Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: Out With Dad 2.11 "Out With Doubts" (part 2)

I plan to finish my over-written analysis of “Out With Doubts” in this entry no matter what!  Here goes:

Kenny and Alicia make a nice little appearance in this episode.  Kenny is being Kenny, acting all goofy while asking Alicia to the dance.  Though some people might worry too much about what observers would thin of such antics, Kenny isn’t worried about such stuff.  Alicia seems very pleased with his behavior.  She seems like a smart and sensitive girl.  They do make a cute couple, as noted by Claire.

And here’s where we get to the big event of this episode: Claire wants Rose to go to the dance with her.  As a date.  Or as friends.  But Rose isn’t keen on the idea.  She says she isn’t ready, and I’d agree that she certainly isn’t.  To secure Rose’s feelings about out to the general public, she encounters some classmates who are concerned about a lesbian being in the girls locker room.  The girls suspect Claire is gay and don’t thin it’s fair for her gym class to have to change in front of her if she is.  This is an interesting view, and one I’ve heard before in different circumstances.  It was, in fact, the number one reason stated by the US Military back in the 90’s when President Clinton tried to remove the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.  Though I understand where the girls get their idea, I don’t agree with their point.  Changing in front of a gay person isn’t the same as changing in front of someone of the opposite sex.  Mostly because of the lack of anatomical difference.  If they were being harassed in the locker room by another girl that would be an issue, but that’s not their complaint.

The episode ends with a great scene with Rose and her Dad.  Allow me first to praise the chemistry between Kate Conway and Will Conlon.  They interact so naturally with each other that it’s hard to believe they aren’t really related.  After his difficult encounter, Dad needs a hug and Rose’s reaction is priceless.  He also asks her about encountering homophobia, but she denies any such problems.  She shrugs off such things because “This is Toronto”.  This brings up some good points.  First, it is telling that she and her dad are encountering homophobia in what would be considered by most people to be a place very friendly to people who are not heterosexual.  I do imagine it would be worse for them if they lived in an area such as South Carolina, where the general population is much less tolerant of homosexuality.  Of course, there are plenty of place on this Earth where there is almost no tolerance for homosexuality.  So let me give Canada credit for having a society that, though not perfect, is way ahead of other societies on our planet!

The conversation between Nathan and Rose concerning relationships is excellent.  Nathan’s parental instincts are right on concerning Rose’s internal conflict over her feelings for the unattainable Vanessa and her growing attraction to the ready and willing Claire. Nathan sees the similarities with his situation with Angela.  And once again, he passes on the opportunity to tell his daughter that he’s dating.  C’mon man!  Ya gotta tell her!!  I think it’s important to notice the ease Nathan has when talking with his daughter about her attraction to other girls.  It shows how he accepts her for who she is.  Thinking back to Claire’s mother, I think in such a situation she would try, but cringe a bit and have a much harder time talking about it.  In the end, Rose’s dad gives her some good advice, but it’s going to be up to Rose to decide what she wants to do.  I was going to say that if I were she I’d go to the dance with Claire.  But, I wouldn’t want to go to a dance, ever, so that’s not really true.  Which gives me the thought that maybe she should tell Claire that she’d like to do something else with her.  Perhaps something less public.  But it would be a dramatic visual to have them go to the dance together…

So as you read this you may be thinking this puts me totally in the “team Claire” camp.  But that’s not true.  I just don’t think Rose has an obligation to Vanessa to sit around and wait for Vanessa to become available someday, somehow.  Rose is 15 and she should be socializing a bit and spending time with other girls to see what she does and doesn’t like.  Plus, I think finding other teenage girls who are gay or bisexual wouldn’t be easy. (I don’t really know…I’ve never tried.)  Therefore, she should see how much she likes the ones she does meet.  Maybe her and Claire will become a romantic couple, maybe she will eventually get together with Vanessa officially, or maybe she’ll never get serious with either and meet someone else down the road.  So…does that mean I’m “team Vanessa” or “team Claire”?  Nope…I’m neither.  I just want Rose to be happy.  And you know a work of fiction is very well done when you’re emotionally invested in a character enough to be worried about their future.

Well, one more episode to go this season.  I’m anxious to see the finale, but I also wish the season didn’t have to end!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review: Out With Dad 2.11 "Out With Doubts" (part 1)

Before I get to my thought about the latest episode of Out With Dad, I wanted to post some links to some OWD-related items.

First, if you haven’t watched this video by Livi, you should do so now!  It features appearances by Kate Conway and Lindsey Middleton and incorporates theme from the show.  The song itself is incorporated into the latest episode of OWD.  If you’re thinking “Livi who?”  she’s an uber-talented Canadian singer/songwriter.

Next, you should watch this announcement by some members of the cast of Out With Dad, especially if you like rocks!

Hopefully those of you in or near Canada (and having a valid passport) will be able to attend the party and have fun while supporting this wonderful show.

Upon further viewing, I’m not sure if the rock thing was intentional.  I hope no one is disappointed if they don’t get a rock…

But now, on to “Out With Doubts”, the latest episode of Out With Dad.  As always, Jason has my brain revolving as I try to digest the developments that happen to our cast!

