December 12, 2007

Review: Angel: After the Fall

So what happened to Angel and his crew in that alley on the verge of the apocalypse? I, for one, was sad to find out that Angel the TV show would be no more. Thank the Powers That Be - now Joss Whedon is continuing the series in comic book form, just like he is with Buffy. Now we have Angel: After the Fall, published by IDW. Yes, I also think it's ridiculous that the Buffyverse is split between two publishers (IDW and Dark Horse).

Well, #1 is out and I didn't even realize it until I happened upon it at the local comic shop. Looks like I wasn't the only one to notice - they are already in the third printing! This comic is "presided over" by Joss Whedon (I'm assuming that means, let's put Joss' name on the cover), written by Brian Lynch and illustrated by Franco Urru. Lynch does have the voices pretty well down. When I read a Buffy or Angel comic I tend to picture the actors and their voices in my head. If those don't mesh it's not a pleasant read. The art is in a style I prefer - the colorful, detailed, almost attempting realism type. Yes, I know I fail at describing comic art properly.

As for the story, I think I find it difficult to judge based on my excitement over continuing the series. I just really want to know what happened! It did not disappoint, however, in bringing in a whole new perspective. No drawn-out rehashing of what took place before. No. We are in for a roller coaster ride, this one is going to be good!

Basically, we join the story after that famous alley scene, and it becomes a sort of where-are-they-now. The main plot (the apocalypse bad juju stuff) carries over from the series. But we have a few new twists involving some old friends.

Now, some may ask if this is good to pick up for someone who hasn't seen the TV show. The answer is, I don't know. I saw the TV show and I liked it. So, um, yeah. It might be pretty confusing though. Even my boyfriend who also watched Angel had to reread it when I explained that the ____ was ____. Ohhhh, that makes more sense.

Well, now that the writer's strike is going to last for at least another two years... maybe Whedon will be able to concentrate more on the Angel and Buffy comics. A silver lining maybe?

In all, this is a must-have comic for any fan of Angel. If not a fan, then you have serious problems and shouldn't confuse yourself with this.

October 16, 2007

My Perfect Video Game

Please check out my article published at! My first of, hopefully, many articles to come.

If at first you don't Fables

So the boyfriend and I went for a stroll down to the comic book shop this weekend. I wasn't looking to buy Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile, but that's what I did. Actually, the boyfriend did, but I paid for lunch so we're even. Well, not really even. I mean lunch was freaking expensive - like fifty bucks! So no, not even until he buys me the rest of the series....

I really wanted to get Artesia. Ass-kicking historical female with swords and armor and stuff, sure! But not in stock.

Then I asked about She-Hulk Vol. 2: Superhuman Law. I read She-Hulk volume 1 and liked it a lot. But apparently it's out of print and they won't get more until the next one comes out or something.

Was interested in Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: Guilty Pleasures, Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel) since I've started reading the novels. I held off because, I don't know, I thought they would be more Harlequin Romance-y, but they aren't so far. But anyway, no luck there either.

Hey look there's that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, Vol. 1 up there on that high display rack. Haven't heard much about that. Well, the comic book guy says it's basically back stories for those who have to have everything Buffy. And I might fit that description soon, but not looking forward to reading a lot of filler just to have the full "background".

So then I came back to Fables. I read issue #1 (the freebie) and liked it. I think I liked the idea of it better than the implementation of it. But there is a great potential there, and everyone seems to love the series. So I'm thinking it may just take a few issues to get into the groove of the characters.

If you don't already know. The basis of the Fables series is the fairy tale characters living in present day New York City, but underground. It really does lend itself to the graphic / comic genre. Plus Snow White is a no-nonsense woman who basically runs "Fabletown", but just don't mention the seven dwarfs to her! Come on, who doesn't love that? Actually, this would make a great TV series...hmm, I wonder if Joss Whedon is reading this....

Well I've only read issues 1 and 2 so far, so I'll post a review when I'm finished. Then if I like it, I think there are only like seven or eight more to go....

October 3, 2007

The Best Female Character on TV?

I was watching Bones last night, which I watch with some kind of frequency, and realized something: Dr. Temperance 'Bones' Brennan, the title character, may be the best female character on TV today.

"Bones" is well-played by Emily Deschanel. She brings a quiet, dignified, yet amusing demeanor to the role. She pulls off "super smart" without a hitch.

The Bones character is a forensic anthropologist who solves murders alongside her FBI partner, Special Agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz of Angel fame. Not quite a coincidence, Kathy Reichs who is the inspiration for the character is also a forensic anthropologist. She serves as a writer and producer for the series.

What do I love about this character? She is unapologetically intelligent and smart. Not just one of those booksmart bimbos who fumbles through life without any sort of social skills. Sure, Bones doesn't get most pop culture references (I assume due to the fact she poured her whole life into her study and work) and isn't afraid to say exactly what she is thinking. But that only makes her stronger in my opinion. Her fault (and every character needs one) doesn't lie in the fact that she is too smart for her own good - a victim - which would be the easy way to play it. Her fault is that she is so intelligent and so passionate about her work that it leaves little room for a social life.

She is also unapologetically truthful. Saying what she thinks almost to a fault. Not afraid to start a fight with a man twice her size or carry a gun. I love it!

