Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Title: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Writer: Frank Miller
Art Work: Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley
Publisher: DC Comics
The world of Batman for me captures everything I love about fictional novels.  A good novel has to be able to take you away from the real world and transport you to the world of the pages in the novel.  It must be exciting, believable, have continuity, and most of all it must be original for it to capture my attention.  I hate it when I read about characters I can’t relate to, or a story that is predictable and banal.  For me it’s all about respect.  When I decide to choose a novel to read, I am assuming that the writer or artist has put their soul into a piece they want to share with the world.  So I show them respect by becoming a sort of hermit to the outside world, which allows me to focus my full attention into the story they have created.  I usually wear a hat or a hoody because it physically allows me to concentrate on the words with my foveal vision, while ignoring everything else that’s in my peripheral vision such as who’s sitting next to me on the subway.  If it’s a long novel I also like to get a note pad and write down notes as I’m reading in order to understand the story better.  Being this engaged with a novel I can then dissect and consume the story at my own pace since I have never been an academic person.
The beauty of the world of Batman is that its characters have been well established and yet still allow for various types of interpretations from writer to writer.  One man can see Batman as an honest and righteous do-gooder, while another can picture him as a tormented vigilante.  The latter is how Frank Miller decided to interpret his vision of Batman in his epic graphic novel, the Dark Knight Returns.  Written in the mid 80’s when the Cold War was still going on with the threat of nuclear war and the presence of the growing pessimistic media, you can tell Miller was definitely influenced by his time.  For him, the old boy scout super hero was no longer believable because the world had changed.  I like to interpret this as going from good and bad or white and black, to a world that was grey where good and bad were mixed together.  This grey world needed a hero that would scare off the worst villains, who were capable of murder and rape.  This world demanded a giant rambunctious and dangerous Batman that would risk his life in order to defeat his enemies.  This is the hero that Miller unleashed onto Gotham City to fight its new evils.
The first thing I noticed that was unique about this graphic novel was how the art and drawings were presented.  Each panel was narrow and crammed full of writing, while the illustrations were plain and simple.  This was difficult to get used to at first because most graphic novels have so many intricate illustrations that the words barely need to get read to know what is happening.  As I read on though, I found that I started to rely less on the drawings and more on the story that was written, making the narrative much more smooth and rich.  I became really impressed by the flow of continuity that Frank Miller had created.  Another thing I enjoyed about this novel was the multiple stories that were involved from the mutant gang, the Joker, Commissioner Yindel, and even Superman.  What also surprised me about this novel was Bruce Wayne’s age; he’s an old man.  Not that it took away from the story having a much more physically vulnerable Batman, instead I viewed it as Miller trying to demonstrate the heart of Bruce Wayne.  His ‘never give up’ attitude was really inspiring and made me love Batman even more.  By the time I was done reading this graphic novel I came to appreciate what Frank Miller has done for the world of comic book superheroes; allow them to be interpreted in different ways from different people, thus allowing and endless amount of stories to flourish.
Wiki link:
DC Comics:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Air Jordan III Comparison

If you were to have asked me a few years ago what my favourite Air Jordan sneaker was, I would have said the Air Jordan V.  There were so many things to love about that sneaker, but my favourite feature was how the Jumpman logo would standout against the 3M tongue.  Eventually I was able to get that sneaker again when they were released as a retro.  Like most things I collect, once I have it I start wanting something else that I don’t have.  At that point, I didn’t have a pair of Air Jordan III’s.  So I would spend hours looking at pictures and reading about how it was made.  All this led to a hunger for them that grew stronger every day that I didn’t have them.
Throughout the years I did hear rumours about them re-releasing again, but the years came and went and they never were released.  All of that changed in 2008 when it was finally confirmed and pictures were released of the black cement Air Jordan III.  At last I told myself I would be able to own this pair.  Then when I finally had it in my possession I still wanted more, and so the Air Jordan III true blue was also released.  I was now a very happy man, however I still came back to youtube videos of Michael Jordan at the Slam Dunk competition wearing the white/cement III’s.  Those were now the sneakers that I knew wouldn’t let me sleep until I had them.
So I stayed optimistic and believed that all good things come in three, and so finally out of the blue I read somewhere that the white/cement III’s where a confirmed release for 2011.  What made this release even better was that they would come in an OG box with hangtag and elephant print shoe paper.  When the release day came I was one of the first persons in the sneaker store to buy the III’s.  I then went home and decided to bring out the other two pairs and look at them and compare them to one another. While there are minor differences between the three sneakers, I believe Jordan Brand did an excellent job in all three sneakers.  Finally after years of dreaming and wanting, I was able to have my complete set of my favourite Air Jordan III’s.  But just like the V’s, now that I have my III’s my want for something I don’t have is still there, and so my next goal is to get a pair of Air Jordan cement IV’s.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


With another season of baseball about to start I thought it would be appropriate to showcase a baseball themed toy.  I came upon Playmakers MLB toys one day when I was in a toy store looking for anything interesting.  This toy instantly caught my attention because I love baseball.  When I was a kid I used to collect baseball cards, and I know if these toys were around back then I would also have collected them.  Playmakers are made by McFarlane Toys, a company that has been making sports figure toys for years.
This time around, McFarlane Toys offers MLB players in a 4inch scale.  For the first series some of baseball’s current fan favourites were included such as Ryan Howard, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Beckett, and many more.  Most players come in two versions, either batting or fielding; though pitchers and David Ortiz only come in one version.  Each sports figure is highly poseable because they have over 20 moving parts.  The version I have is of Derek Jeter in a white pinstripe Yankees uniform.  The quality of these toys is really impressive when compared to the price they cost (Canadian retail $9.99 plus tax), and the size they come in.  These toys are a great collectable and will be fantastic to have around once the new MLB season begins.
McFarlane Toys:

Happy Meal

When I was growing up my parents never took us (kids) to McDonalds very often.  Fast food was simply a treat we enjoyed a few times a year.  Meanwhile, I remember other kids whose parents would take them multiple times a week.  Now that I’m older I am so thankful that they raised us (fed us) on home cooked meals.  I still stick to the same discipline I had as a child by eating fast food once in a while.  However the one item I had to have this week was a Happy Meal.  I hadn’t bought one in years, but remembered those years long ago when they would bring a smile to my face.  I think one of my first toy memories from a Happy Meal was a Fraggle Rock vegetable car toy.  One of the reasons I was motivated to buy a Happy Meal was because I noticed that McDonalds had brought back the Happy Meal box.  For the last few years they had been using plain paper bags that weren’t as special.  What makes the box so special is that it’s almost like a present that you know will have good food inside and include an awesome toy.  Regardless of age, a Happy Meal is bound to bring a smile to your face.
McDonald’s Happy Meal:

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Avatar

Whenever I check out youtube videos of people I’m subscribed to, I’m always impressed by how much time and effort people put into decorating their channel.  One thing that I’m always amazed at is when they transform themselves into cartoon characters.  That got me thinking the other day, why don’t I do that myself?  The only problem was that I haven’t drawn in years, and felt intimidated to draw again.  I also wanted to avoid the feeling of frustration when my pencil wouldn’t draw what I was picturing in my mind.

Nevertheless I sat down today and faced my fears and just started drawing.  I put on a little music as well to get me inspired.  While drawing characters that look amazing is essential, what is most important is finding your own style.  I honestly respect originality more than I do an art piece that looks good but has been done before.  In order to make the cartoon version of me represent my own style, I decided to add a couple of features that are distinct to myself; such as the baseball hat, big nose and dimples on my cheeks.  I was also inspired by the simplicity of anime, which has the ability to communicate complex expressions; which is why I decided to add some exaggerated facial features (big eyes and eyebrows).  Now that I am done, I am very happy with the end result and hope that I will be able to improve on my skills in the future.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Air Jordan III CDP black/cement

In having to describe my feelings towards this sneaker I would say the concept of yin yang is most appropriate.  While there is a lot of good in the sneaker, there is also a lot of bad as well.  To start on a positive note, the good would have to be the release of yet another retro III, especially the black cement version.  That in itself isn’t saying very much for this 2008 retro, because the III is already a beautiful piece of art.  The elephant print, the black tumbled leather, the visible air unit, the Jumpman logo on the tongue, and the silhouette will always combine to make this a masterpiece.
Yet once you start judging this CDP III version and compare it with past releases you can only focus on the negative.   The bad qualities of this version include; a paint job that can crack easily, the substitution of a Jumpman logo on the back heel instead of Nike Air, the down grading of leather, and the outrageous fact that it came as part of a package deal that included a retro pair of disgustingly ugly Air Jordan XX’s.  I sometimes feel awkward criticizing Jordan Brand because it represents so many things that I valued so much when I was a child; and now to even have the chance to own them I should feel grateful.  But I don’t, and I blame it all on how the company is being run today and over the past few years.
The Air Jordan Countdown Packages are a perfect example of how I hate what Jordan Brand has become.  Their sneakers are now over-produced, cheaply made, not true to the original, and poorly constructed.  Unfortunately this has led me to lose my passion for these once beloved sneakers.  But as started in the beginning with the yin yang metaphor, when I do feel less enthusiasm for the brand I try to get back to the positive by focusing on why I still believe Air Jordans are the best sneakers in the world.  I simply lace up a pair I haven’t worn in a while, go outside and enjoy the day.  The sneakers are still very comfortable, and always make a positive statement wherever I go.  Sometimes the best way to get the most out of your sneakers is by wearing them and not focusing on the minor details; that way you’ll always have more white than black in your yin yang passion for sneakers.
Jordan Brand: