After an almost three year hiatus (the last post came out on 4/30/14), I’ve decided to bring back my column “The Haul.” At its inception, I vowed to write something once a week. Not only did that not happen then, but I will not even pretend to make that claim again today. However, what I can promise is to pop in at least once a month for this new endeavor. When “The Haul” first debuted, it was meant as a place where I could talk about whatever was on my mind that week in the world of comics. Having that freedom was nice, but this next iteration will have better specified boundaries. By dropping a lens over this column, I can provide a clearer focus on what it is readers can expect.
I was in 9th grade when I wrote my first story that I didn’t think was complete shit. Up until then, I had this weird habit of burning every scrap I’d scribbled upon. Ideas ripped from movies and TV shows, fan-fiction that when I was writing I was sure was as good as the original work, they were all horrendous. I’d take the notebook pages back behind my parents’ house and set them ablaze with the red extended-reach lighter we kept in the drawer next to the stove. As the ashes fell to the rocks at my feet, I remember feeling relieved. Hours of work rendered blackened clumps of nothingness, but it didn’t matter. At least now no one could read the drivel. Then came the night I wrote Them, an end of the world alien story that had themes and semi-realistic characters, and I did something I’d not done before: I shared my story.
Above is a scene from the MAS*H episode “Run for the Money.” Charles Emerson Winchester III has taken notice of a wounded soldier who is constantly degraded by his commanding officer and fellow comrades for his stuttering. Rather than argue back with those poking fun, he buries his nose into comic books because why should he read anything else? He’s been called a dummy for so long that he considers himself exactly that. Enter Winchester, who notices that the soldier’s IQ is actually well above normal. This kid is no fool. While Winchester admits to reading some Captain Marvel, himself, he explains that comic books are these lesser stories, and he hands the soldier a beautiful copy of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. It, he continues, is something worthy of the kid’s intellect.
Of the stories I know thus far, this next chapter brings me into what may be my favorite era in the Star Wars timeline. Last week I talked about the Dawn of the Jedi, an era set less in absolutes and more between the shades of gray. Had Dark Horse not lost the rights to Star Wars and Disney not discontinued the “Legends” line (the name given to every story other than the six films, The Clone Wars movie and animated series, Disney’s Rebels, and all the books published before the release of John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn) I’m sure there would have been more novels and comics set during the period. With more material, I could easily see that becoming another favorite of mine. Alas, that age has drawn to a close, and we are entering the Old Republic Era, beginning 5000 years Before the Battle of Yavin (BBY).
The comics’ timeline gives Tales of the Jedi as beginning in 5000 BBY, and the book timeline gives John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe of the Sith: The Collected Stories as taking place that same year (well, the first part of the novel–it makes several time jumps).
As I stated last week, if a novel and a comic take place in the same year, I will read the novel first, so I started with Lost Tribe and found that it opens a little after the first volume of Tales of the Jedi. By the time the book begins, Naga Sadow had already come to power, and the comics shows his rise to Dark Lord of the Sith.
As has been overstated to the point of nausea, I’m a Star Wars fan. From the moment I first watched The Return of the Jedi, I was hooked. [It took a few years and much maturing to finally realize that it was actually The Empire Strikes Back that had the most significant impact on me.] I remember perusing through my grade school library in Wheatland, Wisconsin and finding a copy of Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers. It wouldn’t be until many years later–around the time of my Junior year in high school–that I’d read the novel, but finding the book sitting in the small alcove was my first hint of the world beyond George Lucas’ movie franchise. Continue reading Discovering the History of the Star Wars EU: Dawn of the Jedi
Perhaps had we not had three fantastic episodes in a row to open season five, Beth’s Adventures in Slabtown may not have felt as dull and dragged out as it did last night. I can’t remember the last time I spent watching the clock more than the actual show, but, man, those minutes were ticking in cement, like quicksand through an hourglass. I do feel bad that the first episode I choose to start my (hopefully) weekly Walking Dead review series on happened to be one I struggle to find even a handful of redeeming qualities about; however, reflecting on the negative aspects of one of everyone’s (myself included) favorite show may be beneficial. We know this team can pump out engaging stories and phenomenal filmwork, but what happens when they slip? Did they become complacent in hoping the success of the previous three episodes would carry the show over episode four’s stumble? And what about the framework for the foreseeable future?
As so many of us do, I constantly find myself reevaluating what I consider to be my favorite comic series, writer, artist, publisher, etc. Sure, I have my constants in each category, but determining which are my all-time favorites I find can vary day to day. Although there is one creator more so than all the others whose work I’m persistently attempting to rank: Alan Moore. Between V for Vendetta, From Hell, Watchmen, The Killing Joke, The Saga of the Swamp Thing, and, of course, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, fewer comic creators have as prolific a bibliography as Moore. When working with such a catalog, it makes sense for there to be some confusion, right? RIGHT?!?
It seems superheroes and comics have always been a part of my life. From Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to The Hulk, Captain America, and the X-Men, there is not a time I can remember when these characters weren’t known to me. However, my first experiences with these heroes did not come from comic books. Long before I found myself flipping through Detective Comics or The Avengers, I was attracted to a different story. Before there were superheroes, there were these funny pages detailing the life of a boy and his tiger.
I love creating lists. Don’t ask me why, but I love it. All through college I created To Do lists to keep my assignments in order, and I still do it today for my job. One of my favorite type of lists to make are Pull Lists. Now, I’m not talking about the short “What am I getting this week?” ones we do every Monday. The ones I’m talking about are my monthly pull lists. Every month after the publishers have released their solicitations, I study each one thoroughly. I look at things like plot description. Does the plot sound interesting? Are they finally ending a dull storyline? I also check out the creators. Did they switch up the crew and is that a good thing or not? Lastly, the cover. I know that the cover rarely adequately reflects what’s on the inside, but if it is a kick-ass cover, some times I’ll be swayed one way or the other.
Typically, I steer away from writing speculation pieces such as the article below, but this bug in my mind would not scurry away. I caught a glimpse of The White Rabbit and followed him down the rabbit hole. Some of the guys here on the site have said I’m giving DC too much credit (that’s one thing I’ve never heard said about me) while some others agree. Hear me out. These are my findings from my journey through the looking-glass.