Thursday, February 26, 2009

End of February

Here's how this is going to go down.
I'm going to state a lesson learned from each of the entries that I didn't give a proper review to.

Doctor Immortalis - The techno-speak is very good. I am an electrician and I whole-heartedly approve of the solid tech descriptions. The lesson learned is that you can't skimp on the details.

Fire and Water - I learn the value of good inks. This is a beautiful looking comic even though it's mostly black and white.

Gravedust - I like the design. It's spare, but not lazy. Everything that is worth realizing is realized fully. There's some good cartooning and some lovely cross-hatching. I am a sucker for cross-hatching.

Indie - I learned something unexpected, because I never would've imagined that I'd enjoy a Zuda entry in this particular format. I think that the writing does a good job at using stereotype without BEING stereotype, if you understand what I mean.

Ninjas from Ibiza - I was starkly reminded of Bleach and that made me look closer at the pacing. I found a '5 panel rhythm' developed briefly for the fight scene and that's prompted me to take a look at other action comics to see if something similar holds true in terms of the frequency of action beats

Operation: Nazi U - I witnessed 8 pages of good layouts. All the action is so clear it's a joy to look at. It's a shame that Kirby comparisons are dominating the talkback because it's not just a pretty art style. This is pretty slick storytelling. Also the colored page 7 looks FANTASTIC. Much love for ONU

Part-Time Magic - I took an idea for colors from here, I was inspired by this with an idea for my own comic, although I'd take it in a slightly different direction.
I also love the directness. Doesn't beat around the bush too much, all the unnecessary crap is weeded out.

Splitting Atoms - Reinforced the value of a smart sci-fi concept as a reflection of current events and it reinforced the value of a slick art style.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back from my un-announced hiatus

I've been thinking about baby stuff and job stuff and honestly haven't been paying attention to comics much this past week and a half, but now I want to get into things again. I have some catching up to do.

I think it's best if I skip ahead to my review of 'The Hammer'. If you're a regular Zudie you might have caught me in a moment of weakness earlier this month.
As an art critic, there's great value in maintaining some sense of objectivity about the works I'm reviewing. It's hard to take me seriously if I'm pimping my friends all the time, isn't it? I'm dangerously close to the edge this month and now I've no choice but to justify my vote, so that's what I'm going to do.
I'm not going to pull any punches but I'm also going to make what I feel is a very strong case for 'The Hammer'.

The Hammer - Sam Little, Gabe Ostley, Rob Berry, Steve Steiner

When you first see page one I want you to think about all the other competitors that came before and consider that it is not only rare for an entry to start out with a splash page but also an entry that dives into the action immediately.
A hook.
Now think about that one too.
'The' hook is a hook. A right hook to the face.

In the lower right is a little line of dialog which gives a voice to our protagonist (sadly un-named, so one demerit to Mr. Little for that gaffe) and identifies the antogonist.
However, that's a very dangerous line of dialog. It's so clearly Sin City. Close your eyes and picture Marv speaking, but then open them and take in the reality of a huge pink bunny.
Thank God for anthropomorphic characters to take the edge off.
Had this been played 'straight' it would've been a turn-off. Too obviously derivative. Turning the protagonist into the Easter Bunny turns the thing on it's ear (pun intended) and makes it a cousin to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead.

The Turtles played it pretty straight of course. The 'once and done' shock of seeing talking walking turtles playing out a riff on an earlier style of Frank Miller's sets up a sort of blueprint that 'The Hammer' can follow, (or not follow) the statement having been made already that this is NOT a strict send-off of Sin City but rather maybe an homage or a commentary.
We are sent a clear message from the creators that there is an idea germinating beneath the surface.

If you're familiar with Scott McCloud's 'six steps' then you should recognize 'idea' as an endpoint in the creator's journey. The goal of a master creator.
Now I don't mean to suggest that the presence of an idea is grounds for enshrining these four in the comic book hall of fame, but I think that it's mighty damn impressive that so much craft was expressed in just that one page.
Shit. One PANEL.

Moving right along. Pages 2-4 serve mainly as exposition for the story proper, a bit of an action scene, some solid cartooning and a bloody little beatdown to set the mood, but page 5 is where they REALLY get you.
Bones Charlie looms over the cityscape, blood trickling down from the top of the page and seperating the actions of Calvin's walk through the city, giving a sense of the passing of time to the scene and dialing the dark mood up to 11.
Well.... 11 minus whatever points must be subtracted for the presence of a tall pink bunny in a leather coat. Ahem.
And Calvin's monologue ties everything together and makes very clear what this story is going to be about. Cut, wrap, print. Most Zuda entries would be happy to get even this far into the establishment of their plot but fortunately for all of us fans there's still 3 pages to read.

Page 6 has us back into the thick of the action again, and page 7 leads us into another nice splash page.
Imagine, two splash pages and yet I'm not feeling gypped on story.
The final page is another very nice mood piece. Actually just that page alone provides us with most of the necessary plot information. Consider it the closing statement. You could read just page 8 and feel like you've got some idea of what's going on. Calvin even looks slightly heroic as he stands there thinking about bashing someone's head in with a hammer.

So I'm sure you've rarely seen me so effusive in praise for a comic. It is true, I very much enjoyed 'The Hammer' and I certainly feel that it's worthy of my February vote, but I stop just short of suggesting an instant win and I withhold the golden standard of 'five star comic'.
But why?
I wasn't happy about the fact that the protagonist was not named in the comic. That's a bit of a pet peeve of mine. Not really a major point when judging the total craft of the submission mind you, but totally annoying.
The pencils are just a little bit too cartoony for my tastes. Although I'd have been mortified to see a strict interpretation of Frank Miller's high contrast work, I do think that there's a bit of a disconnect at times between Sam's gritty-sounding dialog and Gabe's funny bunny faces.
I think Rob Berry could've exacerbated this problem a little bit as well, although not through any particular fault of his own. I LOVE his inks. I instantly knew that he'd be the inker when I first saw his name listed on this project, but he's got a brush style that comes off as slightly 'whimsical' at times and although I can see how much he toned it down, it's still in there a little bit. Another stylistic disconnect.
And since I'm an equal opportunity complainer, I didn't particularly care for the thick red 'claw marks as motion lines' that Steve Steiner most likely bears the responsibility for.
If I were further along in my color theory education I'm sure I'd have something more useful to add than this, but I did think that the colors were beautifully done.

So there you have it. 4 stars, best in show, fave and vote. If I have any advice to give it would be that it's probably difficult for a group of four individuals to come together and mesh perfectly the first time out of the gate. Given more time to learn about each other I'm sure that the idiomatic complaints that I raised could be smoothed over and laid aside and we'd have a true five star entry at last.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Getting in trouble already :)

February! The worst month of the year. :(
But I'm thinking it's the best month of Zuda comics ever.

Strangely I've aroused the ire of one random native. I don't know what it is specifically that got this guy riled up since mostly I've only gone around proclaiming love.

And love is what I've got. I don't even remember which comic I'm getting to review first but I'm still excited because I know they're all good.

Azz's Inferno - Thane Benson

The first thing I love about this entry is that we're getting a 3 row per page standard. That results in a whole bunch of 'mini-panels' and I think it might be a sign of expanding understanding of the best ways to utilize the Zuda picture plane. Page 8 even goes to FOUR rows for goodness sake!
Actually that may have been a bit of a push. The most important image in the entire comic probably shouldn't be a micro-sized panel #14 (!) on page # 8.
But that's a quibble. Look at how much story is expressed. Observe that even though most of the story is a voiceover we actually know who the narrator is and he's speaking in a consistent voice.
If you must narrate your story, this is one good way to do it.
Mr. Benson doesn't limit himself to a strict interpretation of the 3 row page design and yet even when he does he frequently uses continued images to expand the feeling of space without breaking the rhythm of the story. For a few examples of what I'm talking about refer to page #7. Particularly pay attention to the middle row which depicts a scene which works as either a single static image of the construction in progress OR it could be interpreted as a chronological sequence since the work being performed by the skeletons depicts a more advanced state of accomplishment in each panel, from basic resource gathering in panel one to a completed city-scape in panel four.
The dual interpretation is delicious.

I like the simplicity and sameness of the skeleton designs. This isn't a human story and it was a good decision to make that mass of humanity into a homogenous element of design rather than muddying the viewers interest with needlessly attention-grabbing character designs. The demons are the focal point and Mr. Benson has made them colorful and interesting.

But the best part is the cliff-hanger ending that you can actually care about. So many Zuda entries have offered up a cliff-hanger ending that seemed lost because it lacked sufficient context.
This comic was fully established. There's lots of good questions going through my head but no confusion about what happened and I'm invested enough in the character to care about what happens to him.

Great start to the month. Four stars. Love it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

We Make Clouds

We Make Clouds - Mike Farah, J. Longo, Johnny Storm

I've never been able to rock out a good critique when it comes to comics that are supposed to make you laugh, so I'll say that yes it does indeed make me laugh and the last page in particular strikes a positive chord. These things, I sound like a broken record when I talk about the page limit.

Everybody struggles with the page limit! (except Dan Thompson)
The struggle here is a little bit different because it's so hard to make everybody laugh at every joke. There are probably people who laughed at all 8 but I think that most of us laughed at somewhat less of these pages and the secret to the good funny strip is to max out that number for as many people as possible.
It's like with 'Pearls Before Swine' where I occasionally LOL vice the Far Side where I'd often LOL and every so often I'd be crying I'm laughing so hard.

I'd enjoy this quite a bit more I think if there were more than 8 pages. The jokes 'hit' often enough to maintain my interest but not often enough to entice me into a vote based on just 8 pages worth.

I remember J. Longo from month one, I enjoyed his work then and again although I do wish I'd seen it in color.

I give it a three star and I'm glad to see they're doing so well in the standings. Truly I'd be a happy fan if I saw something like this win Zuda. Well it's on the Zuda staff to keep giving us the opportunity to cast our votes here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Devil's Cross

The Devil's Cross is the lucky recipient of my 'gonna be a daddy' review.

Five stars for a big bastard dressed all in black plate with a huge sword.
He's here to rape and pillage presumably and that's pretty awesome. Skulls are awesome and dead peasants are awesome and there's plenty of both here. The horse breathes fire and has fire for feet and that's pretty fucking awesome too.

Sorry if you expected more criticism. I'm not filled with any tonight.

we're pregnant

my wife just tested positive so we'll hopefully be welcoming our first child sometime around the beginning of october.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sea Dogs of Mars

Sea Dogs of Mars - Christopher John Beck & Keri Woodward

The first impression I got when I read this was 'colorful'. Extremely colorful. Bright, vivid, glow in the dark burn your eyeballs out colorful.
I'm not saying it needs to be toned down, it overwhelmed me a little bit at first but the ol' peepers came around soon enough. It could be a calling card. A mark of style. Hell, go for it.

There's a clear plot, a little bit of intrigue, some character moments but no character conflict as far as I can tell so I'm willing to give reasonably good marks for the writing. It's a bad match for my tastes so I'm not going to gush about it. It's entirely possible for a comic to be well written and yet not appeal to me personally and that's what we have here.

Since I'm attempting to assemble references for my own entry now (rare update, that's all you're getting) I'm turning an eye toward the architecture, culture, and tech that makes this 'Mars' in the year 3127. Looks Asian to me. Interesting choice but who am I to say that form won't win out over function in the next millenia? It does suggest building materials that wouldn't necessarily be available on another planet but hell, you could probably explain anything away. Just be careful that there aren't ever any contradictions. The technology needs to be advanced enough to explain the look and the culture needs to be 'artful' enough to explain the look.
You're saying something when you design future tech and you need to be mindful of that. It needn't (shouldn't) be a primary concern but it's the sort of thing that a fan would notice.
The devil is in the details.

Now I'll get to something real, something useful.
On page 4 we've got a simplified 'plaid' design on the drifter's headwear which works fine in the smaller panels but in panel 2 we're too close to the character and you can't get away with simplifying the design at that scale. It needs to wrap around the folds when the camera is that close to the detail.

I wonder why the pirate doesn't have any eyelashes? Combined with the thick eyebrows she looks a little bit manly in that last panel.

Finally a critique that I'm not even sure I'm going to explain correctly.
I've been TOLD that vectors are best for any art done on the computer if you want to scale or reproduce and I've been TOLD that vectors don't show up as 'aliased', so what I'm wondering then is why the panel borders look so jaggy?
I'm guessing the panel borders were drawn in PS and the dialog was done in Illustrator?
Go to panel 4, look at the diagonal panel borders, zoom in on the word balloons, compare to the panel borders.

I don't know if that's a problem for the rest of yinz but for me I think I'm learning a lesson about methodology here. Definitely a problem I'm going to avoid if I can.

Strong 3 star entry.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Should I stick to the comics?

I really can't tell. The way I figure as long as the Zuda reviews are consistent it shouldn't matter if I throw in random other stuff.
If stuff like the following is hurting the core mission I'd like to hear about it.

Steelers - The big show is about a week away. Here's a report on how to beat Pittsburgh.

-Philly beat us by blitzing the crap out of us.
-The Giants beat us by forcing 4 turnovers. (committed none)
-The Colts beat us by forcing 3 turnovers. (committed none)
-The Titans beat us by forcing 4 turnovers. (committed none)

Here's some supporting information from the postseason thus far.
The Steelers won both games they've played with a 2 or 3 turnover advantage.
The Cardinals won all three games they've played with a 2-5 turnover advantage.

There's a trend forming here. I know it's not the sexy sort of analysis that your national pundits might feed you in the coming week but it's probably the most accurate thing you'll hear.
Most likely the Cardinals best chance to win this game is to force the Steelers into turnovers while not committing any themselves.

Compelling right?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Safe Inside

Safe Inside - Zerocalcare

open season

I'm going to get a rating out of the way first. Four stars.

Remember my last review where I congratulated Dan for giving me a complete lead-in to the plot?
Well now I'm back to reviewing comics that don't properly negotiate the 8 page limit.
Some plot is revealed but I didn't find it particularly interesting. Too many mysteries.
Since I've only got 8 pages I'd prefer to have a better handle on what's happening.

I blame Wolverine.
Don't ask me for an explanation. I'm not sure I'm making sense, I just have a major dislike for adamantium right now.

But that's really the only bad thing I have to say about a submission that is very professional looking. Maybe they make artists tougher in Italy or something but I feel like I'm being suckered by a professional artist who decided to slum it. Look at the officer in the final panel of page 5. Pictured from above and from a distance which works together with the dialog 'wait for her colleagues' to emphasize the fact that she's on her own.
This leads in beautifully to the molotov cocktail being served on the next page.
Then the tomato sauce scene provides a memorable segue into the introduction of two new characters.
Zero understands your eyes and he's speaking to them. Pay attention!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Project: WarHawk

Project: WarHawk - Dan Thompson

Before I get into the review proper I wanted to go over a few things that happened in the real world.
Barry 'savior' Obama is the President now and his inaugural speech was even more boring than expected. It was disjointed, there was no real 'theme' that I could discern and it was full of the same empty platitudes that won the election for him.
If you're already full of 'hope' and 'change' then you probably loved it but I was hoping for something meatier.
Meanwhile the stock market suffered it's biggest inauguration day loss in history. Probably not Obama's fault.

In other news, my Sister in law gave birth to a little girl tonight. Six pounds, eight ounces of ooey gooey birthy goodness. Haven't seen her yet, probably won't until tomorrow perhaps, but she's there.
My second niece.
There's a third on the way, not official until they get an ultrasound that shows the sex but the heart-rate was very high and that's supposed to be a pretty sure sign that it's a girl baking in the oven.
So it'll be three nieces then, no kids for me and no boys of any sort.

So the news is getting progressively better then and here's the best news of all: (for those of you out there on the internets at least)
Dan Thompson is back!

This is a very solid entry again and I'm trying to take solace in the chart position by consoling myself with the fact that Mr. Thompson has become a member of the exclusive 'repeat competitor' club.
What does this mean to me?
It means Dan Thompson is serious about his comics. He's not going to fade into the darkness like some of the other also-rans.

But what about the comic?
Love the art, the storytelling. Look at the moon in the last panel of the submission. It looks like Pac-man! I couldn't do that, I'm too tightly wound. It's mystical to me when I see an artist who is willing to reduce a form to a symbol and make it work, and it does work. Clarity is not compromised.
The way the scenes are paced makes for an easy and enjoyable read. Another skill of Dan's that I admire.

Now I admit that the style he uses and the pacing itself may be a little bit off-putting to a certain type of reader. I think most would agree that modern comics tend more toward decompression and the layperson is certainly going to make a 'Dick Tracy' comparison when he or she sees the way the faces are drawn.
That might be hurting him in the standings but I wouldn't want him to change a thing.
As far as the story goes, it is what it is. It suits him.
I don't know if there's depth hidden in there but it sure says a hell of a lot in Dan's favor that I'm asking this question. Usually I'm left wondering what the plot is, but this time I'm a whole second level ahead of the typical entry in terms of understanding what's going on.
In all honesty I don't think I'm asking too much to expect EVERY entry be this fully realized but lowered expectations will do this to me.

