Thanks, that was fun.

As is probably obvious to everyone, I think Trusty Plinko Stick has pretty much run its course.  And for something I started as a lark to make myself write a little more frequently, one that I figured wouldn't last a year, a few months shy of 8 years is a pretty good run.

But family, work, grad school, life in general... everything's been busier and crazier than ever the past year or two, and I just haven't had the time, energy, or even the inclination to amp things up again (not that this was ever especially amped, but you get the idea).  Plus, a lot of the other folks who came into the comics bloggyverse around the same time I did have long since wandered off to other locales, often using their blogs as stepping stones to other opportunities (and good for them, I say).  The latter never really happened for me, but a.) I didn't really pursue that; and b.) my interests tend to lie elsewhere anyway.  And, if I'm being honest, I probably overstayed my welcome by about 2 to 3 years, but what can I say, I like to hang on to a good time for as long as I can.

The internet will never completely be rid of me, of course.  I'll still be lurking in the comments threads of the blogs I still follow, and I sporadically post on Tumblr:
And I can also be found on Twitter (@billdoughty for personal stuff, @librarypadawan for work-related things).  If you're so inclined, please feel free to follow my ramblings at any of those locales.

Thanks to those bloggers who have inspired and encouraged me (Joanna, Mikester, and Dorian especially, but there are many others too numerous to list here; chances are if you think you're one of them, you are), and most especially thanks to those of you who have read these little screeds of mine for any length of time through the years.  It's always nice to know I haven't just been screaming (or typing) into the wind all this time.

As always, Mayberry says thanks and happy motoring.

Bill D.

- 30 -


Avengers vs X-Men is probably better than it should be and that's perfectly okay.

The dull, joyless slog of Infinite Crisis killed my interest in following event comics on a monthly basis, and the heavy-handedness and/or missed opportunities of Civil War, Secret Invasion, and the like led me to pretty much giving up on them in collected form, too.  But the now-running Avengers Vs. X-Men series... I dunno, man, maybe I was still on a high from the Avengers movie, maybe the word of mouth was interesting me, I'm not sure, but a few weeks in I decided I had to cave and check it out.  And now I'm caught up with issues 0 through 3 and the first part of the Vs. spin-off that just showcases specific fights, and I'm pretty much in.

I think what I like best about this is that even though I do think the story is good, and I like the ideological stand-off between Captain America and Cyclops in this (and that neither is handling things as well as they probably could or should), what I actually respect the most is the unabashed way in which the company is admitting that this story is all about This One Story and the Fight That Drives It.  No awkward political overlays, no BS attempts to "change the Marvel Universe forever" that everyone knows will never take... it's just "let's get our coolest toys out of the box and make 'em fight."  Sometimes that's not such a bad thing.  It's certainly the main reason why most Marvel fans of my generation still enjoy the original Secret Wars even though it is, at heart, a pretty thin story.  But it was big, it was fun, and it didn't take itself too seriously despite the stakes.

WAY too many tie-ins, though.  No way am I picking up every single Avengers or X-Men title just see the smaller story tributaries.  I might pick a few up in trade if I hear specific ones are good, but we'll see.

So yeah, AvX.  Who knew?

How does 200 pages of comics for the low, low price of Free Ninety-Free sound?

So the fine folks at Action Lab, publishers of such diverse bits of comic bookery as the superhero series Fracture, horror one-shot Snowed In, time travel/slice of life graphic novella Back in the Day, and the multiple Eisner-nominated all ages series Princeless have released Action Lab Confidential, a 200+ page anthology chock full of preview material for their existing and upcoming books.  It's available for download over at their site - and a few other digital comics outlets I forget right now, so if you have a favorite, check there - for zero dollars and zero cents.  Not one shekel.  Cheap as free!  How do you beat that?  I've met a lot of these folks, and they're good people making comics because they love comics, plain and simple.  Support a good cause - fun comics for a wide variety of audiences.  It'll cost you nothing but your time.

