Non-Sequitur #23:An’ Jumped the Silent Cars That Slept at Traffic Lights

Balancing Girl. Very nice art from Jamie McKelvie

In a previous post I wrote about how the peaceful soft rock they pipe in at my job is spiced up with unexpected classic rock hits. I found out that this music is coming from the boss’s I-Pod. Now it makes sense that I hear Alice Cooper and Led Zepplin after Elton John while I’m going to get coffee.

A few days ago, we took personalty tests at my job. I guess this is going to help the bosses deal with the supervisors and the supervisors deal with the workers. I found out that I am an “investigator”. Which means that I am questioning and intellectual, but I hide my emotions. It’s funny, but all the personalty types be they “challengers,” “helpers,”  or “achievers” or whatever are either “hiding their emotions” or “have a fear of commitment”. I thought we were over these new age cliches a few years ago. It’s ok, I had fun taking the test anyway.

I am sick of winter. I am really really REALLY sick of winter. Fuggin’ mid-west weather! It’s about 15-20 degrees colder than it should be this time of year. The wind whips by slashing at my face. It’s constantly gray outside. I mean, sure the sun makes an appearance for a few hours, but it’s real depressing looking outside when I leave the house in the morning. My co-workers and myself are fight various cold and flu symptoms. My head is pounding and I’m all congested and I got a wicked cough. Hell! I wanna go outside in my shorts and T-Shirt! I wanna walk everywhere again! I wanna look at women in their mini-skirts and flip-flops!

Ok, yeah…I admit I probably wouldn’t have gotten sick if I hadn’t gone out in the middle of the night Tuesday trying to go drinking. Stop trying to confuse me with logic.

And speaking of things where logic has no place…

Sucker Punch: Zack Snyder. I saw this movie over the weekend. It’s not a great film, but parts of it were entertaining. A young lady gets committed to a mental institution and retreats into a fantasy world. The fantasy world is very video game, comic book, and anime influenced. There was some shaky acting in a few scenes and the script could have been  a lot better, but I really liked the special effects and action parts. I’ll probably watch it again when it’s available on DVD, but I’ll skip the story and just watch the fight scenes.

MadMan #15: This is from Image Comics from 2009. I mostly bought it because the cover is a parody of David Bowie’s album cover for Aladdin Sane. Story and art by Mike Allred. It was fun and whimsical. Solid comics.

Secret Avengers #11: Not disappointing. Hank and Steve go into John Steele’s mind and relive an adventure set during the days of WW2. Fun and suspenseful. But what exactly is the deal with the Shadow Council? I’m ready for some answers, dammit!

Scarlet #5: This has gone from being a really good comic to being a not terrible comic. I was really intrigued when it started but it’s begining to let me down. Sure, I know there’s  lots a people who don’t like the police, but I just am not buying the whole “this sparks a revolution” thing. Scarlet shoots some corrupt cops.Yeah, there would be folks going “Right on!” but there’d also be people saying  “Why don’t they get this crazy b*tch off the streets!” Again, SHE SHOT SOMEBODY ON CAMERA! I don’t get why the cops in this story are all like “This sucks, we don’t know what to do!”

Power Girl#3: From 2009. Just a big goofy fun comic book. The world needs more stuff like this. Amanda Conner!

Classic Rock!

Non-Sequitur #22: Trapped In a World He Never Made

I took lots of pictures at C2E2, but I can't upload them because I'm having issues with my software. Fuggin' computers,

So, completely on a whim, I decided to go to C2E2, the big comic book and pop culture convention in Chicago this weekend. I had no plans on going, but the thing that made me change my mind is reading an article in a local paper that said Rick Bayless would be attending. Rick is a local chef with a PBS TV show. I think he was asked to be the official White House chef, but he turned the job down. Now, I had little interest in seeing Bayless, but the idea that someone had sense of humor enough to include him on a panel called “Food and Comics” made me think maybe this wouldn’t be a stuffy overpriced affair. I last time I went to a comic book convention was years ago in the early 90’s. I went with a couple of friends and the thing was small, crowded and boring. There were no interesting displays and many of the dealers seemed like they were there just to exploit the fans. That day killed my desire to go comic book conventions.

C2E2 in contrast, was a blast the day I went. Big, easy to move around. Lots of nice people who were having fun. Professionals who behaved a courteous manner. Lots of events catering to a wide variety of passions. I picked up a nice haul of random comics. It’s easy to see why some folks are suggesting it’s a major competitor with the San Diego Con which has been king for decades.

I planned on taking pictures. I found an old digital camera, but it’s not taking still photos, so  bought a cheap new camera, but the software is giving me a hard time. So, here are a few random musing that I remember off the top of my head.

Saw a display of the new Acura which is the official vehicle of SHIELD tying into the new Thor movie. I was going to get a SHIELD ID card, but the line was moving too slow and I wanted to buy comics.

Met a couple of the guys who do the Superfly http://panelsonpages.com/?category_name=superfly-pcn comics podcast selling comics for their store. I told them I liked their show and they told me that I was the first person to mention the podcast. They gave me a promotional pen and told me they were doing a wrestling show and told me to check out where the some of the other folks Panel on Pages  ( I’ve listened to the PrincessCast  http://panelsonpages.com/?category_name=princesscast-pcn ) were broadcasting. When I went over though, their was a crowd of Green Lantern  people crowding around so…

I saw two of the iFanboy http://www.ifanboy.com/ guys. One time they looked like they were discussing business with someone, when I came back, they were talking to a dad and his son. I realized the only guy’s name I could remember at the time was “Josh” but I couldn’t remember which guy was in fact Josh, so I didn’t introduce myself. Yeah, I kinda suck.

I saw John Siuntries of the Word Balloon cast http://www.wordballoon.com/ talking to  someone. I couldn’t think of a good question to ask him.

Saw two of the Comic Book Club guys interviewing an artist on camera. What was interesting was the fact that a little girl in a yellow dress was watching the taping and was fascinated by the lights and cameras. I think she might have caught a glimpse of herself in the playback.

I saw two different guys dress as the new Aqualad. One was the comic book Lad and the other was the animated Lad. Comic book lad was ok but kinda skinny, but animated lad totally rocked it. Totally fit and his costume was dead on. The only thing is, coloring his hair the color of the cartoon character’s actually made it seem like he had gray hair and was older than he really was. I wanted to get his picture, but he disappeared too quickly.

There were tattoo artists there! Fuck yeah! Actually, lots of the guests had tats, so it’s not THAT weird, but still, I didn’t expect to see so many tattoo artists with booths.

There was a thing with people playing the Harry Potter sports game. Quiddish (sp)? I’m too lazy to look up the actual spelling.

There was a speed dating thing going on.

I met some local indie artists from Xigency Studios http://xigencystudios.com/default.aspx. Had I not already spent most of the money I could afford to spend I would have given a few of their titles a try. I did get on their mailing list. Chi-Town!

I didn’t stick around for any of the big panels or announcements.

There was a guy selling the recent issue of Archie introducing a gay character for $10. I saw this same issue on the stands as recently as 2 weeks ago for cover price.

Also, I grew up on the Avengers. As much as I love the team, there’s just no way I’m going to spend $9.50 for a West Coast Avengers burger.

Non-Sequitur #21: C’mon Out And Dance

This picture of Death is related to St Patrick's Day because,uh...it was drawn by Steve Rude and uh, there's lots of Irish people named Steve? Uh...ok,fine! I just like the way it looks.

Random People Dressed For St Paddy’s Day: A white guy and his black girlfriend. A Hispanic couple. An African-American mother and her son at the comic book store. A guy on the subway who looked middle-eastern. Another guy on the same train telling his friends that he got his green tuxedo t-shirt in Boystown ( an upscale gay neighborhood in Chicago). He said this without any hint of self consciousness, cuz he obviously had no problem being a straight guy buying clothes in a gay environment. Days like this make me think, “Wow, I live in one of the most diverse cities in the country. Things don’t have to be so tense all the time.”  Of course I know we’re also one of the most segregated cities in America. And I know eventually something will happen to make me think, “Gawd! What  A-Holes some people are!” But this morning, the world was chill.

Our Muzak Is Cooler Than Your Muzak: Ok, so at my job recently they started playing music over the PA in the halls between the offices. I’m pretty sure this is the music you’d hear if you called  my job and asked to speak to the owner and got put on hold. Most of it is what you probably expect, lite-rock  music. Elton John, Lionel Richie, John Mayer,  soft rock hits from the 70’s-80’s etc. What’s interesting is the ample seasoning of AOR (that’s album oriented rock to you kids) that made it into the programming. I was pleasantly surprised to hear David Bowie’s “Suffragette City” on a trip to the bathroom one day. The other day I heard Lynyrd Skynyrd (!) “That Smell” and later a track from the Who’s Quadrophenia album. I don’t have a problem with any of this music, it’s just that I never thought I’d be working at a desk job where the safe for work “muzak” would include hard rock classics. If on the way to look for paper for the copy machine I hear Ted Nugent or Black Sabbath next, I think my head will explode.

