On Getting Back into Writing, Multiversity Comics, Manga, Netflix’s 3% and More – Source Material for January 30th 2017
Well Hello There
It’s high time I use this site for its true intention, and that’s a space for me to blog and explore my random geek-based thoughts, so this is Source Material (name not final): think of this as my regular opportunity to just flat out ramble on about nothing in particular. This is my chance to put down in words all the stuff that doesn’t quite fit into a regular article or review, and it’ll give you the chance to find out a bit more about me and the stuff I’m into, should you be interested. I mean, you’re here aren’t you? I’ll be chronicling all the things that I’ve been reading and watching lately, as well as listing my recommendations for what you should be enjoying too. Hell, everyone else is screaming into the void, why not me?
There’s something weird about introducing myself on a site that I’ve had up and running for over a year but hey, in the spirit of this being the first blog article thing of its kind (not ever, obviously) here goes: my name is Matt, and I…you know what? There’s literally an About Me section on this site, go click on that. It’s ok I’ll wait here.
You actually came back? Oh, wait, no, you didn’t even go did you, you just kept reading this article. Right, OK. Well to summarize and bring you right up to date, my name is Matt and I write about comics. I do that here on The Awesome Source, where I also talk about comics on my podcast That’s The Issue. The er…the podcast is on a bit of a hiatus at the moment but me and Wes, my co-host, are planning a comeback very soon. We’ve been on a break from it since about August, and even then we only did five or six episodes and I don’t know, I keep getting a weird anxiety about bringing it back? I’m not normally an anxiety guy but for some reason I’m finding it hard to pick that back up.
I’ve taken some time away from writing and podcasting for quite a while now. My work situation changed, meaning the time I had to write diminished greatly. I only started writing in early 2014 but by the end of the year I took on a new role at work and I’ve been doing that ever since. I started podcasting in June or July last year after listening to hundreds of hours of other people talking about what they love and thinking (to continue a habit of a lifetime by paraphrasing Homer Simpson) “I’m tired of being a wannabe podcaster. I wannabe a podcaster!” However, much like my writing, I had to knock it on the head when work life got in the way.
Up until the start of this year that is, when my situation reverted back and already I’m back to my former prolific self. I have to say it feels great to get an enjoyable work-life balance back, and even better to be writing as much as I am. I managed to write a piece on the first volume of Black Hammer (which is an excellent book), and as I say I hope to get back into podcasting soon. One thing at a time you know? The main reason to want to podcast is to get myself out there, meet new folks in the comics community and chat with creators about their work and their process. The central concept of That’s The Issue is that we have a guest on the show and frame the conversation about an issue of comic books that’s important to them. Getting to Know You Through the Issues that You Love. At least that’s where we start anyway, in reality we tend to pivot off that relatively quickly, the idea is to use that as a conversation starter and to use that to, as the tagline suggests, get to know the guest.
Anyway, that’s all in the pipeline and I guess it’s taking a little longer because, unlike the writing where I can afford to be a bit more haphazard about a schedule, with a podcast you need to keep a consistent level of output, weekly, twice-weekly etc in order to build an audience, and I guess I’m finding that commitment a little daunting at the moment. It won’t be long until I’m ready to dive back in.
It feels great to be writing for a site again, and when Multiversity sent the call out for new reviewers I jumped at the chance. It’s been one of my favourite go-to sites for years now, so the opportunity is beyond exciting. I’ve written a couple of micro reviews so far and only one full review, but I’m already learning a lot from the editors and other writers. I’m also learning a lot about comics, especially the ones I’m reviewing. Having to be critical of these issues is forcing me to cast a way more observant gaze over the pages, and because of that I’m spotting more than I ever would have done as a casual reader. In the past I’ve pretty much been left to my own devices when it comes to my writing, so to write for a site that takes a keen editorial interest in your work is both educational and rewarding. It’s encouraged me to research the creators I’m reviewing and it’s expanded my understanding of the process. This leads me nicely to my first recommendation actually.
The Dregs #1
My first full review for Multiversity was for The Dregs #1, a new Black Mask Studios series about the rich literally eating the poor and a homeless man playing detective to expose the crime. In an effort to make a good first impression for Multiversity, I really pushed myself to get to know the creators and try to understand their influences and their motivations. This research led me to the blog of artist Eric Zawadzki. Eric is building a fascinating blog about his process and I learned a lot about his style and his intentions when writing my review. I encourage you to check out his blog especially once you’ve read issue 1 of The Dregs which in itself is a great rec from me. My review, if you couldn’t already guess, was glowing. More than that, once my review went live I got some great feedback from all of the creators involved; both of the writers, the artist and the colourist retweeted, liked and gave really awesome comments which was incredibly validating. It was also a swift reminder that Multiversity is a big site, and anything I write for them has a higher likelihood of being read by the creators themselves, so I need to make sure that I write exactly how I feel but that I do it in a fair, informed and structured way. Check out my review yourselves and let me know your thoughts.
Weekly Shonen Jump
I’ve found myself reading a lot of Weekly Shonen Jump lately. Like, catching up on all of the issues since November, a lot. That doesn’t sound like much but they’re over 200 pages each issue, and I’m picking up most of the stories around 80 chapters in at least, so it’s not only a lot of content but a lot of kinda baffling content. I mean, I get the tropes of Shonen Manga, and this isn’t even the first time I’ve read Jump, but I’m finding I’m having to work a lot harder than I usually do reading comics.
That’s not to say it’s not rewarding however. I’m currently on my 8th consecutive issue and it’s just now starting to click in my brain, where I’m actively following th eplot, interested in the chaacters and am starting to pick my favourites. Of the current crop of series included in the weekly anthology, I’m enjoying My Hero Academia the most I think, along with One Punch Man (but, to be fair, I was already up to date with One Punch Man. If you don’t currently read it but you enjoy superhero comics, it’s genuinely in my top 5 favourite superhero books of the last 5 five years.) I’m also enjoying Food Wars, which dragged me in purely by its concept alone – a dramatic, action series based around cooking. Manga has a whole subgenre of comics for cooking and food based series, and if they all read like Food Wars then I can see why.
I’m also a fan of Blue Exorcist and Seraph of the End, neither of which have been in the book enough for me to truly get to grips with but they’re the ones I’m most tempted to go buy the individual volumes for.
One Piece is a strange one. Firstly because it’s literally the strangest one, as in batshit mental, but also because the fact that I picked up the series at something like chapter 850 seems crazy to me, and crazy daunting too. I was assured by a few people that it’s best to just dive in try to keep up, and while I still have no real idea who any of the characters are I’m following along just fine. I’ve no intention of going all the way back to the beginning, but if I’m tempted to get more into it I’ve been told there are a couple jumping on points not too far back.
Have I missed all the conversations talking about how amazing Netflix’s series 3% is? Because if I have then let me chip in with: it’s amazing, and if I haven’t then why aren’t people talking about how amazing it is??
Seriously, 3% is fantastic, perfect for bingeing, and ideal for fans of things like the Hunger Games, Insurgent and Maze Runner, and it’s even got hints of movies like Cube and Battle Royale thrown in too. It’s a Brazilian, dystopian thriller about a world in which the population, when they reach 20 years old, take part in something called The Process, a gruelling, deadly series of tasks that only 3% of candidates are able to complete. Those that make it gain access to The Offshore, a blissful utopia; those that don’t either die trying or return to the slums to live out their days along with everybody else.
It does what every great dystopian sci-fi does and packages an important message about segregation, elitism and privilege into a cracking, character driven thriller. Worth your time.