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September: Starstruck [Fukubukuro 2011]
Jan 12th, 2012 by Dan

The easiest way to blow my mind is to be artistically proficient. I’ve met very few actual professional artists, but that’s partly because the thought of talking to them just leaves me completely tongue-tied and nervous. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, since they’re people just like me, but the things they have the ability to do just seem like superpowers.

David can attest to a time that we went to Megacon when I was still in high school and I failed to meet Fred Gallagher because I was too shy and he’d left before I had the courage to try to say hello.

Determined to overcome that fear, I grabbed Min and we went down to Small Press Expo (SPX) to meet Anthony Clark of Nedroid, Jonathan Rosenberg of Scenes From a Multiverse, Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant, and Roger Langridge of Thor: The Mighty Avenger and Snarked. I was quite lucky to not really know where anyone was or what anyone looked like, so I was able to muster up the courage to talk to these guys while Min and I wandered and searched. The moment of truth arrived when we found the TopatoCo booth where Anthony Clark and Jonathan Rosenberg were stationed.

I tried to keep it cool as I asked about the procedure for sketches and books and posters, but I was just blown away by the fact that I was talking to Anthony Clark. This is the guy who draws the bizarre, but hilarious comics that have me rolling on the floor with laughter (*your response may be different than mine), but here I was complimenting his work and trying to shoot the shit without looking like a total freak.

The funny thing is, these guys, Anthony, Jonathan, and Roger, are all no different, really. They’re more famous than I’ll ever be, but, just to look at them, they looked totally normal (and kind of tired. It was the last day of the show) and they acted/responded in totally normal (and hilarious) ways.

I had a lot of fun chatting with those guys and getting their signatures. If there was any downside, it was that Roger Langridge’s handlers shooed him away from me mid-conversation to someone who was buying something. It makes business sense, but it was kind of an asshole thing to do. I had purchased issues of his work in my hands, so I was an indirect customer at one point.

In an ideal world I would be able to say that I’ve overcome my fears of talking to (very) minor celebrities, but I know that’s not the case. I know I’d act just as idiotic if I were to meet some rookie prospect or an actor or a musician. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out, but for now I’ve just gotta walk around and muster up courage to be able to do it.

PS: I didn’t see Kate Beaton anywhere. There’s a chance that I spoke to her, but didn’t realize it was her when I tried to buy her (sold out) book.

Small Press Expo (SPX) 2009: Nedroid's Anthony Clark

Anthony Clark signing (Photo courtesy Futuregirl_LeahRiley)

What I’ve Been Doing 19 Sept 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 19th, 2011 by Dan

Gears of War 3 - "Ashes to Ashes" trailer screenshots

"Shit"

It may look like I’m insulting Gears, but I’m really not. That’s legitimately the closest those guys come to eloquence most games. They’re fantastic games, but their stories are fundamentally idiotic.

Movies

Thor – I’m pretty sure that complaining about blatant product placement in a movie was last interesting five years ago, but I found the Southwest Airlines advertising in Thor to be too much. Did not like. The movie itself was cool, although Natalie Portman’s character had nothing to do but be a pretty damsel. Don’t get me wrong, she’s good at that, but I wouldn’t have minded her being more active (like Peggy in Captain America). Her portrayal of Jane was true to Thor: The Mighty Avenger, aside from her career, so at least there’s that. I hope she comes back for The Avengers (and that The Avengers is good).

Adaptation – Charlie Kaufman (of Being John Malkovich fame) really kind of cheats here in a movie screenplay that we’ve all just thought about handing in, but that is ultimately kind of lazy on a spectacular level. On the other hand, it’s not too much unlike the New Yorker articles it’s quasi-about where the writer is as much a part of the story as the story (in that Gonzo/New Journalism kind of way). Adaptation is postmodern and deconstructionalist and it works best when it’s not pointing out how obvious it is that Kaufman’s doing this (see the obnoxious callback to McKee and voiceover in its final voiceover), but it’s a clever movie that’s more interesting that it ever should be. If you’re really bored this can entertain you, but this movie about writing a movie strains interest. Perhaps if it was written a little better?

