Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mid Con Comic Show 2014 -- Initial Post-Con Reaction

I wrote earlier about the Mid Con Comic Show that debuted this weekend in Iowa City (here and here). A little over 250 people arrived for this local con, including me, Husband Mark, our youngest son, and one of his friends. I spent a little more than Mark would have preferred, but the boys had a good time scurrying around, looking at old comics, and checking out the various cosplayers. Unfortunately, there were some attendance issues at many of panels -- but that is something that can be remedied for next September's Mid Con!

I volunteered to lead a panel titled "Archie's Dead and Other News from Riverdale." I've been equally excited about and dreading the actual panel, but spent a lot of time developing a discussion plan, drafting a PowerPoint, rehearsing, and editing. That's seemed to work well for me! I ended up getting a lot of positive feedback from pretty much everyone who attended and those same folks passed on the good word to the con's organizer. I may post the content of the panel on the blog later, but not today.

I was volunteering today at the con and decided to commission a drawing of what I like to call "Pughead" from artist Mike Norton on my convention t-shirt:

While chatting with him, I realized that he created the "Zoo-Pendous Variant Cover" of ARCHIE #659, which just came out this past week. Such a great artist!

There was a lot of planning and work that went into Mid Con and it shows! I want to thank Noel Burns, Mitch Thompson, Nick Maida, Ike Lewis, Aaron Gillespie, Ryan Smith-Burns, and a whole host of others for doing tons of work over the past several months to pull this together. I want to thank all of the artists and writers who came to the show to teach their craft. And I'd like to thank cosplayers Alexa Heart and Mimiru Riley (as well as a host of other incredible cosplayers!) for putting themselves out there and showcasing their talent and imagination. I'd like to thank Mike Norton again for "Pughead." And I'd like to thank D'Angelo and Diego for (im)patiently sitting through my panel.

Now I think it's time to rest!

Monkey Madness Comes to Riverdale in ARCHIE #659!

I just got finished reading one of the wildest issues of ARCHIE in quite some time! ARCHIE #659 is a crazy issue. It's premise is simple. Salem casts a spell on a lion with the intent of transforming him into a man. It was poker night and the lion needed some camouflage! Unfortunately, the spell ran wide and the five Riverdale Gang got caught up, instantly transforming them into various wild animals!

But that's not all! Anytime any of the animals get near any people, those bystanders get magically transformed into animals also! It's like an animistic version of "28 Days Later" -- except with less blood, gore, or death!

What follows is 20 pages of humorous chaos -- Archie Comics at its best. It doesn't waste any time laying the foundations for this tale. Salem casts a spell on page two. Animals run amok beginning on page four. Sabrina fixes things on the last page. Perfection!

Here are some of my favorites:

Jughead scrounging for food at the mall and creating a stampede!

Mr. Weatherbee as a hippo throwing a tantrum!

Sabrina finally grasping a concept that I'd realized years ago!

This issue was so much fun. You really need to go out and get it!

"Walk on the Wild Side!" is written by Alex Segura, penciled by Pat & Tim Kennedy, inked by Rick Koslowski, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mama June & Sugar Bear from "Here Come Honey Boo Boo" Have Separated!! // Updated on 09/20/14: More Details Emerge Surrounding the Break-Up

(Originally written on 09/19/14): I was heartbroken when I heard this bit of news coming from Mama June Shannon via TLC earlier today:
Sugar Bear and I have decided to take some time apart to figure out some things in our relationship. We are taking things day by day, but regardless of what happens, the girls will always be our number one priority. We want to thank y'all for your support.
Mama June and Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson have been together for roughly a decade. They aren't legally married, but the two celebrated their relationship last year with a commitment ceremony.

Hopefully the two will work things out soon. This is one "Hollywood" couple that I don't want to see break up!

Updated on 09/20/14: TMZ revealed yesterday that Mama June keeps finding Sugar Bear trolling for dates off online dating sites. They also reported that Mama June plans to move from the family home along with the kids once the current filming season is completed.

TMZ subsequently reported earlier today that TLC will not be firing Sugar Bear from "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," but they also won't pretend like the break-up hasn't happened. Apparently, they're actually happy about the separation because it has the potential to spice up the storylines on the show -- if it doesn't cause the show to implode first!:
Sources close to the show tell TMZ ... they have made a decision -- Sugar Bear is the father of the show's star, and the story line would be "ridiculously incomplete" without including him.  The separation itself will become a significant part of the show.

Producers are not looking to exploit the split, and haven't yet decided how to cover it, but one source was candid, "To tell the truth it's good for the show.  It had hit a bit of a lull and now there are tons of story lines ... dating, single parenting, breakups."
It seems like TLC is worried that "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" is destined to fall apart now similar to "Jon & Kate Plus 8," which fell apart following a similar adultery scenario.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reminder: Mid Con Comic Show This Weekend! // Updated to Include Mid Con's Weekend Schedule!

I wrote last month about the Mid Con Comic Show. This is a brand new comic book convention that debuts later today and will continue all weekend (September 19-21, 2014) at the Clarion Highlander Hotel & Conference Center (2525 N. Dodge Street) here in Iowa City!

You can purchase tickets at the door. Here are the prices: It's $35 for a three-day weekend pass. It's $10 for a one-day pass on Friday or Sunday. And it's $25 for a one-day pass on Saturday.

Here is a rough schedule of events (not including the roughly 26 panels spaced out throughout the weekend):
Dealers Room/ Artist Alley Hours
Friday 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Saturday 10:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday 10:00am - 3:00pm

Event Times
Comic School - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
DC/Marvel Mash-up - 8:00pm - 9:00pm
DC/Marvel Mash-up Meet and Greet - 9:00pm - 10:00pm
Game Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am
Comic Creation Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am

Blood Drive 9:00am - 12:00pm
Cosplay Pre-Judging/ Rehersal 4:00pm - 7:30pm
Cosplay - 8:00pm - 9:30pm or done
Game Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am
Comic Creation Room - 8:00pm - 8:00am

Art Auction Display - 10:30am - 11:30am
Art Auction - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

Registration by the Day
Friday 2:00pm - 8:00pm
Saturday 8:00am - 7:00pm
Sunday 8:00am - 12:00pm
There will be a variety of comic book professionals, as well as big-name cosplayers, at Mid Con.

 I don't have the list of panels, though I know the guys from SuperHero Society podcast will be critiquing/panning the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie sometime tomorrow. Also, I have a panel on Archie Comics scheduled for tomorrow at noon. I've got my PowerPoint all made up and, assuming that I don't get all nervous, it should be a pretty fun panel & discussion!

There is also a Comic School for non-adults starting at 4:00 PM today. It will walk participants through the steps of creating a comic book from idea to print.

Hopefully I'll pick up a complete list of events later this afternoon. I'll share those here later tonight.

Hope to see you all at Mid Con this weekend!

Update: I just got back from watching a Marvel/DC Mash-Up Improv event at Mid Con. The weekend schedule has been announced. Check out the options. As you can see, I'll be doing my "Archie's Dead!" panel starting at noon tomorrow. But there are lots of other cool events going on this weekend. 

Check it out (click on graph for a better look!):

I hope to see you at Mid Con Comic Show tomorrow!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Iowa City School Board Member Arrested & Charged with Domestic Abuse // Updated on 09/18/14: Charges Have Been Dropped // Questions Have Not Been Answered

Originally written on 09/07/14: Iowa City School Board member Tuyet Dorau was arrested early this morning and accused of domestic violence. Coralville Police were called to Dorau's home at 1:20 AM this morning to investigate a domestic dispute.

According to the victim and a witness, there had been an argument in the home. It has been alleged that Dorau escalated the argument by striking him with a clothes hanger and kicking him in the stomach when he tried holding her down in order to get her to stop striking him with the clothes hanger. Coralville Police report that the victim had scratches and redness on his abdomen.

