It was a big week for Long John, as Chapter 3 started updating (and will continue to do so for the next fifteen weeks or so). Again, the update schedule is every Tuesday and Thursday through to the end of the chapter. However, if that’s too long, don’t forget that Chapter 3 is already available as a book at the store (or as a 3-book bundle––only $20!).


Royal City, Volume 2 by Jeff Lemire. Source: Image Comics

  • Royal City, Volume 2 by Jeff Lemire

I’ve long been a fan of Canadian comicker, Jeff Lemire, starting with his wonderful post-apocalyptic epic, Sweet Tooth. In a lot of ways, I hold Lemire as a model of a writer-artist. He does what he wants but also has a larger appeal in both his creator-owned and mainstream work because he has a strong sense of character, pacing, and story. He has a very cinematic writing style and, to an extent, visual style, but his writing is so confident and well-paced that you can always tell a Lemire story even if he isn’t drawing it.

Royal City was his first creator-owned ongoing series since Sweet Tooth (which was published by Vertigo Comics, a creator-owned imprint of DC Comics), during which he kind of broke big and, in the interim, wrote acclaimed runs for both Marvel and DC Comics (I’m currently reading through his run on Extraordinary X-Men). Therefore, Royal City‘s announcement, for some, was a big deal.

Admittedly, I don’t read it month to month––a practice I’m seriously reconsidering as of late as piles of read floppies aggregate around my office, doing nothing but gather dust. I “trade wait” for Royal City (that is, I wait until enough issues have been released and buy the trade paperback collection) and it reads very well that way.

A double-page spread from Royal City #1 by Jeff Lemire. Source: Image Comics

The comic is a domestic drama, about a family in which a teenaged son died in the ’90s and the series chronicles how they are still recuperating from the incident––and how it’s still affecting them and their decisions––twenty years later. It’s a subtle drama that could easily be filmed, but does actually take advantage of the comic book medium very well (I won’t spoil how it does, though).

What’s interesting is that it’s clear Lemire is completely willing to take his time as the second volume (collecting about five issues) takes place completely in flashback. It’s fun to read a comicker who is mid-stride in his ability and renown. I can’t wait to see where he takes Royal City or what he does next in his career.


source: Sony Interactive Entertainment

  • God of War Original Soundtrack by Bear McCreary

Though my tastes in more popular music swing wildly, a constant hum underneath it all has been soundtracks. I think it stems from my baseline love of narrative––when I draw, I draw comics; when listening to albums, I often construct a narrative around the songs, etc. Though there is a straight line from classical music to musical scores, I find myself much more engaged with scores than classical music, and I think it’s mostly due to context.

Though I’ve listened to a lot of classical music, my enjoyment remains superficial. As much as I can appreciate it, I truly gain understanding if I become familiar with the composer and why that music was written. With soundtrack scores, there is an intrinsic context with which I’m more familiar––I get movies and video games more fully than, perhaps, the abstract inspirations behind a lot of classical pieces.

I often buy soundtracks after consuming their parent product. Recently, however, I picked up the score to the new God of War game from Sony long before ever picking up the game. The album became my “grading music” as the spring semester came to a close––during grading bouts I always have either an album or a playlist that becomes my white noise that plays on repeat as I grade.

I picked up God of War based on the credibility of its composer alone. Bear McCreary, or as he’s known among my friends and I, “The drum guy”, has a respectable history in the field of film and television composing, writing the music for Battlestar Galactica (the modern series), The Walking Dead, and Outlander. Loving those series and their scores, I was surprised to see his name attached to this eagerly anticipated video game, so I picked up the score knowing it would probably be good and that I would be buying the game after the semester concluded.

Hey, I know this song! source: Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Which is where things get weird.

I did buy the game, and I love it. But this was the first time I thoroughly consumed a score before consuming the product it was attached to. So, once I got the game and loaded it up, the playthrough became a surreal experience. When I listen to scores, my mind jumps back to the scenes or moments to which the tracks are attached or they become memorable melodies that bolster the movie or game upon my next time with it. But coming into God of War with the soundtrack already in my head, I realized I had created a completely separate context for the music separate from the game.

In a sense, this dissonance takes me out of the game as I play it. When a track comes on, I have that knee-jerk reaction of “I know this song!” before realizing that it’s from the score that I more recently associate with careful readings of papers and the parsing of numerical scores that determine student grades.

It’s ultimately a benign discord, but one jarring enough to plant a note in my brain to never do it again. Next time, just have the patience to wait.


Long John’s table at the Toy, Game, and Pop Culture Expo on June 9.

Last weekend, I happily exhibited at the 2nd annual Toy, Game, and Pop Culture Expo in Carmichael, CA. Like with the Sac Indie Expo before it, I’m intrigued by young shows because I like seeing process vivified. I like seeing how things stumble and succeed as they’re getting going––Long John‘s early trials and triumphs are perennially documented right here on this site. More importantly, I enjoy being a part of those baby steps, helping (with hope) however I can.

That being said, I had a great time. The show definitely focused more on the toy angle of its title than anything else or, at least, that’s what most of the attendees seemed to be there for, which is fine. I had a lot of fun conversations with the attendees, talking comics, toys, cartoons, and video games. Luckily, I was tabled directly next to Taurus Comics‘ own Kyrun Silva, and we had a blast hanging out, talking, and drawing. I ended up drawing a sketch of Kyrun’s newest creation, Xob (pronounced “saw”) the Lightning Wielder, a superhero comic rooted in Hmong culture and history. I’ve read the first issue and it is a really fun time.

Sketch of Kyrun Silva’s character, Xob, drawn at the TGPC Expo.

The Toy, Game, and Pop Culture Expo was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see how it grows and changes over the coming years. With luck, I’ll continue to be a part of it.

Until next week, that’s The Week! (But come back on Tuesday for a new Long John page.)