Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Down With Homework

I first read this issue of MAD through a reprint as a kid. I really dig the subversive cover as it was designed, as the blurb says, to be snuck into class. I imagine lots of youngsters carried this around and were successful in not getting it confiscated by fascist teachers. In the 50's it was fake comic covers, in the 70's it was fake coca cola covers for beer cans. Or so I heard.

This issue of MAD #20 from 1955 has a couple of classic stories in it, the first one by Wally Wood is a favorite of mine. I also put these pages on Flickr as a photo set. Check it out if you want.

Sound Effects!: By Wally Wood. Great short feature lampooning the cliches of the crime noir genre. While in comic form it is more about the era of radio. An entire story told in sound F/X. Marvel should have done that instead of 'Nuff Said a few years ago.

Paul Revere's Ride: Based on the famous poem by Longfellow. Stories like this were probably carefully calculated and included only to keep the howling of Congress, Werthem and uptight parents at bay. In the 50's the comic and fluoridated water industries were under heavy attack by self-appointed morality-police morons trying to tighten the reins of power and crush free thought. It was just a bit harder to rail against comics or movies when they featured some respected culture...like Fantasia and the WB cartoons did with toons that included opera and classical music.

Cowboy!: This is a great expose of how a stereotype is depicted in film and for this story, of television in particular. The story has a great layout. The TV version (note the black and white panels) of cowboy runs parallel to the 'real life' cowboy, telling the same story. Of course, most real world stories end up a little different than what is shown on television and they diverge quickly. This should be mandatory reading for any teen-ager of today, followed by a book report explaining how this relates to the Real World vs Their Unrealistic Fantasies Of Being Wealthy Ravers Who Hack Computers And Drive Cool Cars.

The house ad & letters page are also good, and you can find these pages here.

Comic's first interracial kiss?

As far as I can tell this is the first interracial kiss in mainstream comics, not counting interstellar aliens or magazines. There were probably other examples but I haven't seen any, and they may be one-sided or the kind where people are forced to do it against their will a la Star Trek's Capt. Kirk and Lt. Uhura.

I'd have to say that this embrace between Daniel (Iron Fist) Rand and Misty (Bionic Woman) Knight counts as the first.

Misty & Danny have been snuggling off-panel in his book for a few years, but the relationship was down-played until Chris Claremont and John Byrne wrapped up a story from IF's canceled magazine in a 2-issue tale in Marvel Team-Up #63 & #64 (v1, 1977). Any regular reader of the Iron Fist title knew what was going on between them but it wasn't until MTU #65 that we got the payoff. The relationship was also little creepy in a Hal & Arisa/Kitty & Collossus way since going by his story history Danny was about 17 when he and a much older Misty hooked up.

But there is more!

What? What did he say?

That's what I thought he said. I miss 1970's comic book activism.

I've looked but I can't find the letter's page that had a negative response about their relationship in it. Iron Fist was all over the place in Marvel around that time and I may have missed where the letter ended up being printed.

Well, in the place of that disappointing missive here's that kiss again!

Can't stop progress, dude.

DC made me feel stupid

Even though I was in California I still kept waiting for that comic book van to show up in my neighborhood. I thought they were a national idea, but I found out much later they only drove around crappy areas in New York. So I was stuck with getting my comics from the 7-11, and the jerk at the place wouldn't hold my favorites when they came in.

It took me a while to find out why Johnny Storm did his hair like Ricky Nelson in that one issue of Fantastic Four and I only found out by making friends with a kid I normally would have avoided who had that issue.

Monday, August 29, 2005


...will I buy Combat Zone True Tales of GIs in Iraq. If I had a comic shop I would not carry it. If I ran an animal-bukkake themed porno store I'd be embarrassed if this somehow made it to a display stand. Marvel should have left this embarrasing POS shelved.

God bless their dirty, heathen souls.
Thank you Lord, for allowing America to spread freedom to these foreigners...

How freaking patronizing can you get?

I'm suprised I didn't see Sean Hannity in the preview pages waving his new book around while standing under a flag and Martina McBride belts a tune in the background.

You want propaganda? Here's some propaganda! And it's Jack Kirby drawn propaganda from MonsterBlog, which is the good kind of propaganda.

And here's some more from this issue of Treasure Chest of Fun & Facts #17 endorsed by J. Edgar Hoover! This Godless Communism

Notice how 'thinking' and 'praying' are exclusive!

