Ramblings Of A Man Named Joseph Carro

Don’t Be Afraid To Call Yourself An Adventurer.

Posted on March 23, 2015

You wouldn’t really know it just from looking at me, but I’m an adventurer.

I’m guessing those of you who know me personally, and who have seen my quirks, are chuckling to yourself and saying “Joe. You are not an adventurer. You won’t even eat fish. Also, have you ever even been out of New England?

Sure, I probably don’t fit into the traditional “adventurer” box. I don’t strap on armor and go fight dragons (not in real life, anyway). I don’t travel to far away places like some of my friends, or try exotic foods. But I would argue that I AM an adventurer (and that means you probably are, too), because adventuring is, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder.

What makes one an adventurer? The dictionary definition of “adventurer” is “a person who enjoys or seeks adventure”. Pretty simple criteria to fill, right? It doesn’t have to be adventurous to someone else, as long as it’s adventurous to YOU. What I do tends to be adventurous for me, hence calling myself an adventurer. Logic.

I enjoy adventure in all forms. When I was a boy and my family had no money, that didn’t stop me from seeking adventure, or enjoying it. While Marvel’s Spider-Man was swinging through New York City, trying to put a stop to the dastardly Ringmaster – I was there with him, swinging along right behind him. When the young pig keeper named Taran was taking care of the oracular pig Hen Wen, I was there with him. The assistant to the assistant pig-keeper. When Mario and Luigi bounced through the Mushroom Kingdom in a quest to save Princess Peach, I was right there – a part of the action. These books and comics and games were my outlet for adventure when real life wouldn’t allow it.

When real life WOULD allow it – I traipsed through the woods, pretending I was a soldier or a bandit or a knight. I didn’t just find adventure, I created it in little pockets accessible during very trying times.

Today, adventure takes many different forms for me. Being an adult, I have certain responsibilities (as we all do). While those DO need to be taken care of, there has been plenty of time for adventures, actual adventures, in my life. While I still may not seem as adventurous as some, remember that my own brand of adventure may be different from your own. You might like going to study with monks in Tibet. That might be YOUR idea of adventure. Mine is exploring my back yard, or finding the adventure in the mundane. It’s not easy to do, but it’s there, and it’s rewarding.

I hunt ghosts. I had my own ghost hunting group for a while (Ghost Gumshoes). A website, a photographer, other investigators. We made excursions into some of the creepiest and darkest corners of the state. Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, paranormal investigation is very exciting. You’re on edge, you’re in the dark. You’re hearing things, you’re recording things via photography, video and audio recording, and the written word. You might see something, you might not – but each time is different. Every investigation is a chance for excitement.

Me, investigating a friend's attic. One of my first "Ghost Gumshoes" investigations.

Me, investigating a friend’s attic. One of my first “Ghost Gumshoes” investigations back in 2011.

Another early investigation in Hebron, Maine.

Another early investigation in Hebron, Maine.

Investigating in Salem, Mass.

Investigating in Salem, Mass.

I once took a road trip to Virginia. It was for my honeymoon, but even though I shared that trip with someone else – it was still an adventure of my own. We went to Colonial Williamsburg. I was able to walk inside the home where Thomas Jefferson was tutored. I stared in awe at the dusty old law books, old bifocals, quill pens. The glass in the windows was original. Outside, I was able to witness a working tobacco plantation and taste a mint leaf from another part of the gardens. I was able to see the smokehouse and how meat is smoked. I was able to thresh some wheat, the old-fashioned way, as an old-timer re-enactor instructed me on how to use the threshing pole. I walked Virginia Beach, taking in the sights, smelling the salt, watching the waves. To me, Virginia may as well be as far away as Tibet for how often I get there. I’d never been anywhere that far away before then.

Me on Virginia Beach.

Me on Virginia Beach.

Me, threshing wheat at Colonial Williamsburg.

Me, threshing wheat at Colonial Williamsburg.

The smoke house at Colonial Williamsburg.

The smoke house at Colonial Williamsburg.

Mint leaf from the garden at Colonial Williamsburg.

Mint leaf from the garden at Colonial Williamsburg.

In 2010 I ended up in Maryland while my then-wife had veterinary training seminars. For two days I explored what I could. I drove, by myself, to the battlefield of Antietam. I walked the once-bloody fields and explored them in reverent silence. The heat was palpable, yet I stayed there in the sun and the grass all day, reflecting on how far the country had come since then, and how much further it still had to go. I walked the Bloody Lane, trying to pick up on the energy that may have been left behind by the violence. I cried. For me, Antietam was a spiritual journey, and I’m glad I made it. Aside from that, I explored what I could of Baltimore. The city was fun, and I was surprised with myself for having made the journey there. (I even managed to get my photo taken next to one of James Brown’s outfits that was hanging on a wall in a Hard Rock Cafe in Baltimore).

Me at Hard Rock Cafe in Baltimore, next to James Brown's outfit.

Me at Hard Rock Cafe in Baltimore, next to James Brown’s outfit.

A memorial at the Antietam National Battlefield.

A memorial at the Antietam National Battlefield.

Me at Antietam National Battlefield, wearing the union colors.

Me at Antietam National Battlefield, wearing the union colors.

I went to Limestone, Maine, to the Loring Air Force Base and I was a passenger during a rally cross event. During the day, the clouds swirled and danced across a perfect blue sky as the roar of car engines filled the silence of the surrounding countryside. At night, as we sat around a fire near our tents – I could have sworn that we’d been transported into the cosmos because the stars were so bright and all around us it seemed we had left Earth behind and were floating in a nebulous vacuum.

Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.

Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.

Me as a passenger in a rally car.

Me as a passenger in a rally car.

My POV from inside the car, on the track, at Loring Air Force Base.

My POV from inside the car, on the track, at Loring Air Force Base.

I paid my way (hotel room, gas) to see one of my now ex-girlfriends graduate from boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey. We traveled through New York City, stopping in the Bronx. The night before I saw her, I walked to a nearby beach and sat in the sand to think a while. I remember thinking how soft the sand was there in Cape May, and how, despite the cold, I almost fell asleep to the sound of crashing surf and whistling breeze.

I’ve been to the top of Mount Washington, gazing down through the clouds at the specks of people so far below. I’ve been to the Desert of Maine, watching beetles make track marks through the hot sands as the temperature needle poked its way into the high nineties. I’ve been to Funspot, the largest arcade on the east coast – where I re-lived my childhood. I rode my bike through the scenic parts of Biddeford, Saco, and Kennebunkport, soaking in the sun and watching the wildlife as the scenery unfolded before me.

Me with a camel statue at the Desert of Maine

Me with a camel statue at the Desert of Maine

Me at Funspot in New Hampshire.

Me at Funspot in New Hampshire.

Me on top of Mount Washington.

Me on top of Mount Washington.

One of my bike rides to Kennebunkport, Maine.

One of my bike rides to Kennebunkport, Maine.

I’ve attended many different conventions. AWP and Boskone, two conferences I attended with my Stonecoast friends. PortCon. Super Megafest. Portland Comic Expo. I’ve stepped into the shoes of Jareth from Labyrinth, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: Episode III. I’ve been able to meet celebrities and people I admire from my pop culture interests. Todd Dezago, the cast of MST3K, Bob Camp, Lee Weeks, Ernie Hudson, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sargeant Slaughter, Ray Park, Rick Parker, Mort Todd, Marissa Jade, Ron Jeremy, Joe Quinones, and so many others.

Me with some friends at AWP in Boston.

Me with some friends at AWP in Boston.

Me as Obi-Wan Kenobi at Portland Comic Expo in Portland, Maine.

Me as Obi-Wan Kenobi at Portland Comic Expo in Portland, Maine.

Me at Coast City Comicon in 2011 with Nicole Marie Jean.

Me at Coast City Comicon in 2011 with Nicole Marie Jean.

Me with actor Ray Park at Super Megafest.

Me with actor Ray Park at Super Megafest.

I helped win first place in a film festival about mustaches. I was in a band. I’ve been asked to come on stage during a band’s performance of a cover of “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, along with two of my friends, and we danced on stage to the song while dressed as the characters from the Beastie Boys’s video. I danced on stage for hours during a Girl Talk set in Portland, until I was sweaty and exhausted.


The short film about mustaches.

Me with a couple of my friends from work dressed as the Beastie Boys from Sabotage.

Me with a couple of my friends from work dressed as the Beastie Boys from Sabotage.


The video of me and my friends from the above photo dancing on stage to Sabotage.

I am on stage dancing to a Girl Talk set, sort of near the computer monitor. I have orange rings around my short sleeves, I'm tall, and I have my arms in the air.

I am on stage dancing to a Girl Talk set, sort of near the computer monitor. I have orange rings around my short sleeves, I’m tall, and I have my arms in the air.

I walked the Battle Road Trail from the Old North Bridge to the Lexington Green and all the places in between. I toured Boston and Cambridge with friends, and explored the Bunker Hill memorial site, which moved something within me.

Me on the Battle Road Trail.

Me on the Battle Road Trail.

I visited the graves and former homes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau. I moved among the remnants of their lives, trying to re-live what I could through what remained of their existence. I stood barefoot in Walden Pond. I touched Hawthorne’s writing desk. I walked along an old trail Hawthorne himself used to use to think. I looked for answers from these dead writers.

At the Old Manse.

At the Old Manse.

Walden Pond.

Walden Pond.

I explored Vermont with friends. I explored Salem, Mass – a yearly tradition by now. I explored Wells, and Bar Harbor, and Acadia. I’ve created art, and have written stories, and most of all – I’ve lived. I haven’t had to travel far, but I’ve tried to live. I’ve tried my best.

I’ve done all these things, and I’ve done more – and there is even more to come in the future. Whatever shape your own brand of adventure takes, don’t feel afraid to call yourself an adventurer. You’ve probably been on more adventures than you realize.

So go out, find the adventure in the mundane and remember to live your life.

My Time In A Foster Home, Part One: The Cast

Posted on March 23, 2015

Richard Johnson was the patriarch of the Johnson family. He was small, somewhat effeminate, and a ring of red hair circled his balding scalp. He had deep lines on his face and an equally deep well of sarcastic humor to call upon when needed. He often smoked cigarettes, sitting cross-legged on a stool in the screened-in patio downstairs.

“Just so you know,” he said when I first arrived, drawing in a puff of smoke. “We’re going to be bringing you in to the dentist. Those teeth are going to be taken care of.”

My stomach dropped. I hated the dentist. The last one I’d gone to was the one my stepdad brought me to see about a year before. That dentist I had kicked in the chest after he made me hold a mirror for him while he poked my gums with a sharp metal stick. He refused to ever work on me again after that.

“I don’t want to see a dentist,” I said quietly. I fidgeted with my shirt.

“Well, that’s too bad. You’re a ward of the state, now. You’re going to have to go to counseling, too.” He sucked in another swig of smoke. “Every week.”

Richard was an odd guy. In the end, he was probably the least weird member of the entire foster family I lived with for a couple of years in Exeter, New Hampshire. He was the least intimidating, the least emotionally-charged, the most fun (when he wasn’t bringing me to the dentist). He organized a “Guy’s Night Out” which happened once a week. We’d go see a movie, or go to Joker’s, or maybe out to do some bowling or laser tag.

My foster mother, Elaine, was a teacher and although she seemed to have some patience due to her profession – she was awfully high-strung. She had short, gray-ish hair and her look and mannerisms reminded me of Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. It really was uncanny. The way she looked, the way she lisped and waved her hand while she spoke, the way she rolled her eyes and laughed. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he had actually studied her and shadowed her for the role. She and I never really had much of a connection. She didn’t seem too curious about me, or interested in my future. I was almost more of a house guest of their first foster son – Cody. She seemed to be quite taken with him, and in a sort of weird way – not your typical mother-son relationship.

The Johnsons had two daughters; Eliza and Kate. Other than that, the rule was that there were to be no girls in the house. Kate was off to college, and so I didn’t really see her that often. To my teenage mind, I thought she was super-pretty. I think I maybe saw her twice the entire time I lived there. Eliza was often home, though, and she loved the “no girls” rule because it meant she was free to flirt with any of the men in the house she wasn’t actually related to (aside from me, thankfully). Eliza was often loud, raucous, and her face got red when she spoke. She was talented, very smart, and played the piano,though – and those are the things we connected on whenever we actually spoke.

Aside from me, there were three other foster kids in the house, all boys. On top of that, the friends of said boys – often a stable in the Johnson home – brought the total number of non-related males in the house to nine or ten, depending on who was over. Once, Eliza got herself in hot water with her father after she’d walked upstairs, naked, and entered the room we foster kids shared (this is before I arrived) and laid down next to Cody. He told her loudly to get out, prompting my foster parents to come upstairs where they found her naked. Scandal. Even at my young age, I could see she had a thing for Cody and his friends.

After I’d arrived, it seemed that that sort of thing had died down, somewhat, aside from the time that Cody had gotten mad at our foster mom and decided to rip up a note he’d written her once. She was devastated, and in a strange high-school way when teens break up with each other – not in a mother spurned by her son kind of way. It was awkward.

