Saturday, November 05, 2011

Top of the Pop Art Productions

I always take a great nerdish interest in the monthly American comic sales figures, but never more so than now, when I want to see whether DC Comics' "New 52" is working like it should. Sales figures aren't entirely useful just yet, of course - they're based on how many copies of each comic the comic shops have ordered, so it'll be another month or two before we can really see whether new people are buying them and making their feelings known.

But with that proviso, I'm pleased to see that OMAC, which was 52nd out of 52 in September, has moved up to the heady heights of number 49 in the October chart. And that it's been replaced on the bottom rung by Men Of War, which you might recall me describing as the worst comic I've seen in all my born days. I'm a bit surprised by that, actually - it's not my cup of tea, but I expected it to find a solid audience among the armchair commandos of America.

I do always feel that Superman should be outselling Batman - I mean, come on, he's got real super-powers! - but the caped crusader continues to pull in more readers at the top of the charts. And Green Lantern is edging closer to knocking the big red cheese (no, wait, that was Captain Marvel) off the second-most-popular-superhero spot, too.

Highest climber? Animal Man, up from 35 to 27. Actually, it's improved since my scathing review of #1 - now that the artist doesn't have to draw normal people so much and gets to fill the comic with hideous twisted mutations, it looks better.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Let's talk about the World Championship

I've been so wrapped up in that other business that I haven't even looked at the scores of the World Othello Championship until today, let alone sat in front of the live coverage of games waving a little British flag!

As we stand at the moment, Piyanat Aunchulee of Thailand is trying to fight off a Japanese team that looks even stronger than usual (Tomoya Toda, Hiroki Nobukawa and Kazuki Okamoto - not people I know, but they certainly seem to know their black from their white). Our own Imre Leader isn't out of touch with the leaders (I'm sorry, but it's really hard to avoid that pun when he's always so high up the leaderboard of any othello championship) after a bad start, but he'll have to do something special to get into the semi-finals tomorrow. Youthful Europeans Nicky and Matthias look like they might yet prevent an all-Asian final day, as does Canada's finest, Tim Krzywonos (who I haven't seen for well over a decade and must say hi to some time). And actually, Matt Vinar from Australia is on five points after eight games, too, so it might yet be a wildly multi-continental top four!

If you're in Newark (fake American Newark, not real Newark down the road from me), go along and cheer them all on!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

World Memory Championship update

I'm not going.

It's a month before the competition, and all we're hearing is debates about whether it's going to happen, whether there'll be any prizes and whether anyone will go. In the complete absence of any communication from the people running the event, I've been waiting for the German gang to decide whether or not they're going before I book my tickets - I know they've been talking with the WMSC about the last-minute changes and shambolic organisation - and when I had an email last night from Boris, Mister Memory Enthusiasm himself, saying he still didn't know whether he'd be going, that was the final straw.

If I'm not excited about the World Memory Championship with a month to go, there's something seriously wrong. I've decided it's time to flex whatever remaining muscle I've still got in memory-competition circles and make a stand - because if I don't, I can see what's going to happen: we'll all go to the competition anyway, it'll be generally rubbish, and then next year will be even worse. So I'm staging a one-man boycott, and if the handful of people who haven't already done the same want to join me, more power to you.

This isn't the kind of decision I take lightly, you know. The World Memory Championship has basically been my entire life for the last decade. But this year's event just doesn't feel like the World Memory Championship any more. It's very sad...

I do feel guilty about depriving people of the opportunity to beat me, of course. When I won the WMC in 2004, I got no end of "Well, Dominic O'Brien wasn't there" responses, even though I would have totally beaten him if he had been. I'm not sure if my absence would have that effect on this year's winner, but I still feel bad about it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wednesday is comic day

It's official, I like DC Comics enough now that I'm going to have to place a standing order in a comic shop to make sure I get my comics every week before they sell out. Well, it's that or move to London (I was down there today) and just get my comics from Forbidden Planet, whose London branch routinely seems to order several hundred more copies of every American comic than they can possibly hope to sell.

Assuming I stay in this locality, that gives me three choices of comic shops to make my regular suppliers, and the decision is fraught with social difficulty - if I choose one shop to get all my comics from, the other two will be offended! I won't be able to show my face in there again! So let's examine the three choices:

Chimera is in Beeston, just down the road from me, which is a plus. When it gets wintery, going into Nottingham is more of a hassle. On the other hand, it's not really a comic shop so much as a role-playing games shop with a few comics on a shelf in the corner. The place is always jam-packed with people rolling dice and moving figurines around tables.

Page 45 in Nottingham is a shop I've been going to for many, many years, except for that five-year period when I was living in Derby and there was still a comic shop there. But before that, I was on semi-first-name terms with the guy who runs the place (he knew my name, I don't remember whether I ever knew his and we're long past the point where I can comfortably ask...) and I still feel guilty about talking to him when I've bought my comics at Forbidden Planet, seeing as they're the big evil corporation and he's the small local family business kind of place. Well, I don't think he's got a family, but that's not the point.

Forbidden Planet is the big evil corporation, but on the other hand they do have a policy of selling comics slightly cheaper than other local comic shops can afford to, so I could save some money there. And they do strike me as more likely than the other local shops to be able to actually get the comics I ask them to get without making a mess of it somehow. And the people who work there are actually really nice and not at all like tools of corporate sci-fi-and-comic-retailing.

I think it might have to be Page 45. They look so darn reproachful if they see someone come in with a Forbidden Planet bag...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Freedom and mysteries

Sorry for the lack of bloggery this last week or so. I'm now gainfully unemployed again, and I've been down in Cardiff today for what I'm calling Project X, and will tell you about in a couple of weeks. It was fun, anyway!

I'm hoping to spend the next month preparing for the World Memory Championship, just in case it does actually take place and I do actually go to it. I've got a training schedule in mind, and we'll just have to see whether I can stick to it.