eddy currents

A blog for random ideas by just another insignificant speck on a tiny blue marble in a vast black sea.

Also, pictures of trees.




PANELLING IS A THEME BY MIRANDA

[40] - 13 December - Tempus Frangit

Time.  

It’s a funny thing.  

Ostensibly we’re supposed to some kind of third dimensional creature living in a four dimensional stratum, or something like that, but perception of the space-time thing can be decidedly elusive.  As has been wont to be said for a while from the dear old Doctor, it’s “wibbly wobbly timey wimey…stuff.”

On an objective level, you can watch time.  You can sit there and stare at an analog clock tick away the seconds with every sweep of its hands.  Or more precisely take a digital stopwatch and break the day into even far more minute segments that you can’t even really consciously perceive passing, but you can watch that blur of numbers.  Our brains likely process some of it passively, having trained ourselves to process visual cues at a more rapid pace every year due to the nature of television and advertising.  What sad world have we created when even the three minute music video is starting to feel too long?

And yet…

And yet, on a subjective level, we still don’t understand time at all.  Our perception is broken, where a second of pain can feel like a lifetime or if you’re not paying attention a decade can go by seemingly in the blink of an eye.

One moment, you’re on one side of the continent, wearing a suit, smiling politely while shifting your feet back and forth awkwardly.  Glass of champagne in your hand, celebrating a job well done, a contract well thought out, fought for, and won.

The next moment you wake up and your hair is longer, your beard is showing signs of neglect, and you find yourself thinking, “Where the hell did 2013 go?”, before once again scritching the cat’s ears and giving him some treats before going back to sleep.

[39] - 3 July - To Go Boldly

Wearing all vintage misery.  No, I think it looked a little better on me.

— Fall Out Boy, The Phoenix

I know they’ve been up for a while now, but I’ve finally gotten around to watching some of the episodes that have been available for streaming on startrek.com (sadly only available in the US still, I believe).

I’ve seen the original series and next generation episodes so many times that in some cases I can probably recite the dialogue from memory, so I decided to check out some of the things I haven’t seen as often or in some cases at all.  

I couldn’t get in to the Animated Series at all, I stopped the first episode after about five minutes.  I’ll probably eventually go back and watch the entire series, just for sake of doing it, but it just seemed so incredibly hokey.

DS9, I want to watch from beginning to end again.  I’ve got the DVDs in storage somewhere, it’s easily probably my favourite Trek past its first couple seasons, and when I rewatched the series about five years ago held up a lot better than the more recent Voyager or even TNG.

Voyager, I’ll probably eventually watch Year In Hell again, but it’s still in syndication and I’ll often have it on in the background as noise.  The series had some very good episodes, but as a whole it seemed pointless.  And that was before they decided that the show was about the ethical treatment of toasters.

So…this has left me with Enterprise.

I know there are many Trek fans who prefer to think that the series didn’t exist.  I remember particularly hating many episodes, and particularly the third season myself, but I wanted to give it another shot.  I still think that the theme was one of the dumbest decisions that the series ever made, it’s just bad.  ”Faith of the Heart” doesn’t even work as the theme to a CW twenty-something drama, let alone a Trek series.  For many, it probably killed the show out of the gate.  For me, I can’t skip ahead fast enough once the teaser is done.

Anyway, I’m up to about the sixth episode now, and, honestly, it’s nowhere near as bad as I remember.  The episodes are more polished and have less cheese than Voyager or the first season of The Next Generation, with fairly believable characters.  What’s kind of funny is that T’Pol doesn’t even seem remotely like a sexualized character artificially injected into Trek any more.  Less so even that Seven of Nine in Voyager.  Maybe it’s because of the type of characters in television series these days make her seem tame, but the character serves a purpose much more than mere eye candy and titillation.

I’m not sure how the Temporal Cold War arc will hang together (I remember disliking it) and I still think I’m not going to like the Expanse and the Xindi story, but so far I’m liking this a lot more.

[38] - 2 July - What’s a Gerry Conway?

So there was this earlier in the week from Gerry Conway:

I need your help.

DC Comics is a great company.

It was the first major publisher to offer creator contracts on a regular basis, allowing the men and women who create characters for DC books to share in the profits those characters generate in other media. You may say, that’s only fair, but until the mid-1970s it was standard policy for comic book publishers to buy all rights in perpetuity upon payment for a single story. Writers and artists received no further payment for their work after that first check — no money for reprints, no money for toys based on characters they’d created, no money for movies or TV shows or games or trading cards.

Nada, zip, zilch.

DC Comics changed that.

Starting in the mid-70s DC offered creators an opportunity for what they called “equity participation.” With the appropriate paperwork submitted and signed, DC creators would receive a share of the profits generated by their creations. Like I said, you may think this is only fair, but in the ’70s it hit the business like a revelation. And for more than thirty years it’s given quite a few creators an extra bit of income — in some cases, for some older creators, the only real income they receive from comics.

So, to repeat, DC Comics is a great company.

But, like all companies, it’s a business, and its first priority is to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and maximize profits. So tracking which character was created by which writer and artist team thirty or forty years ago isn’t part of their business plan. It’s just too much work, and it requires a dedication and devotion to detail that only one group in the world has in abundant quantities:

You, the fans.

A personal note. I started this site because some of my fans alerted me to the use in the TV series “Arrow” of characters I co-created in the late 1970s, early 1980s. Without those fans I wouldn’t have known those characters were appearing. I wouldn’t have filed equity participation paperwork with DC. And neither I nor the artists I worked with would be eligible to receive money for the use of those characters. DC does not make payments retroactive. If a creator wants to claim equity participation in a character he or she co-created, they need to do so proactively.

Which is where you come in.

If you’re a fan of DC comics published since 1975, you can help your favorite pros — not just me, but any writer or artist who worked on DC’s titles. Go through your collection. Look for the first appearances of any character, major or minor, hero/villain/sidekick/bystander from the years 1975 on. Download and fill out the DC Comics Character Equity Request form (you’ll find the link below) and email it to the creators involved. Most creators have an active presence on the web, either on Facebook, or Twitter, or through their own web sites or fan pages. Reach out to them. Encourage them to file the paperwork you prepared with DC.

Help them get their fair share.

Obviously, I include myself (Gerry Conway) in this list. I can use your help, too.

Between 1975 and the mid-80s I wrote literally hundreds of comics for DC and created dozens of characters. FIRESTORM, JUSTICE LEAGUE, LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, BATMAN, SUPERMAN, WONDER WOMAN, on and on and on. There’s no way I can single-handedly track down each and every character who made their first appearance in a story I wrote. But all of you working together, each doing one or two characters — you can crowd-source it.

Download the form, fill it out, attach a piece of art identifying the character, and send it to the email link below with the subject line EQUITY. To prevent duplication of effort by fellow fans (and to claim credit for your help!) post a comment to this blog identifying the character you’ve discovered.

On behalf of all the DC creators who would otherwise never know, literally, what they’re missing, thank you!

Here’s the link to the Character Equity Request Form:

And here’s the email where the filled-out forms for characters co-created by Gerry Conway, with the subject line EQUITY: comicsequityproject@gmail.com

I think it’s a good thing to contribute to, if you possibly can.  Conway put out a fairly simple plea to the fans that if they knew of a property being exploited in other media to contact the writers and artists that created those characters and stories with the details, etc.  

Given many fans’ obsessive nature and near encyclopaedic knowledge of minutia when it comes to their favourite creators and characters, it makes sense to ask them for help, right?  Some might even consider it a way to give back to some of those creators who built even just a little part of a cherished story or a favourite character.  Hell, I’m sure that there’s someone out there who is an unabashed fan of Brother Power The Geek.

Anyway, the simple plea set off a furor amongst some people on message boards and comics sites about Gerry Conway trying to get other people to do research to get him money, and how dare he be so arrogant, why does he even need the money, and on and on.  Some wondering why they’d do anything unless they got something out of it.

I would think that those opposed would just think to themselves, “Eh, not for me.” and then move on, but apparently it was so offensive that is was almost a personal attack on them.

So, I have to ask, when did asking for help become such a bad thing?  When did asking for someone who loves a medium to help those who create in it become anathema?

As I’ve said before, I’m astonished by the lengths that some people will go to in order to crap all over an artform that they claim to love.  You see it when a creator is fighting for something they believe in, you see it when a creator speaks out against unfair working conditions, you see it when a creator has to scrape, claw, and fight legally for something that should be a given that is written in their very contract.

Maybe it’s my failing to understand the human capacity for irrational hate?

Anyway, I’d advise people if there’s a 70’s or 80’s creator out there that you enjoy and you’ve got a bit of spare time, just use comics.org and a google search to see if there’s anything there.  I’m certain that there are creators out there that could use the assistance of the royalties and residuals for work they are rightfully owed.

[37] - 1 July - Nobody wants to read this crap

When you’re laying awake at 3:00 in the morning; running through your head over and again everything that’s wrong, everything that was right but is now wrong, everything that was wrong but is now even more wrong, everything that ever was and all that should have been; staring at the ceiling waiting for it to grow teeth and swallow you whole, or for the people upstairs to finally come crashing through from leaving the bathtub faucet on just one time too many because it would at least be something different, something interesting in an otherwise mundane existence.

When you’re confronted with thousands of ideas for things streaming through your head, but you forget them if you turn on the light and try to write them down; ephemeral idea butterflies evaporating into dust and wisps of vapour as soon as they hit the light.  You wonder about something as simple as how to put this word in front of that word and whether or not this sentence will convey the correct meaning for that idea, and before long you’re in one stylistic run-on mess.  Tied up in red and blue squiggly lines, thank you, Microsoft.

You obsess over the whys and wherefores.  Why not get just a job making gyros somewhere, you like gyros, maybe you can live off making gyros?  It’s a good job, making people happy through making wraps with rotating beef, lamb, chicken, or goat.  Who will hire someone who has never worked in the service industry but can make a mean sandwich?  You stare again at the ceiling, blink, and change your mind.  Run over again things gone wrong, bury yourself a little deeper, lament diminishing returns.

You beat yourself down with doubt, with recriminations, with justifications and excuses for past successes and failures, you think about not living up to your potential.  You hear the voices of all of your detractors, all of the naysayers, throughout your life.  ”They’re all going to laugh at you!”  If only a bucket of pig’s blood was your worry.  Wearing through lines of you’re not good enough.  Nobody wants to read this crap.  Why even bother, you can’t do it.

Then you think about new things, you think, hey, at least it sold three copies.  Granted, at least one of those was probably to your mother.  The other two likely to close friends.  Stay positive, though, right?  At least you’re not #796,609!

You close the laptop.  Put down the pen and notepad.  The last note written months before about sausage pie.  You don’t even remember what that means.  You look at your cat, but all he seems to be saying is, “Hell if I know.  But as long as you’re awake, how about some turkey?”

So you wander off, scratch the cat’s ears, and give him some turkey treats.

The comics industry is dark satanic mills.
— Alan Moore — Interview with Bill Baker

Before Watchmen

…NOW WITH SHINY BOWEL CANCER…

Eduardo Barreto’s passing recently has probably been overshadowed by other comics greats, such as Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon, which is a shame.  He was never a huge star in the industry, never one to set the sales charts aflame with his name alone, but he built up a large and impressive portfolio that deserves more attention than it got.
I see most sites making mention of his work on New Teen Titans, but I remember him more from The Shadow Strikes! and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.  I remember him being an artist who had that grit and pulp flavour that made many of the hard-boiled tales believable.
But one book I remember most was Batman #520.  It was shortly before Doug Moench launched into a lengthy, and sometimes strange, run with Kelley Jones in the mid-90’s, and “Fades to Black” was a grounded tale of love and loss, featuring intertwining tales of Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Bullock, playing to Barreto’s strengths.  It’s a simple tale, well told.

Eduardo Barreto’s passing recently has probably been overshadowed by other comics greats, such as Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon, which is a shame.  He was never a huge star in the industry, never one to set the sales charts aflame with his name alone, but he built up a large and impressive portfolio that deserves more attention than it got.

I see most sites making mention of his work on New Teen Titans, but I remember him more from The Shadow Strikes! and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.  I remember him being an artist who had that grit and pulp flavour that made many of the hard-boiled tales believable.

But one book I remember most was Batman #520.  It was shortly before Doug Moench launched into a lengthy, and sometimes strange, run with Kelley Jones in the mid-90’s, and “Fades to Black” was a grounded tale of love and loss, featuring intertwining tales of Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Bullock, playing to Barreto’s strengths.  It’s a simple tale, well told.

Out of the Lab

Superboy #3

(W) Scott Lobdell (A) RB Silva, Rob Lean, The Hories

DC Comics | $2.99 US
January 2012

I think of the three titles in the “Lobdell-verse” corner of the New 52, Superboy is by far the best of them.  I think a large part of that has to do with RB Silva’s art, which truly is the best part of the book, but the story itself isn’t bad.

With the first two issues largely building up Superboy (who really does seem to narrate a lot to himself about everything) and two supporting characters, Red (fully revealed here as Caitlin Fairchild although it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone) and Rose Wilson, this issue comes as a bit of a change of pace.  In this issue, we get introduced to a kind of Mickey and Mallory with superpowers (although all we do is get introduced to them), an escaped Superboy runs into an ordinary girl (and takes her home) and then battles another escapee from the lab last issue (who is quickly dispatched), before returning to NOWHERE where is attacked by an incredulous Red.  

In a way, it’s throwing too much at us at once, which makes the short focus on any single area a bit unsatisfying compared to the previous issues, but I can’t say that it’s necessarily bad.  Just a little scattered thin.  I certainly think that the main antagonist, giving Superboy some exposition about NOWHERE and how he is somehow Kryptonian and human and ”something worse” could have been fleshed out a bit more.

It does, however, open up the opportunity for RB Silva to draw a lot more things and people, and that’s a welcome endeavour.

Final Decision: IN. I think. It will largely be contingent on Teen Titans.

So Much for Suicide

Suicide Squad #3

(W) Adam Glass (A) Cliff Richards, Val Staples

DC Comics | $2.99 US
January 2012

I’m slightly disconcerted by the number of artists who seem necessary in order to keep this title going, since the first two issues featured Federico Dallocchio along with another separate artist for each issue, and now in the third, we have art by Cliff Richards.  It doesn’t lead to the greatest visual consistency, but at least here we have Richards drawing the entire issue.  

Richards has a more traditional style and as such many of the characters tend to take on a more “normal” appearance (this of course aided by the fact that in order to hide out until they get picked up they dress in civilian attire), but I do have to say that his King Shark is probably the most impressive I’ve seen on the series thus far and actually makes the hammerhead redesign work.

Again, Adam Glass essentially gives us a done-in-one story that fits into the framework of his larger ongoing story of following this group of characters at a seeming breakneck speed.  There’s some play with a non-linear approach to telling the story that ultimately I think is unnecessary, as it doesn’t really add anything to the book, but it doesn’t really distract too much.  During the “down time” we get a bit more on each of the characters and a conflict as Deadshot and Harley run into another mercenary, Mad Dog, wacky hijinks ensue.

I am disappointed that Deadshot has lost his moustache, and I would like to see more consistent art, but the story itself has me hooked.

Final Decision: IN.

page 1 of 15