Cartoon Crushes: Earth's Mightiest Edition

I've thought the Wasp was a fun character ever since I first discovered her in the early 80s in the pages of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars (my introduction to the Marvel Universe beyond the occasional issue of Spider-Man, FF, or Captain America I'd pick up before that point), but the version of her that appears on Disney XD's Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon has me completely swoony. Spunky, determined, funny, tough as nails when she needs to be... sure, she sometimes seems flighty (appropriate, maybe, given her powers and size), but she's clearly smarter than she lets on and serious when she needs to be. It's easy to see why even a stick-in-the-mud like Hank Pym likes having her around.

The wings, funky antennae, and only-in-cartoons hairstyle sure don't hurt, either.  Add in some hip glasses and a cardigan and...

But maybe I've said too much.

I went to Boston Comic Con and all I got was these pics (and a bunch of other stuff)

As I mentioned in Wednesday's Pretty Sketchy post, I went to Boston Comic Con last weekend.  I've been wanting to go for a few years now, but every year something always managed to conflict.  This year was wide open for me, though, so I was finally able to attend, and while I've missed getting to watch it grow, it was still impressive to see that it has become a pretty big show.  Not New York or San Diego big, mind you, but a lot bigger than I was expecting.  And since I was only able to go on Saturday, it was pretty crowded, too.  And I had my son with me, who tends to tire out early on.  But we still managed to get a good two hours in before he descended into a full whine, and considering his previous record at one of these was maybe 30 minutes, I'm taking the win.  So we didn't get to see everything, but we saw quite a bit and enjoyed what we did.  Here are some highlights:

The line ahead of us to get in:

And behind (which wrapped quite a ways around the building!):

Captain the Kiddo waits in line:

Mr. T and Blade:

Aquaman and Mera:

Robin, Black Bat (Betty Felon herself), Spoiler, and Raven:

Rule 63 11th Doctor and TARDIS:

Another 11th Doctor and Carl Sagan (had to shake that guy's hand):

The awesomely friendly and talented Stephanie Buscema (from whom I bought this awesome Batgirl print):

Katie Cook, from whom we bought 4 different mini-paintings (so yes, more Pretty Sketchy posts to come there):

Our swag for the day:

Wish I could've gotten more pictures, but the opportunities weren't always there.  But a lot of great things to see - Ghostbusters, 501st Legion folk, awesome artwork and displays, and a lot more really great cosplay than I was honestly expecting.  Nose around the con's Facebook page and check it out.  A lot of people really did themselves up well.

In all, a good show, and I'm looking forward to going back next year.  And it looks like Rhode Island will finally be getting a con of its own come November, which is also pretty exciting.  Are there too many now?  Maybe, but so long as we start getting a few more within a reasonable travel distance, I'm perfectly okay with that.

Pretty Sketchy: Sometimes even the fish give Aquaman crap.

The 8th issue of DC's excellent new Aquaman series by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis came out today, so what better time to share this Katie Cook watercolor mini-painting I picked up at this past weekend's excellent (if crowded) Boston Comic Con?

R.I.P. Dick Clark

If I'm being completely honest, I associate Dick Clark more with TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes and the Pyramids of varying denominations more than I do with American Bandstand.  I'm not ignorant of AB, nor of its legendary place in American pop culture, but I was never really into dance shows or Top 40.  But regardless of all that, Dick Clark was a true American cultural icon for decades, and one I always enjoyed watching no matter what particular cathode rays he happened to be riding into my den.  A heartfelt R.I.P. to the man who will always be America's oldest teenager, and a guy who was never afraid to let his dipthong dip in public.

Their Readers Wrote - Dave Cockrum in Amazing Spider-Man #12

I was looking through the "40 Years of the Amazing Spider-Man" CD-ROM set tonight and was reading one of my favorite early issues of the Stan Lee / Steve Ditko run, issue #12, cover dated May 1964, "Unmasked by Dr. Octopus!," when I noticed this letter in the back:

Well, it seems Mr. Dave Cockrum of Fort Collins, Colorado, had an eye for snappy comic book costume design from a young age!  Kinda hard not to see the influence of Ditko's designs for Electro, Spidey, and others in Cockrum's later Legion of Super-Heroes and X-Men work, now that I think about it.

