Author of Beckoning Of Aethurius: The Feminist Part 1
Earlier this week our staff writer and podcaster Josue Aguayo reviewed the indie comic, ‘Beckoning Of Aetherius: The Feminist Part 1′ after it was sent to us. The author CJ Anderson then agreed to an interview which was conducted via email, by Mitch Punpayuk of the “Hey Mitch’ podcast.
Mitch: First I want to say thank you again for giving us a follow up interview after reviewing of your comic book, ‘Beckoning Of Aetherius: The Feminist Part 1’.
No problem, and thank you for being interested in reviewing my book, and setting up this interview.
M: For those who haven’t read it yet, please explain what is the book about?
This first chapter is about two women who have opposing views on what it means to be an authentic person. This puts their friendship in a tough position, and the results will affect much greater events that happen in the near future.
M: Why did you want to tell this story?
I wanted to tell this specific story for chapter 1 because I am fascinated with “identity”, and what that means for people. I also think that “identity” is a great way to set up meaningful characters, and see how their future decisions are affected by how they identify.
Just about everyone identifies themselves based on various biological factors, as well as social constructions that they’ve learned from society over the years. Whether that be based on religion, sex & gender beliefs, sexuality beliefs, race, class, attractiveness, etc.
In this case, Methy identifies as a range of things, and Sienna plays the role of questioning it. I want people to wonder why Sienna is so concerned. Does Sienna hold onto identity herself? What drives Methy to hold on to how she identifies, because later on this plays a crucial role in their near future. I also want to see how the audience feels . What’s also exciting to me is that this is a sci-fi / superhero series. It will be great to see how the audience responds to what I’ve previously said about “Identity”, and how that unfolds within the frame
of the superhero theme. Without understanding the reasons behind your own identity, how can one truly be an authentic hero? Let the drama begin.
M: How long from inception of the idea to making it public did it take you?
This is a good question because this first chapter is a part of a much bigger story. I wrote the full complete story (200 pages in screenplay style mostly) years ago.
After I figured out the art style, I looked at the full story and separated it into smaller chapters for comics. I then started to refine the writing for this chapter.
So the time it took me to write the full story was about 2 years. One year to dream up the idea, and one year to organize the info and write the story.
It then took me a few weeks to refine the writing for this chapter, and several others. I couldn’t have written this chapter without first writing the 200 page screenplay, because it all connects.
M: Is Part 2 available now? When can readers expect further editions after part 2?
I’m working on Chapter 2 now. I refined the writing for that a few years ago, so now I’m working on the art for the comic pages, and concept art for new aspects of the story. Readers can expect a lot more chapters as this is a pretty long story that I broke up into 3 big story arcs. Chapter 1 & 2 is a part of the first 15 or so books. There is a big ending and a cliffhanger. Then there are the second 15 or so books. I then have a rough outline for the third 15 or so books. If Chapter 1 and 2 do well enough, I can continue to finalize these future chapters, and get them to audiences.
M: What other stories, writers, and artists have inspired you in the past?
I’ve been mostly inspired by various specific films & music when it comes to story and writing. It’s a very long list so to name a few, ‘Pulp Fiction’, for it’s interesting dialogue. ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, for it’s story pacing and big reveals. ‘The Virgin Suicides’, for it’s feel, especially the music soundtrack and certain visuals. The, ‘X-Files’, for it’s mystery, and character chemistry. The music band, “Earlimart” for its overall feel, especially songs like ‘Happy Alone’. Han Zimmer for his creativity in epic musical themes. I’m inspired by various visual artists such as “Norman Rockwell” for his detail, style and scene designs. Specific Anime & Manga like ‘Battle Angel’, and, ‘Ranma 1/2’ for it’s very interesting style. Specific Disney films such as ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Lilo & Stitch’ for its colors, line, and overall expressions. Old painters such as Singer Sargent and Bouguereau for their very great paint technique.
M: As the artist and the writer for the book, is there one aspect you feel you need to tackle first when telling the story?
