Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Pax Americana: Trapped in a World He Never Made

I wrote about PAX AMERICANA for Comic Book Resources. I just had to break my self-imposed comic book exile for this one.

Read my thousand-or-so words HERE!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Evolution of D&D Module Covers: 1979-2014

This new one looks pretty dull by comparison, doesn't it?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

CRAWLJAMMER: Check it out if you like lasers and swords and RPGs and awesomeness

Hey! I haven't posted here in a while and I should probably go back and add a few things like links to the last couple of years of BEST OF BLANK BLANK BLANK BLANK COMICS and "Here's where I say goodbye to all those years writing for CBR" and all that stuff.

BUT! I haven't bothered to do that yet. (I will! Someday!)

Instead, I've been writing and drawing this old-school role-playing game zine called CRAWLJAMMER which is basically all my favorite sci-fi and fantasy novels and movies and comics mashed up in to an RPG setting for Dungeon Crawl Classics. Only it's not really a setting, since I have rules for things like new character classes (Lizardman Mercenary!) and adventures on Venus and a part where my son writes about Lizardman space peasants and the kind of jobs they would have (Blue Bison Farmer! Treeslayer! Meatmaster!) and I make up things like critical hit tables for when a Skullcraft battles a Space Ziggurat.

Yeah, it's CRAWLJAMMER, and it's what I'm doing right now instead of writing reviews about mediocre superhero comics.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The COMICS ALLIANCE Reviews: Rude, Kirby, McKeever, Ditko, and Eisner

COMICS ALLIANCE was one of my favorite comics-related sites, which is why I asked editor-extraordinaire Andy Khouri if they'd be interested in having me come on board to write some things for them near the end of last year. It all worked out perfectly -- they did want me to review in-print graphic novels or collected editions for them -- and I started off with a review/retrospective on the glory of Steve Rude and the first year or two of Nexus. That post went live in early 2013.

I came up with a list of other books they might like me to review -- including things like The Creeper, and Grimjack, and The End League, and Eddy Current, and Nextwave -- and Andy highlighted the ones the CA readership (or the CA editors, or both) might care about the most, so I started working, expecting to build up a stack of reviews that could run on COMICS ALLIANCE throughout 2013, maybe sliding into a weekly routine once I figured out how to work this extra writing gig into my normal routine. That never happened. I wrote a handful of retrospectives/reviews for CA and then, as you all probably know, COMICS ALLIANCE was shut down by its parent company without warning. I thought the site was just settling in to its witty balance of pop culture coverage and comic book analysis and had a long, ever-growing future ahead of it. That's why I was so happy to join the crew. But nope. It's all over.

I'm more saddened by not ever being able to read new material on the site, and the fact that a strong stable of writers and editors will have to scramble to find other paying work, than I am about losing the occasional paycheck for writing the kinds of reviews I had planned for CA. That was only ever going to cover the cost of the reviewed book and give me a little bit of spending money. I wasn't going to lose any money on the gig, but I wasn't going to make more than about $20 or $30 every week or two. It was just goofing-around-and-buying-a-few-comics-money. Nothing serious, but certainly helpful.

But, man, I miss the opportunity to be part of the COMICS ALLIANCE team and I'm sorry to see the site just stop dead.

I'll still be continuing my weekly "When Words Collide" column for Comic Book Resources, and though both my Great Alan Moore Reread and my Sandman Reread have come to an end at Tor.com, I have some other things in the works with the folks over there. But CA is no more.

For the record, here are my collected edition reviews that were published during my short few months at COMICS ALLIANCE:

Mike Baron and Steve Rude's 'Nexus': Exploding Preconceptions Since 1981

Jack Kirby's Spirit World: We Are on the Outside

The Inhuman Magnetism of Ted McKeever's 'Eddy Current'

Mania and Dream Logic: Looking Back at Ditko's Cackling 'Creeper'

The Anatomy of Expression: Will Eisner and 'A Contract with God'

I'm pleased with all five of these entries, and I hope you enjoy them while you can. No one knows how long the CA site archives will remain available, and AOL owns the content I've linked to above, so it's unlikely that I'll be able to ever republish the pieces I've written for them.

