Recent Post

Comic Book Publishing Alive And Well In Philadelphia

It's a rare thing to here in the last couple of decades… someone opening a new comic book store.

In Auckland, before the twentieth century rolled over, we used to have at least one store per point on the compass and several in the CBD… and the greater city population was less than 1.2 million. Now as we slide toward the end of the second decade in the twenty first century, the city is now pushed past 1.4 million citizens and we have two dedicated comic book stores across the greater city… and that's just fuckin' sad.

It's a sign that comic books, as we have known them have declined, that 30 to 40 odd page comic is just not popular to purchase anymore.

But it's not all doom and gloom, the number of people interested in graphic art has increased. The big changes have been in channels or purchase, product type and a growth in libraries stocking more graphic novels, collected editions and of course, self-publishing in digital forms.

Which brings us to celebrating and acknowledging the efforts of Ariell Johnson, the owner and operator of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Kensington, Philadelphia, USA, who made history when she opened her store. She was the first black women to open a comic book store on the East Coast in 2015.

Ariell is now taking another big step, having secured a $50,000 (USD) grant from the Knight Foundation, with her winning proposal  - "Up, Up and Away: Building a Programming Space at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse,” she  laid out her vision for Amalgam’s future as a place where creators interested in breaking into the comics industry could hone their craft.

Amalgam is already stocking self-published comics and Ariell explains that she sees lots of owner-creator titles that are not quite ready to be sold commercially, and the funding will enable her to create and run, Amalgam University, a program that  will focus on helping new creators take their work to the next level.

"Often, the ideas are there, but they haven’t studied the craft,” Johnson explained. “It’s a comic book, but it’s also literature. Just like there are good writers of literature, there are good writers and illustrators of comic books.” As part of her new initiative, Johnson also plans to expand Amalgam’s physical space to better accommodate events and workshops within the store.

So despite the decline in comic book retail spaces in my city, it's heartening to see new things happening in other parts of the world.

Text: Blurred and source from io9.com and Philly.com
Image: Philly.com

#givenothingtoracism with Taika Waititi

"Racial intolerance is getting worse in New Zealand but most of those targeted suffer in silence", Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy says.

In response, the Human Rights Commission today launched a new campaign, fronted by actor and director Taika Waititi... so watch, enjoy and give nothing to racism... go on, we dare ya'


Video: NZ Human Rights
Image: NZ Human Rights
Text: Blurred

Re-mix: (It’s Great To) Suck At Something

Re-mix: (It's Great To) Suck At Something

My inspiration for this come s directly from an article published on The New York Times by Karen Rinaldi, and it’s a reflection on her 15 years of surfing and sucking at it (you can and should read it here https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/opinion/its-great-to-suck-at-surfing.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=1)

For me, I have been riding mountain bikes for well over two decades  now (and by my rough calculation this morning, I realise that I’m chasing down my third decade very fucking quickly), and have been battling a shared theme with Karen, of my love of something that I’m not very good at.

Whilst Karen takes the view that what we experience in failing, can build our patience and empathy, which is almost a Buddhist koan in itself and something I do relate to, however I’d like to re-mix the suck and add to why I do suck and continue and you should consider it.

So, last night when I went riding at an Auckland mountain bike park, I was off by myself, as my oldest boy Olle was riding with his Waitakere Mountain Bike Club mates, enjoying their weekly coaching and social riding session. It was dark, it was quiet, I was riding my own pace and I as always when I ride, I experienced moments of enjoyment, frustration, anxiety and finally a realisation, as I was passed by so many riders, I suck at this! Why the fuck am I here, in the middle of a deeply dark forest, by myself, sweaty, hot, almost out of breathe and just about to go flying over the handle bar and into a tree!! I know I swore out loud as I lost traction and balance… I’m not going to share the words (as I typed them in I was embarrassed and since this is digital… delete, delete, delete).

So there I am, watching the lights of the riders who had passed me fade into the dark, feeling quite pointless and mentally masticating why I was continuing to do something I suck at.

As I looked about, I realised that here I was at  a point further up this technical climbing track than I’d ever ridden it before… okay, that’s a cause for a pause.

I’d climbed higher and longer than I’d ever done on this trail… does that mean I don’t suck… oh dear reader, fuck no! I’m still awful, hideously awful at mountain biking.

However for me, it was triumph over a particular trail, which has almost  reduced me to tears (and before you think; well just don’t ride the thing… I’ll let you know, that you have to ride it to get out of that damn place… so there ya’ go), and you know, I’ll keep tackling it until I can ride it without stopping/crashing/stumbling etc. from start to finish, but will it make me suck less… maybe…

The key for me though, is I really do love my mountain biking, I love riding, I love my bike, I love the struggle, the post ride feeling of being drained, the stiffness the next day, the tinkering and fettling of my bike and gear and I embrace that I suck, because what it all means to me is that I’m alive.

Yes, here’s my advice, go do something you suck at and feel alive, because we all need to feel alive.

Image: Blurred
Text: Blurred

Upcoming Changes For Blurred

After a period of benign neglect Blurred is about to go through a big-chunk-o-change over the wee while.

The site is going for a new look, new content and a new direction... well more a change in direction. The focus on being so dedicated to mountain biking is going to be peeled away and you'll see pretty quickly where it's heading... but don't fret, there will still be some mountain biking and riding features.

2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill: Results and Highlights

2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill: Results and Highlights

Wow... so damn fuckin' close... Danny Hart snatched the 2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill victory from Aaron Gwin by 0.669 seconds (which by the way is essentially the average persons reaction time it they see something and need to react - thanks Mr Google - so you could say that Danny won by the speed of a thought!!) and Rachel Atherton secured her 2016 UCI World Cup Downhill title... lots to talk about from Canada.

2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill: Results and Highlights - Rachel Atherton

Almost in contrast to how close Gwin and Hart would push each other, the 11 second margin Rachel Atherton would win over Tracy Hannah speaks volumes about how the Rachel and the Trek Racing team have dominated this year.

2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill: Womens Results

1. Rachel Atherton - GBR
2. Tracy Hannah - AUS
3. Tahnee Seagrave - GBR
4. Manon Carpenter - GBR
5. Miranda Miller - CAN

2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill: Results and Highlights Aaron Gwin

If Aaron Gwin had won the Mont Sainte Anne event, then like Rachel, he would have secured a 2016 UCI World Cup Downhill title... now though Danny is still in with a chance... so how much pressure will be in place for the next round of racing at Vallnord, Andorra?

2016 Mont Sainte Anne UCI World Cup Downhill: Mens Results

1. Danny Hart  - GBR
2. Aaron Gwin - USA
3. Loic Bruni - FRA
4. Troy Brosnan - AUS
5. Luca Shaw - USA

Image: Bartek Woliński for Red Bull
Text: Blurred
Video: Red Bull