Yes, for me, what comes first is the right overall feeling. Then exploring those feelings and figuring out what I’m trying to get across with them, and what excites me about them. Then it’s the visual moments that I can see in my mind based on those feelings. Then, it depends on what the quickest way is to express that in a rough draft. Whether that be rough writing, or a rough sketch. Usually it’s rough writing so I can quickly put down some notes. If words will take too long to explain, I do a rough sketch. Sometimes a rough sketch along with rough writing together. The next step for me is to write down the whole story, sketching certain scenes here and there as I see them in my mind. Once I’m satisfied with the writing, I refine all the sketches, add new art, and start the storyboard process. Then concept art. It starts to become more visual art heavy. Then back to the writing for refinements. So I’d say it’s a combination of both for me.
M: How much back story for “Metheena” and “Sienna” is there when we meet them in the bookstore? Will we get to see that at some point?
There is a lot of backstory for Methy and Sienna when we meet them in the bookstore. For me, backstory is so important because one off detail in the backstory can dramatically affect the current story you’re telling. That is the core reason I focused a great deal of time on writing the 200 page screenplay. I wanted to make sure that all the elements worked. I see some writers kind of drop the ball on that, like forgetting the character traits of their own character, which creates a lot of inconsistency in character behavior. I want to avoid things like that as much as possible. You will definitely be seeing their backstory. In fact, that actually happens right in the beginning of Chapter 2. I figured, after presenting the drama of chapter 1, now let’s get to the juicy stuff in chapter 2. Not all
at once though. I want to slow burn a few things for greater impact later.
M: How do you like your environment when you are creating? IE., music playing, white noise TV, complete silence, etc.
I like a lot of music playing while I work. Music that reflects what I’m drawing/painting, or writing. Music is a huge part of my day. I get so many ideas listening to, for instance, instrumental soundtracks. The feeling certain songs give me makes many ideas appear in my mind instantly. Sometimes the melodies I hear can either make or break an image I’m creating, or part of a story I’m writing.
M: What pushed you to ultimately publish?
I always wanted to be in charge of my own story project, that I can then entertain people with. Not just entertain, but connect to a wide diverse range of people with. So publishing was a part of the plan. I feel like in the end, I’m a storyteller, so I needed a way to do that.
M: What is the next step?
The next step is to continue finalizing more chapters to this comic series, and getting that to audiences. This includes building a big enough audience fast enough to sell more copies so that it is apparent that working on this series is financially feasible. Another aspect of this is creating clothing and other merch for this, as well as an artbook, which both are on the way. Overall I want to build this into a big business where I have a platform to also create other stories besides Aetherius. I have a ghost story, as well as a heavy sci-fi fantasy story I want to finalize and get to audiences. It all starts with Aetherius first though.
Review By John Camarena
…we get to see what it would be like for a radioactive dinosaur to throw down with a giant gorilla.
The time has finally come, and one of the most anticipated movies by a very small faction of specific fandom can finally rejoice: ‘Godzilla Vs Kong’ has arrived and it is good!
After a couple of delays and uncertainty due to the still ongoing pandemic, Warner Media and Legendary Pictures has allowed us to stream this movie from the safety and comfort of our own homes through HBO Max for 30 days after its release date, though this one would be worth watching on the biggest screen possible; it looks absolutely gorgeous and sounds fantastic. This movie is everything it sold itself as: Godzilla and Kong have a couple of showdowns and we get to see what it would be like for a radioactive dinosaur to throw down with a giant gorilla.
Spoiler alert: It’s awesome!
But not to get too ahead of ourselves, there are a few problems with this film and with this being the fourth entry in the American Godzilla series which started with ‘Godzilla’ (2014), followed by ‘Kong: Skull Island (2017)’, and ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ (2019), let’s just say that if you’re not already on this giant monster train, this movie is not going to suddenly make you love the kaiju genre.
There will be spoilers from here on out so watch it first if you do not want it ruined for you.
It is explained that both Kong and Godzilla are both alphas, so any meeting between the two would result in a fight to the death, and for some reason this would be a bad thing.
This movie picks up a couple of years after ‘King of the Monsters’; Godzilla is still the alpha monster and the world seems to be relatively at peace, though everyone is acutely aware that a monster attack could theoretically happen suddenly and without warning.
Kong, on the other hand, is now full grown on Skull Island, which has been converted into a protected habitat to keep him away from Godzilla. It is explained that Kong and Godzilla are both alphas, so any meeting between the two would result in a fight to the death, and for some reason this would be a bad thing. Then the unexpected happens expectedly; Godzilla attacks a tech company in Florida.
Meanwhile, Bernie Hayes, played by Brian Tyree Henry, a conspiracy theorist, engineer at said tech company suspects the company is doing something shady. Coincidentally, Millie Bobbie Brown’s “Madison Russell” (one of the only two returning characters from any of the previous movies), also listens to the conspiracy podcast and figures out how to find the engineer with the help of “Josh Valentine” played by ‘Deadpool 2’s’ Julian Dennison, and they investigate what the company is hiding. After the attack, the media turns on Godzilla as the savior of mankind and the CEO of the company is suggesting terminating Godzilla once and for all.
Back at Skull Island, Kong becomes aware of the artificial sky creating his prison. A MONARCH research team keeps an eye on him, and “Jia”, a mute little girl played by Kaylee Hottle, is the last living member of the indigenous people that used to inhabit the island; it’s stated the rest of the villagers were wiped out in a storm. Kong has formed a bond with the Jia, and acts as her protector.
The final piece of the plot is a disgraced scientist and proponent of the hollow Earth theory: Nathan Lind played by Alexander Skarsgård. Lind is recruited by the daughter of the company’s CEO to continue looking into his hollow Earth theory because there is evidence it may be true, and that an incredible source of power may exist there that could change mankind forever. The hollow Earth plotline becomes interconnected with Kong because they figure that is where the Titans come from and if Kong is taken there, then there would not be any danger of the two meeting and fighting. Oh how wrong they will turn out to be.
Kong is being transported to Antarctica via boat, and this is where we find out that Kong understands sign language. While Kong has been depicted as being intelligent in previous iterations, here he has full on comprehension of what is happening around him and can express his emotions very well, much to the surprise of everyone except Jia. She then acts as his interpreter for the rest of the movie. During the trip he is heavily sedated to keep him under control, and again the unexpected happens expectedly as Godzilla finds the boats and attacks Kong. Godzilla has the upper hand here as they are in his element and Kong struggles to put up a solid defense, but the military is able to send Godzilla away long enough for them to get Kong to the hollow Earth entry point in Antarctica.
Kong doesn’t want to go at first, but they pretty much force Jia to lie and tell Kong he may have family in there. Kong then bolts and they follow him into the pit, which results in a blatant copy of the hyperspace scene from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
…complete with a throne and battle axes made from the dorsal spines of previous Godzillas!
Now we are in the center of the Earth and there is a crazy ecosystem with more giant monsters and what appears to be temple ruins for Kong’s ancestors, complete with a throne and battle axes made from the dorsal spines of previous Godzillas! The Kongs were smart enough to fashion weapons from their enemies which also have the added bonus of absorbing the nuclear energy and becoming supercharged. At this point, Godzilla somehow senses this is happening and breathes atomic fire so hard into the ground that it bores a hole all the way down to the center of the freaking planet. Kong has had enough of all the posturing and jumps up the hole and the epic fight begins in a beautiful neon-lit Hong Kong.
During this time, the “Stranger Things” team stumbles upon what’s really been causing Godzilla to act out: the company has been using the brain of one of Ghidorah’s severed heads to control a robotic version of Godzilla; a Mechagodzilla, if you will. The company’s CEO monologues that he single-handedly wants to save the world by creating the ultimate Titan killer, and all he needed to fully power it on was an energy sample (what?) from the center of the world to do so. But when Mechagodzilla is fully powered, it kills the pilot and wreaks havoc with a mind of it’s own.
Godzilla was just strutting because he seemingly defeated Kong, but Mechagodzilla proved to be more than he can handle and gets his ass handed to him by his robotic doppelganger. The Kong crew revive Kong with a well-timed explosion and together they bring down robozilla. Kong and Godzilla seem to come to a mutual understanding and respect for one another that wouldn’t seem out of place in a “Fast and Furious” movie, and they go their separate ways. The movie ends with Kong frolicking happily in his new home within the hollow Earth as the research team keeps an eye on him.
This movie has lots for fans to love. For one, the last time these two mighty warriors exchanged blows was in the TOHO film ‘King Kong vs Godzilla’ (1962), and boy have special effects improved. Gone are the days of the man-in-suit on miniature sets, we now have CGI action in glorious 4K resolution and it looks beautiful. You can see all the individual hairs on Kong and the scaly texture of Godzilla’s face. All the action is great and the individual set pieces are creative. One nice surprise is that the cinematography went a little more experimental and showed off a lot of impressive camera angles. One particularly nice shot is from within the cockpit of a fighter jet taking off from a sinking aircraft carrier while the fight between Kong and Godzilla rages behind it. You just have to see it to understand. The lighting in the Hong Kong sequence is beautiful, it is almost like the director is calling out ‘Pacific Rim’ to say “there, that’s how it’s done.” There are lots of call backs to the history of the franchise as well; for instance, Mechagodzilla has several weapons built it like missile launchers and spinning hands, just like the original. The trope of the little girl who can communicate with a kaiju is also here, except this time it’s with Kong. One of the best things about this film is that it also seems to have learned from the previous entries and realized the movie does not need to be two and a half hours and focus on the human drama. No one watches a giant monster movie and actually cares about the family dynamic of the protagonist. Here everything is streamlined and we get to each following sequence somewhat logically, though logic does get stretched a bit, and that’s going to take us to our next bit.
If you have low tolerance for giant monster fights, characters who are only there to bridge the scenes between said fights, and some pretty substantial leaps in logic, then this is not going to be the movie for you. Again, if you weren’t already on board, there’s nothing here that will finally make you see the light. The human element has been reduced quite a bit since the studio has learned that no one actually cares about the motivations of the humans. Making the first film about a soldier who loses his father and later has to protect his wife and son from the subsequent attacks are just waste of valuable screen time. Here, the team trying to discover the conspiracy are probably the worst, as the conspiracy theorist is played as a parody and “Josh” is just plain annoying. The crew that rolls with Kong are mostly just in awe all the time and the villainous CEO and his daughter are so one-dimensionally evil that it’s not even really satisfying when they are killed. The movie also takes a hard right turn into some Jules Verne levels of science fiction with the whole hollow Earth plot point. Just like in the previous movies, there are hints of ancient advanced civilizations, and like those previous films, the hints of a greater mythology are destroyed and forgotten about rather unceremoniously. A few too many things happen purely for the sake of convenience, such as the way to get into the hollow Earth being so complicated and dangerous, but to get back out they just go through the convenient hole that Godzilla created, and the power source needed to run Mechagodzilla was just an analysis of the energy in the throne room for Kong, which they simply needed to scan and upload the data. To even get there, they needed state of the art experimental crafts and they had to fly through a gravity well that looked like they went through hyperspace, and yet they could still make phone calls and send data to the surface. OK.
The Godzilla franchise is no stranger to campy levels of science fiction, but these films had the pretense of being taken more seriously. Guess they can drop that now.
Truthfully, the whole point is just to get these two giants of classic monster cinema to duke it out with each other and you had already made up your mind whether you were going to love it or hate it as soon as that first trailer dropped.
So there you have it. If you are a fan, there’s so much to enjoy about this gorgeous looking and entertaining spectacle. If you don’t like any of the tropes from Godzilla films, there’s nothing new for you here. For being available at the same time as the theatrical release however, it’s hard to argue that this is not worth a watch. Who knows, maybe this could be the one that finally sucks you in.
Overall rating: B+
You can find John on Twitter as @Magic Bollocks and hear him on
‘The Geeks’ Watch’ and ‘VHS Gems’ right here on this network
Review by: Josue Aguayo
Everyone deserves a group that has similar interests, care for you, and respects you.
Growing up is hard. Discovering yourself may take years, even after you think you’ve “grown up.” Adults want to be, and deserve to be acknowledged. Everyone deserves a group that has similar interests, care for you, and respects you. Adults constantly struggle with this, especially when having to learn the ever-evolving social standards of the world. We read about heroes dealing with out-of-this-world nuclear weapons and deities, but sometimes “real-world struggles” comics are not just “good guy gets the bad guy”.
C.J. Anderson’s ‘Beckoning of Aetherius’ is not about guys but two teen friends, “Sienna” and “Metheena”, who are realizing self-discovery isn’t a straight line.
Anderson’s comic opens with the teen friends having an emotional public argument, trying to convince each other that there is credence in their opinions, advice, and call outs of one another. Anderson, writes an argument, that depending on what character you gravitate towards, has you agreeing with them but the next panel questioning their opinion, and vice versa. After the argument ends you feel that no one is meant to win and society today is expecting a certain social standard, that society today is not fully sure about or able to keep.
Although you’ve just met the two characters, Sienna & Metheena, Anderson’s art carefully helps depict the surge of their emotions in different forms. The art goes hand in hand to the story, every page is thought out to follow their argument and individual emotions. The shift in art styles make you visually feel like you’ve known their friendship as long as they have and slight caricatures in particular panels drive their emotions in.
Anderson has definitely started to unfold a comic story that sheds light on today’s youth having to figure themselves out while learning social constructs. Can anyone really tell you who are “good” friends? What age do we not look at criticism and concern as hate? If they know their slightly both in the wrong, can they come to admission and apologize? Just asking for a friend. Occasionally, sometimes teen problems are just any age problems.
Follow Josue Aguayo on Twitter (@JosueReadsJosue) and listen to him on We Have Issues
By Stephen Clark
Having to wait for more of the violent chaos jazz they’ve captured here is going to be hard.
Ultramega never stops being a powerhouse of a comic.
It’s a thicker book and it deserves to be. Writer/artist James Harren attributes the length to this being his first time as the writer on a book and not being able to adhere to the 20 page issue format. However, this longer issue is one perfect portion of story. The reader is thrown into the plot in the same way that “Jason”, our main character, is thrown in. He is suddenly imbued with the ability to become an “Ultramega”, the grimiest version of “Ultraman”, to fight against the kaiju who attack the city. In just a few panels, we’re given Jason’s background, the story of the other two Ultramegas and how they’ve all dealt with the responsibility and danger that being an Ultramega presents.
Things aren’t as cut and dry as some big monster stories can be. Often, the kaiju are an invading alien force of floppy-suited baddies like Baltan or Rita’s monsters. Here, the humans of the city will suddenly mutate into kaiju, apparently because of their proximity to the UItramegas. The responsibility of protecting the city, killing kaiju who were formerly humans and the physical and emotional scars of those battles have worn down the Ultramegas. They’ve protected the humans for years at this point, when a new and greater threat emerges, requiring them to throw everything they have at it.
James Harren and colorist Dave Stewart work together to make an already interesting and heavy story burst from panel to panel like the meanest and goriest Kool-Aid man. The action and dialogue push you forward but you want to stop and appreciate the tiny details of the world, the textures of the city and learn everything you can about the future city it is set in. But there is no time for that, at least not on the first read.
I soared along with the high points and crawled through the mud in the lows, enjoying every second of it. I went back to read it again immediately afterwards and found myself reaching for it again today, in a time where I have a “to be read” pile of comics. Some comics are comics because they’re just not yet the movies they’re hoping to become. This? This is a comic that I genuinely don’t know how you would ever do justice to in a series or film, live action or even animated.
The closest experience I can compare this first issue to is how I felt at the end of the prologue to ‘The Last of Us’. It was a complete narrative thrill ride that excited me, gave me a whole new world and made me feel something alongside the characters in it. For ‘The Last of Us’, I decided I was good with that one great moment and never played the rest of the game. With Ultramega, Harren and Stewart delivered that same flawless crescendo but with a tease at something more that’s impossible to call “enough” and put down. Having to wait for more of the violent chaos jazz they’ve captured here is going to be hard.
The next issue comes out on April 21st and you should absolutely pick up that, as well as the first issue,#1 here.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter (@PeppermintGent) or check out his website peppermintgentleman.com
By Jacob F-C
We’re only three months into 2021 and things are still kinda bad, aren’t they? It’s great to know we all have things in our lives that dull the existential horror of the day-to-day grind though, right? Movies, books, getting packages in the mail, etc. These things work as a balm for the soul, making these passing days at least somewhat less bleak. For me, that balm is music. Always has been, but especially so this past and current year. I work in the music industry and was laid off almost a year ago, today. This month marks the anniversary of when I worked my last show (Murder by Death) as my state was getting it’s first handful of COVID-19 cases. It was a trip, but that’s a whole other article. I deeply miss shows, and you probably do too! Here’s hoping they come back this Fall.
“I still definitely spiraled, but at least the soundtrack was fire”-Jacob F-C
Anyways, being laid-off, I had a whole bunch of time on my hands. I could’ve death spiraled into my anxieties and depression, but I decided to just really dive into music to try to avoid that whole deal. I still definitely spiraled, but at least the soundtrack was fire. This year will be a lot of the same, and I’m terrible at segues, so let’s just jump in and talk about some new-ish music that’s been pulling me through! Maybe these albums are doing the same for you? Maybe you’ll find a new fave? Or maybe nobody reads this, and this is just another outlet for me to forget about the ongoing nightmare and totally sink time into. I don’t know.
The first album to come out this year that totally floored me was Arizona’s Gatecreeper with ‘An Unexpected Reality’. It’s an album about, well, 2020. It’s got riffs, it’s got slammers, it’s heavy as all hell. It’s also super quick: 8 tracks, coming in just under 18 minutes. Really great for back-to-back listens. It’s also great at just being really direct with its message. Each track’s title basically says it all. “Sick of Being Sober,” “Superspreader,” these tracks really let you know where these dudes are at, mentally – where we’re all at mentally. Gatecreeper continue to put out great albums and this one is them at their best, blending Grindcore with Death Metal, sounding like they’re exploding out of your speakers. I highly suggest this album if you’re into this sort of music. You’ve probably already listened to it. Good on ya’.
This next album has been on heavy rotation since it came out late last year. Since releasing it last October, this artist has blown up and I hope he keeps receiving the recognition he deserves. This album is called ‘Live Forever’ and it’s by D.C.’s Bartees Strange. This album has something for everyone, and I mean that in the most encompassing sense possible. It blends so many genres (Indie Rock into Post-Hardcore into Country Twang into Trap into some City and Colour singer-songwriter type stuff) that the transitions from track to track can give a listener whiplash in the best way. I don’t think there’s been this exciting of a record since, I don’t know, (insert the first album you ever lost your mind over). Instant classic for me. If there was one record to come out last year that I would suggest everyone on this green-for-now earth listen to, it would be this one.
Moving back into the Heavy Music category: This next album, I was excited to listen to because I knew it was going to be a challenging listen. ‘I’ve Seen All I Need To See’ by The Body, it is the band’s most harrowing listen, in a discography full of them. These guys are great at doing whatever they want, making it sound like planets crashing into each other, and also a very bad time. They made “the grossest pop album of all time” with 2016’s ‘No One Deserves Happiness’, and they reference Virginia Woolf’s suicide letter in the title of 2018’s ‘I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer’. It’s very clear this band wants to challenge you, and I weirdly kind of love that sort of thing. It’s partially why I was attracted to Heavy Music in the first place.
“This album demands you revel in the bad times “-Jacob F-C
Let me be absolutely clear here, this album is not bad. It’s an incredible album that perfectly executes its mood and overall target feeling: Total Desperation. This album demands you revel in the bad times. It’s also the first album in a while that The Body have returned to the traditional guitar/drums set-up, and they show all the way up on every track. This album is not for everyone, and that’s okay. If you like soul crushing, brutally heavy music, you should definitely check it out.
To close this first quick piece out, let’s talk about ‘Catalogue Of Unabashed Gratitude’ by Ross Gay. It’s a single for the upcoming album “Dilate Your Heart”, a collaborative album between Ross Gay and various Jagjaguwar artists. On this track, Bon Iver does some incredibly soothing ambient dronescapes while poet Ross Gay reads his piece. It’s incredible. I don’t want to oversell this or anything but I have not been so awestricken by a piece of poetry since I read Ginsberg’s “Howl” for the first time. It’s overwhelmingly hopeful in spite of all of the bad things happening in the world. It is rather a direct response to them. It’s about gratitude, but also much more than that. Poetry is cool, I don’t care what anybody says. A lot of it is totally awful, yeah, but when it’s good it’ll make you cry. This track does just that.
Well, if you made it through to the end, thank you. There will be more coming, hopefully! And gang, keep washing your hands, wear a damn mask, write a book, kill God, buy a pizza franchise and burn it down, or don’t. Most of all though, take care of yourself.