Children

Where's My Shoggoth Cover

Review: Where’s My Shoggoth?

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Writing by: Ian Thomas

Art by: Adam Bolton

This is the story of a little boy who has lost his pet and sets out on a journey to find it. He’s searching for his Shoggoth; what exactly that is remains a mystery until the end. This is a children’s book but with a definite horror theme, filled with gloriously detailed monsters and ghouls. As the boy travels through all sorts of spooky terrains and encounters all sorts of creatures he’s disappointed when each one is not exactly his Shoggoth.

The art of Where’s My Shoggoth is just plain gorgeous. Super detail, gothic coloring, so much careful attention to the particular textures and weight in each individual environment. Although the creatures are satisfyingly scary for an adult to enjoy, the boy’s easy bravery and casual attitude towards them keeps the story from ever being too terrifying for a child. The kid never shows a bit of fear when faced with a new beast, which keeps the story light-hearted. It’s a very crafty, well done approach to children’s material with in the horror genre.

Where’s My Shoggoth is a brilliant mix of Dr. Seuss style rhyme and rhythm, classic ‘searching for my mommy/pet/friend’ story line and H.P. Lovecraft demons. There are some extra great goodies included here too, like a Chutes & Ladders type board game. In all aspects, this is a fantastic book for the kids who enjoy a little scare and of course just in time for Halloween!

Where’s My Shoggoth is available now from Archaia.

 

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Disney Princesses Come of Age

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Guest post written by T. Johnson. T. Johnson is a blogger, au pair, and part-time tutor who has been obsessed with science fiction and comics since roughly first grade. One of her life`s big revelations was discovering Wonder Woman comics-another milestone was starting to read the works of Heinlein and Aldous Huxley. She has always been convinced that girls can be as truly nerdy as any fanboy.

 

Recent re-screenings of several Disney films has got me thinkng about the “Disney princess” phenomenon. As animation fanatics and a majority of parents know, Disney Studios made a bunch of movies with female heroines over a fifty-odd year time span. Most of them were based on fairy or folk tales, so the heroine was usually a “princess,” even if she started out disguised as something else. The “princess” movies remain hugely popular with audiences. They were re-mastered in handsome DVD and Blu-ray box sets, inspired hundreds of Halloween costumes and were responsible for the “princess party,” that staple of little girl birthday celebrations.

The films have their detractors, however. Most of the critical vollies aimed at them have come from feminist thought. Critics complain that Disney has placed images of women in a time capsule, portraying them as passive victims waiting to be rescued, as debutantes dreaming only of their prince. They cite the 1950 film Cinderella as a prime offender: sweet-natured girl is pushed around by her stepsisters, remains sweet despite doing all the housework, then is rewarded for being a doormat by a fairy godmother who enables her to attend a ball and meet a prince.

Admittedly, Cinderella is not big on my list either. I don`t really agree, though, that all of these films present terrible images of women. I think there are some redeeming qualities in the princess film canon. I`ll discuss just a few of the movies in this post, specifically those which present heroines who are fully fleshed out as people. Quick note: I`d love to include the warrior-princess film Mulan here, but I don`t feel justified in talking about it since it`s one of the few Disney animation flicks I have not seen.

Image Courtesy of coloringweb.com

Consider Snow White of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). As she scrubs the palace steps in a tattered dress and wooden shoes, SW sings a song about wishing and hoping for the one she loves. But there`s a lot more to her than waiting around. When her wicked stepmother/queen decides to have her killed, she must fend for herself in a dark forest. She`s obviously scared, but doesn`t give up, pressing onward despite mysterious sounds and logs that resemble alligators. Snow White shows similiar courage when she meets the dwarves. This is a girl who`s never been away from home before, but she readily adapts to a group whose culture she`s totally unfamiliar with.

Instead of judging or mocking the dwarves, she befriends them. And yes, she does the housework. But one should keep in mind that the original Snow White story was told in the 1400s, a time when housework involved a lot of manual labor and the skills needed for tasks like spinning and washing clothing by hand. The dwarf fraternity respects her for pitching in, and she respects and likes them (I remember thinking as a child that they were way more interesting as people than the Prince)! Snow White displays a lot of sense and independent thinking, not to mention a genuine kindness for both animals and people.

