Funny Pages

02.07.41 - Mark

It all started with a call from Global Frequency, well sort of. Like all good general purpose geeks I like comic books, but I had the misfortune of growing up in the speculator boom era of comics when they became $3 special edition collectibles, were 40% ads, and you had to decide which of the half dozen versions of a character you wanted to read. Not exactly the 10 silver age comics my dad used to collect. So mostly I grabbed some comics whenever the local comic store was clearing house, and attempted to find remnant's of my dad's old collection when ever we visited my grandparents (who despite being packrats threw out many of the comics)

But when global frequency came out so did my interest in comics, and I've been picking up a TPB or two every few months (currently more or less in sync with Ex Machina releases, which means I'm due for an Amazon order), getting the occasional graphic novel like The Watchmen or Maus, reading free web comics and using other means of getting comic book fixes. I've considered buying some of the phone book sided collections of classic comics, but they tend to be pretty bad. Black and white on cheap paper in the book the size of a dictionary, so I'm happy to hear about Marvel's Digital Comics. I may even try it out, but I have a tendency to read when I can't get online (or don't want to go online) so the web-only approach is a turn off. Offer a (DRM free) CBR or CBZ subscription based download service and let me load them into a reader of my choice, now I'd pay for that. It would probably boost my book buying too, since I've found a few series where the art is good enough that I only want dead tree editions.

Even if I read online, the flash interface they have would eventually drive me nuts. Compared to ComicBookLover (Mac) or Comix (Linux) it feels slow and cluttered.

Still, I may have to give it a try. While I'm not really into the superhero comics, I do like a lot of Marvel characters, and it would be nice to read up.

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00.50.15 - Mark

If you want my favorite superhero, it's Batman, but Spiderman is an easy second. Peter Parker is a geek hero, a shy socially awkward kid who after a freak accident gains super powers and uses those powers with his brain to not only create a hero, but also almost manages to balance it with a "regular" life.

The movies have all been enjoyable, and while I can't say they remain true to the comics (I haven't really picked up comics with guys running around in tights), they seem to have the right spirit. Spiderman 3 is no different. It's two and a half hours of fun that doesn't even feel like it's 150 minutes long.

My only complaint with the series is that somehow they keep killing off or otherwise retiring the cool villains. I'll refrain from spoiling it for those of you who haven't seen it yet, but in every film they kill off at least one villain. Even with a wide variety of enemies to work with, not everyone watching these movies is familiar with the comic universe - look at how many people never catch the Stan Lee cameos (which are getting bolder all the time)

With this Spiderman being one of, if not the, most expensive films ever made (story) it wouldn't take too much for the series to jump the shark. I don't want that, but I can see it being really easy.

For now Spiderman 3 is worth watching, and worth watching in theaters. It may be cheaper to get it though Netflix in a few months, but there's no substitute for the big screen.

Aside: Today is Free Comic Book Day. I've been to the local comics place, and I'm not all that impressed with it (back corner on the second floor of a quasi-antique store), but there are a couple more dedicated comic stores in Winston I may try out.

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The Dark Side of Snopes

11.40.12 - Mark

Dark side of Snopes - xkcd webcomic

I love fact checking via Snopes. Depending on who sends me the urban legend email, I usually hit them over the head with a link to the relevant snopes pages. I also love xkcd's webcomics.

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A graduation and a wedding

22.43.40 - Mark

This weekend is nuts. My brother's high school graduation was a few hours ago, and a cousin's wedding is a six hour (plus?) drive from here and is tomorrow afternoon. I'm in for a long drive tonight (and tomorrow morning) not to mention the return trip on Sunday. At least when I have light I can work my way though the graphic novels I picked up off amazon yesterday (I really like Amazon Prime) - Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore's Watchmen. This comic addiction started innocently enough, but its quickly becoming a black hole for my already small bank account.

Unrelated to the above, but explaining for the lack of recent posts below, it's weird how the empty and miserable, kind of depressed feeling I get when I'm overworked also shows up when I have almost no real obligations to satisfy. I'll work on that when this weekend is done.

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V for Vendetta

22.53.40 - Mark

I saw V for Vendetta yesterday, I loved it. While it was certinaly over the top towards the end (and by over the top I mean the Wachowski brother's addition to hyper-slow motion) It was fun on a brain dead level, if you wanted to watch it on that level, but had that same confused as hell feeling the Matrix produced that makes me want to watch it again a time or two. I'll skip over the relation to modern politics, it should be enough to say that there were a lot of broader political themes I love to see being played with and manipulated in fiction.

Can't wait to read the graphic novel it was based on, which should be arriving at my door on Friday along with a copy of Good Night and Good Luck and the first volume of Y: The Last Man which I keep hearing good things about.

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Hell just got a bit colder

19.10.54 - Mark

Who would have guessed it - Garfield can actually be funny. Just remove Garfield and/or his thoughts

Original thread
More at Something Awful

Not all of the remixed strips are funny, many just point out how sad Garfield strips really are, but the fact that I'm laughing at comics that were created by a group-think brand-oriented committee is amazing. Hurray for remix culture!

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Comics Code

00.56.11 - Mark

I like my comics, and with a not so great comics page in the local paper on top of my general avoidance of newspapers in general the web has kind of come to my rescue here. Thanks to some great RSS feeds like the ones listed (or created by) Tapestry Comics and other similar services like Comic Alert.com and Interglacial's RSS feeds Unfortunately to read all my comics I might need to open up one to two dozen tabs in whatever browser I'm using. Now add in the fact I haven't been checking all of my feeds daily.

So I'm working on a personal page generator that pulls up the images and none of the extra code around it. Some places this is trivial, because they use a standard Year/Month/Day scheme. ucomics (Universal Press Syndicate's Comic Site) is one of them, and most webcomics also follow that scheme (or at least something similar). Some webcomics use a sequential counter, which presents a slight challenge, but nothing impossible.

Unfortunately, a few of my favorite comics rest at United Media's comic site, Comics.com, which, likely because of others like me, doesn't use a regular numbering scheme for the comics (the URLs are a different matter) I think that's doable, but I'll need to learn about scraping webpages (which wouldn't be the worse thing). I'm much more frustrated with King Features, who have the strictest regulations for their comics, making you pay to access their site (DailyINK.com) or require the people publishing them to really lock up the pages displaying them (javascript and blocking offsite referrals.)

Anyways, I guess I need to figure out the numbering system or learn how to page scrape. I suppose the plus side is these self motivated programming projects are teaching me a lot more about programming and development that some of my classes have. Plus, its fun. Fun is good.

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