The Death of Ultimate Spider-Man… By the Amazing Spider-Man’s Hand

After work today, I met my good friend @GentlemanMonstr for some Five Guys and a stop at Midtown Comics. As the undisputed overlord of the comic world (in my opinion), the Gentleman had something obscure in mind. For me, it was the exact opposite: Ultimate Spider-Man #160. In all honesty, it was something I wasn’t looking forward to, but it was, of course, something I needed to read, not only because I’m the Spider-Man fan among my friends, but because I loved the whole Ultimate Spider-Man series, from it’s rocky start to… well…

We naturally spend more time than necessary at Midtown. Then it was a casual walk to Penn Station where we parted ways. I got to my train platform and thought that I should wait until I got home to read how it all ends, but I realized that after the countless hours on the train that I’d burned reading and rereading Ultimate Spider-Man, there was no better time.

Now, I’m not going to explain what happens because this is a no spoiler zone. But I will say that something odd happened; something I didn’t expect:

I wasn’t bothered. I wasn’t upset; when it happened, I got a little teary eyed (yeah, I’ll admit it), but I didn’t shed a tear, which is weird because I honestly expected to at least shed one damn tear–I’m the Spider-Man guy, after all!

Now, is this because the writing was off? Was Peter’s death too sudden? Was it lacking real drama and emotion? Did I not feel it? Well, while I’m not saying those possibilities are absolutely out of line, I think I know the primary reason for my ambivalence:

I had Amazing Spider-Man #663 in my bag.

And you’re thinking, “So you’re fine because Amazing Spider-Man is still alive?” And, I mean, overtly, sure, but it’s more complicated than that. The “Big Time” plot line brought serious changes to Peter Parker’s life. For the first time, we saw Peter get a job that pays his bills, new costumes, new side characters (thank God), and even a new love interest. As the arc’s name suggests, things in Peter’s life finally start looking up for the first time in… well, ever. Finally, finally things actually change for Peter Parker. Significantly.

So, what does this have to do with Ultimate Spider-Man? It’s simple: after all of the changes in Amazing, going back to Ultimate  felt like looking backwards. For many of us, there was a time when Ultimate Spider-Man was fresh and young and awesome, and it was probably because at the same time, Amazing was tired and boring. For many of us, Ultimate Spider-Man gave us what we’d always wanted as Spider-Man fans: change. Variety. But then Big Time finally came and we–well, I–realized that… Ultimate Peter Parker is still just a kid. He’s still in high school. He’s still worrying about Mary Jane. Suddenly, Ultimate was the past. A past we’ve all read and watched countless times. A past that some writers burned to the ground by over-using the same tired characters. A past that it’s sadly easy to let go of.

Believe what you want, but somehow, I don’t think the time could have ever been more appropriate for the unfortunate passing of our young, beloved Mr. Parker. Not because I wanted it, but because right now–before a new writer comes along and retcons all of Big Time and FF–right now is the only time I could possibly bare it. In all honesty, while I can’t say I started reading comics because of Ultimate Spider-Man, I can promise you that I never would have become so deeply invested in them if not for the incredible sense of adventure and awe that the Ultimate run instilled in me. For that, I will always be grateful for young Peter Parker and the incredible places Brian Michael Bendis took us with him.

But that doesn’t mean I want to ever go back to how things were. Not after so much has changed. The Peter Parker who was always so worried about Aunt May and MJ and work and J. Jonah Jameson and Venom–that young man is dead. And although I loved him, I’m content to let him rest in peace.

The PDF That Just Wouldn’t Die

I’m not sure how it is for you, but Photoshop projects always take longer than I expect. I have an idea and think, I can get that done in an hour tonight. But then I get in front of my computer and realize I just can’t edit a part of the project the way I’d intended or a part of my design just doesn’t look good on paper. A great example is the first issue of RED Comics; nearly every panel was a trial (although it was one I enjoyed because it forced me to troubleshoot with a lot of methods I made up on the spot [all of which–thankfully–worked]). But at most, that tacked on an extra week to the project (more like an extra day when you factor in getting home from work late and spending only an hour or two of my daily writing time on the comic).

Unfortunately, when a project gets such a tiny portion of work time, they sometimes take way longer than an extra day to complete. Especially if they’re ridiculously (and unnecessarily) complicated. Like my Yonkers 3.31.11 PDF.

Which took all of eternity to complete.

I exaggerate, but if you haven’t taken a look at the Yonkers 3.31.11 PDF yet, please do so now (right click, then download the link) and then continue reading here.

If you think the pictures are awesome, I thank you. But what I really want to get at here is that the design for the PDF (the fonts, the order of the photos, etc.) took a month and a half to finish and I can’t really tell you why–aside from maybe saying that I cycled through a bunch of different fonts, tried to make a different logo, and tackled a bunch of other completely absent concerns that had the project spinning in limbo for way longer than it should’ve been (and, of course, spending an hour a night with it [and sometimes no time at all with it] didn’t help the project’s progress at all).

So, why bring this up? What’s on my mind? It’s simple. Maybe I’m burning myself out? I recently edited my friend Kenneth Broadway’s novella manuscript (a fantastic novella, I might add) and when I handed it back he said, “Let’s actually meet and talk about this though.”

I probably made a face and said, “Well, yeah, definitely, dude. When are you free?”

To which he said, “No, when are you free? I’m not the guy who’s always crazy busy doing a million things.”

I’m pretty sure I raised an eyebrow. “I’m not that busy. I just–”

“Work with Ronin at HotMop Films sometimes.”

“Well, yeah, but–”

“And go take photographs at ruins with Felix Velez.”

“That’s true–”

“And work with Chaos Mechanica on writing and film projects.”

I remember stopping to think about it. And then saying, “Yeah… I guess I am pretty busy. All the time.”

It was a charming thing then; it was nice to think that I’m finally being as creative as I’ve wanted, but I’m starting to realize that maybe I have my hands in way too many projects at once. The divided attention is slowing everything down. But then, the question becomes, “What do I drop?” Photography? The novel? RED Comics, which I just started (even though I just bought a few DVD’s this past weekend specifically to use for issues 2 and 3)? My ink abstracts have already fallen by the wayside for years, and that’s always disappointing to me when I think about it; do I really want another interest to fall by the wayside with it?

Or am I just wasting time thinking about all of this when I should be figuring out a way to optimize my workload? … I think I know the answer to this one.

Apocalypse 2011: The Chillest Apocalypse Ever?

I woke up this Apocalypse at 10:04 AM. I was not in my own bed, but not in an apocalyptic kind of way; I crashed at the “ghetto fabulous” flat of Ronin (the camera-wielding video smith of HotMop Films) and woke up on the sofa bed. The sun was shining through the window and, looking out into it, I found the day the world would undoubtedly change–forever: a sunny Saturday with a blue sky that forbode, with the CERTAINTY OF A THOUSAND HAROLD CAMPINGS,  an extremely pleasant afternoon. I turned on my 360, played Streets of Rage 2 until Ronin woke up and joined me, and then we got burgers, completely forgetting all the while to work on our movie idea. I also got a black and white shake. And then bought Amazing Spider-Man #660 from Silver Age Comics in Queens and read it all the way back to the Bronx.

And now, here I am, casually knocking out this article and thinking to myself, Maybe beer, pizza, and finishing ODST with my brother tonight?

And that’s when I realize it. Not that I kind of love the idea of a fanatic going ape shit and promising doom to everyone on a specific date, because I realized I loved that when I dished out my first (of many) Apocalypse 2011 jokes. No, I lean back in my seat and breath in the warm, summer breeze from my window, I feel the post Beer-and-Video-Games-Night-with-a-Buddy glow I’m still enjoying and think, Yeah… This has got to be the best Apocalypse ever.

I think about it and realize: yes, I cared about Y2K because there was science involved and I was young and impressionable enough to think, Hey. Maybe. <shrug> I didn’t pay attention to the 2008 Apocalypse (to the point that I’m not even sure I heard my friends right when they mentioned it [Maybe it was 1998? Maybe they were talking about a Genesis concert they went to?]). If there were any besides, I’ve missed them… So, yes, this totally is the best Apocalypse so far.

And, really, it makes me want to thank… uh… what’s-his-face. <checks his tabs> Harold Camping! Right! It makes me want to thank that guy, because the Apocalypse is now, officially, a holiday. A magical, moving holiday that sometimes comes after a year, other times after eight or more, but is always the best holiday ever, because you can lean back and think that somewhere out there, a pompous asshole who tried to spread mass hysteria feels like a complete moron–right now. And, in fact, he will (and you can smile as you think that) all day.

Does this mean I’m an atheist? No–I believe, although I do it in a complex way so that pretty much no one agrees with me (whether atheists or Churchies). But I definitely don’t believe in spending a ton of money to tell the world, “Well, too bad you didn’t repent, you stupid heathens! And now, enjoy five months of torment for not being as perfect as me!”

And hey, maybe you disagree, and really that’s fine and completely your prerogative. But all I can say is, we just survived the Apocalypse together, brother. Relax. Have a beer. Read a Bible. Start planning Apocalypse 2014.

Me? I’m going to call my brother about that pizza.

Getting Closer

I realized I have something time sensitive to say, so I have to try to belt it out before that company I just mentioned arrives.

If you haven’t already heard about it, you should know about the Met’s Get Closer photography contest. It’s not a huge deal; you photograph a piece from the permanent collection and then get a close-up of one of its elements. Then you submit them to the contest’s tumblr with a short blurb about why the element you captured for your close-up is meaningful to you. The prize is a year’s membership to the museum and the use of your picture for add campaigns (bragging rights). Like, I said, nothing crazy, but it’s something to do with an afternoon. Make sure to check out the actual contest rules to make sure you know everything you need to before heading over.

Only, if you’re going to head down, make sure you do it soon; the last day for submissions is this Friday–April 8th. And, if possible, make sure you give yourself a lot of time at the Met; it took me longer than I expected to find the piece I wanted to shoot for my submission (and before I found it, it was a solid two hours worth of photographing everything I found interesting, which wasn’t bad because it’s the Met, but still, that meant stopped and photographing just about everything).

Oh, what was that you just asked? “What was your submission, Louis?” did I hear? No wait, that was a car horn outside, but whatever, here it is anyway: The Fist of the Archer Herakles. If you know me at all, you’ probably saw this coming. Mythology? An archer? Yeah. So me that it’s ridiculous.

It’s Been a While

It’s been just about a month since my last post, begging the question “What the $#(*?”

Well, I’ll tell you what the $#(*.

Life. My best friend’s moving to Seattle in two weeks, an event I found out about around two weeks ago. Aside from being extremely bummed about it, my weekends have been absorbed by various going away functions (and my recovering from those functions). I’ve also been… graced with more responsibility at work, permanently stuck with handling the magazines section (a sad thing; I don’t dislike magazines, but I woefully pass through our genre section, looking at all of the terrible covers and heaving a sigh of loss [Example:

<sigh>

Coupled with that are other creative endeavors (just this Thursday, I spent my morning photographing a ruin with some fellow artists, an oddly exhausting and dangerous hike through a single facility, making me feel more like a Belmont than I ever have). It may not seem like much, but it’s definitely been more than enough to make it extremely hard to belt out more articles, even if ideas for them keep on coming.

I had to write something today though, while editing and posting a new background pic (taken during that Thursday outing), before company arrives. I’ll have another post up before the end of the week, even if it kills me. And then, more posts about the afterlife and why it’s great for writing/gaming.