Monthly Archives: October 2011

Review: Dresden Files (Graphic Novels)


When I heard back in 2008 or so that my favorite book series, The Dresden Files, was also going to be published in comic format, I fangirled all over the place. I picked up Storm Front halfway through my junior year of high school, caught up in a year, and then potty-danced everywhere waiting for the next book in the series.

I look exactly like this.

I actually missed the date that the first issue of the first new story, “Welcome to the Jungle”, was released, and actually walked into the comic store shortly after the realease of the second issue. The fantastic Pete Kilmer (I think that’s his name), though, of Downtown Comics in Castleton, IN, told me that while they were sold out of the first issue, someone had reserved a copy, had never come to pick it up, and was unreachable, so he would just go ahead and sell it to me.

I almost peed myself in excitement right there in his store. Which would have been humiliating, because I’m pretty sure I spent the majority of that summer chilling in that store, when my job wasn’t killing me.

There were a few different covers of issue one of “Welcome to the Jungle.” This one is my favorite:

That art’s by Chris McGrath, who does the art for the novels. In general, pretty fantastic. I would have been more than happy if the entire comic had been illustrated like that – maturely, and well. However, when the individual issues of the comic were published, the covers looked closer to this:

That’s one of the covers, although not the one that I ended up with. Still very well done. While this is not the cover of the first issue of “Welcome to the Jungle”, the art style on the cover I have is pretty much in the exact style seen here:

This is still very well done. While still a lot more cartoony than McGrath’s interpretation, and a bit more cartoony than what fits with my own personal tastes, it’s still an art style that I can see working. The way Harry’s drawn – chiefly, his face – does not exactly fit with what I’ve always seen in my head while reading the books, but it’s still closer than Paul Blackthorne, who played Harry in the one-season-wonder of the sci-fi television show.*

The front cover of the comic, however, is probably the highlight of the comic.

Here’s a look at the character sketches of our main characters:

Yes, one of the main characters is a gorilla.

There’s a lot of copy-paste going on in the art, and everyone looks like a grouchy, pouty-faced cartoon character. I hate it when my comic book characters look like cartoons. Lieutenant Murphy ooks like… well, a man – what happened to the small, cute, cheereleader-looking gal we’re all expecting? Why does Harry Dresden look so stereotypically heroic? Why is one of the main characters a gorilla? Why does he have the same expression on his face as Lt. Murphy?

The story in “Welcome to the Jungle” isn’t bad, per se, but it doesn’t feel like Dresden Files. It feels like Butcher was trying to write a Saturday morning cartoon that would appear somewhere between Spiderman and The Adventures of Jackie Chan. It feels childish and, honestly, is not nearly as engaging as any of the actual novels, or many graphic novels that I’ve read. I’ve read short stories by Butcher before, mostly just in the Side Jobs book, but even the first Dresden story he wrote, “Faith”, is loads better than “Welcome to the Jungle.”

As far as the art style goes, I thought it was lazy. I’d seen problems in the Anita Blake series, published under the same label, but I thought maybe Butcher would have had the foresight to make sure those same problems didn’t happen. Clearly it didn’t. I mean, just look how disappointing this is, considering how rich and vibrant the Dresden-verse really is:

A lot of people will likely disagree with me, but honestly, between the art and the story (and that’s a big deal for me to say, because I absolutely love Jim Butcher), “Welcome to the Jungle” was a disappointment. I’ve seen him do better, and this is just… this is a children’s book, with a few adult themes.

So far they’ve finished running Storm Front and are partway, if not all of the way, through Fool Moon by now, but honestly, the only reason I would conitnue buying the comics is if I loved the art, and obviously I don’t. I’m not even sure if I would actually publish the new stories that are put together, outside of the stories we’ve already experienced in the novels. Everything would have to improve drasitically. Butcher deserves better than what he got out of the Dabel Brothers** label and Ardian Syaf.

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* I will say this – while I did actually like the tv show, it was not the same Dresden Files that I’d been in love with for so long. Given more time, it probably could have flourished into something better, but if we’re going to do something on film then they need to be full-length movies, based on the books, with budgets and that sort of thing.

** After some research, I’m not much more impressed with Dabel Brothers than I was five minutes ago. I remember, when buying Welcome to the Jungle, Pete telling me that Dabel Brothers’ contract with Marvel had been terminated because they had an issue with doing things on time. In fact, this seems to be a trend with them: they’ve been taken to court or had their clients’ terminate contracts because they can’t seem to stay on the ball. Jim, get out while you can.

 

Doctor Who: Back to the Beginning


NOTE: This post may contain spoilers about season 6. I’ll not reveal anything about the season 6 finale, and I’ll try not to throw out TOO much about the preceding episodes, but fair warning: anything before “The Wedding of River Song” is fair game.

