Friday, 27 December 2013

While Researching Something Else, an Amusing Snippet from the Boston Globe…

While doing some research on a completely unrelated topic (thank you, strange Google algorithms), I came across the following amusing snippet from a column by Alex Beam, which I thought I’d share (it doesn’t really need any more context):

How great is Canada? It’s so great that their prime minister, Stephen Harper, has just published a 370-page book about . . . hockey! The New York Times calls Harper’s “A Great Game: The Forgotten Leafs and the Rise of Professional Hockey” “a finely detailed history of the struggle between professionalism and amateurism in early 20th-century Ontario hockey.”

Harper, a member of the Society for International Hockey Research, devoted nine years to researching and writing “Game,” prompting this comment from a writer for the Canadian newsmagazine Macleans:

“Governing Canada — now almost a full-time job.”

Thursday, 12 December 2013

President Obama in Comics: An Interesting and Peculiar Selection

President Obama has already featured in a number of comic books: be they comic/graphic adaptations of his life story, campaign-biography style one-shots, or cameos in established series comic series (such as Marc Guggenheim’s Avenging Spider-Man, below). Few presidents have excited the imaginations of such a broad segment of the American public and creative industries as has the 44th president. As someone who is interested in the cross-over areas of politics, media and pop culture, these past five years have been a fertile time for alternative presidential coverage.


Boom Studios’ Barack Obama 2012 Election Issue


Barack Obama: The Comic Book Biography (IDW, 2012); Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man: Election Day Cover, 2008 (above) and interior pages (below)


Most recently, IDW Comics published The Other Dead (currently at issue #4), which is elevator-pitched as “Zombie Animals Devour the World”. The longer-form description sounds like a familiar, fauna-twist on The Walking Dead:

“As a weary community braces for the onslaught of an incoming superstorm, an even more insidious force grows right under their noses! When a sudden outbreak turns every animal in sight into raging, flesh-craving monsters, a colorful cast of characters will have no choice but to contend with THE OTHER DEAD!”

But, as the series unfolds, and the infection spreads across America, a diverse cast of characters – “ranging from a demon-obsessed death metal band to a paranoid survivalist to the President of the United States himself” – will try to contend with and combat “the most unpredictable zombie outbreak in history.” I don’t have any interior page previews featuring the president, but of the 11 cover variants that have thus-far been revealed for the first four issues, there are two (#1 and #4) that feature President Obama prominently, toting some serious firepower:


The Other Dead issues #1-4 are out now, published by IDW Comics. The series is written by Joshua Ortega and Digger T. Mesch, cover artwork is by Kevin Eastman, interior artwork is by Qing Ping Mui, and colouring by Blond.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Practicing What You Preach: The Curious, Broad Appeal of Pope Francis


I am by no means a religious person. I hold deep skepticism and distrust of organised religion – the observable hypocrisies, as well as the historical corruption that has seemingly defined the Catholic Church and other organised, “official” denominations jars with everything I have ever been taught in the mandatory Religious Studies/Education classes I took at school from the age of seven until 16 (not to mention the weekly, also mandatory service attendance). Nevertheless, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what the new pontiff has to say on economic and social issues – more so, in fact, than I find myself agreeing with many politicians. In a recent Foreign Policy newsletter, I followed a link to E.J. Dionne Jr.’s piece on Pope Francis. I am by no means an authority on Catholic or Christian teaching, having focused my attentions instead on the ways in which politicians and others who desire influence and power have perverted the Bible and its message to serve their own ends – televangelists being the primary focus of my disappointment and ire. I nevertheless wanted to share some of Dionne’s and others’ comments on the style and substance that Francis has brought to the Vatican.

“At a time when religion has come to seem synonymous with dogmatic certainty and, in the eyes of many secular observers, fundamentalism, here is arguably the most visible religious leader in the world asserting that questions, not answers, can inspire a vibrant faith.”

As I was writing the first draft of this piece, I noticed that TIME magazine had just announced the selection of Pope Francis as their Person of the Year – “For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy…”

Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the article announcing and explaining the choice, started by posing the following question and comment:

“How do you practice humility from the most exalted throne on earth? Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly — young and old, faithful and cynical — as has Pope Francis. In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power.”

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Editorial Cartoonists Have Fun with Amazon’s Drones…

It was inevitable, really. The Editorial Cartoons that came out in the wake of Amazon’s announcement that they would like to employ drones in the future for delivering orders are all pretty funny. Here are a selection of the best.

First up, the expected parody of drones’ use in the War on Terror:


Mike Luckovich


And this very cheeky one from Signe Wilkinson

Second up, there were a few commenting on the “expected glitches” that might occur after Amazon implement this strategy:


Stuart Carlson


Nick Anderson (this is probably my favourite)

The inevitable impact Amazon’s drone deliverers would have on the workforce:


Matt Davies

And, finally, a handful of more-seasonal ones:


Steve Breen


Chip Bok


Tom Toles