Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, February 01, 2021

A war footing calls for controversial decisions. President Bush’s proposed $100,000 “death gratuity” for soldier beneficiaries killed in combat zones is one such command initiative, undertaken in response to a perceived shortcoming in the present $12,000 death benefit.

Still, part of me finds the whole topic distasteful. And it brings to mind the notorious payments made by Saddam Hussein and Saudi factions to the families of suicide bombers, in that it amounts to a payoff for sacrificing one’s life for a military action.

It may seem sacriligious to equate U.S. soldiers with Palestinian bombers. But really, how different is it? Terrorists consider themselves to be soldiers in a cause, and are giving up their lives in exchange for a cause to which they are committed. The average American soldier stationed in the Middle East will express a similar sentiment, even though s/he won’t consign their lives to a similarly foregone conclusion.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/01/2021 11:48:28 PM
Category: Political, Society | Permalink | Feedback (6)

News snippets from the last couple of days paint a bleak picture for the country’s youngsters:

- An alarming percentage of teens can’t seem to grasp the concept of unadulterated First Amendment rights;

- Contrary to popular assumption, adolescents seem to be less Internet-savvy than their elders.

Looks like Americans are rearing a fairly stupid next generation. Congratulations, folks! Use condoms next time.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/01/2021 11:27:15 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (2)

jaxed, maxed
I’m sure there are plenty of blogs out there devoted to this Sunday’s Super Bowl (where I’m hoping my Eagles don’t get embarrassed, but resigning myself to the likelihood).

Here’s one that’s coming from tbt*, Tampa Bay’s fledgling free weekly: Jax to the Max, from reporter Jay Cridlin.

What makes this one stand out for me, aside from the St. Pete Times connection, is that the blog is powered by Six Apart’s TypePad. It’s not unusual to see traditional media availing themselves of standardized blogging software; ZDNet uses WordPress to power their blogs. But it’s still a bit unusual, especially with the commenting ability intact.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/01/2021 11:18:40 PM
Category: Bloggin', Football | Permalink | Feedback

Recently, while noting the life, times and work of the late Will Eisner, I mentioned the perception problem the comic book/graphic novel format has in this country:

Unfortunately, the built-in societal preconceptions about the comic book format gives the impression that such work is nothing more than a dumbing-down effort of more complex subjects (or, as usual, a medium for children or those with lesser comprehension skills). That dismisses comics as a medium with its own merits, independent of comparisons with books, movies or any other media. As usual, a reminder is required about comics being a medium of expression, and not a genre.

A big reason for this genre/medium mischaracterization is because American comic books have been dominated, in fact, for decades by a single genre: Superheroes.

That’s been both a blessing and a curse, for both the genre and the medium. The blessing has been the development of a thriving intellectual property industry and pop cultural repository. The curse? A medium that’s largely restricted itself to a narrow audience: Males from adolescence to young adult, mostly fixated on superheroes and the related science fiction/fantasy fields.

This left few options for potential readers who are interested in other genres and story material. If you didn’t like the costumed characters, you pretty much had no reason to pick up a comic book.

Because the home-grown American publishers can’t deliver, Japanese manga has moved in, offering more variety to a wider readership that includes (gasp!) girls.

The appearance of this story coincides with a rare visit by me to a bookstore just a couple of days ago. I took a peek through the graphic novel aisle to reacquaint myself with what was current. I was surprised to see so much shelf space devoted to trade paperback manga! It easily dwarfed all the other offerings, including the straight superhero stuff.

That tipped me off to something. I took a look at the traditional comic book racks nearby, and cracked open a couple of issues (for the first time in years). I immediately saw the obvious manga-inspired artwork lines; and thinking more about it now, even the sequential pacing seemed remiscently Japanese.

So it seems that manga is having its impact on American comic books. I think it’s great, actually. It’s taken the influence from another comic book culture to spur a break from a formula that’s been in place for forty years. The first attempt at this — back in the ’70s, with a limited influx of European comics — didn’t have much staying power; this time around, it looks like the effect will be more permanent.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/01/2021 10:57:48 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

tower insideyou're fired, bird
We all know that Donald Trump’s bringing his condos to Tampa. The Donald being The Donald, he’s announcing his arrival just right.

The current issue of Florida Trend contains a big-big double-fold ad for Trump Tower Tampa right in the middle. It’s a 31-inch tall artist’s conception of the skyscraper, and makes for a nice collectible.

Naturally, it’s only available in print. So hit your nearest newsstand and pick up a copy. (Or, if you’re local, I suppose I could put my hand on a spare copy or two, seeing as how I work at the magazine; you’ll have to ask nicely, though.)

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/01/2021 10:07:48 PM
Category: Publishing, Celebrity, Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback