Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Return To Macross #26, Academy Blues #4, Romance #1, and Academy Blues #5

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

So Spring is just around the corner and by looking at the reading/watching order list I am not doing so well. I think that once I get into the shows things will speed up a lot so never fear!

For those of you who don't know what the heck I am talking about check out my first blog post about my 2012 'total Robotech experience' and feel free to join in.

You will probably notice (if you haven't already) that I do alot of griping about the comics. Don't get me wrong, I love Robotech! There are places you can go on the net and see synopsis about the comics and such and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to throw my perspective about the comics and not just retell them to you in boring blog format. I might whine about art or bad lettering but I am enjoying the experience so just accept it! Let's roll out!

Return To Macross #26 (Academy 1995)

Michelle Birchfield is back as artist. Like I said before she isn't bad, at times she draws beautifully and some of her characters look great but they aren't very anime-like. At some points he art is a little 'iffy.

On page 7 Brian Bernard looks a little retarded. Derp!

Macross city seems VERY futuristic in Ms. Birchfield's panels. A little too futuristic at times!

Many of the drawings in the middle of the comic of Brian are very '80's' looking... like some thing out of an A-ha video! I like them.

Page 20... wtf...

On page 25 they talk about Robocon 10 which happened the month before.

Academy Blues # 4 (Academy 1995)

The artist for this issue is Frances Birchfield. I am not sure if Frances and Michelle are the same person or sisters or something. A quick look on the net resulted in no extra info. Michelle did attend Robocon 10 but no mention of Frances.

Frances' art is rough at times. Character's heads are way too big for their bodies and there are times I think I might have drawn a particular panel better (and that's saying something). I realize Academy didn't have big bucks to hire mega stars of the art world.

On page 8 is an advertisement for the 'swimsuit issue'. I have never liked that. Sure I am a guy and all but Minmei in those kinds of bathing suits... sheesh. She would be FAR too prudish to wear any of that!

On page 9 Roy has a super mullet... wait a second! Oh man... I just noticed that their 'pages' don't match up. The story line is numbered but the pages in between (the ads) are not. When I tell you guys to check out the ad on page 8 (or 9, or whatever) I am looking at the last numbered page and adding whatever number onto it. Well, just try to keep up. I'll just continue to do it that way...

On page 14 Simon Lebon makes an appearance... wait that's Roy.

When Claudia leaves the UEG building Roy follows and tells himself she went down 'Gibson Street'... is that a little nod to himself (the writer of the comic)?

So the guy that was following Lisa confronts Roy outside the UEG building which on a few pages back was guarded by armor-clad troops. Roy and this guy fight right out there but conveniently the guards are gone.

Romance #1 (Academy 1995)

Question answered! Both Michelle and Frances Birchfield are drawing this issue so they ARE separate people. You may all breath normally again.

Romance is an comic of shorter comics. A one shot of one shots if you will. With Gibson, the Birchfield Sisters and Seripo Calm (who is a first here) come together to write and draw 'the more romantic side' of Roboteh.

The fist segment presents itself as one of Lisa's old roomate's songs and is simple artwork with accompanying lyrics to various scenes in Lisa's love life.

Why o why was Karl Rieber in the military? What a puss, always wining about war and crap but still joining up!

Two Beers with a Skirt Chaser is the next tale and it's about Roy (of course). The art from Calm is... very.. Disney XD. It looks like Disney redesigned Robotech for their weekday Clubhouse Disney or something, very cartoony.

Roy drinks his way to near un-coherentness in this little tale. Rolf Emerson tries to talk some sense into the lush but nothing is working. Roy is hung up over Claudia and finds his woes are lessened in some cheap booze.

The final story is 'When the Going Gets Tough' by Gibson as well. It's about someone named Georgia (you may remeber that she works at the Academy with the simulators. Apparently she needs to seriously get laid (I kid I kid)!

She is having some very strange dreams about Rolf Emerson and the 'Bridge Bunnies' before they were actually bridge bunnies. I think Georgia just needs to NOT eat at least four hours before bed... that will stop those freaky dreams. Either way I am even more confused when at the end of the dream it's Sammie who is dreaming (and was at the beginning of the comic).