Looking at later Disney movies makes one wonder what became of heroines like Snow White. Maybe, like characters played by Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn in the 30s and early 40s, she was shelved due to cultural reasons. After World War 2, real-life women often had to quit the jobs they obtained while men were away, leading to a quasi-Victorian idealization of the home and traditional femininity. Hollywood seemed to reinforce this by producing few films with strong female leads, and during the fifties, Disney followed suit. After the likable but maudlin Cinderella, we got characters like Wendy of Peter Pan (1953-sweet and bright, but hung up on Peter) and Briar Rose of 1959`s Sleeping Beauty (sweet and hard-working, has to be awakened by a prince). This is not to say that fifties Disney cartoons were total fiascos- they were well animated and ahead of their time- but strong heroines were not a huge priority here.

Gradually, times changed and so did the Disney empire. After several financial upheavals in the 70s, animated films began to emerge from the studio again in the mid-80s. “Princess” characters were beginning to be written in a different way, a prime example being Belle of Beauty and the Beast (1991). Belle, the daughter of a small-town inventor, is sweet-natured and hard-working like many a Disney girl. Unlike them, she seeks knowledge through reading and dreams of leaving her home and having adventures. And she`s not afraid of the ferocious-seeming Beast: when he orders her to come to dinner, she refuses until he issues a civil invitation. They gradually come to know each other as equals. The troubling issue here is the whole conceit of the Beast keeping her captive in his castle. This is how the original story went, but I can also see why some commentators read Belle warming to him as a form of Stockholm syndrome.

On the other hand, she does try to escape at one point in order to check on her father, and this makes Beast realize that he can`t merely keep her as a pet. Belle is a fully realized character who is intriguing as well as pretty. She does change clothes more than other Disney princesses, but hey, she is living in a palace with well-equipped closets-why not? And she has the courage to try and rescue her father from the creepy village folk by herself, not waiting for Beast or any of his servants to accompany her.

The Princess and the Frog (2009) has a female lead who is more than able to carry the film. This princess is merely dressed as one for Mardi Gras-she`s actually an industrious waitress named Tiana, a fine cook who is saving money for her own restaurant. She becomes involved with the lazy and conceited Prince Naveen only because he`s been turned into a frog and requests her help. Kissing him turns her into a frog as well, so the pair must hit a Louisiana swamp in search of a voodoo priestess who can transform them back. Tiana is totally uninterested in Naveen at first, considering him hopelessly hedonistic. But the two bond as they journey through the swamp, and the prince is evantually ready to embrace work and give up his player-like ways for Tiana.

Throughout the film, Tiana`s ditzy friend Lottie epitomizes the stereotypical “princess” viewpoint, in contrast to the former`s practical ways. When read the old Frog Prince story as children, Lottie sighs in contentment, while Tiana exclaims, “No way am I kissin` no frog, no matter what!” You`ve got to love a girl who`s that feisty from childhood up. She also has a strong sense of morality. The evil Dr. Facilier offers to make her human again if she surrenders a charm- trouble is, he`ll use the charm to facilitate his takeover of New Orleans. Tiana refuses, vowing to “stay in the swamp forever”, rather than aid the voodoo dark side. All ends well, but with a twist: though Tiana and Naveen become restored to humanity, they achieve her dream of opening a restaurant, instead of looking for a kingdom to luxuriate in. Good film, great heroine-finally, an action princess! Yes, there`s still a prince, but the relationship dynamic is totally different. We see the pair get to know each other as people, not just become infatuated.

Disney cartoon features have become more progressive in terms of female heroes. It`s certainly true that they lagged behind the women and girls of anime for a few decades- compare any pre-eighties Disney heroine to Millenium Actress or Princess Mononoke- but they`re genuinely losing the passive princess mindset. Now that the studio is supposedly still going to do some hand-drawn animation as well as CGI, why not research some girl power-friendly storylines? How about a remake of The Black Cauldron with more emphasis on feisty heroine Eilonwy? Or a retelling of the Artemis or Amazons myths? Future generations of girls are waiting to see their own adventures in animation- they want to protect the castle, not just clean its courtyard.

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Childhood Strikes Again!

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When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my cousin Conor had a battery-powered Bigfoot. It was just big enough for the two of us to fit in, and we would constantly fight over who got to drive it. For those who don’t know who (well technically what) Bigfoot is, he’s/it’s a Monster Truck. Monster Trucks are souped up trucks, cars, or even a hearse that have been fitted with tires that are over 6 ft. tall. They tour the country smashing ridiculous amounts of 80s Cadillacs and Chevys.

Around the same time that Conor and I were fighting over Bigfoot, my mom took us to a Logging Expo in Atlanta. Logging Expos are sort of like Comic Con but for loggers. There are TONS of booths selling equipment, or giving out information, but my favorite part has always been the equipment displays. Especially the ones with really big tractors that I could climb into that have lots of buttons to push and levers to play with. What was so awesome about that particular expo, though, was that Bigfoot was there. Large and in charge.

Ever since then I have wanted to see an actual Monster Truck show live in person, and not just on TV. So when my Mom called me about two weeks ago and asked if Mr. Doc and I wanted to go to the Monster Truck Jam with her and Dad, my answer was an immediate yes!

Back in the 80s & 90s, Bigfoot had one main competitor on the Monster Truck circuit: a converted hearse aptly named, Grave Digger. First seen in 1982, Grave Digger quickly rose to stardom as the main rival to Bigfoot. Now as a kid I didn’t like Grave Digger because he beat Bigfoot! To a 5 year old, that was A BIG DEAL. These days I feel a little differently.

Friday night rolled around and after a satisfying dinner at Chick-Fil-A, the four of us rolled up to the venue. Our seats were all the way in the last row but since it was stadium seating, I thought we had pretty great seats. The first thing that really hit me was the noise. That roar of a souped up engine being revved like there’s no tomorrow, and no muffler.

There were six trucks competing at that stop on the tour: Monster Mutt, an ADORABLE truck complete with tail and floppy ears, El Toro Loco, with a flame paint job and horns of course, The Turtle, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles paintjob (Raphael to be specific), Prowler, a tiger complete with creepy eyes, and Predator, a snake truck that just couldn’t stop breaking down; I felt bad for the driver.

So, the first event is a race, two trucks starting on opposite sides of the arena. In that event the winner is determined by who can get around the track and over two sets of five cars the fastest. Grave Digger was ahead until he came up against Monster Mutt, who beat him by a nose. *giggle* Two more race type events followed and then came the Donut Competition. Basically the winner was whoever could do the best Donut. Turns out that was El Toro Loco. He did 10 consecutive spins before coming to a halt. It was pretty awesome to see. The final competition of the night was the Freestyle. This consists of the trucks going around the track, over the sets of five cars and also attempting to jump over two sedans and cargo van that have been strapped together. After a night of losing, Grave Digger pulled out all the stops and WON the Freestyle competition! I was ecstatic!

All in all it was a fun-filled night stuffed with screaming myself hoarse and being rendered temporarily deaf by the noise of engines. Now I can’t wait till next year.

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‘Monster in my Room’ Cancer Fundraiser

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There is this independent musician that I know. His name is David Ritter (@MacMufasa). He’s doing something pretty awesome for this little boy, named Aiden Reed, who has leukemia. I’ll let David tell you all about it:

This is a song I wrote after reading about Aidan Reed who is 5 and has leukemia. He likes to draw monsters and his family decided to try and raise money for the treatments by selling his artwork. It has been working!

With that spirit in mind, I wrote this song in hopes of raising more money for Aidan and his family to pay for his treatments. I have a 7 year old boy and I cannot imagine what they are going through. My heart goes out to them.

If you can, please purchase this song and help Aidan so that he will get to a speedy remission soon. If you can’t, simply spread the word about helping Aidan.

I hope you like your song Aidan.

The song is really nice. David has set the price to “pay what you want”. So what that means is, if you want to pay 0.50¢, $1.00, $2.00, or even $20.00, just enter the amount and download the song. 100% of the proceeds will be going to Aiden’s family to help pay for his medical bills.

I’ve embedded the track below. If you are viewing this in an RSS reader, you’ll need to visit the site in order to listen or you can click this handy dandy link.

