Originally had planned to write a recap of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena but that will have to be put on hold. Instead, I bring you something that immediately inspired me as soon as I saw it.The Nerd Bucket List.
It was actually brought to my attention by another female comic book enthusiast who goes by the name of Jill The Nerdy Bird and guest writes for Newsarama.com. She penned up an article there with her own very specialized Nerd Bucket List as opposed to one that must be adhered to by all nerds.
So, you probably guessed by now that the remainder of this entry is going to be about my own personal Nerd Bucket List. The very exciting thing is that I’ve managed to cross off quite a few things on the list already! These are in no particular order or sequence, as all things are equally important to a nerd like me. 😉
MINDY’S NERD BUCKET LIST
Meet Katee Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos. Obviously – she is my female heroine idol and it would be the shining moment of my days to shake her hand and tell her that she totally changed my perception of what a female heroine could be with her performance. I would also HAVE to ask her, “What do you hear Starbuck?” Because no one
has ever asked her that before. 😉 And Edward James Olmos is like the Grandpa I never had. His gravelly voice and reading glasses and general demeanor are as comforting as a glass of warm milk. I’m especially excited to learn that he might return to the BSG Exhibit in Seattle this year for another script reading. I’m so there.
Visit NYC and lurk outside the Marvel Office. They don’t do regular tours, but I can still be a creeper and maybe snap a few pictures with an editor or something out on the street. Or maybe contact them ahead of time and see if a tour is possible. Or rewind time back to 1998 and be this kid.
Cosplay as a sexy superhero. This is probably something that should be done before I turn 30 (so like, next year) because after 30 I’ve decided is the cut-off for any kind of sexy cosplay. Please time, do not make a liar of me. I don’t know though – Steampunk has made dressing up in costume at any age a work of art, so that might be the loophole in the future. Not sure what superheroine I would like to attempt. I’ve done Rogue before for a superhero party and all that hair dyeing was such a hassle. Any suggestions?
Participate in Thrill The World in full zombie regalia. At least once. Complete with zombie eye contacts and a clever costume.
Obtain a comic book artist portrait. That sounds so ridiculous, but I’ve always fantasized about becoming a comic book character. Not sure what the process would entail either – probably scouting out a decent picture and passing it off to the artist at a convention. Thinking Pablo Raimondi, Pia Guerra or Joelle Jones. Unless someone has an alternate suggestion?
Join or lead a geeky volunteer group. Like the PDX Browncoats. As mentioned before, this would unite my passion for contributing to the community AND displaying geekery in all it’s glory. Plus meeting and hanging out with a group of like-minded folks. Hopefully that can be checked off in the near future!
Sketch from Alex Maleev. Dude, he lives here in Portland but I haven’t seen him attending one convention in the last year. He was even noticeably absent at SDCC. What gives? He is elusive as fuck, which makes a sketch from him about as prized as a Unicorn horn.
Sit inside the cockpit of a Colonial Viper. It wasn’t just enough to SEE them. Seriously. It’s the equivalent to some fans of LOOKING at the Millenium Falcon. Want to touch! Want to see what it would look like if I was flying through space, blasting some frakin’ toasters. So say we all!
Create a comic book. I’m no artist, but I’ve dabbled in all forms of writing save one (or two) and it seems especially strange given my passion for comics. How hard would it be to work up a script? Probably not that difficult. The scary part would be in finding an artist who would be willing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to see those words brought to life.
Meet Joss Whedon AND Brian K. Vaughn. The last of the comic book scribes whose work has inspired and thrilled me over the years. They are both hugely talented and the opportunity to shake their hands or stare at them obsessively while my mind goes helplessly blank and my knees give way would be truly special.
Complete all Assassin’s Creed games with 100% achievements. Just cause.
Finish up the Phoenix Tattoo in the next two years. Provided both the DH and I can find stable employment situations. Have had to reschedule twice now, so London no doubt thinks I’m a flake. But I don’t intend to have a half-finished tattoo on my body forever.
BUCKET LIST ITEMS ALREADY COMPLETED
Attend San Diego Comic Con At Least Once. This was listed as one of the top items on the collaborative nerd bucket list, so I believe I can safely assume the mantle of nerd for the rest of my days – having traveled to the geek mecca and survived the eye-gouging dangers of Hall H and witnessed the glory that was the Avengers Panel (even if we were in the back row and it was on the jumbo-tron). Check out the recap of SDCC 2010 starting here.
There were only three main goals for the Con on Day 4 – the Women of Marvel Panel and to secure Robert Kirkman and Peter David’s signature (and nerdily gush to them about how much I love their work).
We arose at a reasonable Comic Con hour of 8am, stuffed our crap into bags, checked out and grabbed our last poorly organized shuttle to the Convention Center (screw you National City Holiday Inn, screw you!).
We lugged our bags immediately to Bag Check, marveling at the eerily empty Hall H line. Once checked, we scuttled over to a 2/3s empty room for the Women of Marvel panel. I wanted this to be one of the highlights of the convention.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t.
THE WOMEN OF MARVEL PANEL
It started out on a pretty good note, and the questions were mostly all supportive, engaging and informative. The featured guests (from left to right in the photo below) are Kathryn Immonen, Judy Stephens, Marjorie Liu, Laura Martin and Christina Strain.
However, it started to unravel towards the end when Strain (who up to that point had been my favorite panelist) uttered the fateful words “primarily men read superhero comics.” It was in the last five or so minutes of the panel, and I desperately wanted to know why the panelists (aka MARVEL) think that is the case. These are women in the superhero industry, working inside of the major publishing companies. They have an opportunity to explore that assumption, turn it on it’s head and invite more women back into the superhero world.
Yes, I say BACK. I think there was a time when superhero books were for women, but I think we’ve been shoved out in the last decade by publishing companies that fail (like so many other entertainment venues) to recognize the female audience as existing.
It’s fucking offensive to purchase a Comic Con ticket, spend four days walking around with an equal mix of male and female nerds and then be told by a woman who works for Marvel that as far as their concerned, I am not a relevant factor in their mainstream books. WTF!?!?
Perhaps it was my exhaustion, frustration with the Avengers movie cast and general disposition towards the unfair and untrue assumption that superhero books are for boys, but I found myself seething in anger by the end of the panel. Especially since the last two questions were essentially “why does there need to be a woman of marvel panel?”
It’s a totally valid question, which none of the women addressed. They were simply shilling how “good times” and “equal opportunity” the Marvel world is…when that’s absolutely not the perception by the fanbase. The studs that get trotted out of the stable and posted all over the Top 10 Famous Comic Book Creators are primarily men.
OK, so maybe they weren’t there to address the under-representation of female characters in comic books. I can understand that. I was completely fine with learning more about them as artists and perhaps finding myself compelled to pick up some of their work.
But the can of worms was opened (interestingly enough, by two male questioners) and it was not handled well or honestly.
The Women of Marvel panel exists because there are very few women artists in the spotlight in the comic book industry, and there are lots of women reading comic books who want to know more about women creating comic books.
It doesn’t matter at this point. I feel quite defeated. By the time I had worked up the nerve and frustration – I didn’t get to ask my question and the panel ended 10 minutes early and tons of families and children were entering for the Hot Wheels panel immediately following.
Basically, the last 10 minutes erased a lot of the progress and interesting points being raised by the women (especially about how creepy some comic book shops can be). There was even an awesome moment where a comic book shop proprietor asked how he could be more inclusive of women. I thought the panelists did a great job of answering that question.
But fuck. I mean…I spent a lot of money, time and energy to attend this event and make myself known as a fan (and a Marvel fan) to the industry, but it’s clear to me at this point that women (minorities as well) are still so back of the bus in mainstream comic books it’s enough to make me want to give up on mainstream books completely.
So yeah…that kinda put a damper on the next 20 minutes or so, but then things turned around when I spotted Jo Chen and Andy Owens signing at the Dark Horse booth. We got Andy Owens signature on our Buffy #1 (it’s my goal to get the signatures of everyone featured on that issue) and Jo Chen signed our Dark Horse autograph book. I wanted to chat with her a bit, but the line was long and we needed to rush over to Peter David.
My apologies for being absent here – I’ve had lots of employment things going on (interviews, job rejections, offers, etc), and then fell ill for a five day stint starting last Thursday.
I’ve emerged on the other end of all this craziness alive and well – but I want to catch you all up to speed on some things that have unfolded the last few days.