Dorau has been charged with one court of domestic assault without intent to cause injury, which is a serious misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. She was booked at the Johnson County Jail and later released at 10:37 AM today after posting a $1,000 cash bond.

The victim in this case has requested a no-contact order.

Updated on 09/18/14: It was announced yesterday that domestic abuse charges have been dropped against Iowa City School Board member Tuyet Dorau. Even though the victim had initially requested a no-contact order, it was subsequently dropped the next day. It is unclear why charges were dropped other than the victim asked for them to dropped.

Subsequent news articles repeat that she was alleged to have struck her victim with a clothes hanger, physically attacked him, and kicked him in the abdomen. No additional information about the domestic fight have been released and Dorau has been silent, despite promising to issue a formal statement this week.

I wouldn't normally care this much except that she is one of our elected officials.

"Archie: Riverdale Rescue": Clay Walker! // Update on 09/18/14: Where's Clay??

(Originally written on 06/14/14): I began writing about the "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" iOS gaming app back in October 2013. Since then, the game has expanded to PC users. It's an oddly addictive game where you are tasked with the improvement and beautification of Riverdale USA using a variety of recognizable characters, such as Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. A big part of the game also involves building emotional bonds between the various characters, leading to romantic couples, BFFs, and overall friends. I thought it would be fun to discuss aspects of the game that I find exciting, disappointing, and/or note-worthy.

I wrote last weekend about a recent summer upgrade, which introduced three new buy-in characters (plus Caramel!). I noted in that article that an early glitch indicated that three other buy-in characters will apparently be brought into the game: Smithers, Svensson, and Clay Walker.

Clay Walker is a character from the soon-to-be canceled LIFE WITH ARCHIE. He was introduced in LIFE WITH ARCHIE #16 when he married an adult Kevin Keller. Clay later got shot in LWA #22, but he eventually got better.

(Clay Walker)
As I noted above, Clay has not yet been introduced to the game and I'm not sure why. I cannot help wondering if there might be some issue about him being introduced to the game because he's an adult character in the comics and Kevin in "Riverdale Rescue" isn't.

But last night, I was putting some work into a new house in order to upgrade to, when I skipped over a BFF-specific task. In "Riverdale Rescue," there are some joint tasks that can only be performed by Romantic Couples or by BFFs. When I clicked on that one BFF-specific task, a list of potential BFF characters were presented -- and one of those characters was Clay Walker!

When the summer upgrades occurred, there was a glitch that messed up most of the relationships. Some of these new characters were suddenly friends and BFFs with older characters. So it looks like Moose and Clay are BFFs in my own private Riverdale. Except that Clay -- despite being listed as a potential player -- isn't a player yet. I tried assigning Clay and Moose to a joint task and my game shut down!

Then this morning, an advertisement popped up encouraging players to purchase all of these new characters. Clay is among that collection of characters though you still cannot purchase him (or Smithers or Svensson).

I got to thinking that it would be interesting if Clay got introduced this month as part of a Gay Pride special, but I really don't think that's gonna happen. But I will keep my eyes open for the moment when I can finally introduce Clay Walker to my own private Riverdale and hook him up with Kevin!

Updated on 09/18/14: Not long after writing this original post, the folks at "Riverdale Rescue" told me that it would be a while before Clay was introduced to the game. They didn't quite tell it to me like this, but I read between the lines and came to the conclusion that they are struggling to introduce an adult Clay to the game and having him potentially dating a teenage Kevin! It's been a few months and there haven't been any new developments, so I just periodically check for updates and leave it at that.

Then I read the following update on Facebook from the "Riverdale Rescue" folks and decided to write the following offhand comment: Where's Clay??

I seriously didn't expect a response, but I got one:

So either the folks at "Riverdale Rescue" are putting me off, or else there will be developments soon. Maybe it will tie into the upcoming new 2015 KEVIN KELLER comic book? That would be pretty cool!

I will share more as I learn more!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chick-fil-A Co-Sponsoring Iowa Soul Festival this Weekend

I am totally out of it these days. I've never heard of Iowa Soul Festival and I certainly hadn't heard that they had asked Chick-fil-A to be one of their co-sponsors. But apparently it's a local controversy. Funny that I'm Facebook friends with the two women interviewed in this article and I don't recall hearing anything about it.

According to the Press-Citizen, "local members of the LGBT community" are upset that Iowa City Summer of the Arts teamed with Chick-fil-A for a co-sponsorship of this weekend's Iowa Soul Festival. Chick-fil-A became the fastfood restaurant of choice amongst anti-gay Christians and political leaders back in 2012 when their CEO began condemning families like mine and when the corporation began donating huge sums of money to anti-gay political and social groups:
Janelle Rettig, a Johnson County Supervisor who has been in a same-sex marriage for nearly 26 years, said Chick-fil-A's sponsorship makes her question whether LGBT people — those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — are welcome at Soul Fest. "When they're a sponsor in a city that prides itself in celebrating diversity, I think we do have to question that," Rettig said Tuesday. "It's eyebrow raising, and it makes me wonder if I should even go to Soul Fest because I'm uncomfortable with it."
Jewell Amos, 44, the chairwoman of the Iowa City Pride Committee, said she has mixed feelings about the sponsorship, and questions whether Summer of the Arts knew the background of the company before partnering with them. "It is their choice, by all means, to utilize all the funds they can get to put on their festival," said Amos, who said she was sharing her personal thoughts and not speaking on behalf of the committee, which she said does not generally involve itself in political issues. "But I personally think they should have picked their sponsors a little more carefully."
Lisa Barnes, the executive director of Summer of the Arts, said in the interview that they knew they would be courting negative reactions when they partnered with Chick-fil-A. But they did it anyway. Because "open discussion" and apparently because there aren't any restaurants without nationwide anti-gay reputations in the Iowa City/Coralville area.

The Iowa City Summer of the Arts issued a statement yesterday about this controversy:
Summer of the Arts is supported by the generous sponsorships and donations of many area businesses, vendors and individuals. Those that contribute to the organization may have values or beliefs that are not embraced by everyone. Summer of the Arts has recently received some public criticism and questions regarding the Chick-fil-A sponsorship of Culinary Row at the upcoming Iowa Soul Festival.

Summer of the Arts welcomes all people to attend and participate in our festivals and events regardless of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference.

Chick-fil-A stepped forward to support the Iowa Soul Festival by investing in the available sponsorship of Culinary Row, showing their support of the arts in our community. Chick-fil-A would also like to show their support of diversity including the LGBTQ community and want to make sure to show honor, dignity, and respect to all people. We feel that it is important and appropriate to encourage that sentiment especially in Iowa City.

Summer of the Arts is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community. We have collaborated and partnered with Iowa City Pride Festival for multiple years, as well as actively look for ways to include LGBTQ musicians, artists, vendors, movies etc. in our programming each year. This will not change.

Festival goers may choose which sponsors and vendors to patronize or visit while attending an event as there are many options available. The purpose of the Iowa Soul Festival is to celebrate and increase awareness of diversity and the positive impact it has on our community. Again, this is a welcoming and open event for all. It would be unfortunate for someone to not attend the festival or participate in all that it has to offer.
For the record, I won't be at the Iowa Soul Festival. It has nothing to do with Chick-fil-A. I just have other plans. That said, I would be less likely to follow through with my plans to attend Iowa Soul Festival if I'd have been planning on attending because of this co-sponsorship. That's my thoughts. You are free to make your own choice. And feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Uncle Poodle is Engaged!

Uncle Poodle & Alan
Remember back in July when we learned that Lee "Uncle Poodle" Thompson has a new boyfriend named Alan? Uncle Poodle promised at the time that there would be no gay weddings on the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" program, but the two have been quite active together on Uncle Poodle's Facebook page and they've been referring to each other as husbands.

I guess they just decided to make it official. Mama June announced on the office "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" Facebook page today that "He said yes! Sending lots of love and happiness to Uncle Poodle!" No word on whom asked whom, or if they've set a date, or if it's going to be a camo-themed wedding, or if Alan's going to appear on future episodes of the reality TV program.

Congratulations, Uncle Poodle and Alan!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Girls Bid Farewell to Riverdale in BETTY & VERONICA #272!

It took me a while, but I finally read BETTY & VERONICA #272. It's Part One of the "Farewell Riverdale" storyline, in which our title characters head off on a months-long foreign exchange student exchange. Part One is pretty basic: Betty and Veronica are leaving and everyone is sad about it -- except for Cheryl Blossom. They have a going away ceremony. And then the girls board their flight -- after kissing their favorite redhead!

It's actually not a bad story and I'm certainly not doing it any justice with my brief summary. But I guess I'm feeling a little leery. I believe that there will be five parts to this story. This first part says "goodbye." And we'll "learn how this all began" next issue. Assuming that this doesn't happen as part of a flashback intermixed with the beginning of their new adventure... Well, it doesn't leave a lot of book-space for their new adventure.

Personally, I would have preferred that the start of their new adventure had been more condensed. Combine the "how" and the "goodbye" in a series of flashbacks as the girls fly overseas and then unload onto their new school bus or whatever. Not to mention, watching the kids at home grieve over their joint absence after they had actually been absent for a bit. It just seems like we're stretching this aspect of the story too much.

Best part of the story? Cheryl and Midge! Now that Betty and Veronica have left Riverdale, there are two new spots on the cheerleading squad. This leads to a huge fight over Cheryl's cavalier attitude about shooting up on the social totem pole. But does a fist-fight really count as a "cat fight?"

One last thing... Shades of PEP COMICS #22??:

I really hope we get to see the girls enjoying their new adventure next issue and not spending all issue thinking back on how they actually got chosen for their new adventure. This book doesn't come out often enough to get mired in the details.

"The Beginning of the End!" is written by Michael Uslan, penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Bob Smith, and lettered by Jack Morelli.

14-Year-Old Boy Faces 2 Years in Prison for Simulating Oral Sex Act with Statue of Jesus

Have you heard about the 14-year-old boy from Everett, PA, who is facing two years in prison for posting pictures on Facebook of him simulating oral sex acts with a statue of Jesus?

It's true. Back in July, the boy had some pictures taken of him kneeling in front of a statue of Jesus pretending like he was getting some head. The pictures were posted on Facebook and eventually came to the attention of the local district attorney's office.

The ministry who owns the statue, Love in the Name of Christ, wasn't happy about the pictures. But they didn't want to press criminal charges. And they accepted the boy's apology. Basically, they asked folks to pray for the kid.

But Bedford County district attorney Bill Higgins had the boy arrested, charging him with "Desecration of a Venerated Object," which is a 2nd degree misdemeanor. He wants the boy tried in juvenile court as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Higgins feels pretty good that others think it's ridiculous that he has criminally charged this teen in this instance:
I guess I should take solace in the fact that the liberals are mad at me—again. As for this case, this troubled young man offended the sensibilities and morals of OUR community.… His actions constitute a violation of the law, and he will be prosecuted accordingly. If that tends to upset the 'anti-Christian, ban-school-prayer, war-on-Christmas, oppose-display-of-Ten-Commandments' crowd, I make no apologies.
You read that correctly, Bill Higgins cited Fox News' annual "War of Christmas" in support for this criminal prosecution.

Speaking of Fox News, Bill Higgins is reaching out to various Fox News personalities in an effort to bolster support for his cause:

And just because Bill Higgins is citing is conservative Christian values, it's worth noting that he came under a bit of professional heat back in 2008 for committing adultery with a woman at the Bedford County courthouse. Then again, the values of his community -- those same values that support the criminal prosecution of a 14-year-old boy for posing in a stupid photo -- re-elected Higgins. So what do I know?