Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Inspired By Actual Events -- Or how Turn: Washington's Spies Ruined Me

I've written before about how much I like history and historical settings. It is kind of my thing. Well, the last three days or so, my mother and I watched 20 episodes of the AMC Drama Turn: Washington's Spies. It is about the real life Culper Spy ring during the American War for Independence. I heard about it somewhere and initially I got excited (intrigue set in a historical setting! Sold!) than forgot about it until it premiered where I saw some headlines saying it wasn't that good. So I didn't watch it. But mom is in town and we looked for something we could both enjoy and decided to give it a whirl.

*gimmie hands*

I. Loved. It. I couldn't look away. It was everything I wanted in a historical drama and more. And if they don't renew Turn, I don't know what I'll do -- Realistically, probably cry out for a few minutes then move on. Maybe read about the real life Abraham Woodhull. Or read a more in depth biography of Major John Andre and weep quietly. Get my Tallmadge fix from his interpretation in Dreamer?

But I won't get this magical friendship

 I'm feeling kind of pessimistic about it because AMC seems to have a major hard-on for their upcoming spin off series of their other popular shows and probably will cause their other shows to not get as much funding or cancelled all together. If it comes to that, I hope Turn finds a home on Netflix or Amazon Prime. You can't just end a series on how season 2 ended. 

With that rant out of the way, I'm going to steer the conversation about what inspired me to write this blog post when I had already written about historical settings in the past. I got thinking about why some historical settings or "based on actual events" storylines work and others don't.

Turn is blessed with extremely well-written dialogue, interestingly framed episodes, and an incredibly talented cast. That certainly helps. I also feel the writers took lessons learned from popular shows on right now. Mary Woodhull has a Skylar White-like character arc for instance but they made her motivations a tad more sympathetic. They took the whole Protagonists who do bad things and Antagonists who do good things angle as made popular in Game of Thrones and Walking Dead but reeled it in slightly. Also, that it is okay to make an antagonist completely unforgivable but to have such a strong presence, you can't help but watch to see what dastardly deed they'll do next. I'm looking at you, Simcoe.

I mean he brought Starbucks to a Fake Suicide, who does that?

I am kind of tired of the love triangles and rombuses going on right now. But that may be a personal problem as everyone else seems to like it just fine. Although the one that doesn't irritate me (the Andre-Shippen-Arnold one) seems to not be all that popular.

But the whole Inspired by Actual Events thing. Turn takes liberties with history. Benedict Arnold got with Peggy Shippen earlier than in the actual show (they also had a bunch of kids by the time Arnold betrays us all!) John Andre did court Peggy Shippen before she married Benedict Arnold though. The writers also took liberties with the personal histories of Abe Woodhull, Anna Strong, Caleb Brewster, John Simcoe -- basically everyone. I get why the writers do it -- to make things more exciting and to tie in the story a bit more tightly together. You kind of need that when you are writing about spies and intrigue.

When I was younger, I used to nitpick at these sorts of things. I don't so much anymore. There really is no point. It is like nitpicking that a movie sucks because it is nothing like the book. It is called an adaptation for a reason (not saying there is no such thing as shitty adaptations though). And honestly, if you are watching Turn expecting to learn about the absolute truth of history from it, that is intellectually dishonest. Just read a non-fiction book about the Culper Spy Ring if you want to learn the truth. Watch Turn to be entertained and maybe be informed about something about life in America during the 1770s that will encourage you to read more about it. That's it.

I suppose I will caveat this with saying that I get with some people it is a huge pet peeve to see historical inaccuracies in movies and TV shows. I get that. But unless the movie claims something like, "THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF -" you should expect liberties being taken. If you want the absolute truth, watch a documentary. And you should be expected to nitpick if they get a fact wrong.

I suppose that may be another reason why Turn works. It is about a rather obscure topic in Revolutionary War history. Very little was ever known about the Culper Spy Ring until the 1930s. People knew George Washington had a network of spies which aided him win the war but no one really knew much about them or really their methods. Hell, it turns out George Washington knew little about Culper's sources, mainly because the sources wouldn't agree to provide info if their identity was released. That is still not unusual.

