Friday, January 31, 2014

The Gay Wave

So I've noticed something as of late:  There are a lot of gay characters in comics I read.  Of course, I do reach out to lesser known strips much of the time as the ones with the larger audiences, like Sluggy Freelance and Schlock Mercenary, don't have any gay characters I can think of off the top of my head (meaning they might have them, but I don't remember them).  But I do read a great many who do have them and it makes me wonder why.

Not that I have a problem with it, I feel I must reiterate this because people tend to read the wrong things into statements like that.  No my issue is purely from a character and story telling angle.  Why is that character gay?  It's the same thing that triggered my rantish post on Exiern not too long ago and the fact that it was outright stated when it was unnecessary.

Still, I understand he had his reasons for it and while I think it could hurt the character and comic in the long run, it's not guaranteed.  But for other comics, I'm less sure, and more worried.  In fact, I see this happening with other "minorities" (yeah, not so minor any more, but you get my point) at various points in the past.  As such, I think there are only a few valid reasons to make a character gay, black, a woman, white, male, transsexual, Asian, etc, etc, etc.

The first reason is they just are.  I know that sounds like the weakest reason, and in a way it can be, but it's still valid.  There's no reason for the character to be gay, no hidden agenda, no message, no plan, no anything, the character just is gay.  There's couple advantages to this method, the first being that some OTHER trait can take priority over the character's long term development.  Also, it leaves the option open to explore the gay trait in the future if necessary.

The next best reason is that is important for character development.  Sera from Serenity Rose is gay, but it isn't confronted directly until near the end of the comic.  Before that, it was just another layer of division from the rest of the world, already amplified by the fact that she is one of 57 witches in the entire world.  Being gay further segregated her from the world, and charged her crippling social anxiety.  While being gay is important to her character, it doesn't really affect the comic as a whole.  Had she not been gay, some of the events would have changed, but I suspect the story would have generally remained the same.

The final good reason is that the author/artist has something to say on the subject.  What the comic is trying to say varies quite a bit.  Material Girl covers the crossdressing thing pretty well, the basic message being it doesn't matter what you wear, it's who you are underneath that's important.  Dumbing of Age does it not as well, but I think the point is still there about how being gay affects the people around the person and how they might change how they act as a result.  There is an issue, but I'll get to that with the worst reason to make a character gay:

Everyone else is doing it.  This is what I fear a lot of comics are doing (not necessarily the ones I'm reading).  It reminds me of the "token character" trend from the 80's and 90's that peppered television and other forms of media.  Random, non-white characters were added and given the most stereotypical aspects possible to act as if they were being diverse.  The same problem comes up for gay characters.  In attempting to "stay current" they just gather whatever they think they know about gay characters and throw them in, creating stereotypical characters that are worse than even the worst slurs.  Having something to say on the topic has the same issue, but unless the author has access to someone who IS gay (or are gay themselves) the trap of stereotypes is laid and could easily be fallen into.

Like I said, I don't think any of the comics I read fall into the last one, but I do wonder how many comics have been falling into it.  I hope it's not many.  Until next time kiddies.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

No Dreams This Week

Too damn tired to translate it.  Next week, I promise.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sorry about that

Due to a snafu in publishing, I didn't get the article I intended out this week.  It'll go out on the 31st instead.  Sorry about that.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 13

            Night had fallen some time ago as Deborah lounged back on a bale of hay.  They had been going all day, and well into the night, longer than before.  It wasn't fun, as they kept up a near running pace for most of it, but it was completely necessary.  Undoubtedly the authorities would be out looking for them after what L’lorne had done inside the CDPC.

            Now, though, they could relax, just as soon as L’lorne got back from talking to the farmers about getting some blankets.  The old barn that she now laid in the upper loft of was plenty warm enough, and the nights had been very nice recently, but the main concern was the itchy hay, and their combined desire not to lie upon it.

            Warm nights.  It had been oddly warm, it finally occurred to Deborah, especially for mid March.  Hadn't the weather man mentioned something about the weather being out of season or something?  She could remember snippets of it, but it really wasn't important.  Something else about the report was important, but she couldn't lock her thoughts on what it was exactly.

            "Hey," L’lorne stopped and shook her head as Deborah giggled at the greeting.  "Ha, ha, very funny.  Here," she tossed a blanket at Deborah and it covered her head in a lump.  "We're good here until tomorrow.  We've even been invited for breakfast."

            "Sounds good," Deborah laid out her blanket against and along the hay bale and nestled into it.  Ah, not to be itchy, it felt good.  "Think we'll be able to take them up on it?"

            "Maybe, depends."

            "On whether they're still looking for us?"

            "Oh, I doubt they'll stop looking for us," L’lorne said, then started to gaze at a beam in the wall.

            Deborah picked up on it.  "What are you looking for?"

            "Police frequencies.  They may not stop looking for us, but they might move their search elsewhere."  Her face went from blank to curiously confused.  “Interesting, nothing.”