TV

Weeds – About two weeks too late I called that this season is all about Silas and Nancy and it became truly obvious now. It’s funny how the Botwin lines have been drawn since the Lars revelation last season. I can see trouble starting in a lot of directions for Nancy, so I wonder if the payoff this year will be worth it, because I’m not seeing it yet.

Top Gear – Didn’t finish the episode!

Archer – So funny this week! This three-episode mini got off to a great start. Can’t wait for the rest of it next week. The jokes about Rip Riley being a 1930s relic were absolutely hilarious.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Yep, these guys are still the worst people in existence. Loved the closing scene with abandoning the prostitute in the hallway, even if it was shockingly terrible. I don’t think the “Mac gains 50 pounds” gag is working yet.

Parks and Recreation – Finished rewatching S3 with Min this week. So great! “Calzones are useless. No one likes them.”

Music

Even more Wild Flag – I think I’ve hit my threshold with obsessively listening to this new release. I’ve got tickets to see them in October, so I can’t wait.

Books

Collected Stories – Still no stories not obsessing with death. Still interesting in a surreal, well-written way. Still tough to read.

(THAR BE COMICS BELOW!)

Batwoman – Not sure if this was the best book of the week or Daredevil was, but it was certainly the prettiest. J. H. Williams III’s art was astounding. I’m so in for this new book.

Amazing Spider-Man – Still enjoying Spider-Island, even if this book was relatively mediocre. Stage 2 mutations begin!

Ultimate Comics Spider-ManThe new Spider-Man is Miles Morales. I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to see where this goes. It was surprisingly well done and unique from Peter Parker’s story.

Spider-Island: Herc – This book was terrible. What a waste of time. If you want a good Silver Age-style story, read Thor: The Mighty Avenger instead.

Spider-Island: Spider-Girl – Middling. When you’ve only got three issues, you can’t waste the first one because then your second and third will feel rushed. This felt kind of rushed.

Daredevil – Still the best book, all-around, that Marvel is putting out. Loved it and I loved the way that the sound villain was integrated with Daredevil’s sound “vision” for ludonarrative resonance. Great stuff.

Nedroid Read the first printed collection that Anthony Clark signed and sketched in. Super funny stuff. I love Nedroid.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – I’m up to 210 achievements in this. I think I’ve got 169 to go! Can’t believe how much I play this game nowadays, it’s so good! Loving the way that the new trading systems are integrated with Steam. It might even get me playing Spiral Knights at Min’s behest.

Gears of War 2 – Min and I beat it this weekend. As I said before, the story is idiotic while the gameplay is mostly solid. Hey game devs: the parts where you make us drive tanks or ride Reavers and stuff are stupid. Torque bow enemies are also assholes. Min and I spent an hour clearing this one room because we kept getting shot with arrows. Ian was also over on Saturday for a marathon session that was lots of fun. Can’t wait for Gears of War 3. I’ve always felt that I’d missed the boat with the releases so now I’ll get the chance to be “in it” for the co-op campaigns and maybe a little Horde/Beast multiplayer. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

What I’ve Been Doing 1 Aug 2011 [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Aug 1st, 2011 by Dan

FLCL

My favorite cosplay from the con

Otakon was this weekend, but my stolen camera prevented me from photographing any of the cosplay. The example above was taken by Eric.

This week was comic book heavy. There was a huge sale at Eric’s shop that I took advantage of along with some Amazon orders to finish off small runs of series I was reading.

Movies

Barney’s Version – It’s weird to see movies prominently set in Canada. This Can-Lit adaptation is pretty good. I can see why Paul Giamatti won a Golden Globe for this. Again, solid, but not great. I think this one was probably better as a book.

