Friday, November 25, 2011

Santor, he cometh

As we roll into the Holiday Shopping season...

As we begin the Holiday Season, remember that your Christmas shopping need not be just another annoying trip to the mall.

Try to enjoy yourself a little this Christmas.

The Texas Showdown Closes Down (UT wins!)

I did not expect UT to win the annual Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M.  Yes, the UT Longhorns were ranked, and A&M had slipped from ranking, but this year, UT's ranking fortunes have just felt like a fluke of other's misfortunes and some oddly-had luck more than the hard-earned rankings of the COlt McCoy and VY years.  While I do believe our defense has been fairly effective this season, its clear the Longhorn offense is still a mess.

In the end, it came down to a last second field goal kicked by UT's Justin Tucker, who has been near-flawless all season.  But it also came down to UT's defense uncharacteristically more or less rolling over to A&M's fairly punishing drive in the final minutes, looking for all the world like a team that was going to have the last word.  And, of course, Case McCoy demonstrating some clear thinking in the last minute that he really hadn't shown too much this season.

I hope Texas Aggies feel like it was a good game.  We were certainly consoling ourselves with this thought at the 1:25 mark in the 4th quarter when we watched the UT lead melt away.

But then Tucker made the field goal.  So, it was a good night to be a Longhorns fan.

Tucker gets tackled by jubilant Longhorns
Of COURSE the game means something.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Signal Corps!

Hey! We're taking the day off to spend time with family and friends.  Maybe hang some Christmas lights.  We hope you get to have a good day with those you love and their hangers-on.

We are all grateful for Pantsless Marilyn Monroe with a blunderbuss

Eat a nice meal. Try not to roll your eyes too much at Weird Aunt Gertrude.  Give thanks to the secular institution and/ or entity that matches your religious doctrine.

Depending on what the nephews ate for lunch, we could be witnessing the start of the first naturally occurring Turducken.

We'll see you later, when the schedule clears up a little.  Enjoy yourselves, and don't be strangers.

welcome to the Disney Thanksgiving, which was held this year just outside of Uncanny Valley

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alvin Schwartz Merges with the Infinite

Comics writer Alvin Schwartz, whose tenure at DC stretched from the Golden Age to the Silver Age, has passed at age 95.

Truthfully, I am not familiar with Schwartz's bio, only that his name appears again and again in reprints that I read of old school DC comics.

Schwartz is likely most famous in Superman-fan circles as the writer who (1) created Bizarro, and (2) believed he had actually met Superman in a cab.

I say:  sure, why not?  Superman tends to move between the various worlds of the multiverse.  Why not ours?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DC New 52 catch up and what else am I reading?

I'm tapped out of ideas, so I thought I'd take stock of what I'm up to on my readership of the New 52 titles and share with you guys.

Justice League - Picking up monthly. I like this well enough, and I am actually a fan of Jim Lee's art. Its not exactly screaming "epic" to me at this time, but its a good enough read. I just wish it were $3.
Action Comics - Picking up monthly and still, likely, my favorite of the New 52. But I'm pre-disposed to Morrison, Superman, exploration of the character through a new lens, etc... But the art, story, etc... have all worked well for me.
Animal Man - Picking up monthly. This and Swamp Thing have been the biggest shockers of the New 52 for me. A great fantasy-horror read.
Batgirl - I'll try the trade of the first issues. The first issue was somewhat not in my wheelhouse, but I dug the energy Simone brough to the book.
Batwing - I was SHOCKED by how much I liked the first issue and may pick up the trade.
Detective Comics - No.
Green Arrow - Likely not, and the changes on the creative team by issue 3 tell me this isn't something I want to delve into.
Hawk and Dove - I'm afraid not.
Justice League International - I did not care for the first issue. I don't get why they launched this book now.
Men of War - I've seen some people rave about this book, but its a bastardization of DC war books, and I find the premise and carry through equally... not my thing.
O.M.A.C. - Another shocker. I'm picking this up monthly. How is it Dan Didio is associated with a book I find this wacky and enjoyable?
Static Shock - utter disappointment. I am not picking up this trade.
Stormwatch - no.
Swamp Thing - Monthly, and YES. This is a good continuation of the Swamp Thing I enjoyed in college and in trades with an all-new spin. I think it's advisable to read this book alongside Animal Man.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A New Excerpt from The Great American Novel - From Chapter 41

I've made a lot of progress on my novel since last we discussed how it was slow going.  The chapters are averaging out to about 25 pages, but some have been a lot longer.  Turns out I have a lot to say on this topic.

