“You’re tryin’ to find

a reason for the way you feel tonight

Your mind is lined with layers of lead

have you heard one thing that I’ve said?”

Little Black Backpack by Stroke 9

  • Chugging along on the comic, got held up a bit by a page or two that I just didn’t like the look of.  Some of the posing is proving more complex than I initially thought.  Slowing getting the inking done as I go.  Not necessarily in love with the pacing and time structure, but it is progress.  Definitely liking where I’m going with it.  If all goes according to plan, I will be ready to be looking a bit more seriously into actually getting an issue out by the end of June, probably about the time I’m on vacation.  Was still holding an outside hope to be doing more with VTCC, but I don’t think I’m going to be quite on pace for where I’d like to be that soon.
  • Starting to sell some comics on eBay.  Link to my listings, if you’re into buying comics.  Kind of starting the process of liquidating my collection–at least partially.  Right now it is basically the Warlock/Infinity Gauntlet books that I’ve gotten signed over the years.  Adam Warlock’s origins and first appearances (Fantastic Four 66, 67 and Thor 165) Gamora’s first appearance (Strange Tales 180) and the first three issues of the Infinity Gauntlet series as well as my variant issue for Batman #2 of the New 52.  The early Warlock books are signed by Stan Lee, while everything else is signed by Jim Starlin.  The Batman book is signed by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion.  I’m hoping to make a decent profit off of those books.  I have the numbers in my head for what I paid to get them and get the signatures and grading done and using that to determine a break even point.  I’m starting to get away from being so heavy into CGC stuff.  I mean, I’ve done everything I was really serious about getting the CGC Signature Series done on.  To be honest, the CGC stuff has been too costly and time consuming for me to really get much of a benefit out of it.  I will probably still get a few books signed this year at NYCC, but I don’t anticipate spending much more than an hour of the two days I’m down there focused on it.
  • NYCC.  New York Comic Con.  Do I over-glorify it?  Probably.  I’ve been thinking about it a bit.  I love these trips, but it always feels like I come home not having accomplished all I could have.  I don’t know.  Part of it might be a bit of the cloud of putting off proposing that last year I went down with LMCBW.  Though the idea of an engagement while her sister was moving across the country was one I did not want to deal with–and I don’t regret not proposing after the process of them going to Nevada began, I stand by my belief that it would have been seen too much as being in response to the upcoming move and not about us–the romantic notion of an NYC proposal does move me a bit.  That’s just one example, but I have generally felt like these trips have been to an extant left incomplete.  That’s what this year’s going to be all about.  Making sure it feels complete.

There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not.

-Drax Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

  • Been keeping up with the pencilling a page a day approach to drawing out comics.  Working more with a hybrid workflow on my comics now.  Draw it out in pencil, then go to the computer for finished art/lettering.  Works well for time management.  I’m liking that approach right now.
  • Saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  Liked it well enough.  Do think they got a bit overboard with the during/after credit stuff.  Just my opinion.  I just feel like the Marvel movies are losing the magic they once had.  Like they’ve been a lot more hit or miss in quality lately.  Might just be me though.
  • I’ve seen this quote Chris Pratt made about working out.  When he got the part of Peter Quill, he actually put himself through a fairly intense program to get into the shape he was for these movies.  It goes, “Six months seems like a long time unless you’re looking backwards… all you have to do is just a few things everyday and remain consistent, and time will fly just as fast as it flies if you’re working hard or not. If you just cut the crap out of your diet, and if you spend an hour a day doing something physical that will make you sweat, six months will pass by, you will feel better mentally, physically, spiritually — it all is tied together.”  Very true.  In the time since I became single I really ramped up my routines at the gym and straightened out a few things diet wise and it has made a huge difference.
  • Random question that occurred to me:  Why do we glorify breasts and butts?  I mean, functionally speaking I understand.  Ideal traits for reproduction.  The breasts are essentially fat and if they are small they get bigger when they are fulfilling their purpose.  But in general, is there really a serious benefit to bigger breasts?  As as for butts… admitted a well formed and solid backside is a sign of good physical conditioning.  I like looking at a squat booty as much as anybody.  I really do, but why is it that we focus on that?  We have to find the best attributes, but shouldn’t we appreciate the whole?
  • Finishing up my review for work.  I handed it in, but my supervisor wanted me to revise, go into more detail about a few things.  I’m almost tempted to post it online for public consumption.  Doesn’t really matter they won’t take it seriously anyway.

He who hesitates is lost…

  • I was working on some drawings and stuff and realized something.  I often told myself I would do a table if I had this different many prints, this many sketch cards and copies of an actual comic to sell.  I just realized I have the prints and sketch cards I would prefer to have.  All I really have to do is actually get some actual comic stuff ready to go.  Which is doable since VTCC isn’t until the end of August.  Problem is that I’m pretty sure the deadline to get a table set up has come and gone.  Oh well, I’m cool with volunteering again.
  • Redrawing the first issue of Order of the Dragon in pencil rather than digitally.  Wasn’t entirely thrilled with a how a few of the pages came out, plus I do like the feel I have drawing better when I’m using pencil and paper.  Plan is to basically do a page a day in pencil, then ink it in photoshop whenever I can.  Hopefully I’ll be at a point where I can seriously entertain doing some kind of printed single issue by then.
  • Saw NYCC has done away with the three and four day passes.  I liked those for the convenience personally.  Might cut me down to two days this year.  I’ll be annoyed if there’s something on the days I don’t go that I miss as a result.
  • I saw this meme this other day about how people who don’t work on their personal  goals after work aren’t tired, they’re uninspired.  No, sometimes I’m too tired.
  • Officially paid off one of my school loans.  That really only leaves the Navient stuff as far as school loans are concerned.  With a bit of luck, those should be knocked down in no time.  I feel I’m getting into a better place debtwise.  Debating the possibility of selling a few comics to accelerate that process.  I’m overdue to get the ball rolling on the comics anyway.
  • I’ve talked about how I feel the key to a proper diet is balance.  This is part of the reason I find myself skeptical of the benefits of a vegetarian diet.  I have a coworker who recently became a vegetarian and he has become a bit of a stereotype.  His choice, but I have some fundamental disagreements.  I believe humans evolved to eat meat for a reason and that has been a crucial element of our progression.  While one argument I’ve heard is that meat is full of hormones, what if we need those?  I have become more selective with my meats–partly a result of some bad experiences with the local Shaw’s–and tend to prefer local stuff I know where it came from.  There is no such thing as a uniform approach to diet and the human body will have different needs at different times.  Fulfilling those needs is up to everyone to figure out how best to do so.

Some Comic Reviews

April 29, 2017

Finally got caught up on my comic book subscriptions, so I figured I would write a few quick reviews.  Today’s issues include: Batman #21, Sex Criminals #18, My Little Pony: Legends of Magic #1, Hulk #4 and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Adaptation #1.

  • Batman #21.  Written by Tom King with art from Jason Fabok, this story essentially goes back to the major events of the DC: Rebirth one-shot where Batman is investigating the Watchmen button found in the Batcave when the pre-Flashpoint Reverse Flash arrives.  Other than a major fight between Batman and the Reverse Flash, not much really happens here and basically essentially it lays the groundwork for the rest of the investigation to occur over the next issues of the Flash and Batman.  Although the DC books have dropped various hints as to the mystery behind the Button, I’m glad they haven’t gone as seriously into until now, giving the Rebirth take on the characters a chance to get established before building up the big event.
  • Sex Criminals #18.  I’ve really enjoyed this series.  Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have turned what seems like a silly, immature concept into something more.  This particular issue had a scene or two that reminded me of a conversation with an ex, where they are discussing some frustrations with each other.  Great issue, I definitely consider this series at times to be a major influence in my views on relationships.
  • My Little Pony: Legends of Magic #1.  This series is replacing the Friends Forever series and focus on the historical figures of the MLP universe.  This first story was focused on Starswirl the Bearded training Celestia and Luna in magic, which Luna struggling as Celestia taunts her.  Luna attempts some dangerous magic and Starswirl has to fix it.  This was solid, definitely was a bit of fresh air as it felt like the team-up element of Friends Forever was getting a bit more stretched and they were scrapping the bottom of the barrel.
  • Hulk #4.  Overall, I’ve liked this series.  One of the few non-Star Wars Marvel Comics that I’m still collecting.  Essentially, the story follows Jennifer Walters as she deals with the aftershocks of Civil War II, where she was nearly killed by Thanos and her cousin Bruce–aka the original Hulk–was killed by Hawkeye.  Focusing on Jennifer’s struggle to keep herself under control, the interesting aspect of this series has been how through four issues she has yet to transform.  Written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Nico Leon, this has been a fairly well done book.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story #1.  I initially only collected this because it was a Star Wars book, but the first issue of the adaptation of the movie was fairly interesting.  It isn’t as direct as some adaptations, a few things rearranged for flow in print form and a couple of added bits–like Galen Erso and Bodhi Rook talking about the Death Star before Rook goes in search of Saw Guerrera.  Like the Star Wars prequels, the challenge of an adaptation like this is that most people already know the story, it is more important to make it worth reading.  And in that sense, I think it was a fairly well done attempt here.

I’ve been doing this breakdown of my comics pull-list as I adjust and budget for the future and have made a few observations.  I’m going to break it down by company.

  • With DC Comics, I continue to collect several titles.  Aquaman, the Flash, Batgirl, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Batwoman, Batman, All-Star Batman, Wonder Woman, and Scooby: Apocalypse.  Most of these titles I’ve collected consistently since the onset of the New 52, with a few changes made here and there.  I’ve thought about collecting Superman or Action Comics again, but I only have so much money to work with and I have to draw a line somewhere.  Although if there are enough ongoings out of the way, I might add them again.  Despite the flaws with the New 52 and Rebirth, I’ve actually been really impressed with a lot of what DC Comics has done.  It does feel like they have a good plan and are more willing to take chances with that plan.
  • Independent Comics are a steadily growing part of my collection.  From Dynamite Entertainment, I’ve been collecting the James Bond title.  Mostly because Warren Ellis had been writing the title, might drop that one now that some one else has taken over.  From IDW I have been collecting My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as well as My Little Pony: Friends Forever, which is being replaced by My Little Pony: Legends of Magic.  Despite an exgirlfriend’s best efforts, I never could stand the television show, but the comics were top notch.  And this new comic is supposed to deal with the history of magic in the MLP universe.  From Image Comics, it has been a steady lineup of Bitch Planet, East of West and Sex Criminals.  All three of which have been excellent.  From Titan Comics, the Doctor Who series focusing on Doctors 9-12.  Kept meaning to get into the Torchwood comic as well, but never did.  Again, budgeting.  The last Independent comic I’ve been keeping on is Insexts, which has been this weird, delightful story.
  • Which leaves Marvel Comics.  This is where I’ve cut most of my books actually.  Mostly I’ve been collecting the Star Wars comics–Star Wars, Poe Dameron, Doctor Aphra, Darth Maul–while the core superhero titles is down to the Avengers, Hulk, the Mighty Thor and the Unworthy Thor.  Hulk has been a really good PTSD story, while Avengers and the Thor books have been fairly solid and consistent.

So I’ve outlined what I’m actively collecting right now.  I’ve observed this general shift away from Marvel, which has been for a number of reasons.  Not likely to ditch any Star Wars titles, but the core titles have been dropping fast.  Even the Thor or Avengers titles could go soon.  And here’s why.

  1. Creators.  Not that long ago, Marvel Comics had writers like Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Kelly-Sue DeConnick, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, and Kieron Gillen working for them.  Artists like John Romita Jr., Dale Eaglesham and Declan Shalvey has since moved on from Marvel.  Every one of those that I’ve just listed had some role in the overall redefinition or rejuvenation of a character.  Most of them have gone to do work at Image or other independent companies.  Meanwhile, I look at DC and think they have done a pretty decent job of finding good fits for their overall plan and keeping them in positions to be at their best.  Not all the time, but a lot of the time.  I think it would have established a better consistency of tone with Marvel if they hand been able to keep a couple more of those writers and artists around.
  2. Stories.  Despite their flaws and missteps, DC seems to be sticking to a bigger vision for their titles and that comes out in stories on all levels.  From the solo street level characters up to the big cosmic team books, there has been a solid and consistent vision.  Marvel on the other hand, I just think they’ve been telling mediocre stories.  So many of their books are just building up to the next event so we don’t have an opportunity to see any character development.  Stories too dependent on ex machina gimmicks and Macguffins.  DC might be guilty of that too with the Watchmen button, but I argue the return of Wally West and the Pre-New 52 Superman made that a bit less of an annoyance.  Cosmic Cubes and Infinity Gauntlets are more what has become an annoying dependency for Marvel.
  3. Pricing.  I think Marvel could make more of an effort to keep more of their books under $3.99.  It is more the nature of the business, but I think DC has made a much more obvious effort to keep their prices under control.
  4. Diversity.  Marvel has tried to blame slumping sales on too much diversity at one point or another.  The one way that happens is if they force things too much.  I do think they have tried too hard to diversify, but haven’t necessarily given the conditions for those titles to succeed.

For if one is remembered by a friend, one is never truly gone.

-Star Wars: Thrawn

  • Finally broke the hour mark in Overwatch with Orisa.  In some ways she can be annoying, but her abilities can be useful.  I probably will play as her more often than I play as some others.
  • Weekend off coming up.  Hopefully going to power through some reading, writing and drawing that I’ve been putting off.  Getting closer to Comic Con season, so I stepping that up is a priority.  Might also start the process of selling off my comics.  That is a bit of a trickier thing, as I want to have a steady flow of books getting signed and graded as I sell them.  Maximize and extend my profit window.
  • I saw recently that Greg Rucka’s run as writer of Wonder Woman will be coming to an end relatively soon.  Part of me is kind of glad about that.  It’s not that he’s a bad writer, but I just get tired of him working with lesbian characters all of the time–I could argue Wonder Woman as more bisexual, but in the current storyline she has not necessarily shown an overwhelming interest in men.  Regardless, Rucka’s work–thinking of Rene Montoya, Kate Kane, Carrie Stetko–tends to focus on lesbian heroines.  I’m all for diversity, but I think there could be a bit more variation to the diversity.  Kind of goes along with my biggest complaint about Tracer from Overwatch.  I thought there were more powerful statements to be made with the character and the game in general.
  • Finished reading the new Star Wars: Thrawn novel.  Pretty solid stuff.  Think Timothy Zahn did a good job building up the characters and showing the functioning of the Empire at that time.  I was a bit taken aback when Disney announced that the novels and comics and video games from the last couple of decades were no longer canon, but I understood the need to declutter.  A lot of the material was clutter and detracted from the better stories of the Expanded Universe.  I’m glad they brought back Thrawn though.  The Thrawn books were some of my favorites from the novels, probably the most well written.  Makes me wonder if Thrawn or Eli Vanto will appear in Last Jedi or Episode IX.  In some form, maybe the character portrayed by Benicio Del Toro?

“I am only an egg.”

-Stranger In A Strange Land

  • Saw something about Twitter changing the default avatar from an egg to a silhouette.  I was preferable to the egg myself.  In the novel Stranger In A Strange Land, Michael Smith often repeats the phrase, “I am only an egg.”  Basically he’s saying, “I still have a lot to learn.”  Having the egg I think was a good reminder that people people don’t necessarily know everything and that we all still have a lot to learn.  We all have something to learn and something to teach each other.  Plus, Twitter does have the bird theme.
  • Was trying to figure out if there was going to be a trade paperback of the Overwatch comics coming out anytime soon.  Doesn’t look that way.  I think Dark Horse has been putting them out digitally, but I would like to get a hard copy at some point.  It is really interesting how they have developed the world and characters of the game, in that there is no real story in the game play.  Been taking a break from that anyway.  A lot of Batman: Arkham Knight and Mass Effect: Andromeda with some Skyrim thrown in.  Finally cracking into the stack of games I haven’t gotten into as heavily yet.  Gave brief thought to plugging the Playstation 3, which I still haven’t done since I left Shoreham.
  • Saw an article the other day about how some people at Marvel Comics is blaming their drop in sales on “pushing too much diversity” in their comics.  Seriously?  You basically have all your books leading from one event to the next, constantly restart the titles each year, and recycle plots from the last few decades.  On top of that, Marvel has lost a lot of top talent over the last few years, probably on some level due to Editorial issues.  But anyway, tell me how “too much diversity” is the real problem.
  • Joss Whedon has apparently taken on the task of making a Batgirl movie.  At the first glance, I was excited.  Whedon has done an excellent array of work with female characters that most find admirable.  And the plan is to base it off Gail Simone’s New 52 run with the character, which was arguably one of the better parts of that initiative that DC Comics put out.  So that seems like a recipe for success.  However, he did have a brief flirtation with a Wonder Woman movie that failed to pan out.  And there was Avengers: Age of Ultron, which featured a disappointing direction for Black Widow.  Some of that could be attributed to creative issues with the studio, but it does raise a red flag or two.  So I’m cautiously optimistic.
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