Saturday, 18 January 2014
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Hello everyone! It's been a while. Main update- I'm switching blogging platforms, and will be over on WordPress from now on, as Blogger no longer offers me a good service. I'll be permanently deleting this blog at the end of next week, and switching to my WordPress account for good! My new URL is: http://comicsandcookies.com/ I'll keep you updated on Twitter, and will try to email everyone who has links to this site. Thanks for being such awesome people!
Saturday, 14 December 2013
I really enjoy playing chess. I've been playing it ever since I was a kid, and even entered into a competition when I was in primary school. Thanks to my Dad teaching me a sneaky three-move-check mate, I made fairly quick work of most of my opponents. Nowadays, I don't get chance to play as much as I'd like to, but I still greatly appreciate the game and am ever thankful for being taught it. You can never perfect playing chess, no matter how much you play it. I still enjoy the occasional game, and I've seen dozens of beautiful sets, including, including frosted glass, The Simpsons, a shot glass set for the more alcohol inclined player, and a DC Comics set (Batman was the Black King. Obvs) and many more...
I was recently contacted by a fan of my blog who was working with Eaglemoss, a magazine company who frequently release themed collections (one of their most recent and awesome collections is Batman: Automobilia) with the announcement that, in tandem with Marvel, they would be releasing a Marvel chess collection, featuring superheroes and villains as the white and black sides, and each piece would be a different Marvel superhero. Suffice to say, I was intrigued!
The first issue comes with a Spider-Man piece, who takes the role of a White Knight on the board, which certainly suits his sensibilities! Spidey appears here in his classic red and blue costume, and is a good size. The figure is solid, and doesn't feel like it would break easily. Proudly stood atop a heavy, metallic base, decorated with Spidey's board position and colour, this true-to-comics figure looks very good. Even if you don't collect the rest of the series, Spidey looks great as a stand alone piece.
Overall, the collection features a great selection of characters, varying from the well known to the much more obscure. Both sides feature the selected characters in their classic costumes, and based on the teaser images on the website, they look brilliant. Marvel Chess Collection also offers readers the possibility to pay extra on their subscription to receive the Fantastic Four and their cosmic enemies as potential replacements, and these pieces look just as good. As well as bonus pieces, you can also purchase a gorgeous bronze and pewter-toned chessboard for a little extra on subscription price, which again, looks gorgeous. Perhaps a little steep at £7.99 per fortnight, if you can afford it, I would recommend it. The pieces are of good quality, the magazine is interesting and informative, and there is a lot of potential with the series.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
2013 has been an awesome year for comics. With more big events, unveilings and roster-shake-ups to shake a stick at, it's time to reveal some of the top comics and comic moments of the year...
In no particular order, we have:
1. Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (Image)
Suzie, a bright and bookish young woman works in a library that has been foreclosed on by the bank. When she meets similarly intelligent Jon at a fundraising party and hooks up with him, Jon and Suzie both share their unique gifts: when they orgasm, they are able to stop time. (an experience that Suzie nicknamed ‘The Quiet’. Jon named his 'Cumworld', in appreciation of his local adult store where he spent a lot of his late teen years). As they both get to talking, they soon discover a way to get the money needed to save Suzie’s library: by robbing a bank whilst in The Quiet. However, once the deed is done, nothing is quite as it seems…
With only three issues down, Sex Criminals is a one of a kind comic. There is nothing else on the market, indie or otherwise, that has so accurately shown all the positivities and pitfalls that describe life. Whilst issues one and two are predominantly exposition based, they still explain the characters brushes with sex and self-discovery in a positive, laid-bare way. Everything feels so natural about this comic, and the experiences of young Suzie and Jon as they grow up and become sexually active are so distinctly realistic and believable. Fraction's writing about sex and his characterisations are so frank and refreshing, it becomes not to love the series, and love its style. Zdarksy's artwork is laugh-out-loud hilarious, and each page prompts more laughs, with his detailed backdrops and good-looking character. Sex Criminals combines fantasy and reality so easily, you almost believe that The Quiet can be something experienced by everyone.
