Monday, November 04, 2013

Holy crap! I have blogged since 2012! Well, I'm still around. I'm still, although very slowly, drawing & creating The Necropolis Chronicles. My problem is that I have a lot of hobbies. I do fantasy baseball and fantasy football. If I am not careful I can easily spend over 45 minutes agonizing over player moves and who should play and who should sit. I also run Pathfinder every other Sunday. Pathfinder is Dungeons & Dragons. Pathfinder uses the open game license of D&D 3.5 to use the D&D rules but they've created their own rule books and such. Anyways, it can gobble up a lot of time. Then I also draw and write my super-hero comic. So when I create comics I kinda of bounce between the two drawing a couple of pages for one and then dropping the other for a few weeks.

I can say that I've recently gone to a new shift at my job. I am no longer working nights. Add in the fact that we have split days off it ended up I never had a full day off working nights. Now I work late morning to early evening and I feel more alive even though I still stay up pretty late at night.

So Jania is not dead. I have not given up on the comic. Drunkduck was down last time I checked although that was some time ago. For those interested in following my art it can always be found here:
The tough part is that the pages for comics are not easily read there as the comics just sit in a folder instead of a nice little page turner like Drunkduck.

If people were following The Necropolis Chronicles there should be some new pages to the comic there not on Drunkduck. There might be the occasional spoiler for the comic as I sometimes post pages in progress.

Things are going well for me. This year has been my best year in quiet some time highlighted by seeing my favorite singer in concert for the first time in 25 years. Robert Plant, former lead singer of Led Zeppelin, my all-time favorite music group, still kicks ass! And then I saw Nine Inch Nails a month after Plant and they were awesome as well. So lots of good things all around for me!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Dragon Con 2012

For me, I had to do a slightly truncated DragonCon as opposed to previous years due to my new job and no vacation time. So I arrived late morning in Atlanta on Friday and made my way to registration. For those who have gone before but didn't make it this year, pre-reg was fast as shit! And this is a huge and welcome change. I use to purposely not pre-register because the line to get your stuff would literally wrap out of and around the hotel and the wait would sometimes be hours. This year, I think I got my badge in under ten minutes from the time I walked into the per-registration room.

Friday was spent getting organized like tickets for gaming and finding my hotel. I ended the night playing D&D. The gaming part of the con brackets five hour 'slots' in order to finish. While this is welcome from the previous 4 hours which sometimes wasn't enough, playing 3 games of Pathfinder (D&D) racked up 15 hours of time from one day.

I opted for a semi-early bed time of a little after 1am. I needed to take the local rail transport to my hotel each day and the schedule said they stopped running at 1am. I came pretty close to missing my train on Saturday night due to a late running game.

Saturday was mostly checking out panels, the lunch with board members and then another 5 hour slot of D&D from 7pm to 12:30am which I had to walk out of before finishing to make my train. I tried to do some makeshift bare bones marketing. I carried my self-published comic book, The Necropolis Chronicles around making sure the cover was easily viewable. While waiting in the subway a person came up to me and asked about it. I gave my spiel but unfortunately didn't think to have any business cards or extra copies - I traveled to DragonCon with just a backpack and a small piece of luggage smaller than a large purse. Later, I found out the person that asked about my comic was Aaron who sat with us for the luncheon. Small world. 

Saturday started with the parade. It was fun but boy did my feet, knees and back hurt at the end. Guess I'm getting old if just standing on a sidewalk gives me pain. The sidewalk was 3 to 5 people deep the whole route of the parade. This asshole woman around the middle of the parade just outright shoved her way through to the front and then sat in the street along with all the young kids that were already there. Because this person came up from behind I never saw her and I was just barely able to keep my balance which was a good thing because I almost toppled into the baby carriage occupied by an infant. If I had fallen on to that baby and hurt her because of that woman I would've been sorely pressed not to belt her right across the fucking face. I was PISSED! There was a woman beside me and she had been shoved by this same woman as well and we just shook our heads at this asshole after we recovered.

