Comics Worth Reading » Meta Independent Opinions on Comics of All Kinds Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:16:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Happy Anniversary to Comics Worth Reading Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:19:12 +0000 Celebrating 15 years

I bought the domain on December 23, 1999, as a present for myself. That means that this year, it will have been operating for 15 years. The internet, particularly blogging, has changed a lot in that time, and so has this site, going from static pages to WordPress and from reference pages about comic series to a blog covering more topics, including related movies and books.

The modern gift category for the 15th anniversary is Watches, and I’m certainly thinking about time passing. (The traditional gift is Crystal, but I can’t tie that in.) When I started, I’d never read manga, and you could (barely) still read all the “good comics” in a month. The bookstore market for graphic novels hadn’t taken off, and book publishers hadn’t discovered graphic memoir. And the big American superhero publishers were still run out of New York City. Times have changed, and while these days, I never have enough time to keep this site updated or cover all the Comics Worth Reading I hear about, I’m still interested in writing if you’re still interested in reading. Thanks to all my readers, you few who remain. I couldn’t do it without you.

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We Went to Disneyland! Thu, 09 Oct 2014 00:50:12 +0000 In case you’re wondering why there hasn’t been very much content here over the last few days, we took a vacation. To sunny (very sunny) California, where we went to Disneyland. We’d been to Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida several times, but I’d never before seen the original (beta version) park. Here are some photos and thoughts from the trip.

October at Disneyland

October at Disneyland at park opening

How to Have the Best Time at Disneyland

KC visits with Beaker outside Muppet*Vision

KC visits with Beaker outside Muppet*Vision

We have come up with a workable strategy for enjoying an amusement park without killing ourselves. First, wake up much too early. (This is likely because our home 7 AM is only 5 AM here.) This allows for a relaxing, not rushed, start. Eat a good breakfast. Be at the park at opening — you will get to do the most in the first couple of hours while waiting the least.

But first, identify your handful of must-dos. These are the big-ticket rides you are really excited about. (Many other people likely feel the same way.) Read up on the parks before you go, and figure out what you think you’ll like. Head to your most-anticipated first, to start the day on a high point and spend the least time waiting. If you can grab a FastPass to another important attraction along the way, do so.

Ride whatever you can until you start getting tired or grumpy. Then have lunch, then leave. Go take a nap. Wake up, shower, change, and go back later in the day. We found this particularly important, since we are pale Midwesterners, and while we were lucky to have beautiful days, weather-wise, the high 80s temperatures and the sun got to us between 1-3 PM.

We stayed at the Grand Californian, which is excellent if you can afford it. It is the closest hotel to both parks, and it has the one best thing about Disneyland compared to WDW — location. It is actually part of the California Adventure park, which makes it the shortest travel time of any Disney hotel.

California Adventure

Paradise Pier at California Adventure

Paradise Pier at California Adventure

Our first day was spent at California Adventure, the newer of the two parks, and one that Disney has been struggling to find an identity for. The most successful bit seems to be Cars Land, which the kids adore. The theming is darned neat, with lots of thought put into a cohesive park section.

Our favorites in this park were

  • Radiator Springs Racers — a track ride that KC would go on, because it’s less about the thrills and more about the experience. Fun and involving, with different sections and lots of characters from the Cars movies. The more you know the film, the more I think you’d like this. The most popular ride in the place, from what I could tell.
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree — a whirling ride that was different from what you can find at most parks. Hard to describe, as baby tractors pull you around in a kind of mechanized “crack the whip” game.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania! — a more enjoyable shooting game than Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters (in the other park), because it’s easier to see what you’re doing and more fun, with pie-throwing animation and such. Enjoyable for all ages. Got to ride this twice thanks to a wonderful park employee who took pity on me after my roller coaster shakedown (see below).
  • Golden Zephyr — I rode this elevated spinner at night, which made for a cool breeze and a lovely vision, seeing the park all lit up.
  • Soarin’ Over California — We’d done this before in Florida, but it’s still gorgeous. Our first ride, early in the morning, which was a great start to the day.
  • Muppet*Vision 3D — although it is the exact same thing as its Florida cousin, the movie print seems clearer.
Mickey's Fun Wheel lit up for World of Color

Mickey’s Fun Wheel lit up for World of Color

California Screamin’ was disappointing for me. It’s the big roller coaster (shown in the picture), and if you like coasters, there is at least one of everything in this ride: a full 360-degree upside down loop, corkscrews, drops, and so on. However, I came off it queasy and shaky. I am likely getting too old for the thrills, sadly; if I were younger, I would have adored it. Other thoughts:

  • Monsters Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! is a drive-through ride where you sit in a car on a track while moving through recreations of scenes from the movie. While I am nostalgic about rides like this in Fantasyland (see below), it seemed disappointing for ride based on a modern movie to take this approach. Reportedly, this is a repurposed “ride a limo like a star” ride that was re-themed when they dropped many of the California-specific attractions. The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure does the “ride through the story” much better. Maybe it’s the music that improves it.
  • Each of us has ridden the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror before (in WDW) separately, and so we refuse to do it again. Love the theming leading up to the ride of the abandoned hotel, though, although there’s much less of it here.
  • We skipped A Bug’s Land entirely, since it seemed aimed at the kiddies.

