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!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Squad Car #2

I may have mentioned here or elsewhere that I’ve been doing some collaboration with other comic creators.  One of these is a story I drew that appear in Squad Car #2, published by Capricorn Comix .  It will be available a week from today at Genghis Con in Lakewood, Ohio (near Cleveland).  It can also be ordered from or you can e-mail me ( if you would like to purchase a copy!

I’m really looking forward to Genghis Con, which has free admission so there’s no reason not to come check it out!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: Reconnecting with Owen (OWD 4.04)

It’s been many a month since I commented on my favorite webseries, Out With Dad, so I think I’ll start to catch up now.

Season 4 continues every month.  I haven’t commented on an episode since “An Island Outing” in July.  August’s episode was called “Reconnecting with Owen”.  It’s a bit of a strange title, because although Rose spends this episode reconnecting, we the viewers haven’t seen Owen before, so we are being introduced to him, not reconnecting with him.  But the show isn’t about us anyway, it’s about Rose.  And Dad.

Owen is an old friend of Rose’s who is slightly older and has an obvious physical disability. We know he is not very limited by his disability because we quickly learn he drove across Canada by himself.  And Canada’s a pretty big place.  Owen is taking business classes. Owen doesn’t seem like a business person, but he seems a little aimless also, so I doubt he’ll get a business degree.  I think it’s interesting that Rose is studying journalism.  It does seem rather front-and-center a major for the self-professed shy person.  Also, Rose claims her high school grades weren’t great, which seems to contradict her previously established intelligence.  Perhaps her grades fell due to other circumstances distracting her?

By the way, the camera work during Rose’s telling of her high school Vanessa relationship is great!  It really emphasizes the hectic thoughts as Rose tries to explain it all to Owen.  His reaction is understandable.  Hopefully we’ll see more of Owen soon.  He seems really cool, and also I think he’s the guy friend Rose needs to talk with – the role Kenny used to fill.

Well, I’m one episode closer to getting caught up!  I’ll try to keep the reviews coming!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Review: Spooky Shenanigans

It’s been too long since I posted here on my blog.  I have a weekly goal, but life keeps getting in my way and I put off my posting.  Anyway, I still have a goal of getting new stuff here weekly, so maybe I will maintain that goal starting now!  I’m strangely talking about something that just ended today, but I always have a Halloween-oriented post, so this is my October reminisce.

My topic today is a bit different than my usual subjects, but I wanted to talk a bit about Cedar Point’s Halloweekend live show “Spooky Shenanigans”. First, let me explain to anyone who doesn’t know that Cedar Point is an amusement park here in northern Ohio.  Since I grew up in northern Ohio, I often say I grew up at Cedar Point.  I love the rides, especially the roller coasters.  But now that I have a family and the other members aren’t as excited going really fast really high, I spend considerably more time watching the live entertainment than I used to.  Yes, it’s not that I’m old and can’t handle the big rides as well as I used to, it’s just that I’m spending time with my family. Yep. That’s the story I’m sticking with.

Anyway, Cedar Point does this really nice Halloween thing in the fall called Halloweekends.  There are lots of really scary attractions with monsters screaming at you and intense scenes of horror.  But there are also some less scary, more family-friendly attractions that are just plain fun.  The best of these I’ve seen yet was this year’s Spooky Shenanigans live show.  The show featured some great costumes and characters singing and dancing their ways through the best ever setting:

The 1980s!  In High School! Yes!  Only the greatest decade ever--at least for pop music!  The show was a great nostalgic experience for me, as I was in High School in the 80s.  In fact, I think I knew a girl or two just like that Spidora chick!  The song selection was excellent, and they were performed extremely well by the cast.  We’re talking about a section that begins and ends with Huey Lewis and the News!  This show had me getting out my CDs and listening to some classic tunes! Nostalgia alone can’t keep my interest for too long, so I must also praise the cast of characters.  Each monster had his or her own little personality, which were so fun to watch as they interacted throughout the story-line.  My family and I noticed a lot of little touches, ad-libs, and subtle differences in the performances.  I must reiterate I’ve never had so much fun at a live show.

