10 Unanswered Questions in The Sandman

October 30, 2013 at 6:25 pm (Articles / Interviews) (, , , )

Warning: a fair bit of gushing and spoilers about the Sandman.

In The Sandman, one will find plenty more questions than answers. Like Cain once told Abel – it’s the mystery that keeps people interested, not the secret behind it.

Outside of the series’ original 75-issue run however, writer Neil Gaiman has taken the opportunity to reveal just a few of the secrets behind the mysteries.  If you want to know why Dream is always in conflict with Desire (besides the fact that they’re both douchey to each other), you’ll find out in The Heart of a Star, published as part of the Sandman 10th Anniversary special Endless Nights, that Desire once caused one of Dream’s lovers to betray him. If you want to know why Death decided to take human form once every hundred years, you’d have to read A Winter’s Tale, originally published as part of Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #2.

The Sandman: Overture, which marks Gaiman’s first new Sandman story in a looong while (and the first Sandman story to be drawn by the awesome HG Williams III), will be answering a question that was never overtly stated, but has sort of floated discreetly behind the ongoing action.

In the start of the series, Dream of the Endless was captured by humans and imprisoned. But Dream, being of the Endless, is mightier than gods and demons. So how the hell does he find himself encased in a glass globe?

In Brief Lives, we get the only clue as to why – Dream is shown to have emerged from a far away galaxy, “in triumph”, but “tired beyond reckoning and tried beyond all endurance” – weak enough to then be caught by a bunch of human cultists. Which begs the question, what in the Vertigo universe can possibly weaken a member of the Endless?

The first of The Sandman: Overture’s six issues is already out.

Before reading it, here are just a few of the other Sandman questions that have remained unanswered. Read the rest of this entry »

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Suikoden Day 2013: The 5 things I want to see in Suikoden VI

July 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm (Awesome, Nostalgia) (, , )

Today is Suikoden Day 2013. Seems like it was only yesterday that the Suikoden fandom was celebrating the first and second Suik days online, with much cheer and fangasming. This year, devotees are invited to talk about what exactly they’d like to see if the Suikoden series (long frozen at the fifth instalment, although with a few spin-offs over the last couple of years) were to shake off its inertia and go on to a sixth Suikoden.

In reality, there has been very little to suggest that Konami has Suikoden VI on its slate (at least not for the foreseeable future), but the fans are a-clamoring, and Konami hasn’t totally been overlooking them. So here are the top five things I’d like to see in Suikoden VI.

suikoden logo

1. Lots of 2D animation

Suikoden lends itself wonderfully to anime-style sequences – just think of Suikogaiden Vols. 1 and 2, or the opening of Suikoden III. In a perfect world, where things like budget and manpower constraints don’t exist, I’d imagine all of Suikoden VI would look like an anime, except one that you can play (think the in-game graphics of Guilty Gear, but somehow, impossibly, translated into an RPG).

Not only does this give the game a sharp visual style, and an immediate appeal to the anime crowd, but it further blurs the line between playing a game and telling a story – something Suikoden has always been good at.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Meet Joe Dredd

March 30, 2013 at 7:30 pm (Articles / Interviews) (, , )

I previously knew Judge Joe Dredd primarily as ‘the guy with the helmet and gaudy shoulder pads’, who was associated with British comics and general bad-assery. Never saw the Stallone movie, but I thought the Karl Urban one was great. I knew he was The Law, and had a tendency to get violent, and that a large chunk of his continuing appeal was that he operated in the endless dystopian sprawl of Mega-City One, a setting which practically writes its own stories. And, that was all I knew.

It was with that limited knowledge that I dove into the ‘Mega-City Masters 1’ collection, which pulls together a slew of Dredd stories from 1983 to 2010. The book focuses on showcasing the various artists who have worked on Dredd over the years, like Dave Gibbons (‘Watchmen’) and Kevin O’Neill (‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’), but it also provides a snapshot of how Dredd’s evolved over the years. Read the rest of this entry »

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Facing down writer’s block

November 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm (Articles / Interviews) (, , , )

Every now and then, I encounter that thing called ‘writer’s block’, except it’s less of a ‘block’ and more of an ‘insurmountable George R.R. Martin-esque Wall’.

The Wall

When this happens, I tend to look for Uncle Iroh-type people who can give me an idea of how to surmount the Wall of Writer’s Blockery (because left to myself, I would probably just knock my head against it until I bleed to death). Sometimes I’m lucky to actually have people to talk to – older and wiser writers who know their shit and are generous with advice. But mostly they’re not around, so I settle for looking for Uncle Iroh advice online.

For instance, if you pop over to Neil Gaiman’s tumblr, you’ll find people asking him any of a thousand variations of ‘what do I do when I’ve got this story I’ve been carrying since childhood and I really want to be an awesome writer like you please tell me what I should do.’ Gaiman’s answer is always along the lines of ‘just write.’ He tells people to put one word after the other til they’ve gone right up story mountain. And this is true. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Love Never Dies experience for a Phantom of the Opera fan (Part 1 of 2: Lyrics and stuff)

August 18, 2012 at 12:47 am (Articles / Interviews) (, , , , )

Warning: Here there be spoilers, strong language, and assumption of familiarity with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Phantom of the Opera.

Anyone with even the slightest interest in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera must have heard of its sequel, Love Never Dies, and the fandom clusterfuck that came upon its premiere back in 2010.

Certain fans questioned why the musical, which has been running since 1986, and has since spawned generations of people unhealthily obsessed with the titular character, even needed a sequel – especially when that sequel involves said character moving to Coney Island and finding he’s fathered a child with the woman the previous musical established he’d never end up with (not because he’s ugly, mind, but because he’s crazy).

I give that description with a goodly amount of affection, as I happen to be one of those people unhealthily obsessed with the titular character. It would have been easy to jump on the sequel hate bandwagon – more so when I found out Love Never Dies would be taking cues from the 1999 novel Phantom of Manhattan, which I really didn’t like. But I decided to withhold judgement until I actually saw it. Besides, it had this awesome poster:

love never dies Read the rest of this entry »

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James Jean: One-man art army

July 10, 2012 at 4:00 am (Articles / Interviews) (, , , , )

James Jean unedited interview/feature for Contemporary Art Philippines. Interview was conducted in January 2012, during Jean’s visit to Manila.

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James Jean in Manila

James Jean is tired after four full hours of signing for fans at Fully Booked, High Street, in the last leg of what has been a three-day marathon of giving talks and meeting with the country’s art and pop culture aficionados.

He admits that meeting such enthusiastic devotees of his work is “great for the self-esteem.”

“I think as an artist I tend to be very self-critical,” he says. “Working alone in the studio, your personal demons can tend to drive you a little crazy, so it’s nice to be injected back into society.”

The Filipino artistic society in particular, has embraced Jean so well that this is the second time he’s been invited to the country as a special guest of Fully Booked. But while Jean says it’s great to be back, the fan love he receives has taken its toll. Read the rest of this entry »

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Random book things: Unemployment reading (Part 2 of 2)

July 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm (Articles / Interviews) (, , , , , )

I’ve been unemployed for about a month, and I’ve been using it for reading. The list started here (with Jose Saramago’s ‘Blindness’, Myke Cole’s ‘Shadow Ops: Control Point’ and Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’) and continues here. Warning, mild spoilers for everything.

Feed (Mira Grant)


This one’s a zombie novel that’s really more about the paranoia of human beings and the freedom of media (but there are also zombies). It takes place a few years after the zombie apocalypse foretold in pop culture, so the surviving population is remarkably genre-savvy (ie. Nobody leaves home without a gun, people don’t congregate in big crowds, and anyone found to be infected is killed without question). Read the rest of this entry »

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Random book things: Unemployment reading (Part 1 of 2)

June 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm (Articles / Interviews) (, , )

I recently rejoined the world of the unemployed. On one hand this means constant, visceral anxiety over having no job, and constant, visceral anxiety over the idea of getting a job in the near future (to illustrate the feeling, here’s a Subnormality comic). On the other hand, it means plenty of time for reading.

When you have a dayjob, you just generally assign yourself a little window of reading time before sleeping if you want to get any reading done at all. Unemployment reading is the kind of reading where you eat the book without fear of being too sapped to meet deadlines the next day. You watch the pages fly by, tell yourself to take a break so you can eat and sleep and bathe, realize you don’t have to have such a high standard of bodily maintenance because you have no pressing need to leave the house anyway, and go back to reading.

Here’s what’s been giving me joy over the last month (warning, mild spoilers for everything):

Blindness (Jose Saramago)


Everyone in a (city? Country? The world?) goes blind, except for one woman who has both the advantage and burden of witnessing the ugly of the human race. Read the rest of this entry »

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Whenever I see Sendai in the news

March 11, 2012 at 8:32 am (Articles / Interviews) (, , )

Whenever I see Sendai in the news, I’m automatically brought back to seven years ago. I had just graduated from high school, but as a sort of last hurrah I was allowed to join a contingent of exchange students to Japan. Our school had a sister school in Sendai, and we were to be paired up with students from there. We’d have a week to live with them and their families – it’s since turned out to be the longest week of my life, for all the best reasons.

Don't overlook Sendai

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Shades of Gray (or Things I Learned About Life from a ’90s PlayStation Game)

February 15, 2012 at 9:09 am (Articles / Interviews) (, , , , , )

This was my submission for Suikoden Day 2011‘s Old Book (ie. essay writing) contest – 500-ish words on why I love Suikoden. There were some awesome prizes up for first and second place. I got third. Ah well. There’ll be another chance in Suikoden Day 2012 (huzzah!).

Also check out my other contribution to Suikoden Day 2011 – a bit of pictorial ramblage concerning Suikoden and alcohol.

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suikoden 2

12-year-old me played Suikoden II on the recommendation of a school friend, who said it was “nice.” I assumed I’d be entertained. But Suikoden II did significantly more than that – it taught me about stories. Read the rest of this entry »

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