Categories
sports Television Uncategorized

Not A Football Fan? Here’s Your Starter Guide.

As we FALL into another September, some of us turn to the time-honored tradition of rooting for our local NFL team and having our hearts toyed with up until Super Bowl Sunday. Others find themselves stuck in the precarious situation of indifference, or perhaps, inability to find meaning in these games, and simply ignore them altogether. In situations where you find yourself stuck in front of a TV on a Sunday, plopped next to a family member, significant other, or friend, and find yourself face to face with an NFL game, we are here to help. The following will be a guide from your GateCrashers Football Friendly team of Dr. Mitchell Powers and Rick Danger, where we intend to cover the basics, and help you go from “I need to go” to “Let’s go team!” Furthermore, look for our new weekly series Fast Five Picks with Dr. Mitchell Powers & Rick Danger where we will give our predictions for the outcomes of upcoming games, making YOU look like the expert.

The NFL is the National Football League, comprised of 32 teams, which are then split into two major conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). To further complicate things, each conference has 4 divisions: North, South, East, and West. All the teams are split, with each team taking 1 of 4 spots in these divisions. Below is a handy infographic to see how everything we just said unfolds:

Dr. Mitch Tip: Most people pick their favorite team based on location, but some people pick their favorite team based on their prowess on the field. It doesn’t matter who you root for, but never buy a football jersey until that player retires.

The NFL plays 17 games (new this year!), with 6 of those games being played within the division. So, say we are the Buffalo Bills, that means we are in the AFC East and will play the Patriots twice, once at home and once away, the Dolphins twice, same deal, and the Jets twice, you get the idea. The rest of the schedule is made up from an algorithm that is really not important, as the real fun lies in these divisional games because they create rivalries and bad blood between the teams. I mean, if you’re Batman, and every night you are fighting the Joker, Two-Face, and the Riddler, but now Calendar Man shows up, I’m sure there is more interest in fighting the other 3 as there is a palpable history. These divisional games are usually circled on team calendars to create a brewing animosity, similar to an 80’s movie montage where the protagonist is training and has the match date crossed out in blood. If your team does well enough and is able to get into the playoffs, that’s when the real fun begins!

Dr. Mitch Tip: When watching the game with friends, make sure to throw in such phrases as : “C’mon!”, “Defense!”, “You got to catch that!”, “Need a stop here!”, and “This dip is really good, what’s the secret?”

The NFL playoffs select the best 14 teams, 7 from the AFC and 7 from the NFC, to determine the final two representatives, 1 from the AFC and 1 from the NFC, which will then face off in the goal of every franchise, the Super Bowl. The first 4 spots go to the division champions from each conference and are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall record. The final 3 spots are for the 3 teams with the best overall record of all remaining teams in the conference. This process is done for both sides and after three rounds, Wild Card Round, Divisional Round, and Conference Round, the surviving two teams play for the Super Bowl. Making the playoffs for your team is a big deal, as realistically every team has a chance of winning. This has even coined the phrase “On any given Sunday,” as the so-called unbeatable teams have lost in the first rounds before. If you want to talk about Super Bowl upsets, look no further than Tom Brady and the Patriots beating one of the best offensive teams in the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, and then on the other side of the coin, Eli Manning and the New York Giants beating a ‘perfect’ Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. That is what makes the game so special, the team can show up looking akin to a god-like Doctor Doom, only to be dispatched by a spunky Squirrel Girl. Now it’s time to get into the important details of the actual game itself!

Dr. Mitch Tip: Some people say “Defense wins Championships!”, while I reply, “There is no such thing as too much chili.”

Your team is made up of 55 players, but only 48 can be active and ready to play on game day. The three most important people on the sidelines are our Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, and Defensive Coordinator. Their roles are similar to their titles, the Head Coach is in charge of the full team and the final decision maker, the offense coordinator focuses on the offense and the defensive coordinator focuses on the defense. Let’s run through the Offense:

Quarterback (QB): Runs the offense on the field, can throw the ball, run the ball, or hand it off

Running Back (RB): Receives the ball from the QB and carries it up the field

Wide Receiver (WR): Catches the ball from QB and carries it up the field

Tight End (TE): Can assist in blocking the opposing team from getting to the QB, but also catches the ball from the QB and carries it up the field