In general, I think Cedar Point has done a great job with live shows in recent years. I love the live bands throughout the park and on the beach, the theater shows are top notch, and the big nightly show (Luminosity) is awesome.  In many cases, I think the performers are so good I can’t believe they’re working at an amusement park!

Okay, I’m going to finish my rumination here.  I will try my hardest to keep this blog active.  I have a comic show at the end of the month to prepare for*, so hopefully I can post some previews of art I’ll have available there soon.  I just need to keep enough time aside during my preparations to keep blogging.  Though I’ll have a little more time since I don’t have Spooky Shenanigans to watch anymore.

*Genghis Con in Lakewood, Ohio on November 29th

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Statue Heroes

I continue to try and post some examples of art I have created here.  These are polymer clay statues I've done this year.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: Kayla-Hard Driving

Kayla: Hard Driving is a 24-hour comic by Lou Graziani I picked up at SPACE this year.  For those of you who don’t know, a 24-hour comic is a 24 pages comic totally written and drawn in 24 hours or less. It’s a technique used by artists to push themselves to be more efficient in getting their ideas out of their heads and on to paper.  I think this is a useful technique because there are far too many projects and ideas that never get developed but stay in someone’s brain as a “that would be cool” thought.  I don’t mean that every idea should be completed in 24 hours, but rather that if you can get something done in 24 hours, you should be able to get other things done when you have more time.

But on to my thoughts about Kayla: The main character in this comic is a young woman who is a computer hacker and is convinced the government is hiding secrets about aliens.  To expose the alien secrets she seduces and senator, hacks into government files, and calls in favors from friends, all in an effort to let the public know the truth about aliens.  This isn’t really a new idea, but I do like the main character, who is surprisingly well fleshed out given the constraints of the story.  Also, there is a sense of suspense as Kayla tries to avoid discovery while continuing to embark on bigger and bigger risks.  There is even a nice little twist to the ending.  Not too extreme, but clever.

The interior art is decent though not as nice as the cover, which I would think is due to the 24-hour constraints.  However, it is easy to follow the action and includes some rather complicated perspectives.  I think there’s less expectation for perfection artistically given the format, of course.  Part of the idea of doing something in a short time is allowing things not to be perfect in lieu of getting a product finished.

Lou has a nice website for this and his other comics, including Cy-Boar which is a clever title.  You can even read Kayla on his site, as well as other comics.  So check it out!  I’ll try to be back soon with more art and reviews!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Star Art

More of my recent Star Wars related drawings.  Did I mention I basically learned to draw drawing Star Wars stuff!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: Scribbles

Among my next few posts, I’m going to review some comics I picked up at SPACE- the small press convention held in Columbus, Ohio every year.

Scribbles is produced by Kel Crum, who is an all-around nice guy in addition to being a very funny fellow.  Scribble is a series of collection of some funny comics starring Brenda Visage, Ed Thud, Cornelia, Chickens, and Donna the Dead.  I’ve talked of Kel before and he’s just one of those guys who know how to be funny.  (He also knows everything-and I mean everything- about classic cartoons, but that’s another story.) The stories here range from a girl who comes apart to a dream and a battery powered… well…It’s hard for me to explain the jokes in his comics…so I think you should check out his website and contact him to buy some very good and affordable comics!  If you don’t laugh I’m sure he’ll give you your money back.  Actually, I’m not sure of that at all, I just made it up, but you should buy his stuff anyway.  You’ll laugh!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Boba Art

I wanted to post some of my recent work.  Here's some stuff of a related theme:

I plan to intersperse some art with my pop culture commentaries on my bloggy for now. Hopefully I entertain some readers!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Woodstalk #4 & 5

I talked about the first three issues of Wolkstalk here, and I think it’s now a good time to revisit the series and discuss what has happened since.  As a refresher, Woodstalk is the comic about the heretofore unrevealed tale of the zombie outbreak at the classic hippiefest concert known as Woodstock. So now on to issue #4 and 5:

Whereas the first trio of issues centered on the British rock group The Zombies, the focus of the tale suddenly changes with the introduction of a couple hippies that shall be the center points of these stories.  Starlight and Sunshine have come to Woodstock selling some homegrown hash to make some cash to invest in their relationship and the raising of their soon-to-be born child.