            “No police or military frequencies.  It’s as if they’re going for radio silence. . .” L’lorne trailed off.

            “What is it?”

            L’lorne looked at her and smiled.  “Oh nothing you need to worry about.”

            Deborah looked at her companion then shrugged and leaned back.  If it was important, she had decided sometime ago, L’lorne would tell her.  If it wasn't, she'd just have to ask later.  Speaking of which.  "You really beat the hell out of those guys."

            "Yeah," L’lorne responded as she shuffled her blanket around amongst the hay.  "That I did."

            "Especially since they all had guns and you didn't have anything."

            L’lorne chuckled slightly, again.  Deborah was both irritated and relieved.  Irritated every time L’lorne revealed some new trick or idea, and relieved that there was a new trick she hadn't heard about yet.  "Not exactly nothing, I used this."  With that, she tapped on a small pouch on her right hip.

            Deborah, in all the time walking with L’lorne, had never even noticed it, and this was the second time it had happened.  The first was the watch that even now she could see bobbing on the wrist that tapped on the new addition, a strange pouch with a crescent shaped bottom that stretched out slightly farther than the rest of the pouch.  "What is it, a gun?"

            "An axe." 

            Deborah looked at the pouch and thought that yes, she could see it being an axe, an axe head at least.  She wondered where the handle was, probably in another pouch that she won't notice until the last minute.  "Um, wouldn't that have left more serious injuries than simply knocking them out?"

            "I use it mostly for the weight," L’lorne closed her eyes and leaned against the wall of hay.  "That and I'm very good at using it, if I must say so myself."  Deborah chuckled with L’lorne this time at the little bit of self praise L’lorne just issued.  "But that's not what you wanted to know.  Is it?"

            The girl blinked, scratched her cheekbones lightly and almost blushed.  “Well, yeah, it’s just,” she paused again, searching for the wording she wanted.  “How did I do it?”  L’lorne looked at her and Deborah quickly added, “How did I find my mother?”

            “Ah, that’s what’s on your mind.  Alright, I’ll try to explain it.”  She moved forward so she could look Deborah right in the eyes.  “Your brain is wired differently than most other people.  You have this natural ability to see patterns in complicated things, sometimes things thought to be unpredictable.”

            “How do I do that?”

            “That requires knowing a lot about how the brain works, physics and a few other things that, to be honest, you don’t quite know enough to understand yet.”  She held up her hand trying to hold off the negative reaction she expected from Deborah.  “In time you can learn them, but until then, you’ll just have to trust that you can do it, and leave it at that.”  L’lorne leaned back against the wall again.

            Deborah could only accept this response, agreeing with L’lorne’s assessment of her education, but also knowing that she really didn’t have the time at the moment to learn it.  “Okay, but what do you mean by patterns and unpredictable things?”

            “Well, let’s try it this way.”  L’lorne twirled her fingers in the air a bit as she seemed to think of the best way to explain.  “A smart person, a very smart person, could look at a sequence of numbers and say what the next number is.  If I said ‘1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, they could probably work out the next number is 9, and later what every number in the sequence is, using a mathematical formula.”  She looked over at Deborah.  “If I said ‘1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 to you and asked for the 30th number in the sequence, you would reply. . .”

            “3329,” Deborah said without thought.  She blinked, a bit shocked at the sudden response, while L’lorne smiled, confirming it as the correct answer.  “And this helped me find mama?”

            “Indeed, but that’s only the most recent example of what you can do.  Earlier you could predict things such as the routes of police cars on the streets, knowing where the next blow from an attacker was coming from, tracking me through the city and a simple game of chess all fall within the same category.”

            “Like seeing bullets?”

            L’lorne seemed surprised at the question and looked at Deborah for a brief moment.  “You could see them?  Interesting.”


            “Well,” L’lorne said looking up at the ceiling in thought.  “The path of a bullet isn’t exactly complicated, but under normal conditions, no, you can’t see bullets.”

            “But I did,” Deborah protested.

            “I don’t doubt that, but the conditions at the time weren’t exactly normal.”  Deborah scrunched her face in frustration.  “First, you had been using your talent quite extensively on the data stream.  At the moment, you can’t simply turn on and off your talent; it just flows from one event to another.  That would help, but in the end, you mostly saw them because you were still wearing the glasses.”

The glasses were now in her pocket, Deborah checked the pocket with a pat, but she hadn't actually taken them off until they had reached the farm.  "I don't understand."

            "Once you knew what you were doing, the glasses made an effort to help you do it.  They assisted in finding the information on your mother initially, highlighting whatever word or phrase your eyes focused on.  When we were being shot at, your eyes started looking for the routes of the bullets.  The glasses helped by filling in what you wanted to see.  The bullets."

            "The bullets."  Deborah said it nearly at the same time as L’lorne.  "I didn't realize they were so powerful."

            "Not really," L’lorne off handedly.  "Truth is they're a simple tool, nothing special, but important when you're first learning."

            "Learning what?"

            L’lorne opened her mouth to speak, but stopped and looked out the open loft door.  "We have visitors."

            Deborah turned to the door and peered out.  A truck, a big one, with military markings, rumbled down the road kicking up a mess of dust that even in the darkening evening stood out against ground.  "They found us," she said with alarm.

            "Relax.  I'll go see what's up."  L’lorne began climbing down the ladder to the barn floor.

            "Wait, I'll go with you," Deborah started.

            "You can watch, the glasses work like binoculars too."  And she was gone.

            Deborah tried to find the breath to counter the suggestion she just stay put, but gave up on it and dug the glasses out of her pocket.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. Does the explanation of Deborah's ability make sense here?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Just a General Update Thingy

So hi, how's it going?  I'm fine.  I'm working.

That's really what this rather brief post will be about, that I'm working.  A lot.  It shouldn't interfere with site updates, but it might.

The scheduling isn't really weird, but annoyingly early in the morning.  And long hours.  My point is, despite me working, I do intend to keep updating the blog.  The issue is finding time to come up with articles or reading comics for reviews.

Still, work means money, money means food which means I live longer, so that's positive.

In the meantime, I'll try to at least keep Dreams of Stars updated.  I've got ideas for articles, just need to sit down and write them.  Reading comics for reviews might be a little rougher though.  We'll see as things go on.  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 12

Sorry on the shortness of this section.  Probably should have posted it last week, but the next section starts a new scene and it would have felt weird.  Ah well.

            The door snapped open.  "Glad to hear it."  L’lorne gestured for Deborah to follow her.  "Let's go, I've bought us some time."

            "Time?"  Deborah reached the door and paused for a moment.  "What about that guy?"  She pointed to Sergeant Blake, lying half naked just inside the small data room.

            "He'll be fine, his friends will get him out."  L’lorne stepped over a second person sprawled out on the office floor.  "Well, as soon as he wakes up," she indicated to new body on the floor, who groaned and started to move.  “Which will be sooner rather than later I suppose.”

            "What happened?

            L’lorne sighed.  "This guy, and another one who got away, must have been friends with Blake there, and they saw through my attempts to fool them."  She should have sounded upset at her failure, but she didn't even seem a bit depressed by it, as if she meant for it to happen.  "Got him with the tape dispenser, missed the girl with the stapler though.  Sloppy work."

            "Oh, well, um, two out of three, I guess," Deborah said.  "So what happened then?"  The office door opened just as the data center door closed, and the two stepped out into the hallway.  All around, up and down the passageway, were bodies.  Deborah caught her breath as something like twenty men and women all dressed in uniforms clung to the floors and walls in various poses.  The only movement was the occasionally rise and fall of their chests, otherwise they were motionless.  "Oh my."

            "They'll be fine," L’lorne said flatly.  "I put them down when they tried to rush the office.  Guess they figured a woman couldn't defend herself."  There was a snicker.  "Or even attack.  They learned though."

            Deborah bent down and touched one of the soldiers.  "Looks painful."

            "Pain is temporary, they'll be fine."  L’lorne looked down the hallway in the opposite direction from which they arrived.  "We should get going, I'm sure they're going to send more people to check on their friends." 

            Deborah nodded and began a light trot back they way they had come.  "So we're just going to go down the elevator?"  L’lorne didn’t reply, but kept moving.  At the doors to the elevator, Deborah stopped and pushed the call button.  The light didn't come on, so she pressed it again.  Still nothing.

            "Don't bother," L’lorne said quietly.  "They've shut them down."

            "How do you. . ." Deborah never finished.

            "HALT!"  Right at the turn in the hall, a man, dressed in heavy combat gear and wielding a large, impressively intimidating weapon, yelled at the two them again, ordering them on to the ground.  He was quickly joined by three more soldiers, each with their own impressively intimidating weapons, all of them looking almost as scared of what it was they were aiming at as Deborah immediately felt upon seeing them.

            "Time to go," L’lorne said quickly, and she grabbed Deborah.  In a moment, the girl was flung up into L’lorne's arms, and the combination charged away from the weapons and the people who held them.

            Deborah could only just see over L’lorne's shoulder, and it was enough to see the leader give the order and the flashes of the weapons as they fired.  She had seen guns before, Danny occasionally brought one out for whatever effect he was trying to pull, and sometimes the cops did too, but never had she seen one fired, especially not at her.  The sight and the sound caused Deborah to want to bury herself into L’lorne's body and hide, but the shock of seeing it at all froze her.

            The bullets came.  The bland carpet was dotted puffs of dust and splinters as each piece of metal exploded into them.  More explosions, this time of plaster and bland paint, followed L’lorne's running body down the hall, tearing the walls apart and leaving ripped chunks of walls and small holes.  Bullets that should have hit their targets, however, seemed always to veer at nearly the last moment, passing by harmlessly or suddenly diving away and ripping into the walls and floor.

