Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Summer Podcast Catch-up Project

Summers always give me extra time to listen to podcasts, as I have fewer of those pesky classes to worry about. Some years, I have embarked upon "re-listen" projects, working my way through classic shows like Axed or Super Future Friends. But this year, I realized that a number of new (and a few not so new) podcasts were out there that I hadn't ever listened, as well as few that I was woefully behind on. So I embarked upon a "Podcast Catch-up Project," getting myself caught up shows, old and new. Here were some:

Waiting for Doom -- This show has been around more than a year, but it took me a while to start listening. And over the summer, I got caught up. Paul and Mike do a great job talking about the adventures of the world's most unusual heroes. 

Doctor Who Dark Journey -- this is an audio drama podcast, telling an exciting story of the final incarnation of The Doctor, along with his companion Sherlock Holmes. We spoke with the writer/producer and lead actor of the series on a recent episode of the Book Guys Podcast

PXPPXP -- This show has a great concept. A group of friends look at important comic book stories (including the debuts of Wonder Woman, Robin & Ultron), acting out the action, page by page and panel by panel. 

Masters of Carpentry -- Noel Thingvall and Alexander Adrock (along with the occasional guest) are working their way through John Carpenter's filmogrpahy, with additional episodes covering related work in comic books. 

Radio Free GOP -- Longtime Republican campaign strategist Mark Murphy spends an hour each week surveying the latest news and updates from the campaign trail. From his fervently anti-Trump perspective, he tends to interview other members of the old-guard GOP establishment, preparing for 2020.

Diana Prince, Wonder Woman -- I'll be honest, this one wasn't that hard. It was only three episodes, less than 90 minutes total, but listening to Diabolu Frank talk about the Amazon Princess for any amount of time is always interesting. 

The Riverdale Podcast -- Archie super-fan Jonathan Merrifield has been doing this show for about 4 years, although I have only been listening since the start of 2016. But most shows are only 30-40 minutes, so catching up was a task I was able to accomplish. And as soon as I got caught up, Jonathan announced that he was bringing the podcast to a close. As of this post, there is only one episode left to be released. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

This Week in Reading

Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, COMPLETED.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 175 – 197.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 512 – 559.

Archie 75: Archie
Book of Angels
Captain Marvel Adventures 4, 8, & 16
Gotham Central 11 – 18
MoonCop Free Comic Book Day 2016
True Tales of Roller Derby; Doppelganger at the Hangar

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My Favorite Kind of Comics (and Books)

As I say regularly on The Quarter-Bin Podcast, my favorite kind of comic books ... are cheap comic books. And the cheapest kinds of books ... are free comic books. And I've recently found some good (and legal) sources for free comics.

Digital Comics Museum. This is a site that contains thousands of public-domain digital comics from the 1940s and 1950s, from a wide range of publishers. The variety of comics available for download range from war comics to westerns to science fiction to costumed heroes. The best-known character with many comics at DCM is Captain Marvel (Shazam!).

Your Public Library. Don't forget that many public libraries have surprisingly good inventories of graphic novels and trade paperback collections. If they use the Dewey Decimal system, they may be filed in 741, although many libraries have dedicated graphic novels sections.

Hoopla. This is another option for reading things for free, although the details and availability do vary from person to person, or situation to situation. Hoopla is a “borrowing” service for books, audiobooks, TV & movies, music, and comic books that runs through public libraries. So if you have a library card, and your library system is subscribed to Hoopla, you can use the service. The library system that I'm a part of allows the borrowing 15 items in the course of a month, each for a 21-day period. Those details differ greatly from system to system. Because of Marvel Unlimited, there are very few (if any) Marvel books available, but there are a good number of DC and independents books on the system.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Podcast Guest Appearances

Over the course of the last month or so, I was able to appear as a guest on some great podcasts, hosted by a couple of great podcasters. There are a few more in the planning process, but here are two that recently came out.

On episode 43 of the Secret Origins podcast, host Ryan Daly had me on to talk about the world-famous, international superstar comic book character Chris KL-99. Oh, sorry, I mean the incredibly obscure that very few people have ever heard of, Chris KL-99. Whatever.
I was also invited to join Chad Bokelman on the second episode of his new podcast that covers the Action Comics Weekly comic book. Because this series of comic books began at issue 601, this second episode is presented as episode 602.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

This Week in Reading

Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins, COMPLETED. Review here.
Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, pages 1 - 102.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 148 - 175.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 469 - 512.

DOOM 2099 8 - 10
Firehair 8
Green Arrow 5
Lois Lane 2
Perhapanauts Annual 1
Secret Origins 45
Wonder Woman 4
World of Warcraft: Legion 1 - 4 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Review of Ask Not

Book 29. Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins. Unabridged audio.

A direct follow-up to the Collins novel Target Lancer (reviewed here), this one finds Chicago PI Nate Heller drawn into the investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination. And as he finds out, looking into the president’s death can be a risky proposition for one’s own safety.

Despite the grand scale of the crime being investigated, Collins manages to keep the smaller-scale feel of a traditional PI novel. Nate Heller’s skill as an investigator provides the driving force for the novel. This helps keep the story grounded, despite its outrageous premise.

There is a very nice mix of history and fiction in this novel. There are enough recognizable conspiracy moments in the book to make the conclusions appear reasonable – in this world, Kennedy was assassinated by a group of Kennedy enemies that included the mob, elements in the CIA, and Lyndon Johnson. In the last chapter, Louisiana DA Jim Garrison appears, and the Oliver Stone movie “JFK” is mentioned in the novel’s final pages, implying that the film was on the right track in its thesis.

In addition to his skill at portraying the world of the private investigator, Collins captures very well the essence of 1964. Both Beatlemania and the growing Vietnam War are happening in the background of the novel, adding a nice sense of realism to the novel.

I have enjoyed these two Max Allan Collins novels, and I look forward to diving deeper into his long bibliography. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

This Week in Reading

Ask Not, by Max Allan Collins, pages 1 – 102.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 114 – 148.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 419 – 469.

Airboy Comics, volume 4, issues 5, 6, & 7; volume 5, issues 2, 3, 4, & 7
Criminal 10th Anniversary Special
DC Bombshells 16
Green Arrow 4
Legionnaires 3 & 4
Pep 372
Strangers in Paradise (volume 3) 2 & 12
Superman & Team Luthor 1

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Podcast Guest Appearances

Over the course of this summer, I was able to as a guest on some terrific podcasts, hosted by a couple of terrific podcasters. There are a few more to be recorded and released in the near future, but here are two that recently came out.

On episode243 of Michael Bailey's Views From the Longbox podcast, Emily and I joined Michael to talk about the graphic novel Kingdom Come, to celebrate the books 20th anniversary. We talked about the characters, the story, and the art. This was the first part of a podcast crossover, as Michael joined us on episode 7 of Dorkness to Light to talk about the religious themes and biblical imagery that are contained in the story.

I was also invited to join Chad Bokelman on the first episode of his new podcast that covers the Action Comics Weekly comic book, published in 1988. I was on to talk about the story featuring the WWII hero Blackhawk, struggling to make a life for himself in the post-war world.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Review of The Return of Tarzan

Book 28. The Return of Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This is the second novel of the Tarzan series, and I was hesitant to tackle it without first having read Tarzan of the Apes. But I assumed that between movies, comic books, and general pop culture osmosis, I could jump right into the second novel.

And I was able to catch up very quickly. The novel starts with Tarzan separated from Jane Porter, despite them being in love with each other. He begins this novel feeling rootless, having sacrificing his prospects of marrying Jane. He leaves America for Europe, and on the ship runs into a range of characters, including the Russian Nikolas Rokoff. Tarzan breaks up Rokoff’s efforts at shipboard crime, earning the man’s ire.

Rokoff dogs Tarzan in his adventures across Europe and Africa, but the King of the Apes eventually defeats the Russian once and for all. The story also details Jane’s emotional and physical traumas during this time. The novel ends with a pair of weddings, and Tarzan coming fully into his identity as Lord Greystoke. He has also become the King of a tribe in Africa, with access to huge stockpiles of gold. It is safe to say that this is a very happy ending.

There are easy comparisons to be made between Burrough’s storyline for Tarzan and his storyline for John Carter. Both are adventure stories with an underlying love story. With the Carter novels, I found that the books became repetitive once Carter and Dejah Thoris married. I hope that Burroughs did not fall into the same trap with this series.

But there is no reason to worry about future novels at this point. This was a fun adventurous romp of a novel, with a deeply satisfying emotional core.

Source: The Classic Tales Podcast. Narrator BJ Harison does a terrific job handling the various characters and accents, as well as creating an interesting and effective “Tarzan cry.”

Saturday, August 6, 2016

This Week in Reading

Foreign Affairs, by Stuart Woods, COMPLETED. Review here.
The Return of Tarzan, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, pages 1 – 175.
Strength for the Journey, by Diana Butler Bass, pages 85 – 114.
Dragon Token, by Melanie Rawn, pages 368 – 419.

Airboy Comics #3-5, #4-2, #4-3
Amalgam Books: All-New All-Different X-Patrol, Amazon, Spider-Boy
Namor the Sub-Mariner 30, 42
Saint Sinner 1 – 7
Wonder Woman 3
X-Factor 95
X-Force 25