STAR WORDS: Aftermath Revitalizes Star Wars Novels

Aftermath Cover

Spoiler Warning: there are spoilers for the events, characters, and implications in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath in this article.

Chuck Wendig is the first author to pen a trilogy of canon novels – the five previous canon novels all stand alone. The first of Wendig’s books, Aftermath, serves as the flagship novel of the Journey to the Force Awakens – a collection of novels, comics, young adult fiction, and other stories that fill in the time period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Aftermath was released on Force Friday and has given readers the first glimpse into the state of the galaxy after the Battle of Endor. Aftermath sets the status quo for fans as we approach the seventh film in the Star Wars saga. [Read more…]

Thoughts from the Dugout: The Legend of Big Papi

Image of David Ortiz

Here at the Addison Recorder, I make no bones about it – I’m a huge fan of David Ortiz. The heart and soul of the Red Sox, he is the only man alive to have played on three World Series winning teams from Boston. And on Saturday night, he further cemented his legacy as one of the all-time great power hitters by slugging his 499th and 500th home runs.

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J&STAC: Labor Day-bor Quick Hits

-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the Addison Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels. Combine all that into a biweekly feature and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics.”

We’ve had limited free time the last couple weeks, but we still wanted to highlight some of the new series that caught our eye while we were traveling to one state or another. To that end, we’ve each picked a pair of new titles to check out — starting with a warrior and his traveling companion (a severed head).

Head Lopper #1 (of 4)

Lopper01words, art, colors by Andrew Maclean, colors by Mike Spicer, published by Image

Synopsis: A mighty warrior known as the Head Lopper is hired to slay a giant seamonster. Unbeknownst to him, plots are being hatched against him. 

Steph: I surprisingly enjoyed this. The story is full of action, and even though the titular character doesn’t say much and is a hardened warrior, I found him likable and endearing. The relationship he has with the severed head of Agatha the Blue Witch (whom he carries around in a sack) is what will keep me reading. [Read more…]

The Body Beautiful: Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas was the odd man out of the Impressionists. He exhibited with them as a reaction to the Salon and the French art establishment and shared many of their qualities, but he detested their experimentalism, plein air, and preference to create in the moment; his carefully composed and structured, mostly interior canvases were to the other Impressionists like a Damien Hirst in a field of Rembrandts.

He was also a priggish, reactionary, anti-Dreyfus man who didn't date because he thought an artist should have no personal life. Fun times with Edgar!

He was also a priggish, reactionary, anti-Dreyfus man who didn’t date because he thought an artist should have no personal life. Fun times with Edgar!

But he was no less a genius, and the current miniature exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, Degas: At the Track, On the Stage is an ideal reflection of his prowess.

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STAR WORDS: Rebels Launch a New Canon

Star Wars Logo

It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan. Never before have we had such a torrent of great Star Wars content streaming to us. This column will serve as your guide to the Star Wars galaxy, covering the new movies, comics, novels, games, and more.

While The Force Awakens was the first project announced by Disney, Star Wars Rebels was the first Star Wars project created entirely under the Disney banner and it gives us a good idea of the quality of storytelling we can expect from Lucasfilm properties going forward. [Read more…]

Our Summer Vacation in Pop Culture

We here at The Addison Recorder read stuff. We also watch stuff. And play stuff, even. Sometimes, that stuff is interesting. Sometimes we just need to talk about whatever pop culture ephemera occupies our time. Other times, we take a whole damn summer off. This is one of those times.



I pretty much didn’t go outside this summer. I ventured out a few times with friends, went to a wedding, and saw a few movies. But mostly, I stayed in. I’m not building up to some sad sack story of something awful that happened which turned me into an invalid. It was the opposite, rather. Something wonderful happened that turned me into an invalid. This summer I quit smoking. Like for real quit. Not the only-on-the-weekend-only-when-I-drink-vaping quit. But by sheer willpower alone. This exultation usually gets a smile and a pat on the back by non-smokers but the reality is it’s one of the hardest addictions to kick.

It may not fit into the theme of a random pop culture indulgence this time around, but the reason I thought it made sense to write about was that it gave me a lot of time inside to think. Going out became largely a stressful endeavor as I wanted a cigarette every five minutes so I just stayed in. So, what did I do? I took advantage of all the normal things I wasn’t able to do before as a smoker. I am able to write in longer stretches, I sleep a lot better (being able to breathe is nuts!), I no longer have to ask friends to pause movies three times so we can take breaks, and I feel more motivated overall. This time inside also helped me formulate outlines for a few short stories, decide to do NaNoWriMo, and also cut the cable cord. I surprisingly watch more movies and TV shows now but it’s only dedicated viewing, not just whatever bullshit is on right now. I guess what I’m trying to say is that staying inside all summer can sometimes do a body good. Even if you’re just watching Netflix.


