Ain’t that the truth…

This comic should be mandatory reading for every dipshit giving life advice on twitter.

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Survivorship bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.

 

I’m Batman

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We can learn a lot from Bruce Wayne. (stoic resolve, power of inter-generational wealth, honor, apprenticeship programes, the motivational benefits of a competent enemy and the power of a minimalist wardrobe)

Superman on the other hand… has no redeemable qualities.

Strange Fruit (Comic book)

A black Superman crashes to earth in a small Mississippi town in 1927. This is one of the most beautifully drawn comics I have ever read… and you should definitely check it out given the opportunity. Part of me wants to leave it at that…

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The other part of me wants to pick at scabs. Even though I know that never ends well.

As far as I can tell some people took some serious umbridge with this comic book. But let me break it down Barney style to make sure I’ve got this down right. You are really angry because an artist created content you didn’t agree with? (Well okay then)

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This is one of the comments from the damning WWAC review. (There are loads. But they are all pretty similar)

This is an excellent tear-down of this comic, and I certainly agree it should never have existed. It is, frankly, arrogant and offensive for a white person to pretend to be capable of telling the story of racism, especially by trying to include the perspective of black people experiencing it. The execution of it, from this review, sounds completely clumsy, too, with an awful hook for the story

You know who else didn’t like certain content and decided it should have never existed? The German student union circa 1933. (spoiler alert it didn’t end very well for the content). Also the last line leads me to believe you haven’t actually read the comic. Ha ha.

Sure, run down and critique the plot, the writing, the font, the artwork (if that’s your thing). But don’t embrace censorship and piss on the creators right to create any story they damn well please. I am big proponent of the first amendment and even if I had hated this comic I would defend the authors right to create it against every single one of you.

I really believe that Jones and Waid had nothing but good intentions when they wrote this comic. And yet there are those of you who are very quick to jump up onto a soap box ready to condemn and point out the perceived failings in others.

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I’m trying to think of another comic that got people so bent out of shape. I’m drawing a blank. For some reason I think about Magneto – Testament. I don’t remember Greg Pak getting uphill (nor should he have) because he is half Korean and therefore how could he objectively write a story about Auschwitz and the holocaust.

Read this comic. Think about how it makes you feel. You don’t have to like it or agree with it. But to say it should have never existed is a very slippery slope. Combating intolerance with your own intolerance is not the way forward. When did we start going so backwards on this?

I saw this on twitter the other day.

An annual reminder to everyone making stuff: For every random jerk trashing you online, there are thousands of people that quietly love you.

JG Jones and Mark Waid. I love you guys. Just wanted to let you know.

Scott Pilgrim (Comic book)

I know everyone has read this comic. This is less of a review. And more of a long laborious ode in which I proclaim my love for Scott… and therefore by association, Bryan Lee O’Malley. (I am not worthy)

If you have no idea who Scott Pilgrim is…  What the hell is wrong with you? (well, you were probably a jock at school, never played coin operated arcade games and never obsessed about a 486 and 16bit sound) I mean I don’t judge you. (okay… maybe I do… just a little bit)

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I’m listening to techno on my ridiculously oversize headphones.

Specifically James Brown is dead by LA Style (1991-92). I have to do this at work in secret because it would likely cause my wife to smother me in my sleep with a pillow. No written warnings. She’s a Seattle purist and would likely conclude I’d gone over to the darkside, from which there can be no absolution. She would leave me for Eddie Vedder. Chris Cornell is dead. So really, Eddie is the only real danger-man left to me. (although I feel relatively confident I could beat him in fisticuffs, if it came to that)

I like Rammstein. Probably my favorite band. Even their broad success and commercialism can’t sway me. But I also like Metric. Our wedding dance was Death Cab for Cutie…. after a minute or so the DJ stopped the music and I started doing the dance to  The Black Keys – Lonely boy. (I was subsequently joined by my wife and bridesmaids and all best men) We walked into the reception to Rollin’ (Air Raid Vehicle) by Limp Bizkit. (This should give you an idea what sort of wedding this was*)

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*I wanted her to walk down the aisle to the Imperial March… but that idea was veto’d**

**my idea to be married by a Yoda impersonator ‘Married you are’…. was also… unfortunately veto’d. (She has more veto’s than you might imagine any normal person would be allowed to have)

Anyways. I love the late eighties, nineties and early two thousands. I think this was the best time to be alive. (I am a little bias obviously). For me, the quintessential comic that wraps this all up is Scott Pilgrim.

Ready Player One (they play James Brown is dead in the night club scene in the book) and Masters of Doom has recently made me super nostalgic. I’m not usually nostalgic… but Ready Player One has had this weird effect on me. (Fuck me, this is a good audio book, I hope the movie does it justice)

Anyways, Me and Scott are BASICALLY simpatico. Ha ha. I empathize more with Scott Pilgrim more than any other literary character ever created. (well, more than any other character I can think of right now*)

*off the top of my head William Gibson’s Cayce Pollard might come second.

Last night I stayed up late (way past my bedtime) re-reading Scott Pilgrim one through three. I own physical copies of this graphic novel. Digital copies. I even own the soundtrack… on vinyl. This is how I roll.

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I was also in love with Ramona Flowers. Ramona Flowers and Jessica Rabbit. (Although to be fair I rarely thought of Ramona Flowers naked)

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The answer to this question is probably yes. And yes.

I can’t tell you how much I love this comic. Really, I just wanted to put this out there, so it is out there, in the internet. And can never be retracted.

Okko – Cycle of water (comic book)

Okko has been a favourite of mine for about a decade now. (It suddenly dawns on me that I’m advancing in years*)

*and still reading comic books.

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Okko is a French comic. Its written and illustrated by Humbert Chabuel (who goes by the nom de plume HUB) and then colored by Humbert Chabuel and Stephan Pecayo. Some lengthy period of time would pass after the French version was released and then eventually we would get an english translation. The release schedule was jerky, sporadic and frustrating. But since all four cycles are now available this has become a bit of a mute point. It published by Archaia Studios Press which stables another one of my favorites, Mouse Guard.

Okko follows the story of a Ronin-esque type demon hunter called Okko and his various misadventures. He is joined on his sojourn by his friend (maybe retainer is more apt) Noburo, a half demon warrior and a alcoholic monk called Noshin. The monk also gets an apprentice at the end of the first cycle.

The story takes place in a fictional realm called Pajan which mimics medieval Japan, specifically the Sengoku jidai period. Its meant for older audiences as it is often quite violent, bloody and features some nudity (sometimes all in the same panel). Which means twelve year old me would have LOVED it!

Older more discerning Joey likes Okko for a myriad of reasons other than the occasional display of boobs. It’s different from an American style of comic book. Not in a good or a bad way, it just has a different feel and flavor. I’ve heard Okko referred to as Franco-manga. (Which I thought was quite clever) It also has a lot more panels per page than your average Americana. (This makes it feel quite busy, but you get used to it quickly)

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It’s a very pretty comic and I really like the flow. It feels very cinematic and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I also like the world build. It feels very solid, with its own intricacy, depth and mythology. If do have a criticism is that this fantastic world only serves as a simple backdrop. You never get to peel back any of the layers. That’s partly due to the main protagonist, Okko, who is a gruff, humourless… monster killer. He doesn’t have time to fuck around and smell the flowers. In fact you never quite get to understand Okko or what motivates him. Which I thought was pity. HUB spent a lot of time and effort thinking about his world, it deserved more glory.

The Japanophile in me loves this series. But I think it would a appeal to someone who just wants to be entertained, read a cool story and look at pretty pictures.

Locke and Key (Comic book) 

A gateway drug has to be a considered choice. Some will vehemently argue the classics. The Killing Joke. Watchmen. Maus. Transmetropolitan. All fine titles don’t get me wrong. But one shouldn’t just mainline that stuff right into a beginners eyeball. Its irresponsible. You need to ease them in, similar in fact to boiling a frog. You can’t hit them with a sledgehammer like Maus and I’m pretty sure you have be hopped up on Psilocybin to appreciate Transmetropolitan on your first* read through. You should also avoid stuff thats been made into a movie, you don’t want contamination, so nothing mainstream. Definitely no Batman. Your gateway needs to have an amazing story, great hero characters and a dastardly villain. But its also needs to be beautifully drawn and have a great ending.

*First, seventh, whatever.

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Joe Hill is the pen name for Joseph Hillstrom King. The progeny of Stephen and Tabitha King. That should give you an idea about what sort of story this is. He wanted to succeed on his own merit and not because of who his father is, hence the nom de plume. Kudos to him. Joe writes and Chilean phenom Gabriel Rodriguez pencils and inks. Together they form the greatest duo since Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. We are NOT worthy.

The comic is quite dark. But not so dark that it will leave you disturbed, sleeping with the lights on and nursing your new found fear of circus performers and Saint Bernards. Its more like a really dark shade of gray.

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The story takes  place in a fictional New England county called Lovecraft. A homage to the master horror writer that brought Cthulhu Elder Gods fame. The Locke family return to their old ancestral home after a recent tragedy and from there on bad things ensue.  A mandatory requirement, great characters, is fulfilled by the deep, complicated protagonists, some of whom are deeply flawed. Even the supporting cast of characters is richly detailed. By the end of the series you feel like you know them all and you’re concerned by the nagging premonition that not all of them are going to make it.

The story ticks along nicely. When it began there’re was an agonizing wait between each comic being released (The series ran between 2008 and 2013). Now you can just buy the omnibus and binge read it all in one go. Therein lies its only real weakness. Being a comic book that was released bi-monthly you tended to pour over each release, finding all the nuances and re-reading each episode multiple times. It might lose something with a binge read. Still, I am confident in my recommendation.

It is the ending however that delights me the most. A lot writers tend to fluff their endings, bending towards weird finales that don’t seem to fit with everything they’ve crafted so meticulously up until that point. It’s like someone else swoops in and writes their final scene to appeal to some broad proletariat that would never have liked their work anyway. Locke and Key ends like it’s supposed to.

Comic books are a phenomenal medium for art and storytelling. Unfortunately many though beautiful suffer from an unforgivingly poor narrative. Others have a great story but look like they’ve been thrown together by a three fingered alcoholic with a crayon suffering from late stage Parkinsons. A vast swathe of comics straddle some form of middle ground between the two and meld into a giant sea of beige. All nondescript offerings that vaguely resemble each other, like songs on the Nickelback discography.

(For a while I ponder if that last paragraph violates my policy of not being mean. I decide to give myself a penalty for high sticking but rule that play should continue)

Locke and Key stands comfortably apart. It shows you what’s possible. And then leaves you wanting more. An exceptional gateway drug experience.