If you are going to publish some propaganda for the mouth-breathers, DO IT RIGHT!

I really shouldn't post when angry...

Roy Thomas made me feel stupid

Fantstic Four #157 (v1, April 1975)

Like all the other kids who bought this issue I had to scramble to find a dictionary that actually had the word Zugzwang in it so I could find out what the hell it meant. To my dissapointment it only sounds dirty, and means something else entirely.

I wish you happiness, always

I'm not a girl, so maybe because of that I don't get the ads, but I'm going to have to file the new Always sales campaign demanding women Have A Happy Period under bad advertising.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Theodore Sturgeon was a prolific science fiction author who wrote many classic SF tales. One of them, More Than Human, should be mandatory reading for anyone thinking of writing an X-book.

Famously, there is also Sturgeon's Revelation: "Ninety percent of everything is crud."

But Killdozer isn't one of those things. The short story Killdozer 1st appeared in Astounding Science Fiction back in 1944. In the tale a WW II crew building an airstrip on a Pacific island fight their possessed bulldozer.

The very idea is a concept that hit popular cosciousness and it spawned a really bad tv movie with Robert Urich (somebody please tell me how a huge bulldozer could sneak up on people), a rock band and even a Marvel comic! Killdozer was also the name some media wits gave the modified bulldozer used in a sad 2004 feud between a business owner and the mayor and city council of some town.

Here's all the Killdozer I could find...

Don't wake the baby...or he'll zap you

If you weren't careful, Jesus would send you to the cornfield.
Jeeeeeezuz Christ!

Good thing none of that crap is real.

via Delenda Est Carthago

Chicks with guns

Spicy-Adventure Stories, August 1937

The guys that ran the European-Sino-Japanese wars definitely had the right idea of how to go about a conflict. I'd re-enlist today if I thought I'd be fighting along side really gorgeous, nearly-nude babes firing machine-guns.

You can tell she's a Spicy-Adventure heroine who don't take any crap. Her clothes are dramatically torn to shreds while GI Joe next to her looks like he just got his uniform out of the cleaners.

The Spicy magazine titles, of which there were several, usually depicted a woman in some state of undress beyond what was normally appeared on the cover art of other pulp magazines. From late 1935 through late 1937, most issues appeared in two different versions. One uncensored and the other self-censored. The censored version was identifiable by a star within a box located at the top of the cover. The story is that many of these type of pulps were sold behind from behind the counter and were not openly displayed. Apparently a few years before, thousands of pulps were seized and destroyed as obscene by a crazed minority of busy-bodies forcing their false Victorian-era double-standards of morality on the majority.

A majority who, by the way, were free to work, pay mortgages & bills, raise families and send those family members off to a foreign war but can't be trusted to read a book with a risque cover.

Much like today...

The Spicy (name changed later to Speed) line:
  • Spicy-Adventure
  • Spicy-Detective
  • Spicy-Mystery
  • Spicy-Western

Does Bruce know you raided his wardrobe?

Batman isn't the only one who wore stupid gimmick costumes.

Superboy #16, 1951

In Suicide Squad #58 (v1, 1991), Black Adam counseled a group of villains & heroes to change into their costumes, even though many were reluctant to do so. He even argued with John Henry who felt he didn't need one because, "Ah know who I am".

This was back during a period in the 90's when there was a lot of discussion as to why costumes were needed. My impression was that creators andreaders were embarrassed by the idea of super-heroes and comics in general. This is really only embarrassment by association. I blame the awful work that appeared in comics of the late 80's & early 90's for those attitudes. Everything had to be real, grim and dark. There just wasn't any place for brightly colored goodguys. This trend in comics even holds over in today's recent titles. For example it can be seen in the writings of Bruce Jones on Hulk, Bendis on Daredevil and for the TV, Smallville's 'no costumes' rule. The brightly-costumed adventurer is downplayed and not always just for characterization. It's as if the creators do not trust themselves to do it for fear of appearing silly.

Trust Ostrander and Yale to have one of the only characters with any real depth in the DCU to spell it all out for all the fellow creators and disillusioned readers.

The symbol is a power in and of itself.

Now it may be a stretch of logic to think Golden & Silver Age creators had this idea in mind when they invented things like the Rainbow Batman and Superman Red & Superman Blue, but it would be nice to think so. In those stories the iconic image was the more important idea. The character was secondary to what he represented.

Icons have a certain cache and comics forgot about that for a while.

