Friday, 31 January 2014

The girls and I are gonna shoot a video in your driveway

So I'm drawing post-apocalyptic comics because I apparently want to be That Kind Of Comics Person now.  Given my epic consumption of even the trashiest post-nuclear narratives in the last few months, this was probably an inevitable turn-up for the books much like metal fans taking art classes but still ending up drawing skulls and snakes, or - if they're a bit ambitious - bare ladies, but I take some solace that the project more than anything else errs towards shamelessly channeling A Canticle For Liebowitz even though I wasn't consciously doing so going in.  I mean, Mad Max and Fist of the North Star clones are plentiful enough that no-one wants another, surely?
I am gambling on the answer to that one being "yes."

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Don't cut me in front of my kids

I wasn't in too much of a hurry to watch the final three episodes of Treme, because once it was over, it was over forever, and I knew I would miss seeing an attempt to render real Americans on tv rather than just and idealised version of the most well-off representatives of the population as seen in... well, in every damn tv show from America that I watch.
I recall watching the first couple of episodes of the painful Skins adaptation and running into a wall quite early when the show revealed itself as set in Baltimore, and after seeing the Wire I just didn't recognise this place at all and it might as well have been set on the Moon.  This was my main bone of contention with it, though there were other problems it had - particularly that it was a show for cunts - and the same problem followed me to my viewing of Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals, which was set in a parallel reality version of New Orleans that I didn't recognise from watching Treme for the last few years, not the city itself, the culture on display, the very, very Caucasian-looking cast, and, of course, there was also that it was a show for cunts.

Despite it ruining lesser television for me and making me an even bigger and more obnoxious snob, I will miss Treme.  I like that it was a show unafraid to show a different aspect of American culture than we're used to seeing, as we sure don't need another show about the New York Irish or Italians, valid though their cultural identity is despite many attempts to ridicule the notion of Guidos as all being mafiosas and Irish Americans all "plastic paddies" or whatever - that is their culture and I believe it's real and a big part of their identity and who they are - but enough with whitey on tv, already, he's had a great run and is not exactly under-represented.
I don't know what the next Treme is going to be, but I want it already.

If you can't express yourself in more eloquent terms kindly shut your cakehole

The universe, for some reason, has given me tickets to a rugby match.
Don't get me wrong, if it's grown men and they're doing it willingly then I respect their lifestyle choices, but in general that kind of thing is not for me.

Friday, 24 January 2014

never be yourself - you're an awful person

Note to self: work on line weight.

And so ends another week and another pitch is in the bag to go show to editors - normally I'd make a joke about how it was going to fail or wasn't up to scratch and I wouldn't blame editors for setting the dogs on me HOHOHO I KNOW I AM LAME SO NO NEED TO KICK ME WHILE I AM DOWN, but you know what?  I do actually take the work seriously now, and objectively I can admit I have tried and I have turned in material to the best of my current ability and I think it is on the same standard as some stuff that I have seen out there which wasn't drawn by me, so What The Hey, People, I have given it the old-school try and if it fails so be it, at least I'll have some blog filler for down the line somewhere and you can point and laugh at my incompetence while I take notes and vow to be better Next Time.

Meanwhile the weekend awaits and I've got some beer and nuts in as the weather outside looks dreadful, so I shall wish you all a dryer weekend than I look to be having and hope you enjoy it wherever you find yourself.

If you stay in the game long enough, you've got to lose

Some appalling colour choices today, but this is what happens when I get 12 hours to put a whole page together - thankfully, pitch pages will go straight in a bin and never embarrass me publicly.  I leave that to karaoke.

