Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Good and Gunned for 2004

Let's get this party started with a rambling and pointless commentary before we get into my predictions and wishlist for 2004

Your ADD stalking moment: ADD doing All The Rage

The biggest news that he "broke":

Joss Whedon as the new writer of New X-Men

I haven't read X-Men comics since.....1997 or so....couldn't really be bothered for the most part in either case. I understand some of the excitement, as any comic fan could see parrallels between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Claremont-era X-Men comics, and Joss is a fairly good writer, so on the surface, this seems like a surefire hit....

....but then we make contact with the real world and it all falls apart. Ok, so some comics fans are happy about this. This is good for New X-Men. That's really about it. This is the same problem that occurs any time a "major" writer changes medium.....how the hell are the fans he gained in one medium to transfer? Hell, how are they even going to know about it in the first place. Great all of comics knows, and maybe if Marvel feels like making a big media push, they'll be able to get 2 minutes of coverage on CNN on some lazy Tuesday afternoon when there's no REAL news. Other than that, the vast majority of fans will NEVER KNOW, and for the most part, NEVER CARE. So Kevin Smith wrote some good Daredevil comics? What percentage of the people whom have seen his movies even know this, or for that matter, would be willing to go through the horror of comic shopping to get this? Is Joss going to book himself a slot on David Letterman to push this? This is the key problem: ADVERTISING TO COMICS FANS IS PREACHING TO THE GODDAMN CHOIR, what you need to do is go door to door and spread the word....and then prove that it will be worth the misery to spread the word.

The second problem here is one that I'm sure everyone who has spent any amount of time reading about corporate comics knows. No matter how big the name of the writer or artist, nothing really changes for the characters of the Big Two. While Joss definetly put superhero-comic tropes into his TV writing, we must understand that at the end of the day, he had a great deal more control about these characters than any writer has ever had on a Marvel/DC property. He made the important decision, and knew where he wanted to end up. These were/are his children, and he raised them very well. This is something he cannot do at Marvel, no matter what.

Onward and upward:


Comics Michael will be buying in the next year

-Planetary, no matter how delayed the schedule
-Fantastic Four, at least until the "Hereafter" storyline is resolved....likely to end after that
-Will beging buying Stormwatch: Team Achilles in the Trades
-Will buy whatever new version of "Sleeper" Brubaker will write
-Will continue buying Invinicible for the next year, although the novelty is beginning to wear off
-Will buy the Avengers/Thunderbolts mini-series, because it will finally end the cliffhanger set by Thunderbolts #75 and will feature Busiek's final tale of these characters. The 17-year old in me is looking forward to seeing what happens to Atlas, who remains to be one of the only Marvel characters I would want to write about (the other is Reed Richards, obviously).
-Will continue to buy Astro City, no matter what the format
-Will buy Orbiter when it comes out in paperback
-Will try to get Tom Strong, Top Ten, Promethea, Nevermen in trade formats

Michael's predictions for the comic industry

Bad News
-Geoff Johns, Jeph Loeb, and Chuck Austen will continue to write "mainstream" comics
-Marvel/DC superhero comics will continue to be considered "mainstream" comics by most retailers
-Most comic stores will continue to suck, and be the standard bearer of the "mainstream"
-Christopher Priest series will die premature deaths
-The comics fan base will continue to shrink as prices rise
-The Diamond distributing system will continue to kill off good alternative/independent/real mainstream comics in order to prop up the "mainstream"

Good news

-The Manga audience will continue to grow, especially in the chain bookstore market (Personally, I don't care for Manga as a matter of personal taste, but I respect it as the driving force of the REAL mainstream audience, and so should everyone else.)
-The comics stores that support "mainstream" (Marvel/Dc superhero) will continue to lose business and have to re-evaluate what they are doing in this business
-Creators will use their voices in other media and use it to attact people to their comic work, especially people like Micah Wright, Peter David, and Warren Ellis.
-The independent graphic novel medium will start becoming big business for bookstores, and allow an entire generation of new and brilliant comic creators to bring their creation to a larger audience than the direct market system could ever hope for.

Michael's predictions for Michael in 2004

-I will apply for a Master's degree and be accepted
-I will continue to strive for excellent and self improvement in my martial arts training, and through that, in all other fields of endeavor
-I will post more regularly in the new year than I have in the last three months
-I will continue to read the classic books, watch the classic movies, and learn better the mechanics of actually writing through practice
-I will volunteer during the upcoming Canadian election to ensure that the country does not fall into the hands of the right wing.
-I will continue to speak my mind, no matter the cost.

Best wishes, and have a happy new year.

Michael Paciocco

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Ugh.....a few too many late nights....

....been reading the entire Miracleman run, in addition to the entire body of Alan Moore's Supreme.....and the collected Sherlock Holmes.....now I'm heading off to see Return of the King...

So, you want to know who Michael stalks online?

Here's the laundry list of sites I check out daily;

ADD - The man whom inspired me to start this blog - always thought provoking and entertaining, and usually with some good links to other good sites, (And his buddies Johnny Bacardi and Derek Martinez are usually pretty good too....Bacardi and Martinez.....eh, sounds like some kind of bar....)

Peter David - I check out his blog too. His New Frontier series is currently the only reason I haven't entirely turned against all of Trekdom, though the attacks by the right wing wackos who can't stand his politics goes a LONG LONG way to confirming that giving up on Star Trek was a very good thing.....

Micah Wright - Damn Funny, Damn Smart....I'm a regular lurker and massively infrequent poster on his Delphi Forum...I should get involved in more of his threads, but by the time I've found the thread, most of the other posters have delivered pretty much the same thing....and I hate the idea of being a groupie.

Michael Moore - runs a good website with a lot of media sources not commonly looked at in the U.S. (including the CBC, yay!)

That is all for now, more later,


Tuesday, December 16, 2003


Not feeling too serious today, just the usual (Go to ADD's blog to see his year in review, good stuff).

So, I decided to take a few online quizes

First, I decided to look at which Batman villain I would be. Apparently I'm...

He's got plenty of time.
You are: R'AS AL GHUL!

Which Batman Villain Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Then, a quick look at which Marvel Superhero I would be. No surprise there....

Next up...I was curious as to which Farscape character I was most like. The result was

What Farscape Character are you?

Damn, that's good.

That's all, more tomorrow


Monday, December 15, 2003


Special thanks to Alan David Doane, Silver Bullet Comics, and Markisan Naso

All The Rage, a comic rumour/commentary/news column featured some interesting commentary from "Youngblood creator" Rob Liefeld. Upon conferencing with my good friend Alan David Doane, I decided to run some of the highlights of his comments (Go to All the Rage and then follow the links for the full story. Unfortunately, the Algorithm kept crashing when I tried to run all of the commentary through, and it's more fun for you to try and translate his other comments on your own) through his Rob Liefeld Translation Algorithm (go get that and more fun stuff before we lose the Comic Book Galaxy archives altogether).

Anyway, here are the results:


Regardless of that unfortunate run of events, no one single person benefited from Awesome as much as Alan Moore did. Supreme single handedly revived commercial and critical interest in his career that had hit a snag with his Image work, including but not limited to Wildcats, Spawn, Violator and Violator vs. Badrock.

(TRANSLATION: Alan Moore’s career hit a snag because he hadn’t worked with all of my fantastic, one-of-a kind all original characters! He needed a blast of Liefeld energy to get back on his A-game!)

Supreme got people talking and pros and fans buzzing. It literally set the stage for his ABC line, in fact much of the ABC line is made up of poorly masked Awesome characters and story outlines he prepared for us.

(TRANSLATION: I never understood why his Supreme worked and the one I created originally. I mean, would Alan Moore write about a being of godlike power that killed bad guys like Arnold Schwartzenger and committed acts of mass murder without a second thought? Would he have had the balls to throw the implied mental rape of one of the “lead” characters and to construct a storyline with more contradictions and unbelievable plot twists than 20 years worth of Claremont’s X-MEN run combined? And then would he have tried to actually spend an issue making up a set of weak justifications for the contradictions? I DON’T THINK SO!)

If I was as sue-happy and litigation driven as some suggest I be, I believe I could draw direct connections to many of the ABC characters and their origins coming from pages of Awesome work we commissioned from him.

(TRANSLATION: That is, if I could find the pages of Awesome work I commissioned from him but never paid him for, or if I thought I had a chance in hell of surviving a counter suit from the biggest media giant on Earth, or if I thought that attacking one of the best writers in comics wouldn’t turn the entire industry against me…then I’d make him our bitch!)

In short order, Tom Strong is Supreme mixed with his Prophet proposal. Promethea is Glory and the rest I honestly don't pay much attention to. Don't have the time or interest. Simply put, there is no ABC without Supreme and the Awesome re-launch.

(TRANSLATION: I just assumed that the rest of his ABC stuff was pirated from me without reading it. Like that chick with the spider thing and purple tights? I had a character made up for that, except she had bigger bazoombas and we were going to call her BAZOOMBA GIRL. I can’t believe Alan Moore would steal from me, after all I did for him! Oh, the humanity! And I mean, it’s not like I kept some of his stories for years before publishing them, or anything. And so what if Supreme is maybe kinda sorta like Superman and Glory is like Wonder Woman. I’m not hurting DC, but Alan stole FROM ME! THE ROBSTER! I DEMAND JUSTICE!)

As to his derisive comments about my Judgment Day work, all I can offer is that I followed the script implicitly and there was never an incident where his script had to be re-arranged to accommodate artwork that veered away from his script. He wrote full script and every page was followed to the letter.

(TRANSLATION: I mean, I can’t help it if it doesn’t explicitly state that I’m not supposed to draw Supreme with 86 teeth and no hips! I’m only human after all!)


Let's see, pretty much everyone with the exception of Silvestri who I was never friends with at any time, merely a partner in a comic business, each of the gentlemen you've mentioned are notoriously at odds with far more folks than me.

(TRANSLATION: Most folks don’t know who I am. The ones who do remember me as “that guy from the Levi commercial.”)

Moore at one time raged against the entire DC machine until he decided it was in his best interest to look the other way while they funded his ABC endeavor. Gimme a break.

(TRANSLATION: DC, I’ve never promised not to do business with you, and I’ve got a submission for a Hawk and Dove revival that Geoff Johns would love….)

Now it's just down to me and Marvel comics. Oh and he has a beef with Toddy Mac.

(TRANSLATION: I love calling people by pet names I made up for them but that they would never ever respond to.)

Todd and I are friendly, the past is in the past. We butted heads once and moved on.

(TRANSLATION: He moved on to a new house and didn’t leave me a forwarding address or phone number.)

Larsen. C'mon he's a classic player-hater. After Byrne maybe the biggest one on record. We're all just moving targets in his Uni.

(TRANSLATION: “Player-hater” is such a kick-ass phrase. Makes me sound like I from the streets. RE-PRU-SENT!)

Or maybe I'm just a big ole prick.

Yeah, upon closer inspection, it's just me.


Sunday, December 14, 2003

Woke up and turned on the T.V. this morning...the first thing I said....

"Man, Dennis Miller really let himself go...."

Of course, then I put my glasses on.....

For those of you who have recently returned from Mars, Saddam Hussein has been caught. The implications of which....

.....are pretty close to insignificant.

OK, yes, he's a bad bad bad bad bad dude, and he's going to get what he deserves. But that's really it?

Will it lead to the WMDs? Not likely, as there either aren't any or he won't tell.

Will it change the violence and death in Iraq? Possibly, but then again most of the shooters are basically either poor and crazy terrorists (the ones who don't have the resources to actually uhhmmm....go to America and blow up innocents).

Will it give credibility to the U.S. administration? In terms of propaganda and public relations, maybe, but then again, that could be short lived, and it will take time to see how it can be spun and counter spun....

Does this help the people of Iraq? In a symbollic way yes, but there's still a long way to go...

Will this change the world view of the war in Iraq? Not really, there's still too much death, and the U.S. two-faced policy of "Help us pay/Do as we say" is still stepping on all the wrong toes.

