but I found it drab (a surprise as usually Doja Cat brings a lot of energy to a track). "Void," also is the longest song on the album and maybe could have been trimmed down a bit. Still, it's all-around a fantastic LP and seems less like a debut than the work of an artist who has been doing this for years thanks to how self-assured and confident the whole thing feels. Definitely worth a listen.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Marvel is Facing Lot of Copyright Claims Suddenly

Okay, some of this news is relatively fresh and there is a ton of copyright law minutiae to parse through. That said, big stuff is going down when it comes to Marvel's characters and how much of a right Marvel has to say it's their characters. A lot of this kicked off with the estate of Steve Ditko suing for control over the copyright of the first appearance (so basically the bedrock) of Spider-Man. Ditko himself never cared much about the copyright stuff but his estate/family does, much to Marvel's chagrin. Then other heirs to popular characters started suing too as we're in a weird gap period for copyright law that allows challenges every 56 or so years or something. The big thing is if these copyrights belong to creators and Marvel or if it was all work-for-hire and Marvel doesn't share copyright. Whatever the case, as soon as it looks like Marvel has the faintest chance of losing in court they will come to a hefty financial agreement (see the case with the Kirby estate). There is bound to be more as this all develops.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The First Appearance Debate Has Reignited with a Moon Knight Comic

Everyone loves to argue about what is a, "First appearance," in comic books. Some people claim that if a character only pops up briefly, isn't named, is in shadows, or so forth then it is a, "Cameo," appearance. The first full appearance then comes later. People get really heated over this subject. I've seen folks almost come to blows over whether, "Avengers," #195 or #196 is the first true Taskmaster; "Amazing Spider-Man," #299 and #300 with Venom inspires debate too. Oh, and don't get me started on Wolverine and which issue of, "Incredible Hulk," truly counts depending on if you're going more by his first cover on #181 or how he appears in the last panel of #180 and outright says his name. Sometimes a, "First appearance," is a lot less cut-and-dry than you'd think. Now the latest run of, "Moon Knight," has led to debate anew.

In the first issue of, "Moon Knight," he meets a Dr. Badr and we see at the end of the issue Dr. Badr putting on his Hunters Moon mask. He isn't in the full outfit, however. Then, he's on the cover of issue #3 and spends much of that issue (which came out this week) in his full costume fighting Moon Knight. Does this mean #1 is a cameo and #3 is first full? Is #1 a first full and #3 is the first cover? Everyone is debating it online and it has been discussed over at the awesome Comics Heating Up Forums which I would recommend checking out (I'm quite active there, myself). In my own opinion that has no actual foundation besides it, "Feels," right, I'd say Dr. Badr/Hunter's Moon has his first full appearance in issue #1 but then has his first full cover for issue #3. I do not think #1 is a mere cameo as we hear his regular name as well as villainous title, plus we see him with the mask. Observe:

I think that's a pretty established first appearance, but feel free to disagree if you want. Part of the fun is seeing everyone debate!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I Made Another Meme to Get a Song Out of My Head

Readers of the blog may recall when I get alternate lyrics to a song stuck in my head they often remain there, annoying me. This previously happened with a Lizzo song where I turned it into a meme. Well, I'm having the issue again, and talking about it usually helps. It all relates to a new song, "Whole Lotta Money," by Bia.

If you haven't heard, "Whole Lotta Money," you honestly haven't missed much. The lyrics are mediocre and the beat is pretty wack. Don't rush out to listen to it on my account, in other words (if you want to, here's a link, I always got you). One thing about it that has stuck with me, however, is a line in the chorus where Bia brags, "There's a whole lot of money in this motherfucker." Somehow--I have no clue why--I keep thinking, "What if this song were about Winnie the Pooh?" Then, I figure, the line could go, "There's a whole lot of honey in the motherfucker," and it could feature Winnie the Pooh from that meme where he looks dapper and, forget it, I'll just make the meme:

I'm sorry, everyone, I'm clearly not well. I just hope this gets the annoying song out of my head. Seriously, I don't even like it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

It's The Day We All Associate with Earth, Wind, and Fire

It's not an official holiday, but September 21st is basically Earth, Wind, and Fire Day. The song is over 40 years old but, "September," has managed to stay popular. It's been in movies, television shows, played at political conventions, covered constantly, and has essentially become a meme with stuff like Demi Adejuyigbe’s music videos of the song that are always quite quirky. Why today in September, specifically? Well, it's that first line, "Do you remember? That 21st night of September." If you're wondering, they've said there is no specific meaning to that date, it just works great for the song. Now then, in honor of today, here it is:

Happy September 21st, everyone!