Cody was an interesting kid. He was a little bit older than I was, by a year or so, and he’d been the first foster kid the Johnsons had picked up. He wore track pants, a “wife beater”, a ball cap, and big sneakers. His face was always in a sort of half-grin, and he was always riding a BMX bike around the city and smoking cigarettes. He introduced me to Adam Sandler’s stand-up and comedy CDs. He also introduced me to the Wu-Tang Clan, and rap music in general. I think he took pity on me when I first arrived, seeing how nervous I was. He showed me some boxing techniques on the punching bag downstairs, and one time he even helped me with a science project for school where I had to build a housing for a fragile egg and drop it inside the box from a window so that it wouldn’t crack or break.

When I arrived, Cody was the only other foster kid. He had two friends, Brian and Jason, and they would come over often and we’d all play Dungeons and Dragons or video games or watch action movies. That aspect of foster care was great. When I had originally moved to New Hampshire, I was hated by the other kids in school because I was a lot poorer than they were. They threw rocks through my window, I was chased through the streets, I was messed with at school. Now, here I was in a sort of stable home life with pseudo-brothers I could count on to stick up for me, and friends to hang out with on a daily basis once they got to know me.

Later on, we acquired two other foster kids. Tyler and Adam. Tyler was a sort of less-nice version of Cody. He was short, he had a temper, and he was super-sarcastic. Adam was a younger boy with serious psychological problems. He’d been molested, probably even more than I had when I was younger, and we all learned to steer clear of him or else he’d try to touch your penis or put Legos in your butt. Yes, seriously.

I lived with these people and learned their quirks. I often wondered why I was living there with people who often had “real” problems. Of course, I did have problems, but I didn’t see it that way. At that point, I still wet the bed, I exhibited behaviors consistent with those who’ve been sexually assaulted. To me, my pain and life hardships were “normal” and as such – I wasn’t really as affected by them as other people might be.

We all ate dinner together, something I wasn’t used to. Three meals a day. They taught me to eat with silverware, since more often than not I just picked up whatever food we were eating and ate it directly with my hands. It was how I was brought up. They said I ate like “a savage” and that they wouldn’t have it in their home. When I arrived at the Johnson’s, the social worker who’d dragged me along brought me clothes shopping and threw away all my other clothes because they stunk like piss and dirt, and were falling apart at the seams. No, none of these things were normal that I was used to, but I didn’t know at the time.

When you move into a foster home, you expect them to be like something out of a sitcom like Leave It To Beaver. It wasn’t the case there. Aside from all the strange family politics going on, and the troubles of kids like Adam and Tyler, the Johnsons were not a conventional family. First of all, they swore like crazy. The first night there, I’d resolved not to speak to any of them. The social worker threatened that if I didn’t talk to them and if I didn’t make myself likable, that I’d be placed in a group home.  But the family coaxed me out of my shell by demonstrating that they weren’t an uptight bunch, dropping multiple F-Bombs and saying “shit” and “god damn it”. They said these things enough so that I laughed during dinner. Before then, I’d been morose and disgruntled, having been lured to the guidance office at school before they locked the door behind me and informed me that I’d be going to a foster home, against my will.

Life in the foster home was a short duration of time in the long run, but for me – it was a time of change, of self-reflection, of healing, of lots of things. There are too many little stories, too many events, to go all into one blog post. What I’ve done here is give you an introduction to the circumstances, to the cast of characters in my life at that time. In later posts, I will tell you about certain events that happened, certain encounters with people, certain things that go along with being a ward of the state. Take from it what you will.

 

 

Bud Santos cosplays as the original Doctor Who.

Cosplay Confessions: Bud Santos Cosplay

Posted on March 16, 2015

Cosplay Confessions is yet another monthly feature I’ve added to my blog, though I’ve recently gotten a bunch of submissions so I may do it twice monthly if this persists. Every month (and maybe twice a month), I plan on featuring a different cosplayer and my interview with them, along with photos featuring their cosplays. This will not only be beneficial to the cosplayers themselves – because any publicity is good publicity when it comes to updating your fans on which conventions you’ll be at, and what you’re working on – but it will also be beneficial to those who are interested in cosplay as a hobby.

Since this is a new feature, I have asked some cosplayers I know to fill out my questions and it’s my great pleasure to introduce a terrific Dr. Who cosplayer I met at the Portland Comic Expo in Portland, Maine who is relatively new to the hobby but still rocks the original Doctor’s costume like no one else I’ve seen. His name is Bud Santos, and cosplaying runs in his family (just ask his son, who cosplays as a terrific Hellboy). On top of that, Bud is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet. On to the interview!

 

 

Bud Santos cosplays as the original Doctor Who.

Bud Santos cosplays as the original Doctor Who.

 

QUESTION: Hello! Many people reading this may not know much about you. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been cosplaying?

Well, I’m 62 years old and I work in the engineering department at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Maine. Before that I managed the Kay Bee Toy store in Auburn, Maine. I have a BFA in Technical Theater from Emerson College in Boston, Mass. I only started cosplaying last year at the encouragement of my son Ben, who does a terrific Hellboy.

 

Bud Santos cosplaying as the original Doctor.

Bud Santos cosplaying as the original Doctor.

 

QUESTION: Do you attend many conventions? Which ones are your favorite to attend?

I have attended Portcon (Portland, Maine), In-CON-ceivable (Northampton, Mass) and the Portland Comic Expo (Portland, Maine). Portcon was my first so it has a special place in my heart.

 

Bud Santos cosplaying as the original Doctor.

Bud Santos cosplaying as the original Doctor.

 

QUESTION: Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to cosplaying?

My only pet peeve are the rare times someone puts down another cosplayer. This is definitely not cool.

 

Bud as The Doctor, posing with another cosplayer portraying Princess Leia from Star Wars.

Bud as The Doctor, posing with another cosplayer portraying Princess Leia from Star Wars.

 

QUESTION: What’s one cosplay project you’d like to do in the future?

What I would like to do in the future is to build a Tardis that would open up to reveal a control room. Really being bigger inside than out.

 

Bud as the original Doctor Who standing next to the later Tom Baker version of Doctor Who.

Bud as the original Doctor Who standing next to the later Tom Baker version of Doctor Who.

 

QUESTION: Are there any cosplayers (professional or otherwise) who inspire you? If so, why?

I’ m really inspired by all the cosplayers out there. From the people who spend hours and hours making their costumes, to the fellow who was at Portcon in pajamas, a bathrobe, and a towel as Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker’s Guide. I may not know the character you’re portraying, but that is my ignorance of the character and doesn’t reflect the quality of the costume. I also have to mention my son Ben who got me into cosplay and my wife Bonnie who has just started cosplaying, herself.

 

Bonnie, Bud's wife.

Bonnie, Bud’s wife.

 

QUESTION: What do you think sets you apart from other cosplayers?

I think the one thing that might set me apart from other cosplayers is my age. When Ben was trying to convince me to do cosplay, my age was a factor. During the past, on various Halloweens, I had been Indiana Jones (much younger of course) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (The Alec Guiness version) when I had my beard. Ben said no one was doing the Original Doctor and that there are a nice bunch of Doctor Who cosplayers at Portcon. He was right on both counts and the Doctors at Portcon were great! I also try and stay in character as much as I can but only when it’s fun.

 

Bud as the first Doctor next to his son, Ben, cosplaying as Hellboy.

Bud as the first Doctor next to his son, Ben, cosplaying as Hellboy.

 

QUESTION: Any advice for someone wishing to begin cosplaying?

To anyone starting cosplay; pick someone you like. Make your costume as complicated or as simple as you like but make it comfortable. Do it for fun and with a positive attitude and never say anything negative about another cosplayer!

 

Bud cosplaying as the First Doctor, standing next to a lady version of the Tom Baker Dr. Who.

Bud cosplaying as the First Doctor, standing next to a lady version of the Tom Baker Dr. Who.

 

QUESTION: Last but not least – do you have a website or Facebook page where people can check out your cosplay endeavors?

Yes, I am on facebook. You can see for yourself HERE.

 

A gethering of Doctors. Bud is on the left, second one in.

A gethering of Doctors. Bud is on the left, second one in.

Friend Files #15 – Amanda Ravange

Posted on March 16, 2015

Friend Files is a new feature I’ve added to Away With Words, this being just the fifteenth installment. I will be interviewing a friend of mine and showcasing why they are a friend to me and what I like about them, and also a mini-interview (five questions) that detail what they think of me. It’s a way to acknowledge my friends out there and what they’re up to and also introduce them to my larger group of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might be interested in reading.

Today, I will be talking about Amanda Ravange. Before I get into what I think of her, here is my mini-interview with Amanda (exchanged over Facebook) where she jotted down just a few thoughts:

 

Amanda Ravange - Haunter, Booth Babe, Survivor.

Amanda Ravange – Professional Haunter, Booth Babe, Actress, Survivor.

AMANDA RAVANGE’S FRIEND FILES INTERVIEW

 

ME: Give me some details about your life.

AMANDA RAVANGE: I act, I do make-up, I do scenic design. I work on movies and in haunted attractions. You can book me for your haunted attraction. I teach classes within the industry. I’ve been a booth babe for a few trade-shows.

Lets see, I’ve also died three times, one being a drunk driving accident caused by my father, who I do not speak to. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 13-ish years, but you can eat whatever you want. I go-go dance at goth clubs. I also used to co-run a zombie walk at the beach. I was in a Silent Hill short called Silent Hill Confined.There’re probably a lot more things that I can say but can’t think of!

 

ME: How exactly did we meet?

AMANDA RAVANGE: Coast City Comic Con 2011? I was a vampire booth babe.


ME: What is one good memory you have involving me?

AMANDA RAVANGE: That time you drew that awesome picture of me!

 

ME: Why exactly are we still friends?
AMANDA RAVANGE: Due to the fact that we like the same things. Convention scene and we are both interesting people!

 

ME: Anything you want me to plug?
AMANDA RAVANGE: Yes! Check out my page HERE.
Also go check out Dead Country USA, which is a web series and podcast I’m going to be in. I think its on Facebook, Instagram, Vine… Should be a good time.If you wanna see a movie I worked on, Almost Human is on Netflix, and Blessid is touring currently.

 

First off,  before I get into why I am still friends with and like Amanda so much, I’m going to post a couple of links that you people can check her out in:


This is the Silent Hill fan film Amanda told you to check out. It’s really creepy, and it’s short enough to watch without a big commitment. Watch it!

 


This is the trailer for the horror film Amanda worked on, Almost Human, which is set in rural Maine.
Now, I’m going to discuss Amanda and my friendship with her. We first met, as she indicated above, at the Coast City Comicon way back in 2011 or so. That year I didn’t go in costume most of the time, so when I met her I was just in my regular clothing and she was a vampire “booth babe”. (Otherwise I’d have been dressed as Jareth from Labyrinth) I said hi to her and didn’t end up buying anything from her booth, but she had really cool make up on and I remembered her name due to the autographed card she gave me and then I finally ended up seeing her profile on Facebook after a while and I sent a friend request.

Well, over time we became Facebook friends. She just does an amazing job with make up and I enjoyed seeing her posts about her job scaring the daylights out of people at “haunts”, like Dark Hour in Texas. (You can see details of that on her site linked above) She does a bit of cosplay, and is into the horror scene which I found really cool. Also, she has a lot of interesting stuff to say and is a very beautiful person despite going through a bunch of trauma. She is very open and candid with people regarding her survival stories (especially the car crash she was in as a child) and I found that very endearing and courageous. I mean, I had a pretty bad childhood but she actually died – and more than once, and she’s still super-nice and really is a survivor and inspires many others around her.

Since that first time meeting her at the convention, I haven’t actually seen her at any local cons but now that we’ve talked online a few times, it will be cool when I do see her at a convention and I can finally give her a drawing I did of her a while back. We are internet friends, but because of our shared interests and my respect for her life journey, we have remained friends and I am glad I got to meet her. She is an ultra-cool lady and very interesting, and I enjoy the little asides we have sometimes through one of her posts.

With that, I now leave you with some photos relevant to my friendship with Amanda and who she is as a person:

 

 

 

Amanda can toe the line between sexy and scary with ease. (Well, that make up takes a lot of work, I'd imagine. Look how cool it is!)

Amanda can toe the line between sexy and scary with ease. (Well, that make up takes a lot of work, I’d imagine. Look how cool it is!)

A charcoal drawing I did of Amanda back in 2012 when I was doing my speed-drawing practice.

A charcoal drawing I did of Amanda back in 2012 when I was doing my speed-drawing practice.

A npte/autograph I got on a card from Amanda at Coast City Comicon.

A note/autograph I got on a card from Amanda at Coast City Comicon.

The make up she does is really cool.

The make up she does is really cool. So talented!

...OR cute.

She can be sassy…

...Or creepy. This is Amanda at one of her Haunts.

…Or creepy. This is Amanda at one of her Haunts.

 


And this is what Amanda went through as a child and why she doesn’t speak to her father any longer. She’s been through so much and has my utmost respect.

 

Eight Simple Questions – An Interview With Writer & Artist Joseph Schmalke

Posted on March 14, 2015

While I was attending Stonecoast, I needed to come up with a third-semester project. I knew I wanted to involve comic books somehow, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. What I was sure of was that I wanted to take advantage of any connections I had made with people I met at comic book conventions and people I was going to school with. So I came up with eight simple questions and had multiple comic book writers and sometimes artists answer them and collected the interviews into one small book.

So, in the same vein as my new blog feature “Friend Files” – I present to you the interview I had with comic artist and writer Joseph Schmalke.

Joseph Schmalke is a really cool guy I was introduced to at Coast City Comicon by someone we both know at Coast City Comics in Portland, Maine named Ross Kearney. Ross took me aside one day after I was chatting with him at the con and telling him about my project and he walked with me over to Joe’s booth and introduced me to him. I discussed my project with Mr. Schmalke and he was really into it, and even gave me the first issue of his comic Calamitous Black Devils to review for my review blog.

Well, I didn’t (as you know if you’ve been following this feature on my blog) end up using the questions I got from Mr. Schmalke and others until my graduate presentation, but still – the questions were a big help and a cool look into the world of creating comic books.

Joseph Schmalke is a very talented guy who does all his own stuff – writing and art – for his comics. I hope you get as much out of these interviews as I do, because I’ve learned a lot from reading these over and he and the others I’ve interviewed have provided a great resource to use for curious folks like myself.

Note: These are “beginner” questions for folks who are either interested in Joseph’s work, interested in possibly getting into writing comics, curious about the methods comic book writers use, or if you’re just curious in general. These are very simple questions, meant to just get a snapshot of what the comic business is like for these particular writers. Tune in to later editions of this blog feature for more interviews with other comic book creators. Also, this interview is now a year old or more, so some of the publication data might be old as well.

And, now – on to the interview:

 

JOSEPH SCHMALKE

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  1. For those people who may be unfamiliar with your work, which comic book company are you working for at the moment (or in the past), and what are your current projects?

My current book the Calamitous Black Devils has been picked up by publisher Broken Icon Comics.

 

 

  1. What got you into writing/drawing comic books or graphic novels?

My father loved Punisher and Sgt. Rock when I was a kid and was always pushing them on me. I was about ten when the Kraven’s Last Hunt story line in Spider-Man came out and that’s when I knew I wanted to do comics.  Since then I have made some halfhearted attempts at doing them but it wasn’t until I was in college when I started writing plays and movie scripts that I became interested in doing my own comic book.  After doing a lot of minimalistic scripts (because that’s what you have to write when you want to make an independent movie) I realized I liked writing big.  I wanted explosions and to have hordes of the undead and huge sweeping battles.  In comic books you don’t have to worry about a budget, actors, etc.  You can make it as big as you want and you are only limited by your own skill.

 

 

  1. What was the most difficult thing about breaking into the comic book industry?

Fear, laziness, and lack of skill.

 

 

  1. What do you think about indie publishing?

I love it.  People are pushing limits in independent comic storytelling.  They are not just super heroes anymore and you can get a really sophisticated story with beautiful art.  What’s not to love?

 

 

  1. Who was your biggest influence?

I’ve been asked this a lot, so here’s a list.

FOR WRITING: Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, and Warren Ellis.

FOR ART: Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Mike Zeck.

I will say, however, that Frank Miller has the full package with his Dark Knight Returns and Sin City stories.

 

 

  1. What is the hardest thing about working for a well-known publisher? If you don’t work for one, what’s the hardest thing about doing things yourself?

When you are doing everything yourself like I am, the hardest thing is saying “yeah that is done”… and then moving on.  You can rework a page to the point that it just gets messy.

 

 

  1. How do you make your own work stand out?

First off saying you do it all makes people stop and pay attention to it.  As for the art I have been working for years on a style that I don’t think many people are doing.  Although it gets compared to other styles I think it keeps developing into something of its own.  Making a striking cover doesn’t hurt either.

 

 

  1. What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone trying to create their first comic book or graphic novel?

Do it. Stop talking about it and move forward.  If it sucks and no one likes it scrap it and try something else.  Keep evolving and listen to your peers they have valuable advice.

 

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If you enjoyed this interview and/or wish to know more about Joseph’s work, visit the site for one of his publishers – BROKEN ICON COMICS – where you can find information on Joseph Schmalke and his comic, Calamitous Black Devils.

The Calamitous Black Devils by Joseph Schmalke.

The Calamitous Black Devils by Joseph Schmalke.

 

Also, check out Joseph’s new endeavor – The Infernal Pact. Here’s a brief synopsis from The Infernal Pact‘s Facebook page:

The Infernal Pact-
Three meth addled friends make some bad choices, very bad choices. While trying to score one day, they sell their souls to a dealer with a sadistic sense of humor. The trio starts waking up in strange places and seeing disturbing things. At first they think it’s a joke, after all, waking up in strange places is nothing new to them, but then the changes start…. They become convinced they have indeed lost their souls and are on a mission to get them back. In their way, is a satanic biker gang, brain-eating zombies and a demon from the depths with its own agenda. Finally, they must make their way to the bowels of Hell to break a deal with the Devil himself…

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Stephen B. Scott’s artwork for the cover of Infernal Pact #2.

My Top Ten Favorite Marvel Comics Characters

Posted on March 13, 2015

I do a lot of interviews with this blog between my Friend Files, Cosplay Confessions, and Eight Simple Questions features. One thing I haven’t really done is indulge in a bit of personal fun with an interview of my own. I mean, what’s the use of having my own blog if I can’t rant about my favorite foods, movies, etc? So with this post, I’m going to write about my top ten favorite Marvel Comics characters.

Marvel Comics has been the bread and butter of my comic book reading since I was around three years old. I used to draw the characters, pretend I was them, write about them, and play with their action figure equivalents. There are many Marvel Comics titles I’ve kept up with over the years, and even though I’ve sort of been an on-and-off comic book fan over the years (try collecting comics when you’re married…it’s damn near impossible) one thing has stayed the same – my love for certain characters in the Marvel Comics universe. Keep in mind that the following list is subject to change over the years (and has, many times) but that most of them are pretty constant.

So, without further ado – I present to you my own personal top ten list of favorite Marvel Comics characters.

 

GHORID00610. GHOST RIDER

HISTORY AND POWERS: Ghost Rider first debuted in Marvel Spotlight #5 (August 1972) and was created by Roy Thomas, Gary Friedrich, and Mike Ploog. The original Ghost Rider is a man named Johnny Blaze, who bonded with the demonic spirit of vengeance, Zarathos, and now protects the innocent from evil – supernatural or otherwise.

The demon Zarathos has potentially unlimited power, but because the demon is bonded with Johnathan Blaze, the mortal side of Ghost Rider’s makeup creates a balance which controls and tempers the demon side, preventing him from losing complete control and becoming a danger to humanity.

Ghost Rider has many interesting powers including super strength (he can lift up to 25 tons), super stamina (he has no musculature to speak of and so never tires), invulnerability to all earthly physical trauma (aside from being wounded by a weapon forged in Heaven) which means he also possesses superhuman durability. He doesn’t feel pain, and if he is hurt by a weapon forged in Heaven, he also has an intense healing factor rivaling and surpassing Wolverine’s…I mean, the dude can re-grow limbs in a second. On top of that, he can increase in size, project and manipulate Hellfire, and also has his reliable motorcycle and mystical chains to rely on for transportation and melee/mid-range combat. His ace in the hole is the Penance Stare – which can make someone he uses it on feel all the pain they’ve ever caused people for all eternity. Daaaaaaaang.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Ghost Rider has always been in my top ten. I mean, look at him. He’s got a motorcycle for one thing, which just screams metal. His head is a skull which is on fire all the time. He wears leather and chains. What’s not to love about the aesthetics of this character? Ghost Rider is an artist’s dream. There have been other characters called Ghost Rider, but the original Johnny Blaze is still my favorite, though Danny Ketch was cool too. I don’t really like the newest incarnation, Robbie Reyes – but only because I think the muscle car thing is kind of weird. I mean, I like muscle cars and all but Ghost Rider needs a bike, man.

The most interesting aspect of Ghost Rider, though, is the duality of his character. He is in a symbiotic relationship with the demon Zarathos, which always makes for compelling reading. He is also one of our main links to the religious/supernatural side of the Marvel Universe which doesn’t get a lot of play. Other characters explore this side of things, but Ghost Rider is there to remind us that there are demons out there, and some of those beings are more powerful than any hero or the combined might of many heroes in the universe – which, in turn, humanizes the Marvel characters even more. Humanizing characters makes them relatable, and that’s where Marvel usually trumps DC Comics characters.

Plus, religion isn’t really talked about much in the Marvel Universe and when you have characters who routinely deal with all things Heaven and Hell, you get a rare opportunity to glimpse that world. Sadly, Ghost Rider is severely underused, and misrepresented (as in the Ghost Rider films we’ve had to endure recently) at the moment so that’s why he’s currently so low on my top ten list. If he gets better writing and stories, I’ll bump him up a few notches for sure.

 

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09. MOON KNIGHT

HISTORY AND POWERS: Moon Knight first debuted in Werewolf By Night #32 (August 1975) and was created by Don Perlin and Doug Moench. Moon Knight is a man named Marc Spector who is believed to be the earthly avatar of the Egyptian god of vengeance, Khonshu. An ex mercenary, soldier, and government spook – Spector uses his wealth and resources to fund his own personal war on villainous scum.

In addition to Spector’s skills he picked up before becoming Moon Knight, such as being a very skilled boxer and martial artist, a talented gymnast, a commando, and even a pilot – being the earthly avatar of Khonshu also grants him enhanced strength, endurance, and reflexes at night – especially during a full moon. He sometimes even gets visions, although it’s unclear if these abilities are all real or just that he has disassociative identity disorder. The one good thing about his multiple identities is that he also has some resistance to mental assaults because of it.

On top of all that, Moon Knight employs many different weapons, fancy gadgets, and vehicles. He’s a regular one-man army.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: I always tell people that Batman is a Marvel character stuck in the DC Universe. Since Batman will never actually be part of the Marvel Universe, the next best thing is to read about Moon Knight. Moon Knight is, admittedly, sort of an ersatz Batman but they are different enough characters that it doesn’t make you feel dirty if you like them both. Moon Knight is basically Batman if he were to have multiple personality disorder.

Aside from that, Moon Knight is just visually cool. He’s got the moon motif, and he also has the whole “spirit of vengeance” vibe that Ghost Rider has. I really, really dig the white costume. I know that over the years they’ve played around with the superhuman aspects of his abilities. I think last I knew, he no longer had superhuman strength…but I think it’d be a good idea to bring it back, if only for the sake of being that much different from Batman.

I also really like the fact that he has multiple personality disorder. It gives him that extra touch of intrigue so that you’re constantly trying to figure out what he’ll do or say next.

 

thor-marvel-comics-8284849-1400-200208. THOR

HISTORY AND POWERS: Thor first appeared in Journey Into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Larry Lieber. Inspired by Norse mythology, the Marvel version of Thor differs in many ways from the mythos. However, many things still remain the same.

To teach Thor some humility, Odin sent Thor to Earth, stripped of his powers, placed in the body of a crippled mortal named Donald Blake. Without his powers, Thor (as Donald) aced med school and opened up a practice in New York. Eventually, on vacation, Donald found an old cane in a cave which when struck on the ground would transform Donald Blake magically into Thor, while the cane itself would transform into the mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

From then on, Thor would attend to matters in his home plane of Asgard when needed but ultimately resided with his newfound friends on Midgard (Earth) to help protect it as part of the Avengers.

Thor is an Asgardian god and so has many benefits solely due to that. The Golden Apples of Idunn gave him an extremely lengthy lifespan, though he still does slowly age. He is immune to normal sickness and since the metabolism of an Asgardian is much higher than a mortal’s, Thor also possesses super-endurance. On top of that, Thor can lift around 100 tons (and more, if he’s given into the ‘Berserker Rage’) and his skin and bones are much more dense than a human’s, so he’s very hard to hurt severely.

For a weapon, he carries his mighty hammer Mjolnir, which he can use to fly or channel lightning with.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: I have always loved the character of Thor. It helps that I also really enjoy epic fantasy and Norse mythology, but I love that Thor is just his own brand of hero who differs from many others in the Marvel Universe. As was the case with Ghost Rider being the window into the supernatural horror side of the Marvel Universe, Thor is my window into the world of Asgard. Asgard is a very interesting setting, and not many other Marvel characters go there with any regularity.

Plus, he’s just a badass. He’s basically a viking, and we all know that vikings were total badasses who just drank mead and ate meat and had sex all day long. Right? Okay, Thor isn’t quite that intense, but the flavor is there.

 

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07. ROGUE

HISTORY AND POWERS: Rogue first appeared in Avengers Annual #10 (November 1981) and was created by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden. Anna Marie started out as a villain with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, going by the code name ‘Rogue’ after running away from home. Her powers consist of absorbing other mutants’ powers and then being able to use them herself for a while, even taking on some of their personality and mannerisms until she reverts back to normal.

