Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Played "Battlefield: Hardline" for an Hour and it Was Okay/Time for a Cranky Rant

An Overview
I played, "Battlefield: Hardline," for the Playstation 4 recently. Thanks to my local library I am finding it easier to try out games and not feel let down if I find I dislike them (for example, "Bloodborne"). "Battlefield: Hardline," was perfectly okay--it feels like it is just more "Battlefield," so depending on your feelings about the series you mileage with the title may vary.

However, one thing bugged me about the gameplay, something that has bugged me since the 3rd game in the series...

Commence the Ranting!
I may sound like a crotchety old man complaining about how things were better, "Back in my day," but I truly feel a nostalgic yearning for how back in the days of Battlefield 1942 or to a good degree in Battlefield 2 you could just simply play the game with everything unlocked from the start. There weren't all these little perks you could add to your character, gun mods you had to level-up and earn (or pay-to-win and buy), it was just your character, their equipment, and the ubiqutious battlefield.

Nowadays it seems like you either have to pay a bunch of money to unlock the bonus attributes at the start or grind for hours in the game with miserable equipment or abilities until you finally get enough tweaks to your vehicles, guns, etc. that you've got more of a fighting chance. I just don't appreciate the games doing that and it results in a game that is lot more boring with everyone having the slight edge against you and therefore running roughshod over your attempts to play well.

Sigh, I'm not sure if I sound more reasonable or like some old man complaining about stuff nobody else cares about. Whatever the case, those are some thoughts on the game. It isn't an official review so much as some scattered musing...kind of like a stereotypical older guy would do. Hrm.

A Review of "Watusi: The Talking Dog" #30

I first met Dale Martin at the Project: Comic-Con about two years ago. He had a contest which people at the show could enter to get a free copy of the next issue of his all-ages comic, "Watusi: The Talking Dog" when it came out (with this series being different from his free webcomic one). As he was busy doing the free webcomic and other works it took a bit, but now he has finished the 30th issue and also emailed me as I actually won the random name-draw! I gave him my information and informed him I wanted to also review the issue, which he told me sounded great.

The comic arrived a few days later and having now read it I can say it was indeed very enjoyable! I like following Watusi's adventures via his comic on the internet, but having a complete story contained within the issue is always nice. The interesting thing with this issue is that Mr. Martin actually had random people contribute story ideas which results in the plot going in crazy directions at points, but to Martin's credit he makes it work out well--even if he admits in the comic's foreward he was concerned the story gets confusing.
I think Martin is possibly a bit too worried, however, as I was able to follow the plot with all its zany twists and turns quite well. The basic idea is that Watusi meets a movie star known as, "Mr. Gopher," who's theme music makes it apparent he is a humorous reference to the gopher from, "Caddyshack." Watusi then finds himself being sued after actually saving the Gopher's life because if Mr. Gopher is anything, it is rude, unpleasant, and otherwise mean. After that things get crazier with Mr. Gopher's ex-wife breaking him out of prison (when he is thrown in there for contempt of court) in order to pay-up his alimony, a possibly-fraudulent mystic gets involved, someone who looks an awful lot like Bill Murray (and whom is named Murray Williams) appears, with all kinds of funny things occurring before we reach the issue's conclusion.

Dale Martin both writes the story (with some plot contributions from others) and illustrates it, with his art-style being one I like. Its mixture of some character's being more detailed and realistic while others have a more cartoonish look is great. By making his regular human beings look more normal and the animal-creatures silly, Martin creates a cool appearance of general reality and the surreal carefully co-existing in a way the reader will undoubtedly appreciate. Plus, Mr. Gopher just looks snazzy with his sunglasses!
I was pleased that in being an all-ages comic Watusi's adventures are actually fun for all-ages. There is humor kids can enjoy, as well as jokes that are not dirty or raunchy but still easy to appreciate if you're an adult. It's not a, "Kiddie comic," but also could in fact be given to your kids. Were I to have any complaints about the issue it would be that some jokes do admittedly fall a little flat, but enough land that I would say this is a stellar read for you, your kids, or anyone else.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Should you want to learn more about Dale Martin and his small-press company, Smeary Soapbox Press, follow this link.

PDFs of his titles for sale can be found online too with issue #30 in particular being found here for the price of $1.50 should you desire a copy. Physical copies of the comics can be ordered too, with the link above about Smeary Soapbox Press giving the details on that.

Side-Note: A copy of this comic was provided for free due to my winning it in a contest. I chose to review it for fun. Just like to always disclose that sort of stuff about copies for review and such!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Consider Supporting this GoFundMe for Larime Taylor and his Wife's Cancer Treatment

Contribute if You Can

I am a fan of Larime Taylor and his work. A comic-creator who draws via his mouth due to having a disability that results in limited use of his hands, he has created the comic, "A Voice in the Dark," which is a series about a female serial killer that has a superb mixture of dark humor and suspense-thriller aspects. I supported his Kickstarter campaigns for the comic before it was picked-up by Image's Top Cow label and try to follow any updates he puts out about what he has going on in life.

Therefore, I was saddened to hear that his wife Sylv has cancer and despite being able to have the tumor taken out thanks to emergency Medicaid is unable to have insurance of any sort cover chemotherapy due to their having low funds and her citizenship status being a complicated issue (she was born in Canada). Upon seeing he had a GoFundMe going to help cover the costs of her Chemotherapy I contributed and would encourage you to do so also. As someone who just got married to the love of his life (a week ago today!) I wouldn't want anyone to lose the love of their life, especially if via contributions they could have a fighting chance.

