Friday, October 17, 2014

Are all the best Western comics French??

(This post originally written after Comic Con 2013.)

Hey, folks.

So, lotsa stuff since last year (had a baby, got EMT license, graduated fire academy, blah blah).  But I'm here to talk about WESTERN COMICS.

At Comic Con last week I noticed that there are still quite a few Western comics out there!  Naturally I wanted to take a look at every one.  In the past, I would have bought each one.  But there are so many and I am so picky that I didn't buy any.  Mostly because the art didn't really sell me.  The Sixth Gun is still intriguing me, and the art looks pretty good, but they have a hardcover collection coming out in the Fall, so I may pick that up rather than buying one of the trades.  There was also a comic called "Deadeye" and one called "Pariah, MO."  One of the things that bugs me on a lot of these comics, though, is the lack of thorough research.  Everyone claims they research, but I still see a lot of non-period hats, holsters, clothing, and vaguely rendered weapons.

Surprisingly, the only Western comics I came close to buying were French comics over at Stuart Ng's book booth.  There is the series "Blueberry," which I've looked through before due to the beautiful art by Moebius, and I found a new collection called "Junk" which has a wonderful simplified style that I'd like to emulate when I finally make my book.

I ordered "Junk: L'Integrale" and one volume of "Blueberry" from Amazon UK last week because it ended up being cheaper than buying at Stuart Ng.  While buying a French import of Open Range on Blu-Ray, I was also turned on to the series "Lincoln," which also has a simplified comic style applied to a Western.  I discovered several other French Western series as well, which is funny to me.  I guess the American West really does have a worldwide appeal!  It's also funny given the stereotype that the French hate Americans, and what is more American than a cowboy?

Below is some of the art I could find from these series.

Junk, art by Bruno.

Lincoln, art by Jerome Jouvray.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bad Art - Neverland Hook

I'm not going to post the full cover here, but if you must see it, see it here at the Hawkeye Initiative.  Fair warning, it is cheese-cake in the extreme and likely Not Safe For Work.

This is a cover for what is surely the worst comic on the market right now, something called "Neverland Hook."  Now, aside from the ridiculous "costume" and the sexual objectification and the cultural insensitivity and the stupid pose, the thing that bugs me MOST is that gawd-awful tomahawk.  Good gravy, Pasquale Qualano, you couldn't Google "axe" or "tomahawk"?  That is really and truly awful.  I'm offended as a fan of tomahawks.  What is the blade made of, stone?  Why is it so thick?  The weight makes this thing look terribly unwieldy.  For the record, here is what your average Native American tomahawk looks like:

Bad Art - Tony Daniel's F5

(An odd time to make a new post, but that's what happens when you should be doing other things.)

I found this gem in an old Wizard magazine.  There are many things that are lame with this cover, but can you see the worst offender?  In the article accompanying the comic announcement, creator Tony Daniel says that this book is about a team of ex-Navy Seals posing as meteorologists (even though women are not allowed to join the Navy SEALs).  I could leave that premise there and this post would serve its purpose.  But the art goes further.  Daniel claims to "love weapons of war" and "the military," so I'm sure he's at least seen a movie with an RPG or bazooka, right?  Or maybe he's launched a model rocket before?  Research is key whenever you write anything, though most comic creators seems to rely on their memories of movies, but Daniel couldn't even be bothered to watch ANY movie within the genre he's writing.  I can't believe no one stopped him before this went to print, because even if he has no idea how a rocket works, you'd think the colorist, editor, publisher, or even an office intern might.

Check out the blonde girl with the rocket launcher who is about to burn off her face:

Maybe it's intentionally supposed to look stupid, and inside the book the girl is an idiot who doesn't know what she's doing.  Maybe she's comedy relief.

Other art crimes include the thigh position of the gimp at the very bottom.  His left thigh is not attached to his body if it's coming back in from that angle.  Also, why is he wearing a mask with a black tank-top?  Then, look at the leg of the skinny guy on the left of the cover.  How thick is that leg??

