And Now……We Have a Logo!

When Nora and I started this journey, it was simply to chronicle the two of us finding love in comics and sharing a hobby together. We have achieved that and our love for each other and comics grow more and more each day. One of the best things that came out of starting Noggin Comics, is finding a place in the comic community and the relationships that we have created over the last couple years. On May 27th, the kindness of the comic community shined bright as a great friend gifted us with something that was much needed….. a logo!

Created by the amazing artist Jaime Coker and his wife Trisha (she deserve so much love) this logo is a perfect representation of Noggin Comics. The brain represents me, no thats not saying I am genius or anything in a cocky nature. The brain ties into the name Noggin but it also represents the idea of constant thinking and growth. The glasses represents Nora, as she is the geek and wears the glasses (she would say wear the pants as well) in the relationship, I joke. The glasses allow a perfect blend of the two of us. With the brain and glasses looking into a comic book, it crafts an idea of who we are.

This logo not only represents us, but I believe it represents the comic community as a whole. This logo shows the kindness and friendships that come from this community. There is seriously no other community like the comic community.

Thank you so much for creating this logo Jaime and Trisha. It will always be a part of us!

MPLS Sound Proves the Sound Will Live on Forever

When asked what is your favorite Prince song? I struggle to answer that question, it changes every day. One day, it could be “Partyman” from the Batman soundtrack and the next day it would be “The Morning Papers” from the Love Symbol album. As a Minnesotan, a day does not pass by without being influenced by Prince and to be honest the last five years Minnesota has not been the same. When it comes to Prince and comics, there is a connection that goes beyond his soundtrack for Batman. The late great Dwayne McDuffie and the amazing Denys Cowan worked on Prince comics and in the upcoming Batman 89′ series, a character based off of Prince’s design from “Partyman” and “Batdance” music videos. But, no other graphic novel or comic has ever captured what Prince meant to Minnesota and music as well as MPLS Sound.

Life Drawn by Humanoids, Jen Bartel

Co-writers Joseph P. Illidge and Hannibal Tabu and artist Meredith Laxton create a fictional tale in an environment and era of music that proves to be perfect for a graphic novel treatment. Growing up in Minnesota, the Minneapolis sound has influenced the music that comes out from our state. Let’s be honest, while you are listening to “Juice” by Lizzo or “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars or anything by Janelle Monáe, you are hearing hints of Prince and the Minneapolis sound. MPLS Sound is able to capture that with the creation of the band Starchild.

After a very well written forward by Josh Jackson, the co-founder and president of Paste Magazine, we are introduced to Starchild, a band filled of all different personalities and provides a great reminiscence of The Revolution. Theresa, the lead singer who comes across a poster for Prince’s Controversy while walking home from the market, feels inspired to create a band herself. Joined by her church choir singer Ezzie, rock musician and guitarist James, Dani the drummer that has never been apart of a band, the keytar player Slim, a classically trained pianist that loves Funkadelic, Lizzie and Theresa’s brother Ellis on bass.

Meredith Laxton, MPLS Sound

MPLS Sound tells the story of how a band found success during the eighties in Minneapolis, with Starchild having to create a record to get on the radio and catching the eye of the purple yoda himself. As the band continues to find success, they have battle of the bands with Morris Day & The Time. (for those who didn’t grow up in Minnesota or on Purple Rain, they are the band at the end of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) After giving a hell of a performance and a night that Morris Day would never forget.

After being giving the chance of a lifetime, Starchild has to choose between fame or keeping their identity. In a story that felt like a tribute to Prince, turns into a story that would make Prince proud with the theme of staying true to yourself. The creative team could have spent the whole time focusing on Prince, but they did the complete opposite and that is a major benefit for the story. The Minneapolis sound is truly the main character of this story and Prince is only in the book for a few panels despite playing a major part in the story.

By the time the story was over, I was attached to every character and at certain points felt a tear rolling down my face. Joseph P. Illidge and Hannibal Tabu’s script has great pacing and they truly created great characters. The only problem that MPLS Sound has is the fact that it could have added more pages for character development and the desire of more story. It’s not a bad problem to want more from a story.

I do wonder how much I would love this book if I was not a Minnesotan and a giant fan of Prince. But the cover alone from Jen Bartel (also a Minnesotan) should recommend this graphic novel to anyone. So throw on your favorite Prince album, find some purple tinted lights and read this book!

