Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Journeyman’s Guide to Discovering New Music in the Digital Age

Yes, I'm back at BlogCritics. For, reasons. There are a few things I want to do that necessitate my return. And that'll do for an explanation for now.


A Journeyman’s Guide to Discovering New Music in the Digital Age

“Ways Internet users discover new music online” — Flickr user Ryan Van Etten

My love of music started as a wee lad in 1984. I was already listening to the radio at 8–9 years old. Thought there was some cool stuff out there then, sure. But, to quote John Wilkes Booth from the Broadway show Assassins, the thing that summed it all up and blew it all wide open was Prince’s (RIP) “Let’s Go Crazy.” From there, I heard a cassette of Purple Rain, front to back. And I didn’t look back.

My father (also RIP) also had a large hand in my music fandom. I spent many summers in Baltimore with my dad — and he worked full-time, leaving me home alone as a teenager during the day. When I wasn’t out walking around and exploring the nearby Belair district, I was poring through his record collection discovering all kinds of stuff. The Who. Pink Floyd. Parliament-Funkadelic. Led Zeppelin. Janis Joplin. Just me, his collection, a turntable, and all the time in the world to listen and study.

Taking all of that through the digital age and working my way up to writing for several websites and publications, I’ve interviewed countless artists and musicians at just about every level. All because that passion for music has never left. Which is why, with that introduction out of the way, I decided to share how I come across new music in the digital age.

Now, to be clear. By no means am I promoting my own method as the be-all-end-all process for music discovery. So, none of this “10 Tips YOU NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW!” business. I’m an individual. So are you. You could very well find another process that suits and works better for you. My goal here is simply to share my knowledge of over 32 years of fandom and 22 years of music journalism and to provide some suggestions in helping to find new music by sharing how I go about it.

It starts with keeping my eyes and ears open. I have satellite radio with presets for all types of genres. Hip-hop, rock, indie, even show tunes — you name it. The benefits of having a radio service should be fairly obvious. Terrestrial radio serves the same purpose, if that’s your thing. On occasion (read: when I’m in my wife’s car), I also exploit that.

Outside of radio, there are plenty of TV commercials and trailers that can be mined as well. For example, the first trailer for DC’s upcoming movie Suicide Squad featured an indelible version of the Bee Gees’ “I Started a Joke.” I knew of the song, but it was the singer I was most interested in. I found out who it was (for the record, ConfidentialMX feat. Becky Hanson) and now I have two artists I’m interested in hearing more from.

Twelve Foot Ninja: One of my many discoveries
No matter what source I may hear something from, the key is jotting down an artist or song name right quick. Notes apps are plentiful and can be very useful on mobile phones and tablets. (Just ask Taylor Swift.) Mobile keyboards have a microphone input so I can say it and save it. Works for not having to type and drive, for sure.

I also use the Shazam app for remembering something later. In fact, that’s really the sole purpose I use Shazam for — tagging something I hear that I like and want to go back for. This is how I discovered both Phoenix and Twelve Foot Ninja. Whether on OneNote or Shazam, I tend to keep a list of these discoveries for when I can get around to using them. More on that later, I promise.

Aside from paying attention to what’s going on around me, I also try to set aside time to listen to shows or peruse YouTube for videos. With cable television, I had two go-to sources for unearthing new acts to follow. One was mtvU — one of the few MTV channels that actually plays music. Go Figure! Another was Palladia MTV Live — in particular, the show Later… With Jools Holland. For the uninitiated, Later… With Jools Holland is a British music show with several (like, damn-near double digits) acts on each episode. More often than not, I was bound to find someone I’d never heard of. When I heard someone I liked, they went on The List.

What’s above would probably be enough to get a good influx of new music coming in and stopping there. The list is used for purchasing new music once I’ve tried it out, of course. But stopping there would omit what’s probably my favorite step of the process. Besides, I promised, remember?

Pandora: My buddy, my pal for discovering new music
I use a couple music apps when I’m on the go. Spotify is more for going back to stuff I love. Pandora is the one I use for new stuff. (I also use it to substitute for conventional radio, but that’s another how-to post for another how-to time.) In fact, I have a specific station for it. I make liberal use of the “Add Variety” function to the station and plug in the names of artists and songs I’ve gathered up along the way. Once they’re added, I simply hit play and let the algorithm do the rest of the work. Someone comes up I dig on? Cool! Hit the “Thumbs Up” on the song and jot them down in The List to listen to more from and possibly purchase later. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

I hope sharing this helps you find some ways to find stuff you love. Music is more than a disposable background for me. I’m probably not alone in having life’s moments, trials, and tribulations defined by this form of art and recognizing how important it has been to me. Sharing how others might find that new musical love of their life is just a small way of giving back.

Originally published on

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Feel-Good Comeback Story?

As the kids would say, they're going hard in the paint. Especially Andrea Ferro. He sounds kinda pissed.

Maybe it comes from doing this for almost 20 years and watching other bands blow up bigger. Who knows? But they sound hungry again. Their last couple sounded okay to me, but if this and the other two tracks they've put out are any indication, Delirium should be a winner. They've pretty much pioneered a sound that others have used to their own advantage, but no one can match the locomotive, flying power of Lacuna Coil.

I hope this is their time. To use wrestling vernacular, I hope they get the big push. Strap the rocket to their asses. Because they've earned it and then some.  This is a damn good crew and I hope they get their just due. Guess we'll find out in a little over a week.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Thank You.

You'll have to bear with me. This may be a bit rambling but not like that shouldn't be expected.

I'm watching CBS News Live coverage (on Roku) of the passing of Prince. They just finished playing an older interview/profile from 2004. The reporter was jamming on stage. During his Musicology tour. Which was the one and only time I got to see him in person.

April 27, 2004. About 12 years ago. Stephanie (one of my best friends and another diehard Prince fan) made the drive for three-plus hours of that man running through most of hits. Impossible to do them all, because there were so damn many. But my God, what a show. The "Purple Rain" solo that night brought me to tears. Because I was so happy I was there.

To see the man who made fandom of music happen. I was listening to the radio at 8-9 years old. Thought there was some cool stuff. But, to quote John Wilkes Booth from the Broadway show "Assassins," the thing that summed it all up and blew it all wide open was "Let's Go Crazy." From there, I heard a cassette of "Purple Rain," front to back. And didn't look back.

The genius was already there. The fearlessness of what he would be willing to do - redefine an art form by curbstomping preconceptions and boundaries - was evident. He was a force of nature, recording and playing like it would all end tomorrow. It didn't for a long time. But it finally has.

The tears hearing "Purple Rain" solo in Jacksonville were from experiencing the culmination of my love of music in one spot, in one moment. All of the emotions he had brought in me throughout so many years and so many albums coming out at once.

Having my jaw drop hearing the "Purple Rain" record. Grooving along to "Raspberry Beret" and feeling the pure joy of "Paisley Park." The whimsical sexiness of "Kiss." The spirituality, razor-sharp funk, and maturity of "Sign O' The Times" - then the ultimate statement of love-as-spirituality of "Lovesexy" (a philosophy I carry into my current marriage with the love of my life). Worlds colliding when Prince took on the soundtrack for "Batman." Making another statement and showing he just didn't give a damn about anything other than enlightenment with a daring sequel, "Graffiti Bridge." Pumping out "Diamonds and Pearls" to show he could still run with the radio crowd in his sleep. "The Opera" - his symbol-titled album - that not only dripped with sex and an undercurrent of menace, but also produced his "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the form of "3 Chains O' Gold." "Papa," a strong statement about recovering from an abusive childhood. The celebration of his marriage and realizing his dream of love during his (and my) first marriage with "Emancipation" (if both of us had only known better). Hearing history and alternate realities on "Crystal Ball." Hearing him finally come together with another icon - Chuck D - on "Undisputed." Getting back to basics on "Musicology" and then making the mainstream realize he wasn't going anywhere with "3121." Letting us all hear what a guitar really sounds like when it Gently Weeps at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Leaving no doubt to his genius or power at the Super Bowl.

So many feelings he's brought about for decades, but the prevailing one being of hope. Of redemption. That love is alive with the right outlook. That rock and roll will always be alive and it came from Minneapolis.

I'll never be able to thank Prince enough. For my love of music that he helped birth. For friendships that will last forever because of his music. For the love of my life that he helps me feel stronger about each day and reminding me that "She Gave Her Angels."

Your music will live on, at least with me. Because so much of it has defined me and made me who I am.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Dish on Leaves' Eyes

Man, I kinda miss doing this sort of thing on the regular. But there's no way in hell I could again and it would probably get kinda boring after a while. It's only once in a while when people like this in bands like this do things like this.

Seriously, I haven't had something like this to sink my teeth into since Tarja was booted out of Nightwish. And even that wasn't this good.

So, a couple days ago (for those keeping score: April 16, 2016), Leaves' Eyes announced on their official Facebook page that they had parted ways with their singer for the past 13 years, Liv Kristine, and were moving forward with another singer, Elina Siirala. Rather suddenly, mind you - like, no one saw this coming. Other than, apparently, Kristine. And possibly Siirala. And keyboardist/vocalist Alexander Krull. Also known as Kristine's husband.

Oh yeah. This is gonna get good.

Go back to that Facebook post linked above for a minute and pore through some of the comments. Some typically, understandably disappointed folks. And some who suspect there's more than meets the eye. And not another Michael Bay Transformers fiasco.

Here's one particularly damning missive: "What I see here is just another band who doesn't give a fuck about their fans, who puts money on the first place and worst who doesn't have any respect towards a member who is undoubtedly the reason of its creation and development. It disgusts me to see none of you, Leaves' Eyes members, have consideration towards Liv's effort and struggle as a woman not only in the Metal scene but in life. It's clear to me that none of you embodied the lyrics of the beautiful songs you had the amazing opportunity to bring to life. It is as if all the history you created was nothing but a damn lie. With this I say you lost a fan, for me, as the type of human being I am, cannot be conniving with such behavior, with such display of rudeness and bitterness. "FAREWELL, UNPROUD MEN"!"

A kinda-but-not-really-nicer version: Well folks... turn in your tickets and just don't support this band. Seems like something shady went down. Go "like" Liv's page in support of her. No disrespect to the new singer but Leaves Eyes needs to change their name because it was based on Liv. This band will now drown fairly fast.. let's all sit back and watch!

I could pull more but it's the comments that are no longer there that are the most telling. We now go to Wikipedia for more of the story (with pertinent pieces in bold, because like Mark Henry that's what I do!):

Kristine's departure sparked controversy with fans, especially after the individual band members (including Alexander Krull, Liv's husband) initially refused to comment on the situation, and acted as though nothing had changed. The band became antagonistic towards fans and their upset comments on the band's Facebook page, sharing a threatening status written by a member of Siirala's band EnkElination, who wrote "I've now noticed more and more that the so called 'fans' of the metal genre are nothing more than a bunch of self entitled, spoilt shits that feel bands must pander to them, explain all of their actions, and are not allowed to continue with a new vocalist if for whatever reason their vocalist should depart the band.[...] those of you who feel the need to give their shitty opinions towards my friend(s)... come voice them with me first... I'll give you something to be upset about". Fans replied saying they had no problem with Siirala's addition, praising her talents (and indeed said they felt sorry for her and supported her for having joined the band under such circumstances), and were surprised at the unprofessionalism of the post. The issue was further complicated when Kristine's father Henning Bloch commented on one of the band's photos, saying "Leaves Eyes [without] Liv Kristine? Tell the truth about what you did to Liv Kristine!" Bloch went on to allege that Krull had had an affair with Siirala and had fired Liv as a result, causing Kristine to become stuck in the couple's home, as she could not leave with her children for fear of judicial repercussions. This was denied by Shad O. Venger, guitarist for EnkElination, who claimed that the rumours were entirely false, the account claiming to be Bloch was fake (although fans pointed out that Krull himself had verified it in the past) and that Siirala barely even knew Krull before her hiring. Kristine's brother in law Rune Gunnar Stensoy also came forwards and said that while Krull's relationship was his own business, the rumours about Krull treating Kristine poorly were all true, implying that Siirala would be treated poorly as well.

On April 18, the band released another statement explaining that "[t]he decision to part ways with Liv was taken by all Leaves’ Eyes members, including Liv. A mediator - a friend of Liv and Alex - was at the band meeting who can witness that the decision of parting ways was agreed by all members. Liv was happy to have the opportunity to plan changes in her future life and she does not have to go on tour so much anymore. The idea to go separated ways came up already in January. Elina was no part of this decision or process." The group then mentioned that they couldn't go into more details due to ongoing legal actions, but asked fans to respect the decision and not spread false rumours about Liv and Alexander, as it was "affecting their family situation". The reaction to the post was mixed to skeptical, with many fans saying they would have preferred the band to have made this post earlier (instead of the derogatory and inflammatory statements the band originally made) and pointing out that the band had still not addressed the accusations made by Bloch and others. That same day Kristine posted a statement of her own, thanking fans for "warning" her about postings written to harm her and her situation and said that she had been fired from the band a week previously (directly contradicting the band's statement of the issue being broached in January). She also said that the band had told her she would not be touring with them in Indonesia, although they did not give her a clear answer about a replacement until a few days later, when she saw Siirala's surprise addition to the band. She also mentioned that her departure from the group was "parallel to a huge disappointment in [her] private life", and that she had been unaware that Siirala had been preparing to join the group since at least Easter of that year. The band countered these accusations by saying they would release the notes from the January mediation and that the "truth would come out in the end".

Krull and Siirala on tour in Indonesia this weekend

I could also talk about how pictures can say a thousand words, but this ain't TMZ or Pop Sugar or any of that garbage. And quite honestly, neither am I.

I understand this may countermand my entire identity as a Blogger who's dying for hitz, but a few moments ago - after digging through all of this to get the facts of the story - it hit me that this started sounding like any other gossip site. And you know what? Not interested.

That part of "music journalism" (he says, with a laugh) used to be fascinating. Nowadays, not so much. I don't feel like pointing a finger at these people and Gawking (see what I did there?) at their personal lives and what effect it's had on their band. There will be things that I have a greater opinion and will want to go more in-depth about, but this stopped being one when I realized how seedy I felt talking about it in this much detail.

I'm interested in this story as a casual observer. Nothing more, nothing less.  Because as soon as I heard about it, something felt off. Long story much shorter than I started to do: Looks to me like Krull was banging Siirala, fell in love, promised her a gig with his band, and ejected his wife to have the flavor of the week on board and out front. I'm sure that divorce will be fun.

But breaking all of that down like a second-rate E! correspondent and gleefully going over ever lurid detail, feeding today's outrage culture? Not so much.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The New-ish

And now, the new stuff. New to myself and you, really. Not a long screed by any means, but just wanted to get it out. And that's what this thing is for now.


I finally saw this video for the first time last night. Stumbled across it looking foir something else, really. Remember when the song came out and how (kinda) big it got.

My prevailing thought, upon finally seeing it?

Damn, but they wanted this girl to break out like Gwen Stefani did. 

"This girl" is Monique Powell, by the way. And I'm sure that label would have killed anything to make her into the kind of star that Stefani already was at that point.

I had to fact-check myself because I wasn't 100% sure of the timeline. No Doubt was starting to gain momentum in 1995 with "Just a Girl" and "Spiderwebs." Then "Don't Speak" happened in 1996 and that popularity friggin' detonated. You couldn't sneeze without hitting them on MTV.

"Come on Eileen," the above video? Came out in 1997.

I stand by my theory.

Two of the One-Two Punch

And now, because I already had it in the can, the second bit I shared with Boman but no one else. Until rioght now. Also slightly outdated, but a little fresher since the FX series just ended.


June 17, 1994. I was working at a movie theater in Daytona Beach, FL - the late, lamented Volusia Square 8. I walked into our breakroom/tiny-locker-and-changing-room to find several co-workers hovered around a small television set. There was live feed of a white Ford Bronco driving gingerly down a freeway with what looked like several dozen police cruisers following it. Not close enough to be escorts, but not nearly fast or urgent enough to be a pursuit.

I asked no one in particular, "What is this?"

One of them responded, "OJ Simpson is in the Bronco. The police are following him home to arrest him for murder."

I looked at the screen for another few seconds, processing this. Then I started laughing. Uproariously. It immediately made my top 5 list of funniest things I had ever seen (up to that point). The mental image that came to mind - and the immediate comparison - was that of an old Warner Brothers cartoon where they were showing a bad guy's "secret hideout," only it had every neon sign imaginable pointing it out. The secret was completely blown. How secret could it be if everyone in the world knew where it was? What suspense was there in this farcical chase when everyone knew where he was headed and what would happen?

The whole thing rushed by like a series of catchphrases and highspots. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia Clark. Robert Shapiro making minimal but "Look-there-he-is!" appearances. "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit." Grandstanding for any camera available. The Trial of the Century, now a television mini-series that's only slightly dramatized in comparison to the glitz, glamour, and pageantry that went part and parcel with the case of People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson.

Famous people playing famous people. John Travolta himself (a producer of the series, natch) playing Shapiro. That guy from "Friends" showing how the seeds were planted for the Kardashians to become the American Royal Family. Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the suspect in question. Nathan Lane. So many more. An all-star cast recreating an all-star cast. A big production of a big production.

During the mini-series currently airing on television, several remarks have been made by some of the players in the case about "this is something big" and history being witnessed. These points are valid, as the trial of OJ Simpson may have been the watershed moment that America was finally and firmly seduced by the celebrity culture. We'd certainly flirted with it in the past, as Marilyn Monroe's death was one of the longest reigning water cooler topics behind who killed JFK, the Berlin Wall, the attempt on Ronald Reagan, and so many other actual instances in history. The lifestyles of the rich and famous were a distraction before OJ Simpson. After that trial, they were paramount in the lives of Americans.

The country already knew politicians were fallible and sometimes half-crazy, but celebrities were who we wanted to be. A Pipe dream. After that Bronco led the police on a casual tour of Los Angeles, America realized that these demigods of stage, screen, gridiron and music were just as fallible and crazy as any of us. Which meant that any of us could be that famous given the right circumstances. Those circumstances would come later in the forms of reality television (which begat the American Royal Family) and social media. But Simpson, his cadre of television-friendly attorneys, and the prosecuting team happily thrust into the spotlight begat that entire obsession.

Over twenty years later, issues of health care and strengthening our nation take a backseat to what celebrity made a controversial tweet or what nightclub the Kardashians showed up at. One of the leading candidates to run our country is a celebrity himself - a business mogul who parlayed his successes into a reality show for NBC and became famous for a catchphrase dashing the dreams of regular folk who appeared on said show. A lot of bluster and bravado, showmanship rather than intelligent discourse. That what this candidate has brought to the competition to determine the next leader of the free world. And thanks to the circus that surrounded OJ Simpson over 20 years ago, America wouldn't have it any other way.

One of the One-Two Punch

Yeah, this space is no longer for rent. That was deleted a while back. This is why


I wrote a couple (literally, as in 2) things that I shared with my pal Ryan Boman. Practicing for an opportunity that may come soon. It's about time I use this for things that don't go anywhere else. This is one of them. It's also a little out of date now, but the general idea still feels relevant to me. So, here's this:


Watching the drama in San Bernardino, CA unfold in real time. Hell with any action movie or scripted TV thriller - nobody's beating CNN when it comes to suspense right now.

They must be loving the ratings. If you listen very closely, you might be able to hear Wolf Blitzer pleasuring himself in a bathroom right now. Stories like this is what he and his network live for. They'll deal with the aftermath later with all the subtlety and tact of a bulldozer laced with explosives.

Because as much as they put the sympathy face when the cameras are rolling, they could give a damn about the lives they'll trample over on their way to getting the story. To many people want to hear gritty details for them to be concerned with the privacy and damage done to the loved ones left behind. Why bother with a select few when the masses demand entertainment?

And please make no mistake - that's what this is. Facts? Journalistic integrity? None of that matters where real money are involved. And the ratings from an incident like this surely means bank. They probably can't wait to unleash the "T"-word (terrorist) because that's another buzzword that opens the cash drawer. That word guarantees the story continues because what better way to get the masses to tune in than scare the entire hell out of them?

Matter of fact, no lie - Literally as I type this just now? Wolf Blitzer just said - and I quote - "Police cannot confirm or deny this was a terrorist act." Translation: We REFUSE to let that idea die!

The reason they refuse to let that word go. - and others like it, such as Muslim, abortion, Christian, controversy, mass shooting and much more - is because they want to "spark discussion." A bald-faced lie. In an age of political correctness where offending someone is as easy as putting on a sweater, that controversy is fuel to them. Let the masses argue amongst themselves and use social media as an excuse to harass and bully each other. Keep them to busy to notice how much money they're donating to our corporate cause of keeping us rich and then stupid.

I should be watching this thinking, "All those poor victims." But I can't. Because I've been witness to how the media tramples lived for the sake of a dollar. And it's happening again in San Bernardino.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

SCR 2015 - UMvC3

Sixteen months since I posted here. Not like I forget I have it; just never have the time or chance to use it. No one checks this thing anyay (including me!). May as well use it to work stuff out.

It's AJ's birthday. Love you, little guy. Proud of you.

Everybody has their plodding, brutish football to watch on Sundays in the fall. I know Dad loved it, but I have a diferent Sunday sport. If not every week of the year, then I'd say most of them. About 75%, anyway. I likes my fighting game tournaments and action. Hey, is about to add eSports to their lineup along with basketball, baseball, FOOTBALL, and the rest. So, we're legitimate. Bite me.

Just watched Cloud05 take second place in Ultimate Marvel v Capcom 3 at SoCal Regionals 2015. He damn near had it won, but kept dropping combos against Filipino Champ. And this is after three eliminations in a row - starting with Clockw0rk, who busted Cloud05's ass in an exhibition a while back. Cloud05 avenged that, then just plowed through two more like early Goldberg on Monday Nitro. Almost in his sleep, this kid tripped up, tied up, juggled, and annihilated three other players like he was changing shirts, looking for just that right one to wear to the club that night. It could have been four. This could have been his year. But FChamp was too experienced and too confident to be Just Another Victim.

Something dawned on me watching the UMvC3 Finals. I've always preferred Street Fighter. That's my jam, Boo. I dig UMvC3, but don't watch that often because the matches started to look the same - juggle some hapless cat in the air until you kick his ass. The FGC equivalent of UFC. Kinda repetitive and boring. But, what me was - that still takes a lot of talent to do that in that game, considering what else is going on and has to be watched for. UMvC3 is an ADD kid's dream. Kinda like Halo. If your concentration isn't there and your reflexes quicker than a blink, forget it. You're done. The guys that can pull off what they do at a high level - like FChamp, Cloud05, Clockw0rk, et al - deserve all the respect. Because it's possible what they do is tougher then USF IV.

AFTERTHEFACTEDIT: Jut saw the viewing numbers for 'The Sami Callihan Story.' Paid attention to them, even. The old adage is apparently true about wrestling shows - people will pay attention to the beginning and ending, but may skip the middle. Lesson learned.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This Feud MUST Continue!

This is your wrestling warning. If you're not into it, hit the back button. Plzkthxbi.
And if this looks like crap, I'm dictating this into my phone so please bear with me.
Apparently, news just broke that Kevin Steen has officially signed with WWE. Not maybe. Not, he looked good in the tryout. Not, once it clears his medical tests and all that jazz. Apparently, it's a done. Deal.
Let the comments about how he shouldn't even be in NXT and the jokes about the random name generator began. I don't care. For me? Starting now, I'm only worried about one thing: if his feud with Sami Zeayn picks up again at some point. Or El Generico. However you wanna look at it.
I'm mostly agreed with Jim Cornette. But his thoughts about the feud between Steen and Generico...that's where I have to agree to disagree with the man. That was, quite literally, a three-year feud that showcase the best of what both of those men could do. Blood, sweat, and tears. A full story, beginning to end. With some of the best matches this decade. And I would love to see it again.
I'm not dumb. I know that it may well not happen. Chris Hero came and went without even touching the main roster, and Sami Callahan has spent a year without even being on NXT television. I'm not declaring this is going to happen, because who the hell knows what his run may or may not produce?
But hot damn, am I going to hope it does somewhere down the line. Please.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

C3C1 Preview: Afterlife With Archie vol. 1

When Jughead's beloved pet Hot Dog is killed in a hit and run, Jughead turns to the only person he knows who can help bring back his canine companion—Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Using dark, forbidden magic, Sabrina is successful and Hot Dog returns to the land of the living. But he's not the same... and soon, the darkness he brings back with him from beyond the grave begins to spread, forcing Archie and the gang to try to escape Riverdale!

Collects issues 1-5 featuring the first storyline "Escape from Riverdale" from the new ongoing TEEN+ comic book horror series Afterlife with Archie. 

Script: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art: Francesco Francavilla, Jack Morelli
Cover: Francesco Francavilla
$17.99/$19.99 CAN
6 5/8 x 10 3/16”
Trade Paperback
160 pp, Full Color

A late entrant, as the email from Archie's PR (man, that sounds weird) just came through. Scoff at this all you like, but this has been a damn good book. Not for the typical Archie crowd. And yes, you can pick this up at your local comic shop tomorrow.

C3C1 Preview: D4ve #5

D4VE #5

Writer: Ryan Ferrier
Artist: Valentin Ramon

Price: $0.99
Pages: 22
Rating: 17+

Without power or hope, the robots fall at the hands of the K'laar empire. This is the shocking series conclusion of D4VE.

I'm almost spoiling this for myself, as I've read (and loved) the first issue, but haven't had a chance to read past that yet. If someone reading this from Monkeybrain (Chris or Allison) could hook a brother up with some review copies, that'd be grand.

As for the rest of you, you can buy it here. And go get the rest of them while you're at it.

C3C1 Preview: Revelations #6

Revelations #6 (FINAL ISSUE)
Writer(s): Paul Jenkins
Artist(s): Humberto Ramos

Detective Charlie Northern is close to the truth behind the death of the Pope’s successor, but he struggles with his quickly fracturing faith. With the implication of a dark, corrupt cult at the very heart of the Vatican, Northern’s investigation into one unexplained death might dismantle one of the oldest, most valued institutions of the world. Discover the truth in this final chapter of Jenkins and Ramos’ thrilling mystery!

Revelations has been a pleasant surprise. Paul Jenkins is a pretty good writer, but Humberto Ramos is the one who's made me turn my head the most. I'm so used to his over-the-top cartoon style in various iterations of Spider-Man that I had no idea he could pull something like a Catholic murder mystery off. Looking forward to reading this series wrap-up as this has been a cool story.

Oh, it's also a 17+ story, so parents should keep that in mind. And if you're Catholic and easily offended, this is your warning, too. Tread lightly.

Available at your local comic shop June 4.

C3C1 Preview: Big Trouble in Little China #1

From Boom! Studios press site:

Big Trouble in Little China #1

Writer(s): John Carpenter and Eric Powell

Artist(s): Brian Churilla

WHY WE LOVE IT: BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is one of our favorite cult-classic films because it mashed together ’80s action and supernatural fantasy movies with ’70s kung-fu flicks. This is the first time any new BIG TROUBLE stories have been officially told, and we have the film’s original director, John Carpenter, working with Eric Powell (THE GOON) on the story. You can’t beat that!

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT: Eric Powell is a huge fan of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, so the sense of humor and over-the-top action he brings to THE GOON will be all over this book. Trust us, Brian Churilla’s (THE SIXTH GUN: SONS OF THE GUN) art on this is all kinds of fun.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Jack Burton, a macho, truck-driving adventurer, finds a stowaway hiding on his rig, The Pork Chop Express, but that soon becomes the least of his troubles. He helped his best friend Wang save his fiancĂ©e from the clutches of a demon, but now the wedding has been invaded by more evil forces with one thing on their minds—revenge against Jack Burton!

Seriously. If I may quote Jay-Z, what more can I say?  Got my copy and I'll absolutely have this thing read by the end of the day. Before work, if I can help it. You can get yours at your local comic shop on June 4.

Monday, June 2, 2014

C3C1 Preview: High Crimes #7

This is something I'm going to be trying out. Since I have access to this stuff, I may as well put some use to it. If you're not already reading comics, first of all -  you're missing out. Secondly, maybe you have a good place to start with posts like this.

So here's how it works: New Comics Day is pretty much always on a Wednesday. So, what you're seeing previews of here will always come out the Wednesday immediately after. Think you can follow along? Good deal. Because here's the first C3C1 Preview.


High Crimes #7

Writer: Christopher Sebela

Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Color Assists: Lesley Atlansky

Price: $0.99

Pages: 22
Rating: 17+

Dug in at Camp 2, Zan Jensen has lied, killed and drugged her way to within 8,000 feet of Mount Everest's summit. As desolate weather sweeps across the mountain and Zan readies herself to face her dream and the dead body of Sullivan Mars buried beneath it, she finds herself isolated, paranoid, sick and surrounded by Strange Agents playing a game all their own.

High Crimes was one of the Monkeybrain books that got mixed in with the #CS100. I read the first issue, and I'll be honest, it sucked me right in.

I've already read this issue. Don't worry, no spoilers. The slow burn tension that Christopher Sebela is using to build to the end of this book is tremendous. This issue is a great example of that.

Oh, and Christopher Sebela? He's a name to watch. In the next few years, I think we're going to be talking about him the way we talk about Ed Brubaker now. I've also been reading Dead Letters from Boom! Studios, and both of these books are excellent. Get on those ASAP. You can start with High Crimes #7, available right here.

I also still say that Ibrahim Moustafa is pretty damn good for a "self-taught artist."

Monday, April 7, 2014

Yackety Schmackety

Warning: this is a pro wrestling-centric post. If that's not your thing, by all means feel free to hit the "Back" button above.

If you are a wrestling fan and somehow have absolutely no idea what happened at WrestleMania XXX, same applies to you as well as this your obligatory SPOILER WARNING for you sensitive types. For something that happened live and everybody already knows about except you because analyzing that finale of "How I Met Your Mother" was just too important. Kthxbi

Now then, if you stuck around this long I'm sure you can see by the tags that we're discussing what everybody thinks is the biggest news in history - that being the ending of The Streak at WrestleMania XXX. The Undertaker finally lost. To Brock Lesnar. In a match that, honestly, was good-but-not-great and wasn't that well built at all. There was zero indication this was coming, and anyone who tries to tell you that they predicted it is just a bald-faced liar at this point.

But, yeah, it happened. There's no way of getting around it, no way of denying it, no way of turning back the clock in making it unhappen. For good or ill, it's a done deal.

You don't have to like or agree with it. Hell, I'm not 100% sure I do at this point. (In this arena of theater and entertainment, this is a little big to take in. Haven't quite processed the implications. Still working on that part yet.) There is one thing that some of you should do, however, and that's calm down.

It's one thing to dislike the booking or question why the decision was made. I'm all for that. But to proclaim that this is the "worst booking decision in wrestling history"? That there's nothing but doom and gloom from here on out? That this will ultimately lead to the company going bankrupt?

Get. The hell. Over. Yourselves.

Quit stamping your feet and holding your breath like a petulant child. Quit blaming creative, or Triple-H's ego, or Vince McMahon, or whatever other evil that you think ruined your life. (Because none of those may even be at fault.) Quit pretending you have a damn clue and could possibly have done this any better. (Because if you could, you'd be working for them in that capacity.) And really, quit raging with your little keyboard every single time something does not go your way. Because, quite honestly, now you're just ruining the internet for the rest of us.

My theory (which is based purely on speculation because I have no inside information and I certainly wasn't there when the decision was made)? In training for this match, Mark Calaway came to the heartbreaking realization that his body was not going to last as long as he or the company wanted it to. Maybe he got hurt or maybe he simply felt all of the injuries of time piling up on him. In coming to this realization, he decided that he would "do business" the right way, give his friend the best gift he possibly could, and begin the process of winding down his illustrious career. If that's how it went down, I could not think of a better way for history to have been made.

BREAKINGNEWSEDIT: Lending credence to that theory? This right here.

Again, in this arena of theater and this continuity...this is a big deal. I completely understand that. But it's certainly not so big that wrestling will cease to exist forever. What we saw was not the end of the WWE (although the stock is down several points the morning after it happened? The hell??), or the end of the world, or the sky toppling down on us. What we saw is rare in wrestling anymore - a legitimate surprise that resulted in a true moment in history. What we might have seen is a man who's given so much to this particular form of entertainment choose to give back to his company and to this form of entertainment one more time in very big, spectacular fashion.

Wrestling fans love to bemoan that we don't get any true surprises or memorable moments anymore. At WrestleMania XXX, we got both. In the biggest way anyone could have imagined. Instead of crying and yelling because it didn't go exactly the way I wanted it to, I plan on sitting back and taking this end. I watched wrestling history happen live. And I'm thankful for that.

And with that said...on a completely unrelated note...the #CS100 resumes today on Twitter. Feel free to check that out and thank you very much in advance.