2020 in Pixels and Points (and Sweat)

Uncut Gems poster.jpg
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

Features enjoyed:

Derry Girls.png
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, Link

Television savoured:

  • Mr Inbetween S01–02
  • The Casketeers S03
  • Zero Zero Zero
  • Derry Girls S01–02
  • I Am Not Okay With This
  • The End of the Fucking World S01–02
  • Sextortion
  • The Young Pope
  • The Great S01
  • Last Tango in Halifax S01–02

It being the year it was, not much live theatre was attended.

Without permission from www.conundrumpress.

Pages devoured:

This year, I managed to run a personal record-beating 106 times, clocked up a PR-beating 606 kilometres, but didn’t quite manage as much calisthenics as last year. Although guilt continues to be a prime exercise motivator, this year’s outstanding stats were thanks in large part to a couple of Alert Level changes.

Cavalry at rest, September 2020.

Onwards into 2021.

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Walking Dead Forever

Without permission from undeadwalking.com.

This time last year, I opened up issue 192 of The Walking Dead and did my usual first-pass read — the kind of breath-held-whaat’s-happeniiing-neeeext first-pass read — and partway through I sat back, stunned. I remember turning to the Lovely Wife and telling her what I’d just read. (Not a comic reader herself, she made a sympathetic noise and returned to her house renovations.)

The end of TWD came a month later with issue 193 and, miracles of miracles — though to be honest, there really are no miracles in the creation of art — it ended the series perfectly. And just like with every issue preceding it, I leant back after the more careful second-pass read and marvelled at the craft and love of TWD creator and writer Robert Kirkman, aided and abetted by artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.

Without permission from comic-watch.com

TWD was a series that published regularly, each issue never failed to leave me figuratively gasping How the fuck are they going to resolve that?, mind reeling from cliffhangers and resolutions that were equally unexpected and inevitable, and counting the days until the next issue.

I’m sad that it’s finished but glad that it ended the way and when it did. I don’t know when I’ll be able to revisit the series at my leisure but it won’t be far away, in the Essential Section of the library.

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Comfort Reading

Without permission from cbr.com (https://www.cbr.com/committed-marshal-law-the-most-underrated-book-in-comics/).

My productivity has plummeted as I compulsively refresh news sites and follow social media. It’s the world out there, is what it is. What a start to 2020, huh?

It hasn’t all been sitting and staring at the Johns Hopkins tracking page, though.

Without permission from cbr.com (https://www.cbr.com/neil-gaiman-sandman-trivia/).

I’ve pulled some old favourites down from the shelves. They may not be the most appropriate for these times but if it gives me solace to spend time in a world where I know how things will end, I’ll take it.

Without permission from cbr.com (https://www.cbr.com/the-walking-dead-ways-comics-finale-is-perfect-fell-short/).

Stay safe. Take care of each other. Be kind.

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Tai Ho

The excellent Toby Morris piece below calmed me down the other day.

Toby Morris’ Pencilsword at thewireless.co.nz — click through for the rest of the comic.

It’s much more resonant than a “Keep calm and [INSERT EXHORTATION]” meme or what-have-you.

Finding the balance between knowing one’s limits and pushing beyond them is an ongoing challenge.

Yes, on occasion I have rued the consequences of an “How hard can it be?”-inspired adventure.

But however they end, when the smoke clears and I’m either still standing or not in handcuffs (or better, both), I’ve at least learnt something new about the world, my craft or myself.

Some of my limits are just because. Others are there to be extended.

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Box Watch: Marvel’s Jessica Jones

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47431125

Ten episodes in and I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel where:

  • our heroine, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter)  catches her nemesis, Kilgrave (David Tennant);
  • Jones’ Greek chorus of friends, family and/or acquaintances sing, Kill Kilgrave else he will continue to murder people;
  • Jones counterpoints with, No, I must not kill him yet somehow he must still pay — wait one while I ponder…;
  • Kilgrave escapes — trimming Jones’ chorus by one enroute — and continues his murdering ways;
  • Jones catches Kilgrave…

Do this catch-and-release routine once and if the heroine learns from the experience, it’s a learning experience.