Turn shows this brilliantly with the courting of Robert Townsend

However, the fact that Turn deals with a topic relatively explored little, the writers have a lot of liberties to take. The more nitpicky people will be less likely able to be nitpicky and can just sit back and enjoy the tales of intrigue set at the dawn of the United States. I'll compare this to, let's say Spielberg's Lincoln movie. Abraham Lincoln has been written about to death. We know a lot about Lincoln and Lincoln was a pretty good movie if you enjoy history. However, I know a lot of people said they felt more like they were in a classroom than in a movie. You won't feel that way with Turn because of the subject matter (SPIES) and we know so little about it.

Turn can develop fictionalized versions of minor historical characters and make them three-dimensional. The conflicted Abraham Woodhull -- who the real life version's father was a Magistrate Loyalist, that much is true -- really develops into a full realized character when you learn like all of us, was a radical college student but at the same time feels he has to fill his older brother's dead shoes to eventually take over his father's place. Or Major Tallmadge who tries so hard to do the right thing, even at risk of court martial, often jokingly references his father the reverend (which the real life Tallmadge's father was). Caleb Brewster is highly offended when he learns the redcoats turn the church in Seutucket into a fortification -- turns out the Brewsters when they first settled Seutucket built the church. Seutucket itself was a loyalist hub but somehow was also a base of operations for the Culper Ring. How did that work? Turn answers that question by establishing Major Edmund Hewlett -- the redcoat in charge of the forces garrisoned there -- who is a complete space cadet (although he means well).

His reaction to blowing up a school... seriously, not joking

The writers have room to move, while with writing a movie or a show about Lincoln, you have little breathing room. As a result, the portrayal is usually that of a heavily flawed individual or almost godlike -- nothing remote like an actual person. George Washington kind of falls victim to this in Turn although he is not as bad as some. Off-handedly, I feel the mini-series John Adams does a decent job with making John Adams as an actual character. My mom disagrees. But that could be because I always thought John Adams was a grumpypants and my mom never thought so.

In a way, what I propose is much like how I talked about adapting settings for roleplaying purposes. I argued it is better to take an aspect of the world that is explored little and run with it. And I feel that is what the writers of Turn did. And it is these little historical topics that normally would be a tidbit on a Top Ten Little Known Revolutionary War Facts list that make for good fictionalized tales of history. Little to nitpick, many blank spaces to fill in for your own. And make it awesome!

Life of a spy for me

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jaime Lannistering

Back when I first began watching Game of Thrones, I absolutely hated Jaime Lannister. It wasn't that he was a bad character or anything but he just had qualities as a person that made my skin crawl. Now, I'm not talking about the incest thing -- as a person who has watched a lot of anime, I've grown accustomed to what is taboo -- it was just him as a person.

Although pushing a kid from a tower certainly doesn't help

He was just an entitled, sometimes whiny, little asshole. Like every time he appeared on my TV screen I had the urge just to ... UGHHHH.

Shut Up.
Then something happened. Jaime was captured and humbled and then went on an amazing adventure with Brienne of Tarth. He became largely more sympathetic by the experience and all the qualities I hated in him before either went away or reduced slightly. And before I knew it, Jaime Lannister found his way into my heart, much like a ninja in the night. And largely he stayed there. I've chosen to ignore the whole Jaime Cersei Joffery's funeral bit as a hiccup (I mean, no one else speaks of it on the show so why should I? *eye roll*). And even though the whole Dorne thing this season has read like a horrible 80's movie, I still like Jaime. I don't rage at the TV when he appears on screen anymore.

I even started to use his name as a verb -- Jaime Lannistering. And what I mean by that is there is a character in media who not due to poor character structure, I cannot stand because they have qualities I either find disgusting or just get on my own pet peeves. Then, through character development, I suddenly find I like those characters, maybe even becoming among my favorite in said media.

Jaime Lannister is not the only Game of Thrones character I have changed into a verb in my mind. I also have a phenomena called Stannising. Basically, Stannising is Jaime Lannistering except while a character is at the height of your favor, the character does something, usually due to bad writing but not always, that sends them back to the doghouse with other characters you hate.

