Calling Out From the Earth, Sky Screaming Back No Name

12 Jul

IMG_2843

The news hit me like a proverbial pillow sack full of soda cans in the face at precisely 12 noon give or take a minute or two when my go to Hollywood way of life website Deadline announced this past June 28th that Harlan Ellison had shifted off the immortal writer’s coil. It’s hard to imagine how things in Los Angeles would turn out for me creative and professional wise if hadn’t been for a phone call he once placed to me sometime in 1994. At that time I was chugging along with daytime duties at a Farmer’s  Insurance office and moonlit on the side as a manager and closing shift clerk at a comic book store in North Hollywood of which I had a financial stake in. AND EVEN ON THE SIDE OF THAT I was contributing letters to the Oh So? Section of the weekly Comics Buyers’ Guide newspaper (and later on, articles and Comic-Con PR pieces that I actually got paid for!) and was down in San Diego frequently attending monthly meetings for the Comic Con International Staff when I was a volunteer for the Pro Registration department (and was later made department head of the small press area).

Harlan phoned me when I had gotten back from a lunch break at the insurance office which usually consisted of me going over to the comic book store, to get the money together from out of the cash register and make a bank deposit. My stepmom, Alice and her third husband Dan Hunt owned both businesses in case any of you were failing to see the connection. That out of the blue phone call from Harlan stopped me dead in my tracks, I was sitting around farting all day filing claims and force notices while harping on a decision to enroll as in a Farmer’s Insurance study course as a underwriter in which Dan was pressuring me to do in case this comic book store business went belly up (which it actually did a decade later). The first words out of Harlan’s mouth and into my phone receiving ear , ‘are you the guy who’s been writing these long-winded unique letters to CBG?’

Thinking it as a joke, I played along? Why the fuck of all people would Harlan Ellison be calling me? Oh, how I wanted to scream, but my mouth was dry and paralyzed with fear.

I admitted yes. And he then pressed on to scold me ‘what’s with the real long name?’ Yeah those letters to the CBG Oh So section used to go by the moniker of Cary William-Shannon Coatney. People were starting to think that it was a two-man writing team or a husband/wife kinky kind of thing. I told Harlan that my middle name with the hyphen in it was a whacked out amalgamation concocted by my mom of actor William Tyrone that she had the hots for when she was a kid and the Irish title of my grandfather, Harold Shannon, who was one of three people who invented Bosco chocolate syrup back in the late 30’s and early 40’s.

IMG_2844

Harlan chuckled at it, then he told me to ditch it, ‘because you’re only to going to confuse people with that long name – It’s not going to look good on a cover of a book!’. The real reason he called me that day was for one of the letters I wrote complementing his then just released Dream Corridor anthology series that Dark Horse that he was producing rendered by too many artists to mention and was under the editorship of Anina Bennett. I said something along the lines of ‘if you’re reading Dream Corridor by Harlan Ellison, then you’re my best friend for life’ and he kind of liked that. He went over the rest of my letter and pointed out what he liked and didn’t liked (looking back at it, it did kind of meander all over the place) and he closed by telling ‘you know kid, you’ve got this unique voice of expressing what you need to say, so why aren’t you writing full-time?” I told him I had something I wrote during a time while I was homeless in San Diego that I just needed an artist to help draw it. He interrupted to chide me further ‘well, get it done and make sure you send me a copy’ and then I spontaneously asked him: ‘if I ever do reach that professional writing plateau that you think I should reach for, is there any chance I could script and adaptation of “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” for you in Dream Corridor?

“Fuck, no” he snarled and then he abruptly hung up.

Eventually down the line, I shortened my ‘professional’ writing name from Cary William-Shannon Coatney to Cary W. Coatney, and in indomitable Ellisonesque (I just made that word up) style, I explained to the Comic Buyer’s Guide Oh So? letter section readers that I had my middle name secretly assassinated by highly trained SEAL team snipers concealing themselves like ghost dogs perched in a palm tree. The world bought it and I soon embraced the professional world with a new easy to digest abbreviated name.

So Harlan’s words resonated with me through the rest of the decade, even when I introduced myself to him at some of the signings he would be at, specifically at the long lamented Dangerous Visions, a store in Sherman Oaks along Ventura Blvd that was named in his honor (where he once propped himself in the storefront window with a desk and typewriter as sidewalk onlookers would curiously watch him pound out a short story or two) of an award winning science fiction anthology book that he edited and I caught hime at the Old Golden Apple store on Melrose Ave in the heart of the Fairfax district for a signing of the Dream Corridor special. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of his at first. I don’t think I heard much about him growing up in New Jersey other than I knew his name from Star Trek and a movie based on his “A Boy And His Dog” novella which I had first seen shown at my college campus in Randolph, NJ one rainy afternoon in the rec center. I remember comic book adaptions of his appearing in Epic Illustrated (Marvel Comics answer to Heavy Metal Magazine) that was later collected as “Night and The Enemy” with artist Ken Steacy. Honestly, the only thing I read as a teenager of Harlan was an introduction he wrote of a hardcover Doctor Who novelization collection of Tom Baker episodes for a science fiction book club of the month selection that I was once a member of. And when I first moved out to San Diego, I remember seeing him on a car commercial in which he was referred to as a famed futurist  Other than that, nada. I only became of a fan of him after he became a fan of my stuff in CBG.

IMG_2841

Later that year in 1994, whilst I was attending a Friends of Lulu meeting, chairwoman of the Los Angeles chapter, Deni Loubert had just received word that Harlan suffered a major heart attack and had to immediately go under the knife for quadruple bypass surgery. That following weekend when I heard the news, I went down to San Diego for a staff meeting, I bought a gigantic get well card of an ape picking his nose or something (and to add to the cute picture,  I drew a pile of crap under the ape’s legs and labeled it as a ‘gift for Gary Groth’ (comic book industry professional inside story) and got everyone at that meeting to sign it and I sent it out. A week later someone from Comic-Con International later called me and told me that Harlan was vividly pissed when he received this big oversized card. I didn’t press on for a specific reason and I’m sure, after making a full recovery, he would’ve been hunted me down and knocked me down on my keiser if he had found out it was me. And I would’ve been hiding from him in plain sight too for he never knew, that for a decade between the years 1993 through 2004, I was living in a house directly down the hill from him in Sherman Oaks.

IMG_2837

So I devoured a good handful of Harlan’s short story and essay collections, I had at least bought the only four books in the White Wolf publishing series that reprinted his early works (there were supposed to be 31 volumes, but they never materialized) some paperback collections, and the massive Essential Ellison collection, the fiftieth edition. I used to have the thirty-five year edition, but I passed that on to my father. I seemed to have gravitated more to Harlan’s essays than his short stories or novels, I enjoy the  chronicling his life’s experiences and reminiscing about his rocky childhood in Cleveland (jeez, what kid never fantasied about running away and joining the circus- well, HARLAN actually did!)  and all the variegated hats he wore throughout life before settling down to write full-time. The ones that piqued my interest more are the ones about the media and the mechanics of what went on the behind the scenes of shows that he wrote for. He certainly had Marshall Mcluhan’s back when it came to matters of knowing how media affected the public. In terms of his own singular vision,  if one thing didn’t go the way he wanted or was changed so drastically from what his original vision was supposed to convey or was shit on all over by the unconventional studio, but half ass expected rewrite – OFF went his name and substitute script massacring hit man  Cordwainer Bird was dispatched in Harlan’s place. Strange that a public dossier never existed on this man (and he was certainly NOT in the Writer’s Guild’s database) WELL, that’s because HARLAN made him up as a pseudonym, just like Richard Bachman would do for Stephen King. Cordwainer Bird was also the creator of the 1973 low-budget Canadian sci-fi series, “The Starlost” (based on Harlan’s s Phoenix Without Ashes short story) that I used to watch on my local NBC station every Saturday night when I was nine years old. Only I never made the connection back then.

IMG_2840

Harlan was capable of helping  people with troubled love life without anyone finding out about it.  It was an essay that I perused through my copy of the Essential Ellison that I shall always cherish forever in my heart and credit in becoming instrumental in achieving my revenge against amateur porn actress, Rikki Lixxx that I used to share a tumultuous relationship with. Not to get into specifics here, as you may have bore witness to past blog entries, but Harlan’s masterpiece essay, “Valerie: A True Memoir” should be absolute canon on how every man should handle a con artist or grifter of a female persuasion who walks unexpectedly into one’s life, both cunningly and non-violently. It’s a glorious detailed memoir of how Harlan got even with a female con artist who ripped him off of his wallet and credit cards and chased her up north to San Francisco in order to get them back. It definitely mirrored what had gone wrong with me in my relationship when my favorite fake titty fraud walked into my life, got intimate with me, thought she was entitled to some fucking reward after she sucked my dick, OF WHICH I NEVER ASKED HER TO. When I refused to be intimated, she resorted to breaking into my house while I was out working to ‘borrow’ a credit card and ran off to treat herself to a stripper pole that cost $140 bucks (tax included) and later had put on a sham show to make it look, I lost my card while visiting. Pulled aside and told by a neighboring witness said her story doesn’t check out and saw her break into my apartment with a hairpin in my lock. Confronted her about returning my money. She refused and then war ensued. Remembering a similar situation had happened to Harlan back in the 1960s, I consulted the mighty oracle of  the”Valerie” essay and it motivated me to seek my revenge by getting her arrested for being a public nuisance and unfortunately also, for reasons whatever I was denying myself to admitting at the time, but I suspected some prostitution going on, and I was sure as shitting right: Van Nuys Vice sniffed around and picked her right up. She ended up getting two months in jail. That would’ve paid off that $140.00 and then some.

However, I never got around to calling Harlan about it to personally thank him.

The one time I did call Harlan was back in 1999 or 2000, just as I was starting work at Warner Bros. I was disillusioned with Comic Con International and was the under the impression, that I would wind up being the Small Press Coordinator as in, forever! When it didn’t pan out, a librarian with the downtown Los Angeles Public Library by the name of Eugene Mandelcorn who also an interest in comic book professionals and amateur filmmakers wanted to launch a mini-one day comic book festival for kids and teens, they would be preceded by local workshops at local branches moderated by local artists such as Rueben Gerhard (Lava), Javier Hernadez (El Muerto) and Rafael Navarro (Sonamblo) to accumulate in a major gathering at the beautiful downtown Library where they were lectures, workshops, and signings. Eugene recruited me to help organize and brainstorm of whom to grab as headline guests. The first one I helped out was with Michael Davis and Denys Cowan, the creators behind Static Shock, the Peabody award winning animated show based on a teenage African-American super-hero. The second one I got Harlan Ellison to come down and speak, and the final one I e-mailed Rich Fogel to come down and give a presentation on Justice League. The fourth and final one involved Stan Lee, which included no involvement from me. Eugene could’ve worked that one out for himself.

IMG_2842

However, I remember being up in Eugene’s office downtown throwing out ideas on who make a great headlining guest, and I suggested Harlan Ellison.  Eugene paused from throwing a tennis ball back and forth to himself and he said: “Harlan Ellison? Why him?”

I explained to Eugene, bending my fingers downward to drum my point’ well, he sort of does mentor young children- a local friend of mine from Santa Monica told me that he used to pack up a gang of kids from the Sherman Oaks and Encino area and give them rides down to the San Diego Comic Con back in its’ infancy. He’s no stranger to the world of animation, having done voice work on Scooby Doo & Freakazoid cartoons, and if I recall, I saw an episode of the recent Silver Surfer animated series that he wrote. He’s written comic books, a few issues of Avengers, Incredible Hulk, and Batman here and there, and Dark Horse printed an anthology series in his name called Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor, but most important of all he’s a fantastic lecturer and motivational speaker. He’ll get kids picking up pencils to write and draw in no time!”

Eugene was sold. He simply gushed at the idea.

“How do we make this happen?” Eugene pressed on.

‘You call him up.’, I said.

