Spoiler-Free Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi [[Guest Post]]

This week we have a very special guest post. My darling Gear has reviewed Star Wars: The Last Jedi! Now, we saw it on Thursday night and It was so fun. As much as I love Star Wars though, it is my husband’s heart and soul, so I felt it only fitting that he should be the one to review it.

Star Wars, Episode VIII, Episode 8

So without further Ado, here is his review!


The Last Jedi Review

My lovely wife had come up to me on Wednesday saying “I’m going to have a guest writer for this week” and as I asked who a smirk crept upon her face as she gleefully said “You!”

That’s right folks! With the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Mama Michine requested, nay, demanded that I write a review. A first time for everything, right?
So strap yourselves in as I try my very best to give a spoiler-free review.

First off, a little note on what Star Wars means to me to get an idea of how I view this movie. I Have enjoyed Star Wars since I was a small child, but only became an obsessed fan in the middle of high school. While I understand that the prequels are bad, I enjoy the hell out of them. I can understand where they go wrong and what they ruined. I watch and read almost all Star Wars side-media. The original trilogy is better than the prequels, perhaps because people weren’t afraid to tell George when something was a bad idea. Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back) is bigger and deeper than the original STAR WARS (Episode IV), however, Episode IV (A New Hope) is still the best film of them all. I enjoyed Episode VII (The Force Awakens) up until the halfway point when ‘Death Star 3.0’ came into play. Episode III (Attack of the Clones) is my personal favourite of all the Star Wars films.

Now, with all that out of the way, I went into The Last Jedi very excited. The Force Awakens had set a lot of questions up while sending the universe into a different, if not narratively similar, setting. I enjoyed the new cast a lot and was eager to see where they would go next, not to mention the excitement of finally seeing Luke Skywalker again after his …cameo? in The Force Awakens.

I loved this movie.

The Last Jedi picks up almost immediately where The Force Awakens left us. The resistance is outrunning the first order as Rey (Daisy Ridley) deals with Luke Skywalker. I was delighted to see that it actually worked! I was very worried that this would make them remove the opening crawl, or alter the format that Star Wars has used for 7 movies prior. But it was laid out in a way to give us that satisfying STAR WARS flash across the screen and opening crawl that lead right into the story.

My one major complaint with The Force Awakens was how much it had to borrow from the original Star Wars. It held back on any big changes, avoiding risks and playing it safe (understandably so, as it was the spark of this whole Disney reboot and had to be done right). The Last Jedi however, is brave. It is not afraid to play with your expectations, not afraid to show failure or defeat. This film did it in such a way that I felt nobody was safe and literally anything could happen. Mistakes are made. Characters have to deal with consequences. The Last Jedi feels like the least classically Star Wars film of them all, while still being a great Star Wars film.

There is fantastic acting across the board. Luke Skywalker stole the show for me. I love Mark Hamill in anything he does and it felt like he gave it his all. To not bring up Carrie Fisher would be a crime. I was happy to see her in The Force Awakens but it did kind of feel like pulling someone out of retirement for their obligatory lines. She truly shined in this one.My heart broke every time I saw her on screen knowing that this would be the last time she would appear. I’m very glad they kept everything she filmed for The Last Jedi in tact after her death, and I am curious how they will handle Leia in the next movie.

That’s not to say there wasn’t anything that didn’t work for me. A chunk of the humour they had was really good, while other bits felt incredibly out of place. Acting in a way that feels less like a galaxy far far away and more like a sitcom near you.

This movie was the longest Star Wars yet, and it showed. For the first half of the film they jump between so many characters and story points. There was a whole side story with Finn (John Boyega) and the new character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Rose was adorable, her and Finn made a great team, but their mission was tonally off from the rest of the film, almost as though it should have been for a different movie. I enjoyed the character Bellissimo Del Toro played but felt he was too underused to be added to such a large array of characters. A lot of these things really made the movie lag in the middle.

One personal gripe of mine with The Force Awakens was I felt none of the technology had advanced. They were using vehicles and wearing clothes very similar to the original trilogy for the sole purpose of nostalgia. Sadly, this movie continues that.

They really dropped the ball with some of the mysteries. A lot of lingering threads were cut in this film. and while a few were underwhelming, I felt they built up to a message to the Star Wars franchise as a whole that I really got behind. It’s time to move forward and let go of the past.

