This Column Has Seven Days #030 // My Third-Favourite Deadly Sin

This week it’s nothing but comic books that talk about teen feelings and Can-Con music, which makes me pretty happy, all things considered.

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Gilbert Hernandez’ Sloth: Lemons and Angst

Saying that I read and liked a Gilbert Hernandez comic is like saying I watched and enjoyed a Stanley Kubrick movie. The best ones are fantastic, and the worst ones are still at least interesting to digest. Gilbert’s ability to tell a comic-book story is unmatched by nearly anyone in the business today — his moody inks and expressive iconic faces, combined with a knack for authentic characterization and an interest in the darker side of life, have given me some of my favourite comics stories, whether in his Love & Rockets work or in his stand-alone work. So when I picked 2006’s Sloth off the shelf, I had a feeling I was going to enjoy it.

Sloth starts off as the story of teen angst in the suburbs, the bleak horror of a mundane existence with the existential dread of being an adolescent. Just before his third month of Grade 11, Miguel Serra apparently wills himself to fall into a coma to escape his daily depression and stress. A year later, he has willed himself out of his coma, and he tries to get back to his life in high school, including getting back together with his band Sloth, which is made up of Miguel, his girlfriend Lita, and his best friend Romeo. Miguel’s return to regular life starts out fine, especially with the care of his loving grandparents and a lot of lost time to make up for with Lita, but soon the reality of his life starts sinking in again, as he meets up with his incarcerated drug-dealing father and Miguel starts wondering what really happened to his mother when she disappeared all those years ago.

Then we find out that while Miguel’s been “away,” Lita has become obsessed with urban legends, and one night the three friends go out to investigate one in particular. The Goatman is a creature who lives in the lemon orchards just outside town — the orchards that Miguel believes his mother is buried in — and if anyone catches a glimpse of him, they change places, with the Goatman taking over that person’s life. After Miguel, Lita, and Romeo return from the orchard, Miguel’s dreams get more intense, and life in the suburban town gets more bizarre.

Sloth is a fascinating examination of identity and relationships, and how the horror of the everyday can spill over into the horror of a different, more shadowy kind. It’s not a brutal or terrifying book; more moody and introspective, and it hit me right in the sweet spot. If you thought that Dawson’s Creek would have been better if it were more like Twin Peaks, or had never thought that until this moment and now can’t get the idea out of your head, then I recommend checking out Sloth as soon as possible.

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It hasn’t been all mysterious suburban dread this week, though; as promised, I have more Canuck rock and comic books to talk about.

Music: After seeing Sloan live in concert for what is probably the seventh or eighth time, I came home with their new album Commonwealth. It’s an odd record for Sloan, as it’s an exercise in isolation — the concept for  Commonwealth is that it’s a double LP, with each side highlighting the songwriting of a different member. It makes for an interesting listening experiment, as instead of moving through the different moods and tones that each member brings to the group, there is a solid 15 to 20 minutes of each member’s personality, in a row. It’s not going to convert anyone who’s not already a Sloan fan — though I have other albums that might serve that purpose — but there are some really good numbers, including Patrick Pentland’s “13 (Under A Bad Sign)” and Chris Murphy’s “Carried Away.” And Andrew Scott’s side is an 18-minute odyssey called “Forty-Eight Portraits,” which has to be heard to be truly understood.

Comics: Anyone who isn’t reading The Wicked + The Divine should really think hard about what they want in a comic book. It’s got gorgeous figure art, breathtaking colours, clever one-liners, effective and sharp characterization, a fantastic sense of design, and a mystery that keeps getting more intense with each passing issue. This is the story of 12 gods who come down to Earth every 90 years, and as this incarnation takes place in 2014, of course the gods are internationally famous pop stars. The Wicked + The Divine could be seen as just a book for young people who are in love with the gods of celebrity, but it’s so much bigger and more all-encompassing than that. It is my favourite comic book currently being published, and Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson are doing some of the best work of their careers. The worst thing about the book is that the team is only five issues in — I want it all and I want it now, and being forced to wait for another installment is a sweet kind of torture.

Music: The new Rural Alberta Advantage album, Mended With Gold, is a strange one for me. It hasn’t grabbed me from the first listen like Hometowns, nor am I wallowing in non-stop re-listens like I did with Departing. It’s taking a slow hold of me, with a new appreciation of a different song every time I go back to it. One song, however, had me from the first listen: the rocking “Terrified” is a tribute to the power of love and fear — or is it love as fear? — and the little bit of a snarl at its core makes me love it that much more. Paul Banwatt’s drums go from frenetic to subdued and back again, and I could sing along to the soaring “oh”s on the chorus for hours. The RAA might not be the most musically adventurous band, but their delivery and enthusiasm more than make up for it, and “Terrified” is a perfect example of them at their best.