Letter columns of the early Marvel Age are gold, my friends.

The digital divide just got a little bit smaller.

I've been hesitant to jump on the digital comics bandwagon. Not that I'm morally opposed to it or anything, I've just always felt a little weird about paying for content I don't physically own, the same-as-cover pricing felt wrong for something so ephemeral, and I only own an iPhone, not a tablet. I've downloaded some freebies (legally, at that), and though the phone-sized pan-and-scan of panels is not my preferred reading method, I don't aggressively mind it (reminds me of those clipped black & white mass market paperback editions of World of Krypton or Untold Legend of the Batman, actually). But I didn't see any reason to buy anything digitally.

Well, Comixology, you finally managed to get me thanks to this little ploy:

Well played, people. Well played.

I have a lot of the classic Legion material in reprints, a lot of 70s through the 90s in floppies, and not a lot of interest in the current stuff (I'll get to it eventually, I'm sure, it just doesn't float my boat right now), so I thought I'd pass this by like so many other sales, but I saw that they had LSH #s 124 & 125 and Legionnaires #81, the 3 part Widening Rifts story that bridges Legion of the Damned and Legion Lost, which hasn't been reprinted, and is damn hard to find (and when you do, it's frequently expensive). Then they had Superboy #195, the first appearance of my favorite Legionnaire, Wildfire. And at 99 cents apiece, well, they had me.

And this, I think is a big victory for Comixology, and digital comics as a whole. Admittedly I'm not dead-set against digital comic bookery, but I wasn't a big fan, either. And by giving me a product I want (one I have yet to find affordably in physical format) at a price I was willing to pay, they convinced me to jump aboard despite any reservations I had, and even though I'm only reading them on a phone!

Am I a dedicated digital reader now? No. I'm not going to read all of my comics on a tiny phone screen, the usual price point is, I think, too high for something you won't actually own IRL, DRM annoys me, and I still prefer the look, feel, and size of the physical book overall. But I'm also not unlikely to avoid digital altogether, either, and that's probably a big deal in the long run.

But, seriously, $2.99 to $3.99 for a comic book is stupid enough for a printed copy. For a digital one, it's downright ludicrous.

Shazam-A-Day and the new new NEW Captain Marvel

The current state of Captain Marvel Shazam got you down? Well, it does me, too, so I did something about it: Shazam-A-Day, a (mostly) once-daily Tumblr devoted to the Big Red Cheese and his various friends, family, and hangers-on.

It's light, it's fun, it takes less than a minute of your valuable everyday internet time, it snaffles caps off any size jug, bottle, or jar, and it really, really works.

Shazam-A Day. Won't you?

Speaking of the Captain Marvel legacy, Marvel says that it's now going to give the name to the apparently-soon-to-be former Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, in a title next year written by Kelley Sue DeConnick.

I am really excited about this. I've become a big fan of Carol in the past few years, reading appearances from her original series and more recent book, as well as various Avengers stints. She hasn't always been treated particularly well, but that seems to have changed from about the House of M event on (which, IIRC, was first place she took the Captain Marvel title), and she's even gotten some good exposure in the Ultimate Alliance games, the Avengers and Super Hero Squad cartoons, toys, and the like. She has more than earned the role, so the promotion from Ms. to Captain feels both well-earned and natural (especially considering her military background). And DeConnick is a terrific writer, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with the series. My only complaint is that we have to wait until 2013 to get this.

The Shambling Un-Alive: Why I Think I Don't Appreciate The Walking Dead

Try as I might, I just cannot get into The Walking Dead. Now, this isn't hate for hate's sake. It's not even really hate. It's not me trying to be ironic or hip or cool or anything, either, because if history has taught me anything, it's that I'm not cool and, to paraphrase Zaphod Beeblebrox, so unhip it's a wonder my bum doesn't fall off. The fact that I just paraphrased Zaphod Beeblebrox should prove my point pretty well on that score. But I digress.

Anyway, I do think The Walking Dead is a well-made show. Effects are great, performances are fine, and they do claustrophobic tension really well, so I can see why so many people are eating this up... um, so to speak. It's just not grabbing me, though. And I gave it plenty of chances... I watched the entire first season, and since my wife still watches, I do see bits and pieces of it when I get home on Sunday nights. But it's just Not For Me.

I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out why this is such televisual crack to so many people but not me. At first I thought it was because I wasn't much of a horror fan to begin with, and that I also didn't care much for the comic book. And then I figured it was just too bleak for me... I've never cared much for post-apocalyptic survival fiction in any form, after all. Hell, that's why I like superheroes so much... I want to see triumph over seemingly unbeatable odds. Brightest day eventually following blackest night and all that.

But a week or two back, it finally dawned on me: I don't like a single one of the characters. I'm fine with the actors, I think they play their parts well. And the writing itself is decent, if a bit heavy on the melodrama and shock-value-as-plot. But those characters, there's not a one of them I'm rooting for, and in fact, really wouldn't mind seeing them get eaten. Especially the son of Sheriff Love Actually Guy. Look kid, when someone tells you to go stay in the house, STAY IN THE DAMN HOUSE, alright? If the future of humanity rests in this group of people, well, I'm throwing in with Team Zombie. I suspect if the show were actually about the zombies trying to eat this group of people every week, I'd be a much bigger fan.

Eat 'em up, eat 'em up, munch munch munch.

Now Game of Thrones, on the other hand, that can't start up again soon enough. Bring on Peter Dinklage and his reminders that his family stays current on their financial obligations!

R.I.P. Davy Jones

Seeing yesterday that Davy Jones had died of a heart attack at the too-young age of 66, well, that one hurt. The Monkees was one of my first favorite shows as a little kid, thanks to reruns, and along with the contemporaneous Batman, Warner Brothers cartoons, and various Muppet projects, it was one of the major factors that shaped the sens of humor I have to this day. I still remember the effect that seeing Mickey Dolenz walk off set to visit the writers mid-scene had on my then 4 or 5 year old brain... I had seen Bugs and Daffy or Kermit and Fozzie break the fourth wall like that, but seeing actual people do it, well, I had never realized that was even possible.

And the music of the Monkees... say what you will about their origins and their input, but even their loudest detractors cannot deny that they were involved on varying levels with some of the greatest pop music ever recorded.

The group's 20th anniversary reunion tour stop in my hometown of Bangor, ME, in 1986 was my first real concert. And several years I got to see Davy perform solo when he toured with The Real Live Brady Bunch stage show (which performed Brady episodes verbatim... with lots of added innuendo, of course). And both times I was amazed that he still had the moves and charm that seemed so effortless as a younger man. It was still pretty effortless then, too, come to think of it. The man was a born performer, no question about it.

I associate the Monkees with lots of good times, often in the company of good people, and Davy was always a huge part of the enjoyment there. For that, I will always be grateful. Thanks, Davy.

A thing of nerdy beauty is a joy forever (or, I now own one of my Comics Holy Grails and I am happy dancing like you would not believe.)

I'm not a big collector of original comic art outside of convention sketches. Not because I don't enjoy it, but because it's usually a pretty pricey proposition (come to think of it, convention sketches are getting pricey, too, which is why I tend to get most of my sketching done by small press indie artists these days... I don't deny artists the right to ply their trade for the opportunity to pay their bills, but at the end of the day, I need to pay my bills, too). I used to own a great John Byrne Avengers West Coast page, but it wasn't anything I was attached to, so when I had to sell it to pay for car repairs or something about 10 years ago, it wasn't the end of the world.

That isn't to say that there aren't original pages I wouldn't like to own, though. There are about a dozen or so I can clearly remember seeing and thinking "now THAT is something I'd love to have on my wall." Well, I got home from work the other night to find that my wife had surprised me by getting one of these for me, Page 23 Tales of the Unexpected (2006 series) #5, the first page from that issue's chapter of the Doctor Thirteen story "Architecture and Morality," drawn by Cliff Chiang.

The story, if you've never read it, is a brilliantly metatextual work from Chiang and writer Brian Azzarello about the state of DC Comics at the time and, shall we say, less popular character concepts' places in their publishing stable (though Traci Thirteen got pretty popular following the story, I... Vampire's Andrew Bennett has bounced back quite well, and Captain Fear is going to be in that new Walt Simonson graphic novel, but I digress). This page, which as I said begins Chapter 5, was probably my favorite from the whole story. It has almost nothing to do with the story itself, per se, but look at it. There's Funky Flashman, DC's own Stan Lee doppelganger. A whole lot full of Batmobiles from various media. The God Damn Supermobile. Yeah, this was meant for me on an atomic level. And now I own it, thanks to my wife, who is the best wife. Other wives, good though they may be, are #2 or lower. Sorry, folks.

(Another cool thing... when I posted this pic on my Tumblr the other day, Cliff Chiang himself liked it. I geeked out even more about that.)

Inevitably, I got out my Architecture and Morality trade paperback to compare the original to the finished page, and I thought this was interesting (sorry for the crappy pics, I only had my phone handy).

From the original, what I'm pretty sure is supposed to be the version of the Batmobile from Super Friends:

And the same car in the published version:

Not a big difference, but noticeable enough when compared to the original. I wonder how come the change? Copyright/trademark issues, or just artistic (or editorial) preference? I may never know, but still, it's interesting to speculate. Are you out there, Cliff or Brian? Any chance you could clear this up?

Who watched the Watchmen previous to the watching that chronologically happened later?

So unless you've been living in a hole today, you've probably heard about Before Watchmen, the non-Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen prequel, by now

Like most people of a comic reading inclination, I like Watchmen a whole lot. But I've never had any desire for a continuation of the story in any direction, prequel or sequel. It stands alone, it says exactly what Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons wanted to say, and it does the job damn well. The idea of getting more of that world, especially from different creative minds, never sat well with me. But mostly, I just wasn't interested. In fact, there are only a handful of names that would arouse my curiosity enough to make me check out anything like this.

Yeah, Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner are both in that handful, particularly thanks to the idea of them working together. Points to DC for generating interest in me where previously there was none.

Blatant shilling

Looking for a Metadata textbook (Metadata for Digital Collections by Steven Miller)? A 2011 Lego Kids Fest commemorative brick? An exclusive Star Wars Shadow ARF Trooper Lego Minifig (still sealed)? A complete run of Crisis on Infinite Earths?

Yeah, I can hook you up with those. Check out my eBay listings if you're so inclined. They're fixed price or best offer listings, so make me a deal.

What's in a name? Or, "Hi, I'm Shazam. (BOOOOOM!) Dang it!"

So the word from DC is that Captain Marvel will no longer be called Captain Marvel but, instead, Shazam, because (sayeth Geoff Johns) "everybody thinks he's Shazam already, outside of comics" (and because they can finally nail down that trademark lock, stock, and barrel without having to constantly answer the question "Why can't they just call the book Captain Marvel?").

Do I think it's lame? Yeah, I do. But given that every single comic book or piece of related merchandise since 1973 has had SHAZAM in large, friendly letters on the cover with only the barest mention of the name Captain Marvel (if at all), I'm actually kind of surprised it took them this long to finally do it.

But, nomenclature aside, this is still my favorite superhero ever we're talking about here, and so long as the stories are good, I don't really care what they call him. And I'm legitimately curious to see if Shazam will still be Billy's magic word (but why wouldn't it be?), if that means he'll have a really hard time introducing himself to people, and what this means for the possibilities of seeing Freddy and Mary this go-round (Freddy especially, since not being able to say his own superhero name was always his burden).

Besides, a name change is probably the least damaging thing DC has done to the Big Red Cheese in the last 10 years. We should count our blessings.

(Of course, now I worry people are going to go around asking if Shazam is the superhero with the power to identify any song, but we'll worry about that when and if that actually happens.)

