XKCD Explains Global Warming — Now Shut Up About The Cold

XKCD: coldOnce again, XKCD cuts through the crap and with a few stick figures and a graph makes climate science sensible. And scary.

If you want to know if this thing about the climate generally being warmer applies to Saskatchewan (it does) you can get a thorough look at our local climate context in The New Normal from the University of Regina Press. And if you don’t have time to read a dense, academic text this morning, we reviewed it and interviewed one of the co-editors, David Sauchyn, back in Nov. 2010.

Or They Could Have Called Whitworth …

Someone in the Defense ministry has got a make work project.

OTTAWA – Defence researchers spent almost $14,000 on a survey that asked whether superheroes can leap over skyscrapers.

The study for the research arm of National Defence also asked 150 people online whether superheroes can fly through the air; see through walls; hear whispers from miles away; become invisible; and walk through walls.

The oddball questions were part of a short study completed in October to help the Canadian Forces “win the hearts and minds” of the local populations it faces when deployed overseas, such as recently in Afghanistan.

I think I’m going to lie down for a while.

Happening Now: Book Signing, Art Show And Fun Timez

Elaine WillSaskatoon cartoonist Elaine Will is at ComicReaders downtown (2115 11th Ave.) signing copies of her book, Look Straight Ahead. She’s there RIGHT NOW. I haven’t read it yet but it’s about a bullied teenage artist, which sounds like a good topic to me. She’s at the store until 7:00.

Also: ComicReaders has an opening tonight with lots of nerd-themed original art. I hear that reclusive Regina doodler/very occasional Prairie Dog contributor Puty has a drawing in the show called “Godzilla Vs. Fancy Feast”, which several people have politely described as being “very nice”. There’s lots of other stuff too. The art opening runs from 7:00 to 9:30, so if you time it right you can get a copy of Elaine’s book AND see the art.

The show runs until Nov. 7, and all the art is for sale.

Jeet Heer And Francois Mouly

Jeet Heer, author of In Love With Art.

Cultural journalist/critic Jeet Heer launches his new book, In Love With Art: François Mouly’s Adventures In Comics With Art Spiegelman at Chapters tonight. Maybe you should go. Why? First, Jeet Heer is a big deal — he’s a brilliant writer who has penned articles for The Guardian, The Walrus, The Globe And Mail, The National Post and other notable outlets. He’s supercool, he lives in Regina and this is your chance to meet him. Second, his subject, François Mouly is an even bigger deal. Mouly, along with her husband Art Spiegelman (author of the Pulitzer prize-winning comic Maus)  is the founder of Raw, the seminal 1980s New York-based anthology of art comics. Raw introduced readers to alternative cartoonists including Chris Ware, Charles Burns, Julie Doucet, Lynda Barry and Spiegelman (along with household-ish names like Robert Crumb and Alan Moore).

There was a segment on Raw in Ron Mann’s eeexcellent 1988 documentary Comic Book Confidential, which some noble pirate had kindly uploaded to YouTube for me to share, here:

(The whole documentary’s worth seeing, and it’s at the library.)

Mouly is also The New Yorker’s longtime art director, and she’s responsible for more than a few of that mag’s iconic covers, like this and this and this.

Vanda interviewed Jeet for this issue and you can read that here. The fun starts at 7:00 tonight. Maybe see you there!

Hnetflix: Tatiana Maslany Joins Captain Canuck Cartoon

HnetflixIt seems that the star of Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany has signed on voice a character in the upcoming animated web series adaptation of Captain Canuck. According to the Hollywood Reporter Maslany is voicing an unspecified role. The role of Captain Canuck will be voiced by Kris Holden-Reid, who plays a werewolf on the Showcase television series Lost Girl.

The article also mentions that Mind’s Eye Entertainment is also working on a live action movie based on Captain Canuck. It seems that Mind’s Eye announced this back in 2011 and hasn’t made much progress since. That could be a good thing. There is a nostalgic cult following for the good captain. There isn’t a lot of Canadian superheros out there but I was never that interested in a Captain America knock-off. The comics weren’t very good either but that isn’t say that good cartoon or movie couldn’t be made about Captain Canuck, I just kind of doubt it.

A Dog In A Cape

Over at Slate, Glen Weldon, author of the recently released Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, has posted an “unedited transcript” of a phone conversation between him and his editor:

Editor: Glen, who are you writing this book for? Who exactly is this person in your head who’s prepared to wade through 13 pages about Superman’s dog? It’s you, isn’t it?

Weldon: OK, let me just stop you right there. I think I see the issue. You are talking about Krypto as if he’s just a dog. He’s not just a dog, Eric.

Editor: Here we go.

Weldon: He is a dog …

Editor: “ … in a cape.”

