shoebox_dw: (butterfly free and flying)
...I've caught up on all ten chapters of Ursula Vernon's Digger. Really, I need to stop discovering wonderful webcomics that've been running for years; compulsive archive-reading does not mesh well with the amount of sleep required for coping with fashion vendors. Especially the ones who change their retails on 1500+ units, and - whoopsie! - somehow forget to tell the ticket printers before shipping. There are days, in this job, when you seriously consider the 'Is everyone else crazy? Or is it just me?' dilemma. Long before noon.

Anyway, Digger. It is one of those media which naturally lends itself to listing off the goodies - Heroic wombats! Vampire vegetables! Oracular slugs! Metaphorical pigeons! Pirate shrews! - but as you can see, in this case we'd be here for a lot longer than it'd take you to just travel to page one and get hooked.
Because you will. Oh, yes, you will. This thing is almost hypnotically addictive, gorgeous art, literate wit and all. What I love most about it, though, is that every single one of the fantastic elements are so firmly grounded - even the Shadowchild. Vernon is not writing fantasy for the sake of it; nor is she being clever for the same reason. Her characters speak from solid convictions about interesting ideas; their damage - and a lot of it is severe - is nonetheless real, their varying degrees of strength in the face of it no more and no less than natural consequence.

****************************************

Meanwhile. This weekend. In a weird way reading Digger has given me some help with my own fiction-writing blockage...Thinking about starting, that's OK. Even fun. But actually starting...over the last year I've realised that the problem is that it'd mean going to a place of total honesty within. And that in turn means confronting some things that - I don't - really - want to. Mind, I'm not saying I have any baggage on the scale of Vernon's characters to deal with. I mean, pretty sure there are no shadows of malevolent goddesses on my brain, or anything.

Just...everybody has an Unknown, and mine and self don't really get along so well. So following Digger and company as they deal with theirs has been a treat in more ways than one. Perhaps that's part of what I want to write about - why my subconscious is so insistent I get on with this sci-fi story. It's a vivid reminder that considering reality does not make one mad, no matter how mad the reality may seem; that in fact confronting one's fears, doing something active about them - while it may or may not make things easier - is one hell of a lot better than just sitting around brooding. In a way, I've been just sitting around inside my head since I was a teenager, and it's high time I got out and explored a bit.

Right then, this is me, doing something. Sitting down and sketching out my ideas - since, as you may have noticed [/self-deprecating sarcasm] I'm one of those anal types that can't function unless I know where the story's going from the outset  - and then going back and editing the first few chapters a bit, and then posting them here. And then I have to go on, or I look like an idiot. A pretentious idiot, to boot. And being thought pretentious may be the only thing that bothers me more than being thought crazy.
shoebox_dw: (ratatouille remy caught)

Comment to this post and I will give you 5 subjects/things I associate you with. Then post this in your LJ and elaborate on the subjects given.

So the other day, charmed and curious, I commented to this post of  [livejournal.com profile] kalquessa 's...and...

Blogging in Shakespearean English, feminism in Watership Down, Pearls Before Swine, Philistine Pollyanna, detective fiction.


OK, self, the moral here? Try not to be so dang memorable next time. Or at least, try it re: favourite bands, or chocolates, or something.

Anyway, elaboration under the cut. )
shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)

For anyone who's wondering how the 'new-run' experiment - in which creator Lynn Johnston intersperses old strips with new ones in the old style - is working over on For Better or For Worse...

...well, you probably need to get back on your meds sooner than later, so I'll sum it up for you real quick: A week or so in, Johnston abruptly disconnected the letters page on her site in favour of one carefully handpicked question a week. You know, vital questions, like 'which character is your favourite to draw?' That sort of thing.

This has inspired me. This, and several weeks of watching Foob Reanimated stumble dazedly across my monitor.

Dear Lynn:

Why? Explain to me why I or anyone else with an even half-way plausible life should care about revisiting the Pattersons at this point?

You haven't added any distinctiveness, or even really any detail, and you sure as hell haven't provided any insight. All you've done is transmute the elements that were fresh and funny into dull-witted, plodding dross. It's as if Norman Lear, on revisiting All in the Family, decided that after all he'd rather it be more like Leave it to Beaver.

