Monday, January 31, 2011

GameCola Recap: January 2011

Even though I failed to contribute anything to videogame humor website during the entire second half of January, I was rather prolific in the first half. Okay, so I wrote three articles and was part of a podcast that I think was recorded in December. Close enough.

I'm very pleased with my contributions. Hopefully they'll be met with your approval, but I'll settle for mild indifference.


- The Humble Indie Bumble


- GC Podcast #33: 3D Games


- Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast


- How-To: Build Mod-Weapons in Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Law and Order: GCPD

This is an old thing from the Internet, and in no way is it relevant, or meaningful, or even insightful. But today is Sunday, and I feel like posting something stupid and useless and funny. So sue me.

From somewhere on the Internet:
Comics readers will recognize the nod to the wacky Frank Miller All Star Batman series, in which Batman's mind seemingly breaks (and not like it did when Grant Morrison broke his mind, either), and he does all kinds of crazy, out-of-character things.

Like painting a room yellow to negate Green Lantern's green ring-based powers. Or being incredibly mean to...well, everyone...but especially mean/creepy towards Wonder Woman. But especially towards Black Canary. (Little Simpsons reference thrown in there for the fans.)

Oh, that weird, so over the top it was wonderful, All Star Batman debacle. DC promised us a continuity-free romp through the DC Universe, written and drawn by legendary creators.

DC got some of that, for sure. But they also got something so much...different.

Anyway, hope you had a chuckle, at least, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday. We'll see you tomorrow.

-- -- -- --

Oh, and as with all of these such posts, a special thanks goes to reader Dr. Nick Riviera, who will, I'm sure, one day come forth from the shadows and reveal his secret identity.

And, possibly, write a post about...oh, say...Community, which is NBC's best comedy since Seinfeld.

Dr. Nick, the challenge has officially been issued.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In Case You Stop Reading When You See the Name "Mega Man" in the Title...

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I'm a fan of Mega Man, but it may be obnoxious or difficult to follow along if you're not a fan yourself.

Well, here's a sampler platter of links to all sorts of Mega Man-related entertainment, which might help to give you a clearer picture of why I'm such a nut and/or get you caught up on some essential viewing/playing/reading.

Enjoy! OR ELSE.

The obvious place to start, if you've got the time and interest, is with my video playthroughs of the various Mega Man games. The completionist in me wants to tell you to start with the first video and work your way down the line, but my practical side recognizes that casual viewers might prefer to try out a later video, after I've started to hit my stride with the commentary and playing style. Either way, even a few minutes should give you a feel for what this series is, and why I'm so passionate about it.

Alternately (or, additionally), there's a wealth of writing by yours truly, posted both here at Exfanding Your Horizons and on videogame humor website The links that follow are what I consider to be the most significant Mega Man articles and posts I've written so far.

This is great for catching up on things you've missed, and for selectively reading up on this fandom I'm obviously so fond of. I encourage you to honestly rate all the GameCola articles using the tiny stars at the bottom of each post, but I won't mind if you're dishonest and give me five stars anyhow. ;)

1.) Review of Mega Man (NES):

2.) Review of Mega Man 2 (NES):

3.) A fictitious letter written to the villainous Dr. Wily by a safety committee:

4.) Review of Mega Man 4 (NES)

5.) Sprite comic regarding Mega Man 4 (no real knowledge of the game required):

6.) Review of Mega Man 8 (PS1):

7.) Review of Mega Man & Bass (GBA):

8.) Flash Flood column reviewing Flash games and animations involving Mega Man versus everyone else:

9.) Review of Mega Man 9:

10.) Review of Mega Man 9's DLC:

11.) Review of Mega Man 10:

12.) Review of Mega Man 10's DLC:

13.) Review of Mega Man (the PC game!):

14.) Preparations for my Mega Man Marathon:

15.) Recap of my Mega Man Marathon (strictly gameplay):

16.) Reflections on my Mega Man Marathon (more philosophical):

17.) My big list of changes that I'd make to all the games in the Mega Man series:

18.) My thoughts about Mega Man designer Keiji Inafune leaving Capcom:

19.) Finally, a review of the Mega Man fan movie, with a link to the movie (which you should watch as your last hurrah to celebrate having survived this post):

Friday, January 28, 2011

And Another One Down, And Another One Down...

Print media is in trouble. We know this. We've talked about this.

Print media is like the T-Rex who woke up on that special morning all those centuries ago, looked up into the sky, saw a brilliant flash of light, and said, "uh-oh."

Except, if print media was actually the T-Rex in this analogy (just go with me for a minute, okay?), instead of saying, "uh-oh," Print Media-Rex snorted indifferently, then went back to sleep.

Which is my way of saying that two more once-prominent and exceedingly profitable magazines have closed up shop, mostly due to the fact that the publisher had long since put off the inevitable switch to digital publishing.

As any tried and true geek knows, Wizard and Toyfare magazines, respectively, have been industry staples since the early 1990s.
Sure, their humor skewed towards the frat house variety, but, more than any other comics-related publication, they were "mainstream."

They were mainstream in that both magazines were sold in Borders and Barnes & Noble, and they looked like "real" mags. High quality paper, full-color covers and interiors, and, recently, big-name stars plastered all over the book.

But now, sadly, both Wizard and Toyfare have been cancelled, and will be replaced by an online version called, simply, Wizard World.

A couple of thoughts on this. First, it's about time the mags went digital. And second...boy does it stink that the mags are going digital.

I've been a Wizard reader since 2003 or so, so I missed out on its heyday of the mid-90s.

And, while my reading tendencies venture more into independent books than into the big, mainstream stuff, I always looked forward to getting, and reading, Wizard for its mostly mainstream coverage.

And if you think that's strange, Wizard was one of my brother's favorite magazines. And he doesn't really read comics, other than things like Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns.

I know. Bizarre.

But I think that was the effect of Wizard. It made comics kind of, sort of, cool. Geeky-cool, for sure, but cool nonetheless. And remember, this was before geeky-cool was in.

And now, with geeky-cool being very, very in...Wizard is gone.

Now, don't get me wrong. This will be no great literary void now that the magazine is no more. There were times when I simply had to put the magazine aside, and wonder aloud how a single publication could contain so many grammatical mistakes.

And remember, I'm the guy who reads books like The Goon, and Boneyard, and Stumptown, and Magus, and The Sixth Gun, and a bunch of things from the very depths of the Previews catalog.

But I liked Wizard.

I enjoyed picking it up each month and flipping through the pages, despite the fact that they pretty much completely ignored the books I love most. But I needed my monthly fix.


I dunno. Maybe it was because its pages were filled with fun talk about comics. Sometimes, we just need more of that.

So I'll follow Wizard World online, and I'll report back on it when the first issue--or whatever--comes out sometime in February. For now, though, I'll happily thumb through the latest--and last--copy of Wizard that I picked up on Wednesday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


It's been snowing pretty much since forever where I live...except during hours when it would be convenient to cancel work.

Don't get me wrong--I enjoy my job. From a business standpoint, it would be inconvenient and/or downright harmful to close the office at the drop of Frosty's old silk hat. That doesn't change the fact that we've had enough snow to recreate the Battle of Hoth with life-sized AT-ATs made out of small children whose school was canceled. Erm, snow. Made out of snow.
I don't even know if I'm exaggerating, but what I do know is that somebody deserves a snow day who's tall enough to ride the Cone of Tragedy without adult supervision. Kids shouldn't be the only ones staying home when the weather turns to bleaugh. Not only am I not enjoying toast and hot chocolate in front of the TV after sleeping in, but I'm spending more of my free time digging a path to that mound of snow that might be my car, depending on whether I remember where I parked.

The one day we did have a delayed opening at work was the day I spent all morning cleaning off my car. I've pretty much become an automobile ascetic; it's too much work and has the potential for too much risk. Fortunately (I think), I've been able to get away with leaving the car alone because of where my apartment is in relation to my office. I have literally been walking to work uphill, both ways, in the snow.


It's bad enough that I don't have snow days like the schoolchildren; now I'm talking like a fictional old man! Bah!

Bah, I say!

...Boy, could I use a snow day.

Image from

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 3, Issue 4

Not much going on today. Nope. Not all all. Especially nothing doing in the world of comics. All quiet on that front, for sure. So quiet, in fact, you might say things are (wait for it) dead.

And, when I say, "things," I don't mean to imply that--that is to say, I mean, it's not the Thing who bit it today. Or, wait. No. It could be--the Thing, I mean--but I honestly have no idea.

Ya know what?

Let's start over.

Despite my claim to the contrary above, today is a pretty big day in comics. Marvel's flagship super hero team book, Fantastic Four, sees the death of one of its characters.

And, like I said, I have no idea who bites it today.

I haven't gone to the store yet, and I have stayed clear of...well...the entire Internet, save this here blog. This will be the one time--the one time--that some yahoo doesn't spoil the news for me.

Now, there's always the possibility that this is simply hype, and that a character won't die. But, um, the cover for today's issue 587 is pretty ominous. (And only a little bit funny.)
And the solicitation information from Marvel isn't much happier:

One of the four will fall!

Excellent. Thanks.

So, who will it be? I have no idea. I'm not a particularly big fan of death in comics, but if you've read the funny books for just a little while, it's inevitable that one of the characters you read has "died."

If you've read comics for a few years, it's a pretty good bet that that same character has come back to life since then.

It's part of the fun of comics, and it allows the books to garner some much-needed publicity. So, even though I don't love the idea of "killing" a character just to bring him or her back in a year or two, I get it. I understand why it's done, and as long as the story is well told, then I'm cool with it.

Plus, you know, it's only a character in a work of fiction. So, no one is actually dying. Which is always good.

Just for the heck of it, though, let's go ahead and give a guess as to who meets the Watcher today. (And, please take into consideration that I read this series in trade and am currently way behind, so I really, truly, and honestly have no facts upon which to base this.)


Okay, so Reed's death would be felt the most around the Marvel Universe, since his staggering brilliance often saves the denizens of the MU (and not to mention writers) in a very deus ex machina kind of way. He'd be a massive loss for Marvel, but they tend to do some crazy and uninhibited things over there, so 2-1 odds say Mr. Fantastic gets dead.

Johnny's always been the loose canon of the group, and his going off and doing something stupid and/or exceedingly brave may very well be the cause of his untimely demise. But, for this "event," that would be too obvious. No, I think the Human Torch will be here to stay. I'll give it 10-1 odds that he actually gets offed, making him the long shot in this race that nobody wants to win.

The Thing is another way too easy pick. He makes the most sense, though, considering his death would have the least impact in terms of being a plot device for the Marvel Universe. Benny's not done yet, I say, and I'm giving him 4-1 odds of meeting his Great Aunt Petunia.

Sue is the most-liked character on the team, and her death would be the most emotional, both for the characters (she's Johnny's sister and Reed's wife, after all) and for the reader, so I'm thinking her chances are not too good. 1-1 odds say the Invisible Girl will be no more.

I'm thinking it'll be either Reed or Sue--both would be the toughest choices for Marvel to make. I have a feeling they're going all in on this one, though, so we'll see if I'm right.

-- -- -- --

There are, of course, plenty of other books coming out today. But, as there's the threat of another big snow storm 'round these parts today, and I have to do a full day's work in just about a half-day, I need to speed this up.

So, quickly, here's what else I'm buying.

From Vertigo and writer Brian Wood, The New York Five, issue one:

Here's the solicitation from the publisher:

There's nothing more exciting than college life in the big city. But complications can follow you from dark places – and not just from your boring hometown.

In THE NEW YORK FIVE, Riley's sister Angie is making a name in the Lower East Side with her new band, and now Riley is the black sheep of the family. Lona's murky past appears to have been hiding an alarming proficiency for stalkerism, and Merissa and Ren will confront uncomfortable situations involving older men.

But who is the "five" in THE NEW YORK FIVE? Find out as Vertigo reunites this cast with its stellar creative team of Brian Wood (DEMO, DMZ, NORTHLANDERS) and Ryan Kelly (LUCIFER, Local) in this standard-sized 4-issue miniseries.

And from Wizard Entertainment, what looks to be the final issue of Wizard Magazine. I'll have much more on this later in the week, but I wanted to mention that, from all accounts, this month's issue will be the last for that publication.

It's certainly the end of an era in comics with the cancellation of Wizard, and it comes at a time both expected and kind of surprising. Which is hard to do. Wizard's content has been better recently than it has been for several years, but the market can simply no longer support a magazine about comics.

Or, rather, more than one magazine about comics.

And so Wizard is the latest victim of the publishing decline here in the US and pretty much everywhere else. If you've ever thought about picking up an issue, you'd better do so today because it will likely be your last chance.

Right. Sorry about the depressing nature of this post--deaths of characters and publications. Don't despair, though. It's Wednesday! Go buy comics! That's what I'm going to do.

But before I go, what are you Waiting for?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

To Savor and Suffer

I've suddenly been spending more time with other people than usual, and I find myself once again in marathon mode. Between the first half of the anime series My-HiME, which Alex discussed yesterday, and the first season of the entertainingly off-kilter "Johnny Quest for adults" cartoon series Venture Bros., I've been doing an awful lot of blazing through television shows recently.

Almost all of my exposure to anime has been in marathon settings--at college, I might get together once or twice a week to watch anime with friends, so we couldn't afford to watch a single episode at a time. Yet, I'm perfectly content to watch a single episode of The Simpsons, or Family Guy, or Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, so animation doesn't require marathoning in my book.

I was watching through four or five episodes at a clip of Stargate: Atlantis with a friend for a while (and we'll need to resume that once we're done with My-HiME, buddy), but I don't feel compelled to marathon all live-action or sci-fi. This'll become relevant in a moment.

For quite a while now, I've been gradually working my way through the last season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the third season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: The Animated Series, often in back-to-back triple features--a regular Neapolitan evening that samples each of the three series. I'm eager to finish TAS so that I can write a post about it, but I've been savoring the final episodes of TNG, my favorite show on television. DS9, however, has been an entertainment mystery.

