Hello and welcome to my website. Here you will find all the different ways that I talk about comics, pop-culture, and comic related endeavors.
My name is Ryan, though I have used my nom de plume "Brightest Daycare" since September 2011. It was a rather random, and somewhat humorous tweet that set this whole thing in motion:
After that moment, I took some time to congratulate myself on such a well-crafted pun, but then decided that I liked the name as it stood, so I would use it! I took to the most reputable source for anyone who wants to be taken seriously on the internet: Tumblr.
It would be a while before I got much traction via Tumblr (or it will STILL be a while), but I was able to scratch out a bit of a following for myself there, along with getting some people interested in my Brightest Daycare Twitter account. I then took things a step further and branched out into some other venues with my username, chief among them being the ComicVine forums. That was where things picked up a bit more for me, I was writing in to the Q&A section of their weekly podcast, and was getting comments from the hosts on my username, and because of that, another reviewer/blogger reached out to me, and that is how I met the Weird Science DC Comics Blog guys. We became friends (in the Internet sense) quickly, and they even had me on an early episode of their podcast - so early, in fact, that it wasn't even on iTunes or Stitcher yet. They then asked me to do a weekly segment for them, and so my brief affair with podcasting turned into a regular gig - The Other Side was born!
From there, it was only a matter of time before I would strike out on my own and make my Brightest Daycare podcast a reality - long just a dream I had, something I would often talk about but never follow through with until now.
Thankfully throughout all this I have had the unwavering support of my wife, Colleen, who is responsible for the design of this website, my logos, and pretty much every artistic aspect of my social media presence. She has been a major factor in all the creative things that I do, not to mention she is mostly responsible (or to blame, depending on your position) for my reignited passion for comics.
If the above is the prologue, the following is my origin story...
I have been a fan of comics, and comic book characters in pop culture for my entire life. I started as a young child watching re-runs of the Batman '66 series and listening to Green Hornet radio serials with my uncle (a man who was also responsible for my longtime passion in the collection and playing of Warhammer 40,000 and the hundreds of pounds of paperback books they published that now sit in storage). These were the building blocks for my comic book fandom, but it would obviously not stop there. Soon after, I started to watch the Batman Animated series from Warner Brothers, and it changed the course of things for me and countless others. Add to this the X-Men animated series, and the stage was set for the conflict that I have struggled with from the beginning of time: DC vs. Marvel. I try and stay bipartisan, but it is difficult - both sides have certain creators, or delegates, that will catch my eye and get me, ever so slightly, to lean one way or the other from one week to the next.
From those first comic-inspired television series, it took some time for me to branch out into comics directly. I had read comic books at friends' houses, and my older cousins had comics I would only get to read after they were bored to death by them. But I do remember some of the first comic books I ever owned. It would take me a couple of years to get into collecting and reading comics (bear in mind, when X-Men and Batman premiered on TV, I was only 7), but by 1995, I would have built myself up a tidy little stack of books, all of which I still own to this day:
Some of the first comics I ever owned that were mine and nobody else's first, were several Savage Dragon comics. I don't know what it was about the series, besides the obvious: giant green man with lizard fin-mohawk fights crime as a member of the Chicago P.D. (I am a central Illinois resident, and my dad's side of the family is from, and still lives in, the Chicago suburbs). I remember getting the issue of the Savage Dragon miniseries #2, the one with Superpatriot on the cover, and I fell in love. It had all the aspects about it that formed a soft spot for creators like Rob Liefeld that continues to this day for me. It had a hyper-cartoonish style chocked full of violence and oversexed female characters - perfect for a prepubescent chubby kid like myself...
The other Savage Dragon comic that I distinctly remembered owning from that time was the special one-shot "Savage Dragon vs. The Savage Megaton Man". Another shining example of great 90's comic books - this book paired the Savage Dragon, a character I was still getting to know, with the completely unknown Megaton Man! But this fact mattered little to me - I loved the book, regardless of whether or not I actually knew anything about it. This comic resonated with me so much that I even took it upon myself to re-create the entire story from memory (complete with glowing, neon green barrels of radioactive waste...) in the fourth grade for an in-class journal project. I don't know whatever happened to the Megaton Man, but I bet if he came back into print, there would be another flood of 90's nostalgia... from me anyway.
Shamans Tears #1 (another Image comic): I distinctly remember getting this comic with my step-dad at a Holiday Inn baseball card trade show in my hometown of Bloomington, Illinois (probably early that next year after its release). It had a gorgeous black and red embossed and foil cover, and it just LOOKED awesome. It was in a glass case, probably next to Ken Griffey, Jr. and Frank Thomas hologram cards, and I just HAD to have it, obviously. I don't know how much my dad paid for it, but I'm sure whatever it cost, it was worth it so I would be silent long enough for him to haggle over the price of some sealed boxes of Fleer Ultra baseball cards. I wouldn't actually know until I got home and read it, that it featured a scene where the main character confronts a nude woman bathing under a waterfall. She then leaps up and punches him in the mouth before swan-diving down into the water... 'nuff said.
In early 1995, I remember being with my mother and grandmother shopping at Schnucks, a local grocery store, and flipping through the spinner rack of comics in the back of the store by the magazine racks. I found a comic that I KNEW my mother would never let me have, but I'm sure my sweet, lovable and nearly blind old Granny would just LOVE to buy for me. That comic was Spawn #28, and the cover features a dark image of the Hellspawn (I most CERTAINLY didn't tell ANYONE that was what his name really was...) crushing some thugs arm into a bloody fountain, while SOMEHOW smashing his face with a most gruesome curbstomp. To this day, I honestly don't know how that comic book came home with me that day. I. WAS. NINE!!!!
After I had gotten ahold of a few comics that were collectively tossed into a giant cardboard box with my Goosebumps books, and a slew of oh-so-90's styled over-sized infographic picture books (designed to educate!), I slowed down in my reading of comics. I was approaching puberty, and girls didn't like boys who read comics (and in my case, girls didn't like boys who are anything like teenage me - so now I wish I had just stuck with the comics...) so I distanced myself from the artform. But I couldn't resist the appeal forever. I was again dragged to a hotel conference room trading card show, and again I spotted a rare gem of a comic book "under glass" - Green Goblin #1 (a "collector's edition") that I, of course, just HAD to have. I got the comic because I am sure I wouldn't shut up about it until I did, and again, it is another comic book that I still have the original copy of in my collection today.
From there, my interaction with comic books was very minimal- I would still play comic book video games, and watch comic book television shows, but throughout my teen years I put comics on the back burner in favor of music, baggy jeans, and trying to fit in playing football. I got into playing video games, and even spent a TON of time and money on Magic: The Gathering, to try and fill the void... but eventually, after much time had past, I finally outgrew pretending that I didn't love comics, and I came back to them.
I remember seeing web ads for DC's Blackest Night early in 2009, and that was when I thought about getting back into comics. This was also around the time that my obsession with Adult Swim's "Metalocalypse" animated series was in full-swing, and there was a Dark Horse comic that paired the band with Eric Powell's Goon. I hadn't read any of The Goon at this point, but it had Dethklok in it, that was all I needed to know. However, this time around, I wasn't reading comics all by myself - I had convinced my younger brother (who would have been twenty years old to my twenty-four) to read the series with me, and we would venture out to the local comic shops and pick up the issues together. From there, it was a pretty slow burn, until the following year when I met Colleen, the woman who would become my wife and mother of my child.
From there, things got crazy in a hurry - when I met my wife, my comic collection was in a shabby state. The comics I owned were mostly unprotected, without bags, boards or any sort of protection and support AND they were stacked up one on top on the other in a ridiculous tower hidden on a shelf in a bookcase in my bedroom. Shortly after I revealed this shameful mess to her, I began to remedy this sad situation and sort them properly (it wasn't long before I bought my first short box, which would be FAR from my last). As gifts that first year as a couple, she gave me a few of the Blackest Night standalone miniseries - JLA, Wonder Woman. My wife is an artist, and has always appreciated my comic books, at the very least, for their art. From there, having started to collect the ancillary Blackest Night issues I already owned, I then took it upon myself to collect them ALL. Which was a ridiculous undertaking, to say the least. I also attempted to get Colleen interested in reading comic books, so I tried to play to her "nerdier" side by getting her interested in a more artistic title, and one that had a character that she enjoyed the most: Batman, Inc. Colleen and I bonded over our love for Batman '66, and for the Burton films. But quite a lot came from our attachment to Nolan's Batman films (at the time, there had been only two) and for Colleen's affinity for Christian Bale - her favorite actor. For better or worse, she didn't stick to the monthly comic book reading habit that I picked up, but she has read many of the books I have suggested to her. Unfortunately, her "to read" pile is still 100x taller than our toddler...
So, from there I continued to build my collection, hitting my local shop on Wednesdays, picking up comics online wherever I could, and even started attending conventions (another part of my life that seems like such a natural fit for me - but one that I hadn't even begun to explore until Colleen bought us tickets to Wizard World Chicago). I kept reading, and as I read, I found myself having more thoughts and opinions on every issue or volume. I finally decided (after that moment where a throwaway joke on social media turned into this thing) to start putting down in writing what I thought about a given story and let it take flight out into the World Wide Web. So I started up a free blog page on Tumblr, and my wife created a logo for my site and Twitter using an old picture of me from the Halloween when I was two and dressed as Superman. Thus began this whole ball rolling in earnest.
I had been writing reviews for about a year, when a Tumblr page I had become friendly with approached me about taking part in a new podcast they were starting. At this time, I had already begun hosting a monthly comic book discussion group at my local shop, which had a lot of promise but seemed to be ending in the near future (a story for another time) so I was looking for another outlet for my musings. After my first session with those guys, they offered me a recurring segment on their podcast. They are an all DC Comics blog/podcast, so I was bringing them a weekly segment discussing a book from one of the many non-DC publishers out there. I did this for about four months, each week recording my segment and punching it up, sending it off, and having my creative outlet through someone else's show - when I finally decided, after all that time, to try my hand at a podcast of my own and see if it would work! As of this moment I have recorded four weekly episodes, with a fifth episode to be recorded soon - and my first interview segment/book club episode will air then as well...PROGRESS!
This whole thing, the life of this Brightest Daycare, has been quite a wild thing - and one that I don't seriously think could have ever happened entirely on my own. There are a lot of people out there who have helped me along on this journey, from my wife, to the Weird Science DC Comics guys, creators like Michael Avon Oeming, Mark Kidwell, Gail Simone and Brian J.L. Glass who have taken the time (all of like 30 seconds, probably) to RT, reply and reblog my reviews of their work. Not to mention the number of times the guys from the ComicVine.com podcast have brought up the Brightest Daycare name when I wrote in. More than once Corey even said that mine was his favorite username on the whole site. But it has been a lot of fun to do all of this - to engage my creativity in such fun and interesting way over the course of the life of Brightest Daycare, and I am having WAY too much fun to stop now!