Beautiful Dreams and Wild Adventures.

31 05 2012

This past weekend saw my first official comic book signing and it was quite fitting that Marjorie Liu would be the writer for whom the signing was held. She is currently at the helm of Astonishing X-Men and responsible (at least in part) for the upcoming Northstar-gets-hitched issue. I’m a fan of Marjorie’s work with the shortlived X-23 ongoing (Claudine Renko is amazing) as well as her NYX: No Way Home series. That, coupled with my being an Alpha Flight and Northstar fanboy from way back made me jump at the opportunity to meet the woman who would be seeing him down the aisle.

Will gave me the heads-up about the signing prior to my visit to Boston. I packed accordingly and dug out everything in my collection with her name on it. I even brought some of the promotional material for the upcoming wedding issue (Astonishing X-Men #51).

Marjorie was very sweet and so thankful that we came out to see her. She and I talked a bit about some of her ideas for upcoming storylines. We spoke of who would make a good love interest for Karma and how much fun she is having writing characters like Warbird and Chimera. She swooned over the wedding invitation for Northstar and Kyle which Marvel had printed to promote the issue.

“Wishing you beautiful dreams and wild adventures!” is what she wrote on the invitation and it perfectly sums up why I still read comic books and will always appreciate meeting folks like Marjorie Liu.

Homo Homo Sapien Superior Marriage.

22 05 2012
"Astonishing X-Men" #51

“Astonishing X-Men” #51

Being a gay man technically makes you a minority. Being a gay man whose interests lie primarily in comic books, science fiction, video games, and all things nerd-oriented technically makes you a minority within a minority. Today, that minority within a minority was treated to the first images surrounding the upcoming nuptials of longtime X-Man/Alpha Flight member, Northstar. Undoubtedly, Abigail Brand could hear the excitement all the way up in her office on The Peak.

I’ve been looking at the wrap-around cover for the upcoming wedding issue (Astonishing X-Men #51). One of the first things I said to Will was that I hoped it would be released as a print or poster because I would love to have it framed and hanging in my apartment. Dustin Weaver did a fantastic job on the artwork.

If there’s one thing about me that’s true, it’s that I have absolutely no qualms about sounding like a geek. With that being said, when I looked at the abundance of Marvel characters in the image to the left, I think back to reading their stories as a kid and rooting for them to overcome their adversaries and triumph over the bad guys. In some silly way, by supporting and rooting for Jean-Paul and his marriage, these same characters are now rooting for me too.

A Perfect Fitting Blouse.

9 05 2012

Blouse performs at Sonic Boom Records in Toronto.

There is something to be said about having the opportunity for “face-time” with a musician/band that you admire and respect on an artistic level. There’s even more to be said about such “face-time” when the musician/band in question has genuine affection for their fans and is humbly grateful for the support they receive.

Shooting the breeze with Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. Doing shots of whiskey with Cults’ Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion. Debating CDs vs. vinyl records with the members of Exitmusic. There was no ego. No pretention. Just a mellow interaction with some very talented and down-to-earth artists.

During this past weekend’s visit from Will during which we had planned to see both St. Vincent and M83 play Town Ballroom, we decided to make a trek up to Sonic Boom Records in Toronto for an in-store performance by Blouse, a dreamy indie-pop band from Portland. I heard of Blouse after reading a blog entry on BrooklynVegan which compared the band to several other acts receiving heavy rotation on my turntable. After a quick visit to the iTunes store, I was completely enamored. Spin likened their beautiful and haunting synth-oriented music to that which would have been heard by the denizens of Twin Peaks on an evening at The Roadhouse. In my humble opinion, Blouse as the opening act for Julee Cruise on the night Maddy Ferguson was murdered would have been perfection.

When taking possible weekend traffic on the QEW and border crossing delays into account, I had concerns about making it back in time for the St. Vincent show later that evening… especially since I missed her back in December due to the event being cancelled (allegedly so Annie Clark could film her cameo on Gossip Girl). Needless to say, it all worked out in the end and we made it back to Buffalo with plenty of time to spare.

Sonic Boom Records is located amongst the narrow streets of the pedestrian mall known as the Kensington Market; a multicultural neighborhood lined with sidewalk stands of fresh produce, outdoor cafes, and eclectic shops. I immediately made a mental note to return at another time to explore the area a bit more.

Upon entering the store, we encountered a handful of artsy hipster types pawing through racks of vinyl LPs along with an upbeat and friendly staff. The drums and speakers were already set up so I took a prime spot right in front of where the band would be playing.

Within about 10 minutes of our arrival at Sonic Boom, Blouse showed up. I was instantly smitten with drummer Jacob Portrait’s vintage Dick Tracy t-shirt. How could any child of the early 90s not be smitten with a vintage Dick Tracy t-shirt donned by someone in 2012?

I was still standing by myself near the band’s equipment at this point and was able to partake in some small talk with singer Charlie Hilton who is a perfectly delicate blend of Nico and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand. I asked how the tour was going and mentioned how we came up from Buffalo on a whim to see them prior to the aforementioned St. Vincent show back home. Charlie was genuinely surprised and flattered that we would drive all that way just to see them.

The very intimate show started shortly thereafter. Roughly 15-20 people filed in to the store to hear Blouse play most of their debut record and the single “Shadow” (previously released through SubPop Records). The sound was surprisingly good given that we were all crowded into a small retail space. It was actually the clearest that I’ve heard a band sound live in a while.

Following the close of the set (side note: “Into Black” is one of my favorite tracks on the record), Will and I chatted up the band members a bit more. Charlie thanked us again for coming all that way and wished us a good evening at the St. Vincent show. They were all also gracious enough to sign my LP and numbered print advertising the in-store show. We said out goodbyes and hit the road back to the States.

It wasn’t until we were well on our way that Will put into words exactly what I was thinking, “I love that she remembered that we were going to St. Vincent tonight.” Something as simple as remembering our brief exchange prior to the beginning of the set was enough to make my day.

 True, it was probably only an hour between conversations with Charlie Hilton about our plans later that evening but it’s simple moments like those that can give a fan a lifelong memory.