I’m on Tumblr Now

Yeah, I finally did it. I joined Tumblr and am treating it like a blog (and possibly as an outlet for fan-fiction).

Feel free to check it out and follow me.

Stay Geeky: VLOG EDITION

So “Stay Geeky” has gone vlog form now, for various reasons. This is going to be a regular thing, so check in here or subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Our first vlog episode deals with my annoyance at the repeated remarks that it would be difficult to make a successful Wonder Woman movie today. Enjoy!

EPISODE 01: Wonder Woman Needs a Movie!

Stay Geeky, My Friends #5: Revisit Old Opinions

Jessica Mills Nerd HQ ShirtSo I was chatting not too long ago with Jessica Mills (GeekyJessica.com). If you don’t know, Jess is a major geek star, a writer/actress who also produced the fun online comedy Awkward Embraces. She also has a fun tumblr and has guest-starred on a couple of blogposts here, namely when we discussed the film The Dark Knight Rises and its villains.

Jessica and I were chatting about some comic book crossovers she was checking out. One of them was Superman/Aliens by Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan. My immediate response was to comment that I hadn’t cared for this story. Not that I thought she shouldn’t read it. I’m open to people thinking differently about certain things and I knew Jessica knew this.

In my memory, Superman/Aliens was a lackluster story where Superman fought the famous “xenomorphs” first introduced by Ridley Scott in the 1979 film Alien. This crossover came out in 1995, by which point Younger Me was definitely a fan of the Aliens film series (well, the first two movies) and its lead character Ellen Ripley (played by the amazing Sigourney Weaver). I recall being disappointed by a few things. First, the story involved a situation where Superman would not be at full power when he met the xenomorphs. This, to me, was a bit of a cop-out and I (still) generally dislike the attitude that Superman needs to be depowered for there to be stakes and risk. Read more

Stay Geeky, My Friends #4: The Very First Comics

It’s been a while since I’ve written this column. Sorry about that. Life got in the way, along with some major projects and several trips around the country to different conventions. Plus, we kind of just had a hurricane on the East coast, which led to my having to stay in Austin, Texas for a few extra days (I was initially there for the WizardWorld comic/sci-fi convention where I moderated a panel on web-series and spoke on a panel about the psychology of Batman and his related characters). I must say, if you’re going to get stranded, there are worse places to be than Austin, a fun city where I’m fortunate enough to have good friends. I even got to attend the “quote-along” screening of So I Married an Axe Murderer at the Alamo Draft House.

So let’s get back on schedule and jump back into things.

A few folks have been asking me recently about just how the comic book medium began. There are different places you can look this up. There’s a fun mini-series that recently was collected, entitled The Comic Book History of Comics. This is just my own way of explaining the origin of this medium, focusing on facts and dates that I personally think are essential and interesting. In the future, I’ll discuss other aspects of this medium and its history.

So first, what is a comic? And why are they called “comics” when many of the stories aren’t funny?

The first true comic strips and comic books featured comedy stories with funny characters. Hence, they were literally comical and also known as “the funnies” or “the funny papers.” So there we go, that’s the name they got when they arrived and we still haven’t come up with another one that seems to fit as well in the minds of others. Some folks try to call comics “graphic novels” but this technically only refers to special stories published with book-like binding rather than in standard comic book format with cheaper paper and staples.

Aside from the binding, there really is no difference between a graphic novel or a comic book issue. Those who insist that “graphic novel” refers to art whereas “comics” refers to the lowest form of entertainment are being pretentious jerks. You should feel free to hit them with a rolled up newspaper and say: “NO.”

Some folks have occasionally referred to comic strips and comic books as representing a medium called “sequential art,” meaning a series of pictures that shows a passage of time and multiple actions, often also involving dialogue. Occasionally, some comics do have only narration, not dialogue, but this is seen as pushing the medium into something very close to a prose story with illustrations, not very different from novels that had a picture in every chapter. Silent comics do happen to this day, but are pretty uncommon and usually treated as a special event or an experiment in storytelling.

Cave paintings showing stories were a form of sequential art. Similarly, ancient civilizations would sometimes depict a series of actions across the surfaces of vases and walls. As with cave paintings, these were images and were meant to convey a myth or a historical account. We didn’t get our first political cartoon until the 1500s it seems, in the decade that followed the invention of the printing press. This cartoon, and others that followed, usually depicted a single animated scene with dialogue or narration. So there weren’t multiple actions or a passage of time. Read more

Stay Geeky, My Friends #3: Jessica Mills Asks About ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Villains

Last week, writer/actor/producer Jessica Mills (Twitter: @GeekyJessica) asked me about The Dark Knight Rises, the final film of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy featuring Batman. Specifically, she wanted to know how closely the film’s events resembled the comic book stories of Batman, which take place in the DC Comics universe (or “DCU”).

We had a nice chat and I rambled on about many things in the comics. Spoilers abounded there and there will be some of those here as well, so fair warning.

Now, Jessica and I continue our discussion. She wasn’t terribly impressed with the villains featured in The Dark Knight Rises and wanted to know how the backstories/motivations presented in the film compared to their comic book counterparts. As usual, I was happy to oblige.

As mentioned, this contains many spoilers so if you haven’t see The Dark Knight Rises and intend to, you should really stop right now. Read more