Dark and epic and crappy

Occasional Superheroine nailed it pretty damned well. This saddens me. As much as I wish the whole dark and epic fad would sod off to it's little emo corner and peacefully take a razor to it's tradgic little wrist and leave me well enough alone, it seems to be making buckets of money, so I guess we're going to have to deal with it.

We've got WATCHMEN barreling towards the theaters, and those who have read the book know what a sunny trip to the beach that thing is going to be. Even THE SPIRIT is looking grimmer and grittier than usual. Marvel's got another PUNISHER movie coming out. Now we get to hear about Warner Brother's wanting to give the same treatment to other DC comics heroes, likely starting with SUPERMAN.

This is easily the stupidest thing they could possibly do.

Sure that depressing piece of psuedo-terrorist porn that is THE DARK KNIGHT is making enough money to make the producers giddy, but what works for Batman does not work for Superman. These two characters really are on the opposite ends of the superhero spectrum. Batman uses fear as a weapon and with that gives the readers a rush. People who are scared fantacizing about being that which causes fear, and everyone has been afraid sometime in their life. Superman represents that very best that people hope to aspire to. He's powerful enough to do almost anything he wants and moral enough to do what's right.

Superman is not a dark character. He's the light in the darkness that gives those around him hope. In THE DARK KNIGHT we see the heroes drug down into chaos, compromise and failure. Batman submerges into darkness where he is hunted like the villains he faces. He failed to find a better way. That's always been my main gripe about that movie. I'm in the seat wanting to see my hero overcome the odds. I want to see him rise above the darkness, chaos and dispair. That didn't happen.

Superman rises above, because that's what he does. He's powerful enough to do amazing things. He faces impossible challenges and he rises to them because he is a hero. If they want to do a Superman movie with darkness, fine. Surround the character with darkness. Make it so all seems lost, and have our hero come through. That's why SUPERMAN RETURNS did so miserably. The movie was all about threatening Superman and doing away with him, and yet again it was Lex Luthor and a bunch of green rocks as the threat. We were told time and again in that movie how important Superman was to the world. They needed to show us. They needed a threat that would decimate the world, and give us a hero willing to lay his life down to defend the world. Bring on Darkseid, or Brainiac. Something that's more of a threat than a smart guy who wants to cash in.

Darkness in our heroes is not the answer. What does it say about a culture that wants to see it's heroes compromised? I don't want to be entertained when I could be inspired. I watched SPIDER-MAN 2 last night. At the time when it was released I had heard Aunt May's Hero monologue to the point of being nauseous. It was in nearly every trailer and advertisement. Last night, I heard it again and I think I finally got it. After subjecting myself to THE DARK KNIGHT, I needed my palet cleansed. That monologue speaks eloquently of the importance of having heroes. Of believing in those who stand for something important, decent and greater than themselves. Rosemary Harris delivered that speech so very well.

Like the song LOVERS IN A DANGEROUS TIME by the Barenaked Ladies says, "Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight."

Time to kick something.

Comics: mine, others, and Crisis Avoided

First up: my stuff!

Chris has finished up MERE MORTAL issue 3, and if taking the week off to work on other thing and a site update before starting issue 4. I've completed the first chapter of NIGHT LIFE, and will be taking the week off as I'm transitioning from a strip format to a regular comic page format. This is a bit intimidating for me, but you don't get anywhere by being a wuss. You may be asking how we managed to get to end of our prospective chapters at the same time? We're just slick that way.

And now: other people's stuff!

In a random act of e-narcissism I Googled myself. That always sounds dirty, no matter how many times you say it. Anyways, a listing came up for me at boxxet.com under 'Blue beetle' and the page, which I had absolutely nothing to do with, had a bit from this here blog and told the gentle readers to check here for more info on BLUE BEETLE. Of course, I haven't said anything about BLUE BEETLE since that one post that got ganked for that site, UNTIL NOW! This week's issue was good times. I like Sturges on the writing chores, and we have Rafael Albuquerque on art, so I'm a happy camper. I was really worried about this book after John Rogers left, but it seem to have gotten it's footing back.

Over in TEEN TITANS we get a very nesty bait and switch story. I honestly sat there and said, "That did not just happen". This title's been in some trouble since Geoff Johns left it. It just doesn't seem to be able to keep my focus. I thought the Terror Titans story was alright, but not great. The team keeps losing members. I know there's some spin off series planned, but right now, I don't know how intersted I really am in checking it out.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES had my attention for the first time in a long time, and not just from the last page of shocker of two of my favorite Legionaires canoodling. I like the series, although it does need to tighten up just a little more on the narrative. I'm very glad that the series will be surviving the Legion of the Three Worlds event. There was quite a bit of worry from myself and other Legion "Threeboot" fans that this version of the Legion would be done away with in favor of the Legion that Geoff Johns brought back in his Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes story.

Justice Society of America continues it's story of Gog and Magog, which ties in with Mark Waid and Alex Ross's series KINGDOM COME. The story continues to be a strong one, whether your a fan of KINGDOM COME or not. Lots of good elements coming into play as Superman from the KC universe watches event unfold before him that had dire consequences on his world. Unfortunately this story is geared towards readers who have been reading comics for quite a while. Yes, still story loses quite a bit of punch if you ahven't read KINGDOM COME, but it's still worth the time to pick it up.

And on to SUPERMAN, which marks the first time I've really followed this title. I showed up for James Robinson's writing and I haven't been disappointed. The hook on the end of this issue has got me eagerly awaiting next month. Even you haven't read the title in a while, now's a really great time to come on back.

Finally: Final Crisis management.

It's no secret that I'm terribly disappointed in FINAL CRISIS and BATMAN: R.I.P., and I've dropped both titles. I gave both three issues, and neither could keep me interested. Here's the thing on FINAL CRISIS, no I don't like the series, but I'm really loving the spin offs.

Meltzer's LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT is not a direct tie in, but it's an event so I'm talking about it here. As stories go, it's a solid one. It revolves around the final night of the DCU. Something's happened, which Meltzer is vague on, but that probably a wise move, but it's bad. End of the world kind of bad and the heroes know that this is very likely their last fight. Much of the story revolves around Geo-Force wanting to finally get his revenge on Deathstroke for his sister. Much of what goes on with other heroes is handled in a page of two. The story is solid, but unless you're a fan of Geo-Force, and at last count there were about twelve of us, you likely will not care.

Second issue of ROGUES' REVENGE hit and I'm loving this book. The Rogues, like myself, decided to give the whole FINAL CRISIS thing the finger. And while I'm getting heat at the comic shop for my decision, Captain Cold and his crew are getting their own heat. They're looking to handle a few last bits of business before going to ground, namely, killing that punk Inertia. Libra's got a problem with them not playing ball, and it's on like Donkey Kong.

Then there's the SUPERMAN BEYOND 3D. I don't like 3D anything. Never been a fan. The story is tight though. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to see in FINAL CRISIS. Champions of the multiverse coming together fo take on some big badness. Superman kicking butt and taking names. If we had more of this sort of thing in FINAL CRISIS I'd be singing it's praises to the heavens.

So, that's my week in comics. Later.


Everyone has some sort of title. This is true in martial arts too. Now there's plenty of titles out their, and I actually have one, but I don't really use it.

It probably comes with me dealing with all the testing I did back in 07. After the kicking of my ass had concluded and the menjo (certificate) was presented I was still the same guy I was before. So, titles aren't that important to me.

Sure, some titles are definitely worth attaining. Things like 'high school graduate'. It can work like a bit of professional or social short-hand. Taken too far though and it just becomes bragging.

So, my titles? I'm a black belt, and a sensei. Sure I've got higher rank and title than that, but the ones I listed are all I need.

Damn you, Jonas Brothers!

So I get a phone call today. It's the church. Someone's not happy. Seems someone made a mess in the social hall of the church where we train. Since we were the last scheduled group to use the room and the mess was obviously created by more than one person I got the phone call.

Well obviously, it wasn't us. We're running around in there barefoot. We kinda like the floor clean and since none of my students spontaneously secrete wrappers and foodstuffs from the soles of their feet it made no sense that it would be us.

However the Jonas Brothers were playing in town, and then all the pieces fit together.

For those of you not familiar with them, they're three brothers that Disney put together and is marketing them as a band. The kids eat it up despite the fact that they're about as edgy as a butterknife and their songs are slightly less melodic as the previously mentioned butterknife bouncing off the kitchen floor. It's Hanson. It's New Kids on the Block. It's tormenting parents coast to coast. I first was subjected to them when I left my DVD of JUNGLE BOOK in the DVD player and was subjected to them wailing away what was supposed to be "I want to be like you" originally performed in the movie by the legendary Louis Prima. Then they appeared to play 'live' on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. Three boys with a back up band, hair that people spend a great amount of time on to look like they spend no time on their hair, and dressed in clothes no teenage boy would be caught dead in. That's including the ones that lately have been dressing like girls, but that's another rant. I do wonder if they're related to Homer Jonas would did work in Disney's animation department decades ago.

So these safe 'rockers' were in town to cater to their tween fan base, and a merry mob of them had gotten together and met at the church before going to the show. In their rush to worship at the feet of these androgynous, corporate cash-cows; they forgot to clean up after themselves.

And I get the phone call. This being before the diligent church secretary got to play detective and put two and two together.

So the next time I get a single complaint about the state of the floor from anyone I know right where to point them.

That's right, the Jonas Brothers.

Knowing when to shut up.

So, the latest page of Mere Mortal is a splash page with no dialogue nor captions. Real easy for a writer, right? Well, not so much. Silence has weight, and must be considered carefully. In comics and some movie of TV scripts fledgling writers can easily fall into the trap of overwriting.

In prose the line is grayer. You have to fill in all the necessary blanks for the audience. It's still possible to overwrite in prose. No one wants to read five pages about someone walking into a room.

The trick for any script is to realize that there will be visuals to help tell the story. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. You have to be careful how much you add to that. A moment of silence, properly placed and executed, can have just as much effect was the most profound line you could think of.

Never add dialogue just for it's own sake. I love how sometimes in comic books the characters will be spouting these wild monologues while beating the crap out of each other. I've been in enough fights to know that that's just not going to happen. Sure, throwing out some snappy banter is fun and all, but going overboard is really easy.

So be careful of what you write, and remember, sometimes not writing it can have much more impact.

Going to Baltimore

The Baltimore Comic-con is fast approaching. It's looking to be a good time. Why is it looking to be a good time? Because we'll be there, that's why.

That's right, gang. I'll be manning a table in the artist alley with the most hardcore artist in comics, Chris Johnson. 'Why is Chris the most hardcore' you may ask having no knowledge whatsoever of the sheer magnitude of the badassery possessed between the two of us. The man swings a hammer all day long and snatches up the pencils, pens and brushes at night for you people. And when his hand cramps up and he can barely hold a pencil, does he whine and not draw anything leaving the good readers in lurch? NO! He rubs the thing down with Icy Hot and soldiers on to make the deadline.

He of course wouldn't talk about such things in his own blog. He's too bad ass for such trivial matters.

So, get your butts to Baltimore in September. Because Chris Johnson is an artistic bad ass.

Clone Wars Clone

So tomorrow the 'untold story of the Star Wars sage will be revealed'.

Um... they kinda already revealed it. Couple years back. Cartoon Network. Bunch of little five minute minisodes which were peppered in here and there throughout the viewing day. They're on DVD. No really, they are, Chris has it. I watched it. It was pretty cool.

And what's up with the supposedly cute little Jedi wannabe alien girl and the "I want to prove I'm not too young" bit? Wasn't the reason the Jedi counsel wanted to refuse Skywalker back in PHANTOM MENACE was that he was too old?

Do the studios just think that we're not paying attention at all?

The Worrier King

Like the song said, "I'm hiding from the mail man and I hate to hear the telephone ring." Yesterday I checked no e-mails and didn't talk to anyone karate related. I just needed a break before I ended up with an ulcer. That said, I drew some stuff. I read some comics. I ate Chinese food. Despite all of it, the impending problems still are weighing on me.

Yeah, avoiding the problem isn't the smart way to deal with thing, but when the problem keeps changing so that every time you think it's done it comes back at you from a new angle, well sometimes you need a break from the fight. My emotions over this are drained. That sucks because being angry or passionate can give you some extra energy, just as long as you're careful not to let your emotions lead you into a mistake.

I've got a simple choice to make. I know what I've got to do to make this end. My decision will have lasting ramifications, which are unavoidable and will likely end in a angry words and possibly some threats.

Time to answer the phone.

And another day goes by.

Two more phone calls and got a plumber to check out my malfunctioning well pump. Yeah, it's cooked and to replace it will cost $1400.

Praise the Lord and pass the aspirin.


I'm not sure what exactly a migrane headache feeling like, but it's gotta be something like this. There's no peace and harmony in the Nozz compound. There's turmoil in karate. The comics I've been following are no long interesting. Every day it's a new phone call.

Every. Day.

All I want to teach karate, work on my comics and not have an aneurysm due to stress. Here's what really kicks me: I didn't do anything to start any of this. I was a pretty happy camper. Sure there was little stresses, but we've all got those. It seems like I've been put in the middle of other people's drama.

Fortunately, I've made headway on the church situation. Yay for reason.

Still, right now, I wish i had never taken over the dojo. Love my students. Hate the drama. I just want to train and teach my students. I don't think that's too much to ask. No more putting me on lists. No more ultimatums.

Mmmm... DEATH!

It's just not what it used to be when it comes to comics. We used to know what to expect. Marvel had a revolving door instead of pearly gates, while over at DC if someone died they usually had the common decency to stay dead. Well, that's certainly not the case anymore.

Barry Allen has followed Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan and returned from the great beyond. That's right, DC's patron saint, he who sacrificed his life for the universe, is back and will be featured in his own title. This is easily the stupidest thing I've seen DC do.

Here's the thing, death in comics should mean something. Now, villains can return from the dead as much as they want. It goes back to the old gothic notions of unstoppable, undying evil. Heroes for the most part should stay dead. The thing they makes them heroes is their willingness to sacrifice themselves for something greater than them. Death being the ultimate sacrifice. Well, that's not really a big deal anymore. Even in the depiction of the Martian Manhunter's funeral in FINAL CRISIS #2, Superman is speaking of hopes for resurrection.

This is to say nothing of the fact than in the cases of Allen, Jordan and Queen the torch had been successfully passed. Wally West has been the Flash for over twenty years, and now they're bringing back his predecessor? This spits in the face of not only the fans of characters like West, Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke, but the writers who toiled to build these characters into ones with their own followings and solid stories. It's as if the writers and editors at DC are not interested in progress, they want to regress back to when they were kids and watching SUPERFRIENDS on Saturday mornings.

It seems like DC is almost inviting me to leave, and I've actually given though to taking them up on the offer. Guess Dark Horse and the indy comics may be getting a boost in sales if this keeps up.


Spent the majority of the week on the side of a mountain in West Virginia. Otherwise known as Dad's house. The view off his back porch is the kind people pay a lot of money to rent places to get to see for a weekend.

Discussed karate. Practiced a little.

Watched So You Think You Can Dance. Accurately predicted the winner after watching the four finalists give remarkable performances.

Wrote and drew absolutely nothing. Now I'm feeling stir crazy. Back to work.

The Uphill Battle

Round one to me in my fight to save the church. Yeah, I know those of you who've been reading a bit saw my "Marty versus the church" bit, but read it close. My true intention is to save it. It's in trouble, but it's salvageable. So why is this a fight? Like I've previously said, the church got to where the contents of the wallet was more important than the contents of the soul. That's no good. Fortunately the new pastor looks like she's aiming to get back to what's important.

Money is necessary, however when money becomes more important than fellowship then you're destined to fail.

Unfortunately the people there don't know what it takes to build that fellowship back up, and tragically some don't know the value of fellowship. That's what made the church great once. Unfortunately it was lost with the changing of the pastor that was at the heart of the growth years ago.

So I went into the meeting today pushing the plan to hold events that could potentially boost fellowship and result in bringing new members to the church. I met resistance with the attack on the karate program. I was prepared and able to handle all their questions.

It seemed like some people had been saving complaints to try to bombard me into submission. That failed miserably.

They wanted to make it about the karate club, I set out in making it about the church. Was it a 100% success? No, but I wasn't expecting that. What I have done is stated my intentions: to help the church. My intentions are being doubted, but that's fine. I have half the people at the meeting today agreeing with my plan, one of which is the pastor. One's on the fence. One will go along with it as long as I look out for his interest which is the physical maintaining of the church. I'm cool with that. The last person there thinks I'm full of shit.

I still face an uphill battle. I've talked the talk, now it's time to walk the walk. I'm having to work to keep these ideas in the foreground and continue to push until something happens. Fortunately I have plenty of support, which is valued and much appreciated. I need to make something happen and fast. Every month that goes by without something done just adds to the problem.

It's a simple plan, and common sense really. Be active and people will come. Have fun and invite others to join you. Bring in more people to make the church alive again and financial burdens will ease. Be smart. Be creative. You don't have to spend a ton of money to attract people. You don't have to break your back to show people a good time.

It's still an uphill battle and will require effort to get off the ground. Uphill battles are good. They test our resolve. They show what your made of. Gaining ground takes a lot of heart, and people respond to that.

I don't want to be a leader. I don't want praise. I want the church to thrive and be the type of place I grew up in. A place of love, fellowship and laughter. A place that I looked forward to going to instead of feeling obligated.

Often the toughest fights don't involve anyone throwing a punch.

What else should I ask for?

So, yeah I've been reading a lot of Kid Sis's blog and sure enough she reviews the new X-FILES flick which confirms rumors that I've been hearing about it being craptastic. So, I'm bummed out not just because I used to really dig the TV show but because it's got Billy Connolly in it and I'm always "Yay! It's Billy the man Connolly!"

Of course people usually say, "Who?" And I'm like, "You know, the guy who was the teacher on HEAD OF THE CLASS after Doctor Johnny Fever left!"

Yeah, so the new movie sucks and I was needing my Billy Connolly fix and I'm trying to figure out when I'm going to have time to pop in my BOONDOCK SAINTS DVD, when sure enough A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS comes on ABC.

Billy Connolly with a big ol Albino python.

The Media Gods have once again smiled upon their loyal servant, which was a pretty spiffy trick considering I don't have cable. I wonder if I can get them to show MONSTER SQUAD on the Sunday night movie. Let a whole new generation know that wolfman has nards.

Boogie woogie

I'm a huge fan of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance and I'm man enough to admit it. I'm a fan of movement. Dance, martial arts, gymnastics, all of it. That's probably a lot of the reason I can't stand when fight scenes in movies are done with CGI. Let's see some stuntmen do their thing dammit!

Anyways, Dance's season finale is next week and the final four will be going to it. I'm very happy since the three dancers I had been voting for have made it. Those being Katee, Twitch and Joshua. That's not to say that the others haven't been great, but those three are always a joy to watch.

Katee is absolutely amazing to watch. She adapts to whatever is thrown her way. It's amazing that she almost didn't make the cut to be on the show. Every performance she's been a part of has been incredible.

Twitch is a pure entertainer. Great dancer but but just lots of fun to watch.

Joshua is my pick to win the whole thing. He caught my eye in the try outs. He's built like a super hero and can really move for a guy that size. Always very humble like he's expecting to get cut at any moment, yet he's never been in danger of being eliminated.

So, I'm really looking forward to next week, and I'll have my phone ready to do some voting.

The good uncle.

My nephew has recently gotten into Pokémon cards. Birthday coming up. I went through well over 200 individual cards to hunt down the one he wanted over at Comic Kings. They let me just have the damned thing for all the looking I went through, which was nice even though it's probably worth less than the amount of change in my pocket.

Ah well. I could use the good karma.