§ Nice Art: This Erika Moen comic about “The Stress Cycle” may help you calm down…or worry you more. Basically the non-life-threatening things that stress us out — reading Twitter, watching the news — have the same physiological reactions as, for instance, being threatened by a hungry tiger, and that can be stressful. Note, this is from The Oh Joy, Sex Toy website which is somewhat NSFW…but say, if you’re working at home, does that count?


§ Want to de-stress even more? Vulture takes a look at the ‘Hilda’ cartoon on Netflix, which is based on Luke Pearson’s Hilda graphic novels, and which is the perfect winter viewing. The Hilda cartoon has been a sleeper on Netflix for a while, and it’s nice to see it spotlighted.

Even when Hilda and her friends — a deer-fox pup (or is it a fawn? Unclear); a tiny paperwork-loving elf; a woodman who looks like he walked out of a Deku Scrub community from Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series; a friendly household spirit called a nisse; and a couple other human children, her Sparrow Scout troop-mates Frida and David — are braving the grasping arms of trolls, the maws of dragons, and the feet of giants, the show radiates warmth. Besides, stuck as they are in a once-wild world now overrun by humans, the trolls just want to be left alone, the dragons are suffering from social anxiety, and the giants just miss their friends. Have a little empathy! Hilda is, in fact, the perfect winter show, and not just because it’s obsessed with Nordic folklore and, specifically, Nordic yuletide traditions. The series is perfect for winter because it understands intimately that mood so beloved by the Danish, the Norwegians, and influencers in that long-ago year of 2016: hygge.


§ Long silent cartoonist Barry Windsor-Smith is back in 2021 with Monsters, a long brewing graphic novel, and the first reviews are ecstatic. 

Monsters combines gothic horror with comic book tropes to produce a melting pot of twisted drama, moral dilemmas, and unrelenting brilliance from the opening onwards. There is a powerful Frankenstein influence that has been combined with a Captain America style origin story. This is a merging of cultures and genres that crosses oceans, time, and mediums. Old British sensibilities have been grafted onto classic American pulp fictions to create something modern and inspirational. The narrative is the tour-de-force that Fantagraphics promise, and it will move you on several emotional levels.

§ How did comic book culture get so huge? The Mercury News asked some folks, many of them comics retailers, to explain, and Carr D’Angelo has the tell:

Carr D’Angelo, owner of the Earth-2 Comics stores in Sherman Oaks and Northridge, says he realized times had changed after the release of the first “Iron Man” in 2008. Prior to that, he’d been giving out “Anthony Stark” as a fake name whenever telemarketers called and wanted to speak to the store owner. And it worked, D’Angelo says, “because nobody knew that Tony Stark was Iron Man.” “Then the movie comes out, and I am talking to a telemarketer, and I said, ‘You can send that to Anthony Stark.’ And he goes, ‘Isn’t that Iron Man?’” D’Angelo remembers. “And I’m like, ‘Oops, game’s over. Now everyone knows who Iron Man is.’ That’s kind of the bellwether change.” That change has resulted in millions of new fans, many of whom might never have picked up an actual comic book in real life. “That’s even the crazier part to me,” D’Angelo says. “There are fans of Marvel, fans of Captain America, fans of Iron Man, who have never necessarily read a comic book. Yet they will swear up and down that they are the biggest Marvel fans on the face of the Earth — and in their terms, they are.”

§ BTW, this story has perhaps the sickest burn in the deck of all times: “No need to hide comics in your Pee-Chee folder anymore.”

§ David Harper had the idea that you want to read An Oral History of 2015’s Secret Wars with Jonathan Hickman, Tom Brevoort, and everyone else, and he was right. (Sub required.)

It was a monster of a series, resulting in the temporary ending of Marvel’s entire line, the destruction of the Ultimate Universe, the migration of Miles Morales (and others) to Marvel’s primary 616 universe, the sunsetting of the bulk of the Fantastic Four for more than two and a half years, and an array of story points that continue onwards in Marvel stories to this day. It wasn’t just a big deal in theory either. It sold like gangbusters and had a deep impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In short? Secret Wars changed everything.

§ Here’s an area woman story that reminds us that some things we take for granted can be a life changing event for others. Over in Hillsdale, MI, the Hillsdale Daily News is running “a week-long series of local people who have had famous encounters,” and they start out with a woman who met This is Us‘s Justin Haley…at a comic con. C2E2 to be exact. This makes us think a few things: It’s a slow news week in Hillsdale, and this series could have thousands of entries if you count conventions.

Anyway, the area woman greatly enjoyed the photo op, but not the photo.

When it came time to meet him, it went very quickly, she said.

“I walked up to him and remember him saying, ‘hey how’s it going’ and I could barely get the word ‘good’ out because I was so star struck,” Upton said. “He was much taller than I realized and it was my first celebrity meeting. We posed for a picture and he put his hand on my shoulder and all I could think was, ‘he is touching my shoulder!’ Then, he told me to have a great day and as I walked away he patted me on the back. As I walked over to get my picture, I was annoyed at myself that I did not say more to him or shake his hand or ask for a hug. But, I would have the picture to always remember it.”

When she got her picture, she said she was horrified at how she looked.

“At that point, I was the heaviest I had ever been and it really put a damper on the picture for me,” she said. “I almost did not post it on Facebook because I hated how I looked. But, I am blessed with so many awesome friends who helped me see how awesome this picture truly was. It took a few more months, but in September 2018, I started my weight loss journey and have since lost 140 pounds.”

§ Brian Cronin’s Comic Book Legends Revealed series digs deep into the little remembered history of Disney Comics for the tale of how Peter David tried and failed to write a story about how The Little Mermaid’s mother died.

§ A lot going on in the video game world. Scott Pilgrim the movie is now a beloved cult classic just like we told you it would be, and the video game based on the comics and movie is also a cult classic — maybe because the comic and the movie are actually inspired by video games and…well it all fits together, right? The long unavailable game has just been ported to current gaming platforms as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition! (Not remastered, though.)  Uproxx has a review. 

In the before times of 2010 a beat’em up was released exclusively for Xbox Arcade and PlayStation Network based on a movie that was based on a popular graphic novel. And somehow, all of them were unique enough that we’re loosely using the term “based” here. That game was Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game and at the time it was really exciting and novel concept. Licensed video game properties were still more well known for their incredible flops than being actually well-made video games. Scott Pilgrim, perhaps surprisingly, was one of the few exceptions.

Then, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished. The game was delisted in 2014 due to what is believed to have been a licensing issue. It’s unclear exactly whose license or what the problem was. Ubisoft may have just let their contract with the Scott Pilgrim franchise run out, or it could have had something to do with the composer of the game’s soundtrack from Anamanaguchi. The fact we know for certain is that, after 2014, the game became incredibly difficult to find. It was a digital only title, so the only way to play it was to have an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 that still had the game installed on its hard drive.

§ There’s been a surge in GameStop stock as a result of some kind of internet gamification, and James Surowiecki explains more.

GameStop is a struggling, kind of boring, mid-size retailer stuck in a legacy business — selling physical video games. But it’s also pretty much the only company anyone on Wall Street is talking about right now after its stock rose 160% in a matter of hours on Monday morning to an all-time high of $159. (By day’s end, GameStop’s price had been cut by more than half, but that still left it up more than 300% this year and almost 3,000% from its 52-week low. And it was up another 15% at Tuesday’s open.) It isn’t GameStop’s precipitous rise, impressive as that’s been, that has everyone fascinated. Instead, it’s what fueling that rise: concentrated buying by thousands upon thousands of small individual investors who are using sites like Reddit and Robinhood to drive up what are now being called “meme stocks.” GameStop is the best-known of these meme stocks, simply because its gains have become so outrageous. 

cyberpunk 2077 disaster

§ When people write the history of these times, the massive disaster that was the launch of the video game Cyberpunk 2077 should be a cautionary footnote. Bloomberg has the deepest story, Cyberpunk 2077: What Caused the Video Game’s Disastrous Rollout, but the site has a boss-level paywall, so you may enjoy a write around from Eurogamer. 

However, according to Bloomberg, CD Projekt’s own developers said many common problems were discovered, but the staff didn’t have time to fix them before launch. According to Bloomberg’s sources, CD Projekt’s management dismissed concerns raised by engineers that Cyberpunk 2077 was too complex to run well on the ageing last-gen consoles.

The report also revealed that while Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012, full development began in 2016 when studio head Adam Badowski took over as director and overhauled the game, including shifting it from third-person to first-person.

Bloomberg reports Cyberpunk 2077’s eye-catching E3 2018 demo “was almost entirely fake”. “CD Projekt hadn’t yet finalised and coded the underlying gameplay systems, which is why so many features, such as car ambushes, were missing from the final product,” Bloomberg said. “Developers said they felt like the demo was a waste of months that should have gone toward making the game.

A cautionary tale of hubris, indeed.