The Monster Alphabet–Book Review

The Monster Alphabet

I received this image of a Faerie as a postcard, which is why you’re seeing it.

The Monster Alphabet is a 26-page board book by Derron Gendron & Obsidian Abnormal, the team behind the very funny webcomic Hello With Cheese, which I will talk about in a future Webcomics You Should Be Reading post. Yeah, it’s an alphabet board book for little kids, but with each letter represented by a different mythological creature. B is for Basilisk, F is for Faerie and so on. It’s a wonderful little book that includes a neat rhyme, facts about the creatures and a great illustration on each page.

My friend turned me on to Dern & O, as they’re known, a couple years ago, and they’re probably my favorite webcomics team out there. Dern’s jokes–and blog posts–are always entertaining and funny while O’s art, as you can see above (as well as his own webcomic Commissioned), is a great thing to behold.

I actually contributed to the book’s making through its Kickstarter page, chipping in at the $12 level, which not only got me the above image as a postcard, but also…

The physical book itself



A slipcase, which I didn’t even know it would have until it came in the mail.

This really sweet and wonderful poster; sorry for the crappy shot

There’s also a bookmark of 2 images from the book–which I’ll add here at some point–as well as a PDF of the book that I got a month or so after the Kickstarter wrapped.

All this sweet, geeky fun for $12? Yeah, that’s pretty awesome. See you Wednesday!






Of Interest

Not that this is gonna unofficially become Bat-Week here or anything, but I do want to address another thing about The Dark Knight Rises.

In case you haven’t heard, prior to the film’s release, critic Marshall Fine posted a negative review on his website and received death threats. From fans. Y’know, the ones that are so rabid about this stuff that they’ll do things like…well, do things like that?

Yeah, that’s pretty insane stuff. After that and a similar incident with another critic, Rotten Tomatoes–the famous review-aggregator website that I don’t personally care for because it distills the fine art of movie criticism to a number–suspended comments from the film’s page. Bravo, guys.

And fans? Don’t do this. Not just for Batman, but anything. People are allowed to have negative and contrary opinions. That’s how democracy works. That’s how freedom of speech works. That’s how civil discourse works.

If you can’t remember that, then just ask yourself, “What would Batman do?”

Okay, his first answer would be probably this:

But his second would be to be civil and respectful. Thank you.


I’ve been living in a nexus of Batman material lately. Bought Batman: Arkham Asylum at the last Steam sale for $7, been watching a lot of Batman: The Animated Series, just started watching The Brave and the Bold today from the beginning, and last week Thursday, I not only saw the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, but all of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

My review? Well, to keep it short because there’s other things I want to talk about yet, I liked it a lot. Seeing all 3 films at one time like that–an experience that yielded me another opportunity that I hope to announce very soon–helped me see the threads of Nolan (and his brother Jonathan and David S. Goyer)’s vision of Batman play out fully. Rises is a very well done movie; not as good as The Dark Knight, but better than Batman Begins. The cast is great, the script is great, the score is great, the characters are awesome and the plot is spellbinding.

But while I was enjoying myself, Aurora, CO was experiencing a devastating tragedy. Suffice it to say that this is certainly a heinous, cruel, barbaric act of violence and that all prayers and thoughts should be centered on the victims.

As for the shooter? Well, I fully agree with artist Ty Templeton. Don’t talk about this guy; don’t think about him; don’t give this nut the attention he deserves.

If you want an excellent thought piece on this and the recent Penn State verdict, you can find that here.

To turn to a bit happier news, I reached a milestone at work today, it finally rained around here and I had a great time playing Soul Calibur V last night. Happier post tomorrow!

Neal Adams, put it simply, is one of the legends of comics. I value his thoughts on the movie immensely. I’ll be seeing it at midnight tonight with a friend; full review tomorrow.

Hero Complex - movies, comics, pop culture - Los Angeles Times

Neal Adams is a legendary name to comic-book collectors, but he holds an especially exalted place in the hearts of Batman fans — it was the vivid, muscular and irony-free art of Adams that tugged the character back toward the serious shadows and away from the campy 1966-1968 television series that made Gotham City a joke. With writer Denny O’Neil, Adams also introduced the evil mastermind Ra’s al Ghul and steered the Joker’s persona into a truly bizarre brand of lunacy — key contributions that would echo years later in the Batcave films of Christopher Nolan. Adams was one of the special guests at the New York premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” and he agreed to do a guest review of the film.


I listened to the vibes out there, and they said, “How can anybody beat the ‘Avengers’ movie? Even Batman?”

Well, “The…

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Royalty–Childish Gambino–Mixtape Review

Like that last mixtape I wrote about, Royalty is free. 100% free. Right here. Donald Glover, the actor/rapper/wunderkind behind Childish Gambino, made it free. Because he’s awesome.

If you don’t recognize that name, it’s because you don’t watch Community. And if you don’t watch Community, you are depriving yourself. Seriously. Community is the best sitcom on TV, so rush out and buy the first season on DVD or, if you have a HuluPlus subscription, watch it on there. It’s available on Netflix. But seriously, WATCH COMMUNITY.

