Fringe is back!

On Thursday night, J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi series, Fringe, returned after a two-month hiatus with a new episode called “Peter.” Currently on season two, FOX’s Fringe is a witty, thought-provoking and exciting look into the FBI’s Fringe Division, a group of federal agents and scientists investigating unexplained and terrifying phenomena, including (but not limited to) teleportation, alternate universes and genetic engineering.

Think The X-Files, but remove Mulder’s obsession with aliens and add Dr. Walter Bishop, a mentally unstable yet brilliant scientist whose discovery of an alternate universe may potentially cause a inter-dimensional war.

The majority of “Peter” is set in 1985. We learn that seven-year-old Peter is dying of a genetic disease that despite his best efforts, Walter has been unable to cure. In an effort to save his dying son, Walter uses his “window” into the other universe to spy on his alternate self (who he affectionately names “Walternate”). It turns out that Walternate is also trying to save his son from the same disease, and given the technological superiority of this alternate universe, he is more likely to discover the cure.

Despite lacking the usual thrills associated with solving an unnatural phenomenon, the episode still had me on the edge of my seat. “Peter” provided clarity around some of the show’s big mysteries, like Walter’s first journey to the other universe, why Walter didn’t return Peter to the alternate world, and how Nina Sharp lost her arm.

Nevertheless, the episode also left us with some new questions, like: Why did the Observer refer to Peter as “important?” And will Olivia tell Peter that he’s from the alternate universe?

Overall, “Peter” was a great episode. I enjoyed a break from their usual episodic format and the detailed look at a younger, more coherent and affectionate Walter.

And just in case you need a refresher on all things Fringe, make sure to watch “10 Things You Need To Know About Fringe.”

Leave a comment

Filed under fringe, J.J. Abrams, science fiction

The Hairy Tarantula

The Hairy Tarantula

Situated above street level at 354 Yonge, The Hairy Tarantula is easy to miss. But climbing up the flight of stairs to the second floor, the movie and comic book posters plastered across the walls are sure to get your inner nerd senses tingling. Just don’t forget to the close the door at the top of the stairs or you might let one of the store’s two cats out.  

Even though the location by my apartment doesn’t sell individual comic book issues, The Hairy T is still my all-time favourite comic book store (BlogTO also listed its west-end location as one of “The Best Comic Shops in Toronto“). It’s literally crammed full of board games, role-playing guides, toys, anime, and volumes of comics. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful (unlike their counterparts at the Silver Snail), and they always have competitive prices.  

One of two cats at The Hairy T

Once inside, you’re immediately won over by the store’s charming indie feel. Board games are piled ceiling high, toy displays are covered in dust, and it’s often difficult to navigate between the crowded rows of products. But you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to a better time, before all your favourite comics were exploited and turned into disappointing B movies.  

So if you’re in the Toronto area, make sure to stop by The Hairy T for all your nerdy purchases. Oh, and while you’re there, don’t forget to check out their monthly specials – you’ll often find comics selling for their US cover prices, and board games at a significant discount. 

What’s your favourite comic or board game shop? Know of any good stores in Toronto or abroad?

1 Comment

Filed under comic book store, comic books

No need to guild quit, the comic is off to a great start

On Wednesday, Dark Horse Comics released the first issue of The Guild, a comic book adaptation of the award-winning live-action web series by the same name. Like the web show, the comic is written by Felicia Day and revolves around the real and virtual lives of main character Cyd and a group of her fellow MMORPG players. Unlike the show, however, the comic is an origins story, and provides readers with a glimpse into Cyd’s life before she created her virtual avatar, Codex.

The comic opens with Cyd’s usual personal reflections via webcam. Despite possessing all the tools to live a fulfilling life, Cyd confesses her unhappiness and questions its source. However, as the story progresses, we learn that her depression is fueled by a domineering boyfriend and an uninspiring job – two burdens we know she loses by the beginning of the web series. Nevertheless, hope arrives for the low price of $59 (and a small subscription fee), when Cyd discovers the ability to escape into the virtual reality of “The Game,” and we finally get to see her enjoying “life.”

Fans of the series will find that the comic stays true to the personalities of the show’s already well-established characters. Day does a fantastic job of reproducing her characters’ mannerisms in the comic book format, resulting in believable cameos by Tink, Bladezz and Vork.

