Saturday, 28 June 2014

Oglaf: It’s Dirty, It’s Funny, It’s Oglaf!

A Review By: Amelia

Web comics can be an intimidating thing to get in to. Some you can read on a one-shot basis like Dinosaur Comics. Others you have to start at the beginning or you’ll be so lost and it will be more of a hassle than a joy. Homestuck, I’m looking at you for that one! And what if you’re looking for something in between that? A web comic that has one-shot panels but also panels that form an ongoing story? Well, I think you’ll find this review is for the comic you’re looking for (barring the fact that it does have a lot of sex in it, but more on that later)!

Oglaf comics are a weekly comedic web comic centred on a medieval fantasy realm that are mostly one-shots. The comics follow non-repeating characters but there are continuing storylines/repeating characters (like the Apprentice storylines that make up 90% of the beginning of the comics life). And yes, like I briefly mentioned just above, Oglaf has a tonne of nudity and sex–so here’s the mandatory disclaimer: if you are under the legal age in your region, or have a poor opinion of sex, humour, dragons, elves, sorcery, semen or any combination of the like, this comic (and review) is not recommended for you! The Oglaf comics are updated weekly on Sundays at!

There are two authors/illustrators that work on Oglaf: Doug Bayne and Trudy Cooper. Bayne is an Australian animator, actor, and writer and Cooper is an Australian cartoonist and illustrator. Both their primary works include Oglaf and Platinum Grit (

A personal favourite of mine
The art style of Oglaf is really quite wonderful considering how some people get away with doodles and dot eyes for web comics! Not that I don’t love me some dot eyes, but Oglaf’s  realistic form with correct human proportions and anatomy–and trust me, you’ll be seeing a lot of anatomy if you catch my drift–is quite beautiful. All the comic panels are also in colour which is always nice. My one qualm with the art style is that all the faces are quite similar. The female faces are slightly more varied, as I believe a lot of that comes down to hair style; unfortunately though, the male faces are all kind of the same: eyebrows, eyes, noses, their expressions. It’s not a huge issue and it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall experience, it’s just something you’re bound to notice after prolonged readings.

 My final thoughts on Oglaf are that it’s my favourite web comic and if you’re looking for a new comic to slate a thirst of hilarity and sexiness this is the comic for you! The art is great, the stories never fail to amuse, it updates weekly and since it’s mostly one-shots you can jump right in to the newest ones or go through the huge archive, and, hell, who doesn’t love a good NSFW comic every now and again?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Tell Me Something about Buddhism: Questions and Answers for the Curious Beginner
A Review By: Amelia
Buddhism has always made me curious. It’s not a religion, it’s a loose philosophical system that billions of people practice even today, and to me (I’m a staunch non-religious person) that’s just fascinating. But where does one start with Buddhism? Which books should I pick up? What research should be done to open my horizons, so to speak? It’s a system that’s been in place thousands of years and is moulded differently in each area that it is practiced and to just jump in seems daunting. Tell Me Something about Buddhism is a book that realizes that it’s daunting and will help guide you through a number of the bigger questions of Buddhism.

For anyone curious about the teachings of Buddha and modern Buddhist practice, "Tell Me Something about Buddhism "offers the perfect introduction. Written by Soto Zen priest Zenju Earthlyn Manuel and organized in an easy-to-use Question and Answer format, this brief book answers the many common questions people have about Buddhism.

The author of Tell Me Something about Buddhism is Zenju Earthlyn Manuel (Zenju is her dharma name meaning complete tenderness). Manuel was ordained a Soto Zen priest September 2008 and along with her writing career in the field of Buddhism, she’s been a guest teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Green Gulch Zen Center, and the East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland. She holds a M.A. degree from U.C.L.A. and a Ph.D. in Transformation and Consciousness from the California Institute of Integral Studies. So, all in all, this is a lady that knows what Zen is all about.

Manuel, who has been involved in Buddhist practice for over twenty years, after an L.A. upbringing in an African-American Christian church, intertwines throughout the book her personal experiences as one of the first African-American Zen priests. Her life in the Sangha, her teaching in local communities, and her travels around the world meeting other Buddhist practitioners enliven her answers to the most fundamental questions about Buddhist practice. Some of her answers are brief, some in-depth, others still are personal and reflect more of an opinion than an outright answer, but she is a highly qualified woman and you’ll know more about Buddhism after finishing this book than when you began. She writes, "Had I not opened myself to the many teachings from the earth, such as Buddha's wisdom, it would have been nearly impossible to survive the fires of my soul."

Tell Me Something about Buddhism is an interesting little book. It doesn’t cover everything you’ll need to know about Buddhism–I don’t think any one book could ever do that–but it does give you just enough basics on things like who was Buddha to why do monks, nuns, and priests shave their heads.

My final thoughts on Tell Me Something about Buddhism are that it’s good. It’s not exactly a book that you can pick up and fall into without some prior interest in Buddhism but, like the title says, it’s a good place to start for a curious beginner!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: 90s Girl Power Galore!

A Review By: Amelia
If you were born in the 1990s, you’ve seen Sailor Moon (or at the very least heard of it). It was the first anime that I, and a lot of other kids, were exposed too, and it was definitely the first time I had ever seen a group of girls with such badass powers and attitudes! I mean, she fights evil in the moonlight and finds love in the daylight! What’s not to love about that?

Now, for those of you who don’t know, the story of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon follows the adventures of the reborn defenders of a kingdom that once spanned the solar system and the evil forces that they battle to defend the entire universe from annihilation. The series is a fantasy and are heavily symbolic and often based on mythology.

The writer and illustrator of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is Naoko Takeuchi who is a Japanese manga and anime writer/artist. She started at age 19 and her works include Chocolate Christmas, Maria, and The Cherry Project, and other course Sailor Moon which has risen to one of the most popular and recognizable manga/anime characters!

As mentioned above, the series surrounds the exploits of guardians that defend the universe from annihilation. These super-powered protectors are a group of teenage girls called the Sailor Scouts that go to school, deal with their personal lives, and fight their enemies ruthlessly from day to day. There’s a Sailor Scout for every planet (including the no longer classified as a planet Pluto!) and there’s even a few Sailor Scouts that make an appearance through time travel, inter-dimensional travel, etc. Unfortunately, through the twelve volumes of the series you don’t really get much character development – at least from anyone but Sailor Moon herself. In fact, the other Sailor Scouts don’t even have that many speaking lines and I’d say that the villains that they fight got to say more than any one Sailor Scout!

The art style in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon is a very exaggerated style. The characters all have long and fantastic hair, long and fantastic legs, and short and fantastically revealing skirts! Everyone is meant to be jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but I actually found myself unable to get by the facial design of the characters: it was the mouths. They were too small and way high up the face and apparently, that’s just not something my brain is able to see, accept, and move on from! Other than that though, everything was incredibly beautiful–especially the panels that showed landscapes and the outer space shots. The Sailor Scouts hair and bodies were beautiful, landscapes were breathtaking, and the action sequences (though very short) were all nicely done. Really, what I’m getting at is that everything but their little mouths was great!

All in all, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon was a great manga. I would have been happier with a different facial design and I definitely could have done with a little more character development from the Sailor Scouts–especially the badass Sailor Mars!–but other than that, this manga series was such a fabulous blast from the past! It took me back to when I was six and ran around the house pretending to be Sailor Mars! And more importantly than nostalgia, this manga/anime gave me confidence in being a girl! Here’s a group of teenage girls that kick more ass than anyone else I’ve yet to know about and I think that’s something that’s still very needed in the media!

My final thoughts on Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon are that it’s pretty great. I, personally, am not a big fan of the way the faces are drawn, but the stories are so ridiculously over the top and, more often than not, almost too strange to follow cohesively, but my god what a trip down memory lane! It’s a girl powered romp through amazingness and if you watched the Sailor Moon anime as a child I suggest you look into the manga series for nostalgia–you won’t be disappointed!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Tomb Raider The Lost Cult: Fanfiction At It’s Best

A Review By: Amelia

Fanfiction is hit or miss: sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s tripe, and, of course, more than often, it’s full of graphic sex between characters that should not be having graphic sex. Seriously. They should not be having sex… But anyways, what was I saying? Oh yes, sometimes fanfiction is amazing and I can tell you now, Tomb Raider: The Lost Cult is just such a fanfiction!

After destroying years of his research on the ancient Méne cult, archaeologist Professor Frys is murdered by an unknown assassin. Lara Croft knows her colleague must have stumbled upon a dangerous secret–and someone took his life to ensure it would remain in the shadows. She jets around the world and quickly discovers that what’s happening is much bigger than she could have ever imagined as an ancient and deadly cult hopes to bring about the end of the world.

E. E. Knight grew up in Minnesota but now lives in Oak Park, Illinois. He tried journalism, photography, retail jobs, and software development before discovering he could get paid to make up stories and put them down on paper. Aside from The Lost Cult he is also the author of the Vampire Earth series.

The characters of the piece are Borg, an incredibly buff and famous mountain climber that lost his arms in an accident but continues to climb with the aid of two very high-tech prosthetic arms. Ajay, Lara’s former friend and failed protégé now turned evil cult activist. And–of course–Lara Croft, infamous archaeologists/tomb raider and all-round gun wielding, ass kicking, bitchingly awesome woman!

Ajay and Borg are very well-rounded original characters and seem very fleshed out within the piece. The backgrounds of the two characters are believable and realistic: maybe even more than Lara Croft’s own background. You will never see Ajay and Borg in another piece of Tomb Raider work (be it comics, videogames, books, etc.) but within The Lost Cult they fit with the plot well and interact with Lara like they’ve been with her since the very beginning.

As for Lara herself she’s done amazingly well. When you look at the videogames that the books draw her character from you really do realize how little you learn about Lara within them. Honestly, within the first game she just felt very cookie-cutter character: like, this is what we know about badass characters now let’s add tits and now they’re female. She’s evolved mightily since then within the videogame world, but for authors to write books about her from those first few games is very impressive. In The Lost Cult you’re immediately presented with a Lara Croft that is not only intelligent and knows how to kick ass, but has regrets about her past and actual human emotions surrounding things like loss and betrayal; she even shows sexuality beyond just having big tits as she develops ‘crush’ like feelings for Borg and often finds herself thinking how she’d like to get to know him beyond working with him. E.E. Knight took a character that was cold as ice and made them into a human: even more than that, Knight was able to explain why in other instances Lara needs to come off as cold as ice.  

All in all The Lost Cult is a seriously amazing book. The story is compelling and exciting as Lara runs around the world to protect it from a cult hoping to raise primordial gods–I mean, what’s not to like there? Knight more or less pits Lara against Cthulhu and that’s awesome! Plus he’s managed to create new characters that fit within the Tomb Raider universe really well: so well that characters that are brand new will seem like they’ve belonged to the Tomb Raider franchise for years. Even more than that though, Knight took a character that’s already been developed and delved even further into her with whole new angles to look at Lara from and be creating compelling reasons as to why she would act this way given what we’ve seen of her in the videogames!

My final thoughts on Tomb Raider: The Lost Cult are that it’s amazing considering how it’s literally just a fanfiction about a videogame franchise! The author pulled off something really remarkable and really just went above and beyond what I expected, especially with his portrayal of the characters. Honestly, it’s an amazing piece of fiction and fans of Lara Croft’s exciting exploits should not miss out on this book!