Monday, February 1, 2016

Review: Out Clubbing & Counselling Vanessa - Session one (OWD 4.07 & 4.08)

Episode 4.07 of Out With Dad is called "Out Clubbing" and it revolves around Rose and new/old friend Owen recapping their night at some night spots.  The main thrust of the episode is getting Rose to admit she'd like to date someone, since it has been 3 years since the Claire/Vanessa debacle. Rose tries to set up Owen with a date of his own and he agrees if Rose will try to get a date with a girl she met in a club.

That's really about it for this episode, except that the conversation is very interesting, fun, and realistic.  This is truly a change of pace from the previous episodes of this season and I liked it a lot.  I see that fans are still upset at the pace of this season, but this looks like it will shake things up.

Oh, and Rose asks "shaved head girl" out for tea.  Tea!  A OWD staple!

And now we turn out attention to Vanessa.

Set  shortly after the end of season 3, Vanessa seeks counselling on her Father's recommendation to deal with the traumas she endured after running away.  We find out why she didn't return to school, and we find out how afraid she is.  This episode sets the stage for the future of Vanessa.

Lindsey Middleton is sad and somewhat creepy in her portrayal of Vanessa in this episode. It seems almost too real, and it really shook me up after seeing this one.  This is also a bit of a shock after the light-hearted "Clubbing" episode discussed above.

I'm not sure what else to say but, my does creator/writer/director Jason Leaver come up with some engaging stories!  Lucky for me there's more out right now to watch!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Warning Band

I'm determined to keep on bloggin' and I'm going way out of my usual territory to comment on some people I just can't stop thinking about. Or more specifically, listening to. And this is very different for me because I don't listen to much new music at all!

I chanced upon watching this group of youngsters playing covers of some really rocking songs, and they just floored me!  The group is called The Warning, and they are a trio of sisters from Mexico who can absolutely rock.  Daniela, Paulina, and Alejandra are performing songs I could never imagine a "girl group" could pull off, much less a group whose eldest member is 15 years old (or maybe 16 by now--but something like that)! I play a little guitar (and no, I don't mean a ukulele), and I wish I had a quarter of the talent these girls have.  They really know their stuff! They plat most songs as a power trio (guitar, bass, drums) though from what I've seen and read they can also play some piano and saxophone.

The girls have even recorded some really cool original songs. I have a problem picking out my favorite. Right now I'd go with "Free Falling" as my favorite original song and "Resistance" as my favorite cover.

I don't know what else to say but I hope everyone reading this can check them out and give it a listen...I think you'll be impressed!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: OWD 4.05 & 4.06

It's about time I catch up on Out With Dad!  I'm really trying to blog more about this and other things. other things have been more on my mind lately, plus I haven't been very good at keeping these postings weekly, but here goes some commentary!

The last episode I commented on introduced Owen.  A lot has happened since then! Episode 4.05 is called "S'Mores with Dad" and features a campfire, a flashback, and a great conversation between Rose and Nathan.

Most importantly, this episode discusses the correct way to roast marshmallows.  Nathan totally has it right.  What's the point of blackened sugar?  Marshmallows should be nice and brown, a little crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.  At least that's how I used to do it.  I hated them black.  But eventually I realized I don't really care for marshmallows at all.  Except when holding together cereal treats, of course!

Then the conversation turns to Vanessa. Rose hasn't talked about Vanessa to anyone for three years apparently.  But she wants to now (which is nice for us viewers). She talks of the great times she spent with Vanessa when she liked but didn't like-like her.  The innocent times of youth and ignorance.  Rose notes that her coming out was what destroyed her and Vanessa's perfect relationship. We also find out Rose wrote an article when she was 16 that told of her school's refusal to allow a GSA. The article was published in a national newspaper.

Nathan's words to his daughter caution her of looking back too fondly on the past.  Remembering the good times is okay, but we have to press on and there's a lot of good things ahead.  Rose became a productive member of a community and helped bring about social change.  Is this more important than keeping a best friend?


Episdoe 4.06 is called "Elephants in the room with Alicia" and starts with the sweetest little cameo by Claire, which really expresses the real-life situation of having the money and time to bring Caitlynne Medrek back for an appearance on season 4.

