2012 in review
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.
Red Lantern Claus
An unusual Heroclix post. One of the guys on Facebook asked us how we would make a Red Lantern Santa Claus. Various people posted powers, I decided to just post an illustration!
And a quick reminder, Argo City and Violent Blue will be on Christmas Break until January second!
We’ve got an extra Maddie Monthly art show this month. You see, Maddie is old enough now and seems to notice that I’m not really into Christmas. Remember this page from her book last year?
Anyhow, this year, she’s been drawing up a storm to try and get me back in the Christmas mood (honestly, if I were as prolific as her, I’d have those final 30 Violent Blue strips done by now….)
I’ll admit, it IS nice to have a tree in my library this year….
John McAfee arrested…wait…what?
This just seems like one of the more bizarre stories to hit the tech world in a long time
Apparently John McAfee, the creator of the ubiquitous anti-virus software, has been wanted in Belize for some time now over the shooting death of his neighbor.
He decided to flee, and seek asylum in Guatemala. Then the Central American country’s immigration police for entering the country illegally.
McAfee choose Guatamala because he wanted “…a place where there is some sanity,”
McAfee said that in Guatemala, the locals aren’t surprised when he says the Belizean government is out to kill him.
“Instead of going, ‘You’re crazy,’ they go, ‘Yeah, of course they are,'” he said. “It’s like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here.”
McAfee says once his troubles are behind him, he has not ruled out moving back to the United States
Is it unprofessional for me to end this post with the word “Facepalm”? I gotta go read some Violent Blue. The talking squirrel makes more sense than this.
Last Weeks Pulls
This week I dipped my toe in a bunch of titles that I haven’t been reading in a long time. The problem with doing this however, is you can feel like you just walked into the middle of a story and end up quite lost.
Spawn manages the feat of making me feel like I’m in the middle of a story I don’t quite understand while at the same time feeding me more of the same old same old. It’s more “Who do you work for????” “Jason Wynn!” “Wynn’s coming for you!” Chains, power countdown timer, menace. I’ve seen all of t his before. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since Spawn has been cutting edge. The most revolutionary thing they’ve done in the 21st century was to change the identity of the title character from Al Simmons to ….I don’t even know his name. Perhaps if I cared more….
On the plus side though, this has spectacular art. It’s very similar to Tim Bradstreet, very much like the dark noir look of the best modern Daredevil stories. Last week I mentioned that Jerry Ordway was one of my favorite artists. I’ve always favored a more realistic look to the dynamic, hyper stylized feel of a Liefield or McFarline drawing. This works really well. I’d love to see this guy do a Hellblazer or a Hellraiser.
Army of Darkness is always a fun title, but you have to understand, this series has strayed miles from the movies. That makes it easy to feel lost. The thing is though, they haven’t really done any world building. This isn’t a tight continuity. They seem afraid to move far from the established characters and continuity of the films, so we just wander from situation to situation without ever really creating a narrative.
When a female Ash arrived at the cabin (now floating in another dimension, at a causal nexus of some sort), I was really hoping they were making an attempt to integrate the new Evil Dead movie into this series. It would have been a smart move and all this talk of multiverses seemed to point that way. The cliffhanger makes it clear that it’s not.
Finally there was Hawken : Genesis. Despite the fact that there are several gamers in my Violent Blue comic, I’m not one. I built myself a Pac Man Machine and decided I never had to buy another platform.
The point being, I had no idea this was based on a video game. It’s a great idea though. The art is stunning and the concepts are fascinating. I can absolutely see how this would completely flesh out a game world. These are very short stories, about half the size of a regular comic, but well worth it if you can track them down. I ended up having to go online to find the previous entry in the series.
I also grabbed Extermination. This really seemed like just indie superhero fare, but seemed to get a little dramatic towards the end. I haven’t read enough of this series (this was the first time I’d noticed it) to know if it had earned that kind of theme. I think I’m too lazy to go back and find previous issues though.
I happen to love Sherlock Holmes. My grandmother introduced me to the character when I was a child, but I only really started to appreciate him when I was a teenager and rediscovering it in reading class. I wasn’t this comic to be good. i really do. It has a beginning and and ending t hat both catch you, but the middle of this book just slogs on. It’s part one of a story so you almost want to give it some slack, but it just doesn’t keep my attention enough and the art in it is awful. Technically good drawing I suppose but it completely misses the soul of the characters and the era. I’m just not into it. I will probably get the second part of this, but it better get real good real quick or I’ll be dropping it.
Speaking of dropping, I think I’m done with new Valiant’s Bloodshot for a while. It’s not a bad book, it just isn’t my thing. I didn’t really get way into the original series and that may be having an effect on me. Archer and Armstrong on the other hand, continues to be a fun ride and genuinely better than it’s predecessors. I like how they are trying to ease some world building into this series by introducing the Eternal Warrior and t he idea of the Geomancer in through this series – and it’s the perfect place for it. Armstrong always put me off a bit in the old Valiant, but I like him quite a bit in this incarnation. Maybe it’s the hair or the better dress sense. I don’t know.
The Green Hornet on the other hand….I do believe they have the shark in their rear view mirror, having jumped it about the time Britt jr and Mulan Kato started gettin’ busy. Now with an attack on the home base…I know these are all classic comic book tropes, but this series is only like, two years old. Isn’t it a bit early to be hitting these cliches already? I like some of the extra elements they’ve come up with and the expanded cast, and I’ll keep reading as long as it runs, but I don’t think I’ll really miss it when it’s gone.
I saw there was a new Crow series out and thought I’d give that one a try for old time’s sake.
Why do I keep doing that to myself?
Actually the idea of a Crow at a death camp in Nazi Germany isn’t a bad one, but it’s just not enough for me to care. This concept has gotten so watered down over the years, it almost seems like anyone who dies violently comes back as a crow. I half expect batman’s parents to come back as the Crow!
Grifter is still a good series. I’ve heard this one is getting cancelled and that really does make me a little sad. I’m liking it and really enjoying the newer take on the character. This issue has him facing the Suicide Squad which is pretty much just flat out fan service aimed directly at me….or it would be if it were a Suicide Squad I recognized. Still, it’s actually a better handling of most of those characters than I’ve been seeing in thier own book. I love how he describes them : “Everyone in t he squad is dangerous.They’re Black Ops criminals with nothing to lose”. I’ve never really heard them referd to in that manner before and I love it. This story also establishes a prior working relationship between Grifter and (the new 52 character who isn’t anything remotely like) Amanda Waller. This particular comment alone is enough reason to get this book.
I miss fat, middle-age Amanda Waller. I totally believed that character WAY more than I do with this young, slim imposter.
Anyhow. Can I talk about She-Ra now?
First and foremost, we don’t see She-Ra in this series, we don’t get the entire Secret of the Sword treatment either, but rather we get just before that. This character and series is apparently going to be intergrated into DC’s MOTU series eventually and I can’t wait.
It’s itneresting, they address something I had felt for years – Adora’s costume. In t his she is still aHorde Force Captian, just like in Secret of the Sword. However, in that cartoon, she was wearing the same Adora costume that she wore for the rest of the series (which is fine. I get limited animation and all of that). Essentially a jacket and a nice confy cotten shirt. Everyone else in teh Horde wore armor and bats and sigils and she just didn’t fit. This changes that… and her horde armor is stunning, not to mention the name : Despara. Just great stuff. She fits in better with the Horde here, rather than coming off like a princess wandering through the halls of evil treading on rose petals all the way….now, she looks evil. Moreover, when she takes that helmet off….she looks damaged. You can see the brainwashing in her eyes, the chopped hair just adds to it all. I love this.
When we open, it mentions that we are on Etheria – in the dark dimension of Despondos. That tells me that we aren’t throwing out all of the previous continuity from the failed MYP series in 2002, and that’s a good thing. While there were elements I really didn’t like about that series (most notably the designs for He-Man and the Sorceress) That series worked very hard to add some mythology to this world that had never been as well developed as it’s contemporaries in Transformers and GI Joe. It added a great deal to the MOTU story and I had feared most of that would have been thrown right out the window since that series was now out of favor.
That was in fact, enough of a boost for me to finally crack open that copy of the Origin of Skeletor I’d had laying a round for months.
Seriously. We’d gotten what I thought a spectacular origin for him in the MYP series and I was heartbroken that someone was going to come in and just re-write it. It turns out they didn’t exactly re-write it after all.
This story explores Skeletor’s past. Yes, we knew he was actually Randor’s brother Keldor. We had even expected that he was really his half-brother. And we see him treated as the Half-brother by his parents. Always out of favor, always passed over. Interestingly ( and heartbreakingly) enough, Randor is the one standing up for him. He is perhaps the only person ever to really love Keldor. Interesting but predictable. We probably could have guessed most of this.
What no one ever considered before, was that Keldor was the older brother.
Seriously. This changes everything.
Before, he was just some megalomaniac. He was just a James Bond villian who wanted to take over the world. Now….he’s the elder. He has a legitimate claim to the throne….perhaps even a more legitimate claim than Randor. His madness is what now makes him unfit to rule, but before losing his face and submitting to Hordak’s magic and apprenticeship?
This is a whole new dynamic. It took the MYP series to make this into a generational story. DC has taken it and turned it into a generational drama. I love this. I haven’t been this excited about MOTU in a very long time and it’s just great.
That wraps up this week. Christmas is coming. I hope you all survive it…I’m going to go look for He-Man shaped presents under the tree.
Last week we mentioned that we had to make some cuts to the promo we did for our Christmas party. Originally we included scenes of the girls in a trunk or a box that we thought were absurd, particularly their reactions to their situations. We were told it might offend someone because those things actually do happen sometimes. Sure I get that bad people sometimes do bad things, but we aren’t endorsing this kind of behavior, rather we are showing it as what NOT to do. My response was “If I can’t make fun of bad people, then who CAN I make fun of.”
Watching this video however, I have to admit, the other one that we went with is better. It’s a full thirty seconds longer and has more going on.
I’ve heard directors complain about how their work got compromised by the studio, Don Corselli in particular complains a lot about the studio butchering Phantasm 2. Sometimes, it’s for the best. I’ve seen the work print of P2. It’s crap. It needed lots of cutting and ADR. I’d even go as far to say I prefer James LeGros over Mike Baldwin (and that’s coming from a Phantasm fan). Sometimes, the director can get blinded by the “Purity” of his vision.
I’m not happy to have been censored, but it did force me to come up with something better and what we did come up with ended up being more involved, more fleshed out rather than just he quick (almost still images) shots we were going to use.
In any event, here’s the full version, uncut and uncensored.If it’s too offensive for you, head on over to Violent Blue and that should get you mind off it.
Why do we always picture Angels as bright and beautiful heavenly creatures?
The term Angel actually just means messenger. A number of the Angels we hear about in the Bible were likely just ordinary people delivering a message from God. Others however, like the ones the Shepard’s saw in the sky announcing Christ’s birth, were supernatural creatures. When we actually hear descriptions of them…particularly in Revelation, these things are not beautiful….they’re wierd. Possibly terrifying if you were to see one of these things crawling through your window. This had me thinking about the Angel that revealed to Mary that she would become pregnant by the Holy Spirit and deliver the messiah. None of this could have been good news….at least not initially. In this culture especially, this had to be a terrifying event…and just imagine if the message was delivered by one of the less…human looking Angels…..
I should be working on Violent Blue, but this image was floating around in my head and I just had to get it out. Scary Christmas everyone.
Thank you Christopher Plummer and Laruen Bacall!
This one isn’t for me though…this one was for my girls. Maddie in particular loves the Madeline movies, and Lydia watches them because it makes her sister happy. One day I noticed that Bacall was the voice in their favorite one. Knowing that I had already gotten her through the mail and also knowing that Mr. Plummer is very good about replying to fan mail I thought I’d try sending out to both of them in the hopes of getting a fun cover for my two girls. Unfortunately, shortly after I sent out to Bacall, the storm hit and New York wasn’t in great shape. No wonder it took her three months to reply. I’m pleased she did at all. Plummer turned this around in three weeks, and even dedicated it to my two little girls! This was just so nice, I love it! Thanks to both of them for this special gift for my daughters.