I think I’ll start with Ryan Brown.  Yes!  Ryan Brown!  I’m so happy to finally “meet” him.  And though he has no lines, his personality shines through with his actions and Vanessa’s comments about him.  I’ve wanted to see what he’s like since she first mentioned him a few episodes (and many months by out time scale) ago.  Ryan is a quiet kid who gets picked on.  I hope his relationship with Vanessa is making him feel better about himself and giving him some confidence.  I’d think it would be hard to pick on the kids when he’s hanging out with her all the time.  After all, what does he care what other kids think when he’s with the girl he’s “totally in love with”?  The other guys are no doubt just jealous, anyway!  Which brings up a potentially difficult situation: what happens if Ryan finds out about Vanessa’s sexual orientation?  We the viewers don’t really know for sure if Vanessa is gay or bisexual or what.  But all someone has to do is find out about Rose and then they might suspect Vanessa and then they might harass Ryan…(Something like “You idiot!  You’re in love with a lesbian!”) it would be totally stupid, yes.  But people act stupid sometimes.  And of course, I think Ryan’s a nice friendly kid, but he may have been raised to believe homosexuality is sinful, and if he heard something, suspected something, or Vanessa told him something, he might turn against her.  Or believe that he really is an idiot for falling for her.

Well, that sure is a lot of contemplation I’ve done about a character that appears for about two seconds!

By the way:  Vanessa’s back!!  Though the above pretty much covers what she’s been up to lately.  Her news about how her mother seems to have forgotten Rose exists sounds like the typical reaction her mother has when she doesn’t agree with someone’s lifestyle.  I don’t see Vanessa getting permission to spend time with Rose anytime soon.  If she wants to see Rose, she’s going to have to sneak it in.  Which will be disastrous if she gets caught.

On we go to Claire.  She’s still being Claire as she disrupts Rose’s English class with some sophomoric hijinks.  Okay, I’m being intentionally over-critical of her behavior.  Really, she seems to be taking an opportunity to be funny without thinking about the consequences.  Her outgoing personality and desire to make Rose smile make it very easy for a viewer to like her.  And she seems to have Vanessa worried.

Nathan has one of those moments in life you hate.  This scene is based on an event that happened in Writer/Director Jason Leaver’s life. Though I’ve never been in a meeting such as this, I’ve had encounters with prejudice people who just seem to assume I’ll agree with their prejudices. There’s really nothing Nathan can say or do that will change the homophobic thoughts and actions of his client.  He has to sit there and bite his tongue.  If he said something it certainly would lose him some needed money and change nothing about the client.  You would think the idiot would have realized his story wasn’t entertaining to Nathan and his colleague by their lack of reaction to his tale.  When I went back to re-watch this episode, this scene was hard to watch again.  It’s frustrating and makes me want to reach into the screen and do something Nathan can’t!  Well done to the actors and Jason Leaver!

Wow!  I can’t believe I’ve written this much and haven’t even gotten to the big decisions ahead for Rose!  I’m just going to post what I have here now and write more later.  I’ll post part two of my review as soon as I get it done!

See you then!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (book)

Two introductory items today:  First, I read a lot.  Not just comic books, but all kinds of books, plus newspapers and online news and various other stuff.  I think reading is the key to knowledge and entertainment.  Truth is, I’d rather read than watch TV or see a movie. There are some TV shows and movies I love to watch, but generally I like to read more.

Second, I don’t like to see a movie based on a book unless I’ve read the book first.  As a rule, the book is always better anyway.  I can think of only 1 or 2 examples where the movie is better than the book.  It’s a very rare occurrence.

This is why I recently made a goal to read the book The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is shelved with the “tween” books at my local library.  I’ll readily admit my tween years were long long ago.  However, I really enjoy reading a lot of books that fall under the younger readers category.  I recommend to everyone not to be limited by such labels, and read whatever you think sounds good, not what falls under some arbitrary category.

As to the book itself: I couldn’t put it down!!  It was very engrossing.  I thought it did a good job keeping the action moving and staying unpredictable.  And it’s very easy to be predictable in an action adventure.  Some stories seem to follow a checklist, and especially when the plot of the Hunger Games involves eliminating opponents in a contest.

Speaking of which, let me give you a spoiler-light rundown of the plot.  The Hunger Games takes place on a future dystopian Earth, in a country that sits where the United States currently is.  The main character, Katniss Everdeen, lives in the lowest class district in a rigid caste system.  There are 12 lower castes who must send young representatives to compete in a deadly contest.  The contest is held for the entertainment of the upper class and to show the lower class where they stand in the world.  This is class warfare!

The buildup to the games tells how hard life is for Katniss and her family and how her illegal hunting keeps them fed.  Katniss’ survival skills will help her later in the arena.  The story also does a great job showing the excesses of the upper class, and the power they have over everyone else.  There really seems no alternative to the other classes than to follow the inhumane rules out forth by their leaders.

