Friday, December 30, 2011

Some Christmas Scraps

In the spirit of the season, our pick this week at Thought Balloons is "The North Pole".  Somehow, even though I'd missed the last two weeks worth of picks, I ended up with tons of ideas for this one, so I figured I'd share my extra scripts here.  That way, it makes me feel like someone might see these extra efforts, and it gives me something to put up on what has become a rather sorrily updated blog.

The script I ultimately went with went up early this morning, so if you'd like, feel free to check that out here.  Otherwise, if you keep scrolling down, you can see a the other script that I wrote up but ultimately decided against posting over there.  So without further ado, here be said piece.

Dinner for Two

After the Christmas rush, Santa is taking an evening to thank Mrs. Claus for her unwavering support. Consequently, he has prepared dinner for her.

1 – Santa is pulling out a chair for Mrs. Claus to sit down at the table. The meal that Santa has prepared looks pretty delicious and wonderful. Mrs. Claus looks surprised and pleased. Santa looks expectant, hoping that Mrs. Claus will like what he's prepared.

MRS. CLAUS: Oh, Kris! You shouldn't have!

SANTA: No, Jess, it's the least I can do.

2 – Santa has taken a seat across from Mrs. Claus. She smiles at him. Santa looks somewhat earnest, explaining the importance of his actions.

SANTA: I know that my work keeps me rather busy, especially around this time of year, and I just wanted to express my thanks for your continued patience and understanding.

MRS. CLAUS: Oh, but I know that it's all for a good cause.

3 – Santa's earnestness continues. Mrs. Claus remains pleased as punch, casually ignoring his concerns.

SANTA: Even so, I wanted to show you a small token of my appreciation.

4 – Mrs. Claus has started eating. She is in the process of bringing some food to her mouth as she casually says her words. Santa blushes.

MRS. CLAUS: That's sweet of you, but you do that every day.

5 – Mrs. Claus puts her hand on top of Santa's. The two look at each other lovingly. No dialogue.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sticks and Stones

          And enjoy they did.
          It was golden.
          But, like all good things, it did not last.
          Edmund was beginning to consider actually remonstrating Kevlin, when a frenzied string of blasphemes emerged from the falls. To his utter disappointment, Kevlin realized that Jones had survived.
          Once Jones had sufficiently cursed Kevlin and his kith and kin – past, present, and future – he calmed down enough to explain that he had flown through the thick curtain of tumbling water and landed in a secret tunnel.
         With some difficulty, the rest of the group navigated their way through the falls as well.

It's been too long of a week.  Fortunately, tomorrow is Friday.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of work to do this weekend.  Oh well, c'est la vie.

Monday, November 21, 2011

They Say It's Golden

          After Jones had nattered about the maiden's many indiscretions for the better part of the day, Kevlin had had enough. Recognizing that he could no longer make good on his suggestion of throwing Jones from the clifftop, Kevlin nonetheless grabbed his abrasive ally and, before Edmund or Lennox could react, tossed Jones directly into the base of the falls.
          Jones had but a moment to express his displeasure before being swallowed by the raging waters.
          Edmund and Lennox felt as if they should probably censure Kevlin's actions, but instead, they decided to take a moment to enjoy the newfound silence.

So happy to be getting back into this swing.  The time I take to whip up these little vignettes is among the highlights of my day.  It's hard to understand why I bothered stopping.  Welp, better keep that in mind next time I'm not "in the mood".

Until next time, cats and kittens!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


           Attaining the falls' base didn't improve their prospects of finding the cavern's entrance.
           Jones had once known that admittedly pertinent detail, but the portion of the bawdy story where the comely maiden went into the cavern had been rather uninteresting, so he hadn't paid it much mind.
           The others weren't terribly impressed by this revelation.
           On the other hand, Jones had no difficult recalling, in explicit and rather disturbing detail, the many filthy acts the maiden had performed once inside the cavern. Although this was of little help to the group, he happily shared these details throughout their fruitless search.

It's happening, guys!  I'm back and I'm going to finish this story, come hell or high water.  This is probably a claim I've made before, but this time it's for real?

Anyways, I know that things can come up, but I fully intend to finish this guy up and do more writing after it.  These exercises are just that - exercises - and I have missed them.  Hopefully I will be able to bring the continuing adventures of Jones, Kevlin, Edmund, and Lennox to a satisfying conclusion for those of you who have been patiently waiting at home (please note: it should probably still be satisfying if you've been waiting impatiently).

Anyways, this took me a while.  But it was a good while.  I had to figure out what should happen next and get back into the swing of the story, two nice bits to really get the creative juices flowing.  Let's rock and / or roll.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Cereal Makes It Look So Simple

            Life can be busy. Very busy.
            Routine can be the best protection against the curveballs life loves to throw. But when things kick into high gear, even the strongest routine can fall short.
            And once a routine is broken, it's not an easy thing to mend. Getting back into the swing of things can be rough. Idleness, false starts, and frustration are often the order of the day.
            It can be hard.
            But that doesn't mean you give up. If it's important, you keep at it until you get it right.
            In brief: I'm back for more. Let's do this.

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Weekly Pull - October 5th

The second month of DC's New 52 brought with it some relief to my nearly depleted wallet, but somehow I still managed to spend an exorbitant amount of money.  It's as if I really like comics and continually manage to find new ones to spend all my hard earned cash on.  Kind of a problem, really.


DC Comics

Everyone Else
CHEW #21

A pretty big drop for Marvel, relatively speaking, but that's okay, because I'm absolutely in love with Mystic. I've been singing the praises of this book to anyone who will listen to me, and while I think you all recognize that it doesn't always take that much for a comic to win me over, Mystic is on a whole other level. As I said over at The Weekly Crisis, I feel like this book is akin to a classic Disney movie: it's a children's story, but it is really smart and can be appreciated just as much by an adult reader. Once the last issue drops, I will definitely be foisting this upon people I know. So watch out for that people I know.

