Sunday, August 19, 2012

Go (South) Young Man

Yesterday early afternoon, between noon and 1 pm, I was bored. Terribly bored.

I had run all my errands. I had done a tiny bit of writing. I had listened to a few albums and decided I wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to not be bored and I wanted to do something a little off the beaten path.

I had the idea once before, but things got in the way and I wasn't able to. This time I was.

I was going to go for a walk.

No big thing, right? Not something out of the ordinary. People have been doing it for thousands upon millions of years. Walking. Put one foot in front of the other and just start being ambulatory.

Well, my goal was to go investigating. I used to do it all the time when I lived in Lawrence. I used to just walk everywhere and I loved it. I loved seeing random people and random events and just walking by some of the weird oddities you wouldn't necessarily pay attention driving real quick from point A to point B.

I planned to walk South for no specific reason at all. South was where I was heading and as I started, I decided to make a change.

I decided to go with the flow. Easy enough. Not a hard task. Not a hard thing to pull off. Especially because flow, in this particular instance, would include the flow of traffic.

I started South on Broadway, just walking and walking for no real reason other than to walk. I took my idea notebook with me, a pen in one pocket, and my not so extraordinary walk began.

I walked all the way Broadway until about 13th street and that's when the lights changed and I started heading east on Broadway. I took that for awhile, passing a large number of people, stragglers, and just the assorted normal groups of people you'd see on a Saturday walking around a city.

People looking at buildings and taking pictures. Standing in front of the Municipal taking photos. Looking around as if they're lost. Me helping them find their way as they had no idea where they were going. Lots of that.

I passed by a number of restaurants and a number of people heading into restaurants. I passed by people preparing for work at the Midland by AMC. I passed by a large number of groups of people just having their own normal Saturday routines.

At Main Street, the lights changed, and my trip south continued. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. I followed Main Street down to 18th, passing again different groups of people, including a large group of teenage girls who were heading up to the Kauffman Center for what I could only assume was to either perform or watch a performance (I didn't ask as they spent most of their time giggling as they walked). I passed a husband and wife taking a walk with a baby in a stroller and I wondered to myself if they were just doing some exploring of their own. I passed by large numbers of people on what I can assume were their own adventures, and it put a smile on my face.

It was about this time that the sun decided to pop out, taking what had been a leisurely stroll with nice weather all around into something of me being baked by the sun. But I digress.

At 18th street, the lights changed again, and I was heading east once more. At this point, I decided to begin to document my journey. Some of the things I'd seen. Some of the weirdness that had happened. It wasn't too terribly weird by this point. I'd seen a few characters here and there and I'd witnessed a few strange people, but the way I look isn't very comforting, I'm sure, to that many people either. My large beard and massive amounts of hair probably scared a good number of people as I walked as well.

Anyway, again, I was documenting my journey and my path at this point. Nothing strange. I looked down for a solid 10 seconds, heard a loud screech, and then looked up only to see two cars smash together, one being t-boned at the intersection of Grand and 18th street.

I stopped, took a deep breath, and thanked myself for paying enough attention not to step out into the street without looking up. I would have been killed pretty easily had I continued moving forward at my original pace. Had I not been killed, I would have been a witness to the accident itself, instead of just hearing a screech and looking up to see the actual collision. I had no idea who was at fault. All I knew to do was to stop, ensure both people were okay, and wait to see if other witnesses came forward. They were all okay (the woman was shook up and her car was a mess and the man was okay as well). The cops were called. Witnesses stepped forward. So I used the opportunity to continue on, once again heading south now on Grand.

Grand was pretty normal for the most part. I saw a nice woman with a dolly getting shoes for Bob Jones to refill stock. She had remarkably awesome tattoos and was wearing overalls and had a friendly smile. She was actually one of the first people to actually welcome me first with a smile and not a judgmental look prior to my own smile. I'm sure with the tattoos she has that she is also unfairly judged. Happens to all of us. But Bob Jones the store was packed. Tons and tons of people were piling into the store as I passed, and I couldn't honestly remember ever actually being around it during the day when it was opened except one time before. And I didn't pay attention that time.

Continuing down Grand, I passed by the Western Auto Lofts on the West Side of the street and passed by two men with video cameras pointed down off the bridge toward the train tracks below. They discussed the train schedule and how a certain train must be late as it should have passed as I walked by. It was definitely strange. I couldn't understand why these men were taping the trains and what the necessity of ensuring they pass at a certain time was for, but they were arguing about it. I couldn't help but laugh.

Again, still heading south on Grand, I watched as a bicyclist almost clipped a parked car and then was almost clipped by a car passing by him on the other side of him. That was also very strange and very action-packed in my head, only for nothing to happen.

As I hit Pershing, the lights changed again, and my flow pushed me West now, heading once more toward Main Street. Buses passed, tons of people walked by on the opposite side of the street and across Main Street, filing into Union Station and into Crown Center and into the buses. Strange, as it felt that there was a larger group of people than I've seen in those parts for a long time, since the last Christmas tree lighting that I remember going to.

At Main, again, the lights changed, my path changed, and I was once more heading South, this time on Main Street.

Main Street heading South was tough. It's basically all up hill. And with the sun beating down on me, it was even more treacherous than I could have ever imagined. But I continued on. Passing by a number of people on leisurely strolls once more, some smiling at me, others scowling, some not understanding what my big hurry was all about.

But there I was, heading up Main Street, cars passing by quickly and ferociously, and I kept walking. I walked and walked, not stopping once until I happened upon the Baconfest sign on Main Street and I think near 31st street. A couple guys were taking their pictures, all separately, by the sign, and I offered, laughing, to take their picture for them. They accepted, I laughed again, and was once more on my way south.

Walking South on Main Street was fine. No change in direction at all until right by the Wendy's, where there is now construction on that side of the road that closes the sidewalk in front of the car dealership. As I stepped out into traffic, two bicyclists slowly whizzed by, and I swear one of them looked like a girl I used to know.

But anyway, at this point, I stopped, looked both ways, waiting for all the busy traffic around 3 pm on a Saturday to pass by in both directions, and then ran my happy ass across to the other side of Main Street and continued my trek South.

But sadly, by this point, mentally I was done on my trip. My wife was getting back from getting her car worked on and I knew she was heading my way. So at 33rd street, I stopped into the local McDonald's and had what I can only tell you was the world's best soda. Dr. Pepper never tasted as good as it did there.

I gave my change to a couple waiting for the bus and looking much worse for wear than myself, and I waited patiently to be picked up. All told, it was approximately 4 and half miles with all the stops, starts, and running across various streets. Maybe closer to 4 miles, but either way, 4 miles uphill is a pain in the ass.

Next time, I'm going to head East and then North and see how far it will take me. I'm shooting for North Kansas City and beyond.

I'm thinking this can be a permanent fixture in my new life goals. We'll see what happens.
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Goodbye Joe Kubert

The news hit me like a sack of bricks. It struck me in a way that I didn't think possible.

A hero I never got to meet has passed on. And this happens quite a lot. Too much actually.

August 12th is a day that lives in infamy for all comic book fans. Mark Gruenwald died in 1996. Mike Wieringo died in 2007. And now Joe Kubert has died, in 2012.

I want to scream out in agony about it because meeting Joe Kubert was one of the things on my list of things to do before I die. Shake his hand, tell him that his comics made my dad love comics and made him want one of his sons to love comics. It was something passed down from father to son. My dad loved Sgt. Rock and all of Joe's incredible work in war comics. That's what my dad grew up reading. He didn't care for the superheroes and supervillains. He loved war comics, he loved Joe Kubert, and he loved Sgt. Rock.

I remember my dad telling me about Sgt. Rock and what they meant to him. How he would read them and re-read them and re-read them again and share them with his brothers. He never collected them like I collect comics, but he had copies of them when he was a kid. I remember my dad giving me my first comic book and I remember my dad telling me stories about comic books and how he and his brothers would buy them, trade them, read them, and then re-trade them.

That's what comics were. I used to go to comic conventions and look for the old comics my dad loved as a kid. I used to pick up copies of Sgt. Rock and bring them home for him. It was a pastime of mine, flipping through quarter and dollar bins and then every time I found something with Joe Kubert's name on it, I'd buy it for my dad.

And now he's gone. It's terrible. My heart is broken and I can't believe he's gone. We've lost too many people like him and his enormous talent.

A few years ago, I met Adam Kubert at a local signing. I shook his hand, told him all about how amazing I thought his work was, bought a sketchbook with his family's work (including Joe, Adam and Andy) and had an autograph from Joe and Adam right on the cover. It's a prized possession as I've been a fan of the Kubert family literally since my first day of reading comics. I shook his hand before I left the signing and asked Adam to tell Andy and Joe just how much the Kubert family meant to me. I thanked him and that was that.

I feel for Andy and Adam. I know how it feels to be frightened about your father being sick as my dad has been in the hospital before. It's horrifying. I don't know what it's like to lose a parent but I do know what it's like to lose a friend. It's one of the hardest things I've ever gone through.

I'm sorry, Adam and Andy. I'm sorry Kubert family. You are in my thoughts and I hope that you are okay.

Now, this is also about our legends. I've written a blog post or two about our legends and our heroes. We need to make them aware of how much we care. Of how much they mean to us.

I miss Dwayne McDuffie.

I miss Michael Turner.

I miss Moebius.

I miss Mike Wieringo.

I miss Mark Gruenwald.

I miss Jack Kirby.

I miss Dave Cockrum.

I miss Jerry Robinson and Ernie Chan and Gene Colan and John Severin and Harvey Pekar and Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Will Eisner and John Buscema and there are countless others who I can't think of right now that I will probably immediately think of upon posting this list.

Do not forget to tell your icons and your legends and your heroes about what they mean to you. If it's someone you know personally, tell them today. If it's someone you know online, send them a message and tell them what their work means to you. If it's someone you only follow in comics and want to let them know that you care, write a blog or post something to your public Facebook wall or tell them in person at a comic convention. Let them know that you are a fan and that their work has changed your life.

There are so many comic book creators who have changed my life. The above list is only a small portion of those people and are only those who have died that I can think of right now. There are countless others still living that I follow and that I love and that I will let know how I feel about them.