Lawbreakers Always Lose

Lawbreakers Always Lose! #1
Timely (Atlas-Marvel), 1948

I don't know who the subject of FBI # 4075591 is but I'm really interested in her story. What a neat article it would make. Was she a real wanted person or a model? Was she caught? What did she do? It would have been cool if some Junior G-Man reading this comic identified her and got her busted. I sent an email off to the FBI asking about the case but so far the only response I have received is myterious clicks on my phone.

If she's been on the run all these years she probably thinks she's safe now and may have dropped her guard. I'm going to hunt her fugitive butt down...I could use the 100 bucks.

Justice never sleeps.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Comic Book PSA: Racist Fan Letter in Tomb of Dracula #17

This post contains material that is derogatory in nature to a specific ethnic group. Because of the offensive nature of the letter I have decided not to post it here. The letter content is described below and a link is provided so it can be examined as a historical cultural artifact for purposes including discussion and education.

A while ago I was re-reading some of my old comic books and came across this unfortunate letter submitted by a reader and printed in the great Marvel comic book Tomb of Dracula #17, from February of 1973. The letter has a negative reference using a racial epithet to an appearance by Blade, the Vampire Killer from issue #12. Some
may recognize Blade as the comic-to-film character worth millions in the box office for a trilogy of horror adventure films.

I don't know who Sam is but I didn't like him in 1973 and I don't think I'd like him any better today. If there was a Nobel Prize for Ignorance awarded in 1973, then Sam was a shoe-in. I was glad to see that in 1973 the letter was printed without censoring, even though it is offensive. One of the ways such ignorance as displayed by the submitter will change is through education. The Editor may have wanted to teach a lesson in humanity to the person who submitted it and to any others that would read it. Something similar was also printed once in reaction to one of the first inter-racial kisses in comics, that of Misty Knight and Daniel (Iron Fist) Rand, also from the 70's.

In 1973 the letter was published with the intent of education via humiliation of the author. Unfortunately I doubt that sarcasm and humiliation would have had an effect on the author of the hate-letter and the Editors response may have been too subtle for the author. I give c
ongrats to Marvel for having the strength to print the letter, but I wish the company had just come right out and said "Your viewpoint in regards to race is wrong. Very rarely has any person on earth been as wrong as you."

I'd hate to think that Sam has been in a position where his views, not evolved, could negatively affect the lives of others. I worry that he was a home loan manager or government employee.

How successful have comics been in bringing about social or cultural change? Some fans will be familiar with the 'Seduction of the Innocent' controversy, in which the negative effects of comics on children was proposed. According to Congress and others, American youth was ready to turn the keys to the country over to Russia because of comic books.

I can remember the impact various story arcs had. Books like the Green Lantern/Green Arrow 'Relevancy' issues, the Spider-Man/Harry Osborne addiction sub-plot and the Anti-drug and Anti-Apartheid issues of the Teen Titans had some effect on me and others. I can attest that
in Pre-internet days the books prompted conversations concerning issues beyond the usual talk in regards to the quality of the writer and art.

For my generation it was the "Relevancy" issue of Green Lantern/Green Arrow and the Spider-Man drug-use and race riot issues. I'm not proposing that a comic book caused an epiphany in mine or the public consciousness . I did not wake up and realize I was enlightened and that I was previously a fool about many things. No, that did not happen. What GL/GA did was aid in supporting and reinforcing right beliefs such as human rights and equality, much as my parents and peers did to a greater extent.

Remember, when that letter was written the divide between ethnic groups was wider than it is today, and the civil rights movement was still very fresh and alive.
In that era the inevitable reality that all people are created equal was still attempting to make headway in parts of the United States.

In 1973 Sam's
statement was probably accepted as fact by his peers and a good portion of the country. Today it is considered an ignorant, archaic statement. I take it as a positive sign of the social growth of America that there are people I have met who confess to never having heard the derogatory term Sam used in his letter. There are others who say they don't know what the term means. That is all the proof I need to be convinced we have evolved culturally.

The comic books of the 1970s were very much a product of their times. Though comics are at times progressive,
I can imagine that there may have been careful consideration by Marvel to include in a title a major character as a hero that was not Caucasian (Much like the inclusion of a middle-eastern character in a comic or show would be cautiously approached today).

Usually comic companies just
had no idea how to portray people of other races in a manner outside of the stereotype that they believed would gain a market share. There is an obvious parallel to the advertising and hype of today. Watch a Sprite 'obey your thirst' commercial and think about that.

