lydamorehouse: (??!!)
Last night I was invited to be a guest lecturer at the College of Saint Katherine's by a colleague of mine at Ramsey County Library. Normally when I do these things at colleges and universities, I talk about my personal experience as a published science fiction writer--an area, on which, I am the leading expert.

This time, however, I was asked to come explain manga and graphic novels to a group of library science graduate students, aka future librarians.

It's not like I have zero experience passing myself off as qualified to talk about any number of fannish things. I do it all the time at science fiction conventions, right? But, there's something about this particular subject that oft goes awry (or 'gang aft agley,' as Robert Burns himself would say, incomprehensibly.) I don't know if the Goddess is trying to tell me that it's foolish for me to set myself up as an expert in something that is so decidedly _not_ my culture, or what?  

To be fair, I was very, very, VERY clear to these students that I am a consumer of this particular media, NOT an expert. I said that at the start and I reiterated it several times.  

I can't say it was an unmitigated disaster, not like that yaoi/yuri panel at WorldCon where I looked out into the audience and realized there were ACTUAL native Japanese EXPERTS in the audience and our panel was a bunch of blathering white chicks. In comparison to that, this was absolutely fine. The talk went... okay. I mean, the instructor promised me that this was a lively group and that I wasn't going to have to stand in front of them and lecture for an hour. And... I didn't? There were several glazed over eyes, but I did field a number of questions. The worst part is that there were slides.  And I read them to the class. Which...  yeah. I mean, to be fair, it was kind of my own fault. I sent a list of definitions to the instructor and she quite helpfully made me a powerpoint presentation, because manga does have a lot of specialized terminology.  

But, I SUCK at powerpoint presentations. I am 150% better at leading discussions--class discussions or panel discussions. Lecturing, particularly on a subject like this, where I don't have all of the information at my fingertips?  NOPE.

I wouldn't call it a fail, but it was not one of my better guest spots. 

I started the session off asking how many of these future children's/teen librarians (some of whom were already working in middle and high school libraries) read any graphic media: comic books, manga, graphic novels. There was a noticeable lack of hands that went up. I tried casting a wider net, as it were, and asked how many folks had SEEN a Marvel superhero movie... I... I'm not sure I've ever been in a room with so many people who have apparently NEVER seen a Marvel movie. Talk about a bubble that I usually live in. I had no idea there were even a dozen people on the planet who hadn't seen Avengers, much less all of them in the same place.

That might have thrown me a bit. I was at least hoping to connect to this room of 15 graduate students over a shared appreciation of Chris Evans or Tom Hiddleston. It was very weird to me to not be able to look at this room of women and go, "Loki, am I right?" 

IT WOULD HAVE FALLEN ON DEAF EARS.

What even! How does?

At that point, I had no choice to start off with, "Okay, so... manga is...." and start reading off the slides. I mean, I think, ultimately, things were learned. We did have an interesting discussion about how difficult it is to judge where certain manga should be shelved. I spent a lot of time explaining the publishing categories, like shounen, seinen, josei, shoujo--but, I realized that none of that was terribly helpful, since a manga like Chi's Sweet Home (literally the most inoffensive, sweet, simple thing--as story about a cat doing cat things, which Americans normally shelve in the juvenile section) is technically marketed in Japan as seinen, which is aimed at the ADULT (over 18) MALE audience.  I tried to explain that, really, a lot of this has to do with how much kanji is understood by the audience and sometimes, simple, sweet stories are popular among adult men....which says maybe more about how rigid the West is in its marketing strategy?  But, so, as a librarian, knowing that something was originally marketed to adults in Japan isn't often much of a clue as to whether or not it's "kid-friendly" in Western terms, especially since certain expressions sexuality are not nearly as taboo as they are here. (Good example being the masterbation scene in Bleach that was scrubbed for the English-Language release. Newsflash: teenagers masterbate. Americans, however, are too Puritanical to have that KNOWN, I guess. The funny part is that the scene wasn't the least bit explicit, is was much more IMPLICIT, but it was there, and, apparently, that was too much.)

But, anyway, I got an "honorarium" of a twenty-five dollar gift card to my favorite coffeeshop.

I feel like I probably gave them $25 worth of information, so that's probably fair. It's just ironic that at a con, which I do an entire weekend's worth of programming basically for free (minus the price of admission), I would probably have given hundreds of dollars worth of information. On the other hand, most of my audience at con would know what a manga _is_, so we'd already be out of Manga 101 territory.

So, that was my night.  

Otherwise, I've been recovering from an extremely wonderful Thanksgiving spent with good friends. Oh, and I had a birthday in there, too. I'm 51 now, everyone! Whoo!
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 It was a fairly busy weekend as such things go.

I worked at Roseville on Saturday for 5 hours.  That went surprisingly slow at times, though possibly my best interaction was with a patron who wanted to tell me all about the memoir he was going to write about how the Pope got assassinated by the cocaine cartels... a MEMOIR. I live for moments like that, honestly.

I came home to a house full of teenagers. Mason had gone to SpringCon with his girlfriend and their mutual friend, Dalton. Dalton had to head out, but we ended up hosting Rosemary for dinner and a seriously rousing game of Trivial Pursuit. There were several points when I laughed so hard I nearly peed. (We have a policy of random guesses when you don't know an answer.)  I was very sleepy by the end of the evening, however.

Sunday, Mason really, really wanted me to see SpringCon (aka MPS Comic Con.) Plus, he'd reported that our friend Theo was there selling art. So, we hopped in the car and stopped by for an hour or so.


a rack of comic books

If you've never gone and are curious, SpringCon is basically a gigantic dealer's room held in the Grandstand of the State Fair. There are lots of racks of comics, boxes of comics, and artists showing off their work. We said hello to Theo and their partner, Pip, as well as to my friends Barb Shultz and Christopher Jones. There are also people showing off fan related things as well as fan merchandise.

Someone had made a LEGO model of the battle at the end of "Last Jedi."



I took Mason out to lunch (Wing Stop), but we got it to go and sat in the grass at Como Lake and ate. It was a lovely day out and a ton of people were out walking dogs and enjoying the sun.

I only felt bad that I had to cut our picnic short in order for me to book it out to Chaska to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, where I TRIED to connect with some friends who were doing a flower-viewing party (in the style of a Japanese hanami).  I was supposed to meet them "under the crab apple blossoms about a mile in on Three Mile Drive," but it was a comedy of errors. For one, even though Three Mile Drive was obviously drivable, I had no idea if there would be parking anywhere near my friends were camped out at. I guess I sort of imagined that the drive would be like Custer State Park, where you can't really pull over anywhere, except in the case of a buffalo emergency.  I really don't know why I got that in my head, but i did, and so I parked in the main lot and proceeded to start to WALK. 

I ended up walking around the parking lot for a stupid amount of time because I was following signs that said "Three Mile Drive." I also have no sense of how far a mile is. Also, when I came to this set of trees, I thought that somehow this was the meet-up spot and they had moved from there to somewhere else.

a collection of pink flowered trees that I THOUGHT were crab apple....

Thus, I figured I missed them and so decided, instead, to check out the Japanese garden and head home.

The Japanese garden was lovely.

water feature with a Japanese stone lantern and a cedar tree on a small island. A man-made waterfall can be seen in the background

But the trip felt sort of wasted, you know. I sunburnt my nose and wasn't able to off-load ANY of my Japanese candies that I hauled around.

Ah, well. I did get to discover the MN Landscape Arboretum AND had a lovely time exploring the Japanese Gardens there.

Weirdly, I ran into Rosemary's mom, Lisa, on my way out. Like, I could NOT find my friends, whom I'd planned to spend time with, but randomly in this HUGE PLACE, I run into Lisa, who was there with a friend to see the tulip display.  She offered to let me tag along, but I was feeling pretty done (see: sunburned nose).  I offered them a bit of my Japanese candy and then headed for home.

pink and white tulips planted in a central circular gardens. Several people are seen in the picture because it was crowded af

Luckily, it's an easy drive home, despite the distance... or would have been if 35W wasn't under heavy construction.  But, I got home and we had a lovely dinner (I made kielbasa and a potato hash) and I slept like a LOG.

Today I worked at White Bear Lake and I could not have felt more tired and exhausted.  But, hey, I'm working a lot now because after Mason is off school, I'm pretty much taking the month of June off. (Bearskin here we come!)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Yesterday, at work, one of the librarians came over and asked me, "What's this thing you were a...speaker (?) at recently? Or maybe coming up?"  I look at her for a long moment, because, honestly, I have a terrible time remembering the names of people I work with regularly, and I'm also thinking, 'do mundanes know about cons?'  Hesitantly, I say, "Uh, well... I'm going to be a guest of honor at MiniCON over Easter weekend?" She shakes her head, "No, no this would be something recent."  "MarsCON?" I offer in my squeakiest, most uncertain voice. She smiles with recognition. "Yes, that's it!"

Then, without missing a beat, she adds, "What *is* it?"

Which is good, because, briefly, I was totally freaking out that someone outside of our community might actually be aware of the local SF scene. I mean, heaven forbid!  (TEASING. It would be lovely if regular people started knowing more about what we do.)

I've been wracking my brain ever since, trying to figure out how this person even heard of MarsCON in the first place. It occurs to me only just NOW that John, the branch manager at Roseville, called me Saturday morning hoping I could work a few hours. I told him that normally, I totally would, but that I was headed off to a panel at MarsCON. It's entirely possible that John mentioned that in passing (because I gave HIM a quick low-down on what MarsCON was, too) to other folks at the library.  Probably people figured it was something as cool as ComiCON in San Deigo and were shocked that something like that existed here in Minnesota.  (Don't worry, I put that idea to rest.  I told the librarian "You can think ComiCON, but think on a significantly smaller scale with more nerds and fewer celebrities." I think that's fairly accurate, wouldn't you?)

That was one interesting thing that happened at work.

The other is that a few minutes later,  I had to show something to the librarian... regarding their change in how graphic novels are going to be shelved. They've decided, I think wisely, to shelve by title. Okay, let me back up, here's what's dumb is that they kind of did this before, but it was somewhat haphazard. Like, they might collect a single copy of something, like AMERICAN BORN CHINESE and shelve it by author (makes sense) and then put all the SPIDER-MANs together (also makes sense, until you get to the fact that 9 out of 10 circulation staff don't READ comic books, don't bother to check the list to see which titles are series being collected, and don't understand how graphic novels are organized in terms of is Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man title, yes or no?)  The previous "solution" (which actually worked fine for the most part) was to organize first by collected series title (Spider-Man) and then by author (Bendis) and then by volume (number.)  

As any long-time superhero comic book reader will tell you that MOSTLY works, until, of course you hit the end of JMS's run of Spider-Man and the final volume in that series is actually written by someone else entire, since JMS quit over artistic differences.  (which is, of course, very different than manga where the mangaka and the manga are inseparable. You could organize manga by author, since the author never changes. They do those by title, because that's how most readers look for manga.)

To solve this, the libraries figured that they would just switch to volume title and volume number.  Hahahahahaha!  Yeah, that's WORSE. Because they're not collecting individual comic books (which are, for the most part numbered sequentially) but graphic novels, which collect, say issues 147-153, but might be volume 5 of Fraction's run.  So, I pulled out three AMAZING SPIDER-MAN volume 5s to show them this problem. I should have shown them the title page that explains which issues are collected, because honestly, if they organized this by ISSUE numbers they could mostly solve this.

But, the likelihood that they care this much about graphic novels is low. The comic book section will become a complete mess where Spider-Man will have 17 number 5s ALL FROM COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY ARCS and readers will be like, "WTF" and probably stop bothering to follow an arc.

Which is too bad, because, frankly, comic books/graphic novels are expensive and I feel like more comic book fans would read collections via the library if they knew they collected them (and how to find the ones they wanted.)  

So, yeah, that was work.
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
Once again, I don't think I consumed a single actual novel, but a lot of manga have been read and enjoyed. This week, I read:

Sign Language by Ker, a manhwa (the Korean version of a manga, usually full-color and in web comic format) about the lust-affair between a part-time cafe employee and his deaf boss.

What Did You Eat Yesterday?/ Kinou Nani Tabeta? (Vol. 12) by Fumi Yoshinaga, a manga about cooking and eating and two gay guys for whom food is clearly their "love language."

I Hear the Sunspot / Hidamari ga Kikoeru by Yuki Fumino, a manga about a college note-taker who works for a deaf student, and their compelling slowburn love affair.

Breath (Vol. 1) by Chifumi Ochi, a manga about a jerk and the guy he blackmails. (Can you tell I didn't really like this one?)
 

I also read the preview copy of Nnedi Okorafor's Black Panther for my review job at Twin Cities Geek.  In fact, today, after I do the dishes and start the bread to go with tonight's jambalaya, I need to sit down and write a review for that.  I also still never turned in my review of As the Crow Flies, so I need to do that, as well.

My other book related news is that I've LOST a library book somewhere in my house.  I took out all 9 volumes of My Neighbor Seki, and I can't find volume one ANYWHERE.  I thinking that I might just read the first volume on-line and then return the others, so that I can focus on finding that book?  I hope that I don't have to confess to my colleagues at work that I managed to lose a book.  That would be so embarrassing!  I'm hoping it will turn up over the holidays. I have a bad feeling that it's somewhere in the bedroom, which could mean that I might have to clean... (drum roll, please).... UNDER THE BED.

The horror!

I'd love to hear what you've read this week or what you will be reading over the holiday break.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
It's What Are You Reading Wednesday and I can report that I read a bit more of Scarlett (I realize that my other problem may be that I seem to have made that book into my bathtub reading book) and two Marvel comic books: Ms. Marvel (Vol.7): Damage Per Second by G. Willow Wilson/Takeshi Miyazawa/Mirka Andolfo and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (Vol. 5): Like I'm the Only Squirrel in the World by Ryan North/Erica Henderson/Will Murray.

I got halfway through volume 3 of another Yotsuba&!. What I need to do with those is make them my car books/carry around to read when you have five minutes books, because they read really fast.  I just keep forgetting about them.

So, about writing.... I had kind of an epiphany today.  It's going to seem like a sad one, but I'm not convinced it really is, but... I'm going to let go of the idea that "I'm going to write something today."  I've been living under the hope that "any day now," I'm going to get my act together and write a novel.  It's time to accept that's not going to happen. I've gotten into a really ugly, self-destructive mental space about it all, and I need to... let go.

I would be worried that this is a sign of depression, but the thought actually makes my soul feel lighter.  

I've had plenty of interest in the things that make me happy, in fact, I've been having a RENEWED interest in the variety of things that make me happy--all my little hobbies, including pen palling and stamp collecting and reading and cooking.  I've been the opposite of lethargic since I decided to let this go a little, and I've been getting a ton of things done around the house.  So, I mean, it's a sad realization in many ways, but it doesn't feel like one motivated by any kind of medical depression.

I'm not going to give up ALL forms of writing, either. I'm still very into my reviewing, in teaching, and critiquing fiction. I think I just need to let certain expectations about what I need to be in order to be a valid and productive human being--and one of them is that I'm any kind of serious about writing a novel any time soon.  I'm not writing.  When people ask me, I'm going to be honest and say, "I've given up on that for the time being.  I'm doing teaching and non-fiction work, instead."

It's not like this decision erases 14 published novels, either.

You can be sad for me, but I think this is the right decision right now.  I think, too, that if I can let go these expectations, I might actually be able, in time, to come back around to writing fiction.

Or not, but I need to be able to be happy with who I am. Right now? I'm not really a fiction writer and that's okay.


lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
It's kind of grim and rainy out again this morning.  I spent almost two hours at Hy-Vee this morning.  That's the last time I go THIS LONG without doing my basic staples shopping. On the other hand, our pantry is now stocked with All The Things.  Ah, tomato soup again!

Mason is supposed to have a baseball game tonight, but I wonder if it will be cancelled due to weather.  As the person who will have to sit on the cold bleachers, I really, really hope it is.  If not, I'm bringing not only a PARKA, but also a thermos of hot chocolate.  Maybe some blankets, too.

This weekend is the March for Science.  I'm looking forward to it, because I have not been very good in the last few weeks about keeping on top of my congress-critters and local legislators. I think the last thing I did was the town hall, and there's still SO MUCH stuff to fight.  Still, I try to remind myself that this is neither a sprint NOR a marathon; it's a relay race. It's okay to hand the baton to someone else and let them run with it for a while. 

I depressed myself listening to the results from the Ossoff race in Georgia, especially the news of the midnight hour (almost literally) voting machine "glitch."  I can't help but feel that we were robbed of a straight-up win. The truth is, we'll never know, but the doubts will ALWAYS linger, especially since he had a clear lead before for the "corrupted" memory card was found. Shit like that makes me lose faith.  

I mean, yes, there was a groundswell movement. Yes, he nearly did it... but, what's that going to matter, if people start to worry that their votes aren't being legitimately counted? And, Georgia isn't the only place. We never even got a decent recount of Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania, despite best efforts.

ARGH.

So.... I've been reading a lot of comic books.  I've been working my way through the Hugo nominated graphic novels. So far, I read Ms. Marvel: Super Famous (Vol. 3), Black Panther: Nation Under Our Feet (vol. 1), Vision: A Little Worse Than a Man (vol. 1) and  Vision: Little Better Than a Beast (Vol.2), and Paper Girls (Vol 1.).  I started Montress: Awakening (Vol. 1), which has been interesting so far. The only one I haven't tried to get is Saga (Vol. 6) because I suspect I'd need to read the other 5 volumes to know what's going on. Pretty much everyone says I should be reading Saga, anyway, but I'm not and I'm being obstinate about starting it for some reason, probably the whole "eh, but all the cool kids are doing it, so it can't be that great." After all, I finally got around to trying Bitch Planet, and I could have done without.  Not at ALL what I was hoping for there and absolutely NOT worth the hype.

I have all the Hugo nominee novels at home, but I have not been able to really get into any of them.  As I was telling a friend of mine the other day, I go through these periods where I read a LOT of novels and other times when my brain can only handle shorter, graphic stuff.  I've been in that second phase lately.  Like, I'll sit down with a book in my lap and two seconds later I've set it down and wandered off.  The thing about graphic novels is that in two seconds, I've read half of it, so it's no as much a strain to continue on for however many more seconds it takes to finish the thing.

I also haven't been able to write much.  I'm THIS close to finishing the latest installment in my long-running Byakuya/Renji fan fic, but I just haven't been motivated to keep on with it.

I blame Trump.
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I finally got around to reading Lumberjanes written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis / art by Brooke Allen


 

Here is a picture of the cover of volume one which you might not be able to see. It features the five main characters: Ripley, April, Jo, Molly, and Mal (in Stevenson style, which is hard to explain so go look at the cover of Nimona). Lumberjanes are a kind of Girl Scouts on steroids estrogen, plus these five particular girls keep running into monsters that are far from the average. Each issue collected starts with a little excerpt from the the Lumberjanes handbook, done in a tongue-in-cheek "Miss Manners" style, about how proper young ladies should behave when confronted with the Wilderness. Each one starts out sounding like something horrible from the 1950s, but ends with implications of bad-assery, ala, "A young lady should be well versed in how to cook. After all, her knife skills may come in handy when confronting a mutated grizzly." (That's my example. Stevenson and Ellis are cleverer than I. Unfortunately, I already returned the volumes or I'd give you something actually from the text. But they're very much in that vein.)

At times, for me, the characters were trying a bit too hard to be... hip? I dunno, I guess I mean whatever you kids are calling 'cool' these days... or clever. Mostly, however, I liked them. Jo was, of course, my favorite even before Read more... ) Likewise, Mal and Molly, the lesbian (or at least in love with each other) couple were runners-up.  Of them, though I liked Molly a little better, if only because she seemed nerdy in a way I could relate.  Mal, though, at least, physically looked like me--in college--but, in college, I used to complain that the butchest lesbian we ever saw on TV was Willow from "Buffy," and that wasn't saying much. So, it's really nice to see the butch, punk girls not only being represented but also allowed to secretly/not-so secretly be very NOT butch when it comes to being brave, etc.

The stories themselves impressed me less than the characters.  If you're really hoping for something whiz-bang in terms of storytelling, I'd say go read (or re-read) Nimona. But, if, instead, as one of the Lumberjanes slogans goes "Friendship to the Max" is more your thing, then you will enjoy the heck out of Lumberjanes.

I will say that, in this current political climate, Lumberjanes was exactly what I needed. I got through many nights by pouring myself a hot bath and settling into soak for a good long time while reading Lumberjanes. I used Lumberjanes the way I used "Free! Iwatobi Swim Club" and "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" ... which is to say, I turned to them when my brain needed something vaguely mindless, but ultimately happy/satisfying.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 It's been a long time since I reviewed a comic book here.  But, when I was working at Shoreview today, I saw that they had the first collected volume of FAITH.

Don't know if the picture thing is going to work, so I will describe the cover: Faith is a plus-sized white woman with blond hair. She's featured on the cover sitting on a telephone wire surrounded by confused-looking pigeons while she types something on her thinly-disguised Mac Book (the actual Apple logo is not there, but there's a perfectly round bit of light where it should be). She is dressed in a white outfit with a flowing train. Her cheerful face is illuminated by the blue computer light in the twilight. Her name, Faith, is in bright yellow almost comic sans font.  The comic is produced by the independent publisher, Valiant.


faith comic book cover


What I like about Faith is not her size.  It is refreshing to see a woman of substance doing the superhero-ing for once. It's even more refreshing that there's not a single lick of fat-shaming to be found in the title.  The worst that happens in that vein is that Faith's ex's new girlfriend mutters, "You sure traded up." 

What I ended up liking about FAITH, though, is that it starts to struggle with real-world issues of being a hero.  As any of you who have read this blog for any amount of time (or who have heard me speak on comic book/graphic novel-related comic books) knows, I'm a big fan of this kind of thing.

I really like it when the concept of hero-ing is taken seriously.  

In the second issue of FAITH, we see this dealt with in terms of collateral damage.  Faith has gone to investigate a missing person report and the bad guy minion she encounters in the abandoned house has rigged the place to explode. Faith is protected because she has a kind of telekinetic shield, but the houses on either side of the abandoned house ALSO CATCH FIRE.  I can't say you never see this sort of thing in comics because the Marvel Universe (both in the comic books and the MCU) have been very cognizant of the idea that superheroes are actually fairly hazardous to civilians, but I never get tired of seeing writers taking on this particular issue. Francis Portela does a great job showing the pain on Faith's faith in the aftermath.  Generally, I should say that as much as I like Jody Houser's writing, it is very much highlighted by Portela's art style.  (There also also funny imagined/day-dreamed asides/omake drawn by Marguerite Sauvage that were in a very distinct style that I also liked a lot.) 

Also, FAITH fits a new trend in female comic lead characters. Like Kamala Khan, Faith is a fangirl.  The dialogue is chock full of geek insider references. Faith even swears in "Firefly" Chinese, at one point. As a day job, Faith works for some kind of web content place, like io9 or Mental Floss (though with a more celebrity gossip bent, since this takes place in LA). Her colleagues are all pop culture nerds, and they have no idea she's a superhero in disguise.  Did I like this or did it feel like it was trying too hard to appeal to the base?  I'm not sure.  Goodness knows, I appreciate any fan fic references.

The other issue FAITH addresses is the extent to which having a secret identity is socially isolating.  I'm not sure how often that idea has been touched on before, but I found it very compelling here.  

The last thing to know is that Zephyr/Faith has a history as a Valiant superhero.  I'm not a big Valiant reader so I have to trust Wikipedia on this one, but apparently she was part of a superhero group (referenced in this reboot).  Apparently, she was a walking fat joke (she was known as Zeppelin--she's dressed all in white and can fly) in a group called Harbingers (or maybe that was the title and her team was the Renegades?) At any rate, some of that bleeds through into this issue, but I can attest from experience (or perhaps LACK of experience) that it's not necessary to have read any of her previous appearances to appreciate this reboot.   

I give is 3.5 out of 5 stars.  My hesitations mostly hinge on the fact that I'm not sure I really needed all the nerd-sassy references, and that some of the issues touched on could have gone deeper, IMHO.
lydamorehouse: (Color Renji)
Our car is fixed.

It turns out to have been a very easy (and cheap!) repair. I even had my mechanic throw in an oil change, because otherwise it would have been under a hundred bucks.

That was awesome, but a tiny bit of a bummer, because I had decided that at Dunn Bros (which is kitty-corner from the shop and where I had planned to wait out any long repairs) that I would start working on a comic book script. I only got a page or so into it before I got that call that the car was done.

Thing is, I've written a comic book script before. That one is currently in the hands of comic book artist Barb Schultz. It's a 'some day' project for us. Sadly, some time in the 1990s she had asked if I had anything she could illustrate and I had no idea what to offer. Now that she's super-busy teaching at MCAD, I finally have All the Things. (And a grasp on what the hell is a comic book script thanks to my other comic book artist friend Christopher Jones. If only I'd had that then. Ah, well.)

But, after talking to Christopher at MarsCON, I decided that he was right (of course), when he asked: why not get serious about this? Why not write several scripts and see what could happen with them?

Writing comic books, if you don't know this about me, has been a dream of mine since I was twelve. Okay, probably if you had asked me at twelve I would have said either 1) I would actually like to BE a superhero, or 2) I would like do DRAW for Marvel. But, my art is... okay, but nowhere near good enough. My writing on the other hand, is provably "professional," even if not in this particular field. Other novel writers have made the cross over into comic books, so my giving it a try is not a completely unreasonable approach.

This year, by chance, I've also been invited to attend the Wizard World Comic Book Con Minneapolis. I'm going to be reprising the CONvergence Panel: "Loki Can Rule Me Any Day" at 4:30 PM, Saturday, May 2, in M100i. I apparently can have six panelist, but I may have to provide them myself? Having never done this con or a comic con before in my life, I have NO IDEA.It could be very... awkward if it turns out to be just me, but audience participation is a thing. Also, if you KNOW anything about this PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Also if you think you want to go to this and be on this panel with me PLEASE LET ME KNOW. It is possible that the wristband they are providing me can be extended to up to six people. So SERIOUSLY LET ME KNOW if you want to go to this thing and squee Loki with me.

At any rate, being a panelist provides me with a wristband so I intend to take advantage of it. Though I'm not sure what this event is even going to be like. From the looks of it, it's very commercial. But, who knows, right?

I will have to be elsewhere earlier in the day, if you remember. I double-booked this gig with a Loft First Pages in White Bear Lake. But 4:30 is plenty of time for me to dash from one gig to the other. (And the First Pages gig is a paying one, so I couldn't cancel it even if I wanted to.)

Anyway, this push to have a script written is so that if I'm asked, I can say, "Why sure, I have something I could send you."

Because nothing ventured, right?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Since I have a lot to report about the con, I thought I should start with a quick plug for my new gig. I'm going to be doing a weekly book review for Bitter Empire. The introduction to the concept is up now: My Year of Speculative Fiction: An Introduction.

Check it out!

This does not mean, gentle readers, that I won't still be posting my thoughts about the books I'm reading over here. You're just going to get the un-edited, first impression, messy thinky-thoughts.

So, first drafts, really. :-)

Okay, so the con. Saturday, frankly, was a bit of a blur. It started early, because I had to get up and get home in order to take Mason to his swimming class. Then I picked up Mason's GF at her house and we all went to the con. If you saw my schedule, I was booked pretty solid. So, the idea was that with Rosemary there, Mason could enjoy wandering around the dealers' room, gaming, or panels with a friend. It worked out perfectly. She and he hung out together until 6 PM.

Mason stayed with me for the rest of the evening. It was meant to be a treat to get to stay overnight, but my schedule didn't quite allow for us to enjoy room service or any of the other fun bits of staying at a hotel (like cable!) But, that was okay.

Probably the only panel that day that was a true flop was the Wyrdsmiths: 20 Years. They'd scheduled us opposite the masquerade, so we had two audience members and one of those was Will Alexander who is a colleague and dear friend. So I ended up fetching Mason from the hotel room and we took Eleanor home.

Of the other panels, I don't remember much--not because I didn't enjoy them, but because they were LEGION. I will say, though, that probably the interview that Naomi ran with me when FAR BETTER than it had any right to. I'm not normally so Minnesotan that I'm uncomfortable talking about myself, BUT it's certainly easier when I have more confidence about my career, you know? I mean, I could point to the book that Rachel and I have out, but I hate disappointing anyone who might ask, "So when I can I see another science fiction novel, etc." However, the reaction I got when I suggested that I'm finally getting serious about writing some short novellas in the Garnet Lacey universe for Amazon self-publishing was... deeply gratifying (and humbling), let's just say.

Sunday was another sort of blur, because we had to get Mason home early. Parking at the hotel was AWFUL so I wanted to get him there and get back again before the spots were all taken. Turns out, I needn't to have rushed too much because I had another audience no-show for the "Otaku Dilemma" panel, but that was okay, because Adam Stemple and his daughter hung out with me and, if you don't know Adam from... well, Adam, you really should consider going to this year's Minicon just to see what a fantastically fun, bombastic personality he has (Adam is the musical guest of honor).

Then at the very, very end of the con I had an amazing conversation with Christopher Jones. You may recall that Christopher is the friend of mine who is an artist who has worked for both DC and Marvel. I visited his studio a couple of years ago after we had a fantastic panel at the CONvergence. Anyway, he asked me what happened: why I hadn't done anything with the comic book scripts he'd given me as models. And I was like, "Huh? I wrote a script! I gave it to another artist friend because I figured you were way too busy!" And, he gave me the stink eye and basically told me that he thought I'd just gone cold on him, as he'd been planning to help me (in whatever way he could) break in into comic book writing.

I was... yeah, totally blown away.

AS YOU CAN IMAGINE.

IT'S ONLY BEEN MY DREAM SINCE I WAS TWELVE TO WRITE FOR COMIC BOOKS!!!!

So... one of the many tasks I've given myself over the next week or so is to see what other scripts I can come up with.

BECAUSE O.M.G.

So... yeah, most of the con was a blur. Because the last ten minutes were AMAZING. And you know, nothing may come of it, but it really, really moves me that someone is willing to help me... and has confidence in my ability to do something like this, that I normally would feel was so far out of my league as to be unattainable.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
St. Paul didn't close schools today.

The wind chills are expected to reach -35 F (-37.22 C for my foreign friends--also is this right?  I don't know that my converter can handle minus temps). Winds are expected at 15 to 25 mph. How wind chill works is that it's "the measure of the perceived decrease in air temperature felt by the body on exposed skin due to the flow of air."  Another fun fact is that when the real temperature is -19 F, exposed skin can freeze in one minute.  The REAL temp outside at the moment is -23 F.  (My family thinks the skin freezing thing is false, well, fine: it's still colder here that it is on some parts of Mars.)

Minneapolis closed school.  

For a point of reference, Minneapolis is 10 blocks from my house to the west.  I can drive down University Avenue for less than a minute and arrive in Minneapolis.  

So... Mason is home today because I'm not sure what St. Paul is smoking, but it's not safe.

St. Paul has decided that all absences are excused today, at least, but we would have kept Mason out regardless and he doesn't even wait for a bus.  Why?  Well, firstly, in protest, because most other people do have to wait outside and buses do not run on time always.  Secondly, because the last time we decided to go in temperatures like these our car broke down and Shawn and Mason had to walk several blocks home while I was forced to sit in the car to wait for triple-A.  I was lucky, our break down was tire related and I could have heat, but our car door also sticks open and super-cold temps, so I was really very chilly.  

The decision, St. Paul has said on its Facebook discussion about this, was partly to aid homeless youth for whom school is the one place they can get a regular meal.  At the same time they announced this, a call went out to the neighborhood for warm winter coats for homeless kids because there's a real shortage.  So, St. Paul required homeless kids to leave the warmth of their shelters, wait for the bus without winter coats, just for a meal?  I'm not entirely sure how well all that works in terms of logic. 

So, yeah, that's my morning.

As I just told my friend in Wales when she asked me if I was writing--not yet, I have to drink more coffee and complain about the weather.  It's the Minnesotan thing to do.

:-)

I also thought I do a very mini review of Ms. Marvel #10.  My subscription finally came, btw.  Long ago, I decided to subscribe to Ms. Marvel because at CONvergence many years ago, I was on a panel with Sigrid Ellis, who suggest that the best way to support women comic book writers was to subscribe to the titles they wrote.  So, dutifully, I went to Marvel.com and put in my credit card info.  I was pretty sure I was being ripped off because nothing ever came.  Turns out, I apparently signed on to start AFTER #9.  At any rate, #10 "Generation Why" showed up at my doorstep a couple of days ago.  

Read more... spoilers.... )

In general, I'm just as happy my subscription starts now.  I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next (though I'm really hoping for an actual defeat for the Inventor soon).  I really like G. Willow Wilson's voice for Kamala.  Like my example under the cut, it's funny and sharp and smart.  Also, I'm growing very fond of Adrian Alphona's art.  It's stylized, but in a way I like?




lydamorehouse: (Default)


Because my friend Naomi is made of awesome, she loaned me the most recent Ms. Marvel (#8)


 
 
 
As I said in my previous post, I was a little leery of the introduction of this big guy, Lockjaw. But, I have to say, I thought he was handled deftly (insomuch as anyone can "handle" Lockjaw, as it were.)  In this issue, Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel is still searching for clues about her arch-enemy "The Inventor."  Things that I can say that are non-spoilery are that Kamala seems to be settling into the sort of regular business of superhero-ing.  There isn't much about her family or her ethnicity or her religion in this one, and that's just fine with me.  I think it would be a mistake if this were a title all about those things all the time. Kamala is starting, IMHO, to feel like Peter Parker--which is to say a person doing living and superhero-ing in that way a lot of Marvel character do it (by which, I mean messily, which reads as very 'real life'/plausible.)

I'm also really digging her guy pal (Bruno?) who works at the corner mart.  He has some really funny lines in this one, including what I can only assume is a dig at all the dudes feeling left out of girl-centric comic books.  (At one point when he's stuck taking out the garbage at the corner mart and Kamala and Lockjaw teleport out to do superhero stuff, he mutters, "Not feeling emasculated or anything, nope.")

Which made me smile, in a wicked sort of way.  Here, he just wants "a refund on life."  Weirdly, he's the guy I relate to the most, even though he was kind of a jerk in the first few issues Read more... )




 
lydamorehouse: (Default)
In my quest to find a new weekly manga to review for our podcast, I keep stumbling into EVEN MORE monthly manga that I enjoy. The latest one is a futuristic, action-adventure manga called Hitogatana. My review is posted here: http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/hitogatana-chapters-1-21-a-review/


The short of it is that I liked it... A LOT.

There are a couple of really cool female characters and I love the premise of fighting teams with mech, "katana," that they download their consciousness into.

Weirdly, the next one I stumbled into that I seem to be reading? A shojo (girls') manga called Tora to Ookami.  I've only ever read an enjoyed one other shojo before and that was Absolute Boyfriend.  Tora to Ookami has no science fiction going for it, so I'm not sure what the appeal is so far.  There are only 12 chapters and it's complete, but I think part of why I got sucked in is that thing that sometimes hooks me... slice-of-life about food.

If I finish it, I'll let you know what I think of it.  Also, Naomi loaned me the latest Ms. Marvel, so I get to find out how I feel about the introduction of Lockjaw....
lydamorehouse: (Default)
By chance, Mason and I missed the publication of the new Ao no Exorcist/Blue Exorcist by ONE DAY.  So, I wrote up my review of it, which you can read on MangaKast, here: http://mangakast.wordpress.com/2014/09/11/ao-no-exorcist-60-review/

Yesterday, at our usual women of Wyrdsmiths' gathering, Naomi loaned me the first eight issues of the new Ms. Marvel, which I powered through today while at the laundromat while washing some of our rag rugs. The hero of Ms. Marvel is a teenage girl living in New Jersey named Kamala Khan who happens to be Muslim.  She is the American-born daughter of a fairly recent Pakastani immigrant family.  One day a weird green fog takes over her town and she appears to develop superpowers and the ability to look like Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.




The things I like:  this is a comic book about a woman, written by a woman.  This is also a comic book about Muslims by someone who has AT LEAST spent some time living in a Muslim country, specifically Egypt.  So, while I can't say whether or not this is a fair portrayal of All the Things, there are some moments that give me hope that this is an honest try...

Read more... slightly spoilerific...  )

The other fun thing about this character is that she's a real teenager, living TODAY.  She writes Avengers fan fic.

Yes, things are that self-referrential now.  Look, I've been telling you, when Marvel decided to place their heroes in real neighborhoods in the Real World, they MEANT IT. That means, if it makes sense for a teenager to have seen the Marvel Movies (or, as it happens, live in the world they occupy) then it means they'd do the things people really do, like write fan fic.

This, however, is why I love Marvel.

This is especially awesome when there's an honest-to-canon scene in which Wolverine is confronted by the fact that the fic she wrote starring him came in second to one featuring Scott Summers/Cyclops and Emma Frost/White Witch (a crack ship if ever there was one)... 

Things I'm not sure of:

Read more... very spoilerific... read only at risk )

But, that's a wait-and-see game.

Even with that caveat, I would have to agree with a lot of the hype.  I'm liking this.  I'm hoping the title continues a long time.



lydamorehouse: (Default)
Okay, after getting some wonderful suggestions for improvement, here's what I came up with for a second draft of my review of the art book that caused me to FREAK OUT about my art skills.

----
Every time I pick up a book about drawing, I end up learning more about myself than I do art.

I ordered Foundations in Comic Book Art: Fundamental Tools and Techniques for Sequential Artists by John Paul Lowe from Blogging for Books this month because I’m a frustrated artist.

As the title suggests, this is a book aimed at teaching fundamentals to beginners. It is a book chock full of exercises aimed at improving basic skills, from learning to draw straight lines to understanding the specialized needs of visual storytelling. The example art throughout is magnificent, and for every lesson there’s a written and visual example. The tone of the book is fairly serious. It is aimed squarely at someone like myself, who is desperately looking a way to ‘level up,’ and gain the extra skill sets needed to become a comic book artist/graphic novelist.

Lowe’s book should have been perfect for me, but after reading through it several times and trying some of the examples, I ended up instead with a visceral emotional response which can be summed up in two words: I suck.

The forward and introduction to Lowe’s book suggest this is the very last feeling that I should’ve come away with. Lowe is very much of the belief (as am I) that art, like any skill, can be learned by anyone regardless of innate talent given enough time and energy.

I’m not sure what it is about this book that left me with that feeling. As I’ve said, this is a textbook aimed at teaching basics. Yet I left it feeling like there was no way I could ever master any of it (despite being far from a novice artist,) and it was all too overwhelming.

I wonder if it wasn’t because all the art shown was so good? This is one of those art textbooks where I’m already green with envy just looking at the instruction images that are supposed to be teaching me to see basic shapes in every day items, and instead of seeing the circles and squares, I’m thinking: damn, look at that cool apple! How come I can’t draw an apple like that??

There are a few playful images in the textbook, but even those examples showcase tremendous skill in background drawing. There were no examples that made me feel: oh, hey, I can do that.

There were no suggestions for work-arounds. Like, for instance, in my own comic book art, I have been known to cheat. I’ll take original photographs and use them as background images:

 

 The other thing that was missing from this book that’s been tremendously helpful for me, as someone who has considered coming into graphic novel writing from the other side is, a script. There’s a very specific kind of writing format that comic book WRITERS use that I’ve been privileged to see thanks to a friend of mine who works for Marvel and DC. What looking at those taught me was how important it is for the writer of comic books (if they’re not the artist) to think visually as well and consider how much text/dialogue can reasonably fit in a panel.

So, while I think this is probably an awesome textbook to go with a class, I’m not entirely sure how well it works for me. There are two huge chapters at the end of this book that are specific to digital programs that I’m not using. I would have preferred that space be used to talk more about the business of comic book writing.

Your mileage may vary.

As I said, my strong emotional reaction to what is essentially a textbook surprised me.

lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Marvel is giving Deadpool: The Gauntlet Infinite Comic #1 (Duggan & Posehn/Brown) away for free, along with #2.

I'll be perfectly honest, my Deadpool fandom goes like this:  Vague memory of Deadpool from X-men.... [scrolling through Tumblr] Ha!  Funny Cosplayer in Deadpool outfit!  [more scrolling] HA! Someone reprinted one of his more outrageous lines from a comic book. [/close Tumblr].

Given that in-depth (not!) experience with the character, I can't say that I'm any kind of expert on whether or not "The Gauntlet Infinite" stands up to the usual Deadpool fare.  But, it seems patently obvious that Deadpool is meant to be funny and scampy and more than a little off color, and these two comics totally fit that bill.  Plus, there are... vampires.  How can you go wrong?

Similarly, I really like Reilly Brown's art.  It's old school in a style that appeals to me and the way that the Marvel Comics Reader app-thingy works means you get almost an animated-but-still-flat experience.  It's really nifty the way that the art shifts through the action and the dialogue.  Despite being a comics fan forever, I'd never before tried digital comics and if this is the usual experience, I'm all in.  It was really cool.  The opening part of The Gauntlet Infinite had a kind of James Bond film opening vibe to it that was both really beautiful, while being still very Deadpool (which is to say sort of silly).

As part of this free package, they're also giving away an Iron Man: Fatal Frontier Infinite #1 (and #2) as well as Wolverine: Japan's Most Wanted Infinite #1 (and #2).

I will read them all, because: why not?  They're free.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
If you've been awake these last few days (and hang out in fannish circles on the Internet), you probably heard that Marvel is introducing a new Thor, a female Thor.  She looks pretty awesome to me, so I'm not quite sure what has certain fans in an uproar.  As a long time Thor reader, there is one single qualification in my mind to be Thor.  You must be worthy of Mjolnir.

For those of you just tuning in, comic book fans will happily explain that Thor not being Thor is so yesterday.  We've had a horse-faced space alien (a fan favorite, in fact,) Beta Ray Bill.  We've had, I kid you not, a frog.  All of those who welded Mjolnir before were WORTHY.  So long as this person is, I could care less.

Different people take on iconic hero titles all the time.  Do you even know how many Captain Americas we've had? At least one of them was insane, another had been a recently brainwashed super-assassin for the Russians.  So, you know, in the average life of a Marvel fan, this kind of thing is very ho-hum.

I was particularly struck by what it means (to me, at least,) to be a Marvel fan as I was finally reading through the Entertainment Weekly article about the new Avengers movie, Age of Ultron.  The article laid out the reason why the movie writers of the script decided not to make Henry Pym the inventor of Ultron.  I read that and thought, like a Marvel fan does, "Huh.  Okay, why not?"

"Huh.  Okay, why not?" could be a Marvel fan's mantra.

How about we reboot the entire mutant franchise when a villain goes back in time to kill Professor X? Huh.  Okay, why not?  (The Age of Apocalypse is still one of my favorite canon AUs.)

How about we replace a ton of your favorite superheroes with Skrull?  Huh.  Okay, why not?  (Secret Invasion. I  was less sold, but you know what, this is Marvel.)

How about the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a super-villain?  Huh.  Okay, why not? (Dark Reign.  Didn't read it, but am planning to try to collect it.)

The list goes on and on and on, and two thirds of my above examples are actually fairly recent developments, and don't even get me started on the whole Ultimates concept.  (For those of you who aren't comic book fans, Ultimates is like Marvel said, I wish we could re-write some stuff, and the PtB said, you can!  We'll just make it an AU fic, but because we're the bosses, it'll be canon because we can just make up a whole new set of titles for you!)

You know, it's like I tell new Attack on Titan fans--don't get too attached and roll with the punches.  Most of the time, the story carries you through all your fears.  Sure, sometimes it's stupid.  But, Marvel has, what now?  At LEAST 60 years of canon, some titles running weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly without interruption in all that times.  There's got to be some stupid given the sheer vastness of canon.  And, writers and artists can change mid-storyline, so Marvel fans have learned to cope in MULTIPLE ways.  I mean, I'll be honest, for me, I've been known not to finish a story because there's been a major writer shake up (still don't know how everything worked out after Straczynski left Amazing Spider-Man).

My friend [livejournal.com profile] empty_mirrors asked me how does Marvel deal with people getting older, and I said, "They don't."  Given the mess of the above, there's really no reason to.  Readers have learned to say, "Huh.  Okay, why not?" when confronted by the fact that Reed Richards is stated in canon to have fought in WWII.  Writers tend not to bring that up.  Or, when they do, they get points for coming up with clever work arounds.  Honestly, a lot of us long-time fans appreciate when writers like Bendis slide in a line for Peter Parker like, "Look, how weird can it be?  I once had four arms!"

Because, yes, yes he did.

And that's the other thing Marvel comics are made for readers to come and go from it.  New readers can pick up a title at any point and go from there.  I've done it when I've come back to story lines.  But fans drop out, new fans come in, old fans return, etc., etc.

And sometimes Thor is a woman.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
So, I think I posted here that I got an e-mail inviting me to try out "Blogging for Books," which, when I went to check it out, appears to be a Random House thing where you get free books if you post a review about them somewhere. Free books is never a bad deal for me and they had a graphic novel check-box, so I thought, okay, what the heck, and had them send me "The Harlem Hellfighters" Max Brooks/Caanan White.

So, here are my thoughts:

The Harlem Hellfighters follows an all-black regiment in WWI and showcases the racism they dealt with and their astounding bravery in spite of it. This is typically the kind of tale that I never get tired of, the against-all-odds heroes who go above and beyond duty—all while being spit on (and worse) by their fellow soldiers. This story gets an extra boost because the regiment is real and many of the characters that appear in the pages come straight out of history.

The author, Max Brooks, is best known for his World War Z comic book, which, admittedly, I haven’t read yet. And, while I enjoyed The Harlem Hellfighters, I’m not sure that this book would make me seek out his other work. I feel that maybe because Brooks was trying to hit all the history, he missed out on a stronger narrative opportunity or two. The Harlem Hellfighters would make a great addition to a junior high/high school library because it’s really more a ‘fun’ way to read about history than a graphic novel for comic book fans, you know? I didn’t leave this graphic novel thinking, “Wow, this was a great story! I loved Edge’s character!” so much as, “Wow, I learned a lot.”

Which surprised me, because there are some amazingly moving scenes and we, for the most part, follow a single character. I can’t quite put my finger on why I was never able to sink my teeth into this. It might be the skipping through history; it might also be the art.

Like a lot of graphic novel/comic book fans, I need to have both working for me to get the ultimate experience. I can enjoy a book where the art is better than the story, and visa versa, but it’s a far better ride for me when both are hitting the same notes. I wonder if I’d have felt differently if it were an affordable option to print all the pages in color. Regardless, at this point it comes down to preference and stylistic bents… and, thus, to each their own. My experience with the art might be completely different than yours.

So, I guess, ultimately, I’d give The Harlem Hellfighters a recommendation to anyone interested in World War 1 history, African American experiences, or the history of racism in America (and Europe.) For comic book/graphic novel fans, it could be hit and miss. I would still say check it out if this sounds like your kind of thing.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
At the library yesterday, I gravitated toward my usual favorite section to shelve: teen (because they have all the manga and the comic books.) So, I came across this:

APR110728_1

Black Widow: The Name of the Rose (Margorie Liu/Daniel Acuña). According to the back cover copy, "collecting Black Widow 1-5, plus some material from Heroic Age #1."

When I started it, I was a little afraid it was going to make me feel old again, like the new Hawkeye title did. The art is similar, but deeper:

tumblr_m64y2u7IUa1r2v9ujo5_1280

But, for some reason, I really enjoyed the heck out of this title. I think maybe it's partly the fact that Black Widow is super-competient. She also gets beaten up, being mostly human, like Clint, but... she's just so much smarter and independent. Looking back to Hawkeye at the scene where Clint can't figure out how to untangle his cords for his entertainment system and calls Iron Man/Tony Stark, it's hard not to compare it to the time Stark is called in here... to find out that the reason Black Widow was attack was because she was secretly carrying a recording device, collecting spy information on EVERYONE (ally and enemy alike). Clint comes off as a moron; Natasha kicked your butt and you didn't even know it.

There are also a couple of scene that made me hyper-aware of Black Widow's sexuality. Guess what, guys, she has boobs. But, what SHOULD feel like gratuitous fan service never entirely did--even the scene where she's tied up, naked. I think the reason was because she comes off so completely unfazed by it. Like, 'ho-hum' bad guys are trying to make me feel vulnerable using my gender. Ah, well, I guess I'll just have to escape and KICK THEIR A$$ES WHILE COMPLETELY NUDE.

It's weirdly awesome.

I recommend it.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Some time ago, a friend and I had been IMing and she'd asked me about where to start with comic books as an Avenger movie fan.  I'd told her about several of the collected volumes I enjoyed, and particularly mentioned that, as a Marvel movie fan she might want to check out the four volumes of Ed Brubaker's CAPTAIN AMERICA: Winter Solider and Strazynski's re-boot of THOR, since clearly elements of those had appeared in the movies.  Being polite and not raised by wolves, I asked, "So, what are you reading?"

She recommended the new HAWKEYE (by Matt Fraction).  So, I checked it out. I read both of the volumes that the library had: HAWKEYE: My Life as a Weapon and HAWKEYE: Little Shots.

I've decided that maybe I'm too old for this title.  The main artist is someone called David Aja and his art is very... what's the word I want?  Kind of "indy"?  I'm not sure.  Here's what it looks like:

Unknown-1

I can't say I dislike the art, but it has a flat, slick feeling.  The stories follow Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye) in his life in New York City.  This is one of the things I tend to really adore about Marvel, in general, which is that a lot of the story is about what a screwed up life Clint has made for himself and how much it honestly sucks to be nothing more than a sharp-shooting archer in a team full of super-soldiers and gods.  Clint gets banged-up.  A lot.  Actually, you kind of start to wonder if Hawkeye's real superpower is the ability to get fairly seriously wounded and still live, despite not having a mutant healing factor. They also do some fun things with his stupid-a$$ arrow collection (because, seriously?  How dumb is that?).  At one point during the story he decides what he really needs to is organize everything and you know, maybe mark them with tape or something, so he doesn't accidentally reach for the smoke-bomb when he needs the exploding tip.  The trip to the hardware store to get tape becomes it's own adventure, of course, in the way of such things, and he ends up randomly using whatever comes to hand, as it were.  That's just funny.

But Clint really isn't that interesting on his own.  Frankly, he never has been.  When my cousin Laun and I used to play pretend Avengers, I would often be Hawkeye because... well, back in the 70s, it was clear Hawkeye was the hip friend to Captain America.  And he was handsome, clever, and charming.  (I always liked playing the hot guys.  Charisma 18+ FTW).   But, kind of an empty slate, really.  At least from my reading, which admittedly wasn't terribly deep.  Laun was always the bigger Avengers fan.

I'm not sure the reboot does Clint any favors.  He's constantly upstaged by more interesting cameos, including one by his adoptive dog, Arrow (shown above.) HAWKEYE: Little Shot has a series of misadventures with the women in Clint's life, complete with Romance Comics style covers, in between each section.

But, a lot of people called each other 'bro,' and a lot of the action was kind of disjointed in a way that made me feel... tired, and too old for this title.  Also?  Who prints this stuff so small?  I needed my reading glasses!

Yet, I'm glad I read it.  There was a tiny little throw-away scene that kind of fascinated me.  It showed PowerMan (aka Luke Cage) and Spider-Man (Peter Parker, 'natch) sitting around Avengers/Stark Tower playing video games.  Peter was in his Spidey suit, like he often is, hanging upside down with his legs crossed, like he does, and apparently getting his ass kicked by Cage.  It occurred to me that I bet Spider-Man sucks at video games.  I bet he sucks because a big part of his ability is his Spidey Sense.  I bet he spends a lot of time getting blind-sided by stuff that seems, from his perspective, to come out of nowhere.

Also, can we talk, Peter?  You were the only guy in "uniform" at the mansion/tower.  What's that about?  (Truth? I suspect it's because Parker is actually intentionally nondescript.)

Well, so I guess my recommendation:  Go ahead, give a try, with a caveat--it's very... arty, maybe 'modern' even.  I don't even know if that's a bug or a feature.  Milage will vary.

And, in other news, there *is* video from Wednesday night:



It's a lot of reading, but if you want to hear my squee about Anime and random things, skip to the last five minutes or so.

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