Doctor Who and Godzilla

If you were to judge my life based on my recent posts here, it would seem like I spend all of my time reading comics, listening to podcasts, watching movies, and so on. I do still have a full-time job as a programmer, and I spend most of my time on weekdays heads-down at my computer, working hard, I promise! I just haven’t had much to say about it here recently. There have been a few things I’ve thought about writing up, but they’re such niche topics that I can’t imagine them being very interesting to anyone but me. (Of course, most of these posts probably aren’t interesting to anyone but me…) All of which is preamble to excuse writing another post about comics and movies and podcasts and stuff. (What else am I going to do with my spare time in 2021?)

After finishing Doctor Who: Flux, I had a hunger for more Doctor Who content, so I dug into my backlog of comics and audio. I listened to The Lost Stories: The Fourth Doctor Box Set, a Big Finish audio drama that I’d bought back in 2016, featuring Tom Baker’s Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. I really enjoyed it. I wrote in my Goodreads review that it was the first Tom Baker audio I’d listened to, but I was organizing my notes this morning, and realized that I’d listened to a set of novel adaptations with Baker and Lalla Ward back in 2018. My Goodreads review for that set was pretty short, but I guess I liked it.

I’ve now started the Destiny of the Doctor series, which is a series of eleven stories, featuring the first eleven Doctors, that was released for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, back in 2013. I got it as part of a Humble Bundle in 2017. I’ve only listened to the first one so far, but it was pretty good. These aren’t full-cast dramas, they’re stories read by one or two narrators.

I also started reading the Ninth Doctor comic book series from Titan. I have the first two volumes of that from a Humble Bundle from 2018. It’s a pretty good series, featuring the Doctor, Rose, and Captain Jack.

I have a good backlog of other comics and audio dramas from those Humble Bundles, but of course every time I start reading/listening to this stuff, I start poking around for more stuff that I don’t own yet. I’d like to pick up the rest of that Ninth Doctor comic series, for instance. And more of the Tom Baker audios. And the new Ninth Doctor audios. And so on.

On the related subject of consuming DRM-free comics and audio from old Humble Bundles, I should mention that I’ve been using Panels for the comics, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I had some trouble with it repeatedly crashing on me yesterday, but I updated it to the latest version, and that’s been stable. So I guess there was a bug that got fixed. I’ll probably commit to a yearly subscription on that at some point. And on the audiobook front, I’ve been sticking with the Apple Books app to listen to stuff, using Audiobook Builder to put MP3s together into single audiobook files. (I bought that back in February.) I also recently downloaded BookPlayer to my iPhone, to try out. BookPlayer is an open source player for DRM-free audiobooks. It looks promising, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. Since it seems like it can pull stuff from OneDrive directly, I could simplify my workflow a bit by using it rather than Books.

My other recent pop culture obsession has been Godzilla. I’m working my way through the Criterion box set that I bought earlier this year. I’ve watched through to Son of Godzilla. Destroy All Monsters is next! For most of these movies, it’s the first time I’ve seen the original Japanese version. The last time I’ve seen most of these was probably back when I was a kid, on TV, as a Saturday afternoon movie. And that would have been the chopped up, dubbed, American version, obviously. For something like Son of Godzilla, it’s a goofy movie either way, so watching the uncut original, in Japanese with subtitles, doesn’t turn it into Citizen Kane, but it’s a more interesting experience to watch it that way, I think. I’ve been logging them all on Letterboxd, which has some pretty fun reviews for some of these movies.

Oh, and thinking about Doctor Who and Godzilla made me wonder if there’s ever been any kind of crossover between the two. There’s fan fiction of course, but the closest I could come to a “real” crossover is the Dr. Who character from the Japanese King Kong show and King Kong Escapes movie. Godzilla has of course met King Kong, so that puts Godzilla just one degree of separation from a character named Dr. Who, even if that character isn’t exactly a time lord.

Thanksgiving Eve

I had some PTO days to use up this year, so I decided to take this entire week off. Originally, I had some semi-ambitious half-formed plans about maybe going in to NYC and visiting some museums again, and maybe even staying overnight. But I got a bit sick a couple of weeks ago, and, while I’m mostly over that, I’m still not keen to go out in the cold, get on a train, and deal with NYC, crowds, and so on. So I’ve largely been sitting in my armchair reading comics, or sitting on the couch watching TV.