To learn more about the challenge facing Mr. Taylor and Sylv, or if you are considering donating money, visit their GoFundMe page here.

Rant-Reviews of Some Notable First Issues Part Two--Smaller Publishers

Smaller-Scale Publishers with New Titles
Besides the comics from the bigger companies I mentioned (in the previous post) there are many other publishers, all varying in size from the much-smaller to the still-pretty-sizable. They all put out new first issues too a good deal of time so why not review some of those?

Big Fun from Smaller Publishers
Left Empty #1
This new release is from smaller-press publisher Birdcage Bottom Books, a company I've discussed a fondness for previously. This first issue of "Left Empty" is written by Alan King and expertly illustrated by J. Vayda. A true story about when King lost his wife, the comic opens in the present as we see him not handling her loss well, either drinking or crying and dealing with nightmares when he sleeps. Things then shift to the past and we see how heart-wrenching it was for King and his love, named Krystal, when what seemed like some simple abdominal pain turned into something much worse.

The reader really feels for King, with Vayda's expressive art making the tears sobbed or worried expressions made especially emotive. It's an incredibly sad first issue and goes from a desperate lonely silence to the actual explanation of what happened. It is a format that works spectacularly well, with the reader wondering why King is so upset before it becomes apparent he has lost someone he loved dearly. This is really affecting and worth reading. I only hope the later issues show King getting a little less miserable, for his own sake.
5 out of 5 stars. Should you want to check out Birdcage Bottom Books their website is here.

Cognetic #1
A spiritual-sequel of sorts to the original creative teams, "Memetic," I have to be honest and say that while this series definitely pulls-off its feelings of dread and fear, the plot itself doesn't grab my attention as the previous series did. This newer series, published by "Boom! Studios" touches on the idea of individuality with a strange bacteria/ghost/entity taking control of people and stealing their individuality to instead become a kind of hive-mind.

It is clever, but "Memetic" with its concept of a killer meme just struck me so much more than this story that so far is reading more as a standard alien-invasion type of sci-fi/horror comic. However, the last page reveal does provide a big enough twist that my interest is piqued, and as I mentioned, the tone is nailed so perfectly that even if some things bug me about this debut issue, I feel I can fairly give it...
2.5 out of 5 stars. If you would like to learn more about Boom! Studios follow this link.

Dead Vengeance #1
Dark Horse has a variety of comics they release, with some being more impressive than others, and sadly "Dead Vengeance" did not impress me much at all. It starts with a strong concept where a dead man wakes up to discover he's been missing for 10 years, but then kind of squanders much more storytelling potential with the rest of the issue being a big info-dump where the main character learns who he is far too easily (he even comments as such) and then finding a friend who fills him (and the reader) in on what occurred. Unfortunately, it seems to have been little more than the usual corrupt-politician-taking-out-a-whistleblower kind of story.

Our protagonist was a radio announcer who found himself murdered by the mayor's cronies (it seems) and now will be out seeking vengeance, it would seem (if the title of the series is any indicator). It is pretty bland and doesn't have any elements that capture my attention or any interest. Were it not for some quite good art this would be a pretty big bust of a comic-purchase for me.
1.5 out of 5 stars. For more information on Dark Horse Comics, go here.

The Steam Man #1
While the previous Dark Horse title was not to my liking, this tale of, "The Steam Man," is quite solid, with writers Mark Allan Miller and Joe R. Lansdale working perfectly with Piotr Kowlaski, an artist who has a variety of works I've loved (the astonishingly odd "Sex", for example). A bit of a mish-mash of ideas from things such as, "The War of the Worlds," plus Steampunk and gigantic-robot cartoons, this strange little sci-fi title does a good job of setting the scene.

What is this, "Scene," that is set, you may ask? Well, it is 1899, martians invaded and lost, but now someone known as, "The Dark Rider," is murdering people and a team who control the gigantic contraption known as the Steam Man obviously plan to take him down. It is a relatively straightforward tale so far but Kowlaski's artwork is always a treat and helps elevate this in quality to being a pleasant...
3.5 out of 5 stars. Again, Dark Horse can be found at this link.

Grumpy Cat #1
It is no secret that my wife and I love Grumpy Cat (also known by her official name, Tardar Sauce, purposely spelled wrong). She is just adorable and even if she isn't truly feeling grumpy she is still a treat to witness. There are some very valid questions about if the real Grumpy Cat is possibly being exploited for her unique face caused by an underbite and feline dwarfism so as to make a ton of cash. However, considering how the personality of cats can range from sociable and enjoying traveling to cranky and wanting to stay housebound, I like to think she enjoys meeting new folk in exotic places. After all, while our cat Ginsburg isn't big on crowds or visitors, the more people we have at the house the better, in Clarence's opinion--he has never met a person he doesn't want to go up to, sniff, and demand to receive a pet from.

The awesomeness of Grumpy Cat established, the question now becomes if her new debut comic published by Dynamite starring her (and brother Pokey!) is any good, right? I would say that with three short stories (and an extra one-pager) that have different writers and artists I was more impressed than not with Grumpy's debut. The first story makes Grumpy come off as a bit meaner than people seem to like thinking she is (after all, it's Grumpy Cat, not Mean Cat), but the 2nd and 3rd stories more than make up for that with their humor and zaniness. The sheer absurdity of seeing Grumpy put on a superhero outfit and try to fight crime in the 3rd story is so well-written and silly that it alone makes the comic worth its price. Overall a highly enjoyable read, I would recommend this to any lovers of Grumpy Cat.
4 out of 5 stars. Should you like to see more of what Dynamite has to offer, go here.

Closing Thoughts
As is evident from my duo of posts, both the bigger publishers and the smaller ones are often coming out with new #1's. Whether these are brand-new ideas, popular super-heroes, tie-ins with actual people (or animals), or something entirely different, it is clear that in the end it all comes down to how entertaining the comics are. I mean, that is pretty obvious, isn't it?

That said, whether a bigger publisher or a smaller one sometimes you publish something stellar and other times you really take a swing in an attempt to knock the ball out of the park, but miss horribly (so to speak). In the end, I'm just happy we have such a variety of publishers always putting out exciting new things, because there will rarely be a week at your local comic shop where they isn't at least one new first issue from somebody. That, I feel, is a great thing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Rant-Reviews of Some Notable First Issues Part One--Marvel and Image

Comics From The Bigger Names 
I have an assortment of rant-reviews I would like to post focused on first issues, and there is an assortment of publishers who have stuff I would like to spotlight. I figured for the first post we could cover the big names of Marvel and Image (I haven't read any new #1 issues from DC in awhile) and what exciting (or disappointing) new stuff they have.

Debuts, Both Exciting and Meh
Doctor Strange #1
This is probably the most cheery or, "Fun," I've seen Doctor Strange as written since the Brian K. Vaughn mini-series that occurred awhile ago and is remembered by most as, "That comic where he hooked-up with the Night Nurse and then Bendis kept that plot point going in his 'New Avengers' comic." At least, that is how the internet seemsto refer to it. Anyways, Jason Aaron is (generally) a great writer and Chris Bachalo is always a great artist (even if the "action" of a scene can be hard to follow at times) so with their powers combined and a dash of humor thrown in we get a "Doctor Strange" comic that maybe, just maybe could have enough appeal to get the general populace interested in the good ol' Sorcerer Supreme.

Honestly, this does read a bit like a, "Doctor Strange for New Readers," primer so that once the new movie comes out and some folk go looking for a comic featuring the character a retailer can hand them this and state, "Here, this is good fun and requires little-to-no previous knowledge of the character." Still, even if it reads that way I can't knock it because it really is so damn good. It's--as I mentioned--fun, there is some good humor, the art is gorgeous, and it sets a up a potential big world-threatening mystery that has me intrigued.

Yeah, it seems like this will be a fun comic to follow and...wait, this is $4.99 for a standard number of pages plus an 8-page back-up? Well, I guess for a debut issue I understand as it seems future ones will be $3.99, but that still isn't really a good way to draw-in new readers with such a steep entry fee. Pricing aside this is easily a great...
4 out of 5 stars.

Paper Girls #1
I mentioned Brian K. Vaughn earlier and here he has a weird mish-mash of a 1980's coming-of-age tale and what looks like a story of an alien invasion until a very futuristic item throws a lot of what we've seen into question (if you don't mind spoilers this article breaks things down well). Cliff Chiang of course was killing it on "Wonder Woman" with Azzarello for their run and he continues to be equally impressive in this first issue as he illustrates the late 1980's with aplomb.

My criticism of this first issue it would be that we really don't get too much background on or development of the main characters--our paper girls--with the issue instead going full-throttle with the plot as things get incredibly crazy at the end. I'm not quite certain what to make of this book yet, but think after the 2nd issue things may be a bit more clear. As for right now though, it is kind of an underwhelming first issue considering how stellar a writer Vaughn is and how amazing the first issues of some of his other works have been.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Astonishing Ant Man #1
It's labeled as a first issue, but has the same creative team as before, picks up all the plot points from the previous comics that happened to be an ongoing and then a one-shot that related to the ongoing.  So yeah, this really isn't a first issue and with the confusing way Marvel has done the series between name changes and such they really seem determined to make this pretty enjoyable series fail miserably through confusing fans. I mean, the comic makes attempts to explain what is going on, but "Secret Wars" and its forced relaunch of all the books clearly messed some titles up dramatically that seem to have not anticipated that occurring.

Those complaints aside, this continues everything that been occurring previously without much of a problem and if you aren't a truly new reader who sees this #1 and figures, "A brand-new series, I'll read that!" you should be okay--I just wish you good luck if this is truly your first Ant-Man comic. The big twist at the end also illustrates that things should be getting quite interesting as we proceed and results in a comic that would be good, but struggles to both attempt to slightly fill-in new readers while keeping the plot going for old ones. In an effort to do it all successfully, it fails at it all. It is a bummer, but hopefully one the second issue will avoid now that the recaps are out of the way.
2 out of 5 stars.

I Hate Fairyland #1
Skottie Young has done so many sweet and kid-friendly comics that this reads as done by someone who is happy to be finally able to cut really loose or who was pretty wild all along but hid it well in his cute licensed titles relating to the "Wizard of Oz" or baby-sized Marvel heroes. Young both writes and illustrates this story about a little girl named Gertrude who finds herself stuck in Fairyland and wants to leave...and then 27 years have passed and she's nearly 40, but still stuck in a kid's body surrounded by cute and happy creatures she despises. This results in all sorts of violence (she literally blows-up a talking moon) drug taking (she ingests the mushroom-heads of sentient soldiers) and swearing ("Fluff," has never sounded so explicit before this).

If one were to try and get all analytical they could almost argue this looks like Skottie Young is making a statement about how he feels in regards to all the cute and sweet stuff he's drawn over the years, with Gertrude existing as a stand-in who tears it all down in a rage of being unable to escape the colorful-and-peppy world. I honestly don't think it is anything that dramatic however; I believe that Young just wanted to take advantage of the fact he can make adorable imagery and then saturate it in blood and general off-the-wall madness. Regardless of his reasons for creating this comic, Young has something hilariously crass in the form of "I Hate Fairyland" and I would recommend giving it a read should you love saccharine-sweet imagery or despise it and want to see it violently destroyed.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Karnak #1
After his short tenure on "Moon Knight" we again have Warren Ellis writing another Marvel hero for what I imagine will only be six or twelve issues (so we should enjoy it while we can). Karnak is of course one of the Inhuman characters and has a long and confusing back-story (much like the Inhumans themselves) so Ellis thankfully breezes over most of that with a quick mention of some assorted information and then gets to the good stuff of us getting to know Karnak through his horrifically cynical attitude and ability to really hurt people.

I can't quite say why, but this almost reads more like the kind of story you would see in an anthology like 2000AD than it does a Marvel title. It has Marvel characters, obviously, but perhaps the mixture of such a dark tone as well as humor and brutal violence mixed with strange sci-fi stuff gives it that feel not too much unlike something you would see in "Judge Dredd". That, or it is the artwork by Gerado Zaffino that causes the comic to read that way. His scratchy and dark-hued style carries with its a European look that probably played the biggest role in my feeling like I was reading something from across the Atlantic (andEllis is of course British, but I've read plenty of his Marvel stuff before and not felt like it was more, "European," than other stuff).

All this talk about "Karnak" feeling different is by no means bad, in fact I mean it as a compliment because my favorite Marvel titles lately seem to be the ones that are more off-kilter or quirky. If this lacked the art it would just be a teeny-tiny bit above average, but thanks to Zaffino's incredible work this is worth...
3.5 out of 5 stars.

From The First to the Last
As is evident, sometimes you'll get a first issue from someone amazing that is merely okay but most likely worth cotinuing to read as great stuff will probably happen in the future ("Paper Girls"). Other times you get first issues that aren't really first issues at all and the book suffers for it ("The Astonishing Ant-Man"), a reintroduction to familiar characters ("Doctor Strange" and "Karnak"), and there are of course brand-new ideas that really knock it out of the park with their debut ("I Hate Fairyland").

The bigger publishers clearly have some interesting stuff, and the next post I have coming-up will cover the publishers who aren't as big as Image or Marvel but still have some intriguing releases.

Monday, October 26, 2015

I Played Bloodborne for 5 Minutes and Hated It AKA "Real Gamers" is a Silly Concept

This isn't a game review, just me observing that certain games clearly are not for me. I played, "Bloodborne," for all of 5 minutes (that's actual playtime, I don't count the cinema scenes) and hated it. It made me think how if I tell certain people this they may say it was just, "Too difficult," for me or that I'm not enough of a, "Hardcore," gamer. The thing is, we like what we like and this whole thing about telling people they aren't, "Real gamers," because they enjoy (or don't enjoy) certain titles is silly. I of course have played and will continue to play plenty of titles for the, "Real gamers," such as, "Metal Gear Solid V," and such, but I'll know it is also perfectly okay to enjoy mobile games, episodic adventure series, and so forth.

Yeah, maybe I should have given the game more of a chance, but I'm old and cranky now and have countless things I could be doing or need to be doing for work, fun, and whatever else, so if a game doesn't grab me right away, I'm gone.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

This Joke About/For the CGC Made Me Laugh a Little

Some time ago Valiant announced they would have variant covers that looked like actual CGC-graded and slabbed comics. It almost looks like a swipe at the CGC but they actually partnered for them. I of course have mixed views on the CGC but it is funny to see some comics give the company a bit of a ribbing. This did make me wonder if when someone tries to get these graded it would cause some confusion, however.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Project: Comic-Con 2015 Reflections Part 2--Some of The Stuff I Got

Such Marvelous Things to Get!
My most recent post was about all the great folk I met at this years Project: Comic-Con, but what about all the awesome stuff I picked-up while attending too? Well, this post is here to show-off a bunch of my swag I got thanks to saving up some funds for the show (always save for conventions, you never know what cool stuff you'll want)! I now present, what I purchased...

