J.C. Ciesielski, Fanbase Press Contributor

J.C. Ciesielski, Fanbase Press Contributor

Shaolin Cowboy"When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave." If Cain had a mule carrying an arsenal on its back, he'd have left that monastery a hell of a lot sooner. Such is a similar tale to that of our protagonist, except he was asked to leave. The Shaolin Cowboy is a man of few words. He leaves most of the "verbal" communication to the thoughts of his companion and mad player pimp, the mule. Shaolin Cowboy sticks to the action and intrigue.


PrainborkGather round, children, and let me tell you the tale of a bygone era. A time before orange men with names like "Pauly D" and women who get their buttocks implanted to attract a mate at "da club." This was a much simpler time, when men wore their hair long and flannels ratty. A time when women wore their hair long and their flannels ratty. It was all very androgynous, but in a sexy "we are SO different because we dress the same" kind of way.  This was a time know as the '90s.

Why, you ask, do I bring up this desolate time before smartphones and the terror of a Penn State ravaged by the beast known as Sandusky? I recall that age of enlightenment, because the two bands reviewed today may have been sucked through a wormhole and planted in our time, a time of horrible music such as (Editor, please enter the name of a current crappy top '40s band; I stopped listening to commercial radio a long time ago). Listening to these bands made me yearn for the days of old. I automatically thought of the scene in Empire Records when a young Ethan Embry is cut short on his metal thrashing by a pre-Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger. What I refer to as "the good 'ol days."

The-Perks-of-Being-a-Wallflower-movie-posterHometown boy makes good. A phrase often uttered in tales of old, emblazoned on headlines of bygone reliquaries known as the printed page. Hometown boy makes. "Good" what? Good mix tapes? Good novels and films? Good at making allusions to the bitter sweetness and ennui of high school life? Milling around this question, I come to the eventual conclusion that this is my go-to answer . . . can't it be both?

On a Thursday evening in the hamlet of Homestead, right on the corner of Pittsburgh and Inspiration, my life was changed forever. I saw a movie. Big deal you say, but what this book and subsequent film reminded me is that every moment changes every one after. Aforementioned good-making hometown boy Stephen Chbosky was on hand to welcome and thank the many in attendance for this premiere. Particularly thanking the cast and crew from Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, Chbosky had a particular shine of pride in his eyes and nostalgia in the timber of his voice. Reminiscing about growing up in Pittsburgh and the best mushroom soup ever made being only up the hill from the theater by his aunt. He went on to thank again those whose efforts made this endeavor possible. The thanks were soon returned . . .


Harker The Book of SolomonGrizzled, hard-boiled, set in their ways. These words could easily describe certain parts of my anatomy, but they apply more aptly to the main character in Harker: The Book of Solomon. Set in his ways of more precise, old school police work, DCI Harker leaves the more extravagant and out-of-the-box thinking to his partner against crime, DS Critchley. 


The Creep 1Have you ever had to re-read a sentence? Something doesn't click at first, too many bits of information are thrown at you all at once. Welcome to the world of The Creep. At first, it seemed like the most banal, convoluted thing I've read in a very long time. One page being totally juxtaposed by the next, like speed dating at a multiple personalities support group. It was very choppy and flash cut. No dissolves or smooth transitions from one idea or timeline to the next. Jumping around as it did, you may have gone though and tossed it to the wayside like it was one of the many prostitution flyers handed out on the Vegas strip. At least that's what I hear. Bottom line is that much like good film, it makes you go back and think things through. Mr. Exposition isn't going to hold your hand with this one.


Buffy S8V2 HardcoverAre you an ardent Buffy fan? If you raised your hand, great! If not, I'm glad that you decided to read this article. I just have a little, light summer homework for you to get caught up to speed. You'll need to watch the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer (what ever happened to Kristy Swanson?), all 7 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 5 seasons of Angel, read the Buffy spin-off comic, Fray, and Volume 1 of Buffy the Vampire Season 8. I would also recommend buying a pop culture reference lexicon as a study guide. All done? Now, on with the show!


It Girl 1It can sometimes be confusing to distinguish, "it" from "I.T." when written and read. Since the advent of the Information Technology department at any company that uses computers, it's been a pain. Luckily for those already in the know of characters created by Mike Allred, you may have an idea of whom I speak.


The God Project 1Parents worry. A very short sentence, but one that rings true everytime. Parents are always concerned about the well being of their children, be they 5 or 50. This is the main ingredient in the stew that is John Saul's novel, The God Project. Written in 1982, Saul was interestingly prolific about his use of technology in his novel, technology that has come to exist on one level or another.  The story of the death and disappearance of children, parental woe and inquiry, cover-ups, subterfuge, and medical miracles are what make up this story . . . so far. This is based on the graphic novelization published by Bluewater Comics, written by David McIntee, based on the work of John Saul, and penciled by Federico De Luca.


Black Kiss 2*Black Kiss #2 is for mature readers only.

The late eighties in Los Angeles, California. A time of excitement and mystery. In 1988 Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs, Coming to America is making audiences across the country laugh, and Ronald Reagan is bumbling around trying to find Iran on the map. An exciting time, indeed. Amidst all of this excitement takes place the story of Black Kiss by Howard Chaykin, one of the most controversial comics of its time. Any story involving pre-op trannies, vampires, sex, stars of the silent film era, the Vatican, prostitution, sex, murder, cults, and hard-edged noir crime makes for a compelling story. There's also quite a bit of sex.


Orchid V1Orchid, the name of an exquisite flower representing between 6 to 11 percent of all seeded plants in the world. Orchid, the name of which comes from the Greek ὄρχις (órkhis), literally meaning "testicle," because of the shape of the root. Orchid, the lead character - beautiful, resourceful, and delicate all at once - in the graphic novel by Tom Morello. Coincidence? I think not.

Orchid is the brain child of Rage Against the Machine/Audio Slave guitarist Tom Morello, who also performs solo under the political folk alter ego, "The Nightwatchman." Another comic coincidence? I would guess no. Morello, who grew up in suburban Chicago, went from there to be not only the first in his school, but the first in his town not only to apply to Harvard, but to be accepted. Afterwards, once moved to Los Angeles, he introduced a fellow high school student to some new friends out in LA who became the band Tool. Morello also in those early years worked as a male exotic dancer to pay the bills. Trying his hand in the Sunset Strip metal music scene, he was rejected at the time for his lack of 2-foot-tall, teased out hair and spandex. Moving on to the East Side underground music scene, he was embraced by accepting friends, many of which were prostitutes or drug addicts, all of which did not judge. Does Orchid hold a fun house mirror up to Morello's own young personal life? The world may never know, but this old owl leans towards yes.

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