Full Back (FB): Usually bigger and bulkier than a running back, receives the ball from the QB and carries it up the field

Center (C): In front of QB and ‘snaps’ it back to the QB while also protecting the QB from getting hit

Right Guard (RG): Protects the QB from getting hit and also allows the RB to move up the field

Left Guard (LG): Protects the QB from getting hit and also allows the RB to move up the field

Right Tackle (RT): Protects the ‘Blind Side’ of left-handed QBs as they cannot see someone about to hit them from behind

Left Tackle (LT): Protects the ‘Blind Side’ of right-handed QBs as they cannot see someone about to hit them from behind

Kicker (K): They attempt field goals usually from 50 yards and less. They also kick the ball off to the opposing team after touchdowns, at the beginning of the game, and at half-time.

Punter (P): If the offense does not move the ball 10 yards after 3 attempts AND they are too far away to try a field goal, on the 4th attempt the punter will punt the ball away to the opposing team.

Dr. Mitch Tip: The Offensive Line is made up of the Center, Guards, and Tackles. They tend to be some of the highest paid players as they protect the Quarterback. I’ve said an offensive line or two in my day!

Let’s run through the defense:

Linebacker (LB): They can be Middle (MLB) or Outside (OLB) depending on where they line up, but they tend to be the “QBs” of the defense. They are in charge of reading the offense and guessing what play they are trying to run. They can help the defensive lineman or they can drop into coverage and try to stop receivers from catching the ball.

Defensive Tackle (DT): Try and break through the offensive line to get to the Quarterback.

Defensive End (DE): Try and break through the offensive line to get to the Quarterback. They tend to be leaner and faster than DTs as they run around the edge to get to the QB.

Cornerback (CB): They line up with the Wide Receivers and attempt to intercept the ball or prevent the WR from catching the ball.

Safeties (S): They can be Strong (SS) or Free (FS) depending on where they line up but they are in charge of preventing long passes from being caught or can be brought up to the line to help attack the quarterback.

Dr. Mitch Tip: If you bring a piece of your own fence to the game, you can use it as a sign of support for the defense!

Are you still with us? I know it’s a lot to take in, like trying to watch the entirety of the MCU so that the things that are coming up make sense, we get it. However, you know the players, you know why they play, now we get to the important part, the Endgame if you will; the actual game. An NFL game is 60 minutes, four 15-minute quarters, with a halftime of 15 minutes in-between the 2nd and 3rd quarter. The teams meet at mid-field and flip a coin with the winning team determining who will receive the ball and the losing team picking the side they play on. The actual idea of the game is straight forward: be the team with the most points when the game is over. The offense marches down the field to score a touchdown for 6 points and then the kicker kicks an extra point for 1 point, or they march down the field and the kicker kicks a field goal for 3 points. The defenses’ sole purpose is stop any of that from happening. The offense is given 4 downs to move the ball 10 yards, once they are past that 10 yards, it repeats until they score a touchdown or field goal. If they are unable to do so, they punt the ball away to the opposing team, who then attempts the same deal.

Here are some common things you may hear:

Sack: A defensive player has tackled the quarterback behind the line of possession. So, if the ball was on the 45-yard line and the QB has the ball snapped to them, and they are now holding the ball on the 40-yard line, a defenseman tackles them to the ground they are sacked! You will hear them say they lost 5 yards (45-yard line minus 40-yard line is 5 yards) and now the ball is placed at that spot and the next down is played.

Interception: A defensive player has caught a ball thrown by the QB that was intended for another player on the offense. The opposite team’s offense now has the ball and begins their attempt to move down the field.

Holding: This is a penalty where a player has prevented another player from doing something by gripping them, players can push and shove, but cannot hold.

False Start: When a player on the offense moves before the ball is snapped.

Pass Interference: This one is a tough one, a player on offense or defense, uses their body to prevent another player from catching a ball. Most of these calls are bullshit.

Red Zone: When the offense is within 20 yards of the goal line, the plays that can be called are limited as you do not have a lot of field to work with or use.

Fair Catch: When the ball is punted and the return team is trying to catch the ball that has been kicked by the punter, they will waive their arm in the air for a fair catch to prevent themselves from getting hit. This is typically done when the punting team is about to tackle them.

