Tuesday 24 June 2014


Well, the time has come to bid farewell to Blogger, as the straw met the camel's back behind the scenes, and though there's probably a fix I am buggered if I'm looking for it when I have work to do, so should you still be of a masochistic bent pronounced enough that you can't get through a day without seeing what - in an episode of a terrible-looking tv show you've never seen and never will - has enraged some hungover layabout enough to take to the internet to grumble about it, I'll be taking my rambling, occasionally angry but always entitled rants over to Tumblr where I intend to continue much as I have done for the last four years here on Blogger.
This is sort of goodbye, then, but no reason to post a link to - perhaps - Florrie Forde's Goodye-ee... if this is the end of our dalliance, dear reader - and I shouldn't blame you if it is, given the four years of justification for a parting of the ways in evidence below - then instead listen to this and think of me - it's not a funeral, after all.

Unless you've photoshopped my head onto the body of a dragon don't interrupt me

And lo there came a day that Bryan got orf his arse and got his shit together and went back to daily blogging instead of Skyrimming the day away*, and for good measure decided to put a deadline on all that stuff marked "I'll get to it whenever."  It seems like I take forever on these caveman pages I'm drawing at the minute, which is weird because you'd think an average of 18 panels per page would go by pretty quickly, and this is why I prefer collaborating to writing my own stuff - because when you collaborate, you get to blame everything on someone else.
So is there like a writer's retreat doing a discount on bulk orders of time jumps in narratives or something?  So far this week there's been a time jump in Fargo (1 year later), Falling Skies (four months later), Crisis (five days later), Defiance (nine months later), Dominion (20 years later), DC comics have a weekly comic book title launched a month or two back that's set five years in the future**, and I'm sure I mentioned that The Survivalist jumps 500 years between novels to a time where only white people live on the planet Earth (which I imagine does wonders for any poor fucker defending the books to people who dismiss them as the deranged fantasies of a right-wing chauvinistic gun fetishist).
Okay, it was an original turn once in that sci-fi show about the humans in the big spaceship full of civilians trying to find Earth while being pursued by a larger fleet - you know the one, it had that love triangle between the cocky young pilot and the flighty lady type that always seemed to be beyond his grasp and ended up with some other guy when the pilot accepted a more healthy relationship with a career military woman who worked on the bridge of the ship answering the space phones, and then they got to some desolate planet where they settled down and built an uneasy culture with the people from the fleet that were pursuing them which also looked like humans and even managed to interbreed with humans, too, and the show jumped ahead 18 months at that point and dang it, I just can't remember the name of the show, but I'm sure it'll come to me later - anyway, that show did it first and then Lost did it, made it mainstream and ran it into the ground until we hated it, then other shows started doing the same thing because it seemed like us thickos could understand this new flashforward concept but you know an idea is old hat when Brannon Braga starts using it so they all stopped, until this week when for some reason every show on tv decided to do the exact same time-jump gimmick at more or less the same time in a depressing display of morphic resonance again, playing the thing out even faster than the plague of In Medias Res/jump back to the beginning openings did to that concept over the last year or so of US telly.
Ah, I'm rambling now, I have to go watch the rest of Falling Skies so I can properly ridicule it, having stopped watching when it got to the "X time later" bit because coming as it did at the end of four minutes of tropes that were lazy and decried and awful by fans of V: The Series thirty years ago, I was genuinely angry at how lazy and unoriginal the show was despite the effort expended upon its production and how little the makers think of my intelligence, which is a dick attitude to have about me when I've stuck with this turkey for four years now.   I mean, I don't expect you to buy me a ring, The Makers Of Falling Skies, but after all this time I thought at least you respected me.

* I mean I play the videogame Skyrim a lot, and not that I'm doing some disgusting sexual act that even the Turks would think was going too far.
** Future's End, the first issue of which is reviewed here and which - despite treading some over-familiar territory - feels a lot more like the relaunch DC tried to do two years ago.

Saturday 21 June 2014

My dad didn't mean to hurt anyone, he just wanted that cop to leave us alone

Even for me, this drawing lark is going slow now I have to keep it to the morning or late evening when the heat is at it's lowest ebb.  Days were spent dumbly staring at the tv or reading until I cottoned on that the meds I've been taking for my hayfever have been double-teaming me with the heat to leave me listless and drowsy.  Also I am a big lazy get, but let's see if we can't get back to the routine presently...

Friday 20 June 2014

Let me guess - the boring stockbrokers you usually date come in through "the door"

Been trying for a two-header of Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley followed by the film version starring George Peppard, but in an inversion of my usual approach, I've read the book, but finding the time to watch the film is proving elusive.  I did find the time to watch Robot Jox again, though, which is like letting your brain go down a water slide going WHEEEE, as it's about a free market capitalist and his rivalry with a communist, which they play out by piloting giant robots against each other in a post-holocaust version of pro wrestling.
It is as dumb as it sounds and then some.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

The more of these KGB assholes we kill, the bigger the smile on my face when the bullet finally finds me

I haven't been working much as it's blisteringly hot over here and so mostly I have been catching up on my reading, getting back into novels again and plowing through the late Jerry Aherne's Survivalist pulp series of square-jawed action adventures featuring the unkillable walking genocide that is Dr John Thomas (HO HO!) Rourke, a man who is so perfect that he's often referred to as a god not just by other characters, but also by the omniscient narrator of the books.  Rourke's eyes are so perfect that he wears sunglasses even at night to give anything that walks the Earth a fighting chance to get out of his way before he sees and kills them, and it's evidenced constantly that proximity to Rourke grants mortals a small measure of his invulnerability and capacity for genocide, first in the opening novel when he and "the jew Paul Rubenstein" massacre hundreds of bikers in a stand-up gunfight, and then through the first dozen or so books where characters mow down countless communists and "brigands" without fear of their own mortality until the absolute microsecond that they leave Rourke's divine aura and promptly get shot, captured, tortured or killed.  It ticks over like this for 12 books where the sunglasses-wearing gun-loving main character - with a secret hideout in the mountains he built for the inevitable day that the government fell and anarchy reigned - fights against biker gangs, spear-chucking savages, youth gone wild, women driven insane by Rourke's perfection, and traitorous pedophiles before the whole thing goes officially batshit insane and turns into Rourke versus communists versus Nazis at the end of the world after he and his family take a 500 year nap with which he engineers the advanced aging of his 8 and 10 year-old children so that they can shag his best mate and his mistress when they all wake up, but all told, it's good fun so far, and quite knowing about its own chauvinism and outdated racial and gender politics - despite being a self-confessed chauvinist, Rourke is quite fond of delivering Adam West Batman 1966-style lectures in the middle of conversations in order to correct lazy thinking and stereotyping, usually undermined seconds later when he utters the word "but..."
I have also been reading my way through pulp comic adventures in the Battlestar Galactica universe, with Rick Remender's Classic Battlestar Galactica really hitting the spot in a way that Dan Abnett's BSG books didn't quite manage (capable outings though they were), taking the characters from the tv show and transplanting them into a different medium with some really subtle interplay that underscores the personalities from the tv show rather than simply creates new characters with the same names, as is the case with Tony Lee's Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck, whose title seems to go forward with the bizarre notion that it's putting a spotlight on a character who isn't the focus of 70 percent of  stories already - kind of like doing a miniseries called X-Men: Wolverine - and then compounds things further in its very first image when it uses the wrong tv series as art reference, and then in its first line of dialogue where it wrongly names the Battle of Cimtar - the very first thing we see in the tv series and which has its own entry in the Battlestar Wiki because of course there is a Battlestar Wiki - and then gets the name of one of only 8 named Battlestars from the show wrong repeatedly, which might all on the surface seem like nerdy complaints, but in my defence, (a) this is page one and it doesn't bode well going forward, and (b), it is a Battlestar Galactica comic and I'll go out on a limb and say it'll mostly be fans of the show buying it and we might notice things like this, as I clearly have done.  I think Lee's probably just not much of a BSG fan, which I understand completely, as being a BSG fan is not something one does for a paycheque, it is a higher calling from Lizard Space Jeebus McNee and yes, I am writing this post in my underpants and haven't shaved in a week, why do you ask?

Monday 9 June 2014

Rik Mayall 1958 - 2014

"This house will become a shrine!
And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader and all the grown-ups will say "but why are the kids crying?'" And the kids will say, "haven't you heard? Rick is dead! The people's poet is dead!"
And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say "why kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?" Then another kid will say--"
(Rik farts loudly and shits his pants)

Upon death, the muscles of the bladder and rectum relax in a way they cannot while the body still lives.  Death, when it comes, leaves behind a body wallowing in its own fecal matter, the chemical stew of human biology, so dependent upon acids and bacteria, begins to ferment and bubble away now that it's left to its own devices and not concerned with the occasional influx of organic material provided by the living human to keep the growls of hunger at bay.  The gases build up, trapped in kinks and corners of intestine, awaiting any movement of the corpse to loosen and free these foul-smelling pockets of deathly stench upon the world, and so Rik Mayall (silent "p") has thus farted - silently, but dead-y - and shit his pants for the final time upon this mortal plane.  He didn't do it on stage or in front of a camera, though I don't doubt he'd have wanted to if he knew it was the last time he'd have the opportunity to fart and then shit his pants for an audience, but fart and then shit his pants he most certainly did, much as every man and woman to depart this realm will inevitably do, as the saying rightly goes: "nothing in life is certain but death and then farting and shitting your pants", though it's usually abbreviated.
It's not unique to die and then fart and shit your pants, and thus it's arguably nothing special or exceptional as epitaphs go, but I like to think that the - possibly fictional - Rik Mayall who loomed so large in my childhood, pratfalling and shouting at the injustices and humiliations heaped upon him by a universe determined to see him suffer and lacking the wit or intelligence to rebuff those misfortunes in meaningful or memorable ways and so simply called those misfortunes a bastard as he stumbled towards the next catastrophe - I like to think that as he floated above his corpse and looked down upon his farted and shitted pants, realising with the cool detachment of the departed that he had indeed farted and shit his pants at the last, I like to think that Rik Mayall, or even the real Rik Mayall who energetically played out his pratfalls and disasters as a neverending tragedy, whichever of the two were truly Rik Mayall, if either were, or neither, perhaps... I just like to think in some way, through the veil of death, from the afterlife, that Rik Mayall could look down and see his farted and shitted pants and think that this was what he would have wanted.

Friday 6 June 2014

This is one of those rare occasions things can't be fixed with weed

James Tynion Jr's and Michael Dialynas' The Woods is a comic I was looking forward to so much I didn't even spot the tropes in evidence despite the fact I not so long ago posted a comic strip on this very blog making fun of how ubiquitous those tropes currently are that even a child could see them coming (and I didn't even get to mention half of the more recent-ish examples like Under The Dome, Catching Fire, Predators, Cube, etc).
In a nutshell, The Woods is "high-school-kids-meet-Lost" - yes, again - except this time it's on an alien planet - yes, again - and the kids die in horrible ways one by one - yes, again - while also turning on each other - copy and paste - and trying to survive and/or understand their situation - copy and paste.  In retrospect - and leaden with disappointment - I suppose I can admit that I should have seen these tropes going in, but like I say, we're at the point in what I shall laughably call "our culture" that even someone as notoriously slow and unreliable as me is getting comics out there about how tired some of this stuff is, so I would have thought that we'd be seeing from published professionals a more active subversion of those tropes  alongside their repetition.
It's not that The Woods is a poorly-made comic, either, as Michael Dialynas'  art has real character and you can tell the main cast apart (which should not be underestimated as a skill in a comic artist), while James Tynion Jr piles on the plot beats at a good pace so things unfold briskly - he ensures we get our first view of a space bear in the second issue, so I most assuredly like the cut of his jib - even if none of those beats have so far caused much in the way of surprise.  It's that over-familiarity that scuttles it for me, combined with the lack of breakout characters and some forced and obvious expository dialogue where characters tell each other their own backstory - although this has become so familiar it's not really a storytelling failing anymore so much as an accepted - if not expected - component of teen soap operas that use exposition as punctuation.  We know our way around this story already, and the only thing that I think could have saved it would have been a more engaging central mystery,  as I'm not terribly invested in what we've seen of that so far.
Still, I'll cop to it that I'm likely dragging my own personal genre-awareness into things and not giving the book a fair shake based on over-familiarity with the Most-Dangerous-Game-in-a-mystery-locale genre and I might not be allowing for the book finding its audience elsewhere amongst those not aware of Lost, Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Predators, Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, Morning Glories, Avengers Arena, the Maze Runner, or the 100.  Just as likely, you see, is that given how many examples of the genre there are, perhaps just like those watching the seemingly endless parade of identikit romantic comedies or Friday the 13th sequels, audiences for this kind of thing don't want it being subverted so much as they just want more of it, and on that score, I don't really fault Tynion and Dialynas' for delivering, as it's a good example of the genre even if it's arriving a bit late in the day for the liking of some internet culture snobs.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Act like a man and USE YOUR PONY NAME