My Thanksgiving plans are, shall we say, minimal. I have no plans to go out, and I haven’t bought any traditional Thanksgiving foods. So maybe I’ll have a turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch, and a frozen turkey burger for dinner, and that’s about as close to honoring Thanksgiving as I’ll get.

Looking at some posts from previous Thanksgivings, I guess things could be worse. 2018 was a particularly bad year, with the snowstorm and the Christmas music debacle. Somerville hasn’t played Christmas music on Main St. in a few years, and hopefully they won’t start it up again this year. But there was one thing this year, from last weekend: some kind of issue with the sanitary line out of my apartment building that caused the building to have a bit of a stink going for a few days. (That actually almost moved me to go into NYC for a day or two, but they got it fixed before things got too bad.)

And for anyone who’s still reading after all that, here are some notes on the comics I’m reading this week, and the TV I’m watching.

I’ve read through a couple of B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth omnibus volumes. I have all five, in hardcover. I bought them as they were coming out, in 2018 and 2019. I’d read most of the previous BPRD run in single issues. The end of that run and the start of Hell on Earth happened right when I’d stopped buying monthly books. So picking up the hardcovers for Hell on Earth seemed like a good idea. I don’t know if it really was though. Dark Horse has a 50% off sale going on right now for digital stuff, so if I’d waited and just bought the digital versions, I could have gotten all five for just over $30, and I wouldn’t have to worry about what to do with these big hardcovers once I’m done reading them.

And I did wind up spending some money on Hellboy-related stuff from that sale yesterday, including all of the Lobster Johnson volumes, and all of the Witchfinder volumes that I didn’t already have.

I’m mostly enjoying Hell on Earth, even though I’m not generally a big fan of post-apocalypse fiction. I should probably take a break from it, and read something different today, but I think I’m just going to go ahead and jump into the next volume. If I’m not enjoying it, then I’ll switch to something different.

For my TV watching, I finished season two of Locke & Key on Netflix. It’s a pretty good show. I’ve been listening to the Locke & Key: Unlocked podcast after watching each episode and that’s been fun. I’ve mentioned this before, but I do really like the idea of companion podcasts for TV shows. They can sometimes be too silly, or too fawning, but if you get the right mix of elements, they can be really good.

I’ve now started watching season four of The Expanse on Amazon. Season six is coming out soon, and I actually didn’t realize that I hadn’t even watched season four yet. I knew I hadn’t watched season five, but I thought I was only one season behind, not two. Either way, it’s been a good season so far. And on the podcast front, I’ve started downloading some season four episodes of The Churn podcast, which was originally the official SyFy channel podcast for The Expanse, back when it was on SyFy. Even though the show has moved to Amazon, I guess the podcast is still being done by SyFy, though I’m not completely sure about that. I’m also curious about the Ty & That Guy podcast, which is hosted by Ty Franck and Wes Chatham. That’s more of a rewatch podcast, I guess. They’ve only just gotten through season three. If they start season four soon, that might work out well for me.

I’ve been keeping current with Doctor Who: Flux, watching the episodes as they’re released. I’m getting them through Apple, so I can’t watch them until the day after they’re released, but that’s good enough for me. I have mixed feelings about this season, but hey… it’s Doctor Who! I haven’t had much luck in finding a good Doctor Who podcast. There are a lot of them! I did find one I liked a while back, but it seemed to be dead the last time I checked. Maybe I’ll try the Radio Times one.

And I will likely watch the first episode of the new Hawkeye series on Disney+ today. It seems to be loosely based on Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run, which is very good. I read the first two volumes of it some time ago, and just bought volumes 3 and 4 from Comixology, where they’re currently on sale for $1.99 each.

I’ve found that my stay-at-home vacation routine is basically to read comics until my eyes are too tired for that, then watch TV until my eyes are too tired for that, then listen to podcasts until it’s time for bed. I can’t say that I’m proud of that, but it is what it is, and it’s about all I feel up to doing right now.

So I guess that’s about it for this low-stakes blog post. Honestly, I was mostly writing this because it’s too cold out to go for a walk and I don’t feel like doing any indoor exercise right now, and I’m not really ready to dig into any reading material just yet. I’m still waking up.

Reading and organizing comics

I haven’t written a blog post in a while, I see. There are a bunch of things I could blog about, some of which might be useful or interesting. But I’ve spend a bunch of time this weekend fiddling with comic book related stuff, so you’re going to get a post about comic books, and organizing lists of comics, and ComiXology, and stuff like that.

I keep a list in Evernote of all of the physical single-issue comics I’ve bought and read, since I jumped back into buying single-issue books in 2016. I pretty much stopped buying new books in 2020. I looked at that list about a month back, and realized that I’d bought less than a dozen (physical) comics this year. And I’d read only a few. I read a few more right around Halloween, since I was in the mood to read some spooky stuff, and I had a few old Halloween-related comics in my to-read pile. Today, I went through the list and decided to buy a few more single issues on eBay to complete a couple of runs. I bought the eighth issue of Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, a couple of issues of Wynd, a couple of issues of Usagi Yojimbo, and a couple of issues of Groo Meets Tarzan. The last issue of Groo Meets Tarzan comes out this week, so I’m going to try to pick that up at my local comic shop, and then that’ll probably be the last book I buy this year. Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking that I should sit down one of these days and polish off the last of the DC books I’d bought before stopping. I have a handful of Detective issues, all twelve issues of Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes run, and some other stuff.

I also recently took a look at my Goodreads history to see what collections (physical and digital) that I’ve read this year. I finished reading Brian K. Vaughn’s Ex Machina series (digital collections from ComiXology). I read a few volumes of Invincible (ComiXology again). I read most of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run (physical TPBs), and will probably finish that by the end of the year. I bought and read most of the Hilda books after watching the Netflix show. (Those aren’t available digitally, so I bought the TPBs. They’re oversized, so I’m probably better off with the physical format for those.) And some other random stuff.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten interested in reading some stuff from old Humble Bundles again, so I’ve read a few old Doctor Who and Star Wars volumes, in CBZ format, on my iPad. This lead me into reevaluating my choice of reader apps for DRM-free comics. For the last year or so, I’ve been using iComics, which is pretty good. (I blogged about it just about a year ago.) I decided to play with Panels this weekend and see if it was any better. The free version of Panels isn’t great, but if you pay for the premium version ($1.50/month or $11.50/year), it’s a little better than iComics and maybe even better than my old favorite, Comic Zeal (which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since 2016, and doesn’t really work anymore). I’m not keen on paying a subscription fee for a comics reader, but I might do it. (I’m on a one-week free trial right now.) And I guess that providing the developer with a steady income flow might keep that “no updates since 2016” problem from happening…

Back on the ComiXology side of things, I had an issue with the app on my iPad yesterday that caused me to delete it and reinstall it. That got me looking at my library of books there. I currently have over 1000 books in my library. ComiXology has never really had great tools for managing a large library. The tools have gotten a little better over the years, but still aren’t that great. But I spent some time in the app yesterday going through my old books, and marking a bunch as “read,” cross-referencing them against my read/unread lists in Evernote. Back when ComiXology started, they didn’t really have a good system for marking books as read. When you’d read an issue, the app would remember that, but it didn’t sync that status back up to the server, so you’d lose it any time you had to reinstall the app or move to a new iPad. At some point, they fixed that, and the read/unread status is stored in the cloud, and is even something you can filter on. So I’d like to get to the point where I can look at my list of unread books, and it’ll actually show me only books I haven’t read yet. My official unread list is currently a little over 600 books. There are still a bunch of books in there that I’ve actually read, but just haven’t marked as such, so I still have some cleanup to do.

The planned changes to ComiXology, that were announced back in September, are apparently still on, but little has been said about them lately. You can still buy comics from comixology.com and manage your library from there. I’m hoping that all the work I just did to try to update the read/unread status on my books doesn’t get lost in the transition. (Though it would be pretty typical and unsurprising if that did happen.)

At the beginning of the year, I briefly considered subscribing to ComiXology Unlimited, but couldn’t quite talk myself into it, mostly due to the large library of purchased comics that I still haven’t read. But now I’m thinking about it again. There are a few things I want to read that I haven’t bought yet, and that are available on ComiXology Unlimited. So maybe I should just go ahead with that. I have to keep reminding myself how much of a backlog I have…

I’m also considering buying a couple more Humble Bundles. There’s a Dynamite one running right now that has some books in it that I’d like to read, and some that reprint stuff that I read long ago, but would like to reread, like Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar. (I need to remind myself that I bought two Dynamite bundles in 2014, and haven’t read everything from those bundles yet.) And Dark Horse has a Lone Wolf and Cub bundle. I read a bunch of Lone Wolf and Cub years ago, when First Comics was publishing it back in the 80s. But I don’t have those issues anymore, and First didn’t complete the series. Again though, I need to remind myself that I have a manga bundle from 2018 that I haven’t read yet. and a bunch of volumes of Blade of the Immortal that I haven’t read. And a number of other random manga volumes that are collecting dust on my shelves… But at least the Humble bundles support charity, and they’re DRM-free downloads, so they don’t take up space in my apartment, and I won’t ever lose access to them (assuming I don’t lose my hard drive and all my backups).

