Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Sunday, May 30, 2004

that is why they call you smallie glbtzhtjxu 

Day after day, they just keep rolling into my inbox.

loser with a small qozrip

i know it is down ci mkcnps

you have a small one ahah uatvfxihs afypt

I can't take it anymore! It's not because I'm getting spam pushing erectile disfunction pills, nor that I'm getting so much of it. It's that I can't wrap my head around this new ad tactic of taunting the prospective customer. Since when is making fun of your target audience a wise business model? It makes me wish at times that I had hacker skillz and could track down the spammers and confront them, ala the Jay and Silent Bob internet payback scene. Of course, I'd be in for some travel as so many of these operations are based in other countries. But imagine the surprise factor. Especially if you went to personally meet one of the Nigerian bank officials who need you to accept a large sum of their countrymen's money for a brief time. It would probably end badly, but still, just 'magine.

Daydreaming about this made me wonder: what's going on with HavenCo? I read about them in a fascinating WIRED article a few years ago: an internet "colocation" compay that would keep your web data safe from anyone or government who might try to confiscate it all. How would they do this?

Well, you guessed it of course; by setting up a huge phalanx of servers on a WWII-era anti-aircraft platform that's been declared a sovereign nation, duhr. The micronation in the North Sea is called Sealand, formerly known as Roughs Tower, and you can learn more about it at this website. Essentially, a free thinking fisherman named (Prince)Roy staked it out in the 60's and since it was 6 miles out at sea and out of Great Britain's domain, was able to create his own principality. Over the years he and his family have scraped barnacles off of and painted their country, and with the help of some fishing buddies (I presume) Roy once fought and captured some Dutch brigands who kidnapped his son and attempted to take Sealand by force.

Then in recent years, a young computer maverick convinced investors to help him form HavenCo, which would pay to house its operations on Sealand. On their site they make a big deal about freedom and individual rights, and of course it looks like their intended clientele is largely people hosting gambling or porn sites that need to avoid "laws". It's hard to tell from their webpages if many companies are actually using their services though, or if the whole thing is even in operation yet.

Obviously by now you're thinking as I thought: Sealand isn't a member of the U.N. or NATO or anything--it could be attacked!

Back in the WIRED article, the whiz kid, Ryan Lackey, boasted that the structure was going to be outfitted with "50-caliber heavy machine guns, 5.56-mm automatic rifles, and 12-gauge shotguns." Once you've recovered from the laughing fit of imagining programmers and techies running out to man guns, you'll then spend time thinking of affordable ways to bring that platform down. A moderate sized gunboat should be able to do it, maybe even a fishing boat with a couple of rocket launchers to lob heat at that main building on top. I assume those two foundations have rooms in them too. You could probably just sail up quietly at night without being detected, park under the thing and wire it to blow.

Now, I don't really want to bring the thing down (unless they host some really reprehensible stuff), in fact I want more of it. This is the closest thing to an evil villain's base I've seen. There must be some offshore oilrigs that have gone dry and closed that could also be exploited in this way. I'd like to think I'd have something better than shotguns for defenses. Myself, I'd go for underwater mines for handling the ocean-based attacks. Then I'd try to make any large platform guns able to swivel, aim and fire by remote control. Make the defense work like a video game, and then those geeks will be able to do some real damage.


Monday, May 24, 2004

The Endless Quiz That Is The Internet 

This one seems a little different, a quiz that tells you which movie you'd be in. I don't think I gave particularly dour answers, but I'd rather be in this one than most of the other choices. You can go try it, but watch out you don't end up belonging in Moulin Rouge.

Fight Club!

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla


Friday, May 21, 2004

Things Calvin Pisses On, #34 

I just remembered a Calvin sighting from my drive to Seattle the other day, one of the few times I've felt a real urge to jerk my steering wheel action-movie style to ram a car off the road. We all know that since Bill Watterson wouldn't license Calvin and Hobbes for merchandising, the only public vestige we have of the last great American comic strip is bootleg images of Calvin mischievously whizzing on car brands, NASCAR drivers' numbers, etc. This particular hayseed had one I hadn't seen before, Calvin peeing on FRANCE, as represented by a French flag and the word "France", since the colors of the flag don't translate with just white ink. Even better, Calvin is wearing a U.S. Army helmet. Now I know why Watterson hides deep in the Ohio woods and doesn't venture out into the world at large.

They could at least make it more accurate by switching the flag image with a pile of Iraqi prisoners.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Girls Are Back In Town 

Finally, Jill and Allison have returned from Europe. Most of the time they were with Jill's mom in London, then at a friend's place in Milan. Besides beating me to Italy, Allie can now make a rude Italian hand gesture. They flew in to SeaTac airport, so most of my day was spent driving up to Seattle and back. Luckily I had the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Franz Ferdinand cds with me. That FF cd is a monster, you should get it unless you're into lame music.

