Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Television Tuesday: "Bachelor in Paradise," is the Trashy Programming I Crave

I love trashy television. I find it to be a spectacular way to unwind. There is little t.v. as trashy as, "Bachelor in Paradise." If the, "Bachelor/Bachelorette," put on airs about being about people finding true love through a game-show format then, "Bachelor in Paradise," is the franchise when it drops any pretense. "Bachelor in Paradise," is the show going, "Let's just take any single fan-favorites or villains and throw them on a beach with encouragement to go at it," and go it they sure do. 

With the whole stress of impressing just that one bachelor/bachelorette gone anyone can couple up with anyone else (the show did finally have a same-sex romance previously, but generally it's all heterosexual couplings) and this leads to tons of hooking-up and immense conflicts. We get to witness everyone making out with each other and then getting mad about it if someone they like gets pawed at by another person. Even the location where people can have sex has a more blunt name. It isn't a, "Fantasy Suite," it is simply the, "Boom Boom Room." It just is like a comforting blanket of audiovisual junk food as all these people we recall from past seasons (and love or hate) get hot-and-heavy or argue with each other.

A rare moment free of anyone kissing or arguing.

This season has been a lot like past ones minus Chris Harrison (because, yeah). Instead, we've been treated to an assortment of guest hosts. David Spade kicked things off, then Lance Bass showed up, and apparently, Lil' Jon is going to be there too, because why not? Everyone's favorite bartender and Sarah Hyland's husband, Wells, is still there though, making drinks and trying not to crack up at how absurd this whole enterprise is. The absence of Harrison has actually shown how little he mattered to this franchise, the real star has always been the drama.

"Bachelor in Paradise," has lately been on Mondays and Tuesdays this season, so I got to enjoy an episode last night and will be tuning in today too. I watch educational things too, but sometimes you just need to give in to your craving for trashy tv, and boy is this a treat.

Monday, August 30, 2021

This Save a Lot Ad with Rapping is Actually...Really Good?

You know what is often extremely cringey? When big brands try to do something, "Hip," or popular. Sometimes it inadvertently works (see Wendy's Twitter account) but oftentimes the whole endeavor is awful. Having people rapping about a grocery store sounds like it should be atrocious, but against all odds, the rap is straight fire. Yes, Save a Lot made an ad of people rhyming about their grocery stores, and it's somehow good. The song is titled, "Like, A Lot a Lot," and while the whole ad has been chopped into 30-second segments for television the entire thing can be seen online. Observe:

Dear God, that deli lady's dubbed-over speed-rap is loaded with clever bits and I'm still astounded this ad isn't terrible. As I'm always doing way deeper dives into stuff than any human needs to, I read some grocery store business websites (yes, there are entire websites dedicated to the trade practice of grocery stores), and the secret to this ad not sucking is actual talented folks were hired. The music video was shot by veteran director Drew Kirsch, who has a Video Music Award under his belt for directing the video for Taylor Swift's song, "You Need to Calm Down." As for the rapping/singing talent, "The spot features emerging singers like Leon Evans, Sarai, and Tamara Bubble, who also has a song featured on Disney’s, 'Raya and the Last Dragon.'” 

I guess when you hire someone who knows how to shoot a music video and give gigs to folks who actually can craft a verse the result is a shockingly fun and catchy ad. The beat is hot, the rhythmic rapping catches my ear, and as I said, the lyrics are solid. Plus, there is a sense of humor to the ad, a bit of a cheekiness that it's acknowledging how silly this whole endeavor is. A little self-awareness always goes a long way.

A PR website with a big article about the ad (I told you I research random stuff way too much) describes how this advertisement is designed to, "...modernize the brand and deepen its relationships with customers." I assume, "Modernize," is a coded way of saying, "We need more young people to shop here too." I'll be honest, when I saw this ad it occurred to me I hadn't gone to a Save a Lot in a while and did recall some geat deals being there. I maybe need to swing by one sometime. Mission accomplished, Save a Lot, you got me.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Latest ToyMan Show Was a Delight!

I was overjoyed the ToyMan show returned last month, so you know I showed up to the latest show today eager to find more awesome stuff and make some deals. Anytime I go to a ToyMan show I see such a wide variety of stuff it astounds me. Vintage toys, new toys, diecast cars, Funko Pops, Legos, posters, DVDs, and more are always at the show. As a comic person I focus in on the comic dealers, but I'm always intrigued by how much I see. While I was at ToyMan I ran into a lot of my vendor-chums such as Brian Lan, Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles, and I chatted with Tom from Alliance Toys, Comics, and Games. I bought a really crisp copy from one vendor of, "Amazing Spider-Man," #299, which features the first appearance of Venom (yes, some call it cameo, I don't want to get in a big fight about it though). Check it out:

