Friday, December 30, 2011

Turtles, Turtles, Turtles...A Life-Long Fanaticism

They're mean. They're green. They're fighting machines, as they used to say.

I've been an enormous fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since I was a wee lad munching on frozen, store-bought, TMNT marketing-labeled pizzas and watching the first live action film. I had every piece of TMNT merchandise my parents and finances would allow. Every Saturday morning I'd watch the cartoons, then I'd play with my action figures until mid-day. Occasionally, if I was lucky, I'd find old issues of the various Turtle's comics and read and reread them. I loved, and still to this day, love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Now, in the present, I find a new series of comics from publisher IDW. The Mirage books of a few years past are still accessible, but as far as I can tell Mirage is no longer printing new Turtles material. Peter Laird has stepped into the shadows and Kevin Eastman has stepped out to properly hand off the green dudes to a new creative team and a different publisher. A creative team that just so happens to be writing some of the best Turtles material in years!

As of the time of this writing IDW has released five issues from the Turtle's regular series and two Micro-Series books featuring Raphael and Michelangelo. The main series is wonderfully written and the artwork has an action to it that fits perfectly along with the characters. We're given a new kind of TMNT from the very beginning, but we are not forced to wade through issue upon issue of exposition. The characters are there, we're moved from the present to the past with well-planned flash backs, and even though it's new it instantly feels familiar and right. Up to the most recent issue we're given only hints and snippets of information that basically tell us that the Turtles and their mentor Splinter were not vagabond animals or lost pet shop critters. There's reason given to all the changes as they're presented, there's mystery without a lack of substantial storytelling, and each new issue gifts us with a neatly styled extra piece of an incredible puzzle. Even though we know the guys, Splinter, Casey Jones, and April we're still left with a single question. That question, not quite on par with the enormity of questions such as "Who killed Laura Palmer?" but still massive, is "Just where did Splinter, with his deep and ancient memory, and the four ready-for-action Turtles actually come from?"

Every issue is a must-have for me, not just because I'm a huge fan but because the guys at IDW are publishing good comics. It feels like the Turtles have been given a new home with creators who not only care about them, but want them to be at their best in the four-colored world of comics. Everything appears to have been given great detail and attention. It even appears that the creative team on the current book is looking to include and validate as much of the random Turtle-verse from over the years as possible. We've seen images of characters exclusive to the cartoon. We've been given reason for why each Turtle has their own color. Now we wait for the answer to the above question, and we're left to wonder about the now feudal Japanese Hamato Yoshi and his four sons.

So many questions. So much quality storytelling. I can't wait for the next issue. There's no reason why you, if you enjoy comics, should not be reading this series.

For the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles up to this date I give a five out of five. Pick it up when you can and enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cool Stuff - The Geek Goes Mad

Ever since I can remember I've collected things. There were items I'd hoard because my little mind was overjoyed at how awesome they were. Other things were pushed on me by adults who thought that a young boy should collect certain boyish collectibles (baseball cards and such). In the end my geekiness won out. The inner child is still at large today snatching up what time, money, and resources allow. Nothing pisses my wife off more.

Recently while Christmas shopping for my wife I accidentally discovered a relic of my geekdom, the finding of which I'd liken to the finding of the Excalibur in a pond somewhere in the Midlands of England. Inside a dusty display case at my local comic book shop sat a Madman Yo-Yo. There it was, the weapon of Frank Einstein, the creation of the ultra groovy Mike Allred (who along with his awesome wife Laura was kind enough to grant me an interview for my new book). I knew I had to have it.

So here I sit now attempting to distract myself from work on my current comic project. I already ordered a Madman mask from the sweet folk at Graphitti Designs. I just bought this incredible Yo-Yo, and I have a camera conveniently lying close by. The following photos are the product of when these things combine! (I'm sorry?)

Some Madman collectibles I've acquired over the last few years. I have the original action figures. They're off in a case somewhere.

Just for fun I decided to try it all out.

Here's a version I colored to match the skin tone of Frank. I did an incredibly sloppy job, but it was a lot of fun! (Also, a nice distraction from work)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hallowe'en and its magic

If there's one holiday in the year that I look forward to with an insane amount of excitement it's Hallowe'en. Ever since I was a child this holiday has been significant, not only for the costumes and candy but for the experiences I've had. Some of my earliest memories are of a Hallowe'en store somewhere in northern Indiana in the late 80s, early 90s. I can recall the huge pumpkin displays and the gift of wax lips my sister and I chewed on in the back of our family's car. I can still hear the bubbling of a cauldron, the howling of distant wolfmen, and the groaning of undead which emanated from our car stereo as my dad played a horror sound effects tape, making sure to crank the volume at the most horrifying points. It was an obnoxiously amusing decision against which my mother screamed loud protests.

Nothing beats the enchantment of this holiday especially when one considers the traditions and history it represents. From early pagan festivals to the Irish lantern turnip humanity has been, in some way, remembering the importance of harvest time and the thinning of the veil between the world of those of us who live and the shadow realm of those long dead. The macabre holds center stage as the night hours spring to life with new mystery and whimsy. It's a fitting time to think not only about the end of the tiring growing season but to dream about the vague wonders that lay beyond our comprehension. There's no better time to subject one's self to horror. Nor is there a better time to revel in the fear and magic of it all.

This year I carved my first Jack o' Lantern since I was a small child. Knowing now why the pumpkin is carved and what it represents, I am able to enjoy this tradition in a way I could not before. As I stared into the glowing eyes of the hollowed-out vegetable I could not help but let my imagination go wild. I thought of all the dark, spooky things that are spoken of this time of year. I thought of witches communing around secret fires and eaters of man-flesh roaming the streets looking for a wholesome, delectable kill. My mind went to the covens of imbibers of life's sanguine fluid as they gather in high rooms, contemplating their approach to commemorating the day this year. I also thought of traditional spirits as they also took their place roaming the night. Woe be, I thought, to the one who meets the dullahan somewhere far away upon a murky road, or heaven protect the one who hears the keening of the bean sidhe out in the misty midnight as she turns over a blood-soaked article of clothing in her bony hands.

This year, dear reader, may you find and enjoy the true magic of this incredible holiday. Whether you spend it amongst friends, at home with classic, seasonal horror films, or out performing dark deeds, enjoy. Happy Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pursuit of Dreams and the Frequented Path

We recall names, famous and great, when speaking of ideas and events. They are our markers, our examples. A referent seems necessary for any person to make any kind of declaration. It grounds our current words and trends in history and ties together culture, society, and species. I suppose I have a few names to throw out now as I declare that as of January of the next year I will cease attending college to pursue a career in writing.

The names I'd like to apply to support this declaration are Benjamin Franklin and the recently late Steve Jobs. These two men, separated by centuries, periods, and technological evolution are examples of success beyond the realm of formal education. Both men at some point abandoned the over-structured series of courses and subjects, striking out to teach themselves new ideas and apply their talents to the world. In doing this both of these fellows found success and apparently, from what he have to read of their lives and experiences, were richer, more well-rounded people for making such a decision.