2. The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (Vertigo)
Set under the ocean in a terrifyingly claustrophobic submarine, The Wake tells the story of marine biologist Lee Archer. Archer, on order from the Department of Homeland Security takes the plunge below the Arctic Circle to discover a secret, underwater oil rig. When she arrives, she soon discovers that something mysterious is going on, and that monsters beyond the depths of her imagination are hauntingly...
Horror comics are hard to do, but The Wake is the most tense and most exhilarating comic I have read all year. With expert artwork by Sean Murphy, who draws terrifying monsters, and combining his art with a dark colour palette which will make you sleep with the light on, The Wake is an incredible piece of horror fiction Snyder proves that he can write not only hot-shot superheroes and their equally sick counterparts, but he can also write some of the creepiest comics we've seen this decade. With monsters, mystery and much, much worse, The Wake is ideal for the horror fan in you. After all, we really haven't explored that much of the ocean...
3. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja (Marvel)
Our favourite bow-toting Marvel superhero finds his way into his own comic, stumbling over gangs of ‘tracksuit Draculas’, having lady problems (he’s a regular heart-throb!) and struggling to work outside the Avengers. With ever-present Pizza Dog and constant help/hindrance from Kate Bishop (the Hawkeye from The Young Avengers) Hawkeye is a hilarious comic from mastermind Fraction, and with minimalistic but somewhat surreal artwork from Aja, Hawkeye is deservedly a hit.
Okay, this looks bad. Actually, it looks amazing. With Fraction and Aja taking a decidedly non-traditional take on both superhero comics and narrative story-telling, Hawkeye has more than earned its place on my list. With one issue taking place entirely from the point of view of Pizza Dog, Hawkeye has challenged traditional storytelling with its tongue-in-cheek style. Having repeatedly sold out and featuring a variety of variant covers, Hawkeye is brilliantly funny and viciously fantastic.
4. Batman: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (DC)
When the Joker makes his explosive return to Gotham City, everything goes to hell for the Bat-family. The Joker claims to know everything about the Bat-Family, all written in a special notebook which he states can effectively bring down each and every member who has ever worn the cowl. The story ultimately reaches a crescendo when the Joker has the entire Bat-family tied up and helpless, and makes them think that he’s butchered them. The story is made all the more worse when the Joker then goes onto murder Damien Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son and current Robin…
Having only been introduced to the Bat-Family this year (thank you Logan, Laura, Neil and practically everyone else on my Twitter feed!) I was in complete awe of this storyline. Whilst DC may have their editorial problems, their storytellers know what they’re doing, and they do it well. Death of the Family has simultaneously been the most tense and emotionally jarring story, as well as being frankly terrifying. While a lot of people hate Damien Wayne, his death has still affected the Batman side of the DCU in a huge way. This storyline has just been incredibly well written, and extremely well executed, as Snyder shows once again that he can weave an amazing story which is further complemented by Capullo’s artwork.
5. Saga, by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
Ten Honourable Mentions
Of course I found it incredibly difficult to pick just five to include, so I put together a shortlist of honourable mentions!
1. The end of X Factor by Peter David, Neil Edwards and Jay Leisten (Marvel)
X Factor was my gateway drug into modern comics, and I was devastated to learn of its end in #262. Admittedly I didn’t enjoy the end of the series, and found the last six issues to be underwhelming, and lacking the usual style and finesse that David usually possesses, it was still a monumental turning point. X Factor (or at least some of X Factor) will be coming back next year, but for the meantime, I’ll still be mourning the end of my all time favourite comic.
2. Sandman Overture by Neil Gaiman and J H Williams II (Vertigo)
Having already proven his chops (like he needed to!) on Batwoman, Williams brings his gorgeous art to the world of the Endless, as he provides artwork for Gaiman’s latest trek into comic books, once again breathing life into the posturing, surly Dream. While this series has only had one paltry issue release this year, that issue has met to immense critical acclaim, and even spawned a television advertisement to promote it. Gaiman’s writing it just as lyrical and gorgeous as ever.
