Friday, March 31, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - April 5, 2006:

Annihilation Silver Surfer #1 (Decent issue, and much more action-oriented than the last Surfer misfire)
Batman And The Monster Men #6 (Somewhat weak compared to the rest of the series, but still a plenty solid ending)
Ex Machina #19 (Mayor Hundred enters the war on terror... interesting stuff, as always)
Ex Machina Vol 3 Fact V Fiction Tp (Glad to see a new trade for this series)
Exterminators #4 (It ain't getting any less bizarre)
Jonah Hex #6 (Nuns with guns, and artist Luke Ross is back!)
Marvel Zombies #5 (The ending I'd guessed a couple issues back, along with more gory dark humor... a surprisingly fun series)
Young Avengers #11 (A pretty great issue, revealing some more secrets and Marvel backstory on the Young Avengers... if Heinberg was writing New Avengers, I'd probably read it)

Aquaman Sword Of Atlantis #41 (Curious to see more of this new direction)
Archenemies #1 (Roommate buddy comedy crossed with superheroes, looks fun)
Astro Gn (Gorgeous artwork)
Detective Comics #818 (Really enjoying James Robinson's One Year Later Batman tale)
Infinite Crisis #6 (Truthfully, I'm kind of curious to see how this all ends up now, and I'm almost buying into the 52 hype)
Local 2nd Prtg #1 (If you missed it, here's your chance to get one of the best comics produced in the last few months)
Octopus Girl Vol 1 (Horror manga from Dark Horse)
Planetary #25 (I'm still not sure if I'll pick up the collected edition of this series when all is said and done, but I'm leaning towards yes, if Ellis and Cassaday wrap it up soon and in a satisfying manner)
PVP #25
Strangetown #1 (Chynna Clugston and Ian Shaughnessy offer up a tale of a quirky town)
Superior Showcase #1 (Superheroes by indy creators, in the vein of the excellent Project: Superior)
Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol 5 Crossover Tp (After enjoying Marvel Zombies, I'm curious to read this arc that introduced them)
Ultimate X-Men #69 (Found the last issue a little weaker, but I'm still intrigued by Kirkman's old school style Ultimate X-Men)
Y The Last Man #44 (Always a favorite read)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Blog Template Update for March
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, listing my Favorite Comics of the Month, which is my counterpart to Current Favorite TV series, as well as my ten favorite graphic novel reads of the month.

A couple things of note in how I organize these things, for those who care. These listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. And each month, I'm recommending twenty things that I read in the month instead of 10 ongoing series and 5 first issues. It's less useful as a gauge of my overall tastes, but more useful as a "must-read" for the month. Oh, and graphic novels won't be listed in Favorite Comics... that's strictly for issues.

I'm now including links to the Amazon listings for my top ten trades. I encourage folks to visit their local comic shops if that's an option, but if it's not and you want to click through on the link to buy at Amazon, I think I earn, like, a nickel or something for each purchase made. At any rate, in addition to my top ten, other trades I read and liked this month included La Perdida, Essential Arsenic Lullaby Vol. 2: The Donut Cometh, Planetes Vol. 3 and Northwest Passage Vol. 2.

Finally, the updates are for the month of March... April just barely started. So all my favorites will be anywhere from a week to a full month old, but these are meant to be sort of "standing" preferences anyway.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Great Day:
It's really a rarity to have those days where you're so happy you can physically feel it. Today was one of those days.

Though the big party is next Sunday to accommodate everybody's schedules, today was my daughter's third birthday. Which means it was a reminder to me of how much joy and love she's brought into my life, and it also meant I got a chance to see her at her happiest, which always makes me happier too. We went with Grammy and Papa J (my parents, who live here in town) to Geoffrey's Toys R Us, with cash from Pops and Gigi (Suzanne's parents, who we visited last weekend in Dallas) to buy her some presents. And Katy had a great time.

She was really good, too. She knew what she wanted, and she didn't do the greedy kid thing of just taking every single thing. She'd put some things back, but when she found something she wanted, I knew it. And it went in the cart. All told, she got a new pink Barbie ballerina dress (or another "princess dress" as she calls them), some plastic sandals with hearts on them ("princess shoes"), a Tiger electronics stuffed jaguar that lifts its head and moves its eyes, or will when we get batteries for it ("Baby Jaguar," that one courtesy of Dora) a bigger stuffed jaguar ("Mommy Jaguar"), and a Barbie mermaid doll (Katy's real into mermaids right now, and our Little Mermaid VHS tape is on constant daily rotation at our house... wish Disney would put the frickin' DVD back in print). We then had lunch, where she got free cake with a candle in it, and also got to open presents from Grammy, Papa J and (sent by mail) her Aunt Wendy and Uncle Doug. She had a great time, and despite being somewhat sleep deprived (her fault, not ours), was in a pretty great mood.

Then we heard back about our house, and got a counter-offer that we accepted. So it looks like Suzanne and I will be getting the new house we wanted... now we just have to put our current house on the market and hope it goes as fast (and for as much money) as we have guesstimated based on looking around and conversing with our realtor.

I worry a lot. About money (comic book retail is not exactly a job you retire on, or live high on the hog while doing), about politics, about society in general, about little stupid things (like Thing getting cancelled when it's one of my favorite books) and bigger things (like whether or not the government is as well and truly fucked as it seems), and it's nice every so often to realize that all that shit, all that negative shit, doesn't really matter all the time. When my daughter is smiling, my wife is happy, my family and friends are healthy... that's all I need, some days.

And those are the great days.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - March 29, 2006:

Banana Sunday Tp (Fun and funny trade from Oni)
Hellblazer Lady Constantine Tp (Early period actioner by Andy Diggle)

Action Comics #837 (Wasn't crazy about the first issue, but I'll give it a couple issues)
All Star Superman #3 (After how much I enjoyed #2, very much looking forward to the latest issue of this quarterly series)
East Coast Rising Vol 1 (Becky Cloonan's OEL manga... can't wait)
Essential Arsenic Lullaby Vol 2 Tp (Long delayed collection of the outrageously offensive humor comic)
Essential Nova Vol 1 Tp (Probably won't be getting this now, as I've got a half dozen other Essentials to read, but it's a possibility in the future)
Fallen Angel #4 (Still not crazy about the art, but the last issue was really, really good)
Godland #9 (One of my favorite comics running, a perfect fun superhero comic book)
Invincible #30 (Kind of bored with the story on this one right now, but it usually wins me back)
Middleman Vol 2 #2 (Another favorite, always makes me laugh)
Paradox #2 (Steampunk sort of magic detective book, first issue was good)
Queen & Country #29 (The long-awaited return)
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #3 (Solid action book set in the Star Wars universe)
Star Wars Return Of Tag & Bink Special Ed #1 (The previous Tag & Bink comics were really funny)
Strange Detective Tales Dead Love #2 (Enjoyed this off-beat tale of quirky pulp detective tales using monsters)
Super Real #2 (Curious to see where this tale of superhero reality shows goes)
Surrogates #5 (The conclusion of one of the best science fiction tales ever published in comics)
Thing #5 (One of about five ongoing Marvel books that I'd call great)
Usagi Yojimbo #92 (Always terrific)
Walking Dead #27 (Last issue was a high point, glad to see another so quick on the heels)
Zombie Tales The Dead #1 (Boom!'s zombie stories have generally been pretty entertaining)

Monday, March 20, 2006

T-Shirt Sale!:
Threadless, a cool T-shirt place that lets people upload their designs and then vote on which ones should get made, is having one of their regular $10 T-Shirt sales. I've got two Threadless tees in my wardrobe already, and I've added two more this time out, Chance and Legendary Design Failure

The $10 sale only lasts through Wednesday at 10 am, but it's worth looking now if you're the kind of person who likes T-shirts.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - March 22, 2006:

Captain America #16 (It's not Captain America to me, but it's still a pretty good action-oriented read)
Catwoman #53 (A good OYL jumping-on point, with really nice art by Fallen Angel's David Lopez, and I think I need to go back and read more of Pfeifer's Catwoman)
Daredevil #83 (Really not sure about Foggy's death, but it's propelling an interesting story, and something Dakota North says on the last page makes me think it *might* be a fakeout and he might still be alive, which would salvage the whole thing for me)
Daughters Of The Dragon #3 (OK, I'm really digging this story, which has a nice blend of humor and action, great art and a bit of an old school Marvel Universe feel reminiscent of She-Hulk at times)
Incredible Hulk #93 (Well, I like the covers, at any rate)
Manhunter #20 (The One Year Later issue, and I've started to think this might be DC's most underrated superhero book)
She-Hulk 2 #6 (Starfox sued for sexual assault... another example of the clever legal/superhero maneuvering in She-Hulk, and another great issue)
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #4 (Continues to be a great teen romance comic that not enough people are reading)
X-Factor #5 (One-shot tale of Siryn and Rictor, a nice moody horror/character piece)