She did this first with Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel) and had absorbed her flight, super-strength, and almost indestructibility. Later on, she lost those powers and absorbed Sunfire’s superpowers for a while, which consisted of solar-absorption abilities, flight, and being able to sheathe herself in flame or project heat and flame. Currently, she is in possession of Wonder Man’s ionic super powers which enable her to fly at high speed, lift over 100 tons, enhanced reflexes and an immunity from sickness, age, and on top of that she has become almost indestructible.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Rogue is not only sexy (who can resist that southern charm?), but she is also tragically flawed in the sense that she can never physically touch another human. To me, this has always spoken to me about her character, even out of all the X-Men who are naturally ostracized already. Though she has been forced to put aside her temptations and her physical needs (for the most part, aside from brief interludes where she hasn’t had her powers), and even emotional needs – she continues to be a bright person and a force for good in the Marvel universe. She could very well end up straying to the darker side of the moral waters, but so far she has kept her honor in tact from back when she used to run with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and wanted to repent. She’s always been one of my favorite X-Men and has always been one of my favorite Marvel characters in general. Plus, her powers are really neat and dynamic, especially with the way the writers have been playing around with whose powers she absorbs for long periods of time.

 

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06. PUNISHER

HISTORY AND POWERS: Punisher first debuted in Amazing Spider-Man #129 (February 1974) and was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr., Ross Andru, and Stan Lee. Frank Castle was a former United States marine who was thought to have been killed by the mob one day in Central Park after he and his family witnessed a Mafia execution. Though his family was killed, Frank survived and when the justice system failed him – he began a one-man war with the Mob and anyone unlucky enough to walk in their shoes.

As a former United States marine, Punisher received formal training from the Navy SEALS and other military organizations and was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is skilled in hand-to-hand combat (and knows many martial arts), is an expert marksman, and can also employ explosives due to his specialized training. Punisher is also skilled in stealth/camouflage and infiltration, as well as interrogation techniques.

On top of this, Punisher has several bank accounts which he uses to filter funds he steals from criminals to finance his war on crime. He is suited up with a kevlar uniform that protects him from a lot of gunfire, though he can still suffer concussive injury. And, in addition to that, Punisher has an extremely high pain tolerance as well as mental resilience which makes him a hard one to use mind powers on.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Though Punisher has gone through several iterations over the years (FrankenCastle? Really?), the thing I like about him has stayed the same – he’s basically Batman if Batman had just used guns instead. I like that he’s human. Humanity in characters always does it for me, and Punisher is one of the most human characters out there. We’d like to think that if we were put in the same situation that maybe we’d instead don a colorful costume and run around the city fighting crime, humanely, like Daredevil or something – but, no…many of us would actually take this route. Punisher is tortured, angry, and he doles out justice with zero fucks given. I like him that way. It’s super-interesting to see what he’ll do next.

 

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05. BLADE

HISTORY AND POWERS: Blade first debuted in The Tomb of Dracula #10 (July 1973) and was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. Eric Brooks was born a half vampire in London  though his mother was killed by the vampire who helped make him. As a teen, Eric was trained by American vampire hunter Jamal Afari to harness his abilities and fight vampires in the name of vengeance for his dead mother. Since then, Eric has called himself Blade, and has been killing any vampires unlucky enough to cross him.

As a half-vampire, Blade possesses all of their strengths and none of their weaknesses. He is immune to normal vampire bites, and has superhuman strength, agility, speed, endurance, and a healing factor. Blade also has enhanced senses, and can sense supernatural activity in addition to aging very slowly compared to humans.

In addition to his innate abilities, Blade has also trained in several forms of martial arts. He is a swordsman, marksman, and is adept at using throwing knives. When Blade lost one of his hands, he was eventually given a new robotic hand by S.H.I.E.L.D. which can fire three different kinds of ammo and a grappling hook.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Blade is a really cool character to me. Similar to my running theme with these Marvel favorites like Ghost Rider and Moon Knight, Blade is very interesting in that he rarely interacts with the regular stable of Marvel heroes. He fights vampires, which are something that the normal Marvel heroes don’t encounter too often. We, as readers, kind of know the vampires are out there lurking in the shadows but we hardly ever see Spider-Man or Daredevil take on something like that. Blade is my access to that side of the Marvel Universe. On top of that, he’s just a really slick character. He’s got style, he’s got a cool arsenal of weapons, and he kicks a lot of vampire ass. What’s not to love?

 

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04. SPIDER-WOMAN

HISTORY AND POWERS: Spider-Woman first debuted in Marvel Spotlight #32 (February 1977) and was created by Archie Goodwin, Marie Severin, Jim Mooney, and Stan Lee. Jessica Drew grew up in a land rich with Uranium, which her father sold off in order to pursue his genetic research in London. In time, Jessica was poisoned from the constant exposure to the Uranium and her father acted fast to save her, injecting Jessica with an untested serum made from the blood of several uncommon species of spiders, in the hopes of stopping the tissue damage and immunizing Jessica from the Uranium contamination in her blood. Then, he sealed her in a genetic accelerator created by the High Evolutionary which put her in stasis for years until she woke and everyone she knew was gone, though she had been imbued with certain abilities and powers.

In her early career, Spider-Woman was trained by HYDRA and as a result is well-versed in hand-to-hand combat, espionage, marksmanship, covert operations, stealth, fencing, and many other weapons. She has also received training from Taskmaster and S.H.I.E.L.D. in this regard. Occasionally she will carry a Walther PPK firearm and has had vocational training in private investigation.

Along with all of her combat and espionage training, Spider-Woman also possesses superhuman strength (she can lift around 7 tons), and also has superhuman speed, stamina, agility, and reflexes. She also possesses superhuman hearing, smell, and pain tolerance. Her blood makes her immune to poison and radiation, and her soles and palms secrete a fluid enabling her to crawl on walls. She also exudes pheromones which repel women and attract men, though she often wears a special chemical perfume to stymie these effects.  Finally, she can also fly or glide and has the ability to fire bio-chemical blasts from her hands.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: For me, the draw to Spider-Woman has always been just how cool she looks. Admittedly, I have always loved her costume and to me, it just exudes sexiness. It doesn’t reveal a lot of skin, but it is often depicted as being skin-tight, almost like paint rather than material.

However, aside from her aesthetics, Jessica Drew is just a really interesting and neat character. As a kid I was often confused by the fact that she and Spider-Man didn’t really have much to do with one another (come to find out, she was created just to pre-emptively keep DC or any other comic company from taking the name ‘Spider-Woman’ after the popularity of Spider-Man), but I liked her almost as much as I liked Spidey for a while and even watched her cartoon. Hey – spider heroes are neat, what can I say? Her complexity as a character comes also from her versatility. She can be super-stealthy, but she can also mix it up with the best of them in a brawl. She will always be a fav, as far as I can tell (though I don’t really like her new costume that has been designed with less sex appeal in mind).

