A simple enough request, I think.

Dear People Who Make the DVDs,

Please release The State on DVD already, so I can watch stuff like this whenever I want to without having to resort to 12-or-13-year-old videotapes or grainy YouTube scans:

And yeah, I know it's available for download on iTunes now, but I don't want to watch TV on iTunes. I want DVDs. So hop to it. Chop chop!

- Bill

Yep, more eBay listings.

Do people find these eBay posts annoying? Just curious. Not that's it's going to stop this eBay post, of course, but still.

Anyway, help me clear up some much needed space by bidding on the following:
Thanks, folks. And as always, bid early, often, and honestly!

If there was a "Best Pitch That'll Never Ever Happen (Especially Now) Award," this would win hands down.

In case you're wondering what sort of book I would like to see from DC (and why wouldn't you wonder about that?), this lady over on LiveJournal spells out the greatest pitch for an Elongated Man book you could ever hope to read. Once I finally get the power to bend reality in any way I see fit (I'm workin' on it!), I'll see to it that this book does indeed get published.

Okay, fine, let's just get this out of the way.

That promo image that DC sent out? The one everyone in Lower Comics Blogovia is frantically typing away about? I don't think it's about the World War 3 series or the Countdown weekly or any of that. I think they're finally going to announce the anthology series I've been speculating about ever since Identity Crisis. Coming this spring/summer/whenever - Less Fun Comics! All the bogus shock value masquerading as "mature storytelling," pointless revelations, on-panel disembowelments and, yes, women in refrigerators you've come to expect from DC these last few years, all in one location! And it'll be $3.99 a pop! At least! And we'll call it a "monthly," but you'll take it when you get it and like it, chummy!

Yessiree bob, you used to have to turn to poorly-written internet fanfic to see your beloved icons defiled in this manner, but now you can get all the officially-sanctioned debasement your blackened little soul desires! Less Fun Comics - if it were any less fun, it'd be educational.

(Have the last few years' worth of event comics made me cynical? Maybe a smidge.)


I'm sort of blogged-out at the moment.

Enjoy a Mighty Heroes cartoon.

Happiness is...

a Spider-Man MODOK*. Or MODOC**, if you prefer. Either way, it's about 38 different varieties of awesome. As is a Wolverine MODOC who can't stab anybody because his arms are too short and stubby. And Karl, the least-effective hench-scientist in AIM*** history.

For this and other bits of wonderful. Run, don't walk, to the place you buy comic books and buy Marvel Adventures Avengers #9, written by Jeff Parker. The truths of the universe will stand revealed before you.****

* Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing.
** Mobile Organism Designed Only for Conquest (this is from an all-ages book, see)
*** Advance Idea Mechanics.
**** Okay, this is a lie, but it's a very good book, and easily the most-fun in any Marvel book not named "Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E." for at least the past few years, if not ever,

Adventures in Food: The King of Paninis

So I got a Griddler for Christmas. In case you haven't heard of it, it's product from Cuisnart that can be used as a contact grill (like the George Foreman grill), a griddle, an open grill (just pop the hinge so it opens all the way), and a panini press. This thing is all kinds of wonderful. For one thing, it sounds sort of like a Batman villain. Also, we've been getting tons of use out of it; I think we've used it at least 3 or 4 times a week thus far. I miss grilling in the winter time (which, despite the lack of snow, has officially settled in here in Rhode Island, as it's damn cold), so any excuse and method to pull it off indoors is something I can wholeheartedly embrace. We've probably gotten the most mileage out of the panini press function, though, because warm sandwiches are usually a real rarity around our house. Simple enough concept for a quick snack, hearty enough to be a meal. Erin and I appreciate that sort of versatility.

So of course, the real trick is trying to invent new paninis to actually try. Well, the real trick for me, anyway. As Erin is quick to admit, she's an extremely picky eater and is content to go with the stuff she knows, leaving me to explore most culinary frontiers on my own. Not that my explorations lead me all that much farther past what I already know, either, but still.

So anyway, the other day I was trying to think up new warm sandwich creations, while at the same time thinking about this really terrible cover of "Suspicious Minds" (my favorite Elvis song) I heard over the P.A. in the grocery store earlier in the day. The conclusion I reached was, in this particular set of circumstances, probably inevitable - The Elvis Panini. The King's penchant for fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches is pretty legendary, and I have to admit that they always sounded pretty good, if also a little bit fatal. But, I reasoned, if you grilled it, you might just postpone the massive coronary, at least long enough to actually finish the sandwich, anyway.

