Gifts for and from Comic Geeks

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

So what do you get for a comics geek on special occasions? More importantly, what does a comics geek get for his friends on holidays, birthdays, etc.?

I'm pretty easy to shop for, as are quite a few of my friends. Get me comics memorabilia, artwork, comic books and graphic novels I talk about, or anything with Spider-Man on it, and I'm gonna love it. I have friends who love back issues of Spider-Man, Avengers toy masks, or Walking Dead action figures and board games.

Maybe this is just me being a little too into my hobby as an enthusiast for comic books and graphic novels, and possibly from my readers advisory instincts as a librarian, but my tendency for getting gifts for my friends usually involves getting them comic books. Me being me, I tend to talk about comics a lot, especially superhero stories, and if any of my friends exhibit enthusiasm for a storyline, graphic novel, or type of comic or art, I'll oftentimes go out and grab that item for them, come the gift-giving occasions.

Some of the more memorable gifts I've gotten for friends and loved ones include back issues of The Amazing Spider-Man; a Walking Dead zombie action figure; volumes of The Runaways; a couple of signed copies of Strangers In Paradise; and the hardback copy of Batman: The Court of Owls. Some of the more memorable comics gifts I have received include a t-shirt of Black Lantern Batman from the Blackest Night storyline; a Green Lantern wristband; an awesome Spider-Man t-shirt that looks like the top part of his costume, a personal favorite; and a Spider-Man piggy bank, hand-painted by one of my friends.

Of course, not everyone likes comics, and it's not like every one of my friends and loved ones wants a copy of Fables, or a Batman action figure. While I may take a comics-related tack with my gift-giving when I can, it's certainly not the sum total of the gifts I give. Always take the time and put in the effort to make sure what you're getting is something they will enjoy and appreciate, even if it isn't something you're expert in. Even with friends who I think will appreciate comics, I exercise a degree of discrimination about their preferences. While I have friends who enjoy the Hulk, I'll grab them a copy of Sin City if they express an interest.

Gift giving is one of the great joys of life, especially when done right. With the popularization of comics in the movies and as a medium of literature, I would argue that it's a particular renaissance for comic geeks. I know that my collections and those of my friends support this, and I'll bet a lot of others would as well.

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I Return!

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

For the last 10 days or so, I've taken a short hiatus from my daily writings in this blog. This is mostly due to a number of factors in my life, from having a whole bunch of things going on in my personal life to burnout from writing every day to even having some confidence issues with regard to where this endeavor currently stands. While I'm glad to be back, I think it's important that I touch on at least a few of these issues.

Those of you who have stuck with me these last few months know how proud I am of how much I've written in the Comics Cove. From my first post, I made it clear that I was afraid this could be one of those efforts that get started and never get off the ground, that this might turn out to be a blog that gets started and then soon abandoned just because I can't think of anything to write about, or I can't keep the motivation going to write. Clearly, that has not happened, and I couldn't be more pleased with how much I've written about comics in the time since late 2011.

The last few weeks, however, have been especially taxing for me. Balancing the time to work, write, relax, and still meet the multitude of responsibilities I have in my personal life has really become difficult with the onset of the summer season. With everything going on, writing ahead became impossible--I was writing up against a daily wall for much longer than I'll ever admit--and even keeping a daily essay up proved too taxing to maintain. I am a little disappointed that I won't have written for a full year everyday, but I think if I hadn't taken a break, I simply would have burned out in some vital area of my life, and I wasn't willing to sacrifice any of that, most especially my desire to write.

Things haven't gotten much easier in the adjoining time off, and I'm pretty sure I won't be starting any more grand writing streaks any time soon here. But I have kept reading comics, and having opinions about the storylines I uncover, so you can safely expect some more reviews and musings in the near future.

With that said, I will probably be taking a more casual approach to this blog, at least in terms of my frequency. This is for several reasons, including the aforementioned danger of burnout. Some of the others, however, are more personal.

