True Crime Podcast Exposing a Crime – Fogline

I browse Kickstarter every now and then, usually in the graphic novel or comics section. I like how Kickstarter and other platforms have helped fund projects that may not have existed otherwise. In one scroll, I noticed the campaign for Fogline. Fogline immediately piqued my interest. The premise of a True Crime podcast exposing a crime that a man committed 40 years ago and seemingly got away with was enough for me to officially back the campaign. Fogline was everything I hoped for and reminded me to check Kickstarter more often.

Before I talk about the graphic novel, I wanted to comment on the way it was shipped. Fogline was packaged in this white envelope. The packaging made it seem that the book was “evidence” that was collected at a crime scene. How neat is this?? I was surprised by the attention to detail. I’m for sure planning on keeping the package as a way to store Fogline versus simply throwing it away.

Fogline focuses on Henry, a retired trucker living with his daughter and grandson. Henry wakes up from nightmares on a consistent basis. His dreams are always the same; he is on a shift and accidentally hits and kills a woman. Henry instead of calling the police drags her body into a cornfield and buries her. As Henry plays with his grandson, he discovers his grandson is listening to a True Crime podcast that’s investigating her disappearance. Apparently, she was the daughter of a mob boss, so her death lead to additional violence during the time period. Henry is horrified and realizes that maybe he should confess after all.

I love this whole concept. It feels so on point with the world today. Henry is experiencing major guilt, however, I was anxiously awaiting how he would be caught. The art is told entirely in black & white which I felt fit the style of the graphic novel. The only critique I would have is Fogline was much shorter than I anticipated. I wanted more story! I wanted to see more of Henry and this True Crime podcast. I felt the story was skimmed over. It could be due to the fact that there will be a second volume and they’re preparing the campaign now which I will happily back.

Fogline by Mario Candelaria had an interesting premise and I’m happy to have helped bring the project to life. I did a quick search and I don’t see that Fogline is available to those outside of the Kickstarter. I checked Mario’s website and I don’t see Fogline mentioned. It’s an important reminder to check Kickstarter because there are a lot of creative people out there making content that’s so worth investing in.

I Am Not Starfire by Mariko Tamaki and Yoshi Yoshitani

I Am Not Starfire has an average rating of 3.4 stars on Goodreads. As I read reviews, I was appalled at some of the comments. There were reviews from people who haven’t even read the novel and were already saying it was awful. There were comments about the author and illustrator not being talented and why DC Comics would ask them to create this. It’s upsetting that this novel received so much negative attention before it was released. I am happy to say I Am Not Starfire has a lot of heart and I’m glad I read it.

Mandy is the daughter of Starfire, a famous member of the Teen Titans. Starfire is attractive, thin, and popular amongst many. Mandy is the opposite and finds that she doesn’t want to constantly live under her mother’s shadow. As Mandy is balancing a crush at school, she’s confronted by someone from Starfire’s past. Mandy sees her mom from a new lens and decides to protect everything and everyone she holds dear.

As a reminder, this is a YA (Young Adult) graphic novel. I found a lot of the negative reviews didn’t mention this. Many of the negative reviews criticized Mandy. Mandy in many ways is a typical teenager. Teenagers can be selfish, rude, and over the top at times. Everything is a big deal at that age. One of my favorite moments is when Mandy was contemplating other options besides going to college. I thought this was insightful especially because college is emphasized after high school.

Besides Mandy, I liked the side characters. Lincoln serves as Mandy’s best friend. He relates to Mandy personally in many ways. Besides Lincoln, there’s Claire, Mandy’s school crush. They have a falling out towards the middle of the novel which I felt was realistic with what Mandy’s insecurities are.

I Am Not Starfire is undeserving of all the hate it received. I thought this was a lovely read. I rated I Am Not Starfire five stars on Goodreads.

Missoula – Rape and the Justice System in a College Town – Review

Content Warning: Sexual Assault (SA) I will not discuss graphic details.

Anyone of any sex or gender can be a victim of SA or a perpetrator. This book focuses specifically on cis, college women.

For one month out of the year, I do my best to read solely non-fiction. I never used to be a non-fiction reader, however, I like to learn new things and the best way to do that is through reading. For the month of June, I’m going to read only non-fiction. I have two more books lined up for the month, so I’m curious to see if I read them both. The first non-fiction book I read this month was Missoula Rape And The Justice System In A College Town.

Missoula is seemingly an ordinary college town. The University of Montana is the home base for the Grizzly football team which unites college kids and the town as a whole. Missoula became the home base for a scandal when articles were published alleging that Missoula wasn’t thoroughly investigating sexual assaults. Numerous women were coming forward saying they reported their sexual assault but were told there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute. Women who came forward were asked if they had a boyfriend or other deeply personal questions completely unrelated to their trauma. Jon Krakauer details the victims, their stories, and how Missoula came under investigation.

There are so many horrifying pieces in this story. In one instance, there’s a phrase that I have heard before where a rapist isn’t charged because “a victim declined to press charges” This statement in many ways is false. A SA victim can report this to the police, but if the criminal justice system doesn’t want to indict someone, they have the power to not move the case forward. It’s interesting because I have heard this statement before and it’s so misleading to what actually is going on.

One way I was impressed with Missoula was the way Krakauer brought up the fear of false SA charges. There was a case specifically referenced where a man was sent to prison and the victim came forward saying she made up that she was assaulted. This part of the book was delicate because it stated how awful false charges are and bridged that with how every case should be investigated with tenacity and diligence. I thought this was done in a respectful and tactful way.

The book itself kept me engaged throughout. There was a guide in the back where it listed all the individuals mentioned in the story. I found it easy to reference and follow along with all the key players in the book. I think the book was the perfect length where it wasn’t too long or too short. This was easily one of my all-time favorite non-fiction books I have ever read even though it was disturbing.

Missoula Rape And The Justice System In A College Town is a book I would recommend everyone to read. The survivors are the true heroes and without them, there wouldn’t have been any change.

May the 4th Be With You – 2022 Plan Recap

Summer is in full swing and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I love the sun, the smell of sunscreen, and not needing a jacket every time I go outside. With the end of May, it comes my annual “May the 4th Be With You” recap. This month didn’t go exactly as I had planned, but I still think it was a great month regardless

Books and Comics

Unfortunately, I never received the rest of my Barnes & Noble order. I ended up missing Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray, Leia, Princess of Alderaan, and Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume #1. The only book that arrived was Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse. It’s unfortunate because I wanted to have a big reading month and it didn’t work out.

Resistance Reborn takes place between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. The book centers around recruiting former allies to fight for the Resistance and an action-packed mission. Poe, leader of the Black Squadron, is tasked with retrieving a Resistance prisoner list and breaking a prisoner out of a secure First Order facility.

Resistance Reborn was an enjoyable read. I will say there was a lot of story build-up. For some, this might be boring to read, but I like all the information and context. The last 100 pages are where the action intensified. I rated Resistance Reborn 3 1/2 stars on Goodreads.

Regarding comics, I only finished Star Wars: Princess Leia Vol #1. I do have the complete run of Star Wars: Poe Dameron to read, but I didn’t finish it in May like I thought I would. I’m looking forward to the coming months because I have fewer weekends booked solid like I did in May. I’m hoping for some free Saturday mornings to read comics.

Movies & TV

I’m sad to say that I didn’t finish The Clone Wars. I did watch The Clone Wars on my drive to and from Milwaukee, so that helped. I’m now on season #3. I’m determined to finally finish the show by the end of the year. I didn’t get to re-watch The Mandalorian or re-watch The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, or The Rise of Skywalker. I still feel accomplished for the month and I’m invested in watching more Star Wars content by the end of the year.

Gaming

I did play through LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga, however, my game glitched!! I am on the last episode, The Rise of Skywalker, and I’m forever stuck in light speed traveling to the next level. I looked on Reddit, and apparently, if you accepted a cargo side mission, the cargo doesn’t load at light speed, so you have to complete the cargo mission and it should fix the glitch. The problem is that I have no idea what cargo mission I accepted. I would have to go back and go through every individual side mission to figure out which one I accepted. Plus, this isn’t a guaranteed fix. There were some comments where players did this and it still didn’t fix the glitch.

I have invested so much time in this game that I’m so sad that I can’t even finish the story. The only hope that I have is if a patch is released that will fix my game save. I’m not willing to go through all the effort listed above and have it not work. I’m going to discontinue playing through the game which is such a bummer.

Since I’m done playing through LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga, I’m going to go back to Jedi Fallen Order. I played through the game back in 2020 and I never finished it. I’m going to start over and devote the time to finishing the game.

Miscellaneous Star Wars Content

I’m adding a section for the “miscellaneous” Star Wars content that I listened to or discovered this month. Thanks to Anakin + His Angel I discovered the Youtube channel, Always Believe. Always Believe is hosted by Ash and Bryan who share their love of Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel. I love their channel! They are both in their mid-30’s and I like to see people carry their interests as they get older. I’m genuinely excited to see when they release a new video and I like listening to their videos while I do various chores or tasks throughout the day.

While I’m at work, I discovered two Star Wars podcasts to help me get through the day. The first is Force Toast Podcast. Force Toast is hosted by Alyce and Laura and they are based in Chicago. They talk about Star Wars content, and Star Wars trivia over a drink. The other Star Wars podcast I found was Star Wars STUFF This is more of a Star Wars news podcast versus Force Toast being a casual Star Wars chat. Both podcasts I can see myself listening to throughout the coming months.

Overall, I think this was a successful Star Wars month despite some challenges I had. I do want to carry more Star Wars throughout the year as I find that once May ends, I find I don’t discuss Star Wars nearly as much. I do want to add Star Wars books to my TBR (to be read pile) along with continuing my re-watch of The Clone Wars. Let me know what Star Wars content you’re reading or loving in the comments down below.

Free Comic Book Day – 2022

Last weekend was Free Comic Book Day. Free Comic Book Day is the first Saturday in May when comic book stores have free comics to pick from. I try to participate in Free Comic Book Day every year with the exception of the Covid pandemic or if I’m out of town for the weekend. I wanted to share my comic book stop along with my massive comic haul.

The weather on Free Comic Book day was gorgeous! It was sunny, 70 degrees, and a blowing breeze which was a nice balance with the sun. I visited my local store, Hot Comics, and Collectibles at their Minneapolis location. Since it was nice out, the free comics were on tables outside to peruse. I took a few titles that caught my eye before wandering inside.

I won’t share every single comic I bought because it was a huge stack. Instead, I wanted to share the most exciting purchase of the day. After browsing through the recent comics selection, I meandered through the back issues. In most comic book stores, there are long white boxes of comics from storylines that are a couple of years old. Since I’m in my Star Wars May plan, I was only looking for Star Wars comics. As I picked through the Star Wars comics, I found a complete series of Star Wars: Poe Dameron in single issues! I was so happy! I am missing a few issues, but for the most part, it’s the complete series. I’m looking forward to reading this series this month.

Free Comic Book Day was a success! I have a huge stack of Star Wars comics to dig into and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Let me know what you picked up at Free Comic Book Day in the comments section below.

May the 4th Be With You – 2022 Plan

May the 4th be with you! May the 4th has a special place in my heart because I’m a big Star Wars fan and I look forward to this month every year. Every May, I dedicate the whole month to Star Wars. I wanted to share my official plan for this year as far as the books I want to read, the shows I want to watch, and the video games I want to play.

Books and Comics

I have three books on my list to read for the month of May. The first book is Master & Apprentice by Claudia Gray. This book highlights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan before the events of The Phantom Menace. I have a soft spot for the prequels, so I like that more of the Canon Star Wars books are taking place during this era. The second book on my list is Leia, Princess of Alderaan (Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi) by Claudia Gray. This book focuses on Leia as a sixteen-year-old girl who starts to begin her dive into the fight against the Empire. The final book on my list is Resistance Reborn: Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rebecca Roanhorse. This book focuses on Rey, Finn, and Poe before the events of the final movie in the trilogy. This book has mixed reviews, so I’m going into reading this book with a mindset of wanting a fun adventure between the trio versus this being the best book I have ever read.

As far as comics, I have three graphic novels on my list: Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol #1, Star Wars: The High Republic Volume #1, and Princess Leia Volume #1. I have a few comic book store trips planned this month, so I may pick up Star Wars comics as I see fit.

Movies & TV

My number one priority is to finish Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I typically only watch the show during May, but we shall see if this is the year where I finally finish it! Besides The Clone Wars, I do want to do a re-watch of The Mandalorian. There’s also The Book of Boba Fett and Bad Batch. My focus this month will be on the Star Wars TV side of things, however, I would consider doing a re-watch of Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. I did a move re-watch a few years ago, and I don’t think I made it through those three. I know for a fact that I haven’t watched The Rise of Skywalker since I saw it in theaters, so I may add that to my list. There’s so much content and such limited time to watch it all.

Gaming

This should come as no surprise since I wrote about this recently, but I’m still going through LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. I’m at the end of episode III right now. My goal would be to complete all episodes by the end of the month, but that seems like a huge task. I do have Jedi Fallen Order on my list to play as well, however, I don’t think I will have time to complete both games.

May the 4th be with you and don’t forget that May 5th is “Revenge of the Fifth”!