            Deborah's initial shock passed into questioning as to how these soldiers and their impressively intimidating weapons could miss so poorly.  This was all superseded when L’lorne suddenly turned around.  In an instant, the shooting guards were replaced with walls and their newly acquired bullet holes, and finally the glass of the lone window.  The light jump Deborah felt ripple up L’lorne's body was enough for her to turn her head and duck down.

            L’lorne's back shattered the glass.  Fragments passed by them, almost in slow motion, and Deborah could actually watch the individual particles of glass floating with them as the two moved through the empty sky.  She was screaming now, though when she had started she wasn't sure, but she was, and even more so since the bullets seemed to stand out against the bright blue sky that much more.  Then the fragments stopped moving, or at least didn't move the same way.  They looked almost like they were going backwards, back to where they came from.  As she watched and screamed, the fragments did indeed go back, and the window reformed behind them, only to have bullets create a bright flash behind them as the glass stopped each one cold.

            A sudden thump indicated that L’lorne had landed, and Deborah was able to stop herself from screaming.  She was confused, bewildered by the sudden turn of events, but time wasn't on their side, and L’lorne tugged on her arm to keep her moving.  Even so, Deborah managed to look back long enough at the window, some five stories up, and the impact blasts of a dozen bullets that it contained.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. Effectively, this is the halfway point of the story, so what do you think so far?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Retrospective; Serenity Rose

Wait, there's no Serenity Rose on the read list?  Actually it is, under the website name Heart-Shaped Skull.  Technically the name of the comic is Serenity Rose, and back at the end of November it ended.  Which threw a wrench in my plans to have it be on my "Can't Live Without" list.  Guess I'll have to live without it though.

Not that I think it's over for good.  I'll get to that in a bit, but I will say that this phase of the comic's life is over, and that fits a retrospective as well as anything.  The last page is a "Let's Go Exploring" moment for pete's sake! (and if you don't get that reference, I will educate you sometime this year).

I almost want to talk about this more as a proper review than a retrospective because there's so much to talk about.  Little things like a floating teacup near the end, a mysterious villain, awesome characters (I love Tess), and a growth curve most comics only dream of.  If the comic wasn't so relatively short (despite 10 years of being online), I could almost do another Standard on it.  Almost.

There are two phases to the comic, differentiated by a stark difference in art style.  The earlier, "muppet" style and the more realistic style.  When it switches, the basic framing of the comic, a drawn dairy, more or less fades into the background, only coming back for the occasional backstory interlude.  It doesn't feel as jarring as it could because of this. It works so well that during a period when I couldn't read a pair of chapters in the middle of the comic, the brief bits caught me up very quickly that I didn't even really notice I missed it (though actually reading those sections showed how much I actually missed).

I think, though, the best way to describe this comic is to point out that it's not a "growing up" comic.  So many of those are out there, it's cliche and would have been rather easy, but there is no easy way out here.  Sera is 22 when the comic starts, in college, with all her high school days, as awful as they are, behind her.  So the characters are older, but that doesn't mean they don't have growing up to do, right?  Here, no, she's done growing up, the comic goes in another direction, growing into.  Very different things because what Sera's life will be in the future isn't quite written.

It becomes clear after the first chapter that the entire piece is about what she could be if she wanted.  She could be a rock star, a ruler, a pirate and even just go completely mad.  By the end, she choses none of those things, but the journey to that point is the point.

And I suppose that's what makes this comic so good to me.  It's not another high school/college strip, it's not about wacky antics or grand mysteries.  It's about one person finder her place in the world after all that growing up stuff is over, and seeing what the world really has to offer her, and what she has to over the world.

So why don't I really think it's over?  Well, that's easy, the artist said it wasn't over.  He'll do more with Sera in the future, that's clear, but what?  I think I know.  He recently had a kickstarter (which I failed to mention because I didn't notice it until it was basically over, along with the comic, I'm really bad at that), and that ended with a thank you video.

Where Serenity Rose rises up and gives a whispered "thank you."  Looking through some of the kickstarter stuff, she was created as a subject for his animation coursework and moved to webcomics later.  Yeah, I think he's planning a video series.  Whether he gets to it or not, I don't know, but I think it's in the cards at least.

Until then, this comic is over, for now.  I'll put it in Hiatus until it's officially done, or not as the case may be.

Next time, um, not sure.  Depends on how insane my new job is (looks pretty nuts).  Until then kiddies.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 11

            Deborah pounded on the door for a moment, hoping that some way, somehow, it would magically open and L’lorne would be on the other side smiling and saying "just kidding."  After that moment had passed, and she accepted her fate with a glare at poor Sergeant Blake.  She put the sunglasses on with a final sigh.  "Can you hear me?"

            "Of course.  And pounding on the door will not make it open."

            Deborah groaned and slumped against the door.  "Why do I have to do it?  Wouldn't you be better at it?"

            "No doubt about that," L’lorne replied, her voice as crystal clear through the miniature speakers of the glasses as it would have been had she been in the room.  "But looking at our boy's work list here, it seems this office is rather busy, and even if I did do it, odds are good we'd be discovered before I was done."

            "So why am I doing it?  I don't even know what I'm doing, which means it'll take even longer to get it done."

            "Well, do you think you could bluff anyone who came in that you were supposed to be here?"

            "Well," Deborah started.

            "And do you think you could remember everything Sergeant Blake did and asked when we first talked to him?  What forms to fill out, what language to use when asking questions and how much information is enough or too much?"  Deborah remained silent, as all L’lorne said was quite true.  "You still there?"

            The solid walls of the room were given a quick glance.  "Where else would I be?"

            "You don't have to get so defensive," she said almost caringly.  "Now, why don't we go about finding your mother so we can get out of here?"

            "Fine, where do we start?"

            "Probably at the terminal, considering there isn't much else in there."

            Deborah pushed herself from the wall and made her way to the large desk at the end of the room and leaned over the display screen.  The words ‘USER’ and ‘PASSWORD’ stared back at her and sighed at the sight.  “Okay, so now what do I do?”

            L’lorne's light chuckle was slowly becoming almost irritating to Deborah's ears, because she knew that right after she would find some miraculous answer or solution to whatever problem they now faced.  This time would likely prove no different.  "Bring up the database."

            "I can't, it needs a pass. . ." she caught herself when she realized that L’lorne was talking about the Delphi database.  "Access database," she said quietly, thinking it more than even saying it.  The familiar logo with the stylized 'Delphi' came up and was quickly replaced by the blank command line.

            "Now, ask for the name and password to access the terminal."

            "It's going to know that?"

            "Or figure it out, whichever comes first."

            Deborah paused for a moment and thought.  How to word this request?  So far, she had only asked it for information on Art Flexible and listened to some music.  That experience, however, didn't lend itself very easily to the current situation.  Shrugging, she finally simply asked.  "What is the user name and password needed to access this terminal?"

            The two words came up fast, far faster than she had expected.  It was a simple entry, A. Blake, johnjanedoe, and Deborah carefully entered them into the keyboard and thus into their respective blanks on the display.  One click later, and the screen changed to whole series of blank lines identified by a few careful phrases and all waiting to be filled in.

            "We're in," she announced.

            "Good, good.  Now we can begin searching."

            "Right."  Deborah began filling in the blanks with her mother's information.  This was going to be easy.  It made her wonder what else the glasses could actually do.  She thought about just asking the glasses where her mother was, but chuckled the thought away.  That's when a new thought came up.  "Um, this isn't going to work."

            "What makes you say that?"  L’lorne said calmly.

            "Well, this is a missing persons form, letting people know she’s missing.  But we already know that, we’re trying to find her."

            "True, we'll have to dig beneath the surface."

            Deborah nodded.  "Yes," she added quickly, remembering L’lorne wasn't actually in the room with her.  "How do we do that?"

            "Tell the glasses to display the terminal's data stream."

            "What's that?"

            The girl could swear she heard L’lorne smile.  "You'll see."

            A grumble echoed from Deborah's chest, followed by a sigh of surrender.  She hadn't steered her wrong yet, might as well try it one more time.  "Please display the terminal's data stream."

            She let out an ear piercing scream as the image burned her eyes.  She threw the glasses down and backed right into the wall, rubbing at her eyes with all her worth.  Tears ran out from under the balls of her hand as she cried out again in pain.  "Deborah!"  The glasses were screaming out now, muffled only by the distance.  "Are you alright?  Say something."

            "My eyes," she responded.  "It was so bright."  The room came back into view, a little blurry, but it was there.  "I'm okay.  Just caught me off guard, I think."

            "Good, good," the glasses said again, L’lorne's voice still sounding very concerned despite the wording.  "You need to box up that screen, it'll help and then."  There was a pause, and then a curse in a language Deborah had never heard before.  "Back in a moment, company."

            Deborah didn't respond, she was too busy rubbing at her eyes to try to get the blur out.  The image she saw, only briefly, was so bright, and so sudden that she could have just as likely stared right into the sun after living in darkness all her life.  Finally, she gained back enough of her sight to pick up the glasses from where they fell on the terminal counter and put them back on.

            What greeted her was almost indescribable.  Letters, numbers, symbols, whole words sometimes, flew across her line of sight, going in every direction, some even spinning around in circles.  The bold white text danced around, moving under and over other lines of text, sometimes overlapping another set and passing straight through.  The scene was amazing, but dizzying, and Deborah decided she couldn’t keep staring at it like this.

            Remembering L’lorne's last comment before she cut off, Deborah went about the task of boxing up the image.  She had learned the trick the previous day, when her entire field of view was full of pictures and text boxes that overwhelmed her view of the road in front of her.  "Box image," she said, holding her fingers in a pair of overlapping L's to form a box in front of her.  "This size."  How the glasses knew what size she wanted, she didn't know, and L’lorne wasn't very forthcoming with details, which was probably for the best, Deborah didn't figure she'd understand those details anyway.