As I've mentioned before, I'm very happy with my work on the Cove. It is far and away the longest and most well-maintained blog I've ever undertaken. And my enjoyment of comics in all forms has led me to keep it going for so much longer than any of my other efforts. It seems as long as I had a good topic, that I was interested and passionate about, then I would have no shortage of things to post. And it has been so liberating to discover that firsthand.

But something has changed.

I'm a decent writer, I think. And I've wanted to be a writer since I was little. But my first love has always been in fiction, and creating worlds, plots, and characters for people to read about and fall in love with. And I have done very little fiction writing since I started the Cove.

Don't get me wrong; my output before the Cove wasn't exactly stellar, either. But with the Cove, I've at least established that consistent writing is an attainable possibility for me. I know I can do it, but lately it feels like I've been hiding behind the shield of all this creative nonfiction because it's easy for me to choose a topic and go. I need to stretch my creative muscles more, and take that consistent writing of which I'm capable and try to make it work for the writing of which I'm presumably supposed to be doing more.

What this will all entail isn't exactly clear to me at present. It may well mean fewer posts in the Cove, but I can't promise it will translate into more posts on my fiction blog, A Glimpse Through the Door. I'll probably be a lot more miserly with showing off my fiction, as I'm less confident in my ability to write it than I am about my output on the Cove. Scripts, too. We'll see.

I do think this is the right direction to go, though. In listening to Neil Gaiman's recent commencement address, I've come to realize that I have to take the steps that feel like progress towards my goal of being a writer. I have to walk toward the mountain, as it were. And this feels like a step in the right direction. I will walk that path for a while, and hopefully I can share with you how it goes. In the mean time, wish me luck, keep your readers tuned to this blog, and I promise you'll hear more from me here in the near future.

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List-y List #1: My Favorite Writers, aka The Writing Gods

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

Starting off my series of lists, I thought I'd do the one that was most thematically relevant to me on a personal level. Wanting to be a writer, I've studied and observed a number of them, from a variety of mediums, with a particular focus on comics. I'd like to think that they would be happy to know that their works and efforts have helped inspire me not only to write, but to start and maintain this blog, which I've so far managed to do at a daily clip. They are, in short... my writing gods.

These kinds of lists tend to be a matter of personal taste, and are in no way meant to disparage anyone else's favorites. They are simply my favorites, my gods of writing, and there are plenty of other excellent writers who didn't make this iteration--Chris Claremont, Alan Moore, and Ed Brubaker come immediately to mind, as will doubtless others.

The writers who have had the biggest effect on my reading experience, and who hopefully influence my writing the most, are:

1. Neil Gaiman - Sandman. Neverwhere. The Graveyard Book. Coraline. Marvel 1602. American Gods. An episode of Doctor Who. If there's a medium for which Neil Gaiman can't write, I have yet to experience it. Truly one of the most imaginative and culturally aware writers of this day and age, his ability to take the fantastic and marry it to the mundane with such effortless aplomb never fails to amaze and surprise me, even when I'm expecting it. He's resurrected comic book characters, and reinterpreted mythological and historical figures with a deft touch that makes you wonder from where his insightful characterizations come. It's no wonder his work translates well to comics, television, film and prose works. I can only hope to come anywhere near matching the depths of his fertile imagination.

2. Joss Whedon - Another master of many mediums, Joss Whedon had actually made a big impression on me long before I knew who he was, and impressed me less when I started to realize who he was. Some of his episodes of Roseanne are among my favorites of the show's run, long before I cared who was scripting individual episodes. My first "knowing" exposure to his name and work was the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which at the time, didn't impress me. Then along came Firefly, and I emerged a Whedonite converted. Film, comics, television... especially television. There's nothing the man can't do well. Whedon's witty dialog, strong women characters, and clever subversions of storytelling tropes are things I admire about his writing, and hope inform my own. I particularly adore the Firefly and Serenity comics he's worked on, and the Buffy continuations as well. All this before any mention of The Avengers, to boot!

3. Steve Moffat - The first non-comics writer on my list, Steve Moffat rates highly for his amazing work in television. I first got acquainted with his writing on Coupling, a clever British comedy series about sex and the thirtysomething characters trying to get it. I loved its clever humor, occasionally imaginative plot structures, and the evenness generally portrayed when the sexes battled it out. When I started watching Doctor Who, appropriately during the Matt Smith episodes, I didn't even realize at first that this was the same guy writing and running it! It was a delightful treat. Now this guy has gone and put a fantastic series together called Sherlock... perhaps you've heard of it? He's a magnificent bastard of a writer, whose talent for suspense, adventure, and comedy are that rare blend that make for amazing television. If you haven't seen any of the TV shows I've mentioned here, do yourself a favor and check them out.

4. J. Michael Straczynski - Most of JMS's writing work is stuff I've only been tangentially familiar with: the occasional episode of Babylon 5, a glimpse of an issue of Thor he worked on--and did you know he also wrote for the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon in the 1980s?! But the two works that have stood out most starkly for me have been his run on Amazing Spider-Man--in which he took bold, imaginative risks in interpreting Spidey's powers and his relationships with those closest to him--and Superman: Earth One, a dynamic and insightful retelling of Superman's origin story and debut as the Man of Steel. I don't often go in for Superman, but then again, I don't often go in for Thor or Babylon 5, either. Yet I've never been anything but awed by the stories this man tells. An excellent writer, of whose works I need to read more.

5. Scott McCloud - Though I've only ever read his most famous work, the graphic book Understanding Comics, I still hold Scott McCloud in immeasurably high regard for his insightful, playful, and easy-to-understand handling of the material. In a clever sequential art style that matches the content and subject of the book, McCloud explains with simple thoroughness and plenty of visual aides how comics are made, and how writing and pictures are used to create this most wonderful of mediums. That level of dedication alone is worthy of admiration; that he does it so eloquently and passionately is what makes him great, in my opinion. It was after reading Understanding Comics that I was inspired to start writing my own comic scripts and even drawing some of my own pages occasionally. And while I'll probably never draw as well as I'd like, I'll credit my own start as a writer of comic scripts to him.

6. H.P. Lovecraft - Though occasionally verbose and a little archaic in his diction, Lovecraft is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in modern horror, serving as the inspiration for such modern masters as Stephen King, Anne Rice, Clive Barker, and John Carpenter--not to mention the aformentioned Neil Gaiman. His stories about otherworldly cosmic horrors, ghoulish cults and creatures have had an undeniable effect on the collective psyche of horror writers and readers--not to mention my own sensibilities. I think what intrigues me the most is the inescapable dread that infuses his stories, which seem to generally hinge on the idea of man's general cosmic insignificance, and that there is knowledge out there that we simply can't handle. It doesn't make for the most uplifting of storytelling endeavors, but it does make for interesting and challenging storytelling.

7. Brian K. Vaughan - Having only read Y: the Last Man of his works, I can say that there are plenty of other titles out there that Brian K. Vaughan has worked on that have either been highly recommended to me by friends and family (Runaways), or that I just can't wait to read, based on that title alone (Pride of Baghdad, Saga, Ex Machina). He clearly has a talent for taking supremely unenviable situations, thinking them through, and creating great opportunities for character development and exploration from them. My little sister has started reading his run on Runaways, and given me the best feedback you can get about a writer's title, namely, "Buy me more of these, please!" I'm aching to read his current series, Saga, but am currently waiting to get my hands on issues 1 and 2 before I can start. It's a bit of a torturous undertaking, but some things are worth waiting for.

8. Terry Moore - A Houston institution, Terry Moore's strong depiction of women characters has set him apart as a writer who understands that beauty goes far beyond physical perfection. Both a skilled writer and a good artist, his Strangers In Paradise strikes emotional chords in both the touching love story it tells as well as the expressiveness of the characters that populate it. Moore can take a simple situation, such as a break-up, put a humorous spin on it with just the slightest clever twist, and make it unforgettable, just as he can shatter your expectations with a single, well-drawn look of pain on his heroines' faces. His women, who tend to be his main characters, have a range of imperfections and flaws, from self-loathing to body image issues, but his ability to imbue them with humanity and depth make him an unforgettable writer and an amazing storyteller.

9. Scott Snyder - If there's been a best side to reading the New 52, it's that it's enabled me to discover Scott Snyder. His deft guidance of Batman through the mystery of the Court of Owls saga and the subsequent (and current) Night of the Owls storyline have left me with my jaw hanging open more times than I can honestly remember. Whether he's doing creepy nightmare illusions, mind-bending labyrinths, or unbelievably taxing physical trials, Snyder shows that he's not afraid to put heroes through the ringer, physically, mentally, or emotionally--and it makes for amazing storytelling. I've yet to read any of his other titles, but I know he's got several projects going, and I intend to sit down and check them out as soon as time allows. For now, the Court of Owls and Night of the Owls storylines alone have made Snyder one of my fastest-rising writing gods.

10. Dan Slott - I'm primarily familiar with Dan Slott through the recent and current issues of Amazing Spider-Man, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far. He's taken different approaches to telling Spidey's story--some humorous, some dramatic, and some that are off the scales epic--and made them all very successful. He obviously knows the characters, and I've been particularly amused at his banter and thorny relationship between Spidey and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson, as well as his writing of the supremely bright and quirky individuals at Horizon Labs, who serve as Peter Parker's colleagues and oftentimes as Spider-Man's allies. With the current Ends of the Earth arc, we're seeing Spidey at his most serious, as well as his most resourceful, as he effectively takes on the Sinister Six with the entire world turned against him. If that's not gutsy storytelling, then I don't know what is.


I'm Feeling List-y...

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

This is going to be a short post, but hopefully a helpful one!

Over the last week, I've done a much higher percentage of personal posts than reviews, and the response has been unmistakable. More people read when I'm musing and talking about comics-related stuff than doing straight-up reviews. I'm not sure this will change overall--I really like reviewing comics and graphic novels--but I do think it's a good idea to up my percentage of posts that are things other than reviews.

Trouble is, I sometimes have a difficult time coming up with topics for these posts. Seriously. I can get into a discussion with friends about whether or not Batman will die in the upcoming film, and then blog a post about that topic, but I often have a difficult time just dreaming up subjects in a vacuum.

So with that in mind, I went and did the (arguably not-so) brilliant thing: I created lists of thing to talk about at near points down the road. I've started with favorites:

  • characters
  • writers
  • artists
  • graphic novels
  • comic books
  • storylines

and so on. I'm hoping that, by filling these out and talking about the subjects in them, I'll come up with more topics on my own.

But wait! There's more! I'm always looking for suggestions from my readers! If there's anything you want to hear about, please leave a comment and let me know. I know enough about giving an audience what they want to know that my readers will have excellent suggestions. Please feel free to hit me up with topics and subjects.

This is, in many ways, as much your blog as it is mine. Let's keep it interesting for all!


Shawarma, Anyone?

Posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

For anyone who reads this blog and happens to still be living under a rock, there happens to be this wildly successful superhero movie called The Avengers, that has broken all kinds of box office records, raised the bar to an insane level for superhero movies, and took Joss Whedon from being a cult favorite to a household name. The sustained level of praise for The Avengers is unprecedent for a film of its kind, and it's won over fans and critics alike with its winning combination of high-octane action, dynamic storytelling, and deft characterizations. It is also, probably unsurprisingly, my favorite film of the year, so far.