1. Comic Book Tattoos!
Yes, I still plan on snapping pics and amassing stories around this. It looks like this project could take a bit longer than I anticipated, and could be on the back-burner as my employment situation settles in the next month. The website itself might be a few months in the making, but it’s my goal. Two great tastes and all.
For the most part the signing schedules for the big events and peeps I want to see are up, and it’s definitely thrown a wrench into the plans. Boo to that. But the opportunity to have Robert Kirkman and Peter David sign some of my golden crap on Sunday is making me elated and forgetful that I will soon have to choose between panels and signings.
Specifically for True Blood and Captain America (I refuse to tack on “The First Avenger” because that title is both lame and lame), they are nearly conflicting with my ability to get a signature and also see the panel. WHY!?
3. Evening Plans!
Are still for the most part up in the air. I was distracted and did not book the Hammer Improv tickets, so I’ll have to converse with people about that. It’s also on Wednesday night, which might conflict with our Preview Night plans. For some reason I thought it was on Thursday.
Thursday there’s a wicked cool Free Taco Truck for Machete that is not on the Convention site. What else? Oh and a Serenity screening with “special guests” along with a showing of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long blog which could ALSO have special guests. Mysterious special guests, your mystery is giving me an ulcer over here. Thanks for that. 😉
Friday is the Tweethouse party (a big party on a boat with celebrities and regular folk), and Smalls told me recently that some True Blood folks will be lurking about. Yum.
Saturday is a Kevin Smith-a-thon, so I’m not EVEN worrying about the festivities for that evening.
And Sunday will be our day to roam the exhibit hall, purchase thangs and get scribbles on our funny books from famous dudes (squee!).
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU IN THE VIEWING AUDIENCE
-Expect daily recaps on the blog with pics and filmed footage Wed-Sunday.
-Expect tweets on TinyHeroes frequently, along with photos, quotes and breaking news as it filters into my ears or the ears of folks in our party.
-You can follow Smalls here (as erninlow) and Dan here as (DanielZRob). Smalls gained entry in an exclusive Entertainment Weekly party on Thursday night, so she’ll be especially interesting to follow!! 🙂
Tomorrow I’ll be updating from our hotel room in National City, CA after an exhausting but exhilarating Preview Night. *woot woot*
HIGH SCHOOL CHRONICLES OF ARIEL SCHRAG
Thanks to the lovely She Has No Head! column running an article on the Top 10 Webcomics, I was introduced to Ariel Schrag’s Ariel and Kevin Invade Everything. She is the author of four comic books (published in three volumes) chronicling her High School years (1995-1999).
Everyone who was in HS in the mid-to-late-90s should check these books out. Hell, everyone who went to HS in the last two decades would probably be able to find something which resonates with Schrag’s voice and experiences. She drew me in by reminding me so much of a group of my HS friends, and then held me captive for almost 900 pages of illustration and text as she explores her sexuality and attempts to tackle her art, classes and eventually a part-time job – all while preparing herself for college.
My personal favorite is Potential – it garnered her an Eisner award nomination. This one is the documentation of Schrag coming to terms her homosexuality, falling in love for the first time, and suffering through her parents divorce. It’s raw and blisteringly painful but perfectly captures the essence of HS and first love. It was nearly impossible to put down.
My only bone of contention is with the final book – Likewise. It’s far too experimental for my tastes and strays heavily from the format of the first three books. It features blank panels, sketchy scenes and lots of word salad. There is also not a strong feeling of closure, especially since this is the final volume in the autobiographical series. Of course, it doesn’t take much effort to learn that she eventually went to Columbia and spent a few seasons as a writer on The L Word.
What’s compelling is that she was able to conceive, create, publish and distribute this work at such a young age, with seemingly little support from her parents (aside from freedom and funding).
Most of the artistic style featured is cartoonish, but the few sequences where she renders herself and her love interest Sally in full artistic scope are mind-blowing. I would love to see more pieces like that evolving in her work, but she manages to eek a lot of emotion out of the big eyes, skinny limbs and tousled hair of her subjects.
Bechdel Test: All three books PASS the women test, two PASS the men test and no books PASS the race test.