So how did I celebrate St Paddy’s Day weekend? Um, I wore my winter coat which is army green? No? I went to Oak Park which is a suburb of Chicago. I took the Green-line train? Eh? I bought a double cheese burger and some fries. I paid cash, that’s green money? Huh? Good enuff, no? FINE, here’s some friggin’ comics…

Power Girl #4: This comic came out in 2009, but I’m just now getting around to it. It’s a fun one and done story written by Justin gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Amanda Conner.Peej and Terra go out to the movies and have to stop a witch who wants monsters to destroy the city in order to save the environment. The story is mostly humorous with just enough action to remind you that you’re reading a superhero comic and just enough sub-plot to get you curious about further issues. The thing that makes this comic work however is Conner’s art. The way she depicts facial expressions really carry a lot of the humor. Also, I really appreciate the way Conner draws Power Girl. Kara is  busty, but she’s athletic looking as well. She looks like a woman who could give you a hard time in a fight as opposed to a girl with a boob-job. One drawback, I don’t think the new Terra’s name is actually mentioned in this issue.

Godland #34: I guess we’re coming to the end of the series. The story is by Joe Casey and the art is from Tom Scioli and a bunch of way out cosmic stuff happens that I don’t think I can begin to explain. The sun has been replaced by god knows what. The hero is on the other side of the galaxy and has to get back home. Bad guys are turning on each other while mice dressed like Superman and Clark Kent are under foot. There’s enormous space stations and viking space giants floating around and cosmic beings just…being cosmic. The series has mostly been a tribute to bronze age science fiction-y comics in general and Jack Kirby in particular, but with enough of Casey’s personality  and other underground sensibilities that it doesn’t come off as a just an imitation of “the king’s” work.

Batman Inc #3: Cool. A Batman comic where he doesn’t act like a control freak jerk. Bats goes to Argentina to recruit El Gaucho to join his group of international Batmen and gets involved in a plot concerning arms dealers and missing children. Story by Grant Morrison. Pencils by Yanick Paquette. Inks mostly by Michel Lacombe. This comic is breezy and action packed. Very nice detailed art from Paquette. He shows a real knowledge of bodies, form, composition, and storytelling.

Van Morrison is Irish http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjs1mm5vngc

So’s John Lydon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylOCIP54PIQ

Oh…before I sat down to write this column, I went to the liquor store to get some beer. On the way, I walked past a few drunk muscle bound frat-boy type guys. One of them said to me, “You going the wrong way, old man?” I said, “I’m going the right way,”  and kept walking. In the distance, I heard something like “come back and I’ll show you something.” I couldn’t make it a whole 24 hours without some jerk bursting my  St Paddy’s Day brotherhood of man bubble.

Random Comics Review: Marvel’s Greatest Comics #71, 1977

Ok, this is a comic from 1977. It’s a re-print of Fantastic Four #89 from 1969. It appears to be the second part of a story where Reed  looks for a new house to live in and the team is ambushed by the Mole Man. Story and art are by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby respectively.

There’s not much of a plot. The team here is Reed, Ben, Johnny, Sue and Crystal who was Sue’s replacement for a moment. They are blinded by the Mole Man as soon as they enter the house and the rest of the issue is  a fight between the villain and the sightless heroes. The Mole man has some vague plan about using a machine to blind all the surface people on Earth and take over or something. Reed injures himself while destroying the Mole Man’s power staff and the rest of the team finishes of Mole Man. There’s a two page interlude that sets up  the action for next issue.

That’s pretty much it. Some cool aspects  include the fact that most of the members get a chance to do something interesting, if not actually shine. My favorite part is where it’s Sue who actually knocks the Mole Man to the ground and forces off his special glasses. Other neat moments include where a pissed off Johnny gives the Mole Man a lecture about self- pity and the Thing  giving Reed artificial respiration ( just cuz I’m not sure if he was squeezing Reed’s ribs or just moving the body).

The art is by “King” Kirby with inks by Joe Sinnott. Action packed and bombastic. Like I said, this issue is basically a fight in a fancy house, but Jack makes it feel like  it could have been D-Day. The sub-plot has a splash  page that seems to be a collage. Marvel artists at the time (late sixties) seemed to be willing to let themselves be influenced by pop art trends that where popular then. They didn’t use the phrase decades ago, but Jack was the embodiment of  “go big or go home.”

Interesting ads include  a how-to book for making money from customizing vans, a body building device called the Power-X  (which seemed to be a heavy rubber thing the user is supposed to stretch), and of course, no mid-70’s Marvel Comic would be complete without an advertisement for Hostess treats. In this one a villain called Madam Web frames Spiderman in an attempt to get him to run way with her. Spidey gets Madam Web to turn herself in by promising her Twinkies.