The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 10 – 16, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The best comic I read last week was Spider-Geddon #1

Writer: Cristos Gage and Dan Slott

Artist: Jorge Molina

Off the wall, gonzo, over-the-top action. That’s what Spider-Geddon #1 delivers. With a title like that, it better, right?

Cristos Gage is working from ideas put in motion by Dan Slott in the neo-classic “Spider-Verse” story line (which also inspired this winter’s motion picture Spider-Man: Edge of the Spider-Verse animated film) and, in this case, good ideas are quite the fruitful playground. Focusing on the engaging Miles Morales Spider-Man, Gage connects the reader to a story that seems made to please. After establishing Morales as the Spider-Man of record, Gage introduces a handful of other Spider-People, giving each and identity and raison d art making the audience care about each. He handles the Superior Octavius very well.

And Jorge Molina is perfectly suited to the world of Spider-Man. His fluid characters blend seamless into creative panelling and the kinetic nature of the story matches what he is doing visually. This is a terrific example of the right artist being on the right book and character (in this case, characters) and Molina’s Spider-Man is a classic rendition. He is key to the success of this book.

Spider-Geddon looks as though it will be a fun ride and one that I am looking forward to taking.

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Filed under Comic Book Pick of the Week, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Spider-Man, Weekly Comic Book Review

Link’n’Blogs – 10.12.18: Discover… Bearded Spock!


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

In January, the second season of Star Trek: Discovery premieres… and it looks, well, judge for yourself!

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The 2018 Denver Broncos Week Six | Los Angeles Rams @ Denver Broncos


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LAST WEEK’S RESULT

Prediction:  Denver 24, New York 20

Actual:  Denver 16, New York 34

BACKGROUND

I hate to take the easy way out, but… Is it time to fire Vance Joseph?

KEY MATCH UP

Is it time to fire Vance Joseph? And is it time to fire Joe Woods?

X-FACTOR

Is it time to fire Vance Joseph? And is it time to fire Joe Woods? And is it time to fire John Elway?

PREDICTION

This one looks BAD, friends. Aqib Talib has two pick sixes Sunday.

Los Angeles Rams – 45

Denver Broncos – 13

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The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: October 3 – 9, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The best comic I read last week was Justice League #9

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Jorge Jimenez 

There are a great many balls in the air in Justice League #9 (including the moon)… the action of the issue is brilliantly counterbalanced with character driven scenes – a forte of writer Scott Snyder. Of the many things happening in this issue, these are the most prevalent: the moon has to be reconstructed (you read that right), the Hall of Justice must be opened to the public, tours (for readers) of the living quarters for the League members need to be completed and Hawkwoman must confront Martian Manhunter on what might be another hidden agenda.

Whew.

With all of that going on, Scott Snyder manages to include a scene of friendship and trust so well pitched and so wonderful that one forgets that one of the characters is fighting for his life. The dialogue between Batman and Superman that opens the issue and runs through it is a terrific distillation of a life-long friendship. It is this type of writing that balances wide-screen action with character moments that sets Justice League apart. It makes Justice League the best team book on the racks.

And I have yet to mention the stellar pencils of rising superstar Jorge Jimenez. I simply love what he does with faces, with composition, with movement. His heroes are appropriately heroic, his civilians distinguishable from one another and his other worldly creatures truly out-of-this-world.

So is he. So is Snyder.

So is this book.

 

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A Star is Born – A Movie Review


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StarSometimes I joke about the five-tool players who are Hollywood stars and just how mad they make me. I am kidding, of course, Hollywood stars do not make me mad (usually). What I am is jealous, jealous of the stars like Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

In A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper directs an amazing Bradley Cooper who is pure fire as Jackson Maine, a country-pop star who may well be on the down side of his career. As Maine, Cooper is magnetic, singing songs that the actor himself wrote, playing guitar himself and keeping up with a band that is truly terrific. Cooper the actor is captivating here. Cooper the director is more than accomplished. His work is riveting.

Bradley Cooper: instrumentalist, singer, writer, actor, director. Five tools. That is pretty darn good and well worth the price of admission.

But, wait, there’s more.

Lady Gaga is, somehow, even more compelling than Cooper. As Ally, an ultra-talented unknown, Gaga sings songs she wrote for the film, accompanies herself on them, acts like the Emmy Award (soon to be Academy Award nominated) actress she is and manages to steal almost every scene in which she appears. If Cooper is great, and he is, Gaga is something else altogether.

If you think you got goosebumps hearing her sing in the trailers for the film, wait until she uncorks the song Shallow at you in full voice and in full scene. She is breathtaking.

Clearly to concept of A Star Is Born is somehow timeless. This is the fourth film of the same name, the third remake of the original. I must admit that I have seen none of other versions but, based on how good this one is, I will.

Cooper’s Jack meets Gaga’s Ally in a bar and the rest you probably know already. He senses her talent. She sense his demons. They fall in love. He helps propel his career. And a star is born.

The two are ably supported by a quirky but stunning supporting cast headed by Sam Elliot as Bobby, Jackson’s manager. He is ever bit Sam Elliot and every bit as good as Elliot always is. Cooper also somehow lured reclusive Dave Chappelle into the movie and it is very good to see him on screen. The most stunning supporting actor, however, has to be an unrecognizable Andrew Dice Clay as Ally’s father. Talk about a transformation.

There is, frankly, nothing inherently original about the movie. Even for someone who is not familiar with the original material, there are few surprises here. But that does not matter. Gaga and Cooper rise above what would be a paint-by-number pastiche in lesser hands. They wring emotion out of the music and the music is truly special. Their performances are, too.

And Cooper’s direction is special as well. For a first time feature director, Cooper is in complete command from the opening frame. He never lingers too long on any one shot and keeps his camera in as much motion as the story will allow. His staging of the concert scenes is as vast as his blocking of the character moments is intimate.

This is an excellent movie. It is powerful and emotional. It is stunning to watch. It is lovingly directed and brilliantly scored. And, forgive me here, but two stars are born: Cooper the director and Gaga the film star.

I cannot wait to see what they do next.

A STAR IS BORN receives FOUR AND A HALF POWER BALLADS out of a possible FIVE

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Link’n’Blogs – 10.5.18: Comic Book Pioneer Ramona Fradon


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

Comic book creators have, historically and primarily, been men. In the early days of the industry, this was even more true. Men were very much the norm and finding women comic book creators was a difficult task, indeed.

Enter Ramona Fradon.

This December, DC will release Aquaman, a multi-million dollar film about a man who talks to fish. It likely would not be happening without Fradon’s creativity.

Take a read at this Vulture profile by clicking on Fradon’s work below… It is a delightful read!

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Cover Bands – A Personal History Part 2 | Noise on Tap & The Side Effects


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I have remained in music ministry, playing in bands at various churches and when I was in college for, egads!, over 30 years. And I have loved playing with these groups. I have also learned so much about playing guitar in them. And I have had to.

I have never had a guitar lesson. Everything I know about playing the guitar, I have stolen by watching those better than I, emulating their techniques and their riffs, playing like them.

I’ve been doing this for a long time.

But, after a few years in the music groups at my church, sometime during my sophomore or junior year of high school, another muse came calling: the garage band.

I am not talking about the app, I am talking about playing in an actual garage band.

1987

Me, circa 1987… Noise on Täp ready!

When I was in high school, I was very heavily involved in the dramatic arts and I had parts in almost all the plays my all boys school produced as well as parts in the plays at our sister school across the neighborhood. I met some wonderful people performing those plays, friends I have had for life.

At some point during a production, and I frankly do not remember what show we were mounting, the dude who was designing the sound for the show – and who was a graduate of my high school – starting pulling together a cover band. Cliche alert here: he literally owned all the equipment a band would need: mixing board, amps and speakers, microphones and the like. And, cliche alert two: he had a van to cart it all around in.

Steve dee-jayed the dances at our schools and I though he was a very cool guy. That he ever took notice of me blew my mind. (By-the-way, Steve now designs sound for touring Broadway shows like – oh, what’s that one called…? Oh, yeah: Hamilton) Steve decided he wanted to put together and manage a cover band and asked me if I was interested.

At least I think he did. He may have asked my friend, the Great Guitarist and got me as part of the deal (Untalented Musician to be Named Later). But, regardless of how it went down, I was invited to join Noise on Täp.

Noise on Täp was the first cover band in which I ever played. I smile every time I think of it. I was on the bass guitar. We had a saxophone player. A keyboardist. A lead signer (man was that guy cool!). The Great GuitaristA lead singer. Other singers. Hangers on. And all of it was anchored by Steve. He drove the van. He set up the equipment. He mixed the gigs.

He brought us all together.

Man, did I love Noise on Täp. I used to have a video tape of one of our gigs and I am most sorry that I lost it to the sands of time. I would play that thing over-and-over.

No, I am not vain at all, thank you for asking.

We played an eclectic mix, to be sure. Dancing in the Streets (the Jagger/Bowie arrangement) was a favorite and we sang Louie, Louie all the time. However, two songs stand out for me in that I cannot imagine many other garage bands made of up high school and college aged kids were doing them.

First was Raise Your Hand by Bruce Springsteen. Wow, that was a great tune! We loved doing that one, drawing it out, playing it up with the audience such as it might have been at any given time.

Second, and amen to the socially conscious among us, was Sun City the 1985 protest song against Apartheid. We each got a couple of lead lines on that one… mine was “relocation to foreign homelands”.

This collection of musicians and singers stayed together for about 3 years as I recall, morphing from Noise on Täp to the Side Effects. There were many, many who dropped in and out of this group, many hormones that raged, many flights of ego, many, many, many late nights.

And a hell of a lot of fun.

Next time: Solo & Combos at Coffee Houses

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