Despite not having to buy all of DC's books for review purpose, I managed to get four of their new series. While I was happy to do so for Animal Man, O.M.A.C., and Batwing, Action Comics was a big let down for the main reason that I paid $3.99 for 22 pages of story. I hate doing that, and the only book where I'm really comfortable doing so is Amazing Spider-Man. It was especially maddening because I didn't realize the back part of the book was filler until I turned the last story page. Argh.

You'll also notice that I picked up the All-Star Superman trade, which was long overdue, as I didn't actually own this fantastic series until this week. I'll have to read through it again in the near future, but for now it can sit on my bookshelf, waiting for me to find the time.

Sweet Tooth kicked off a new story arc that was completely different from the rest of the series up until this point. Jeff Lemire jumped almost a hundred years back in time, changed his writing style, and brought in a guest artist to really insist on how dramatic of a shift it was. It's still too early for me to really say if the move was a success or no, but I appreciate the lengths he went to metatextually to support his story.

Apart from All-Star Superman, it was really the other companies that did me in this time around. I couldn't resist Kate Beaton's Hark a Vagrant (though I didn't actually get my copy until October 5th), and I had ordered Roger Langridge's "The Show Must Go On" months before. The same is actually true of Snarked!, which was a super cute comic by Langridge that was very much in a vein similar to his work on The Muppets, which I also enjoyed.

The rest of those books are mostly old standbys of mine, so it's not too surprising that I couldn't say no to them. Chew was, as always, wonderful. Reed Gunther #5 was a pretty solid conclusion to the opening arc, but it might also be where I get off. Will have to see what the solicitation for Reed Gunther #6 is like, I guess. Severed isn't actually that old of a standby, but I'm too busy buying everything Scott Snyder does (with the exception of Swamp Thing, which didn't really grab me) to not pick it up. And finally, Skullkickers was hilariously great, which is exactly what I was expecting. Awesome.

With that, we're one step closer to catching up to my present-day comic buying habits. They're still in a bit of flux, but I think I'm making strides to reigning it in. At least sometimes.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Weekly Pull - September 28th

The fun adventure never ends!  This time, we get to look at the books I picked up to close out September, and I gotta say, I was feeling particularly exhausted at this point.  DC's New 52 had been going for too long and I'd been reading too many poor to middling books, so I was feeling rather burned out.  The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that it would soon be over and that I could complain about how terrible these books were to a wide audience.

But enough about me, let's look at the books, shall we?

FF #9

DC Comics

Everyone Else

Sigh.  It's just too many DC books, and not nearly enough good ones...

Anyways, at least Marvel was kind to me this week, offering four different titles that I totally dig.  Spider-Island madness continued with Amazing and Venom, both of which were wonderful.  I've loved every moment of Brubaker and Samnee's Captian America & Bucky work.  And while I've been back and forth about FF, the ninth issue was quite the treat, so that was a plus.

Severed was a treat.  I'm really enjoying Snyder's slow build on this one.  Duke Nukem is maybe one of the most ridiculous books I've had the pleasure of reading.  It's perfectly in line with the tone of the book: hyperviolent, full of cuss words, and offensive as hell.  Love it.

American Vampire, as always, was stellar, and I enjoyed Flash, although it wasn't quite as exciting as I had hoped it would be.  Aquaman, All Star Western, and Justice League Dark had their moments, but none of them were good enough to get me back for a second issue.  Everything else was a pretty big letdown.

Superman was way too wordy and boring to boot.  Teen Titans had some early promise, but lacked any real sense of direction.  Batman: The Dark Knight had bad art art, worse writing, and was like every other Batman story that's ever been told, except that this one was really cruddy.  Blawkhawks was interesting, but didn't do enough to separate itself from the dozens of other books that came out that month.  Green Lantern: New Guardians was almost interesting, except for the fact that there are three other Green Lantern books coming out at the same time.  I, Vampire was just confusing.  Savage Hawkman actually started really strong, but then ended with the main character "dying", which I can't abide.  Fury of Firestorm was actually a huge disappointment, with none of the signature Gail Simone writing that I was looking forward to.  And finally, Voodoo was terribly offensive, acting as a pathetic excuse to draw women in compromising positions.


Fortunately, next post will be October, where I was finally able to purchase only books that were worth a damn.  Unfortunately, the restraint I was looking for didn't quite come with that returned freedom.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Weekly Pull - September 21st

We continue our whirlwind tour through my comic book buying habits by looking at week 3 of September.  The DC Reboot was really in full swing at this point, and I was starting to get real tired of reading all these books.  Seriously, way too many of them sucked or were straight up mediocre, which when you're reading 52 books, might as well be the same as sucking.

Marvel Comics

DC Comics

Everyone Else

From Marvel, I totally dug Daredevil, which isn't any surprised, as Marcos Martin is just as amazing as Paolo Rivera on art, so the trade was pretty wonderful.  Mark Waid's writing continues to blow me away as well.  Nick Spencer and Emma Rios continued to do some fantastic things on Cloak and Dagger, although the second issue wasn't quite as tight as their first.  Spider-Woman wasn't quite as exciting, acting as yet another instance to make me question whether I think Fred Van Lente is as great of a writer as I thought he was.  Seriously, the guy absolutely killed it with his Taskmaster mini last year, but everything I've seen since this has been rather regular.  Not bad, but not nearly as great as Taskmaster was.  Could it have been a one time thing?  Only time - and potentially me getting burned once or twice more - will tell.

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man was actually an illustrated children's book written by Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which is what got me on board.  The story was really cute, though obviously far more appropriate for a child reader than for myself.  It definitely made me want to share it with potential future children of mine.  That or find a present child and give it to them.  We'll see how that one plays out, I guess.

Game of Thrones was completely terrible.

Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as terrible as most of DC's books for this week.  I'll spare you most of my displeasure and focus on the books I actually liked for the moment.  Scott Snyder's Batman was amazing, which is completely unsurprising considering his amazing run on Detective Comics.  It's a bit lighter than Detective, which is nice change of pace.  And Brian Azzarrello and Cliff Chiang did what I thought they would and created a great Wonder Woman comic.  I can't wait to read the second issue.

I liked Blue Beetle, but looking back on it, I liked it less in retrospect than I initially thought I did.  We'll see how issue 2 plays out.  Supergirl wasn't bad, but it wasn't good enough to warrant buying a second issue.  Unfortunately, the same can pretty much be said for almost every other issue that DC dropped this week.  Well, DC Universe Presents just sucked.

Red Hood and the Outlaws fails for rebooting Starfire not even as a person, but a female object who only wants to have sex.  Catwoman fails for a similar reason, in that is just had a ton of cheesecake shots of Selina throughout, climaxing (pun intended) with her fornicating with Batman on the final page.  It was pretty terrible.

That being said, the absolute worst book of the week, and the entire month for DC, was Legion of Super Heroes.  The entire "New 52" was supposed to be a big reboot to bring in new readers, which is all well and good, except for the fact that Legion was completely unreadable.  It feels like it picked up in the middle of a storyline, and the entire thing was completely undecipherable.  I came out of the issue wondering what the hell had just happened, but not at all caring.  Sigh.

Anyways, the problem isn't that I didn't read any good comics (I read a bunch), the problem is that I read a bunch of terrible ones - and paid way too much to do it.  We'll see that this didn't change much for the last week of September, but there could be an upswing in the near future.

Riveting stuff, I know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Weekly Pull - September 14th

As you can see below, the second week of September only got worse.  While I was still buying an exorbitant number of DC Comics, my Marvel crop managed to balloon with a potent combination of series ending, beginning, and a glut of Spider-Man books. 

Marvel Comics

DC Comics

Everyone Else

The worst part about the sheer volume of Marvel titles is that they were all great.  I'd be happily following Mystery Men and Criminal for the better part of the summer, and their finales lived up to the expectations created by those earlier issues.  I've been a huge sucker for Spider-Island titles, but that is partly because they're all so damn good, and this week's crop was no exception.  While this Spider-Girl mini hasn't grabbed me quite as strongly as the short-lived series from earlier this year, it's still a fine read.  Ultimate Spider-Man was great, although I dropped the title due to the fact that they were charging $3.99 for 20 pages, which I just can't get behind.  The only title I wasn't completely sold on was John Carter.  As much as I love Roger Langridge, I just couldn't get into the story that he was adapting.  That being said, Mark Waid's Daredevil has been, and continues to be, pure magic.

DC was a lot less rosy, to be certain.  I bought way too much and way too few of those books were worth a damn.  Of course, American Vampire, Scalped, and Unwritten, my Vertigo books of choice, were all amazing, but the same could not be said for the main DC books.  I was rather partial to Batwoman and Demon Knight, and while Frankenstein didn't grab me quite as strongly as I would have expected, I was generally pleased with that book.  The problem was everything else.  Pretty much every other title DC came out with this week completely blew, which is still rather disappointing, although it is a relief to my wallet in the long run.

Special kudos must go to Legion Lost #1, which was the worst comic I read this week.  I thought that it would be the worst comic of the relaunch, but the month was yet young and DC still had a lot of trash to release.

My purchases from the other companies were relatively satisfactory.  Baltimore is signature Mignola, so I'll be there come hell or high water.  I must confess to really enjoying Gladstone's, but I don't know if I can rationalize continuing to purchase the book when I'm buying so much else.  I hate to say it, but I might be done with that one.  As for that last title, The Man Who Grew His Beard is a fascinating collection of short comics from a single creator that I still haven't had time to read all the way through.  To be honest, I picked it up based on title alone, as I've been meaning to write a story about beards for a long while (as evidenced by one of my earlier 1C100W entries).  Still trying to find time for that one, too.

So this posting wasn't necessarily the creative entry I was hoping for when I said I'd be updating this site a bit more often, but it is nice to just put a straight summary of how my comic book reading was for a particular week.  Look for another one of these soon.  If luck holds, we'll eventually catch up to the present day and I'll have to find something else to write about.  Or so goes the theory.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Weekly Pull - September 7th

Below you can find the terrible beginnings of what I like to call "my month of buying way too many comics."  It's not a terribly catch title, but as you can see, it's hauntingly accurate.

Marvel Comics
MYSTIC #2 (OF 4)

DC Comics

Everyone Else

The Marvel purchases are within the realms of sanity, and I really dug all of those books.  Like, really, really dug them.  I was going to say which one was my favourite, but they all rank pretty well.  Mystic has been a phenomenal series that I wish more people were reading, I've been enjoying Punisher like it's nobody's business, and Spider Island is one of the best events I've read.  Ever.

The titles from the other companies are also pretty reasonable.  Godzilla has been an alright romp, although I'm losing a bit of interest as it limps towards its finale.  Morning Glories is fascinating, but if I'm going to continue buying it, I'll have to move to getting it in trade, because individual issues do virtually nothing to explain what's going on (frankly, I just read issue #13, and the answers still aren't really coming).  Reed Gunther is one of the best children's comics coming out right now.  And Atomic Robo is the best comic coming out right now.

The problem comes when you move to my DC list.  For The Weekly Crisis, I figured I could read through every single one of the New 52 that came out in September, and this is one of the worst decisions I've taken in a while.  Long story short, I read and reviewed all 52 of those titles, and there was only one that surprised me in a positive manner.  There were a ton of books that disappointed me, but only O.M.A.C. turned out to be better than expected.  And while I really like O.M.A.C., it was not worth looking at all those other awful books.  Never again.

There's also the problem that buying those books wasn't too kind to my wallet.  He's still a little upset by the whole thing.

Excuse the Mess

Hello?  Is anyone still out there?

