Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mother's Day 2022

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  Thank you!  We love you! 💕

One bright and guiding light
That taught me wrong from right
I found in my mother's eyes

Those faithful tales she told
Of streets all paved in gold
I found in my mother's eyes

Just like a wandering sparrow
One lonely soul
I'll walk the straight and narrow
To reach my goal

God's gift sent from above
A real unselfish love
I found in my mother's eyes.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

George Perez, Comics' Titan

For comic fans, when you mention any superhero, there is always a specific artist that leaps to mind as epitomizing the look of that character.  The artist defines the character.  For some, it is the first artist they have exposure to, with that first exposure burning the experience into their brain. For others, it is someone like Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, whose art for DC Comics characters was used for every piece of merchandise in the 1970s and 1980s, from books, to apparel, to folders and lunch boxes.  Chances are, if you can instantly recognize a particular Superman image outside of comic books, it's Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.  

For me, the artist I always leap to is George Perez. And because of his immense talent and prodigious output, it's not one specific character - it's nearly every Marvel and DC Comics superhero.

To me, he is the definitive superhero artist.

When I picture virtually every superhero, its his art that leaps to mind.  Perez's art in many ways defies description.  It's intricately detailed, but not hyper-realistic nor overly stylized.  It's active and vibrant in the way the best cartoons and comics are, but carries more detail in a single panel than many other cartoons or comics have in their entire product.

His art pushed the boundaries of what is possible in a single comic's page or panel.  Never content with what he had done previously, he always sought to top his previous artwork, increasing the complexity of panel design and crowd composition.  He holds the records for the largest number of characters on a single cover, soaring over 200 with his covers for Crisis on Infinite Earths and JLA/Avengers.

Perez created seminal runs of Wonder Woman, Justice League, Superman, Teen Titans, and the Avengers.  He drew the crossovers that are still seen as groundbreaking today - Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Infinity Gauntlet, and the historic intercompany work JLA/Avengers.  And he could do it all.  He penciled, he inked, he wrote.  And he did it with such perfectionism.

Above all, Perez had the greatest relationship with his fans.  Perez, ever the consummate professional, was known for having the longest lines at conventions, and yet still prioritizing time with each fan, singing and sketching on whatever they brought him.  Hour after hour, I've read stories today of other creators admiring this ability and wondering if he ever ate.  He has been described as the nicest man in comics, and from all indications, it seems to be 100% true.  

On December 7, 2021, Perez announced that he had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer.  He made the decision to forgo any additional treatment and to focus on making the most of the life he had left.  Particularly, seeking to find ways to celebrate his life with his fans while he was still here.  Looking to sign books, looking to share stories, and to share the hugs that he was famous for.  I shed a few tears that day, moved by the love he had for those around him.  To be at what we would consider such an extreme low, and to be still moved by love.

Perez passed away yesterday peacefully at his home, at the age of 67.  

The light and spirit that he brought to this world and shared with us will be greatly missed.

May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

May the 4th 2022

If you traveled back 45 years, little could anyone imagine how big Star Wars would become.  At that time, Star Wars was just a movie that was set to premier 20 days later.  Given the recent performance of sci-fi at the time, it wasn't expected to have much of an impact.

And yet, here we are, with Star Wars a global phenomenon.  A multi-billion dollar, multi-media franchise.  Star Wars land, aka Galaxy's Edge, has finally opened.  Jediism is even a registered and recognized religion.

Yes, the movies can be clunky, they can be corny, they don't always work that well.  But there is still a magic in them.  Particularly in the original trilogy.  Lucas stayed so close to the mono-myth, to Campbell's Hero's Journey, that he created a new mythology that still resonates today.

We still connect to hope.  We still want to see good triumph over evil.  To see the evil Empire fall.  We like seeing Nazis lose, even if it's space Nazis.

Plus, the story, the world is so big, there is room for all kinds of storytelling, witnessed recently by the success of the Mandalorian.  Since we've viewed a lot of Akira Kurosawa, we can see his influences on Star Wars.  The touches from Hidden Fortress, from Yojimbo.  We talked about how we now want to see Seven Samurai in Star Wars or what Throne of Blood looks like.  What Casablanca looks like in Star Wars.  A more James Bond inspired Agent of the Empire.  You can tell almost any war story, any samurai story, any western in the world Lucas created.

If you are looking for ways to celebrate, for the best content, may I suggest the Original Trilogy, the Clone Wars television show (particularly the later seasons), The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, and Rogue One and Solo of the newer material.

Or just dive in fully and embrace the weird parts, like Caravan of Courage or Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.  I mean, even the Star Wars Holiday Special has its moments.  Look it up on YouTube.

Enjoy the day.  Remember, there is hope, even when the world looks its darkest.  Look for good to win out in the end.

And of course, may the Force be with you, always.

Or, for my more orthodox Jedi,

May the Force be with you.
And also with you.