Artist. Designer. Awkward wad of nerd. Fights off existential terror and self-loathing with Godzilla films.

amechanicaldisaster@gmail.com

November has come

Which means that the October Game is over and done with! I survived! I managed to create a new piece of art every day of the month! Thirty one new pieces! And I threw them in a gallery over here! Go check them out!
Here are some fun facts about my month of torment:

23 of the pieces were hand-drawn. Only one was a full-fledged watercolor painting. I tried my hand at digital painting for the first time with one of the pieces, with maybe some success? All but one of the hand-drawn pieces were inked. The one that wasn't is just raw pencil, with a couple stains from sweet and sour sauce. There are at least three pieces that I had almost completed drawing before deciding to abandon them and do something else. I got pretty desperate towards the end in coming up with ideas and trying new things. 

In the long run, there are more than a few that aren't as successful as I would have liked, but I'm pretty proud of how things turned out all around. Even when I got lazy, I was still at least trying to do something different, and with the exception of the stupid number of pieces that involved astronauts or space technology or some such, I don't think I really repeated myself any more than once or twice on occasion. Most of the digital pieces came about because I just couldn't draw to save my life that day. Except for this one, which I'm REALLY happy with:
You can view the artwork of the other artists over here on the Facebook page. In all, it looks like there were 32 people participating, and out of those it looks like 16 of us managed to finish. The quality is all over the place, there's a lot of stuff that caused me to say curse words and hit my head on the wall, but there were a few really talented people who were in on it too. There were...at least two...that really irked me a lot, because I was putting everything I had into it and going nuts and I know for sure those two were hacks and on multiple occasions were just posting old work. Alas, the rules as they were initially given were not adhered to at all, so a number of people were late and never got removed from the game or anything...

...Maybe I took it too seriously. Maybe I shouldn't have been as competitive as I was, but I didn't want to half-ass any of my work (even though I did on some of the days where I just wasn't feeling it), and I guess I felt like I had something to prove. This was a challenge for myself, an attempt at further artistic growth. I guess not everyone saw it that way, but that's how I approached it.
 I figured that, with it finally over, I'd take a break for a few days and let myself recharge a bit before going back to work on the highly neglected Other Sleep. However, that's not happening and today I'm back to work on a flyer for an upcoming punk show, and also sowing the seeds for something potentially big...which I'm afraid I can't talk about just yet.

Anyways, check out all 31 pieces in the gallery, let me know what you think, which ones you love, which ones you hate, you know, fun stuff like that. Any and all feedback is very much appreciated.

Hopefully I'll be able to blog a bit more regularly on here in the future, but I've said that before, haven't I?

The October Game

So I'm participating in this little thing that the Nelson Fine Art Gallery in Johnson City is throwing, called the Bill Counts October Game. The rules are simple: create a new piece of art every day for the month of October and send it in before midnight. The pieces will be posted on the Facebook page I just linked to. If you miss a day, though, ALL of your work is removed. So, you know, NO PRESSURE. I'm one of up to 25 artists participating, and I think there's 18 so far who have signed up. I've been working on sketching out a bunch of ideas for stuff I want to do.

There’s a conflict in my brain when I’m thinking of ideas and making art, that of my desire to be a super detailed illustrator like Geof Darrow/James Stokoe/Moebius/Brandon Graham/etc. VS super clean design work like the Designers Republic/Brian Wood/Ashley Wood/etc. Some of these sketches are me attempting to find some kind of happy medium between the two. I mean, I guess that's always been a struggle of mine for some time now, but this is the opportunity to REALLY focus on it.

The only other preparation I’ve done is saving a SHITLOAD of images from Tumblr, deviantART, and other places as inspiration.

My initial plan was to just do a drawing every day, on 11x17 paper or some such, and leave it at that. But that’d get boring, so I’m going to do a lot of digital stuff too, I think. I know after the first week I’ll probably hit a wall of exhaustion and will turn lazy and sloppy, but hopefully I’ll be able to push past that into some new, more interesting territory in order to keep from being bored and giving up. Desperation may force me to get more creative, yeah? That's my hope, anyway.
It’s going to be difficult, because I still want to get work done on Other Sleep as I do this, working my job, and maintaining a healthy social life with the girlfriend. It’s a daunting thing to think about yes, but I think it can be done.

I don't know whether I'll be uploading everything here onto this site or not, maybe they'll get their own gallery once it's all over with, provided I don't die or go mad in the process. Everything's gonna be posted on that Facebook page for sure, and I may throw everything onto my Tumblr as well, so if you're interested in keeping up with it, those are the two places to watch.

LET'S DO THIS. ART OR DIE.

[Brett]

Bioweapons, Bullets, Broads, and Badasses

Since last weekend, I've been on this kick of watching nothing but Japanese movies. I'm not sure what brought it about. It's been quite some time since I've indulged in some crazy foreign flicks, so I was certainly long overdue. I think part of it was picking up one or two of these on DVD somewhere and leaving them sitting for a month before coming to the conclusion that I needed to watch them? I'm not sure. Anyways, here are some quick, scattered thoughts on the 12 movies that I watched and/or attempted to watch, in the order that I watched them:


The X From Outer Space (1967)
: I’d been wanting to see this for years, had no idea it was a Criterion release, and…I’m not sure why. It’s kind of dull. I mean, when Guilala finally shows up at literally the halfway point and starts wrecking shit, it’s pretty cool, but the first half was mind-numbingly dull. The ending was pretty lousy too. Nothing really sets it apart from other kaiju movies of the time aside from Guilala’s bizarre design, and that's kind of a shame.

School of the Holy Beast (1974): I only actually watched half of this. There’s a scene where two topless lesbian nuns are forced to strike each other with whips, and I feel like that sums up the entire movie. It was way more compelling than the X From Outer Space at first, but I stopped watching after two men sneaked into the abbey dressed as, you guessed it, nuns, to have sex with one of the older women for some reason? I dunno. I guess Japanese exploitation movies aren’t quite as awesome as I thought, I never would have imagined I’d get tired of a movie that is 75% boobs.

Rubber’s Lover (1993): I had this weird realization that some bits of chapter 4 of Other Sleep were subconsciously pulled from this movie, as well as parts from a later chapter that I haven’t started drawing yet. The last 20 minutes dissolve into mindless obtuse shit, like most of these films do, but everything up to that point is pretty entertaining, and I LOVED how it was shot, like a dirty, dizzy Stanley Kubrick. I found myself pausing frequently to sketch certain shots.

Electric Dragon 80000V (2001): I fucking love this movie. Too bad I only got to watch the first half of it this time around, I couldn’t get the second half to work on the site I was watching it. I ordered the DVD and it SHOULD arrive soon. I also spent a long time hunting for music from the excellent noisepunk/industrial soundtrack. It’s all just delirious, energetic, noisy fun that makes me smile.

Meatball Machine (2005): Keita Amamiya (creator of Zeiram!) designed the “Necroborg” creatures in this movie, and the special makeup effects and gore were by my splatter hero Yoshihiro Nishimura (creator of Tokyo Gore Police!), but whoever wrote and directed this thing SUCKED. I got maybe 15-20 minutes in before being overcome with boredom.

Akira (1988): Only watched the first half or so of this, planning on finishing it later. This is the first time I’ve watched it since finishing off all six volumes of the original manga earlier this year, and I was just a bit too overwhelmed by how DIFFERENT the movie is. It’s so much more gruesome and nihilistic, lacking a lot of the more charming aspects from the manga, which is weird considering that Otomo wrote and directed this himself before the manga was even finished. Still absolutely gorgeous to look at, though.

Mutant Girls Squad (2010): Another one that Yoshihiro Nishimura was involved in, as well as, um, the dude who directed the Machine Girl and RoboGeisha? Another one where the budget was too small, it wasn’t shot well, and I just wasn’t following it. Got about 30 minutes in before quitting. I should know by now to ONLY watch splattergore films written/directed by Nishimura himself, those seem to be the only ones I really enjoy.

Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis (2001): Bought this weeks ago, had been wanting to see it since high school. Katsuhiro Otomo wrote the screenplay! Apparently it’s nothing like Tezuka’s manga, borrowing more heavily instead from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and the themes/ideas from Astro Boy, and there’s nothing wrong with those two things at all. Great jazzy soundtrack, LOTS of wide, distant shots where the architecture is just overwhelming and the characters are just dwarfed by their surroundings. I really enjoyed it.