This is named after Stannis Baratheon, former Father of the Year who had to relinquish his trophy due to a scandal of massive proportions.

And Davos worked so hard on it too.
When I first encountered Stannis, I found his whole storyline kind of dull. Stannis isn't supposed to be charismatic. That is the whole point. But like Jaime, I kind of grew to like him as the seasons went on. He mostly at least tried to do the right thing, being apart of a cult or not. Then, this latest season started, and I saw Stannis in a different light. Maybe because the pool of potential Game of Thrones contenders was growing smaller with icky choices but also maybe it was because Stannis obviously loved his daughter Shireen, despite the pressure from Melisandre to turn her into some sort of sacrifice.

I mean, I saw where this was going. I kind of knew it would happen. But I felt it happened too quickly. For a man who defended his daughter and had a really heartfelt talk to her, he gave up pretty easily. It felt like they were walking in the snow for five minutes before Stannis brushed his hands and decided to give in to Melisandre's suggestion. I wish there was a bit more build up, like maybe showing stacks of dead bodies that froze to death. The raid by Ramsey happened too quickly. It just wasn't written very well to get to Stannis's decision. I still would have gasped and been angry at Stannis but I felt I would have at least respected the decision storywise a bit better.

So I have Stannising. And Jaime Lannistering. And I introduced these concepts to talk about Orange is the New Black. Ha! I bet you didn't see that one coming!

I marathoned the 3rd Season of Orange is the New Black over the weekend and I have a lot to talk about. For one, Orange and Game of Thrones do have some things in common. The most obvious is both shows depict heavily flawed characters who do things you hate and do things you love. The other is loads and loads of Jaime Lannistering and Stannising. The last one is especially true for season 3.

First up, the Jaime Lannistering. I'm talking about Tiffany Doggett a.k.a Pennsatuckey.

In the first season, Doggett is a hyper-religious, extremely racist/homophobic redneck. She spends most of the season thinking she's a faith healer because Alex decides to troll her. Doggett felt like a cardboard cutout to be in the first season. Every stereotype people believe about evangelical Christians was shoved into one person. Even so, Taryn Manning did an excellent job. she was absolutely terrifying. Part of it was her fanatic nature but the other part was just her impulsive meth-headness. Still, I didn't like her all that much.

In the second season, she is licking her wounds from the first season. She is still carrying on her semi-fanatical ways but she clearly wanted some sort of love or attention. Then, the resident "butch lesbian" Big Boo begins to troll the gullible Tiffany. And then the trolling sort of becomes a friendship which continues into the 3rd season.

And that is when I realized Doggett just Jaime Lannistered. First off, Big Boo and Doggett have a beautiful friendship this season and it causes both characters to develop into actual realized people and not the cardboard cutouts they appear to represent in season 1. Big Boo is always super protective of the girls she likes but here, she is protective of Doggett but not out of interest of getting laid but out of friendship.

This scene was both extremely sweet and terrifying

Then, you have Tiffany beginning to realize what she did was wrong and how she thought was wrong. She begins becoming introspective and comes to realize how much she devalues herself and because she wanted love, attention, and value is the reason why she let the extreme pro-life movement project on her as a martyr for the cause. Doggett is still not all that bright -- mostly due to socializing she got growing up -- but she has a great character arc in which she is growing as a person and becoming rehabilitated.

Big Boo also Jaime Lannistered for me as well because like Doggett, she felt like a walking stereotype and just comic relief. In this season, she also gets a character arc and it usually runs concurrently with Doggett's.

Now, I mentioned the Jaime Lannistering, let's get to the Stannising. If the Stannis downfall hadn't happened before, I probably would have called this Pipering.

Shut up.
I never was that wild about Piper. I mean, the actress is fine and Piper has some good moments in the first season and to a degree in the second season. She is just growing more and more unsympathetic. I mean, I just went on great lengths about Doggett above. Doggett killed an abortion doctor because the doctor said to her "after the fifth abortion, the sixth one is free." And I feel more for HER than Piper and Piper was just a drug mule.

I kinda get it. The show wants Piper, the fish out of water, to get darker as her time in prison continues. It is kind of interesting how she and Alex have passed each other going in opposite directions on the rehabilitation scale. That part was what made me like Piper a bit more in season 2. I just don't like how Piper is becoming almost sociopathic in her choices.

 First of all, she cheats one too many times. She cheats on Larry with Alex. Then she cheats on Alex with Larry. Then she cheats on Alex with Stella. And each time she does it, she justifies it, making her the victim. Like she left Alex this time because Alex was "acting crazy." Alex is "acting crazy" partly because of Piper's fault! It would be one thing if what Piper was doing was portrayed in a negative light -- much like now Nicky got back on smack. But no, it is really neutral at best. Yeah, people call Piper out on it but she spins her charm and people are like, "Oh okay."

Then, there is Piper's backstabbing which is all due to selfish reasons. She got Alex rearrested because she was just pissed at her. Then she set up Stella up by planting contraband just as she was about to be released. True Stella did steal from her but man, that was cold, just cold. And I just don't get what was accomplished. Piper is suddenly a badass? Is she becoming the new Vee? What? I really don't see how she can be redeemed for me at this point.

And the thing that bothers me the most is Piper gets NO consequences for her actions and she learns NOTHING. None. Meanwhile, everyone else who schemes in the prison usually eventually get their comeuppance. Piper is untouchable. And I really don't understand the progression to this, either. I really hope next season Piper falls off her throne. Because, like Cersei, she is not as smart as she thinks she is.

Too bad the Orange is the New Black's Faith Militant is busy becoming BFFs with a lesbian

Another character I feel is a partial Stannis was Bennett. I get why they wrote off Bennett from the show because the actor is now on Prime Time TV. At first blush, it seemed like backstory they gave Bennett before him exiting stage left does feel almost out of character. And I say he is a partial Stannis because the fans generally like him.

No comment
Up until this point, Bennett and Daya's relationship is a bright point in the prison. They seem to be two dopes so in love with each other. He's always trying to look out for her. And the two talk about building a life together. Bennett seems like a good guy and an upstanding citizen so it does seem shocking that they showed while he failed to leap on a grenade to save his comrades in Afghanistan in his flashback, he runs away from the whole situation with Daya after having dinner with Daya's rather fucked up family. He just stopped showing up for work.

It's disappointing and I see it pissed a lot of people off but here's the thing -- it does make sense story-wise. Bennett doesn't have much of a spine. Sleeping with an inmate, no matter how much you love each other is just plain irresponsible. The other inmates forced him to do stuff for them.

But he does anyway
The thing is, we as the viewer, have been seeing Bennett through Daya's eyes. He's dreamy and a nice guy. But that is all he is. He's a coward and it would make sense he would leave the situation after meeting the sadistic, unpredictable Cesar. I'm not justifying what he did. Bennett should pay for his mistakes. But I can see story-wise why it happened.

In fact, this season in particular, really deconstructed the Nice Guy archetype. Bennett may come off as nice and sweet and upstanding but he will get out of the kitchen when things get too hot. It is actually amazing he stayed in this long. Besides, with him out of the picture, Daya and her mom get their own separate character arcs in which both need to grow up and look at things realistically.

Maybe for some people this would still feel like Stannising, but it isn't so much for me. Yeah, sure, I like Bennett a little less now than I did (I was kinda giving Matt McGorry dreamy eyes too) which does mean he's Stannised a bit for me but definitely not as much as Piper did. It actually works for me because sometimes when reality hits and the haze of love raises, you realize you are in a bad situation. Maybe people you thought you could trust, you can't any longer. You realize along with Daya that the man you grew to appreciate is not what he seems. Isn't that what "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miz is about?

((But you see that Daya didn't turn Bennett in, because she totally could have had his ass thrown in jail if she was vindictive enough and UG Piper))

I would love to talk about how Orange is the New Black deals with Nice Guys, but that is a topic for another time.

I think the difference between Piper's Stannising and Bennett's Stannising is that Piper's happened somewhat due to poor writing choices while Bennett's did not.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Captain America, Superheroes, and Sequels

"Hey Mary, have you seen Captain America yet? It seems like your kind of thing." "Hey Mary. You like superhero movies, have you seen Captain America?" "Hey Mary, you served in the military, have you seen Captain America?" "Hey Mary, you saw the Avengers, Iron Man, and Thor, have you seen Captain America?" "Mary, you're obsessed with Agent Carter, what did you think of Winter Soldier?"

Cool posters?

After being extremely behind the curb, I watched both Captain America movies on Sunday. And okay, people who know me too well, I loved them. Yes. BOTH OF THEM. I feel I have to emphasize that because there seems to be a divide in the fandom over it. I loved both movies so much, I downloaded the soundtrack (because... French Horns and deep brass) and even on National Best Friend Day, I called over to one of my BFFs to be the Steve to my Bucky (for which she accepted).

Man, the fact that I placed myself as the Bucky... what does that say about me?

Captain America (and yes, Agent Carter) are my superheroes. I finally found them.

I say this because I have a love-hate thing with superhero movies. I like them, sure, but there are certain ones I'm not all that wild about. I'm talking about the Supermans and the Batmans and even to a degree Iron Man. I think part of the reason why that is, is at its heart, the superhero story really is a wish fulfillment fantasy.

Now, there is nothing wrong with it. One of the reasons Agent Carter is so for me because I wish I could be like Peggy. I wish I could be confident, not take crap from other people, have guys that even if they hate me still have a thing for me and me not give them the time of day. Have upstanding guys like Steve, Daniel Sousa, and Jarvis at my side and delightfully let the playboy Howard Stark know he can't have me. Also, just being super, super smart with always the right thing to say. Being Badass Normal with a pistol. Oh, and really have an awesome wardrobe.

"Okay, Howard, I get it, it's a ball. Stop making that pun"

 The same is true for all the other major superheroes. They embody qualities that all of us want. Guys want to be playboys like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark who have lots of toys to play with. Nerds for decades looked up to Peter Parker who is a nerd like them but as soon as he puts on the suit, he's a wise-cracking, web-slinging, vigilante. Sure, all super heroes have their dark pasts that they must overcome, but overall, their existence is a wish-fulfillment. And because of that, we read their comics and go watch their movies because we expect them to act in a super cool way. It is like we watch Game of Thrones because we want to see good characters fall from grace or bad characters redeem themselves. In superhero stories we know Tony is going to be a bit of an ass, but still endearing. We know Spidey is going to make a pun. We know Bruce is going to brood and be dark.

Yep, brood and dark

 And I think because we expect our superheroes to act that way, they rarely grow. I had a friend of mine say that you don't need characters to grow. Okay, maybe in one movie but when you have a franchise, there has to be some character growth or else, the idea gets stale -- at least for me. You can throw high powered villain after high power villain and have your superhero react accordingly to what makes the superhero popular. It will be a thrill and a good two hours at the movie theater but when I leave, I'm not going to take much of it with me. And that's fine. Not all movies have to be super deep to be enjoyable. Just it makes me less and less excited to go see those movies because I know what to expect.

Having said that, this is why Captain America and its sequel works for me. Generally, sequels, not just superhero sequels subscribe to the frame of mind, "Well, that was a fun romp! Let's do it again! In Space!" Or something like that. Superhero films usually say, "Well, that was a fun romp! Let's add this villain in next time." Captain America does the latter, but sort of twists the idea of it on its head.

Long Hair, make up -- Must be a hippie

Here's the reason why I defend the first Captain America. Yeah, it is filled with so much red, white, and blue you'll want to rise up against the commies and hippies. Yeah, what Steve did rescuing the 107th was... just extremely illegal and would have gotten him slapped with a court martial. It was over the top and silly at some points. And CGI smaller Chris Evans kinda freaks me out a little. But the movie did what it needed to do. It was an origin story for Captain America and perfectly framed the time Steve comes from. It is a black and white world. It is pretty obvious that the Nazis and Hydra are the bad guys. There is the good thing and the bad thing. There is no question on what that is. Even Steve's tragic relationship with Peggy is simple and sweet. The movie is really a throwback to those old WWII war movies, where soldiers are looked up to and admired. Where the people appreciated what the military was doing for them.