Right now, I'd like to talk about a small, almost throwaway, part of the film, though, that has had a noticeable impact on sales for a particular food. Namely: shawarma.

If you're anything like I was, you probably left The Avengers wondering what the heck shawarma was, even after watching the post-credits scene. Google searches for the delectable Arab dish shot up shortly after the film hit the United States, and apparently sales have received a serious bump due to its fairly prominent mention. I had never had it before, and was finally introduced to it this weekend by my girlfriend, who's eaten it many times and was happy to broaden my horizons.

I've since had it again, and have to say, that while the presentation and flavors may vary by individual restaurants, shawarma is so far proving to be very tasty in any iteration. It's a delicious spiced meat preparation (the meats themselves can vary; the preparation of slow-grilling the large hunk of meat and cutting the shavings off the hanging meat are what distinguish it as shawarma), served in a pita with a number of vegetables and sauces. I'm always glad to try something new in the foods realm, and this food is certain to become a staple of my regular dining repertoire.

Amusingly, if not unexpectedly, shawarma has been making other appearances on the Internet. Quite a few of them are taken directly from the post-credits scene in The Avengers, while another amusing iteration has popped up in the Marvel: Avengers Alliance game I'm still obsessively playing. While I can't stock up on it yet due to other considerations (trying to unlock Mockingbird and all the resources that entails), I grabbed a couple of them once they became available and have found them a very useful in-game power-up. I'll be adding as much of it to my stash as soon as possible, once I've taken care of other in-game business.

For anyone who has yet to try this tasty dish, I would highly recommend it. I know a lot of my friends out there will actively avoid trendy topics and things that are popular for the moment, but this is one indulgence you shouldn't avoid. It's highly enjoyable, there's likely more than a few places that serve it nearby, and it's always good to try new foods, if only to be sure you don't like them. I highly doubt that will be the case here.

Anyway, you've read this far. Here's a small reward: me, eating shawarma, looking exhausted, in a lame impression of the heroes at the end of The Avengers. Enjoy, and feel free to laugh at my expense.

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Our Obsession With Particular Actors for Particular Parts

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

One of the developments that I really liked after seeing The Avengers was how the character of Bruce Banner was so amazingly handled. I truly enjoyed Mark Ruffalo's portrayal of the character, and think his rendition of Banner will be considered the definitive modern portrayal of the character. He was charming, intelligent, and just a bit bumbling as the gamma-irradiated doctor who's learned to control the beast raging within him (to an extent, at least). It was truly a joy to watch, and I have no problem saying his performance in The Avengers dwarfs Edward Norton's portrayal of him in The Incredible Hulk.

Of course, that's not to say I didn't like Norton's version of the character, either. His Banner was also intelligent and charming, but had a little bit more of an obsessive edge and an action hero feel to him than Ruffalo's (who was mostly a nerdy guy out of his element among superheroes, until he turned into "the other guy), which I can honestly see a need for in a movie where Banner has to be the main hero. I'm glad his star power and recognition helped that film do what it needed to do to be successful, and I respect that it allowed the character to come to The Avengers and take a different direction. It reinforced, in my view, the idea that different actors can play the same part when a project needs it, and each contribute to the overall success of the whole thing.

But some people just can't avoid picking a fight.

I can't tell you how many snide comments I'd heard--mostly before the movie was released--of people claiming that Edward Norton's absence was going to ruin the character and, somehow, the whole rest of the film. It was like continuity itself had taken a hit, and would alter the entire trajectory of the movie, simply because Bruce Banner would be sporting a new face and frame.

While these naysayers have been for the most part roundly silenced by the success of The Avengers, it reminds me of the obsession so many moviegoers and television watchers have with associating one actor so exclusively with one single part. I remember, on more than one occasion, fans of the Harry Potter films claiming that if Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, or Rupert Grint ever left their roles, that they would stop watching the films because, as they put it, those actors were "the only ones" who could play those parts. The audiovisual establishment of a character in a movie or a television show is, apparently, a sacrosanct thing that can not be violated for any reason for these people.