Lastly, the composition of the cover is just bad.  Instead of following good design and giving the eye a good path to travel, this is just a jumble of boring people thrown haphazardly together.  Does this entice anyone?  Does anyone past sixth grade think this looks cool?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

I had a good series of adventures this last holiday weekend.  (I'm writing down one now, will complete the rest later.)

Started off Saturday
- 5th anniversary
- Ambush at Mill Creek
- hub cap
- Jenese' grad party
- leave for Havasu

Sunday morning we slept in slightly, got breakfast at Carl's, lunch-to-go from Blimpies, and fueled up.  Used the local launch instead of Site 6 due to ease and crowds.  I launched the PWCs.  Only had to re-adjust once.  Christopher had received a message from Rocky saying he was in Laughlin, NV.  We decided to take the PWCs up-river to visit, a trip of about 60-65 miles.  The trip was pretty good, some crowds in different spots, but not too bad.  Got the crafts up to 60mph+ at different points.  Had our lunch on a sandbar about 2/3 of the way there, but unfortunately lots of chop makes for mushy smashed sandwiches in the fore storage compartment.  We ate for sustenance, not for pleasure.  Continued up-river.  Made it to Laughlin, with all its casinos lining the very shores of the river.  Chris wanted he and me to dock and go play a $5 hand of Blackjack, but we couldn't find a good place to land.  Chris was piloting his Waverunner, and I was on the back seat, while Ben was piloting Bob's Sea-Doo with Bob on back.  We all were wearing life-jackets.  (This is important later.)

Just as we were about to turn around and head back, Chris and I spotted a girl (around 18) holding on to the outside rail of a metal cattle-boat moored next to the Colorado Belle Hotel and Casino.

Her legs were in the water and being pulled down-river by the swift current, along with her red bikini bottoms.  Two friends in the boat were trying to pull her back up.  Now, to me, she didn't look like she was in trouble.  I thought she and her friends were goofing off, and, at worst, she'd let go and have to swim to the back of the boat and pull herself back in.  But Chris saw a look of terror on her face that I did not and directed, "Ryan, jump in and help that girl."  I didn't immediately because I still thought there wasn't any emergency and that Chris was reacting too strongly to a mild situation.  We got closer and Chris repeated, "Ryan, get in there and save that girl!"  I still didn't think I needed to, but jumped in anyway, losing my sunglasses in the process.  I jumped in too soon, miss-judging the strength of the current, and was quickly swept past the girl without being close enough to touch her or the boat.  Still thinking this was silly, though now a little more concerned because of the current, I muttered to myself, "Well this was a bad idea."  What I hadn't heard when I jumped in was Chris asking the friends, "Can she swim?" and their answer of "No!  Help her!"  I still didn't know this as I missed the back of the boat, swimming as hard as I could against the current, and instead grabbed an anchor rope and pulled myself to the back of the boat and hoisted myself up on the step.  During this time, the girl had let go or been pulled off of the railing and drifted swiftly past, with Chris pursuing on his Waverunner.  I didn't even see her go by.  She was out of sight behind another pontoon boat moored behind the boat I was on.  At this time, out of my sight, Ben had taken the Sea-Doo over to her and Bob had jumped in and gotten a hold of her.  On my stoop, I heard one of the girl's friends ("Leopard Bikini," for identification purposes) jump in the water saying, "We need to go help her!"  I knew that was a bad idea, because she had no PFD, she would make one more potential victim in the water for the other guys to rescue, and if she reached her friend she would very likely get pulled under in her friend's panic (Life Saving merit badge basics; thanks, Boy Scouts of America!).  So as she was floating swiftly past, I reached out and told her to take my hand and I pulled her onto the back of the boat, despite her protests that we needed to help her friend.  I assured her that Chris was on it, and that if she went it would make things worse.  I was in too awkward a position to use my full strength to pull her up, despite her 100lbs, so I pulled her to the edge and told her to grab the big metal handle.  "Whaaat handle?" was her weirdly slow reply.  Along with her idea to jump in after her friend, this made me suspect that she wasn't operating at 100% mentally.  She got up and was still worried about her friend, and I kept reassuring her.  Out of sight, Chris and Bob had successfully pulled Red from the water and onto the back of his PWC, and moments later emerged from behind the other boat.  He brought the craft alongside the back of the boat we were on and we attempted to steady it so she could get off, which was difficult with the swift current.  But she got off with no problems, and all three girls immediately left, with barely a "thank you."  Something about being "in trouble."  I got back onto the Waverunner and Chris mentioned that Red was "totally drunk," and told me about the "can't swim" tidbit I'd missed earlier.  I added my own observation about Leopard being high or drunk.  We were taking off when the pilot of one of the crossing cattle boats started berating us for being there, saying we weren't allowed.  Chris immediately got huffy (understandable) and explained that we were saving this girl from drowning, and the guy was still berating us.  I think he thought we were friends with the girls and goofing off.  Once we made him understand we were just passing by and helped them out, he backed off, though not with an apology, just an "OK then, you're cool."

On the way back down the river we reflected on the situation.  If we hadn't been there right at that time to see that situation at just that moment, those girls might have drowned.  There were signs all over the boats and casinos in the area warning of a strong under-tow, the girls were drunk, Red couldn't swim, none of them were using good judgement (why was Red dangling on the outside of the railing in the first place, especially if she couldn't swim??), and there wasn't anyone else in the vicinity who could have enacted the swift rescue necessary.  Both girls could have been sucked down in under a minute, possibly by going under the boat moored behind.  Really stupid.  We never did find Rocky.  We drove 60 miles up-river just for this, it seems.  The circumstances were unusually specific.  The fact that Chris is a Paramedic and spotted the distress so quickly, the fact that we were on PWCs rather than a big clunky boat, the fact that I at least knew enough not to let Leopard float to her friend, even though I botched the original attempt for Red.  The fact that we arrived just before Red got pulled in.  Whatever it was, it was good we were there.

The rest of Sunday:
- race with girls on PWC
- helping bro fix PWC

- brakes failing
- shooting in desert
- making it back in time for anniversary dinner

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More knives

My Sackett knife is finally complete!  Here it is.  I don't have it yet, because Alan is still making the belt, but I should have it by next week, along with a new holster for my Schofield.  The blade is 10 inches long, to give you an idea of the scale.

Next are two knives my friend Michael Negrete, "Blademan," made and I bought.  I'm a sucker for the primitive style.  The first one is made from half of an old sheep shear, with a bone handle.  Ian owns the other knife.  We are knife brothers now.  This is a special bond.  The second knife I bought a few months back.  Just a good lookin' knife and sheath.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


It's coming up on a year!  Yeesh.

Well, how about a simple post with no news and a picture of a knife?

I commissioned this knife almost a year ago, and I think it will finally be delivered soon!  It is a large knife.  And Sam Elliott carried it in two unrelated movies.  How about that?

I'm also buying this knife from a friend who made it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Hey.  It's been a few months.  What's new?

First off, we've already had two weekends full of performances of The Odd Couple at Biola's Theater 21.  It's been going really well.  We've had a few flubs, a few missed lines, a few technical errors, a few mis-heard lines, but overall it's been really fun, and I've felt good about it.  Here's the Chimes review (the actual article in the paper featured some great full-color pictures of all of us on-set).

The best accident so far happened the first Friday night with a sold-out crowd (featuring some high-up admin types from Biola!).  Randall's character, Murray, is encouraging the newly single Felix to go out and enjoy the benefits of bachelorhood.  One of his lines is, "If you want to go out to the Playboy club and hunt bunnies, what's stopping you?"  Unfortunately, that night the entire audience heard "hump bunnies"; Forrest and Tracy said they could tell the audience sucked in their breath in horror.  The good news is, we didn't lose them completely, and got good laughs for the rest of the show.

Another night, when our poker group was rushing back to their seats after hearing Felix coming out of the bathroom, someone accidentally knocked over a "beer" on the table.  Jonathan (as Roy), without missing a beat, immediately started sucking the beer out of the felt tablecloth.  It destroyed the audience.

We've got one weekend left of performances: tonight, Friday, and Saturday.  As always, it will be both good and sad to be done with it.  There were times during the early rehearsal period where I wasn't feeling it and wasn't having a good time, but as we got closer and closer to the actual shows everything started clicking and it got really good, and now every night is a blast.  But it will be nice to have my evenings back.

In other news, I've been playing softball for the Pirate Monkeys again.  As has happened our last couple of years, we're starved for players again most mornings, and have had to forfeit over half our games.  There's also a shortage of teams in the "A" league this year: three total.  So we're playing the same two teams over and over again.  The Dark Knights (Talbot guys and gals) are their usual selves, and we're usually competitive with them.  The other team is stacked with 14 players, many of which are former baseball players and have arms as big as my thighs.  One guy in particular hit at least three home-runs into the trees closest to the library on McNally field.  He would have hit the library if the trees hadn't been there.  It's a bit ridiculous.  It used to be a rarity to have balls hit over the fence.  Now it's rare when they stay on the field.

I've been playing OK.  My pitching is adequate, and my hitting is getting better.  Last Saturday I had several good hits, and several more pop-ups and doinkers.  I also got nailed on the other side of my right shin again by a grounder while pitching, having received a matching blow a few weeks earlier.  Also, during one of our games against the Dark Knights I was scrambling to 2nd base to tag a runner out, but kept fumbling with the ball on the ground.  By the time I got it, I was right in the runner's path and she cleaned my clock.  I took what I think was her thigh right in the face.  It hit my sunglasses into my nose and gave me a good cut which I didn't discover until after the game.  I took off my sunglasses and there was a ton of blood all down the side of my nose which had been hidden by my frames.

What else, what else...

Well, despite the lack of reviews, I've been watching a lot of movies through Netflix lately.  I need to do a big round up again.  I've seen several really good ones, too.  Not much in the theaters, though.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Predators (2010)

Predators started out holding my interest, with our main character coming-to in free-fall over a jungle.  His parachute deploys and he lands with a weapon ready.  He shortly meets up with several other characters who have fallen from the sky as well.  Some of their dialogue is a little stupid, but otherwise I was "in" for the first 20 minutes or so.  Unfortunately, from there it starts going downhill.

The main problem with the movie is that it doesn't do what a sequel should.  Take Alien and Aliens, for example.  In Alien, we'd never seen the creature before, had no idea of what it was capable of, didn't know all it's mysteries and tricks.  By the end of the movie we've learned quite a bit.  When Aliens begins, it doesn't ignore this knowledge to have a whole new group of people make these discoveries all over again, it builds on past knowledge, ups the ante, and still has new reveals, moments, and aspects to the characters that make the movie engaging and tense.  While we knew what a face-hugger did from Alien, we'd never imagined being pursued around a room by one, and so that scene in Aliens is genuinely terrifying and novel.  We also had never seen a queen, so that reveal was a huge moment.  And we'd never faced multiple aliens, so that raised the stakes (while balancing them with a well-armed military force on the opposite side).

In Predator, you've got one predator and his capabilities and true nature are slowly but steadily revealed throughout the entire movie, and it's all new and scary.  Predators stumbles by not creating a new encounter while building off of the audience's already-obtained knowledge of the predators.  In this way, Predator 2 was a superior sequel because you had the government agency who knew about their abilities from the first film, even though overall it's not a great movie.  In Predators, we're learning again, along with the characters, what these things are, what they can do, and why they do it, but we're bored because we already know all of this.  These revelations are huge for the characters but boring for us.  It's not fun to be so far ahead of the characters' knowledge when the mystery is supposed to be interesting.  In Predator we're talking the journey with Arnold and crew, learning as he learns.  From the first frame of Predators we already know that each character has been dropped into a giant "game preserve" by the predators to be hunted.  FRAME ONE!  And instead of really upping the pressure, the addition of more predators doesn't seem to add an iota of tension or danger.  In fact, when they kill off two of them so they can have the final showdown it lessens the danger because we see that they're vulnerable and kill-able.  Your monster should always seem invincible or overwhelming (Alien, Aliens, Predator).  If the real soldiers of Predator died to the last man fighting ONE, showing a bunch of losers taking down THREE just makes me think these aren't the same species.

I was willing to go along with the movie if it did something interesting and new, but it was mostly just a retread of moments from the first movie.  We've got a large, well-armed team, in a jungle, some internal tension and in-fighting, and then one-by-one they're picked off by an unseen enemy.  We've got the "Billy on the bridge" moment in the yakuza character, a trip over a waterfall and into a lake, a mud-covered protagonist (which even directly references the first film in dialogue), an "over here" moment, a character staring at the trees where a predator is hiding while cloaked.  The survivors are once again the main character and a South American woman.  Even the music is lifted directly from the original film.

And yet, for a film that has no shame about duplicating moments, it lacks a single memorable line.  The first movie had quite a few memorable bits of dialogue and one-liners.  Predators features, at best, passable dialogue, and at worst laughable lines delivered all-too-seriously.

I don't know why someone thought Adrien Brody would make a good macho hero, but he doesn't add much and his character is beyond bland.  I like Brody in many other movies, too.  He uses a Christian-Bale-as-Batman voice the entire time, and little allusions are made about his dark past which nobody in the audience cares about and don't make him more interesting.

Larry Fishburne's character is almost interesting, but we get so little time with him that we don't care about him either.

The worst character might be Topher Grace's, because his little twisty "man is the real monster IS YOUR MIND BLOWN YET???" bit is just frustrating and stupid rather than shocking and entertaining.  I think there's even a horrible line that's exactly that: "You're worse than these monsters!"  DUMB.  STALE.  SEEN IT.  NOT EARNED.

Once again, Predator stands alone as the only good movie, even though we've seen two direct sequels and two lousy Aliens vs. Predator movies.  I think there is more mileage to be had out of the character, but it's going to take a good script and a director who knows how to find it.

Cowboy Shooting - Round 2

Remember last summer when I tried Cowboy Action Shooting for the first time?  I finally took the time out to go again yesterday.  And this time I took decent video.

I invited a bunch of friends to go, but most couldn't, so our group was five including me: Will (from Biola and Chestertonians), Randy (from Biola), Bob (family friend), and my brother Ben.

The class size for the New Shooters Clinic was much smaller than last time, which was nice because we all got to shoot more quickly, and we each got to shoot two timed matches.  Helping us out from The Cowboys was Little Sure Shot, her husband Wells Fargo, and Washoe Pete (who helped last time, too).  Adam Cartwright couldn't be there and B.T. Blade was competing this time.  Once again The Cowboys were gracious, generous, friendly and helpful.  They could have cut down on the technical details a bit for the class, because while I was interested I don't think everyone else was.

The gun variety was more limited this time.  The only pistols were Ruger Vaqueros and one Ruger Blackhawk, and they were all the same barrel size and caliber (.38).  The rifles were several Marlins, a Winchester 1892 replica (the classic Winchester in every Western in the 50s, no matter what the time period), and a Winchester 1873 replica.  The '73 was my favorite, but unfortunately it was having problems so we didn't get to shoot it.  The shotguns provided were two double-barrels, one with external hammers and one without, and two original Winchester 1897s (pump action -- as featured in No Country For Old Men, The Wild Bunch, and The Professionals).

Here are some videos of us doing our timed runs:

It was very fun and now I'm definitely committed to participating in this sport. I'm saving up for one of these at the moment: