Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. Emerald City Comicon and life in general tend to get in the way of regular writing from time to time, but I plan on making up for that in the future.

So, to tide you over, I thought I’d share the identity of the artist I’ll be working with on my story, “Checkmate” for the Killer Queen Anthology.

And the artist is…Bobby Breed!

You can find his work over at deviantART, which might give you some more hinst as to how my story, based on the song “White Queen (As it Began)”, might look.

Bobby Breed art

We’ve all been waiting patiently and the day is finally here when we can see our Kickstarter dollars made real in the form of the Nightwing: The Series trailer from IsmaHAWK:

Passionate people making passionate art! For those unaware, IsmaHAWK is the production team of Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le who are as much fanboys of filmmaking as they are about a certain DC Comics character. In case it wasn’t clear, they’re big fans of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, former sidekick to the Dark Knight. And being the fans that they are, it didn’t take them long to realize that Nightwing has never really been given his due. Sure, Dick Grayson as the first Robin has been given plenty of attention, but outside of the comics and a few cartoon appearances, the guardian of Blüdhaven hasn’t exactly made a name for himself. IsmaHAWK, set out to rectify that.

Prior to the creation of Nightwing: The Series, the team created a five-minute short, Batman: Nightwing in which Nightwing faces off against Red Hood, a.k.a. Jason Todd. The video garnered enough attention and positive feedback that IsmaHAWK decided to take their love of Nightwing to the next level with a Kickstarter campaign for Nightwing: The Series, which was fully funded in February of last year. Over at Word of the Nerd I was fortunate enough to interview Danny, Jeremy, and fellow writer Mortimer Black on DC Confidential before the Kickstarter was fully funded and I’d encourage you to go back and listen to the episode since the trio were a blast to talk to and every bit as enthusiastic and excited about not just Nightwing but comics, movies, and geek culture in general.nightwing

Nightwing: The Series, as described by IsmaHAWK :

follows the adventures of Batman’s ex-sidekick, Robin. After a falling out with his former mentor, Dick Grayson aka Robin leaves Gotham City in order to create his own identity in the city of Blüdhaven . The series will delve a bit into Nightwing’s origins and flesh out the character. We hope to pull in new fans as well as appease and excite existing fans.

I can safely say that, based on the description of the series, the trailer doesn’t disappoint as we get glimpses of Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Danny Shepherd) possibly visiting his parents’ graves, the corrupt culture of Blüdhaven , a little weapons fabrication a la Batman Begins, Barbara Gordon, and from the look of it we’re going to get Nightwing vs. Red Hood Round 2!

Responses to the teaser trailer have been nothing but positive and the guys from IsmaHAWK couldn’t be happier. When I reached out to them for comment, they had this to say:

[We] just want to thank the supporters who believed in the project even when we really didn’t have anything to show for it at the time. We just hope that everyone enjoys watching it when it’s released as much as we enjoyed making it. We won’t let you down!

I don’t doubt it! Now that we’ve gotten a taste of what Nightwing: The Series will look like, all I can ask is where’s the first episode?!

If you want to keep up-to-date on the goings on for Nightwing: The Series, you can subscribe to IsmaHAWK’s YouTube Channel, follow Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le, and like them on Facebook.

I told you I’d have an announcement to make soon and here it is. I will be contributing my first professional comic book story to the Killer Queen Comic Anthology for Red Stylo Media!KillerQueenstrokes-and-stuff-300x100

Here’s the official synopsis:

KILLER QUEEN is a collection of comic art and stories inspired by the discography of one of the greatest bands in the pantheon of Rock-n-royalty, QUEEN! This year, the artists and writers were challenged to turn their stereos up and take inspiration from Queen’s prodigious, diverse catalog of music. All the art and stories are original works inspired by a theme or premise in a Queen song, sometimes by the band itself.

Killer Queen is the latest anthology series from Red Stylo Media, following previous anthologies like Poe Twisted, Shakespeare Shaken, and Unfashioned Creatures (an anthology inspired by Frankenstein). In addition, Red Stylo also publishes a number of other graphic novels and comics like ORPHANS, City of Walls, TORCHBEARER, and Azteca.

I’m thrilled to be participating in such an awesome premise that got me to dive headfirst into the deep cuts of Queen’s discography. The first draft has already been written and sent off, so I’ll be editing soon enough, I suspect. As for what the story is about? Well…how about I give you the song it was inspired by for now?

