Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Let's Skip April Fool's Day Tomorrow

My hatred for April Fool's Day is well known. People intentionally post false stories or made-up claims they think are funny but just upset others (pretending you are pregnant insults those of us who have actually lost a pregnancy). Perhaps if we all just were making little jokes it'd be okay, but April 1st generally just results in hurt feelings. Considering the current state of the World, do we really need to add insult to injury?

I mean, if you turn on the television this all seems like a surreal joke when you witness a reality television star who is our President giving the floor to a man who makes pillows at a COVID-19 Conference so we can be lectured about how we need to turn to our bibles for guidance. Who could make that up? Reality is weird enough that you don't need to be posting nonsense online tomorrow or trying to pull pranks on people you're going to be stuck in quarantine with for a number more weeks--do you really want your only human contact enraged with you? Let's skip April Fool's Day and just have it be regular old April 1st, Google knows it is the best choice to make, you should follow suit too.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

DC Comics is Exploring Other Distributor Models

Things are hazy right now, but it seems that DC Comics is exploring some other possible distributors for their, "Floppies." As has been discussed, Diamond Comics Distributors basically has a monopoly on shipping-out individual comics and has shut down during the pandemic, but other companies do have the rights to ship out graphic novels (trade paperbacks, hardcovers) to bookstores and comic stores that have accounts with those distributors besides Diamond. A number of other distributors seem intrigued at the idea of printing comics for DC to ship to the comic stores they already send graphic novels to (I mean, it is more money, after all), but many comic store retailers are hot-pissed.

Retailers are mad at this idea happening right now for a variety of reasons. One smaller one being that DC may have them having to juggle multi-shipping should others follow-suit (because if other publishers get different distributors there will be shipments from one company for one publisher and a different company for a separate publisher). The bigger concern is that with many comic shops shut-down and unable to even sell comics, it is pretty unfair that some may be able to make bank from people flocking to them for a hot new comic such as, "Batman," #92 with the first cover appearance of Punchline--not to mention the idea of people traveling around during a pandemic to stores in another city or state with less strict lockdown rules sounds like a huge COVID-19 transmission risk.

I imagine things will become a bit clearer (I said it was hazy) as the week proceeds.

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!

GameStop Has Declared They Are Essential As Pharmacies and Grocery Stores

Update: GameStop will at least close stores in California now.

In this time of immense struggle due to COVID-19 where cities and even whole states are shutting down, we can still rely on those essential services and the brave people working at them. You know, grocery stores, pharmacies, and GameStop. Wait, what? Yes, apparently GameStop has declared they are, "Essential Retail," and must stay open even in areas that are utterly locked down except for crucial stores and services. Basically, GameStop has said, "Fuck you," to lockdown orders and has actually made their employees argue with law enforcement, telling them that a store that sells used copies of games is as integral as the place you get your medications.

Look, I love video-games even though I play them a bit less lately due to being busy (but more free time is here now, like it or not everyone in the World). I would not say a GameStop is a key retail store that is helping us survive this pandemic. This thing is unprecedented in our lifetimes and seeing a corporation be so flippant and treat their employees in this terrible manner (because it's the employees who suffer) is abhorrent. Some areas of America are less hard-hit by COVID-19 and it makes some semblance of sense to remain open--albeit with extra caution. However, if you're in a place that says, "Shut it all down!" you need to follow those rules.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"Familiar Face," Is Another Odd Delight from Michael DeForge

One of the best comic creators working today is Micahel DeForge. I think that can be said with minimal argument. Between an art style that can morph from familiar to abstract within the span of a page to his wild and creative ideas for strange Worlds, DeForge is a pro who has almost never failed to entertain me. His latest release, "Familiar Face," is a dark mixture of futuristic concepts like worrying about what a future that is focused on, "Optimization," may bring along with some very human concerns such as love, longing, and loneliness. I loved it.