This is where Captain America comes from. And it is this experience and this world that shapes Steve Rogers and his glowing ideals. This is what we expect from Captain America as a superhero.

Then comes Winter Soldier. Steve is living in a much different world. People are lukewarm to the military at its best. Things aren't black and white anymore. Everyone is less about doing what is right and more focusing on the ends justify the means. To him, SHIELD seems like the organization for good and that would be the side he would work for. But then, everything starts to go to hell and he is baffled when Nick Fury tells him to not trust anyone. If the movie just stopped here and put in some generic Marvel villain, Winter Soldier would just be a Fish Out of Water Tale (which it is anyway) for Captain America.

But no, in walks the Winter Soldier who it turns out is Steve's best friend Bucky. Steve is forced to confront not only his past but his ideals -- everything that defines Captain America as a superhero. I know this is not entirely new as comics often toy with killing off superheroes or have them hang up the uniform for a while but come back when the world most needs them. But what is unique and was what made this movie for me was this movie was just as much an internal struggle for Cap as it was an external one.  Yeah, sure former friends of superheroes turned into villains is not new but Cap still has to make a choice to live up to his ideals or throw them away when he finally faces Bucky. His ideals are what define his schtick as a superhero. And it is because of that, I walked away from the movie STILL thinking about it and what I would have done.

Tie-ins. I love tie-ins

 The very challenge against what makes Captain America Captain America is why the sequel worked and didn't fall into the general ennui of other superhero sequels which has a tendency to throw a bucket of villains at the wall and see what sticks. Winter Soldier treats Cap not just another wish fulfillment fantasy but as an actual character. And I think because of that, both Captain America films (and Agent Carter) are my favorite in the Marvel franchise.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Awesome Con Loot -- The Dreamer Vol 1

On Saturday, I wandered through the comic section on the vendor floor. I wasn't planning to buy anything else. I had already bought three nice comics and one novel. However, something caught my eye. I saw a booth with art and comics filled with 18th century style fashion and a comic man with a tri-corner hat, giving me a debonair smile. I felt the tug closer to the booth.

I grew up in Massachusetts so I always had a bias towards Revolutionary War. I even took a couple classes in college focused specifically on Revolutionary history. I do feel I got too much of a sampling of American History throughout high school and a degree into college but I still just love the Revolutionary War period. I also kind of like early 20th century history too but that is a story for another time.

I kind of feel like the American Revolution kind of is not as talked about in media compared to WWII or the Civil War. Sure, you find interesting takes of it occasionally. I still need to watch Turn. And then there's something like Hetalia -- a manga about anthropomorphized countries -- where you have Great Britain suffering from empty nest syndrome.

Yeah, America has daddy issues and England has ~feels~

So, anyways, I was surprised to see a comic focused on the American Revolution. Turns out the comic was not just about the American Revolution. It is about a time traveler -- a modern day High School student named Beatrice Whaley -- who every time she goes to sleep, she wakes up in 1776 encountering war, love, and history. Then, when she falls asleep in 1776, she wakes up in current day in which she tries to deal with school and what do do with her crush and her school activities. The comic itself is called The Dreamer by Lora Innes.

I even met and got an autograph from the author.

When I heard the premise of the comic, I couldn't resist. I mean, it was just my wheelhouse. I spent two entries on this blog talking about how much I love Nobunaga Concerto -- another story about a time traveler and his influence on history. It also got me thinking about another jdrama I like, Samurai High School. After I watched Samurai High School, I got thinking of how such a story would translate using American History. And I think it would go very much like this. Bea and Kotaro have similar, dreamy personalities who just could stand to be a little braver. Also, the whole idea of going to sleep and waking up elsewhere, reminded me of Everworld -- a series of I was obsessed with in my youth.

I suppose I'm being a little misleading here by comparing the comic to other media. I can't help but find comparisons. I don't mean it in a bad way. I absolutely loved this comic. In fact, I just ordered the other two volumes. I know I can read it online but the colors on the actual paper are just so vivid and beautiful, making the characters really pop.

And the story was fun too. Beatrice has three dreamy guys to choose between. There is the dude in real life, Ben, who fits with her as being more down to earth than she is. Then there is dream Beatrice who clearly has a history with the daring and charming officer, Alan Warren. And conversely, there is the driven, slightly grumpy Nathan Hale in which he and Bea constantly argue. Yes, this comic is mostly a romance set in a pretty accurate historical setting. I expect the story will involve espionage and spies at some point (cuz Nathan Hale and Bea being from the future) but right now, vol 1 does a great job establishing the premise and the characters.

Nathan really stole the comic for me as a character. I do like Alan and Beatrice and her rambliness, but there was one panel of Nathan complaining about escorting Bea home against the orders of Washington and also because he wants to kill some redcoats. The dripping sarcasm in his rant was so beautiful, I knew I was hooked and it was because of Nathan. I can make a guess that the author takes great care of Nathan because it was his picture that pulled me to the booth to begin with. And when I pointed it out to author that that is why I was pulled over. She smiled and said, "Oh... Nathan...."

Nathan is such a grump but lovable, trying just a little too hard type of guy. And it just makes me nervous about liking him so much because we know how Nathan dies. He doesn't get a happy ending. Well, depends what you mean by happy ending -- he is often haled (see what I did there) as a martyr. Nathan Hale is more well known for an apocryphal statement he may or may not have made when the Brits hung him than for his actual acts of intelligence gathering and spying that was actually helpful to the cause. 

Still, though. I cackled when Bea watches Alan jump from tree to tree with awe then Nathan, looking annoyed, tells her, "He's an APPLE FARMER! Of COURSE he knows how to climb trees!"

Another aspect of Nathan I found was interesting is Innes draws Nathan with a rather prominent facial birthmark. It confused me at first because Nathan Hale is always depicted as somewhat grandiose. With no birthmark.

Exhibit A
 I actually had to search around for it but Nathan Hale DID have a prominent birthmark. And it was actually how he was eventually captured.


I am actually looking forward to the next couple of volumes. I could read it online but I prefer reading in books. The purchase was so worth it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Where was this week's Looking Back Bellairs?

So here I am, on a Wednesday after working out and eating a salad with no Looking Back Bellairs to post. What happened?

In a nutshell

Awesome Con happened. I spent the entire weekend being painfully reminded I am no longer 21 and can no longer survive off fumes and enthusiasm for geekdom. Don't get me wrong, I still had a blast. I just feel it. Monday came and I had a massive con hangover.

Also, reality hit too when I realized how much I actually bought. Awesome Con was a milestone con because not only was it my first one I went to since I hit thirty, it also was the first one in which I had a job that gave me a decent amount of money. I could enjoy myself among the vendors and not watch longingly from a distance.

I still bought too much. I threw caution into the wind. I ended up with many comics -- which is surprising for me. While I do enjoy comics, manga, and graphic novels, I don't own a whole lot of them. Well, the exception is manga. I have a shit-ton of manga with only four complete series (Alice 19th, Hana Kimi, Tokyo Babylon, and Death Note for the curious) with bits and pieces of other series.

I haven't read Alice 19th in over ten years yet I call it a favorite. Maybe it is time for a Looking Back Alice 19th

At Awesome Con, I walked away with 7 nice copies of graphic novels and over half of them signed by the authors. You know, that is actually where I had the most fun, when I was talking to the comic book writers -- big names and small names alike. The only one of the big guests I spoke to was Dana Snyder and I'm not all that into Aqua Teen Hunger Force (he was super cool though). And I also spoke with Sam Ellis (lead character designer of Archer and also worked on other good stuff) but he wasn't the big guests. I told Sam Ellis about how I bought an ISIS t-shirt with the logo from Archer and now I can't wear it anymore. We had a good laugh about that.

Don't mistake me for bashing the guests, though, as George Takei was super awesome

And here I went to a classic Mary Segue. Back to Bellairs. I want to continue my little project but since I did spend money, I am going to read through my Awesome Con Loot and review each comic I bought. The series I bought, I'll review at once and talk about them.

But for now, I am still recovering from the whirlwind of con. It was awesome, though. And I think next year, I may want to cosplay... either Agent Carter or Tina Belcher. Or maybe both!

This show is my everything