Category Archives: Comics

And now for a review (of sorts) for The Dark Knight Rises

Sooooo… The Dark Knight Rises.

Before anyone asks, yes, I did cry at the end. Balled my eyes out for the last 15 minutes and had to stay right to the end of the credits to get myself in order. However, I’m actually finding it really hard to get my thoughts in order about the film. I can’t even decide if I really did like it or not because the emotional investment I have in the trilogy and Batman overhangs it all. Still, I do think it was an appropriate ending to the trilogy and I’m happy with how it concluded. My impressions so far are that I think the film was good but the first hour was a bit slow. It took awhile for it to gain momentum but once it got there it was pretty full-on. I think a second viewing will be most helpful in me working out what I think about the film.

I don’t need clarity on two things though.

Anna Hathaway totally rocks at Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She got it just right. Plus, I really like the fact that she was nearly as tall as Batman (I think the super high boots helped a lot!). The other is that I think The Dark Knight is the superior film – probably because Heath Ledger’s Joke was such an mind-bogglingly good performance. Don’t get me wrong, Bane made for a most excellent villain but Tom Hardy got nowhere near the heights of Heath Ledger. Still love Tom Hardy though. He was so good in Inception.

Comics references in the film are Knightfall and No Man’s Land. One of the fight scenes in the film was pretty close to one that happens in Knightfall. Usually I would link to the wikipedia entries but this time I’m not going to. It’ll give too much away for those who haven’t read them already. But I recommend No Man’s Land. It made for some great reading 🙂

A moment of sentiment

I remember sitting on the couch when I finally turned the last page of The Wake, the last book in The Sandman series and feeling bereft. I had become very emotionally invested in the story and characters, especially Morpheus. So when it all came to end and there was nothing else to read, I really did wonder what I was supposed to do in a world where there was no more Sandman to read. (Imagine my delight when I watched this.)

But this isn’t meant to be an entry about the joy that is The Sandman. No, the little story above is meant to be an illustration of how I’m feeling right now because I’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises.

Once again, I’m feeling rather bereft.

There’s no more Christopher Nolan Batman movies. It’s done. Finished. Concluded. And I once again find myself wondering what I’m going to do now that there’s no more new Batman films to watch.

I know there are plenty of people out there who will think I’m very weird for having such a huge emotional investment in a comic book character. It’s an odd thing for a girl to do. I’m supposed to be obsessed with hand bags and shoes but not this little black duck. Nope, I spend a lot of my disposable income on comic books.

Batman Begins came out about a year after I’d been through a horrible, hideously painful break-up of an eight year relationship. I was kidding myself that I was okay but I really wasn’t. I was stuck doing all the things I’d done before and I really wasn’t moving on from my now very dead relationship. I saw the film at the movies, like it but I didn’t really think about it that much again until it came out on DVD. That’s when the obsession started. I watched the movie repeatedly, sometimes several times a week. Then I watched all the documentaries on the disc and heard Chris Nolan talking about the comics he’d been inspired by. Being an obsessive little fan at this point, I decided I had to read them.

Within the space of about three months I had read all of the major Batman storylines from the last twenty years (and bought them all). And I had started collecting comics.

All because I saw a movie.

The significance of this is that it’s the first thing I did on my own after “the break-up”. For such a long time, I only thought about the wreckage of my relationship. I obsessed about it, wondering what I did wrong. But suddenly there were Batman comics. Stories, writers and artists to discover. Instead of living in the past, I was discovering new things. Because of Batman Begins, I now have friends all over the world, a brilliant art collection and have been to America four times. So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m more than a little sentimental about Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy coming to an end. It gave me life back and helped me move on.

I shall give the final word to Matt Wagner. One of my favourite comics is his story called Trinity. He set it in the early periods of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman’s crime fighting careers. It’s such a great example of everything that’s wonderful about comics and Batman.


Wonder Woman confronts Superman after yet another for her infuriating meeting with Batman (who she’s decided she really doesn’t like).

Wonder Woman: Why?

Superman: What?

Wonder Woman: Why do you allow him to continue like this? Don’t his methods make him little better than the very criminals he pursues?

Superman: I know. I felt that way once. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re both orphans. I had the benefits of a foster family, but Batman had to grow up on his own. But more important… I know his courage. I’ve seen him throw himself in harm’s way time and time again, all to rescue the lives of the innocent.


Superman: And remember, he’s got no extraphysical prowess like you and I.