I’ll be providing updates when I can, but I really wanted to let everyone know because this will be fulfilling one of those bucket list things by getting a foot in the door of the comic book industry as a writer.

Killer Queen will begin to roll out stories digitally in September with the book edition following in October. You can also keep up-to-date on the project by following @red_stylo, checking out their Facebook page, or the Killer Queen Facebook page as well. You can also follow me on twitter, where you’re more likely to get more frequent updates.

Once again, I’m over the moon about contributing to this anthology and I can say from now on that Queen is what made me a comic book writer. How is that not awesome?

So I’m gonna play a little game here mostly because I haven’t written anything for this blog that isn’t some sort of In Memorium or a previous review. I apologize and there’s a perfectly good explanation for it…which I will probably be able to talk about in roughly two weeks. So stay tuned!Nightwing-Dead

Anyway, I thought I’d expand on an idea that came to me while recording DC Confidential over at Word of the Nerd. I don’t know when the episode will drop, but it’ll be linked here once it does. Suffice it to say, mid conversation about one of my favorite topics, Nightwing, I started speculating on one of the possible outcomes that could befall the former Robin in the wake of the Forever Evil crossover at DC Comics where Dick Grayson was unmasked to the world. DC isn’t shy about amping up the “Will Dick Grayson Die?” vibes that are coming off of this event either. It doesn’t help that Nightwing’s solo book was canceled and all advertisements concerning the Bat-family have suspiciously left him out…as far as we know.

So I thought I’d take a page out of DC’s old book and form an Elseworlds Tale of my own. For those who don’t know, the Elseworlds books were DC’s way of telling alternate reality stories about their characters without interfering with continuity. For example, Superman: Red Son is a really great Elseworlds book that I highly recommend. In the spirit of that, I thought I’d take a crack at how I think the aftermath of Forever Evil should play out for Nightwing.

For my money’s worth, I don’t think Dick’s gonna kick the bucket. The most recent issue of Forever Evil that came out today seems to confirm my suspicions, but I’ll leave that to you fine people to read the book. This article is all about the “What if?” scenario and fulfilling my own fangirlish notions of how a story could play out. Cool? Cool.

Nightwing_arrestedWith this in mind, where could Nightwing possibly end up? Let’s just say, for the purposes of this article, that in the wake of Forever Evil and Dick’s unmasking, he’d more than likely be arrested for vigilantism. He’s been breaking the law since he was 16, so he’d definitely be an easy scapegoat for those looking to reestablish law and order in a world that’s just been overrun with chaos. This would, more than likely, mean Dick gets thrown in Arkham Asylum, one of the many prisons in the DC Universe, or a newly constructed prison created due to how friggin’ easy it seemed to break everyone out of their respective facilities the last time. You could even make it an entire arc, “The Trial of Dick Grayson”, which could expand on justice, heroism, vigilantes, etc.

It would also be a way of diving further into the character of Dick Grayson. He’s always been a performer, going from the Flying Graysons to Robin to Nightwing (and briefly Batman, though don’t ask me where that falls in the five year timeline). Now that the world knows who he is and his alter ego, could he continue fighting crime? Should he continue fighting crime or has he earned a spot in prison alongside the people he put away? And if he’s no longer Nightwing the hero, but Dick Grayson, prisoner of Blackgate or Belle Reve or Arkham Asylum, then what does this mean regarding how he views himself?

For the sake of argument, let’s say Dick is still found guilty and sentenced to prison. Bruce tries to get him a lighter sentence, say house arrest, but the judge isn’t lenient. Remember, law and order, chaos, yadda, yadda, yadda. Dick’s sent to jail and finds himself amongst some familiar faces, but this is Nightwing, so he can adjust, right? Well, even someone as easygoing as Dick Grayson can have his bouts of depression and one could see him having a case of this and just when it really looks bleak, maybe after yet another fight in the cafeteria or the prison yard, someone comes to his cell for a visit.

