“Read a Damn Book – 126: Adventure Time – Marceline and the Scream Queens”

Okay… I’m old. I was born in 1972, and I don’t have my finger on the pulse of popular culture in the same way that most folks do anymore. (I arrested in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. That’s MY era!) In fact, I’m pretty shielded from a great many things that are part of the collective psyche because I don’t have cable or satellite t.v., and in fact, I spend most of my time reading or writing or drawing, and I only occasionally bother with new t.v. shows—usually when someone shoves a DVD at me and says I have to watch it. And, now that my “kids” are in their 20s and off starting careers and families of their own, I don’t even get that little bit of exposure to animated shows that I used to get when the kids were at home watching t.v. all the time.

What I’m getting at is—as impossible as some of you may find this—I’ve never watched Adventure Time. I don’t know anything about it, other than the fact that my older daughter loves the show. I don’t know what it’s about. I don’t know any of the regular characters, and I don’t even know for sure if it’s a kids’ show, like Spongebob or Pokemon, that my older daughter likes out of some kind of childhood nostalgia, or if it’s an “adult” cartoon, like Family Guy or Archer, that is meant to entertain a more sophisticated (and more sick) viewer. Regardless, my daughter, Frankie, handed me this book and told me that I needed to read it, and that I would really enjoy it! I said that I didn’t know anything about the show, and she assured me that it didn’t matter… So I gave the book a shot. (She’s usually pretty accurate at guessing what I’m going to enjoy…)

marceline and the scream queens (2014) - (peg)
[This is a photograph that I took of the actual book that I read. The image is included for review purposes only!]

Meredith Gran and others – Adventure Time – Marceline and the Scream Queens (2014)

Right off the bat, I’m going to say this: the book is very nicely designed. The edition I looked at is a hardcover collection, with a really cool embossed cover. The book collects a six-issue mini-series, written and drawn by Meredith Gran with colors by Lisa Moore, and the second half of the book is a series of short stories written and drawn by a variety of folks. And, to add additional value, this book also includes all the covers from the original mini-series, including variants, and a slug of production and concept art. It’s a very cool, comprehensive collection that really shows how dedicated the publisher, KaBOOM!, was to the project.

Beyond just the production values, I have to say I really enjoyed the book. Gran’s artwork is simplified, cartoony, and humorous to look at (reminiscent of James Kochalka or early Marc Hempel), and I found it to be a great vehicle for telling this story. (Although the second half of the book was by various artists, these short bits were also well drawn, in a variety of “indie” cartoony styles, and they were all pretty good, well executed and appropriate to the tales they were telling. The shorts were worth reading, but not the main attraction. The Scream Queens story was definitely the star feature, and Gran’s artwork was excellent. Her facial expressions, though created using just a few lines, were fantastic and very entertaining, exactly what I want in a book like this. (I’m seeing a lot of manga tropes moving into American comic art at this point, which I think is a good thing.)

The story—and again, I’m completely new to Adventure Time and have no idea which characters appear regularly in the cartoon and which were created just for this tale—the story is about a vampire, Marceline, who puts together an indie/punk band of supernatural creatures who go on tour through a number of strangely themed “lands.” Early in the tale, as Marceline performs at the “Candy Castle,” a character named Princess Bubblegum (who I’m guessing is a regular in the show???) becomes enamored with Marceline’s band, and Bubblegum decides that she’s going to put her princess duties on hold so she can go on tour with the Scream Queens as the band’s tour manager. The primary tension in the story comes from Marceline, who wants to be a big star—but also doesn’t want to lose her “punk” cred—and the competition-slash-friendship that develops between Marceline and Bubblegum for control of the band’s direction.

One of the interesting elements of the book is how Marceline deals with her critics, who are ruthless (as critics tend to be.) When she reads a bad review, she turns into a giant rage monster, which is pretty funny. She also has trouble understanding that, despite the critical trashing, her FANS enjoy her performances. To me, this seems like a pretty solid comment on how just about anyone feels who shares their creative work with the world. You tend to ignore the hundreds of people who are happy with your work and hyper-focus on the handful who leave negative comments or down-vote your contributions. Gran nailed it with that one.

Overall, the book is very fun. I enjoy the main story quite a bit, which has a strange paranormal romance side-plot and lots of absurdist weirdness throughout. The second half of the book, which has a definite anthology feel, is also fun, although I’m not familiar with many of the characters in these secondary tales, so I’m pretty sure I missed a lot. The book is still funny, though, even for someone who doesn’t know the characters. I’m assuming, if I knew who these weird creatures are and what they mean to the Adventure Time universe, I would probably have enjoyed the stories even more. (It hasn’t really made me want to watch the t.v. show, though, but I wouldn’t be averse to reading another book in the series, and I would definitely read more work by Meredith Gran.) The tone of this book, overall, really did remind me of the 1990’s and early 2000’s indie humor comic titles that I used to read by folks, such as James Kochalka or Steven Weissman (who did some classic books, like Tykes and Yikes and Champs and stuff…) This book doesn’t really cuss much, preferring to replace cuss words with “lump” or other weird phrases (so you get stuff like “lump yeah!”) In addition, there isn’t any nudity or overt sexual content, so I would argue that the work is probably safe for even middle schoolers to read, but it doesn’t FEEL completely like a kids’ book to me. (Maybe Y.A.? I’m not sure…)

If you’re thinking about reading Marceline and the Scream Queens, it is available on the big A for about $15 bucks in paperback format, or this hardcover edition looks like (as of 13 Dec. 2018) it’s on SALE for less than $25 (USD), although it’s usually closer to $40 bucks when it’s not on sale! (I think my daughter bought the book for about $20 when we were at a cool event, called the I Like Comic Con, in Vancouver, Washington, USA, back in February. We’re looking forward to this years’ event, as well, but as of today, there isn’t any information about when—or IF—it’s going to happen… Only two months away and no word yet on if it’s even going to occur? That’s not a good sign…) (Sorry—a bit of a tangent there…)

And that’s about it for this review! Thanks, Frankie, for another great reading suggestion! (Now I need to read those Joss Wheadon Serenity comics you let me borrow!) If you, dear reader, have any questions about the book I reviewed or any of the names I dropped in the text, let me know! Otherwise, thanks for reading!!!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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“Shopping Icon (For French Dip Fixins)” by Richard F. Yates

shopping icon... (12 dec. 2018) by rfy - (peg)

When preparing to go shopping, it’s important to create an icon that can help you navigate the situation and complete your goals. (Of course, if you already have a spirit creature or deity that you shop with, use them. This post is for those folks without pre-existing spirit helpers.)

My spirit critter for this trip is a golem (although my wife said she thought it looked like an alien—but who shops with an alien???) I gave him large eyes to help me find my ingredients and no mouth, so I didn’t have to talk to anyone while shopping. I also gave him solid arms to help carry the groceries to the car. I didn’t name him, of course, because I didn’t want him to be TOO permanent. I really only need him for this trip.

AND—off I went to the store!

I didn’t have to talk to anyone, so that was nice—and I found everything I needed, even though the shop was out of the type of hoagie that I usually get, but at least I was able SPOT that the usual bread product was out of stock. I’d say the golem worked nicely!

Do YOU have any specific magic that you use when you shop or have to go into public? If so, comment below!!!

Thanks for stopping by!!!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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“Yule Ball @ The Longview Public Library (With Playlist)” by Richard F. Yates

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Howdy folks! Last night was the Yule Ball at the local library (in my home town—Longview, Washington, U.S.A.), and I was asked to DJ. I really enjoy playing music at these types of events because I get a kick out of watching little kids dance, and we did have a few dancers hit the floor, but not as many as we’ve had at some gigs. That’s okay, though, because most of the folks in attendance seemed to have a good time, anyway.

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The event was Harry Potter themed, and the organizers had a bunch of stuff for folks to do (besides just dancing.) They had crafts rooms, where people could make wands and snitches and such, and there were snacks, like cookies and butter beer.

One of the cool things about the Longview Public Library, on the lower floor they have a display area, called The Koth Gallery, where local artists can show work. They have paintings or photography or print making displays all the time, which I think is pretty cool. This time, there was a group show by a bunch of quilters, many of the pieces with holiday themes. I’m a fan of quilts, anyway, but these were especially good!

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I probably should have done a full post on these cool pieces of art, but I only had a few minutes to snap some pics before I had to set up my gear and start playing tunes…

Speaking of setting up gear, I WAS able to find a helper and a dolly, so I didn’t have to pack the speakers myself (which is good because, as I mentioned in a post yesterday, I threw my crummy back out fighting with a tumble dryer the day before.) Thanks Adam!!! And, my older daughter (Frankie) and her husband (Alec), who are both huge Harry Potter fans, came to the event, they made some wands and had a good time, and they were willing to help me tear down and pack everything out when it was all over! Thanks Frankie and Alec!!!

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[That’s me in my purple wizard outfit, by the way…]

So here’s what you folks are probably all asking yourself: “What did you play???” (One of the librarians who was stuck downstairs asked me this as I was packing gear out.) I stuck with three primary themes: Christmas music, Harry Potter, and magic. Here’s the final playlist…

—John Williams – “Prologue to _Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone_”
—John Williams – “Christmas at Hogwarts”
—fun. – “Sleigh Ride”
—Bill Haley & His Comets – “Jingle Bell Rock”
—Gary Glitter – “Another Rock and Roll Christmas”
—Queen – “A Kind of Magic”
—Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rappin'”
—“Weird” Al Yankovic – “Christmas at Ground Zero”
—Pilot – “Magic”
—The Weird Sisters – “Do the Hippogriff”
—The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping”
—Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”
—The Jackson 5 – “Up on the House Top”
—The Shins – “Wonderful Christmastime”
—Tino – “Christmas in Hawaii”
—The Beach Boys – “Little Saint Nick”
—Burl Ives – “A Holly Jolly Christmas”
—America – “You Can Do Magic”
—Billy Squier – “Christmas is the Time to Say ‘I Love You'”
—Stevie Wonder – “What Christmas Means to Me”
—John Williams – “Harry’s Wonderous World”
—The Penguins – “Jingle Jangle”
—Leif & Harrison Schaaf – “Black Magic”
—Britney Spears – “My Only Wish (This Year)”
—Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – “Jingle Bells”
—P.S.S. – “The First Noel”
—Harry Connick, Jr. – “Santa Claus”

That’s it! There are a bunch of songs that I would have loved to have played, but it was a “family friendly” event (so mc chris was out), and I only had an hour and a half to play tunes. Still, it was fun, even though the event wasn’t as packed with people as some of the events I’ve DJed at the library. (They still ran out of butter beer and cookies before the night was over…)

And, as always, I’m happy to volunteer my time to help out the library. I used the heck out of that place as a kid, and I’m glad that I now have an opportunity to show my gratitude! Libraries are important to a community, and I think it’s essential that we support them whenever and however we can. (I’m poor as hell, but I can play tunes, so that’s what I do!)

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So, there you go. Support your local library, go check out local artists when they have artwork showing near you, and don’t be afraid to play a goofy pop song, if it means little kids are going to have a good time! Happy holidays!!!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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“A Casualty of the Battle” by Richard F. Yates

After yesterday’s awesome and vicious struggle against the tumble dryer (and the forces of tyranny,) I not only lost the battle but am now suffering some post-trauma from my actions. Last night, at approximately 3:00 A.M., I woke with a nasty pain in the back. (My back isn’t good thanks to years of packing DJ gear and heavy speakers up and down stairs.) I felt pretty okay when I went to bed but…

Yep…I threw my back out. Always a joy. I flipped and flopped (slowly and carefully and trying not to make so much noise that I woke Mariah up,) and I got up to take some pain pills and then I went back to bed and tried to find a position to lay in that wasn’t super-painful… I tried reading, I tried clearing my mind, but for some reason, I kept coming back to one particular word—“Ouch.”

(Oddly, when I got up to take the pain pills, one of the living room windows was open… So it either blew open because it wasn’t latched all the way, or maybe we had a ghost or something come in. Our house is tiny, so I knew there wasn’t a burglar, and the screen was still on the window, so it wasn’t an extremely aggressive mosquito… Probably just the wind…or a ghost…)

Anyway, today, I’ve got laundry to do (which I have to pack to my older daughter’s house because of our busted dryer,) and this evening I’m volunteering my time as a DJ for the local library, who are throwing a Harry Potter themed Christmas party. I always have a good time playing music for kids (I DJ at the library a couple of times a year—my favorite gig, of course, is usually the Halloween party!) but setting the gear up today (and getting it from my car to the second floor) is going to be a challenge! Hopefully, an able bodied young person can do the heavy lifting!!!

Okay, enough complaining! I’ve got to go work on some laundry, get my music together for the party, and do some E.V.P. recordings to see if the ghost that came in through the window last night is friendly or not! Later!!!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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“Crypto-Art Trading Cards! (An Update and Some Whining!)” by Richard F. Yates

Howdy folks! Fighting off a major funk today… I spent a large portion of the morning trying to resuscitate a dead tumbler dryer. (I eventually had to stop and order some new parts, which will be here in a week or so… Meaning I’ll have to TRAVEL to do laundry until I can get the machine running again, which SUCKS! And, of course, right as the holidays get here, I’m having to spend extra money, unexpectedly, to repair a major appliance. Lovely…)

Anyway, the best way to combat the HORRORS OF LIFE is with ART (or so I’ve heard it said.) With straight-up therapy in mind, I decided to work on some new CRYPTO-ART TRADING CARDS (which I love making because they remind me of the fun cards I collected as a kid!) Here’s what I’ve come up with for today (granted, a few of these are from a couple of days ago, but I’m sure most folks haven’t seen them yet. In fact, I’m sure most folks won’t see THIS post either! Ha! But, as Camus says, we can roll over and die or we can scream into the void. I’m opting for creative screaming!) All of these DIGITAL TRADING CARDS are available to purchase as limited edition, rare digital objects through my store at MakersPlace!!!

“Self Portrait (Waiting)” – CPTC – STM1 – 6
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This is the 6th card in my Steemit Special Series, so designated because the Steemit platform seems to have an easier time with landscape formatted images (at least in my experience.) It’s kind of a sad self-portrait of me, but it fits my mood today, so we’ll go with it. (Only 10 of these cards will ever be printed!)

“Fruit Stripe Snake” – CPTC – STM1 – 5
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Some of you might have seen this card already, as it was released about three days ago. Regardless, I think it’s funny, so I’m posting it again! (Only 10 of these cards will ever be printed, too! Imagine if Topps only printed 10 copies of Obi Wan Kenobi’s card back in 1977. That thing would be worth a FORTUNE today!!!)

“Blue Coyote (Var. 1 – The Colorfields)” – S2 #7a
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Here’s one of the newest cards in my 2nd Series. It stars Blue Coyote, the psychic guru. (If you want to read about his exploits, you can do so at the MakersPlace store. Most of my cards have a weird little story that goes with them, either explaining what’s happening in the image or talking about how I made the piece. It’s really fascinating stuff—way more interesting than the news or whatever you might be thinking about watching on the YooToobs…) (This card is available in an edition of 10, and that’s all that’s ever gonna be printed. Get ‘um while they’re HOT!)

“Blue Coyote (Var. 2 – Ice World” – S2 #7b
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Taking a cue from the late 80s / early 90s comic collecting boom, here is a VARIANT CARD!!! (You remember how awesome those were, right???) Anyway, there’s a silly story explaining what’s happening in this image at the MakersPlace store, but more importantly, this particular card is being release in a limited edition of 1 (that’s O-N-E!!!) card. Only printing one, ever, at all. Once it’s gone, you’ll NEVER be able to complete your collection (unless you can buy it off the guy that got it first—and he’s kind of a jerk, so you know he’s going to make you pay through the nose… Man—I wish he was more reasonable….) There you go. Just one of these cards in the entire universe.

“Long Bird” – S2 #6
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This is a weird one, and (I think) a pretty fun one. It’s got a super-primitive image, repeated with some variation, and some actual TEXT in there ta boot! (It hits all the bases for a Richard F. Yates creation!) Not everyone gets what I’m doing, but I really enjoy this type of simple, weird, rough art. Maybe it’s from having come up in the punk scene? Maybe it’s from spending all those years making and sending out postal art? I don’t know…but it’s what I like!

And that’s it for this round. If you get a chance to visit the store, don’t forget to check out all the other trading cards and rare digital pieces I’ve got up, and then come back and tell me what you thought! (If it’s a mean enough insult, I might even make it into a t-shirt!!! That’d be pretty cool.)

You know what? I WAS having a pretty awful day—but now that I’ve done some art and written some snotty comments, I feel better. It worked! Good… (At least SOMETHING works around this place! Ha!!!) Thanks for stopping by and listening to me whine for a bit! Now go buy some art!!! (Or make your own and tell me where you’ve put it so I can come see it!!!) Later!!!!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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“Lunar Powered Wind Resistance Snake Feeding Contraption” by Richard F. Yates

[December 2018 – Digital drawing.]

This device (patent pending) is designed to catch the angry puffing of the frustrated moon by means of the revolutionary, non-spinning fan blades. This negative-kinetic energy then passes through a “blue” cooling area, past the inevitable skeptical observer, and into a standard, multi-dimensional “pink” furnace, where the energy is tormented until it reaches maximum zippitude. It then exits the furnace through the bifurcated spigot and lands in the snake feeding sluice (usually within one to three months of inition “moon puff.”)

Yes, you’ll never have to feed your snake solar food again thanks to this marvelous, soon to be essential, Lunar Powered Snake Feeding Contraption. Available in two, classic colors: Artic Blue or Metallic Pea! Order yours today!

—Richard F. Yates

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“Making Sugar Cookies”

cookies 1 - (peg)

Yesterday, my wife (Mariah) and older daughter (Frankie) decided it was time to make some holiday goodies. They made peanut butter fudge, Heath fudge, peppermint bark fudge, and…ummmm…sugar cookies. Frank, who is 25, married, and expecting, bought some cookie cutters, with a fox, a llama, and a deer as templates.

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What they created with these templates would haunt H. P. Lovecraft’s nightmares!!!

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Yeah…. It turns out that my family is a bit sick in the brain. The younger daughter (Elise, who is 21 years old) suggested the “poop” cookie. Mariah tells me that Elise came up with several of the design ideas, but Frankie executed them, and Frankie was obviously influenced by Monsters Inc for some of the color schemes. The nightmare deer with the severed feet was, I believe, an accident—but they all thought it was funny!

And, being an old, fat guy, I thought the dang cookies TASTED great! (Sadly, I ate SEVEN before bedtime yesterday….but not the footless deer. That one’s too much, even for me. (Ha!)

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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