Sunday, July 21, 2024

Why Are the Nation's Biggest Comic and Card Shows the Same Weekend?

I was looking at the schedule for various conventions and noticed something that stuck me as odd. The biggest comic convention in North America is generally agreed upon as Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con. The biggest card show around is the National Sports Card Convention--which includes lots of non-sport cards too despite the name so it covers a lot of popular culture. In 2024 CCI runs from July 25th-28th with a preview night on the 24th. The NSCC takes place the 24th-28th...also in July. The comic show is in San Diego and the card show is over in Cleaveland, Ohio. How did this happen?

I understand when smaller shows overlap. It isn't a big deal if two smaller comic/card/whatever shows were happening even a state apart, but the massive, famous shows? Why would that happen? Perhaps there isn't a ton of crossover between card collectors and comic-book fans, but there is enough that you'd want to appeal to as many people as possible for a huge convention. This hasn't even been discussed much, although I found a tweet from nine months ago where someone observed the upcoming scheduling conflict. I just hope there is nobody whom absolutely loves both shows and has to struggle to pick one or juggle a bunch of flights to visit both, somehow. I also wish that in the future the biggest shows make more of an effort not to overlap for the sake of everyone attending or writing about the news that comes out of them.

Saturday, July 20, 2024

PSA Plans to Expand into Grading Comic-Books

PSA is extremely well known for its grading of sports cards and non-sport trading cards/game cards too. They are arguably the, "Big dog," of card grading although other companies do it too from Beckett to CGC--although CGC is best known for being the top company in comic-book grading. Well, now CGC has some more competition as PSA plans to get into grading comics in early 2025.

CGC has had a number of professional crises in late 2023/early 2024. It didn't seem to hurt their business too badly as besides CBCS they have little competition when it comes to grading comics (I mean, PGX exists, but nobody uses it). One thing CBCS had over CGC was offering the grading of signatures that were not directly witnessed, but CGC acquired James Spence Authentication and now does that as well. CGC is the reigning champ, but here comes PSA, and one wonders if they could pose a real challenge to CGC's comic-grading supremacy. I see three ways this can shake out:

1. PSA starts grading comics, and takes up a chunk of the market but CGC maintains a, "Majority," of its control. This seems most likely.

2. PSA starts grading comics, it goes horribly and they either quit or keep doing it but having barely any market presence in regards to assign comics grades. This is less likely but possible.

3. PSA makes a huge splash with comic grading and puts CGC on the metaphorical ropes. This is the least likely occurrence but would be the most interesting to witness with CGC having been relatively unbothered by all the fiascos they've been a part of. After all, if you, "Own," the market who care if you have a scandal or two?

Whatever happens during 2025 with comic grading, I am intrigued to see how it all shakes out.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Go to the Heroes for Kids Comic Con in Perryville This Weekend!

We are busy this weekend throwing a birthday party for Gibson (he just turned 1) so I may not be able to get to a fun comic convention, but I would encourage all of you reading to go! It is the Heroes for Kids Comic Con and it is happening in Perryville, Missouri. There will be a bunch of vendors, some cool guests, and it is bound to be a fun time. Should you be able to get out to Perryville tomorrow or Sunday please do go to the show--and then tell me how great it was afterward!

Thursday, July 18, 2024

After All That Merging, Warner Brothers Discovery Might Split Split Itself Up

Warner Brothers Discovery was formed when Warner Brothers bought up Discovery--obviously. The company has slashed and burned everything from a mostly complete, "Batgirl," movie to video-games, and so forth in an effort to save money and not run at a loss. A lot of the, "Thanks," for this goes to David Zaslav and the company still finds itself struggling. The latest idea? Split everything back up because why the Hell not?

As Mary Kate Carr over at the AV Club tells it, "WBD is apparently considering splitting itself up, so that the movie studio and streaming service (Max) would be one company and the linear networks (CNN, TBS, TNT, Discovery Channel, etc.) would be another." Warner Brothers Discovery was recently considering acquiring more stuff with Paramount but now the plan is to do the opposite, it appears. I really feel like WBD is at the point where they spin a wheel with random ideas and do whatever it says. Sometimes the wheel declares, "Shelve a movie," and other times it says, "Reboot the DC Universe." Now it says, "Maybe try splitting up stuff?" Between the aforementioned Paramount having woes (they ended up getting bought by Skydance) and Warner Brothers Discovery struggling, things are rough. Perhaps having a handful of merged megacorporations that try to run everything but fail miserably at it isn't a smart idea after all? Who would've thought an economic dystopia would be bad--besides everyone?

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Chip Zdarsky Published a Comic Newsletter/Mini-Magazine ONLY About His Comics and It's Hilarious

Chip Zdarsky writes (and sometimes draws) damn good comics ranging from funny to surprisingly serious. I say it is startling they are sincere as in his personal life he seems to be a pretty wacky guy. Everyone describes him as pretty chill, funny, and wacky. The guy once was a reporter in Canada, struck up a friendship with the Facebook page of an Applebees and now has done something both hilarious, clever, and self-aware in its vanity. Chip Zdarsky has put out his own version of a comic-book newsletter/zine/whatever that stores get, but it only is about comics he works on. It is, "Zdarsky Comic News." It is completely free to pick up and stores got this batch at no cost. There will be future issues and they'll be cheap for stores to get, apparently. Zdarsky's internet newsletter (so he's got two forms now, basically) discusses how he did it out of a love of comic shops, print, and self-promotion.

I'm all for this as I literally just posted yesterday about how I miss print publications focused on comic-books with things like, "Wizard," gone and, "The Comics Journal," making one huge issue every year or two. A little weird mini-magazine created by Chip Zdarsky is entertaining and I support him doing it. If more creators, publishers, fans, or whatever start making small comic-focused magazines I will support them too. Pick up your copy of ZCN at a local shop just like how I did, there should be some free.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

"American Nature Presents," #1 is a Lovely Blend of Comics and Articles

Floating World Comics is a stellar publisher and I try to read almost anything they release. One new publication is, "American Nature Presents." A nice comic/magazine it only costs $6 but is full of, "All killer, no filler," content. There are some awesome comics by talents such as Joss Pettinger (of, "Tedward," fame) and more. There is a big interview with various folks from the comic-book biz, articles exploring everything from anime to back in the day when we had Winamp skins (ask someone born in the 1900s), and it is just an incredibly fun read--and positively a steal at six bucks. There are reviews, a fun classified section, and just lots of cool stuff.

As someone who loves print magazines and sometimes is sad they aren't nearly as popular as back in the day, having something such as, "American Nature Presents," is wonderful. We just don't really have magazine publications anymore focused on discussing comics besides how once every year or so, "The Comics Journal," does a mega-tome. Something that mixes journalism with some comics is fun and nowadays quite rare. I'd highly recommend buying a copy of, "American Nature Presents," #1, and I hope that a bunch more issues get made!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 15, 2024

The ToyMan Show Yesterday Was a Hoot!

Yesterday, July 14th, I had the chance to attend the latest ToyMan Show. It was great fun, as always, and so many cool vendors and creators were there. There was the usual assortment of vintage toys, comics, Funko Pops, Lego, Barbie, Hot Wheels, VHS tapes, original art, and more. I started the show by visiting with my friend, Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. I then chatted with Joh from the awesome store Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles. Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics was selling great books, as was my chum Tim Metzger. I picked up some cool comics for cheap from my friends Dustin and Tammy too:

I also enjoyed catching up with Bruce Reynolds and Vince of VK Toys on the main show floor while shopping. Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, & Games was at ToyMan too! Here is a cool picture of the show floor from the morning while things were being set up:

In the upstairs area, I had fun talking with my friend Jack AKA Storyboardlad who had his usual cool art prints for sale. I also saw my buddies who are authors, Jessica Mathews and Lindsay Hornsby. Lindsay had an awesome new coloring book I bought for Clarkson to enjoy of the Princess Pups:

This ToyMan show was incredibly fun just like every ToyMan show is. I always get so excited anytime its the day for ToyMan and now eagerly await August 25th for the next one!

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Somebody Tried to Assassinate Trump/What a Mess America is

Today a bullet grazed the ear of former President Trump while he spoke at one of his campaign rallies. A chunk of the internet is already claiming it was somehow staged and another segment of folks are declaring it must be some kind of secret liberal elite plot with high-up Democrats trying to, "Get," Trump. I also saw a meme saying that Hunter Biden is involved somehow because this World is a mess, and we don't live in a true reality so much as everyone has their own pocket reality. What we do know is that in the late afternoon/early evening, someone apparently tried to shoot Donald Trump and a bullet grazed his ear. The shooter is dead as well as a bystander, from early reports. Others are critically injured.

I honestly don't think this was staged because in this day and age how could anyone keep something so big a secret? I also don't think that Joe Biden or other powerful Democrats are somehow using a deep state or something silly. I am pretty sure that before long we will find out someone who was mentally unwell and shouldn't have been able to access a firearm got their hands on a gun and wanted to kill Donald Trump. Whether they were a liberal, some kind of conservative mad at Trump for not being right-wing enough in their mind, or not even political and instead suffering from some kind of delusions unrelated to politics will undoubtedly be revealed. I am almost positive it will be some lone person who was--as we basically define it--crazy.

I don't ever want violence in politics. Whether we agree with or hate a candidate we shouldn't wish them dead. I dislike seeing all the jokes about this from those with left or right political leanings. Everyone seems to have an agenda about what happened today and is writing their own narrative before we know anything about the gunman, even if I'm doing that to some degree assuming it will be some mentally disturbed person. This was a bad day in our Nation and something is wrong in America. What exactly that is I wish I could say, then we could try and fix it. For now though, here we are. One Nation, Under Chaos.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Film Friday: "Captain America: Brave New World," Has a Teaser Trailer

"Captain America: Brave New World," isn't due for release until early February of 2025, but is close enough that the first teaser trailer just dropped. Rumor has it the movie went through extensive reshoots and cost a pretty penny, but things look pretty snazzy based on the trailer alone, I'd say.

I see we've got Harrison Ford as President, "Thunderbolt," Ross, replacing William Hurt due to his passing in real life, Tim Blake Nelson is back after not appearing since, "Incredible Hulk," way back in 2008, and Giancarlo Esposito is a mysterious baddie that people think could be a dude named George Washington Bridge or Moon Knight's foe, Bushman. The main plot seems to be that Ross can't trust anyone outside of Anthony Mackie's Captain America due to a lot of people being after him. There the trailer has a big spy-thriller vibe and I've seen some folk online dig it and others think it looks mediocre. Some people have expressed concerns about an Israeli character as well due to recent World events between Israel and Palestine, but how big a role that character plays remains to be seen. Give the trailer a view here:

Did you notice that cool thing at the end? Yep, we've got a Red Hulk, one assumes played by Harrison Ford because Ross is, of course, the Red Hulk in the comics. "Deadpool and Wolverine," comes out this July and will arguably tee up the rest of the Marvel slate for the foreseeable future, so assuming that is a hit and then this is as snazzy as it may look perhaps Marvel will be back on track after some recent box-office struggles.