Amanda Waller.amanda-waller-feat-image

Let’s be honest, if Dick Grayson was unmasked you’d have to be a complete idiot or extremely dense not to realize that Bruce Wayne is Batman. The fact that Lex Luthor of all people, who looked up who Dick Grayson was after he was unmasked, didn’t put two and two together either means he’s playing dumb or he really thinks 2+Z = chair. Anyway, Waller, armed with this information, offers Dick a deal. She keeps the information buried and promises no one will find out the identities of the rest of the Bat-family if Dick agrees to join Suicide Squad. She could use a guy with his skills to participate, or lead, the new team she’s formed. He gets the same deal as everyone else, one year of missions or whatever arbitrary number of missions Waller decides, then he’s released back into the world a free man. Lacking any real choice, but also seeing an opportunity to protect his family, Dick accepts. Knowing that Bruce would never accept his choice, Dick and Waller agree that the only way this will work is if they stage his “death” in prison. Bruce being Bruce, he’d also investigate the death of his oldest “son”, but Waller promises to keep him busy enough. Or, Bruce is in on it the whole time, but keeps it a secret from the rest of the Bat-Family.

red_x_by_jehuty23-d4ruq3bOnce the “death” has been staged, Dick takes on a new mantle in Suicide Squad. In fact, part of the story could be that he’s only referenced by this new identity so that the other villains don’t know it’s him. Dick being Dick, he eventually assumes a leadership role and even comes to sympathize and begrudgingly respect some of his other teammates. Or his animosity for some of them could run deeper. All the while, he’s using Waller to keep tabs on Bruce, Barbara, Tim, Jason…possibly Damian when he returns. There would probably be a mission or two that puts him at odds with his family and he has to fight them without hurting them while also not giving away that it’s him, which would mean changing his fighting style completely. It would be yet another opportunity to explore Dick Grayson’s character through the new identity. He’d essentially be trapped behind a new mask, unable to take it off unless he felt safe, which would be difficult considering he doesn’t trust anyone he’s working with. Amanda Waller would be the only person he could talk to who knows the truth and if we went with the angle of Bruce knowing, it would still be dangerous to contact him. But what if Dick starts to like being on Suicide Squad? Then he’d have to deal with the consequences of those feelings contrasting with everything he’s learned as Batman’s former partner and as a hero in his own right.

Like I said, just my version of how things could play out. It probably won’t happen that way, but I like to think a girl can dream…or write fan fiction.

But I’m curious to hear what others think? What do you think will be the fallout of Forever Evil for Nightwing? Will he live, die, or something else?

nightwing

harold-ramisHere we are, yet again, to say goodbye to another comedy genius. Early morning, on February 24, Harold Ramis passed away at the age of 69 from complications due to autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis. Ramis was a beloved actor, writer, and director who was involved in some of the most iconic comedies of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. To name just a few: Caddyshack, Groundhog’s Day, National Lampoon’s Animal House, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Stripes, Meatballs, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. While his later work seemed to fizzle out with audiences, Ramis still managed to achieve noteworthy performances in Orange County (2002), Knocked Up (2007), and Year One (2009).

Though he often played second fiddle to Bill Murray during their six-film collaboration, to call Ramis just a straight man downplays his talent as an actor and a comedian. Ramis has always been a more subdued performer, relying on his dry wit to subtly poke fun at or comment on institutions of authority and the new bourgeois culture. This was a man who grew up during the tumultuous era of the 1960s and tried to infuse that same spirit of rebellion into his movies. Take another look at that list up top and it becomes pretty clear that Ramis was all about underachievers and underdogs, turning them into unlikely, though not unwelcome heroes. Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2, I think, are the best examples. As Egon Spengler, nerds and geeks alike got to see a positive depiction of themselves on the big screen. Spengler and his fellow Ghostbusters were action heroes, but they were also men of science with a sense of humor to boot. Venkman may have been the street-smart, cynical romantic, but Egon was the quintessential nerd and he still got to save the day. Unlike now where nerd and geek culture have been greatly elevated, back in the 80s, this was a huge deal. Above all else, Ramis brought intelligence to his work. Again, it’s too easy to call Animal House or Caddyshack examples of frat house, juvenile humor. Do they have slapstick and low brow jokes, of course, but Ramis was as sly as he was overt in presenting comedy. He’d re-write or punch up scripts to make sure there was something for the audience to latch on to, something that resonated. Case in point, we remember pretty much all of his movies. The good ones at least.

The outpouring of articles and videos honoring Ramis speaks to the long-reaching influence he’s had on at least two generations of movie-goers. Most of his movies are quotable masterpieces of comedy with each sporting at least a scene or a line that sticks in your memory the rest of your life. It’s one thing to write a joke, it’s another to write joke funny enough to get people quoting it the second they walk out of the theater and years later. I should know. I haven’t seen Caddyshack since I was a teenager, but I can still quote a great deal of Billy Murray’s lines. The same goes for the Ghostbusters movies. When I was a kid, I was scared out of my mind because of the ghosts! I still remember hiding my head in my father’s chest or sitting behind the couch because I was freaked out by Ghostbusters 2. In all honesty, I had a better appreciation of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon before I truly enjoyed the movies they were based on, but I still went back and watched them again.

It’s impossible to perfectly encapsulate one man’s impact on cinematic culture, so the best thing we can do is curl up on the sofa and facilitate our own time loops of Harold Ramis movies. All I know for certain is that Mr. Ramis is now a wry grin of stars shining down on us singing “Do Wah Diddy”.

Next time I promise to write about something a bit more positive.

Sid CaesarA few days ago Sid Caesar passed away at the age of 91 from complications due to illness. His passing was mourned by the comedic community, but it’s hard to gauge the reactions of the general public to the death of the patriarch of sketch comedy. Sid Caesar’s influence on comedy is everywhere and you might not even realize it. Caesar was the star of two successful variety shows, Your Show of Shows (1950-1954) and Caesar’s Hour (1954-1957), both of which were live comedy programs that influenced generations of comedians not just through the stellar performances of Caesar, Imogene Coca, Howard Morris, Carl Reiner, and Nanette Fabray, but also through the amazing writing talents of Mel Brooks, Reiner, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Woody Allen, and Mel Tolkin.

Mel Brooks, as we all know, wrote, directed, produced, and starred in some of the most influential comedic movies and television shows (The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs, Get Smart, etc.). He even snuck Caesar into small roles in Silent Movie and History of the World Part 1. Reiner used his experiences as a writer and performer under Caesar as the basis for The Dick Van Dyke Show with his character, Alan Brady, Rob Petrie’s boss, based in part, on Caesar. Neil Simon went on to become a prolific playwright, winning Tony Awards for The Odd Couple (1965) and Lost in Yonkers (1991). His 1993 play, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, was based on his experiences as a writer for Caesar with all of the characters as stand-ins for his fellow writers and Caesar himself. Larry Gelbart went on to co-create and write the television show M*A*S*H. Mel Tolkin, best known for his work on Your Show of Shows, was also a contributing editor and writer for All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place. And if you’re still a fan of Woody Allen, then you know how famous he went on to be as a writer and director. All of these men contributed to the landscape that would influence the next generation of comedic talent, but for every person who quotes a Mel Brooks movie, cites M*A*S*H as a show that changed the format of the half-hour sitcom, or praises a Woody Allen film, they’re inadvertently tracing that comedic lineage back to Sid Caesar.

Caesar himself was wildly praised by his peers and Hollywood for his comedic prowess and the intelligence with which he approached comedy. Even though his shows had to play to audiences most would consider the lowest common denominator, Caesar made sure that sketches never treated the viewing audience as dumb. Amongst his assembled staff of writers, there wasn’t a book read, a movie/play watched, or music listened to that couldn’t be referenced. Astonishingly, Caesar never wrote for his own shows, relying on his staff to create the scenarios and dialogue, though Caesar was still involved in punching up the material, performing the sketches out loud, over and over again, until he was satisfied. Sketches were an average of 10 minutes long so the performers could milk everything out of the material while the camera was allowed to capture every expression, which Caesar and his fellow performers had in spades. Caesar was adept at the art of pantomime, able to capture the simplest task and still make it hilarious, and an expert improviser. He also perfected the art of “double-talk”, which he’d been doing since he was a child in his parents’ diner in Yonkers, New York. Alfred Hitchcock even called him “television’s Charlie Chaplin”.

As a person, Sid Caesar was both praised and sometimes feared by his fellow performers and staff. A bear of a man, Caesar was a hard-drinking, hard-smoking, temperamental personality known for violent outbursts, which you can see even in his comedic approach. In many sketches, the characters Caesar often played reacted by pushing and shoving or through sudden bursts of emotion. One of his more infamous outbursts resulted in hanging a young Mel Brooks over the balcony of a hotel room while the writing staff was pulling an all-nighter for Your Show of Shows. Brooks would later reference another of Caesar’s violent actions in Blazing Saddles. The scene where Mongo punches a horse is supposedly based on Caesar doing the same when his wife was thrown from a horse while out riding. Regardless of his temper, Caesar was also a warm and caring individual; a loving friend, husband, and father, he was also an ardent supporter of the Humane Society who created an award in his name in 2005.

With his passing, I hope more people will rediscover Sid Caesar and understand his place in the pantheon of comedy gods. Caesar was a man who paved the way for other comedians, but his stardom, like the man himself, burnt out quickly in the eyes of the viewing public. I was fortunate to have a mother and grandfather who loved comedy and introduced me to Sid Caesar as a teenager, but there are some who vaguely remember him for his roles in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and Grease (1972) and many who don’t know him at all. If you’re a fan of comedy, I encourage you to scour YouTube for sketches or watch interviews of him and his fellow writers and performers. Caesar was insightful, honest, hilarious, and poignant to a fault. The best thing we can do is celebrate him and all that he contributed to comedy because they don’t make ‘em like Sid Caesar anymore.

Legends of the KnightWhen we think about the enduring value of a fictional character, two of the most important aspects attached to them are impact and influence. How do they reach us? Why are we drawn to them specifically? Why do we allow them to factor into our daily lives? There’s no shortage of books, television shows, and movies in the world and there’s certainly no shortage of comic books and comic book characters, so there has to be something particularly special surrounding that character for them to rise above all the others. I think what truly elevates a fictional character isn’t just what they do for the fans, but what fans do because of them. Inspiration is a powerful force and one of the most inspirational and enduring figures of fiction has been the Dark Knight himself, Batman. In Legends of the Knight, director and producer Brett Culp captures the stories of just a handful of the people who’ve changed their lives and the lives of others because of their love for the Caped Crusader and what he inspires in them.

The first thing that comes to mind when describing Batman and differentiating him from many of his peers in the DC Comics Universe is the fact that he’s human. He isn’t an alien from another planet or an Amazon blessed with powers from the Greek Gods, he’s just a man who witnessed the murder of his parents as a child and devoted the rest of his life to eradicating crime in the streets of Gotham City. Yes, he may have billions of dollars to support his nightly patrols and the myriad gadgets at his disposal, Kye Sappbut many Batman fans see past the cool toys and the massive fortune. Instead, we look at the man who suffered a tremendous loss that psychologically scarred him yet still managed to channel that pain and damage into a positive force for good.

Legends of the Knight is a documentary that keeps its focus squarely on the positive influence and inspirational stories of devoted Bat-fans. For many of those interviewed, the story is often the same: overcoming obstacles, fighting back, and turning pain into something positive. If Batman can do it, then so can I. Several stories feature people with physical disabilities or illnesses, but none of them see their state of being as something to be pitied. All of them – Kye Sapp, Jill Pantozzi, and Daniel Scott – draw on Batman as a source of strength. Batman fights back and so will I. If I fall, I get back up because that’s what Batman would do. There are no physical limits to what I can accomplish because Batman pushes beyond his own limitations. Then there are the fans who take on the uniform of Batman as a means of inspiring others. Lenny Robinson dresses in full costume and visits sick children, asking them to get better for Batman. The Pentaluma Batman, a then 19-year-old college student at the time of filming, rallies people together to find missing persons or raise money for local charities while devoting a few hours each night “patrolling” in his hometown. His uniform isn’t as elaborate, but it’s less about the accuracy of the cape and cowl and more about what they represent not just to the person wearing the outfit, but the people around them.Legends_travis_langley_teaching_

The influence of Batman equally extends into the academic and the psychological. Scholars like Dr. Travis Langley use Batman and his rogues gallery as a means of uncovering psychological disorders and philosophical discussions that would be a harder sell to teens and young adults without the help of well known villains, and the Dark Knight himself, to put them in perspective. Patrick O’Connor uses Batman comics as a means of therapy, giving his younger clients something tangible with which they can express themselves. Batman’s universe opens up more avenues of discussion because his world has become so much a part of our cultural understanding. We can open a Batman comic or watch Batman on the big and small screen and relate to his struggles, prompting our own inner examinations.

Michael UslanThen there are those who have had a hand in shaping Batman’s image to audiences and readers. Michael Uslan and former Batman writer Denny O’Neil see themselves as the caretakers of the Batman mythos. Uslan devoted most of his life to seeing the Dark Knight brought to the big screen, obtaining the film rights to Batman and serving as Executive Producer of every Batman movie since 1989 all because he believed audiences would connect with a darker, more serious superhero. O’Neil, through the trials and errors of reimagining and reinvigorating Batman, quickly realized that superheroes in general are our modern folklore. We connect and identify with heroes like Batman because we see something of ourselves in them, or something to strive for. Therefore, changing them within the context of film, television, or comic books challenges how we look at ourselves.

It is interesting though that both Uslan and O’Neil were responsible for pulling Batman away from his Silver Age persona in the comics and his campy counterpart in the 1966 television program. Uslan, more than anyone in the documentary, felt betrayed by Adam West’s portrayal of his dark superhero and yet there are still devoted fans to West’s Batman, which speaks to the fluid nature of the character and the inclusiveness of the fanbase. However you became a fan of Batman, you’re still a fan of Batman regardless of the iteration. What matters is how you utilize that devotion and all of these stories show how positivity is more powerful and impactful. In this current era of heightened fandom, Legends of the Knight is a refreshing point of view in contrast to the bombardment of nerd rage lurking in every corner of the internet. Thankfully, Brett Culp and the men and women featured in this documentary present an inspiring counterpoint.

Screenings for Legends of the Knight have already begun, so if you’re interested in finding a theater near you to watch the film you can go to their website and buy tickets or host a screening if one isn’t close by. You can also purchase the film via the website where proceeds will go to The Rising Heroes Project.

RatQueens_04-1This article was originally posted at Word of the Nerd on January 16th.

You know how in most books the plot starts some sort of mystery or a problem to solve that tends to become the ongoing, if not the overarching, narrative? Yeah, not so much with Rat Queens. Like most D&D campaigns, it’s about moving from mission to fight, mission to fight, fight to fight. Roll for initiative, you get the idea. So you know how the Queens, along with the other questing groups of Palisade, were attacked by an assassin while en route to weed out some cave trolls and barely escaped with their lives? Turns out it was Old Lady Bernadette the whole time. Go figure. Seems she didn’t take too kindly to the favorable treatment Sawyer was giving to the Queens, who were pretty much becoming a nuisance on a regular basis, so she hired some assassins to take care of the problem herself. While I applaud the initiative…man, Old Lady Bernadette is such a bitch! Guh!

It seems, though, that Bernadette’s plans to get rid of the questing groups have brought on a troll hoard set on wrecking up Palisade because the Rat Queens killed the leader’s boyfriend. Interestingly enough, the troll actually killed the assassin hired by Bernadette, but then the Queens had to kill him because, well he was a troll and he was attacking them and – ya know let’s just say the situation is complicated and move on. Oh, and the only reason the lead troll knew the Queens killed her boyfriend was because of Gary, a Palisade soldier, going on about how the Rat Queens totally killed her troll-man and were drinking in celebration of his death. Way to be, Gary. Way to be. Anyway, the Queens, at Violet’s insistence and with some help from Braga – formerly of the Peaches – decide to fight off the trolls since they’re kinda-sorta responsible for the attack in a very roundabout way.

StabbyAnd what a glorious battle it is! Not only does Kurtis J. Wiebe create some choice one-liners, but Roc Upchurch’s art brings the pain and the awesome! Once again, Violet and Betty shine, but Hannah and Dee hold their own as well. Violet is all about kicking ass as she puts her dwarven fighting skills to good use while Betty acts as Braga’s literal back-up, firing her arrows as Braga tears through the trolls. The energy of Upchurch’s art is phenomenal. Every page brings something new to the characters and Sawyer gets a fantastic fight sequence in the beginning of the issue. There’s a reason why he’s Captain of the Guard. In the midst of battle, he makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the fight with the Queens, keeping the blood flowing as the ladies defend Palisade.

I think what I love most about Rat Queens is the books unrelenting action as well as it’s sense of humor. I don’t often laugh out loud when I’m reading comics, but Wiebe always has at least one line that breaks my composure. Which is what a good comic book should do. Comics are entertainment, escapism, and Rat Queens is the embodiment of both aspects. This is a book that wants you to enjoy yourself and I enjoy it more and more with each issue.

