Monday, September 26, 2011

[September 26th] FantasyCon

I'm announcing it, officially, with all the fanfare and nyan cat colored lights. I'm attending my first ever con, FantasyCon, which opens this Friday in Brighton. The programme has been announced as well, which is a huge relief. I need a couple of days to make sure that I make all the right choices and visit most of what's available. I'll attend my first author reading and I'll have to somehow NOT buy tons of books... Yeah, not buy... *sigh*

I'm excited is an understatement.

In the mean time, six more chapters to go. Can I do it?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

[September 25th] The New 52 Week 3

As faithful as ever, I return with an update with DC's reboot feature. It's Week 3 and things are controversial as they can be. After last week's tasteless reinventions of famous characters, which robs the multiverse of its small diversity, now it's time for women to be portrayed as soulless sex-bots. Even so, there are a few titles I'm interested in reading. I've seen Batman and all Batman related titles be recommended, though that's too obvious. I'm certain that a lot of the attention is aimed at Batman and Superman, hence the multitude of titles based on either the Bat or Sup family. I'm not that fascinated by Batman to be recommending him.

[Birds of Prey] As you know I'm wildly passionate about Birds of Prey, because of the hugely successful run in the capable hands of Gail Simone. I had reservations about the new version, assuming that without Oracle a lot of the psychological warfare would be absent. The new issue packs action, hints towards a bigger plot and the introduction of Starling proposes a limitless amount of opportunities for development.

[Blue Beetle] From the episodes of Batman The Brave and The Bold, this new Blue Beetle captivates. Plus he's from a different ethnicity *gasp* and I never really had any idea what his origin story is. Right now, not much has happened and there is no foreshadowing as to a greater arc regarding the character, but it's a worthwhile investment.

[Catwoman] I know that the tacky sex panels dampened my spirits a little as the space could be utilized for a more fleshed out effort on story telling, but I love Catwoman. She's one of the iconic DC characters. She and Harley Quinn are magnetic. There's potential here. Let's hope it's less wasted on Rule 34.

[Supergirl] I don't know where this issue will take. As I'm not into the Kryptonian mythos, I'm grabbing onto this title in the hopes that I may achieve enlightenment. Plus Supergirl appealed to me as an easy going ball of sweetness and energy. From the looks of it, she may have gone a bit grumpy.

[Wonderwoman] The scene, where decapitating a horse gives birth to centaurs tipped the balance in favour. I love Greek Mythology and the writer here doesn't waste time at all as obviously Zeus has himself a brand new offspring and by the looks of it, Wonderwoman's mission is to keep safe the mother.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

[September 24th] Shake it Out

I've been a bad Florence + The Machine fan. Their second single has been released last week and I have not placed it on my blog. I have to admit that the heavy use of church organ makes it harder for me to enjoy this as much as I enjoy What The Water Gave Me, purely because my ears can't handle heavy sounds, while at the same time the song has a sonic/seismic quality that quakes through your bones.

Here's the video:


Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play

And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn

And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around

And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It's a final mess but it's left me so empty
It's always darkest before the dawn

Oh woah, oh woah...

And I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't
So here's to drinks in the dark at the end of my road
And I'm ready to suffer and I'm ready to hope
It's a shot in the dark and right at my throat
Cause looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Looking for heaven, for the devil in me
Well what the hell I'm gonna let it happen to me

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaah

And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Friday, September 23, 2011

[September 23rd] Super Blowup Dolls to the rescue

As you know I've been keeping close tabs on The New 52 DCU reboot. This week DC writers have introduced readers to the brand new liberated sexy ladies. The examples are Catwoman and the new Starfire in Red Hood and The Outlaws. Laura Hudson discusses the issues with DCU's take on women with provocative characters at Comics Alliance:

But the problem isn't Star Sapphire. Or Catwoman. Or Starfire. Or Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny on the Justice League satellite or that stupid rape backstory Kevin Smith gave Black Cat or the time Green Lantern's girlfriend got murdered and stuffed in a refrigerator. The problem is all of it together, and how it becomes so pervasive both narratively and visually that each of these things stops existing as an individual instance to be analyzed in a vacuum and becomes a pattern of behavior whose net effect is totally repellent to me. As an anomaly, maybe Starfire could be funny, the way the big-breasted, over-sexed Fritz (who even got her own porno comic, Birdland, which is pretty good if you're into that) is often funny in Love and Rockets, mostly because the series is already packed full of incredibly diverse, fully-realized female characters. But as the 5,000th example of a superhero comic presenting female sexuality in tone-deaf ways, it's just depressing.


And the problem is that when I look at these women, I would very much like to see confident ladies who enjoy sex and are having a fun sexy time. But what I see instead are women who give me the same impression as creepy dead-eyed porn stars mechanically mouthing "oh yeah, I want it." And that feeling of coerced sexual enthusiasm is the creepiest, saddest, most unerotic thing I can imagine. And if I were able to have a boner, seeing something like that would make me lose it every time.

I've had issues with both titles, more with Red Hood rather than Catwoman. Laura nails down all that made me cringe and not connect with the titles completely. I think that the issue with the end panel in Catwoman, where Selina is riding Wayne, is that the sexual release acts as Selina's go to method for dealing with bad days and depression. Yes, Selina is down and the way Batman consoles her is with a Bat-gadget that only he can provide. This is not to say that I didn't find the panel erotic or tasteful. Batman and Catwoman are wonderful together and I expected Selina to get Bat's pants down, but the timing is off.

Instead of seduce him, she clings to his anatomy like some people cling to food, sappy music or movies [or whatever you do when you feel sad] and the panel in this case takes away from her power rather than empower the character. Selina's just one of those girls with a complex or low self-esteem issues that need to have sex to feel better. That's not the case, but to me it looks like it is.

Starfire is the worst example of how sexually objectified women are in comics [at this point I can even say that the Star Saphires are better presented]. First, I don't have a background with her as a character other than the Teen Titans animated series, where Starfire appeared as the goofy and kind hearted and sweetest girl ever. Tamaran, in the animation, praised love and emotions. I believe the animation used these cardinal principals from the comics.

In the New 52, Starfire can not even remember her teammates, because to her every human looks the same and therefore is not worthy to remember. While this character trait promotes racism [white people and Asians, anyone?] the biggest issue is the absence of love in sex for her as a Tamaranian. Never about love. It's physical and basic. What happened to the love? To veneration of emotions? Forget about pleasure, the stilted and casual deliverance of the line "Just that love has nothing to do with it" combined with the catalog posing in previous panels, is just wrong. Starfire is not a woman, she's a husk. A super powered blowup doll.

I'm saddened to see sex brought low-brow. I don't mind seeing sex. Yes, superhero stories are not by definition sexual as action and violence dominate themes. When I do see sex in comics I'd like to see my heroines as avatars of sex and not the cheap, imitations, the superpower blowup dolls you can contort into pale resemblance of sexuality and sensuality.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

[September 22nd] Revision's Red

'Dear Prudence' by Larkin

I realize that the technical term is editing at this stage, rather than revisions, but I felt a strong need to alliterate. Makes any titles catchier, even if it is a cheap trick.

An update then. Contrary to popular belief, mine included, I'm to meet the self imposed deadline on Crimson Cacophony. Arguably, I have 20,000 words more to add [the lack of detail in the latter third of my chapters is staggering in its scope and ambition] even with six remaining chapters. Though I'll certainly adopt the role of a surgeon should the need thereof arise. I prefer my chapters to be trimmed and slimmed down into bites. The inclusion of agent Thater is one of the highlights, which will make the ending more realistic in the sense that it will make a lot more sense.

One of the trends I've realized with this novel is that other than Syringe, all my other characters are male, which is rather abnormal for me. My fiction is female exclusive [am I using this right?]. Women rule, women destroy, women overcome. In Crimson Cacophony it's as though I'm overcompensating for ignoring my own gender.

I have six more days in order to conclude the subsequent draft of Crimson Cacophony, before my trip to the UK, where I shall be attending Brighton's FantasyCon. I'm not sure whether I have mentioned my trip before, but I will definitely spell out more in regards to the journey. My project is to have a travelogue from the dates 28.09 [date of departure from my home] and the 05.10 [time of arrival at my home].

Project: Crimson Cacophony
Chapters Edited: 34
Words total: 64,700/80,000 (supposedly)
Chapters left: 6 (supposedly)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

[September 21st] Candle in the Attic

I've a brand new anthology, I'd like to sink my teeth into, which is now hot off the press from the ever so wonderful Innsmouth Free Press.

Candle in the Attic Window, our Gothic horror anthology, has officially arrived. We offer 27 poems and short stories inspired by Gothic themes from: Don D’Ammassa, Jesse Bullington, James S. Dorr, Leanna Renee Hieber, Paul Jessup, Ann K. Schwader, E. Catherine Tobler, Colleen Anderson, and many more.

The power has gone out and all that remains is the glow of a flickering candle. Come up into the attic and uncover some secrets: a vampire who feeds on something other than blood, the lover who returns from the dead, a cursed German industrial complex, a movie crew shooting a documentary in an old abandoned house, and a vengeful mummy.

The anthology also features a moody Philipino inspired story by the talented Theresa Bazelli. It's a real chiller and Bazelli barely tapped into her full Asian WTF-ary dominion over horror. I'll be munching over my copy soon enough.

[September 20th] The New 52, Week 2

Part for time two of my DC’s The New 52 recommendation list. Out of the thirteen titles from last week’s release I set my eyes on the following precious, chosen ones. I've read most of them and the ones I haven't mentioned are the ones I will need two or three more issues to decide on whether to recommend of not.

[Batwoman] Easily, the most visually stunning comic book I’ve ever read. This is art of the highest concept, which could make me ignore even the shittiest story. Thankfully, the story is promising, especially with the supernatural angle.

[Demon Knights] Interesting bunch of immortals grouped together against a dynamic backdrop in popular mythological era. Madame Xanadu is a pure joy to read and the flirt with Etrigan promises for a fertile development ahead.

[Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.] Father Time as a small Japanese school girl. A group of highly recognized monsters as black ops team. A mummy as a cleric. Need I say more?

[Resurrection Man] Not very clear with what ‘overdue’ means or what the heck is happening at the moment, but the concept is nice and the writing to solidify the superpower is strong. I will gladly explore where this will head.

[Superboy] Can I say this is perfect? No, but there is a high possibility to see Superboy in a hero against hero action, which I so adore. Plus the theme about people that are being made and therefore are broken or incomplete fascinate me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

[September 19th] The New 52 Week 1

I’m, yet again, missing in action, so this is why I’m late to comment on the first releases from the DC reboot. If you can’t tell, I’m excited, cause I’m a super hero fetishist and in the mean time I receive a strange tingling sensation, when my eyes zero in ‘#1’. From the thirteen titles released in the first week, I can recommend five as I know that those five I’ll be reading with a great interest.

[Action Comics] I admit I’ve never given Superman the chance he deserves. His purity puts me off, but with the reboot, Superman has a bit more character and comes off enjoyable in his cocky behavior. I’m very interested to see where this series is heading.

[Animal Man] The cover art had me drooling right after the line-up had been introduced and I have no idea, who Animal Man is. His powers kind of remind me of B’wana Beast, but I kind of only know B’wana from The Brave and The Bold. Fantastic first issue. It’s something I’d enjoy writing and reading in any format.

[Batgirl] It’s Barbara Gordon and Gail Simone. So far the first issue is wobbly with a rather weird nemesis and baffling last pages, but I’m not losing faith yet.

[Stormwatch] I have no idea, where this is going, nor do I know any of the characters, but I praise the superpower of speaking to cities. Yes, I’m reading a series because of a concept, but as far as I know, this is the sole series to tackle the overarching universal plot. This might get interesting.

[Swamp Thing] Good writing and interesting story, if you don’t trouble yourself with who in tarnation is the lead character: a human, a creature or a genetic margarita of both. Bonus point for nailing one of my favorite powers, plant life manipulation.

Monday, September 5, 2011

[September 5th] Thoughts on JLA Issue 1

In the wake of The New 52 here is what I think about the 1st issue of the new Justice League series. Statler and Waldorf summarize the rollercoaster I entered, when I opened my issue:

Jim Lee’s art kept me attention. Although I’m not partial to how he draws Batman’s chin [I’m guilty of watching too much The Brave and The Bold], Lee commands the panel. I wish that Geoff Johns could do the same in the writing department. While it’s true that he captures the emblematic douche-ness of Green Lantern Hal Jordon [a character I dislike and the more I’m exposed to his dialogue, the more I dislike the comic]; I feel as though half of what he says is unnecessary.

I’m unaware what the general opinion for infodumping is for comic books, because I’ve read older series, where a speech bubble took two thirds of a one-third-page panel, but Geoff is in details, which I don’t care for. Do I really need to know how Batman got the tip for the alien thing that did something at the docks? Do I really want to know Hal’s life story, considering both heroes are on the run from the police?

After the initial introductions between Batman and Green Lantern, the issue follows a very repetitive pattern. Batman says something, Jordan acts on impulse rather than any reasoning, something unexpected happens and then Batman swoops in to fix things. Check the ending, which foreshadows Batman vs. Superman fight*. I’m also not at all pleased with Batman’s new need to prove himself superior or more accurately the writer’s goal to have him be superior. The easy peasy way how he figured how the power ring worked and guessed what the robot planted in the sewer, when the power ring failed too.

Another issue I had stems from Cyborg’s pre-hero arc. While I do care, who Victor Stone was before becoming Cyborg, I don’t believe starting as far away from his origin is justified. First, his appearance is disconnected from the main plot [though plot is an overstatement right now] and then this first issue has to establish the readers’ interest in a staccato pace. Maybe Stone’s accident as a cliff-hanger would have boosted the appeal.

Is this a bad comic book? In on itself, no. Considering how many months went into The New 52 in terms of promotion and promises how everything would be altered, yes. I’ve read worse, but I can’t deny that this issue suffers from inefficient storytelling.

* Also who else thinks a Batman vs. Superman brawl is as cliché as ideas come.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

[September 4th] What the Water Gave Me

I've been in a creative dead zone as of late. I've found myself interested in digesting art in all of its mediums rather than creating, which is always a bad thing, when my goal is complete these final edits before undertaking my trip to the UK. In the mean time, I've found it rather cathartic to add some order to my computer's hundreds of files and burn discs with files and movies. Again, while a fun, control-freakish activity is hurting my productivity.

I'll try to be good, but I can't promise anything.

As a peace treaty, I'm offering my new slice of inspiration "What the Water Gave Me" by Florence + the Machine, whose yet untitled album will be released on November 7th.