Been watching the final season of Treme, a fine antidote to the notion - fuelled by the likes of Glee - that America has no culture.  Hitting the occasional predictable note so far, but still fine television that I'll miss something rotten.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

So let's just fire up the Batmanmobile, go to a taco stand and eat some feelings

No screen grabs today as I have been doing "real" work unrelated to comics - because yes, despite evidence to the contrary (the blog, Twitter), I do actually do something constructive with my time - so instead I can only sketch what I picture the end of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #79 to be like based entirely on Colin Smith's description of the contents.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

I went to the doctors and found out that my testosterone was basically zero

A sad day for comics blogging as Too Busy Thinking About My Comics announces bankruptcy and shutters it windows and doors while a barely-civilised throng floods the blog and pick its shelves clean.  Well, maybe not quite so bleak an analogy is required as Colin is merely moving into the realm of freelance writing - after several years of giving away interesting articles about comics by looking at disparate corners of the form, he is no longer a crazy socialist but an angry capitalist, and who can begrudge him wanting a slice of the pie?  Let's face it, if you're going to make money out of comics you may as well do it now while they're still a thing that exists and not just something that you download via a Comixopoly app (HOHO I have made a portmanteau of the words "Comixology" and "monopoly" by total accident).
It is probably well overdue that Colin started trading his wares for real coin given how many comics journalism/op-ed sites are little more than glorified content farms these days, and I for one wish him all the best in his endeavors, as a writer working in the field who likes to show their work and explore their thinking appeals to me a lot more than yet another college dropout writing articles about that time Rom wrestled a bear or something - and I say that as someone with a serious bear problem.

Friday, 17 January 2014

I got a prescription so hopefully I'll stop drinking appletinis and crying all the time

Finished up the gothy horror strip and now I'm moving on to an untitled cavemen project, or possibly Redneck Big Time Happy Rocketship Adventure (provisional title), or maybe even Overly Condensed Superhero Pirate Punching Incident (sadly accurate provisional title).
Just checked how many comics pages I've drawn so far this year and I have a grand total of 10 in the bank, which isn't a great tally to have 16 days into the new year even if I did have to ink, colour and letter the pages, too - see, it's not a great excuse because I'm supposed to be making my own comics and that traditionally entails doing everything myself.
Also today I watched more Dads.  I can't help it, really: the worse the reviews and the more whiny and entitled the detractors become, the more I feel compelled to watch it in spite of them.  I hate to be the one to say this, but I'm starting to think the internet is full of dicks.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

How many more have to die?

I've been watching episodes of Dads back to back.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Pardon me for being alive in the '90s and having two ears connected to a heart

I'm doing it again - watching Intelligence's second episode for all my dismissals of the first installment's reliance upon cliche and unoriginality... it's growing on me, but they really need to rein in the exposition and accept that at some point the audience is on their own.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

You damned Vulcans and your defined parameters!

Bitten is so bad that when terrorists commit their next atrocity upon the United States, the angry ghost of Jerry Falwell will rise from his grave and say that alongside Paganism, abortion, feminism and being gay, Bitten was why America had it coming.  He will, of course, be utterly wrong.  About the first four.
I don't even know where to start, but probably the lecturer who gets his Jungian theory wrong is as good a place as any (because the scene comes early in the show).  Basically he talks at length about how the concept of the anima and the animus* sound a bit like "animal" so that's the same thing as being about werewolves.  When the lecturer who looks like a male model speaks, the only reaction shots we see are from groups of attractive young women sitting together in the audience.  It generally manages to go downhill from there - and fair play that must have taken some effort - but before we get to that point we also open on a sex scene - the very first thing we see in the very first episode is the female lead riding cowgirl on an anonymous rod, then making excuses to rush outside to turn into a werewolf because apparently she forgot this was something she does.
Basically, Bitten is not a show for feminists, and I don't mean that it has an unhealthy male gaze, I mean that for a show that lingers on them as sexual creatures it does not actually seem to like women very much.  There's a sub-genre in horror that creates an equation between the female menstrual cycle and lycanthropy, and Bitten is an unfortunate addition to exploring this "curse" analogy subconsciously rather than as text, with a character trying to distance herself from her natural "cycles" and being punished for it by turning into a raging bunny-killing monster, and let me be very clear about this: the character actually kills a bunny after turning into a  menstrual rage monster, this happens in the pre-credits sequence moments after the sex scene and the character's stripping in a dirty alleyway.
Oh, and a guy tells a woman she's a slut in the first couple of minutes of the show.  That may also be an indicator of troubling subtext, along with the unsurprising failure of the Bechdel Test in an almost suicidally-spectacular fashion - women don't just talk about men when they're alone, they talk about the fantastic sex they have with those men, even though one of the two women in the conversation is the man's sister.  What the heck that is about I cannot fathom, but I am beginning to have an inkling why the writers might have been thinking about psychiatry lately.

I also managed to check out the Carrie remake for some reason, as I didn't even like the original as I just found it unpleasant more than scary.  The remake is largely a bit of a hoot in hystericalising things while also trying to make it seem like maybe kids aren't inherently evil so much as they are careless and occasionally insensitive - it's a bizarre flip-flop act to be sure, and sort of falls apart later when we get to scenes that take a clear delight in the suffering and murder of children, but up until then, the overblown nature of it was kind of entertaining, if potentially grating to those not inclined to indulge it.

* In Jungian philosophy, the anima and animus are the complimentary "masculine" or "feminine" elements of the human psyche.  Put simply, the animus is the masculine element of the female psyche, while the anima is the feminine element of the male - the writers of Bitten somehow manage to get these two mixed up, and also somehow manage to think that what Jung meant was that everyone is secretly the Hulk.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

I'm sorry, I have a very ticklish middle toe. Also what you said was ridiculous.

Weekend time!
Just sitting down to my first beer and this week's episode of the seemingly never-ending Revenge.  Ugh, I hate myself sometimes - I managed to quit Vampire Diaries this late into its lifespan (incestuous homoeroticism apparently is not really my thing) but I still can't quit you, Revenge.  I should ideally be writing a review of it after I watch the episode rather than before, but here we are.
I'll probably enjoy it, so I bid you all do the same with your weekend.  Have a good one!

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Japanese possess unbelievable strength when backed into a corner!

"Intelligence is an optimistically titled show" opines the alternate-universe me who is a bit more of a prick than I am when it comes to reviewing things "because it is basically stupid and dumb and Chuck without jokes" Alt-Me continues, not realising they already made Chuck without jokes - it was called Chuck - and missing that Chuck was really just a repackaged Jake 2.0, which was itself a repackaged Max Steel they tried to pass off as a Six Million Dollar Man homage because no-one wants to admit they based their tv show on a cartoon but will cop to being inspired by a decades-old cheesefest because nostalgia is an accepted coin of the realm in entertainment these days - but yeah, we're at the back of the Human Centipede again.
Alt-Me goes on in the usual rambling fashion about Intelligence being stupid and cliche-ridden, but that's not really a problem in television terms as the Battlestar Galactica remake proved that you didn't have to be original or tell new stories to be considered innovative or fresh, you could just get away with the same old plots genre tv has been churning out for decades as long as you put a new spin on the presentation: mainly by having a straight face and acting like you mean it when you say things like "these evil sex robots are up to something."  It's a bit like the 1966 Batman movie where he's running around with a big black ball with a fizzing fuse coming out of it going "some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!" and in Dark Knight Rises he does exactly the same thing except there's no jokes and no-one ever smiles and for some reason it's the former that's considered juvenile.  Anyhoo, that second Rises one is modern tv in a nutshell: do the same old thing everyone else has done already but don't hang a lampshade on it like you have something to apologize for.
And so to Intelligence, which is, for all its faults, an inoffensive romp whose biggest failing is likely that it's lost the lead to the nearly-identical Blacklist (bar the genre trappings of Intelligence's central McGuffin, of course), though debuting months/years after an identical tv series hasn't done much harm to The Mentalist, Arrow, Being Human, and so on, so Intelligence might be okay, possibly moreso if they stop making Josh Holloway's character so unlikeable in an attempt to make him more like Sawyer from Lost and just accept that he's a naturally likeable chap and try to play to that instead.  I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was laughing really hard at a lot of  how clumsy some of it was, mind, like the exposition that comprises the entirety of some characters' dialogue - the CSI castmember woman person especially is like some kind of machine.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Coffee is the element I float in, my dear - be it exquisite or vile