It's hard to say at this point, and of course, the fault lies squarely on my shoulders.  I've been a busy bee writing on a regular basis for thought balloons and The Weekly Crisis (the 52 Pick Up stuff for Septebmer was especially time consuming), but the biggest reason for my complete forsaking of this blog is the fact that I'm once again employed full-time.  And getting into the groove of the new job has made balancing things a little challenging.  Unfortunately, the aforementioned writing responsibilities had to take precedence (especially 52 Pick Up once again), since I was invited to join both of those sites, while the Thought Wrangler was mostly for me.

Anyways, long story short is that I'll hopefully be able to manage putting things up here with a bit more regularity in the coming weeks.  It probably won't be the same frequency as what I was doing this summer, but it will definitely be more often than the never that I've been doing of late.

Since I know that there aren't all that many people who frequent this site (if any, at this point), one of my first orders of business will be to put up all of the Weekly Pull postings that I've skipped these past few weeks.  I might add a bit of commentary, but in general it will be "ouch."  I've been buying way too many comics of late, so hopefully adding this back into my routine will help me restrain myself a bit.  But who knows?

Either way, I hope you'll excuse the mess as I try to get this site back in order.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Weekly Pull - August 31st

So finally coming to the end of the busiest week ever.  Bought all my new business clothing, moved into my new place, and started some exciting articles for September at the Weekly Crisis, and starting my new job tomorrow morning.  In all the hubbub, I totally forgot to do my continually less relevant Weekly Pull article.

Rectifying that oversight now.



DC Comics

Other Companies

A relatively light week, but that's mostly because DC only published two comics (both of which I bought, you'll note).  I've given my thoughts on both of the titles over at TWC here and here (you can also see short reviews for Secret Avengers and Journey Into Mystery at the latter link).  Suffice it to say, they were pretty good.  Flashpoint was actually infinitely better than I would have expected, and I would go so far as to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Spider-Man was amazing as always (ha!).  Seriously, Dan Slott is killing that title.  I don't like paying 3.99 for a 22 page comic book, but he makes it worth my time and money, so I can barely complain.

I keep buying Butcher Baker, and I keep enjoying the experience, but I'm never quite sure what it is I like about it.  I should really sit down and figure that out at some point.  Maybe write a review of an arc or something.  It'll happen one day, maybe.

Also, I feel the need to reemphasize how amazing Skullkickers is.  I discovered this book by accident when Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics linked to it a few weeks before it released.  Picked it up on a whim and have loved every moment of it.  It's a fantasy book with a healthy mix of Dungeons & Dragons mentality thrown in for good measure.  The plots are always exciting, and the book is always hilarious.  Cannot recommend it enough.

Unfortunately, I have decided that I'm going to buy all 52 of DC's new comics coming out this month, so the small list you see here will be a thing of the past (at least for the new four weeks).  Expect my next column to have twenty-plus comics.

Thank god for that new job...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nowhere to Go But

          They forgave him, of course.
          More accurately, Edmund and Lennox forgave him. Kevlin refused, but his voice of dissent was overruled.
          The matter technically resolved, they descended the tunnel. The group's survival was possible only because of Lennox's impressive strength and heretofore unknown climbing abilities. Where Edmund was too old, Jones too tired, and Kevlin too brash to maintain proper grips throughout the descent, Lennox was able to catch them each and every time they fell, preventing what would have otherwise been their untimely deaths.
          The foot of the falls achieved, everyone was certain to thank Lennox.
          Repeatedly and profusely.

So tired.  In the midst of moving I didn't really think I would have all that much time for writing, but after stressing out a bit over packing, I'm really happy I set aside some time to compose this next part of the story.  The process of figuring out what the group would do next and how they would manage it was really relaxing.  Took my mind off all the work I have ahead of me tomorrow (le sigh) and gave me a nice little sense of accomplishment.

I remember way back when that I mentioned I would sometimes talk about what I was thinking or trying to do with the pieces I put for "1 Character 100 Words" (a name that is becoming less and less accurate as time goes on).  I haven't done it all that much of late, but let's see if I can't provide a bit of insight into this one.

I think my original intention of focusing on a particular thing to work on in each and every piece has been forgotten a bit in the pursuit of creating a complete story out of this tale.  Or, perhaps more accurately, what I'm focusing on has changed a bit.  While I spent the early stories trying to write in a certain style or practice describing a certain scene, I've been more insistent on trying to make sure that each piece is complete and moves the story around in one way or another.

This time, I wanted the group to get to the base of the falls (duh), but I also wanted to put at least some of the spotlight on Lennox.  He hasn't done all that much thus far, but I really like the character.  I struggled a bit with why the others wouldn't be all that great at climbing, but I think this worked pretty well.

Anyways, that's enough navel-gazing for me.  If you have any thoughts you're wanting to add, don't hesitate to leave a comment.  Otherwise, enjoy this latest part in the Four Adventurers continued adventure.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurrah for Happenstance

          He'd found a secret passageway.
          It had happened quite by accident. Trying to scamper off while his companions slept, Jones had walked into a tree, unable to see it in the darkness. He realized it was hollow when he fell through it, tumbling down into the hidden tunnel underneath.
          Its declination was about as steep as the cliff face, but it was marginally safer. Indeed, after many awkward and painful falls, Jones found himself at the foot of the falls.
          Climbing back up wasn't much easier, but he imagined that this discovery would probably make up for his earlier indiscretion.

I'm really glad to be back in the swing of things.  I continue to have a ball with these fortunate heroes.  My obstacle for their continued progress turned out to be a bit easier to solve than initially thought, but at least it was kind of challenging for Jones.  We'll see if the rest of the party is as capable (read: most likely yes).

Either way, I hope you continue to enjoy this little yarn.  It's getting towards the moment that initially inspired the telling of the tale.  I'm especially excited for that.  Should be good.

My Weekly Pull - August 24th

As we quickly move towards the last week of August, I'd like to take a moment to take a look back at what I picked up last week.  So let's do that.

FF #8

DC Comics


Other Companies

As always, you can find my previews for these books here, and my thoughts on a few of them here.

Following those links, you'll notice a few things.  Firstly, Skeleton Story #5 is not in my Preview column.  That is not at all a comment on the book (which I absolutely adore), but more a consequence of renown.  Skeleton Story's publisher, GG Studios, is kind of super small, and I couldn't find any solicitations for their forthcoming books.  Consequently, I couldn't find a cover or any information about the book online.  It's really a shame, because it means that fewer people will know about what is possibly one of my favourite books coming out right now.

As far as I can tell, this is actually a reprint / translation of a story that was originally published in Europe (in Italian, as far as I can tell), but that doesn't take anything away from it.  The translation works pretty well, but more importantly, the art is mind-blowingly good.  It's absolutely beautiful and unlike anything else coming out in North America.  So there might be some mild hyperbole there, but take a look at one of the pages I found on GG Studios' deviantArt account (click to embiggen).

That's just a random page from the first issue (with the original Italian in tow), but it still looks amazing.  The images are cartoonish, but done with all the care of a painting.  The character designs are awesome, and the panel layout is surprising.  I love the hell out of this book and wish that more people knew about it.

The week as a whole was incredibly good.  The weakest book I got was probably Batman Inc. #8 (as explained at the Weekly Crisis), and even it wasn't all bad.  Just super weird.  Gates of Gotham #5 surprised me by regaining my waning interest in the book.  A solid ending.  Project Superman had the same.

I could continue by giving you a laundry list that would repeat all the titles I listed above with a few words explaining what it was I liked about them, but I'll spare you that this time around.  Suffice it to say, the books you see above are some good ones.  If you aren't reading them, you should try to get your hands on them one way or another.

This month we have the highly anticipated arrival of the DCnU, which could really go either way at this point.  It's hard to say whether it will be good, bad, or simply mediocre.  I imagine it will be some combination of all three, but the question will be how much of each possibility it will be in the end.  We shall see.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


          When they awoke the next day, Jones was gone.
          Kevlin was furious. He could not believe that the cowardly thief had scampered off while they slept. He loudly intoned that it was a shame that they hadn't thrown Jones from from the cliff the night before like he had suggested.
          Kevlin cursed Jones throughout the morning. He cursed him while firemaking for breakfast, he cursed him while making breakfast, and he cursed him while eating breakfast.
          Kevlin was so busy cursing him that he didn't notice when Jones emerged from a hidden opening in a nearby tree, battered and bruised.

And with that, we're back in business!  Things are getting busier and busier on my end, so the daily posting that I tried to maintain for August probably won't be able to continue, but I'll still try to get up these short stories as often as I can.  And if I have some time / inspiration, any number of other things could show up on this blog.

Only time will tell, so let's see how it all shakes out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Going Back on my Word

So that claim about no more delays?  Perhaps given a little hastily.  It looks like I will not have time to put anything up today in the way of stories, and I apologize for that.  If you're dying for some wonderful words penned by yours truly, you could always give a look at the latest article up at The Weekly Crisis, where the team (including myself) give their thoughts on some of the comics coming out come November.

If that's not quite your style, I'd invite you to swing by thought balloons to take a look at all the Riddler scripts we have up this week.  I must say, I've been blown away at the quality of some of these pieces.  Not because I doubt my fellow thought ballooners (perish the thought), but because I was unsure about the character.  But everyone has brought their A-game and then some, making for some great reading  My script will be going up later tonight (4 am), so if you're wanting to give it a gander, you'll have to wait for tomorrow.

But fear not, I'll be back soon, and I'll bring some fresh words organized specifically with The Thought Wrangler in mind.  Believe you me.

A Complication

          And then Jones mentioned that the cavern's entrance was actually at the base of the Falls. The others weren't terribly impressed that he had kept that detail to himself.
          Their first concern was convincing Kevlin not to beat Jones to death, a task made all the harder when Lennox started to come around to the idea. Ultimately, cooler heads prevailed, and it was decided that Jones could live. For the moment.
          The group then focused their attention on how best to descend the falls. Kevlin's suggestion of throwing Jones off the cliff to gauge its height was rejected as impractical.

I figured that things had been going (relatively) smoothly for our plucky adventurers, so why not throw a wrench in the gears?

Now I just need to figure out how they'll overcome this problem.  Writing by the seat of your pants can be challenging when you purposefully make it more difficult for yourself.  Hopefully I can come up with something by tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Falls

          It was as if they had found the edge of the world. They stood at a precipice so tall that its bottom was impossible to see. They stood next to a river so immense that it could have easily been confused for a lake were it not for the current's furious pace and the water's sudden terminus where it rushed over that very precipice. The torrent flew from the world with a deafening speed, plummeting into forever. Eventually, it was swallowed by a massive, billowing mist far, far below.
          No one could say how long they stood there in silence.

I'm sorry to everyone who has been waiting on the next installment of "The Four Adventurers" (as I'm apparently calling it now).  I was really put off-track by my vacation this weekend and was simply unable to figure out how to do this part yesterday.  I'm not sure if I'm 100% happy with this description of the Falls, but that is alright.  This whole adventure (both of these four figures and the 1 Character 100 Words experiment) is to practice, practice, practice, and that is certainly what I have been doing.  And that does make me happy.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when these crazy cats do something more than look at massive descriptions!

...if we're lucky.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Weekly Pull - August 17th

Just back from a nice little vacation, so this one is a little later than usual, but as I've mentioned before, these posts are as much for my benefit as anyone who is willing to read through them.

Anyways, compared to some of my previous weeks, I barely bought any comics at all this time around.  Try as I might, there simply weren't that many series that I followed / was interested in trying out.  Consequently, I have a pretty sparse list for this past week.

Marvel Comics


DC Comics

Image Comics

As mentioned in my reviews, Batman was a complete bust, Power Girl was a fun read, and Daredevil continues swimmingly.

As for the other books, both Spider-Island tie-ins were great.  Spider-Girl picked up right about where Paul Tobin left off with his recently-cancelled ongoing series, and Venom had a quality story and an interesting revelation that could have some big impacts on the main title.