There's a bit in a recent episode of 24 where Kiefer Sutherland bursts into a room with a gun, beats a man unconscious and then says with a completely straight face to another person "Don't be afraid - MY NAME IS JACK BAUER" and if that's not the dictionary definition of an oxymoron, I don't know what is.  By this stage of the morning, Jack had only killed a mere three dozen people as this season is a half day for him, but even so, being in a room with Jack Bauer under any circumstances is like being in a room with a tiger - it's not necessarily going to end poorly, but at the time you can probably only see the day going downhill.
In contrast, the plot of Non Stop hinges on people finding Liam Neeson utterly terrifying, which is boxing clever.  We in the real world obviously see him as the actor Liam Neeson in almost all his roles, but just for a moment take away the fact that you know you're looking at a character played by the actor Liam Neeson and see what the people in his movies are seeing and you will have what looks like a seven foot homeless mental patient who's one sip of lighter fluid away from a stabbing frenzy in a schoolyard, and now add the accoutrements of his various movie roles, like in this specific case, you give him a gun, a bomb, play news footage in the background calling him a terrorist with nothing to lose, and then you lock him in a plane with you and 149 other people and then let's see how long it takes you to stop seeing Hollywood actors with silly accents and to start losing your shit.
Non Stop - unsurprisingly for a film which features the actor Liam Neeson - is a ludicrous film, but it's also a serious film, because it's a film of two halves that don't quite go together but are quite decent halves all the same: the serious thriller about a man solving a murder on a plane that hasn't happened yet using only the tools readily available to him, and the other film about a man on the edge whose plan to save lives on a plane involves exploding part of it in mid air and hoping for the best.  There is a bit of a disjoint and once the film is done and hindsight is deployed, the complete article is seen as somewhat unconvincing, but in practice, these elements are well made and time passes quite satisfactorily without anything jarring you out of the fiction, apart from that one time the whole plane gangs up on Neeson and you feel sorry for them because in a minute he's going to be so dang mad.

Monday 2 June 2014

This is exactly the reason I have been careful to avoid success

The very first thing we see at the start of The Night Shift is an explosion, so I'm going to go ahead and prejudge (I know, it's quite unlike me) that we're getting one of those medical dramas where hunky doctors burst into shot at gory accidents to shout commands at people who don't understand that THE RULES AND REGULATIONS will not help this patient who's been impaled by a railing or whatever, so Dr Hunk (MD) - while fast music plays and the camera whizzes and swoops between characters - impatiently explains to people who quote THE RULES AND REGULATIONS at him why he doesn't need to keep the railing imbedded in the patient's neck until the ambulance arrives, no - what needs to be done is for the shard of metal keeping the man's blood inside his body to be torn out (close-up of gushing blood) and then Dr Hunk will repeatedly kick the man in the face and then urinate on him while racially abusing non-whites in the immediate vicinity, and the people around him will say something like "are you crazy?  That is insane and cannot possibly work!  And even if it does work I will report you to THE MAN IN A SUIT WHO COUNTS THE BEANS for not following established rules and regulations!" and then Dr Hunk will say that actually it's something he did IN IRAQ, because you cannot be a doctor of Hunkology unless you have been a combat doctor, even though being a combat doctor will make you do sadface in the pilot episode and have issues with commitment and/or expressing feels, possibly you will even use a carefully constructed facade to hide some kind of pain, like humor or an obsession to be "the best", which is where a mate of mine who was a combat nurse in Afghanistan went wrong, as he just cried all the time when he came home and eventually  killed himself after sleeping on the street for three years - clearly he was a pussy and could learn something from Dr Hunk and similar members of his master race.
I'll unpause this now and watch the rest of the episode before passing any judgement on it, as I think I probably need to watch more than the first 11 seconds.
Dr Hunk is doing medicine in a tent in the desert in an orange filter while being shot at, and then wakes up in the drunk tank and immediately gets on a motorcycle to drive at high speed while classic rock plays, his shirt billowing in the wind as he comes across an ambulance attending to a man who has - I swear to God - been impaled, but by a branch from a tree and not a railing so that's okay.  During the conversation with the paramedics, Dr Hunk impatiently tells them not to tell him the rules and regulations, then says he learned the technique he just used to save the man's life in Afghanistan - not Iraq, so that's okay.  Still - holy fuck.
In the hospital, someone's heart robot is malfunctioning, but the doctor can only look coldly down his nose at the patient and explain that despite her pain, the rules and regulations say they have to call her health insurance company to send a heart robot doctor over to fix things, but an attractive twentysomething lady doctor is having none of this and says that she's going to take away the pain no matter what it says in the rules and regulations.
Dr Hunk bursts in to the emergency room and announces that luck had nothing to do with the life he's just saved.  He tears off his shirt to reveal his taut, glistening body, and for a guy who has long floppy hair and stubble, he is remarkably hairless everywhere else.  Attractive Twentysomething Lady Doctor then berates him for not doing his paperwork because he spends all his time drinking and fighting, then paramedics burst into the room with a sick baby as fast music plays, prompting Dr Hunk to leap into action and shout the word "stat" so you know he means business.  Elsewhere, a comedy black man ends up touching things from the "things found in people's butts" box with his hands so people laugh at him, because things in people's butts is a funny concept.  A fat Southern man in a "don't mess with Texas" t-shirt calls a black nurse a bitch and then starts a fight before being taken down with a sleeper hold by a Male Twentysomething Doctor With An Unimaginative Haircut, then a man in a suit  tells Attractive Twentysomething Lady Doctor  that she can't have a man's job, especially not on The Night Shift because it's an "undisciplined zoo" where they don't respect the rules and regulations, or people who count beans.  Attractive Twentysomething Lady Doctor  tells the man in a suit that "they work hard and they play hard" and he tells her "WELL I DON'T LIKE IT" and then we cut to a man having his testicles stitched up while Comedy Black Man tries not to barf.  Cut to Dr Hunk being late to a meeting because he is busy saving a baby, which enrages the man in a suit even more than Obamacare does - and he does indeed single out Obamacare for criticism in this scene, just as he does Dr Hunk for saving a baby rather than sending it away to die.  Dr Hunk then disses the man by saying "is that your opinion, doctor?  Oh wait you aren't a doctor" and everyone goes "awwwwwwwwwwwww SNAP."
Then the credits roll and I tap out.  At some point during these first ten minutes, my brother entered the room and asked if what I was watching was some sort of "American medical drama version of A Touch Of Cloth."
I replied "No.  It's American television."

In order to help NBC with marketing the show, I have decided to offer my thoughts on a potential rebranding, first changing the show's name to Extreme Medics - my original choice of "Explosion Doctors" being taken already.

At this point I favor changing "medics" to a spelling that incorporates an "X", because X-Men or something and the show is being advertised during other shows like The 100 with logos and pictures of the cast that make them look like superheroes, but everything is cooler spelled with an x anyway, so two x's clearly makes it even cooler:

Now I decided to emphasise the X's by making them larger, and conflating the two words into one because "extreme" ends with "me and "medix" starts with "me".  Also it will look good for branding purposes to have a single word that people will remember.

Unfortunately it now looks like like a brand of really high-factor suntan lotion, so I separated the two words again, this time to emphasise the word "extreme", and to highlight the letters "ER", because the show is set in an ER.

I think the above logo now perfectly reflects the show I watched.

You're welcome, NBC.