Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Princess

Carrie Fisher has died. I don't think I can come close to eulogizing her as well as those who worked with her and knew her well, but I feel I must say something about her and the impact her work had upon my life.

I learned to draw by drawing Star Wars stuff, and Princess Leia was one of the easiest characters to make look distinctive, with the cool buns and all. Princess Leia is an amazing character, and Carrie Fisher was the perfect person to cast in the role. Here's why: Leia is a proper, beautiful, inspiring leader, but she isn't a dainty princess. She's the type that will grab a blaster and blow away bad guys as easily as she can put a loud-mouthed smuggler in his place. She's the type of girl that boys like me likes the most. Facing down evil and rescuing her rescuers! And yet she was magnificently radiant in ceremonial attire!

Carrie Fisher brought Leia alive and guys like me fell in love before we knew what having a crush even meant. My appreciation and adoration of Carrie never ended, either. I haven't seen all her movies, but I always liked seeing her on screens bog and small. She was a delight when she guested on talk shows and though I never met her the stories people tell are amazing. She wasn't perfect, and she wrestled with her demons very publicly, never making excuses and bringing mental illness into the mainstream conversation as no one else had. I'm sure her problems taxed her physically and contributed to her premature death. But I don't think she ever gave up trying to conquer all her challenges. She'd have conquered the galaxy for real if she could.

Carrie's passing, and her Mother's death shortly following, have really shaken me up. But I know her legacy will never die, as long as dedicated fans like me continue to watch her work, speak of her, write about her, and draw pictures of our favorite princess.

Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you all.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Sometimes things get you down, and you just need a little pick-me-up. Maybe you're depressed about the current state of affairs in the world, or wondering why 2016 seems such a downer, or just not feeling your best. I sometimes feel a bit down, though I consider myself a very positively-minded person, and I got the idea to write a bit here about a webseries that is totally about happiness.

HappyHer is the story of two Canadian women who go all over the world and ask women a simple question: "What makes you happy?". The answers may not be surprising, but I do find them uplifting. I've been trying to take the time to watch an episode or two every day. In fact, I'd say the similarities in the answers by women in different countries and cultures is quite interesting. It really shows that all people, regardless of their background and current living conditions, want pretty much the same things in life. I'm not saying all the answers are alike, just that I find them refreshingly similar.

Now, you  may be wondering why i'm watching a series about what makes women happy. Well, I can explain. First off, I do like women. Well....I mean I appreciate them. I have a wife and two daughters, so I better be interested in what makes women happy!  And I'll admit a couple things here. I came across this series because one of the creator/travelers in Lindsey Middleton. Lindsey is one of the starts of my favorite webseries, Out With Dad (read about it one elsewhere on this blog). And Lindsey was in particular the subject of one of my earliest post here. (I'm still grateful she didn't sue me for that!) Anyway, Lindsey's best friend Cornelia Audrey is the other "star" of the show, and she's just as delightful as Lindsey.

The next thing I'll admit is that the reason I decided I had to watch this show was that the duo made a trip to Thailand!  I have told many people that Thailand is my favorite country I've ever visited*. They just have a combination of an exotic locale, beautiful beaches and scenery, and wonderfully kind people that is unmatched anywhere else I've been outside of my home country (USA). I know there's been much political unrest there since I visited, and I worry for the people there a lot. Maybe there's a lesson for those of us worried about our political climate, too. Thailand has had REAL problems with factions literally fighting over power, we've really got it easy with our situation, despite the alleged divisions lately.

And I think I'll add here what makes me happy (though I'm not a woman): My aforementioned family, drawing, reading, playing a good board game, my students' artwork, and watching great webseries!!

Anyway, I decided once I got through the Thailand video, I would post something. And even then it took me a week or so. What can I say? Writing is hard! I'd rather be drawing...but more on that soon enough.

So...I hope people check out some HappyHer episodes

! Whether you're a man or woman, they're bound to make you feel a bit...happier!

*I was in Thailand in 1988 on WestPAC when I was in the US Navy...before Lindsey and Cornelia were born...gosh am I old??

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why keep comics?

Something on my mind:

Someone asked me back in the late 80s why I keep comics after I read them instead of just throwing them away. I answered that there is a chance they could be valuable some day, but the main reason I keep them is in case I want to read them again.

I do have a few that are worth decent money, and I sold one fairly valuable comic a few years back just because I didn't like it.  I culled a dozen or so comics from my vast collection, and that was the only valuable one. I used the money to buy new comics, of course!

I do put them in bags, but this is mostly so they are in good enough shape to read again. I find I can comfortably fit 3 regular sized comics in one regular comic bag. I have a stack of boards, but I don't use them. And I have a large enough collection now that I'll probably never re-read them all again. But you never know...

Okay, I've said my piece. Now I need to get ahead on my art so I can post more here. Bye for now!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

More Painting!

I'm really enjoying creating these! All the paintings here are still in my possession, so if you're interested in purchasing one, please e-mail me. They cost from $25-$100 each depending on size and number of characters (how long it took to complete). And I, of course, take requests!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Out With Dad 4.16 “Reconciling with Claire"

I was just about to get back to talking about my favorite webseries, and the newest episode was just released for general viewing also.  So here goes!

This episode is the one everyone has been waiting for. Well, except "team Vanessa". That group is waiting for something else. But it is a huge episode for all fans.

The episode begins with Rose reluctantly visiting Claire, the "ex". The encounter goes along about as I predicted and hoped it would, at least at first. Claire is more than friendly towards Rose, and their past relationship is downplayed for being a "teen thing". I like this because it fits Claire's personality to not be hung up on the past. Though viewers of the series get obsessed with the relationships of the characters, people in real life have relationships and they end. Sometimes we never talk to these people who we thought were so important again. But we shouldn't dwell on such things and we should be forgiving. Claire's "we were just kids" attitude is very fitting.

Rose's fear and regret fits her personality also. But she does put too much pressure on herself, and, in a way, she gives herself too much power to affect others. Also, shame on her for not knowing how to play chess.

I like the conversation about true love and the complicated relationship Claire is currently in. It's also interesting that Claire considers Rose/Vanessa "true love". Is she being uncharacteristically deep, or is she rationalizing? It certainly seems to have made her feel better to believe that she was left behind for a "true love" to come together. Rose is less sure. We shall see what happens in the future.

Oh, and "I forgive you Rose Miller" may be the most powerful line of the series!

As I said, the episode went along as I expected. Then there's the ending. Didn't see that coming!!  Whoa!!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Upcoming: Halloween Comic Con

This post is my update as to why I've been so busy and haven't posted anything lately. I've been preparing for a new Comic Convention. Halloween Comic Con is a comic and gaming convention coming up on Saturday, October 22nd in Sandusky, Ohio. The hours are 10-6 and I'll be there all day!

I've been doing some painting, and have some new comic-oriented pieces that will be for sale at the con. I've also been busy keeping up with my webcomics, "Mutant Elf" and "Mutant Animals vs Zombies vs Machines vs Humans". Check them out by clicking links to the right of my blog posts.

I'm also getting close to finished with a strip for "OH, Comics", the anthology that will be available at the SPACE convention this Spring.  "OH, Comics" is always fun and I'm proud to be a part of the publication every year.

Finally, I updated this page with links and updated my biography. I have a new position this year (same place, different area of instruction), and I'm loving it but adjusting, so preparation takes more time than in the past.

Hopefully, I'll post again soon. I guess I'll end with some artwork:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Amiculus

Here I am ready to review another independent comic I picked up at SPACE, the greatest small-press comic con in Ohio!

Amiculus (or AMICVLVS in Roman) is the story of the last Roman emperor of the west, a 12-year old boy named Romulus. It is subtitled "A Secret History" as it tells the heretofore unrevealed secret of the conspiracy that destroyed an empire. Or at least, that's what writer Travis Horseman claims. He may also be adding his own little story to a historical tale. But it's definitely more fun to pretend this is all real. After all, if Abraham Lincoln was the greatest President and the greatest vampire hunter...

Anyway, the point is that this story is based on the real Roman Empire, which was divided into two parts in the 400s and the western portion fell to barbarian hordes. This is, I think, a really cool time in world history. If you have no interest in such things, don't worry, this is also a great story of intrigue and betrayal. It begins with an Eastern Empire historian searching for the reason the West fell 60 years ago. This leads him to learning about Amiculus, a figure in the shadows feared by everyone.

I won't go into details other than that. I will say that I absolutely loved this comic! The writing is edge-of-your seat with suspense as to what will be uncovered by our historical investigator. The pacing is great. And most importantly, you can understand the story without being an expert on the historical time it covers. Finally, the art by Giancarlo Caracuzzo is fantastic!

So I have nothing bad to say about this comic. I'm so glad I picked it up and I hope you will to! Volumes I and II are available here!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Reviews: Murray & Bo and Blink: And Now, This...

It's time for another one of those posts where I discuss a small-press comic I picked up at the SPACE convention earlier this year in Columbus. Or in this case, two comics:

Murray and Bo by Michael Carroll is an "8 hour and 4 minute comic", which means it was totally written and drawn in 8 hours and 4 minutes. And it isn't short, either. It comes in at 24 pages of story! So then you must think "it's just scratchy art and no story". Well...Michael's art style isn't overly complex, it is true. BUT...the art does an excellent job telling the story and the story itself is extremely clever and entertaining. I'd say you can't get a better entertainment per minute of creation ratio anywhere!

Specifically, the story is about a bird that works as an air conditioner and the snake that hires him. That sounds rather weird. And it is. gets weirder. It seems the snake didn't know about tying off to an anvil. I'd think this would be obvious, but somehow he missed this step. So instead of staying home, Bo (that's the snake) goes on an adventurous flight with Murray (that's the bird, of course). All hilarity ensues. And I'm not kidding. This is a very funny book. Just one of those stories that works perfectly though if you pitched the idea no one would believe it would work. But trust me, it does! So get a copy today!

Blink: And Now, This... is, by contrast a very serious comic about a very serious subject. Author and artist Max Ink takes his popular characters from his Blink comic (search my history and you'll find I've discussed them before) and uses them to tackle the issue of racism. This comic takes place shortly after the murders of nine people in a black church in South Carolina. Blink, Hank, and Sam react to the shootings with different levels of  anger, despair, and hope. Of course, the comic can only scratch the surface of the horrible problem of racism that still rears its head even in our modern, advanced world. But it is still a worthwhile discussion, and the comic should make anybody think about this world in which we live, how we treat each other, and how we can make it better.

Rather than discuss the specific conversations in the comic, I'd like to continue the discussion with my own thoughts. I know this world, and the country in which I live, are not perfect. There are a lot of people out there who seem to find any reason: race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. to hate each other. However, I do believe the world is a better place to live today than ever before. We have broken down barriers and at least tried to destroy legal discrimination. I am always reminded that my mother went to school in a segregated system in Alabama, and just a couple generations later such a practice is unfathomable by most students. So we should remember the past and how far we've come, yet not excuse the past but understand it. Then we should strive to make our present better so that in the future out progeny will look back and see how far we've come since our time.

Final thought: when I decided to combine these two reviews, I thought the contrast between the comics was interesting, and I wanted to do them together so as not to put off writing. However, though I love and recommend them both, I'm not sure they belong together. So I'm sorry if this offends anyone or seems inappropriate. Comics can be light entertainment or they can make you think about important topics. It's what makes the medium, especially as it pertains to self-published comics, so amazing to me!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Musical review: Cedar Point's Bandstand USA

Though rare, I have posted some of my thoughts about music, and specifically live musical entertainment at my favorite amusement park, Cedar Point. I wanted to write a bit about a particular show from this season for some particular reasons.  Maybe some high-up people at the Point will read this and continue this type of show. Because there are some great reasons why Bandstand USA is an amazing example of musical live entertainment!

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, amusement parks offer live song and dance shows, each with some sort of theme. Bandstand USA has a great theme, because it starts with some great music. The catchphrase used by the park is "AM radio hits". This show does not contain any current songs, but rather highlights from the early days of rock-n-roll. Hits made famous by acts such as The Temptations, Chuck Berry, and Chubby Checker. The music includes songs such as "Land of a Thousand Dances", "Ain't no Mountain High Enough", and "Soul Man". These are some of the songs that formed the very roots of what has become contemporary Pop music, and all current singers should look back on these songs with thanks and appreciation. Personally, I've always loved the "oldies", and still spend most of my time listening to music from acts that began recording before I was born.  As I often say, music didn't begin in the year 2000. I applaud Cedar Point for having a show focused on this era. I don't know much about modern music, but EVERYONE should recognize most of these songs. And if you don't recognize some of the more obscure's great to research them. I'll admit there were a couple I wasn't familiar with myself.

Also, I have to add that it isn't just the song selection that makes this show worth seeing, it is also the cast. I've seen plenty of shows like this overt he years, and sometimes there just seems to be a group of performers that gel really well. This seems to be the case here. The interaction and entertainment ability of the cast is superb. There are certain songs and dances that let individual cast members shine, but I can't really say there's a single performer who outshines the rest. The whole is great because of the contributions of the parts. (Well, I may have a personal favorite or two, but that's just my opinion and I would never say because I would feel like I'm putting the rest down.) I'm only superficially aware of the audition process, but the folks on charge do very well when picking out performers. Finally, one of the neat things about seeing this show many times over the summer is picking up on things that happen that you wouldn't notice if you were only watching it once. I notice the action in the background, how well the performers cover for each other, the funny looks, and little changes. And I really like seeing the dancer/singers waving to little kids in the front row. After all, you never know when you may inspire someone to be a future live performer!

So, as the season winds down, good luck to everyone involved, and to the Cedar-Point-powers-that-be: keep doing shows like this!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Adults only review: Bad Sex

Usually I try to keep my page very all-ages, but I thought it best to warn that this review does cover an adult subject. I do not intend to have anything within this post be graphic or include profanity, but the subject And that is definitely an adult topic. In fact, the comic itself has a warning "Not for kids--what's wrong with you!!"

Bad Sex is a SPACE award-winning minicomic I picked up at the SPACE convention earlier this year. It is written by Lauren McCallister and tells some stories about bad sexual encounters. It is allegedly nonfiction. I say allegedly not because I believe Lauren is lying about these stories, but because they are so sad that I hope they are embellished at least a bit. Y'know, for dramatic purposes. And that they really weren't that bad in real life, though I also have the thought that why would anyone make that stuff up?

But more importantly, these are entertaining stories that are mostly funny, at least to me, with the exception of the one that makes me cringe. I'll not go into any details here. However, I can tell why this was an award-winning comic. It is very well put together and the storytelling is super. I also applaud Lauren for being willing to tell these stories. It's not a subject I would ever touch! Yet she pulls it off with grace and style. So, if you are an adult, you should get over to her website and get ahold of this comic!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Movie Review: Love and Mercy

I know this isn't a new movie, but I just got a chance to watch it, so I'm posting my review.

Love and Mercy is a biographical film about Brian Wilson, one of the founders of the Beach Boys, writer of the majority of their songs, and someone who is usually considered one of the greatest musical creators of rock and roll, if not all time.  I'll admit I'm a bit biased, as the Beach Boys are my all-time favorite band. And I don't just love the songs penned by Brian. For example, my favorite Beach Boys album is Holland, which includes contributions by all the guys that were members of the band at the time.

But this isn't a review of the band, it's the review of a movie, so on with it!

Love and Mercy includes some scenes that introduce the Beach Boys and set up the circumstances that caused Brian to be a composer of album material while the rest of the band toured. There isn't a lot of time spent on this, but that's okay, it on;y needs to be known for those who wouldn't know already. The bulk of the film is about Brian in two eras: 1)The creation of Pet Sounds and beginning of Smile and 2) Meeting his current wife, Melinda, and his escape from his Psychiatrist Dr. Landy.

The movie is a heart-wrenching look at the life of a guy who's a musical genius and more than a little mentally unstable.  Brian was always on edge due to his tough upbringing and difficult relationship with his father. His drug use and addiction took him over the edge. We can only dream of what Brian could have created if he had done a better job defeating his demons at an earlier time in his life. But at least Brian did eventually recover, and get good care to allow him to lead a normal life. Well, as normal as a rock legend can get, I guess.

The actors John Cusack and Paul Dano portray Brian at the different parts of his life, They don't look like Brian, but ignore that and enjoy the show, because they do a great job acting like Brian. The movie gets high marks from me for choosing very poignant scenes from Brian's life, keeping the story moving, and not messing with reality too often to be distracting.

The Real Brian and Melinda

Anyone who like music should see this film. And you kids who think music began in the year 2000 need to see this film to know the history of music. And then you should all go buy some Beach Boys records! I recommend Pet Sounds, Holland, Sunflower, and Summer Days (and Summer Nights!).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I've been doing some painting recently, so in lieu of another review today, I thought I'd share my paintings. All are acrylic on canvas board. 

My goal was to do some very cartoony paintings, as opposed to trying for realism. I think it worked well and I intend to do more.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: Transformers vs. G.I. Joe

Herein I continue with my reviews and commentary on things I've read or watched recently.

In this case, the first collection of the Transformers vs. G. I.Joe comics by Tom Scioli and John Barber.

Allow me to reminisce about my earliest G.I.Joe and Transformers memories. I have the first 30 or so issues of Marvel Comic's original G.I.Joe run from the 80's. I watched a lot of the first few seasons of the cartoon.  The toys were pretty neat, but I was too old for toys by then. My G.I.Joe toys were the "adventure team" run from the 70's which were big dolls with changeable clothes and weapons and stuff like "eagle eye"s and "kung fu grip". But the newly re-imagined team was quite fun, and the early Herb Trimpe art in particular I found very fascinating. Around this time the Transformers premiered. I watched the first few seasons of the cartoon, but didn't get the toys or read the comics. I think the downfall of both franchises, to me, was the constant addition of new characters and shuffling of older characters into the background.  The toys were the big money makers, and the shows and comics became too much advertising for the sale of the toys. Character development wasn't a priority, and that, coupled with my age, led me to dropping interest and moving on to other things. But the ideas were still very cool.

So what could get me to buy a Transformer/G.I.Joe crossover comic in the present? Honestly, It's Tom Scioli.  I met Tom many years ago at the SPACE convention, and loved his work on his own  creation, 8-Opus, a very 70's Kirby-inspired sci-fi series.  I've read many of Tom's comics since, but this is the most mainstream series he has worked on.  His old-school art style really fits the subject here. I'd say he draw the characters, both Joe and robots, to look! Yes! He doesn't try to imagine these toys as realistic machines or military guys. In fact, such a thing would be silly if you look at the outfits worn by the likes of Shipwreck or Wild Bill or Constucticons.  Instead, Tom embraces the ridiculous nature of the toys to make a universe that looks like it makes sense within itself without trying to make it "believable".

The story, which Tom write with John Barber, is exciting and makes very good use of the characters and their strange specialties and quirks.  There's very little in character difference beyond their weapons and specialties, except for a few main characters such as Snake Eyes and Duke.  The emphasis is on what each member brings to the team in their specialty.  On the Transformer side, we get the shocking realization that this series begins with the Autobots having lost the war, Optimus Prime is gone and Megatron rules Cybertron.  When you start with that, you get some real drama as the surviving Autobots try to stay alive while hoping to some day knock Megatron out of power.

And everything is a lot of fun!  I look forward to reading more toy vs. toy action!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Juice Squeezers: The Great Bug Elevator

First let me make note that I have not been keeping up on my blogging here. I can make many excuses as to why not, including being too busy and not feeling well.  Also, I've been way behind on my reading list (or reading stack of books). But the truth is, I haven't felt like writing lately.  Writing is very difficult for me, at least in comparison to drawing or talking, and I haven't had the mental energy to get my self behind the keyboard and get going. But I am going to try and write as much as I can in the next few weeks, just to get myself back in the habit. I thought I'd start by looking at some of the stuff I've been reading lately.

Juice Squeezers is a wonderfully creative take about bug squishing kids. I remember being introduced to these kids in Dark Horse Presents, and when I saw the trade paperback at a con, I decided it was worth picking up.  And it certainly was!  Writer/artist Davis Lapham tells a very engaging story of a town in California with a big of a giant insect problem.  To combat this problem, the town secretly sends Jr. High kids underground to kill the bugs.