Katsuhiro Otomo’s Memories (1995): You can tell that Akira set me on a theme, eh? Three short animations, each based on an early manga work of Otomo’s. The first one, Magnetic Rose, is by far the strongest and most beautiful piece, with the screenplay written by Satoshi Kon shortly before becoming a director himself with Perfect Blue. The second one, Stink Bomb, is hilarious, and the final piece, Cannon Fodder, directed by Otomo himself, is pretty experimental. It looked more like something out the 1980’s Heavy Metal movie or a Ralph Bakshi film than anime, like, it was kind of weird and unsettling. Maybe comparing it to some of the stuff from Liquid Television would be better, I’m not sure. Still, excellent stuff all around, and I think I like it more than Akira.

Paprika (2006): One of my favorite movies. I got a bit emotional when I read about Satoshi Kon’s death in 2010, and watching this again made me get a bit teary eyed, that someone who could create such an amazing movie is gone. I see something new every time I watch it, this time around realizing just how many classic Disney references there are, along with the fact that it really demonstrates a love for cinema in general.

Zeiram (1991): I love this movie so much. Early 90’s sci fi, cool monster and costume designs, and I realized this time around that there’s a real John Carpenter-esque sensibility to how it's shot and paced. You know, if he had directed a movie about a deadly immortal transforming bioweapon, a hot bounty hunter from space, and the two bumbling electricians that get in the middle of their battle. It’s not too far off from a kaiju movie or episode of Power Rangers, but that’s right up my alley.

Bullet Ballet (1998)
: I used to call Shinya Tsukamoto one of my favorite directors, and I still love the fact that, with most of his films, he acts, edits, writes, directs, and more, but I’ve grown weary of the frantic editing, shaky camera work, and flights into silliness that consumes most of his stuff. That said, this is definitely one of his best movies, right up there with A Snake of June. I just wish he’d learn to hold the freaking camera still, especially during the brawl scenes…

I'm probably going to watch more, I can think of at least three or four I'd like to dig into once more, and I have a copy of Wild Zero which should be coming in next week too, so consider this part 1.

[Brett]

Set this arcade on fire

I’ve stumbled upon something that absolutely breaks my heart in a way that’s hard to put into words.

I love arcades. Love them. I’ve spent so much time in them. Whenever I’d go on vacation as a kid, I was always more interested in the arcades than in, say, Dollywood or waterparks or whatever. It was always about the arcades for me. When I was in middle school, my best friend and I would go to this local pool run by the YMCA, and during the weird breaks where they’d make everyone get out for 10-15 minutes or whatever, we’d hit the NeoGeo cabinet and play the hell out of Metal Slug. And as lousy as our local mall here in Bristol has been, that was always one advantage that it had, the Tilt arcade, where I could go play House of the Dead, Time Crisis, and Metal Slug to my heart’s content.

It’s been…quite a few years since I’d been in Tilt, and once that little pool had gotten rid of the NeoGeo cabinet, replacing it with the ultra-crappy Tekken Tag Tournament, my friend and I just stopped going altogether. But if a bar or restaurant has Galaga or Ms. Pac Man or something like that, then you bet I’ll give it a go if I’ve got some quarters on me.

Anyways, after years of not bothering going into the arcades in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, and never having time for Tilt any time I found myself in the mall, I decided I really wanted to blow a load of quarters on some House of the Dead, or some other old game I would play as a kid. That’s how I came to notice this disturbing trend.

Last week, I went into Tilt for the first time in years, mostly on a whim and out of a strong desire to play some Metal Slug. Things had changed, though, and not in a pleasant way. For one, all the games were in their own sections it seemed. All the crane games stuffed with Annoying Oranges and Angry Birds were grouped together in the front, all the racing games down one wall, with the shooters and the fighters down the other wall. This organization bugged me to no end, shouldn’t arcades be mazes that are nigh impossible to navigate? Isn’t half the fun of an old arcade finding some game you’ve never heard of, tucked away in a corner between a basketball hoop and DDR? Gone was House of the Dead, gone was my beloved NeoGeo cabinet with Metal Slug and Samurai Showdown. What good is an arcade without Daytona USA? Time Crisis 2 was still there, but it just didn’t feel right. They had House of the Dead 4, but the guns are the uzi-looking things, fully automatic, and difficult to aim with. The thrill of scoring precise headshots was replaced with the dull task of just mowing down crowds of zombies, spraying bullets blindly. It just wasn’t fun.

The oldest game there was, I think, Marvel Vs Capcom. That doesn’t feel right either. No pinball, no Pac Man, only one or two Skeeballs? What the heck? All of the emphasis was now on those crane games, and those other weird games where you could win an iPod or PS3 or something, and those are no fun to me.

Over the weekend, I went on a trip to Pigeon Forge with my girlfriend. We wandered down to Gatlinburg in the morning to kill time and wait for the weather to clear up. There, we went into three or four different arcades, and it was all the same crap I saw in Tilt. That horrible House of the Dead 4 cropped up a lot, and I noticed a couple other new shooters: Project GHOST and Terminator Salvation, both of which are also played with big automatic rifles against hordes of enemies. Again, precision no longer seems to matter much anymore, and those guns are just too awkward to handle, especially for a lefty like me.

The arcades in Dollywood weren’t much better.

But, I kept telling myself, there is hope. The Arcade in Asheville is a two story arcade with a bar. On the bottom floor is where you find all the old 80’s classics like Donkey Kong, Burger Time, and motherfucking Tron. Joust and Centipede too! Upstairs is even sweeter, with a line of pinball games and skeeball, the Simpsons game (which my friends and I beat one night, spending WAY too many quarters), the Star Wars Arcade game, and my personal all-time favorite: Virtual On. I haven’t been there since January, though, and I just recently heard that they removed the pinball games and are in the process of converting the upstairs area into a club. Which probably means the removal of more games, including Virtual On. And that breaks my heart in so many ways.

I mean, I get it. People have been saying that arcades are dead now for years, so I was honestly shocked that House of the Dead 4 and a Terminator Salvation game even existed. Times are changing. Consoles, Steam, and smartphone games have flooded and conquered the market. The only way for an arcade to survive anymore is to offer ludicrous prizes for people to throw their money at. I think I saw a crane game in Dollywood where you could win a 32” TV. If you want to play shooting games, there’s Call of Duty, who gives a damn about Time Crisis? DDR is now a thing of the past too, a fad no one wants to bother with anymore.

I guess I’m just an old man now. I hate being nostalgic, but man, I miss being able to jump from Virtual On to House of the Dead 2 to Daytona USA to Ms. Pac Man in the space of 20 minutes before seeing a movie at the local theater. There’s no real way to replicate that kind of experience anymore, switching games on the PS3 just isn’t the same as navigating a dimly lit cavern full of cacophonous noises and flashing lights, digging in your pockets for more quarters.

Ah well, at least the theater has Crazy Taxi, at least. And a machine with both Ms. Pac Man AND Galaga. Now if only they would show some movies that would give me a good reason to go to the movies...

[Brett]

Trying not to be useless

I feel like I open every one of these posts by saying the same thing, but: I've been busy lately. Not just with work, but with other things. Like the sudden development of a social life, which is kind of awesome and terrifying at once. 

So chapter 4 of Other Sleep is finally online! I put it up last week! You should go read it! It's um, a bit different from the others, a little weird, but still alright.

And I made this:
Yep, my good buddy, Pizza Flag editor, and stand-up comedian Sterlin has convinced another punk band to come play in Bristol, and once again I put a flyer together for them! This one was all digital, starting with a photograph I took of my teeth. I'm pretty damn happy with it, it's quite a bit different from other stuff I do.

And here's the cover I designed for Eye Alive 2, also from Pizza Flag:
I'm really proud of this dude, completely tokusatsu. I had bought a recent issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland that was ALL ABOUT giant monster movies and TV shows from Japan, so that was my big inspiration.

...If you haven't noticed, I LOVE giant monsters...

Saturday was a big day for Bristol, with a band I have never heard of called Mumford and Sons playing that night and a bunch of other bands and things going on downtown. I got invited to hang out at Mountain Empire Comics and sell my comics. Once more, I was teamed up with my partner in crime, Dionysus Metalcult. In his words, we're like a Spider-man/Dr. Strange team-up from the 80's, and that's quite appropriate. There were a LOT of people out and about all day, but unfortunately not many of them were big on our weird self-published comics. Nevertheless, a good time was had, despite a total lack of funnel cake.

Seriously man, it's not a festival if there isn't funnel cake. What the hell?

