Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Pat Piches: The Sculptor, The Dead Poachers Society & The Prince And The Dressmaker

Would you be willing to die for your art?

Would you be willing to watch 4 British/Welsh men attempt to win a battle royale? 

How would you react if a Prince asked you to make dresses for them?

Welcome to back to the Tramway! I'm your host Patrick Webb, and this is Tug & Tram Blogging. Before I get into my topic today, I wish to apologize for the delay in posts. I recently attended Happily Ever NACA (aka the National Association of Council Activities) in Kentucky, and didn't have a lot of time to write (I will discuss my trip in another post) 

Right now, I want to pitch a book I just finished reading today, a YouTube/Switch Channel I've been meaning to discuss for a long time, and a book I recently read for class. So let's get into it!

First, a quick explanation. In Pat Pitches, I (Patrick) pitch something I've been watching, or reading, or listening to, etc. Today I will be pitching The Sculptor by Scott McCould, The Dead Poachers Society and The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. Let's get into it!

Also please note that there will be some minor spoilers for some series. 

The Sculptor

The Sculptor, cover illustrated by Scott McCloud.jpg
The Sculptor's Cover, By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47881594

If you want to make comics, the name Scott McCloud might be familiar to you. Scott McCloud is most well known for his comics on making comics (I know, the irony) Understanding Comics (which, fun fact, is currently being used in my Comics & Graphic Novel class), Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics. 

McCloud has worked on several works of fiction, including some Superman books, according to Google. (This' Pat Pitches, not the History of, do you expect me to do research?) In all seriousness, McCloud is a well experienced comic book artist and writer, and The Sculptor, his newest book released in 2015, shows McCloud's brilliance.

To quote Neil Gaiman, a friend of McCloud's who was quoted on the front of the book, "The best graphic novel I've read in years." 

It's hard to top that simple but such powerful statement, but I will try. 

So, what is The Sculptor about? Our protagonist, David Smith (not THE David Smith, a running joke in The Sculptor) gets an offer for an incredible gift to make his artwork. But, there's a catch: he gives up his future, and has only 200 days to live. He also can't tell anyone about his gift, or else he faces a certain consequence. 

During his attempt to get his artwork into the world, David finds his true love, which complicates things even further for him. Also along the way, David struggles with depression, creative burnout, homelessness and problems with his friends. 

The Sculptor has a simple color pallet of blue, white and gray. The color pallet adds to the story's theme of failure and the struggle for artists to get their work into the world. I relate to that, which makes me sympathetic for David. 

Would I make a deal to die sooner but be able to make my art in a way no one else can.....? Probably not, I'd rather take my risks and live longer to get my work out there. But then again, I'm not a sculptor, and I'm not in a Scott McCloud book. 

The Sculptor is a nearly 500 page book, but don't let that daunt you from reading The Sculptor. 

The Sculptor might easily be one of my favorite comics I've ever read. If you haven’t read this comic yet, you really need to. And keep following your dreams, but don’t give up your life for it.

The Dead Poachers Society 

All right, onto a very different form of entertainment. There’s a lot of gaming channels out there. So why should you watch The Dead Poachers?

They’re not the best at what they do. They don’t win every game they play. But I can’t stop watching them. They’re really fun and hilarious. Rhys usually begins each round with “What could possibly go wrong?”

I found out about the Dead Poachers via Angry Welshman Productions, Rhys, who is a part of both groups. It’s essentially him and a group of friends hanging out and play games while recording them. The members, Rob, Rhys, James, Medmo (I don’t know his real name, sorry Medmo), and sometimes  Andy from Steaming Westward Productions.

The Dead Poachers’ main game of play is PUBG, essentially if Zack Snyder did an edgy version of Fortnite, or rather more realistic Fortnite in terms or guns, setting and graphics. Sometimes the Dead Poachers play with only 2 or 3 members, but most have the full 4 members.

The Dead Poachers have a great dynamic. They mock each other, but always work to help each other out, such as helping each other with loot, and always mock Rhys’ driving, especially when he crashes. It’s a running joke from the Angry Welshman Productions, and sometimes hold true. Then again, all the Dead Poachers have their bad driving moments.

There’s also the quips and general shenanigans. Rhys not being allowed to drive, the Dead Poachers running for their lives when they’re outgunned, insults such as “Your Mum’s a Mountain goat,” and “see if you can find a boat.”

I should warn you, the Dead Poachers aren’t exactly politically correct. In the newest video, for example, they make jokes about Wales having border checks because of Brexit. While running on the edge of being offensive, the Dead Poachers, in their official Twitch feed rules, don’t tolerate hatred or harassment.

The Dead Poachers are only joking, but might not be for everyone. If you don’t like edgy content, the Dead Poachers probably aren’t for you. But if you enjoy guys trying the Chicken Dinner in PUBG, then this might be for you.

The Dead Poachers also play Grand Theft Auto, Sniper Elite 4, and other shooter games. I’m personally lobbying for them to do a April Fool’s video where they play Fortnite. I think that’d be hilarious.

You can find the Dead Poachers on Twitch and Youtube, and for social media they’re on Twitter and Facebook. They have a pretty chill community and are a lot of fun to interact with, especially in streams. I have a personal running joke of #TeamRob from a Grand Theft Auto stream where they raced each other. #TeamRob

Let’s move onto the next topic. What could possibly go wrong?

The Prince & The Dressmaker

Our last Pitch is for another comic. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, is a story about self discovery, and trying to achieve your dreams. Jen Wang, like Scott McCloud, is a master comics artist, based in LA, according to the About page of Prince and the Dressmaker.

Again, MINOR SPOILERS. Please skip the next paragraph id you don’t want any spoilers.