Do it twice, and if the heroine prevails in the end, it’s one of those rule-of-three narrative devices.

Do it three times and there’s still three goddamned eps to go in the season, one begins to wonder: are the writers undercover wingnuts highlighting the inherent weakness of liberals in this harsh, harsh world? or have I just been inured by decades of Old Testament-moral-style action films in which all manner of personal, societal and political problems can be resolved in a hail of lead?

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2015 by Dots per Inch

Whangarei Central Library

I actually read stuff this year — 91 titles as a matter of fact, seven of which I didn’t finish for various reasons. This compares very well with 2014’s measly 24 titles.

Highlights, in no particular order:

  • Justified pilot script by Graham Yost;
  • Transparent pilot script by Jill Soloway;
  • Steve Jobs 19 March 2015 draft script by Aaron Sorkin;
  • The Fade Out issues 1–12 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips;
  • Alex + Ada by Sarah Vaughan & Michael Luna;
  • Lazarus issues 1–20 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark;
  • X-ed OutThe Hive, and Sugar Skull by Charles Burns;
  • Down Under by Bill Bryson;
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout;
  • No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy;
  • Cop Killer by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo.

Honourable mentions to The Ballad of Halo Jones by Moore and Ian GibsonThe Walking Dead issues 136–149 by Robert KirkmanCharlie AdlardStefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn, and Ms Marvel issues 1–5 by Sana AmanatG Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona.

I feel like I should read more text-only books but I suspect that’s my easily triggered inferiority complex.

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2013 in Print

A terrible year for the reading diary: a meagre 72 titles passed through my grubby fingers.

Still — stand–outs were:


iZombie Volume 1: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred
Beast by Marian Churchland
The Hive by Charles Burns


World War Z by Max Brooks
The Good War by Studs Terkel
Glitz by Elmore Leonard

Tyrant by Gideon Roff
Modern Family — S01E07 by Danny Zuker
Law & Order — S08E09 — Burned by Siobhan Byrne
Baghdad Baby! by Dean Parker
Midnight in Moscow by Dean Parker

Usually, whatever gets listed in these end–of–year posts is culled from a larger short–list of what made an impact. Not so 2013.

Late new year resolution: Read more.

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Toy Throwing

Saw Man of Steel with The Boy a couple of months back. Besides the decidedly age-based concern about the amount of (inevitable) real estate damage in the final showdown, I couldn’t help thinking about the little people. (I wasn’t alone either.) As buildings were pulped and dust billowed every-which-post-9/11-way, I kept flashing on this film:

By chance, the aiga had watched Chronicle the week before – and during that film’s climactic showdown I was flashing on this:

Yes, Alan Moore‘s Miracleman.  I doubt we’ll see any film or television adaptation of this revisionist beast (a protracted rights wrangle is approaching its twentieth anniversary) but Chronicle‘s tale of three friends who gain superpowers and whose good intentions go wrong not just for them but for the puny humans around them, is a nice and engaging substitute.

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At the end of Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again, our hero, broken in the first act of the story and now painfully reconstituted as a stronger, more focused, more realistic hero and human being, walks into the figurative sunset with the love of his life.

I stopped reading the series at that point.  I knew if I continued, it would just go on and on and on:  there would be more villains, more life-obstacles – more of the same, but different.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever been a big fan of ongoing serials. My comic collection is made up largely of one-off’s, mini-series and trade paperbacks.  As for the viewing library, even though I was a massive fan of Law & Order, it’s taken quite a conscious effort to get myself to buy up to the sixth season of the show, as opposed to the complete runs I have of The ShieldThe West Wing, and The Wire.

I think real life is exciting and ongoing enough, thank you.

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