I like the show. Percentage-wise, I've seen less of DS9 than any other Star Trek series, so I'm interested to see where things go from here. All signs indicate that I should want to watch more, yet I'm usually a smidge reluctant to sit down and watch an episode. Why? After all this animated marathoning, I've determined that it's because I'm sitting down to watch an episode. Just one. I need more.

In thinking about the TV and films I like to marathon--and those I prefer to watch in bite-sized installments--I've come to the conclusion that I'm impatient when it comes to story development. I have trouble sticking with most novels and television shows because it takes so long to tell a single story or complete one story arc. If I marathon a plot-heavy series, I get to the payoff in hours instead of days or weeks. I don't demand instant gratification, but I need more than just one big payoff at the end to not get terribly antsy along the way.

When I say "payoffs," I'm referring to the satisfaction of vicarious accomplishment, that the characters have achieved something worth celebrating. Stargate: SG-1 is a great example of how a show can have a series of smaller payoffs while simultaneously building toward one big one. Nearly every episode is a self-contained adventure with a conclusion that brings some amount of satisfaction for a job well done, a crisis averted, or whatever it is the heroes are going after.

Yet, there's more to it--there are greater story arcs that need to be resolved, and episodes here and there progress the plot toward a larger satisfaction of bringing a particular chapter or situation to a close. Even then, there's the One Big Plotline that's ever-present in the background, and all the self-contained victories and failures build toward the conclusion you've waited almost ten seasons to see.

Little payoffs in every episode. Larger payoffs every several episodes. A huge payoff at the end. (Or so you hope, anyhow.) With Stargate, I can be just as content to watch one episode or a dozen. Not so with Deep Space Nine, apparently.

The basic framework of the One Big Plotline is already in place, and a number of midsized plotlines have already begun to develop, or at least have been hinted at. There's the anticipation at the start of each new episode that the main plot will kick in, but it always ends up that there's a smaller plotline being pursued or important character development that's setting up for something to come. Two and a half seasons of prelude so far, and the tension is getting to me.

Yes, there are lesser payoffs here and there, but DS9 is not about larger-than-life heroes and death-defying intergalactic escapades. It's about real (fictional) people living in a precariously located powder keg of a space station. There are some days when you just come home and go to bed. There are some days when seemingly nothing good came out of anything you did. There are some days where even the victories feel like losses. If you want a payoff on a show like DS9, one episode isn't going to cut it. You need to see where the story takes you.

Perhaps it's time to start marathoning Deep Space Nine, at least until that main plot kicks in and takes off. Funny that Venture Bros. is teaching me how to better enjoy Star Trek...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Anime Saturday...and Some Other Things, Too

Despite the fact that it's a bitter cold Monday morning and the pile of work for the week is a bit depressing, I'm in a pretty good mood. And for more than one reason.

Firstly, the excellent 11 O'Clock Comics podcast has posted their annual "11 O’Closcars" episode, wherein they run down the best comics and comics-related goodness of the previous calendar year.

Included in the best of 2010 version of the show are old stand-by categories like Favorite Hero, Favorite Writer, and Most Important News. And a new category--Favorite Webcomic--is a nice (and necessary) addition to an otherwise comprehensive list of awards.

This is one of my favorite shows of the the year, mostly because there are always a couple of books that I've never heard of. I'm only about an hour and a half in at this point (the show is a marathon 3-plus hour event), and already my list of new things to check out includes three webcomics I'd never heard of, and a book on the history of horror comics.

Anyway, this is one of the best comics podcasts out there (and there are a ton of them out there, by the way), and the four co-hosts are smart and articulate, and their varying tastes in comics encompasses pretty much the entire medium.

If you've never tuned in, give it a listen (it's free on iTunes or at their site). I think a number of our readers will be interested in the show.


So, the other reason for my good mood has to do with a successful introduction to Anime this past weekend. As I mentioned on Saturday, Nathaniel and I were invited to a friend's screening of a series called My-HiME.
While I won't go into a full-on review here (we're just about halfway through the series at this point and I'd rather hold off until we finish the show), I did want to quickly bring up the fact that I didn't run away screaming.

Which is a Big Deal.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, it's just not one of my favorite things to sit in front of a television for an extended period of time. In fact, this past Thursday--the only day of the week that I actually watch TV, mind you--my patience was tested when NBC spread out their Thursday night lineup of comedies to three hours of viewing time.

Too long to sit there, waiting for Michael Scott to be funny.

Still, on Saturday afternoon, I sat through a nice little marathon of My-HiME episodes, and I enjoyed myself. The show was fun and dealt with themes I like. Basically, there's this school for gifted youngsters who have special powers (What can I say? My friends know me), and there's some mysterious and looming threat from without (or, possibly, from within). Plus, there are giant robots who punch monsters.

All very cool stuff.

There were certainly some cringe-worthy parts of the show, I must admit, but as I was told, they're to be expected when watching Anime.

So, yeah. Mission accomplished. New fandom Exfanded.

Now all we have to do is figure out a day to watch the rest of the series, and then I will officially be able to say that I watched an entire Anime series.

Which is something I can honestly tell you would not have happened if not for this blog.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Map Quest

For as avid a video game player as I am, there was once a time where I was almost as much of an avid game creator. I have no degree in game design, and the most sophisticated programming I ever did was a little bit of Choose Your Own Adventure-style text adventuring with BASIC way back in elementary school. However, you give me a map editor for a game I like, and you won't see me for the rest of the afternoon.

I've mentioned before that I've created a few multiplayer levels for Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. The level editing software about as robust and complex as anything I've ever used, and I learned through online training resources and my own fiddling around how to assemble countless 3-D blocks into a functional level with moving platforms and breakable glass.

I also have a homebrew adaptation of Super Mario World that's been in the works since late high school. What started out as a little bit of entertaining tinkering to while away the hours of my senior year free periods (think study hall without an assigned room) evolved into a major side project that held the interest of my college's video game club for four years running. It's been on indefinite hiatus since graduation, but I turn my attention back to it every so often when an interested party volunteers to beta test and give me feedback.

After all this time, though, some of my most deviously clever ideas from several years ago have been used by other level designers, so my work becomes all the more derivative the longer it sits. That's why my favorite editing projects are ones I do for myself, or for my friends and family.

Perhaps my favorite map editing has been for Heroes of Might and Magic III, which has been a hotseat staple for my sister and I since the day I got it. The interface is simple, but there are enough options to thoroughly customize whatever crazy landscapes I have in mind. I find myself once again customizing a map, this time for my significant other, who hasn't had many opportunities to play and could do with a lovingly crafted introductory map that exposes her to all the enemies, items, and locations at a better learning curve than what the preloaded maps have to offer.

It's been quite some time since I've done anything other than play games, write about games, or make videos of games, so it's refreshing to be creating something again. Especially something where I can hide secret love notes and mobs of angry peasants numbering in the thousands.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Something New

Today is a significant day in the history of Exfanding. No, it's not an anniversary of any kind, or even one of those pesky and self-gratifying "Hey! Look at how many hits we have now!" types of posts.

Instead, today will be the day that I sit down to watch Anime. Or, more specifically, an Anime.

