Visits From A Man Named Nobody 58

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 58

PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 // PT 53 // PT 54 // PT 55 // PT 56 // PT 57 //

“So what do we do?” Lidia asked. Leave it to her to want to break this down in to a simple process. 

Paul shrugged. “The truth is, the thing to do is spend less time with me.”

They both looked at him like one of those puppies in the window after they realized they weren’t getting bought. 

“I’m not saying we never hang out,” Paul said, a piece of the resentment coming back. Thankfully, his PID activated, telling him his food was ready. That let him take a breath and walk over to collect his sandwich. 

They followed him. Paul tried to tamp down the petty bit of joy it gave him. It was like it was suddenly their turn to follow him around hope he notices them. He didn’t want that. What he wanted was for it to go back to the way it was.

He glanced at Lidia, and she gave one of those wonderful smiles. Well, what he really wanted to do was go back and take her to a movie and leave Jordan at the cafeteria. At least a part of him wanted that. He wanted to be the one she scurried toward to hold and kiss. He wanted to be the one at the center of her world. 

That truth only emphasized what Paul had already said was needed. He collected his thoughts and found a place to sit. Jordan and Lidia sat across from him, staring at him silently. Paul smirked at Jordan. That would have been his suggestion. He knew Paul would want them to wait for him to think. Maybe what Paul wanted was to go back to that cafeteria and just help Lidia study. Then neither of them would have her, but she wouldn’t be there to complicate their friendship.  

That thought cost him his appetite. She was a member of the team now. Jordan and Paul had argued about telling her the real inspiration behind their experiment, but that was the only secret he kept from her. Neither of them could bear to lose her, but Paul couldn’t shake the feeling that they couldn’t both have her. Not in some sick, perverted way. She could be with one of them, but that meant she couldn’t be both of their friends. 

“You guys are dating, and I guess at least talking about marriage,” Paul muttered. He couldn’t bring his eyes to them. His own thoughts alone were enough to fill his heart with shame. “So you need to date. You can’t do that with me.”

“So we just stop being friends?!” 

Paul cocked an eyebrow at Jordan and his shout. “That’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m saying you two need to date and cuddle and all that crap.” Paul certainly didn’t want to get into the specifics of what “all that crap” meant. “That way, when the three of us hang out, it can actually be about the three of us. So far, you two seem to be able to set aside your annoyingly adorable romance when we’re in the lab, and I think we all know how important that work is. So when the three of us hang out, it’s not you two trying to force me into your life. It’s just the three of us spending a bit of time together.”

“But you get left out,” Jordan said.

“I am left out!” It was less of a shout than it was a bitter comment, but it was true.

Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot

Hand and Foot is a beautiful game.

It’s beautifully convoluted.

Even to understand the rules, people have to sit together for hours. Then it takes hours to play the game.

We played more than 100 games, more than 400 hours.

I cherish every one.

During those hours, we listened to Patty Page sing about the Doggie in the Window and the Tennessee Waltz, a song about a girl who’s friend stole her loved one. You would always offer the same joke: “I sure am gonna miss my friend.”

During those hours, you’d tell little dirty jokes, just happy to have a new joke to tell, even if it was only new in your memory.

Even the last game we played together, you had a joke.

Even the last time I sat with you on your bed as you waited for help to use the restroom.

Those times were sad, but I have those other times, those 400 hours.

During those hours, you’d tell stories about your time in the Navy, your time serving the president, and your time in the U.S. Marshal service.

Each story was told with a wry smile and a in a matter of fact tone.

Each game was adorable. Your wife would talk, but you couldn’t hear her, so you’d ask her what she said, but she couldn’t hear you. Even though there were plenty of times you couldn’t hear each other, you always understood each other. You’d share knowing looks with each other. You’d offer each other sly, witty comments that were somehow endearing.

We played our last game together last week.

You needed help getting up and down. You were in obvious pain, but you wanted to play just one more time, and I love you for that just as I love you for the others before.

You played this beautiful game the same way you lived, with wit and determination.

However, the object of the game is to run out of cards, and days ago, you ran out of time with us.

I love that game.

I played it with my grandmother until the day she died.

I played it with my mother until the day she died.

Now I’ve played it with you until the day you died.

If I’m lucky, my wife and sons will play with me until the day I die.

There’s sadness. I’ll never hear you curse as you draw a completely useless card. I’ll never again hear another joke of any kind. I’ll never get to watch you and Granny playfully banter back and forth. I’ll never hear you answer the phone with a dry remark.

I’ll miss those things, but I’ll cherish them just the same as I cherished knowing you.

I only knew you for a short time compared to my wife, who you cared for so very much. That short time doesn’t diminish the fierceness with which our bond formed.

We watched football and talked about the games. We talked about the Navy. And we played a lot of cards.

I’ll miss you Pop Pop. We all will.

Book Review: Bleach Volume 55 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 55 by Tite Kubo

PERSONAL NOTE: My new graphic novel Hazel is out right now, and I’d be honored if you considered picking up a copy!

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 55 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, things seem pretty peaceful until the Soul Society personnel start going missing. Whatever is going on, it’s starting to affect Ichigo and his friends.

Character: Already we see these characters starting to flesh out much more than in the last arc. There’s more compelling mystery and more emotional context that while equally sudden from the last arc, is still somehow more powerful because we have a deeper connection to the history of the arc.

Exposition: This is hard to gauge for me because this whole arc bleeds together. There are some blocks here that explain the previously mentioned context, but I don’t honestly know which volume had those blocks. While noticeable, the exposition wasn’t exactly offensive.

Worldbuilding: This volume sets up a deeper history of Soul Society and finally connects to information teased in the much more popular Aizen arc. At this point, we’re only getting set up data, but it promises rewards that are far more satisfying than the previous arc.

Dialogue: I think most of the dialogue in Bleach is more about “Behold my super ability!” than anything that develops character. At its best, Bleach has truly touching lines that make it easy to bond with the characters. At its worst, the series (and this volume) is full of data dumping that at least sets up the threat of the upcoming arc.

Description: As far as set-up volumes go, the art in this volume is better than some. The settings really give the Soul Society a sense of depth that activates the imagination. No, there aren’t a lot of cool fight scenes, but there are several great spreads of art that reveal the technology and culture of that world.

Overall: I honestly felt like I earned the right to read this arc because I soldiered through the previous one. This means I was so excited to start this arc that my self-hype could possibly elevate my opinion. However, I was far more invested in the history and lore of Soul Society than that of Fullbringers. It may have been clunky, but this volume sets up a wonderfully action-packed saga (even if it’s undercut a bit by some of the things that happen).

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the 2021 M.L.S. Weech November Book Cover of the Month! December’s Contest Continues!

Greetings all,

I wanted to keep this particular post going as the Book Cover of the Month contests are frankly less successful than I had hoped. I’m too afraid to take a break with this at the expense of failing to give it my all.

With that said, we do indeed have a winner for November. We also have a winner for Week 2 of December. So let’s announce the winners.

The 2021 M.L.S. Weech November Book Cover of the Month is …

Genesis Draconis by Kevin McLaughlin and Michael Anderle is such a dynamic cover with so much energy and great color and texture. It’s a worthy entry into the November contest. ! This really was a dynamic image with great texture. Congratulations to the artist and the authors. Good luck in the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year poll.

This means we only need four more covers to get the Book Cover of the Year poll going, and we’re already halfway through December.

The Week 2 winner of the 2021 M.L.S. Weech December Book Cover of the Month is …

Infinite by Duncan Ralston was a great example of balance and reflection (if with a twist). It’s a beautiful cover and a fitting entrant into December’s contest. It joins School for Spirits in the poll, and you can vote for your favorite cover in Week 3’s poll right here.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 57

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 57

PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 // PT 53 // PT 54 // PT 55 // PT 56 //

Paul struggled through the rest of the conversation, attempting to politely contribute if he was asked, and they happened to actually give him enough time to speak. Despite displeasing Lidia tremendously, they left the shop without a puppy.

