Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why Yes, I Am Catching Up On My Political Blogs

I don't want to say that anyone *deserves* a brain tumor, but...

Robert Novak deserves a brain tumor, if only for his role in endangering an agent of the U.S. government in the name of spurious political goals.

Sorry I can't be more sporting, but this guy's a douchebag, and the planet is better off rid of him.

Why On Earth Would You Hand This Man Your Baby?

From BAG News & Notes:

New Video From Lauren

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - July 30, 2008

After last week's onslaught, this week looks like a drought. But that's OK, because I'm now way behind on comics reading, and don't need a flood of new books.

Haunt Of Horror Lovecraft #2 (Loved the first issue of this, Corben on Lovecraft is awesome)
Northlanders #8 (Wrapping up the long, but pretty good, first arc of Northlanders)
Nova Vol 2 Knowhere TP (Communist space dog. And that's only part of why I can't wait to reread these Nova issues)
Pigeons From Hell #4 (Concluding the terrific horror mini from Dark Horse)
Wolverine #67 (I'm digging the hell out of this. Turns out, it's OK to give Millar the Marvel sandbox to play in after all the heroes have died and the villains have taken over.)

Contract #1 (Kind of a cool '80s sci-fi action movie in paper form)
Dynamo 5 #15 (Great superhero storytelling, with unfolding plots and great characters, reminiscent of Invincible at its best)
Fantastic Four True Story #1 (Weird little concept, but fun, decent art although I wish the cover artist were doing interiors)
Femme Noir Dark City Diaries #2 (I generally liked the first issue of this one)
Jim Butchers Dresden Files #4 (Concluding (I think?) the new Dresden story by the author, for comics. Good stuff.)
Pilot Season The Core #1 (Top Cow's second pilot season has been pretty damn good, surprisingly)
Teen Titans #61 (I was going to stop reading this, but Static might be joining up, and that'll keep me in for a while)
Ultimate Spider-Man #124 (Read this on a whim, and it's not bad. I have a fondness for the Beetle, Immonen does a nice job on the action sequences, and Bendis's dialogue tics are mostly endearing and only occasionally grating)
X-men First Class Vol 2 #14 (The second part isn't as awesome as the first part of the Machine Man story, but it's still good stuff)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

San Diego Day 4

Woke up around 4:30 AM when Dean told me I was "snoring like a freight train." Felt bad, also felt sleepy, rolled over and went back to sleep. Was assured by Dean later that I did not in fact snore all night, but just for a while, apparently very loudly.

Got up around 8, did the quick check-out, packed all my stuff and checked the extra luggage. I left my key in the room, and planned to come back, as usual, just to grab a taxi to the airport around 2 or 2:30. I grabbed a cheese danish and coke (breakfast of champions!) from the next door deli, got on the shuttle almost immediately, got in line for the Always Sunny in Philadelphia panel, got into that and even got one of the orange tickets for free swag.

The panel started at 10:30, so I had about an hour to wait, which I spent Twittering and checking the web via wireless on iPod. Thank you, Eagle Eye, for the invaluable (if occasionally spotty) wireless at the Con. As for whether or not I'll see Eagle Eye as a result? Well, I like the premise, Michelle Monaghan and free wireless Internet. Not really a fan of Shia Labeouf, the writers are mostly untested (and working on The Warriors and Clash of the Titans remakes, neither of which I'm real excited about). The director did the well-regarded Labeouf vehicle Disturbia, but more importantly directed four episodes of The Shield... so I'll probably give the movie a look, based on the free wireless tipping the scales, although probably on DVD. See, advertising works! Sort of.

Anyway, at about 10:25, they started up a few movie trailers, and I started fidgeting with my wedding ring, as I often do. Or rather, I began fidgeting with the empty finger where my wedding ring would have been, had I not left it on the nightstand of the hotel. Panicked, I called Dean, who thankfully was still in the room, thankfully found my wedding ring, and brought it with him to the show.

The Always Sunny panel was great, they showed a new (and hilarious) episode, announced the fourth season starting in September and then brought out Charlie Day, Rob McElhenny and Glenn Howerton, along with moderator Damon Lindelof. Lindelof was an awesome moderator, the guys were funny and the fan questions were actually pretty good. It was probably the best panel I saw at Comicon this year.

Left that panel, got my free Always Sunny T-Shirt, picked up my wedding ring from Dean (not in that order), bought Cora from Ted Mathot, did some buying for the store, roamed the floor until about 1:00, then said goodbyes to a few folks and headed out. I thought maybe I'd have time to grab a bowl of clam chowder at Anthony's Fishette, but I was nervous about getting to the airport on time, plus the shuttle left at 2:00, about 5 minutes after I got back to the hotel, so I decided to grab food at the airport.

Which was a mistake, of course. I've been spoiled by the Austin airport, which is actually kind of a nice place to hang out in, and has some local restaurant representation. The Southwest terminal in San Diego is a bit ratty (and under construction), and my choices were Quizno's (not really a fan) and Pizzeria Uno. Chose pizza, which was kind of bleh. For $10, I got a bleh pepperoni pizza and a warm Coke. Yep, I really regretted that choice not to get the clam chowder. Especially since I had plenty of time, and our flight departure was delayed by about 15 minutes anyway.

