Reminder that Frogs are Creepy and Spoopy and Turn Bogs into a Nightmare

Was walking my border collie last night by the boglands near the river. It was a horror-show of sounds with cheeps and peeps and under it all, cackling laughter. A menacing “HA HA Ha Ha ha…” from the murky dark behind the trees and tall grasses…

At one point, the trail goes straight into the bogs, and my border collie flipped out, all “nope nope nope, not gonna do it, evil goblins that way, let’s leave!”

Take a listen to some of these frog sounds, particularly the Coastal Plains Leopard Frog.

http://www.herpsofarkansas.com/?n=Frog.HomePage

File this post under “D&D inspiration”.

The Valentine’s Day UC Gundam Best Girl Tournament

Just for laughs, we’re hosting a Valentine’s Day Universal Century Gundam Best Girl Tournament.

The winner will be declared “Best Girl” and I will do my best to draw her on my blank artist cover copy of Hell Arisen #1, which will be auctioned off.

The voting will be done on twitter. The first round brackets are live. Vote today!

best girl tournament

Some Quick Anime, Movie, and Book Reviews

Right now, I’m in wait mode on the Spring issue; the proofs ought to be showing up any day now.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching some movies and anime and reading some books:

Freaks (2018)

On one hand, Freaks is definitely an indie art-film take on X-Men. On the other hand, it’s a better X-Men movie than most of the last half-dozen X-Men movies.

It’s basically “What if we told the story of seven-year-old Jean Grey from her point of view, filmed it like a horror movie, and instead of professor X/magneto, she has a creepy, foul-mouthed grampa who drives an ice-cream truck.

It was worth watching.

March Lion [3 Gatsu no Lion / March Comes In Like a Lion]

My GF started this, but I ended up binging it without her.

The main character is kind of a loser and the least interesting part of the show, but I really want to know how things pan out with middle-sister-chan, ulcer-sensei, and the main’s best friend who thinks he’s the protagonist in a shonen anime.

It’s a little floating world, and it doesn’t end in a super great place [not quite Genji, where the author keels over mid-scene, and you’re left going “AND?!”]; still crossing my fingers for a 3rd season.

Makes me torn between wanting to take up Shogi and staying very far away from it.

Carole & Tuesday

This show was bad and should feel bad.

It’s kind of funny how it plays into the self-importance of musicians; while the hackerman and the investigative journalist beat the villain, the musicians play a “we are the world” song and everyone’s like “a miracle happened…”

It has beautiful animation and is ostensibly set in the Cowboy Bebop universe, but its story is dull and vapid, and the music in it is terrible.

The strawman villain’s position is the entirely reasonable “Mars can’t sustain a large number of illegal refugee migrants BECAUSE IT IS FUCKING MARS, so I’ll convince this presidential candidate to support legislation to deport illegal earth migrants back to earth.”

Rob Kroese’s Rise of the Demon Prince + The Book of the Dead

Catching up on Rob’s Counterfeit Sorcerer series, having just finished Book of the Dead over the weekend.

It’s been a really good, solid series so far. Small spoilers, I was hoping Boland turned out to be a righteous dude, cuz I kind of liked him from afar with what hints were given. One of the fellowship was pretty much given a too-stupid-to-live death from a face-heel turn that, while an explanation was given, still felt a bit out of character.

Overall, I’m still enjoying it and have started on the 4th book.

My main qualms with the series is that Rob is printing them with Matte paper covers, and good lord, those feel gross on the fingers, and the print versions of the cover art are just dark blurry messes. Not much I can complain about for the story itself, other than it may have fallen into a predictable pattern of ::beat villain:: -> “Oh, noes, here’s the real/next villain, time to stop him in the next book!” I actually think Boland turning out to be a solid good-guy would’ve been a more surprising twist than “Now I’m taking over what the bad guy was doing cuz I’m gonna do it better!”

 

Thoughts on Eric John Stark’s Ethnicity

Recently, Barnes & Noble decided to try something for Black History Month that everyone decided was a Bad IdeaTM. No, that wasn’t a Babylon Bee article, they took characters from classic works [in many cases the villains, ironically] and made them black on the cover art as part of a promotion.

Cover Only JPGLast year, we put out a fully-illustrated edition of Brackett’s Planet Stories-era Stark adventures, and one thing we wanted to be sure to do was portray him on the covers and in the interior the way he’s described: black. No, not ethnically black, but dark-skinned; easily shorthanded as “black”.

Some people take issue with or confuse Stark’s changed nature with the de jour racial politics: “How is pretending Eric John Stark’s sun-blackened skin makes him a different race any better than just straight up race swapping characters?”

Who is Stark? Is he a white man? Is he a black man? Is he a white man with black skin?

His skin is black and everyone calls him a “great black ape.”

He’s stripped of any white ethnic identity by his physical condition as well as his upbringing.

Enchantress Cover for ebookHe’s an eternal outsider.

He identifies as N’Chaka, Man with no tribe.

If Stark was ever “white”, he is no longer–he feels no racial kinship with “white” men of Earth. But he’s not “black” either, in that he is not African, nor would he feel any racial kinship with “black” men of Earth, though given his upbringing, he might feel more sympathetic towards them.

Brackett was a huge fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Tarzan, and in some ways Stark may be looked at as an anti-Tarzan.

Tarzan was Nature over Nurture. Burroughs emphasized the importance of his noble Anglo blood that always shone through despite the circumstances of his upbringing; Tarzan was always true to his blood and nothing could change that. When he meets fellow whites, he knows them to be his people.

Black Amazon of Mars Front Only

Stark was Nurture over Nature. His environment changed him physically and mentally; though he was the child of frontier settlers from earth, at his core he is a savage, more kin with the the wild Mercurian indigenous hunters than with the earth men who found him and dragged him back to earth in a cage “to civilize him”. That Stark was at some point in his early childhood a white boy would be immaterial to his ethnic identity as it presents to every other person he comes in contact with, and you can be damn sure he feels no sense of racial connection to “white” people. He’s a character who was crafted to be completely and totally an outsider among any race.

To say “he’s white with black skin” glosses over the experiment Brackett was doing with the character, creating someone with conflicting ethnic signifiers and no racial identity besides “other”.

So, when I say “Eric John Stark is black,” I’m not saying “Eric John Stark is either descended from African American slave stock or is a Sub-Saharan African”; I’m saying he’s literally black.

More details on our 70th Anniversary Illustrated Stark can be found here.

Also, be sure to check out our Spring Issue, available for pre-order now in e-book form [print pre-order coming soon!], out March 13th!