But the main thrust of the episode is Rose and Alicia discussing their past loves. Starting with Kenny, who has unfortunately become a pot-head loser since High School. Which really upsets me, as he was my favorite character.  Though he was a slacker, I always figured he'd have some niche to make his life have meaning.  At least it's hard to feel sorry for Alicia for not being with him anymore.

Concerning Claire, they talk about how no one was to blame, and it was bad timing.  We also find out Claire has a girlfriend. Yay!  Good for her!  And that's about all that's new, but there is a sense of anticipation that maybe...Rose and Claire can have a reunion of sorts some day.

And I know I've gone on and on in the past about how much I like Kate Conway, but did I mention lately that Laura Jabalee is just adorable?  Well, now I did!

Okay, that's two episodes down and...I need to get busy!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review: The Shannara Chronicles

Terry Brooks is my all-time favorite writer, and the Elfstones of Shannara is my all-time favorite book.  I'd go as far to say that it is the best book ever written, and the book that cemented me as a life-long Brooks fan.  There have been several times in the past when the rights to turn the story into a movie have been bought, but nothing ever came from such projects.  Until now.

MTV has debuted The Shannara Chronicles, which is currently airing every Tuesday and will consist of 10 episodes, adapting the Elfstones and, hopefully, setting up further seasons adapting other books.  So, now I can review the first 2 episodes and give my thoughts about the show.

First, the good: The visuals are stunning! They have gone to a great length giving this world a unique fantasy feel.  It has a great mix of classic fantasy and post-apocalyptic background.  This really expresses the magic of Brook's world, and separates it from other fantasy stories.
Also, the acting is super!  The characters really come to life, at least so far.  The actors have the look and feel of the book characters, as far as I'm concerned.  With the exception of Amberle not having the bright red hair I picture her with.
Finally, the show is full of action and suspense.  The villains are deadly and scary and there is danger around every corner!  You get the feel that the good guys don't have a chance!

Now the bad:  Apparently the original story is too full of drama and characterization, so the writers of the TV series decided to change it.  The plot is totally different, with the plot and settings changed a lot. It's still a good, dramatic story. But it isn't (so far) as exciting or interesting as the book.  It begs the question: when you're working with the greatest book ever written, why would you change so much?  It seems to me it would be smarter to change as little as possible.  Apparently, Brooks is okay with the changes.  But still, to me this is allowing inferior writers to mess with perfection.  Bah! I say!

Oh, well.  I'm still enjoying things.  Just not as much as I could.  Hopefully this show encourages a new generation to pick up some Shannara books, so they can see why they are so great!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Project

I've made a decision.  I have, reluctantly, decided to post my Mutant Elf webcomic on a bi-weekly schedule.  Mutant Elf has been weekly since it began, never missing a deadline. (After all, it's only one page a week...not so hard.) I'm not changing it to bi-weekly because I've slowed down on my output, though.  I'm changing it so I have time to work on my new project.  The new project will also be bi-weekly, being posted on the Sundays that Mutant Elf is not posted.  So it's the same number of comics, just spread over two series.

But what is this new series?  It's called "Mutant Animals vs. Zombies vs. Machines vs. Humans.  I think of it as the ultimate end-of-civilization scenario.  Hopefully it will be fun and dramatic.  It gives me a chance to flex some different creative muscles, while not being too serious.  The first page will go up this Sunday, but here's a preview of that page in it's early stages:

It's a new year, and awesome stuff is coming, I'm sure.  So I'm trying to do my part and be as awesome as I can!  Please check out the new strip every other Sunday!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: SW: The Force Awakens

Okay.  I saw the new Star Wars movie.  And I’m going to write about it now.  Many spoilers ahead, but they’re needed for me to have an honest conversation.

When I first saw Star Wars (A New Hope—which it wasn’t called yet) it changed my life.  It was the first time I became a super-fan of something.  I lived every day thinking about Star Wars, playing Star Wars, and drawing Star Wars stuff. I really learned how to draw because of Star Wars.
“Extended Universe” is the common term for non-Lucas Movie Star Wars stories.  I’ve been reading extended universe tales since they first began, with Marvel’s Star Wars #7, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and Han Solo at Star’s End.  I even watched the Holiday Special. I’m not a huge nut about extended universe stuff, though.  There are good and bad stories done by authors other than Lucas. But what I want to discuss here is stories that are follow-ups to Return of the Jedi.  The post-Jedi extended universe stories I think work the best are the ones that have the heroes facing a new and different threat than they faced in the movies.  The worst stories just try to bring back the Empire, rehash old ideas, and even bring in copy-cat villains including actual clones of old villains!  That story has been told, and it ended.  The best post-Jedi stories bring in new alien menaces, or mess up the status quo. The Yuuzhan Vong, or the Jedi/ Imperial Knights/Sith of Legacy are good examples of this.

The Force Awakens chooses to recreate the Empire, including new versions of  Vader, Palpatine, and Tarkin. The story itself is extremely derivative of the first movie.  There’s very little new to see here.
However, the new stuff is very good!

The new good guys are excellent.  Rey is an excellent character, perfectly played and developed.  She’s another example of a sympathetic character (I discussed this on an old blog entry) who is an orphan.  You see her struggle and feel for her when she triumphs or is in danger.  She’s a survivor and a loner but is still excellent when she interacts with the rest of the cast. Finn is also excellent.  It’s great to see a character that changes sides and he’s funny and believable.  His best scenes are definitely with Rey and they have a great chemistry. Poe is a hotshot pilot and a dedicated soldier, but little else.  BB-8 doesn’t do anything R2 couldn’t have done, so I was least impressed by him.

The new bad guys are weak.  As I said above they are just versions of old characters.  But they aren’t very menacing or competent in their villainy.  They get beat too easily, especially by Finn who doesn’t have any special powers except his knowledge as a former Stormtrooper. The new Emperor-type guy is goofy looking.  The new Vader is weak and almost incompetent.  The new Death Star is the ultimate power in the universe…but we’ve been down that road before.  As I said before, using Empire-type bad guys doesn’t work well after Jedi.  The Empire was a threat because they ruled the galaxy.  The Rebels were the little guys standing up to the bully.  Bringing back the Empire, even under a new name, makes them the underdog.  You need a new type of threat to have a sense of impending doom that a desperate group of good guys must face.

The old good guys showing up again went well I think.  Ford is always good and Mayhew deserves a lot more credit than he gets for emoting so well under all that fur.  I still have a crush on Carrie Fisher, and she played her role well, especially the emotional conversations with Han and her reaction when she feels him die.  The best return of the original cast was Mark Hamill.  I know he didn’t do much, but he looked amazing.  Much more Jedi-like than I imagined!

I guess I’ll end with one random comment.  For a movie that was extremely derivative of the first film, there was one exception I didn’t like.  The original had early scenes with Luke on Tatooine that were filmed but left out of the final cut.  Lucas liked the droids leading the viewers to Luke instead of having him introduced earlier.  I would have liked TFA to have done this with Rey.  The scenes of her life before she meets BB-8 do show us what she’s like, but I think the idea could have been incorporated into the story after she meets BB-8.  It slows down the narrative too much, and I thought there were way too many slow spots in this movie.

So, while I liked the movie, it isn’t nearly as good as the Lucas Star Wars movies.  It’s not even as good as previous post-Jedi tales. But perhaps the next installment will be more original and better overall!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Post Genghis Con

I had a blast at Genghis Con this last Sunday. Genghis Con is a great little small press/underground comics show in Lakewood, Ohio.  This was my second year with a table at this show, and I hope I get to do it again!

The show is a great experience because of the other creators and the attendees that come through the hall.  There is a feel of true camaraderie among the artists and writers who show their stuff at shows such as these.  We are not people who make a living off the comics we are producing, but rather people putting our artistic souls into something we love!  You won't see a variety of this scope at a mainstream comics event.  This is where people go wild and end up with some downright fantastic stuff!

The guests I talked to were a combination of fans of small press comics and first-time attendees wanting to check out what's available at the show.  Everyone was super nice to me, and many expressed how impressed they were with the artistic endeavors they were seeing.  Hopefully, they do a good job promoting the event and the artists they liked.

I'd like to thank the folks who put this event together, the folks who were nice enough to talk to me, and especially the folks
who made a purchase at my table.  It means a lot to me that someone is interested in my work, be it comics or related art, and interested enough to spend some of their hard-earned cash! I also picked up a couple comics while I was there, and I will be commenting on them here when I get through reading them!