OPERATION BACKLOG SLOG (BLOG): Episode 4

The Holidays are almost here, and as you can imagine, I’ve been rather busy. Not so busy as to not have a few fantastic recommendations to send your way, though:

COMICS:

The Stuff of Legend by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III (Th3rd World) – If you were ever a child, there’s a good chance that you played with toys. You may have had a teddy bear, a tin (or plastic) soldier, a piggy bank, or a twirling ballerina. And if you were a child with an overactive imagination, you might have thought that your toys went out on adventures when you weren’t around, living exciting lives away from the prying eyes of humans … wait a second, this is starting to sound like the premise to Toy Story, isn’t it? Well, I can assure you that the similarities end there. Instead of a feel-good children’s animated action movie, The Stuff of Legend is an epic and dark children’s tale of the same caliber as Mouse Guard. When the Boogeyman (eep!) kidnaps a young boy and drags him to some sort of nightmare dimension, it is up to his favorite childhood toys to brave the dangerous land of The Dark and rescue him. The Boogeyman is not alone, however, and the heroic toys must struggle against their less-favored bretheren. To say that “It’s Toy Story meets Fables meets Mouse Guard” would be to rob The Stuff of Legend of its original voice and charm, both of which it has in abundance. I will say that, like Mouse Guard, this story is far more enjoyable when read at bedtime-story pace. Every moment is captured so perfectly in each panel that they could all stand alone as wonderful pieces of art, and are so much more impressive in sequence. I’m not sure when this will be collected, but the single issues have been reprinted several times and should be available at your local comic shop or online source. If you like dark fantasy with funny animals, gallows humor, developed characters and plot twists, The Stuff of Legend is a must-buy.

The Five Fists of Science by Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders (Image) – Now this is how you do Steampunk! (Well, not technically, as the awesome alternate-technology is electrically powered in this book, but you get the idea.) Hot-shot Marvel writer Matt Fraction and artist Steven Sanders have come together to bring us the superhero team-up we never would’ve thought of ourselves, but now can’t bear to live without: Legendary wordsmith Mark Twain and genius inventor Nikola Tesla. AMAZING! Together with Tesla’s one-armed assistant, these Five Fists of Science endeavor to save the world and end war forever by building giant robots with incredibly powerful weapons. YES! GIANT STEAMPUNK ROBOTS! DYNAMO-POWERED WMDS! HOORAY FOR SCIENCE! Sorry for the outburst, it’s just such an exciting book. Fraction is able to handle both action and comedy with ease, making this a worthy rival to Clevinger and Wegener’s Atomic Robo for best use of Nikola Tesla’s life and works in a comic book. The story and aesthetic are less Atomic Robo and more League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though, with a far greater literary feel and a cast featuring many historical figures (including JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, and Guglielmo Marconi.) Sanders does a fantastic job bringing these historical figures to life, giving them enough personality to jump off the page without becoming inhuman caricatures. His technical drawing is so skilled that every construct seems to be fully realized and theoretically functional (a few minor suspensions of disbelief notwithstanding.) It may not feature any real steam-powered machinery, but The Five Fists of Science can steampunk with the best of ’em.

MISCELLANEOUS:

I don’t watch much TV, but I’ve been catching Jersey Shore at every opportunity. I wouldn’t say that I like the show, but it certainly captivates me in a way that no other MTV program can hope to these days. Having grown up in New Jersey (a short drive from the shore) I can honestly say that people like that do exist in real life, in frightening abundance. Ironically, though, most of the people I know who are from the Jersey Shore would either deride these “guidoes” and “guidettes” mercilessly or severely brutalize them; such is their level of tolerance for “Bennies” (BENNY is an acronym for tourists, but I can’t recall what it stand for right now.) A friend of mine wrote an excellent piece on the show as a cultural study, actually. I’ll be happy if the show concentrates all of those-type people into Seaside (lovingly nicknamed Sleazide and/or Scumside) Heights next summer, leaving the respectable beaches for the rest of us.

Now that I’m sans-car, I’ve been spending a lot more time walking and on public transportation. This gives me lots of time to delve into the world of podcasting, and what a world it is. My initial recommendations are the following (click the links or search for them in iTunes, whichever is your preference):

Punky! Radio – Lots of great punk rock music you’ve never heard of, hosted by two British guys. What’s not to like? (WARNING: These punks use lots of potty language, in both British and American flavors.)

Psycho Planet Radio (as presented by The Subculture Collective) – All the best rockabilly, psychobilly, and Hellbilly music, sometimes with no talk at all. This stuff is verry different from anything you’ll hear on the radio these days.

This Week in Tech and This Week in Google – My non-music podcasts of choice. I’ve been catching up on what the big, scary macrocorporations are doing these days through TWiT and TWiG, and I have to say I’m starting to fear for my privacy. Don’t let that scare you away, though! Leo LaPorte and his diverse cast of commentators (gadget gurus, sci-fi writers, stand-up comedians, etc.) break down the latest tech news in a fun and friendly way, offering something for listeners of every experience level. Heck, one of these days they may even explain what the heck Google Wave is actually for!

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2 Responses

  1. I didn’t know Benny was an acronym. I can’t imagine what it stands for. Who wrote the piece on Jersey Shore? I’d love to read it.

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