Kaya has been through a lot by this point, and while its definitely unfair to drop all of this on you context-free, I think I need to share a little bit of my work so I know its not just me doing this all on my lonesome, and that it'll be worth it.  I figure I'm probably about to hit the 2/3rds marker and head into what my film school teachers called "the third act" (although I have no actors, so I may be misusing the term).  But this IS a bit about character development, and as we were so plot heavy last time, I wanted to give some hints as to Kaya's past, and give the reader a chance to see a pensive Kaya in a thinking, emotional moment.

So, without further ado...  (oh, this is about 6 pages into Chapter 41).  

Oh, and, yeah, there may be some spoilers.

    The screaming outside the reinforced steel doors was immeasurably loud, but nowhere near as loud as the voice in Kaya's head reminding her that this was nothing compared to the heartache she felt knowing Drumicus was out there, too.  She fought herself, wanting to run to the big, red button beside the door marked "OPEN", but if she did, these old women and children didn't stand a chance.  She might, but not these little ones who had not yet been hardened by the world, and certainly not trained, hour after hour.  Not like herself.
    Her mind flashed to the cool mountain green valley and the pond that gurgled and burped outside the rice paper doors of the dojo, and the silly cat that lived on the grounds watching her, year after year, transforming her body from that of a girl to that of a living weapon.  There had been endless days and nights of sparring, learning forms and movement, but that was necessary if one were to become Samurai.  Yes, she was a prodigy, and Sensei Atoki always said she was the finest student he'd ever seen.
    But she never finished the training, did she?  No.  She had a weakness then.  A weakness she would not give in to again.
    The old women watched her in silence, no doubt remembering when their own stomachs might have been as taught and trim, showing between a leather sports bra and the gun-belt that rode her hips.  And the children...  some of them could have been her own siblings (twins!, she recalled), looking up at her just as desperately now over the frustrated shrieks of the Vamps outside as her brother and sister had once looked upon her.
    Dammit!  Not again!  This time, they were all leaving.  All together.  Vampires or not.  Something she had not been able to do for Krista and Kyle, so long, long ago.
   "What are we going to do?" Bryan asked decisively.
   "Well," she shook her head.  "I don't know.  We have to get these kids out of here.  And the old women.  This door only opens to the outside, and we know what's out there.  I've got about eight charges left in my Faze-Pistol, and the Katana of Dancing Dragons is thirsty enough for Vamp throats, but I'm still just one.  I'd make it, and maybe you, but not all these old women and kids."
    Bryan nodded his head mournfully, the long locks at the back of his head tied back now in the warrior's ponytail, like some amazing lost medieval warrior. "Still, its weird how much these vamps want these particular kids and old women."
    "They're just hungry," Kaya shrugged it off.
    So much loss! she pondered, considering Elvis's strewn remains left behind.  How much more can we endure?
    Sure, he's been made of steel and wires and cogs, but, dammit, he'd been her friend.
    "Lady."  Kaya turned, feeling small hands pull on the fringed edges of her leather shorts, just above the smooth, tanned length of her leg.
    "We should take the hatch.  Then we can leave."
    "The what?" she asked.
    Bryan lifted an eyebrow.  "What damned fool thing is this?"

Kid Friendly comics! Snarked and Donald Duck


I finally read the first two issues of Roger Langridge's Snarked.  Well, I read issue 0 and issue 1.

Playing off the public domain status of Lewis Carroll's stories, Langridge has grabbed the briefly mentioned Walrus and The Carpenter and decided to spin a story from what we know of them from the poem (told by Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Through the Looking Glass).  If you can still track down issue 0, its pretty chock full.  Not just of story, but of the source material Langridge will hope you're familiar with as he mines Carroll's material for his own purposes.

He includes pictures by John Tenniel, Carroll's artistic accomplice, in appropriate places, but the art is the same mad cap, cartoony style I really liked in his work on The Muppets comics (also from Boom).