"Familiar Face," follows an unnamed woman who works at a complaint department in a future where almost all thing are automated and optimized. To make sure everything runs as great as possible the city will morph itself without warning, moving apartments or people. The bodies of everyone can shift when they sleep too, possibly growing a bit taller, gaining some arms or legs, turning into a four-legged animal-ish person, and so forth.
The idea is things are always getting better with this automatic optimization, but it seems like a huge mess. People are allowed to complain, so our unnamed woman reads the complaints. She can't answer them or address them, that is all automatic, she just gets to read them. One day her girlfriend, Jessica, disappears after an optimization update and she is unable to find her anywhere. This results in our unnamed author getting obsessed with figuring out where Jessica could have gone she finds herself willing to join a terrorist cell which causes the city's supposed automatic optimizations to go horribly wrong--although people aren't sure what is a disruptive effort and what is just the city being its usual weird, messy self.

The majority of the comic follows our unnamed woman struggling to come to terms with losing her love in a World that seems more focused on trying to improve while in fact getting worse. It sounds depressing, but with DeForge's unique style of drawing and how colorful and wacky everything looks readers never feel that upset so much as bemused by how bizarre the book is and maybe mildly concerned at how this twisted World could easily be our own before too long. The bits where our unnamed main character reads assorted complaints from random people from years-to-days ago are absolutely hilarious as well, and help break-up the at times the harsh reality of the present she lives in.
"Familiar Face," is another masterpiece from Michael DeForge in his long line of incredible works. It manages to be as funny as it is disconcerting, and even when focused on a World where automation is key it has a lot of humanity too.
5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Free Comic-Book Day is Now Expanded Over a Month/UPDATE: It's Cancelled

Update: Now it is just outright postponed/cancelled. Perhaps for later in the Summer.

Free Comic-Book Day fills comic-book stores with droves of people eager to get special free comics and take advantage of special sales. With the World that way it is currently however due to COVID-19 a large group is pretty unsafe. For that reason, the popular event that usually happens the first Saturday in May will be stretched-out over the month. Stores will get shipments of the free comics in different weeks and can give them out however they like (on certain days, thrown-in with pulls, special internet deals, curbside surprises, whatever). This should help reduce crowds but still get people their free comics in a safer manner.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

We Learn the PlayStation 5 Specs Tomorrow

If you're spending a lot more time at home like many people, you've probably been reading, watching television/movies, writing, and perhaps playing video-games. Well, now you can also get excited for upcoming video-games when Sony unveils the specifications for the PlayStation 5. They may not be revealing too much about what the console itself looks like, but we will have an understanding about what will be, "Under the hood." That'll give us a good idea about just how much of a leap forward in technology it may be. Perhaps we will learn a price too, which it has been reported Sony is struggling to nail down. We'll learn more tomorrow, I suppose.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Television Tuesday, but It's Actually Monday: "Westworld," is Back!

It's been two long years, but, "Westworld," is back with season 3. HBO wants to get us hooked on a show so we pay them a subscription fee, so this weekend was free and allowed us to easily watch the first episode of this new season. From looking at the internet opinions seem quite mixed. I quite liked it, and was surprised how there were some mysteries introduced but the show felt pretty straightforward. I mean, think of how wonky season 2 was and compared it to the lack of much time-jumping shenanigans.

Some people are sad we are more-so out of the park (although there are clear signs we are going to be visiting more, "Worlds," within the park this season), but I think it makes sense to have shifted the focus from Westworld itself to the rest of the World impacted by its existence. Evan Rachel Wood was a lot more of a villain in season 2 but seems to be on more of an anti-hero path now which works nicely, Aaron Paul is a brand-new addition to the cast (and the only human main character now) and does a fantastic job as an ex-soldier named Caleb dealing with bad economic straits and PTSD. We've also got Tessa Thompson although which host is inhabiting her body is yet to be seen.

A number of other fantastic folk have yet to appear (Ed Harris) or only pop-up at the end (hey there, Thandie Newton/Maeve), but I'm sure they will be making an impact. Oh, and I have always been a fan of Jeffery Wright's Bernard Shaw too, and he's up to something. Basically, the cast is awesome and even people who dislike the show agree with that assessment. I think the changes in focus for the show are a natural evolution as simply staying in Westworld forever would have been boring--the show can illustrate how, "Westworld," changed everything without just being Westworld. I think that is the biggest point of disagreement for those who watch the show.