Yeah. Comics. They'll break your heart.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

RAINBOW DASH Writer Ryan K. Lindsay Interviewed by Two MY LITTLE PONY Fans

In March of 2013, longtime CBR colleague and The Devil is in the Details editor and internet friend Ryan K. Lindsay will unleash a single issue of a comic book series that is destined to change the world. It's issue #2 of the My Little Pony "micro-series" featuring Rainbow Dash.

In the issue, the high-flying pony faces an insurmountable challenge: cloud goblins that threaten the skies!

I know what you're thinking: is this going to be the next Watchmen or is it going to be the next Dark Knight Returns or the next Mr. T and the T-Force or some divine combination of all three?

We'll have to wait until March to find out, but, until then, I have brought in a couple of junior members of the Geniusboy Firemelon editorial team to grill Mr. Lindsay on his intentions and his abilities. They're here to determine whether or not the young writer is cut out for the scrutiny of high-profile My Little Pony scholarship.

Here they are -- two short interviews that may make or break Ryan K. Lindsay's career:


Lauren: Why did to choose to write about Rainbow Dash?

RKL: I actually pitched for a few of the ponies and my Rainbow Dash story was the one my editor, Bobby Curnow, liked the most. I chose her for one of my pitches mostly because she gets to do cool stuff with weather and the skies. That's an exciting skill set I thought would make for a cool story.

Lauren: What kind of story will this be? Is it adventure or comedy or is it scary?

RKL: It's mostly more in the action/adventure camp but there's one kind of jarring scene that's a PG level scare of sorts and I'm also hoping some of my jokes in there land. I don't know if writers are ever confident about their jokes in a script, I'm not.

Lauren: Will you be retelling an episode in your own way or telling an original story? Why?

RKL: I'm telling an original story. Anything else feels like plagiarism. Well, it could be adaptation but that doesn't sound as dramatic. I'm telling my original story because that's what my editor wants but fortuitously that's also what I am most interested in, I wanted to bring some new things to Equestria.

Lauren: Will your story take place in the past, present, or future?

RKL: Floating present.

Lauren: Which minor characters will appear in your story?

RKL: Applejack is the supporting character pony and Tank also gets to play a pivotal role. I've also created my own pony which I called, in the script only, Redford Pony. I think he's pretty rad.

Lauren: Which My Little Pony episode is your favorite? (My favorite is the one where Rarity makes outfits for all her friends.)

RKL: I'd have to go with 'Sonic Rainboom' but 'Read It and Weep' is definitely a close second. Rainbow is now my favorite pony so I like seeing her take center stage. She's an interesting character.


Andrew: How do you suppose you will make Rainbow Dash 20% cooler?

RKL: There is one thing I do in this issue that I guarantee makes Rainbow Dash 20% cooler, at least. It was actually the first thing that came to me and became the crux of this entire issue. I build to this moment and I'm certain it pays off. I obviously can't spoil it but I will stake my reputation on it.

Andrew: What will you do to capture Rainbow Dash’s pure awesomeness?

RKL: You don't capture her awesomeness - I only hope to refract it through the fine crystals I use to divine my stories in the hopes of setting shards free to enter your brain stem.

Andrew: If you WERE planning to set the story in the future, I recommend renaming Rainbow Dash “Deathbow Dash” and giving her a trail of nuclear waste. Have you considered that?

RKL: I actually have (this now serving as a legal record that I had the idea and thus when I use it I will owe you no compensation). Although my Deathbow Dash leaves a trail of smog across the sky.

Andrew: Are you sure you don’t want to make the story about post-apocalyptic rainbow ponies after the great cupcake war of the year 5000 AE?

RKL: I'm actually more interested in capturing the turmoil surrounding the aftermath of the Apple Famine of 4650. That was when Applejack had to travel to the stars to locate Celestial Johnny Appleseed and get him to bless her crop with his mighty seed. It's a cracker of a tale but if we get a green light for a sequel I'll talk with you about the Great Cupcake War of 5000AE. So long as we dedicate an issue to the Batter Battle of Lemony Knoll.

Andrew: Well, what about turning all the ponies into mutant cyborgs then?

RKL: I'm the guy who pitched a pony story involving a Kung Fu Tournament, don't think I won't straight up steal your ideas.



Thursday, January 31, 2013

BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS: A When Words Collide Archive

One of the recurring features within my weekly CBR column in 2012 was something I called "Before They Were Famous" where I would write about the issue of a comic book series right before a more famous run began. I plan to do some more of these at some point in the distant future, but I wanted to have an easy-to-reference list of links to the entries I have already completed, so here it is!

BEFORE THEY WERE FAMOUS, via When Words Collide and CBR and me:

Swamp Thing #19, by Marty Pasko, right before Alan Moore came in and blew the roof off of American comics.

X-Men #66, the last of the pre-Chris Claremont era X-Men with what seems to be a pretty weak Roy Thomas inventory story.

Captain America #32, the Robert-Kirkman-written ridiculous conclusion to the post-9/11 take on the Sentinel of Liberty, prior to Ed Brubaker's relaunch.

Supreme #40, another pre-Alan Moore comic, where Jim Valentino and Tom and Mary Bierbaum tell something that resembles a story but isn't very good by anyone's reckoning.

Batman #403, by Max Allan Collins, immediately before Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli presented us with the serialized "Batman: Year One."

Incredible Hulk #330, which was Todd McFarlane's first issue but the last of the Al-Milgrom-written issue before Peter David's monumental run began.

Iron Man #115, written by Bill Mantlo, with David Michelinie and Bob Layton waiting to strike in the following issue.

Doom Patrol #18, the final Paul Kupperberg issue before Grant Morrison began his dadaist superhero masterpiece.

If you have any suggestions for other "Before They Were Famous" installments, let me know!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Great Alan Moore Reread: The Super-Index

After sixty-five weeks, my Great Alan Moore Reread at Tor.com has reached its conclusion. To celebrate, and make it easier to reference any of the individual posts, here is the super-index of every installment of the series. Yeah!

I wrote a lot. But Alan Moore wrote a lot more. That guy's pretty good. Here's what I thought about almost all of his comics.

I have an intro post with It Begins and then I explore the Moore catalog with my brain (click on any of the entries to go to the relevant post and enjoy):

  1. Marvelman/Miracleman Part 1
  2. Marvelman/Miracleman Part 2
  3. Marvelman/Miracleman Part 3
  4. Marvelman/Miracleman Part 4
  5. Star Wars
  6. V for Vendetta Part 1
  7. V for Vendetta Part 2
  8. Skizz
  9. Doctor Who
  10. Captain Britain Part 1
  11. Captain Britain Part 2
  12. Future Shocks
  13. Swamp Thing Part 1
  14. Swamp Thing Part 2
  15. Swamp Thing Part 3
  16. Swamp Thing Meets Superman
  17. Superman
  18. Watchmen Part 1
  19. Watchmen Part 2
  20. Watchmen Part 3
  21. Watchmen Part 4
  22. Green Arrow, Vigilante, Omega Men
  23. Green Lantern Corps
  24. Halo Jones
  25. Batman
  26. From Hell Part 1
  27. From Hell Part 2
  28. DR and Quinch
  29. In Pictopia
  30. Big Numbers
  31. A Small Killing
  32. Spawn
  33. Violator
  34. 1963
  35. WildCATs
  36. Spawn/WildCATs
  37. Mr. Majestic, Voodoo, Deathblow
  38. Supreme Part 1
  39. Supreme Part 2
  40. Supreme Part 3
  41. Judgment Day
  42. Youngblood and Glory
  43. The Spirit
  44. Tom Strong Part 1
  45. Tom Strong Part 2
  46. Tom Strong Part 3
  47. Tom Strong's Terrific Tales
  48. Promethea Part 1
  49. Promethea Part 2
  50. Promethea Part 3
  51. Top 10 Part 1
  52. Top 10 Part 2
  53. Smax
  54. Top 10: The Forty-Niners
  55. Tomorrow Stories Part 1
  56. Tomorrow Stories Part 2
  57. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Part 1
  58. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Part 2
  59. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier
  60. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century
  61. Lost Girls
  62. Albion
  63. Neonomicon
  64. The Alan Moore Legacy
  65. The 10 Best Alan Moore Comics of All Time