Happy First Birthday to Gibson!

Exactly a year ago today--very early in the morning--our baby Gibson was born! It is wild to think that Gibson is now a big one-year-old. He is a sweet and smart little guy who wants to crawl everywhere and eat anything tasty he sees. He loves to try and climb all over his big brother, Clarkson, too. Clarkson is generally patient with Gibby. We love our boys so much and are thankful to have Gibson as a wonderful addition to the family. Happy Birthday to our lovely boy!

Thursday, July 11, 2024

BOOM! Studios Bought by Penguin Random House

I've been a fan of BOOM! Studios since the company's early days. One fun fact is there were the first, "Bigger," publishers to be willing to put my blog on their press list years ago for news updates and such. That was a mini-honor for me to feel recognized in that way. Well, it seems the people behind BOOM! Studios have decided to sell, with the company now bought by Penguin Random House. PRH is known for publishing a lot of books and being the main distributor for Marvel Comics. BOOM! will become part of the Random House Worlds portfolio of imprints alongside Del Rey, Inklore, and the RH Worlds licensing program and weirdly enough will still be distributed by Diamond (for now) due to previous deals, I surmise.

This makes me concerned because too often a smaller company is acquired by a larger one only to lose whatever made it special--or eventually closed/taken apart. Think about all the game studios that get bought up and then stripped for parts by larger companies. Consider how Amazon bought Comixology and eventually destroyed it. I have a desire for PRH to do right by BOOM! Studios, but I worry. There will obviously be a chunk of layoffs during this acquisition AKA "Redunacies," but let's hope things stay (mostly) stable.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

More Information is Leaking About DC's New, "Absolute," Line of Comics

DC is going to be launching a new Ultimate Universe-style line of comics called, "Absolute." That was rumored a while ago but there is now concrete proof in the form of an, "Absolute Batman," ashcan due to release at the upcoming Comic-Con International AKA San Diego Comic-Con. This new Absolute Universe will run concurrently with the standard DC Universe and they will somehow connect/acknowledge each other via, "DC All-In," which is the term for the new publishing initiative of the standard DC Universe and the Absolute version--two narrative strands that will intertwine in some fashion, I suppose?

The latest Ultimate Universe that Marvel is doing have been a lovely surprise of great stories so if DC wants to experiment a bit without going too far (the New 52 was a lot, after all), I'm all for it. The biggest mystery as of now is how everything will connect. I imagine CCI/SDCC will answer many questions, so I look forward to late July!

The Kickstarter Campaign has Launched for, "Widow Unleashed," #11 and #12

Are you fan of comics full of action, horror elements, and a good dose of eroticism too? Well, then you should back the epic collection of, "Widow," comics that creator Mike Wolfer has been doing lately via Kickstarter. He is the writer and artist with Natalie Jane as the letterer. These new editions are known as, "Widow: Unleashed," collecting material from various iterations of the comic while also tweaking storytelling and art to give everything an extra nice metaphorical sheen. The newest campaign is for issues #11 and #12.

All the original, "Widow," stuff is reproduced and fixed up as well as the more explicit segments from the, "Widow X," version of the comic that were published at one point being incorporated as well--this isn't a simple adult/porny comic or such, with tons of story, awesome art, and more. I've been a fan of Wolfer's work for years and he's a friend of the blog so I always like to promote his Kickstarter campaigns here and back them--that's right, I always put my money where my mouth is with Wolfer's great comics! You can back the new Kickstarter campaign for issues #11 and #12 here with it easy to get the earlier issues as well so don't ever think it is too late to check out this awesome series!

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Television Tuesday: People Are Alarmingly Good at Lying on, "The Mole," Season 2

I watched a chunk of the first and second episodes of the debut season of, "The Mole," when people online recommended the show. I didn't really like it. However, when season 2 dropped I wanted to give it a chance. I am digging the program now thanks to the cast/contestants all being quite interesting. One thing is scary though--how good some people are at lying. You see, on the show, "The Mole," everyone is competing to win money and succeed in challenges, except for one player. Someone who is the titular Mole is trying to make sure everyone fails, loses money, and so forth. We as the viewers do not know who the Mole is until the finale (so this isn't like, "The Traitors," where we know who the, "Good," and, "Evil," players are). It makes things fun as we debate with loved ones, friends, or strangers online who the Mole could be. That's only part of it though.

Some challenges require everyone to attempt to lie. Even if you're not the Mole you need to concoct big fibs and say them to other players' faces about whether you have money or exemptions (so you can't get kicked out of the show). I am astounded how good a lot of the players are at lying and it makes me uneasy. Like, if you can that easily lie in a prisoner's dilemma type game when it comes to money versus exemptions or can tell someone to their face you voted for them to stay when the opposite is true in the hopes it messes up their count of how people must be easy to lie about other stuff too in theory.

Not just the Mole lies...

The Mole is supposed to lie and be damn good at it because they were chosen specifically to be the Mole. When everyone is able to lie through their teeth in certain situations and be alarmingly good at it, however, that just is stressful and causes me to wonder how often we as humans lie without hesitation to others about things we should just be honest about. It is scary, and when, "The Mole," airs the final two episodes of this season on Friday (on Netflix) I'm wondering just how deep it will be revealed the rabbit hole (or Mole hole) goes in regards to lying. I have a terrible, "Poker face," and would fail spectacularly on shows such as, "The Mole," even if I happened to just be a regular player who needs to lie some. It is impressive and eerie how good some of ya'll out there are at lying, however.

