“This moment will just be another story someday.” A Book Review with No Spoilers
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Lately, I have been asked what i thought about this book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I think the fact that the movie is coming out soon is behind the increased curiosity.
This is a straight forward YA novel, but Stephen Chbosky has made it so personal that you cannot help but connect to these characters. The protagonist, Charlie, is an innocent 15 year old boy who is trying to find his place in the world instead of observing from the edges. Read More…
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D’Art
In July 1890, Vincent Van Gough went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life… and then walk a mile to a doctor’s house for help? Who was the crooked little “color man” Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?
A magnificent “Comedy d’Art” from the author of Lamb, Fool, and Bite Me, Moore’s Sacré Bleu is part mystery, part history (sort of), part love story, and wholly hilarious as it follows a young baker-painter as he joins the dapper Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the supposed “suicide” of Vincent van Gogh.
Click to read what I thought.
Day One of the Kingkiller Chronicles: The Message
So as you may have seen previously I am reading the Kingkiller Chronicles Trilogy. I finished Day One yesterday and was so impressed with the whole story. Instead of recounting the story I thought I would tell you what I got from it. So yeah…. here we go.
Thar’ be spoilers ahead…
DVR Weekly: Sherlock Special
PBS’s airing of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s Sherlock. Three episodes over three weeks and now it has come and gone. So let’s talk about them shall we?
Keep in mind there will be spoilers.
Just to frame this a little: I did decide to wait for the PBS airing of the episodes rather than just torrenting the episodes, so a lot of this information has been floating around since January when it originally aired on BBC. While I am a fan of the character of Sherlock Holmes, my only experience of the original Arthur Conan Doyle writings are from teleplay adaptations on PBS and Guy Richie’s 2009 adaptation. Hit the jump to start reading about this series’ episodes.
Battle Royale: Game of Thrones Ep. 2.06
So as a trio, we enjoy getting together to watch certain shows. The current series we’re enjoying as a group is Game of Thrones. For those wishing to avoid spoilers of the books or who haven’t seen this week’s episode, avert your eyes.
Without any further ado, Game of Thrones Episode 2.06: The Old Gods and the New.
The amount of things that are being changed from the book interests me. So far, we lost Storm’s End and Edric Storm, and in this episode, we’ve lost Reek to the gods of adaptation. Granted, his true identity is mentioned as the Bastard of Bolton, but we’re bound to only see him take Winterfell. The occurrences surrounding Daenerys’ visit to the House of the Undying is changed. Only time will tell if it was for the better. Overall, a good episode. A first glimpse of Ygritte, and yet again the circumstances are slightly different. But those scenes were enjoyable.
The complaint I did have was the riot in King’s Landing, specifically the scene with the High Septon. It just seemed poorly directed. The crowd seemed more like zombies than unruly hellions. And yes, I know in the book they tore him apart, but in a show that is so consistently realistic, it just could have been better.
They have definitely started to rewrite the story or maybe I just do not remember it from power-reading I did over the summer. Either way while they are leaving some of the fans from the books a little disheveled, they are keeping the story fresh and different for everyone (still surprises to be had for someone who is caught up in the books).
I am a little on edge on whether I liked this episode or not. I mean it still keeps the story interesting, but the whole hour feels disjointed. As a person who was able to follow what was going in season one and knows the story of the second book, I am frankly lost as to where they are in the story. With so many different ideas being rewritten, it is hard to know how accelerated the show’s story has become. Now I have to wonder how Theon and Reek will interact, knowing that there is no subterfuge. The show’s budget is obviously to blame for most of this. Again, I hope it shows when it comes to the Battle of Blackwater.
On a positive note, the show continues to impress me with the location of their shoots. The frozen wasteland of the north is a great backdrop for the Night’s Watch. I especially enjoyed the chase scene between Jon Snow and Ygritte (Ygritte is pretty hot).
I think I must have asked Danny 5 or 6 times while watching this episode, “Was that in the book? I don’t remember this at all.” I understand that this show is not going to follow the book word for word, but I think some of the plot points they’ve changed are kind of important. Many minor characters are missing from Winterfell and they killed Sir Rodrik so early! Well, I will put my faith in the series to sort it out.
Was is just me or was this episode kind of funny? We finally get to see Ygritte and she is doing her best to get under Jon Snow’s skin the whole scene. Eventually he ties her up to make camp where they are forced to spoon to keep warm. “Stop Moving!” “I didn’t even realize I was doing it that time…” Another fun exchange was between Arya and Jaqen H’ghar; she is frantic trying to keep Tywin from learning she stole his correspondence and demands that Jaqen kill the messenger. The messenger dies in Tywin’s doorway without a word. Well… my synopsis leaves much to be desired, but I laughed when I watched it.
Daenerys is becoming so strong and her speech about how she is a special person was great. Although I think the choice to have her dragons stolen was a poor one. The character in the book had instilled enough fear and awe that no one would have been successful in stealing her children. Perhaps, I just want to think that though. As I said earlier… I am putting my faith in the series. What would happen to the Mother of Dragons amazing storyline without her dragons? This will be resolved in the next episode… right?
Well four episodes left… I am expecting big things!
