Source: HBO
  • His Dark Materials on HBO

I don’t read books over 200 pages in length these days. I chalk it up mostly to my day job, which is to carefully and critically read thousands of pages every fifteen weeks. Such duties exhaust my capacity to really appreciate very long-form works when I’m off the clock, so to speak. So, I turn to shorter works and, obviously, graphic novels and comic books for my non-video narratives.

For awhile, the joke around our household was that any big book that interested I would instead give to my wife to read and have her report back to me on its quality.

Sometimes, however, it works the other way around, when she becomes so enamored by a work that she pushes the work onto me, demanding that I read it. Such was the case for the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. She read the series before the 2007 cinematic adaptation of the first book, titled The Golden Compass (Northern Lights everywhere else), was released. I enjoyed the movie and the hints Nicole was giving as to the direction the rest of the series took that I read the book and enjoyed it quite a bit.

Sadly, that film series didn’t get off the ground (a damned shame, in my opinion), but HBO acquired the rights and have begun airing their adaptation of Pullman’s series, and it’s quite good so far (we’ve only seen one episode, but all signs point to a positive direction).

However, in my head, I constantly compared it to the movie which I advocated for since its release, admiring its art direction and casting to the point where that was the real shame in its failure. So, I probably need to watch the first episode of this new series again to––with hope––absorb it after having extracted my bias a bit more. It’s not that my bias was agonistic, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, but my head continuously codified as once-removed from the “real” adaptation that was the 2007 film.

I have to soon accept that the film is definitely not the baseline that everybody is working from––that it was, instead, a rarely-watched one-off––and that this is likely going to be the actual baseline for how people define the series going forward. It’s these actors and sets that people will have in mind as they pick up the books for the first time. That’s the weird part, though; as I said, nothing about this show displeases me in the slightest. It’s just that for many people they’re adding it to an empty entertainment shelf in their minds whereas, for me, it’s being shelved right next to the dusty 2007 film as yet another adaptation instead of being what it will be for most people––their introduction this wildly inventive, challenging, and exciting story.

They also sold me because the series features both Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) AND Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) in starring roles, so my fandom won’t let me be anything but supportive.


  • Long John at Reno Pop Culture Con 2019

Last weekend was the first Reno Pop Culture Con and it was a blast taking the comic to its first three-day show. The closest I had come to a show as long as this was 2017’s two-day APE (Alternative Press Expo) in San Jose, and, with the three-book bundle and some prints in my inventory, I was excited about seeing how I’d do at a big show like this.

What really stood out to me from the weekend was simply the appreciation the people of Reno had for the show. Apparently, the last big pop culture show took place a few years ago, and any promise of its return evaporated with little explanation.

What was great about RPCC was that it came in with funding and credibility behind it. Organized by the same folks who run the wildly popular Denver Pop Culture Con, the list of celebrity attendees was impressive throughout the entire weekend, in addition to being able to fill the huge space that is the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

I didn’t get the chance to wander around the floor very much as I was stuck behind the table or simply exhausted from the work, but it was a show with a lot of promise and I’m interested to see how next year goes.

Thanks to all the wonderful and eager people I met last weekend and I hope you enjoy the books!


  • Chapter 4 Production is Back Underway!

The day job took over my life over the last few weeks––with RPCC getting in the way, as well––so I had to put production of Chapter 4 on hold.

Sadly, it will soon go on hold again as the semester winds down and I will have two rounds of 125 papers and final projects to grade between now and the second week of December.

That being said, with where the book is now, it is actually fairly easy to pop in and do a little bit of work on it at a time when the opportunity shows itself.

As far as details, this is where we’re at:

  • 100% of pages are pencilled, inked, and scanned.
  • 100% of pages are lettered with dialogue and captions. However, until I keep the option open for nudging and revision up until I compile the pages and send them off to the printer.
  • 99% of the pages have been “flatted,” meaning that they have basic colors thrown onto them to distinguish between characters and backgrounds, which will make it easier to go in and add shading and highlights and final touches.
  • ~2% of the pages are completely finished. This was more of an accident of my process where I started doing one entire page at a time before moving on to the next. It was agonizing, and I quickly realized why it was so painful. So, that’s when I switch to flatting mode, which has already sped things up quite a bit.

Other than that, the 3-book bundles (for only $20!) are available again in the store (via Etsy). I’ll make a standalone post for that at the beginning of next week, but it’s best to let you know now in case you were holding out!