Television Tuesday: "Agatha All Along," is Coming This Halloween and Looks Fun

Disney/Marvel has been slowing down the release of movies and Disney+ television shows, but one that has still been in the works is a program focused on Agatha Harkness. It went through a few names before finally settling on/being revealed as, "Agatha All Along." The teaser trailer dropped yesterday with it being promoted as a spooky Halloween season release. Give it a look:

I'm into it if for no other reason than I am always down for more Kathryn Hahn in the Marvel Universe and Aubrey Plaza is making her MCU debut here too ("Legion," was a whole different continuity). The last time we saw Agatha she was the main villain of, "Wandavision," depending on how much of a baddie you feel Wanda herself was in that show (before totally going full-monster in the last Doctor Strange flick). This looks to be exploring the more fantastical and scary side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if it is even half as enjoyable as the, "Werewolf by Night," special I'd imagine it shall be fun.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Music Mondays: Some Random Songs I've Been Listening To

I don't have an assortment of music news to share today. I just felt like sharing some random songs I found via my searches/recommendations from Spotify/Bandcamp/etc. and have been enjoying listening to as of late. You may like them too, and if you do then you're welcome. If you hate them...I'm sorry? Now, in no particular order...

"Suede" by Anderson .Paak, Knxwledge, and NxWorries

Anderson .Paak has such a smooth voice that he can make anything sound catchy, even if its just some lyrics about how he likes a lady who can cook grits and roll a spliff at the same time.

"Stella Brown," by Jelani Aryeh
The weird lo-fi sound in this song should be annoying but compliments the lyrics of being too shy to talk to a lady quite wonderfully.

"Bad Texter," by Ryan Woods
I relate to being bad at responding to texts and the lush electronic sounds of the song are quite pleasing.

"Frankenstein," by Claire Rosinkranz
There is a nice light and flowy feel to this ditty, so I'm into it.

"Photo ID," by Remi Wolf with Dominic Fike & "Vampire," by Dominic Fike
I am not especially familiar with this Dominic Fike fellow, but I've been really digging a number of songs he does or appears on. I shall explore his work further.

"Wait a Minute!" by WILLOW
The artist also known as Will Smith's daughter continues to make weird and fun pop.

"Good Girl," & "Problematic," by Jesse Gold
Seemingly sweet songs with a slight dark edge are always fun and Jesse Gold makes just that.

"Closer," by Saweetie and H.E.R.
Anytime you feature H.E.R. on a song she is bound to kill it, as she does here.

"North$ide," by Destiny Rogers
A cute song about romance with a catchy hook. Sometimes that is all you need.

"Million Dollar Baby," by Tommy Richman
I know some people who really jam out to this song and others who absolutely hate it. I find it silly and fun.

"Linger," by TALA
Probably the weirdest cover of this song by The Cranberries you will ever hear, it morphs the song into a tragic ballad--but it works!

"Hush--Still Woozy Remix," by The Marias and Still Woozy
The synthesizer on this track mixed with the singing is a real delight.

"Yo Love," by Vince Staples & 21 Savage
Vince Staples is a superb rapper and 21 Savage does a solid job on this track too.

Proof that conscious rap can be hella catchy too.

"Shut Up my Moms Calling," by Hotel Ugly
A weird little trip-hop-style song, you can just kind of vibe out to it.

"Drugs You Should Try It," by Jordan Bratton
The orchestral score mixed with the ethereal singing results in this being an eerie and impactful tune.

"Intl' Players Anthem (I Choose You)," by UGK & OutKast
Probably the best song with OutKast that isn't actually an OutKast song (it is on a UGK album) and the last huge hit that saw them as a duo. I always love revisiting this tune every few months when I want a dose of Andre 3000 and Big Boi right before they stopped and hopefully will someday reunite.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

"Crazy Taxi," Could Return as a Big Online Game

"Crazy Taxi," was a fantastic game. Full of late 90s and early 2000s jams and loaded with actual stores in a strange occurrence of product placement, the game had you picking up passengers and driving as insanely as possible to get them where they needed to go. The sequel, "Crazy Taxi 2," introduced a mechanic where your car could somehow jump. Apparently, there were other games, but they were on random consoles like the PSP or mostly remakes as opposed to big sequels (the 3rd in the series took the original map and added the jump, for instance with just one new area overall). However, a new, "Crazy Taxi," is supposedly coming, and it sounds weird.

The next, "Crazy Taxi," was described by Series producer Kenji Kanno recently as a “Large-scale, open-world, massively multiplayer driving game." So, a game where you compete with other players to get passengers within a massive map and possibly even engage in combat with them like some kind of weird, "Fortnite," mixed with, "World of Warcraft," or such? That sounds totally bizarre, but, "Crazy Taxi," was never about restraint. As Oli Welsh of Polygon observed, "Honestly, I've heard worse ideas." A big online World where you drive our taxi around, forming alliances/corporations/whatever, and getting into combat could be cool. If it keeps the wild attitude of the original franchise and is some form of zany fun I'd give it a shot.

Saturday, July 6, 2024

"Gutsville," Might Actually Come Back and Conclude Soon

Before I even had this blog, back in 2007, an interesting comic kicked off by Si Spurrier and Frazier Irving. Titled, "Gutsville," it followed a strange village that followed strict religious doctrines...and was inside the belly of a huge whale-like creature. Only three total issues came out, with the second and third heavily delayed--nothing has been released since 2008. Supposedly, however, Frazier Irving has claimed that, "Gutsville," will be wrapping as soon as this year. Nearly 20 years later we might see the end of, "Gutsville," in the form of some more issues or perhaps a super-sized issue. I quite enjoyed the comic when I read it so, so many years ago with its weird concept being beautifully executed thanks to Spurrier and Irving. I'm pleased that, "Gutsville," might actually conclude, it just is a bit annoying it has taken such a long time.

Friday, July 5, 2024

Funko Friday: This New Moon Knight Funko Pop is Really Impressive

I dabble in Funko Pops but am by no means a huge collector of them. I have a handful and enjoy the ones of the fandoms I follow/like though. Everyone here knows I love Moon Knight so when I was in Target and saw the latest Pop I immediately texted my wife, "I need to buy this!" and she knew I was gonna grab one. Featuring visuals from the recent run written by Jed Mackay with art by Alessandro Cappuccio, this Pop is badass. You can see it posted above and it is really snazzy. I maybe don't buy Funko Pops too often, but when one catches my fancy it'll earn a spot on my shelves!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Happy Fourth of July; Celebrate Our Nation's Potential, I Suppose?

July 4th is a day we celebrate America. It is our Independence Day. I love my country and want it to be the best it can be. Unfortunately, the nation often lets me down. We've got a Supreme Court that wants to give Presidents the power of kings via alarming levels of immunity, a looming election which looks to be a mess if the first Presidential debate is any indication, and so forth. That said, our Country always has potential. There are times my nation makes me proud because of the people within America. That is what a nation, state, city, etc. is, after all, the people--we the people. I won't stop trying to make the United States the best it possibly can be and I know those with differing views will try to make this country reflect their view on what that, "Best," is. 

That is how a democracy should work and putting aside when there are people who to subvert the rules (as Donald Trump clearly did multiple times, but I digress) we have checks and balances that should work to help those who want to improve our nation and stop or slow those who would try to harm it. Today we celebrate our United States of America and its independence--but we never stop trying to make it even better with that independence so many fought so hard to earn and keep.

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

People Are Being a Bit Hard on That, "Hellboy: The Crooked Man," Trailer

I think when it comes to superhero movies as of late people are spoiled on big, expensive, and over-the-top special effects. Folks expect a 200 million dollar plus film full of Computer Graphics so incredible it makes your eyes water with glee. At least, that is my theory because a lot of people are being kind of mean about the trailer for a new Hellboy flick and it looks fine to me.

"Hellboy: The Crooked Man," adapts a Hellboy story of the same name and is unrelated to the original two movies or the last reboot that everyone now pretends didn't happen. Jack Kesy plays Hellboy with Brian Taylor (best known for the movie, "Crank," and its Insanity) directing. The creator of Hellboy, Mike Mignola is heavily involved too. Hellboy goes to investigate some supernatural evil in 1950s Appalachia and the movie is clearly leaning heavily into more of a horror vibe as opposed to comedy or action. The dialogue in the trailer is a bit trite, "It smells like death," but as far as the effects go, it seems fine to me. Hellboy looks like Hellboy, there are creepy creatures and I don't have any complaints. Yet, many are saying this looks, "Low-budget," or still angry that, "Hellboy 3," never got made. Some have remarked they like the dark tone, but even they think this looks like a, "Fanfilm," as opposed to an official movie. Give the trailer a look and judge for yourself:

It looks fine! From some internet searching it seems the budget is thought to be around 20-25 million dollars and while compared to the latest Marvel or DC flick that would be chump change, this still isn't some microscopic amount as if this were a little indie film made for pennies. Whether, "Hellboy: the Crooked Man," is good or not will remain to be seen, but as far as the budget goes, it seems perfectly alright in regards to visuals.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

The Internet Always Needs Something to Be Mad About/Jim Lee Can Charge What He Wants for Commissions

Jim Lee is one of the top talents in the industry and a busy man with all the work he does basically running the comic-book division of DC. I'd be surprised if he even has time to do commissions, but he apparently does! Considering how big a name he is the man could ask whatever he wants, and someone noticed in an online post he asks for $25,000-$35,000 for an original commissioned piece. This resulted in opinions.

Now, I'm not rich so that is far, far too much for me to ever pay someone to draw me something. I do love having artists draw me Moon Knight whether they are random folks or somewhat-known names who don't charge too much with my budget. That said, Jim Lee can charge whatever he wants to draw you something, and throwing a fit about it as the internet seems to have done is silly. I mean, nobody is making you buy a commission from Jim Lee. Art is worth what people will pay for it, and Lee wants to be paid that much for his creations--as is his right! If you've got the money and the desire for Jim Lee to draw for you, pay the man! Otherwise, you don't! It is as simple as that.

Monday, July 1, 2024

They Officially Start Demolishing the Chesterfield Mall on October 15th

I've written about the Chesterfield Mall in our region and how I'm sad it will soon be no more. It was struggling a bit before the COVID-19 pandemic, and ever since then had been mortally wounded and limping along with a small number of stores left as a bit of a last stand. Long-gestating plans to demolish the Mall and build a big mixed-use area of shopping, businesses, and apartments/condos finally were approved and the Mall officially closes on August 31st, 2024. My favorite Vintage Stock location is at the Chesterfield Mall and their last day is July 28th, 2024. A number of shops that were still in the Mall have left or are making plans to relocate. The aforementioned Vintage Stock is just shutting down and that has me really disappointed in corporate for not finding a new spot nearby so that all the employees I adore there could relocate. The day is now in the books for when they begin to tear the Mall down and it will be October 15th.

Once it is mid-October it all starts coming down. After six months we will be left with a crater and construction will begin anew on Downtown Chesterfield or whatever the final name ends up being. I appreciate that whatever comes next could be pretty cool, but I'm still bummed the Chesterfield Mall will only exist before too long as a memory. I and others will miss it.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Redbox's Owner is Bankrupt

Redbox was once a popular option for renting movies and games. Then with the rise of streaming and digital rentals, it pretty much fell off. In 2022 the company was acquired by Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment. Yes, the company that made those books with motivational stories and essays that were huge some decades ago but also had a decline in business. Now, in 2024, CSSE, as I will call it for short, is out of money and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company hopes to secure a loan and reorganize, but it seems CSSE owes a ton of people money and cannot even make payroll for employees. CSSE is in debt to everyone from Walmart to Hollywood studios and their landlord. It sounds dire, which isn't surprising for a company in the hole--let me check my notes here--$970 million? Good God, that's a lot of moolah! I only hope Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment can figure something out so that at least its employees have functional insurance (they currently do not) and get their paychecks. As of now, however, this is quite a mess for the company.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

I Tried Two New Scooter's Drinks

I love coffee but it is not the only beverage I drink. The popular chain known as Scooter's has an assortment of fun drinks--including special limited flavors--and when I'm not solely after coffee I'll sample the other stuff sometimes. I recently tried two iced drinks that are around for a brief period of time and thought I'd offer my opinion on them! Without further ado...

Electric Peach Infusion

This beverage features the tropical flavors of the SCOOOT! Energy drink that Scooter's features with peach (plus a hint of cherry and pomegranate). To top it all off, they include some peach ring candies as well. I enjoyed this drink a lot, although it definitely leaned over toward the almost-too-sweet side. The SCOOOT! drink worked very well with the peach, however, and the drink has a nice crisp mouth feel. The peach candies look cute but are a relatively unnecessary edition--they're soggy by the time you finish the drink and not really worth eating. Overall, a nice drink!

4 out of 5 Stars.

SCOOOT! Energy Sparkler

Meant to tie in with the upcoming Fourth of July, this drink has a blend of peach and pomegranate flavors that are topped with some whipped cream and then a layer of blue raspberry cold foam. The result looks patriotic and is quite tasty. I'm not sure it is necessary to have whipped cream and foam in terms of flavor as both are light and (obviously) dairy. They mix together well with the energy drink, however, balancing out the fruity acidity. To be honest, I didn't sense any raspberry in the cold foam and while it looks cool in terms of optics, the whipped cream and foam just blended together to make the aforementioned blend of taste with the energy drink. This drink looks cool but the flavor isn't anything to write home about. Still, a solid option if you want something that is visually snazzy to sip upon.

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 28, 2024

That Was a Mess of a Debate Last Night

In the words of Donald Glover AKA Childish Gambino, "This is America."  That song came out in 2018 and just always manages to be relevant one way or another. I watched the debate last night and it was horrific. Two elderly men argued about who was more mentally competent and better at golf. Donald Trump did nothing but lie and Joe Biden seemed feeble and prone to mubling. Trump made up things like, "Post-birth abortions," and dodged questions about the January 6th insurrection he supported and inspired. Joe Biden seemed disconnected and uninterested in the proceedings except for a few moments where he thankfully, "Woke up," and pointed out that he was debating a convicted felon for the highest office in the land. The whole thing was a mess and upsetting. 

A well-meaning but frail old guy is trying to protect the United States from a narcissist and con artist. Donald Trump definitely is unfit for office, but Biden struggled to make it appear like he was particularly ready for another term as well. This is America, may God and the rest of the World have mercy on us all.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Dark Horse and Marvel to Collaborate On Comic-Focused Art Books

Marvel has teamed up with other publishers in the past for one reason or another. IDW has published some impressive, "Artist's Editions," of classic stories, there were some fun crossovers with DC that occurred long ago and are finally being republished, and Dynamite has worked with the publisher as well such as that fun time Ash (from "Evil Dead/Army of Darkness," and so forth) met the Marvel Zombies. Now, Marvel and Dark Horse are going to collaborate on a, "New range of Marvel art books."

Called, "Bullpen Books," these deluxe publications will, "...honor the works of legendary Marvel Comics characters and creators," with the debut title being, "The Art of the Amazing Spider-Man by John Romita." It will focus on Romita Sr. and his work on the series with essays about his work, scans of original art, and more. It sounds a bit like the Artist's Editions but instead of having full stories will provide a bit of an overview of an artist's time on a particular series or such. That's pretty cool and it will all look great as these books are nice and oversized (10 inches by 14 inches) but not too pricey at $60. The initial Spider-Man book hits stores this October and will be followed by plenty more titles, I imagine. It is pleasing to see big publishers, "Playing nice," as you want the business of comics to be successful for everyone involved (a rising tide raises all boats, as the saying goes). I look forward to seeing what else Bullpen Books puts out in the future!

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Television Tuesday: Bring Back, "Modern Family," for Real, You Cowards!

"Modern Family," was a hilarious sitcom that went for 11 seasons (2009-2020). It probably ran a bit too long, losing some of the initial, "Spark," after a bit. It still remained at least decent viewing until the end even if it wasn't as amazing after the first 5 or so seasons. Spin-offs were rumored but didn't happen. Now, in this day and age where old shows get revived some years later I'd argue, "Modern Family," is practically begging to be brought back in some form! Well, just recently it sort of was...but for an advertisement.

