Afterburner

Tales of the Cool and The Wicked

Explore the limits of Science Fiction Noir and Femmes Fatales with publisher, Robert Stewart. Featuring the high octane graphic novel...AFTERBURNER

Flying Colors Mini-Indie Con 2017

Yes, I draw comics. I've always drawn comics, everybody knows that. The fascination with art and the sequential narrative has been a life long driving force to all things forged in four color. If there is a local nexus to those tales of the impossible, then it has to be Flying Colors Comics. Over the years collectors, myself included, have visited Flying Colors in search of vintage comics and also to be introduced to the latest new hotness of pop culture.  Join me this Saturday for the Flying Colors Mini-Indie Con, a showcase of some of the Bay Area's creative talent. Admission is free.  Here's some more info on the event.

Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff presents the third annual "FlyCo Mini Indie-Con" a showcase of local independent comic book artists and writers on Saturday August 26 from 11AM-4PM at 2980 Treat Boulevard in Concord.

Featured guests are:
• Daniel Brereton, award-winning artist/writer of Nocturnals: Sinister Path and Giantkiller (set on Mount Diablo!)
• Ben Ferrari, artist, writer and publisher of Clayton's Pilot Studios
• Robert Stewart of Concord (Afterburner Comics)
• Matt Harding, Contra Costa resident and creator of Pop Apocalypse and publisher of Not Forgotten: The Best Anthology of Public Domain Super-Heroes
• Sarah Leuver, Bay Area based cartoonist/creator of A.K.A.
All attending artists will have their work available for purchase at the event.

 

Wonder Woman

Popcorn...check. Milk Duds...check. Plucky female companion...check.

Lucy Lawless should be very proud. Way back in 1995  Lawless' television series Xenia: Warrior Princess proved that a female protagonist could establish a strong market share in the action adventure genre.  Fast forward to 2017 and Gal Gadot has echoed that success as an adventure heroine. Did I have my doubts about Gadot's ability to rock the magic lasso of truth? Absolutely. Mainly, because my only exposure to Gadot was from  her screen time in the Fast and Furious franchise. The Gadot of FF didn't seem to have the range of gravitas or physicality needed to embody the Amazon from Themyscria.  Those initial reservations were put to rest by Gadot in last year's Batman v Superman. In fact, I felt her presence in Batman v Superman made for the most intriguing  moments in the film. She displayed the screen presence of an ambassador of peace who had personal experience in the murkiness of war. She also proved she could achieve an action physique of Frank Zane quality aesthetics and classic proportions.   Overall, I was primed for great things from Gadot's solo outing and in that regard Wonder Woman did not disappoint.  The film takes it's time with a metered cadence that has some of it's best moments during Diana of Themyscria's childhood. As a person of high melanin content, I was very happy to see the diversity of the women inhabiting Paradise Island. Subsequently, I also felt that Themysicra was were the director exhibited the best application of lighting and cinematography skills. Themysicra rose beyond it's fictional Paradise Island setting and actually seemed more real than the later seen set dressing of London.  Perhaps, the neo classical inspired design structure of Themyscira held more of a familiarity because it was so reminiscent what we've be conditioned to expect to see.  

I enjoyed Chris Pine in the role of Steve Trevor. It would be nice if Pine could channel a bit of his Trevor mannerisms while in his day job of James Kirk. Hey, I'm just saying; Pine's Kirk is a jerk that nobody would follow into battle...but I digress. It was also a treat, pardon the pun, to see the delightful appearance of Etta Candy once Diana reaches London.  Woo woo, it was admittedly a little campy to watch Etta introduce Diana to 1918 era haute couture but I did find myself laughing along with the gag.  After that the film takes a somber turn as the idealistic Diana encounters the politics and utter senselessness of war. She is helped along the way by Steve Trevor and a ragamuffin crew of not so Howling Commandos. Again, I really liked the diversity of Diana's crew however,  having the Native American throwing smoke signals was not cool.  

Did I enjoy the movie? Hell yeah. Would I recommend it to a non comics fan? Yes, but mostly because the strength of the early Paradise Island scenes. The first 30 minutes or so of the film were strongest and easiest to relate to. This is because Diana's childhood on Themyscira had many universal themes as defined in The Hero's Journey. Plus, the beautiful location shots almost served as a character embodiment. Paradise Island seemed to breathe life.  I will add that all the action scenes were on point!  First of all, those Amazons got rowdy as mofo. Secondly,  Wonder Woman  was apt to put a fool in check with absolutely  zero hesitation. Ultimately, that portrayal of Wonder Woman as someone who stands up and speaks truth to power  when there is foolery going down is the film's high point. Director, Patty Jenkins, had an excellent handle of that defining aspect of Wonder Woman's character and the emphasis elevated this film.

CLAPTON, HENDRIX AND THE NEW GODS

Most folks these days know Eric Clapton as the grey-haired guy who sings old blues tunes. Granted, paying tribute to the tome of the blues ain't a bad vocation. Truth be told, I've been known to saddle up to a Deluxe Reverb amp and a Shure SM58 a few times myself.  While I admit my lexicon of riffology is spectacular only by the lack of any redeeming qualities. There was a time when Clapton wore a different face. In the late 1960's Eric Clapton was more than King, he was hailed a God.  It was no false title and Clapton earned the designation, even though he was uncomfortable with it. First with John Mayall and the BluesBreakers and then in the power trio of The Cream. Clapton reigned the stage, wielding sonic pontification through the power of a 100 watt Marshall stack and a sunburst 1959 Les Paul. He absolutely blazed on tracks like White Room, Steppin' Out  and Crossroads. Cream was the big leagues and Clapton was a true heavy hitter. Make no mistake, Eric Clapton was, and still is, a top gun. He is the embodiment of a world class musician. "Clapton is God" was the mantra of rock fans of the time. That phrase was shouted at concerts, published in print and sprayed in graffiti on the streets of London. That all changed one night in 1967 when God was staggered and shaken by a devastating purple haze. There,  on a cramped stage in London, a guitarist named Jimi Hendrix joined a jam session with Eric Clapton. The Seattle native was basically an unknown at the time and this was his first trip to the UK. Who is this guy, the crowd wondered. Then Hendrix unleashed an acrobatic display of fretboard dexterity that opened a reality bending warp in the continuum of sound. The crowd went saucer-eyed, transfixed...who the hell is that?  What the hell is that? Hendrix wasn't just bringing them music, he showed them a future of incandescent mermaids and Jovian methane seas. At some point during that sonic prophecy God walked off the stage in defeat.  Clapton's words from the sidelines? "You didn't tell me he was that good".  Try to understand...this level of total air supremacy was without precedence at the time. Hendrix was a game changer, he represented an evolutionary shift in lyrical phrasing and song writing.  Ultimately, Hendrix is what you would get if you injected a scrawny musician with Captain America's super solider serum.

 I will talk about my favorite Hendrix album Electric Ladyland soon but for now consider this. Clapton was considered by many as the penultimate rock guitarist of his era. Trust me, he rightfully earned that praise. Then Hendrix came along and while he and Clapton shared common musical influences, Hendrix took that shit to a level not of this world. For example, both men had an appreciation of old guard bluesmen like HowlinWolf, Muddy Waters and T-Bone Walker. Not surprisingly, they both utilized the pentatonic scale as the foundation of many solos. In other words, they incorporated elements of the old guard into their new interpretations of the blues.

We see this action of incorporating the old into the new in many forms. Contemplate how comics creator Jack Kirby formulated his Fourth World series. The New Gods of the Fourth World were crafted from the heated kiln of Kirby's Asgardian work at Marvel. His departure to DC Comics in 1970 was a extinction level Ragnarok that forged the old Norse Gods into the New Gods of the Fourth World.  Orion and High Father of the New Gods were transcendent of Thor and Odin. In truth, the New Gods should have superseded the Norse Pantheon. However, from the standpoint of pop culture the Fourth World is relatively unknown.  Is it because of better marketing from Marvel? More engaging stories from the Marvel bullpen? No, I think it's because the comic book incarnations of the Norse Gods has the advantage of a millennia of associated history with oral and written tradition. Thor in the comic books is a departure from the red haired  god of traditional Norse mythology. Yet, the comic and movie version of the thunder god retains enough of the DNA of the source material to allow neophyte viewers a clear path of reference to the familiar mythology. Likewise, it is my opinion that Hendrix in addition to all of his flash, song writing talent and bombastic skill ultimately had the ability to express a more clear conduit to the familiar source material than Clapton. Am I downgrading Clapton's importance in rock or his immense talent? Hell no! Clapton is a true heavyweight. Just his work on the Beano album is a testament to his power. My point is that a key component  of surpassing the old gods is the ability to effectively assimilate the raw ideal of the familiar past and to use that ideal as a gateway into the transcendental.   Don't believe me? That's cool, but get hip to this. Many of the pagan practices of ancient times were meticulously woven into the core foundations of our current systems of social norms. The myth of Mita, The Lupercali and ancient sky worship sects are so fully integrated into our daily lives that we no longer notice them. But that does not mean we aren't affected by their legacy. I'm looking at you, Halloween.  Likewise, Hendrix created a tapestry of sex, love and exploration of the soul drawn from a primal pool of synchronicity. He had the ability to relay information directly from the source wall in a language that the masses could relate to and expound upon.  Oh, and the New Gods of the Fourth World? Well, DC recently replaced them with the Fifth World Gods.

Batman V Superman

I'm just back from an early screening of Batman v Superman. Don't worry I'll won't dish out any spoilers but I will get to the point and say that I enjoyed the film. Like many fans of the sequential page, I had my doubts about the movie. The fact that early reviews by critics were unfavorable didn't help the matter. Still, I decided to take one for the team and check things out for myself. For months the debate if Ben Affleck was a good choice for Batman. Well, rest assured Affleck does a fine job as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. Likewise, Henry Cavill has learned to emote since his last stoic outing as Clark Kent. The breakout showing for me was Gal Gadot in the role of Wonder Woman.  My first exposure to Gadot was through  the Fast and Furious franchise.  To honest I was less than impressed with her in the FF role and I was surprised when she was announced for the role of Dr. William Marston's star spangled Amazon.   Now, I won't say that I was wrong...because that's defeatist talk! However,  I will admit a strong probability that I may have initially misjudged Ms. Gadot. Also, someone apparently  tossed the normally svelte  Gadot  a stash of old Muscle Fitness magazines and a can of Joe Weider Crash Weight Gain #7.  Like the skinny kid in the old Charles Atlas advertisements Gadot has up-armored her whole kit. She packed on just enough muscle to channel the Greek warrior without veering into the land of gamma radiated bulge. Gadot is believable in the role and I look forward to seeing more her as a part of the DC trinity. In contrast to Gadot's conservative increase of mass Affleck's Batman is a true heavyweight. This ain't  the lean, young maverick of the Nolan trilogy. Affleck's Batman is a steamrolling side of beef. Years of crime fighting a forged a shrouded bruiser who pounds his way through crime. Both his fighting style and his driving technique are from the John Madden school of smash mouth.  And yes, this Batman uses guns, get over it. Matter of fact he uses whatever tools are at hand to bash and pummel his way through a fight. Affleck's Batman is blunt instrument,  a symphony of thoom and I like it.  The rest of the cast is excellent and it was great how they each addressed their interpretation of the Superman mythos.  At 2hr and 33mins the film does run a bit long but I found it to be time well spent.