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Crane and Panes, Their Lines Entwined

Indianapolis crane

Crewman tinkering with a sign on the Capital Center in downtown Indianapolis this morning.

Today while on my weekly walk to and from my local comic shop, I paused for thought in front of this scene while waiting on the WALK signal to reappear and let me get back to work. I looked up, saw the crane stretching its arm across the building, itself a series of crisscrosses and crosshatching all over. I wondered how many total points of perspective a comic book artist would require to reproduce such a scene on their art board, how many lines would intersect how many times, whether or not artists still use T-squares or protractors to create or replicate precise angles, whether or not they even use rulers, whether there are young upstarts in the world who will one day draw comics without having owned or even touched any of those items, whether it would be easier to draw on a PC or a Cintiq or one of those newfangled Super-Etch-a-Sketch monitor-shaped computers ending in “-pad”, whether the artist would be ambitious enough to draw everything themselves or if they would sketch in a few diamonds and then email the colorist and beg them to do all the heavy lifting for them, how many of today’s colorists have been stuck in worse situations inserting more complicated linework for lower pay than the penciler receives, if this division of labor is harder to keep peaceful than it used to be back in the day when colorists only had Day-Glo dots in their toolkit and virtually nothing else, whether or not any colorists alive actually miss the dot system, if 22nd-century kids will have the foggiest clue what Roy Lichtenstein was up to, how far into the future Pop Art will still be a thing, whether this would make Warhol happy or sad, whether we should add the Andy Warhol Museum to our 2018 road trip itinerary since it looks like we’ll be passing through Pittsburgh for our third time, whether or not I have enough energy tonight to delve more into our vacation planning, and which is more important: writing lots of paragraphs or going to bed early so sleep deprivation doesn’t further damage my aging systems.

Eventually the WALK light did its one job and interrupted my reverie. I shuffled away from the web of lines that had caught my attention for that brief yet eternal moment, returned to my job, and tried not to spend the rest of my day exactly like I just did above, rambling and rambling and rambling like one of those great old Dead Milkmen album tracks like “Stuart”.

These are the kinds of thoughts I dwell on when I’m trying to be patient when a stoplight is holding me back during a week when I’ve slept very, very poorly.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 15: Sandwich Kings

Giant Mac!

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. But colossally so in “the world’s largest Big Mac”.

The end is nigh! The miniseries is nearly finished, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t cover some food along the way. On past trips we stuck to smaller meal budgets and didn’t bother to record most of our meals, in this bygone era before the Instagram foodie-photo fad. Every so often, though, a restaurant here and there would stand out to us — sometimes for the food, sometimes for other reasons.

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“Ready Player One”: The Movie Based on the Book Based on the Lists Based on the Collections

Ready Player Cyclops!

A grimdark timeline in which the only survivor of X-Men: Apocalypse was Cyclops.

Everyone loves crossovers! Who doesn’t get excited every time two to 10,000 pop culture characters of varying degrees of familiarity get stuffed into the same frames or panels and generate mechanical synergy for the amusement of fans and the enrichment of corporations? As a young teen collector of both Marvel and DC Comics I was bedazzled by the one-two punch of Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, each of which tossed piles of IPs into dogpiles and let them take turns teaming up and punching each other into oblivion. This brilliant concept in apocalyptic storytelling wowed me at the time, but began losing steam over the decades as all the other annual Marvel and DC crossover events kept (and keep) producing diminishing returns for increasingly transparent financial cravings. Meanwhile in other media, we had the innovative novelty of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and mash-ups like Kingdom Hearts, Soul Calibur, and Super Smash Bros. We had obscurities like Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, while the previous generation arguably had their own predecessor in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Despite the amount of behind-the-scenes wrangling involved, the method is simple: pick lots of famous faces that each have had tons of stories and years of character development dedicated to them, cultivated by their creators and successors with some combination of time and care; strip away everything from them but their outer shell and a one-line descriptor of their most superficial traits; throw everyone into an arbitrary arena; make them fight and fight and fight; then, profit. Hurray! It’s a crossover!

To those who love crossovers and other spectacles a la Battle of the Network Stars, by all means keep loving what you love. After a couple decades or more of them, they’re not an automatic draw for me.

And don’t get me started on the crossover’s close cousin, the whole “Easter egg” fetish that’s become a mandatory element of every geek-related product ever, to the point that viewers spend so much time expecting recognizable tokens and high-fiving each other for spotting them that they become the point of purchase and the only reason to pay attention. Some works are so oversaturated with Easter eggs, they’re less like a narrative and more like an extended Highlight for Children “Hidden Pictures” puzzle.

That brings us to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, adapting the novel by Ernest Cline that I couldn’t bring myself to touch after reading a lacerating review of its nostalgic self-indulgence that gave me more than enough signifiers to tell me it was Not My Thing. As if that weren’t enough, someone on Twitter (I wish I could remember who or in which recent month) shared numerous excerpts from the novel that confirmed it’s entirelty about the hero name-checking, listing, and pumping himself up with his never-ending stream of collector callback consciousness. Unless someone wants to pay me to bypass my gut reaction, count me among the viewers who saw the movie but didn’t and won’t read the book.

Frankly, I only saw the movie because I knew friends or family would ask me about it. In their defense and to my surprise, I’ll give them this: Ready Player One was a lot less anathematic to me than The Big Bang Theory.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 14: Philly Prison Blues

Cellblocks Above + Below!

The photos you’re about to see come from a place where several reality shows have filmed their stars pretending to chase ghosts and failing to catch any.

We had time for one last stop before we exited the Philadelphia area. Anne loves American history. I love places with exotic feels and/or unique architecture. So we compromised and went to jail for it.

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Return to Gino’s East: A C2E2 2018 Side Quest Gallery

CHICAGO!

Once more, with pizza.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: two weekends ago my wife Anne and I traveled once again to the wondrous wilds of Chicago for another round of conventioning at C2E2, with a Friday night intermission for dinner at Gino’s East, one of the city’s many, generally fine pizzerias. The walk through the brisk, freezing winds wasnt my favorite thing, but the food and my companion were worth it. While I’m trying to juggle an eventful week here in the now and get my head back into the proper writing space, please enjoy this selection of photos from the experience. It wasn’t our first time there, but this meal was a blessedly stratospheric leap in quality over last time.

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Our 2010 Road Trip, Part 13: Streets of Philadelphia

Art Museum + Horseman!

The Philadelphia Museum of Art looked fabulous from a distance on a trolley that wasn’t stopping.

Some of our road trips simply needed more days that what we allotted. We thought we’d learned that lesson on our 2005 drive to San Antonio, when we spent more time in the car than we did on foot in Texas, because their state is like a separate continent compared to home. Our trip to Philadelphia encountered similar issues but for a different reason. We’d found so many interesting sights to see near Philly that we barely left any time for the city itself. We’re considering making up some of that lost time in this summer’s vacation. At the time, though, we did what we could with the moments we had.

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