Finally, Gladstone's was really good.  My interest had been waning a little bit, but this last issue was really enjoyable.  Really, it was just a study session between all the kids, but it was pulled of perfectly.  There was even a wonderful page offering what I assume is the writer's feelings on the importance of comic books that was quite eloquently stated.  Of course, it also had a great joke to follow it up, giving a good amount of tongue in cheek.

A light week on my part, it looks as if things will be ramping up again come this Wednesday.  Feel free to check out The Weekly Crisis for my thoughts on those books tomorrow, and if we're lucky, stay tuned to this page for the next installment of our heroes' quest, which should continue without interruption until its conclusion (whenever that may be).

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Journey (Not the Destination)

          They left immediately.
          Their trek was far from an easy one. The Falls were half a world away, and the lands in between were barren and inhospitable. They crossed scorching deserts, dark forests, freezing tundra, and countless other treacherous terrains. Yet they trudged on, sustained by their dreams of the riches that awaited.
          Long after their departure, just as it was beginning to seem as if they would never arrive, they did. What they saw was staggering. No book could have prepared them for the sheer size of Cloudburst Falls. They seemed to exist on a scale that defied comprehension.

This took way too long.  Need sleep.  Good night.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Breakthrough

          Jones figured it out in the end.
          Unlike his more conscientious companions, he stopped looking by the end of Day Two. While they poured over every codex, folio, and compendium they could find, Jones was casually leafing through less seemly materials.
          He had always enjoyed a good bawdy tale, and each library had more than its fair share of vulgarity for him to peruse. Eventually, he happened across one particularly steamy story involving a comely maiden and a certain cavern of untold wealth that was located near Cloudburst Falls.
          Haphazard searching proved far more valuable than they had thought possible.

I know I said I was enjoying this yesterday, but I'm really enjoying this now.  I had quite a fun time coming up with the method of discovery.  It seemed far to easy and boring to have dedication pay off, so I thought why not have do-nothingness take the day?  And so here we are.

This tale also has the first named member of our little band of heroes (if you can call them that).  Say hello to Jones!  He's pretty alright sometimes.  When he feels like it.  The rest of the time, he's not up to much good, but the other three let him stick around for some reason.  I'm sure they'll figure it out eventually.  Well, maybe not.

Either way, thanks for stopping by to follow the continuing adventures of our current protagonists.

Next: they continue to do stuff! (probably)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Search Begins (Or, A Needle in a Haystack)

          Unfortunately, wanting a treasure and attaining it are far from the same thing.
          Although they were wholly convinced of the existence of the cavern, they knew little beyond that. What scant references they had amassed offered no hint as to where their prize would be found.
          They soon realized that their haphazard searching was not going to yield the location they so eagerly sought. In consequence, they travelled the great libraries of the realm, scouring their overflowing stacks for any book that might have a scrap of relevant information. They spent many mucid, mildewed, and mundane months in this endeavour.

I'm really enjoying this little fantasy yarn.  I have a moment that I'm building towards, but everything that's coming up in between is coming to me as I go along.  We'll see what obstacles await our intrepid seekers in the days to come.  If we're really lucky, we might even find out their names!  Anything is possible in the wonderful world of writing!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Four Adventurers

          The four adventurers first heard of the Cavern of the Glittering Sea years earlier, stumbling across an ancient tome that spoke of it while they were sacking an evil aberration's keep. At first, they had dismissed it as nothing more than the imaginings and folktales of some forgotten people, but they continued to find references to the fabled cavern, making them less and less certain of their initial scepticism. While the details often conflicted, all of the tellings agreed that there was an immense underground chamber somewhere in the realm that housed unimaginable wealth. Wealth that they desired for themselves.

So I was playing Dungeons & Dragons yesterday.  Can you tell?

While the adventure my friends and I currently pursue is rather different than the above tale, this is certainly inspired by the stories of fantasy and heroism that are so common in pen and paper roleplaying games.

As you may have noticed, I've been getting into the habit lately of continuing some of my stories from earlier posts.  Well, I think I'll take it one step further and write myself a little tale about these adventurers and their cavern that will be told over the next few days in 100 words snippets.  I initially started these 1 Character 100 Words postings to practice and experiment, so experiment we shall.

I hope to see you back here tomorrow for the next part of this epic quest, whatever form that may take.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Victory In The Preparation

          “Stay back!”
          Amos drew his blaster pistol from its holster as the group of Rannian thugs approached. Most of them stopped. He nervously pointed the device at the one who kept walking.
          The creature paused for a moment, looked at the blaster, and smiled, its mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth.
          “I mean it! I'll blow a hole right through you if you take one more step.”
          Hands shaking, Amos pressed the barrel into the smirking Rannian's chest. The Rannian brushed it aside without a second glance.
          “You'd have a lot better luck making that hole if your gun was charged.”

I wrote this while struggling to work on some other projects of mine.  Can't find all the answers I need (for the other project) at the moment, so I figured I'd write a little space vignette that doesn't necessarily need answers.

Poor Amos.  We hardly knew ye.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Or Was It?

         That's odd.
         I could have sworn that Keith saw me. But that can't be right, because he definitely would have held the door if he had. We always have the nicest conversations while we're heading up together. I can't imagine he would want to skip that. I know I always look forward to our chats.
         And here I was going to ask if he wanted to come by my place this weekend to watch the game. I know he mentioned that he followed hockey, so I figured he would be interested.
         I guess I'll ask when I see him tomorrow.

So if you've somehow managed to read this before going through Worst Morning Ever, you should probably go read that.  It will help this one make a bit more sense.

Don't worry, I'll wait.


Okay, got it read?  Glad to hear it.

Here we have ourselves an alternative take on that fateful morning.  Perhaps it wasn't as bad as Keith thought?  It certainly appears that Jim would happily forgive what he has accurately deduced to be an accident.  However, maybe Keith is better off avoiding Jim.  Based on their different perspectives, Jim seems like kind of a weirdo...

My Weekly Pull - August 10th

Wow.  I literally bought all the comics this week.  It's ridiculous how many issues I came away with.  In fact, there were a few issues that I'd missed out on in earlier weeks, so this is actually just a partial list.  As always, you can check out my thoughts of anticipation of each issue here, while my reviews for a handful (5) of the books can be found here.

Now let's look at that list, shall we?


DC Comics

Other Companies

This is perhaps the most comics I have ever bought in a single week.  All told, I picked up 17 comics this week.  In that total, I have three numbers 1s and six concluding issues.  Everything else is something in between the two, I suppose.

I already raved about Cloak & Dagger over at the Weekly Crisis, but that book is just too good to not continue talking up.  You should be buying it.  Nick Spencer and Emma Rios are both great creators, and they are at their best in this book.  I've loved Nick Spencer's T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents and Morning Glories (both of which I also picked up this week - they were both excellent), but this might be the best thing I've read by him.  And Rios's art is simply out of this world good.  I want all comics to be so well drawn and so creatively composed.  Just looking at it makes me feel inspired.

American Vampire is as good as always, which is unsurprising considering how talented Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy are.

On the Flashpoint note, Frankenstein continued to be as good as always, while The Flying Graysons disappointed just as I imagined it would.  It's too bad that series couldn't keep up the momentum it had going with issue #1.  I guess J.T. Krul just couldn't manage it.

I really enjoyed issue #0 and #1 of Alpha Flight, but I'm starting to have my doubts about this series.  One of the things I enjoyed the most about it was the high degree of verisimilitude it has had.  And for a book about Canadian superheros whose secret base in underneath Parliament Hill, that's saying something.  Everything that was happening seemed like it was based in reality and it was clear a lot of research had been going into the book.  However, this issue was a definite step down in that department, as it spent a lot of time on the streets of Ottawa, and sometimes I questioned whether the artist had ever seen the city or even looked at Google Street View for longer than six seconds.  The skylines left a bit to be desired, especially in the area around Parliament.

The worst offense, however, was a scene that took place inside Centre Block.  It was the Prime Minister scrumming in the House of Commons Foyer, but it was one of the worst depictions of the Foyer I could imagine.  It had the general idea that there were arches of some type and that the walls had a general pattern of laid stone; however, the colouring was completely off, making the interior resemble a medieval castle.  I was waiting to see a sconce hanging on the wall.  Additionally, there was a portrait hanging on the wall, but it was clearly not a former Prime Minister (and definitely not Mackenzie King or sir Robert Bordon).  Yes, I'm being a bit nitpicky, but when you're getting everything else right, such a flagrant error stands out even more.  It took me right out of the story and only led me to examine other representations of Ottawa even closer.

It was also unfortunate that Alpha Flight's big plan to counter the corrupt Canadian government was to seek out the help of Wolverine.  I was kind of buying this book because I wanted Canadian superheroes other than that guy, and it doesn't really help their credibility that at the first sign of danger they go running to Wolverine for help.  Doesn't make them seem all that heroic, you know?  Again, disappointing.

On the plus side, virtually every other book I picked up was absolute gold, so there is that.  When you buy 17 comics and only two of them are let downs, I gotta say that you're doing pretty alright for yourself.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), there's only five or six books that I'm interested in for next week, so it looks like I'll be able to save some of my money instead of spending it all on comics.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Worst Morning Ever

          I totally just let the elevator doors close in that guy's face. I didn't see him until the last second, but he's going to think I did it on purpose.
          I see that guy every day. We seem to always take the elevator at the same time. We had a good thing going. Nods of recognition. Occasionally exchanging a word or two.
          Now he's going to hate me.
          Should I apologize when I see him tomorrow? Act like nothing happened? Why did this happen? Riding the elevator is going to be so awkward.
          Unless I start taking the stairs...

I'm not really sure what inspired this one.  I haven't taken an elevator lately.  Or at least, I haven't accidentally insulted someone while taking an elevator.

I guess I just wanted to write some guy overreacting to the least important thing possible.  Who then subsequently decides to make a minor life change to avoid facing his insignificant problem.  If that's the case, I think I managed that pretty alright.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Road Trippin'

            This road trip was an unmitigated disaster.
            We lost the only map. We had three flats. It rained every day.
            Jeremy only brought one pair of underwear. Dale would only play country on the stereo. Aaron needed to stop every fifty miles to pee.
            We were too cheap to pay for motels, so we slept in the car. Every night. It was cramped, uncomfortable, and it didn't take long to start smelling pretty rank.
            For all that, when we finally made it to the coast, seeing the sun slowly rise over the ocean almost made up for it all.

Don't have too much to say about this one.  I didn't have much of an idea this evening, so a friend of mine suggested "road trip".  This is what came of it.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Child's Play

          Escaping from his carrying case proved to be much harder than Solomon would have expected.
          The lid was exceedingly heavy, and supporting its weight while climbing out at the same time was no easy feat. To complicate matters, the moment Solomon's head emerged from the case, he let out a small yelp of terror. Instead of being on the ground as he had hoped, his container sat atop a rather large bookcase. And though Solomon would never admit to being afraid of heights, he still did his best to avoid looking down as he finished wiggling out of the box.

Apparently the puppet's name is Solomon.

I wanted to spend some more time working with my idea from yesterday (or earlier this morning, depending on how you look at things), and while brainstorming, came up with this moment from Solomon's adventure.  It's not necessarily how I would compose it for a longer tale - my arbitrary 100 word constraint was in mind writing this - but I am happier with this look into Solomon than what I did last time.  This is definitely something I need to keep focusing my efforts on.  Working on it makes me feel excited, which is always a good thing.

