Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Last night I had my first drawing course in years. It's at the local community centre and it's me and a bunch of older women. I'm treating it as time I can actually sit down and draw as opposed to my vague promises of doing it at home after work - that never works. I'm hoping to use this to develop a project a bit more coherently so I can bore you all with images in the near future.

I won't scan anything yet since it's a bunch of exercise stuff and not all that interesting. I did realize I could have probably taught the course though, so at least I haven't completely lost all my skill.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Better Said Than Here

Don MacPherson says it better than I can. Yes, more about currencies and market economies - plus go to the comments section to see more griping about the high price of comics around the world. It really is a bit painful to see how inflated some prices get, but honestly, I don't have a solution, just more griping to add to the pot.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Darned radio

So this morning CBC radio had a little news segment about the Canadian dollar going on par with the American dollar and how the big consumer product that is getting screwed right now is books. It looked into it as much as a minute news clip could (probably more in the in-depth news hour) and explained the whole publishing process takes time thing and how books are unique for having their price printed directly on the book (problemo numero uno). In essence, any new book price cuts will only be seen some time in 2008.

Then they went to the Silver Snail in Toronto and talked about how you could buy your comics there at the American cover price. I stand corrected. I should go to the two local comic shops I pass on the way home and actually ask them if they've decided to do this as well (one is a Silver Snail branch).

I guess I'm guilty of falling prey to that internet affliction of being the dude alone in the dark room making pronouncements that have no basis in reality. Damn it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I'm still reading through Sin City and Akira these days. It's a bit of a slow process because of my schedule and the library books' availability. It's an interesting process because Akira goes for an ever increasing payoff while Sin City seems to be about dimishing returns the more you read.

But what's getting me these days is that the Canadian dollar is now on parity with the American dollar yet our comics are still sold for a dollar more and trades at about $10 more, more or less.

I know markets are volatile and all that, but seriously, if shipping wasn't a killer I'd be getting my books from Amazon. Comics simply aren't affordable in Canada at the moment unless they are sold at the American cover price. For every 3 comics I buy, I could be buying four if I crossed the border. This makes me even less likely to buy floppies no matter how much I like the guys at the local comic shop. Same for trades. The online retailers are just offering the books at the prices closest to American prices for it to be worthwhile to buy locally as much as I would rather support the community.

Unless local shops can afford to sell at American cover price it's the hugely discounted online retailers who will make the most of this current situation, and their offered prices aren't anywhere close to the hugely discounted online prices on Amazon. Okay, some books are kind of close but if I buy $35 worth of books from Chapters online, shipping is free. If I buy from Amazon, shipping removes any saving I would have had.

Sucks to be north of the border if you want cheap kicks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beta Ray Bill

So Beta Ray Bill seems to be appearing on a few of these comic book internet weblogs today (or rather recently anyway). I'm wondering if he will be the next Blue Beetle?

You know what I mean right? People go on about how awesome he is but don't actually buy his comics because (shock, horror) they could actually be poorly written so the company that owns him kills him off and everyone cries "Foul!"

Probably won't happen but it would be kind of neat.

Although Marvel would just clone him or make him a Skrull or something. Maybe they'd make him the new Spider-man.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pascal Blanchet on CBC

The CBC has a photo collection of artwork by Pascal Blanchet on their website. His new book White Rapids is coming out in English from Drawn and Quarterly in October. This looks like a fascinating story about a town build by a hydro company in a beautiful pure colour retro type of design. By pure colour I mean art without outlines, that comic book and cartoon mainstay. Reminds me of the influences seen throughout the Animated Batman series with Art Deco seemlessly blended within a modern art style.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Not Comics: Die Macher

So this past Saturday I busted out my copy of Die Macher and four of us got together for the first marathon session. For those of you significantly less geeky than me, or more discerning in your geekery, Die Macher is a board game where each player is a German political party fighting it out in seven provincial elections.

It is a heavy beast of a game that becomes incredibly involved and a heck of a lot of fun once you get past the suffering. It is a bit of a bitch to learn and you will totally screw yourself on the first decision you make in the first game you play. That’s really my only complaint here, it’s that you need to already know how to play before you start to play. So the first game is only ever a learning session and should be considered as such.

So what’s it actually like? Well, it certainly helps if you have an interest in politics. Not specific politics but the ideas and notions behind political systems because this deals with the essential mechanics of an election campaign. Upon reflection, it is incredibly cynical in this regard because you don’t get to choose your platform to reflect your values, it is generated somewhat randomly. You do try to convince local voters to choose your position on issues, but only if you have media control.

Then you can buy public opinion polls and possibly pay a lot of money to find out bad news, which isn’t too far from the truth. You can take money from outside contributors and lose a few members or refuse the money and attract more members for your principled stance. There’s a lot going on, but it is a cyclical game so once you do the cycle a few times you understand it. Like they say, we learn through repetition.

I guess in a few ways I’m a bit lucky. I have a group of friends that I met through working for the Green Party of Canada so we’re all interested in politics. It’s also fun to play with aspects of politics we never had a chance to with such a small party. It was a heck of a lot of fun to make unscrupulous choices and have a lot of money to spend on opinion polls or media influence. Again, it was long but you’re constantly involved so it doesn’t feel like you’re playing forever. Only the first election and most of the second feel entirely too long if this is the first time you’ve played the game.

So for us, we all screwed ourselves in the first election when we made out start-up choices. It’s sort of like funding capital to make the first election set-ups a bit more like the rest of the game where you’ve had the chance to plan ahead. We messed up a few calculations and forgot to take in outside contributions after the first round but we soldiered on, and just played the last election like a regular election rather than the different end-game that it’s supposed to be. We had extra cash cards, so why not?

All in all, a decent way to kill a cold rainy Saturday before a house party.

Friday, September 07, 2007


What is it about this time of year? I love it and yet it wipes the floor with my energy. There is something in the light that makes the air seem clearer and crisp even though the days get shorter.

I've got a bunch of trades at home waiting to be read, yet all I want to do is switch on my Nintendo Wii and rage through a few more levels of Resident Evil 4. I also picked up Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Super Mario Sunshine. All are solid Game Cube recommendations and when all those plus a controller cost the same as a new Wii game I'm feeling I have my money's worth and enough games to last me the rest of winter.

It's funny, my wife asked if Wedge is in the Rogue Squadron game. She plays her geek card for having read most, if not all, of the Rogue Squadron books as well as a bunch of the post Jedi books.

I don't know why but the thought of sitting down and playing Nintendo is probably the most appealing thing in the world to me right now. That and a nice scotch. A nice scotch and watching England win the next to Euro qualifying games. Yup. That's what I want.

After that I'll be back to comics.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Akira and Sin City

I've been reading the Sin City books recently. Some are a second or third reading, some I'm reading for the first time. It's been an interesting summer where I've been getting into a lot of noir fiction. And, it's quite interesting to see a lot of recurring themes and scenes then to see them all amped up to roid-rage levels in Sin City. I'll have more thoughts when I'm done the whole thing.

But to make up for both Promethea and Tom Strong ending an issue early because of the Ottawa Library's collection, as well as my attempt to read Ultimate Spider-man in trades being thwarted by the library's only copy of volume 6 (the Venom story) being in repair since sometime last winter I've decided to take on Akira. I've only ever read one of the books and it was more to steal an idea for perspective in an art class during my undergrad. I know it was cheap but I was really busy that week.

Anyway, what strikes me the most when reading Akira is how a book whose artwork is so technically proficient is also exceptionally inviting and interesting. It isn't just an exercise in perspective and straight lines, although on some levels it really is. The way every environment is so precisely created is simply awe inspiring. But what makes it work is that for every pristine line there is an equally grimy aspect rubbed into the scene to make it look lived in by humans. Much like Blade Runner had these technical marvels the characters were also in the middle of a grimy city. Same goes here. It has the clean lines and straight edges of futurism tempered by the waste products of people.

I've never read the comics before but I've seen the movie a few times. I'm liking the extended story and the more intricate plotting but I also think the movie sythesized things a bit better and made things slightly more coherent in its forced brevity. But hey, more of a good thing so no complaints really.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Huzzah! I've lived another year

On Sunday I turned 31. I then proceeded to drink entirely too much and lose horribly at the pool table. However I did managed to snag 3 Nintendo Game Cube games super cheap to play on the Wii and promise myself to never step foot inside a Catholic Church again. All in all one of my better birthdays.

No comic book news. I'm still sad about Darwyn Cooke leaving The Spirit. I really liked that book.