Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just a reminder...

I'm still here, but the new job means blogging will be slower, and as stated, shrinking slowly.

Anyway, just something for you to enjoy.

(If you need context, go here.)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Remembering Jens

It has been too long since my last post. I had meant to start posting again after my birthday last month, but things got very busy soon thereafter with a new job. None of which has anything to do with today.

Last week I was informed of the death of my friend, writer Jens H. Altmann. I still find it very unusual to refer to anyone I'd never met face to face as a "friend" but it was very true of Jens. We usually spoke either by phone or over a chat online every Sunday for the last year or so, after a few years of trading ideas back and forth on various forums and LJs we both commented on.

Jens was an interesting sort - a man who demanded the highest idealism in others, even when he knew how it was even for himself to hold them up. He was often stoic to the point of being almost robotic, but beneath that layer of cool analytical thought was a fierce passion for an equality that never seemed to materialize in our world. His humor was one of dry, caustic sarcasm and biting insight - he had a habit of completely disassembling an opponent's argument in a dozen words or less. And when he didn't do that, it completely mocked the point of what the other guy was trying to get across.

Altmann, an author, knew exactly how much power words had over people, and he lamented how poorly stories were told in modern media, when it was so easy to find the right words. Jens had them, and I suggest you take some time over the next few days to go read his blog and see those words for yourself.

So, goodbye Jens. I will miss our geeking out over Leverage, our shared joy of Rory Williams-based badassery. But mostly, I'll miss just being able to speak to someone as insightful, as smart, and as sharp as you.

Rest Well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Busy times. Will get more blogging done when I can. Stay Tuned.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Sometimes I just post because it's cool.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Good Comics - Atomic Robo



This comic is like, one of the greatest things ever.

It's got a tight timeline, but because of that, the stories are told non-chronologically. In fact, the latest miniseries, the Deadly Art of Science, actually is set the earliest in Robo's career, as he's just starting to deal with the dangerous (and very fun) world he inhabits. And by the way, Robo as a kid - full of geeky enthusiasm and naivete? Is a very fun thing, because it is a contrast to Robo's demeanor in other series where he's more stoic and dry with his wit.

Clevenger and company really do deserve every bit of praise they get; this is a fun pulpy series that doesn't skimp out on humor, action, and even pathos (without ever descending into melodrama).

There's nothing else like it out there and it deserves your attention and money. And no, Hellboy is not like this - despite the comparisons, Hellboy is all about surviving horror. Atomic Robo is tongue-in-cheek - more Ghostbusters than say, The Prophecy.

Oh, and his archenemies are Stephen Hawking and an evil talking dinosaur. That should count for something, right?

Anyway, the latest miniseries, Atomic Robo: The Ghost of Station X is starting up this week. Go check it out.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Superman and Majestic

One of the weird (and off-putting) things about the DC Reboot is the idea of "Superman is more Kal-El than Clark Kent". And the reason why is that if you need a character who is sort of Superman-like, but without the humanity, you've got Mr. Majestic right there.

(And no, the Martian Manhunter does have quite a bit of humanity in him, so he doesn't count).

Monday, September 05, 2011

Two Dooms

So, this is a question asked often enough - Dr. Doom - honorable villain, or bastard who will do what he wants and then justifies it as honorable after the fact? There are writers for both sides of the arguement (John Byrne and Chris Claremont, for "Doom is ultimately honorable and actually quite noble in his way." to Mark Waid for "Doom is a liar and a cheat who pretends he is honorable when in fact he's a total fraud"), and both sides are valid. In my opinion, this is a question of nuance and subtlety - which really shouldn't be a surprise given Doom is, even more than a scientist or wizard, a politican and diplomat.

Does Doom have a code of honor? Yes, but it is a twisted one (and even Byrne acknowledged this). A true diplomat, Doom's one to parse his words, his thoughts, even his perceptions, to maintain this code to himself. Keep in mind, the end result of any action doom undertakes should be in the service of Doom. But they must also bring Doom glory within the wider world. One thing Mark Waid did get right is Doom's need for external validation - it's not enough for Doom to kill Reed - he has to bring him down so that the world can see that Doom was always better than Richards. He doesn't just want to conquer the world - he wants the world to acknowledge that it needs him to conquer it.

Once you remove the external audience (i.e. the world stage, and especially the people of Latveria - more on that later), Doom becomes much more dangerous and deceitful - because he's less likely to gain any kind of external validation, he's more likely to betray, to go back on his word, to find a loophole (which he's usually smart enough to build for himself into any agreement). Like any politician, Doom's dealings behind closed doors are always darker and more devious than when he's in the public eye.

Latveria is the key - Doom has a captive audience who hangs on his every word, and it is there that he MUST be honorable and noble and all the things that he needs to convince himself that he actually is. So his actions there, and on behalf of the citizenry (his underlings are another matter - they know what the score is because Doom demands they be competent enough to carry out what he needs them to - so ultimately they respect him, they fear him, but they know what he is. Which is why he kills them if they step out of line). The misstep Waid made (and it was immediately reversed) was taking away Latveria from Doom. Without a nation that loves him, that feeds his need for validation, Doom becomes more dangerous, not less so. Resources don't matter when you're as dangerous as he is.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Good Comics - Farscape

Alright, enough with the soul-bearing and complaining about the crap, let's get on with the good comics!

BOOM's Farscape comic is a guilty pleasure for me - it's a layer-cake of nostalgia that I enjoy despite its flaws, but marvel at when it gets it right.

Farscape remains one of my favorite TV shows of all time and perhaps the best space opera ever put out by the Sci-Fi network (sorry BSG fans - but you know I'm right). It was innovative, intelligent, rapid-paced, and fun entertainment that holds up to rewatching years later (as I learned when I rewatched the series this past winter). The comic series picks up after the events of the "Peacekeeper Wars" miniseries, and deals with the ongoing adventures of the crew of the Leviathan Moya, past and present.

First, let's dispense with the problems of the comic series. It is definitely a series written towards the longtime fans of the TV series and not for the casual reader. Much like the TV series it was based on, it's an ongoing story that is constantly building, and all-too often impenetrable to a new audience. The current storyline, concerning a giant cosmic war, seems at times to be an element external to the rest of the series - the antagonists were never introduced in the TV run, and are massively powerful and resourceful - if it weren't for the fact that series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon is helming the comic, one would think it fanfiction. There also hasn't been much opportunity for the slapstick (and occasionally crude) humor the show was known for (although as always, Rygel manages to pull through, as displayed in the posters here).

O'Bannon (with co-writer Keith R.A. DeCandido) presents other challenges, many of them specific to the medium of comics. For one, without the kinetic motion of a TV series, usually with a decent musical score, space battles can often seem static and boring on a comic page without a truly talented artist. Another distinction in the transfer from TV to comics is the loss of the "multiple cast members yelling at each other simultaneously" - one of the more enjoyable and realistic dialogue tics from the TV series. The art for the series is perfectly workmanlike - it captures the likenesses of the characters adequately, but occasionally feels a bit stiff and static.

The good news is that if you're a Farscape fan, well, this is definitely for you. The characters are very much as you remember them, and it is easy to hear their dialogue given in the voices of the actors who portrayed them (particularly Ben Browder and Claudia Black). Unlike a new fan, you'll have no trouble at all catching up on the events that have occurred after "The Peacekeeper Wars" and the changes will no doubt surprise and excite you. It's a good fix of what you've been missing. This is Farscape in its high space-opera mode, and you know all the hilarity and high-stakes drama you are anticipating? It's there, and then some.

Oh and Scorpius is there.

So while I can't in good conscience recommend the Farscape comic series for a new reader (unless you are brave enough to do the homework - but you'll be happy you did!), it's definitely recommended for Farscape fan who can't find any good space opera anywhere else (and what's up with that? Didn't there used to be good space opera TV shows? And maybe a comic or two out there? Yeesh...that's sad).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Secret Origin

I originally quit blogging back in 2004 because I had lost interest. Just didn't see the point in being one voice among thousdands of others. I was more focused on applying the principles of what I'd learned from comics into real life by using my talents to do good in the world (a subject I explain here) and that was that.

And then, at the end of 2006, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphona. It was a hard time as I went through chemo, particularly for a young person going through the cancer experience. There were many days I couldn't do much more than sit around the house. It was during this time, when I was ordering trades of Aaron Williams' great PS238 series (I actually ordered them directly through him because it's frickin' HARD to get them in Canada). One of the little background details I loved in the first few books were the faux motivational posters he had and I asked if I could have full sized jpg files. He gave me the link where he made them instead. So I began tinkering; it was a good way to pass the time at the computer. Even after I finished treatment (successfully - it has now been four years and no sign of any problems), I found myself using the poster macros and images from the monthly solicits or other sources to express my thoughts on various characters or ideas or for commentary.

I started sharing these posters with the few online friends I discussed comics with, and virtually all of them suggested the same thing - put them up on a blog (Special thanks goes to Jens H. Altmann, Paul F.P. Pogue, and Mario Di Giacomo). And so I reopened the blog, and started putting up the posters, along with some commentary and thoughts.

And here we are now. At rough count, I've made over 3000 posters since I started, and over 700 blogposts since then. Which, while not prolific blogging, is not bad either. But something has happened - and it's been about two months since I've had anything new to posterize. Furthermore, I found that I have little new to say about comics - I could keep telling you "Atomic Robo, PS238, Love and Capes and Farscape are AWESOME DUDES!", and I will actually still be blogging for most of the rest of the year, and taking on a most positive tone, but...they really just don't inspire me anymore.

I believe that it is an individual's moral imperative to develop their talents to the utmost and then to apply those talents in the real world as best they can. Care to guess where I got this silly notion from? So that's what I'm going to do, and that means that redirecting and refocusing this energy means that I'll be leaving blogging behind. But again, I still have hundreds of posters to put up, so you'll not be rid of me just yet.

The changes in corporate comics don't make me happy, but at the same time, I'm not going to waste the time and energy to shout at them about how poorly I think they are doing because - well, there's lots of people who do that already. I choose to strive for the example of the heroes I read about as a kid. Furthermore, I think that moving forward in the real world is more in keeping with the example of the real people and real heroes behind the stories I love; Creators like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and Dwayne McDuffie and Will Eisner, and on and on. It's one thing to say you like superheroes - but your actions in the real world are what matter.

This is all part of my moving forward. I started making posters because I needed something to get my mind off the things I was dealing with, and it was my old childhood heroes who led the way. Now it's time to return the favor, and do my best to live up to those standards.

I end today's post with two of my favorite hero moments of all time - moments that helped inspire me during my treatment, just to give you an idea of my mindset. Share with me your favorite hero moments. And don't worry, more posts to come.