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Eternals Eternals by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman takes on one of Jack Kirby's creations for Marvel.

Despite the fact that these are two very big names, the biggest reaction I can muster is "meh". It was okay, but there was nothing that really grabbed me about it. Gaiman and the artist managed to squeeze the Kirbyishness out of it, without imparting anything particularly great or new.

It was okay, but that's about it. Nothing about it was particularly memorable; it didn't stay in my mind. In a fractional system I guess I'd give it a 2.5.

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Eternals Eternals by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 2 of 5 stars

Neil Gaiman takes on one of Jack Kirby's creations for Marvel.

Despite the fact that these are two very big names, the biggest reaction I can muster is "meh". It was okay, but there was nothing that really grabbed me about it. Gaiman and the artist managed to squeeze the Kirbyishness out of it, without imparting anything particularly great or new.

It was okay, but that's about it. Nothing about it was particularly memorable; it didn't stay in my mind. In a fractional system I guess I'd give it a 2.5.

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Incredible Hulk Vol. 1: Return of the Monster Incredible Hulk Vol. 1: Return of the Monster by Bruce Jones


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

After plowing through a long string of stinkers from Marvel and DC, I finally found a decent one. And to my surprise it's from Marvel, which I generally consider to be the inferior of the two.

How did they do it? Mainly by giving up the tired old cliches, of course. The writing style is very sparse; there are whole pages with no dialog at all. What dialog there is, is actually handled surprisingly well. It's not aimed at the usual 9-year-old level, but more at the late teens.

Rather than the usual over-explaining (so many comic books seem to be written with the assumption that the readers are morons), there's a nice sense of mystery; you actually have to think a little while reading, which is a remarkably refreshing change from the usual Marvel fare.

The art is different from the usual style, too. There's a touch of manga to it, I think; it works, though.

As for the plot, it's based on Banner-as-fugitive with a fairly interesting admixture of mysterious super-agents and an X-Files-like quality.

The Hulk himself is extremely well-handled; he's seen only fleetingly, no dialog, with a sense of sheer size that's truly impressive. Kudos to the artist; the Hulk reminded me of Godzilla more than anything else, simply in terms of size, power, and danger.

Unfortunately the book leaves off without any sort of resolution. It also gets into an area that could potentially be a problem in the long run; the organization behind the agents chasing the Hulk can apparently bring back the dead with ease, which could deprive the series of a lot of threat potential down the road. If death becomes virtually meaningless, a major motivator has been lost!

This book left me wondering that the hell had happened. How did Marvel end up greenlighting this? Was it their main Hulk book? That seems inconceivable. Perhaps it was a mini-series? That seems more plausible. If this was a regular series (and I had the cash to spare), I'd definitely consider subscribing. Not that I was ever a huge fan of the Hulk, but I DO like decent writing and art.

I'd call this a strong 3.5, and if I liked the character more or if it hadn't ended on a cliffhanger, it could easily have been a 4.

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Incredible Hulk Vol. 1: Return of the Monster Incredible Hulk Vol. 1: Return of the Monster by Bruce Jones


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

After plowing through a long string of stinkers from Marvel and DC, I finally found a decent one. And to my surprise it's from Marvel, which I generally consider to be the inferior of the two.

How did they do it? Mainly by giving up the tired old cliches, of course. The writing style is very sparse; there are whole pages with no dialog at all. What dialog there is, is actually handled surprisingly well. It's not aimed at the usual 9-year-old level, but more at the late teens.

Rather than the usual over-explaining (so many comic books seem to be written with the assumption that the readers are morons), there's a nice sense of mystery; you actually have to think a little while reading, which is a remarkably refreshing change from the usual Marvel fare.

The art is different from the usual style, too. There's a touch of manga to it, I think; it works, though.

As for the plot, it's based on Banner-as-fugitive with a fairly interesting admixture of mysterious super-agents and an X-Files-like quality.

The Hulk himself is extremely well-handled; he's seen only fleetingly, no dialog, with a sense of sheer size that's truly impressive. Kudos to the artist; the Hulk reminded me of Godzilla more than anything else, simply in terms of size, power, and danger.

Unfortunately the book leaves off without any sort of resolution. It also gets into an area that could potentially be a problem in the long run; the organization behind the agents chasing the Hulk can apparently bring back the dead with ease, which could deprive the series of a lot of threat potential down the road. If death becomes virtually meaningless, a major motivator has been lost!

This book left me wondering that the hell had happened. How did Marvel end up greenlighting this? Was it their main Hulk book? That seems inconceivable. Perhaps it was a mini-series? That seems more plausible. If this was a regular series (and I had the cash to spare), I'd definitely consider subscribing. Not that I was ever a huge fan of the Hulk, but I DO like decent writing and art.

I'd call this a strong 3.5, and if I liked the character more or if it hadn't ended on a cliffhanger, it could easily have been a 4.

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Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read a lot of Neil Gaiman's stuff, so when my wife and I were on a rare outing to see a movie, Stardust was a natural compromise.

It wasn't bad. It seemed, somehow, a little light and flat; amusing and well-done, but not something we would pick up on DVD.

You're probably thinking that I've forgotten that this is a book review site, and not a movie site. Fear not! I'm getting to it.

I'm a voracious reader. Picking up Stardust at the library was a no-brainer. I had to order it via inter-library loan, and when it came in I was disappointed to see that it was the non-illustrated version. It turned out to be slightly less interesting than the movie; one of those semi-rare examples where a movie actually improved on the book.

Later, I saw the graphic novel version was available at my library. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found it better than the text-only version, and roughly on par with the movie itself. There are differences between the two, of course, but it seems clear that Gaiman's strength as a writer really requires a visual aspect as well; he needs to be paired with a good artist to do his best work.

Not that Stardust is his best work, of course. For that you'll need to read Sandman or The Books of Magic. But it's an interesting, entertaining tale that makes use of what was once a fairly original idea: the juxtaposition of the "real" world and the rather specifically English world of Faerie. That sort of tale is in danger of becoming a bit stale, I fear, but Gaiman was...not a pioneer of that form (I think Lord Dunsany was probably the first), but probably the preeminent modern popularizer of it.

The adventures of Tristan in Faerie are a good way to pass an hour or two, both as a graphic novel and as a movie. You're not likely to be forever changed by the experience, but what can you expect? Not every book can be a classic, even from a good author like Gaiman.

I'd give this a strong three stars. If it had been just a little better, I'd have given it a four. As it is, I enjoyed it...but not enough to go out and buy a copy. I might take it out again from the library in a year or two, if I can't find anything new that interests me more.

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Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie by Neil Gaiman


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read a lot of Neil Gaiman's stuff, so when my wife and I were on a rare outing to see a movie, Stardust was a natural compromise.

It wasn't bad. It seemed, somehow, a little light and flat; amusing and well-done, but not something we would pick up on DVD.

You're probably thinking that I've forgotten that this is a book review site, and not a movie site. Fear not! I'm getting to it.

I'm a voracious reader. Picking up Stardust at the library was a no-brainer. I had to order it via inter-library loan, and when it came in I was disappointed to see that it was the non-illustrated version. It turned out to be slightly less interesting than the movie; one of those semi-rare examples where a movie actually improved on the book.

Later, I saw the graphic novel version was available at my library. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found it better than the text-only version, and roughly on par with the movie itself. There are differences between the two, of course, but it seems clear that Gaiman's strength as a writer really requires a visual aspect as well; he needs to be paired with a good artist to do his best work.

Not that Stardust is his best work, of course. For that you'll need to read Sandman or The Books of Magic. But it's an interesting, entertaining tale that makes use of what was once a fairly original idea: the juxtaposition of the "real" world and the rather specifically English world of Faerie. That sort of tale is in danger of becoming a bit stale, I fear, but Gaiman was...not a pioneer of that form (I think Lord Dunsany was probably the first), but probably the preeminent modern popularizer of it.

The adventures of Tristan in Faerie are a good way to pass an hour or two, both as a graphic novel and as a movie. You're not likely to be forever changed by the experience, but what can you expect? Not every book can be a classic, even from a good author like Gaiman.

I'd give this a strong three stars. If it had been just a little better, I'd have given it a four. As it is, I enjoyed it...but not enough to go out and buy a copy. I might take it out again from the library in a year or two, if I can't find anything new that interests me more.

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Common Grounds Common Grounds by Troy Hickman


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ever since I discovered that my library had a good selection of graphic novels, I've been reading lots of them. And I've learned a few things:

Anything from Marvel or DC is likely to be surprisingly bad, unless they're written by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman. There are a couple of other writers who can turn out decent work too, but the vast majority of stuff published by the Big Two is just awful.

This can't be a coincidence. I can't believe that DC and Marvel simply keep having bad luck finding decent writers. No, the blame must lie with the editorial staff and management; they must want bad writing. Perhaps they've become overprotective of their big-name characters, who are now such huge media properties. It's ironic, because putrid writing is now killing those characters - at least in my own estimation.

Another thing I've learned from the library: there's still good work being done out there, and almost all of it is being published by smaller companies. Common Grounds is an excellent example of this. It's a series of stories based around a chain of coffee shops that cater to superheroes. It's an original world-setting, of course, but many of the heroes are reminiscent of some of the classic major-company characters. In fact, there are a number of references to that very point (for example, one high-speed "Flash"-like character is called "Speeding Bullet", and when asked about his name replies "as in faster than a - "). It's clearly implied (if you were wondering) that the world of Common Grounds includes comic books, the same ones that are published in the real world.

The stories are generally unrelated to each other; this isn't your typical never-ending serial, but rather a series of stand-alone short stories set in a common universe. There's also virtually no overlap of characters between stories. Each one focuses on a different character or set of characters.

And they're incredibly refreshing. There's almost none of the tired old cliches; instead, it takes a more real-world approach to the interaction of the characters, with a nice touch of humor. For example, how often are you going to read a story which takes place almost entirely as conversation between a superhero and supervillain in adjoining stalls of a coffee shop bathroom? There's a love story, stories about...well, I don't want to spoil it. All I'll say is that while every story in the book is related to superheroes (of course), none of them use the cliched plots that have been inflicted on the comic-book-reading public for so many decades.

All in all, the stories are very well-written. There are some slightly awkward spots, I'll admit, and the author gets a tiny bit preachy at times. He also has a small tendency to be cute (particularly with puns), and there's a slightly juvenile feeling to his work when compared to the works of Moore and Gaiman (although it's still far more mature and less insulting to the intelligence than anything that's normally put out by Marvel or DC). But these are very minor flaws indeed.

Just to be clear, I really like this book quite a lot. Enough so that I've now taken it out twice from the library, and I plan to buy a copy as soon as I get the chance. Whoops, almost forgot to mention: the art is very nicely done as well.

It's just a pity that the series didn't continue. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for Troy Hickman in the future.

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Common Grounds Common Grounds by Troy Hickman


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ever since I discovered that my library had a good selection of graphic novels, I've been reading lots of them. And I've learned a few things:

Anything from Marvel or DC is likely to be surprisingly bad, unless they're written by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman. There are a couple of other writers who can turn out decent work too, but the vast majority of stuff published by the Big Two is just awful.

This can't be a coincidence. I can't believe that DC and Marvel simply keep having bad luck finding decent writers. No, the blame must lie with the editorial staff and management; they must want bad writing. Perhaps they've become overprotective of their big-name characters, who are now such huge media properties. It's ironic, because putrid writing is now killing those characters - at least in my own estimation.

Another thing I've learned from the library: there's still good work being done out there, and almost all of it is being published by smaller companies. Common Grounds is an excellent example of this. It's a series of stories based around a chain of coffee shops that cater to superheroes. It's an original world-setting, of course, but many of the heroes are reminiscent of some of the classic major-company characters. In fact, there are a number of references to that very point (for example, one high-speed "Flash"-like character is called "Speeding Bullet", and when asked about his name replies "as in faster than a - "). It's clearly implied (if you were wondering) that the world of Common Grounds includes comic books, the same ones that are published in the real world.

The stories are generally unrelated to each other; this isn't your typical never-ending serial, but rather a series of stand-alone short stories set in a common universe. There's also virtually no overlap of characters between stories. Each one focuses on a different character or set of characters.

And they're incredibly refreshing. There's almost none of the tired old cliches; instead, it takes a more real-world approach to the interaction of the characters, with a nice touch of humor. For example, how often are you going to read a story which takes place almost entirely as conversation between a superhero and supervillain in adjoining stalls of a coffee shop bathroom? There's a love story, stories about...well, I don't want to spoil it. All I'll say is that while every story in the book is related to superheroes (of course), none of them use the cliched plots that have been inflicted on the comic-book-reading public for so many decades.

All in all, the stories are very well-written. There are some slightly awkward spots, I'll admit, and the author gets a tiny bit preachy at times. He also has a small tendency to be cute (particularly with puns), and there's a slightly juvenile feeling to his work when compared to the works of Moore and Gaiman (although it's still far more mature and less insulting to the intelligence than anything that's normally put out by Marvel or DC). But these are very minor flaws indeed.

Just to be clear, I really like this book quite a lot. Enough so that I've now taken it out twice from the library, and I plan to buy a copy as soon as I get the chance. Whoops, almost forgot to mention: the art is very nicely done as well.

It's just a pity that the series didn't continue. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for Troy Hickman in the future.

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Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 (Steam Boy Ani-Manga) Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've been complaining that a lot of graphic novels are confusing. Usually, that's because they're badly written and poorly illustrated; that is, the drawing themselves are pretty eye candy, but they don't always make a lot of sense.



But what made Steamboy confusing was that it's backwards. It starts with page 181-something, and ends with page 1. The cover is on the back. And you read it back-to-front, right-to-left from panel to panel. The words themselves are read left-to-right, but even within conjoined word ballons phrases are read right-to-left.

That's freaky. It took a while to get used to. And there were times throughout the book that I found myself getting a little confused about which panel came first on a page.

I'll admit that the thought also crossed my mind that this back-to-front reading might mess up my mind somehow. :D

There's a weird system of sound effects ("FX") too, but I am not going to spend all my time flipping from the last (i.e. first) page and back to translate the weird symbols that represent sound effects. Life's too short for that sort of crap.

That said, it's not at all a bad book. The illustrations are nicely done with a sort of old-fashioned steampunk feel (which you'd expect in a book titled Steamboy, of course). The writing is rather sparse but reasonably well-done. Given the size of the book (over 180 extremely thick pages), I was surprised at how relatively little plot there was in it. This is the first installment of a series, but even so it seemed very...well, in 180+ pages I'd expect more to be accomplished.

Will I read the other books in the series? Maybe. They're available free in the library, after all. But I'm not particularly looking forward to it. All in all this was a clever-ish idea, and it has been decently executed, but so far my socks have definitely not been knocked off.

The upcoming movie may work better than the graphic novel(s), I suspect. Unless they filmed that backwards, too.

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Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 (Steam Boy Ani-Manga) Steamboy Ani-Manga: 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I've been complaining that a lot of graphic novels are confusing. Usually, that's because they're badly written and poorly illustrated; that is, the drawing themselves are pretty eye candy, but they don't always make a lot of sense.



But what made Steamboy confusing was that it's backwards. It starts with page 181-something, and ends with page 1. The cover is on the back. And you read it back-to-front, right-to-left from panel to panel. The words themselves are read left-to-right, but even within conjoined word ballons phrases are read right-to-left.

That's freaky. It took a while to get used to. And there were times throughout the book that I found myself getting a little confused about which panel came first on a page.

I'll admit that the thought also crossed my mind that this back-to-front reading might mess up my mind somehow. :D

There's a weird system of sound effects ("FX") too, but I am not going to spend all my time flipping from the last (i.e. first) page and back to translate the weird symbols that represent sound effects. Life's too short for that sort of crap.

That said, it's not at all a bad book. The illustrations are nicely done with a sort of old-fashioned steampunk feel (which you'd expect in a book titled Steamboy, of course). The writing is rather sparse but reasonably well-done. Given the size of the book (over 180 extremely thick pages), I was surprised at how relatively little plot there was in it. This is the first installment of a series, but even so it seemed very...well, in 180+ pages I'd expect more to be accomplished.

Will I read the other books in the series? Maybe. They're available free in the library, after all. But I'm not particularly looking forward to it. All in all this was a clever-ish idea, and it has been decently executed, but so far my socks have definitely not been knocked off.

The upcoming movie may work better than the graphic novel(s), I suspect. Unless they filmed that backwards, too.

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Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (Top Ten) Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
Brilliant.

Call him what you like, but there's no denying it; Alan Moore is brilliant. And in Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, he proves once again that he can grip a reader without the usual "big name" comic-book characters.

That's not to say that the characters in TT:TFN are completely original. In fact, that's a large part of the charm; finding and recognizing characters who can't be identified within the text by name for copyright/trademark reasons, but who are identifiable nonetheless. Look carefully, and you'll swear you see Kal-El, or possibly his father...as well as his earthly secret identity. You'll catch a glimpse of a certain Friendly Ghost, if you're sharp. Not to mention a well-known large-forearmed sailor man and his rather enormous nemesis.

I even spotted a rather ghoulish couple who frequently graced the pages of the New Yorker in days gone by, and were later adapted to television.

But that's just the frosting on the cake. The cake itself is a cracking good story; the story of a city after the end of World War II, a new city filled with the various super-powered and otherwise incredible characters who participated in the war (including to my amusement an analog of comic strip adviser Mary Worth).

I won't spoil the book for you. But the characters and plot are up to the usual high standards of Moore at his best. The art is also quite good, with a unique and memorable style that makes the search for familiar characters (on the second or third re-reading) a pleasure. This was a book that I didn't want to return to the library. And when I finished reading it, I wished there was more.

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Top Ten: The Forty-Niners (Top Ten) Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore


My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
Brilliant.

Call him what you like, but there's no denying it; Alan Moore is brilliant. And in Top Ten: The Forty-Niners, he proves once again that he can grip a reader without the usual "big name" comic-book characters.

That's not to say that the characters in TT:TFN are completely original. In fact, that's a large part of the charm; finding and recognizing characters who can't be identified within the text by name for copyright/trademark reasons, but who are identifiable nonetheless. Look carefully, and you'll swear you see Kal-El, or possibly his father...as well as his earthly secret identity. You'll catch a glimpse of a certain Friendly Ghost, if you're sharp. Not to mention a well-known large-forearmed sailor man and his rather enormous nemesis.

I even spotted a rather ghoulish couple who frequently graced the pages of the New Yorker in days gone by, and were later adapted to television.

But that's just the frosting on the cake. The cake itself is a cracking good story; the story of a city after the end of World War II, a new city filled with the various super-powered and otherwise incredible characters who participated in the war (including to my amusement an analog of comic strip adviser Mary Worth).

I won't spoil the book for you. But the characters and plot are up to the usual high standards of Moore at his best. The art is also quite good, with a unique and memorable style that makes the search for familiar characters (on the second or third re-reading) a pleasure. This was a book that I didn't want to return to the library. And when I finished reading it, I wished there was more.

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Here are a few recent book reviews. They pained me.
The Number of the Beast The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I feel very conflicted about this book. It's one of the ones that I've re-read every year or two; it's large, and once you start it it's very hard to put down. Heinlein, whatever his faults, was a storyteller - and a gripping one.


Read more... )
View all my reviews.
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Here are a few recent book reviews. They pained me.
The Number of the Beast The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein


My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I feel very conflicted about this book. It's one of the ones that I've re-read every year or two; it's large, and once you start it it's very hard to put down. Heinlein, whatever his faults, was a storyteller - and a gripping one.


Read more... )
View all my reviews.

Justice

Nov. 5th, 2008 11:57 am
bobquasit: (Default)
I took out some graphic novels from the library recently, including all three hardcovers that make up the DC series Justice.

It's about the Justice League of America. All their greatest enemies (except the Joker) team up and take them down. Lots of "big" stuff happens. And in the end there's a reset and everything is basically back to where it was.

My review: pretty lame. Not memorable. Confusing, but not because I was in over my head; because it was just NOT WELL WRITTEN. Pretty art, but that's about all that can be said for it.

More and more, I have to say that DC and Marvel are only good when they have one of the best writers working for them. But most of their stuff just sucks.

I also read Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore a while ago. Now HE can write - he's the best there is, I would say. The book was FASCINATING, even though Moore didn't have the advantage of working with classic characters like Batman and Superman. I read it over and over, and didn't want to return it to the library!

Justice

Nov. 5th, 2008 11:57 am
bobquasit: (Default)
I took out some graphic novels from the library recently, including all three hardcovers that make up the DC series Justice.

It's about the Justice League of America. All their greatest enemies (except the Joker) team up and take them down. Lots of "big" stuff happens. And in the end there's a reset and everything is basically back to where it was.

My review: pretty lame. Not memorable. Confusing, but not because I was in over my head; because it was just NOT WELL WRITTEN. Pretty art, but that's about all that can be said for it.

More and more, I have to say that DC and Marvel are only good when they have one of the best writers working for them. But most of their stuff just sucks.

I also read Top Ten: The Forty-Niners by Alan Moore a while ago. Now HE can write - he's the best there is, I would say. The book was FASCINATING, even though Moore didn't have the advantage of working with classic characters like Batman and Superman. I read it over and over, and didn't want to return it to the library!

Geek Heaven

Jan. 8th, 2007 09:31 am
bobquasit: (Sam - Holy ^@%#!)
Wow. Just...wow.

I can't tell you how much I wish that every one of you who is a gamer or genre geek was within driving distance of me, because there's a place I'd love to take you to. It would blow your mind.

Unfortunately the person I know who would probably like this place the best can't really travel; I'd never be able to get him there. And that's a real pity; not a cliché in this case, it REALLY IS sad that I can't get him there (and I'm sure he knows who he is).

I asked the guys in my D&D game about local game stores, and they told me about two of them. One of them is actually less than five minutes from where we play. Unfortunately, it's not very large or impressive; there isn't much for sale. They do have some amusing things, and Sebastian liked it, but there wasn't anything I wanted to pick up right away. I did order a couple of items (including a reversible Battlemat), but that was it. Incidentally, Teri thought that I seemed more knowledgeable about games than the guy who was running the store. That surprised me, because Teri's not that interested in gaming and she definitely wouldn't say something like that to pump up my ego; I'm sure she meant it.

The other store was in Worcester, Massachusetts, about a 45-minute drive away. According to the guys, it was much better; they had used games, comic books, and DVDs. I wanted to pick up some D&D 3.0 stuff, so on Saturday the three of us headed out. Sebastian didn't want to go (it was a horrible weekend for him in general; he was being really bad), but we managed to persuade him to come along without too much screaming.

Teri was driving. She usually does, and in any case she knows Worcester much better than I do (I don't know it at all, actually). I'd printed out directions from Google Maps.

Those directions sucked.

We went around and around in Worcester, and never saw the slightest sign of the street that we were supposed to take a left on. Finally Teri drove up to a couple of scary-looking winos in a very scary part of town and asked for directions. One of them gave us astonishingly detailed directions, and then asked us for four bucks for a train ticket. We gave him two, and then went on our way. I seriously doubted that the directions were any good. But I did that wino (and Teri) an injustice.

We were headed into an even scarier part of town, and I was pretty sure that we were lost. But suddenly I saw a small Armenian restaurant, and only a second later I saw It: That's Entertainment.

(Quick note: their website sucks. It's a clear case of someone going WAY overboard with an effect that they thought was cool, but which slows down the browsing process unacceptably and won't display well on every browser.)

As I was saying, it was a scary neighborhood. Worcester is a pretty tough city. The storefronts were covered with iron bars and grilles. The store itself looked dingy and dark from the outside. But the windows were covered with posters for Superman and other comic-book and computer game heroes. Sebastian got out of the car and got really excited.

We went into the front, which was a dimly-lit corridor with a lot of geeky posters on the walls. At the far end was a doorway. And through the doorway was...magic.

Which, in this case, was a huge room. It was dingy and old. And simply packed with new and used video games, comic books, roleplaying games, books, and memorabilia. They had plush Mario and Luigi. They had Cthulhu stuff. GI Joes from when I was a kid. Beatles model kits. Every old comic book I ever used to read. All the Mongoose RuneQuest stuff (not that I'd ever buy any of that). And boxes and boxes of D&D materials. Most of the D&D books were $9.95 each, and all game materials - both new and used - were 15% off on top of that.

I was looking for 3.0 Forgotten Realms material. I'd bought a new 3.0 DMG earlier that day for $30, and now I was kicking myself, because they had copies in good condition for less than ten bucks here. But I picked up the Monster Manual, Magic of Faerun, and Defenders of the Faith - that's the guidebook for clerics and paladins. I also picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which turned out to be a sucky game) for the Gamecube for Sebastian, and two Anita Blake comic books for Teri.

Then we had to leave, because my back was hurting and Sebastian really wanted to buy a $200 GI Joe storm trooper carrier (okay, that wasn't really what it was called, but it was a big vehicle about four feet long and two feet wide) from around 1970; I had to explain what "fragile" meant to him as we took him out of the store. On the way out I also bought him an Itchy & Scratchy mini-mug from a gum-ball machine. He is now determined to own the whole set.

Sigh...it was just such an amazing place. I didn't get to check out as much as a third of it; for example, I didn't get to see any of the books or graphic novels. The prices were very reasonable, and there was more cool stuff in a single place than I've seen anywhere, even in New York or at Arisia.

We'll have to go back when I have some more money to spend. Thank goodness Teri liked it...and of course, Sebastian was an instant fan.

It's geek heaven. It really is.

Geek Heaven

Jan. 8th, 2007 09:31 am
bobquasit: (Sam - Holy ^@%#!)
Wow. Just...wow.

I can't tell you how much I wish that every one of you who is a gamer or genre geek was within driving distance of me, because there's a place I'd love to take you to. It would blow your mind.

Unfortunately the person I know who would probably like this place the best can't really travel; I'd never be able to get him there. And that's a real pity; not a cliché in this case, it REALLY IS sad that I can't get him there (and I'm sure he knows who he is).

I asked the guys in my D&D game about local game stores, and they told me about two of them. One of them is actually less than five minutes from where we play. Unfortunately, it's not very large or impressive; there isn't much for sale. They do have some amusing things, and Sebastian liked it, but there wasn't anything I wanted to pick up right away. I did order a couple of items (including a reversible Battlemat), but that was it. Incidentally, Teri thought that I seemed more knowledgeable about games than the guy who was running the store. That surprised me, because Teri's not that interested in gaming and she definitely wouldn't say something like that to pump up my ego; I'm sure she meant it.

The other store was in Worcester, Massachusetts, about a 45-minute drive away. According to the guys, it was much better; they had used games, comic books, and DVDs. I wanted to pick up some D&D 3.0 stuff, so on Saturday the three of us headed out. Sebastian didn't want to go (it was a horrible weekend for him in general; he was being really bad), but we managed to persuade him to come along without too much screaming.

Teri was driving. She usually does, and in any case she knows Worcester much better than I do (I don't know it at all, actually). I'd printed out directions from Google Maps.

Those directions sucked.

We went around and around in Worcester, and never saw the slightest sign of the street that we were supposed to take a left on. Finally Teri drove up to a couple of scary-looking winos in a very scary part of town and asked for directions. One of them gave us astonishingly detailed directions, and then asked us for four bucks for a train ticket. We gave him two, and then went on our way. I seriously doubted that the directions were any good. But I did that wino (and Teri) an injustice.

We were headed into an even scarier part of town, and I was pretty sure that we were lost. But suddenly I saw a small Armenian restaurant, and only a second later I saw It: That's Entertainment.

(Quick note: their website sucks. It's a clear case of someone going WAY overboard with an effect that they thought was cool, but which slows down the browsing process unacceptably and won't display well on every browser.)

As I was saying, it was a scary neighborhood. Worcester is a pretty tough city. The storefronts were covered with iron bars and grilles. The store itself looked dingy and dark from the outside. But the windows were covered with posters for Superman and other comic-book and computer game heroes. Sebastian got out of the car and got really excited.

We went into the front, which was a dimly-lit corridor with a lot of geeky posters on the walls. At the far end was a doorway. And through the doorway was...magic.

Which, in this case, was a huge room. It was dingy and old. And simply packed with new and used video games, comic books, roleplaying games, books, and memorabilia. They had plush Mario and Luigi. They had Cthulhu stuff. GI Joes from when I was a kid. Beatles model kits. Every old comic book I ever used to read. All the Mongoose RuneQuest stuff (not that I'd ever buy any of that). And boxes and boxes of D&D materials. Most of the D&D books were $9.95 each, and all game materials - both new and used - were 15% off on top of that.

I was looking for 3.0 Forgotten Realms material. I'd bought a new 3.0 DMG earlier that day for $30, and now I was kicking myself, because they had copies in good condition for less than ten bucks here. But I picked up the Monster Manual, Magic of Faerun, and Defenders of the Faith - that's the guidebook for clerics and paladins. I also picked up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which turned out to be a sucky game) for the Gamecube for Sebastian, and two Anita Blake comic books for Teri.

Then we had to leave, because my back was hurting and Sebastian really wanted to buy a $200 GI Joe storm trooper carrier (okay, that wasn't really what it was called, but it was a big vehicle about four feet long and two feet wide) from around 1970; I had to explain what "fragile" meant to him as we took him out of the store. On the way out I also bought him an Itchy & Scratchy mini-mug from a gum-ball machine. He is now determined to own the whole set.

Sigh...it was just such an amazing place. I didn't get to check out as much as a third of it; for example, I didn't get to see any of the books or graphic novels. The prices were very reasonable, and there was more cool stuff in a single place than I've seen anywhere, even in New York or at Arisia.

We'll have to go back when I have some more money to spend. Thank goodness Teri liked it...and of course, Sebastian was an instant fan.

It's geek heaven. It really is.

Superbear

Oct. 30th, 2006 10:46 am
bobquasit: (Omac)
Yesterday Sebastian went to have his five-year-old pictures taken. The last few times hadn't gone well; the people at The Picture Place really didn't seem to be able to take good pictures. And it wasn't that Sebastian wasn't posing well, or anything like that. Usually the problem was that the pictures were coming out so incredibly dark that you could hardly see his features.

This time they'd switched to digital equipment, and the results were a hundred times better. And he posed wonderfully. So as a reward, Teri's mother bought him a Superman costume for his bear, Harry Bear, from Build-A-Bear. He'd have preferred Spiderman, but they were all out.

Anyway, this morning I was riding in the back seat with Sebastian, who of course had brought Superbear with him. As we played and talked, I had an outbreak of geekiness. I noticed that Superbear had a utility belt with an odd symbol on it; I didn't remember the symbol from the comics or movies. But it any case it suddenly struck me that it was ridiculous for Superman to wear a utility belt. It was a pure rip-off of Batman!

"Sebastian, why does Superman wear a utility belt? He doesn't need it! He has super-strength, super-hearing, x-ray and heat vision...he even has super-breath! Why does he need a utility belt?"

"To hold up his pants, Daddy!"

Superbear

Oct. 30th, 2006 10:46 am
bobquasit: (Omac)
Yesterday Sebastian went to have his five-year-old pictures taken. The last few times hadn't gone well; the people at The Picture Place really didn't seem to be able to take good pictures. And it wasn't that Sebastian wasn't posing well, or anything like that. Usually the problem was that the pictures were coming out so incredibly dark that you could hardly see his features.

This time they'd switched to digital equipment, and the results were a hundred times better. And he posed wonderfully. So as a reward, Teri's mother bought him a Superman costume for his bear, Harry Bear, from Build-A-Bear. He'd have preferred Spiderman, but they were all out.

Anyway, this morning I was riding in the back seat with Sebastian, who of course had brought Superbear with him. As we played and talked, I had an outbreak of geekiness. I noticed that Superbear had a utility belt with an odd symbol on it; I didn't remember the symbol from the comics or movies. But it any case it suddenly struck me that it was ridiculous for Superman to wear a utility belt. It was a pure rip-off of Batman!

"Sebastian, why does Superman wear a utility belt? He doesn't need it! He has super-strength, super-hearing, x-ray and heat vision...he even has super-breath! Why does he need a utility belt?"

"To hold up his pants, Daddy!"

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