Getting Beefy with Beef Bros

Two beefy dudes fighting against the corrupt cops, slumlords and greedy businesses could perfectly sum up this pancake filled action romp by Aubrey Sitterson and Tyrell Cannon.

Aubrey Sitterson & Tyrell Cannon, Beef Bros

When I saw this book on Kickstarter it was a definite must back, the curiosity was sparked and knew I had to read this story. Aubrey Sitterson previously wrote No One Left to Fight for Dark Horse and the brilliant Comic Book History of Professional Wrestling, I knew this story was in the perfect hands.

Huey and Ajax are the Beef Bros, two “yoked up” brothers that can bounce bullets off their chest. All Huey and Ajax want is love among all people, some free weights, a crap ton of pancakes and affordable living for all. You read that correctly, they want to get the “unhoused” into homes and that is what carries this insane yet very charming story.

Tyrell Cannon’s artwork seriously pops off the page with the help of coloring by Fico Ossis. There are moments in the story that it feels like you hopped into a DeLorean and traveled back to the mid 90’s cartoon greatness. The concept and art for Beef Bros would have been perfect next to animated series like Freakazoid, Street Sharks and The Tick.

Overall this is a very fun book that tackles the Injustice and greed of America. Who knew that two beefy brothers could speak the words of wisdom. This beefer looks forward to see if this story continues, with an ending that leaves the door open for more. I, for one would be ready to for one more set.

Don’t Think You Understand….

Facebook and Twitter are a cesspool of hatred and racism. Yes, I open this blog up with a very bold yet obvious statement, but it’s true and it’s very apparent in nerd culture. It’s never going to stop nor do we have to the power to shut out negativity, but we do have the ability to overpower it.

For example, a recent post on the official Batman Facebook page, shared an image of the show Batwoman. This image was of Javicia Leslie in full Batwoman outfit stating that she is the first black lesbian superhero lead on a television show and the first black actress to play Batwoman. As of 6:16 PM on February 25th, this post had 3500 reactions with 2100 of them laughing at the post. Which honestly is quite sad. I understand if you don’t like the show but truth be told, Javicia is doing one hell of a job in the show. Before seeing the post, the original idea of this blog was to be about the massive improvement that Batwoman has had from season 1 to season 2. But it was heartbreaking to see the amount of hatred aimed towards Batwoman and Javicia.

While I stepped away to collect my thoughts and try to find a way to address the problem in a well stated matter, one more example of utter stupendous Facebook interaction happened with the most recent reveal of Blackfire in the HBO Max show Titans. When the better half showed me the costume and character design, my first reaction was “damn that’s George Perez’s art come to life”…. but the comment section decided to be ugly with comments like “No, it’s starfire” and “So every superhero is going to be black or brown”. Seeing stuff like that in a community that was built on characters that taught us values and how to be good people, really make you question, do they understand?

As comic book readers and fans of super heroes, we should know “with great power comes great responsibility” and to spread positivity is among our greatest responsibilities and powers. It’s easy to hate on something you don’t agree with, but it’s fulfilling to express love about something. Trust me, you’ll feel better with positive thoughts opposed to negative thoughts.

The man that many of us idolize, Stan Lee, championed for diversity and for over 40 years, he would address racism and bigotry in his soapbox in the pages of Marvel Comics. The characters that he helped create were allegories for women’s rights, racism, and social injustice. X-Men and the mutants are the perfect example of comic book characters fighting against bigotry. To argue that we need to remove politics and social events from comics, is a slap in the face to comics. Right from the beginning, comics were addressing social problems. Superman was created by two Jewish guys who were sick of the bullying and on the cover of Captain America, he was punching Hitler in the face. So to be blunt, if you don’t like these ideas in your comics, hate to break the news to you but you don’t know comics and are about 100 years late with that rhetoric.

I will never know the feeling of being represented by a superhero for the first time because most of the characters are white, as a kid I had Spider-Man, Batman and Superman. Now nearing my thirties, characters such as Miles Morales, John Stewart, Jessica Cruz, and most recently Yaya Flor from Future State: Wonder Woman are more interesting to me because of what they represent. I remember being eight years old when Static Shock was showing on WB Kids, it was one of my favorite shows and I never really understood why until I was much older. It was something new, it was giving us a character that was unlike anything else on tv and especially a cartoon. I truly believe we are in the midst of great creative changes in comics with writers, artists and characters representing everybody.

It warms the heart knowing that a young lady can turn on Batwoman, Titans , or Stargirl and feel represented. Seeing young kids look at characters like Black Panther and Falcon as their favorite superheroes is such a glorious thing. As comic fans, we should try our best to entertain these changes and not be afraid of a strong character that does not represent us. The world is always changing and things will always be different, but comics have proved over the last century to be a suitable outlet to represent the world.

It can be debated that it was not suitable at first with characters such as Ebony White in The Spirit being incredibly racist and offensive, and many other examples can be made. With the likes of characters such as Miles Morales, American Chavez, and Kamala Kahn who have become major influential characters in Marvel comics, the relationship of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn being explored in DC Comics and some characters being retconned to being a part of the LGBTQ community, we are looking at a beautiful and enlightened future for comics.

We don’t own these characters, the publishers and creators do (in some cases). So let’s say a character you like, were to change their gender, their ethnicity or their sexual orientation, there is not a damn thing you can do about it. You could stop buying the comic and merchandise associated with that character, but with that change that pissed you off and made you stop supporting it, that character would find a new audience on top of those that already supported it. Who knows, that change could reinvigorate a character that has become stall and give it much needed new life.

If you have made it this far into this blog and disagree with everything I have said, that’s normal, you feel attacked and I am now probably on your “shit list” but before you cast judgement, let me say this; We can have different beliefs and still have respect for one another, no one person is the same, so thank you for reading this and I hope you understand where I am coming from. It does not matter if we are thousands of miles apart or a very close friend or family member, we are different and I respect you.

February’s Reading Report

So here we are again, the second month of 2021 is over. One year has passed since our last comic convention, it’s been one year since we were at a movie theater watching Birds of Prey, and it’s been one year since we ate inside a restaurant. It could have been a lot worse, did I miss out on college graduation after a ten year journey? Yes, but hey here we are alive and well with a slew of comics and the brilliance of Wandavision.

So what did I read during February? Well certainly not as much as I did in January but that was not a bad thing. A graphic novel was not touched until the 10th, got distracted by a book on the independent wrestling scene. Which would provide a little foreshadowing to how I would finish the month. Unlike last month, this month was not driven by all Marvel. 13 graphic novels were read throughout the month.

The first book of the month was that of Marvel Graphic Novel #18 which was Sensational She-Hulk by John Byrne which was really enjoyable. One of the coolest things about this book, is also the books biggest weakness and that being the sexualization of Jen Walters. That being said, reading it through the lenses of someone reading it in 1985, the sexualization is a sign of the time. After reading this, we went to a local comic shop and picked up volume one of Dan Slott’s run. A very surprising read would follow in the Mark Millar love letter to eighties with Marvel 1985.

Now usually I am pretty positive person but this next read was difficult to get through, being a fan of Robert Kirkman, it was only fitting to dive into The Infinite. The problem being is Rob Leifeld’s artwork, it just didn’t work for me. Overall I cannot recall what happened in the book, which is never a great sign for a comic. I would read another Kirkman graphic novel with the horror action Haunt volume 1 with amazing artwork by Todd McFarlane, Ryan Ottley, and Greg Capullo. A little side note, currently we are pulling three brilliant Kirkman books with Walking Dead Deluxe, Oblivion Song ( which is coming to an unfortunate end) and Fire Power.

So every month, the goal is to read at least one WTF book and one classic that I have never read. This month, the WTF book would have been The Infinite until later in the month I read Superman Vs. Predator. It was not a bad book at all, but it was certainly a book that was unique and different from the book I would usually read. Although the book did feature some awesome work from Alex Maleev. The classic for this month would be the Mephisto Vs. storyline from 1987 by Al Milgrom and John Buscema.

Some Indie highlights from this month would have to be three awesome and different books. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night from Benemoth Comics, book does not feature much dialogue but the art is stunning and haunting. Abbott from Image Comics by the brilliant author Saladin Ahmed, which was a great book that I am looking forward to seeing future installments. And the final book would be the last book read in February and the perfect way to cap the month. Headlocked :Tales from the Road that featured thirteen short stories co-written by professional wrestlers and Michael Kingston. The likes of Samoa Joe, Joey Janela, Rob Van Dam and The Young Bucks join Kingston. Despite some great books this month, Headlocked: Tales from the Road was the most fun I had reading. (Look out for a review potentially on this book)