They find there isn’t much interest in their product as everyone’s more into the brown acid that’s turning everyone zombie-like.  Or maybe it’s actually turning them into zombies.  It’s hard to tell with tripping hippies.  Anyway, Star and Sun find themselves able to rise above their pacifistic nature and take out some zombies as they begin their adventure in the zombie-infested Woodstock.

Writer/artist Bruce Worden does a great job telling a captivating tale of hilarious zombie/ hippie action and mayhem! I highly recommend this series!  It just gets more interesting!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Review: Out With Dad 4.03: "An Island Outing"

Well, if I start now I should be able to catch up on my Out With Dad review/comments before the next episode is released.  So here goes episode 4.03: “An Island Outing”.

This episode takes place on an island.  Of course.  Rose and Nathan are spending some time together much to the joy of Dad (Nathan) who wishes he could spend more time with his daughter.  During their island adventures some important happenings come up in conversation.  They begin discussing Kenny, who is apparently doing something with his life other than seeking further education.  Kenny was never much into the books and school, so this makes sense.  Rose notes how different Kenny and Alicia are, which makes it a wonder they were ever a couple.  Though they are both very caring people who are great friends to Rose, this alone didn’t keep their relationship going after High School.  This, as Nathan notes, is rather typical of what happens as people grow and mature.

Next the duo discusses Valerie, a woman Nathan dated when Rose was younger. Though Valerie and Nathan got along well, in the end it was Rose that split them up.  At least, the fear of parenting eventually scared Valerie off.  Rose gets upset that Nathan always seems to use Rose as an excuse for not having romantic relationships. Then they discuss some closure Nathan had by meeting Valerie at a convenient store.  This leads to discussions of Rose and having some closure with Vanessa or Claire.  We learn that Rose and Claire avoided each other for 3 years of High School.  I find it a bit surprising that Clare stayed in the school where she was treated badly and wasn’t allowed to have a GSA, but maybe that was her way of not giving in.

At the end Nathan mentions that there might be more to Vanessa’s story than Rose is aware of.  Besides the clever choice of words, I hope this will lead to us finding out about Vanessa’s current life soon.  Despite the happy ending of “Vanessa’s Story” she is certainly has confronted and is confronting a whole different level of challenges than Rose.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Review: Fantastic Four: The Musical

I wanted to make some comments on the Fantastic Four, since there’s a new movie featuring them coming out soon.  I don’t know exactly when and I’m not interested in it so I’m not going to  check right now.  Anyway, Fantastic Four was the FIRST comic of the Marvel age, created by the immortal Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Definitely one of the greatest creations ever.  And they’ve been interpreted in other media for quite some time also.  The new movie will be, I think, the fourth attempt at a version on the big screen.  I’ve never been able to get through any of the other 3 versions, and I don’t think the new movie looks good at all.  So I won’t talk about them.  Instead I am here to discuss: Fantastic Four: The Musical!

Yes, there really is a Fantastic Four musical available out there.  It’s part of season 4 of Arrested Development. If you don’t know, Arrested Development is the greatest television comedy ever created.  It had a tumultuous but award-winning run on Fox and was revived in 2013 on Netflix.  I don’t have Netflix, but I recently watched the season on DVD.  Anyway, the Fantastic Four are mentioned plenty in this series, including a reference to their strange low-budget 1990’s movie, a bit fictionalized to make ever more hilarious.  But the big payoff is the musical, performed by a bunch of patients in rehab and done without permission from Marvel or Disney or whatever.  It’s the brainchild of Tobias Funke, whose dream is to become an actor.  One spoiler: he’ll never succeed, he’s terrible.  But that’s what makes it hilarious.  The DVD extras include even more footage concerning the musical and how it was put together.  I never thought about how difficult it would be to choreograph something and make it look bad.

I could ramble on about Arrested Development and how wonderful it is forever, but I think I’ll end this post with a plead: please, everyone skip going to the movies and instead buy Arrested Development on DVD or download or whatever.  Please support the BEST Fantastic Four adaptation ever! It sure ain’t Lee and Kirby, but that’s what makes it so good.

Now I’m going to go get my rocks off…

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: SPACE and what's next!

I’m so slow to post things on my blog lately!  I was recently at the SPACE convention in Columbus and for the past week I’ve been busy creating things for my next show, Fun Across the Galaxy, plus I’ve been reading a lot.

