Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Slice of Heaven, Slice Into the Woods 11/14/2014

(Sung to the tune of Prince’s “You Got the Look”) (Whoa! Sheena Easton’s hair rocks!)

Here we are folks, the books we all dream of
Wytch versus girl, in the middle of nowhere
Tell me, have you read the book?

You walk in, to your store
You’re tired of the normal stuff, it’s a bore
Baby, you need these books

The Fade Out’s got your back
Wytches’ll take you aback
Crucial, I think ya need ’em

Check out these books, they’ve got the hooks
Sho’nuff do be cookin’, have a look
Crime noir is jammin’, this horror’s heck-a-slammin’
Comics so good, let’s get to readin’
You need these books, you need these books

Hello there, Donist World denizens, and welcome back to Donist World. I am joined as ever by CFO Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier) and by marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / panic-mode negotiator Tulip (my dog, Obie’s sister). We are rushing like maniacs this week for many reasons. Papa Donist, Step-Momma Donist, Uncle Donist (x2), Aunt Donist, and Significant-Other-of-the-Uncle-of-the-Donist all came to town to visit, and I was unable to get my comic books until late yesterday. Thankfully there were only two books this week, but what great books they are!

Anyhow, Tulip and Obie just noticed a decrease in Donist World readership over the last month and a half, and they are worried about maintaining our status as a Fortune 320,000 company. A valid concern. Obie has even gone so far as to upgrade his patented Management By Dungeon Mastering system to version 2.0, and he has invested our limited Donist World cash into the development of a special set of three-sided dice, and issued a new set of character/employee sheets with additional attributes such as “interestingness,” “manipulatability,” and “trick-em-outta-their-cashedness.” I don’t agree with Obie’s methods, and there is no way in heck I’m going to allow him to write up a character sheet for me — I am his boss, after all — but I need to stop him before he sinks any money into DW dice bags or SIGG bottles or what have you. Ugh…anyhow, I know people are busy, and I’m kinda guessing the drop in readers has to do with my drop in interest and coverage of the Big Two offerings…that or those weird foreign spamming sites have figured out I’m not going to go to their links.

Shameless Plug Time – Also, please please please, support me by picking up my all-ages novel Kibbles ’N’ Bots, which is available on the Kindle for at most $2.99, or at the least for FREE through Kindle Unlimited, or FREE through the Amazon Prime Lending Library program. I’m proud of my book, and think you would all like it. Hey! Who doesn’t want to read a book about a superpowered Boston terrier puppy, and her know-it-all brother, who are inspired by comic books to fight a robot menace plaguing the city. Think of it this way: it’s like Angela’s Ashes only with Boston terrier puppies, robots, bad guys, joy, fun, adventure, action, comic books, and battles in outer space. See? Just like Angela’s Ashes. Anyways, on with the show…

Friday Slice of Heaven

***Possible Spoilers Below***

Wytches #1
Wytches #2 - Written by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Jock, colored by Matt Hollingsworth, lettered by Clem Robins, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. The first issue of Wytches was a trip and a half. It was frightening in both imagery and the progression of the reveals, wherein what we didn’t know was where the scares were to be found. The creators gave us scant glimpses into the old history of the woods, Sailor and her family’s past, and most creepy of all, what waits out in the trees. Having grown up in rural Ohio, this horror tale might as well have been written for me. I know all too well the feeling of playing in the woods, wading in the creek, with only the bullfrogs to keep me company. That is when you hear a twig snap, and spin to find…nothing there, nothing but the the sudden feeling that all eyes are upon you as the bullfrogs suddenly silence their barking croaks. This deep-seeded remembrance came crashing back decades later after reading that first issue. Now with the latest installment, Snyder and Jock show us what it is like when the twig snaps, you turn, and for the first time see a chittering shape lurking behind the nearby tree, before realizing the thing, whatever it might be, is not alone. That sense of being watched, of being stalked is exactly what reading an issue of Wytches is all about, and the creeping unease tingling through you with each turn of the page is too grand to risk putting the book down.

Something odd happened to Sailor Rooks the other night. She claims she was attacked by the girl, Annie, who vanished some while ago. Not even the doctors could explain the scratches and puncture marks on Sailor’s neck, and Sailor’s father, Charlie, and her uncle, Reg, are at a loss for what to do. But Sailor will not be the only one who believes there are terrible things lurking in the woods as a family member becomes all too aware.

This is horror, denizens! At least this is the type of horror I love. I don’t care for that splatter-gore nonsense, as it’s just gross, merely relying on cheap scares to make you jump or putting a character through something physically grotesque to make the audience wince — “Run, Suzie! Run! Argh! Oh no! My dingus in caught in this here bear trap set by the Riverbed Killer! Oh no!” Nah…that stuff is uninspired, weak. Real horror for me is not knowing what is happening, or why. When your senses are not quite fast enough to keep up with what is going on around you. Snyder and Jock know this, especially when you reach the full-page splash towards the end…<brrrrrrrrrr>. *You want scary? Try to locate the (sadly) hard-to-find movie Eyes of Fire (1983) and you will see what I mean. Super creepy.*

Aside from the scary nature of this title, there is also far more at play here. What is the deal with Charlie’s tattoo, and what happened to him years ago? How did Lucy become paralyzed, and what was it she saw lying in the road that night. What is going on with Dylan? Why is Sailor being targeted by Annie, or the wytches? But after reading this issue, the most important question that will linger in the back of your mind will be how long do I have to wait until issue three comes out?

Snyder continues to draw the reader into the story and despite a lot going on panel to panel, there are 25 pages of comics goodness (more than you typically get with the Big Two), this book was over way too fast. It felt like there were only five pages in this issue, which is not a knock on the creators or a statement accusing them of decompressed storytelling, but rather the reality that I was so thoroughly absorbed in the story that even if it were 100 pages, it would have been too short.

The art and colors are as strong as last issue, with brilliant character acting and storytelling, but it is the scenes in the pool and the woods that will give you pause. Hollingsworth’s colors are mesmerizing on the eerie, other-worldly pool scene when the demonic eye opens on Sailor’s neck, and Jock’s full-page splash of the woods, where the wytches peer from behind the scattered trees, is something I will forever imagine each time I look into a forest. C-R-E-E-P-Y in the best of ways.

If you like horror stories, good horror stories, then you simply must pick up these two issues as soon as possible, but with one warning: expect to be disappointed. I do not mean to say you will be disappointed with any aspect of the book itself — art, colors, story, characters, etc. — but by the fact you will desperately want more more more. Sorry, you’ll just have to wait like me, but what a grand wait it will be. Must reading. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Fade Out #3
The Fade Out #3 - Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics. Most everyone in Hollywood has a secret. One might be longing to return someplace long gone and forbidden by the authorities. Another might have a past best forgotten as they traversed their way to stand in for a dead starlet. Others are followed by past wrongs, one walks the hidden corridors linked to various dressing rooms, and another is happy as a clam knowing their ex will soon suffer great pains. Secrets…Hollywood is filthy with them.

In the first two issues, the creators introduced us to a host of players in this story and have thus far focused on a starlet who everyone thinks committed suicide, but in reality was murdered. In this issue, however, we steer mostly away from Charlie and Valeria Sommers to focus on both new characters and those who have skated mostly on the periphery of the story. What this means for the reader is that The Fade Out is not merely about the coverup surrounding the murder of a movie star, but equally so about each of the players at the movie studio, regardless of whether or not they were directly involved in Valeria Sommers’s death.

Brubaker and Phillips continue to introduce their readers to their world at a slow, deliberate pace, allowing the reader to settle into both the time period and the environment of the studio. We gain snippets of information about each character who comes our way, and although little is said about Valeria’s “suicide,” it is clear that each person has a possible motive to kill her. Brubaker lays out the past and the present, as Phillips either confirms what is written with his brilliant character acting, or completely contradicts what one character tells themselves through that same character acting — a character bites their lip, or their eyes narrow, or they look off to the side. What this means for the reader is that we can’t even trust what a particular character might be saying, and that the truth will rest in what we see.

The Fade Out is not one for the kiddies. It is pure adult, noir, crime drama fun, that is well-paced and beautifully portrayed. If you are a fan of Brubaker and Phillips’s other work, then this is a complete no brainer. If you like crime/noir/true Hollywood stories, this is also something you should seek out. If you are fan of Satellite Sam (TV studio drama from Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin…a Donist World favorite, btw) then you must seek this comic out. Yes, the story is a slow burn, but with this genre, I wouldn’t have it any other way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Slice Into the Woods

TIME Magazine’s Misleading/Misinformed Cover Story Concerning Teachers - I am referring to TIME’s story as corrected by the Washington Post’s article here and also by the Nancy F. Chewning’s beautifully-written and truthful response here. The cover story from TIME is yet another fictional and sensationalistic attempt to paint the myth that there scores of “Bad Apples” in teaching and that this is a rampant epidemic plaguing the nation and threatening to unravel the fabric of what makes ’Merica great, and that these “Bad Apples” are out to get your children by golly. This is not the reality of the situation.

Yes, there are some bad teachers out there, honestly, I have had a few, but you want to know something, denizens? That one teacher who bored me to tears for half a year did not have any degree of a lasting effect on me. You know what I did? First I remember complaining to my mom, who told me “Too bad, you still have to do your school work, turn in your assignments, and do well.” So, in spite of this dreadfully uninspiring teacher, who was honestly a very nice person, I studied and did well because of the support I had at home.

You want to know what kinds of “Bad Apples” actually negatively impacted me? Easy, there are many. The Wall Street white-collar sociopaths who tanked the world economy — none of whom have yet gone to prison, where they belong — destroyed our home equity, put us underwater, closed our “emergency fund” HELOC, damaged our retirement accounts, shuttered a business I worked for (to be honest, the owner was a egotistical moron who would have done that anyways), drove up food prices, drove up gas prices, and kept our wages relatively stagnant because of their actions. Then there’s that one “Bad Apple” doctor who performed the routine procedure that almost killed my ass, but, hey, who’s counting. Comparatively, that one boring teacher did very little.

And, no, the unions/tenure are not to blame. They protect ALL teachers, and there is room for improvement or revision, but without unions/tenure, those stellar teachers who REALLY DO AFFECT THEIR STUDENTS would be canned first. How could they not be? Every time there was a budget crisis — when isn’t there a budget crisis…another topic — the teachers who had been there the longest, the experts, would be let go first as they are the most expensive.

The reason teachers get such a bad rap is because they are one of the safest political areas of blame out there. “What about our children! The teachers are failing our children!” Nonsense. Wall Street criminals and those trying to privatize education so they can make tons of cash-money are the biggest threats to your children. Thank you Washington Post and Ms Chewning for shining a little light on the reality of the situation.


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