Ran into Paul Benjamin at the airport, who was on the same flight. Since Southwest has open seating, we managed to sit together and talk about a variety of things on the way back, making for a very pleasant flight. At the airport, I was greeted by my parents and (surprise!) a very hyper Katy, who was almost as happy to see me as I was to see her. Grabbed the luggage (quick unload by the Austin airport staff), got in the car, drove home.

Had to send a quick email to the landlord for the comics shop, as the A/C unit went on the fritz during the weekend, which means it's immediately back to work for me tomorrow, no nice leisurely sleep in until early afternoon and then go in kind of thing.

Final thoughts on show coming either tomorrow or never, depending on my inclination to do more writing. ;)

San Diego Day 3

Saturday. Or "The Day Randy Realized That Maybe Comicon Has Gotten Too Big After All."

Once again, up early (around 8:30), got ready then headed down to breakfast at diner next door. French toast and ham, and a Coke for the caffeine. Got the shuttle around 9:30, got to the Con before 10, still wasn't able to get a cool big WB bag, or any of the other cool stuff I thought I might want. So I headed over instead to see Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo, who do the awesome Image book Proof, and picked up Rossmo's sketchbook. While there, I ran into Kyle Baker and chatted with him a bit.

Then it was time for the frustrating realization of just how crowded Saturday was going to be. Learning my lesson (or so I thought) from yesterday's Spaced panel, I went up early to get into the Terminator line, got up there around 10:45 for an 11:30 panel. Line was out the door, and they weren't clearing the rooms between panels. As it got closer and closer to 11:30, it seemed likely we weren't getting into that panel. And we didn't have Internet outside, which made the wait even more annoying. I listened to a Dial A Stranger podcast and played some Tap Tap Revolution. I was about to give up, but the line moved inside, and that was enough to get me Internet access so I could Twitter, check websites, check RSS and fritter away the next hour waiting for The Office panel, which was in the same room.

Got into that, and it was a lot of fun. Some of the best fan questions of any panel I've been to, and if some of the writers were very quiet, enough of them (especially Mike Schur) had plenty to say that you didn't really notice. I then had a choice, to stick around through a panel I didn't really want to see so that I could also see Pushing Daisies, or to leave and give up on seeing any more panels that day. I chose the latter.

So it was off to Ralph's for some clam chowder (big 'ol bowl, I was very full and very pleased, Ralph's has really good lunches considering it's just a supermarket) then headed back in to pick up my sketchbook from Colleen Coover.

Rewind: I had dropped off Katy's sketchbook for Coover, and she did a kickass Batgirl for Katy. Also, just because we're rewinding, at some point I brought a beautiful pencilled piece that Ramona Fradon had done of Plastic Man and Wonder Woman. She had a ton of pieces, and they were all great... if I'd had the $150-200 to drop, I would have gotten one of the bigger ones. She wasn't going to be around Saturday or Sunday... kind of a bummer, because I think I now have the cash to spend on one of the bigger ones.

OK, back to Saturday. Ran into Andy Diggle at the Vertigo booth, wandered through the videogame area collecting posters for a variety of things, went and bought Dr. McNinja and a T-Shirt from the creator, ran into Marc Andreyko at the DC booth, then got a sketch from Michael Gaydos and a print of Manhunter to boot.

I know I'm forgetting sketches and prints and sketchbooks I got. I'm sure I'll do some kind of feature on Comic Pants. But rewind again, on Friday I was wandering through the Hasbro booth and randomly spotted Larry Hama, only one guy talking to him. Hama is pretty much responsible for me being in comics, thanks to GI Joe hooking me, so I went over and told him that, told him how glad I was he was doing the IDW stuff, and he signed a freebie GI Joe comic Hasbro had for me.

I know I'm forgetting a ton of people I ran into during this day, but I know that after leaving the Con around 7, I went to The Fish Market. I was solo, and I don't really like eating alone, but it turned out for the best. There was a wait for tables, but no wait to sit at the bar and eat, and they had the full menu. I had a Ginger Lime Prawn appetizer and then Garlic Prawns (the guy next to me, a pilot from Calgary, had them and they looked awesome). Talked with Jeff and Noel, a couple who were there celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Truthfully, I would rather have had one of those comic geek talks that Comicon dinners are so good for, but it was a pleasant evening, and there was great food.

Then I returned to the hotel room to blog this, which is what I'm doing now.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

San Diego Day 2

Too busy (and tired) to blog yesterday, so I'm writing this late. Saturday to follow. As always, all of this may not have happened exactly as I remember it.

Got up early (didn't need alarm, woke up at 7:50 AM no problem, thank you two hour time difference and inability to sleep well in hotel beds) to attend ComicsPro retail breakfast. Talked to a variety of retailers, including my former boss David Wheeler, had pastries and orange juice, nice start to the day.

Had plan to: A) Get tickets for the Spaced signing B) Get tickets for the Cobra Commander figure C) Get in line for the Women of the DC Universe giveaway posters and D) Get a ticket for the Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog signing.

All three lines were too long for my patience limit, so I only got the ticket. I think the reason I get so little of the freebies (big bags, T-shirts, etc.) that folks talk about is that I have no patience for waiting in huge lines where there's a very good chance you'll have no payoff at the end. This would be an issue throughout the next two days, more on that later.

Went to the New Frontier signing at the Cooke/Bullock/Stewart booth (2207). Nice chill signing, they sat back on comfy chairs and a couch and signed my DVD. Then I headed over to Diamond for my scheduled meeting of the Con, checking out the new POS system that Diamond is selling.

At noon, when my meeting was over, I went up to get in line for the 12:30 Spaced panel, the panel I think I was most excited about. The line was enormous, and so long that there was no way in hell I was getting in. Frustrated, I went back to discover, not surprisingly, that my ticket was not going to get me one of the wristbands for the Dr. Horrible signing. Everything I had hoped to do on this day was not panning out.

So I went over to Artist's Alley instead to pick up some prints. Met David Nakayama (Marvel Adventures Hulk, Big Hero 6) who, in addition to being a good artist, is one of the friendliest people I've ever met. Bought a few prints from Christina Strain (drawn by Michael Ryan and Adrian Alphona), bought great prints from artist Adam Archer, and then went over to Ralph's to grab a sandwich (Prosciutto & Provolone, toasted and tasty) for lunch.

I came back and got a chance to tell the Spectacular Spider-Man creators, during their signing at booth 2207, how much I liked all of their work. Then I went to the EW Filmmaker's panel, which was mostly fun because Kevin Smith and Judd Apatow got on great. Seriously, they should have their own buddy comedy. Zack Snyder was kind of taciturn, and Frank Miller... well, Frank Miller was either not paying attention, drunk or both. When moderator Marc Bernardin asked him even the simplest of questions, Miller looked at him as if he had two heads.

Caught up with my roommates for the next two days, Dean Trippe and Jason Horn, gave them keys and then stayed where they were (the Kevin Smith panel, with tons of special guests) until it got to be about 8 PM and I got hungry. So I headed back to the hotel, had a meal at Anthony's across the street (Stuffed swordfish, grilled shrimp and crabcake combo, and it was *great*), changed and then headed back to try and get into the Spaced screening.

I was afraid, given my experiences earlier, that it might be a doomed errand, but I got in, and in fact got to sit right up front. Edgar Wright, Jessica Hynes and Simon Pegg made a grand entrance, talked a few minutes and then Pegg said "Before we start the show, I'd like to do something, and I think this is the largest gathering we've ever done this at" or something of that nature. I was pretty sure I knew where this was going. Then he said "All Spaced fans have a sort of mental telepathy," gave us the rest of that spiel, and said "So I hope you're all packing."

And then we had a brief finger gun fight with the cast of Spaced and the rest of the audience, or at least the ones who had already seen the show. I got to fire an invisible shotgun at and be gunned down by Simon Pegg, and that was really one of my best Con moments ever.

For those who have *no* idea what I'm talking about, there's this:

Now go buy the Spaced DVD set that was just released. You'll thank me.

Then they showed three great episodes of Spaced, which was even more fun to watch with a group. After that, caught up with Dean and Jason at the Eisners, which were just ending, headed over with them and a few Dark Horse folks to the Marriott Bar, which was very quiet, and we left shortly after, as we were all tired, it was nearly midnight, and we might have turned into pumpkins at any minute. (Actually, Dean and Jason had been traveling all day... I was just being a wuss.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

San Diego Day 1

Started late, woke up about 9:15, read email and blogs until about 10, wasn't hungry so I decided to skip breakfast and head down to the Con on the shuttle. Arrived about 10:30.

11:30 - Hungry. Wound up having crappy Con hot dog and soda a couple hours later. Not eating breakfast dumb idea.

Wandered through Artists' Alley first thing, saw a bunch of folks. No Scott Kolins, Billy Tan or David Nakayama as of yet, but got sketchbooks from Paul Adams and Ryan Kelly, saw next Whiteout and another project (gorgeous work) from Steve Lieber, picked up sketchbook of David Hahn.

Picked up sketchbook from Scream Queen's Nate Watson, features ninjas and many hot girls. Also picked up latest sketchbook from Jeremy Haun.

Finally got to meet Fred Chao, who is as awesome as his book, Johnny Hiro. Picked up cool robot vs. giant monster print, got a kickass theme sketch.

Also started Katy's sketchbook, with Robin by Todd Nauck, Korgi by Christian Slade, and Starfire & Supergirl by Art Balthazar and Franco of Tiny Titans. Bought kid's book from Slade.

Met Nathan Fox, talked horror manga and various other stuff, got a nice sketch.

Went to EW Visionaries: Creators panel, which was pretty good. Twittered through much of it. Saw Graeme McMillan on the way out.

Touched base with Radical Publishing. Cool looking new books.

Picked up Sandman 20th anniversary poster, couldn't get Women of DCU. Maybe tomorrow or Saturday.

Skipped Dexter panel to go to dinner with Joe D. (and friends), Paul Benjamin, Alan Porter, Kristian Donaldson, Nick Derington and a few others. Shed a few folks when we got to The Field, but about eight of us sat down to eat. Never been to The Field before, which was clearly a mistake. Great food (I had a bacon wrapped, cheese stuffed chicken breast that was awesomely heavy food, great for a starvation day at the Con) and nice atmosphere. Poor waitress had to separate check entire party, but she got good tips out of it.

Drink for this Con: Bottled cider. Had a raspberry one last night, it was good, they had same brand (but pear) at The Field, and it was tasty.

Went back to hotel to change, drop off stuff, went back to Hyatt via shuttle, got in a little after 10. No cider at Hyatt, so I got a rum and coke. Talked a lot with Paul and Alan, also finally got to say hi to Ross Richie for the first time in a couple years, chatted with a variety of Boom! folks as well as Kody Chamberlain and colorist Nathan Eyring, who had driven out from New Mexico.

Time change tiring me out, plus early day for retailer breakfast tomorrow, so I went back to hotel to blog and sleep.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

San Diego Day 0

OK, here are my already fuzzy memories of what happened on Preview night and before/after. Warning: Some of this may not have actually happened.

Painless Southwest direct flight. No delays, got in a touch early, no luggage issues, and airport security at Austin airport actually nice, easy-going for airport security. No fits of Doctorow-esque rage were required. Talked with a few other Con attendees (including Austin's own superhero, The Defuser) while waiting for the flight.

Hotel check-in, also painless. Got room on 9th floor with balcony (yay!) and view of construction instead of pool (boo). Free wireless throughout hotel, though.

Grabbed lunch at Anthony's Fishette across the hotel. Memo to self: Don't get Mixed Treasures again. Lots of mixed, light on the treasure.

I've never been here early enough for the whole Preview night before. Did pro reg in about two minutes (shortest time ever, very efficient this year), then waited outside for them to open the doors. Watched an endless line of people following directions, heading upstairs to stand in line and come back down. Past experience told me to wait, and at about 5 or 10 minutes after 6, they'd give up on whatever crazy plan they had and let us all in. Past experience was right.

While waiting, accosted by very talkative comic fan whose opinions on comics, uh, differed from mine. He was a big Top Cow/Avatar fan and had many opinions on how they could streamline Comicon and fix comics. None of these ideas were good. Half hour wait seemed much longer during this chat. Kind of like being at work, except I wasn't being paid.

Saw and did seemingly everything in three hours on Preview night. May have successfully landed guests for STAPLE!, guests for Free Comic Book Day, gave bear to Stan Sakai, picked up artbooks from Cooke/Stewart/Bullock, got a Scott Pilgrim t-shirt, buttons and color special, got to look at a preview of Crogan's Vengeance, talked to Ed Brubaker when I spotted him at the Marvel booth, talked to Alex Robinson at Top Shelf (along with all the guys working the booth), connected with Toon Tumblers guy, picked up Sandman posters at DC booth, picked up Thom Zahler's Powerful Women 2 sketchbook and Cliff Chiang's Bombshells pinup collection ($40 for 6 great pinups, if you're at the Con stop by and pick those up)... bought a lot. No sketches as of yet, maybe today.

Grabbed dinner with Thom Zahler, Bill Williams and Brad Thomte at Rock Bottom Brewery. Joined later by Chip Mosher, Ian Brill and Matt (whose last name I don't know how to spell) for a few drinks. Lots of good conversation, I'm fairly certain Mosher swore me to secrecy on all of it. Ran into the Defuser (and Mrs. Defuser) while there, too. Turns out they know Thom as well.

Looooong solo walk back to Holiday Inn. Nervous about getting mugged since it was quiet and no one else on the street for much of the walk, and it was a ton of walking for the first night. Should have grabbed a cab, definitely will remember next time that shuttles close down at 10 on Preview night.

May have caught, skinned and eaten a muppet on the way home. Memory fuzzy.

Now, very full from food from yesterday, thinking about skipping breakfast and just heading to the Con.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Is Awesome

If you haven't already heard about Sean Tevis, who's running for State Representative in Kansas, go check this out. It's a very funny comic in the style of XCKD that he used for fund-raising. He's within 3 points (last I heard) of his anti-evolution, pro-censorship, pro-surveillance, anti-gay incumbent, and he was trying to raise $26,000 to outspend his opponent, since money helps determine a lot of races.

So he made up a webcomic where he laid out his basic fundraising plan, asking for $8.34 from 3000 people (which would break the Kansas record by some 2300+). He hit 3000 people in just under 40 hours. As of right now, he's got 5,298 people.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Al Gore's Energy Speech

You know, I've said and done plenty of stupid things in my time. I'll do plenty more. But I can't believe I ever thought there was no real measurable difference between Al Gore and George W Bush, and voted for Nader instead. I mean, I'm in Texas, my vote didn't count anyway, but knowing that I ever was that stupid still grates on me.

Gore's energy speech is fantastic. What's amazing is how little it asks of most of us. Instead, this asks industry and politicians to put aside short-term plans to think long-term, and as a result all of us could benefit.

Who out there believes that the industries and politicians will listen?

Yeah, me neither. Depressing, ain't it?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - July 23, 2008

Week before San Diego, so of course the shelves are flooded with "just in time" releases. Of course, since I'm boarding a plane right after we pull books, a lot of these will have to wait until at least next week for me to read them. But Apocalipstix, Korgi and Mini Marvels are going on the plane with me!

