Soul Death On The Installment Plan : Sam Grinberg’s “On A Hot Summer Night I Like To Eat My Favorite Cartoon Characters”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ve always been of a mind that the minute you find yourself inhabiting a suburban street — or, even worse, a cul-de-sac — the clock is ticking against you. A kind of apathy-by-osmosis begins to infect your being, slowly rotting you to the core, to the point where “ideas” such as “you don’t have anything to fear from the police if you haven’t done anything wrong” and “higher taxes on the rich are harmful to the economy” start to sound reasonable. I’m not sure if it’s something in the air, something in the (usually well) water, or something in the Muzak that gets pumped through the speakers in the park pavilions, but the suburbs fucking kill you — and they take their sweet time doing it.

Nobody gets this better than suburban youth, who by and large can’t wait to turn 18 and get the fuck out of Dodge…

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Another Welcome “Cash Grab”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

The tenth and most recent issue of Aaron Lange’s CashGrab — his ‘zine of art, miscellany, and art miscellany published by Vancouver’s The Comix Company — feels like it’s been a long time coming because, hey, it actually has been : indeed, the year-plus interregnum between installments is uncharacteristic for this prolific cartoonist and illustrator. Of course, for any number of others this would be considered working at a pretty brisk clip, which puts Lange at something of a disadvantage in that he’s stuck answering “what’s taking you so long?”-type questions while many of his contemporaries are accustomed to hearing “take your time,” but in case anybody hasn’t noticed there’s been this pesky pandemic going on, and everybody’s lives are out of whack. The fast have become slow, the slow have become fast, and the readers of both have become frustratingly anxious.

For my own part, self-styled “cool…

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Putting The “True” And “Crime” In True Crime : Cathy Hannah’s “The Lonely Grave Of Bobby Franks”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Let’s not kid ourselves : while the poor get locked up for penny-ante crimes like selling pot or smoking crack, the rich quite literally get away with murder on a massive scale. Whether it’s laying off thousands from their jobs with the stroke of a pen, or sending our young men and women in uniform off to die to protect their profit margins, the well-to-do are awash in river of blood, both economic and biological, for which they will never be called to account.

Still, every once in a blue moon, when their callousness and psychopathy leave the realm of the abstract and enter that of the personal, the results are too sickening for even their bought-off courts to ignore. Such was the case with Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb, two spoiled scions of privilege who, in 1924, kidnapped and murdered their 14-year-old neighbor, Bobby Franks, simply because

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Preview : “American Cult”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

This isn’t my usual custom, but since I collaborated with Mike Freiheit on the story “Walk A Mile In My Shoes : A Jonestown History” (I wrote it, he drew it) in editor Robyn Chapman’s new Silver Sprocket-published anthology American Cult, I thought I’d shamelessly plug it here and, of course, encourage all of you to order it. I’ll have more to say about it on my Patreon in fairly short order, I would guess, but for now I’ll regale you all with some sample art pages from the book and the publisher’s official promotional text. I’ll resume regular programming (that being reviews, naturally) with my next post, I promise, but hey, this is the first comic I’ve been a part of as a creator, so I hope you don’t mind indulging me a bit — and I also hope you’ll consider supporting this very worthy project.

A graphic…

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Angelina Jolie and Taylor Sheridan team up in the Those Who Wish Me Dead trailer

When it comes to writing, anyone who’s watched either Sicario, Hell or High Water or Yellowstone know that Taylor Sheridan’s a force to be reckoned with. The Sons of Anarchy alum has a pretty good track record. With his latest, Those Who Wish Me Dead, he’s also working in the Director’s chair, his first film since 2017’s Wind River.

Whether it’s onscreen or through activism, Academy Award Winner Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted , Maleficent) always maintains a powerful presence. Jolie’s performance mixed with Sheridan’s script should prove to be really interesting. Based on Michael Koryta’s book, Jolie plays a forest firefighter who finds herself protecting a small child on the run. The film also stars Nicholas Hoult (The Favourite), Jon Bernthal (The Accountant), Tyler Perry (Gone Girl), Aiden Gillen (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) and Finn Little (Angel of Mine).

Those Who Wish Me Dead is part of the WB’s Same Day Premieres, meaning that HBO Max subscribers can watch the film when it’s released on May 14, or in theatres.