I hope to find a way to market my writing so that I can spend the rest of my life contributing to the immeasurable library of our species. If I can sell my work to periodicals, fiction magazines, and perhaps get a novel published within a seven month period I will have the evidence and confirmation I need to continue to work at and pursue a professional life of expression and word-smithing. If I should find success in even one of these areas that will be sufficient.

This decision is justified, I feel, by the remarks and support I've received from readers of my writing since my late high school days to the present. I have found enough serious and considerate feedback to support at least an attempt at having the life and profession I desire. To be fair to myself, my wife, and our future I at least have to try. Ideally I'd like to regularly publish articles, stories, and novels and be able to support my wife by doing so.

As far as education is concerned, I know that I am naturally inquisitive, though I am often easily distracted from things of interest. While working at developing a writing career I will not neglect the growth of my knowledge. What hope shall I have if I am to be working from a stagnant mind? To avoid such I will continue to study and self-educate as anyone and everyone should until their life's end.

If I find failure in this course, which for me would be to not sell or successfully publish any work in over a half year period, I shall return to furthering my education at the university level and working my non-creative, stale office job. My hope is that this is not where I find myself in half a year's time, but if it is I will accept that my path goes in a different direction and I will continue what I have been doing. The important thing, regardless of what happens in this period, is that I will have tried.

Like Franklin and Jobs I hope to look back years from now on a life of which I'm proud. May I find then, if my life be so fortunate, that my accomplishments sprang from, to paraphrase Sir Philip Sidney, following the zodiac of my own wit. Here's to an attempt to not only follow a path traversed by the greats but to pursue my dreams and make them my reality.

Monday, September 19, 2011

One of the best nights...They Might Be Giants and Jonathan Coulton come to Grand Rapids!

Looking back I can say that I have maybe been to two or three actual concerts. When I write concert here I mean a rather large event that is nationally publicized and one for which I have to fork out money. There was Lord of the Dance (really) when I was younger and then some big-name DJ shows after I first met my wife. This isn't counting the dozens of local shows I've attended.

Last night my wife and I had the pleasure to attend a concert (definitely fitting the above definition), and it was one of the best I have ever seen or could possibly imagine. Jonathan Coulton, one of my long time favorite musicians, opened for They Might Be Giants at The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI. This was a show we had been anxiously anticipating for a long time.

From the beginning of Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey" to They Might Be Giants' "Dead," in their second encore, I knew that this was an event I'd remember for the rest of my life. The crowd was feeling the music and the musicians seemed to be enjoying themselves. The combination of these elements made for a beautiful atmosphere. I felt the urge to drop everything and follow this show around the country for a month or two. If only I could.

Jonathan Coulton's set was energetic and humorous, as I expected it to be, but it felt like it was far too short. I guess I neglected to remember that he was the opening act, but his set was the reason I wanted to attend in the first place so I naturally wanted more. He opened, as I previously stated, with "Code Monkey" and played several songs from his terrific new album "Artificial Heart." I managed to pick up a signed copy while at the show. In regard to the quality of his set, backed by a skillful, cohesive band and leading with his rocking guitar and vocals he managed to put on an exceptional performance. He even managed to fit in "Still Alive" which folks who have played Portal should recognize.

They Might Be Giants flat out blew the place up, which was something I honestly did not know to expect. All of them talented musicians they pulled off a successful show with pogo-inducing music and crowd interactions that I find seriously lacking from most other shows I've experienced. They started out with new material from their fresh album "Join Us" and they smoothly curved back into their catalog to delight of the pulsing mob. Their return to favorites like "Istanbul (not Constantinople)," "Dead," and "Birdhouse In Your Soul" plastered a stupid grin on my face as I happily joined in the stage-front throng. What a show!

I spent most of the show up next to stage right's speaker and am still nearly deaf as I write this. My thoughts and feelings on this experience have given me a drive to go out and attend as many concerts of interest as I can find. I hope to see Jonathan Coulton perform again soon, preferably with the longer set his talent is due, and I wouldn't mind catching They Might Be Giants again in the near future. Chicago on September 23, anyone?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The New 52 Continued and Finally Purpose for the Ultimate Universe

Another Wednesday has come and gone. The last time I picked up comics, especially those from DC's new line up, I had a thing or two to say (see previous entry). Now I'm sitting here with a brand new pile in my lap which consists of a few offerings from good old, inconsistent DC, and two neat titles from another member of the League of Inconsistency, friendly Marvel. I feel that for once most of what I picked up was worth the effort and money.

I only bought a few of the new titles from DC this week (I'm not a 52-whore like some people who are full of collector madness). For the reading I have Batman and Robin #1, Green Lantern #1, Red Lanterns #1, and Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1. So, for starters, we are back in Gotham City guided by the words of Peter J. Tomasi and the crisp artwork of Patrick Gleason. This issue left me feeling more satisfied than Detective Comics #1, but it caused some irritation due to the continued presence of the character of Damien (Wayne) in the world of Batman. This is a character I'm not too fond of but it seems other fans insist that he remains, so the publisher makes sure he does. It started by addressing the terribly unfortunate Batman Inc. idea of pre-52 days and then moved into Bruce Wayne's traditional tribute to his murdered parents. I appreciate that this new numbering begins back where they man, the hero found his beginnings. If only we didn't have the uncaring commentary of Damien to ruin a special moment for the one character in the book that actually matters. Anyway, I'm probably going to be picking up the next issue because of the collaboration of talent on the book and to follow the story line that has piqued my interests (no spoilers).

Then there's Green Lantern #1, a book that pretty much looks and reads like it did before the renumbering. Another title that shouts, "What was the point?" The universe of Hal Jordan, still penned by Geoff Johns with art by my old Darkhorse favorite Doug Mahnke, is the same except it's not. Apparently Sinestro was granted Jordan's ring, something I missed during my period away from DC when they started up Brightest Day. That's definitely an interesting twist except that it leaves our favorite cocky test pilot looking like the rest of America, slave to a stack of bills without any employment or discernible purpose. I guess that means that I'll be coming back next month to see what the heck is going to happen. Though while I wait for the calendar to roll around to next issue I can read Red Lanterns #1. This selection from the new number ones I really looked forward to when DC initially released their teaser promotional art and synopses. It's too bad that it read like it did, even though it was written by Peter Milligan. An entire group of Lanterns based on anger and a lust for pain with Atrocitus as their headman? If only the story could redeem that idea for me. Too bad it didn't. I guess my $2.99 will be spent on something else come the time of next issue.