Eugene look startled. This seemed to be a new and exciting concept to him as he stammered wildly ‘but how?’

“He’s in the fucking phone book.”

Eugene shook his head as if he were in awe of Christopher Columbus coming to him with fake news that the world was indeed, flat. But I rowed him to shore with this sudden not so secret reality of life in the San Fernando Valley:

“All comic book professional names are in the phone book: Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, you name it, they’re in the white pages.”

I continued; ‘you look nervous. Do you want me to make the call? I’ve spoken to him on the phone before.’

Eugene raised his hand in salute and signaled the go ahead.

So that night, or the next day around 8 ish at night. I called Harlan.

Actually make that, I got a crotchety Harlan.

The phone call went like this:

“Hey Harlan. It’s Cary Coatney”

Harlan: “who?”

“Cary Coatney, the guy who used to have a very long name in the pages of Comic Buyer’s Guide and you told me to cut it down?”

“No, not really. What is it that you want?”

“Well, I’m representing an event called the Teen Age Comic Festival taking place at the downtown Los Angeles Public Library on this such and such date and we want to know if you’d be interested in being the headline speaker. It’s being sponsored by the Walter Lantz Foundation. Now, you do know who Walter Lan-”

Uh, oh. Wrong turn in Ellison Wonderland.

“Of course, I know WHO Walter Lantz is!”

Goddamn, good thing I didn’t say anything about Woody Woodpecker”

Then Harlan machine-gunned me with the minuate details: “Where is it? What time will it be? Who else is scheduled to speak there?”

Suddenly, I was getting nervous. I don’t think Harlan isn’t quite going to be in the mood..

and Harlan continued..

‘..Is Rob Liefeld going to be there? Because I won’t do it if Rob Liefeld is going to be there. That lightbox tracing punk is going to be the death of the comic book industry…”

“Does that mean, you’ll do it?”

“For the Walter Lantz Foundation? Of course I’ll do it!!”

I gave him Eugene’s number to call and to let them hammer out the details. And the next thing I know, Eugene is calling me back late that night and I could probably tell that he was white with shock on the receiving end while praising me “I can’t fucking believe you pulled that off! Harlan told me that he wouldn’t miss giving this lecture for the world. He says loves influencing kids to be creative and to write!!”

IMG_2908

It turned out to be a memorable day. Harlan came to the library and give a good PG rated pep talk of his usual off the wall schtick in an auditorium full to capacity with children and adults alike, came out to the lobby to sign books, and stayed throughout a good portion of the event, and I think he lingered longer than he expected when he spotted Mark Hamill  showing up in his disguise as Documentarian Professor Donald Swan to shoot some bonus footage for his mockumentary: Comic Book, The Movie. Later, I was hanging out at the entrance to the library with the fabled voice actor Billy West doing some Moe Howard impersonations for me when Harlan came peeling out of the parking garage in a van and screeched his tires as he took a sharp turn on 5th Street. I guess Harlan was in a hurry to get home that day after all.

There’s a whole bunch of odds and ends that I could go on and on about Harlan, like the book signing at Pink’s Hotdogs, other calls I made, and one particularly a voice message Harlan left with my editor on the Deposit Man at the time, Mark Capuano congratulating me on taking the reins and self publishing my first ever issue (he never said he liked it or not, simply he was glad that I did it) , books I’ve sent to him in the mail (always accompanied with a self-addressed envelope with proper return postage), loaning him $60.00 for his lawsuit that he filed against AOL that he never paid back, but that’s ok. What’s sixty bucks to a guy these days affording his own apartment on 50k a year anyways? I was proud to be living in the same town of Sherman Oaks as a world-famous writer of  Harlan’s caliber and his post office box was just down the street from my house, which was where I always mailed my Deposit Man comp copies (Postmaster: Oh yeah, Harlan Ellison? He picks up his mail here!). I wrote more about the Pink’s Hotdogs signing here in case some of you are interested. 

Well, wherever Harlan is right now, I’m sure the reaches of his imagination have already beaten him to the rendezvous point. He’s just headed there to organize the troops of more than 1700 essays, short stories, television, comic book and movie scripts, and reviews of more movie and television shows, along with his various numerous writing awards and Emmys and such and is simply setting up shop at his new office digs at the corners of Purgatory and Shatterday to appease the masses of the afterlife.

 

 

Advertisements

I Suppose There’s A Little Bit of A Gentle Giant In All of Us

29 Jun

IMG_2695

One of those things that hasn’t clicked with me since my teen years in pursuit of progressive rock greatness is a band formed at the tail end of the sixties (1970) hailing from Portsmouth, England by the name of Gentle Giant. I only listened to a few albums scattered here and there such as Octopus & The Power & the Glory that I bought at a second-hand drug store in Lake Parsippany for 2 buck in the album clearance section, I haven’t really ravaged followed their concept album exploits much as I ravished pursued Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, ELP, and Jethro Tull. And now smack dab into my mid-fifties, I’m beginning to learn just how brilliant they were back in the day.

No thanks to Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, and solo artist fame. As I have explained countless times in the past; Wilson runs a job on the side as a remix engineer of classic albums by Yes, XTC, Marillion, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson in modern state of the art 5.1 surround sound when he’s not out crafting beautiful songs and concept albums. The recent “Three Piece Suite”  is Wilson’s third outing in re-engineering the Gentle Giant sound with their 4th album Octopus released in 1972 and their sixth released in 1974 entitled the Power and The Glory. This time, however – Wilson tackles the first three albums: 1970’s self titled album, 1971’s sophomore effort Acquiring the Taste, and the early 1972’s Three Friends – but only gives the final polish to selected tracks from those albums to sort of form a long-playing suite with dazzling video accompaniments – if you happened to have splurged for the blu ray edition (It’s also available as a plain CD). IF you DID splurged for  the same blu ray edition as I did, you get the full three albums included in the bonus section (NOT remastered by Wilson) AND 5.1 remixes of the instrumental versions of all the songs (for those who can’t handle Derek Shulman’s sporadic jumping around lead vocals) and a rare virtually unheard of track called “Freedom’s Child” that was recorded for some UK record pre contract compilation.

I have a distant memory of the time when I spent my 1978 summer in Laguna Beach when I heard the new single of “Giant For A Day” being played on FM radio while staying at my aunt’s house, but I was too busy discovering Van Halen’s debut album (which I vividly remember buying a cassette copy down the street from my aunt’s house in Westminster, California at a neighborhood Licorice Pizza) , Rush’s Farewell To Kings , Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horse, Foreigner’s Double Vision, and two Yes cassettes I picked up at the long defunct Record Shed along the Pacific Coast highway called Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayer to give it any real serious consideration. I ended up listening to the entire album when I checked it out at my local library in Lake Hiawatha after I unfortunately had to come back to New Jersey to enroll in high school.

Giant for a Day initially didn’t grab me. Neither did Octopus.

I generally think that I was way much too young to understand it. Come to think of it, NOT a lot of Frank Zappa’s instrumentals didn’t really whoa me over back then either. I just became a fan of Frank Zappa because it sounded funny when he used profanity in lyrics.  But looking back at it along with a multitude of  a lot of other progressive rock bands that applied a heavy dose of organic and multi-instrument sounds (think Camel, Caravan, Fairport Convention; etc; etc – that whole Canterbury jazz rock sound scene) is much more appreciative and relaxing as you mellow with age, as you’re no longer pursuing that majestic grandiose mellotron chord in the sky.

Now in my mid-fifties, I need something easy-going in my musical pursuits. And now that I have in possession this Three Piece Suite, along with Octopus blu ray I bought last year now has a new profound proclamation for me.

Gentle Giant is my missing piece (if you pardon the 1977 album pun) in my arsenal of progressive rock perusal perfection. I’m usually spending my lunch hour these days these going over old youtube performance and discovering some of those whole albums I missed out during grade school and mid-high. Gentle Giant had pretty much called it quits during my sophomore year of high school.

I have no logical explanation as to why they click with me now, other than Porcupine Tree founder Steven Wilson’s infatuation with them and mixing their back catalogue in 5.1 surround sound like he does with other influential progressive acts such as Yes, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson. Other than purchasing a cassette copy of Power and the Glory at a record store in Encinitas in lieu after I had seen a progressive rock tribute at the La Jolla Conservatory of Music that played a rare video concert performance of the song “So Sincere” and wanted some documentation of that event. My boss at the vitamin packaging factory that I slummed at for four years in Solana Beach had told me he was a fan of them back in the day, even saw them sell out a tour billed with fifties do-wop tribute band Sha Na Na and Gentle Giant was the opening act. AND it had only cost $2.00!  Years later, one of my collaborators on the Deposit Man sent me a taped copy of the live album, Playing the Fool and I think basically that was all I needed on the band at the time.

So here’s what I’ve learned about the band from a casual stroll through wikipedia  :

Three founding members were brothers: Phil, Derek, and Ray Shulman – first known as Simon Dupree and the Big Sound.  Derek is the crazy sporadic vocalist who sings melodies in odd syncopated repetative naunces and phrases – like if avant-garde composers John Cage (if he were alive today) or Phillip Glass had needed a vocalist in their minimalist approach to composing , Derek would certainly be on top of their speed dial  For some reason there is still no one on this earth to this day who can imitate him. Ray is a violinist and bass guitarist who went to even bigger fame as a record label executive who discovered and signed Dream Theater to the Atlantic family of labels and produced The Sugarcubes. Oldest brother Phil was a multi-instrumentalist, pulling anything from his musical anal repetorie such as a alto sax, a clarinet, percussion, a xylophone and doubled on mellotron and keyboards. He had quit the band after touring for the fourth album entitled Octopus and is the oldest living progressive rock musician still living to this day at 81 years of age that I know of.

Ad placements in Melody Maker lured keyboardist Kerry Minnear, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music (just like fellow alumni Yes and Strawbs‘ Rick Wakeman) forefront to the majority of the writing of most of the band’s eleven studio albums along with Ray Shulman.

There were three drummers with the group, first was Martin Smith who later was replaced by Malcolm Mortimore after the first two albums, but only to suffer injuries from a motorcycle accident after the recording of the third album, Three Friends and was replaced by John Weathers, who was wise enough not to get on a motorbike and remained with the group until their final studio album, Civilian. Incidentally, Malcolm Mortimore tours to this day as the drummer in a Gentle Giant tribute band (who actually knew there was one?)

Guitarist Gary Green was recruited from the beginning and remained through the entire decade long run and even recorded with UK founder/Roxy Music/ Jethro Tull/Yes keyboardist Eddie Jobson on his Green Album solo album released in 1983. I’ve had that album for so long, I never made that connection until this very day. Occasionally, Gary Green contributes here and there to current Yes bassist Billy Sherwood’s solo projects (and there are too many this day to keep an accurate count).

Kerry Minnear currently handles all re-issues for the band, unreleased material special projects, and live bootleg concerts, and Steven Wilson’s 5.1 remix project through his label, Alucard Music.

Gentle Giant once got booed offstage at a Black Sabbath concert at the Hollywood Bowl only to return a year later selling out their Octopus tour.

Tony Visconti, who produced the first two albums went on to worldwide acclaim as David Bowie’s producer and collaborator for most of his output in the seventies and eighties and returned for his final three albums with Blackstar being Bowie’s last in 2016. Visconti also had a hand in producing The Moody Blues’s last platinum selling album, The Other Side of Life in 1986, along with their two follow-ups Sur La Mer in 1988 and The Keys to The Kingdom in 1991. Tony Visconti recently produced the first The Damned album recorded in 10 years entitled Evil Spirits released just this last April.

