05 May 2008

Geek Thoughts

It's late and I'm blogging really just to purge my head of some random thoughts I meant to jot down earlier in the hopes I'll be able to go to bed in the next few minutes.

Last year, Hasbro marked the thirtieth anniversary of Star Wars with a line of action figures that came packed with silver coins.  In the last couple of months, a running change has been made whereupon said coins have been replaced by action figure stands.  Whilst shopping at Target this weekend, I came upon a solitary remaining Anakin Skywalker's Spirit figure (capturing Hayden Christensen's controversial retcon cameo in Return of the Jedi).  I was pleased to find one, since I had previously passed on one at Toys "R" Us a few months back, thinking at the time they'd be easy to find.  In the time it took my wife to try on a couple of items, however, I discovered that someone had tampered with Anakin; specifically, they'd cracked open the bubble, cracked open the bubble under the bubble, removed the newly issued stand and re-glued the bubble.  Why?  In all likelihood, it was a completist who couldn't stand the thought of not having both the coin and stand for the figure, and couldn't stand the thought of paying $7 twice for the same figure.

It's tempting to be angry with Hasbro, since they should have known such behavior would be the consequence of their running change.  However, I will not blame Hasbro for such behavior.  Star Wars collectors are, in my experience, the most hardcore of all geeks; they take their blind, unwavering support to such an extreme that it seems all they do is complain about how much they hate all things Star Wars.  Think about the last time you talked about the Prequel Trilogy with a Fan (note the capital "f"): Chances are, he/she had explicitly detailed complaints, but somewhere in the over-long rant, you realized that he/she couldn't imagine a world in which he/she had not gone to the theater thirteen times to see the very film about which he/she spent half an hour complaining.

No, there's something about Star Wars collecting that brings out the worst in too many people.  It's not enough to find a Slave Leia; you need to buy all three that were just stocked.  Sure, you already have Yoda on a red card, but now he's on a green card...oh, crap!  Now he's on a green card with a hologram sticker!  It is truly sickening, and my recent Anakin experience was an unfortunate reminder why I abandoned collecting these figures a decade ago.

I will readily confess, though, that I did still buy three figures (Biker Scout and Boba Fett re-issues and an Episode III Clone Trooper re-deco), and I very excitedly filled out the necessary form to order a Clone Wars Sneak Preview Captain Rex figure.  Like I explained to my wife, there is simply nothing cooler than mail-away redemption toys.  You order it, you forget about it, and then two months later, BAM!  In the mailbox amongst bills and spam you have an action figure.  It was cool when I was five, and it's cool now.  It'll always be cool.

Speaking of things that should be cool, iTunes has just made available a trailer for the forthcoming film adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit.  Knowing this was in the offing, I recently checked out The Best of The Spirit from the Oldham County Public Library.  Not only did I check it out, I actually read the thing!  (People who know my reading habits will be impressed; others will wonder why I bother to mention such things; I will wonder why people who aren't familiar with my reading habits are reading my blog.)  I will say now what I expect most Eisner readers have taken for given: Those were some of the most interesting short stories I've ever read from the funnybooks.

If you consider yourself a fan of short fiction, comic books, comic strips or even simple literature, you should check out The Best of The Spirit.  It's an anthology of stories, each of which runs precisely seven pages.  The Spirit himself is not particularly well developed throughout the collection, and his early sidekick is sure to alarm anyone with racial sensitivities.  Still, when one considers that the sidekick (whose name escapes me) was originally published in 1940s strips, it becomes easier to characterize as an unfortunate sign of the times.

Beyond that, though, the storytelling is fast-paced and yet in seven simple pages, Eisner crafts an entire world.  My best characterization would be to imagine if O. Henry collaborated with Frank Miller; the stories are compelling, the characters interesting, the situations absorbing, the dangers real and the women all those things and more.  It is fitting, then, that Miller should direct the film adaptation of The Spirit.  His interpretation of the Battle at Thermopylae notwithstanding, I have always respected Frank for the stand that he took for creator rights and the way he has really been a torch-keeper for the industry.  Sometimes he makes me squeamish with his work, but I also feel he's the most important individual to impact comic books of my generation.

There.  I think I've purged enough thoughts to finally go to bed.  If I should fail in my endeavour, I will likely be back on to blog until I can't see straight.  If you're reading this, or have read any of my other blogs, be sure to offer feedback of some kind.  I keep posting these things, and I keep seeing that you're reading them, but I have no idea who you are or what you get out of my blog.  All writers--even us amateur bloggers--like to have an idea who their audience is, and what their audience is looking to find in their work.  Let me know: Do you prefer blogs like this, where I discuss my own experiences, or do you prefer the more perfunctory ones, like the last few describing forthcoming summer film festival schedules?  What should I do more/less?  Think about it, and let me know.

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