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Comics Review: Batman Silver Age

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Comics Review: Batman Classics–the Silver Age Newspaper Comics vol.1 by Ellsworth, Moldoff, Infantino, et. al

Review by Prof. Jenn

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What a fun collection of vintage comics featuring everyone’s favorite dynamic duo! It’s a trip into the cheesy one-liner past of Batman’s late 1960s appearance in newspapers. This collection begins with a wonderfully detailed rundown of the history by Joe Desris, and is enlightening to read just before plunging into the series of snippet-length strips.

These are not old comic books, they are comic strips from newspapers 1966-67, so they are all brief, cheesy, sketchy, mid-low quality art, with a little joke or a PSA at the beginning of each (“Never fight with a smiling fortune-teller.” “Unless you want to strike a happy medium!”). We meet several of our favorite villains, with some I’ve not heard of before. And yes, there is some material here not appropriate for a modern audience, in the realm of sexism, and racism especially. Any of you Batman nerds remember The Laughing Girl? Ugh…

For all its vintage kitsch, this volume is a pleasure to read, and certainly anyone who collects Batman should have this in their library, even if they prefer the dark Nolan variety of the Caped Crusader. It’s a funny, refreshing collection that is a nice reminder of where Batman was before his gritty reboot.

Bottom Line: This collection is highly recommended, old chum.

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Book Review: The Iron Jackal

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Book Review: The Iron Jackal–a Tale of the Ketty Jay by Chris Wooding

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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The Iron Jackal is a steampunky, Firefly-esque romp though the fantasy lands of Vardia and Samarla, lands full of warring factions, slavery and rebellion, corrupt officials and those that fly outside the law. Our protagonist, Captain Frey, is one of the latter. Actually, I’m not really sure he is our protagonist exactly but I’ll get to that later. When Captain Frey carelessly handles a rare relic he and his crew, er, acquired for a client of his ex, things go pretty gosh darned amuck and the whole crew of the Ketty Jay plus one have to scramble to make things right.

There is action aplenty in this book–in fact, the opening scene is a barroom shootout and subsequent chase–and our lead is just as wry a leader and barely better than the bad guys as a Captain Mal or an Indiana Jones. The action is similar to these favorites too: heart-pounding chases, tense scenes of theft and skullduggery, and a colorful band of miscreant minor characters. This is where I ran into this book’s only real flaw that I can find: there are many characters with already-established back stories and relationships, and this book being a sequel, sometimes I got my characters confused or didn’t quite get what was going on in the detail I needed.

 

Also, the POV shifts often, which added to my confused spots–I often got confused who I was supposed to “be” in some situations. But what is well done about the characters is a sense of genuine emotion. Frey’s feelings for his ex, Crake’s complex emotional world surrounding his golem, and the many examples of true loyalty make all the characters round and complex, a good thing since this steampunk world tilted on the edge of Lieber-esque urban fantasy needs that human quality to ground it.

Bottom Line: I recommend The Iron Jackal, especially for those already familiar with the other Tales of the Ketty Jay.

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Comic Review: 24-Underground #3

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Previously on 24… Jack has been trying to help protect his girlfriend’s family from the Russian mobsters who are after them. Things got tense though when said mobsters came knocking on the door. Will Jack be able to save them? Let’s find out…

We’re now on issue #3 of our adventure with Jack in Ukraine, and things are really starting to heat up. The Russian mob is after him and his girlfriend Sofiya’s brother (Petro). In the last issue Jack was able to save Petro’s family, but in this issue we see that Sofiya has been kidnapped by the mobsters, and they are now looking for an exchange: Sofiya’s life for Jack. Now Jack has to find a way to save her.

SUPER SPOILER TIME! STOP READING IF YOU WANT TO STAY SURPRISED.

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Everything seems pretty straightforward up until this point. Jack needs to save his girlfriend, plus the CIA is still after him (but finally starting to wonder if there’s more going on than they realize). The big twists come at the end. One is that while Jack is gearing up to meet the Russians, his girlfriend manages to escape in a scene I imagine would have been pretty badass in the tv series. So Jack is walking into what is probably a trap right now, and doesn’t even have to. Hopefully Sofiya can contact him before it’s too late. Oh, and he also has to watch out for the CIA because Petro’s kid has just called in with information on his whereabouts. Pretty much Jack is in all kinds of trouble, but it’s not like that is anything new. Will he be able to handle the Russian mob and the CIA without getting caught (or worse)? We’ll have to wait to find out. Personally I hope the CIA shows up at Jack’s meet-up with the mob and ultimately ends up helping him escape by accident. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know how right or wrong I was as we continue this adventure with our hero: Jack Bauer.

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Comic Review: Thomas Alsop #1

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Limited run comic Thomas Alsop has a reluctant hero, a dose of supernatural mystery, and an integration of the profound into our world. With an intriguing premise, I look forward to seeing where they carry this plot, though I’m hoping for some of the rough edges of the storytelling to be ironed out in subsequent issues.

Set mainly in 2011, New York City, we’re introduced to Supernatural Detective, The Hand of the Island, Thomas Alsop. He’s been given the title and the role through a family curse, passed down from generation to generation ever since ancestor Richard Alsop got cursed by the Mespeatches Indians back in 1699. Manhattan, the island itself, speaks to Thomas and gives him psychic nudges of when there are disturbances about. However, it remains unclear as to how much the “regular world” knows of the role or the existence of the supernatural in our world.

Thomas came to notoriety back in 2009, when his friend Marcus Robert tagged along on one of his missions and recorded it for posting on YouTube. As a result, the video got millions of views, Marcus became his producer, and Thomas got instant fame. He lives up to the rock star kind of life, with drunken binges, naked proclamations in his apartment, and frequent appearances on late night talk shows. Did the world know about the supernatural aspects before the video? It’s never explicitly stated, though Marcus seemed to be in the know. And no one’s claiming Thomas is off his head when he talks about his missions, so perhaps it’s a given? It would have been nice to have that clarification, though.

It would also have been nice to cut back on the dreams and flashbacks and switched points of view. When Thomas goes to sleep watching his television appearance, he dreams of his ancestor. That’s understandable, but then we completely change POVs and suddenly it’s Richard’s story for multiple pages. We even get a flashback inside the flashback, which is just sloppy writing. While I understand that we, the readers, needed to know about the 1702 incident and the ship, since it’s been recovered again in 2011, the integration of this could have been better.

Despite the problematic writing in spots, I don’t think this deters anyone from the series. I certainly want to know more about reluctant hero Thomas Alsop and what his family destiny really means. Here’s hoping the ride will be worth it.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

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In Which I Squee About The New Korra A Lot

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First off, I’m going under the assumption that everyone was glued to their TVs from 7-8:30pm last night and won’t mind a few specific details (otherwise known as spoilers). Second, I’m way too excited about the concept for this new season to hold back. Consider this your warning… If you didn’t watch then 1) I don’t get it. I know your office let you out early on Friday and no one goes to the bar that early, 2) you’re about to get spoiled on pretty much everything so you might want to stop and either watch it on your DVR or online. I even provided you with a link, so there are NO EXCUSES. Go watch it. Right now. Cause it was really good.

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*Ahem* Now that we all know where we stand on things, let’s begin the actual rambling about the awesome things. First off, I loved Bumi’s excitement at realizing he could airbend and how the only way he could prove it to his family was one of the precocious little children throwing a plate at his head. I don’t know if he was the only one to believe his uncle or just being a mischievous little devil (more likely the second option), but it was funny either way, and a great start in what would prove to be a tense time in Avatar Korra’s life.

As the story unfolds, it is obvious there will be two main storylines for the season. One is that Korra and the group are out searching for all the new airbenders. Obviously there have to be obstacles, one of which will be how surprisingly difficult it is for them to convince people to follow the group back to the air temple. The other obstacle seemingly will be the other storyline for the season: the four prisoners whom we watch escape their respective personal prisons. (Side note: it was great seeing Zuko again, and his dialogue with the twins about their respective attempts to kill the Avatar back in the days when they were enemies. Yay referencing the past!)

We don’t know much about these prisoners except they seemed to once be part of a gang together. My guess is that at some point they will come after the Avatar and she will have to fight them with a hopefully semi-well-trained airbending army. So far all they have is one recruit, and he doesn’t seem to be the most trustworthy sort (although I’m hoping that changes over time and he really does become part of the family like they mentioned when first meeting him). Anything else is just speculation, but I’m sure all will be revealed as we continue on the journey.

