REVIEW: ORIGINAL SIN #0
Marvel’s big summer crossover event is about to kick off in the form of Original Sin, a murder mystery in which one of Marvel’s most ominous characters gets assassinated - The Watcher. The killer even goes as far as stealing his eyeballs and raiding his home on the moon of all kinds of deadly weapons and celestial doohickeys.
But this is a zero issue, so it’s still just laying the groundwork for all the exciting murdery stuff to come when issue #1 drops on May 7th. Consider this an appetizer to the main course.
AWESOME:
If you’re new to comics or aren’t all too familiar with the current state of Marvel, Original Sin #0 does a terrific job at easing you into the proverbial saddle. We get some back story on Sam Alexander, a fifteen year old kid and newest hero to take on the mantle of Nova, a character that I’m admittedly only vaguely familiar with. Thankfully, the gist of his origin story is eloquently summed up in the first three pages. We also get a slightly retold backstory behind Uatu, The Watcher.
For a superhero story, this is filled with some truly great character moments. You have this kid with superpowers who is searching for his father and the only person he can turn to for answers is The Watcher - a being who observes, but doesn’t intervene. My absolute favorite moment is when Sam flies to the moon to visit Uatu and brings him a gift. It’s just this really sweet human moment that helps ground these characters and their relationship. Superhero comics need more of this sort of thing.
The art by Jim Cheung and Paco Medina are pitch perfect for this sort of story. Everything is bold, cinematic, and most of, super crisp. One weird thing I noticed was that there are five separate inkers credited in this book. FIVE INKERS!!! I don’t even know how that happened, but I almost wonder if some of the inking was done digitally for how super clean all the linework is.
NOT AWESOME
Being a #0 issue meant to lay groundwork for the rest of the series, this doesn’t have a huge cast of A-list characters or nearly the amount of action that most readers would expect from a blockbuster summer event from Marvel. I personally loved the more character-driven quality in the story, but I’d expect some people could be turned off by it. That being said, me and those people could probably never be friends in real life.
All in all, I really dug Original Sin #0 and can’t wait for the next eight issues. I’m usually turned off by scrappy young teenage heroes, but I found myself surprisingly drawn to the Sam Alexander character. All I know is, that poor kid’s going to have a tough time coping when his buddy The Watcher gets shot to death and has his eyeballs ripped out.

REVIEW: ORIGINAL SIN #0

Marvel’s big summer crossover event is about to kick off in the form of Original Sin, a murder mystery in which one of Marvel’s most ominous characters gets assassinated - The Watcher. The killer even goes as far as stealing his eyeballs and raiding his home on the moon of all kinds of deadly weapons and celestial doohickeys.

But this is a zero issue, so it’s still just laying the groundwork for all the exciting murdery stuff to come when issue #1 drops on May 7th. Consider this an appetizer to the main course.

AWESOME:

  • If you’re new to comics or aren’t all too familiar with the current state of Marvel, Original Sin #0 does a terrific job at easing you into the proverbial saddle. We get some back story on Sam Alexander, a fifteen year old kid and newest hero to take on the mantle of Nova, a character that I’m admittedly only vaguely familiar with. Thankfully, the gist of his origin story is eloquently summed up in the first three pages. We also get a slightly retold backstory behind Uatu, The Watcher.
  • For a superhero story, this is filled with some truly great character moments. You have this kid with superpowers who is searching for his father and the only person he can turn to for answers is The Watcher - a being who observes, but doesn’t intervene. My absolute favorite moment is when Sam flies to the moon to visit Uatu and brings him a gift. It’s just this really sweet human moment that helps ground these characters and their relationship. Superhero comics need more of this sort of thing.
  • The art by Jim Cheung and Paco Medina are pitch perfect for this sort of story. Everything is bold, cinematic, and most of, super crisp. One weird thing I noticed was that there are five separate inkers credited in this book. FIVE INKERS!!! I don’t even know how that happened, but I almost wonder if some of the inking was done digitally for how super clean all the linework is.

NOT AWESOME

  • Being a #0 issue meant to lay groundwork for the rest of the series, this doesn’t have a huge cast of A-list characters or nearly the amount of action that most readers would expect from a blockbuster summer event from Marvel. I personally loved the more character-driven quality in the story, but I’d expect some people could be turned off by it. That being said, me and those people could probably never be friends in real life.

All in all, I really dug Original Sin #0 and can’t wait for the next eight issues. I’m usually turned off by scrappy young teenage heroes, but I found myself surprisingly drawn to the Sam Alexander character. All I know is, that poor kid’s going to have a tough time coping when his buddy The Watcher gets shot to death and has his eyeballs ripped out.

9 LESSONS LEARNED FROM LAST NIGHT’S GAME OF THRONES
Spoilers and intense moments of fandom ahead.
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The Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere was entitled “Two Swords” and not just because of the dude-on-dude action in the beginning. Let’s recap the episode with some important lessons learned.
1. A NEW ERA HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN IN WESTEROS.







The episode opens with Tywin Lannister melting down Ned Stark’s Valyrian sword and burning his wolf pelt. The melted steel is used to forge two new swords - one of which is given to Jaimie Lannister. Oh, and it all happens while “The Rains of Castemere” plays in the background. Saying that this scene seems a bit symbolic would be a vulgar understatement.
2. NEVER CALL A DORNISHMAN A GOAT F*CKER.
Random Lannister shmo: “Why are you wasting a woman like this on a Dornishman? Bring him a shaved goat and a bottle of olive oil.”
Followed by:
 
 

And let us not forget…



3. DAENERYS NEEDS TO GET HER SHIT TOGETHER.


We first see the Khaleesi having a hardcore cuddle sesh with one of her dragons as the other two fight over a carcass in the sky. Then they bring the carcass down and all three go H.A.M. on it. When Dany goes to pet her cuddle buddy, it violently snaps at her, nearly taking off her head. Jorah Mormont reminds her that dragons are dangerous and can’t be tamed. She asks him where Grey Worm and Daario Naharis are. Turns out, they’re gambling in a weird stand-off game of who-can-hold-a-sword-longer. Dammit, Dany, your dragons are out of control and the two main dudes of your army are gambling when they should be protecting your fine ass. Get your shit together, woman!
4. THE CASTING DIRECTOR WAS DRUNK
Yup, we got Aunt Vivian’d. Check out Daaro Naharis in Season 3.