All An Act

            Without my master's guidance, I don't know what to do.
            I have been a daring adventurer. A celebrated leader. A gallant champion.
            My words have made men braver. Ignited others to action. Inspired nations to greatness.
            I try to remember some of the speeches to reassure myself, but nothing comes to mind. A few words manage to trickle from my lips, but they ring hollow, as empty I am.
            I saw myself as a hero. I realize now that it was all an act.
            I am a sham. I am ashamed. But above all, on my own, I am afraid.

One other idea that I've been kicking around is a story about a puppet.  He would be a classic marionette who has performed all types of great adventures and played every heroic role imaginable.  But one day, he would wake up (think Toy Story-style here) to find his master is no longer there.  Deciding he needs to go find him, he would go on some adventure to figure out where his master has gone.

I envision a big part of this story being the puppet coming to terms with the fact that he isn't any of those roles that he has performed.  He isn't the king's stalwart soldier.  He's not a skilled huntsmen.  He's not a beloved prince.  And so forth.

He'd find some friends along the way to help him on his quest, and he's also learn that even if he's not a hero like in the stories, it doesn't mean that he can't be heroic (or some such).  However, this piece in particular would take place earlier on the in the adventure, when he's realizing that the roles he's performed are not who he is.

I don't think this quite manages to attain the feeling I was aiming for.  It's too rushed.  Doesn't spend enough time dwelling on the realization.  I will definitely have to spend some more time with the concept, but considering the hour, this will do for tonight.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Justice For All

            “I can't believe they're reassigning me to Pleasant Plaza. That's a C-list neighbourhood at best. I thought we were supposed to stop the bad guys, so why am I getting punished for it?”
            “Come on, man. We both know the problem is the way you stopped the Backstreet Brawler. You're lucky The Council decided only to reassign you. It could have been a lot worse. They could have switched you over to villain. Or banned you outright. And we both know how street level heroes manage freelancing.”
            “Thanks, Cape. You always know how to brighten the mood.”

So one hundred words is not a lot for a conversation.

What you see above is a small look into an idea that's been bubbling around my head for the last little bit.  It's still in the early stages, but as you may have gathered, the concept is a world where an organization (presently the vaguely-named Council) controls every aspect of superheroing.  The good guys, the bad guys, and the in betweeners all have to follow their decisions, whether they like it or not.  Kind of like the WWE, except with a lot more property damage and the occasional casualty.

Writing it out, I guess it has some things in common with Gladstones's School for World Conquerors, the relatively new series from Image.  And let's be honest here, I'm sure there's at least a handful of other works that have played around with the idea in one form or another.

Either way, here we have a quick glimpse at two heroes living in said world.  Intrepid is bemoaning The Council's recent ruling against him and the Crimson Cape is trying to soften the blow, but there's only so much one can offer.

What do you guys think?

A Royal Rumble

            They came at him like a pack of animals.
            The nearest man punched him in the stomach, causing him to bend over double. That was quickly followed by someone slamming their fists into his back, sending him sprawling to the ground. Before Jester could think to get up, they started kicking him. Again and again and again.
            He cried for help, but his lungs were empty. All he could manage were some bloody hacks and coughs.
            The beating ended as quickly as it had started. Finished, they walked off, laughing.
            Jester whispered a silent prayer of thanks and blacked out.

The first sequel story!  You must all be so excited!


Well, at the very least, I'm excited.  Which will have to do for now.

Jester isn't doing so well here, is he?  How will he get out of this one?  Will the Royals come looking for their wayward fool?  Is he on his own?  We may never know.  Unless, of course, I write it at some future point.  Anything is possible, I suppose.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Weekly Pull - August 3rd

As I mentioned last time, I am now throwing up my pull list over at the Weekly Crisis, and if you'd like to look over some of my anticipatory thoughts on the books I bought this week, you can check them out here.  Additionally, you can look over my reviews for a number of these books right here.

As you can see, I had quite a number of books to pick up for the opening week of August.

MYSTIC #1 (OF 4)

DC Comics

Other Companies

If you were to compare this list to my preview article, you would notice that both The Marvelous Land of Oz trade paperback and Hero Comics 2011 are absent from the latter.  That's because I decided to pick these two books up on a bit of a whim.  I still haven't gone through The Marvelous Land of Oz, but I am really excited to get the chance.  I absolutely adore Skottie Young's art.  Relatively recent to the comic book scene, he has a gorgeous style that is unlike anything else going on right now.  Can't wait to read some comics drawn by his hand.

Hero Comics 2011 was an odd kettle of fish, because it was an anthology book to benefit the Hero Initiative, which exists to help out comic book creators when they are in financial crisis.  A fine organization, they managed to get some fine creators for the book.  I decided to grab it when I heard that the original Sandman creative team of Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, and Sam Kieth were collaborating on one of the stories within.  I haven't actually read Sandman (something I hope to soon rectify), but I do know that if those folk are working on something, you should be reading it.  Their short piece, "My Last Landlady" was pretty darn fine and worth the cover price alone.  As an added bonus, I discovered that John Layman and Rob Guillory made an original Chew story for the book as well, which was great.  Anthologies are always fun, in my opinion, because you get to read work by a number of different creators, and you sometimes discover authors that you had never heard of before.  Not so much the case this time, but a fine read nonetheless.

It was a pretty big week, but if the solicitations for the rest of the month are any indication, my book purchasing looks like it will only continue to rise in the next few weeks.  We'll see how able I am to resist the siren call of event tie-in books.  If my track record is any indication, I'm going to be shelling out a lot of dollars.

The Morning After

            He woke hours later, head pounding.
            Opening his eyes, he was blinded by the mid-morning light. Unable to think, he shut his eyes tightly, hoping to keep the brightness at bay. But even with his hands covering his face, the pain lingered on.
            He thought to get up, but that proved even harder than facing the day. Every movement made the pain worse. Finally, still unable to rise after his third attempt, he gave up on the idea, falling back to his shabby bed with a muffled thud.
            On second thought, maybe I'll sleep a little longer, he considered wretchedly.

Based on a(n unfortunately) true story.