Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

What I bought, read, watched, or otherwise consumed – December 2023

Could a man fall in love with you, just seeing your kitchen? (Italo Calvino, from If on a winter’s night a traveler)


Birdking volume 2 by Daniel Freeman (writer), CROM (artist), Michael Davis Thomas (letterer), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $19.99, 114 pgs, Dark Horse.

I liked the first volume of Birdking well enough that I got the second, but I won’t be getting the third. It seemed like the first volume was a bit different from your standard fantasy-type story, but this feels much more like any other random fantasy story, and it just wasn’t that interesting. There’s an entire section in this that feels lifted note-for-note from the Fellowship’s journey through Moria, for instance, and I’ve already read that AND seen it on screen, so why do I need it here? (Plus, Simonson cribbed it better 35 years ago.) It’s not a bad comic, you understand, just … uninspired. Bianca is a fun character, and her relationship with the silent Birdking is decent, but her quest isn’t interesting and none of the other characters have her spark, and I do like CROM’s Brandon Graham-esque art, but not enough to overlook the rather bland narrative. Oh well. You might like it more than I do!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

I mean, that’s a good point

Blood Run by Evan K. Pozios (writer), Stefano Cardoselli (artist), and LetterSquids (lettering). $5.99, 43 pgs, Scout Comics.

As you should know by now, I am all in on anything Cardoselli draws, even though the comics he draws (whether he writes them or not) do not tend to be great, although they are wildly entertaining. This is another example, as Pozios gives us Death Race 2000, basically, with a bunch of unusual and bloodthirsty racers (Fraulein Freckles, the Prussian Pummeler; Avalon Red; Mr. Glace driving his ice cream truck; Mortuary Montague; Sheriff Fitubee Tide; the Genius; the Trash Brothers) who try to kill each other with weirder and weirder weapons as they race. It’s silly, sure, but it’s fun as heck, and Cardoselli’s imagination runs wild, which is why I dig his work so much – he just pours it all onto the page, and it’s never not brilliant. This is just hot chicks and strange-looking dudes and mayhem on every single page. Is it great literature? Of course not! But it’s so COMICS! I just love it. If you haven’t see a Cardoselli comic yet, pick literally any of them up and prepare to be dazzled by the wackiness. You have nothing to lose!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:


Clear by Scott Snyder (writer), Francis Manapul (artist/colorist), AndWorld Design (letterer), Will Dennis (editor), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $19.99, 138 pgs, Dark Horse.

Two things I know about Scott Snyder – one my personal opinion, the other just a fact: He doesn’t end things well, and he’s obsessed with father-son relationships. I’ve written before about his poor endings, and one thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is that he’s actually gotten better at ending things, so maybe I can finally put that to bed. He ends Clear well, which is nice, and while his track record still isn’t perfect, he has gotten better. Meanwhile, it’s a straight fact that he’s obsessed with father-son relationships, and we get yet another in Clear, in which our hero, Sam Dunes, is sad because his son was killed in a car accident, and a lot of the plot is driven by this fact. There’s nothing wrong with writing about father-son relationships, of course, it’s just a very specific thing Snyder is interested in.

Anyway, Clear is terrific, so there’s that. Snyder gives us a future in which everyone views the world through their own personal filter (he handwaves away how this is possible, but it seems we have no choice in the matter), because reality is too shitty to bear. Dunes is one of the few people who doesn’t dig this, so he uses a “clear” filter, which lets him see the world as it is (but it’s still a filter, which is why I think we have no choice in the matter). He’s a PI working a case for a rich woman who thinks he husband is “cheating” on her (by using a filter – a “veil” – that doesn’t include her), but that gets interrupted when his ex-wife turns up in the morgue and he has to identify her. She left him after the car accident that killed his son (which Snyder eventually shows us, because it is, of course, important in the grand scheme of things), and now she’s dead. They’re calling it a suicide, but of course Dunes suspects foul play, and he wants ANSWERS!!!!

I don’t want to give very much away about this comic, because it really is that good. On the one hand, it’s a good, old-fashioned noir story that happens to take place 50 years from now. Snyder hits all the tropes – Dunes is a veteran with some PTSD, he has the dead kid and the ex-wife, she’s dead so it’s personal, a sketchy relationship with the cops, the hot jilted wife as a client – you know the drill! But Snyder is smart enough to toy with these tropes, and when you add on the layer of unreality that the veils give the characters, it’s a formula for a twisty and turny tale full of misdirection, but one that stays on point throughout. Snyder is also concerned, like so many people are, about virtual reality and What! It’s! Doing! To! Us!, and while this isn’t a hand-wringing book, per se, it is a bit Luddite in its tone (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Dunes thinks he’s better than others because of his “reality” veil, so Snyder has some fun with that, too. It’s just a really exciting, tense thriller with some facile real-world concerns (I mean, we’re not going to fix the issue with virtual reality in a comic book, people!), a good plot, and interesting characters. That’s always good to see!

Manapul, meanwhile, turns in what might be the best work of his career. He varies his line thickness quite a lot, so that most of it is rougher than we usually see from him, but he still can do nice, crisp lines when he wants to. He uses a bit more hatching, drops more holding lines than usual, and works in a lot of effective chunk blacks. His action is still marvelous – fluid and beautifully choreographed – and his imagination is wonderful, as he comes up with superb “realities” that people are seeing, fitting them into the panels really well. When Snyder wants to lean into the noir elements, Manapul does stellar work with shadows, and his colors are masterful. He does some “unrealistic” colors nicely to indicate different times and moods, and he often simply colors virtual reality things over the “real” world to imply an unnatural intrusion. It’s very well done.

Clear is a clever mystery with a strong central message. It’s tense and interesting, and it looks great. It’s one of the better comics of the year, for what that’s worth!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

It’s calamari for lunch!

DC’s ‘Twas the Mite Before Christmas by lots of creators. $9.99, 80 pgs, DC.

I generally like DC’s holiday anthologies, and even if some of the stories aren’t as great, they’re innocuous, but this one kind of bugged me. The best story is by far the final one, in which Bat-Mite visits Damian in the Bat-Cave and freaks out because he’s not the “real” Robin. It’s written by Sholly Fisch, who knows a thing or two about writing great and light-hearted Batman stories, and drawn by Juan Bobillo, whose style fits the story perfectly. All the rest are flawed in weird ways, which is why I don’t like this as much as some of the others. In the first story, Raven has what seems to be a hangover (it’s probably just a headache), and she freaks out unnecessarily when the other Titans aren’t as miserable as she is, and then reverts to childhood for some reason? And then the Titans, who know something’s wrong with her, go to a party anyway? Two villains break in and Raven has to fight them without her powers (because she’s a child), and then the Titans reappear for no reason. I mean, they say it’s because they’re “family,” but why did they leave in the first place? Anyway, it’s nicely drawn by Logan Faerber. The second story, by Rob Levin and Bob Quinn, has Amethyst and Harley Quinn switching places (willingly – it’s not Freaky Friday or anything) because they’re both bored with their lives? I doesn’t make much sense, because the story isn’t long enough to make sense, but how would Amethyst even know about the existence of Harley? It feels like Levin put a bunch of DC characters’ names in a hat and pulled out Amethyst (Harley is there because she sells) and didn’t worry too much about the logic of it. Story #3 humanizes Lex Luthor just a bit (it’s “Luthor’s Christmas Carol,” basically), and that’s something up with which I will not put. It just feels off, even if it’s only a slight softening of the character. Natalie Abrams writes a Batwoman story in which the Riddler is using Hanukkah to pose 8 riddles, and it’s fine, I guess, except for a few things: Batman isn’t in town, which seems unlikely, and the Riddler has a 29-year-old daughter? Fuck the heck? That really bothered me for some reason. How the hell old is Eddie these days? Moving on, Jillian Grant and Rebekah Isaacs have a fun story in which Booster Gold turns into Santa (it’s a thing). Nothing wrong with this tale! Next, Superman solves some dude’s suicidal-ness by … making him Santa? I don’t know – the story isn’t very clear. I have no idea who Bunker is, but he stars in a story that also makes no sense – it’s It’s a Wonderful Life, because Bunker is feeling blue, but if he never existed … bad guys would attack his city? I mean, bad guys are always attacking cities in the DCU! I’m not sure that some rando named “Bunker” is “the cornerstone — the brick that holds our world together,” as he’s told in this story. Sigh. Oh well. It’s not the worst comic in the world, but it just feels a bit off from what we usually get in these anthologies. It feels like the writers are trying a bit too hard to make their stories important. That’s not what these are for, writers!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Damian has no chill

The Great British Bump-Off by John Allison (writer), Max Sarin (artist), Sammy Boras (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer), and Daniel Chabon (editor). $19.99, 88 pgs, Dark Horse.

I haven’t read Allison’s and Sarin’s Giant Days, which Travis swears by, but that doesn’t mean I won’t check out their work, just that I didn’t read that! This is a charming mystery comic, in which a group of people gather for a British baking show (not The Great British Bake-Off!) and one of them gets poisoned and another one – Shauna – decides to solve the mystery and save the show! There’s not much more to it – it’s charming, as I noted, and while, yes, there’s a villain about, it’s not super-dark. Shauna is able to sleuth and cook at the same time, and Allison actually has some fun with that, because she’s clearly not the best chef and so is always in danger of being sent home, which would mean the end to her sleuthing! The cast is fun – one character even points out which clichés they slot into – and, because it’s a competitive thing, we can believe that any one of these people could be the culprit, even the most benign-seeming ones. Sarin’s art is very good – he has a good, cartoony style that fits the tone of the book, but he’s also able to go “dark” – I mean, it’s still not too dark – nicely with some good use of shadows and slightly rougher lines. He and Allison have a lot of fun coming up with strange dishes, too, which is keen.

This isn’t a great comic, but it’s enjoyable. That’s always nice!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Of course it does!

The Maze Agency #1 by Mike W. Barr (writer), Silvano Baltrano (artist/colorist), Tyler Smith (letterer), and Andrea Lorenzo Molinari (editor). $4.99, 24 pgs, Scout Comics.

Barr jokes a bit about the rights issues that have plagued his comic for years in this issue, which has to be frustrating for him. I don’t know if this is a one-shot or a new ongoing (a second issue was not offered in last month’s Previews), but it’s good to see the book back, because Barr just knows what he’s doing when it comes to writing interesting detective stories. As usual, this isn’t exactly “play fair” – it’s close, certainly, but those are really hard to do well – but it’s still a fun mystery with plenty of clues about what’s going on. Jennifer and Gabe are hanging around a new movie, which is a sequel to a long-beloved classic horror flick (it’s here that Barr references rights), and people start dying, which makes Gabe’s nose twitch (oh, wait, that’s not him, is it?). As with all Maze Agency comics, the banter between Jennifer and Gabe is fun, and there’s some nice action and romance. Beltrano does a decent job with the art, and this a perfectly pleasant issue!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

Oh, man, you gotta honor that debt!

Watson and Holmes volume 2: A Scandal in Harlem by a bunch of creators. $25.00, 105 pgs, Fairsquare Comics.

I enjoyed the first arc of this series, which placed Holmes and Watson in present-day Harlem and viewed the crimes they solved through an African-American lens, so I got this second arc, which is still pretty decent. The biggest problem is its anthology nature, which can be both a strength and a weakness. It allows different writers to write mysteries, and that means a bit of diversity in the crimes, but it also means that characterization is a bit flat, as no writer really can or even wants to put their stamp on the characters, and it also means the continuity is a bit wonky – the final short story in the book seems to take place before all the others, and it’s a bit off-putting. As you might know, I’ve never been too huge on continuity, but there’s also something to be said for things building on others, and the timelessness of these stories in relation to the others feels a bit off. Otherwise, it’s a solid collection – the crimes are interesting, Holmes and Watson have a good dynamic, and the writers do a nice job showing contemporary black life in all its facets. Brandon Easton’s first story is probably the best one, as it deals with a politician in a scandal who is good for the community, so how far do our intrepid investigators want to take it? (Holmes, of course, cares only for the absolute truth, while Watson has a more nuanced view.) The weakest story is probably the second, as Steven Grant and Hannibal Tabu go a bit too sci-fi for the tone and Dennis Calero is not the artist you want on a mystery devoted to details, as his work tends to be expressionistic at best. Lyndsey Faye and Easton co-write a nice story about a woman being stalked, drawn very nicely by Eli Powell. Faye and Karl Bollers have a decent story about a woman in the music business who wants to be independent of the corporate scene and what she does about it. Finally, we get a very short story about a young boy getting killed whose death affects Watson deeply. N. Steven Harris draws the first, fourth, and fifth stories, and he has a good feel for the characters and the setting, which is nice. This is just a nice collection of pretty good mysteries. It would be nice if one writer could take over and give us a bit more of the relationship between Holmes and Watson, but we shall see if the series even moves forward after this. I don’t know the plans!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

That seems rude


The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. 431 pgs, 2006, Picador.

