Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Dirtbombs Appreciation Post

The first time I saw the Dirtbombs live was in 2006 in Ottawa at the Babylon Club. I was floored. The place was packed. You could barely move and I was sitting on a ledge that was mounted to the wall high above the tables. My ex fiancé who worked at the club, helped me get up there and I think I had the best view in the house. Why did I love the show so much? Well between front man Mick Collins pitching his beaters when he's popped a string, and the two dueling drummers, how could I not be thrilled. Mick threw his guitar away and grabbed another with perfect timing to stay in the song. It was awesome!

I can't say what songs I like best, cause I just throw on a playlist and rock out around the house without looking at song titles. Who cares about song titles when I've got gritty, garage rock chalk full of the blues to do my housework to. Blow me away band.. I don't care how many times you've changed members. I love it. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Eden :Volume 6 by Hiroki Endo

I love Eden. I like the balance of character development vs gore and violence. It's probably strange that someone who hates violence in any form, can't get enough of violent comics. I guess I've been the same since I started reading X-men as a child. Eden however is no X-men. It gets awfully bloody and disturbing. BLOODY AWFULLY DISTURBING. I love cyborgs, super mutants and various humanoids. Eden has this and everything else that makes an awesome post-apocalyptic story.

There is a lot more focus on Elijah again, who's now a servant boy in a brothel. While attempting to help a heroine addict and expose some seedy suits as gangsters, he's just doing laundry and running food around the brothel accompanied by prophylactics. It's really funny as Elijah is just a teenager and never had sex. There are lots of awkward moments where he's delivering things to the working women.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ex Machina : The First Hundred Days by Brian K. Vaughan

Published by DC Comics

This is volume 1 of the series. I never know whether to include the volume number in the heading, or simply the title of the volume. Additionally, I want to start to include the publisher information in my posts but have not always remembered to do so. I guess I'm too busy trying to organize my thoughts around the story/art.

You will recognize the author of this particular story, he was the writer of the famous Y The Last Man. This story however is such a departure! (Well I should say that Y was a departure from this since Y started in 2008 and Ex Machina started in 2004.) The reader begins following the very odd life of a man named Mitchell Hundred who had been imbued with the power to talk to machines and therefore can tell them what to do. Or maybe he's asking them? That's unclear at this point.  This all happened in 1999 when doing a routine river run, he and his partner noticed something glowing under the Brooklyn Bridge. It just happened to explode at that particular moment. Spring ahead to 2002 where he's the Mayor of New York but before all that, he had a short lived career as a superhero! But like everything Vaughan writes, it's not all so black and white.

The first volume attacks some sexism and racism. Although, I sometimes find Vaughan's use of female characters counter-productive. It's fine to address specific gender inequalities but I wish some of his female characters had more.. character?? So far I really do like Journal. Yeah her name is Journal and she's an Art History Major who's an intern for Mitchel Hundred at the old Mayor's office. She is quickly promoted and handles a nasty debacle involving a particularly problematic piece of art. A picture of Lincoln with the N word written across it, and created by a white chick in her 20's. Well that's all I'm gonna say about the plot. There's a lot more going on, what with our ex Superhero getting use to being Mayor of New York.

As for the artwork. I actually like it although it can tend to feel a bit stale. By stale I actually just mean, sometimes it lacks that ability to see the character's moving. You can't always tell how see their individual mannerisms. This probably sounds stupid to most people but some of my favorite artists are my favorite because of the life their work takes on. It actually feels like the comic is in motion and you can see the character's moving as if they actually are alive. Sam Kieth has this ability. At any rate, they do have those action type panels in Ex Machina, although it's somewhat immobile. God these are the worst words I could possibly use to describe a one dimensional piece of paper. Of course the damn things immobile, but are you catching what I'm throwing?

At the back of the volume, there is a nice "reference to finished product" section with a few different panels in their various stages of becoming complete. It's cute how the artist had taken pics of co-workers and turned those into the panels. I've seen a lot of artists do this sort of thing but I don't come across too many people showcasing it in this way. At least not in the back of the book itself. Most artists are a little ashamed of this sort of reference material... or maybe that's just me?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Xiu Xiu - An Appreciation Post

I don’t often talk about music because well, I don’t give a shit if people like it or not. I’m use to people knocking everything that I’m into. Quite frankly, I shy away from any music related topic despite the fact that I’m constantly listening to music. It’s always been a huge part of my life and a long time ago, I decided that I don’t care about sharing it with others. It’s a private thing I figure it’s just easier to keep it that way for the most part.

However, I got back into Xiu Xiu recently and wanted to give a little shout out about how much I love appreciate the music created by the artist. With my little friend Grooveshark, I can find all kinds of lovely things. A great cover of Sleep by The Smiths that Xiu Xiu covered .. when?? Who knows and who cares. I’ve always loved the song and I love his cover too. Although I think I love all their albums I was very pleased with the last release in 2012 titled Always. The song Hi is super fun to sing along with and dance around your kitchen flinging various noodles since I pretty much put noodles with everything. Want some ramen? Come visit me. I got it.

Another favorite of mine although not on Always, is Nieces Pieces. Depressing? Yeah but it’s so much fun. I first saw Xiu Xiu play live in 2004. At least I believe it was ’04. I remember I got this awesome pink t-shirt from the show that had a pic of a dude jerking off and his gooey formed the words Xiu Xiu on the wall. I still have the tattered pieces somewhere and I keep intending to turn it into a patch for something. Oh look, I posted a pic of it. There ya go !
It's pretty obvious that Xiu Xiu is greatly influenced by the work of David Bowie, the lead singer Jamie Stewart's voice alone, is mimicking that very mournful sound Bowie get's from time to time although I think he's all together focused on the airy-ness that Bowie possess. Stewart is certainly nowhere near as vocally flexible, yet I love him just the same. I certainly appreciate all the wonderful lyrics! They make me happy although for the majority, they are quite sad. I have always favored that kind of thing.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Y The Last Man : Paper Dolls Volume 7

by Brian K. Vaughan

In this volume you get more Agent 355 history! Oh Agent 355, you're so hot. Oh Yorick, you're such an idiot all the time... why didn't you grab the bad journalist before she run outta the hotel? She was smaller than you and unarmed! You needed her information! Way to go moron!

There are major plot spoilers in this... this volume is where we get a teeeney-tiny hint about where this mysterious man-killing plague came from. Perhaps a clue to why Yorick is still alive. It all comes down to the little "&" the monkey. Yeah, I know his name is Ampersand. Apparently he was on his way to Dr. Mann's lab for some kind of testing. On his way, he switched with a normal non-laboratory-test-subject and wound up in Yorick's bedroom as a helper-monkey-trainee. Poor buddy, so that's why he has to wear a diaper.

*Spoiler* There's a truly awesome dream sequence belonging to Ampersand where he is drifting in the ocean on a seagull's nest, finds an egg. Inside the shell is Yorick face filled with tears. It's actually really touching, especially since Dr. Mann had just finished telling Yorick his monkey didn't love him. hehe. It's a good dream and I thought it was a great addition to the volume.

The Walking Dead: Issue 109

Created by Robert Kirkman

Sometimes I am completely annoyed with singles because I want to keep reading and always  have to stop still next month’s issue. It’s the nature of the beast of course. This is issue contains Rick’s master plan against Negan. Will it work? Oh I’m sure it’ll work in some way, but not without the loss of key players I’m certain. Maybe this time Rick will lose a leg. By the time this series is finished Rick will be a quadriplegic and his son will be a bitter teenager who won’t be able to get close to anyone. Sometime I think Rick’s son is going to turn into another Governor. At this rate though, I am losing my love of the villain. I’m kind of tired of Negan and I’m ready for him to be taken down. Lucky for me, Rick is ready too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Y The Last Man : Girl on Girl Volume 6

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Pia Guerra
Goran Sudzuka
Jose Marzan, Jr

I guess I don't have too much to say other than the fact that I can't wait to read more. I know everyone is thinking "why didn't you read this when it came out?" Well, I saw it sitting on the self and for whatever reason just never picked it up and had a look. I wasn't super well informed about EVERY comic at the time. I just picked things at random and read too much X-men. Anyway that aside I am really enjoying the series and on to the next volume that Megan from work so graciously lent to me. (However my cat Satchi is pretty pissed about it because it's cutting into her lap sitting time.)

I feel like I don't want to spoil the events of this volume and furthermore, I'm not really interested in summarizing any of it. The story takes place on a ship with heroine smugglers, a submarine and finally out to visit Beth in the Outback. Vaughan's use of dream sequence is always funny to me. Beth's dreams haven't really entered into the story much so it's fun to see a dream of hers however, it just so happens to be a dream that Yorick has that he had related to her before she went off on her Australian Anthropology detail. Once again, the world is masculine-centered even in the mind of great female characters. It's sort of the whole premise of the series. All the men die, but men still rule the world and that apparently the world is not a better place without men. Depending on how you chose to view it, that's either fair or really chauvinistic. Me? I choose to think the world would be improved by loads of counselling for everyone and maybe just plain fewer of everyone. Horses and buggies and less technology.

I keep waiting for this series to tell me something. What's the point here? Besides playing with gender stereotypes and stating over and over what a great guy the last man on Earth is, what's the point of this story besides offering witty dialogue? I dunno. I guess I'm not going to know until the end. I'll try and keep you updated.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Psyren Volume 2: Baby Universe by Toshiaki Iwashiro

A bit more fan service in this volume. It wasn't unexpected as this is a Shonen Jump manga but sometimes I just get a little annoyed of all the suggestive posing of females in manga and comics in general. Really though, I should just get over it because it's everywhere. It is nearly impossible to get away from.

In this volume we learn a decent amount of info regarding Psyren, this mysterious plane in the future. Although Psyren is a game, it's apparently a game to stop the future from being a depressing, barren, wasteland. I do not know how playing a reality survival game full of monsters that tear you to shreds (and if you do die, you turn to ash) is supposed to help the future but I guess that's the point. To be honest I don't really care how it's supposed to prevent future Japan from collapsing- the book is entertaining enough despite the ridiculous premise.

The author also introduced a few new players. One a famous actor, one a womanizing teenager who hates pretty much everything. I'm not fussy on either of them. We'll see how they play out. I'm betting at least one of them dies, which I have little opinion on.

We also learn in this volume that Sakurako (our leading lady who performed the disappearing act in volume 1) is actually being tutored on psionic energy by a famous pianist. Yeah I know this plot sounds ridiculous. Apparently all humans have the ability to access psionic powers from the reaches of our wasted little brains. Being in the Psyren atmosphere contaminates it's players with..?? something that awakens this natural dormant ability. Of fuck why am I reading this crazy book? Well, I like games and I like monsters. That's pretty much it. Oh and I like a fictional future where the world has been destroyed. (That being said I'm actually pretty environmentally conscious in real life).

I really find Sakurako's sensei incredibly- ANNOYING! She's a famous pianist who rewards her little Psyren-drifter student with a private piano concert, you know for surviving the savage wasteland of Psyren... I'd be a little pissed. I'd be like "Hey bitch, I just faced certain death for the sixth time and you're rewarding me by playing classical music, you self absorbed...." or something along those lines with more profanity. You get the idea. So stupid little Sakurako starts clapping, while jumping up and down absurdly because she's just so pleased that she got this private piano concert! Lady, you almost internally bled to death, don't you think you deserve a little more than a piano concert?

At any rate, there really isn't any action in this volume. I'm excited to read volume 3 because our heroes, or as I now like to think of them~ "idiots", have just been transported back to Psyren... again.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Regé Jr.

I tried to read this. I simply ordered it because it came out on Fantagraphics Books and the cover looked awesome. Plus the title. It's impossible to read. The text is all in funny drawn graffiti-like characters and it was a struggle to make out ever second or third word. I gave up as it annoyed me... it annoyed me in the way that House of Leaves annoyed me. The artwork is really interesting but it wasn't worth the annoyance. Back to the Library with you.

Ghost World : Special Edition by Daniel Clowes

I have been waiting for this for a while. Ideally, I would have liked to purchase a copy for myself but as a student, $40.00 is just far too much considering all my other expenses. Ten dollars for a manga volume once in a while is one thing but $40.00 for one book. I'm on a budget. At any rate, the library had it and I waited for it.

Ghost World was originally serialize in Daniel Clowes' famous Eightball, issues # 11-18. It was first published by Fantagraphics Books in 1997 and turned into a film by the same name in 2001. I remember seeing it in the theater and being thrilled. I got it on DVD as soon as it was released.

There are notable differences between the movie and the comic even though the screenplay was written by Daniel Clowes (although I'm sure it was scrutinized by the production company). It's typical that there would have to be some re-working of the content to translate it properly to screen. Part of me is forever annoyed by this.

Some differences would be the sequence of events and the order in which they appear in the book, not to mention the added events in the movie. I also can’t help but feel like the actors took on a much different personality for the main characters than that of the personalities in the book. Enid for instance seems to have much more of a superiority complex than the one in the movie. She does appear to be somewhat more ambitious and self-reliant in a way, although all her superiority is just a cover for her morbid self loathing.

Scarlet Johansen is not exactly portraying Rebecca the way she comes across to me in the comic. Rebecca’s character which I have always despised, strikes me as a much more affable character in the comic. I suppose I have always liked a lady with strict standards in a partner and maybe that’s because I have always had so little of my own when it comes to the subject. 

The two characters are my polar opposite in terms of how they view the rest of humanity. I believe that people are innately good while Enid and Rebecca can barely stand the entire lot of the human race. I’m generally accepting of everybody while they reject people for their opinions and differences. I find it repulsive that the two of them think that just because a person is one way in the past that they will always be that person, ongoing into the future. In the book, they are always running across past classmates and degrading them for who they were in grade 10, 11, etc. It’s this kind of judgmental mentality that bothers me, compounded with the fact that they don’t see an individual’s ability to change.That being said, just because I don’t particularly like the characters or agree with them, does not mean I dislike the story. I actually really do as all the characters do seem truly “alive”.

As anyone could guess, the Special Edition collects more than just the original serial. It contains the original script for the movie and lots of sketches, storyboards, a Little Enid comic, loads about Clowes creative process (look I rhymed). One little issue, I don't care much about this extra content. I don't care about the creative process of others. I have mine, and well I'm good with it. That being said, I'll listen to Sam Kieth's internal monologue any day. I gotta find his door, you know like the one John Malcovich has? I don't care about celebrities, artists, writers, I just care about their work. How it materializes just seems unimportant to me. I suppose it doesn't help that whenever I tried to learn about a particular artist or musician, I was sorely disappointed with the reality. Maybe that makes me a bit like Enid. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Monster : Volume 1 by Naoki Urawasa

Anyone who reads this blog is painfully aware of my praise and love for Naoki Urasawa's work. Not only is he an amazing writer, that creates realistic and complex characters, he's one of my favorite manga artists.  I always find that the expression on the faces of each individual character hold exactly the right emotions that the person is supposed to be feeling. Master of suspense? How about just  master of manga.

Urasawa is responsible for the famous series Pluto which I've read and extensively wrote about. Monster is not unexceptional in any way. The remarkable and honest portrayal of humanity at it's best and worst, is written into this story just like that in Pluto.

In terms of actual art, Urasawa is probably my second favorite manga artist. The first obviously is Junji Ito. Urasawa really knows how to set the tone. I love setting panels.

One thing I thought was strange was that this story takes place in Germany and the main characters name is Tenma. Professor Tenma was the name of a character in Astro Boy and thus, Pluto. I guess itès just a little nodd to Tezuka. The main character in Pluto was German. These  little things are interesting to me.

A quick run down of the plot? Murders, doctors and personal inner-conflict. Me like-y.

The Walking Dead ~Free Comic Book Day Issue~

MMMM my favorite, Korean dumplings.. I am gonna eat ALL of them.

I live 2 blocks from the Dartmouth Strange Adventures so I went there with my friend James and picked this up (along with 7 volumes of manga for the whopping price of 2$ for the lot).

It's not a numbered issue so it's kinda like a one-off that provides us with a little insight into the life of everyone's favorite bad-ass African American lady Michonne. I talks about what happened to her leaving the office on the day the zombies showed up.

Michonne narrates the story to her dead boyfriend. It's pretty gruesome, I really hope they didn't give this out to children. Sincerely, people don't understand how inappropriate this book is for children under 13. I have literally seen people buy this for their 8 years old kids and I'm always warning them "excuse me , I just want you to know that you should read this before your child does, because it's seriously not for kids". I get confused "mind your own business looks".

Getting back to the story, there's a bit about what Michonne went through as well as a disturbing little bit about the Governor, which I kind thought was in poor taste considering he raped and tortured her in the early part of the story. I mean, they aren't connected otherwise. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and well yeah. So why do they have their two stories in the same issues? They don't meet each other in the issue, it's two separate stories. I'm a bit, well disturbed. I normally like being disturbed by gore and violence in fantasy, not overlooked BS like this. I'm sure no one else cares.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei : Volume 3

So silly!

I have to say my favorite chapter is the bit about previews. Sensei takes the class on a preview of their school trip, which basically consists of going on the school trip and watching what they WOULD be doing. It's pretty funny as he consistently reminds the class not to get too close to the experience as it is a preview, and he doesn't want the real trip ruined. So it's pretty damn cute and loaded with cute one liners. Zetsubou Sensei's famous line get's stolen by another character in this volume, "I'M IN DESPAIR!!!"