Given the timing of our visit, there weren’t a lot of evening shows, but we loved the World of Color. Lights and fountains in front of the big ferris wheel, and parts were even better than fireworks. We were happy that we seemed to be able to do everything we wanted in a day, topped off by the light show, and satisfied when we left.


It's a Small World pavilion

It’s a Small World pavilion

I suppose it’s the park’s age that makes so many of the queues held outdoors in the sun. It was difficult to get used to, though. We planned two days for this park but really only needed one. Our second day wound up being dedicated to Fantasyland, which made me feel like a kid again, and then breaking early for real vacation relaxation. Our favorites here:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean — so much better than WDW. It’s a longer ride with a more exciting boat track (including a couple of drops I did NOT expect). If we weren’t too tired to walk all the way back, I’d ride this a couple more times.
  • It’s a Small World — I love this ride. I adore Mary Blair’s designs, and I thought it was neat to see movie characters sprinkled in (Alice in Wonderland in England, Woody and Jessie in the American West, and so on). We rode it twice in a row at night, and it was beautiful. I was impressed that the ride is so much bigger than at WDW, with its own building and several nearby snack areas themed to match.
  • The Enchanted Tiki Room — a great place to sit down for a while and admire the kitschy puppeteering. Same goes for Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, although that one is a lot more patriotic. These attractions capture the original imagination and ingenuity that made Disney the powerhouse it is today.
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin — silly but neat for a fan of the film. We took the Railroad over from Main Street, which worked well, and the train is another cool nostalgic ride.
  • Our flashback morning, where we rode Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and Alice in Wonderland all in a row. They’re all “ride through the story”, but they’re old school and charming. KC particularly liked the way the doors opened to let the cars through to another scene, since it kept you focused on what you were supposed to be looking at. I was sorry to miss Peter Pan’s Flight, but a 30-minute wait is ridiculous. I think, since it’s the first one in the land, people just stop as soon as they get there.
Lilo and Stitch in the islands in It's a Small World

Lilo and Stitch surfing in the islands in It’s a Small World

The not-so-great:

  • I should have known better, given my comments about the coaster above, but I started with the Matterhorn Bobsleds. Bad idea. It’s an old ride, and my general response was “these cars need more padding”. You’re sitting on plastic and being jounced around as it clunks through the curves. The kids near me seemed to love it, though.
  • The Haunted Mansion had been given a Jack Skellington/Nightmare Before Christmas makeover. I was looking forward to seeing it, but it was disappointing, because the add-ons weren’t as cleverly done as the original ride. I missed those ghosts and tricks. I don’t like the movie as much, so perhaps fans enjoy seeing the characters more.
  • Space Mountain had also been ghosted for the holiday, but I didn’t notice much difference. I think the WDW Aerosmith coaster has spoiled me, since it is so smooth and adrenaline-pumping that the other roller coasters seem clunky and jerky in comparison.
  • We skipped Big Thunder Mountain (and Frontierland entirely) after not enjoying the other coasters.
  • The Indiana Jones Adventure was the top attraction here, in terms of popularity. Even with a Fastpass, we waited a half-hour for four minutes of being shaken in a box. We thought it was more simulator, less track ride (like Star Tours), but no. Not worth the effort, and bad on the back. Disney made a really great move when they acquired Lucasfilm, though, since there was Indy and Star Wars stuff everywhere.
  • I was curious about Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, but we were feeling claustrophobic and thought a small vehicle under water wasn’t the best choice.
  • Tomorrowland also had a Big Hero 6 preview, but it wasn’t running when we were there due to audio difficulties.

Final Thoughts

Compared to WDW, Disneyland has a paucity of restaurants, particularly if you’re looking for something sit-down (table service) instead of grab-and-go. However, we did enjoy the Wine Country Trattoria for dinner (in California Adventure), with choices that both I (a gourmet) and KC (who likes food basic) could enjoy. Another day, for lunch, the Carnation Cafe had a great salad with shrimp, avocado, bacon, and blue cheese. Not too heavy but really filling.

It was great getting to compare and contrast rides and try the ones they don’t have in Florida, but I think I’ll stick to WDW in future. There’s much more to do and less crowding, with the greater amount of space allotted to the four parks. Also, more choices of places to stay with a greater range of prices and much better options for dining.

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A Valuable Reminder for Comic Women Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:57:46 +0000 The following sketch was done for me by Rob Walton (Ragmop). I thought it was from the one and only Philadelphia Comicfest in 1993, but googling suggests it was more likely 1996. Release dates confirm that, since the Ragmop comic started in 1995.

Rob Walton sketch

As you can see, it says “We women have to stick together.” That’s his character Alice on the left, and well, me on the right. I’d stopped by his table to tell him how I liked his series, which had a handful of issues out at that time. Later, he presented this to me as a surprise, which touched me, to say thank you for talking up his work (which happened on Usenet, back then). I’ve hung it in my office at work, as a reminder.

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How Not to Approach Someone at a Convention Mon, 04 Aug 2014 20:22:46 +0000 Earlier this year at a convention, I had an odd encounter that seemed like it could be a learning experience for some.

After appearing on a panel, during that time when people are filing out and in of the room, I was approached by someone who rudely demanded, “You were on the panel — who are you?” I repeated my name and website, and he said he had a website and what its URL was. When silence indicated that no more information would be forthcoming from him, I asked him what it was about. He said he reviewed comics.

This started giving me an odd feeling, particularly when, after the conversation ended, he followed me to another room. He clearly wanted something, but I don’t know exactly what it was. My best guess was either advice or a link, but I still don’t know, exactly, since he did everything wrong and seemed uncomfortable communicating, as though he was expecting me to draw him out.

Here’s what he could have done right:

  1. The most important thing: Have business cards with your name and URL (and any other information you care to share, such as a mailing address if you’re interested in review copies). His URL was one that could be spelled several different ways, and it’s only because I’m doggedly curious that I found it afterwards.
  2. Be polite, not creepy or rude. If he’d introduced himself and said he enjoyed the panel, I wouldn’t have been so weirded out when he asked who I was. An apology for not catching my name the first time would have gone even further.
  3. If you are seeking help and/or advice, be clear about what you’re looking for.
  4. But first, ask if the person has a moment to talk.
  5. Be prepared to briefly describe the project you’re looking for help with or attention for. They call this an elevator pitch, in some circles, but at least have one or two sentences that say what it is and what sets it apart.
  6. If you’re reviewing comics, you need more of a hook than “I talk about what I’ve read lately.” What makes your perspective interesting, or are you selecting books in a particular genre or format? Are you studying a particular subject?
  7. A comic site with no pictures is lame. This is a visual medium, put some images on your site, even if they’re just covers.

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What Does Women in Comics Mean? Mon, 19 May 2014 01:22:20 +0000 This month’s Diamond Previews catalog is celebrating “Women in Comics Month”, which means they stick a circular logo of a tiny skirted blonde standing next to a giant pencil in certain listings. They are promoting “women in comics, both as characters and as creators, with interviews, spotlights, and more!”

Diamond's Women in Comics logo

Not a bad idea, I suppose, although it feels a little three years ago. Except… mixing up female creators with comics that just happen to star women means that not only do we get an interview with Kelly Sue DeConnick and relists of books by such creators as Noelle Stevenson, Amanda Conner, and Raina Telgemeier — we get extra attention for books such as Aspen’s Damsels in Excess (busty, barely dressed fantasy princesses); Milton Caniff’s Male Call (a good girl World War II strip); and Broadsword’s Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose (just google it — it’s full of physically impossible softcore porn-like images).

Diamond may want to celebrate “deserving title[s] featuring female creators or protagonists” but the end result suggests a retrograde tone-deafness to real issues involving sexism in comics. In fact, several of these titles are key exhibits as to why it’s still a problem.

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On My Way to TCAF! Thu, 08 May 2014 09:49:43 +0000 Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) 2014

This weekend, I’m excited to be attending the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (TCAF) for the first time! It’s the first show in a while where there’s been so much programming I wanted to see — and of course, many of them are at the same time.

I will be moderating two panels — the first is the Debut Books Spotlight, Saturday at 10 AM, and the second is the Spotlight on noted comics herstorian Trina Robbins, Saturday at 2:45. Which means I can’t go to the panel on Contemporary Erotic Comics, including Smut Peddler, which is at the same time. However, I will be sure to take in the Sunday 2:45 session on Comics Criticism”, promising to explore “What is the state of comics criticism today, in both the public realm and academia?”

Hope to see you there!