Star Wars is moving in a new direction, as it should. One reason I enjoy the prequels so much is because of how different they are from the original trilogy. If I wanted more of the same I would just re watch what worked. This movie is going to be very polarizing. I feel that fans who really liked The Force Awakens are going to have a hard time with a few things. And fans who felt underwhelmed are going to get a breath of fresh air. And for all those who didn’t care much for star wars and found themselves surprisingly liking Episode VII, I think this is a great sequel to jump into.


A big thanks to Gear for writing this weeks post. Do you have any thoughts on the newest movie? Do you agree or disagree with my husband’s review? Let us know in the comments!

Is My Halloween Costume Racist?

Over the years, more and more people have been realizing that it’s not okay to dress up as a stereotype. But somehow, costume stores still carry racist costumes. It seems that the lines can be a little blurred at times. This is generally a white people thing, but other races aren’t immune to acts of racism.

I feel I should preface this by stating that I am a white woman. I am not the voice for all cultures, but I will use my privilege as a platform to do my best to help. People seem to think that people of other backgrounds are being overly sensitive, without considering why it bothers them so much. Hint: When you deal with microaggressions and dog-whistle racism on a daily basis, you get kind of fed up (not to mention hate crimes).

So, here we go, let’s tackle this thing.

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Race Costumes

Generally, nowadays most people know that it’s not kosher to dress up in blackface/brownface/yellowface/redface. But I’m still gonna say right now, for those of you who might not know it, don’t dress up as a disgusting generalization of a race. It’s disgusting that there is still an abundance of costumes that you find that are like “Mexican Guy” fully equipped with sombrero, poncho, taco, and moustache. If you don’t know why it’s wrong to dress like that I’m not sure if I can help you. I mean, I’ll try, but, not sure you’ll get it.

Question: Isn’t my costume funny?
Answer: No. It’s wrong. It’s not funny. People and their culture are not a joke. Someone’s heritage is not a joke. Try to imagine that someone took something very important to you, part of your identity, part of your family’s identity, part of your friend’s identity and shat on it. They make fun of it, they laugh at it, they’ve made something integral to your identity a joke. Suddenly it’s not funny anymore. It’s not a joke, it’s an attack.

Question: Isn’t it okay if I’m not actually racist? I love [race/country]!
Answer: You might not think you are racist, but the fact that you think that a costume representing a race is okay shows that you still have a-ways to go. Casual racism often goes unnoticed by ourselves because it is almost innate in our everyday interactions, and what we see in the media. So, though you might not perceive yourself to be bigoted, you undoubtedly have thoughts reinforced by society’s bigotry. (common examples include thinking: Chinese people are bad drivers, black people are thugs, all Indian people smell like curry… saying things like “I’m not racist, but…”)

Question: But what if I’m wearing my costume ironically? My costume is a racist idiot!
Answer: Is it really ironic? You are still buying a costume and giving your money to a company, telling them that it’s okay to keep manufacturing these awful costumes. People are not going to know just by looking at you that you are wearing it ironically. When a racist person sees you wearing a racist costume, it reinforces their opinion that other races are not on the same level as them. It tells them that it’s okay to think of other races as a joke, and it tells them they are not alone in their awful opinions. So even if you’re wearing it ‘ironically’ and you ‘don’t really mean it’, you’re still a part of the problem.

Cultural Influences

I have to admit that even I partook in this one before I ever knew what cultural appropriation was. I painted my face like a catrina (skull), wore a poncho, and one of those black hats with a ball fringe. It wasn’t to be offensive. I was wearing it because I was genuinely interested in Day of the Dead. Dia de Muertos is a cool thing. But the thing is, it’s not my cool thing to turn into a costume. It’s an important part of Mexican heritage. This article from Bustle lays out some pretty good outlines.

Characters

Characters are where the line starts to get a bit fuzzy. Especially when it comes to children in costumes. Dressing up as a character is generally fine, regardless of race, as long as the character isn’t wearing an outfit that crosses over into the other two sections I’ve listed. Like, if your white kid wants to dress up as Mulan, go for it, but don’t dress up as Mulan when she’s visiting the matchmaker/singing Reflection.

I feel conflicted on this sometimes, because I feel that for adults the standard should be a little bit different. It might be a bit more questionable for a white adult to dress as a character of colour. After all, in 2017 there was like, what? Maybe 5 movies with lead characters that were POC? How many movies starred white people? Pretty much all of them. I don’t see anything wrong with people of colour dressing up as white characters. However, I feel like, at some point, white people need to step back and let others have the characters that they relate to.

