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Random Awesomeness (part 2019.3)

Random Awesomeness

What I’m Reading Right Now: Firefight: The Reckoners, Book Two by Brandon Sanderson.

Purchase the self-titled Black Robot album!

Christmas gift ideas for your aspiring comic book writer/artist

A few years ago I published a list of books that might interest those who dream of becoming professional comic book writers and/or artists. It was one of the most popular posts on the site, and continues to receives several hits each year as Christmas time nears. I have decided to expand the list since several new books have been released in the interim. I have not reviewed all of these, but would love to add a few to my small collection, especially the second and third “Regrettable” books in the last section.

Writing and drawing for comic books is a true art form, and the skills needed to succeed Comic Book Writers and Artists Christmas Gift Ideasare much different than what a short story writer or novelist might utilize. Here are some books to help those who are exploring their talents in the comic art form.

We just lost one of the all-time great names in the world of comic books. The late Stan Lee contributed to a handful of books for creators.

Stan Lee

Maybe your aspiring artist is tired of being an aspiring artist and wants to start putting pencil to paper. Here are some blank comic book templates to get them started.

Most writers who dream of working in comics love to read them as well, so they may also enjoy the books below.

Regrettable Superheroes

Christmas gift ideas for your aspiring Marvel Comics writer/artist

Last week we looked at Christmas gift ideas for the DC Comics lover, so this week we’ll look at the competition: Christmas gift ideas for your aspiring Marvel Comics writers/artists. The first on the list is an all-time classic that is now over thirty years old, while the rest are more recent takes on the “Marvel Way” of comics:Stan Lee

In addition to those volumes by Stan Lee himself, a number of licensed character-specific books are available:Guardians of the Galaxy

Not quite as many selections as available for DC Comics, but that’s not too surprising. It seems that Marvel’s bread-and-butter is on the big screen now, while DC has faltered in that medium. But on paper, DC is still far and away the better comic book maker.

Fun Cards: 1982 Topps Joe Dunning, Ted What’s-His-Name, and The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk premiered in 1978 starring Bill Bixby as David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk. The program is currently available to stream on Netflix, but I received a notification that it would be removed on January 1. The show only lasted five seasons, and the fifth season was a mere seven episodes.

Joe Dunning 1982 Topps Incredible Hulk

The first episode of the fifth season was called “The Phenom,” guest starring Brett Cullen as pitching prospect Joe Dunning, who was trying to make the Roosters’ squad out of spring training. I decided to take a crack at some “fun cards” from this episode, but there were very few names used and IMDB does not identify very many of the guest stars, including “Ted What’s-His-Name” below. Nor is he named in the end credits of the episode. The actor looks vaguely familiar…but I have no idea who it is.

Ted 1982 Topps Incredible Hulk

There was one other identifiable “player.” Near the end of the episode, David and Joe are attacked by a sleazy agent’s henchmen. David is thrown behind a car where he transforms into the green creature known as the Incredible Hulk. He saves Joe, carries him into the stadium, and another player throws a baseball bat at him. The Hulk catches it and proceeds to slug a baseball that is thrown at him.

Hulk 1982 Topps

The Hulk is not on the Roosters’ roster, so I decided to change the team name. I started to go with Marvel, but instead changed it to “The Lonely Man” as a tribute to Joe Harnell, the composer of the show’s theme music.

Another interesting tidbit about the series, which I did not know until looking through the IMDB information: the narrator is Ted Cassidy, who is best known for his role as Lurch on The Addams Family.

The new Fantastic Four trailer dropped yesterday

Even though I loved the first Fantastic Four film, this looks pretty cool.

Marvel’s Daredevil (2015)


Marvel’s Daredevil
Starring: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Vincent D’Onofrio
Netflix, 2015
13 episodes, 48-59 minutes each

[Review by TWJ contributor Joshua.]

Marvel’s Daredevil takes place after the catastrophic destruction of New York in 2012’s The Avengers. It ties in perfectly, making many obvious references to the cinematic universe, as well as subtle nods to the comic book readers who may be watching. One of the major themes throughout the show is the methods used to rebuild, both literally and figuratively, as New York reconstructs homes and businesses, and the citizens try to move on, despite the troublesome times.

The series focuses on a blind attorney, Matthew Murdock, working from a criminal defense office he owns with his good friend, Foggy Nelson. Their neighborhood, Hell’s Kitchen, is ridden with drugs distributed by the Russians, manufactured by the Chinese mafia, and enforced by the Japanese mob, all of whom are led by a seemingly untouchable man at the top, the Kingpin.

Matt may know the law, but that doesn’t mean he abides by it. In order to clean up the city and keep civilians out of harms way, Murdock dons a mask to combat the evil spreading through the streets. His heightened senses and advanced knowledge of multiple forms of martial arts makes him more dangerous than most criminals realize, which often spells their undoing.

From the very beginning we see Matt struggling with the morality of his actions and his methods of keeping the peace, while also showing us how a boy learns to use his disability to bring out his inner strengths. Marvel’s Daredevil is definitely a show worth watching from the unsettling crimson musical intro all the way to the climactic finality of the end. The show does a fantastic job of taking us along the journey Murdock follows to transform from a man of the law into a symbol of dark justice.

Sign up for Netflix and start watching Marvel’s Daredevil now!

Marvel Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded (2014)

Marvel Encyclopedia Updated and Expanded 2014

Marvel Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
DK Publishing, 2014
432 pages

The massive Marvel Encyclopedia was first published in 2006 and revised in 2009. This latest revision hit the market earlier this year and now includes over 1200 character biographies. Ralph Macchio—not of The Karate Kid fame—wrote a new foreword for this edition, having served various capacities at Marvel since the mid-1970s, followed by an introduction by the legendary Stan Lee before the character profiles begin. And once you get lost in the back stories of the heroes and villains of the Marvel world, you will know more about them than you ever thought possible.

From first appearances to powers to primary allies and foes, both major and minor characters are chronicled in Marvel Encyclopedia. Of course, the major names are present: Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man. But lesser-known Marvel personalities such as Whizzer, Moon Boy, Doctor Bong, and Zaran are also given ink. There are also several entries on major storylines, such as “Annihilation” and “Civil War.” Artwork abounds throughout this volume, showing the evolution of some of the world’s greatest heroes and including newly commissioned cover art by Mike Deodato Jr.

Comic book fans, especially those who gravitate towards the Marvel universe, will love Marvel Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded.

Learn more about DK Publishing.

Purchase Marvel Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded.

Spider-Man Chronicle by Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning (2012)

Spider-Man book review

Spider-Man Chronicle:
Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging

by Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning
DK Books, 2012
352 pages

In the five decades since a radioactive spider bit Peter Parker, Spider-Man has gone through many evolutions in the comics. Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning do an excellent job of documenting those changes in Spider-Man Chronicle, a massive full-color volume that is essential reading to any serious Spidey fan. Highlighting the best stories and covers dating back to the 1960s, the authors leave no web unspun, documenting characters from the comics, writers that put words in their mouths, and artists that put their mark on the wall-crawler and his friends.

In addition to Spider-Man’s various titles, the artists also examine several of his guest appearances in other Marvel franchises such as X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four. Even the one-off Spider-Ham makes an appearance in this book, proving that Spider-Man Chronicle is certainly the most comprehensive history of the hero available in print.

Two fantastic lithographs are included with the book, drawn by John Tyler Christopher, who also lent his talents for the cover artwork. There is not a Spider-Man fan alive that would not appreciate this book. It is simply amazing, spectacular, and sensational.

Learn more about DK Books.

Purchase Spider-Man Chronicle by Alan Cowsill and Matthew K. Manning.

Time to update the @Netflix queue!

A ton of new titles were added to Netflix instant streaming this morning related to Marvel comics characters.

What are you doing after church services today?

The newest superhero in the Marvel Universe…


A ton of Marvel cartoons will be made available for streaming during 2011, from the big dogs Spider-Man and X-Men to the lesser known like Black Panther and Sub-Mariner. Beginning today, a bunch of ’90s and ’00s series and specials will stream, while the classics from the ’60s will come later this fall, and more promised by the comic book company!

The one I am most looking forward to is planned for a summer stream…the 1981 classic “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends!” I loved watching Spidey team up with Ice Man and Firestar every Saturday morning when I was a tiny tike, and can’t wait to watch those adventures again with my kids!

There is a fantastic fan site for the series here.

For the full list of what is coming to Netflix, read this news item on Marvel’s site. Or, if you’re already a Netflix streamer, go ahead and start watching…

(If they still say “unavailable,” check back later…they should be live sometime today)

NOTE: Pay attention to the ratings! As I was adding some of these titles, I noticed a few are marked TV-MA which are intended for adults, not kids.

If you are not yet a Netflix subscriber, you can try it out for free for the first month. Just sign up on

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