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My Favorite Comic Story of All Fri, 17 Jan 2014 20:00:15 +0000 (The below was written for the 2011 Team Cul de Sac benefit zine created to raise funds for research into Parkinson’s Disease. It was assembled by Craig Fischer with the question “what is your favorite comic (comic book, comic strip, graphic novel, whatever), and why?”)

Atart Force #20 cover

I can just about guarantee that my favorite comic isn’t shared by many others. In fact, I’m often surprised to find out that anyone’s heard of it. My favorite comic is “Hukka vs. the Bob!” by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming, and Karl Kesel. It originally ran as the seven-page backup story in Atari Force #20 (August 1985), which happened to be the last issue of that series, so maybe at that point, no one was watching what got published. I can’t imagine it getting through a lot of oversight, because it’s so wonderfully odd.

Hukka was a kind of orange space lemur, kept as a pet by Chris Champion. He spoke in the broken English shared by alien beings and baby superheroes in DC comics, always starting with his name/species — “Hukka bite?” “Hukka yeah!” Chris bought him a “personal pal”, a robot playmate named Bob. Bob resembled an ambulatory tombstone in blue-and-white, rolling around on wheels and saying only his name.

The result, when the impish creature meets the unexpectedly demented machine, is hilarious. It starts simply. At first, Hukka is scared by the toy. Then Hukka tries to ride Bob, enjoying bossing something else around, but Bob takes his commands a bit too literally. When Hukka winds up hitting the ceiling, he gets angry and tries to punish the robot — resulting in a very angry mechanical bent on revenge.

I really wish I could simply show you the story, because there’s no way to explain why this exchange is so darn funny.

“Hukka nyah nyah Hukka nyah nyah!”
“BOB” (in big jagged letters)
“Hukka goodbye … Hukka PLAYNICE, Bob!”

Atart Force #20 Hukka vs. the Bob page 1Atart Force #20 Hukka vs. the Bob page 3Atart Force #20 Hukka vs. the Bob page 5

There’s more to it than just gags, though. There’s a message there about us creating our own monsters and even a House of Mystery-style “just desserts” ending. Of it all, my favorite part is the way this story taught me how much could be done with sound effects and extraordinarily talented lettering, supplied by Bob Lappan. During the action sequence, most of the dialogue is “Hukka” and “Bob” in different tones and emotions. When I first encountered this tale, I wasn’t very familiar with reading the comic language of art, and this story taught me a great deal about pacing and movement and how powerful images could be — without my even realizing it.

I do know that, at the time, I wasn’t the only one who loved it. “Hukka vs. the Bob!” was considered good enough to reprint in the Best of DC #71 digest, containing the Year’s Best Comics Stories, in April 1986. (I’ve included only selected pages here, because I wouldn’t want to get in trouble for reprinting the entirety of a forgotten 30-year-old comic story.)

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My Wall of Food Recipe Art Tue, 01 Oct 2013 17:00:55 +0000 I’m showing off. At SPX, I got three more pieces for my wall of food art by women. Left to right, top to bottom, there’s

I’m hoping, eventually, to get an artichoke by Erika Moen and another recipe from Carla Speed McNeil. Not sure, exactly, where I have room to put them, though.

Food art wall

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We Won’t Get Good Comic Journalism Unless Someone Is Willing to Pay for It Sat, 13 Jul 2013 20:25:34 +0000 I’m two months late talking about the departure and return of Comics Alliance — which indicates why I’m no longer a significant part of online comic coverage, if I ever was — but the changes resulted in some good writing about writing, and so I have the impulse to ramble on about writing about comics online, since I’ve been doing it now for over two decades.

(And maybe that’s part of why I’ve been cutting back, too. How long can you do anything and still have it feel fun? Particularly when there are so many others out there doing so many similar things. It’s hard to both be unique and get readers (which aren’t necessarily related).)

My most productive time was when I had a day job — so no worries about funds — that wasn’t very demanding — so plenty of time to stay current. And that’s what matters if you want to read good comic journalism: people with money and time to write about the field. But who’s going to provide the income? Ad sales online are down, and no one wants to pay to read writing about comics. Heck, half the fans don’t pay to read the comics themselves, particularly at those prices.

That requires sponsorship, of some kind, which was CA’s temporary downfall. Reporting to someone means someone else is making the decisions, including the one of whether to continue. It often also means that you don’t own your words. After all, the guy writing the checks probably wants ownership, too.

There’s also the problem of too many people willing to work for free, for exposure or just for attention. It’s much like writing actual comics. You might be able to make a living as a writer who makes comics, but you’re going to be writing other things as well to do so. The people who keep at it do so mostly because they’re notably stubborn. Most all could make more money elsewhere, and after a while, you grow up and want a family or to buy a house and make other choices.

After all, who’s going to pay for comic coverage? The publishers don’t want journalists, they want mouthpieces, to the extent of trying to punish those who don’t line up. And frankly, if writers can’t move the needle, drawing attention to good, underselling books, or killing bad ones, then why should they care? Writers don’t have much effect. Fans will be fans, and too many of them keep buying regardless of quality or enjoyment.

So that leaves readers, I guess. If you like a writer, make it possible for them to keep doing what they’re doing. Donate some bucks or buy from their links or ads. It won’t let them make a living, but every little bit counts. In the meantime, here are two versions of the same prediction, one from the negative, the other a more positive perspective.

From Sean Kleefeld:

Frankly, there’s just not a lot of money in comics. You can ask almost anyone in any level of the business — creators, publishers, distributors, retailers, journalists… — very few people are making a mint off this. Many (most?) have other sources of income to make ends meet. … Almost everyone is in comics, first and foremost, for the love of the medium. So it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that CA just wasn’t making very much money for AOL.

I’m left wondering if any big corporation like that can maintain a comic/geek themed news/commentary site for very long. Or will they all be a series of blogs written by one or two people?

From V.R. Gallaher:

I’d say that if you are a person who loves comic books — or horror movies, or video games, or whatever — go write about your passion if you are so inclined. Just go and write. Start a blog, start a small website. Being an independent agent, you have a bit more freedom — and you should take advantage of it (within the bounds of human decency; though I know that “human decency” is a concept that is considered “subjective”).

If they’re right, with a few exceptions, we’re bound to have good writers for a few years, until they get busy with paying work or graduate from school or simply lose interest. Then again, if you want to make a name for yourself, just outlast the others. Sheer dogged determination counts for a lot.

(I’m sorry this piece is so disjointed, but that reflects my thinking on the field these days. And my take on whether to continue.)

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More Art for My Wall About Me Sun, 02 Jun 2013 16:39:18 +0000 It’s a tradition in my family to have a “wall about me”. It’s where you put your diplomas, or your medals if you’re in the military, or any neat art (like the cross-stitching my mother used to do). I, of course, have sketches.

It started with two wonderful pieces Ed Sizemore got for me, a Sabrina by Tania del Rio (in which she’s reading my website!) and an original watercolor by Lea Hernandez. I couldn’t resist adding a Savage Critic by Scott Kurtz, after some of our internet run-ins, and Paul Sizer drew me and a snark hammer.

Diary comic by Jennifer Hayden

My latest acquisition is more group-oriented. At this year’s MoCCAFest, I had lunch with Brigid Alverson, Heidi MacDonald, Erica Friedman, and Jennifer Hayden. (Note that we all wear glasses, except for Jennifer.)

You may recognize Jennifer’s work, as she’s an autobiographical cartoonist published with Top Shelf. And as happens when you share an experience with such, there was a comic strip capturing the event. I am very lucky to now have a print, capturing a wonderful memory of lunch with some terrific ladies.

You can find out more about Jennifer or read more recent comics at her Rushes diary comic site.

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Friends of Lulu Publication History — I’m Seeking More Newsletters Fri, 26 Apr 2013 16:53:27 +0000 I’m still unpacking and sorting boxes from last fall’s move, and while organizing the minicomics, I came across my stash of Friends of Lulu materials. As far as I know, these are the official group publications:

Friends of Lulu newsletter

  • Three comic anthologies: Storytime (2000?), Broad Appeal (2003), and The Girls’ Guide to Guys’ Stuff (2007) (Neat looking through these and seeing early work by names I adore — Raina Telgemeier, Faith Erin Hicks, MK Reed, Becky Cloonan, and so many more)
  • The 1997 Retailers Handbook, “How to Get Girls (Into Your Store)”, edited by Deni Loubert, with illustrations by Mary Wilshire
  • The February 1997 Diamond “Friends of Lulu Suggests” catalog
  • A smattering of minicomics: “The Women Who Made Comics Great” (1997), “Comics Are for Everyone!” (1995, Joan Hilty), “The Perils of Mr. Comics” (1995, Liz Schiller & Donna Barr), the NY Chapter Omnibus promo (1996)

And the newsletters. Here’s where I hope some reader(s) can help. I have the following:

  • Volume 1, #1-4
  • Volume 2, #1-3
  • Volume 4, #1-3
  • Volume 5, #1-4
  • Volume 6, #1-4
  • Volume 7, #1-3

Was there a Volume 2, #4? How many Volume 3 issues were there? How many more issues ran after V7 #3 (Spring 2002)? More importantly, if you have any issues I’m missing, I’d like to buy them from you, if you’re willing to part with them. (It’s that need to complete, you know.) I’m also interested in acquiring any other archival material you may have — flyers, minis, etc. Please let me know if you can help.

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A Few Pictures From the Met Spark Thoughts on the Definition of Art Fri, 05 Apr 2013 20:17:42 +0000 I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today, while visiting New York City, and these are a few things I took pictures of. My main draw was seeing the special exhibit “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” (there through the end of May), which was neat because it had some French portraits from the 1800s next to the actual dresses from the paintings, but they didn’t allow pictures in that gallery.

The Met really impresses me, because there are just so many amazing things there! You can focus just on your interests — Egyptian art, for instance, or modern works (which are defined as after 1920, which is within the last hundred years) — and still spend an entire day. Once you figure out the map system and the navigation, which for me is based around finding the three-digit numbers on the wall that tell you which gallery you’re in.

I arrived just before lunchtime, so I was greeted by a LOT of people on the steps. The gentlemen with their backs to the camera were entertaining the crowd with an a cappella version of “Up on the Roof”.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art steps

Before I stopped for lunch at the American Wing Cafe, I took a picture of this light fixture inside a courtyard area. This is one of two that stood outside the museum for years. Also of note: the facade behind it used to be the front of a bank, but now it’s inside the Met (which surprised me when I stopped to think about it), to mark the entrance to the American art wing.

American Wing of the Met

Religious art is neat, especially when it’s as beautifully displayed as these stained glass windows. It’s a motivation that drove a lot of creation for a very long time.

Stained glass display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Another exhibit that I took in was “After Photoshop: Manipulated Photography in the Digital Age”, a collection of photographs created through computer technology. Here was the one that stood out, in that it combined a model with art manipulation to look like manga:

Manga-like photo at the Met

I neglected to take any pictures in the gallery of another special exhibit, “Plain or Fancy? Restraint and Exuberance in the Decorative Arts”. That one was a bit more interactive, encouraging the formation of the viewer’s own opinions and illustrating through contrast how definitions can change over time. It was neat, because I like relativism.

Overall, and getting back to this post title, once I saw how many different objects were in the museum, I realized that almost anything, particularly given enough time, could be art. I really enjoyed seeing the Impressionist paintings in the special exhibit — although it surprised me that I liked the lesser-known names more than the works by the better-known Monet and Degas (Also cool: they had paintings of a particular model and others BY her. Yay for women artists!) — but I more enjoyed seeing the crafts and design objects, like this wacky foam chair.

Foam chair at the Met

Maybe it was just that I was getting tired, but that looked like it would be surprisingly comfy. More to the point, I like thinking about the effort someone put into making something for whatever purpose: ornamentation, worship, functional use. Putting all these objects from so many time periods under one (gigantic) roof was very impressive and illustrates just how wide-ranging the definition of art is. Anything can be art, particularly if you give it enough time.

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Random CES Pictures, Mostly Mimobot DC Merch Wed, 09 Jan 2013 01:12:18 +0000 Here are a few of the other snaps I took that I thought you’d be interested in. For more on the adorably cute Mimobot USB drives, which range from $15-80 depending on size, visit

LG's ad shows the main themes of the show: touch and connections Mimobot does Adventure Time Mimobot does DC Mimobot does Hello Kitty -- the brand I saw most often at the show Mimobot does Transformers & GI Joe - they come preloaded with content. For Transformers, it's the IDW comics. Mimobot does Mimomicro, which allows loading of micro SD cards How the Mimomicro folds out a USB port One of the two least expected exhibitors: the New York Times The other least expected: the post office. Big, empty booth. Fans of the blog will laugh: it's the Ultraviolet booth!]]> 0
Sony at CES 2013 Part 2 — TV and Cameras Wed, 09 Jan 2013 01:03:06 +0000 Prototypes! To bring 4K to the consumer market, there are camcorder prototypes, so soon, you can record your own 4K content. There are also prototypes of mounts for the Action Cam — for a helmet, your wrist, even your pet, as shown on Ubu here.

Sony Action Cam mounts

The new Sony Cybershots will have WiFi capability so they can be controlled by a phone or tablet and transfer images wirelessly. I’ve been using a Cybershot to take pics here, and connectivity was about the only thing it was missing. By the way, all the Handycam camcorders are now HD; no more SD. And they’ll have HDMI inputs to project from external sources as well as WiFi for wireless control and transfer.

Sony camera desk

In headphone news, since Sony is also an audio and music company, the new X10 line of headphones came out last year. Now the Next Gen X is slimmer, in more colors.

But on to the TVs! Sony demoed a gorgeous OLED 4K 56″ TV prototype, the largest 4K OLED in the world.

First OLED 4K TV from Sony

Some random factoids: The upcoming science fiction movie After Earth is being shot in 4K. So is Oblivion starring Tom Cruise. Sony 4K systems are in more than 13,000 movie theaters worldwide. This summer, the first consumer 4K distribution service is coming to provide 4K Sony movies & other content to home users. They’re also working on a 4K line of Blu-ray titles coming this year, either using master film or digitally rescanning. The 4K TVs also have built-in upscaling processors to make HD (such as Blu-ray) content look even better. Sony announced two new 4K TVs coming this spring — 55″ & 65″ models at more affordable prices.

4K TV comparison

That’s a comparison of a 4K TV to a high-end HDTV. The 4K Ultra HD has four times the resolution, to the extent that you can read text easily on screen.

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Sony at CES 2013 Part 1 — Xperia Z Cellphone and VAIO Computers Tue, 08 Jan 2013 16:08:33 +0000 Thanks to my employer, Sony, I was able to attend this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. (Of course, the year I go is the year the popular refrain is “no one cares any more”.)

Beatles Cirque du Soleil ticket booth

I’m staying at the Mirage, home to the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show, which I unfortunately don’t have time to go see. (I wouldn’t want to go without KC, anyway.) This is their ticket booth in the lobby, isn’t it cute? They also have a lounge area behind those giant letters.

Beatles Revolution lounge

The show officially opens to the industry this morning, but I was wandering around the Sony booth yesterday afternoon as it was being set up. It takes up several rooms’ worth of space, the better to show off the TVs, cellphones, cameras, and accessories. This is the opening display. It’s really white, but they were testing lighting. The slogan says, “Feel the Beauty BE MOVED”, which is Sony’s emphasis, to move their customers and create Wow! moments.

Sony CES booth 2012

Inside the booth, the giant white strip is all projection screens. The booth itself is all white walls and carpet. During last night’s press conference, which is where a lot of this information comes from, giant images surrounded everyone gathered in the area showing the products and responses to them.

Sony booth CES 2012

Kazuo Hirai, Sony President & CEO, kicked off the event. You can find out more at His message was that Sony products are “unparalleled in the industry” by combining design and function, usefulness and elegance. The company focus is on digital imaging, games, and mobile. Here he is later, talking with the press.

Kazuo Hirai, Sony President & CEO

Xperia Z cellphone

Sony Xperia Z phone

One of the big product announcements is the new mobile phone, the Xperia Z from Sony Mobile. It’s lovely. It has a 5-inch 1080p display and a 13 megapixel camera that does HDR video. It runs on 4G LTE networks and comes in black, white, and purple.

Xperia display

It’s dust and water resistant. They had cases giving the phone a bath to demonstrate. That’s a pool of water underneath.

Xperia Z bath

There were lots of the phones around. Here’s me (hands shown reflected) trying to take a picture of the mirrored main display.

Xperia Z display

U.S. carriers are still to be announced. Their previous phones were on AT&T because they’re GSM. With T-Mobile’s coming refarm for their “bring your own device” program, it’s possible the phone would operate on their system. I hope.

One thing Sony is big on emphasizing is connectivity. They’re using one-touch NFC to allow products to connect easily, with one tap. There’s a cute little ball speaker as well as wireless headphones and a Bluetooth converter that allows any headphones to connect with the phone. You just touch the phone to the item, and they pair.

Xperia accessories

VAIO computers

VAIO Tap 20

Touchscreens are big, of course. In more ways than one. The family-centric mobile desktop Tap 20 is a giant touchscreen that can handle multiple users at once, so, for example, two people can draw on it at the same time. Or you can use it to play air hockey against another person. It’s got three hours of battery life and weighs about 11 pounds, so it’s not a laptop, but it is moveable. And it has an adjustable kickstand.

The smaller Duo allows control by either stylus or finger — if it detects the stylus, then it disables the touchscreen part, so you can rest your hand on it while drawing or taking notes without the computer getting confused. You can use it flat as a tablet or propped to the keyboard, as shown here. It’s now available in silver as well as black.

Vaio Duo

OK, that’s all I have time for now. More on cameras and TVs still to come.

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The Year 2012 at Comics Worth Reading Tue, 01 Jan 2013 03:02:45 +0000 Following the pattern of last year’s post, here are some views of what happened during 2012 here at the site. First, how many posts were made per month.

Post counts at CWR for 2012

Can you guess during which period I lost my job, got a new one, and moved halfway across the country? Since then, I’ve also had more to do around the house and out in the city, which accounts for why the latter part of the year hasn’t hit the heights of the first part.

I only made it to 775 posts this year (a little over 2 per day, on average), a decline from last year’s 895, but I don’t mind — I’ll aim for 1000 again in 2013. Total posts at the site since December 2005, including this one: 6,459.

There were 50 manga reviews and 55 graphic novel reviews, which makes me think I should do more talking about the good works, since that’s only 13% of the content. However, they’re not the posts that get feedback, either because people agree with me, or because there’s nothing to say about a comic you haven’t read. In contrast, the most popular posts this year, based on comments, were the following:

  1. Win John Carter on Blu-ray! (June, 44 comments)
  2. Comic Fans Need Patience: Thoughts on Lengthy Kickstarters & Incomplete First Issues (June, 41)
  3. Win Friends With Boys! (February, 37)
  4. What Happened to Comic Book Ads? (March, 29)
  5. What Is DC Thinking? Sex, Violence, Racism, and Marketing (January, 27)

The site this year was just me and hubby KC, who wrote 48 posts this year, and I’ll reiterate what I said last year to close: “I couldn’t do this without him. Nor without you, dear readers. Thank you for stopping by, and happy new year!”

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Win a Copy of Anime Studio Pro 9 or Manga Studio EX 4 Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:38:34 +0000 I have a special contest for the holidays for my readers — free copies of Manga Studio EX 4 (for Mac) and Anime Studio Pro 9, courtesy of Smith Micro! As they describe Manga Studio EX 4 (list price $300), it’s “the leading comic and manga creation software worldwide, delivers powerful cutting edge features for manga and comic artists alike” including “thousands of screen tones, professional drawing and coloring tools, and in depth layout and rendering capabilities”. (They also offer a Debut version for those just getting started.)

Manga Studio EX 4Anime Studio Pro 9

Anime Studio Pro (list price $200) has “an intuitive interface, a visual content library, and powerful features such as a bone rigging system, bitmap to vector conversion, integrated lip-synching, 3D modeling, physics, motion tracking, a character wizard and … advanced animation tools to speed up your workflow.” (There’s a Debut version of that as well.)

The grand prize winner, selected by random draw, will win one copy each of both of these software packages. Four second prize winners will get a copy of one of the programs. To enter, leave a comment telling me what you’d like to make with either version (and which would be your choice if you get second place). Software will be delivered by download, so the contest is open to anyone. A winner will be picked randomly from all entries on Monday, December 24. Happy holidays!

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Dark Horse Christmas Card Features Beasts of Burden Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:18:25 +0000 I’ve only gotten one print card from a comic publisher so far this year — although lots of mail around here has been delayed for two days due to the blizzard that dumped over 15 inches of snow on us — and it was this one. I was thrilled to see such wonderful characters, the Beasts of Burden dogs, illustrated by Jill Thompson, celebrating the holiday. Thanks, Dark Horse!

Dark Horse 2012 Holiday Card

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What’s on Your Comic Christmas List? Fri, 14 Dec 2012 19:08:25 +0000 While sorting through the graphic novel shelf, I was reminded of a few things I’d like to read, and given that it’s that time of year, I put together a wish list of comic things I’d like to see:

  1. The final volume of Omaha the Cat Dancer, with the long-promised conclusion (reprinting began 2006)
  2. The ability to own all of the digital comic files you purchase, not just rent them from a licensing company
  3. More Oishinbo volumes
  4. A translated print version of Fumi Yoshinaga’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?
  5. The next U.S. volume of Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
  6. To find out what was behind what was going on in Colonia

What’s on your comic wish list?

Update: James Vance says that the final Omaha volume is due late summer 2013.

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The Fool’s Errand Sequel Released After 10 Years Fri, 09 Nov 2012 03:27:22 +0000 I don’t know how many of you will know or care what I’m talking about, but I can’t help memorializing this new video game that I frankly thought I’d never see.

The Fool

Back in 1987, Cliff Johnson released a game for the Macintosh called The Fool’s Errand. Using the framework of a tarot deck, the game combined logic, word, and graphic puzzles. It was like nothing else out there, and one whole Thanksgiving break, I and my friends were all engrossed in it. I also adored his later release, 3 in Three, which postulates a number 3 run amok in the computer’s guts after a freak electric serge knocks her out of her spreadsheet. (You can download those games from his website, but it requires installing an emulator, since they only run in PowerPC Classic Mode.)

Ten years ago, Johnson announced he was working on a sequel, The Fool and His Money. Two weeks ago, it was finally released. I’ve just bought my copy, and I’m looking forward to another gaming Thanksgiving. It’s $39.99, which seems like a lot, but then I realized that I never paid for that original game, so amortized over the years, it seems worth it. Here’s another review, by someone who’s already started playing the new game.

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