End Zone: This is the part of the football field that is colored in and the ball must cross to count as a touchdown.

Safety: This does not happen too often, but when the offense is backed up to their side of the field, and the QB is sacked in their own End Zone, the opposite team gets 2 points and the offense must kick the ball away.

2-Minute Warning: Two Minutes before the end of the 2nd quarter and the end of the 4th quarter, play is stopped and this acts as an unofficial time out for both teams.

Hail Mary: When a team is losing with little to no time left, the QB sends all of his receivers downfield in am attempt to score a game winning touchdown. They have little chance at success, BUT when they do succeed, it is a lasting memory.

Dr. Mitch Tip: I used to tell my grandma she was ‘Holding’ when she hugged me longer than 10 seconds.

If you have made it this far, throw that ring into Mount Doom and wait for Eagles of Manwë to carry you home because this is Intro to Football. The rest can be learned along the way by either watching games, or perhaps playing them on a video game console. We will be the first to tell you that any die-hard fan LOVES to explain the game to beginners, it’s actually quite refreshing. So, pick your team, find your people, sit back, and enjoy the upcoming season! Don’t forget to be on the lookout for Fast Five Picks with Dr. Mitchell Powers & Rick Danger, only on GateCrashers.

Categories
Comics Food

GateCrashers: Happy Hour Presents Gotham, A Batman Inspired Cocktail

“This city just showed you that it’s full of people ready to believe in good.”

As we approach Batman Day on September 18th, we find no better salute to the Caped Crusader than to serve up a cocktail honoring the city they call home. My love for Batman began with the Tim Burton classic film Batman and was solidified with Batman: The Animated Series. Multiple sessions of the Arkham trilogy later, and we find ourselves here, celebrating one of DC Comics’ legendary characters. The cocktail itself is similar in blueprint to a Manhattan, akin to the fictional city of Gotham being a modified combination of NYC and Chicago, but the differences at the end are what make it unique. Now, sit back in your worn leather chair and let Alfred bring you a Gotham, try to savor it as the BatSignal shines in the distance.

INGREDIENTS

Whiskey, Rye, or Bourbon

Dry Vermouth

Sweet Vermouth

Bitters (Orange preferred)

Ice

MATERIALS

Ten ounce highball glass

Spoon

Measured Shot Glass

Cocktail Shaker

Strainer

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pour Ice into a Shaker and set aside.
  2. Pour 2 shots of Rye into shaker.
  3. Pour ½ shot Dry Vermouth into shaker.
  4. Pour ½ shot of Sweet Vermouth into Shaker
  5. Pour 2 dashes of bitters into Shaker
  6. Stir all the ingredients in the shaker for 10 seconds.
  7. Strain ingredients into chilled highball glass.
  8. Enjoy!
Categories
Interviews Various Media

Interview With Mike Trapp

GateCrashers own RJ Durante sat down with writer, actor, and comedian Mike Trapp to cover his career and current stay as host of Um, Actually… . Mike canvassed his time at CollegeHumor, illuminating listeners to his own path of success from sales to eventually settling in as a Head Writer. We also explored the process behind creating questions for Um, Actually… and his views on celebrity guests. Mike was an interviewer’s dream, personable, witty, and willing to talk about anything. You can catch Mike Trapp on Dropout.tv, or catch episodes after they premiere on YouTube, and make sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeWTrapp.

Categories
Anime

GateCrashers: Happy Hour Presents Starter Pokemon Cocktails

~ I wanna be the very best / Like no one ever was / To catch them is my real test / To train them is my cause ~ Pokemon Theme (Gotta Catch Em’ All)

It was 1998 and the Pokemon phenomena was slowly building up into a frenzy. As a 10 year old boy, I was gifted a a Pokemon Blue GameBoy Game Cartridge as a back-to-school gift from my grandmother. My introduction to this immersive new world began with a simple choice from Professor Oak: Pick your starter Pokemon, the companion that we be with you to the very end of the game. Each one had its own advantages/disadvantages, so my brain was wracked with fear over choosing the wrong one. Eventually I settled one and made my way onto a new adventure. In honor of this beloved franchise, join me as I make cocktails to representing the creatures that became our interactive family.

