Transmissions from the Deep: 001/Holy Reagan’s Raiders

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , on 16/03/2017 by Kevin Entrekin

Read: Bill Watterson (A Cartoonist Advice) by Gavin Aung Than.

It is absurd, as I sit here with a fresh cup of cheap coffee and heavy eye lids, to think how many times I’ve regurgitated the paragraphs you are about to read over the history of this website (and maybe more broadly my life). Paragraphs filled with “site updates” and intent of jumping into some unknown abyss of new, to only be ambitions that fade as quick as they came.

How many times have I started one of these articles and stopped after this sentence, for one of my new creations to sit sediment in a draft box before I eventually assisting in their suicide?

This won’t be that.

I’m not going to go over how sorry I am for not posting more frequently or go into depth about this new idea. I am sorry, for you (if you once visited here frequently) and me. I’m working on it.

The thing is, without sounding grandiose or pompous, I believe I am on the verge of where I want to move forward in life. Probably not in a Alan Watts way, but still on the right path. Maybe I’ve realized the folly in thinking that I could gamble away time, thinking that it would somehow guarantee success in chasing “the dreams”. X amount of years at a job will somehow satisfy the American capitalist gods and I’ll be privileged to attempt a dream as an old man. I’m already getting old.

The other humbling realization is that the success of chasing my ambitions is not based on time or money, but pressure and gumption. Maybe with a dash of talent. So it then becomes clear that waiting to fulfill those goals is foolish. Meditating on money and misguided attempts to manage time is distracting from things of real importance. Such as, spending time with friends. And working towards being an independent entity, in life and work. Being generally happy.

In brief, Transmissions from the Deep will (hopefully) become an ongoing series here. It’s a look at the oddities I’ve found while searching through the dusty gems of Comic & Collectibles’ 50c bins. I’ve gone through my long box of long-forgotten issues and picked these three to write about.

***

The Optic Nerve series is a collection of short “slice-of-life” comics. This isn’t my first time reading a book in this series. I was introduced to Adrian Tomine’s work on a whim when I picked up issue 14 because of it’s unusual cover, and enjoyed it very much. So it was nice to come across a handful of the early books in a long box one day.

Issue three starts out with its strongest story, “Dylan & Donovan”. The narrative of the story is told through the inner monologue of Dylan. It details her weekend at a comic con with her troubled twin sister, Donovan, and earnest divorcee dad. It such a personal, teen-angst filled story that you can feel in your soul. You sympathize with most of Dylan’s feelings because you unquestionably had those same feelings and frustrations (or still do). And you feel a little daft when you turn up your nose to some of her whiny complaints, because it is a reminder of when you were the same way.

The other stories in this issue are also enjoyable, but maybe with less impact. “Supermarket” follows a blind man’s shopping excursion and his attempt to befriend a worker there. It’s a story that takes an odd turn in the end, and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. It warrants a second read to pick up subtle details that were possibly missed.

“Hostage Situation” is a three-page account of adolescent punks harassing commuters on a bus. It’s a situation everyone can relate to, and as I’m thinking about it, Maybe from both sides. We’ve all been in an inescapable situation that makes you grind your teeth and an overwhelming burning in your brain. But maybe some can sympathize with the teens. Hollow voices yelling into the abyss, hoping someone hears them. Interesting. I should reread it from that perspective.

The final story is a simpler story called “Unfaded”. It’s simply of a man reminiscing about a time he discovered a secret about his recently deceased grandfather. It’s a story that gives a sensation of familiar. I think it’s feels that way because when someone passes, eventually you’ll think back on that most intimate moment you had with that person.

What interesting, now that some time has passed since reading this book, is how much more interesting the stories are now. Initially, I thought of “Dylan & Donovan” as a stand-out, and everything else as sub-par. But now I feel the need to reread it. I feel like I missed some of the subtle details that Tomine is so good at including in his stories.

Long ago, in the distant time of pubic awakening known as middle school, I found a book at the school library called The Cross & The Switchblade.  I only remembered this fact while frantically thumbing through the latest batch of bargain books at Comics & Collectibles.

I don’t remember much about the novel version. It takes place in New York City and it reminded me of West Side story (minus the love plot and music). But it’s all a true story about David Wilkerson’s crusade to convert youth gangs to Christ. Apparently there was a movie too.

