Monday, July 14, 2014

Pretty Sketchy: Moar Batgirl (and a special guest)

Haven't got any sketches of the new Batgirl look, but I have a few of an older persuasion that are worth sharing:

This version of Babs was drawn & colored by Joe Haley and TJ Dort, and I bought it from them at Rhode Island Comic Con 2012.  It was in their portfolio and it caught my eye from well across the aisle thanks to the colors, and I had to have it.

And this one, as you can see, was drawn by Joel Watson of Hijinks Ensue during his 2012 Fancy Sketch Drive.  He was drawing all sorts of weird requests then, so I figured Batgirl and Spider-Man geeking out over Doctor Who (which you know they totally would do) would be right up his alley.

Also, I don't go in so much for the shipping, but if I were the sort of person who did, these two might be my OTP despite all of the many creative and legal hurdles that would obviously prevent it, because come on, they'd be perfect for each other.  I can't be the only one who thinks that.  I mean, there has to be at least Tumblr dedicated to this very idea, right?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Batgirl. New Batgirl! NEW BATGIRL!

Art by Babs Tarr; posted without the permission of MTV, but used with love and admiration so hey guys, maybe please don't sue me.  Also, show more videos again. And reruns of Remote Control or Just Say Julie.
As you probably heard if you were anywhere near the comics readin' portions of the inter-ma-nets this week, DC is revamping Batgirl starting with issue #35, with the new creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher, artist Babs Tarr, and colorist Jordie Bellaire.  It was exactly the sort of comics-related announcement I love... a lot of people were excited, fan art and cosplay plans started popping up almost immediately, all the right people were happy, and all of the right people were angered and let you know it, which made unfollowing them on social media so much easier.  Thanks for the assist, haters!

As you can probably guess, I fall firmly in the "excited for it" camp.  As I've said many times before, so much of the DC Universe has been a joyless, depressing slog since the New 52 reboot began.  Even the books I was enjoying at first soon got dragged down into the doom and gloom, too, and became so un-fun to read that for most of the last year or two, the only DC-published books I've read with any regularity have been the "off brand" digital-first stuff like Batman '66 or Adventures of Superman.  Though there were two New 52 books that lured me back into the pool, recently, and those were Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow and Francis Manapul's Flash.  They were good, clever, and really took advantage of the rebooted DCU to give fresh spins on familiar territory.  I've enjoyed what I've read of them so far, which was especially surprising because I've never been much of a Green Arrow fan, and in the original continuity I was pretty sure that the only interesting thing Barry Allen ever did as the Flash was die (I was always more of a Wally guy).

They gave me some hope that if these books could thrive, even if just for a little while, something else fun could one day bloom from out of the New 52's darkest depths.  And it looks like something finally is, though the fact that it's coming out of the Batman corner of things, which has been not only dour but bogged down in Perpetual Crossover almost since the very beginning, is unexpected.  Getting an upcoming peripheral book like Gotham Academy (also co-written by Fletcher with Becky Cloonan) was surprising enough, but to get something like this starring an established, high-profile member of the Batman Family... you could've knocked me over with a feather.  But I'm happy about it.  I love the sound of the premise, the attitude behind it (some complain this sounds more like Steph Brown than Babs Gordon; I say that's not a bad thing), and especially the costume redesign, which is as functional as it is badass.

I'm more excited for this book than I have been for any DC book in a long time, even though I'm well within the audience for whom the majority of their current books are allegedly written.  It's heartening to see that I'm not alone.

Friday, June 27, 2014

You otter be in pictures. On the internet.

Aren't you tired of cats having the run of the internet?  I sure am.  It's long past time to take the webs of inter back from the cats and letting another cute animal have a go.  Let's turn things over to the otters.

Because memes don't have a "sell by" date.
What's cooler than being cool?  Otters.

You can't tell on the screen, but this little guy's Nimoy is spot-on.

Look, Liam Neeson is going to stop making these some day, and they will need a replacement.
Otters are renowned for their master camouflage techniques.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


C'mon guys, what happened to IDIC? Also, YOU MISSPELLED TRIBBLE!
Continuing on the Star Trek theme - because when I fixate, I fixate hard - I went to Boston for my very first Star Trek convention in Boston this past weekend.  I've been to quite a few comic (or mostly comics-related) cons in the past, but this was the first such event I've been to devoted to something that is largely based in another medium, the first focused on a specific property, and the first put on by convention-producing giants Creation Entertainment (they did put on a con in my home town as a kid, but I didn't go;  legend has it it was sparsely attended - this was central Maine after all - so they never came back).

I was looking forward to it, but really didn't know what to expect, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping that it'd be at least a little bit like Shatner's famous "Get a Life!" SNL sketch.  It was not like that at all, obviously, but what I did encounter was mostly positive, but there were a few disappointments.

Garrett Wang holding court in-between sessions. I get the desire for Trek actors to come back for the con circuit now... people treat them like damn rock stars!

The biggest was the cancellations.  Kate Mulgrew, Scott Bakula, and Avery Brooks were all scheduled to attend at one point or another, but all had to cancel due to other engagements.  Karl Urban and Bruce Greenwood similarly cancelled.  So that's 3 Captains (4, if you count Greenwood) and the entire NuTrek presence that had been promised and all had to back out.  I'm not angry, and I'm certainly not blaming them, life happens sometimes, but it was still a letdown.  Creation got some replacement guests in where they could (Walter Koenig, Nana Visitor, a few others), so good on them for that, but still, it's hard not to feel let down there.

The dealers' room was small and sparse, too.  Given the universe of Trek merch out there, I expected to see a lot more of it for sale, but 2 small rooms and maybe a total of 10 dealers was it.

Scottymania - Not James Doohan, but AN INCREDIBLE SIMULATION!

And given what I've heard about Trek cosplay through the years, I expected to see a lot more of it.  What there was was generally really good - lots of TOS and TNG Starfleet costumes, a kid in a great Borg costume complete with light-up gun and spinning saw hand, a couple of folks in Niners (the DS9 baseball team) uniforms, an Andorian or two (always awesome), and a guy who looked uncannily like James Doohan.  But by and large, everyone looked more or less like me: geeky t-shirt, backpack, waterbottle, etc.

Sadly, no one dressed as members of the Vulcan Logicians to put on an exhibition game.
 I dunno, I guess I figured with a major city like Boston, it'd just be... bigger, more energetic.  Maybe the cancellations took the wind out of some people's sails.  Also, I was only able to go on the Sunday, so it might just have been the slower day.  It could be any number of things.

This isn't to say I had a bad time, though.  Despite all the naysaying above, I enjoyed myself.  Got to meet up with some rarely seen friends, saw some funny presentations / Q&A sessions with some Trek actors, got to meet Robert Picardo (who is excellent in everything because he's been in about damn near everything), bought a few cool tchotchkes (the Eaglemoss model & magazine of the USS Reliant, my favorite ship design; the Art Asylum/Previews phaser & communicator set; a paperback of Alan Dean Foster adaptations of the animated series), and generally got to commune with fellow geeky folks and further my appreciation of the whole Star Trek franchise and experience.

DIY 3D with non-hologram Robert Picardo!
It was a good day out, is what I'm saying.  And I'm jazzed for the 2016 convention (the shortened 2015 con tour isn't coming to Boston), which will be celebrating the 50th anniversary.  Plenty of time to finish rewatching TOS and making my way through DS9 for the first time, and hopefully even moving on from there.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Trek Wars - How I Finally Realized I Preferred Star Trek to Star Wars and Was Pretty Okay With That

It just hit me recently that somewhere in the past few years - I'm not sure when exactly - that I started liking Star Trek better than Star Wars, and wasn't sure how to feel about that at first.  Not that I ever disliked Trek by any means... I watched reruns of the original series throughout childhood, kept up with TNG as it aired (though I never watched much of DS9, Voyager, or Enterprise, though I'm getting into them all to varying degrees now), saw all the movies, etc.  But it's like Elvis and the Beatles, Coke and Pepsi, Marvel and DC... you can like both, but you always prefer one over the other, and I chose the fantasy adventure aspects of Star Wars over Star Trek's ruminations on the human condition.

Also, lightsaber battles are usually more interesting than conference table discussions.  Just puttin' that out there.

But in the past several years, through the prequels (which, yeah, weren't very good but still kind of watchable) and spin-offs like Clone Wars (which varied in quality through seasons but was overall pretty decent), it occurred to me that no matter the setting, all of the various Star Wars stories are basically variations on the same story: Jedi (and friends) vs. Sith (and underlings).  It can be a good story, sure, but it does feel pretty redundant to me after a while, which is probably why I was never able to successfully marathon the Star Wars movies without getting bored, even at the heights of my SW fandom as a kid.

Star Trek, however, tells a number of stories (or at least a number of perspectives of its shared universe) across its various permutations, and I find that more compelling.  Now, yeah, it has the advantage of having existed longer and hundreds of additional hours of programming to tell those stories, but even still, it feels less repetitive.  There's the overarching vision of "Let's put our differences aside and learn to get along", but each iteration of Trek takes a different approach to this.  TOS's very mission statement involved "seeking out new life," so there was a big emphasis on exploration and discovery.  By the time of TNG, a good deal of the exploring had been done, so that show was more about maintaining diplomatic balance.  DS9 is life on the frontier, far away from the watchful eyes of home where finding common ground and maintaining the peace occasionally involves actions that go beyond what is the law and focus instead on what's right (or at least the most right... for right now).  Voyager shows us cooperation-as-survival method... they don't make efforts to establish good relations with the folks they meet in the Delta Quadrant, they don't get home.  And with Enterprise, we look back at a people taking their first steps into joining a larger community... Earth thinks its ready, Vulcan thinks Earth isn't, and the real answer is probably somewhere in between.

(I'm purposely leaving the JJ Abrams movies out for now, since those are basically the Ultimate/New 52 rebooted TOS.  I've liked them both so far, they're the sort of Big Event Stories that the best of the original Trek movies are, I think, but they're more concerned with "and this is our version of _______" than I'd like, so they still feel like we're retreading familiar ground.  If I have one wish for the next movie, it's that I want it to be its own thing.)

So although I still find the seemingly endless conferencing a bit tedious (I don't care if you're talking about tachyon particles, genetically enhanced dictators from the 1990s, or life... but not as we know it, it still feels like a work meeting), I'm having fun rediscovering this franchise that I had enjoyed but never paid as much attention to because it wasn't as flashy and lacked sword fights.  And although I'm starting to enjoy DS9, which I could never get into at the time of its airing (I was one of the people making the "But how can they call it Trek when they don't go anywhere?" jokes... sorry about that; 1993 me will be suitably chastised), I find I'm particularly enamored of TOS.  The newly remastered editions are neat to look at (even if I do find myself missing the model shots), and there's something about that mid-to-late 60s mix of "gee whiz" optimism in the face of acknowledging the harshness of life that I find compelling.  It conformed to the standards of TV of the era while still trying to stretch them as much as possible.  TOS is a show that couldn't have been made prior to the Kennedy assassination and the cultural loss of innocence that followed, but that's a thought for another day.

(By the way, if you made the images used in this post, or know who did, let me know so I can give them proper attribution.  They're nice and credit should be given where due!)