INGREDIENTS

Watermelon Vodka

Cinnamon Liqueur

Lemon Vodka

Blue-Rasberry Liqueur

Watermelon Seltzer

Apple Cider Seltzer

Lime Seltzer

Cherry Seltzer

Organic Food Dyes

Ice

MATERIALS

Twelve Oz Cocktail Glass (Pokemon coverings optional)

Spoon

Measured Shot Glass

BULBASAUR

  1. Pour Ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Watermelon Vodka into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Watermelon seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!

CHARMANDER

  1. Pour ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Cinnamon liqueur into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Apple Cider seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!

PIKACHU

  1. Pour ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Lemon Vodka into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Lime seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!

SQUIRTLE

  1. Pour Ice into a glass, filling halfway.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Blue-Rasberry Liqueur into glass.
  3. Pour 1 cup (8 oz) of Cherry seltzer into glass.
  4. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!
Categories
Food

GateCrashers: Happy Hour presents Howl’s Falling Star

“You who swallowed a falling star, o’ heartless man, your heart will soon belong to me”

My wife has always been my guiding light when it came to broadening my horizons. She had repeatedly asked me to sit down and watch a Studio Ghibli film with her, but I always found a way to recuse myself from the situation. Never could understand my own hesitation, but perhaps Japanese animation was something I was just not drawn to, no pun intended. During the pandemic, it seems my own apprehensions towards trying something new had been lifted, as my guard was more focused on something a bit graver. Seated beside my wife, I watched Howl’s Moving Castle and came to the stark realization that I was an absolute buffoon for waiting this long. This masterpiece deserved all the praise and accolades that others had given it, who all shared the same sentiment towards my past self: “What do you mean you haven’t seen it?!” Don’t worry, this will not be my last Studio Ghibli film, but Howl’s Moving Castle will forever hold a place in my heart. For our inaugural edition of GateCrashers: Happy Hour, I present to you Howl’s Falling Star, a delightful Blackberry laden summer cocktail. Bottoms Up!

INGREDIENTS

Blackberry Infused Vodka

Blackberry Liqueur

Blackberry White Claw

Lemon (for Garnish)

Crystallized Lemon Packet (Or use juice from lemon)

Ice

MATERIALS

Shaker with strainer

Cocktail Glass

Spoon

Peeler

Measured Shot Glass

Blackberry Infused Vodka

1 Cup of Vodka

6oz Fresh Blackberries

  1. Pour all 6oz of Blackberries into a small mixing bowl.
  2. Using a muddler, whisk, or anything able to crush a small fruit, begin to press the blackberries into puree.
  3. Pour in your cup of Vodka and begin to muddle/whisk the two together. Continue until combined.
  4. Strain out the larger blackberry granules and place in mason jar.
  5. Refrigerate overnight.

Howl’s Falling Star

  1. Place ice into Shaker.
  2. Pour 2 shots (60mls / 2oz) of Blackberry Infused Vodka into shaker.
  3. Pour 1 shot (30mls / 1oz) of Blackberry Liqueur into shaker.
  4. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds.
  5. Place ice into cocktail glass.
  6. Pour 90mls/3oz of Blackberry White Claw into cocktail glass.
  7. Sprinkle Crystallized Lemon Packet into cocktail glass or pour ½ shot (15mls / ½ oz) of lemon juice.
  8. Pour contents of shaker into cocktail glass using strainer.
  9. Stir beverage in cocktail glass.
  10. Use peeler to cut a small strip of lemon peel, commonly referred to as a twist.
  11. Place lemon twist on top of drink and Enjoy!
Categories
Comics

Batman ’89 #1: A Spoiler Free Review

My local comic shop is your typical hole-in-the-wall in terms of size and outward appearance. The owner’s encyclopedic knowledge of everything from lore to new releases is what keeps his sturdy flow of regulars in every Tuesday to Saturday. He saw me enter the shop and shouted: “Batman ‘89?”, receiving my confirming nod, he waved me to the counter and unveiled a sampling of the various covers. “I can give you this one” he pushed the original cover forward, “everything else is sold out.” Unphased, I took home this remarkable piece of nostalgia and devoured it in one sitting. Upon reflection, it only took a brief glimpse of the covers of Batman ‘89 to transport me, and the rest of the potential buyers back to not just ‘our’ Batman, but the Batman.