I forget the name of the movie, but I know it starts at 2:00 at a friend's house. Nathaniel even offered to drive me there, possibly because he wants to ensure that I won't "get lost" on the way.

I've never watched an Anime--at least, not from start to finish. I've seen clips and things, playing at conventions, and I know the names of a few of the more famous ones.

But I've never taken the time to sit down and watch a full movie.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, that will have changed. And, hopefully, I'll like the flick and I'll want to watch more. We'll just have to wait and see, though.

So, wish me luck, Exfanders, and expect a post (about Anime!) from me (!) in the near future (by "near," I really mean probably in a week or so).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Join the Filler Parade

The trouble with committing to posting on a daily basis is that, every so often, you really don't have anything to post. Sunday, Tuesday, and Yesterday (my favorite day of the week*) were characterized by filler, so I think it's safe to say that this hasn't been a particularly content-heavy week, despite Alex's best efforts. He wins this week, for sure.

Not that it's a contest--or even a necessity--to constantly produce content-rich posts. Some of my favorite Star Trek episodes are plot-uncritical filler episodes, and some of my favorite blog posts have been ones that didn't require a caffeine injection to get through. This week it's been a matter of me focusing heavily on finishing my month-overdue Mega Man 6 video, which took me out of the writing groove I've been in for a little while.

It all goes in cycles and waves--sometimes I'm content to do nothing but GameCola work; sometimes I'm on a runaway typewriter bound for Blog City; sometimes I can't talk fast enough to do the video recording I want to do; and so on. This is evidently not much of a writing week for me, but that's alright. Gives me more time to play video games and watch cartoons.

Weeks like this are nice because they provide great idea fodder for weeks when I can actually do something articulate with my thoughts. And yes, I did just fumble on the keyboard when attempting to write "articulate," but I fixed my mistake before anyone saw.

Weeks like this are also nice because they serve as a reminder that we're still blogging for us, first and foremost. We love having you here, and we both think it's fantastic and incredible that you'd choose to spend your time hanging out with our verbal leakage on an off-day like today (or on any day, for that matter), but it's nice to not feel contractually or guiltedly obligated to post anything of substance.

There'll be some thoughtful, beefy stuff soon enough. In the meantime, enjoy your filler day.

*Not actually a day of the week

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Post? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Post!

Why hello there. I bet you've come here today expecting a post about comics, or Mega Man, or orchid growing.

Well, sorry to disappoint you. You see, I have nothing to write about, and my blogging buddy is out gallivanting with the cast of the hit HBO show, Entourage, and will be unable to assist.

That, or he has jury duty. I forget what he said in his email.

In any case, I honestly don't have very much to talk about today. And my initial plan for the post was going to be a stream of consciousness thing that started when I sat down at the computer, and ended at 11:00, when we normally post.

Whatever was written by that point was going to be published, and you all would have had to sit through it.

But, sometimes you just get lucky. Like when the following was emailed to me by Exfanding reader Dr. Nick Riviera. It made me laugh, and I hope it makes you laugh, too. So without further ado, I present the Joker, stealing from a child.
I have no idea where this came from, and honestly, I don't want to know. But it's funny. (And excessively mean, even by Joker's standards.) And sometimes, that's all that matters.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 3, Issue 3

It's another wonderfully wintry week here at Exfanding HQ, with more of the ice and sleet and slush than the good old fashioned snow. Combine the fact that I have an hour-plus drive to work each morning with the fact that my car is very not good in the snow, and you get an interesting week.

But, hey. At least it's Wednesday, and at least there are comics to buy.

Aside from my weather woes (they're saying more snow here Thursday night into Friday, and then there's the possibility of Something coming by Monday morning), I'm having one of those weird overall weeks. I have quite a bit of work that needs to be done, which is actually good for me, because it keeps me focused. But it's a lot of work, nonetheless.

I'm also working on a few things--side projects, as Nathaniel likes to call them--that are a whole lot of fun, and pretty exciting. Who knows where they'll end up. At this point, I've pretty much trained myself to never get too excited over anything, especially things that have the potential to be very exciting.

I know. It doesn't make any sense. Welcome to my brain.

I've also managed to fit in quite a bit of reading time this week, which is nice. Usually, I cram as much as I possibly can into the weekend--sometimes reading a month's worth of comics in one sitting before moving on to that novel I've been meaning to read.

But this week I started--and finished--a pretty unexpected biography. As any (even casual) wrestling fans knows, Mick Foley is one of the all-time great characters in the game. And his latest book (he has several previous memoirs that sold incredibly well and that I might go track down) is a great read.

I've been an on and off fan of professional wrestling for most of my life, really getting into it at two different times--first, when I was very young and Hulk Hogan was the biggest thing ever. And second, when I was in high school, and Stone Cold Steve Austin was the biggest thing ever.

Just for the record, though, Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler. Always was, always will be.

But Mick Foley--or Mankind, or Cactus Jack, or Dude Love, as he's been known in the past--is a very close second. I even got to "meet" Mick back at the short-lived Wizard World Boston (which was my very first convention, by the way). I say "meet" because I just happened to walk by his table (there was a huge line of people waiting to get his autograph) at the exact moment that he looked up. Right at me, actually.
I was just wandering the convention, not really sure where to go or what to do next, and I certainly didn't expect to see Mick Foley--the Hardcore Legend of pro wrestling--staring right at me. So what do I do? I say, loudly and with a smile, "Hey! You're Mick Foley!" And, for some reason, I wave at him.

And Mick Foley smiles and gives me a patented Mick Foley Thumbs-Up. And says, "Yep."True story.

Right. How'd we get here again?

Oh, yes. Foley's latest book, Countdown to Lockdown, an autobiography detailing the last two-plus years in the career of one of wrestling's biggest names.

It was great. Foley's writing style is engaging and funny, and at times, beautiful.

He talks about in-ring stuff, "inside baseball" backstage stuff, family stuff, you name it. He's frank and open and he talks about things that most wrestlers wouldn't touch with a barbed wire baseball bat. But Foley dives right in and provides one of the most thoughtful theories on steroid use that I've ever read.

I played baseball for a long time, and unfortunately, I know many players who decided to go the steroid route, including some close friends. So that chapter alone was worth the price of admission for me.

If you're a wrestling fan--or, like me, if you watched at some point and know names like Foley and Undertaker and Jeff Jarrett and Kurt Angle--then I'd say this is some must-read material. I bet we have a few wrestling fans out there reading this, and if so, please leave a comment. I've been meaning to do a longer post on wrestling at some point here, but I'd like to know that there's someone out there with some interest in the subject.

Okay, okay. Back to the mission at hand--new comics. You have to admit, though, as far as Alex Tangents go, that one was pretty good.

First up this week, we have another book from Image Comics that's making some waves in the shops and online. Yet another sellout from the publisher, 27 is a new series about a musician and...uh. Well, that's actually all I know about the series. The reason? Issue one sold out instantly, and very few stores (read: none, in my area) even ordered a single copy.
Plenty of copies of number one popped up on eBay (for $15) on the day of release, and there's been a pretty steady stream of them on the auction site ever since. Last week, issue two shipped, and most stores picked up a few copies after the buzz for issue one had officially made it a "hot" book.

I made sure to reserve a copy of issue two from my shop, and now I have issue two of a series before finding a copy of issue one. But, hopefully, that will be rectified today, as Image releases a second printing of that elusive first issue.

For anyone interested, here's the solicitation information from the publisher:

Hendrix, Cobain, Joplin, Morrison. All died at age 27. In 27, and all-new miniseries from Image Comics and Shadowline, a gifted rock musician fights to make it to his 28th birthday.

This four-issue series is written by Charles Soule (Strongman), drawn by the brilliant Renzo Podesta (Hard Drive, Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom), and features gorgeous covers by W. Scott Forbes (FORGETLESS). It will be published in the larger Golden Age format.

In 27, the "27 Club" admits only the most brilliant musicians and artists--and kills them dead in their 27th year. Will Garland is a famous rock guitarist, secretly unable to play for months due to a neurological disorder afflicting his left hand. He's also 27. With mad scientists, long dead rock legends and cosmic entities in his way, can he make it to 28?

Sounds good, and I'm looking forward to seeing what all the hype is about.

Next up, we have a book near and dear to my heart. From Dark Horse, volume 10 of The Goon ships today. Entitled "Death's Greedy Comeuppance," this volume veers a bit off the "continuity" trail, focusing instead on two one-shot issues of The Goon proper, and a 3-issue mini-series featuring supporting cast favorite, Buzzard.
The two one-shots featured here include the 10th anniversary special issue and the amazing "silent issue," which has (you guessed it) no words.

Here's the official blurb from Dark Horse about the collection:

Celebrate ten years of The Goon with this collection of two hilarious Goon stories and the Buzzard miniseries!

This volume includes the landmark tenth-anniversary special and the riotous (and silent) One-Shot Wonder issue, plus a poignant adventure of the immortal Buzzard, wandering a desolate land after his confrontation with the Zombie Priest.

Filled with equal parts comedy and misfortune, this collection serves as both an epilogue to the Goon Year epic and the beginning of the next chapter in the story of Lonely Street's tragic protector!

I've already ordered my copy of this, and I can't wait to dig in to these newly collected stories.

And with that, I really must be going. But before I do...what are you Waiting for?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RPG Motivational Posters

We as a species enjoy taking pictures and putting captions under them. Here's a link that I've had bookmarked forever: RPG Motivational Posters. There's plenty more out there to be found, but this is a nice, tidy little repository of amusement for roleplayers of all sorts. Occasionally not-entirely-safe-for-work amusement, I might add, but still probably funny.

Here's a trio of some of my favorites:

Monday, January 17, 2011

More Borders Woes Update (And It's Not a Happy One)

By now, most people have heard that the bookseller giant Borders is in some financial trouble.

And we've been hearing something similar for the past three or four years. Still, there are plenty of Borders stores all over the country, and the chance of one being within half an hour of wherever you're reading this from is pretty high.

For the most part, while it's less likely these days that Borders will carry a title that strays off the mainstream road, their stores have managed to remain fairly well-stocked these past few years, despite all of their troubles.

And, for various reasons, they were particularly well-stocked in the comic book/graphic novel department.

Well, all that's about to change, as Diamond Book Distributors--the major distribution game in the comics industry--has suspended shipments to Borders stores in light of the bookseller's decision to suspend payments to their vendors.

Can't really blame Diamond, can you?

Several publishers have also stopped selling their product to Borders, and news broke that the retail giant will close a Tennessee-based warehouse this summer, eliminating 310 jobs in the process.

Obviously, this is sad, bad news. It's bad for the folks at Borders, it's bad for the publishers, and it's bad for anyone who enjoys going to a bookstore and wandering.

Let's face it--when Borders moved in just over a decade ago, they (along with Barnes & Noble) essentially became the only game in town. The retail behemoths pushed small shops out of business as customers found the whole, coffee-shop-in-a-bookstore thing to be revelatory.

But now, when Borders needs to do the thing--you know, sell books--that those small shops did so well for all those years...they can't. And why is that? Because, by and large, Borders has always been more interested in having a nice coffee shop, or selling CDs and DVDs, or stocking a wide selection of paper products that no one buys.

Books were always secondary. They were the front.

And now, Borders needs to figure out--in the worst book selling climate in history--how to sell books. And from the looks of things, it seems like they'll need a miracle to get out of their current situation.

But Borders has been resilient, if nothing else. And they've managed to survive, despite the countless tolls of the their death-knell. Here's hoping they can keep surviving. Here's hoping they go to all of those book shop owners who were forced out of business a decade ago and ask them for advice.

Because, after all these years, it's about time Borders figures out just how in the heck to sell books.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Minesweeper and Paperboy in Real Life

I don't spend a lot of time doodling around the Internet in search of entertaining videos, but I'm a sucker for a good live-action adaptation of a video game. Ever wonder what Paperboy would be like in real life?

Another one of my favorites is a fake movie trailer for Minesweeper, but embedding has been "disabled by request," so you'll have to leave this blog for a minute or two to check it out. We'll miss you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Store Spotlight: A Timeless Journey

Quite a while ago, on a blog very much like this one, I mentioned that it might be fun to do little spotlight post thingies on different comics, gaming, and all around cool, stores that Nathaniel and/or I have been to.

Of course, until this very moment, I forgot to follow through on that idea.

So, to rectify such an injustice, today I humbly (or as humbly as I can be, anyway) present the very first comics shop in our Store Spotlight Series.

And, before you ask, no, I'm not married to that name. So if you can come up with something better, please feel free to leave some names in the comments section, below. There'll be no prize if your idea gets chosen, other than the satisfaction that--

Actually, you know what?

There will be a prize. And, even though I have not at all talked this over with Nathaniel, if you leave a comment for a new name for this feature, and we decide to use it, we'll send you a prize.

It will probably be a pretty horrible prize, but hey. We don't exactly work on a Michael Bay budget here. Right. So. Back to the post...

Fittingly, this first store in the series is my own, personal LCS. So you know it's good. A Timeless Journey, in Stamford, CT, is the shop that I've haunted, off and on, for just about 15 years.

When I was a kid, and more into collecting baseball cards than anything else, I used to buy packs and boxes of cards at--as it's affectionately called by regulars--Timeless. (My brother still collects those sports cards, and Timeless remains his main venue for that.)

As I got older and...uh...progressed? comics, Timeless became my weekly store, and now, six-or-so years later, you can still find me there each and every Wednesday.

The store's owner is great and friendly and will actually help you if you have a question--something that many new customers fear will not be the case when venturing into a comics shop for the first time.

And the store's selection of comic books both old and new is certainly on the higher end of the spectrum. All mainstream books are ordered each week, and there is always a nice selection of independent titles. New books are located on their own wall, and are very easy to locate.

All back issue comics are discounted 30% when purchased in-store, and there are literally thousands to choose from. Timeless features a nice selection of "wall books"--the higher end comics that are the wall, and those are also 30% off, every day.

Additionally, I'm told that the store's gaming selection is quite impressive and expansive, with some hard to find items. What's more, every Friday night is tournament night at the store's new gaming tables.

