D.J. sneak attack at LONG BEACH COMIC EXPO on Saturday!

I couldn’t get a table, so I sneaking in thanks to the Eat/Geek/Play‘s Kevin Knight, who I appreciate so much I make sure to spell his name correctly!

LBCC_post_RIPOFF(Pic above ripped off of Tom Pinchuk‘s design. He told me it was okay.)

I’ll be at their table from 10am to 12pm selling and signing copies of AMELIA COLE AND THE HIDDEN WAR and NEVER ENDING — plus I have a few AMELIA COLE T-Shirts left in stock!

Then at 4 it’s off to their epic “Geeks Against Humanity” game! Should be something!

 

AMELIA COLE AND THE HIDDEN WAR signings!

On Wednesday, May 7th, the second volume of AMELIA COLE is released in print from IDW Publishing. AMELIA COLE AND THE HIDDEN WAR collects issues 7 through 12 of AMELIA COLE, plus loads of extras, including some exclusive one-page comics, pinups, a sketchbook, and more!

To celebrate, I’ll be signing the book at Golden Apple Comics from 6pm to 9pm!

AC2 GA DJ FB SigningAnd on Wed May 14th, I’ll be signing at The Comic Bug from 11am to 2pm and again from 5pm to 8pm!

AC2 FB Comic Bug Signings RevPlease stop by to one of ‘em — or both if you need an extra AMELIA COLE fix!

My WONDERCON 2014 Schedule!

WonderCon2014smHere’s my WonderCon Anaheim schedule for this weekend:

Friday April 18
5:30 pm to 6:30 pm – IDW Publishing: Hidden Treasures
Join IDW’s VP of Marketing, Dirk Wood and a virtual cavalcade of some of today’s most exciting creators, as they discuss some of IDW’s more interesting programs and undiscovered gems. Room 213

Saturday April 19
1:00pm to 2:00pmAMELIA COLE AND THE UNKNOWN world signing at the IDW booth.
4:00 pm to 5:00 pmNEVER ENDING signing with Robert Love at the Dark Horse booth.

All other times April 18 – 20…
Table AA-025 with Robert Love and some great comics!

Luck From Above

It’d been at least six months since my last haircut. For me, this means a Gene Wilder-esque mess of tangled madness floating around my head, barely attached, with the number of gray and white hairs increasing each second, constantly closer to overtaking the brown ones I’m really going to miss. It was time for a cut.

My new-ish apartment is in-between two barber shops in the same chain, about two miles away from each. Normally I’d drive, but my roommate insisted it was a fine walk. While I’d been conditioning myself to spend days at a time indoors, hunched over a computer, internetting my life away, movement is something my body probably needs way more of than I’m willing to give it on a regular basis. Taking this into account, I slathered sun block on all exposed parts of my body and headed out into the world, going the healthy route, despite my fear of sunlight and sweating.

A walk through my neighborhood is a celebration of smells and sounds one normally would not celebrate. So far, my experience is that it’s not a particularly bad neighborhood, but the frequent sirens singing and low flying helicopters dancing, paint a different story. It’s got, uh, character.

That character was even more apparent on the hot summer day walk to get the crazy madness atop my head shorn. Aside from fear of sweating in all the places I really dislike sweating (meaning all the places), it was fine. I’d decided I’d made the correct decision to walk instead of drive when I was upon a street lamp at the corner.

And I felt the air rush past my face, something hitting my messy nest of hair right before sounds of thunder plops exploding about me.

I cursed everything that is curseable and debated running my hands through my mop top. But I didn’t… because I was fairly certain there was bird shit in it. I tried to enjoy the great outdoors, and that quest for joy had been shat upon by nature.

My leisurely stroll became a speed walk. The only fortunate thing was that my destination was a barbershop/salon kinda place. They charged extra for shampooing… I wondered if there was a bird poo charge on top of that.

Now the sweat was really pouring off of me… my unkempt hair all a-crazy, likely now housing the white poop of our fine-feathered fiends from above. Clean, flip-flop and fanny pack wearing tourist gave me the same look I gave that very serene-looking guy I saw walking and peeing down the sidewalk near my neighborhood one time. I was one of those characters who give my neighborhood character.

When I reached the barbershop, there was a wait. Covered in sweat and my version of self-actualization, I went to the men’s room to inspect my hair. While it was a mess, I found no bird poop. Perhaps… I’d just felt the air of it whizzing by? Well, that was a relief.

I was called to a chair, and the hair cutter was a very relaxed, nice lady who loved dancing, talking about how she loved dancing, and who also seemed to have no problem with bird shit. She said it was lucky, but also confirmed there was none on my hair.

As I was sitting, the apron over me, I rested my hand on my leg… and found where the bird shit had hit me. For the first time in my lifetime of getting my hair cut, I asked for a moment to go to the bathroom to wash bird poop off my jeans. She, again, was fine with it, saying she thought it was cool stitching on my jeans when she saw me sitting down. Nope. Poop. From a bird. Bird poop.

When I returned, large wet spot on my pants leg where the dropping had been, hands washed and re-washed at least three times, she kept on chit chatting like it was no big deal. It even turned out she was from the same county of Ohio as I was, which is a wacky coincidence to cap off my wacky non-adventure.

As I left, she reassured me that being pooped upon by a bird is good luck. For me personally, the jury is still out on that one.

Not A MAN OF STEEL Review

WARNING: The following contains MAN OF STEEL spoilers, as well as way too much personal information about me…

I’ve seen MAN OF STEEL twice in two days and have been trying to write a review of it since the first viewing. No one asked me to review it, but I love the character and have very, very strong feelings about the way this movie represents him. Over 2,000 words into my first review, I realized it’d just gone off the rails. I started again and ended up at almost 4,000 words. It was a rambling summary with my own interjections and opinions here and there. I’m not a movie reviewer, really, though I used to do it all the time. I started wondering if I’d lost it or something, but it might be that I just can’t review this movie. I’m too close to Superman. Granted, a lot of people love the character as much or more than me and were able to write reviews (wise and talented people such as Mark Waid and Adam P. Knave). I know what they did and should be capable of doing that… yet I have finally accepted that can’t. Whatever I start typing just ends up being a summary with some pointless observations thrown in. My nearly 6,000 words of attempted review fall flat and are, for the most part, oddly impersonal.

This is bizarre, because my love of the character of Superman is very personal. My first memories are of Christopher Reeve as the character and of myself running around in Superman Underoos with an “S” spit curl my mom had to help me get right. I’ve always loved Superman for as long as I can remember, and he’s just as important to me now as he’s ever been. I feel like I need him. I need someone, even a fictional character, who I believe not only knows what the right thing to do is, but has the power to do it. As a kid, he felt like my personal hero.

SuperDJ

I was raised Christian, but, for some reason, this comic book character in blue tights and a red cape made me feel a security I never got from Sunday school. There’s always talk of Superman being interpreted as a Christ-like figure, despite being created partly as a Moses allegory by couple of Jewish kids named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The character, over the years, has been reinterpreted as almost a reaction to questions of why God doesn’t just step in and help us out. It’s oversimplified, and the character is primarily for entertainment, but he really meant a lot to me growing up. I feel like we’re born with our own senses of morality, of right and wrong, and that we shouldn’t need to be told to help people instead of hurt them… but it helps to have some good examples.

And Superman using all his amazing powers to help regular people like me meant so much to a young child who always felt kind of frightened and a little overwhelmed by life and everything I was taught about what comes after — both the good and the bad. I knew he wasn’t real, but knowing that a character like that could exist meant so much, and it still does.

I realize that fictional characters; especially ones that have been around as long as Superman and are owned by corporations instead of the creators are open to interpretation. Changes in the mythology don’t bother me, and, in fact, MAN OF STEEL makes some good ones. The world and history of Krypton is expanded in ways that make for very fun cinema. The central relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent is fundamentally changed in a very smart way. Most of it, frankly, delights me. There is a lot of good in this movie I can’t seem to legitimately review.

man_of_steel_ver8

There are great performances, starting with a perfectly cast Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent (pointedly not named Superman in the credits or, of course, in the movie’s title). Everyone is committed to his or her roles, in front of and behind the camera. The design and feel of the movie is appropriately epic and, while not as light on its feet and fun as many of the best Superman stories, still earnest and full of the humanity and caring.