Frances is a dressmaker who has a strong talent. After making a controversial dress, she’s hired by a secret royal client, who turns out to be Prince Sebastian, who feels more comfortable in a dress than his regular clothes. With Frances’ help, Sebastian lives a double life as Lady Crystallia. Meanwhile, Sebastian’s parents are trying to find him a Queen. But little do they know they have a Drag Queen 😎 I’ll see myself out.....

The characters of The Prince and the Dressmaker are very like able. I really like the dynamic of Frances and Sebastian, they are genuine and don’t go through any drama related to Sebastian’s lifestyle. It’s refreshing to read. Even the “antagonist” character The King is like able.

The artwork is also spectacular. Jen Wang is one of the most talented comic artists out there. Mark my words, she’s going to one day be held in the same regard as Will Eisner, Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman and Jack Kirby.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is also an important story for right now. It’s not trying to be political, it’s just about people existing and wanting to be accepted. I won’t spoil the ending, but let me say it’s the comic equivalent of a wholesome post. The ending in particular is equal parts shocking and wholesome.

All right, that’s all for me today. Have you read or watched anything I pitched today? Let me know on Twitter, @ConductorPat, or my Facebook Page: Patrick Webbs Tug & Tram Blogging (no apostrophe in Webbs) or here on blogger. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the Tramway!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Why I Love Superhero Movies (& Don't Want To See Them Go Away)

Hello everybody!!!

That's right, the one, the only, Patrick Webb of Tug & Tram Blogging is still alive! I'm not dead, I haven't been kidnapped by aliens, and I'm not crazy! (yet)

Jokes aside, I hope you're all doing well. I wish I could've given you all a newer post sooner, but life has been crazy recently, mostly in regards to college. I just survived Midterm Week, and OH BOY, was that shit bananas!

Post-Mid Terms, I felt a little exhausted, so I didn't immediately jump in yet to writing. But, I've had a few days to rest, and I'm ready to jump into the blogging game again.

All right, as you can read from the title of this blog, I'm going to be discussing superhero movies. I got this idea mostly from the recent "controversy" (if you can call it that) of celebrities voicing their disdain for superhero movies, in particular Marvel.

First it was Martin Scorsese, who compared Marvel movies to theme parks, and said they're not cinema. Then, Jennifer Aniston voiced her disdain for Marvel movies, and believes they're pushing out other creators. Martin Scorsese and Jennifer Aniston both kept their criticism polite, unlike a certain IndieWire writer who really bashed Marvel. If you want to read the articles, I'll leave the links below this paragraph.

https://variety.com/2019/film/news/martin-scorsese-marvel-theme-parks-1203360075/  

www.ladbible.com/entertainment/film-and-tv-jennifer-aniston-thinks-there-should-be-fewer-marvel-movies-20191010

www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/marvel-martin-scorsese-theme-parks-avengers-endgame-robert-downey-jr-a9150396.html 

DISCLAIMER: There would be some minor spoilers for Marvel and DC movies, so read at your own risk. I'll even put the asterixes to warn you.

* * * * * * *

So, why do I love superhero movies? And why are they important to me?

The earliest superhero films I remember seeing are Batman (1989), Superman The Motion Picture, Batman and Robin, and Supergirl. These movies (while not all good) influenced my love of superheroes, combined with cartoons such as Batman: TAS, Spider-Man TAS, and Spectacular Spider-Man.

When Marvel started making movies, I was curious. By 2008 I was curious about Iron Man. I'd only read a few Iron Man comics, and didn't know a lot about him. When I finally saw the movie, combined with Captain America: The First Avenger, I became HOOKED on the characters. I started reading more about Marvel, and learned about the characters from the movies.

Superhero films had a big impact on me. They're the reason why I decided to start writing superhero stories and create new characters. Without Marvel and DC's movies, I wouldn't be who I am today.

But are Superhero movies all the same? Are they, as the Independent Writer Caspar Salmon wrote, "action figures going bang in the sky," produced like a factory? No, of course not!!

Now Caspar Salmon is allowed to have their opinion (I certainly disagree), but I think Salmon's criticisms are too harsh.

Superhero films SHOULD be considered part of the canon, or just simply cinema. And why shouldn't they? That's like saying science fiction movies shouldn't be considered cinema because Star Wars has a similar aesthetic and the good guy always wins!!

Granted, Marvel has produced a lot of movies in a short amount of time, but shouldn't that be congratulated? They've figured out how to produce films that resonate with people, employ very talented people, and keep their continuity while doing so. Marvel Studios certainly isn't perfect (the unfair firing of James Gunn comes to mind) but no studio is flawless.

Now let's discuss the characters. To call the superheroes action figures or figurines is just unfair. Continuing my Star Wars metaphor, are we going to call characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Lea, and Rey just "action figures?" Of course not.

Sure, they sell toys, but that doesn't mean the characters are flat. We see superheroes struggle: Captain America struggles to keep following a government that's no longer aligned with his views, Thor loses his whole world, Hawkeye his family, I could go on, but for the sake of flow, I won't.

Next, let's discuss genre. Superhero films have in a way become a genre. But I don't think that's a fair description, it's slightly limiting. Superhero films can be apart of any genre.

Thor: Ragnorok, Hellboy and Aquaman can combine fantasy (and in Ragnorok's case sci-fi as well) with superheroes.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and again Thor: Ragnorok, Captain Marvel, combine science fiction to create new worlds.

Captain America: The First Avenger, Wonder Woman, the to be released Wonder Woman 1984, and even the new Joker movie (which I'm going to see today) can be time pieces that give us not just a look at the characters but a different time and provide more material for storytelling.

