Friday, August 31, 2012

Service with a smile

Isn't that how everyone expects to be greeted at a New Jersey restaurant?  They are the most polite state in the nation after all.

WTF 8.27-8.31


Who still cares about bigfoot?
-Matt


Is bigfoot really such a big deal still?  I mean, I guess there is not much to do out in Montana, but still, this sounds like some kind of prank that a group of friends would pull after drinking too much of their own homemade wine.  The fact that this guy died while acting like a dumbass just proves that maybe, just maybe, natural selection is coming into play.

I hear there may be an opening on the Jets.
-Matt


This lady obviously has a better arm than Tim Tebow.

Restoring a little faith in humanity
-Matt 


With all the talk about “legitimate rape” and people suing others for the dumbest things imaginable, it’s good to see someone with not only a good head on their shoulders, but also a big heart.  There are too few people in the world like you Craig Schum, you should be commended for your actions.

More quality reporting
-Matt


Hey Dominguez and Nuckols (writers of the article), while this is a senseless, terrible tragedy, including the child’s taste in music just makes it look like you are trying to place motive where there is none.  Do a better job of researching the facts and providing the relevant ones to the public or stop reporting altogether.  Fucking amateurs.

Further down the tubes
-Matt


The American society as a whole is going down the tubes and it is starting with the schools.  Give me a break.  You have to have some big brass balls when you are making a name-change request to a deaf preschooler because of something you perceive to be against policy.  His name is Hunter, not Fucker.

Stupidity is not just an American pastime!
-Matt


Really?  How bad is the educational system when you do not know the name and reputation of one of the worst people in human history?  I’m not sure I believe you Mr. Shah, especially because of your inclusion of the swastika in the logo.  I am sure that this was all a huge publicity stunt that has blown up in your face, and the fact that you now want to be compensated to change your misstep is ridiculous in its own right.  I hope everyone boycotts this store and the dumbass owner until he is forced to change the name with his own money or he just goes out of business himself.  I guess the silver lining here is that he was selling clothes and not showers.  

Too soon?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Comic Review - Ferals #8

            The first thing that I would like to mention about Ferals by David Lapham and Gabriel Andrade is that the quality of the book just in terms of the paper is something that I do not mind paying $3.99 for.  This is a hearty book printed on high quality paper, and considering that it goes for the same price as many of the comics from the “Big Two” that are printed on inferior paper, I feel like I got a bit of a bargain here.
            Oh wait, you didn’t want to hear me talk about paper quality for an entire post?  Fair enough.  On to the actual content review.




Cover:
            For a subject matter like werewolves that are obviously ground more in fantasy than reality, Andrade does a great job of making sure that everything looks as real as possible.  This starts with the cover which is a mash up of a male (I’m assuming it’s the main character) a female (which I incorrectly assumed was the female lead) and a werewolf that looks about as close to an amalgamation of man and wolf as I think I have ever seen.  The detail in the art is well done and realistic and while it does not look like the cover has much to do with the interior, it is still nicely put together with the design elements pulling you toward the naked, bloody woman at the bottom (as if you needed any help). 
            There are only a couple issues with the cover.  Everything is fairly dark except the highlights on the aforementioned naked lady.  This is fine, I get it, it’s a horror book and it would just feel out of place to color it as if it was Adventure Time.  However the dark burgundy of the logo does tend to get lost amidst the rest of the cover.  This could have been easily fixed by a lighter stroke or drop-shadow, or by the simple act of choosing a different, lighter color for the logo.  The naked woman on the cover, that I initially thought was a pertinent character, appears to be just a random individual, which makes little sense considering the number of characters they could have put in that role.  Also, just from an artistic standpoint, the woman’s head looks a little on the large side.  It may be the angle that she is reclined at but it just seems off a bit, and only a little bit at most.

7/10 – A decent illustration but not necessarily a great cover.

Story:
            For someone that got their start with Jim Shooter, Lapham definitely deviates from some of the basics of story that Shooter adhered to and mandated during his run as big cheese at Marvel/Valiant/Defiant.  The main problem was the fact that Lapham obviously assumed that anyone that was going to pick up issue eight of the series was also going to pick up the previous seven issues.  Something as simple as the names of the main male and female characters is not readily available to us as readers.  Names are also thrown around that may have some kind of significance if the previous seven issues have been read, but without any context they mean absolutely nothing to me.  Am I supposed to care what the woman (who we do not learn the name of until five pages from the end) is doing?  Or the man for that matter.  I am not given a reason to give a shit about any of these characters. 
The art is nice but this may be the most confused I have ever been while reading a comic

            The opening scene feels like it would belong great in a movie as we close up on what I can only assume is a guy that is turning into a werewolf on the run and he is chasing down a woman that looks a lot like the main female character, and then we cut to her getting bent over a kitchen counter by the male protagonist.  Was that first part a dream?  Was it not her but just someone that looked like her (on purpose or on accident)?
            Of course then we are treated to this gem of an exchange of dialogue:
           
“I’m going out”
            “When will you be back?”
            “When I’m back.  Unless they kill me.  Then never.  What are you going to do?”
            “I might go to the market.”

            Yup.  That just happened.  I almost put the book down right there but since it was only the fifth page I figured I might as well get my money’s worth. 
            Now don’t get me wrong, Lapham does some good things here too.  The scene where the female protagonist is assaulted in the parking lot because she looks like a woman’s husband’s mistress and is only cleared of those charges because the woman does not smell her husband on her (it’s weird and complicated, I know) raises the question of who the actual animals are.  It’s by no means subtle, but it is effective.  When the main male protagonist is forced to hunt, virtually naked, out in the wilderness by two men at gunpoint (no idea why) he comes into contact with the real hunters, the werewolves and the reveal of a bus of decapitated schoolchildren, that was referenced earlier in the story does a decent job of tying up that plotline. 

3/10 – There are just too many what the fuck/who the fuck moments to outweigh any good moments that are plopped here and there in the book.  Yet another example of a book that would probably be better when it gets collected into a trade paperback.

Art:
            All of the positives about the cover apply to the interiors as well.  Andrade does a great job of illustrating a normal, rather mundane environment (for about ¾ of the book at least).  He obviously excels when allowed to cut loose and draw the werewolves but the small things, the detailed backgrounds, the realism that he brings to the characters, is what I enjoy most about his work on this issue.  Sure there are a couple things here and there that look a little off, an anatomy headscratcher here and there, but he does so well in illustrating multiple environments and situations that I can definitely give him a pass on a small snafu here and there. 
            The way that the violence is handled is actually very well done and understated, even though there is a school bus full of decapitated children it does not feel as over the top as it probably could have been.  That restraint actually makes me enjoy the art more.  It proves to me that Andrade is working on telling the story instead of just drawing cool pictures to shock the readers.   It must also be stated that while the coloring, by Digikore Studios does little to evoke any kind of mood, it is successful in that it does not oversaturate the page and works very well with the lineart, both providing a clean, clear reading experience.

I love how Andrade sets the story without much dialogue or exposition.  Well done.

And then to the forest which he is able to draw with just as much effectiveness.

And back to a more civilized setting.  It should be noted that this page (about 5 away from the end, is when we first learn the blond's name).

School bus of death!  

9/10 – Really solid artwork from all parties involved.  The last page does a great job of filling the reader with a sense of dread (though the back tattoo on the male protagonist is lame).

Overall – 5/10: The story is good but the writing is terrible (that makes sense right?) and it is only saved from the trash heap by stellar artwork.  I may pick this up in trade based on the art, and the fact that, well, who doesn’t like a good werewolf story.  I just may steer clear of actually reading the dialogue though. 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Thank you post

I just want to give a quick Thank You to my brother (and editor) Nik, who still finds time to tell me everything that I am doing wrong when it comes to writing even through his hectic and crazy schedule.  While he does not have anything of his own to plug at the moment, please check out the link to the right as his wife Raven is developing a webcomic of her own.  I have seen the sketches and heard the pitch, it's going to be a lot of fun!  Thanks again!

The Curious Case of Rob Liefeld

-Matt Magill


            I was a child at one point (the farther I get from that point, the harder it is to believe).  At that time, comic books were the most important thing to me.  They were what I wanted to read (I remember being asked to put away a copy of Uncanny X-Men during a scholastic required reading period because it was not legitimate reading material) and they were what I wanted to do with my life.  This was in the much-maligned 1990s which, as many of us know, was the heyday of variant covers, chromium foil and trading card inserts.  This was the time of hundreds of comic books, most with marginally talented creators, all being pumped out as fast as they could.  One of the individuals that is most closely associated with this time period (and all of the negatives that come with it) is Rob Liefeld.
            Now, I have not always been kind to Rob in the past (as you can see by my review of Youngblood) but I will readily admit that I was caught up in the ‘90’s comic firestorm and found myself rooting for, and even actively participating in, his Heroes Reborn relaunch.  I had always been a Captain America fan, so when it started over at issue one under the Heroes Reborn tag, I scooped that up like it was going out of style.  Of course that only lasted thirteen issues (and Rob’s involvement only lasted six) and was hastily relaunched with a new number one under the Heroes Return banner, to which I promptly said “screw this, I’m not playing your game anymore Marvel.”  While the comics that Rob produced, and continues to produce to this day, are not technical blueprints of artistic prowess, you can tell his love and devotion to the craft with every page.
            It is amazing to see not only the speed that Rob works, considering how many irons he has in the fire, but this is compounded by the fact that he writes as well.  He is not just a one trick pony that companies like Marvel and, most recently DC, trot out to increase sales on books that he had a big hand in in the past (Cable/Deadpool for Marvel, Hawk & Dove for DC).  Regardless of how he is perceived around the industry, the fact that, at the recent conclusion of his time at DC Comics, he was writing three books and penciling one of them is a testament to not only his work ethic, but also his love for the profession. Keep in mind that while he was working on the DC comics and heavily involved in “corporate comics,” he was also overseeing the Extreme studios properties (maybe not as closely as he would want to, but I am sure he kept an eye on things at the very least) so his plate was overflowing with work (and these are only the things that I know about, there were most likely more).
            Anyone that follows Rob on Twitter (which I highly recommend) or reads the comic news sites knows that his recent split with DC, while amicable up to a point, was not without due cause.  The simple fact that Rob’s reasons for leaving echoed those of another legendary creator, George Perez (even though he is still on World’s Finest, he did leave the Superman title) would indicate to me that something is inherently wrong with DC itself.  If one guy, even someone as credible as Perez, says something, it may be dismissed by the bigwigs at DC as a misunderstanding, or sour grapes, or something along those lines.  When two or more creators echo the same sentiment (and it’s not just Liefeld and Perez, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell and John Rozum had similar issues as well), well, where there’s smoke, there’s fire as the old saying goes.  That is a story for another time though, but if you want a one-sided but fairly non-confrontational account of editorial prick-waving just follow Rob on Twitter.
            What this really speaks to is where Rob is as a creator.  He is a guy that was brought in at the onset of the “New 52” and has been a mainstay on one title or another for the entire run of the relaunch up to this point.  Regardless of how derided he is in the comics media and by people that want their art to be less stylized, the dude obviously still sells a shit-ton of books.  The fact that he was in charge of writing three books also proves that he is not just a monkey with a pencil but a guy that is really trying to make a positive mark on the industry.  Now I have not read his recent DC stuff (it’s not you, Rob, it’s me, I don’t read any “Big Two” if it makes you feel better) but maybe his future is more as a writer than it is as an artist.  We all know he loves to draw, and it is pretty evident by his work ethic that he is obviously not just in it for a paycheck. 
Maybe it would be best if he put on his writer’s hat though, and tried his hand at world-creating on his own terms.  This would be a return to what really allowed him to blow up in popularity during the germination of the Image years.  There is one distinct difference here though, Rob is now twenty years older, wiser and hopefully better at his job than he was during those days.  While the wow factor that he (and everyone at Image in those days, for that matter) produced may be less than it was back then, the overall quality of the books will undoubtedly be better.  He could easily hire a bunch of creators to work with him and start up a couple new titles under his Extreme Studios banner (hell, I would work for him in a heartbeat - you can take that as my official job application Rob).  With the success of his recently relaunched group of books (Prophet, Youngblood, Glory and Supreme), as well as his obviously relatively successful run at DC, he may have the fan support to just go nuts.  Anything that is not associated with the Big Two comic companies is gaining more and more traction in today’s markets and this may be a perfect time to jump back into the role of world creating on his own terms.  While having an editor for the line would obviously be beneficial, it would have to be a real editor and not someone like he had at DC that basically (if I am interpreting things correctly) came in and thought that he could command and demand at will.   While this may be okay for some people (and it obviously is, considering the fact that there are still people employed at DC and no one has burned the place to the ground yet), for someone that is obviously bursting with ideas and is as involved in as many books as Rob is, I can only imagine the frustration.  This is only compounded by the fact that his workload at DC before his departure was far more than probably anyone else, save maybe Geoff Johns.
             Regardless, Rob if I could speak to you mano-a-mano, it’s time to stop being everyone else’s publicity stunt.  You are obviously capable of doing your own thing and by juggling the multiple titles combined with the various demands of the recent year or so at DC, you have undoubtedly made yourself a better writer.  It’s time to put that to good use and beat the other companies at their own game.  While I am not necessarily the biggest fan of Rob Liefeld the artist, I am definitely a huge fan of Rob Liefeld the person and comic book icon and wish you nothing but the best

Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be Red Sox fans

-Matt Magill


            My son will be five in a couple weeks, and in his short time on this earth he has developed an undying love for only a few things.  In no particular order those things are:  giant chocolate chip cookies (not those rinky-dink Chips Ahoy ones), superheroes of every size, shape and allegiance, and the Boston Red Sox.  He even has a favorite player, center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (though it may be because he likes to say the name Jacoby, I’m not sure).  Regardless, no matter the sport that we are watching or the teams that are playing, he always answers the question “who do you want to win” with “the Red Sox” (he always emphasizes the Sox part, my kid is adorable).  Many friends and family have tried to get him to change his mind, to root for the Yankees (shudder), but if nothing else, I have at least done my duty as his father and steered him away from that.  I get worried though, because I know that he is in for disappointment, major disappointment, if the last few years of Red Sox baseball are any indication; as his father it is my duty to limit his unhappiness. 
            This is obviously the nature of sports fandom though, right?  Regardless of the sport, there can only be one winner surrounded by a multitude of losers (and don’t give me any of that “we’re all winners” bullshit, tell that to a Kansas City Royals fan).  So I should just tell him to suck it up and love the Sox through the good and the bad, regardless of how much they test your fandom, right?  The last thing that I want is for my child to become the blubbering mess that you see plastered all over the internet by irresponsible parents every time a superstar leaves their team (though coincidentally no one cried over Dwight Howard, which I guess proves that his time in Orlando had come and gone).  While it may be funny for me to see this play out next year when Ellsbury leaves (whether at the trading deadline or via free agency), it is not right to put him through this. 
I have not been a Sox fan for my entire life.  Hell, I wasn’t really a baseball fan until I got to college, but I can tell you that the jettisoning of Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox earlier this year was a dark day.  He was my favorite player on that team, and while I did not find myself blubbering like that little girl in Phoenix after Steve Nash split to chase a ring, I felt a twinge of sadness that the era of the Greek God of Walks was over.  Now I am forced to be a fan of the White Sox so I can keep track of Youk’s progress.
            The thing is, going through this first-hand this year at the age of twenty-nine, I don’t want to have to explain to my five year old child when I am inevitably asked “Where’s Jacoby?” that he now plays in Washington, or San Francisco.  That would break his heart that his favorite player left his favorite team.  Yes, he’ll be five when this all goes down, he’ll get over it, he will most likely find another favorite player (though if he says John Lackey he will be in timeout for the rest of the season) and he will move on.  But this is the Red Sox.  His disappointment will be revisited time and again as his favorite players are shipped out, or opt not to return because the management has its head up its ass and the media can’t help but fuel fires of speculation and dread in the locker room. 
            A case in point is the happenings of this last weekend and the trade to end all trades that shocked the baseball world.  I don’t think anyone would have seen that trade coming, well maybe they could have seen it coming, but to see the follow through?  Seriously?  Sure, they wanted to dump Beckett (and I have been a Beckett apologist for years but even I could see the writing on the wall) and yes they wanted that Albatross of Crawford’s contract off their books, but to trade Gonzalez to do it?  This is a guy that we moved mountains to acquire and now, after two years they are just tossing him away in order to shed payroll, as if we were the Oakland Athletics or something.  Not only did they give up top prospects to acquire Gonzalez from the Padres, but they also moved Youkilis to third (after failing to re-sign Adrian Beltre who is arguably the best third baseman in the game right now, and someone that could have been an anchor in the lineup for years to come), and then dumped him when a better option came along (who is now injured, Karma’s a bitch).  I know, Youk was getting old and he was injured and inconsistent and didn’t like Valentine, blah blah blah.  But to upset the apple cart for someone that you are not going to stick with, regardless of the financial flexibility they may now have is ridiculous for a franchise that has prided itself (in the past fifteen years or so at least) in doing what they have to do to be in contention at the end of the season.  Will this get them back in contention?  Not this year, and not with this manager.  What is far more likely is that they are two to three years away from being anything more than a laughing-stock.  That’s two to three more years out of the already solid-to-great careers of Pedroia, Bucholz and Lester (if they don’t trade them too).  I’m not even counting Ellsbury because while the Sox will now have the money to sign him, no doubt, why would he want to come back?  This is not even accounting for the fact that if they manage to sign Ortiz for the next three years, that he will be toiling in mediocrity in the twilight of his career, which is not the way he should go out after all he has given to/done for this franchise.  In three years time, this franchise will look very different and not necessarily for the better. 
The desire not to return to a team full of dysfunction and malcontents must ring doubly true after seeing the less than harmonious exits of former teammates.  One of the most beloved people maybe in the history of the Red Sox (especially in the managerial ranks), Terry Francona, was lambasted throughout the media because the team failed to perform down the stretch last year.  That same hands-off style that brought two championships to the downtrodden franchise was crucified by the management and the media with supposed leaks of marital problems and prescription drug woes fueling the collapse.  Considering the fact that, even under possible stress and narcotic influences, Francona was and is a better manager than that joker they brought in this year.
            So not only do I have to worry about my son hearing about his favorite player’s hasty exit, but I also have to field questions like “Daddy, what was Jacoby doing with his dick in that donkey?” after the owners get done smearing Ellsbury in the media.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t plan on having the bestiality talk with my child until he is at least nine. 
            So what is the plan of action?  Do I stop exposing him to the debacle that is the Red Sox and hope that he gravitates toward another team?  Do we just follow Ellsbury to whichever team he winds up on next year (except if it’s the Yankees, I have to draw the line somewhere)?  Do I lead him towards activities that will lead to less heartache, like goldfish cultivating or loving a Kardashian?  Or do I just let him go and help pick up the pieces of the inevitable 80-plus years of heartache that are sure to follow?  He deserves better.  Hell, we all deserve better.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Barbecue Sauce

Yup, that response is pretty much par for the course when speaking to Wormy.  And if I was to ever cook a rat, I would definitely do it over a spit.

Friday, August 24, 2012

WTF 8.20-8.24

I almost forgot this week's edition of What The Friday.  Don't you feel lucky I remembered?


What a pain in the ass
-Matt


So let me get this straight, you did something of your own free will, got injured, and now you want someone else to pay for it?  So if I go to a playground, jump off the top of the slide and break my leg I can sue the school because they did not post a sign saying that the height of the slide may cause me to injure myself if I jump from it?  Lady, go fuck yourself.  You got third degree burns from sitting on the bench.  Third degree!  You don’t get that from a quick sit and get up routine.  You must have sat there for long enough, even though you could tell that it was hot, in order to get those injuries.  Let me say this again; lady, go fuck yourself.

What the hell?
-Matt


So, saying the word hell is the worst offense?  It’s not like she told the principal to go fuck himself.  If nothing else, this just proves that nothing good comes from the Twilight books.  Oh, and Kaitlin, the diploma is just a piece of paper.  Stand up for your principles and deny those puritanical tyrants at your school the satisfaction of seeing an apology.  You will thank yourself later.

Yay, Republicans!
-Matt


There is no such thing as “legitimate” rape.  Rape is rape.  There is such a thing as a legitimate douche though, and you sir, are it.

Without honor
-Matt


Wow.  A fucking samurai sword!?  Sure it’s terrible that a crime was committed but he did it with a samurai sword.  Big kudos to the guy that tried to stop it and was cut on the face.  That is a story to tell the kids.  “I got this scar from a samurai sword.”  You can tell that the criminal was not an actual samurai though, there is no honor in robbing a gas station.  Samurais go bank or bust.

Sometimes suicide is the answer
-Matt


That’s right, this guy carried on a four year ruse with the now sixteen year old girl.  For those of you that are math challenged (sorry Mississippi) that puts her at twelve when this started.  It said that McBain turned himself in after recovering from a suicide attempt.  Part of me, ok all of me, wishes that guy had at least done one thing right in his miserable life and ended it.

Ah, religion, you make me laugh, and cry a little
-Matt


Religious extremism in any form is fucking stupid.  Way to feed the stereotype Pakistan.  If I hear one more person, Muslim or otherwise, claim that their religion is not built on violence I will shit myself laughing.  Most every religion is inherently built on violence and intolerance, and if you say that that is just a minority in each religion, you are fucking wrong.  This is a whole country that basically wants to execute an eleven year old girl, and they probably would have already if it wasn’t for the fact that the US would have cut off their aid.  Every time I hear shit like this it reaffirms my belief that organized religion is bullshit and that if there was a God, he would have killed us all by now for being such dumbasses.

Why is this news?
-Matt


So this kid committed a crime and was given a fitting sentence, and I am supposed to feel sorry for him because he could have been a good basketball player?  Fuck you Jeff Eisenberg and Yahoo Sports.  You are the reason that the thug culture that has invaded sports is tolerated.  He was punished for committing a crime.  Good, he should be.  It is ridiculous that this is even an issue, let alone something that should be on Yahoo’s front page.  

Rats for Breakfast

Something tells me they don't leave the whiskers on when rats are actually cooked and eaten, of course you probably don't eat a rat like a corndog either, so there's that.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Comic Review - The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #1


            As a result of my self-imposed exile from all things “Big Two” in comic books, I readily acknowledge that I am missing out on some great creators.  I would love to pick up any work by Chris Bachalo, one of my favorite artists for many many years, but alas that would go against everything that I am standing for.  Luckily, writers are able to produce more comics on a monthly basis, and if we are lucky, for various companies.  I was in luck this week that I was able to pick up a comic from Mark Waid (with art by Chris Samnee).  I have heard many good things about his run on Daredevil and picked up The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom hoping that some of that magic rubbed off on this pulp hero.
            Like many people, my only real recollection of The Rocketeer is from the movie that came out in 1991.  This is a pretty good starting point though, and really all you need to know is that a guy has a jet pack and tries to help people while using it.  And he has a cool mask (seriously, that mask may be the most iconic part of the whole thing), and the story is set in the ‘40’s.  With that in mind, on to the review!


Cover:
            Samnee did the cover (the one I picked up anyway, it’s an IDW book so that means that there were way more covers than there needed to be), which is nice to see, and it is a decent cover to boot.  The coloring by the usually phenomenal Dave Stewart is a little too brown all the way through (which is fine considering the fact that The Rocketeer’s “costume” is all brown), but the option was there to make the sky a different color, and Stewart didn’t take it.  I have a feeling that putting The Rocketeer and the planes against either a light blue or even a cloudy, overcast sky would have helped them pop even more.  That being said, the linework is well done, and the planes are obviously well referenced by Samnee.  Having everything on the cover at slight angles instead of just a flat, straight on pose helps with the movement on the cover as well.  I am not a huge fan of the use of speed lines but they seem to help in this instance.
            This is a number one issue so the cover is a bit generic (The Rocketeer is never chased by planes in the comic itself) but there is no doubt in my mind that it is something that could happen, and at least it’s not some “iconic” pose of him just standing around. 
            I like the logo but it is hurt by the fact that it is basically the same color as everything else.  This is another instance where a different colored sky would have helped.  Luckily The Rocketeer himself is iconic enough of a figure that we would know the comic without seeing a title anyway.  Kind of like Batman.  No one looks at a Batman book and says “oh, this must be the new issue of My Little Pony” (though I would love to see that cross-over and it would probably cause all the “bronies” out there to mess there pants).

7/10 – The art is good but it is hurt by a simple color choice.  This would easily be an 8 or 9 for the cover if the sky was not brown.  It’s a shame.

Story:
            The story opens on Sally (the girl that has a crush on The Rocketeer’s alter ego, Cliff Secord) flying her small plane and trying to pass an inspection by a government official.  The government official has a different idea on how Sally could pass her test (one that most likely involves a lucha libre mask and maple syrup I’m sure) and Sally wants nothing of it.  Now here is the first instance of “what the fuck” for me.  This is a small plane in the 1940s, so the thought that there is an autopilot function is probably a pipe dream.  Not only that, but the way Samnee draws her, Sally might be eighteen or nineteen.  Even if she was wiling, what does this guy expect to happen?  I have never flown a plane, but I bet it is not too easy to do with a dick in your mouth, much less anything else this guy has in mind.  They are surely heading for a plane crash then.  And you know what happens when someone is faced with certain death?  They bite down.  Yup, say good bye to your prick Mr. Government Official.  Because you wanted poor adolescent Sally to go down, now the whole plane is, in a fiery crash probably with you writhing on the floor clutching the bloody stump where your pecker used to be.
            Ok, that was just the first few pages and I already do not like where this is going.  However because of Mr. McFeely, we get introduced to The Rocketeer in a heroic way (which kind of reminds me of Superman Returns a little, and really, is bringing up images of that abortion of a movie a good thing?) as he saves the plane from crashing after a stray parachute gets trapped in the propeller.  It was a decent intro to the character but a little hard to believe that mild-mannered mechanic Cliff Secord had enough time to put on his entire costume (there are a shit load of buttons on that thing) and fly up to save the plane without it plummeting to earth.  How high up was that plane? 
            Once the plane and its occupants are safe, we switch to a ship on the ocean with a crew discussing, what I can assume is the “Cargo of Doom” referenced in the title.  They are also talking about one of the crew members that was subjected to brain surgery and turned into something strange and probably quite creepy.  I don’t know, everything is cryptic and shrouded in mystery with just enough details to get you to wonder what the fuck everyone is talking about, but not enough for me to care.  And this goes on throughout the whole book!  Just a lot of foreshadowing, yet no reason why we should care about the foreshadowing itself. 
            We then go back to the plane hanger where Mr. McFeely the government official tells Secord that he cannot fly until he pays some fees that he owes (but obviously does not have the money to pay).  In response to this he cleans Mr. McFeely’s clock.  Probably not the best course of action, but ok, he is a “superhero” so maybe he is used to doing this to solve a problem (keep that in mind).  We are next introduced to Secord’s girlfriend who is named Betty, inspired by Bettie Page, and looks a bit like Betty from the Archie universe as well.  Oh and she is a royal bitch.  She was stood up by Secord at a restaurant (you know, while he was out saving lives) but isn’t mad because a whole bunch of guys hit on her while she was there ‘eating bread and water like she was in Alcatraz’.  She must be great in the sack if Secord has put up with that shit for so long, because this girl is a terrible person. 
            Then we cut back to the ship as it is docking in Los Angeles, and we only know this because someone says it, not because there is any imagery of Los Angeles itself except what looks like a nondescript clock tower.  And we get more foreshadowing.
            Now we’re back at the plane hanger and The Rocketeer, all suited up, is going out to find Sally who has disappeared after the run in with Mr. McFeely.  He finds her standing on the roof of one of the hangers and promptly tells her not to jump, which she wasn’t gong to do anyway.  It just seems like an awkward exchange and it apparently never crosses Secord’s mind that she could be up there for the quiet and solitude instead of the suicide potential.  Secord/The Rocketeer then talks to Sally about her boy troubles (a typical superhero/dual identity thing that has been done to death) and Sally opens up about the incident in the plane with McFeely.  The end of the page is a close up on The Rocketeer’s mask with him saying “what?” as if he does not believe what he is hearing, which is understandable and probably the same reaction we would all have in that scenario.  At this point I truly thought the next page would be The Rocketeer busting into McFeely’s home and knocking him out again, or grabbing him and flying him up into the sky to scare him straight.  So what happens next?  We cut back to the hanger and Secord is telling everyone how he is going to tattle on McFeely.  That’s it.  The same guy that knocked McFeely out because he was told that he owed money is going to tattle on him because he was trying to sexually assault a friend of his.  Really?  That’s it?  If this comic had not lost me before now, I was definitely off the train at this point.  We then get more bitchy Betty who drags Secord outside and proceeds to ream him out for being nice to Sally, which he puts a halt to by kissing her while someone in the shadows watches.  Who is watching?  Is it Sally, or the crazy guy from the boat?  I think the more important question is “Why do I give a shit at this point?”  The one really heroic thing that he could have done this issue, he failed to do, so why would I care what happens to this guy? 

2/10 – I thought Waid was supposed to be one of the top talents in the industry today.  Maybe he is and he just mailed this one in.  Regardless, this issue does nothing to make me want to come back and read the next one.

I know how you feel, Rocketeer, I often found myself asking the same question.

Art:
            Samnee does an admirable job on the art, especially since the script is sub-par.  My favorite part about Samnee’s work is the movement and the emotion that he puts in every panel.  Even subtle looks from the characters tell more of the story and give more of a clue than the text does in this issue.  The coloring on the interiors by Jordie Bellaire are really well done too.  Each scene is separated by a different color palette that really helps to break up the story and force the reader to acknowledge that they are entering a different setting.  Bellaire does a phenomenal job of working in conjunction with Samnee to help set the mood in each individual scene, and I like that the coloring here has less of an airbrushed feel to it than most comics nowadays do.  Everything about the art in this book works well to transport us back to 1940 and fill the reader with a sense of nostalgia.
            I didn’t even see too many glaring issues with the art so a big kudos to Samnee and Bellaire for their work here.

It took me a second to realize that this panel is designed to look like the eye-holes in The Rocketeer's helmet.  Nice touch.

Your iconic hero shot of the month!

The faces in this panel say everything.  love the acting here.

A perfect example of the colorist and the line-artist working in harmony to project a mood.  One of the best panels in the book.

Yet another great example of acting from the character.  Samnee is incredible at this, even with just a few lines like we see in McFeely and Secord in the background.

I would have made the sash in Betty's middle a different color.  It currently looks like her waist is way to small to be humanly possible.

This is the only visual clue that we are in Los Angeles (not really much of a clue).  Only real art fail in the book though.

8/10 – The art is very good and Samnee does a great job with a poor script.

Overall: 4/10 – I would love to recommend this on the strength of the art alone but the story had more holes than my socks and it was not a fun read.  If you are a fan of Samnee specifically, or just great non-superhero art in general I would suggest it, otherwise find something else that Samnee has done and enjoy his art that way. 



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Food?

First things first, I would like to thank Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool (http://www.bleedingcool.com/) for running my Joe Kubert essay and strip from last week.  It has already produced a positive result for the site and I appreciate the opportunity that he provided.  For those of you that are new to the site, welcome!  Take some time to look through the other posts and familiarize yourself with this gang of misfits.  Don't worry, I'll be waiting here when you get back.  If you have time or the inclination, drop me a comment on what you would like to see reviewed on this site, or any other praise/criticism for that matter.
Thanks again!
Apparently rats are quite tasty (so says the Discovery Channel) but those were wild rats that ate grains and plants in Asia, not Jersey rats that ate garbage, so I don't anticipate this being too much of a delicacy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Def Leppard is still doing what they do


-Matt Magill

            I think that the mantra for last Friday night had to be consistency.  That is the best way to describe the bands that played (I didn’t get to the show in time to see Lita Ford, anyone have a review on the opener?  Drop me a comment and let me know how she did).  Poison and Def Leppard have been around for a long time and this is not my first time seeing either band so I do have a baseline to go from for each. 
            Let’s start with Poison as they played first (an abbreviated hour long set that hit on the major hits of the group but still was able to throw in a decent guitar solo by CC and an uninspired drum solo that was sandwiched by a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”).  It’s pretty sad when the cover is the highlight of the performance, but I think that is only because of the fact that I have seen Poison so many times (they always seem to be opening for the band that I want to see) and their performances are so consistent to the point of being robotic now.  This is not to say that Bret Michaels is any less energetic and appreciative than he was when I first saw them open for KISS back in ’04 (or ’05 I can’t remember), but there are only so many times that you can hear any of Poison’s catalogue of songs without hoping for something different to spice things up.  I think that is why I enjoyed the “Moby Dick”/drum solo interlude so much, because I had never heard it from the band before so it broke up the familiarity of the set.
            The musicianship was good except for Rikki Rocket on drums as he seemed to be more going through the motions than anything else.  Whereas Michaels really seemed to be feeding off of the energy that the crowd gave back to him (and there was quite the energy in the crowd as everyone knew every word to the songs that were played, especially since the band only played the hits) Rocket’s performance was not on par with the rest of the band.  That was the only real blip on the radar as the rest of the performance was solid.  Not spectacular but definitely not a bad concert.  The sound quality was better than Iron Maiden which proves to me that not all bands from the ‘80’s subscribe to the “turn everything up as loud as it will go and hope for the best” mantra.
            Aside from the drumming, the main problem I had with that performance (and this has nothing to do with the band itself) is just the simple act of seeing someone old enough to be my mother (or pretty close to it) singing “Talk dirty to me,” it just kind of creeps me out.  That being said, there were plenty of women at this show both young and old, so eye candy was not hard to come by.
            Now on to the headliners: Def Leppard.  I had not seen Def Leppard for nearly a decade (’02 or ’03 at the New York State Fair, and to be honest, this was before I was allergic to beer and I looked a lot older than my nineteen years of age.  I’ll let you do the math.)  A lot of what I remember from that show was obviously the hits as well as playing all of “side one” of the High and Dry album (remember when you used to have to flip over the record/cassette, damn I’m getting old).  Other than that (and the fact that our seats were way too expensive for the distance from the stage and being stuck right behind a support beam) nothing stood out as terrible about the performance.  I was able to go into this performance without the overindulgence of alcohol that dulled my senses the last time (not that I didn’t pregame in the parking lot with my “brother” [we’ve been best buds for twenty-five years, that’s pretty much brother status in my book] Donnie, we just didn’t down a whole bottle).  The performance started out ok, with the band playing their newest single “Undefeated” from the Mirrorball live disc.  It took the band a couple songs to get the sound quality up to par but at least the techs were tweaking it to get the best possible results unlike other concerts I have seen recently, cough-Maiden-cough.  By about the third song they were on a roll and the only other sound issues they had all night were after a break in the action whereupon we would be treated to a guitar/drum solo.  It would then take half a song to get the sound back to a cohesive unit. 
            The band, even after over thirty years in the business, is as tight as ever and each song of the set was studio quality.  The only real complaint, and this is a minor one, is that age has not treated the voices of any of the band members kindly.  Lead singer Joe Elliott is no longer able to hit the high notes that he has in the past and the rest of the band sounded slightly off key on their harmonies, just enough to make it noticeable.  To be perfectly honest it was not a big deal though, and really, Elliott could probably have taken the night off completely as the crowd sang every word to every song with as much volume and enthusiasm as if they had written the songs themselves.  Elliott worked with this as much as possible, especially when he was faced with the aforementioned high notes (such as in the chorus to “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”) letting the crowd take those parts of the songs. 
            Other than that minor gripe, and really it’s something that can be said for pretty much every aging singer (with the exception of maybe Paul Stanley and Bruce Dickinson) the concert was great.  My favorite part of the night though was the brief acoustic medley.  It started with Elliott seated on what looked to be a crate the roadies use to haul equipment in with his acoustic guitar, strumming and singing the Rolling Stones’ “You can’t always get what you want”.  Now I don’t have a million dollars, so that is probably as close to a Rolling Stones concert as I am ever going to get and it was a good cover.  As he was playing that, other members of the band came out, all with acoustic guitars (except drummer Rick Allen who emerged with maracas) and they all sat on the crate next to Elliott, almost campfire “Kumbaya” style.  They then went through a medley of some of their softer hits.  While this did not get the same rise out of the crowd that the more energetic parts of the performance did, I enjoyed it more for its subtlety, intimacy and focus on the musicianship of the band.  The night closed with a one song encore (really?  Just one song?) of “Rock of Ages” which I guess is pretty appropriate considering that this was the Rock of Ages Tour, undoubtedly to piggyback on the movie of the same name. 
            Overall, this was a solid show from both bands.  There was nothing mind-blowingly spectacular, but there was also nothing about either performance that made me want my money back or desire to split early to beat the traffic.  If you get the chance, and you enjoy 80’s metal in the least bit, I would definitely suggest catching a Def Leppard show.  The crowd skews a little older but most people are around my age so that was definitely not a hindrance.  There was plenty of eye candy and only a few giant douches (which seemed to be way too close to Donnie and me for comfort).  But the general atmosphere of the show was great and only got better once the band really got going.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Search for Fire

They always make such a big deal about being able to make fire on Survivor, It would definitely be easier to manage that if you have car bombings and general mayhem surrounding your "campsite".

Friday, August 17, 2012

Search For Water

Following the advice of Wednesday's strip, it is back to work for Eat @ Shrimpy's.
If I remember correctly this was the first joke I wrote for the "Survive-It" story.  It reminds me of a Kubert school anecdote that I was told in my first year about a prank that involved an individual ingesting what he thought was Mountain Dew (it was in a Mountain Dew bottle).  I'll let you put two and two together on that one.

WTF 8.13-8.17


Worst. Excuse. Ever
-Matt


“I did not kill him on purpose”  Yup.  You read that correctly.  She stabbed her fiancĂ© twice with a kitchen knife but didn’t kill him on purpose.  Damn.  Just another reason why marriage is probably a bad idea.

Smooth Criminal
-Matt


Really?  You are going to commit a crime, but still make sure that you are getting your Toys ‘R Us rewards points.  Real smooth, dummy.

Another example of the American spirit hard at work
-Matt


I am the last person on earth that would ever stick up for anything Disney, but give me a break.  You go for two years before you request to wear a traditional religious garment?  You were ridiculed for two years (since you started working there) and then decided it would be a good idea to wear the headscarf?  I am not saying you had no right to do so, but you can’t not wear it from the get-go and then expect to be allowed to years later.  It is similar to someone that knows Disney’s “no tattoo” policy and abides by it for two years before getting a very visible picture of Mickey giving Donald a blowjob.  It sounds to me, and hopefully to the judge as well, like you were fishing for a reason to get fired, or a reason to sue.  God bless America.

Umpires don’t believe in friendship – it’s official
-Matt


As if we needed more reasons to dislike baseball higher ups and umpires.  What a bunch of crap.  Making RA Dickey remove the friendship bracelets his daughters made for him because it violates some archaic uniform code is such bullshit.

Cry me a black and blue river
-Matt


Dear Rhianna,
Being concerned about the guy that beat you up after he did so does not make you a sympathetic figure, no matter how much you cry.  It makes you a dumbass and a stereotype.
Sincerely,
Everyone with half a brain.

Really?  Thanks for thinking of me NFL.
-Matt

No link for this one, but it is the epitome of WTF:  I just received an email from the NFL, offering me the opportunity to watch every preseason game (it is already the second week of preseason football) for a mere $15.  For those of you that are not well versed in professional football, preseason games are the worst.  The people that you would actually pay to see are out there for a miniscule amount of time and you are stuck watching a cheap imitation of a football team.  Think of it in music terms; would you pay money to watch a cover band of (insert favorite band here) or would you wait three weeks and watch your actual favorite band.  And you want me to pay you money for this?  Nice, NFL, real nice.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Comic Review - Battle Beasts #2


            Aside from a little bit of hype upon the announcement of the series (basically to hit us all in the nostalgia bone-which is somewhere between the funny bone and the Fone Bone) I have not heard much being said about the Battle Beasts four issue limited series by Bobby Gurnow and Valerio Schiti.  Issue two dropped this week, and someone needs to take notice.  Like I said in the very brief synopsis of issue one, I was not expecting much when I picked it up, basically just a “oh yeah I remember the Battle Beasts” kind of moment.  What I got instead was a comic that was not only very well drawn, but succeeded in building a story that gave a reason and a purpose to the conflict inherent in the very name of the series (and subsequent toy release).


Cover:
            The cover (also by Valerio Schiti) is a decent, if totally generic cover.  The illustration is adequate but the characters are very stiff and posed, almost as if they were action figures.  While this does nothing to tell you what is going on in the story inside, it also takes away from the interior art in that it is simply not as good. The interior art, as you will read below, is full of movement and vibrancy that is just not present on the cover.  I have to imagine that the cover was therefore drawn before issue one was even completed because it really does not look like Schiti is comfortable with the characters, whereas the guts of this comic show an artist that knows not only how to draw, but how to best utilize the characters that, while humanoid in nature, move somewhat differently and have very different body shapes.  The coloring is also noticeably different on the cover than the guts even though that is done by the same person (Claudia SGC) as well.  This is just further evidence that generic covers do not work.  I am sure that IDW asked Schiti to create a bunch of pinups before he started drawing the book so they could have stuff to solicit, except that this cover does not make me want to buy the book and does a disservice to the interior.

4/10 – I put this more on the publisher than I do the artists (especially considering what they are capable of on the interiors).

Story:
            We pick up where we left off from issue one (naturally) and see what happens when the Battle Beasts start landing on Earth.  We are introduced to more of the Battle Beasts, but they are mainly throwaway characters there to be beaten up by the three main heroes.  We are also given some more clues as to the magical maguffin known as the Dread Weapons.  Of course this comes through exposition along with the introductions of the “good” Battle Beasts to Bliss and Tate (the humans that are obviously there to help save the world). 
Gurnow does a decent job of giving each character their own distinct personality and their own “voice” but fails in creating something without falling back on generic unoriginal plot devices.  Sure, almost every story needs a maguffin, and this is a good way to bring the Battle Beasts to Earth, however the real question is why?  Why even involve Earth at all?  You have loads of anthropomorphic characters at your disposal to create worlds aplenty, why bother bringing them to Earth?  The “sister protects her brother because her dying mom told her to” thing is also kind of weak, and done to death.  Plus the whole “we’ve reached a break in the action, now it’s time to introduce everyone and basically setup the premise of the book” thing that took two pages while fighting took up the rest of the book.  Don’t get me wrong, the fights are well done and the pacing of the conflict actually works very well, but to do that for an issue and then shoehorn in actual important story point in the final few pages seems bushleague, especially in a four-issue miniseries. 
The lettering is pretty shoddy as well.  I am not a fan of the font used and indicating that a different language is being spoken be using the same font in the same style word balloons but just making that font bold is pretty lazy.  It took me half the book to realize that that was the intention because the majority of the conversations are between characters that speak the Battle Beast language.  There are better ways to represent a language barrier than this, especially if the dialectic is of an alien nature.

4/10 – It’s not the worst book I have read, but it doesn’t utilize the source material in the best possible way and tends to trend too much toward the generic as opposed to the innovative.

Art:
            This is the best part about this book, hands down.  I alluded to it earlier in discussing the cover, but the line art and the color are in perfect harmony here and it is pretty impressive.  The art has almost an Adam Hughes-esque quality to it (on the humans anyway) that is nice and is obviously helped out by a very competent colorist.  I really like all of the designs of the animal characters that are introduced in this issue.  Schiti does a good job of making them similar enough that we know they are working together, but designs their armor to coincide with the strengths/weaknesses of their species. 

While I enjoy the character design of the gorilla, it looks like his left arm was chopped off and is floating away.

This is a great panel and would have made a better cover than what we were given.

I enjoy this sequence and the way Schiti lays out these three panels.

Bliss gets shot through the shoulder with an arrow earlier in the book and yet it is somehow magically gone on this page.  Not sure what happened.


Bliss looks like the love child of Adam Hughes' Wonder Woman and Zooey Deschanel.
Crap, I just gave comic-porn fan-fiction writers more ideas.

8/10 – I really enjoyed the art here and would like to see more of Schiti’s work once this series wraps up in October.

Overall:
6/10 – The great art saves a mediocre story and an uninspired cover.  I would recommend this book for the art and the fact that you have anthropomorphic warriors beating the tar out of each other.  Just don’t come here expecting to be blown away by a great story.   


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What Joe would have wanted

This idea hit me late last night so I had to get it down on paper and out to you.  Grieving a legend that had an impact, directly or indirectly, on so many people's lives is a necessary thing, but I think that the best way to honor Joe is to just get back to work creating.  Doing the thing that Joe loved to do for nearly seventy years. A lot of art honoring Joe has shown up in the last few days from people that probably have a similar mindset to me; or, like me, know that the best way to deal with loss of any kind is to put pen to paper (figuratively or literally).  This is my contribution to that.  Thank you again Joe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Concert Review - Mumford & Sons

-Nik Magill

Yup, Nik is back!  Here is his review of a recent concert he attended with his lovely wife Raven.


                One of the very few good things that I can say came out of my previous job was that it had a connection with the CMAC Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua. And with that connection came my opportunity to buy tickets for shows a day before they went on sale to the public. With this opportunity, I absolutely could not say no to second row seats to see Mumford & Sons this past Tuesday (8/7/12).
                Raven and I have seen a handful of our favorite bands in concert so far. I’ve seen Jethro Tull about five times now. Raven and I saw Carbon Leaf and Murder By Death at the Water Street Music Hall here in Rochester as well. I will say, hands down, the Murder By Death concert (October ’10) was the best show I’ve ever seen. If you’re not familiar with the venue, it’s tiny. The stage is a scant three feet off the ground, and the crowd presses right up to the front to be right in the action with the band. Raven and I were mushed right up front with MBD, rocking out the whole time. It felt like they were performing in our basement, it was so simple and personal. So much so that, at the end of the night, the bassist tossed his pick into the audience, where it struck me in the chest. To this day I have it framed with the tickets and wrist-bands from the event. I shit you not.
                Back to Mumford. Whereas MBD was the best, this show definitely comes definitely in second. The simple yet epic presentation made it amazing. If it were in a tiny venue like Water Street, I think it would have felt even more amazing, but it’s apples and oranges at this point.
                Firstly, Canandaigua, if you’re going to have a ridiculously huge concert stadium in your old fashioned little town, you need to do something about your limited roads. Raven and I sat in traffic for about an hour and a half to get there, because everyone else was driving to the concert at the exact same time. That being said, we missed the entire opening act, and only got to see three songs from the secondary act, Dawes. Dawes was decent, from what I heard, but upon listening to their albums, I found that I only enjoyed the three songs that I actually heard live. The best part about them? Their drummer makes some super crazy faces when he plays. The whole time. He was out of control.
                Mumford came on around 9pm (and played until about 10:45). For the first song and a half, I’m not going to lie, I was slightly concerned. I don’t know if it was just me, my ears, or my positioning in reference to the stage and speakers (second row-center, baby!) but they sounded a little off. Every now and then it felt like the banjo would plunk out of key, or the keyboard and banjo were all playing at different tempos than the guitar. But, shortly into the second song, things smoothed out and it became amazing. Their simple stage effects consisted of: a half-dozen strings of lights that went from the stage up into the rafters over the audience, a few light boxes that cycled through a couple patterns (completely unnecessary, in my opinion), some bigger lamps that’d flash or glow according to the song, and their logo backdrop that cycled from the Running Horses to Gent in a Top Hat back to Running Horses over the course of the evening.
                The new music that they played, off of their upcoming sophomore album Babel, was great to hear. A ton of people in the audience were actually familiar with most of those songs, as the band has been playing them at concerts for the last few years, and thus the songs have been present on the internet for some time. One in particular, however, was the song “Lover of the Light”. Hands down a new favorite of mine and Raven’s. It’s up there with Carbon Leaf’s “Lake of Silver Bells” in terms of uniqueness, beauty and almost-make-you cry-ness. But the classics from their first album Sigh No More were just as amazing.  Some songs of note include “Little Lion Man” (the song that introduced me to Mumford when I saw them on a random viewing of David Letterman four years ago), my personal favorite (because it’s so damn passionate!) “White Blank Page”, and the one that I whispered to Raven about halfway through the show, “I hope they play ‘The Cave’.” And they did. It was their final song of the encore. And it was awesome.
                Surprisingly, lead vocalist and whom I thought of as the face of Mumford & Sons, Marcus Mumford was relatively quiet throughout the night. He spoke every now and then, but the true face and mouthpiece that evening was the pianist, Ben Lovett. He was funny and charming, and you could tell that he knew that he’s the pretty one of the band. Banjo player Country Winston Marshall said one sentence the whole night, and bassist Ted Dwane was mysteriously silent throughout the evening. I would have loved some fun banter from everyone, but it certainly didn’t detract from the show. Another bit of note is that not a single member stuck to their dominant instrument. All night we saw people jumping around from guitars (acoustic and electric) to keyboards to drums to bass (stand-up and electric) to banjo (acoustic and electric) to accordion to mandolin. Even the accompanying (not part of the band, but part of the show) violinist and horn section branched out to piano and guitar and shaker at times. It must be said, these are some straight-up talented musicians. They know their shit.
                If you love Mumford & Sons and haven’t seen them live, you absolutely must to get that full experience of how unbelievably talented they are. If you aren’t familiar with Mumford & Sons and have some interest in modern Americana (even though they’re British)/Folk music, these are the guys to start with. Check out the links to some of their songs. You just may like them. (also check out Carbon Leaf, and definitely Murder By Death, if you’re so inclined)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hey Joe


            Yes, today is Monday, and on Monday you have come to expect some light-hearted levity from me in the form of cartoon shrimp.  Today is going to be a change of pace because of a development that occurred over the weekend that has created a substantial ripple across the comic book landscape.
            Joe Kubert, the legendary comic book creator, and mastermind behind the school that bears his name (one which I attended) has passed away at the age of 85.  On many of the comic book websites, you can read a brief biography of Joe and a list of his achievements in the field of cartooning (of which there are many) so I will not dwell on that.  While I did enjoy Joe’s contribution to comic books as much as the next guy, it was what he did for the community of comic book creators that stands out in my mind.  There is no debate that his personal contributions to comics were numerous and all expertly crafted, but without the formation of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon Graphics in 1976, there is a possibility that many talented artists working right now could still be toiling away on notebook paper while working the cash register at a gas station.  Joe created an avenue for those of us with comic book dreams to go to school, learn from masters of their craft, and with a little bit of luck, move on to the big leagues.
            Even for those of us that did not go on to pick up a pencil, brush or computer mouse at one of the “big two” we were still infused with the spirit necessary to succeed in this increasingly brutal industry.  The late-night drawing sessions, the all consuming class projects (upwards of ten per week) all created not only a drive in each and every one of us, but also helped foster the brotherhood that is the “Kubie”.
Just mentioning the name Kubie brings to mind long hours at a drawing table both in class and out, coupled with far-reaching friendships that last regardless of proximity.  I have never enlisted in the armed forces, and so I have never had to endure an actual boot-camp experience, but the kind of camaraderie that is developed through that has to be similar to the sense of brotherhood that all those that fall under the “Kubie” mantle share.  No, we are not going off to war, but there is no doubt the physical and mental toll that a three-year art boot-camp can place on the body of individuals that were, in all honesty, probably pretty out of shape to begin with.  It seems rather fitting that the creator of probably the most well-known war heroes in all of comics, Sergeant Frank Rock, devised his own method of boot camp for his students.
            Through that fire, a bond was created that not only fostered encouragement for one another in the various endeavors that we undertook in the school itself, but also created a lifelong fanbase upon graduation.  I personally feel a sense of pride when I pick up a comic (or anything for that matter) created by a Kubert alum.  I have to imagine it is a similar feeling that someone from the University of Alabama, for example, gets when their alma mater wins the college football national championship.  That feeling of fraternity permeates everything that we do and it is amplified by the advent of social media.  By pushing us all well beyond our artistic breaking point and stretching us all to the same lengths regardless of inherent talent, the Kubert School has created a group of lifelong fans of other “Kubies”.
            Being a “Kubie” is not a guaranteed spot in the comic book industry, but it does give you the tools that you need as well as the connections to work with, through teachers, classmates and alumni to get your foot in the door.  The comic jobs run the gamut of self-published, small press, really small press (like some guy in his mom’s basement kind of small press), lettering and coloring jobs for larger publishers, to art teaching, web design and even model making (and this is just in my graduating class alone)!  The school’s reach is far and wide in all corners of the creative community and should be commended for instilling the kind of values (that’s an art pun) in its students that can lead to their dream job as long as they continue to work towards it and catch a couple lucky breaks along the way.
            Without the Kubert School, and therefore without Joe himself, there would be no Eat @ Shrimpy’s.  I know that I am not the only person in the school’s storied history that can make that claim, but for those of you that enjoy this site, and especially the comic strips, please understand that without that school, without that three year experience, I would not be who I am today, and Eat @ Shrimpy’s would not even be here in this form.  I don’t know what I would be doing today if I had not attended the Kubert School, but I do know that I would not have the friendship and support of my fellow “Kubies” in those endeavors, and that brotherhood is something that I am eternally grateful for.
            Joe has left his school in some very capable hands with not only his boys Adam and Andy (who I had the privilege of learning under during my time at the Kubert School) but also the other teachers and administrators such as Mike Chen and Mike Kraiger that have taken on huge roles in the scholastic operation of the school (Chen in particular as he does a lot, if not all, of the portfolio reviews and has to sit through some downright painful examples of “art”).There is no doubt in my mind that the school itself will keep on in the grand tradition that Joe set forth upon its inception back in 1976, just as Joe’s legacy in the world of comic books will endure for generations to come.  Thank you Joe for what you have done for me and all of my classmates both past and future that will walk through the Kubert School doors.
            Joe lived a life that any of us that are even remotely associated with the comics business would give our non-drawing hand to live and the fact that he was drawing right up to the end is a testament to the work ethic that came so natural to him, one that he did his best to instill in all of us.  My condolences go out to everyone in the Kubert family, those that were related by blood, and those that were related by graphite and ink.  You will be greatly missed Joe, but you will never be forgotten.