This comic doesn’t offer much in the way of substance. The story is crafted out of a certain section of the novel, but this is where things get odd: It still feels like a lot of details were edited to fit the confines of a single issue, yet at the same time feels like plot elements had to be stretched to meet the required pages of a single issue.

The art itself is strange as well. The scenery of 70’s NYC is meant to evoke the grittiness of life on the streets, yet it comes off as a Disney version of that. Especially when it comes to the characters. Where pastor Wilkerson looks likes a pristine Richie Cunningham clone, A Latina and black child in separate gangs look like a disproportionate and bloated version of the Fat Albert gang.

Is this a cash-grab? I don’t think so. Well, maybe. It comes off as a preview to buy the novel. Or it could just be an evangelical tool. The problem is that it feels rushed and uninspired. This is a stand-alone issue that, if given the time, could have been a polished mini-series for the publisher.

Ever wonder what a comic book produced by Cannon Films would look like? Then look no further than Solson Comics’ Samurai Santa. The cover is simple, with bold red-letter proclaiming SAMURAI SANTA. A singular image of a red/green samurai in santa garb against a black background. And the bold proclamation to have a merry Christmas… OR ELSE! All these things were indicators to me that this will be a ridiculous B-tale extravaganza. But like many titles in Cannon’s history, the cover was more exciting than the product.

In fact there isn’t anything remarkable about Samurai Santa, other than the fact it is the first comic Jim Lee worked on (which is something that I doubt he ever willingly brings up). Well, there is one other thing of interest in this rag: the adverts. Among these are other b-grade quality books, like Amazing Wahzoo and Codename: Ninja. And my personal favorite, Reagan’s Raiders (which I have scanned and included for you to admire).

The story is a fatty, ham-fisted sucker punch about the lost meaning of X-Mas. A department store Santa gets too sauced before his shift and can’t do his dehumanizing job. Running low on options, Generic boss man decides to ask Sam to take up the role, aka “that new guy running the Jap robot counter…”. Sam happily agrees to allow child after child to demand a Cabbage Patch Kids and a “Rambo M-15” from the jolly fellow.

After his shift, while walking home in his Santa garb, Sam witnesses a purse snatching and decides to intervene with the same intensity of a Steven Seagal action scene. Sam becomes a newspaper celebrity for his actions and his greedy employer exploits this.

For a book that is 32-pages long, There is maybe 4-pages total of anything remotely resembling action. Two of those pages are at the climax of the book, where a terrorist Santa appears and the Scooby-Doo twist is evil St. Nick is the boss of the store.

The cover gives the allure of a B-grade blood bath! Where’s the gore? Where’s the gratuitous death? Where’s the rewarding explosion? Nowhere. Nothing happens and the main character disappears into nothing after a lame fight.

***

To wrap this up, I guess I was a little disappointed with this first round of transmissions. Optic Nerve was the stand out. If you’ve never looked into Tomine’s work, you really should.

And admittedly, I didn’t expect much of The Cross & The Switchblade. It’s a messy adaptation that was hectic and unorganized. The passion behind the product was lacking.

But what the actual hell Samurai Ninja? I think the biggest letdown is not meeting the expectation of a 80’s action extravaganza. The simple cover conveyed that. But what you get is a moral story that makes you feel like you’re being scalded by a salty geriatric for simply being young.

I don’t know what the next Transmission will cover. I’ve put together a few “themes” that I think will be interesting, Including an indie trade set, A obscure supers set, 90’s Mix set… A lot of sorting to go through. Also want to start a series where I catch up on the current series I’ve been reading (because I am far behind on everything).

Anyways, thanks for reading, crew. Is that something I want to call you, the reader? Crew? Hmm, Let me know and I’ll work on it.

 

 

 

Uncharted Territory: The Walmart Comic Rack

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

* Tuesday’s Gone- Metallica “My baby’s gone with the wind” RIP Sophie, my Baby Girl.

***

I hate going to Wal-Mart. There is a suffocating air as soon as you walk in the place. An air that reeks of artificial attitudes and a tension that feels like a brawl could break out for no reason at any moment. Unfortunately, the store is only a two-minute drive from home, so I have to brave the sanctified aisles of the mega cathedral of consumerism to acquire necessities.

While I hurriedly was trying to find the shortest check out line to purchase my sriracha and boxed quinoa, I saw something familiar, yet out-of-place: Comics. Not individual issues mind you, but packs of three relatively recent issues from Marvel and DC. They were inconspicuously stuffed between Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon cards and had a nice round price of a fiver on them. (Edit: this is a more recent photo of the display, where it is now directly marketed as Marvel/DC packs and the Marvel issues are now $10).