Die Hard this weekend! The perfect Christmas gift!
Seriously, what better way to get yourself into the Christmas spirit than watching Bruce Willis take on a bunch of terrorists barefooted with the help of the dad from the Urlke show?
My friend Mike was talking about coming up from Toledo to see it and I might even get my wife to come out. We’ll see you at the Capitol Saturday night at midnight!
Last week’s pulls
First and foremost, I’m SO dropping Bloodstrike, right now. Right this minuet. Bloodstrike was never cutting edge, throught provoking entertainment. It was at best, a cool shoot-em-up, big pretty fights with lots of lens flares and cross hatching, a very Image kind of book. It was fun and every issue that I’ve pulled out of the twenty five cent bins has been totally worth the quarter (or dime in some cases) that I have paid for it. This relaunched version, as I have stated previously, has taken anything that made the series fun and discarded it, what you’re left with is less than a soap opera. This panel alone is a good enough reason for me to drop this book and never look back. Actually the stars on her eyes instead of a mask are a good enough reason for me to drop this series and never look back. This book is becoming everything people make fun of in comic books.
I’m not so sure about Dial H. I’ve got a soft spot for comics that use characters or concepts I remember from reading the old ’85-’86 Who’s Who DC put out. I can see they are trying to build a mythology and it’s actually not a bad one, I’m just not sure it’s enough to hold my attention long enough to get where they are going. I got it last month too and I may stick around for one more issue.
I picked up Human Bomb solely on the strength of Jerry Ordway’s art. He’s always been one of my favorite artists, all the way back to his work on All Star Squadron. He defines what Superman should look like to me. So I’m always willing to gamble on a new title if he’s attached, but this one didn’t grab me exactly. I think I needed to see more story here, we get introduced to one of the construction workers building the new World Trade Center at Ground Zero, and he runs into an old army buddy from Iraq who turns out to be a Human Time Bomb, but out hero manages to absorb the blast….we find out there’s some connection to S.H.A.D.E……I’m a little lost. It wasn’t a good enough introduction to hook me. Pass on the rest of the series.
What I really want to talk about though…is Shadowman.
With the return of Valiant, I was extremely excited about a relaunched Shadowman. The Acclaim version was always unsatisfying, and in the two or three years it limped along it revamped itself three times. It was a poor decision to radically change the series the way Acclaim did, but that was less a creative decision than a business one to get Acclaim out of paying off some contracts….yadda yadda yadda. The final incarnation, with Shadowman being a kind of Voodoo hit man was possibly the best realized, but the series ended unfinished. Then again, I suppose you could make the same argument about the original series which intentionally ended on a cliffhanger in issue 43 (Which by the way, confused me for years. I can’t tell you how long I searched for issue 44.)
This version is a lot more like the Valiant one. Jack Boniface is the Shadowman again, though his backstory is different. He’s a museum curator rather than a musician and the Shadowman is now a family legacy. I can see the new Valiant borrowing many of the best elements from classic Valiant and Acclaim Valient to create a whole new concept. The hellish Deadside idea is still in play, as is the Shadowman’s ability to travel between worlds. Shadowman however is more a superhero again, with the idea that the loa affects, even takes over your personality during the night hours being ramped up. I have to admit, I don’t dig the mask, but I am enjoying the series so far and I’m eager to see where it goes. Let’s revisit this one after we’ve gotten six issue out huh?
Speaking of comics, there’s a new Violent Blue today. Head on over and check it out!
Oh. My. God.
Look what I just got! (If you happened to hear a loud scream coming from the Cleveland area this morning, that was me.)
Calvery Ridge Christmas Party
This is a little promo I did for my Church. We are doing a Christmas party for the kids this weekend, something to give parents a chance to run out and take care of last minuet Christmas chores without having to worry about what to do with their children. It features my beautiful wife, my two girls, one of the kids down the street….and a robot.
This video did get censored, and we removed two of the gags…but more on that next week hmmmm? For now sit back and enjoy “Places to not leave your children”
For more funny stuff, hit up my webcomic Violent Blue!
All film reviews are spoiler territory. Proceed at your own risk.