Deschanel was made to play this role. It fits her like a glove. She has that glint in her eye that says, "I know something you don't know." She's attractive, but not overtly sexual. She's not the sexy librarian that becomes a Playboy model when she takes off her glasses and lets down her hair. The casting here is great because it doesn't make you suspend your disbelief to think that she might be a genius.

Perhaps Bones is such a great character because it is modeled after, and co-written by, and actual woman. A woman who is writing herself (or her ultra witty self she hopes to be, as most writers do). Not dumbed down or oversexualized to please the men. Just a great, three-dimensional female character. Really the best I have found on television. Oh, and the show is pretty good too.

September 27, 2007

Bionic Woman: Old Becca vs. New Becca

No, I'm not talking about old Becky vs. new Becky on Roseanne. Although, new Becky is much better, especially on Scrubs.

Why did they recast the sister and recut the pilot episode? I saw the original, condensed pilot at the SDCC 2007, and the recut pilot last night on NBC.

The first "Becca", Mae Whitman, was an angst-ridden, cocky, emotional teen who blamed the title character, "Jamie Sommers" for just about everything that was wrong in her life. Oh, and she was deaf too (although I do not believe the actress is deaf).

The second "Becca", Lucy Hale, is a perky, cocky, cute-as-a-button teen who has the proverbial sisterly fights with Jamie, but all in all is doing okay. Oh and she's a computer hacker, and not deaf.

The episode I watched last night seemed a lot lighter than the original pilot, even though it still had it's dark moments. Whereas Jamie's life seemed really depressing and heavy before, it seemed a bit more casual and slackerly now.

I have to tell you, I was very disappointed when the producers announced at Comic-con that they had recast the sister. As was most of the audience. It was nice to see a hearing impaired character on a major show that was just like any other character. It was also nice to see a female character that was not super skinny and super pretty. She was a normal weight and was a bit goth. I was excited to see that many female teens would identify with her. So no, I was not initially happy about the change.

Hale's Becca is one of those super cute girls that we are supposed to believe is some sort of outcast and computer hacker. Um, yea, right. She isn't a bad actor, it's just that it's too much. Maybe I could see Whitman's Becca as a hacker - she had the loner tendencies needed to make a good hacker. But Hale? No way. It seems like the powers that be decided, "hey the sister needs to be involved in the stories hacker!"

Maybe my opinion was spoiled by the pilot that could have been. Maybe I wouldn't be so critical if I hadn't seen the first version. Maybe I'm just sad that an interesting female character was scrapped for another OC lookalike. Maybe I'm being too harsh on a really great show - looking for something to pick apart.

Truth is, it still is a great show. Michelle Ryan's "Jamie Sommers" kicks major booty. As does Battlestar Gallactica's Katee Sackhoff as "Sara Corvis." The women do rule this show, and that makes me happy. Besides, maybe the new Becca will grow on me. Maybe she'll gain ten pounds and start painting her fingernails black....

September 24, 2007

Can Someone Please Make This Magazine for ME?

First of all, I'm sick of these.

Why is it that men's magazines have cool stuff like gadgets and video games, and women's magazines have crafts and decorating tips? These men's magazines are everywhere. And they are all the same really. There are like a billion men's versions and no women's versions.

I want a women's lifestyle magazine with games, gadgets, films, tv, comics, and other stuff from a women's perspective. Yes, magazines like Play or PC Gamer may be somewhat non-gendered, but they don't go that extra mile. And even so, they err on the side of male, with the all too frequent "girls of gaming" issues.

You may say, "But Karen, there are online magazines like Cerise and WomenGamers that fill this niche."

I think those are both great, but they are not printed magazines. There is something about a magazine that you cannot get online, no matter how hard you try. It's the tactile part of it that makes it appealing, the glossy pages. says that women make up 43% of PC gamers and 35% of console gamers. Why doesn't this magazine exist yet?

I would definitely subscribe to that magazine.

September 23, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares Review

Okay, I watched the first episode of Kitchen Nightmares on Fox. This will be a short review - I wish it were more like the BBC version.

All right, I'll elaborate.

1. The premise.

So, the premise is basically the same. Gordon Ramsay, foul-mouthed British celebrity chef, visits a restaurant that's in the dumps and turns it around. How he does that varies in the two versions of the show.

2. The food.

For me, it's all about the food. On both shows Ramsay tastes the (usually) awful food at the beginning.

BBC: Ramsay works with the chefs and owners creating a new menu, and discovering hidden talents in the kitchen. He then usually takes samples out on the street for locals to taste what they are missing.

Fox: Ramsay creates a new menu and about five minutes is spent on the food during the hour-long show.

3. The music.

This may seem silly, but I've noticed it really sets the tone for the shows.

BBC: The musical score (I don't know if you can call the music for a reality show a "score" but I'm doing it anyway) is light and airy. It's happy and would be welcome as the background for a Monty Python skit and the whole thing put together with Ramsay helping people instead of just berating them makes you feel "good".

Fox: The music is dramatic with sharp violins and a heart-pounding bass that would be more welcome on some telenovela. Which makes the whole thing overly dramatic and silly, like a carbon copy of so many reality shows out now.

4. The restaurant.

I hope this is a one-time thing and not a trend.

BBC: The restaurant owners and chefs are the sort of quiet, polite, yet misguided souls you would expect to find anywhere in the UK.