I think there are people who liked it when the show was more self-contained with season 1 and others who think it didn't really take-off until the 2nd season--that's me. It's a damn good show and I'm excited to see where this season goes, maybe I'll have to get the HBO app for some weeks to watch this and some other content while we are all trapped in our homes for the next forseeable weeks due to COVID-19.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Reminder: COVID-19 Most Likely Won't Transfer Via the Mail

COVID-19 is a strand of Coronavirus, and like all viruses it needs a human or animal host to continue living (putting aside how viruses technically aren't, "Alive," as we know it). Should someone infected with COVID-19 cough on a piece of clothing or mail it will die within a handful of hours or even at the perfect temperature and humidity, last 2 days or so at most. Mail goes through harsh temperatures and gets tossed around. It doesn't sit in a comfy room all day. Your mail will not allow COVID-19 to survive, so you don't need to panic about a package sent from a possible COVID-19 hotspot being infectious. Simply put, it is okay to check your mail.

By the time your mail has arrived any germs from its initial location are generally long since dead. Therefore, if you are avoiding going out as much as possible, you can safely have your preferred comic store mail your comics, to give one example. Should you get a package sent overnight delivery and are still worried, you can always let it sit in your garage or such for an extra day, but you really don't need to worry. Instead, focus on washing your hands and engaging in social distancing as much as possible. Out of all the things to worry about, however, your mail is thankfully not one of them.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

C.B. Cebulski Kind of Got Away With Some Big Lies, Didn't He?

Marvel Comics' current editor-in-chief is C.B. Cebulski, a man whose worked I liked and who seemed to be a pretty cool dude up until 2017 when I lost a lot of respect for him. This was because he revealed to get around rules at Marvel about editorial staff writing comics (he wasn't EIC but in another position) he created a fake person named Akira Yoshida. Yoshida had this interesting backstory of being a young Japanese man who learned English from old Marvel comics and brought some diversity to Marvel...except he wasn't real.

He was a white guy pretending to be someone Asian to break the rules. Cebulski came forward about all this when he became Marvel's EIC and the company virulently defended him and we all forgot about it. He basically got away with some big lies, as this new comic from The Nib reminds us all. I guess compared to some controversies in the field of comics this was tame as nobody was getting sexually harassed or assaulted, but the whole thing was awkward, weird, and arguably robbed someone who was real (and could have actually been Asian) of getting work at Marvel because Cebulski was breaking rules. It all worked out fine for Cebulski though, so good for him, I guess.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Peter and Madison Already Broke Up/Just One More Bachelor Update Because I Can't Help Myself

I know this blog is about all of popular culture with a focus on comics and not supposed to be focused upon, "The Bachelor." That said, I can't help myself and just had to share that a mere 2 days after the finale it is official that Peter and Madison have split (if they were even really back together at all). This means it took us longer to witness the finale over two days than the period of time they were together after it ended.

Seriously, they just merrily posted it on their social media. I recently was discussing with my friend Suzanne that at least this season was arguably better than Colton's shitshow. Well, I was wrong. Never-ending jokes about his virginity aside at least he knew exactly what he wanted (to be with Cassie) and they are still together a good deal of time later despite how messy his season was--although Peter's season makes Colton's look peachy-keen.

Film Friday: The, "New Mutants," Movie May Never Be Released at This Rate

A lot of movies have announced they are delaying their releases due to concerns regarding COVID-19. In other words, they don't want a potential lack of movie-goers costing them sales or the people who do go to theaters possibly spreading illness. This makes sense, but one flick which already had been in development limbo for over two years and finally, finally had a release date in sight was impacted. Yes, "New Mutants," is delayed again. We were so close, but nope, it is not coming out in the foreseeable future. Someday you'll make it to theaters, "New Mutants," someday. Maybe.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Mid-March 2020 Links and Such: Pandemic-Light Edition

2020 Has Been Rough so Far
It is about the middle of March in the year 2020 and we officially are living through a pandemic due to COVID-19. The NBA has suspended its season as at least two players test positive for COVID-19, one of America's favorite couples--Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson--are infected, and lots of stuff is shutting down in pockets of America (as other countries like Italy fully lock-down), with it likely things will only get worse before they get better. With that in mind, let's try to cheer-up with some links that mostly do not involve feelings of ominous doom.