The last of this week's DC comics I thought worthy of my attention was Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (damn acronyms), or should I say Super-Frankenstein and his merry band of government agent-types acting as Universal Monsters. I picked this up because I really enjoy the writing of Jeff Lemire, who did a wonderful job on last week's Animal Man #1, and in pursuing this new work from Lemire I had the privilege of discovering the artwork of Alberto Ponticelli. This title is cleverly odd from its sci-fi, super hero-world beginning to its monster, JLA-like, combat-heavy end. Frankenstein's history in the DCU is unknown to me, but for some strange reason in the few pages where he speaks or gives glimpse of his personality I find myself liking his character. I also like the idea that the book's resident mad-scientist swaps bodies on a regular basis and is currently a little girl in a domino mask. Then there's the crack team (BPRD-like) of government agents-turned-creatures of the night. Their introduction was silly and made it difficult for me to keep smiling through the rest of the book. To sum up my impression of this title, it's like the Justice League of Monsters fighting other, more chaotic monsters whilst employing the best technology Ray Palmer can throw at them. I'll be back next month for this one for sure.

My search for comics definitely paid off on the Marvel end this week. I picked up Captain America #1, written by Ed Brubaker with artwork by Steve McNiven, and even though I have no idea how Steve Rogers returned from the dead or what happened to Shield, I found this to be a fun return to the way Cap should be. McNiven's artwork was phenomenal as usual and Brubaker's handling of Cap continues to work for me. What will happen to Steve and Nick Fury next? I'll find out next issue.

My second selection from the House of Ideas was one I hope every fan of comics was open-minded enough to buy. Now, I usually dislike the Ultimate books which Marvel has milked since the early 2000s, mostly because they tell new versions of old characters when all I want are better tales from the classic Marvel canon, but Brian Michael Bendis, a writer whose work I don't worship like other Marvel readers, has given us, especially me, something in the Ultimate Universe that is finally worth reading. Ultimate Spider-Man #1, featuring Miles Morales as the new Spidey, was a book that gave its readers the hero stories they crave while introducing a different take on an old character. Finally we have some fresh and non-typical material. I enjoy Peter Parker as Spider-Man, in fact he's one of my favorite characters, but we already have him in the main Marvel Universe doing his thing. Why do we need him in an alternate continuity doing the same? Thankfully young Mr. Morales is on the scene to change stuff up, give us a new take on what it's like for a boy to gain super powers, and finally, in my opinion, justify the Ultimate Universe. I look forward to issue two and have to thank Mr. Bendis for being awesome.

I'll return next week to review more from DC, see if Marvel can continue to entertain me, and ask the questions most elderly, Alsatians are afraid to ask. Till then.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DC Comics...a name that screams "Wallet Rape"

So this month there are, or will soon be, a full set of fifty-two number one issues from DC Comics. I, like most of my kind, have known about this for some time, but I think I was probably the least excited. In my lifetime I've seen several of these sudden, over-hyped renumberings and have yet to find one that actually produces something completely new and surprising.

The sad thing for me has been the fan response. Stopping in at my local comic book shop I've discovered that Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #1 have become instant-rare issues, and what few extras the store had of Detective they've already marked up to ten dollars a copy. The collector mentality, something I've struggled to overcome for myself and understand, is a disgustingly unreasonable thing that I find, like most disgustingly unreasonable things, originates in the heart of good old, let's fuck up culture-America. The 1990s was a bad period for the comic book industry not just because publishers were mass producing books and creating pointless special collector editions but because the fans of the industry and enterprising outsiders hoping to do as little as possible to pay for their fuck-up child's possible future education created an insane demand. It was this demand and stupid fan response that caused the over-publication which glutted the shelves of direct market stores and weighed down the value of supposedly priceless books till they were value-raped beyond recovery. Here we are again with a news-catching publicity ejaculation from old DC that has spurred slackjaw, funny-book-philiacs into action with wallets bared like virginal lady bits to a pack of rabid, erection-baring nymphos.

I did actually buy a couple, even though I'm not the guy who was in the shop to salivate over getting two copies of every single issue. I did have a genuine interest in finding out how they revamped Action and Detective, but now I'll never get a chance to inform that interest. What I did manage to purchase were two of the fifty-two. I picked up a copy of Jeff Lemire's Animal Man and Scott Snyder's Swamp Thing. I really didn't want to buy Swamp Thing back when I first heard that they were throwing old green into the main DCU, but I was interested and a $2.99 price wasn't really preventing me from checking out what could be utter crap. I have mixed feelings about the book. I miss the Bernie Wrightson and Len Wein days, hell even the Alan Moore days, of Swamp Thing, but it seems like Snyder might have something with this new book. Hell the artwork is damn fine spiffy, too. I can't say I like that Superman (in his new blue armor?) would think to visit Alec Holland, the two shouldn't even be in the same goddamn universe as far as I'm concerned, but the idea of Dr. Holland having escaped the Green only to be nearly pulled back at issues end is intriguing. I will probably see where that goes.

In regard to Lemire's Animal Man, I miss when Jeff Lemire was an independent creator turning out quality. That's not to say that this book wasn't fantastic. I found the writing to be what I'd expect from Lemire, and the artwork, by Travel Foreman, was energetic and stylishly sloppy. This is one book I think needed to happen.

I guess my biggest problem is that it doesn't feel like this was at all necessary, and it seems like this was in many ways a money-grab by the publisher. If anything quality comes from this it's incidental depending on the creative teams responsible. I'm thankful for Animal Man #1, miffed about Action and Detective, and am very blah about Swamp Thing #1. Let's hope all this actually goes somewhere. Until the whole venture really proves itself I shall remain a bitter, irritated fan of the medium and sometimes customer of a publisher I really don't believe in.

Watch where you spend your money, comic fans. To paraphrase a dusty old knight, you must choose, but choose wisely. Make yours DC if they deserve it, otherwise I'd recommend avoiding them and most of their fifty-two. Give Animal Man a shot though, if you'd like.

Till next time.

In case I haven't raved about it yet...Spaced!

I spent a lot of time in front of a television growing up. Let's go ahead and move past whether that was unfortunate or not. Looking back I know that I enjoyed myself and had the opportunity to discover a significant number of inspirations. Sorting the good from the bad became second nature after the first few years, and thanks to my brilliant uncle who was present for most of the earliest of my Tube-years I was exposed to some of the best television ever made.

In color and black and white I had a chance to see programs such as Doctor Who, Black Adder, The Young Ones, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr. Bean, Are You Being Served?, Mystery and the list goes on. Obviously, unless you're an uninformed twit, you can see that this is a list of British television series (don't get me wrong I did watch a lot of American cartoons). It might be safe to say that I grew up in the humid, wilds of Florida but developed in the glow of British social commentary, absurd comedy, and incredibly imaginative science-fiction. I couldn't possibly be more thankful for such a cultural upbringing.

So now I'm an adult. A socially labeled and testosterone-endowed man who reminisces like an old woman wrapped in so much lace with a never-ending tea time. I look back on the programs of my youth with a warm fondness recalling memories like the time a tweed-jacketed Rowan Atkinson made tea with a sock or the time Rik Mayall held a benefit concert in his living room alongside Nigel Planer's Neil where Alexei Sayle (who is that fat bastard?) sung about Doctor Martin's boots or contemplating the range a cybermat must have had to be able to leap at the throats of its victims in the black and white, spine-tingling Tomb of the Cyberman. What a childhood to have grown up with such splendors born out of the minds of scrawny, pale, beautiful Brits who possessed incredible talent. All this leads me to my praise-rant for the direct descendant of all that English wonder, Spaced.

Spaced was a show I caught glimpses of, heard rumors about, and read praise for till I eventually broke down and acquired myself a copy. I don't think I have adequate words to express just how much I adore this program and the creative talent behind its production. The references throughout the show, the odd asides made by the characters, and the perfectly-timed humor all come together to honor my upbringing and the only culture folks of my generation have ever intimately known. Sure there were obscure British references, naturally, and sure there where moments where viewers without any background in the television of Britain would have been thrown off, but I got the jokes and laughed all the more because it felt like I was finally watching something made for someone like me.

The cast consisted of characters I wish, and sometimes am sure, I knew. Simon Pegg's Tim Bisley was the geek-skater of the late 90s I spent so many evenings talking to at coffee shops or watching movies with on the weekends. Jessica Hynes' Daisy Steiner was the cute girl in my class I was never brave enough to ask out but was glad to moon over from afar. Nick Frost's Mike Watt was the odd fellow and true friend-type that was fixated on something for which I had no shared interest but was someone I was always glad to have around. Mark Heap's Brian Topp was in many ways me in high school except I never really could express myself, either properly or ridiculously. Katy Carmichael's Twist Morgan was like too many girls I knew and actively avoided, and Julia Deakin's Marsha Klein was like an aunt I'd like to have around though might have avoided. What a terrific group of flavorful folk.

Often throughout the show I would catch nods to various movies and comics with which I was very familiar. Hearing someone geek out over X-Men or hate The Phantom Menace was fantastic. Seeing the copies of 2000 AD lying about or hearing bits of various Star Wars themes always, always brought a grin to my face. Knowing that Tim shared my love for Gillian Anderson was strangely comforting, and seeing his focus shift towards Buffy was just natural. The rave scene in the first series was all too accurate and brought strange cravings back from a few years ago (the less I write there the better).

If it wasn't for my Uncle Adam, the folks on the Mike Allred message board, random ads in comics, Simon Pegg's reference to the show in the special features for Shaun of the Dead, and my old roommate I'd never have found this lovely series. Now every once in a while I get a hardcore urge to put it on, sit back, and absorb the magic of the Wright-Pegg-Hynes brain-trust. I hope they do something together again real soon, and I know I can't be alone in wishing that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Strange awakening

I awoke this morning at exactly 6am to the feeling of fingers running through my hair. My hand in response shot immediately to my head to investigate. In a mad panic I ran through the potentials and came to a conclusion that sent a shiver down my spine. What if another bat made its way in and wished to harass me in my then vulnerable, drowsy state?

My frantic, searching digits found nothing atop my head that might have caused such a sensation. It was then my imagination began to take hold of the situation and generated a possibility even more horrifying. I thought of the fact that once in this very same apartment an old woman died. I know this is as a fact because her aged sister still lives in the building, next door to my wife and I actually. What if there's a special significance behind 6am or the intimate gesture of feeling another's hair, for the spectral old maid ?

I couldn't return to sleep but instead sat for a while imagining, dreaming possibilities. Stories bubbled and churned in my brain like the vibrant, dense substance inside a lava lamp. If Wynken, Blynken, and Nod were fisherman of the night's sky I'd like to perhaps hire them out some time to sail my dreaming unconscious. I wonder what returns they'd present. I wonder what mysterious items they'd dredge from the depths of my inner-self, as unknown and as enchanting as the unfathomable depths of vast mother ocean.

One of those days...

At times I can see in the corner of my room the faint outline of a spectral 19th Century physical medium in the process of defecating ectoplasm into a dress hat. I'm not really disturbed by the spectacle as much as I'm curious why this individual chose to haunt such a drab corner of a fairly untidy room. Tastes vary, sure, but I guess the old saying says it best, "It takes all kinds."

So I write hunched over a keyboard, glaring at a loud flat screen display wishing I could think-write the shit that builds up in my head. No such luck today. The projection of thought leads to a slight headache or a need to use the facilities. I'll try again tomorrow after I've freshened my resolve.

I find those greater than or equal to five years younger than myself to be completely, irredeemably repulsive and worthy of much scorn and condescension. The real trouble with this feeling is that it surfaces often as I'm currently a full-time student surrounded by such people. Pain has apparently become my hobby because I find ways, both consciously and subconsciously, to inflict it upon myself. I think I'll start poking kids with needles so they stay away. You say share the love, I say why not the pain, too.

A bat moves in such an unfamiliar way that my naive human brain wants to call it unnatural. There's nothing more natural actually. My ignorance shames me, and the gliding shadow that mocks me from the its orbit around my kitchen light feels pity, I'm sure. I'm glad I showed that smug little shit the door.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Intimidating education and a week flying by

Well, I'm now at the beginning of yet another year of college. Let's see, I've been in college off and on since the Fall of 2003 and I've only earned an Associate's Degree. I feel like the bottom of the failure pile, much like a garbage pile, where all the juicy essence of failure pools. I'm steeping in a pool of suck, swelling whilst I absorb so much hideous mediocrity.

Anyway, while I combat the semester and take in the joy of reading text from Old English up into Early Modern English I continue to trim and edit the story I so recently completed. So far my attempts to get opinions of the story have resulted in phone calls without return from my grandparents, useless suggestions from non-writers who I suppose feel that they are helping by telling me how they'd tell the story, and a wife who seems to be the only one impressed. Let's hope after a week or two more of working on it I can send it off and get a real editor to give a look-see.

Oh, well. I sigh as I type for sighing is the only way I feel relief throughout the day. Till next time!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A story over 4,200 words....

I am proud to confess that I have just today completed a draft of a new short story. I'm ashamed to admit thought that it is my first story greater than four thousand words. I hope that this won't be the last.

My process now that I have completed the thing will consist of a draft or two more through the editing process and then it will be off to a selection of magazines potentially willing to publish such material. My excitement is great at this prospect and my hope is that if I can find success, perhaps gain purchase on the mountainside of publishing then I can hopefully make a life writing. I can think of nothing greater to do with the rest of my time.

The story itself is a sort of macabre fantasy bordering the horrific. It deals with a writer's hope, the willingness to commit oneself to the unknown for a chance at something great, and what might lie beyond humanity's understanding of existence. I'm afraid that in the writing of this story I spent too much time absorbing the works of H.P. Lovecraft for my own good. I suppose I'll leave that for the reader to decide. Another influence, though one I'm less hesitant to credit, was the Danse Macabre of Charles Camille Saint-Saƫns. That piece easily, as I suppose it should, brought up visions of the dealings of the dead.

Here's to hope and a possible future as a writer. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In the Road

I know not how it happened or what I did indeed witness. All I know is what I experienced this night while on my way to buy supplements to what promised to be a delicious meal.

It was while I was crossing a bridge into a dark and heavily wooded section of road that I saw the thing. Now, I don't claim to know anything beyond an ordinary man's knowledge of the sciences, nor did I imbibe, especially not to excess, before I placed myself behind my vehicle's wheel. The moment and my sense's memory of that moment were pure and, in the most complete of honesty, true.

My headlights swept the road from left to right in the turn and there above a small puddle, illuminated by the weakening beam of my struggling machine was what could have been described as a man had it not the face of something so completely horrific that the recollection sends tremors through my being to cause my very soul to shiver. It had eyes, more than the standard two one would expect of a creature that transported itself in bipedal fashion. Below what I can only refer to as a cluster of seeing, peering orbs was a long and dangling series of finger-like tentacles that seemed to slither all the more at the shining of light.

Before I could stop or escape the confines of my seat belt and then my door the thing bolted off with tremendous haste and massive gate into the brush. I stood there for some time staring at its point of exit wondering if it might venture back out. It was a short while after that an officer of the law stopped to question my halted automobile. Saying nothing for fear of alarming the policeman and proving a danger to myself I explained that I was afraid I had almost hit a deer. At that he nodded and was gone.

I drove straight home neglecting the portion of a then long-forgotten meal and pondered my queer discovery all the way back. I sit here now listening to the night beyond my window with a ghost of the vision of that hideous yet intriguing thing. Do the crickets in their chirping compliment its passage through the warm and seemingly placid Summer night? I wonder.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An age undreamed of...a Tuesday at the movies

My wife stated very clearly that she had no desire to see the new Conan the Barbarian film. Bearing that in mind I waited and chose not to see it on its opening day or through the following weekend so that I could be a good husband and spend time with her. Finally, on a Tuesday morning at 11:15am my patience was rewarded as I sunk into a cozy chair in a dark, sparsely populated theater and waited to see the epic and enchanting world of Robert E. Howard translated once again through the magic of the silver screen.

Conan the Barbarian is a literary wonder that was crafted by a man, some say a mad man, in the rural areas of an early twentieth century Texas. Mr. Robert E. Howard, a tough guy, a word-smith with a typewriter set before his story teller's hand clicked out the pages which detailed the adventures of an ancient world hero as that hero fought his way through showers of blood and hordes of foes both of flesh and of magic to wear a gleaming crown upon his troubled brow. In the few years Howard wrote Conan he managed to tell a gripping tale of a barbarian who lived by his wit and sword and rose from a blood-stained pup of battle to a mighty king. He wrote about action and adventure, but in the telling of his tales he gave us a complex character that would endure the test of time to still be admired as a titan of fiction today. It is that character which attracted the ever roving eye of Hollywood which sought to tell their version of his epic on the big screen. After seeing an Austrian body builder lumber around answering to Howard's character's name in a ghost of a shadow of the world of that pulp warrior we come to the August 19, 2011 release of yet another film version of the incredible Cimmerian.

I went in to this film expecting a mish-mash of elements pulled from the comic book days of the character and the previous films (the trailers certainly weren't encouraging). What I ended up seeing was a movie that in many ways captured the spirit of Howard's work while crafting a new and unique tale. This was a Hyborian Age recreated by folks who have obviously cracked a book and read the stories, but it was also a Hyborian Age that was designed for a film version of a classic literary character. There are names and locations pulled right from the source material, but there are also new events in the world's history and major characters written solely for this screen tale. In the end the movie overall felt like a writer who understood the character and the Sword and Sorcery genre took Howard's world and told his own pulp adventure. In other words the events of this film would fit well on the pulpy pages of Weird Tales or some other wonderful adventure rag of yesterday.
The character of Conan was, in my opinion, faithfully portrayed by actor Jason Momoa and he was developed with a convincing and fair method from his boyhood in the movie's beginning to his riding off into the wild distance at the movie's end by the creative team in charge of story development. Instead of garbled, accent-tainted speech (Schwarzenegger) and a character who quested for very basic and almost meaningless reasons this film instead gave us a Conan who was dedicated, thoughtful, clever, and powerful. Momoa did a wonderful job playing a man who was born on the battlefield, lived a life on the edges of the civilized world, and traveled with a variety of peoples whose skills and trades ranged from thievery to sailing. When his Conan grinned before a blow or in response to the word's of an enemy or ally I saw a grin that went back to the mind of Robert E. Howard and off the pages of so many old adventure mags.

The quality of the story was fair. It's safe to say that this was not the best film I ever saw and certainly was not the worst. It just was. I really feel that this was nothing more than a typical attempt to write a Howard-like action film. It didn't fall apart but it did fall short of being something massive. We were indeed given bestial men, since in the Hyborian Age one could see various peoples from various stages in human evolution. We also saw mysterious and dangerous beasts, and there was even some eldritch power wielded by a Rose McGowan that reminded me of why I don't like her in anything. The only thing really missing was the occasional horror experienced by the character when he stumbled upon something beyond his common experience. This movie could have used a moment where Conan was confronted with a Lovecraftian-type entity, but maybe that's just me wishing that things were exactly as they were written.
Looking at other reviews I find that the common problems movie critics (folks who are actually paid to be picky nags, believe it or not) seem to have had are that the film is not at all like the Schwarzenegger pectoral-fests of the 80s and that the film is too gory and violent. For these folk I have but one suggestion and that is that they sit down and read a couple of the original Howard stories. Perhaps "Rogues in the House" or "The Phoenix on the Sword." Based on the words of specific critics like Roger Ebert and Mick LaSalle, I think my advice, should they be open-minded enough to heed it, would perhaps give them at least more perspective on the world and characters they witnessed from their posh screening rooms. Also, I'd be likely to just scream at them if they actually thought that holding this new version up to the 80s films was even a valid method of judging such an adaptation. Marcus Nispel was obviously trying to adapt literary fiction and not rehash or reboot an old movie franchise. I can understand how this could be difficult to grasp since a non-reboot is so not 2011, especially if you look at other titles being released this year and even into the next. The reviews I've recently read that I am referring to can be found through these links:

Every movie I see that is centered on a favorite literary or fictional character of mine gives me cause to have certain reactions. I refer to those reactions under the umbrella title of "Geek-Out Moments." In this film I found that I had several. One such moment arose when Artus, played by a cool, sea dog-type Nonso Anozie, boasted for Conan, while the pair sat amongst whores and thieves, about how he found the Cimmerian as a young thief in Zamora after he defeated the sorcerer Yara in the Tower of the Elephant. That reference both blew my mind and cemented the fact that Nispel and his creative crew were digging around in the writings of Howard. There were also moments when the cinematography seemed to emulate the beautiful yet rough artwork of Cary Nord who, along with Kurt Busiek, brought a new age to Conan comics for Darkhorse. I even had a shudder of a pre-nerdgasm when I understood from Morgan Freeman's narration that the story was taking place in the timeline of actual events in the life of Conan, shortly after his time with Belit and her crew and before he came to live among the Cossacks.
From the beginning of this movie to the end I found it to be a fun adventure tale which touched on all the basic elements of a Conan story with some alterations. It was definitely true to the spirit of the writings of Robert E. Howard. Overall I found this film's story to be just what it should be and that is entertaining.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My graphic novel collection

There's a shelf in my room that I look at often with warm eyes of fondness. It's stocked, I should say packed tight, only with my most cherished graphic novels. Gazing from left to right I can see my favorite titles beaming at me from the spines, perhaps beckoning me to pick them out. I almost always give in.