First I took some ciabatta bread we had floating around and lightly brushed the exterior with a super-tiny amount of olive oil so it wouldn't burn on the grill plates (and also so it wouldn't taste like peanut butter, bananas, and olive oil, which seemed to be a less than savory combination). I spread on some Jif Honey Peanut Butter and cut up a little more than half a banana into discs that I placed closely together on top of the PB. Then I put it on the Griddler, pressed down on the handle for 30 seconds (so you get those grill marks), then let up on the handle and left it in to cook/toast/whatever for another 5 minutes.

The results? It was good - not great, but good. I certainly enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite the King of All Sandwiches that I was hoping for. Maybe I should have used sourdough instead of ciabatta, or maybe regular Jif instead of the honey kind. Probably could have used more peanut butter than I did, too, the more I think of it. And maybe the bananas were a little too ripe - they were about a day or so from being perfect banana bread fodder, so the banana taste was super strong, almost overpowering, really. And hey, maybe this sort of thing really does need to be fried, you know? Frying makes everything tastier. Possibly even footwear.

But all second guessing aside, it was pretty tasty, warm, and gooey. It just could be even more so. I think further experimentation is required to truly perfect the Elvis Panini. I figure I owe it to the world. It may be my one lasting gift to science. The responsibility I'm facing here is astounding.

They Came From the Library!

As if I didn't have enough comics to read at home right now, I went and got some stuff from the library. Some thoughts (potentially spoilery in nature):

Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 1: The Fantastic - I have a hard time forming any sort of opinion about this book, because honestly, I couldn't even be bothered to finish. It wasn't particularly bad or incompetently created or anything, or even vastly different from the traditional FF in any sort way that would actually matter. I just couldn't quite bring myself to care enough to actually read all the way through. I think it's the same problem I've had with almost every other Ultimate book I've read*, and that's the tendency to go back and "re-imagine" older stories and/or concepts that I think are still serviceable as is, even with the anachronisms intact. I know these books are certainly popular with their fans, and I think it's great that the exist for those people to enjoy, but I think I know for sure now that I'm not one of them. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm just an Earth-616 boy at heart. At least when they're not stuck in the middle of endless, soul-crushing, decidedly un-fun crossovers, anyway. Maybe I'm more of a "Fringes of 616, and also Marvel Adventures" boy at heart. Eh, semantics.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang - Wow, people just seem to love this book, don't they? Well - and here's where I lose what little Comics Bloggyverse Cred I've earned - I wish I could say I was one of them. It certainly starts off strong enough. I enjoyed the format of the three stories told in parallel - Jin dealing with what he considers the burden of his Chinese heritage and his desperate struggles to fit in at school, the fable of the Monkey King, and the twisted sitcom happenings with Danny and his cousin Chin-Kee (almost the worst Chinese stereotype since Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's") - and the way each of the plotlines in some way reflected the happenings of the others. I think Yang had a lot of interesting things to say about racism, and how the most affecting form of it may come not from outsiders, but from within your own insecurities. And I think the art was really wonderful - cartoony enough to feel removed from the situation, but realistic enough to make everything seem real (if that makes sense at all). And in spite of myself, I actually found some of the Chin-Kee sequences to be truly laugh out loud funny (there's a great subtle visual gag involving Chin-Kee in math class... you really need to check it out), which I really hope was the intent, because otherwise I'm a very bad person.

The problem for me, though, came with the ending (Here's where we might get a little spoilery). I was sort of expecting the Monkey King and Danny/Chin-Kee storylines to have endings that would somehow relate to the end of Jin's story in some sort of metaphoric/parable fashion, but instead, they all merge into the very same storyline. This teenage coming-of-age-and- dealing-with-emotional/cultural-baggage story suddenly has all of these mystical, fantastic elements folded into it, and if we're to accept them literally, it removes me from the situation-as-I-understand-it and completely derails the entire story for me. One moment Jin and the girl he has a crush on are seeing "Sixteen Candles," and then later Jin is visited by the actual Monkey King? It would work for a Scott Pilgrim book, sure, but it's established very early on that that's the sort of world Scott Pilgrim occupies. Here, it just comes out of left field, almost as if it came from an entirely different book. I hate to say that this ruined the whole story for me, but it kind of did. And it's too bad, because before the last chapter, there's a lot about this book to like.

