Finished Season One

I’ve been deep into the grind on the Star Citizen Fan Fiction project (I guess that’s the official title) and now I have time to take a break. One thing I have worried about on this project is I wouldn’t have the materials/articles available to keep up with a two-week schedule.

Well, I’m happy to report I’m finished with stage one!

This is world of Remitar Mizell; a freelance reporter for Whitworth Frazen Guttman Journal. Every two weeks he will explore the cultures, systems and conflicts in the UEE. From the music scene with media mogul Kuan Sioufas, life of a troubled young man to the death of a young woman in a small community, Remitar will take you into the lives and events of people in the UEE.

The goal for this project, in the first stage, was to lay out the groundwork for this little corner of the UEE. Like a television series, I would, as my character, report about events, but the small glimpses into my reports would reveal links, ideas and the framework for the larger environment.

I just finished season one, which is the way I want to describe it. It has been a challenge to find the right tone for the articles and move the larger story forward. Yes, there is a goal to the series and with season one, there is a hint to the larger narrative to these stories. For instance, Abdel SeVast mentions in his article about the changing music scene and corporate interest outweighing talent. With The Curatus and the Dibao, religion and small town politics lead to a cover up of a death. Within each article there are hints and clues to larger themes and they are revealed more clearly throughout the first season of articles.

Over the course of this season Remitar will take time to explore small events in the universe. Through the articles, you will get a glimpse into triumphs and tragedies facing everyday citizens and civilians in the UEE. You can find the series, with updates every two weeks, at: http://www.chaoticfringe.com/WFG/

 

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If You Don’t Expand the Base, Stunts Won’t Increase Sales

There was an article in the NY Times that focused on a comment made by an executive at Marvel Comics and used that as the tagline for slumping sales at Marvel, which laid the blame to slumping sales to the increase diversity of comic book characters. It was implied that the change in establish characters, such as the black Spiderman, the female Thor, the black female Iron Man and the Asian Hulk (NOTE: I didn’t know there was an Asian Hulk) was turning off customers and was a contributor to low sales of the books.

The statement and the article caused all sorts of debate with comic book fans.

Brian Hibbs of the Comix Experience stores in San Francisco explained in a paragraph or two the real reason for the slump, and it wasn’t due to comic book fans showing prejudice. The reason for the slump, Hibbs explained can be found in “the frequent restarting of series with new No. 1 issues; fan fatigue over storylines that promise changes but fail to deliver; and the introduction of a deluge of new series. There is also the expense of comic collecting.”

There was something else he stated that got me thinking about sales of comics in general. Hibbs said that he didn’t believe Marvel had more than one or two comics selling over 60000 to 70000 copies. It was shocking to me to hear those numbers because with graphic novels and especially media awareness of TV shows and movies I thought sales would be bigger on comics books.

In the mid-80s, when I did some part time work for a local comic book shop, I got looked on studying the order numbers the shop would have for comics. When the internet grew, those figures were available on line. A site called Comichron probably has the best estimated figures the public can have for sales on comics.

I decided to take a look at some quick sales information. Looking at December 2016, there were 26 comic book titles selling that had over 60000 orders. To be clear, these are orders; not returns or sales but orders that retailer placed for titles. There were 13 DC titles, 12 Marvel titles and 1 title from Image Comics, which was The Walking Dead. Justice League Suicide Squad from DC Comics had the most orders with 179643. In second with 167703 was the Marvel title IVX (Inhumans vs X-Men). I would not that the DC boon was listed at $3.99 and the Marvel book is listed at $5.99 so while DC got more units ordered Marvel, with the extra $2 per book, potentially made more money on their highest order for the month.

With Walking Dead coming in at 11 on the chart, I decided to use that as a benchmark for comparison. Walking Dead first appeared as a comic in October of 2003. I wanted to see what the numbers were for titles coming out in October of 2003 and for October 2013, which was the tenth anniversary for Walking Dead and when the publisher re-released the first issue in color.

In October of 2013, there were 23 titles with over 60000 in orders with Walking Dead 115 at the top of the heap with an impressive 310584, more than double that the leading DC and Marvel title respectively. Batman was number two at 124652 and Infinity from Marvel came in at number three with 113003. In this instance, it was DC that had the more expensive top title with a $6.99 cover price and Marvel was a $3.99 cover. DC had 8 titles with orders over 60000 while DC had 8. The Walking Dead anniversary edition came in number 50 on the chart with 39780 in orders. The Batman issue was a double sized issue and was part four of the Zero Hour storyline. What was interesting to me looking at the figures was Marvel was dominant on the charts, but I saw a number of DC books were in a slump due to their own revamping of the brand at the time. Two years earlier DC Comics began their New 52 project, which did some reimagining of characters, which was met with mixed reviews and slow sales. The core titles of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman strong to OK in sales, but books like Earth-2 and Mister Terrific stumbles or were canceled before the first year ended.