That's all for now. I did a weird illustration for Eye Alive 2, but I won't be posting it just yet. Now I must dive back into Other Sleep and get to work on chapter 5, yeah?

I leave you now with a photo of me with a bow in my hair, for no reason:
 

[Brett]

Rock on, Rob-Con, rock on!

Rob-Con was a pretty big success yesterday. I'm not sure where to begin.

After a week of little sleep and much preparation, I got to Viking Hall with all of my books and stuff at 8:30ish. I was thrilled that I would once more be sitting with the baddest 'stache in the east, Dionysis Metalcult. We kicked ass at Free Comic Book Day, so getting to hang with him again was a blast. It was a tad slow going at first, but before long we had our first, glorious customer:
Things stayed quite a bit busy after that, and I never got to leave my table for long. I'm a little disappointed in that, because I didn't get to buy anything or talk to any of the other artists like Matt Smith and Kaysha Siemens. At the same time though, I'm blown away by the number of comics I got rid of. I haven't had the chance to sit down and figure out how much I sold, but I gotta say, the boxes I was carrying them in were noticeably lighter when I was leaving at the end of the day. Seems both issues of Burst Reach were what I sold the most of, but I could be wrong. I also gave away Pizza Flag zines with any purchase, and before long I was completely out of copies of Eye Alive. The second volume should be out next month, which...have I posted the cover for that on here yet? I don't remember. I'll uh, look into that later! I still need to figure out what I want to do for the inside too.

I wish I had a picture of this one copy of Eye Alive that I signed. I butchered my grammar by writing "this is the most books I've ever signed," then quickly marked through "this is" and replaced it with "these are." I was in this weird, bewildered daze all day, this being my first real con experience behind a table, so I kept doing stupid things like that. It was a huge turnout, and there was this infectious energy in the air, like this perpetual buzz. It was overwhelming, but just so awesome.

I also drew a pretty kickass Tin Man:
Another guy got me to draw some woman from the original Star Trek series, with this weird bee hive haircut? I didn't get to take a picture of it because I'm stupid.

But yes! It was a blast! And I think I did pretty good! And I got interviewed by some guy! So that MIGHT be online at some point. Maybe. I dunno.

Afterwards, my friend David and I decided to hit the lake, and it was majestic.
All in all, it was a day of good things. I was stupidly sore and tired at the end of the day, to the point where my comprehension of the English language was breaking down severely.

I can't wait to get to do it all again, I hope next year's Rob-Con will be even BIGGER.

Now, back to work. Gotta hurry up and finish chapter 4 of Other Sleep!

[Brett]

One two three go go go

Hey! You! What are you doing Saturday? Seeing the Dark Knight Rises? That's cool I guess, but what you SHOULD do is go to Rob-Con at Viking Hall!

Yes my friends, go to the Tri-Cities biggest comic convention and feast upon the thousands of comics and toys and stuff that will be there! Meet some zombies, check out the Batmobile! And then come by my table and BUY MY STUFF.

I'm debuting Burst Reach 2 there, packed with comix greatness:
As well as the collected Distinguished Gentlemen and Exciting Tales! strips, the first Burst Reach, AND chapter 1 of Other Sleep!

I'll be doing sketches for stupidly cheap, too! Here's the flyer I made for my table:

You see that? For under 10 bucks you can buy ALL FOUR of my books! There's no reason NOT to! Unless you just don't like comics in which case, why are you even here?

Seriously guys, I'm stoked for this. That show I did in Gray, back in April? That was weak. Free Comic Book Day was fun, but it's nothing compared to Rob-Con. This is gonna be BIG.

Also I'll be dressed really nice, which doesn't happen often. You don't wanna miss that!

Besides, you don't HAVE to see the new Batman on opening weekend you know. That's when all the crazy crowds are out, who wants to deal with that crap? COME TO ROB-CON.

[Brett]

"It makes me forget all of my friends are dead!"

Lollipop Chainsaw is the one game I was really looking forward to this year, and it did not disappoint.

I WAS a little concerned at first. Suda51’s games seem to be getting increasingly dumbed down as they become more slick, when you look at how Grasshopper has progressed from developing the insanely dense and obtuse Killer7 to…a game about a cheerleader who fights zombies with a chainsaw. And yeah, it is a little disappointing that these games aren’t quite as thought-provoking, unpolished, and…maybe insane isn’t quite the word, but what I’m trying to get at is while the narrative for Flower, Sun and Rain will have you ripping your hair out in confusion (if the gameplay itself hasn’t caused an aneurysm), Shadows of the Damned is just about shooting demons in Hell to get your woman back, not a whole lot to think about there.

So yeah, a little part of me wishes Suda51 would throw out another game with a story that requires a lot of research to grasp and gameplay that can be just plain inconvenient, but at the same time? Lollipop Chainsaw is just so much damn fun, even if it is rather shallow.

Here’s the big thing about it that appeals to me: this game is like a tribute to the bizarre splattergore films that guys like Yoshihiro Nishimura have been cranking out over the past few years. Specifically, I’m reminded of Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein girl, but the flying zombies in the game (propelled through the air by blood spurting from their leg stumps) HAVE to be influenced by the final showdown in Tokyo Gore Police. James Gunn, director of Slither and writer of the Dawn of the Dead Remake, is in on it too, and you can see his fingerprints all over it in the dialogue and the silly references that the game throws out.

That’s another thing I love. This game is HILARIOUS. Juliet is so vapid and takes this localized zombie apocalypse all in stride, while her severed head boyfriend Nick gets all the best lines as he freaks out and questions what the fuck’s going on. The zombies themselves say some great shit too. I can’t get over this one fat zombie who declares “they’re selling popsicles for fifty cents!” And, for some dumb reason, I always laugh at the football player zombie who shouts “ten hut, ten butt fuck!” It’s crude and oh so juvenile in so many ways, and I think that’s one of the reasons I love it.

You could beat the game in about 4 hours if you just run through it, yes, but I take no issue with this. Between work, making art and comics, and the other stuff I do, I’m cool with playing a game that’s not going to take me 50+ hours to beat or whatever. I can jump in, play a level or two, and I’m good. And I can’t stop replaying certain levels of the game either. I mean, I was gearing up to write this review, and instead decided to go replay the 3rd stage. That’s how much I enjoy this game. Yes, it’s a little repetitive since all you’re doing is hacking up zombies and occasionally playing a minigame of Zombie Basketball or something, but trust me, it’s FUN.

The soundtrack goes a long way too. In fact, I’m fairly sure it easily ranks among my top five favorite videogame soundtracks ever. Akira Yamaoka ROCKS THE FUCK OUT in a way I haven’t heard since his work on Contra: Shattered Soldier, which is also in my top 5 faves. Here’s my favorite track from the game’s prologue stage:

 

There’s also a lot of great rockabilly and bone-crushing metal. You have the option of picking any five tracks (you unlock more as you progress, of course) to make a playlist to listen to while playing, which is a huge plus to me. And, since this game is published by Warner Brothers, there’s a lot of licensed music thrown in too. Every time you use your Sparkle Power (one hit kills + invincibility), “Hey Mickey” starts playing. I think this is the first time I HAVEN’T outright hated that song. Another stage has you slaughtering zombies on a rooftop to “Pac Man Fever.” Of course, not all of the licensed music is great. Not even Lollipop Chainsaw can get me to enjoy Skrillex or Five Finger Death Punch.

Also? The boss battle tracks are all scored by Jimmy Urine of Mindless Self Indulgence, who also voices the first boss, Zed. He does a FANTASTIC job of it, too.

People knock the game a bit because the graphics aren’t too great, but that’s a charming thing to me. I have never played a Grasshopper game with mindblowing visuals, and I’d kind of like to keep it that way, it suits the punk band influence that Suda51 comes from. Still, I’m so happy that this game is so goddamn colorful. They use a great comic book aesthetic for everything too. I’ve always loved the visual aesthetics that Grasshopper has used in their games, so this is definitely no exception. The game has also received criticism for having a ridiculously sexualized protagonist, but that doesn’t bug me. Juliet is a cartoon character, and it’s hard to get upset over her appearance when she’s just so damn bubbly and kind of badass. No one really comments on her appearance or threatens to rape her or anything like that, and past the opening cinematic, it’s not like the camera is always up her skirt or down her cleavage. If anyone’s truly being objectified, it’s Nick, LITERALLY. I think this whole thing is just Suda51 poking fun at and satirizing gaming trends with no real overall statement about uh, feminism or anything. And that’s unfortunate, but it’s not really a problem either. Actually, Jonathan Holmes did a great post on Destructoid where he interviewed Jessica Nigri as Juliet and wrote quite a bit about the central ideas of objectification in the game. Give it a read.

Okay, I’m well over 1000 words so let’s wrap this up: Lollipop Chainsaw is AWESOME. Go play it. Or not! It’s up to you! This is just how I feel about it, you may think differently.

Regardless, you gotta admit, with the way the gaming industry is these days, we should be thankful there are still dudes like Suda51 who do things differently. That man is my hero. RESPECT.

[Brett]

You swapped spit with everyone I know

It feels so good to be back in action, doing comic stuff. I mentioned that stupid slump I was in, right? I went into detail about it over on the Other Sleep blog shortly before I got chapter 3 online and...oh crap, I never announced that over here, did I?

That's right! A week or two before I went to HeroesCon I put chapter 3 online! GO READ IT NOW. Or um, wait until you're done reading this post, at least?

Ahem. Anyways. Yes, I was in a slump, and the trip to HeroesCon really helped to pull me out of it, inspire me, and get me back on my feet and making comics for YOUR enjoyment. I confess that chapter 4 of Other Sleep is going to be late, BUT I've got other things coming down the pipeline! For instance, I am PRINTING chapter 1 of Other Sleep for Rob-Con! I'm polishing things off and figuring out what to do for the back 4 pages, inside cover, and back cover, but I'll be putting the order out for it soon. And oh hey, what's this?


GASP! Is that what I think it is? YES. It's the logo for Burst Reach 2, which I've been slaving away at all this week! I'll be getting it finished up and printed this weekend, then I'll be bringing them with me to Rob-Con next month on the 21st! I'll be doing it the same way I did the first one last year, printing it myself, getting copies made, and folding and stapling them myself. Had I mentioned that I purchased a long reach stapler one night earlier this year on a night that I couldn't sleep? Well, I did.

Yes, I'm taking two different approaches in getting two different books printed and put together. Other Sleep is a full-color comic, and it's my real professional effort, so going through a professional printer to get it right is easily the best option. On the other hand, Burst Reach is a lo-fi minicomic anthology that's MEANT to be cheap and handmade like a punk zine or those pamphlets that crazy street preachers occasionally hand out.

(quick aside: I was once handed a Bible on campus at ETSU, and in exchange I gave the guy a copy of Burst Reach. Fair trade?)

Another reason I'm making Burst Reach 2 in that fashion is influence from my friend Sterlin, whose Pizza Flag Books you should be familiar with if you've been on this site for a while. Last week before I left for Heroes, a Nashville all-girl punk band called Heavy Cream put on a free show downtown, which was put together by Sterlin. It made me happy to see when I got there that he had a table set up selling copies not only of his own Museum For Dead Clowns zine, but Eye Alive vol. 1 (I FINALLY GOT A COPY), a NEW zine of his own called Irony & Whine, and a zine by another friend called Tune Out. I greedily snatched these up. He's also been selling copies of Burst Reach for me. It's just...man, zines are just the coolest things ever, you know?

OH. And I did this poster for that very show:
 It makes me happy knowing that they sold out there. Sterlin did a pretty sweet poster too, which also sold out.

Um...now I forgot what I was talking about? Yeah, Burst Reach is my punk comix zine thing, while Other Sleep is a little more high-quality. But I still love both and I'm putting all I've got into them.

And have no fears, that Distinguished Gentlemen/Exciting Tales! collection is progressing as well! And I'll be doing a cover for Eye Alive vol. 2 for Sterlin and contributing to the guts of the book too. I don't think I'll be doing a new comic this go around, but I still want to do something cool...You'll see.

Aaaaannnnnd I think that's it for now. BACK TO MAKING COMICS.

[Brett]

Southern Fried Batman

So HeroesCon was this weekend, and I teamed up with a couple of friends and went down to Charlotte for three days of comics and crowds and other fun stuff.

Things worked out so damn conveniently for us. I had originally wanted a hotel downtown, close to the convention center, but we opted instead for a significantly cheaper LaQuinta Inn by the airport. Friday and Saturday, we were shuttled for free from the hotel to the lightrail station and rode the train straight to the con. Maybe it wasn't much quicker, but it was certainly cheaper and more interesting, especially the guy who drove us back to the hotel from the station talking about extra terrestrial intelligence and stuff.

I got. So much. Stuff. And I met so many artists whose work I've enjoyed over the years. I'm not even sure where to begin, man.

Out of my rather large list of people I wanted to see, Geof Darrow was absolutely one of the top five. He was the first person I looked for on the show floor after a quick stop by Becky Cloonan's table, which I had just happened to notice while on the way. I bought a Godzilla print from him, got my copy of Hard Boiled signed, and talked to him about Bojangles, KFC, and the weird orgy that was taking place at the beginning of the comic. The next day, he did a panel with Don Rosa, and I asked him about any future plans for the Shaolin Cowboy. Awesomely, there's an old-school pulp magazine called the Shaolin Cowboy Adventures that'll be coming out this year! YES! He also kept rambling about some weird Japanese manga about an island of vampires that make people piss themselves and stuff. I love that man to death.

The two coolest artists I met over the weekend were Michel Fiffe and Paul Maybury. Both of these guys were a part of the LiveJournal comics group Act-I-Vate years ago, which I was a pretty big fan of. Funny thing was, it wasn't until I saw them there and started talking to them that I realized how big of a part that group and their work played in my comics sensibilities. Both of them were incredibly nice, and I bought more from them than I did from any of the other guys.

I also met James Harren, whose recent work on BPRD and Abe Sapien has been mind-blowingly awesome. I freaked out looking through the original pages of the Long Death, and when I told him I wished I had brought one of his books to sign, he generously pulled out a Mignola variant issue of BPRD, signed it, and handed it to me for free.

Other folks I met: Becky Cloonan, Ben Templesmith, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman, Ryan Bodenheim, Mike Mignola himself, Bill Sienkiewicz, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox, Robbi Rodriguez, and probably some other guys I've embarrassingly forgotten. I gave most of them copies of Burst Reach too. I was afraid that some of them would turn me down or just shove it aside, but quite a number of them seemed really gracious and interested in what I was doing.

Meeting these artists, giving them my own book, and looking at their own work and seeing what all they've accomplished was so amazing and invigorating. These past few weeks I've been in this stupid slump, so down on my own work and struggling to maintain some kind of motivation to continue working on Other Sleep, and this con was absolutely the kick in the ass that I needed. Now I'm just absolutely pumped to start working on more stuff.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS:
The panel with Dustin Harbin and Scott Campbell was incredible. Only 5 or 6 people showed up for it, so we all sat right up front, making for a rather "intimate" panel that was a blast. It was absolutely the best panel I attended that weekend.

Our hotel was dog-friendly, and Saturday night there were a number of the beasts and their lazy owners hanging around the pool, which was kind of weird. The hot tub wasn't terribly hot or even remotely bubbly, so all in all it was a little surreal and a little mundane. Still, can't complain too much, we paid just over 50 bucks each between the three of us for two nights there.

Stan Lee was there, and I caught a little glimpse of him from a distance. I think Trey and David got some blurry, distant photos of him. He wasn't looking too great, but apparently at his Sunday panel he actually RAN up to the stage and can still really work a crowd, so maybe he was just...conserving his energy?

I saw wayyyyyy too many Harley Quinns, Deadpools, and guys in Captain America shield shirts. The cosplay all around wasn't much to be amazed at. I got molested by a Tusken Raider at the 501st booth immediately after walking into the con on Friday, and kept stumbling upon a pretty amazing Silk Spectre. I think Dr. McNinja was there Saturday, which was badass, and he was walking around with Axe Cop too! I also bumped into a guy carrying Tom Servo around, and kicked myself for not getting a picture. There were two large t-shirt booths set up, and they seemed to be getting a lot of business, but the only shirts I bought were from Michel Fiffe (the one pictured above) and Paul Maybury.

We saw some TV show in the hotel room with Betty White and a bunch of other elderly folks called Off Their Rockers. It was a prank show that was...honestly kind of awesome, but pretty terrible at the same time.

Hm. I think that's it. I'm still really sore and tired from all the damn walking we did, so I'm gonna go relax and go through the insane number of comics I bought, yeah? I definitely plan on going next year, and might even try to get a table for myself. I just don't know if I can stand up to some of the awesome talent there...

...Oh crap, I gotta prepare for next month's Rob-Con!

[Brett]