Umm, no.

In the Harry Potter films, Richard Harris plays the character of Albus Dumbledore for the first two films, and then is replaced by Michael Gambon for the rest of them due to Harris's death. In the awesome 2009 Star Trek reboot film, the parts of the Enterprise crew members are portrayed by a number of new actors, for the simple reason that the surviving originators of those parts are too old to play their characters as young as the movie needed. What do these situations have in common with Ruffalo's succession of Norton as Bruce Banner? Simply, they collectively stamp the reality that parts change actors in the film industry with regularity, and for a number of legitimate reasons. Contractual disputes and creative differences are just as valid reasons for shifting parts to another actor are as death and aging are, which is something I feel many fans need to remember and respect about their favorite films.

Was Ruffalo a better Bruce Banner than Edward Norton? In many ways, I think so. But even if I'd favored Norton's performance, I wouldn't be (and wasn't) upset that Ruffalo replaced him after The Incredible Hulk. I loved Richard Harris's Dumbledore, but also thought Gambon did a wonderful job with the role, and that he contributed largely to the franchise's success. And as for Star Trek... come on. That was just a no-brainer. If you're rebooting the franchise after several decades, you have to go with another cast.

As The Amazing Spider-Man approaches release, I'm seeing more iterations of this obsession, as people bemoan Tobey Maguire's absence and claim that Andrew Garfield just won't be anywhere near as good as Peter Parker. It's difficult for me to sympathize with them, not because I didn't like Maguire--on the contrary, I thought he was great--but because I understand that these are films, with there own sets of rules and conditions that go into their production; and that these stories are separate from the films that preceded them.

Tobey Maguire, while a great Peter Parker and Spider-Man for the Sam Raimi films, was never the only Peter Parker to me. He embodied a lot of the qualities of Peter Parker, but not all of them. There were different looks and attitudes I'd seen of the character in the comics. There was Peter Parker as drawn by Mark Bagley in the 1990s. There was Ultimate Peter Parker, also drawn by Bagley. There's also the post-One More Day iteration of Peter Parker, who's similar but not quite like the others.

What I'm liking so far about Garfield's Peter Parker is that he brings a bit more sass and edge to the role. While I know some old-school purists will decry that aspect, I think he's channeling a lot of Ultimate Peter Parker in that respect, and I think for this day and age, it makes a lot of sense. Even nerdy kids feel the need to lash out or quip back at a world that often seems out of their control, and I think a lot of the decisions I've seen Garfield make as an actor make for just as valid an interpretation of Parker as Maguire's. He's bringing us a different Peter Parker who's just as much the real thing as the others.

I think we need to occasionally step back from our obsessions with this aspect of storytelling, and take pleasure in simply enjoying the stories. It's perfectly fine to like one actor's interpretation of a role better than another's. And it makes perfect sense to be upset or bummed when an actor leaves a particular part. But making categorical statements like, "I won't go see these films anymore if Maguire's not Peter Parker!" or claiming that Norton, Harris, or Shatner's absences from the roles they originated will ruin all subsequent films or shows is simply absurd, and doesn't make for a good appearance to others.

If nothing else, remember that these are fictional characters. Mythological figures, if you will. They may seem real, but they're not. The actors who play them are real people, with their own talents, lives, flaws, and motivations. I think it's showing a measure of respect for them not too obsess too much over their portrayal of one particular character. In the end, they're portraying this one character in addition to hundreds or thousands of others. Enjoy those portrayals, but make sure it doesn't come at the expense of your enjoyment of the rest of the story.

You may find that, once you get into the overall experience of the story, one actor's departure from it may not be so bad.


Another Pleasant Pictorial: Comics Items In My Office and Workpla

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

My love of comic books and graphic novels being what it is, I obviously have a lot of trinkets, memorabilia, and keepsakes that reflect this. While I'll eventually get around to showing off all the stuff I have at home, I figured I'd start a pictorial featuring all the stuff I have at my office, and also some other neat comic related items featured at my workplace. As any of my co-workers will tell you, it's pretty easy to tell I like comics by just spending a few minutes with me. Well, if you step into my office, it becomes pretty obvious too.


My mother couldn't ever get me to decorate my walls in my room or house, but my supervisor was able to get me to

decorate my office. I was like, "Okay, bring on the comics stuff!" Note the calendar over the printer, which is still set to May and features Rogue. It will have another picture later.

I'm trying to spread the love around, but currently the Iron Man lithograph is currently off on its lonesome. I'm not too worried, though. Stark can afford a little time in solitary. He'll get wall-mates soon enough.

Okay, so not only do I favor superhero comics, but I'm also partial

to Marvel heroes. This New Avengers poster was purchased in

direct reaction to my supervisor's demand for office decoration...

... as was the Spider-Man bobblehead. He wasn't particularly lonely, but a coworker thought he was, and brought me the Spidey thimble (which I love!), and the Spidey food container. They hang out regularly, and for the most part get along. Except when the thimble gets all smarty on the bobblehead, who then just stomps on him. :P

Even my corkboard isn't immune to comics-related memorabilia.

Call it excessive pride, but I've pinned a flyer from an event I put

together earlier this year, the Houston Comics Talent Panel. It was

a learning experience, and a lot of fun.

This preservation bookmark is from the Library of Congress, and

is specifically about the preservation of comic books. This kind of

thing makes me happy!

The Green Goblin will be trying to pumpkin-bomb me on a daily

basis this month, according to my Marvel Heroes calendar. The

Green Goblin on a Marvel Heroes calendar... so very wrong.

Stark may be alone in this photo, but again, I'm not too worried...

... for he is the Invincible IRON MAN! And besides, he loves

himself too much not to like some time alone once in a while.

Now we're gonna move to the Teen Room in my library (note: I LOVE the fact that we have one!). A context shot of the

comics and manga collection, which are always circulating--the area is constantly in need of shelving and straightening.

These posters are about the merits of reading graphic novels,

which all too often are subjected to unfair criticism from some

parents and customers, who don't think they are "real" reading.

They are!

Another such poster on the other side of our manga collection.

For my part, I read a lot of graphic novels and comics, and find the

stories, artwork, and overall experience an amply rewarding on an

intellectual, entertainment basis.

Final poster shot, and end of this pictorial and my impromptu


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Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

On November 30, 2011, I started this blog, The Comics Cove, intending to write about comics-related topics. While I've mostly written reviews about comics, I've also covered a number of topics: film and book reviews, comics conventions, costumes and cosplay, tropes and conventions in mythology, and discussions of specific heroes and villains. Today, it gives me great pride to inform my readers that as of today, I've managed to write every day in The Cove for six straight months.

It hasn't always been easy. I've had to make this a second priority, and it's meant curtailing a lot of activities I've loved doing in the past. I don't play video games anywhere near as much as I used to, as writing takes up a good hour or so each day, usually in the evenings after work. It's cut into date nights, outings with friends, and I've often had to plan ahead with my writing on occasions where I simply wouldn't have otherwise had time. It's a logistical challenge at times, but it's given me a good handle on planning, time management, and keeping motivated.

For the reviews, I've covered a number of genres, though I know I've always clearly favored superhero comics. I've also talked about novel adaptations, children's comics, strong girl characters, horror, historical, and fantasy comics. I've taken discussion topics I've had with my friends and put my thoughts on them up here. And, unbelievably, people have read them with some regularity. A few intrepid followers have even posted reactions to my thoughts in the comments section, and for those I thank you!

One new project I've started working on is setting up a mini-studio for doing video reviews. This is mostly due to inspiration from haydenclaireheroes, whose video reviews on ComicVine have been such a joy to watch, support, and comment on. It'll be a long project, much like the costumes: I'm working on acquiring a wireless webcam, and assembling a good background and filming area on limited space. I managed to acquire some good art for the backdrop from Comicpalooza, and I'm hoping to get the space set up sometime in the near future.

I started a fiction blog, which has thus far only received a couple entries in April. For the record, I haven't given up on fiction writing, but have had to keep The Cove my priority while managing my time. I will be writing more scripts and prose fiction, but it will have to be comparatively sparse to the robust output here for the time being. I've recently seen some opportunities for submissions, though, and I'll be planning to put keyboard to computer for them in the near future.

It's all been hard work and great fun, and I intend to keep writing on The Cove for as long as people want to keep reading. Please let me know if there's a comics-related topic, issue, or subject you'd like to discuss. I'm always up for suggestions, and would love doing a response to anything my readers would like to discuss.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing. If you keep reading, I'll be here.


Reflections on Comicpalooza

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

As you can see from the pictorial posts from the last couple days, I was at Comicpalooza this last weekend, and had a wonderful time meeting the fans, creators, and professionals that came to Houston to show off our vibrant comics and pop culture scene. Aside from taking a bunch of pictures of people in costume, I was also there in a professional capacity as a librarian, working the Houston Public Library booth on Friday and giving a presentation on libraries and their benefit to the comics industry with several co-workers. Both experiences were fun, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year.

I bought a couple of art items from local vendors as well, as I'm very eager to support Houston- and Texas-based artists and creators in the comics industry. Some of the vendors I patronized this year were:

  • Tentacle Kitty, a monstrously cute creation from Houston, according to their website. They had cute posters and other arty things on their table, featuring their mascot. Check them out for ultra-cuteness!
  • , whose Land of the Rats I reviewed and enjoyed recently. Mark creates his own comics here in Houston, and had an excellent Wolverine print that I had to have.
  • Miguel Zamora, an artist based out of San Marcos. His prints were excellent, and after my younger sister bought one of his Harley Quinns, I got a Nightwing/Batgirl and a Spider-Man from him.
  • After Twilight, a comic published in Houston, set in Houston, about a dystopian future. The protagonist is a librarian, so I can't wait to read it!
  • Brass Comics, another local publisher, composed of Bruce Small and Zach Q. Each creator had a comic I picked up, and can't wait to read and review.
  • A few titles from CCP Comics, which is based in Austin. I talked with the artists and creators for a bit, and was impressed with the quality of their products and happy that such a publisher was only a little ways away from Houston!

I bought wares from several other tables, but can't currently find contact information or cards for them. Hopefully I can correct this soon.

I also spoke with some of the creators as an aspiring professional, particularly about gaining exposure for my work and finding an artist for it. I've had lots of positive and challenging experiences working with artists on my comic, and it was good to have other creators give their perspective, experience, and advice on how to forge ahead. I got lots of good advice and made a couple of prospective contacts among them, and hopefully they won't be too annoyed to hear from an aspiring comic script writer in the near future. I hopefully at least made a good impression!

This was the first time I went to a con with even a semi-developed idea of what I wanted to get out of it. I'm proud to say that I accomplished most of what I set out to do, and look forward to attending other cons in the future, as time, finances, and energy allow. For now, thank you, Comicpalooza! I enjoyed you this year, and look forward to 2013!

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More Comicpalooza Pictures!!!

Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...

Today was the last day of Comicpalooza, and also makes for the last bit of self-allowed laziness in my writing for a while. It was both cause of celebration and sadness as things came to a close, but I'm eager for next year's event, and am excited at the possibility that I might expand the professional and fan opportunities I've touched upon at this year's convention!

Anyway, enjoy these last pics of costumed con-goers from today. Good-bye, Comicpalooza 2012. It was a blast!

Mr. George Takei himself!