The Failure of Media Preservation and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT Media Preservation Featured Image

Media preservation is broken, and we need to discuss what that means.

Some of you may have heard about the recent shutdown of ROM sites LoveROM and LoveRetro—places to get “pirated” video games—but what you may not know is that these sites are often the last bastion of availability for the games they host. Richard Garriott, creator of the Ultima series, has special hardware to make sure that his first game (Akalabeth) is running at all times, simply because there is no guarantee anyone would ever bother preserving it. I’m sure there are mirrors that will pop up, but the truth is I don’t know if everything was kept. I don’t know whether there’s a special significance to anything that might have been lost. None of us do, not yet. The importance of art isn’t discovered in its own time. Poring over that material with the backing of time and a broader understanding of context that we don’t have in the present is the job of researchers and historians, and they can only work with what they have. Why do you suppose archaeologists are so happy when they find a clay pot?

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Year One – About Exclusive Stories

Wherein I ponder the difficulties of exclusive material in trade paperbacks by examining Power Rangers Year One, and come to an explosive conclusion.

I really didn’t think I’d ever have to type an article that said “Stop punishing new fans.” Again. Yet here I stand with a copy of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Year One and a brand new problem: a story only included in this deluxe, out of print, hardcover edition.

Year One Cover
Getting this was a journey, let me tell you…

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Showing off the Shelves 900 – I’m Going to Die Buried in Books

900 trade paperbacks. Inventorying them has been a slow nightmare – if you like, you can take a look at the document. Just know that I’ve only just started on the Ms. But 900 is an interesting milestone for me. I’m proud of it, but it feels like a stepping stone towards 1,000. A lot of my life has felt like that recently – the beginning of the right direction.



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Marvel’s A-section is intense.
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I notice my Batman collection is looking a little weak… I think I’ll see what I can do about the Knightfall saga. That mostly came out in trade recently.
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Jerry Ordway does one hell of a Perez impression if you give him a chance. Check out that Brave and the Bold arc, it’s fantastic.
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The Absolute Edition of The Dark Knight Returns means I own The Dark Knight Strikes Again, but don’t hold that against me.
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On top of Dick Tracy is quite literally the only comic I get in single issues anymore.
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From the time the final Don Rosa box set shipped to the time it arrived at my house, I was so anxious with anticipation that people thought something was wrong.
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I’ll be talking about Garfield in another article. It’s worth the read.
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Marvel has not released one of the volumes from the Dennis O’Neil runs of Iron Man, and has not released one of the volumes from the second Michelinie/Layton run. I needed people other than me to know that.
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JSA’s third omnibus will be met by the rest of its triplets soon enough. I just hope the shelf doesn’t give out.
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The difference in Zelda adaptations is really quite stunning. Both are remarkable, but it’s night and day.
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Mary Perkins is spectacular. I can’t wait to read the rest.
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The Order of the Stick is the most bafflingly ordered thing I’ve seen in quite some time. 0, 1, 2, -1, 3, 4, D, 5, 1/2. Swear to God.
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Gifts from loved ones, and Pokemon manga.
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Of course the morpher is by the Power Rangers section.
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Two Absolute Editions right next to each other, even if one of them is an Absolute Edition by another company, makes me quite happy.
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I pre-ordered Spider-Girl before it had even been announced. I really want the rest of this series to be published. Maybe I should write about that soon.
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Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson worked brilliantly together.
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Suicide Squad, Golden Age Superman, and Superman Exile are the omnibuses on their sides. But amongst the rarities, it’s Super Mario Adventures that I treasure most on that whole shelf.
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Ninja Turtles books – oversized and on their sides by necessity, but remarkable nonetheless.
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I’m one of about… one people, I think, who likes George Wunder’s art more than Milton Caniff’s. Which is comparing cuts of diamond, really.
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I already wrote the Ultimate Spider-Man article, but getting the correct formatted ones will take time.
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This shelf has a lot of work that I consider to be beautiful. Full of hope and optimism and light. And I include Watchmen specifically in that.
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I remember every story for how I got every book on this shelf. I remember it for every shelf. I’m proud of that.
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That gap of unused space will fade away so very quickly. Maybe even in the next few days. … that just means there’s more space to grow in to, isn’t there?

I’ve recently gotten jobs writing fiction, something I arguably should be doing instead of writing this. I will be doing it after I finish this draft. But my dad said that if he didn’t budget himself the pleasure of a game of golf (at a local $30 per 18 hole place, mind you, this wasn’t a country club kind of deal), there was no point in getting through the week. The same, I think, is true of time. Working on things that I don’t get paid for but satisfy me creatively is what allows me to be a complete person, even if I’m still growing.

The jobs are ghostwritten, but honestly, it’s better for a starting writer than desperately begging a publisher to read my work. It does mean I have until the end of the year to write more words than Return of the King, but hey – at least I don’t have to edit them. … I wonder if they’d give me that job. I think I’ll ask once I’ve gotten through with the rest. The next deadline for 20,000 words is Monday at 12:00PM… and I suspect I’ll be turning it in like every college paper I ever wrote, at 11:59. But I’ll get better. I wrote my first completed piece of fiction in my adult life, didn’t get stiffed on the payment, and I’ve got so much farther to go and paths already laid out for me.

… weirdly, it feels good to write that. I think. That’s been a lot of how I’ve been feeling. Like I’m making progress, and I should be proud of that progress. That’s not how my head worked for a long time.

I built my own computer, something I’ve never done before. A Raspberry Pi, no less, because when you think “Build your first computer” your brain will obviously go straight to trying to get multiple OSes running on a Linux box. I’m still part way through that, in part because I’m navigating an undocumented LAN because why, I think my dad figured, would he have to document something when he knew it all in his head?

Damnit, dad.

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Behold the Viewing Globe.

The Pi, which I have named The Viewing Globe, will serve as a Netflix box on the first widescreen TV I’ve ever owned for myself, as well as an emulation machine. Add that to the Switch and I’ll have most every game I could ever ask for… except for Kingdom Hearts 3. For that, I will be bogarting my brother’s PS4. And that’s got to be easier than trying to run the Command Prompt using Linux tutorials. I’m seriously going to print out cheat sheets once I get the thing completely finished.

Anyway. My dad had always built computers for me, either from scratch or by helping to make sure that my rig was properly set up software-wise. This is a new and pretty painful experience, not just because I’ve used the Command Prompt more than I have since I was three years old and waking my parents up at 4AM because I forgot how to get to Reader Rabbit Teaches Typing. I’m second-guessing myself every step of the way.

I’ve said throughout this experience, to myself and others, that I don’t know what I’m doing. But that’s not true. I do know what I’m doing. I’m just not as good as he was, mostly because he was working with computers for about 15 years longer than I have been alive. That wasn’t the path I chose. I can listen to someone talk about DBA work and keep up with a funny story about IT, the kind where you need some knowledge of SQL and networking to get the joke, but I’m not fluent in speaking the language. My dad told stories all the time, and I asked to hear them as often as possible, hoping I could understand them well enough to repeat them with all the technical terms. For the most part, I can’t. He was the one who could really tell the story, and my efforts are pale imitations. Earnest, but pale nonetheless.

That’s what’s going through my head as I try to get three operating systems working on one machine to handle regular desktop Linux work, video, and emulation. Turn by turn of the ridiculously tiny screw with my thumb, because I couldn’t find my dad’s old screwdriver set, I hear fragments of what he used to say and hurt because I can’t remember more.

Damnit, dad.

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I found it too late.

I used stickers I never thought I’d end up using, because I’m the horrible kind of person who saves his Elixirs in Final Fantasy until the end of the game because what if I need them?

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These stickers are six years old. I can’t hide behind saying I was waiting for the right time to use them. I just finally felt comfortable doing it.

