Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Now for Another Blog about Comics

Today I read something called Ball peen hammer. I judge books by their covers. It is how I find things. I so I am upset with this book because it had one ballin cover, but not a lot of stuff to back it up with. The book itself is a pretty dark meditation on art, the nature of art, and humanity. Or at least it tries to be. The problm is that the book is to short to really say anything and the author commited the cardinal sin of crowding out the artist.

Graphic Novels come in all shapes and sizes and they all utilize art to varying degrees. Some books use it very well and they really do let the pictures say the thousands of words they were dsighned to say. Sometimes the art is there bcause the graphic novelist decided that they were to lazy to write descriptive text so they hired some shmoe to do the art for them. This book however belongs to a rather tragic third category of writers who present a fantastic story in an interesting world, but then fail to use the art effectivly enough to really make the story come alive. And that is to bad because Ball Peen Hammer could be something great.

The book itself intoduces several elements that we are meant to take in quickly. Society is falling apart in this paticular part of the world. However, there is still something called the syndicate who appears to be doing just fine as they have troops, automatic weapons, and a cure for the enigmatic plague that is running around. There is an enigmatic plague. There was an underground tunnel were artists and musician hung out and it served as a bastion against the syndicate and that fell just recently. The thing is all of this is told in an expository statment with minimalistic art to back it up. What should of happened is there should of been a full page spread showing what happened, showing the last stand of the artists, and how they eventually fell.

There were a couple of other places that should of had full page spreads to them too. But that is the one that stuck out the most. It kinda had a spread showing the events but it didn't get the job done. Not nearly the way it should of been done that is for sure. Instead we are left with sparcely drawn scenes that convey little emotion. THe book itself is very sad, and it has several unusually fucked up moments in them but they don't really bring any of it home. We don't really get a sense of who these people were, so we can see what they were reduced to. Granted what they are reduced to is bad enough but getting a better image of before would of helped out greatly.

The last think about the book that got to me is that is pissed me off. See I love art. Art is one of those things that can lift up the spirit, bring comfort even though the world is ending, and inspire us to greatness. That was half of the point to castaway in case you didn't get it. I mean jesus art makes us feel. Normally, when I feel it is either because real life is doing something to me or because I am looking at art. When I read something that takes my breath away, or plunges me into a deep medative state, or even if it makes me want to cry this is amazing. All I need to do is to sit down, open myself up, and let the art go off and do its thing inside of me. As a result there was this one time where I almost vomited while watching Begotten. But no one makes you do that.

This doesn't focus on that. It doesn't focus on anything. Instead it makes artists look vain, self centered, able to spout bullshit philosphy to justify their actions and blah blah blah. These people they aren't really artists. They are the hangers on. The people who produce, then drink, and fuck thier lives away in a passionless attempt to fill a void that art would be able to fill if they just fucking paid atension. Instead, everyone just gives in, and as a result children die for no descernable reason.

I wouldn't be so upset by the last two paragraphs if the book wasn't so clumsily done. If it was done something like Nightly News, Bottomless Bellybutton, I would of been happier. Instead it is a mess of a book which has a cool cover and serivable art that fails to bring the story home or enrich it with any sort of meaning other than the stuff we could of gotten just by reading the words on the page.

If you could get the exact same meaning out of reading the script for this graphic novel, as you could by reading the final product then it is important to go back and have a few more conversations with your artist.


Poor Scott Pilgrim

Yeah so I read the first book for the second time. I did this because of 100 Bullets. I read the first volume of 100 Bullets many moons ago and I didn't like it. I'm not a fan of urban settings. I find it to be both petty and boring. There might be twinges of racism locked up in there too but that is a personal demon that I have to fight. I don't think it is racism per say, I think it is more that I have had black issues rammed down my throat far to long and I just don't see most of them. This might also be because I am a bit of a bastard. It is a tricky web of shit that basically just boils down to I don't really give a fuck and I should.

So I didn't like the first volume of 100 Bullets but it stuck with me. It stuck with me in a way that I couldn't place. I would come back to it in my head and turn it over and over again trying to figgure it out. I liked the dirty cops and the extra stuff that wasn't the main story, and slowly, ever so slowly I started to warm up to the first volume. So I grabbed volume 9 flipped through it and found the passive agressive pussy scene. 9 volumes at roughly 15 dollars apiece meant a lot of money would have to hit the table in order for me to get from point A to the passive aggressive pussy scene. Was it worth it? Have you seen the passive aggressive pussy scene? So on a whim I read book three which was another urban story and it was AMAZING. It isn't my favorite 100 bullets volume but it is most certainly up there. Then I reread the first volume loved it and a few weeks later I was reading the passive agressive pussy scene in all of its in context glory. That's a lot of glory right there.

In that grand tradition I've decided that it is high time that I reread the first volume of Scott Pilgrim. The result? Yeah pretty much the same, did not like. It's funny because I read the first volume a little over a year before it hit everyone's radar. Time magazine recommended it to me in the same article that recommended me the Kindly Ones. The Kindly Ones was in the process of becoming one of my all time favorite books and I was more than a little offended that Time was telling me about something I should of known all about. So I headed over to Barns and Noble and gave it a read. Results? The whole thing just left a sour taste in my mouth that refused to go way no matter how much I wanted to like it. It had anime style action, decent art, video game references, weird stuff I mean what more could I ask for? Yet nothing for it worked for me. I didn't like the main charecter.

I read DMZ. I like DMZ even though I stopped buying it awhile ago because of money issues but I fully intend on picking it up again. I never liked the main charecter of that book and most recently I actively hate him. No seriously, I want him to die. There is nothing he could ever do to redeem himslef up to and including suicide. THere is absolutely nothing he could ever do to make up for the crime he commited and I am a pretty open guy morally speaking. Nope. Fuck him I want him to die. But I still like DMZ.

Scott is different though. I know people like Scott, people who have never really worked at anything, tried for anything, people who just use everyone else around them up until they get what they want. Scott doesn't work, he has a room mate who basically flat out supports him, he flits about without any cares and that's cool. I like Ferris Buler's Day Off I really do. It is just that unlike Ferris Scott comes off as a grade A triple distilled wanker. I can't get past that. I'm told he gets his life together but who cares? Well everyone who likes the series presumably.

It is one of those books like Sandman. It is something I should like, something that is regularly recommended to me but it isn't something I do like. As an experiment I grazed the second book and it just failed at grabbing me in any sort of way. So we are done Scott Pilgrim I am breaking up with you for cooler hipper books like...The Goon I am dumping you for The Goon. Don't worry I am sure one of two of your other fans will make you feel less desolate and alone. Granted all you will have is just cheap thrills instead of the awesome times you would of had with me but whatever, you shouldn't of been such a cock.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Not what I am supposed to be doing

Yeah I am totally supposed to be planning Wensday's game session, or writting up gm notes from last weeks game session but, oddly enough I don't feel like it right now. I prolly will in a bit but it has been SO long since I have updated my blog last and I have quite a bit to say. So here we go for a bit. Once I settle my brain down hopefully I will be able to get somewhere in mutants and masterminds.

1) I have been playing Dwarf Fortress a lot lately. That game has gotten noticeably harder. Mostly it is because I get multiple imagrant waves before I get my first caravan. Now I am okay on food for the most part but I just crashed a fortress into the ground because I ran out of booze and I didn't notice that the stupid river froze. Stupid asshole riverm those almost never froze in a temperate environment. I am pretty happy about it though. I like the fact that this new version is providing new challanges that I need to overcome. Like I need to learn how to use a screw pump and all sorts of other things. I am not sure how to make a milirary work as a military full time. But I do love just about all of the new changes and now that I KNOW to bring all the stuff to make a well with me, and that I need to start brewing before year one things will work out much better. What I am thinking is that I will grow plum helmets one season and sweet pods another. The plump helmets will be for eating and the sweet pods for drinking. Hopefully between this will make sure that I have enough food and drink to make it though the winter.

2) I've been playing Malifaux a bunch recently and I want to play it a lot more. What I really want to start doing though is building terrian. In order to do that I am going to need space, in order to make space I am going to need storage. In order to get storage I am going to have to hit up target. This is something I will prolly look into tomorrow. At the minimum I need a folding table and several bins for things. I think I am going to start using that room which I don't open the door to, I'll begin putting all my cloths and stuff in there. That was I can make a nice work area in the kitchen for building things.

3) Man Blackest Night is an amazing series. A lot of people panned it pretty hard and I understand that. But it hits all the right buttons for me. It isn't amazing the same way Final Crisis is amazing I mean lets get that clear but it served as such a wonder space epic. I think it was a mistake to drag the rest of the DC universe into it. I can see how that could be annoying but oh well. I mean the main story is contained in three trades, then there is two volumes of side stories, and two more volumes of...man I don't even know. THe main story, that is pretty impressive though. The whole thing was a great deal of fun and I am happy it happened to me.

4) Alright well it is starting to get late and I am running low on superficial thoughts so think I am going to switch blogs, get M&M notes written up then hopefully get some ideas as to what I want to do on wensday. Zoom!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Teh Green Lantern

So I started this post awhile ago, and it didn't work out well because I was in the throws of a fever and in general things were pretty aweful.

So lets try this again shall we?

Green Lantern- Sinestro Corps War, Rage of the Red, Emerald Eclipse, Agent Orange- Essenitally, I bought the entire run up to Blackest Night. All I am missing is the sins of the Star Saphires but I am okay with that. I missed some important stuff and I'll get it eventually but nothing that is overly critical. First and foremost Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are incredibly intertwined to the point where it would be impossible to read just one book at a time. More over it means that once it is collected into trades you have no choice but to submit to a non linear reading experience. Now me? I love non liniear reading expereinces and once I gave up putting things in order and learned to love the bomb things became much better for me. Still it wouldn't kill them to take a page or two from marvel's play book.

Marvel space is one of the biggest suprise hits to come out of Marvel in the past few years. Out of nowhere a couple of people totally rebooted Marvel's space program, reintroduced all the major players who underwent massive changes and then they charged fowards with a decidedly average event that lots of people seemed to like. Then Annihilation Conquest came out that cemented the new formula. There is the main evnt book, and two satellite books, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. Now the two Satilite books are nessisary for understanding the main event they both just sort of happen off to the sideand you need them to fill in some minor gaps but it isn't SUPER necessary to read all three books. It would really help if DC adopted something like this both for the Sinestro Corps war which is a mess even in its collected format, and the lead in to Blackest night.

In fact it seems like DC got all its events backwards. Countdown to Final Crisis was an unmitigated disaster. Morrison didn't want any lead in what so ever to FC he just wanted it to happen. Darkseid caught the universe with its pants down and he nearly ended everything ever. It was awesome, but it shouldn't of had a countdown leading up to it. Whereas Blackest Night very speficially had a countdown over the course of both the green lantern books and yet... yet they didn't make any real attempt to organize it in any real way which confuses me. Now Blackest Night? Blackest Night is an event that involves the entire DC line of comics. Nothing was left untouched what so ever, and I have no idea how they managed to coordinate it or if they even bothered to. The three main books that cover the evens all came out at the same time and I'll own them in a couple of weeks but I have no idea how to read them. Ultimatly I will get a non linear experience either way but I know there is an intended order. It is just that isn't the way they are collected. Oh well.

Is it good though? Oh my yes. My my yes. I was never really very interested in the Green Lanterns. Spaaaaaaaaaaaace cops just never really got me all that excited, also that horrible fucking rhyme they say every time they charge their rings makes me want to go find the nearest poet and punch them in the face. HATRED. Yet the Sinestro corps war got such good press that I became curious. Also some of my favorite moments during the Final Crisis involved the Green Lanterns and Hal Jordan so that is how I became stuck in. It is good stuff. The strange thing though is that it isn't just Geoff that is knocking it out of the park,

Milestone missed

I just realized my 200th blog post was recently. Oh well I am not very big on things like anniversaries or things like that. There are more important things out there. Still it happened though. Yay!

So I am getting over being sick, and being depressed at the same time. When I say depressed it isn't the "something happened" sort but rather the chemical sort. So I am having trouble telling if I feel run down because I have a fever or because I feel like I'd be better off dead. But I am taking a two pronged approch to getting better...kinda. Physicaly at least I am more or less better but I still had to cancel Mutants and Masterminds tonight because I just wasn't feeling up to it for the most part. The idea of going to work then running the game feels pretty epically insurmountable at this point. Heck last night doing a little bit of prep for the game session felt insurmountable so I have no idea what would happen if I tried to run a game. Also I am pretty excited about the game session I have cooked up so that will just have to wait until next week. Bleh. Maybe I can reschedule to Friday, that would be pretty exciting since I am not leaving town.

But for the most part, over the last few days I have been spending extended amounts of time staring into space, zoning out, and trying to do something before forgetting what it is I was doing. There would be times when I would have a movie night declared and I would end up not watcing somehting until 11 because I just couldn't get myself together enough to get a movie from the box to the dvd player. Man that was a REALLY sad night. I don't like being sick. I did manage to get a few comic books read and I want to put that in its own blog post. So this one might be cut radically short. I also read a little bit about a lot of the terrorist action that is happening in Russia. Between reading about the terrorist action in Russia, the Brasque in Spain, and anything about Africa I realize that America is an exceptionally stable place, yet we have enough crime that the whole terrorism thing seems to balance out. I was unusually out of it when I read up on Russia and Spain so that is going to have to be done again because right now I am realizing just how little I understood what I read. Not due to complications mind you but because my brain didn't work.

Similiarly I really need to reread Tumor. That was such a fantastic graphic novel...I am going to write about that for a moment. Not the book itself that gets its own post but rather the price. Tumor caught my eye because it is an eye catching package. It is a black hardcover book that is slightly larger than your average paperback. The cover iteself has gold embossing on it, and the pages are made of nice thick high quality paper. The edges have that neat crickle feeling which is tres awesome. The binding isn't glue. It is that nice string binding that will last pretty much forever. This is important because I already have two trade paperbacks which need replacing because of the binding crapping out. In short the package in of itself is gorgeous it is a book that is worth owning for the pure and simple reason that it just plain old looks nice. Entranced by the book I read what was about and I knew immeadiatly that I had to own it. There are just certain things I don't have a choice about. Like I said I'll get into what's in it in another post. So I go digging for a price only to realize that it is 15 bucks. 15 bucks for a 225 page comic book. At that point I realized that we are all being taken for a ride. Your average paperback novel costs more than 15 bucks, and your hardbacks cost at least twice as much, packages as well desighed as Tumor? Costs far more than that. To compare the Agent Orange green lantern trade is 20 bucks for nearly half the page count, and the whole thing is pretty cheaply bound.

So why the money thing? First of all I find affairs concenring money to be fundamentally interesting. Unless it is how my signifigant other is spending money then I stay away from it as hard as possible because there are no arguments like money arguments. They are so very sad. ANYWAY there are lots and lots of talk about how various aspects of my hobby are falling on hard times. Local Game stores are having trouble keeping up with Amazon. Actually, they flat out can not compare to Amazon's prices end of story. For example the Blackest Night trade collection costs 30 dollars less on amazon. That is insane. Yet comic book companies are still crying about low sales and how profits being down. Roleplaying game companies are now currently enjoying more avenues of distribution than they ever had before. No seriously, being carried in every major book store is huge. Yet the hobby itself isn't undergoing any sort of rennisance because of high initial price point and lack of advirtising. I forget what rpg it is but they are charinging 75 dollars for their main rule book and then turning around to complain about low sales and piracy. No really? It is 75 fucking dollars what the hell is wrong with you people. TThe industry has compleatly lost touch with what should be its target audience middle/highschool.

Also it isn't like fantasy is being looded down upon like it was in the early/mid 90s. We have Harry fucking Porrter for christ sakes this shouldn't be that hard. Oh well it is upsetting because I care and I look at these basic mistakes and I have to wonder what the hell are people thinking? Then I see something like Tumor on the shelves and I realize that it isn't very much.

Tumor isn't published by the Big Two. Nor is it published by the small three Dark Horse, Image, IDW, it is published by a little company who is quite frankly taking a risk. The book itself started out as Kindle only and has only just recently been published. They didn't have to give it the special edition treatment but they did and I love them for it. I hope other people in the industry take notice, they need to. Well something needs to happen at any rate. I dunno alright I am moving onto comics.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shotgun under chin and GO!

It isn't that I have nothing to say. Because I do. I have lots of things I want to say. I read an article about Goldman Sachs caused a million people to starve when the comodified grain. I've been reading more of "The Origins of Totalitarianism" which is currently tracking the rise of the anti semetic movement. Right now I could use what I've read to win an argument. The argument is about African American studies and Woman's studies. There is a series of arguments that the two should combine but they both fight against it. I now have enough ammunition to win this argument. I wouldn't just use Totalitarianism, but I would also make use of an article in last month's Foreign Affairs about how china is working twords building a few world class universities and the difficulties involved in doing that. I've been wanting to write about Breaking Bad mostly to point out how dense and themeatically complicated the show is, and how amazing that it is both able to be very superficially entertaining on top of providing a dense multilayered series of thematic motifs. What's more season three actually ramps up these motifs instead of getting lazier. An example of a show that got lazier would be 6 feet under. By the end of the 4th season you get the feeling that no one knows anymore why the hands are always illuminated and they just do it because they have always done it.

I should be writting two to three diffrent letters, working on my M&M campain, or even just talking happily about Malifaux. But nope. As I was eating my meatball sub I could feel my brain grind to a halt. I didn't want to write about any of these things. In fact it didn't want to write at all. I am not sure what it wanted. Definitely not this. But I am doing it anyway. Ordinarily tonight would be a night where I go writing, but there is a special dungeon fighter event going on tonight and I want to get my two multies special titles. That will involve griiiiiiiiiiiinding but that is okay. Oddly enough grinding in that game doesn't feel like grinding it feels like you are playing a game you are actually enjoying. WWell it does to me at any rate. It is hard to not enjoy playing a priest. Last night we had three exorcists in one party and let me tell you there was so much shit going on at any given time that more than once I had to just use my ranged attack to see where the yellow numbers were popping up before hitting that area with an AOE. It was INSANE and way to much fun. We also managed to kill things so quickly that we pretty much took no damage what so ever which is retarded.

Actually I had a bunch of good moments like that last night. Like in another dungeon there is this boss, and he is an asshole. Essentially you start to wreck his face and then he goes invincible and summons a bunch of minions. These minions have 8 billion health and the main boss heals while the minions are about. So you have to kill the minions fast enough so the main boss will rejoin the fight. What happened instead is that me and a blade master managed to juggle that boss for so long that he never actually touched the ground. Because he never touched the ground he never went invincible which means he never summoned a pile of bullshit, and no one took any damage. We did that twice. Both times it was awesome. I really really like that game. I didn't mean to spend as long as I did playing it yesterday but I enjoyed myself nearly the whole time which is a big step up from WOW which I enjoyed once. Sometimes I miss city of heroes, but honestly the action is to slow paced for me to really enjoy it.

Oh so there is this comic book. Graphic novel really, and it is called Botomless Bellybutton. I've seen in on the shelfs at B&N for years now and I never really picked it up even though I wanted to. Yesterday I did, I didn't buy it because I can get it for MUCH cheaper off of amazon. But there is something about family dramas which draw me in and won't let me escape I don't know what it is. When I say much cheaper though I mean it, like I can get it for 20 with free shipping, as opposed to 40 and paying taxes. Its funny I don't know how amazon manages to do things like that but buying big comic books like marvel omnibuses, or the bone one volume edition just isn't worth getting in a normal store. It is back to that old thing. I viciously want to support tbs but good god 50 bucks will just bring me so much farther on amazon. Oh well. I should get around to making that order. I really wanna read the new volume of scalped. In fact the only reason why I haven't ordered it yet is because Shauna said she ordered it. Also I am really bad at spending money. Granted my checking account has enough money in it now that I really want to start some sort of savings account, BUT there are times I should buy things. Like the first volume of akira and some other things.

Lunch is over and I haven't really said anything important so here is me signing off.