Do you have any other thoughts on this that I didn’t mention? Are there any stories of a time where you were insulted by a costume? Do you disagree with anything I’ve said? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Harrow County Volume 1 Review

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So, some of you might know this about me, but before becoming a mom I worked at a comic shop. After having Cog my boss would have the occasional staffing hiccup, so I’ve picked up a few shifts. One of the new staff members and I were chatting about what kind of horror we like. I told her that, while I’m not into excessive gore or torture stuff, I’m into creepy things. She eagerly asked me how I felt about witches, and it took me a second to respond because I wasn’t sure if she was talking about witches or ‘Wytches‘ (which is next on my reading list). After I told her that I LOVE witches, she recommended Harrow County.

Before I talk about the plot, I’ve just got to say, the art in Harrow County is gorgeous. Instead of colouring digitally, Tyler Crook (the artist) used watercolor. Personally, I find the texture that can be achieved in watercolor really brings a whole ‘nother level to horror comics. In fact, when Gear and I finally get around to working on our comic, I hope to use watercolor as well. Crook uses thick bold lines for the characters, and more delicate, fine lines for the details. One thing that I find especially interesting is that, other than the night-time scenes which used mostly cool colours, the comic mainly uses warm colours which is pretty unusual for a horror comic.

The characters in this book are brought to life by the fact that they look like average people. Not super-models. The main character, Emmy, looks rather ordinary which makes her seem all the more interesting with how fantastical her story is.

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Getting on to the plot (there will be some spoilers), the story starts off telling the story of the witch Hester Beck. She was a healer to the townsfolk, a friend, but also did some sinister, shady things that the people could no longer ignore. They beat her, they shoot her, they hang her, and finally, they burn her. As she burns she tells the townsfolk that she will return.

The story then follows a girl named Emmy on the cusp of her 18th birthday. She lives on a farm with her Pa, somewhere in southern USA (circa 1930, judging by the fashions). The closer she gets to her birthday, the more strange things start happening around her. The livestock are getting sick. She’s having nightmares. Things start to get strange when she goes out to walk through the forest near her farm and sees a boy. Emmy tries to call out to him and he runs. She chases after him, and warns him not to go a certain way because there are thorns and brambles. He still runs. She follows through the brambles and finds flesh. A sentient flesh, of the boy who ran through.

I won’t say any more than that about the plot because honestly guys, you need to read Harrow County for yourself. It is sooooo good. It kept me very engaged while I was reading it. There are many comics that I feel I can set down and pick up later, but this one was one that I couldn’t set down. I put it up there with Locke and Key, and Coraline.

I enjoyed this comic so much, that I’ve already put out an order for volume two! The trade for Vol. 1 included character sketches, notes, watercolor tests, as well as the original script for the first volume (which was originally intended to be an online serial!).

If you guys decide to read it, let me know what you think!!

E3 2017 Roundup: All Announced Games

E3 just happened this past week! There was a huge amount of announcements (not as much as last year though). If you’ve been too busy to keep up with the hours and hours of streams, don’t worry. I’ve got your back. I’ve been pouring over all the articles and announcements on the gaming news websites. Surprisingly, it’s been quite a bit of work to get all the information necessary. I have been trying to accumulate titles, release dates, which consoles the titles will be playable on, and any other information that might be of use, and none of that has all been in the same place. In any case, I hope I’ve made the search a bit easier for y’all than it was for me.

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Sony

Remakes, Remasters, DLC, Etc.

Horizon Zero Dawn is releasing some DLC

Undertale will be coming to PS4 and Vita

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

Skyrim will be coming out in VR for PS4

Final Fantasy XV: Monsters of the Deep will be coming out in VR for PS4

Shadow of the Colossus is releasing a remake

New Games

Call of Duty: WWII November 3, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
Days Gone December 29, 2017 PS4
Destiny 2 September 6, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
Detroit: Become Human 2017 PS4
God of War “Early 2018” PS4
Gran Turismo Sport 2017 PS4
The Inpatient (N/A) PS4 VR
Bravo Team (N/A) PS4 VR
Knack 2 September 5, 2017 PS4
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite September 19, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
Monster Hunter: World “Early 2018” PS4 XBone, PC
Moss (N/A) PS4 VR
Spider-Man “Early 2018” PS4
StarChild (N/A) PS4 VR
Super Hot (N/A) PS4 VR
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy August 22, 2017 PS4
That’s You July 4, 2017 PS4
Hidden Agenda (N/A) PS4 Playlink
Tropico 6 2018 PS4, XBone
Matterfall August 15, 2017 PS4
Everybody’s Golf August 2017 PS4
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (N/A) PS4

Microsoft

Remakes, Remasters, DLC, Etc.

New console, the XBox One X (Acronym XBOX, haha) Releases Nov. 7

X-Box One backwards compatibility will be expanding

Minecraft will have cross play with nintendo switch, and will be upgrading visuals for Xbox One X

New Games

Black Desert Early 2018 XBone, XBOX
Code Vein 2018 PS4, XBone, PC
Crackdown 3 Nov 7, 2017 XBone, XBOX, PC
Dragonball Fighter Z Early 2018 XBone, XBOX
Forza Motorsport 7 October 3, 2017 XBone, XBOX, PC
Ori and the Will of the Wisps N/A XBone, XBOX, PC
Tacoma August 2, 2017 XBone, XBOX, PC
Super Lucky’s Tale November 7, 2017 XBone, XBOX This one looks really cute!
Life is Strange: Before the Storm August 31, 2017 Not specified
Metro: Exodus 2018 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War October 10, 2017 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC
Sea of Thieves Early 2018 XBone, XBOX, PC
State of Decay 2 Spring 2018 XBone, XBOX, PC

ID@Xbox

Ark: Survival Evolved August 8, 2017 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC, Mac, Linux
The Artful Escape N/A XBone, XBOX, PC
Ashen April 30, 2018 XBone, XBOX, PC
Battlerite 2018 XBone, PC
Brawlout Available Now PS4, XBone, PC
Conan: Exiles Available Now PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC
Cuphead September 29, 2017 XBone, XBOX, PC This looks AMAZING
The Darwin Project Spring 2018 XBone, XBOX
Deep Rock Galactic 2018 XBone, XBOX, PC
Dunk Lords 2018 Steam
Fable Fortune N/A Steam
Fortnite July 25, 2017 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC, Mac
Hello Neighbor August 29, 2017 XBone, PC, Mac
The Last Night 2018 Steam
>Observer_ 2017 PS4, XBone, PC, Linux,
Path of Exile July 2017 PC
Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds 2017 XBone, XBOX, PC
Osiris: New Dawn Available Now PS4, XBone, PC
Paladins: Champions of the Realm Available Now PS4, XBone, PC, Mac
Raiders of the Broken Planet 2017 PS4, Xbone, PC
Riverbond 2018 PS4, XBone, PC
Robocraft: Infinity Early 2018 XBone, PC
Project Code: SHIFT 2018 XBone They’re considering changing the title
Strange Brigade N/A PS4, XBone, PC
Surviving Mars 2018 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC, Linux
Unruly Heroes Early 2018 PS4, XBone, XBOX, Switch, PC

Nintendo

Remakes, Remasters, DLC, Etc.

DLC For Breath of the Wild has been announced

New Games

Metroid Prime 4 N/A Switch
Metroid 2: Samus Returns September 15, 2017 3DS (Remake)
Kirby (Untitled) 2018 Switch Co-Op
Pokemon (Untitled) N/A Switch
Rocket League Late 2017 Switch Cross-Platform Multiplayer
Super Mario Odyssey Oct 27, 2017 Switch
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Late 2017 Switch
Yoshi (Untitled) 2018 Switch

Bethesda

Remakes, Remasters, DLC, Etc.

Dishonored 2 DLC

Skyrim Expansion

Skyrim will be available on Switch later this year and will have Amiibo support

New Games

Doom VFR Late 2017 PS4
Elder Scrolls Legends Late 2017 Android Already available on PC, iOS, Mac
The Evil Within 2 October 13, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
Fallout 4 VR October 2017 PS4
Quake Champions 2017 PC
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus October 27, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC

EA

Remakes, Remasters, DLC, Etc.

Battlefield I will have new updates, new maps and an expansion in September.

New Games

Anthem 2018 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC Brand new IP!! Very exciting.
Battlefront II November 17, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
A Way Out 2018 PS4, XBone, PC
Need for Speed: Payback November 10, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
Fifa 18 September 29, 2017 Switch
Madden NFL 18 August 25, 2017 PS4, XBone
NBA Live 18 December 2017 PS4, XBone

Ubisoft

Remakes, Remasters, DLC, Etc.

Expansion for Steep  later this year

New Games

Assassin’s Creed Origins October 27, 2017 PS4, XBone, XBOX, PC
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle August 29, 2017 Switch
The Crew 2 Early 2018 PS4, XBone, PC
South Park: The Fractured But Whole October 17, 2017 PS4, XBone, PC
Skull and Bones Fall 2018 PS4, XBone, PC
Beyond Good and Evil 2 N/A PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, XBone
Far Cry 5 February 27, 2018 PS4, XBone, PC
Starlink: Battle for Atlas Fall 2018 PS4, XBone, Switch
Just Dance 2018 October 24, 2017 PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBone, Wii, Wii U, Switch
Transference Spring 2018 PS4, XBone, PC Also in VR

You can pre-order your E3 games here

Have a game you’re super looking forward to? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review

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Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been lauded as the best addition to the LoZ franchise. The stunning visuals, beautiful score, and fun challenges are enough to bring a tear to a gamer’s eye. Though it isn’t quite at the very top for me (love Wind Waker too much), it is still up there.

 

One thing that really blew me away about BotW, is how every character has their own story, their own lives. There were so many times I came across characters having problems I thought would end up being a quest, or have a way for Link to intervene. But, there wasn’t. Link can’t come along and fix a couple’s failing marriage, or a lifelong rivalry between two old men. He can’t mend the heart of a lonely Gerudo who has lost her chance at love, nor can he aid an eager history buff who can’t explore ruins because it’s too dangerous. All these characters have depth, they are rich, developed and beyond being random NPCs.

 

This map is massive. Not only is there different types of terrain, but different weather everywhere you go. The weather changes throughout the day. Most of the time it’s sunny, but you’ll also find rain, snow, and even thunderstorms. As far as traversing the land goes, horses make it much quicker. However, you are restricted to paths or flat terrain. Most people that I know who play it pretty much climb and glide everywhere they need. One thing I’m not sure whether to count as a pro or con, is that once you have a reasonable amount of shrines, the world seems much less vast. After you visit a shrine, you can warp to it, so the more shrines you have, the more warp locations. I’ll admit that I’ve had it where my stamina is juuuust about to run out and I warp to avoid death.

 

One area I felt was pretty weak in this game were the puzzles. In previous Zelda games, we’ve been accustomed to big dungeons with intricate puzzles. Whereas, in this Breath of the Wild, a handful of the shrines are fights with mini-guardians. It would have been better had they used the mini-guardians as bosses in the shrines after puzzles. Sure, there are some found through the world, like the Korok Forest, where you need to find your way, or shrine quests which sometimes involved puzzles. But, for the most part, a good deal of them were pretty disappointing. Most of them were extremely short, or very easy. A good deal of why I love the Zelda games is for the challenge the puzzles present. Redditor Mulelish did a breakdown of the shrines to see how many were blessings, fights, or puzzles.

 

Around every corner in this game is something to find. Treasure chests deep in the ocean, or buried in the sand, dirt or snow. Koroks to be found in every nook and cranny. Nods to previous games in the location names. The map is so colossal that they had room to sneak stuff and then some. One thing that is really neat to see, is that the environments are often designed to tell a story. Monsters that you see living in ruins, a well-placed skeleton pile here and there, the environment designers in this game really worked hard and it shows.

 

Boss fights are interesting in this game. There are 84 monsters that count as “mini-bosses”, (40) Hinox’, (40) Stone Talus’. and (4) Modolga. However, there are monsters that don’t count as bosses that will straight up annihilate you. Lynels are tough and can kill you with ease. If you try to run, they can teleport to you and kick your butt some more (although this is allegedly only if it is ‘stuck’). Guardians are super strong, and hard to kill. There are certain weapons that are more effective against them, but require a lot of rupees and Guardian parts to make. As far as the bosses in the divine beasts, they were all quite challenging and took me multiple attempts. However, fighting Calamity Ganon was surprisingly easy in comparison. To be fair though, if you forgo fighting the other calamity bosses, that battle is supposedly much more challenging.

 

In the world, it’s really fun that the player can choose how they like to play. A player can fight using stealth, attack from a distance, or avoid enemies entirely. You could follow all the trails, or go off-road the entire game. Link can run around in his underwear and beat up Lynels with rocks. You can choose the rudest dialogue options. Heck, you can fight Calamity Ganon right after you leave the Great Plateau (first section of the game). The game gives the player a lot of freedom in choosing how they want to play. This game doesn’t have to follow a rigid order. You can take on the divine beasts in whatever order you want. Do all of them, some of them, or none of them. You can go wherever you please, in whichever order you want to.

 

Most of my gaming gets done during nap time as, at present, I’m still doing cuddle naps with Cog. So generally I am gaming with the volume off. Now some of you might say “Blasphemy! The score and voice acting are part of the fun!”. Though that’s true, playing without the volume I noticed something pretty neat. I realized that there were visual cues for things like monsters popping up behind you. The screen would shake a little, or there would be little red ribbons indicating the Yiga clan. This got me really excited for the deaf community. There are so many games where hearing is necessary, and though not being able to listen to the game audio makes some things harder (fighting Guardians and finding Koroks), they really put in the extra thought to make it more accessible.

 

Finally, the story. Link does not start off in his cozy home as we’ve been accustomed to in many previous Zelda games. He starts off immediately roped into his adventure. The story brings so much character to Zelda. She struggles, she doubts herself, she is conflicted and unsure. The world is constantly throwing trouble at Link who is trying desperately to fulfil this destiny that he is confused about and doesn’t entirely understand. We learn more about the history and customs of the Zora. We discover the history of the Sheikah and the struggle that divided them. Zelda games at their core, are about saving Princess Zelda. But in  Breath of the Wild, in her own way, she gets to do her part to save Link.

 

Overall if I had to give it a rating, I would probably give it 8/10. Extremely enjoyable, but room for some improvements.

 

You can buy the game for Wii-U or Nintendo Switch

Family Fun Every May on Free Comic Book Day

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May is such a great month. Every year May brings beautiful flowers, some sunshine, Star Wars day, Cinco de Mayo, Mothers Day, and Free Comic Book Day (aka FCBD). Wait, what? Free comics? Yeah, that’s right, free comics!

If you’ve never heard of Free Comic Book Day, it’s an event that has been happening on the first Saturday in May since way back in 2002, and it’s been going on strong since! Now, you can’t just walk into the store and take any old thing off the shelf for free. Retailers order specific comics from their distributor, and every year there are great new comics to choose from.

They content ranges from “totally kid friendly” to “don’t let your kid anywhere near that”. The reason for this is all the participating publishers want people to get a taste of their stuff. So, you’ll get some cute and zany stuff from Boom, something risque from Zenoscope, Archie comics has something almost every year and usually, the “Big Two” have something that ties into a comic event or new movie. Most shop owners have the sense to separate the kid-friendly stuff from the other stuff.

Many shops will make a fun event out of it! Customers are often encouraged to come in costume. Some shops manage to get comic artists or writers to come in and sign some merchandise, or do some art on blank variant covers. Other shops might get local artists to sell their art to hype up the event. It’s really common for shops to offer sales during FCBD. Stores are given lollipops to hand out to the kids, and sometimes even pins, toys, prints or even small promotional posters.

Where Can I Find a Comic Shop?

on the Free Comic Book Day website, they have a store locator that helps you find participating shops. Not every comic shop participates in Free Comic Book Day, so even if you know where your local comic shop is, it’s good to check the locator to see if they will be offering them.

Are There Restrictions?

Probably. Most stores will have a limit to how many comics you’re allowed to take, some will let you take more if you are spending money. There may be per person, per group, or per family restrictions. It will vary from store to store. I’ve found that if you go in expecting two comics, you probably won’t be disappointed.

Is there a Catch?

Nope! The event is in place to encourage people to become new comic readers and to promote literacy. However, it is on a ‘while supplies last/first come first served’ basis. So unless you are there when the store opens, there might not be a lot of choices. A lot of people don’t know that comic books are still a thing, or think that they exist as graphic novels or movie adaptations of stuff that once was. FCBD there to remind people that comic books exist as a medium.

Anything Else I should Know?

The comics are free for you, but they aren’t free for the shop that gives them away. The fee that a comic shop has to pay for the free comics is pretty low, so if you really can’t afford to spend any money, but still want to read, you aren’t going to be getting the death stare (unless you are rude and/or try to take more comics than you are allowed). However, as someone who has been on the other side of the counter, I strongly encourage you to support your local shop by spending some of your money with them. Small businesses help stimulate your local economy, and could really use your money. Most important of all, be polite. The employees are probably having a hectic day, a simple “Thank you” goes a long way.

Ever been to Free Comic Book Day? Share your experience in the comments!

Interview With Up-And-Coming Comic Artist Cori Walters

Comic Artist Cori Walters Discusses Current Projects

An american punk story comic cover

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I am incredibly excited, as this is my first interview; I’m also lucky enough that it just so happens to be with a friend! Cori Walters is an amazingly talented and incredibly distinctive artist. Their first professional work as a comic artist was published in November 2016 for Wrong Way: An American Punk Story (Which you can find on Comixology) written by Martin Dunn, The story is about a guy who’s in a bit of a rut in his life, he’s a cartoonist that has some family problems and he longs for the days of his rebellious youth.

 

Prior to this Cori has been working on personal projects for a number of years. In addition to being fantastically talented, Cori is also a really nice person who advocates for social rights and equality. Personally, they’ve taught me so much about feminism, privilege, gender identities, and even my own identity, and I am still constantly learning new things from them. I truly believe they’ve helped shape me into the person I am today.