One of the other good things about having switched largely to digital comics is that I don’t have to bag and board them, so the current bag and board shortage really doesn’t affect me. Nor does the recent ransomware attack on Diamond.

I’ve taken Thanksgiving week off, to use up some of my outstanding vacation days, and maybe I’ll read a bunch of comics over that week. I had been thinking about a semi-ambitious multi-day NYC vacation for at least part of that week, but I’m rethinking that after being sick most of this week. I’m pretty sure I got sick after going out to eat last Sunday. It was the first time since the pandemic started that I’d risked eating indoors at a restaurant. I can’t say for sure that the restaurant visit was where I got sick, but there’s a pretty good chance that it was. And I did get sick after NYCC, as I mentioned in my last post. So maybe a multi-day NYC trip is a bit too ambitious for me right now. Maybe a one-day trip on Monday of that week? Then I’ll have the rest of the week to recover if I get sick? I don’t think any of my illnesses this year have been COVID, but they sure have been inconvenient and annoying.

Well, there you go, a long and rambling post about comics. I guess that was a good way for me to get some of this stuff out of my head on a Sunday evening so I can concentrate on work tomorrow and have a good work week, prior to my vacation next week.

Last day of vacation

Today is the last day of my planned NYCC vacation. Several months ago, I put in a PTO request for Thursday and Friday of last week and Monday (today) of this week, thinking that maybe I’d try for a “normal” NYCC vacation: going into NYC for all four days of the con, maybe staying at a hotel, and using today to get my laundry done and rest. In reality, I went to the con on Thursday, came back home that evening, then spent Friday through Sunday mostly sitting on my couch, watching con videos, watching random stuff on TV, and not much else. I was low-level sick on Friday and Saturday, and started feeling better yesterday. I feel mostly “back to normal” today, and should be fine for work tomorrow.

I was surprised yesterday to realize that I was thinking of this as a “successful” vacation. I didn’t really do much, but at least I got into NYC for a day, and I got the chance to avoid thinking (much) about work for several days and relax. And, while I was a bit sick, it wasn’t that bad. I don’t know if this is a sign of my admirable zen-like equanimity, or if my soul has been crushed by everything that’s happened over the last few years, so just “going into NYC for a day and not getting COVID” counts as success.

Getting back to the MacBook issue that I mentioned in my post from Saturday: I thought I’d fixed it, since it didn’t recur at all yesterday. But the MacBook crashed again this morning, while I was watching an NYCC video, so I guess I didn’t really fix it. My current theory is that it’s got something to do with the battery misbehaving and/or the CPU overheating. It seems to happen only when I’m watching video, with the MacBook unplugged from A/C power, and only when I’ve been using it for awhile. I got a full Carbon Copy Cloner backup done on Saturday, and it didn’t crash, and of course I had it plugged in to A/C power for that. And it hasn’t crashed at any point when all I’ve been doing is browsing the web or working in Evernote or whatever. It’s always when I’m watching video (or have recently been watching video).

So I don’t really know what to do about it. I could bring it into the Apple Store for service, but it’s out of warranty. so it’ll cost me some money, and they might not even find and fix the problem. I could assume it’s software-related, and do a full wipe & re-install of the OS, but that’s a lot of work, and might also be pointless. I could trade it in for a new MacBook, but it’s only three years old, and I don’t really want to buy a new MacBook right now.

I guess I’ll live with it for now, and see if it gets better or worse. Maybe the macOS Monterey upgrade will fix it? (Or maybe Monterey will be a good excuse to get a fancy new M1 MacBook Air, as some features of Monterey will only work on M1 Macs.)

I’ve also (reluctantly) considered switching from Firefox to Safari on the Mac. Safari is supposed to be much better at managing CPU usage and battery than Firefox, so maybe just switching would solve the problem. But, since I use both Mac and PC, that means dealing with different browsers on the two platforms, which will create extra work and frustration for me. Well, I’m going to try to postpone any decisions on that for now.

Getting back to NYCC and comics: I’ve now watched a bunch of the panels from the con. Some were live, and some were Zoom-style panels. Some were really good, but a few had enough technical issues that I gave up on them. I enjoyed the spotlight panels for William Shatner, George Takei, Adam Savage, and David Harbour. I enjoyed the Ghostbusters and Animaniacs panels.

I would like to have watched more panels that were specifically about comic books and comics creators, but honestly there weren’t that many that I was that interested in. There were a couple that I started watching, but gave up on, due to sound issues and/or the fact that they just weren’t that interesting to me. I did enjoy the Brian K. Vaughn panel (though I still haven’t watched the whole video for that, since my laptop crashed while I was watching it this morning).

For TV-related panels: I still want to watch the Expanse panel, and the two Star Trek panels (Discovery and Prodigy).

It’s fairly typical for me to spend a bunch of money at a con, buying back issues, graphic novels, toys, and other stuff. At the con itself this year, I only bought one book (Love and Capes: The Family Way, by Thom Zahler). But, back at home, sitting on the couch, I wound up ordering a few other items, prompted mostly by stuff that got mentioned on panels. During the David Harbour panel, I remembered that I’d never seen his Hellboy movie, and I noticed the digital version was on sale at Amazon for $6, so I bought (and watched) that. (It’s not a great movie, but I guess it was worth the $6.) And during the Ghostbusters panel, it occurred to me that I haven’t seem either of the original Ghostbusters movies in a long time, and that I could buy both movies on Blu-ray from Amazon for $13. So I did that. And something on some panel or another got me thinking about Fables, and led me to buy Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland from Comixology, which was on sale for 50% off, and was (probably) the only major Fables book I didn’t already own (physically or digitally). So, overall, I didn’t blow a lot of money, or bring home a lot of physical stuff to clutter up my apartment, so that’s a win. (But I feel a little guilty that most of my con-related spending was through Amazon, and didn’t really do much to support the comics creators who showed up for NYCC.)

It’s now past noon, and my last vacation day is quickly passing by. I had a few more things to blog about, but I’ll stop here. I should probably try to eat something interesting and different for lunch today, so it feels more like a vacation day, but I’m probably just going to make a turkey sandwich.

NYCC and MacBook stuff

So I went to NYCC on Thursday, as planned, and it wasn’t too bad. The vaccine check-in was smooth and quick. Getting in to the con itself took a little while, but not too long. I got there around 10:30, so the initial crush of people trying to get in at 10 (assuming there was one) had subsided. It still took a while to get in, due to the usual metal detector, bag search, empty your pockets routine. (I kind of wish they could have skipped that this year, but I guess that kind of thing isn’t going away any time soon.)

I honestly didn’t stay too long, just a few hours. I bought a book from Thom Zahler in artist’s alley, but that’s all I bought. I spent a good bit of time wandering the show floor and browsing. I didn’t make it to any panels. I had intended to go to the Sandman Audible panel. I watched that yesterday, at home, and I don’t feel too bad about missing it. It was a good panel, but it was just a typical COVID-era Zoom panel. And I think it was pre-recorded, so the “live” panel at Javits was apparently just a showing of the Zoom call on a big screen.

I had also thought about going to the William Shatner spotlight. That actually was a live event, with Shatner doing his usual thing, talking about his recent projects and telling some stories. I watched that this morning. That would have been fun to go to, but I’ve seen Shatner live before, so I don’t terribly regret skipping this one either. I’ll probably watch some more of the panels today and tomorrow, from the safety of my own couch.

I started feeling a little sick yesterday, and I’m still feeling it a bit today. Hopefully, this is just my usual post-con malaise, and not COVID or anything serious. I’m fully vaccinated for COVID, of course, and I’ve also had my flu shot this year, so this is probably just the typical “con crud.”

While I was writing this post, my MacBook crashed. It’s been doing that a lot lately over the last few days. I initially thought it might be an issue with the NYCC video player, since it seemed to be happening most when I was watching NYCC videos. Then I thought maybe it was a Firefox issue, since it was only happening when I had Firefox open. (But, honestly, 90% of my MacBook usage is just doing stuff in Firefox.) Anyway, I’ve now run macOS diagnostics, Disk Utility, and Onyx. None of them found any issues. And I’m almost done writing this blog post, and the MacBook hasn’t crashed, so maybe that’s a good sign. I should probably hook up an external drive and run a full Carbon Copy Cloner backup, just in case. (And if it does that without crashing, that’s another good sign…)

NYCC tomorrow

I guess I’m going to NYCC tomorrow. I got tickets for Thursday and Sunday back in July. Since then, I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I should go. As of right now, I’m planning on getting on a train tomorrow and giving it a try.

I’ve got the CLEAR app set up with my vaccine info. The procedure for this year is that you first need to check in at a site across from Javits and verify your vaccine status, and get a wristband. Then, you have to get in line to get into Javits. So this could be a pain, depending on how long the lines are.

I’m honestly not that excited about anything at the con. There are two panels I’d like to see. The first is on the new Sandman audio adaptation from Audible. The second is the William Shatner spotlight panel. The Shatner panel is at 6:45 PM though, and I’m not sure I’ll want to stay that late. But that’s it for Thursday. And I could watch those from home, if I wanted. There are a few virtual panels I’m interested in too, but those I can only watch from home. (Well, I guess I could watch them on my phone at Javits, but I doubt the wifi is good enough for that.)

As for Sunday, I might go back, but I’m not going to think about that too much until I see what it’s like tomorrow.

I really do feel like I need these few days off, to de-stress a bit. It’s been a long pandemic, and I haven’t really taken much time off. But right now, I’m feeling a bit like the stress of dealing with NJ Transit, and the lines at Javits, and so on, is more stressful than just staying home. Hopefully, once I’m on my way, I can get into a groove and enjoy myself.

Batman Day

Happy Batman Day, I guess. It doesn’t seem like there’s really that much going on for it this year.
I’m kind of interested in the Batman: The Audio Adventures thing, but I’m not going to sign up for HBO Max just to listen to it. Kind of weird that they’re putting out a podcast/audiobook thing through HBO Max. Do they have their own iPhone app for audio content or something? I don’t know…

Anyway, that reminded me that I still haven’t listened to Wolverine: The Long Night, Marvel’s scripted podcast, which has been on my phone since it came out in 2018. (And apparently it has a second season which came out in 2019.)

Along those lines, I started listening to Bubble, Maximum Fun’s scripted podcast, earlier this week. That has also been on my phone since it came out in 2018. I guess “scripted podcasts” were a big thing that year. I took a sick day on Monday, and didn’t have enough energy to do much else, so lying on the couch listening to a funny story seemed like a good idea. I listened to six of the eight episodes. It’s pretty good. I’ll probably finish it today or tomorrow. A graphic novel adaptation of it just came out. I’m interested in that, but not enough to buy a copy (just yet). I have way too much other stuff to read.

And in the same vein, Act II of Audible’s Sandman adaptation just came out. I bought the first part on MP3 CD in 2020, but haven’t listened to it yet. That first part is now free via Audible (no subscription required) until October 22.

So lots of crossover between comics and audiobooks (or audio dramas, or scripted podcasts, or whatever). This all reminds me of the old Batman book and record set I had when I was a kid. Or the issue of Nexus that came with a flexi-disc. Anyway, I need to listen to more of this stuff.

Hurricane Ida, and Labor Day weekend stuff

It’s been a rough week here in Somerset County. Hurricane Ida hit us pretty hard. A house exploded just a few blocks from here, and a building collapsed right here on Main St. I’m fine. My apartment building is fine. (I suspect we had some flooding in the basement, based on the smell coming from down there, but that’s the landlord’s problem.) Peters Brook overflowed, so that caused a bunch of damage to homes near it. I walk along the Peters Brook Greenway quite often; I walked along it yesterday, and saw a lot of downed trees and other damage.

It’s Labor Day weekend. In a “normal” year, I might go into NYC today, but the Raritan Valley line is still shut down due to the storm. And, even if it was running, the Delta variant has dimmed my enthusiasm for NYC trips this summer. So I guess I’ll be spending the day relaxing at home. I’d like to go out and see Shang-Chi, but, again, my enthusiasm for sitting in an enclosed space for two hours with a bunch of strangers ain’t what it used to be.

The Tour of Somerville, which is usually held on Memorial Day, was moved to Labor Day this year due to the pandemic. I guess the original thought was that the pandemic would be over by Labor Day. Of course, that’s not the case. It might actually have been safer on Memorial Day. Despite the Delta variant, and the flood damage, they’re still carrying on with the race tomorrow. I’m not sure how great an idea that is, but there’s not much I can do about it. I’ll likely hole up in my apartment all day and watch from my window. I wonder what the crowd will be like this year. It’s hard to imagine it being anywhere near what it usually is, but it could still be pretty big.

On an unrelated note, I got an email recently detailing some changes coming to ComiXology. In a nutshell, it sounds like they’re basically going to be shutting down the ComiXology web store and integrating it into the regular Amazon site. That makes sense, and I’m surprised that it took them so long to get around to doing it. Amazon bought them in 2014, but they’ve continued running their own site, separate from Amazon. I merged my old ComiXology account with my Amazon account a long time ago, whenever they first enabled that, but it’s still been possible for people to use a separate ComiXology login. I think that’s going to stop being an option, at least if you want to purchase new books. There’s some coverage of this announcement at The Beat and Bleeding Cool. Also, there’s some discussion on reddit, including responses from official ComiXology support.

I may be spending some money at ComiXology this weekend. There’s a big DC Labor Day sale going on, with a bunch of graphic novels at $2.99. That includes all of the Sandman collections, which I’ve been thinking about buying. I’ve read the whole series, of course, but I don’t have all the original issues anymore, and I’ve been thinking about re-reading the series. (Oh, and the first part of the Sandman Audible adaptation is still free, for a while longer. The second part is coming out later this month. I bought the first part on MP3 CD some time ago, but I snagged the free Audible version too, since it’s convenient to have a copy in my Audible library.)

And as long as I’m talking about Neil Gaiman, I might as well mention that I started reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane yesterday. It’s good! I guess I’ll keep reading that today, as there doesn’t seem to be much else to do.

random comic book stuff

I didn’t manage to clear out my brain in yesterday’s post, so here’s another one, this time with some random comic book stuff that I found interesting.

First: On a number of occasions, I’ve regretted selling my copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, years ago, for a relatively paltry sum of around $100. At the time, I thought TMNT had peaked. But no. Here’s one that just sold for more that $10,000. Sigh. I ordered my copy direct from Eastman and Laird, for the original cover price of $1.50, plus maybe $1 for shipping, back when it first came out. I was likely one of the very first people to own a copy.

Second: There have been some interesting developments recently in the way that some comic book creators are choosing to publish their work, and a lot of talk about how Marvel and DC compensate creators.

Here’s a very good article from The Guardian about the backlash over the way creators are compensated by Marvel and DC when their characters are used in movies and TV. This is mostly stuff that I already knew, but it’s surprising to see this kind of depth in a general newspaper article.

A number of creators are leaving Marvel and DC and doing creator-owned work elsewhere. Scott Snyder is doing some stuff for ComiXology Originals. James Tynion IV, and a number of other creators, are going to publish some work via Substack. (Snyder is involved too, but rather than comics, he’s going to run some kind of writing workshop through Substack.) The usual route for creator-owned work over the last few years has been to go through Image, or maybe Boom or IDW. But it seems like more people are trying other routes now.

I have to keep reminding myself that I already have too many comics to read, so none of this matters to me. I’ve been tempted to sign up for ComiXology Unlimited on a number of occasions over the last year or two, but I keep putting it off. I really need to work through at least some of my backlog before I consider anything like that.

NYCC, COVID-19, and so on

It’s been about two weeks since I last posted anything here, and there’s a bit of a backlog building up in my head, so this post may cover a few subjects. (Or it might not, if I get tired or pulled away. Who knows…)

On the COVID-19 front, things are getting a little less optimistic since I bought my NYCC tickets a month ago. I’m starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t have gone ahead with that. The big auto show at Javits was canceled. NYC has issued a vaccine mandate for certain venues and activities, so that might apply to NYCC, though the specifics on it aren’t out yet. NYCC hasn’t officially updated their guidelines to reflect a vaccine mandate, though they did post an update on Twitter about it. So I guess I’ll just wait and see on that for now. I’d be more comfortable going if there’s a vaccine mandate, of course, but the idea that we need a vaccine mandate is kind of depressing.

Meanwhile, the “return to office” date for my company just got pushed back from September to October. It’s kind of funny how many times it’s been pushed back now. I just went through my notes on that, and I think we’ve had eleven different RTO dates, starting with April 3, 2020. It’s hard to even imagine back to when that seemed reasonable.

It’s pretty frustrating to see how hard it’s been for us to make progress on COVID-19. We should be doing so much better than we’re doing. Well, I had a bunch of other stuff to cover, but I need to wrap this up, so I guess this will just be a short note about COVID-19 and NYCC.