Batman, Manhattan Projects, Plume – Graphic Novel Review Roundup

I have been in a reading slump when it comes to books, however, I have been reading a lot of comics and graphic novels. I’m not sure why that is. April is one of the months where I don’t designate what I plan on reading, so I find I tend to slip when it comes to reading regularly. Comics and graphic novels are easy because it has become a Saturday morning routine where I drink my coffee and read comics. I wanted to do a graphic novel roundup and write short reviews on the most recent graphic novels I finished reading: Plume, Batman: Year One, and Manhattan Projects Vol. #3

Plume Volume #1 by K. Lynn Smith

Plume originally started as a webcomic series by K. Lynn Smith. With the success of Plume, K. Lynn turned the series into published physical graphic novels. Plume follows Vesper Grey, an ambitious woman who looks up to her archeologist father. Vesper has a life-threatening accident and is saved by a golden man who popped out of the necklace Vesper wears around her neck. Corrick is imprisoned in the necklace bound to protect anyone who wears it. Vesper’s father invites Vesper and Corrick on an adventure where things go awry. Vesper and Corrick have to learn to work together to survive out in the Wild West.

I like the friendship between Vesper and Corrick. I hope Vesper finds a way to free Corrick from the necklace. The first volume has a lot of buildups which can be a bit lackluster to read. However, I think there’s enough story where I’m intrigued to keep reading the series. This series combines Fantasy with the Wild West. I rated Plume four stars on Goodreads.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Richmond Lewis, Todd Klein, and Dennis O’Neil

Matt Reeves, the director of The Batman, cited Batman: Year One as inspiration for the film. I had Batman: Year One on my graphic novel TBR for way too long, so this was the perfect excuse to finally read it.

Bruce Wayne comes back to Gotham after a twelve-year hiatus. Bruce knows he’s going to avenge Gotham as it’s grown into a grittier city. Harvey Dent is still an attorney, Jim Gordon just got a job at the GCPD, and corruption is at an all-time high. This feels like an origin story for Batman, but also for other notable figures in Gotham.

I liked how this isn’t an origin story, but more of a story showing Bruce Wayne/Batman’s inexperience. In this novel, Bruce is seen injured and close to being caught while he’s Batman. Besides Batman, Jim Gordon is shown how he stood up to corrupt cops and how Jim is a flawed human being even though he doesn’t take money from mobsters. Selina is just starting out and has her first run-in with Batman. Reading through this graphic novel was like re-watching The Batman. I rated Batman: Year One 4.5 stars on Goodreads.

Manhattan Projects Volume #3 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

Manhattan Projects is a series by Hickman and Pitarra which serve as a re-telling of the Manhattan Projects. Instead of being 100% historically accurate, there are science fiction elements thrown throughout each volume. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was an A.I, Harry S Truman led up a cult, and Werner Von Braun has a rocket gun as an arm.

I like how Manhattan Projects are based on real events. For example, Harry Daghlian was a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Projects and was unfortunately killed in an accident. In this series, he’s reimagined as someone who is still alive except his brain is enclosed in a spacesuit full of radioactivity.

The only downside to the Manhattan Projects is how convoluted the story gets. It seems like there are so many side plots to keep track of. It probably doesn’t help that I go two years in between I read each volume. I rated Manhattan Projects volume #3 three stars on Goodreads.

Let me know what comics or graphic novels you have read lately in the comments section down below!

My Road Trip Book Haul

My favorite souvenirs I buy on vacation are postcards and books. Postcards are inexpensive and I like to tape them into my travel journal. It reminds me of the trip and the places I visited. Besides postcards, I like to buy books. This could be at a local bookstore in the area or at a museum. During my road trip, I bought a few books, so I wanted to share what I bought.

The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

The Mothman Prophecies is a non-fiction book in which author John Keel investigates strange sightings. In 1966 and 1967, there were apparent sightings of a winged creature nicknamed Mothman. Keel writes about various supernatural theories and phenomena as to what could have contributed to the sightings.

I knew Mothman existed, but I didn’t know much else. I’m looking forward to reading this as I think supernatural sightings are fascinating to me.

March Volume #1 by John Lewis

March by John Lewis is a graphic novel re-telling of U.S. Congressman John Lewis’s story of participating in the Civil Rights movement.

I’m happy to see more non-fiction graphic novels being published. It’s a great medium for those who aren’t big readers or are intimidated by longer books.

Last Call by Daniel O’Krent

Last Call is a non-fiction book detailing the Prohibition era in the US. Prohibition lasted from 1920-1933 before being repealed. Is it sad to say that I didn’t realize Prohibition lasted so long? My US history is a bit rusty, and I truly thought that it was only a year or two. Prohibition led to unintended consequences and reminds me of the 2000s “War on Drugs”

Clearly, my knowledge of Prohibition isn’t high, so I’m excited to learn more about this time in history.

I’m growing more fond of reading non-fiction. I’m not sure when I will get around to tackling my growing non-fiction TBR. I’m thinking that sometime this summer, I will start fitting these books into my reading schedule.

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Crosby

CW: violence against LGBTQIA+ folks, graphic violence, mistreatment of women

While on vacation, I make it a point to finish at least one book. I’m the type of person on vacation who I enjoy downtime. If a vacation feels jam-packed, I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. The book I chose to read was Razorblade Tears by S.A. Crosby. I heard about Razorblade Tears as it was one of the books included in the Book of the Month book box. While I’m glad I read Razorblade Tears, I’m having a hard time giving this book a rating.

Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee Jenkins are grieving. Their sons, Isiah and Derek were brutally murdered. The police don’t seem to care or in Ike and Buddy Lee’s eyes, they aren’t doing enough. Ike and Buddy Lee want to redeem themselves since they didn’t accept Isiah and Derek’s relationship and marriage. Their quest leads to corruption and a big reveal of irony in the South.

Razorblade Tears is a tough book to read in part because Ike and Buddy Lee are homophobic and this book centers around their journey for revenge and acceptance. It’s difficult to see this through their eyes. While Ike and Buddy Lee are born and raised in the South, I find it difficult that they couldn’t look past their bias and accept their sons. I didn’t realize Ike and Buddy Lee would be as homophobic as this book points out, I went into this thinking that Ike and Buddy Lee had relationships with their sons when clearly that wasn’t the case.

Despite the emotionally heavy content of the book, I do think there are a lot of interesting conversations that occur. Buddy Lee is a poor white man who lives in a beat-up trailer. He often makes comments to Ike about how he wishes he could trade places with him. Ike is a working-class black man who points out to Buddy Lee that he is able to exist in the world differently because of the color of his skin. It’s a pull of race and class privilege and how this can impact relationships or political opinions.

Per the content warning, there is a lot of graphic violence. As mentioned, this book is centered around Isiah and Derek’s deaths. In my opinion, I think the author went into WAY too much detail about their deaths. I don’t see why that was needed. Women are also mistreated by several male characters.

This was an emotionally heavy book to read. I would heed the content warnings as this book is tough to get through. I’m going to leave this book unrated which is a first for me. I’m glad I took the time to read this and I feel for all the people who don’t have family who accepts them for who they are.

Vigilante & Birds of Prey – Vintage Comics Review

At my local comic book store, I have started perusing through the white long boxes where older comics are kept. The issues can vary from comic runs from last year or ten years ago. I wanted to poke around and see if I could find anything interesting. As it turns out, I did find a few issues that were worth purchasing. I wanted to share what I found.

Vigilante #1 – 2009 Marv Wolfman, Rick Leonardi, and John Stanisci

I became a fan of Vigilante partly due to the Peacemaker TV series. In the show, Vigilante is played by Freddie Stroma, and he portrays Vigilante as being a psychopath with an extremely dark sense of humor. In the comic, Vigilante gives off a Red Hood (aka. Jason Todd/2nd Robin) vibe to me. Vigilante is investigating a few murders with mob connections and ends up being purposefully captured by police, so he can brutally interview prisoners. This was an entertaining issue, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the complete series, so it serves as more of a collectible than a story.

Birds of Prey Manhunt #1 – #4 – 1996 Chuck Dixon, Matt Haley, and Wade Von Grawbadger

Birds of Prey is one of my favorite superhero teams. Led by Oracle (Barbara Gordon, paralyzed by the Joker) she works with Black Canary as they challenge the crime syndicate. In this run, Huntress and Catwoman get involved much to Oracle’s chagrin. It’s interesting how comics have evolved since 1996. There were certain images of the female characters where I thought “a man definitely drew this.” An example is Black Canary and she’s standing in a really awkward position, but her hip is out, so it shows off her body at a better angle. This didn’t take away from the enjoyment of reading Birds of Prey, it made me laugh and realize how in some ways, comics have become more evolved. I’m happy that I found this complete series.

I have had good luck with searching through vintage issues that I plan on doing this every time I stop by my local comic book store. It’s relaxing to simply sift through comics and I never know what I’m going to find.