3. Trillium by Jeff Lemire (Vertigo)
Jeff Lemire’s tale of time travel, aliens and a love story to span the aeons is devastatingly gorgeous. Illustrated by him in typical water-colour style coupled with thin, sketchy lines which bring a light, almost weightless feel to his artwork complement this series fantastically. He also utilises and changes the traditional storytelling methods, with the use of flipped panels, pages, and more. It’s haunting, it’s dark, and above all else: it’s inimitably Lemire.
4. Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios (Image)
Those of you who are regular readers of Comic Books and Cookies shouldn’t be surprised that Kelly Sue has a spot on this list- I’ve been a fan of her writing ever since I picked up Captain Marvel. However, Pretty Deadly is an entirely different kind of beast. With lyrical, charming writing, unique characters coupled with Rios’ gorgeous artwork and Jordie Bellaire’s carefully selected colour palette, Pretty Deadly is exactly that: Pretty, with its Western and Supernatural themed story about love, lust and betrayal; and Deadly, in that no one is ever safe.
5. Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Marvel)
That pesky no-good pop-culture-referencing team is back! And no, I’m not just talking about the members of the Young Avengers. Those darn sexy superheroes. Gillen and McKelvie work incredibly well together, and continuing (at least in spirit) from their fantastic run on music-as-magic comic series Phonogram, they bring that sense of musical mysticism and straight-up weirdness to the world of the Young Avengers. Having already proven that he can write young people well, Gillen has gone from strength to strength over the last year, and Young Avengers may well be his crowning achievement.
6. Rat Queens by Kurtis J Weibe and Roc Upchurch (Shadowline)
Brilliant, gory and glorious, Rat Queens is every fantasy story you’ve ever read but with women at the forefront. Women who brawl, drink, steal and are generally not afraid to get their hands dirty! Channelling a darkly funny narrative with simple exposition and a swashbuckling story. Upchurch’s artwork is gorgeous, and each of the girls look completely different to one another, and they all have their own unique voices and fighting styles. Unfolding like an RPG, Rat Queens is hilariously funny and fantastic.
7. Captain Marvel #17 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Filipe Andrade (Marvel)
Again, Kelly Sue has another place on my list. After what I found to be an uneasy ending to The Enemy Within diving straight into Infinity, #17 saw a return to form. When emotional intensity meets action and drama, Kelly Sue combines them to make an engaging story. I have never felt prouder to be a member of the Carol Corps, and this issue was a meta commentary on the love that people have Captain Marvel. Andrade offered his unique art style once again, and the whole book turned out as a love letter to comics fandom.
8. X-Men #1 by Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel (Marvel)
Over the last year, Marvel have been getting great at equal representation for ladies in the comics. With the successful Captain Marvel (see my previous entry!), Fearless Defenders and Journey Into Mystery, Marvel have introduced an all female line-up, simply called X-Men, as part of its mythos. Whilst proving that ‘sistahs can do it for themselves’ (no, I can’t believe I just said that either) this series has been equal parts cute and exhilarating. With an entire scene taking place atop a speeding train, X-Men is a fun, underrated series. Plus it’s brought Jubilee back from the depths of obscurity!
9. East of West by Johnathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Image)
East of West is quite possibly one of the most beautiful comics of the last year. Combining a futuristic narrative with old-school Western sensibilities, Hickman’s writing works perfectly on this title. Dragotta’s artwork brings a whole new dimension to the comic, and his expansive landscapes are simply jawdropping.
10. The Movement by Gail Simone and Freddie Williams II (DC)
Rounding up the last of this list with some gritty, social justice activists courtesy of Batgirl godmother Gail Simone, The Movement is a hugely underrated comic from DC. With all the components of a good spy/thriller film (dubious police force? Check. Corrupt Chief of Police? Check.) combined with some honest-to-god superheroing with characters who span all aspects of the LBTQ+ rainbow, it’s a damn good comic. Williams’ artwork captures everything, and it is very much a DC version of Kickass, minus the bad language and excessive violence.
It’s that time of the week again… The night after reality show Geeks airs on E4, and people get annoyed about it, taking to the internet to post deeply critical reviews. Last week, I simply couldn’t put my rage into words (other than 140-character long outbursts, as demonstrated on my Twitter feed) and my friend Vincent of A Guide To Geekdom, did a much better job of channelling aggression into something much more constructive, with a wittily worded and amusing blog. I could only manage occasional outbursts of the word 'fuck'.
In this week's offering, Nick, Alex, Alistair and Leo, a brass band quartet from York found themselves in Malia with cosplayers Kim, D'Yandra, Lucy and Hanna from Basildon. Sparks flew, arguments over tea were had, and people danced. It's Malia. What do you expect?
However, this week's show was no better. In fact, it was much, much worse. It was still the same format, but there was no focus on the geeks passions. There was nothing that separated them and made them unique.The commentator was the same frustrating asshole he’s always been (made all the more snide by the inclusion of cosplayers. “So it’s fancy dress?” No. Fuck off and come back when you’ve done some fucking research.) but one of the geeks was unbearable. So far on the show, all the people have seemed really nice, and I would happily chat to any one of them about their geeky passions. Admittedly I may have been a bit lost with the physicists, but hey- I don’t know everything.
I’ll preface the next bit with the following: it takes a lot for me to get annoyed at people. I’ll let a lot of things slide, and I don’t really mind. But Nick of the band geeks, with his sanctimonious, holier-than-thou attitude and personality wound me up. I’ve never been tempted to turn the show off while watching it, but whenever Nick opened his mouth to say something, I just felt the overwhelming desire to turn the damn idiot box off. But, I did not. I persevered, even if he outed himself as the ‘biggest enemy to Japanese comics’, and after he described the girls with a big ‘SIGH’ in his ‘log book’. Which is, y’know, a diary, but not girly. It’s for manly men. Grr.
Anyway, this show focussed on the band geeks and the cosplayers out on the sunny shores of Malia, of ‘OOH AHH MALIA!’ fame. Accompanied by the ever ridiculous MC Reckless (Yep, that’s his partying handle. He even has ‘reckless’ tattooed on his arm in case he forgets) to guide them through the tricky nightlife of party central, this episode took a much different tone to its predecessors. Whilst episode one was mostly underwhelming, focussing on little of anything; episode two tugged at a nerdy love triangle for far too long; this episode became an us vs. them, as the bubbly cosplay girls didn’t mind going out and partying, but the band geeks were much more reluctant. Of course some, or rather a lot of this can be accounted to the intense manipulation of the show to create pointless drama, and Vincent speaks in his most recent blog about some of the behind-the-scenes dynamics which were rather eye-opening.
That said, the main point of the show is to take people with little confidence and cast them out of their comfort zone, accompanied by some party-hardy brah coupled with an ongoing commentary that’s more harsh than help. However, I didn’t get that on this episode. To be a cosplayer (and to rock the incredible zombie make-up that Amy had) you need confidence. You need to be able to stroll into a room, dressed in a ridiculous outfit and totally pull it off, something which all of the girls were able to do. The boys, the brass and string quartet also possessed this inner confidence. Again, it takes confidence to go and play music somewhere without screwing up (and this is why I can never do it!) so it was more like the producers got together and said, “Right folks. We’ve got two groups of confident people who are kind of opposites. Let’s just give them a free holiday and watch the sparks fly.” And boy, did the sparks fly.
However, as with any reality television, you have to look at it through a different scope. In knowing that it’s fake, or the strange kind of faux-real that it presents itself as being, you have to know that the sequence of events did not always play out the way it was shown. One example of this is a five minute segment of the show was dedicated to Nick and his fellow band geeks hotly debating the placement of milk in making tea. It seemed more like an in-joke that’s being going on for years, in the kind of way that any group of friends has silly faux-arguments like this. But, for the record, milk goes in last. A lot of the show played out like this, with more airtime piled on the boys as they were mostly decidedly set against going out in any capacity. the girls had a good time, but you never knew it straight away; we were forced to watch the boys dally around instead.
