Author Archives: JP

More Craftiness…”Stitch Wars”

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This exhibit looks wonderful. I want to own one of everything.

I think my favorites are the little ewoks…or the enormous Chewy…and some of the crochet and felt work is pretty mind-blowing.

From the Flickr Set:

This artwork is part of Bear and Bird Gallery’s “Stitch Wars” exhibition in Lauderhill, Florida. Exhibition runs July 18 – August 29, 2009, for more information visit our website www.bearandbird.com

Discovered on Twitter, via @craftster…

– Jenn

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New Fave of the Week…

Chris and I took a BBQ prep detour to the comic shop this weekend and he picked up Batwoman Detective Comics for me. He said it was excellent, and I wholeheartedly agree. I agree so much, I read the thing three times in a row.

Greg Rucka’s dialogue and story is just as engaging and sharp as his Gotham Central work, and J.H. Williams III brings a really beautiful, whimsical (but incredibly clean-lined) art-nouveau feeling to the whole thing. His work on this reminds me of a perfect middle ground between Tony Harris’s super-precise photographic work on Ex Machina and David Mack’s watercolors on Kabuki. And the panel work is INCREDIBLE.

I apologize profusely for my lack of a scanner, but I had to give some sort of example of the awesome:

IMG_8064IMG_8060

This comic is like candy for your eyes and brain. Pick it up. Read it. Do it now!

– Jenn

Watchm–dear god, this thing is over three hours long!

My Watchmen Director’s Cut arrived in the mail yesterday. I watched it. Here are my thoughts…

Liked:

*Dr. Manhattan disappearing all the reporters and cameras, the way he did in the comic, instead of jetting right up to Mars.

*More Rorschach. His character gets more time, and he’s truer to the comic. The psych-evaluation is more detailed, and you get to see more of his weird attitude toward Laurie, and women in general.

*Hollis Mason’s death and Dan’s reaction. This scene was my favorite. Despite the terrible un-scariness of the knot-tops (they look like a bunch of pudgy middle-aged grips and dollies and best boys and whatever other sorts of people work on movie lots), the scene itself was great. When it is switching in and out of Hollis Mason’s perspective and you see that he’s fighting all his old-timey nemeses…it’s quite touching. And very beautifully put together.

*The tiny bit of extra interaction between the Comedian and Laurie in her flashback.

*Sweet holographic cover, dudes!!

*Extra blue wang…j/k guys. I don’t even know if there is more. I have some sort of a blue wang filter on my life goggles that prevents me from noticing it until someone blatantly points it out to me.

*The general feeling that the whole movie makes a lot more sense.

Did not like:

*The extra Laurie. I felt just fine about her performance in the theatrical cut because she was every bit as lame as the Laurie in the comic. The director’s cut adds some long and unnecessary scenes that try to make her out to be some sort of tough no-nonsense badass. It’s in no way true to the original character, only serves to highlight her subpar acting skills and plays like something out of a completely different movie. That said, I DID like that they focused more on her relationship with Jon as a military imperative.

*Not specifically a gripe with the director’s cut, but now that Chris mentioned it, I cannot help but notice the glaring lack of saxophone on the soundtrack.

*Also not a director’s cut gripe, but the old people makeup is still really distracting.

And finally…

Had me going, “WTF??!!”:

*”Mommy, that man in the ship, that man….IS HE JESUS?”

…IS….THAT MAN….JESUS??

I will bet anyone $10 that Zach Snyder LOVED that line. I bet he was like, “YES! YES THIS IS IT!” and everyone else was like, “Man, actually that’s kind of lame. I think we might have to leave that out.” and Zach Snyder was like, “Screw you guys, I’M THE DIRECTOR! It’s goin’ in the director’s cut!”

In closing:

lolowl

-Jenn

Knitting for nerds…

Sometimes, my two favorite things come together and make beautiful babies…

Hellboy (look at his teensy little six-pack!!)

Little Endless Amigurumi

The Most Beautiful Sweater in the World

And of course… the HAT.

-Jenn

Fun with Fallacies…Volume 1: Garth Ennis

To celebrate my recently completing Preacher and being excited about The Boys, I bring you…Fun with Fallacies!…inspired by the things that I am sick to death of hearing when I bring Garth Ennis up in polite company.

FALLACY:

“Garth Ennis is a misogynist pig who HATES and OBJECTIFIES WOMEN!”

TRUTH:

Garth Ennis hates people.  Garth Ennis hates everything. As Jamie says, he’s an equal-opportunity hater. He even hates inappropriate quotation marks:

Garth Ennis writes complex, three-dimensional characters, some of whom (like Herr Starr, above) happen to be misogynists, either knowingly or unconsciously. The reason you might feel uncomfortable is because he’s really good at making sympathetic characters out of the worst people in the world. Some people like their antagonists all-bad and their protagonists nothing less than fine upstanding individuals. Garth Ennis has a habit of mixing it up.

Ennis writes plenty of realistic, strong, sympathetic female characters, and he also writes characters who are parodies of misogynist female stereotypes. He writes horrible, perverted, violent people who somehow manage to inspire some–extremely uncomfortable–sort of sympathy in the reader. He also writes plenty of sympathetic male characters who have serious, potentially deal-breaking character flaws. Ennis may fill his comics with repugnant individuals, but how are you supposed to recognize the good in characters without some real horribleness to provide contrast? If you want your comics black and white, go read some Golden Age Superman.

FALLACY:

“The Boys is unnecessarily crude and homophobic!”

TRUTH:

The Boys is using extremely crude imagery and storylines to shove your own feelings about homo and heterosexuality in your face. Garth Ennis is trying to make a point about homosexuality and sexual deviancy being two very different things. He’s acknowledging that homophobia has many faces, and sexual deviancy comes in all forms. He’s not dumbing it down for you. He’s also not afraid to make his protagonists huge jerks, and he’s not afraid to use disgusting imagery and behavior to provoke a visceral reaction in his readers…reactions that he often uses to flip some shit over on you when you least expect it.  Which brings me to…

FALLACY:

“If you love Cassidy as a character, YOU are a failure as a woman and you are perpetuating fucked up mysogbleah bleah bleah…”

TRUTH:

cassidy

Cassidy is a wonderful character. He is wonderful because he is seriously flawed and completely lets you down…REPEATEDLY. Anything else would be totally disingenuous. You know that book Twilight? That’s what Cassidy would be if Garth Ennis was a misogynist pig. Unlike Stefanie Meyer and her spank-bank-born sparkly vampire, Garth Ennis is not endorsing or justifying Cassidy’s behavior. He’s simply putting it out there for you to process, just like Jesse Custer is asked to process it.

As the story progresses, you as the reader expend an enormous amount of energy hoping Cassidy will DO THE RIGHT THING and you are repeatedly disappointed. You come out of the story either satisfied or angry, depending on whether you decided you could still see the good in this seriously fucked up dude. When it’s all said and done, you aren’t really sure the characters in Preacher deserve to come out on top. But you can’t help feeling happy that they do.

FALLACY:

“Garth Ennis swears too much!”

TRUTH:

Garth Ennis swears just enough.


Next Week…Fun with Fallacies: Bruce Springsteen…

FALLACY:

“Bruce Springsteen sings about cars and ladies and has nothing worthwhile to say!!. . . . .”

-Jenn

My Hormones Were Just Taken to Warp Speed.

I am back from the dead to say one thing:

Star Trek was awesome.

Star Trek was so awesome it is almost gross.

Star Trek ended and I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of sadness and frustration that I couldn’t just sit back down and watch it again.

I came this close to seeing Star Trek twice yesterday, but I backed down at the last minute, which is cool because it was sold out anyway.

I am not a Star Trek expert, by any means. I know what a Tribble is, and I’m relatively up on who was sleeping with whom on TNG, but in general, I am a Star Trek novice. Luckily, this movie manages to give a huge nod to the old-timey Trekkies while accomplishing a complete reboot of the whole freaking franchise. My mother–who used to record all of the original re-runs and episodes of the Next Generation, who took us to see multiple Star Trek films in the theater and who possesses a much more encyclopedic knowledge of Star Trek in general–loved it, so it must be pretty great.

The performances were extremely well-done. The actors managed to play their characters convincingly, but without resorting to cartoonish imitations of the original cast. No stilted, melodramatic Captain Kirk voice. Scotty was just a loud Scottish dude. No funny Leonard Nimoy sing-songy deadpan. And I thought Abram’s vision of Chekov as a 17 year old with a heavy “v’s are w’s” drawl was pretty brilliant.

The story was well-written and well-executed and managed to turn the entire Star Trek world on its head while staying true to 40-some years of history and tradition. Yes, I just referenced “Star Trek history and tradition”. I’m dealing.

But of course, the most important factor catapulting this film from “pretty awesome” to deserving its own seat in the HISTORIC HALLS OF CINEMATIC GREATNESS is this:

Sexy Star Trek

Almost everyone in this film is HIGHLY BEDDABLE. The people they got for this movie are so disgustingly attractive it makes me feel like puking. In all seriousness, I am not a person who watches movies just so I can drool over the bodies on screen, but DAMN. DAMN IT, INTERNET. I’M A HUMAN BEING, NOT A FILM CRITIC. You can’t expect me to sit through two hours of attractive people in skin-tight jumpsuits alternately trading witty insults and kicking the crap out of each other without having my mind (and loins) completely boggled.

You know what? I can’t even review this movie right now because my brain is filled with images of sexy sexy Captain Kirk and **SPOILER ALERT** angsty Spock with hotass Lt. Uhura all up in his grill. It is clouding my judgment! I’m not sure if I just saw the greatest Star Trek movie ever made, or if I am having my hormones shamelessly manipulated by JJ Abrams and Co.

Chris, please review this movie soon so I can make sense of my feelings. If you need me I’ll be over at Oaktree Cinemas, watching it for the second time and taking secret camera phone footage for use in the Spock/Kirk/Uhura fan videos I intend to post all over YouTube. If you go with Jane and she tells you she has no idea what I’m talking about, please know that she is a LIAR (a considerate girlfriend, but a LIAR nonetheless).

Please send help soon. Thank you.

-Jenn

Ladies Love Angsty Antiheroes…

I just edited this to add links…because what use is a big blocky mass of text if you can’t click away at it like a crazy person?

I love Sandman. For the record, I dropped ninety bones on volume three of the Absolute Sandman last weekend and read through it in a couple days with no sense of buyer’s remorse. And I am 99% positive I’ll shell out the cash for the fourth volume when it comes in.

Some people would find this pretty typical, and sometimes I even find myself shaking my head. Because I am a woman. There is certainly a divide between boys and girls in the world of comics and the line usually falls with traditional superheros on one side, and just about anything released under the Vertigo imprint on the other*. Until the mid eighties, when DC recruited Alan Moore and set off the “British Invasion“, comics were pretty exclusively a young boy’s club.

Looking back, it’s hilariously appropriate that the first new book printed under the Vertigo label was Death: The High Cost of Living, a limited run narrative that boasted an adorable immortal goth girl as a protagonist. The character of Death was such a fitting mascot for the new breed of comic book fan that was emerging. Suddenly, comics were dark, hip and edgy. There were entire issues of people just sitting around! Talking! About…life and stuff! People just like us! Regular folks who had never read a comic in their lives had boxes reserved at their local comic shop. My mother was one of them (thanks, mom!).
This new direction in comics didn’t have anything to do with women specifically. Vertigo was not created to give women a home in comics, it was simply the result of a shift in focus. It was a home for mature content and an umbrella for this new wave of comic writers and their increasingly diverse readership. The basic difference between these titles and any other that had a home at DC was that they weren’t being marketed exclusively to teenage boys. As the Vertigo imprint was not created for women, it wasn’t only women who found comics for the first time through titles like Sandman, Swamp Thing, and Hellblazer, but there was something about these titles–and their brooding, complex protagonists–that seriously appealed to the fairer sex. The sudden influx of women, and the newness of Vertigo created a convenient opportunity to pigeonhole female readers. Women loved brooding anti-heroes. Women enjoyed cerebral, melodramatic fantasy. Superhero comics could still be a boy’s club, because the girls stayed over there.

Even now, girls are not expected to enjoy “cape” comics. The boys have their classic heroes, and the girls get Fables, American Virgin and Y: The Last Man. And yet, for the past two decades, the lines between “lady-friendly” comics like the ones I just mentioned and “cape” comics like Superman, X-Men and Batman have grown increasingly fuzzy. DC and Marvel are now full to the gills with brooding, complex anti-heroes who have only grown more broody and complex as their stories are re-imagined and rebooted in the new millennium. It’s not that these titles are trying to get themselves a piece of the female demographic, it’s that their creators are acknowledging that a good portion of their readers are intelligent adults who enjoy intelligent, adult themes. Superhero comics aren’t just for little boys anymore.

I was reminded of all this when I picked up a couple Daredevil trades this weekend. Daredevil was my gateway drug to “cape” comics of all sorts. Granted, Daredevil doesn’t wear a cape…but you know what I mean. I was introduced to the character by an old roommate, who had invited me along on his weekly trip to the comic shop. This was in early 2001, after a years-long hiatus from comics of any sort. When we got there, he saw me thumbing through back issues of Sandman and after a bit of digging around, handed me Daredevil Vol. 2, issue 15. I looked down at it, and the cover looked admittedly mind-blowing. But I was still wary. A superhero comic? Really? Wasn’t that a little…juvenile?

With some prodding, I was convinced. I bought issues 15 and 16 and took them home to read. I finished them in about fifteen minutes, sitting on our front porch, and was left completely floored. This was not what I expected from a superhero title. It was so dark and broody. And the art was fantastic. This was the beginning of David Mack’s first run on the series, and I suspect he was the reason my roommate pushed the issues he did. He wanted me to give the story a chance and hoped the art would suck me in. He wasn’t wrong. As I finished, he came downstairs to see how I was doing.
“Holy crap,” I said. “this is awesome.”
“Isn’t it?” He sounded proud. I heard him drop something on the seat next to me and looked over to find a stack of Daredevil back issues. “So you can catch up,” he said.
And I did.

What’s my point? I guess my point is that this divide between “adult” and “cape” comics isn’t really as pronounced as some would have you think. If I were back in community college, I would call it a “false dichotomy”. (I’m not, and I didn’t.) But really…this apparent divide isn’t such a divide at all, because over the past two decades, a huge number of titles on the DC and Marvel labels have become just as complex, adult and angsty as the best Vertigo has to offer. Daredevil has a wreck of a love life and regular mental breaks. Wolverine tried to kill Cyclops in a jealous rage. Creator-owned comics like Ex Machina and Powers are turning the traditional super hero formula on its head. In short…it’s a very exciting time for us grown-ups, and I do not plan to miss out on any of it.

-jp

* One could also say that the “lady’s section” includes overtly female series’ like “Spiderman Loves Mary Jane”, but I am simply not going there today…comics explicitly marketed toward teen girls (with the exception of something like Runaways) are in another world entirely, at least in my mind. In fact, this particular series only warrants a mention because my 14 year old boy brain thinks the title is hilarious.