Batman #651 (The second part of my favorite OYL story so far)
Concrete Vol 4 Killer Smile Tp (Concrete vs. a serial killer... guess I need to get around to reading vol. 3 soon)
Exiles #78 (The World Tour continues, and as long as Bedard is on this book, I'm still reading)
Jeremiah Harm #2 (More sci-fi from Giffen/Grant, and after enjoying Giffen's Annihilation Prologue last week, I'm in the mood for more of this kind of stuff)
Noble Causes #18 (The Nobles vs. Blackthornes story continues)
Runaways Vol 5 Escape To New York Digest Tp (Two digests of the second Runaways series now out... when do we get a hardcover?)
Supermarket #2 (First issue was a big hit for me, looking forward to the second. My second-favorite Brian Wood title at the moment)
Top 10 The Forty Niners Sc (The last Top Ten, sadly, but at least it's really good)
True Story Swear To God #16 (The last issue before Image... or is there one more?)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fuck You, WB:
You deserve to die and be merged with UPN into what will hopefully be a smarter network. I was mildly annoyed when Angel was cancelled at peak performance, but it was five seasons in and got a good ending, so que sera sera...

But I just watched the Global Frequency pilot, and it was damned good. Could easily have gone up next to Battlestar Galactica and 24 in my second tier of favorite shows. Good writing, nice translation of Ellis's comic into TV while filtering well into the new medium and a very good cast. Michelle Forbes was, as expected, perfect as Miranda Zero, but I was also quite pleased with Aimee Garcia as Aleph (just the right blend of smart, sarcastic and upbeat, a nice counter to Miranda). And the two regular leads, ex-cop Sean Flynn and scary smart scientist Katrina Finch, could easily have developed into a likable regular field team. I'm particularly sad to note that Australian actress Jenni Baird, who played Finch with the perfect blend of intelligence, social awkwardness and cute charm, doesn't have any further IMDB credits beyond the pilot, leading me to think the WB execs cost us a potentially good actress for future shows.

If you have the means, I recommend taking a look at the Global Frequency pilot. It's entertaining all on its own, even if it does have that sting of "damn, what this could have been" attached to it.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Global Hobo:
Lots of posts from me today. I'm still working my way through everything I picked up at STAPLE!, but two things I read recently were minicomics: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Monday Part One by Andy Hartzell. Both were represented by Global Hobo, which looks like a consortium to promote (and maybe print?) quality mini-comics. These guys had an impressive table at STAPLE!, and I had to really resist buying one of everything. As it is, I think I went back twice to pick up stuff. Check them out at
True Loves:
Since I don't do the Down The Line thing right now, I don't get to give shout-outs to the numerous cool indy projects out there for preorder.

However, at STAPLE! I finally bought the You Ain't No Dancer anthology, and the folks I bought it from also handed me a postcard for their next publication, called True Loves. There's a free 10-page preview up at their site, and it's sold me on preordering the book, so I figured it might sell a few other folks as well.

How Great is Scott Morse?:
He's posted some preview pages of Along These Fiery Paths, his next graphic novel, and they look great. Can't wait to see Noble Boy, his next GN, which should be coming out soon.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Rising Stars of Manga:
You can read 20 short manga stories (OEL and otherwise) at the Tokyopop Manga Talent Competition, the latest round of their Rising Stars of Manga competition. Then you vote, and the best ones will be printed, and might get a series deal out of the whole thing. Some of the past Rising Stars have been really good, and really, 20 free short stories is nothing to sneeze at. Thanks to Johanna Draper Carlson for the link on this one.
Convention Planning:
Given how much I enjoyed STAPLE! this year, I've started to think about what conventions I might want to attend this year. Those conventions include APE, SPX, Stumptown, Comicon and MoCCA. And if I had money and unlimited vacation time, I would certainly go to San Francisco, Maryland, Portland, San Diego and New York this year. Since I am instead broke and on very limited vacation time, I think it's more likely that my cons this year will be as follows:

N.O.D.I.Y. - I believe that this New Orleans small press/alternative media show is going on this summer, but I can't remember when. June, maybe? This one's an almost certainty, as I can drive down with my friends (much cheaper than flying), stay with friends (hopefully, although if not maybe we can swing the hostel that we stayed at last time for cheap) and, most important of all, catch some of the culture and food of New Orleans again. Not to mention, it's a chance to visit Leo and Michelle (and maybe Ronee). 95% certainty.

San Diego - This one is in July. I have no hotel room booked, and I'm not sure I can afford the flight. I'm sure I can't really afford to drop the cash in the exhibition hall. But damnit, I love San Diego and I really want to go. If I've got nobody to stay with, I might have to skip it, but I'm betting I'll wind up doing San Diego again this year. 60% certainty.

