Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Was The Crazytown Park Not Available?

I know you don't get to choose your venue by name, but it is unfortunate that Obama had to hold a rally in Ohio at the Nutter Center.

Seriously, it sounds like a euphemism for "Mental Hospital."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - February 27, 2008

Fables #70 (Kicking off a story of Cinderella, Fable superspy)
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #3 (Long wait between issues, but totally worth it so far)
Proof #5 (Kickass cryptozoology comic continues to impress, one of Image's best series)
RASL #1 (New Jeff Smith about a dimension-hopping art thief, and I'm super-excited about it)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #9 (Black Widow, Jean Grey and Scarlet Witch team up in one of the best issues of the series so far)

Angel After The Fall #4 (More twists and turns, can't wait to see where they're going after last issue's cliffhanger)
Captain America #35 (Still not entirely feeling the somewhat mundane Red Skull plot, but I am enjoying seeing Bucky struggle with Cap's legacy)
Criminal 2 #1 (Brubaker where he belongs, writing dark-as-hell crime noir)
Gravel #1 (Zero issue of this Hellblazer-by-way-of-special ops was pretty good)
House Of M Avengers #5 (A solid ending, disappointing only because the rest has been so spectacularly good for me)
Justice League New Frontier DVD (Very well animated, great voice cast, but it does miss a lot of the charm of the graphic novel.)
Many Adventures Of Miranda Mercury #295 (New sci-fi adventure series from Archaia and writer Brandon Thomas, who I've long been a fan of)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #10 (Iron Man vs. Spider-Woman. Nice.)
Marvel Zombies 2 #5 (Solid conclusion, but I can't believe they think there's more mileage in this concept)
Nearly Infamous Zango #1 (Slacker supervillainy by Austin local Rob Osborne)
Previews Vol XVIII #3 (Down the Line coming next week, unless STAPLE! and store inventory derail my productivity, which is entirely likely)
Thunderbolts International Incident (I'm a Gage fan, but it's becoming clear that without Ellis, the new version of Thunderbolts is a bit of a dud)
World War Hulk Aftersmash Damage Control #2 (Fun, and with a great last page reveal)
Wormwood Calamari Rising #2 (More strangeness and alien god invasions by Templesmith)
X-men Legacy #208 (New direction for this book, I'm intrigued to see exactly what the Xavier mind-trip thing is)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do Not Vote For This Man

So Ralph Nader is going to run.

My response is one that would be filled with expletives. I voted for Nader instead of Gore, to my eternal regret. I would never do it again. And while I at first rejected the notion that he was a spoiler, I believe now that his entry into the race may have been what gave us Bush as President. I believe that he shares some culpability.

Especially since he's long since abandoned any pretense of trying to accomplish anything. Nader's big selling point in 2000 was that he was going to get enough votes to get federal funding for a third party, and to a guy so commonly disgusted with both parties, that sounded like a worthy goal.

This year, though? There's no way he's going to get that many votes. He's certainly not going to be President. And his issues are tarnished in importance when, instead of dealing with serious candidates, he puts in a Presidential bid that can only be viewed as helping the Republicans by drawing away votes.

Nader is running for his ego, and nothing more. He's tarnishing whatever good works he's done with these pathetic displays, and certainly I've lost a lot of the respect I once had for the man.

If I Weren't Married Already...

I'd want to marry Grassroots Mom for this article. It's *awesome* and really shows Obama's policy chops, which are even stronger than I'd suspected from my admittedly smaller amount of research.

If your biggest worry about Obama is that he hasn't accomplished anything, go and read this article. Grassroots Mom did her research into both candidates, and she breaks it down, and her support for Obama came *after* that, not before.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More about Obama

If you had told me, during the last two elections, where I was disenchanted with the candidates of both parties, that during the '08 election I would spend five hours outside, most of them just standing around waiting, putting off eating dinner and spending time with my wife and kids just to see a candidate for the Democratic nominee speak?

I would have thought you were nuts. But that's exactly what I did tonight. The last-minute news of Obama speaking at a rally in Austin on Friday got me to cancel my regular D&D game, leave work a bit early (good to be the boss, although I had to come in early as a consequence to get some stuff done) and drive downtown in rush hour traffic. Whereupon I stood in a line for two hours before being let into a big open area to stand around for three hours before seeing Obama speak for about an hour.

Totally worth it, btw. His speeches are good on da Interwebs, but they're frikkin' amazing when you're surrounded by tens of thousands of like-minded supporters, and you're about twenty feet away from the man, so that you can see amidst the polished speech and practiced speech-makings the sincerity and spontaneity that set him apart.

I came home with a lack-of-food headache that is only now, two hours later, finally going away. And I lost about eight hours of time that I could have used to catch up on TV or reading, spend time with friends or family or even just kicked back and played some XBox. And spending a ton of time crammed in like sardines with people is generally a painful experience for me, especially when some of the crowd were kind of obnoxious frat-boy types, but...

Totally worth it. Wish I could have managed to get to the front to shake his hand, but it was too much of a zoo, and I was tired and hungry and needed to pee (TMI? Sorry.)

Btw, have I mentioned how much I love John Rogers's political writing? Here's another reason why.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm Interviewed!

Interview with me about retailing by Greg Pak, over at Broken Frontier.

This is awesome

A takeoff on will.i.am's great Obama "Yes We Can" video... but with McCain.

Obama in Austin tomorrow

I'm going down to the rally tomorrow. Doors open at 6, speech starts at 9, I'm planning on getting there around 4. I know full well that this means I still might not be early enough to get in, but I have to work, and I have to try to get in.

If anybody else is going, drop me a line so we can maybe meet up and chat while we wait to get in or wait for Obama to speak.

A Little De-Bunking

There have been plenty of folks who have called Obama an empty suit, a charismatic speaker with no policies. The answer to that can be found on his website, where he outlines the issues and his plans for some of them. If you want more, read his book, The Audacity of Hope, which is as good as his speeches, but because of its nature, offers a lot more policy and procedural specifics as well.

Then there's Dave Sim. Semi-famous for creating the 300-issue self-published opus Cerebus, more famous for fucking up that opus with increasingly paranoid rants about the feminist-homosexual axis. Here's a well-researched essay by Smith Michaels over at Blurred Productions explaining why Sim is full of it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thank You, Wisconsin!

Obama Wins Wisconsin.

Hibbs Brings The Statistics Hammer to the Fight

There are those on the Internet who, despite never having worked in a direct market shop and quite possibly having dropped off even shopping in them for quite some time, feel qualified to make assessments about the health of the direct market, how much better the bookstore and Internet bookseller market is and how the direct market is a dinosaur on its way out.

Brian Hibbs, a longtime retailer in San Francisco, brings out the Bookscan charts to put the lie to this particular fallacy. This is pretty intense number-crunching reading, but if you want to see just how well graphic novels do in bookstores versus the direct market, check out this article.

Here's a hint: The Direct Market sells more than the bookstores in just about every category. And the art comics that some like to claim are what more folks want to read don't sell any better in bookstores than they do in the Direct Market. And superhero continuity books seem to do pretty damn well in the bookstore market and the direct market.

And... well, just read the article. Suffice to say, some Internet pundits (I won't name any names or drop any initials) don't really know what the hell they're talking about.

Guardians of the Galaxy

The creative team of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy series spills a few beans, including dropping a little glee bomb for Nova fans by revealing the home base of the new team.

I can't wait for this book. I'm anticipating it more than anything else Marvel or DC are doing for the whole first half of 2008. Go read the interview and see why, then make sure and pick it up when it comes out.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - February 20, 2008

The Atheist Vol 1 TP (More under-rated, imaginative spooky stuff from the mind of Phil Hester, with John McCrea on art)
Grendel Behold The Devil #4 (Loving the return of Wagner on Grendel)
Incredible Hercules #114 (Fantastic cliffhanger ending, great Black Widow/Hercules stuff, this book is great)
The Order #8 (Great, great issue... goddamnit, why did this book have to get cancelled?!)
Zorro #1 (Matt Wagner writes, Francavilla draws, Randy reads)

Amazing Spider-Man #551 (I can't believe how much I'm digging Guggenheim's Spidey, but I'm really into it at the moment)
Batman And The Outsiders #4 (Just good solid DC universe action without the continuity porn)
Batman Confidential #13 (The Wrath, a.k.a. anti-Batman, returns with creator Mike W. Barr at the helm)
Brave And The Bold #10 (Slowly losing interest as the stories get more fractured and the cast gets bigger, but... when it's on, it's really on)
Fear Agent Last Goodbye TP (The latest and best of the Fear Agent stories)
Hack Slash Series #9 (Lesbian blood-drinking college cultists and the sexy slasher slayers who kill them... next on Oprah)
Immortal Iron Fist Orson Randall Green Mist Death (Great little pulp-style one-shot, just like the annual)
Invincible #48 (I honestly don't remember what all is going on in this book, but I know I've been digging it)
The Order Vol 1 Next Right Thing (Honestly, with the cancellation, I decided not to pick up the trade... might change my mind if it ends strong or leads strongly into Fraction's Iron Man)
Superman Confidential #12 (Clay Moore and Phil Hester on the origin of Jimmy's signal watch, plus Superman vs. Mexican wrestlers)
Transformers Spotlight Vol 2 TP (Weirdly psyched to read these, the last one was a lot of fun)
Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite #6 (Can it all make sense, or will it just be a beautiful mess?)
World War Hulk Aftersmash Warbound #3 (Losing track of the characters a bit, but great art and some interesting moments)
Youngblood #2 (First issue was... OK. Really needed great. But I'll give it another chance to impress.)

Tribute to Stephane Peru

I don't usually do a ton of linkblogging, mostly because when I'm reading through my links I forget to just come back and post them here. But it seems worth noting that Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Khoi Pham, Mark Paniccia and Nate Cosby have a tribute to the late Stephane Peru, a young colorist who recently died. You can find the column, although with some samples of his work, at BrokenFrontier.com.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Texas - Make or Break for Clinton

OK, Texas Democrats (or independents who are going to vote in the primaries), I need to chat with you, if you're reading my blog. Everybody else can listen in, but I'm really talking to the Texas folks here.

Our votes don't usually count. We all know that we're in a red state, and our vote in the election will almost certainly go to the Republican candidate. We're late in the primaries, where the decision has usually been made.

This year, we're not just affecting the decision, we're crucial to it. The Clinton camp is *counting* on Texas to stop the momentum Obama has gained by sweeping the last batch of primaries.

And I am counting on you to help me finally make my vote resonate with the actual results of voting. Just this once. If Texas can actually go for Obama, I will do a gleeful dance of joy.

So... if any of you are on the fence, or supporting Hilary but interested in hearing why I support Obama and think you should too, if I can sway you to vote for Obama in the Texas primaries... please, post in the comments or feel free to come and talk to me at my shop. This is supremely important to me, and I'm happy to talk about why.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blog Update for January 2008

This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The 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. This is basically also my own records of what I read/liked for the inevitable "End of Year" lists I feel like making.

The writer's strike is over, so my favorite TV shows will return, although it's a pretty sad and pathetic little list at the moment, so not this month. Right now I'm enjoying Torchwood (season 1 on DVD), Friday Night Lights (I haven't seen the last three eps, but by all accounts it got better and more than likely won't come back, so I'll go ahead and finish it out), The Sarah Connor Chronicles (even if I'm not wild about it, I'm engaged enough to watch) and Lost (the first two episodes of season four were great and amazingly jaw-droppingly mind-blowing, respectively).

In comics, Marvel sort of ran away with my favorites again, with 9 of the Top 20. Of course, one of those is a cancelled book, three are miniseries and one is a one-shot, so I'm still unsure about their 2008 prospects. DC has 4, 2 Vertigo (both books that are ending or over), 1 out-of-continuity (The Spirit, also over, at least for me) and 1 out-of-continuity DC Universe (a limited series). So Marvel still has the edge in terms of shared superhero universes for me. As far as the other 7 books, there are 2 Image (Dynamo 5 and Fell), 2 Dark Horse (Buffy and Grendel) and then 1 each from Devil's Due, IDW and Boom! Almost making the cut this month were 2 Dark Horse (BPRD 1946 #1 and Usagi Yojimbo #109), 1 Boom! (North Wind #1), 1 Image (Proof #4), 1 Red 5 (Atomic Robo #4), 1 Adhouse (Johnny Hiro #3), 1 Vertigo (Northlanders #2) and three Marvel (Captain America #34, Fantastic Four #553 and Marvel Adventures Iron Man #9).

Most of my leisure time that would have been spent blogging, reading comics and watching TV has gone to playing Rock Band and Burnout Paradise on the XBox 360. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Scott Dunbier, Storyteller

I propose that during the San Diego Comicon, Scott Dunbier should have some kind of panel where he tells stories from his days as an art dealer. I know I'd be glued to my seat.

For an example of why, read this hilarious story of an exchange with Klaus Janson.

Then go read the rest of his blog. You won't be sorry.

Weekly Comics to Come - February 6 & 13, 2008

Wow, I've been really bad keeping up with these, and I still haven't done the monthly update for January, either. Soon, I hope.

American Virgin #23 (The final issue. *sob* Really sad to see this go, really excited to see the ending)
Battle Royale Ultimate Ed HC Vol 2 (Hooray! More ultraviolence! And sex! I've read all of this before, of course, but I'm glad to get it in swanky hardcover form)
Jellaby Vol 1 TP (New all-ages full-color graphic novel by Kean Soo, right on the heels of Kazu Kibuishi's impressive Amulet Vol. 1)
Nova Annual #1 (Loving Nova, looking forward to seeing the artists here, but hoping that Mahmud Asrar doesn't leave Dynamo 5 to go to Marvel full-time)
X-Factor #28 (Fantastic issue, has moved me from casual reader to follower of the title)

Atomic Robo #5 (More fun science + punchy action with really nice art)
Bprd 1946 #2 (Ditto, only set in World War II)
DMZ #28 (Kind of ready for a longer arc, but these one-shots have been interesting at least)
Foundation #2 (Conspiracy based on following Nostradamus's theories. I really loved the first issue, and I'm anxious to see the follow-up)
Suicide Squad Raise The Flag #6 (Wish I loved this more, but I'm still reading it, at any rate)
Tiny Titans #1 (Unbelievably cute all-ages elementary school teen titans book)
X-Force #1 (Surprisingly decent action comic)

Comics for February 5, 2008

Fables #69 (Fantastic ending of the best story of the series thus far)
Amulet Vol 1 Stonekeeper (Beautiful and engaging new all-ages adventure/fantasy comic from Kazu Kibuishi and Scholastic)
Abe Sapien The Drowning #1 (Stunning Jason Alexander art, intriguing story of Abe's first solo field work)
Annihilation Conquest #4 (Continues to be awesome cosmic spectacle with great character work as well)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #11 (Another strong Whedon issue introducing the big bad and featuring more great Xander/Buffy stuff)

Darkness #2 (Decent follow-up, I remain mildly interested)
Nightwing #141 (Very good foundation issue for the new creative team)
Northlanders #3 (Best issue of the Viking story so far)
Teen Titans Year One #2 (Loved this one, spectacular art by Kerschl)
True Story Swear To God Image Ed #10 (9-11 and a marriage proposal... big stuff in this issue!)
Uncanny X-Men #495 (Pretty solid first issue of the post-Messiah Complex run)
Warhammer Forge Of War #5 (Nice doomed ending)
Bakers Babies & Kittens HC (Fun, if lightweight, with great cartooning)
Batman False Faces HC (Early Vaughan work on Batman, pretty good stuff)
Jumper Jumpscars TP (Prequel to the upcoming film, but I found myself hard-pressed to care about the characters, and Hurtt's artwork wasn't as spectacular here as it was on The Damned)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man Vol 2 Digest (Stealth armor, space armor and great stories in this all-ages Iron Man tome)
Gyakushu Vol 2 (Action manga from the art half of Amazing Joy Buzzards)
Pantheon High Vol 2 (Second volume of the gods in high school story by Paul Benjamin)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Writers' Strike - Over?

It looks like the strike may be over.

I'm just not sure that's a good thing.

Because it looks like there was a long, painful slog that hurt just about everybody and wound up with an only incrementally better deal. It looks like essentially the corporations did exactly what they wanted to do and gave up the tiniest amount because to fight for a truly fair deal is basically impossible against their deep pockets.

I don't think that the arguments for why the WGA should (and probably will) take the deal are wrong, but it's disillusioning at least to see that, in the end, money and greed basically won out over principles and togetherness. (By which I mean the greedy bastards at the AMPTP won out over the WGA, not that the writers have somehow chosen money over principles... because if they were gonna do that, there never would have been a strike.)

I hope I'm just misreading and that the agreement is much better than it looks, but it looks like a lot of people were put out of work, lost their deals, lost months' worth of income for a pittance worth of minimal gains.

Mostly, I just hope it's not a preview of what's going to happen this election season. But with Obama sweeping today's primaries and caucuses, things are looking up. Now I just hope my fellow Texas democrats don't disappoint me.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mind. Blown.

Damn, but Lost was great tonight.

I'm dying for more. And hoping there's an end to the strike so that we can get more than 8 episodes this season.

More Politics

Barack Obama gave a speech in New Orleans. Full text is here, partial video is here:

I'm angry about a lot of things the Bush Administration has done, from the Iraq War to the Patriot Act to the creation of the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security. But nothing made me angrier or more frustrated than what happened in New Orleans. If I ever talk to George W. Bush (yeah, that's likely) that is the first thing I will ask him. Aren't you ashamed? Don't you have trouble sleeping after all the people who died, after a great city was nearly destroyed, helped in large part by your incompetence and the incompetence of the people in your administration?

Also, the link is to a left-skewing site, so take analysis with a grain of salt, but apparently John McCain skipped out on the vote for the economic stimulus package. Didn't vote yes, didn't vote no, skipped out to avoid making a decision or a statement on one of the few things Congress has accomplished in recent years. I said recently that if it came down to McCain or Clinton, I'd vote McCain. I now know that to be passing insanity. I'll vote independent, McCain is no longer even remotely deserving of my respect or my vote.

New Podcast

As part of my role with STAPLE!, I've done a short series of interview podcasts with a few folks who are coming to the show. The first one just went up on iTunes, and here are the details and links:

Very excited to announce a brand spanking new feature of the STAPLE! website - STAPLE! Podcasts!

In this first episode Randy Lander of Comic Pants and Rogues Gallery Comics & Games talks to Fred Van Lente, author of Action Philosophers and a brand new work, Comic Book Comics, a comic book history of comics, which will be making its world premiere at STAPLE!

We'll be posting a new podcast every week, so be sure to keep checking back. Upcoming episodes include Danielle Corsetto (Girls With Slingshots) and featured guest Brian Wood!

iTunes users can subscribe to STAPLE! Podcasts using this link.

All podcasts graciously recorded by the studios of Dial A Stranger: When you don't know who to turn to, turn to who you don't know. http://dialastranger.com/

I Got My Hotel Room

I guess I'm going to San Diego this year. Kind of surprised, because I thought there was no way I was getting a hotel room. But after frustration with the busy phones and a near-miss using Firefox, I saw a tidbit about using Internet Explorer on The Beat comments thread, and 15 minutes later, I had my room booked.

I'm at my favorite hotel that I've stayed at (OK, favorite affordable hotel, the Holiday Inn on the Bay) and though I was tempted to go for the more expensive but swankier Embassy Suites or Hard Rock Hotel, the extra cost was just too much for what essentially boils down to a place to sleep and a place to leave my stuff.

Now I have to see if I can find a roommate to help split the costs... or decide if I want to just pay the whole thing myself and have a room to myself, like I did a couple years ago.

But this is good news, I really didn't think it would be as (relatively) easy as it was.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes We Can

Tomorrow is either going to be a really good day, or a really bad day, for me and other Obama supporters.

But I *want* to believe it's possible that there's going to be a candidate I'm excited about for the first time ever. And for right now, at least, I do.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Why I Can't Call Myself A Bleeding Heart Liberal

I am, in many ways, a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. Free speech, universal healthcare, tolerance of all race, sexual orientation, religion (OK, I get a little squidgy around religion, but I wouldn't *ban* it or anything), a helpful welfare/unemployment system, etc.

I've even come around on capital punishment. I used to be for it, for the most part, and I still believe that some crimes are punishable by death, but our system is so flawed in execution that it's not able to provide such punishments in anything close to a just manner, and too many intelligent people I respect are diehard against capital punishment, and so I find myself having to ignore my own instincts in this one area and decide that yeah, capital punishment is probably a bad idea.

But I've still got just a touch of right-wing, eye for an eye type thing in me. Because when I see something like this:

Death Sentence in Afghanistan for disseminating a report criticizing Islam

And I see that the response from Reporters Without Borders is a statement, and others are organizing a petition to plead with the barbaric, ignorant pig-fuckers that passed the sentence in the first place, all I can think is: "Uh, why don't we take up a collection and hire some mercenaries to bust this kid out and bring him to America? Wouldn't that be better than writing a letter?"

Of course, that also begs the question of why the enormous numbers of troops we have over there aren't doing exactly that. Because if they're not, then it looks like the U.S. Government supports this sentence. And I don't care what kind of diplomatic fuss it might cause, if we're allowing this kind of shit to go on, we might as well not be there.

Thus ends Randy's "thoroughly uninformed and simplistic views on foreign policy."

Shoplifter Update

They came in on Thursday night, two days after making off with somewhere between three and six volumes of Battle Royale. They had one other girl with them who had not been with them the last time. And the employee who was there walked up, told them "We've been having trouble with stealing, and we think it was you. Get out and don't come back."

The one who hadn't been with them protested, but the others didn't say a word. They knew they were caught, and they knew that my employee had snapped photos of them on his cellphone so that if we have any further trouble, we can quite easily identify them for the cops.

Problem solved. It would have been more satisfying to catch them in the act, and when reordering volumes 1-11 of Battle Royale tonight (aside from 2 and 7, which are frustratingly unavailable at the moment) I gritted my teeth, but it's nice to have it dealt with so quickly.