Maybe I'm wrong, but while this a very good thing, it does nothing to change the tragedy and horror that is going on there right now, and that's what We as the human race have to face up to.


Saturday, December 13, 2003

Mike's 2003 Year in Review

The Stuff that Matters

Low points of the year

-Slowly loosing contact with my university friends and classmates as our career paths scatter us to the four winds

-Not being able to attend a friend's wedding

-Getting laid off at work after five months

-My inability to find employment in my hometown.

The High points of the year

-Getting the BRUCE prototype to work, despite a great deal of doubt on the part of many of my peers.

-Aerodynamics class: At long last a taste of what I hope to be my future......and it was good.

-Finishing my last exam: The moment I left the building, I let out a primal scream of triumph that reverberated across the campus. It was a delirously happy time for me.

-Graduation Day: knowing that the last five years of effort had paid off, and that I could share in the moment with my friends and family. And of course, the after-grad parties were pretty nice too....

-Returning to my hometown, and spending time with my family, whom I had missed over the long months between my visits.

-Begining a serious training schedule designed to let me loose the flab, and actually starting to see signs of success. And being able to throw 9-12 hours a week just on martial arts? Fantastic.


Friday, December 12, 2003

Sorry for the delay, I had to make the computer belch smoke at me before I could get online again (no, really).

Mike's 2003 Year in Review


The Best comics of the Year

SLEEPER - Is the comic you NEED TO BUY. Maddly innovative and thrilling, I found myself trapped in the sheer claustrophobic nightmare that is this book. The team that produces this book is beyond reproach and can do no wrong.

EMPIRE - Anyone who thinks that Mark Waid is the ultimate optimistic 60s style comic writer needs to be shown this book. The stuff he's been repressing for years is fucking frightening. Barry Kitson does the best work of his career here.

SUPERMAN: RED SON- Mark Millar goes beyond the shock-jock brand of writing he does at Marvel to produce the best Superman story since Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?". Thought provoking and witty, it does take a few jabs at the character, but ultimately serves up a tribute worthy of respect.

Happy Returns

PLANETARY - After a too damn long absence, Ellis et al. finally resume one of the most interesting comic series published is back, and while you did have to go back to read what happened before, it was worth it.

ASTRO CITY - After dropping the bowel movement that passed for a comic (Power Company), Kurt Busied returns with some very very very good superhero stories in the latest installment of Astro City.

What the Hell?

THE FOLLOWING NEED TO BE REMOVED FROM COMICS NOW - Jeph Loeb, Chuck Austen, Geoff Johns, Joe Kelly, John Byrne, Chuck Dixon, Ben Raab

THE FOLLOWING NEED BETTER RECOGNITION - Gail Simone, Christopher Priest, Walt Simonson, Micah Wright, Adi Tantimedth.

THE FOLLOWING COMICS SHOULD NOT BE READ BY ANYONE OF ANY AGE: JSA, Anything Written by Chuck Austen, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Any of the core Superman Books.

Later, Michael

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Mike's 2003 Year in Review

TV and Movies

TV's Best Moment of 2003

-Christopher Reeve on Smallvile. 'Nuff said

TV's worst moves of 2003
-the cancellation of Farscape and Futurama and the success of "Dr. Phil". This is why I pretty much stay away from network T.V. these days.

Most Shameless T.V. Stunt
-In a desparate and futile attempt to prove that the "Star Trek" franchise has some small spark of creative and commercial life, "Enterprise" pulls a rather bizzare Sept 11 tribute to attempt to add something remotely resembling drama into the series....and it still sucks. Face it folks, this franchise is so inbred that the Brittish Royal Family look normal.

Best Movie of 2003
Hmmm.....It'll probably be Return of the King, but if not, then I'm going to say Bulletproof Monk. A really good and fun film for my money.

Worst Movie of 2003
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Comic writer James Robinson decides to utterly destroy an Alan Moore work by "hollywoodizing" it and indulging in his Oscar Wilde mania for no good reason.

Thing that surprised me the most at the movies
- Damn, but the fight scenes in X2 were good. A lot better and more brutal than the ones in the first X-Men flick

Thing that disturbed me the most at the movies
-Ben Affleck as an engineer in "Paycheck": What kind of dumbass casting decision is that? OK, maybe I'm taking this personally, but the idea of Ben "Dumber than Dirt" Affleck as an Engineer deeply deeply annoys me. I do not need him destroying the good name of my profession. What next, Pam Anderson as a neurosurgeon?
Mike's 2003 Year in Review

Part 1: Politics

This year was certainly a mixed bag. Let's look below

Strangest Election

Without a doubt California. Proof that you can campaign with no real platform of your own, and win based on the power of your name.

Best News

The Liberal victories in Ontario and Quebec, after nearly a decade of mismanagment by radical idealogues on each end.

Worst news

The Conservative/Canadian alliance merger. If it works, it will likely bring them into power in the next federal election, and the ushering in of a political power that is far more likely to create U.S.-style foreign and domestic policies which would damage the country.

A PM we respected

Jean Chretien left politics this year after 40 years of service, and I wish him well on his retirement. I'm firmly of the belief that though Pierre Trudeau represented the ideals of what we as Canadians WANT to be, Chretien was more like what we ARE. He was arrogant, occassionally rude, and possibly more than a little bit of a selfish bastard. Despite this, I did like the guy. He spoke his mind without hesitation (and on occasion, without comprehension) and I think he did his level best to put Canada on the Global Stage, which in and of itself may be a greater accomplishment in the long run than most would give him credit for. He stood by his decisions, and he was a real fighter (no really, how many PMs would ever start a fight with protestors?). For all of his massive faults, Chretien was a Canadian, and I suspect that part of the reason we didn't like him was that we realized we were all a bit too eager to be like him.

More later,


P.S. Check out EBAY

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I finally got arount to watching the eXtreme Martial Arts showcase that was aired on the Discovery Channel on Sunday. Overall I had to say it was a fairly entertaining two hours even for the non-martial artist/non-engineer type. For those of us who are both however, it was something else entirely.

First, a bit of background. Last year, a fellow student and I designed a martial arts force-plate training device known as BRUCE (Basic Real-time Universal Combat Environment) for our fourth year engineering project. Lord knows it took forever for my partner and I to get the thing to even begin to function, and it was never the most reliable system (The computer we used was woefully inadequate, and admittedly, I over engineered the structure of the prototype to the point of massive insensitivity), it none the less ends up having many of the same qualities as the sensor systems the scientists in the show ended up using.

The first similarity (and by far the most striking) was the use of a 1000Hz sampling rate. This surprised me because I felt that a higher sampling rate (two to three times) would have made for better analysis of reaction time and pressure monitoring. However, they probably made the same compromise we had to; they sacrificed sampling speed in order to reduce the raw processing the computer would have to achieve.

They used a pressure-based sensing system to determine pounds per square inch and then determing the force. This was part of our initial brainstorming on the project as well, but we never could figure out how we could find a sensor that could measure the forces we predicted would occur without breaking, or the proper vessel we would need to contain the sensor. While it seems they solved the problem with the vessel (and I for one would love to know how they did it), it looks like they didn't completely solve the durability problem, as they showed at least on of the sensors breaking.

We opted for a direct force measurement (as opposed to integrating the force from the pressure) and to use multiple sensors to triangulate the position of the point force. They used this same feature, but applied it to measure changes in the martial artist's BALANCE as he stood on force plates. An application that seems so blindingly obvious in hindsight that I'm kicking myself over not having thought of it myself.

They used motion capture technology to triangulate the various body mechanics and to determine speed and reaction time. An option that was way too expensive for a pair of engineering students, but one that would work very well. We had to do a much more indirect measurement of reaction time, but supplemented what we already knew of human ergonomics to try and make up for that shortcoming.

Kind of nice to know we could have achieved what they did if we had a team of specialists and several hundred thousand dollars more.

In terms of the show itself, it was a nice insight into the SCIENCES (Plural) that the martial arts take advantage of. Whether it is the old fashioned "drawing strength from the earth" or the pschological effect of horse-hair on a spear, there was a truly canny analysis of the tools of the martial artists.

Damn good watching,