Archive for dc comics

odds and ends: morrison’s JLA and the Greek pantheon

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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In our ramp up to The Odyssey, I do a lesson based around Grant Morrison’s run on JLA. Morrison famously drew on Greek archetypes to craft his ultimate version of the Justice League of America. After a quick discussion about the Greek pantheon, I pair students up, give each pairing a copy of JLA and ask them to flip through the comics and find as many parallels between superheroes and Greek gods as they can. After 15 minutes, they present their findings to the class on the document camera.

Some of the pairings are quite obvious – Superman as a stand-in for Zeus orWonder Woman as Hera, for example. Some are a bit more sophisticated. As you can see above, Morrison used second-string superheroes like Plastic Man

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and Steel

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to great effect as proxys for and Dionysus and Hephaestus.

The best part about this lesson is when students go off book and bring up other examples of superheroes who display Greek ideals… or talk about how American superheroes embody American ideals. More on that tomorrow.

Christmas Comic Cavalcade: DC Comics Presents #67

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

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In our final Christmas Comic Cavalcade of 2012, let’s look at DC Comics Presents #67, published in 1983. This yuletide comic was plotted by Len Wein and E. Nelson Bridwell, illustrated by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

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That gorgeous cover is by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, by the way…

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odds and ends: more oral surgery, halloween

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

If you follow me on the various social networks I take part in you know this already but… I had my final two wisdom teeth removed this pat Tuesday. I’ve been putting this off for (no kidding I’m ashamed to say) YEARS now so when I was up all night Saturday racked with pain, I had no one but myself to blame. Ideally, having a procedure like this done would be something a teacher would try and schedule for a spring break or a summer vacation. I was betting I’d be able to make it to our school’s winter break and I lost.

It seems small potatoes when compared to what my many teacher friends in New York and New Jersey are contending with right now but I hate missing a big chunk of school like this. One day here or there is fine, but anything more than that and it’s bad news all around. Bad for students… bad for the school… and bad for me. I’ve been feeling nothing but down in the dumps about this since Monday afternoon when I realized I’d be out for at least a day, probably two.

The procedure went without a hitch but I spent much of Wednesday in a gross amount of pain. Seriously, you wouldn’t BELIEVE what my pillow looked like when I woke up from my post-operation nap; it was like something out of one of those torture porn movies. Since then, I’ve been getting by on a steady diet of painkillers and soft foods. Tonight I successfully chowed down on boxed macaroni and cheese and considered it a success.

The funny thing is, this same thing happened to me around this time last year and I did a week-long series of comics about that experience, which you can read if you click here. The only difference between last year and this year is I smartened up enough to take time off from work. Last year, I went into school and tried to “be a hero” as it were. My reward was a surprise walk-though inspection from the assistant principal; he was disappointed I was sitting at my desk, less active than a teacher should be during a sustained silent reading period. I had forgotten all about that incident until this morning but it made me GLAD I took today off. The last thing I needed is to be judged on my teaching today by someone who wouldn’t take the “whole picture” into consideration.

I go back tomorrow. Half of my mouth will be wadded up with cotton. I have a low impact agenda for tomorrow, including administering a “common assessment” for the 9th grade students and a lesson I hope to pull together for my 12th grade class by waking up early tomorrow and hitting the 24 hour Meijer for supplies.

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Although I was in pain, I would have disappointed my boys greatly if I hadn’t sucked it up and squeezed into my Halloween costume this year.

…besides, it wouldn’t have been very “Batman” of me to wuss out, right? Rest assured, the costume was peeled off and I was back on the couch recuperating about two minutes after this snapshot was taken.

odds and ends: detective comics, the twelve

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

In general, I haven’t been a great fan of DC Comics’ recent “New 52” relaunch of their superhero titles. I don’t think this was a very well thought-out relaunch, I don’t believe the talent attached to a great many of these books has been up to the task… and I’ve been reading DC Comics my whole life, so I’m somewhat attached to the old version of these characters.

That being said, I did try to give a lot of these books a fair shake, only to find many lacking. Currently, I’m only buying two of DC’s superhero books regularly.

Well, I may just have to up that to three, because I picked up Detective Comics #13 last week and it’s a nice start.

I already have an affection for the character but there have been PLENTY of Batman titles in the New 52 lineup I have passed up entirely because I didn’t feel the creative team was up to snuff. I’m happy to report this issue addresses those concerns by employing writer John Layman; I’ve enjoyed his work on Image Comics’ Chew and he didn’t disappoint. Further, the art is a step above a lot of what I’ve seen from DC lately. The main story, pencilled by Jason Fabok is, while not exactly to my personal tastes, detailed and exciting in the way I believe most young comics readers are looking for in this genre. The backup tale with art from Andy Clarke is similarly satisfying, although I liked Clarke’s work more than Fabok’s.

Up to this point, the only DCU books I’ve been buying have been written by Scott Snyder, but I may just be adding Detective Comics to my pull list, if this creative team can keep up the pace.

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Haven’t been reading a lot of novels lately. Things have been busy and I haven’t had the time to lose myself in a book. That being said, please know I am anxiously counting the days until October 16th, when The Twelve by Justin Cronin is in stores.

The second book in Cronin’s planned post-apocalyptic vampire trilogy, the first book in the series was a great favorite of mine. The Passage has its’ problem, but a more engrossing read I did not have in 2010. I liked The Passage so much, I listened to the audiobook in the spring as a sort of refresher in preparation for The Twelve. Cronin’s prose is occasionally overwrought and some of his conclusions about a world moved on are a little silly (as with most writer’s tales of the apocalypse, gas is still plentiful and unspoiled, despite how quickly we know it would corrode) but I enjoyed the book and look forward to jumping back into this world with Peter, Amy, Lish and the rest.

chalkboard photo post: new year, new drawings

Posted in chalkboard drawings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

I debated long and hard as to whether I wanted to continue posting my chalkboard doodles for the upcoming school year. After three years solid of Sunday postings, I’ve done just about every character or situation I can think of. Further, I often draw the EXACT same drawings, year in and year out. It’s the nature of the job. Just as I teach Romeo & Juliet to every new group of Freshman, I’ll continue drawing myself as various superhero characters on the blackboard.

I’ve decided to keep posting these however, because… quite simply, they’re popular. I understand very little about “site views” and all that jazz, but when I do look at that widget, these are always amongst the most viewed of my posts… and that includes the comic. Over the past six months, a number of these have become popular on the website Pinterest. I know less about Pinterest than I do about site views, but if people are liking something I do well enough to share it somewhere, I should probably keep doing it.

Anyway, here’s the first drawing of the year. I decided I wanted to go big for the first week so I designed an elaborate Welcome piece for the Class of 2016 which took up the entire space of the classroom’s chalkboard.

I have to be honest- this was a larger undertaking than I anticipated! I thought I’d only need a half an hour to draw this beast, but it took double that when you figure in the sketch planning I needed to do to fit in as many characters as possible. I tried to run the gamut of cartoon characters that I found interesting and were relevant to someone who’d be in 9th grade this year. The only one I might have missed the mark on is Yakko Warner, but as established this summer, the characters are making a huge comeback, if only with my sons in our house.

odds and ends: dinosaur dracula, comic pull list

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2012 by Christopher Pearce

One of my all-time favorite websites is X-Entertainment, a free-for-all tribute site to all the things that made my childhood rad. Updates to X-E have been sporadic in the past few years… but that promises to change with the advent of Dinosaur Dracula, X-E’s newly branded web address!

So far, Matt Caracappa has looked at Garfield and Friends fruit snacks, Fright Flicks trading cards, and my personal favorite, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cracker topper. X-Entertainment was surely an influence on my Thrift Store Finds posts, so I think anyone who likes those would truly love Matt’s writing. Check it out.

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We all know that I am something of a fan of the movies Alien and Aliens. I suppose you could say I had the misfortune of being born too late to see any of those movies in theaters- the only Aliens movies I’ve ever seen on the big screen have been muddled (Alien 3) botched (Alien: Resurrection) or just god awful (any of the Alien v. Predator movies, but I haven’t actually seen any of those).

Well, I’ve finally had the chance I’ve been waiting for last night; my most anticipated movie of the summer has to be Prometheus.

The “not a prequel” prequel to Alien, I was excited enough to see this flick that I broke free of my normal old man routines and went to a midnight showing. Even though director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Daniel Lindelof have been pretty straightforward, saying Prometheus is something new… I mean, c’mon. It’s an Alien movie.

…and I loved it. I loved it despite the cardboard cut-out characters. I loved it despite the gigantic plot holes. I loved Prometheus despite its’ structure, seemingly designed to infuriate the most nit-picky fans of this franchise. It’s a gorgeous movie worth seeing on the big screen.

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My current comic pull list is woefully small, and getting smaller by the month. Right now, these are the books I’m asking my fine comic retailer to put aside for me.

