Sunday, April 30, 2017

Become a Pod Person

Photo by Derrick Tyson of Flickr. 
Lately, when I haven't been listening to audiobooks at work, I've been listening to podcasts.

Additionally, I've been really into horror stuff--stories, books, movies. I think it's because things have been so politically bad, a word where plants will dig their way under your skin and slowly devour you from the inside seems far better than a world in which 45 is president. So here's my podcast suggestions--horror edition.

1. Pseudopod

This is an obvious one, and I've mentioned it before. Pseudopod is one branch of Escape Artists, which is a multi-professionally-paying publication group run and owned by Alastair Stuart--who is a great guy and very cool. Pseudopod is their short horror fiction podcast series. Each week, episodes clocking in around 30-45 minutes long are published, read by some amazing talent. The episodes change in genre weekly, so there's always something different on there. If you're not feeling a story one week, you can always come back next week for a fresh offering, and since the show has been on for a decade or so, there's TONS of back episodes to listen to. Highly recommended. I always recommend episode 433, "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism."

2. Welcome to Night Vale

Another obvious one I've mentioned before. I imagine some would possibly argue that Night Vale isn't horror because it's not exactly extreme. No swearing (except occasionally in the songs they play during the weather), and no gore or anything graphic. Just eerie, odd, and quirky. But the show runs a fascinating gambit of episodes from the entertainingly quirky, to the eerie and unnerving, to the tragic.

If you don't know the pitch, it's essentially NPR if it were set in Stephen King's Maine. (It's literally set I believe somewhere in Nevada, but you get the idea.)

While the show has a loose ongoing story line, you can easily pick almost any episode to start listening and you'll eventually catch on. Seriously, jumping into episode one is just as bizarre and humorously odd as jumping into episode 25. They provide plenty of context clues and explanation in each episode so you know who people are. You may miss out on some of the character growth and change, but sometimes the show fucks with you in that regard anyway--for example, they released an epilogue episode that followed up on the events of their book that had not even come out yet, with lots of "Well, I don't have to explain that, do I? You were all there. You all know what I'm referring to."

3. Shock Waves (The Deep End of Horror--Better Than Sex)

The next two I have aren't horror fiction, but rather focus on horror movies. Shock Waves is the reboot of a podcast formerly known as "Killer POV." I'm not sure why the old one went under and why they relaunched with a new name--I haven't gone back and listened to the old show--but I can highly, HIGHLY recommend Shock Waves.

The show is hosted by Rob Galluzzo (Senior Editor of, Elric Kane (This Week In Horror and Inside Horror), and Rebekah McKendry (Editor In Chief of I really appreciate Rebekah's presence on the show. It really helps break up the cast having a woman to contribute her perspective on the horror industry. Otherwise, it would just be three dudes, and that's just not as interesting--we tend to overrun the genre.

Most episodes follow a similar structure: they talk about what horror movies they watched last week (or sometimes expand to what horror related things they've done--such as festivals, special projects, etc.), then they go over to Ryan Turek (Blumhouse Director of Development ) for a segment called "Pick of the Week." He usually picks a neglected or little known horror movie, but sometimes recommends horror soundtracks, too. And then they delve into a long interview with someone from the horror industry.

My favorite episodes I've listened to so far are episode 2, in which they interview some folks from Scream Factory and we learn the fascinating ins and outs of film rights for distribution (it doesn't sound interesting, but trust me, IT IS!!!), episode 4, which features an interview with possibly my favorite modern horror director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush), episode 7, in which they interview the Soska Sisters (directors of American Mary and hosts of Hellevator), and episode 14, in which they interview the writers behind The Final Girls and we get to hear what the horror genre means to two gay men--a perspective often lacking in the discussion.

Seriously, I love this show, and it comes out weekly, so you have PLENTY of content.

4. The Faculty of Horror

While Shock Waves is great for a horror industry look, sometimes their discussion is a bit surface level. If you want a show that digs down into the symbolism of a movie, the history of those symbols, and the context in which the movies were released, then The Faculty of Horror is the show for you. And best of all, they frequently approach their film discussions with a feminist angle, which is extremely welcome.

The show is hosted by Andrea Subissati, the Executive Editor of Rue Morgue magazine and host of a great YouTube channel (The Batcave), and Alexandra West, author of Films of New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity (totally added that to my Amazon wishlist). Together, they really dig into what makes a horror movie tick. While some episodes focus on one movie and its impact, most of the time they take on two movies that share a common theme.

Their episode on The Blair Witch Project gave me a new appreciation for the movie, and since they're Canadian, their look at Pontypool revealed aspects of the film of which I was completely ignorant. A couple more episodes I highly recommend: episode 19 on eating disorders in Drag Me to Hell and Black Swan, and episode 36 on motherhood in Goodnight, Mommy and The Babadook.

I actually found this podcast because they guest hosted an episode of Pseudopod (see? Bringing it all back around, eh? Eh??) and loved their academic approach to analyzing the story after we heard it. Honestly, I WISH there were a Faculty of Horror style podcast about horror literature because I would be so fucking there.

Check out these podcasts, I think you'll like what you hear.

If someone has any suggestions for podcasts hosted by LGBT+ folks or hosted by people of color, please let me know. I follow the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog, but sadly, they don't have a podcast. I would love a Shock Waves or Faculty of Horror style podcast that focused specifically on the queer and/or people of color perspective.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Comics Project Update: March 2017

As part of my on-going comics project, I update monthly with what comics I bought and anything weird or interesting I stumbled across. Each post will have a running list, and I'll update with the new titles and where they fall chronologically.

I came up with the order of the books from this comment of all the Batman trades in chronological order (up to Flashpoint), this trade reading order list for Superman, and this one for Batman. I judged the rest for myself based on release dates and what the story depicted.

I want this list functional and readable, so I didn't focus on perfect chronological order. I tried to keep decent chunks of individual runs together where possible, then backtrack chronologically if necessary for a chunk of a different title--except in cases where something important was introduced, like a character dying, coming back to life, etc.

Below you'll see the list of canon DC titles that I own at this point. The ones in bold are the ones that I got this month.

  1. Crisis On Infinite Earths
  2. Batman: Dark Victory
  3. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  4. Justice League International, Vol. 1
  5. Justice League International, Vol. 2
  6. Justice League International, Vol. 3
  7. Justice League International, Vol. 4
  8. The Death of Superman
  9. Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1
  10. Impulse: Reckless Youth
  11. Justice League: A League of One
  12. JLA Titans: Technis Imperative
  13. Young Justice: A League of Their Own
  14. Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds
  15. Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies
  16. Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl
  17. JLA: The Hypothetical Woman
  18. Teen Titans Vol. 1: A Kid's Game
  19. Teen Titans Vol. 2: Family Lost
  20. Teen Titans Vol. 3: Beast Boys and Girls
  21. Teen Titans Vol. 4: The Future is Now
  22. Teen Titans/Outside​rs: The Insiders
  23. Teen Titans: The Death and Return of Donna Troy
  24. The OMAC Project (Countdown to Infinite Crisis)
  25. Infinite Crisis
  26. Teen Titans Vol. 5: Life and Death
  27. Supergirl Vol. 1
  28. Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson
  29. Teen Titans, Vol. 6: Titans Around the World
  30. Teen Titans, Vol. 7: Titans East
  31. Superman: Up, Up, and Away!
  32. Superman: Back in Action
  33. Superman: Last Son of Krypton
  34. Superman: Camelot Falls, Vol. 1
  35. Superman: Camelot Falls (Vol. 2)
  36. Superman: The Third Kryptonian
  37. Superman: Redemption
  38. Superman: Escape from Bizarro World
  39. Superman: Shadows Linger
  40. Blue Beetle (Book 1): Shellshocked
  41. Blue Beetle (Book 2): Road Trip
  42. Blue Beetle (Book 3): Reach for the Stars
  43. Teen Titans, Vol. 8: Titans of Tomorrow
  44. Blue Beetle (Book 4): Endgame
  45. Batman: Batman and Son
  46. Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
  47. Batman R.I.P.
  48. Final Crisis
  49. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds
  50. Teen Titans Spotlight: Raven
  51. Wonder Woman: The Circle
  52. Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  53. Superman: Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
  54. Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin (The New 52)
  55. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
  56. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
  57. Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (The New 52)
  58. Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends
  59. Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom
  60. Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey
  61. Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
  62. Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52)
  63. Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)
  64. Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (The New 52)
  65. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  66. Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  67. The Movement Vol. 1: Class Warfare (The New 52)
  68. Justice League United Vol. 1: Justice League Canada
  69. Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga
  70. Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted (The New 52)
  71. Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places
  72. Bizarro
  73. Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged

Like I said last month, I'm trying to get the four major events of the DC universe--the three Crises books and Flashpoint. There are other important events--Zero Hour resulted in Hal Jordan turning evil and disappearing/dying for a long time in comics continuity and Convergence set the stage for DC Rebirth as well as bringing Preboot Superman into the New 52 continuity. But those weren't the big continuity rewriting events that the Crises books and Flashpoint were. Those are also kind of the way I divide the modern era of DC comics.

As you can see, I FINALLY got Final Crisis. It was pretty terrible. What I'm learning is Grant Morrison is, at best, a writer whom I finish and say, "I think this is what happened??" I don't need stuff spoonfed to me, but stories should generally have a followable sequence and boy Morrison can't do that to save his life. At least the Batman books--Batman and Son, Al Ghul, and RIP--Morrison is staying focused on one story-ish. With Final Crisis and all of the goddamned cosmos and the entirety of DC's roster at his disposal, the book spins out into a series of events that become so abstract and difficult to follow, so jumpy and choppy, that by the end of the book, I closed it, set it aside, and actually said, "...what?" outloud.

The ONLY thing I got out of it was that Batman died, but not really because he got kicked back in time to the caveman era because comics and because there's no way DC would actually kill off their biggest cash cow.

I got the next volume in Teen Titans--I am at this point, about halfway through collecting the run started by Geoff Johns in 2003. I was very glad that I caught up and read Blue Beetle volumes 3 and 4 before I bought or read Teen Titans volume 8 because it turns out Blue Beetle volume 3 overlaps with Teen Titans volume 8. There's one issue in particular in volume 3 of Blue Beetle the features the Teen Titans. And when reading Teen Titans volume 8, I was surprised to see portions of that issue were included, and then Blue Beetle keeps showing up in the subsequent issues, which is great! Jaime in the Teen Titans finally!

I have two more volumes of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle to get and I will be finished with that run until Rebirth. I have no desire to collect the New 52 Blue Beetle. No Ted, Jaime hides his powers from his parents, almost kills one of his friends. Just...nope nope nope.

I also got JLI volume 4--the last one I'm worried about since volume 5 is far more expensive than I'm willing to spend and volume 6 ends with a cliffhanger. There is no volume 7. This means that besides trying to track down the volumes of Birds of Prey that Ted pops up in, the next Ted Kord stuff that I really need to collect is 52 and I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League. I don't care to get the follow up to that one either, Formerly Known as the Justice League, because from the reviews it's a weaker retread of Can't Believe and more sexist, which I'm good without. I get enough of that in the otherwise decent comics I already collect.

I also got The Killing Joke from my LCS because it was super cheap and...I's a classic? It leads to the creation of Oracle--although it should not get any credit for that since it was another writer coming along to try to fix that mess. I just got it for completeness since it is so seminal, if unintentionally so.

My quick review: The Killing Joke is overhyped garbage. It was interesting to see a back story to the Joker, but it was honestly too short to effectively tell the story it tried to tell. It didn't need padding. It needed time to better tackle Batman and the Joker's relationship--and to give more time to Barbara. Make the story at least partially about her--and not like how they did in the movie where they made Barbara into Batman's fuck buddy and pining girlfriend---UGH GOD DAMMIT WHY DC WHY???

I'll go into it more later, but the volume of Supergirl I got was...very uneven at best. It started decent, but about halfway through goes way off the rails. I thought the guy at the counter at my LCS was being kind of a jerk when he said "Just fyi, this book doesn't have, like, a story. It's just sort of random things happening." He was right.

And that other Final Crisis book up there is a tie-in that features, as I understand it, the resurrection of both Connor Kent and Bart Allen, which I need to read as part of my Teen Titans collecting. It's so far pretty good--far, far better than Final Crisis.

For April, I'll obviously keep collecting Teen Titans, try to finish up the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle run, but I'm also tempted to jump ahead and start collecting some of the stuff that leads into Rebirth because those trades are finally starting to come out and I want them so baaaad--*grabby hands.* Especially because of the gonzo nonsense I've seen about the current Superman run and how they're explaining Preboot Superman. It look like the kind of over-complicated mess that I love about comics. So I might try grabbing Flashpoint, and then jumping straight to Convergence and the Preboot Superman stuff. I dunno. We'll see.

If you have any thoughts about, drop me a line in the comments. Want to discuss books I've recently purchased or read? Any suggestions for books I missed? Just please, no spoilers.

Happy reading!