All in all, it's my home away from home, and I look forward to stopping by every week. If you're ever in the area, drop in and say hello. And tell them Exfanding sent you. (Although no one will have any idea what you're talking about...)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why The Green Hornet Might Sting Your Eyes

Well, The Green Hornet opens tonight, and it's the first movie I've wanted to see in the theater (as opposed to saving my money and waiting for the DVD to arrive at my local library) Legacy. Alright, new qualification: It's the first movie I've wanted to see in the theater since Inception that caught my eye simply because it looks good.

In an age of prequels, sequels, and remakes, it's refreshing to go to the movies to watch something with no ties to anything, except for the part where it's based on a comic book. Even so, I've never been exposed to The Green Hornet comics, so I'm coming at this from the perspective of a guy who's just out to see a fun movie.

The only problem? It's in 3-D.

For a movie like Avatar, with its BLUE ALIENS and STUNNING VISTAS, 3-D makes perfect sense--every second of the film is intended to be an eye-popping visual feast. You lose something if you don't watch THE GREATEST ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME in 3-D. The Green Hornet, though?

Or Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides?

Or The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader?

Or A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey?

Or Kung Fu Panda 2?

Or Mars Needs Moms?

It just occurred to me how much of this is Disney's fault. Still, I hear talk of 3-D televisions and the 3-D-capable evolution of the Nintendo DS, and I see no end to this 3-D craze. Which is baffling, considering how NO ONE likes 3-D.

Perhaps it's just the people I hang out with, but--without exception (except for this one friend)--the reaction is always the same: No matter how enthusiastic someone is about seeing a film, the instant they discover it's showing in 3-D, their excitement deflates, and there's often a pouty face or listless dejection that follows. I'm feeling the same way about The Green Hornet--I want to leave the house for a few hours, leave my wallet at the concession stand, and enjoy a movie that promises to be stupid amounts of fun, with nothing else for me to compare it against or expect it to be.

Plain. Old. Fun.

Yet it's in 3-D. My eyes begin to suffer about halfway through any 3-D film, and I ultimately shift the 3-D glasses around on my face until they're in an awkward position where the strain isn't so bad, but the very top of the screen is obscured by the frame of the glasses. Oh, and let's not forget the practical part--Disney (or whomever) is charging me $5 or $10 more for something I don't want at all, and probably won't enhance my viewing experience enough to make up for the extra hassle and expense.

Let me put this in another perspective: When I go out to a restaurant, I'm not forced to wear a tight helmet that makes my jaw ache as I chew (and have them charge me extra to wear it). I don't order take-out so I can eat restaurant food--which gets cold by the time I get home--without needing to deal with the aforementioned Meal Helmet.

As I said, there are movies such as Avatar, that truly need 3-D. Captain EO is a regular Meal Helmet convention--it simply doesn't work if you remove the key ingredient. It was fun enough to see the effects-heavy TRON: Legacy in 3-D, but as my girlfriend pointed out, the 3-D commercial before the film, which had water spraying all over the place, was the best part of the 3-D experience.

I feel like I'm repeating myself, but in a different context: Don't implement motion controls unless your video game absolutely requires them. Don't reboot a franchise unless there are no more stories to be told. Don't put your movie in 3-D unless you positively need to poke your audience in the eye.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Exfanding Review: Talking With Gods

I've been meaning to write up a quick review about the documentary film, Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods, for a while now. I received a copy of the DVD for Christmas, and I watched it right away, but somehow managed to forget about writing up a review.

And yesterday, while going back and forth between working from home, shoveling, and being awed by the amount of snow that had fallen overnight, I started thinking about Grant Morrison.

And how cool his life up on a hill, in a centuries-old mansion overlooking a lake in Scotland, must be. Sitting in his office, drawing and writing and typing. Madnesses and fantasies and horrors and magicks flowing from his head to his hands and into the completed work.

Grant Morrison doesn't have to shovel snow, I kept thinking.

But, on the off chance that he might someday have to shovel snow, he'd probably be able to overcome such a tedious chore with magick. Which alone makes Grant Morrison way cooler than anyone I know.

But this post is about the film, Talking With Gods, and alas, is not about the hypothetical situation wherein Grant Morrison must shovel snow but instead of exerting himself physically, he uses magick. And the snow vanishes.

Talking With Gods is an inside look at one of comics' most eccentric personalities, and one of its greatest minds.

Creator of mind-bending, and ground-breaking, titles such as The Invisibles, We3, and The Filth, and the complete re-imagining of the classic Silver Age super heroes, the Doom Patrol, and writer of All Star Superman (which is quite possibly the best run in the history of that character), Grant Morrison is on a level in comics reached only by the likes of...well, Alan Moore.

And, possibly with the exception of the great Mr. Moore, Grant Morrison is the comics creator surrounded by the most amount of intrigue and mystery and near-mythical stories of his personal life.

He practices magick and he's done more drugs than The Beatles and he lives in a castle and he's seen the apparition of John Lennon. He's traveled the world, and he's lived in other universes, and he knows the answer to the Great Mystery of Life.

He's also happily married, incredibly witty and funny, and one of the hardest workers in the comics industry.

In Talking With Gods, we see all sides of Morrison. We hear his life's story from the man himself and we learn things about him from friends and associates.

We get an inside look at his creative process--he fills notebooks with ideas and drawings, then he lays out his comics in thumbnail sketches. And we hear firsthand about the avalanche of ideas he brings to creative summits.

If you're a fan of Morrison's work, then this should be on your movie shelf. The filmmakers do a great job in presenting the material, and the high production values lend the film's look the same credibility that the subjects bring to it.

This one gets the Official Exfanding Stamp of Approval, so you know it's good.

-- -- -- --

You can watch the trailer at the film's official website.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting for Wednesday, Volume 3, Issue 2

Well, it looks like we're in for yet another major snowstorm at Exfanding HQ, and if this one's as bad as the last one, I'll be sitting out the Wednesday ritual and opting instead to brave the weather some other day (probably Thursday) and let my comics sit at the store for a while.

Since I'm writing this on Tuesday afternoon and the weather reports keep changing (mostly, I might add, in order to increase the amount of snow we'll likely be assaulted with here on the East Coast), I'm just wondering if stores in this area will even get their shipments of new books today.

And, if they do, will anyone show up to buy them?

Last week (actually, just a couple days ago) when we were hammered with nearly 10 more inches of snow, I got stuck on a major highway...that was closed. While I was on it. Due to several accidents about a mile in front of me, the entire highway was closed, and it didn't re-open for just about 2 hours. While I was on it.

My just-about-1-hour daily commute home turned into a 4-plus-hour nightmare. Fortunately, I made it home in one piece, and I hope the accidents up ahead of me weren't too serious.

And, being that winter only officially started, what, 2 weeks ago, it's probably a good assumption that it'll be a long, snowy next month or three.

Still, we'll all get our comics fix eventually this week, so let's dive in to the new books.

It's not a huge week, but there are a couple of interesting titles hitting stands today, and one in particular that I'd like to talk about.

From Image, issue one of a new series called, Infinite Vacation. I pre-ordered this one after seeing it in Previews, mostly because it looked pretty cool and somewhat because Image books are selling out faster than I can buy them these days.
About that--the whole fast Image sell-out thing, I mean--it's starting to get ridiculous, and frankly, a little scary. And I don't mean to say that it's a bad thing that Image titles are selling out so quickly. That's a great thing for the company, and for smaller press books in general.


Well, not exactly.

Like the speculator craze that took over the comics industry in the 1990s, today people are buying up multiple copies of Image books and selling them online (and, in some despicable cases, in stores) for well above cover price. Why? Because Image books are by nature I know that several retailers have put limits on the number of these books that a single customer can buy, just to ensure that more people (you know, like the ones who'd like to read the books) have a chance to purchase them.

Now, when I see an Image book that looks even slightly interesting, I order issue one in Previews, knowing that there's a pretty good chance that I'd miss it completely otherwise.

With Infinite Vacation, though, the premise sounds great, and the creators have a proven track record. Writer Nick Spencer (Morning Glories--the first of the new, hot Image books of 2010) is a rising star in the industry, and his books are well-crafted and his knack for dialogue and character development is a major selling point for me.

Here's the solicitation information for issue one:


Mark lives in a world where alternate realities are up for sale, and buying and trading your way through unlimited variations of yourself is as commonplace as checking your email or updating your status. But when other "hims" start dying suddenly and he meets a mysterious girl who wants nothing to do with "life-changing," he'll learn the truth about the universe he stumbles through, and what happens when your vacation turns on you.



See? Told ya it sounded cool. So, if you can get to a store before they're all sold out, take a look and see if it's your kind of thing. With that, I need to be on my way. There's work to be done, and snowstorms to prepare for. But first...what are you Waiting for?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pleasantly Surprised by Your Failure to Disappoint Me

I'm not sure what happened during that magical transformation into the New Year, but suddenly, every geeky thing I do is enjoyable. By the end of 2010, I had become jaded about all of my favorite specific fandoms (Mega Man, Star Trek, etc.) and disappointed by my broader fandoms (video games and movies, especially). We're barely two weeks into 2011 and there hasn't been a single geek-related thing for me to complain about. And I'm very good at complaining.

As I discussed yesterday, I saw TRON: Legacy--a sequel to a movie that's been acceptably sequel-less for almost three decades--and enjoyed it as much as the original. Two of the three new computer games I've played so far this year are enjoying the prestige of a five-star rating on my Backloggery, an honor enjoyed by less than two dozen of the 500 games on my list. There's honestly not much more to report just yet, but that's an amazingly good start to the year.

Really, that's all I'm here to say. 2011 is off to a good start because I'm genuinely enjoying my fandoms, sans complaints, for the first time in I can't remember how long. Isn't that the way it should be?

Monday, January 10, 2011

TRON vs. TRON: Legacy

So you've seen TRON, Disney's 1982 sci-fi classic. Maybe you've seen TRON: Legacy, the 2010 follow-up; maybe you're hesitant to see it because of Hollywood's nasty habit of sullying the memories you treasured when they resurrect your favorite movies decades later. Either way, the question is the same: How do the two compare?

Though TRON: Legacy is, plot-wise, a sequel, the film itself is in many ways a remake of the original movie, updated for modern audiences. I'm no TRONaholic--I enjoyed the original movie well enough--so diehard fans of the first film should take this with a grain of salt: TRON: Legacy is on par with the original TRON, something that can't be said of many remakes and belated sequels.

TRON is a very dated classic, and TRON: Legacy is a worthy successor that improves on certain parts and doesn't deliver as strongly on others. It's suffient to say that I enjoyed them both about equally. Rather than give you a full-out review, which you can get from plenty of other sources who are more interested in the material, I'd like to compare a few of the elements that are present in both movies.

Retro or modern--who'll come out on top?


Seems like as good a place to start as any. I give credit to the original Recognizers for being ominous in their simplicity, and for neatly coming apart in pieces as though they were made of easily disassembled blocks. However, the new Recognizers are sleeker and, more importantly, more obviously functional. The original design always seemed like there was a lot of wasted material under the cockpit, but the new version shows that there's a use for all that excess.

Winner: TRON: Legacy

-Disk Arena-

In both movies, the Disk Arena serves as an introduction to the computer world's games. I like that there's a chance for character development in the original--Flynn doesn't initially realize the gravity of the situation, and the audience learns with the character what this place is all about. The sequel, however, capitalizes on the full action potential of the Light Disks, and wastes no time in doing so. I am easily won over by cool weapon battles and big explosions (or disintegrations), so there's really no contest here.

Winner: TRON: Legacy


The orignal Lightcycle battle was a simple video game concept translated onto film. The sequel updates the visuals, of course, and adds an extra layer of complexity with multiple levels of the playing field, but this time the opponents play dirty. I respect the creativity of, say, whipping out your Light Disk to sneakily take out another racer, but in a way that felt like a corruption of the simple exhilaration of what a lightcycle fight should be (which was probably the point). Both versions are cool, but I think I'd rather stick with all those tricky right angles.

Winner: TRON

-Solar Sailer-

I'm looking at two things here: the Solar Sailer itself, and the things that happen while the characters are on it. In both movies, the vehicle provides a respite for the characters, but there's a gorgeous sky for them to look at in the sequel, while the characters find themselves being chased in the original and need to execute a track switch and a high-speed getaway. Though I'm a sucker for a beautiful sky, the danger User-powered creativity in the first Solar Sailer scene win me over.

Winner: TRON


Though there's some overlap with the characters betwen the two films, there's a fundamental difference between them: TRON has a slew of minor and supporting characters, whereas TRON: Legacy has only a handful of people and programs with names. Not only does the sequel have more time to focus on characterizing the most important players, but it also has anything that was developed in TRON as a starting point. And, frankly, I was more interested in watching the somewhat dynamic characters of the sequel than the basic computer programs and annoyed-at-their-boss-counts-as-characterization humans of the original.

Winner: TRON: Legacy


The sequel has a score by Daft Punk that's part Inception, part modern video game with retro sensibilities. I'm pretty sure the original had music.

Winner: TRON: Legacy


I don't know if this counts as an "element that [is] present in both movies," but the original movie got pretty slow in some parts, mostly because (the way I see it) the film was really more of a chance to show off cool ideas and technology than anything else--if a scene wasn't building up to, showcasing, or cooling down from a snazzy visual feast, then it probably wasn't too interesting.

The sequel has a leg up on the original in this department because, at least on a first viewing, it's interesting to see how things have changed since TRON, even when nothing is blowing up. Plus, there's a lot less time spent watching people get from place to place, which is what slowed down the pace in The Hidden Fortress.

Winner: TRON: Legacy


OK, now I'm officially making up categories. The biggest selling point of the sequel is that it's flashier than the original--its charm is primarily in its dazzling special effects. The original, however, is an exploration of what a video game or the inside of a computer might look like if it were to come to life--its charm is in its creativity.

Yes, the graphics are heavily outdated, but they're true to the technology of the time, and there's something about the honesty and simplicity that helps to make the movie a classic. TRON: Legacy is a good movie because it builds on its source material in a stylish way; TRON is a good movie because it's unique and just plain fun. In an age where every action movie has state-of-the-art visuals, the original film, no matter how dated it may be, has more staying power because of its charm.

Winner: TRON


...So there you have it. TRON: Legacy wins, right? Only if the categories above are of equal weight. Charm goes a long way...but not enough to call this any more than a tie.

There's more to compare, and there's plenty to argue about, but these are the things that caught the attention of a guy who almost unprecedentedly enjoyed a movie sequel as much as the original. As someone who can scarcely be considered more than just a casual fan, that's good enough for me.

However, I do admit I missed the tanks. Those were pretty awesome.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Linking: Our Valued Customers

The best ideas are the ones where you look at something and say, "I can't believe no one has thought of that." Well, that was my first reaction when I came across the excellent blog, Our Valued Customers.

The site is run by an artist that works in a comic book store. As there are in almost every comics shop from here to OA, there are plenty of characters ...uh, customers...that walk into the artist's store on a daily basis.

And each of these customers says or does something...memorable.

So, to...memorialize...said actions, Our Valued Customers documents each case in a one-panel cartoon strip. Like I said--brilliant. And the strips are hilarious. And kinda scary.

But mostly hilarious.

I was given a head's up about this site by my buddy Gary, and I've been pretty much addicted to it ever since. I've passed the link on to several people, and they all have told me that they proceeded to open the link, and then kill the next 45 minutes or so, looking at each blog entry.

So, because I'm nice, and I wouldn't want any of you to spend your valuable work time endlessly checking out the site, I decided to post this up today, on Sunday. Go check it out. A warning, though, that the language is definitely not for the kiddies.

Go. Read.

-- -- -- --

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gaming By The Numbers

I officially have over 500 video games on my Backloggery. In other words, I either own, used to own, or have otherwise made a serious attempt at beating over 500 video games.

Breaking that down, my list includes about 5 games I borrowed, roughly 25 games I used to own, almost 70 I played on an emulator or online (but only the games I've reviewed in my Flash Flood column, to avoid unnecessary Backloggery bloating), and a whopping 400 that I own.

That last number should either seem pathetic compared to your collection, or wildly excessive. I'm a collector, you see, and after suddenly wanting to play Star Soldier and Blades of Steel several years after selling them off for pocket change, I made it a point to never get rid of any games, even if I was absolutely certain I would never play them again. If you've been an active gamer for two continuous decades and you can count on one hand the number of games you've traded in, 400 games really isn't all that big a number, if you do the math.

Looking at the numbers, that's 20 games per year. Let's assume I get five games per year as gifts--between birthdays and Christmas, that's pretty reasonable. That leaves me with 15 games a year that I buy on my own. One trip per month to the game store to pick up one or two items? Not bad.

Given that I gravitate toward older games whose prices have dropped by half (at least) since their release, let's say I spend $20 per game. Even in a big year where I pick up a few newer games, that's still $300-$400 I'm spending on video games per year. That's maybe two months, tops, of comics for an equally zealous comics fan. Considering video games are my pastime of choice, that doesn't seem that bad at all to me.

I acknowledge that not everybody has $300-$400 to blow on frivolous expenses every year, and that such a quantity of cash could be used for all manner of noble efforts. My only point in breaking down the numbers is to show that it may not be as insane as some people may initially believe to own the equivalent of 50% of the entire NES game library (including all the terrible games no one ever talks about).

Of the games on my list, I've beaten 60%, or about 240. Going by my numbers from before, that's 12 years of game collecting that hasn't gone to waste, and 8 years' worth of potential left to go (regardless of how long it might actually take me to beat the remaining games).

What's been particularly striking to me over the past few years is how much sway the numbers have had over my playing habits. I used to replay my favorite first-person shooters and SNES RPGs once every year or two, but I haven't touched them since some time in college, except to show them off to someone who hadn't seen them before. I've been too busy trying to finish more games than I buy so that my completion rate can increase. I've been too busy embarking on absurd sidequests to achieve the coveted Completed status on games I've merely beaten and won't ever want to play again after putting down.

On the one hand, it's terrific to experience so many new games, to find so many things I like, and to have so much geek reference material under my belt. On the other hand, every time I start up a new game I run the risk of jumping on board a 40+ hour mediocre experience that only reveals itself as such when I'm too invested to justify quitting. Especially when that fraction of a percent of my completion rate is at stake.

Thank goodness for Mega Man marathons and exposing other people to my favorite games--I think I need a regular dose of the old reliables to keep me sane if I have a string of bad luck with the new games I choose to play. Still, I feel that keeping track of my progress through my backlog has been a positive influence on my gaming habits, even if my mentality has shifted a bit.

500 games on my list, though. I don't know whether to pat myself on the back or have myself committed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Big Week

What a week!

Lots of major comics announcements--like DC releasing the scoop that Superman will be back from his walking tour of America and will return to the pages of his flagship title, Action Comics, with the landmark issue number 900.

That issues features an amazing David Finch cover (see below), and promises to be extra-sized and full of (sorry, I just can't help myself!) action.
There was also the news that Grant Morrison's now-mythical Flex Mentallo series--which was never released as a collection because of various legal issues--will finally be reprinted. This fall, we'll see a deluxe hardcover edition of the series that most comics fans know about, but have never read. (Mostly because no one's been able to get their hands on the thing.)

And, finally, there was the news that Marvel's Editor-in-Chief for the past decade-plus, Joe Quesada, will be moving full-time into his role as Chief Creative Officer at the company, and that longtime editor Axel Alonso will be taking his place.

And that's what I'd like to talk about for a bit today.

Quesada's run as EIC was, for me, the definitive run with the company because that's the era in which I started reading comics. And, I think like most people, i started by reading mainly Marvel and DC books.

I was definitely spoiled early on, as the quality of the writing and art at both companies in the 2000s was at an all-time high. And, in the case of Marvel, Quesada deserves a lot of the credit in that regard.

During his tenure, Quesada brought in big-name, non-comics people (like Kevin Smith and Stephen King) that helped gain attention from the mainstream press, but he also brought in relative no-names in the industry--formerly indy-only creators like Brian Bendis and Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker.

And those are now the names that shape Marvel--and, really, modern comics.

While I was still in school, I listened to a lecture/question and answer session that Quesada gave at MoCCA, and it was clear just how much comics meant to Joe.

As an artist, Quesada is one of the most dynamic pencillers in the industry, and his classic run with Kevin Smith on Daredevil brought that character back to relevancy.
But it's his eye for talent, and his willingness to try something out of the norm that will make Joe's run as EIC one of the best in the company's history.

He recognized the force that is Mark Millar, and the writer unleashed hit after hit on the comic book public. He allowed Grant Morrison to go wild on the X-Men, which culminated in one of the most memorable runs in those characters' history...and that's saying something.

Not since Stan Lee has an EIC been as fan-friendly as Joe, and his presence at conventions is always felt and always appreciated. He was the face and the voice of my Marvel Comics--in the years of Bendis and Millar and Jeph Loeb and Alex Maleev.

So, even though there's pretty much zero chance he'll ever read this--thanks, Joe.