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Expert In A Dying Field
English stuff and other things
Hi. I’m Danny and I realized that your best intentions to be productive totally dissipate while on vacation. Which is why I didn’t send out a newsletter in December!
This Month’s Soundtrack
You might remember this song from the title of this month’s newsletter. I really love this song — just nice kiwi indie rock. Big fan of when you can hear a non-American singer’s accent.
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I Went To England
For the holidays, Elizabeth and I decided to ditch the country for a 16-day trip to Merry Old England at the end of 2022. I’ve spent much of my life not doing much of anything, so it was my first trip out of the country for fun rather than that old cliche of “I’m a child and my parents need to go back to The Old Country for some reason.”
Rather than write something coherent, let’s break my trip down into a series of bullet points:
Our flat (that’s English for “apartment”) was right in Piccadilly Circus. This means that to go anywhere in London, at least twice a day we had to fight through throngs of tourists from all over the world who have very different perceptions of the value of “personal space”
The first thing we did after arriving was see some pro wrestling. More about that further below.
After the show, we checked out a vegan pizza joint called Young Vegans and it was fucking incredible. The dude working there was so friendly and nice that it really started us on the wrong foot with regard to our expectations for the rest of the service industry in London.
England has a ton of free museums, and it was dope to not have to pay anything to see all this shit they stole. This included one of the most wild things I’ve ever seen in a museum, Tippu’s Tiger at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Definitely check that out.
Pubs are cool, I definitely went to a few of those. Also, some bars (turns out there’s a difference!): a 1940s subway themed joint called Cahoots, a gin bar called The London Gin Club, and a really cool cocktail bar called Swift.
Saw all the sights you might expect — the Eye, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, walked along the Thames etc etc. Various parks. Walked to Sherlock Holmes’ house but we couldn’t get into the idea of waiting in line (in the rain) so we just browsed the gift shop.
One thing that blew my mind about England is just how easy it is to get a wide array of vegan options pretty much everywhere. Tesco’s got a fridge full of fake meats and microwavable shit and it’s all pretty cheap instead of being priced like health food bullshit like it can often be in “The States.” The pizza chains like Pizza Hut and Dominos offer vegan cheese and fake pepperoni, and McDonalds’ McPlant is really good. Also, I GOT VEGAN FISH AND CHIPS.
Given the above, you better believe I went to Nando’s.
I’m gonna keep talking about food. They had a few “Christmas markets” all over town with street vendors and the like, and we ended up having one of our favorite meals at one of these in Leicester Square: a vegan “holiday fixings wrap” with stuffing, cranberry, etc in a grilled tortilla.
Spied Curzon movie theatre while walking around one day so we had to indulge in some god damn ART HOUSE CINEMA. Saw Park Chan Wook’s Decision To Leave which was really good and then later saw Triangle of Sadness which was fucking insane, I loved it.
For Christmas, we headed out to Canterbury, where Elizabeth studied abroad. It’s a very cute town, and the downtown area is a wonderful maze of shops, pubs, and restaurants.
Stumbled upon a “magic bar” called Houdini’s, where you can drink and magicians do magic at/to/for you. Did not disappoint, even on a Christmas Eve.
Saw two shows: Les Miserables and Cabaret. The latter was a pseudo theater-in-the-round thing in a venue made to look like an underground cabaret. They handed you a shot of gin on your way in.
I wanted to be a jackass and start the December newsletter with a half-assed Warren Ellis parody, like “Hello from the Thames Delta, fellow internet shitfucks” but I didn’t get around to writing one last month.
Hit the Portobello Road Market in Notting Hill, did vintage shopping in Soho.
Checked out two Soho comics shops. Gosh! Comics was my kind of comic shop, with a great small press/indie section and opportunities for longbox dumpster diving in the basement if it weren’t so goddamn crowded. Forbidden Planet down the road is the ideal mass appeal comic shop, with toys and shit on the ground level and an EXTENSIVE array of new single issues, trades/graphic novels, manga, and other assorted books on the underground level. It did not disappoint.
New Year’s Eve was spent in an extremely cool David Bowie themed bar called The Thin White Duke, which had a New Romantic themed NYE party.
I promise to not be one of those people who keeps casually bringing up the fact that they went to another country once.
While Jhomar and Mark are working on Survivant #2, I’ve finished a draft of issue #3 that’s in working order. All it’s missing are plugging in photo refs and the like and it should be ready to go.
I think I’m going to start sending out a pitch this week. WOW.
Here’s a goal I think I might want to hit in the new year: put together more pitches. I feel like all of my peers always got ideas they’re shopping around, but I never really do that. Usually I just go all-in on one idea, watch it crash and burn, and then move on to the next thing. I’m just kidding — I don’t consider anybody who’s found success in comics a “peer.”
Been jotting down ideas for a new comic idea that isn’t going to be called Danger Island even though I keep accidentally calling it that.
The above mentioned Magic Bar gave me a great idea for a story that I may or may not have literally dreamed up. Usually I don’t get anything of value from my dreams, so this was very exciting.
LA Comic Con Was *Fine*
Longtime readers of this newsletter that’s only existed for a few months may remember my deep dread of the Los Angeles Comic Book Convention thanks to my experience tabling at literally any show in SoCal. I was ready to make zero dollars and field random questions from weirdos. It was honestly a little better than that.
The greatest indication of our devotion to this show was probably that we skipped day one, which was on a Friday with weird hours. The rest of the show was largely forgettable. Mostly, I remember being pissed off when I realized that my display stand was broken and eating some really awesome fries from one of the food trucks. Oh, and not getting COVID.
It was, however, a good hangout con. Had a lot of fun after hours hanging out with Liana Kangas, Ryan Cady, Justin Richards, and others. I don’t think I’ll ever pay to table at that show again, but I would take a day to visit, say hi to homies, get a drink or several, and then fuck off back to San Diego the next morning.
I Saw Avatar 2 Twice In A 48-Hour Period
Transcendent filmmaking from the god of cinema James Cameron. Admittedly I didn’t love the first one when it came out. During that scene where Sully tames the bird monster, I actively thought “The most expensive movie ever made, and THIS is the story?” As the years have gone by and people have accused Avatar of having no cultural impact I’ve gotten increasingly defensive of this movie that I’ve only seen once and didn’t really like.
That said, I fucks hard with the Pandora section at Disney World, though — they built the floating islands and the rides whip ass.
Anyway, I loooove the sequel. Another iconic entry in Cameron’s ouevre of water-based filmmaking. The new characters are great, with special shoutouts to bored teen Sigourney Weaver navi and the boy Spider who looks like Kamandi with dreadlocks. The best part is when JC gets really indulgent and spins a lengthy subplot about a psychic whale (?) coming to terms with the fact that sometimes violence is the answer. It’s all so WEIRD and unironic. All hail James Cameron.
My First Film Of 2023 Was Bad Boys For Life: It was a long flight back to America. Was initially excited for this one but I actually found it kind of annoying. Not sure why they thought we’d be rooting for Will Smith playing a cop smashing DJ Khaled’s hands with a mallet. Maybe I played myself expecting that singular Michael Bay flavor in a movie he didn’t actually make. They kind of wrote themselves into a corner with the big reveal in this movie, and the mid-credits teaser where they seem to be setting up some kind of Suicide Squad is LAME AS HELL.
Then I Watched The Jurassic World Sequels: Not gonna lie, I thought Jurassic World 2 was pretty sweet. Given the “we gotta save the dinosaurs from the volcano” plot point, I expect it to be dumb as hell, but there was a lot of fun stuff in this one. I was kind of stoked at the beginning of Jurassic World 3 because it seemed a like it was doing a post-apocalyptic Cadillacs & Dinosaurs thing at the beginning, but then it just turned out to be MEGA DUMB. The evil rich guy stuff is so undercooked, like if Glass Onion didn’t try at all.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: Last movie I watched on the plane back from England. Still perfect. Tarantino’s nostalgic hangout epic.
The Music Man: Saw this for the first time and understood the monorail episode of The Simpsons a little better. Might be one of my favorite musicals I’ve ever seen, about a huckster who inadvertently brings a small town together, leading to a legitimately hilarious and perfect punchline. I’m not sure he even learns a lesson. It’s so much fun, please go watch it.
Loki: Agent of Asgard: I like that Al Ewing. First launched in 2014, this kind of comic is funny to read in the 2020s. The vibe is very “We gotta get in line with the movies so let’s make Loki a hot guy,” which is charmingly 2014. As far as cape shit goes, Al deserves a medal for having to incorporate several crossover event tie-ins over the course of his run and come up with something coherent in the process.
The Great Gatsby: Missed this when it originally came out in theatres, but I was stoked to see Big Baz go balls-out on some Roaring Twenties opulence. Unfortunately, this movie is entirely balls-in. There’s nothing in this movie that Moulin Rouge didn’t do better, including the AWFUL framing sequence where Nick Carraway is telling the story by writing a novel. That shit is so unimaginative, like Baz said “Since this is based on a book, we should show someone writing the book.” This stupid motherfucker had the last sentence of the novel appear on screen while Tobey Maguire narrated. Weirdly, the best parts of this movie were when he just filmed small groups of actors on normal sets.
Went with Elizabeth to the BOOM! Studios holiday party only to have my car’s catalytic converter stolen in the parking lot and it’s been fucking with my life ever since, and remains an ongoing saga even as I write this. I think that counts as industry news.
My man SUCKED THE POISON MIST OUT OF HIS IDOL’S MOUTH in order to spray it back at him and then knee him in the face. Wrestling rules.
The first thing we did when we got to the UK was head over to York Hall to catch a show held by England’s very own Revolution Pro Wrestling, because we needed to do something to do to fight the jet lag and of course we were going to watch wrestling. Wasn’t familiar with most of the domestic performers, but RevPro brings in a lot of talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling, so we got to see some of my favorite dudes like Zack Sabre Jr., The Great O-Khan, and Tomohiro Ishii.
For those unfamiliar with seeing pro wrestling live, there’s always a strong chance you end up sitting near some self-important megafans that can’t help but hold court and pontificate to their friends about how much they claim to know about wrestling — in lieu of actually watching and enjoying the show. It happens all the time in the States, but it was honestly wild to travel to another country only to find out that the same type of guy exists there, only with a different accent.
At one point this dude started ranting to his buds about OnlyFans and how the world’s gonna have fewer doctors now because everyone’s just going to want to show their parts online for money. I swear to god, I am not making this up.
Anyway, Here’s The First Photo I Took In England
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