Sunday, April 30, 2006

Batman Has The Best Toys

In this month's issue of Legends of the Dark Knight #204, Batman ignores crime and plays with his set of Average Citizens of the DCU action figures from DC Direct. Escaping his high-pressure life-style of drunken billionaire by day and grim avenger of the night by night, Batman relaxes by playing "Waiting For The Bus", "Watching TV" and "Working In A Warehouse" with his exclusive collectors edition dolls.

No, he's not recognizing the child in the man. He's just weird.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Interior Decorating by Photoshop

Iron Man: Inevitable #5 (June 2006)

X-Factor v2 #6 (June 2006)

Nice wallpaper and all, but I miss the days when artists actually drew comics and maybe used a Xacto-knife and Zip-a-tone instead of clicking and pasting in a standard photoshop pattern.

Friday, April 28, 2006

On Those Recent Heroic Poses

By now everyone has seen the ASBARTBW #5 cover focusing on Wonder Woman's hindquarters and the response that reveals way more of Hal Jordan than I ever wanted to think about.

Meh. This is all a day late and a dollar short. Check out this panel from the May 2001 issue of Detective Comics #756 featuring Batman, Superman and Lois Lane.

I hope that dangly thing is Superman's foot.

If I want to see a large mammal-toe in spandex I'll just read Alex Ross' Justice #5.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Babs Seemed To Be In Trouble


From the novel Ginny Gordon and the Secret of the Old Barn
(Whitman Publishing, Racine, Wisconsin, 1951)
Illustrated by Margret Jervis

Attack of the Space Monkey

From Moonbeam and Dan Starr
Benefic Press, Chicago, Illinois (1966)
Written by Selma and Jack Wasserman
Illustrated by George Rohrer

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lochinvar Played All The Songs They Requested


From the novel Ginny Gordon and the Secret of the Old Barn
(Whitman Publishing, Racine, Wisconsin, 1951)
Illustrated by Margret Jervis

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Comic Book Ad: Easy-Baked Crime Fiction

- From Walt Disney Showcase #18 featuring Gyro Gearloose (Oct 1973).

This disturbing advertisement for the Easy-Bake Oven features a father stalking his own daughter. In it, a Dad watches from the cover of darkness until the opportunity to commit a heinous act of a violation of trust presents itself. Alarmingly, he would have have to hide and watch Suzie cook for 20 minutes or more, since an Eeasy-Bake cake takes forever to cook under that puny light bulb. Not only is the dad shown to be obsessive and weird, he is evil enough to frame another child for his act. When you think about it, in stealing Little Suzie's metaphorical cake he is also robbing her of her child-like innocence.

The producer of this ad may have been trying to emulate the playful cartoon-noir of a Scooby-Doo mystery but the images of an adult male hiding in a darkened room watching a little girl play homemaker just comes across as creepy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sgt. Rock - The Prophecy #4: It doesn't look good for the kachina

As I feared, Joe Kubert killed off the puppy. No last minute retcon. No Zero Hour. No scene of the miraculously uninjured puppy running playfully around the yard as the soldiers of Easy Co. walk over the horizon (think the unlikely and to my mind hastily-added scene from Con Air with the little girl and Steve Buscemi). Puppy-death in the DCU is pretty permanent as far as comic book deaths go. Except for Krypto and he's special. Ten years from now there won't be a big crossover event showing a paw made of stars clutching a galaxy as it remakes the universe.

No. Readers received DC's official verification of Pup's fate in these throw-away panels from Sgt. Rock: The Prophecy #4.

Yet, Pup is not truly gone. Indeed, the soul of Pup lives on as a good luck action figure in the form of a kachina fetish given to Bull by Sure-Shot. So thanks to condescending stereotypes of Native Americans the puppy is still around in spirit to make Bull feel better about war crimes and concentration camps. Then again, if my health and well-being in a combat zone depended on the whims of the Giant Redneck Racist I'd shower him with gifts, too.

Awwwww.