Superheroes are growing past what they used to be. They're more than just overpowered heterosexual white men, they can literally be anyone. Miles Morales, a kid with parents of different ethnicities (African American and Hispanic) can be Spider-Man. Khamala Khan, the daughter of Pakistani Immigrants, can be Ms. Marvel.

They can be in any medium: they can be live action, or animated movies like Spider-Verse or the Lego Batman movie, or any of DC's great Direct to DVD movies. I love the variety of superheroes, the variety of their powers and backgrounds.

I certainly want to see more superhero movies and from different studios. I don't just want Marvel to succeed, I want all superhero films to be good and succeed (except maybe Sony, but that's because they're Sony). And I definitely don't want to only have superhero movies, that would get boring. While I understand Martin Scorsese and Jennifer Aniston's concerns, I don't think we're going to see the death of cinema because of superheroes.

That's my two cents on the "controversy," (though maybe Discussion is a better word) on superhero films. What do you think of superhero films? Whose your favorite superhero? Let me know here on Blogger (if you can figure out how to do that, Blogger doesn't seem to be great for commenting). I also have a Facebook page, Patrick Webbs Tug & Tram Blogging, which you can find here: www.facebook.com/Patrick-Webbs-Tug-Tram-Blogging-115978946451247/?ref=bookmarks

I'm also on Twitter, @ConductorPat, if you would prefer to follow me there.

Thanks for reading today's post. Remember to keep writing, and.... I'll see you on the Tramway!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Trying to Manage 2 Blogs & Starting to Watch Supernatural & Friends (in 2019)

Hello folks,

I hope you're doing well.

Things have been crazy on the tramway called life. Last weekend I might have stretched myself a little too far trying to manage my work, homework and other projects.

This past weekend I helped run a tailgate at a soccer game with my school's Campus Activity Council. We served hot dogs, chips, Hawaiian Punch, let people make posters (I made one for this blog, which was sort of a fail at advertising) and had supplies to "spray" their hair purple and white, our colors. It was a lot of fun, and our Men's Soccer team did well, winning 6-0.

Facebook Pages 

So a few announcements: I've recently made two Facebook pages for my Blogs. You can find the pages below, if you'd like to meet up with other people in the Tug & Tram or The Occasional Express Community.

Tug & Tram Blogging

www.facebook.com/Patrick-Webbs-Tug-Tram-Blogging-115978946451247/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel&eid=ARCdaac6wleA2hvI_ZN9VL4CvnfhwUHxHmmbBcaJ7tR2EO9zWa0-X45sOK--fH3yIEUs7oDO4HDyUzs8 

The Occasional Express

@TheOccasionalExpress (if this' easier to search with)

www.facebook.com/TheOccasionalExpress/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel&eid=ARCbg0a4Kie37rOfjSSqJ-DkTvO-Z3N3ubrgd0pOuxPfnpdnRJTGu9XOBJSoCspRskVVfxY13u-D1Cz7 

I realized that a lot of writers on Twitter in the #WritingCommunity have Facebook Pages; I decided it was about time I got one of my own. Please note that The Occasional Express will be just about trains, while Tug & Tram Blogging's Facebook page will be about my writing in general, along with posts I make about Pop Culture, Pat Pitches, History of Characters, etc., so feel free to just follow the one you're interested in.

So far, I only have a small amount of likes on either page. This week I focused more on getting people to like The Occasional Express (who weren't friends) because I know most of my friends on Facebook aren't interested in trains.

I am glad that I have a new platform to interact with my readers, but I'm also worried it might be too much of a distraction from my writing. I guess that's something I'll have to work on figuring out as I go forward. If you're a writer with a FB page, and have some advice, I'd love to hear it.

Trying to Manage 2 Blogs

As I mentioned before, I think I'm starting to feel the time strain of trying to manage 2 blogs, along with their Facebook pages. Both blogs don't have schedules yet (unofficially most T&T posts come out on Friday, usually around 5 PM Eastern, and The Occasional Express is whenever I can get an article).

I have been enjoying working on both, don't get me wrong. Tug & Tram blogging has helped me reach out to you guys, gals, and nonbinary pals, which I'm very glad for. I also really enjoy the blog format, it's given me a way to share my thoughts and my love for pop culture, such as my history posts of forgotten characters or Pat Pitches.

However, with that in mind, I haven't written as much recently, since I have to manage my blogs, fun writing (ex: films, novels, etc.) and most important of all my school work. I think what I need to do is sit down and plan out a schedule for when I post on each blog, and set aside some time for my other writing.

Writing Updates

Before I go onto my next topic, I feel I should mention where I'm at with my writing. I haven't worked on The Bethany Galactic Railway Chronicles in a while, because I got swamped with work last week, and was dealing with some personal stuff. The heat didn't help any.

As for my other projects (Lady Luck, Royal Scot) I haven't done a lot with them in a while. Lady Luck is ready for some peer review/editing from a second person, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. My go to editor (Cristina) is pretty busy right now helping another friend (CC) with their Senior Projects. I don't need to really start the project until next year (since I'm currently a Junior) but I feel I should get some editing done sooner rather than later, given how big Lady Luck Vol. 1 is.

As for Royal Scot, I think I'm going to sit on that one for a while, and go back to it after I take some film classes. I'm sure I made a LOT of mistakes in the formatting of a script, so I should fix that first before showing it to anyone for serious editing. (Maybe I'm also a little anxious about that, who's to say? 😅 )

All right, onto the next topic.

Starting Supernatural & Friends (in 2019) 

So as stated in the name of the blog, I've decided to start watching Supernatural and Friends.... in 2019.

Now you might be wondering: Why? 