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Maybe this isn’t anything new and I’ve just missed it. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, really. It’s a logical business stepping point for the Big Two to start selling books at… well, practically anywhere they can. Like when Piggly Wiggly had a random rack of comics next to a Pog vending machine when I was a kid (90’s kid trigger warning).

These comic packs are water-testers. I wager it won’t be long before people can go to their local mega store for Wednesday pick-ups. Yet another threat the local comic shops will have to weather.

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Let’s dissect the bag I bought: I picked up the more mysterious packaging of the two, the Marvel pack (Which isn’t advertised as a marvel set as you can see from the scan above). It promised the possibilities of “randomly inserted Bronze, Silver, & Modern Age Keys”. A promise I suspected to be hollow and fruitless before ripping the package open.

I was surprised though when I did actually open it up, because I was expecting some stuff from a fifty-cent bin. Instead they were all three relatively recent Marvel issues: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02, Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01, and Hercules #02. The oldest issues (SW and Gwen) date back to only December 2015 and Hercules is as recent as March 2016.

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  • Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01

I guess this was the “key” (gotta sneak in that insider comic lingo like “keys” to draw in the kiddos) first issue the promotion bubble was talking about.

I love Spider-Gwen. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s creation is one of the best things Marvel (had) came out with in a long time. But, this is the second number one Gwennie received in 2015. The first five issues were disrupted by the marketing series Secret Wars, and after a few months Spider-Gwen “continued” with a new name and first issue.

And even though this is a continuation, a lot of the uniqueness and fun of the original initial issues have been lost. Rodriguez’s art hasn’t changed and Latour’s writing isn’t much different. But the fun is gone, and I think I know who is responsible: Marvel.

Marvel is its own worst enemy when it comes to good series like this, Howard the Duck, and Spider-Woman. Secret Wars was forced into Gwen’s world and had to “start over”. Then only a few issues into Radioactive, Gwen was sidetracked once again with the Spider-Women arch (combining forces with Silk and Spider-Woman). That series was quite fun actually, but still off course. Then they saw that the cream was sweet and made a Gwenpool series, thus trying to milk a cow before it can produce..

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  • Hercules #02

Hercules was the mystery issue in the pack. For starters, I had not heard of it. For a series that came out this year, it went unnoticed on the shelves at my local shop and I had not heard any praise for it. But this was issue two, and a second printing at that apparently. Maybe there was some thing more beyond the Liefeld-esque cover.

There wasn’t, sadly. I secretly wanted this to work and I can see what they were going for: The tarnished hero that must seek redemption. But it doesn’t really work when all I keep coming back to is thinking of Thor. That doesn’t usually matter to me, but the plot itself is predictable and the art forgettable, making the hero himself forgettable.

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  • Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02

Shatter Empire was the most interesting issue, and the far superior read in comparison to Hercules (in comparison to issues I hadn’t read, as I already had read Spider-Gwen).

I don’t remember this 4-part series when it first came out among the slew of almost 20+ Star Wars titles Marvel released to promote The Force Awakens. Before reading I did a little research and learned it was about Poe Dameron’s parents essentially, which put me on edge that it was just a flaming fandom rubbish pile.

But the plot is handled by storied writer Greg Rucka, and it’s a strong plot. Although I had not read the first issue, it was easy to catch up and get involved in the story. It mainly focuses on Poe’s mother Shara Bey, who is an ace rebel pilot assigned to escort Princess Leia on a mission to Naboo, where things go awry.

I think what surprised me more than the good story was the art. The art by Marco Checchetto, Emilio Laiso, and Angel Unzueta is solid and beautifully colored. Especially the fight sequence at the beginning of the issue between AT-ATs and rebel squadrons.

While there are some weak/unnecessary plot like Princess Leia writing condolence letters, this isn’t just a random story thrown together to be a promo for The Force Awakens. Assuming the rest of the series is as strong as this issue, I am intrigued enough to pick up a trade and read the whole series.

***

So, let’s break down what you get with this mix bag of comics: You get three comics from Marvel. Considering they are all fairly recent releases, for five dollars (or now it seems ten) you get twelve dollars worth of comics (each book individually cost $3.99). That is a bargain from a technical standpoint. But you have to consider what you’re getting: A mystery pack of issues that aren’t fresh. Yeah, I got a nice surprise with the Shattered Empire issue but still, that issue is for a series that ended a year ago. These are overstock issues comic shops have in discount bins so they can make space.

I see these packs, again, only as market testers. Something chain stores use as a litmus test to see if selling comics is profitable for them. I also see them as underwhelming gifts a family member gets you because “you’re into comics and I saw this while checking out”. Instead, do yourself a favor and venture into a comic shop. Yeah, you’ll have to pay regular price like the rest of the nerds, but at least you get something you want to read. And you’ll also maybe find a whole new community to be apart of.

 

Renaming the Site: Nostromo Coffee

Posted in Nerdism, Uncategorized on 24/04/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

I don’t like the name The Stacks Only Grow. It was meant to reference the fact that the media I’ll write about (film, comics, video games, books, etc) always seems to stack up and grow, never deplete. It represents the maddening feeling of materials just piling up.

But its a boring phrase. An offhanded comment that doesn’t have the weight to be a site name. It’s too long and sterile. And as one of my closest friends so accurately pointed out, “it sounds more like a tagline, ya know?” And she’s right. It doesn’t represent what I want to do here, and more especially the atmosphere I want to make this. That’s why this site will now be Nostromo Coffee.

nostromoellenI fell in love with the USCSS Nostromo the first time I watched Ridley’s Scott’s Alien. Its unique in the way that the ship feels lived in and functioning, unlike a lot of science fiction interiors that feel sterilized and has glowing white lights everywhere. Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner (another Ridley Scott masterpiece) also has that same type of atmosphere and vibe. That’s what I want this site to feel like I guess. Comfortable and familiar, as much as a digital entity like a website can feel that way.

And coffee… because I love coffee. And the crew drinks quite a bit in the film. Just fits, really.

So nothing really changes on the site other than the name. I’m still having a slow go at getting articles published but working on it. And my thoughts and ideas about what I want from this site are still the same, but always evolving. So all I’ll really say is sit back and enjoy a cup of Nostromo Coffee with some chillwave in the background.

Well, one final thing: Alien day is on 4/26, coincidentally. So far it just seems like a couple of businesses trying to get some money out of people by offering “exclusives” (Like the Aliens soundtrack with green liquid-filled vinyl selling for an outrageous $225 from Mondo). But bollocks to all that. I encourage to instead watch Alien if you have never seen it. Or rewatching it if you have. It’s an important film to me, especially the heroine Ellen Ripley. And I think any fan of Sci-Fi or Horror should see this film at some point.

Southern Bastards #13

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , on 20/03/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

(listen: “Take it Easy“, by The Eagles)

Its Caucus time in the Kingdom of Fear at the time of typing this (who knows when this will get published, but it’s getting worse) and Fuhrer Trump and his minions are kicking a Black Lives Matter protester out of their Klan rally on television. They’re throwing punches and trash at the kid, which isn’t unusual for the crowd you see at El Comandante’s rallies. This is Phobos incarnate, broadcast to either the lust or disgust of the masses.

I went to the polls for Super Tuesday, a perfectly dreary and wet day in West Tennessee. No waiting in line as I entered a florescent-lit room in the back of a church with a lone Trump sign out front. I pushed the red button and cast my vote for Bernard Sanders. I thought for the first in my voting history, I’d feel satisfaction after voting. But I didn’t. I knew the state of Tennessee would go Trump and Clinton. My vote didn’t matter.

The pundits and media are already craving for Jefe Naranja and Clinton to gore each other with broken pool cues in the general election. They already have belts around their necks and hands down their pants waiting for each candidate to speak. Bernie is being discredited as a real threat in the aftermath of recent early voting, even with his numbers steadily rising and winning a few important states. He’s not out, but it’s not going to be clear until the ref raises the victors hand. Bernie is going to have to go the full twelve with the last jab thrown. Then its on to the title fight.

Why am I being so candid on politics? I don’t normally talk publicly about my opinions on this glorified soap opera, even though I like to keep my nose in it. People get irrational and violent when talking about politics, same with religion and guns. I avoid those toxic conversations.

Maybe because I actually believe in this candidate. The first politician that I don’t look at like all the other perverted, greedy politicians. Bernie gives the aurora of authenticity and being unsullied. He remains (presumably) uncorrupted or bought by the evil bastards and industries.