News For Your Pleasure
I've written about, "The Great Movie Ride," before, and others remember it as fondly as I do too since its destruction and replacement. God, that ride was fun.

The epic fan-remake of, "Half-Life," using the engine that powered, "Half-Life 2," is finally done after more than a decade of tweaking. I'm happy to hear it is good in most opinions I've found.

Tim Seeley is a great writer and (as I understand it) a really nice guy. Congrats to him for his new gig as the Editor-in-Cheif at, "Heavy Metal," magazine.

I liked, "Doomsday Clock," just fine. TCJ has a deep-dive of a piece that is both baffled and vaguely bemused by the whole series.

With COVID-19 resulting in so many cancelations, it is interesting that as of now the 2020 Olympics in Toyko are still happening with little-to-no-adjustments in terms of attendance rules or such. I guess as it nears we will see what happens (and yes, I said, "Pandemic-Light," in my title, but that means a little pandemic news still).

RockPaperShotgun's list of the 20 best space games is quite solid. I love me some outer space in my games.

Stay Safe

That's all I really have to offer in terms of interesting news or links for now. Stay safe and remember to wash your hands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

This Season of, "The Bachelor," Leaves Behind a Smoldering Crater of Bad Decisions

Last night what feels like the longest season of, "The Bachelor," ended. It was a two-night finale where most of the good stuff was in the 2nd night (obviously) and it basically ended as I described it as being the whole time, "A glorious mess." Peter wanted to be with Madison despite how he and she share almost no political or religious views, everyone warned him about it, she even left the show after realizing how incompatible they were, and Hannah Ann won by default even though Peter didn't love her and he waited until he god-damned proposed to mention that Madison had ditched the scene two days ago.

Then the inevitable happened and we witnessed their break-up a month later which was cringeworthy but brought with it a wonderful moment of catharsis where Hannah Ann absolutely ripped into Peter for how he strung her along and acted like he was in love with two women when in the end it was always Madison (and maybe Hannah B. still, as Hannah Ann mentioned he kept wanting to reach out to her too). Just when it seemed like Peter would be left lonely as he rightfully deserved, the host of the show, Chris Harrison, flew Madison to Los Angeles so she and Peter could have a tear-filled reunion and decide to give being together with another chance against all logic. As Vulture pointed out in its review of the first night, "Very few relationships and marriages have ended because the two people just stopped being in love with each other. It’s money or sex or children or religion or Tonya from accounting. Love doesn’t conquer all. Love conquers, like, 67 percent of things, and that last 33 percent is a beast." Peter and Madison are basically nothing but that other percent.

It was an unholy mess in the last half-hour of the show, as Peter's mom, Barb (who had been scowling in a little on-screen corner box the whole time footage was played of Peter and Madison) made it clear she thought Hannah Ann was the best choice and Peter and Madison were doomed to fail. I'm not sure why Barb hated Madison so much, and while I was watching the show last night Twitter was really against her, but she made some solid points about how beyond some supposed romantic chemistry Peter and Madison had nothing in common.

It was a shitshow of a conclusion, with the AV Club giving it a D in terms of entertainment. I disagree with that as I was entertained, but I also will say I'm glad the next Bachelorette is someone from older seasons (before I even started watching), Clare Crawley, who is 38 and has made it clear she wants people who are actually in their mid-20's or early 30's as opposed to folk barely old enough to drink or know what they want in a relationship. Seriously, I was a much different person in the 2nd half of my 20's than the first half, and extremely different now in my 30's. I think some actually grown-ass folk back on this show will help reduce such wishy-washy bullshit we've seen lately.

Save us from ourselves, Clare.
As the Vulture review of the second part of the finale says (I really love the writing of the reviewer, Ali Barthwell), "...this episode is really a testament to how completely terrible Peter is as a communicator and a partner." Thank God for Barb, who besides the wonderful 20 minutes of Hannah Ann reaming Peter for being a dumbass, helped point out the obvious--e.g. that her own damn son is a moron and she tried, but sorry America, he couldn't stop self-sabotaging. As my title says, this season only leaves behind a smoldering crater of bad decisions.