Books read in February: 2/10) Sensational She Hulk (Marvel Graphic Novel #18) by John Byrne, 2/14) Marvel 1985 by Mark Millar and Tommy Lee Edwards, 2/15) The Infinite by Robert Kirkman and Rob Leifeld, 2/15) Nightwing: Year One by Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon, and Scott McDaniel, 2/16) SuperGirl: Being Super by Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones, 2/19) Mephisto Vs. by Al Milgrom and John Buscema, 2/20) A Girl Walks Gome Alone at Night by Anna Lily Amipour and Michael Deweese, 2/21) Abbott by Sladin Ahmed, Sami Kivela, and Jason Wordie, 2/21) Haunt vol 1 by Robert Kirkman, Todd McFarland, Ryan Ottley, and Greg Capullo, 2/21) Superman Vs. Predator by David Michelinie, Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth, 2/22) America #2 Fast & Fuertona by Gabby Rivera, 2/23) Doctor Strange: The Oath by Brian K Vaughn and Marcos Martin, and 2/28) Headlocked: Tales From the Road by Micheal Kingston with various wrestlers and artists.

I would like to apologize if this blog seems like a mind bomb of thoughts, but we will get a better idea of how to do this monthly. But once again please let us know what you think if you have read any of those books and what did you think of them?

Wait, You Haven’t Seen That Yet: Green Lantern

In 2015, the better half had very little knowledge of comic book films, so over the last five years it’s been a flood of introducing her to these films. As we narrow down the list of films to be watched, we realized that the films left were among the so called “terrible” or “disappointing” films. Which inspired the idea of chronicling the experience of watching these films.

After dropping a poll in a Facebook group we belong to (shout out to the Minnesota Comic Squad) with the option of four films: Daredevil: Director’s cut, Ang Lee’s Hulk, Ghost Rider and Green Lantern. An hour passed after dropping the poll and Green Lantern would narrow out Ghost Rider. With three hours before Wandavision dropping, we started Green Lantern.

When it comes to Green Lantern knowledge, we both severely lack in that department. Besides reading Blackest Night, I’ve always gravitated towards John Stewart due to the animated Justice League series and recently being introducing Jo Mullein in Far Sector. Going into this film with little knowledge of the character may help with the somewhat positive viewpoints of the film.

I don’t want to add to the overall dislike of the film in the comic community. So I’ll just address a few issues, right now. The Green Lantern costume still may be the ugliest on screen, but that being said Ryan Reynolds was not bad as Hal Jordan. Parallax and Hector Hammond were both forgettable characters, especially with Parallax having the same fate as Galactus in Fantastic Four: The Rise of Silver Surfer (A film that will be watched and reported on soon). That being said, Peter Sarsgaard has moments where I can see a compelling villain, but the problem being not enough time with the character and a bad design (Big ass head). And the finally major issue with the film was the amount of wasted opportunity in the cast from Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller to Mark Strong as Sinestro.

The best part of the whole film has to be OA and the green lantern corps, despite the short time they are onscreen. In fact, when asking Nora, “What was your favorite part of the film?” without even thinking she said OA. Which got me thinking, yes she was right. On OA, we are introduced to three characters that with more screen time could have improved the film. Sinestro, Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush), and Kilawog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan). All three characters made us excited for the future Green Lantern series.

Watching in 2021, the first two things that popped in my mind was “Holy shit! Boba Fett is Abin Sur.” Also, “Holy shit! I forgot Taika Waititi was in this.” Another thing that happens watching this in 2021, is comparing Viola Davis and Angela Bassett in the role of Amanda Waller, which unfortunately for Bassett, I forgot she played Waller until rewatching this. Now, I do not think this film is terrible, as much as it is disappointing that had so much potential. Ryan Reynolds was alright as Hal Jordan, but for future live action adaptations it will be great to expand the universe such as John Stewart or Jo Mullein.

What film should we do next? Please add suggestions or comment on how you feel about Green Lantern ten years later.

Noggin’s January Reading Report

What a crazy damn month!!! January presented the end of 2020 (Finally!) but also presented an insurrection and an inauguration. It was the definition of a rollercoaster, many ups and many downs. So during the craziness, we had to find distractions with the premiere of WandaVision and the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to be the main driving force of our reading this month. Which inspired us or most likely just myself to keep track of what I read this month and maybe even this entire year.

In the course of 31 days, 23 graphic novels and a mini-series was read in between the release of new comics each week. A quick summary for those who like statistics (I am a stats guy) in January, Marvel comics dominated the reading with 15 stories, while TKO Studios and DC Comics both sharing 3 stories read. So lets dive into some of the highlights of January reading….

The month begun with the current wave of TKO Studios books. Kicked off 2021 with Lonesome Days, Savage Nights written by Steve Niles and art by Szymon Kudranski. Red Fork by Alex Paknadel and art by Nil Vendrell. And finally The Pull by Steve Orlando and art by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz. TKO Studios once again proved that they are a publication that continue to produce great stories, The Pull really stood out among the reading with the snappy dialogue and energetic artwork. I would recommend all three graphic novels for anybody looking to read something different from the usual.

Before talking about the books from the big two, I want to focus on the other two books. Blackbird by Sam Humphries and art by Jen Bartel from Image Comics and Kill A Man by Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson with art by Al Morgan from Aftershock Comics. Both books were read in one sitting with Kill A Man feeling perfect for a film adaptation. Also being from Minnesota and Blackbird being from two Minnesotans, had to dive into this magical story, that I hope will continue on in the future. Jen Bartel’s artwork is marvelous and adds fuel to the fire of wanting more of her artwork especially with her current work for Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman

Within the DC Universe, a universe that I love so much but recently have found myself distancing from, I only read three graphic novels in January. Usually my reading pile is filled with tales from Gotham and the Fourth World but this last month it was filled with randomness from the distinguished competition. Prez: Corndog in Chief by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell was the perfect read, Russell has become one of those writers that I have to chase down and find his books now. If you haven’t read Prez from 2015-2016, do yourself a favor and pick up this odd yet relevant book about a teenager that becomes the president.

Now comes the majority of my reading, the center of the universe right now for most of geeks, the Marvel Universe. Now to be completely truthful, WandaVision impacted my decision making, but I am so glad it did. After the first two wonderfully weird episodes of the show, I found myself diving into John Byrne’s West Coast Avengers: Vision Quest and absolutely loving everything about it. Now I am not the most well rounded reader of the Marvel Universe, so stories like this are brand new to me and discovering them for the first time was a perfect getaway. I mean come on, never would I have thought I would want to read more about the Great Lake Avengers but Vision Quest sparked an interest. But the adventures of Vision and Scarlet Witch were not the only Avengers to capture my intrigue.

In the most “WTF” decision of the month, reading Thor Vikings by Garth Ennis and Glenn Fabry felt like a nordic acid trip. It wasn’t bad, in fact it had my attention throughout the story, but had to keep asking myself “What the fuck am I reading right now?” Although reading the first complete collection of Thor by Jason Aaron, was like reinforcing the love I had for the God of Thunder. Reading this makes Thor Love & Thunder, one of my most anticipated MCU films with the introduction of Gorr the God Butcher.

Please let me know if you would like future installments of a monthly reading report. We would gladly appreciate any advice. Right now, we need the extra push to be creative and even recapping some reading in butchered grammar seems a step in the right direction.

The full list of stories read in somewhat chronological order : 1) Lonesome Days, Savage Nights by Steve Orlando and Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, 2) Red Fork by Alex Paknadel and Nil Vendrell, 3) The Pull by Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Al Morgan, 4) Silver Surfer Parable by Stan Lee and Jean “Moebius” Giraud, 5) Justice League Beyond: Konstriction by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, 6) Black Widow: The Complete Collection by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, 7) Blackbird by Sam Humphries and Jen Bartel, 8) Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, 9) Thor: The Complete Collection Vol.1 by Jason Aaron, 10) Prez: Corndog in Chief by Mark Russell and Ben Candwell, 11) Secret Invasion by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu, 12) Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road by James Robinson, 13) Hawkeye: All New Hawkeye by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez, 14) Hawkeye: Hawkeyes by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez, 15) Thor Vikings by Garth Ennis and Glenn Fabry, 16) Batgirl Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beaty, 17) West Coast Avengers: Vision Quest by John Byrne, 18) Scarlet Witch: World of Witchcraft by James Robinson, 19) Scarlet Witch: The Final Hex by James Robinson, 20) Ultimate Vision by Mike Carey, Mark Millar, Brandon Peterson and John Romita Jr. 21) The Vision: Yesterday and Tomorrow by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, 22) Contest of Champions: Battleworlds by Al Ewing and Paco Medina, 23) Darth Maul: Death Sentence by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, and 24) Kill A Man by Steve Orlando, Philip Kennedy Johnson and Al Morgan.