Monday, May 24, 2010

Fun Finds in Old Comics

So, while we were cleaning out my grandmother’s house after her death, my mother found these stacks of old comic books – one of the many things my slightly-crazy aunt collected for a short time in an attempt to be popular. Mom handed them over to me since I’m the only one in the family who knows anything about comics. Most of them are pretty tattered, though readable, and nothing special, mostly worth the usual $2-$5 a book. But there were a few surprises.

- An original printing of Superman #161, featuring “The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent!” This side story bumps the issue’s value, in the “fair” condition that I have it, to almost $100. Hell to the yes.

- Action Comics #410, which I always wondered about after seeing it on Superdickery. It’s a pretty typical “imaginary” story, but my inner continuity alarm started laughing hysterically when I found out that, you know the “Satanic Son” that Superman is protecting there? His name is Kryss Kent. Just wow. He even looks like Zod, and Zod didn’t even exist yet. XD

- Batman #246. Because “How many ways can a Robin DIE?” is just one of those insanely entertaining weird stories.

- The Wonder Woman issue with her black twin sister, Nubia, who has the exact same back story as She-Ra Princess of Power; only she was kidnapped by Ares, not Hordak. Horrak. Horcurmp? Whatever his name is.

- Batman #255, One Hundred Page Super Spectacular, which contains a lot of those side-stories that wouldn’t matter except that Morison decided to recycle them including that crazy bat-outfit of Thomas Wayne’s.

- The Mighty Thor #171, the only Marvel comic in the mix, was also the last silver-age issue of Thor. So it’s worth about $80.00. Double yes. :3
7) I am not the only comic fan who loved Jughead! His title comic from the 80s goes for $15.00 an issue.

I’m gonna get these things all bagged up and photographed soon so I can put them up on eBay. I actually really like this whole old-comics researching thing. Kinda wish there were more of them to go through.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hatter Wonderings

I don’t get the Mad Hatter.

I mean, I love Alice. I related to the Disney movie as a kid, I’ve read the original book a dozen times and the annotated edition once or twice. If a new reimagining of the story comes out, I’m liable to have at least a passing interest – from Tim Burton’s sequel movie and the SyFi channel’s recent mini-series to Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars and American McGee’s Alice, a horror video game. I enjoy them all, except maybe the video game, since I’m a yellow-bellied coward with an overactive imagination and bad eyesight.

But there’s a tendency among Alice’s re-imaginers – whom I assume are also Alice fans by nature of their work – to turn the Mad Hatter into something of a major characters, and why this is by no means a bad thing, the trend baffles me.

The original Mad Hatter appeared in, if I recall correctly, two chapters of Alice in Wonderland. In his first, he led a chaotic tea party with its own bizarre rules, cheered Alice’s un-birthday and did a lot of screaming. In the second, he turned up to testify at a trial and was scared off by a screaming Queen of Hearts. And…that’s it.

And yet, constantly, he is re-imagined as Alice’s friend, her companion, her guardian and sometimes, even as her love interest. Heck, even in character-specific parodies of the story, such as the “Haruhi in Wonderland” chapters of Ouran High School Host Club, the Hatter is usually portrayed by the male lead – in this case, Tamaki Suoh, the Host Club’s princely leader.

This strikes me as odd.

It’s not that I think this is bad. It’s natural for characters in a re-imagining to take on aspects that they didn’t have before. I don’t have issue with the Hatter taking on a bigger role in any one of these stories, but the trend is strange. What is it about the Hatter, of all characters, that gets him so much extra screen time in the minds of fans?

A friend told me that it’s because he’s the first character besides Alice herself that you associate with the story. Well, that may be true for her, but certainly wasn’t for me – I always thought of the Cheshire Cat first, then the Queen of Hearts, then the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledumb, the caterpillar, Alice’s cat Dinah and then the Mad Hatter, in connection with the March Hare.

The best theory I can come up with is that most people are more familiar with Wonderland than Through the Looking Glass; and the Mad Hatter is really the only one in Wonderland who can be considered ‘human’ and who could therefore concievably be a non-creepy love interest for an Alice old enough to consider such things. At the same time, I wonder if people aren’t just playing off the popularity of the character as a sex symbol in other re-imaginings and are using him without thinking about the other possibilities – and that’s kind of sad.

For example, turning the aforementioned Through the Looking Glass – which already gets blended with most Wonderland re-imaginings with the inclusion of the Tweedle twins – gives us the White Knight, who actually was Alice’s companion and bodyguard. Or, if you’re doing a version of the story that humanizes all of the characters anyway, why not turn the White Rabbit, the focus of Alice’s fixation, into a human character and turn the story into something of a pursuit of love? Or, if you’re going to reinvent the story from scratch anyway, why not create a new character – a low-ranking playing card, or a village of Wonderland – as a young boy to give Alice someone to travel with?

With all these possibilities, it’s a shame to limit yourself to what has worked before. Personally, I like the idea of giving the Cheshire Cat an anthropomorphic form who turns up just as mysteriously as the Cat himself, guiding Alice through whatever adventure she’s bound on this time because of his honest affection for her.

But then again, I may be partial – the Cat was always my favorite character.

Monday, May 10, 2010

To-Do List: Summer Goals

1. Complete revision of A House Divided and begin querying various agents.

2. Complete revision of The Interior of Sheridan Price and begin querying various literary magazines.
2a. Figure out if Sheridan Price counts as YA fiction, and if it does, locate literary magazines that don't have that anti-YA stigma attached to all of their submission standards.

3. Enroll in summer literature class, to get it out of the way already.

4. Find part-time job. This reading tutor at Kumon is looking vaugely hopeful. Fingers crossed.

5. Establish adelinecappuccino YouTube channel and create at least some channel contents.

6. Don't flip out. Remain calm. Everything is going to be okay.

Friday, May 7, 2010

College Cuisine: CcQcCwB

Mm. College Food. Not-so-fine cuisine that you will look back on in horror for the rest of your life, but damn if it doesn’t hit the spot right about now. Have a recipe.

CcQcCwB: Chili con Queso con Carne with Beans

1 pound ground beef
1 1-pound block of Velveeta cheese
3 cans bean dip of your choice
1 package taco seasoning (I prefer the “cheesy taco” myself) and whatever you need to prepare that.
1 bag corn chips of your choice.

1. Prepare taco meat following the directions on the package of seasoning. Use a large pot. Do not remove from heat.
2. Cut or tear Velveeta into chunks and add to taco meat. Stir, mix and melt evenly.
3. Add bean dip. Blend completely. Remove from heat and serve with the corn chips. Depending on your appetite, it’ll either feed a small party or last one person for anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Two Cents: Criticism

So I’m browsing the Escapist forums, watching reruns of Zero Punctuation because I have no inspiration and no life at the moment, and this topic pops up on the little forum sidebar with the subject, “Pratchett Attacks Doctor Who.” Pratchett of course being Terry Pratchett, beloved British author of speculative fiction, creator of Discworld and co-author of one of my favorite books (Good Omens, if you somehow missed that note.) His alleged attack: a criticism that basically said the Doctor is a dues ex machina that the writers use to get away with illogical things that they just shouldn’t be able to get away with in science fiction.

Now, I am not very familiar with Doctor Who; but it does remind me of the drive home from A-Kon last year, when my best friend – who is a moderate Twilight fan, much to my chagrin – got very mad about Stephen King going on the record to say that Stephanie Meyer was a bad writer. Putting aside my own personal feelings about the writing quality, I have to admit this annoyed me, because this assumption always annoys me. Why is it that people who create things are somehow not allowed to comment poorly on other people who create things?

I mean, they’re people. They have opinions just like everyone else and the law in most modern countries gives them the freedom to express that opinion. And when you think about it, they’re in the best position to criticize. Whether you like his work or not (I find him dreadfully boring myself) Stephen King is one of the upmost authorities on writing popular paranormal fiction. Even if he’s not familiar with YA, he’s more than qualified to comment on the writing talents of fellow Stephanie Meyer.

My friend’s argument was that, as someone who has a significant amount of clout in the publishing industry, King should be held to a higher standard than to say things that could damage another author’s career. But you know, if you’re going to go into a creative field, your work has got to stand up to criticism. Because people are going to criticize it, they will criticize the hell out of it. If your work is any good at all, it will stand in spite of any attacks – and for the record, that goes for if your work happens to be, in itself, a criticism of something. I’m looking at you, meta-writers of the internet.

EDIT: I guess what I mean by that, since I know this is kind of confusing, is that criticism should not be criticized just becasue it is criticism. It will be criticized, but it should be because of flaws in the critic's argument, not just because it's pointing out the flaws in something else.

And yes, for the record, I consider calling something "an attack" because it's expressing a negetive opinion to be criticizing criticism for being criticism. Going in to more detail on that fall into the same category of "complaining about people scarificing proper word choice for manipulative emotional impact" as my rants on the difference between misogyny and sexism.