I won't spoil the big reveal of this issue, but the fate of the kachina is also telegraphed pretty far in advance this month. Let's see if I'm right about it by the time issue #6 hits the stands. Whatever happens to the doll, you can bet it will be sappy but heartwarming and represent a symbol of hope for the future.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Bring Me The Head Of Bob Hope!

It is no lie that Lois Lane is a freaking Gold, Silver, Platinum and Diamond mine of blog entry material. Possibly the only book that can surpass the Silver Age craziness of her title is that of Jimmy Olsen, but his book is a whole other type of crazy (and actually got pretty serious when Kirby did his run). But where the Lois Lane book is like the charming, crazy Aunt who needs her meds and should lay off the scotch kind of madness, Jimmy's title is the equivalent of the deranged homeless guy on the bus who can't stop touching himself.

This panel from Lois Lane #50 (July 1964) has Superman's Girfriend visiting the lab of Professor Potter, the wacky scientist who's amazing inventions always go wrong when the plot demands it.

While Lois is focused primarily in the back pack time machine so she can go into the past and annoy Superboy and Lana Lang (and learn a much needed lesson that will not take) I was much more interested in the comedy robots displayed in the workshop. Mounted like grisly trophies are the heads of television personalities Jimmy Durante, Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis and Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs of the Dobie Gillis show. In Potter's sweaty hands are the likenesses of Bob Hope and another I initially thought was DC Editor Julius Schwartz* but is probably Phil Silvers. Of this group Hope, Lewis and Krebs were all either represented in or were just wrapping up a publication run at the time in the pages of various DC comic books. Phil Silvers appeared in both the Sgt. Bilko and Doberman comic books published by DC a few years earlier.

This panel is pretty clearly a bit of a stealth-advertising for the various comic books and television series. It didn't hurt to have the artist add in the plug and, after all, Potter had to be doing something with his hands. I imagine it was thought that the scene could generate interest and sales in the other books. And it probably did. In those long ago days before a cover-shot of Wolverine could cause a leap in sales and with print runs of nearly half a million or more copies it made sense to cross-advertise. The small cost of a sight gag could pay off big.

The partially disassembled Bob Hope robot is a funny image, looking as if he was cut off in mid-joke when his head was ripped from his torso, finger raised in protest.

"I was surprised at the crowd Jayne Mansfield drew when she got off the plane. I didn't think a couple of extra hills would be a novelty in Korea."
"Where is that damn 'off' switch? Screw it! I've been dreaming of this since 1943..."
"Now, hold on there...URK!"
Humorous, small robots in comic books are almost as good as monkeys. If the homicidal (yet hilarious) Brynocki got his own book I'd buy it. That would be an awesome cross-over event even better than Avengers/JLA. I'd love to see Brynocki take an axe and ball-peen hammer to a Bob Hope robot.

* Creator and staff cameos were not just the sole gimmick of the mid-1970's Marvel. For years the image of Mr. Schwartz regularly appeared in DC comic books as sometimes a main or background character.

Norm Saunders: All Detective Magazine Oct 1933

In keeping with the theme of this here web log here is a great cover by pulp and sometimes comic book artist Norm Saunders, featuring an illusion where all the elements of mad doctor, lab paraphernalia, terrified victim and a toxic cloud combine to create the impression of a skull.

Norm Saunders often employed this technique to eerie effect in his art. Even those not familiar with the pulp era may very well recognize one of his most famous covers, that of a cobra-like villain grasping twin knives while crouching over a sacrifice.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It's a fact!

If monkeys didn't exist then comic books would be all the poorer for it.


Image from the Shorty back-up feature in Lois Lane #49 (May 1964).

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Comic Book Karaoke: My Confession #9

Directions:

  1. Click the link to play the midi file in a new tab or window.
  2. Sing along while looking at the cover.
  3. Keep cool, do not cut with razor.
It is a singularly uplifting experience.