Story of Civilization

When not working on my own stories and seeing the Dead and Taylor Swift in concert, I’ve devoted myself to reading, especially The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant. Comprising eleven volumes written over four decades (with a Pulitzer Prize going to volume ten), Civilization covered the history of humanity from the earliest people in Africa and India up to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, and it is still today a model for any historian or storyteller. The Durants reject “great man” history—many of their books provide distinct arguments against the patriarchy—and a focus on war and politics to try to summarize the eternal rising and falling of private and public cultures. The style is clear and lucid, and they have a gift for magnificent sentences that summarize and cap off entire sections of text. Also, when I needed a break from surveying human existence, I found great enjoyment in Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches. Harkness’s style is poor, with the dialogue ranging from superb to terrible and the plotting frequently godawful, as she pulls information out of nowhere to advance the story along. But the story, about two brilliant scholars who fall in love and discover they may hold the secret to human and inhuman existence, kept me turning 550 pages. (The scholars, by the way, are a witch and a vampire. Yes, I’ve entered that territory.)


Three months is a lot of time to consume pop culture and I’ve had more than most since getting laid off about a month ago. Since I have to narrow it down, though, I’ll go with the video game Journey. Originally released in 2012, it was remastered and re-released for the PlayStation 4 in July and I snapped it up immediately. Either playing alone or with an unidentified and randomly connected online companion, you play as an anonymous pilgrim trying to reach the summit of a brilliant mountain in the distance. The game only lasts two or three hours and is comprised of a mere 8 “levels” that can be moved through in as little as a few moments. What makes it special, though, is the feelings of sanctity, discovery and camaraderie that developers That Game Company weave in. Your journeyer walks, climbs, chirps, and soars in an mythical movement towards something like nirvana. It’s hard to describe aptly, but Journey is an aesthetic and emotional achievement like few others and a vibrant refutation of the argument that games cannot be art.


I echo Alex’s sentiment, both in sentiment (three months is a lot of ground to cover) and medium (games!). But I’ll use the tabletop variety to describe my summer, as the season is loaded with the biggest conventions on the continent. (I could go the video game route — the Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC kept me enthralled when Arkham Knight so deeply disappointed me — but where’s the fun in repetition?)

CLR1pMrWwAAN7jmSummer is the season of Gen Con, where I split my time running role-playing games and teaching the beautiful and enjoyable games from Asmadi. The more I taught Mottainai, for example, the more fascinating strategies I saw unfold. Gen Con is also where I got to inflict the Stone Thief upon a bevy of awesome 13th Age players, playtest a new Trickster deck from Daniel Solis, demo Spyfall with PK Sullivan at a bar while Spaceballs played in the background, and co-GM a session of the Firefly RPG with the amazingly talented James D’Amato of the One Shot podcast. At the same time, I got hooked on the Midgard campaign setting and got all fanboy at the new offerings teased by Pelgrane (The Fall of Delta Green) and Evil Hat (Fate of Cthulhu). It was a helluva summer, and I still haven’t caught up on sleep.


I moved and lost my Internet connection because I felt it was more important to pay off my credit card debt. Which I’m doing, so yay me.

One day, I borrowed a book from my boss at work – The Martian by Andy Weir. He recommended it, and said I would complete it in short fashion. I held onto it for a few days, mostly because I was reading other things. One night, I picked it up around 9:30, thinking I would read a few chapters before bedtime and that would be that.

At 4:00 am, I finished the book. So, yeah, it’s pretty good.

There’s a movie version coming out this fall starring Matt Damon, directed by Ridley Scott. I’m sure that will be awesome too. However, if you haven’t already read the book (it’s been out for a while), go read this book. Just be careful about when you start reading it.

Image of The Martian poster

Mr. Rostan at the Movies: The Power to Believe

Andrew Rostan was a film student before he realized that making comics was his horrible destiny, and he’s never shaken his love of cinema. Every two weeks, he’ll opine on current pictures or important movies from the past.

Buckley and Vidal

Two of the finest documentaries released this year concern themselves with the power to believe, which is crucial to human existence. We believe in things instilled in us after being passed down through generations, and these things, be they faiths or ideologies, help us integrate into society. We also believe in ourselves, which on the one hand is vital to our well-being; self-confidence and finding a worldview that help us deal with existence are important. But it also can be dangerous to if we elevate our ideas too highly, for sometimes they have the power to infect society.

[Read more…]