The components that make up the sound of Gentle Giant music are as follows: (paraphrasing through Wikipedia)

  • multi-part vocal harmonies
  • complex lyrics
  • organisation into concept album form (on occasion)
  • frequent changes in tempo
  • frequent use of syncopation and non-standard time signatures, including polymeters (two or more time signatures played simultaneously)
  • use of complex melodies, frequently contrasting harmonies with dissonance
  • extensive use of instrumental and vocal counterpoint
  • use of musical structures typically associated with classical music (for example, madrigal form on “Knots”, fugal exposition in “On Reflection” and the consistent use of stated, exchanged and recapitulated musical themes exchanged between instruments)
  • use of classical and medieval instrumentation not generally associated with rock music
  • polyphony
  • hocketing
  • unusual chord progressions
  • breaking up and tonally re-voicing patterns of initially simple chords (with the chords subtly altering from repetition to repetition)
  • accelerating and decelerating duration of musical themes
  • rapid and frequent key changes (sometimes within a single bar)
  • division of vocal lines between different singers (including staggered rhythms)
  • clever handling of transitions between sections (such as a hard-rock guitar riff being immediately substituted by a medieval choral)

To reiterate:  In 2017, “Three Piece Suite” was released. It contained tracks from the first three albums: “Gentle Giant” 1970 “Acquiring the Taste” 1971 “Three Friends” 1972. These tracks were re-mixed by Steven Wilson from the available multi-track tapes. Some songs from the first three albums were not included in the set as the multi-tracks for those specific songs have been lost. The set was available as a CD of the re-mixed songs and a Blu-Ray disk. The BluRay disk had 96/24 Stereo LPCM and DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Sound versions of the re-mixed tracks, additional bonus tracks, instrumental versions of some tracks, and Original Album Mixes from Flat Transfers of Mint Condition Original LPs. There were also new video animations included on the 5.1 Surround tracks. This release came packaged as a single Digipack with the two disks, a 16 page booklet, new artwork and was approved by the band for release.

Last year during a trip to Las Vegas, My sister, my long time friend from high school Mike Zullo, and I went on a birthday spending spree for me over at Zia Records which is in the same category of great record store stratosphere as Amoeba is out here in and Lou’s Records down in Encinitas going towards San Diego and I stumbled across the Octopus 5.1 remix package and immediately threw it in my shopping basket along with other prog related oddities and rarities.

Having not heard the quirky a cappella “Knots” since the time I left New Jersey as a young adult, hearing it in 5.1 in surround speakers was a recent aural exploding experience in 5.1 stereo with the individual voices panning from speaker to speaker, and Jeez, Minnear’s piercing stabbing piano chords on top of it. Holy shit. I should have pursued being a total fan all along.

Below are some of the Blu ray images from the 5.1 Octopus remixes by Steven Wilson.

IMG_2807

That come equipped with fun scrolling Gentle Giant musical facts

IMG_2808

…contributed by the band members themselves. Yeah, it’s really nothing to write your local aquarium about. It’s just a little octopus swimming around while the music plays. It’s a whole homage to the Christmas Yuletide Log Channel on Demand (Hey, junior! Can you throw another octopus into the fish tank?)  Hopefully Wilson will give 1973’s In A Glass House a quick 5.1 surround sound Windex cleaner polish.

Next up: The May Super Hero Show Sweeps Slugfest.

 

 

MY 2018 DIARY OF NOTHING IS EVER REALLY FREE ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY – THE CHILLING CLIMAX

1 Jun

Earth-2-a

I’m surely and slowly getting there – but as of last count in my previous three installments, we reached the very ripe young age of 42 Free Comic Book Day editions that I have personally inspected and analyzed for you, to let you know that it is safe to proceed with the last remaining 10, COUNT ‘EM 10 – 10 books left in the stack to read.

My employers were kicking me out of the office early last Friday and I couldn’t quite get around to reviewing two books that I had read that previous night. Hopefully, with the completion of this last chapter, I’ll be on my way on a luxury cruise to going back to my regular bank man’s blogging holiday of posting two blogs a month.

Since my office was closed this past Memorial Day, I won’t have time to delve into a little history of my local comic book shop, Earth 2 here in Sherman Oaks, California. I can still remember as if it were yesterday when the tiny little shop started by Hollywood producer and Starlog magazine contributor Carr D’Angelo first opened his doors in 2000 when I only lived a few short blocks away at a house once owned by Wizard of Oz’s Tinman Jack Haley. I would need at least half this blog to gush over Carr’s achievements and contributions he has made to the local comic book retailer community.

Thursday May 24th DISNEY PRINCESS (Joe Books Ltd) IMG_2550Submitted in Letterbox for your approval, much like how Image Comics did their sneak peek of Barriers. This book is absolutely meant for the little princess in your life. It’s a running gag series of four grid cartoons mashed together, with a lot focusing on Ariel’s inability to carry on tune or playing hooky on her undersea music lessons. Boys won’t like it. That’s what SpongeBob Squarepants is for.

Thursday May 24th MIRACULOUS (Action Lab)IMG_2551I’ve been curious about this series since I’ve seen scores of DVDs in Target, and it always to find its’ way in the suggestion queue of my Netflix animated section. But after exposure to this issue, I’m glad I don’t partake. This more growing girl stuff than I can handle. Ladybug and Cat Noir hardly don their costumes. I did enjoy the preview of Sami, the Samurai Squirrel in the back. Perhaps one day it could give Usagi Yojimbo a run for its’ money.

Saturday May 26th RELAY #0 (Aftershock Comics)IMG_2585Remember last year, I was bitchin’ and moanin’ of how local comic book publisher Aftershock didn’t participate in last year’s FCBD festivities? This year, they certainly made up for it, by offering this preview of Huffington Post contributor Zac Thompson & Judge Dredd comic strip artist Andy Clarke’s sci-fi opus, Relay with story contributions by Eric Bromberg and Donny Cates, whose name I see mainly associated with a few Marvel Comics here and there on the Venom series. It’s intriguing main plot deals with an interstellar farmer who tries to teach an alien race to irrigate and cultivate a food supply on a desolate planet that come with tragic consequences, such as being worshipped as a god when one doesn’t want to be. The main series (the book doesn’t specify if it’s an ongoing or mini-series) starts in July.

Aftershock puts out some great quality products. I’m a great fan of their Rough Riders min-series, and I had to budget to spare, I’d be scoffing up a lot of their titles which is sort of like Vertigo Comics started out in its’ infancy. PLUS – they are my local publisher here in Sherman Oaks, just a stone’s throw away from Earth 2 (and please don’t throw stones at Earth 2. You might break a window. And that would Carr very mad), and they’re located in nice sprawling skyscraper in the cool part of the San Fernando Valley off of Ventura Blvd, WHERE I used to work for Paramount Pictures tallying up box offices totals, and it was once the location of where an agency sent me to my first gig at Warner Bros. So lots of history in that building for me as well.

 

Saturday May 26th DIE KITTY DIE I Love You to Death (Chapterhouse)IMG_2586What if Archie Comics had a steamy slutty one night stand with Harvey Comics? Probably the result would be this. Veteran Archie Comics artists Dan Parent & Fernando Ruiz come up with some really silly scary stuff that would make even Sabrina, The Teenage Witch running an oriental massage parlor to even blush. Love the Charlie Chaplin and Charles Manson cameos. Wish I had I thought of that mash-up while I was writing my Deposit Man comic book. My memory is a little clouded, but I think I encountered the Kitty character in a few FCBD editions a few year back, but I’m not sure Chapterhouse was the publisher back then. It’s quirky fun with teenage monsters in the mature teen arena of social commentary made popular today by the Riverdale show crowd.

Saturday May 26th OVERWATCH (Dark Horse Comics) IMG_2587I know I give most of the video game based property offered this year a hard pass, but the Dark Horse Comics’ licensed book written by Andrew Robinson & Joelle Sellner and art by Kate Niemczyk is an unexpected surprisingly different and fun read. Heavily armed Russian assassin Sgt. Aleksandra Zaryanova is dispatched on a world-wide mission to bring to justice someone who tried an assassination attempt on a high KBG official, who also happens to be a dangerous hacker. Unbeknownst to her, they have paired her with a robot assistant who turns out to be an overbearing pain in a ass. Unfortunately for the back up feature, I’m a Black Hammer virgin. This is officially my first exposure to the much-lauded Eisner award-winning galore fest written and created by Jeff Lemire, and boy, I’m going to have to rectify that gapping oversight in my ever comic book consuming past time this summer at San Diego and haul home some of those back issue trades. Because I don’t want to feel left out for too long.

Monday May 28th INVADER ZIM (Oni Press) IMG_2588Invader Zim is a cartoon I have yet to see an episode of. Is it on Hulu? Is it on Netflix? I dunno. I’m going to have a little extra cartoon watching time this summer with my Fox favs, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers and Family Guy all on hiatus for a few months, so this might occupy me until their new seasons begin. Invader Zim is created by Jhonen Vasquez, the same indie mastermind behind Johnny the Homicidal Maniac – which would not be a cartoon safe for kids. However, both of Vasquez’s creations share the same demented qualities, as Zim is heck bent on conquering and subjugating every thing in his path. This issue although blah I thought in its’ execution, i.e; too much going on in the artwork provided by Warren Wucinich did a good thing in reminding me about this blog I wrote from a couple of years expressing my disdain for anyone bingewatching their favorite television streaming series and the attempt to eye gobble it in one sitting is not in the best interest of your health and social inadequacies. So message received.

Monday May 28th MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS – Shattered Grid (Boom! Studios) IMG_2589I didn’t even bother with seeing the fucking movie last year, so of course I found reading this a complete and utter bore, which is what I totally expected before diving into this. What I couldn’t stand most about it was the whole Jim Starlin Cosmic Marvel mode it made an instant beeline for with the Silver Surfer clone. A lot of the story tries to make sense of  twenty-five years of mindless children television canon we’ve so painfully endured in the past on the Fox Kids Channel.

Monday May 28th THE ONLY LIVING BOY (Papercutz)IMG_2590 I would assume that editor Jim Salicup, other than resembling more and more like David Letterman and getting out of the Smurfing business, is expanding his line’s horizon and this excellent sample comic book of THE ONLY LIVING BOY needs no introduction. Apparently, I arrived way too late for the launch of this series created by David Gallaher & Steve Ellis which has proved in 20 short pages to be par excellence in what little boys crave for in adventure. In parts, it’s a great homage to Hanna Barbera cartoons such as Jonny Quest, Dino-boy, or Samson and Goliath, and I can detect a twinge of Secret Saturdays in it too. It has freaking dinosaurs, abhorrent villains, friendly cavemen and damsels to the rescue rather the other away around – and in other parts, I see it’s a gigantic love letter to Jack Kirby’s Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth.  I love it and I don’t even know the premise of the entire thing. It’s just goddamn wonderful to look at. I’m so freaking far behind that I see advertise a 400 page omnibus. Better put it on the San Diego Comic Con International Christmas wish list.

Tuesday May 29th THE TICK (New England Press) IMG_2592What is a Free Comic Boy Day without a free Tick comic book? Well, when back in the old FCBD days, when I used to hop one Los Angeles area comic book shop to another, The Tick ones have always been under ordered.  New England Press, however has a solution to that – you can backorder any FCBD edition of the Tick that you may have missed just for the price of postage with the help of their inside front cover ad (make sure you photocopy it first before you go fumbling for the scissors to clip it out – which is a terrible idea if you want to keep your front cover intact).  The show I’m watching currently on Amazon is nothing like the comic you read or the cartoon that used to run on Fox Saturday mornings back in the mid-nineties- not a lot of Ben Edlund’s original comic book issues never used such salty language as The Terror (portrayed by Jackie Earle Haley – the original Tinman’s grandson) does and the whole mature audience approach takes a little getting used to. I may dedicate a entire blog to it after I’m done watching the second half of the freshman season. But for those craving the Fox cartoon version, such as I, then this is the book for you. It has new stories featuring the Tick channeling his inner Robert E. Howard in a fevered dream that winds up of all places at a Renaissance festival, the Tick helping out a pizza delivery boy which defies all explanation, and closes out with the Tick becoming best man at a friend’s wedding, who’s getting cold feet or not only skipping out on his bride to be, but is not really forthcoming of being an actual super-hero.

Tuesday May 29th THE METABARON – BOOK 3 THE META-GUARDIANESS & THE TECHNO-BARON (Humanoids Inc) IMG_2594Did I ever tell you the story about the time that Alejandro Jodorowsky tried to get a 12 hour movie version of Dune off the ground and every studio practically laughed at his face, but yet his unseen version adaptation of the late Frank Herbert classic was ripped off practically by every famous filmmaker in Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg & Ridley Scott when it came time to release their classics such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and Alien. Read my fascinating discovery of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune here. Humanoids does fabulous hardcover novel reprints of Jodorowsky’s collaborations with Moebius and Manuel Moro. Those titles, in the Jodorverse include the Incals, Exo, and The Technopriests. This is a new story featuring the world of the Metabarons contributed by writer Jerry Frissen with eyepopping art by artists Valentin Secher and Mukesh Singh, based on Jororowsky’s story. It’s like a cross between Heavy Metal’s Den and Barbarella. The graphic that these pages previews is coming out in September.

And that’s a wrap. See ya at next year’s Free Comic Book Day!!

 

 

 

MY 2018 DIARY OF NOTHING IS EVER REALLY FREE ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY – PART III

25 May

aHR0cDovL3d3dy5uZXdzYXJhbWEuY29tL2ltYWdlcy9pLzAwMC8xOTAvMjEwL2kwMi9oZXJvX2xvZ29fc2Vjb25kYXJ5X2NvbG9yLmpwZw==

So it’s been said that writing on a regular basis is good temperament for the soul- another chance to open the perspective of one’s mind to share with others who think alike, or to build character of one’s heart to savior each and every day with a broad dynamic of a new universal adventure. And I write this as I sit on a toilet nursing a bloody stool and a long piece of excrement as big as submarine with swiss cheese holes in it.

It could flush either way.

That’s the chance you take on a random pile of Free Comic Book Day comic books. There could be a pile delighted with the highest of potpourri phrase  or there could be a pile of dog shit that needs to be picked up with plastic gloves and ponder the genocide mysteries of trees that went to produce the not so shiny gem that you once thought would cheer the masses of millions.

That’s the game of life you play with a pile of FCBD editions. Other than that, I usually don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.

Unfortunately last Sunday, I didn’t experience that misfortune, I randomly took the shuffled deck of comics and selected the first four gems BUT I’ll get to that a little bit later.

It’s time for a little history lesson.

As I stated in the first blog of this series, I have a hidden charitable agenda to my madness of obtaining all usual 52 editions every year and that reason is: The Hero initiative.

Trust me, the Marvel Cinematic Universe stole the idea for the Avengers initiative from Los Angeles based  Hero Initiative, You just go swinging the word “initiative’ around like a cattle rancher lassoing a mad bull’s ballsack. There are going to be consequences. And one for me is signing over a check for a sizable donation.

The following paragraphs are from Wikipedia:

 The Hero Initiative, formerly known as A Commitment to Our Roots, or ACTOR, is the first federally recognized not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping comic book creators, writers and artists in need. Founded in late 2000 by a consortium of comic book and trade publishers, including Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Wizard Entertainment, CrossGen Comics and Dynamic Forces Inc., the 501(c)(3) charity aims to assist comic creators with health, medical, and quality-of-life assistance.

Many early comic creators, whose work laid the foundation of entire fictional universes that proved to be highly lucrative for the publishers that profit from them, were often paid little for their work, and were not allowed to keep their creations. According to the Hero Initiative, “to be eligible for financial assistance from Hero, an applicant must have been a working comic book writer, penciler, inker, colorist or letterer on a work-for-hire basis for no less than 10 years since January 1, 1934.”

Anyone who meets the eligibility requirements may apply for aid, which could vary from medical assistance, paying rent, or finding employment (in or out of the comics industry). Hero’s benefits are not meant to be a permanent crutch for needy creators, but assistance for those in debt, or who have trouble paying bills. Any granted aid is kept confidential.

Many professionals in and out of  the comic industry serve as board members or some volunteer to man the convention booths or serve at charity functions. There was one professional who tried endlessly to spread the word around about the Hero Initiative at major comic conventions through strenuous and tiresome efforts, because he simply needed the help himself at times. Not only was he a good comic writer, but he wrote many episodes of a show you may familiar with and that show was Thundercats. Writer Steve Perry (not to be confused with that annoying ex-singer of Journey) wrote a chockfull of episodes of the original eighties show (which was revamped in 2011 and has been recently announced that a new version with a more all-ages approach (think Teen Titans Go!) along with Silverhawks was perhaps considered a more adult than whatever was offered on late after school television. Perry also wrote two great episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that told about Bruce Wayne’s years he spent in Japan training to be the Batman, which of no doubt inspired portions of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Perry’s health went downhill in his mid-fifties when he diagnosed with terminal cancer, and since animated show writer are not guild covered, he approached Hero Initiative for financial aid and got it. Unfortunately, two months after last convention appearance in Orlando, Florida, he had a falling out with his roommates at his apartment in Zephyrhills that caused him to be torn to pieces….literally. He was dismembered and parts of his body, including his arm and torso were found in his van. The two arrested in his murder were his roommates. One, a female who fathered a child with Perry. Now, I don’t want to go into the specifics of what situation that would cause a well-regarded comic book (Epic Comics Timespirits and a rebooted T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series) and animation writer to allow lowlifes like that into his life and to share an apartment with them, but hushed rumors that it may have been a way that Perry turned his life financially by walking to the nearest liquor store and buying a lottery ticket worth more than $10 million dollars.

Anyway, hearing about this news since 2010 effected me immensely, and I swore that after the turbulent financial blunt drama I’ve suffered after being let go at Sony Pictures of my syndication marketing position that I would make some kind of hefty contribution to this organization semi periodically and not it’s been roughly four years since I’ve been gainfully employed in the entertainment industry with a livable salary that I’m able to cut a decent check and I choose Free Comic Book Day to be my happy place battleground.

So, let’s get into some comics. Though, I got to tell you, since last Sunday, they’ve been mostly all winners.

Reminder: I put the date up of when I read the issues.

Sunday May 20th 2018 SPARKS (Scholastic) IMG_2521

Last year’s Scholastic FCBD edition was a hodgepodge sampler for a few of their selective graphic novels they’ve been putting out for the past couple of years. Scholastic sort of entered the graphic novel for kids game a little bit late, but things started to turn around for them when they introduced Jeff Smith’s Bone to school kids, and when those editions proved to fly off the shelves (and I imagine in libraries and local book mobile sales), they started offering original projects such as Dream Jumper and Time Shifters. For this year, they offer a full length look at Sparks! I didn’t think much of it upon looking at the cover, but once I read this book under 10 minutes, I thought immediately to myself: ‘this needs to be an animated series, like STAT!!’. It’s two intelligent cats who masquerade as a high-tech robot dog and going around saving people. It’s like Iron Man for pets, so how can you go wrong with a noble and well thought out, without being condescending to older readers premise? I enjoyed it and I applaud Eisner award-winning writer Ian Boothby and his partner Nina Matsumoto for coming up with such a unique premise. All I got to say about the supporting cast is, alas, poor Channel Seven reporter Denise Densford- can’t she ever cut a break? And watch out for that baby Princess. The only complaint I have about this presentation is Scholastic should have just previewed the first chapter of the graphic novel and not ended the book in the middle of chapter without any warning that it was to be continued in the graphic novel on sale on bookshelves now.

Sunday May 20th STREET ANGEL’S DOG (Image Comics) IMG_2522  Another good book that caught me off-guard. I wasn’t even aware that this was an Image Comic I was reading until I got to the end to the ads that were showcasing the other titles in this series. According to the blurb page immediately following the story, creators Brian Maruca & Jim Rugg explain that Street Angel is a homeless ninja on a skateboard and the deadliest girl alive and in this special issue she rescues a homeless dog that is being tortured by a street gang and mounts an effort to return the dog to its’ rightful owners because there’s a reward out and rewards mean she can get a decent meal and a place to sleep and perhaps take a break from being a homeless ninja on a skateboard and the deadliest girl alive. I have to admit, this is something that could work out as movie in a similar style to Scott Pilgrim. People seem to root for the teenage underdog these days and perhaps people are socially sympathetic to the homeless issue of kids these days. I know I was thinking about the crisis we’re experiencing these days in both Orange and LA Counties with the fear of a virus outbreak that is certainly on the horizon this summer. Want to know what I’m alluding to? Well, check this out.

Sunday May 20th WORLD’S GREATEST CARTOONISTS (Fantagraphics) IMG_2523Hey, even deep disturbed individual adults on the verge of mental illnesses are deserving of their FCBD edition too and Fantagraphics delivers it to you in spades. You’ve got your usual standard way out acid trippers such as Jim Woodring’s world renown Frank in a short preview of his new graphic novel, Poochytown, Carol Tyler recounts a slightly different askew version of Beatlemania than I remembered in her upcoming Fab 4 Mania – but then I was just born when all that stuff went down. Dash Shaw gets his homage to “This is Us” down pat with a look at his forthcoming “Loony Reunion 2018” – although I’d be hard-pressed to actually remember a talking pig in the cast. The book is just chockfull of strange oddities that eccentric members of your immediate family that you have an instinctively strong habit of avoiding will enjoy.

Sunday May 20th JAMES BOND 007 VARGR (Dynamite Entertainment) IMG_2524This will be a treat for those who haven’t been reading any of Dynamite Entertainment’s licensed James Bond comic books. Dynamite is offering a reprint of the first Warren Ellis mini-series from a few years back, and of course, you don’t need me to tell you how phenomenal they are. Ellis’ vision of Bond is the most vicious and the most violently unapologetic ever depicted in any media. I swear, if Ellis were hired to write the next Daniel Craig cinematic opus, the studio would have to rated it a very hard R or a NC-17 – if that rating even still exists. In Ellis’s series and the writers who have followed suit after him, ratchet up the body count with dismemberment and bullets to the face like nobody’s business and NOBODY DOES IT BETTER than Bond. These kind of mini-series should appeal more to the original Ian Fleming novels. I read a handful of them as a kid as well as some of the posthumous John Garner ones and I tell you, I remember some freaking kinky shit happening in those novels which is hard to forget. Boys and girls, JAMES BOND is not for kids. One of the ads in this book advertise the first of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, Casino Royale is available now as a GRAPHIC NOVEL adaptation. I’m going have to save my shillings for that one. Put it on the must get a list for San Diego this summer.

Monday May 21st BERLIN (Drawn & Quarterly) IMG_2528

With just one book in the Berlin series left to completion, Jason Lute’s ambitious 22 issue maxi series detailing the rise of the Nazi party in the late 1920’s and early 1930, as well as the city being the epicenter of political and social change is a must read with others of similar ambitious ilk such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus ,Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, and any groundbreaking graphic novel written and illustrated by Will Eisner. Drawn & Quarterly doesn’t want to alienate new readers when they celebrate the publication of the final issue when it’s slated for release this upcoming September, so they offer up a reprint of excerpts from the first issue to help..uhm..draw in new readers. I would recommend Netflix option it for a series, because of its’ rich tapestry of supporting characters and locales, but then I realized that they already have a streaming series called Babylon Berlin based on the novel series written by Volker Kutscher, soon to be adapted to graphic novel form by Titan’s Hard Case Comic  of which I may put on my queue this weekend.