Weldon: Yes, he is a dog in a cape, Eric. And that … that is awesome. OK? Empirically so. That’s just science. I mean … did you read that section? Really read it?

Editor: Oh, I read it. All 13 pa …

Weldon: Because it doesn’t sound like you really read it.

What follows is a stirring argument for the importance of Superman’s super pet, as if the argument needed to be made.

I was hanging out with my sister’s three dogs yesterday — one still a pup who was so excited about playing that he peed on the couch — and would argue that most all dogs are empirically awesome, let alone one who built himself a Doghouse of Solitude in space.

Once More Into The Breach

Avengers 10With all that’s been happening in the world lately it feels a little weird to discuss this but it’s not everyday that Regina gets featured in a comic book.

Way back in December Marvel Comics relaunched their Avengers title with a brand new series. In the first issue The Avengers are fighting an evil space bad guy, Ex Nihilo, who has launched a couple of missiles at Earth. They hit Perth, Australia and Regina, Canada. In that issue Regina is only mentioned. Nothing is actually shown. We wrote about it when the issue came out.

Well in today’s issue of the Avengers, #10 to be precise, the Avengers return to Regina to see what happened.

Continue reading “Once More Into The Breach”

McFadzean Shortlisted For Slate Prize (Updated)

The last time we blogged about Regina cartoonist and Prairie Dog illustrator, Dakota McFadzean, it was to note how he’d won a Schuster award for his comic Ghost Rabbit. And I didn’t mention it in that post, but back in August his work also appeared in the prestigious, Best American Comic anthology for 2012 alongside comic masters such as Charles Burns, Chris Ware and Jaime Hernandez.

Well, the accolades keep pouring in for him. Just found out his online daily strip, The Dailies, has been shortlisted for Slate magazine’s Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic of 2012. (That’s a sample of the strip above.)

Congratulations once again, Dakota. It’s well deserved. And if you haven’t checked out The Dailies, you really, really should.

UPDATE: Winston Rowntree, who does the also excellent webcomic Subnormality and also happens to be on the shortlist for the same Studio Prize, left a comment below to say congrats to Dakota. And then he mentioned that he is also from Regina. As Winston says, “that’s a tremendously strong showing for Regina-related comix people!” Seems the YQR is kicking all sorts of comic butt.

Mars Dude Bombs Regina!

Some kind of reboot of The Avengers just arrived in comic stores and something terrible has happened. Perth, Australia and Regina — presumably this Regina — have been destroyed by awful villains. Oh no!

Prairie dog movie listings guy Shane Hnetka, who works at Comic Readers, alerted city authorities in an e-mail this morning:

I’ve always supported Jonathan Hickman. I push Manhattan Projects, The Nightly News, etc. like crazy. So I’m reading his big relaunch of The Avengers #1, minding my own business, enjoying the big-scale story about some sort of evil scientist alien messing with Mars and sending bombs to Earth, when Hickman casually kills all of us off. That’s right. Evil aliens have bombed Regina of all places. We don’t even get a meaning scene drawn in the comic, just a brief mention.

“The first two bombs hit Perth and Regina. That’s almost two million people,”  says Bruce Banner.

A quick Wikipedia search shows that 1,800,000 people live in Perth and 200,000 live in Regina so I guess that’s two million people but what the fuck? Don’t aliens usually attack New York and L.A.? I doubt it was ever shown in any comic but now Regina no longer exists in the new Marvel Now universe. Fuckers.

Yikes! Prairie dog will get to the bottom of this. Don’t you worry.

R.I.P., Spain Rodriguez

One of the great underground cartoonists of the 1960’s counterculture scene that also produced Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton (Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers) has passed away in San Francisco. In the 1960s, Spain Rodriguez was the epitome of the “fuck the man” angry revolutionary. He despised capitalism, the rich, racism and sexism and expressed his extremely blunt perspectives in Zap Comix and many other places. As happens, he mellowed somewhat as he aged but never lost his politics or morality, or love for life. You can find his artistic DNA in a lot of very, very good cartoonists, including Joe Sacco (Safe Area Goražde) and the Hernadez brothers (Love And Rockets), and really, I can’t see how he couldn’t have influenced Crumb.

Spain was 72 and had battled cancer for six years. You can read his obituary here and The Comics Journal has a more in-depth piece here. He was an important dude. Rest in piece.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call: Save Us From The Gin Monster

In this episode, we kick off a new segment called “Shane Is Baffled.” What is Shane baffled about this week? How to vote in the October 24 city election as it turns out. So, to answer Shane’s many questions, we interview Joni Swidnicki, the city’s chief returning officer.

Yeah. We don’t know how long this segment will stick around. But the interview is really informative and if you’re at all confused by or curious about changes to election procedures, this will answer your questions.

After that, prairie dog scribe, Katherine Norton, is in the podcast chalet to discuss the boundary commission that recently wrapped up its work in Regina. Why does Saskatchewan need urban-only ridings? Kat can explain.

Lastly, comics awards season recently ended and there were some big Saskatchewan winners (and one near winner). Shane has all the details.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call – Save Us From The Gin Monster: At the table, Stephen Whitworth, Shane Hnetka, Katherine Norton and me as guest host. Runtime 46 min. Music by the Lazy MKs.

xkcd’s Latest Work Of Mad Genius

I’ve mentioned the webcomic xkcd on here before. In short, it’s briliant despite being built almost exclusively around stick figures and simple line drawings. Or maybe it’s brilliant because of that.

WHATEVER. Anything I type here is just stalling you for a few more nanoseconds from checking out his latest installment, “Click & Drag.” It’s a masterpiece of interactive internet doohickery.

Dakota McFadzean Wins A Shuster

At the Joe Shuster Awards ceremony in Montreal today, local cartoonist Dakota McFadzean won The Gene Day Award for Self-Publishers for his comic Ghost Rabbit.

In addition to his self publishing and other comics-related work, Dakota has been a regular contributor to prairie dog. He’s done like 20 or something covers over the years — all of which rank among my Top 6 prairie dog covers of all time (don’t do the math) — countless interior illos and he’s recently been doing a regular comic in the back pages.

I’m a huge fan of his work and it’s been a serious honour to have him illustrate some of the pieces I’ve written.

So, I can’t say I’m surprised he won this and I suspect there are more and bigger honours coming.

Congratulations, Dakota.

The Mayor Who Wasn’t There Is Still Here!

Going by what drunk people say to me in pubs, our Aug. 9 Bonus Column “The Mayor Who Wasn’t There” was a sleeper hit.

Bonus Columns — articles about random crap that usually run in prairie dog’s front end — aren’t published online (yet) but some of you guys seem to want this one to stick on your fridges (like people used to do with comics clipped from newspapers in the olden days). You can’t get a newsprint copy of it anymore but hey! Here’s a link to a downloadable, print-uppable PDF.

Dakota McFadzean’s caricature of Pat Fiacco is one for the ages. We’ll keep this up on the right-hand side of prairiedogmag.com until after the civic election.

Feel free to download it for fridge-magnet posterity!

And by the way, if you love Dakota’s stuff, he also has a comic in every issue of prairie dog. But you knew that, right? Oh, and he has a website. With more comics!

Whedon’s Coming Back

It’s no big surprise, but it is a bit of pleasant news. Joss Whedon will be returning to the Marvel Universe as writer/director of the sequel to The Avengers. That’s awesome. He took what could’ve been a clusterfuck and made a wonderfully-fun movie out of it.

Prairie dog film reviewer Jorge Ignacio Castillo had nice things to say about Whedon’s work in his review of the movie:

Kudos to writer/director/geek god Joss Whedon for going beyond simple personality issues to explain the tensions within the group. Half of the Avengers like structure and find sense in following orders, while the other half has had their very existences threatened by authority.

In other Avengers-related news, ComicsAlliance is wondering whether Marvel Studios is trying to get control of major baddie Galactus from Fox, who have the film rights to the character along with a lot of others related to the Fantastic Four.

Reactions To The Aurora, Colorado Shooting

From Glen Weldon at NPR

No reason will satisfy; no reason can, because the act occurred in reason’s absence. We are left in its wake to guess and blame and, ultimately, finally, helplessly, to mourn.

Batman didn’t create this act of random violence. In a very real sense, he exists to help us respond to it.

From Dana Stevens at Slate:

Nolan’s Batman trilogy has proceeded on the assumption that what happens on the screen in some way reflects what’s happening in the world, that fantasy and reality are mutually permeable—this is what makes his movies function as political allegories, if at times muddled ones. Why shouldn’t we assume the reverse is true as well—that the grim, violent fantasies we gather to consume as a culture have some power to bleed over from the screen into real life?

And ComicsAlliance posts this image that’s been floating around online all day.

Review: Slick Amazing Spider-Man looks for an identity of its own

The business of making superhero movies is hitting a new wall: Rebooting. Every time a franchise restarts, the team behind it must find a new way to tell a well-known story. For every success (Batman Begins) there are a couple of failures: It took Marvel three tries to get the Hulk right.

The Amazing Spider-Man sits in the top third of the class. Director Mark Webb succeeds in finding new angles in the story but falters whenever purportedly tries to one-up Sam Raimi’s trilogy. Spidey’s newest incarnation has abandonment issues, a rebel streak and, more impressively, actually moves like an arachnid.