I know all there is to know about the crying game
I’ve had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye

One day soon I’m gonna tell the moon about the crying game
And if he knows maybe he’ll explain

Why there are heartaches, why there are tears
And what to do to stop feeling blue
When love disappears

I know all there is to know about the crying game
I’ve had my share of the crying game

First there are kisses, then there are sighs
And then before you know where you are
You’re sayin’ goodbye

Don’t want no more of the crying game
Don’t want no more of the crying game
Don’t want no more of the crying game
Don’t want no more of the crying game



Enjoy! You are welcome!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Comic Book Ad: Superman vs the Giant Cyclops

I would have totally paid 40 cents to see this in wax form at the 1964 world's Fair.

I have the idea, though, that this scene did not occur in reality. Young comic book readers dragging their parents into the museum expecting to see Supes in a fight scene with a monster were in all likelihood disappointed. I would say it was a almost certain that the two figures were just positioned in standard department store mannequin-like poses and probably not even in proximity to the other.

Too bad. That would rule.

Happy Easter!

MAD #145 (Sept 1971)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Grocery Store Artifact: Cheese & Confrontation Management

The flap of a shipping box containing blocks of delicious cheese is printed with instructions that are for careful package opening and to prevent spoilage.

But it can also be used as an informational notice for when you have to deal with insane people. It's like a 'No Smoking' sign for the hostile.

"Dude, put away the knife. Can't you read?"

I'm thinking of wearing it for my next trip into Baltimore.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Price of Freedom is Eternal Crisis-ness

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Metropolis, LuthorCorp News Agency, Wednesday, April 12, 2006:
Stung by allegations of sweetheart no-bid contracts and charges of wasteful spending by allowing thousands of very expensive OMAC robots to hover in the sky doing nothing at all for months on end, top level executives of the US Government have ordered all OMAC soldiers to be re-programmed and put to work for the Department of Homeland Security.

When critics voiced concern that the OMAC soldiers are actually people enslaved beneath a nano-machine shell that were conscripted into covert service against their knowledge and free will they were quickly dismissed by the White House. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one high level source reported, "All those people infected by OMAC nanotech that are out there flying around, securing our borders and checking cargo containers for their country won't remember a thing, anyway. It's like they are sleeping. But you, and they, can rest assured that they are doing their part to keep America safe."
Lana Lang gets hassled by "The Man" in Lois Lane #36 (Oct 1962)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Grocery Store Artifact: Push Down & Pull Apart

Printed on the shipping box of a popular brand of shredded cheese are the manufacturer's easy-open instructions of the preferred way to open the box without damaging the product inside by using a box-cutter.

Looks like another entry for the list of unintentional shock pornography (worksafe link).

They killed the wrong Robin

For this panel alone I will rejoice the day Dick Grayson gets a good, hard gacking.

- From the incorrectly named World's Finest Comics #196 (December 1970).

Monday, April 10, 2006

Grocery Store Artifact: Pack Your Bags PSA

This grocery store instructional sign is available at work for the baggers to study so they are aware of how to properly pack a grocery bag with customer purchases. These are posted all over in the hope that they will not damage the products when packing them. Good thing "hope springs eternal" or I'd have given up by now and replaced the posters with unrelated comic book PSA's. Not that they would notice. This poster is suitable for printing so they next time a bagger throws a gallon of milk on top of the eggs smashing them to a gooey mess, you can hand them this.

Ironically, this is also how a shoplifter will pack a cart when ripping us off. The items that the shoplifter intends to steal are placed in the center of a cart built up on all sides with walls constructed of paper towels, toilet paper, etc. We call this a "Set-Up Cart" and that trick hardly ever works. There are easily identifiable and observable behavior patterns that always go along with someone pretending to shop using a Set-Up Cart. The outward appearance of the cart conceals the smaller, high-value target items placed in the center while making the cart appear full. This is safer for the shoplifter than concealing the items on their person, which shows intent to steal. So does the Set-Up Cart, for that matter, but they don't think it does. When the thief feels confident that they are not being tracked by security or employees they wander nearer to the exit, grab the items from the cart and flee to a waiting vehicle.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Comic Book Ad: Children of the Gun

This advertisement for the Daisy "Spittin' Image" Winchester model BB gun that appeared in Lois Lane #30 (Jan 1962) is pretty typical of the type of the ad that ran in nearly every comic book of the 50's and 60's.
This ad was definately not skewed at the female readership of the title. In fact, the majority of the ads were very oriented towards the male readership, the demographic that supposedly purchased the most comic books. I always saw that the purpose of the Lois Lane book was that it was a "safe" romance book. That is, one title that boys could buy and read without too much embarrassment or worried questions from Dad about their masculinity. The book remained accessible in that form until the title changed direction a bit in the late 1960's by using DC's Big Book of Relevancy template to start representing the actual role of women in modern society. Or at least the popular media notion of that role.

It's a pretty exciting ad probably sold under a blanket contract for filling advertising space or it would undoubtedly have featured a pink "Lady Daisy" in order to grab the disposable income of female gun-lovers. You can fill in the details of the story yourself from the picture. Were they good guys fighting off the villains or where they the robbers hijacking the payroll? Was Larry the Wonder Horse leading them into a trap? I like how earlier, smarter advertisements encourage the consumer to create their own circumstances of the story behind the picture. Who was good, bad and in between was up to the observer. That's something that a later generation of marketing gurus decided children were too stupid to do on their own.

That said, from the lower right corner of the ad: What the heck is this?

It's disturbing to see a group of ammunition-worshipping children gleefully dancing around a giant totem fetish of their god in a comic book advertisement. I don't want to pass through a town that hosts that kind of cult. I imagine my car breaking down on some ominous Friday afternoon in a small village empty of parents with gun-weilding children everywhere taking aim at squirells and strangers. Crayon-rendered signs are posted everywhere proclaiming Saturday as the day for the monthly sacrifice to He-Who-Shoots-Behind-The-Rows.

But then, that is why I avoid traveling throughout the South.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Strange Sports Stories

Because I can often be kind of a jerk I call people Sport all the time.

"Hey, there, Sport. How's it going?"

"You got it, Sport."

To this day no one, as far as I know, has caught on to what I call a Stealth-Insult.

Sport: (n) mutant, mutation, variation, sport ((biology) an organism that has characteristics resulting from chromosomal alteration)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Surreal-Bots

From Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #18 (July 1960)
Not an out-of-context panel. It is a stand alone scene. Weird.

2005 Pigasus Awards

From the March 2006 newsletter of my personal hero, James Randi...

ANNUAL PIGASUS AWARDS ANNOUNCED

April 1st is here, and it's time to give out the coveted Pigasus Awards. The categories change somewhat from year to year, and this time we have five to share with you. As my readers will know, these are announced via ESP to the winners, who are of course allowed to predict their winning of this honor by precognition. The Flying Pig trophies are sent to the winners via psychokinesis. We send; if they don't receive, it's perhaps due to their lack of PK ability.
The Pigasus Award is to science what the Razzie is to Hollywood. The award recognizes those responsible for ignoring reality in favor of foolishness and superstition, sometimes with dangerous consequences to people, as in Category #3.

This month Randi's newsletter Swift Online is written by guest commentators while The Amazing One recovers from heart surgery*. Entries of interest are the topics Teaching and Educating Future Critical Thinkers and the recommended site Butterflies and Wheels .

Check it out!

* Don't pray for Randi's recovery, you just may kill him. This means you, Sylvia! Uri, you stop that right now!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Later, At The Laboratory

"It's cool. Say, would you mind picking up that Kandorian micro-wrench? It's on the floor behind you. Yeahhhh, just bend on over and...thaaaat's it..huurrr...huurrr."
Anti-gravity shoes? More like Anti-gravity bang me like a screen door in a hurricane stiletto boots!

- From Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #21 (Nov 1960)

Lois Lane is the most gloriously, wonderfully insane DC series ever. You want surreal? Skip Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol and read all 137 issues of that series as I did. This title actually causes brain damage while alternately curing all ills.

Oddly, I have the feeling this book was not aimed at the female comic book buying demographic.