Eurocomics Spotlight : Tiago Manuel’s “Mishima : Manifesto De Laminas”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

However you slice it — sorry, bad choice of words — they don’t make ’em like Yukio Mishima anymore : the epitome of the “warrior-poet” mystique made flesh and taken to its natural conclusions, his death by his own hand the only fitting capstone to a life that basically demanded nothing less for its final act, to this day he remains a revered figure in as many disparate milieus as he travelled in himself, from far-right nationalist revolutionary cells to the more extreme quarters of the queer BDSM underground. A mass of fascinating contradictions that could never be resolved, we can only really know him, perhaps, through his work, despite the best attempts of everyone from filmmaker Paul Schrader to Death In June’s Douglas P. to illuminate the enigma that was his life and art in their own art.

To that list add the name of Portuguese cartoonist/fine artist Tiago…

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In Defense Of Traditional Comics : Jack Turnbull’s “The Wash-A-Shores”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ll be the first to admit that, around these parts, I tend to let my biases as a reader show, and that they inform (or maybe that shout be infect?) my biases as a critic. Stuff that can generally be described as “avant-garde,” or as “art comics,” or at the very least as “non-traditional” tends to be what I prefer to spend my time with and on, and I also give extra consideration to work that I haven’t seen reviewed anywhere else. Whether this is good or bad I leave up to each reader of this blog to decide for themselves, but I’d be lying if I said every single comic that I either purchase or receive is given absolutely equal consideration when it comes to deciding whether or not I want to take the time to review it.

And yet — there’s certainly nothing wrong with good…

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Ghosts of War

(Dir Eric Bress)

Review by Case Wright

What makes you you? Better yet, what’s the meaning of life? Lucky for you, I know the answer to both of these questions. You are your experiences. That’s it. The meaning of life is choice. You are a sum of your experiences and choices. Life is a series of choices from the lowliest earth worm going into soil or the sun to a person deciding to risk their life to save themselves or their own skin. Sorry, the meaning of life isn’t more exciting, but that’s it just the same. Choice after choice after choice is what life is and what makes you you are the results of those choices. You may now go about your business.

Ghosts of War was written and directed by Eric Bress for Netflix. I am very grateful to Eric Bress because without him we wouldn’t have Final Destination 2 or The Final Destination and that is a sad life indeed. FD2 is Super Awesome: there’s people sliced in half and trees that take your head off and death itself is really into Rube Goldberg machinations of killing you. Death is kinda bored and goes a little nutty.

Ghosts of War was a lot of fun. The ending was hard to watch, but not because it was poorly done; it was just pretty realistic. Also, GOW has Billy Zane that alone should make you watch it. I also liked that the film had both Brenton Thwaites and Alan Ritchson of Titans (See it on HBO Max), which is Breaking Bad levels of awesome! Yeah, I said it.

GOW centers around a WWII era platoon assigned to protect a house in France. When they arrive, they realize that the house quite haunted. Bress solves the why not leave the haunted house question by putting them into a loop, wherein, no matter where they travel, they are back at the haunted house.

There are some good scares and not just jump scares. It has the gross stuff that you loved in Final Destination 2, which must be a Bress signature. There’s at least three people who are immolated in this movie. If you miss the gore of Supernatural, this movie is for you!

Brenton and Alan both have some real stand out performances and make me want to re-watch Titans again because of it. Brenton and Alan play frustration, fear, and rage better than anyone I’ve ever seen.

On a personal level, I’m always watching how well people play Soldiers. This movie is VERY realistic. The characters talk like us, think like us, handle stress like us, and move like we really do. I could understand why and what they were doing at all times. It was amazingly accurate. I was very impressed and would recommend the movie just for its realistic portrayal of Soldiers. This movie accurately showed how Soldiers would react to a supernatural enemy. This doesn’t just happen. It was clear to me that the actors and director took care to do this correctly. It is appreciated.

The ending was a good twist and there were clever subtle clues along the way to lead you to solving the mystery. I would highly recommend this movie and hope to see Brenton and Alan work with this director again.