The reviews have been sparse the last few weeks as I’ve been catching up on at least a years worth of several series I follow. You all know of my passion for Peter David books, so the first batch of catch-up I’ve done is with his titles specifically. So, let’s get this party started right…
SHE-HULK: Peter David Style
As promised earlier this month, I’ve been really making an effort at finding a non-mutant female superheroine to follow in a regular monthly series. She-Hulk, as penned by Peter David, seemed like it was built of instant win. Not so. Ever since a conversation with comic book sage, Hisham, it’s been quite impossible for me not to see how meta his writing becomes at times. I dig his sense of humor, but it was not jiving well with the She-Hulk I remember from earlier days.
I read an issue with her as a respected lawyer, struggling with balancing work, superhero duties and a relationship. Seems pretty relatable. Unfortunately for this new direction – Bounty Hunter She-Hulk has too many throw-backs to a lame reality TV show I’ve watched a few episodes of. And it confusingly includes a Skrull woman who assumes her identity. They live in a trailer park and roll around in an RV. I dunno, nothing about it really sung off the pages for me. I gave the trade paperback the first 20 pages and then honestly couldn’t press myself further. But I tried, alright? I really did.
FALLEN ANGEL – To Live and Die in Bette
The first of the three Fallen Angel TPBs – Red Horse Riding – opens with a young boy being able to pass in and out of Bette Noire in his sleep. He witnesses the start of the war between good and evil being waged there (or perhaps, evil and more evil?). By the conclusion of the book, Jubal (son of the previous evil magistrate) has successfully deprived his 1/2 brother Jude of the title of Magistrate, and is in control of the City that shapes the world. Except he’s a freaking all-powerful demon now. So, that sucks.
The next book, Cities of Light and Dark has to do with Black Mariah, Jude and Liandra (who escaped) chumming about in the real world, attempting to find someway back to Bette Noire to reverse all the bad mojo and dethrone Jubal. They make it to one of the other cities (apparently there are four), but on the way crash an airplane, battle a shark, and jump into a volcano. Which of those three things screams moody noir to you? Oh right, none of them. Hmph.
Long story short – they win the battle and then, Illyria from the Whedonverse shows up and wants to kill Liandra (cause the Powers That Be asked her to). They go on a magical journey to find three instruments of power Illyria needs to retain her God form, but in the end she is convinced that being in Fred’s body ain’t so bad.
No single part of these elements is stand-alone awful, it just isn’t resonating with me. The first few TPBs were mystical, ethereal and fairly low on the camp, cheese and witty back-and-forth.
The entire series feels so uneven at this point. The concept is great, and the world David’s created is intensely fascinating, but I feel like its floundering. Personally, I could do without the “special guests.” Unless they really fit with the story, and the universe…I don’t want them there. Despite it’s flaws, I’m still attracted to the series and will continue to follow where Mr. David leads.
This is all Spider-Woman’s fault. So blame her.
I’ll admit that I was no fan of Secret Invasion (which killed my comic book appetite for at least a year). But now that the dust has settled, I’m back to picking up Marvel books. Lucky for me that Marvel is attempting to be more inclusive of my gender.
And that’s where Spider-Woman enters the equation.
Traditional superhero books have always been a difficult stretch for me. This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about that fact either:
Maybe it’s the same reason that I never enjoyed Superman, the Justice League, Captain America or The Avengers quite as much as the X-Men because the X-Men have always been the under-dog, and I’ve always had an intense fascination with the under-dog. Wonder Woman/Superman, Batman, Captain America all get love wherever they go. Of course their duties lie in protecting and serving the American Dream.
The X-Men on the other hand were hated and feared by the general public and often their help was misconstrued as violence. So their reasoning behind saving the world was always more compelling, and constantly being questioned. Also, most of them aren’t some mystical being or aliens, which makes it easier to stomach their differences. They’re real people who struggle with oppression and bigotry.
These thoughts aside – I’m starting to wonder if my continually underwhelming attempts at continuing to read X-Men aren’t also based around some kind of nostalgia and sense of loyalty, versus a true desire for superhero books.
Which leads me to the state I’m in today…I’d love to get behind a character like Spider-Woman (she is neither magical nor an alien, just a woman who’s been seriously screwed with most of her life). In fact, judging from the Issue #1 of the new Bendis run, I’m pretty sure I’ll start becoming a regular reader.
I’d like to say the same for She-Hulk as well – I’ll probably pick up the Peter David run and read through that at some point…but there must be some reason that I don’t stop by on Wednesday to pick up these books specifically.
Spider-Woman, and the overall push for Marvel to become more woman friendly has caused me to stop and really examine the work I’m attracted to, and for what reasons.
I’m sure you’re probably thinking – it’s silly to think you have to support women centered books…men certainly don’t have a similar allegiance. Have you ever encountered a dude beating himself up for not purchasing Ultimate Spiderman because he wasn’t supporting his gender?
Sure – budget plays a factor. I can’t afford to support every single book with a woman in the lead role. Financial constraints demand that I am selective with the titles I pick up on a regular basis.
There’s time constraints too – I can only read so many comic books.
Maybe it’s processing through the decades of history behind most Superheroes that causes me to go numb when I ponder picking up their book. Consider the fact that a comic book character is a serious investment of your time and energy. Like any other person in your life – they need to prove their worth. They need to be the right fit. Because chances are – they’re going to be there for awhile. The X-Men have become permanent fixtures in my life (permanently inked on my skin, even). These books and characters have lasted longer and produced more content than any other popular culture phenomenon in history. No, seriously.
With Spider-Woman, it took me about 30 minutes to read through her Wikipedia page and get all the background information. She’s a character that has been meddled very little with – aside from the Secret Invasion crap. And that’s all behind us, like some distant, bad dream. As far as I’m concerned – she’s wide open.
And that is highly appealing.
Superheroes lead lives FULL of baggage – dead relatives, failed marriages, stolen identities, murder, financial troubles. Once in awhile it’s nice to make a clean break of it, without resorting to world altering timelines. It’s funny how some creators, writers and editors think this is the proper way to achieve catharsis or transformation. If there’s something wrong with the characters – just change the world.
I can appreciate what Bendis is doing here (at least in this first issue). Instead of saying – “Let’s completely change this person’s world (again) and have Spiderwoman in a new reality!” He’s keeping it real.
She’s actually experienced everything in her current timeline and retains the knowledge of these events. There is not going to be some magic eraser or delete button to take it all away. She’s going to survive and push on despite the decades of bullcrap weighing her down. And maybe, just maybe…she can take care of some of that baggage without having to change the world. She can simply change herself.
And by she – I mean Bendis. And by Bendis – I mean all comic book writers.
I’ll save my thoughts about motion comics and the artwork of Spider-Woman for another post.
I started reviewing Marvel’s line-up for February and March in an effort to rekindle my love for X-Books and the Marvel brand as a whole. Wasn’t expecting much in the way of titles I would actually pick up, especially after scanning through their releases for this week and the rest of March. Dismal, dismal stuff – most of the X-Titles. However, a few of them sparked interest, as well as some other material I never knew existed. Kudos to Marvel for winning me back as a reader. For now.
It’s unfortunate that the X-Factor synopsis for the next few books looks absolutely painful. Not sure I’m going to be able to get back into this book with the fervor I had reserved for the first 25 issues of it’s latest reincarnation. While I love Peter David…Dr. Doom is completely un-interesting to me. *tears*
This isn’t the sum total of the books I’m considering getting back into (or picking up for the first time), but the other publishers are going to have to hold off for a bit. I’ll check in with Oni Press and Dark Horse later this week and give a run-down of what looks interesting there.
– Phoenix Saga #1 (the Marvel page link appears to be broken, it’s a prequel to X-Men: Second Coming)
What are you all reading and/or looking forward to?
The last set of books I had the pleasure of reading are miscellaneous (but still awesome) series on our pull list that don’t have a central theme or connection to one another. Except for the awesomeness.
They are: The Walking Dead, The Dark Tower: The Road Home, Runaways
*Possible Spoilers, Ya’ll*
When this series written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Charlie Adlard first started out, it had the excitement of a fresh take on the tired Zombie Genre…following closely a band of survivors with the Zombie Menace being merely a backdrop for their tragedies and turmoils.
But in the last 12 issues, the series has sort of devolved into a slaughter fest. It started out with a trickle as naturally members of the group fell victim to a bite, a murderous rampage, suicide, hostile groups of surivors, more suicide, etc.
It stands now following only two survivors.