Do not let time slip by. Tell them they've changed your life. Be honest about their work and just continue to enjoy the amazing things that they do.

Goodbye Joe Kubert. Your work has been a staple of my life for 20 years and will continue to be as I keep moving through this strange world. Goodbye and good luck. We'll see you again someday.
Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Deserve to Be Happy...

"We are only what we know, and I wished to be so much more than I was, sorely."
-David Mitchell

I've said a great many things in my life and I've done a great many things in my life. Right now seems like a very important time in our history, and that's why I won't be reviewing the Batman movie just yet. I'll do that later.

Right now, I want to discuss something close to home.

I woke up today, frantic, something was wrong. Something was amiss. I didn't know what it was, but I have this longing urge to change myself. To change my world. To do something drastic that will make my world different.

An adventure?

A new job?

A new hairstyle or clothing style?

I don't know what it is. I still don't, after spending the entire day thinking about it, wondering about it, contemplating it. I'm human, I make mistakes, but I wasn't sure what it was.

I've spoken my mind throughout my entire life. I went to Catholic school from preschool through 12th grade, and that changed who I was. I would like to think in a good way, but the mileage varies.

Today, I read a number of news stories. Over the last few months, I've read more and more stories about the same things. And I've noticed, while I'm going through some continued crisis within my own life, the world is going through a crisis.

There are people who are fighting for what's right and what they believe is right. And I've been too chickenshit to say what I think. I've backed down for fear of ruffling feathers. I've kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to step on any toes and tell people that they're wrong and I'm right.

And because I've kept my mouth shut, I've realized that there were a number of wrong things that I was doing. One of them was thinking that I'm always right and that everyone else is always wrong. God knows I'm an opinionated son of a bitch.

But here we are, at a crossroads of life. People are screaming and tearing at each other over something that some of us see as an easy response.

Should gay people be allowed to marry? Or shouldn't they? And it's all boiled down to chicken restaurants, liberals and conservatives choosing sides, and the Muppets declaring their own side.

I firmly stand beside the Muppets. I believe that everyone and anyone should be allowed to be happy, so long as that doesn't hurt other people. I believe that my parents taught me right and wrong and taught me what it means to be a decent human being and not force my beliefs on others and tell them they're wrong. I believe that the family I have continued building throughout my life has helped me to hone these beliefs and keep changing them, growing with them.

I don't think we should argue about freedom of speech. Everyone, including neo-Nazis and other various scum of the Earth, have every right to say what they believe, so long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

But, here's the thing: Gay people are being hurt every single day by this. Sally Ride was gay. She was an American Hero and Hero for Women everywhere. She was. She was gay. She had a partner that didn't get the same rights as any hetero-sexual just because she was in love with another woman. She was a hero and she died knowing that the woman she loved would not be treated with respect.

How horrible is that? To think that a woman who changed the face of the space race and made the world different and gave girls a look inside what it meant to be in a man's world (really, it wasn't, it was just seen that way), to think that this woman was then treated as a second class citizen just because of the person she loved. She loved a woman. Does that make her any less of a hero?

Absolutely not. No fucking way in a million years does that change who she was.

But some people don't agree with that. Some people are terrified when their little boy plays with Barbie dolls and loves the color pink. Some people are horrified when their daughter wants to play softball and brings home their date for the prom, Brittany. Some people are mortified by the sheer idea that their son or daughter who isn't born yet might end up gay that when they are born they do everything in their power to make them straight, only to then lose that child when the child commits suicide or runs away from home, never to be heard from again.

This has to stop. This has to change.

We are a nation of 250 million + people that don't have to be this way.

Think about the 1950s and 1960s. Think about the Civil Rights movement. Is this a similar time in our lives? It damn well could be. Look to your children in the same room as you and ask yourself, would you want them dead or alive? Would your child being gay be better or worse than them killing themselves?

Are gay people any different from you or me? I'm straight, I love women, but you know what, any single person who is gay is no different than me. They love who they love, they were born with that as part of themselves (whether you want to believe it or not), and they are no different from us. Just like a black person is born black or an Asian is born Asian, gay people are born gay. Some people try to fight the tendencies, some don't.

Most that try to fight the tendencies do so because they think they have to (again, this is just my belief). I know in my heart that if I was gay, my friends and my family would accept me. They wouldn't turn their backs on me. They would fight for me, they would stand up for me, and goddammit, I am sick of people turning their backs on people who need them.

I'm not going away. I've had a rough couple of weeks and a rough year, but I will not turn my back on you. No matter where I am in my life, I will fight for you. I will do everything in my power to help you. And this is if you're gay or straight. This is if you're on the right or the left. This is for everyone.

This is not just for one side or the other. This is for you. You who is reading this post. You who is thinking about their lives right now.

I've fought depression and suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember, but I will never stop fighting. I won't give up. I won't give up on anything. And I won't give up on you.

So if you are in a place where people are demeaning you because of the person you love, speak up. Tell the world that they're wrong. Tell the world why you love someone. Tell the world what it means to you to be gay or straight. Tell the world your story.

Do not back down.

Do not give up.

Do not stop fighting.