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That’s all or me this time around. Until next time, embrace the teen angst within you and listen to some sweet Canadian rock music. It’s good for the soul. I’ll see you in seven days.

Words and Pictures, Hopefully

Humble, right?

Early this morning, I took a picture of the mountain of new product I’ll be trying to get through before next Wednesday. This is pretty much what I deal with every week as I attempt to acquire as much knowledge about what I’m selling as possible. I never get to it all, but I certainly try.

Anyway, more than anything else, this is just a post to see just how some of the new features of the blog work. So. I dunno. Move along? Move along.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 039 // Companions

In which WE TOTALLY GOT MARRIED YOU GUYS!

This week’s episode was recorded live in Banff the day after we got married because we’re adults. Want to hear our thoughts on “Flatline”? There’s some of that in there. Want some details about our wedding and how we met? That’s in there too. Want to hear about one and not the other? Well, tough, you’re going to get both, and you’re going to like it. Or, you’re going to fast forward through some bits and/or turn off the podcast, because WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE, trying to tell you what you can and can not listen to. This isn’t the 60s anymore, mom.

Outro music is “I’m Gonna’ Be (500 Miles)” by Sleeping at Last

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

Podcast! The Comics, Episode 141 – The One With the Wedding

 

We're trouble.

Contains surprisingly little gay marriage.

This episode is brought to you by Wizard’s Comics, home of the best deal on comics in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Check out their website for a list of the week’s new releases and information on upcoming Magic, The Gathering tournaments, and watch their Twitter account for news and announcements about the shop and its stuff.  You can even use their website to buy digital comics!  

Doctor Whooch // Episode 038 // Punching Angels

In which Clara’s life decisions make us sad. And that’s coming from a pair of people who do a drunk Doctor Who podcast.

This week, there’s a “Mummy on the Orient Express”, which is cool. Also, it’s in space, so double cool. The Doctor once again wisks Clara off on an adventure and is kind of a dick about it. But hey, this is their last adventure together, and they can quit at any time, right??? RIGHT??? Hmm.

Oh and there’s tequila.

Outro music is “Best Friend” by Foster the People

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

Podcast! The Comics, Episode 140 – Winking Is What Happy People Do

We're trouble.

Contains optimism and back pain.

This episode is brought to you by Wizard’s Comics, home of the best deal on comics in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Check out their website for a list of the week’s new releases and information on upcoming Magic, The Gathering tournaments, and watch their Twitter account for news and announcements about the shop and its stuff.  You can even use their website to buy digital comics!  

Elsewhere: The Fantastic Four Are Definitely Going Away Forever. Yep. Forever and Ever.

Fantastic Four by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

First, the fact that they’re calling the “final” arc Fantastic Fourever is both wonderful and horrible, and I’m pretty sure the autocorrect on this computer will prevent me from ever properly reporting on this fact without meticulous care.

Second: when the rumours about the team’s demise first started floating around the internet, I wrote a piece about it over at Comics Beat, which still applies. An excerpt:

… if Marvel is going to take the Fantastic Four off the publishing schedule for a while, you can be sure it has nothing to do with the status of the team’s life in movies – or if it does, the team’s out-of-house status means Marvel actually has the luxury of putting the team’s book on hold. Stick with me here.

That’s the thesis. The story’s a few months old, but all the points still stand, and giving it a read will add context to this whole ordeal. Suffice to say, the cancellation is probably the best thing to happen to the team in a long time.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 037 // Moon Shaming

In which there are glitter kittens and beard slaps!

This week we watched KILL THE MOON in which the moon may or may not have been killed. It’s a mystery! That is solved by watching that episode of Doctor Who. Also: lots of white dudes die and misandry is enjoyed by all. TEAM CLARA 4 LYFE!

Outro music is “Fancy (feat. Charli XCX)” by Iggy Azalea

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY

Podcast! The Comics, Episode 139 – Schaal In

We're trouble.

Bob’s Burgers is great, y’all.

This episode is brought to you by Wizard’s Comics, home of the best deal on comics in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Check out their website for a list of the week’s new releases and information on upcoming Magic, The Gathering tournaments, and watch their Twitter account for news and announcements about the shop and its stuff.  You can even use their website to buy digital comics!