A few reasons. Let's start with Supernatural. My friend Cristina (mentioned earlier) is a big fan of the show, and we were talking at supper a few days a go about how the show is finally coming to an end after the 15th Season. I know a little bit about the show (my older sister is also a big fan of the show). I'd seen her watching some episodes a few years ago, but it never interested me.

At the time I was biased towards horror, which I'm working to overcome. I asked Cristina if it was worth starting the show, and she said yes. I decided "Why not?" So far I'm three episodes into the series, and I'm really enjoying it. It's a nice mix of mystery, horror and action, which keeps me entertained.

It's also fun to see the older technology in the show's first season, such as the flip phones and giant computer screens. Sam and Dean have really been around for a while, haven't they? I think my favorite part of the show is Sam and Dean's interactions. They really feel like siblings, such as how they get on each other's nerves, but also have each other's backs.

The only criticism I have is that the show has a dark color pallet which was popular around 2005 when the show started. Ah yes, gotta love that 2000's look: everything is somewhat drained of color.
While I'm not a personal fan of that aesthetic (especially in superhero shows, but that's a post for another day) it does fit the tone of Supernatural, so I'm willing to give it a pass.

I doubt I'm going to catch up in time to see the final season (it's 14 seasons after all) and I'm not really into binge watching super long shows. I will definitely make my way through it. So no spoilers!!

Next, Friends. Unlike Supernatural, I have seen a fair share of Friends episodes on reruns on the CW during their comedy block back at home. While I added it to my list of shows to watch on Netflix, I never felt motivated to start watching it from the first episode.

However, that changed for a few reasons. 1) Friends is leaving Netflix for HBO Max, Warner Bros./HBO's new streaming service. (YAY!!! Another streaming service 😒) and 2) I was talking with a friend at lunch about the show, while it was playing in our cafeteria. I decided "Well, why not? I could use another comedy show to watch."

I was watching Cheers a while ago, but I binged through the first season, and need a bit of a break. So I started Friends, and have watched two episodes. I understand why everyone loves the show a little better now. It's really funny, and the chemistry between the cast shines through.

I was concerned the show hadn't aged well, since it was made in the 90's. However, it certainly holds up pretty well. The show also handles Ross' ex-wife being a lesbian pretty well. They use the situation to make some jokes without mocking the characters being lesbians. However, since I'm a heterosexual male, maybe there's something I'm missing. Hopefully any members of the LGBTQ+ community who watch Friends are able to enjoy it still.

All right, that's about it from me today. I should get back to more "productive" work, like practicing Spanish on Duolingo. Or watching Friends and Supernatural on Netflix. 😜 I will try to keep posting weekly, however midterms are around the corner, along with the grand jewel event on campus: Kickoff, which I'm working at, so I might not have a lot of time to write.

If you'd like to connect with me, I'm on Twitter @ConductorPat, and as mentioned before have a Facebook page titled "Patrick Webbs Tug & Tram Blogging." Thanks for reading everyone. Keep writing, and I'll see you on the Tramway!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New Blog Announcement & Pat Pitches Future Fiction & The Dark Stars Trilogy

Hello Star Tugs,

I hope you are all doing well.

Today I would like to announce my new blog: The Occasional Express. Since my train article posts were super popular, I decided to try out another blog. My reasoning behind this is:

A) Trains aren't a big interest of all my readers, so to best serve my audience, I've split up my posts so that people don't have to wait too long for posts they are interested in.

B) I'm in an Entrepreneur class this semester, which inspired me to take a risk. Who knows how successful it will be? I won't unless I try.

Now I should note the reason why it's called the Occasional Express. Tuggin' & Trammin' Blogging will still be my main blog and will have more updates than Occasional Express. Another point I should make is that if I'm talking abut a writing project which includes trains, it will stay here.

That's all for the Occasional Express, if you're interested you can find the blog here: https://theoccasionalexpress.blogspot.com

I also have a Social Media page set up on Facebook for The Occasional Express, which you can find here: www.facebook.com/groups/445304499527314/?ref=group_header

Pat Pitches

All right, let's get to the main topic of the post. Today, I want to delve into a topic I've been meaning to discuss for a while, but haven't had the time to. This will probably be a lot shorter than my History of Yankee Girl post, as this' me sharing my opinion on what I've been reading, what I'm gonna read. (Shout out to my Weekly Wackadoos/Weekly Planet Podcast fans who get that reference).

Unrelated note, this' my first blog post written on my "new" computer. (I switched from one Windows 10 to another one that was less used, so put that on your trivia quiz!)

Today on Pat Pitches, where I pitch a thing I've read, seen, etc., I will be discussing two science fiction books. These are Future Fiction and the Dark Stars Trilogy.

DISCLAIMER: There will be some minor spoilers for both, read at your own risk. Or go read the books, then come back here.


All right, let's get to it!

Future Fiction 

Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction is an anthology collaboration between Bill Campbell's Rosarium Publishing, famous for their anthology Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism & Beyond, and Italian publisher Francesco Verso.

The stories in Future Fiction are mostly written by International Writers, and provides readers a look into fiction from other countries. They deal with Global superpowers (America is mentioned a lot in the stories, and not always in a good light, which gives American readers such as myself a look at how our country is perceived in other countries).

Future Fiction includes stories which deal with artificial intelligence, weather control, media consumption, people with mutant powers to pull life from people and to give it, and.... VR Panda Sex. (That last one is more complicated, basically: scientists use a VR controlled panda robot to teach Pandas in captivity how to have sex).

I need to mention that it's been a while since I read Future Fiction, which was the original sole subject of this post. But that Panda VR Sex...... it's stuck with me folks, I can't get it out of my mind!!