Apocalipstix Vol 1 TP (Can't wait to finally see this book... the short stories and excerpts over the years have been excellent)
Flight Vol 5 TP (Another great installment of Flight)
Mini Marvels Vol 1 Rock Paper Scissors Digest TP (Giarruso's Mini-Marvels have been a fun epilogue to a lot of Marvel's books in the last few years)
Korgi Vol 2 Cosmic Collector TP (Yay! I've been anxiously awaiting this since I closed the first Korgi way back when)
Too Cool To Be Forgotten HC (I got to read this ahead of time, and it's absolutely one of my favorite graphic novels of the year. Review at Comic Pants)

Blood Bowl #2 (More gridiron bloodshed and fantasy parody from Boom!)
Brave And The Bold #15 (Second part of the immensely fun Deadman/Green Arrow team-up by Waid and Kolins)
Comic Book Tattoo TP (Not a huge Tori Amos fan, but I am a fan of Image anthologies, which are always worth a look)
Dead Space #5 (This just keeps getting weirder and creepier)
DMZ #33 (Election story continues to kick ass.)
Hack Slash Annual Suicide Girls (I've read a lot of this, and it's a blast, one of the best Hack Slash stories ever)
Image Monster Pile Up #1 (Bunch of cool Image books in bargain priced crossover/promo book... fun idea)
Immortal Iron Fist #17 (Not bad... not great, but a decent continuation. Can't help but feel weaker than what has gone before, but not a travesty)
Invincible #51 (Interested to see where Kirkman goes from here... very much not interested in the new, ugly costume)
Liberty Comics A CBLDF Benefit Book (Great creative line-up, and it's for a good cause)
Madman Atomic Comics Vol 1 TP (I dig Allred's work, so I'm looking forward to finally reading some new Madman)
Maintenance Vol 3 TP (It took me some time to warm up to this one, but having read both trades, I now think it's hilarious)
Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #1 (My daughter has been anxiously awaiting this Hulk/Spidey/Iron Man team-up book... and since it's got Paul Tobin writing, so have I)
Nocturnals Carnival Of Beasts (New Nocturnals material is great... more Nocturnals hardcovers would be even better)
Proof #10 (Continuing one of Image's best, and strangest, books)
Scout Vol 2 TP (Yay! More Tim Truman post-apocalyptic Apache action!)
Thunderbolts #122 (Gage takes over for a Secret Invasion crossover, and so I'll keep reading)
Uncanny X-Men #500 (Kind of curious about this one, actually. I like Fraction, I like X-Men, and I love the new San Francisco setting)
Usagi Yojimbo #113 (This book is always good, but Sakai has been on a particular roll of late)
Warhammer 40k Exterminatus #1 (We're starting a Warhammer 40K RPG based on the Inquisition on Sunday, and this fits that mold perfectly... plus it's more great Games Workshop licensed stuff from Boom!)
Warhammer Condemned By Fire #3 (My favorite Games Workshop-related Boom! book so far)
Wolverine First Class #5 (Alpha Flight, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine! OK, I'll check this out)
X-men Legacy #214 (Still kind of enjoying this one, despite its preponderance of '90s storylines, Gambit *and* Mister Sinister)
Yam TP (Another promising all-ages offering from Top Shelf)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Catching Up...

I've been neglecting the blog (and almost everything else) a bit lately while I try to get ready for San Diego and make sure everything at the store is done so I can take what amounts to a week off. One of those things is catching up on my email and responding, usually embarrassingly late, to friends and acquaintances, and discovering things that I really ought to link to. So this is mostly a links post.

First off, just for the record, I went and saw The Dark Knight at a midnight screening at the Alamo Drafthouse. I was really impressed by the trailers for Watchmen and Quantum of Solace, and I loved the movie. Over two hours long, and it never bothered me. I was a skeptic on Batman Begins, I still have some issues with it, major and minor, so I didn't really expect to love this one as much as I did. But it's awesome. Heath Ledger is amazing, there are some great action set-pieces, Aaron Eckhart is fantastic as Harvey Dent, Gary Oldman gets to play Gordon in a way that I liked a whole lot more than his somewhat goofy turn in Begins, Bale and Morgan Freeman are terrific, Maggie Gyllenhall brings some nice weight to Rachel Dawes, there are several great twists and turns... it's not the best adaptation of Batman to the screen (that's still Batman: The Animated Series and Mask of the Phantasm), but it was pretty amazing. Maybe even better than Iron Man, although I go back and forth on that, since Iron Man was so much fun, and this one is more of a dark, harrowing movie.

Anyway, on to the linkblogging:

Ryan Claytor of Elephant Eater Comics is making another driving tour across the country, starting in San Diego at Comicon and then getting back to his new home in Michigan. He's going to stop at a bunch of comic shops along the way, and if you're on that route, you should stop in and see him and pick up his comics, as they're really good. You can see the route and more about the tour at his website.

This one's from Chip Mosher, and it's worth heading over to Boom! Studios to see what all they're getting up to in San Diego and beyond:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekly Comics to Come - July 16, 2008

Forgot about this again this week, so I've already read all of these. Light (and mostly disappointing) week:

Batman And The Outsiders #9 (Really good, funny, nice investigation stuff, beautiful artwork... worried that it might not wrap neatly with #10, though)
Captain America #40 (As solid and entertaining as ever)
Conan The Cimmerian #1 (Pretty good, with nice art from Corben)
Tiny Titans #6 (Light and fun, my daughter loves this book)
Zot Vol 1 Comp Black & White Stories 1987 To 1991 TP (Can't wait to finally read this whole book all together)

Final Crisis Rogues Revenge #1 (Beautiful art, pretty fun, but the last five or six pages of story almost turned me off)
Incredible Hercules #119 (Kind of fun, but I'm not engaged by the Skrull gods story that much... it might click better with me in trade)
Universal War One #1 (Nice art, intriguing characters, boooorrring first act)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Rock Band 2 Song List & Features Confirmed

Over at the Harmonix forums, they've got the song list and feature list and... wow.

Just wow.