After doing a lot of browsing and chatting with various folks at booths I went upstairs and saw a bunch of awesome people I always enjoy running into. I talked with my friends Jessica Mathews and Jennifer Stolzer, who were telling me about how they were already discussing plans for a new book they'd be collaborating on! I also saw the fantastic folks from Perryville's Heroes for Kids and chatted about how enthusiastic I was for the next upcoming con in 2022 after loving the last one. As I was looking around the show I actually ran into a friend of mine named Mark and we showed each other some of the comics we had brought to the show in hopes of trading/selling. He was kind enough to sell me a copy of, "Wolverine #88, which features the first meeting of Wolverine and Deadpool! Here it is:

There are always so many awesome sellers and creators at ToyMan that it has become one of my favorite shows to visit anytime it is held. The next show will be on September 26th and you can find out everything needed to know about attending via this digital flyer. Should you be in the Saint Louis region around then I'd recommend visiting the show as it is always great.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

VR Maybe Just Isn't Going to Catch On the Way Some People Think

There are cool VR games, I'm sure. They made that, "Half-Life: Alyx," spin-off that exclusively used a VR helmet. That said, there are a variety of VR options out there and none of them have really caught on as a mainstream thing to use with your PC/console/etc. I say all this to make it clear that the shutdown of a Sony studio making VR games is quite sad, but not surprising. I remember some years ago how it was just outright insisted that VR gear was going to be huge. Now, the articles are about why it still isn't the next big thing. The tech keeps significantly advancing and impresses those who try it, but VR struggles to actually be a must-have kind of device as opposed to something we say, "Oh cool, but I don't need one," about.

Limited kinds of VR like with our phones are popular. People love that stuff, just not the geared-up kind. Perhaps there will be something that changes all this and VR will become a massively popular form of technology. Right now, I think it maybe just isn't going to ever be much of a, "Thing," frankly. Feel free to throw this article in my face 5 or so years from now if I'm horrifically incorrect, though.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Time is Almost Up to Back the, "Night of the Living Tapes," on Kickstarter


As someone who loves older horror flicks, I obviously have a soft spot in my heart for the original, "Night of the Living Dead." Many people who are fans of the movie know that it had an error in its copyright that made it unenforceable, so tons of copies were made by various entities, making, "Night of the Living Dead," the most widely distributed film in the history of motion pictures. Hence, "Geoff Turner has meticulously cataloged video box art, promotional materials, and distribution details gathered from collectors around the globe, to assemble, 'Night of the Living Tapes,' the definitive compendium of the home video history of, 'Night of the Living Dead,' as authorized and approved by Image Ten, Inc., the film's creators." The book, "Night of the Living Tapes," looks really cool and you can back it on Kickstarter--but be quick, just over a day is left to do so.

If you back at a higher level you can even get a limited Kickstarter edition VHS of the 4k restored film, produced by the great tape-makers over at Witter entertainment and Broke Horror Fan. I know I want to the book for sure and if I count up my pennies and have enough I may go for the tape. Give the Kickstarter campaign a look and back it if you find it as interesting as I do!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Later August 2021 News, Links, and So Forth

Too Much Heat

It's about the end of August. It is hotter than anyone can believe here in Saint Louis and you should cool down with some nice links. Should you live south of the Equator and be experiencing Winter, than these links also can warm you up. They're multi-use like that.

News You Can (Maybe) Use

I love the whole, "Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise," franchise as it is a trashy delight. I also will readily admit the whole thing is basically one big game as opposed to a pure fairytale. It is a game people can play like a fantasy sport (I do just that with friends). 

A woman named Carly Caramanna spent a day at Universal Studios and Disney World. She came to a clear conclusion about which is worth your money depending on if you're alone or with family. As someone who knows how insane these parks and their hotels can be price-wise, I always enjoy reading about folks finding deals or optimizing what they get for the price.

The COVID-19 pandemic really did kind of ruin a lot of movies for us, as this piece discusses.

BD Wong is a fantastic actor whom I've enjoyed in a variety of movies and shows. This interview he did with the AV Club about his many roles is a great read.

Goedeker's was a small local furniture and appliance brand. It had cute little ads here in Saint Louis. Now it's part of a big online conglomerate. The age of the small locally-owned shop really seems to be fading.

"X-Factor," was a great comic in its latest run. Then it was unceremoniously canceled with issue #10. Writer Leah Williams recently shared how Marvel sprung this on her and she had to really condense a lot of the story and put up with editorial changing things she didn't agree to. It sucks.

The new, "Saints Row," game I discussed possibly being announced soon was indeed revealed. I wonder if you'll be a true villain or more of an anti-hero. Chris McMullen reasonably argues the game was at its most darkly humorous when your character was an utter scumbag.