Superman: I can’t find it in myself to deny the exercise of such bravery. Even if I don’t always agree with his style. In fact, I often wonder if I were an ordinary man, would I show the same valour?

My feet ended up being really, really wet

So, day three of Emerald City Comic Con and this time we deliberately slept in and missed the whole queuing up thing. I had pretty much gotten everything I wanted so there seemed little point in getting up early and rushing down to the convention centre.

We actually spent hardly any time at all at the con. It was decided to do the Seattle Underground Tour and get a little local history. For example, I didn’t know that Seattle burnt down in 1889 or that the term “Skid row” has its origins in the American English lexicon in the area (originally it was Skid Road as workers would chop down trees at the top of the cliffs surrounding Seattle and skid them down to the docks). I also didn’t know that the hills originally had a gradient of 49%. Try riding up those suckers!!

However, on the way to the tour it started to pour with rain and we got thoroughly soaked. I discovered that my new sneakers, whilst being quite water resistant, are definitely not waterproof and I had to squish my way through the tour with wet feet. It’s been awhile since I’ve been quite that cold.

This has been my first trip to Seattle where it’s rained so I suppose I should really count myself as fortunate. I do love Seattle though. It’s a wonderful city and I’ve enjoyed all my visits there. Plus this time I discovered the joy of the crepe shop right out of the front of the convention centre (last crepe from them was a lemon and sugar one – om nom nom nom nom nom).

Monday was lost to travel. We got up obscenely early (4am!) to get on a 7am flight to New York. It appears that the majority of direct flights to New York are either red eyes (no!!) or this early in the morning. This means that the Seattle airport is horrendously busy at a time when you would think it would be quiet. The queue to get through security was huge and we ended up getting to our gate at about 6:15am even though we’d been at the airport since 5am. Luckily we’d been warned to be there early.

New York is intimidating. It’s a city on a simply massive scale and it makes all Australian cities look like small country towns in comparison. And my, do New Yorkers love their car horns! That old joke of the smallest measurement of time being the time between the light turning green and someone leaning on their horn? It’s true!

Now my feet really hurt

Day two of Emerald City Comic Con and my day started with queuing up with everyone else. They opened the doors 15 minutes early and I made a beeline for Bruce Timm’s table, determined to get on his list for the day. I had promises to keep! And I met with success. Hooray!

Then it was time for a Nutella crepe but with bananas this time.

Today was spent waiting in line for Barry Kitson. It’s been four years since I last got a sketch from him so I figured it was time for another one. Thus I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Thank god Barry is such a pleasant person to be around and he usually attracts equally nice people who wait for his sketches. Barry started my piece at about 6:10 and the show was closing at 7pm. It was a race to see what would happen first – Barry finishing the piece or the bugle being sounded to indicate the end of the day and then the dimming of the lights. The bugle won. Barry decided he couldn’t finish the piece in the reduced light so I’ll be back in his line tomorrow to see him put the final touches on it. Maybe. I might just sleep in instead. After all, my feet are killing me!

Barry Kitson working on his first Supergirl piece for the day
Barry working his magic with a stunning Supergirl watercolour. Seattle, 31 March.

Storm trooper getting Matt Wagner to sign some comics
This is the comic book creator you’re looking for. Hey, Storm Troopers like comics too! This one has excellent taste as he’s getting stuff signed by Matt Wagner. Seattle, 31 March.

Two girls dressed up as daleks
I’d have serious trouble seeing the daleks as a threat if they all looked like this 😉 Seattle, 31 March.

Mum and baby both dressed up as Catwoman
Cutest. Catwoman. EVER! Seattle, 31 March.

Woman and baby both dressed as Catwoman
All together now: aaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! Seattle, 31 March.

Man dressed up as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story
To infinity and beyond!!! Seattle, 31 March.

My feet hurt

Day one of Emerald City Comic Con and my day started with a Nutella crepe 🙂

We couldn’t buy tickets for the show until 12 pm so we wandered around for a bit at Pike Place Market. I always forget how much a warren it is until I’m in there and get lost. But it’s such a cool place to visit. Didn’t see any fish being thrown this time though.

The original Starbucks
It all started here. The original Starbucks. Seattle, 30 March.

Then to the con for the afternoon… Ah, the joys of endlessly lining up. But I did get myself two really cool t-shirts, including a Batgirl one I’ve wanted since I saw it on my first trip in 2008. Very happy about that 🙂 But of course, the best thing was seeing people I haven’t seen for two years. So great to get a hug from Tim. And people actually remembered me!

Bat cave made from Lego
Lego!! Very cool BatCave build out of Lego. The car which was tucked into the back of the cave actually spun around. Seattle, 30 March.

Captain America and Green Lantern made from Lego
“In brightest day…” Lego Captain America and Green Lantern. Seattle 30 March.

Tm Sale working on a sketch
Tim Sale working on a sketch for a fan. Seattle, 30 March.

Tim with a handmade cushion featuring one of his covers
Tim with an absolutely brilliant knitted cushion made by a fan. Seattle 30 March.

Jesus and Captain America
And then there was Jesus with Captain America. Seattle, 30 March.

Back again tomorrow to see if I can get on Bruce Timm’s list and then once again get back in line for Mr Kitson. And I still haven’t found either Phil Noto or Phil Hester.

Tree project

Week sixteen

Perhaps it’s time I did a time-lapse thing…

Nah, I’m gonna lie on my couch and watch Batman: Under the Red Hood again. Best of the DC animated movies thus far. I’m trying to remind myself why I’m getting the Batman comics when the return of Bruce Wayne storyline was so crap. Grant Morrison really needs someone to say no to him on occasion. And an editor. The one shots were pretty good though – probably because Morrison didn’t write them.

Bought myself a present

Unpublished page from Fears and Mr Sale is going to ink it for me 🙂

Well, I say bought but what I mean is put on lay-by (layaway) so I can pay it off over time. Then it’ll go to Tim who will turn it into yet another masterpiece – not that it isn’t already one.

Tree project

Week ten

Today has been so gorgeous. Hopefully tomorrow is just as nice.

I’m making my way through Batman: the animated series and I have to say Pamela Isely/Poison Ivy is really disturbing. There’s something very creepy about a person (even an animated one) who hugs a plant and calls it her baby. Way creepy!!

I’ve also just read the last issue of Batman and Robin that I have and it didn’t make any sense. But it is Grant Morrison so what was I expecting. I’m very meh about the Batman titles at the moment. Mostly I’m finding them really obtuse and I’m struggling to follow the storylines. Kinda disappointing when it was Batman who got me into comics in the first place.


Yet another comic book I’ve deemed worthy of an entry all of its own. Blacksad is a French comic written and illustrated by two Spanish men. It’s finally been translated into English and collected into a hardback by Dark Horse. And it’s nothing short of incredible.

It’s the first time since Usagi Yojimbo – Chanoyu that I actually felt compelled to read something again. I haven’t as yet. I’m taking my time in doing so to draw out the anticipation. I have flicked through it several times and each time I’m just amazed at how good it is. The artwork by Juanjo Guarnido is simply stunning and the scripts by Juan Díaz Canales are godsmackingly good.

I must admit that I do have a soft spot for a comics that feature anthropomorphic animals. However, this is on a whole other level of sheer awesomeness. Usually stories that feature these sorts of characters verge on being twee and overly cutesy so Blacksad is the most refreshing of changes because it has a realistic feel to it and the themes running through it are quite dark.

I’m desperately hoping the new comic gets translated into English. Otherwise, I might just have to learn how to read French.

Usagi Yojimbo – Chanoyu

I’ve been reading comics for a while now and on the whole, there’s not much to get that excited about. There are some great stories and some great art but on the whole, it’s average stories and art I’m meh about. But on occasion, there’s a diamond waiting to be discovered. Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo is one of those rare diamonds. I don’t think I’ve read a single issue that I haven’t loved and that’s a quite a feat considering how many issues there are. It’s taken me over a year to buy all the volumes – up to vol. 23 now which is the most recent one. (I mean, what’s not to love about a rabbit samurai?)

Today I read Usagi Yojimbo issue 93 – Chanoyu. And this particular issue is astounding. So good I had to read it again straight away. It’s a powerful illustration of how a story can be told with little or no dialogue and that you don’t need the characters to say everything single thing that comes into their heads. Sometimes the best stories are told without words.

There are so many artists out there who should be paying close attention to Usagi Yojimbo because it’s a master class in how to tell great stories in a simple fashion without all the noise.

For those interested, Chanoyu is the Japanese formal tea ceremony. Tea was introduced to Japan in the 9th century. Chanoyu rose to prominence in the 14th and 15th centuries and is still practiced today. There are variations of the ceremony but the one so beautifully illustrated in Usagi Yojimbo is one where the participants speak very little. The idea is to commune on a spiritual level rather than by using words.