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Robust McManlyPants on Average Display » comics

comics


Heavens. I can’t believe I let this sit for 10 months. A quick run-down of the things that have happened since my last update:

  • I won the 2012 Laine Cunningham Novel Award from The Blotter with my novel Perishables. It’s three connected stories about various experiences of a zombie apocalypse. In one of them, a vampire is at a meeting of his homeowners’ association when the dead rise. It’s a little silly and a little funny and a little serious and it has terrible recipes in it.
  • I published Perishables via Smashwords and Kindle and then decided to edit and publish the sequel, called Tooth & Nail. It’s built on a heavily edited NaNoWriMo I did some years ago about the same vampire.
  • I worked the partisan primary runoff election and my staff never mentioned the O’Keefe video. I’m sure they had seen it, but no one brought it up. I was intensely grateful.
  • I worked the general election in November. Jesus H. Christ on a platinum surfboard, what a day. I’ve never been so busy. It was busier than the partisan primary but the county gave me lots of staff and we all survived. There were partisan observers from both major parties in my precinct but they were very kind to me and to one another. Again, I’m sure lots of those people had seen the video but no one said anything. I was at least ten times as grateful because I had plenty more to think about that day. I also passed the election without any major run-ins with campaigners though I did have a couple of really amusing conversations with them.
  • I spent much of last autumn thinking about Tooth & Nail while I did a few promotional activities for Perishables: interviews on blogs and podcasts, for instance, and a few Google Hangouts with a group devoted to zombie fiction fandom. It was nice, after all the stupid bullshit of a year ago, to have a fictional world in which I could curl up and forget reality.
  • I ran my first 5K fun-run last October and my friend who is 6’7″ and ex-Army Airborne had trouble keeping up with me.
  • I spent November, December and January editing Tooth & Nail and dealing with my next-to-last class in the graduate certificate program I’ve been pursuing. I was kind of a stress ball.
  • I’ve spent the spring semester dealing with my last class and I still am kind of a stress ball.
  • I tried to play in two games of Call of Cthulhu at Dragon*Con last year, both of which were disastrous busts. I ended up running a one-shot for the Scourge of Nibelheim (aka “the Vampire group”) a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it but it ran too long and I didn’t get to include like half the stuff I came up with for it because I am just terrible at managing a game and remembering, you know, the poignant bits.
  • I had Shadowrun pretty much ruined for me, and for all my friends, by one really terrible game of it at Dragon*Con. Way to stay classy, totally-separate-and-self-isolating-and-aggressively-dickishly-insular Shadowrun Dragon*Con gaming track.
  • I ran my first timed 5K a few weeks ago and on a cloudy, rainy morning of running uphill at ~40F I clocked in at 25:13.6, 7th out of 46. I am extremely happy with that!
  • I’ve learned to love Twitter. Seriously, I used to say it was the diametric opposite of what I wanted the Internet to grow up to be but it is pretty great.
  • I gave a five-minute lightning talk at the opensource.com #cc10 get-together celebrating 10 years of Creative Commons:

  • I’m approximately two years behind on reading comics. I plan to catch up as soon as I finish this graduate certificate program next month.
  • I’ve been asked to contribute a short story to an anthology built around the theme of “invasion” and am currently mulling some ideas. I am super-excited!
  • I attended my twenty year high school reunion and survived it and even reconnected majorly with some really wonderful people I knew back in the day. Facebook and life in general have gotten a lot more entertaining as a result.
  • I’ve joined a queer softball league.
  • I’m going to be a guest at ConCarolinas in Charlotte the weekend of 5/31 through 6/2!
  • I want the word “marriage” and I want to win the Supreme Court cases, absolutely, but I am also a little bit afraid that the queer communities will be divided into “normals” and “freaks” if we win and that the Right will use our victory as an opportunity to draw a line between those of us who are already primed for idle conformity: relatively moneyed, adhering more closely to rigid gender roles and identities, white, middle-class, “safe”. It will be vital, if we win this, to remember that it still must be okay to be different. Difference is what has given us the culture we create and celebrate together and difference has given us the advantages we are afforded by outsider status in the larger culture around us. We must continue to value people who have different families, different identities, different relationships (or none at all), different goals, different priorities and different beliefs. We do not all have to settle down into quiet, monogamous, dom/sub, top/bottom dichotomies defined by doggy day care and dinner parties. We have to stay freaks somehow.
  • My house is ruled by my cats and sometimes I find that really frustrating but mostly I am thrilled beyond measure at their benevolent dictatorship.
  • I’ve been watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9 while at the gym and it is really fucking good.
  • Last year I skipped NaNoWriMo – what would have been my tenth – to focus on editing Tooth & Nail. This summer I’m doing My Own Private NaNo to work on the first draft of a science fiction novel, the setting for which was developed in a two-session game of Microscope played by Scourge of Nibelheim.
  • We tried Fiasco this year and it is so. Freaking. Fun.
  • I bought a new camera – an Olympus – and I loooooove it.

Is that everything? I think that’s everything. A year of blogging in a single post. Heavens, indeed.

Some recent posts by me at Pink Kryptonite, where I post as Klarion:

Reviews in Descending Chronological Order:
Stumptown #1
Models, Inc. (#1 through #4)
Detective Comics #858 & #859
X-Factor #50
X-Factor #49

Gift Suggestions, Likewise:
The Authority: Relentless
Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.
Incognito

My favorite thing about the term “stocking stuffer,” which is how I categorize my gift suggestions on the site, is that in the context of gender-play and queerness it can be interpreted as vaguely but inspecifically dirty, inspiring the imagination.