Our hero – the small town cop who must become leader and hold together his damaged psyche for the good of the order is totally nuts, sick and only has one hand. His son is packing all the heat and taking care of the two of them.
And while the young kid versus the Zombies angle is new and interesting…I sort of lost interest when a good chunk of the characters died.
On one hand, part of the suspense and intrigue of the book was that no one, not even your favorite character – was safe. Or spared from some kind of torture or humiliation. Anyone and everyone could bite it (or be bitten). But around issue 40…it became clear that nearly EVERYONE was going to bite it. Characters that you knew and loved were being picked off one or two an issue until the outright slaughter-fest that culminated in Issues 48 and 49.
And now, the series is ringing a bit hollow for me. I loved the intrigue of the author not holding any particular character as a sacred cow…but killing off pretty much everyone leaves the audience fearing for the state of the book, rather than just the state of their favorite character.
The entire gaggle of X-Books (we’re collecting 4 of them) consisted of 13 issues, and some were fairly slow going due to a lack of interest on my part. So, without further ado, here goes:
Of course, we all know a few of the main reasons this book was making it in the box. It was penned by “the man” Mr. Whedon, and it revolved around everyone’s favorite lovable band of Merry Mutants. Two great flavors that certainly tasted great together…while they lasted.
*Cue dramatic music*
Warren Ellis now helms this book, bringing with him an artist, Simone Bianchi who seems hell bent on making everyone and everything look like a Halloween Super Store exploded on the pages. He’s not all that bad really…but his art is spooky and all the characters look like malicious goblins or demonic war-lords. It’s definitely a change from the clean and shiney inks of John Cassady.
As for Ellis, I can’t say he and I have much history, or will in the future. His book is much too technical and wordy to suit my X-Men desires.
And that’s fine, right? There are many other X-Books to choose from. No harm, no foul.
After the Messiah Complex tore the team asunder (and annihilated the X-Mansion for the billionth time), it only seemed appropriate that the team members should take a hiatus. Xavier was dead, the mansion destroyed, the dream hanging in tattered shreds.
So, let’s all pick up and move to San Francisco.
Eh, what? Does anyone else remember how bad of an idea that is? Similar plot-lines wherein the X-Team alters locations never end well. And come on – San Francisco? Let’s take the comic allegory and decorate it with political trappings please. Be sure to mention HYBRIDS! I don’t know about this Ed Brubaker character.
*sigh* As if all this wasn’t bad enough – Rogue and Gambit are MIA (remember them, two of your more popular characters??) and Emma Frost is doing her best Jean Grey impersonation to everyone’s discomfort. She sticks out like a sore thumb that the X-Editors are intent on jabbing in the eye of every reader who thinks Jean Grey should return from the dead and kick the holy telepathic shit out of her.
But Emma’s on every other page – with smarmy retorts and her boobies jostling up out of her top. Always so classy, Ms. Frost.
It would seem that the X-Creators forget she’s only ever worked as a minor character and only when given some sort of purpose. Otherwise, she’s like a venereal disease infested peacock preening and pretending to fill the shoes of the most powerful mutant in the Universe. Puh-thetic.
Cyclops is back as the leader (AS ALWAYS). Could anyone be less enthused?
I promised a review of Black Hole by Charles Burns and Goldfish by Brian Michael Bendis, but I was feeling so lackluster about both (I didn’t finish Goldfish, even though I liked the initial opening), that I haven’t been able to rally the motivation. Except for tonight – so here we go…
Black Hole was an intriguing metaphorical trip into HS during the 70s, with a touch of an AIDS like sexually transmitted disease that forever turns the victim into a mutant. And as with American Born Chinese, I just wasn’t able to connect as much with the material.
I felt Black Hole was too myopic and depressing – it ladled on it’s message and subject matter thickly. It managed to do this while telling an engrossing story, but there is something about being heavily preached to while reading a comic that can be off-putting at times.
I know. I know. I’ve cried about needing more meat in my books. But I felt as a reader – slightly mocked by the artistry in this book. And it was very DARK. It made me think of suicide and skeletons in the closet and all sorts of seedy things.
It felt like reading someone’s diary. A dirty diary.
So – I know – why am I bitching about it?
It’s not really bitching, I swear. Comics are capable (like all art forms) of affecting a delicate balance between story and theme, but in this case – the book seemed heavily laden with theme.