PS – I know there were a lot of moments I could’ve talked about but honestly there was not a single minute of the 1.5 hours which aired last night that I didn’t love. That is rare for any show, but especially cartoons these days. I’m genuinely grateful this show exists and that kids have some good quality television to grow with and obsess over. So here’s to Korra – the one show that sometimes makes me wish I was 5 again.

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Ask the Nerds: How Can I Let A Guy Know I’m Interested

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Welcome to the first post in a new series of nerdy of advice columns. If you have a burning question please
email us
 and we will do our best to answer it for you!

 

I’m a pretty take-charge kind of nerd, and even though I love to lead, it would be nice to be pursued once in a while. How can I let a guy know I’m interested without being the actual asker-on-dater?

 

Dearest Nerd Friend,

As a fellow take-charge sort of nerd, I feel your pain. It seems that a lot of times when you’re a take-charge kind of person, people tend to make the incorrect assumption that you want control over everything and/or will blatantly go for everything you want because you’re driven. This can wreak total havoc when you want a guy to pursue you, and might or might not make you want to bludgeon said guy over the head with something and drag him back to your cave because, seriously, how dense can he be?

I’m sure a magazine would tell you to cool down your take-charge mentality and play coy or something, but I think that what you really need to do is ensure that you stay true to yourself, but still manage to be approachable. Men are like delicate little kittens when faced with a strong, take-the-lead girl, and should be approached as such (make no sudden movements, use gentle tones, and possibly utilize a laser light to draw them to you).

No one wants to pursue someone and be rejected. Rejection sucks. Consequently, people like to know that there is a possibility that the person that they are pursuing likes them back. It’s important to show this fellow on some level that you’re not entirely opposed to being something more than friends. I would say that flirting is huge (granted, my form of flirting involves death threats and a lot of glaring, but I digress). Flirting is a language all its own and can be used to successfully show this guy that you’re interested in him in a more-than-friend way.

Make fun of him, joke with him, beat him at video games. You don’t need to pull a Black Widow to show a man that you’re interested in him. Just show him that his presence in your life isn’t entirely an inconvenience, and make him feel special. Take an interest in what he does. Smile at him. These are all little things that show that, if nothing else, you’re considering him and he can approach you. I would also suggest touching (no not that kind). Unnecessary touching is a pretty strong indicator of interest in another person. It doesn’t have to be anything intense. Touch his arm, jokingly push him, sit close to him. These kinds of things will make you more approachable, and assuming his brain hasn’t been turned to mush by some sort of alien parasite, he should take the hint and make the jump.

If this doesn’t work, I suggest using subliminal messaging techniques while he sleeps.

Best of luck. :)Daliya Risik

 


 

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 Anonymous,

In my experience, if you’re into a guy, and most especially a nice guy, they’re usually waaaay too nice and shy about asking someone out. Particularly nowadays, when they’re scared of coming off as pushy jerks. Or if you can come off as intimidating.

I would never tell you to not be your awesome, confident self, of course, because I would never ever ever suggest to change so a dude likes you. But if you really like him and want him to ask you out, you are definitely gonna have to let him know that you’re interested. You don’t need to go all creepy and stalk him. You can just be your charming self and flirt. A lot. People can’t read minds, and they usually have way too much other stuff to think about to guess that you might like them just a little bit.

Plus, flirting is the most fun! It’s the best way to let a guy know that you’re interested, and if he’s not thinking of you in a romantic way, it’s certainly the only way for a guy to see you in a way he hasn’t before. Be clever by giving him crap in a playful way, but also be sweet and make sure to let him know you think he’s cool and a stand up guy. And it’s totally fine to flat out tell him you’re into him and he should ask you out. The worst that can happen is he’s already dating someone else, or he’s crazy and just not interested. Then you can stop wasting your time and move on to the next one.

And don’t stress too much about it. If you keep things fun and don’t focus too much on it having to be just one particular person, you’ll eventually meet that awesome, nerdy, confident guy who deserves your wonderful self.

And remember, as the wise Jenny Slate once said, who can never be sure?

Hugs and tacos,
Dorina

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Interview: Justin Giddings and Ryan Welsh of OUTPOST (an Epic Sci-Fi Adventure).

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Hey, Guys!