Rating – 10/10

Final Thoughts: There’s a +5 on attack rolls against dudes named Gary…go find someone named Gary! He probably had it coming anyway.

philip seymour hoffmanIt’s with great sadness that I have to report the passing of a great actor of stage and screen, Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was confirmed yesterday that Hoffman, age 46, died of a drug overdose in his Manhattan apartment. Sober since he was 22, Hoffman’s problems with addiction were public knowledge as he was very candid about his substance abuse in interviews over the years. Before his passing, he’d checked himself into a rehab clinic after falling off the wagon for 10 days. Mr. Hoffman is survived by his partner of 15 years, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.

Hoffman has had a varied career in the theater and in Hollywood, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any role he didn’t dive into wholeheartedly. Though he’s had roles in several blockbusters, the most recent being The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hoffman has generally been perceived as a thoughtful and cerebral actor, taking on roles that challenged not just him but the audience as well. It’s what made him a fantastic character actor and the reason he earned his Oscar for Best Actor for his amazing performance in Capote (2005) as the titular character. He followed up that performance with three more Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Doubt (2008), and The Master (2012). Hoffman was also an accomplished stage actor and director, earning three Tony nominations for his Broadway performances in True West (2000), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2003), and Death of a Salesman (2012).

I can say, with all honesty, that Hoffman’s death did hit me hard. There are some actors that are almost a source of comfort as a regular movie-goer. When you see their name on a movie poster or notice them in a film you haven’t watched in ages, you feel safe knowing that they’re there. Hoffman was one of those actors for me. Even when he was playing cold, calculating characters or villains there was a sense of warmth about him that made him enjoyable to watch. The first time I noticed him was as the lovable and enthusiastic Dusty in Twister (1996) and it was a joy to watch him rise in Hollywood, earning the respect and admiration he so richly deserved.

So here are some clips of Philip Seymour Hoffman in his various role. Rest in Peace, sir, for you will be missed.

And a warning on these clips, most of them, for language purposes, are Not Suitable For Work.

robin_batgirl_batman

In honor of the 5th anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a friend of mine at the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab, Heide Holstrom, did a write-up about the significance of the Fair Pay Act:

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama. It updated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex when determining pay for employees doing the same work.

The 2009 Act resets the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal pay lawsuit each time a paycheck reflecting a discriminatory pay decision is issued. It was named for Lilly Ledbetter, whose equal-pay suit against her employer was dismissed by the Supreme Court because she had not filed it within 180 days of the discriminatory pay decision. Ledbetter says she was not aware of the pay discrepancy during that window of time.

To emphasize the importance and significance of this piece of legislation, the post included the 1973 Public Service Announcement (PSA) from the US Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division featuring Yvonne Craig reprising her role as Batgirl from the 1966 Batman television series to inform Batman and Robin that her job as a sidekick to Batman, the same job as Robin (Burt Ward reprising his role as well), meant she deserved equal pay. As Heidi later points out, even in 1973, ten years after Congress had passed the Equal Pay Act, women were still being paid less than their male counterparts. I mean, how else is a girl gonna pay for a rotating wall in a well-furnished apartment and keep up maintainance on a purple motorcycle on a librarian’s salary alone? Also, for shame millionaire Bruce Wayne! You’re a millionaire and your other sidekick lives with you! I think you could afford to pay Babs just as much, if not more than Dick. Now I know why Catwoman turned to a life of crime. It actually pays better.

So when you go out to buy your DVD/Blu-ray of the complete 1960′s Batman TV Series, or read DC Comics’ ongoing Batman ’66 digital-first book, remember that Batgirl ain’t getting paid as much as Robin. Kinda makes you wonder where Barbara was actually getting the money to support her crimefighting career.

Oh, and as a bonus because the ’73 PSA was clearly sans Mr. West, Heidi also included a 1966 PSA from the real Batman, Adam West, encouraging kids to buy war bonds for the Vietnam War.

Obviously it’s not the first time superheroes have been utilized to encourage patriotism in kids through purchasing war bonds, but I’ll be damned if West doesn’t sell the hell out it with his sincerity. Also gotta love the poster taped to the Bat-cave wall!

If you want to see more of what’s at the National Archives Special Media Archives Services Division, and I know you do, check out their blog. You never know when something special can turn up in the Archives.

Yes, I know, shameless plug, but I make no apologies. Until then, kids, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!