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I’ve decided that, when I die, I want to start glowing like a radioactive school of jellyfish and then become this woman:

River Song

I have a few gal-friends who cannot stand River Song, but I personally get stupid excited whenever I hear that, “Hello, sweetie.” Nearly every episode that she’s been in has been fantastic. “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” were, in my opinion, the best episodes of season 4. “Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone” are possibly my favorite episodes of season 5, and the two-part premiere of season 6 was a diamond in the rough that was the rest of the season. An old not-really-my-friend-anymore-for-lots-of-unrelated-reasons wrote a riduculously long essay about how Steven Moffat clearly hates all women because River Song and pregnancy tests. While she points out some inconsistencies in his writing, I think she’s making mountains out of imaginary mole hills. Her argument less makes Moffat sound like a misogynist and more makes her look like a misandrist.

There is some weirdness along the River Song thing, but mostly it’s just trying to wrap my brain around her relationship to Amy and Rory. I understand it, I don’t really feel like it’s creepy or anything, I just feel like I’m back in my freshman acting class, watching two people act out a skit and the thirty-year-old woman is playing the twelve-year-old daughter of the thirty-year-old character, who is played by a nineteen-year-old girl. Everyone’s uncomfortable and the suspension of disbelief just isn’t kicking in.

Now with that bitter bitchfest out of the way…

Techno Jesus and I watched the last episode of season six the other night (“The Wedding of River Song”), and while I enjoyed the episode, I didn’t think it had the same oomph as “Big Bang.” It was a bit too frenetic, and tried to slide a lot of things past us and just hoped we would be too distracted by “OMG RIVER SONG’S GETTING MARRIED” to notice. Granted, it made WAY more sense than “The Stolent Earth” and “Journey’s End”, but I was crying at the end of “Big Bang” and I just didn’t get that reaction from “Wedding.” (Although the last three lines of “Wedding” were haunting, and I thought that bit was very well done.) There are people who disagree with me, who say that “Wedding” was much better than “Big Bang”, so clearly some of it just comes down to personal preference.

With two months and some change between us and the Christmas special, Techno Jesus and I have decided to go alllll the way back to the beginning and watch Doctor Who from its very start. Which means, yes, we’re now hanging around with this guy:

HmmmMMMMMM???!

Okay, yes, but I mean… well, not what I meant. I meant this guy:

The Last of the Grouch Lords

That’s the 1st Doctor, played by William Hartnell. And he’s nothing like you’d expect.

He’s grouchy, but three times worse than Christopher Eccleston. He’s brutal, but with less provocation or incentive than David Tennant. And there’s no comparison to our darling 11th Doctor. He spends the better half of “An Unearthly Child” sounding like he’s possibly considering killing off Ian and Barbara to protect the secret of the TARDIS, despite the fact that these two people are schoolteachers who were just concerned about Susan, the Doctor’s granddaughter. Later, he’s willing to leave Za (the caveman up above), brutally mauled by a wildcat, to die – because he can’t be bothered to help him. The only thing that stops him from buggering off completely is that Ian, Barbara, and Susan all know the meaning of friendship.

Yugioh Abridged is kind of amazing.
Tonight I think we’re moving on to the episode where we meet the Daleks. I’m hoping it will be far more interesting than 100 minutes of two humans, a whiney fifteen-year-old, a clan of cave men, and the grumpiest Time Lord in the universe arguing about making fire. While I don’t dislike the show, I defnitely dislike the character of the 1st Doctor.

Who’s your Doctor?

Top 10 Tuesday: Poetry


In my Contemporary Lit for Writers class, we just finished up our unit on poetry. Historically, I am not a fan of poetry. I dabbled in writing it in high school, but so did every post-pubescent would-be writer who wasn’t homeschooled. Let me tell you, I wrote some godawful poetry, most of which involved me being head-over-heels in love with my (gay) best friend and the fact “nobody understands meeeeeeeeeeee.”

The Best Amarican PTHHHBBBBI more or less suffered through the poems we were required to read for class, and while it was nice to add another book to my list of books I’ve read this year on Goodreads, mostly it took every ounce of my self-discpline to get through a lot of this stuff.

It’s not that I don’t like poetry, although it seems as if state curriculum has done its absolute best to ruin the best poems for students, mostly by forcing them to try and digest poetry faster than a White Castle burger passes through the system, or by trying to make them see things in between the lines that simply are not there.*

College has been slightly easier on my appreciation of poetry, but mostly because, in a class of forty-five students, it’s much easier to zone out and ignore the over-analyzation of some other human being’s (supposedly) carefully craft lines.