I’ve joined the staff of the gay-reader-targeted comics blog Pink Kryptonite, under the pen name of Klarion (as in, the Witch-Boy). Pink Kryptonite is in the same family of sites as GayGamer.net and PopSucker. Mainly I confess to being largely ignorant of the deep history of backstory, retcons and reboots – what with only really getting to read comics as an adult – and focus on writing about comics that currently entertain me. Also I write about how awesome Grant Morrison is.

Do you hear me, Grant Morrison? If I say your name three times, will you appear? Grant Morrison.

Not only is it Guy Fawkes Night, and thus important to anyone who loved V for Vendetta (and hates seeing wingnuts who get their rocks off on authoritarian bullshit try to claim that book as a metaphor for their own rage bone), it’s also the day the flux capacitor was invented.

And seriously, Sandman is twenty years old? Nearly twenty one? Good grief.

I’ve started reading DC’s Detective Comics for the first time in years upon years upon years. What was once the homestead of Batman is now about Batwoman with a B-side about Gotham City PD Detective Renee Montoya moonlighting as a vigilante known as The Question.

The initial reason I returned to this is that both characters are lesbians and it’s very rare to find gay women in mainstream comics. It is legitimately refreshing to see a mainstream, superhero, action comic pass the Bechtel test. Between Detective Comics, the name of which would be written in eighty-foot-high letters of chiseled granite on any landscape of comics history, and Buffy Season 8 there are at least two such comics out there so we may actually be at the high point of that standard.

Upon reading the first issue that’s solely about Batwoman (well, almost solely) I found that it’s actually a really good comic book. The writing is classic Detective Comics – it’s about a dedicated anti-hero whose neglected mess of a personal life takes a back seat to what they see as the much more important work of fighting crime. In the fine tradition of Gotham City crime-fighters, Batwoman is someone whose obsession with justice and revenge could just as easily have turned her into a villain and now she tries to strike a balance between doing her job and enjoying it too much.

As for the art… well. I’ll be honest, the artwork actually made me gasp. It is amazing. Batwoman’s costume is black with red highlights – a fire engine red bat logo, gauntlets and long wig to match the shorter and artificially red hair under it – and scene after scene is in those classic black, shadowy gray and misty blue colors that make anyone think of Gotham City. When Batwoman descends on her foes from above we get two-page murals of violence in mid-swing against a backdrop of rich crimson. The artistry devoted to the faces of the characters – the set of her jaw as she attacks the same people who put her in the hospital two years ago, the sick little smile of Batwoman as she tells a pummeled flunky to whisper his information into her ear, the quaver of fear in that flunky’s chin – is equally remarkable. I read #854 in bed and actually woke The Boyf up a couple of times to make him look at something.

Covers that, for me, express the dynamism of the art can be seen here: #854, #855. The art in this book is simply beautiful. I get more excited about reading Detective Comics than any other book to which I subscribe. I should note that this is probably all Aaron’s fault.

I grew up in a tiny community in the middle of nowhere in the Appalachians. Naturally, there was no comic book store anywhere near me. As such, my childhood comics reading was limited to the half-dozen or so titles kept (more or less) in stock on the magazine rack at the gas station down the road and the pervasive attitude was that comics were at best a disreputable form of entertainment rightly kept out of sight.

I paint this Orwellian Rockwellian picture not to revel in nostalgia but to explain that when I was a kid I basically didn’t know diddle about comics and the one title to which I had reliable access on a monthly basis was the DC “Star Trek” series that followed the original crew through new and revisited adventures. The best by far was the multi-issue storyline where they help lead a coup d’etat in the Mirror, Mirror universe. Also, Mirror David Marcus is a butch, IIRC. (RIP, Merritt Butrick.)

For this reason – and years of fanboy-grade devotion – when Buffy: Season 8 started up it felt right and natural to subscribe. A lot of times comics adaptations feel to me like unnecessary retreads but a comics sequel or continuation feels like a great way to carry on with a story that isn’t done being told. Reading Buffy has been sufficiently gratifying – honestly, I could watch the Scooby Gang put up wallpaper and I’d enjoy it – that ever since I’ve been mulling over cancelled shows I’d love to see keep going in comics form:

  • Twin Peaks and don’t tell me it wouldn’t sell because it would sell.
  • Carnivale, another awesome show featuring Michael J. Anderson.
  • Invisible Man because anything that brings me more Vincent Ventresca is a very good thing.
  • Sifl & Olly, with one innovation: a code in each issue that allows the reader to download Sifl & Olly songs from the publisher’s website. I am here to tell you, that would make a million dollars. (Note: “million” may indicate some significantly smaller number as used on that sentence.)
  • Rockford Files, yes, for real, because that cocktail of class act plus ’70s swing would be perfect fodder for a quality adventure comic.

As an aside, writing this got me so nostalgiac for DC’s Star Trek title that I just bought the TPB collection of their Mirror, Mirror storyline for $6 and change online. Awesome.

Originally I wrote this as a draft for Pink Kryptonite, to which I’ll be contributing when they get my login created. However, the title has, between me writing the draft and putting this up, come true. The owner of the ticket for making comics out of BSG has announced they’re going to be doing a comics adaptation/continuation of Battlestar Galactica 1980. So, there’s that.