This week I was given the opportunity to gather some intel from Justin Giddings and Ryan Welsh, the co-writers and co-directors of OUTPOST, a new Sci-Fi film that is in the process of being made right at this very moment (literally, as you’re reading this). These fellows have promised space, love, and — get this – an outpost! Going with the futuristic trend, Justin and Ryan are taking the very modern approach to producing their film by raising the funds through a crowd-funding project set up on IndieGoGo, where they managed to raise ten-thousand dollars in a mere three days. I believe that is internet for “a lot of people believe in these dream and you should, too.”

In fact, to encourage you to donate, these guys have come up with some seriously fancy perks ranging from DVDs, top-secret internet parties, to a coffee and pie date (with both of them, I might add). Really, even if you don’t like Sci-Fi movies, you should donate just to get one of their ridiculously awesome perks.

For more details on OUTPOST and the fundraiser, or to donate: click here.

 

Now, here’s what these charming lads had to say about their super interesting film-in-progress:

 

1) If we could, I would like to start with any details that you would like to share with our audience, and an elaboration on the source of all of the passion that you guys are feeling for this project. Is this just a love of SciFi in general, or is this project in particular special to you?

Great question, Daliya! It’s a combination of both, we’d say. For us, science fiction provides a way to step back from anything we currently know and allow our imaginations to set the scene for our characters. It allows us to make our own playground where we can have as many swings and slides as we want. Even the very laws of physics as we currently understand them are able to be set aside in order to tell a story about the human condition. So sci-fi itself definitely gets the creativity pumping, and that’s awesome.
But the passion runs deeper for a few reasons. First off, we’re really passionate about the story. When we set out to write this, we were determined to try to write a story that wasn’t based on a cool concept or the VFX, but was built around the intensity of the characters. Gordon and ARIA have such a deep love for each other, but it seems destined to fail and so they desperately try to ignore it – until something dangerous and otherworldly threatens them and they’re forced to face their fears. (Plus, the end is killer. I mean, we literally get misty-eyed when we read through it and we WROTE the darn thing.)
Another reason for the passion is very practical; despite having successful careers as actors, it’s a job where 10 people have to say yes before you get to work as a creative artist. Making our own work gives us creative control and to work on such a scale is such a blessing. Add to that being supported by our friends and family and it feels like we are not alone but part of an artistic movement together as we strive to share our creative voice and vision.
2) Your idea seems very unique and I’m not really mentally connecting it to anything else (maybe Mass Effect, but that’s a stretch), and I noticed that you two mentioned a lot of other SciFi films in your indiegogo video, so I was wondering if you had any specific film or book inspirations for this film’s story?
While the idea came to us pretty well-formed, films like Moon and The Abyss were a huge part of the stylistic inspiration. The idea of isolation, loneliness, and the danger being off-screen spoke to us because then the story remains a human story. Even with our “Beings” as we’re calling them, the focus has been on what they represent rather than their look or design. At one point, we had a pretty elaborate fight scene, but we soon realized there’s no way we could afford it and, when forced to consider a different path, we eventually landed on something we like more because the conflict doesn’t become about fighting off a big bad alien, but the threat they represent to Citizen Gordon and ARIA’s relationship. Moon is a movie set on the Moon, but it’s not about the moon. The Abyss is a constant looming threat/curiosity, but we watch the people dealing with it, not a bunch of CGI sequences. Another film we love is Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. That movie has beautiful imagery with a planet-ending threat looming over them, but the story is really about whether or not the crew will be able to stick together long enough to save humanity.
3) It seems that the relationship in this story is one of the main focal points. Should the audience expect a typical style of romance, or do you guys feel like you might be creating a new, original romantic image for your audience?
We don’t know that we’re creating a wholly new type of love story, just taking a slightly different perspective. Love is a courageous thing to do, especially when it’s not in a conventional way, or in a socially acceptable way – that’s something we wanted to explore with both these characters. The idea of a boy and his robot is a standard sci-fi trope, but it’s always felt like the differences were highlighted. We want to highlight the similarities. We’re also touching on a deeper question of what it means to be alive – the character of ARIA has only recently become fully sentient so her journey is particularly unique.
4) As stated in your video, you have a lot of big names working on your project. What brought your team together? 
Passion. From day one we have been passionate about this project and so we’ve attracted other passionate people who turn around and constantly inspire and surprise us. For example, in picking our cinematographer Idan Menin, we have a perfect story to illustrate what we’re talking about. Idan had found our project early on and had begun messaging us early in the process expressing his interest. We liked his reel, but we were months away from any sort of application process. As we got closer to the Indiegogo campaign, we knew we wanted an actual DP to shoot our pitch video, so I reached out to him with the script and a request for help. We set a date for a coffee meeting and when we show up to casually chat about an Indiegogo movie, he pulls out a digital look book and begins to paint an incredible vision of the film as he saw it. He was right on with the images in our heads and incredibly enthusiastic, so when we left, I (Justin) called Ryan and said, “Can we just hire him?” And we did!
5) Previously you said that it takes a good amount of people to get something like this off the ground and running. Do you feel like your entire team shares the same vision, or are you all bringing a collection of different ideas and perspectives together?
It’s shared. If we could magically wave a wand and create the exact movie we have in our heads, it would never be as good as a movie born of the creative collaboration of many talented artists. Every department head and the crew they bring with them are carefully chosen because we know they will have a signature on this film, too. If we had to brag, it would probably be that we are good at finding good people.