            The glasses, of course, obeyed.  The image instantly shrank to the size of her fingers, making a snug little box right in front of her.  Without pulling her hands away from their position hovering in front of her, she moved to the desk and placed them roughly over the terminal display.  "Lock."  The image would now not move from that position, even if Deborah did, and with that she let her hands go.  "L’lorne?"

            Another strange curse came through.  "Well, that didn't last long."

            "What didn't last long?"

            "My bluffing abilities don't seem to be quite up to par today," she said with a depressed tone, but despite that, there didn't seem to be an ounce of regret underneath it.  "We'll have some company soon."

            Deborah rubbed her nose and chin in exasperation.  "Great.  Guess we better get going."

            "Nah, I got these guys.  You find your mom in the data stream; I'll make sure you're not disturbed."

            "Uh, are you sure?"

            "Definitely.  Not a problem at all."  Behind the words, Deborah could almost hear the sound of metal rubbing on metal, like a sword being drawn from a scabbard or something, but she could only guess at that, having never really seen such a thing.

            "Well, okay.  So, what do I do?"

            "Look for your mom's name in the data stream."

            "That's it?"

            "Yeah, pretty much."

            She looked down at the boxed screen and whirl of characters that it contained.  "I can't do this," she said after only a short moment.  "There's nothing here, just, garbage."

            "Yes you can," L’lorne sounded reassured, but a little winded, like she was doing something strenuous at the same time.  "Remember how you followed me through the city?"

            "Yeah, but I didn't do anything."

            "You did, and you can do it again.  Just look at it.  Don't concentrate on anything, just let your eyes wander.  They'll know what to do, even if you don't."

            Deborah looked back the screen and tried to do as L’lorne suggested, but her eyes grew tired quickly, her mind cluttered with meaningless number and random words.  She locked onto a strand that spat out a line of numbers and letters that seemed to have no viable pattern, and she eventually turned away in disgust.  "I can't, I can't do it.  I'm sorry, I can't."

            "Lack of awareness," L’lorne said quickly, as if diagnosing something.  "I think you're missing the fact that you can.  You've always been able to.  Remember when we first met, when that drunk was trying to grab you?  Think about how hard a time he had getting even close to you."

            Deborah didn't want to think about it.  She wasn’t a great pickpocket, but good enough of to have grabbed the wallet of a drunk man, at least that what she had thought.  She could remember being so scared as he tried to grab her in the alley, mostly because it reminded her of a client of her mother’s.  He seemed nice and gentle all night with her mother, but Deborah could see the look in his eyes, the movement of his body, like he didn't want either of them to know what he was really thinking or wanting.  He said things, odd things, that didn’t seem to mesh with what he was doing.  As the night wore on, it became more and more apparent that he was trying to hide the reality of what his plans were, and when he finally leapt at the chance, Deborah had been ready.  She caught his foot with one hand and. . .

            Lack of awareness.  That's what L’lorne had said, and suddenly Deborah understood what she meant.  That's how he caught the man's foot, how she stopped the guy from beating her for so long, how she followed L’lorne, the chess game, the cop watch, thing little things on the street, everything.  It wasn't something she knew how to control, far from it, but she could do, had done it more times than she could count.

            Her mind set, she glared back into the abyss of text that swirled around underneath her.  She let her eyes wander across the text, and she read bits, but didn't try to make anything of them, she just wanted to know them.  Names occurred every so often, but she didn't dawdle on them, reading them and letting them pass just as quickly.  Numbers that seemed not to have any rhyme or reason passed under her eyes, and soon she was anticipating what the next sequence would be, and more than that, she knew what they were:  dates.  Lots of them.  Times popped up every so often, along with location names, form numbers, user names, passwords, people's names, jumbles of facts:  gender, age, birthplace, parent's name, and etcetera.  It all made sense almost suddenly, and she could feel herself scanning the information with purpose, even if she didn't really have one in mind.

            Then the name appeared.  Patricia Teresa Ignigus.  She followed the strand, and as she read it, the information popped up on another box alongside the main one.  She ignored most of it, taking only a minor note of the 28 year age, but when the location came up, she locked onto it and gave a whoop.  "I got it!"



1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
 3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Can't Live Without 2014 Edition

Dear god, I've done this blog long enough to have a bi-yearly series.  Neat!  Anyway, I figure I should only do this every 2 years because, well, I don't add that many comics to my list in a single year, and some changes are pretty stark.  As a reminder, this list is presented in no particular order as it doesn't represent a "best of" list, it's just a list of comics that I want to read forever if possible.

1.  Sluggy Freelance - I spent a good chunk of this year talking about Sluggy, so is it really any surprise this is on the list?  Sluggy has really drawn me back into it and knowing that it will end at some point has me pulled in even further, hope Abrams can live up to it.