The basics are the same: High-school dweeb Peter Parker (a standout Andrew Garfield) is bitten by a genetically modified spider and develops an uncanny ability to climb walls, among other skills (superhuman strength, acute sixth sense, costume design prowess). Feeling almighty, Parker becomes arrogant, but his unintended participation in his uncle’s murder sends him in the path of righteousness.

His first hurdle is Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans, Anonymous), a former colleague of his dad in a quest to regrow his maimed right arm using lizard DNA. Instead of acquiring a new extremity, Connors becomes a giant reptile with apocalyptic designs (the perils of self-medication).

There is also a back-story regarding the mysterious death of Peter’s parents that should feed upcoming sequels. Parker’s dad, a scientist employed by the ethically-challenged Oscorp Industries,  was allegedly killed in a plane crash shortly after making mayor headway in cross species genetics. Did he experimented on his son?

In order to differentiate itself from the Raimi-Maguire romps, The Amazing Spider-Man drops all the earnestness of the original trilogy. The new Peter Parker is better acquainted with irony and one-liners. Hardcore fans will appreciate that the love interest is historically accurate Gwen Stacy (a winning Emma Stone) as opposed to Mary Jane Watson. Also, it’s Parker himself who develops the wrist web-shooters (Raimi went ‘organic’, to the chagrin of some comic-book lovers).

It should be noted that Mark Webb’s previous effort was the lovely (500) Days of Summer. The relationship between Peter and Gwen is singularly poignant, and the undeniable chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone adds an extra oomph to what it could have been a perfunctory love connection. Garfield and Stone succeed at portraying teenagers in conflict with their raging hormones, an aspect completely amiss in previous Spidey films.

The action scenes -a requirement in any summer tentpole- seem somewhat forced. As slick as the film looks, the webslinger’s tussles with the villain du jour are never as exciting as the runaway train sequence in Spider-Man 2. It doesn’t help Rhys Ifans is replaced by an all-CGI creature for the climatic fight. The pathos and likability Ifans injects to the character is nowhere to be found under layers and layers of pixels. There is something to be said about actors in villain customes: Their humanity is irreplaceable.

The Amazing Spider-Man may be a necessary movie, an entertaining way to set up Spidey to spring in new directions in 2014. Just one tip: Synchronized construction cranes are kind of goofy.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call: Heteronormativity

The plan this week was to talk about Prometheus (in light of Ridley Scott wrecking the Alien franchise with it) and the likely fate of Connaught school (in light of a report that makes it sound like the building is beyond repair and needs a good wrecking).

That was it. It was going to be a short, easy to consume episode.

But things went a little off the rails.

For a fuller list of topics, here are my show notes:
Prometheus and why it sucks
– blah blah blah, eldritch horrors
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer, why?
– Can Con suggestions for the “historical figures fighting monsters” subgenre
– Bruno Gerussi
the Amazing Spiderman
Moonrise Kingdom not coming to Regina, WTF?
Chipwrecked is gone, finally, Shane is happy
– Rainbow cinemas going digital!
Dark Knight Rises Imax event in Regina
– we blame everything on Jorge
Watchmen vs Before Watchmen, fight!
– and now we talk about a school board meeting and you get topic whiplash
– Glen Elm school vs Haultain — winner gets students, loser gets the wrecking ball
– Imperial school vs McDermid — same deal
– Connaught School, will it get torn down? (Yeah, very likely)
– the 21st Century classroom
– repurposing Mosaic Stadium as the ultimate open-concept school

And that was it. More or less.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call s02 e05 – Heteronormativity: At the table Aidan Morgan (host), Shane Hnetka and Paul Dechene. Music by the Lazy MKs. Runtime: 59 min 16 sec.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call: Blaze Of Glory

This week on prairie dog‘s “official” (in the most generous sense of the term) podcast, we take a long hard look at DC Comics’ “Before Watchmen” series of “comics”.

Then, special guest, Martin Gourlie of Regina Urban Ecology joins us in our ultra-ritz podcasting chalet to discuss this year’s Jane’s Walk.

Then Aidan recounts his adventures at the German Club’s Spargelfest and gives us a rundown of dinner at Simmer Hotpot Restaurant.

We also take a look at Joss Whedon’s Cabin In The Woods, and Aidan and I wind up totally spoiling it for Martin and Shane. Ha ha. We’re such jerks.

Ultrasonic Alarm Call — Blaze Of Glory: At the table, Aidan Morgan (host), Shane Hnetka, Paul Dechene and guest, Martin Gourlie. Music by the Lazy MKs. Runtime 45 min.

To download the episode, click the radio or the link above. And be sure to check out our archive of past episodes.