Stumptown - This show sounded like a blast, and it's just a bit bigger than STAPLE!, which is the size I like. I've also been dying to visit Portland, and my buddy Chris will probably go up for the show, which means I'll have someone to hang out with (and maybe split hotel room costs). If I hit San Diego, that may kill the budget, but I'm really hoping to go to Stumptown this year in October. 60% certainty, 75% if I don't go to San Diego.

I would also really like to take a trip to Las Vegas with friends at some point. Oh, and I'll have to get out to Miami when my sister's baby is born in August. I wish I could afford all this travel.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - March 15, 2006:

Annihilation Prologue (Interesting start to a new cosmic epic, with great art by Scott Kolins)
Batman Legends Of The Dark Knight #201 (Christos Gage of Deadshot starts off an intriguing Clayface arc)
Birds Of Prey #92 (One Year Later issue, and it's off to a promising start)
DMZ #5 (A one-shot involving a chase through Manhattan, one of the strongest issues of the series thus far)
Planetary Brigade #2 (Funny in places, but just a very solid superhero outing in general. Better than Hero Squared for me, actually)
Runaways #14 (Great first issue of a new story arc, revealing the nature of the new Pride)

Atheist #3 (The long delays are killing this book for my customers, but it's still great Hester-written comics)
Batman Year One Hundred #2 (Really enjoyed the first issue of Paul Pope's futuristic Batman)
Conan #26 (Always enjoyable)
Essential Godzilla Tp (Finally! I was starting to think we'd never see it. This will probably be cheesy, but it will also probably be fun)
Girls #11 (Still bewildered by what exactly is going on, but still engaged in the story as well)
Grounded #5 (Wow, long delay between issues, but the art on this book is fantastic)
Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006 (The success of a couple One Year Later books has me more interested in seeing how exactly the Crisis shakes out)
JLA Classified #18 (Solid, middle-of-the-road superhero tale by Simone and Garcia-Lopez)
Pizzeria Kamikaze Tp (I bought Tomer Hanuka's Placebo Man last week, and this collects the other half of Bipolar, the Hanuka brothers' series)
PVP #24 (Hilarity ensues. As always)
Seven Soldiers Bulleteer #4 (I've been enjoying this back-half of Seven Soldiers mini)
Superman #650 (First of the One Year Later Superman by Johns and Busiek... after how much I enjoyed Detective, I'm kind of jazzed to see if they can similarly reinvigorate Superman)
Truth Justin & American Way #1 (Nice art, writing by the creators of PVP and Nodwick, should be fun)
Ultimate X-Men #68 (Caught the first couple issues of Kirkman's run a week ago, and really dug it... looking forward to seeing where he's going)
Walking Dead #26 (Grrr. Aargh.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Oscars:
Boy, do people like to gripe about the Oscars. From who got left off the nominations to who got robbed by someone else winning to how bad the new host stunk, it's just bitch, bitch, bitch.

Usually, the Oscars barely even rate a blip on my radar. The choices of the Academy and my choices for great, memorable films are usually miles apart, and for all that I like Billy Crystal in general, his Oscar hosting stints have never really been enticing to me.

This year, I actually watched the Oscars. Partly because the nominated films and actors were much more interesting to me than usual, and in large part because Jon Stewart of the Daily Show was tapped to host. Oh, and because I have a Tivo. I watched the whole show in two hours, by skipping through the things I didn't want to see. Things like being lectured on how I should really pay to see movies in the theatre, and you can't get the majesty of film on DVD. I really enjoyed that Jake Gyllenhall more or less laughed at that when it was forced into his introduction speech.

So what happens? Lower than usual viewership and a bunch of people saying that Jon was an unsuccessful host. Many people griping that Crash, the surprise win for Best Picture, was the "safe" choice. Me, I was thrilled to see Brokeback go on less of a win streak, if only because I'm not a gigantic Ang Lee fan and I suspect that I'm not going to enjoy the movie as much as everyone else did when the DVD finally comes out. But mostly it was because I saw Crash, and I thought it was the best film I saw that year. Now, in fairness, it is the only best picture nominee I saw, and I'm sure I'll love Goodnight and Good Luck, Munich and probably Capote too, but I found Crash to be a really great movie. But then, I've always liked Paul Haggis's work since back in the EZ Streets days. I suspect it was a very near thing, as Crash won for best screenplay, but Brokeback won for best adapted screenplay and best director. Had Brokeback picked up one of the acting wins, I bet it would've been best picture.

Yes, Stewart did seem a little stiff and uncomfortable during his monologue. But hey, he was talking to an unusual crowd, and was probably nervous and maybe even a little bit starstruck to realize who was in his audience. He got considerably better throughout the night, though, and his comments on the silliness of some of the overblown montages ("And none of those things were ever a problem again") made the saccharine, self-congratulatory nature of the Oscars a lot more fun for this viewer. If they have him back next year, I'll probably watch. Although truthfully, if they took up some viewers' suggestions and put Clooney in as host, I'd watch that too, because I've always liked the guy and I thought he came across as genuine, funny and easy-going in his acceptance speech ("So I guess I'm not winning best director"), his introduction speech and the funny bit in the opening sequence with Stewart.

Loved that the 36 Mafia won for best song, as they were the only performance I didn't fast-forward through. Would have loved to see Terrence Howard win best actor, but was thoroughly pleased to see one of the great A-list actors of our time, Philip Seymour Hoffman, get the nod. Was really hoping to see Felicity Huffman pull an upset, but Reese Witherspoon is a solid actress and her speech was so sweet that I couldn't begrudge her. Thought pretty much everyone in the supporting actor race had earned an Oscar in one of their various roles, and I'm sure most if not all of them will eventually be Oscar winners. Certainly Paul Giamatti will be picking up one of those statues in the next few years. I was shocked that Amy Adams didn't win for Best Supporting, and she was great in the mostly dull Junebug, but I actually liked the movie and the performance from Rachel Weisz, so that was pretty cool.

The technical and design Oscars seemed pretty evenly split amongst King Kong, Narnia and Geisha, such that none could claim a complete win but everybody got a little taste. All in all, I thought this was a pretty good Oscar year, and while I personally might have put other films, actors or directors in certain races, I think all of the nominee choices were worthy ones. If the show they put on next year is of this caliber, I'll be watching again.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Fourth Rail Returns:
Nope, I'm still mostly retired, but just in case you haven't heard elsewhere, Don is back to posting regular reviews on The Fourth, along with an explanation for what happened to all the content in January and February.

I'll be writing the occasional column, to go up sometime in the next week or two.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

STAPLE! 06 post-game report:
Or, "Why Randy won't be drinking again for a long time."

STAPLE! 2006 was a blast, and a success by all measures. I just got off the phone with Chris "Uncle STAPLE" Nicholas and he told me that attendance was solid, the live art show was a raging success (every piece of art sold, and attendance of the live art show was somewhere around 150 people or more) and basically, everybody he talked to had a great time. Every exhibitor I talked to made their table and more, and I know for certain that Danielle Corsetto sold out all the Crazy Papers she had and sketched like crazy, that Jim Mahfood sold out pretty much everything he brought, that the Mechanical Bunny folks did great business with their monster pillows, hair clips, etc. Basically, it seemed like it was a great show. Next year... we'll be even bigger.

As for my part, I had a great time as well. The Friday night pre-party at Austin Books was great, and I got to meet (or re-meet) Tony Millionaire, Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots), Ronee Bourgeois (Buzzscope) and several other folks. Saw Leo and Michelle from New Orleans again, which was great. Met Justin Davis, a comics fan who'd just moved to Austin in the last month. Hung around quite a bit with Nate Southard, and finally introduced myself to Jillian, manager of First Federal who I had talked to on several prior occasions. A bunch of us went to Dan's to grab a bite to eat at about 10:45, roughly 15 minutes before they closed. We felt bad and told them we could go, but they said to go ahead and order, so we did, and then proceeded to stick around, making loud and (to us) hilarious conversation for probably another half hour. They probably wanted to kill us... but hell, we gave them an out and they turned it down.

From there, it was on to the Flametrick Subs show at Beerland. Wherein there was much merriment, Satanic rockabilly music, Satan's Cheerleaders and lesbian hijinx. On the drive down, I got to reviewer geek out with Ronee, which was a lot of fun.

I showed up around 10:00, with Katy in tow so that Suzanne could get a little extra sleep. We walked around and Katy was shy but had fun, even if she did drag me away from every table after about 5 seconds of standing still. Bought her a pair of monster barettes that she loved, and she got to hug some of the monster pillows and play with Miss Monster's plush monsters as well. Katy isn't scared of monsters... to her, monsters are the good guys in Monsters, Inc. or on Sesame Street. She's scared of Swiper the Fox from Dora. Which is good, because Swiper isn't really even a villain. He's usually just trying to take a bunch of stuff from the heroes and throw it far away or dump it in a lake. He's not a villain, he's just kind of a dick.

Anyway, around 12:00, when Katy was getting really tired of being there with me, Suzanne showed up to get her. She made one lap around the place and then headed home with Katy in tow, and I finally got a chance to look around. I made a point of getting my sketchbook to Danielle and picking up her graphic novel Crazy Papers. Also finally got a sketch from Rafael, and it was as great as I expected, a cool sketch in my theme sketchbook. I didn't buy much more in my first pass, spent a lot of time hanging around at the tables next to each other that housed Rafael, Nate and Ronee.

I caught the Xeric Grant panel, which I had helped recruit folks for back in the early planning days, and was very pleased by how it all worked out. The four speakers were really laid back and knowledgeable, there was a good vibe going, and the hour-long panel just breezed by.

Grabbed lunch at Schlotzky's around 2:00, then came back and worked the admissions table until around 4:30. There were some volunteers from an event-planning course who were helping out, and they were all very nice to talk to. There was a youngish guy, a very cute girl with the most adorable southern accent I've ever heard and a woman who worked in professional conference planning who was just astounded at the general level of goodwill, fun and relative ease that came in the planning and running of a comics show. Sadly, I don't recall the names of most of them, but I know that the woman's name was LaTonia. There was a pretty steady flow of attendees coming in.

After that, I got up and walked around again, this time inspired by Leo's purchases to go and seek out more stuff to buy. I stopped at Emily Benz and Summer McClinton's table to grab their ashcan preview of Thread #2. Got a copy of Bronx Angel as thanks for the quote I gave it in online form, and I look forward to reading the whole thing printed. Among the stuff I bought was Cartoons As American as Bald Eagles and Hair Restoration Products, American Born Chinese 2.1 and 2.2, Pipedream (an anthology), Monday Part One, You Ain't No Dancer (another anthology) and SPQR Blues. A relatively light load compared to my usual convention haul, but that's in large part because I wasn't grabbing up review copies of everything. And I'm actually kind of relieved not to have to review a bunch of stuff. Instead, I'll just be able to read at my leisure and really enjoy everything I got.

After the show closed down, about a dozen of us went across the street to Korea House, where we had some really good food. Then we split up to head to the Live Art Show at the Ritz. I drove my car home, and Toby Craig left his car at my place as well, then we got in the car with Leo and Michelle to head downtown. We parked under the highway for $5, and walked out to the Ritz.

The top floor of the Ritz was a great venue for the live art show. There was a bar and the show, and then if you went up the stairs a bit there were tables, chairs, booths, etc. Chris had already snagged a booth area, so we went up and joined him. By the time the art show really got started, the crowd up there included me, Chris, Dave Lamplugh (of You Chose Right The First Time), Ronee, Nate, Shawna (Nate's girlfriend), Rafael, my friend Tess, Jillian, Leo, Michelle, Toby and probably any number of other people I'm forgetting. The Ritz got trashed last weekend, so the water wasn't working, which was a bit of a bummer since you couldn't wash your hands in the bathroom, but it turned out to be a fairly minor thing.

We got in a little after 10:00, probably close to about 10:30. And within the next hour, I drank six rum and cokes. And THAT'S THE LAST THING I REMEMBER. This marks the first time I've ever lost memory as a result of drinking, and lemme tell ya folks, it ain't a fun experience. I'll spare you the gory details of my rough night after I got home, but suffice to say that the next flash of memory I have it sitting in in the bathroom throwing up... again. I spent a good chunk of Sunday more or less wishing I was dead. Lesson learned? FOUR Rum and Cokes. No more. And even that probably should not be drunk within an hour. Good lord. At any rate, hopefully I didn't do anything too tasteless or embarrassing. Chris tells me I fell down the stairs at one point, but that doesn't surprise me at all. When I came in and saw stairs, my mind did the equation of stairs + drinking = Randy is going to stumble down these steps at some point.

At any rate, now after a day of recovering from the hangover from hell and the after-effects of vomiting for hours, I'm feeling mostly human again. I even got a nice little bonus email from Tess, who told me she had bought the red art piece that Mahfood did early on and was going to sell it to me for cheap, which makes Tess officially my best friend for the next week at least. And now I'm off to catch up on some TV, maybe watch some of the Oscars, before I have to get up early tomorrow and head in to do inventory at the store.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - March 8, 2006:

American Virgin #1 (Great first issue, terrific art by Becky Cloonan and a nice "where the hell do they go from here?" ending. Not quite sure it'll land in Fables/Y territory, but it's a solid opener for a new Vertigo book)
Batman And The Monster Men #5 (Still loving Matt Wagner's take on Batman)
Birds Of Prey Between Dark And Dawn TP (Hooray, more Gail Simone penned Birds of Prey!)
Exterminators #3 (Just... bizarre. I'm not honestly sure if I like it or not, but I'll be damned if it ain't compelling reading)
Fables #47 (Fantastic issue, tying the story nicely back into the main tale)
Sentinel Squad One #3 (Another fun, action-oriented issue, with the use of Savage Land dinosaurs a particularly inspired touch)

Abandoned Vol 1 (Ross Campbell's zombie manga... love his art, can't wait to read this)
Brownsville Hc (Neil Kleid's tale of Jewish gangsters)
Fell #4 (Finally, another issue of Fell)
Invincible #29 (Finally, another issue of Invincible, too)
La Perdida Gn (Read the first issue of Jessica Abel's tale of Mexico and loved it, then decided to wait for the collection... which is finally here)
Maxx Book Six Tp (Completing Sam Kieth's Maxx reprints... now I can go back, reread and decide if the whole thing makes any sense at all)
Placebo Man Tp (I'm a bigger fan of Tomer Hanuka, but since Pizzeria Kamikaze isn't out this week (hopefully next), I might give the collection of his brother's work a shot)
Retro Rocket #1 (This robot/adventure story from Tony Bedard looks like fun)
Sky Ape King Of Girls One Shot (The last of the bizarre, hilariously funny Sky Ape tales)
Socom Seal Team Seven Gn (This sounded like a good action premise, the Navy vs. Atlantis)
Transformers Infiltration #3 (Surprisingly, I'm quite enjoying IDW's take on the Transformers)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blog Template Update for February
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, listing my Favorite Comics of the Month, which is my counterpart to Current Favorite TV series, as well as my ten favorite graphic novel reads of the month. With my Fourth Rail commitments more or less gone, this is the closest thing I have anymore to regular "reviews."

A couple things of note in how I organize these things, for those who care. These listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published. And each month, I'm recommending twenty things that I read in the month instead of 10 ongoing series and 5 first issues. It's less useful as a gauge of my overall tastes, but more useful as a "must-read" for the month. Oh, and graphic novels won't be listed in Favorite Comics... that's strictly for issues.

I'm now including links to the Amazon listings for my top ten trades. I encourage folks to visit their local comic shops if that's an option, but if it's not and you want to click through on the link to buy at Amazon, I think I earn, like, a nickel or something for each purchase made. At any rate, in addition to my top ten, other trades I read and liked this month included Battle Hymn: Farewell to the First Golden Age, Lucifer Vol. 9, Penny Arcade: Attack of the Bacon Robots!, Noble Causes Vol. 5: Betrayals and Zombie World: Champion of the Worms.

Looking at my favorite comics for February, a majority (12) still come from Marvel and DC... but none of the DC books are actually in the Infinite Crisis-related DC Universe continuity, two are largely due to creators (Matt Wagner & Paul Pope) and two are Vertigo. In the indy category, we've got one each from Speakeasy, Image, Viper, IDW, Oni, Boom and two from Dark Horse. Not a lot of new publishers (or self publishers) striking my fancy this month, although Speakeasy, Viper and Boom! are both relatively new, I suppose.

Based on these selections, it's tough to pull out any real favorite creator ideas, because most creators only make the list once. Brian K. Vaughan is on there twice, for Runaways and Y: The Last Man, and Dan Slott for Thing and She-Hulk, and it's probably fair to categorize those two guys as my favorite monthly writers. Brian Wood's only on there once this month, for Supermarket, but with Local and DMZ, he's probably up there as one of my favorite writers of the moment as well.

Finally, the updates are for the month of February... March just barely started. So all my favorites will be anywhere from a week to a full month old, but these are meant to be sort of "standing" preferences anyway.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Two Days 'Til STAPLE!:
OK, three if you count today, but really, there's technically only 10 minutes left to Wednesday, so I'm not counting it. It'll probably be Thursday by the time I finish writing this and post it.

Warning: This one's gonna ramble.

My budget for STAPLE! has been made up by selling off CDs to Cheapo's. Can't recommend this place enough as a place to sell used CDs, as they gave a pretty decent amount of cash (I've got about $200 earmarked for the show, which should just cover my bar tab at the live art show ;). All I know for sure that I want to buy at the show is Danielle Corsetto and Jim Dougan's GN Crazy Papers (and hopefully a sketch from Corsetto), but I'm quite sure I'll find plenty to pick up. I think I've got everything from Mahfood, Crosland and Knight, but if I don't, I'll be happy to discover something new. If I've got the cash, I'd certainly like to pick something up at the live art show.

Tomorrow night is the last STAPLE! organizational meeting before the show. So as I write this blog post, I'm also writing up the exhibitor survey that I volunteered to do last meeting (and then forgot about until last night).

It's funny that the weekend of the small press con brings one of the best mainstream comics weeks in recent memory. This is that rare comics week, the one that makes me think maybe I should review again. But not enough that I actually sit down and do it. In short, though, there were some great highlights this week. Detective Comics #817 starts James Robinson's 8-part "One Year Later" arc on Batman, and it gives me great hope for the OYL direction. I actually teared up a little when I saw Batman and Jim Gordon getting along as friends again. And much as I loved most of Gotham Central, I was kinda glad to see the somewhat boring, bland GCPD pushed aside for the return of a couple familiar and colorful cops and one new one whose surname suggests a connection to Metropolis superhero (and former cop) Guardian.

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis wasn't as strong as Detective, but it was a good opener as well. And I think I've figured out Busiek's "have your cake and eat it too" continuity strategy vis-a-vis Orin (the modern post-Crisis Aquaman), which I like if it's true. I won't spoil it, I'll just say look real closely at what the Dweller in the Deep is saying at the end of the book.

Judd Winick seems to have missed the memo about lightening things up a bit, with his overly dark Outsiders and convoluted origin for Red Hood in Batman Annual, JSA was just plain boring and I didn't even skim Blood of the Demon because it ain't my thing, but two out of five OYL is more than I really expected to like when all the prologue to Crisis minis were coming.

Oni had a big week, with the conclusion of Q&C: Declassified Vol. 2 (didn't read, waiting for trade), Northwest Passage Vol. 2 (haven't read yet, but eagerly looking forward to doing so) and Local #4 (great, brutal, fascinating issue). Ultimates was a lot of fun, with some great "Ultimized" villains. Despite being as late as it is, I dug Fear Agent #3 quite a bit. Fallen Angel #3 was a rough read, but the best issue of the new series thus far. Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man were typically excellent (which I know sounds like a contradiction in terms). Hell, I even kind of enjoyed bits and pieces of Infinite Crisis #5.

I've also been catching a lot of Netflix movies of late. Watched Transporter (again), Transporter 2 (first time), and found both to be cheesy fun. Watched Scarface for the first time and generally enjoyed it, although I didn't love it. Watched Soderbergh's Bubble, which I was really anticipating, and found it to be mostly boring, which was my reaction to the critically-beloved Junebug as well. I prefer Soderbergh in popcorn mode, but I generally like his indy stuff well (really like Full Frontal and The Limey), but Bubble just left me cold. But then, my tastes aren't always the most sophisticated. I caught Tony Scott's Domino and really enjoyed it, and that is pretty much pure popcorn movie.

I did get down to Hut's on Sunday to try the buffalo burger and I have to say, I'm not all that impressed. Had a little bit of a gamey aftertaste, and cost $1.75 extra to boot. Back to regular beef for me, although maybe I'll try the longhorn beef at some point just to see if I can tell the difference. Also worth noting that while Hut's offers like 20 different kinds of burgers, most of them involve variations of a number of condiments I just don't care for, like guacamole, lettuce, tomato, etc. Give me more variations of burgers with BBQ sauce (and other sauces, beyond just mayo and ketchup), bacon, mushrooms, jalapenos, and more exotic condiments and I'll be more impressed with selection. However, their burgers *are* good, and their fries are excellent, probably better than the always-voted-best in Austin Chronicle Hyde Park Grill, which I find a little dry and overrated.

I've been listening to a few new things, specifically the Arctic Monkeys' new album (love these guys), Ray Davies' new album (former lead singer of the Kinks, good album) and Let It Beast, the Dj BC and the Beastles remix of Beatles and Beastie Boys (excellent, excellent mash-up, and it's free!)

The Shield is as great as ever, and if Forrest Whitaker doesn't get a Supporting Actor Emmy, then the whole awards are just worthless. 24 has been guilty pleasure "guy soap opera" fun, as they've really tuned into the proper formula for the show and have the best cast that the show has had, and I'm really digging Lost as well. Also, Scrubs returned this week after a week or two off, and man do I love that show. It's one of the few comedies (along with Newsradio, Seinfeld and Arrested Development) that I actually buy on DVD, because I suspect I'll be rewatching it for years to come. Oh, and Battlestar Galactica won its way back into my heart with a couple of good episodes and then one great one, "Downloaded," which gave insight into the cylon civilization and provided a fun twist on the Baltar/Six relationship.

See, I told ya this was gonna ramble.