6) You said that you want to primarily focus on humanity and human emotions in a new setting. What, in your words, would you like the audience to take away from your film?
We’d love for our audience to leave really contemplating on Gordon’s dilemma – to fight for all of mankind, a mankind that is recognizably flawed and distant, or to fight for the singular thing that makes him a man – love of an individual. Moreover, it’s an individual he’s not supposed to love! Also, there’s some big Easter eggs in the short that hint at a much more complicated and layered story we hope to present in the feature and we’d love those questions to be burning in the audience as well.
7) You guys managed to get a great deal of funding in a short amount of time, which seems to show that plenty of people believe in this production. How does that make you guys feel? Did you expect a turnout like that?
The turnout so far has been incredibly encouraging. Despite months of preparation getting to our launch date, you never really know how the public is going to respond so it’s incredibly humbling to see people responding the way they are. We have a quote that has been our mantra of sorts: be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. We know that $60,000 is a lot to raise, but we also know that passion is contagious. So much of what we see in the entertainment industry now is about the bottom line and I think people long for stories that are about more than that. We are boldly placing our film in the hands of the audience instead of the studios and trusting that they will carry us through. When they do, our obligation is then to entertain and inspire THEM instead of meet a bottom line.
8) Individually, what was the first SciFi film, show, or book that really started your passion for this genre?
Justin: This one is easy: Ender’s Game. I remember being a kid and reading that book and being in awe of the deftness with which that story was told. It manages to achieve exactly what I want to achieve in storytelling. The story of Ender’s Game isn’t about space or aliens or cool technology – it’s about Ender. How does a boy become a man? How do you deal with pressure when you simply have to and there’s no escaping it? What is it like for people to depend on you but they keep you isolated? See, these are all very human and universal problems. It just so happens to be set in space from the perspective of a young boy. In terms of film, Star Wars. I got started in acting doing voice overs as a kid and I would get these checks that no 11 year old should be receiving and I would go blow it all buying Star Wars toys and card games that I would leave in their packages so they would grow in value. I’m a nut.
Ryan: There have been many films over the years that have deeply impacted me and shaped my perception of the genre (The Abyss, Alien, Event Horizon, to name a few) but I think it was watching anime on Saturday mornings as a kid. The Sci-Fi Channel used to air an anime film everySaturday morning at 11AM - I was consistently awed by the worlds created in those films, whether sci-fi or fantasy. Those films did more to inspire imagination and creativity in me than probably anything else to date. Funny thing is, I hardly ever watched anime s I got older, but it created a foundation of appreciation for Science Fiction.
9) Obviously crowd-funding is a unique approach for film-making. Do you feel like you can produce something more specific to your image since you are in complete control of the production?
There are certainly pros and cons to the process. As you mentioned, creative control is a HUGE plus, but there is also a lot of uncertainty in the process that can be challenging. Even with Outpost, there are a number of things as it relates to producing the film that we simply cannot move forward on until we know what our working budget is – so that can be a challenge, the unknown as it were.  Honestly though, we think it’s a big win for everybody in the end; there just isn’t another way of making films right now that involves and connects you to your audience like crowd funding.
10) Given that you are in complete control of the production, do you guys feel that you might be able to make a SciFi film that caters more to the average person by bypassing the demands and limitations placed upon major film productions?
Yes – kind of. Ha! We had an investor who had seen our first film and offered to bank roll our second film. He eventually needed to step out for personal reasons, but during the process it was very educational to see that the moment you bring in a money person, certain expectations have to be met. With that element gone, we are able to be true to our vision. We want to tell a story that means something to us – we can only hope that if we tell it true, in a voice that’s true, that it will mean something to our audience. It is true that it allows us to tell the story without worrying about whether we’re blowing up enough stuff or how long since we’ve had a spot of nudity or a sex scene. Good news is, we still blow up some stuff in Outpost so I think it’ll satisfy that taste, too!
11) What are you guys the most excited about for this film?
Blowing stuff up, haha! We’re kidding, of course! What excites us beyond the story aspect is the scope and style of the film that we’re going to be able to achieve on a very small budget. We think people will look at this and be blown away by the visuals and style and be even more blown away when we tell them we got away with it for $60k. We’re so excited about how this film is going to look, we’ve started story boarding and working with our DP and VFX Supervisor and believe this film is going to be stunning. The best part is that it’s still in service of the heart of the film, the story of Gordon and Aria. And blowing stuff up…:)
12) If you could say one thing to a potential viewer to convince them to see your film, what would you say?
Outpost will satisfy on every level, it will stay with you. Plus, it’s frickin’ badass! Space! Love! Robots! Aliens! Explosions! A little something for everyone.
13) What do you want everyone to know about this film?
We can’t make it without you, the reader! When you help us out with a donation or a social media share, you are, in a very real way, becoming a part of this process. That’s not lip-service, that’s a simple statement of fact. So, when you sit back and watch this film, on some level you’ll know it’s there because you willed it so! You can point at a 60 foot screen, turn to your friend and say, “I made that.”
14) Give us your favorite nerdy saying or quote.
Ryan: ["You cannot pass," he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.”] Seriously, one of the most badass things ever said.
Justin: I’ve got two choices: “Do or do not, there is no try.” and my second one is similar to Ryan’s: “Sir Ian Sir Ian Sir Ian ACTION Wizard You shall not pass CUT Sir Ian Sir Ian Sir Ian.

