Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Nicole and Judy

Two very special Leaguers have their birthdays this weekend. Happy, happy birthday to both Nicole and Judy (Jamie's mom).

The only cake we felt was appropriate for a Nicole birthday

And here's a picture of the Helen Corbitt cake Jamie made for Judy

Friday, July 25, 2008

Bully, the little stuffed bull, is at ComicCon. He's doing a phenomenal job covering the Con from the floor.

Here's the first post, and here's the second.

Batman: Brave and the Bold Trailer

Oh my Awesome.

New kid-friendly Batman cartoon coming this fall. Batman: Brave and the Bold

And did you see the guest stars? Plastic Man? Green Arrow? BLUE BEETLE!!!?

I know there will be many more guests, as I've heard Aquaman will be on the show. I think the idea is the same as the 70's-era "Brave and the Bold" comics. Batman + guest star, rotating almost every week.

I am quite psyched for the kids (and me). This looks like so much fun, and the design work on this clip is really spectacular.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Coffee with JenIn

Facebook is funny. Not only have I recently got back in touch with Mere, but I'm also now back in touch with a former KOHSer, JenIn. I haven't seen much of Jen since her Freshman year at UT (she's a year behind me), but as I understand it, she's got all kinds of book learnin' under her belt these days and is still in Austin.

Anyhoo, I'm grabbing coffee with her tomorrow, if anyone wants me to pass along a message.

ComicCon is On

Comic Con International has started in San Diego, and once again, I am not there.

That's okay, though, because you can usually get all the Con news I'd care about within 8 hours or so on the interwebs.

There was some good information on what us Superman comic fans can expect.

And Johns and Van Sciver on Flash. (That Flash image alone gives me hope)

Johns and Morrison are saving the DC line of comics, in spite of itself. Apparently the reception for Trinity (Busiek) and Final Crisis (Morrison) is pretty mediocre, according to reporting on the DC Nation Panel. Honestly, I've loved my Final Crisis reading, so I'm not sure what the deal is there. Trinity... may not be my cup of tea. Which is weird, because I do like Busiek's stuff, and it stars Bats, Superman and Wonder Woman.

I'm also increasingly excited about the reporting and images for DCU Online. Holy smokes, does this look like fun. (And, Hey Sony Online Entertainment! I'm available!)

They also had this to say about character design:

When asked about the creation of customizable characters, Chris Cao explained that there would be two different ways to generate an avatar for the game: a “free form method” that is completely customizable and an “inspired method” that allows for theme based concepts to be employed which allow a player to be “like Batman if they want to be.”


Hello, Dolly!

It rained like crazy here today. And by crazy, I mean in brief, violent spurts on and off throughout the afternoon and evening. We need the rain. That's good. Unfortunately I think it messed up the travel today for Jamie (coming back from San Marcos), KareBear (coming back from New Braunfels), and The Admiral (flying back in from Brazil). I think Jamie was stuck on a 2 mile stretch of road for about an hour and a half today. Apparently a bus drove into a semi and spilled oil all over I-35.

But its also been so @#$%ing hot and dry here this summer, we needed every drop of the deluge. Austin gets its water from the Edwards Aquifer, which sits under the town. If it doesn't rain in Austin, we don't have water. When I lived in Phoenix, the city was living under a sort of mass denial in regards to their water sources and would become agitated if you pointed out: (a) we're using more water here than is probably smart in the desert, and (b) we're sort of wasteful with the water here in Phoenix, what with things like that cannon fountain in Fountain Hills, and the blue-dyed ponds in all the posher neighborhoods (seriously, gross).

Anyone whose lived in Central Texas for a while is pretty aware of the water issue. Sometimes you let your lawn die, because you'd rather take showers and have drinking water. And we tend to get our dander up when developers try to pave over the recharge zones or run-off areas. It isn't some crazy environmental issue, so don't get your political dander up. This is pretty straightforward stuff. If we want to have drinking water, we have to be careful with our natural spaces and consumption. And we have to be a little happy when the rain comes down.

Smash Comics!

A little while ago I did a post over at Comic Fodder on how today's comics might relate to kids.

One of the things that I mentioned was that I thought was that kids might not have spinner racks at drug stores, but they do have internet connections. A little while after I posted the column, I was contacted by the team at They're doing an all ages comic, and, seriously, this looks like a lot of fun. Maybe in the spirit of "HeroBear and the Kid", with a pretty sharp injection of Calvin & Hobbes' "Stupendous Man".

There's not a ton of content up yet, but from what I see, I absolutely love the art style. It's a great mix of cartooning and superhero-style artistry. And the design for our title character is perfect.

So, parents, kids, Leaguers... Check it out! I think this is really cool not just from a storytelling perspective, but from a distribution model.

Unemployment Chronicles: I need a job

I apologize for the radio silence the past few days. I don't have a particularly compelling reason WHY I was unable to post. I just sort of looked at the blogger editor and that flashing cursor, and, man, I had nothing to share.

Sometimes being jobless means there's very little going on. Then, last night, I was struggling with a post for Comic Fodder, and finally finished it up tonight. I feel the post is a little incoherent, as I had to give up several times and come back to the post, but hopefully I made my point.

Working out

I started working out this week for the first time in two years. I've made two jabs at running since I moved back, but I get bored running, so I'm trying some exercises that I can do in the house that I used to do at TKD. Unfortunately, this has meant that the past two days, my abs, neck and tri-ceps have hurt. Hurray, exercise.

Unemployment has meant that I'm buying cheaper food and getting out of the house less, which means I'm a bit concerned about atrophying into a person-blob. And while I know Jamie would still love me if I turned into Jabba the Hutt, I think I can do her a solid and not just merge with the couch (although Jeff the Cat would make a nifty Salacious Crumb analog).

I'm also getting tired a lot earlier at night, which I'm figuring has to be a good thing.

I dunno. I don't mind a certain panda bear shape, but when I start looking like "My Neighbor Totoro", it's time to start cutting back on the potato skin sour cream bombs.

Bat Commentary of the Day

I've also been pondering how to follow up on some of Steven's comments from a few days ago regarding his reading of The Dark Knight. By and large, I agree with him. I don't think it's unique to DC's pantheon of characters that their bigger characters and their conflicts can draw out these kinds of readings. Maybe Spidey or Cap could do the same at Marvel. But I do think that characters who've become modern myths, such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman (and even Flash and GL) lend themselves to working as both icon and character in a way that other superheroes may not.

I really, really want to see the movie again. And maybe that'll get me going on that second post on Dark Knight. We'll see. It's also in IMAX here in Austin, so I suspect that'll be my excuse for going back to see it.

I'm also enjoying seeing people actually take to Batman as I've known him since the mid-80's. Not all writers handle the character terribly well, or even seem to get the character entirely as he's been defined for the past 30 years. But it's gratifying to see a film maker who is seemingly unconcerned that someone might laugh if he takes the character seriously (and let's be honest, that's what happened with the Schumacher movies), and to see people discussing the movie the same way Bat-geeks have discussed Batman and his rogues gallery all their lives.

TV I've Been Watching

BBC America has been running episodes of "Spaced", the Simon Pegg sit-com from a few years back. Comic geeks have known about it for a while as Pegg's character is a comic artist/ asst. manager at a comic shop. So there's some reference to comics, etc... but mostly its just pretty funny, so far.

I've also been watching a LOT of "Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares". It's a weird show as I really know absolutely nothing about cooking, and I've never seen "Hell's Kitchen". But, I always end up watching shows about people in the workplace (I find the vocations of others endlessly entertaining in small bursts), and I think its interesting to watch people have to actually think about what they've been taking for granted as part of their process and go through the mental change required to keep their business from imploding. Food just happens to be something everyone touches to a degree, so you can keep up.

I don't know if I even recommend the show, because, seriously... its a show about restaurants being run into the ground. But its probably better for me than Jerry.

The Job Hunt

Here's my basic job hunt schedule:

Monday - Pretty much all day, on and off while I'm awake. This can go from 11:00 AM to 2:00 AM. A few hours for dinner.

Tuesday - Usually from 1:00 - 5 or 6:00. Usually again after 11:00 PM.

Wednesday - Maybe some in the morning.

Thursday - 1:00 - 4:00.

Friday - By the end of the week, you've seen the postings for the week and you're not seeing much new. I'll look again, maybe Sunday, but with how things seems to work, the posts mostly go up Monday and Tuesday, with a decreasing number of new listings after Tuesday, slowing down to nothing by the weekend.

Things that blow my mind:
-When employers won't let you just upload your resume and want you to fill out their weird form
-The Craigslist postings where they neglect to tell you how to contact them
-wonky websites that fail multiple times after you spent all the time filling out the weird form
-a list of skills and attributes, degrees etc... that anyone would be proud of, and then listing a salary somewhere near the poverty line (see: UT)
-filling out a job form, and then realizing you took the bait for some spammer before Craigslist flagged the post
-Jobs listed in Austin, which really aren't

Things that are nice:
-Sites where you can upload your resume and cover letter
-job descriptions that make sense
-job descriptions with a salary range listed
-Sites that have a follow up question or two to make sure you're the right candidate to begin with, and nobody is wasting anybody's time
-call backs

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Comic Fodder

There's a new post up at Comic Fodder, where I wisely describe what DC needs to be doing for their movie projects, and why.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

no morning post. I'm sure you'll somehow muddle through.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Few Items

Item! Jason has posted both photos from my grandmother's funeral, as well as a description of our trip (also expect Jason's thoughts on The Dark Knight).

Item! The trailer for Watchmen premiered with Dark Knight. Here. It seems like just yesterday that I was in middle school and reading "Comics Scene" magazine, where they were describing trying to get Arnie on board to play Dr. Manhattan. Blue, nude, Arnie.

I am still very skeptical. For all the sturm und drang of Zack Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's "300", it ended up feeling like a really long, pretty Korn video. The movie was probably a technical achievement, but you're talking about the difference between adapting a picture book versus a dense and complex story with genuine characters. And, unlike Hulk or Batman, you can't really relaunch Watchmen if Snyder drops the ball.

Item! Speaking of Miller, his directorial debut in adapting Eisner's "The Spirit" looks... kinda not like The Spirit.

I see Sin City with The Spirit's mask glued on for good measure. For those keeping up, Miller's world view is pretty specific, and it may not serve the world of Eisner's gum shoe terribly well.

And certainly anyone who would pick up Spirit reprints to find out what this Spirit guy is about isn't going to find Miller working through his issues with women (even if Eisner's comic did feature a number of femme fatales).

What's weird is that Miller clearly thinks Eisner is the bee's knees. Check out Eisner/ Miller some time. So I'm wondering what Miller is up to.

That said, Eisner employed a lot of crazy imagery in his strip, so some of what I've seen in the trailer fits...

We'll see. I just always found "The Spirit" a lot... jollier... than what I'm seeing.

Item! Steven has thrown down the gauntlet for Nicole. She is to learn Rush's "Tom Sawyer".

I fully support this challenge.

Item! This week is Comic-Con International. That's the big Comic-Con that routinely sends the press into a conniption fit because they can't believe this many people enjoy pop entertainment that isn't covered by "Us Weekly".

Usually some failry interesting comic related news comes out during this period, or else we get a sneak peek of movies, TV shows, what have you.

I'm not expecting a whole lot this year as far as surprises go. The internet news cycle has gotten to be such that entertainment companies are trying to get out ahead of the SDCC rather than making the announcements there.

Some day I'd like to go to SDCC, but part of me is pretty sure it would just wind up being a disappointment. I don't get a particular thrill out of standing in lines, so I don't know if I'd manage to get any sketches, signatures, whatever. Plus, the temptation to spend too much money on comics once I was there would be too great.

I hear a lot about the after parties, but getting sloppy drunk and kissing the ass of some writers and artists sounds... weird (ie: lame). But, still, I think you kind of need to see this thing as part of comic culture. So... maybe one day.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The League finally saw Dark Knight

I think this is Part 1 of 2

So... Let us discuss The Dark Knight. This is relatively spoiler free, I guess.

Jamie and I got up and went to the 11:35am show at The Alamo. And, really, there is a heck of a lot of material out there for The Alamo to pull from for their pre-show. I highly recommend hitting one of the Alamo locations, for no other reason than seeing Prince's "Bat Dance" on the big screen.

It's actually an interesting contrast to see some of the decades' worth of Bat material prior to the film, as a reminder that Batman has changed so much, so frequently over the years, and how those different versions are so embedded in the public memory, a bit like different versions of King Arthur hitting TV, movies, the Broadway stage, what have you. All of them work (to a degree), and all of them serve a purpose.

Dark Knight throws off the last remnants of the Tim Burton era of Batman, and is able to take Bale's Batman into a world that is much, much closer to our own than any previously seen in any medium. And the movie is that much more powerful for it. There's still Batman's fantastic toys, but we've moved past the world of ninjas from Batman Begins, and the world no longer looks as if the director let the artistic director go kooky. It's an aesthetic choice that I think informs the viewer of the presentness of the characters and the very human dilemmas they face.

I won't go into discussing the performances of the various actors. Yes, they're all devoid of camp or irony. Yes, it is a pleasure to see Ledger's mad dog Joker, Bale's Wayne/ Batman, and Caine as an Alfred with a bit more mettle than most.

There's something exhausting about the new film, clocking in at over 2.5 hours with wall-to-wall story, and nary a quiet moment. But it was a familiar exhaustion. The kind I get when I kick back with a graphic novel or trade paperback collection that doesn't mind taking you through the ringer. Think "Long Halloween", "Watchmen", the original "Sin City"... stories that you can read in a single shot or two, but that are fairly densely packed and leave no one unscathed by the end of the story.

As much fun as I've had with super-flicks coming out this summer, its best that the super-offerings ended with Dark Knight rather than started with this movie. And I'm not saying this lightly, but Dark Knight has changed the game for superhero movies, just as Burton's Batman did in 1989. As I've mentioned on this site a few times, when Burton's Batman appeared, people were still thinking "Bam! Pow! Ziff!" when they thought superhero comics and movies (despite several Superman films, each of which still had no small amount of camp and humor tucked in for good measure). Nicholson's playfully deadly Joker wasn't necessarily frightening, but he was a darn sight more interesting than Romero's cackling criminal. And, more in spite of Keaton than because of him, it gave the public a new and far, far different take on Batman than Adam West.

Batman Begins acts as a great transition, setting up the newly pragmatic take on Batman, while still keeping him with a toe, if not a foot, in the fantastic.

I may be alone in this, but I felt The Dark Knight isn't just a huge leap for the Batman franchise, its a quantum leap for superhero movies in general from popcorn action flick to serious (crime) drama. Perhaps it's not Godfather II, but the movie operates on such a completely different level from this summer's other flicks such as "Hulk", "Hellboy II" and even "Iron Man".

This isn't:
-Hero has to stop Doomsday device (Superman, Spider-Man II, X-Men)
-Hero has to fight his equal (Superman II, Spider-Man)
-Hero has to explore their origins to solve the mystery (Hellboy)
-or some combination of the above (Superman Returns)

As much as I liked Hellboy II and Iron Man, they were both pretty pat stories that worked in the easy morality that usually makes up summer flicks. And, in fact, made up Batman Begins, in its way.

Nolan and Co. set out to push the boundaries of the accepted superhero norms of white hat heroism, and looked at exactly the way you make those involved pay. Structurally, it balances between superherodom and movies from guys like Michael Mann, De Palma or other film makers who've successfully delved into the morally gray territory of criminal and crime fighters. At least that's the basic world the film emulates far more than one of Bat-nipples and the possibility of anyone mistaking Alicia Silverstone as competent enough to drive a car, let alone act as an unlicensed crime fighter.

What's interesting is that the film does what I sort of suspected from the trailers: it manages to bring to the screen the busted, broken, fever dream of Gotham that I've known since middle school. Since the post COIE launch of Batman: Year One, this is the Gotham I've seen on the page, this is the Joker I've seen (in the more memorable stories), this is Harvey Dent (crusading DA), and this is the Batman I've known. For the first time, I white knuckled, both knowing exactly how this would play out, and having no idea what to expect next...

But more than that, its a Batman that makes sense on the screen, with walking, talking humans rather than humans trying to emulate a cartoon, and believing their story fits within the confines of children's entertainment. All while keeping the essence of Batman intact.

And after years of people in Batman costumes who weren't really Batman, and a promising start with Batman begins, its positively rewarding.

It's a unique thrill to feel the genre of superhero film being taken as a bit more than escapist fantasy (even when, like Iron Man, it has some interesting underpinnings). And it gives me hope for the future of superhero films. Can they move beyond the usual mad scientist schemes and doomsday devices? The comics all too rarely manage to do so, so it seems a bit premature to think that the next Hulk movie will do much more than open a can of whup-ass on some other over-sized muscled mutant, or that if they do a Flash movie, it will be about much more than the joy of moving far faster than the speed of sound. And I certainly don't think all superhero films NEED to go this direction, and Batman is uniquely posed to do so. But the fact that the window has been opened...

I don't want to overstate all of this, and I know I'm at risk of doing so. Dark Knight isn't going to ping on the cultural radar in the same manner as something either like Godfather or Star Wars. Because parents may wisely avoid taking their children to see Dark Knight (and I recommend this movie only for kids 12 or older) it's going to miss out on the humongous box office numbers of something like Spidey 3 (which, by the way, wasn't very good and mostly rode the goodwill of Spideys 1 &2 ). But I do see it as a shifting point for superhero movies.

Hopefully Dark Knight will give WB and DC the courage to take more chances on their own properties, mining them for the stories and characters that they already own.

Now, if the Superman team can figure out how to get that level of action and drama with their already developed story telling...

So, what'd you think? Chime in!