The Last COVID Update

I decided to repost, but with some order. The last update will be at the end. It’s weird to have it at the end because it’s not quite done. For those of you who don’t think this disease was created, ask yourselves this: Isn’t this on brand for Communist China? Also, I get that many of you loathed Trump, but just because he said something, doesn’t make it false. If he said John Wayne Gacey was a serial killer, you wouldn’t have John be the Clown at your birthday party just to spite him, would you? Some of you might feel of two minds about mask wearing- that’s fine. I don’t judge that, but this guy didn’t even cover his mouth when he sneezed. Let’s all agree that’s nasty and move on. Safe to say that my prior entries were more sanguine than they should have been, but I just couldn’t imagine being beaten by anything. Start from the First entry or skip to the end, I won’t judge. Just kidding, of course I’ll judge; I love to judge.

First Entry – Don’t say your plans out loud.

For those of you who follow my Twitter unmuted, you know that I got COVID-19 at the beginning of this year. I was visiting my mother and an unmasked man entered the small gym and started sneezing everywhere. At one point, I could see the the sneeze mist and there was nowhere to go. Words were exchanged and a few days later I was notified he was positive and then I found out I was positive. Mine was a “mild case,” but I will describe it for you here …. right now.

Post-exposure, I went from my normal amazing, handsome self to a handsome, tired self. I just felt rundown. Then, like a speaker blew out, my sense of smell and taste were gone. Within hours, my fever went to 103, but I felt cold from the inside. It was as though dry ice was put inside of me. I was wearing long johns, a winter coat, and under 8 blankets and my teeth were still chattering.

It was as though dry ice was put inside of me.

When my fever would break, I would be drenched in sweat like I had just played in my High School homecoming game. I don’t know if I tweeted then or what I said out loud; so, if we got engaged, it will be awkwaaaaaard.

Highly Accurate Dramatization:

There were lucid moments and I could feel my lungs being attacked, chest tightening, head searing with spiderweb-like migraines, and my joints felt like they were trying to see the light of day. I kept thinking nature had help; of course, when I wasn’t having explosive diarrhea or a dry cough that would barely let in air, I would loudly curse the commie scum that brought this plague upon us and then more diarrhea. COVID is very diarrhea forward.

Sidenote: The contact tracers were all over me like a Men’s Warehouse suit from Jumpstreet. When the symptoms ended, they gave me my release from quarantine date.

For the last month, I have been dealing with Post-COVID symptoms and they suuuuuuck. In many ways, COVID is like two illnesses: your first active symptoms and then the chronic Post-COVID symptoms. I got chills, had cognitive issues, and had to pause my GI Bill. There was just no way to study complex math and physics while dealing with Post-COVID. In fact, I’ve had to review math concepts that were rote for me. COVID breaks the blood brain barrier and causes a form of Encephalitis, messing your memory and cognition- some cases are severe and it causes a form of MS. In a way, COVID squished some my memories out of my mind and I’ll never know which ones.

On a positive side, I am getting a bit of my sense of taste back and was able to taste my favorite treat today: Black Licorice. Yep, that’s my favorite – on purpose!

I anticipate recovering fully in another 6 weeks. Cheers!

Second Entry – The Long Haul

I recently went to the VA and was diagnosed with both Severe COVID and Severe Post-COVID. I was correct that I had developed a form of encephalitis, explaining my memory lapses, depression, fatigue, and executive functioning difficulties. The Doctor had a tough-determined-cowboy attitude- He had seen COVID cases from the ER to the ICU for 14 months straight; I liked him immediately. There was light admonishment that I did not go to the VA earlier; apparently, I should’ve been in the ICU during my worst symptoms.

He is confident that my respiratory issues are treatable, but my cognitive issues are anyone’s guess with severe Post-COVID. It could even be permanent with all of the lifelong flare-ups. What got to me the most was when I saw one of my old math tests that I got 100% on and I couldn’t remember taking it or how to do the problems. I’m not sure what other memories are gone. It’s like being born blind; I don’t know what I missed. I was able to understand the concepts after a lengthy review, but that took longer for me than before. The Doc described that the action of the maskless-man who sneezed on me as an “Assault”. I agreed. It has been continually difficult to forgive this man who did this to me, but I have to do it. To move on, I re-read all of my old posts for this site and it was like it was the first time that I read them. My review of me: I’m pretty good at this and I would describe Case Wright’s prose as charmingly sardonic with an obvious manliness. I’d recommend him.

Yes, I refuse to lose my sense of humor. It reminds me of a decorated Marine I met who was at Iwo. He had terminal cancer and described himself as a participant in his cancer. I am a participant in my COVID and I do not believe it is leaving anytime soon. It will be with me for a long time and I will continue to live my life. There are obvious challenges now. In the near term, I will find out if my COVID did permanent damage to my heart and lungs. Of course, if I’m correct that there is damage, this will mean a diminished lifespan, but it couldn’t be any worse than the damage I was doing when I was trying to pay the daily light bills at Makers Mark. My hope is that my memories will return. I don’t mind a shorter life, but I want to get back what I lived through and achieved.

Last Entry – Unfinished Business

I was laying in bed with the seventh excruciating chest pain of the day. The pain radiated down my left-arm to my fingertips. The next chest pain hit and I told God, if you’re gonna do it, do it, but I have unfinished business. I was trying to watch math videos without having tears in my eyes because my daughter’s were scared enough for a lifetime. Then, my girls and I watched this:

The next chest pain hit and I told God, if you’re gonna do it, do it, but I have unfinished business.

I had been scheduled for the vaccine and had it, but the improvements were wearing off. My shortness of breath and memory issues were replaced by something much worse: chest pain. Everyday a larger and larger invisible person was sitting on my chest, squishing the pain down my arm until it felt like it would burst.

I hadn’t been able to study math at my kitchen table for days and had become completely bedridden. I started calling old friends where there was a falling out. Judaism calls it atonement, but I just wanted to forgive my trespasses and those who trespassed against me. I just didn’t know. The VA sent me a Living Will. But, I wasn’t done yet. I forced myself to move a little each day. I had a lot of time to read about my disease. I learned a lot, more than most docs.

The VA agreed that my only remedy was to continue slowly ramping up physical therapy for my heart. Slow, just slow. I used my Fitbit to monitor my heart and keep it from going above 140. Ten minutes on the elliptical….then slow and break. If my heart started hurting, I would sit on the machine. My life has changed so much in the last 3+ months. The crazy thing was that I was still ripped from years of working out. I’d be the only dead guy from a Myocardial Infarction with abs and arm divots.

The crazy thing was that I was still ripped from years of working out. I’d be the only dead guy from a Myocardial Infarction with abs and arm divots.
Arm Divots

I’m not saying I’m The Rock, but I’m in as good a shape as a man my age can be and yet my heart ached like a Marlboro pack a day man and McDonald’s Addict. I knew things reached their nadir when I dreamt that I was in 1990s in Germany. I was working on Free Body Diagrams and I was conversing in German. Everything was so real. I had a different name and face, but still me. I was 21 with curly hair. The girl next to me was named Kat and she told me that we were going to have a baby. It was too real. I genuinely believe that I tuned into another Case and in another time and place. I think when we die, we just shift. Somehow, I tuned into another frequency that I wasn’t supposed to know. When I woke, it took me 3 hours to realize where I was. Everyday, I just kept going.

Some things have improved, but the chest pains return and will likely remain. I keep going. The long haul doesn’t have a lot of great endings, but I’ve made it this far. The VA is honest that there’s very little that can be done. I’m in the realm of 17th century medicine and on my own. I’m pretty sure that many haven’t made it this far that have my COVID varietal, but all I can do is keep going, until there’s no more road to walk. I don’t think the Circle will be broken; I have unfinished business.

“Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher” #1 : With Friends Like These —

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Somewhere in the overgrown fields of soul-dead suburbia, your typical delinquent young teenage boy has made a new friend — but is his new friend only out for blood? And would that question lead you to assume said new friend is probably a vampire?

Spoiler alert : he’s actually a mutant quasi-anthropomorphic fuzzy mosquito (or something), so his lust for the red stuff is just as natural as breathing is to you or me. But maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse by pondering the (somewhat) philosophical questions at the heart of writer Thomas Stemrich and artist Patrick Keck’s new full-sized (and, for the record, self-published) comic ‘zine Crusher Loves Bleeder Bleeder Loves Crusher #1 prior to considering the work on its technical merits? I guess we are.

I’ve reviewed Keck’s work in the past, most recently his years-in-the-making solo graphic novel Peepers over at Solrad, and to…

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