Comic Retailer Report

Some of you know that Michael Tierney, whose Wild Stars book we put out over the summer, is a comic store owner. What you may not know is he’s a regular contributor to the Overstreet comic book price guide, submitting retailer reports.

Here, R.J. Carter of Critical Blast reads one of Michael’s reports on what’s wrong in comics and what’s killing Marvel sales in the direct market.

Advertisements

Churchill, Tribalism and an Apologia

“It is the primary right of men to die and kill for the land they live in, and to punish with exceptional severity all members of their own race who have warmed their hands at the invaders’ hearth.” – Winston Churchill

Churchill spoke these words in reference to the wholesale slaughter of the Romans and the their British allies during the war led by Boadicea in an effort to reclaim Britain for the Britons. “We see the crude and corrupt beginnings of a higher civilisation blotted out by the ferocious uprising of the native tribes.”

For context: I’m about 700-odd pages into Churchill’s 2400 page History of English-Speaking Peoples.

There’s a relatively new meme floating about that England has always been diverse and multicultural; and it’s true! It has also been a highly conflicted and tribalized society that was only able to push aside that tribality when focusing its energies externally–wars against Scotland, France, the entire world, allowed briefly the ancient divisions of Briton, Saxon, Norman, and Dane to be, if not forgotten, set-aside. And what is more fascinating is that all of that conflict, bloodshed, division and tribalism takes place in a geography smaller than the average United State.

Fast forward to today, where post-enlightenment identitarianism is on the rise. On one hand, you have white identitarians, neo-nazis and the like; and on the other, you have non-white identitarians who in the guise of “anti-nazism” would visit violence on all others they deem outside of their tribe. The latter are frequent to bring up World War II and fighting literal Nazis as moral justification. The former cling to mantras like the 14 words and ideologies of political systems and thinkers antithetical to the traditions of Anglo common law, when they could’ve easily found, in Churchill–a man quintessentially British AND American, a figure sympathetic to the ideas they clumsily express. The latter, in their righteous cloak, ultimately indulge in the same tribalism that they purport to demonize–and in laying claim to the cause of anti-Nazism and anti-Fascism, who do they find in their camp as the greatest warrior against Nazism and Fascism but the great Tribalist himself, Winston Churchill?

Ruminations on these ideas led to this unfortunate late-night shitpost which clearly failed to convey or fully illustrate the ironies I had been contemplating for some time. I own it. But to quote Richard C. Meyer: “It was a bad idea”

More King Richard!

This week, we wrapped up our second game of Richard I the Lion Heart; though the English forces utterly routed the French and captured Philip Augustus, Richard fell on the field of battle a few miles north of Maine’s border with Normandy. We called it a draw, though in retrospect it would be a long-term strategic victory for France; Philip would eventually be ransomed. The biggie would be that he would be substantially weakened in his dealing with John, and John, without perpetual holy wars with France, might avoid having to sign the Magna Carta.

It’s a game that you have to slow-play to win. I got over-eager, in part, because my dad wanted to call it, and I wanted things to go out in one last big battle, at least. I’d have likely won before the game-year was out, because there were only a couple places left in Normandy I had to take, and with Philip and the Count of Au left with maybe a 1/5th of my total forces, there wasn’t a lot they could do to seriously interfere with the ongoing sieges.

I’m trying this time as the French, and adopting a long-game stalling strategy. I used Philip to deploy garrisons in the towns and forts along the French and Norman borders, then bugged out with siege train to create trouble in Touraine. The Count of Au did similarly in the northern area of the border, but being slow, got himself caught and captured in a siege. I’m still debating whether or not it would be worth trying to ransom him back. I certainly wouldn’t want to overpay for him; he’s really not that good. But on the other hand, just having a guy around in the same province makes other strongholds more difficult to besiege. Plus, he’s the only thing besides rebelling vassal barons that Philip can use to keep from being out-maneuvered.

So, the goal and strategy:

  • create delays in Normandy, but don’t actively fight for it.
  • fight for and besiege the unguarded western Angevin holdings
    • Deny money and troops from Richard’s vassals
    • Line the French coffers with Angevin wealth
    • Build an unbeatable army of French knights while Richard’s forces dwindle
  • return to Normandy with troops to not confront, but to further delay Richard
  • wait for fate to take its course and for Richard to take an arrow through the neck

Off the Cuff Disenchantment Thoughts

PC Bushi’s recent post on Disenchantment provoked a brief discussion between us, wherein I agree almost entirely with his takes on its failings, but I still enjoyed it in spite of them.

Disenchantment had a good story that was marred by bad writers. Ironically, the most interesting and sympathetic characters were the ones we got to see the least of [the second wife, Oona, and her half-amphibian son]. They couldn’t figure out what to do with the mains, so we end up with Elf Fry and demon-cat Bender hanging out around a character who is intentionally unlikable. Those characters can work really well, but they have to be juxtaposed against solid, good, likable characters or at least surrounded by a tone that makes them sympathetic. Disenchantment doesn’t really acquire this tone until the final episodes, at which point many viewers have already given up on the show.

For me, the best part was the relationship between the king and his second wife and political entanglement it was borne out of and led to questions about what really happened to the first wife. (spoilers) I was happy that Oona WASN’T the secret villain in the season-one twist and the imprisonment of the innocent if slightly degenerate half-amphibian son of Oona and the king when succession became called into question with the return of Queen Dagmar was a genuinely moving moment.

A big problem that it had was that it had a good story but was not good at developing characters. So, even though it was a really short series, the early/middle episodes that tried to develop the characters but didn’t advance the story were the worst.

They waited too long, I think, to make clear that the king was a more nuanced and complex character than he presents himself as throughout much of the show. People are right that it gets good at the end, but you need to, uh… make the rest of the show good, too.

The second half is better than the first half, picking up with episode 6. Episode 7 lampshades how awful all of the characters are when the one-eyed giantess literally comes out and says that every one of the mains are horrible people.

It was better than whenever Futurama tried to tackle D&D, but it struck me as going for [from what little I know about it and what little I’ve read] a Cerebus vibe–snarky, mean fantasy comedy that leaves a door open to go “dark” and “serious” when it wants to. It didn’t do a great job, but it was just good enough that I wish it was better.