Top 12 Comics of 2011

Is it too late for a Best of 2011 list? Probably. Is that going to stop me? Nope. Just because I've fallen behind doesn't mean I don't still have opinions to share. So here are my top 12 comics of 2011 (because I couldn't really pare it down to 10 without feeling bad, and besides donuts come in twelves, and they're good, so...), presented in the best way possible, alphabetical order, a system of organization so effective they went and actually named the alphabet after it.*

The Adventures of Superhero Girl - Faith Erin Hicks' weekly webcomic about the everyday problems of a superhero is exactly the sort of genre send-up I enjoy: it plays with the established tropes, sure, but it never goes right out and calls attention to them in that "WE'RE MAKING JOKES ABOUT THINGS YOU KNOW LAUGH NOW PLEASE" sort of way and instead weaves them into the fabric of the story in such a way as to make them completely accepted, normal, and even mundane. It's Hicks' artwork and comedic timing that make this excellent. That it also features ninjas and a Bear with a Monocle is just icing on the cake.

Animal Man - Grant Morrison's Animal Man run is one of my most favorite superhero comics ever, so much so that I've long been afraid to read almost anything else featuring Buddy Baker and family for fear that it won't live up. Jeff Lemire brings the goods here, though, with a story that is frequently compelling and ALWAYS freeeeeeeaaaaakkkkkyyyy. Travel Foreman's artwork is the perfect, terrifying complement to the story, though I'm now legitimately afraid to ever meet the man because if this is the sort of imagery he's capable of, what must he be like in real life?

Aquaman - I enjoy me some Aquaman (remember, I'm a certified Friend of Aquaman!), so I was excited to see Arthur get a regular series again, but my experience with Geoff Johns' work has always been hit and miss. When I think he's on, I think he's one of the best storytellers around, and when he's off, well, I want that character dismembering punk as far away from my kid as the law will allow. Luckily, it's the former Johns that has showed up (so far) for this Aquaman series, and though I worried at first he was taking the "Aquaman is the Rodney Dangerfield of the JLA" thing a bit too far, it's clear he both wants to tell good stories and prove to the world once and for all that Aquaman is so much more than the guy who "talks to fish." Good on ya, Geoff. Keep it up, and stay away from sharp objects, okay?

Batgirl - I truly regret that I didn't really discover this book until the end of its run, especially since going back and reading from the beginning in the trades proved that this was a fun, unique read from issue #1. Steph Brown has frequently gotten the shit end of the stick as a character, and being brushed aside for Babs' return as the New 52 Batgirl just continues that trend. But for a couple years, at least, she got to soar, strut her stuff, and prove to be one of the most trustworthy members of the Bat-family at last. This was proof that you can still tell stories that are both exciting and fun within the confines of the ever-darkening DC Universe, so thanks for restoring my faith, Bryan Q. Miller. I will be re-reading these trades soon, you be sure of that, and if any book on this list stands out as my very favorite of the year, it is this one.

Batman - Sometimes you just want a Batman book where he does a little detective work, uses cool gadgets, and kicks people in creative ways. Scott Snyder has been delivering that in spades, and is telling an exciting yarn to boot. The Court of Owls and their assassin the Talon have been among the best villain created to fight Batman in years, and if there's anything that will keep me on this book despite the upcoming price increase and threatened crossover, it's that. Greg Capullo's artwork is fantastic, too. Haven't seen his work since I dropped Spawn WAAAAAAAAAY back in the early 90s, and I may need to now go back and see what else he's been up to since.

Comic Book Comics - The history of comics, as interpreted by Ryan Dunlavey and Fred Van Lente, has been an amazing, if frustratingly sporadic, read. Even on the rare occasion when I disagreed with one of their conclusions, I still thought their points were well-argued and, of course, entertainingly presented. As good as their Action Philosophers was, I liked this even better, and hope we'll still be getting their promised Action Presidents somewhere down the line.

Daredevil - Never been much of a Daredevil fan, if only because even the good stuff just constantly kept loading up the Matt Murdock Pity Party Train. I'm just not interested in a character who never has anything good happen to him (yet again, I chalk this up to modern creators failing to understand what it was that actually made Frank Miller's 80s output so good). Mark Waid, though, has really turned this around and made the unthinkable (to me) happen: making me not only want to read Daredevil, but also making a Top of Stack book whenever it comes out. His take on the character, his clever use of Matt's powers, the characters and situations he's adding to the pile... it's all top shelf stuff. Add in artists like Paolo River and Marcos Marting getting to go to town with their excellent senses of storytelling and page design, and yeah, this is must-read stuff.

Demon Knights - Even though I like Paul Cornell, I was initially planning on skipping this one because I'm not a big Fantasy fan, and I also kind of hate Etrigan the Demon. Glad I gave this a shot, though, because so far it has been a hell of a ride, like a really good Dungeons and Dragons session, but with characters who kinda-sorta skirt the definition of superheroes (or at least occasionally interact with them). Even though this initial arc has been largely "getting the band together," it's still interesting to see how these very different characters are interacting and learning to co-exist.

Hark! A Vagrant - Everyone loves Hark! A Vagrant, so there's probably not a lot I need to write here other than to add my name to the list of fans. So whether Kate Beaton is telling jokes about history, interpreting the plots to Nancy Drew novels based on the covers alone, or having snarky fun with Wonder Woman, I'm in.

Jimmy Olsen One-Shot - Most of this originally came out in 2010, and it was excellent then, but I'm glad we got to read the rest of Nick Spencer and RB Silva's Jimmy Olsen feature that originally ran in Action Comics (before being cut off), because the story stayed outstanding right up until the end. Spencer's version of Jimmy, an extension of the Silver Age and All Star Superman versions who were normal enough guys who just happened to lead bat-shit insane lives due to being Superman's pal, was exactly the sort of Jimmy Olsen I've been wanting to read about for years, and would have gladly followed into a full-fledged series. The one-two punch of Spencer going Marvel exclusive and DC rebooting their entire universe made it pretty clear that this was never going to happen, but that doesn't mean I don't still want it to all the same.

Moriarty - Though initially curious, I was afraid that this would be just another merely-okay-at-best comic taking advantage of the fact that Sherlock Holmes and company were in the public domain and popular again due to the BBC series and Guy Ritchie movies, but the first issue quickly put those fears to rest. Daniel Corey's take on Holmes' archenemy, Professor James Moriarty, and the world he now inhabits (having actually survived Reichenbach Falls) is a fascinating one. Moriarty, of course, is Not A Nice Person, but a compelling protagonist all the same. Add in a plot twist at the end of the first arc that I kind of expected but not in the way it was developed, and it's easy to see how I got hooked, and why I think more people should be reading this.

Snarked! - Roger Langridge's previous works, especially his Muppet Show comics, have all been good, but Snarked! is, I think, his best yet. It's the best parts of Disney and Warner Brother cartoons, 30s screwball comedy, fairy tales, adventure stories, sea shanties, and all manner of other influences all served up in a coating of Lewis Carroll. But you don't even need to be a big Carroll fan to enjoy this, I don't think. Maybe you'll get the references a little better if you are, but those are mostly just Easter eggs, and you'll be completely able to enjoy this even if you're only vaguely familiar with the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland (like me). Brilliant, and brilliantly funny.

*At least that's what I heard.

Yes, this blog is still a thing, and no, it isn't going anywhere.

But, you know, life is busy, given the whole full-time job (with terrible hours), full-time family (with all-the-time hourse), and part-time grad school thing, it's hard to keep up with regularly. Add in the holiday season and a whole lot of illness and family tragedy that made this The Worst December Ever, and things even more neglecty than usual. But I still can't bring myself to pull the plug, so here it sits, waiting for content and, hopefully, people who still care to see it. Hoping to get some more stuff up on here in the next few weeks, though, before school's back in session and bloggy time gets more sporadic again. So, please, stay tuned for that if you're so inclined.

In the meantime, I've been getting a bit more active lately over on my Tumblr, Better Living Through Junk Culture. All quick hits of stuff, but hey, it's something.