The Dinglehopper

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Interview with a Cipher

The Dinglehopper has apparently managed a little bit of notoriety for our enthusiasm about Paper Girls. We were contacted a couple weeks ago by Reed Beebe from Nothing But Comics, who interviewed us about unraveling the cipher and creating our decoder.

Paper Girls Time Traveler's Language Key

You can check out “DECIPHERING THE ALIEN TEXT IN PAPER GIRLS” here. Along with our responses, Reed talks about his own unique approach to solving the cipher. We were tickled when he let us know the interview had been mentioned on Comic Book Resources.

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Thanksgiving Week Holiday

Due to a family trip to the National Council for Teachers of English Fall Convention and the upcoming holiday, Michael and I have decided to take the week off to get our knickers sorted.


However, we won’t leave you entirely empty handed. We give you this quickly-becoming-infamous Lip Sync Battle which Erin calls “Feminist Shows Anti-Feminist What Feminism Is.” Anthony Mackie, who when asked if he is a feminist responded, “That’s a very strange concept to me, and I don’t think I know enough about it to answer that question,” had his hinney handed to him by Joseph “I do call myself a feminist. Absolutely!” Gordon-Levitt. See for yourself.

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‘Rat Queens’ #13: Mage U is Candy-Coated with a Danger-Filled Center

RatQueens_13-coverRat Queens #13
Written by Kurtis J Wiebe
Art by Tess Fowler
Cover by Stjepan Šejic
Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Ed Brisson
Published by Image Comics

The “Demons” arc, of which this is part three, has been literally and figuratively exploring the demons tormenting the Rat Queens. The literal demons tear at their flesh. The metaphorical demons of the past tear at their minds and hearts. In part three, Hannah and Dee are reunited with loved ones while Violet and Betty’s R&R time lacks relaxation.

At the end of issue #12, the Rat Queens were nearly frozen in the middle of a wizard-induced snow storm, having just escaped a pack of Hell shades. Well, no worries. A deus ex machina in the form of Polle rescued them and brought them the rest of the way to candy-colored Mage University. The issue mostly offers the Queens a reprieve while also giving them new paths to conflict.

For the rest of the review, jump to PopOptiq.


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‘Jem and the Holograms’ #9 Develops Character Dynamics Through Costumes

Jem9coverJem and the Holograms #9

Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Emma Vieceli
Colors by M. Victoria Robado
Letters by Shawn Lee
Published by IDW Publishing on November 18, 2015

Kelly Thompson cracks a joke in the opening pages that illuminates the divide of her audience. Techrat asks Pizzazz why he is dressed like a shower and what that has to do with the skeleton costumes she and the Misfits have on. He saw “that movie” and there wasn’t a shower costume or skeletons. Pizzazz responds, “Ohmigod. Shuttup. You clearly saw the remake. Lame.” I expect Jem’s readership divides similarly: those who immediately swooned in recognition of Daniel LaRusso’s shower and Cobra Kai’s skeleton costumes from the original Karate Kid, and those who maybe saw the remake with Jaden Smith because they weren’t alive in 1984 (too bad for them). Thompson has a fabulous sense of humor concerning the nostalgia of the 80’s, and there’s nowhere better to show that off than a Halloween party at Benton House.


Halloween parties in fiction allow the normal constraints of character to be flexed through costuming. By donning a costume, a character can show a different side of themselves, their inner turmoil, or even accentuate their role in the narrative more clearly. All of that occurs in Thompson’s hands.

To read the rest of the review, hop on over to PopOptiq!



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Audiobook Review: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) written and read by Felicia Day

You're Never Weird on the Internet

When Felicia Day was a girl, all she wanted was to connect with other kids (desperately). Growing up in the Deep South, where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons,” she looked online to find her tribe. The internet was in its infancy and she became an early adopter at every stage of its growth—finding joy and unlikely friendships in the emerging digital world. Her relative isolation meant that she could pursue passions like gaming, calculus, and 1930’s detective novels without shame. Because she had no idea how “uncool” she really was.

But if it hadn’t been for her strange background— the awkwardness continued when she started college at sixteen, with Mom driving her to campus every day—she might never have had the naive confidence to forge her own path. Like when she graduated as valedictorian with a math degree and then headed to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting despite having zero contacts. Or when she tired of being typecast as the crazy cat-lady secretary and decided to create her own web series before people in show business understood that online video could be more than just cats chasing laser pointers.

Felicia’s rags-to-riches rise to internet fame launched her career as one of the most influen­tial creators in new media. Ever candid, she opens up about the rough patches along the way, recounting battles with writer’s block, a full-blown gaming addiction, severe anxiety and depression—and how she reinvented herself when overachieving became overwhelming.

It’s been more than year since I read or listened to a memoir. I think I can still count all the memoirs I’ve ever read on one hand. I guess it’s not really my genre. Most lives don’t have the metatextual intricacy or the teenagers and lazers I usually go for. Oddly enough, Felicia Day’s kind of does.

And that’s not even why I chose the audiobook. Like the last memoir I took in, I’d heard plenty of good things about it and it was read by the author. I think the latter’s pretty important. A dissociated narrator reading someone else’s autobiographical material makes me go Twilight Zone.

But it was really because of World of Warcraft. Yes, we’d seen Felicia Day in Buffy and then Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but I never went out of my way to read about the lives of any of the principals.  It was “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar” playing while we waited for a raid to start. It was watching The Guild on off nights.

So I expected some stuff about childhood and some stuff about Geek and Sundry and I was hoping for a little bit about that moment where our lives intersected someone else’s, however briefly and tenuously. What I got was a surprisingly relatable story about a child prodigy that was part Real Genius and part every nerd everywhere. It was entertaining before WoW entered the picture.

When it did, I learned that Codex, portrayed in The Guild as a priest, was actually a warlock. I’ll just say that made things personal. Suddenly the whole narrative made so much more sense.

Day strips her rise to celebrity down to the bones, showing how it’s dirty and odd and difficult. And then all of the sudden it’s not. And even now it’s sort of specific and even kind of weird. Except on the internet.

It’s an empowering story. And an entertaining one. Encountering it at my age I can pass on whatever wisdom it has to offer to others. But I’d definitely hand it out to teenagers and college students if that wouldn’t be creepy and expensive.

Recommended for fans of Bossypants, Terry Gilliam, and Malefic Raiment.

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Cell By Cell: ‘Bitch Planet’ #5 (Part 5)


Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer), Valentine De Landro (artist), Image Comics

In Cell by Cell, I look deeply into the panels of an issue, appreciating and analyzing the story and artistic composition.

Pages 11-12 Overview

The scrimmage between the NC team and the guards begins and sees its first score. An injury on the field creates a different score to be settled.

Like with the previous pages depicting the team, these are given the two-page spread to emphasize the space of setting and give room for the many bodies in panels. De Landro creates a symmetrical mirroring of left and right on the double-page to emphasize the two sides of the game, the reactive antagonism within the story, as well as spotlight the Liu twins.


Cells 1 & 2 stretch the entire width of the two pages, establishing the space of the arena which appears to be a modified exercise yard and then the pre-game posturing of the two teams. An announcer tells us who they are: “The A.C.O. Naughty N.C.s versus the A.C.O. Grappling Guards.” The guards have their arms up in postures of bravado. This practice bout is for “education and entertainment.” The entertainment part is clear, but who is being educated and in what way is ambiguous. Certainly the NC team is still learning how to be better players, but they’re also about to learn (again) that the rules made and enforced by others will always be used (sometimes quite flexibly) against them.

For the rest of the analysis, click through to PopOptiq.

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Audiobook Review – 11/22/63: A Novel

11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King read by Craig Wasson

11 22 63 cover

Dallas, 11/22/63: Three shots ring out.

President John F. Kennedy is dead.

Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke… Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

I’ve read enough Stephen King books to be called a fan. I mean, I keep going back so that has to mean something. But it’s more like I just somehow keep intersecting his catalog at some point in every decade or something. I read three or four books in one, began The Dark Tower series in another, waited like everybody else for those to start up again, and now I’m poking around his newer stuff.

I chose this one because, well, come on: it’s a fantastic premise. Going back in time to prevent some event is a genre staple. The Kennedy assassination is almost holy for my parents’ generation. They’re made for one another.

But it’s not the idea itself that makes a book. It’s the execution. Right from the start you understand that this isn’t some grand adventure taken on by an organized conspiracy. It’s not The Terminator. It’s solidly grounded in the lives of two men, one of whom may have been wearing away the fabric of spacetime and the other practically conscripted into a role that’s difficult for him to refuse.

It’s a personal story, full of personal struggle and intimate detail. It’s written almost as a memoir. However, as in many the later King books I’ve read, there’s an element of ritual, of oral storytelling, to it as well. The repetition of phrases framing the repetition of patterns forming a reverberation chamber for meaning.

It’s especially fun in 11/22/63 because the protagonist is an English teacher. Having a genre savvy hero looking for meaning and recognizing the patterns and ostensibly writing about it could be heavy handed, I suppose. But here it allows the rich detail and intense research to create a believable world populated by authentic characters to transport the reader through time.

The audio is solid. The volume is such that the book can be listened to without headphones in an environment with moderate noise pollution. Craig Wasson makes you feel the frustrations, determination, and occasional joy of Jake Epping as he grapples with the past, the future, and the desire for justice. I’m almost afraid to listen to him read anything else, lest it diminish the folksy atmosphere of 11/22/63.

If you’re familiar with The Dark Tower and the shared universe of King’s books, you’ll note several nods. But of course they’re more than simply that. This is part of that story, too. The actions taken here are complicit in the world moving on. You don’t need to know this. Might miss it anyway. But implication is wonderful.

11/22/63 is a great entry in the annals of time travel fiction. It maintains tension throughout what is essentially a five year waiting game. And it keeps the stakes both grand, the fate of the world, and personal, integrity and righteousness,

Recommended for fans of “The Skull”, Twelve Monkeys, and Hamlet.


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