People say that about Trump as well, but that’s a lie; he’s malleable like Reagan. Pliable to the will and saccharine words of anyone who gives the front of being “intelligent”. That’s why Republicans love him so much. He’s a puppet for their bidding, and just the right sensual words whispered into his ears results in the carpet bombing of some far-away land or the holocaust of “undesirables”.

But what can you do, really? I guess just sit back with a cold Miller and watch the kids argue. Might as well enjoy it, especially for like-minded individuals who think Trump is a proper bastard. I’ll probably be black-bagged on the way to work one day by his newly instated SS division in a grandiose sting operation and shipped off to a black site in Kentucky run by Charles Graner and Lynndie England.

(Listen: Dead Flowers, by Townes Van Zandt)

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Southern Bastards, #13

Published by: Image Comics. $3.50 Print/$2.99 Digital. Story by Jason Aaron. Art by Jason Latour.

(Read: Jason Latour on The Charleston Terrorist Attack, the rebel flag, and the modern south, featured in issue 10).

As a southerner raised on Alabama football and Memphis BBQ, Southern Bastards is a work of art. It highlights what makes the south home, blemishes and beauty. There’s the humble hospitality of southerners, then the underlying sinister side of the governing individual law enforcement, a biblical eye-for-eye system.

The story is handled by a good ‘ole boy from Bama, Jason Aaron. The language in the pages of each issue he produces is authentic linguistics and mannerisms exhibited in the southland. To some, the characters probably seem exaggerated. And to an extent they are, but there’s a awful lot of truth in them as well. You meet people like this down here, good and nasty.

The south is also a land of underlying beauty with a seething slime of sinisterism just below the surface, which Jason Latour captures beautifully in his art. Both ragged and stunningly gorgeous, he includes little things that make the books an authentic southern experience. Even something as simple as background details and fashion choices of the residents of Craw County makes you fell the thick, humid heat and scent of roasted pig flesh in the air.

I guess I should take a moment here to advised this will be spoiler territory here on out. I don’t like to take something away from the potential reader of a book or viewer of a film, so I’m alerting you now: If you haven’t read this beautiful series or issue 13 yet and plan to, maybe come back at another time.

From the front cover, you know this issue is going to be different from the previous twelve. It has a blue color scheme, whereas the past issues have been red. Things are more tense than usual in Craw County with the rivalry game against Wetumpka finally here.

This is a turning point in the series: Craw County gets walloped in the game, and the biggest crack in the Coach Boss empire is now visible. He is vulnerable, especially when after the loss he finds the biggest player from Wetumpka and beats the crap out of him. And every enemy Coach Boss has ever made has taken notice that he’s weakened. The vultures are circling.

Aaron in previous issues has found a way of making you sympathize with the villain by looking back at what made him the villain in the first place. Does it excuse Coach Boss of his sins because of his past? No, but you do understand why he is who he is. Whereas Earl Tubb’s was the protagonist in a Walking Tall role during a the first arc of this series, Euless Boss has in turn become the protagonist. He’s a crooked man in jackpot, and there’s a hell of a lot of people trying to keep him from getting out of it.

Latour somehow makes Coach Boss look harder in this issue. His features are more cut, his face more skeletal and grisly. Overcast that with the gloomy weather ever-present in this issue, the entire atmosphere of this issue is suffocating. And with the reveal that Earl Tubb’s daughter is finally making her way to Craw County for Southern justice, things are bound to get even more tense.

How much longer can this series go on before it losses its steam? One or two more arcs? Fifteen to Fifty more issues before its sauce is too vinegary? I don’t know. Maybe we will venture outside of Craw County to keep the stories coming. I’m not sure, but I do know that I’ll be patiently waiting until the next issue comes out. Patience, after all, is a southern virtue. Though, it is hardly practiced anymore.

*Bought at Comics & Collectibles.

Visiting the island: Island #6

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , on 12/02/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

(listen: “Comfort Eagle” by Cake)

“… anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours…” St. Hunter S. Thompson said that. For him it was the solitude of a gluttonous breakfast chased by Bloody Marys and six fat lines of cocaine.

I think about him a lot lately, especially with America in the midst of election season. Wonder what he would think of this kingdom of fear known as the civilized world. Wonder what he would think of corrosive politics being intravenously injected into ever damn facet of normal life. What would he say about an open modern Nazi bastard and an open socialist running for president? A plethora, I imagine. But we’ve deviated off course a bit.

