I finished typing my previous post and realised that I’d been locked out of my house. No joke. My kids are all in school and they have the house key with them. That’s not a problem as it simply means that I have some extra time to read and blog. Here’s one thing I want to talk about – I hate Facebook. I’m serious. Facebook destroyed my hobby for blogging. Time was, I’d blog about everything. I think the most active period of my blogging was when I was maintaining about 3 separate blogs at the same time. It was a time when my life was very compartmentalised. I had my law studies blog, my spy novel reviews blog, my superhero comic blog and also a religious blog. Oh yes, I also wrote a vampire/horror blog. Then there was Facebook. Initially, you couldn’t write long entries on Facebook. You could only write 40 or so characters. In short, you couldn’t blog on Facebook status updates, you could only write short tweets. Then they allowed lengthy entries and I started writing stories about where I went for breakfast and the weird characters that I bump into every morning. It turns out that I quickly had a huge following of people who looked forward to reading these ‘breakfast adventures’ that I posted every other morning. The thing about Facebook is that when one posts a typed entry or a photo of oneself (no, I refuse to say selfie – it’s just one of those made up words now accepted as popular urban slang that I hate), one gets instant responses from an ever-hungry audience of ‘Like’-clickers who sometimes also supply comments in typed responses. A pastor friend of mine who seemingly lived to court controversy with his ultra-Calvinistic doctrines had since moved his theological fights out of the churches that he preaches in and his own rambling blog onto Facebook. For someone who loves controversies and debates as much as he does, Facebook is like the ultimate theological dissenter’s wet-dream come true!
As for me, Facebook has become too intimately linked to my work life that it’s often created a restraint on my personal reflections and writings. After all, however eccentric I am, when hundreds of my students (not to mention my colleagues and bosses) are linked to me on Facebook, I really do have to watch what I say. I once made the mistake of inviting students to join my tutorial classes and that got me into endless troubles with other lecturers who thought that I was stealing their students away from them! Since then, my Facebook posts have been largely very polite (read: exhibiting politically correct and socially pleasing viewpoints). Yes, Facebook posts enable me to be as pretentious as I want to be online – in effect, creating the myth of a liberal-minded, well-read and well-adjusted law lecturer. Well, I said it was ‘pretentious’ but I think there really is an aspect of me that fits that persona. It’s not all an act. It’s just that I’m really not as well-adjusted as that persona seems to be trying to show to the world at large.
Well, that’s the back story behind my decision to kick-start this old blog all over again. Here, I can talk about all the things that I’m passionate about – from weird religious views to alien conspiracies to crappy comics to high-brow poetry and high quality erotica. I can also write rambling posts like this one about nothing important at all.
Thing is, I’m stuck in Starbucks on my off day. I’ve got my new pair of shoes for company and the new issue of the UK Comic Heroes magazine (issue 22). The mag is put out by the same folks who bring us glossy science fiction and movie-themed mags like SFX, Empire or Total Film (I think – well, they all have the same format and the editors/writers are all from the same country, right?). Time was, I read Wizard magazine every month. It was everything I need to know about the comic industry in one nice and affordable polybagged package every month. The first issue I bought had Roger Cruz’s X-Man (aka Nate Grey) on the cover along with a Witchblade chromium trading card. A couple of years ago, Wizard ceased publications. Well, I told myself that I could always rely on online comics news portals like Comic Book Resources or Newsarama but who am I kidding? There’s nothing like a printed mag that I can take with me to the men’s room, right? Thankfully, the nice folks in the UK woke up one day and discovered that fandom extended beyond Doctor Who. The result - Comic Heroes, a high-quality (albeit high-priced) monthly mag covering everything from Marvel and DC to the independents and, you guessed it, Doctor Who! I don’t buy every single issue (the sixty bucks price tag in my country is a strong deterrent, I guess) but when I do, my wife and kids can’t keep their hands off the publication. Thankfully, I’ve got a whole afternoon in Starbucks with the special spy-themed 22nd issue celebrating everything from old James Bond comic strips to Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D., Modesty Blaise, Black Widow and the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier flick (coming in April 2014).
Unlike Wizard, there’s a lot less toilet humour and fanboy idiocy in this publication from our British cousins. Like everything British, it’s a little more stuffy and cerebral. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We get more lit-crit-esque coverage of classic stuff like Steranko’s Nick Fury run or Ed Brubaker’s noir-inspired titles post-Captain America. Like I said, content-wise, it’s a lot more cerebral and (dare I say it) makes comic books look more respectable. The thing is, the mag feels like my Facebook posts. Polished, cleaned-up and well-adjusted. Tie-wearing, shoe-laced and ironed shirted. Polite, sophisticated and well-read. But, again like all things British, just a tad pretentious and false.
I mean, it’s called the funnybooks for a reason. For instance, my academic side can probably analyse the shit out of the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier film by making references to established history, Cold War espionage, geopolitical conflicts, and the film’s fidelity to its source material – namely, the now-classic run of issues by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. But there’s another side to it. That’s the side that drags my lazy bum out of the house to the cineplex to queue up for a ticket. That’s the side that’s in the cineplex to see Cap throw his shield at the resurrected Bucky aka Winter Soldier and the latter catching it with one hand (and then throwing it back at Cap). It’s the fanboy-side that’s there for the COOL and AWESOME shit. No academic pretensions. Just my inner child (is there really an outer adult?) screaming like a pimply and bespectacled girl getting a date on prom night when I see the Falcon take flight for the first time or the Helicarrier in flames crashing into a building.
Hey, don’t blame me for refusing to grow up. My generation grew up believing that an adult popstar can continue to live in Neverland. Of course, we later found out how that same popstar bleached his skin and took little boys to bed with him – but that’s another story altogether. What I mean is this – we grew up singing: “I don’t want to grow up. I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid!” My wife and I still make our weekly pilgrimages to Amcorp Mall with the kids (whenever I’m in the country, that is) to check out all the cool toys from the 1980′s on sale in the flea market on weekends. Just last month, the inner child in me mourned the passing of Harold Ramis – we knew him as Egon Spengler, the coolest Ghostbuster of them all! I mean, Egon was like Mister Fantastic, MacGyver and Doctor Emmett Brown (from Back to the Future) all rolled into one. He taught us kids that being interested in science was cool – leave football to the jocks, they’ll grow up to be nobodies anyway!
I wanted to write about the upcoming Captain America film but ended up talking about pretentious Facebook postings and pretentious British comic mags. Anyhow, I’m still really excited about the film. Here’s what Ed Brubaker has to say about it:
“I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say yet, but what I will say is that with everything I’ve seen and the script that I’ve read: It’s the best movie that they’ve ever made… I was blown away, being on the set and getting to meet Redford and watching them do this stuff. The movie isn’t a scene-for-scene adaptation of the comic by any means but there is a lot of the comic in the movie. There’s certain moments in the movie where I’m just, ‘Shit, that’s what I wrote.’ I’m really thrilled about it, I could not be happier, honestly. It came out so good. Thank god it has the same name as the book and Marvel is putting out that nice deluxe hardback which hopefully the bookstores will realize that’s the one to push on people. I’m hopeful that this is their new model because say what you will about the Watchmen movie, but they sold a million copies of Watchmen. (And I liked the movie.) I’m thrilled, I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait for the premiere, to see the final cut of it with all the special effects and everything.”
The above excerpt was from Brubaker’s interview with IGN. He said pretty much the same thing in the issue of Comic Heroes that I just browsed through. In fact, he even compared the script to the Dark Knight Trilogy (which I’m not really a fan of, although I know that everyone thinks it’s the high watermark for superhero comic adaptations). Knowing that Brubaker doesn’t really hype about stuff (and he’s no longer even exclusively writing for Marvel anymore), if the script actually got him speaking in hyperbolic praise, I’m definitely buying a ticket. No. I’m definitely buying seven tickets – for myself and my entire family of comic geeks. In the meantime, I’ll probably re-read Brubaker’s run (along with his excellent The Marvels Project that seems to get better with every re-read).
In the meantime, here are the two trailers released so far: