Tag Archives: Criticism

“Webcomics” book review

I found Sean Kleefeld‘s recent book Webcomics very interesting reading, despite being a webcomic… critic? skeptic? curmudgeon? Probably that last one.

I’m not opposed to webcomics. I have read various, including the (NSFW and age-restricted) OGLAF. But I still think Strong Bad E-mail #181 was and remains persuasive in pouring cold water on webcomics.

All of which I bring up in order to establish that, for anyone aware that the author has been an online friend going back to the previous century, FYI I was not pre-sold on his new book.

Despite which Webcomics was still a worthwhile purchase, impressive and offering much interest.

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Millennium (TV series)

I have gradually worked my way through most of the late-1990s series Millennium, over the past year and a half. For various reasons I have skipped a few episodes, but I can evaluate the series from the pilot through the final episode.

Conclusion: good, interesting, holds up well. Might have gone in some very promising directions had it not been cancelled after season 3.

I remember the series from back then, and I caught some or all of a few episodes. Enough that I suppose it made some kind of impression on me, to be recalled more than a dozen years later browsing DVDs in the library. (I miss browsing in the library although I’m not going back any time soon.) The episodes I watched on the scratched-to-hell library DVDs interested me enough that eventually I asked for the complete series when trying to think of gift ideas, and here we are.

Millennium is/was obviously making-it-up-as-they-went-along fiction, which has various uses for a serialized work; viewed as a whole, the absence of any firm master plan is not really a strength, but is less of a fault than might have been the case, given the intentional themes of mystery, conspiracy and questioning what’s real.

Ultimately Millennium lacks firm answers or closure, in much of any form, because its fundamental story was pre-millennial eschatology and it was cancelled several months before the year 2000. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Merry Christmas, Flashbeagle!

As an adult, my interest in Christmas comes and goes, comparing any given year to another. Some years, I just don’t feel it.

This year, I feel relatively positive about (essentially secular eclectic) Christmas. Life, and the world, are in interesting places, about which more can be said another time. But relatively not terrible. Christmas demands upon me are few, and I am pleased with the modest activities that I choose. My cards are coming along. I found some nice things for the small number of people to whom I give presents. I didn’t leap into the task of putting up decorations, but I feel an odd satisfaction this year each time I look at my little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, even though I have changed nothing about the set-up in years.

Speaking of Charlie Brown and Christmas, this weekend I splurged on my own copy of the classic TV special.

I have thought about this over the years, and never quite wanted to spend the money on something which I only want to watch once per year, which is reliably televised for free around that time. But I suppose that 1) I really only want to watch it when I feel like watching it, not within ~10 days of that; 2) ABC’s cutting of scenes in order to squeeze in an extra commercial was really starting to bug me; and 3) the price was pretty reasonable at last.

On balance it was very reasonable, in fact, providing DVD and blu-ray versions of the Charlie Brown Christmas, the forgettable sequel, and Flashbeagle. That last basically made the whole purchase worthwhile, I have now decided.

http://popdose.com/wp-content/uploads/flashbeagle-front-300x296.jpg

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Doom vs Hope (Dr. Doom, that is)

Dr. Doom was one of my favorite comic book villains almost from the very start.

I have forgotten whether Fantastic Four #200 was the first or second issue of the series that I acquired, but it was certainly among my earliest purchases, generally, when I began collecting comic books beyond the Transformers series. It was a splendid superhero book, and obviously I perceived greatness in its villain, and I still do. Many have written appreciations of Dr. Doom over his half-century existence, and I could happily reiterate the character’s established strengths. Instead, though, I want to focus on an aspect that I’m not sure I have seen highlighted before, at least not from this angle.

Cover of FF 200 by Kirby and Sinnott

I bought this as a back issue of course, probably around 1990

A couple of weeks ago, fellow alumnus of Fantastic Four fandom Sean argued that recent adaptations have mislaid the optimism which is as much a key to the concept as elemental superpowers or familial bickering. I thought it was a very valid observation about the Fantastic Four as characters and series. (I have not seen the films, though I suspect the analysis hits its target there as well.) More recently, this proposal inspired a sort of corollary involving the series’ premier villain: part of what makes Dr. Doom a great foil for the FF is a contrasting pessimism intrinsic to his own character.

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“Is it Fall Yet” at 15

After 15 years, I think I have finally come to a rounded appreciation of the Daria sub-epic which climaxes in “Is it Fall Yet.”

I hated this story when it was new. I know that I was not alone, either. “The whole Tom thing,” i.e. the soap-opera romantic triangle of Daria, Jane Lane and Tom Sloane, upset more than a few fans. Who was this tosspot, what about Trent, and most of all, what happened to the cool Daria who mocked life’s absurdities rather than becoming a performer in them? I considered this departure from the early seasons’ approach to be a sellout and a travesty.

Gradually my opinion has shifted, particularly since I acquired the complete series on DVD a few years ago. I think I have mellowed a bit toward fiction, generally, for one thing. With an opportunity to reexamine later seasons at leisure, I also found more quality writing than I had remembered from spotty exposure during the initial broadcasts. I think “Fizz Ed” merits inclusion among a discussion of the series’ best, in particular.

As it happens, that was also the episode which finally persuaded me that Tom has redeeming qualities; at her insulted best, Daria is meta-complaining about how everyone thinks she does nothing but complain, upon which Tom looks up from the TV and very casually asks “…what are you bitching about now?” That’s just too perfect. For that alone, Tom could probably be forgiven for intruding upon everything after all.

So I kind of settled to the swerve of season four, and I think I began to feel that this whole storyline was part of the characters, and the canon, and that its absence would feel wrong, now, if only because of the nostalgia that the series has accrued for me. After watching “Is it Fall Yet” once more (along with its lead-in episode), however, I have as noted found a deeper appreciation of the story and its place.

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