The main thing that annoyed me about this episode was how the band geeks just weren’t interested in the cosplay girls. At all. Sure, the interests were at fairly different ends of the spectrum, and it may well have been manipulated to look this way, but the girls tried. They seemed to chat to them even though they had barely any common ground. Nick, king of the band geeks (and his own little world, it would seem) barely wanted to even look at them, and when D’Yandra, of the cosplayers confronted him, he pulled the ‘oh-I’m-mature-I’ve-been-to-university-you’re-like-little-girls-to-me’ card, and just continued to condescend to her and patronise her and the rest of the group.
By the end, both groups eventually had fun and let their hair down, partying it up and dancing like crazy people in one of the boozehouse clubs. However, unlike the other episodes, neither group seemed to go home having made new friends, which was rather sad.
I hated this episode, can you tell?
With not enough cosplay, not enough music and far too much manipulation and bickering, this was the weakest episode by far.
Geeks. What can you do. You awesome people keep being the lovely, passionately nerdy people I love, and this show can hopefully fade into obscurity.
I’ll likely be here next week as I continue to write angrily about this show and despair for the state of television.
Follow me on twitter-@Ariellalphabet
Monday, 9 December 2013
1.) Nightwing shirt
Having fully immersed myself into the Bat-Universe this year, I have found a new favourite comic book character in the form of original Robin, Dick Grayson. When he’s not having the most heart-breaking will-they-won’t-they relationship with Barbara Gordon, he’s breaking hearts (and bones) as Nightwing. I love his simplistic modern costume (I’m saying nothing about his 90s costumes. NOTHING!) and a t-shirt version of it would be awesome. Also, it would increase my already sizable geeky t-shirt collection.
2.) 2000AD Presents… Zenith Phase One by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell
As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s work. Having recently re-read Supergods, and with the news that 2000AD are (finally) releasing collections of his Zenith strip, I am aching to read them! Sure, I could just borrow my Dad’s old 2000AD and trace the story through those, but I’d much rather have a hefty collection, so I could through it all in one go.
3.) Game of Thrones Funko Pop! Vinyl Figure (s)
The Funko Pop! Vinyl figures are absolutely freakin’ adorable. Having bought my first figure (Batgirl, no less!) earlier this year, I seem to have the bug. Every line that Funko bring out seem to be capture the best things about each line, and I haven’t seen any that I don’t instantly love. However, I recently found out that they brought a new wave of Game of Thrones figures out, and I pretty much fell in love with the Jon Snow and Ghost ones. So adorable!
4.) The special edition complete Breaking Bad boxset
Clocking in at £250 for all five series, special features, and some flippin’ awesome extras, this is one of the coolest box series sets. I started watching Breaking Bad this year, and have got unbelievably hooked! I’d love to be able to marathon the whole show over a week or two, and with this awesome collection, it couldn’t be easier.
5.) 8-bit jewellery
I can never have enough jewellery. I have all of my necklaces currently on display on a corkboard in my bedroom, so I can easily pick and choose what I want to wear, but I still don’t have enough. However, just typing in ‘geeky jewellery’ into Etsy can bring up all sorts of lovely goodies! I especially love 8-bit styled jewellery, and these earrings really fit the bill.
Follow me on Twitter- @Ariellalphabet
I’ve been abandoning my poor old blog once again… As the seasonal demands of Christmas and my birthday became a crazy whirlwind, I’ve left my blog to its own devices. I’m grateful for the views I’ve still be getting, but you guys need some shiny new material! So hopefully, I’m gonna get back on the blogging train over the next two weeks. I have film reviews, geeky wishlists, top 5 comics of 2013, and even more to come! However, I will be going back home for Christmas on the 20th of this month, and taking a holiday break for two or three weeks until the New Year. When I get back, I'll have more reviews and posts to come!
As many of you may know, it was my birthday last week! Thank you again for all your lovely messages. I had a really nice, relaxed day back home, and got some amazing gifts. Most of my presents were geeky in some way, and I loved everything I got. My Dad bought me Get Harry Ex, a collection of the 90s 2000AD series of Button Man (which I reviewed earlier this year) and it's incredible to re-read, and it flows excellently. I would love to see it as a film! My friend Aaron treated me to a hot drink in Costa Coffee and also gave me his Nintendo 64, along with Pokémon Snap and Pokémon Stadium! After some problems in working out how to play it on a HDTV, we eventually wired it up, and it's taken pride of place in our living room, and I'm the mostly-undefeated champ as Pokémon Stadium. The N64 has inspired a spark of retro gaming between my boyfriend Iain, housemate Daryl and I, and once we move out next year, we plan on getting more retro consoles. I'm gonna start trawling eBay for Legend of Zelda games, because I've been wanting to play them for years, and what better console to save Hyrule on?
Over the last few weeks, I've also been reading a lot! I finished Fragile Things, a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, which only reminds me how much I love his writing style. I also re-read Grant Morrison's Supergods, which as well as being a fascinating part-commentary on comics and part-autobiography, is a deeply engrossing read. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know a bit more about the comics industry, whilst viewed through a semi-psychadelic and drug-fuelled window, all the more increased by the semiotic and theoretical viewpoint he takes. Continuing on the Morrison kick, I bought Batman vs. Robin, the follow up to Batman: Reborn, and once again, fell in love with Gotham and Dick Grayson. Lastly, I got a parcel through the post from Graeme Buchan, with a pack of goodies from his successful Kickstarter for his Creepy Scarlet comic. The comic itself is excellent, and channels equal parts Joss Whedon and Matt Fraction.
I’ve also been watching a lot of films and TV with my housemates. After months of nagging, I’ve got into Dollhouse in a pretty big way, and it’s a series that really grows on you! I’ve also been keeping up to date with American Horror Story: Coven and Arrow, two of my favourite shows that are on the air, as well as my usual diet of cartoons. You may remember my very angry post and tweets about Geeks on E4 as well, and I’ve kept up with it purely out of a morbid fascination. Over recent years, geekdom has bled into pop culture in a big way, and now superheroes, video games and fantasy have taken the forefront. So, with a show like Geeks, it seems counter-productive to cast those who identify as geeks onto the autopsy table, only to be dissected by people who aren't geeks, and subsequently ripped apart, by school-playground bully-esque commentaries and insults. But it’s on E4, so what can you do?
On Friday, I went to Lincoln to see Gina, and we went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Aside from the unholy deluge of people who were attracted to Lincoln because of the Christmas Market, we had a pretty good time! Since I got to Lincoln several hours before the showing we wanted to go to, we found ourselves having dinner in Wetherspoons, and that was an experience. With a soundtrack composed entirely of decade-old R ‘n’ B to age-old cheesy Christmas songs, there was much eyerolling going on. However, it got worse for Gina and I, both confessors of hating the outside (and most people, as it goes) the pub was packed full of people getting drunk, singing, shouting, which made it almost impossible to hold a conversation. In an extremely Daria-esque state of play, Gina and I stayed firmly sat at our table, despite it being at the opening of the dance floor. After enduring as much of people and bad music as we could, we went to the cinema, and watched the film.
|Pretty accurately describes what Gina and I were thinking.|
I much preferred Catching Fire to its predecessor (which some of you veterans may remember my first blog on here was a review of The Hunger Games) and it did seem to solve many of the problems of the first film. To be expected, Jennifer Lawrence was absolutely fantastic, and her stoic-yet-emotional performance was one of the best I’ve seen in a YA/teen film. That said, The Hunger Games is not afraid to embrace its more adult tendencies, and is just as tense and emotional as any number of action/thriller films that I've seen. The Hunger Games has also sparked a wave of utilitarian YA fiction and films, with adaptations like Divergent hitting our screens at some point next year. Catching Fire is incredibly tense and will leave you on the edge of your seat throughout most of the film, and it played out almost exactly how I imagined it when I read the books. I will be writing a full review at some point soon, so keep your eyes peeled!