Monday May 21st SHADOW ROADS (Oni Press)IMG_2529Whenever Oni Press and seasoned writer Cullen Bunn get together to collaborate on a supernatural western series, they nearly seem to fly off the shelves like wheatcakes. I was working at NBC Universal Pictures’ legal department a few years back when they had  announced that they had ordered a pilot based on The Sixth Gun, which was the Oni series that put Bunn’s name on the map from off the dusty trail. I had my fingers crossed that it was going to make the fall schedule or at least pass it on to the Syfy channel – because AMC was hitting it big with record ratings with the Walking Dead, which as we all know is based the struggle for survival after a zombie apocalypse and is perhaps on the best-selling comics from Image that huge numbers rival DC’S Batman or Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man. The Sixth Gun did that premise one step better: it’s a zombie apocalypse that takes place in the wild, wild west. So, essentially, it’s zombies, cowboys and guns that fire magic bullets forged in hell. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a premise like that – but NBC really has no respect for the science fiction fantasy genre these days (Grimm was crap. Sorry) and sorrowfully passed – as I expected them to do, since I discovered a chain of e-mails exchanged between Jerry Katzenberg and Frank Darabont detailing the time when Darabont pitched the idea of The Walking Dead to Katzenberg, with Katzenberg replying to tell him that was the worst fucking idea for a tv show that he had ever heard. Shadow Roads shares many of the same elements that made the Sixth Gun so exquisitely enchanting to read, with gunfighting native Americans  and female sharpshooters weaving in and out of parallel dimension hopping to combat strange scary creatures. It’s a prologue leading up to the ongoing series starting next month.

Tuesday May 22nd THE WORMWORLD SAGA (The Lion Forge) IMG_2531This all ages child fantasy is part of the Cubhouse imprint through the auspices of The Lion Forge. It’s a charming CGI art inspired tale of a boy with a crush on a little girl who leads to her to an exciting adventure that takes place in an imaginary world created by a painting that his father has rendered. It’s a prologue for the hardcover graphic novel coming out next week with story and art by Daniel Lieske.

Tuesday May 22nd SHADOWMAN (Valiant Comics) IMG_2532Hopefully, comic book shops are going to start stocking heavily on Valiant Comics from this week out now that Sony is trying to launch their own cinematic universe based on their line of comic book heroes such as Shadowman, Archer & Armstrong, Eternal Warrior, X-O ManoWar, Harbinger, and Bloodshot, the latter is about to ready to start lensing with Vin Diesel in the title role and Outlander’s Sam Heugan also taking on a major role. Even though their line of characters have been around for more than twenty some odd years (at first were augmented by the addition of Gold Key characters in their line up), you’d be hard pressed to walk up to even the most avid comic book reader and ask them what if he or she could name their favorite Valiant character and they would be calling the paddy wagon out on you. Yes, they’re not well-known and it’s a chore to pick them up at your local comic book shop without having to ask your ruff and gruff comic book retailer to subscribe to them – but yet they still attract such talented writers like Andy Diggle and Matt Kindt and artists such as Iron Man’s Ariel Olivetti to play in their universe. Two short previews of new directions for Shadowman and X-O ManoWar (a prehistoric kind of Iron Man. Yeah, wrap your head around that concept) and a good second half dedicated to the upcoming Harbinger Wars II mini-series event. I hear rumors that Sony also has a Harbinger movie in development with Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul considered for the lead role as Peter Stanchek.

Wednesday May 23rd STARBURN PRESENTS (SBI Press)IMG_2542Okay, so the selling point of this comic book is that they’re going to publish a line of comic books written mostly only by stand up comedians starting this summer. Therefore, there are four samplers of upcoming titles such as Comics Comics written by Patton Oswalt, and art by Troy Nixey– who I think is a film director these days,  Oddwell written by David A. Clarke & Walter A. Bryant III with art by Acacia T. Rodarte, Hellicous written by A.C. Medina & Mina Elwell, with art by Kit Wallis, and Gregory Graves written by Dan Harmon & Eric M. Esquivel, with art by Brent Schooover, Gavin Smith, and Mark Stegbauer, with a slight gag cocktail finish by Dino Stamatopoulos ( Adult Swim’s Moral Oral and Superjail) . Of course, if you’re not a fan of Harmon or Oswalt, then you really have no business reading this comic. I found Oswalt’s autobiographical tale of a walk down Hollywood Blvd to be relatable. The middle two features didn’t really grab me as much, but you can’t help but get the inside feeling that Harmon’s task of Gregory Graves, a  journalist who interviews super powered serial killers in prison is the sure bet gut buster around. And I say that in extreme bias as a newly minted Rick and Morty fan.

Wednesday May 23rd THE GHOST IN THE SHELL: Global Neural Network (Kodansha Comics) IMG_2543Kodansha Comics does great adaptations of anime properties for American audiences. I was impressed a couple of years back with their Attack on Titans sampler of a hardcover anthology book that featured of all people, Evan Dorkin. This year, they’re shooting for the same heights with this edition dedicated to Ghost in the Shell. The anime version, not the awful movie misfire a couple of years back with Scarlett Johansson. This book is 48 pages long and its’ contents contains one single epic story called “Automatic Behavior” written by Max Gladstone with art by David Lopez, which is part of a major hardcover anthology coming out in September. The story is akin to the original anime, so this may be a compelling read to the hard-core fans.

Wednesday May 23rd STAR WAR ADVENTURES (IDW Publishing)IMG_2544I’m going to chalk it up to coincidence that this issue fell into the right place of the  reading pile- just two-days before the Solo: A Star Wars Story movie officially opens. Dolefully, I’m not a tremendous fan of seeing Star Wars rendered like this in the WB animated house style- whoever this Derek Charm artist is. If this looked something like Star Wars: Clone Wars or Star Wars: Rebels, I’d be all over it like a fly on Bantha shit. Not much in awe of the story by Gavan Scott either. Han and Chewie are hired by some important parents to rescue their annoying kid from bounty hunters. How they rescue the kid and arrange for how his parents to pick up is rather quite unorthodox by Han and Chewie. I don’t even know why Disney is even allowing IDW Publishing a license to publish Star Wars related books – it should be Marvel’s job to come up with a all-ages title. HOWEVER what I am excited about with the non-Marvel Team-Up of Disney and IDW is IDW are offering hard covered volumes of the long lost Star Wars daily and Sunday comic strips of the 1970’s and 1980’s that were written by Archie Goodwin and mostly illustrated by Al Williamson including an adaptation of the first in SF author’s Brian Daley’s Han Solo Adventures trilogy, Han Solo At Star’s End.

Thursday May 24th BOB’S BURGERS (Dynamite Entertainment)IMG_2549Along with The Tick, Bob’s Burgers is always one of the FCBD editions that I look forward to reading. Big fan of the show and a big fan of lead voice actor, H. Jon Benjamin since his work on Home Movies leading all the way up to Archer. It’s astounding of how many male actors are part of the main cast. I honestly had no idea AFTER ALL THIS TIME that it was a male actor who voices Bob’s wife, Linda. Creator and producer, Loren Bouchard (co-creator of Home Movies and Dr. Katz)  is spearheading a ninth season on FOX TV and it still gets plenty of eyeballs in syndication. Bouchard also oversees the contents in the Dynamite Entertainment comic book series (and trade paperbacks) including this issue and you’re likely to enjoy the same flirtatious and angst ridden age of innocent fun in this book as you ever you’re to enjoy an episode of this series. You got Tina imagining herself as a captain of the Titanic, and Bob gets an express line to his store when he introduces the concept of  pineapple to hamburger (hey, this also story gives insight on how Bob and Louise come up with the menu item names every episode), and my favorite tale of the book has Gene doing a parody of “Where the Wild Things Are“.

Well, that’s all the time we have for now. Tune in next week for the final remaining deadly dozen of FCBD editions and the perilous path they may take us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY 2018 DIARY OF NOTHING IS EVER REALLY FREE ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY – PART II

18 May

FreeComic

As you can see, I’m keeping to a strict regiment for the next few weeks by giving you extra blogs in celebration of this year’s Free Comic Book Day of which I’m pledging to keep a casual attitude in reviewing and savoring this year’s 52 FCBD editions for the duration of this entire month of May. As I stated previously in last week’s chapter, I am date stamping each night of far I get through the stack that I brought home after making a sizeable donation to the comic book professional charitable foundation called Hero Initiative through the auspices of my local comic book retailer, Earth 2 in Sherman Oaks, Ca. I got through the first 16 books that included the two Marvel editions, a Riverdale, The CBLDF, the Overstreet Beginner Guide to Collecting Comics, a few good teen friendly imprints, and unfortunately a few tired manga books including Pokémon – which is not really my cuppa. Also my stack is not formatted or placed in any particular order, NOR EVEN looked at, so I have no idea what’s coming up next in the pile. So to me, it’s like a hide in plain sight grab bag to me. So that’s the excitement of it all, read it regardless of how it’s stacked in the pile whether you like the title or not.

As some of you may or may not know, Free Comic Book Day was brainstormed by retailer Joe Field who operates a store in Concord, California called Flying Colors to focus social awareness of how instrumental comic book could be to entice readership amongst young people by giving out sample comics which idea caught the idea of then Image Comic Publisher Jim Valentino (artist/creator of Shadowhawk, A Touch of Silver, and a two-year stint on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – when it wasn’t popular with kids, if you can imagine that) who even went the idea of better by focusing giving free editions of comics to kids when comic book based movies open, such as the very first Spider-Man movie back in 2002.  On Free Comic Book Day, once Joe proved that the event was popular, all of a sudden participating comic book store retailers across the country followed Joe’s blueprint to give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer special deals and creator signings to those visiting their establishments. However, retailers do not receive the issues for free; they pay 12–50 cents per copy for the comics they give away during the event.[In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise, such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia.

The concept spread like wildfire across the globe and then by the time 2014 rolled around, it’s been reported that an estimate amount of more 12 million copies of comic books have been given away across the world. And that’s how you get people interest in reading, whet their appetites with an opening chapter of a highly touted mini-series or crossover event – give away the opening prologue out for free. The idea certainly worked when in that same year, Marvel gave out the zero issue of their revamped Secret Wars and the ramifications from that series (No more Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom becomes a goody two shoe imitation of Iron Man)  is still reverberated through the current Marvel Universe to this day.

So reaching for the top book of the stack.

Just a disclaimer: Last Friday after publishing the first chapter, I went and watched five hours of Hulu and Netflix. That’s my usual Friday night thing and I’m not changing that behavior anytime soon.

Saturday night I went out and saw the Steven Wilson Band to play at the Wiltern Theater. So no reading anything those past couple of days.

Sunday night May 13th – before I went to bed – STREET FIGHTER II (Udon Entertainment) IMG_2473Better to get it out-of-the-way now rather than later. Honestly, I don’t grasp the concept of these Japanese video game tie ins. Opening one of these books is like walking in on the middle of a Gordon Ramsay Kitchen Nightmare episode. I don’t have any idea of what the hell is going on or why Gordon is sent to the rescue of a restaurant about to be shut down by the health inspector, let alone how restaurant owners get in touch with him in the first place. The opening page is a recap of what went on before, but it looks like I have to read several mini-series or a bunch of thick omnibuses in order to get the gist of what’s going on. As a sample edition, why couldn’t they have presented a self-contained story instead of presenting a part of the running title’s continuity. Okay, so one of these video fighters is possessed by a demon and is fighting his colleague – check. Somewhere in the Redlands just above San Francisco another macho dude and some fat blond dude with a wacky looking hairbraid are fighting for whatever the reason the fuck for, I don’t know. I’m 54 years old – some things are just incapable of understanding.

Sunday May 13th – one more before I hit the sack, because that last one just didn’t do it for me: THE MALL #0 (Scout Comics) IMG_2474Now this one just hit the spot. Now if you’re a fan of John Hughes movies with a slight twinge of Sopranos, (or David Lapham’s Stray Bullets, your pick) then you got the recipe of a great coming of age story with fringe benefits. For some reason, after reading this tale of a boy with family mob ties trying to win the attention of a girl that’s way outta his league sort of reminds of me of a time of a summer spent at a mall in Morristown, New Jersey working at a department store. My whole life was connected to this mall, it’s where I grabbed my comics from Fat Moose Comics & Games, bought my entire Yes, Kate Bush and Genesis back catalogue at the inside independent record store, rented my video movies, was the closest area where you could grab a McDonald’s and had a pizza place that made the greatest calzones. At one point when I took a bus home from work, I befriended a girl who worked in a woman’s clothes shop on the ride home who would later wound up being the victim of a serial killer. That was a bummer and that’s a story I’ll get into later on another blog, but let’s not meander further and get back to this mesmerizing issue.

