Why I Hate Batman 1: The Saboteur

People assume that because you love comics, you love certain comics characters. I always found that a bit strange. After all, if you tell me you love movies, I’m not going to automatically assume you love Luke Skywalker and E.T. But I get it all the time…

“Whattaya like? Spider-Man? X-Men? Superman?”

Usually the answer is “if the story’s good, I like the story”.  I sidestep the question, rather than insult the questioner.

But if you go “Batman?”…well, hell no. I do not like Batman.

I’ve liked Batman comics, mind you. I’ve liked some of the movies. I’m sure there’s an action figure I like. The first animated series is on? Heck, I’ll watch. Got some bootleg Adam West action? Yes, please.

But Batman seems to intersect in my life in weird ways that just irk the heck out of me. It’s a strange anti-synchronicity that just lingers like an infection. When Batman- not the fictional character, but the concept, the business entity, the corporation (not to be confused with Grant Morrison’s new Batman Inc. comic- intersects with the real world, bad things happen.

Case in pont: The Saboteur, a video game I’m in love with right now.

The Saboteur is a sandbox game for the Playstation 3 and XBox 360. The game is set in Paris during the Nazi occupancy in World War II. You play Sean Devlin, an Irish race car driver who seeks revenge on a high-ranking Nazi for killing his friend. You can climb Parisian rooftops, blowing up sniper nests, propoganda speakers, and anti-aircraft installations. You can race in the countryside, or try to outrun German motorbikes in the street. You can even take in a sexy burlesque show (if you have the downloadable content, which came free in my copy of the game).

Unlike other sandbox games I’ve played, the optional missions actually play a part in the overall game. You get contraband for your accomplishments, which you use for weapons, ammunition, explosive, and other perks. And while you’re playing, jazz vocal music from such luminaries as Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald wafts through the air. The art in the game is gorgeous, and the color palette actually changes depending on whether or not you’ve freed an area from Nazi rule. It’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.

It’s also the last game released from its developer, Pandemic Studios. And this is why I hate Batman today.

According to numerous reports (including this Kotaku story), the parent company of Pandemic, EA, secured the rights to a tie-in game to the Batman: The Dark Knight movie. However, the rights would expire in eighteen months. Miscommunication led to a forced revamp of the project a few months in, and despite a scramble to finish on-time, a sellable game was never completed.  As a result, the company was eventually closed by EA during a round of cost-cutting.

So, because of Batman, I’ll never get to play The Saboteur 2. And that’s a damn shame.

Damn Batman.

Today’s links:

Bill Sienkiewicz breaks the silence about Big Numbers #3. Fantastic scoop by Pádraig Ó Méalóid.

Colleen Doran talks about the success of the Distant Soil webcomic. You ARE reading A Distant Soil, aren’t you?

Heidi McDonald talks about her struggles with the technology that powers one of the best blogs about comics today, The Beat.

Wired Magazine got every prediction right about 2010. At least they THINK they did…

Dueling Analogs perfectly sums up my feelings about most videogames. (But not The Saboteur, because that’s just awesome.)

Don’t be down about 2011, says Charles Stross.

Tom Spurgeon interviews the curator of the Comic Art Museum, Andrew Farago.

Finally, an interesting look at sales of Jamie Hernandez original art.

The end of media stores, and the death of the Craphound culture

On the way home from Sunday shopping, I noticed a big “STORE CLOSING” sign on the Coconuts music and movies store in Toms River. I wasn’t surprised by its impending doom; I haven’t set foot in any of their stores in years. In fact, I wondered why it had stayed afloat for so long.

Clearly, according to the stock price of the parent company, Trans World Entertainment, I’m not the only one. When a company sells for less than $2 a share, the thought is that it’s close to bankruptcy. A quick look at a few press releases shows a number of money-losing quarters, and you can’t stay in business long if you don’t make money. Since TWM had already filed bankruptcy once (in 1996), you have to wonder if this company will live to see the end of 2011.

If it is a doomed company, it’s not the only media dealer in trouble. According to a Publishers Weekly story last week, the book retailer Borders has stopped making payments to certain publishers, and one unnamed major publisher won’t ship more books until the payments resume. Borders is now trading even lower than TWE, and many analysts feel the end is near.

Truthfully, my heart doesn’t bleed for TWE or Borders. When I worked in Manhattan a few years ago, I had so many bad experiences at the Borders at Penn Station that I vowed to stop shopping there. But my heart does bleed for my old college haunt, Rainbow Records. I spent what feels like whole semesters rooting through used CDs at their location on Main Street. Now, the store has cut hours, and will give up half its retail space in the next few months.

Is any of this a surprise? Of course not. We buy MP3s indtead of CDs, and we buy them from a handful of online stores (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic) for the most part. Amazon controls over 75% of the book market, and even that is rapidly becoming an ebooks market. Blockbuster’s nearly gone, and its successor, Netflix, is rapidly becoming a streaming company instead of a distribution company for DVDs and Blu-Rays. Video game sales are dominated by a handful of big companies, led by Gamestop, and even that business is moving online. Even comic books are going digital; Marvel and DC both have iPad stores, and the independent Comixology application has moved over a million digital comics.

We no longer have a crying need for physical media in our life. I’m not complaining about this- I love my iPod, my Kindle, and my networked PS3 like any red-blooded American male. But I do miss what Cory Doctorow wrote about in his short story, “Craphound“- the hunt through back issue boxes, used CD stacks, piles of books in the back of the store, garage sales, and later eBay listings. I spent a lot of my 20s this way- traveling to flea markets for old Atari cartridges, bent over quarter boxes in dusty comics stores, or driving around going to that *one* store 100 miles away with a copy of some desired story or song.

I got exposed to a lot of neat stuff through those hunts- Matt Feazell comics, Los Bros Hernandez, Peter Bagge, funk music, and so much more. I once scored from a dealer in South Jersey three boxes of indy 80s comics for $10 per long box, and ended up with mostly full runs of Nexus, Grimjack, and other First and Eclipse comics; from another dealer, I got the entire fun of Marvel’s New Universe, which had its moments in its later years. Through record store cutout bins, I was exposed to Joe Jackson, one of my favorite musicians to this day.

I won’t complain about the modern world. I love deliveries from Amazon. I get my comics from a mail order company, DCBS, at fabulous discounts. I get great customer service from these companies and others. But I do miss the thrill of the chase for the obscure, the surge of happiness when you found that comic, that CD, that old book… but alas, the thrill is gone.

Today’s links:

Johanna Draper Carlson goes through the dross of January’s Previews catalog to find the graphic novel gems.

Saccharin’s mostly sweet following- a great article in the LA Times about the primary sweetener in Sweet and Low.  (I also highly recommend Sweet and Low: A Family History by Rich Cohen.

New Adventures: oh god i’m forty

How the hell did THIS happen? You wake up in the morning every day long enough, and eventually, you’re 40. Granted, the alternative is worse, but still! What did I do to be punished like this?

I don’t feel forty. I’m still the same guy with a desk of Marvel Super Hero Squad action figures, still wearing goofy t-shirts every chance I get. But there’s no denying it- I’m biologically starting my fourth decade of existence.

It’s also the start of 2011, and while I usually don’t make resolutions, I think there’s two I need to do.

I’m going back to blogging.

I’ve let this blog lapse- and I’ve done it many times before. I’m like most non-writers: I have ideas, man!!!, but not enough self-discipline to pull it off. Well, the only way I know to build self-discipline is to do the same thing over and over again. So that’s what I’m going to do- log in to the blog, write something, and do it again every day until I can’t imagine a day without blogging.

I’m going to the gym.

Notice how there’s few photos of me on the site? Here’s why- I’m fat.

Now, I am less fat this year than I was last year. Thanks to my wife, I joined Weight Watchers. I’ve been posting about my WW progress on Facebook every week, and I’m going to do the same here. I started in the beginning of September at (ugh) 316 pounds. I’m down to 285 pounds, down 31 pounds. My eventual goal is to get back to my high school weight of around 175-185 pounds.

Now, 30 pounds in four months sounds really good, but there’s a catch- I’ve plateaued. I weighed 286 on December 4, and 285 on December 31. Despite staying within my diet, I didn’t lose any weight. I’m making some changes in my diet again to get back to where I was before, but I’m also going to get serious about working out again.