Still to come: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and the Spider-Man/Human Torch: I'm With Stupid digest (that oughtta make for a disjointed double feature, huh?). On top of all the other stuff I'm trying to read, too (Absolute New Frontier, Chuck Klosterman IV, Showcase Presents Shazam, Locas, Runaways Vol. 5, some book on Orson Welles I picked up at work today...). It's really hard to find the time to read all this stuff! If only I didn't have to work. But until the Powerball people get their act together and award me the damn prize already (whether I've remembered to buy a ticket or not), I still need to hold down a job. Grumble, grumble.

*Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1 and a few select issues of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up excepted.

Start spreadin' the news, I've got stuff on eBay...

Well, it sort of fits the rhyme scheme, and since I'm trying to rais funds for the NY con, it kind of works.

Okay, it doesn't at all. I have no shame. May God have mercy on my very soul. While I'm off doing penance, check out what I'm selling this time around:
Thanks for humoring me yet again with this stuff, folks, and bid early, often, and honestly!

Also, special thanks to those of you who delurked on the last post. The number of folks who responded was less than I hoped, but at the same time, far more than I actually expected, so I'm gonna chalk that one up in the "Win" column. It always nice to know that I'm not completely typing away into the big empty.

Hey, you! Reading this post! Who the heck are you, anyway?

I was thinking the other day that I really have no idea who clicks their way over here on a regular basis. You can have access to all the stat counters in the world and still not get a real feel for that sort of thing. Well, if you're me, anyway. So if you're reading this post and you visit this spot on a regular basis, advance and be recognized! Click on the comment link below and say hi or something. You don't have to leave a name or online alias or anything, though it'd be nice if you did, I suppose. I just want to have some sort of vague idea of who's out there. Please and thank you!

Some Comics Talk 2: Electric Boogaloo

More brief, potentially spoilery thoughts on stuff I've read.

Teen Titans Go! 38 - Chynna Clugston's art doesn't quite match the look and feel of the animated Titans themselves, but that's a minor quibble as it matches the tone of this Mad Mod spotlight story to a "T" (ugh, sorry about that; completely unintentional, I assure you). Fun story, jam packed with layer upon layer of Beatle and mod-culture references. And if you're quick, you'll find a fun cameo from the Blue Monday cast.

Jonah Hex 14 - Part 2 of the Legend of Jonah Hex, in which our hero goes poo diving (and kills a bunch of people, 'natch). I keep going back and forth on whether or not I'm going to keep reading it, and then an upswing in story quality comes along that hold my interest a while longer. This storyline is one of those high points, helped in large part by the art of Jordi Bernet, who seems to be channeling Alex Toth (this is a good thing). I'm unfamililar with Bernet's work - is it always like this, or does he adapt his style to the book/character he's working on at the time?

Athena Voltaire: Flight of the Falcon 3 - You know, comics could use a truly excellent, globe-hopping, Republic serial-esque 1930s adventure series, and this book is trying really hard to be that book, but it falls short of the mark for me. For one thing, I think we're told how amazing the titular aviatrix is rather than being shown it. Also, there's never anything on the last page that actually indicates that it's the last page. I'll be reading along and reach the bottom of a page, then it's ad, ad, ad, letter page, sketch page, back cover. No "To Be Continued," and not even anything that could be seen as a cliffhanger. Everything just kinda... stops. That's disappointing.

Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness - A slightly quieter, and at times surprisingly introspective installment of the Canadian Video Game Streetfight Love Manga-ish series. It answers some questions from the previous volumes, fills in a little more of the back stories of various characters, and has a lot of fun at the expense of vegans. A good time should be had by all. Volume 4 can't come fast enough for me.

Marvel Adventures Avengers: Heroes Assemble - This is a magazine-sized book sold at Target, which I'm pretty sure reprints the same material as the first M.A. Avengers digest, issues 1 through 4 of the series (the digest may even have the same title, but I don't know for sure). Probably the best Avengers-related book I've read in years, and certainly the most fun. The writing by Jeff Parker is witty, fast-paced, and simple (though never dumbed down), and the artwork by Manuel Garcia is very solid in that clean, mid-80s Marvel sort of way. This book reminds me of the original run of The Batman Adventures - fun, entertaining stories, told well, and suitable reading for adults and kids alike. The best Marvel reading experience I've had in quite some time.

Invincible Vol. 6: A Different World
- I've probably mentioned this here before, so I won't continue to beat a dead horse, but for my money, this is still one of the very best superhero books on the market today (though a little more graphically violent than I'd like), and probably the current karmic successor to Spider-Man as far as both the archetype of the young hero coming into his own and the development of the supporting cast are concerned (the last book to hit those marks so well, IMHO, was Static). Also, I have to admit that naming the trades after various sitcoms makes me laugh. I'm a simple guy, what can I say? Anyhoo, decent main story, some good continuation of long-running subplots, and a few twists I legitimately didn't see coming.

AEIOU, or Any Easy Intimacy - The more or less true story of a relationship by Jeffrey Brown, this book may be WAY too emo for some folks. I liked it a quite a bit, though. But then again, I'm a sucker for diary comics, and this is very much in the vein of works by James Kochalka and Liz Prince (and, maybe a little like Jen Omand), but more downbeat.

Still to come (somewhere down the line, maybe, once I actually get to read them and if I even feel like typing about 'em at that point):

Runaways Vol. 4: True Believers

Showcase Presents: Shazam! Vol. 1 (I hope it's a Volume 1, anyway, as I'd sure like to see the rest of the series collected, along with the stuff from World's Finest)

Superman: Secret Identity (technically, this would be a re-read, so I may skip over typing about this one entirely)

Absolute DC: The New Frontier (Sweet Jebus, is this a beautiful book)

They'll be celebrating in Baltimore and San Diego tonight.

In news that should surprise no one, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Tony Gwinn are going to the Baseball Hall of Fame. As inductees, not tourists. There's a distinct difference. They always seemed like no-brainer choices to go into the Hall on their first year of eligibility (you need to be retired for 5 years to make it on to the ballot, and you're eligible for 15 years after that), and apparently the various and sundry baseball writers across the country agreed in a big way. Ripken got 98.53% of the vote, making him the third highest vote getter ever (behind Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan respectively). Gwynn clocked in with 97.6%, making him number 7 on the list (in order to get elected, a player needs to be listed on the ballots of at least 75% of the voters).

On the other hand, Mark "I Won't Tell Congress I Didn't Do Steroids Because I Don't Feel Like Perjuring Myself" McGwire, another ballot first timer, chalked up 23.5%. Ouch.

Anyway, though I'm happy for Ripken and Gwynn - both of whom clearly deserve the honor - I'm a little disappointed at the list of those who didn't get in. Red Sox great Jim Rice, for instance. This is his 13th year on the ballot, and still no dice. Goose Gossage was up for his 8th try and didn't make it, but I've already several articles talking about how he's inching ever closer. No Andre Dawson, no Don Mattingly, no Dale Murphy, no Tommy John, and no Steve Garvey, which is especially rough since this was his 15th and final year. The whole "fathering illegitimate children" thing isn't such a big deal for famous athletes now, but in the 80s, it was a real career killer.

So good news for Ripken and Gwynn fans - and there are certainly a lot of them - but mark my words, all of New England will be celebrating next year when Jim Ed Rice finally gets his due on his 14th year of eligibility, which will be fitting, since as this article reminds us, he wore #14 for his entire career.

Some Comics Talk, Part 1

Between Christmas and a larger than usual box from DCBS for December, I've found myself in possession of an extraordinarily large amount of comics goodness lately. Here are some theoretically brief thoughts. Things may get a little spoilery.

Spirit 1 - Yes, I'd like a lot more like this, please. They said it couldn't (maybe even shouldn't) be done, but Darwyn Cooke brought the goodness here in a big way, I thought, keeping the book true to the (ugh) spirit of Will Eisner but at the same time not shying away from making it a thing unto itself. Very anxious to see A.) where this goes, and V.) if Cooke can keep up the standards he set for himself here.

Justice Society of America 1 - More like this, too, please. Everything a first issue should be: sets up/re-establishes the premise, introduces some new folks, lays the groundwork for future stories, and sets the main plot of the arc into motion. This got me more excited about the JSA than I've been in some time, and has me thinking that maybe I'll pick this up monthly rather than in trades. We'll see, I guess. Also, I hearby declare Maxine Hunkel to be the Sensational Character Find of 2006.

Supergirl and the LSH 25 - I like this new version of the Wanderers, and just how many of them are new versions of old Legionnaires and/or Subs. And I'm glad Waid finally gave Dream Boy something useful to do... he's been depicted as such a tool so far, and his only really flaw is that he's not Nura. And, you know, that's not so much his fault, really, is it?

Nextwave: Agents of HATE 11 - Alright, so the MODOK Elvises were inspired, but you had to appreciate the all-ape squad of Wolverine clones, too. This is Warren Ellis-as-mad-genius.

newuniversal 1 - And this is Warren Ellis phoning it in. Sorry, I just didn't like it, even for 75 cents or whatever the DCBS price ended up being. Not enough of a story (even for an introduction issue), and the art is way too photo-referenced for my liking.

An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories - My boss got me this for Christmas. How cool is that? Anyway, this is an amazing collection of material that I'm having an absolute blast picking my way through a few pages at a time (which is the best way to approach this, I think - a few pages every couple of days or so). Editor Ivan Brunetti selected some truly memorable material from a who's who of indie artists past and present (though of his own work, I wish he'd included the "Whither Shermy?" strip instead of one or the other pieces he selected; it would've gone well in the Schulz tribute section of the book), as well as material from some classic sources: a week's worth of daily Barnaby strips by Crockett Johnson, a Gene Dietch magazine cover, a Hey, Look! from Harvey Kurtzman, a Gasoline Alley Sunday strip from the '20s (IIRC), and so on. They make nice little palate cleansers in between the more modern stuff, as well as helping to show the influence of the classic on the contemporary. A fine "how do you do?" to indie comics that's well worth your time and money.

There's still more to discuss, but that can wait for now. In the meantime, there are meals to be prepared, children to be put to bed, episodes of Arrested Development to be watched, and levels of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance to be played. I'm one busy dude.

The inevitable"Year End Wrap-Up," sort of.

It's hard for me to do a "year end pop culture wrap-up/best of" thing, since I've felt so out of touch with a lot of pop culture since parenthood set in. I think I went to the movie theater maybe 4 times all year. My Netflix list is mostly filled with TV shows at the moment, and it tends to take me a good 3 or 4 weeks to get through a single disc. The best CD I bought all year actually came out in 2005 (Mike Doughty's "Haughty Melodic"). And while I enjoy the new Weird Al Yankovic CD, it dawned on me the other day that I've only ever heard one of the original versions of the five parody songs on the record. So did becoming a dad make me lame, or is it just a convenient excuse for my lameness? The world may never know (though I suspect the latter answer is closer to the truth).

So the following things rocked my tiny little sphere of existence in 2006, regardless of whether they actually came out the past year or not. Any glaring omissions you perceive are most likely attributable to the fact that I don't get out as much as I used to, which was never very often to begin with:

  • The aforementioned "Haughty Melodic" by Mike Doughty
  • V for Vendetta, which I actually liked better than the book.
  • Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.
  • Doctor Who
  • "Putting the Days to Bed" by the Long Winters
  • Heroes
  • An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, & True Stories, edited by Ivan Brunetti
  • Jack's Big Music Show
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • Godzilla: Final Wars
  • That Snakes on a Plane song by Cobra Starship
  • Dan Zanes and Friends
  • Arrested Development
  • "Twin Cinema" by the New Pornographers
  • Spellbound
  • The theme song from Veronica Mars ("We Used to Be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols)
  • Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes
  • The Little White Mouse Omnibus
  • Mad Hot Ballroom
  • Justice League Unlimited
  • Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (for about the 5th or 6th time)
  • Darwyn Cooke's version of The Spirit
  • Hell, just about anything by Darwyn Cooke (Overstock.com can't ship my copy of Absolute New Frontier fast enough!)
  • The Marvel Adventures books (esp. Spider-Man and The Avengers)
  • The magazine-sized collected editions of those books sold at Target
  • Agents of Atlas
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • My father-in-law's homemade pizza
  • The Comic Geek Speak podcast and forum
  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
  • Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

...and a bunch of other stuff I'm sure I've forgotten. A year is a long time to remember stuff, especially if you have an Etch-a-Sketch brain like mine and don't take a lot of notes. So this list is by no means comprehensive, but I guarantee it's accuracy; I really did enjoy these things. And I think that counts for something.

New Year's Shilling

Hey, help fund my trip to the New York Comic Con by buying some of my old stuff! The first salvo consists of:
UPDATED - Also added:
  • G.I. Joe 19 issue lot - 2 (reprint), 23, 33, 35, 36, 37, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60 (Todd McFarlane art), 65, 67, 118, and G.I. Joe Yearbook #1.
  • Fantastic Four 10 issue John Byrne lot - 221 (which predates his "official" start on the book), 232 (the real beginning), 241, 245, 266, 280, 281, 282, 283, and 293 (his last issue).

Okay, not a lot of so-called hot items, but they'll appeal to someone, I figure, and you have to start somewhere. As always, bid early, often, and honestly.


So even in the new Blogger, you can lose an entire post for no apparent reason whatsover.

Good to know.

When my own personal revolution comes, this crap software is the first against the wall.

(The gist of the lost post, by the way, is that Christmas was good, but for some reason, I've lost the goodwill required to retype it. Funny thing, that.)