Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Nine Nine Nine!

Happy 9/9/09 from... Square One!

Wow, I miss that show.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fictional Mortality

I've been drifting back to prose lately. Most of it is fantasy. Oh, I'm still reading comic books, don't get me wrong, but Marvel keeps getting bleaker, and my interest in that is decreasing at a higher rate than my interest in DC is increasing. And my interest in the DC monthlies is primarily the surreal metafiction (Air, The Unwritten, Greek Street...) that's been coming out of Vertigo lately.

My favorite fantasy series these days are urban. Not paranormal romance so much, but adventures centered on wizards and werewolves, peppered with vampires, fae, and djinn? Sure! A little romance on the side is good too. Spices things up a bit. And then there are the reasonably strong female protagonists:

-Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville, the snarky werewolf radio talk show host, whose personal growth is pronounced as the series progresses.

-Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson, the coyote shapeshifting VW mechanic with, among other things, a great gift for finding trouble (and getting out of it.) There is also a comic book mini-series, which I would recommend. The trade is coming out in late August, according to Amazon.

-Rachel Caine's Joanne Baldwin, a Weather Warden with slightly more strength than mental acuity. To be fair, though, she has more magic than most Wardens, and I think she's smarter than she lets on. Just started reading the series, though, so I can't know for certain...

Those are my three favorite series so far, but the world of urban fantasy is still pretty new to me, Buffy and Charmed episodes of my youth not withstanding.

And then there are the more traditional fantasy series, not the least of which is George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. I bring up ASoIaF because, well, let's put it this way. You learn very quickly not to get too attached to characters because NONE OF THEM are safe. POV characters are almost as vulnerable as non-POV characters, and none are exempt from the threats of mutilation, torture, death, or worse. (And believe me, there are fates worse than death in ASoIaF.) I don't think Martin will kill off all of the Starks (none of whom are named Tony or wear high-tech power armor, by the way), but you never know. The point is, I do know what to expect in terms of character death, I have since close to the beginning of the series, and I don't expect it to change.

Character death is somewhat less frequent in the urban fantasy series, but the key protagonists generally don't die, or if they do, they get resurrected pretty quickly for obvious reasons. It's okay to get attached to the leads, at least. The mortality rate for likable supporting characters is naturally higher.

But comic books. I thought I knew what to expect from Marvel, starting out. It's my own fault, really. I thought it was safe to get attached (as much as one can get attached to fictions), in spite of jumping in at the tail end of House of M, because they are comics and... yeah. I don't know why I assumed it was safe.

Of course, it's not safe. I know that now. Of my favorite trio -- I think of them as an unofficial trio, which I know I've mentioned before -- only one is neither dead nor MIA. That would be Sue Richards, who a few months ago I was almost certain they would send the way Janet van Dyne.

And I have no idea what terrible fate they have in store for Jennifer Walters. I'm not sure I want to know.

Ultimately, I'm not sure it's worth it. With the urban fantasies and ASoIaF, I know what to expect, and it's fine. The stories are good, sometimes great, and I can accept them for what they are. But the cape and cowl yarns? Story quality fluctuates depending on creative teams and editorial edicts. The constant isn't the storytelling, but the characters, and it's the characters I seem to follow. If my favorite characters go away, temporarily or (rarely if ever) permanently, then, I suppose, so do I.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Comic Shopping

So I met Kalinara for lunch today, and as it was a nice day, we went for a walk. During this walk we went to three stores, two of which were comic shops I'd never been to.

The first of these was hers. It was impressive. Twice as big as my LCS, it had a lot of merchandise, but still seemed open. It emphasized the games, I think -- they're the first things you see when you walk in -- but the comics section is pretty well organized, segregating titles by company or genre, and sorting them alphabetically. I found one issue of Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four I'd missed but hadn't found. There were more than a few tall shelves of trade paperbacks. We didn't really have time to peruse them, but I have a feeling I'll be going back at some point. Oh, and the staff seemed nice enough, too. Good vibes all around.

The second shop was not impressive. Small, and disorganized, it had long boxes strewn haphazardly under gaming tables and employees that didn't seem all that interested. I'd been keeping an eye out for an issue of Marvel Adventures Iron Man (the one featuring Yay!Spider Woman). We (well, Kali) asked whether they might have it, and one of them replied, "Probably not". Maybe he knew what he was talking about, but I kind of got the impression he just didn't want to bother. Then he went back to eating lunch. On the way out, we took a look at the back issue rack. Among other things, there was an issue of Anita Blake sandwiched between The Flash and Batman and the Outsiders. Which sounds like bad slash fic, but whatever. If the store survives the recession, I'll be surprised. That is, if I notice.

Later, at my own LCS, for which I have new appreciation, I found the Iron Man issue I was looking for. As part of a digest, but that's easier to store, anyway. That made me happy. But the real find of the day occurred not at a comic shop, but at a used bookstore. I'd been to the store before, but not to its second floor which has, among other things, television and film tie-in books:

Yes! It is a novel based on a screen-play for a notoriously bad film (which I haven't seen) based on comic books that aren't bad at all. I read the first chapter tonight. It's very meta, which I guess you have to expect. And it's probably better than the movie, since you actually picture comic book Howard, not a guy in a duck suit. (I still want to see the film, though, for the score if nothing else. John Barry is very good.)

It definitely takes precedence over finishing Twilight.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Which I Blame the Blogosphere

I am taking an English class right now. Well, it's really a writing class, and it counts as a writing credit to the institution I want to apply to. (I haven't applied. I'm scared to apply there again. I went to the campus today to meet Kalinara and somehow managed not to cry. Much. That campus is like a lost home. I practically grew up with it, or parts of it at least, and... and I digress...)

Anyway, I'm taking an English/Writing class in order to make my lost home happy, and we finally got our first essays back today. We get to rewrite them, which is good, because the class really has been more about literary discussion than writing techniques. Today was our first in-depth lecture on writing literary analysis, and guess whose essay was dissected by the professor for the class's benefit?


It was technically anonymous -- the prof. took my name off of the piece before throwing it up on the projector screen -- but people knew. Whatever. It doesn't really matter, and since the prof.'s handwriting is difficult to read, hearing his comments out loud helped me. And while the essay needs work (does it ever!), it was chosen because I did a few things correctly, such as write a kick-ass thesis statement. Whatever else I do to my essay, the thesis stays more or less the way it is.

I also did some things wrong. These were common enough errors, but I did learn that the way the Comics Blogosphere often seems to talk about its literature does not fly in a formal classroom setting. These are the three top things I learned today:
  1. Slang is not a good idea. I really didn't mean to use it. Oops.
  2. The characters are not real people. We know that, of course, but we fans often talk about them as though they are. This is fine when you're talking about the direction you'd like to see your serial fiction take, I think, or if you're writing fanfiction. Or role-playing, or something. This is not so fine if you are analyzing Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" for an academic audience.
  3. Speculation is also a Bad Thing. See Number 2.
I blame you, Comics Blogosphere. You are a bad influence.

Friday, February 06, 2009


I have made a fanvid. Of this I am quite proud.

Description (also on YouTube):

This is a tribute to a webcomic called The Dreamer, written and drawn by Lora Innes. Read it here: I've been wanting to make a fanvid for a while now, and this is my first... Well, it's my second, but it's the first that I can actually share. Still, I think this turned out reasonably well, and it wouldn't have if I hadn't found just the right music...

The music, by the way, is "Fur Elise", (composed by Beethoven, 'natch), as played by Taimane Gardner. It's from her album LOCO PRINCESS. Check out her homepage,, or listen to her at Tribe of Noise (

The track is used with permission and under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license (

Sunday, January 04, 2009


This house ad appears in Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #43:

I'm guessing that the answer is "no".

Saturday, January 03, 2009

30-Second Recap

The following is my entry for Chris Sim's 2008 30-Second Recap Contest. I tried to take on Marvel's True Believers mini-series...

Note: I did take the cat photo myself. (She's my brother's cat. I really wish he'd name her.) Anyway, photography's drawing with light. I drew it with light myself, and then pasted it into MSPaint.

Wow. This is the second time I've done this, and the second time I've worried about disqualification.

Oh well!

Fantastic Four #562

***This review is spoilerish. You've been warned.***

I like Between Stories. You know, the pause in the action, the issue where the characters take a breather in preparation for the next attack or crisis. Fantastic Four #562 is an issue full of Between Stories, and plenty promises to happen.

Of course, it starts with Sue Storm Richards's funeral. The kicker? Sue gives her own eulogy. One thing I don't get about this scene, though, is the fact that everyone seems to assume that the Future Sue in the grave is the Official Future Sue. There may be infinite Alternate Future Sues, branching off from Official 616!Sue, with permanent microscopic tracking devices. (I picture something that looks like a cladogram.) I guess that wouldn't make the mourning any less profound, though. (Imagine, speaking at what is sort of maybe your own funeral. Yikes.)

Okay, I have to move on to the other Between Stories contained within this issue, inasmuch as overthinking Marvel's time travel logic is never a good idea.

Ben is happy (really genuinely happy) for once. Five beautiful (Bryan Hitch deserves his reputation) pages are devoted to this. Can't argue with that. Ben needs all the genuine happiness he can get his mitts on. There promises to be more for him. But where is Alicia in all of this?

Dr. Doom is in jail, and he has a word of warning. Apparently there is a villain coming that gives even Doom chills. Is this something connected to Marvel 1985? I have no idea. I haven't read it. Anyway. Doom gets to be ominous. He's good at that.

Please do not let this be foreshadowing.

Finally -- and I've been recounting this out of order -- there is Valeria's super-genius intellect, which she has just recently revealed to the rest of the family. I like this concept. I like the possibility of a future genius Invisible Girl. And in current continuity, it opens up some interesting possibilities, throwing the "family dynamic" into more than the usual "flux". Also, Franklin is jealous.

Yeah. That can't be good.

The Franklin panel appears about halfway through the magazine, and nothing afterward -- not Doom, not Ben, not Crazy Powerful New Villain -- even comes close to matching the Holy Cow Factor.

Everything in the Millar/Hitch run has been connected so far. I doubt that will change, and I look forward to discovering how, exactly, the Between Stories dovetail into Stories Proper.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Reading Twilight

Reading notes for Chapter 11 ("Complications") of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight:
  • Ooh, movie day in science class
    • What high schooler doesn't like that?
    • But of course Bella can't focus on it.
    • Duh, Edward's right there.
    • Ohh, Edward, with his perfect face.
    • Zot, zot.
  • Next class.
  • Bella cannot bear to part with Edward!
  • Aww, Mike's all chivalrous in Gym.
    • Poor Mike.
    • Great guy with no taste in girls.
    • But he's perceptive.
    • He knows Edward wants to eat Bella.
    • Probably doesn't know that Edward literally wants to eat Bella.
    • (We the readers do!)
    • But Bella could probably figure that one out.
    • Listen to Mike, Bella!
    • You idiot.
  • Driving with Edward, blah, blah, blah.
  • Hunting with vampires is dangerous for humans.
  • More electricity. Zot, zot.
  • Dreams of Edward.
  • Chat with Charlie.
    • Yes, Bella, Charlie might take issue with your possible necrophilia.
    • Not that it matters, 'cause adults are useless.
  • Bella's favorite color of the day is brown.
    • Because it's warm.
    • It's also the color of...
    • Nevermind.
    • She doesn't say it, I just think it.
  • Edward is such a stalker.
  • Oh, come on Bella, how hard is badminton?
    • For a more-or-less able-bodied idiot, I mean?
  • Exit Edward (finally).
  • Enter Jacob the Complication.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Reading Twilight into the New Year

Reading notes for Chapter 10 ("Interrogations") of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight:
  • It is a foggy morning.
  • Edward gives Bella a ride to school.
    • Overprotective, much?
  • She likes his smell.
    • They are compatible in an olfactory way.
  • Vampires like fast cars.
  • Yes, everybody stare at Bella and her beau.
  • Jessica grills Bella about Edward.
    • They continue to be boy obsessed for two class periods.
  • Vampires can eat solid food.
    • Like people can eat dirt.
    • So can vampires get pica?
  • Edward wants to know everything Bella thinks.
    • And would like to censor her thoughts, if only he could...?
  • All the guys at Forks High want Bella?
    • Really?
    • Why, for gods' sakes???
  • Bella and Edward have a long lunchroom conversation.
  • Vampires like to eat mountain lions.
    • And bears.
    • (And presumably tigers.)
    • Oh my.

Happy New Year!

Forget resolutions. I need a theme song for 2009. Something to live by. Something that makes me happy.

I think it will be "Steer" by Missy Higgins.

My heart can be fierce. Yes it can!


If I'm not careful, this will start to sound like a New Year's resolution, so I'll stop now.

Bring on 2009!