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If you liked my Badger comic you will love my Badger novel!

Check out my Kickstarter

Lots of extras if you are interested including original art from the original comics!
Hi NostoFans - Mike Baron here.
This is the funniest comic ever written. Not puns or jokes. Gut-busting humor that will make your head explode. When you finish, you will shove it into the hands of your friends and say, "You have got to read this!"
For more info or to pre-order, pop over to Indigogo.

The fan boards have gone nuclear about the new Watchmen movie. This is the Big One. This is the movie that separates the nerds from the herds. Well so far, the nerds seem to love it while the herds are withholding judgment. It kept me mesmerized for two and a half hours. It’s been fifteen years since I read the book but the movie did a much better job of telling the story. They had to jettison a lot of lovable bits, but you can’t release a four hour superhero epic.

Snyder achieves a sinister tone throughout, making something new: superhero noir. The opening frames, staged in three dimensions (we are there when the iconic pics are taken) sets the stage. The tripod over the corpse in a seedy hotel room is pure Luc Sante. The one film that came to mind while watching Watchmen was L.A. Confidential. Both stories deal with the corruption of authority and the cynicism that rules daily life.

The story opens in 1985 with the brutal murder of the Comedian. Jeff Morgan fills the Comedian’s shoes with ease. The look alone is superhero sleaze. Although he appears in flashbacks throughout the film I was sorry to see him go. I only wish he’d got off some zingers. ‘Cause the Comedian wasn’t very funny.

Jackie Earle Hayley is outstanding as Rorschach and probably deserves a best supporting actor nod. That ain’t gonna happen. Driven, furious, focused, Rorschach makes your hair stand on end. The others are equally impressive. Heard some grumbling that Patrick Wilson’s Nite Owl looked like an accountant, but that was the point I think. It’s refreshing to see someone with a normal physique deliver bone-crushing blows to a gang of psychos for a change.

Malin Akerman is a convincing Silk Spectre II and looks like Silk Spectre’s (Carla Gugino) daughter. Matthew Goode is especially good as Ozymandias, and his final fight with Rorschach and Nite Owl is a blur of beautifully executed martial arts. No fight choreographer is credited, by the way.

Naphic grovel purists may complain that the filmmakers changed the ending, but the ending they feature achieves the same result. Seeing this morality play on the screen made me realize how insane is Ozymandias’ scheme. Not worth it. I liked the giant squid better. But I liked this movie a lot.

Comic books do some things well. Their best and most unique feature is that you will believe a man can fly. Drawings on a page can fire the imagination as well as words in a book or pixels on a screen. Watchman stands as an outstanding example of a story uniquely suited to comics. Superheroes are the comics’ strongest suit.

Comics can tell virtually any kind of story, and are remarkably successful as autobiography. Books such as Maus, My True Story or Rubber Blanket reveal things that may be too painful in other media.

But there is one genre which the comics do not do well, surprising in retrospect because a good portion of comic literature has always been devoted to supernatural horror. That’s right—horror is the comic book’s weak spot for a very simple reason: whatever appears on the page, no matter how horrible, can’t possibly match the inchoate image the brain conjures when reading a book. Movies also have it over comics in this respect because of their ability to make the supernatural appear realistic. Movies control pacing and sound, as well as images, and sound has always been integral to the horror experience on film.

For all their other strengths, comics do not do horror well. Nevertheless, horror comics are thriving as never before. There are two types of horror: grisly but real psychopaths as seen in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel, and Saw, and supernatural horror as seen in The Exorcist or The Omen. Comics do the former well enough. What are all those EC ShockSuspense Stories but exercises in irony, cruelty, and fate?

But when it comes to supernatural horror comics simply don’t have enough cards to lay. Has anyone ever been scared, truly scared by an issue of any comic book? Swamp Thing? Hellraiser? Aliens? Anybody? If horror comics serve any purpose these days it’s as a launch pad for movies. 30 Days of Night is a great concept. Once you understand the concept the rest is all anticipatory fun. But even when turned into film, 30 Days failed in the bottom line department. It didn’t really scare anybody.

Not that the movies have had much success in that regard either, but at least one can look to the recent past and come up with a handful of films that succeeded in evoking that primordial shudder. The Ring and The Descent are both terrifying, not least because they offer full-blooded fully realized characters, a luxury most comics can’t afford.

There are exceptions, and one of them is Joe Lansdale’s and Nathan Fox’s four-part adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Pigeons From Hell. In fleshing out a short story into novel, Lansdale has created original personalities about whom the reader cares. This is an essential component of the best horror: you must care about the protagonists. Lansdale incorporates elements of voodoo lore that while not strictly speaking part of Howard’s world, dovetail beautifully. Nathan Fox’s art is expressionistic, intricate, and disturbing. Pigeons From Hell will make you shudder.

I attended Dragoncon in Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend and I was astonished at how enormous it has become. My partner in crime, Steve “The Dude” Rude was one of three guests of honor. The Volunteer Army that keeps this thing going is legion and extremely capable. They met me at the airport and whisked me to my hotel faster than shazam! The con centered around four hotels, some connected by human hamster trails, the Sheraton, Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton.

First day Friday the con completely fills four enormous trade show venues at the Marriott, more at the Hilton and Hyatt. The crowd stretched around the block and back to Alabama. This is the most spectacular of costume cons, with at least twenty-five per cent of the participants decked out as their favorite character. There were legions of vampires and zombies, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy (at least 3!), Iron Fist and Power Man working together, more Green Lanterns than exist in the core, a Legion of Empire Storm Troopers, orcs, elves, Gandalf the Grey, a truly impressive Ent, and hundreds of self-styled costumes too recondite to diagram. There are pictures of past Dragoncons up at dragoncon.org, and by the time you read this they may have posted pics from this one.

We were seated in Artists’ Alley, a less-travelled tributary of the massive con, along with old pals BernieWrightson, Don Rosa, Wayne Vansant, Peter David, David Mack, Mark Texeira, Brian Stelfreeze, and Eric Powell, along with the whole Gaijin contingent, and the 12 Gauge Comics Crew, including Jason Pearson, who draws one of my guilty pleasures, Body Bags. I was pretty busy signing comics and of course the Dude had supplicants up the wazoo. One guy brought over a stack of twenty and when he was done with that, took them away and came back with a fresh stack. Each time I finished signing I’d look at him and say, “Is that it?” And he’d say, “Nope.”

After a while I just looked at him and he said “Nope.” After three days of this we finally reached the end. Turns out he’s a Deputy Sheriff from Tennessee and a life-long collector. Shout out to Joe. Dude and Tex held a very loud discussion across the busy river of visitors about painterly technique.

Wayne Vansant displayed a series of comics he has done on the Civil War: Antietam: the Fiery Trial, Shiloh—the Devil’s Own Day, and Sherman’s March through Atlanta to the Sea among others. The books are superbly researched and will please any student of history, or those seeking a painless way to understand the War Between the States.

Saturday night at the Awards Banquet, well-known character actor Robert Picardo delighted the audience with his rendition of “Twilight Time.” He can sing, as befits a battle-scarred Broadway survivor. The three guests of honor were Steve Rude, Steve Hickman, and Laurell K. Hamilton.

Sunday night Peter David invited me to his traditional family picnic where I hobnobbed with George Takei, Walter Koenig, and Kevin J. Anderson. Kevin and I ended up at a brew pub debating the merits of various Colorado beers.

Finally I rode to the airport with Linda Blair. Life is good.
Our Supreme Commander has asked me to post a review of the Dark Knight here. I immediately congratulated him on his brilliant idea. No one has reviewed this movie! As far as I can tell, nobody even knows this movie is out.


Amid a summer of blockbuster comic book movies comes the biggest blockbuster of them all, The Dark Knight. It’s timing is perfect, hitting the trifecta of public unease over terrorism and government’s perceived ineffectuality, heightened interest due to Heath Ledger’s untimely death, and a public hungry for larger-than-life heroes. The Dark Knight thrills in ways other comic movies have not (except for possibly Spiderman II) because it takes itself seriously. Here’s a Batman we can all get behind.

Christian Bale is superb as Bruce Wayne but I’m not sure what he brings to the Bat suit. With the fake heavy-breathing voice it could be anybody behind that cowl. Batman seems a bit short. At least the action sequences flow better than in the previous film, although they were still a little choppy and too close for my tastes. A small quibble considering director Nolan uses Bale so effectively as a symbol, no moreso than while roaring around town on his ridiculously fat-tired cycle pod. When Batman rides the pod up a wall and flips it over, it may be the apotheosis of gadget geekdom.

The story concerns new district attorney Harvey Dent’s attempts to clean up the mob in Gotham, headed by a laconic and nicely aged Eric Roberts. Dent’s attempts are blocked by the Joker, a terrifying anarchist. Heath Ledger is massively entertaining as the Joker, using a flat Midwestern accent to enunciate his nihilist agenda. Each time he offers an explanation for his facial scars it’s different, underlying his existential nature.

Aaron Echkart as Two-Face is truly terrifying. Neither Joker nor Two-Face are as terrifying as the nihilist gunman Anton Chiguhr in No Country For Old Men. That’s because No Country comes across as real real, whereas Dark Knight comes across as comic book real.

Michael Caine as Alfred and Gary Oldham as Jim Gordon are both supremely effective. The movie does go on a little too long. And this Summer of Comic Book Movies has a ways to go.
Story: Kurt Busiek

Art: Greg Ruth

This Dark Horse archival hardbound fills in the details of Conan's youth among the Cimmerians. Busiek does a superb job capturing young Conan's personality and attitude with events both predictable and surprising. A bully called Donal challenges Conan for the leadership of their little tribe of rug rats to his ever-lasting regret. The reader will be forgiven for thinking Busiek is setting us up for a later showdown, but what happens is utterly surprising and still logical, fulfilling drama's most difficult demands.

We see Conan's first love affair, and the siege of Vanarium that plays out across the page like "The Fall of the Two Towers."

Ruth's sometimes impressionistic, sometimes expressionistic artwork is well-suited to the subject matter, but I had difficulty telling Conan apart from his playmates during the early sections. This is not a problem in the later stages. A worthy addition to the Conan canon.
Story: Kim Smuga

Art: Maciek Smuga

This ashcan-sized comic presents two budding comic talents at the beginning of a very steep learning curve. The subject matter, evident in the title, feels like something that's been on Kim's mind for some time now, but something must be working for her because, hey, she's married. The protagonist is an engineer named Gwen who, disgusted with real life boys, decides to build her own boyfriend. No pseudo-science here-the mechanical boyfriend miraculously appears as if Gwen were Tony Stark-and immediately infuriates its builder by sitting with another girl. There's not too much to the story-Gwen agonizes over Denby sitting with other girls, although it turns out Denby's heart is true.

John Brain (Room at the Top) advised would-be novelists not to even attempt a novel before they are forty because they lack the life experience. Kim might have let this idea gestate a while. It plays out on the level of High School Musical, without the songs. At end of story it turns out Denby is true blue, and plants a lingering kiss on his builder's mouth. Now if a guy were writing this story, the robot would turn into a six pack and a joint after sex.

Maciek's art is in the manga style, but lacking their chops. Anatomy is wonky, backgrounds are sketchy. His ink lines look like scratching with broom straws. Maciek needs some serious life-drawing and an intensive course in perspective and drafting. The scratched inking doesn't work. Pick up the brush, Maciek, and get to work.

Boyfriend is cute, but unlikely to appeal to more sophisticated readers.

Dave is playing tricks on us. Glamourpuss a series of line drawings and meditation on the techniques of great newspaper strip artists, mostly Alex Raymond. There's no story. I've seen similar work in artists' sketchpads. Steve Rude's sketchpads, for example, offer one example after another of the Dude's favorite illustrators and are fully worthy of being published—as sketchpads.

Dave is also playing with the comic book form, knowing the combo of word balloons and pictures are as irresistible to any fan as a trail of cookies. We just can't stop ourselves from reading the balloons, no matter how inane. Marshall McLuhan is spinning in his grave. In the case of Glamourpuss, the medium is the message. Period. Nothing else to say.

Dave may have a bee up his ass about the world of fashion. A lot of people do. They look at the "People" spreads in their daily paper, read People but not Vanity Fair, and resent what little space the evening news gives to our celebrity-drenched culture. Thus there is a checklist of haute couture invoking Dolce & Gabbana , Kenneth Jay Lane, Starter Club, and yes, Gucci (secret Nexus connection.)

The drawings are beautiful and innocent. Sim explains how he lifts them from fashion spreads and tries to use Alex Raymond's inking style. I would guess Sim has the two R. Crumb Art & Beauty Magazines, and they may have inspired him. Whereas Crumb's commentary is deliberately naïve and obtuse, Sim's is more stream-of-consciousness. Most of his brain is in his hand while he's drawing. The lettering is just an afterthought. As an artifact it's interesting. As a story or comic book it's not.
Iron Man is masterful story-telling. I loved it, mostly due to Robert Downey's jitterbug portrayal. I liked Jeff Bridges too, until he put on that ridiculous armor. The thriller convention demands that the hero battle the villain, but I don't buy that some corporate honcho can just slip into a multi-billion dollar weapons system and make it work. In fact, the whole flying thing is problematic. Dozens of people have died trying to work the bugs out of the V-22 Osprey. The same thing would happen with a non-aerodynamic flying suit. But I nitpick. Best Stan Lee cameo ever.
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