This is a difficult column to start. What can I write about the year that was 2020 that hasn’t already been echoed by everyone across social media for the last twelve months or so? I’ll get into my own personal hell that 2020 has been for me after the important stuff… Comics and Action Figures.
Book Of The Year
Mr. Butterchips – A Collection of Cantankerous Commentary
Alex Schumacher (W/A)
In going through the BBP! archive to review my initial thoughts on this book, I was surprised to see that I covered it WAY BACK in August of this year and not October like I had thought. Perhaps it’s because my thoughts on the book are so closely tied to the November election or, more likely, the old 2020 chestnut of “time having no meaning anymore.”
The Heroes & Villains Book Of The Year award sadly comes with no cash prize, no plaque or certificate and can only be bestowed by a person who has less than 100 Twitter followers (111 on Instagram). I’m sure it will look good on a resume or second printing of a book…just as long as no one looks too closely into the award. I’d offer Mr. Schumacher a firm handshake but even that is nigh-impossible this year.
Why Mr. Butterchips? The book stuck with me and it’s something I’ve thought about often since reading it. I get sent a shitload of PDFs for review of books that are often great but it’s rare I’ll order a physical copy for myself and this book is one I intend on purchasing. Reading the book was a funny but grisly postmortem on what the last four years have looked like in the United States. I wrote previously that I didn’t need convincing on how I was going to vote in the 2020 election and that this book strengthened my resolve…but having a refresher course on every shitty thing that’s happened since 2016 really threw into sharp relief just how awful things are.
Back in January 2016 someone’s attempt at blue sky thinking was “think of all the good punk music that this will generate!”or some such nonsense. I’m not a particular fan of the punk genre or even an aficionado of it, MGMT (not punk) put out the spectacular Little Dark Age in 2018 which was a direct response to everything going on at the time (give it a listen). Mr. Butterchips is important to me because it was more of real time chronicling of how we were all collectively screaming towards rock-bottom over the last four years. It was a great piece of art in response to the worst of times.
Yes, this is a book about a drunk monkey.
Toy Of The Year
Avengers: Endgame S.H.Figuarts Captain America (Final Battle Edition)
I’m blurring the lines between this column and my Figure Friday column but that’s how it has to be right now. Somehow, I managed to get a LOT of toys this year which I blame on being in lockdown and the relative ease of smashing a preorder button on a website.
As you may have guessed this figure depicts Cap as he appeared in the Final Battle of Avengers: Endgame completed with broken shield and Mjolnir. The wealth of accessories are what really put this figure on the next level, my personal favorite being the lightning effects that snap on to Mjolnir that make it appear Cap is calling down the lightning or leveling a blast a Thanos (sold separately).
Cap took up a place or prominence on my shelf this year, hoisting the hammer of Thor high above his head, looking like a screen-grab from the movie, and otherwise serving as a reminder that the tide was soon to be turning.
This year has been extremely difficult for me. “Yeah, no shit…it has for ALL of us” I can hear you mutter, and you’re not wrong. I’m not going to attempt to out-misery anyone else or ruminate too long on how bleak my year has been. We’ve all suffered, and if you’re reading this you’ve made it this far.
January started me off on the back foot and I had a couple of days that I was unable to get out of bed. I don’t like getting too far into discussing my depression, mostly because I’ve attached a stigma to it that people will believe I’m faking and so on and so forth. It’s probably because I think there are people out there with real problems and that me being a little bit sad all the time pales in comparison.
February seemed better, I got to go to C2E2 with my pal and cover it for this site. I was traveling and doing stuff and it was awesome. Hell, I was even going to try and weasel my way into other comic cons this year, not knowing that I had just attended the LAST comic con of the year. COVID-19 was still on its way but it wasn’t going to be that bad right? It doesn’t matter that the US had completely gutted it pandemic response team in order to fund the wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for.
I was home from C2E2 for about a week before a case was confirmed at my office and I went full-time Work From Home. After that I didn’t shave or cut my hair for something like 5 months. My toilet paper was starting to run out right around that time too. Luckily, I have a friend that works for a warehouse store who was able to secure me some. Somewhere in there I rewatched the entire run of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In June my father broke his neck when he passed out in their bathroom at home. After three Emergency Room visits he got a brand spanking new pacemaker in July, just in time for my birthday. Last year, he commemorated my 40th birthday by having a heart attack. Not one to be left out, my mother had her hip replaced in July.
The year has been relentless.
I attended a couple of open air, socially distant, small gatherings with friends over the summer and immediately felt guilty after doing so. There was also a tele-medicine call to my doctor to get my anti-anxiety medication refilled that cost me $90 since my insurance doesn’t cover that sort of thing. Each subsequent day was the same as the day before that and nothing felt the way it should.
Way back at the end of March, I was texting with a friend who told me they were coming to grips with 2020 basically being a “lost year” and sure as shit they were right. At that point we were both optimistic that this thing would hopefully taper out by late summer. How wrong we were… I don’t begrudge anyone I know for anything they’ve done or haven’t done this year. We’re all just trying to get by.
To date, I’ve published well over 200 pieces for BBP! and since I’m a sucker for those kind of milestone things I was going to call out the milestone post. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, I was just trying to write about comics in a year when there were almost NO comics for months and months. However, I did find out that I have a writing “style” this year which was a nice surprise. I also learned that I do not do well with praise.
So, here we are on the verge of 2021…If you think that things are magically going to change in January, they won’t. Things will continue to be varying levels of bad and awful until they gradually (hopefully) get better. Personally, I’ll be making some changes as well.
For starters, I’m not quitting Biff Bam Pop! but I am taking some time away. I’ll be back at it in February, the shortest and coldest month of the year, but I need a break. I love the work too much to quit doing whatever it is I do here and I think I inadvertently shaved a few years of Andy Burns’ life when he misunderstood my request for time away as a resignation. (Editor’s Note: It’s true.)
There’s still going to be a wealth of comics coverage here on the site with Andy’s contributions and Mac’s weekly “Read This Book” column so I’m confident I’m leaving that in their more than capable hands. I don’t have enough space left to list the each and everyone of the other contributors to the site and their work that you should be checking out, everything I do here is done in the hopes that it will be half as good as what I’m reading from them.
I’ll be back before you know it.