There was only 8 of us this year for the lunch which was a bit of a downer because previous years the group numbered well into the double digits. It was me, Don C, Charles RB, andmore known from CBR: The Watcher, Perry Holley and his wife, Greg, a fellow in a wheelchair who's name I forgot and Aaron who's CBR name I'm forgetting. The place we chose was so jammed up with people the only way they could fit us was to slip us into two tables and then those tables were far apart so we couldn't even interact with the other table. But I really enjoyed sitting with Don C, Greg and the wheelchair fellow. I didn't see Aaron before he left otherwise I would've given him the copies of my comic.

The luncheon ended kind of in the middle of no man's land as far as DragonCon scheduling went. I hit a rather crappy panel that I walked out on and did my tour of the art show and dealer's room. There are two levels of dealer's room. The upper one I could move around in but the lower one was so packed I was taking steps in two or three inches and even then I was getting hit with backpacks or other people rubbing up against me. Not the way I want to look at stuff. I didn't buy anything which in part was due to my limited carrying capacity.

I caught some of the Ghosthunters show (SyFy) panel and learned that Steve Gonsalves, one of the main investigators, is from the next town over from my hometown and still lives in my area - like the next town over. Kinda cool.

The Walking Dead show panel was fun. It had from the show: Glen, Sophia, Carl, Jim, and Hershel's blonde daughter who on the show almost committed suicide. Glen did most of the talking and he seemed like a pretty funny guy. Carl was pretty quite and didn't really say much. Sophia was pretty quiet until a question was asked of her. Jim made a few funny comments here and there. And the blond girl talked a lot when she had to answer a question. The questions were kind of out there with some generic stuff like which scene was the actor's favorite. Better questions were what would they cos-play at the con if they had time. And then there was a whole what store would you raid first between Sophia (Costco) and Carl (Wal-mart). Costco was chosen as the winner. That panel had a couple of hundred attendees because I had to walk past all the early arrivals and got stuck in the last quarter of the fans.

Sunday ended up being Pathfinder (Dungeons & Dragons) the whole day. And I loved it. Every table was fun from experienced players to newbies. 

Monday I only made one panel due to my flight leaving. But that panel was fun if not all over the place. It was Hackers 301. Run in part by a computer professor from Georgia Tech, a well respected university, the professor got down to how easy it is to steal a user's credentials like log in name and password. He mentioned that is one of the worst/weakest security sites on the internet and even a half-assed hacker can steal people's credentials. The professor was no fan of Facebook but the conversation changed before details were stated.

Also during this panel I was taught what 'Bronies' were. They are men in their 30s that watch the new My Little Pony cartoon. That then branched into that there was an actual bronies con. Worst, the bronies got mad because women attended the con! This led into sexual harassment of women at cons for about 20 minutes before getting back to computer stuff. But then I had to leave the panel and the con to make my flight home.

So the con had some up's and down's but overall was a great experience and I am very thankful that I was bale to attend and have a lot of fun. Money well spent for me.

That's the overview of my experience. Here's some other random stuff or further notes on stuff above.

Lots of sexy costumes there on lovely ladies. But, I'm pretty sure I could tell which women wore high heels often and which did it more for their costumes/cosplay only. Since the con is spread over 5 hotels there is lots of walking and two of the hotels are blocks away from the main three. I was walking along and this young couple, high schoolers I presume, were walking really slow. They were driving me nuts because I tend to walk fast. Then I noticed they were holding hands. I think it was to keep the girl upright in her high heels. She had on three inch stilettos and just watching her walk was painful. When she took a step it looked as if her ankle would bend almost 70 degrees outwards both ankles every step. It looked like she was some sort of contortionist. I felt bad for her but at the same time I was cringing. I saw another girl girl doing a cosplay from Battlestar Galatica the more recent series. She was the cylon who is known for her red dress and pumps. The cosplayed was quite attractive. But I noticed band-aids sticking up out of her pumps so she must've had blisters. Atlanta also had a long escalator from the subway to the surface. I'm talking like a 30 second ride , one hundred or more steps if you used the stairs long. Then you round a corner and have another escalator about a third of the length of the previous one. I see a cosplay of Poison Ivy in front of me. Posion Ivy is a DC comics Batman villain and is quite common at cons because girls sexy up the costume often with heels. So this Poison Ivy starts up the stairs foregoing the escalator which is fairly jammed up with people. Well if she can do that while wearing heels, I tell myself, I can use the stairs as well. We get most of the way up and she trips nearly face-planting on to the concrete stairs. On occasion while walking from hotel  to hotel I would see cos-players suffering from their heels. 4 or 5 inch heels are fairly common at this con and you can easy see some of the women hobbling around in obvious pain from their shoes. But they do look terrific so I appreciate the suffering for fashion made by these women.

I must have some sort of aura that I radiate. Where I go, random strangers ask me questions, most often for help in locating something. This DragonCon, I think 4 if not 5 random strangers engaged me in conversion most with a question. The last was a middle-aged/border line elderly couple that stopped me in teh subway to ask for directions. I helped everyone out including this couple as well. Since they caught me as I was heading to the airport, I gave them my map that I had printed out of the downtown area including several labelled hotels. Not really generous of me since I had no further use of it but hopefully it helped them out. The elderly man had also stopped another young guy as well and that guy offered to help show them the way. I hope the couple made it okay to their destination.

I played a shit load of D&D/Pathfinder at the con. I was extremely happy to get my character from 2nd level all the way up to fourth by the end of the con. That took 5 separate scenarios each broken into a 5 hour gaming slot. So that chewed up a lot of my time. But I really enjoyed it and got to add some role-playing dimension to my sexy librarian gnome wizard. The group of newbie players at the last slot may have been the most fun because they were mostly concerned with just having fun. They were pretty young, pretty sure they were all high schooler's and maybe just juniors at that. They made me feel old though because I mentioned that when I started D&D came in a blue boxed set and red boxed set. Then one of them pointed out that they had also learned from those sets as it was in their dad's stuff. Oy!

But with gaming, and a table of gamers tends to be five or six people, there can be a fucktard on occasion. The first game I played was fun but we had a fucktard at the table. This was a guy that would constantly interrupt the DM, then not pay attention when it wasn't his turn and then act like when someting bad happened he had no idea what was going on. Well, I guess the kid really didn't because he wasn't paying attention. Further, this kid made it sound like everything he did we were all experiencing for the first time and like it was some sort of game changer he had come up with. But it didn't stop there. He would then shake his dice for literally 5 to 10 seconds before rolling. It got to the point towards the end of the game where us other players started saying 'just roll!'. And when he did roll, it had to be on the battle map and right into the middle of where all the figures where set up thus risking knocking everything over. God I hate players like that. To each their own towards what people like but I just don't like the 'fuzzies'. The fuzzies are people that go to cons and dress in part like fuzzy 'cute' versions of animals or human/animal hybrids.For me, I just hate that shit. And this guy had on little white bear ears and a poofy all white skunk tail attached around his waist. But then he was in all black including cheap ass, thick, fake leather wristbands. So I just didn't like this guy through and through. Thankfully, that was the only game I had deal with him although I did see him hear and there other days.

The final game with the newbies was fun but the DM did and on a couple of occasions, what I consider a cardinal sin in gaming. The DM, or Dungeon Master, is the story teller and guides the players through the adventure. They are the narrator and the equivalent of a voice over in a movie that tells the watcher/viewer what's going on. But in my opinion, no DM should ever, EVER tell a player character what that player character is doing. I've had DMs place big nasty creatures teleport right next to my character and tell me my character 'shit's themselves'. Uh, fuck no. And while I had a lot of fun with the newbie table, the DM one more than one occasion told the players how my character reacted while pretty much ignoring me. I like to give my characters faults and I also like to give out bits of role-playing that will purposely make my character look bad in order to have some fun at the table. My gnome wizard Mythica, for example, is afraid of water. Pretty much, she's terrified of it and while climb up on to the back of the tallest party member to avoid it. So as a group where came across some water and I started playing this up. I don't recall the details but I failed at a skill check or something and seeing how I had played my character the DM then proceeded to tell the other players 'this is what she (Mythica) does' and the DM starts role-playing my character and doing stuff I wouldn't really have my character do. It was nothing serious, nothing overly bad happened to my character, but again, it really pisses me off when someone starts telling me how my characters reacts to something.

So this is getting or feels to be getting pretty long. I had a fantastic time at DragonCon and I'm already planning to go next year which will be maybe my 6th time going.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


This phrase has been sticking in a craw for awhile now. And I think my problem with it is that the speaker of the phrase is taking such ownership of whatever is connected to it that nothing else compares to the element being discussed and the extent of that comparison is apparent miles away from anything else.

I'm going to cut right to the chase. I've seen it written by feminists that I can never know what rape is and the feelings with it. Obviously, rape is a horrible thing. I'm saying that rape for a woman has some serious and scary situations which is pregnancy and the stigma that goes along with being a victim as well such as 'she asked for it'. So, to me, rape is more complicated for a woman than a man.

I have a fear of going to prison. I'm not the biggest guy in the world, far from it. I have no tattoos or piercings. I have a full head of hair and I tend to be regarded as cute. From what I've seen of documentaries on National Geographic and other networks I would be a prime target as I would fit the description of potentially looking feminine at least in a prison setting. Another prisoner might very well visit me for sexual activity. Since I am not homosexual or bi-sexual, I could be in some serious trouble. I could potentially be targeted for a sexual assault. Another man could very well target me, or someone like me, for anal intercourse. For me, it wouldn't be a voluntary act on my part. I would be sexually assaulted and likely with penetration. Isn't that the definition of rape? It's pretty much what I've always understood it to be.

So using my definition of rape, guys can be raped. And it has it's own bag of trauma to go with it. Generally, society says a man should be able to defend himself. The guy defends the woman against trouble. When he is unable to defend himself and he is defiled unwillingly by another man it can reek havoc on him mentally.

So yeah, I get kind of mad when a feminist tells me I can never know what rape is. So here's my list: fear of being attacked, fear of being over-powered, fear of being sexually penetrated against my will, and fear of dealing with the mental trauma after the event. I'm not trying to make little of the stigma women face of being made a victim twice over by people that don't support them after such a horrible event or if they end up pregnant. I don't even want to think about having to deal with such an event. But in my opinion, yeah, I feel men can know what rape is.

More on the "NEVER KNOW' phrase that bugs me is that I can never know because I'm: white, male, Christian, and from a at least a middle class background. And again, it pisses me off because it takes any and all experiences I've had and at the very least, dilutes them if not outright nullifies them.

I can never know what it is like to be a black person. Okay, I can buy into that I don't have it as rough as minorities. I have certain things readily available to me that others don't when it comes to society but I don't try to exploit them. And they do happen even though I'm not even aware of it. Something as simple as my name. There are studies that show that a name can be a big part of just having your resume reviewed. My name is James. It's not Jaymes. It's not J'ames, It's not Jamez or some other spelling to make me stand out and be different from the hundreds of thousands other people named James. What I have experienced is walking down the street minding my own business when three black men, all physically larger than me, waited until I passed by and then threw, luckily, what was only an egg at me. But I knew when I turned and looked at them they were giggling and waiting for me to say something. My every fiber said they were looking for a further excuse to come kick my ass. Then there was the Latina woman standing across from me as I was a kid signing up for my driver's permit. She spoke in Spanish and then very clearly in English finished with 'white trash'. No provocation from my part at all. But I did have shoulder length hair at the time and wore a hoodie with 6 or more stitched on Led Zeppelin patches.

So, have I not felt at least prejudice if not outright racism? I've always understood that to be racist, and I think Spike Lee said this, one person has to be 'in power' essentially, socially and economically. So by that definition I can never experience racism. My definition of racism is that you hate someone because of their skin color or heritage and pretty much do something about it. I'm actually not sure where my own line of racism as opposed to prejudice really ends.

I worked at a Toys R Us for a decade which was located in the third biggest city of my state. The vast majority of security issues, that I was at least aware of, involved minorities. Afro-Americans being more predominant over Latinos. Do I now get to say to other people 'you can never know what it is like to be a white person that has to deal with a black person'? Do I get to say as a white person another can never know the fear of being targeted for a robbery because it is possible I have more material wealth than a minority. Of course not, it's stupid.

In the end, I guess it all boils down to where each of us set our boundaries. When asked, my mom said giving birth was like taking a big shit out the wrong hole. I've taken some big shits that hurt like hell coming out. Does that allow me to relate at least on some level to giving birth? My own boundaries say yeah. My own boundaries say that if I'm bullied, talked down to, assaulted, what have you, that yeah, on some level I can relate to what I would consider being similar such as being called a cunt. Maybe not fully but at least on some level. But we all have our own sensibilities and boundaries.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How can killing 12 goblins be so entertaining?

Last Sunday was the first meting for my Pathfinder campaign. For those that don't know, Pathfinder is Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition. It's 95% or more the same as D&D. The reason I went with a Pathfinder campaign is that I'm sick of buying new editions of D&D where it feels the rules are changed so the company can make a buck. It doesn't seem like Pathfinder is looking to change it's core rules which I am happy about.

The group ended up with a dwarven cleric, a human fighter, a half-elf paladin, a monk, a ninja, and I believe another fighter type. All characters started at first level.

My Pathfinder world is pretty liberal. If a player wants to play a specific class, they can. I let any and all gods into my campaign. I also have a fairly generic city as a stage. It's on a river with some hills across from it. Diamonds and precious metals from the hills drive the economy. There is a decent sized forest below the city. Farm land to the north of the city and about 20 miles to the north is a dimensional rift that came into being about 10 years ago. From this rift have come many creatures and threats that have plagued the city.

Seeing how almost everybody was new to Pathfinder and I had played more 4th edition of D&D lately the first night was make characters and run a small fight to ease into Pathfinder. We had a blast. The was a simple set up: the player characters happened to all be in a tavern when some farmers entered and pronounced that they needed adventurer-types to seek out and stop a marauding group of goblins harassing the farmers. The characters all signed up and thus the group was born.

Some of the game developed 'on the fly' as the PC's first made a camp and then investigated some nearby woods were the goblins were suspected to be. Sure enough, the PC's found some tracks and set up and ambush. Due to real world time limits and also wanting to get the action going the goblins came down the path later that night.

And thus, dice and imagination took over and the fight began. The dwarf cleric made no attempt to hide and waited in the middle of the trail. The ninja and another hid in trees. Two of the fighter types hid in fox holes. Each side spotted one another and the fight was on! So, how could this have been so much fun? Seeing PC's try to communicate without alerting the goblins, the goblins hurling insults at the PC's making the death of the goblins that much more meaningful, and a ninja leaping out of trees plunging his weapon through the chest of his victim. The cleric hit with two confirmed crits splattering his teammates with massive amounts of goblin blood. And for comic relief, a goblin acting all big and bad slipped in some bat guano leaving himself open to be attacked and annihilated.

In the end, the excitement of just playing again, hanging with good people and brand new friends, along with crazy ideas and zany actions made killing 12 lowly goblins a very enjoyable event.

The campaign will attempt to meet every other weekend because Sunday nights are sometimes tough to make happen on a weekly basis. We'll see how it goes but the first night of adventuring turned out to be a blast with much swearing, killing and the quoting of movies and much fun was had by all.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So,... it seems at least once a month I see or hear about a blogger or an article, usually by women by sometimes by men pointing out just how bad comic books and worse, fans of comics are or can be to women. And they are correct. But what surprises me is just how many people speak about it. Some examples in comics for people that may not know is pretty much just how women are drawn. They are drawn as objectified sex objects most of the time: giant boobs, tiny waists, nice facial features. I read or did read Marvel comics quite a bit and I can't recall a fat or even a plain looking female character. Guys get off easier, most are heroic but some are ugly or not male model types. Wolverine I would suggest is a prime example. So it's not a level playing field.

I consider myself first and foremost a gamer. To me, a gamer is a person that plays games. I tend to have more credence to those that play role-playing games or specialized board games or even Magic the Gathering. To me, a gamer is more someone I would see at a gaming convention. I have lots of friends that play XBox or Playstation that pretty much laugh off Dungeons & Dragons or Magic the Gathering. So, to me, those folks aren't quite the definition of gamer in my opinion.

By my definition, many gamers are also comic book fans. My friends use to own a comic book store and we would regularly see the comic book/gamers as opposed to just a comic reader. All in all, both segments were some of the nicest people I have ever met. But like anything else, the are dickheads and dirtbags as well.

Here's how this relates to comic book conventions and other such things. Again, the vast majority of comic book readers that I have meet are nice people. But even nice people do stupid things. And sexual harassment is a very valid concern. The rules of conduct as I understand them at a comic book con are pretty simple: treat people, all people with respect. Do not touch anybody without their consent. Do not make lewd suggestions to anybody. I would think that should pretty much cover it but I might be missing something that's just escaping me at the moment.

But there is reality. Guys do stupid things around women. Their brains can go right out the window. For a long time and in some places I would gather that it is still the normal that comic book guys are geeks, nerds, socially inept, don't know how to react around girls, and many other social shortcomings. The Big Bang Theory in part plays this for big laughs. In a repeat episode I recently watched Penny calls Howard creepy and essentially socially inept. The live crowd actually goes pretty quiet as the Penny character dresses down  Howard and Howard leaves the scene clearly dejected. Penny refuses to back off telling the rest of the gang that it is the truth. Later, she is goaded into apologizing which she does. Howard takes it to heart and tries to kiss Penny and she belts him in the nose. I found it pretty funny. It's funny because it's safe. You like the characters and know that Penny has the power to stop Howard who once again has over-stepped his bounds. But if this scene played out in real life, I wonder how many people would really be laughing.

So yes, I am defending guys here. I am defending the loutish behavior towards women but I want to clarify which guys I'm defending. I'm not defending the guy that's a jerk. I'm not defending the guy that's going to treat women as lesser beings no matter where the social event is happening. I want to be clear that I am defending the nerd. That guy that has been picked on his whole life, that guy that is weird because as a young adult he still reads comic books and plays Dungeons & Dragons, that guy that doesn't catch the eye of the woman he longs for because he's fat or scrawny and probably has no chance at getting a hot girl because he has under-developed social skills, the guy that has little to no interaction with the female species.

I'm saying every stereo-type has some truth to it. Is it a big surprise when a woman, any woman but especially someone that is attractive, dressed in costume at a con get harassed? Zero tolerance would be a wonderful thing but it doesn't happen.

A woman can have a powerful effect on a man. Even something as simple as a smile can cause problems. To a lonely guy, a socially inept guy, or a guy desperate for acceptance, especially from a female, a simple smile can be grossly mistook as an invitation for more interaction or even the facade of the girl having real interest in nerd. Then the guy blows it by telling his life story in the 10 seconds he has to impress the girl before she walks off to the next attending fans who would like a picture of her excellently crafted costume.

The women are not the problem. The costumes are not the problem. But a guy lacking in social skills can misinterpret and make himself believe there is something there when a total stranger is merely showing kindness to a fellow human being. That's the power a woman can have over a man. 

I attend a convention called DragonCon. It's huge: takes up 4 hotels, has upwards of 70,000 or more people packed into said hotels and tons and tons of people in great costumes of all sorts. Statistically, something bad is bound to happen. There's so many people, lots of attractive people and many wear costumes. They do not ask for harassment, the costume they are wearing does not equal consent of anything, but shit happens. There are going to be horror stories. 

Like it or not, I think we can all agree that comic books are a male dominated field. I believe I heard something startling like DC Comics has something like 3% of its creative workforce being female. Think about that. The presence of women creators in the second biggest comic book company in the U.S. is virtually non-existent. I've heard computer gaming companies as an industry are pretty much the same. Is there any wonder why there is a problem? 