First off, the cover is misleading. None of those three characters you see depicted are in no way represented in this lead story. The setting is 1984 and in an undisclosed mall out in Fort Myers, Florida and some kid who goes by the name of Diego is bemoaning his life working part-time as a portable organ salesman. That is, until costumers come in and hand him wads of cash, of which he saunters over the mall’s food court and into the pizzeria which is really a front for the mob to wash money. It turns out that every store in the mall is mob owned and Diego is the launderer. Overhearing a girl bitch and whine about being taken out on a date with the local high school jock only to have the date ruined by the jock’s addiction to video games, Diego steps up to the place and challenges the jock to a video game challenge. If the jock wins, he gets a wad of the $5000 cash that Diego hasn’t yet turned in to the pizzeria’s owner. If Diego wins, he gets to take the jock’s girlfriend out to the prom. WHEN Diego wins the bet, he gets to take the girl to the prom, but Diego’s own uncle cockblocks him, saying he can’t get to the prom, because they’ve got to make a drug deal with some Cuban buyers…..hey, do you see where this is going? Somewhere good I would surmise.

The story serves as a prologue of what’s to come in issue 1 and this tale is rendered beautifully by writers Don Handfield and James Haick III, artist Rafael Loureiro, and colors are just bursting courtesy of Diijo Lima.

The rest of the book is filler ads announcing future projects with such familiar notable names such as Paul Jenkins and A.C. Medina.

Monday May 14th 2000 A.D. REGENED (Rebellion Riverside House)IMG_2478Like Titan Comics who put out the Tank Girl and Doctor Who FCBD editions, Rebellion is also from the UK and they are the company that put out the Fleetway edition of 2000 A.D. which is a major contributor of magazines to the UK. Usually, there is a mini-version edition of an oversized 2000 A.D magazine that I used to look forward to with rousting tales of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, or Lady Dredd – but not this time. 2000 A.D. instead this year thought to regale with tales of our British comic book fav misfits in their JUNIOR versions. So instead of Judge Dredd, you get…Cadet Dredd in an early adventure of the titanic tyke trying keeping crowd control at a football game which is guaranteed to please, but beyond that, I struggled a little bit. Like I stated before, I’m 54, I don’t need to be squinting to read tiny print at my age, especially with the last two stories of which the font in the descriptive caption could use a little ENLARGING. I’m referring mostly of the Dr. & Q story that closes out the issue which left with queasy Mr. Magoo aspirations. Oh and kiddies, there are puzzles and games in this issue to keep yourself occupied during those long boring car trips to Rhode Island.

Monday May 14th SPONGEBOB FREESTYLE FUNNIES 2018 (United Plankton Pictures)IMG_2479

Free Comic Book Day editions of SpongeBob Squarepants rarely disappoint and this one is no exception. Writer Derek Drymon and artist Robb Bihun leads off with the epic “Super Villain Team-Up” featuring the calamari rubbery long in the tooth Mermaid Man on his last legs and on his set of dentures in aiding Mr. Krabs in protecting the much fabled Krusty Krab Krabby Patty Secret Recipe formula from being stolen from the safe in his restaurant by the evil Plankton. After being thawarted for the umpteenth time in trying to stealing the formula, Plankton enlists the most evil underwater villains of Bikini Bottoms to help him break in the safe to steal the formula. Hilarity oven mitts and infinity gauntlet hijinks ensue. There are a few gag contributions by fabled underground artist James Kochalka that round-up the issue.

Monday May 14th BONGO COMICS FREE FOR ALL (Bongo Comics) IMG_2480Riddle me this Simpson fans  – HOW can you possibly have a FBCD edition to give out without having one story that includes the heart and soul of the franchise, Homer Simpson in it?? There’s not one iota of an appearance of our favorite fat fart jetting balding trendsetter anywhere in this issue – but instead you get stories featuring Krusty the Clown and Lisa Simpson doing a switcheroo when Krusty gets laid up in the hospital, another story features Bart getting typically bored on a summer’s day until Marge kicks him out of the house, a Milhouse adventure and the two goofy space aliens adapting to hillbilly culture – but still no sign of Homer anywhere. By the way, Bongo Comics and United Plankton Pictures ARE THE EXACT SAME COMPANY. Check their mailing addresses. They match. I did my homework by peeking at both issues’ indicia simultaneously.

Tuesday May 15th THE LEGEND OF KORRA (Dark Horse Comics) IMG_2483If I recall I think this is the second time that Dark Horse has showcased their FCBD edition featuring Korra. For the unfamiliar, the Legend of Korra is the sequel to the Last Airbender series that had run on Nickelodeon and practically became a popular cultural phenomenon overnight. When Korra debuted in 2012, it had won the same popular accolades from public and critics alike such as being compared to as a cross-pollination between Game of Thrones and the fine anime work of Hayao Miyazaki, but unfortunately, not the same audience as Last Airbender was able to achieve. To add insult to injury, Nickelodeon yanked the show off the air in the middle of its’ third season despite it running on Friday evenings at eleven o’clock and ran the remainder of its’ run on its’ website. Some of the producers and director of the show went on to develop the revamp of Voltron for Netflix, most notably directors/producers Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos which is enjoy huge success has it’s about to launch its’ sixth season. The story within this issue is a self-contained tale called “Lost Pets” written by Michael Dante DiMartino with Jayd Ait-Kaci on art chores. Honor mention goes to colors supplied by Vivian Ng which are particularly vibrant. The story is very kid friendly and take place sometime shortly after the events of the conclusion of the fourth season since mention of main antagonists Zaheer and Amon are mentioned and it mainly deals with troublemaker Meelo  being sent on a mission to retrieve long-lost pets who became missing after people were forced to evacuate their farms and villages after the militant dictator Kuvira tried to steal their lands. The back up feature, Arms is another ho-hum video game adaptation about people who possess boxsprings instead of arms.

Whatever.

Tuesday May 15th ADVENTURE TIME with Fionna & Cake (KABOOM/BOOM COMICS) IMG_2484Both my nieces here in Los Angeles were big fans of this animated show at time or another throughout its’ ten year run. Hard to believe it’s coming to an end with a four episode arc entitled “Come Along with Me” that will probably serve as its’ epilogue that will probably air sometime this summer and that will be it. KABOOM Comics will probably keep churning out new issues until perhaps ad infinitum or whenever the license expires. However, this issue, “What’s the Punchline” written by Kiernan Sjursen -Lien and art by C. Larsen features two characters Cake (the alternative dimensional equivalent of magical dog Jake) and Fionna (a female alternative dimensional version of boy Finn) that I’m not familiar with in the Land of Ooo. Anyway, Fionna is imbued with the difficult task of getting a bowl of freshly made punch to the Candy Kingdom in time for Prince Gumball (another alternative dimensional gender twist of Princess Bubblegum)’s Semi Annual Punch Parade albeit the obstacles that stand in their way. But whatever stumbling block impedes their progress, rest assured Cake has a story to tell during every difficult situation. This story pulls no ‘punches’ and gets straight on to the point with little bits of philosophy thrown in for good measure and it certainly ends on a pretty clever punchline. An enjoyable all ages read is guaranteed by all. However, my fourteen year old niece would certainly kick my ass if she found me reading this. Adventure Time is supposed to her territory.

Tuesday May 15th SILVER (Dark Planet)IMG_2485Silver harkens me back to my glorious days of the late 1990’s when I served as Small Press Coordinator for San Diego Comic Con International when I practically handpicked the selection of who or who couldn’t exhibit. It’s up on that same plateau such as Rob Hanes Adventures, Lost Stories, Captain Zap, or Burrito Jack of All Trades. It’s a book I wish creator/writer/artist Stephen Franck WOULD have submitted to me. It’s an eye-popping extravaganza of explosive black & white delicious pulp adventure (in a similar style of my friend Randy Reynaldo’s aforementioned Rob Hanes Adventures especially in the bold black inks department) amalgamating vampire lore with simple no-nonsense rapscallion archaic anti-heroes and the thrill of exploration and adventure. Simply gorgeous and, much like last year’s Lady Mechanika,  a fine discovery found through this year’s FCBD batch.

Wednesday May 16th DC SUPERHERO GIRLS (DC Comics) IMG_2489The only FBCD edition that DC released this year. Last week I mentioned that DC released a 25 cent DC Nation showcasing solo featuring stories of the Joker, Batman, & Superman that center on big summer events happening in their titles. Since it isn’t technically a FCBD book, I won’t saying about it here. Now DC Superhero Girls has had previous giveaway editions in the past that pop up without warning just to peddle the latest junior graphic novel that writer Shea Fontana and Yancy Labat seem to churn out a few times a year. Like the animated series and shorts you can catch on youtube, they seem to operate in a specific niche all on their own, and very successfully I would gather. I know the creative make fairly regular appearances for signings at my local comic book store Earth 2 in Sherman Oaks, California. This novel, titled Date With Disaster, the fifth in the series mainly deals with Batgirl trying to find the perfect suitor for her dad Commission Gordon. If you’re a fan of this family friendly toned down version of your favorite DC super heroines and villains (Harlequin, Catwoman, & Poison Ivy) who prove to have a little goodness in them, then you certainly won’t be disappointed).

Wednesday, May 16th INVASION (Chapterhouse) IMG_2490Captain Canuck, a Canadian independent title I remember from way back in the 1980’s is back revamped and has already had his own FBCD title last year is back in this first chapter of a world shattering cataclysmic event to take place in Captain Canuck’s own newly relaunched Season 4 title. The Borealis may have invaded the world, but their central headquarters is located in the city they take completely over first: Toronto, Canada. The world watches in bated breath as special guest star: Poser President Donald Trump in a UN meeting refers to Canadians as “losers” and wants to send in his boy, Battle Jr into the fray because he can shoot rockets out of his arm and can fetch UFO heads to mount on his oval office when. AND in typical cowardly Trump fashion when the UN is infiltrated by the Borealis, Trump underestimating the Borealis’ power tries to offer them a deal. Of course we never find out the outcome of that deal, because the story is to be continued in Canuck’s aforementioned title. Writers Jay Baruchel & Van Jensen and veteran artist Leonard Kirk sure like to keep the story moving in topical fashion as they take swipes at the religious and political issues of North Korea and Syria and then there’s this feeling I get as some of the backstory revealed concerning Captain Canuck is strangely similar to Marvel’s Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel. Since the story only takes up half the book,  I had no idea that Chapterhouse so many titles with many types of diverse genres to choose from seeing from all the ads they printed in . They even get a thumbs up from Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat website. I must have been in deep hibernation when they announced these titles. Some of them look pretty good.

Wednesday May 16th LADY MECHANIKA (Benitez Productions)IMG_2491The introductory opening salvo in the saga of Lady Mechanika entitled “The Demon of Satan’s Alley” has been reprinted two times previously in the other Lady Mechanika FCBD editions that artist creator Joe Benitez has given out (and I even have it in the first trade edition), but this time, being the third time the proverbial charm, it may be necessary to have included it again, because this time, Benitez offers a sort of all new sequel to that short story that is exclusive and not seen anywhere else. The all new story “Two” furthers our favorite steampunk era she motorized detective search into her past operating on a tip she receives from her drunk binging cohort, Mr. Lewis that a similar mechanical arm like the one that Mechanika possesses has been seen in a research facility on the south side of London. Mechanika goes to investigate, runs into a character not seen since that special introductory story, fights a bunch of souped up mechanical guards and comes to face to face with someone who may or may not be related to Lady Mechanika and is capable of providing a big clue into the puzzled origins of our frisky femme fatale. In this special edition, Benitez gets a valuable story assist from writer M.M. Chen and some art assist from Martin Montiel. Colorist Beth Sotelo captures the late nineteenth century tones perfectly and the lettering by Michael Heisler is fantastic. All around nice work from all involved. Of course, this isn’t the first time I gushed about Benitez’s unique creation. Here’s a little blog I wrote just this past February about Lady Mechanika that hardly garnered any attention.

Thursday May 17th HOWARD LOVECRAFT BIG BOOK OF SUMMER FUN (Arcana Studio) IMG_2493I got to hand my hat to these guys for trying to attempt the impossible: not just make one, but MAKE TWO family friendly films based on the early childhood of early 20th century horror writing wacko H. P. Lovecraft. Both Howard Lovecraft & the Frozen Kingdom & Howard Lovecraft & the Undersea Kingdom have yet to see the light of an US theatrical release, as they are mostly CGI animated fare that has played at small film festivals with big names providing the voice cast such as Christopher Plummer, Jane Curtin, Ron Perlman, Mark Hamill, and Jeffrey Combs (now, is anyone surprised by Comb’s involvement? Considering he was cast in the very first H. P. Lovecraft film adaptation called Re-Animator back in 1985?). I tried to get into Lovecraft way back in my high school days, but he turned out to not be really my bag. Too much prose for me to handle back in those days. I instead gravitated toward Clive Barker books, an admitted Lovecraftian devotee simply because his writing was  more modern and more imaginative and grotesque. So I can’t imagine kids younger than me could sit through an animated movie without fidgeting about Lovecraft, let alone own or want a plush toy based on the likeness of Cthulhu. There are basically two comic stories inside that serve as synopses for both productions and a preview of the upcoming Steam Engines of Oz animated film, which looks to peak my interest more.

Thursday May 17th WORLDS OF ASPEN (Aspen Comics) IMG_2494During the late ‘aughts , when I was training for Sony Pictures (for a marketing gig that lasted a couple of years) in the exact same office building that housed the editorial offices of Aspen Comics and I used to grab some freebies from them here and there. Looking at this issue’s indicia, I’m surprised to see that they’re still there and haven’t budged to a newer location in the past decade or so. In this edition, rather than showcase the same old same old with Fathom or Soulfire, Aspen offers a sneak preview of two sci-fi laden titles called Dissension War Eternal and Nu Way. Dissension War Eternal is peppered with traces of Vikings. Clan of the Cave Bear, and Game of Thrones as a tribe of primitives face against time traveling conquerors and must call upon a trio of battle royal angels to help aid them. It’s the first creator owned series by artist Jordan Gunderson and written by Christopher Fielder. Impressive coloring by Luis Guerro. The second preview of Nu Way, didn’t really grab me too much. Written by J.T. Krul (whose work I’m already acquainted with) with pencils by Alex Konat and digital inks by Mark Roslan- it’s another Bladerunner influenced dystopian future tale with frivolous marital art tomfoolery that you’re probably better off catching on an episode of Into The Badlands. 

Thursday May 17th STRANGERS IN PARADISE (Abstract Studio) IMG_2495I don’t think Terry Moore has ever attempted a FCBD book before and I can’t really tell if this is a brand new tale or a reprint since I haven’t read an issue since the late 1990’s when I had two customers who ordered it at the comic book store I used to manage in North Hollywood. I had heard that Moore had plans on reviving the title after a long hiatus. Moore’s series that mainly deals with the up and down friendship and sometime romantic relationship  between Katchoo and Francine that opens the door for some interesting and sometime unsavory supporting characters that weave in and out of story arcs and who usually sometime wind up murdered viciously,  much like those who come and go in David Lapham’s various incarnations of Stray Bullets. In this issue, whatever I walked in the middle of was enjoyable to spend some time with some missed lauded friends.

Well, it looks as I reached the midway point. I reviewed about 28 of these titles and I resume attacking the second half of this stack next week.

 

 

 

 

MY 2018 DIARY OF NOTHING IS EVER REALLY FREE ON FREE COMIC BOOK DAY – PART I

11 May

IMG_2328 It’s that glorious time of the year: Pilot season, Network Upfront presentations, Summer movies, television screeners, and of course, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY.

If you work in the entertainment business – like me – you should know that the feeling of euphoria is in the air when all those fun items converge in interlocking harmony. However, Free Comic Book Day is shared the whole wide world over and not just in New York and Los Angeles. As in the past, I’ve always declared that FCBD is nearly akin to what pilot season and Upfront presentations is to the comic book industry. It’s rolling out free previews of what hot exciting upcoming projects are in the works for summer and beyond. The majors are usually tied to the big DC and Marvel movies, but other smaller publishers like to jump in too and show off their wares – to give samples of what they’re be offering to lure in new readers.

There were 52 Free Comic Book Day editions published this year, some companies such as DC and Marvel offered two books. DC only offered one book to gravitate more female younger readers to their DC Superhero Girls line of graphic novels, but on the other hand they made available a forty page title called DC Nation that serve previews for the upcoming Batman/Catwoman wedding, a Joker solo story, and info about the upcoming Man of Steel mini-series that features the DC script debut by Brian Michael Bendis– all for a plug quarter.

I’m afraid that’s automatically disqualified and won’t be discussed

I’m going to experiment once again with this year’s go-rounds. The first time I attempted of reading and saying a few words about each title released a few years back, I had to split it up into two blogs. Last year, I went full gusto and simply wrote about the best of the lot and made honorable mention of all the rest. That took up too much time

This year, I’m going to commit to covering each book and jotting down notes on a weekly basis of what I get done and then list the date and time I read each book. AND here’s another fun aspect to this year’s edition: the pile is not sorted, so however the books were pulled for me, it’s the way they’re going to be read. So, it’s like a grab bag per night.

If it takes me a month in a four-week period covering approximately 13 titles per entry -fine. If it takes me longer, the more the merrier. For now, all my regular comic book reading and writing schedule is put on hold until this delicate matter is dealt with So count on a weekly post from now through the end of the month in order to slog through it all.

NOW– as explained before in previous FCBD related blogs, here, here, and here: acquiring a full set of FCBD editions is NOT EXACTLY FREE for me. It requires for me to be backed with the full auspices of Earth 2 Comics in Sherman Oaks in having me voluntarily cut a check to a worthy charity called Hero Initiative through the kind auspices of owner Carr D’Angelo and his wonderful wife Susan Avallone. A great organization to keep long in the tooth comic book creators from starving to death and helping with attaining health insurance and medical assistance. As you can see here, I certainly paid the check, or rather a personal money order.       IMG_2213

Yeah, it’s at least a day’s wages to throw into the air – BUT ANYTHING is better than making the check out to THIN AIR – which is what you do whenever April 15th comes along.

I have my personal reason for selecting this charity over the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund of which I will reiterate a few times over the course of the blog mini-series. BUT FOR NOW, let’s start tackling this stack.

IMG_2334

Damn, that’s a big stack of comics.

Saturday May 5th AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Marvel)IMG_2335

Now that 10 year scribe Dan Slott has moved to four-color greener pastures such as the reunited Fantastic Four and Iron Man to debut this summer, new scripter Nick Spenser (the man who make Captain America a sleeper Hydra agent) takes Peter Parker to a more back to basics kind of approach by rooming with his Daily Bugle editor Robbie Robertson’s kid Randy while flippantly taking on his old adversaries such as the Rhino, Boomerang, and a new female Electro. Gone are those lofty goals to out Tony Stark Tony Stark as Peter Parker is now a mild-mannered science editor at his old job.

Of course, it’s a jumping on point to whet the appetite for a new Amazing Spider-Man series that’s launching in July. The second half of this comic brings readers up to speed with the current whereabouts of the Guardians of the Galaxy accompanied by a mostly texted recap to help peddle everything with the title ‘infinity’ in it.

Saturday May 5th AVENGERS (Marvel) IMG_2336

You knew it was inevitable. THERE JUST HAD to be a free Avengers Free Comic Book Day edition to help break in the new Avengers movie, The Infinity War. Initially. The movie was supposed to open the same week of Free Comic Book Day. But Disney certainly didn’t want to lose stateside money on a movie that was opening a week earlier across Europe with spoilers galore, so they leveled the playing field by having be in opening weekend sync with the rest of the world. So now we’re faced with a FREE COMIC BOOK DAY that doesn’t have a movie to bring in the masses. Thank goodness for second week holdovers.

I wished I had read this issue before the new ongoing Avengers series launched – because the lead story which reunites the iconoclast trio of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor serves as a prelude to the new series which shipped days before this edition arrive. Also, Earth Mightiest Heroes welcome in a couple of new members to their roster such as Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider. It’s done by the new dynamic team of current Thor scribe Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness.

The back up feature is a preview of the new upcoming Captain America series with Black Panther writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Lenil Yu.

Monday May 7th RIVERDALE  IMG_2337

I finally found something that I can have in common with my 14 year niece Jojo – we’re both big fans of the show Riverdale, although my sister feels it’s a like risqué for her age, but I digress because if she’s clipped from watching it on network tv, it’s most likely she’s going to put in on her Netflix queue once the current season ends. Anyway, in the book, there’s really not much Archie and the gang in this issue except for Betty Cooper who has to interview Pop at Pop’s Diner for a feature school article. The dark history of Riverdale’s most famous hangout in which to exchange gastronomic notes will chill you to the bowels of your soul. Story is by Ross Maxwell & Will Ewing with art by Joe Eisma.

Monday May 7th COMICS FRIENDS FOREVER (First Second) IMG_2338

A little mini-anthology definitely targeted for young girls. Now I’d probably second-hand this over to my niece, along with the above copy of Riverdale- BUT, it’s most likely that she would fold both copies into a paper B52 Bomber and aim it to take out my eyes. BECAUSE she hates comic books with a passion. It’s a relatively quick read of tales of the long hot days of summer and how girls coming of age manage to occupy their time. Led by Vera Brosgol summer camp opus of “Be Prepared” or the adventures of a girl without a summer vacation plan as chronicled by Hope Larson in “All Summer Long”, there’s plenty to keep a young girl in sixth grade transitioning to middle school occupied.

Monday May 7th BARRIER (Image Comics) IMG_2339

Remember how I’m telling you how this books come off smelling like television pilots? The new mini-series event is here courtesy of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin. Barriers is the book we need right now in this twisted fucked up world of DACA and the constant obnoxious xenophobic declassification of immigrants that’s driving a hair up the ass of Trump anti-Semite supporters. This one I’m going to have to go back to after the initial read through of the other books are done because I wasn’t aware that Vaughan was brushed up on his Spanish (now I kind of regret not sticking around to get my copy signed by Vaughan, who was holed up at Earth 2 for hours greeting his fans) and I haven’t brushed up on mine for a long while, so I should have come equipped with website translator. It’s in a widescreen format. It has space ships. It’s fun and it comes off as how an intriguing pay cable show should be, an area of which Vaughan is no stranger of due to his work on Lost and Under the Dome.

Tuesday May 8th TRANSFORMERS UNICRON (IDW) IMG_2343Never been a big fan and never will, even though circumstances has caused me to have seen every movie in the franchise, but if you were to ask me to recite what the plots were chapter and verse- I would just stammer something indecipherable. To me, the Transformers are just giant robots in disguise who talk a lot about how these Decepticons are going to destroy us all. And they go out and smash stuff and cause property irreparable damage. According to writer John Barber (who also offers a handy-dandy guide to everything that has gone on for the past twenty years in Transformer comics), this is supposed to be a very landmark cataclysmic event in the history of Transformer history (aren’t they all?). All I cared about was that ROM guest starred. Art is by Alex Milne.

Tuesday May 8th CRUSH (YenPress) IMG_2344This special preview of this graphic novel slated for fall release by Svetlana Chmakova might attract the same audience as Comics Friends Forever, except it’s a little more male oriented. It follows the adventures of a high school gentle giant named Jorge who his fellow classmates and childhood colleague are often fooled to believe that he’s a ‘big scary dude you don’t mess with’, but really he only lashes out at his two constant annoying bickering friends Garrett and Oliva to help keep them in line. Turns out, even though he wears his tough guy exterior as a badge of honor, he really can’t come to terms with the fact that he’s introvert around a girl that he likes. There is a little preview back up of W.I.T.C.H by Elisabetta Gnone, Francesco Artibani, and Alessandro Barbucci. Kids will love it. Just not my 14-year-old niece.

Tuesday May 8th DOCTOR WHO 2018 (Titan Comics) IMG_2345Doctor Who used to be my thing in my teens and twenties – but not anymore. I devoured every episode I could back on local PBS stations in New Jersey and Los Angeles (even when I lived in San Diego for six years, I used to go to the top of the hill in Cardiff by the Sea where my aunt used to live EVERY SATURDAY MORNING just because her black and white television got great reception) when they used to air four to six episodes consisting of one story of all the first seven doctors. When the series resumed in 2005 after a fifteen year hiatus, none of the newer actors really made me a rapid fan (with the exception of David Tennant – the 10th Doctor) even as the production values got bigger and better. It started getting too commercial and got too common place with making too many American fans. I enjoyed it better when it was MY cult thing. Every year Titan puts a little sampler of the various Doctor Who incarnations that they publish and it seems that this year will be no exception when the series finally embraces diversity this fall when a female, Jodie Whittaker finally takes on the role as the 13th Doctor after the very much overrated Peter Capaldi finally finished torturing us. Rising star female writer Jody Houser will be handling the scripts for Whittaker’s comic book tie-ins. As you can on the cover, it’s already sporting the new logo for Whittaker’s upcoming season and you have three former doctors doing their best to emulate the cover to ELP’s 1979 album, Love Beach.

Wednesday May 9th THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS – ZERO’S JOURNEY (Tokyo Pop/Disney)IMG_2349Last year, Tokyo Pop and Disney collaborated on a manga series featuring sons and daughters of famous evil Disney characters such as Cruella de Ville & Maleficent forming some kind of Teen Titans or Young Avengers type of supergroup to take on their progenitors – this time around they’re tackling Tim Burton’s classic stop motion film with brand new stories featuring Jack Skellington’s fairly unused pet, Zero. Very short read. Beautiful artwork by Kei Ishiyama & David Hutchinson, but unfortunately a mediocre story by D.J. Milky. Remember kids, when reading manga – it’s read RIGHT TO LEFT, NOT LEFT TO RIGHT. It’s much like learning how to ride a bike or first applying toilet paper to wipe your ass with.

Wednesday May 9th THE OVERSTREET GUIDE TO COLLECTING (Gemstone Publishing)IMG_2350

Overstreet is always kind to provide free comic book day newbies with a fresh starter kit of how to grade and take care of your comic books, but it always seems that they reprint the same material year after year. I would rather they would take a cue from their yearly Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and post some sample articles of what retailers think are good investments and maybe a celebratory article or two of some character’s 20th or 50th anniversary, otherwise the grading section towards the back of this good is indispensable to the young budding collector. One startling revelation that Gemstone Publishing has revealed: a brand new book dedicated to everything Star Wars collectible will be released this fall.

Wednesday May 9th MALIKA (YouNeek Studios) IMG_2351This is the second year in a row that YouNeek Studios has offered a peek into their wares and the timing couldn’t be more impeccable with the release of the Black Panther movie. Malika is a Nigerian warrior queen from 500 years in the past brought back to fight injustice in the world of today and she is teamed up with a present African super heroine speedster named Fury to help bring down her evil sister Red Smoke who is leader of a terrorist organization called the Creed. Generally good super heroic engaging read and very well paced action. Writer/Creator Roye Okupe says if you enjoy this preview, there’s a 300 page graphic novel that you can scoop up of Malika and Fury called Maika: Creed & Fury that went on sale this past Free Comic Book Day.

Wednesday May 9th HELP THE CBLDF DEFEND COMICS (CBLDF/First Second)IMG_2352That other great charitable organization other than Hero Initiative, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund teamed up with First Second for a second all ages book to teach young children lessons about the right of free speech and assembly and to encourage reading in general by utilizing more samples of their graphic novels with more familiar characters such as Claudette from Giants Beware line of graphic novels by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado and Margo Maloo by Drew Weing. Little girls may more gravitate to this freebie because it has Kittens by John Patrick Green. Included is a donation form to become a member of the CBLDF from $ 100 to anywhere to $2,500. Kids, make sure you get your parents permission first before sending in that good sizable cashier’s check.

Thursday May 10th A BRIEF HISTORY OF TANK GIRL (Titan Comics) IMG_2358 Wow. I may have been moaning and groaning about the annual Doctor Who special earlier and I may have thought about bitching to all of you about how Titan Comics should be out pushing a HARD CRIME FCBD edition instead, but seeing how this was staring at me from where I left off in the pile last night – this more than makes up for my constant querulous disappointments. During the mid-nineties I used to be on Team Tank Girl. I loved the movie- despite its’ short budget comings, the various mini-series put out by Dark Horse and DC/Vertigo, and I believe I even once picked up a newsstand copy of a Tank Girl comic while I stayed out in London for a few months. I finally got a face to face with Tank Girl actress Lori Petty over at some local Los Angeles area comic book convention and I actually didn’t bring up the subject of the movie, but rather complemented her on her role on Orange is the New Black and she called me ‘baby’ in response. When I first opened this book I immediately laughed out loud at Tank Girl making it a yearly tradition of catching up with an old buddy of hers that she’s known since childhood by punching him  in the face just as a way of celebrating her birthday. Alan Martin, Brett Parson, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell,&  Jonathan Edwards along with stalwart Jamie Hewlett still providing covers are the current  goalkeepers of Tank’s new adventures. This one certainly shoots to the top of the list so far.

Thursday May 10th POKEMON *SUN & MOON (Viz Comics)IMG_2359The less I say about this book the better. Seriously, anyone who is still using the app to ‘catch ’em all’, I hope all of you walking onto the 405 AT ANY GIVEN HOUR in order to scoop up your precious charizards. Honestly, you all know my stance on anything that has to do with Pokémon going back to the late 1999. In case you forgot, Here’s a reminder.

Thursday May 10 MY HERO ACADEMIA (Viz Comics)IMG_2360

I was about gas up my fireplace until I found the back up feature RWBY to be of interest (I think it’s on my Netflix queue). I have problems getting into manga based on animated series, such as Pokémon or Digimon, because they’re just too much throwaway characters and recycled storyline from one to the next especially when they always involve competitions or stupid tournament. I can’t differentiate from one episode to the next. I have a feeling that My Hero Academia follows into that same lockstep. They are great anime that I follow on Netflex, such as the Warren Ellis penned Castlevania, Full Metal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, Golgo 13, and B: The Beginning, but I bring myself to get into the rest of this nonsense. WITH THAT BEING SAID, I see RWBY in the back of this book and I’m instantly of how good the adaptation of Image Comics’ Witchblade turned out to be and I probably would enjoy that title if someone shoved it in my face.

Thursday May 10th MAXWELL’S DEMONS (Vault)IMG_2361

I Loved it! In order to block out an abusive drunk step-father, boy genius Maxwell Maas, along with his stuffed animal friends builds himself a transdimensional doorway that leads to other universes and where he joins forces with space war faring galactic hero Captain Corvus in helping to battles towing leviathan sized menaces, rescue princesses, and play trifling pranks on gods. It all goes swimmingly well, until something very dark happens. Vault seems to pride themselves on offering some delicious light-hearted sci-fi fare with their line of comics that mostly feature teen age protagonists in starring roles. This is the preview first chapter of the graphic novel released late last year by writer Deniz Camp and artist Vittorio Astone. It’s a glorious piece of work and I give it points for originality.

Ok – that’s the end of Part I of a weekly part event. Check in next Friday evening to see how far I get through the pile.

 

 

HUGH O’CONNOR WAS A PIECE OF SHIT NOBODY LOSER WHO NEVER AMOUNTED TO ANYTHING

30 Apr

d1e73d528360891c4da09a405a43502b--the-heat-hugh-obrian

A love letter to all the trolls who hide in the dirty catacombs of my message boards expressing their utmost wishes for rape fantasies involving the giant ghost horse cock of a Armenian friend of mine when secretly they’re appetizing for the knob of this dong head loser who put a bullet in his own head, because he couldn’t exert any self-control over his drug and alcohol habits. He had to scream his professional actor daddy, Carroll O’Connor for another television role because he was too fucking coked up to audition for anything else except for perhaps whatever scraps his daddy could get for him.

Look at his pathetic resume on imdb. All it is simply eight years of portraying the same character of Lt. Lonnie Jamison – junior sidekick way down on the totem pole to Carroll O’Connor’s lead character of Chief William O. ‘Bill’ Gillespie. This douchebag son of O’Connor never HAD any role on any other television show other than the one that his father produced called In The Heat of the Night. A show, I may add, that is NOT EVEN BASED on an original idea. It parrots off an old 1967 film starring Sidney Poiter and Rod Steiger about a racist Mississippi police chief and his black partner. Figures there would be a racist edge to it – since Nazi Carroll O’Connor was drawn to portraying such racial archetypes like Archie Bunker for 9 seasons in All of The Family and an additional 4 for Archie Bunker’s Place.  The television series version of Sidney Poiter’s character on the television show, Howard E. Rollins Jr. passed away a year after In The Heat of the Night got canceled in 1995.

Of course In the Heat of the Night wasn’t Douchebag Hugh’s first role. He started out with a supporting role in a 1985 tv movie called Brass. But from the puppet master’s stage – it was another daddy supplied role since Nazi Carroll starred and co-wrote in that film too.

So eight years and 146 episodes of In the Heat of the Night in the can with cancellation imminent on the horizon and no prospect of finding a new role – it was no wonder Hugh turned into such a crotch sniffing coke fiend. Once his personal gravy train was drying up, where else was he destined to be, other than the opposite end of a gun barrel? You want to point finger of blame? Poke it at the dead and long decayed corpse of Nazi Carroll – who got Douchebag Hugh addicted in the first place with OPIATES and PAINKILLERS after Hugh had numerous sessions of cancer chemotherapy to fight his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

My friend, Harry Perzigian did put the gun in Hugh’s hand to shoot himself in the head- his fucking NAZI dad did. Hugh’s fucking NAZI dad failed in his fatherly duties of raising a responsible adult. Failed in cutting him loose instead of spoiling him with everything with buying him a house in Pacific Palisades and providing him with a television role that he didn’t even have to audition for. IT WAS HANDED TO HIM.

Whereas, my friend, Harry Perzigian may have had his small indulgences – BUT at least he expanded his horizons by working with multiple music artists such as Fiona, the lead singer of Toto’s famous hit single, “Africa” Bobby Kimball, Asia’s John Wetton, Quiet Riot’s Kevin Dubrow and all female heavy rock band Vixen, in addition to being a great friend to Rainbow’s drummer Cozy Powell. You can scour through the list of my friend’s musical accomplishments right here.

And what exactly what did Douchebag Hugh O’Connor accomplish with his life that wasn’t handed over to him by someone else?

It isn’t that much of a stretch, that’s for sure – Hugh’s nagging wife Angela worked on In the Heat of the Night as a wardrobe assistant and they had a son named Sean, now 25,  who I hear these days has been indoctrinated or brainwashed into some secret cult.

Nobody know where these losers disappeared off to. They’re a dying race – hopefully walked off the face of the earth forever. Profits off of In the Heat of the Night airing on diginet stations and vague dvd set sales can’t bring you happiness or a beautiful sunset.

And there’s your bonus blog for April 2018.