I wouldn’t categorize myself as terminally jangled, I guess. Moderately jangled sounds about right. But, my “psychic anchor” is slightly less extravagant than Hunter. I like to end my day bunked in bed during the early hours reading a few comics from a stack that never seems to diminish, only grow (hence, the name change from The Morning Thunder Buffalo). This time spent slipping between panels is comforting, like a film. Inspires creation, while allowing the chaos of the brain hemispheres to take a cease fire.

This comic is just one of the things I’ve been reading. In the future, I’m planning on talking more about a wide variety of things I’m reading, watching, and listening to. Fresh stuff off the shelf. Dusty gems from the fifty-cent bin. Newly released movies. Forgotten fried gold films.

This will probably also be a slow process and have growing pains. But, I’m excited to see where this goes. Its hard letting go of the buffalo. He helped me through some rough patches in life. But I had to let him go, which has been a personal lesson for over a year now. Letting things go for growth. Letting go of someone I loved. Letting go of the comforts of a dead-end job. Letting go of apathy.

(listen: “Separations” by Diarrhea Planet)

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Island #6

Published by Image Comics. $7.99 print/digital. Stories & art by F Choo (intro art), Onta (Badge of Pride), Gael Bertrand (A land Called Tarot), Katie Skelly, Sarah Horrocks (Essay on Kyoko Okazaki). Curated by Brandon Graham and Emma Ríos.

Comic mags are making a quite comeback. In a few months Grant Morrison is taking over as editor of Heavy Metal, sparking new interest in the beloved schlock rag. And around the same time of that announcement back in summer, Brandon Graham and Image Comics published the first issue of Island.

For context, Graham is one of my favorite artist. When I was first starting to get back into comics, my friend Cody introduced me to his work in Multiple Warheads and it was an instant attraction. The fluid movement of his art and his pun-laddened writing is a lucid-dream experience. It’s like being wrapped in a warm blanket as you’re lightly led through a bizarre, unsafe, fun Soviet carnival.

Island features very little of Graham’s work or writing, outside of his new installments of Multiple Warheads. But, his presence is looming over the project. He gathers artist and writers who are similar to him, outsiders of the norm in terms of the two big publishers. People like Amy Clare are fresh on the scene, with her first work being published in the third issue. People like Farel Dalrymple are legends in comix, and he has contributed two new editions of Pop Gun War in previous mags.

This issue will be the most polarizing for readers, I think, as far as content. Half of the issue is dedicated to furries. Even the cover features the characters from the story, Badge of Pride by Onta. For those outside the know, Furries are a fandom subculture dedicated to fictional tales of anthropomorphic animals with human characteristics, varying in degrees of eroticism usually.

Badge of Pride is about a gay couple, one open and the other closeted, going to a pride parade. Not to be blunt, but that the general gist.

Now, I have a core theology about literature and film: a) All stories must be approached with an open mind, rarely without regard to subject matter. Adam Sandler, for example though, is met with prejudice (among similar toxic things).  b) The story has to be good. With that practice in mind…

I enjoyed Badge of Pride. It accomplished the latter while I kept in mind the former. Though it doesn’t feel like a complete story, so much as something to peak your interest. Further reading is available on Onta’s webpage (nsfw, by the way). There are also themes of acceptance and being proud of who you are in the story.

I think the point of this installment was a better understanding of the furry culture. Which it has done to the extent it needed. Will I, or the public as a whole, fully understand the appeal? Probably not. But things like this help bridge the gap to understanding and common ground. And maybe someone who is shy about furryism will get a great sense of inclusion from this.

The other half of this issue is the second installment of A land called Tarot by Gael Bertrand, a wordless fantasy adventure that I absolutely loved from the first story in issue four. And this second installment is just as great. The art is simply gorgeous, the colors rich and saturated. The characters have an instant charisma and attraction to them.

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The wordless narrative is effective. It leaves a lot of imagination for the reader, which ultimately is the point of a fantasy story. Though, it is a little more loose here and may require a second read, but its such a fun ride to go on.

There’s also an essay by Sarah Horrocks on the use of death and corpses in Kyoko Okazaki’s mangas, which is an engaging read for those familiar with Okazaki’s work. And a few works of fashion art from katie Skelly, which are nice and really left me wanting more.

This issue is a bit smaller in size. It’s the second that has saddle-stitch staple binding (unlike previous issues that were perfect bound), and is approximately thirty-pages shorter than previous issues. Is this an omen of some sort? Hopefully not. But it is worrying that the next issue comes out in May.

Spending $8 on a comic magazine may seem like an extravagance, but you genuinely get your rubles worth from Island. More so than shelling out $4 for a marvel book that’s half-filled with adverts for Agents of Shield.

*Bought at Comics & Collectibles, the best shop in Memphis.

My Favorite Holiday Films (Updated)

Posted in list with tags , , , , , , , on 11/12/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

A few years back I wrote an article listing my five favorite Christmas films, and in review it was a combination of bad writing and lame choises. I included Home Alone and It’s A Wonderful Life in that list. And if I’m honest, as enjoyable as those films are, I will survive each year without viewing either of them. Because I don’t really enjoy most films with a heavy focus on the holidays, more the ones that just happen to take place during the season. So here is my updated, true, five six or seven favorite X-Mas films. And maybe they’ll be aides in your survival of the holidays as well.

  •  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

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If I could choose only one film to consider essential personal viewing during the holidays, I’d choose Shane Black’s genre-blending Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. What more could you want? Murder. Mystery. An inept Robert Downey Jr. Val Kilmer as a gay private eye. And femmes Michelle Monaghan and Shannyn Sossamon round out an even more expansively talented cast in a modern, comical noir. Black’s name has more provenance since last year with his sophomore directing effort, a little indie flick called Iron Man 3. And he wrote another film on this list, but more on that later. But this film, clever and underratedly brilliant, is still one of my favorite films.

  • Die Hard (1988)

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I have only ever seen two Die Hard films. The original McClane classic and then the terrible A Good Day to Die Hard. And I’m fine with that. The original has a plethora of fun and mayhem to satisfy each repeat viewing. You get a primed and smart-ass Bruce Willis facing off against wicked Alan Rickman set in Nakatomi Towers. There is an unmistakable 80’s aesthetic without straying too far into a cliche or becoming formulaic. Think of it like this: A crappy Christmas party you were invited to, but exciting and fun. Well, that’s the plot. You get the comparison though, right?

  • Trading Places (1983)

jlc4Time to buffer that action with some comedy, and what better way to do that than with this classic John Landis 80’s Pauper-adaptation. It has many great actors at the height of their careers. Eddie Murphy is hilarious yet sincere as a poor black man given a job as a stock trader. Dan Aykroyd is equally entertaining as snooty stock trader turned poor white man. And Jamie Lee Curtis, whom (no secret) I very much adore, is charming as a smart prostitute with a heart of gold. Trading Places has that special Landis charm and whit that combined with this cast makes for an heart-warming comedic romp.

  • Lethal Weapon (1987)

lethal-weapon-2I love the Lethal Weapon films. They’re a guilty pleasure that I don’t really feel guilty about. It’s odd to me, that modern action films shy away from such a brilliant formula as these films. Yeah, you get to switch off and just watch, but not like now where people have to wipe away dribble from their lips at the end of a Michael Bay film. Did LW get a little ridiculous? Better believe it. I mean, a guy gets killed by a flying surfboard in the sequel. But there was some intelligence to these films, something to keep you lucid and connected. Before Gibson went nutty and Glover was actually too old for anything, they were one of the best buddy cop duos around. Well, they still are. And that Shane Black guy mentioned earlier? Yeah, he wrote it.

  •  National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

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A December nary passes the Entrekin household before watching Clark Griswald’s decent into middle-class holiday hell. To this day, this comedic observation of those quirky people we call family is still relevant. Considering that this film comes from the Lampoon’s, a studio that pumps out about fifteen films a year and the last one that was of any relevance was… Christmas Vacation, that’s quite impressive.  Most everyone has a Eddie in the family, albeit a good bit more racist. Most everyone has heavily medicated grandparents that just stare at the tele and have the age-old conversation of how “the good ole days are gone”. And most everyone has strung out parents just trying to hold everything barely together.

  • Batman Returns (1992)

batmanbatman1I mean… Keaton as Bats. Pfieffer as (the quintessential) Catwoman. DeVito as Penguin. Gloomy neo-gothic Gotham. Can’t go wrong. I’d even go ahead and throw in the original Batman film as a warm up to Returns as well. It also has a winter drabness and why not have a mini-marathon of the Tim Burton masterpieces? It’s also a nice reminder of simpler times, pre-Marvel and Zach Snyder CGI projectile spewing.

Yeah, the holidays can be hell sometimes. The haze of Christmas lights and seasonal scents and corporate greed sends some into a sedated existence. And then there are the Christmas social media defenders. You know, the ones who get really worked up and hateful when underprivileged people point out inequality in America. The type you mostly wonder why you added them to your Facebook in the first place.  The ones who like to share a “IT’S MERRY CHRISTMAS, NOT HAPPY HOLIDAYS” photo everyday. Screw those grinches. Anyways, this time of year can get pretty heavy for a lot of people. So spike that egg nog just a bit more, kick back with these films, and drift away from Grandpa Ulysses’ snoring.

What Comics I’ve Been Reading- April, Part Two

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22/04/2014 by Kevin Entrekin

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Continued…

comtomb-Tomb Raider #1. Series. Dark Horse Comics. Script by Gail Simone. Art by Nicolas Daniel Selma. No rating- personally suggest teen. $3.50.

I didn’t do much gaming last year. Or this year either. But one of the titles I was not going to miss was the Tomb Raider reboot. Short version of a review: One of my childhood mainstays got an amazing upgrade.

So I’m a bit disappointed when it comes to this first issue from Dark Horse. In some ways it’s a nice fan service to pick up shortly after where the game left off. But really it is just kind of boring and pretty much a standard first issue. But with most first issues, you want the reader to pick up the next issue. With this, I really didn’t.

The one real positive I take away from this is the art. I’ve never seen any of Nicolas Daniel Selma’s work before this, but I enjoyed it here. The colors are nice and vibrant as well.

comicjup-Jupiter’s Legacy #4. Series. Image Comics. Written by Mark Miller. Art by Frank Quitely. Rated M/ Mature. $2.99.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Mark Millar works, but I have really been enjoying his series Jupiter’s Legacy. It’s an alternate origins of supers and how we and they interact. Millar has wasted no time getting down to the nitty gritty in the first three chapters either.

This fourth chapter takes place several years after the game-changing events that take place in the third, in non-spoiler terms. This is probably the weakest chapter so far from Millar. Which is disappointing since Millar has taken a very lazy approach to releasing this title. Sometimes it is bi-monthly. Sometimes… whenever.

But for $2.99 for Frank Quitely’s beautiful and detailed art is a bargain, especially if you are into this series. If not, I’d encourage finding some copies, as I still find this one of the most interesting series out at the moment. Plus, who knows when the next one comes out?

comstarlight-Starlight #1. Series. Image Comics. Written by Mark Millar. Art by Goran Parlov. Rated M/ Mature. $2.99.

Maybe this somewhat newish series from Millar can explain a bit why it takes him forever to publish Jupiter’s Galaxy. Starlight is what Millar touts as the beginning of his “expanded Millarworld universe”.

Starlight is the tale of Duke Mcqueen, who forty years ago via wormhole became the saviour of the universe. Fast-forward to the present and Duke is a recent widower with some life questions. But it looks like the universe needs saving again and Duke is the man for the job.

There is not much originality here. Millar crafts a story that has been done before. A washed-up old man with a flaky and uncaring family. It’s like The Incredibles  and Gran Torino had a child. But somehow Millar makes you ignore all that and makes an intriguing, albeit short, first issue. I am mostly unfamiliar with Goran Parlov’s work but really enjoyed it. He has a mobius-esque landscapes with lovely pastel-tinted colors.

Ya’ got my attention again, Mark.

comsurf-Silver Surfer #1. Series. Marvel Comics. Written by Dan Slott. Art by Mike & Laura Allred. Rated T+ (teen). $3.99.

I will go anywhere Mike Allred takes me. If that means hitchin’ a ride with Silver Surfer, so be it.

I’m a bit rusty on the SS back story, but I knew enough to understand where this first issue picks up. Basically, Surfer was once Norrin Radd who turned into the Surfer when he begins helping Galactus consume planets. When he comes to Earth, The Fantastic Four helps him find his humanity and turns against Galactus.

Knowing that short bio is beneficial when picking this up, as it takes place sometime after. It’s a pretty standard first issue, but what really makes it worth picking up is the Allreds art. The colors and energy of the art takes some of the sting out of the four-dollar price tag. Worth picking up #2 (which comes out tomorrow) just to see where this goes.

And that’s about it for now. I also picked up Image’s first issue of Deadly Class, which came out in January. Wasn’t anything interesting really. A lot of borrowed, unoriginal ideas pasted together in one book. See you again in May, especially on Free Comic Book Day, May third. Keep reading, ya ginchy people.