Friday, September 30, 2005

Gallery of my rejected header pics

I've been wanting to put a photo in the blog header for a while now because I like how it looks in some others, but none of the pics I could find really did it for me. Here's the photos I was considering using for the header until I found that great b/w one about a Paris museum display.

Some desk-top statue, but I liked it for the pulpy Howard theme.

I don't know where this is from, but...lady & skull.

I liked the optical illusion gag, but seemed too gothy for me.

This is kinda nifty art, but felt like it would be on a site selling henna tattoo supplies and crystals to college girls.

I dig this because of my nick, but I found a great Sleestak pic to use as my avatar so decided against it.

I thought about using this because it is annoying. But it was too annoying for me to look at every day.

Didn't even consider this, because it would be too weird.

It's a Land of the Lost comic, but it isn't associated with the Sid & Marty TV show. Additionally, the critter on the cover looks too much like Jar Jar so I rejected it.

Seriously considered the 'curling iron lodged in rectum' X-rays. I'll use them later this week in something else, though.

I really like this but the museum photo trumped it.

Kind of liked this for the bizarreness, but don't feel like giving them free advertising every day. Not that the 1 people that read my goofiness once a month would spike their quarterly earnings report any. I feel the same about t-shirts with logos. If I'm wearing a shirt that has a product logo on it then i got it for free. No way will I wear anything that advertises soemthing if I have to pay for it. That's the geatest scam ever!

"These kids'll pay $21.95 for a t-shirt with our cigarette/spark-plug/rock-band/ill-conceived comic relief character on it? a million of them. SUCKERS!"

I've got a pretty good one I considered but it's a real photo of me and I'm saving that for a free-association bitterness blog I'm building.

What I went with...


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Superman needs a spell-check

- from Action Comics #222 (nov. 1956)

Apparently, Superman-X misspoke. I don't think he actually meant to use the word 'idol'. Maybe he's just being super-polite and is using a euphemism.

I also really hope that the dil idol isn’t radiating all those heat-lines from something unpleasant like super-friction.


It's in the trees! It's coming!

About. Damn. Time.

Kate Bush will break more than a decade of silence by releasing a new single, followed by her first album for 12 years. Bush will make up for lost time by unveiling a double album, Aerial, on November 7.

Hey, looks like Kate's costume was designed by a comic book artist!


Grocery Store Artifact: The eyyyye of the tigerrrrrrrrr

That's right!

Found on a box at a grocery store.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

So...whatcha doing?

Pro-Communist propoganda from Russia.
- translated as What Are You Doing For The Plan?

Anti-Communist propoganda from America.

Let's count the similarities:

  1. Responsible, average citizen stereotype
  2. Hard-working guy
  3. Sleeves rolled up
  4. Blue-collar working clothes
  5. Concerned about stuff
Dance, my puppets...Dance!

The difference between the American and Marxist ideologies being, of course, that the American can help or not by his own choice.

If the commie refuses to aid the plan he would be forced to load the guns that will be used to execute him, his family and neighbors with the very bullets he himself manufactured in the Glorious United People's Factory #12.

Good thing all that nonsense is in the past and we all know better now.


Ditko does Don Adams

Here's some Steve Ditko character study art of Agent 86 of Control.

I'm posting it in memory of Don Adams, who died yesterday at the age of 82. Adams will forever be remembered by me as secret agent Maxwell Smart of the spy-spoof television show of the 60's, Get Smart. My parents hated the show, but I loved it, and let's all forget the movie, ok?

Well forget most of the film...there was a nifty scene in it where the agents are being pursued in their car so the drive into a prepared safe-trailer. Inside the trailer a spray removes the top-most coat of paint in a few seconds to reveal another, different paint job, When the agents' car emerges, the bad guys are looking for a different colored vehicle, allowing easy escape.

I remember commenting back then if the CIA didn't have something like that paint system already in operation, they would soon (from junk-science pork contracts if nothing else, like the Predator invisibility suit).

I also watched the syndicated Don Adams' Screen Test as a way to burn some time on a Sunday afternoon.

Oh, you know what always bugged me? That idiot who did the shoe-phone 'joke' on that Sports Illustrated subscription commercial years ago and screwed up the gag-line.

He also voiced Inspector gadget (ugh) and one of my childhood favorites, Tennessee Tuxedo, the grifter penguin.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Beating a dead horse

I really like clicking through the Grand Comic Book Database and perusing the comic book covers of the past. The Golden Age covers are fun but I mostly enjoy checking out the Silver Age stuff.

Most of the GA & SA covers are pretty cool for reasons of nostalgia, but to me it is due mostly for iconic content and not the (in some opinions) dated art. The exceptions of course would be the classic Neal Adams covers for DC.

Every now and then you come across a cover that was not typical of the era. By that I mean the toned or wash covers, which were that much more difficult and expensive back in the pre-digital days of publishing. Extravagantly rendered cover art is par for the course today, but not so much in the Silver Age. Since the Golden Age featured some beautifully drawn, painted or toned art much of the time (pulp & comic artists could whip out several a week for an editor), it had to be expediency and expense that 'cartooned up' the monthlies and made them more simplistic.

For instance, this cover from Detective Comics #239 (Jan 1957), that requires the inevitable word-balloon manipulation...

This great example is from Green Lantern #8 (Sept-Oct 1961).

A striking contrast to the sketchiness of the interior art.

Here's a letter from Green Lantern #10 explaining how they did it.


Jimmy Olsen needs counselling

In Superman #123 (August of 1958), about a year before the real Supergirl first showed up in Action Comics #252 (May 1959), Otto Binder and Dick Sprang brought us the proto-type Girl of Steel.

This proto-type Super-Girl was brought about by Jimmy Olsen who wished her into existence by magic after being granted 3 wishes by a talking stick.

Yes, she was created by rubbing a night...while wishing for a girl..just like Superman.


From the look Super-Girl is giving Jimmy I'd guess she knows all his secret fantasies. Nothing wrong with fantasies...I've got a great one starring Hayley Mills that continually runs in my brain like a picture-in-picture feature on a TV, but Jimmy has issues. Oh yeah, Jimmy is totally in love with the super-guy.

This Super-Girl is so efficient that she keeps getting in the way of Superman and creates as many problems as she solves. Apparently, Superman is incapable of doing this like looking where he is going or dialing down the power of his super-breath. So, since she is getting real annoying Super-Girl opts for self-destruction and returns to nothingness.

Superman must have learned his lesson about this because in the following year when Kara arrives he places her in an orphanage. Keeping this new Supergirl a secret from the world until she is trained in the use of her powers is a way better option than having her tearfully choose suicide.

Jimmy's second wish has to do with Superman catching criminals, and is boring. So I'll skip it.

For his third and final wish Jimmy wishes for Superman to meet his parents. In a telling Freudian slip, Jimmy accidentally writes the wish as 'mate his parents'. Superman is whisked away into the past where he assists with the romance of Jor-El and Lara. Jimmy has serious, scary issues.

After a pretty dull adventure where Jor-El saves Krypton from a mad scientist by posing as a traitor, the family-to-be says their farewells on an asteroid.

Yuck. At least Superman isn't kissing her with his eyes closed. That would be too creepy.

This issue also highlights one of the differences between the Golden and Silver Age heroes. In the Golden Age the heroes routinely killed off their adversaries. In the Silver Age it was more common for the hero to set up the bad guy, knowing they could cause their own deaths. But that was acceptable to the heroes of the time, because if they were not evil at heart they wouldn't fall for the trap and die.

The Super-Girl as a concept must have been a hit with DC because the next time she appeared it would be for semi-keeps.

I don't like like the new mall-rat maybe-evil Supergirl. My nostalgia filter and hesitation to like Loeb's writing probably has a lot to do with it. I did like the Linda Danvers/Matrix Supergirl, though. I think it will probably be a few years before the character is fleshed out enough to be more interesting. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what happens with the character.


Catwoman: Where is this from?

I'd swear that this drawing of Catwoman is based on actress Kelly LeBrock and that I've seen this somewhere else as a photo.


Warlord question

Dorian's post about the Warlord over at postmodernbarney led me to once again wonder about something that has always gone unanswered about Mike Grell's awesome creation.

Is that white tuft at the top of the belt part of the codpiece or is it the all-natural part of Travis Morgan showing?

from (but not directly linked to)

It's been bugging me for the last 20-plus years and I'd like an answer.

Yet it's not like I could ask Grell if the curtains match the carpet in the Morgan household, I mean, it's the WARLORD!

Mike Grell is almost as deity-like as Hayley Mills and I'd be too embarrassed to ask him about it. He drew the defintive and hottest Princess Projectra back in the day and deserves my respect. I mean, Mike Grell helped me become a man.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Famous Firsts: X-Men vs Superboy

Well, since the site Something Awful kicked my ass way back in 2003 I think I'll post a Famous First Expose myself.

I was an incredible X-Fan back in the day, and like almost everyone else was a drooling Marvel zombie when it came to the X-Men, Claremont and Byrne. It's fashionable to hate them now but don't lie, you were one of them too.

When I first read this page from X-Men #108 (Dec. 1977) I thought it was one of the coolest scenes I've ever seen. Wolverine gets punched hard enough by a robot leprechaun to reach escape velocity. He doesn't die, either. To get all geek about it, adamantium skeleton or not, getting hit that hard would likely send the skeletal structure blasting out of the flesh unless there was some kind of concussive energy involved that lifted Wolverine...

Anyways, I really enjoyed this issue.

That is, until I calmed down and remembered that it had precedent.

Yes, months before in Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #224 (Feb. 1977) Superboy gets bitch-slapped into interstellar space by the super-baddie Pulsar Stargrave!

That's right, Cary Bates and Mike (He-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-As-If-He-Was-Hayley-Mills-Incarnate) Grell did it first!

It's kind of interesting that a hero getting punched into space happened between 2 different comic companies in the same year. I can't recall seeing anything similar before or since. No, I'm not even suggesting that one influenced the other. It was a pretty cool idea though.

Superboy was still a moderately hot property back then and I still recall how excited we were about the Grell art and Stargrave story arc. Then it kind of peaked and while the stories were still pretty good the art wasn't there anymore. But that was okay, because Giant Size X-Men had come out and my friends and I abandoned DC en masse for Marvel.

Pulsar Stargrave gets my vote for having the Bestest Super-Villain Name EVER! Just look at how awesomely dramatic it is when he speaks his name...


Authentic History Center: Donald Duck's Atomic Bomb

From the Authentic History Center comes a cautionary tale of the Atomic Age by Disney.

In Donald Duck's Atomic Bomb, the career-malleable mallard invents an atomic bomb in his home only to have it stolen by a consulting scientist named Prof. Sleezy, who turned out to be a spy.

The bomb is detonated inside the city of Duckburg, with frightening consequences that probably amused children and worried the more knowledgeable adults.

The Disney-fication of a nightmare scenario
In the Donald Duck strip, the bomb goes off and all that happens is that people lose their hair! That the loss of hair is a sign of radiation sickness was also downplayed as a harmless and temporary effect in pro-nuclear propaganda of the 40's and 50's. The usual message was "Don't worry, it will grow back."

While this comic on the surface seems today as anti-nuclear, I see it as another entry in the 'harmless-ification' for public consumption of a serious subject and horrifying weapon that the creators of the documentary The Atomic Cafe addressed so well years ago.

Here is where you can read the entire strip, Donald Duck's Atomic Bomb.



Saturday, September 24, 2005

Comic Book Ad: Odd solicitation

Monsters Unleashed #11, 1975

This solicitation pushing for Marvel's horror & adventure magazine titles has to be the oddest one I've ever seen. At first it reads like one of those faux-occult scam ads for the Secrets of the Universe for only $1.95 through some PO Box in New Jersey.


Groin Injury Saturday: Desolation Jones

No, Warren Ellis' semi-hero Desolation Jones doesn't get a groin injury, he causes one. A bad one. Not as bad still as Batman making a thug shoot himself in the crotch, but still pretty serious. Jones even does it using the hat-trick of blunt force, electricity and heat!

In issue #3 of Desolation Jones, the protagonist/antagonist Jones beats up a pornographer in a sleazy hotel for some reason. Sensing the pornographers' reluctance to cooperate, Jones takes one of the floor lamps used during filming and hammers it into the guy's crotch.

The lamp is super-heated from hours of filming dirty movies and as you see in the next scene, Mr. Porn-monger has a smoking ruin where his reproductive organs used to be.

This scene is pretty much a play on the old joke; "Why did the farmer hit the mule with a two-by-four? To get the mule's attention."

In the real world this guy would have his buddies wack Jones for $200 dollars and a bag of apples. But on Comic Book Planet this guy is probably sufficiently terrorized to leave town and become a member of the Salvation Army.

I'm a cautious fan of Warren Ellis. My main hesitation about his work is that his characters are variations of a theme. Some time ago someone in a comic forum I frequent described a similar style of character by Howard Chaykin as "Chaykin-Man", an archetype that gets recycled, showing up again and again.

It may be that the author has a specific idea of what a hero is like, is enamored with the idea and believes there is plenty of characterization to explore. That is not always the case. I think "Chaykin-Man" as a character peaked with Dominic Fortune and The Shadow. Heck, maybe even with The Scorpion.

If some common thread linking the characters would drop hints that he is a facet of some kind of eternal warrior that would be fine, and would even give a writer something to write in about ten years for a comeback, but "Ellis-Man" seems to me to be a retread of John Constantine and I'm getting kind of tired of the idea. Also, his "edgy techno-bastard" site is getting on my nerves, as it has many posts that have no explanation or seem to mean anything...that might be the point of it though. If I'm not hip enough to understand his posts without deeper references then I guess I'm not cool enough to be visiting it. It's probably part of his plan to keep out the old and busted type of riff-raff.

Well...For a good show of an awful groin injury my hat is off to Ellis & Williams for this issue but only to use it to sympathy-protect my own package.


They have no need for erasers

- image probably copyrighted by someone, used because I felt like it

The Skepchicks 2006 Calendar is now on sale!

Here is where you can read the whys and wherefores about the calendar:

This calendar represents the collective efforts of many intelligent, strong, and beautiful women in the skeptical community. They are doctors, mothers, businesspeople, teachers, students, and more; they reside across the United States, Australia, Canada, and Great Britain. All are brought together by a common goal of encouraging skepticism. Skepchicks, Intl. is an independent project, but many skepchicks are also active with other notable organizations.
Who are the Skepchicks? They are a community of Skeptical women. By Skeptical I don't mean they don't believe you and that espresso-girl at the Starbucks work are 'just friends'. No, It means they are part of the movement of critical thinkers.

In a time when the Xians are re-introducing exorcism, fear-mongering drives the gullible to wait for a Sky Fairy to intervene in daily events instead of 'helping themselves' and facts are under assault by non-scientific elements the promotion of skepticism and the necessary survival-trait of critical thinking is required more than ever before.

Personally, smart women make me afraid, but don't let that stop you. As they say, "Smart Is Sexy"!


Friday, September 23, 2005

Golden Age Sandman: MURDERER!

Here's another example of the casualness that the Golden Age writers killed people. It's been noted before but bears repeating that the casual fans of today think of the Golden Age comics as quaint and toothless. The reality is the stories and heroes of the GA were really hard core. That people think the GA was just goofy comics is because of memories of the post-Wertham/Congress Silver Age and because modern writers depict the heroes of yesterday with fond nostalgia and as moralistic mentors.

From All Star Comics #2 (1940) is a story of one of my favorite Golden Age characters, the Sandman. I just can't get enough of him and I really enjoyed the Sandman Mystery Theater. The Sandman is a great pulp noir character and is really cool. SMT also has one of the few retcons I actually agree with in that the stupid yellow and purple costume era was just a comic book fantasy and did not really happen.

This tale is part one of an ensemble story called "The Glowing Globe". You don't get much more pulp-tastic than a mad scientist exposing people to a mysterious sphere that emits death rays so he can rob the joint! The story-telling format of the issue is a familiar one to Silver Age readers. The heroes split up and each has a part in the adventure before joining up at the end and pounding the bad guy into submission.

In the Sandman chapter, the hero defeats and disarms the evil scientist, the brother of the victim of the detective story, Sir Basil. The Sandman then starts in on some unnecessary exposition, forgetting that a gun is within reach of the evil-doer, who of course wakes up and goes for the pistol.

Not one to let a grave tactical error go unchallenged, the Sandman jumps the murderous sibling and forces him to turn the gun on himself, blowing his brains out. In a typical comic book wrap-up the Sandman's only feeling is relief since his secret identity of Wesley Dodds, that was earlier exposed in a struggle, is now once again safe.

Here's a close-up of Sir Basil's brother taking a bullet that goes in one temple and out the other. You can even see the round exiting to the lower right corner of the picture.

The look of shocked surprise on his face is priceless.


Comic Book PSA: Eleanor likes comics!



In the art world, there is a difference between using a model-reference and a freaking rip-off.

Do these type of artists ever send royalties to the original photographer or model?