Fifty-three installments and I’m still not finished.

Not even close.

Persisting in the wake of my sometimes-limited attention span, this column has offered irrefutable evidence that I talk too much. An ever-present quirk existing since early childhood and manifesting in the realization that it proved relatively simple to pen one-year’s worth of missives, rants, and inspired bits about the comic industry and my attempts at breaking into it at the enviable position of writer. Scratch that. Enviable isn’t the right word. Pitiable is more like it. Probably something involving the brutal odds and nearly insurmountable obstacles that one must shed in order to ‘break-in’. But I can’t be stopped. If only because failure would result in a period of lifelong embarrassment, provided by this convenient platform that often declared otherwise.

I’m going to break into the industry simply because I told you I was going to.

But addressing more immediate concerns…Ambidextrous is folding its tent and moving onto greener pastures. Which means a new day and a flock of new shit for the new year. The first anniversary of Ambi. was on July 17, and I’m utilizing this excuse to change the picture running above my SBC profile. Because I needed additional rationalization to pitch this idea to my editors I told them I’d rewrite the profile, have them conjure into being a new logo, and re-invent myself for Year Two. But I’m not going to. Re-invention when scheduled and prematurely diagnosed is an impressive but ultimately embarrassing experience that only stretches one’s abilities at play-acting, ignoring that evolution is a natural process that will elicit its influence when it’s good and fuckin’ ready.

Year Two will become wildly different when the industry I’m commenting on and attempting to break into forces my hand. Or better yet…when I force its hand.

So Year Two will be more of the same, yet completely different. And it begins on July 29th, which is a Monday. But I’ll remind you about that a little later on, especially considering the potentially explosive feature that stands a great chance of setting things off properly in the new time slot. I won’t say much because it’ll jinx things, but it’s…well…it’ll be the shit. Trust me. Big things.

Does this mean that you’re being cheated out of a full weekly dose of Ambidextrous? Well, hell no…what would talk of the future be without an accurate glimpse if it?

The Nearly Unmentionables
More often than I’d care to admit, reading my own articles is relatively painful. Some kind of writer’s neurosis that threatens to leave me a dribbling idiot facing down his own mediocrity, because only the author knows when he got lazy, where he took a break to visit that girl, and how many passes were taken at the whole thing. Fortunately, no one else sees the crap that didn’t make the final edit. And some of these things turned out well enough, and so naturally…signs of the future are contained within. Prophecy delivered in a form so subtle that even I hadn’t realized it. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you.

Haters Be Hating
This was personal confirmation that I wasn’t completely in over my head, and was the commentary glistening on the edge of my consciousness before I even asked SBC for my own column. It was passionate and straightforward, peppered with effective obscenities, and its title sprang from an inside joke that only four people truly understand. So that one makes me smile, and unfortunately, despite my best efforts, the ‘haters’ are still out there, forcing me to maintain a watchful eye. Naturally, I will keep you all posted in regards to their shadowed movements.

Burnin’ The Envelope
This is what the industry needs to do to save itself. Oh, wait a minute, that phrase is incredibly cliché isn’t it? Okay, this piece was what I think a slowly recovering market could do to better themselves. It’s a list of very strong suggestions that will serve as precursor to a series of pieces coming up in Year Two tentatively titled The Blueprint.

Unconditioned Stimulus
This one offers an explanation for my love/hate relationship with Peter Milligan and explains that a clever notion is almost never exclusive. It also tells what products of mass media and pop culture have made me the determined young scribe I am today.

The Lab
This was a brief look at some of the stories that have a habit of racing through my head at any simultaneous point. Look for more unsolicited behind-the-scenes workings as I try to make this writing thing manifest.

Let’s Get It
My battle anthem, pure and simple. Riding on a wave of optimism triggered by the excellent Spider-Man movie, it’s a manifesto about how we have the technology to take over the world, so there’s no reason why we aren’t doing it. It’s about excising the bullshitters and the naysayers from the main body, and existing as a graphic force of nature.

Fight The Power?
My diatribe about superheroes and their usefulness to our industry. And why you’ll never be able to snuff them out. And you shouldn’t bother trying. Perhaps this year I’ll become enlightened and swear profusely against the man in tights, but I don’t think it’s highly likely. Stranger things have happened I suppose.

Truth Hurts
This netted the most positive mail I’ve ever received and apparently spoke to several readers. Hopefully my special guest next week can do the same.

If you liked any of the above…then Year Two is designed to tickle your perceptions. More opinionated commentary, more behind-the-scenes workings, more interviews, more integration with the message board even I’ve forgotten about, and hopefully…more hits. Which prompts me to make a request of you kind people.

Join the Ambidextrous Street Team-
This idea is being borrowed from Rich Johnston, our former rumor monger who’s currently kicking dirt at people over at CBR, who came up with a very interesting idea to aid him in promoting his column. If all goes well, Year Two will see my very own Street Team circulating a direct link to my column to as many online outlets as possible. I’ll be sending initial invitations utilizing the growing contents of my address book, but if anyone out there is interested in supporting this grassroots effort, please feel free to drop me an e-mail. Street Team members will be entrusted with disseminating the Ambidextrous link to anyone they feel may find it useful, spreading the word to any and all that will listen. Let me know if you’re game for participating in this blatant attempt at online guerrilla marketing.

Things begin again in nine days. Mark your calendars. And before you leave, don’t forget to check out The New Hotness.

Brandon Thomas

The New Hotness
Someone suggested that I begin including short capsule reviews on the tail end of the column. I suppose it’s possible that someone out there may actually check out one of my recommendations, and this speculative thinking has given birth to a supplemental segment called The New Hotness – The Books You Should’ve Read Last Week. Three titles that everyone should’ve bought on the preceding Wednesday. And if you haven’t…it’s not too late. Its placement isn’t set in stone so let me know if you think it should remain here, or even fade into nothingness. Enjoy the beta version.

Unnatural Selection: The Origin of Hip Flask (Richard Starkings/Ladronn/Joe Casey)
Casey has been bragging to anyone that will listen that this book will show mainstream comic companies how their products are supposed to look. Flip through his pulp sci-fi epic and attempt to disagree with him. While his deliberate and sharp dialogue keeps the ball bouncing from page to page, everyone is aware that the true star of this project isn’t the popular writer, or even the giant talking hippopotamus…it’s the artistic stylings of Ladronn. Part Kirby and part Moebius, Ladronn ensures that this story of human technology and ingenuity gone mad is firmly rooted in reality and a future that is more likely than we should be comfortable with. Mad ideas and wild visuals make this a comic containing a flair that nothing else on the stands can match.

Y: The Last Man #1 (Brian K. Vaughan/Pia Guerra/Jose Marzan)
Vertigo is on a fuckin’ roll lately. This is the third recent launch that these people have knocked out of the park, and the future of the imprint looks shiny indeed. This one is a socio-political science fiction series that answers that age old question…what if there was only one man left on Earth? Every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome has dropped dead except for a man named Yorick and his monkey Ampersand. How this man has survived is a virtual mystery, but Vaughan weaves an alarmingly clever narrative that utilizes a storytelling trick that sets the premise and then watches time run in the opposite direction. It inspires the tension and unrest of a methodical countdown, the end of which is going to change the world. It only helps that he introduces a cast of strong female characters that will soon inherit the Earth in the most terrible way possible. The best introductory issue I’ve read in a while.

Automatic Kafka #1 (Joe Casey/Ashley Wood)

Casey was on drugs when he came up with this series. That’s the only explanation for this introductory issue that makes absolutely no sense. But for some reason…it’s strangely intriguing. Automatic Kafka used to be part of a team called The $trangers that saved the world from the forces of evil in the 80s. Now, the glory days are over and the team is scattered to the four winds and doing nasty things. Kafka has just ingested some strange hallucinogen that’s showed him a corner of the world no one was meant to see.

At least that’s what I think happened. It was difficult to tell. But Casey may be onto something here, a train of thought that inspires some degree of confidence in this latest foray into mature superhero comics. The critics are shitting on this thing but I’ll go out on a limb and say that I trust Joe to bring his inspired hallucinations to some manner of focus in the coming months. If only to say, “I told you so,” when people change their mind and start calling him a genius.

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