So that's my rant. There are always going to be douche bags that treat women like crap. They are in every facet of life including comics. But I'm also saying there are guys that make bad choices because this is the only venue where their fantasies might, well - not really in all likelihood, but might come true. And they lose sight of the proper path to get there.   

Thursday, July 05, 2012

So,... why in the hell would I identify with a female comic book character while growing up???

I went to middle school and high school in the early and mid 1980's graduating in 1988 at the tender age of 17. Through an older brother's friend I was introduced to the Marvel Super-Hero Role-Playing game which eventually led me into reading comics. I had had some old comics from my even younger days but never collected anything. I can remember buying two comics to start of with - Green Lantern and West Coast Avengers limited series.
I went with Green lantern because he was awesome in the old Super Friends Saturday morning cartoons. It was actually titled something else but it was the cartoon where the good guys fought The Legion of Doom every week. When I read through the comic John Stewart had just recently replaced Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. I dropped Green Lantern pretty fast because it wasn't the guy I knew and just had no interest in this new guy.
I bought West Coast Avengers, I think it was issue 3 of a 4 issue limited series, because it had Iron Man. I knew Iron Man from previous comics. I'm blanking at the moment if Iron Man was Tony Stark or Jim Rhodes at the time of the comic. I didn't know at the time but I ended up favoring the Marvel Comics universe over DC which is Batman & Superman. The next time I was able to buy some comics I ended up with Marvel comics.
Back in the day I bought comics from a spinner rack at the local mall from Walden's book, a now defunct bookstore chain like Barnes & Noble. I can remember seeing this cover of a woman in flames and another woman in a swimsuit and thigh high boots opposing a third woman in corset and boots. I was intrigued and kinda turned on. Hey, I was around 14, maybe, possibly younger. I think I was a freshman in high school or 8th grade. The book was Uncanny X-Men back when there was just one X-Men book a month. The swimsuit/thigh high boots girl was Rachel Summers, daughter of Jean Grey and Scott Summers, Phoenix and Cyclops of the X-Men. Little did I know by that one glance at that cover that Rachel would become my all-time favorite comic book character.

So I bought that X-Men comic and because the rack would often have an issue or two of the previous months I bought those as well. I was well on my way to becoming an X-Men junkie. And boy, did I end up loving the X-Men. They were totally awesome.  :)

So here was this character, Rachel Summers, later Rachel Grey but I pretty much dislike what her creator later did to the character...

Anyways, Rachel was pretty cool. She was surrounded by the likes of Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler. But Rachel's voice resonated with me. She was from an alternate future - it is comic books after all - and her parents didn't know who she was because they weren't married and had no children in this universe. She was new to the X-Men and an outsider even though they loved her in her own universe where they were all aunts and uncles to her. In this new universe Rachel was persecuted and mis-trusted as she tried to make the world a better place and prevent the disaster that destroyed her own world.

I really bought into that. My family was always loving but in my own little head and being the youngest of 5 my views didn't carry much weight. I was always the tag along as well. I was usually skinny and not the best at sports so I was picker on at school by dickheads and those that felt they could overpower me. But I always wanted to add to the world more than I took away from it.

So that's how I ended up relating, at least in my own skewered view, to Rachel's character and she became my favorite. It also helped that she ended up being a hothead ready to use her formidable powers to punish and even kill when necessary. That appealed to me because I couldn't do that in my own world.

Another event was that she got the red 'Hound' costume. Fortunately, the man who ended up becoming my all-time favorite artist, Alan Davis, handed the art chores. Rachel grew from a skinny red-head into a great looking red head wearing spikes and stilettos. The costume, when drawn, either looks rather stupid, or really freaking cool. Davis made it awesome, others, not so much.

Later on, Chris Claremont, X-Men writer for over a decade was tossed off the books only to later return. He ended up using Rachel again after a long hiatus for the character. To my chagrin he dumped almost every positive aspect of the character and made her the rookie of the team and often fairly lame including turning her into a human dinosaur. Ugh. This is when Rachel dumped the Summers last name and adopted Grey. Boo, hiss. And since all this disaster the character has been a minor character in the X-Men lore since. At least she's gotten a bit better more recently.

So Rachel, in her heyday, will always remain my favorite character. She was the character that was mistrusted, misunderstood, was a bit of an outsider even in her own family, and persecuted even when trying to make the world a better and safer place. I related to that at an early age and it's stuck with me ever since.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Suckless REM sleep

I need to fire my R.E.M. sleep neurons. So I had a great: got a hotel for DragonCon 2012 (my favorite sci-fi/comics/you name it con), registered for it as well and investigated flights. I could've bought my ticket but I wanted to consult with my brother who does a lot of traveling on some details first. Even work was decent. Also payday. And the way I work my monthly budgeting I got to keep this whole paycheck for myself.

So I got home, checked on my fantasy baseball team which currently sucks and went to bed. Read some pages of The Walking Dead Vol 2 on my color Nook and went to sleep.

So I remember parts of a dreams I was having. All had me in my home town. I was in a parking lot bear 9 Mile Pond (a local pond for me) when rough storms hit. I was in the parking lot with a lot of other people just hanging around. I was somehow making roses out of metal by seemingly cutting a chunk of metal with a pruning knife. The rain began fierce and I wondered about tornadoes. Looked over the sky and saw about 5 forming funnel clouds. One formed into a tornado right above me. Crazily, the tip was so small I grabbed it with my hand and bent it all about like some crazy straw or something. Eventually the rain stopped but trees started falling knocking out the power. I decided to walk home at this point.

I may have woken up here but I'm not sure. At any point, the dream continued. I can often do this if I wake up - I go back to sleep and sort of start a new dream where the other ended or was cut short.

So I was walking up Mountain Road towards the house I grew up in. Between the two entrances to Bartlett Ave I saw a black bear. It charged me. I ran like hell and then spotted three cubs. Great. So this bear and I were dodging and chasing and I tried to use a fence to get away but it climbed it faster than me. It caught me a couple of times and tossed me around. I knew I should've been dead because it was biting me around the head and neck but I had no wounds. In my dream I remember saying "I should be hurt'. Then I looked at my right hand and my palm was all bloody and cut. I ran like hell.

I ran until I was exhausted and having asthma trouble so I had to stop. The damn bear came into view. I ran towards a house with a long driveway that was about 100 yards off the road. I saw two dudes around the front door. I bolted into the house warning about the bear. These guys were lovers. They had a neat house. It was huge on the inside. Rooms had cathedral ceilings that were like 15 feet high. The house was old and like a castle. The coloring was mute, grays and browns and furnished but every room had enough open space in the middle to allow large ballroom like dancing.

All sorts of stuff started showing up like giraffes, animals, even a modern militia but comprised of old men. The black bear was distracted and I was safe. I went back to the front door to continue to walk to the house I grew up in. As I reached the door a huge brown bear stuck it's head into view and started chasing me. I was running all over the house and climbing shelving on the walls to escape. Somewhere along here I said in my dream to wake myself up. It was a struggle as I was being chased but I woke up.

I'm still drawing The Necropolis Chronicles comic. More webcomic these days. I'm in the process of a 48 page story. At the same time I'm writing a super-hero story involving the heroes being bodyswapped into a group of schoolmate losers. So it's about a ton of things including peoples' tolerance of others, the have and have not's of being good looking, being an outsider and the like. At the moment I've been drawing that a bit more than The NC.

I've also been busy as all hell this month. Sundays are always gobbled up with seeing people and being social. But I'm moving my financial investments from one firm to another. I've met with my new finance guy around 4 times this month already. I also did my taxes finally, after an extension was filed. And I have a job interview next week. I also got a potential good lead on a job from my cousin. Took me awhile but I made sure to see Marvel's The Avengers as well. So lots of travelling and being about for this otherwise homebody.