Author: Benjamin Bailey

Halloween costume scare

The Thursday before Halloween brought out the usual early-costume wearers on campus this year. Amid the typical witches, Vikings and fairies, was a poor apparel and accessory choice by one student. According to Brad Plothow from University Marketing, the student, a former member of the military, entered the library wearing military fatigues and a combat helmet, while carrying an air soft rifle mock up of an AR 15. Given the horrific campus shootings that have occurred over the past few years, such as when a gunman shot 48 people on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007, it was not surprising that somebody called the police. According to Plothow the UVU police received a call between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28 from the library. Soon after the call, police officers, some of whom were armed with assault rifles, crept through the library, checking booths and peering out windows. By the time the police arrived, the make-believe solider was already outside, heading towards the Student Center. One of the officers spotted him and they all quickly stormed out of the building, catching up to the costume wearer in the grassy area that lies between the library and the student center. The police discovered that the student meant no harm, but cited the student for disorderly conduct. “It is poor judgment to bring anything that looks like a weapon...

Read More

“A Map in the Dirt”

When you finish reading “A Map in the Dirt,” the new short comic book from our own Utah artist Jess Smart Smiley, you may be left scratching your head. It is a dark, poetic and haunting tale that is also, at times, an overly confusing one. In a lot of ways, “A Map in the Dirt” reads like graphic poetry rather than a graphic novel. The language and imagery are heavy with symbols, almost overflowing at times. While the basic story seems simple enough — a pack of animals on the run from a group of hunters — it quickly becomes clear that this is not a run-of-the-mill chase sequence. For one thing, most of the animals are humans wearing animal masks. The comic’s biggest strength is Smiley’s art. His black and white style is fantastic, easily as good as any indie comic artist out there today. The entire comic is vividly bleak and at the same time absolutely gorgeous. It is hard to image “A Map in the Dirt” having the same impact if someone other that Smiley had handled the artwork. The real question is: will readers pick up an obtuse piece of graphic poetry that revels in its own darkness? We’ll have to wait until April when “A Map in the Dirt” is released by Grimalkin Press. Artists like Smiley that keep pushing the comic book...

Read More

Weather outside is frightful: IDW reprints a long lost graphic novel masterpiece

After being out of print for over twenty years, Winterworld by Chuck Dixon and Jorge Zaffino seemed destined to wallow in obscurity. Though a comic masterpiece, few would ever know it existed. Things were rocky from the beginning of the epic saga. Its sequel, Wintersea, never even made it on to store shelves. Fortunately, the veil has been lifted. Thanks to the folks at IDW, Winterworld and Wintersea are finally being re-released as a stunning black and white graphic novel. Even though it first saw print two decades ago, Winterworld feels like a story written for this generation. Its plot involves a frozen apocalypse, a shift in climate that plunges the Earth into an endless winter. The world’s survivors are left in a frosty dark age of sorts, huddling together in tribes, killing each other for food and shelter and, like the mighty Pizza Hut tribe, worshiping relics of a nearly forgotten society. As climate change becomes a bigger and bigger concern in our world today, Winterworld feels like an ominous warning from our own calamitous future. Chuck Dixon’s work has been recognized in the mainstream comic world for a long time, but little of his work has risen to this level. It’s not because Dixon isn’t any good as a writer —  in fact, he’s extremely talented — it’s just that Winterworld is so good that it’s clearly...

Read More

Local band ready to swim in deeper waters

If you Google “Shark Speed,” most of the nearly seven million results are about the velocity of Great Whites or are links to Discovery Channel’s annual awesome-fest known as Shark Week. In time, that will most likely change if the guys in the local band Shark Speed continue to put out material like their forthcoming Education EP. Typically, when a band calls its album “self released,” it is code for “demo that no record label wanted to put out.” That doesn’t appear to be the case when it comes to Shark Speed. Their music is good, really good. It’s infectious and catchy without being overbearing and annoying. At this rate, it won’t be long before these guys will be forced to sign with a record label — their music has clearly already outgrown the “self released” underworld. EDUCATION makes for a short trip; with only four songs, it leaves you wanting more. While it could be argued that the songs are a bit over-produced, the band’s talent clearly shines through. They have a sound similar to a less complicated Minus the Bear, and that is in no way a bad thing. If anything, Shark Speed has huge potential for mainstream appeal, and Education backs that up. For some high-spirited indie pop, check out Shark Speed’s Education when it releases on Jan. 30. It will prompt many to walk down...

Read More

Joss Whedon delivers one of the decade’s best superhero comics

It’s been a big decade for comic books, and there is plenty of amazing stuff to pick from when looking for the decade’s best. It’s no easy task to sort through ten years’ worth of comics, but if you did, one title consistently rises to the top of even the staunchest critics’ “best of” list. When it comes to epic superhero action and riveting story telling, it’s hard to image it getting any better than Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men. Whedon has always been a top-notch writer. He is the creative force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly...

Read More