Monday, December 31, 2007

PopFUZE #8

HAPPY 2008!

Happy New Year! What an awesome year 2007 was, with the #1 highlight being the arrival of our son in early October. I am home on New Year's Eve, writing this blog at 11:35 pm. When they tell you that having kids changes your life, they are right. Still, I wouldn't trade our little boy for anything.

My first comic work was published in 2007, a short phayrie tale called Tiki's Phayrie, the story was published in MangaQuake #4 from Future Quake Press; thanks to the whole team who made it happen. In 2008 I hope to have more comics work out there; I have just started writing a new horror comic that has a publisher on board. We will do a small print run, but I hope the story will get out there in the next year.

This has been a great year of discovery for me, especially in comics and pop culture: Invincible, Moonlight, Y: The Last Man are all new favourites that join with Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars, Underworld at the top of my pop culture list.

More than anything, I am thankful for my beautiful wife and son.

I wish you all the best for 2008!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

PopFUZE #7

If you asked me how old I am, I would usually say 33. However, to be exact I am actually 33.9 years old.

Well, actually I could be anywhere from 0.136 years old to 140.7 years old, depending on which planet I live on!

If you click the title of this post, it will take you to a very cool website called Your Age On Other Worlds. This is another awesome page that I discovered through Stumble Upon ...


Saturday, December 29, 2007

PopFUZE #6

I really like Will Smith, he's a great actor, he makes me laugh, he kicks alien butt; what's not to like? However, I have always wanted to see him play a superhero. Smith has been attached to a long dormant Rob Liefeld movie property for more than a decade (he was supposed to make the film after he shot Wild Wild West which came out in 1999) and that was going to be his first silver screen appearance as a super hero, but now we have Hancock.

I know nothing about this movie, but I found the trailer (which you can see by clicking the title of this post) after using Stumble Upon this morning. The trailer goes for less than a minute, but I was already laughing. Superheroes, great FX shots and belly laughs; Hancock looks like it is going to be awesome!

I still want to see Smith in a Liefeld-helmed super movie...


Friday, December 28, 2007

PopFUZE #5

As Friday just about winds up I proudly declare today Facebook Day. I am completely addicted to this site. I now have all that I need in one easy-to-access web page; I may never leave home again!

It's late and I am struggling to think of what to write about. Oh, would you believe I joined the Get Smart group on Facebook today? Get Smart is my favourite show of all time. There's a new DVD box set out which collects the whole series; it's really expensive, but I hope to grab it for my birthday early next year. Hint! Hint!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

DragonFUZE #3

Who is that winged-demon-thing-man? Thanks to Jacob Bear from Bear Claw Studios for this concept sketch for my new creator-owned comic book project. This is a first draft, and there will be some changes to the design, but I was so excited when I saw this that I had to share it!

The winged-demon-thing-man is the main character of the story. I still don't know much about him, so I look forward to actually writing the guy! For a first draft sketch, Jacob did a great job. There will be some modifications, but for the meantime this is all that you will be seeing ...


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

PopFUZE #4

Mick St John rocks; he's a vampire, which makes him cool in my book. I am 3 episodes in to Moonlight (the show has only been playing here in Oz for 3 weeks), but I am loving it. Sure, there are traces of Underworld, Blade and many other pop culture Vampire incarnations, but the show is cool.

Tonight we found out how Mick became a bloodsucker in the first place, all the while Mick and his Buzzwire journalist friend (I forgot her name) were hunting a newly turned Vampire. I love how each episode gives away a little about Vampire mythology, while focusing on that week's case. I also really like the fact that Mick is a PI.

All in all, this is a good series. Tonight's ep was a little short on blood, but a look into Mick's mythology and origin was well worth the side trip.

Bite me!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

PopFUZE #3

This was one seriously funny movie! One that was very poignant too, given the recent arrival of our first child. I was laughing like a lunatic, especially when Seth Rogan leaves this really harsh and foul-mouthed message for the obstetrician; that was so funny that I had to watch it three times. Oh, and Seth's character gives all us dorks some hope, he did bed Katherine Heigl after all. Lucky dude!

Actually, I am lucky as I am a geek with a hot wife, so I can't complain. I also got her knocked up once and now we have a baby ... I am the luckiest geek in the world!


Monday, December 24, 2007

PopFUZE #2

I am on Facebook, so look me up, add me (click the link at the top of this post), let's be friends!

Facebook teaches me lots of things; today I learned that I am both Batman and Han Solo at the same time (talk about multiple personality disorder!) and I scored 96% on a test. I have never scored so highly on a test in my life. In this case the subject was Underworld: Evolution, so the real world relevance of this result is minimal to say the least.

However, this blog has nothing to do with reality so allow me my moment to shine! I give you my area of expertise:

That feels so good; Kate Beckinsale-in-tight-lycra-good, if you know what I mean! ;)

Facebook also reinforces for me my greatest weakness, my kryptonite if you will: the internet. I am already a net junkie, checking my blog, a myriad of forums and pop culture sites multiple times a day. Like I really need something else to completely distract me from writing, being a worker bee, a husband, a father. Whatever.

Oops! I just broke my own rules and I am only a few days into this new 'reality free' blog. So, let me round this out by proclaiming that Kate Beckinsale-in-tight-lycra is yummy. Or is that Selenee-in-tight-lycra is yummy? It all depends on whether you go for a sexy vampiress killer in tight lycra or a gorgeous British actress. I can never decide...



Sunday, December 23, 2007

DragonFUZE #2

I received an email tonight from Israel, I was working with this guy on a comic book idea about a year ago. I pitched the idea just as my family was moving on from a tragedy; I thought I was ready to tackle comics after going to hell and back, but I wasn't.

So, I got all fired up about the story, it got green-lit, I had a number of people interested in helping me out and then ... Nothing. I had it, I lost it and now I can't get it back. This Israeli creator wants to revive the idea and work on it himself; he will credit me as the co-creator of the idea.

But... I want to keep the name as I think it is cool. I am happy for him to run with the idea as I have moved past it. I will do something with the name, I have a solid idea for the story, but it is very different from what I posted on the Ronin Studios board. If I am honest with myself, I am at least a year away from doing anything with this new, re-worked story. So, am I being harsh in keeping the name, seeing as how I have done nothing with it for over a year and I will still be credited as co-creator?

U decide!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

PopFUZE #1

Part 1 of a new Joe Casey interview is online, and you can read it by clicking on the title of this post. Part of the interview looks at the new Youngblood book coming out of Image Comics in the new year. As much as the return of Youngblood was a shock to the pop culture system, it's re-launch at Image nearly sent hundreds of fanboys to cardiac wards across the USA.

I like Casey's work; I have read the first two G0dland TPBs and they are a great read. His take on Youngblood Maximum is also pretty cool. As much as I wish Rob Liefeld was more heavily involved in the re-launch, Casey gives me faith that this is going to be the best version of the book out on the spinner racks since the mid 1990s.

Anyone who knows me and my obsession with comics will know how excited I am to see Liefeld's creator-owned work back on the shelves. I am so enthusiastic for anything that Rob does because there is an awesome underlying energy that pervades all his work - it consumes him and travels millions of kilometers around the world consuming his fans.

EMF are back, Youngblood is back, Liefeld is back; it doesn't get any better than this.


SonicFUZE #2

I am doing this a little out of order; I actually bought Stigma first and later found Unexplained EP, both of which I initially purchased on cassette! My first exposure to EMF's more muscular, rock oriented sound on both releases came when I saw the film clip for the song Getting Through:

I'm too honest when I'm scared
When I first looked in I was young and cared

These are the ways of getting through

I left my trust on the tail of youth
We were so unsure of the things we'd seen

Unexplained EP

This record sounds much, much different to EMF's debut, Schubert Dip. Like it's longer cousin Stigma, this EP has a much stronger rock element to it than the previous release and even includes a cover of The Stooges - but I'll get to that soon.