The collection that calls this shelf home consists of volumes of, in my opinion, some of the greatest comics to have ever been published. There's a hardcover collection of Dave Steven's Rocketeer, Mike Allred's Madman from the series' early Tundra days up to the end of the Darkhorse run, Bob Burden's Flaming Carrot and Mystermen, Mike Mignola's Hellboy, the newest Darkhorse series of Robert E. Howard's Conan, Eric Powell's The Goon, Ben Edlund's The Tick, Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the works of Alan Moore (V up to the most recent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen publication), James O'Barr's The Crow, select DC volumes of Batman (the works of Miller, Cooke, and Mazzucchelli), Superman for All Seasons, Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men, John Romita Sr's Amazing Spider-Man Visionaries volume one, Frank Miller's Daredevil Visionaries volume one, the complete Sandman series including Dream Hunters and the two Death graphic novels, David Petersen's Mouse Guard, a few volumes of Hellblazer, Craig Thompson's Blankets, and quite a few volumes of Jaime Hernandez's Love and Rockets.

Like I said, it's a full shelf. There are others in my collection that I enjoy, but the volumes listed are at the top of the list.

Time to excuse myself from writing as I dive into volume one of Mignola's Hellboy. Later!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

There's a city in there!

I've had reoccurring dreams of a sort that are only such because of their setting. What happens while I'm dreaming differs from night to night, but all of the action and interaction within the world of my subconscious seems to take place within a massive city. I have feared, somewhat irrationally, that if I began to talk about my experiences and the details of this metropolis of the subconscious I might lose my nightly connection. Based on what I've witnessed there and experienced, if only through my imagination, I couldn't let that happen.

So, I shall step away from probing my dream city and instead I shall write a bit about an idea it lent me for a story. This is a tale that will take some telling and may, if I be constant and confident, become my first manuscript for a novel. If I could bring this potential novel into being and prove to myself and those who have supported me that I can indeed finish a work I would then like to dedicate my life to the telling of stories and the writing of pieces of various types.

Now to step away from this Blog and actually start piecing together my maybe novel.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Follow up to the post about neighborhood construction

Here's an image of the water we get from our faucets during a day of active construction work on our street. We see this color of water for most of the morning and afternoon.

This is the bathtub.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Loud-colored vests and monster street is no longer my own

For the last month or two our city's construction fleet has slowly crawled down our street from about two blocks away to its current working position just to the right of our front door. This pack of filthy, noise-polluting varmints, in their gaily-colored construction vests, has maintained its habit of shuffling about tearing up pavement and felling beautiful, much-needed shade trees. They seem to have no concern for the environment they've been paid to "reformat" and that has greatly troubled me.

My real concern started naturally with a worry for future parking difficulties; a concern that is incredibly valid when one lives in a neighborhood where street parking is the only parking. As time went by though my concern altered its focus to the look and feel of our street. I'd grown used to large, overhanging shade trees with concentric circles of flowers around their bases, the uneven brick of the road that seems so unusual compared to the rest of the city that it really became a treat to behold, and all the green grass that grew up out of the failing of Winter and the triumphant rise of Spring. All that now has been replaced by massive, cacophonous, yellow machines acting as glorified shovels, mounds of sandy dirt, and the previously mentioned chorus of button pushers and shovel wielders.

If the quality of the area surrounding my abode wasn't enough of a concern, my wife and I have found that as these dirt-moving, machine pilots go about the business of defacing our local nature they are also troubling the water pipes that give us our much needed drinking and bathing water. It's quite a shock to wake up in the morning to prepare coffee and find that either the pressure of the water escaping the faucet has been drastically reduced or that the water flows just fine but has now taken on an ochre or dark brown shade. Cleaning sand out of one's sink basin or bathtub after making this discovery is enough to drive me down the stairs and out the door to fly, fist-first, into the face of the nearest neon-vested loon.

Frustrations aside, I count the days till harsher weather arrives and the diesel dig buckets are stored away. It's a shame that I must neglect the beauty of a season where comfortable clothes are acceptable and instead check off the calendar hoping for three to four feet of the white stuff. Sadly they continue to crawl closer and there are so many days left till winter. I wonder how eco-terrorists sabotage bulldozers?

Till next time, dear reader(s).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Here Comes Daredevil #1 - A Review

Of all the characters born and raised on the newsprint page among the panels and thought balloons Daredevil is not only unique but remarkable. He is a character that has had his story told by the best of the best in the comic book industry, and as one reads of his adventures and sees his development over the years one instantly understands that he deserves no less.

For those who have no knowledge of the comic book hero called Daredevil, please allow me to introduce you to Matthew Murdock. The son of famed boxer "Battlin' Jack Murdock," Matt grew up like most, idolizing his father, his hero. The senior Murdock taught Matt perseverance and the value of inner strength. He built a foundation in his boy that would support the eventual structure of a principled man who would fight all those who would wrong the innocent. This future as a man of importance and greatness would only come after losses that would further bolster the already sturdy personality behind the inevitable hero.

As a boy Matt saved a life, a heroic gesture, the first of many, that would cost him his sight. Diving in front of an oncoming truck he shoved a man out of the way only to find himself a target for the vehicle's dislodged cargo. In that moment of selfless bravery he was exposed to a radioactive capsule which stole his ability to see but not before it drastically enhanced his other four, spared senses. It was through his coping with this combination of impairment and hyper-sensitivity that the boy learned to apply his father's lessons in perseverance and overcome his lack of one sense and the oftentimes overwhelming response of the others.

After learning to function with this new way of perceiving the world around him Matt suffered another tragic loss. Refusing to throw a match for some insistent fixers, Jack Murdock was gunned down. The death of his hero, whose hopes were for Matt to ascend beyond the life of a prize-fighter to a far better existence, and the strength gained by conquering adversity drove him to apply himself through and out of school into the position of a lawyer. Now able to affect change in his new position on the side of law, Matt realized that another life would be necessary to combat the evils that robbed him of his father and forever changed his life. With purpose, principle, exceptional perception, and a complete lack of care for danger Matthew Murdock became the Man Without Fear. The Daredevil.