There's lot of intrigue on two fronts.  First, there's the mystery of the bugs. What are they, why are they here, and what are they doing?  There's even some nice moral questions as to whether or not killing large populations of possibly harmful insects is a good idea.  Also, how many people should know about the threat of the bugs? Next, is the personal trials the kids are put through.  There's strife between team members, fights with bullies at school (the kids might be good at squishing bugs, but they aren't great at fighting humans), questions about family, getting along with the new kid, and budding romance.  The mystery is compelling, but the personal issues are the heart of this book. David does an excellent job giving each kid (and the lesser-seen adults) a distinct personality with highlights and flaws.  Despite their strange job, the kids all act like real people.  They just belong to a rather exclusive club.

The paperback is small, or digest-sized (9 in, x 6 in.), which is nice and keeps it affordable and cute! I think every Jr. High library needs a copy of this on its shelves and I hope David produces some more Juicy bug-squishing tale


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Review: Out With Dad 4.15 “Heading Out” (in 360)

I know I just posted about Out With Dad, but I thought this episode was well worth writing about due to the interesting nature of the way it was filmed.

"Heading Out" is the fifteenth episode of season 4 of Out With Dad, my favorite webseries. This episode was filmed in 360 degree cinema.  As creator/director Jason Leaver explains in a "Making of" video this technique involves using a stationary camera during filming, and then allowing the viewer to pan around the scene when viewing. Jason recommends using a smartphone for this, but since I don't have one I used Google Chrome, which is my favorite browser anyway.  Yes, you heard that right. I like Chrome a lot. Highly recommended.  Anyway, this method of filming makes the episode a lot like a live stage performance.  The scene is, unless I'm way off, filmed in one take, and though you can "look around", you cannot zoom in or out, just like you were sitting in a seat at a theatre. The director is really giving up lot of control by using a stationary 360 camera. He can't cut out, zoom in, combine shots, and whatever else those guys do that I don't know. So this is a very different experience in viewing.

As for the episode itself, it is all about Rose and her Dad getting ready to meet their former loves.  Rose going to see Claire who is back in town, and Nathan seeing Valery. Their interaction is cute as they pick out clothes for each other without looking, and fret a lot while supporting each other. They also make tea, including Rose using the phrase "hot the pot" which I don't think I've ever heard before. Finally, Nathan also mentions the possibility of Rose talking to Vanessa after all this time.  Rose is NOT receptive to the idea.  Jason noted this as an important episode, but it looks like a little downtime before the "big event" to come next time.  It's solid, but not one I'm likely to re-watch a lot.

But...does the 360 thing add to the episode?  I'm going to It's pretty neat to "look around", but there's this big problem I had: there's not much to look at. I looked at the ceiling, the door, the floor.  Then I looked at the characters. And it was like watching them on stage (as I mentioned above). But I think this technique would be more interesting if used on a video where there were things all over the place to look at!  Where you could watch several times and see something different each time. This episode wasn't very visual at all, really. It's  about character, not action.

Still, at least I got to watch my first 360 episode of something. Thanks to Jason for daring to try something different!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: The Ontario Science Centre Outing (OWD 4.14)

I'm almost caught up with my reviews of Out With Dad, season 4.  Happily, Jason and Co. keep making them faster than I can write about them.

The Ontario Science Centre Outing, OWD episode 4.14, is an extremely fun episode. It is the tale of Rose and Vanessa II's first date. Or is it a date? The episode centers around Rose telling friends Alicia and Owen about her day at the Ontario Science Centre

with potential new love interest Vanessa II. (If you're reading this but for some strange reason haven't read other reviews or watched the show, Rose's first, high school love interest was also named Vanessa, hence the need for a modifier.) Rose tells her friends about how much fun it was doing all the sciencey things with Vanessa II, without the pressure of it being a "date". She enjoyed just hanging out with Vanessa II as a friend and was relieved that the interaction didn't get romantic.


Before saying good night, Vanessa unexpectedly kissed Rose. Or, maybe it wasn't so unexpected. Looking back, Rose realizes there were plenty of hints all along that Vanessa II was taking it very seriously as a date. Rose was just too naive, distracted, or perhaps unwilling to see it. So...what should she do now?

I absolutely loved this episode.  It is very reminiscent of the second season episode "The Museum Outing", in which Rose and Claire have their first social interaction, with hints of future romance.  I wonder if some people will think it too much a repeat of that episode, but there are important differences. Mostly there's Rose's reaction to the "dates". But also. there's the difference of age and experience.  Rose sees the Science Outing as a nostalgic trip down memory lane. But she's not in a hurry to get into a relationship, and maybe this is why her thoughts stay so innocent.

One thing's for sure, it will be interesting to see where all this leads!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Apama- the Undiscovered Animal

The Apama is the most ferocious animal that has ever existed.  What's that you say? You've never heard of the apama?  Why, of course not!  It is, after all, the UNDISCOVERED animal.  That's right!  The apama is the meanest, most deadly, of all beasts, yet no one has ever heard of it...until NOW!