One page 7 is a STUNNING announcement from Academy. They write to everyone that they will no longer be doing Robotech comics in the coming year. After December of 2006 they will no longer be publishing or selling back issues. Oh the horror!

Academy Blues #5 (Academy 1996)

I can certainly see the differences between Michelles and Frances' art. Michelle uses softer edges while Frances' art has more straight lines.

Sammie is bummed because she is having to earn a living and Vanessa and Kim are free to be perverts.

We also see more simulator hijinks at the Robotech Academy with Georgia and the man she hankers for (Tom, who just don't look right). Lisa is barking at the other cadets (what's new) and life goes on.

We get a bookend to this issue with the explanation as to how someone so young (Lisa) could have become a Lieutenant in the RDF. She along with Rolf Emerson are promoted in the Academy and will graduate with those positions.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Academy Blues #1-2, Tempest #1, and Academy Blues #3

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.Com)

Welcome back to my year long look into the world of Robotech! This post is going to start out with Academy Blues #1-2, then jump over to Tempest #1, and then back to Academy Blues #3. If you are wondering why I am splitting these up you just need to refer to my post about the reading order of Robotech for 2012. This format is chronological to the storyline and Tempest is set between the 2 issues of Academy Blues 2 and 3. Let's get going!

Academy Blues #1 (1995 Academy)

Sean Bishop is the artist again and this comic looks great. He really has a nice grasp on the look of Robotech. Many of the character art is DEAD ON to the cartoon. His skill is unsurpassed.

The first page has Lisa remembering the past and the type setter used cursive writing for those few thought bubbles and it was really hard to decipher.

The title art is a 2 page spread of the SDF-1 with Lisa looking down on it from atop a building (the academy possibly). It's a nice visual but the SDF-1 looks a little out of proportion.

In the grand scheme of things the early days of the Robotech Academy would have probably gone a lot like we see it here in the comic. Classes about a whole lot of useless information that will be be forgotten by the beginning of the next semester. After the reappearance of the aliens in 2009 I figure things would have changed dramatically. From the massive loss of life and the quickly reduced forces of the RDF, classes (post Pluto space fold) were probably few and far between. New recruits probably got fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants training and quickly thrown into battle. Long gone were the days of boring lectures and useless information.

Academy Blues #2 (Academy 1995)

Tavisha Wolfgarth takes over as artist in this next issue about Lisa and the Robotech Academy. I enjoyed his art. It certainly leans more towards traditional Japanese Manga in style.

Lisa and the rest of the crew of the bridge (sans Sammie who is too young for the academy at this point) continue through the Robotech Academy. Lisa writes Karl telling him about the trials and tribulations that she must face.

Lisa talks with someone called Rolf which I assume is Rolf Emerson again (as we have seen in previous issues) but the new artist draws him differently here.

The interview that we saw with Cark Macek back in Return To Macross is repeated here so there is nothing new to read.

Tempest #1 (Academy 1995)

This is the first (at least chronologically) comic drawn by a chick. Michelle Birchfield does a passable job but the characters don't look very anime'ish. This comic is a one shot of Roy Fokker.

The panels range from crude to quite beautiful. I couldn't say she was good at any one particular aspect (character vs. mecha) since the quality ranges around. Several of the pages actually have very little are on them at all! Take a gander at pages 10-11.

On page 22 a single shot from a gun somehow blows up a Veritech... really?

Before I could even blink the comic was over! Woman steals Veritech, Roy chases woman. Woman and Roy crash on island. Woman tries to kill Roy and for no real explained reason woman kills herself. That's all! I just don't know why they would bother releasing this. If I had the rights to release Robotech comics (or any comics for that matter) I'd do a lot of planning and make sure each comic I released was worth reading, buying, and worthy of the Robotech name.

Academy Blues #3 (Academy 1995)

Laz Berry takes over for this issue as artist. Ouch! I would have to say this is my least favorite artist. Infact I had a hard time figuring out characters here. The action doesn't come across well either.

Gibson's writing isn't as good as Spangler's either. This issue disappointed me after I got somewhat involved with the previous issues of Academy Blues.

One more bitch (sorry). The lettering here is good but the bubbles and placement in bubbles is really bad.

 The story happens around some sort of spy device planted on the beach that (I think) Rolf discovers and a small firefight (I think) breaks out with some spys who were working as guards in that area. Like I said the action was really hard to follow. The rest of the issue was Lisa moaning on and on about it. What a whiner! :) I kid I kid!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Academy Blues #0 and Return To Macross: Issues 21-25

by Nathan Stout of (AccordingToWhim.com)

Academy Blues #0 (Academy 1995)
This is a whopping 40+ page comic which revolves around Lisa Hayes' days at the Robotech Academy. This type of storyline is the kind of thing I like. It gets more involved with the characters. When you have a nice mixture of the action and character's lives it really makes for interesting reading.

Roy Fokker shows up to lecture at one of her classes and on page 9 the students throw some funny questions at him.

Rolf Emerson is brought into continuity here as well. Claudia is smitten with him.

The comic only lasts the first 24 pages and then we are given an interview with the writer of the Academy Blues series: Robert Gibson. After that there is another interview, this time with artist Sean Bishop.

Return To Macross #21 (Academy 1995)

Bill Spangler and Wes Abbot are back on the case as we swing back to the Return to Macross series. We pick back up with the trouble with the 'Faithful' group on Macross Island.

Roy and Lang mosey on down to a special submarine that is kept on standby to safe all Lang's research away in the event something goes down on Macross. The sub takes off by itself and Roy has to takes steps to figure out what's going on and who is doing it.

On page 18 (after Roy has gotten ahold of a ridiculously large missile launcher) Lang dumps his research to distract the probe. It is a box of... floppy discs... come on! Even in 95 there were CDs...

Return To Macross #22 (Academy 1995)

This issue opens with Lang's sister Nina talking about how the SDF-1 is a timebomb then we cut to Roy and Lang talking at the Robotech HQ. I for one would like to know how the HECK they got out of the fix they were in during the last issue! They seems to have just dropped that storyline. Roy and Lang were prisoners inside that sub that was being remotely controlled then... nothing. I figured they would still be on it but I guess when they destroyed that probe thingy it released control (although nothing was ever mentioned).

On page 9 I could see the outline of a T.A.C. solider and sure enough on the next page there is the Southern Cross armor. Once again I like the fact that they are mixing that stuff in but it doesn't fit into the cartoon at all. If we are seeing it now I would assume we would have seen it in Macross City on the SDF-1... just sayin'.

On page 17 they are egging the Spartan Destroid... nice.

Return To Macross #23 (Academy 1995)

Charles Wilbur is back on Macross Island. You will remember that he was the once leader of the faithful but left after seeing that Robotechnology wasn't all that bad. He returns to the island to denounce the new violence that the 'Faithful' has started up.

Wilbur is shot and POOF! Roy just happens to have a brand spanking new plot device motorcycle to give chase to the killers.

On page 25 there is a short article about the upcoming Robocon 10 convention! I'm sure you all know about me and Robocon 10... check the last paragraph.

Return To Macross #24 (Academy 1995)

The 'Faithful' faction that is all for causing real turbulence is planning something big and Nina (who is on the less-extreme side of the argument) is getting caught in the middle.

I can't be sure but it looks like he drew the Gladiator backwards on page 15. It could be going the other direction but the hands look like they are facing the wrong way for it to be walking away from the viewer.

On page 16 we are watching the MBS news but there is a shot of a person being interviewed and an MBS TV camera guy is in the shot... filming the guy. I guess MBS (Macross Broadcasting System) wants multiple angles for some really high quality news reporting.

On page 24 there is a Playstation on the floor.

After the comic there is an interview with Carl Macek. He comments that he wishes everyone would just forget about Robotech: The Movie... lol. He also talks about his total plan for Robotech (one he would never get) as well as a tidbit about the Soundtrack Perfect Collection set that came out around that time.

Return To Macross #25 (Academy 1995)

This issue concludes the 'War of the Belivers' storyline from the last few issues. Nina was kidnapped in the last issue and it's up to Roy to save her.

So while they (Roy and Lang) are trying to find Nina, Roy just blasts a major piece of communications equipment to play a hunch... really Roy?

Everything is wrapped up neatly and Lang introduces Nina to Brian Bernard... yes, that Bernard. I don't think it was ever mentioned later but I am guessing this is supposed to wind up being Scott's future mother and father.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Macross Isand Junkie

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

As you all know I am fan of Robotech. I have enjoyed it for many a year and it has (for me) become far beyond a cartoon with dubious animation at times. I remember it around the first time back in the 80's but I wasn't that into it at the time. I am guessing I was more into G.I. Joe and He-Man than Robotech. It really wasn't until I was a freshman in High school that I got into Robotech. I think what initially happened was that my best friend in High school (Eric) got ahold of the RPG book and I think we launched from there.

Over the next several years it was a search for anything I could lay my hands on. Robotech's hey-day had passed and there was little new product coming out. I scoped out my local comic book shops (Heroes Workshop off West Berry and Lone Star Comics near Hulen) but didn't find too much in thoes early days. I remember that Heroes Workshop had a big cardboard SDF-1 and I was always amazed by it. I did find some issues of the Canadian Robotech Fanzine Protoculture Addicts and ate them up.

I got all the RPG books I could afford and the novelizations as well. When money permitted I would go wild at one of Lone Star's sales and stock up on back issues of the comics. Most were good but there were some strange ones too. Me and Eric and some of his friends would play the RPG. This was great fun but for some reason I was almost always the GM. Once I found 2 Peter Pan - Robotech Cassette with book sets at Pic-N-Save (which is now Big Lots). I loved those pieces of shit! They were so patched together and the narrator would constantly get the names wrong and when he read it was like he was reading the story for the first time (he would get inflections all wrong). None of it matter because it was Robotech and I enjoyed them thoroughly.

Through those first few years I got ahold of the F.H.E. version of Robotech. It had six VHS tapes with six episodes mercilessly editing together. They would only show one opening and closing credits and slap six episodes all together (cutting out quite a bit as I later found out). F.H.E. also released a couple of other versions of the series (with fewer episodes on each tape) but it appears my set was the last VHS set they produced. I would take a tape deck and record audio snippets off the show and make a 'mix tape' of audio sound bites. Years later I got the F.H.E. laser disc versions of the series and it was a totally different experience. The episodes were complete and there were scenes that I had never seen before. I gripe about those crappy VHS versions but they did offer some fun years later with the missing scenes I got to see off the laser discs.

Let's take a break with this cute chick giving us one of Minmei's songs...

Through all this I got on this kick to get Robotech Perfect Collection CD (or record it didn't matter to me). I contacted the company only to find out that it was out of print. These were the days before eBay so I was SOL. One day I was browsing something (online or in a magazine, I can't remember) and I ran across something that showed that a new soundtrack called Robotech: Perfect Soundtrack was about to be released... in less and a week! I was so excited. I got my order in ASAP but the production was delayed until early 97 and once I did get it I see why it was delayed. It had 2 discs and they were marked wrong. Disc 1 was Disc 2, etc... It still didn't detract from my utter delight. I got to enjoy songs I had never heard before including the ones I simply didn't remember from the Robotech The Movie soundtrack. As it turns out it wasn't 'perfect' there was another set that came less than 10 years later with even more.

In 1999 I built a website called Robocon.org. I already had a page about Robotech on my webpage so I moved it to the new Robocon.org and added more stuff to it. Robocon was the 10th anniversary of Robotech convention that took place in 1995. It focused on my take on Robotech as well as the voice actors that had attended the convention and so on. I had a couple of phone conversations with Tom Bateman (the organizer and protoge' of Carl Macek. He got me some info and gave me blessings to use it all on the site. He had been planning a Robocon 15 in 2000 but it fell through. In 200? He contacted me again (along with Tommy Yune I believe) about giving Robocon.org to Robotech.com (the official portal for Robotech). So they could use it for the upcoming Robocon 20. I agreed and they suped up my site and integrated it into their own. I still have my site archived here. You can compare the changes they made to it here (their official version). I found it funny that they kept the front page (the one with animation that says: 'Welcome to the Future of the Human Race' from my old site. I basically took that from my existing Front Mission fan site cause it sounded cool (I just changed 'Future of Warfare' to Future of the Human Race'). I also find it cool that the site is still up and intact after all these years.

Robotech has been good to me over the years and I feel I have been good to it. It's a nice relationship, eh?