I took a break from Violent Blue finally caught up with the newest Bond film last weekend. I’m hearing a great number of positive reviews. Some say it’s the best Bond ever.
I certainly think it’s the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films. The action is well done and it has the same gritty feel as the previous ones. However it also does some things I really appreciated to make it feel more like a traditional Bond film. Most notably is the reintroduction of key characters like Q and Moneypenny.
It’s interesting to see them give Moneypenny a deeper background. I had thought that we had actually gotten some character development during the Brosnen era, especially with some of her flirtatious rejections of Bond, the smarter short haircut…I hadn’t realized how two dimensional the character really was until I saw what Naomie Harris did with the role. I love that the character now used to be a field agent and has some real understanding of the Spy world rather than merely being a secretary. I enjoy Naomie Harris much more in this role than I did in 28 Days later by the way.
What was done with Q was a stroke of genius. Perhaps that’s overstating it, but the decision to go with a young geeky actor instead of an old absent minded professor type is a really good one. It avoids comparisons with Desmond Llewelyn which just can not come out well, and actually managed to kind of sidestep the inherent goofiness of Q branch. I bought the character immediately and really loved him. It’s reminiscent of what they did when they replaced M with Judi Dench.
Ah, Judi Dench.
I’m not a Bond fanboy and hadn’t been following the making of this movie. Dench’s death took me completely off-guard, but it was so remarkably well done that I can’t fault it. I’ll miss her greatly, but I think Ralph Fines was an excellent choice for the replacement. He almost has a classic Bond feel to him.
My biggest complaints on this movie are twofold. First, I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Craig. I just don’t like him as bond. He’s too ugly for the role. I don’t buy women throwing themselves at him the way they are supposed to do with Bond. Pierce Brosnen? I’d almost sleep with him myself. Craig, nah. He never looks right in a suit. To their credit, the previous films have kept him out of suits for most of the film, but he wears one ALOT in this one. It just doesn’t work on him. Brosnen, Dalton, Connery, they could wear anything and it looked right. Craig really only looks right with an open collar and that’s just not Bond. If you divorce yourself from who he’s playing and think of him as just an action hero, it works better.
My other problem is that the movie is so derivative. I’ve seen most of this before. Sneak into M’s Apartment? Casino Royale. Rogue Agent is the villain? Goldeneye. Bond lost (dead)? Die another Day. Bond having to recoup and re qualify for duty? The World is Not Enough. Attack on MI6? World is Not Enough. There’s nothing NEW here until we hit the actual Skyfall estate, on the other hand, once we get there, the movie’s action is to die for. It’s brilliant.
This is very much a transition movie. It’s a pity it hadn’t come sooner in Craig’s tenure because I think I would have given his Bond a lot more slack if it had. It definitely is the best Bond film I’ve seen in well over a decade (and that despite my not liking this particular James Bond!). Catch it while it’s in the theater and buy it when it comes out on DVD.
Tis the season to kvetch
Allow me a slight indulgence today, I feel the need to complain a bit.
Every year, my wife complains that I am incredibly hard to shop for. I disagree with that assesment. It’s easy to see what I have, just walk into my library. It’s easy to find something for me if you know what I’m into.
Still, she pesters me to make a list. When I make her a straightforward list, she complains that everything on it is impossible to find. That might be true if we didn’t have used bookstores, record exchanges, all of Coventry street in Cleveland Heights or the internet.
So this year, after a couple of weeks of griping at me about getting her a list I gave her a wide open one.
1. A movie with my favorite actor in it (the guy in my favorite movie – his wife was nice enough to send me her autograph). I don’t have too many of his films, and I don’t think I have any with both him and his wife in it.
2. A graphic Novel with my second favorite hero in it. There should be a trade from the current series out. (I’d settle for my third favorite hero or his grandfather though)
3. A standing coat rack I can put in the living room or my Library.
4. An action figure of my favorite Doctor. There’s a set of all eleven, but there’s no point in spending $100 when there’s only three in that set I would want.
5. A book by my favorite author that I don’t have a paper copy of (ebooks don’t count)
She flipped out on me.
Admittedly, this isn’t a straightforward list, but it leaves a lot more room to pick and choose something. She called it a guessing game.
Perhaps trying to figure out my favorite Doctor Who is a little difficult, I’ll give you that one, but you know what? If she asked Johnny, or Rachel, or even my Mom, they would all tell her who it was with no hesitation.
The rest of that list – is it really unreasonable of me to expect my wife of eleven years (who has known me for fifteen) to know who my favorite actor is? Is unreasonable to expect her to know what my favorite movie is? Those things haven’t changed in all the time I have known her. I read at least ten books my favorite author every year. If you look in my Library you’ll see more books by Zelazny than anyone else.
I wouldn’t be offended by a wrong guess either if it were close. After all, I’ve taught classes on CS Lewis and I watch a lot of Peter Davidson other work. I also used to be really into Kevin Costner’s movies, though that was long before I met my wife.
But I come back to the question, is it unreasonable for me to expect her to know these things? I flat out told her what my favorite movie was less than six months ago and refered back to it less than two. I talked about my second favorite hero to her last month when I dressed up as him. If you just read this blog with any regularity (or scroll back through the posts) you will know these things. Of course she doesn’t read my blog (which actually hurts my feelings quite a bit) or my comic strip Violent Blue.
Keep in mind, I don’t have that much to complain about. My wife is faithful to a fault. The very idea of either of us ever cheating is so absurd neither one would ever consider it. When I arrive home at 3:00 AM there are no suspicions or questions. She has no problems with me attending conventions and getting into fandom. (I can think of one person that I almost married, who would have made me give things like that up completely) Let’s face it, she didn’t even get upset when I hit Horrorhound on our anniversary insted of staying home with her. (She got me a cute squishy TARDIS for our Anniversary by the way!). She’s a good mother to our children, and was pleasantly creative enough in the process of making them. She’s happy for me when I get a big yellow envelope in the mail, even though she rolls her eyes at it sometimes. She’s devoted to her faith and will drop everything to come and rescue me if I’m in trouble (usually involving my car). I have a GOOD wife. I don’t want this to make it look like I don’t.
But sometimes I wish she knew me better. I wish she spent time looking into my interests (The ones she dosen’t share) instead of letting me watch TV and go to movies alone. She tried to turn the tables on me asking “Well, do you know what MY favorite TV show is?” I immediately answered correctly “Dance Moms”, although you also never miss “CSI” despite the fact that Lawrence Fishbourn is gone and you really preferred William Peterson anyhow. Close runners up would Be “The Little Couple” and “Little People, Big World”…and actually you watch “Law and Order : SVU” more than anything else but that’s mostly because It’s on TV constantly and you do really like Martiska Hargitay. (I don’t like any of those shows BTW, though I watch most of them with her). I frequently feel like she puts me in this box, like I’m just some stupid guy who only watches horror movies and Doctor Who, and only reads comic books. There’s a lot more to me than that and I wish she saw that.
After all, it would make Christmas shopping a great deal easier for her.
I know this post is a bit early, but it’s almost midnight and that’s close enough to Tuesday for me. Deal with it.
So as you know by reading the post directly below this one, Madeline and I went to the opening of the Art pad in Cleveland this weekend. When I’m not creating art myself for Violent Blue or doing commissions, I really like taking my girls out to galleries and museums so they can see styles that are different from mine. We had a nice time, these guys throw a great party and Maddie came home with her very own piece of art. We had an equally spectacular time next door at the Gallery of Poetic Photography. More fine art there although I must admit being captivated by the spectacular Comic Book related art. There were giant replicas of comic covers, made into 3-d pieces, and a beautiful anime girl painted over a pinkish mirror. I’d love to give the gallery and it’s artist more credit, but I couldn’t find a web presence. If you guys see this, comment and I’ll be happy to link to you.
That’s not what Maddie wanted to share with you today.
We parked on the street over on west 42nd and Lorain, by a dance studio. Maddie got out of the car and got short of breath when she saw what we had pulled up next to. The murals covered the entire length of the wall and were just wonderful bits of street art lit perfectly by the harsh glare of the street lights.
It was the coolest possible way to start our Friday night and she told me she just had to share it with all of you.