I doubt that a similar expression as Sam's from someone would be tolerated or printed without censorship today. The letter probably would not be printed and the comment would be quickly deleted from most internet forums. While I am an opponent of censorship, I think that other than in the interests of education it should not be included in most venues simply because there are more appropriate places for it to be discussed. Outside most forums the need not to insult or hurt others would probably outweigh the need to have the information available for debate.

Comics are not as overtly activist today as they were in the past. For the most part, propaganda and agendas are not forced at the reader in ham-handed ways, stories don't end with a company's official political statement, the final panel in the tale is not the moral lesson summary, the Man-Thing is not smashing refineries and disgruntled ex-employees are not turning their inventions against the company that "wronged" them. That was mainly an artifact of the 70s and 80s.

If nothing else, the many message-filled comics of past and present may have stimulated an original thought or two, a discussion somewhere and perhaps some maturity.
Every little bit helped then, I believe.

Shame on you, Sam.


Me vs. Communist Russia

Walking around an airplane in a publicly released photo from some article

Yep, that's me kicking Russia's pinko ass back in 1983. No stinking commies had even the slightest chance of succesfully invading the southwest, not with me on the job!

'War on Terror', my shiny black boots! Back then we had a real mission:
1) Defeat Ivan
2) Thump anti-nuke protesters
3) Train for a South American conflict in the 'War on Drugs' even though we were issued desert-environment gear and training was skewed to working in that same environment. Hmmm...
None of this terror nonsense back in the Days of Reagan, I tell you. I got yer 'terror' right here! It was a tough, demanding job but we won. Good times, good times.

Yes, I do deserve your thanks...

Groin Injury Saturday: The Flash

Just look at that backwards boot right into the Flash's crotch. To make it worse poor Barry was moving at speed. It must have been quite the shock to be going from 800 mph to stopping in a nano-second as he jammed his 21st digit right into the sharp edge of a bootheel. Flash's expression is one of agony so intense, that having been struck by lightning back in the day must have felt like a hot oil massage from a team of randy cheerleaders on ecstasy in comparison.

This scene doesn't take place in this issue of The Flash #235, which is really too bad because Vandal Savage totally beat on three A-List heroes on the cover. In the interior story, most of the fights take place in a dream sequence and Savage behaves like a gentleman through out it all. That's not what I want from an immortal caveman. I expect him to behave like a Neanderthal, or at least a Cro-magnon. But alas, it really wasn't until he went up against the Wally West speedster that Savage let out his inner-caveman, in a restaurant no less.

In this story Vandal Savage realizes his meteor-given longevity is failing and can only be recharged by a combination of speed-vibrations and emerald power. This is mid-70's Cary Bates at his...uh...best.

Yet like the Neal Adams covers that appeared years before the exterior was better than the interior. This issue is notable only for setting up continuing the initial story that Barry (Flash) Allen's wife was actually from the distant future. Stupid idea, but it did let us have Impulse later on.


World War II was full of patriotic propaganda films for American (and presumably foreign) consumption. Korea and Vietnam era...not so much. Not surprising since people forgot all about Korea even while it was happening and the bad-side of Vietnam was all over the place thanks to those damn dirty hippies.

What the Iraq war is missing is a real joyous film full of song and dance numbers. I've had enough of those flicks espousing 'honor and duty'. I want to see a movie with dancing WACS in tight uniforms promising that all of God's children will have shoes.

Too many oogy images from the front? Have Hillary Duff and Joan Rivers do a zany duet. Hmmm...better make sure they do it with a country accent or it'll be considered a cynical ploy that panders to the feeble-minded.

I bet everyone could get behind the middle east conflict if we just set it to a snappy tune!

Like this one!

George C Scott's speech from 'Patton'
Sung to the tune of 'Pimpin' All Over The World', Ludacris Featuring Bobby Valentino

Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

Men, all this stuff you've heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.

When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn't give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.

Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don't know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating.

Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. By God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards. We're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.

-Repeat Chorus-
If you say to yourself "Those words don't fit that song" then you are not trying hard enough and are probably not a very good American and must hate freedom.

It's box office gold I tells ya!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Somebody get me an Advil

I really hope that DC updates the appearance of this new OMAC...just looking at that independently floating bugged-out eye gives me a headache.

Really Strange Visitor

If you ever needed proof that Superboy is from another planet, check out this page from Superboy #197. It's pre-CoIE of course from 1973, which is still the only good Superboy.

Clark (Superboy) Kent is hanging out with the hottest girl in the midwest, Lana Lang. She puts the moves on him and he gets nervous and sweaty, uncomfortable with the idea of lip-locking with a human. If Clark was interested in human females, what with him being an alien is unlikely, he apparently isn't ready in a physiological sense and may mature at a different rate than humans. I imagine that for Clark, making out with a female probably holds the same sort of appeal that french-kissing a starfish would have for a normal human male. He only looks human, folks.

Regardless, if Clark was human enough to be interested in her the tryst is interupted by an emergency signal from his belt-buckle! How's that for subtext? Now that Clark had an excuse to refuse Lana, he responds to her sexual advances by knocking her unconscious! A really 'caveman' thing to do for the Boy of Tomorrow.

The emergency signal is from the Legion of Super-Heroes of the 30th Century and I think Clark is just using them as an excuse to avoid the situation with Lana. He's grasping like a drowning man at a life-preserver as he ducks reality. He's trying to fit in and feel normal, but it just isn't working. Superboy truly is a strange visitor from another planet and he's having trouble accepting that. It's too bad he had to mistreat his pet human to maintain the illusion that is his life.

Around Superboy #150 the stories matured, growing away from the 'innocent' silliness of the Silver Age as the market changed. I have no doubt that the writers put in lots of subtext that they could not get away with prior to the late 60's and early 70's and this was reflected in the story content.

The truth was that Clark could spend months exploring what it means to be human with Lana and then take a trip into the future to deal with the crisis. He could arrive to help with a crisis at any moment he chose because it's comic book time travel!

"Hi, Lightning Lad! What's the emergency?"
"Uhh...Hello, Superboy. I was just about to signal you..."
"I know! Isn't time travel neat?"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Olive-Drab

A few people I know have complained that in Hulk: Destruction, the Abomination is being depicted in a darker, less emerald color than in previous appearances. To me the obvious reason for that has to be purely artistic.

The art just isn't that good. I found the art an incoherent mess in issue #1 and I haven't changed my opinion with #2. Someone else may think so also, since #2 has two pencillers and three inkers in the credits. So the color difference is not only for dramatic purposes but it helps the reader tell the Hulk and Bommy apart when in a clench.

But I have a geek-answer for the color change! I found that answer in the novel Hulk: Cry of the Beast (Marvel Novel #3, written by Richard S. Meyers, 1979).

In that excellent novel, Banner theorizes that the Hulk is green partly because the monster's skin cells symbiotically hosts Chloroplasts, mitochondria-like organelles that convert light to energy but usually only exist in plant life. The organelles, altered by gamma radiation, also aid in fueling the Hulk's biological system. It's a neat idea and helps to explain 'why green?'. Being a creature spawned in a similar desert environment (geographically) as Banner, the Abomination would share some physiological characteristics.

Being locked away under lights that do not readily support plant-life and only contributes to brain clouds has caused the chloroplasts in the Abominations' surface cells to die out. He'll turn back to regular color once he gets out and about a little more, and the gamma-altered chloroplasts will help with a boost in the strength department.


By the way, If you can find them, the Marvel Novel series of the late 70's were good reads and I recommend:

Mayhem in Manhattan (#1, Spider-Man)
Stalker From the Stars (#2, Hulk...this is a good one!)
Cry of the Beast (#3, Hulk)
And Call My Killer...MODOK! (#6, Iron Man)

Stalker From the Stars has a great pulpy, pre-FF Marvel Monster era feel to it. Cry of the Beast features some kick-ass Shield Agents and nose-picking. The Iron Man novel has a great concept in it I wish comics would use more often. As a contingency plan Ultron hypnotizes people to rebuild him after each destruction. The nifty concept is that the hypnosis doesn't turn people into stiff, momotone mouth-breathers as it is often depicted in comics. Instead, the mind-control just alters personality of the victim enough that they don't see anything wrong with helping out Ultron.

By the way, I am officially ignoring the retcons to both the Abominations's origin and the two wives named Nadia. Is this really written by PAD or did he make a few extra bucks by selling the rights to his name for this mini-series? Cripes, guys.


A hot blonde wearing spandex walks into the room and the only people that take notice are the cousin and the gay guy. Flash is too busy cheating at cards for the babes, but it's possible that Kara is in on the card scam and she has a deal with Barry to split the winnings.

Admittedly she is a good distraction but there has to be something seriously wrong with your brain if you can squeeze diamonds out of coal and you bother to grift a few bucks from the Superfriends. It's like some weird super-remake of House of Games only starring Joe Mantegna and Brittany Spears.

Where are they? Obviously, they are not in the JLA satellite. They are using a crappy card table and I don't think the satellite has pull shades. Must be some no-tell motel that caters to the sex-freaks of the super-hero community. I bet they do great cash register.

Confounding Science Fiction, July 1952

Lots of pulp and SF magazine covers make no sense.

Astounding Science Fiction
July 1952

Edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.

Cover art by Pawelka

The Emissary (Jim Brown)
Stardust (Chad Oliver)

Short Stories:
All the Way Back (Michael Shaara)
I Am Nothing (Eric Frank Russell)
Gramp and His Dog (Frank Quattrocchi)

Science Article:
Comets (Willy Ley)

Legion of Super-Dumbasses

Members of the Legion of Super-Heroes use their bare hands to try to close a rift in space that leads to a anti-matter universe. You can probably guess what happens next. The Legion doesn't need the Time Trapper to kill them when they can do such a good job on their own.

From Superboy and the LSH #223, 1977

What He Said

In her journeys my friend Marionette found this Life Magazine article and sent it along to me. In her message she asked "What is up with ladies and skulls?" The question was rhetorical but I'm going to answer it anyways...sex and death. When the difference between eating that week and dying was how accurate you could throw a pointy stick, the images of fertility and death were very potent icons. I'm not going to go into the cultural history of these particular icons, smarter people than I have written books on the subject. I'm kind of upset about the content of the photo and what it means.

The text on this image reads as "Arizona war worker writes her Navy boyfriend a thank you note for the skull he sent her"

This photo is from Life Magazine May 22, 1944. The accompanying caption reads:
“When he said goodbye two years ago to Natalie Nickerson, 20, a war worker of Phoenix, Ariz., a big, handsome Navy lieutenant promised her a Jap. Last week Natalie received a human skull, autographed by her lieutenant and 13 friends, and inscribed: '‘This is a good Jap, –a dead one picked up on the New Guinea beach,'’ Natalie, surprised at the gift, named it Tojo. The armed forces disapprove strongly of this sort of thing.”
I'm ever so glad the military disapproves of dismembering the war-dead to get a souvenir for your sweetie.

I hope this was an relatively isolated incident and not something that happened all the time as a cottage industry. But having the skull autographed by the entire squad leads me feeling everyone may have had the same idea at once. Out of the thousands of soldiers in the Pacific Theater, so far I know of thirteen who were assholeoids. When I was in the service we called that the '8% Rule', as there is always at least a few idjits to every crowd. Unfortunate, since it has been shown that the actions of a few can ruin the image of an entire institution. Marines trading sex for secrets comes to mind...

I can't help but think this was propaganda aimed directly at those with their simple-minded patriotic fanaticism firmly wedded to their room temperature-equivalent IQ. Much like the Hannity demographic. I bet they ate it up and shouted YEAH!

One of the ideas that I grew up on was that when the United States went to war, it was because they had to, and did so reluctantly. I also believed that America did not fight dirty. They fought by certain rules. America acted in a way that made them better than those we labeled as the enemy. When I was in the service, we certainly acted that way...we were under orders to do so.

I really hope Natalie did not marry this ass-clown.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Blogaround Entries

My Blogaround entries...
I found a few I never saw before, but everyone else has covered them a hundred times already and I think the idea was find something new. But I think there are two in my list no one else referenced yet. I'm going to add them to my links list tomorrow.

Today I made an image button for the sidebar that takes you to the Pastafarian site. I saw someone use it on BoingBoing, snaggd the pic and looked up what the "code" for an image button was. It didn't make any sense to me so I substituted letters for others until it worked. Now I'm spent. I have no idea how to write html or what it means when I do find a resource for it. I'd like to make changes to the template but when I look at the "code" I don't get it yet. Am I teh haxxors yet? Pretty funny considering I used to maintain the websites at my last two jobs.

I'd like to thank those who noticed I had a blog and commented on it. Thanks.

The Absorbascon: I love this blog. He likes Golden Age Starman. Someday there will be a real JLA: Detroit movie and the Wachowski Bros. will have to pay him millions in royalties.

