Pretty Sketchy: Why I Hate Love Saturn (Girl)

(Click to make it Titan-sized.)

I picked up so many sketches at Super Show, I'll have fresh fodder for Pretty Sketchy posts for months. I don't know if I could pick one favorite, but this is definitely among the three or four vying for that top spot: the Legion of Super-Heroes' resident telepath Saturn Girl, rendered by Fred Chao. I'm such a fan of his book Johnny Hiro that I would've been happy to walk away with a napkin scribbling from Fred; getting a full-on sketch from him was an amazing bonus. That he even included a logo and DC go-go checks... I was speechless. And wouldn't you just know it, he's a hell of a nice guy, too. Go buy a copy of Johnny Hiro if you haven't already!

CON!!! (or, That's Really Super, Super Show)

If you've ever been to Reading, PA, you know that it's an odd choice for a weekend getaway. If you've never been to Reading, well, don't go unless you have a reason. It's the town that skeevy built, and nearly unnavigable, even if you have a GPS and maybe a Sherpa. That being said, the Comic Geek Speak Super Show is a hell of a good reason to endure all that.

Born out of the Comic Geek Speak podcast and the community that sprouted up around the CGS forums, it's roughly the size of one of those hotel ballroom cons you've probably been to in the past, but I doubt you've ever been to a con where the creator-to-attendee ratio was this good. There were a few dealers there, sure, and they had some great deals, too (quarter books up the wazoo), but most of the tables were devoted to creators from all across the industry: Walter and Louise Simonson, Gabriel Hardman, Mike Norton, David Petersen, Katie Cook, Chris Eliopoulos, Danielle Corsetto, Kat Rocha & Josh Finney, Dave Wachter, the entire PKD Media crew... I know I'm still forgetting people. Mix in the usual assortment of 501st Legion members, cosplayers, a balloonisimo, other podcasts... don't let the size of the show or the location fool you, folks, this was a great show, and one that you should definitely make an effort to attend in the future.

And here's the haul (minus a pint glass and a Dalek t-shirt, anyway):

I mean, holy crap.

And no, I didn't drag my family to Pennsylvania just for comic book stuff. We also hit the Crayola Factory in Easton (not actually the factory, but the "experience" with lots of hands-on activities and a fun gift shop) and Hershey's Chocolate World in, well, Hershey (also not the actual factory, but you see the entire process in a very Willy Wonka-esque presentation and there's yet another gift shop, of course, and yeah, we stocked up). And while in Hershey, we had one of the better dining experiences of my life (The Chocolate Avenue Grill) and one of the more horribly awkward ones (The Hershey Pantry, where the waitstaff kept dropping stuff and the manager kept yelling at them, and they'd yell back... directly in front of us). But Super Show was definitely the catalyst that set the entire trip into motion, and well worth the effort, sketchy as Reading may be.

But on the plus side, I now know where to buy a 40 at 9:30 a.m. if I ever go back.

Another unintentional low content week.

Between the busyness and then a weekend away, the blog kinda fell by the wayside. Sorry about that. We'll be back online in the next day or so. Your continued patience is always appreciated. As a reward, here's a Wolverine picture. I know how the kids dig the Wolverine.

Unabashed Self-Promotion: "The Bubblegum Defense" on Sounds Good Ink

My first article for Sounds Good Ink, a music blog run by my friend (and old roommate's brother) Justin Stover, just went up, and it'd be just swell if you checked it out, please and thank you. It's part of a rotating feature called Pop Rox, in which various folks talk about the music in their lives, and will hopefully be a quasi-regular thing for me (provided Justin keeps liking my stuff and I can keep my act together, anyway).

But mostly it's the defense of a particular way of life. Or at least the right to eke some enjoyment out of music most people deride.

Check out the rest of the site, too. Justin and co. are working their butts off to make it as good as possible, and there have been a lot of great articles and interviews posted so far (including this one with Trusty Plinko Stick Hall of Famer* Juliana Hatfield). And I'm not just saying that so I'm allowed to write more stuff (though if it helps my case at all... ).

An honor bestowed upon her just now, in case you were wondering.

New BBC America Doctor Who Trailer

Watch it before it's taken down!

April 17th can't get here fast enough.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Try not to vomit everywhere, okay?

Oh, and lay off the whole "pinching people who aren't wearing green" thing. People hate that. They will hit you. Hard.

RIP Peter Graves

Peter Graves wore many hats in his acting career (figuratively, though I'm sure he wore plenty of actual hats, too) - narrator, spy, cowboy, defeater of aliens, soldier, astronaut, Love Boat passenger, airline pilot, enjoyer of gladiator movies, and even a guy who really, really hated sandwiches. He could give a hell of a speech:

And lest we forget, he was also a graduate of the University of Minnesota:

Thanks, Mr. Graves.

The Flush, superhero and apparent stroke victim, talks about a recent comic book.

Goofed around with Xtranormal the other day and made this, a very spastic superhero echoing my views on Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #13.

Shameless Shilling: Wanna buy the Melvin Monster book or an out-of-print Weezer EP?

Because I have them up for sale on eBay right now.

Pretty Sketchy: And another Thing...

Head sketch of the Idol of Millions, The Thing, as drawn for me at BangPop! 2009 by artist Bob Raymond.

Factoid of interest only to me: according to his business card, Bob lives across the street from where my uncle used to live. I thought that was cool, anyway.

Better Late Than Never Reviews: 3/13/10 (Back from the Sickness - I Hope - Edition)

Brief-ish reactions to recently read (though maybe not recently published) comics. Let's get this started before any of us here relapse.

Marvel Divas - Terrible name, arguably worse cover, and yet among the most enjoyable Marvel reads of the past few years. The "Sex & the City with Super Powers" comparison was probably inevitable, but it's nowhere near that vapid and shallow. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa just tells a smart story about four friends supporting each other in their times of need, and they just happen to also be superheroes. And Tonci Zonjic's artwork on this is amazing, very reminiscent of Alex Toth. I'll be keeping an eye out for his work. I love that Marvel continues to experiment with the types of stories they tell with their mid-card and curtain-raiser characters.

(And If you had told me a few years ago that Marvel would put out three different books starring Patsy Walker within the span of a year, and that I'd like them all so much she'd become one of my favorite characters, I'd have never believed you. Comics are awesome like that. Also, more Firestar is never a bad thing.)

The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability - The free preview of the first issue offered through the various iPod comics apps and a subsequent viewing of the first few episodes of the TV series made this a must-buy for me, and it's a terrific book. Javier Grillo-Marxuach creates a fun world in which every comic book and movie trope you can imagine co-exists - mad scientists, talking apes, shady covert agencies, long-lost parents, dead sidekicks, martial arts masters, and gangs of luchadores - and it's up to The Middleman and his reluctant recruit Wendy to stop them. Brilliant fun, drawn in a clean, loose style by Les McLaine for most of the run. If there's any drawback, it's that the TV series was too faithful. I've only seen four episodes, and two of those are taken pretty much verbatim from stories collected here, so there was an awful lot of familiarity. Don't let that hold you back, though, as this is a fun read.

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #13 - After a shaky start with the talented but perpetually late Mike Kunkel, Art Balthazar and Franco have made this my favorite DC book; the only one I still follow monthly, in fact. The art, however, has been... I'll be diplomatic and say inconsistent. With #13, though, Mike Norton joins as the regular artist, and it's the shot in the arm this book has needed. His style is looser, maybe even more expressionist, than a lot of his previous work, but it's still powerful and superhero-y as all hell, worlds beyond what has come before, and maybe even better than Jeff Smith's work on the Monster Society of Evil mini that spawned this series in the first place. At long last, the art matches the story. It finally looks like the all ages, classic superhero book that Balthazar and Franco have been writing all this time, and I finally have the Captain Marvel book I've been wanting for years. If you like things that are good, you'd do well to jump on this ASAP.

S.W.O.R.D. #5 - Kieron Gillen, Steve Sanders, and company did their best, but five issues of S.W.O.R.D. is all we get. Sad, too, because over those five books we got a clever, fun story of betrayal, invasion (several invasions, in fact, one hilariously misinformed), subterfuge, political intrigue, and a cast of characters from, quite literally, all across the Marvel universe. Any book that can easily bring together the likes of Lockheed, Beta Ray Bill, and Death's Head? That's a book I want to read. If only more of you out there felt the same. But hey, if we're going to be getting more MI13 appearances from Paul Cornell, maybe Gillen will get to do more with S.W.O.R.D. sometime, too, which would be appreciated, even if it's just an appearance by Beast and Abigail Brand, the new best couple in comics. Seriously, though, folks, if you haven't been reading this, at least make the effort to check out the trade.

Santo and Blue Demon...

want you to be cool, man. Just be cool.

(The Sickness has been running rampant for the last week or so here at Trusty Plinko Stick World HQ, hence the accidental low-content mode. We'll hopefully be back to full power soon.)

So this one time a dirty magazine publisher got inappropriate pics of a sunbathing She-Hulk, and the guy was totally Stan Lee.

All you have to do is add your own mustache!

So this bit of creative casting on John Byrne's part was done more tongue-in-cheek than those issues where he poked fun at Neal Adams for the expanding earth thing, but still... that's a little weird. And between this and that issue of Action Comics where Superman and Big Barda are coerced into making a gentleman's special interest film, Byrne taught the youth of America a whole lot about the adult entertainment industry (like how it's generally based in the San Fernando Valley and Apokolips, for instance).

Excelsior, kids!

There's a world of fun waiting to sweep you up!

Curling, the hip fad that swept the Manitoba Perm & Mustache Scene in 1986:

The little freakout near the end is what I find most unsettling. Either the safety of those people's families depends on them delivering big laughs for the camera, or else they're out of their minds on meth.

My Misspent Youth: DIY Doctor Who Toys

Warning: it's gonna get pretty nerdy up in here, even compared to the normal Official Trusty Plinko Stick Nerdiness Standards.

I really enjoy the Doctor Who action figures that have come out in the past few years, and they're among the few toys I still collect (on the rare occasion availability, my budget, and/or present-receiving holidays make that possible, anyway). But as awesome as they look on my nerd cave shelves, I would've loved to have had these to play with as a kid. When I first got into Doctor Who, there weren't even over-priced imported (and, let's be honest, poorly made*) Dapol figures yet (those would come a couple years later, right around the time I would start buying toys purely mostly for display).

So I did what any dorky kid with too much time and imagination would do: I made my own. Or rather repurposed my own, at any rate. Post-Return of the Jedi, the Star Wars toy line dried up, you'll remember, and interest waned. Sure, I still loved the movies, but I hardly ever used the toys anymore, preferring then-still-active concerns like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Masters of the Universe. But all those Star Wars figures were still had a hell of a lot of play value left in them, of course, so they formed the backbone of my new DIY Doctor Who universe.

Here were the major players.

Han Solo (Bespin outfit) as The Doctor
So this was a later incarnation of the Doctor. Colin Baker was still in the role when I started, and I knew that eventually there'd be a 7th Doctor down the line sooner or later, so I decided Han here would be the 9th... far enough down the line that I wouldn't worry about a new actor not matching my version, but not so far along as to be near the end of his life. Many years later, I found it funny that the actual 9th Doctor wore a short, dark coat.

(And no, he didn't use a gun... just couldn't find a pic that lacked it. In fact, assume that just about any accessories you see in the pictures went unused.)

Luke Skywalker (Bespin fatigues) as a prior Doctor (eventually 5)
Obviously there had to be at least one previous Doctor for the inevitable multiple Doctor stories. And while I think I initially decided Luke would be playing the part of #8, it soon dawned on me that if I stuck him in the white robe that came with the disguised Indiana Jones figure from the Raiders of the Lost Ark Map Room playset, I had a good enough 5th Doctor. And seeing as Peter Davison was my favorite of the TV Doctors at the time, I was pretty pleased with myself.

Lobot as, well, Lobot
The epitome of "no spoken lines and yet they still get a figure" original trilogy characters, Lobot was still one of my favorite Star Wars figures. Maybe it was the headphones or the puffy sleeves, I dunno. Anyway, he was a friend and sometime traveling companion of the Doctor, and he had such an awesome name I felt no need to change it.

Another awesome cameo-only Star Wars character who nabbed himself a larger role as a companion. And remember, these were the days before any of these guys had actual names and complex backstories, so Hammerhead was his name and he liked it that way.

Earth-based adventures never went well for poor Hammerhead.

Obi-Wan Kenobi as the Master
Ben, sans cape and long-lost lightsaber, was an older incarnation of the Master. Partially because his figure always looked kinda sinister, but mostly because the lightsaber hilt built into his hand was a decent representation of the Master's tissue compression eliminator gun thing. Eventually he'd regenerate into...

Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight) as the regenerated Master
Back in black, and now younger than the Doctor to boot.

Medical Droid FX-7 as a new Dalek
Because you have to have the Daleks, even if you have to say it's a new form of Dalek, and even if you have to have just one standing in for their entire pepperpot race. In any event, they found all of the new arms useful, I'm sure.

Boba Fett
Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Of course, this Fett was yet another renegade Time Lord who went around dressed in battle armor and killin' people for money. And I gave him some sort of connection to Rassilon and/or Omega that granted him some sort of legit control of Gallifrey once he decided he wanted it, which I thought was an interesting plot development, anyway.

Walrus Man
Because Walrus Man was awesome, that's why, even if his original figure made it look like he was wearing a life preserver.

Of course, not every person in my little Doctor Who universe was originally a Star Wars figure. Indiana Jones showed up a few times, as did several Adventure People (Astro Knight in particular), the occasional G.I. Joe or two, and even some of the 3 3/4 sized Mego figures like Buck Rogers or the Dukes of Hazzard (though not as themselves). Most notable among the Mego members of the cast, though, were these guys:

Yes, not unlike thousands of fanfic writers, I had the Doctor interact with the crew of the Enterprise. At one point, they had been sent to try and persuade Gallifrey to join the Federation. Looking back, I question how smart it was to send Captain Punchy McSkirtchaser to appeal to as austere a people as the Time Lords, but hey, it made sense at the time.

*Not that that has stopped me from picking up the Dapol toys of the 7th Doctor, a Dalek, a Cyberman, and the TARDIS over the years. Used to have a K9, too, but he broke.