That's right, Ty Burrell, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson returned as their characters Phil Dunphy, Claire Dunphy, Cam Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett to promote Whatsapp. The ad is a bit funny, but it really just makes me irritated that we don't have a real return of, "Modern Family," in some form. With all the characters on the show you'd think we could follow at least some of the families if we checked in all these years later to see how their fictional selves were doing. Instead, we get this little tease of what could be. Plenty of shows that don't even really make sense to be revived have had it done or we even get spin-offs of spin-offs these days--seriously, a show spun out of, "Young Sheldon," of all things? Broadcast companies don't leave money on the table, but a fat sack of cash is just sitting there with no revival plans. Let's make it happen because even if it is just good and not great, I"ll enjoy seeing the characters again outside the context of a tedious advertisment, at the very least.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Let People Work Remotely if it is Feasible

Dell told employees who had been working remotely during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic they needed to be at least hybrid or could stay remote and face certain consequences. Almost half chose the, "Or else," that was threatened as they preferred to work remotely. Now they can no longer be promoted, but aren't sitting in mostly empty offices having Zoom calls with other mostly empty offices as compared to staying home and saving time and money on a commute. If people can work remotely with it causing little-to-no issues, why do big companies want to force them into the office?

I mean, the answers to why a lot of companies are anti-work-from-home is obvious once you get past the B.S. response of it, "Helping building community/a good work culture," or something. It makes certain middle managers unnecessary, and that scares those in positions of power. There are the real estate companies wanting to sell land and/or people who want rent money. There are tax perks, and the list goes on. Hence, we get those claiming remote work is bad for some reason or another. It is silly.

If you work remotely and get results for your employer, that's what matters. If you work in an office and fail to get results, how is that any better? You can fake looking busy in an office but accomplish very little but when you're working remotely it is all about what gets done. You think employers would like this, but a number of them are opposed to work-from-home. I just hope that some balance can be struck between those who work in an office, those who follow a hybrid model, and the folks who want to be fully remote.

Sunday, June 23, 2024

It's Too Hot in 2024

It is too hot in America. We've got heat advisories coast to coast as well as flooding from storms, tornadoes, and the Continental U.S. is a mess. It isn't just America, with over 1,000 people making the Islamic pilgrimage known as Hajj dying of extreme temperatures in the Middle East, to give one example of the weather being awful in the World. People deny it, but the climate is changing and the scary thing isn't that this may be the hottest Summer so far, but that this may be the coolest Summer within the next number of years at the rate things are going. It is like a meme my wife sent me of the devil farting on a village--that's how hot it is. Observe:

I only hope that people in areas impacted by extreme heat or other dangerous weather are able to stay safe and find relief from the weather.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Nadine Redlich's, "Doing the Work," is as Funny as it is Tragic

\In 2018 I admired the dark wit of Nadine Redlich's, "I Hate You--You Just Don't Know it Yet," and in 2021 I loved the weird minimalism of her, "Stones," comic. Her latest book is, "Doing the Work," and as with the previous titles is being published by Rotopol. It assembles a number of strips from ones revisiting the rock in, "Stones," to pieces with birds, a dog that is alarmingly joyful while at the same time seeming a bit, "Off," weird representations of the human ego, and plenty of other comics that range from a single page to a handful.

There is a clever and intentional disconnect in some of the pieces as they are brightly illustrated while at the same time carrying an immense sadness or sense of dread. A man being interviewed is asked what superpower he'd pick if he could have any and after thinking declares, "Empathy." Someone working in an office checks their watch and notices it is the designated time to cry. A piece titled, "Happy Forever," features a cartoonish with an unending smile that almost looks more like a toothy scream than a vignette of joy. There is a nice sharp edge to the illustrations and while at first glance things look joyful with bold reds, yellows, and blues often featured, there is a melancholy undercurrent to Redlich's work once you look past the, "Cute," and see the hint of despondency sneaking in around the metaphorical edges. It's fantastic, in other words. It isn't all cynical, by any means, with some strips carrying a nice little bit of optimism to balance the book out, but the pieces with, "Bite," are the ones that really stuck with me.

"Doing the Work," impressed me with author Nadine Redlich's lovely illustrations that combine wonderfully with her sardonic wit. I'd encourage you to ask your local bookstore or comic shop to get you a copy--that or you can visit Rotopol's site if you'd like to order directly from them. I loved everything by Redlich I've read, so I can't wait for what she cooks up next!

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 21, 2024

Film Friday: What is Up with the, "Blade," Movie and Its Development Hell?

The new iteration of, "Blade," was announced back in 2019. Mahershala Ali is to play the titular vampire-hunter, but everything else has been in flux since then. As William Hughes of the AV Club notes, "It's been a very messy 5 years." By all accounts, there have been a bunch of scripts with rewrite after rewrite, and a couple directors. We are now waiting to hear who the third supposed option for a director will be and if a script will be completed anytime soon. 5 years later and we've got almost nothing to show? The original Blade, Wesley Snipes, even cracked some jokes recently about all this.

