Movie Review: If I Stay

if i stay

Nutshell: I’d give If I Stay an A-. This is a movie that pulls all the right strings at all the right times.  Yeah it’s in your face about it, but the story and it’s actors suck you in so totally that you won’t mind. Mia’s parents are a bit too perfect but that’s cool. Isn’t Gen X just the best anyway?

Being a teenager is rough. Ask any John Hughes film, or just pick up any of the zillion YA novels that have taken the world by storm of late. But for proud cello geek Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz), it’s about to get much rougher. Her beautiful but taken-for-granted world is about to be shattered as a car accident destroys her family, and leaves her in a coma. Will she have the strength to live and try to achieve her dreams after tragedy, or will she let herself slip away?

What I loved most about this story is the idea of family, and while the nuclear bit is important, family is so much more than the sum of your parents and any siblings you may have. It’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, “aunts”, “uncles”, BFFs, significant others. All the people that touch your life. Mia’s struggle is compounded when she has to decide to add these connections to the mix, and the many, many flashbacks show exactly how beautifully messy her life is. The cherry on top of that particular sundae is Adam (Jamie Blackley, The Fifth Estate), Mia’s rocker boyfriend, whose band is just beginning to get noticed. As Mia lies in a hospital bed after the accident — her “spirit” an insubstantial but aware part of her surroundings — family members come and go, and Adam tries desperately to see her. Cue the scenes of their meeting, their courtship, and their current difficulties!

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Review in a Flash: When The Game Stands Tall

Sometimes I’m too lazy for a full-out piece. Sometimes everything I’ve got to say about a film can be summarized in a sentence or two. Sometimes it’s both. So herewith, a quick-n-dirty on the high school football film When The Game Stands Tall!

Nutshell: Gotta give The When Game Stands Tall a C-. Director Thomas Carter (Coach Carter) is a man that does fantastic work with football game scenes.  But the first half of the film is choppy and confusing.  In trying to pay homage to the truth, this film gets bogged down by all the details that are desperately shoehorned in, with little exposition to help it all fit.  Top-notch action and pacing at the end can’t fully compensate for a film that doesn’t understand itself ’til the last quarter.

Before: Go sportsball!  As much as I enjoy (wearing my team colors and drinking beer with friends) watching sports from time to time, I often take a pass on sports-themed films.  But this is based on a true story, and it’s gotta be better than Draft Day, right?  I’m getting a full-on Friday Night Lights wannabe vibe on this one.  Let’s go!  *clap*

During: Where have I seen this Ryan character before?  Oh yeah — he’s Cato in Hunger Games!  [and he's in Vikings; that'd be Alexander Ludwig].  Whatever, he’s great as a kid trying to find himself and deal with a stage-door (locker-room-door?) dad that’s too into the record books to be into his kid. [That'd be Clancy Brown.  The Kurgan!  There can be only one, MacLeod!]  But damn there’s a whole lot of WTF in this film.  Which makes me feel like a douche, because said WTF deals with a players parents dying, a kid getting shot, and all sorts of downer stuff that happens in Real Life™.  But all this serves to derail the story.  Whose story are we telling?  Everyone’s?  How long is this film?  I’m so confused.  Perhaps this is a Christian Film hidden underneath all the sportsball bluster.  There’s a whole lotta Him around here.  Not that the J-Dog ain’t a good thing.  But it’s much more than even a film set in a Christian school “needs” to have to serve the storyline.  Hey, if it’s in that genre this film would get an A, compared to a lot of the so-so stuff pawned off onto that audience.

After: I’m betting a whole lot of folks will forgive the first half/three-quarters of the film thanks to the absolutely kickass way the director can shoot anything having to do with football.  Training?  You can almost smell the testosterone, and feel the burn.  Games?  Heart’ll be in your throat, and the action in your face. The final quarter, with the De La Salle team playing The Game?  Da-yam y’all, that was heart-in-throat time even for me.  And it was fun to see Laura Dern play a normal gal who just wants to spend more time with her coach hubby, rather than a gal screaming at dinosaurs or being a one-woman emotional wrecking ball.  And it’s good to see The Shield‘s Michael Chiklis play a football coach, rather than a cop with antisocial personality disorder.  With Dern and Chiklis, it’s fun to watch ‘em froth.  But they’re damn good actors, so it’s nice to watch them take a “normal person” role and deliver great performances.  Pity the story is so muddled that nobody will really notice.  Wanna see kids tear up the gridiron?  This’ll do ya.  More than that?  Re-watch Friday Night Lights.

Local PLB Comics to debut Halloween Special issue at Baltimore Comic-Con

YES. Yes yes yes. That’s all. Just check out the fine art on the cover and tell me you don’t wanna get your hands on this issue. Halloween coming early? I’m a’ight with that y’all. Just a few weeks ’til the ‘Con, and hello beautiful.

And they’re not lying about the free high-fives at PLB.  Got one last year.  Buy horror!  Buy local!  Exclamation point!

PLB Comics to Debut Halloween Special at BCC


BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – August 21, 2014 - PLB Comics will be debuting their third annual Halloween Special at Baltimore Comic-Con 2014. The special offers up tales of horror and suspense from such notable creators as Nikkol Jelenic (table A220), Cheltsey Vann, Brian Spicer, Ryan Thompson, Frank Dawson Jr., Josh Shockley, James Dufendach, and Isai Jose Leal Garza, with a cover by the incomparable Neil Vokes.

PLB is the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s most prolific indie comics publisher, with 14 books in print and thousands of copies sold. Their main titles, The Fall (a gritty vigilante title) and Gideon & Sebastian (a buddy cop, vampire slayer, action comedy with no sparkling) have been featured at BCC for over eight years. PLB Comics is an independent group of artists and writers based on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with contributing artists and writers all over the world. PLB Comics offers original concepts and fresh perspectives on the world of Sequential Art, while maintaining an appreciation of mainstream classics.

“Baltimore is a fantastic show. It is by far our favorite big show. BCC’s continued support of indie publishers and focus on the medium makes it an extremely welcoming place for creators and attendees alike,” said James Dufendach, Editor/Letterer at PLB Comics.

Be sure to stop by tables A218 – A219 to check out PLB’s full line of titles and prints, and to pick up their 2014 Halloween Special. And as always, free high 5’s are available for the asking!

Find out more about PLB:


General Admission and VIP Package tickets for Weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are now on sale! Visit for more information and to purchase your advanced tickets now!

Stop the presses: Drink and Draw coming again to Baltimore Comic-Con!

Image: Baltimore Comi-Con Drink-and-Draw

Image: Baltimore Comi-Con Drink-and-Draw

Hooray, it’s official!  Baltimore Comic-Con’s Drink and Draw’s Facebook page has said that this year will definitely see a Drink-N-Draw during Baltimore Comic-Con!  Last year was pretty awesome, and so if you’re in town for the ‘con, definitely make plans to grab a pint and some really cool art on the cheap.  Yeah cheap.  Why?  Okay fine; Drink-and-Draw isn’t just about beer & art, it’s also for a good cause.  Team Cul-de-Sac raises money to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Nice, right?

Looks like this year will have a waterfront view, as the event will be at Hooters Harborplace, a quick & easy walk from the convention center.  Wings, beer and artists gettin’ crafty.  What more could you ask for?

Okay fine.  I’ll take better pictures than I did last year.  Promise.  Because I have a better camera that’s why mom; stop bugging me.

See you there!


Avatar Press coming to Baltimore Comic-Con


Yeah baby.  Love horror comics?  I know I do.  So you know I’m super excited to see that this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con will host Avatar Press!  That’s right.  All the good stuff baby.  CrossedUberExtinction ParadeGod is DeadStitched Night of the Living Dead Aftermath!  And you can stand around and beg for spoilers all you want.  Just me?

Check out the full press release after the jump!
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SPX announces this year’s Ignatz Award nominees!

SPX Banner 2014Summer’s wrapping up; Back-To-School stuff is on store shelves, and did I see pumpkins and bats at the craft store? (Hint: yes.)  So that means it’s time for the Small Press Expo to release it’s yearly crop of top-notch small press comic creators that have been nominated for Ignatz Awards!  Yaaaay!  *flails arms like Kermit*

Straight from their PR folks:

Small Press Expo Announces 2014 Ignatz Award Nominees
For Immediate Release

Bethesda, Maryland; August 18, 2014 Media Release ­—

The Small Press Expo (SPX), the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels and alternative political cartoons, is pleased to announce the 2014 nominees for the annual presentation of the Ignatz Awards, a celebration of outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning.

The Ignatz, named after George Herriman’s brick-wielding mouse from his long running comic strip Krazy Kat, recognizes exceptional work that challenges popular notions of what comics can achieve, both as an art form and as a means of personal expression. The Ignatz Awards are a festival prize, the first of such in the United States comic book industry.

The nominees for the ballot were determined by a panel of five of the best of today’s comic artists, Darryl Ayo, Austin English, Melissa Mendes, Thien Pham and Whit Taylor, with the votes cast for the awards by the attendees during SPX. The Ignatz Awards will be presented at the gala Ignatz Awards ceremony held on Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 9:30 P.M.

Additional information on the nominees and previews (as available) can be found at

Once again we want to thank our our friends at comiXology for sponsoring the Ignatz Awards. Information on comiXology and their self-publishing portal Submit can be found at

Read on for the full list of nominees.  And a huge congratulations to all nominees!

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Baltimore Screening Pass-palooza: When The Game Stands Tall


Are you ready for some football? Or maybe just wanna see a cool docudrama? If you don’t want to choose between the two, why not check out When The Game Stands Tall, a film based on a true high school football story?

Here’s the synopsis from the lovely and talented PR folks:

Inspired by a true story, WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL tells the remarkable journey of legendary football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel), who took the De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a 151-game winning streak that shattered all records for any American sport.

I wish that coach had been at my high school; dunno if we ever won a game….

Read on to see how to get a 4-pack of passes for you and yours!

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