 

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03. DOCTOR STRANGE

HISTORY AND POWERS: Doctor Strange first debuted in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963) and was created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. Stephen Strange was an accomplished neurosurgeon who let his ego get in the way of everything. He was arrogant, abrasive, and cold. Still, he acquired a small fortune with his practice. When he ended up hurting his hands in a car accident and damaging his nerves beyond repair, his medical career was ended. Seeking a cure, Stephen spent his entire fortune and became penniless. Finally, he heard about someone called the “Ancient One” and spent the rest of his money securing travel to Tibet where he ended up helping to save the Ancient One from one of his mutinous students. The Ancient One took Stephen in as a pupil and taught him the mystical arts of magic as well as martial arts.

In addition to Doctor Strange being able to call upon the Vishanti for their magical aid, he also possesses the Eye Of Agamotto whose light is used to negate evil magic, as well as the Cloak Of Levitation, the Book Of The Vishanti, and the Orb Of Agamotto which all enable him to fly, give him the knowledge of white magic, and scry respectively.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Doctor Strange is pretty unique among the Marvel Universe heroes. He often hangs with them, and occasionally finds himself on a super-team, but mostly he is relegated to dealing with magical and supernatural threats to the universe. He doesn’t just fight costumed henchmen – he fights beings like Dormammu, a dangerous flame-skulled demoniac sorcerer from a dark dimension. Strange also used to be super-arrogant but after years of training and humility this went away only to recently resurface somewhat. I like the fact that we get to see all the cool magical threats that the heroes of Earth would have to try and contend with if Doctor Strange wasn’t around. All the cool spell names that Strange spouts during battle, and all the really cool dimensions he travels through is just great to read and look at as a comic book fan like myself.

 

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02. SCARLET WITCH

HISTORY AND POWERS: Scarlet Witch first debuted in X-Men #4 (March 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Wanda Maximoff was born at the High Evolutionary’s base on Mount Wundagor (where Spider-Woman was kept in stasis for decades) with her brother Pietro (Quicksilver), both mutants. Growing up with Gypsy parents, their encampment was eventually attacked and the mutant known as Magneto came to their aid (who was actually their father) and pressed her and her brother into service in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Eventually, she and her brother joined up with the Avengers, disillusioned by Magneto’s mission.

Scarlet Witch was born with the mutant power to control “hex” spheres which alter the probability of any given situation. She can also employ mutant Chaos Magic, granted her by the demon Chthon so she can manipulate magical forces. In addition to her mutant magic and reality altering/warping abilities, Wanda is also a skilled hand-to-hand fighter having been trained by Captain America and Hawkeye and she is a skilled tactician due to her combat experience on the field over the years.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: Scarlet Witch has always been fascinating to me, even above Dr. Strange. I love that Strange uses magic, but for a while – it wasn’t exactly clear WHAT Scarlet Witch was capable of. Her powers seemed like magic, but she didn’t utter any actual spells like Doctor Strange until later on when other writers got their hands on her and better-defined her abilities. I love that she’s been such a constant member of the Avengers, and I love that she has a relationship with an android (Vision). On top of that, she’s a mutant and her dad is Magneto. I’ve always loved the brother-sister dynamic she shares with Quicksilver, and as a bonus – her costume was always really cool, really sexy, and always drew my eye. I would definitely read any solo title of hers that comes out but I also like to see her in the Avengers line up. It’s great that the writers have nailed down her abilities more over the years to make her live up to her namesake.

 

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01. SPIDER-MAN

HISTORY AND POWERS: Spider-Man first debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Young Peter Parker was an orphan being raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben when he was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him the proportionate abilities of the spider through his infected blood.

After the bite, Spider-Man was gifted with super strength (able to lift 10 tons), super agility (15 times agile than the normal human), and super endurance as well as his famed “Spider-Sense” which lets him dodge many attacks and warns him of impending danger.

In addition to this, Spider-Man is a gifted scientist and inventor, and has invented web shooters with synthetic webbing as well as Spider-Tracers attuned to his Spider Sense. He swings around New York City fighting crime and helping those in need, all while trying to hold down a job.

WHY I LOVE THE CHARACTER: I’ve loved Spider-Man since I was three years old. He’s been a constant in my life, much more than some actual people I know. I learned to read from trying to follow his adventures, I got into drawing because I wanted to draw his cool costume. He’s had a profound effect on my life though he’s only a character in a comic book.

Aside from that, Spider-Man is just all-around cool. His costume is iconic and great, his powers are really neat, and he’s HUMAN. Most of all, he’s HUMAN. He struggles constantly, and he often doesn’t come out on top. Still, no matter what, he gives it his best shot. He does what he thinks is right no matter what the cost.

Another aspect I love about Spider-Man is his humor. Before the whole Deadpool craze recently, Spider-Man was the resident Marvel clown. Now, he’s taken a back seat to the crazy antics of Deadpool, though I prefer Spidey’s sense of humor to Deadpool’s. Spider-Man isn’t as in-your-face, and often while he’s fighting a villain he’ll spout one-liners that will make you, as the reader, grin.

In conclusion, I’d like to add that this list is my own personal list and obviously not anything official aside from it being my own personal stance on the characters. I’d love to hear in the comments who your own favorites are, or if you agree with my list at all. I look forward to doing another of these Top Ten lists in the future!

UPDATE!

Posted on March 12, 2015

For the record, I know I haven’t posted anything in about a week (I think it’s been that long, anyway) but it’s been a combination of me being busy and being sick. Being sick has mostly been the past four or five days. I have this nasty chest cold that just won’t go away. (Hence the picture of me as a zombie headlining this post because, hey – that’s how I feel right now.)

However, I still have some pretty cool upcoming posts. Here are a few examples of what’s coming your way from me soon:

  • Another couple of Friend Files interviews from some cool people I know.
  • Another Cosplay Confessions interview (and I have a bunch lined up, too!).
  • I’m starting another feature called Top Ten which will be used to highlight some of my favorite things in life. I’m working on one that features my Top Ten Favorite Marvel Comics Characters. I’m excited about that one and curious to see who your own favorite Marvel characters are. (Don’t worry, I’m doing a DC Comics one as well.)
  • I have another Eight Simple Questions Interview planned for this month.
  • I also have a couple stories about my childhood coming up as well. One about my time in the foster care system and one about the summer I pretty much lived on a farm in Dixfield, Maine against my will.

So, yep – I have a lot of stuff on my plate but I’m excited to have this much to write about. (And I can’t keep neglecting my review site, either.)

Oh, and in case some of you missed it – there is an online ‘Zine called UPENDER that re-posted my Chrono Trigger opinion piece under their banner. The editor, T.C. Porter, is a stand-up guy. You can see the newer version HERE.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I need to go out and enjoy the sun and try to get some fresh air into these blocked nostrils. Until next time.

-Joe