 

I’d initially found them on deviantArt through a piece of Chrono Trigger fanart about 6 or 7 years ago, began chatting over common interests, and eventually became mutuals on tumblr (which, as you may know, means that when you stick with each other for that long –through all the fandom switches, personal drama, and shit-posting– you are truly bros.) So, without further fanfare: Cori Walters.

 

Mama Michine: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me!

 

Cori Walters: Thanks for talking with me!

 


MM: So, let’s start off with talking about your work on “Wrong Way”. You met Martin at Megacon 2016, right? So how did that play out?

 

CW: I was tabling there and Martin was hosting a couple panels on how to break into comics. I make it a point to go to as many of those as I can, just to network. But it actually wasn’t until Sunday after the show that me and him got to really talk. I’d been showing my portfolio around to all the indie publishers and I’d heard his critique was really harsh, so I wanted to impress him, ha-ha. He liked my stuff so we started spitballing about what sort of role I could play at CAE Studios. I noticed he had a Rise Against tattoo on his arm so we started talking about punk music, and next thing I know he’s pitching me Wrong Way.

 

MM: That’s great! So, he started telling you about it at the convention at first? I know he also sent you a folder with a bunch of script ideas, right?

 

CW: Yeah, and after looking through it I was debating taking a comic featuring kids fighting zombies, but at the end of the day I just love having an excuse to draw punk stuff.

 

MM: Always good to have an excuse to let your punk rock on through! In the post that Martin wrote, he said that you actually had to bug him for more of the script. That’s amazing, honestly! How fast after getting started was the whole comic finished? What was the process like between start and finish?

 

CW: Well it’s actually a mini-series so we’ve got more coming down the pipe, but the first issue was wrapped up between the two of us by around September of last year? I started drawing it in July, but real life and other projects kept getting in the way for both of us, unfortunately. The process pretty much centered around Martin having a central manuscript that he wrote years ago, that he was then adapting and updating into the script as it is now. Since he’s freelancing alongside this, how it’d usually turn out is, he’d script out a few pages and then I’d draw them. I also have a day job so being able to break it up into manageable chunks worked well for me, ha-ha.

 

MM: I’ve heard that the way writers write scripts can vary in format, some write the contents and dialog of the page and leave rest of it up to the artist, while others write panel by panel with how they want everything laid out. Which method did Martin Use, and what was it like?

 

CW: Martin has a background in drawing comics and it really shows in his scripts, they’re some of the easiest to draw from that I’ve seen. A lot of the time he’ll specify the angle he wants or the expression he wants, and sometimes he’ll drop in images off google to show me how he wants something to look. Little staging things like that. I like it because it gives me the opportunity to not spend so much time puzzling out how a panel is going to be put together, and more time figuring out the kinds of minutiae that make it look good and read impactfully. More writers could definitely learn from his approach, ha-ha.

an American Punk Story comic page

MM: That’s really awesome, and totally answered my next question ha-ha. Okay! So, now I want to focus a bit more on you. Do you have a flavour of ice cream that is so good to you, that you would K.O. someone for it? What flavour?

 

CW: I really, really like Superman flavor. The kind with the primary colors all swirled together? I have no idea what they are, but I love that stuff.

 

MM: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that kind before [further research post-interview deduces that the flavour is blue moon, lemon and cherry] Back when you were working in childcare, what is the strangest or funniest thing a kid said to you?

 

CW: There was this one kid who was really into comics, so naturally he kinda gravitated to me when he realized that I would absolutely talk to him about superheroes for an hour. One day we were discussing our favorite Batman villains and he kinda pauses, squints up at me, strokes his chin, and tells me I have a chin that looks like the Joker’s. That’s the harshest, most brutal thing anyone has ever said to me and it didn’t come from my mortal enemy, it came from a 10 year old.

 

MM: That is absolutely brutal, and kind of hilarious. Your style is so unique and distinctly you, do you have any artists that you have drawn inspiration from and adapted to create your style? Who are they, and in what ways did they influence you?

 

CW: Oh wow, that’s a tough question. I draw from a lot of different sources, my art is such a mashup it’s hard to whittle it down. Purely in terms of just what I’m bringing to comics, I always try to aim for things like Osamu Tezuka’s simplification of form, Frank Quitely’s sense of expression through body language, Craig Thompson’s contemplativeness, Natsume Ono’s playful linework….Disney’s Hercules’ swirly elbows, you know. I’m a kleptomaniac of art, if someone draws something in a cool way I’ve gotta try it for myself. It always surprises me when people say my art is unique; I always feel like I’m two seconds away from having how many organs I’ve stolen discovered. Maybe that metaphor’s a bit dark…

 

MM: Well, I can tell you from an outsider’s perspective, you’ve melded it all so beautifully together that it is 100% Cori, no matter how many inspirations you’ve drawn from. Now you do most of your art digitally, right? Which is your program of choice, and why do you like working in it? Are there other programs that you use for more speciality purposes?

 

CW: Aw shucks, thank you! You’re right about the digital, though I do like to bust out my dip pens now and again. The end of last year I actually upgraded to Clip Studio and I absolutely adore it. It’s designed for comicking, and streamlines the process so much more than back when I was porting between Paint Tool SAI and Photoshop CS2 (this upgrade was a long time coming). I downloaded Frenden’s inking brushes for it and I love how uniquely suited it is to inking and just generally making black and white images in general. I still color in SAI though; I have too many custom brushes in there, ha-ha. When I’m working on my webcomic, Spectra, I usually do the actual lettering in Photoshop since Clip Studio can’t quite get the sizing right, but that’s about it.

 

MM: Do you do lettering by hand or do you have a custom font you use for it? I know Photoshop can be a bit of a pain too, when it comes to using fonts, sometimes.

 

CW: I’d love to hand letter but I can never get it to look right on a tablet, and somehow it always ends up aggravating my hand problems way worse than doing it pen on paper. No, I usually just use Blambot fonts, that guy is a saint. Photoshop’s a little tricky, but I’ve been using it for that for ten years now, it’s pretty much second nature to me now.

 

MM: So, you brought up Spectra, how many years have you been working on that now? Are there any other projects that you’re working on in addition to Spectra and Wrong Way that you can tell us about?

 

CW: It’s actually been almost exactly four years since I started Spectra. Time flies! I’m also working on a series about teenage girls piloting giant robots that’s going through some rebranding, and is pretty much shelved until I finish Wrong Way. I’m excited to get back to it though! It was originally titled Chicks Dig Giant Robots but I’m gonna be relaunching it as Youth Battle Nitro Punch here at… some point! And, that’s pretty much it for the big stuff, though I do have some mini-comics and anthology work with some other writers that will surface eventually.

 

MM: That’s a lot of stuff! Kudos! Next question. When it’s the middle of the night, and you can’t sleep, what is it that claws at your brain?

 

CW: Oh god, everything ha-ha. Mostly when I’m going to be able to finish the next set of comic pages.

 

MM: Workflow demons eh? I gotcha. What was it that first got you into reading comics, what was the first comic you ever fell in love with, and why did you love it?

 

CW: When I was in sixth grade, my best friend’s mom accidentally bought her two copies of the same issue of Shonen Jump, so she gave one to me. I liked watching the Shaman King anime whenever it came on so I was excited when it was in the magazine. I still have that issue, the papers all gray and the inks faded from how many times I’ve reread it, ha-ha. It was in the middle of the fight between Yoh and Faust XIII, and I remember being blown away by the depth of the emotions it sparked in my 12 year old brain and how good the drawings you could arrange on a page to do that could be. I’d always loved drawing and had played around with drawing longer-format comics before that, but never thought it would ever be something that could be taken seriously. Seeing that comic was a wake-up call for me; I was so excited, I was like, “I can do this! I can make this!!”

 

MM: That’s so awesome! I love when there’s just a big spark that ignites your passions. Do you have any words for other dreamers out there wanting to chase their ambitions?

 

CW: Doing what you want to do is hard, but if you’re just finding your footing don’t fixate on that. Just start doing it and developing your skills, and pretty soon you’ll find you want to spend more time on it, you want to work harder to achieve your next arbitrary goal you’ve set. Or you don’t and you’ve found yourself a really cool new downtime hobby, there are no downsides here. It kills me to see people holding themselves back by second guessing themselves. If you want to draw comics, make a webcomic and update it when you feel like it. If you wanna make music, get a SoundCloud, post whatever little music idea you have. There’s no bar you have to clear to be good enough to do something, you get good at things by doing them.

An American Punk Story comic page

Big shout out to Cori Walters for taking the time to allow me to interview them, and being a very fun person to interview!

 

You can find Cori on Twitter @CoriWalters666, or follow their Art Blog, or their Main Account on Tumblr. Read their webcomic on Smackjeeves or Taptastic or you can support them on Patreon and get exclusive content.

Liked the interview? Thought I should do something different? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!