Thursday, June 30, 2011

Can't Stop the Serenity

It's hard to believe that it's been almost ten years since Joss Whedon's Firefly, the short-lived but much loved show first aired on television.  What's even more surprising, though, is the fact that for a 14-episode program, its fan base is still expanding, seemingly growing even more passionate as time passes.  There are certainly comparisons to be made to Star Trek, a sci-fi show that suffered from low ratings and network bungling only to grow in popularity until its eventual return (fingers crossed in the case of Firefly).

Even if Firefly never makes it back to television, it still holds a place in my heart and stands, to me, as one of the best productions I've ever had the chance to experience.  It has all the elements of a good space opera, but the characters - so real, complex and engrossing - separate this from other properties, science fiction or otherwise.  Every episode is just a masterpiece.

2005's Serenity movie, then, was an unexpected and delightful treat to all the fans of the show; even if I'd like to story to continue for years and year, Serenity allowed closure for much of the story.  The few comics produced for Dark Horse over the last several years, then, have been almost as satisfying, though none more than Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale, the original graphic novel that's been out for a few months now.  The story answers many of the lingering questions about the character Shepherd Book, which is extremely fulfilling, but even more than that, it shows me that Joss Whedon and the production crew are still passionate about the property and still have stories left to tell.  If you are a fan of Firefly/Serenity, even if you didn't pick up the previous comics from Dark Horse, this book is an absolute must have.

Serenity, as it turns out, is screened annually in many cities across the country, and 2011 marks the sixth show here in Pittsburgh.  On Friday, July 8th the movie will play at the Orpheus Singing Society at 6301 Butler Street in Pittsburgh; there'll be games and prizes given away starting at 4:00, with the movie being shown at 8:00.  Tickets are $10 in advance, and here's the best part - all proceeds go to benefit the charity Equality Now, which (as per its website) is "dedicated to action for the civil, political, economic and social rights of girls and women."

I am goin' and I'm really excited!  I'll be wearing my Jayne Cobb hat, and I'm sure that about 50 percent of everyone else there will be, too.  But I don't care because it's a damn cool hat.  And hey, if anyone living near Pittsburgh reading this wants to come, too, even better.  I have it on good authority that "Teddy and the Yeti" co-creator Jeff McClelland will be there too, available for pictures, autographs and swift punches to the face, in the event that you hate him.

You can buy tickets in advance and get more info at the official Can't Stop the Serenity Pittsburgh homepage.  Hope to see you there!  Except for the punching part!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sea Monkeys look nothing like comic books would let on.

It's a shame that Sea Monkeys aren't advertised in the back of comic books anymore - this really is a former comic book advertising staple that disappeared from modern comics, what, 25 years ago?  Regardless, anyone who digs through the back issue bin at a local shop is sure to find an ad for these seemingly magical creatures that appear from dust to form 1950s-style nuclear families with water and a bit of luck.  Despite my staunch opposition to the mistreatment of animals and the understanding that Sea Monkeys are both living things and probably easy to kill, there's still something exciting and fanciful about sending two bucks in the mail and creating an entire underwater society on a whim.

In stark contrast to the artistic renderings on ads such as the two above (Sea Monkeys are just like people! They live in happy family units, wear bows in their hair and fly kites!!), the first time I made my own Sea Monkey pod, I was shocked at the actual appearance of these mystical sea swimmers.  It turns out that Sea Monkeys are a hybrid version of brine shrimp (you know...what blue whales eat!  Oh wait, that's plankton) and they look something like this:

Creepy, right?  I mean, this guy's doing some kind of hideous backstroke, not barbecuing, building a castle or tossing around a football with junior, as was implied in all of the comic book ads.  Why, I'd go as far as to say that real Sea Monkeys don't act nearly American enough for the average comic book reader.  Where's your patriotic spirit, creature so small that the standard tank comes with magnifying lenses built in?  Why aren't you wearing a funny crown, trying on pants or buying nail polish for your wife?  Why aren't you out doing manly things in the open air (water?), positioning yourself so that a well-placed fin covers your exposed human-like genitals?  WHY DON'T YOU ACT MORE LIKE ME?!

I recently bought another batch of Sea Monkeys (16 or 17 years after my mom "accidentally" knocked our first family into the sink), and I'm happy to report that everyone is doing well (I think.  They're swimming a lot, which I take to mean they're doing well).  I even bought a number of things from the official Sea Monkey catalogue to make sure I'm prepared, like vitamin-rich "Red Magic" food, banana-flavored (flavored?) treats and a tiny manual air pump.  I'm gonna make sure that, overinflated comic book expectations or not, I'll take care of these guys as best I can.

Wait, banana treats?  I love banana treats.  Hey, Sea Monkeys: maybe we're not so different after all, you and I.

(For now the "tank" sits in front of my Fantastic Four bookends box...and some Shrinky Dinks).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thing sketchbook, part 8

I look at these additions to the vaunted Thing sketchbook and I think to myself that these might just be the best group of five in the entire book.  Then I think that I tend to think that about just about any group when I see them.  It's still worth mentioning, though.

Let's take a look at the goods, shall we?

Dominic Vivona - New York Comic Con 2010

I met up with fellow FUBAR creator at the New York Comic Con and foisted upon him the first challenge I'd ever posed for the book.  Whenever someone does a sketch, I make sure to tell them that they can do whatever version of the Thing they'd like - but they usually end up drawing their version of the classic, cigar-smoking Thing.  That's not bad, mind you, but I decided to add some variety to the book and ask Dominic to draw the much-maligned She Thing, formerly the second Ms. Marvel.

Dominic had a heck of a time with it, drawing a couple versions before settling on what you see above.  He did a great job with the costume (check out the sash!), and the flowers are a nice touch.

I'm not going to go near the "Female Thing" line.

Jacob Chabot - New York Comic Con 2010

Jacob and I each had a story printed in Dark Horse's Strip Search anthology a few years back.  Since then, he's really made a name for himself with "The Mighty Skullboy Army" and several Marvel projects like "X-Babies".

Jacob did a short story in a recent Strange Tales miniseries where the Thing and the Human Torch grow mustaches, and I mentioned how much I liked it to him before handing him the book.

I bugged Jacob way too often during the day as I had plans to give the book to one more person - probably to the point where he hates me now - but wow! Look at that artwork.  It's got a speech balloon and everything!

Danny Cruz - New York Comic Con 2010

Danny spent the weekend at the Wagon Wheel Comics booth for last year's New York Comic Con.  I planned on asking him to draw in the sketchbook earlier, but he didn't end up getting a chance until there was about an hour left in the show.

I asked him to draw another variation of the Thing - the spiky "Pineapple" version from when he was powered up for a bit - and he really delivered.  Rarely does the Thing look so mean!

C. Martin Croker - Xcon World 2010

You might recognize the name C. Martin Croker from his work as both an animator and a voice actor - he's played Zorak and Moltar on Space Ghost Coast to Coast - but he's also a big fan of Ben Grimm (and Kirby creations in general, though who isn't?).

I spent a good deal of time chatting with him and distracting him from doing other work over the three-day mini convention, and on Sunday I got him to draw this beauty for me. I love the brow on this one.

Thomas Scioli - Pittsburgh Comic & Collectibles Show 2010

Tom Scioli is best known for his work on the Image Comics Godland series, where he channels Jack Kirby every issue.  Tom also drew a cover for Teddy and the Yeti #3, so it was great to meet him in person.

Knowing how Kirby-esque Tom's artwork is, I asked him to draw an "early" Thing (when he looked more like a monster and less like an awesome rocky guy) and he drew this piece reminiscent of 1961's Fantastic Four #1 - the torn spacesuit is a great touch!

That's 40 total sketches I've shown so far, and we are just about caught up with the entire book - I've got one more sketch after these, so I just might wait to show it until I get more (hopefully soon).  This sketchbook is something that I started on not much more than a whim, but has quickly become one of my more prized possessions - not just because of the artwork itself (though there is that, too), but because of all the great stories and memories behind them.  I've decided that if my house ever catches on fire, this is one of maybe two things not living that I'd try to get before jumping out of a window or whatever.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Google Images has been kind, FUBAR v.2 cover, stats and more!

- Blogger is kind enough to save viewing statistics for this blog, and I am obsessive enough to check them all the time; the stats tell me nothing other than how many views specific posts have in a given time period and what countries the views come from, which is juuuust unintrusive enough for me to be okay with.  These page views, for the most part, seem to follow a predictable trend, with new posts getting the majority share (but fading away after a week or so) with a few time-tested posts continually getting hits.  Sometimes, though, a post from three months ago will all of a sudden pop back up on the radar and top the list in a given week.  This is thoroughly confusing.

Case in point: I've had, what, seven different posts with art from my Thing sketchbook; one entry (the third, I think?) keeps getting more hits than any other.  I think the big reason for this is because, as someone else pointed out to me, some of the sketches show up pretty early on in Google Images searches, which I think is extra cool.  The wording is sometimes tricky, but I've found that searching for images of the Thing with the keyword "cigar" somewhere in there brings a bundle of familiar sketches, like the one above from Chuck BB.  I've seen images from the sketchbook as high as on the sixth page of results, which, when considering how many thousands of images of the Thing there are out there, is fairly surprising.

- Speaking of statistics (YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECT!), the month of June still has a few days left in it, and it already is my most-viewed month since Blogger started keeping record of such things (according to this graph, it looks like a total of zero people viewed it in May of 2009).  November, 2010, directly after the New York Comic Con, held the previous high, but woo!  No more.  Thanks, everyone, for reading my stupid ramblings!

- One of the big reasons for this jump is because of the "Accordion Theory" comic strip, which has quickly become one of my most-viewed posts.  It seems that Yahoo! Images is bringing the strip up very early when people search for "Weird Al" Yankovic, which is great - especially since the man is getting a lot of publicity lately for his brand new album, "Alpocalypse", which came out on Tuesday.  It's a tremendous album, and you should totally buy several copies of it.  My goodness, look at the cover!

And holy crap, buy it buy it buy it!  And marvel and how incredible it is.

- You know what other cover is cool?  The just-released cover to the much-anticipated FUBAR volume 2, due out this fall.  Danilo Beyruth drew this one just as he did the cover for volume 1, and as with that one he knocked this out of the park.  Really, how awesome is this cover?  Very awesome.  That's the answer.  It is.

- Your friend (and mine) Paul Tucker is hard at work on a new story featuring John Watkins, Phantom for Hire!  Here's some thumbnails...see if you can guess what's happening!  I can, but...I wrote the script.

- Lastly, happy birthday to friend and Franks and Beans co-creator Larry, whose exact date of birth I always manage to forget, but hey, it's around here some time.  I hope he enjoys the Dukes of Hazzard parody porno DVD that I bought for him, which is sure to bring laughs and laughs.  And boobs.

Oh, hey, we (and I think eight other people) went to Kennywood amusement park last week, and I filmed the Thunderbolt roller coaster while riding it.  Watch it, and hold your hands up when the car goes down the hill.

Friday, June 24, 2011

website maintenance

If you head on over to the main Teddy and the Yeti website, you'll find...well, nothing.  The same is true for the Franks and Beans website, and this may cause undo consternation and wild, speculative rumors regarding my personal life.  Don't worry, though, because this is all due to some much needed updates on the server that hosts both sites.

Perhaps you've noticed that Teddy and the Yeti's homepage hasn't updated in, oh, forever, and this is due in large part to said server issues (plus perhaps a small dose of laziness).  Once the updates are complete and everything is ready to go, there'll be a new - and get this, functional - Teddy and the Yeti page up to view.  And boy,  I hope I don't have to redo the entire Franks and Beans website again, but it's possible as all of those files are saved in different formats, as opposed to the T&Y site which is saved in the wonderful "iWeb" program for the Mac.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jesus Merino's look of constant and unbelievable shock

I can't stress enough how much I enjoy the artwork of Jesus Merino, current penciller on Action Comics.  I'm even more impressed at the fact that the artist has broken out of his role as permanent inker to Carlos Pacheco and has become a distinguished artist in his own right.  Even so, I continue to be amused every time I pick up a book that Merino has illustrated, because there's one feature that constantly stands out to me: in any given issue, several characters will be drawn with a shocked expression to the point that their eyes look like they are about to pop out of their sockets only to swing loosely, dangling from their optic nerves.

All of the images in this post are from Action Comics #900, a book where Merino shared artistic duties with Pete Woods and a few others.  Let's take a look, shall we?

Wow!  There must be some incredible, mind-blowing, surprising-beyond-belief action happening in these pages.  I've never seen Superman so obviously worried!!

Ah well.  We all have our little quirks, Mr. Merino, and I suppose that this is yours.  I still enjoy your work, and honestly, this is something I've come to look forward to every time I see your name on the cover of a book.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The blog is mobile! Plus, Mr. Massive CGI, FUBAR and more!

- Technology is an ever changing beast, my friends, and if you don't keep up with it...well, you're liable to be left behind, like...Napster or something.  Oh, wait, Google tells me that Napster is still around.  Really?  Huh.  That's nice.  Anyway, this blog recently took a small leap forward as I was able to update it for mobile devices.  So if you're reading this on an iPhone or some equivalent piece of technology, it now is simpler and easier to read.  Fantastic.

- Hey, and speaking of rampant, unwarranted self promotion, Blogger was also helpful in pointing me to the site, a site where a lot of people go to...uh...well, hope that other people will find and read their blogs about random things.  I joined up and put links to a few posts I thought were interesting (they're all interesting, right??), and what do you know?  Those posts got a bump in readers almost immediately afterwards.

This picture from the Motor City Comic Con is floating around the Internet, thanks to the site  This site collects pictures from various comic conventions and posts them online for all to see.  It seems localized to the Michigan-Ohio-Pennsylvania area right now, but I suppose that just means there's room for growth.  Check 'em out and send them some pictures of conventions you've been to if you can.

- I got this image in my e-mail a few days ago of a CGI version of Mr. Massive and his alter ego, Andy Vann.  I will be honest here - I have no idea what it's for, but it does look pretty cool.  I'm not crazy about Mr. Massive's explosive hair, but the rest works and overall it's pretty intriguing.  If there are more...I'll show 'em.

- My new FUBAR story (with artist Mario Wytch) is slowly coming together - this is an image from the fourth page.  The FUBAR guys are in Philadelphia this weekend for a Wizard World convention, and from everything I hear things are going very well.  Volume II is out in August for the Baltimore Comic-Con!

- If you're looking to apply in person for the new Batman movie filming soon in Pittsburgh, today's the last day!  So get to it!

- Lastly, I just got the complete series collection of Beast Wars in the mail and woo! is it cool.  It comes with a comic that serves as the official prequel to the series, new special features, and oh yeah, 52 episodes of the best Transformers series ever produced.  Buy it.  Buy it!!  Beast Wars!

Monday, June 13, 2011

"The Dark Knight Rises" extras auditions

On Saturday morning, I drove to the Omni Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh to apply to be an extra in the soon-to-be-filming The Dark Knight Rises movie.  Apparently, half of the city had this idea in mind as well.

The above picture is of that line at around 10:30 am on Saturday, and it wasn't entirely unexpected.  Comic book websites picked up on it (, local TV broadcasts and newspapers were reporting it (, I was blogging about it ( and lots of people were talking about it (I...don't have a link for that...but it's true, trust me).  Even so, I was surprised to see a literal quarter mile line waiting for me when I walked to the site.  The human chain stretched across blocks, across streets of traffic, around buildings and corners.  At several points, news reporters showed up to film the spectacle:

In all, I waited outside and in line with Larry and a few new friends (as they were in front of and behind me) for around five hours before I even made it into the hotel.  Thank goodness the weather cooperated; it was neither oppressively hot nor was it raining, as it had been one or the other for much of the previous week.  I don't think I could have made it in 90 degree weather dressed as I was with no water or shade, unless I was going for the role of "guy with severe heat exhaustion".

After waiting in line, I and the people around me were whisked away into the hotel's ballroom where we sat for another hour.  Eventually, we heard from representatives of the casting agencies working on this movie.  We filled out forms with contact information, measurements and even "special skills" (telepathy, in case anyone's wondering), we heard all about what not to do if we got called to be in the movie (no cameras, no cell phones, no bringing your dog with you), we got a picture taken and we were on our way.

I wore a suit and tie to this casting call, not because I wanted to exude any sort of professional image, but because the online instructions said to dress in character, and one of the groups was "businessman/woman".  Surprisingly few other people did - the favorite outfit for the day seemed to be "Steeler jersey", which I totally get, and realize that a normal day in Pittsburgh might look the same.  I was expecting/hoping to see someone show up in a full Batman costume, but two or three logo shirts were all I witnessed.

Extras will start getting calls, we were told, as early as the last week of June, and the movie will require between 2,500 and 3,500 extra roles.  This might seem like pretty good odds to anyone signing up, but I'd estimate that there were right around 2,500 people there on this, the first day to sign up (there are three more days set for the hotel and continuous online registration).  Naturally, I hope that I make the cut, and the fact that my job comes with summers off and previous extra-ing experience might help my cause a bit.  I've got my fingers crossed; regardless, it was quite a day and quite an experience.  Batman, Pittsburgh loves you.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thing sketchbook, part 7

You know what it's time for?  Clobberin' time.  And that means more Thing sketches Thing sketchbook.  I might want to come up with a better name.  Anyway, this batch of five features some real gems.  Hope the enjoyment level is...right up there!

Ron Frenz - Pittsburgh Comicon 2009

I approached Ron Frenz with my sketchbook, and he told me that he could do a detailed sketch for X amount of dollars (I forget the exact figure), or a less detailed sketch for free.  Cheap jerk that I am, I went the free route - and this is the result.  I can't imagine what the "detailed" sketch would have looked like, because this is pretty wonderful as it is.

Mark Welser - Pittsburgh Comicon 2010

The marker from Ron Frenz's sketch on the previous page has bled through to this page (really, I should know better and carry a backing board with me at all times...WHY AM I SO STUPID?!).  I timidly asked Mark if he could cover the marks up with a sketch, and he proceeded to outdo most of the professional artists in the book.  The color is a really nice touch.

I asked him to add some blue in at the end to the Thing's trademark eyes, realizing I was pushing my luck with what was already a great sketch.  He agreed with me that it looked better with the blue, to my relief.

Jamal Ingle - Pittsburgh Comicon 2009

Jamal did this great, moody sketch for me, all the while talking about how Supergirl's skirt was much too short.  The main artist on the book, he had gotten some flack for drawing shorts on the character rather than falling in line with many artists who continue to draw upskirt shots of the teenage character.

Jamal Ingle, thank you for this Thing sketch, and for being a voice of reason in the comic field that sometimes creeps me out with its depiction of female characters.

Joe Sinnott - Pittsburgh Comicon 2010

"Joltin'" Joe Sinnott inked the Fantastic Four comic for years and years, and to me, he's the title's definitive inker, bringing consistency to the book over decades of work.  This might be my favorite entry into the book, as it's got so much history behind it.

If it were up to me, I'd put the man back on the book today.

Antonio Clark - Pittsburgh Comicon 2010

Antonio was one of the highlights from the "quick sketch" panel at the show, and was nice enough to do this sketch with Four Freedoms Plaza in the background.  He had lots of watercolor samples at his booth, all of which looked awesome.

Would you believe that I have even more Thing sketches to show?  How is that possible?  But I do.  Oh, I do.  And I will show them to you soon.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Random thoughts on the DCU reboot

Like many comic fans, I was surprised at the recent news that the entire DC Universe will be starting over, with 52 (FIFTY TWO!!!) new #1 issues to be released in September.  And, also like many fans, my first reaction was something akin to this: "I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS!!"

But now that there's a little more information circling about and, more importantly, we've all had some time to process this announcement, my opinions have mellowed somewhat and I now have a more stoic approach.

When it comes down to it, DC Comics is a money-making enterprise (though it could be argued that their greatest monetary value comes as an R&D tool for various other entertainment purposes, not the least of which can be witnessed from the slew of DC-related movies in development), and the company certainly has the right to retool its line of books and its characters as it sees fit.  And when you look at the state of the industry, it's no surprise that one of the biggest companies would want to try something different.

I recently found out that Doom Patrol had been cancelled, and for good cause - issues were selling in the 9,000 copy range.  When one of the two biggest comic companies in the world is selling a book that has only 9,000 readers, change is bound to happen.  (I will say that Doom Patrol, month in and out, was my favorite book that I could barely understand what was going on while reading it.)

Overall, though, I'm not going to worry about, say, Superman's lack of red underwear, because I'm fairly certain that, after a while, the things I like will eventually be reinstated.


Sure, there are things that irk me about this new direction for DC.  I hate, for example, every single costume in the above Teen Titans image.  Sure, Robin's going for the retro-cool look (that's similar to Firehawk's costume, isn't it?  Something like that), but the others...holy moley.  Superboy's taped a piece of paper to the back of his shirt?  And he has a big Superman tattoo?  R...really?

I also hate, with a passion, the renumbering of long-running titles like Action Comics and Detective Comics.  It took 73 years for Action Comics to reach issue #900 only to have it dialed back to a new issue #1?  Bah.

But here's the thing: there is no way on Earth that Action Comics won't be renumbered by the time it would reach issue #1000.  Heck, there's even a chance that Detective Comics will roll over to #900 in the less than two years that it'll take.

Superman will eventually have his classic "S" shield back.  Flash will probably lose that weird chinstrap thing he's got going on.  The good stuff will stay, the unnecessary changes will change back.  It's that simple.

And there are some cool things being solicited for this "new" universe, in fact.  For example: A NEW SWAMP THING SERIES  BY SCOTT SNYDER!

I am so excited for this book, after reading Alan Moore's fantastic work on the character and Snyder's impressive current Detective Comics run.

Also, DC is taking real steps to reach out to digital readers: it had to happen sooner or later, and releasing digital copies of books on the same day physical copies come out is historic for the medium.

I'll admit, though, that most of what I'm hearing is rather ho-hum.  No real big name creators and such seemingly random choices as to which characters get books of their own.  It seems like DC is trying to create a lineup of varied books (featuring culturally diverse characters) that, in a perfect world, would appeal to a wide range of readers, new and old.  But there's a reason that the Demon, Hawk & Dove, Sgt. Rock, OMAC and Mr. Terrific don't currently have books on the shelves.

The litmus test for this new direction, of course, will come in the months following September.  I'm sure that the new Justice League title will sell like gangbusters and that many others will start out strong (the media push has to count for something, after all), but I'm also sure that some of these other new titles will fail - it would be foolish to think otherwise.

The only thing we fans can do is wait and see what happens.  I'm willing to let events unfold as they may - I'll buy the titles I enjoy and I won't buy the titles that don't interest me or aren't well done, as I always do with few exceptions.

But really...Superboy's new costume is horrendous.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

casting call!

I almost convinced myself not to post this - I somehow thought that if I wrote about the recent casting call for the Dark Knight Rises movie, set to film soon in Pittsburgh, that I'd let other people in on the secret and I'd be pushed out in my attempt to be an extra (or anything, really...anything at all) in the film.  That was probably (probably?) a case of me not realizing just how little impact something like that would have on life in general and my chances with this movie specifically, so here we are!

For the past few months I've been waiting for the call to be made, and now it's almost here: this weekend will begin an open call for extras for next month's filming of the Batman sequel.  The Pittsburgh Film Office relayed this message from Smith & Webster-Davis/Nancy Mosser Cating, which was then quickly picked up in this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which says that around 2,000 extras will be needed to play "prisoners, thugs, guards, businessmen and women and sports fans".  If I get to play someone dead...oh man, one of my life's ambitions will be fulfilled (really).

The film is running (for now) under the working title "Magnus Rex."  The Pittsburgh Film Office's Facebook page had the below announcement, which had a pretty funny reply:


I'm going to try and show up for this Saturday's casting call.  I won't know if I'll be chosen to play an extra for another month and a half at the earliest, but here's hoping I can pull it off for at least a few days.   Maybe all that time on One Tree Hill will finally pay off.  Maybe.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Andromeda Jones by Whetzel and Gallo, X-Men: First Class review, the Mourning Star and More!

- A little while ago I posted a pinup of Andromeda Jones by Chris Whetzel that I had forgotten about for a number of years.  I decided to actually do something with it and, if nothing else, have a finished piece of art, so I shipped it off to Alan Gallo to ink it...and he came back at me with just a fantastic rendering.  The original file wasn't of optimal resolution, but Alan really kicked it's butt completely.

The next step is to get it colored, which will hopefully happen soon.

- I went to see X-Men: First Class on Friday, and like a lot of people I was pleasantly surprised with how good the movie actually was.  There's one trailer that compares it to The Dark Knight, which is just a ridiculous claim, but it was still very enjoyable and right up there, in my opinion, with the second X-Men movie (which was the last even remotely good one before Friday).  It's a shame that Marvel is doing next to nothing to promote this movie.

I did go through the entire movie thinking that the "Azazel" character was just a renamed Belasco, but Newsarama tells me that he was actually from the comic, as well.

- Paul Tucker has been going over in some detail the process he went through to put the new "Oh! The Horror!" cover together on his website, including thumbnails, the title design and the above pencilled piece.  If you haven't yet, check out Paul's site at  It's great.

A few days ago, I got the second volume of Kazimir Strzepek's The Mourning Star in the mail, and I am extra excited to break into it.  I bought the first book at a tiny comic festival in Olympia, Washington when I spent a summer a few years ago in nearby Shelton.  I absolutely love the first volume, which was nominated for an Eisner award.  It still doesn't get as much attention as it deserves, so I wanted to mention it here.

I bought the book for $13 from Bodega Distribution and got free shipping!  Anyone who's reading this (BOTH OF YOU!) should literally run right out and buy it today.  I mean, literally.  Put your shoes on!

- And lastly, because I apparently have to end with some kind of Franks and Beans reference/update, have you ever said to yourself, "where can I get a copy of that 'beard arrow' thing that I saw on that episode of Franks and Beans, my favorite irreverent Internet sketch comedy show of all time?"  I'm just saying, lots of words are said every day and eventually, even if at random, those words will be uttered in the proper sequence.

Regardless, on the main Franks and Beans website I've uploaded a few things recently, including the famous "Beard Arrow" graphic from the extended episode "Irony", as well as the great "Cha-Ching!" graphic from our most recent episode, "The Education Lottery Lottery Education", which is a more clever name than you could have come up with.  For real.