Be Kind Rewind – I liked Eternal Sunshine, so I figured I’d give this Michel Gondry film a try. It’s another passable movie. It’s got heart, which I love, and Jack Black not Jack Black-ing it up too hard, which I also love, but, and this may just be me, Mos Def’s earnestness came off more like he might be developmentally challenged, not sincere. Not a terrible way to spend 102 minutes, but not the best way either.

TV

Better Off Ted – I thought this show was really funny when it was on. It still is, but I can also totally see why it was canceled. Not bad for when I want to watch something no streaming when I’m eating a meal or something.

Weeds – This season has been really good! I love how much this show evolves and I actually dig the new NYC setting. I’m interested in where this Doug plotline is going (for once!) and I’m also impressed by how much Hunter Parrish is killing it yet again as Silas. This week also brought back a character from the early seasons, which is part of what makes this show so great. There’s an established past that can be referred to even though the present keeps evolving…you know, like real life.

Books

One of Our Thursdays is MissingA REAL BOOK?! Yep! The Thursday Next series has always been remarkably funny and clever to a sneaky degree. Sure, some knowledge of literature is assumed, but it’s mostly stuff that any educated person would come across naturally. Any other gaps can be filled by Wikipedia. Funny in a way that books rarely are anymore, this one is really pulling me in.

Slaughterhouse Five – Still making progress, but sidelined by OoOTiM (see above), this story remains one of my favorites.

Daytripper – Twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá created this fantastic, beautiful, somber series about the important moments that define our lives. Like real life, they frame the beautiful with the somber. Each issue is framed with the death of the protagonist, an obituary writer for part of his life, and an obit about where his life is when he “died”. Beautiful art, good writing, and a plot that is deep and engaging while remaining light and digestible.

Air – A series that’s supposedly acclaimed, but whose premise falls entirely flat to me. It’s about a stewardess who is afraid of heights and shadowy conglomerations trying to get air technology that doesn’t use oil. Just…boring. I didn’t really like the art either. Really did not resonate with me.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger – Finished off the eight-issue (over WAY too soon) run of the delightful and excellent series by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee. Fantastic lines, beautiful art, and light, happy dialog that reminds us our heroes don’t have to be angsty or violent to be interesting. It’s just sweet and fun and if you don’t like it, it’s entirely possible that your heart has turned to stone.

Amazing Spider-Man – I gave the book another try after thoroughly disliking #665. The latest, #666, remains far too wordy and doesn’t let the characters or art breathe, but I also read some back issues around where Peter joins the FF that were absolutely delightful. More importantly, they were funny. That’s what Spider-Man books are all about. Sure, there’s plenty of Peter angsting and brooding, but there should also be jokes. Funny jokes! I’m on-board for Spider Island (or, should I say, #SpiderIsland (no, don’t ever say that))! Hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Ultimate Fallout – The book lost a little focus and fun this issue between Tony Stark’s mystery rich people secret society and Kitty’s angst (overusing that word today, I know), but I still enjoyed the writing of the latter while I was intrigued by Jean Grey and The Hulk. Not the best issue, but I can’t wait for the reveal of the new (Ultimate) Spider-Man in this week’s book.

Irredeemable – This book continues to get better and better. I’m all caught up in continuity and I’m just loving the drama and struggles between The Plutonian and the remaining, surviving heroes. The most recent issue had quite the cliffhanger as the end of the arc, which is disappointing to me only in that my favorite character may be out of the story for a few issues. Mark Waid’s book remains one of my favorite reads at the moment.

Incorruptible – The companion piece to Irredeemable has the world’s worst supervillain reforming and becoming a superhero after witnessing The Plutonian’s mass murder/destruction of Sky City. Max Damage (dumb name, I know) is initially clueless about being a hero, but his development (and the addition of Alana Patel, The Plutonian’s ex-girlfriend, to his cast) makes for a really interesting story. I love the unstable partners (Jailbait and Headcase) and the recovering alcoholic police lieutenant on his side. Irredeemable has a grander scale and a more interesting ensemble, but Incorruptible’s more focused nature makes for an equally interesting character study. I wish the two intersected a little more, but it’s not the biggest problem.

FF and Fantastic Four: Dark Reign – Guess what? I like Jonathan Hickman’s writing. You’ll see more of that later on in this blog, but I enjoy it. FF is currently mired in some backstory that has me intrigued, but most fans bored, while the old issues I read in Dark Reign were funny, satisfying, and tied in nicely with later Fantastic Four/FF books.

Ultimate Fantastic Four – Nearly done with my run through this series. Main continuity beats it in terms of quality, but the situations inherent to the Ultimate Universe are still interesting.

Secret Warriors – More Hickman, this time writing about Nick Fury exiled from SHIELD. Makes sense why he started the Brotherhood of the SHIELD book, but I’m wondering now if the two are related, especially since HYRDA called themselves “The Spear” in an early issue of this book. I’d love for Hickman to just revamp the Marvel universe’s perceptions of SHIELD and, considering the huge revelation of this book’s first issue, I’d say he probably succeeded at that. Yet another book for me to collect!

Moon Knight – Bendis’ attempt to revive the oft-canceled series about a multiple personality disorder superhero has been remarkably good. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but I doubt you can be disappointed with the first two issues of this. I haven’t read beyond that (there’s one more), but it’s a lot of fun. I’m digging it.

Cowboy Ninja Viking – Just trying to finish off the book. Two volumes. Most certainly canceled due to lack of sales, but not with enough lead time to get a satisfying conclusion. I really feel like the second set of issues didn’t deliver on the fun promised by the first five.

Morning Glories – I get such flashes of Lost every time I read this book, which is a good thing. Sure, the whole “violence at a prep school” thing has been done to death, but it’s quite interesting here in this context. I’m at the edge of my seat wanting to find out what will happen next issue.

Wolverine/Deadpool One-Shot – The first story in this book was funny, involving Deadpool, Wolverine, cross-dressing, and a robot, but the second story was a little too madcap and stupid.

Y: The Last Man – The reread continues after much delay! I really dig this story and how well it deals with the post-apocalyptic aftermath of the elimination of the Y chromosome.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – I’m tantalizingly close to realizing my Scout achievement goal of 2004 kills (3/4 of the way there is closer than you’d think!). Getting back into this game was definitely a shock to me.

Catherine – The central conflict of this game is choosing responsible, bossy Katherine or impulsive, immature Catherine. It’s impossible to go into this game without any baggage (unless you’ve never dated anyone) and mine is screaming out at me every time I play this game. Sure, I abhor cheating, but Katherine’s bossiness and smothering, maternal nature reminds me so much of my Ex that I can’t stand her character. Throw in tons of blatant (and subtle) masculine/feminine symbolism and Freudian levels of horror and fear toward women and you’ve got a game that is more interesting to think about than to play. The block puzzles are neat, but they’re not doing it for me. Probably doesn’t help that I’m not very good at them either…

What I’ve Been Doing [FB/IB/BT/GO]
Jul 25th, 2011 by Dan

Arte de Chris Samnee para Thor: The Mighty Avenger 4. O Deus do Trovão se estranha com o Capitão Britânia.

So glad I found this at my local Borders. An absolute delight to read. I'm keeping my eye on Langridge and Samnee

Movies:

Gentlemen Broncos – Netflix told me. It said, “Dan, you’re not gonna like this movie. Two Stars.” I said, “WHAT DO YOU KNOW, NETFLIX?! YOU DON’T OWN ME!” and then Gentlemen Broncos arrived and it was terrible. I didn’t really dig Jared Hess’ work on Napoleon Dynamite, but it was still funny. Broncos has all of Hess’ excesses without any balance. I watched it at 1.5 speed so I could still hear the dialogue, but be done with the movie faster. Don’t watch it.

Wet Hot American Summer – Saw this a long time ago. Didn’t really dig it. Heard Marc Maron talk with one of the creators about how it was the 10th anniversary this year. Since I last saw it I’ve gone a little deeper into the rabbit hole of comedy nerdiness and I actually liked it a lot more this time. There’s a lot of genuinely funny comedy in here, especially the intentionally bad comic near the end.

El secreto de sus ojos – Another rewatch, this time with Min. One of my all-time favorites.

Star Trek – Min and I went to see Captain America and he told me he never saw the remake. Naturally I figured we’d remedy that and Netflix’s giant Star Trek deal came to the rescue. Netflix Instant quality is way terrible for how great Star Trek should have looked, but it’s still a really fantastic movie. I also was looking out for lens flare this time. I’d noticed it before, but now that I was looking for it…HOLY COW. They need to tone that down a bit!

Captain America: The First Avenger – Better than I thought it would be. Aside from a few nitpicks here and there, the best action movie I saw this summer. There’s a lot of earnestness and honesty in Chris Evans’ Cap that makes this movie work. Stay until after the credits. You won’t be sorry (DISCLAIMER: You might be sorry).

TV:

The League – A little more of this. Finished off season 1. It was good to get a little background into season 2. Still very juvenile and silly, but a fun diversion.

Weeds – This season is only three episodes old, but they’ve really been fantastic. Post-prison Nancy has got some secrets up her sleeve that I know we haven’t had a chance to see. Her struggles with her son and sister are dramatic gold and I’m loving everything this season is bringing to the table.

Books:

Slaughterhouse Five – Rereading one of my favorite books. It’s quite good. Vonnegut’s talent for reducing things to the absurd is at its best with Billy Pilgrim. I love Vonnegut’s humanist ways and anti-war leanings. He’s a literary hero of mine.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger – I don’t really care for Thor. He’s kind of silly. However, everywhere I looked people were telling me that this mini-series was fantastic. Thanks to Borders’ going out of business sale, I picked up part 1 (of 2) of this book and I’m really quite amazed. Roger Langridge’s writing hearkens back to the Golden/Silver Age of comics where heroes didn’t have to be brooding, angsty messes without getting too corny. The relationship between Thor and Jane is so sweet that it’s a joy to read. On top of that, Chris Samnee’s art is just perfect. It’s got that old-school look of innocence and purity that works when you’re writing about a Norse god.

Morning Glories – Nick Spencer’s series was described to me as Lost meets Runaways. Those kinds of x-meets-y descriptions don’t always bear fruit, but this one seems to work. It’s dark, violent, and horrific with a hint that there’s all kinds of intrigue in the pipe. If Spencer’s got a good plan, this could be really great. I’m liking it so far and the first trade paperback is only $10

Irredeemable – Another series with some acclaim, Irredeemable is about a Superman-like hero going ballistic and becoming a super villain. It’s really a character piece on what might cause a guy like Superman to just snap and turn evil. There’s a lot of suspense in the first issues because of how powerful he is as the remaining heroes search for clues and weaknesses. A real sharp read that I picked up especially because it’s by Mark Waid, who wrote the next thing I read.

Daredevil – It’s kind of odd that I never was into Daredevil. He’s another one of those heroes in NYC that gets no respect, kind of like Spider-Man, but perhaps a little darker. Well, Daredevil had apparently gone super, ridiculously dark in recent years. Like depressingly so. Waid has stepped in for a new #1 and a new take on Matt Murdock. He’s either got to start looking at the world with a little levity or go insane from his troubles and I’m digging it. Throw in some sharp art and Waid’s good writing and you’ve got a series that I’m really excited to keep reading.

Video Games:

Left 4 Dead 2 – Not a lot of change here, just going through the campaigns with David. Such a perfect game. Lots of fun.

Team Fortress 2 – Every time I check Eric’s inventory he’s got another item that I want for classes he doesn’t really play. It’s kind of unfair! We need to initiate some trades, pronto.

I love the art in this book!

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