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?"
-David Mitchell

Friday, June 29, 2012

For the Love of Comics: A Grant Morrison Story

Someone whose opinion I respect a ton told me to be honest but to be kind. To be less brutal and to be open and to be sure that what I'm saying isn't offensive. Isn't a bad thing. Isn't just shitting on something to shit on something.

Again, I respect his opinion immensely. And I agree.

I've been shitting on Grant Morrison a lot recently. I've been unfair. I've been pointing fingers. I've been doing a lot of nasty things. And I'll tell you why:

I'm jealous.

Jealousy rears it's ugly head in a lot of weird ways. And I'll be honest, I'm immensely jealous of Grant Morrison and his fanbase.

I've spoken a lot of nasty things or questioned his talents or spoke ill of him as a person or writer or talent or whatever you want to say. Here's the thing though:

I was a huge fan of Grant Morrison for a long time. Here's some of the stuff of his I've liked in no particular order:

New X-men
Animal Man
Doom Patrol
Joe the Barbarian
Arkham Asylum
All-Star Superman
Flex Mentallo
Marvel Boy

So am I a full-time all-around hater of Grant Morrison? I would say no. All of the above I own either some single issues of or trade paperbacks or hardcovers of. I've read his New X-men stuff about 10 times in hardcover and I've read his JLA in trades (the first 4 trades) about 5 or so times and All-Star Superman a few times as well.

So yeah, jealousy is a bitch. I'm glad my friend called me out on my shit.

But here's the thing: I do think that maybe it's a difference of opinion. It's not that I don't like his work because he works for DC. I'm not the biggest fan of the New DC 52 and I've been pretty vocal in my disappointment of that. I wanted to like it and I sampled a few but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't stick with some of them (though Flash is an incredible comic book by incredibly talented people).

I don't have any interest in Batman Inc and I didn't before the relaunch. I just don't get the appeal of a Batman who has a worldwide network of Batmen. It takes away from the mystique of Batman. It's cool that he has people all over the world that he's inspired, but an Outsiders style book would work in the same sense and wouldn't have to be bogged down as a corporation.

But again, I digress...

I'm jealous that Grant Morrison has the fanbase where people will spend upwards of $1200 to see him and hang out with him and hear him talk. I'm jealous that people want to hear his stories and want to pay him exorbitant amounts of money for his ideas and his plots. I wish I had that.

Now, I do think that he may have fallen into a holding pattern with his more mainstream work. It happened to Chris Claremont. It happened to John Byrne. It happened to Frank Miller. It's happened to a lot of the big name guys because their ego gets in the way or they get set in their ways. It happens to all of us. Hell, it happens to me when I'm hating instead of participating. Which is what I should be doing.

I'm just not interested in his Batman work. I wasn't interested in Batman and Son. I wasn't interested in RIP. I wasn't interested in Final Crisis or 52 or a bunch of the other stuff that he's done because they just didn't speak to me. And I love Batman. I'm going to the Dark Knight Trilogy in IMAX in spite of the fact that I own 2 of the 3 movies on Blu-ray and have seen the first two in theaters probably about 12 times total (8 for DK and 5 for BB). I love Dark Victory and Haunted Knight and Long Halloween and City of Crime and Under the Red Hood and Man who Laughs and Year One and Year 100 and Dark Knight Returns and Gotham after Midnight and Hush and quite a few others. I loved Snyder's Detective run with Dick Grayson as Batman.

But I just couldn't get excited about Grant's run on Batman. I'm not excited about Batman Inc.

What I am excited about is Happy from Image. I'm excited to see if he can shed some of the corporate weight that might have bogged down his writing and just soar with a new crazy idea. I'm worried it might turn out to be Filth again but I'm hoping it might be Flex Mentallo or We3 again. I don't know what to expect because I haven't seen much for it, but who knows? It could be crazy.

I just don't get it. I think it's fantastic that Isotope is putting his show on. I think it's something that could get people really excited about comics, but I'm worried it's too pricey for the common fan and it would just be crazy rich people and super-obsessed fans of his.

That's all well and good when you have money, but again, jealousy rears it's ugly, huge, angry head when you can't pay your bills and everything is pressing down and just shoveling you off into the dark ether of being pissed off all hours of the day.

But this is about Grant Morrison. I need to take my friend's advice and another well-known writer's advice and stop hating and start criticizing. What don't I like about Grant Morrison's Batman comics? I think they're too steeped in trying to harken back to old stories. Wouldn't it be awesome to have a Batman comic that wasn't hindered by 70 years of continuity and instead leapt into the future headlong?

Like Batman Beyond? Just move forward. Keep moving. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can use this newfound hope for comics and newfound attempts at participating more in the creation and love of comics and less about the anger and just vitriol that doesn't need to be spewed.

This might be an ongoing blog topic. A comic creator and what they used to mean to me and what I hope they might some day mean to me again. That might be fun.
Friday, June 15, 2012

Comic Books Created as Movie Pitches Only

Let's take a stroll down memory lane before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article. This blog. Whatever you want to call it.

Here we are at another of my posts, and I want to remind you of something: I've loved comics for a very long time. Comics were actually ingrained in my brain from a young age because of two things: Comic book movies like Superman and Batman and cartoons like X-men and Spider-man. This is what happened.

When I was a kid, my dad bought me my comic books, but he didn't start buying them for me until after I started watching the movies and the cartoons. Not until after I had seen Rocketeer and Dick Tracy and a bunch of other comic book/comic strip movies. Not until after I had watched Superman 1 through 4 and not until after I had seen Batman and right before Batman Returns came out. I remember, I had Batman and Batman Returns and He-Man and a bunch of other toys when I was a kid, like Transformers, GI Joe, MASK (I'll talk about that in the near future), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, and a slew of other geek culture cartoons and toy series.

I was in hog heaven. I loved comic books before I even knew there was such a thing as comic books. I loved geek culture before I knew what geek culture was. I grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Last Starfighter and Willow, Princess Bride and Aliens and Predator and Highlander.

Geek culture was completely stuck in my brain.

Then I started seeing cartoons like X-men and Spider-man. Then I started getting the toys. Then I started watching the movies and the cartoons religiously. Then I started reading the comics. That is a bit of background for you as we delve into this topic:

Creating comic books for the express purpose of doing them as movie pitches. How do I feel about it? What are my thoughts about it?

That's a really heavy question. Eric Stephenson, a man much smarter and much more up on the knowledge of comic books and the inner workings of the company of comics, makes a few sound comments. I don't need to post them below because tons of other sites have. I mean, I can link to them if you want, but I won't. Okay, you twisted my arm:

If you look outside comics, there is original new fiction of all stripes – and novels are adapted into films and television shows even more frequently than comics – but are the writers behind those books being accused of generating new ideas simply to pitch to other media?

Or is it just that certain comics readers somehow feel threatened by the fact that not all writers and artists want to filter their creativity through someone else's characters and ideas?

This is pretty much the gist of the argument: is creating a comic book and wanting to keep the rights for yourself so that you can make a movie out of it or a TV show or a cartoon or toys a bad thing? Is it bad to want to keep the rights to your property like novelists do or other people in different walks of life do? 

He's missing a large portion of the argument here, but we'll look at this point first. Is it bad? Absolutely not. I'm in the process of pitching about 15 creator-owned ideas. All of them have the ability to be movies, cartoons, toys, video games, etc etc. Or a combination of one or all. Do I want to keep the rights so that I can then sell a screenplay that I've written and make a movie that maybe I could direct? No, absolutely not.


The argument is immediately flawed because that isn't the argument. Comics fans and comics professionals aren't talking about rights in this thing. They aren't thinking about how Todd McFarlane owns the rights to Spawn or how Robert Kirkman (and Robert Kirkman alone, apparently) holds the rights to Walking Dead. 

They're thinking about people like Mark Millar and countless others who are making comics specifically to make movies. There are millions of comics creators who are making comics because they love comics. I love comics. I want to make my comics because I think they can be insanely awesome comics, on par with crazy stuff like Casanova or Locke and Key (yeah, I'm going for lofty aspirations but I doubt any of my work is close to any of their work).

I want to create comics so that I can tell stories. If I get to keep the rights and I get to make movies out of them and toys and cartoons, fantastic. If I get to tell my stories as comic books and people read them and love them and I never make a movie or TV show out of them, that's fantastic too. I will have given people something fun to read and enjoy and think about. 

Sure I want to write a magnum opus comic book/novel/movie/cartoon series/toy series, but that's not the endgame of every single comic book that I write. I'm thinking about the printed page. I'm thinking about writing something that you may never have seen that will blow your mind.

I'm thinking about comic books. I'm thinking about the now.

Mark Millar, who is the first name in my head who isn't a Hollywood celebrity or whoever, seems to be making comic books for the express purpose of making films. Kick-Ass was number one property. He wanted a superhero book that he could own and sell and make money off. He wanted sequel rights, he wanted toy and television rights, he wanted to make something that would last. He didn't, but some people seem to think he has. Then he did Nemesis and Supercrooks and he's out there, announcing as he is putting the comic books out, who is directing and who is writing the screenplays and who he wants to play them.

It's all pomp and circumstance, because 9 times out of 10, the movie announcement seems to happen before the first issue even comes out. Supercrooks and Kick-Ass 2 are perfect examples. Kick-Ass was out in theaters before the last issue came out. An 8 issue mini-series that couldn't get in stores and make fans of people before the movie could be written, filmed, screened, and damn near hit DVD.

That is the problem. That is one of the major problems. There are tons of creators who are using this method to make their comic books. They think that SuperDuperIronButterflyFrancis is the next big superhero franchise. They think in terms of 6 seasons and a movie, or a trilogy of movies, or 3 movies and a TV spin-off. They think that the Motherfucking Spectacled Bee is the next big summer blockbuster tentpole series.

It isn't. Kick-Ass the movie sucked. It ripped off countless other movies and countless other soundtracks and just seemed like a rushed pile of shit. It didn't have a fanbase because no one knew what it was and no one really understood why there was a little girl killing people or why Nic Cage was awesome in a movie again.

Here's the deal: The only way to stop this is to stop this. But it won't happen until comic book companies and movie production houses pay better attention to their fans and to the people that need them, the people that make their money for them. It'll never happen, but hell, we can dream right? 

Comic book companies, in general, are severely lacking in self-worth. They look down on their fans almost as much if not more than movie companies. No one cares about anything but the next big thing. No one cares about legacies (unless you're DC and you think legacies are the only way to create comics). No one cares about setting up a history that doesn't have to be torn down and rebuilt every few years. 

No one cares, and that's why there are millions of comic books out there by people like Carrot Top and Kathy Griffin and Grant Morrison begging for your money as they're already signing million dollar contracts to make a movie out of something they don't give a shit if you read because millions of people will see it in theaters next summer anyway. 

It's a long walk off a short pier, but it seems like that's the plan. Savage the best of comics and make the worst of movies for the lowest common denominator. We, the fans, mean nothing.

Unless we change our own outlooks. And that's what I'm doing. I'm making comic books to make comic books. I'm writing and creating for the sake of building a legacy and a history. And maybe a name for myself. And if a movie deal happens, fantastic. If it doesn't, just read my comics, would you?
Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prometheus: A Review/Insane Ramble

This may end up becoming more of an insane ramble as we end the review, but I need to get my thoughts out there. Please be advised that there will be spoilers from here on out, as well as a full discussion of the film, what I thought, what I'm still thinking about it, and many other things.

So it'd be best for you to turn around now, see the movie, and then come back, if you haven't already. Or see it a second time to let it just get inside the grooves of your brain. Because I'm planning on going back, at least once. Maybe two more times. Maybe three. Maybe I might see it in 3D Imax. Maybe. But please be aware, this movie is a slow burn to a full reveal. It offers questions and answers, probably more questions, but if you like science fiction films with horror and thrills sprinkled throughout, then watch this movie.

Anyway, still here? Then read on....

Okay, the review. The movie opens with a big tall white dude, who is called an Engineer or a Space Jockey depending on your own nomenclature, who takes a big swig of what appears to be a Venom symbiote 40, and then dies, breaking apart in water. My understanding of this is his action brings life to humans and possibly countless other peoples and groups and animals and sexes and this, that and that other thing over there.

Basically, he's Space Jesus, as a few people have mentioned before me. He's opening doors for the rest of the universe by dying, sacrificed for our future sins. What a guy/alien.

Beyond that, the movie is beautiful. But we'll talk beauty as we move through this thing. We're in Scotland now and two crazy scientists (one a Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and one some douche who was in a crappy movie produced by M. Night Shyamalan and looks like a low-budget Tom Hardy) find these runes/cave drawings and learn the secret of the universe, or what they think is the secret: That there is a group of people/aliens/beings/gods that want us to find something. They are calling us to the beginnings of our own creation.

It's weird. It's insane. But it gets weirder and more insane.

Ellie (Ripley basically) and Tom Hardy lookalike and a crew of about 15 or so go off to said planet, LV-223. And before you freak out, yes it's a different planet from Alien. Yes we can explain that. No you're fine, stop shaking, it'll be explained. The crew consists of the badass motherfucker named David played by Michael motherfucking Fassbender (as he shall forever be called) who just so happens to be an android who loves the movie Lawrence of Arabia and playing basketball on a bicycle; Meredith Vickers played by Charlize Theron in the best thing she's done in for-fucking-ever, and she's a stone cold bitch who might or might not be an android also; Idris Elba, and really, it doesn't matter who he plays because he could play Madea in Madea's Big Fat Fuck You Tyler Perry and play every single comic book superhero in one movie and I'd still love the guy; Benedict Wong, keeping his pimp-hand strong, as one of the crew of Prometheus (fun fact, he's in Sunshine and Moon, both amazing sci-fi movies that not enough people ever saw and goddamn you for not seeing it); Rafe Spall (playing a nerd like only the Spall men can, but with an American accent no doubt); a dude with a mohawk who's a scientist and has cool tattoos, and hologram Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland (again, make a superhero movie with Idris Elb and Guy Pearce as every character, and I'd see it a million times/hell, they should play Luke Cage and Iron Fist: DO IT MARVEL RIGHT NOW!!!). And a bunch of fodder, basically beyond these people. Some people with weird accents and just a strong desire to die, basically. They signed up to get paid.

Okay, back on track. They go to LV-223 because Ellie and the douche have an idea that the Engineers/Space Jockeys want them to know about their beginnings. And Peter Weyland pays for the whole trip for a group of 15 people to fly across space over a 2 year span and figure out what this all means. That's a giant leap of faith, Pete, hope it pays off for you.

They get to LV-223 and begin exploring. They find these globes/domes/dunes and go to it in their space buggies and space dropship trucks. It looks like they're in Platoon in Space and Mario Kart in Space at the same time, but hey, space! They get inside the dunes and the crazy mohawk-tattooed guy (played by Sean Harris, a British guy) uses his brain power to send off these two drones that apparently he had from before and uses them (and I guess he had more than just two, but whatever) to scope out and map the dune. Boom, done, right? Let's all head back to the ship.

Fuck that shit, let's keep exploring, says the scientists everyone is really starting to fucking hate on this crew.

They all go along with it and keep exploring and then find a dead alien missing it's head. There's also some strange hologram/weirdo space wet dream thing going on where they see the space jockeys running around as if they were a missing loop in a video feed or whatever. Anyway, they find dead alien with missing head and figure that he lost his head because the door cut it off. David uses his badass motherfucking robot brain to open said door and read the glyphs on it (instead of using his sweet Magneto-powers) and boom, door opens, head found, woohoo. We should go to the ship and check this shit out, right?

Fuck that shit, let's keep exploring, says the scientists we're all secretly hoping get chest-bursted immediately.

They continue inside the dune and find some vases/plants/crypts and shit gets real here. This is where my breakdown of the movie is going to become more of a review/discussion on the film. The vases were safe and sound, hidden behind this door and many others in the ship, for god knows how long. Centuries, possibly. And with one footstep of humanity, they fuck everything up.

Basically, the way I look at it is, the vases start oozing because they've been left alone. The door closed and they were left to their own devices. Who knows what killed the space jockeys, but here they are, vases full of goop. And the motherfuckers look at them, inspect them, touch them, and get shit really going nutty. David takes a sample with him and they leave, somehow finding a way to split up the crew and leave the Spall and Mohawk guy separated and alone.

On the ship, David does some looking about the vase/goop and starts to become dastardly. Again, this whole movie could feature no one else besides Motherfucking Fassbender and it would still be all kinds of awesome. He fucks with the douche and basically infects him with the goop, for a slew of reasons. They had a discussion about what all the douche would do to prove his thesis. The douche said anything, all while talking shit on androids, Magneto, Irish people and I'm sure people with blond hair. So David does what any of us would do, puts some of the goop in a glass that he hands to the douche and boom, testing begins. By the way, if you didn't notice the insane amount of detail in this movie, they show David's finger in a close-up right before this, and there's a Weyland W on it as part of the fingerprint. Too awesome.

So shit really hits the fan starting here. The douche impregnates, with an alien baby, Ellie. Ellie and David have words about her baby after the douche gets lit up with a torch. Shit goes down, and the movie really kicks off.

The mohawk guy and Spall become something else, I think. Spall might just die, as he is facehugged, essentially, by a worm Alien, and the mohawk guy is just infested with the black goop, basically. The mohawk guy makes it back to the ship, takes out some of the no-name people on the ship with super-punches and uppercuts and flipkicks and then gets torched himself. And space shotgunned, I think.

Shit keeps going down and then it gets real. There is a space abortion. The space abortion scene is one of the craziest things I've ever seen in a movie that had as a big a budget as this and as far-reaching of an advertising campaign. I've seen Troma films, I've seen Re-animator and a bunch of Peter Jackson's early stuff and I've seen weird movies with penis-aliens, but this was something else. A big budget, on screen, space abortion. Woo. Ellie has the space abortion and then proceeds to haul ass back to others, get a spacesuit on, and then go back and finish the motherfucking alien/engineers because this shit got real for her when she yanked out an umbilical cord attached to an alien fetus.

Okay, I can't spoil everything, but from here we get an android getting his head ripped off, we see Pete Weyland is actually alive and on the ship, Meredith might be an android, and Idris and his pimptastic team of badass motherfuckers help take down the alien ship from escaping. The flick ends with the possibility of a sequel, as all good/great movies should.

The questions I'm still asking myself after this movie are below, with some of my believed answers:

Why is it on LV-223 and not LV-426?

I believe that there were different groups of jockeys/engineers. Some that worshiped life. Some that worshiped death. I believe that the dude who died at the very beginning is what caused the split in ranks between the engineers. Some believe humanity to be the next step in evolution, others are super-fucking pissed for humanity destroying Space Jesus and want everyone to pay for what we did. I believe that maybe on LV-223 the vases/goop could become whatever they wanted it to become, and maybe the fact that humanity stepped foot in there before anyone else caused the vases/goop to become a destroyer. It was the last act of a desperate group of people to stave off their own extinction.

I also think that LV-426 is one of 5 planets, total, that the engineers/jockeys used to create life. LV-223 and LV-426 are the two we know. But what don't we know about? Maybe the engineers/jockeys created the Predators as a way to keep everyone in line. They are hunters, they destroy, maybe they are the only thing that can truly destroy the aliens/Xenomorphs. Think of it this way, they both have green blood (Xenomorphs are acid blood). They both destroy. They both have hiding mechanisms. They both hate humans, especially ones that carry weapons. The Predators even look a bit like the Engineers/Jockeys, which I think was done on purpose. The other thing is, The Predators go about nuking shit if it gets too real and they can't hang anymore. So I believe that they are interrelated, even beyond what 20th Century Fox and Paul WS Anderson tried to force us to believe.

Why do they hate humans?

Because we killed Space Jesus. Easy question/easy answer.

This movie has more Christ-like/religious metaphors and allusions than any I've seen in a long time. It deals with evolution and creationism all at once, and it's hilarious at that.

How can there be a squid, a worm, and then finally, a Xenomorph, in the same movie?

Again, another easy question/answer. The Engineers/Jockeys created a vastly different group of biological weapons, and we're only seeing a small portion of them here. The worm alien was created by the goop mixing with a worm, the Mohawk guy mixed with the goop and turned into a crazed super-zombie motherfucking face crasher (might be bath salts), the squid was the inside/face-huggery/thingie that came out of Ellie's womb, and the Xenomorph is what happened when you mixed the human embryo with the the squid hugger and the squid hugger with the Engineer. My thought on this is that this is the first, true Xenomorph, and yet, it's still not exact. That Xenomorph will probably become a queen, as it had the extra-extendable elongated head and extra-inside head, and will lay a shit ton of eggs that will all have face huggers inside of it that look much closer to the huggers from the Alien Quadrilogy and when they mix with humans they beget the true Xenomorphs. Chicken and egg scenario, really.

If this works, then LV-426 will have to have something similar on it to breed/mix with another human, or even possibly with Ellie. Otherwise, the Queen in Aliens makes no sense and the shit ton of eggs makes no sense. We'll see what they do in the sequel, Prometheuses or Prometheus 2: Electric Boogaloo or Prometheus 2: Prometheus Harder or Prometheus 2: Ellie Poops Out Another Embryo or whatever they call it.

It will have to to make some sense. Or they can leave it as is. Prometheus 2 can be Prometheus 2: Ellie and David's Head's Wild Ride and Alien can be the sequel to Prometheus. Then we leave it open to interpretation, which in my mind, is what they should do.

That's all I can think about now. I'm sure I've got more crazy, creaky theories and more crazy wacked out ideas, but my brain is officially fried for the evening. Hope you like my odd-ass review of this movie, but in a nutshell, I loved it. I love that it made me think and is still making me think. I love that it changed the game in a way so much better and so much more exciting than Space Pocahontas. I really do.

And I hope that this is the beginning of a new genre. Something bold and exciting like this needs to keep happening. Hollywood needs it. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Down Day

Today was not a good day. Today was a bad day. For a writer, for someone with the wish of being a professional, full-time writer, you struggle everyday. You struggle with identity, you struggle with money, you struggle to live.

Being a full-time writer with problems with depression and self-doubt and self-esteem issues amplifies all of that by about a million.

I'm trying to become a full-time writer, and at the same time, I'm trying to find a full-time day job to pay the bills and help the wife and I stay afloat. It's not fun. It's like having three full-time jobs, not including finding time to go to the gym to help me lose the weight I've gained at my day job and not including finding time to spend with family and friends and not including every little thing that goes into an every day life.

You're pulling yourself in 15 different directions, all at once. You're trying to go to the gym to lose weight. You're trying to find a new place to live that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. You're trying to become a full-time writer. You're trying to pay bills. You're trying to be a good husband, son, friend and co-worker.

You're trying to do everything and failing at all of it.

It's like being a Jack of all trades. You are, effectively in your own life, a master of nothing. You're pulling your hair out and tearing your flesh and falling to pieces.

The sun beats down on you even when it's dark outside.

You don't sleep. You can't eat (and when you do, it's not healthy). You have to think about everyone else when all you want to think about is yourself and when you think about yourself, it drives you crazy and makes you want to just leave the world behind. Forever.

It's a terrible thing to think about. It's a terrible way to live. But here we are. This happens a lot during a year, every year, and it comes and goes. It's never one month (though September is a pretty good barometer of when this will happen again). It's never just one day. It's not like it happens for an hour and goes away. And it's not something you know will happen.

People, over the years, have suggested seeing a psychiatrist. Psychologist. Whatever. I haven't. I've had depression and self-doubt since I was in middle school and blah blah blah, we all have problems when we're growing up. A lot of us leave those thoughts behind and grow into well-developed adults.

Most of us don't have dreams that are soul-crushing in how incredibly difficult it is to make happen. My mom wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. I wanted to write and create comics and movies. I wanted to be creative in my life, not be under someone else's beck and call every day.

And here I am, working at a job I hate, living a life I don't always enjoy, and fearing the future. Some days I'm great. I'm on top of the world. I'm thinking that the greatest thing I've ever written is being written right that second. I'm thinking that the project I'm working on is going to be the one that makes me a success.

And then the next minute, I'm back here. I'm back, struggling with the weight of the world on my shoulders, and I can't get it off. I can't shrug it off. I can't do anything but struggle. I want to give up but I can't. Something inside of me is telling me not to give up.

That something is named Justin and he was my friend for a short period of time. But knowing someone like I knew Justin and not knowing that he was suicidal still kills me, everyday.

I saw what his death did to his family. To his friends. And now, almost 10 years later, I still struggle with it. But it made me think before I did anything like taking my life. The thoughts come and go, the pain comes and goes, but the pain of taking myself away from those people who do care about me, who do need me, who do like hearing my voice or seeing my face or reading my stories (no matter how little I sometimes like to), that pain would never go away.

It's etched into my heart and my soul and my entire being and it always will be. I've been thinking about it in the back of my head for weeks now. My apartment lease is up on September 9th, and he killed himself on the 12th of September in 2003.

That's just a part of it. He's the reason I don't go down this dark path as often as I used to. I still struggle, I still see the path, and I still fight against it.

It's terrifying to live this life with no knowledge of where I'm going. I have hope that I'll be a full-time writer of comics and screenplays someday. I have hope that maybe it will happen sooner rather than later. I have hope, and some days, that's all I have.

Today, I have hope. Tomorrow? I don't know.
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