A part of Paul felt a strange impulse to buy a dog for her. He tried to dismiss the idea, understanding that he really just wanted to do something for her that Jordan wouldn’t, but his principles wouldn’t allow it. More importantly, his friendship with Jordan wouldn’t. 

The conversation wouldn’t really drop though. Each time one of them mentioned anything, the other would bring up the whole dog issue as if it were somehow related to the whatever they were talking about in that moment. 

“You guys want to eat?” Paul asked.

“I don’t know,” Lidia said, a strange snippiness to her tone. “I’m not sure it’s in the budget, and captain, commander of the dollar says we should think about things before we make decisions.”

“Well we could always just do whatever we want, and then when we can’t afford the things we really care about, like weddings, we won’t be able to because we spent money on things we want on an impulse rather than things we truly want,” Jordan said.

“Or we could eat because we’re hungry!” 

They both stopped at Paul’s outburst. “We could actually spend time and have fun together instead of either making doe-eyes at each other and forgetting I exist or arguing with each other and still forgetting I exist! I’ll pay for your food if you just promise to stop using me only to validate whatever idiotic passive aggressive argument you’re trying to win.”

“We’re not ignoring you!” Lidia said. 

“Dude, we’ve spoken to you this whole time,” Jordan said.

“And I am not passive aggressive!” Lidia said.

“You’ve spoken to me?” Paul asked.  “Other than asking if you’re hungry, what’s the last thing I said?”

Jordan opened his mouth to answer and then stopped. 

“And you!” Paul pointed a finger.” You literally just told me to ask captain commander if it’s in the budget. Was that a direct argument or statement?”

Lidia at least had the dignity to drop her head. 

“Have either of you asked me a question that didn’t in some way involve me backing you up in some sort of point you were making?” Paul asked again.

Neither of them said anything. 

“You two wanna make out? Fine, just don’t ask me to watch. You wanna argue? I guess you can if that’s what you want, but don’t ask me to watch or take sides. Me, I actually want to eat, so I’m going to.” Paul stormed away, for once not really caring if the couple followed him or not. 

Had it really come this far? Did he really prefer not being around them? If it meant not having to watch them either fawn over each other or fight each other, yes. 

Paul picked a restaurant to eat at and got in line. He managed to get up to the counter and order before his friends found him.

“We’re sorry,” Jordan said. 

Lidia flung her arms around him, and it was all Paul could do to keep from screaming. He wanted to be angry. No matter how much he hated resenting his friends and being angry, he wanted it. It didn’t even make any sense, but it was true. But Jordan saying sorry? And Lidia, holding herself against him.

He shrugged her off. She looked taken aback. He wasn’t sure she’d make that face if he’d hit her. 

“It’s OK,” Paul said. “I’m just frustrated, and I don’t want you getting out of it with a nice hug and a few words.”

She looked at Jordan for some reason. “I’m sorry. I just … it’s how I apologize.” 

“You didn’t really do anything to me,” Paul said. 

“How long have we basically ignored you?” Jordan asked. 

Lidia glanced from Jordan to Paul and back to Jordan again. 

“What is going on?” Paul asked.

“I don’t understand you,” Lidia said. 

The words strangely felt like a knife. A part of him, a part he tried very hard to bury, wanted nothing more than for her to understand him.

“You just don’t know him well enough yet,” Jordan said before turning his attention to Paul. “We didn’t do it on purpose, but somewhere in the last few months, we just sort of focused on each other.”

“We don’t want to forget you!” Lidia said. 

Paul shook his head. “I get it. I didn’t exactly hang out with Jordan a lot when I had a girlfriend.” 

Admitting as much gave him a dose of humility. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Greetings all,

Without getting into too much detail, we’re just trying to enjoy this Thanksgiving. I didn’t post on Wednesday (sorry for not announcing that), and I don’t expect you’ll see anything from me until Dec. 1. I might post a new entry to Visits, and I’ll post the video for the Week 3 of December on YouTube at the very least, but I’m taking it easy this holiday weekend. There is news and notes, and I’m excited to share it.

Have a bit of patience with me as we get a few things under control or managed. I’m not sure when I’ll offer more explanation or how much explanation I’ll offer. But I imagine I’ll be back on track next week. If not, I’ll at least update you.

For now, I urge you all to be with those you love. Surround yourself in love. Share it with everyone you can. Never miss a second. I am thankful for all of you. Your support has been priceless to me. I’m thankful for this chance to share my art and my dreams. I’m thankful for the chance to chase this dream.

I’m thankful for my wife and family, and the family they added to my life. No words can express that joy.

I’m most thankful for God, who created us all. He created my family. He measured my steps. He took a horrid, wicked man and by his grace, saved me through his Son Jesus Christ.

I am truly a blessed man, and I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Announcing the Week 1 December 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 2!

Announcing the Week 1 December 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month! Vote for Week 2!

Greetings all,

We’re moving along in the search for the 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Year competition. That means we get to announce the winner of the first week of December.

The Week 1 December 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month winner is …

School for Spirits by Aron Lewes had beautiful color and fantastic detail. It’s a wonderful first entry into the December 2021 M.L.S. Weech Book Cover of the Month competition.

You can vote for Week 2’s cover right here.

I’d be grateful if you stopped by my YouTube channel and gave it a like and a subscribe. It helps to support not just me, but these authors and designers.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 56

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 56

PT1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 // PT 30 // PT 31 // PT 32 // PT 33 // PT 34 // PT 35 // PT 36 // PT 37 // PT 38 // PT 39 // PT 40 // PT 41 // PT 42 // PT 43 // PT 44 // PT 45 // PT 46 // PT 47 // PT 48 // PT 49 // PT 50 // PT 51 // PT 52 // PT 53 // PT 54 // PT 55 //

Seventeen

August 1, 2036, 9:25 p.m. 

14 Years, 124 Days Ago

Lidia sat next to Paul with her head on his shoulder. From her point of view, she was reading a book while they waited for Jordan to get out of the bathroom. She had no idea how much it tortured Paul to feel her on him. The first reason he didn’t say anything was because it made her happy and comfortable. The other reason was that he couldn’t understand how he’d end up in this situation. 

He worked so hard to help Lidia and Jordan see that they were the ones who liked each other, and somewhere along the way he came to realize how wonderful Lidia was. The one of the only things more powerful than his jealousy over their relationship was how stupid he felt for being jealous in the first place.

But neither of those were the worst of it. Jordan came out of the bathroom, and Lidia basically teleported to him. She flung her arms around him, and they kissed each other. They they started walking along the mall. It was like every time one saw the other, Paul vanished. The world fell away when they were together, which meant Paul ceased to exist. 

And they had no idea how lonely that made him feel. He didn’t just miss out on any hope or chance at a relationship with a wonderful woman, he felt like he somehow lost his best friend. They found happiness and love, and he was just more alone than he’d been in his entire life.

They actually made it to the end of the long segment of stores as Paul watched them walk. They turned the corner, completely unaware that they’d left him there. For a moment, he wondered if they’d notice if he went home. Maybe then they’d be ashamed. Maybe then they’d realize how insensitive they were being. But if he left, and they never even realized it, it would be the final proof. It would prove they didn’t care about him in the least. As long as they were together, nothing else mattered, especially not Paul.

He couldn’t bear that thought. Better for them to occasionally offer him some sort of token comment or chance to contribute to life before they vanished into one another’s eyes. Better to be a footnote in their lives than a distant memory. They didn’t even thank him for setting them up together. 

So Paul headed after them in a sort of jog. He ignored the panic in his heart as he turned the corner and couldn’t see them right away. He caught sight of Lidia’s hair and followed it to a pet store.

They were peering in at a group of puppies. 

Lidia cooed at a small white dog that had a single black spot where its back met its tail. The dot looked a little like a bullseye that made Paul chuckle a bit. 

“Aren’t they adorable?” Lidia asked. “Paul you should get one.”

“Why?” Paul asked with a chuckle. 

“Because they’re adorable!” Lidia’s overuse of the word didn’t really justify the reason in Paul’s estimation.

“I wouldn’t even have the first clue how to care for a dog. Also, they’re—“ 

“Jordan, can we get a dog?” Lidia asked.

Paul smiled. “ I don’t know that Jorda—“

“I’ll tell you what,” Jordan said. “Let’s not buy a dog now. We’ll talk about it. And if we still want a dog when we’re not looking at one, we’ll see what we can afford.”

“We?” Paul asked. 

“I think it would be fun,” Lidia said.

“Dog’s are pretty hard to ta—“ Paul said 

“Maybe, but let’s not make a decision in the moment,” Jordan said.

Paul let out a sigh. A few deep breaths helped him calm himself.

“Paul,” Lidia said, “do you think that getting an animal is a good test run for having a family?” 

“There’s no way I’m going to get—“

“Maybe we should talk about marriage more before we talk about having kids,” Jordan said.

“Wait, you guys are talking about marr-“ Paul said.

“It’s just a dog,” Lida said. “And it might help us see how we think as adults and parents.”

Paul realized he really didn’t want to be involved in the conversation, but it seemed clear they were already thinking about marriage and family. He wanted to be happy for them. He wanted to be excited. But given how the current conversation was going, he couldn’t help but feel even more left out. 

A 5-Star Review for Hazel

A 5-Star Review for Hazel

Hey all,

I’m going to talk about last week’s comic convention in a few weeks. For now, I just wanted to quickly share with you this kind five-star review for Hazel.

Hazel is still doing wonderfully (by my standards), and I’m hopeful any of you who tried it will be kind enough to leave a review in Goodreads, Amazon or both.

I’m always thankful for you all. This post was quick and short, even for a review post, but we’ll be back on track after the holiday.

Thanks for reading,
Matt

Book Review: Bleach Volume 54 by Tite Kubo

Book Review: Bleach Volume 54 by Tite Kubo

PERSONAL NOTE: My new graphic novel Hazel is out right now, and I’d be honored if you considered picking up a copy!

Spoiler free summary: In Volume 54 of Bleach by Tite Kubo, Ichigo has his powers back, but the looming secret behind Kugo’s past and the role of a substitute soul reaper present a test that might lead him to doubt the soul society.

Character: I think the author was trying to establish Ichigo as one who stands by his convictions and beliefs. The problem is, we already knew that about him. So the story lost interest for me because there was this “shocking” plot reveal, and Ichigo kind of shrugged at it. Yeah, it’s cool seeing Ichigo say he’s all in no matter what, but given there was not even any sort of doubt or real apparent test of his philosophy, it fell short.

Exposition: I don’t really remember any exposition here. The dialogue covered most of the data (more on that below). Here, the dialogue and action carried this volume.

Worldbuilding: I mentioned this plot reveal last week. It closed a gap that we saw happen very early in the series, but it wasn’t the real question mark I was looking for. Sure, it expanded the world of the series, but it at least gave us something.

Dialogue: While it’s true that the dialogue was the plot device used to drive this story, it wasn’t unnatural even though it was unsatisfying. To me, this felt like, “I am your father.” Only this time, Luke shrugged and said, “Maybe, but I’m still fighting for the rebellion.” So I’m divided on my feelings in this matter. It wasn’t bad dialogue, but it was probably not great writing.

Description: This is the end of this arc. The fight scenes are good. The art is good. The visuals are satisfying. The cool fight scenes really drive an arc that was essentially thrown in to get Ichigo back in the fight.

Overall: I think I hit the nail on the head in the last section. This arc felt very forced to me. Everything was driven at getting Ichigo back at it, and every interesting plot element was literally slashed aside by Ichigo. It does the job in that it gets Ichigo in position, but that’s literally all it does.

Thanks for reading,

Matt