2.  Schlock Mercenary - How many times have I called this the best overall comic on the internet at this point?  I think I've lost count.  That's why it's here.

3.  Gunnerkrigg Court - Speaking of best comics, this comic is certainly up there.  Why haven't you read it by now?

4.  Spinnerette - There's something freeing about a comic that just goes with a genre.  The superhero genre itself has been in desperate need of it for a long time and Spinnerette fills that need.  It's the comic the industry needs, and so do I.

5.  Gaia - This comic has really grown on me since I started it.  The imaginative world, the limited yet already hinting at epic story, and the great art have elevated it up to a level that Gunnerkrigg Court and Errant Story once dominated.  Hell, it's practically a full on successor to Errant Story at this point.

6.  Derelict - My original review of this comic can be summed up with the word "wow."  It is damn near everything I look for in a comic (I prefer a bit more humor generally).  It has mystery, well used art, story telling without TELLING and is just plain awesome.  I hope it keeps going for a long time.

7.  City of Reality - There still isn't really anything like this comic out there.  It plays with so many ideas, but at it's core is understanding and that makes it one of the most positive comics online today.  Sure, dark things happen, but there is so much optimism in it, it's used as a fuel source (literally, in the comic universe).  While the artist has been torn between multiple projects (including doing the art for The Wotch), whenever he returns to CoR, I know it'll be awesome.

8.  The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - Sometimes I just have to have a dose of laughter.  Once this was filled by Nobody Scores!, now, since that comic dead as a doornail, Wonderella is here to the rescue, or whatever.  Seriously I have gotten more chuckles out of this comic as time has gone by than I should reasonably.  I need something to laugh at and with, and this is the best that I have right now.

9.   Between Failures - I haven't been in a good place the last few years, not the least of it being the lack of a steady job.  Between Failures, for some reason, rings well with me, and eases some of the issues I've had in my life.  It reflects the state I've found myself in and I can't help but enjoy reading it.  It's not perfect, but it's also not outlandish and seems to understand that even small scale can be interesting without being melodramatic (for the most part).

10.   Sunstone (NSFW) - Okay, I know what you're thinking, but seriously no, that's not why it's here.  It doesn't HURT it, that's for damn sure.  The comic is just fucking gorgeous, of course, but the story is a well done tale of romance that I guess I'm just a sucker for.  I can't help but enjoy it, even if it is stuck on deviant art.  Get a real website already!

My  Honorable Mentions go to two comics that I want to keep reading, and CAN, but only because they're in reruns, Errant Story and Weapon Brown.  I love the idea of reruns of comics, though I can see why they aren't done very often.  And if you compare this list to the last one, a lot has changed, sometimes because a comic simply up and dies (Blip) or because I've decided I like something else better (The Adventures of Dr. McNinja).  Nice thing about doing these every couple of years, my tastes can change rather dramatically.

There is one other comic that almost made this list, but for one very important reason I couldn't put it here.  I'll talk about it next week, until then kiddies. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 10

            "Get a little lost?" the sergeant behind the desk said as Deborah and L’lorne entered.  He was dressed in military greens and was rather young.

            "Just a little," L’lorne said rather sheepishly.  The door clicked closed as she and Deborah took up a position opposite the desk sergeant.

            The room was as bland as the hallway, but it was offset by stakes of papers amongst the various shelves and cabinets.  "Yeah, everybody's gotten lost since they moved us up here," the sergeant continued.

            "It's so small," Deborah commented, mostly to herself, but slightly to L’lorne.

            "Damn straight it is," the sergeant, whose name tag said Blake, grumbled.  He pulled his chair up and sat down.  Less than a chair length behind him sat the opposite wall of the office as well as a second door.  The roughly square room left little space beyond the place where Deborah and L’lorne stood.  "I don't think it'd be so bad, but they had us lock the terminals behind that door," he motioned to it.  "Makes doing this job that much harder."

            "I imagine," L’lorne said as she glanced around for a chair to sit down at.  The only available seat was covered high in papers, and she strummed the top with a bit of irritation.

            "Yeah I know," Blake said with a bit of irritation.  "The Lieutenant has been bitching at me to clean this place, but when I'm expected to do all the database searches, I just don't have the time."  He grunted a shrug and pulled out a piece of paper.  "Well, I guess we should get down to business.  What's the name?"

            L’lorne jabbed Deborah slightly, startling the girl, but she quickly pulled herself away from staring at one of the inspirational posters that honestly wasn't all that inspirational.  "Ignigus, Patricia Teresa."

            "Whole name this time, nice," Blake replied.

            "She might be using just one or the other," L’lorne added.  "Might want to check under both."

            "My thoughts exactly.  Got an age?"

            Deborah balked a bit.  "Uh, well," she thought a moment.  If she was 12, and then her mother had to be. . . "Thirty at least."

            "Between 25 and 30," L’lorne added.  Deborah glanced up at her questioning.  "She looks young for her age."

            "Gotcha."  The next few minutes were spent reciting what details Deborah could remember.  Last seen?  Description?  Relatives?  Possible priors?  When finished, Sergeant Blake seemed quite pleased with the result.  "Good, good.  I love it when all the blanks are filled," he smiled.  "Makes my job that much easier.  Shame it doesn’t happen more often."  He stood up and turned towards the door.  "Be just a minute." 

            L’lorne reached down and grabbed the stapler sitting on the desk and weighed it in her hand.  Deborah looked up curiously, then back to Blake.  There was a click as a small box next to the door flipped open and he placed his face against it.  A beep followed and the door, instead of swinging open, slid into the wall.  Just as he went to step through, the stapler hit him square in the back of the head and his body slumped to the floor.

            "You didn't have to hit him," Deborah almost yelled as she rushed around the desk to check him.  Her hand pressed against his neck, looking for something.  She didn't know what it was, but in all the movies that's what they did to tell if someone was alive or not, so she followed suit.  There was a gurgling groan as she pressed against the throat, and it was enough to convince her that he was alive.

            "Well he certainly wasn't going to let us browse the database on our own."

            "This the ‘other means’ you were talking about?”

            L’lorne was now next to Deborah, slowly pulling the uniform off the soldier's body.  "Pretty much."

            Deborah just shook her head and looked into the adjoining room.  The walls were nearly as bare as the hallway, but there was one large desk that was actually a giant terminal unit.  She moved away from the fallen man and to the desk.  The main screen, embedded into the surface of the desk, flicked only a single box with two words and blank spaces behind each:  User and Password.  Immediately she shot out a curse, then grabbed her mouth in fear.

            "Something wrong?"  L’lorne had pulled the coat off and was laying it out against Blake's chest.

            "No," Deborah shook her head.  Mama isn't here, she had to tell herself.  She isn't going to suddenly pop out and smack her for saying a dirty word.  She was failing to convince herself, if that had worked, Deborah would have taken up constant cussing long ago.  "Well yes," she corrected herself.  "This thing has a password on it, and since you knocked out the operator, we're kind of stuck."    

            L’lorne pulled the body into the small terminal room.  "Minor problem."

            "Minor?  How are we supposed to find anything if we can't get into the database in the first place?"

            "Glasses," L’lorne said as she pulled on the coat.  "They can help you gain access.  Won't be a problem at all."

            "Oh," Deborah reached into her pocket and began to remove the glasses from where she had put them the night before.  "Wait, me gain access?  What about you?"

            L’lorne was already in the door way, she had pulled a cap that had been hanging up next to the door onto her head.  "Oh I'll be out here.  Don't worry, there's a two way radio in the glasses."  With that, the door slid closed, trapping Deborah inside.


            The geyser went off in a spray of superheated water and steam as they passed by it.  For a moment, their voices were drowned out by the eruption, and so they paused their conversation for the duration.  When the roar had calmed itself, they continued.

            "Very good," he smiled, causing L’lorne to smile in kind.

            She pulled her arms back behind her and stretched them out in the warm air of the eighth summer amongst the geysers.  "It wasn't hard."

            "Really?  Okay, how about this."  He rattled off an equation, complex and long, half of it in a language that was from half a world away.  When he finished, she could only gawk at him in silence.  "Too hard?"

            "No," she replied.  "Just give me a moment."  She closed her eyes even as she continued walking along the trail.  Finally, she opened her eyes, and shot back a similar equation, only simpler, and, in the terms of the complex physical laws they were discussing, much clearer.

            "Wonderful," he said, the pride in his face was completely genuine, L’lorne knew that now.  Before, he had faked it many times, but she could still see through it, but this time, she knew it was real.

            "There is one problem though."


            "Well, it seems to ignore a couple of functions."  She lists them off quickly, occasionally stopping and restating them in a more functional form.  "Is that on purpose?"

            "No, not on purpose.  It's just that the people who came up with it haven't gotten that far along yet."

            "So it's wrong?"

            "Not wrong," he replied.  "Just not the whole story.  I'm actually surprised you picked up on it so early.  It'll still take hundreds of years before anyone else here even knows those equations exist, and even longer before they see what you see."

            "But it's obvious."

            "To you, to me, to many others, but not to most people.  They simply see the world differently than we do.  Once you change your perspective a bit you become aware of what’s really going on and your past perspective seems wrong and juvenile."

            "I see."  The slipped deeper into the woods, where the large animals made their way amongst the trees.  "Can anyone be made aware of this?"

            "Oh yes, it just takes the right incentive, and a little work.  It only took me seven years with you, but with someone else it could take as long as a thousand years, or as little as a few days."

            The cabin they had been living in finally came into view, the simple exterior made of logs that had never grown in the woods in which they stood.  "So what's for dinner?"

            "Depends, do you think your change of perspective has effected your taste buds?"

            “If you’re cooking it, I doubt it.”  She chuckled as he made a sour face at the remark.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. Does Deborah's age fit her character for the most part?