I am excited that two of my current favorite music artists will be coming out with new albums soon. Kacey Musgraves is releasing, "Star-Crossed," on September 10th and Kendrick Lamar will have news about what he's been working on quite soon if a letter he released publically is any indication.

Finally, something I can't believe needs to be said. People should not be taking a livestock drug intended for deworming in an effort to combat COVID-19. There is zero medical proof it will do anything, and the doses are meant for horses, cows, and such, not humans. Ivermectin is not a COVID-19 drug, stop it.

Soon it shall be September

Soon we'll be in September and the weather should cool down a bit, I'd hope. Let's finish out August with as much energy we can muster as the sunlight pours down upon us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

"Sludgy," #3 is a Hilarious and Strange Comic

I will sometimes get contacted by comic creators who ask if I'd like to check out and possibly review their work. About a week ago that happened when Robb Mirsky reached out to me and inquired if I wanted to look at his site and possibly have a comic mailed to me for the purposes of review. I looked at his work and found it had a style a bit reminiscent of the classic underground comix thanks to the mixture of looking detailed-yet-a-bit-surreal, having a hint of whimsy, and containing a healthy dose of mischievous humor. His stuff looked good, in other words.

Robb sent me a copy of the third issue of, "Sludgy," which says on the cover how it is, "The Cutest Horror Comic You've Ever Seen!" He wrote to not worry that it was the third issue as each one is self-contained. I loved reading the stories in, "Sludgy," as they were hilarious and had a nice dark edge. The introduction of the comic explains that Sludgys are kind beings who are born from toxic waste and like to try and clean up nature, chill with animals, and be friends with humans even if they are literally a humanoid manifestation of toxic waste. Sludgys can't really be hurt, either. 

This leads to a hilarious misunderstanding in the first story within the comic where some mobsters trying to bury a, "Deadbeat," who I assume owed them money find themselves confronted by a friendly Sludgy. They react very violently to no success and it is pretty funny seeing the innocent and well-meaning sludgy be chased after by two pissed-off mafia types. There are other stories too, such as a running gag with a mosquito that ingests the same toxic waste that creates Sludgys getting up to trouble and Sludgys having more misunderstandings with humans, such as the mail truck short pictured above.

There is indeed something innately horrifying about a, "Living," piece of toxic waste trying to help others but just being so literally toxic it results in lots of problems. Robb's fantastic illustration gets across just how gross-yet-cute these Sludgys are and he fulls the comic with a lot of visual gags that work perfectly thanks to his skill at drawing. I'd recommend checking out Robb's work on his website and I rate, "Sludgy," #3 a fantastic...
5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Pumpkin Spice is Back for 2021!

Every year it occurs earlier and people say it is happening too soon. Every year they call me, "Basic," for being excited. Every single year I do not care and just smile at their complaints and insults because I'm happy. Yes, I'm overjoyed that pumpkin spice is back!

Today, Starbucks officially is selling its delicious pumpkin spice latte along with the admittedly mediocre pumpkin cream cold brew. They also are launching an apple crisp macchiato, which sounds intriguing and worth a try. If you're ant-Starbucks but still have a hankering for a pumpkin product there is no need to fret. Dunkin' has its own fall flavors and if you're feeling really frisky then it might interest you to hear Panera temporarily has a cinnamon toast crunch latte inspired by their popular bagel.

Yes, it is still August and so hot outside that more than half the nation is under heat advisories. You know what, though? The Spirit Halloween stores are opening up within the carcasses of shuttered businesses, pumpkin spice is back, and I'm gonna party like it's Fall.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The New Spider-Man Trailer is Leaking Like Nobody's Business--Update: Official Trailer is Out

Update: See? That didn't take long at all! The official trailer is on Youtube in all its high-quality glory. I watched it and found it pretty intriguing!

There has been a huge hunger among fans for more information about the latest Spider-Man movie, "Spider-Man: No Way Home." A lot of hype has built up with little slips from people making it clear we're going to see characters from other Spider-Man movie dimensions. Hence, a very rough recording of what is apparently the legit trailer has leaked and folks are going nuts about it. I won't link to any videos of it because they are taken down as fast as they go up and I don't need Disney and Sony trying to sue my ass. 

The trailer will most likely be officially released soon and be a lot easier to enjoy than via the grainy footage that is out there, so I'd recommend being just a tiny bit more patient and waiting for the official release. I'm waiting, at least, as I have not watched the footage. Then again, I'm not as huge of a Spider-Man fan as other folks and you know if a rough cut of footage from the, "Moon Knight," show leaked I would watch it, so at the end of the day, I'll admit I'm a hypocrite.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

My Review of, "Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat," is now up on Forces of Geek

I wrote another review for my friends at Forces of Geek. It is a stellar new book from a publisher I've reviewed books from on my blog too, Dead Reckoning. The book is, "Four-Fisted Tales: Animals in Combat," and it is written and illustrated by Ben Towle. I found it to be an engaging, informative, and gorgeous book. You can read my review here.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

A New, "Saints Row," Game Announcement is Imminent!

Over the years I have expressed my immense fondness for the, "Saints Row," games. I adored the first one even if it was a bit of Grand Theft Auto clone. I was a big fan of 2 and 3, loving them both pretty equally. The fourth game was solid fun as well, and I honestly did not play the Johnny Gat spin-off but heard good things. Now, there is a teaser hinting at a, "Reboot," of some sort. It seems there will be an official announcement next week during Gamescom's opening night. Gamescom is a big video-game event kind of like Europe's E3. I eagerly await more information on August 25th, when Gamescom kicks off.

Friday, August 20, 2021

That, "Chariot," Comic is a Great Read

I consider friend of the blog Bryan Edward Hill to be a talented guy. He writes good comics ("American Carnage," was one of my favorites of 2019) and is really fun to talk to--as my interview with him shows. One of his latest comics, "Chariot," got some buzz when it was optioned after some issues came out, but movie-stuff aside, it is simply a fantastic comic. Published by AWA, it is written by Hill with art by Priscilla Petraites, "Chariot," is kind of like a sci-fi spy thriller meets, "Knight Rider," if the car were a female and didn't hesitate to kill people (bad guys though, the car isn't just blatantly homicidal).

Hill throws a ton of ideas on the wall in, "Chariot," and they, amazingly enough, all stick. You've got a down-on-his-luck ex-con struggling to get by, sisters dependent upon technology in different ways (one has become the car the other is like an organic-mech hybrid), a sick kid, lots of gunfights and car chases, and despite a lot of this stuff sounding a bit formulaic, Hill brings it all together in a way that feels fresh. It's like he takes a bunch of boilerplate ideas that are uninspired by themselves, but when all smashed together make a delicious stew of weirdness that pleases your palate.

Plenty of praise must be given to Petraites as well. People will tell you that comic-books are difficult to really show car-related action in. She excels at making everything feel like it is truly in motion, however. Plus, with a mix of genres happening she doesn't miss a beat whether it's grounded or surreal imagery. She can draw everything from a dingy junkyard to a sleek and surreal computer-world, and both look awesome. There is no, "Clash," of style, everything just blends perfectly whether it's grimy gunfights or high-tech vehicles darting down roads.

"Chariot," was a five-issue mini-series and it hints that more volumes could be coming in the future. The book wraps-up some plot points but leaves other mysteries dangling in a tantalizing manner. I know after how much I enjoyed this (apparently first) volume of, "Chariot," I would be eager for more. Now we just need to see if the optioned adaptation will be as good as the comic!

5 out of 5 stars (for all five issues overall).

Thursday, August 19, 2021

OnlyFans to Ban the Adult Content That Made it Popular

Update: OnlyFans reversed its plans after an immense outcry.

OnlyFans is known for having people post their nudes as well as engaging in sexual acts with themselves or others. There are safe-for-work accounts that feature people working out while mostly clothed or doing yoga, but the thing that made OnlyFans popular and got it all its money is explicit sexual content/porn. Now, come October, OnlyFans is banning the very content that put it on the map.

I don't have an OnlyFans (people would pay me to put my clothes back on), so I don't have a dog in this fight. However, I observe that it is often sex workers who seem to help platforms become popular before it then turns on them. PayPal/Venmo made a lot of money off sex workers before it moved to try and ban it being used for that. Tumblr banned adult content too after it helped put it on the map. eBay didn't really rely on adult items for its income but didn't hesitate to get rid of them either.  A lot of this relates to financial services being hesitant to handle adult content income due to the stigma and legal complications that accompany sex work. 

You also have bad faith actors claiming this is to prevent trafficking or child porn. Trafficking and child porn are both terrible, but these people almost always want to ban any adult content, for adults, and do it under the guise of, "Protecting kids." These are grow-ass people doing adult things and other adults pay for it, let them. Making it harder for individual sex workers to make an income while pretending you're doing it to protect people is hypocritical and right now the biggest hypocrite is OnlyFans. It needed sex workers to get on the map and now it is throwing them under the bus. 

I have friends (male and female) who have engaged in sex work and they'll tell you these kinds of policies only force this stuff more underground and make it harder for people to engage in any kind of sex work safely. As someone who got an Undergraduate Degree in Health, Media, and Culture then a Graduate Degree in Public Health, I can tell you this deplatforming of sex workers will only hurt adults and not help any actually exploited people. There are other sites people can turn to for a similar, "Sell your nudes," model, but this really screws up a lot of people's incomes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Some Random Newer Songs I've Been Enjoying

I have no specific theme or reason for this post today. I just felt like sharing about some new songs I've liked listening to lately...