This isn’t going to be easy. Because of some problems in my back, I’ve always had problems with creating a workout routine for myself. I’m clueless about the gym. I can use the treadmill for a half-hour, but other than that, I’m really outside my comfort zone. So I’m going to get some personal training at my gym, and also take some time to educate myself on a beginner’s workout routine.

And maybe if I do this long enough, I’ll feel good about posting pictures of myself. (Naaah…)

Stuff I liked on the web today:

"Who said anything about coming back?"

Halo Jones


A Moment Of Moore
: A daily blog about Alan Moore. Looks like a daily image dump of random Alan Moore panels, but what’s wrong with that?

Bleeding Cool- Visual of the Year: A nice look at some of the more famous (and infamous) images in comics from the past year.

NJ Woman Charged With Setting Her Boyfriend On Fire On New Year’s Eve: Ah, New Jersey, my home sweet home.

Initial Impressions of Wizard World Philadelphia

1. Hey- the Convention Center has free wifi! Thanks, Philly Convention Center!

2. I made my feelings on the lack of comics publishers known in the last post. There’s no Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, Boom!, IDW…no one. The biggest publishers here are Zenescope and Avatar.

3. There are a LOT of heavy people here. Wow. A bariatric surgeon could make a killing here. (Note- I’m also fat.)

4. Booth babes are back! At least one “artist” in Artist Alley has scantily clad women in an effort to hawk wares (I have no idea what for). And the Suicide Girls are here.

5. Big front-and-center booth? It’s for a phone.

6. LOTS of costumes here. All varied, too. Everyone’s getting into the game.

7. Lots of women here, too. Most varied crowd I’ve seen, and a lot of families, too.

8. Much bigger crowd than yesterday. Long lines for the advance sales, near-empty lines for one-day sales. Lots of anger over the wait for those in the advance lines crowd.

9. Wizard’s business strategy is now readily apparent. “Here’s some B-level sci-fi celebs from TV from 20 years ago. Here’s some wrestlers. Over there is an artist’s alley. We put some tables in the back. Have fun. Walk around. Eat some overpriced pizza. That’s all you’re getting. Now pay up.” But it’s working for them, at least today. You’ll get to see Stormtroopers and Jedi and nubile babes and t-shirts and action figures and wrestlers.

Will you get to see the best of what’s in comics now? No. Not even close. But a big portion of this crowd doesn’t seem to care. They’re happy as is.

Maybe Wizard’s smarter than we thought. We’ll see.

Final Crisis: Wizard World Philadelphia

Each year, my buddy Glenn gets all of us Comic Widows staff into Wizard World Philly. The WW organization has been kind enough to extend us press passes every year, and this year was no exception (thanks, Jerry!). I’ll be in Philly this Saturday and Sunday.

I’d like to tell you I’m looking forward to it. But I’m not sure I’d be lying.

I remember the first Wizard World convention very well. It was a happening, a big comics convention in a region starved by years without big cons. Philly is a big comics town, but after the bust of the comics market in the mid-90s, there were hardly any comics conventions anywhere other than San Diego and Chicago. That first year, Marvel and DC showed up. Marvel didn’t have much of a booth presence, but all the big names from Marvel were there. I met Bill Jemas there, and he was explaining to his staff the intricacies of some Marvel collectible card game. He was so excited over this that I could see why there was so much buzz over what was then known as NuMarvel.

There was a ton of energy at that show. Lots of young, hungry creators going to the Wizard World classes and trying to break out. Artist Alley was packed. There were a lot of dealers and comic publishers. The show was a huge hit, and I believe the success of that show was one of the early indicators of the big comics boom of the last decade. Had that show flopped, maybe we never would have gotten the now-titanic New York Comic Con and all of the other cons that seem to run every week during the summer.

But Wizard World hasn’t continued to have the same type of success over the past decade. Its flagship publication, Wizard, has suffered a big dropoff in circulation (in fact, last month, it fell behind sister publication Toyfare in sales). The convention side of the business has made some dumb moves, trying to buy up as many other conventions as it can while not focusing on the core successes of the existing conventions. In particular, its handling of the Philly con has been nothing short of disastrous.