I'm not a professional filmmaker, but I would think if you have Ali looking like a badass slicing up and shooting a bunch of vampires in some cool action scenes you're about halfway there. The, "Werewolf by Night," special already showed that Marvel can support horror-styled creatures in the MCU, so let's get to it and make a cool, "Blade," movie, please, sometime this decade!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

"White Boat," #1 is Creepy and Gorgeous

"White Boat," #1 is a new series from the publisher DSTLRY, who make treasury-sized comics in various genres. A short promotion for the story was in the debut book from the publisher, "The Devil's Cut," #1, along with other titles and it was the most intriguing yarn to me. The first full issue is a treat, with writer Scott Snyder and artist Francesco Francavilla following a character named Lee who writes about yachts for a living while trying to function with the horrible trauma of having lost his brother in a freak boating accident when they were young. Lee finds himself invited to tour the mysterious mega-yacht known as the White Boat, and from there, things only get weirder.

Both Snyder and Francavilla have been making comics long enough I expected them to knock it out of the park with this first issue of, "White Boat." They surpassed my already lofty expectations, as this initial issue was amazing. Full of moody imagery, things really get scary when Lee finds himself trapped deep within the boat and it morphs and shifts in ways that seem impossible. If the whole series had Lee stuck in a boat that might get old, but by the issue's end it seems the White Boat is only the start of a wild and twisty journey. I eagerly await the next issue!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

DC to Publish a Mature Readers Plastic Man Story With Ample Body Horror? Yes, Please!

"Plastic Man No More!" is a new DC mini-series that will be a part of their Black Label (kind of like a new Vertigo). It, "...mixes hard-boiled noir with intense body horror," as over four issues Plastic Man finds himself, "Dying," in the sense his plastic form begins degrading. The talented Christopher Cantwell is writing it with Alex Lins and Jacob Edgar providing artwork. Plastic Man tends to be a bit of a humorous character who has a weird edge to him, so leaning into the stranger stuff should be really fun with a great creative team involved. Plus, as this is the Black Label no punches will need to be pulled with how gruesome Plastic Man's depolymerization could get! The first issue hits stands this early September and should be quite a wild read.

"Where Monsters Lie: Cull-De-Sac," Should be an Exciting Sequel!

Some time ago, I wrote about how much I enjoyed the debut issue of, "Where Monsters Lie," and the whole mini-series ended up being quite a treat. Focused on a secret gated community where slasher-type folks lived when not out doing crimes, it was a hilarious dark comedy. The series ended with the community found by the authorities and destroyed, but a cliffhanger revealed there was another subdivision called, "Site B." Now, it has been announced that, "Where Monster's Lie: Cull-De-Sac," is coming around this Halloween! The extra, "L," makes for a nice pun.

The latest mini-series will be four issues in the same manner as the debut run. I'm pleased this features the original creative team of writer Kyle Starks and the stellar artist Piotr Kowalski as both are fantastic. I can't wait to see what the new horror-inspired location will have in store for us readers and I eagerly look forward to the first issue this October!

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

More AI News: A Real Photo Won in an AI Art Contest

I go from writing about an artist accused of using AI to discussing a photographer who passed a real picture off as AI. That's right, a real picture won awards in an AI Art contest. Such a sentence is both hilarious to read and exemplifies how pointless so-called AI, "Art," even is. A real image went on to earn plaudits, showing how having a human involved in the creation of art is key to making something people might actually want to view/read/watch/otherwise enjoy. 

The piece in question is a real picture of a flamingo that looks, "Wrong," and made it able to fool people until the photographer, Miles Astray, made his clever subterfuge clear to everyone. The art was disqualified but nobody was mad, instead seeing his point of how this should foster communication. All it took was a flamingo bending over just right to scratch itself with its beak to look like AI. It took a real human to capture this funny image and it goes to show even when the whole point of a category is AI, "Art," that real art is best.

Francesco Mattina Accused of Using AI for his Comic Covers

Mattina's latest work is being accused of mostly being AI.

I've seen a lot of rumors about Francesco Mattina in comics and just how much of his art he does versus ripping off from others and using Photoshop trickery to get away with the theft of fellow creators. Now, another comic artist is calling out Mattina. Adi Granov has been making posts online making it clear a new variant cover by Mattina is clearly produced by AI with some tweaks done by Mattina to attempt to hide the machine influence, but the nasty, "Fingerprints," of AI manifesting the work are there. The comic cover can be seen above with Superman.

My feelings on AI and how it isn't even really, "Art," are clear if you've read my blog. If the rumblings about Mattina are true (and things look damning) then why he would be getting work at a major publisher for doing little more than some typed prompts and hasty Photoshop alterations would be something DC should ask itself.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Dirty 20 Bar is a Great Place to Hang-Out

The Dirty 20 Bar just opened in Manchester, Missouri.  The idea behind the business is that there are sports bars in Saint Louis, but not a bar for playing board games, Dungeons and Dragons, and the like. Hence, it's a restaurant and bar with ample space for fun activities. It opens midday for lunch and is relatively quiet then before getting busy for the evening and late-night crowd. I went during the less-populated time and got permission to snap some pictures. I was with a friend of mine and enjoyed food. I didn't have any drinks but was impressed with the big variety on offer too.

Dirty 20's menu focuses a lot on Mac and Cheese. There are all kinds of cool variations and you can build your own. I had the pretzel bites as well as an order of the flaming hot bites and loved them. There were three but I forgot to snap a picture until l had already eaten one:

My friend loved his spicy Mac and Cheese as well. We both thought the decor was fun--especially with the walls nd tables featuring the artwork of everything from, "Magic: The Gathering," to maps and character info from D&D. The employees were all incredibly nice as well, creating a friendly vibe where you were welcome to hang-out and play all the provided games (or bring your own)!

Between the good grub, ample space for people to play tabletop/card games, and chill atmosphere I was impressed with Dirty 20 and hope they have lots of success in these opening months and into the future!