Monster in My Room

There’s a monster in my room
He hangs out there at night
And eyes and teeth they glowing blue
He hangs on my wall with a screw

My Monster fights with me
against the cancer
inside my little body
My monster says:
Oh don’t you fear
My little friend
It will all be ok
Just lay your little head beside me
and I’ll hum this tune and pray

My Monster fights with me
against the cancer
inside my little body
and he says:
“Hey – I’m gonna getcha- I’m coming after you”
“I’ll get ya, track ya, bend and mix ya”
“put you on your back and pin ya”
“Cancer’s gonna lose”

All the monsters I draw
they’re all on my side
Like Indiana Jones
Treasure & adventure
If I could have my way
I’d take out my whip and slay
all of this disease and wipe
it all away
“I’ll get ya, track ya, bend and mix ya”
“put you on your back and pin ya”
“Cancer you’re gonna lose”

From www.macmufasa.com (share this quote)

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Christmas Spirit is Here!

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When I was a kid, the best holiday was Christmas. It meant presents, seeing cousins that lived in D.C., getting together with my family, but most of all, it meant Christmas music. Specifically it meant the Disney Christmas album, on vinyl being played on our hi-fi. Back then the speakers were taller than me! On Christmas Eve, after we had done the family thing with my dad’s family, we would go home, turn off all the lights, turn on the tree and my mom’s Christmas village, then I would get to put the record on the record player and start it. I thought I was hot stuff. :) Then mom, dad and I would sit on the couch, drinking hot chocolate and singing along to the record. My very favorite Christmas song has always been “Christmas Bells” which is the story of Snoopy and the Red Baron at Christmas. Snoopy’s WWII Flying Ace was always my favorite part of any Peanuts special so that song holds a special place in my heart. After we listened to music, we would watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and I would make my parents laugh by imitating the dances during the rehearsal scenes.

These days I’m not as crazy about Christmas as I used to be, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m an adult now, or what, but this year it had been especially hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit. But then, I heard “Christmas Bells” and now I’ve watched “White Christmas.” Christmas spirit, here I come.

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Top Cow Publisher Promoted to Retailer!

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Official Press Release

LOS ANGELES, Calif., December 13, 2010 – Top Cow Productions, Inc. is proud to announce that the company’s publisher Filip Sablik has been promoted to working retail at Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka, CA for his birthday, this Wednesday, December 15, 2010.

While most individuals are beginning their holiday vacation, Sablik will be playing double duty as he teams up with the popular Los Angeles-area retailer to work as a sales associate as well as act as Santa. The publisher will hand-sell this week’s Top Cow releases (Velocity #3 and Witchblade Annual 2010), ring up customers, offer recommendations and follow storeowner Edward Greenberg’s every order.

In addition, any guest of Collector’s Paradise who purchases a Top Cow product and/or being an unwrapped toy to be donated to Toys for Tots on Wednesday, December 15, from 11am to 4pm will receive a present from Sablik.

“Collector’s Paradise has consistently been one of Top Cow’s biggest supporters in the LA area and has a terrific Top Cow fan base,” said Sablik. “And it certainly doesn’t hurt that I’m friends with Ed and his staff and family! I’ve worked his counter once before and had a blast, so it seemed like a great way to spend my birthday with the fans and give back to a worthy charity at the same time.”

Collector’s Paradise is located at 7131 Winnetka Ave., Winnetka, CA 91306 and can be contacted by phone at (818) 999-9455.

Girl Posters of Power

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Reminds me of the pics of me in a tiara and roller skates… also me as Smee, looking sweet, many years later. The one, I’m probably 5 or 6? (Mom, help?) the other, I’m a sophomore in high school. So 14-ish.

Dr. Seuss Read-Aloud Competitor needs your vote!

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Hi nerd-readers! I recently entered the Dr. Seuss Read-Aloud Competition, and I would deeply appreciate if you could go to the contest site and give me many many good ratings! Here’s the “gallery”–my entry is on the third page.    ~Prof. Jenn

Abuse

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If the content that follows offends anyone, I apologize. I am just fired up over this book that is being sold on Amazon.

For those who haven’t seen yet, there is a book called “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure”. There is a big debate going on about it, in regards to the right to the freedom of speech.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse that ended when I was 9, this turns my stomach. I’m now 31 and I will be dealing with the after effects of my abuse for the rest of my life. Myself and many others got robbed of our childhoods because of sick people who get their sexual satisfaction from children, which are NOT sexual objects. This affects us life long, compromising our livelihoods, relationships and even lives (many just commit suicide unable to bear the pain and shame.) The author wants understanding and lighter sentences, or to tell others how to get away with it? If it were up to the survivors, you wouldn’t be allowed to live. Abusers should thank the legal system for saving their pathetic lives.

Amazon should remove this. It’s only going to bring pain and anger, nothing beneficial can come of this. Some “freedom of speech” isn’t deserved. If you forfeit your right to being a decent human being, you forfeit your rights such as freedom of speech…

Now some have said that if this is censored then other “unpleasant” things in people’s opinions should be censored, such as books regarding gay relationships and gay sexual acts. The difference is gay people have a choice about what actions they do or choose not do.

Children do not. If they aren’t outright forced and raped by pedophiles, many pedo’s enjoy the mind games. My abuser didn’t force me with a gun, but he was a cop and he always told me if I told anyone I’d be taken away from my mom and family. They were my world and I didn’t know any better, and I was taught to trust officers so… So I did things he told me to. I laid there when he did other things to me. Ill spare you details. I did this for a long time until I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 9. I still have to deal with the memories almost everyday and I’m now 31. Intimate situations make me nervous, almost involuntarily, I constantly feel afraid and anxious.

My lifelong torment that i try to deal with daily was all because he just had to take advantage of me, my innocence. Making me forever feel tainted, not normal, spoiled; stuck dealing with it and relationships suffering because I’m afraid.

His punishment? 30 yrs in jail (max penalty i believe) and a tag that he has to carry…

I’m sorry, I can’t be accepting enough of the freedom of speech for something like this. There is zero benefit for it except for other abusers.  It’s not a matter of censoring something that we think is bad. It’s censoring something that IS bad, and illegal, and censoring it will protect those who in this case cannot protect themselves.

I can understand people’s stances on freedom of speech, but there is a time when wrong is wrong, regardless of trying to follow things to the letter.

This is one of those times I don’t see how anything that this book offers benefits anyone of worth. The only people who SHOULD get upset at it’s censorship, are the people guilty of needing/enjoying it.

Thanks for letting me get this out, I am just so fired up. Sorry if its kinda jumbled, I’m just writing from my emotions. Also, if you know someone who has been abused, best advice I can tell you is just be there for them when they need you. We may not always know why we are upset, and if you ask us why, we cannot give you a definite reason, but just knowing someone cares helps us get through things one day at a time.

How to Train Your Nerdlin’

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My 6 ½ year old is a gamer, he has an older Xbox 360, a Wii a PS2 and a computer in his room. In addition to these he has a DSi and an iTouch. Why on earth does a 1st grader need all of this you ask? The answer is that I’m selfish and I got sick and tired of sharing video game time with him.

Yes we do some co-op playing and he really enjoys watching me play Mario Galaxy (1 and 2) but if we didn’t have the newer Xbox set up in the living room while he has the Wii (his system of choice) set up in his bedroom I would never get a chance to play my games and would be stuck either watching Lego Star Wars/Indian Jones or listening to him whine about wanting his turn.

Every parent has their own style and I don’t think that any ONE style is correct. I chose to let my child have a TV and video games in his room, you can call me a bad parent for this, I don’t really care. I know that his life is more than TV & video games, we read (books AND comics, he’s a mini geek what do you expect), play ball in the yard and ride his bike.

There is one thing that irks me though. I have always sworn my son would never be “that kid” (sorry if I offend any of you who’s child is “that kid”) you know the one, the kid who has his face shoved into a handheld game system everywhere he goes, the grocery store, family gatherings, walking from the street to the car, at the aquarium, zoo, etc. So far I have been fairly successful at setting the limits on this. If his DSi or iTouch leave the house he is limited to using them on longer car rides only, that if he gets stuck I don’t want to hear it because I’ll get car sick if I try and play while in the car. And he knows that if at any time, at home or on a car ride, someone speaks to him and he doesn’t reply because he is too engrossed in the game it will be taken away for some amount of time.

But then I stop and think; am I being a hypocrite? I CONSTANTLY have my iPhone in my face as I’m walking around, and I mean constantly. I’m on twitter, facebook, checking emails, playing Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies. Maybe I should start following my own rules before he wises up and points it out to me.

I really enjoy having a child with the same interests as I do. It’s so much fun having someone who is just as excited about a new Doctor Who episode as I am, or watching him experience the magic that is Star Wars for the first time. It’s GREAT having an excuse to buy those nerdy toys that I’ve convinced myself I’m “too old” to buy. But I’m NOT sharing my video game time, unless it’s my husband, and that is another story entirely.

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