It is, for the majority of its running time, a very well done and well thought-out version of this character I love. For the first two-thirds it’s the best I could’ve hoped for from a blockbuster movie in this day and age. Superman is finally a modern feeling character, and the movie is filled with interesting actors and big ideas. My heart didn’t swell as I’d expected it to, and I didn’t get as misty eyed or teary as I’d feared I would watching a movie with my friends, but it felt good and right.

Then it takes a turn from which it cannot recover. Lots of people are talking about it, and for good reason. The amount of wanton destruction in violence in this movie, even though it’s digital and bloodless, is out of control. It goes from being exciting and gripping in the Smallville battle to just over-the-top in the worst ways in the destruction of Metropolis, first from Kryptonian ships, and then from a brutal one-on-one fight between Superman and General Zod. And all the while, this version of Superman is more concerned with using his fists than he is with saving the lives of all the superpowerless humans caught in the excruciating disaster porn insanity.

Everyone wanted more action in this than the last time the character was on the big screen in SUPERMAN RETURNS. The demand for Superman to use his power in a more visceral way via big punches in fights was heard by the filmmakers, and they overcompensated. What happens in this movie is just insane and ultimately numbing. Near the end, everyone I talked to agreed that the fight just went on for too long. There was too much destruction. CG allows filmmakers to do almost anything they can imagine with a budget like MAN OF STEEL has, but sometimes more isn’t better, it’s just more.

man-of-steel-box-office-02

The ultimate solution to this battle is a moment I still feel traumatized by, as silly as that might seem to people who don’t cling to this type of fiction the way I always have and probably always will. My hero since childhood, a character that, to me, stands for everything I aspire and usually fail to be, snaps the villain’s neck.

Yes, the filmmakers put him in what they thought was an impossible position. He had to do it to save people directly in front of him (never mind all the forgotten about and ignored thousands who had to have died in the type of fight that just took place in a huge city). They showed him struggle and plead with Zod. In the end they tried to show that, though he had no choice, he felt horrible about it, crying into Lois’s arms.

It’s a horrifically out of character moment. The fact that most folks I talked to after watching the movie weren’t that bothered by it shows that the Superman I love just isn’t the character he now is to the audience at large. That was a goofy, boring throwback to many of them. This version is what’s more palatable now. This character who is a good man, but not as good as the Superman I pretended to be when I was a little boy. That Superman would’ve found a way to do what’s right, to save the day, without resorting to murder. And that’s what it is, no matter how poignant the end of the scene, no matter how justified the filmmakers try to make it. They made the ultimate superhero, the ultimate symbol of hope and justice, a killer.

And that’s not what I want from my hero. All the good the movie does, and there is so much good in it, is ultimately negated to me by the ridiculous violent climax and disturbing resolution. The final scene, introducing glasses-wearing Clark Kent most of us remember, with the smart twist that intrepid reporter Lois Lane isn’t fooled by glasses but still plays along is stylishly directed, entertainingly written, and wonderfully acted. But it doesn’t wash away the bitter taste left over by the scenes of brutality that are just out-of-place in a Superman movie — at least the type I want to see.

It breaks my heart that this movie is, to my mind, inappropriate for someone the same age as I was when I fell in love with Superman via movies. I’m not suggesting that Superman stories have to be for little kids; they absolutely don’t. They can be sophisticated and thought-provoking and harrowing and exciting — and still be all-ages. All-ages doesn’t mean for kids. It means for everyone, regardless of age. That’s what Superman should be, and that’s where this movie ultimately fails.

The fact that murder, no matter how justified in the moment as scripted, makes a hero more modern and relatable is troubling. The “S” stands for hope, but, in the end, this new movie version of Superman does not.