Do you find selfies that contain only yourself the most awkward things in the world?
Which maybe explains why I've been writing Atoll Comics three times a week for more than 2 years without actually introducing myself.
I have always found the performative aspects of social media super uncomfortable. I mean, I'm a guy who has to psyche himself up to ask sales clerks for assistance or becomes hopelessly tongue tied when my attempts at polite banter with, say, a barista don't go as scripted. This isn't to say I'm completely useless as a human; I love talking about Science in front of large numbers of judgemental strangers and I teach a lab class in biochemistry. Which is reflective of the fact that I am much more comfortable interacting within the context of a professional exchange than a social one. Which is all a long way of saying that I find it easier to keep this website focused on the comics side of things than the personal.
I'm also kind of a believer that criticism shouldn't be about the critic. Too often, I think, comics critics, write things that are more about themselves or their particular tastes than the comics they are working off of. This can be really great when its done with some thought and some self-awareness, but frequently I find that the actual comic that is being reviewed gets lost. And comics are great! Critics really ought to be able to write about them using the source material. So in the spirit of trying to be as invisible as possible I've tried to not emphasize myself.
But this is all kind of malarky! Any art criticism, unless its written by the creators of the media in question, is really just opinion and emotional reaction. As much as I might try to rely on the source material, everything I write is ultimately just some thing some amateur dude has written, and as such it is irrevocably stamped with my perspective, knowledge, and feelings. So it's bullshit to pretend I'm an unbiased, inactive participant. I mean, I have written some deeply, terrifyingly personal things on this website... so yeah.
Uh, hi, I'm Mike.
(Yes, I did make that t shirt)
Here's a better picture of me taken at the top of the volcano astronauts go to when they want to pretend to be on Mars.
So a bit about me. I like comic books, and have been reading them regularly for seven years now? Since the around the end of Marvel's Civil War. I tend to read mostly North American genre comics; more Marvel than DC and as much creator owned, superhero-adjacent comics as I can afford (think Image-like). I find literary comics interesting and I dabble in them sometimes. I would love to read more European comics but find getting English-translations weirdly difficult and I am super intimidated by Manga, mostly because there is SO MUCH of it. I am by no means an expert in any form, format, or genre of comics, but I like some of everything and enjoy trying to talk about comics with strangers on the internet. Welcome to my nonsense!
I am also a big fan of reading novels. I spend 2-3 hours a day commuting on a metro train and bus so I get a lot of reading done. I mostly read Science Fiction, but will occasionally enjoy a Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller, or more Literary Fiction book. As long as I am being entertained or interested I do not discriminate. This also shows up on the blog sometimes and may be expanded in the future.
I'm Canadian and from Vancouver. It's very nice. You should visit.
In my day job I'm a Scientist. Or more accurately, a PhD student working towards a doctorate in the Life Sciences. I work on Heart Science and specifically how heart cells use contraction signalling for other things too, like how they couple the work they do pumping blood to the production of energy to pay for the work. It's pretty cool stuff and I have published papers and everything.
Believe it or not, Atoll Comics started as a way to practice academic-ish writing for work.
Six months ago I married the best human. This is a fact that makes me happy every day. (The above photo is taken from behind to preserve my spouse's internet privacy and because she finds social media perplexing and distasteful. She is very wise.)
Some other things. I have a tiny dog. His name is Marls and he is ridiculous. (His photo is displayed because he is a little dog and therefore lacks an opinion on social media.) I love hockey for reasons of culture and hometown pride (go Canucks!). I play recreational soccer for health and fun and because jogging is devil-walking. I watch almost exclusively sports on television because it's entertaining and because, unlike critically acclaimed scripted TV (which my wife loves), sports doesn't require continuity or watching the 59 episodes saved on my PVR to enjoy. Most of Atoll Comics is written with some form of sports happening on a screen nearby. Shocking. I have an amateur's enthusiasm for photography which is kind of the new marriage-team hobby. I love cooking, especially new and challenging dishes, and think going to restaurants is just about the best thing in life. I am also balding in the weirdest way.
My name is Michael Bround, and I write Atoll Comics.
So there you have it, a real introduction so you have some idea of the person and biases behind the criticism on the blog.
I am also doing this because there are changes afoot for Atoll Comics. In the coming weeks and months there will be posts by other authors on the site. I'll get into this more later, but the general idea is that I am probably one of the biggest limiting factors of the website: my reading tastes, my perspective, and my time. The solution to all of this is to include other writers. And so you'll start to see posts introducing new bloggers followed by actual posts by other people here. I am really excited, there are some great, smart, articulate comics people who have agreed to write some stuff here.
It also means that you'll start seeing this:
Post by Michael Bround.