Jokes aside, I really enjoyed all of the stories in Future Fiction. Each felt different from the last, and they all kept my attention. Not only that, each short story in Future Fiction develops its world quickly and very entertainingly. They all feel like they could be the first chapter or expanded into a full on novel, which I would love to see.

Future Fiction also gives international writers a boost. Bill Campbell helped to translate several of the stories into English, to expand their readership. If you want to read stories by more international writers, than give Future Fiction a read. I'll leave the link for it on Amazon here:

www.amazon.com/Future-Fiction-Dimensions-International-Science/dp/0998705918

All right, let's go to the next book!

The Dark Stars (Book 1): Crystalline Space

The Dark Stars trilogy is written by A. K. Duboff, and follows a group of civilians living in a galactic government, where worlds can be reset using an ancient crystal system. However, when a darkness begins to corrupt the crystals, the civilians are saved from limbo and reprinted with more advanced bodies that allow them to use magic and the magical artifacts needed to save the galaxy.

The Dark Stars trilogy is written in the 1st person perspective of Elle, a young woman who wanted to become a Space Ranger, but accidentally got an injury that stopped her. Elle is a very relatable character who is a lot of fun to follow. She's bold and willing to do whatever it takes to save her home world and family from being trapped in an eternal limbo.

The Dark Stars trilogy has 4 main characters, known as the Dark Sentinels: Elle, Kaiden, a cool boy magician who reminds me of Alucard from Castlevania, Toran, the giant brawler with a gentle soul, and.... Maris, another magician.

Maris is added later into the book, and is personally my least favorite character. She complains a lot and comes off as annoying, and only reluctantly helps the others. However, she does grow a bit, and towards the end is less annoying.

I really like the world building that Ms. Duboff does in book 1. There's a good mix of fantasy, video game and sci fi elements. The Dark Sentinels all feel like character types you would see in a Dungeons & Dragons game, you have the magicians (Kaiden and Maris), the brawler (Toran) and skilled fighter (Elle).

The series feels like it has influence from The Matrix, because the characters quickly develop fighting skills once they're given their new bodies.

I also find the idea of (again, minor spoiler) the Dark Sentinels' new bodies being printed. I'm not sure why, the visual idea of that, perhaps inspired by The 5th Element, sounds really cool to me, that's the stuff I want to see in Science Fiction.

I'm currently reading Book 2, A Light in the Dark, after a small break in between Book 1. I definitely recommend you give the entire trilogy a read. I'll leave the Amazon link below.

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HHCHQYZ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i7

You can also find A. K. Duboff on twitter here: https://twitter.com/AmyDuBoff so go give her a follow on there.

Okay, so since writing this blog post out initially, I've been reading more of A Light in the Dark.....and I'm almost finished. Wow!!

A. K. Duboff's writing is so smooth and inviting that it's hard to stop reading, which is definitely a testament to Ms. Duboff's skill. I wouldn't be surprised if I finish the book before this' published. (I did).

Book 2 also takes a lot more risks and halfway through completely changes the game and the plot. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm not even going to hint at what the book does. You need to read this for yourself.


All right, that's all for me today. Have you read either of these books? What're your thoughts? Let me know here on Blogger or on Twitter, my username is @ConductorPat. Thank you for checking out my blog and my blog series Pat Pitches. I hope you enjoyed both.

Thanks for reading. Remember to Keep Writing and I'll see you on the Tramway!


Friday, September 6, 2019

Yankee Doodle Dandy! The History of Yankee Girl: The (Forgotten & Somewhat) Forgotten Golden Age Superhero

Hello Star Tugs,

Welcome back to the Tuggin' & Trammin' Blogging blog. If this' your first blog post you've read from me, welcome! Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog.

Today, I will be doing another "The History of" blog post, where I discuss, as the name implies, the History of my topic. Today's topic is Yankee Girl: The (Forgotten & Somewhat) Forgotten Golden Age Superhero.

If you've read my blog for a long time you'll know that I'm a bit of a lover of Golden Age and public domain characters. (You can check out my blog posts The History of Lady Luck and the Do's and Don'ts of Public Domain Characters for reference).

A lot of the characters I have learned about from the Golden Age (including Lady Luck and today's subject) are due to the Public Domain Superhero Wikipedia. Without this great source, these characters would be forgotten. I'll leave a link if you'd also like to explore the public domain superheroes, and maybe even get your own inspiration to use a character. Go wild! https://pdsh.fandom.com/wiki/Public_Domain_Super_Heroes

(But make sure to check out my Do's and Don'ts reference page as well, to help you along and avoid a lawsuit)

So today's character (or should I say characters?) we will be digging into the history of is Yankee Girl. Now I say characters because there's actually TWO Yankee Girls.

Yankee girl kkYankee Girl Chesler 002

The Public Domain Superhero Wikipedia lists them as Yankee Girl #1 and #2 (left to right respectfully). Confused yet? Don't worry, sit back, put on a podcast, or Yankee Doodle Dandy if you want to make me laugh (if you take a video of you playing Yankee Doodle Dandy and show this blog post I will give you a shout out on Twitter).

Now to keep this chronological, I'll start with Yankee Girl #1, who came first.

Yankee Girl #1 (Kitty Kelly)

Yankee Girl #1, or Kitty Kelly, first appeared in Punch Comics #1, published in December 1941. Unfortunately, Yankee Girl's creator is unknown. The creator, according to comicbookplus.com, might possibly be Ann Brewster, but this' unconfirmed. Kitty Kelly/Yankee Girl doesn't first in the magazine-like comic. Her story can be found on Page 28. You can read the entire comic on comicbookplus.com, which  I will link here to Kitty's first story. https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69658 

Kitty Kelly's main job is an air hostess, who sometimes work on trips for the US Army during WWII. Her story in Punch Comics #1 is not clear. In her first story, Kitty deals with Japanese saboteurs, and as you can see on page 29 (or 31 for you at home reading on comicbookplus.com) Kitty does not fall into the stereotype of the damsel in the distress. Though she does call for Ned's help on Page 28. And he wants her to wear and apron and be his wife. So there is that.
Comic Book Cover For Punch Comics #1
The artwork of Punch Comics #1 isn't exactly ground breaking, and some elements, mostly the portrayal of the Japanese, is very stereotypical. One thing that is worth praise in this story is that Kitty is very active in the story.