Fox: This first show features the overtanned, teeth-bleached, bulky namesake of the restaurant has some sort of roid rage episode about every ten minutes. I can't help but think that this restaurant was cast not because of the dire state (there were actually lots of people dining there before Ramsay stepped in), but because of the "drama". It makes me sad because I don't care about this guy, and I don't care about that restaurant. I like the honest casting in the BBC version much more.

5. The upgrade.

This is when Ramsay does his thing and turns the restaurant around.

BBC: The menu is revamped, sometimes the owner takes a cue from Ramsay and renovates the dining area, or the outside using their own money. I think this really gives hope to anyone who might be stuck in the same situation that they too can change things around without the help of a "surprise makeover".

Fox: I was surprised when the show sprang for a whole new kitchen. That's right, a whole new kitchen complete with new commercial grade ovens, refrigerators, etc. They paid for it. It seems like such a cheat, just another surprise makeover.

In the end, the mook changes his ways, yippee! And the restaurant seems like it will be a success. Oh how I care. Yes, I'll watch again next week, but if the formula stays consistent I don't know how much longer. Although I will keep watching the BBC version for sure.

Airs Wednesdays 9/8c on Fox.

September 20, 2007

Goodbye to Comics

Yes I am late in reading this. I just read the whole thing today. I finished it about two hours ago and I can't stop thinking about it. It seems that late last year, blogger Occasional Superheroine spilled her guts and I just figured it out.

First of all, I cried a little. Which says a lot for her writing. It is very visceral and easy to read. Okay not quite easy emotionally. Difficult emotionally. That girl has been through some serious shit that I never even imagined. But I feel some kind of bond, some understanding, just for the fact of being female. It's that silly "sisterhood" thing. I guess that's empathy.

Just to backtrack, Occasional Superheroine was one of the first comic blogs I really got into reading regularly. I'm really new to this whole blog thing (seems I'm always late to the party). So I started reading that blog probably two months ago. I thought, "man, this girl has got her stuff together. She's smart, witty, knows stuff, doesn't take shit from anyone. This is what I want my blog to aspire to."

I saw the mentions of "Goodbye to Comics" and kept thinking, "I need to read that," but never made the time. Until now.

I am just floored with the candor of the posts. It seems like the kind of thing I would do on a whim (spill my guts) but then delete it before I posted it. But she just kept spilling and posting. I admire that.

It made me think of the women I have prejudged (come on, I know I'm not the only one), and why I believed what other people said about them. It made me grateful that my childhood was a mostly suburban dream. It made me ache for women that suffer at the hands of misguided men and dubious women.

All this brings me back to my original view of Occasional Superheroine. She is stronger than I thought, having overcome such crazy things - one after the other - it's almost ridiculous.

I hope she affects change in the comics industry - I hope she publishes her books. We need strong women to show other women out there (and men!) what real women can do.

Thank you for writing.


Okay, I need to change this blog up. It's not going to work as I originally intended. So I'm going to add some other media which I'm more familiar with and also enjoy discussing. Namely television, film, and video games.

I enjoy that a blog is a very organic thing, so I'll try not to be too confined and see where that takes me.

September 18, 2007

Fall TV Preview

Remember when TV Guide wasn't the size of Life Magazine? Remember Life Magazine? Remember when you couldn't wait to crack open that "fall preview" extra thick TV Guide with the new magazine smell and read what great TV shows you would be watching very soon on such networks as CBS, ABC, and NBC?

Those days are gone. The "new fall season" is gone. TV shows start and stop whenever the hell they want to nowadays. There are a gazillion channels with new shows on. Basically what used to be a perfect time for TV hounds like me has become a huge cluster#$%#. I keep asking my boyfriend, "are there any new shows on yet?" It's all very confusing. I long for the old days, but for now, I will make do.

So I've taken all the good stuff and chopped it up into easy to digest bites for you.

You will notice that Lost is suspiciously absent. That's because they aren't showing new episodes until next year! But then they won't split the season so that's a good thing.

New Shows:


Journeyman / NBC / 10pm - Quantum Leap writing? Kevin McKidd (the best thing on "Rome") travels through time. That's really all you need to know. Great actor and the promos look amazing. Starts 9/24.


New Amsterdam / Fox / 8pm - This detective guy is immortal. Or is he? I haven't heard much about this but immortal guy = intrigued. Just learned they moved this to midseason yay "coming soon".

Chuck / NBC / 9pm - Chuck downloads some government secrets or some such directly into his brain, and hilarity ensues I suppose (yawn). People are psyched about this one. For some reason I'm not that excited, but I'll give it a chance. Starts 9/24.

The Reaper / Fox / 9pm - Some slacker guy's soul was sold to the devil by his parents, so now he must serve the Dark One. A dark comedy that could be interesting. I have the feeling that House and Chuck are going to blow this one out of the water. Really bad programming on Fox's part. Starts 9/25.


Pushing Daisies / ABC / 8pm - Ned can bring stuff back to life...or death! Hehe, I get the feeling this one is going to turn into a soap opera. It's so hard to tell with these new shows because they hardly ever live up to the promos. Starts 10/3.

Bionic Woman / NBC / 9pm - Not so much a remake of the 70's TV show as it is an update (way more serious, action packed). Lots of buzz. I saw the pilot at CCSD and was very excited about it. Brought to you by the same people that brought you Battlestar Galactica. But now they've recast the sister and changed up the pilot episode. If they are messing with the original vision, this could be a disaster. Starts 9/26.


Kitchen Nightmares / Fox / 9pm - The US version of the BBC show, headed up by Gordon Ramsay. Okay it's not scifi, but I love cooking shows! Ramsay is the foul-mouthed celebrity chef that also hosted Hell's Kitchen, which I hated. But in Kitchen Nightmares he actually helps people with their failing restaurants. Starts 9/19.


Women's Murder Club / ABC / 9pm - Based on James Patterson's novels which I haven't read. But I loves me some murder mysteries! Four women solving crimes after work? I'm in! Starts 10/12.

Moonlight / CBS / 9pm - Vampire solves crimes. My favorite was seeing the actor interviewed on, I think, TV Guide Channel? He said "this has never been done before." Orly? Angel? Will this be better than Angel? Doubt it. Is it just me or does the whole cast look like little people on the website? Starts 9/28.


Viva Laughlin / CBS / 8pm - Hugh Jackman produced musical drama. Cameo please! Starts 10/21.

Returning Shows:


Heroes / NBC / 9pm - I was excited, then disappointed, then excited with the first season of Heroes. It could have been complete crap. It wasn't, so my hopes rose. Then they fell as the show became slow and the story lagged. But the last few episodes have been encouraging. Looking forward to next season. Starts 9/24.


Bones / Fox / 9pm - I always seem to watch this show in reruns. And its a good, solid show. Funny and smart. And since it's opposite Bionic Woman, I'll probably watch it in reruns again, or start programming the DVR. Starts 9/25


Survivor / CBS / 8pm - Takes place in China this season. From what I understand that's new and cutting edge. Do we see the survivors holed up in some sweatshop making sneakers? Or censored by the government when they post on their blogs? Kidding! Seriously though, I didn't even watch at all last season. Unless Jeff Probst joins the survivors in camp and eats bugs I doubt I'll be watching. Starts 9/20.

September 6, 2007

DC Plus Random House Equals New Readers?

So big news yesterday; Random House announced that they will be distributing DC's graphic novels.

In business terms this is Brangelina — the biggest and deepest backlist in the biz coupled with the marketing power of Random House should equal continuing ka-ching for all involved.

This is huge. Random House is like the Godzilla of book publishers. They have their tentacles - or paws, I guess Godzilla has paws - in more places than any other publisher.
And Levitz believes Random House will help sell the graphic novel category to independent bookstores, which have lagged significantly behind chain bookstores in embracing the category. “Graphic novels have a weaker representation in independent stores than in the chains. Random House has an opportunity to have a big impact there,” he said. Abraham agreed, noting that “we’re very selective in choosing our clients. We try to find category leaders like DC that are perfect for our own internal experience. I certainly hope we can bring in the independent stores.”

Independent stores are good, expanding is good. Maybe some other comic book publishers can ride their coattails into those independent stores.

But how much can these indie booksellers really penetrate into the non-graphic-novel-reading customer base? I mean - most readers do buy their books at the big chains or Amazon right? And Amazon is a different beast altogether. You pretty much go in there knowing what you're looking for, right?

I think the biggest coup here could really be spreading out the graphic novels to appropriate sections. Really, does Maus belong in the same section as The Ultimates? Sure, some people will read both, but in my opinion it doesn't make a lot of sense. Put the superhero TPB's with sci-fi / fantasy. Put the autobiographical graphic novels with biographies. Put the non-superhero books with fiction, etc. That is going to expand your reader base with the bookstore browsers who might not otherwise think of buying a graphic novel.

We don't have a separate section for books with etched drawings on the title page, or books with 12 point type. To me it makes about as much sense to group together books because they are made up of drawings.

Far-fetched metaphor incoming: The graphic novel section is like the gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender of the bookstore. They don't have much in common other than they don't fit anywhere else comfortably.

Of course that will probably not happen for a long time (but wouldn't it be cool?). In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how this relationship plays out and what Random House can bring to the table.

September 5, 2007

What's the Definition of Insanity Again?

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? I don't know if that's really the definition. I think it's just something some clever person made up that sounded good. Actually, I looked it up. Apparently someone did just make it up.

Fact is, I had a vision. A vision of introducing women to comic books. Here's the problem: women not interested in comic books don't read comic book blogs. I've tried advertising it in non-comic-booky places but it's not working.

How are women introduced to comics? Most of the bloggers I've read seem to have grown up with comics. I didn't, unless you count Donald Duck and Hanna Barbera kiddie comics. I was introduced to comic books through my boyfriend. The first comic I really loved and bought every issue was Ruse. Then Crossgen went bankrupt, figures. In my opinion Ruse was what Minx should have been. But maybe that's the way in - attract male readers and have them tell their girlfriends? Too iffy.

Blogs like Occasional Superheroine, Comics Worth Reading, and the When Fangirls Attack blogrolls know comics much better than I do. And they are where I would go when I'm looking for some info. There is a reason they are successful. They are smart and informed and people know that they know what they are talking about. Yes that made sense in my head.

The other side of the coin would be to post stories that are controversial just to get noticed. That's not my style. There are enough "all boys suck, all girls rock" blogs out there, I don't need to add to them.

I really do wish more "normal" (please don't take offense to that, I mean it generically) women out there could discover comic books. They should know that there's more than just superhero comics out there. Maybe Laurell K. Hamilton has the right idea. She took her uber-successful romance-vampire book series, Anita Blake, and turned it into a comic book. Personally I have not read that series, but it's super successful with women. Actually, has anyone ever seen a man read any of those? So women addicted to the book series and "have to have" everything associated with it will buy the comics. It's actually pretty perfect, if it works. Take some story universe that women love and turn it into a comic series. Like maybe, I dunno, Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Maybe that's the real future. I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels here. I enjoy writing and it makes me happy, but when no one reads it it's like an exercise in futility. And I feel like I'm just stroking my ego. I need to reevaluate, and get a different result.

August 22, 2007

Review: Mouse Guard Volume 1

Mouse Guard Volume 1: Fall 1152 is a treasure.

This book is published by Archaia Studios Press, which has a plethora of talented comic book writer/artists doing stuff outside the superhero vein. David Peterson does not disappoint either.

If I were pitching this as a movie I would say it's, "An American Tail meets Lord of the Rings." This is a story about mice in the year 1152. They have tiny little cities, and wear tiny little cloaks, and have tiny little swords. It's really all very cute, but is great because it's not cute in that Hello Kitty kind of way. The mice are all very serious and have real problems like predators who want to eat them.

But this story is about a threat from within their own ranks which is set to overthrow one of their cities. The main mice are part of the Mouse Guard, which guard the cities and towns from bad things. They also patrol the borders, chaperone "commonmice" and research wrongdoings. They are truly the adventurers of the mouse world. We follow mostly the three main mice, Saxon, Kenzie, & Lieam in this adventure.

The artwork in this book is phenomenal. This is a hardcover book (the paperback is due out spring 2008) and it would really make a great gift for anyone who likes LOTR type stories. Each panel is a work of art that you can study for details. The mice are very cute and stoic at the same time. There is also blood and stabbing and fighting (not in a Happy Tree Friends way, very minimal but effective).

Really I would recommend this book for men and women and boys and girls, and I look forward to the next one: Winter 1152.

August 17, 2007

Furries Scare Me

This chart reminded me of the above mentioned fact just by virtue of printing the word, "furries." *shiver*

I need a shower.

A funny chart though.

Digg: Books Not Newsworthy

Where the @#!! do you file a comic book story on Digg?

So I was browsing Digg, looking for any comic book or regular book news, and I noticed something odd: Digg doesn't list "books" anywhere. Not "reading material", or "newspapers", or even "things you check out of a library."

Here's a list of their categories:

Industry News
Tech Deals
World & Business
Business & Finance
Political News
2008 U.S. Elections
Political Opinion
World News
Offbeat News
Football - US/Canada
Other Sports
General Sciences
Industry News
Playable Web Games
PC Games
Nintendo Wii
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360

Are we so advanced now as a society that we no longer have any use for news about those ancient relics called "books"? Do books just get filed under "celebrity" or... I don't even know what else, "other sports". Doing a search on Digg for "comic book" heeds lots of results under a plethora of categories; movies, celebrity, general sciences, gaming industry news, offbeat news... but no books.

Digg isn't really all about news anyway. It's mostly just human interest stories. I mean "A Cat's Map of the Bed" is very cute, but is it news? Is it more newsworthy than "Killer Babies Infiltrate the Comicon!"? Possibly, but I digress.

I don't know, I'd like to think that if "motorsport" deserves it's own category that maybe books do as well?

No? Okay, I'll just be in offbeat news....

August 16, 2007

Reading Comics for Beginners Part 1: A Superpowered Glossary of Terms

Reading comic books can be somewhat scary for someone that's never done it before. It seems like some sort of secret society with capes and spandex and thought bubbles to an outsider. It's all very imposing.

There is a whole glossary of terms that people in the industry use. These are some of the commonly used terms you, as a reader, should know. Of course this is not an exhaustive list.

Colorist - the artist that applies color to the pen drawing
Comic Book Bag - a clear plastic bag used for comic book storage and protection
Comic Book Board / Backing Board - a (usually white) rectangular cardboard used in the comic book bag to keep the book from bending
Con - comic book convention
Fanboy - an obsessive male comic book collector that knows every detail about a particular comic (think "Comic Book Guy" from The Simpsons)
Fangirl - same as "fanboy" but female
Free Comic Book Day - an annual event when comic book distributors and retailers give away comics at local shops, usually in May
Golden Age - "the period of comics beginning June, 1938 with Action #1 and ending in 1945 with the end of World War II."
Graphic Novel - a bound book of either collected comic books or a standalone book that is thicker than a "floppy" comic book single issue
Inker - the artist that applies the ink to the pencil drawing
Letterer - the artist that applies the letters / words and captions to the artwork
Manga - a japanese comic book
Metaseries - "includes series of stories which include references to each other and some overall similar chronological or cast backdrop, but are not similar enough to be considered direct sequels."
Miniseries - a.k.a. Limited Series. a story contained in a limited number of issues, usually 2 to 12 issues
One Shot - "when only a single issue is produced of a title, or when the title is changed with each issue."
Ongoing Series - a series intended to continue indefinitely
Origin - the story of a character's beginning or creation
Panel - a box on the written page which contains a scene
Penciller - the artist that draws the original artwork with a pencil
Silver Age - "the period that begins in 1956 with the publishing of Showcase #4 and ends in 1969."
Splash Page or Panel - a large illustration or panel on the first page
Story Arc - a continuing storyline over a series of comic books
Superhero - character with mutant or super powers that uses those powers to do good and save the world
Supervillain - same as a superhero, but uses powers for evil or to destroy the world
TPB - trade paperback. A collected set of comic books reprinted and bound into a single book
Variant Cover - a comic book issued with multiple covers, each with different art, intended for collectors

I welcome corrections, etc., and look forward to adding to this "beginners" series.

References: books; Comic Book Dictionary; Wikipedia

August 15, 2007

Review: Those Left Behind (Serenity)


This is the TPB (trade paperback), Those Left Behind (Serenity)which takes place chronologically after Firefly the TV series and before Serenity the movie. All take place in the "Firefly" universe created by Joss Whedon of Buffy fame.

I wanted to like this more than I did. To me it felt more like a means to an end (the end being connecting the dots of what happened before the movie) than a well-thought out story on it's own merit.

Of course, Whedon and Mathews insert their humor into the writing, but not enough to make up for the lackluster story. There are no revelations here. It feels like a mediocre episode of Firefly.

The artwork really saved this book from being a complete failure. All the variant covers from the single issues are featured in between the stories, and they are really wonderful. Will Conrad's pencilling is right on, and Laura Martin is really my favorite colorist. I first got to know her work in Ruse; she does the best fabric I've seen in a comic book.

In all, I wouldn't miss this being a fan of Firefly/Serenity just to "complete" the story. But if I weren't I'd skip it.

August 14, 2007

Women Buy Comics Now Live

My new Amazon store, Women Buy Comics is now live. I'd like to use this store as a way of listing my recommended reads for sale at a discounted price. Or at least a way to look at the other customer and editor reviews.

I'll be adding more items to it in the near future and appreciate any feedback. Thanks for checking it out!

August 13, 2007

Stardust is a Fairy Tale for 2007

I saw Neil Gaiman's Stardust this weekend, and I really, really liked it. No, I didn't read the book (blasphemy!), so here's my take based on not reading the book, and not how they left this in and left this out, etc..

Stardust is an all-out fantasy fairy tale. It has a hero, a heroine in distress (or two), a wicked witch, pirates, and a unicorn thrown in for good measure. It's the perfect summer movie to watch if you want to feel good and not think too much. That may lead you to believe that it's for kids - well it is. But it's also for adults. And the silliness is truly kept in check with smart dialogue and funny exchanges.

Charlie Cox was solid and likeable, Michelle Pfeiffer was nice and evil (I don't know how you make this look sexy, but she did), and Claire Danes got better and more relatable over the course of the movie. Robert DeNiro's pirate captain Shakespeare could have been over the top and silly, but the director and the rest of the cast kept the character within the context of the movie.

Really the only bad part was the (too long) commercials and trailers before the movie. Some movie with Robin Williams (blech), Spiderwick Chronicles, Seeker (actually looked good to me). The best thing was the commercial for Journey Man on TV this fall.

In all, this movie's comparisons to The Princess Bride are apt, if in genre alone. Stardust isn't quite as comedic as Princess Bride, but has a lot more pretty special effects (and the special effects are nice and do further the story). This is great summer fare, and a perfect movie to see with the parents or relatives.

August 10, 2007

Review: She-Hulk Volume 1: Single Green Female


I have to say, this is the first time I've read a She-Hulk comic book (being a beginner - see blog description) and I'm impressed.

She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female is a compilation of Issues #1-6 of the latest She-Hulk incarnation. This storyline features the green goddess' alter ego, Jen Walters. Jen is a mousy lawyer that is nothing like the loud and boisterous She-Hulk. This is really the story of a woman dealing with the inconsistencies between her outer self and her real self.

That sounds very deep and depressing, but it's not. Dan Slott writes it tongue-in-cheek which makes me happy. There are a lot of references to other Marvel superheroes and supervillains which you may or may not understand if just starting out. But that will happen with any "universe" story.

I love Juan Bobillo's artwork (#1-4); it's very cartoon-y. His She-Hulk is nice and curvy, not just all scary muscles, yet very imposing at the same time. He has a nice way of adding humor to the pages too. Once you see his panels of Jen turning into She-Hulk I think you will be converted. I couldn't find any links to his artwork in this, but you can just go to the store and see!

Scott Kolins did the pencilling for #5 and 6. It's not that it's bad, it's just not my favorite. He has a more common style for She-Hulk. But in my opinion, it didn't match the writing as well.

I will be picking up the next volumes of She-Hulk which are already out. She-Hulk Volume 1 definitely lived up to my expectations and beyond.

August 9, 2007

Warner Bros., Whedon, and Wonder Woman

Just got this on Occasional Superheroine - Joss Whedon's take on his fall-out with the Wonder Woman movie project.

I think its more than just WB being "gunshy". They are stuck in the status quo, as are most entertainment executives. Whedon wanted to write a different take on Wonder Woman (not your cookie-cutter superhero movie), that's why they hired him, and that's why they fired him. It happens all the time in Hollywood, "hey kid, we hear you're doing cutting-edge things, you're hired!" Then, "hey kid, you're cutting-edginess doesn't jibe with our vision, sorry."

That combined with Whedon's lack of enthusiasm for writing at that point spelled disaster for the project.

I have to say, if you haven't noticed, I'm a Joss Whedon fan. I look forward to his new projects and I was looking forward to this movie. It's too bad Wonder Woman didn't happen.

Off Topic: I Heart L.A.

This earthquake woke me up at 1:00 in the morning. I was not a happy camper. Especially since I was having some sort of vivid dream and it interrupted my REM or something. It was only a 4.5, but enough to wake me up, not my dog, not my boyfriend (I woke him up anyway, hehe).

For those of you that have not experienced an earthquake before; It feels sort of like an 18-wheeler is barelling down the street, and then an invisible boogey-man proceeds to shake your bed violently for what seems like half an hour, but is more like five seconds.

Anyway, its very disconcerting having something you think is stable and shouldn't move (like, the ground) rattling and rolling like Katherine Hepburn's neck. So I'll try and "shake off" that unrestful night.

August 8, 2007

Off Topic: 100 Calorie Packs are the Devil!

Does this look healthy to you?

Oh the marketing person that came up with this one must be set for life. Working in an office I can tell you - these things are everywhere. They are like Invasion of the Snack-Snatchers. They are a horrible nightmare virus of 100-calorie goodness. People are buying these things like they are going out of style, which they might be.

What's the attraction? Are they healthier than their larger-portioned big brothers and sisters? No. But they come in tiny overpackaged...packages so you don't have the horrifying duty of actually portioning enough Nilla Wafers for yourself.

Chips Ahoy, Oreos (which are nothing like actual Oreos), Jell-O, Teddy Grahams, Hostess Cupcakes (WTF?).

Here's a clue: Just because it comes in a 100-calorie pack does not mean its healthy! There, I said it.

Now I'm just going to have one more pack....

What am I doing?

I'm in the midst of reading She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female and will hopefully have a review by the end of the week.

I am enjoying the read so far - it's funny, witty, and smart. I can see why this series has been getting somewhat of a buzz. Even though I have to ask the boyfriend about some of the background with her and the other superheroes, it can stand on it's own so far. We'll see how the last half pans out.

Interview with Sandra Hope, Nice Read

This is a nice interview with an inker, Sandra Hope, on Pink Raygun, that I found through WFA.

I'm all for supporting women in comics, and actively look for female writers and artists. Hope talks about some of the ups and downs of women in the comic book industry. It's frustrating to learn how stifled it still is, especially by other women. I really thought it wasn't that bad anymore (based on what - I'm not sure).

Anyway I found this interview informative, hope you do too.

August 7, 2007

Please God, No Sanjaya in Tights

Comic Book Resources just announced the third installment of "Comic Book Idol".

Now this is something I can readily relate to. I love watching American Idol's early rounds. The wincing and the jaw-dropping horridity (new word?) of it all is just so satisfying. Isn't that why people watch American Idol? Really who watches the final rounds?

So how does this translate to comic book art? Hm, not sure. Maybe we will see people embarrass themselves drawing strangely proportioned superheroes, or using the wrong color green for The Hulk.

On the other hand, this could be an actual uplifting and positive interpretation of the "Idol" genre resulting in the discovery and publication of real artistic talent. Hmph. I guess that's okay.

August 6, 2007

Dark Horse Signs Monk Creator to Pen Long Lost

Here is the press release.

USA's hit show Monk lends Dark Horse their creator Andy Breckman. Paired with legendary artist Peter Gross, the team delivers Long Lost, a drama full of loss, suspense, and mystery.

I love Monk, the show on USA Network, not the profession. You would be hard-pressed to find more than only a few shows that are smarter, wittier, more character-driven. No, I don't watch every episode but when I see it on, I'll watch it. Just the fact that the creator is going to be involved in a new comic for Dark Horse makes me happy.

I've been craving a good drama/mystery comic and haven't found any recently. I started to get hooked on comics by reading Ruse, published by the now defunct Crossgen (sad). It was a victorian mystery / superhero drama with a touch of comedy. I loved it - so girly. Long Lost seems like it will be a lot darker than that, but still with a sense of humor. So here's hoping that Long Lost will be a new favorite.

August 5, 2007

Review: Metal Men #1 (of 8)

I just read this first issue of an eight issue series, Metal Men, from DC. This is a spinoff miniseries from an ongoing series, 52. It's nice to read these miniseries comics because:

  • They are short and confined, so easy to swallow (with your eyes?). Also good for those of us with commitment issues.
  • They usually feature new and upcoming writers and artists trying new things.
  • The backstory isn't as important and you can jump right in.
This is the story of an inventor, and his "metal men" robot inventions (which include two metal "women"). These robots are really superheroes, and fight evil and all that. They also each have their own personalities similar to the metal they are made of (Lead is dense, Mercury is high-strung, etc).

While telling the story within the DC universe, Duncan Rouleau injects a sense of humor into this comic - in his writing and in his drawings. The art has a crisp and jaunty quality that lends itself to his amusing story of Metal Men.

This first issue has me interested, especially because of the art. I'm not sure if I'd continue if not for that. The story is a background for the next issues; it's pleasing, if not addicting. I would recommend picking this up if you are looking for a light superhero comic to read.

August 1, 2007

This Woman Will Play Tabula Rasa

Okay, okay, it's not a comic book... but I really really want to love this game. After kicking the habit of World of Warcraft (WoW), Tabula Rasa looks like just the thing to scratch that itch.

I want to be that kickass chick in the picture and blast all the monster aliens to Kingdom Come. I want to be a sniper perched on a hill and off the Bane one by one - is that weird?

This mmorpg (massively multiplayer online role playing game) should be out by holiday 2007, and is brought to you by Richard Garriott a.k.a. "Lord British". It's got quite a buzz and I had the chance to play a bit at Comic-con. The shooting aspect is just my style - sticky targeting (meaning I don't have to hold my breath so I don't accidentally move the mouse one micron and miss the target).

Tabula Rasa is in closed beta now (you can sign up here) which means they are still working out the release version. It looks like NCSoft, the publisher, is going for an easy play style. That means I can play the game for an hour at a time if I want to which is nice because I don't need an addiction right now (read: WoW). Let's cross our fingers and hope this one lives up to the hype.

July 31, 2007

How I Survived Comic-con San Diego 2007

I just got back on Sunday from San Diego and I'm still recovering and reminiscing. Reading this post on Occasional Superherione got me thinking about why I went, and why other women go to Comic-con. What she finds if very similar to what my suspicions were - that women go for many reasons other than comic books. Namely, these would be movies, TV, and gaming. Come to think of it, I think that's why a lot of the men go to the Con these days too.... I mean, you can't swing a golden lasso there without lassoing a poster from some new movie, a young actor starring in a TV show, and a beta code for a new video game.

Yesterday I spoke with a co-worker who went to Comic-con 1975 (before Star Wars - what did they do?!). He said the whole thing took place in the El Cortez Hotel. I doubt you could squeeze even one-third of the Expo floor in there from this year. But they could then because all they talked about was (shock) comic books.

I find that people I talk to that have never been, are fascinated by the spectacle and want to know more. The first question they ask is, "did you dress up?" Well, I can see why they would get that idea from the TV coverage.

So how do modern women survive the craziness that is "The Con"?

  1. Location is everything. We were lucky enough to snag a hotel only two or three blocks away from the convention center. Hotel rooms sell out quickly and we had to book them months in advance. If you are farther away, there is a bus route and a trolley line. No need to put any extra steps on your feet than required.
  2. No spandex. As fun as it may sound, dressing up looks like a huge mistake to me. I see the sweatiest, most bruised and tired people dressed up in superhero/movie/Halloween costumes. I cannot imagine standing in line for a panel outside in 90 degree heat with three layers of Storm Trooper on. Let's be practical here. Jeans and tennis shoes are the way to go. Most attendees don't dress up in case you're wondering.
  3. Learn to bob and weave. All those years maneuvering in crowded bars really paid off. This place is crowded and your skills will sharpen most definitely.
  4. Plan your day but be flexible. The program schedule is your friend. Me and the boyfriend would highlight the panels we really wanted to go to each day. But if the line was too long or we were having a terrific lunch, then we could skip it. The in-between times were for the Expo floor. You can always go back there and find something new. There's comic books of course, toys, dolls and figurines, video games, card games, movie and TV previews, and tons of other shops (jewelry, corsets, tee shirts, light sabers...).
  5. Enjoy your surroundings. San Diego is a great city with a great downtown. The convention center is actually right by the Gaslamp District (very trendy) and on the water. You can walk around into the various shops and restaurants, or go down to the seaside village and watch the fireworks at night. I even saw Cinderella horse and carriage rides by the marina which I pointed out several times to the boyfriend, but he didn't get the hint. Although we didn't go this year, San Diego is known for their zoo, Wild Animal Park, and Sea World. A full day is really needed for any of those.
Even though I do not wish for any more attendees to Comic-con (there was 123,000 last year), I do wish more women attended. More women like me who don't necessarily dress up but who aren't scared of this nerd convention, but excited for the next one - you don't know what you're missing!

July 30, 2007

Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8

This is a great comic for the comic-book uninitiated. Joss Whedon (creator of the Buffy movie and TV series) is writing this comic book series for Dark Horse. It takes place chronologically after the last season of the television series - hence "season 8".

I think this is a great way to start reading comics because the back story is one that a lot of TV viewers are familiar with. And if you ever wondered what happened after the end of Sunnydale, here it is. Whedon doesn't disappoint with his irreverent and all out fun storytelling style. How can a guy be so good at writing such great female characters?

Each issue has two covers: the original and the variant. This is for the collectors, and the inside is the same in both versions. The artist of the first four issues, Georges Jeanty, has a modern, detailed style which pleases me. And Paul Lee pencils Issue 5 with an equally talented hand.

So far we are up to Issue #5, and (as we left off in the TV series) Buffy is leading a large group of Slayers that were given their powers in season 7. They are basically an army which Xander is helping to coordinate, thanks to his convenient army training from the Halloween episode.

All in all, this is a great transitional sort of series - if you can watch the TV show you can read the comic book. Order from Dark Horse or purchase from your local comic book shop. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I am.