A few years ago, Wizard World tried to muscle out a competing convention, Charlotte’s Heroes Con, by running Philly on the same weekend. WW figured that most of the comics community would attend the Philly show, but the exact opposite happened. Heroes Con has long maintained an excellent reputation with comics creators and publishers, and most of them chose to stay loyal to Heroes Con while abandoning Philly. Last year, most of the big names chose to appear at Charlotte instead of Philadelphia. It seemed that only talent local to PA, NY, and NJ stayed at Philly, while the rest of the comics universe went to Charlotte.

Even though Philly now runs the weekend after Charlotte, the damage seems to have been done. For the first time in show history, there is no official Marvel or DC presence at Philly. In fact, the biggest comics company exhibiting at Philly might be the comics retailer Mile High Comics. The biggest publisher might be the relatively small Avatar Press (although they publish book by big-name writers Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis). The panel programming reflects this change; instead of big displays by comics publishers, the panels are now largely interviews with B-level sci-fi TV stars. I have nothing against actors like Bruce Campbell and Patrick Stewart, but when they are the biggest stars at a comics show, you have to wonder if the show has lost its aim. There are a few comics-focused panels, with well-known artists such as J. G. Jones and Ethan Van Sciver giving instructional talks, but these were always a smaller part of the comics programming. Now, they make up just about all of the comics programming.

Last year, there were many whispers on the con floor that attendance was down, and that Philly might not even have a show this year. Well, there will be a Philly show, but it really won’t be a comics show, not like it was in years past. It’s a shame, because Philly really is a great comics town. I’m hoping that this is a great show, and that we won’t see a repeat of the comic con drought of the 90s. But if this is the sort of show we’re going to get, I worry that the situation will only get worse.

My review of Iron Man 2

Any person who doesn’t like this movie is a communist and a fraud.

That is all.

Oh God, it’s the Internet again!

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Around the Internet

Boy, this is fun!

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Today’s Internet in Five Minutes

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Two Articles For The Weekend

From Ty Templeton: The Top Seven Comics Creators who can KICK YOUR ASS

From Paste Magazine: Ten May Albums Worth Checking Out (I’m really looking forward to the new Hold Steady and LCD Soundsystem releases!)

The Insomnia Chronicles

I occasionally suffer from insomnia, and lately I’ve been bit by the sleepless bug hard. Since I work from home, I’ll usually take an hour nap after work (around 6 PM). It probably doesn’t make anything better, but it feels good at the time, so that’s how it goes. As a result, even if I go to bed around 11 AM, body and mind primed for sleep by my good friend Rozerem, I’m up around 3-4 AM. Rather than toss and turn and keep my wife up, I’ll come out to the home office/living room and stay up.

What am I into at 5:16 AM?

1. Facebook games. I’ve never been infected by the Farmville virus (you’re welcome), but I have a few of those mindless click-and-collect games that I like. I purposely limit them to five so I don’t go overboard- Backstage’s Slots, Scratch And Win, Bingo Explosion, and Pull Tabs, along with another game called Egg Breakers.

2. The BS Report. If there’s a better podcast out there…well, let me know in the comments. ESPN’s Bill Simmons is running a salon for writers, sports figures, and comedians. Don’t get distracted by the constant Boston sports teams cheerleading; listen for the deep interviews with Patton Oswalt, Chuck Closterman, football writer Mike Lombardi (who’s always fascinating), and his friends Jacko and Cousin Sal. This podcast is the reason I’m working with my Comic Widows friend Glenn Walker on a podcast of our own, GAR!.

3. Wrestling DVDs. My brain isn’t really up to a movie at this time of the morning, but wrestling’s perfect. Amazon had a huge sale on wrestling DVDs last month, so I have a shelf full of WWF(E?) DVDs for the perusing. You can literally hear your heart break as you watch Eddie Guerrero set the world on fire and beat his inner demons, only to end up dead in a hotel room at 38. And you can learn a lot about avoiding your own hubris by listening to a “shoot” DVD with Vincent Russo, the former writer of the WWF’s Attitude era who ended up courtside at the destruction of the last major competition to the WWF, WCW.

4. Books. I’ve got a stack to read here. Rudy Rucker, John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, a bunch of graphic novels, Michael Lewis’s latest…the stack is higher than my lamp.

5. The Beatles’ White Album. I can’t get Cry Baby Cry out of my head. Note- I will NOT listen to Revolution No. 9 in the middle of the night.

6. My cats, Koko and Dewey. When I come out from the bedroom, Koko’s usually in my chair. He’s not a lapcat (though he’s very friendly in his own way), so he’ll eventually scatter, but he’ll accept some petting before he goes. Sometimes, Dewey, who’s blind but very friendly, will either be in the recliner next to my desk, or over on the couch next to that. He makes the sweetest purrs.

7. My Nintendo DS. I don’t like to power up the TV and PS2 at this time of the morning, but my old Nintendo DS (it’s a first-generation system, pre-DS Lite) is perfect. Quick to boot, quiet…I’m playing a lot of Retro Game Challenge and Space Invaders Extreme lately.

8. Work. There’s no better time to work than in the few hours before work actually starts. If I clear the decks of routine reports before the day begins, I’m better equipped to handle the minor crises that will pop up during the day.

Look- it’s a sleeping cat!

Isn't he cute?

This is Dewey, my blind but wonderful cat. He’s actually snoring.

For me, this is a weird post. I’m not typing this on my PC, but rather on my new Samsung Moment Android phone. My wife’s phone died, so we upgraded both our phones to this model. She’s (rightfully) suspicious of having her data wedded to the Google monstrosity. But I’m in love with the features on this little gadget.

I’d take a photo of our snowshoe Siamese cat, Koko, but I doubt he’ll let me…

*FOLLOWUP*: I was able to type the post completely on the phone, and I took the photo on the phone. I was able to upload the post to my blog, but the photo wouldn’t go. As it turned out, the path for my uploads directory wasn’t properly defined. All is well now. Time for bed.

We’re All Doomed: The Real Lesson of Bubble Boy

I found out about “Bubble Boy”, the Colorado boy who had supposedly snuck into a weather balloon built by his family and was stuck inside as it went skyward, probably the same way as you: Twitter. I looked frantically for a live feed, found one, and watched as this helium balloon slowly started to shrink and collapse to the ground. At one point during the newscast, however, there was a moment to show just how far TV news has fallen.

The local anchors were interrupted by a medical doctor, who pointed out that if there wasn’t some compartment for oxygen in this balloon,the boy was probably dead from asphyxiation. One of the talking heads stopped and said, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that.” That’s when I realized that no one had asked the family what was inside the balloon. Was that small compartment at the bottom of the balloon supposed to hold a child? Were we fooled by the helicopter camera into thinking that the bottom compartment would have even fit a child?

And go further. Would a weather balloon, even built with a compartment for a human to ride along, fly as high and as far as it did with a passenger? It’s been 20 years since I’ve been in a physics classroom, but I would think that a balloon capable of carrying, say, a 40-50 pound boy would have to be bigger than the apparent size of the balloon. Go a step further- since no family would build a balloon to only carry a child (except for, say, the Addams family), the design would have to consider at least one adult passenger. Think of the size of a hot air balloon, which can hold a few people. Wouldn’t a weather balloon designed for human flight have to compare in size to a hot air balloon?

I wish I had thought of this while the drama played out. But I didn’t;  like you, I was swept away with the amazing visual of this balloon flying in the sky with a little boy inside.

No one asked questions, and we all got surprised when the boy wasn’t in the balloon, but rather in the attic. So heart-warming. What a happy ending.

But we got suckered. And no one asked the right questions.

The next time you wonder how we ended up in the Iraq war, or how New Jersey has the highest tax rate in the land and a corrupted state government, just remember the time you spent staring at the Bubble Boy that wasn’t, and ask yourself, “Why didn’t we ask questions?”

——

Side note: I’m still working on my Baltimore Comic-Con wrap-up. In the meantime, my friend Glenn Walker posted his take on the day.

Never make fun of Christopher Reeve

Amazon had the box set of Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies on sale over the weekend, so I bought the set. However, when the set came, the cases were heavily damaged. While describing this to my wife, I said, “They look like they were on the back of his horse.”

Cue tasteless laugh track.

Today, the replacement set came. But while processing the mail, I tripped and fell. My head ended up in the aluminum can recycling error, I did something painful to my big toe, and I wrenched my neck.

Truly, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Christopher, I’m sorry! I apologize!

Baltimore Comic-Con Wrap-Up Tomorrow

I’ll be wrapping up my impressions of Day 2 tomorrow. Today’s been a rough day; my beloved had massive car problems today, and I need to resolve some issues with that tonight. The very short version is that Baltimore remains my favorite con I’ve ever attended, and I’ll have some more to talk about that in the wrap-up tomorrow.

Also, I want to thank Heidi McDonald of The Beat for the linkage to my first day report. Nothing brightens your day more than having your favorite comics journalist take note of what you wrote. I had a smile on my face all day Sunday.

Baltimore Comic-Con, day 1

I’m typing this from a hotel room in downtown Baltimore. This might be the nicest hotel I’ve ever been in. The beds are gorgeous, we have a view of the city that’s pretty nice, Wanda Sykes is on HBO, and the hotel is as posh as it gets. My friend Glenn scored it (two beds, you filthy perverts), and we’re both typing up our convention reports before crashing and getting ready for round two of the Baltimore Comic-Con tomorrow. (That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. Any rumors of dead hookers and bags of blow in our rental car are completely unsubstantiated. That was Chris Claremont.)

Our adventure started with a drive in our snazzy rental car down I-95 to Baltimore. Unfortunately, modern technology let us down, as our GPS (fuck you, Tom Tom) decided that we needed a tour of non-Inner Harbor Baltimore. Our GPS was sadistic; at one point, the directions just read “Turn left at HA HA HA YOU DUMB FUCKERS.” I’m not saying we were lost, but at one point, we saw Omar.

I’ve been to two conventions this year- this and Wizard World Philly. There’s no doubt that this was the better convention. WW Philly has gone from a great show to a terrible one over the years, a victim of the declining Wizard company. There’s only so many people you can lay off at a company before rot sets in, and WW Philly this year was a show that was hollow at its core. Most of the comics industry’s A-List decided to go to Charlotte’s Heroes con instead of Philly, so the only people left were those that lived in the Northeast that just couldn’t get to Charlotte for one reason or another. (Next year, Philly’s not the same weekend as Charlotte. Hopefully, this will result in a better Philly convention. If not, the show just can’t survive. And that’s a shame; Philly’s a great comics town.)

Baltimore is just a great comics show. There’s no “pop culture” aspect of the show; there’s no room. No video games. No “wrestler’s row” to fill the appearance schedule. (Jerry Lawler was scheduled to appear, but his Memphis mayoral campaign got in the way. But Lawler is a legit comics professional, so he doesn’t count.) There’s no gaming tables. It’s a packed show, just wall-to-wall comics. It’s a little overwhelming at times; Glenn and I nearly got lost more than once trying to navigate the showroom floor. But how can you complain about too much comics?

The dealers at the Baltimore show are a grade above Philly, to be sure. Glenn and I saw tons of dealers with Golden and Silver Age comics. One table, Tomorrow’s Treasures, had a table with unbagged Bronze Age books for $3. Imagine a dealer selling an unbagged Starlin Warlock, or Gold Key comic, for $3. Heck, that dealer had some amazing oddball comics on his table; I saw a Barry Goldwater comic next to a Gabby Hayes book! If there’s a drawback, it’s the lack of bargains at the show. At Philly, you could always find something at a rock-bottom price. But price is a function of demand, and there’s higher demand for comics at Baltimore.

There’s no DC and Marvel booths at the show, but there’s plenty of talent from the two companies at the show. Image had a huge booth to promote Image United, and Boom Studios also had a nice booth to promote their books (including The Muppet Show and Irredeemable, two books that I personally adore.) There were a ton of webcomic artists, including Scott Kurtz of PvP and Danielle Corsetto of Girls With Slingshots. There was also a lot of great comics talent that I got to talk to. JM DeMatteis, who has probably written at least 10% of my favorite comics of all time, was a wonderful gentleman to talk to. (Note to DC: please put Brooklyn Dreams back in print. It’s one of the most meaningful books I’ve ever read, and it breaks my heart that it’s out of print.)

Part of the fun of going to conventions is people-watching. There were lots of people in costumes, including a young lady in a slave Leia costume that may not have been legal in Baltimore County. (Are you really allowed to walk the convention floor bare-assed these days?) Also, if you have a great Madrox the Multiple Man costume, but there’s only one of you, is that a great costume or a terrible costume? The best costume I saw was the Thor at the Marvel panel, terrycloth cape aside. If you can carry around a 42-pound Mjolnir hammer, you win best costume.