Aaaand, that’s a wrap.

If you’re not sold on Ryan and Justin’s new film by this point, you might actually have the heart of a Death Eater.
Assuming you’re not pure evil with a side of too-much-hair-product, you can donate and learn more about this project here.
Thanks again to Justin and Ryan for this wonderful interview. I hope you achieve your own version of cinematic perfection!
Daliya Risik
@TasteTheChaos
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Comics Review: Rocky & Bullwinkle Classics

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Comics Review: Rocky and Bullwinkle Classics vol. 1 by Al Kilgore

Review by: Prof. Jenn

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This first volume of Rocky and Bullwinkle comics is a compilation of comics from 1962-1963, and are the same fast-paced, vaudevillian satire replete with puns that we all remember from the TV show. All four story worlds from the show can be found there: the eternal struggle between Rocky and Bullwinkle and Boris and Natasha, Dudley Do-Right the unflappable mountie, Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman the time-travellers, and Fractured Fairy Tales.

This is a delightful, highly entertaining collection: the stories are just as silly and back-and-forth and laden with wit as the TV show, the art is blocky and colorful and looks lifted straight from the show, and the dialogue is such that it’s impossible not to hear the voice actors as one reads. Which only makes sense, as these were created during around the same time as the show, by one of its creators. A fun addition to each issue is a faux gossip/news column at the end, sort of a goofy take on fun facts and news of the day: a pre-Soup interlude.

With the more recent reboots of this wonderful franchise, it’s refreshing to get the real thing instead, not made PC or nicer, but sharp, silly and brash as it was. Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly?) the humor remains timely, and while the collection is appropriate for children, it isn’t in any way dumbed down–it’s as highly entertaining as the TV show.

Bottom Line: Rocky & Bullwinkle Classics is highly recommended. I want a volume 2!

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Comic Review: Lumberjanes #1-3

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Lumberjanes Issue #2 CoverWhen I first heard about Lumberjanes, I was sure all of my comics dreams had come true. A completely female-centric story about five girls at a summer camp, solving mysteries with a Scooby-Doo-esque dynamic; is there anything not to love? I was already a huge Noelle Stevenson fan (she is one of the writers, working with Grace Ellis). I had a nagging doubt that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, so I waited for the first three issues to come out before making up my mind.

In general? Lumerjanes is awesome! The first issue brings the reader into the dark woods, immediately before an epic battle against three-eyed foxes. We are introduced to the girls in action–Jo, the tall leader-type; April, her sidekick and Diary scribe; Molly, the sweet-tempered one; Mal, the worry-wart; and Ripley, the ball of energy.

Brooke Allen’s art style is fun and expressive, and the colors by Maarta Laiho are lush, perfectly creating the summer camp atmosphere. Their camp sign reads “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiquil Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” with “Friendship to the Max!” tacked onto the bottom. The story strikes a nice balance between goofy light-heartedness and dizzying action. There are some hilarious gems in the writing, like the names of the scout badges–the Pungeon Master and Everything Under the Sum badges are my personal favorites. (Another fun detail: the back cover of each issue features all of the badges that have been mentioned thus far, so the readers can feel like they’re the ones earning them).

Gradually we become accustomed to the dynamic between the girls. Molly and Mal are an item, and they are adorable, their scenes having just the right amount of bashful shyness. Jo and April are close friends, and Ripley is the hyperactive comic relief character. I do hope that her character is developed more–for the moment she reminds me a bit too much of Donnie from the Wild Thornberries.

My one critique of Lumberjanes might also be considered one of its greatest strengths. This is a fast-paced, action-packed, non-stop story. Part of me wants the action to slow down and give the characters time to breathe. [A few spoilers ahead] In one scene in the third issue, Molly causes the team to get into a few scrapes involving booby traps and feels like she is letting the team down (apparently forgetting she had saved her girlfriend a few hours before). It is a lovely, honest moment that is immediately resolved on the next page, when she rises to the occasion and helps the girls out of their current jam. The scene was well executed, but I think there may have been more power in it had she dwelled longer in self-doubt.

It is a critique I am almost reluctant to give because it is such a unique problem. This comic is about five girls and is almost pure action. Five girls! Pure action! How often can that ever be said in the current comics world? Lumberjanes is filling a void and doing it with aplomb. There is nothing out there like it, and I have a feeling that now that it has been become an ongoing series, the pacing issues will resolve themselves.

If you haven’t checked out Lumberjanes yet, then I just have to steal a line from my favorite gang of camp-goers and say to you, “What the junk!”

 

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Carrying on in “Real Life” When Your Fandom World is in Pieces.

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Every fandom member has had this happen. Suddenly you’ve run out of words on the last page, or the screen goes black and the credits begin to roll. He’s dead. Or maybe that other character that you finally learned to like was just kidnapped by that really bad person. Heck, maybe Billy just fell down the well again. It doesn’t matter. As you realize that there is no more fandom input for your desperate brain to consume for at least another year, your insides feel like they’ve been hollowed out, your gaze is devoid of anything even remotely resembling humanity, and eight hours later you find yourself crawling out from under the covers with less finesse than a one-legged zombie. Your life feels like it’s over. You can’t possibly wait to know what happens next. Your characters are in peril now. Driving to work, you imagine a thousand different conclusions to the ruthless cliffhanger that the fandom writers left you with. Your heart is twisting in your chest, your brain has turned to mush as it tries to find logical conclusions for the lives of those in your fictional universe, and then you make it to work or school and everyone is walking around like nothing even happened. This post will tell you how to react to the real world after something catastrophic has happened in your fandom.

 

STEP ONE: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE

So, you’ve made it to the desk. That’s good. You can’t be certain that it’s your desk because your eyes are probably filled with a solid liter of unshed tears, or maybe you’ve just put your basic navigation skills on pause because your brain needs to devote the entirety of its intellectual capacity to determining every possible outcome for your beloved characters (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, anyone?), but that doesn’t really matter right now. You managed to make it to the right building (hopefully), and now you’re sitting at a desk looking like you know what you’re doing. This is key. People like to trust in what they see. If they see you sitting at a desk, they will think, “oh, they are working.” If they see you sitting at a desk with blank, soulless eyes, they will think, “oh, they are working hard.” Just keep this up. Replay every scene from the previous night over and over again in your mind, like a poorly pirated DVD titled “I’ll never be happy again.”

 

Note: Looking as if all of your hopes and dreams have been smashed to pieces is another successful approach. In fact, this might even get you invited out by the people who don’t know you well enough to know that “out” for you is actually a stealth mission involving pajamas and a late-night emergency pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

 

STEP TWO: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING

It’s been about an hour now, and while you have mentally visited every detail of the episode multiple times, you haven’t actually moved. People are starting to stare. Then again, maybe you’re just being paranoid. Even if last night’s show ending did feel a bit like a personal attack against you by the writers. Either way, you’ve got to do something and make it look productive. Your best bet is to start typing away on the computer. No one ever questions the work ethic of someone in a typing frenzy. The important part is consistency. The more you type, the harder you’ll appear to be working. The hardest part is that you’ll have to move despite the fact that you feel more fragile than one of those burnt sheep left behind by one of Dany’s dragons. The good news is that moving is really all that you have to do to look productive. So, start typing. You can type anything. Why not write out every last detail that you can remember from the beginning of the series until now and begin rating them on the likelihood that they’ll help you figure out what the writers are going to do with your characters before they even write the rest of it? Better yet, why not write a letter riddled with vitriol to those evil, soul-eating writers detailing everything that they’ve ever done to bring misery to your life? You’ve got almost seven hours of work left. You could get in at least twenty pages by then, right? Besides, it’s not like your boss ever actually asks for a finished product on whatever day it is.

 

STEP THREE: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BOSS ASKS FOR A FINISHED PRODUCT

So, your boss walks up and asks if you’ve completed that really important sample-paper-product-thingy that he asked you to finish the day before. You know, before it happened. Your first thought is that you can’t believe how insensitive he is. And, you’re right. He clearly doesn’t care that you were up all night clutching a pillow and pleading with an empty room to just spare this one character. This is the moment where you need to realize that a complete lack of empathy is actually a prerequisite for most management positions, and act accordingly. It’s time to soothe the human-hating beast so you can avoid anyone realizing that you’ve been rendered incapable of carrying out work tasks by what the non-believers call “fiction.” The safest approach is to make it seem like you’re horribly afraid of letting them down. Using phrases like “I just want this to be perfect for you” or “I want to make sure that it’s up to your standards” will calm the dreaded management figure by making them feel important and like they deserve the best. This will buy you more time to come to terms with the trauma that you’ve suffered. It might also get you a raise.

 

STEP FOUR: COMMUNICATING WITH HUMANS THAT ARE NOT IN A CURRENT STATE OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

Some irrelevant, non-character figure walks up and says some sort of greeting in a language that is distinctly not I-couldn’t-sleep-last-night-because-feels. It’s probably english. But, like, the kind that isn’t tainted with misery and sorrow. So, what do you do? First, go for the nod. A casual, I’m-not-falling-apart nod. Then, redirect the conversation immediately by asking them some random question that has to do with their thoughts or life. After they begin droning on about their kids or hobbies like the selfish, non-fandom members that they are, occasionally nod and murmur “uh huh” until they finish their coffee and walk away. Following this, promptly give yourself five solid minutes of mourning time dedicated to your characters. It’s important for them to feel your support right now. You just have to make it through this one little day, and you can get back to them. It’s one day of work. You’ve had many of them. You can do it. It’ll be easy, right? You won’t give up. You’re a survivor.

 

STEP FIVE: GIVING UP ON REAL LIFE BECAUSE YOUR FANDOM NEEDS YOU

You’ve made it to lunch, but the pain won’t stop. And, really, how could it? As the fog of shock fades and the reality of what happened begins to set in, you’re actually feeling worse. Pretending that you’re a member of the real world just isn’t working. Your characters are hurting. You’re hurting. You need to go home and binge-watch every episode ever made to remind yourself of happier times. Immediately. The timing is right. You just need to carry that tuna fish and jelly sandwich (don’t judge yourself for the error in food preparation, you were still in shock then) to the bathroom, produce your best imitation of a wounded, middle-aged man that’s been forced to watch reality TV all day, and throw it in. For added effect, rub some water on your face and walk out letting every inch of your fandom pain show. The non-believers will misinterpret this as food poisoning. Once this happens, mumble something about needing to go home, and then make your exit. The second you pass through the office doors, run home. Run like you have red hair and the king just died, very publicly, from poisoning. There is nothing else right now. There is only fandom. You can feel guilty about it later.

 

 

Daliya Risik

@TasteTheChaos

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