This is a pretty good historical fiction mystery, as Rubenfeld posits an answer to the question of what happened while Sigmund Freud was in the U.S. in 1909. Freud famously came to the country, which he thought would be much more receptive to his ideas than stodgy old Europe (and, it seems, was), but he never returned, and people have wondered if something bad happened while he was here. Rubenfeld doesn’t really answer that question too well – Freud isn’t even the main character of the book – but this is still a nifty mystery as well as a nice snapshot of a city on the cusp of modernism. His main character, Stratham Younger, is an acolyte of Freud’s who arranges for his lectures at Clark University and meets him in New York a week before the lectures are supposed to begin. Meanwhile, in one of the new ritzy apartment buildings in New York, a woman is murdered after being whipped in what is clearly a sex thing, and then, a day later, another young woman is beaten in the same way but not killed. The woman – Nora – can’t speak, and Freud, Jung (who made the trip with him), Younger, and a few other associates of Freud are called in to consult. Younger takes the case (on Freud’s insistence), and he begins to psychoanalyze the girl (who regains her voice, so it’s not one-sided). It’s an interesting book, as Rubenfeld gets into the society of the city and the way class is everything, and he delves into the corrupt police force and political machinery a bit, as well. The coroner of the city begins as the main investigator because the murdered woman was found among the super-rich and the police won’t investigate too much, and he enlists a young detective who hasn’t had a chance to become corrupted yet. Their investigation eventually dovetails with Younger’s case, naturally, and Rubenfeld does a nice job with that. Younger is a keen observer, not only of human nature, but the city, so we learn about the building boom and how construction gets done and what kind of technology is needed for the jobs. The Freud angle is actually interesting, although a bit secondary to the main story. Younger is a staunch Freudian, but over the course of the book, he begins to doubt Freud’s Oedipal fixation, which of course is mirrored by Jung, who famously rejected it. Historically, the break between Freud and Jung seems to have at least begun in New York, and Rubenfeld makes it a bit more dramatic than it was. He doesn’t pull any punches with regard to Freud’s sexism and Jung’s racism, which is nice. He also keeps us on our toes with regard to characters, as we’re never quite sure who’s a “good” guy or “bad” guy, and it’s pretty clever how he works the psychoanalytic part into that. It’s a fun, interesting book that’s deeper than your average “beach read,” which is keen.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

Aristotle’s Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages by Richard E. Rubenstein. 368 pgs, 2003, Harcourt Books.

Medieval historians get a bit defensive about their period of study being called the “Dark Ages” by ignorant people who simply follow the party line of the Renaissance snobs who thought they were the ne plus ultra of human development (they wanted to make themselves look better, so they called the time period right before theirs the “Dark Ages,” which should have clued subsequent historians in, but didn’t). In recent years, much more scholarship has been done on the “baby renaissance” of the 12th century, and historians have begun to refine our view of the “Dark Ages” (even if historians still can’t resist it; they just narrow the focus to earlier than the 12th and 13th centuries), and this book is an example of that. Rubenstein isn’t a historian; he’s a professor of conflict resolution and public affairs at George Mason, but that doesn’t mean he can’t write a book about the Middle Ages, right?

Rubenstein’s thesis is that the “rediscovery” of Aristotle by Christians in Spain in the 1100s sparked a scientific revolution in Europe. Aristotle had been ignored in Western Europe for centuries thanks to the Muslim conquest of the Middle East and the severing of the Eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine) from the West after the 5th century. This is all boilerplate Middle Ages history, and Rubenstein’s discovery that the Muslims translated Aristotle into Arabic and wrote voluminous commentaries on Aristotle (among other Greeks, of course, but he was the Big One) and that Muslims in Spain tolerated a multi-cultural atmosphere in which Jews and Christians could read these volumes isn’t a bombshell except to him, I guess, but it’s still nice that he discovered it. He makes the point that Christians discovering these tracts in Spain in the 12th century was game-changing, as it came at a time when Europe was experiencing more political and economic stability than it had in some time and therefore the time was right for men to start navel-gazing again because they didn’t have to worry as much about where their next meal was coming from (I don’t want to be too snide – navel-gazing is fun! – but it’s also reliant on societal stability to a large degree). He goes chronologically and hits all the big guns of medieval philosophy – Peter Abelard, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, Giovanni di Fidanza (Saint Bonaventure), William of Ockham – and goes over the major debates of the time, from the Cathar heresy to the disputes at the University of Paris, and he looks at how Aristotle’s writings influenced them all. Aristotle and Plato are the two big Greek philosophers, of course, and they’re fairly diametrically opposed, and Christian authorities generally liked Plato more, as he focused more on a World of Ideals that was not, pointedly, this one, while Aristotle was much more impressed with this world. For Christian authorities who didn’t want peasants thinking about how shitty their lot was and wanted them thinking more about the rewards that awaited them in Heaven, Plato was the dude. But Aristotle also wrote about everything, and for Christian thinkers, this was something they could react to, and Rubenstein shows how they read both Aristotle and the Muslim commentaries and began to formulate their own ideas about the world, ideas that didn’t always conform to established Christian dogma (especially that laid down by Saint Augustine, who was considered the end-all, be-all of Christian philosophers at the time). Rubenstein makes the point that the Church didn’t necessarily condemn all this inquiry – another stereotype of Renaissance scholars that has been chipped away in recent years – because the authorities weren’t stupid and realized that they could absorb some of the rhetoric of the philosophers and make the Church stronger. Each philosopher that Rubenstein cites built on his predecessor, each was a staunch Christian who tried to reconcile Aristotle’s pre-Christian thinking with their faith, and it was really only William of Ockham who severed science and faith, which led to both sides entrenching themselves and, eventually, causing the rifts of later centuries that people associate with the “ignorant” Dark Age Christians. It wasn’t really until Martin Luther and the “Bible literalism” crowd that Christianity became hostile to science – it’s clear that Christian writers in the Middle Ages, even authoritarians like Bernard of Clairvaux, regarded a lot in the Bible as figurative. Rubenstein does a good job tracking this slow divide.

His history is a bit wonky in places – the Cathar heresy is one of the most misunderstood things in medieval history, and Rubenstein parrots the party line, which might be completely wrong – and he doesn’t do much with the “Muslims” and “Jews” of the title of the book – he mentions them, but his focus is definitely on the Christians. His line of reasoning doesn’t fit perfectly with my jaundiced worldview, either, but that’s a “me” problem. Aristotle was, of course, often wrong (which Rubenstein certainly admits), and while he was influential, there wasn’t anything stopping European thinkers from coming up with thoughts like this on their own. It’s not like Aristotle was doing experiments that nobody else had done and then others were building on those; he was just looking at the world and thinking about why things happen. Anybody can do that! It’s certainly true that Aristotle had a huge influence on Western European thinking, but it also seems like the way European culture was going in the early part of the second millennium, it was only a matter of time before people began thinking the same stuff. Aristotle may have helped so that nobody needed to re-invent the wheel, but I’m not sure his way of thinking was as revolutionary as Rubenstein thinks. But maybe I’m just cynical.

Anyway, it’s a good, readable book with a lot of fascinating characters and ideas about the way men who thought rationally about things tried to reconcile things that were not rational, and in a world where faith and reason seem to be irrevocably sundered (thanks, Luther!), it’s nice to read about a time when they weren’t necessarily that far apart. The Middle Ages: cooler than you think!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆

When Boston Won the World Series by Bob Ryan. 192 pgs, 2003, Running Press Book Publishers.

Ryan is a bit of a blowhard on television and a serious Boston homer, but that’s fine, because he obviously knows his stuff, so let him blow, I say! It’s kind of interesting reading this book now, after the Red Sox put together a mini-dynasty not long after this book came out (they won the World Series in 2004), because when Ryan wrote this book, they were still “cursed” after their owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919 and they hadn’t won a championship since 1918. Ryan wrote the book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first World Series in 1903, of course, but it’s just strange how not long after this book, the Red Sox were not “lovable losers” anymore (if they had ever been) and they joined the other Boston teams as insufferable Massholes who just wouldn’t stop winning championships. No, I’m not bitter, why do you ask?

Anyway, this isn’t a great book. It’s certainly interesting if you’re a baseball fan, like I am, and if you’re particularly interested in old-timey baseball, like I am, because the circumstances surrounding the first World Series were so charmingly quaint – basically the owners just thought it would be a good idea, and the presidents of the two leagues (the office of the commissioner didn’t exist yet) had nothing to do with it. The American League, which had come into existence in 1901 and immediately became a threat to the National League by poaching many of its stars, was looked down upon a bit by the “Senior Circuit,” but when Boston (they weren’t yet called the “Red Sox”) won this series, it was clear that the new league was here to stay (there was no series in 1904 because John McGraw of the New York Giants refused to play Boston, claiming it was beneath his dignity; in 1905, when the leagues had established that the champions HAD to play each other, McGraw’s Giants got waxed by the Philadelphia Athletics, so maybe McGraw was just scared of the American Leaguers?). However, Ryan really doesn’t get into the nuts and bolts of the season as much as I would have liked – this is a very quick zip through the 1903 season, in which both Boston and Pittsburgh cruised to pennants – and he doesn’t even really delve into the individual games of the World Series (which Boston won 5-3 after falling behind 3 games to 1) as much as I would have liked. He does focus on Boston sportswriter Timothy Murnane quite a bit, which is neat because Murnane, like so many old-time sportswriters, wrote florid, beautifully purple prose to describe the game, and Ryan quotes him liberally. He also gives us some decent local color, from the greedy owners who never turned anyone away, which meant crowds often stood literally on the playing field (and therefore different ground rules had to be established before each game), to the Boston boosters who traveled en masse to Pittsburgh and may have negatively affected the Pirates’ players with their obnoxious behavior (Ryan doesn’t say so, but he implies that this was the first time visitors to another ballpark had that much influence on the outcome). He does a good job evoking the early 20th century and the differences and similarities between then and now (well, the “now” of 2003). The loose organizational structure of baseball is the biggest difference, it seems to me, but there are other interesting things about how the game was played back then. But, again, he doesn’t focus on the games as much. There were some tense games in the Series – Pittsburgh was down a few pitchers due to injuries, and their manager, Fred Clarke, ended up leaning on Charles “Deacon” Phillippe, who won all three games for the Pirates but ran out of gas through overuse and ended up losing Games 7 and 8 (yep, Clarke threw him in two games in a row … Game 8 was delayed a day by rain, but that was still too much work for Phillippe). Boston, which had better pitching, just kept plugging away, and eventually, Cy Young (who didn’t pitch great in the series but ended up winning 2 games while losing 1) and Bill Dinneen (who’s not as famous as Young, of course, but he won 3 games in the series, including the clincher) overwhelmed Pittsburgh. It was frustrating reading the accounts of the series, because while Ryan’s focus on exterior events – ticket scalping, fan shenanigans – is fine, it feels like the games get short shrift.

Still, it’s a decent enough story about the first, weird World Series. The Pirates ended up getting more money than Boston because their owner, Barney Dreyfuss (perhaps the most ethical owner in the history of American professional sports) gave all the money the team made during the series to the players (more pointedly, the players’ wives, because Dreyfuss knew the men would spend it foolishly, so the checks were made out to the women) while the Boston owner gave them 60%. The series was a best-of-9, which was changed two years later to best-of-7 (the best-of-9 format would return briefly in 1919-1921). The managers called games because of weather. It was just a rough-and-tumble time, and Ryan does a fairly decent job with it … I just wish he had done more.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆ ☆


Annika season 2 (PBS). This continues to be an interesting detective series, as Nicola Walker continues to speak to the camera and ramble about non-relevant things that (shocking!) turn out to be relevant, like King Lear and mythology. In a surprise to no one, we found out at the end of the first season that her daughter’s father is actually one of Annika’s co-workers, with whom she had a fling long ago and who is now happily married (Annika has no interest in getting back together with him). During this season, both he and her daughter find out the truth, so there’s fall-out from that. Meanwhile, Annika’s romance with the psychologist moves merrily along, Katie Leung is pregnant (she was actually pregnant, so they just made her character pregnant), so that’s a thing, and Ukweli Roach leaves the show (I don’t know if he’s gotten another job) and Varada Sethu joins as his replacement, and Annika’s father visits from Norway, which causes her some stress as she doesn’t get along with him, but he seems to be making an effort to be nicer. The cases are generally interesting, as there’s a frozen body and a body found in a shark tank – you know, fun stuff! It’s just a solid cop drama set in Scotland, so it always looks great, and I have a weird thing where I really like British accents coming out of non-traditional British people, so the fact that we have Leung and Sethu and Roach – a woman of Chinese descent, a woman of Indian descent, and a black man – speaking with British accents is very cool. I don’t know why; it’s a thing. Don’t judge me!

Outlander season 7 part 1 (sigh) (Starz). I’m not happy that this is “part one” of the season, and it won’t be done for a while, but whatever – this is the world we live in, and such is life. I still like this show, although it’s more my wife’s thing than mine, but it feels like it’s been spinning its wheels for a bit, and this half-season finally got them unstuck. Claire and Jamie have been living comfortably in North Carolina for a while, but the Revolution has finally arrived, and they’re caught up in it – Jamie wants to fight for the rebels because he knows they win, but he’s still under pressure from the English authorities to remain loyal. It becomes moot when their house burns down, and they decide to return to Scotland while it’s being rebuilt. They get sidetracked and end up at Saratoga, where, well, things happen (you know what happens!). Weirdly, for someone who spent years in the United States, Claire doesn’t know as much about American history as she does Scottish history, but, I mean, at least she knows who Benedict Arnold is. What makes this a better season than the previous few is that they finally do something with the time traveling, which has always been there but hasn’t been a big feature recently. Their daughter’s kid has some medical problem, and Claire can’t fix it in the 18th century, so Brianna, Roger, and their children go back to the future!!!! to fix her, and their story in the “present” (1980) becomes a bigger part of the show, especially when one of Roger’s ancestors from the 1780s shows up, having accidentally time traveled. This stuff is fun, because it’s why the show is more unique than just your regular historical fiction, and while Claire and Jamie’s story is still the hook – mainly because Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are better actors and have better chemistry than Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin – the “present” scenes in this half-season seem to have a bit more verve to them. Maybe sending Claire and Jamie back to Scotland for a while (I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know how long they spend there, but I can’t imagine they don’t return to America) will liven the past up a bit. It’s still a good show, for the most part, so I’ll keep watching it!

A Very English Scandal (Amazon Prime). There are two seasons of this show (the second was changed to a very “British” scandal because it focused on Scots), and they’re both pretty good. In “series one,” Hugh Grant plays Jeremy Thorpe, the PM who was actually put on trial for attempted murder of his paramour, Ben Whishaw (Thorpe was acquitted). Grant does a good job portraying a fairly slimy politician, one who did, it seems, quite a lot of good for England while living incredibly hypocritically, and while neither character covers themselves in glory, what the show does well is show how different generations of gay men lived – Whishaw, for all his faults, doesn’t live a lie when it comes to his sexuality, and that’s admirable in the 1960s and 1970s in England. If this part of the show is true, Whishaw just wanted a National Insurance card and Grant could have gotten it for him, but he didn’t, and that drove Whishaw more and more to bother him until Grant decided he had to die. It’s also hilarious how bad Thorpe and his cronies are at killing someone, because they really are. It’s somewhat depressing because of the circumstances, even if it is very funny at times. The trial wrecked Thorpe’s political career, but he went to his grave (he died in 2014) denying even having a relationship with Norman Scott, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Scott, it seems, is still alive – he’s in his 80s. Good for him! The second “series” is about the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll in 1963. Ian Campbell (played by Paul Bettany) seemed like a prince of a man – he was married four times, cheated on all of them quite a bit, was an alcoholic, and probably abused his wives physically, but he’s a duke (and a man), so of course the British press treated him like he was wronged! His wife, Margaret (played by Claire Foy), used her father’s money to fix his ancestral home, but she liked dudes a bit too much, so he had ample evidence of her own affairs. It’s 1963 – you know how this is going to go! Bettany and Foy are quite good portraying largely reprehensible people, and that’s why this isn’t quite as good as the first series – it’s not as fun, and while neither Thorpe nor Scott are the greatest humans, they do have some decent qualities. The duke and duchess just seem awful, and a judge should have simply told them they had to live together in his vast country estate until they killed each other. As poorly as Margaret was treated, I’m mystified why she married the duke – she had children already, her father was wealthy, she was 39 years old … I mean, nobody was pushing her to fulfill her female destiny, because she already had! And it seems like she really liked fucking a lot of dudes, so why get married? No good can come of it! I guess she wanted to be a duchess, but, I mean, it’s a bit difficult to pity her when she willingly went into a situation like that (and the duke had already been married twice, so she knew he probably wasn’t the greatest dude in the world). It’s not a bad story, but it’s not quite as fascinating as the first one. But that’s, like, just my opinion, man.


I bought some “classic” reprints in December, and I’m bummed, because I actually tried to read some of them this year, but got hopelessly behind, so I gave up. I will read them eventually, but in the latter half of the year, when I picked any up, I thought, “Dang, I should have been better about reading these.” This is what I think about, people! Anyway, Dark Horse continues to publish old EC and EC-like stuff, so we got Creepy volume 4, Eerie volume 3, and Shock SuspenStories volume 3, both of which are neat. Titan has the latest Ms. Tree collection and a nice hardcover of Michael Moorcock’s Multiverse, which is a collection of the old DC/Helix series. I’ve never read any Moorcock, so I thought I’d give it a look. Finally, Magnetic has the latest Sergio Toppi collection (volume 10), which features some of his science fiction and is, of course, beautiful. We shall see if next year I can read more of these!

Here’s the money I spent in December!

6 December: $69.41
13 December: $181.26
20 December: $28.61
27 December: $96.26

Money spent in December: $375.54 (December 2022: $408.52; December 2021: $728.89)
Money spent in 2023: $6654.45 (down $3949.61 from 2022)
2022 Total: $10,604.06
2021 Total: $8663.11
2020 Total: $7535.93

My totals are way down, as you can see. I’ve been making a concerted effort to buy fewer comics, and it does help that so many of them are bland these days. I’m probably just getting old. I was talking to my daughter’s physical therapist, whose 31-year-old husband is just dipping his toe in the comics pool, and he thinks Scott Snyder’s Batman run is phenomenal, so I gave him the trades I have of it, because I think it’s terrible. Now, that’s a decade old, so even then I was jaded about stuff, but I think my disdain for the run is partly because I was a long-time reader when I first encountered it, and it felt like it had all been done before. Maybe if you come at it without the accretion of history, it will dazzle you. Beats me. But a lot of comics I read these days have that feeling to them – not only have I seen it all before (which I expect and don’t really mind all that much), they’re done in such a paint-by-numbers fashion that I can’t get excited for it. Some are still amazing, to be fair. I didn’t get a chance to review the latest Brubillips book, Where the Body Was, but it’s amazing. As usual, Brubaker and Phillips don’t do anything too unique, they just tell a fairly simple story really, really well, and it’s one of the best comics of the year. Similarly, I roll my eyes a bit at Ram V’s retconning of Gotham history to fit the “Orghams” into the founding of the city, because that’s been done a lot, but his epic in Detective Comics is just astonishing in its ambitious scope and it’s just done very well. Is it incredibly unique? No, not at all. But it’s still very cool. But my point is that I needed to cut down on comics (yes, I know I still spent over six-and-a-half grand on them this year!), and I did, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Marvel and DC did help by, it seems, releasing fewer big omnibuses, although that might be that I already got the ones I wanted and the ones they did this year didn’t interest me, but it does feel like there were fewer. I’m going to keep trying to cut down, and we shall see what my money spent looks like next year!

Here’s the breakdown of publishers for December:

Avery Hill: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 7 (3 “classic” reprints, 1 graphic novel, 3 trade paperbacks)
DC: 3 (3 single issues)
Fairsquare Comics: 2 (1 graphic novel, 1 trade paperback)
Graphic Mundi: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Image: 3 (1 graphic novel, 1 single issue, 1 trade paperback)
Magnetic: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Scout Comics: 2 (2 single issues)
Titan Comics: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Viz: 1 (1 manga volume)

6 “classic” reprints (52) (-25 from 2022)
5 graphic novels (66) (-75 from 2022)
1 manga volume (11) (+2 from 2022)
6 single issues (90) (-56 from 2022)
5 trade paperbacks (141) (-55 from 2022)

That’s a big drop-off! I bought 360 individual things this year (trades count as one, obviously, even if they have a lot of issues), which is down 209 from last year. No wonder I spent less money! I mentioned in last year’s December post that I needed to cut back, and obviously, I did! Again, I blame comics. Be better!

Here are all the publishers from whom I bought comics this year:

Ablaze: 3 (2 graphic novels, 1 manga volume)
Abrams ComicArts: 2 (2 graphic novels)
AfterShock: 11 (2 single issues, 9 trade paperbacks)
Ahoy Comics: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Archaia: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Asylum Press: 1 (1 single issue)
Avery Hill: 1 (1 graphic novel)
AWA: 5 (5 trade paperbacks)
Battle Quest Comics: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Beacon Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Black Caravan: 2 (2 single issues)
Black Mask Studios: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Boom! Studios: 14 (1 “classic” reprint, 13 trade paperbacks)
Clover Press: 3 (2 “classic” reprint, 1 graphic novel)
ComicMix: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Conundrum Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Dark Horse: 51 (14 “classic” reprints, 11 graphic novels, 12 single issues, 14 trade paperbacks)
DC: 32 (3 “classic” reprints, 21 single issues, 8 trade paperbacks)
Death Ray Graphics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Del Rey: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Drawn & Quarterly: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Dstlry: 1 (1 single issue)
Dynamite: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Epicenter Comics: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Evil Ink: 1 (1 trade paperback)
Fairsquare Comics: 5 (1 graphic novel, 1 single issue, 3 trade paperbacks)
Fantagraphics: 9 (3 “classic” reprints, 2 graphic novels, 4 single issues)
First Second Books: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Floating World Comics: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Graphic Mundi: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Greenwillow Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
HarperCollins: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Helvetiq: 1 (1 graphic novel)
High School Heroes Productions: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Humanoids: 2 (2 graphic novels)
IDW: 3 (3 trade paperbacks)
Image: 75 (1 “classic” reprint, 6 graphic novels, 31 single issues, 39 trade paperbacks)
Invader Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Iron Circus Comics: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Lev Gleason: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Living the Line: 3 (3 graphic novels)
Mad Cave: 9 (3 graphic novels, 4 single issues, 2 trade paperbacks)
Magnetic: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Marvel: 41 (6 “classic” reprint, 9 single issues, 26 trade paperbacks)
NBM: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Oni: 5 (4 graphic novels, 1 trade paperback)
Papercutz: 1 (1 “classic” reprint)
Penguin Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
PS Artbooks: 4 (4 “classic” reprints)
Rebellion/2000AD: 8 (7 “classic” reprints, 1 trade paperback)
Roaring Brook Press: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Scout Comics: 2 (2 single issues)
Silver Sprocket: 1 (1 graphic novel)
T Pub: 2 (2 graphic novels)
Titan Comics: 8 (2 “classic” reprints, 4 graphic novels, 2 trade paperbacks)
Top Shelf: 1 (1 graphic novel)
TwoMorrows Publishing: 2 (2 “classic” reprints)
Uncivilized Books: 1 (1 graphic novel)
Vault: 6 (6 trade paperbacks)
Viz Media: 10 (10 manga volumes)
Z2: 1 (1 graphic novel)

The top four all always going to be Image, Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel, I suspect. Last year I bought 90 Image products, while this year I went down to 75. Dark Horse fell from 78 to 51. Marvel fell from 59 to 41, while DC went from 42 to 32. AfterShock and Boom!, which have tended to be the next group, both fell this year, from 26 to 11 (AfterShock) and 21 to 14 (Boom!). Of course, AfterShock has had some business issues this year, and I don’t even know if they’re going to ever put out new books, so that’s a thing. I used to be able to count on IDW and Dynamite to have some interesting stuff, but they’ve almost fallen off the map. The only thing I got from Dynamite this year was a reprint of the Marvel Red Sonja stuff from the 1970s. It’s too bad about them and IDW, but such is life. (These numbers might not be perfect; it’s hard doing this, and I might have missed a book or two. Forgive me!)

I ended up finishing 18 prose books, which annoys me, because it’s less than last year. What the hell am I doing with my time?!?!? I’ll try to get that number up a bit in the new year! I also watched 41 different television shows (we watched multiple seasons of a few), and some random documentaries that I didn’t write about here. I’m not sure if that’s a lot or not, but I do know there’s a TON that I haven’t watched and probably never will. There’s only so many hours in a day!


It’s the end of the year, and I said I would only have the beard for the year, so let’s take a last look at where we ended up, along with … the new look!

Did you catch that? Here’s the longest the beard got:

Then I started shaving it. I couldn’t do too much weird stuff because I don’t have the tools, but this was Stage One:

Then I moved to Stage Two:

And then I shaved it all off, got a haircut, and went in a completely opposite direction:

I’ve never colored my hair, so I figured, Why not? I went to the woman who cuts my wife’s and daughters’ hair, because I figured she knew what she was doing (she doesn’t usually cut men’s hair, but this was just a buzzcut, which I figured was easy). It came out really well, and I’m not sure if I’m going to do different colors throughout the year or just let this fade and go back to my regular, uncolored hair. We shall see!

As of the last day of the year, I weigh 250.2 pounds. A few weeks ago I was feeling under the weather, and I lost my appetite for a week, and I actually was consistently below 250, but then my appetite came back and crept back over the line. Oh well. I ended up losing 10.6 pounds in 2023, which wasn’t great but certainly wasn’t bad. I’d love to do a pound a month, but we shall see. Here’s my monthly progress:

January: -2.1
February: +.1
March: -1
April: +.7
May: -3
June: —
July: -1.3
August: -.6
September: -3.2
October: +.5
November: +1.2
December: -1.9

I don’t know what I was doing in May and September, but I should do more of that!

I hope everyone had and is having a groovy holiday season, no matter what you’re celebrating. We had a quiet Christmas, as my parents – who usually visit us every other year – had to stay home. They’re moving into a semi-retirement community (they’re 80 and my dad has been retired for years), so that’s been the news around our family for a few months. My dad has Parkinson’s and my mom had a knee replaced a few years ago, so they’re just slowing down, and they live in a big, two-story house that they just can’t navigate very well anymore. I was trying to convince my mom to move to Arizona (or even Oklahoma, where my sister moved to live with her now-husband) so that they could be closer to family, but she refused. She hates the winters in Pennsylvania, but she claims to hate the summers in Arizona more, which I think is bullshit. As you get older, it seems you get colder, and it seems easier to deal with the heat – especially when everything is air-conditioned all the time – than the cold, where gets right into your bones. My biggest concern is that if something happens to them (we’re all pretty much assuming that my dad is going to die first, but who knows), it’s very difficult for us to get there, because traveling with my daughter is not easy. Plus, financially, it’s a pain, and my wife can’t just take off work willy-nilly. I told her they could live on the other side of town from us – a good 40 miles away – so it wouldn’t be easy to drop by but at least we could drive there in a pinch. I told her to move to Oklahoma if she wanted to be near my sister, although, having been to Oklahoma, I can understand her reluctance (Oklahoma is actually a fairly nice place, it’s just that the entire state feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere). They like New Mexico – move there! Nope, she’s staying in Pennsylvania, about 30 minutes west of where they live now. They’re moving to Telford, which is near Souderton and Perkasie, for you Pennsylvanians reading the blog. I mean, I like Pennsylvania a lot and would not mind moving back there, but it’s too expensive to live in suburban Philadelphia, where I grew up, so we’ll stay here for a while, but I see why she wants to stay. It’s just that she’s been bitching about the weather for years, so it seems like a no-brainer to move. But what do I know?

So they were putting their house on the market. I said that I should go back to see if there’s any stuff I might want from my childhood, and my mom says that it’s all gone. My mom, the least sentimental person on the planet (with the possible exception of my dad), took my stuff out of “my room” (I only lived in it for about two months after I got out of college, but it’s “mine”) because she wanted to put her photo albums on the bookcase in there. So far, fine. She took my stuff – mostly books from when I was a kid, including very nice hardcovers (not first editions, but still nice ones) of some Hardy Boys and Three Investigators (like Greg Hatcher, I was a HUGE fan of the Three Investigators in my youth) – and put them in cardboard boxes and put them in the basement. That would have been fine, except the basement has flooded with stunning regularity pretty much since the house was built, and she put the cardboard boxes on the floor – not any kind of shelf – and then … hoped? prayed to her Presbyterian Jesus? that the basement wouldn’t flood. Presbyterian Jesus had better things to do, however, and the floods came, and my stuff was ruined. Now, “my room” was not really in use anymore – I would sleep there when I visited, which wasn’t often, and my nephew would sleep there – and there wasn’t a ton of stuff in it, so why my mom couldn’t just buy a second cheap bookcase for her photo albums and leave them both in the room is a mystery. My mom is obsessed with things being neat, so any clutter makes her twitch, and I think she just couldn’t stand two bookcases cluttering up her almost completely unused room.

So my stuff was mostly gone. My dad, however, likes to read, and his books were in a nice, dry room, so I asked if I could go through them and also see if there were any albums they had – actual vinyl – that I might want. I managed to find a cheap-ish flight for the 15th of December, and I kind of guilted my mom into paying for it (she probably would have anyway, as they have plenty of money, but I still laid on the guilt a bit), and I was off to PA for the weekend (I was actually on the ground for about 36 hours – 5 in the morning on the 16th to 5 in the evening on the 17th). I combed through my dad’s books and found a bunch I wanted, so that was nice, I actually found a few of my books, so that was nice, and I picked up some of their albums. My parents do not have great musical taste in terms of rock and roll – I joke that they got out of college in 1964, just before music got good – but they do have a few Beatles albums, including Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, and the White Album, and they’re all original pressings, I’m sure, so they’re probably worth a bit of money. Plus, those are good albums! My sister had absconded with those, however (she did say I could have them if she didn’t want them anymore, but she still sucks), but I was able to find a few that were interesting. My mom also inexplicably had some of my schoolwork from elementary school, which I’m sure she didn’t know she had or it would have gone in the trash years ago. Most of it was just worksheets – nothing interesting – but I did find a report I wrote on the Roman Empire, a murder mystery I wrote when I was 11, some haiku I wrote when we did a brief poetry section, and a brief report on peregrine falcons I did. Behold! (Ignore the spelling mistake; my drawing of the falcon is what’s important here!)

Look at that Arch of Titus!
My daughter was annoyed that I got an A++, but that’s because it’s so good!
That’s a good-looking bird!
My drawing skills do not extend to weasels, it seems!

I got to see some friends while I was in town – I hadn’t been there since 2019, so it’s good to catch up. I went out on Saturday night and Sunday morning, because when you don’t have a lot of time, you have to make them count! On Saturday I saw Sharon (the blonde below, with her husband, who we didn’t go to high school with so I don’t know as well) and Randy and Kelli (who dated in high school and were on and off for a few years before getting married). In the morning I saw Frank and Dave (the twins in the bottom photo), who are my oldest friends – they lived behind me when I was growing up, so we hung out all the time, and Jen and Jeff, who are also long-time friends. I’m always glad I get to see them when I’m in town!

My parents did sell their house this past week, so that’s nice. They listed it at $725,000, which I thought was a bit low (it’s in a nice area, it’s a solid house with a good amount of land, and it’s 3000 square feet), but I guess they knew what they were doing (it’s 30 years old and the basement floods, which knocked it down a bit, I suppose). There’s nothing I don’t hate about the people who bought it (even though I’ve never met them):

1. They’re either 30 or in their early 30s. Certainly not objectionable, but it light of everything else, it’s important.
2. They got married this past summer … in Ireland.
3. They have no kids.
4. They make almost $300,000 a year between the two of them.
5. This is their first house.
6. They’re putting $250,000 down on the house.

God, I hate them!!!!!

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on in my family neck of the woods. I’m still annoyed that my mom won’t move closer to her children, and I’m annoyed that a lot of my stuff was destroyed, but such is life. Other than that, it’s been quiet here in the desert. My wife got me an Apple watch for Christmas, so now I can see how much I’m not exercising! Whoo-hoo!

I hope everyone is having a nice final day of the year, and let’s hope 2024 is better than this one, as we always hope next year is better than the last one!


  1. Eric van Schaik

    Let’s start with wishing everybody who make this site possible and all who visit it a nice 2024.
    In Holland it’s seems that it’s a new custom to put on your hoodie and fight with the police. More than 200 people got arrested. Fools! 🙁

    None, because Savage Dragon and Marvelman didn’t come with a new issue. 🙁

    12/6 Blonde Redhead
    It’s been 5 years since I last saw them (it was the first concert I took my daughter to). This time with my wife, who wasn’t familiar with this American band (well, it’s 2 parts Italian and 1 part Japan living in New York). It was a great concert but I was also surprised that a lot of people found it more important to react to whatsapp messages during a show. It boggles the mind. Why go if your phone is that important?!
    Shirt: I really wanted to buy 1 but they hadn’t my size (L) or were something I woudn’t want to wear.

    12/14 Karsu
    This Dutch/Turkish woman is a singer we discovered 2 years ago at a tv serie in Holland. She has already played in the states too. She switches from English, to Dutch to Turkish but personally I find Turkish the least pleasent language to listen too. She made a great party this evening so we had a great time.
    Shirt: no, because she didn’t sell them, but got an album that she signed for me, and we had a short talk. Great woman.

    12/17 New Model Army
    How do you celebrate your wifes 59th birthday? By taking her to a concert of course! 😉 Every year in december NMA makes a small tour through Germany, England and Holland. I was hoping that they would play some stuff of the new album (that will be released in januari) but they didn’t. Sigh.
    Shirt: yes, they had 1 just for this date in Amsterdam so of course I had to get one.

    Shorty after the last concert I got sick (fever) and lost 8 pounds in 10 days. A suggestion to lose weight Greg? 😉 Luckely I’m better now. 🙂

    It took you quite some time to get your hair painted. I had that period when I was 20 😉 (got half of it white, the other half black).

    We both lost our parents years ago and all the kids went to see the other parents and family in law so we had time to get better during the holidays.

    Sometimes American law suites don’t make sense to me. Rudy Giuliani has to pay $ 148 to 2 poll workers but Glynn Simmons who had spent almost 50 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit was only awarded $ 175.000 and needs a fundraiser because of him having cancer that needs treatment. How did they come up with those money figures? It baffles me big time.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Yeah, I never really thought about coloring my hair before, but I figured, What the hell.

      I think the disparity between payouts is because in the first sense, they know Giuliani will appeal it and also probably never pay, so if they can get something out of him, they will have won a victory, so they set it so high so that even if it gets appealed down to something he can pay, he’ll still have to pay. In the second instance, state law prohibits payouts larger than $175,000, which is probably the result of someone years ago thinking someone was engaging in a frivolous lawsuit (which, when you look at them, usually aren’t frivolous at all), so that’s the way it is. It sucks, but I think Mr. Simmons learned his lesson – don’t be black in America!

  2. Glad that there’s finally more Watson and Holmes, that was some great stuff.

    I think I read that Rubenfeld book a number of years ago, and something about it disturbed me quite a bit, I think. It might have been that the kinky stuff was super graphic in some way? I don’t remember, but thanks for the reminder, I guess?

    I’m not sure if I like the new look yet, but I’m sure it will grow on me. I did like how the beard ended up, and how you played with it at the end!

    Hoping you and me and everyone here has a wonderful 2024!

    1. Greg Burgas

      There is some pretty graphic stuff in the book, so maybe that WAS it.

      I wish I could do more things with the beard, but I’m limited by my tools and I don’t have one enough to justify getting better tools!

      Happy New Year to you, too. I hope things are going better with you guys!

  3. I swear I peruse every comic listing on a certain comics mail order site and you still find stuff I don’t know exists. The Maze Agency is back!?! There’s a new Watson and Holmes book? Dag.

    I think I had read the first “issue” of Clear digitally somewhere, but it felt like the least of those other Comixology Snyder titles at the time. Maybe I made a mistake?

    I thought about getting that Moorcock book, mostly for Simonson, but then didn’t. I also haven’t read Moorcock and am not sure it’s for me.

    For me, the best thing I read recently is Catwoman: Lonely City by Cliff Chiang. Much better than I expected, with some deft character work and clever little in-jokes sprinkled within. A definite contrast to Batman: Killing Time by Tom King and David Marquez, which was fun to a point, but ended up being a cynical shaggy dog story. They share many of the same characters, but Chiang’s versions seem “correct” to me in a way King’s don’t.

    I also read King and Smallwood’s first volume of Human Target. It’s certainly beautiful to look at. I would probably like the story better if I wasn’t such a big JLI fan. Weird how the plot revolves around story points from a Dan Vado issue of Justice League, but plays fast and loose with everything else!

    Also caught up to ow0rldtr33, which was interesting, in that it feels like Tynion is 1. playing around with themes and structure from Nice House on the Lake in a different context, and 2. Trying to write a Warren Ellis comic.

    I am also trying to cut back on the comics, just because I am rapidly running out of room to store them.

    Annika continues to be great. I like that her fourth-wall asides seem more geared to the character arcs than the plots this time. But it’s just charming, dryly funny, and has great scenery and good characters.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I just look at Previews, sir! Nothing fancy!

      I’m looking forward to that Chiang Catwoman book. It looks really neat.

      I’ll get Human Target, too, so I’ll see what I think.

      Yeah, I’m going through my comics right now and culling some, because space is an issue. I’m going far too slowly, but I am doing it!

  4. Der

    This end of year I,surprise surprise, didn’t buy any comics. I bought some Usagi Yojimbo Saga volumes in november and I’ve decided to do a re-re-reread of all Usagi to get to the volumes I haven’t read. I’m enjoying my reread but it will be a while before I’m finished with all those volumes.

    We watched the netflix adaptation of Pluto and enjoyed it. I mean, I don’t think that Urazawa is THE manga master of century or whatever some people call him, but we enjoyed the adaptation(that’s pretty much my opinion of everything Urazawa has written: I enjoy it, I find some issues with it and don’t think that everything he does is the greatest literary masterpiece of the century) and we watched “Suzume”, from the same dudes that did “Your Name”. Great visuals, the story was funny and entertaining. I still like “Your Name” more, but it was pretty good.

    I got an ebook reader as a gift(was more of a hands me down from my brother in law actually) and I spent some time configuring it. I already got a kindle in 2023, but with this I can give my wife the kindle(most of the books she wants she already has on kindle, so that’s better for her) and this other one has some functions the kindle didn’t have(like ordering the books by series) that are useful to me but near to useless to her so I got a new ebook reader(new to me but still, woohoo!).

    I wish all of you an excelent 2024, keep on blogging and I’ll keep on commenting here!

    1. Greg Burgas

      I own a lot of Usagi Yojimbo (those nice big volumes), but have barely read any of it. I’ll get to it someday!

      I like Pluto, the comic, quite a bit. Maybe I’ll have to watch the anime.

      My wife has gone almost completely digital with her reading, but I just can’t. I like physical books too much! I’m sure I would like an e-book reader, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get one.

  5. Der

    Oh yeah, about parents: We have a somewhat similar issue here: My mom will be 65 in march and she wants to go to her hometown. she has a small house there and she says she will alternate between living there and with my sister. Will she do it? Who knows.

    My father also says that he will return to his hometown(a different one from my mother, they don’t really get along all that much) but who knows if he will do it or not.

    And my mother in law she says that she also will return to her hometown…but then she says that she will not, and then she says that she will, but only for some months of the year, but that she wants to buy a house near us, but she says that she will give her house to my brother in law(that’s a move I totally approve, he is a cool dude that sadly got really, really outpriced out of anyhouse where he lives, so that will help him a lot) but with her who knows, she never makes up her mind and no one believes she will do anything until you push her to do something. And obviously their kids don’t want to influence her in any decision, it should be her decision in the end. But sadly she is very indecisive so who knows if she will do anything

    TLDR: Parents are a pain in the ass and in the end do whatever they wants no matter what we say.

  6. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

    Stateside for a few weeks, and been borrowing half the library.

    Finished Zdarsky’s Daredevil, Ewing’s Immortal Hulk, Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine (the Laura and Gabby run) and Batman: The Detective, Ram V’s Swamp Thing, and Russell’s Superman: Space Age.

    I’m also now up-to-date (trade-wise) on Taylor’s Nightwing, Waid’s World’s Finest, Zdarsky’s Public Domain, Cates’ Crossover, Kelly T’s Black Cloak, and Ram V’s Detective Comics.

    AND I got The Variants, Where the Body Was, and Spider-Man: Life Story for Christmas.

    All were pretty damn great, with Nightwing, Bruphillips, and the trio of Zdarsky books as clear standouts.

    I know Corrina wrote this up a few months ago…but I really can’t overemphasize how freaking great Tom Taylor’s Nightwing is.

    As ongoing Batbooks go, we’re talking the best since the Bryan Q. Miller Batgirl, if not Morrison’s Batman and Robin.

    It’s so good that it has me actively tracking down other Tom Taylor stories…which have been pretty damn delightful as well!

    1. Greg Burgas

      Yeah, I commented on Cronin’s Top 100 List that if Where The Body Was is missing but Night Fever is on it, something wrong’s with the list (and that is the case). I mean, people always pick on me when I do top lists in January, but if you’re going to skip one of the best comics of the year just to “be first,” what’s the point?

      I’ve always heard good things about Nightwing, not just from people here. I guess I ought to read it!

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        Absolutely – and I liked Night Fever!

        And yeah, Nightwing is very Miller Batgirl/Fraction Hawkeye/Waid Daredevil/Kelly Black Widow.

        I’ve been really happy with the new DC status quo under Williamson – it’s crazy how much better everything is now that they’ve brought things back to how they were when I was a teenaged boy!!!

  7. John King

    on Annika – I saw the first season on BBC and am waiting for them to show the second.
    Nicola Walker has plenty of experience working with Paul McGann (who plays the psychologist) as they were doing Dr Who audios together from 2014 to 2022 (before that she did 1 with Sylvester McCoy, and now she’s done a couple with Christopher Ecclestone, maybe she’ll work with David Tennant at some point)

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