Thursday, November 6, 2008

Life in the fast lane (HA!)

Reaching into my life's junk drawer and pulling out a few pieces:

Ubuntu 8.10 - Spent all of Thursday night downloading the update for my operating system, and so far it's meeting expectations. It came with the latest version of the GIMP, which features some new bells and whistles that I'm eager to exploit in pursuit of graphical excellence for Averlast. Maybe I'll try a hand at cooking up something for myself, if I ever find a store space again. My only real beef is with the KDE interface, which has the annoying habit of automatically setting my monitor to maximum resolution when I've set it to a more comfortable, lower level. That, and they still haven't fixed the bug that makes the mouse pointer jump spastically across the screen every once in a while. Usually while I'm working.

Comics' Greatest World - Dark Horse Comics has put out a bunch of "omnibus" trade paperbacks of late: Big, thick paper bricks collecting franchise titles like Indiana Jones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, another one has washed up 'pon the library's shores in the form of the Dark Horse Heroes Omnibus, Volume One. The book collects the best of what was marketed as "Comics' Greatest World": Dark Horse's stab at competing directly with Marvel and DC by creating its own universe of superheroes and villains. The result is something of a mixed bag. While the project created cult figures like Ghost, X, and Barb Wire (the last, alas, mainly remembered for a very forgettable movie), the majority of this very crowded cast of characters is uninspiring. Many of them are fashion victims of Rob Liefeld's undue influence of the time. Which is to say that a lot of them look like strippers. That's including the men. And nothing quite says "hilarity" quite like the attempts at creating a tough-looking street gang using nothing but revealingly-cut spandex. You know how lame somebody comes off when they're trying too hard to be cool? That's the vibe I'm getting from this book.

Death Was the Other Woman - Ah, now this is more like it! After many an evening spent devouring the adventures of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins, one sure way to get my attention is to put out another hardboiled detective yarn set in mid-20th Century Los Angeles. But instead of this story being told by the hard-drinking, streetwise shamus, we get his sharp-as-a-tack "girl Friday's" voice instead. Author Linda L. Richards could have easily veered this story into parody, making the detective an incompetent boob while his secretary solves the case behind the scenes (an approach actually taken with the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in 1988's Without a Clue with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley). Instead she paints a picture of a partnership, and the pair play off of each other well. Characters that could have been drawn broadly instead come across as real people, and the specter of the Depression seems to lurk in the background of even the lightest of scenes.


Linda L. Richards said...

Hey, wow: thank you. You made my day.

Abel Undercity said...

And you made mine by posting here! Now I just wish that I'd had the mental wattage at the time to be more fulsome in my praise of the book.