The Korean War Book is Here At Last!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/korean-war-volume-2-clayton-murwin/1118733132?ean=9780983266723

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Spoilerific – Geek Lust: Pop Culture, Gadgets, and Other Desires of the Likeable Modern Geek

Yes, I know, I’ve been very quiet lately. This past Christmas, I was quite caught up in shopping, keeping tabs on friends, visiting family, and trying hard to forget that I was actually feeling somewhat Scroogey. Thankfully, a certain Christmas present cheered me up a great deal, and I’m not referring to a torch carrying ghost straight out of Dickens.

What would be a good book to give to a woman who rejoiced over receiving a copy of Battle Los Angeles and named the pistol crossbow she got Li’l Asskicker? My husband didn’t have to think too hard about that. He gave me a copy of this new compilation of commentaries on most things geeky, then immediately borrowed it for his own reading pleasure.

What caught my attention the most were the footnotes.¹ Author Alex Langley kept me laughing from the very first one which described the origin of the word “geek” onward to “And if you haven’t been reading this book, what are you doing reading the end? Cheater!”

At only 239 pages including an index and some pretty thorough end notes², Geek Lust packs a lot of laughs, fun factoids, general weirdness, and earnest appreciation for the odd objects of geeky fascination in a pretty slim read.

¹ … humorous asides and marginal glosses by the author, actually, rather than real footnotes.

² Real end notes, citing sources!

Spoilerific: A Review of Amazing X-Men 1

It’s all in the title of this post. If you want to avoid spoilers for the long-awaited inaugural issue of Amazing X-Men, read no further. And yes, you might want to continue avoiding the comic book forums. You likely already have been if you don’t already know the biggest spoiler.

Here goes.

Nightcrawler is back in action, and not just as a meager mutant superhero. He’s on to bigger and better things as a defender of Heaven itself.

Ever since April of 2010, when I decided I’d had it up to here with the Major Character Death used as a gimmick, I knew that- no matter what Tom Brevoort insisted- Nightcrawler would inevitably return. That’s just the way things are with licensed intellectual properties. I just was not sure if I should look forward to his return with eagerness or dread.

Would he come back full of religious angst over being yanked out of Heaven? Would he have been written as having experienced no afterlife, and return as a traumatized atheist? Would he go back to being fuzzy, blue, religiously themed wallpaper, or become just another one of a long, boring line of bitter antiheroes?

I almost hoped that he’d just show up, and someone, preferably Kitty Pryde, would say, “Kurt! You’re back!”

He’d reply, “Of course I’m back. I’m Catholic. I believe in that sort of thing. Furthermore, you’ve seen far too much of people returning from the dead to ever doubt I’d return.” He’d have words with Wolverine and Cyclops, go off and reform Excalibur or do something even more awesome, and nothing more would be said about it.

Jason Aaron so far has opted to do something completely different from- and probably better than- any of the aforementioned scenarios, making sure to at the very least deliver on the promise of keeping Kurt fun and adventurous.
This issue answered some questions, like about the bamfs- which, by the way, when drawn by Ed McGuinness are the cutest I’ve seen since Dave Cockrum pencilled the original alternate-dimension mini-crawlers. It also left me with more questions. How did the bamfs get to the Jean Grey School in the first place? How has Nightcrawler been able to enjoy a heavenly brewski if he’s done nothing but hang around the edge of Paradise pining for the life he left behind? And how did Firestar change clothes so quickly?

I’m sure we’ll get answers to all these questions except for the one about Firestar’s quick-change in the next four issues. And I’m happily looking forward to them all.

Maj. Gen. Frederick “Boots” Blesse, USAF

Maj. Gen. Blesse, drawn here by Clayton Murwin, talked about one of his most daring adventures for the Korean War project we’re Kickstarting. Sadly, he passed away before the book could go into print, but you can help make his legacy better known by contributing.

Fanfilm Double Feature: The Promised Post about Jim Butcher

Warning! This post is full of an evening’s worth of fannish contemporary fantasy entertainment! You might want to set aside an evening for this- preferably tonight.

I’ve been feeling particularly lucky these past several days. One of them was that I had just finished reading Cold Days, the seventh book of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Normally, I would not consider that much of an accomplishment, except that I never just read one book at a time. In this case, I was also reading Journey of Heroes while also trying to keep up with the FUBAR books, The Shadow, The Dresden Files comics, Wolverine and the X-Men, and The Walking Dead.

Then I found out that I had pulled that off in time for Jim Butcher’s birthday, which also happens to be the birthday of my brother Kreg and my friend Robert. (Happy birthday you guys. Stay out of trouble!) So here’s a little present. I’m not actually writing a book review, though I did indeed like Cold Days and eagerly look forward to the next installment, Skin Game. Rather I will share how some people I suppose we could call Dresden-philes have chosen to pay tribute.

We “officially” premiered this movie at Missoula, Montana’s MisCon back in May, and Jim Butcher just so happened to be a guest. I also say “we,” because it’s not just another crazy coincidence that all the people listed in the credits have the last name of Finnigan. Like a lot of fanfilms, this was a family affair. Rather than just waste an entire panel talking about how awesome our movie was, however, we showed a preview for another fanfilm that was, at the time, still a work in progress.

What did Jim Butcher think? After he saw our movie and the trailer, he had this to say to Tower of Turtles Productions, the people who made this next movie.

jim butcher

Because you’ve put up with my rambling so far, I won’t just show the preview. I’ll reward you with the whole thing. Just another warning – This movie is not for the little ones.

Review – Journey of Heroes: The Story of the 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team

A little while ago, I stumbled over an article in Stars and Stripes that made me immediately make room in my comic book budget for another purchase. Writer Stacey Hayashi and artist Damon Wong, along with a legion of supporters, gave some of the lesser known stories of World War II a manga-style treatment- using chibis.

My tastes for comic books and military history as well as a desire to see the US Army’s “Most Decorated and Decimated” 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team get more of the recognition they deserve prompted me to consider buying the book. Curiosity dictated that I obtain the book as soon as possible. While I thought a manga would be interesting, I just had to know how chibis, which I regarded as little two-dimensional embodiments of everything cutesy, could possibly appropriately depict some of our bravest and most overlooked soldiers as they faced the bloodiest fighting on the European front.

The 100th and the 442nd, for those who don’t already know, were made up entirely of Nisei- second generation Americans of Japanese ancestry. Buddhaheads came from Hawaii, spoke pidgin, and were much better off than the kotonks, a lot of whom came from the internment camps on the mainland. They had a tough time getting along at first- the kotonks getting their nickname from the sound of their heads hitting the floor during brawls. The book touches on how these soldiers from such different backgrounds came to understand each other. Eventually, they found commonalities besides being American and Japanese. Their ideals were a quintessentially American blend of Old World and New, and they fought and sacrificed to prove it.

The book follows our average Buddhahead from Hawaii, on a trip to an internment camp to gain some perspective, and off to battle in Italy and France, with a flash forward showing what was to come for those who survived. The language is plain and concise, accented with just enough pidgen to make it seem authentic without compromising the ability of a mainlander like me with only a smattering of Japanese to fully understand. The matter-of-fact manner in which some lines are written also emphasizes by stark contrast the physically and emotionally harrowing nature of the journey.

As for the chibis, they’re cute, but not inappropriately so. They seem to better express the emotions the soldiers experienced- from fun and camaraderie, to grief, horror, exhaustion, and courage- without going comically overboard. Drawing everyone in the book in such a manner or even daring to give such treatment to such serious topics like war and racism was a huge gamble. I suppose, however, that it would only be appropriate for a book about a combat team with the motto of “Go for broke.”

The gamble paid off. I did not regret having purchased an extra copy to give to someone I know who’s more than deserving, and the copy I’m keeping for myself already has a place among my favorite comics. If you want to similarly add this to your collection of favorites, you can order it at http://www.442comicbook.com.

Why I Worked on “Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan”

soldier marine and me

It was a few years and several haircuts ago when I first got involved with Heroes Fallen Studios and scripted a couple of accounts for Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. While the marine pictured here showed his appreciation by planting a great big smack on my cheek, that was only icing on the cake.

Ben and me

I did this for people like Ben,  a soldier I met at an Idaho State University Veterans’ Sanctuary gathering. Ben had a lot of stories to share and simply needed someone to listen.

Nick Clayton Collette and me

I did this for Nick, Clayton and Collette, as well as others among the many wonderful people I met at Chicago Comic Con. Nick is a marine. Clayton and Collette are civilians, but they’ve taken it upon themselves to establish Heroes Fallen Studios and get the ball rolling, creating comic books as a forum for our veterans to share their stories. They couldn’t do all that on their own, so I became one of many who signed on to help.

SSGT Lamm

I did this for Marine Staff Sergeant Lamm at the Magic Valley Air Show in Twin Falls, Idaho…

The boss and me

…and for Blue Angels boss Captain Greg McWherter, because F18 Hornets and the pilots who fly them are awesome!

bob jani and fam

I did this for Bob and Jani, pictured with my family at the first Climb for the Heroes. Their son, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 and is still being held by the Haqqani network.

harris and me 2

Harris is another reason. I met him while doing a book signing at Storyteller Comics and Games in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Image

The next day, at our second Climb for the Heroes event, my daughter and I met Ted, a veteran who had recently returned from Afghanistan. He was quite glad to take this picture of us at the summit of South Dakota’s Harney Peak.

Sherri Chris and Me

I did it for Sherri and Chris, soldiers who just happened to come to Idaho Falls, Idaho’s Outland Comics for Free Comic Book Day.

CJ and me

I got involved for CJ, pictured with me, and for Scott, Victor, Louis, Brian, Mike, Jose, the Roberts, and everyone else who shared an account or two for the book- especially Kyle and Sudsy, on whose stories I was privileged to work.

slcc airmen and me

I got involved and chose to stay heavily involved for these airmen that I met at the inaugural Salt Lake Comic Con- and for “Feet” Jensen, for Dad, Ed, Zach, Kevin, Michael, the Baldwins, Sarge Marge, Tammy, Dirk, Doug, Gabe, John, Fr. Worster, and everyone who serves or has served in the armed forces, as soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, or- yes- coasties.

“I get it,” some readers might think. “You’re doing this because you support the troops.” Well, anyone can “support the troops.” Anyone can send money to some faceless entity. Anyone can slap a yellow ribbon on their bumper. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do something more personal and meaningful, something more likely to have a direct impact on the troops and the general reading public.

I also wanted to take part in setting a precedent, hoping we could continue to share the stories of veterans from other conflicts, like the Korean War, before their stories are lost to history.

And I also wanted to set an example.

Elly and Hero

Shortly after Untold Stories… hit the shelves, my daughter was presented a unique school assignment. She had the opportunity to interview Hero Shiosake, who, during World War II, went from an internment camp to fighting on the Italian front as one of the 442nd Infantry.

She didn’t just listen and take notes because her teacher required it. She recognized the importance of getting these stories not just from some history book, but directly from someone who was there.

I think she did me proud.