Station to Station

I have, I admit, surprising amounts of feelings about Bill and Ted Face the Music, the just-released third installment in the movie serial that seemed abandoned after 1991’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (AKA Bill and Ted Go to Hell, which was always the better title, but I get why the studio wanted them to change it).

It’s not just that I’m overwhelmed with happy nostalgia to see Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves back as these characters 29 years after they last played them, although that’s obviously a significant factor; I loved the first two movies, even though I remember them being little more than cult favorites in the U.K. at the time — the first one, I remember, was something I knew about in advance purely because it was advertised on the back of DC’s comic books for a couple months in the summer of 1989. I even adored the Marvel comic book series that spun out of Bogus Journey, which I’m pretty sure I discovered around the same time as I found Milk and Cheese, cementing my longterm love of Evan Dorkin’s work. To see a new Bill and Ted movie now, and for it not to be terrible — or, for that matter, just an exercise in nostalgia and nothing else — feels like a victory in and of itself.

But my feelings come from, really, the fact that Face the Music feels like a movie aimed at people my age, and a movie about getting over yourself — about allowing yourself to escape the story that you’ve told yourself about yourself since you were younger, and accepting who you actually have become, instead. It’s couched in dumb jokes and sci-fi conceits, sure, but from the very title of the movie — “Face the Music,” I mean, come on — to the fact that a solution to the movie’s problems only comes when Bill and Ted stop telling everyone, including themselves, “I can fix this!” and instead admit that they can’t, it’s a surprisingly touching movie about failing to live up to your potential and being okay with that.

Indeed, it’s a movie about realizing that failing to live up to your potential in one thing doesn’t mean that you haven’t done great things elsewhere in your life that are more worthy of celebration. (Bill and Ted raised Billie and Thea, after all, and they’re the ones who solved everything.)

Maybe I’m projecting, and none of this is actually in there; maybe these are all things that I’m reading into a silly movie that just wanted to get William Sadler back into Death make-up and came up with a convoluted way to make that happen. I don’t think I am, though. For all that Bill and Ted Face the Music is a movie about kindness and pure-heartedness and the need for people to come together as one — and it is all those things, too — it feels, more than anything, a movie for middle aged guys to accept that they’re middle aged and that that’s actually kind of a good thing, really.

As a 45-year-old man, why wouldn’t I have feelings about that?


It’s Jack Kirby’s 103rd birthday today — or, I guess, the 103rd anniversary of his birth, considering he died more than two decades ago, so “birthday” feels a bit off. To mark the occasion, and the fact that this week also saw the 50th anniversary of the release of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #133, the first Fourth World comic, I sketched a quick Darkseid and posted it to Twitter.

This was, to say the least, unlike me; I share sketches very occasionally here, but never on Twitter, where people pay attention and my anxiety about sharing artwork gets the better of me. But it’s Kirby’s birthday, and I feel like he’s so much about creating things and being fearless about them, that it… felt appropriate…? So I did it, and lots of people liked it, and now I’m trying to get over my nerves and move on with my life.

I’m just adding it here, as much as anything, to have some kind of permanent record of it, because, you know what? I like this drawing, dammit.

(Here’s a very quickly colored version, although the colors took even less time than the drawing of it, which itself took… five minutes or less…?)

Look Around Leaves Are Brown and the Sky Is a

I’ve been craving the fall a lot lately. (The season, not the band, as much as “Free Range” is a seemingly permanent musical addition to my internal playlist.)

Perhaps it’s simply a response to the oppressive heat this summer, which feels as if it’s topped 100 more often than usual even though I know objectively that’s not actually true — I’m pretty sure that I’m just feeling it more this year because there’s no air conditioning, just small fans and an aging body that doesn’t deal well with heat — or maybe it’s simply my body sensing that the change in seasons is just around the corner and wanting to head towards it, like a homing pigeon speeding up on the final stretch. I don’t know the reason, only that I’m thinking about the fall fondly more and more often lately.

It’s a feeling helped by the fact that I’m continuing to wake up before 6 these days, but the sunrise is getting later and later; there is a curious thrill to waking up before the sun, one that does make me more and more excited for the mornings when it won’t get light until after seven o’clock. There’s a nostalgic magic for me about those mornings, as I remember the brief period when I walked to the local train station to get to school each morning, catching the 7:19 train in the dark with my breath showing. Those, somehow, were the days.

But now, I crave the fall for all the things I remember it bringing. Not just cooler weather, not just darker mornings (and darker evenings! I am surprisingly, ridiculously, excited for nights to get darker earlier again), but everything, it seems. I want the sweaters, the hot chocolate in the evening. I want the trees turning red and brown and the crunch of leaves underfoot as they fall from the trees. I’m ready for the rain and the weather turning shitty in general. I’m Scottish; shitty weather feels natural to me.

Maybe that’s the key to it all. I’m not used to good weather, and too much of it makes me nervous. No wonder I want the summer to end, and for things to get  “worse.” It’s in my genes.

Beyond Thunderdome

So, I did DC FanDome.

In a year of COVID, everyone has been taking the idea of a convention and turning it into a series of Zoom meetings and YouTube videos, so I guess no-one should have been that surprised when WarnerMedia announced FanDome in the first place; it felt like the ultimate culmination of that idea crashing into Warners’ corporate desire to make DC into a lifestyle brand — something that’s been a quiet ambition since the company named dropped any modifiers and became, simply, “DC.”

(I could be wrong, but I think the official name went from DC Comics to DC Entertainment in 2009, and then quietly became just DC just under a decade later; there was certainly no big fanfare about the dropping of “Entertainment,” I just remember DC execs quietly telling me to stop calling it DC Entertainment in THR stories.)

DC FanDome felt overwhelming and overkill on first blush, I’ll be honest: a 24 hour livestream based entirely on DC properties? Is that what anyone really wants? But then I remembered that I spent four days last year at a real life convention based around Star Wars, and that’s just one series of movies. FanDome, in that context, suddenly felt like a model of restraint — only 24 hours? And for free? I could even watch from the comfort of my home, and not have to go to Chicago!

With rumors of new footage for the big DC movies of the next year or so, it was obvious that I’d have to cover the show for work, and that’s exactly what happened; I was one of a team of three at THR watching the eight hour block of programming this past Saturday — in many respects, the original plans for FanDome were scaled back before it happened, with a second event announced for the following month less than a week before it took place to host more than half the originally announced content; I’d love to know what happened behind the scenes — and, reader, it was exhausting.

Perhaps it’s because it really was a nonstop eight hour block of programming with little downtime to allow us the chance to write up stories. Maybe it’s because “panels” lasted anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes instead of physical show’s more common 45-60 minute runtime, making everything so frenetic. Or, simply, I could have just been exhausted by working on a Saturday after a long and stressful work week as-was.

All I know is, I was aware that, objectively, DC FanDome was entertaining, slickly produced, fast-paced and, honestly, kind of fun. But, personally, covering it felt like an endurance race that I was not prepared for. I’m, by this point, familiar with attending comic cons where friends say things like, “Oh, that sounds fun!” and I respond with, “No, it was work.” This one, though, despite only being eight hours, and despite seeing me at home the entire time, felt like work.

I did DC FanDome, and I’m really glad that it went well for everyone involved and all the fans that dug it; I think it’ll be a model for future events of this nature, even after COVID, whenever that may be. But I’m also very, very glad that it’s over and I can relax for a bit.