Today’s top ten list is my favorites poems and/or poets (in no particular order).

1. Ezra Pound

Imagist poetry has always been kinda my thing. I’m not going to sit here and analyze the shit – I’ll sit around for a while and try to figure out what’s going on in the poem, but deriving meaning is not going to happen right there – it’ll happen while I’m digesting the poetry. One of my favorites by Pound is very brief, but still:

“In a Station of the Metro”

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

2. “This Poem Had Better be about The World We Actually Live In” David Clewell

This was actually one of the poems that we read from our textbook (above) for class. Although Clewell makes use of metaphor and imagery like nobody’s business, it’s still, well, relevant. I wrote my poetry annotation paper on this poem, and it wasn’t nearly as painful as it could have been.

3. Sylvia Plath

Despite the heavy amount of angst and depression this woman was more or less drowning in, the violence and emotion behind her verses have always struck me in a very particular way.

I do actually take her poetry seriously, although even I can’t help but give in to the occasional jibe about her death, however tragic it was. Here’s an exchange between me and my other writerly, craft, nerdy gal-friend, Shana (@nerdella on Twitter):

Me: It seems that in order to get any writing done, I have to clean ALL the things and make sure everything is neat and put away. Otherwise I just get depressed.

Shana: Don’t clean the oven.

 4. “The Capybara” Sandra Beasley

This is another one of the poems from the aforementioned poetry textbook. It was the only one that made me laugh, although upon subsequent readings I realized that there was a nice duality to the text. As far as pure entertainment value goes, it won all the things, but then, if you chose to look at it almost as a parable, there was a relevant message. I very much encourage everyone to pick up this poem, for either of the two interpretations.

5. Edgar Allan Poe

While not much of a fan of the painfully long “The Raven”, Poe has always been one of my favorite writers, both in terms of his short stories and his poetry. One of the things I greatly admire about him was his unwillingness to shy away from the macabre or the risque; rather, he tackles these things head-on, despite modern society’s take on such subject matter – or the act of writing about such subject matter. “Annabelle Lee” screams necrophilia, although they’ll never tell you so in junior high.

His biopic would star Daniel Craig, probably.6. e. e. cummings

I think that if I’ve ever modeled my poetry on any poet’s particular style, it would have to be Cummings’s. It reads so simply, but so beautifully, and I’ve never felt weighed down by tedium the way I do with most other poetry. “i carry your heart with me” is especially good.

Cummings proves what I’ve always felt about poetry: you don’t have to be drowning in it for it to actually mean something. While his poems are certainly moving and meaningful, I don’t feel like I’m slogging through words, dragging for the last line.

7. “The Day the Saucers Came” Neil Gaiman

It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Neil Gaiman. I’m still hoping that he is secretly my long-lost uncle and that one day we’ll run into each other and discover this fact and go get ice cream and talk about all sorts of nerdy, geeky things.

His poem “The Day the Saucers Came”, which you can read here, is just plain fun, and unexpectedly poignant. You can feel the joy in Gaiman’s writing, no matter the subject or the form: the man loves to write, and you can tell by the way he does it. If I model my poetry on e. e. cummings, then I model my urban fantasy on Gaiman.

8. The Odyssey, Homer

Even though I was forced to translate this from its original Latin in high school, The Odyssey is still near and dear to my heart. Probably Odysseus is the biggest jerk on the face of the planet, and if you really think about it he does a lot of things that he for which he probably deserves to be punched in the jaw, but even after all this, it’s just fun.

9. The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri

 Another oldie but a goodie. It takes a while to slog through – I would actually suggest watching a movie version (and, better yet, the version on Netflix that has the paper puppets or whatever). The archaic vocabulary and writing style make it difficult to see, but this poem really is flipping hilarious. Although the first part (Hell) is really the best part, it’s all worth reading, although maybe not all in one sitting.

10. Dollface and Her Cancer

I honestly have no idea what this girl’s actual name is. I’ve followed her on Fictionpress for years, and while I rarely, if ever, leave a comment on any of her work, I’ve always been particularly impressed by her work. Go check her out, and leave a comment or two on her work. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it. Of the more recent of her work, “September and Sinking” is a good read.

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* Also, seriously, DO NOT get me started over the time I accidentally signed up for a modern and post-modern lit class. I didn’t realize at the time that “modern” in the literary sense means literature published between the 1940s and the 1980-some-odds, and not literature published in the last decade or so. On the four-question essay test that was our final, I BS’d one question, scribbled all over the second, wrote, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do this” on the third, and on the fourth wrote three pages about why I thought everything we’d read that semester was crap.**

** I got an A.