Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Fever Talk #42 - The Arbitrary Look Back

We take a look back at 2018 but also wonder if there is any point in looking back at all. Aaron talks about what he's excited for in 2019 and Darcy gets increasingly drunk on whiskey.

To download the episode directly CLICK HERE

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fever Talk #41

We talk about Aaron's birthday movie marathon, it leads to a classic being crapped on a little, and we revel in our first session of a new D&D campaign.

To download the episode directly CLICK HERE

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Fever Talk #40

We have an important apology to make about a comment on a previous episode and then we kind of disagree about what we disagree about. Classic.

To download the episode directly CLICK HERE

To subscribe to the podcast via Apple Podcasts CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

SHIP WRECKED Vol. 3 - Page 17

Bobsjvul has always been the heart of this story. I hoped, when I wrote this page, that her being angry for the first time in our story would really drive home the turning point in this volume. I think it also probably echoed an anger I had when I wrote the volume too.

SWv3 was written around Christmas last year and at the time I was in a very tumultuous point in my life to say the least. I'm not always aware of how my personal life affects my writing but looking back now it's pretty obvious that I wanted to kill your darlings and point to the rising tide of shit in our world.

To read what the hell I'm talking about, go to ShipWreckedComic.com or tapas.io/series/Ship-Wrecked

Art by Iuli Niculescu & Hayley Mulcahy. Words by me & Zakk Saam.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

PAPER GIRLS (up to issue #25)

Much like last time when I decided to review a long-running, ongoing comic, this comes with a healthy warning of: SPOILERS LAY WITHIN THIS HERE POST. But if you're so inclined to keep reading without knowing the ins-and-outs of this critically acclaimed comic, here is a rough synopsis:

Four early-teenaged girls get caught up in a time-travelling war between two factions of the future and get lost in multiple time-streams. They now desperately try to find their way home. 

I really like Cliff Chiang's artwork on this series. Most comic artists have an issue with a lot of their faces having a similar/the same sort of shape and look. It's a problem across the board with very few exceptions. Chiang's work, while not immune to this problem, is better than most though at creating easy to follow characters, they all have a different look and style which makes them feel real. Even the Grand Father's selection of t-shirts adds a lot to the story in this aspect. He is given a lot to work with here in this story, both with the designs for the clothing and structures of different historical times, but then also getting the opportunity to design futuristic worlds/armour/devices.

It's a wonderful project for him to show off what he can do but it must also be inordinately labour intensive and exhausting to be doing this much work on each issue. These are jam-packed pages. There is a gap in release now for PAPER GIRLS, the next issue is not slated until March next year, and he definitely deserves this prep time.

Matt Wilson is one of (if not the) best colourist in the industry right now and his flair for the dramatic with lighting and colour enhance what is already a fantastical journey. Lots of orange, purple, pinks dominate the palette of PAPER GIRLS as can already be evident by the above images.

Brian K. Vaughan writes here and compared to my recent SAGA review I have less harsh things to say. It's not to say that PAPER GIRLS couldn't eventually fall into the same traps that SAGA has, but at less than half as many issues released, it's much more difficult for PAPER GIRLS to feel too drawn out at this point. 

Although, there was part of me that rolled my eyes slightly at the last couple pages of issue #25. The girls have been thrown around in time for a long... time... now and I honestly need that gimmick to progress a little/lot. It's the same thing that drew me away from BLACK SCIENCE. These are not 1960 gimmick sci-fi shows. We can't wallow in the same premise for several seasons. I need the plot to progress and not reset every arc. The girls being separated in time is not a large enough departure from the girls being lost in time for me to be excited about it.

Vaughan does a great job with the little details. He created a language for the future people that is a mix of txt language and slang. A slanguage as it's wonderful put in the comic. He has also managed to build in enough characters that currently the comic feels densely populated. Sure, a lot of those characters are future versions of the papergirls themselves, but still. Most importantly, however, the girls themselves feel both relatable and accurate. Their teen angst, confusion, desires, all feel real and it's their dynamic and friendship that bring me back to this title each issue. If they were too antagonistic with each other, or felt like they used buzz-words from 1988 in a forced fashion, or other endlessly common problems that can be found when writing a gang of teenagers, this comic just wouldn't work. It's the humanity in this sci-fi story that is ultimately important, as it should be.

There is a problem, as there is with all fiction written with time-travelling devises, of large chunks of this not adding up if you think about it for a couple minutes. I recently had a long conversation with my wife about the parts of BACK TO THE FUTURE that don't work because of paradoxes and such and yeah, it's true, but sometimes you just have to turn that off in your head to enjoy the ride. For example, why doesn't future Tiffany remember seeing herself die? It's because you have to try and explain this stuff away with the idea that any time-travel is really dimension travel but because of that, something happening to 1988 Tiffany shouldn't be of consequence to future Tiffany but that's not how this story is playing it all out and... this is exhausting. So yeah, I'll give those sort of inaccuracies a pass.

Overall, yeah, PAPER GIRLS is a great sci-fi adventure comic about friendship and growing up but it's in danger of that great comic getting a little lost in the time-travel part of it and I hope it can lean in to the former rather than the latter in future issues. Huh... get it?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fever Talk #39

Welcome to your new English grammar class, with teacher Darcy confusing native English speaker Aaron. And then both of us get confused by numbers.

To download the episode directly CLICK HERE

To subscribe to the podcast via Apple Podcasts CLICK HERE

And here are the weird things we try to explain:

The Phonemic Alphabet

The 10 point tally box.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

SHIP WRECKED Vol. 3 - Page 16

A little known fact about Captain Beefheart; when I originally described him to SHIP WRECKED co-creator Triona Farrell, I said he should look like our mutual friend JP Jordan who works at our local comic book store The Big Bang. I've let JP know this, and he has always shown a lot of affection for him because of it. But the character was never based, especially emotionally, on JP and I always knew I wanted to do something drastic with Beefheart eventually.

This is the day that JP has dreaded, we turn Beefheart. Or, to put it another way, we reveal him.

Read it @ tapas.io/series/Ship-Wrecked or ShipWreckedComic.com
Art by @iuli_draws + @HayleyMulch. Words by me + @ZakkSaam

Friday, November 23, 2018

Fever Talk #38

In our Thanksgiving themed episode we talk a little bit about the holiday, get lost a bit in Father Ted, and then theorise the finer details of Nicki Minaj's sex life.

PS. We mistakenly title her song as Barbie Tingz but it's actually Barbie Dreams. Barbie Tingz is a different song. Clearly we're crazy for confusing the two.

To download the episode directly CLICK HERE

To subscribe to the podcast via Apple Podcasts CLICK HERE

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

SHIP WRECKED Vol. 3 - Page 15

The doo-doo faeces hits the fan as Bertilak's error correction may turn out to be an error itself.

Art by Iuli Niculescu + Hayley Mulch. Words by me + Zakk Saam

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

SAGA (up to issue #54)

For those who don't know, SAGA is the wildly successful comic written by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn and coloured by Fiona Staples, and lettered by Fonographiks. Very briefly I'll try to explain the premise because if you haven't read the comic already, these thoughts are not for you anyway since I'm going to be talking about a comic 54 issues deep and it'll be littered with spoilers.

Marko and Alanna are soldiers on opposite sides of an intergalactic war that has been raging for generations. They meet in prison. Alanna the guard, Marko the prisoner. They fall in love, or more accurately they fuck - she gets pregnant - and they try to make it work, but love definitely follows. As does their child, Hazel. They go on the run to keep their family safe from a universe who would keep their love a secret. Many people die along the way.

From the beginning of this story, these adventures have been narrated by Hazel (or at least, that's how it seems, there is space for there to be a twist in that down the road) and because that narration has been lettered in very... childlike handwriting, I've always assumed she is no older than a teenager when writing this story. Which would give us a pretty decent idea of what age she will be at the end of the story, one could assume. Considering she's now around the 9 or 10 mark in age, and that the series has jumped forward in time on a number of occasions, you'd think at this point in the story we'd be coming to the end. Right?

While the most recent issues had a bit of a quicker movement in pace and story (SAGA has, on a few occasions now, slowed down to glacier levels of meandering) it still seems no closer to finding a conclusion to its story than it was at the end of its first arc, fifty issues ago. Which is not necessarily a mark against it, THE WALKING DEAD has never shown signs of wrapping up and that's ok but SAGA always felt like it had an ending available. Even in issue #51, Hazel via narration talks once more about "conclusions". The idea of "happy endings" or unhappy ones have often been themes within the book. In the back matter of #54 Vaughan talks about taking a publishing hiatus with SAGA but then mentions that they plan to publish issues for many years to come. Many? Really? They're not beating a dead horse yet but the horse is starting to look bruised.

Why do I say this? Listen, I know any criticism for this perennially award winning book seems a bit rich coming from me but there is a common problem I'm finding with comic books these days that I'm reading and it's a lack of timely endings. There are a number of high profile, and genuinely great, creator owned comics out there on the shelves lately that are starting to feel like they're teetering on jumping the shark before they get to their much touted finish line, I'm looking at you WicDiv. Like I said, SAGA has kept my interest for these 54 issues but I don't know if I have another 54 in me.

Here are my reasons why:

1) The cast and scope is relatively small, and dwindling.
Like I said before, spoilers, but with Marko now dead along with Doff and Sir Robot, while other characters like Gwendolyn, Sophie, and Lying Cat all seemingly sidelined it's getting harder to find a b-plot anywhere in here. With the majority of the characters all together in this gang on the run, it can also create an almost myopic focus on the group's story, with very little space to breath in terms of development. There have been times when I've missed the days of The Will's escapades giving us a moment away from the family. Now they're literally all together. So with that in mind, yeah, sure, they're on the run, lets move the plot along now. What's next?

2) I don't really expect there to be a happy ending.
Hazel says in her narration that she doesn't "grow up to be some great war hero or any sort of all-important saviour". Ok, I can get down with that. But with the way the story is written since the beginning, I also know it's probably gonna end up with a lot of dead characters. So knowing that I'm investing in this unconventional family of misfits, and knowing that they're probably all going to die, it's getting harder to go along with this deal. I didn't really sign up for a depressing horror show. I can't watch Ghüs die. I just can't.

3) There is a level of self importance that is starting to grate on me.
The life lessons that are being taught through the convergence of Hazel's narration and the story unfolding are nice but after 54 issues of them it's getting a little... preachy? Or at the least, I've probably just seen the technique used too many times within the comic at this point. Of course, I'm willing to admit that this opinion comes with a huge caveat: I've been reading this comic in monthly issues for 6 and a half years now. In its collected format, it probably doesn't seem nearly as cloying. But now, at the prospect of reading this for a decade starts to appear on the horizon, I kinda need that device to be shaken up. It's like when you have a friend who becomes a parent and constantly tells you that you don't understand how amazing and difficult and life affirming parenting is. Sure, I get it, but I don't want to hear it all the time? It's annoying. Saga is becoming that friend.

4) Writing is great, I know.
Brian K. Vaughan has made writing a integral part of this story. Maybe it's just because I'm a writer myself, but it's almost becoming comical how much the story is starting to revolve around it. The couple fall in love over a romance novel and imply there are several layers of meaning to it. They track the writer down and hold him in esteem of mythic proportions. Marko recently decides to become a writer and waffles about the virtues of writing and how it can change the world. If Hazel's hand written narration doesn't end up being a book she is writing herself, I'll eat my hat.
I don't know, like, I know we writers are megalomaniacs but I guess I still find it funny when I'm reminded of that fact.

I could talk for hours about how amazing this book is, with beautiful artwork from Fiona Staples (who I know can be like Marmite for some readers and while I agree her digital painting can sometimes make the characters look like they're standing in front of a green screen she is an amazing character designer and incredibly expressive) and seamless lettering from Fonographiks but thats the review I would have written 20 odd issues ago. Now I have questions and concerns. Is the book going to keep my interest for the "years to come" and what is the direction of the book at this point? SAGA has been a juggernaut in sales and critical acclaim and I get that a juggernaut can't be stopped but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be.