Seeing as I'm blogging about whatever random episode of tosh I've just watched: how about this week's episode of Castle, eh?
No, I don't see this as being a particularly interesting avenue to explore, either, but here we are.  I am not really sure what to make of Castle, as on one hand it clearly doesn't take itself too seriously, right up until it takes itself deadly serious, and usually these two things happen within moments of each other.  A cynical man - and lord knows I am not one of those - would suggest that it doesn't reward those with the functioning attention span of a normal adult and the writers are just throwing whatever at the screen as it's not meant to create a consistent internal logic or narrative in the way other comedy/murder-mystery man/woman shows like Elementary or even the late lamented Monk do, it's just some stuff on a tv that happens once a week to stop you turning over to see if there's a repeat of Star Trek Voyager on somewhere, and fair play it manages that because of the way it is made, as I constantly confuse Castle with other things, like the Charlie Sheen shitcom Anger Management, which began a sub-plot about a character hooking up with a hippy college dropout character that hasn't been relevant for almost thirty years but someone in a writing room somewhere noticed that some white guys had dreadlocks in a picture of something called Burning Man so that must mean hippies are relevant again, am I right?
Thus the domino effect of unoriginal tv writing began - that strange morphic resonance where a plot that's been worked into a 42 minute episode of one tv show suddenly gets used in another, and another, and another - and tv shows started lining up the same character and plot where a female cast member they didn't know what else to do with suddenly got a hippie boyfriend who didn't understand boundaries, capitalism, sarcasm, and so on - basically, it was a low point for Anger Management and just to put that comment in perspective, it was a low point FOR ANGER MANAGEMENT, so why anyone on the Castle writing staff thought "yep, that's a winner, let's transplant that storyline wholesale into our series" is beyond me.  Mind you, this week's episode had a completely unironic recreation of Kirk's birth scene from the 2009 Star Trek reboot - and I mean, really, really unironic, right down to dialogue, camera framing, setting the conversation between father and mother-to-be over a phone half in an ambulance and the other half in a burning set, near-identical soundtrack choice, and it was not a homage, followed shortly after by a scene which was not a homage to The Fugitive even though one of the characters in the scene was actually called Kimble, and all this was framed by a plot that was not a homage to the plot of Backdraft yet was completely identical to it.  I don't even think it was deliberate - I think the writers of Castle have entered a state where they just take in all the things they've seen elsewhere and the viewer is more or less the back end of their Human Centipede.  It's an efficient process, I'll grant them that, but it's starting to leave a bad taste.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

I have parkinson's, I'm not a witch

Star Trek: The Next Generation dated pretty quickly, by which I mean that it dated before it even went off the air, filled as it was with "unique" characters meant to function as self-contained story engines somewhere down the line from the pilot.  It had the only android in Starfleet, the only kid genius, the only Klingon, the only half-human empath, the only Frenchman who had manners, and so on.  It was all very 1980s - which was unfortunate, as Star Trek: TNG continued well into the 1990s.
By contrast, Deep Space Nine had a rather regular bunch for its central cast if you looked past Odo, who the writers clearly struggled to do anything with once they'd got past the pilot and realised that those Terminator 2 SFX were kind of lame actually and so went for broke with his backstory in the show's third season.  DS9 had a mid-level bureaucrat as its main lead, abetted by a bitter but unremarkable ex-terrorist, a dull but inoffensive scientist type, the second-best doctor in his graduating class, a capitalist, and the space-age equivalent of an Irish sparky - though admittedly when ideas were being thrown at the wall later, some of these character types were given overhauls that were either genius or deeply unconvincing depending on your bullshit tolerance: for me, Bashir's turn as a secret super-genius was a low point, while Sisko's life being retroactively altered by trans-linear aliens just because he's incapable of having faith in others was a high point.  These are, for the most part, just run-of-the-mill types from the Star Trek universe, and as a result they've traveled well in the BUGGER ME SIDEWAYS 21 years since the show debuted, but Past Tense, a 2-part time-travel outing from the 3rd season, has not dated quite as badly as I'd hoped, and it makes me hope that no-one in the current government ever sits down to watch it in case it starts giving them any of the wrong kind of bright ideas.

Past Tense  tells the story of how, after a transporter accident deposits them in America's distant past (but the viewers' near future), Bashir and Sisko encounter police officers who take issue with the pair not having any ID, so they're taken to a holding area that is effectively a concentration camp for the poor and get caught in a riot when people try to make themselves heard and are killed by the hundreds in the violent government response.
Despite (or because of) the cops being fellas in overalls wandering around with shotguns effectively mugging any brown people they come across, it's a depressingly plausible scenario for many reasons beyond that it's happening to the only obviously non-white faces on the cast while their attractive Caucasian crewmate finds herself surrounded by affluent white people, so there's a wee bit of class commentary going on here even though it's essentially just setting up a major coincidence or two for later in the story.  It's interesting how the episode does these long panning shots of homeless people just laying around on any bit of the streets where they fall and it looks like a post-apocalyptic fantasy rather than an attempt at relevant social commentary, but the longer you watch, the more the huge logical cracks start filling in with depressing (though likely serendipitous) insights like the "sanctuary districts" being a PR exercise by the ruling classes to keep their cities attractive to investors by simply hiding the poor from view, which we know is already going on, even here in the UK, where the government regularly covers up sexual assaults by its private contractors by deporting witnesses to the assaults - yes, people seeking asylum, possibly from death squads - and all to save pennies and keep the illusion of a fair go being offered, so the elements of the story that have dated most are, shockingly, that it doesn't go far enough, instead assigning no blame to the cops who throw our heroes in Poor Prison, or even to cold-blooded murderers like hat-wearing jerk "BC" as there is no blame here because the fault lies not in conspiracy but in neglect of and apathy towards the vulnerable.
Predating the plot of First Contact, the characters also have to ensure history plays out as it's supposed to so that there's a Star Trek universe to go back to, and it's a nice touch that rather than something grand and epic like meeting aliens, the utopian ideal can only be achieved by humanity first taking care of the horde of people who make no mark at all upon history, and even if they'll be wiped out shortly in a nuclear holocaust (if you're watching the canon in any way), the episode is essentially saying that though not everyone is important to the larger narrative of history, caring for them is a lesson we have to learn if we're ever to move forward - that we have to become better beings before we can create a better world for ourselves, and unlike First Contact, Past Tense makes our improvement a thing we bring about simply by being better than we are now, rather than something given to us by an outside agency like time travelers or aliens.
At the end, Sisko is asked how America ever got into such a state, and the last shot of the episode is his troubled expression as he admits he doesn't have an answer, which is both hilarious and depressing at the same time, because the writers don't have an answer to why this could happen beyond that perhaps we just weren't good enough to each other.

So yeah, basically I watched an old episode of Star Trek today and that is what I'm blogging about now.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

It's like you're the Hulk, but only your balls got angry

 One New Year Resolution was to post every day once I got back up and running again, so I shall do so now even though I've been running around like a blue-arsed fly most of the day - in one instance to fix someone's Vista-powered laptop, so you may insert your own "just when I thought I was out they pull me back in"-style reference there.  I maintain this to be my own fault as things only get done if and when you organise time for them.  Normal service to be resumed tomorrow, hopefully, but in the meantime I am struggling with old-school colouring because it's a nice relaxing thing to much around with at the end of A Bit Of A Day.