For October 2003, there were 25 comics that sold over 60000 and Marvel dominated the competition. A company called Dreamwave, publisher of Transformer comics at the time, had 2 titles of the 25, DC Comics had five titles with the Avengers/JLA the top orders with 167309. Marvel had 18 titles of the 25 with Amazing Spider-Man 500 coming in second with 148939. Take a notice that Amazing Spider-Man was on issue 500! Batman was in the top ten or orders at issue 640 at a little over 108000 in sales. Uncanny X-Men was at 13 unit at issue number 432. There were a lot of long running issues on the chart like Detective Comics 787 with 37881 in orders listed at 57, Fantastic Four 505 with 52854 at 36 and Action Comics 808 with 30981 at 75. The long run comics were doing decent sales at that time.

When I checked, the units ordered for October 2003, October 2013 and December 2016 things got odd to me. The sales are relatively the same for those time periods with October 2003 having 7.4 million orders, October 2013 with 7.7 million and December 2016 with 7.3 million for all comics ordered. What all comic companies are dealing with is the number of people buying comics hasn’t expanded. That hurts the entire industry when new buyers aren’t in the market.

All comic companies are trying to bring new readers into the market, but the efforts haven’t worked. There is a greater awareness of comic book characters because of mass media, yet that doesn’t translate to the shops consistently. A blub with Obama on the cover or a female Thor will get you talk about one day on The View (owned by parent company ABC) but a one note blurb isn’t going to sustain you, especially if the same comic shop people will ultimately be the ones who will give repeat business.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – U-wing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Wing Wave 9 – Rebel designation – high performance transport vessel. From Rouge One: A Star Wars Story. New purchase for the collection.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – Sabine’s TIE Fighter

X-Wing Wave 9 – Rebel designation – TIE fighter captured by Sabine Wren that she modified with a unique paint scheme. From Star Wars: Rebels. New purchase for the collection.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – Shadow Caster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Wing Wave 9 – Scum and Villainy designation – This ship is owned by Ketsu Onyo, a bounty hunter in the employ of Black Sun and an old friend of Sabine Wren. From Star Wars: Rebels, New purchase for the collection.

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No Love for Rory and Snart on The Talk

I get disappointed when talk shows, especially mid-morning puffy shows like The Talk, have guests from genre shows. My geek side hopes for some geek love from the hosts but what usually happens is the hosts prove they have no knowledge of the genre past the information printed on their cards.

On The Talk, they had a guest line up that was geek and CW heaven. Lynda Carter, from Wonder Woman fame, was on the program promoting a new live concert she was doing. After the perfunctory Wonder Woman love fest given by the hosts, the hosts did mention the Wonder Woman movie and her recent appearance as the President on Supergirl. They talked about her reveal as an alien and Carter kind of gave a hint as to the design of the character.

Lynda Carter was the last guest on the show, and for me it made up for what I considered the missed opportunity with the previous guests; Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell. Both appeared and discussed the show Prison Break: Resurrection. Judging by the standing ovation from the audience and the breathless questions from the hosts, the two men were favorites. The story gave by Dominic about the female stalker in the grocery store and Wentworth’s story about a Mariah Carey were hilarious. The story about the injury Dominic sustained on filming Prison Break got a lot of gasps and respectful applause.

All through the interview segment with the two men, I got the feeling that the hosts had no idea what the two had been up to between Prison Break. I got the impression the hosts assumed they were working on other thinks and the return to Prison Break was a reunion for the two actors. There was no mention of DCs Legends of Tomorrow, no mention of Wentworth’s character returning to the show, thus reuniting the two actors. I must assume the research department on The Talk was aware of DCs Legends of Tomorrow, if for no other reason than they knew about Lynda Carter on Supergirl and had a clip from this week’s episode. This is the second season of DCs Legends of Tomorrow and Snart, Wentworth’s character that died at the end of last season, has had a recurring role this season.

The production staff talked about the Mariah Carey music video as if it was something shot last year. I Googled and saw that he worked with Mariah Carey on two videos in 2005. Prison Break premiered in 2005 and ended in 2009. Both have worked periodically since Prison Break but it was The Flash then DCs Legends of Tomorrow that had the two back together and both consistently on the screen.

