Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Absolute Nerdiest Thing I Do... watch people on YouTube talk about horror movie DVDs. Or even better and nerdier: horror VHS!!!!*

And that, readers, is the most dastardly, nerdy thing I engage in.

I am properly ashamed and looking for more acceptable ways to spend my time.




*EDIT: that's out-of-print (OOP). Anybody with me on this? Or am I just hopelessly insane with nerditude?

Tyrese Invented The Digital Comic Book

From CNN:

"There was an experience that I felt was pretty limiting as far as the comic book experience itself on paper," says Gibson, who stresses that he did not grow up reading comic books and is not a comic book veteran. "[So] I set up this technology with my team and this is the first-ever digital comic book [on iTunes] in the history of comic books."

Should we expect more people outside of comics with no/little familiarity with comics to pass over the paper format mostly/completely in favor for digital? Possibly.

Dennis O' Neil On Comic Book Writing

This Bleeding Cool feature with Dennis O'Neil on how to write comic books is worth a look.

I clearly remember the advice O'Neil gave me when I asked him what comic books should I read in order to become a better comic book writer:

"You've already read too many comic books."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Polanski: "The Balance Sheet Paradox" Redux

Figured this post became topical again...though unfortunately, this post seems to get topical every few days...

"Do the things you do in life that are extremely awesome "balance out" the things you do in life that are extremely not awesome?"


"Can we have and approve both: the sacred and the profane in the same person, good and bad wrapped up in equal measures? Can we love the good and ignore or condemn the bad? Or are there certain absolutes or lines that, once crossed, stains every other act?"

As for the Roman Polanski case itself, I'm not getting into an online debate with anybody on it regarding the pros and cons, because if I had to guess there's at least one person out there who would wear themselves out telling me that I'm categorically wrong. But feel free to discuss amongst yourselves. EDIT: and feel free to use the grand jury testimony.

"Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wizard: Implied Facepalm

I guess the real issue for me is that Wizard is obviously trying to go the Maxim route with the tone of their magazine – yet these "Laddie" magazines are bleeding readers left and right, whereas less racy mags like Men's Health are posting gains. Do you know why these Maxim-type magazines are losing readers? Because you can get all the boobies you want for free on teh internets.

I repeat: you can get all the boobies you want for free on teh internets. You don't need a magazine about comic books to get boobies. Do you think the average guy looking for a porn fix says to himself: "gotta get that latest issue of Wizard! They're going to print content from other comics accompanied by the ribald commentary I've come to expect from those slap-happy jokesters! And when I'm finished, I'll just wipe myself with the price-guide section!"

So really, that's what concerns me about all this – that Wizard is basing their editorial slant on a print strategy that is hemorrhaging readership across the board. If anything, Wizard should start an online soft-core comics site with nothing but boobies, thus snagging the all-important "free porn" online community (which is huge). <---the sad thing is, that's actually a viable business idea.

(goes back to reading newspaper)

Friday, September 25, 2009

My new favorite photo

Holy crap. I never even thought of this possibility before.

...and thus the circle is complete.

Muse It Or Lose It

I really have no problem with Irene Adler's "A Very Modern Muse" columns on the Bleeding Cool site. It's just that her columns have really made me understand that at my very core, I am not a "muse" but a creator. This is not a knock on Adler, or saying that she cannot create anything herself just because she is a self-described "muse" for other creators. I'm just saying that it's very important for people to understand themselves, what their essential role or attitude towards life is, and that mine is not leaning against Schroeder's piano.

"So the fire is built, and it's crackling along nicely, but a muse's work is never done. A fire needs tending, just like any creative spirit. Sometimes it's as simple as listening to a creator vent over a character that won't seem to behave. Offering a shoulder to cry on when things go poorly. A kick in the pants when they're mired in the doldrums. A good old fashioned pat on the back for a job well done. Sometimes, a well timed delivery of booze is just what they need. Better yet, Girl Scout cookies."

No, not me. I mean, I edit/proofread, give my opinions, my support, my love, etc. But I can't make that my official role, something by which I primarily define myself. I live with another writer. It's a partnership. It's a give and take. I'm given my room to create.

But I think it's telling about the way we are socialized in this world that I write this feeling a sense of primal guilt – as if by rejecting this role of muse/helpmeet/cookie-dispenser I am somehow selfish or less of a woman. I feel a greater need to justify my choice to be a creator than a male might. As if I need to justify that. As if my essential femininity slips away with every ambition, every goal set.

What does Lady Macbeth say? "Unsex me right now?"

"As any Girl Scout will tell you, fire is a responsibility. So is the creative spark that a creator chooses to share with you. Being allowed to share in their creative process is a gift, one deserving of respect and care. Help them tend the fire, and you’ll enjoy basking in the glow of its warmth."

Okay, actually this passage sort of gave me diarrhea.

But you see, if I was in driver's seat in that scenario, and some guy was talking about tending to my fire, and feeding me cookies, and how honored they were to be basking in the glow of my creative awesomeness...I'd probably eat that right up. Because it sounds really ego-boosting, no?

Finally, a much as I bemoan society's tendency to make women feel guilty about having ambition, I don't think that women who choose to be housewives or muses or whatever play any less of an important role. In college, I had professors who basically said that a woman who decided to become a housewife was essentially a loser. That's not a helpful point-of-view. It's not all black-and-white. I like cleaning out the house once a week, but it's not because I bought into the patriarchal Kool-Aid. It just makes me feel good & organized. And sometimes women have different phases/eras in their life: housewife, business-woman, artist, housewife, etc. Or they combine it all into one.

But if you would like me to dedicate several posts to analyzing in detail the awesomeness that is my creative fire, and how I stoke it godlike in the twilight on a hill while roasting marshmallows, I'd be happy to.

From "9" To Vaseline

Look, I've worked in PR & I'm cool with press releases, I get it.

So I've been getting all these press releases in my inbox for the Tim Burton film "9." And, you know, they're nice press releases and all & they've created nifty apps to promote the film. I've just ever gotten around to promoting the film on my site. I don't get around to promoting a lot on my site. Sometimes I think it's because I spend large portions of my day job promoting other people's stuff and then when I get to my own blog content I'm just like "agh!"

So anyway, I got the "9" press releases but I've never promoted the film. The press release I got today from the same PR company thanks me anyway for helping support the film – which both makes me feel relieved, because I'm off the hook, and guilty, because actually I did not help promote this film one iota. I almost feel as if the email is being sarcastic, or doing a passive-aggressive routine to me. Maybe it's reverse psychology. I dunno.

As I continue to glance over the emailed release, I see that they are now promoting a film competition. I think this is also for the movie "9." Then I read it again, and I realize it's for Vaseline. It's promoting Vaseline, specifically "Vaseline MEN Fast Absorbing Body & Face lotion."

How do we make the segue from "9" to Vaseline? I mean, "9" I understand getting an email for, as this blog is tangentially about pop-culture, sci-fi, etc. But Vaseline?

And this brings up another issue: this new fad of hoity-toity toiletries for men. All that Axe stuff, for instance. And "men's bodywash" is all over the drugstores, really sweet-smelling affairs (Freudian slip?) in bright colors.

So what exactly is this "Vaseline MEN Fast Absorbing Body & Face lotion?" Why should men worry about having supple, smooth skin? Men are supposed to have rough, calloused, cracked hands with big thick hair growing out of their knuckles. I don't want men to have supple skin when I'm so far behind the curve in this moisturization thing I look like Madame Reptillia by the end of the winter. I don't need to use fancy products for my skin. I slough off my skin once a season, the way God intended.

So that's just my beef. Please ignore me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Newest Fashion Trend: Blood-Stained Crazy Women (Possibly NSFW)

Inspired by Lady Gaga's blood-splattering performance at the recent VMAs, fashion models are now staggering down the runway covered in Karo syrup and portraying the mental stability of that chick from the Cars "Drive" video:

Photo taken during Milan Fashion Week

The Huffington Post wonders if being covered head-to-toe in fake blood might be a new fashion trend, and asks their readers in a flash poll whether they think the possible fad is "gross!" or "groundbreaking and kind of cool."


Jennifer Love Hewitt Regains Right To Be Loved

With her hot new cellulite-free body on the cover of the latest Shape magazine, TV & movie actress Jennifer Love Hewitt has once again regained her status as a human being with the right to be loved and respected.

As you may recall, Hewitt has been plagued over the last couple of years with unflattering photos that revealed she had acquired the normal amount of weight for a woman of her age and genetic heritage. These photos caused an international stir, because they seemed to signal that she was no longer a human being with the right to be loved and respected.

But with the help and encouragement of her current boyfriend Jamie Kennedy, who couldn't stand the sight of any excess fat on a woman that he would deign to call "girlfriend," JLH has finally lost the weight.

Don't worry kids: she's not REALLY drinking any of that milkshake

Other interesting articles in the latest issue of Shape include:
  • 5 Sneaky Habits That Are Making You Fat
  • Beat The Jiggle: Take A Inch Off Your Hips
  • Why Fat Makes You Unlovable
  • The One-Finger Solution To Fitting Into That Wedding Dress
  • If You Gain Weight, You Deserve To Be Mocked In The Press (Because You Suck As A Human Being)
  • "Honey, I Only Want You To Lose That Last Fifteen Pounds So You Don't Get The Diabeetus" And Other Funny Things He Might Tell You

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips On the Oprah Show

This was the first time in about twenty years that I sat down and made a point to watch an episode of "Oprah."

Well done. Go buy Mackenzie's book.

As for people who feel it's "not tasteful" or troublemaking for her to address certain topics in that book: I don't want to live in your world, a world where people choke down pain & shame in order to "keep appearances" for people who, through their actions, clearly do not deserve such protection. There's just too much of that in this world, and the worst of it is the stuff you never hear about and never see.

Somebody quizzed me the other day about why did I get into comics, into writing – what did I do it for, and what types of works did I want to create.

I want to be "troublemaking." Because I think it is needed.

Comics: "The Free Pass"

I used to do this thing where I gave comic books a free pass in terms of assessing them for quality. A particular comic book might be mediocre, but I would say: "for a comic book, this isn't bad." Rather than saying: "this is mediocre."

What a patronizing attitude. It's like some kid making you this lumpy ashtray out of Play-Doh and you say: "for a kid, this isn't a half bad piece of sculpture."

Obviously, there are enough comics out there of a superior quality to have raised the bar on this medium a long time ago. Also, there are comics that, while maybe not on the level of "Maus" or "Watchmen," are truly very entertaining and thrilling.

But then there's the plain mediocre: books that coast along mostly because of either name recognition or the 20th reiteration of a tired old theme.

Hey, I'm not a snob. I occasionally watch stuff on TV like CSI, for example. Not the deepest series (or series of series) ever. What CSI has going for it, in terms of holding my interest, are two things: 1) The technical forensic stuff is cool (though I have read that some of it is sketchy); 2) It's hyper-stylized to the point of a captivating ridiculousness. Kind of entertaining. But not great. Plus: I don't pay for it, so that helps.

I've also read really trashy action novels, the sort of best-seller stuff they advertise on subway trains. Again: not great. But containing some cool technical bits + a captivating ridiculousness. One book is around $6-8 (as little as 25 cents or free if I really go searching them out) and takes me about two days to a week to finish.

For $8, I can buy 2.5 comic books. If they are of the same level of quality as my trashy action novel, it will take me under a half-an-hour to read. There is no guarantee I will get a complete story in those comics, or even understand what the hell is going on.

Now let's make a similar comparison with DVDs. For around $3 or less, I can watch a captivatingly ridiculous movie on a DVD rental (say, "Push"). That movie will take around 2 hours to watch. I can spend the same amount of money on one comic book of similar quality, and consume it in about 15 minutes. Again: with the comic book, I am not guaranteed a complete story. (The ironic thing being, movies like "Push," in the hopes of starting a movie franchise, are also being structured so you are not guaranteed a complete story)

I think part of the reason we still make excuses for mediocre comics is because of our fondness for the characters involved. Sometimes you will hear a fan say: "this was crap, but it was starring XXXX. I had to buy it."

I understand that. It's like eating french fries even though you know they're sort of crappy and bad for you. I do that sometimes. I watch CSI, for example. I have the first episode of NCIS: LA programmed on my DVR. I get it.

But also: the enrichment my life gets when I read a truly good comic book or novel, when I watch a really well-done movie or TV show – you really can't compare. Why don't I search out more of these good things? Is there a chronic shortage? Am I afraid that too much intelligence, too much thoughtfulness and introspection, too much creativity and innovation – that it might break my brain? Is this the "leafy greens" of entertainment – good for me, but without enough artificial flavor crystals and MSG?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Recommend A Good Book To Read

I've recently taken to reading more books that are not comic books or graphic novels. Part of this is because they are a relatively cheap way to pass the time; everywhere I turn, I can find free or really cheap books to read. And part of this is that I was an English Lit major in college and I've found that I've really missed reading books. In the past, it has been hard to justify spending two or three weeks reading a very long/involved book. But it's also really kind of worth it, if it's the right book.

Anybody have suggestions of good fiction or non-fiction books (not comics or GNs) to read?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Manchurian Kanyedate

Kanye West wearing sunglasses
Wouldn't it be funny if the Kanye thing was just one of the most successful covert viral marketing campaigns of all time, just constantly subliminally reinforcing his image and name into the public's subconscious via a series of self-deprecating & seemingly self-destructive public displays?

Valerie Shrugged

I was going to write out my analysis/reactions to this Bleeding Cool article about who might be the next Publisher of DC Comics, but I don't think it is really necessary.

Suffice to say that each day this news item develops, I feel more and more of this incredibly heavy burden that's shadowed me for the last five years lift from my shoulders. I am actually shocked at how quickly it is happening, how much better I feel about comics in general and DC in particular. And I'm actually so very happy about it, about everything, because I had accepted long ago that as the result of my experiences I could no longer enjoy any of that publisher's characters again. That, to me, was the biggest tragedy; that I had felt this wall separating me from appreciating and taking comfort in these important figures from my childhood. I know it sounds completely corny and stupid to say that I finally realized that it "wasn't their fault" – but that's pretty much what happened.

Superman is about Truth and Justice. He never stopped being about that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Who's Voicing Who On Marvel's "The Super Hero Squad Show"

Here is a list of famous faces lending their voices to the new Marvel "Super Hero Squad Show" (debuting today on the Cartoon Network, see end of post for show times and dates). Me and the BF discuss voicework for these superhero-type cartoons a lot, 'cause that's what we do.
Thus the geekiness ensueth:

Shawn Ashmore as Iceman
geek cred: That's the guy who played Iceman in the movies!

LeVar Burton as War Machine
geek cred: That's LeVar Burton!

Tricia Helfer as The Black Cat
geek cred: That's Tricia Helfer!

Mark Hamill as The Red Skull
geek cred: that's the guy who played The Joker playing like another villain and stuff!

Kevin Sorbo as Ka-Zar
geek cred: that's the guy who played Hercules playing another guy who's sort of like Hercules with the long hair and stuff!

Adrian Pasdar as Hawkeye
geek cred: that's the guy from Heroes playing Hawkeye and stuff!

Tamera Mowry as Misty Knight
geek cred: that's one of those cute twins from that show a while back!

Robert Englund as Dormammu
geek cred: that's another guy who plays lots of bad guys playing another bad guy!

James Marsters as Mr. Fantastic
geek cred: that's just really hot!

Ray Stevenson as The Punisher
geek cred: that's the guy who played the Punisher in the movies no not Thomas Jane the other one!

Michelle Trachtenberg as Valkyrie
geek cred: that's Dawn from Buffy all grown up!

...and George Takei as Galactus
geek cred: 'Nuff said.

9/14/09 Sneak Premiere (Episodes 1 & 2) - 7PM

9/16/09 Sneak Premiere (Episodes 1 & 2) - 7AM

9/18/09 Sneak Premiere (Episodes 1 & 2) - 3PM

9/19/09 Premiere (Episodes 1 & 2) - 8:30AM

9/26/09 - (Episode 3) - 8:30AM

10/3/09 - (Episode 4) - 8:30AM

10/10/09 - (Episode 5) - 8:30AM

10/17/09 - (Episode 6) - 8:30AM

The First Motion Comic?

With all this talk about motion comics for mobile phones, I remembered this Alan Parsons Project video from 1984, "Don't Answer Me." At the time I thought it was pretty nifty, mixing comic book motifs with animation as well as live-action & clay animation.

And yes, some of those old Marvel cartoons are probably the *very* first motion comics, in a sense...

My Dumb Non-Issue Of The Day

OK, so here is my dumb non-issue of the day.

I follow horoscopes, the fact of which has already established this issue as DUMB. Dumb, but still reeking of a sense of discomfort and urgency, as I will now explain:

My most trusted online horoscope said that this week will be the absolute most shocking of my entire year. Life-altering things will happen, the sun will turn purple, and life as I know it will cease to make way for a "new normal", etc. etc. So this was the prediction, complete with specific dates and advice like "stay in bed this day" and "be careful when you send email because you could totally send something sensitive to the wrong person and cause a riot" and "think of it not as an end but a brand new beginning."

Of course, we all know that astrology is bunk, so this should be a non-issue.

Yet: I filled with a certain level of anxiety nonetheless.

And, if you are curious, my sign is PISCES. So all the Pisces out there, apparently, will have the same crazy week as me, because astrology is a hard science and never fails. Of course.

And this, childrens, is why superstitions are wrongheaded.

OK, I've totally blocked it out of my mind. I'm cool.


Awkward Monday Morning

You know, we don't have nearly enough of these moments in the comic book industry.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Too Soon

Wow, I've just written such a colossally trouble-making post. Really, I've outdone myself. I'm not even quite sure where this post came from, so early on a rainy and windy Friday morning. It's just a horror, partially inspired by Dirk Deppey's post on DC Comics yesterday.

The post I wrote is too soon. I realize this, as I let it sit as a bloated, text-heavy draft on the Blogger server.

Ah Comics! Your hagiographies, your sensitivities, your internal mythologies, histories, anxieties. It all goes far deeper than the actual narratives on the pages, the lives of your heroes and the heroes of your own lives running parallel to each other. Our little slice of the world, looming so large on the windshield.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Betty, Interrupted

The wedding of Archie Andrews to Veronica Lodge has been a happy occasion for almost everyone in Riverdale. But one burning question remains:

Indeed, what about poor Betty, who was so cruelly dumped by her longtime crush?

Well, Betty has...issues.

Thankfully, her old school chum Midge has stepped in to bring her spirits up through companionship and song:

However, some days are better than others for Poor Betty, as she copes with losing the love of her life:

What is it about that red-haired and freckled-faced boy that inspires such intense devotion?

I guess we will never know.

...that's Archie #601, on sale next week!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Brains 'Sploded


"As of last night, I understand that Paul Levitz is telling people he intends to step down as Publisher and President of DC Comics within days."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another Rotten Comic Book Movie Post

ZOMG! Did you see this news about Guy Ritchie directing the Lobo movie?

This is so intriguing! Who will play Lobo in the film?

Will it be...


...and this has been another rotten comic book movie post.

(Feel free to start this rumor on Reddit or some other respected online institution)