Like any good story, the key is for the reader to become emotionally involved with the fates of the characters.  I found myself really rooting for Katniss and several other contestants, though I knew the rules only allowed one person to survive the arena.  And though I was confident that Katniss would make it through the book, the fates of the other characters were not as obvious.

I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy and hoping the ruling class gets their comeuppance in the end.  In other words, I want a truly happy ending.  Other than some Kirby comics, I don’t usually care for dystopian fiction, because I don’t read to get depressed, and I have a more positive outlook for our future.  I think this series will be a fun read no matter what, but I think it will be better if I get the ending I’m hoping for!

(Next week I plan to review the latest episode of Out With Dad.  It was released yesterday, but I need to watch it a few more times to get my thoughts straight!)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mutant Elf 3 step sketch

Today I’m posting some drawings for my Mutant Elf comic.  I did this sketch to work on coloring the characters, and scanned it after each step.  I’m determined to do Mutant Elf hand-lettered and hand-colored, and I think it’s looking pretty good so far, though there are some spots I need to work on still.
Pencil sketch.  It's very sketchy because I know I'm inking it myself and I know which lines to pick out.

Add the black ink. 

And finally the color! All done!! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Review: The Avengers (movie & comic)

I finally got a chance to see the Avengers movie, and I was wondering if I should review it here.  After all, there are soooo many other reviews of it around the Internet, why add one more?  But hey, why not?  My viewpoint is uniquely mine so why not write it up!
Avengers #1.  Note: they fought Loki!!

 Before I discuss the popular movie, I believe I should discuss the Avengers comic.  Over the years, the Avengers has been the Marvel comic I most consistently enjoy and read.  I have purchased the Essential Avengers reprints of all the stuff that was released in the time before I started reading comics regularly.  The Avengers was one of the comics that I kept a subscription to starting back in grade school and continuing through high school.  There’s almost always something good happening in the Avengers.  Usually when a good writer mixes up interesting characters that have their own hit solo books with interesting characters that just aren’t popular enough to keep a solo title going.  And before I continue I should note that the Avengers was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Just the greatest comic team ever!!!

My favorite Avengers from the comics don’t appear in the Avengers movie.  However, my favorite Avenger is the Beast, and he appeared in a couple X-Men movies.  That’s because when I started reading the Avengers the Beast hadn’t been an X-Man for a while, and he didn’t become one again for a while.  My next favorite is Hank Pym, one of the founding Avengers from issue #1.  It’s too bad they couldn’t work him into the movie, but I have hopes for an Ant Man movie someday….
This was the first issue of the Avengers I ever read!

Concerning the Avengers chosen for the movie, I have to say I like the group.  Marvel has done an excellent job making good movies about their properties.  They aren’t perfect, and there’s usually something that bugs me about the lack of faithfulness of each interpretation, but they have been good movies.  Iron Man, in fact, is my favorite super hero movie and an excellent movie period.  I think they did a great job with Captain America, and I’d rate it as good as Iron Man 2.  And Thor wasn’t nearly as good as the other two, but it was still good.  In fact, I thought it was better than most of the comments and reviews I read about it before I saw it.  These three characters (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America) are considered by comic book geeks as the “big 3” of the Avengers.  The Avengers aren’t the same without at least one of these guys around and they are necessary for a movie about the group.  The Hulk was more of an interesting call.  He was a founding member of the group, but quit in the second issue!  But he was handled practically perfectly in the movie, and he greatly enhanced the story!  Hawkeye and the Black Widow were both created as antagonists for Iron Man.  However, neither was really evil, and eventually they would both become Avengers.  Hawkeye is considered a “second tier” Avenger by many fans.  He’s one of the favorites beyond the “big 3”.  He’s also always been a bit of a cocky jerk and walked the line between being a great team player and challenging authority whenever possible. The Black Widow is a former Avengers leader and former love interest of Hawkeye.  I wish the movie would have taken their relationship a little further romantically.  (The Marvel movies have done very well with the romance so far.

 The movie did an excellent job giving every character something to do.  This is always hard with the Avengers because they are usually a mixture of people with great powers and people who are just a touch above a normal person.  And the movie didn’t just give them all something to do in battle, but gave them each some kind of personal challenge to overcome also.  I don’t think the movie has any glaring bad moments.  I enjoyed the entire movie, and I have to say it competes with Iron Man as that “best ever” super hero movie title!!  I’ll have to see how I feel after repeated viewings at home.
Avengers cover by George Perez, master of the crowd scene!

I also hope the success of the movie will get Marvel making some great Avengers comic book again.  You see, the sad code to this blog post is that I haven’t read a new issue of the Avengers in years.  Somewhere, they got away from the types of stories and teams that made the book great for decades.  They’ve attached too much crap to some of the older characters, and they have people like Wolverine and Spider-Man, who just don’t belong, on the roster.  But maybe I’ll try to check out some Avengers comics this summer.  Hopefully, there’s something out there.  I certainly recommend lots of the older books.  Anything associated with names like Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, David Micheline, Roger Stern, or Kurt Busiek I highly recommend!

Well, that was rather long!  But I’ll still be back here in a week or less with something else to write about!