Comic Book Cover For Punch Comics #1
Kitty Kelly doesn't seem like a superhero in this first issue, she's more of a secret agent or traditional hero. One thing's for sure, as you can see in panel 4 on the above page, if she wanted to do the can can, well oh boy she can! 😎

All right, I promise that's the last pun I'll make.

Kitty Kelly doesn't appear to have been as popular as Punch Comics' publishers, Chesler Feature Syndicate (according to Punch Comics #2 Page 42), were hoping for. Kitty Kelly's story is pushed farther back in the book in Punch Comics #2 to page 42. Once again Kitty Kelly shows herself to be a badass.

Comic Book Cover For Punch Comics #2
Kitty Kelly did not come to play.

Kitty Kelly is somewhat inspirational. She gives the young Lieutenant the courage to step up to their enemies (unfortunately here portrayed as a Muslim stereotype). The story has definitely not aged well. While I have no idea what the numbers were for Punch Comics' sales, I do know that Kitty Kelly was removed from the comic after #2.

Kitty Kelly was relocated to Captain Flight Comics, and where she first appeared in Issue #6. However, if you're looking for a new story, then you're going to be disappointed. The story is a reprint from Punch Comics #2, but has a different cover.

Comic Book Cover For Punch Comics #2Comic Book Cover For Captain Flight Comics #6
Punch Comics #2 (on the left) and Captain Flight Comics #6. See the resemblance?

Kitty Kelly didn't appear in Captain Flight Comics #7. Why? I'm not entirely sure. I do have a suspicion that the writers decided to give Kitty a "reboot" if you will, but needed time to recreate the character. As you can see on the image of Captain Flight Comics #8, we now see how Kitty became called Yankee Girl.

Comic Book Cover For Captain Flight Comics #8Captain Flight Comics #8 Page 29

Comic Book Cover For Captain Flight Comics #8

Here Kitty, finally Yankee Girl, gets a costume, which is pretty uninspired. A few things I've noticed right off the bat:

1) Kitty's work is now a receptionist. Why the change? No idea. Maybe she was tired of getting shot down.

2) Kitty inexplicably has powers, such as hypnotism, and I assume strength, since the chair didn't seem to harm her.

I guess that Captain Flight Comics attempted to erase Kitty's first two stories, but kept the name to keep her original readers reading her story. So, how does this story perform versus the first 2?

Comic Book Cover For Captain Flight Comics #8

Well, as you can see, it's not a whole lot better. Instead of fighting stereotypes of Japanese or North Africans, now she fighting stereotypes of the mentally ill! Oh the 1940's were a... special time for comics weren't they?

Also, some idiot forgot to color in Yankee Girl's bottom part of her costume, which is kind of hilarious. These comics weren't exactly being made for the art, as you can see here. As the story progresses, Yankee Girl appears to possess the power of flight and invulnerability to bullets.

Moving on, in Captain Flight Comics #9, Kitty is pushed to the back of the book, and now the title is "Kitty Kelly: Yankee Girl." And she's back to being an air hostess.

Kitty was once again bumped to another book, and appeared in one issue of Red Seal Comics, #17. In this issue Kitty gains a different superhero costume, which was seen above. Which includes children dying...😐😐 YAY.

This issue also finally explains how Kitty Kelly's powers work, allowing her to become Yankee Girl. When she's under distress, Kitty's powers kick in.

Comic Book Cover For Red Seal Comics #17

We also finally get some proper superhero action from Kitty, and some changing fan service. I'm starting to notice a trend in these 1940's comics, which definitely hasn't stopped entirely.

Despite her versatility and ability to jump around to different books, Kitty's luck came to an end. Kitty's last original appearance was in Wonder Boy Comics #18, published in July 1955.

So how does Kitty's last story go.

Comic Book Cover For Wonder Boy #18 😳

WAIT A MINUTE!!!! 

That's right folks, they reprinted Punch Comics #2's story for a SECOND time. This' a really sad ending for Kitty's career.

And that is the sad ending of Kitty Kelly/Yankee Girl. The real question is, does she count as a Public Domain superhero? Technically.... yes, however she only appears as a superhero in a few stories, and even then the continuity of those stories is very confusing.

When I began researching this blog post I didn't expect a lot from Kitty Kelly, my main interest is in our next subject. However, I was pleasantly surprised with an interesting change of costumes and that hilarious reprint.

All right, now onto the main reason why I decided to write this blog post.

Yankee Girl (Lauren Mason)
Image result for yankee girl superhero

Yankee Girl, alias Lauren Mason was created by Ralph Mayo and published by Harry A Chesler.... wait a minute. Chesler, as in Chesler Feature Syndicates. Huh. I guess the Yankee Girls are more connected than I once thought.

Anyways, Yankee Girl (#2) first appeared in Dynamic Comics #23 in November 1947. Lauren's powers, unlike Kitty's, are much more clearly defined. In Dynamic Comics #23, Lauren gains her powers by saying the phrase "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Yankee Girl's powers seem to include flight and strength, but she can still be easily knocked out by a common thug.

Yankee Girl's next (and last) Public Domain appearance was in Danger #16. And for the first time, Yankee Girl is on the front cover!

Comic Book Cover For Danger #16

Yankee Girl's costume changes yet again, she looses the yellow leggings, replacing them for red boots, and her cape has less stars on it. The stripes on her costume have also decreased. This would be the last story where Yankee Girl would appear under the legacy of Harry A Chesler.

HOWEVER, this was not the end of the character's career!

AC Comics 

Yankee Girl Image (C) AC Comics. Used under fair use.  https://accomics.fandom.com/wiki/Yankee_Girl

AC Comics, a lesser known comic book company, decided to bring back Yankee Girl. Because the company which published Yankee Girl went out of business, Yankee Girl fell into the Public Domain. Which means that anyone, including AC Comics, were able to use her.

Yankee Girl had a solo run under AC Comics, and was also apart of AC Comics' team FemForce, created in 1985. According to AC Comics' website, Yankee Girl still has new stories as of 2012 with the publication of Yankee Girl: Stars & Stripes Forever #1.

AC Comics also gave Yankee Girl's costume a redesign, which you can see above. Personally, it's nice but very objectifying. It's not the most objective costume mind you, but doesn't sit with me that well in all honesty.

Yankee Girl has also appeared in a short animated film by Nightveil Media, who have some connections with AC Comics. Which states that it's not for kids... and has her fighting a mostly naked Communist looking woman.... 😕

The animation doesn't appear to be of a big budget, and in all honestly... doesn't look good. I can't pass judgement, since I haven't seen it, and have left a link if you're curious and want to buy it, but don't personally recommend it. And now for some Fun Facts!!

Fun Fact:

Despite being called Yankee Girl by the Public Domain Superhero Wikipedia, Kitty Kelly's first title card doesn't read Yankee Girl! On Page 28 it actually reads Kitty Kelly.

Kitty Kelly doesn't appear in a true superhero costume until her 6th appearance in comics.

Kitty Kelly/Yankee Girl's last appearance also has Phantom Lady, a character most people may recognize from DC, where she has new comics made.

Within Danger #16 Yankee Girl's boots change from red on the cover to blue in the book. (I know that's not so great, bare with me, I'm struggling to find Fun Facts)

AC Comics publish a series with Golden Age, Public Domain superheroes like Yankee Girl, called Golden Age Greats. If you're curious and want to buy the series, you can check my sources below.

Conclusion

Yankee Girl is probably the best example of how a public domain character can be given a second lease on life thanks to the public domain. From her humble origins as a Air Hostess, to a Superhero in an all female team, Yankee Girl's history is very ranged. Not all of her stories (past or present) are good, but there is a certain charm to this character.

If you asked me which version I prefer, I would say Lauren Mason. She has a much more interesting costume, and does a lot more superhero-ing.

And now for a new section I like to call

How I'd Use the Character

Personally, I would try and use both Yankee Girls, and maybe have them have a friendly rivalry. I'd probably keep Lauren Mason as Yankee Girl, and change Kitty Kelly to something else. I likely wouldn't change the costumes a whole lot, but would make some changes to make them more unique. I'd keep Lauren's yellow leggings but make the boots a different character.

Will I ever use Yankee Girl? Whose to say. But I will say, Luck be a Lady...

And that is all I will say. Thank you for reading this very long blog post. I hope you enjoyed it. If you'd like to read more blog posts in the future, follow me here on on Twitter, @ConductorPat, where you can also interact with me. If you'd like to, let me know how YOU would use Yankee Girl. And which version do you prefer?

Thanks for reading everyone. Remember to keep writing, and I'll see you on the Tramway!

Sources:

Captain Flight Comics #6 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=23757

Captain Flight Comics #8 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=40267

Captain Flight Comics #9 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=28443

Chesler/Dynamic Comics. https://comicbookplus.com/?cid=823

Danger #16 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=15231

Dynamic Comics #23 https://digitalcomicmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=12669

FemForce https://comicvine.gamespot.com/femforce/4060-27873/

Golden Age Greats. https://accomics.com/product-category/golden-age/gollden-age-greats-spotlight/

Punch Comics #1 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69658 

Punch Comics #2 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=27297

Red Seal Comics #17 https://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=40862

Yankee Girl (Kitty Kelly) https://pdsh.fandom.com/wiki/Yankee_Girl_(1)

Yankee Girl (Lauren Mason) https://pdsh.fandom.com/wiki/Yankee_Girl_(2)

Yankee Girl: Stars & Stripes #1 https://accomics.com/product/yankee-girl-stars-and-stripes-forever-1/

Yankee Girl Vs. The Colossal Crossack

www.nightveilmedia.com/downloads/yankee-girl-vs-the-colossal-cossack-download


Monday, September 2, 2019

Exploring Script Writing (& The History of my Oldest Project)

Hello Star Tugs!

Happy Labor Day to my US readers, and to everyone else, Happy Monday. I hope you're all doing well. I'm currently taking a break between homework and class to get write a new blog post.

I know I haven't been able to write a lot recently because of class starting back up again, but I did want to give you all an update on what I'm doing with my writing.

Recently I started to explore writing scripts, which took me from my normal form of novels. This was most likely inspired by many of my friends who are Film Majors. Another inspiration was my idea for a sequel to one of my favorite 80's movies The Wraith. (I'll leave you to google it if you're interested, or maybe I'll do a Pat Pitches or history blog, but that's a subject for another day).

I decided to start with an original project versus attempting to write a sequel for a little known 80's movie. I wanted to make my film script different from my other projects and not based on anything I'd written before, to keep it standalone. However, a certain element from almost all my projects sneaked in. You know what I'm talking about. (Unless you're a new reader, if so, hello! All will be explained soon).