Stuff I Bought
I thought it would make sense to begin with the only, "Commission," of sorts I got at the show, a fantastic trading-card sized drawing of Moon Knight that just looks incredible. René Barr was kind enough to create this gorgeous image for me and I thanked her profusely.
I mentioned Lindsay and James Hornsby in the previous post, and this comic about "Princess Pups" as well as the fun stickers and print come from Mrs. Hornsby. I thought it was too adorable to pass-up and am pleased I got it!
Meredith Finch is of course the current writer of "Wonder Woman". I have not read the title under her penmanship but did just pick-up her first arc in trade paperback form thanks to my local library and plan to give it a gander. When I saw this great cover to the first issue she wrote and David Finch drew however I bought it and she was kind enough to sign it with a bright gold pen so that her signature now really pops-out on the black-and-white illustration. Here is a closer-look at her autograph:
I've read mixed things about her time on the title and will probably offer an opinion once I give it a look-over, but regardless of if you are a fan of her or not you gotta admit that looks snazzy!
Staying on the subject of DC-characters and their creative teams, this is of course quite possibly my favorite cover to "Detective Comics" as I discussed waaaaaayy back on my birthday in 2011. Hence, when I saw it being sold at the show signed by both Scott Snyder and the artist, Jock, I grabbed that eagerly after negotiating the price down a bit!
The tin of tea themed with a classy Velociraptor came to me courtesy of Ms. Allison Bannister and her Dino Teas brand. I was lucky enough to purchase the last Earl Grey tin at the show and have enjoyed it a lot!
Llama Land was a comic for sale by Ella Kindt, the child of fellow comic-maker Matt Kindt. As someone who loves Llamas and Alpacas this was an obvious purchase. I have to admit I am quite jealous however as Ms. Kindt is not even a teenager yet and her art is better than anything I could ever make.
Not at all for kids but also quite fun is the "Smut Peddler 2014" trade paperback I purchased. Made by Iron Circus Comics, this anthology of sex-positive comics is a peppy and charming as it is raunchy! The 2016 edition apparently launches soon and I can't wait!
The latest issue of, "Robot Pulp," was a fascinating looking magazine with a mixture of prose and comics that I was pleased to acquire as I love me some robots and pulp yarns.
My wife and I adore Grumpy Cat, so when one of the covers that can be harder to find was for sale at the 'con I got it for her! She was very pleased.
"No Mercy" is a collaborative comic between two great creators, Alex De Campi and Carla Speed McNeil. I was pumped to be able to buy a trade of the first volume and have them sign it!
I also picked up the first collection of McNeil's "Finder" series and am eager to dive-in and give it a read.
The last item I bought with the bit of cash I had left was a Trader paperback for the 4th collection of, "Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose," created by Jim Balent and Holly Golightly, which also includes a cool lithograph signed by Balent himself! I've enjoyed interviewing  the creator-couple for the blog before and they are indeed quite cool folk. "Tarot" is of course a title I have at times been really hard on and at other times quite complimentary to, as overall I enjoy how off-the-wall it is. This 4th collection has a slightly-saucy cover I edited a tad so that you can continue to enjoy my site at work or the library without any eyebrows being raised.

Final Thoughts
This year's Project: Comic-Con was another great show, full of spectacular people and some awesome items. I had such a wonderful time and greatly look forward to the next show!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Project: Comic-Con 2015 Reflections Part 1--Some of The Folk I Met

Yeah, That Was Awesome
Project: Comic-Con wrapped Sunday--and then I was too busy to post about it until today because I just got married! If you follow its twitter feed you saw plenty of tweets I contributed to sending out as the social media coordinator for the show, and the pictures reflect all the cool people I met and the fun I had! By the end of convention my feet were killing me and I felt more exhausted than I had in some time, but I was also incredibly happy as it had been such a fun event!

I met many awesome creators and while I enjoyed speaking with everyone I thought I would describe in further detail the creators I had more in-depth conversations with, picked up cool stuff from (the swag I got will be the subject of the next post) or otherwise have sticking-out in my mind.

Some Delightful People
Trina Robbins (left) and June Brigman (right).
The day before the convention while assisting with set-up I met Alex De Campi and Carla Speed McNeil. It was fun to see both as they of course are collaborators on, "No Mercy," as well as other titles. I greatly enjoyed speaking with them before and during show, picking up a number of comics from them which I am excited to read. During the night before the show I also had a chance to speak with June Brigman and Trina Robbins. Both great creators, June is known for a number of titles including, "Power Pack," and Ms. Robbins was the first female ever to work on "Wonder Woman"  created Vampirella's famous outfit, and has done countless other amazing things. The night before the show I also ran into Jen Blake whom is always hilarious and eager to discuss her work on titles such as, "My Little Pony." Truly a fun night and that was before the show even began!

On the day of the convention before the show began and got busy I was able to chat with C. Spike Trotman and hear about all the awesome things coming out from the comic publisher she founded, Iron Circus Comics. Then, as the show kicked-off I had the opportunity to speak with Meredith Finch and discuss how she has greatly enjoyed writing "Wonder Woman" for DC Comics.

Emily Warren
As the show proceeded I ran into Emily Warren who has a really fun art style and was featured on the local news! I also saw Sara Richard and complimented her work on "Jem" and other titles. I made it a point to say, "Hello," to Kenneth Rocafort because he is always super pleasant and I would consider myself a fan of his art-style. I also met Lindsay and James Hornsby and admired their cool comics about various subjects, picking up one about puppies. At a neighboring table was a man named Tom O'Brien and a lady named Allison with a variety of cool wares too!

The show approached lunchtime on the first day and at that point I had spoken with Matt Kindt and purchased a comic being sold by his daughter who had accompanied him to the convention so she could sell her own title about a llama. I also met René Barr and took advantage of her offer to sketch a trading-card size image of whatever I wanted and requested she make me a Moon Knight (I picked it up on day two and it is gorgeous, as you'll see in my later post).

Some of the folk from the cosplay fashion show!
At this point in the convention I attended the cosplay fashion show and was impressed by all the outfits on display from a wide range of ages and fandoms. It was really cool.

As the afternoon approached I spoke with Jeff Balke, a colorist who does something unique in that you can bring him any sort of sketch and he will hand-color it for you--thereby taking a cool black-and-white image you may have had created and turning it into something even more unique and one-of-a-kind. I also said, "Hi!" to Joëlle Jones and complimented her stellar work on, "Lady Killer." I was excited to hear from her that more stories are on the way! I also went over to the table of, "Rori!" and told her how I enjoy her, "Tiny Pink Robots," comic.

Two awesome prints exclusive to the show!
It was then 5PM and the show as done for the day. I was utterly exhausted and unable to stay for the after-party, instead going home and passing out, waking up to eat a late dinner, and then going back to sleep.

Day 2 began the next morning and I kicked it off saying hello to Rick Burchett again (I had greeted him briefly the day before) and discussing his enjoyment of creating a web comic (that then gets collected in print) in the form of, "Lady Sabre," with writer Greg Rucka. Following chatting with Mr. Burchett I walked over to Jim Mahfood's table and told him how much I had enjoyed the recent, "Miami Vice: Remix," comic that he illustrated and Joe Casey wrote.

Jim Mafood
Then, I browsed around some more and stepped out for lunch. It was pretty tasty but I was annoyed when I asked if the bison burger was cooked separately from the beef as I have an allergy and was told by the server they were, "Basically the same," so I can't just be allergic to just one. My past allergy test results and what happens to my stomach anytime I eat beef would disagree, but whatever. I just got the herb-stuffed chicken instead.

Afternoon arrived and I really enjoyed speaking with Nicole Boose as it is interesting to hear about the craft of comics from an editor's perspective. I also was able to chat with Faith Erin Hicks as the show was winding down and tell her how snazzy her prequel-comic for, "The Last of Us," looked thanks to her fantastic artwork. I also had the chance to greet Lorenzo Lizana and chat about his work with Lion Forge comics (a company which I've discussed on the blog before).

Nicole Boose
Overall, I had quite a stellar time and while I enjoyed this year's Wizard World STL, I really appreciated the comic-focus and more relaxed feel of Project: Comic-Con. At this show it is so much easier to be able to meet and talk with creators as opposed to some of the gigantic conventions where you wait in a long line just to say, "Hello," get an expensive autograph from a movie star, and shuffle along.

Project: Comic-Con was just awesome and I'm so happy I was able to help with the social media, set-up, taking down booths, and otherwise contribute to such a fun time. Keep an eye out for my 2nd post on the convention where I discuss a bunch of the cool things I purchased!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I Got Married Today!

Today I got married to the love of my life, Samii! We decided recently that instead of planning some huge wedding it made more sense to do something small and practical, then do a fun party in the summer. I am so happy! I look forward to spending my life and love with her.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Posts on Project: Comic-Con Are Coming Soon

I have some articles on Project: Comic-Con I am working on. Tomorrow I have some big news that is taking precedence over those posts however, but expect them soon too!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Project: Comic-Con Starts Today!

I'll be busy at Project: Comic-Con today and tomorrow but plan to write about all the fun I had not too long after it is finished. If you happen to be there and see me don't hesitate to say hello and tell me you love (or hate) the blog!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Flashback Friday--Widow Archives Volume 1

Spider + Woman = A Lot of Mayhem
I realized recently I haven't done a, "Flashback Friday" post in awhile, on a comic, game, or anything in particular. I want to rectify this so I have a few posts I'm mulling over to give any readers craving some nostalgia a fix. With that in mind I present the first collection of a comic that originally came out self-published, then was picked-up by Avatar and given some tweaks, before the original creator, Mike Wolfer, went back to spruce it up a bit and release its, "Archives," over 4 volumes.

I'm a fan of Wolfer's work, often discussing his self-publishing ventures and Kickstarters, so when I inquired about purchasing the "Widow Archives" and reviewing them he was more than happy to shoot-over a digital review copy of the 1st volume for me to give a look-over. I'm glad he did because other than some minor annoyances I quite enjoyed this debut of Widow.
The monsters are delightful grotesque,
even if sometimes the art struggles in this early volume.
Let's get the biggest issue out of the way first, the art can be a bit rough in spots. Wolfer has been working at doing comics for decades now and this is from earlier in his career, so even though things are never outright ugly (well, except for the monsters that are supposed to be hideous) things can feel a little scratchier and at times.

Nowadays Wolfer of course makes stellar art and even the later volumes of Widow ramp-up in art quality to his present-day quality, but if you're someone who refuses to read comics that aren't utterly gorgeous you're already missing out on other great stuff with less-than-awesome art and you may struggle to enjoy this first volume when compared to the later ones.
If someone is rich, isolated from society, and has a huge mysterious lab, run!
Putting that aside though, I quite enjoyed the story of this first volume. Two FBI agents end up on a mysterious island after a drug-bust on a boat goes awry and meet a rich and obviously crazy scientist Langford Harrow who takes them in and offers to put them on a ride back to the mainland when a boat of his supplies arrives. Harrow also has a beautiful daughter named Emma with a unique illness that precludes her from living in normal society.

 The allusions to Dr. Moreau are clear and intentional. I would say the two agents/protagonists of the story are distrustful of Harrow from the moment they wake up in his mansion, but if they had been even more paranoid things might have turned out a bit less gruesome (although that would have made for a duller story, so hooray for over-trusting madmen who alter genes)!
The story moves at a good clip with a nice balance of romance (between Emma and an agent named Taggert) and scary imagery (something on the island is murdering people violently). The agents and Emma are well fleshed-out, with Emma especially at first seeming like she is just a boring and horny side-character before as the story goes on we grow to really care about her and have empathy for her plight--seeing as how the later books build-off of the big conclusion of this one, Emma actually has spider-genes and is the main monster causing trouble on the island, sorry if you're mad about spoilers, but the book is named, "Widow," and has her on the cover, so I respect a blog-reader's intelligence enough to figure it out.

All-in-all the first volume of the "Widow Archives" is quite enjoyable and serves as a solid start to the saga of Emma/Widow. As long as readers can look past the sometimes-iffy art in this first volume fun is sure to be had, and I'm excited to further dig-in to the later volumes for sure!
4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

In Case You Forgot, Libraries Are Awesome!

Having Fun Isn't Hard When You Have a Library Card!

You know, we as a populace often don't utilize local resources that are really useful and our tax dollars pay for. Parks serve as one example of that, and another prime one is the local library/libraries within your city or town (I'm addressing my U.S. readers here, but if you are reading this in another country I would imagine you have libraries too). People sometimes joke that libraries are outdated, but they actually are quite useful, with the Saint Louis County Library system serving me quite fantastically.

Imagine you want to read a book (including graphic novels) but not have to buy it, or rent a movie, even a newer video-game. Just continue your imagining and picture a place that has a variety of books to choose from and can get ones they don't have loaned to them, a place that has popular movies you can check out while paying nary a dime, music CDs for listening, and video-games for the newest consoles you can take without worrying about a daily fee as long as you return it on time. Well, quit imagining because I'm obviously talking about the library.
One of my local branches I have visited.
Plus, a library isn't just a useful place to borrow things from, an account through one can often get you access to academic journals and online databases that contain them--a handy tool should you not currently be enrolled in a school that has a subscription to EBSCO or such. Should you lack internet for any reason you can also utilize that at the library too!

I'll be honest and admit that it had been awhile since I'd visited the library when I moved to the Saint Louis Region, and until I officially changed my residency to that of a county resident I would have had to pay a fee to get a library card (a modest fee, but still a fee). Since becoming a resident however I have greatly appreciated the libraries in my region and would imagine that if you don't utilize the library/libraries in your town you'll be as grateful as I am.
Another of the local library branches in the county I've visited.
This almost reads more as a public service announcement than a regular post, but folk close to me have noticed how much more I've been talking about how great the library is since using it a lot recently, so I thought it made sense to give my local library system a, "Shout-out," and suggest that you check your own library/libraries out!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Kickstarter and the Concept of Complimenting Versus Competing with Retail

Ah Yes, Kickstarter
Kickstarter is a fascinating platform that has helped a variety of games, comics, foods, etc. become actual products/events people can enjoy--and these are things which would have not existed without Kickstarter. That said, there are too many occurences of things going wrong, between out-and-out scams and folk protesting how they ran out of money and can't deliver a product that I feel a lot more hesitation these days to use Kickstarter at all. Should someone lay-out why they are using Kickstarter, honestly discuss the potential for problems, give a solid answer on the process of how the product/event will be created, and other things that I feel are reasonable to ask for, then I'll back a project assuming it appeals to me. Some completely unproven company or random person whose Kickstarter seems more disconnected from reality than anything else however? Yeah, I'm gonna skip that (and the stupid, "Joke," Kickstarters lost their appeal long ago, around the whole potato salad nonsense).

Putting aside concerns about questionable Kickstarters let's talk about ones that will be effective--with us focusing on comic ones--and discuss what happens when it comes to the question of a comic-maker complimenting their retail presence as opposed to competing with it. Therefore, you'll get individuals, publishers, etc. who engage in a Kickstarter campaign. There are occasions where I have no problem with this and other times when I honestly get quite agitated. Let's break it down, using fun photos to help illustrate how I would feel in each situation...

Possible Scenarios
In one version of events, you're a single person, or part of a group. You have a comic you really want to get published and you did all the leg-work to get a printer lined-up, you've got a product ready or almost ready and if you can just get funds from people you'll be able to publish your comic. In the process of getting funded or shortly after your project comes out a comic publisher approaches you and states, "Hey, this comic you did here is really impressive, can we print a version?" You of course excitedly state yes and your comic is printed in much bigger quantities with only a few minimal changes (if any). I would state something like this is perfectly alright as you went-in to all this not knowing if you actually would find a big publisher and you thankfully did. I'm not going to hold your success against you.
Irritation Level: None

Let's say you're someone with some experience in the comic business and you have something you want to release to retail but by doing Kickstarter it will help secure you funds to pursue that. You realize you don't want to compete with retail so you keep your Kickstarter items different in unique ways--be it variant covers, special gift items for backers, and so forth. You maybe could have even gone straight to retail in comic-book stores, but this helps you get those extra funds and you're not even competing with retail because what you're doing is geared more towards fans of your work and the items they get via the Kickstarter won't be available at retail. Again, I have no problem with this because you're doing something that maybe was planned from the start to be retail and Kickstarter, but you're keeping them separate in terms of what goes on sale. You're complimenting your retail sales, not competing with them.
Irritation Level: None

Now then, you're a smaller publisher and plan to go to retail but also want to do to Kickstarter to help make your book even more impressive when it comes to printing costs. Thanks to the support of people who Kickstart you a better comic will be made, and the exact same one will go to retail but it'll be even cooler thanks to your Kickstarter supporters and you'll be sure to thank them in the retail copies of the book too--after all, its the exact same product. You would be able to put this comic out in retail stores but maybe it wouldn't be as cool and you really do value your Kickstarter supporters. This gives me some concern because you're already going to retail and basically using Kickstarter as an extra support that will reward folk who just purchase your book in comic shops and whom weren't there from the start. However, if you throw in some cool extras only the Kickstarter backers can get I think everything's pretty square.
Irritation Level: None-to-Minor

You're a bigger publisher who has hit some harder times financially. You have a ton of great books you're willing to give to people with unique extras and are happy from support from anyone who is willing to kick-in funds for you to keep surviving. Their money will guarantee them some books you already have and future ones too. Without this you might struggle to stay afloat and even if its a little embarrassing for someone as big as you to come to the populace with your hat-in-hand it is necessary. Fantagraphics stands as an example of this. It bugs me a little because one would hope if you've been around as long as you have you don't need Kickstarter, but if it turns out you truly do need it, then go ahead and do it. I may be a little irked by the campaign, but I would rather you survive to keep making great books than go under because you had too much pride to ask the fans for help. Just please don't make it a regular thing because then you'll create a perception that you aren't spending your money well.
Do note that if your doctor does this gesture,
you are good and truly screwed.
Irritation Level: Minimal

Again, you're a bigger publisher, but this time your Kickstarter isn't to save the company. No, this is really just a marketing stunt to get people to agree to buy your books in advance. People who support you do get some special neat things, but you honestly don't need this money and you're undoubtedly competing with retail sales. This is what Archie comics did for their relaunch before enough outcry resulted in the whole thing being cancelled and the company getting a lot of egg on their face (metaphorically speaking). I find this pretty annoying and an example of a company just trying to, "Get-in on this Kickstarter trend," without needing it at all.
Irritation Level: Moderate

Okay, you're a decent-sized publisher and you already ran a successful Kickstarter that you probably didn't need to do, but it made you some money anyways. Now you're going to run another Kickstarter for your comics, under-cut slightly what you'll charge at retail, and not give fans anything special--just the exact same thing stores get but for less than the comic will actually cost at retail. Now you're essentially cannibalizing your store profits, drawing in fans who may have gone to the comic shop to get your book that you're already going to take to retail but now offer for a bit less, and otherwise look like a jerk. This is a prime example of something that is just stupid and it isn't surprising the purveyors of the incredibly below-average debut issues of zombie comics that riffed on, "Night of the Living Dead," Double Take, are exercising this very method as we speak.
This image of a woman about to smack someone with a frying pan
is as borderline-sexist as it is an accurate representation of how I feel.
Irritation Level: High

Lastly, let's say you're a huge publisher, something along the lines of Marvel, DC, or Image, and you want to see if a comic idea you have would be sustained by the fan-base and do a Kickstarter for an idea stating the comic will only come into existence if its Kickstarted and no, you know what, this is a terrible idea even in theory. Should the day comes this occurs I will think we've reached some kind of tipping-point for Kickstarter and that something will have to give because things will have gotten just far, far too absurd. I'm not even going to entertain this idea any further, because if it happens...ugh.
Irritation Level: Extreme/Facepalm

In Conclusion
So, to review: If your Kickstarter helps you create something that would otherwise not get made, assists you in making something unique for backers, or will save your company from financial ruin, I think you are doing things that compliment your retail experience as opposed to competing with it. If you're engaging in a simple cash-grab or eating into your own retail sales then you're doing something wrong, and I am perturbed by you. Another person's criteria for what kind of Kickstarters are fine and which are questionable may vary, but I think we can all agree that it is always better to help your retail sales as opposed to harming them.

Project: Comic-Con 2015 is Almost Here!

It's Gonna Be a Great Weekend
As attentive readers will remember, I announced back in June that I'm assisting Project: Comic-Con with their social media. The event is now to occur this weekend and I'm really excited! Happening from 10AM-5PM on Saturday with additional later-activities such as a documentary screening and after-party, as well as on Sunday from 10AM-4PM, this is bound to be a great time! I've been posting creator spotlights on PCC's Facebook and when the event occurs you can expect plenty of tweets.

I will of course have write-ups on my experience at the convention, with past Project: Comic-Con shows always being great and my expecting this one to rock too (hence my being happy to serve in a volunteer position)! There is a great number of guests, and unlike other conventions this one is comic-focused, not so much bringing in random movie or T.V. stars (although I've enjoyed those kinds of conventions too). Also, the price isn't absurd, which is something conventions sometimes seem to suffer from.
I'm super-pumped for this weekend and would encourage you to attend if you live in the area. I've enjoyed many conventions but always have found PCC extra exciting thanks to its being sizable enough to get some great guests, and vendors but not feeling absurdly packed.

Anways, here are some helpful links:

Here is the guest list for Project: Comic-Con, which this year has a lot of great female creators!

You can buy tickets to Project: Comic-Con at this link.

Their Facebook page is here

The official twitter of Project: Comic-Con is at this link, expect it to be very busy this Saturday and Sunday!