The only real problem with the convention was the terrible acoustics and sound system at the panels. Due to a last minute scheduling snafu, the convention center rooms were unavailable, so at the last minute, two makeshift rooms were built on the convention floor. The lousy sound system and noise from the floor made it hard to hear the speakers at the panels. That’s truly a shame, because the speakers we saw really were a joy to listen to. George Perez regaled a packed house with tales of his lengthy career in comics. The 70s panel with Walt Simonson, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Steve Englehart, and Bernie Wrightson reminded us of a time when comics artists built a community in New York City without Facebook or Twitter. And the Mondo Marvel panel…well, I called Chris Claremont bald to his face and lived to tell the tale. (It was all in jest. I love Claremont; without him and my college friend Jim, I never would have gotten back into comics.) I even got to chat with Jeff Parker, writer of Agents of Atlas and one of the true gentlemen of comics. He’s also a comics historian, and I could have spent hours talking with him about his Alex Toth book.

This has been a great show so far, and I can’t wait for round two tomorrow. The Baltimore Comic-Con organizers should be proud of what they’ve done, and I hope Sunday goes as well as today did. And I’m off to bed!

Quick Adventures, 090309

Random thoughts today:

Wearing this shirt today (out of print at shirt.woot.com):

Almost Human

Almost Human

Early dinner debate: Chick Fil A or Arby’s? (Wife is working late tonight.)

I bought tickets to see Living Colour live in Teaneck, NJ next week. Anyone want to join me? Email me at ray@raycornwall.com.

Why is the soundtrack to Say Anything not available as a (legal) MP3 purchase anyway? Argh.

Here’s the state of my desk today:

My Desk
Books

Today’s pressing internet debate: Who’s the better bassist for Living Colour, Doug Wimbish or Muzz Skillings?

ROCK AND ROLL FRIDAY – The Who at the Isle of Wight!

This is an awesome clip of the Who at the Isle of Wight doing Summertime Blues and Shaking All Over.

Watch the nutty guy on the right of the stage try to ape Keith Moon (which, admittedly, is a lot of fun to try!). Also- fringe.

ROCK AND ROLL FRIDAY – Now THIS is ROCK!

Before everything went nuts…Guns and Roses from 1988 doing Paradise City!

ROCK AND ROLL FRIDAY – Goodbye, Michael Jackson

I think everyone has a Michael Jackson story. Some people adore his music. Some people worshipped him like a God; some thought he was a despicable pedophile, deserving only our scorn. He was the King of Pop, he was Wacko Jacko…

I’ve read people today praising his music. Some claim Thriller was his best work, others Off The Wall…for me, it was a lesser-known album called “Jacksons Live”. It was the first live album I bought, and I remember sitting in my room in middle school wearing out the grooves, three feet from the stereo with headphones so I wouldn’t anger my dad. For me, that’s my favorite MJ moment- listening to him sing with his brothers, on the cusp of supersuperstardom, getting the audience worked up during the pauses in “She’s Out Of My Life”, putting a decent live band through its paces, admiring the lights on the cover, and the glittery socks on the inner record jacket.

And then there’s the time I pulled the absolute worst guilt trip on my mom.

When Jackson announced the Victory Tour, I wanted to go. However, we really didn’t have a lot of money when we were kids. For some reason, Mom was going to pick up tickets for a friend. I went with her and stood in the long line at the Ticketmaster at Wanamakers. I knew we were only picking up the tickets for a friend, I knew we couldn’t afford to go, I understood the whole thing. And yet, at some point when we were near the front of the line, I started quietly sobbing. I couldn’t help myself. I tried to stop; I knew the deal. But I couldn’t. I felt awful, because I didn’t want to do that to my mom, but I just couldn’t turn off the waterworks.

Bless my mom’s heart, she bought us tickets to go. Don’t ask me where she found the money. And I got to go to musty old JFK Stadium in Philly…twice, because the first show rained out. I remember watching the leaks from the bowels of the stadium. I mostly remember the lightning and thunder, and then the fireworks and mist of the second show.

This week’s RARF video comes from that Victory Tour- the Jacksons, singing “Heartbreak Hotel (This Place Hotel)”. The quality of the tape isn’t the best, but I still think it’s a wonderful performance. Enjoy.