While planning my film, an idea struck me: "What if I did a chase film, set on a train?" I also wanted to use the project to give attention to a steam locomotive I'm quite fond of, which isn't well known outside of the UK and the Train Enthusiast community. And thus the film script Royal Scot was born.

Royal Scot is a chase film where the Royal Family and Royal Protective Service (RPS) must escape to France from a giant conquering army using Royal Scot, a preserved steam locomotive, because all electronics in the UK are wiped out.

I began writing after doing a few googles of how to write a film script, and began to write my script. Unfortunately I lost motivation to work on the project and left it idle while pursuing new projects.

So backtrack a few weeks, and I decided I needed to finish projects I had started. So I returned to Royal Scot and decided to power through until I finished the film script. Which I did!

Don't get too excited Chase fans. My first draft is definitely a rough one, and I have no idea when I could pitch this to studios to be made into a movie. I will have to consult my Film Major friends on how to do this. (Ps. If you're an Executive send me a message on Twitter @ConductorPat and I'll send you my email.)

My other project is much older, though not in it's current form. Which takes me back to when I began to write. Back in around 2008 I stumbled across this video, which literally changed my life www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqwXBNSAPH4. The name of the character at the end of this video, Johnny, stuck with me. Probably because I watched Short Circuit and liked the main character, the loveable robot Johnny Five.

I thought to myself "I can create a character to!" And thus Johnny the V3, later the Bethany Railway Chronicles, was born. Essentially, imagine Thomas but a bit more adult, at least in its later form. Originally I planned the Bethany Railway Chronicles to be a novel series. However, I ran into the problem that I struggle to describe what the locomotive characters look like.

I also had trouble with the world building of the location. Originally I started with an island, then changed it to an island chain so that no one could say I was ripping off Thomas. Despite this, I was still struggling to develop this fictional island chain.

My friend CC, who I've tagged on here before, suggested that I set the series in space. While they mostly meant it as a joke, the idea stuck with me. So the series became the Bethany Galactic Railway Chronicles.

Treading back to Royal Scot, after I finished the first draft of Royal Scot, I got to thinking about making the Bethany Galactic Railway Chronicles into a TV show. I always imagined the series as a TV show, mostly because of Thomas & Friends, but I also thought of funny comedic breaks in between the stories.

Taking my Snowflake Outline that I created for my newest book draft, I tweaked it and wrote the pilot episode, and finished the first draft in 2 days. I personally find script writing a lot easier than novel writing because my main strength is dialogue, and not so much description. So who knows? Maybe my novel projects will turn into film or tv scripts.

I do have a lot to learn, and if anyone has any advice on how to write scripts better, please let me know, I'd love to learn more. Well, that's all for me today, I should get back to some homework. Thank you all for reading, and I hope I'll be able to write again soon. If you'd like to keep in touch, you can follow me on Twitter @ConductorPat.

Thanks for reading. Remember to Keep Writing, and...... Keeeeeeep Tuggin!


Friday, August 23, 2019

Where Have I been? (& Project Updates)

Hello Star Tugs,

it's certainly been a while, hasn't it? I apologize for the long delay since my last post. Life got a little hectic awhile back, I had to move from my summer housing to my school housing this past week, and I finished my summer job.

So life has certainly kept me busy, and I will be honest, I lost some motivation to work on the blog, and my writing in general. Writer's Block is certainly a bit of a nightmare. I'm sure that you all understand.

So that's about where I've been. Now, let's move into what's going on in the future. Classes are going to be starting up next week, which will take up most of my time in the near future. So the blog posts might start to decrease again. I'm sorry about that, however, this blog is just for fun and I have to prioritize my education over my fun writing.

Speaking of writing, let's move into some project updates.

Lady Luck

I recently finished editing the first draft of "The Iluckstrious Adventures of Lady Luck: The Monorail Conspiracy." This was mostly looking for typos. The next step will be to go into more intensive editing with other people. I have had a friend start reading over the piece (shout out to @CCtheMartian on Twitter) but they're busy with other projects and won't be going into intensive research.

Something else I need to do is more research on the era I have fictionalized in Lady Luck. Because I touch on historically sensitive topics, such as Japanese Internment, I want to make sure that I cover these topics in a respectful and accurate way.

I have been sitting on the project for a little while now, I think part of it may be fear, along with being super busy. In the past I haven't always been the best at receiving feedback on my works. I struggle to detach myself from my writing so that I don't get offended.

I think all creative people struggle with this to some extent. It's not easy receiving feedback on something you've poured a lot of time (and your soul) into. However, to help our art grow, we need feedback.

Next, onto Locomotive News

Locomotive News: Is This Still Happening?  

Another problem I faced which made me less motivated to work on my blog here was my idea for a spin off blog for train related articles. As you might have seen if you're following me on Twitter (@ConductorPat if you're not already) my article on the Indiana Transportation Museum ("The Future of the ITM") has become my most read blog post.

While I did enjoy writing "The Future of the ITM" and my second train article, "Keeping up with the New Builds," I may have overstretched myself by imagining a blog which would act essentially as a news source. I accidentally began to overthink my idea, which overwhelmed me.

For now, I'm going to put Locomotion News on hold. If I decide this' something I want to do, maybe I'll come back to it. If there is an interest in more train related posts/articles, please let me know.

The Blog

I would like to do a few more history of public domain characters in the near future on the blog, though I'm not sure when they will come out.

So that's where I'm currently at. I hope this blog post will hold you off until my next one. Thank you all for your patience, and for reading this post.

If you'd like to interact with me, you can find me on Twitter, @ConductorPat. Thanks for reading. Remember to keep writing, and I'll see you on the Tramway!