Saturday, September 07, 2019

Alpha Flight: True North review

If you were Canadian and a geek in the late 70s and early 80s odds are you were buying Alpha Flight. A team of Canadian heroes basically assembled to give the X-Men a solid fight, they proved to be so popular that co-creator John Byrne launched a series featuring the characters.

A lot of people now may not know the team, or only be passingly familiar, but back in their day Alpha Flight was one of the best selling monthly comics. A chunk of that had to do with how popular Byrne was. During the 1980s there were few comic book artists bigger than he was. So when he left Alpha Flight after 28 issues, the series began a slow decline. Some big name artists worked on the series, like Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and Jim Lee (pretty much everything), but there's little after Byrne that is considered classic. Those issues have never been reprinted and aren't even available on Comixology or Marvel Unlimited. 

The series was cancelled after 130 issues, which is a decent run. Since then there have been attempts to bring the series back, but most didn't last long and were of....variable quality.

There hasn't been an Alpha Flight series in over seven years. But given that Marvel reboots everything eventually, and that many of the characters have played supporting roles in recent years in books like Captain Marvel and the Immortal Hulk, there's a feeling in the air that the team is due for a comeback. Plus there's this intriguing rumour about a Hulk/Wolverine movie featuring Alpha Flight.

But what most people wanted was, well, a good Alpha series.

So a few months ago Marvel announced a one-shot - Alpha Flight: True North. Featuring three 10-page stories told by all-Canadian creative teams. This was accompanied by the thinly veiled suggestion that if it sold well, a new Alpha Flight series might result.

So how is the one-shot? Well, I'm going to do a rare comic review on the book.

1. Mired in the Past
W. Jim Zub
A. Max Dunbar
C. Jim Charalampidis

This marks the third story in the last two years or so that Jim Zub has set in Nunavut. Two in Champions were in Pangnirtung (he co-wrote one with Nyla Inuksuk) with this one in Kugaaruk. At this point we should just consider him an honourary Nunavummiut.

In this case, two members of Alpha Flight go the Kugaaruk after an old evil, with a tie to Snowbird's past, reemerges from the thawing permafrost.

It's a solid little action story with Talisman and Snowbird having to fight a monster. It might not sound like much, but in the space of 10-pages Zub manages to tie off a very old loose end from Alpha Flight, set-up some potential storylines in the future if the series gets picked up (what else might be thawing out in the North because of climate change?) and script a solid fight scene with an emotional payoff.

Of course, he's ably helped by Max Dunbar. I first ran into his art on Champions, although he draws a lot of D&D related comics. It shows, because Dunbar draws some pretty spectacular monsters. Not the "I will have nightmares about this for days" (see Ben Templesmith and Bill Sienkiewicz), but more of a "those are some pretty cool looking monsters."

My only nitpick is that Talisman was introduced as one of the most powerful mystics in the Marvel universe, and yet she always seems to get in over her head. Can't address everything in 10 pages, but it would be nice if it was taken care of in the future. Although kudos for using her new, less skin-revealing costume which is just spectacular.

Future Alpha Flight Creative Team Rating: 8.5/10


2. Monsters
W. Jed MacKay
A. Djibril Morrisette-Phan
C. Ian Herring

After defeating an off-page villain called The Beast in PEI, Aurora and Northstar work on their tan, while Puck and Marrina take a walk on the beach, with Puck telling an old story of his last time on the island and it's surprising connection to Marrina.

Oh, this one was a delight. I thought it was going to be a straightforward flashback Puck story, but the twist of how it connects to Marrina and her reaction made it a joy. Just in case you think you can't do a metric ton of character development in 10 pages this story proves otherwise. MacKay take full advantage of the fact that Puck has always been a natural storyteller. Plus he nicely reins in the "angry alien" character tic that was going on with Marrina the last time we saw her. She's no longer the naive girl we were introduced to years ago, or the victim she's been way too often. Instead she's a little playful, much more thoughtful and adult. It's a staggeringly welcome change.

The last page makes you wish MacKay had another 6 issues to play with. And seriously, someone now needs to write a story with Puck meeting Elsa Bloodstone.

Morrisette-Phan's artwork is perhaps a little less polished than what you saw with Dunbar, but then again he has a harder job. Dunbar got to draw heroes fighting monsters. Morrisette-Phan has to draw two characters walking on a beach talking, with occasional bits of flashback to monster fighting. It's more moody and atmospheric, but it's a story of monsters, regret and forgiveness. The art and colouring is subdued, but I think it works.

Btw, bonus points for Marrina referring to herself as a "Canadian, Newfoundlander and an Alphan." This is why you need Canadians on the book. That's a point of subtlety that I'm not sure most non-Canadian writers would get.

Future Alpha Creative Team Rating: 9.5/10


3. Illegal Guardians
W. Ed Brisson
A. Scott Hepburn
C. Jim Charalampidis

Heather Hudson (Vindicator) is on the run after the events of the last Alpha Flight series. After a mercenary team attacks her and her daughter, she has to decide whether or not to accept the help of her estranged husband, James MacDonald Hudson (Guardian).

I'm not saying Brisson drew the short straw, but Zub gets to do monsters in the Arctic and MacKay gets to have Puck being charming and telling monster stories. Brisson has 10 pages to try and fix the mess the last creative team left Heather Hudson in. Long the heart of the team, the woman who took over leadership of Alpha Flight when her husband was murdered in front of her (he got better. Comics!), she got worked over pretty good in the last series, what with being brainwashed, betraying her country and team, murdering members of her family, kidnapping her daughter, and then going on the run.

Fix that in 10 pages.

Brisson makes a go of it. After a bit of a clunky start (which turns out was supposed to be deliberately a little clunky), you get some nice scenes of Heather and James trying to at least be friends again for the sake of their daughter. And then you get a deeply creepy twist and cliffhanger at the end. Seriously, the more I think about it, the more I think women readers are going to be genuinely horrified by it. You now really have to hope for a new Alpha series, because it needs to be addressed and there also needs to be, you would hope, some pretty serious consequences for Mac and his actions.

As well, I'm kind of meh on Hepburn's art. The one action sequences felt more like something I would have seen in a 90s Marvel book. Kind of clunky. Heather's costume appears by magic, which is weird. And I really don't enjoy how he draws faces, particularly Heather's, which gets bizarrely angular at one point. It's ok, but not great.

Future Alpha Creative Team Rating: 6.5/10

So do I think you should track it down? Absolutely. Not just because I want more Alpha Flight comics, but this is a solid one-shot. It's friendly for new readers, taps into parts of Alpha lore that most long-time fans are going to enjoy and has mostly solid art. It also lays some pretty solid groundwork for a future Alpha Flight series. Which, hopefully, won't be too far away.

Last Five
1. Everything is wrong - Interpol
2. Nova Heart - Spoons
3. Are you ten years ago - Tegan and Sara
4. Bullet in the brain - The Black Keys
5. Talkin' about revolution - Tracy Chapman



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Con aquistions

For the second time in in two years I'm just back from the Emerald City Comic Con. I had so much fun in 2017 that I immediately began making plans to go back. There are a lot of perks to that con....Seattle is a great city, it's a four-day con so it's worth the work to get to it, a break from Nunavut in March is always nice....plus it's just a great con. It's big, but not insane like New York has become. And they work hard on their artist alley to make it diverse. So it's not just white guys selling art. There's lots of women, POC, GLBTQ and artists just getting started so this kind of con is a big break for them.

Some may go to ECCC for the cosplay, or the gaming section, the show floor and the endless supply of Funko toys (so, so much Funko at this show. Dear god....), but I live for a good artist alley. I don't normally post this kind of thing up. It feels like bragging, which I guess it is, but I have all this cool art and can't really show it to anyone. Cathy will certainly nod and make appreciative noises, but she doesn't love this stuff like I do. Which is fine. She has her things as well....

I might have gone a little overboard. But I always do. So here's the artwork I got, along with a bit of information about the artist. If you like the art, I really encourage you to go and track down the artists. They often have all kinds of things you can buy...original art, t-shirts, pins, prints, etc.



After a couple of false starts, my first commission was from Valentine Barker. Absolutely go and check out his site for some of the awesome "....Like a Girl" prints and t-shirts he has for sale. My niece may be getting a few things from him for her birthday. I often hem and haw about what I'm going to ask an artist to draw. It's why I've started carrying a list on my phone. However, Ms. Marvel was a pretty obvious choice for Valentine and he did a spectacular job.



Phillip Nguyen was a spur of the moment commission. I was walking past his table and saw the prints he had there and started chatting with him. He had a particularly nice Batgirl when she was Stephanie Brown and I asked if he could draw her. He turned this about in about two hours. 



One of the funnier interactions I had getting a commission from the con was with Brianna Garcia. I carry a list of characters on my phone that I would like to see get drawn and ask the artist if they have a preference. When Brianna saw Holtzmann from the last Ghostbusters movie (I loved that movie. Fuck fanboys who hated it because it had women as the leads) on the list she got super excited and really, really, really wanted to draw her. Always have a list, just for this reason.



Jim Zub is the co-creator of the Inuk super hero Snowguard and it was absolutely a priority for me to get a sketch of her when I was in Seattle. Jim mostly writes these days, but as you can see, he's still a damn good artist. He was deeply reluctant to draw her for me. As he flipped through my sketchbook he was horrified I wanted his art in my book because he didn't think he was good enough. Which is ridiculous because it's a fantastic sketch and I'm thrilled I got it.

Just in case you ever doubt your skills, realize that some of the very best in the business still don't think they're good enough. I also can't say enough nice things about Jim. Had a great chat with him about how important Snowguard is and to keep fighting for appearances for her. He also signed a ton of comics for me, which was kind of him.



Michael Cho is one of the hottest and best artists in the business. He was the first table I went to at the con. By the time I got to it there was already three people in front of me. He draws everything well, but since he was only doing headshots I wanted something unique. Batwoman was, I think you'll agree, a pretty good choice.



Steve Lieber is one of those artists that everyone in the comic industry admires not just because he's good, but because he's also pretty smart about the industry and what it takes to put together a good comic. He's drawn just about everyone at some point. I first remember discovering him reading the excellent Whiteout which he drew and Greg Rucka wrote (ignore the awful movie). Recently he was drawing the pretty damn funny The Fix. He also drew Hawkworld many moons ago, so I asked for this Hawkgirl. I think he drew this in an hour. 

Artists are freaky, man.


Terry Dodson is one of my absolute favourite artists. Two years ago at ECCC in Seattle he drew a beautiful Princess Leia. This time I hit him up for a Bombshell Batgirl (DC's Bombshells are a significant weakness of mine. I love the costume design). If you look closely you can see a page torn out of the book (this was a new book I was starting). He started drawing, hated it, tore the page out and started over. 

"It was technically fine, but there was no fun in it. So it had to go." I'm pretty damn happy with results.



Lynne Yoshii is one of those artists I really didn't know too much about until I walked past her table, did a double take and asked if she was taking on any commissions. It was late Saturday, so I was pretty lucky she was. She scrolled down my list and settled on Bombshell Harley Quinn. This was the sketch that made me decide I was finished at ECCC. I picked this up Sunday morning, decided it wasn't going to be topped and stopped asking artists for commissions. Because I'm evil, when I go to the next con and an artist is flipping through my sketchbook, this is the last piece I want them to see before they start drawing. Because artists are competitive. Go ahead. Top this.


I tried very hard to focus on sketches at ECCC simply because I have no wall space left. However, my will power is for shit. I also bought several other pages of art. Now I have to find homes for them.


Some of you may recall the Bruce Willis movie Red that came out in 2010. It was originally based on a comic by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. The movie and comic have very little to do with one another. I believe Ellis once said the movie would have been 20 minutes long if based only on the comic. I love the movie, but it's its own thing. The comic is one of those things that looks effortless and slight until you dig into it and see everything that's going on. Hamner is a large part of the reason why it's great.

I actually bought this before the con and picked it up there. Hamner was apparently cleaning up and found a bunch of pages from the series. Which is hilarious. I took this page out at another table when putting something away and other artists wanted to look at it and were in awe I managed to get a page. It is a masterclass in graphic story telling.



I am, I admit, slightly obsessed with Snowguard. I desperately wanted a page of original art with her in it. The problem is that most of the artists that have drawn her so far work digitally. This was especially frustrating when Marcus To did the recent Champions annual that focussed on her. Fortunately Max Dunbar did a recent story arc where the team visited Weirdworld and became fantasy character versions of themselves. This was an easy page to pick. Snowguard, Ms. Marvel, Brawn, Wasp and Man-Things. All good stuff.

Aside from being a great artist, Max is one of the nicest, most chill guys you'll meet.



This page was a bit of an ooops. I was waiting to get Aaron Lopestri to sign a copy of the Wonder Woman/Conan book he did with Gail Simone, but he talking to someone. So I started flipping through his portfolio. sigh....Not a splashy action page, but a nice quiet character moment between Conan and Wonder Woman. I also got Simone to sign it and she spent a few moments appreciating the page and singing Aaron's praises. Justifiably.



One of the cool things ECCC does each year is put together an art book called "Monsters and Dames" with all proceeds going towards a children's hospital in Seattle. It's a good cause and there's normally huge demand to get into the book even though artists aren't paid for it. One thing many people, including myself, then do is walk around Artist Alley and get the book signed by everyone. It's fun, you get to chat to the artists and sometimes pick up something from someone whose table you might have ordinarily walked past. But everyone understands you can't buy something from every table. There are 80 pieces of art in the book.

This page, by Ryan Fisher, was one of the ones in the book. I hit his table early Saturday morning and while he was signing the book I noticed he had the original piece of art on the table. I'm always going to have a weakness for cute magicians in fishnets, but this was a cool piece and he had priced, in my opinion, a bit too low. I'm surprised it was still there on Saturday, but I'm glad it was.



Charity comic art auctions are always dangerous for me. Fun, but there's almost 100% certainty I will accidentally buy something. This Captain Marvel by Chrystal Fae was it. It was the second piece auctioned off and Captain Marvel had just opened. I liked it but thought the bidding would keep going after I raised my paddle. Nope. It's a very lovely ooops, though.



This last one I actually did gun for. I got outbid on a few pieces (always set a price in your head and stick to it, no matter how much it hurts to let it go), but this one by Chris Uminga came in less than I was ready to go, so that was nice surprise. I like Uminga's style and own a Wonder Woman figure based of his art. Also, I'm always a sucker for Ben Grimm/The Thing.

So there we go. A lot of art, but it's all lovely to look at and I got some good stories to go along with it. It's another reason I like going to cons. I buy from the artist, talk to them, get a good story or help out a good cause.

Last Five
1. Politik - Coldplay
2. Time of your life - Green Day
3. Candy - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
4. Sweet fire of love - Robbie Robertson*
5. Guest room - The National

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

A cautious return

With the mid-term elections over I'm apparently supposed to come back to social media. I have one friend on Twitter who has been eager for me to come back for my geek knowledge if nothing else (dude, seriously, we can just meet for coffee at the Black Heart or something). And I probably will dip my toes back into it.

However....

The mid-term elections in the US fundamentally changed very little in social media. It was a convenient date on a map, but I see no end in sight to the level of online toxicity. It'll be Canada's turn next year. It won't get to the horrific heights seen in the US the last few months, but it's not going to be pretty.

And today essentially kicks off the start of the 2020 US presidential campaign. Yeah. Seriously. Feel free to start weeping now.

But I do miss elements of social media, I just need to do it smarter than the last time, just for the sake of my sanity. So what's the plan?

1. Do a significant purge on Facebook and anyone who annoys me in the slightest gets blocked/muted. That's a hint at trying to be civil and respectful in the upcoming federal election. The amount of Hitler references I saw in the lead-up to the last election was disgraceful.

2. Go though my Twitter and start purging accounts that I don't need to follow anymore.

3. Set up key word blockers on Twitter, particularly for "Trump" and anything else I find along the way.

4. I'm not reinstalling either Facebook or Twitter on my phone to limit my time using it.

5. No more than 1 hour a day, combined, looking at them. That's still probably too much, but it's a place to start and we'll take it from there.

I'm kind of sorry it's had to come to this. I like interacting with friends online simply because I get to see them so rarely in person. I like getting access to random, cool information from more knowledgeable people that I might have otherwise missed. But the problem with opening the flood gates is that everything comes through and a lot of it is really not good for you.

Cathy and I resolved awhile back to cut unnecessary drama from our lives. We've done a reasonably good job of it. A friend of mine asked recently how do you do that. Well, there's a way, and it's doable, but like all things there's a cost. You eliminate the sources of the drama. Sometimes that's people, sometimes it's social media.

(For friends who haven't spoke to me in awhile, it's more likely that I suck at being a friend and reaching out when I should. My hatred of talking to most people on the phone stretches back decades.)

It's not for everybody and not everybody would want to do it or even understand why we'd want to live like that. But we like it, and we like the relative stress-free aspect of our lives. So I'll give Facebook and Twitter another go, but much more cautiously this time.

Last Five
1. Parking lots - Josh Pyke
2. She's electric - Oasis
3. The needle and the damage done (live) - Neil Young*
4. The herring song - The Flash Girls
5. Ain't it fun - Paramore

Friday, September 14, 2018

8 years, 281 days

It was about nine years ago that Cathy decided we needed a house. She was very certain on this matter.

View from the living room window.
On the other hand, I thought this was madness. I had many solid reasons for thinking so. We'd just come back from a pricey vacation in Australia for almost four weeks. I was also unemployed, with my contract with the Government of Nunavut having expired earlier the summer. And while I was sure I would get something, I didn't have anything at the moment Cathy was hatching this scheme.

Plus I didn't see the need for the place. We had a perfectly nice apartment downtown. Cathy could walk to work in minutes. All the grocery stores were nearby and it had a perfectly nice view. And it was a quiet building. No kids. So why rock the boat?

But Cathy wanted a house and went about persuading me. She was convinced we were fine on finances (indeed, the bank pre-approved us for a staggering and insane amount) and she set about keeping an eye for new places. I distinctly remember having a conversation when driving where she said "Look, if you think this is a bad idea and feel that strongly about it, we don't have to do this."

I might have only been married for four years at that point, but a little klaxon was going off in the back of my head telling me that, at all costs, do not accept this offer. This was a trap and I would be punished in ways that would not be enjoyable.

Compromises were made. At some point I think Cathy dangled letting me having a spare bedroom and converting into a den/geek space/Room of Requirement. That and the promise that we weren't going to beyond our means on a house. I thought the later point secured us from having to worry about it for quite some time. Iqaluit real estate was insane in 2009; it's only gotten worse since.

View of the house at Christmas. Cathy loves to light the
place up.
After one failed attempt and several deeply meh houses, we stumbled on one. I should emphasize the amount of dumb luck karma that went into getting this house. First, there were no building inspectors in Iqaluit at that time. So we had to do the best we could to figure out what kind of shape it was in with our deeply limited experience. The people wanted to move quickly, so the process was expedited. We first looked at the house in mid-October; we moved in on December 1.

Where did the dumb luck come in? Turns out the neighbourhood we live in - Tundra Ridge - is one of the nicer ones in town. My neighbours include a former premier, the CEO of Nunavut Tourism and the President of QIA. The house itself was built by a mad Dane back at the turn of the century and all the ones he build are known for quality and sturdiness of the construction. And other than a contractor related disaster last fall on some renovations, we haven't had any problems. Plus the views are spectacular.

So yeah, we've used some good luck on this house. Having said that, I remember in November 2009 signing my name committing to paying back what seemed like an ungodly amount of money over the next 25 years.

Except it wasn't 25 years. It was exactly 8 years and 281 days. As of September 7 we made our last mortgage payment. The house is now ours.

All ours.
(Yes, I know. I'm burying the lede. I prefer to think of as setting the scene for the payoff).

Cathy and I are phenomenally proud of this achievement. We both try not to brag much, but we've been bursting the last few weeks as we knew this day was approaching. Every two weeks we'd get a letter from RBC updating us on how much was left on our mortgage. You've never seen two people happier to be getting mail from a bank about a mortgage update.

We had help, of course. Cathy's parents kicked in a few thousand dollars when we first bought the house. Both sets of our parents installed in us an ethic to not get in over our heads financially. Bills got paid on time. We love our vacations, but they only happen after everything else is taken care of. Same with my geekery (Cathy's only bad habits, I swear, are Swatch watches and Fluevog shoes).

We've had a couple of people ask how we did it. Well, not having kids, not smoking, drinking little and not owning a ski-doo, boat, ATV or multiple cars helped too. You prioritize where you want to spend the money. Getting out from under the bank and our trips around the world were our priorities. Yours may vary.

As for what's next, we have a few things to catch up on. Cathy's laptop is about 8 years old. My desktop is 7 years old. I might get another year out of my computer, but Cathy's laptop is on death's door. We may even splurge on a new TV set. And in two years, when I turn...sigh....50, I'm taking a couple of months off work and we're going to travel to Australia (head's up, Sarah). So some reserves to pull that off will be a good idea.

And then back to saving money. It's not like we're suddenly going to be eating out every night and buying new cars or boats. It's not us. Plus, we have ambitious retirement plans. Cathy's insisting we retire to a place with palm trees. So that will take some doing.

But mainly we'll just enjoy not owing any money. I can't overstate enough how much we hate owing banks money.

Oh, and we'll be burning our mortgage at some point soon. Safely away from the house, of course. I like a little irony as much as the next person, but that would be a bit too much.

Last Five
1. Lazy bones - Joel Plaskett
2. Heart vs. doubt - Sherman Downey and the Ambiguous Case
3. Believe in me - Sloan
4. Old Dan Tucker - Bruce Springsteen*
5. Feud - Band of Horses


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Welcome to Ireland

So, vacation time 2018 is here. I haven’t done a great job of these little blogger journals the last couple of years and I miss them. They’re a nice reminder of what we’ve seen and done and impressions. Plus, you know, more writing is a good thing to get into the habit of.

But first, allow me to indulge in a small conspiracy.

The flight over was a slightly below par international Air Canada flight aboard an older plane with uncomfortable seats. And we were an hour late arriving. Among the many sins of Air Canada I certainly can’t get outraged over it.

But it did land us right in the middle of a flood of planes arriving in Dublin. A lot of eastern North American cities launch flights in the late evening so they arrive the next morning allowing you to save the cost of a hotel....at the price of being jetlagged out of your mind the first day you arrive. But details.

So as we’re wandering down the endless corridors of Dublin International Airport to get to customs and immigration when we walk past a sign that said it was five minutes ahead. Then, about 10 seconds later, we ran into a wall of people that didn’t move for the next 30 minutes. And then for the next hour begrudgingly crawled forward a few inches at a time.

Far be it for me to tell the Irish, well known for their efficiency, that perhaps taking a couple of hundred jetlagged people in a deeply irritable mood who want to do little more than get to a hotel room to shower and nap that this is not the best way to endear warm feelings and a desire to spend money in your country. But if there was a suggestion box at immigration I might have slipped that note in.

It got worse when you got near the front. EU citizens had been breezing past the non-EU citizens at a healthy clip during these 90 minutes. In fact, helpful immigration staff were routinely going up and down the line to rescue any that might have accidentally wandered into the wrong line. Which always buoys spirits....but only European ones.

(When one of the immigration officials checked to see if there were any wayward EU citizens in our area and asked “You’re all Americans, right?” a dozen voices sang out “No! Canadians!” Her response of “Americans, Canadians...whatever” was quickly matched by my annoyed “Irish, English....whatever”, but she didn’t hear it, much to Cathy’s relief.)

Near the front there were about eight machines which only required EU citizens to place their passport into a scanner to be admitted. A process that takes about 15 seconds. There were also four officials there to deal with the few who were EU-Ctizens but required help.

And for the hundreds of non-EU people in line waiting in line? Four people.

I mean, it’s so breaktakingly stupid that it gave me pause. When we were in Portugal last year the line was ridiculous, but it kept moving and there were about a dozen immigration agents. It took about 30 minutes to get through with more people.

And so, the conspiracy. After I saw how many agents were handing non-EU I said out loud “Jesus, is this some kind of EU ‘go fuckyourself Americans for voting for Donald Trump and giving us all migraines’ and Canadians are just caught in the crossfire?”

I uttered my conspiracy mostly for Cathy’s amusement, but then a voice behind me went “I’m from America and I was just thinking the exact same thing.”

So if you’re Canadian and travelling from North America to the EU, perhaps be prepared for a chilled welcome, no matter how many Canadian flags you have on your backpack.

Most of the rest of the first day was spent getting to the hotel, shower and napping. We did manage a wander of the area, and to hit a pub for a pint and a meal. The main wandering about will be in the next post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Break time

After Trump won the 2016 presidential election I took a break from social media for a couple of months. The pure despair and misery on social media was simply more than I could handle. And it was a much needed break. But much like any addict there was an eventual lapse and I gave it another go.

I'm hit and miss on Facebook, to be honest. I like the vague idea of keeping in touch with friends, but it's not like I actually learn of anything going on in their lives on that site. People have learned their lesson and are much more judicious about what they say there.

And while I like Instagram, the realities of Northern internet means waiting two minutes for photos to load can quickly become annoying.

No, my major vice is Twitter. I'm an information junkie. I recall being at King's back in 1994/95 and spending hours reading news groups and my classmates thinking I was nuts. But it was information and I love knowing things. And Twitter gives you that constant flow of information. Whether it's political news, geekery, fun pics/memes, it's a constant hit of information.

But I hit my wall last weekend. Again. My social media news feeds were 90% seething rage. The rage was:

- Donald Trump
- Kids being snatched at the border
- The Red Hen story
- And, bizarrely, a woman being raked over the coals for calling the cops on an eight-year-old selling bottled water.

The start of this week hasn't calmed down much, what with the recent Supreme Court ruling in the United States. And today Justice Kennedy announcing his retirement that also means there will now be a fight over a seat on the Supreme Court. It is going to be a summer of unending, seething rage in the United States. That country is so messed up, so angry and incoherent, that if it were a patient you would commit it and give it all the drugs.

There is literally nothing I can do about this and frankly it is beginning to stress me the fuck out. I'm not thrilled with the idea of sticking my head in the sand, but I need a break. I have a perfectly lovely vacation planned for most of July. In August I have my usual "Movies Cathy Hates" marathon planned while she's in Newfoundland. I have about 30 books to read.

I have writing I've been putting off for ages. There are more useful things I can do....things that are better mentally for me, than having an online front row seat to watching the United States try to eat itself alive. Until the mid-term elections in November, most social media outlets will be unbearable. I mean, a solid third of my Twitter stream is just comic book geeks. You'd figure that would be safe, but you would be wrong.

So until that happens, I'm out of here. As of July 1 I'm off Twitter, Facebook and Instagram until November 15. Granted, no one reads this blog unless I post a link to one of those sites. So we'll see if anyone notices.

I'm sure there will be lapses. I'm hoping to go to Emerald City Comic Con next March, and registration is normally in October. So there might be some sneaking around at that time for any information. And there will always be lapses. But I won't be on it every day for what probably amounts to hours.

If you need to reach me, my email address (towniebastard (at) gmail ) will do the trick. And I'll still monitor Facebook Messenger if you really need to reach me. Plus there's this thing you can do with iPhones I've heard about. Apparently there's an app that allows you to call and speak to people. So that's a thing I could try to, I guess.

The next four months or so will be absolutely batshit crazy. Take care of yourselves, folks.

Last Five
1. The trip to pirate's cove - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. Fever - Neko Case
3. From Finner - Of Monsters and Men
4. Road to joy - Bright Eyes
5. Kingdom of days - Bruce Springsteen

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Geekery for sale

Once a year I go though my geek den and ask myself the sickening question...."Do I need to keep this?"

I'm a geek and a collector. Getting rid of things is never an easy choice for me. However, I have a hard limit on how much space I have for my stuff as Cathy has decreed that while I certainly can buy all the graphic novels I want (a deal she has cursed on more than once), she has also decreed that the geekery cannot escape the room. And since my geekery has expanded beyond graphic novels to include Lego, figurines and original artwork, well, space is at a premium. So what's the sense of holding onto books or toys that I no longer need.

I should mention that most of the graphic novels are fine, just not my thing. The comic publisher Image, in particular, does this marvelous thing of offering up Volume 1 of most of their trade paperbacks at a low price. So you can try it out and if you like it, great and you will pay regular price for all future volumes. If not, you're out a few bucks.

I mention all of this because I'm going to list a bunch of graphic novels I have for sale. This is primarily for Iqaluit geeks....I can just link to this post from Twitter. But if you're abroad and see something you desperately want, and are willing to pay shipping, I'm sure we can work out an arrangement.

If you're local, DM me on Twitter is the best way. Or email me at towniebastard at gmail dot com.

Happy hunting....


All-Star Superman (Morrison/Quietly) Vol 1 and 2 (HC - sold as set. Contains #1-12) - $15
Transmetropolitan (Ellis/Robertson) Vol. 1-10 (sold as set) - $50

Magneto (Bunn/Walta) Vol. 1 and 2 (sold as set) - $8
Strange Tales (Various) HC - $5
Gotham Academy (Cloonan/Fletcher/Kerschul) Vol. 1 and 2 (sold as set) - $8
Shade, the Changing Girl (Castellucci) Vol. 1 - $4
Justice League: A League of One (Moeller) - $4

Low (Reminder/Tocchini) (sold as set) Vol. 1-2, $8
Jonsey (Humphries/Boyle) Vol. 1 - $2 (slight damage)
Ghost (DeConnick/Noto) Vol. 1 - $4
Tokyo Ghost (Reminder/Murphy) – Vol. 1 - $4
Mythic (Hester/McCrea) Vol. 1 - $4
Mara (Wood/Doyle) Vol. 1 - $4
Shutter (Keatinge/Del Duca) Vol. 1 - $4
No Mercy (De Campi/McNeil) Vol. 1 - $4 (signed)
Letter 44 (Soule/Alburquerque) Vol. 1 - $4
Black Magick (Rucka/Scott) Vol. 1 - $4
The Discipline (Milligan/Ferandez) - $4
Doctor Who: The Four Doctors (Cornell/Edwards) - $4
Bounty (Weibe/Lee) Vol. 1 - $4
Rockstars (Harris/Hutchinson) Vol. 1 - $4
Josie and the Pussycats (Bennett/Deordio) Vol. 1 - $4
Outcast (Kirkman/Azaceta) Vol. 1 - $4
Flutter (Wood) - $4
CSI: Dying in the Gutters (Grant/Mooney) - $2

Kids
Polly and the Pirates (Naifeh/Rodriguez) Vol. 1-2 - $4
Courtney Crummin series (Naifeh) Vol. 1-4 - $8
Newprints (Xi) - $2 (signed)

Toys
Rhino (Funko Pop. Still in box. Never open) - $5
Black Panther (Funko Wobbler) - $3
Thanos with Sanctuary II (Giant bloody Funko Pop. Limited edition)  - $25
Avengers: Infinity War heat changing mug - $3
C3PO Snapback hat (Funko) - $3
Spider-man snapback hat (Funko) - $3

Random assortment of figures (Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Buffy,  Mr. Freeze, Captain Marvel, etc) - $1-5 each. Not in package.