A-O-K by Tai Verdes

Tai Verdes' song sounds relentlessly peppy but if you listen to the lyrics there is a  clear melancholy hidden in the joyous tune. I enjoy it.

I Like That by Bazzi

With a slight riff on the classic, "I Like it," by DeBarge, but still standing alone as its own great funky tune, I like, "I Like That," a good deal.

Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran

Is it currently cool or lame to like Ed Sheeran? I honestly don't know. I find his latest tune, "Bad Habits," to be a solid techno tune with a dark edge that sounds unlike anything else Sheeran has really done before.

Rumors by Lizzo and Cardi B

Cardi B's verse is mediocre, but anytime Lizzo features on her newest song, "Rumors," it is a pure delight. She shuts down haters by simply saying, "Yeah, everything you've heard about me is true, and I don't care what you think about that."

Heartbreak Anniversary by Giveon

I've written about enjoying Giveon's music before, and, "Heartbreak Anniversary," is another example of his amazing voice being delectable as he croons over the saddest instrumentals around. Dude sings sad songs well, what can I say?

Chicken Adobo by Guapdad 4000 and !llmind

Something about the beat and some thoughtful lyrics really makes this song with a quirky title stand out to me.

That's it

There you go, some tunes I've been jamming out to. Check them out and let me know what you think, my internet friends!

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Advance Review: "Comrade Kill," is an Over-the-Top Treat!

I mentioned in a previous post how Adhouse books will be closing in the future. However, before they close-up shop they are going to be doing some more releases. "Comrade Kill," is coming out in October and comic shops, as well as bookstores, can get copies preordered now. I had the chance to read an advance copy and I loved how relentlessly absurd, violent, and satirical this treat of a book is!

Written and illustrated by Patrick Sparrow, the titular Comrade Kill is a Soviet superweapon beyond compare. Capable of regeneration thanks to nanorobots as long as he keeps himself fed, it reminds me a bit of the Valiant character, "Bloodshot," but with a much more dark and funny edge. Comrade Kill awakes from cryostasis after many more decades than he would've expected. Now his plans for attacking America are greeted with confused shrugs as well as people pointing out his terroristic plans are now outdated. A chunk of the comic features Comrade Kill stuck in the Nevada desert as he plots all kinds of destructive acts towards America but ends up mostly fighting hideous mutants. Good times all around.

Sparrow's artwork reminds me a lot of the underground stuff from the 1970s and 80s (intentionally nasty and detailed in its excess) if it had a child with Johnny Ryan's comic, "Prison Pit." His style features huge and hideous humans/humanoids fighting each other in increasingly brutal ways whilst jokes are made that vary between cleverly political to just outright gross-out humor; it's a good disgusting-to-clever ratio though, so it works. Sparrow also leaves us on a clear cliffhanger as Comrade Kill's plans to ruin America remain as yet unfulfilled and a possible challenger prepares to enter the fray.

"Comrade Kill," is a funny and clever read with artwork that is impressively grotesque. Whether it is engaging in subtle political commentary or throwing out dick jokes, it is simply fantastic. Patrick Sparrow has created a stellar graphic novel and  I can't wait for another volume in the future if that suspense-filled ending is any indicator of more madness to come! I encourage you to ask your comic shop/bookstore/library to order a copy and once October arrives you'll be able to delve into the hilarity and madness!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 16, 2021

It's Always Confusing When a Radio Station Suddenly Changes

There is a station here in Saint Louis that seems to constantly be changing what it broadcasts. It is 104.9 and it is a mess of a station. It was Majic 104.9 and broadcast R&B, then it was Alt 104.9 and it played alternative rock and had the Woody show in the morning. Back in July of 2020, it changed back into Majic 104.9 but just a bit over a year later it is now, as of today, a conservative talk radio station known as the Patriot

There is little more annoying than getting used to a radio station being one thing and then it changes into something completely different. I like R&B and alternative rock and punk so while it was jarring it kept flip-flopping I was cool with it. Now, there is not even music, just jerks like Jamie Allman (who got fired from another station for making threatening comments to a school shooting survivor), Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity. Yeah, a real bunch of winners there. I know if a station isn't getting enough listeners or having trouble getting sponsors things maybe need to change, but it is always jarring when that happens and I was very confused this morning when I checked what was happening on Majic--excuse me--the Patriot.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Comic-Book Bag and Board Shortage is a Real Pain

Oftentimes people will store their comics in a, "Bag and board." It is a piece of treated cardboard within a plastic sleeve you can slide your comic into. It helps keep it a bit safer than just having your book sitting out in the elements or getting all smooshed up in a box. There are various kinds of bags and boards with some being a bit fancier, but basically, any bag and board is better to have than nothing. Hence, my immense annoyance at how there has been a shortage of bags and boards nationwide.

COVID-19 brought shortages to lots of things. We all remember how every couple of months toilet paper would vanish from the shelves. This lack of bags and boards seemed to creep up slowly, however. It seems with everyone locked up in their homes more it inspired folks to buy a lot of bags and boards so they could put some fresh ones on their comic collections or for all the comics they were buying while at home (as we know, the comic market has gone pretty crazy in 2020 and 2021). As we hit the end of 2020 the manufacturers of bags and boards were announcing big backorders and stores were finding themselves running out of bags and boards to put their comics in. It is the Summer of 2021 and this shortage is only getting worse.

If you really need bags and boards you can find them at a hefty mark-up on sites like eBay or you have to hope that your store will be getting some more in as companies rush to try and fulfill the big orders from comic shops. It is a real pain to be paying out the nose for bags and boards but hopefully, in a few months the supply will catch up with the demand and this will all be resolved.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Free Comic Book Day is Today--Yes, Today!

If you're familiar with Free Comic Book Day you are used to it happening the first Saturday in May. Last year it did not even really happen at all, instead, there were a few free comics every week during the Summer. Well, this year Free Comic Book Day is back, and it is today. Yes, today! August 14th, 2021 is Free Comic Book Day as it was pushed back for 2021 in the hopes COVID-19 rates would look better in the Summer than Spring (the Delta variant and people refusing to get vaccinated kind of threw a wrench in that, but so is life). Go to a local comic shop that is taking part in this awesome day and get some free comics. Maybe buy something too so that you can support your local comic shop too--many are even having sales!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Walmart, Ratio Variants, and Madness

Okay, it has been an odd week when it comes to comic books and that infamous evil empire, Walmart. I'll try and break it down a bit.

Basically, every quarter or so Walmart releases comic packs from DC and Marvel. The Marvel ones usually have a variant cover of a popular comic with the, "Variant," being unique cover artwork or a change in the color of the title's text. There are two other comics in there and they usually are just random filler stuff, sometimes a cool second printing variant of a title, but nothing too wild. That changed with the latest round of packs.

People picking up the latest Walmart comic packs were getting the usual variant you saw on the front of the pack, but then they were pulling ratio variants that were supposed to be very rare. 1:50, 1:100, 1:1000, store exclusives, creator exclusives, things that shouldn't be in these packs. Someone in a factory really messed up. Bleedingcool has given it the somewhat unimaginative name of, "VariantGate," but sure, we can call it that. Is this the fault of Diamond, liquidating old Marvel comics because soon they won't even be dealing in Marvel comics besides as a wholesale option in the near future? Is this Marvel's fault for printing an excess of certain covers to have in place in the case of damages and some boxes of rare ratio variants that were supposed to be put aside got inserted in packs? I don't know who is to blame here, but it is a mess. 

People pay a lot for these supposedly rare ratio variants and suddenly some seem kinda worthless. It shows how the whole, "Ratio variant," market is kind of a scam that could very well lead to the next comic-market implosion like in the 1990s, but I digress. Walmarts have been full with folks trying to get these packs and I will disclose I was able to get some before the news really started trending about these. All my packs lacked anything of note. Considering how rapidly these variants could fall in value if the market floods with them you should flip them if you got them!

Thursday, August 12, 2021

They Made a Target-Themed Monopoly Game and I Already Bought One

My wife, Samii, and I love Target. It's just a great store to get the stuff you need. The stores are generally clean, well organized, and the employees are almost always friendly. Plus, many of the stores have a Starbucks in them if you need some coffee at the start or conclusion of your shopping trip. Monopoly is not my favorite board game as matches can go a bit long. That said, it can be fun to play if you're in the right mood, and themed versions of it are always a hoot. Hence, I am honored to present, "Monopoly Game: Target Edition." Yes, I have already bought one.

You don't buy property, you fill your cart with items. You also collect Target circle tokens and you can get a red card and earn bonus points--just like in real life! Yes, this is a shameless example of corporate synergy and product placement, but I love it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

I've got a Review of, "Crisis Zone," up on Forces of Geek

Readers of the blog are (probably) aware I'm a huge fan of Simon Hanselmann and that I've sometimes written for my friends at Forces of Geek. Well, those two subjects have now collided as I wrote a review of Hanselmann's latest comic, "Crisis Zone," for their website. Hanselmann serialized, "Crisis Zone," on his Instagram during 2020 and this upcoming release collects that with a variety of cool bonus materials. Give my review a read and check out other articles on Forces of Geek too while you're at it!

Wizard Exits the Convention Business

Wizard was a popular comic-book culture magazine. The magazine ended but they did the Wizard World cons that were pretty popular. I attended a number of them in Saint Louis and generally had a good time. It seems Wizard is done with the con biz, however. They have sold the business to competitor Fan Expo. Fan Expo will assume control of all the planned Wizard World cons after Wizard World Chicago in October. The upcoming cons--including one in Saint Louis--will be rebranded as Fan Expos and I guess all the contracts Wizard had with various celebrities and such are gonna transfer to Fan Expo for shows in 2022. I have no clue if this is going to be a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm definitely interested in seeing what a Saint Louis Fan Expo will be like.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tim Drake is Bisexual According to a New Comic

The Batman family has a little LGBTQ+ diversity with Batwoman (Kate Kane) having been introduced 15 years ago (I feel old writing that) and now Tim Drake has been written with a moment where his bisexuality is revealed to readers when he accepts a date with another fellow. This happens in, "Batman: Urban Legends," #6. I think this is good for a few reasons:

1. More diversity is always a great thing.

2. Bisexuality isn't often in media with bi-erasure often occurring.

3. Bisexual individuals in comics (and lots of media) often seem to oddly be villains or anti-heroes, Tim Drake is a full-on hero.

Tim Drake is my second-favorite person to be Robin, with Dick Grayson being the OG, then Drake, then everyone else tied, and Jason Todd dead last (though I've liked him as Red Hood these past years). It is neat we now have another interesting element about him to enjoy reading about!

Monday, August 9, 2021

What is this, "Substack," Comic Creators Are Talking About?

If you like to follow specific comic creators you may have heard about more and more doing something called, "Substack." Scott Snyder revealed he signed a lucrative deal with them, James Tynion IV just announced he'll be leaving his work on titles such as, "Batman," to focus on creator-owned works for various publishers and Substack. Jonathan Hickman is involved. What is Substack, though?

Substack is basically a paid newsletter. It can have essays, articles, and whatever else along with comics. When it first emerged on the scene the focus was as a way for journalists to earn money for their hard work creating informative content, but then Nick Spencer spearheaded a new initiative. He came to Substack with an idea where comic creators will make comics for subscribers and these creators will be paid by Substack while keeping ownership of their work. Creators get a bunch of subscription revenue, Substack takes a small cut, and followers of creators they like get a steady stream of quality comics delivered to their inbox. As Comicsbeat details, there is a mixture of excitement and dread from all this.

An upcoming comic on Substack.

If you like digital comics this is interesting. If you prefer physical comics, it maybe doesn't appeal as much. Should you be a huge fan of a certain creator who is moving towards Substack you might feel tempted to subscribe. This could be the next huge thing or it could implode horrifically. One thing I and others have noticed is that this is mainly people known for writing comics now making the newsletters. They will have various popular artists working on titles with them and those artists will have ownership of the comics, but the, "Name," attracting subscribers is a comic-book writer. One exception to this is Molly Ostertag, but a lot of the folks are primarily writers (yes, Hickman drew some of his earliest work, but he hasn't illustrated many things beyond his interesting infographics for some time).

So, there you go. Substack is a paid newsletter service that has attracted some popular comic-makers with some juicy deals. Now we wait and see if the subscribers will be there to justify all this.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

"Runaways," Cancelled with Issue #38

The latest run of, "Runaways," has been amazing. It was one of my favorite newer comics when it started up in 2017 and it seemed to have the occasional hiatus but would come back. Now I need to say it, 'Had," been amazing because it is canceled with issue #38. This is a massive bummer. It is a surprise series finale and marks the series reaching 100 issues overall when you add up all the minis and ongoing. Rainbow Rowell was an amazing writer and the assorted artists all were solid too. There were rumblings it might be canceled soon, but I didn't know it would be this sudden. Again, a massive bummer.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

"Y: The Last Man," Trailer Thoughts

A friend said they were curious what I thought of the trailer for the new Hulu show, "Y: The Last Man," so I figured I'd share some scattered thoughts. First, here is the trailer:

Now, in handy bullet-point form, my thoughts:

  • I'm honestly amazed this is getting made. "Y: The Last Man," was in development Hell for years. I feel like was going to be a movie, then a show, it kept failing to get off the ground, and finally we actually have something filmed and with a definitive release date (September 13th).
  • The first thing I noticed, that song is perfect for this trailer. James Brown's tune, "This is a Man's World," fits the funny-yet-horrifying theme to a T with its little edits to sound a bit more abrasive and scary. Whoever thought to use that is clever.
  • We have the usual post-apocalypse-trappings with the twist being it is all the cisgender men who died--except one! We've got Yorrick with his monkey, Agent 355, and more familiar characters popping up.
  • I get a mix of, 'The Walking Dead," meets, "I am Legend," vibes from this trailer, and not in a bad way even though I failed to get into, "The Walking Dead," as a comic or television show. Society, as we know it, has ended, but life is trying to continue as best it can.
  • I am curious how closely the show will hew to the comic and if it'll focus more on the mystery of how Yorrick survived or put that on a back-burner and have the plot be more about, "Where do we go from here?"
  • I'm overall optimistic about this show. Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra made a great comic and this adaptation looks like it will--just maybe--live up to the hype of the long, long wait.
Now we just wait for September 13th and then proceed to binge this show or watch an episode a week, I'm not sure which format Hulu is doing for this show.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Film Friday: The Suicide Squad

There is a, "Suicide Squad," movie, but this one basically ignores that besides taking some characters from it and bringing them back. There are other movies with Harley Quinn in them too, but this flick doesn't stress over that too much either. This movie is, "The Suicide Squad," and it isn't perfect, but it is pretty entertaining.

The writer and director of "The Suicide Squad," is James Gunn. He takes some of the charm of his, "Guardians of the Galaxy," films and adds in a ton of gore and gross-out humor. It mostly works. The movie opens in a bombastic and over-the-top manner full of characters who you think will be important unceremoniously dying. As the flick goes on many other members of the team die and others who you think are cannon fodder surprisingly last quite a while. The crazy opening leads to a solid leadup set 3 weeks before everything went FUBAR (the Suicide Squad needs to infiltrate a fictional South American island nation and destroy any trace of a secret program known as, "Project Starfish), and the movie goes along at a good pace before significantly slowing down around the halfway point.

James Gunn wants to tell us all of these characters are pure cannon fodder. He also wants to take some time out an hour or so into the movie to make us care about some of these characters and their sometimes tragic origins. Gunn kind of wants it both ways, and when he isn't sure whether he wants to be cynical and bloody or heart-touching and thoughtful the movie's tone can feel a little like it's giving viewers whiplash. Then everything picks back up in a fantastic final third when the mysterious Project Starfish breaks free and (almost) all is forgiven by us viewers.

I expected, "The Suicide Squad," to be a bit funnier than it was. It has jokes, but many carry such a dark and mean undercurrent you sometimes aren't sure if the punchline has happened yet. Oftentimes it is a movie that goes for the gut in a literal sense where some special effects are stomach-churning. Heads explore or get sliced off, body parts are ripped open by superpowerful creatures, guns leave big gaping wounds you can see through--this is not a movie that takes its gore lightly. Gunn started out with Troma making some really visceral flicks, and he seems to be returning to his roots a little bit here. I didn't mind the bloodshed as someone who has witnessed some grotesque horror or action movies, but those with a queasy stomach may need to look away during the especially nasty fight scenes.

As I mentioned, there is some heart in, "The Suicide Squad," with a handful of characters truly meaning well among their less-heroic peers. Some may find these bits of earnest emotion to give the movie a smidgen of optimism and others may think the sweet bits stick out like a sore thumb amongst the explosions of viscera. I think it all balances out decently in the end to give us a movie that isn't perfect, but good fun.

"The Suicide Squad," is James Gunn being allowed to make a superhero movie with minimal editorial oversight. He told DC/Warner Brothers he wanted to create a specific film and to their credit, they let him make it. Based on how positive early reviews and word-of-mouth has been mixed with an already solid box office intake from the start of the weekend, DC's gamble on Gunn may pay off handsomely. I say to go see it in the theater or stream it on HBO Max.

4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Prepare to Shell Out a Lot of Money for the New Star Wars Hotel

Disney hotels can cost a chunk of money, and then you add the cost of going to the park, food, souvenirs, and you've spent a bundle. That said, Disney parks are admittedly really fun. However, I don't think I'd feel comfortable dropping $6k to stay at the new Star Wars hotel for two days if I have a family of four (at least two people is a, "Cheap," $4,800 or so). It is called the, "Galactic Starcruiser," and it ain't cheap. Why is this so expensive? You get to dress up as a Star Wars character, go on quests at the hotel with staff who are pulling a, "Westworld," and pretending to be a part of the Star Wars universe, and there is themed food, you get to visit the Star Wars area of Disney's Hollywood Studios (or as I always still call it, MGM Studios). Still, six thousand dollars for two days? Also, this is the only Disney World hotel with no pool, in case you wondered.

Why not have a hotel that is a regular Disney hotel--the staff doesn't roleplay or anything--and you pay the usual Disney hotel prices but get some nice Star Wars decor? If you want to shell out another grand for activities, quests, and themed food, go for it. I'm just baffled someone would want to spend this much but I also know there will be a long waitlist because for some people a trip to Disney is the highlight of their year. They eat, sleep, and breathe Disney and/or Star ars. Saving up for this is not a huge deal to those kinds of folks or other people who kinda like Disney and Star Wars but also have a ton of cash to burn. I just hope for $6,000 you get to keep some souvenirs like a space-robe or something.