Vraska’s Contempt.

Seriously, it’s hard to tell who she wants those little guys to go after.

I haven’t spoken much about Anime club or the Magic: The Gathering group, so I felt like consolidating them into one post. Anime Club has settled into a regularly scheduled Friday meeting, and is generally pretty personable and enjoyable. There are some small “bugs” in the system that need to be worked out, but all in all, they are beginning to have functional, useful meetings.

Honestly, meetings where the whole point is to watch Anime are pretty hard to screw up. They have succeeded at that at least once, so I’m not letting anything go for granted on that front.

Anime Club has its official Yearbook photo happening on Friday, and the goal is for the membership to come either wearing Anime inspired clothes, or full on cosplay. We will see how that goes…teenagers are nothing if not forgetful.

The Magic: The Gathering group is smaller these days (graduating students) but much more efficient. We run a pretty efficient daily game, Monday through Thursday. They actually still play during Anime Club, albeit without me in the game. It’s a nice group, and I’m glad that it still exists, at least for now.

I’ve been playing a new deck, built around the Deathtouch mechanic, and the planeswalker card “Vraska the Unseen.” Vraska is in the art in Panel One, all “Manga Style.” One of her abilities is to bring out three 1/1 “Assassin tokens” that remove a player from the game if they do any damage to them at all…basically a “player deathtouch” mechanic. Those 1/1 tokens would be the weird chibi characters that she’s bossing around. That idea, (the assassin tokens) in tandem with the cards “Lure” and “Regeneration” make for regular swings in the flow of play, allowing all of a players cards, or even players themselves to be removed at the proverbial drop of a hat.

As my students are currently playing either creature dependent or life point gaining decks, they are rapidly learning to hate this deck. It undermines the entire combat phase, especially with cards like “Fog” and “Haze of Pollen”, which negate all combat damage. The universal deathtouch mechanic, mixed with that makes any of the basics of an entire phase of a person’s turn kind of a dicey, hard to predict play.

These are some of the very good parts of my day, and I thought that I would focus on them to start the week.


More Bravery, More Boldness!

Good job, Applejack! Cap looks she she could use a hand or two.

So, when I hit the drawing board today, in part it was in response to a bunch of contact from readers, wanting me to do some kind of illustration of the Nightwing team up. I hadn’t planned to, but there was a pretty large demand by “Tales of Adequacy” standards, so I started off with a kind of “Brave and the Bold” cover in mind. Ultimately, I decided to go without the cover treatment, mostly because I didn’t want to obscure any of the art.

I figured that I would stay closer to one of the big “issues” at the Edu-Mountain now, that I touched on in this past week’s posts. That issue of course, is the massive amount of marijuana being bought and sold on campus, which I had commented on. As I started drawing, I wanted to have some old school style gangsters, like from a mob movie, as the antagonists. This seemed problematic as I drew the piece, because Cap can bench press a @#$%ing mountain easily, and actually wouldn’t be very threatened by regular mafia guys.

Just so you know, I thought about it, and STILL decided to draw it.

Mysterio was the guy distributing the drugs in the drug PSA strip. Mysterio…a guy with enough lighting, visual effects, and chemical tricks up his sleeve that he regular @#$%s around with Spider-Man. In addition, he’s dealing drugs to the Edu-Mountain setting, suggesting that they are in fact Super Drugs (making them Super Illegal) and that his henchmen are probably super henchmen as well. It’s just endemic to the setting. Seriously, when the average Edu-knight is going to be super evolved from say, a mountain lion, and have the powers and strength of a great cat, you need a better grade of henchmen.

In fact, they are probably henchmen powered up by the various super drugs in comics (Venom, Mutant Growth Hormone, Miraclo, Goblin Formula), which Mysterio would in turn be the supplier…because almost all of those drugs are heavy handed allegories for Actual Drugs.

The point is…the dumb part is drawing a gun on Cap. That’s where the thugs here are dumb. Sure, they might have managed to knock her off her feet and make her mad, but she’s just going to laugh at that gun.

The adventure is pretty on point for the content that it covers, thematically. Mildly frustrating and bringing in only minor crooks, the kind of bust that usually STARTS off a Batman story. The low rung on the ladder guys that you beat up in a comic book to get information that goes somewhere…except Nightwing and Cap aren’t going to get any information. Presumably, at some point Cap gets a hold of her Hebrew Hammer, so that yesterday’s fancy Asgardian Dress would happen, but that’s mostly to look good for Nightwing.

Very sensible choice, that.

It was a fun piece to draw, and I’m very happy with it.

She’s Brave, He’s Bold.

Cap wore the fancy outfit for this team up. Tryin’ to look nice and all.

It has been a rough week. However, my report card grades are now submitted…so that is a pretty big weight removed from the schedule. That’s the ten week report card, so really I’m halfway through the semester.

Wednesday saw the administration of the PSAT exam during homeroom, which meant that Senior Class homerooms like mine had three hours with nothing to do. There was a well intentioned attempt at filling that time, which started with an on campus “college fair.” Only a few local universities attended that, and two community colleges. There was a pretty large contingent of military and emergency services recruitment, and an Adult School diploma equivalency option, so the non-college options at the College Fair strongly outweighed the collegiate options. Modestly disheartening. Parents on the West Side of Los Angeles would not be too happy with that.

After that, there was a senior meeting. That was unexpected, but also not all that useful. First, there was a “guest speaker” who is apparently one of the only Latino sorts reporters, and works for ESPN. His “message” waffled back and forth between a positive message of working hard to achieve your goals and not folding to obstacles, and one about how everyone assumes that all Latino are gang members, and that he currently makes a six figure salary. Wild swings between idealism and materialism, with a hefty dose of sarcasm toward the students during the question and answer segment. I’ll call that pretty unpleasant.

Then, students were told their A-G graduation requirements again, by the reading of a Power Point to the auditorium. End off with a statement about the importance of attendance, and you have my entire day, because all of the time wasted on that made each class only 22 minutes long.

Why is Old School Nightwing appearing for a team up, then? Good question.

First off, I wanted to draw something fun and positive, to just plain feel better with such a storm of weirdness this week. Secondly, Nightwing frequently busts drug dealers, which has apparently become something of a secondary cottage industry for me at school. The marijuana usage and trade at our school has gotten pretty much out of hand, and a few Edu-Lords have reached out to me for observation, intel, and supervision.

See, in the image above, the implication is that Nightwing and Cap teamed up, brought a serious @#$ whooping down on some Mega-Drug Lords peddling Ketracel White, and now Cap is making her move. Good story, happy ending. You know that even though Dick Grayson is a kung fu guy and an acrobat, he still brought useful detective work and @#$ whooping to that proverbial table, even though Cap can just bench press a mountain. Like an Old School “Brave and the Bold” issue.

At school though…the team up is not so elegant. People aren’t in place, and it pretty much turns into a one person show. I can put the kibosh on things actually happening, but the necessary “pincher effect” to actually catch and/or confiscate can’t really take place.

That’s a bummer.

Also, Cap hasn’t had any romance in the strip lately, and Nightwing was voted the Number One sexiest man in comics by Comics Alliance in 2013. He also has a pretty loyal following on that front at my Local Comic Book Shop, Pulp Fiction…so he seemed like a pretty good choice for a fling for Cap. Also for a fun, lighthearted image.


Traffic Patterns.

My experience on Wednesday was not this fun.

Driving to work has been a chore as of late. I would not be the first person to comment on the troubles inherent in the reality of commuting to work in Los Angeles, and I certainly won’t be the last. This highly sanitized post will be perhaps an interesting commentary on the realities of commuting.

On Wednesday morning, as usual, I was driving on the 10 Freeway East toward my destination at the Edu-Mountain, a mere 18 miles of travel. After getting on the freeway, with time to spare, I was pretty happy with the relative smooth flow of traffic.

Seems good, right?

In front of me, a Chevy Silverado (read as: large SUV) seemed to be having problems staying in its lane. My lane, in fact. Having recently restored my 32 year old car, I’m very conscious of this possible hazard, and pay close attention. He was in MY lane, so it was a big deal. Eventually, he slowed, as if there was a problem in front of him, and came to a complete stop.

I was behind him, and didn’t have enough space to just “cut out” of the lane. I honked as politely as possible, after a few moments of being at a cold stop. There was no response, so I eventually turned off my car, put on my flashers, and got out of my own car.

When I got to the side of the giant SUV, the driver was slumped over the wheel. He’s unable to respond to me at all, and in serious distress, with the car still on. I called 911, and then did my best, but the reality was straightforward…the driver had driven into his last sunrise, right in front of me.

All around us, cars drove by, and were generally indignant and uninterested. Some kind people honked and gave the finger. I waited for the emergency services to arrive, and then went on to work.

Even Superman can’t save everyone.

Epic Paperwork.

It’s that time. Tons of grading.

With a report card looming over my head, Marvel Comics has delivered “Legacy” to the marketplace for the second week. The central conceit of the “Legacy” event is a set of lenticular incentive variant covers, which “homage” classic Marvel covers. I’m finding the lenticular covers hard to appreciate, due to poor execution of the “image flip.” Still, the “Secret Empire” event is over, and there’s something to be said for anything at all different from the train wreck of plotting that turned out to be.

Given the “homage cover” concept driving the Legacy event, I felt like the art for today could be an homage to a former Adequacy art event. Hence, the massive paperwork oppressing Cap in her tine cubicle of a current headquarters. This kind of paperwork happens at regular enough intervals, generally only with a change of costume. So…an homage cover was on point.

Maybe I’ll even do some sort of animated lenticular graphic. Maybe not. It’s not like Marvel asked me (or Cap) to be a part of it.

They seem to have something in common with my principal, but that’s a longer form post for another day.

Life In The Fastlane.

Except for the involvement of Mysterio…pretty much non-fiction.

Why Mysterio? Very good question, True Believers. Let’s dig into that part.

See, he was the villain in “Fastlane,” by Marvel Comics.

If you were reading Marvel Comics in 1999, you read “Fastlane.” You almost had to, it was pretty much ubiquitous. For four solid months, it was absolutely unavoidable, an eight-page anti-marijuana insert that would pop up right in the middle of every single Marvel Comic to let you know about the dangers of weed, a drug that was glorified in the media and would lead users to a dangerous world of addiction and deadly hallucinations that was so over the top even the producers of “Dragnet” thought that maybe they should tone it down a little.

If you weren’t paying attention, it was easy to miss that you’d suddenly sidestepped into a version of the Marvel Universe built on warning kids of the dangers of marijuana. Gregg Schigiel’s art style wasn’t far at all from the standard Marvel book of the time. I definitely remember being confused, thinking it was just a scene transition into a weird guest appearance by Spider-Man and some kids.

Why am I referencing this insane PSA that Marvel did for the White House, ages ago?

Well…because last week, a large number of my students needed to be searched, because they were in possession of marijuana, or had been caught using it, or some combination of the two. Various tips had been made to various Authority Figures, and things started to happen. Most of this was pretty easy…I mean, when Student A is wearing marijuana leaf emblazoned clothing, with “420” emblazoned all over their backpacks, along with “@#$% the Kops,” this is a hint that someone just MIGHT be a fan of a federally regulated substance. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes.

My current classroom, being at the furthest and most visually remote part of the campus, is a virtual ringside seat for various kinds of commerce, both through the fence and inside it. Multiple times, my simple solution was to just step outside of class, phone in hand, and make myself very obviously Present. That tended to move things along, and at other times, I had to send messages to my supervisor advising him of probable students “holding”, based entirely on the clothing choices that I mentioned.

I don’t really like having to go about that sort of thing…it’s not really the business of an English Teacher. At the same time, it is very necessary. In the same way that we can’t let minors drink alcohol on campus, because it’s just not legal, the use and commerce of marijuana is a pretty necessary thing to stay vigilant about. I don’t like students being searched, but in the same virtual breath, I don’t like my students running small businesses in marginally legalized materials. It’s a part of the job that I have trouble with, because once you’re busted with marijuana on a school campus, the district is pretty much done with that student, causing massive problems for their education and futures.

I’ve traditionally been viciously anti-drug, and continue to be. As a high school teacher, I’m now much more aware of how much shorter the students’ time in school is, and how much higher the stakes are for an error in judgment. I have a few students that might not be returning to school after the “Big Crackdown” of last week, and to be very frank, I can’t say that they were even “major players.” That seems like a bit much…the kind of thing that juvenile law enforcement and a probation system could deal with, and the school system could just suspend over.

That’s life in the Big City (or the Edu-Mountain for that matter), True Believers. At this point, I’m much more comfortable with the “helping and rescuing” part of the job than the “cleaning up the streets” portion.

Like Superman, I don’t get to choose on any given day what part of the job gets done.

Vallejo’s Vengeance.

That asymmetrical tuning fork is pretty damn useful.

The title of the post is a reference to the KEY fantasy art painter of the 1980’s Boris Vallejo.

It’s the weekend, and as a result, sometimes I draw some pretty random stuff. This is more of a “tone piece” about how the last week, or even couple of weeks have been going, as opposed to a direct allegory to a single event.

That random Fantasy Art Bikini Lady that Cap’s saving? Cap has no idea who she is, and neither do I. That’s par for the course about adventures in the Edu-Mountain setting these days. You think that there’s a mission to do, and then suddenly some Rando with their own problems and missions dumps their stuff in your lap, and you have to deal with it Right Now. There is simply No Waiting to be done.

Why is Cap blocking with that fancy tuning fork? Probably because of the ominous looking Magical Crackle on that nasty looking axe. She can probably take the hit, being Nigh Invulnerable, but magic tends to be kind of rough on Alien Americans, so it’s better safe than sorry. This is also pretty allegorical about how I’ve been dealing with these sudden and random crises…trying to put something between me and the problem, but not really wanting to take a whole lot of risks on it.

The ghost skull heads in the background? Those could theoretically be a whole lot of things, lets just leave them at ghost skull heads for now, and hope for the best.