Apama is a truly wonderful independent comic book created by some film maker from the Cleveland area.  The story even takes place in the vicinity of Cleveland,  Yes.  Cleveland, Ohio, Which might also explain why no one has discovered the apama, since everyone ignores Cleveland. Anyway, creators Ted Sikora and Milo Miller created Apama as a film project about a super-hero. Then they created the comic that the main character in the movie was trying to create.  Got it?  Well, you don't really need to know all the background to understand the comic, because it's just about the comic character.

The main character is Ilyia Zjarsky, an ice cream truck driver, who is obsessed with old Native American legends and eventually gains the power of the apama, a ferocious beast that disappeared form history because it was a loner.  Ilyia is also a bit of a loner, probably due to hid being so weird and kinda a loser. There's nothing really remarkable about him. He's just an average Joe.  Or a bit below average really.  He tries hard, but he's not confident in himself, and he messes up a lot.  He's just enough of a sad sack to be hopelessly funny and not miserably depressing.  In other words, he's a great character.  Someone you can root for, but doesn't have the easy path to victory.

But I must now tell you of the thing that attracted me to Apama in  the first place. Benito Gallego does the best John Buscema imitation I've ever seen on the pages of this book.  And I mean that in a totally positive way!  Benito captures the very best qualities of Big John, who is my favorite comic artist of all time!  The art if wonderfully 70's-Marvel, which fits the story perfectly. I just can't really say more but to show some examples here.

Apama comes with  my highest recommendation!  This is my favorite comic I've read all year!! In fact, I'd say it's the comic I've been waiting for for years!

 I eagerly anticipate more!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Review: Counselling Vanessa 47 & 48 (OWD 4.12 & 4.13)

I've been busy at the SPACE comic con, where I received an award for my webcomic, Mutant Elf.  I will post some pictures of it soon, but right now I need to get back to my comments about the current season of the award-winning webseries, Out With Dad.

Counselling Vanessa 47 & 48 are the first episodes of the series-within-a-series that have run back-to-back,  Creator Jason Leaver states this is because of the next Rose episode taking longer than usual.  However, it is rather fortuante since these two Vanessa episodes are a perfect pair.

In session 47, Vanessa is obviously tired and the counselor tries to determine what is causing the sleep loss. The conversation turns to how Vanessa's mother treats her brother and his new baby, hinting that she'd like the child christened (which I believe is a way to make the child "officially christian", implying she's scared little Ollie will be raised muslim!) Vanessa's mom also hints that she'd be happier if Vanessa would date a guy rather than a girl (since bisexuals can just choose anyone I guess...) .  Also, Vanessa's relationship with her little brother Jacob, because Vanessa was the cause of their Mother moving out.  Which is sorta true, but it's really her mother's prejudice that required her to leave.  If she could have accepted her daughter (and daughter-in-law) she would still be living with the family.

Then the conversation turns to Vanessa running away.  Vanessa is mostly happy she did so because of the positive results. But there is the big negatives which comes up in the next episode.

Which starts with Vanessa crying as she discusses the sexual assault she survived when she ran  away.  More exactly, we viewers pick up Vanessa's description of the events right at the end.  I find this an excellent choice as to when to begin the episode. Jason spares the viewer the full description so that we can learn about the healing process.  Vanessa's been through a lot at this point, but this looks like the point where it starts to really turn around.  What's happened to her is unimaginable for me, but Jason and Lindsey make it seem so real.

In the end, Vanessa leaves us with a little smile.  Great to see that!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Review- Persia Blues: Leaving Home

Persia is the ancient name for the modern country of Iran.  Or something like that. I must admit I'm not too knowledgeable about Persia/Iran.  I believe I first heard of the country when I was in grade school, in the late 1970s.  A group of Iranians had taken Americans hostage after invading the American embassy in Tehran.  That's not the best way to come to know about a country.  So there was a lot of hate towards Iran going around ("bomb Iran") and some fear that the USA would get involved in another war. This was not long after Vietnam- a war I do not remember.

Anyway, my point being that when there is conflict between two countries it is often easy to accuse the other guys of being inhuman monsters.  We so it all the time.  Since I was raised in the Cold War era, I heard about how Russians were "not like us".  And this, somehow, leads me into talking about Persia Blues.

Persia Blues tells the tale of Minoo Shirazi, a young Iranian woman and an ancient Persian warrior with magic powers. Yes, somehow she's both.  The story changes settings regularly and with great effect, keeping the reader interested and wondering what is going on.  The art is different in each era.  In ancient tomes, artist Brent Bowman uses a grey pencil effects with lots of cool shading.  In modern times, he uses ink lines for a traditional, black and white comic book look.  He also draws horses very well- just thought I'd mention that 'cause it's cool.

Since this is volume 1, we don't get to find out the ultimate connection between Minoo and Minoo, but they are definitely the same person somehow.  I'm hoping there's something here I'm not seeing that ends up a big surprise.  In the story in ancient Persia Minoo is a swords-woman and has some magic powers. she ends up on a quest involving some gods and has a over and companion accompanying her. It's very classic fantasy I'd say.  In the modern world we learn Minoo is a bit rebellious and not conforming to the strict religious rules of Iran. She has the same independent personality as the ancient Minoo, and this leads her to getting an education in Oklahoma.  Or maybe it was Columbus.

Writer Dara Naraghi was also born in Iran and educated in the United States.  So he's really writing about what he knows.  At my age, I really enjoy learning about other places and cultures. It's nice to see that people are, in general, the same everywhere.  We need to be careful about stereotyping "those people" as "not like us".  As the Russians ended up regular human beings, I'm sure all our "axis of evil" foes will turn up likewise eventually.

By the way, I wrote a review of the preview of Persia Blues some time ago.  And I should note that Persia Blues is an award-winning comic!  Volume 1 and 2 are currently available.  Se details here


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: Day Drinking with Alicia and Rose (OWD 4.11)

I'm only reviewing one episode of Out With Dad today. This is so I can do the next two Counselling episodes together, since they go together well.

So in this episode we have Rose and everyone's best friend Alicia talking while drinking at Alicia's place. Alicia has just found out about Vanessa II's name.  They talk about Rose's plans with Vanessa II and how Rose will miss the GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance) meeting.  There's a neat little thing here how Rose doesn't want to go to the GSA meeting. Avoiding being the "lesbian" I think. Rose is unsure how to approach a first date. For example, she doesn't know what to wear to "impress a girl".

Then Claire calls!  Yes, it's the incredible return of Claire!  Sort of.  I mean, she's in the episode via a video chat, but not actually IN the episode.  But it's still more than a cameo appearance.  It's a real appearance.  Whatever they call that in Hollywood talk I don;t know.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah.  Claire calls and has a slightly awkward but kind conversation with Rose. Claire also seems to be having some trouble with her living arrangements.  Very vague. Hopefully more on this later.  Then Claire gives Rose some amazing dating advice.  Claire is sweet and just amazingly Claire-like.  I'm glad Jason didn't go with having them get in a argument or anything like that. They sounded like a pair of adults!  Bravo!

Still, this episode is the set-up. The payoff should be the REALLY interesting episode!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Review: The Peanuts Movie

I didn't watch "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" this year.  But I did manage to see the recently released "The Peanuts Movie" and I feel the need to discuss its merits.

First, I am a huge fan of Peanuts, and I believe Charles Schulz is not just a great cartoonist, but a true National Treasure.  His little creations have captivated audiences for generations, do so all these years after his death (despite no new comic strips) and will certainly continue to entertain people for many decades to come, if not until the end of time itself. I reviewed the early Peanuts strips in this post back in 2014.

Now, the legacy of Peanuts was long ago transferred to the big and small screen via some really clever animation and  classic story lines, chief among these being the first Christmas and Halloween specials on TV. There have even been some animated special produced since Schulz's passing. However, this version of Peanuts is different on one big way: it's animated using modern 3-d technology.  When the first trailers came out, I heard a lot of people decry this choice, not wanting to walk all over the classic look of the strips and previous animation. However, I'd say the animators did a wonderful job translating the Peanuts characters and environments. They didn't try too hard to make things special just because they were 3-D.  What I mean is there wasn't a lot of gratuitous 3-D scenes. Instead, the animation really takes a back seat to the story.

And the story is classic Peanuts! There's one new character, who's really a figment of Snoopy's imagination, and a lot of classic characters that aren't updated, modernized, or made "cool".  This movie should be enjoyable for generations to come.  The only thing I noted they took liberties with was having all the kids attend the same school, when we all know Peppermint Patty and her gang are supposed to be from "across town".  And the ending is a little saccharin, but I think they had to give Charlie Brown at least one win.  After all, his charm is that he stays the nice guy and keeps trying no matter how many failures life hands him.

Snoopy has a great subplot also, interacting with the rest of the cast in the zaniest ways. I laughed a lot at the Snoopy scenes, but also at plenty of others, including Peppermint Patty;s inability to stay awake in class.

As I said, classic Peanuts!  I'm hoping for a sequel!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review: King Tiger

King Tiger is a character created by Dark Horse Comics back in the 90's when they launched a line of super-hero books and I was in college getting my Bachelor's Degree.  I remember it well because the premiere was drawn by one of my all-time favorite cartoonists, Paul Chadwick.  Paul's Concrete comic is my all-time favorite comic run of anything, and I hope he'll do more someday.  But I digress, what I mean to say is that Paul introduced me to Dark Horse Comics, the company. I then read King Tiger partly because Paul drew it.  And now, all these years later I bought King Tiger's first limited series.  And did I enjoy it?  Let me put it his way: it is probably the best comic I've read over the past year!

King Tiger is a martial art magician.  Kind of like a combination Brue Lee and Dr. Strange.  Unlike the Doctor, Tiger uses a lot of weapons in his fights, but they are enchanted weapons that rely on mystic as well as mundane strength.  The four-issue series does a good job introducing the reader to Tiger and his history and abilities through the eyes of his recently hired assistant/caddy Milo.  Milo is brave and loyal, but a complete novice to Tiger's world.  Like the typical reader.  The third main character is Tiger's girlfriend Rikki, who supplies Tiger's squad with a headquarters, repairs vehicles, and funds his world-saving missions.  It seems Rikki is terribly rich, which is convenient, but also works well in the context of  the story.

Writer Randy Stradley does a great job of telling the story, getting in all the introductory bits in a way that keeps the plot flowing, and giving each character a unique personality and "feel".  The story is VERY engaging, as the good guys are in constant peril and there are multiple twists in the plot.  Artist Doug Wheatley is just spectacular!  I spent as much time looking at the details in the artwork as I did reading the words on each page.  Somehow, Doug makes the most fantastic subject look extremely realistic.

Anyway, this comic is a definite A+ and I hope it is successful enough to warrant further series of even greater tales!  I'm only sorry I didn't get it read earlier so I could have completed this review a while ago.  But I'm pretty sure you can still order the series from Dark Horse or your local comic shop!  So go do it.  I'd love to hear the opinions of other who have read the series!

Monday, March 7, 2016

SPACE (Prize!)

The Small Press and Alternative Comics Exposition (SPACE) is just around the corner. I'm always excited to check out the new work by my favorite independent artists, meet fans, and make new acquaintances. But this year I'm especially happy because I will, for the first time, be accepting an award for my comic work!

I won second prize in the "webcomic" category for my comic Mutant Elf.  In case your reading my blog for the first time, Mutant Elf is about an elf who comes from the Fairy World to our world to round up stray fairy creatures and take them back!  A human helps her out, and all hilarity results!  Or at least I hope so.  My current storyline, "The Package", is a little more serious than most, and hasn't included our title character except for one short mention.  The story is based on a short story my brother wrote years ago and includes Nor, a guy who can turn into a dragon. Nor appeared in an earlier Mutant Elf storyline.

While I'm mentioning webcomics, let me also mention Lady Spectra & Sparky. J. Kevin Carrier's mother/daughter super team.  He is currently running a colorified version of "The Godmother Principle", a crossover with Lady Spectra and my hero, Lizard Man. The colors look great!

Finally, please check out my latest: Mutant Animals vs. Zombies vs. Machines vs. Humans! It's the comic with something for everyone!

Well, that's all for today. We award-winning cartoonists must get our rest, so we can produce more comics tomorrow!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Review: Starrting Out, Again & Counselling Vanessa-Session Twenty-Three

I've been a bit inactive on my blog the past week due to illness.  Hopefully I make up for that now.

I'm not shifting my topic from last post, as I continue to report on  the success of Out With Dad (still my favorite webseries) season 4.  And by success I mean that the season just keeps getting better!  Let's start today with episode 4.09, Starting Out, Again. In this episode both Nathan and Rose are looking for love.  Or it's looking for them.  This episode feels like the installments in previous seasons to me more than any in season so thus far.  I think perhaps that's because we're seeing events that propel the storyline forward towards an unknown future, as opposed to events that tell us of the past. This is the great interaction between Nathan and Rose that we all know and love!  Smart, funny, and compelling! But also, and most importantly, we have the return of "head Rose" and "head Nathan"!  This is one of the little touches that makes Out With Dad so captivating and unique!

First, there's Nathan reuniting with old (but unfamiliar to we viewers) flame Valery. Nathan is hopelessly goofy and hopeful in his encounter.  It's also nice that, as opposed to previous romantic interest Angela, Nathan tells Rose about the encounter right after it happens. Though he is still concerned about Rose's feelings about him dating. Sigh.  Get over it, man!

Then we have shaved-dead-girl and Rose.  I will admit being prejudiced against shaved-head-girl at first because...well...she has a shaved head.  Or at least a partially shaved head.  Anyway, to an old person like me that's just not very mainstream-seeming and it scared me. However, in her debut we did not get to hear shaved-head-girl talk and didn't really get to know her.  And she seemed a bit forward flirting with Rose.  I think that put me off, too.  Anyway, once we get to hear shaved-head-girl talk to Rose (conveniently due to her calling right when it fits into Rose and Nathan's discussion) she sound really nice and cool.  So now I like her!  Just shows you should not judge people by the first appearance, huh?  Anyway, things look positive for a future between Rose and her new flame with an old name.  In fact, I will now make sure I do not call her shaved-head-girl.  That's silly anyways. I shall refer to her as Vanessa II.  'Cause that's not silly at all.

There's also Nathan's comments on Owen and Nathan's fear that Rose is slipping away.  Funny.  And finally, Nathan's response to Vanessa II's name, which is priceless!!

But now to discuss the continuing tale of Vanessa I. The original and never truly duplicated Vanessa. IAs we see Vanessa in session 23 of her counselling, we hear her speak of her mother.  The statement she makes that hit me the hardest was when she says that she's how there are people like her Mother still in this world.  That's something I can agree with. I know a lot of prejudice goes back generations, but we live in such a time of communication and understanding.  We aren't living in isolated tribes where outsiders are probably going to kill us.  Yet some people won't give up the us-versus-them mentality.

And even if I'm a little prejudiced against young people with weird hair, I don't hate them.  I wouldn't deny them rights.  And I could befriend them, I'm sure.  Even though I'm gonna keep my hair just like it is.

And Vanessa's an Aunt!  Not only is that cool, it gives us a chance to see Vanessa (and Lindsey) smile!

But the comment about losing someone who "wasn't that important" is sad and curious...

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!