Aaaand check out the replacement actor. You can barely tell which one is which!

"Sorry I don’t look as bad-ass as I did last season. Here’s some flowers."
5. BITCHES BE TRIPPIN’.

Sansa Stark not only had to marry Tyrion Lannister, but she recently found out that her family was slaughtered at a certain wedding. She’s being a real drag about it and it’s kind of bringing me down. At least a drunk guy gave her a necklace.
 
Poor Shay tries getting kinky with Tyrion on his new bride’s bed (scandalous!) while she’s out being depressed, but he’s just not feeling it, what with his nephew the king wanting to murder him,  his wife hating him because his father had her family murdered, and Oberin Martel wants to murder anyone who’s last name is Lannister.





Then, Tyrion’s big brother Jaime tries getting kinky with his twin sister Cerci, but she’s still mad at him for getting kidnapped and taking too long to come home. Bitch be trippin’.
6. “ARYA AND THE HOUND” WOULD MAKE AN EXCELLENT SPIN-OFF SHOW
 


7. DON’T PISS THE HOUND OFF WHEN HE’S HUNGRY.


"I understand that if anymore words come pouring out your cunt mouth, I’m gonna have to eat every fucking chicken in this room." - The Hound
8. DON’T PISS ARYA STARK OFF, PERIOD.

9. THENNS MAKE TERRIBLE BARBECUE GUESTS.

9 LESSONS LEARNED FROM LAST NIGHT’S GAME OF THRONES

Spoilers and intense moments of fandom ahead.

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REVIEW - CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Guess who saw an early screening of Winter Soldier and had his mind completely blown away. This guy.
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I grew up a Marvel kid. I was mostly into Spider-Man and the X-Men universe. For some reason, the more straight-laced heroes like Iron-Man and Captain America were too boring and goody-goody for my super edgy 10-year-old tastes. I eventually got more into Image Comics and random other indie stuff, but I’d always go back to Marvel just to see what was up.
Then Iron-Man came out in theaters. It took a character I’d previously thought of as boring and turned him into a lovable, cocky, smart-ass version of Bruce Wayne. Then Captain America: The First Avenger was announced. Was it possible that Cap on screen could be more interesting than the corny whitebread Cap I remember from the 90’s?
Sort of.
Captain America was an alright movie (aside from the distractingly weird Skinny Steve Rogers), but it felt too montage-y — like they were trying to pack in too much. I’ve seen it about 5 times and still don’t remember most of what happens in the third act. That’s where my brain just switches off and I just stop caring.
But then Avengers (a.k.a. the greatest superhero movie of all time. Fight me.) came out followed by the trailers for Winter Soldier making it look all intense and epic, like Marvel’s version of Dark Knight Rises. And that’s basically what it is, but better.
The first bit of the film is just one giant awesome espionage scene on a ship that plays out like a stealth action game. Then some serious shit goes down, peeps can’t be trusted, and Cap and friends set out to right wrongs by punching faces and blowing things up.
Without spoiling anything, I can say that the choreography of not just the hand-to-hand combat, but the action sequences as a whole, are easily the best of any Marvel movie to date. The camera zooms and spins between Falcon dodging bullets in the sky, cars exploding into the air, Cap taking on swarms of dudes on the ground, and then there’s Nick Fury and Black Widow espionage stuff. It’s SO. DAMN. GOOD!
I feel like Chris Evans plays a way better Steve Rogers this time around. He has more of the character to work with. He misses his past, he feels betrayed by the government that he strove so hard to fight for in the first film, and he’s at a point where there’s really no one he can trust.
Anthony Mackie does as much as he can with the role. His character, Falcon, is introduced as a stand-up guy that Steve views as a trustworthyfellow soldier. He eventually becomes the only person he can turn to and is reduced to little more than a really cool device for action scenes and spouting the occasional campy one-liner while a majority of the real talking is left to the grown-ups. To be fair, he plays the role with all the enthusiasm and charm necessary to make the character likeable and it would have been tough to cram in some ridiculous backstory with all the other craziness going on.
Scarlett Johansson definitely takes the Black Widow character to a new level compared to previous films. She’s sort of a hit-or-miss actress for me, but she nailed it this time around. She displays a bad-ass tough chick confidence, but does a terrific job at adding a layer of sadness and vulnerability behind it all.
As for the Winter Soldier, Sebastian Stan freaking KILLS it. He’s menacing as shit and commands each scene he’s in with a vicious and lethal presence. The dude wears a mask covering his mouth for most of the film and has to do most of the acting with his eyes which is way harder than it sounds. I’ve already seen a crazy amount of fangirl swooning on Tumblr about his “OMG poor brainwashed sad guy I want to save” performance, so expect more once the film actually releases. A weird part of me kind of wants to see who gets fangirl’d on harder: Tom Hiddleston as Loki or Sebastian Stan as Winter Soldier. Chicks love tragic-ass bad boys.
What i love is how the whole scope of the film escalates from small-team-of-agents-on-a-boat to holy-shit-everyone-is-bad-everyone-will-die-this-is-epic-as-shit by the end of the second act; the repercussions of which will definitely be felt by the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a crazy degree. It will definitely be interesting to see how Captain America: The Winter Soldier will impact the next few films as well as the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
All in all, Captain America: The Winter Soldier brings a well-balanced mix of action, intrigue, rich character moments, and is complete with all the fanboy inside winks and nods you’d expect from a Marvel film (and a pitch-perfect Pulp Fiction reference for Samuel L. Jackson fans). This film is leaps and bounds greater than the first Captain America and is on the same level as Avengers. If anything, this will definitely get you pumped for Phase 2.

REVIEW - CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Guess who saw an early screening of Winter Soldier and had his mind completely blown away. This guy.

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PLAYING WITH HISTORY: 11 ICONIC PHOTOS GET A SUPERHERO REMIX
For his ongoing “Playing With History” series, Australian graphic artist Kode Logic takes iconic photos from history and pop culture and blends them with everything from X-Men to Mortal Kombat. Take a look.
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PLAYING WITH HISTORY: 11 ICONIC PHOTOS GET A SUPERHERO REMIX

For his ongoing “Playing With History” series, Australian graphic artist Kode Logic takes iconic photos from history and pop culture and blends them with everything from X-Men to Mortal Kombat. Take a look.

Read More

SOMEONE MADE A CUSTOM ADVENTURE TIME MAGIC DECK AND IT’S FLOOPIN’ AWESOME!!!
As a huge nerd for all things Adventure Time and Magic: The Gathering related, my body and soul reacted in unusually provocative ways to this deck of Magic cards altered with Adventure Time art.
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As a die-hard Vorthos (look it up), there’s so much attention to detail to appreciate in these. For instance, the artwork for Ogre Battledriver normally depicts a giant beast whipping his minions to do his bidding. The Adventure Time version, on the other hand, shows Xergiok, the jerkface goblin king who was driven out of his kingdom by Finn and Jake for smacking on goblin hams like the true jerk that he is.
There’s loads of other cool stuff too like Flame Princess as Young Pyromancer, little flame dudes as red elementals, and even Finn wearing Jake like a suit for Titan’s Strength. Check out the gallery below.
















And they even made this super slick playmat to keep the cards looking minty fresh. It’s an homage to the Card Wars episode. 

Speaking of Card Wars, did you know Card Wars is now a real thing you can buy and play with your friends? There’s a Finn vs Jake deck and a BMO vs Lady Rainicorn. They were originally priced around $20, but on account of them being sold out everywhere and everyone wanting them because they’re awesome, expect to pay around $50 for the Finn & Jake one and almost $80 for BMO vs Lady. Craziness.
(via Reddit)

SOMEONE MADE A CUSTOM ADVENTURE TIME MAGIC DECK AND IT’S FLOOPIN’ AWESOME!!!

As a huge nerd for all things Adventure Time and Magic: The Gathering related, my body and soul reacted in unusually provocative ways to this deck of Magic cards altered with Adventure Time art.

Read More

Seven of the Best Film Themed Slot Machines
American poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau once said, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Nothing seems to emphasise the concept of art being all around us quite like the idea of theme based slot machines. With online gambling sites like jackpotjoy Bingo, we find endless examples of fantastically themed slots, although the true art can be found outside of the web, with the ‘read deal’ slot machines. Film themed slots are personally my favourite, deeper analyzing how creators have transformed a film and its complex ideas into a gambling machine is rather interesting. Here are seven of my favourite film themed slot machines.
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The Hangover

With this film taking place in Las Vegas, and with many scenes inside of a casino, The Hangover is an obvious choice for a film based slot machine. In case the symbols, which include a baby, tiger, bloody tooth, liquor and Alan’s infamous man-bag are not enough, the main voiceover that hosts the game is none other than the hilarious Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). What’s not to love?

Star Wars

With one of the greatest followings of movie history, this Star Wars themed slot has three base games that correspond with the three original movies, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. With a large number of images and sounds from the films, this will have any Star Wars fan hooked.

Star Trek

Another film with a massive following, these slots see symbols of iconic characters, such as Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, as well as the legendary Enterprise. Keeping it old-school with sounds and images, the Trekkies are in for a treat.

The Lord of the Rings

Based on Peter Jackson’s movie adaption of Tolkien’s epic book series, this machine takes you on an adventure through Middle Earth, with the breathtaking official soundtrack to keep you company. ‘The Balrog’, ‘Isildur’s Sword’ and ‘Gandalf’s Fireworks’ are only a few of the fantastic bonuses players can choose from.

Indiana Jones

When the iconic Indiana Jones theme song begins to play, everyone in the casino knows that some brave soul has just begun an adventure of wit and bravery. Outsmart the booby-trap-ridden machine, and you’ll be leaving heavy pocketed.

Ghostbusters

Who you gonna call? Slimer? If you are able to ignore the sarcastic teasing and mocking of Slimer, the ghost that leads players through the game, you are definitely in for a treat. With additional graphics, sound effects and the ever-popular theme song, you’ll be a regular ghost buster after your first spin. 

Willy Wonka

Based on the 1971 classic, this slot bring Roald Dahl’s magical chocolate factory to life. With the perfect amount of adventure, theatrics and whimsical characters, this slot will leave you wanting more… chocolate!

By Jason

Seven of the Best Film Themed Slot Machines

American poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau once said, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Nothing seems to emphasise the concept of art being all around us quite like the idea of theme based slot machines. With online gambling sites like jackpotjoy Bingo, we find endless examples of fantastically themed slots, although the true art can be found outside of the web, with the ‘read deal’ slot machines. Film themed slots are personally my favourite, deeper analyzing how creators have transformed a film and its complex ideas into a gambling machine is rather interesting. Here are seven of my favourite film themed slot machines.

Read More

HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR ANIME FANS
With the holiday season upon us, you’re most likely running around in a frenzy trying to figure out the perfect gifts for those in your life. While holiday presents may not be a huge deal to you, it always feels good to get the right item for those you love and care about the most. Although your high maintenance friends and family members may seem like they’d be the hardest to please, those with unique hobbies or fetishes can be even more difficult to shop for. Luckily, anime lovers aren’t that difficult, and there are a variety of cool anime gift ideas to choose from. Here are some anime holiday presents that are sure to please even the most discerning anime fan. 
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Anime Accessories
 Anime is known for its style, and high-quality anime will typically have characters designed by popular artists like Kantoku, Tony Taka, Itaru Hinoue, and Ume Aoki. Therefore, Anime artbooks focusing on a specific series, specific artist, or a mishmash of styles from different series and/or artists can make a great gift for the anime enthusiast in your life, particularly if he or she appreciates animation as an art. For the jewelry-loving anime chick, there is an assortment of anime characters available in a range of jeweled pieces made of actual gold, silver, and diamonds. You may have to shell out some dough to pay for these expensive accessories, but it’s worth it for the glamorous anime fan. While you may not be able to find anime-inspired jewelry items at your local jewelry store, online shops on Etsy carry a bevy of unique anime jewelry pieces.
Anime Viewings
 For anime fans who double as a gamers, a visual novel can be a great present because it combines two things they enjoy. Many romantic comedies and harem anime are based on visual novels, so they’re also good gift for anyone who likes those genres. While visual novels mostly involve reading text, there are some that contain different mini games and others that play more like RPGs. Although most people stream anime videos online, many anime lovers prefer to purchase actual videos that they can add to their collections. Investigate the videos that are on your anime fan’s wish list or visit a fan site for the latest anime videos trending with followers. If your anime addict has a wild side, a saucy anime video or naughty love doll from Adam & Eve is the perfect fun, holiday gift.
Anime Toys
 Toys are huge in anime circles, so they make the easiest presents to give to anyone into anime. Whether you choose small, cheaper items like anime eyes glasses as stocking stuffers or go opt for bigger toys like a play set, there is a plethora of anime toys to choose from. There are loads of websites hocking anime action figures and other toys and collectibles, so purchasing an anime toy may be your best (and easiest) bet. Keep in mind that you may have to do a bit of searching for those most-coveted anime toys and figurines.

HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR ANIME FANS

With the holiday season upon us, you’re most likely running around in a frenzy trying to figure out the perfect gifts for those in your life. While holiday presents may not be a huge deal to you, it always feels good to get the right item for those you love and care about the most. Although your high maintenance friends and family members may seem like they’d be the hardest to please, those with unique hobbies or fetishes can be even more difficult to shop for. Luckily, anime lovers aren’t that difficult, and there are a variety of cool anime gift ideas to choose from. Here are some anime holiday presents that are sure to please even the most discerning anime fan. 

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Limited Edition: Code: Veronica Dreamcast Bundle
If I’m not mistaken, the Dreamcast has the most special editions and variations of any home console. Up there in rarity along with the Maziora Dreamcast and the Seaman Christmas Dreamcast is the Biohazard Code: Veronica Claire Edition, which included a transparent blood red system, a matching controller, a gray VMU with the game’s logo, a special metallic card inside a fancy case, and of course, the limited edition of the game itself. This console was limited to 1,800 pieces and goes for between $740 and $1,000, depending on how many pieces of the bundle are included and their condition.
Sega and Capcom also released a S.T.A.R.S. edition, which was a transparent dark blue and featured a S.T.A.R.S. logo. The Claire version is way sexier, though the S.T.A.R.S. one was much more limited, as only 200 were produced.

Limited Edition: Code: Veronica Dreamcast Bundle

If I’m not mistaken, the Dreamcast has the most special editions and variations of any home console. Up there in rarity along with the Maziora Dreamcast and the Seaman Christmas Dreamcast is the Biohazard Code: Veronica Claire Edition, which included a transparent blood red system, a matching controller, a gray VMU with the game’s logo, a special metallic card inside a fancy case, and of course, the limited edition of the game itself. This console was limited to 1,800 pieces and goes for between $740 and $1,000, depending on how many pieces of the bundle are included and their condition.

Sega and Capcom also released a S.T.A.R.S. edition, which was a transparent dark blue and featured a S.T.A.R.S. logo. The Claire version is way sexier, though the S.T.A.R.S. one was much more limited, as only 200 were produced.

LIMITED EDITION: FINAL FANTASY TACTICS
Limited Edition is a new column that highlights some special editions of games, consoles, and peripherals that you might not have seen before. We’ll kick things off with the Square Millennium Collection version of Final Fantasy Tactics.
This came with the game, playing cards, and a desk clock, all packaged in a classy box. All of the bonuses include art by Akihiko Yoshida, who is known for his work on the series.
Buy: Tactics Ogre Art Book
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LIMITED EDITION: FINAL FANTASY TACTICS

Limited Edition is a new column that highlights some special editions of games, consoles, and peripherals that you might not have seen before. We’ll kick things off with the Square Millennium Collection version of Final Fantasy Tactics.

This came with the game, playing cards, and a desk clock, all packaged in a classy box. All of the bonuses include art by Akihiko Yoshida, who is known for his work on the series.

Buy: Tactics Ogre Art Book

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ALBOTAS.COM’S 2013 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
Looking for some fresh gift ideas? No worries! We got you covered.
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brownkidd’s picks

CRITICAL HIT SHOT GLASS
Perfect for dungeon raids with friends, duels between planeswalkers, or just sipping solo by the fire.
Price: $12

BREAKING BAD: I AM THE DANGER
This visual companion to all five seasons of the greatest scripted drama in television history is the perfect way to relive the best moments from the series if you don’t have time for a Netflix marathon.
PRICE: $12

TREATS! MAGAZINE
Think of it as a more highbrow, artsy-fartsy version of Playboy. Each issue of this quarterly fine art periodical features beautiful photographs of gorgeous women and so much care is put into the design of each issue that it’s more like a coffee table book than an actual magazine.
PRICE: $40 print / $10 digital

SONY SMARTSHOT DIGITAL CAMERA LENSES
Turn your smartphone into a legit cameras with the QX10 and QX100 lenses from Sony. The lenses sync wirelessly to your iOS or Android device and will make all your selfies and cat pics look super pro. Considering the QX100 features the same sensor and lens as Sony’s RX100MII and is a few hundred smackers less, we’d say these give you plenty of bang for your holiday buck.
PRICE: $250 (QX10) | $500 (QX100)

PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE: ONE MAN’S FUNDAMENTALS FOR DELICIOUS LIVING BY NICK OFFERMAN
From the official product description:

Growing a perfect moustache, grilling red meat, wooing a woman—who better to deliver this tutelage than the always charming, always manly Nick Offerman, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson?

'Nuff said.
PRICE: $16

POCKET WATERCOLOR KIT MADE FROM AN ALTOIDS TIN
You can never go wrong with cool handmade shit for the holidays. There’s a buttload of tutorials showing different ways to turn an Altoids tin into a watercolor paint box, but if you’re a bit more adventurous when it comes to crafting, the Altoids Survival Kit, mini flashlight, and portable BBQ are all pretty impressive.
PRICE: Like a few bucks.

HOBONICHI TECHO 2014 DAILY PLANNER
Forget Moleskine, the new go-to cult favorite stationary for creative types is the Hobonichi Techo. This daily planner is fully customizable with heaps of sweet accessories and covers available - and it was designed by Shigesato Itoi, the creator of the Earthbound/Mother series which is also a cult favorite!
PRICE: $25

MOONRISE KINGDOM BLURAY/DVD/DIGITAL COMBO PACK
Wes Anderson is by far the most stylishly unique film directors alive today. While this may not be the best Wes Anderson story, it’s easily his most well-crafted film to date. The characters and setpieces are brilliant, the genius pacing of the story is accompanied by a pitch-perfect score that crescendos into an mighty explosion in the third act. Moonrise Kingdom is a must-have for anyone who appreciates the arts of acting and film making.
PRICE: $35 $20
marc’s picks

AKIRA 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION BLURAY/DVD COMBO
Akira is 25 years old and still looks amazing. The 25th Anniversary Edition Bluray is the best you’re going to get, short of viewing the movie in a theater.
PRICE: $25

S.H. FIGUARTS GREEN RANGER FIGURE
The original Power Rangers toys were incredibly well done for their time. And they were huge, too! This series has even more intricate details and articulation and comes with all sorts of accessories. Currently, the Green Ranger, Pink Ranger, and two versions of the Red Ranger are available, with the rest of the team arriving in 2014.
PRICE: $30


¥3,000 PLAYSTATION NETWORK CARD
There are so many great vintage games on the Japanese PSN. If a game isn’t quite awesome enough that I want to have a physical copy in my collection - or i the physical copy is just too damn expensive — I’ll just pick it up here for way cheaper.
PRICE: $50

(image credit)
1Q84 BY HARUKI MURAKAMI
If you ask me, Haruki Murakami is the best living fiction author. His most recent story sounds as trippy as ever. Put aside some time though. This one clocks in at nearly 1,000 pages.
PRICE: $13
kevin’s picks

ANYTHING FROM HARI KARI
I mean, this is my clothing company. I’m kinda trying to push sales here. If you could buy that one shirt called “The Burger Shirt,” that’d be really cool. Andrew “Angimoto” Douglas, who also works pretty close with Mega64 and Math the Band, made our last batch of shirts and he did an awesome fucking job with them. Seriously, they look incredible in person and they feel great on your body, so it’d be pretty neat if you guys bought a couple of shirts this holiday season for yourself and/or others. And keep in mind I don’t sell shirts at dumb prices so people can afford them, so feel free to buy two Hari Kari shirts for the price of one Supreme garment.
Price: $15-$30


VERY CASUAL BY MICHAEL DEFORGE
In a world where everyone is all too familiar with superheroes like The Hulk, Iron Man, and Batman, it’s hard pushing the idea of originality in comics for folk who don’t read them. I love showing people the weird and insane comics that are constantly being created and take full advantage of the comic book medium altogether, and if I had to choose one staple from 2013 that did just that, it’d be Very Casual by Michael DeForge. This is a gift I’d give to someone who appreciates art and storytelling with an open mind for oozing creativity and sickening unique fantasy, sprinkled with superb black humor.
Price: $13


ZIIIRO SATURN GUNMETAL DIGITAL WATCH
Ziiiro makes a ton of badass watches, but this one uses the word “gunmetal,” to describe its color. Holy shit that’s hot. It looks super future and its digital segments around its face tells you the hour, while the tiny lines toward the center shows you the minutes. If I were a super rad wife, I’d get this for my husband, but I’m not so I’m probably going to get it for myself this holiday season.
Price: $230

…LIKE CLOCKWORK BY QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
The entire year had some amazing music releases from Kanye West, Earl Sweatshirt, Deafheaven, and so many others, but Queens of the Stone Age released an absolute masterpiece called …Like Clockwork back in June that needs to be forever remembered. There’s a really nice double LP set that includes lyrics, and artwork from illustrator, Boneface, for every single song on the record. It looks insanely nice. I grabbed it earlier this year and it’s an absolute essential for a music aficionado that collects vinyl.
Price: $30



HEX GALLERY 13” CONVERTIBLE SLEEVE
Yo this shit is sexy as FUCK. This baby has a pocket for your Macbook Air AND your iPad. It keeps its rectangle shape and it doesn’t ever appear bulky, granted you actually have stuff to put in it. This is the perfect backpack for everyone who wants covert comfort for their electronics and pocket items, as well as having some sleek style to still mack on bitches while wearing a backpack.
Price: $60


MINDSPLOITATION: ASININE ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE ONLINE HOMEWORK CHEATING INDUSTRY BY VERNON CHATMAN
This year, I got really into Wonder Showzen and PFFR, the dudes behind Adult Swim shows Delocated and Xavier: Renegade Angel. Vernon Chatman, a member of PFFR who currently writes and produces for Louie and used to write Wonder Showzen, wrote a book this year that perfectly captures PFFR’s humor and concepts. The book is called Mindsploitation: Asinine Assignments for the Online Homework Cheating Industry and it is absolute genius. Vernon emails these homework websites that write essays for students and asks them to write the most insane shit he could possibly think of, like a eulogy for the dead grandma he always hated and a love letter to the teacher he’s turning his essay assignment to. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve read all year and I highly recommend gifting it to weirdo friends with a great sense of humor. 
Price: $13


GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU BY MARK RUSSELL
Well, the other thing I read this year that I thought was absolutely hilarious is a book called God Is Disappointed In You, which was written by Mark Russell and illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist, Shannon Wheeler. It’s a sharp, witty rewrite of the entire Holy Bible, giving rules and stories from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The book is profane and excellent prose, giving some solid satire and cutting the unnecessary fat out of the Bible’s stories to provide some comedy gold.
Price: $20



HEAVYWEIGHTS ON BLURAY
Yeah, I’m putting this on my list, fuck you if you don’t like this movie. Everyone always talks about Good Burger and no one ever talks about Heavyweights and it’s upsetting. Grab the Blu-ray edition of this Disney beauty for reasons explained here by yours truly. You have no soul if you don’t enjoy this flick.
Price: $15



WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION BLURAY
This is actually my favorite Disney movie. It’s now released on Blu-ray and its two-discs are packed with new commentary, a documentary on Roger Rabbit, a couple of shorts, and some other sweet extras. An absolute classic.
Price: $15


HIP-HOP FAMILY TREE BY ED PISKOR
If there’s anything I’ve learned about Ed Piskor, it’s that he does his research. Hip-Hop Family Tree conveys that perfectly. This is an essential graphic novel for hip-hop heads and comic book readers everywhere — it’s accurate and shows the stories of some of hip-hop’s earliest rap stars. A great gift for music lovers who also appreciate the arts.
Price: $15

ALBOTAS.COM’S 2013 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

Looking for some fresh gift ideas? No worries! We got you covered.

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HOW NINTENDO PLANS TO RUIN THE POKEMON FRANCHISE
With almost every new generation of Pokémon games players have been able to transfer their hard-earned Pocket Monsters from one generation to the next completely free of charge. That’s all about to change.
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It’s finally happened. Nintendo has discovered a way to further capitalize on the deep bonds between trainers and their Pokémon.

Starting December 27, 3DS owners will be able to download Pokémon Bank, an app that lets you store up to 3,000 Pokémon online so that you can trade them between games. Anyone who downloads it by January 31, 2014 gets a 30-day trial subscription. After that, it’s $4.99 a year. Not too bad, but it’s the only way to transfer Pokémon from Generation V (Pokémon Black & White and their sequels) to Pokémon X & Y.
Sorry, Nintendo, but this is bullshit. Any time a company forces customers to pay for something that’s been free for more than a decade, I’m forced to call shenanigans.
Back in the Ruby & Sapphire days, Nintendo released Pokémon Box for the Gamecube. It let you hook up your Game Boy Advance to the console and dump Pokémon onto a Gamecube memory card. This was perfect for things like collecting and breeding - especially once you ran out of room to store your Pokémon on the actual GBA cart. But here’s the thing: Pokémon Box was a standalone thing strictly for storing and organizing Pokémon - you didn’t NEED it for trading Pokémon between games.
Pokémon Bank takes the same concept of storage, but puts it online and makes you pay for it. Considering most people will probably only buy this for the transferring capabilities, it seems like Nintendo found a quick and easy way to make A LOT of money. Sure, it’s only $5 a year, but that money adds up when millions of players around the world are paying it. It’s hard not to feel taken advantage of.
 There’s also some pretty scary drawbacks to hosting your Pocket Monsters on the cloud. These were taken from the official Pokémon Bank FAQ page.


So, once you store your Pokémon, pay five bucks a year or lose them forever. Kind of like ransom, only you have the option of backing them up to your 3DS game whenever you want. Just don’t forget to renew to subscription. Mark a calendar. Set an alarm. Not the most convenient thing in the world.
The good news is, Pokémon Bank comes with a companion app, Poké Transporter. Poké Transporter lets you transfer any of your Pokémon to Pokémon bank without having to use multiple 3DS systems.
But what if you just want to transfer your dudes without having to use Pokémon Bank? Let’s consult our good friend, the FAQ.

"No, that is not possible. Poké Transporter is companion software that works together with Pokémon Bank to transfer Pokémon from your copies of Pokémon Black, Pokémon White, Pokémon Black 2, and Pokémon White 2 to your own private Boxes hosted online through the Pokémon Bank service. After downloading Pokémon Bank, you can download Poké Transporter for no charge.”
Well then…
Okay, so maybe there’s a way to transfer Pokémon directly from the B&W games to the X&Y games for free without having to store anything online - like, maybe you can do it locally somehow using two systems like you could with from the DIamond/Pearl/Platinum games to the B&W games. Makes sense, right?
WRONG!

Are you kidding me? Why the hell not? The technology clearly exists, so why make loyal fans jump through hoops to do things that were more streamlined (and free!) in previous generations?
Nintendo could have at least done us a solid by letting us store a small amount of Pokémon in Pokémon Bank for free using the memory on our systems, then offering the online storage as a paid upgrade. Or at least let us transfer stuff without needing the online subscription.
Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this than it really is. Maybe it’ll be awesome and I’ll be wrong. Five bucks is nothing, but it’s about more than just that. Transfering shit between games used to be free! Regardless, I’m probably just going to transfer my Pokémon while I have the free trial subscription and then never mess with it again.

HOW NINTENDO PLANS TO RUIN THE POKEMON FRANCHISE

With almost every new generation of Pokémon games players have been able to transfer their hard-earned Pocket Monsters from one generation to the next completely free of charge. That’s all about to change.

Read More

Yo, How You Gifting This Year?!?
It gets pretty lonely when you’re spewing out content on a Tumblr dashboard for people to reblog and like and never comment on. I’ve been writing for Albotas since 2009. I see cool stuff, I post it — Robby and Marc do the same.
But I’ve been needing some action. We need some feedback. We want people to talk!
So I think I’m going to post a weekly question to get some discussion going in our comments. I will be doing a quick write-up on some discussions if they’re entertaining enough, and everyone who chimes in will be getting their name out there in said write-up. Let’s tighten up, guys! We’ll make ya feel good. ;)
I’m kicking things off tonight because I’m bored out of my mind and would love to speak with some of our readers for once.
My question to everyone is: How are you guys gifting this year? How kickass is your present giving? Are you giving people shitty gifts on purpose or do you have a really cool, inventive, touching backstory to your presents for others this holiday season? I wanna see photos, I wanna hear stories, I wanna see discussion.
Don’t embarrass me. Hit the read more button to jump to our page and reply in the comment section. I might even be generous enough to gift one of you guys something for a good enough comment.

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Yo, How You Gifting This Year?!?

It gets pretty lonely when you’re spewing out content on a Tumblr dashboard for people to reblog and like and never comment on. I’ve been writing for Albotas since 2009. I see cool stuff, I post it — Robby and Marc do the same.

But I’ve been needing some action. We need some feedback. We want people to talk!

So I think I’m going to post a weekly question to get some discussion going in our comments. I will be doing a quick write-up on some discussions if they’re entertaining enough, and everyone who chimes in will be getting their name out there in said write-up. Let’s tighten up, guys! We’ll make ya feel good. ;)

I’m kicking things off tonight because I’m bored out of my mind and would love to speak with some of our readers for once.

My question to everyone is: How are you guys gifting this year? How kickass is your present giving? Are you giving people shitty gifts on purpose or do you have a really cool, inventive, touching backstory to your presents for others this holiday season? I wanna see photos, I wanna hear stories, I wanna see discussion.

Don’t embarrass me. Hit the read more button to jump to our page and reply in the comment section. I might even be generous enough to gift one of you guys something for a good enough comment.

Read More

9 Thoughts on Superhero Films In a Post-Avengers Industry
I understand completely that Hollywood will continue to create comic book and superhero-related films. I get that they’re going to be blockbusters, regardless of the hero and studios involved, as well as the producers, directors, and even casting calls.
You may or may not have noticed the impact The Avengers has had on every other super hero film being announced or prepping its release. In case you haven’t noticed, consider the fact that we’re seeing a Fantastic Four and X-Men crossover film, Wonder Woman is being introduced in the upcoming Batman and Superman film, and we’re seeing a huge surge of villains in the upcoming Spider-Man sequels.
Here’s some thoughts on a post-Avengers Hollywood, how it’s affected superhero movies, and how it’s going to continue to pull in more unbelievable hype.
The Avengers made a fuck ton of money. Five years ago, you would not have seen a superhero film that crossed over so many characters. That concept was only fantasy and wet dream. The Hulk had his own movie, starring Hulk and not really anyone else. The Dark Knight succeeded with only one hero and one major villain (yes, I know there were multiple villains, but for argument’s sake it’s just The Joker and I’m not having that god damn comment debate today). One of the major reasons The Avengers made so much bank was its incredible roster of superheroes. Who didn’t want to see a movie that promised a level of action that combined Marvel’s Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, as well as Thor?
With that said, naturally, every studio is ready to compete. Fox owns the licenses to X-Men and Fantastic Four. Sony owns Spider-Man. They all want a bite of that Marvel/Disney movie money that The Avengers handed out. They all want the amount of hype The Avengers created.
Superman was rebooted. The reboot was fostered after the Batman trilogy that Warner Bros. has had much success with. That Batman trilogy was also created by Christopher Nolan, an amazing filmmaker that brought a sense of realism to comic books on the big screen. That sense of realism had never been successfully accomplished prior to Batman Begins, and you’ll hardly ever see a critic compare The Avengers to Dark Knight Rises due to the fact that the Batman films don’t actually feel like comic book movies as much as The Avengers did. Warner Bros. decided that realism sold Batman, so they asked Zack Snyder to direct a film to help achieve that realism to Superman, a hero that has absolutely no hard-realism or grit to his attitude or demeanor, aside from emotions when dealing with humans and friends, which could also be seen at Batman’s character weakness. They rebooted Superman with the idea of realism being able to sell DC Comics characters, and sure enough, Man of Steel made some cash.
Last year, Spider-Man was rebooted. The Amazing Spider-Man was initially conceived to appeal to tweens, hence director Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) being attached. Both The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel were executed while Marvel announced their next phase in their cinematic universe, all revolving around their success with The Avengers. Though both films were box office successes, The Avengers made its mark in movie history.
That being said, every studio planned around Marvel’s expansion. Warner Bros. announced a new Batman would be appearing in the Man of Steel sequel. That Batman is Ben Affleck, which caught a ton of flame in terms of casting, and also struck a slew of publicity. More recently, a Wonder Woman was announced. Three heroes, one film, an obvious unbalanced proportion of character-use.
Of course, Fox can’t stay out of this. The Amazing Spider-Man will be introducing the Sinister Six in the course of their next couple of films. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has shown that Rhino, Green Goblin, and Electro will be appearing in the movie. The Sinister Six would be perfect to introduce to the series, with possibilities of introducing Doctor Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman, or even Hobgoblin or Venom. No word on which villains would be included in the roster. 
But consider this: Can anyone named an Avengers villain off the top of their head? Can you name a Spider-Man villain off the top of your head? Spider-Man villains have been introduced in various forms since the 80’s, and they’re some of the most recognizable villains in comics, so it’s much easier to introduce six different villains in the Spider-Man universe. Fox, I believe, has an upper hand.
X-Men will be seeing the Fantastic Four sometime in the near future. Fox, without even releasing their Fantastic Four reboot, already announced a three-year deal with Simon Kinberg, a writer/producer on X-Men: Days of Future Past, to expand and start a shared universe between the two teams. That’s a lot on the slate, being that Fox hasn’t created a great Fantastic Four film as of yet, and they’re already announced a crossover for sometime in the future between two Marvel superhero teams.
For the record, I don’t really like Marvel films outside of Iron Man and The Avengers. I’m excited for Guradians of the Galaxy, though. Rocket Racoon = dat dude.

9 Thoughts on Superhero Films In a Post-Avengers Industry

I understand completely that Hollywood will continue to create comic book and superhero-related films. I get that they’re going to be blockbusters, regardless of the hero and studios involved, as well as the producers, directors, and even casting calls.

You may or may not have noticed the impact The Avengers has had on every other super hero film being announced or prepping its release. In case you haven’t noticed, consider the fact that we’re seeing a Fantastic Four and X-Men crossover film, Wonder Woman is being introduced in the upcoming Batman and Superman film, and we’re seeing a huge surge of villains in the upcoming Spider-Man sequels.

Here’s some thoughts on a post-Avengers Hollywood, how it’s affected superhero movies, and how it’s going to continue to pull in more unbelievable hype.

Read More

Why Akira Is So Awesome
I’ve always liked Akira. But a recent viewing of the movie blew my mind.
Hit the link to read what knocked my socks off.
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The backstory here is that I’ve been watching a lot of 1980s anime for the past few years, especially recently, since a lot of it has gone out of print and I’ve stocked up on DVDs. Over the recent holiday weekend, I watched Patlabor the Movie and Cyber City Oedo 808. With a few hours left to kill before going to sleep and waking up to the real world of a soul sucking day job, I figured I’d watch Akira. I hadn’t seen it in a few years, plus I had been meaning to watch it since I finally read the manga in full this year and wanted to refresh my memory as to how the two differ.
I had seen Akira four times before this viewing, if I remember correctly. But it was never in the right context - a 1988 context, that is. When I had watched it before, I was in the middle of the Shinichiro Watanabe craze and the modern era of Studio Ghibli. I was always impressed with Akira. I liked everything about it - the art direction, the post World War III setting, the bikes, and the bizarreness of it all. But it didn’t blow me away.
This time, though, it was totally different. Like I said, I was just watching some other ’80s anime. Patlabor the Movie and Cyber City Oedo 808, like almost all anime of the time, was produced in an extremely “economic” way. Cels - the individually layered pieces of characters, backgrounds, props, and effects - were re-used, frame by frame, frequently. For example, in a one-shot of a character speaking, the only cels that made up that character that would move were those that made up the mouth. Everything else stood still.
Being acclimated to these animation techniques, I was primed to have my eyeballs melted. In Akira, everything moves like liquid. Facial animations, the characters’ movement, and even the effects like billowing smoke were incredibly smooth. While most animation runs at 24 frames per second, half of those frames are repeated. In other words, there are only 12 unique frames per second. With Akira, all 24 frames were unique, meaning an enormous total of over 160,000 cels. Even something as mundane as the lip-syncing was impressive. All previous anime had created the animation first and then recorded the voiceovers. Akira recorded the voiceovers first so the artists could precisely match the characters’ mouths and lips with the dialogue. Akira's animation stood up to today's computer-based animation, yet had the soul of hand-drawn animation.
Such amazing animation and a 1988 release date just didn’t compute for me. Until the credits rolled, that is. With a budget of nearly $11 million, a huge number of Japanese studios were recruited to turn Akira into a reality. Bandai, Toho, Kodansha, Hakuhodo, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Sumitomo, Laserdisc Corporation, and Tokyo Movie Shinsha made up “The Akira Committee”. But even more companies were used for production, such as Asahi Production, who created the individual photographs that would be sequenced together to create the film, and Gainax, who were just one of the many animation studios who worked on the movie. Excluding publishers and licensors, 81 studios and companies helped created Akira, by my count. That is insane, not only from a pure manpower standpoint, but also from a logistical one.
Akira is nearly as old as I am. Yet it might as well have been made yesterday. The amount of love and detail that went into this movie is jaw-dropping. I’m ashamed that I didn’t appreciate this before. Go watch Akira right now and pay attention not just to the storyline, but to the incredibly precise and seamless animation. It gave me a whole new respect for the film, and I hope it does for you, too.
Buy: Akira: 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Why Akira Is So Awesome

I’ve always liked Akira. But a recent viewing of the movie blew my mind.

Hit the link to read what knocked my socks off.

Read More

Indie Comic Roundup
It’s time for my weekly link dump of all things comics-related on the lesser known and not Marvel/DC side of things. Today’s got links featuring Drawn & Quarterly, a sweet Mondo print by Paolo Rivera, Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker, some links to charities and donation sites due to this week’s holiday season and recent troublesome events, reviews by yours truly, some lists to top off 2013 in comics, and a whole lot of other tidbits.
Read on for a catchup on all things comics in the last week.
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As usual, important news stuff is at the top. Stan Sakai, author ofUsagi Yojimbo, needs some donation help. His wife is currently ill and needs 24-hour care and medicines that Sakai’s insurance cannot fully insure. Donations are currently down due to PayPal issues, but artists are encouraged to donate original pieces to CAPS (The Cartoon Art Professional Society) for an organized auction in which all proceeds will be going directly to Sakai to support his wife. If interested in donating, call 310-365-8457 or fill this form out and mail it to the address on said form. If you still would like to donate, bookmark this page and wait shortly as issues with PayPal will be sorted soon.
Rest in peace to the legendary Al Plastino, famous for his work on Superman and co-creating Supergirl. He was 91.
Rina Ayuyang created a big auction on Ebay to raise money for the Philippines and their typhoon relief. Peep it and grab some new art.
Fantagraphics is extremely close to hitting $200,000 on their Kickstarter for their 2014 spring season catalog of books. They have met their goal weeks ago, but extra money will definitely be going to a great publisher. They will be funded in 8 days.
I reviewed issue #1 of a comic book called Chicken Outfit. Very impressed with the comic, happy to see a comedy/horror comic that isn’t afraid of being gruesome and entertaining.
Here’s an awesome interview with Bill Willingham about his new Fables spinoff, Fairest in All the Land, conducted by Brian Truitt of USA Today.
Paolo Riverapaid tribute to EC Comics’ Wally Wood with the last Mondo print offered. It’s already sold out (sorry if you’re just now hearing about this), but you can gaze in awe at the print here.
Rob Kirby posted his third annual list compiling his favorite mini-comics and self-published works of the year 2013. It’s a great read if you’re looking for something solid to read that’s also fairly new.
Tom of TCR posted a Collective Memory of Thought Bubble 2013, filled with a video and tons of galleries from the event. Thought Bubble took place in Leeds.
Drawn and Quarterly is having a massive sale on their titles. 40% off a ton of great books. Get them now through December 2.
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips might be seeing their series, Sleeper, adapted into film, thanks to producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. The Shield creator Shawn Ryan and collaborator David Wiener will be writing the screenplay. No director attached yet.
The Globe has created a 10 best comics list for the year. Several names listed on this one page are great, including Michael DeForge and Gilbert Hernandez.
Washington Post created a 10 best comics of the year list. It’s all there. Includes a bunch of books I highly recommend.

Indie Comic Roundup

It’s time for my weekly link dump of all things comics-related on the lesser known and not Marvel/DC side of things. Today’s got links featuring Drawn & Quarterly, a sweet Mondo print by Paolo Rivera, Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker, some links to charities and donation sites due to this week’s holiday season and recent troublesome events, reviews by yours truly, some lists to top off 2013 in comics, and a whole lot of other tidbits.

Read on for a catchup on all things comics in the last week.

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