I suspect that, with issue 1, Langridge plans to make this a closed story, that has a beginning, middle and end.  Originally, I'd believed it would be a gag book, or have one-off stories per issue, but instead it seems we're headed off on a bit of an adventure.

You see, the Red Queen has passed, leaving two children Princess Scarlett and Prince Russell IV (aka: Rusty), but now the Red King has disappeared whilst on a sea-faring voyage.  And the kids (a) would like to find their father and (b) get away from the folks who want to seize power.  Our friend The Cheshire Cat has an idea who can help them, even if The Walrus and The Carpenter seem to be, by all indications, cheaters, liars and cons.

The Walrus, The Carpenter and the offspring of the Red Queen & King
Good stuff.

The writing is sharp, the characters archetypes but cleverly done, and its a book that you can hand a kid, but I suspect you'd want to sit and read it with them.  Its pretty fun, and the language is very well thought out.

And if you have a picture of what a "snark" (the much discussed but unseen beastie) looks like, you may send it in.

I think this is one of those books you're going to wish you'd jumped on early.

Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Vol 1. and 2 (and more)

Oh, so!

Yes, I've been reading Donald Duck again.  I know, I know.  I came to Disney comics so late, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do.

I've had both these volumes for a while, but I just dug them out of my stack of comics I haven't yet read, and I plowed through them with pretty great speed.

I don't think Boom! will be carrying on printing these books now that Disney owns Marvel comics (a shame, because Marvel's collections edition has never seemed as together as I'd like) and Boom! was just really getting themselves together on their Disney collections front.  AND it was a nice compliment to the really fancy (but expensive) work Fantagraphics was doing on their archive collections.

Hubris, thy name is Donald
The two Donald volumes are pretty reasonably priced ($14.99 cover for a lot of comics) and contain pretty good stories in both.  I finally got to read a Plain Awful story in Volume 1, and the Uncle Scrooge/ Donald go into space to collect satellites story in Volume 2 had me rolling.  Both volumes contain work of the American creator, Don Rosa, who is one of two comics creators associated with Disney's ducks that all comics people should know (along with Carl Barks).  And coming off reading the Disney Four Color Treasury, it was nice to transition to the more modern Ducks era.

Its tough to explain the appeal of a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comic to the uninitiated, except to say that Duckberg is a very well realized place of goofiness and big hearted skinflint trillionaires and good-hearted crooks like the Beagle Boys, and its fun to see Donald in one story wrestling with space flight and in another trying to get the nephews to school.

Don Rosa is, in my estimation, one of the most creative talents in comics, with great understanding of narrative, gags, character, etc... and its just a huge pleasure to read his work.  And I suppose it says something about how under the radar the comics must have been for Disney for this to be one of the areas where any single creator was able to make a name for themselves.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Thanksgiving Week, Signal Corps!

I shall be as bloated as this Thanksgiving parade balloon by Sunday
It's Thanksgiving Week here in the United States of America, and that means people will begin spreading all over the country in short order as we find time to rejoin with family and friends.  Or, of course, some of you may take advantage of a couple of days off and head for a long weekend on the beach somewhere.  Man, that sounds nice.


I just thought I'd get this out of the way before we got distracted by other things.

This year we've got The Dug & K en route to sunny Austin/ San Marcos, TX and we'll be having a nice, relaxed Thanksgiving that, for scheduling reasons, will culminate in Turkey Dinner on Saturday instead of Thursday.

I expect most of you will start disappearing by Tuesday.  We'll keep posting all week, I guess.  Catch up whenever you can.

Donald with a blunderbuss.  What could go wrong?
So Thanksgiving is a good time to take stock of all the things that are more or less going your way.  And as a 21st Century person of middle-class means, I suppose I've quite a bit to be thankful for.  Heck, living in the 21st Century seems to be something to be pretty thankful for when one considers the alternative of spending three months on a boat to end up on Plymouth Rock and then watching everybody keel over in your little colony from the plague, the vapors and whatnot.

So let's just put a big check mark next to "man has conquered some of nature, and I won't be eaten by an otter unless something goes very wrong" as something I'm thankful for.