When I first heard this record, I was looking for a way to get through the pain of my relationship with my father, my late teen angst and the resentment that I carried against many in my family and the wider world. Unexplained EP and Stigma, together with alcohol and dark poetry became my solace.

Getting Through is quite a frenetic track that builds and builds tangible emotion, almost peaking, but never quite giving you relief. Instead, the driving guitars blend into a siren-like wail that alerts you to the emergencies within your own life, while giving hope that you will make it to the other side. This is a powerful song, lyrically, sonically and musically. Getting Through blends slashing guitars with an almost Middle Eastern edge and a dash of techno. This song is EMF at its 1992 best. This track also appears on the band's second album. The EMF remix album also carries a wicked live version of this song.

But things step up from there as the trance-like conclusion of the first track bleeds into the intense lead guitar of the key second song Far From Me.

I've lost it all
I've lost your face
Only time will tell
Or whether it will
Just stand still
Leave me, and leave me

Before I look a bot closely at my favourite EMF track, I want to relate the story of when and how I bought Unexplained EP. Just a short walk from RMIT University was my favourite sci-fi/ fantasy bookshop, named Slow Glass Books. At the time you had to get to the bookshop by walking through another store, an alternative CD/ LP store called Peril 305. One day I went in there to see what other EMF products they had and I picked up the Children Live EP, which is awesome. So, I always kept going back hoping to find more EMF goodies.

Then there was the time around late 1992 when I ordered a tape I had never heard called Unexplained EP ... So when the tape arrived, I promptly listened to it and was amped by the second track Far From Me. When the sampled voice declares "Get ready to go", well, the starter's gun fires and we're off!

This song encapsulates all that is brilliant about EMF: multiple samples, mad guitar and a techno/ rock sensibility; it's a tour de force. Strangely, I am almost without words to explain how I feel about this awesome song; it's jut perfect and remains so 15 years after it was first recorded. As to my favourite song of all time, it's a toss up between this track and I Believe.

Next up is The Same; more psychadlic guitars, mad drums, heavy bass, soothing samples and classical piano! This odd combination creates a driving track that, similar to Getting Through, just builds layer of noise on layer of noise, most effectively during the middle music section that shows off the piano and electric guitar. After the interlude we get a chorus replay with minimal backing instruments. James sounds awesome on this track, and so does the band!

I had never heard of The Stooges; I didn't even realise that Search And Destroy was a cover until three years after the release of this EP! That's how authoritatively EMF have put their stamp on this song. The energy in this track is atomic and the Mef go mad on a rock classic. Given how angry and pissed off with the world I was back in 1992 - 1996 it's only natural that this song became a key backing track for that emotional roller coaster. The funniest thing about this song is that it wasn't until I went on a Contiki Tour of Europe in 1996 that I found out this was a cover of Iggy Pop's band, The Stooges.


When Stigma was released in November 1992 I was nearing the end of my first year at university: wild parties, wild drinking, wild girls and wild anger...

One night in September, I turned up at a girl's birthday party - probably her 21st. Anyway, I took 12 bottles of alcoholic cider with me - I drank them, and then hopped into some stuff that others bought as well. I never asked if they wanted to share, I just drank it! What a night! Lost in a drunk haze I remember having a really trippy discussion with a mate of mine named Steve; a huge raver, a huge drinker and he was huge into drugs. Come to think of it, he may not even be alive anymore; that's how mad he was. Anyway, I remember being so pissed (that's Aussie for drunk, not American for anger) that at one stage I fell onto the floor and couldn't get up for a while. I couldn't get off the floor because I was laughing like mad. That's when I met her ...

From memory I think her name was Annette. All I could remember from that night was that she had long curly hair and that we kissed - a lot! Heh ... funny to think of those years when a kiss was all you needed! So, I was pissed out of my mind, intoxicated by this gorgeous girl with curly hair ... At about 3 am I remember someone offering to drive me home. The whole way back in the car I was certain I was going to vomit, that's how drunk I was. I managed to keep it down until just after I got home, then I let it rip! I think I burned a hole in the garden bed ...

I was sober enough to get Annette's phone number. She actually lived in Geelong (about an hour and a half from Melbourne by train), so we spoke on the phone quite a few times before we got to see each other again. Geelong was then on another telephone code, so it was a long distance call. I used to walk to the phone box next to the freeway (about five minutes from my house) to call her. We had great conversations and got on really well over the phone. I was falling for this girl, but the only thing I remembered about Annette was her hair!

We arranged to meet in the city one day. I met her at Spencer Street Station where all the trains from the country come in to Melbourne. I was sitting and waiting ... looking for a gorgeous girl with curly brown hair. The train arrived and I didn't see her get off ... there were passengers everywhere and then the train platform was empty. There was a girl with curly dark hair, she wasn't attractive at all, but she was named Annette. Amazing what happens when you see a girl through beer goggles in the dark!

So, despite being 18, being obsessed with hot girls and being faced with spending the day with a girl who would only be considered 'hot' in a circus freak show, I did the only thing I could do; I ran! ... Only kidding! I was the perfect gentleman. I went up to her, said 'Hi!', gave her a polite kiss and took her out for a day in the city. We actually got on really well, but being a shallow young man with one thing on my mind, I decided to cut it short then and there. Of course I didn't say "I am breaking up with you because you have a face like a dog's ass!". I made up a story about liking her, but that I didn't think it would work out as she lived so far away and I didn't have a car - it was a good story!

Anyway, at the end of the day I walked her back to the train station and said 'See ya!'. Now, the city was mine. Walking down Swanston Steet, one of the main streets in Melbourne's city centre, I went past a record store called Brashs'. As I walked by I heard the song Getting Through. I knew this was an EMF song as I had seen the film clip on TV. Excitedly, I rushed into the store to ask at the counter if there was an new EMF album; Stigma had arrived in the store that day.

Without second thought I shelled out $20 and bought the cassette. I rushed to the bus stop (I didn't get a car until the following year) and sat on the bus impatiently as it took 45 minutes to get me home.

Once there I didn't say "Hi" to my Mum or her partner, nor to my sister. I rushed straight to my room, jammed the tape into my cassette deck and pressed 'Play'.

(Beautiful exists, simply for its own sake)

I'm breathing with a sinking earth
Gasping for breath feeling hurt
Showing my rage as I turn the pages
Reading the words and between the spaces
Could it be, could it only be
The love we've lost was all we got
Tell me the earth turns for the worst
I'll tell your words are blind and cursed

Mad guitars, crunching drums, socio-pathic synth ... this was not the EMF I remembered! Where was the breezy, dance/ techno infused pop of Schubert Dip? This was heavy, moody, techno-rock - I hated it! I really didn't like Stigma the first few times I heard this album, I was convinced that EMF had made a mistake...

But, I loved EMF - they were my favourite band, right? So, I stuck with them and I stuck with Stigma. I listened to the album everywhere I went; on the bus to university, on the way to the gym and while I was working out, every moment I was in my room at home, the album was on constant rotation. Slowly, surely I was drawn into the techno/ metal net; the album seduced me, tempted me and lured me to dark places.

It was the early 90s, my relationship with my Dad was turning to shit - again! I was poor, I hated my mother's partner, I was mad about the death of my Zady (grandfather) that year; he meant everything to me. I got into radical politics at Uni, I wanted to smash the state. I hated everything and everyone.

I went to nightclubs, got drunk, flirted with killing myself and listened to Stigma...

More later.


SonicFUZE #1

They're Here

My whole head hollows
As my lost spirit follows
In the end I don't know how
But I got there

That quote, taken from the song Blue Highs off EMF's second album Stigma pretty much explains the transition of my life that began in 1992 and ended in late 1996. For most of that entire period I was an angry and depressed young man and music played a huge role in getting through.

But, I have leaped ahead in time! So, for now, let's go back to around 1991. At the time I was 17 years old and completing my final year of high school. I wasn't much into music back then, and I wasn't into comics either. Back in the early 90s my schtik was writing and current affairs, they were my keen interests.

Back in the Dark Ages I lived at home with my Mum and her defacto partner. He was nearly constantly drunk and between him and my Mum, the house was run like a mini Soviet dictatorship. My sister and I were banned from the lounge room, that was the defacto's space, so when we wanted to watch TV, we snuck into my Mum's room (presuming she wasn't home) and turned the TV on at the lowest volume so that he wouldn't know we were in there.

Back in 1990/ 1991 they used to have music video shows on Saturday and Sunday morning (come to think of it, they still do!), but there was also a show that started around the time we came back from school.

One day, I was watching this show when I was gobsmacked by this (apologies for the crap quality):

O.K. that's fine as long as you believe
The only things moving don't mean a thing
Can you believe it, it's getting blue
Straight through, line for line, trash

Don't touch this
Don't touch this

To this day, more than 16 years later, I Believe remains the tool with which I try to shatter my ear drums while listening to music via my iPod or in the car. The song is a frenetic and blistering soundscape that assaults so many more senses than simply your hearing. The song is also incredibly dense, with so many layers of sound cascading on top of each other in an anarchic sonic rush.

So, I heard this song and saw this video and I was hooked! But, seeing how I was in my final year of high school, had no $ and lived at home that was, by and large, the last I heard of EMF until 1992 when I went to university...

One thing that happens is that when you live off $75 a week and that covers all your text books, stationary, transport and food, well you live in poverty! So @ RMIT University in Melbourne they had a lot of communal resources, one of which was a room where you could go and listen to music. The room had lots of couches and different listening stations where you plugged in your ear phones and tuned to whatever channel the guy at the desk told you to. You see, before you sat down on the couch, you would tell the guy what you wanted to listen to. So, on the first day I ever went in there, I chose to listen to Schubert Dip, EMF's debut album.

The time is early 1992. I'm living in a new world of hot girls, late night clubbing, heavy drinking, angst filled poetry, a creeping seduction of rave culture and the general deprived depravity of a first year university student where a pot of beer comes before the unaffordable text books. I am sampling this new hedonistic land of freedom and desperately searching for a new soundtrack to this bemused utopia.

So, I slink out of class and with a few hours to kill before returning to the stuffy locale of a lethargically laborious lecture theatre, I head to the music room on a hunch that I will discover something new and cool from the fabled lads of EMF. I slide on to the couch, slip on the earphones and swoon as a psychedelic melody envelops me...

So I am slip sliding away to Tranceylvania when a sudden siren tears through the sound barrier, heralding the arrival of the song Children. As new age becomes rampage I am drawn into the vortex. The pace keeps building, like an unattainable climax and I am reaching musical nirvana as I meet my first life long musical love.

Long Summer Days comes next and its breezy techno pop melts into a cheery and leery song about "when will I feel yours in mine", aka When You're Mine. Just in case we are having a little too much fun here, it all comes crashing down with the melancholic Travelling Not Running, with the line "I could have been anything for you", foreshadowing my own sentiments as I was, years later, dragged into a horrible relationship where the only silver lining was the music of Cha Cha Cha (more on that later).

Next up, well I am ready for this one, I know what to expect, an apocalyptic rush of 90s techno pop, the song I Believe. Ignoring all notions of good sense and the desire to preserve my own hearing, I adjust the volume knob, happily noticing a large empty black space after the number '10', how far can I push this el-cheapo student sound system? I intend to break MACH 5! "Love, love, love, love ... I believe, I believe sometimes I touch you, I believe ... love!" I want to scream the lyrics, jump up and scare the shit out of every snot nosed kid in the room as they witness me descending into a dervish of dancing as I am immersed into the end of time as I know it: "This is hopeless now as the minutes stall".

Somehow, I come out of that black hole, only to be snatched up by the next song which gives great aural, you could say it's Unbelievable!.

Seemingly lastless, don't mean
You can ask us
Pushing down the relative
Bringing out your higher self
Think of the fine times
Pushing down the better few
Instead of bringing out the clues
To what the world and everything anger to
Brace yourself with the grace of ease
I know this world ain't what it seems.

I am completely lost now, I am no longer at RMIT, I am somewhere else, floating in some unknown musictopia where Madchester meets Sesame Street for the saccharine sweet world that is Girl Of An Age. Right then and there I am having tasty visions of the endless goth, punk, raver, hippy girls who fill my life - in my dreams.

The next track, well it don't work for me, probably the only EMF song that doesn't fit, so I surge on to hear the controversial sample of Mark Chapman reciting the first two lines of Watching The Wheels - this version of the song Lies is apparently quite rare, so I have an uncommon pressing of this CD, because Yoko Ono successfully sued EMF forcing them to omit the sample from later editions. Incidentally, somewhere I have a 12 inch LP featuring a whole number of remixes for this song. I don't have a record player, so while I have never listened to this LP, I also have the single on CD, so all the remixes are on my iPod.

So here I am, this first EMF odyssey is almost up, save for Longtime which sounds like some sort of smooth jazz song that has landed in the middle of a punk/ techno world and doesn't quite know what to do with itself. There's a creeping madness to the song as it rushes to a crescendo only to be met by Julie Andrews:

The hills are alive with the sound of ... ecstasy, ecstasy ... E! M! F!

I don't think Sister Maria was on E, but Live at the Bilson, the Gang Of Six; James Atkin (Vocal), Derry Brownson (keyboards), Mark De Cloedt (drums), Ian Dench (guitar), Zac Foley - who sadly died in 2002 (bass) and their DJ Milf crank out Ecstasy My mind to my feet From us to you in a live, euphoric triumphal tour of their local club ...

And then it's done.

'If ever I'm short of a chord sequence I nick one from Schubert'
, Ian Dench.

At Mon Dec 03, 10:34:00 PM, Blogger Mark said...

wow J that is really nice mate....nice to know we affected your life in a positive way..

Be good and life will return the favour


At Tue Dec 04, 09:47:00 AM, Blogger JBL said...

OMFG!! It's Mark D from EMF. He's here at my blog. WOW! I'll be writing more about EMF soon.


DragonFUZE #1

A new era dawns! Welcome to DragonFUZE comics, my name is Jason - you know who I am. My journey in our world has been confused by forces who just don't understand that with great power comes great creativity. So, I am fighting back and the battle begins now.

From today DragonFUZE Comics is my new home on the web. This time, it's different; no real world, no job, no wife and kid. This time it's 100% comics (and a bit of pop culture)!

As announced on the Rob Liefeld forum I am working with Marat Mychaels and John Metych on Blindside #0 from Beta 3 Comics. I own two pages for this book and my first draft of the script is already in. We will be re-working the script and I will be co-writing this with John; it's going to be awesome! The #0 issue leads into a crossover between Marat's Blindside character (a Daredevil type who backs up his acrobatics and hand-to-hand fighting with attitude and, most importantly, guns!) and John's indy superstars Sniper and Rook.

Besides Blindside, I am also working on an action/ horror book which is my homage to the Underworld and Blade films, so things are hectic this holiday season!

That just about wraps this debut post. Keep checking in as I chart the progress of my comic book work and my general journey through the awesome worlds of comics and pop culture!


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