Anyway…divorced from the show, Donald Glover is a considerable talent in his own right, writing for 30 Rock–y’know, that show that’s won millions of awards but no one you know watches?–doing stand-up, acting and, for a while now, rapping. His rap alter-ego Childish Gambino (the name came from a Wu-Tang Clan name generator) is as witty as Glover’s stand up but still reeling with emotion and insight into what it’s like to be someone like Glover–a self-styled “black nerd”–in this day and age. There’s also a bunch of wonderful insights into the trials of childhood and love.

Royalty, like most mixtapes, is star-studded. My favorite track, “Silk Pillow,” comes courtesy of Beck, who, after 4 years with no new releases, just drops a great guest rap and sets up a perfect counterpoint to Gambino. I don’t know what the lyrics are about but that’s how all Beck songs are to me. Like Beck’s solo music, the brilliant instrumentation sells it.

Some other great tracks are “We Ain’t Them,” the opener in which Glover relays all of his adult life in a breezy, charming manner with a smooth beat and “American Royalty,” where Wu-Tang’s very own maestro the RZA and the Chicago-based Hypnotic Brass Ensemble just jam.

As you might have heard, the final song, “Real Estate,” features a “rap” from Tina Fey, comedy’s “It girl” and Glover’s former boss on 30 Rock, but…guys…it’s just not good. AT ALL.

The whole song is just dumb and boring; the sort of creatively empty boast rap that Gambino is otherwise against. Fey doesn’t even show up till the end, but she has no flow, is painfully awkward, and nothing is the slightest bit funny about it. Guhhh.

But overall, it’s a pretty good mixtape and it’s FREE AND LEGALLY SO. What are you waiting for?Image

Nostalgia, Ultra–Mixtape Review

Frank Ocean has been in the news a lot lately. Between his coming out as bisexual or gay (which it is isn’t known), his appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and then launching his official label debut on Def Jam, Channel Orange digitally, and Target refusing to sell that same album because they–allegedly--think nobody will buy a physical copy, the 20-something R&B singer, best known as the smooth milk that washes down the VERY bitter, very shocking pills that Tyler, the Creator and the other members of the LA hip-hop collective Odd Future give listeners (Warning: that last link is NSFW).

Ocean, real name Christopher Breaux, is actually the oldest member of Odd Future and has the most experience. Some quick Wikiing will tell you that he started out writing songs for, among others, Justin Bieber and John Legend, but wound up signing with the once-mighty, now-tepid Def Jam Records as a solo artist in 2009.

Frustrated with the lack of movement on the label’s part, Ocean, while gaining acclaim recording with Odd Future on various releases, recorded the mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra and released it to Tumblr without any self-promotion whatsoever.

The mixtape became a HUGE hit, finally kickstarting Ocean’s career and forcing Def Jam to actually work with him, resulting in the release of Channel Orange. Of the many accolades it’s gotten, my favorite has to be from A.V. Club, where reviewer Stephen Hyden called the album “dark, playful, a little tasteless, and absolutely riveting.”

That pretty much sums up my own feelings on this. Ocean’s vocals are awesome and his lyrics are like no one else’s in the R&B/rap world right now. My favorite tracks? “We All Try,” a hymnlike creed about perseverance in the face of homophobia and other ills, and “Novacane,” a tale of Ocean’s hooking up with a girl at Coachella and getting high on, well, novacaine.

Plans for tracks from this album to be released as an EP by Def Jam have been scrapped, but luckily you can still find it for free in many places. A lot of them are legit, don’t worry. 🙂 If you, like me, don’t have the money to spend on Channel Orange, but still want to hear some good modern R&B, this is the stuff. Check it out.

Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series–Review

Howdy folks, meant to review another CD–technically a mixtape–but I havent finished listening to it yet. SO instead, you’re getting this. OK? OK.

I think you’re pretty hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of Doctor Who . The 50+ year old series–this boxset is labeled sixth because it’s the sixth series (UK term for season) since the show’s revival in 2005–is an institution in its native Britain, known in most if not all English-speaking countries, and is now very popular in America.

In fact, a huge chunk of this series’ opening two-parter “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” was filmed in Washington D.C. and Monument Valley, Utah, with the results looking wonderful and breathtaking. It is worth noting though that the principal Americans in the 60s’-based story, FBI agent Canton Delaware and President Nixon, are played by the British Mark Shephard and Stuart Milligan respectively.

That opening two-parter sets up a major bomb. The Doctor–the 900+ year old cosmic wanderer played here by Matt Smith–is killed, but his companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillian), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and River Song (Alex Kingston) see him alive not long after. They realize that the Doctor they saw die is a Doctor from the future and, tasked with not telling the Doctor of his own future, they let that plot thread linger and build through 13 episodes to an explosive, unforgettable end.

This is the 2nd series of the show helmed by writer Steven Moffat, with Moffat writing over half of the episodes. Moffat is a good showrunner; he builds a propulsive story, but comes up with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, which is exactly what you want with a compulsive mystery. The non-Moffat written episodes, particularly “The Girl Who Waited” and “Closing Time” are pretty fun as well, and both sides add up to prove that this show is the king of adventure shows.

The acting is great-Smith gets better in every episode, and the three companions and the guest stars–especially James Corden in “Closing Time” are wonderful too, all having great chemistry.

Is this the series you need to seek out to get into the show? I wouldn’t say so; I think you’re better off going back to the previous season and watching Matt Smith evolve his Doctor in every episode. But this is a nice reward when you get to it.