Birthday #32 today! So no blogging for me today (not that there's been all that much this month, anyway, but still), as somewhere out there, there's cake that needs to be eaten.

Type at you tomorrow (in theory)!

I scream for free stuff (and possibly tummy aches).

Apparently, today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's in celebration of the company's 30th birthday (hey, their birthday is the day before mine... cool).

Ice cream and I don't always get along, digestively speaking, but I love it, and today it's free, so I'll see you in line!

Hoka hoka hey!

Beanworld is coming back! Better still, the complete original series is going to be reprinted, then new stuff in 2009. Woot! That one announcement out of the Portland's Stumptown Comics Fest is, for my money, better than every announcement out of the New York Comic Con combined. Well, okay, maybe not the Gordon Lee thing, but everything else.

And now, an open letter of admitted fan entitlement to Dark Horse:

Thanks for making this happen. But, there's no way in hell this needs to be a $50 hardcover. Or, knowing you, a series of $50 hardcovers. Nice, affordable trade paperbacks will be fine, please and thank you. You've already made it so I can't buy the Herbie book any time soon, so please don't give me the shaft this time around.

Pretty Sketchy / Pretty Scary

First, the not scary: Amelia McBride by Jimmy Gownley:

From an interior illustration (the frontispiece, if you prefer) from the Amelia Rules! Vol. 3: Superheroes trade paperback. I've been a big fan of Amelia Rules! from the beginning, so it was great to meet Jimmy in person at the 2007 New York Comic Con and thank him for all the great comics. More info on the man and this fantastic all-ages book can be found here.

And now the scary.

Okay, not all of it's scary, because I really, really want these Classic Series Doctor Who figures (at least the Doctors themselves, anyway... even the Colin Baker figure looks awesome), but this?


Make the terrifying Tom Baker go away!!!

Thankfully he comes with an alternate, unhatted, kind of morose looking, and significantly less unexpected pee inducing noggin that you can snap on instead.

The next new tech thingee (for the moment)

Okay, so Evernote. Let's see if I understand what this is for. It's basically a daily planner, a scrapbook, a mini-recorder, and some hipster's Moleskine notebook, all smooshed up and online, accessible from anywhere, yes?

Alright. Not the sort of thing I can ever envision myself actually needing, as I'm not one of those super plugged-in people who spends all day on the internet via their phone, and if I need to remember something, I'm not adverse to just writing it down, but I'm willing to play around with the freebie beta invite and see if there's anything I could actually use.

Sidewalk Chalk Nerd Zen

A single Dig and some Juliana

Too much sickness to have read much lately, but here's one thing I did read that I can react to in type:

Y: The Last Man Vol. 2: Cycles - With all of the set-up out of the way, the plot can begin to get moving, and it does as Yorick, Agent 355, and the ironically named Dr. Mann begin their long trek to the Doctor's back-up lab in California. Complications ensue, 'natch. The plot goes places that I found both interesting and kind of annoying at the same time. One of the major problems set-up in the first volume, is at least temporarily dispatched in a rather shocking way that I never saw coming (the interesting), but the allegedly super-faithful Yorick's quickie sorta-romance with a local was a little too "David Janssen in The Fugitive romantic sub-plot of the episode" for my liking (the kind-of annoying). Also, I was able to blast through the entire volume in about a half-hour. It was a pleasantly breezy read, sure, but it helped convinced me that I'm better off to keep getting these through the library rather than buy 'em. But I will keep reading, as it's a good ride so far. And the clean lines of Pia Guerra's artwork is a hell of a draw (no pun intended), I have to say.

If you're a Juliana Hatfield fan, or even if you're not, you should check out the blog she's been keeping over at her website and at MySpace. She's been describing the process, meanings, and stories behind the writing of some of her songs, and so far it has provided some very unique insights into not only the creative process, but the thoughts and life of a talented but often shy and reserved woman, kinda like Storytellers and Behind the Music combined and in print. Interesting reading.

Also, she has a new album coming out in June, which I will most likely buy the second it comes out, because I'm like that where her music is concerned.

Oh yeah, before I forget.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my friend Dan, who did get to go to the con, and picked up two sketches from Andrew Charipar that I had arranged for in advance (one of my favorite Marvel Team-Up villain, the White Rabbit, for me, and a fun Batman for Liam... these are awesome and will be future Pretty Sketchy posts, you can be sure), as well as some WordGirl freebies (stickers, magnetic words, and a very fun promo comic book) that he snagged for the kiddo on Kids Day.

So thanks, Dan! He and our other buddy Jeff do an education podcast called Wicked Decent Learning, and if you're of a teacherly bent, I'm sure they'd appreciate a listen, so go do that.

So yeah, that didn't happen.

As I said the other day, our long-planned, child-free weekend of fun (and for me, comics) in New York was torpedoed at almost-but-not-quite the last minute. The Stomach Flu of Great Inconvenience and Discomfort that knocked me on my hinder last Sunday night struck Erin late Wednesday night, and there was just no way she was going to feel well enough for a busy weekend in the city just a day or so later. To make things worse, Liam was rather painfully backed up and justifiably cranky about it, so we would've felt bad just dropping him off with the in-laws in that state even if we could have gone. It just wasn't meant to be, unfortunately. At least we were able to cancel our hotel reservations before the point when they would've charged us anyway. So there's that.

We spent a lot of Thursday and Friday playing a variation of the Blame Game, one where you try and actually accept blame instead of passing it off. Erin kept apologizing for getting sick and forcing us to cancel, and I kept apologizing to her for getting her sick in the first place, forcing us to cancel. A pretty pathetic state of affairs, to be sure. Erin also kept insisting that I just go down for the day solo on Friday so I could get in some time at the New York Comic Con, since I had been looking forward to it for so long. A wonderful, selfless offer, but I wasn't going to leave a sick wife with a miserable toddler all day just so I could buy some comics. For one thing, it's just not cool, and for another, I'd prefer to stay married, a status I'm sure would be threatened if I were to leave them together in their respective states for the day.

And so, we made metaphoric lemonade. The weather was beautiful, so we got quite a bit of stuff done around the house in the yard, we got a lot of errands run once Erin felt well enough to leave the house, and even though Liam's mood never improved even after he unclogged (and if anything, his mood got worse), we somehow managed to get through the whole weekend without selling him to anybody (though we may have threatened to once or twice... well, no more than 8 times, max.). And so that we'd come out of the weekend having accomplished something frivolous and fun, we ended up buying a Wii. Erin's idea, no less, which is all the more impressive consider she has been named Miss Fiscal Responsibility for the past 12 years running.

So we found a silver lining or two, and no one got hurt, divorced, or sold. A surprisingly decent outcome, given some astoundingly shitty beginnings, I suppose. But make no mistake: next time we plan a vacation of any kind, we're moving into a germ-free bubble a good 6 weeks beforehand.

Monday Morning YouTube Blogging - Pensive!

Do what you do best, Huggy:

WordGirl is seriously the best superhero cartoon on TV right now. The kiddo and I are both big fans.

Well, crap.

Illness wins. No New York for us.

Bloggy Postington

Life has been busy and filled with illness this week, hence the lack of posting. Sorry about that.

Anyway, off to New York this weekend (God willing... the way this month has been going, I won't be sure we'll actually be able to go away until sometime after we get back). Maybe I'll run into some of you at the con on Friday afternoon. I look sort of like this -

- except older. And three-dimensional. Come say hi!

Maybe we can finally put "K9 and Company" behind us now.

While I had been looking forward to finally seeing The Sarah Jane Adventures after reading all the positive reviews since its debut in the UK, I was surprised at just how much I ended up enjoying it. It certainly wasn't cerebral, life-changing television, but it was nice, light adventure fare (duh, hence the title), and actually kind of pleasant. As much as Torchwood tries to establish itself as the decidedly more adult end of the Doctor Who spectrum, Sarah Jane embraces the more family-friendly side of things, but without watering down the content too much or, more importantly, talking down to its audience. In fact, in terms of content, it's probably closer to The Tomorrow People than traditional Doctor Who (and considering a kid with extraordinary abilities and a talking alien computer both play a part in the proceedings, they're actually cribbing quite a bit from Tomorrow People, if you think about it).

But all influences (intentional or otherwise) aside, The Sarah Jane Adventures was a fun hour of television, and they'll definitely have me back for the weeks to come. It's kind of refreshing to see an aspect of the revised Who universe that I'd actually be able to watch with my son.

(And you know, it's funny, when I was pondering this write-up the other night, I was going to mention that I enjoyed that SJA actually seemed to embrace it's spin-off status and actually refer to the Doctor outright, rather that bury connections in sly references the way they do on Torchwood, and then on the Torchwood episode that aired Saturday night on BBC America, they finally mentioned the Doctor by name! Well, I thought it funny, anyway.)

Lo, there came... a pre-order!

Here's what screamed "hey, you, buy me!" in this month's Previews catalog and has been purchased by me through Discount Comic Book Service:

Contract #0 (A First Salvo) - The preview/premiere of a sci-fi cowboy/bounty hunter series. The preview pages I've seen look fun, the writer is a regular on the Comic Geek Speak forums and seems like a cool guy, and most importantly, the issue itself is 25 cents (13 cents with DCBS's discount). Hard to pass all that up.

Blue Beetle #28 (DC) - I'm sad that writer John Rogers is gone (allegedly temporarily), but I have confidence Will Pfeiffer will handle the book quite nicely in his absence.

Brave and the Bold #14 (DC) - Scott Kolins is an odd choice to follow Perez and Ordway, but I do enjoy his artwork, and he showed he can handle team-up books very well indeed over on the too-short-lived Marvel Team-Up book revival, so I'm sure he'll do fine here, too. Plus, this is consistently a solid, fun read if you know and love your DC history.

Superior Showcase #3 (AdHouse Books) - I'd buy this anyway, as the previous two issues included some very clever alternate takes on the usual superhero tropes, but the fact that it contains a new Street Angel story makes it a necessity.

Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? (Marvel) - I'm skipping out on the rest of Secret Invasion (though I'm sure I'll read the collection down the line), but this has an Agents of Atlas story. I want more Agents of Atlas stories, so I figure it's in my best interests to buy the ones that do get offered up to me in order to assure that there actually will be more sometime.

The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #297 (of 300) (Archaia Studios Press) - The first issue was everything I hoped it would be (and that is "fun, over-the-top space opera adventure," as opposed to serious, hard sci-fi, which I rarely seem to enjoy, Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey excepted), so I'm in for the duration.

What If... This Was the Fantastic Four? A Tribute to Mike Wieringo (The Hero Initiative) - 'Ringo's last work, finished by an all-star cast of creators, and the proceeds benefit the Hero Initiative? Sold three times over. Plus, it has the added benefit of being a tribute to Mike unmarred by Venom reprints, which is always nice.

New York Four (DC/Minx) - I like the Minx line, but this is the first book they've put out in a while that I've felt compelled to pick up. The preview pages on MySpace certainly helped sell me, but I also like that this appears to be a riff on Wood's Local, but with a significantly more likable lead.

Atomic Robo Vol. 1 TPB (Red 5 Comics) - From the solicitation copy: "Atomic Robo takes on Nazis, giant ants, clockwork mummies, walking pyramids, Mars, cyborgs, and his nemesis, Baron von Helsingard, in his first trade paperback collection!" Check and mate, I think. Plus, I can always use more action science in my diet.

Noticeably absent from my order - Herbie Archives Vol. 1. Sigh... I wanted to make it work, but even at 50% off from DCBS, it was still a budget killer, and there was too much stuff I wanted that I wasn't willing to cut. Plus, even though most everything else in Previews is scheduled for June, this isn't due until freakin' August. I really hate the way Dark Horse has been super-advance soliciting books lately. Just stick it in the June Previews with the rest of the August books, guys! Grrr... Anyway, for now, I must go without. But that's what they make gift-giving holidays for, I suppose, and once August has come and gone, I will have a wedding anniversary and Christmas headed my way, so I'll get my hands on this yet.

He's Part Outlaw, Part Hero.

Thank you, Captain Aurora. Thank you for foiling the adults' vile plan to keep skittle bowl away from children forever. If not for you, they would have had to find a different game for kids to play for prizes on the Boston area's version of Bozo the Clown (the one with Mr. Houdini).

Now, this nice lawyer from the Marvel Comics Group would like to speak to you for a moment about how your logo looks suspiciously like the one for their patriotically themed super character...

Brave and the Blue / An Unofficial 5 for Friday

So they've finally given the official announcement that the next Batman cartoon, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, is coming to Cartoon Network some time in the future. Very good news, indeed, especially as they seemed to have learned the right lesson from both Justice League Unlimited and later seasons of The Batman, and that's that people like watching Batman team-up with as wide a variety of characters as possible. And from the looks of the promo image, they're apparently quite committed to that kind of variety:

As you can see, I'm clearly quite excited to see them push Blue Beetle right out of the gate (though based on these leading hints, I'm wondering if that'll end up being Jaime Reyes or Ted Kord in that armor... the goofy grin makes me rule Dan Garrett out immediately). I also dig the animation style; it looks like the lantern-jawed icons of the "Dini-verse" DC cartoons mixed with the Superfriends by way of Dick Sprang. It's similar and different at the same time. I'm sure plenty of the online folks hate it already, but A.) online folks hate everything, anyway, and B.) everyone thought Batman: The Animated Series looked weird at first, too, and look how quickly we all warmed up to that?

Over on The Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon ends each working week with 5 For Friday, where he and anyone else who can find the time to submit reel off Top 5 lists on a particular comics-related topic. I can never seem to find the time to post anything myself, but I really liked this week's topic, "Name Five Character Progressions That Didn't Really Last That You Liked Anyway," so I thought I'd post the answers I would have given if I could have gotten my act together enough to make an official submission.

1. Clark Kent romantically involved with Lana Lang (during the latter part of their TV anchor days).

2. Peter Parker, high school science teacher.

3. Steve Rogers as The Captain, and his team of Falcon, Demolition Man, Nomad, and Vagabond.

4. Thunder (A.K.A. Cecebeck, member of the Marvel Family from 6,000 years in the future) as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

5. "Batman digs this day." (And why shouldn't he once in a while?)

Well, it's true.

The kiddo saw fit to pass on his cold, and a humdinger of a headache besides, so here's all I have to share today, a lesson taught to us all by Bully's sister Marshall:

The Dig List: 4/1/08

Still no April Fool's content. Sorry, internet. But here are some brief reactions to comics I've read recently, and my thoughts on any given topic are generally pretty foolish, so there's that, maybe?

Exit Wounds - "Son comes to grip with death of his father, and in the process finally comes to know more about both the old man and himself" is pretty well-worn territory, but Rutu Modan throws a few wrinkles into the story to keep it interesting. For one thing, it takes place in Israel, and the cause of dad's death might be a suicide bombing. That "might" is another wrinkle - the father is a serial abandoner, and this situation might have just provided the perfect cover to leave his latest girlfriend, an awkward but friendly woman just finished with her mandatory Israeli army hitch. We never get a lot of background info spelled out for us on the page, but we still learn a lot about the characters and their lives by watching them as they go about their business, so kudoes to Modan for letting the art do a lot of the heavy lifting and not derailing everything with a lot of needless exposition. It might work a little better if the characters didn't resemble the figures on airline emergency instruction cards, but still, the overall result is an interesting story populated with characters you come to know and like, so I call that one a win.

Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back - The second mini-series merging Marvel's old "What If?" concept with the original Star Wars trilogy, this asks what would happen if Luke had died following the wampa attack on Hoth. As it turns out, the answer is that Lando Calrissian gets a new desk. Seriously. Oh, and the fate of the galaxy sidesteps itself completely into Leia's hands, but you probably already assumed that. And, in classic "What If?" fashion, a whole lot more people die than did the first time around. It's nothing particularly memorable, but it's entertaining in a "I think I did this same sort of scenario with my Star Wars figures when I was a kid" way, and I think that's perfectly okay every now and then. Plus, in a Force-fueled illusory sequence, we get to see a very Ralph McQuarrie-esque Vader, and that's always a good thing. This is nothing you need to own, but it's worth a quick read if you're a fan.

Essex County: Ghost Stories - Despite the near-universal praise for Jeff Lemire's first Essex County book, "Tales from the Farm," I never really warmed up to it. Somehow, it just never grabbed me. There wasn't any marked change in storytelling approach or anything with this volume, but for whatever reason, this one worked better for me. Though there's nothing supernatural going on here, it is very much the story of a man living with ghosts, those of his life,
his career, and his family. And as he loses his hearing, his interest in daily life, and perhaps his mind, he retreats into these ghost stories more and more. It's a very affecting piece of work, and I can imagine this being a great movie, something along the lines of The Straight Story, maybe. I still don't know if I liked this as much as the rest of the bloggyverse seemed to, but I'm definitely glad I read it.

All Star Superman #10 - The problem with a book like All Star Superman is that the second it comes out, everyone with a blog talks about every conceivable aspect of it as soon as possible, so it's hard to not be exposed to all sorts of spoilery bits if your own copy isn't coming until the end of the month in your DCBS box. The strength of All Star Superman is that even if you know most (or even all) of the bits before you read it, the real art is in seeing the way that it all comes together, and all the foreknowledge in the world can't rob that feeling from you. After a kinda-sorta 3 issue slump with the Bizarro two-parter and the issue with the new Kryptonians, this one is back firing on all cylinders, showing us a day in the life of Superman... a day that could very well be his last, in fact, and he's trying to make it count more than ever. While Alan Moore's Superman stories (some of them in Supreme drag) wonderfully celebrate the myth, history, and grandeur of Superman, Morrison is equally successful with reversing the view and giving us the man of Superman - who he is, what makes him tick, what is truly important to him. This might be the best issue yet - and I liked that Jimmy Olsen story a lot, troops - and for the first time in forever, I'm wondering how Superman's going to fight his way out of this one, or even if he can. It's like being 31 going on 9. Faaaaantastic!

Yotsuba&! Vol. 3 - This time out, Yotsuba learns about souvenirs, flowers, zoos, and fireworks the only way she can - loudly, and with a lot of enthusiasm. I don't know what I can say about this that others haven't said about various volumes of the series in the past, but while it may seem too cute to be healthy on the surface, every page I've read so far is pretty much pure joy in printed form. If this can't make you smile even a little bit, then you're probably not someone I'd enjoy knowing. It's as simple as that.

King of Fools

So I think we can all agree that Evil Bully took the April Fool's Day crown, yes?

I mean that literally. He pushed me down, slapped an Agonizer on me, and actually took the crown. Because he's EVIL!

Although I also award points to the Questionable Content / Dinosaur Comics / XKCD three-way switcheroo (oh, the freaky Google hits I'm gonna get off that turn of phrase) for being cleverly frustrating.

Believe nothing you read online today. Except maybe this, actually.

This year's April Fool's joke from Google is kinda clever, but actually sounds kinda creepily like one of the faux-predictions of EPIC 2014: