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Showing posts from August, 2016

Kirby changed everything

Today is the late great Jack Kirby's birthday. I didn't get his artwork as a kid; it was too old school, I thought. Then I grew up and gained some perspective: it's some of the most dynamic, propulsive art I've ever encountered. There was modern art before Kirby and then after Kirby, with his influence felt everywhere. He was Pop Art before the movement had a name. Our modern pop culture is built on a foundation he laid with Stan Lee: the characters and worlds on display at your local theater in recent years originated with his pencil. Star Wars features a plot that's curiously reminiscent of Kirby's magnum opus, the Fourth World saga. His unused concept art for an aborted sci-fi film was used in Operation Argo, the CIA rescue mission to save American hostages in Iran. He brought the fight for commercial artists' rights to the forefront.

I jokingly refer to my nuclear family as the Fantastic Four. I couldn't do that without Jack Kirby and our popular c…

Who You Are: Pearl Jam's No Code Turns Twenty

Twenty years ago this week, Pearl Jam released No Code. This raises two questions in my mind. First, where the hell did those two decades of my life go? Second, has the album held up all these years later? To the first question I can only shake my head in disbelief and mutter to myself. To the second, I can answer unequivocally that yes, No Code does indeed hold up. In fact, it's an album that's only improved with both age and some distance from the preconceptions of critics and fans back in 1996. Songs like "Sometimes," "Hail Hail," "Off He Goes," and "Present Tense" are near-perfect examples of what the band does best: heartfelt sincerity laced with a strong does of caustic world-wariness. Other tracks like "Smile" and "Red Mosquito" remind us what ramshackle fun their music can be. And the lead single and polyrhythmic tour-de-force "Who You Are" simply baffled listeners—it sounded unlike anything the ban…

Writing Roundup: Suicide Squad and two cult classics

Another post collecting links to stuff I've written elsewhere? Yep, afraid so. I've started reviewing cult classic movies over at The After Movie Diner, which has been a blast. So far they've shared two of them—The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Howling II. If you read this blog you know they both originated here. After my review of Class of 1984 goes live at the Diner, the rest of my reviews will likely debut there. I love cult classics, genre films, b movies, and the stuff polite society turns their noses up at. I work in scholarly publishing and overall most of the people in my life are scarily intelligent and learned, but let's be real: sometimes smarties miss the joke. I've been guilty of it myself once or twice. But enjoying movies that are so bad they're good (or in some cases just legitimately good and no one seems to notice), helps keep us all humble, I think. I have a mental list of films I want to cover for the Diner, including two from underground l…

Cult Classics: Class of 1984

Upon its release in 1982, two questions about Class of 1984 emerged: was it trying to serve as a prescient forecast of what was to come in secondary education, or was it just an unsubtle parody of those types of stories? I think it's a little from column A and a whole hell of a lot from column B. It veers straight into absurdist territory early and stays there throughout. The film's inner-city high school is equipped with metal detectors—something that didn't become a reality in schools until the 1990s, if I recall—but the most vile and troublesome kids at the school also look like they either just stepped out of a Broadway musical or are extras on loan from Fame. Ah, the early 1980s, when movies and television depicted punks in a way that can only be described as hilariously clueless. Who can ever forget the infamous episode of Quincy, M.E. that tried to scared the bejesus out of parents all over the country with its portrayal of the scourge of punk rock? It's clear …

Writing Roundup: Superheroes and Fandom

Over the last month or so I reviewed a couple of books and also wrote an article about growing up a Cloak and Dagger fan—something that might not resonate with many but likely will with at least a few Gen Xers of a certain age. These pieces are all available to read on Sequart.

Last Night, A Superhero Saved My Life was a phenomenal essay collection that shines a light on how some of us will always keep certain fictional characters close to our hearts because they offer us hope in difficult times and also bring joy to our lives. I can't recommend this one enough. It's heartfelt and moving throughout and was a real pleasure to read and review.


Bob Proehl's debut novel A Hundred Thousand Worlds is set in the world(s) of comic cons, following a cast of lovable loser creative types as they travel cross-country, finding love and hope along the way. So basically right in my wheelhouse. It's as if he wrote this one for me. It's also heartfelt and moving—are you sensing a t…