You see, SPACE is a wonderful small press/Independent comic’s show, so I got to talk to a lot of creators making all kinds of wonderful and original comics!  I bought and traded for a bunch of new stuff, and I was so excited by the experience I’ve been reading and creating every chance I can get!  I need to start writing about the books I’ve read and the creators involved.  I also have some other things to write about, and some new art of mine I’d like to share here.  I just need to get around to posting stuff.

Anyway, I can’t say enough of how fun SPACE is and how friendly everyone there always is.  The show was hampered this year by the original location closing, but organizer Bob Corby did a great job getting a wonderful new place.  The new location is the best the show has ever had, and next year SPACE will return to being a Spring show.  I’m ready to send my application for a table right now!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review: Reconnecting with Alicia (Out With Dad 4.02)

Now it is time for me to talk about the most recent episodes of Out With Dad, the world’s greatest webseries.  Episode 4.02, “Reconnecting with Alicia” is one big shot of Rose and Alicia walking together and talking.  That may not sound exciting, but considering they are talking about some exciting stuff!  In this episode we get to find out some important information about what has happened since last season, and where we go from here.  Let’s look at some of the conversation:

Alicia tries to comfort Rose about entering university.  I think this is the first time I’ve realized Alicia is older than Rose.  Though I guess it was hinted at before.  If I’m remembering Rose once commented about “since we (Rose and Kenny) were in grade 9” to Alicia.  Anyway, it helps that Alicia has some experience at university and that will help the viewer understand what they are doing during the series, I think.

Alicia also notes Rose in still introverted, and they both show their intelligence by knowing the textbook definition of “Introvert”.  Alicia also mentions that they weren’t allowed to have a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) in High School, but there is one in university.  But Rose isn’t over-eager about advertising her sexuality to everyone at her new place of learning.  Rose does agree to go to a GSA meeting though.

We now learn a bit about some absent members of last season’s cast.  Claire keeps in touch with Alicia, but Rose hasn’t spoken to her since “the birthday incident”.  And something happened between Rose and Vanessa, but Rose isn’t saying anything right now.  I think it almost unbelievable that Rose and Claire never spoke again in High School, but I think fans will like it better if they eventually get to see some kind of reunion rather than just hear about it.

There’s a very interesting exchange concerning dating. Rose doesn’t even want to date because it makes it obvious she’s a lesbian, while Alicia has it easy since everyone expects a girl to have a boyfriend.  Especially for Rose, who doesn’t like to be the center of attention.  I think Rose does have a point here, as I do think, in today’s society, a gay couple is going to stand out more than a straight couple.  But Rose will, eventually, have to get past not wanting to stand out, or she’s going to have to get very comfortable being single.

And I think that about covers it for episode 4.02!  This keeps me one episode behind in my reviews still.  Maybe I can catch up after the SPACE convention this weekend. (Where I will have Out With Dad-related art available if anyone wants to come see me in Columbus!)  Boy it’s fun to be watching some new Out With Dad!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: OH, Comics #23 "Music"

The Small Press and Alternative Comics Exposition approaches later this month.  SPACE is a wonderful convention that showcases comics and creations that are not by the mainstream creators and mainstream creations.  Rather, it’s a bunch of people putting forth their best efforts to express themselves and entertain a bit.  OH, Comics is an annual anthology ( skipped a few years) I have contributed to since its 10th issue.  It is available at the convention and can be ordered online from publisher Bob Corby directly. (Or you can buy a copy from me if you see me at a different show.)  The latest issue of OH, Comics was officially released earlier this year at the Extra SPACE con, but I haven’t gotten around to talking about it until now.  So here’s my review:

Bianca Alu-Marr and Steve Peters start out this year’s “Music” theme with a sci-fi tale called “The Song Remains the Same”. The story involves a little musical mystery on a space station that perplexes a human and a dragon.  I like the slick presentation and the clear art and lettering.  It’s a solid beginning to the anthology and a nice intro to The Comicverse characters and setting.

Next Craig Bogart takes us on the road with Bon Jovi as he confronts the devil.  Craig’s story has a neat twist and makes some commentary about rock and roll music and how it has changed over the years.  A very solid self-contained tale here that I’m sure many will find humorous.

