The Anatomy of Zur-En-Arrh” Coming Soon!

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My book The Anatomy of Zur-en-arrh: Understanding Grant Morrison’s Batman has been solicited in the Diamond Previews Catalog! Here’s everything you need to know about the book:

The Diamond order number is _________________

Official book page

The Announcement on Sequart

Original articles that led to the book – consider these to be free, unedited sample chapters. 

Comic Book Resources forum topic for the book

Bleeding Cool’s Write-up of my book. 

On IGN

Something that has been weird is seeing how angry some people are about the book or how quick some are to dismiss it. Grant Morrison is a divisive writer because some people find him too confusing to enjoy while others enjoy the mental exercise his comics bring out in readers.

Other people are upset that I would write a book about understanding his run. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “understanding” in the title. As I said on the CBR forums, it was never my intention to say that my interpretation is the only one or that it is correct. It’s my contribution to the conversation about his run and nothing more. Some found that pretentious though, I guess.

My favorite comment by far has been So we can do that? We can write an 274 page essay on why someone made Bruce Wayne a father and sell it for money?”

My response was “of course you can!”

Literary criticism sells. Think my book sucks? Write your own! Argue against me and make money off that argument! I encourage it! And I’m not remotely trying to be rude. This is me encouraging people. If you have something to say, all of the avenues for production are there, so do it.

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Music Mondays – 5 Terrible Country Music Covers

I’m no fan of modern country, but I would still consider myself to be a country music fan at times. “Bro Country” is about getting drunk and hanging out on trucks and that’s not country music to me. Country music at its best tells very clear, oftentimes sentimental, and relatable stories that resonate with people. There are country songs that are too sugary-sweet and too sentimental and those are terrible too, but country music (and I guess all music by extension) works when it connects without being too commercial.

But, when country music tries to be something artificial, that’s when things get really bad. The following are country music stars covering songs that they just have no business covering.

“Paradise City”
by Gunz n Roses
Cover by Pat Boone

Maybe it’s not fair to place Pat Boone on this list because in the 50s and 60s, he was considered a pop star rather than a legitimate country star, but his “No More Mr. Nice Guy” album of awkward covers is so bad that he deserves it. Also, he is in the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, so I think that is close enough to country that he deserves this inclusion.

“Seven Nation Army”
by Jack White
Cover by the Oak Ridge Boys

Ugh. That’s about all I can muster for this one.

“Piece of My Heart”
by Erma Franklin
Cover by Faith Hill

This song is just blasphemy. While the Janis Joplin version of the song is probably more famous than the Erma Franklin’s version, both are infinitely superior to the crap that Faith Hill churned out. The Franklin version has so much soul and just washes over you while the Joplin version feels like she is going to beat the hell out of a man who has done her wrong. Faith Hill by comparison sounds like a hurt kitten. It’s rough.

“God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You”
by N’Sync
Cover by Alabama

First, it was an N’Sync song first which is bad enough, but to cover it makes it even worse. And this is a perfect example of the meaning of a song changing depending on the speaker in the song. When Justin Timberlake sings this song, it’s a love song to a girl. It’s a terrible love song, but one nonetheless. When Alabama performs it, it’s from a dad to his daughter and there is something about this transference of intent to new subject that comes off as creepy to me. You may disagree and that’s fine, but surely we can agree that this is an awful cover.

“Landslide”
by Fleetwood Mac
Cover by the Dixie Chicks

While this cover isn’t as bad as the others, what’s so offensive about it is that so many of my students think this is the original version. They have no idea that it is a cover. And the original is just so good that I think that’s a crime.

Also, the video for this song is really bad. I mean, REALLY bad. It makes mom jeans, marching band conductor jacket Faith Hill from the “Piece of My Heart” video seem good.

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New Wave Soldiers Redux

This is the last bit of New Wave Soldiers pages I’ve got. Nate drew five pages and inked four and then LIFE struck once more. If you like what you’ve seen over these past few weeks, please let us know. I want to work with Nate because I think he’s really talented and I want other people to see his work too. I think we’ve got a really good story and I hope he has the time to finish it up. Again, enjoy and leave lots of comments for us! Continue reading

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Music Mondays – 5 Awesome Less Sincere Covers

I love a good cover song, but I also love when bands cover songs ironically. The following songs are great but in the case of Jeff Tweedy and Ben Gibbard, one can tell that they are less than sincere about the subject matter. In any case, these are perfect and I hope you love it.

“I’ve Got a Feeling”
by the Black Eyed Peas
Cover by Jeff Tweedy

“Complicated”
by Avril Lavigne
Cover by Ben Gibbard

“We Built This City”
by Starship
Cover by Cursive

“Umbrella”
by Rihanna
Cover by Tegan and Sara

“Ghostbusters theme”
by Ray Parker jr.
Cover by Conor Oberst

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A bit of a crisis

While this summer hasn’t been as productive as I would have liked, it has been a perfect summer. I’ve spent every day with my son and we’ve filled our days with trips to the library, the zoo, the flea market, the Discovery Center, the swimming pool, and so many other adventures. Last year, he was so small that we didn’t do much because he was too small to do anything. Now that I have my little toddler running around, we’re having the summer that I always dreamed of with my son.

In terms of this site, I don’t know that I ever really returned to my old self when I returned to this site. The guy I was when I first started Popgun Chaos is a completely different person than who I am today. I was more cocky then. More willing to jump into an argument and write about half-formed theories in a way as if I really believed them. It made writing easy then.

Today, I’m more cautious in my writing. I’m more understanding to the opinions of others. This makes writing harder for me because instead of just jumping into writing to start a fight, I decide to avoid a fight altogether. Again, this doesn’t make for great content considering my site used to provoke strong reactions. I guess I’m just tired of fighting people. I’m tired of arguing over nothing.

So instead, I want to write about things I love, but writing about things I love is so much harder than complaining because you can only say “This was really great” in so many different ways before it gets boring and tedious.

I suppose I should analyze more on the site, but that brings me to the big question:

For what purpose?

I’ve been wanting to write about the best episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, but I wonder “why should I?” What does it accomplish? Who will even read it? What does it matter?

And that’s where my mind is right now.

I don’t really have enough daily traffic to justify writing about pop culture on here. People rarely comment. But maybe I haven’t written anything that deserves it. Maybe being a dad has just changed my priorities.  Anyway, school is coming up soon so I won’t really have time to write as much.

However, PLEASE keep coming back to Popgun Chaos because I will still have Music Mondays and there will be new webcomics on Tuesdays and Fridays from me. I’ve got a few more writing projects coming up too that will be announced when they start taking more form.

Sorry for this kind of mopey post, but I just needed to get some of my thoughts out there.

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Interview with CW Cooke about Solitary

CW Cooke is a writer who I met at Planet Comicon back in March. He’s got a Kickstarter up to finish the first arc on his comic Solitary so I thought I’d help him spread the word with an interview. I hope you enjoy!

solitary Continue reading

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New Wave Soldiers character designs

After the mini-comic, Nate took another hiatus. I messaged him again after time passed and wanted to start it all over again. I rewrote the prologue, the first and second issues and wanted to turn our comic into an 80 page giant instead. Nate went back to the drawing board and made the following character designs. Continue reading

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Music Mondays – 5 Songs That are Bad-Good

There are plenty of terrible songs out there. Some get buried on albums and you could just ignore that they exist (“Heart Songs” by Weezer is what I’m thinking of here). Then, there are the bad songs that are repeated every hour on the radio for a few months and then they disappear (“Wiggle” by Jason Derulo will hopefully fall into this category). But there are other songs that are so bad that they remain forever. There is something in these songs that strikes a chord of irony in everyone that won’t allow these songs to die. Usually there is a degree of cheese that these songs have that is simultaneously fun and repellent.

The most obvious of these is “We Built This City” by Starship. It’s hokey, goofy, terrible, but somehow lovable in its badness. So, while I want to put it on this list, it would be too easy to include it. It’s on every bad song list. Instead, I’ll go with a few other choices that I think are on par with “We Build This City.” If you have your own list, include it in the comments.  Continue reading

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Nemo at Thirty – 2. The Casualty

In case you missed it, the first strip can be found here. Please share and comment!

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Kids Tube Review – Blues Clues

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Though it may be gone, it is certainly not forgotten. Blues Clues set the standard for the children’s show format that we have seen time and time again. Dora the ExplorerNi hao, Kai-LanMickey Mouse Clubhouse – all of these shows and tons more owe their existence to Blues Clues. My son is 19 months old and he LOVES this show. And you know what? I don’t mind it either. There is something that is still charming about the whole thing. And that’s Steve Burns.

Without a doubt, Steve Burns is so charming and wonderful that he carried the show. They tried Steve’s brother or cousin or whatever and he just didn’t work out. Maybe it’s because no one could accept a substitute Steve or maybe it was because they messed with the format after Steve left (and boy, did they really change things up beyond just the host change). But Steve had a spark that was undeniable.

A great example is in the episode where they learn to tell time. There is a solid minute where viewers are supposed to sit and experience what a full minute feels like. During that minute, Steve keeps adding a few remarks showing just how long that minute is. It could have been weird or awkward, but Steve actually made me laugh during this which is no small accomplishment for a kid’s show.

This is just one small example, but there is at least one moment per episode where Steve seems like he is breaking out of his role of “gee whiz, let’s find some clues” to be funny. It’s really amazing to see how talented he really was and how much you just don’t appreciate him until you’re older. I mean, here is a guy who had to react to a green screen (no small accomplishment) and he made it come alive.

I know it’s a little weird to be gushing on and on about a show that’s been off the air for nearly ten years, but there is something genuine about Blues Clues that I don’t feel like you see in kid’s shows anymore. Of course the show had a pretty strict format, but it also used that format to educate on a variety of subjects. The most admirable was an episode on art appreciation. They showed different works of classic art and discussed their differing styles – pretty heavy stuff for a kid’s show.

Anyway, Steve is still around on twitter, so be sure to follow him because he’s a cool guy. And if you want to watch every episode of Blues Clues, you can watch all of them if you have an Amazon Prime account.

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