Dance of the Puppets: The person I know as Marionette has a good comic blog. Her critiques and reviews of Wonder Woman from Golden Age on are always carefully researched and insightful. Her comments are like the blazing Sword of Truth. I read her stuff daily, even though dolls and puppets have scared me ever since that damn Twilight Zone episode with Telly Savalas.

Cyphering: aka Superfrankenstein's Girlfriend. Until the Blogaround I didn't check it out. She's pretty good. I like Superfrankenstein because he used something stupid I sent him once.

The Sudden Curve: This is an ensemble blog that covers books, film, movies and etc. If you like the classic and new Sci Fi and Horror, this is a good place for reviews. I'm real interested in this.

Comic Book PSA: BEM the BMOC

This PSA stars three distinct personalities trying to impress a girl at a dance, kind of like Herman's Head for comic books. The Characters go by the names of Brains, Emotion & Muscle, or B.E.M. In science fiction the term B.E.M. stands for Bug-Eyed Monster. Fitting, since the separate personalities have to be assimilated into one into one mind much like the Borg to be able to act in a social situation.

So when the three fractured psyches are violently merged, the result is a big old Aryan God? I want to know what happened to the genetic donation of the short, dark-haired kid with glasses. Did his genes become annihilated by the power that is Thor, saving only his smart, juicy brain?

I don't know what the message of this PSA is. Is it inferring you will fail at life by being yourself? Is it promoting a well-rounded, healthy personality? Is it suggesting to be a phony, and be all things to all people?

from Superboy #138, 1967

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dream's End

As a kid I read everything I could get my hands on. Mostly I read Science Fiction and Horror. Thanks to the SF/Fantasy boom in the 70's there was plenty of reading material available. What I did not notice right away was that many of the books I read were not new novels, but were collections or adaptations of stories published or serialized years before in various pulp magazines, with some stories going back to the 1930's. Once I knew this I looked for pulp magazines for my collection.

In the 70's and 80's Downtown San Diego was a pretty good source for used book stores and crazy homeless people. I'd spend every other Saturday looking through the former while dodging the attention of the latter. Pulp magazines were relatively inexpensive when you could find them and I could get a copy for $2-3 each. The same book today is $35 dollars and more.

Here's the first pulp I ever bought...

Unlike many of the books, the cover story was pretty good. Human minds transplanted into giant war machines...can't beat that. Not a new idea even back when this was first published (Frankenstein, anyone?) but it was well done.

A few years ago I discovered the cover to the December 1935 Wonder Stories, featuring the short story Dream's End. This is just an amazing cover and is a fan favorite of many for the surreal aspect of a ship floating above the city. It is in my top 10 favorite pulp covers and I just recently purchased a copy of my own. I don't know how I missed this for so long but I had never before seen it in either anthology books or during my searches, which was amazing because it is a great Frank R. Paul image. Paul was a prolific pulp artist for decades. FYI for the comic fanatics: he also did the art to the cover of Marvel Comics #1, featuring the Human Torch.

cover art and interior illustration by Frank R. Paul

Dream's End is a short story written by Arthur Connell. In it the world is breaking down, gravity changes, people and things vanish and strange things occur with increasing frequency. Soon, it is realized that the universe is a dream, and the dreamer is slowly waking up, causing the end of creation.

That story is basically an update on the old Zen tale of the Monk & the Butterfly, retold with a modern Science Fiction theme. My review of this story is that the cover art and interior illustration is far superior to the story itself. Oddly enough, this story has been referenced several times in various articles and papers, however briefly. The earliest reference I found to the story was in academia. In several instances it appears to have been mentioned without any first-hand knowledge of the subject matter. The phrasing of the early academic statement pops up later and leads me to believe that any subsequent mention was used only because it is was an obscure and interesting reference.

I believe I can safely speculate that such treasures would have stayed lost or unknown by the general public forever were it not for the proliferation of affordable scanners and inexpensive high-speed internet. Previously only scholars or hard core collectors were familiar with all the great work in the pulps. There are many thousands of examples of pulp art and published collections can't possibly present it all.

I would also say that the preservation of the rapidly decaying pulps, by the hobbyist-scanner and professional, has led in part to their increasing value and higher sales. Exposure of the product is never a bad thing from a business standpoint. When the images are archived by fans and made available on seller websites they must surely generate interest and sales. I know they did in my case. As I was made aware of an interesting book I was often inspired to track the original down for my collection.

For those interested in reading Dream's End, you can read it at this Flickr link.