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christmas comics cavalcade: gen13 – a christmas caper

Posted in christmas comics with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Today we’re looking at Gen 13: A Christmas Caper, Written and drawn by Tom McWeeney and Richard Friend. Published by DC Comics/Wildstorm, the original cover price was an eye-popping $5.95.

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odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

With 2011 coming to a close, I’m working on the final installments of two long-running series of novels I’ve enjoyed over the past few years.

The Night Eternal is the third and final book in The Strain trilogy by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro. An apocalyptic vampire story by way of CSI, I enjoyed the first book of the series quite a bit. Although Hogan and Del Toro aren’t doing much new here, at the very least the authors are cognicent of this fact and they pay homage to their influences in a fairly obvious, enjoyable way. The human protagonist’s characterization is a little thin, but they service the plot and The Strain series are page-turners.

I must confess, I had a slight problem with The Night Eternal’s scope and pacing. While the first two novels have rather successfully focused solely on Manhattan and its’ place in this vampiric outbreak, The Night Eternal broadens out from New York City in a way I felt was uneven. Considering this vampire plague was a worldwide threat, it felt strange to spend so much time in the first two thirds of this story in New York and then have the solution to mankind’s problems be located elsewhere. Please note that “problem” is not the same thing as a “complaint” and the finale works regardless of my quibble.

I’m also staring Out of Oz, the presumably the last book in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked series.. but more on that one when I finish it.

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Here’s something interesting: In the past week, folks on the Internet have been getting all riled up/excited about the swirling rumors that DC Comics is going to be producing a sequel to Watchmen, the seminal 1980’s revisionist superhero opus written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons.

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odds and ends

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

Thought today would be a good time to mention: I’m going to take next week off from comic posting. We’ve reached the end of the first quarter of this school year, hard as it is to believe. I have 140 fictional narratives that need to be read, corrected, commented on, and graded. I also made the mistake of asking for a big sustained silent reading project to be due a week from this Monday… in addition to all the regular classwork we do everyday.

In short, I’m going to be spending the majority of free time I normally use to pursue my hobby in doing extra work for school.

It’s weeks like the one upcoming I think of when people say “Teachers are overpaid, they get out of school at 2 everyday and only work nine months a year!” Saying teachers only work during those specific hours is like saying firefighters are only working when they’re inside a burning building… or surgeons are only working when they are in an operating room. It’s silly when you give it even a moment’s scrutiny.

I think I have enough bits and pieces for daily posting (sketchbook stuff and the like) but teaching comics will resume on October 24th.

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In other school news, thanks to some donations from local businesses my classroom just received a brand new Eno board this week!

I must admit, I’m probably the last person under the age of 40 working in public schools who unreservedly LOVES chalkboards, to the point of making them a weekly feature on this blog every Sunday. To that end, I’m a bit leery of this new piece of technology currently resting in the front of my classroom.

I’ve been assured I will receive training on how to use the board in my class and I look forward to that. I’m also quite thankful to be in the first wave of teachers who are having Eno boards installed. Hopefully I can figure out something cool to do with it in the upcoming months.

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I picked up the first three trades of DC/Vertigo’s DMZ this past week. They were a DonorsChoose donation to my classroom and I decided to read ’em through before I put the books into circulation. Gotta say, I really loved them.

Written by Brian Wood, DMZ takes place during the second American civil war in the near future. Photojournalist Matty Roth finds himself in the Manhattan demilitarized zone and begins to investigate the new landscape of New York City.

The gritty, angular artwork from Riccardo Burchielli sets the tone for the first three trades, which cover roughly two years of the comic. Burchielli’s blunt pencils bring home the grimness of a war-torn Big Apple, while at the same time wonderfully capturing the character moments that ground the big ideas.

Wood’s wonderfully good at world-building; he can do with one issue of a comic book what it takes some writers five to accomplish. My favorite work of his will always be Local, but DMZ gives Local a run for its’ money. Wood has clearly thought out the structure of his future Manhattan as well as any piece of fiction I have read this year. I love that he doesn’t skip on even the puniest of details of what it would be like to live in a DMZ. Wood writes it as a scary, imposing place… but makes sure to illustrate the surprising freedom inherent with living in the middle of a war zone.

Anyhow, it’s a good series. I’m keeping it on the “parental consent only” shelf but I look forward to recommending it to some of my more worldly and mature readers.

thrift store finds: the horns of elfland

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by Christopher Pearce

A rather terrific find this week at St. Vincent de Paul: The Horns of Elfland by Charles Vess, published by Archival Press in 1979.

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