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Poetry: Fight Song [#napowrimo2011]

Posted in blame society, creativity, daughter, napowrimo, ranting, torch-passing, writing on April 12th, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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Is this late? Am I behind? I can’t tell.

I really look forward to workshopping this one of these days, as some of the lines really hooked me.

Art is most sacred battleground in data war.

Equations to inflation,
dinosaurs to Dyno-Mutt,
Ineffable iotas of information
comprise every monolith and monologue,
Schroedinger to Eisenberg,
Dwayne McDuffie to William Shakespeare,
there are no differences
there is only one thing.

Yet ministers of defense deliver shrapnel sermons
preaching salvo salvation,
re-education through superior firepower
spreading our way of life,
sponsored by British Petroleum.

I hold hand me down hustle as my weapon,
Inherited insurgency,
sworn to hold that line
hold that note
holding back the tears
to load them like bullets
into recoilless vignettes.
Friends, Romans, crusaders,
peacekeepers, contractors, special forces,
There are no differences.
There is only one thing.

Battle lines drawn
Impermanent ink
Real work’s done in editing.
We can fix it in post.
We’re at war with Eastasia.
We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

I am a universal soldier.

Thirty eighth tour of duty,
I proudly serve
legacy of literature
from pimp pick up lines
to published poetry,
face first in the trenches,
take next hill so neither daughter will.
Let them fight from higher ground.

Maybe they’ll find out who’s winning.

“Universal Soldier”
By Hannibal Tabu

My brain wants to make the art piece more prevalent near the end to balance the first line, but I don’t know if it’s right. Like I said, workshop. First drafts are just that.

See you tomorrow.

Playing (Music): “Respect Yourself” by Bruce Willis

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Comics: The Commentary Track for the February 23rd Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, blame society, buy pile, comics reviews on February 24th, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

OUR BLACK, SHINING PRINCE: I’m very upset by a number of things. I’m very upset that Dwayne McDuffie is dead — his wisdom is gone from the world, his talent is gone, his stories are gone. That’s no good.

I’m upset that I didn’t really realize what a presence he had, nor how important he was to me, until after he was gone because I didn’t have any conception that he might be a finite property. I recently wrote a lot of things that I should have said when he was alive, and I’m a douche commander for not doing that.

This has been a big part of my social networking this week — I told this great story about Scotland that Dwayne told me some years ago and I’ve been non stop on tweets and Facebook about it. I believe I’ve explained my reasons well enough, but I’ll do one last story, and close it down.

Dwayne McDuffie loved the show Sports Night. As did I — we believed that our common love for it doomed its chances on network television. Any show we both loved that fervently had to die — the world wasn’t built to make us happy that way. We once talked about TV shows we’d loved, and hit about an 80 percent rate of common themes.

Now he’s been cancelled by a faulty ticker, and I’m staring at the screen again. Upsetting stuff.

WEIRD COINCIDENCES: I also note that today, Thursday February 24th, is the anniversary of Octavia Butler’s death. She dies on the 24th, McDuffie on the 21st … Black writers should just be freaking careful in late February, y’all. Take an extra step. Slow down in traffic. Just saying.

TONY STARK IS A JERK: During the Civil War, I thought Tony Stark — billionaire heir and entitlement complex poster boy — was about as perfect as a super villain as anybody could get. The difference between him and Victor Von Doom was so paper thin that it’d make Kate Moss look like Roseanne Barr.

The idea that his drunken disses would make a subtle enemy of Otto Octavius (who’s 1. nuttier than a weekend with Chip & Dale and 2. has a hair trigger that makes Namor look calm and reasoned) is easy enough to believe, but it almost begs the question of why more people aren’t gunning for him. Weapons dealers he put out of business. Super villains that Rhodey tangled with like the Advisor.

Also: how many alternate futures have shown Iron Man as an iron fisted futuristic totalitarian? Three? Four? Finally, what’s up with the fact that one generation created such a huge number of super geniuses (Stark, T’Challa, Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, Victor Von Doom … all of whom went to the same college by the way … and Stephen Strange is only a few years older) and the only comparable brains since then are Amadeus Cho (who, to be fair, hasn’t done much) and Ezekiel Stane? What was in the water back then?

I’m just saying that the numbers add up for Stark (and Banner, honestly … and honestly probably Pym … and if the Ultimate universe is to believed, maybe … well, that’d be a spoiler, but never mind) to “set aside all pretense and sham and anoint themselves masters.” They’re already comfortable being “Illuminati.” I’m just saying …

THAT’S THE NEWS, AND I AM OUTTA HERE: Screw this noise, I’m getting some sleep. See ya.

Watching (Hulu): The Colbert Report for February 15, 2011.

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In Memoriam: Dwayne McDuffie, 1963-2011

Posted in 104, awesomeness, comics, creativity, dc, effectiveness, entertainment, fandom, g.i. joe, history, inspiration, marvel, sadness, torch-passing, writing on February 22nd, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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The word “loss” encapsulates a lot of concepts, large and small. You lost that receipt with an idea on it — an irritation. You lost a job — financially crippling. You lost your mind at that club — not so shabby.

It is difficult to describe what it’s like to lose a person to the gaping chasm of death when you didn’t know them all that well. That’s some of my challenge with the passing of Dwayne McDuffie. I followed his work — mostly in comics, admittedly, but I did enjoy the Justice League episodes I saw. I hung out with him a time or two at conventions. He even took me to lunch once, when he was working at Warner Brothers Animation, showing me his office and giving me some tips on how to survive in the content creation game. But I didn’t know his wife, didn’t speak to him on his birthday, I wouldn’t have expected him to pick up the phone and call me about something random.


Dwayne McDuffie, 1963-2011

When the news of his death hit me, I was at work at MIMCO, in a planning meeting, multi-tasking with website updates and social networking check ins. Like the sudden and unexpected death of a young woman I’d worked with (she was 25, healthy and insanely vibrant), it shook me and made me stare at the low peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains outside my window and just think. I’m 38. I don’t eat a lot of unhealthy stuff, I walk a lot, I’m lean, I try not to give a crap about much so I won’t be stressed. I can’t foresee a day when I’ll be dead. Neither could that young woman. Hopefully, neither could Dwayne.

As of last week, he was promoting the critically acclaimed All Star Superman — an adaptation of Grant Morrison’s mind-boggling maxi-series that “many fans consider the quintessential Superman story.” Literally, he posted on Facebook on Sunday. It’s Tuesday. He’s gone.

I won’t go into his whole history, but his work at Marvel and DC (especially co-funding Milestone Comics with Derek Dingle, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Christopher J. Priest, the last of whom designed the logo) inspired me greatly. My favorite property was Blood Syndicate — a super powered street gang — but Hardware has echoed my corporate experience once or twice and Icon inspired me (but somehow, also, Clarence Thomas — go figure). Before all that, here’s the first time I ever recognized him as an entity …


Click to enlarge, image courtesy of Every Day Is Like Wednesday

I remember seeing that “pro file” in the editorial page of a G.I. Joe comic (I collected the series religiously) and being awed. Years later, I brought up the final quote (“… deep down, I’m every bit as terrifying as I look”) to him in the aisles of San Diego Comic-Con and he brushed it off. “I’m a pussycat,” he protested.

“Maybe now,” I laughed back.

Dwayne couldn’t believe that his creation Static never had a serious action figure. It drove him nuts. He blogged about it, he talked about it. I believe that his decision to bring Milestone into the DC Universe was, in part, because that if Static was a Teen Titan, he could get a proper action figure (not some Subway kids’ meal incentive). I sincerely believe that. Sure, there was what some industry watchers called “a truck load of money” too, but the action figure was the kicker (you should have seen his office at WB Animation, it was a Black geek paradise). Jai Nitz told me that “There will be an older version of Virgil (from the Batman Beyond eps) released later this year to end the JLU toyline.” That, likely, was greatly gratifying for Dwayne, as was finally satisfying his dream of working on the Fantastic Four.

In my experience, he was extraordinarily nice, even when he didn’t have to be. I interviewed him for failed retail site NextPlanetOver, right before the Static Shock series was going to air, and he was very willing to discuss topics that frustrated some. He was gracious, he was kind … but admittedly, he did not tolerate foolishness, as a story about a 1989 period when he was a Marvel editor showed …


Click to enlarge, image courtesy of Comics Should Be Good

He had his challenges, as all of us do, but I for one will always celebrate his accomplishments. I was honored that he knew my name, that he respected my work, that he thought I was good enough that he could take time to talk to me and advise me, even in the scant chances we had for that to happen. I could post a string of rememberances (and on my Facebook profile I have, sadly, it’s a walled garden so I can’t just directly link … I think) but this one from Chris Sims is as good as any.

In Dwayne McDuffie’s passing, Black geeks in particular lost our hero, a larger-than-life combination of intelligence and savvy, accomplishing a great deal on merit alone in an industry built to ignore and marginalize a tall, gruff, Black man like him. The reflection in his glasses was more nuanced than the entire careers of many people who he saw come up in the funny book game. I miss him already, and I’m sorry I wasn’t a better friend.

In the words of our ancestors, anedge hirak Dwayne McDuffie, and thank you for everything, within the city of Dakota and elsewhere. I hope, for all that we’ve lost, we’ll one day find you again.

Playing (Music): “Without A Fight” by Janelle Monae

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