Today I got a nice email from my Diamond rep Steve Leaf, who finally got around to scanning a sketch I did for him at last year's Small Press Expo, which is really close to Diamond Comics Distribution's main offices. He's a big Avengers fan, so I did a Steed and Peel for him. Good to have proof; I heartily encourage this giving back of images that I made. They make blog posts look more substantial.

Now back to getting a jet-lagged baby into an American West Coast schedule.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Guardian Jones 

Hey, there's another interview with Mystifying colleague Casey Jones over at Comic Book Resources today. He needs to tip us off on items like this. Casey's talking about his new Marvel project, "Guardians"...

It's a story about a group of kids who run around playing super-heroes, and one day they have an actual 'alien encounter!' When they end up saving the little guy from danger, they tell him that if he ever needs their help again to just let them know. Well, 14 years later, the alien comes back to Earth and takes them up on their offer! It's up to them to rise to the occasion. It's a really fun story that has elements of 'The Goonies,' 'Last Starfighter,' and even 'Lilo and Stitch.'

Ah, that Last Starfighter comment puts me in mind of Robert Preston's final screen role as the foppish alien Centauri...

"My dear boy, I merely lay dormant while my body repaired itself!"


Choose Life. No Wait – Choose Me! 

I just got my Eisner awards ballot in the mail today, so it's a good time to bring this up. I'm listed in the category Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, and I grabbed a pen, ready to check myself. I hate to admit it, but I actually had that same boneheaded feeling as Chris Klein's character in Election-- "it just didn't seem right to vote for myself". I started looking around online at my fellow contestants to review their work--agh! There's not a bum in the bunch! We all deserve more recognition! More specifically, we all deserve more money. So rather than promise you a tax cut, I'll just put the list up, link 'em all, and let you decide for yourselves (assuming you can vote in the Eisners). Luckily, we all have websites. Actually, they all have pretty cool sites, too. But ignore that, this isn't Best Website.

Derek Kirk Kim

Christine Norrie


Ben Towle

Brian Wood

There, with a pen in my clenched fist, I made my choice. Now I can focus on the other categories. It looks pretty good, they've dropped things like Best Thermos and Best Pog this year. The whole ceremony has been shortened lately too, so it's not nearly the buttkiller it was in years past. Go to San Diego Comicon if you can, it's a charming, quiet little show...


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Great White North Report 

Last week I was a guest at the Calgary Comics Show, and it was the first time I'd been back to Canada since I was about ten. You know what they like to see from you nowadays? Passports. Or at least birth certificates. And if you thought it was like when you were a kid and didn't take such things, officials at the airport get insulted as if you don't think Canada is a real country. "Would you try to get into Germany with just a driver's license? I bet not," they might say. Okay, I had to get that out of the way right off the bat.

Other than that, the trip was very pleasant. I was on the same flight from Portland as Fantastic Four inker/sometimes writer Karl Kesel, and his wife Myrna. So lots of catching up with them, and we flew into Seattle where Jay Faerber (Noble Causes) joined the pilgrimage. We were on prop planes the whole time, but that didn't keep me awake. I only woke up long enough to be puzzled about our flight snack: beef jerky. That was a switch from the usual pretzel packs. Once in Calgary, we were picked up by Kelly Dowd who runs the comics shop Redd Skull. A darn nice (and handsome!) guy for someone with a Captain America-hating Nazi for a store mascot. Later we found out that Kelly took the store over from someone else a decade ago, pre-named. I could go on about us eating at the Mongolian Grill, but you'd get hungry and you're probably at work. We were joined by Tom Grummett, Steve Rolston, and Brian Ashmore, and boy can those fellers eat grill. After dinner everyone was obsessed with picking anything up from The Liquor Barn and heading back to the hotel.

The show was on Sunday, at the University of Calgary stadium. And after several comics shows in concrete bunker convention centers, it was really nice to have one in a skybox where you could look out big windows. Kelly and fellow organizer Ken Poole ( whom I believe to actually be actor Steve Buscemi) warned us that every year, no matter what the weather was like (it was hot Saturday) before, it snows on the day of their show. And later I was pelting Jay Faerber with a snowball, because the curse holds. Despite the cold and flurries, there was some football practice on the field, and later a whole soccer game. All the guests had tables right in front of the windows, so we thought the attendees were simply staring at us all day.

Maybe it was because I got some of the famed "Calgary sleep" that Kelly told us about, but for some reason I had one of the best sketching days I've had in a long time. A good thing too, because Steven Gettis (half the people at the show were named Steve, so I'm glad Lieber didn't go) was there, ready to collect a literary commission. Steven builds websites for many of comics' top creators, and has an impressive collection of creators/characters from literature drawn by industry artists. We had pored over the pieces the night before (after Liquor Barn!), and there's been some talk of it all becoming a book to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at some point. I've owed him a Rudyard Kipling for almost a year, and I brought reference with me just for this day. Jolly good.

So there it is, and now it's on the website. If the book gets made though, I'll have to tinker with it beforehand. Albertans are undaunted by snow, and plenty came out for the afternoon. They had to be reassured that the hockey game would be aired at the show though -- go Flames!-- and it was. Some of the friendliest readers you could hope to meet, even though I charged them too much for my book. Hey, that exchange rate confuses me. I did bigger sketches than usual in the books. No matter how much Canadians say they don't really say "Eh" and "aboat", you get them in their element with comics and hockey all over, and they can't help themselves. The only thing that confused me was buying a coffee that morning, where they didn't let me add the cream and sugar. I guess I can't be trusted to bring along my passport, so it's probably best to take that responsibility out of my hands too. Here's a shot of the room with Kelly and Vancouver's Leonard Wong comparing notes on how they put on these shows.

Later I'm looking over Brian Ashmore's paintings from a Batman book he did, and asking him about life in Montana. Then I'm talking to Smallville writer Jake Black about his life in Utah. I think Grummett lives in Saskatoon, but I'm not sure on that. I'm envious of how simply Faerber can state the premises of Noble Causes or Dodge's Bullets, while I take forever to get out my Interbabble. Jay's not in any of these pictures because he was taking them. Erik Sveinson brings me his Star Wars sketchbook and I draw an Amidala for him. I've got to say, if you ask a Canadian to email you a jpeg of your commission, when you get back home, there's a jpeg waiting in your Inbox.

Yeah, I know there should be an Annakin in that scene, but I'm calling the shots here. The show wrapped up, and we got ready to eat again. Except for Karl and Myrna, they rented a car and took off for Banff. No, not that farty sound effect when Nightcrawler teleports, its a humongous park in the Rockies. After pizza, I spent the evening hanging with Rolston and his mate Sabina. Steve and I drew Redd Skulls for the store's collection, and we all watched the conclusion of Survivor. Ambah (the way Boston Rob says it) won. And I won copies of Rolston works Pounded and One Bad Day from Oni-- I enjoyed them as soon as I got home.

And I did get home, though I caught some more lip from the Department of Homeland Security at the airport. I was really afraid they were going to question me about the ungodly amount of candy I had in my bags. Steven Gettis also works for Cadbury, and loaded us up with chocolate, gummy bears, Chiclets and more. They must have thought Faerber and I had freakish sweet tooths. Finally I'm back in wet, warm Portland, wondering when I can return to peace-loving, healthcare-having Canada. Probably this Fall, because I promised Leonard I'd come to one of his Vancouver shows. Thanks Albertans, I'll be back.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Walking On Eternal Sunshine 

I finally saw my first movie at the classic Moreland Theatre yesterday, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I'd wanted to see it when it first came out but couldn't, lucky for me Portland is full of second-run theaters. I was in LA when it opened, and was happy to see Charlie Kaufman's name on the marquis. I can't think of another time I've seen the writer get top billing, what a welcome sight.

I also want to see more conceptual posters like this one had. Even if I hadn't known Kaufman's rep for inventive writing that poster would have made me interested in checking out the film in the way *#@$! headshots of the actors never do. The approach that says "these actors are in this movie." It's also appropriate to not have Jim Carrey on the poster (at least the one I'm talking about) because he's so subdued in this film that he really seems like a normal guy rather than the rubber-faced fartsmith (I'd link you to the Onion article that uses that term, but now it costs money to see their archives) that America loves.

The movie uses a sci-fi premise (erasing painful memories) to make some points about memory, relationships and how the bad and good bits are irrevocably linked. I can't think of any other way you could have the unusual scene of a couple just beginning a relationship and having to listen to tapes of themselves saying what they hated about each other. Most films about ideas (not that there's that many) forget to entertain us, but like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, Kaufman's stories always hold that goal. I think Human Nature could have worked too, but director Gondry played it farcical instead of straight, something he corrected here.

I hope this means more prominent roles for Mark Ruffalo, who plays the head techie. Ever since his convincing turn as the screw-up brother in You Can Count On Me, I pay attention to anything he's in. My only disappointment is one where you'd think I wouldn't be such a rube. The trailers had ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" playing, which I thought was a perfect selection. So I kept expecting to hear it just like everyone thought they were going to hear "Song Number 2" by Blur in Starship Troopers. I know damn well that movies are usually still being scored when trailers are made and that alternatives are used-- else every single Touchstone picture would have "Walking on Sunshine" on its soundtrack. But still. At least Katrina and The Waves are still making money off that. Maybe I'll devote a later post to why everyone should remember ELO.


Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Mercury Levels Rising 

You can't keep those kids at Mercury Studios down. There's a nice interview with the ones who show up at the studio most over at comics news site The Pulse. Go learn more about my Portland Pals-- in fact I was just over at their office earlier, secretly working.

And let's welcome the newest incarnation of Atomeka Press to the blogosphere. They're putting out the Dave Johnson sketchbook, and bringing back the legendary anthology A1. Jolly good.


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Check Me Out at the Library 

Parkerspace.com mentions that I'll be at the Calgary Comics Show this Sunday, but I haven't plugged the previous showing: Saturday at 3:30 I'll be at Crowfoot Library in Calgary to talk about graphic novels. Mainly mine. If you live in the area and want to go to something free where you can ask questions all the livelong day, I say come on out.


Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Suspended In Language 

... and now I'll mention a book that isn't even out yet. I see that today over at The Pulse there's a good interview with Jim Ottaviani about his latest effort, Suspended In Language. The book showcases the father of Quantam Mechanics, physicist Niels Bohr, at over 300 pages. The herculean labor of drawing all that went to Leland Purvis, whom you might know from his eclectic Vox, and Pubo, the story of a li'l homonculus running around in the woods. Being a completist, Jim always footnotes his research, but this time he got a few cartoonists to do it in comics form: Roger Langridge, Linda Medley, Jay Hosler, Steve Leialoha all provided the extra information, and oh yeah-- ME.

So if you haven't yet experienced the brainy comics of GT.Labs (guess where the publishing name comes from, I dare ya), this will be a fine place to jump on board. Now, back to my calculations.


Tuesday, May 04, 2004


It occurs to me that I don't mention good comics much on this site, outside of mine. Let me remedy that and make a vow to talk about funnybooks more often.

Like say... SHANGRI-LA, by Marc Bryant and Shepherd Hendrix, which came out in January. It follows a rockstar with a contract out on his life-- but the killer is one of his biggest fans. While that plot unfolds, the story oftens cuts to the afterlife, where the late legends of Rock and Roll look on and offer commentary. This is the kind of book you can leave with your friends who don't think comics are for them-- if it was a movie they'd watch the whole thing. Bryant's writing is witty and considers all the neat possibilities of his fictional premises. Hendrix' art is rock solid, full of good characterization, and works well in black and white.

I wonder if this grew out of Bryant talking to Shepherd about his famous rock-legend relative Jimi. Which reminds me of another cousin of his I wanted to mention a while back, Reggie Hendrix. Reggie played guitar as well (and keyboards), but I met him while doing storyboards in Los Angeles. Reggie was an excellent artist too, and fun to talk to. We worked for a couple of days on some project I can't even remember, both sent there by the agency Famous Frames. But I remember what a great guy he was, and a ton of his anecdotes. He died a few months back, and I really wish I'd gotten to work with him again.

Sorry to get sidetracked. Again, Shangri-La: what the mainstream in comics should, and hopefully will be. Get it.


Sunday, May 02, 2004

Pants On Fire 

Wow, I was actually about to post about how I changed my brake pads today, and then I messed up and went online to see if there was any comics news.
So Micah Wright has fessed up that he wasn't an Army Ranger, and more importantly, the Washington Post has said so. I can't imagine the shitstorm Micah is spinning around in right now. I'm taken aback myself, even though I was pretty sure it wasn't true. I'd known former Rangers had posted in his forum and challenged him, and there was never a very convincing rebuttal. My thinking was that Micah was in some regular infantry unit and had fudged the truth to sound more like an asskicker, reimagining the experience as a special-ops type who jumped out of airplanes. In fact, the closest he got to the military was being in ROTC in college, which mostly requires you to go raise and take down the flags on campus.

I'm bummed-- Micah wrote a really nice blurb that I used on the back of my book, which he called "funny, fast-paced, and exciting." (Now he was telling the God's Honest there) He's also a really nice guy, so I don't want to pile up on him, he's getting plenty of that now. He's already lost his next poster book deal, and he's probably going to lose lots of comics work. Which is a shame because he's a very good writer. While very apologetic, he's still trying to spin it and find a way to make lemonade, and that's a mistake. You can't call it a hoax, that's not the same thing, and it's done in a different spirit. You also can't try to turn it into an indictment of professional journalism, that almost hints at noble purpose and certainly switches the blame. All you can do is keep apologizing and eat enough crow until there's a consensus that you've done enough.

I've gotten less judgy with age I guess, but I just can't bring myself to get all righteous about it. I understand why people are mad, especially in a time when our Rangers are getting killed. But we can be mad or just disappointed without being an angry mob. Really, the best thing Micah could probably do is weather the storm until it finally subsides, and then write a soul-baring account of the whole experience. I'd read that.


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