Pam Bliss presents us with “Always Do Your Best”- the theme song for the hero Foursquare.  Though it’s hard (for me) to sing the lyrics instead of just read them, the song is quite well written, and campy as a hero’s theme should be.  Foursquare’s reaction at the end is well done also.

Of Song Sung & Unsung is a sad poem by Matt Levin with rubber stamp art accompanying it.  The poem is well written and I’m enough of a musician to understand the feelings expressed, though I’m no composer.

We’re in Treble by Kate E. Lore is a nice one-page strip using music notes as characters.  Very cute!

Mr. Rifft by Bob Corby is a musical ghost story with a nice surprise ending and very nice art that is of a unique look among the entries this year.  It really stands out visually and the storytelling is great as usual for Bob.

Robot Rap Battle by Jared Wenzel & Eric McAlister tells of two robots rapping.  The raps are well written and the art may be rough, but it fits the content of the story well.  The reaction shots of the other robots (and a microwave) are very good!  This is a fun strip.

Out of Tune by Me is a sequel of sorts to the story I did in the first Music-themed anthology many years ago (which I still have a copy of for sale!).  It involves the same villain, Force of Mind, and one of the heroes, Lizard Man.  I like using the First Lady so I figured out a way to fit her into the story.  Hopefully the ending makes sense to everyone.

In M.A.G.I.C. by Michael Anthony Carroll Michael puts together another team of stick-figure super heroes. He seems to be able to create at will teams of heroes with just about any theme and really clever names.  I don’t want to say more here, because it’s better to read it yourself!

Kel Crum does a one-page gag called Everything Sucks which has a much happier ending than you’d suppose.  And it’s a good example of how he comes up with punchlines that are extremely unexpected.

Troppo by Ben Small is a science fiction tale of a fighter pilot who listens to music while fighting. 

The intricate art is a little difficult to see in the anthology but the story is easy to follow.

And finally we have Troy Verasis, Tanmoy Das & Nick Schley tell the story of Santa’s Band.  
Which is about just what it sounds like—Santa Claus starting a band.  With a clever name, too!

You can click the links above to find out more about the individual creators.  If you see your name 
without a link, please send me one and I’ll add it.

That’s it for my review of OH, Comics.  Hope to see lots of people at SPACE this year!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: Big Hero 6

I recently got to watch the Marvel/Disney Superhero movie Big Hero 6.  This is a different type of Marvel movie: it comes from a Marvel comic and is animated by Disney.  This is the chance for Disney to show their recent acquisition of Marvel comics/Marvel Entertainment is going to be a good thing, and not just bloat profits for the mouse.  So…how do I think they did?

First off, I admit the movie came out some time ago, and has been out on DVD for some time now, so I haven’t been overly diligent in seeing the movie.  Truth is, I don’t know the comic or the characters and I haven’t even researched them before writing this.  Which I think is a good thing, since I’m giving you this review without previous knowledge of the source material, instead of comparing it to said source material.  I’m reviewing only the movie on its own merits.

The movie tells of a young genius name Hiro who invents robots.  He’s introduced to his older brother’s college friends and decides to build robots in the college.  Then his brother is killed due to the machinations of a super-villain and Hiro and friends become Big Hero 6, a group of super-heroes.  That’s the plot, which isn’t too complicated.  In fact, it isn’t complicated at all.  Nor is it anything new.  Yet it works wonderfully!  The key is the same thing that makes all the other Marvel movies work so well:  this movie has a lot of heart!  It isn’t just action and gizmos and neat effects.  It is a touching story of a boy who lacks direction in his life and has survived a lot of tragedy.  Hiro may be the most tragic Marvel movie character yet, in fact.  Seeing his journey and triumph is uplifting and fun!

I hope there are more movies about Hiro.  Big Hero 7 perhaps?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: Drinks with Dad (OWD 4.01)

Season 4 of Out With Dad has begun and I haven’t written anything about it yet!  So, here I am to give my commentary and ramble on about what the series has me thinking about right now. It’s great to see the story of Rose and her Dad continue, and it’s interesting to see that creator Jason Leaver is using a new method to fund the series.  I won’t go into the details, since you can check them out for yourself on the Out With Dad website. Instead, I’ll comment on the events in season 4 so far.

First, let me say something in general about season 4.  Jason has chosen to pick up the series several years after season 3 ended.  Rose has just turned 19 and is in her first year at University.  I think it works very well for the series to pick up here, as opposed to trying to continue exactly where it left off. Partly because the actors have noticeably aged, but also because the high school setting had pretty much been exhausted for interesting plot threads, since Rose was out and dealing with it.  I’ve had thoughts since the end of season 3 about where I would take the personal relationships from that point, but I think OWD is about more than who Rose (and Dad) are dating.  The series exists to present realistic scenarios about what it is like to be gay and to be supportive of someone else who is gay, and how life if different for someone who is homosexual.  It’s about the unique challenges of Rose and her Dad and the societal challenges that someone like Rose has to face that someone like me (not gay) never had to face.  This aspect of the show is what I’m most interested to see as to where the story goes from here.  Oh, and I’m also curious as to who Rose will be dating!

Episode 4.1, “Drinks with Dad” catches us up with the lives of Rose and her Dad since season 3 while they have a drink together to celebrate Rose reaching the legal drinking age in Canada. We learn in this episode that Rose is going to college, still lives at home, and still regrets the situation at the end of season 3.  It also establishes that Rose is not dating Claire or Vanessa, and that this shouldn’t be surprising since very few people marry their high school crush.  It also talks some more about Rose’s mother, and how she and Nathan met in grade school and married young, but he doesn’t want Rose to think she’s failed because she hasn’t done the same.  We also learn that Nathan is in counselling to deal with the loss of his wife, and he thinks he’s finally dealing with the loss after all this time.  Perhaps raising Rose was too much of a distraction and Nathan never stopped to deal with his feelings.  Hopefully, this foretells a future love for Dad? 

Okay, I was going to review the next episode also, but I’ve spent too much time on this one.  I’ll get to it soon. I promise!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Age of Ultron review

I know there’s a lot of people who have written about the second Avengers movie, and it isn’t exactly brand new, but this is when I have the chance to give my impressions, so I’m gonna write about it now.

I think Avengers: Age of Ultron is a great movie. It isn’t nearly as good as the first installment of the Avengers, but it still entertained the heck out of me.  It does a very good job establishing the Avengers as a team that know how to work together while at the same time giving a reason why THIS story is worth having a major motion picture to tell us about.  There are great moments in this movie, and the best to me did not involve the big battles scenes or even the big bad guy, but rather were the more emotional, character moments that show us that these heroes are people with powers, and are best defined by their actions and not their abilities.  That being said, the ending- with the passing of the torch to a new lineup, was my favorite part and the most Avengers-y moment in the film.  I’ll explain:

The Avengers was initially created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a collection of the Marvel Super-heroes that existed at that moment in the company.  The idea was to make a super-group out of the amazingly successful individuals.  But the difficulty with this concept is that nothing happens to the characters while they are in the Avengers that will be more important than what happens to the characters in their own books. Stan solved this problem by changing the lineup of the group.  The characters who had their own books left and the new Avengers consisted of Cap, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch.  The three new recruits would become iconic Avengers.  I’d say this is because they were, first and foremost, Avengers, not solo stars appearing in a second book.  This is also why characters such as the Vision and Wonder Man have become iconic Avengers.  They were created in the book.

In the movie, all characters have significant character arcs, but the most interesting involve the characters who do not have their own movie series.  The best arc in the film belonged to Hawkeye.  His surprise family and vulnerability were both different from the printed page and a welcome sight.  It also shows that the movies aren’t going to be “filling in” the traditional histories of these characters from the comics. I like this a lot.  Finally, the movies ends with the introduction of a new Avengers lineup, with most of the original movie team leaving.  This is wonderfully similar to the comics and yet done in a totally new way with different characters.

So, bravo Marvel for putting out another great movie!  I know there’s more on the way and I can’t wait to see them!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Update: June 2015

It’s long overdue that I write something for my blog.  I’ve been incredibly busy lately with preparations for Motor City Comic Con, spending a weekend at the con, and working my day job.  Therefore, the blog has taken a hit while other things get done. But now it is summer, school is out, I only have one commission currently on my list, and I don’t have another convention for a good month.  So now I can write about all those things I’ve been neglecting.  Such as: Avengers movie, SHIELD and Flash TV shows, Out With Dad: season four, and comics I’ve been reading.  AH. Where to start?

I think I’ll begin by talking about myself.  I’ve just completed posting the 9th chapter of Mutant Elf on my webcomic page.  This completes the first of a two-chapter story involving getting all the lead characters into the Fairy World together, where they will have lots of fun!  Well….they’ll be in constant danger, but we will have fun watching them get out of it!  At least, I hope you have fun.  The series seems to have a lot of views and a few followers, so I think someone’s enjoying it other than me.

I’ve also finished a new set of statues, some of which I sold at the convention, but some others are still available!  I’m really enjoying making clay versions of Paris Watkins’ super-heroes. You can see some on his Facebook page.  They really lend well to being sculpted, probably because they’re so cartoony. I’ll show some other pictures of my stuff here soon.

Finally, I had the pleasure of having a letter printed in a comic.  You should go to your local comic shop, or contact Dark Horse Comics and demand they get you a copy of Groo: Friends and Foes #1.  You MUST get a copy of the actual issue, because letters are not reprinted in trade paperbacks. It’s not a particularly amusing or well-written letter.  It’s probably about the same as this blog.  But it’s mine, and I’m very proud of it!!

I’ll be back soon with comments about something of great importance.  I won’t say exactly what.  Until I figure out what it is.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Flash in Grey

The grey tone speedster?  Doesn't sound great, but this is my favorite of my grey work so far.  More to come...but something different next week.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Monday, April 6, 2015

Art- Grey Markers Agent

I thought I'd post some recent art I've been doing utilizing grey-tone markers.  This is Agent May, from SHIELD.  This is the drawing I'm least satisfied with, as I think the shadows look a bit took stark.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Harry Potter vs. Percy Jackson

I drew this, inspired by an event at the school in which I teach.

These are two of my favorite literary characters.  If I have to pick, I'd say I like Percy Jackson a little better than Harry Potter.  Probably because of my intense love of Greek Mythology.  Would he win the fight?  Well, Harry is the Boy Who Lived. Percy is a Demi-God.  I'd go with Percy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Table Top: Review

I have been rather tired and unwilling to write much lately, but I am back now and I want to discuss what I think is my favorite non-dramatic webseries: Table TopTable Top features Wil Wheaton playing all kinds of board games with his friends, game designers, and other celebrities. You may think watching people play games would be slow and boring, but I assure you the series is addictive and the episodes are put together to keep the game play moving while allowing the viewer to understand the gameplay and laugh along with the players!

I am a gamer. Somewhere along the way I became much more serious about game playing than most of my peers.  I have studied rulebooks, played more and more complex games, and looked far and wide for opponents to play with.  Mostly I just love playing.  I think the best games are fun whether you win or lose, and some of my best stories are about times I’ve lost. I still enjoy playing very simple games and party games, but I really enjoy something a little more deep, but not so complex the rules slow you down. That being said, my favorite board game is Magic Realm, a classic and extremely complicated fantasy board game that I’ve organized online tournaments for.  But enough about me.

Wil Wheaton is an actor best known for playing on Star Trek: the Next Generation.  His character wasn’t in many of the later seasons that I am most familiar with, so I can’t say much about his acting.  However, I can say he’s a great host for Table Top and does a wonderful job introducing the games and keeping things interesting and educational during the show!  He’s obviously very knowledgeable about games (maybe as much as me) and he’s very funny in victory or defeat!  The many players featured in different episodes range from experienced gamers to novices, yet all seem to enjoy themselves and do well at playing the games. 

I particularly like the extended episodes.  Partly because I can’t get enough of a good thing, and partly because it’s fun to see all the interactions between the players (and sometimes the crew).  I enjoy watching episodes about games I play (Takenoko, Small World, and Stone Age for example) but also games I’m not familiar with (yet) such as Castle Panic or Dragon Age. It’s great to see this series showcasing such a great hobby as board gaming! I would love to play a game with Wil some day!  Maybe Magic Realm?  Well…that’s probably too deep for table Top…

Monday, March 9, 2015

Goodbye, Spock

I now many people have been writing far better eulogies than I am doing here, but I also realize that Mr. Spock is and will always be a huge part of geek culture, and therefore I would be remiss if I did not say something about the passing of Leonard Nimoy.

I consider myself a medium-sized Trekker, in that I know the history of Star Trek, can recognize the main characters, have seen many of the movies, and watched a lot of the final few seasons of the Next generation.  That being said, I know

Mr. Spock, the most recognizable character in the Star Trek pantheon.  Leonard Nimoy was a great actor, who portrayed many characters over a long and successful career.  However, Spock is his most recognizable achievement. From the beginning of Trek to the recent reboots Spock is the anchor of the cast.

I think it’s a great accomplishment of an actor to create a character that is so recognizable.  That’s what I am trying to say.  Leonard Nimoy, I salute your accomplishment.  Rest in peace.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: Agent Carter

First let me say I am totally in love with Hayley Atwell. Her portrayal of Peggy Carter is just so perfect and she is just so amazing and adorable at the same time.  I can’t imagine a more perfect casting.  I would think just about everyone else who has seen this series would agree with me.  This show totally belongs to Ms. Atwell and she shows no trouble carrying it on her beautiful shoulders.

Agent Carter tells the story of a government agent fighting evil and sexism in America after WWII.  I am a sucker for period pieces, and this period in particular in very engaging to me.  Partly because this is the time when Marvel Comics earliest roots were beginning to form.  Long before Stan and Jack would change the world with the Fantastic Four there were plenty of little comics written and drawn by all kinds of hard working people nobody knows, getting very little credit.  But these guys laid the groundwork that eventually became the franchise that created Agent Carter.  Likewise, Peggy Carter helps lay the groundwork for what eventually becomes SHIELD and the current Marvel cinematic continuity.

But mostly I loved the series because it had that edge-of-your-seat style of writing where you’re expecting twists and tragedy every second.  The story had lots of action and intrigue, and kept me wanting more every week.  And now I want more even more than I wanted more before.  The series left the future promising peril and I hope we get to see some more of Agent Carter and friends.  If only they could get Jim Hammond, the android Human Torch, to guest star!

Hint!  Hint!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Astro City #20 (I'm getting old)

I’m getting old.

I guess we all are getting older each day, but I’ve been thinking about age lately.  And I must give credit to Kurt Busiek and his current Astro City storyline for making me do so.  Astro City 18-21 features the tale of some heroes who are dealing with getting old. I am old enough that I started reading comic books back in the 70’s. I never thought about the heroes I was reading about getting old.  I eventually picked up that DC comics had characters that had been around since the 40’s and hadn’t aged at all.  Marvel’s heroes originally aged at a regular pace, but that aging stopped around the beginning of the 70’s.  There have been some time-travel or non-continuity stories that involve the regular characters being older, but there aren’t any significant changes associated with age.

Astro City, however, takes place in real time.  Stories are dated, and many tales have been flashbacks or period pieces about the history of the Astro City world.  This allows Kurt to explore what happens as time goes by for the characters.  In this case, the story revolves around a couple of heroes, Quarrel and Crackerjack, with no special powers who have relied on their acrobatic abilities and some gadgets to fight super-villains. Now they are getting older and slower.  I can relate.  I’m not a super-acrobat, but I really do feel less able than I used to, and though I don’t whine about getting older, I am aware that it changes things.  I think the characters are in a situation similar to an athlete who can no longer compete on a professional level and now has to decide what to do with his life.

Astro City has always been a very character-driven series, and the exploration of the two main characters of this arc and their relationship is extremely engaging to me.  It’s about getting old, but it’s also about the trials and triumphs these characters have experienced on their journey.  I’ve just finished issue 20, and I’m eager to find out how it all ends. I just hope Quarrel and Crackerjack will have a happy ending.  And then we can check back on them later and see how they are doing again!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Art & Spring Schedule

I just wanted to post some recent sketches this week and mention I have 2 conventions appearances scheduled for this spring: SPACE in Columbus April 11 & 12 and Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan on May 15-17!  Hope to see you there!

This is a little preview of what you will see in this year's OH, Comics anthology:
Just a pencil idea I'm working on:

Myzla, the Mutant Elf!