I’m traveling more. More does mean once every few months, but it is more. The world feels more open now. Less like something meant to suffocate me. Anxiety’s a bitch like that, bearing down on me for so long. But it means new places, new opportunities. New experiences that help me see what kind of person I really am, and that I don’t hate it as much as I thought.

Each of these things represents a step forward towards the life I want, where the craft that I’ve said so often is the only thing I’m good at (and yes, friends of mine reading this article will disagree, but I promise you I’m not joking) is the thing I do most with my life. Writing is what I love. Writing is all I’ve got.

Those 900 trade paperbacks represent a step towards the kind of place, the kind of life, that I want to live. Because one day, if things go as they are, I’ll have twice as many, and it won’t be tucked so tight as they are right now. They’ll have as much room to breathe as I will.

As I was editing this article, I was struck with a moment of urgency that I still don’t quite understand. I took the majority of the trade paperbacks I own that aren’t going to be fully collected (the sole volume of Superboy, for example) and boxed them up, to be sold at a later date. At the time, I’d raised my number to 904. Now, it’s 832: 83 have been boxed up (and I’ve gotten more since I finished that project), and it was painful. Given the opportunity, I would buy completed versions of these series, and if they ever start re-releasing them I will. I really don’t know why I was struck by the need to do it. Maybe I’m finding a clarity and focus I didn’t have before. Maybe the space issue was bothering me. I honestly don’t know. But the sweat and tightness in my stomach, the anxiety that comes from getting rid of anything, will eventually subside. I’ll start to breathe again, and I’ll keep building.

I’ve talked about the steps I’ve made moving forward, but in doing so I inadvertently remembered a place that I started from. I recently found some cheap copies of the JSA omnibuses – turns out the paperback versions don’t have everything, which is ten kinds of frustrating – and I realized that it was The Lightning Saga, a crossover between Justice Society of America (2007) and Justice League of America (2006) that caused me to start focusing on trades to begin with. My dad and I had just gotten back into comics when it was published, and a story that required us to switch between two titles each month in order to read it was new and irritating. It was the last push I needed to focus on trades. Seeing my dad’s collection of single issues that he couldn’t read due to their value and the difficulty of inventorying them had started it, but this sealed it. I kept buying single issues along with my trades, because conversations with my dad were worth checking wikipedia for whatever obscure reference the story was hinged on. I only stopped when I had no one to talk to about them anymore.

… thanks, dad.

900 is a stepping stone. But I can see where I started from, and I know where I’m going. Maybe for the first time in my life. So from now until a thousand, and long past that, I’ve got work to do. Watch this space, because I’m nowhere near done yet.

Co-Writing a comic with Don Rosa, and acting natural with Summer Glau

Me and Don Rosa at Minnesota Fan Fusion 2018.
Me and Don Rosa at Minnesota Fan Fusion 2018. And yes, the title is real.

Conventions are stressful affairs, fraught with peril and, usually, good things. It’s getting there that’s the trick. I typically attend my local comic conventions, SpringCon and FallCon, which are very specifically comics-oriented. There’s a cosplay section and artist’s alley for people who don’t do sequential art, but it’s almost entirely comics. Bliss, for someone with my particular interests.

Naturally, my favorite writer and artist in the entire world, Don Rosa, wasn’t going to either of those: he was going to Minnesota Fan Fusion – a convention with comics, people who recreate cars and props from TV shows, panels about Szechuan Sauce, and meeting people you pay ten dollars plus the cost of popcorn to see play pretend on a big screen, all of whom should really be a lot taller than they are.

Obviously, I was going. I got my career as a writer started with an interview with him, which was published in the English reprint of The Pertwillaby Papers and later used as the basis of the Greek edition of the book’s special features. The Coin is one of the best comic book stories I’ve ever read. I bought an Artist’s Edition of his work, despite the cost, just to read and admire the linework of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck – knowing it would take two more volumes to complete the saga.

The plan was simple. I would look at the guest list, look at my trade paperback collection, find the stuff they’d done, and ask for a signature (and head sketch from artists, but we’ll get to that later). I’d leave the boxes over at my cousin’s booth, easy as pie. Christopher Priest’s run on Deadpool, even at ten issues, is superlative – the Tom Cruise storyline alone is worth the price of the omnibus. Peter David writes so much I’m not sure the man sleeps. And Don Rosa, well, I have every published piece of his work available in English at this time.

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An Interview with Jeremy Whitley – The Return of Unstoppable Wasp

Co-written with K. Tilden Frost

Unstoppable Wasp Volume 2 Issue #1 Cover – Art by Gurihiru

The first time Kay and I bumped into the work of Jeremy Whitley was when GeekMom’s Karen Walsh sent Kay’s now-10 year old an autographed copy of the first Princeless trade. She absolutely loved the adventures of Adrienne, and was absolutely speechless when we got to meet Whitley at AwesomeCon. By then, we’d become familiar with Whitley’s work through the Unstoppable Wasp series. There was so much to about Nadia Van Dyne, from her determined, optimistic outlook on life outside the Red Room to her passionate engagement in the sciences. It was heartbreaking when Wasp was canceled; there are so few mainstream comics to share with middle grade kids, especially girls.

After all, Wasp is a gorgeous comic that embraces a diverse cast of girls in STEM, bringing in girls who are Black, Indian, queer, disabled, and sometimes more than one at once. At the same time, the book holds an intense discussion of trauma and its after effects, what it feels like to lose a parent you never knew, and how to create your own life after being controlled by an external force without ever for a second feeling like a morality tale.

These are the kinds of comics I’ve been clamoring for – not just for me, but for kids like Kay’s girls. After hearing about the conversation he and Kay had at the convention, I wanted to have a longer conversation with Whitley about the topics they’d touched on only briefly in Artist’s Alley – middle grade comics, Princeless, Raven, and what he hoped to see in comics going forward. When we heard that Unstoppable Wasp was getting a second volume, it seemed like the perfect time to have a conversation about the comic, and that last piece in particular.

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Don Rosa in Review – The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Artist’s Edition Volume 1

Cover Life and Times Artist's2

When I reorganized my room to accommodate two new bookshelves, I had to be economical with my use of space. Sure, there are my trade paperbacks, but there’s also my computer, some storage, actual books, a Nintendo Switch with an enticing Shantae: Half-Genie Hero for me to finish, a desk and a bed… mini-house fetishists would be proud. But the thing I’m most proud of, in terms of ingenuity, is my reading area. I’ve specially dedicated the space to reading, to keep me free of distractions. A fold-up stadium chair, a repurposed cushion, blank space on my shelves for what I’m reading at the time, even a makeshift table for my netbook, a place to store whatever I’m eating… and giving my cat a place to sleep.

Don’t you even start judging me.

The thing is, as proud as I am of this reading area, there is exactly one book in my collection which alters the look and feel of the space to something less ingenious and more in the realm of ridiculous. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Don Rosa Artist’s Edition – The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck Volume 1.

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Showing Off The Shelves – February was WEIRD

Last month was weird. Since my last Showing Off The Shelves, things avalanched. I mean, they avalanched personally, but so did my collection. Three different jobs landed in my lap, all of which can lead to a lot more. My initial acceptance letter to one of them, (before I re-drafted it) was “Wow, I’m happy to do that, but how the fuck did I trick you into saying yes?”

I’m going to start this post off by giving a special thanks to The Nostalgia Zone, the comic book store I frequent most (this is not the mob store I have mentioned in other posts, if you go in there to ask a question the owner won’t say “Who’s asking?”). Thanks to them, I was able to find some remarkable deals. Some of them were things I’d been looking for already, some of them on the edge of my radar, and one big ticket item that I never thought I’d get my hands on.

As it happens, they were having a sale on Groundhog Day. I know I said Don Rosa in Review was in hibernation, but while I won’t be digging into the story in that article, I will discuss what I found: The Don Rosa Artist’s Edition.

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