Ka-Pow 101: Intro to Comic Books (for Adults) Pt. 1
I was recently talking to my girlfriend about comic books and realized that I’ve never seen a rule book to introducing comic books to an adult. I have a history with comic books. I got a box full at a young age and have been hooked ever since. Many of the stories that I’ve heard from other comic book fans start the same way: a relative bestows upon them the first treasured comics at a young age. I am not claiming this is the only way it happens, but in my own experience, it is the most common. But what about those who never experienced that magic moment in youth? How do they stumble into the dense and wonderful world of Kryptonians and super-soldiers? Here are a few helpful hints.
Let’s start with the vocabulary of comic books.
Comic books are generally published as single issues on a schedule (generally monthly) and generally known as “floppies” or pamphlets. Think of these as episodes of a TV series. You get one and wait for the next to continue the story. These are the most common formats for comic books. You’ll find them in your local comic shop, news stands, and some bookstores. In major bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, these will be stocked in the magazine section.
After some time, a group of issues are collected into a single book called a trade paperback (sometimes shortened to simply “trade”). Maintaining the TV comparison, this would be a season collected into a box set. When you stumble into the wasteland of a book store, these are categorized in a section labeled “Graphic Novels” (More on that later).
Now this is where it can get a little confusing. There are also other ways issues can be collected. Certain series can gain credibility and fame over time. If a publisher recognizes this, they may release special editions in various formats including paperback and hardcover. Some terms included in these special editions: Omnibus, Showcase, Absolute, and Premiere.
Let me go back for a second. There was a term I used not too long ago: Graphic Novel. This is a very vague term in the world of comic books. Graphic novels are defined by the dictionary as: a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book. It can be agreed that books like The Watchmen and Maus are graphic novels. However, there’s a certain qualifier lacking in the definition. As it is, all collected comics are considered graphic novels. But, this is where my own opinion comes in. I think graphic novels are a form of comic books, but not all comic books can be graphic novels. I think there should be a certain story structure to graphic novels that does not allow for the loose-threads of serialized comics. A book like The Watchmen is self-contained and does not require outside reading to understand the basic story. On the other hand, a book like The Death of Superman requires an understanding of many aspects outside the individual story including the Matrix Supergirl’s relationship to the fully-follicled Lex Luthor. But here’s the twist, a graphic novel can be serialized. I define The Sandman series as a graphic novel series because it is a fairly finite and self-contained. Again, I reiterate: this is my opinion. If in doubt, call it a graphic novel. I won’t hate you… much.
All right, that’s out of the way. Let’s continue with a look at story structure in comics. In the early days of comics, single issues would tell a full story. As two-part stories grew into sagas, a practice called decompression allowed for the prevalence of story arcs. Story arcs followed the story structure (beginning, middle, end) over multiple issues. The common practice is to run a story arc over six issues to ease the transition to trade.
Crossovers are common stories in comics. These refer to stories in which a character from one title appears in a book of another title (i.e. Superman appearing in a Batman book). This is not to be confused with a Team book, which groups multiple heroes together (i.e. Avengers). Crossovers can occur in single issues, or they can occur in multiple issues. They can also take place between two titles.
As crossovers became more popular and the stakes raised with multiple heroes, events became a staple in comics. Event comics mainly are either mini-series or crossover. These stories raise the stakes to global and even universal levels. They commonly feature multiple characters from various titles uniting against a common foe. In the case of Civil War and Avenger vs X-Men, they can also feature multiple heroes battling it out due to differing opinions of a certain catalyst.
With the evolution of events, tie-ins became necessary to explore characters and moments that can only be glimpsed in an event series. These tie-ins can be a mini-series created specifically for the event, or they can take place in titles featuring a specific character involved in the event.
And finally, let’s talk a little about titles, characters, and publishers. This is gonna be a little more free form, because it’s just clarifying a few confusing areas. First up, titles are very simply the title of the comic book. In super-hero comics, the common practice is to name the title after the protagonist. However, certain titles began as anthologies, which told various stories throughout the series. One major example of this would be Journey Into Mystery which began as a horror/mystery anthology series, but would later introduce and feature Thor and more recently, Loki.
I’m going to revisit the TV comparisons now as I talk about publishers. Each publisher is like a channel with different programming. There are two major publishers (commonly referred to as the Big Two) which dominate the market: DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Each contains its own stable of characters created throughout the years. DC’s stable of characters contains iconic heroes such as Superman and Batman, while Marvel consists of some of the more “modern” characters like Spider-man and Iron Man. They have titles (think shows) which they produce on a monthly schedule. There are other channels to watch besides NBC and CBS, so we also have other publishers. A few examples in no particular order:
- Image Comics – Walking Dead, Spawn
- Dynamite Entertainment – Robocop, Green Hornet
- IDW Publishing – GI Joe, 30 Days of Night
- Dark Horse – Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy
- Oni Press – Scott Pilgrim, Queen & Country
Now, I know what a lot of you are thinking: how does a vocabulary lesson get somebody started reading comics? It doesn’t. It’s a foot in the door. And this is only part one. In part two, I’m going to talk about how to introduce someone into the world of comic books and suggestions for books to start reading.