Monday, September 20, 2021

IDW Moves Exclusively to Penguin Random House, Diamond Faces Further Trouble

It was massive news when DC essentially made their own comic distributors (now just one, Lunar) and it was also shocking when Marvel signed a deal with Penguin Random House to have their periodicals distributed by the major bookstore entity. Both of these changes were massive hits to the company that was for years basically the sole force when it came to publishing individual issues of comics, Diamond. A longtime holder of a vaguely legal monopoly on comic distribution, the company now can distribute Marvel and such as a wholesaler, (and sells lots of toys and board games) but in regards to comics sits in a precarious position. 

Things just got even worse for Diamond as now IDW--a sizeable publisher--has moved to work exclusively with Penguin Random House come June of 2022. Now, Diamond will just be a wholesaler for them too and it is getting to the point that Image, Dark Horse, and Dynamite are the sole forces keeping Diamond alive as the other smaller indie publishers who work with Diamond are great but don't exactly keep the lights on. Diamond is in a rough spot for sure and probably is going to need to drastically restructure a lot of its business to stay operable/solvent. In the end, if enough comic stores choose to stick with Diamond for ease of use (even if they are a wholesaler as opposed to the main distributor for some publishers) they might weather this storm, but time will tell.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

"Tech Boy," is a Fun Comic by a Young Local Author

A friend and fan of my blog recently told me how they saw in a Facebook group a mother talking about her sons' self-published comic. I love writing about local authors and supporting young creators so I reached out to the family and learned about "Tech Boy," by DeJuan Strickland, or DJ. DJ is a 13-year-old scholar who is born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He enjoys gaming, anime, reading, and indulging in comic books. He is a member of STEMSTL Strategic Youth Advisory Board. He is a long-time honor roll student who thoroughly enjoys science and technology. I was able to interact with him and his mother about his comic and learned how it came about.

DJ first came up with the idea of Tech Boy after watching the movie Black Panther. He went back to his friends house and felt inspired to write his own comic book. He said he felt “seen” after the movie and realized there aren’t many  Black protagonists in books. He included his love for technology after taking a few coding classes at the Microsoft center through the Color Coded Kids program. They taught him coding and he's created a video game before too! "Tech Boy," was self published in April of this year and it became a #1 bestseller in children’s graphic novels section on Amazon.  DJ and his Mom told me the mission for, "Tech Boy," is to inspire other youth to become tech-savvy entrepreneurs.

As for what, "Tech Boy," is about, it features the journey of Tyriq Summerbird, a teenager from Cyber City, MO who gains powers through technology. His newfound adversary, Titan Ray, attempts to demolish the city for unknown reasons. This prompts Tyriq to debut as Tech Boy while attempting to use his powers to stop Titan Ray. Tech Boy strives to encourage youth by showing them the power of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Having read this first issue of, "Tech Boy," I found it very fun! The story has shades of Superman's origin story mixed with more tech-focused heroes such as Green Arrow (with his high-tech gear) or Cyborg (with how his own physical body syncs with technology). There also is some fun mech-fighting as Titan Ray is a massive robot who is trying to wreck the city and I love anything with huge robots or kaiju. At just 13 DJ already has written something impressive and exciting so I look forward to what he makes next!

As I mentioned, DJ is the writer with art by Doneak Pusey and Obbrush. The artwork is solid and portrays the action in the tale quite well. I would encourage everyone to check out the website for, "Tech Boy," or grab themselves a physical/digital copy on Amazon.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Happy Batman Day, Everyone!

I feel like it was not promoted as much this year, but today is Batman day! Comic stores around the World are giving away some free comics and many are doing sales. You can get free digital comics as well. Batman is a really fun character (when written/portrayed well) so cheers to him on his special day!