Geek Cred.

Inspired by my pal Greg Burgas’s unabashed confession, I now present to you what I like and don’t like in the world of nerdery and general dorkitude, what has made me the pop culture maven I am today and why I don’t care if you like it or not…

As far back as I can remember, my life has had comic books in it. I have dozens of big, white longboxes filled to near-bursting with the things. Hell, I even owned a comic book store for a while (and yet I’m surprisingly trim, hygienic and well-socialized). Yet I cannot, for the life of me, remember what my “first” comic book was. I always reference these four:

They’re the four comics that seem to have been in my collection the longest and they all come from around the same time…1977…which would have made me 5 or 6 years old and within early reading age. However, it’s more likely that my first comic book starred either Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge or Richie Rich. I may not have read Dark Knight Returns until 2001, but I had HUNDREDS of Richie Rich comic books…you can click on pretty much any title in this list and find a book that I owned. I also owned stacks upon stacks of every Disney Gold Key title, a bunch of Woody Woodpeckers, dozens of Bugs Bunny, Tom & Jerry and Scooby-Doo comics, even a few Yogi Bear books from Charlton (I specifically remember this one)!

As sparkling as that geek intro may be, there is a dark side to my comic readership. I’ve been reading and collecting comics for a bit over 30 years now and yet I’ve never read Sandman or Sin City, have no interest in Love and Rockets or Cerebus and, aside from the premise of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, find Alan Moore’s writing to be incredibly boring. I read Watchmen, considered by many to be the pinnacle of Modern Age comics, once and don’t really remember the story at all.

Other comics I either dislike or have absolutely no interest in: Conan, Superman, Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Hellblazer, any war titles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Legion of Super-Heroes, most Western characters, Asterix, Tintin, and pretty much every “cosmic” character ever invented.

Conventional wisdom and the mainstream media seem to indicate that people who like comics are awkward victims of arrested development who still live in their parents’ basements and find their ultimate joy in all things based on either science or fantasy. Well, I wish to disprove that universal theory right now.

I have never and will never read a Harry Potter book. I know nothing about Pokemon, Naruto or the Power Rangers. I am not a Star Trek fan…I’ve seen the show many times, much like I’ve seen Happy Days, MASH, Love Boat, Magnum PI, Sha Na Na, Carol Burnett, Hogan’s Heroes, McHale’s Navy, My Favorite Martian, Mork & Mindy, Alice, Starsky & Hutch, Bosom Buddies, Remington Steele, Mr. Belvedere, Too Close For Comfort, Moonlighting, 21 Jump Street, Silver Spoons, Benson, The Fall Guy, Three’s Company, Married…With Children, Knight Rider, and Family Ties…they were on television and my parents controlled the set. What’s a boy to do?

The Greatest American Hero and Buck Rogers were probably the first live-action genre shows that I enjoyed, alongside syndicated runs of Batman and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. And I vaguely remember watching Space:1999. But I also enjoyed watching reruns of The Munsters, Perry Mason and Divorce Court while visiting my grandmother. I grew up watching Charlie Chan movies, Abbott & Costello, The Bowery Boys and various Sunday afternoon showings of old horror movies, professional wrestling and Kung Fu Theater. Never had an interest in Highlander or Battlestar Galactica (except for the ridiculously bad 70s rendition) or Doctor Who (though I watched a few of the Tom Baker episodes with my mom…she’s the REAL geek). Don’t enjoy Stargate or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I preferred watching Star Blazers, Thundarr the Barbarian and GI Joe.

I will not read any of the Dune books, nor a single Stephen King or Anne Rice novel. Not a big Tolkien fan. Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison and Terry Pratchett do nothing for me. Don’t care about Terry Brooks or Anne McCaffrey. However, I do have an extensive collection of books from Michael Moorcock, Douglas Adams and Clive Barker (I guess I’m some sort of anglophile). I also own every Kurt Vonnegut book ever printed.

My favorite book of all-time is Lord of the Flies. My favorite film of all-time is Cool Hand Luke. My favorite current TV show is either Rescue Me or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (most major network stuff gives me the creeps). And the CD that has seen the most play in my collection is probably New Order’s Substance.

Loved the initial Star Wars trilogy. Saw the first movie 13 times during its original theater run. But I never once delved into any of the “expanded universe” offerings until the new Star Wars: Legacy comic book started last year.

I must confess that I had a serious obsession with D&D in its early days. My friends and I even created our own role-playing games. However, I think I was more interested in my fake persona collecting bizarre weaponry than I was in actually pretending to be an elf.

Now, video games are another story. They’ve been in my life nearly as long as comics…vague recollections of my father taping a colored vinyl overlay on our television screen so we could play Haunted House on our Magnavox Odysssey…I still own an Atari 2600, a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A, two Commodore 64s, the original Nintendo (with gun and robot), a Nintendo 64, Playstation, Playstation 2 and Xbox. I sadly sold my Sega Genesis. I had to return my ex-girlfriend’s Game Boy after nearly killing it with marathon days of Tetris. And my parents actually bought me a used stand-up arcade game from Hersheypark for one of my birthdays…a game called Naughty Boy that involved throwing rocks at monsters in castles. I loved that damn game.

I don’t appreciate emo, metal, classic rock or goth music (unless you consider Nine Inch Nails any of those) and I absolutely HATE country. My friend once bought me a Uriah Heep CD as a joke. The performer whose music I own the most of is Frank Sinatra. I also have the complete works of both the Beastie Boys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The first album I ever bought with my own money was News of the World by Queen. I used to host a hip-hop radio show and LOVED late-80s/early-90s rap music until something snapped in my head and it all started to sound the same, now I can’t listen to any of the new garbage. I think the geekiest music I own is a boxed set of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack imported from Hong Kong. That’s pretty bad, huh?

I own quite a few action figures and a good percentage of them are still in their original packaging, but they’re nothing compared to the many, many figures I owned as a kid. And most of them focus on specific characters rather than a full line of toys for the sake of completing some nebulous collection. Of course, I also had Legos, Lincoln Logs, Hot Wheels and bunches of sports equipment growing up.

Oh yes, I enjoy sports! I LOVE college sports, especially football (I’m a University of Miami alum). Been to many professional baseball games. Had season tickets to the short-lived XFL. I used to play volleyball rather competitively…I even own regulation sand court rope lines. And I’ve enjoyed my fair share of both pool and darts while downing my favorite beer. But I had successfully, and with much personal pride, avoided ever going bowling in my entire life…until my oldest boy had a “father-son” outing in preschool two years ago.

To dissuade another geek stereotype, I’ve had at least a half dozen real-life, long-term girlfriends…one of them was even a cheerleader and Broadway performer. I’ve dated models and athletes. And I eventually married an older woman!

I hate reality television unless it involves washed-up celebrities or cooking. I watch a lot of comedy specials. I enjoy a good meal and have a subscription to Food & Wine magazine. My DVR is programmed to record both Hell’s Kitchen and Top Chef.

My schooling and career path have put me in touch with a lot of great things like successful logo design, pop culture essayists, books about branding and marketing, the AMC original series Mad Men, Chip Kidd and Kyle Cooper (look him up). I enjoy reading history books that involve weird bits of the past like insurance fraud, mobsters, and the United Fruit Company. I also own a couple sociology textbooks.

I know a lot of weird stuff because I did well in school and I absorbed things through a semi-photographic memory. I’m really good at trivia games and can go to the supermarket, fill up a cart and know the exact total (with sales tax) when I reach the checkout. Plus, I used to be a member of MENSA but I didn’t feel like paying the dues anymore.

Oh, and I lived with my parents until I was 25…but never in their basement. And I did leave them to go live with my now-wife in a house in fabulous Las Vegas. So there!

That’s my geek manifesto. What’s yours?

The Joke’s On You, Batman!

This latest Dark Knight poster really got my sense of design all excited. I like things that have layers, because I’m a deeply troubled person. Some day you’ll see. THEY’LL ALL SEE!

On a related note, there are a bunch of new spots out for the movie, plus a story on Christopher Nolan’s process in the latest issue of WIRED and a write-up about Heath Ledger’s performance in this week’s Entertainment Weekly. The DVD of Batman: Gotham Knight comes out tomorrow featuring animated stories similar in theory to that Animatrix collection that was out a few years ago.

And, to top all of that, we’re deconstructing Batman, his friends and his enemies for the next two weeks over at Meanwhile…Comics!

So there.

Meanwhile…Comics!

Some friends and I have started a new blog dedicated to the history, the characters and the storylines of our favorite comics (which is exactly what this blog was supposed to be, but I got distracted). The three of us have been collecting comic books for decades and we have all worked in various comic book stores, so we definitely have the breadth of experience and depth of exposure to the examine the medium effectively.

If you’re a fan of comics and want to join our discussions, feel free to click the banner below…

Meanwhile...Comics!

If you don’t know how to click, just go to meanwhilecomics.com

Also, if any of you access this site through the old comicriot.com address, I will soon be redirecting that URL to the Meanwhile…Comics! site. The regular pop culture snarkiness will continue here as scheduled. Thanks for your time and I hope you enjoy the new site as much as you detest this one.

Geeks of the world unite!

Comics and Cartoons!

While I’m still painstakingly crafting a “review” of the new Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon, I wanted to chime in on some other greatness that is taking place.

First of all, I bought the Season One DVD of Frisky Dingo. That show is ridiculous.

Secondly, Season Three of Venture Brothers launches on June 1st.

Dr. Venture bleeds like the rest of us.

Thirdly, during their recent upfront, Cartoon Network announced a new show called Batman: The Brave and the Bold . The show promises to feature guest stars such as Green Arrow, Blue Beetle, Green Lantern and Aquaman. The style is reminiscent of those horrible 70’s Filmation cartoons featuring the ever illuminating Bat-Mite (but I won’t hold that against them).

Where's Ollie's beard?

And lastly, it seems that the “creative” force behind Smallville is calling it quits. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, after begging the network for an 8th season, have decided to take the money and run while they still have a scrap of their good names left (something to do with rats and a sinking ship). Honestly, I stopped watching the show regularly partway through Season Two. It just seemed kind of emo for my tastes. A team of producers has been named the new show runners. They’ve collectively written for the show for six years and produced it for four…which, in my view, pretty much lines up with how long the show has been, uh, not good. Ah well, the show ought to fit in nicely with The CW’s announcement of a revamped Beverly Hills 90210. Yikes.

Best Webcomics EVER.

I’m gonna take what bloggers call “the easy road” and just make a list for today. This would be the blogging world’s equivalent of a Brian Michael Bendis comic book…some random words with no defining characteristics mixed in with pretty pictures that someone of far greater talent was able to muster. Excellent!

So, after about 25 minutes of intense research, I give you the deadbeatJONES Top 10 Webcomics in the World list:

Perry Bible Fellowship

#10 – Perry Bible Fellowship

Nicholas Gurewitch puts out an often disturbing, always funny strip that will see its first printed collection released soon. The comic is interesting because Gurewitch is able to switch up his styles so easily from strip to strip, allowing for one gag to reflect some sort of wood-cut enlightenment look while the next morphs into something mercifully left out of the children’s board game Candyland.

A Softer World

#9 – A Softer World

Three-panel gags created from real photos and cut-and-paste typewriter missives form the basis of Emily Horne’s and Joey Comeau’s work. Subtle and charming would be two words someone may use to describe these comics. I wouldn’t say that, because I’m far too macho. I’m gonna go with “rad” and…uh…”boss.” Yeah.

Dinosaur Comics

#8 – Dinosaur Comics

Ryan North proves that dinosaurs can be funny even when a Canadian writes all their jokes. Every single comic follows pretty much the same format: T Rex asks a question, smashes a house and argues with an other dinosaur. Simple comedic brilliance (though it sounds eerily similar to the format According to Jim used).

Dr. McNinja

#7 – Dr. McNinja

The Something Awful forums coughed up this complete and utter mayhem set up in a comic book format. He’s a doctor. He’s a ninja. He’s currently investigating a zombie outbreak that has normal citizens dressed in astronaut gear to avoid being bitten. Oh, and then there’s Bee-Man who’s caught in purgatory.

White Ninja Comics

#6 – White Ninja Comics

He’s retarded (in a good way). And poorly drawn on purpose (I hope). But he gets himself into the stupidest situations that you just have to laugh at. Unless you’re a heartless shrew. Or a child who can’t quite read yet. Or the other four people who read this blog.

PVP Online

#5 – PvP

Scott Kurtz’s magnum opus about the staff at a gaming magazine combines nearly all the qualities I enjoy in online comics reading: geeks, pop culture references and sarcasm. And most of the strips are now available in printed form too, so you can un-jack your head from the grid for a few moments and actually live in the real world.

Sh*thouse!

#4 – Sh*thouse! (via Pipingrad)

It’s been about four years since Phillip Jackson put up a new strip, but even though it’s dead I still think it’s funnier than almost anything else out there. The two main characters are round blobs with tiny lines for arms and legs and yet they manage to be crass and expressive and destructive with ease.

Thingpart

#3 – Thingpart

I just stumbled across this site yesterday. The strips start off innocently enough, but the final panels always give you something you didn’t expect. It’s the TWIST that gets you…like saying out loud what you’re actually thinking without feeling bad about it.

Order of the Stick

#2 – Order of the Stick

This is my guilty pleasure. Unless you’re a roleplaying fan (like Mystery, The Pickup Artist) you might not get some of the arcane references in this comic. This is another one that has been collected in a series of books for your reading ease. I would have shown one of the strips above, but they’re way too big to paste in. Simple stick figures never had so much drama.

Penny Arcade

#1 – Penny Arcade

Sure, it may seem like a cop-out, considering it’s pretty much known as the most popular comic on the internet, but I like it. I may not understand some of the computer or gaming lingo that they use but I know enough to be able to follow along. Plus, unlike PvP which only covers most of the things I like, Penny Arcade covers them all: geeks, pop culture references, sarcasm, swearing, senseless violence and childish behavior. While reading these strips, I waver cautiously between wanting to befriend the two creators and wanting to punch them both in the taint. And that’s a good thing.

It’s A Long Story, But…

Jeez, you take a few days off from a blog and suddenly everyone thinks something happened to you. Calm down, people. I’m not lost in the treacherous mountains of Bhutan or buried beneath tons of rock and soil on an archeological dig for the lost continent of Atlantis. I just have the attention span of a coked up gnat. Don’t you understand that yet?

Evidently, I missed the chance to talk about a bunch of stuff that seems to be on everyone’s minds these days…OJ, Britney, the Emmys, sub-prime mortgage fraud, the upcoming hour-long Family Guy tribute to Star Wars, a ginormous typhoon that’s going to wipe out half of China and what’s going on with Phyllis on Young and the Restless.

But let’s be honest. I was never going to talk about those pedestrian matters anyway. I go for the interesting and hard-hitting news items. That’s why, right now, I’m going to attempt to string together seven completely unrelated news items into one dazzling post that will climb inside your head and kick your mind’s ass. Here goes nothing…

fits in the palm of your hand.

Would you like to play a game?

A 30 year-old Chinese man died at an Internet cafe after playing an online game for three days straight. I guess he ran out of extra lives! HA! See what I did there? I took a sad story and, by putting a bit of video game referencing humor in it, I made it an even sadder story. Just call me the “David Copperfield of Words.” Three days straight, huh? Hell, I’m surprised everyone else in the place didn’t die from his body odor first! ZING! I got a million of them. Seriously though, I can’t think of a single game that could keep me occupied for three straight days unless I really had nothing else to do with my life. Sure, my buddy and I stayed up for nearly 24 hours playing one of the Ultima titles back in the day, but all we got was a little giggly once we finally wandered back out into the sunlight to have breakfast. I would just feel guilty for playing a game that long. Like, I think I would come to the eventual realization that I should probably be doing something…ANYTHING…else.

big Mac(k) truck

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a four-wheel drive chassis

Of course, if the guy had known that you can now order from McDonald’s over your cell phone, he may have survived a bit longer. (And no, despite how incredibly believable that photo is, McDonald’s does not deliver monster-sized Big Macs. Yet.). Seriously. Have we become that time-consumed as a society that we need to be in our car, speeding to Mickey D’s, with a cell phone jammed in one ear, shouting out an order to some pimply-faced teen just so we can swoop in and pick it up without breaking stride? Wouldn’t it be even faster if we could hire someone to chew the food for us first and then run alongside us and spit it in our gaping maw while we hurry to our next can’t-miss appointment? Fuck it. For that matter, why not just get a slow-drip special sauce IV that you can tap directly into your veins? Americans are lazy bastards.

kick-off

And that’s for winking at me!

Except for one: Chuck Norris. That’s right, Chuck Norris is in Iraq right now visiting some bases at the request of the US military. He reports that it’s “much safer” and “more relaxed” than often portrayed by the “liberal media.” Sure it is, Chuck. And it’s because everyone is afraid you’ll roundhouse kick their faces off! All the terrorists probably dug their own graves and lay shivering in them, soaked in their own tepid urine, just waiting for you to leave. Nothing puts the fear of God into terrorists (or the liberal media) quite like Chuck Norris.

as God is my witness...

And I’m suing George Burns for all the secondhand cigar smoke

In fact, Chuck may have to act as a stand-in for God if a Nebraska state senator has his way. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sen. Ernie Chambers is suing God. It’s the perfect cherry on top of the frivolous lawsuit sundae, if you ask me. Of course, I’m a liberal atheist, so you probably don’t want to talk to me anyway. But it makes sense. I mean, everyone calls floods and hurricanes and Uwe Boll films “acts of God.” That, technically, makes God a mass-murderer or at the least a really big jerk. Imagine the stories the public defender attached to the case will be able to tell. “Yeah, I’m such a good lawyer, I was picked to defend God. And I have a huge penis. Who wants my phone number?” It’ll be interesting to see if God shows up for the proceedings.

is Ned Beatty in this one?

Does the blood pouring out of my eyes count?

I doubt he will. Because if there were a God, then Bloodrayne II: Deliverance would’ve never been made. And I can’t believe I just referred to Uwe Boll twice. I hope he doesn’t challenge me to a boxing match. This guy has become such a hack that he’s making up sequels to movies no one saw in the first place. I guess Michael Madsen and that chick from T3 determined that this could actually damage their sparkling careers, so they were replaced by Michael “Eddie and the Cruisers” Pare and the pseudo-lesbian villain from Elektra. Wow. How do these things get greenlit? There must be something in the Hollywood water.

Stephen King never looked so good.

Yes, that’s a still from Creepshow. Wanna fight about it? 

Or maybe it’s just a meteorite like the one that recently crashed in Peru. People in the area reported feeling sick and tired. And they weren’t going to take it anymore. Then one of them sprouted claws and started calling everyone “bub,” another one learned to control the weather and a third one started shooting red beams from his eyes. Peru is fucking crazy. Don’t go there. That single meteorite could wipe out mankind as we know it.

Y? Because we love you.

A guy and his monkey walk into a bar…

And then all we’d be left with is Shia LeBeouf. Yes, Mr. Holes is reportedly interested in taking the lead role in the movie adaptation of the Y: The Last Man comic book series. As I’ve said before, I enjoy Shia’s performances. I also happen to be a big fan of the book. And, from what I’ve heard, that Disturbia movie that Shia did with the same director was a pretty cool flick. Huzzahs for everyone!

And with that…I actually did it. I merged seven idiotically divergent stories into one meaningful and heartwarming post. I am a lingual genius. A master of phrase, if you will.

Please send me money.