All the brave words in the world can't hide the fact that you're utterly bored with your creation. You have all the money anyone could want. So why are you doing this - why are you putting yourself through this - in lieu of curling up somewhere there are no drawing boards and licking your raw wounds in peace?

Yours quite seriously,

Shoe
shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)
--I couldn't let the grand (sort-of) finale go unsnarked, could I now? The below originated @ the [livejournal.com profile] binky_betsy  group:

Well, hey...at least April got away clean. Of course, in Lynn's mind she never really mattered much anyway, not being 'a real person', so why not?

John and Elly's last recorded communication to each other, after thirty years of being the featured characters in a real-time comic strip, is a generic cliche. Not, mind, the one in the title; that was covered yesterday, by a recently-introduced minor character who barely rates a mention in today's wrapup. How, uh, sweet. Or something.

Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)
--So the Settling of the Century is here, and it is indeed a dilly; rivalling in scope and pomp only the last doomed fairytale re-enactment within memory, that of of Charles and Diana Windsor.

So much so, that I'm rather inclined to give FBOFW creator Lynn Johnston the benefit of the doubt for once. On the off chance it all
isn't being delivered with what the ever-hopeful Bertie Wooster liked to call 'a twinkle in his eye', however...

Ugh.

Lynn, the whole ruddy point of your strip to begin with was that these are real people, real problems, real flaws. You know, the whole 'camera in my house' thing.

OK. So real people, sometimes they do nice things for people, sometimes they don't realise how much it meant until later. Fine. That much of this wedding debacle works. In fact, handled properly, it could be a really nice way to wrap up the strip. Had the Pattersons not devolved into Pattersaints, had the denouement involved a real crisis...well, it occurs to me I'm describing the plot of It's a Wonderful Life. Sappy, but it works.

Thing is, Lynn, this isn't a meaningful Life Situation; it's a wedding. Not a marriage, a wedding - and not even a tasteful one. Three weeks yet to go, and you've already managed to leave the distinct impression that every one of the realistic, down-to-earth human beings in your strip has been carefully aligned over decades in advance of a tacky lavender-and-teal monstrosity that's been stripped of any personalisation whatsoever. (Certainly Modern Bride magazine would've disowned it on sight.)

shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)
As I, ah, may have just mentioned in a previous post, comic strip For Better or For Worse and this formerly devoted fan have long since divorced due to irreconcilable differences. With the coming of the Settleocalypse, aka the engagement of Liz and Anthony, it has become difficult even to muster up much interest in the doings of characters whose lives are so determinedly irrelevant to mine.

Or for that matter anyone born after 1950...check that. Anyone who isn't Lynn Johnston, or who hasn't had the misfortune to get tangled up in her hell-or-high-water scramble for the Perfect Family She Never Had. Really, you can't blame one poor innocent decade for the mess this woman's psyche is in at the moment. Even if it did contain Queen For a Day.

Today, however, the temptation to mark what will surely go down in history as a milestone of Foob snark is too great to resist.
 
shoebox_dw: (toy story modern art)
Overheard at a crosswalk the other day, while waiting with a couple other women: "What's Iron Man about, anyway?" "I dunno...but it sounds sooooo cool!"

I submit to you, Gentle Readership, that the above is the classic definition of the perfect summer blockbuster.

This may be a case of preaching to the converted, since the film took in $100mil over this past weekend and I've only just downloaded the trailers, but on the off chance you're still pondering...yeah, this one'll live up to the hype. They got it right - and possibly only in the world of comic book movies is there so vast a gap between the simple statement and the execution thereof.

It helps that the story of Tony Stark is to begin with one of the most fun, and likely not coincidentally least angsty, sagas in the Marvel pantheon. The story is simple: billionaire playboy industrialist has an epiphany after an assault that leaves him with a dicky heart, stops making weapons and instead designs a reallyreally cool suit of armour that allows him to fly and shoot repulsor blasts and oh yeah, fight crime as....dun-dun-DUUUUUUNNNN...Iron Man! Yay!

Short version: It's Batman with less brooding and more...well, more honkin' cool red-and-gold flying armour, is basically what's going on here. Did I mention the repulsor blasts?

Seriously, once I saw the armour I knew everything was going to be OK. Actually, I had a strong suspicion long before that, when I first heard that Robert Downey Jr had been signed on as the lead. Want a handle on the movie, even shorter version? That would be it. Downey openly admits he begged for this role.
Besides, as a co-worker who's squarely in the favoured demographic pointed out to me this morning after seeing it last night, your Eric Banas and 'Jean-Luc Picards' are all very well, but to make a real movie, you need real actors. (Of course, she then spent the afternoon googling pictures of that same R. Downey, so make of that what you will.)

Everything's in place for a supremely rewarding comic book experience - and don't laugh at that until you've tried it. There's only a rare few media moguls out there who still understand that superheroes are one of mankind's most fundamental ways of rewarding ourselves.
shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)
I figure I'll shamelessly milk for all the column ideas I can give everybody a chance to respond to the meme below this weekend. Meanwhile, the big engagement announcement over on the comics pages has inspired the rant below. Apologies for the length; it's been coming on for awhile...

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today to witness the final nail being pounded into the coffin containing the remains of the once-beloved For Better or for Worse. The comic strip that once helped thousands, including yours truly, understand that there was real humor and pathos and sometimes even joy to be found in the hum and drum of daily life...until realization set in that it was the daily life itself the author was actually celebrating, not the release. Not the flight of imagination and adventure, but the comfort in suppressing it.

The whole thing becomes a rather sad testament to the pitfalls of artists allowing too much of themselves into their work. The occasional transcendent genius - or pathetic monster - aside, most of us really aren't all that interesting.Certainly FBoFW creator Lynn Johnston isn't, very much anyway. She might have been, had she had the vision and courage artistically to rise above what’s been an admittedly fairly tough real life. Her first husband was a dashing biker dude who left her alone with small children to raise; her second (the model for John Patterson, the strip's paterfamilias) just recently walked out after apparently carrying on behind her back for quite awhile. Her relationship with her grown children, the models for the fictional ditto, is strained at best.

So it's possible to be sympathetic to her clear desire to find safety and security for her creations, probably more so than if she’d decided to pull a Funky Winkerbean and have them all become bitter recluses who read the obituaries for fun. On the other hand…for awhile there things just looked really promising, y'know?
Read more... )
shoebox_dw: (holly hare)
Public-service announcement: I'm still feeling a little badly over that Kalan Porter gag from last week - not the others, so much; it's hard to envision anything that could get me worked up over for instance JayDee. Were they to invent a Preppy Minivan-Riding Idol Winner repellent spray, I'd keep an impressive stock in the hall closet at all times, believe you me.

Kalan, on the other hand...well, Hurray is still on the iPod rotation, lo these many weeks later. My attitude toward music is much the same as toward books; the ones that find a perfectly matching slot in my psyche, they're the only ones I keep. So I guess I still do care...just enough to wonder whether what might be, already has been or not.

*******************************************************

In other news: I never did find that good book. Although LaVyrle Spencer will do quite nicely for brain candy, thanks, and That Camden Summer edges up to the point where I muse about it being retold by someone who could do the characters real justice.

Still, though...if there's anything we have around here, it's standards. 'Up with edification', this is our motto at Shoe Central; primarily because we have spent the past month's Net time immersed in the results of laxity in this vital area. To wit: the decision by Marvel Comics to divorce Spider-Man.
shoebox_dw: (pbs happiness fairy)
--I'm spending the next little while's worth of writing hours getting my novel project back on track. Over the next week, I'm going to (re)post the first few completed chapters; by which point I should be well and truly onto new material. Until then...here's another selection from the Greatest Hits vault.

Funny thing, this anthropomophization craze we humans have going.

Here we sit, masters of a vast and bewildering ecosystem, strange and beautiful and wholly alien to our experience in any meaningful way...well, perhaps it isn't so odd that our basic coping mechanism is 'Stick that bear into a pair of overalls and give him a hoe!'

It starts early, with childhood daydreams like Little Bear and Franklin; then we move on to fairy tales, then the fables of Aesop and LaFontaine. In all of which we learn about human frailties from a safe and not incidentally cute'n'cuddly distance.
We want the world to make sense - or at least, we want to reassure ourselves that it isn't going to eat us. We want to know that for all its apparent complications, life is all going to work out in the end. And in the animal kingdom, it does, because we literally have the last word.

Apparently, though, we've got no problem at all with the notion that it might be laughing at us behind our backs the whole time...

shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)

--I haven't been completely idle, writing-wise, over the past year. For instance, I wrote the opening chapters of an actual novel...maybe novella...anyway, I wrote some stuff. I thought it might be fun to repost the best of it here, from time to time.


This particular bit is a response to a feature on Comics Should Be Good, the blog mentioned in the previous entry. The poster was doing a series of columns on his favourite comic strips, and had mentioned that Peanuts would not be appearing. During the ensuing howl of shock and anguish he asked respondents to explain why it should be included. This is my contribution.

It picks up just after another poster had mentioned that after watching the specials/TV series etc, she couldn't understand the hype re: Snoopy. 'He's boring!' Naturally, I couldn't let that go unchallenged...

Yeah, if you only pay attention to the merchandise/spinoffs and not the strip, I freely agree. But as Schulz was always very careful to make clear…the spinoffs don’t count.

Within the strip, Snoopy wasn’t a cute doggie; he was Walter Mitty in a beagle suit. He was a (terrible) Serious Novelist and a flying ace and Big Man on Campus and a vulture and a secret agent and a World-Famous Grocery Clerk and a streaker (really) and a hockey player and the proprietor of the PawPet Theatre, whose production of War and Peace featured a ‘cast of thousands’…ie, a puppet named Joe Thousands. Among other things.

All this pretty much sums up why I love Peanuts so much - it’s not what you expect. That’s why I was bothered enough by Bill’s ‘yeah, it’s charming, whatever’ earlier to keep pushing. Because Peanuts is possibly the most resolutely un-charming comic strip ever.

Which is not to say it wasn’t enormously appealing and affecting - only that it’s so ferociously honest in doing it. But it wasn’t angry or ‘emo’, either. Schulz’ characters were, simply, people - everymen, and women. One of those literary pretentions that’s obvious in theory but insanely difficult in practice. Barring the last decade or so, when he was obviously coasting, his creations never really struck a false note.

Yeah, Charlie Brown & co. were kids, but only insofar as their innocence gave Schulz a ’storytelling engine’. They asked the questions that every human being does - about security, about being loved, about success or failure, about God, about the meaning of it all - and the answers they got managed to be both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time. “Go to sleep, sir,” Marcie tells Peppermint Patty when the latter panics about the end of the world. “It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”

As another poster put it earlier, Schulz pointed out that yeah, in this life we spend most of the time behind the eight ball. We’re thwarted, baffled, bewildered…but we keep on going, in our various ways, because we have to keep on hoping. Maybe next time, we’ll kick that football/win that game/get up the courage to talk to that girl…and oh, won’t it all be worth it then?

(Incidentally, the kick-the-football thing did get a resolution, of sorts, in the strip’s last year. Lucy is stuck in the house and forced to send her little brother, Rerun, out with the ball. When he returns, she asks him what happened…and he replies, ‘You’ll never know!’)

shoebox_dw: (gf bucky pointing)
So it's Day One of the Great Writing Experiment - in which yours truly spends an hour a day writing something, anything - and I'm sitting here sicker than a dog. Which you'd think I'd be used to by now as a monthly occurrence, but nooooo, somehow I always end up with new and exciting modes of crampage. Some perverse prototype version of forgetting the pain of childbirth, I s'pose.

Anyhoo...let's see...yeah, not much else going on around here. The books all say write what you know, but they never say what to do if what you know isn't all that exciting. Like, yay, I had cake today. (Although, don't get me wrong, it was massively good cake. Someday, if you're very very nice to me, I'll share the secret recipe for Shoemom's chocolate decadence).

Turns out on closer examination most of my blogging inspirations work by tagging on to some inherently cool stuff - comics, say, or celebrity gossip. As noted in the previous 'whoo-hoo-I'm-back' entry, I don't even watch TV, much, and the stuff that I do watch is hampered by the fact that I'm in Canada. We're Number Two! Is there a market for six-month-old Top Chef recaps?

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