Now you know a bit more about this legendary character of the four-colored page who has had a publishing history of close to fifty years and is still going strong. The continuing strength is evident especially in the newest offering from the character's publisher, Marvel Comics. Penned by Mark Waid and illustrated by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin, "Here Comes Daredevil" is by far one of the most exciting new titles to come out of the House of Ideas. In the issue we find a Matthew Murdock who has made the choice to return to his life after a series of blows to his psyche and reputation. The world, thanks to the media, believes him to be the Daredevil, though he, naturally wishing to maintain his personal life, denies their claims.

The issue starts out with a bit of classic Daredevil acrobatics as he moves through a mob wedding to prevent a kidnapping attempted by a extra-dimensional adversary. From the cover, through this sequence, to the conversation he holds later in the issue with his law partner Foggy Nelson about his life's direction, we are given in a single issue a fair representation of what makes this character, this hero so fantastic.

One of the things about this issue that really pleased me was how the artist dealt with the setting. We are given a chance to see panels that show us what we who have sight commonly see. Then there are the panels which wonderfully represent Matt's "Radar Sense," which shows the world's shapes as a series of lines created as sound ripples over objects. This brilliant depiction of the character's shadow world, the fine artwork throughout the issue (stunning!), and the entertaining and effective words of scribe Waid deliver one of the best new comics in quite some time.

If you're looking to introduce someone to Daredevil, or if you're new and looking for a jumping on point, this is it. If you wish to research the few references to Matt's fairly recent troubling events, go for it. The wonderful thing is that this stand alone new series makes it so that you don't have to. Pick it up, enjoy it, and stay aboard for the ride through this new, incredible series!

I give it a 5 out of 5.

Species and Gender

When you refer to man are you referring to the species or the gender? Which of these is truly of the greater importance?
Surely the value of the species and the consideration of its importance mean more than something flimsy such as the socially constructed concept of gender. Granted there are biological differences, but why must society brand folk for the result of their development?

This is not to say that the biological properties of gender are meaningless. Without the biological components that define gender how would we procreate and maintain the species? Even though this is the case, should we allow our biological make up alone to dictate our existence?

Surely we live in a time of fools where the species of man is so busy sectioning its imagined domains, imposing the pointless values of an obsolete ideal, that it fails to see the importance of the greater truth beyond. That truth might perhaps show that regardless of design we are who we are and may act as we please. Therein lies the true value to the species. Freedom of and for the species in all things.

Some thoughts for an
early, hazy Saturday morning.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hey, World....Some Ideas I Have for You!

If only mankind would take at least the next 50 years to convert all jobs, industries, and efforts to restoring nature, increasing dwindling wildlife populations, and combating the carbon output of the last century. That way we'd all have jobs, our planet would heal, and our future would be secure.

Instead here we are worrying about the next best cellphone/social network/media all-in-one hybrid to hit the market or some airhead bitch with a baby's nickname who may or may not be an incredibly active whore. We spend our time adding waste. Our oceans, basically something so vast and powerful we thought we'd never be able to put a dent in it, are suffering as various sea life populations take a severe drop. If that's not a sign that we're in a downward spiral I don't know what is.

Then there are so many aimless college kids out there who are just pursuing dead ends because they come from a generation that believes in the illusion of security no matter what. We should be leading these kids, teaching them the right directions and perspectives. We should be teaching them about perspective period. These kids with bullshit aspirations and no actual drive could do so much working jobs that would help our world. Why is this group being lied to and led to a great big dead end? They're an undisciplined, much-neglected resource.

Also, the bully majority is controlled by a group of religious (meaning they're less likely to function with reason than they are to make shit up and go with that instead), upper class baby boomers. These are people who feel that they'll never be under threat of extinction or destruction because they've held their status and control for so long. They think that it doesn't matter that we damn today because that imaginary humanoid from above will just come back and make it all better in an eventual tomorrow.

Basically these people prove that they should be utterly destroyed without mercy. They're a cancer. They should be treated with the same disregard they show our world, our species, and the other species we share this world with.

With all that in mind I'll just say that mankind is incredibly stupid. I can't be alone in thinking these things. Why aren't people like me being heard? Perhaps if I re-read this post I'll have answered my own question. Damn it!

How Dare I?

Tonight my ancestors bellow from shadowed hills highlighted by the yellowed moon's glow. They demand justice be done upon me for my transgressions. My blood will soon run in the chill night. Those entombed specters will have their cravings sated.

Brutal customs shall be honored as age old rites are performed. Bones shall lighten as they lie in the loam with a relief felt by their evicted souls who shall glut themselves on a descendants' failings.

The chains shall circle about me. The doors shall be closed. I shall be torn asunder.

Mourn me not.


If only I hadn't said that a Renaissance Faire was of greater importance than churchgoing on a Sunday morn. If only. Then maybe I would be spared the hunger of my past, the feral cravings of the fathers of my blood.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Moon Knight #1 - A Review

Sadly I don't know very much about the Marvel Comics character Moon Knight. I've picked up issues here and there for years but never bothered to learn about the hero's backstory. So here I am having read the new Moon Knight #1.

Unlike most comic-reading folk I know, I don't go crazy for artist/writer team ups. I'm not incredibly impressed by that many popular, fan-favorite talents in the industry. For example, Bendis and Maleev were the headliners for this issue. I have never quite understood the fanboy's love of Bendis and I still don't. Alex Maleev had some incredible work on Daredevil, but this time around I felt his work lacked what I enjoyed during his run with The Man Without Fear. So I'm not going to go any further with throwing creator names around while I review the book.

I appreciate the way the issue opened and how that opening set the scene for this run of the character's story. It both set the reader up with an idea of who this man was and who he has become. There's also an Avengers connection early on in the issue that seems typical for any book in Marvel. Take any Marvel title and have it's main character meet up with the Avengers on a rooftop somewhere exchanging witty banter. From what I gather this has become a rather common occurrence, especially for stories written by this title's writer. It's only after the action of this story plays out that you realize there's nothing typical about this book at all.

I won't spoil anything about the story, the character, or the approach the creative team seems to have taken with this new run. All I'll say is that nothing is as it seems and that last page leaves you either wondering or, if you're perceptive enough (having taken a good look at the cover), it leaves you with a chill. It was that final bit that made the issue worth picking up. The rest I found to be blah. There are better ways to pull readers into a new run. This seems like a half-hearted approach. There's too much of that to be any good for the current comic industry. I'm giving Moon Knight #1 a 3 out of 5.

Silver Surfer: Limited Series #1 (Pak, Segovia, Olazaba, and Quintana) - A Review

When I was but a young boy my uncle took me to a local comic book shop near my great grandmother's home in West Palm Beach, FL. It was there that I was allowed to pick out my first superhero comic book, after having been raised on Disney comics, ALF, and whatever Sunday strips my grandma would pass my way. My final decision came down to a choice between either an issue of Superman: The Man of Steel or Silver Surfer. I went with Superman because I'd already seen the Max Fleischer cartoons and wanted more. I never quite got over neglecting my friend Norrin Radd though.

Skip to this last Sunday at a local comic book shop where I discovered Marvel's new limited series featuring the beloved Silver Sufer. This cosmic marvel has always fascinated me. If I could go back to that day in Florida long ago I think I would have ditched the mulleted boy scout and gone with the Herald of Galactus instead (no hair, no mullet, no problem). This is the second limited Surfer series I've started reading, the last dealing with a crack in his cosmic skin or something (I'd have to dig it out and reread it). I wonder why Marvel can't commit to a new ongoing series? Sales numbers are the real decision makers, I guess.

Anyway, I finished reading my new issue this afternoon, issue #1. It starts off at the end of some story line I've neglected to read I'm sure, where the Surfer brings his master, the mighty world-eater Galactus, the energy of a sun shortening it's life by a billion years. He's troubled by this, and through his inner monologue we read of his thoughts and regrets. That's something about the board-riding powerhouse I've always appreciated. He never does something without being mindful of the consequences.

As the issue progresses, and as he waits for the severly weakened Galactus to recover, the Surfer decides to visit Earth. He ends up in a region of Mexico where he sees two lovers brutally attacked by some high-powered combat team. He interferes and yadda, yadda. You want more detail? Read the issue. The last page is what got me. It's what will, I'm sure, get you. It's why I'll be rushing back for the next four issues to find out the answer to my panicked question, "What the HELL?!"

This issue, considering the artwork and story, will be given a cosmic 4 out of 5. Check it out!

FF (Future Foundation) #1 & #2 - A Review

Lately I've been avoiding new comics. When stopping in at my local comic book shop (Apparitions Comics or Argos Books) I usually dive right into the back issue boxes and try to dig up old goodies. There's just not much that impresses me on the new shelf.

I will occasionally break this habit and peruse the new releases, only rarely picking something up. Recently I've grabbed IDW's awesome Rocketeer Adventures and surprisingly even Marvel's FF. It is the later that has prompted this little review.

Whenever a staple character dies, and this happens a lot in comics, I kind of get pissed off, even if I don't read that character's book. Steve Rogers was the last character death that actually got to me. I just really enjoy the character of Captain America. They, of course, brought him back (also common in comics). That's fine. Though when Johnny Storm recently got himself deceased an irritation boiled up in the back of my mind. Apparently, unlike Steve Rogers, Johnny's death was gruesome and seemed to be VERY final. This tragedy drew me in.

Due to my passing curiousity and feelings toward the death of the Human Torch I, as I previously mentioned, picked up the first two issues of FF (post-Johnny Fantastic Four, retitled Future Foundation). It's surprises me now after reading them how much I want to continue with this title. We have a new world in this series where the look of the old family has changed, enemies are becoming strange allies of a sort, and friendlies are being added to the team. So far the series feels like it's about a super science version of Xavier's School with a little Spidey wit tossed in for comic relief (Spider-Man being invited in per Johnny's final request). There are great character moments tossed in that give you an idea of how the original FF members are viewing their changing lives. That's really what stood out for me in my reading of the issues.

It's still very early and I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say that if you enjoy old Fantastic Four and the idea of a team of super brains solving superhero problems, check it out. I give it, so far, a 4 out of 5.

Geek Lantern - A Subculture's Failing

I've witnessed time and again geeks blowing up about the lack of dedication held by various comic films to their source material. Never mind that these folks fail to realize that there's a great difference between source material and adaptation. The adaptation must stand on it's own. Apparently this is a difficult concept for geeks to grasp.

Tonight I saw the film adaptation of Green Lantern. If anything this film stayed true to the comics, taking little turns here and there for sake of story and the film's own identity. I thought, after sitting through it and the credits (where a neat, inevitable event occurs), that it was overall a fun comic book movie. I'm not going to compare it to other comic book films. I'm not going to compare it to the best of the comic book's story lines. All I'll say is that the film managed to tell a good story while introducing us to pieces of a much larger universe. The characters were decent, the action was appropriate, and all the boundaries set down in the film around what certain things could and couldn't do were respected by the movie overall. The one issue I had dealt with a specific scene that I thought, for sake of story and character, could have been arranged differently, but I refuse to let that moment soil the full film experience.

It seems to me that geeks, no matter what you give them or how palatable you make it, have to tear shit apart. I've met very few geeks that are completely pleased with their passions and display commendable amounts of common sense in avoiding what they don't like. Unfortunately most geeks I know feel that their opinion is needed and that it must be used as a tool to curb creators to their tastes. Like anyone actually gives a damn. I prefer to try something to get a feel for it. I'll take it in, think it over, and then decide if I want to stick with it or abandon it. I understand passion driving one to become obnoxiously preachy about their feelings, but I'm trying (and I'd urge my fellow geeks to join me) to calm that part of me.

A certain clip from the film was passed around the internet before the actual film was released. It stirred up some geek ignorance which was accompanied by geek rantings. I've read judgements of an entire film based upon a short clip. This is not only ridiculous, it is incredibly disappointing. After seeing the film I must say that I now hold less respect for the opinions of those who slandered or libeled something based on a great lack of knowledge.

So to conclude I'll restate that this film is enjoyable and I would encourage fans to give it a shot. If you like it go with it. If you don't like it, stay away. Don't judge something when uninformed, don't use your opinions to obnoxiously attempt to bully people with your opinions, especially those who don't really listen to you, and learn to appreciate something based on what it offers instead of what it's supposed to offer based on source material or whatever else came before but is in relation to it.

Enjoy your comics. Enjoy your films. Be more open-minded. (This was written not to just berate people but to hopefully touch on the need for, and show the importance of, informed opinions instead of uninformed rants)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sharp Stabs from Life

Whoever said "Life is pain" truly knew what they were talking about.

I've made a horrible discovery. It's information I wanted to have as soon as it should have been given to me, but something I had to wait and find for myself in the most painful way possible.

Perhaps I'm a fool who doesn't really understand how to function in life and what is or is not acceptable. Maybe my frustration and fear is invalid and I'm reacting in the worst way possible.

Perhaps I'm right to take this new discovery and burn in my own hatred and anger over it. I can feel my heart aching and burning. I can't tell if it's the pain of my new found knowledge or if it's the pain my body feels when I rage.

The life I was working towards, the life I thought I was living fairly comfortably, is no more. How do I approach the future? Where do I go from here?

The path to self-destruction, after all I've had to endure up to and including this, has never been more inviting. I'd like to set the world on fire and roll around in the embers after all is nothing more than fiery coals.

Perhaps I'll destroy myself. Perhaps I'll save myself. The future as always is uncertain, more so now than ever before.