I’ll try this again.

Started working on today’s post in the garage earlier (the garage is where I tend to go to smoke) having managed to get my old netbook up and running.  By “managed to get it running” what I actually mean is I speculatively plugged it in and flicked the on switch, then it turned on!  “Great!” I thought, “Now I can just sit out here and chain smoke while I write my new post!”  If only things were actually that simple, I typed out no more than I have up to now and everything froze.  The whole damn computer, not just the browser I use.  I should have known this would happen, there was a very good reason it had been left in the garage.  It is now officially dead and only good to open and hold phones or small tablets to watch videos.

Originally I had started my post on a positive note thanks to the absolutely beautiful weather we seem to have been blessed with in Birmingham today but after that fiasco with the netbook I needed a little rant.  Still in a really great mood though thanks to the aforementioned weather, just a shame that most of that sunshine was missed thanks to being in work since midday.  I got to appreciate it, though only briefly, a couple of times during the day while bringing in delivery and having a cigarette break.  Even that was nice.  I would have taken some in on my lunch break but since I’d bothered to take my laptop into work with me, I felt obliged to play some Arkham Asylum.  That was also lots of fun and I am trilled beyond belief at how well it runs on my laptop considering that a) I only paid £360 for the laptop from work and b) from what I can tell Arkham Asylum doesn’t have any graphics options in game so you can’t tweak it to increase performance.  For budget gaming capable laptops AMD based laptops easily take it for me since all the machines at work come with a dedicated discreet AMD graphics card which I think is much better than Intel’s HD graphics processing.

Sadly haven’t been able to get out to my local comic shop this week, my days off this week have been Sunday and Tuesday and my next day off is this coming Sunday (thankfully, that day off signals the beginning of a week’s holiday).  It’s left me with no chance to get to Nostalgia and it’s the first week I’ve missed in quite a long time.  I don’t like it.  I know that my pull list is good for four weeks so everything from this week will be there when I head in next Wednesday but I’ve been significantly lacking in new comics.  It was made up for slightly by the fact that another Michael Turner variant Supergirl showed up today.  I’m not sure what it is about Michael Turner’s art, but something really strikes a chord with me, to the point where I’ve decided to start buying up any variants he’d done on any of my favourite series or characters.  I’ve gotten to the point where I’m less bothered about how much an individual comic costs and base my purchase on whether the prices matches how much I want it.  The two Turner Supergirl variants I have now weren’t disgustingly expensive but were a fair bit more than the cover price.  In this case, I don’t care, I wanted them enough to have paid quite a bit more than I did so I’m very happy.

Supergirl that arrived this week

Supergirl that arrived this week

During work today I spoke to a couple of people about yesterday’s guide page, it seems (from the fairly limited amount of feedback) to have been pretty well received.  Hopefully I’ll get to talk to a few collectors about it soon, that’s the feedback that I’m most interested in to be honest since those are the people that the guide was aimed at.  Next week might be more helpful to those of you who aren’t collectors, or at least aren’t currently anyway.  Next week I’m going to be talking about all the best places to buy from and what to look out for when purchasing.  I won’t just be talking about local comic shops either, there will be a fair bit of discussion on the best online locations for comic shopping too.  Now, though, I am hungry and it is time for some dinner and Arrow, which I have recently introduced my mother to, therefore giving me an excuse to watch it through again (like I need one).  So take care everyone, remember to take advantage of the glorious sun while we’ve got it else you’ll most likely be complaining when summer ends.
Thanks for reading all  @NIckLayland88

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Bit earlier than usual today.

Good afternoon all, thought I would use a bit of free time I have this afternoon to throw out a quick update.  I have a fairly busy day ahead of me today, meeting up with a good friend of mine I’ve not seen in a little while and don’t get to see as often as I would like, so I’m not banking on having the time to do this later.

I have spent the last day (while not working anyway) planning a new page I am going to post up here either tomorrow or Thursday. The whole idea of this page is that it will be a guide to comic collecting split into 2 parts; part one will be discussing the best ways to store, protect and care for your comics. The second will be about purchasing, cataloguing and management. I will be discussing the best items to use for archiving comics and hopefully the guide will provide some useful tips to new and old collectors alike.

Now, when it comes to me sitting down and posting a new update on my blog, what I’ll normally do is have a rough idea of what I want to write about, then just sit down in front of my laptop and let it flow. It often means the direction of the blog post goes in a direction I wasn’t anticipating. Sometimes it means I end up talking about things I hadn’t thought about before writing. With the page, however, I needed it to be a clear and structured piece which is why I’ve opted to do a bit of planning before.

The great thing with “pages” as opposed to “posts” is the page will not fall into the same area as the regular posts. It’ll be permanently linked from the homepage of the blog so it’ll be easy for people to find rather than trying to find a specific blog post and having to go through each one until you’ve found it. I’ll post a link on Twitter and Facebook when it’s up but I’d especially ask people to share this one around to anyone that may find it useful.

With regards to my regular blog posts, these will not be interrupted or delayed in any way due to these guide posts. I actually have a few things in mind I’d like to discuss at some point this week and since I’ve done pretty well to get one of these out on time I don’t want to break the habit.

In terms of today, however, this is pretty much all I’ve got for you unfortunately. Feels kind of like a filler post, I know, but as I said I don’t really have time on my side right now but I wanted to put a bit of a spotlight on the upcoming pages.

In a couple of weeks time we have E3 where I’m anticipating lots of interesting things being revealed for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One so no doubt I’ll have lots of things to talk about from that. I have a few games I’m hoping get shown off there (I know that 4 didn’t come out that long ago, but I’d at least like 343 to confirm that Halo 5 is under development now). I’m also expecting to see more of The Witcher 3, being a big fan of the franchise I’m expecting some pretty big things from that. Fallout 4 would also be a really nice sight on the E3 news feed but I don’t really have my hopes up for that, not yet anyway.

Right then, that’s me about done for today. Keep an eye on the homepage and my Twitter/Facebook feeds for the new page coming soon. I’m really looking forward to putting it out there for everyone!

Hope you all have a good day, thanks for reading and please follow.
NickLayland88

A day for rest.

That’s traditionally what today, Sunday, is meant to be all about.  Unfortunately, my current day job is in retail, this means that weekend work is normal for me.  I hate it, and I’m not necessarily having a moan about my job itself, that’s something I’d be far happier giving proper commentary on when I’ve left.  No, what I really hate is pretty much all my friends don’t work weekends and what this means for me is I get to spend my mid week days off by myself doing a fat lot of nothing (socially at least anyway) and then when the weekend rolls round I get invites to do stuff that I frequently can’t do.  It’s frustrating as hell, especially when you consider that retail pays minimum wage and yet they expect you to be as committed as the £30-50,000 a year managers.  Reality is, large numbers of people in retail jobs are incredibly dissatisfied with their jobs, promotion potential, managers, company and lack of respect shown for your life outside of work.  As it happens, I do have today off so while I had to work yesterday, it meant that my evening could be used for something fun rather than just waiting to go back into work again.  This also explains why there was no update yesterday, between finishing work, getting food then getting on with my evening’s plans there was no time.

I’ve come into this post today, though, with pretty much nothing on my mind that I really want to talk to.  I guess this is what happens when you try doing a blog post two hours after you’ve woken up!

Another plus side for today is that here in the UK (well, the Midlands at least) the sky is clear blue and for all intents and purposes, looks set to stick around for a beautiful day.  This always raises my spirits in general.  Good mood or bad mood, there’s nothing quite like sitting out in the sun, and generally if I’m not in a fantastic mood for some reason, sitting out in the sun will perk me right up.

This week is going to be so strange for TV watching.  By this, what I mean is that my TV watching habits are going to be completely out of whack this week.  As far as I can remember, all that is still running that I watch is Game of Thrones.  Even that’s now up to the penultimate episode tonight!  This leaves me with time to fill during the week with all of the comedy shows I watch over and done with until next season, with the exception being The Office, of course.  If anything this is the perfect opportunity to read through some comic book backlog that’s managed to build up, it’s also a really great chance to get some writing done and continue practicing my drawing.  The projects I’m working on in my own time I’m not ready to show off yet, but I’ve been working on a while and I think they’re coming along nicely.  I am willing to say, however, that the main two pieces I’m working on right now are both sci-fi, one set in 1889 America and one set in ~2020.  Both will be linked, with the story set in the past being a set up for the future story.  Hopefully it’ll make much more sense when I’m in a position to talk about it properly.  Because of the direction the stories have taken as I’ve been writing they’re taking quite a bit longer than I thought they would to get into a state I’m happy with.

I think now that 14:00 has rolled round I really need to get out of bed.  It’s incredibly comfy here, and I’m having great fun writing this and listening to the Barenaked Ladies discography on shuffle but I really want a cup of tea.  I could also do with a cigarette.  So I shall bid you all adieu, I hope you all enjoy your Sunday as much as I know I’m going to enjoy mine!

Thanks for reading!

@NickLayland88

Good day today.

Today was payday.  That means my four weekly raid of back issues and bargain comics at Nostalgia, Birmingham.  Today was no different, although I left a little disappointed as I thought The Darkness 113 was out yesterday and it wasnt.  Still, on the plus side, I finally took the plunge on a New 52 Superman series with Action Comics 0-18 plus the annual.  I on’t detail everything I bought because I’ll be here much longer than I want to be.  Not only that but it will remind me of how much I ended up spending today and I’d quite like to remain in my current state of blissful ignorance.  I’ve read up to #6 so far and am really impressed, I really like the youthful, slightly arrogant Supes and the fact that he is not at the pinnacle of his strength at this point.  He can be hurt, he can’t fly.  He feels much more grounded and relatable in this series.  I had high hopes for this series since it is written by the one and only Grant Morrison (love his JLA work so much) and so far I’m enjoying this as much as I’d hoped I would, if not more.

On the subject of comics, I’d like to spend a moment talking about local comic shops.  They’re not as common here in the UK as it is in the States and I imagine a lot of people prefer the idea of shopping online for lower prices and convinience of home delivery.  Now when I first set up a pull list I set one up online with Forbidden Planet.  My orders were set up in plenty of time and yet when new releases would ocme out I wouldn’t see them in my porch for a good two weeks.  This isn’t necessarily me bashing Forbidden Planet, mind, there could be a perfectly good reason for such a delay in receiving my books.  However, the dedicated comic shop in my city, Nostalgia & Comics (or as I shall refer to them from here on out, Nostalgia), receives all of the US comics ready for sale on day of release.  No delays, no problems.  I can walk into the store on a Wednesday and pick up my new releases there and then.  The main attraction to this store though?  The people.  The staff in store are all such awesome people, passionate about comics, knowledgable about what’s coming, and friendly.  I was in there last week picking up my pull list releases and kept looking back at an Action Comics pack (issues 1-12) but being the week before payday, didn’t really want to lay down the £30 at that point.  The friendly neighbourhood Dave that usually inhabits the upstairs section (the back issues area – my favourite) put the pack to one side for me so I could pick it up today.  How many websites provide that level of service?  How many websites do you end up spending two hours on because of the funny conversations?  I appreciate that the last one was pushing it a bit but you get my point I hope.  I already knew of Free Comic Book Day for example, but had not expected the level of fun that could be had when attending at a store full of people thrilled just to be there.

I guess what I’m really trying to put across with today’s post is if you are a fan of comics but buy your stuff online, go visit a store.  It might change the way you view the medium as a whole.  There’s only so well a website can direct you to other things you may like, suggestions from real people who know what they’re talking about are irreplaceable.  If you think there’s a chance you might like them or you’re curious what all the fuss is about after the recent slew of superhero films, go visit a store!  You can be guaranteed to find a member of staff that would absolutely love to give you ideas on where to start.  I don’t work in a comic shop but I get a kick out of talking to people on the cusp of joining in, giving them suggestions and them coming back to me later to tell me how good it was.  Same goes for making suggestions to seasoned readers.  Don’t be intimidated, the comic community is a fantastic place to be.  Conventions show that off the best, the feeling of togetherness is impossible to not pick up on.  And it’s very welcoming to newcomers.  These comic book shops need fresh readers, they need subscriptions and regular customers.  This is how they survive, and stores like this are how publishers survive.  The digital market is growing yes, but it is not in a position where print could be removed and publishers survive solely on them and it probably won’t be for some time.

So go to your local comic shop, go buy singles and new releases.  Trade paperbacks are a great way of grabbing story arcs all in one go.  Digital is great, but there is nothing like opening a new issue for the first time.  Online is easy but there’s nothing like walking into a shop and discovering all sorts of other cool things you might have easily missed online.

Food for thought.  As always, thank you for reading!

@NickLayland88

Whoops!

So I have literally just remembered that I was due to post up a new blog today, although I’m still going to count this as within the 3 days since I haven’t slept yet.  Shush, it counts!  To be honest I’m quite impressed that I remembered at all today, or that I’m still awake even considering I got up at 5am and it is now bang on midnight (at time of writing this anyway).

Today certainly turned out to be a good one though and has left me with a fair bit to chat about.  The big one today, as many will know, was the reveal conference for the XBox One.  Or XBox-One, or XBoxOne.  Whatever, whichever one it is I can’t say I’m completely sold on the name.  I can see where they’re coming from with it (I think) in the sense that they want this to be the one device, except for the TV obviously, that you need or want to use in your living room.  If I’ve interpreted this right then it’s a fairly clever name, but I’m still not sold on it yet.  There was a lot of talk about all of the Kinect and TV options it’ll give you which came as no surprise to me, it had been noted before the conference that Microsoft would be showing off the console today, and games at E3.  That’s not to say we didn’t see anything game wise, there was still a showing which I believe has immediately put down the argument that the graphical step up from this generation to the next would be barely noticeable.  The demos looked incredible and while I am well aware that they weren’t all game footage, the signs are good so far.

The technical specifications Microsoft provided made for good reading too, I think all in all this is going to be a simply awesome console.  Now one thing I have noticed people bashing online is the appearance of the new console and I wondered, am I one of the only people to like the new design?  It’s clearly taken some of the design of the 360S, the very vent centric look, made it more angular and tidied up the front a lot.  One thing I’ve taken from it is that it’s nice to see a console that doesn’t look like a space toaster, Microsoft have made one device to rule the living room and actually made it look like a nice bit of AV kit.

I’ll be completely honest here though, I paid very little attention to the EA presentation and as soon as I realized they had saved Call of Duty Ghosts for last I turned it off and went to get some dinner.  It would have been interesting to see what had been accomplished in regards to how Ghosts looks but, frankly, I was hungry and just didn’t care enough.

Of course now that is out of the way my mind is now on this weeks comic releases, or at least the ones I will be buying anyway.  Looking at my calendar all my pull list has for me this week is The Darkness #113 and Justice League #20 which brings two other points to mind, one good and one not so.  On the bright side of these releases, JL #20 brings us a little closer to the massive “Trinity War” crossover between Justice League, Justice League of America and Justice League Dark.  I’m dead excited about this, being a fan of all three JL series since the New 52 relaunch.  Funnily enough, the dark side is The Darkness #113 means that there are only three more issues of The Darkness before “The Darkness Falls” mini series and then, as far as has been mentioned up to now, nothing.  No more Jackie Estacado.  This is a real shame, I can see where David Hine is coming from when he says that Jackie’s story has been heading this way for a little while but still, The Darkness is easily one of my favourite current series, especially since Hine and Haun took over writing and art duties respectively.  It does make me wonder though that if they’re OK revealing that kind of information ahead of time, what aren’t they telling us?  So much speculation could be made over this but to be honest, I’m not really sure where they’re going to go.  Time will tell I guess.

I watched the Batman Arkham Origins cinematic trailer yesterday, if you haven’t seen it, it’s a truly epic fight between Deathstroke and Bats.  I also noticed that those who pre-order the game will get to play as Deathstroke.  From what I can tell, Deathstroke will only be playable in the challenge modes but I don’t care.  I actually really like the challenge mode and I am a huge fan of Deathstroke so I will most certainly be pre-ordering.  I also found read over on Comic Book Resources that Kevin Conroy is not involved as WB wanted someone else to voice the younger Wayne/Batman.  It makes sense, but I also read on CBR that Conroy had accidentally (or “accidentally”) let slip that he is voicing Bats in a separate Arkham game in development at the same time.  This could well be why Rocksteady aren’t involved in “Origins” being too busy making their new Arkham game.  Rumours have been around for a little while that Rocksteady were making an Arkham game based on a silver age Batman story, maybe this is it?

I’ve just noticed how long this has turned out today, so I’m going to bid you farewell until next time.  I will attempt to be more punctual with my next entry.  Thanks for reading!

@NickLayland88

What a journey…

The Office (US) had it’s last ever episode aired this week.  Crazy.  Nine seasons have come and gone and while it’s certainly sad to know that there will never be another episode, the send off that the show got was absolutely perfect.  I’m going to be nice and avoid spoilers as I’m sure there are many that won’t have seen it yet but there were so many incredible moments it made it feel like a celebration of everyone’s achievements over the years, both on screen and off.  Still, it’s that time of year now where TV shows are winding down (Arrow is done, New Girl, Big Bang Theory (I think), Community) so now I have to find something to fill that time.

I’ve been playing quite a lot of Batman Arkham City again recently in anticipation of Arkham Origins, even if I do still have mixed feelings about it this prequel.  On the one hand the fact Origins is not being developed by Rocksteady is a little concerning what with the first two being awesome.  I’m also a little gutted that Paul Dini is no longer involved, I’m a big fan of his writing (Madame Mirage is one of the best books I’ve ever read).  With the lack of Rocksteady development I just have to look at the Darkness and the Darkness II, where I loved the first but enjoyed the second more, and it puts me a little at ease.  The main thing that keeps my hope up though is the strength of the franchise, WB are not stupid and they will surely not put out a product that will sour the Arkham reputation.  They will want to make sure that it is done right, stays true to the foundations of the first two and bring something new and fresh to keep people interested.  I can’t imagine they’d be overly thrilled at the prospect of putting out a poor game focused on the current most popular DC character.  What will completely put my mind at rest is if Kevin Conroy is playing Batman/Bruce Wayne because, again, I can’t imagine that a man so popular amongst the fans for being easily the best voice actor for Batman would want to tarnish that in any way.

Maybe I’m just being overly optimistic, I don’t know.  The fact that Origins will have Deathstroke in does grab at me quite a lot too, I’m a big fan of Deathstroke so I’m looking forward to seeing how they handle him in the game.

Right, it’s gone half 10 now and not only do I have work tomorrow, but now I’ve been talking about it I really want to go and get some more Arkham City in before I go to bed.  Before I go, consider this a parting gift, a little music recommendation for a band that doesn’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve… Ghost.

As always, @NickLayland88

Best day of the week.

That’s right, Wednesdays are the best day of the week.  For me anyway, since I work a job where Saturday and Sunday are not days I automatically get off (in fact they are days I’m lucky to get off) whereas every week, without fail, new comics are released every Wednesday and I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have something to pick up from my pull list in a week.  This was a pretty good week as far as it goes; Supergirl #20 and Wonder Woman #20 from DC and Think Tank #7 from Top Cow.  All were enjoyable, but WW #20 dipped off a bit this month and while I can tell that it’s building up to something awesome it seemed to just chug along somewhat this issue.  Supergirl #20 I thought was really back in form with Supergirl still not really trusting Power Girl and the A.I. in Supergirl’s sanctuary was incredibly funny!

The strongest entry for me this week was Think Tank #7.  Matt Hawkins has managed to craft this intriguing story about a genius in a government think tank and make it educational at the same time.  You can’t help but come away from every issue having learned several new things and the science lessons in the back where he discusses the real world tech that his devices are based off make for some fascinating reading.  The tension was really ramped up in this issue, and while it can be quite a text heavy comic it never feels bogged down by words and it still leaves plenty of room for Rahsan Ekedal’s artwork, which is incredibly executed.  All in all, can’t recommend this book enough!

Comics haven’t been the only thing released this week that I am buzzing for; Polkadot Cadaver released their latest full length album, “Last Call in Jonestown” yesterday and I can barely listen to anything else at the moment.  I’m really trying not to burn myself out on it but it’s such a fun album, it’s the perfect combination of Polkadot’s last album and late Dog Fashion Disco. 

Right, I’m quite tired tonight after working from 20:00 last night to 5:00(ish) this morning and sitting here staring at this computer screen is just making me more tired so I’m going to head off.  If you want to check out a song off Polkadot Cadaver’s new album, head here and I would highly recommend everyone head here to read Think Tank #1 if you haven’t already (bottom right of home page).

As always, check me out on Twitter please 🙂 @nicklayland88