Four out of five stars.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Maladroits - Glen Walker

But there's a second name credited, so middlenameboom and daskouni are your creators. Which one is Glen? Who is the mysterious second creator?
The world may never know.

I liked this quite a lot.
Is a very good comic but I wouldn't be a critic if I didn't harp on something bad.

I don't like the photo in panel one. Even doctored up it looked out of place.
Page 2 panel 1. Flip it. The eye follows the direction of his walk off the page. Also would work better for staging since we have him sitting on count's right.
Page 6, the middle Bro's shirt color changed. I didn't like that.

And there's no sign of the story. This is a nice vignette. I enjoyed this glimpse into their world.
But there's not much in the way of desire or conflict or any of the things that might keep me invested. Where is 'the spark' of story?

Still this is on the higher end of my 3 star scale. If you haven't been reading me much I know that 3 sounds like a crap rating but honestly most of the entries get it. The simple color scheme works and it's pleasant to look at. I like the facial expressions. I'm sorry that the opportunity was missed to depict a 'bro' with popped collar. That would've been cool.

I can guess from the rank and the Italian competition that this won't be Glen's (and friend's) month so I hope he comes back soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Alex the Parrot

Alex the Parrot was able to identify over 50 different objects, he could count up to six, knew 7 colors and 7 shapes. Alex also understood the concepts of 'same and different' and 'bigger and smaller'.
You can see him pictured here at the left.
Usually dogs get all the attention that cats haven't grabbed up first, with horses, dolphins and elephants in the running as smart animals, but pound for pound I think that birds take the cake.

Alex has been compared to a 2 year old human child in cognitive ability and temperament. He'd throw tantrums when he got frustrated. He used to slam the door of his cage when he got back from the veterinarian.
(apparently birds don't like going to the doctor either) :)

An excerpt from his last night on Earth:
"You be good. I love you." said ALEX
"I love you too." I replied. (this is Irene Pepperberg speaking, Alex's trainer/scientist/friend)
"You'll be in tomorrow?"
"Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."

That's eerie. It doesn't sound like the sort of conversation you'd expect to have with a parrot. Perhaps it's all contextual but still that's pretty impressive.
It also makes me pretty sad. My cockatiel never learned to speak but I know she was pretty smart herself. The sweetest thing, she used to call for me until I'd whistle back. They do that to check on their flock, you know? She'd worry about me if I was out of sight until I let her know I was doing all right, then she'd settle right back down.
Poor Alex. He died tragically young. He was supposed to live for another 20 years. Imagine if he'd had his whole lifespan to work on his science? He was learning simple math at the time of his death and he'd just started to show us that birds see the same optical illusions that trick our own eyes.
Alex told Irene that the line on the right is longer.
Illusion Link

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Love the Dango!

Love the Dango! - Amber D. Stone

I assume that

is as interested in Japan as I am. Of course I had to rack my brain to remember wtf a dango is.
And the art is cute and it's nice to have a female competitor in the competition, but there's very little to critique here and consequently not much reason for me to keep an eye out.
This is the kind of webcomic that I'd flip through for awhile until I get distracted by something, and then I probably wouldn't remember to ever come back to it.

There's nothing wrong with those sorts of webcomics and I can totally see why a person should place their vote here, but I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that I'm looking for something different.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Lifespan - Shannon Cronin and Christopher Steininger

Hey! The narrator is identified!
OMG I'd almost give 4 stars for that alone!

I'll give it a four anyways.

Now I've never seen Logan's Run but if I'm not mistaken that movie and this entry are birthed from a similar idea. Everything works well and there's not much negative I can say here.

All the same I'm lukewarm.
I'm not satisfied with the back-story. I mean I'm not sure if I buy the explanation that the U.S. public would ever accept the program.
I suppose I could exercise my suspension of disbelief or accept it as a commentary on the creators beliefs about the nature of U.S. political system or the greediness of Americans or... something....

But it really doesn't speak to me that way so I hope we can settle on a good rating and an endorsement.
I approve of this comic.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Legacy of the Wanderer

Legacy of the Wanderer - Mark Cecere and Randy Humphries

Lack of one key piece of information = potentially interesting
Lack of almost any information at all = lose

What have we learned after reading 8 pages?
There's a buff dude with tats and a mohawk who likes to sleep on the beach and make poses when he wakes up.
There's an evil dude who we know is evil cause he had a messenger killed. Oooooh! Evil!
There's a bat-man who also likes to pose who gets more face time than anyone else in the comic only to be killed off screen.
There's a wordy narrator of unknown significance who knows that the evil guy was amused by the bat-man's request. How does he know this? Who is he relating this story to? Did he interview the evil guy after the 'adventure' was over? There has to be some kind of a persona behind this narration. Just another confusing story thread hanging out there.

There's so much to pick at but I don't have the heart for it cause I really like the way it looks. And it's not as if we've run out of hope on the story. Lack of information is admittedly better than contradictions.

There's still a chance that page 9 would introduce our narrator and page 10 would establish something about mohawk guy's character. Then page 11 could present the spark that creates the conflict.
Too bad Zuda is only 8 pages.

3 of 5 for the pleasant art.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Back from the X-mas Party

Yes, our work Christmas Party was on January 10th.
But that's only the beginning of the screwed up events.

Actually the night started very well. Nice hotel, good dinner, big pile of raffle prizes including TV, shop-vac, crock pot etc...

But dinner ended and the torture began.
First the DJ's speakers started to explode. Every so often when you were least expecting it they'd crackle with the fury of a hundred drunk nuns. I've never seen a drunk nun but I imagine they'd be a mean drunk.
Then the first game was played. A game of hot potato with a nice little present placed on every table.
My wife and I didn't win the present, but then again even the people who won the game didn't really win as the prize was 'Take home the centerpiece'.
Great, a Christmas themed centerpiece in January. We'll just store this in our 'centerpiece drawer' with all the other centerpieces we keep handy.

After that the torture escalated.
A young white guy, an older white guy, and a black guy came in pretending to be Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.
They did a little 'shtick' for a minute which didn't really bother me although I'm too young to know or care about any of those fine fellas, but then they started to sing.
If singing is what you can call it, cause they were horrible.
I was torn with wild fascination watching the mass of people who decided it would be a great time for a cigarette. That was during Frank and Dean btw, who weren't entirely off-key. Then 'Sammy' started slurring out the 'Candyman'.
He was clearly picked to complete the trio based on his blackness. Call me crazy but they should've held out for a black guy who can also sing well. Oops.
Of course all throughout these 'songs' the speakers were erupting. Remember the drunken nuns?

But then they grabbed a girl out of the audience. It was clear that no one wanted to go up on stage with them but they finally found one who didn't resist too hard and they started to molest her.
Sammy was stroking her hair while Dean made lewd jokes about getting her to sleep with him, then they all started cat-calling and saying 'yeah a curvy girl' *whistle* 'we like those girls with curves eh Sammy?'
I actually hid my eyes. I was embarrassed for all of humanity. There was a song in there somewhere but it was overpowered by the spectacle of sexual harassment.

These guys FINALLY left and we thought the worst was over. Get to the raffle so we can go home. We'd already been there for 2 and a half hours mind you.

No, a new round of fun was set to begin.
They played a movie of a horse race and we were supposed to pick 'our horse' out of a program in the center of each table. Each horse was named after an employee at the company.
Good idea in theory right?

Well no. First they announced that there'd be no prizes for picking the right horse. Just bragging rights. Then they started the race and we realized it was silent. So the whole room sat there in silence while a horse race with no stakes played out almost 200 feet away from us.
Then just when we're calculating to figure out how long this travesty would continue they tell us that there'll be five minutes between each race taking us out to more than 50 minutes of silent horse racing movies with no prizes.
Even that, EVEN THAT, I might have stuck through.

But when Frank, Dean and Sammy came back for round 2 we were OUTTA there.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lasers Dragons and Lies

Lasers Dragons and Lies - John Zakour and Pink Raygun Guy

I'll end the suspense. I'm voting for John again.
But I'm also going to be truthful, there wasn't an obvious pick this month. I actually like this month a bit better than last and there's a few entries that I think I could build a case for, this being one of them.

The biggest problem I've got with this one is the 'everything and the kitchen sink' mishmash of genre tropes. Not just a dragon, a robot dragon.
This is just a personal thing. I have a poor sense of humor and I can't get past trying to develop a system to explain the 'social backward/tech forward' schism that is implied.
I suspect that many of our readers will have no problem with this.

The coloring is pretty good, but I expect that out of Mr. Raygun Guy. He's been handling chores on BCB I hear. I didn't expect the characters to look so good however. That evil Cleopatra chick is fap-worthy.
One thing that doesn't work for me is the last page. The circular panel confused me, I didn't know how to order the panels.

I recommend zooming in. The pages look GREAT on the zoom. I like the linework very much. Reminds me a bit of Robbery's and I THINK he said he uses a brush.
(Going completely off topic for a moment, the fact that I'm getting better at picking this stuff up is good news for me. Means I might finally be learning something about doing inks.)

The final page is confusing because of the circle as I already pointed out, but it's also very densely packed with plot compared to the other 8. I just feel as if a ninth page would've been a big help here.

All in all I like this a lot but I have to admit that the fact that John Zakour is the writer is swaying me his way a little bit. He's been a real great guy in the time I've known him and that counts for something when you've got evenly matched competitors. I've got more faith in his ability to develop a narrative than I would with an unknown so there's that too, and there's an idea for ya.

If you want to win a competition and win my vote, why don't you build a body of material beforehand and direct us to it?
I don't think it's nice to add extra 'unofficial' pages to your entry as one particular repeat competitor once did, :) but if you've got work unrelated to the contest it might help you break a tie with a less experienced competitor.
Food for thought.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sorry. Another filler post.

Food recommendations.
First of all, Velveeta is your friend. If you haven't tried it as your cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich, that would be why you don't love grilled cheese like I love grilled cheese.
Velveeta is also excellent with a stuffed green pepper. Stuff the pepper with ground beef and rice, make a tomato sauce with liberal amounts of velveeta melted in. Enough to taste it but not enough to change the color of the sauce to orange.
Spoon that liberally over the pepper and bake it. Make sure you've got some extra sauce to spoon over top too.

Pineapple from hawaii is BETTER than pineapple from other places. My local supermarket is always trying to pass this stuff from Costa Rica as good pineapple. It would be more accurate to say 'adequate' pineapple.
If you're a person who never really enjoyed pineapple you owe it to yourself to at least once try a real Hawaiian pineapple.

I am casually acquainted with a guy who makes hot sauce. We went to high school together. If you'd like to try some good stuff, visit his website and order.
His strongest sauce is the 42 'slaughter' sauce and it's certified 67,582 scoville units making it the hottest all natural hot sauce in the world!
I enjoy the #7 sultry sauce myself. Not too much kick, nice flavor.
If you order, tell me what you thought about it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Who said you're qualified to review anything?!?

I know. I'm a poseur.
But please allow me to explain myself.

When I post a review the primary beneficiary is myself. I learn by observing the work of others.
The secondary beneficiary is the creator I'm reviewing, if he allows himself to learn from my opinions.
My opinions are no more valuable than anyone's by the way.
The tertiary beneficiary is the community itself. The process of evaluation lends an air of legitimacy to art.
You the reader are the quaternary beneficiary if you enjoy the reviews.

To sum this up, everybody has something to gain. Some of the gains are dependent on other factors, but I do what I can to help everybody derive maximum benefit from this exercise.

In terms of qualifications I have.... not much.
I have been doodling for most of my 29 years, have taken a few art classes, and I've read a lot.
But in my defense, I've been diligent about filling in the gaps in my knowledge.

If you're still on board, look forward to the new month of reviews. Coming Soon!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Just talking about myself. Boring really. Killing time until the new contest.

I was introduced to Andy Kubert X-men in the early 90s, (issue 20 iirc) and when I started collecting back issues I found Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio, so those three defined comic book art for me in my formative years.
Nowadays I'm pretty fixated on just two artists. Hiroaki Samura of Blade of the Immortal and John Romita Jr. of pretty much every comic book on the shelf. Not to say that I don't admire many other artists but those guys are the ones who really do it for me.
I will add that I've never been more in love with an artist than I was when Chris Bachalo was doing his early Generation X issues. Those first 2 issues in particular are just fucking insane.
He still drops an impressive page layout every now and then, but his style of rendering is so simplified nowadays that I don't get the same thrill.

And where are the DC comics/artists?
I never really got into DC.
I mean, I love my Watchmen and my Death: The High Cost of Living TPBs (among many others) but the only regular series that I ever collected was about a year's worth of Impulse when Humberto Ramos was new.
So as strange as it seems, I am now a DC man, and it wasn't because of Batman or Superman or any of the other legendary superheroes.
Nope, it's all because of Zuda.


I own a Corvette, an 86. Most people who know what an 86 corvette looks like call it 'the ugly one', but I think it's just a simple design, not an ugly one.
The C5 Corvette that ran from 1997 to 2004 on the other hand? That's going to be thought of as the ugly Corvette 30-40 years from now. I'm confident of it.
The butt on that thing is enormous.


I hate the musical snobbery of Radiohead fans.
I ran across a blog post titled '50 bands you MUST teach your kids about'.
At #2 he had Nirvana with the following justification (paraphrased)
'Brought life back to the genre and ushered out the tired old sounds...'
(Radiohead was somewhat lower, but still at #15 ranked higher than Madonna and Micheal Jackson who between them have sold about a billion gazillion million records.)

Well pardon me for having opinions but I rather enjoyed the 'tired old sounds' and I resent Nirvana for shifting the paradigm.
I was exactly at the 'Nirvana age' when they were big so it may have been partly a desire on my part to be non-conformist, but I actually find that I like their musis LESS as I get older and my own tastes have been drifting back into the early 80s, late 70s.
My most recent album purchase was E.L.O.'s Greatest Hits, and before that it was Queen and Prince.

Here's a theory.
The people who like the Britney Spears (me) generally like her for a certain set of reasons, and the people who like Radiohead like their music for a completely different set of reasons.
The Britney set's reasons typically don't lend themselves to deep justification. It's just something to shake your ass around and have fun with.
But those radiohead jerks are connecting on a different emotional basis.
NOT a more valid basis, but one that lends itself more to introspection and analysis.

So what do you get? You have a 'music society' full of people writing about their favorite bands and they're all writing about radiohead because the people who like Britney are too busy shaking their ass, and because the radiohead fans encounter very little opposition to their views they start to think that they have authority.
But then the billboard sales numbers come out and Britney Spears is doubling up the next 5 closest competitors.
"Oh the HORROR!" There's got to be an explanation!

Well, yeah, it just means that there's a lot more people who like Britney Spears music than people who like Radiohead.
It's not a 'plot' or 'the man keeping your band down' or 'she's just a sell-out pop artist'.

The radiohead fan is suffering from a delusion. If Britney fans were as passionate about reviewing and talking about music as Radiohead fans seem to be, there wouldn't be room in Spin magazine to cram in an article about the crap little band.

You know what?.....
I could paint the sistine chapel in miniature on the roof of my mouth using a combination of feces and uranium filings, then puke it out and call it 'art'.
I can pretty much guarantee that it's never been done before, and that might give it artistic value. Not sure, maybe. Depends on if I can sell it as art.

And there's the key. Art isn't art unless you can convince someone that it is art, and if it's so sellable that people are willing to pay money to own it and not just look at it, that's what makes it good art.

And the more people who are willing to buy it, the better it is.
Based on that principle I would have no problem whatsoever in ranking my own personal 'most influential artists' list based solely on sales numbers.

1. Micheal Jackson - Thriller (by far)
2. AC/DC
3. Eagles
4. Whitney Houston
5. Bee Gees
6. Pink Floyd
7. Backstreet Boys

I don't really care for the Eagles, The Bee-Gees, Pink Floyd or the Backstreet Boys but I'm willing to let the integrity of my beliefs come before my own personal taste.

Of course I'd want to adjust the numbers based on performance relative to the industry and perhaps tweak it for price variations as the format changed from record to tape to cd, but if you're comparing influence I think it's silly to suggest that any album influenced more people than Thriller at over 100 million copies sold.

Now if you wanted to suggest that an alternate band or album influenced BETTER people... as if to say that the Britney fans don't matter cause they don't make music while the Radiohead fans are the musicians of tomorrow.

Well I might be more understanding of where you're coming from, but in such a case I'd know for certain that you're nothing more than a music snob. Take your elitist 'influential' band and shove it up your ass.

Consider me the voice of the silent majority.