For those expecting the characteristic comedy found in the series, you’ll find that the comic can be darker than expected. As Cyd contemplates using antidepressants, the possible side-effects conjure up a haunting premonition of herself: underweight, disheveled, and covered in her own vomit. And although we’ve seen our fair share of unhealthy relationships in the web series (think Zaboo and his over-protective Mother, or Bladezz’s and Tink’s love-hate relationship), Cyd’s relationship with her self-absorbed boyfriend is too realistic to be funny. Unlike the show, the comic doesn’t over-exaggerate the screwed-up interactions we often have with family members, lovers and friends. Instead, Day leaves out the punch lines and provides us with a realistic story (one that I’m sure many readers, including myself, can relate too).

The dialogue, however, can be difficult to follow and is often more clear when read out loud. This makes sense given The Guild comic is Day’s first attempt at a comic book and the majority of her writing has been for on-screen dialogue.

Overall, Day provides a believable and well crafted origins story. Jim Rugg’s simple yet realistic artwork has an indie feel, and his ability to switch styles for the in-game animation is commendable.

Issue #2 is released on April 21.

Leave a comment

Filed under felicia day, the guild

My Streamy Picks!

The Streamy Awards

Nominations for the 2010 Streamy Awards were announced yesterday (checkout all the nominees). The list features some of my favourite web series, actors, writers and vloggers. So here are a few of my top picks for the Streamys:

Best Vlogger

Philip DeFranco or (sxePhil) – I get all my news from Phil, be it on video games, movies, comic books or “real-life.” He’s an engaging speaker and his nerdiness is charming and relatable. If you want to check him out, he has three shows on YouTube: The Philip DeFranco Show, The Vloggity, and Like Totally Awesome.

Best Hosted

A Comicbook Orange – Hosted by Casey McKinnon, this weekly series provides viewers with reviews of recent comic book releases. Interviews with industry writers and creators are always interesting, and the opening sequences, although often cheesy, are also fun ways to introduce each episode.

The Guild

Best Comedy

The Guild – Hands down, this is the funniest show on the internet. The live-action series follows a group of guildmates who play an unnamed MMORPG that is obviously World of Warcraft. Hilarity ensues when the socially awkward gamers must meet offline and begin forming real-life friendships and rivalries. The Guild recently completed its third season and writer and creator Felicia Day is said to be currently working on season four.

Best Animated

How it Should Have Ended – How it Should Have Ended always makes me feel better for hating the endings of so many Hollywood films, and the episodes often feel like professionally done compilations of my own cynical after-movie comments. The series mixes humour with legitimate critique, and the animation and voice-acting are always well done.

Best Companion

The Office: Subtle Sexuality – The Office has been doing some pretty interesting things in the social media space lately, and I think they deserve some recognition. Jim and Pam’s wedding and baby blogs were great ways for viewers to access exclusive content (like photos and vlogs), and Subtle Sexuality is a great laugh.

So make sure to watch the live broadcast of The Streamy Awards on April 11 to see who wins!

Leave a comment

Filed under The Streamy Awards

The Walking Dead #70

After 14 months since the zombie outbreak, Rick and co. have finally arrived at a zombie “safe zone” – a small community of survivors living in a fortified neighbourhood outside of Washington D.C.

 The opening pages rely heavily on artist Charlie Adlard’s illustrative talent. Nearly an entire page of panels is dedicated to visuals of the speechless, dumbfounded WD crew as they look upon their new surroundings with shock and disbelief.  But after following The Walking Dead for years and witnessing countless betrayals, you can’t help but share their skepticism. At this point in the story, the reader feels like a member of the crew, so even a group of carefree children playing in zombie-free suburban streets can leave you with an uneasy feeling.

Rick is introduced to Douglas Monroe, the leader of the community and a former politician. Although Monroe comes off a little crazy, the two seem to bond over their acceptance of violence as a necessary reality, even before the dead began walking.

Monroe quickly invites Rick to stay in the community, where he promises Rick will be provided with some of the luxuries he thought he’d never enjoy again – electricity, running water, and a home. In exchange, Rick and his friends must become fully functioning members of “society” and contribute to the success and survival of the “safe zone.”

Rick’s former experience as a police officer leads to his appointment as town constable, a decision that made me incredibly uneasy. After living in a world without law and order for over a year, can we really expect the WD crew to become stable members of society again? We’ve seen them commit countless morally questionable acts, a reality that made me fear more for the welfare of the people within the community. Furthermore, this month’s cover art is unsettling. Rick’s uniformed image is veiled in shadows (the shadows around his face are almost sinister), and although he used to be a police officer, he definitely isn’t the same man he used to be.

If anything, this issue drives home the reality that the zombies are no longer the enemy in The Walking Dead. Throughout the series, the mindless hordes of zombies have literally torn this group apart, but it is the calculated and deliberate actions of the other characters (the Governor and the hunters), that defines the true villains. Ironically, it is actually within the fortified walls of the “safe zone ” where the true danger lies, and not in the zombie infested outside world.

1 Comment

Filed under the walking dead, zombies

Transforming the zombie

People who know me know that I like zombies. Over the last few years,  the genre has gotten a lot of playtime in film, and I’ve been able to enjoy a plethora of new zombie stories on the big screen.  

More recently however, a lot of cool things have been happening with the zombie genre as it slowly gnaws its way into new mediums. George A. Romero pioneered the zombie genre back in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead, but since then, the zombie has spread, consuming and transforming new  mediums along the way. No longer is the zombie confined to live-action film.

Here are a couple upcoming zombie projects I’m looking forward to:  

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead TV Series 

The zombie is usually a creature of film. However, 2009’s Dead Set was an incredibly successful zombie miniseries and Frank Darabont’s live-action adaptation of the comic book series The Walking Dead (my all-time favourite comic book series) has great promise as well. Recently picked by AMC, the series follows Rick Grimes, his son, and a group of other survivors as they struggle with life, death and the undead after the zombie apocalypse. 

Rumour has it that filming will begin this May and actors such as Battlestar Galactica’s Apollo (Jamie Bamber) and LOST’s Jacob (Mark Pellegrino) are thought to be in the running for the lead of Rick Grimes.  

A.D.  

You don’t see a lot of horror films, especially zombie films, in animated form. But damn am I glad to see something really new and creative breathe some life into the zombie genre. According to an interview with the director, writer and producer, A.D. is currently only in teaser trailer form, but they’re hoping it will get picked up for a feature-length film.  

Watch the teaser trailer now:  

So as you can see, there are a couple new zombie projects coming down the line that I’m sure will help to invigorate the zombie genre (beyond the recent introduction of the “fast” zombie). 

Know of any other upcoming zombie comics, webseries, TV shows or films that you think are new, creative or transformative?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What’s on your virtual bookshelf?

I did my undergrad in English Language and Literature, meaning that for four years, I read all the time. I was reading between three and five novels a week. But what I was reading wasn’t my choice. And although I often found myself reading some the great classics of all time, I wasn’t inspired to read more.

So when I graduated, I stopped reading novels. I began reading comics and relied on the internet for my news. Novels were a medium of the past. I wanted to consume my media and entertainment quickly, and novels just took too long. Not to mention, reading off-line doesn’t have the same social aspect as online reading. I like being able to instantly comment and respond to things I find on a blog or website.

However, I’ve slowly started to introduce myself back to the realm of off-line reading (lately, novels of the post-apocalyptic, dystopian, and sci-fi genres on my nightstand). But that’s not to say I haven’t found a new awesome online tool to help keep me going.

I recently discovered goodreads.com, a social categorizing site that allows you to your keep track of what novels you’ve read, what you want to read, and share your thoughts, comments and book ratings with others. Like Twitter and other social networking sites, you create your own profile and follow other users to learn about their reading habits and recommendations. I recently began following Felicia Day, the creator, writer and star of my favourite web-series, The Guild, and based on what she’s read, I’ve added even more books to my “To Read” list.

You can also categorize books by creating “bookshelves” (much like tagging on delicious or flickr), and  join groups in order meet other users with similar tastes. Similar to a book club, these groups often have reading suggestions and serve as places to share your thoughts on different genres, authors and novels.

Not sure what to read next? goodreads.com allows you search for authors and browse through hundreds of user-created lists.

So what’s on your bookshelf? Free free to share your recommendations with me on goodreads.com at Kyla Drewette. And let me know if you use any other social networking sites to not only categorize your books, but help you find new reading suggestions.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized