First Minecraft Skins – Superman Mother Box and Doomsday

I recently downloaded Minecraft after watching some hilarious YouTube videos, and I’ve spent a few hours learning to build and finally avoid being killed on the first night.

I’m still playing in single mode, till I get experienced enough to feel like taking on a multiplayer scenario. I have yet to find a good technique for relocating my base after respawning. Everyone says build a compass but I haven’t managed to craft that far yet.

Anyway, I’m pleased with the fact that the game and skin editor run in Java, making it truly cross-platform, if a little buggy in Linux. I’ve also been reading Superman: Doomsday The Aftermath and have been influenced by the costumes for my first 2 skins:

Superman with Mother Box Armor

Doomsday Minecraft Skin

Not bad for a first attempt? I’ve uploaded them to Skindex, so just search for wafitz.net to find them.

I kind of enjoyed creating the skins more than playing the game… maybe I’ll do some more.

The Walking Dead: Zombie School

How cool is this? The latest production video from AMC for The Walking Dead adaptation. I’m really anticipating this new series in filling the hole that Lost left, for me anyway.

I also wonder how close they’ll stick to the comics, I’m kind of hoping they do stray a little otherwise there’ll be no surprises for me. At the same time I hope they’re gutsy enough to kill off the same characters – Too many shows get attached to certain actors then it really drags down the storyline. This is why I like Dexter so much – not only were they prepared to stray from the books they were really ballsy with their Season 4 cliffhanger.

Check out the black guy at the end of the video, he’s totally into it, method acting and all…!

HT: Image Addiction

Graphic Novel Review: Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection

Zot! The Complete Black & White CollectionZot! is another one of those classics that I missed at the time when it wasn’t a classic, it was new. Thankfully, a couple of years ago Scott McCloud brought out the complete black and white collection so that guys like me could become new fans and get completely engrossed.

When I first spotted this book on the shelves of Borders (aah Borders, remember them?) I knew it was one I wanted to pick up at some point and read. It went on my mental wishlist. I had flicked through it a couple of times, inspired by Manga and a popular Japanese superhero, but not quite all Manga, just enough of Americana and Manga to make it a perfect blend.

It just so happened that I was browsing through Borders during their final sale, that I spotted the one and only copy left on one of the mobile trays of unsorted books and immediately I snapped it up for a good reduced price. This has to be one of my best graphic novel purchases of recent, if not all time!

Zot! is not your average teen astroboy superhero yarn, there are themes covered more suited to older teens. It’s also not an average superhero yarn in the sense that it centers largely around the relationship and growing love between ordinary earth-girl Jenny and boy from another dimension Zot. In fact, it’s more of a love story that occasionally features hell bent supervillians and save the world scenarios. If you don’t mind a love story in your dose of action adventure then this is an epic story you should not miss.

Zot and Jenny
Image from newsarama.com

That said, the villains themselves are no push-over. As the story goes on we are introduced to ever more dangerous characters who bring death and the threat of total annihilation. Perhaps it’s the casual way Zot approaches them, or the way the story unfolds that makes them seem less so, but there’s no monologuing when it comes to bad guys like 9-Jack-9, if he wants someone dead he’ll just do it, quickly, efficiently and without warning.

Zot! is the kind of comic that people like me wish they had read the first time it came around, before it got “discovered”. It’s the kind of story that when you’ve finished it, in less than 2 weeks, you wish there was more out there in the pipeline, but have to come to terms with the fact that this is a series that finished years ago.

Despite McClouds self-abasement over his amateur artwork, I though the artwork was absolutely fantastic. I say this as someone who often spots annoying oddities and inconsistencies in many comic books I read. A few colour pages would have been a nice inclusion (or even a section in the middle somewhere with a sample of colour artwork), but by no means is the art lacking in anyway. The panels are easy to follow, the black ink used extremely well in many places.

The only criticism I can give it is negligible, the way the story diverges on political issues of the day towards the end. It feels unnecessary reading something like this in 2010 rather than 1991.

The other quibble I have is with the inclusion of the special feature ‘Getting to 99’. Yes, I know it’s draft copies and that’s cool and everything, but I did read the story through and some of the storyboards of Zot basically zipping through endless corridors felt like a bad video game to book conversion and was slightly tedious. But this I can forgive in the face of such an epic novel.

If you’re into a slightly off beat superheroics, with a good story and character development, this is one not to miss.

Get Zot!: The Complete Black-and-white Stories: 1987-1991 at Amazon.co.uk

Graphic Novel Review: Maus

Last year I read Watchmen for the first time. I read it before watching the movie because I didn’t want my perception of the novel to be influenced by the movie, I wanted to compare the movie to the graphic novel.

I’ve read edgy graphic novels before, but I was primarily brought up on a diet of 2000 AD and Batman. After reading Watchmen however, I made a pledge to broaden my reading spectrum and seek out more edgy, interesting and unusual graphic novels that don’t feature super heroes – particularly ones that have not yet been made into movies. I picked up a copy of 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide and one of the first novels I decided to purchase was The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Maus is the true story of the survival of Spiegalman’s father and mother through the Nazi holocaust with Jews depicted as mice and Germans depicted as cats as well as Polish pigs, French frogs and others which go to form visual metaphors for the range of nationalities featured and their attitude towards events at the time.

Despite its animal theme and comic format, Spiegelman pulled no punches in depicting the realities of life at the time, including the violence and death that encircled his immediate family. At the same time, the novel does not attempt to paint Vladek (Speigelman’s father) as a wholly innocent and guilt-free victim. Not only do we see Vladeks resourcefulness and caring side, we see prejudice, paranoia, stinginess and even racism. In fact this is part of what makes the story so powerful – the fact that his father, despite all he has been through, is human just like the rest of us.

The story recalls to my mind both Watership Down and Animal Farm. Both of which use animals as metaphors to convey certain characteristics, and both of which deal with violence, persecution and other mature themes. The story is both intense and immersing. I didn’t want to put it down, but had no choice due to it being so weighty in words. I do not think it is intended to be a tragedy, nevertheless this is the feeling you get when you come away from it, yet there are moments of humour and hope punctuated throughout the story, including towards the end where Art and Vladek seem to become reconciled towards one another, as well as Art’s revelations through meeting with his shrink. I particularly like the way Spiegelman has drawn himself ‘shrinking’ to the size of a little boy whilst sitting on the couch!

Rich in details and character driven, I highly recommend Maus, it’s a story I think that will appeal even to people who don’t usually read graphic novels.

I hope you liked my first review of a graphic novel, actually my first review of anything really. I just hope my next one is a little shorter and less work!