In June 1989, audiences were gifted their first live-action Batman since the days of Adam West in the 60s. Though uncertainty was cast on the director tapped to helm the project, and the actor who was to don the cowl, this darker, gritty tone of the film set a staple for the future of this DC landmark. Portrayed by the enigmatic Michael Keaton, his Bruce Wayne showed the disparity between the beloved playboy billionaire, and the creature that stalked the rooftops of Gotham by night. For his part, director Tim Burton created a gothic landscape for the iconic city that the caped crusader called home, one that would inspire the look for future ventures, such as the animated programs and video game series. Flash forward to now, and this beloved film finally found its rightful continuation in the hands of author Sam Hamm and illustrator Joe Quinones. 

Batman 89’  #1 opens a short time after the conclusion of the film which entailed a showdown in the cathedral between Batman and the Joker. Part one of this proposed 12-chapter series begins with the city approaching a holiday that many in Gotham should be wary of, Halloween. District attorney Harvey Dent, portrayed by Billy Dee Williams in the film and whose image is used for inspiration in the comic, shows off his trademark double headed coin during a romantic dinner. The guest escorting him is the lovely Barbara Gordon. Yes, you heard that correct. Barbara Gordon and Harvey Dent are dating, and after a flip of said coin, are engaged. High above the rooftops, lurking in his normal spot, we see Batman preparing for something. 

A countdown leads to an attempted robbery with a prevailing Batman forced to make his getaway, while Harvey Dent’s future villainy is briefly exposed. In an attempt to remain spoiler free, we’ll continue on to something equally important in regards to this comic. Friends, this is not your typical Batman, and some readers may not be ready for it. This Batman is harboring technology of the 80s, where you will encounter CD-ROM as the pinnacle of innovation and his style of fighting is less finessed than those we have seen in the runs of Grant, Tynion, or King. This is a true extension of the film itself and will definitely draw the attention of those who consider Keaton’s Batman the archetype for the character.

The story itself fills in the missing pieces between the first and second of Burton’s films. Hamm paid attention to the sharp dialogue of the movie and its balanced approach of the duality of Batman and Bruce Wayne, creating something really worth reading. To Quinones’ credit, the attention to detail was the first thing that reassured me that this was essentially a love letter to Anton Furst, the man behind the Academy Award-winning design of Gotham. Look no further than the first page where we are greeted with civilians in Halloween costumes, but upon further review, are a collection of characters from Burtons greatest hits. I’ll leave it up to you to find them all, but it was a welcome sight that overwhelmed this reviewers’ sentimental side. Before writing this, it was my goal to establish where this would fall on a new readers list of Batman literature to explore. Rather than creating a full-fledged decision tree, it’d be better to ask one simple question. Have you seen the Burton classic Batman? If yes, this is a must read. If not, rent it then read this. You can keep your Kilmer’s, Clooney’s, Bale’s, and Affleck’s, I will take Michael Keaton’s raised eyebrows and knowing smirk any day of the week. He’s Batman!

Categories
Books

Steve Kluger: An Interview with the Acclaimed Author

They say never meet your heroes, literary or otherwise, well, they are wrong because Steve Kluger is just delightful. This multi-hyphenate is responsible for two of my favorite books; Last Days of Summer and My Most Excellent Year, which find their way back into my hands annually and comfort me better than any chicken soup out there. From requesting the interview all the way to our zoom chat, Steve is a constant professional, and funny as hell! Our variety of topics ranged from his impressive writing to the importance of finding the right books for our youth to read. We even dived into his notable activism and his future works. We may have swayed off course a handful of times, but who wouldn’t when you are having that much fun. Enjoy the interview and I encourage everyone to pick up anything written by Steve Kluger. This has been a tough year, but this definitely was My Most Excellent Day!

Categories
Books Uncategorized

Rainbow Bridge: A Spoiler Free Review

Not much is known about what happens to us when we move on from this plane of existence. Outside of the traditional theological debate, it’s fair to say there is one unique acceptance amongst all; the existence of the rainbow bridge. For those unfamiliar, the rainbow bridge is a transitional step for animals. Their own great beyond, similar to a Valhalla where they are deservedly praised as adored heroes. As an owner, it allows you to feel like everything is okay because they are going somewhere better and perhaps you will see them again one day. Losing a four-legged friend is an undecidedly morbid topic when considering how beloved they are, but Rainbow Bridge is now the educational gold standard on the matter. While reading it through quiet sobs and laughter, it became clear that care and love was put into this visually charming graphic novel and many lengths were taken to ensure the reader comes out with a soothing cognizance of their fur baby’s final resting place.

            In Rainbow Bridge, written by the team of Steve Orlando and Steve Foxe with illustrations by Valentina Brancati, we see our young protagonist Andy meet up with his recently deceased pup Rocket in his new pet-utopia. We quickly learn that Andy is the son of two animal-rescue owners, and his life revolves around the compassionate care of those who have been severely mistreated by an unforgiving society. Andy’s journey to the rainbow bridge is an unexplained one as humans are not part of their companion’s hereafter, a thought that this reviewer adamantly hopes is false. His journey has him meeting with a pun-tastically named feline, Pawdrey Hepburn, who was once the pet of his parents at the rescue. Andy’s escapade has him facing many tough feelings that even full-grown adults struggle with, as nothing ages someone like the weight of grief and the absence of closure. Meanwhile, Rocket is trying to find his way in this new reality, while also escaping the grasp of the in-between creatures known as the wraiths. Sticking to our adherence of a no-spoiler policy, it’s prudent we now turn our attention to the bigger mysteries at hand that Rainbow Bridge attempts to uncover. What happens to those who have unfinished business, or in this case, what happens to those who left this world unloved?

For Andy, the lack of closure with the death of his furry best friend and his apprehensiveness of continuing on in this world without his faithful companion is what drives this narrative. Perhaps learning that saying goodbye and the more important realization that it’s not as final as you think. The Steves do a transformative job in relaying these difficult and at times, indescribable emotions by packaging them so neatly into this vibrant graphic novel. It’s a story that will draw tears from those who have had the unfortunate relative experience to go along with the plot. We are then comforted by Brancanti’s exuberant use of color, allowing the reader to be left wondering if the magic that is brought to the page is as wonderous as the real thing. More importantly, we get a glimpse at an oversized dog that is able to be ridden as a horse, and that alone made this entire thing worth the read.

         As an owner who has experienced this grief with the loss of my dog Chase, this was such a tough, yet rewarding piece to read. I was right beside my good boy when he was called to the rainbow bridge, and my only hope was that whatever was on the other side would show him the love that he deserved. There are not many moments in your life that are so solidified as seeing something you consider being a constant in your life, one day just cease to exist. If this graphic novel were to be taken to heart, its message is clear. Show love to everything while it’s here, for when they truly are gone, there unfortunately is no connection to the other side to relay the message. I commend the creators for eliciting such strong emotions, and keeping it light-hearted enough that I expect to re-visit it for future readings. I’ve always envisioned access to the rainbow bridge for a human similar to the test of Mjolnir. Are you worthy, are you still the human that was so worshipped by this animal, that you may play with them forever?  

Like Andy with Rocket, I can live this life knowing I was selflessly loved by my good boy, and will greet him in paradise, I just hope it’s as fantastical as the one I’ve already seen in the Rainbow Bridge.

Categories
Comics

Mayor Good Boy: A Spoiler Free Review

This year has been RUFF. Now, I certainly don’t wag my tail with every piece of literature that falls in my lap, but I came across something special here. Mayor Good Boy, a graphic novel by Dave Scheidt and illustrated by Miranda Harmon, was a cover to cover success, and we can shake on that. Enough with the canine puns for now. But while reading this, I did something that felt unfamiliar; I smiled. I grinned and chuckled like I was a little kid again. It filled my heart with a happiness that hasn’t been seen since pre-2020. With my own good girl Darcy at my feet, a precious golden husky mix, I am delighted to tell you that come August 31st, this will be my go-to back-to-school gift for any child or parent.

Mayor Good Boy (Written by David Scheidt and illustrated by Miranda Harmon) / Source: Random House Graphic.

Welcome to Greenwood! An idyllic little town that made arguably the most progressive political decision of the past century, by electing a dog their mayor! Supported by the sibling team of Abby and Aaron, and his aide Ms. Monica, our Good Boy takes his job very seriously. Aside from a series of nap breaks and delectable cheese slices, this might be the right person dog for the job. Unfortunately, as we have seen in our own timeline, elections do bring out the worst in people, and one person, in particular, has it out for our four-legged friend. With a series of ensuing hijinks and the floofiest politician you have ever seen, this graphic novel might be the cure for your pandemic blues.

Mayor Good Boy (Written by David Scheidt and illustrated by Miranda Harmon) / Source: Random House Graphic.

The real success of Mayor Good Boy falls on writer Dave Scheidt who creates a marvelous story that resonates with readers young and old. My 7-year-old sat beside me and was entranced by the easy-to-follow plot and laugh-out-loud moments that continued in each panel. Did I mention that illustrator Miranda Harmon creates a dog so cute that certain moments left me exclaiming an audible “aww”?

For someone who has been entrusted with some of this summer’s darker horror comics to review, I must say that this was a treat I didn’t need to beg for. At a time when everything seems inexplicably terrible, it’s books like this that remind us that perhaps a dog really should be in charge. I may appear to be an expert on something like this, but don’t take my word for it; GateCrasher’s own good girls howled with approval over Mayor Good Boy.

RJ’s dog, Darcy (Left), and Dan’s dog, Dinah (Right) posing with their new favorite book / Source: RJ and Dan.

Categories
Comics

Review: Double Walker – Thoir dhomh fear eile (Pour Me Another)

Tha Dia Gad Dhion. Gibberish to most, but to the Northern Scots these Gaelic words hang heavier in the air than their morning fog: “God Protects You”. Our young lovers Emma and Cully, unfamiliar with this native tongue, spend their “baby-moon” gallivanting across the highlands in search of the last thrill before their bundle of joy arrives. Friendly locals, including a dear Bed & Breakfast owner, impart their wisdom on these two about the haunted lands they are to see, but like most in their situation, it’s played off as mere fairy tales to get a rise out of visitors. One fateful hiking trip leads these two down a dark and winding road where even the reader is left in the dark until the very last panel. In Double Walker, we see a monster take shape, but maybe not one from the hills, but rather from the deep recesses of one’s mind.

Before diving in further, it’s important to unveil my own relationship to this particular narrative. My Grandmother was 5 years old when they sent her up to the highlands as a safety precaution during the air raids of World War II. Her knowledge of the area was limited to tales her own uncles would tell her after their trips to Speyside for the finest single malt scotch whisky. Unlike the Pevensie children of the Narnia series who languished in an estate, her lodgings were in a modest house on the outskirts of a village with two of her sisters. She didn’t relay much information to me, as even she states she was too young to remember it all, but her time in the highlands left her something she did choose to impart. “The land is old up there, but there are things up there that are much, much older.”

My love for horror may only be outweighed by my love for Scotland. Suffice to say, I was engrossed before I even lifted the first page. The dreary, yet can’t look away illustrations from Noah Bailey gives the readers hesitation to turn the next page, not due to contempt, but rather due to fear. From the faces filled with horror to these creatures that go bump in the night, the artistry grabs you and doesn’t let go. The limited color palette, heavily leaning on greys, still gives us this contrast of the beauty of Scotland and the bleakness of the unfolding story. This is where writer Michael W. Conrad cements his name as a prolific storyteller and one whose name will become synonymous with terror in the near future. He shapes relatable characters from the first few panels, one whose story you want to hear, and futures you are vested in.

There are moments where the reader will have to collect their thoughts, and breath, as we uncover more, yet still feel left in the dark. The highest praise I can say is it reads like a classic King tale; the story grips you and drags you through the emotional gamut, unrelenting, uncompromising, and unsettling, but you absolutely love it.

Conrad and Bailey did not disappoint as this is my top recommendation right now especially to those who are looking for something to read on one of those summer nights where the thunder is crashing down, the rain is pelting the window, and the only solace is a blanket. So pour yourself a cup of tea, or perhaps even a glass of the good stuff, as you venture to a place where the line between the worlds is thinner than most. As you’ll soon find out, there aren’t many happy endings in Scottish Fae Tales.