Writing takes a lot of time, especially when you’re trying to say something in a way that a million other people haven’t already said. Add a normal day job to that, on top of Unpredictable Life Stuff, and it becomes that much harder to get yourself in the proper mindset. I only mention this because the thing I meant to post earlier this week is going to take a bit longer than I thought, so I’m working on trimming and refocusing it down to a more manageable length. Still, I’d like to finish writing something in the meantime, if only to keep myself from stalling out completely.
On that note, I’m gonna try something a little different here and take a look at a couple movies I saw over the summer, roughly April to August 2018. Just to keep things moving and avoid rambling on, I’m gonna put an handicap on myself and try to keep it to a hundred words or less. Admittedly this is more of a writing exercise to try and consolidate my thoughts rather than actual proper reviews; it would be more accurate to call them impressions or observations, so take that as you will. With all that out of the way, here are a few thoughts on a bunch of movies I saw this summer.
Isn’t it interesting how old forgotten things from our past find their way back into our lives? A crumpled up dollar bill you find in your pants pocket; a box of toys you stumble across during spring cleaning; running into an old friend from your high school days at the grocery store. They must have had some value to us once, some presumably more than others, but then for one reason or another we simply stopped thinking about them until one day, out of the blue, they sneak up on us. Moments like that make me wonder why those things were so important to me in the first place and, if they were, what does it say about me that I could forget them so easily?
Welcome to the inaugural edition of what I’m tentatively calling Just Add Comics, where I hope to shine a light on stories from other forms of media — movies, TV, web series, books, etc. — that have been adapted, for whatever reason, into comic books. I don’t really have a set format established for this yet, but for now I’m going to start by providing a brief summary of the source material, talk about some of the talent behind it, and then get into the comic itself. The story I want to talk about today is by acclaimed fantasy writer, Neil Gaiman, with a title that recognizes a timeless problem that has plagued so many awkward teenagers:
I love reading comic books, but if I’m being completely honest with you — and I like to think we’ve reached that point by now — some days it’s harder for me to really decompress from all my other drama and just enjoy a good story. There have been a few points over the years where I’ve become so obsessed with pursuing the next big crossover or Kickstarter campaign or redesigned hardcover edition that I forget to actually read the books I’m buying. Inevitably, those are the moments when I hit “burnout”; when I can no longer distinguish the books that are actually good from the ones I’ve bought simply out of habit, and so I give up on all of them entirely.
Usually it’s a couple weeks before I’m finally cognizant enough to step back and realize what I’m doing to myself, and by then it can be difficult to remember why I ever loved reading these silly stories in the first place. Fortunately, there are a few comics I can always rely on to rekindle the fire in me. Today I’ll be taking some time to briefly talk/gush about one of them.
WELL IT LOOKS LIKE DISNEY’S ACQUISITION OF 21ST CENTURY FOX ISJUST ABOUT COMPLETED. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!
I think it means that Disney has absorbed major assets of yet another global multi-billion dollar company, significantly reducing their competition in several key markets and moving them one step closer to actual world domination.
NO, GOOF! IT MEANS THAT WE’LL FINALLY SEE THE FANTASTIC FOURAND THE X-MEN INTHE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE!
WHAT WAS THAT OTHER STUFF YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT?
I dunno. Who cares? Yeah, X-Men!
YEAH, FANTASTIC FOUR!
Yeah, life is great as long as I don’t think about it too hard!
I GUESS THIS MEANS MARVEL STUDIOS HAS ACCESS TOALL OF IT’S OWN CHARACTERS NOW.
Well, almost? I mean, they’re nearly there. It’s complicated.
You know I’ve talked about a couple comic books now, even a few manga, and yet I’m surprised I haven’t yet mentioned one of my all-time favorite comic books: One Piece. To very quickly summarize, One Piece (ワンピース) is a story about a crew known as the Straw Hat Pirates led by their Captain – Monkey D. Luffy – as they traverse vast oceans and dangerous islands in search of a mythical treasure known as the One Piece. Written and drawn by the insanely talented Eiichiro Oda, One Piece was first released back in July of 1997 in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump and has been releasing chapters on a near-weekly basis for over 21 years, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. It has a small but substantial following here in America but that pales in comparison to the cultural juggernaut it has become in Japan covering books, a TV show, dozens of movies, and even an amusement park. With over 440 million volumes sold worldwide at the time of this writing, One Piece has surpassed titles including Bleach, Naruto and all of the Dragon Ball series to become the best-selling manga of all time.
Now to clarify, this post is not going to be one big all-encompassing review of the series; there have already been many, many in-depth reviews and professional think pieces that can give you a much better understanding of One Piece than I could ever dream of matching here. Instead, I’m going to narrow my focus to a single chapter – Chapter 108 to be specific – and dig into the reasons why I think it works so well.