Now, I don’t think their appearances on the two CW superhero shows got people at Fox thinking they should revive Prison Break, but to not acknowledge the work they did on the two CW superhero shows is a minor insult to my geek mind. It’s a disregard to a show that has a good fan base and might get those fans to watch Prison Break: Ressurrection. To the screaming Prison Break fans in the audience of The Talk, maybe saying that the two men they had been screaming and fawning over were on another show might make them watch DCs Legends of Tomorrow. They showed Lynda Carter on Supergirl, and she’s a reoccurring character. If the audience loves the two men show up, they can watch Prison Break, then watch DCs Legends of Tomorrow for their fill of Miller and Purcell.

I think it would have been nice, considering the years these two actors have worked on DCs Legends of Tomorrow, if the show had gotten a shout out by the hosts of The Talk.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – Special Forces TIE

X-Wing Wave 9 – Imperial designation – 2 seater First Order TIE fighter. From Star Wars: The Force Awakens. New purchase for the collection.

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X-Wing Miniatures Game – Protectorate Starfighter

X-Wing Wave 9 – Scum and Villainy designation – Designed for aggressive flight with great maneuverability and no shields. New purchase for the collection.

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Rowan Pope from Scandal

For me, Shonda Rhimes always ups the ante with Rowan Pope on Scandal. I would love to believe Joe Morton, the man who plays Papa Pope, reads the script looking for her, over the top, chew the scenery spot for Morton to sink his acting teeth into. I remember Joe Morton back in the Brother from Another Planet days. He’s a well-respected and talented actor, and Morton, with Rowan Pope, has been given a gift few actors, especially American actors, are allowed to do.

It is a joy for me when he’s on screen because when he has those lines, when he can tap into those emotions, you can hear and feel the emotions he channels with every word he says. On the recent episode of Scandal called Extinction, which showcased Rowan Pope, I thought about the mini controversy stirred up a few weeks ago when Samuel L Jackson opined that he wondered how a Black actor from America would interpret the character in Get Out. Jackson didn’t really criticize the British actor in the role, in my opinion, but when you think of American racism and the pain of it, I would argue that a black actor born in America may understand it more than a black actor from another country.

The question is, does the actor bring the personal pain into the role giving the words gravitas, or do the words speak so much truth to power that a skilled actor can evoke the passion the writer has put on the page? Rowan Pope has had so many drop the mike scenes it could almost be considered comical, but Morton, in my opinion, gives life to the role because when he evokes how “we have to be twice as better as them” or when goes into “massa” mode (fans of the show know exactly what I’m talking about) I remember those guys in the barber shop, the friends of my parents and all of the grown folks talks I happened to hear as a child resonate in his performance. When Rowan gets full steam and relishes the scene, I can hear the church say Amen.

I get the rage, the pride and arrogance of Rowan. I think a lot of black Americans get it because we do feel like we have to be do twice as much just to be equal. We do feel like no matter what we do we won’t be respected, we won’t be appreciated. Rowan uses that perception to his advantage, because he is twice as good as anyone he comes up against. People constantly underestimate him. He calmly takes them down with swagger and bravado. What is so good about Rowan is while he has the arrogance of other similar TV characters like Raymond Reddington from The Blacklist or Sherlock from Elementary, I get where his pain comes from. When he gives his speeches, those arching, over the top soliloquies are forges from centuries of black Americans being the enemy, the other, the never good enough people. I feel with Rowan, he’s the black American who is saying, you will always underestimate our resolve and that is why we will always beat you.

Here’s what I found interesting in this episode. Even when the guys were trying to pressure Rowan, when they were trying to show how vicious they were, they weren’t even close to the resolve Rowan had. Yes, they killed their partner to show they were in charge. Rowan, did what they asked him to do, killed the presidential candidate, and when they were certain they had the perfect control over Rowan with the woman he loved, Rowan shot her cold. I knew it was coming, I knew they would just use Olivia as the new pawn, but by him putting the bullet into the woman he loved did something, I believe, the people trying to control him don’t understand.

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Love Alpha Testing in Star Citizen

Playing Star Citizen this morning because I couldn’t sleep. I think I found a bug. Well, it is an obvious bug but I didn’t see where it had been reported, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of the issue. This is the description I wrote to the game team.

I was at Yela. I saw a Redeemer (I’m pretty sure that was the destroyed ship) and a Caterpillar parked next to it. I thought the Caterpillar was a player ship but it was abandoned. When I entered the ship, I realized I was able to phase through the ship. I thought it might have been the camera angle making it seem like I was phasing but I saw my helmet was off some of the times. Going through doors they would open but I could go through the bulkheads and I was able to exit the ship in that matter. Once outside the ship I couldn’t phase back in and had to go back to the hatch to get in. Once I was in, the phasing happened again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, it’s one thing to phase through a bulkhead but to have the helmet disappear, that’s just freaky.

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