Nobody comes out of this season looking that great besides maybe Hannah Ann (Twitter really hates Barb now, regardless of how correct she is in all this). All the female contestants hated each other for maybe the first time in the show's history (normally there are some conflicts, but many friendships are formed), Peter made the previously most vilified Bachelor (Arie) look good compared to his choices, and basically, no one thinks Peter and Madison are going to last. I hate this show and I love it so much at the same time, somebody please help me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

"Strange Adventures," #1 Is a Strong and Ominous Start

Tom King is a writer who makes absolute masterpieces and big steaming piles of trash. He is incapable of doing something, "Just fine." It is either phenomenal or awful as Hell. Some of my favorite stuff of his (e.g. the things that aren't bad) are his 12-issue series (not all limited series he does, however, as, "Heroes in Crisis," shows). Give Tom King too many issues and he really trails off (his, "Batman," run he was kicked-off of), give him too few and the story will suffer ("Omega Men," almost didn't get 12 full issues and I just mentioned, "Heroes in Crisis"). That sweet spot of 12 issues has given us, "The Vision," and, "Mister Miracle," however, so when Tom King asks for 12 issues you give the man his damn 12 issues and get out of the way of King and his artistic collaborators. Speaking of art, King reunited with Mitch Gerads and brings in Doc Shaner to tell two sides of the same story. It has only just started, but I'm hooked.

Adam Strange is a human who found himself zapped to the planet of Rann and became a war hero there before returning to Earth. Is he a hero, however, or a war criminal? Could he have committed a recent murder on Earth that looks like it was his Ray gun? This is only the first issue so you know we're only going to get questions and zero answers yet, but that's alright. A first issue is about laying-down the pieces we'll be building off of and setting a tone. Thanks to King, Gerads, and Shaner, that is all done with gusto. Gerards illustrates scenes in the present that are filled with growing dread while the Shaner flashbacks have an almost silver age vibe of over-the-top theatrics (that may very well hide some dark secrets too).

"Strange Adventures," is off to a fantastic start and if I may spoil one little thing at the end of this issue (which solicitations have revealed as well), Mister Terrific will be showing-up too, which makes me happy. I always feel Misster Terrific is annoyingly underused in stories as such a snazzy character. Assuming King, Gerads, and Shaner keep this quality up I think we'll have another magnificent maxi-series to admire when this is all said and done.
5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Missouri's Presidential Primary is Tomorrow

Missouri has its Presidential primary tomorrow. The news seems to not care much, however, with all the focus having been upon Super Tuesday last week and now everyone talking about how important the Michigan primary will be. Generally, when your state is later in the primary season or isn't thought of as a, "Key," State due to the horribly outdated Electoral College, people don't pay it much attention. It is unfortunate, but I hope people still go to the polls as for this Primary it is still pretty close between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

If you're not registered as a Democrat in Missouri the Primary is open so you can actually do a Democratic ballot if you want as any other one is honestly pointless (Trump is going to be the Republican nominee, because that party has long since gone off the deep end of decency or following the law). I hope the turnout is decent and look forward to seeing what role Missouri plays in the nomination. Missouri does get some media focus during the main Presidential election because it can swing between red and blue depending on various factors. Right now we get a bit ignored--what can ya do?

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The March 2020 Toyman Show was Jam-Packed With Greatness!

I attended the second ToyMan Show of 2020 today and acquired a fantastic assortment of goodies from vendors along with having a lovely time chatting with creators and guests! I started off the show at the bottom floor as I like do to, chatting with John of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles before I then said hello to my friend Eric Meyer (of STL Comics) who had some cool Lois Lane comics for sale I bought. I love the zany silver age weirdness you can sense from just the cover alone:
Then, I chatted with Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles, a man who always is a treat to speak with. I continued browsing and picked-up a good assortment of comics from some cool early Red Hulk appearances to some snazzy ashcans and an old Amalgam cross-over comic I liked from when DC and Marvel used to have their properties interact a lot more...

I went upstairs to the, "Artist's Attic," and ran into many of my author friends I always love seeing. Jessica Mathews was telling me about an upcoming children's book I look forward to reading with Clarkson, J.E. Nelson and I talked about how she had been since the release of, "The Power Unleashed,", and Leigh Savage shared about some upcoming works from her too! I complimented Lonnie Johnson of Heroes for Kids for having some great Gambit cosplay and met a creator named Brent Chumley with some incredible artwork he had on playmats and in other formats. It also was great seeing Tom of Alliance Comics, Toys and Games!

The two big-name guests at the show were Scott McAffe, a well-known voice-over artist who was extremely nice, and friend of the blog Bishop Stevens, a highly talented actor who has been quite busy with more and more exciting roles lately! He was kind enough to pose for a photo:
This most recent ToyMan Show was one of my best so far when it came to finding cool comics. A lot of what I bought was much cheaper than what I'd seen online thanks to how the vendors were often eager to make deals or engage in trades. I also was so happy to see my talented author friends, meet exciting new creators, and otherwise had a fantastic time. When I wasn't buying my usual interests I also admired all the other items for sale I know less about but find cool, like Hot Wheels cars, Lego, and much, much more. ToyMan really is a smorgasbord of great stuff. I can't wait for the next show on May 3rd of 2020 and would encourage anyone able to attend it!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Daylight Saving Time Makes Its Unwelcome Arrival Tomorrow

I've talked about how it needs to be abolished and gone-over the one positive about when Daylight Saving Time begins. I have made my feelings abundantly clear about DST multiple times, so today I will simply remind everyone to be sure and set their clocks forward an hour and try to be productive despite how much havoc DST wreaks. Stay safe and attempt to be well-rested, everyone.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Emerald City Comic-Con Postponed

I was just talking about how Emerald City Comic-Con was suffering due to COVID-19 and how it was due to take place in the American city currently hardest-hit by the illness, Seattle. A lot of vendors or artists were pulling-out and many people were going to skip the show. I guess it got to a point where the best decision was to cancel ECCC for now, because it has been postponed until (tentatively) this Summer. Everyone is getting a refund and the expectation/wish is that by the Summer things will be better and not worse regarding COVID-19. This is still really saddening for the number of folk excited to attend the show despite everything going on.

As a response to this delay, many people and companies that had stuff ready to sell at the show are now going to sell wares online it would appear, and I imagine some things like Funko Pop's shared exclusives will be in stores still as those were shipped-out already (like my much-desired Emperor Doom Funko Pop). This is a bummer, but ReedPop (the people behind ECCC) and the city of Seattle decided it was the safest choice. By the Summer maybe the show can be held without so much fear and concern. I honestly hope that will be the case.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

That Skyrizi Song Is Weirdly Catchy

Generally when there is an ad for a new medication the music is either just something peppy in the background or an already well-known song annoyingly tweaked to promote the drug--"Oh, Oh, Oh, Ozempic," can go to Hell. Hence, when I first heard the surprisingly catchy ditty, "Nothing is Everything," in an ad for a new skincare drug known as Skyrizi, I was intrigued to learn it is wholly original for the campaign. Skyrizi is meant to help clear-up skin suffering from plaque psoriasis and therefore that means nothing is on your skin...and that's everything. Here, just listen to the ad:

It is almost too happy, but it just kind of works. It could be a song about a bright and clear day, a song about skin, whatever, and that is why the ditty is effective. It isn't annoyingly specific or a dumb rewrite of a popular song, it's just a fun original jam. In fact, if you read the comments on that YouTube video I linked, most statements come from people remarking how much they are surprised they love the tune. I mean, here I am writing about it, so clearly it struck me. I did a moderate amount of internet-searching but am unable to actually find the name of the band or singer behind, "Nothing is Everything." I wish I knew, because should they have an album with other catchy songs I'd give it a listen for sure.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Emerald City Comic-Con is Suffering Due to COVID-19

There have been concerns that large comic conventions could become a hotbed for the spread of COVID-19 or as it is casually being called, Coronavirus. Meanwhile, a number of cases have occurred in Seattle (including deaths) to the point where people over 60 or with compromised immune systems are being told to stay home as much as possible. These two factors are combining in a tragic manner as Emerald City Comic-Con, arguably the biggest comic convention in Seattle is due to happen soon this March, right as COVID-19 becomes especially troublesome within the city. May vendors have outright said they won't be there out of a concern for safety, from publishers, to indie creators, to grading companies such as CGC.

The company behind ECCC, ReedPOP, is offering refunds to anyone who does not want to attend the show and has said it is working on a way to reimburse vendors who have pulled-out so as to be reasonable. This really sucks for people who rely on conventions such as ECCC to help them get some income via sales of their items (if vendors) or artwork and creations (if writers, artists, and so forth).

There is a list so fans can still support creators and exhibitors who would have otherwise been at the show. With Seattle apparently, "Feeling like a ghost town," I wonder if ECCC may end up completely canceled or just be much, much smaller this year. I also am curious if this will serve as a preamble of sorts to what might happen with other large comic conventions as the year goes on and COVID-19 possibly spreads further throughout the country.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Sympathy for the Speculator?

My friend Tony from Comics Heating Up and I once did an article on each other's websites. I said how once upon a time I viewed comic-book speculation as the Devil before coming-around to a more complex viewpoint. Tony just simply declared himself the Devil in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Comic-book speculation has been around for quite some time. It was (mostly rightfully) blamed for the collapse of the industry in the 1990s that took a long time for publishers to come back from. It didn't go anywhere, but simmered more in the background until recently.

My friend Nick created the Key Collector App and I talked about it in January of 2019 before it really became popular in the Summer. I felt it was a good way to see what in your collection has value, or to find cool stuff when browsing the dollar bins at stores. I've talked to some comic-book stores that think it is a handy way to know what books may become, "Hot," and are worth ordering. I've spoken with other stores that think it is, well, the Devil. One new article worried about the comic-book industry has basically said it is like a poisonous gas.

A lot of focus on speculators and how they are either good for comics or a plague upon it has arisen with the hype lately around someone named Punchline. I made a post about how people were going nuts for her early appearances in assorted comics and that DC had been hyping her up. A man with extensive experience and knowledge in the comic-book industry, retailer and writer Brian Hibbs had some harsh words for people trying to speculate on Punchline or comic-books in general. We are seeing a very apparent line being drawn between those who think comics should just be bought and read for enjoyment and those who see them as a way to make some money. This leads to me and how I've always asked the question, "Can't it be both?"

I will sell items from my collection if they feature a character who has suddenly become popular and will use that money to buy more comics I like. I'll sometimes sell a newer book if I don't want to keep it and it is popular, using that money to (you guessed it), buy more comics. Between flipping some comics and doing a bit of freelance ghostwriting here-and-there it allows my comic hobby to sustain itself without losing money buying the books I love to read. I'm not some super-professional speculator buying tons of copies of a book and raking in cashing flipping them, but some would maybe consider me a small-scale speculator to some degree and unleash their wrath upon me. Others would say what I do is okay because I'm funding my comic-book hobby of buying books I just like reading (and which have no value) via sometimes selling ones that are, "Hot." I'm in a gray zone of sorts, and it is why I don't rush to condemn speculation as some folk do or outright try to argue it is good for the comic-book industry (it can hurt it too).

I'm just here trying to say that speculation isn't outright the Devil, and it can have its uses in this industry. Old books with popular characters are valuable and new books with possibly hot characters have value and may stay pricey or end-up fizzling. Should speculators want to buy a bunch of, "Punchline," and end up eating the cost, that will be that. If comics can innovate and have steady sales with quality content that matches the hype, that's perfectly fine. Should the industry try to simply play into speculators' hands it will be a collapse like we saw in the 90s, possibly a worse one there will be no recovery from. Tony at Comics Heating Up isn't the Devil. Nick with his Key Collector App isn't the Devil. They are people who provide information and the market responds accordingly. I sometimes sell my books for even the smallest of profit and that doesn't make me Devil either, in my opinion.

There are people who are awful out there when it comes to speculation, but you can't lump everyone together. It is a complex machine we are all looking at right now with the comic-book industry and what the future holds for it. Speculation is just one gear of a whole lot of parts, and while one part breaking can damage it all, plenty of other parts are a concern too (I'm looking at you, the horrifically broken Direct Market model). Let's just try to keep this metaphorical contraption well-greased and running efficiently so we can all continue to enjoy our comic-books for the years to come.