The first track from Chinese Democracy? Bob Dylan? AC/DC? I mean, these are all huge coups. On top of that, there are a *ton* of songs I can't wait to play, like Beastie Boys' “So Whatcha Want”, Beck's “E-Pro”, Elvis Costello's “Pump It Up”, Foo Fighters' “Everlong”, Joan Jett's “Bad Reputation”, Lit's “My Own Worst Enemy”, Mighty Mighty Bosstones' “Where’d You Go”, Modest Mouse's “Float On”, Red Hot Chili Peppers' “Give it Away”, Steve Miller Band's “Rock’n Me”, The Guess Who's “American Woman”, The Offspring's “Come Out & Play (Keep ‘em Separated)” and of course, The Who's “Pinball Wizard."

Then there are almost a dozen songs that ought to be cheesy fun, like Alanis Morissette's “You Oughta Know”, Allman Brothers' “Ramblin’ Man”, Blondie's “One Way or Another”, Bon Jovi's “Livin’ on a Prayer”, Disturbed's “Down with the Sickness”, Duran Duran's “Hungry Like the Wolf”, Journey's “Anyway You Want It”, Kansas' “Carry On Wayward Son”, Ratt's “Round & Round” and of course, Survivor's “Eye of the Tiger.” Hell, they even managed to put on my favorite song from Soundgarden (a band I'm not hugely fond of),“Spoonman.”

That's not even mentioning the numerous songs that I'm either a mild fan of or don't know that well, but will probably turn into favorites, if my experience from the previous Rock Band is any indication. And this is only the start, they're starting with 80 songs and promising 20 free downloads this fall.

Plus... *all* songs are master recordings? No covers? The ability to download the Rock Band 1 disc songs so you can have your *entire* Rock Band library playable without having to swap out discs? Improved Quickplay? Online Battle of the Bands? Customizable Setlists? Drum Trainer?

Harmonix is awesome. They made the perfect game in Rock Band... and then they managed to *improve* it with Rock Band 2. Can't wait for September.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bible as elective

So I saw this: Bible class guidelines constitutional, AG says

First thought: Well, duh. It's Texas.

Second: Actually, I don't have a *huge* problem with this, even though I have major problems with organized religion in general. They are elective courses, and that's the most important thing... if students are in any way required to take these, even in a "not enough viable elective choices" way, then I'll get upset. But allowing students with faith (or a curiosity about faith?) to learn about the Bible in school? Hey, I guess I'm cool with that. I mean, I'd think most church-goers already know these lessons, and might want to spend their valuable free education time on coursework where they don't already know all the answers, but hey, y'know, whatever.

My biggest concern is that these classes are going to be more of a religious indoctrination, rather than teaching the Bible the way that we teach, say, Greek mythology or Mayan culture. Teaching it as a non-denominational, non-judgmental, examination of the good, the bad and the ugly of The Bible and Christianity and how it has been interpreted and misinterpreted over the years. Cover the Crusades as well as the soup kitchens, the Salem witch trials as well as the power of prayer.

Do I think this is how it will be taught? No, as I said, it's Texas. So while I may not have a *huge* problem with it in theory, I have plenty of concern about it in practice. But I'll be perfectly fine with it up until the point where the class or its teachings interfere with my children and my life.

Friday, July 11, 2008

TV: Boldly Going Nowhere

Holy shit. The Futon Critic has a story about a proposed Fox midseason replacement from the writers of Always Sunny in Philadelphia that transplants the sense of humor of that show to a sci-fi premise about an inept spaceship crew.

In his review (which you really should read), The Futon Critic has a pretty good overview of a few of the gags and the general sensibilities of the show. He also expresses skepticism that this racy a show will get onto Fox. I share that skepticism, but I say this now:

Fox, if you air at least a half-dozen episodes of this show, I will officially forgive you for the severe fucking you did of Firefly.

Brandon Graham is awesome - Tokyopop is teh suck

So I read this over at Blog@Newsarama - apparently, Tokyopop isn't releasing the rights to King City to Brandon Graham, which is of course lame. The good news is, Graham is posting it online, the first 12 pages are up at his site (this link also has new pages from color Multiple Warheads!) and they are, as expected, quite awesome.

I very much doubt anyone from Tokyopop reads this blog, but on the off chance you do: We sell a fair amount of manga in my store. And I make a lot of decisions every month about what books to order in and take a chance on, and what books go to "special order only." This kind of shit factors into my decisions, just so you know.

I'm Gotham PD!

So today, in The Batman Strikes #47, I've officially joined the Gotham City PD. Josh Elder (writer of this issue, creator of Mail Order Ninja and high on my "wish he was going to San Diego so we could get dinner again" list) wrote me, Dave Campbell, Chris Sims and Rachelle Goguen into Batman Adventures #47. Rachelle has the panels scanned in over at her site, and she got the coolest job (lighting the Bat signal). Sims also gets the cool job of heading up the tactical units. Me? I get to make sure "Every cop in Gotham is on the streets. Now." A direct order from Jim Gordon. So yeah, that's pretty damned cool. Campbell gets to call the Mayor, which is the least-cool job, but that's what he gets for retiring. ;)

It's also a really good issue, as it turns out. Only the second one I've ever read (the first was Elder's Batman/Superman issue, also a good one), it has a great take on Black Mask (a villain I don't traditionally like), nice use of the Joker, Batgirl and Robin, a *ton* of story, great action, terrific art by Christopher Jones (who I remember from Young Heroes in Love)... it actually made me interested in watching the show.

And I actually didn't know of Rachelle's blog, so it was cool to discover that as a result of this too.

Also, I'm quoted on the back of Halo & Sprocket 2 this week, and as Halo & Sprocket is probably one of my top ten favorite comics of all time (and definitely in the top three funniest comics I've ever read), that was cool too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rock Band 2 = drooool

I was excited by this last Friday, which saw not only the announcement of a couple Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks, but the upcoming, long-anticipated Who pack, as well as Rock Band 2.

In September. Only three, maybe two-and-a-half, months away. My plan was to just buy the game, but then some news leaked out today about the new instruments and they look super-sweet. I already have a wireless guitar, but I love the look of the new one, I have *got* to have the wireless drums, and so I might wind up buying the whole set... or I might buy the game and buy the wireless drums separately, if that's an option.

Then there's the rumored setlist. If even half of this is correct (and the odds seem pretty good), it's going to be an impressive setlist, just like Rock Band 1. And all downloadable content is backwards-compatible. If only the original Rock Band music could also be loaded in if you already have the game, that would be the best, but that's a minor concern.

Plus the gameplay features, seemingly incorporating a lot of what I've been hoping for. Your customized characters can now play on any instrument. You can make your own setlists. There are more categories to organize song lists by (hopefully "downloads" is one of them.) World Tour is now online. There are no more band leaders. You can switch instruments during the tour. There's a battle of the bands mode. There are mini-campaigns not just by instrument, but by decade, genre and artist. And that's just the stuff I can tell from the promo, who knows what else will be in the offering.

I will be buying Rock Band 2 the very day it becomes available. I can't wait.

I Come Not To Praise Jesse Helms, But To Bury Him In Scorn

You know, I haven't posted anything about Jesse Helms, because I generally do believe in not speaking ill of the dead. But I think you have to make exceptions for people who were outright evil, and Helms was. I did a happy little jig when I learned that he had died, it was finally a counterbalance to the deaths of Rory Root, Michael Turner, George Carlin... people who helped make the world a better place with intelligence, kindness, talent, etc.

Helms was a racist, homophobic, tobacco-pushing piece of shit. That he represented North Carolina in the Senate for so many years tells you a lot about the Senate, and about a lot of North Carolinians (not all of them, if we're judging folks based on who their state sends to office, well, then us liberal Texans have to take blame for G.W. Bush, too). The world is better for his removal from it. I don't believe in Heaven or Hell, but I kind of like the idea of Helms getting up to the pearly gates, and the doors open, and George Carlin and Bill Hicks step up, punch him in the face and the groin and send him screaming down to Hell where he belongs.

Want to see a little bit more on Helms, and why his death is not a cause for mourning? Roland Martin on reminds folks not to sanitize Helms' racist beliefs just because he's dead. No, I'm more with a 51-year-old manager at a lab in North Carolina went into forced retirement for taking a stand against lowering the flag in respect to Helms (that he didn't deserve).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pet Ownership - Really?

So the AP, with their McCain leg-humping version of objectivity, has a howler up today: Pet owners, it seems, are more likely to vote for McCain because he owns pets, while Obama is "petless."

Good lord.

Look, I have a dog, who I adopted from the humane society. I'm an animal lover by nature (although cows don't count, PETA members... I love animals, but I love steak more.)

But if you're seriously basing any part of your vote for President of the United States on whether or not he has a fucking bull terrier? Do me a favor... write your will leaving everything to Senator Fluffykins, your 6-year-old Lhasa Apso, go in the garage, close up all the vents and start up your car. All dogs go to heaven, so you'll have plenty of company, and those of us who vote based on actual issues can decide the Presidency instead.

Oh, and AP? If you ever call me with a poll about my views on the candidates' pet-ownership, or golf scores, or music tastes, or whatever other pointless bullshit you can come up with, I'm going to laugh at you, call you four, maybe six, of George Carlin's seven words, and then hang up on you.

Edit: Apparently this is a, let's say, unusual interpretation of this poll. Which makes me slightly less depressed about American voters, and slightly more depressed about the state of pollsters and journalism in this country.

Blog Update for June 2008

This is the latest monthly update to the right 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.

It was another pretty good month for comics reading, at least for me. Breaks down like this: 7 Marvel (two of them MAX), 5 DC (one of them Vertigo, two of them Chuck Dixon and one of them Mark Waid, the latter three are all on their way out), 3 Dark Horse, 2 Boom! (both Games Workshop licensed books), 1 Image (Jay Faerber's Gemini) and 2 indies (RASL and Superior Showcase). Almost making the cut this month we've got a half-dozen Marvel books (Captain America #39, Thunderbolts #121, What If Fantastic Four Tribute To Mike Wieringo, X-Men Legacy #213, Wolverine #66 and X-Factor #32), a lone DC hold-out (Tiny Titans #5), a lone Dark Horse holdout (Buffy The Vampire Slayer #15), two Image (Noble Causes #34 and Pilot Season Genius #1) and three indie (Scream Queen #1 from Boom!, Hack Slash Series #12 from Devil's Due and Jim Butchers Dresden Files #3 from Dabel Brothers). Writers with more than one entry in the list this month were Jeff Parker, Abnett & Lanning and Chuck Dixon. Nobody had more than two, unless you count Abnett separately from Lanning for his contributions to Warhammer Condemned by Fire, which nudges him up to three.

I broke the "10 good graphic novels a month" rule this month, and also read Suburban Glamour, Jack of Fables Vol 3 and the latest Wormwood Gentleman Corpse (Calamari Rising) all of which landed just outside the top 10. Instead of reading a novel this month, I read issues #1-50 of Robin, plus the three miniseries, since I was in a Chuck Dixon Robin mood. Mostly it doesn't hold up all that well, especially given the bad '90s paper quality, coloring and sometimes art/inking.

Not a lot of TV in June... in fact, I barely even turned the Tivo on, save to watch the finales for Battlestar Galactica and Spectacular Spider-Man. Mostly, I've been watching DVDs, finally starting to watch The Wire (I'm four or five episodes into season one and loving it) and catching up on TV series that I got as gifts a long while back, watching seasons one through three of The Office and then starting on Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I also watched the first episodes of Weeds and Diary of a Call Girl from Showtime, and decided I was just interested enough to watch them on DVD when they come out. Thankfully, Burn Notice starts on Thursday... and I hope Always Sunny will return in August or before as well.

I added eight new RSS feeds this month, half of them new political feeds. Those are BAGnewsNotes (great photo/analysis blog), Talking Points Memo
and TPM Election Central (a steady flow of liberal-bent political news) and Crooks and Liars (really good at pointing out the stupidity of politics and politicians). I also added the new (and irregularly updated) webcomic Comic Critics, the pop-culture site IO9 (like Boing-Boing but tons better, more focused on geek silliness and less on how evil DRM is, and has Graeme McMillan writing for them), plus art blogs for Jeremy Haun and Brian Hurtt.

Weekly Comics to Come - July 10th, 2008

Annihilation Conquest Book 2 HC (The beginning of my realization that Abnett & Lanning are my favorite superhero writers of the moment)
BPRD The Warning #1 (The Arcudi/Mignola/Davis team returns)
Guardians Of Galaxy #3 (Three issues in, and this book lives up to all the hopes I had for it... which is a pretty big bar to clear)
Halo & Sprocket Vol 2 Natural Creatures TP (Hooray! All too rare, new Halo & Sprocket, which is funny, smart, great cartooning)
Nova #15 (Also continues to impress... this latest Galactus arc has been fantastic)

American Virgin Vol 4 Around The World TP (Not the world's best ending, but there's some good storytelling in here, and gorgeous artwork)
Batman Strikes #47 (Josh Elder writes, Christopher Jones illustrates, and me and a few other bloggers get name-checked as Gotham cops... sounds fun!)
Bone Color Ed Vol 8 Treasure Hunters TP (Almost done with the whole thing in color... then it's on to the 3D holographic version!)
Booster Gold #1000000 (This is probably the make-or-break issue of Booster Gold for me)
Captain America White #0 (Loeb & Sale always do nice work, and I like their Marvel series better than most of their DC stuff)
Captain Britain And MI 13 #3 (Still in the "take it or leave it" camp on this book, but I'm reading to see if it hooks me more)
Criminal Vol 3 Dead And Dying TP (Another dark tale of noir from Brubaker & Phillips)
Femme Noir Dark City Diaries #1 (Could just be cheesecake, but this could also be a sort of pulpy fun book... there's some nice talent involved)
Hack Slash Series #13 (Very much enjoying the ongoing subplots, glad Seeley went the ongoing route for this book)
I Kill Giants #1 (Looks... weird. But very nice art)
Invincible Iron Man #3 (Best issue of the book so far... still not completely sold, but invested enough to keep reading)
Secret Invasion #4 (I'll probably skim read, after my loss of interest with #3)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dear U.S. Media

I remember thinking, so many times, during the Bush years, how piss-poor of a job you were doing asking anything approaching relevant questions. Oh, sure, there are occasional flashes of actual journalism, but mostly you guys seem to be parroting whatever crazy issues either campaign tells you is the issue of the day.

It's sad that I thought we might have a national debate about healthcare, gas prices, the economy, y'know, stuff that matters, but instead we've got the nth story about how Obama's a flip-flopper, McCain's a straight talker, etc. Instead, it's almost exactly like the coverage we got of Kerry and Bush.

The issues are lost, and the ones that are being covered (like the Iraq War) are being covered lazily. The national debate is retarded, and I blame you.

Do your damn jobs. Stop taking sides... most of you seem to be pulling for McCain, but even those of you pulling for Obama... stop it. You are journalists. Your side is supposed to be the truth, borne out by investigation and research and analysis, rather than whatever shit we can make up in our own heads via our own biases and what the political spin doctors are telling us.

It's a sad state of affairs that the most balanced, revelatory coverage of politics continues to come from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, which are *spoofing* you guys.

We're already practically down a branch of government thanks to the hackery that this Executive Branch has done to the Legislative and Judicial, could we maybe have our Fourth Estate back before it's too late?

Remember post-Katrina, when you all got a glimpse of the truly horrible results of the Bush Administration's crony-ism and corruption? Many of you found your balls again at that point, and I dared to hope that might last, but within a month, you were all back to the same lazy, weak-minded partisan bullshit.

If you're wondering why people now say journalist with the same disdain they reserve for the word politician, it's because you guys have become too much like the political hacks. You're supposed to be better than that. Get to it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Cool Video

I'm increasingly worried that this (or DMZ) is what our future might look like, if the government continues on its present course.

Then there's this acoustic cover, which is also just kind of awesome: