Friday, February 11, 2011

Meanwhile at TWC - Free Comics 02/09/11

One day, companies will stop uploading great comics for free on their app, but until then, I get to review them. This week around was another wave of good comics, including on my favorite issues ever. The comics I reviewed were...

Captain America: First Vengeance #1
Devil's Wake #1
Thor: Blood Oath #1
X-Factor #13

So head over there and check them out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meanwhile at ThoughtBalloons - Batgirl

This was one of those weeks where I barely know the character outside of the most superficial sense. Haven't read her current series at all, I think I've read some forgettable appearances of her as Spoiler, and pretty much it. So this week was Stephanie Brown's turn, a.k.a. Batgirl. While doing some research, I came across a story point that interested me, and extrapolated it to an idea I already had (but thought was not good enough). The result? A story called "All in the Family"...
STEPHANIE: How DID you find me anyway? Even *I* didn’t know who you were.
CHARACTER: You have to thank my grandfather for that.
And to be honest, I'm actually pretty happy about. And I only used four panels, which is always a plus, I think.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


For the past week or, a strange set of climatological circumstances has settled on top of Spain. High humidity with no rain, almost no wind, and clear skies with mild temperatures (and I believe low pressure, but don't quote me on that). However, this has brought about a curious side effect, one that has been on the news quite a lot the last couple of days. 

You see, because of the weather conditions, the pollution caused by cars, factories and all other type of urban sources has NOT been dissipating. Quite the contrary, it has been accumulating for over a week, and in cities like Barcelona and, more importantly, Madrid, the situation has been pretty extreme. Video footage from outside the cities show a clear cover of smog all around and through them. Warnings were issued for people with health conditions, and all that. 

I live in Valencia, which is a much smaller city by comparison (population around 1 and a half million), and I thought it wouldn't affect me much. However, just the other day when I went to walk my dog at night, I started to notice it. There was a very thick fog that wouldn't let you see very far, more so than normal, and a distinctive ashy smell in the air. At least here and in Barcelona, the cities are right next to the sea, which I can imagine plays a role in dissipating all this, but I can imagine it's much worse in Madrid.

In the end, though, this smog cloud has a silver lining. It seems that some of the bigger cities are going to start implementing some restrictions to curb down the pollution. Still too early for any results, but in the long run this is probably going to raise awareness and public perception towards the issue.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crunch Time!

I have less than I week until my course starts, and that means it's crunch time for me. I am finishing getting ready with my pre-courses studies, which involve reading Learning Teaching, a book on teaching techniques, as well as some self-imposed grammar work. I'm almost done with the grammar book (I predict that I will definitely be finished by Friday) and I finished the other book weeks ago, though now I'm re-reading it some parts of it to give myself a refresher. 

My course starts on Monday, and I honestly don't know what to expect. I decided to prepare myself as much as possible, since I will probably have a handicap compared with everyone else (in the fact that everyone else in the class will probably be native to the United Kingdom). Even then, I will probably have to work twice as hard as everyone else to keep and catch up, but what's life without a few challenges, am I right? (the bravado is probably concealing the fact that inside, I am nervously trembling in fear and/or anticipation)

As if I didn't have enough going on, I'm probably about 80% done with my campaign on Dragon Age: Origins. I want to finish it before I start school, since I know I likely won't be able to play while I'm busy with course and homework. I've tried to limit myself to only a couple of hours per day, so I don't think I'll be finishing before Monday. Damn priorities and acting like a responsible adult...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Photo: Aboard Tour Bus

My wife Janett filming videos from the second floor of a tourist bus in London.

(I bet she is going to say that she doesn't like how she came out in this photo)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kurt Busiek is a Genius

In other occasions, I had heard about Kurt Busiek's fabled encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel continuity. The other day, I got to experience it first hand. The writer of titles like Avengers, Marvels, and his own Astro City must have the memory of an elephant.

I don't remember how, but I sent Busiek a message via Twitter about Spanish in comics. Earlier that day, I had read an issue of Thor were he passed over Mexico, and there were some funny scenes with the translation being screwed up. Almost instantly, he sent a reply (which is rare in of itself on creators, most of them just ignore you) and not only he knew what I was talking about, he knew specifically what issue and what scene I was referring to! Keep in mind that this was a comic that was released in 1979!

As if that wasn't impressive enough, he even remembered a specific quote from it, and he recited it verbatim. Holy shit! Later, he said he remembered the issue pretty clearly because he had read it for his research when he was writing the Avengers title... in 1998! That is more than 12 years ago, and he still remembered it clearly. I can barely remember what I read 12 minutes ago, let alone 12 months or 12 years ago.

Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that Kurt Busiek must be some kind of genius with photographic memory. Either that, or he went and looked up the issue in question while he was chatting with me. But I am leaning more on the first one.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Photo: Camden Town

Near the entrance of Camden Lock. What a wonderfully strange place!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meanwhile at TWC - Free Comics 02/02/11

These Free Comics column are going to be the death of me. I don't know where I got the bright idea to run them on Fridays, but they are a pain to write. I really need to start writing them sooner, or at least write it in parts. In any case, this week I reviewed...

Black Panther #1
Box 13 (Vol. 2) #10
Celadore #1
Thor #283
War Machine #6

Pretty good haul this week, with one exception. See if you can find which one it was! Check out the rest, and as always, I appreciate any comments!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Meanwhile at TWC - Roy Lichtenstein

Over at The Weekly Crisis, I wrote a pretty long piece about Roy Lichtenstein, his contribution to pop art, and his connection with the world of comics. You would be surprised how many people don't realize how much he copied from actual comics, as opposed to just using the style. Check out what I had to say...
The modern equivalent of what Lichtenstein was doing in the 50’s and 60’s would be to run some other artist’s artwork through a Photoshop filter, hang it on a wall, and call it your own art. While there is something to be said for remixing, collages, and other forms of art that incorporate elements from other artists, I think we can all agree that such an argument is thrown out the window when 99% of the artwork is exactly like the original.
It's a personal and passionate piece, and one I'm actually pretty happy about. I wish I could write more like it, to be honest. *sigh*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Matt vs. the Stereotypes

I'm originally from Argentina. Not everyone might know this, but the stereotype of Argentinians is that we are loud mouthed, vain, full of ourselves, and that we think we are smarter and above everyone else. That's without even mentioning our speaking pattern, which means we pronounce everything with a hard "SH" sound (like in "cashier").

I am probably as far from that stereotype as you can get, or at least I try to be. I try to be respectful, I try to be humble, and I even try to modulate my speaking, so people don't realize I'm from Argentina. I've got plenty of experience of this, when I was living in Miami, and half the population was from Central and South America. The moment they noticed you were from Argentina, the floodgates opened for all the jokes you can possibly imagine, to laugh at all the stereotypes of Argentinians, whether I had earned them or not (more often the case). 

And you know what's the crazy thing? Even I will admit that the stereotypes are true. The majority of Argentinians I've met since I've left the country have fit comfortably into the stereotype. Not all of them, mind you, but enough for me to see why it was formed in the first place. Some of them are even part of my family, but they are not as bad as others. 

There was one memorable occasion, where my wife and me went to a family dinner (it was one of my cousin's birthday, I believe). She's already used to my family, and pretty used to my extended family. One of the invited people, however, was a friend of theirs, not a family member. This man was exactly how most people imagine the Argentinian stereotype to speak and act like. Loud, thinking he was the smartest person in the room, and spoke with an incredibly heavy accent. 

After the dinner was done, and we were heading home, my wife asked me what his deal was, why he was acting that way. You see, it was so incredibly over the top, that she thought he was putting on act, being  incredibly obnoxious Argentinian on purpose. No way could someone be like that. And yet, he was.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Photo: Near Big Ben

You know, I realized I never posted photos of my trip to London from way back in September. I think it's time to amend that!