Thursday, August 31, 2006

9/11 Report - A Graphic Adaptation: One important funny book

When I initially heard that there would be a comic art adaptation of the events of 9/11 I was instantly skeptical, as I imagined that it was yet another cynical attempt to take money from the gullible by manipulation of emotion and patriotism. Then I read that the adaptation was going to be a summary of the report prepared by the 9/11 Commission so I ordered it right away.

While I'm not up to providing in-depth review let me just say this: This is one important funny book.

The 9/11 Report itself is a difficult read, couched in the usual government terminology. The report is not written at a 9th grade reading level and if you want to teach kids, young adults and easily-distracted adults about the Commission's findings then this book is a must.

For some baffling reason Stan Lee gets a bit of space on the back cover of the book. I guess if it looks like a comic book then they call up Stan. He praises the work and asserts that the adaptation "should be required reading in every home, school, and library." I agree that one if not several copies should be available to students and the public. Hopefully, schools and libraries won't allow the Wingnuts to censor or limit the exposure of it to people by requiring permission slips from a parent or guardian.

As far as I can tell the adaptation is free of editorializing. If one administration appears to have stumbled more than the other in dealing with Al Queda it is not a direct attack on that President or their organization by the report. If you want to get technical about it, every administration since 1920 has mishandled the Middle East. Given clarity of hindsight, it is...what it is.

That may not stop those with an agenda from attacking it as they did the original report. In fact, some attacks on the adaptation have already begun claiming it is variously official propaganda for one administration or conversely, an assault on same. I guess it depends on what side of the political fence you stand.

Sid Jacobson wrote the adaptation, distilling the text to a readable format from the Commission's report with a minimum of fictionalizing. Comic veteran Ernie Colon should be lauded for the amount of work he did illustrating over one hundred pages of the book. He was also professional and mature enough to keep the real-world graphic scenes of violence understated and not crib layouts from his work on Marvel's Damage Control series. There are a few scenes where the bad guys appear "Mwa-ha-ha-Evil" but given the medium it may be unavoidable. There are some familiar comic book sound effects thrown in and some dialogue that was created because there is no way of knowing what was actually said, but remains in the tone of the events. A few other panels show scenes of tragedy and if not for the knowledge that they are based on real events one could dismiss them as typical comic book illustrations and not taken seriously.

Pulitzer material? I don't know. This should definitely receive some sort of recognition but it is different than Maus, which is one of the few mainstream books in similar format that the public is familiar with.

You can find the adaptation from many sources on the net or at your local comic book store. You can also read the original 9-11 Report on line.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

The Mighty One, Jack Kirby

It's Jack Kirby's 89th birthday and in recognition of that I present The Tablet of Revelation from Kamandi #29 (May 1975).

All of us fans build our own comic continuity in our heads, keeping bits of lore we like or think should be included and discarding those we feel do not do justice to the characters and their history. Kamandi #29 by Jack Kirby is one of those episodes of lore I keep as a character's true story.

As far as I was concerned Jack Kirby tells the legend of the true Death of Superman in Kamandi #29. In the story it is revealed that The Man of Steel did not die in a fight scene against a creature that should have been a Highfather clone sent by Darkseid (but wasn't). Kirby had Superman die as a real hero, preventing the planet Earth from destroying itself and being destroyed in a series of cataclysmic events that included World War 3 called by survivors as "The Great Disaster". Though the Earth was saved the task proved too much for Superman and he later died. Years passed and all that remained of Superman and an Age of Heroes was his indestructible costume that a cargo-cult of semi-intelligent gorillas worship as a religious talisman. Kamandi, The Last Fanboy On Earth, has his own ideas for the use of the super-suit. He is desperate for a symbol for the beings of his world to rally around and rise above post-apocalyptic barbarism.

Kamandi was convinced that one day Superman would return to fix things and killed a gorilla who desired to misappropriate the costume for his own selfish ends by dumping him into lava. Interestingly, Kamandi was correct that one day Superman would return, however briefly. In a nice hat-tip to Jack Kirby, Jeph Loeb had an alternate time line Superman appear in Kamandi's earth in Superman/Batman #16 (Feb 2005) and reference the story.

Crisis on Infinite Earths pretty much erased the fate of Superman that Kirby penned but the recent Infinite Crisis brought the possibility roaring back. In an industry where creative teams sniped at each other and rendered invalid another's work with regularity no one refuted Kirby's account of the death of DC's cornerstone character.

That says a lot about the respect Jack earned.

Don't forget to visit the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center online!

Never learn parenting skills from comic books

Comic books can teach you many things like the difference between right and wrong, good and evil and how to recap the last few months of your life while falling 20 stories. But apparently common-sense in regards to good parenting is not one of those things.

Kind of an out of context panel from Miss Beverly Hills of Hollywood #1 (Mar-Apr 1949)

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Talk of the Teen: Don't bogart that uterus, babe

From Scribbly #5 (Apr-May 1949), the book with infamous menage-a-trois animal-rape cover.

I would never eat anything billed as a Moo With Goo as it sounds like rotten meat. Chow Hound is still in use today and Suffering From Shorts has evolved a bit but can still be heard as Short On Cash, et al. Today's street racers could be called Boulevard Cowboys as they are certainly reckless, but I prefer the term Stupid [Expletive Deleted] Selfish [Expletive Deleted] Dumbtards.

Calling a woman's purse a Salvage Depot is humorous, condescending and it makes sense it would enter the language during the post-War era that knew of scrap drives and rationing. The contents of my wife's many purses were unmanageable until she picked up one of those handbag organizers with the built-in flashlight.

The best panel in the feature is the one with the Mothball insult. It features the female stereotypes that those who watch Scooby-Doo know well. It has The Daphne (fun, pretty and social) hurling a casual, soul-crushing insult to The Velma (who wears glasses, is smart, studious and has no time for a boyfriend because she may be a lesbian). Calling a woman a Mothball is infering that her reproductive organs are in "storage" against use by males and by the cultural expectations of 1949, she is worthless as a female, wife and mother because she is not using her uterus as God and the patriarchy has commanded.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Why wait for Civil War?

If you can't wait for the next installment of Marvel's delayed big cross-over event then just pick up a trade copy of Captain America's 1970's battle against the Secret Empire, as written by Steve Engelhart.

The classic Cap arc just seems to me to be wholly recycled, updated a bit and turned into Civil War by Bendis and Marvel, anyhow. May as well get some 70's Marvel goodness while you wait. Plus, in the Secret Empire story Nixon commits suicide.

- Page from Captain America #171
(Mar 1974)

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Shakespeare for Americans

Originally printed in Heavy Metal magazine from 1981-1982, Shakespeare for Americans is a comment on American pop-culture accomplished by the team of Howard Chaykin, Walt Simonson and sometimes Peter Kuper. Running as one page gags of dumbed-down adaptations of the classic stories, the team lampooned what they saw as pop-culture's ability to transform even the loftiest work into generic garbage devoid of originality and soul and the amazing willingness of the American public to eat large heaping plate fulls of multi-media refuse and beg for more.

I recall being vaguely insulted by this short series when it was initially published until I remembered that I don't particularly like Shakespeare and that in spite of the snooty upper-crust reputations the plays enjoy now, the stories of Shakespeare were originally written to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the unwashed, illiterate and entertainment-starved masses of the era. Irony, thy name is Bill.

The scene from Julius Ceasar drawn by Frank Miller may be of particular interest to fans of his early work. You can see the entire set here in the Shakespeare for Americans flickr set.

Talk of the Teen: All Sex Issue

Here's another Talk of Teen filler feature where DC shows how relatable they are to all the cool cats who read comic books. Bobby-soxers in 1960?

From Lois Lane #21 (Nov 1960)

Out of all the phrases supposedly in use since this feature was published in 1960 only the first is still part of the lexicon and is directly related to not getting sex. Boot Me can mean something completely different in the computer age and Broom sounds like modern street slang for a shotgun. Sugar Report sounds vaguely familiar as if I heard it used somewhere once and is probably related to corporate business. If used today, She's Wearing Heels seems to imply the opposite of the inaccessible female and instead suggests a woman of lose morals.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lanterns on the Loose: Gullivar Jones and Kyle Rayner

In the early 1970's, seeing the success of such publishing franchises as their adaptations of Conan the Barbarian and the revival of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan and John Carter of Mars novels, Marvel was seeking properties other than Conan and Kull to turn into what they would hope would be another popular fantasy character. After a search for suitable (and presumably inexpensive) characters to promote, Marvel and Roy Thomas chose the long-forgotten character of of Gullivar Jones, from the 1905 book Lt. Gullivar Jones: His Vacation by Edwin L. Arnold. By most accounts the book, when originally published, did not sell well. It soon was remembered only by science fiction aficionados as having pre-dated the Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars by several years. SF historians still debate if the earlier book influenced the latter due to similarities in the stories. If nothing else, Arnold's book sales probably suffered from poor marketing caused by a title that was far less dynamic and sexy than the Burroughs novel.

Beginning in 1972, Marvel showcased the character of Gullivar Jones, Warrior of Mars in issues #16-21 of the reprint anthology title Creatures on the Loose, which later featured the likewise-forgotten Conan-clone Thongor and Man-Wolf.

The parallels in the work of Arnold and Burroughs are best left to nit-picking literary scholars. I am much more interested in the similarities in the work of Arnold and Green Lantern scribe Ron Marz, who unfortunately gave us the Green Lantern known as Kyle Rayner.

While re-reading some 70's Marvel goodness to re-ignite my love of comic books (the flame of which has been snuffed by months of ho-hum-nicity) I noticed that there are striking parallels to the origins of Gullivar Jones and the Kyle Raynor Green Lantern.

Here is Gullivar Jones' origin as a Warrior of Mars, from Creatures on the Loose #16 (March 1972).

And here is Kyle Rayner's origin as an intergalactic law enforcement agent from Green Lantern #50 (March 1994)

Interesting, yes? Let's go down the checklist...
  • Disaffected protagonist leaves club: Check!
  • Enters spooky alley: Check! (though Gullivar probably entered the alley for different reasons than Kyle).
  • Visited by extraterrestrial: Check!
  • Given gift of Scienti-magic talisman: Check!
  • Charged with mission to save worlds: Check!
  • Alien dies: Check!
  • Reluctantly accepts said mission: Check!
Taking into consideration that Ron Marz is known as a big fan of Burroughs (Green Lantern Annual #6 with its Pulp Heroes theme is very ERB-inspired) the homage to the old story is pretty great.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Civil War: Reboot delayed

Delays to big, fun comic events, especially after they have been in the planning stages for a freaking year or two (Hello, Infinite Crisis), bug the heck out of me. And now Marvel is actually forcing readers to wait for the trades?

Good for Amazon, bad for Your Local Comic Book Shop.

Anyway, here's my delayed Civil War banner. Sorry it missed the meme-wave. You know how tough deadlines can be.

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Cora the Car Hop's hidden sexual themes

Cora the Car Hop is a filler humor strip that ran in various issues of DC Comics' Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane and a couple issues of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Drawn by comic strip veteran Henry Boltinoff, the strip premiered way back in 1958 in Lois Lane #2.

The majority of the gags include some scenes that would have seemed mildly humorous to a child, yet would have been a bit risque to the mature reader. While I doubt the average reader of comic books of the era would have been sophisticated enough to see past the surface humor to the more adult aspects of the comic, when viewed by an adult the strip comes off as weird and fetishy.

Many, many years ago I wrote a story featuring Cora, Cap, Varsity Vic and many of the rest of the Boltinoff ensemble featuring updated, realistic, deconstructed and grim-n-gritty versions of the characters. Even Super-Turtle showed up for a cameo. Then Alan Moore hit the comics scene followed by his imitators and successors, so I trunked the script because it felt like I was going over a well-trod path.

Today, Cora would undoubtedly be portrayed in comics as performing an entirely different service for her customers.

Check out Cora's adventures here at Cora the Car Hop.

Friday Catblogging

That's correct, this is not a picture of a cat, but it is a photo of the foot I use to kick them with.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mew-Tonts Rule!

Today I received my DVD of the classic and unfairly MST3K'd science fiction film This Island Earth! The case art and info is pretty bare-boned but the DVD art features a helpless Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) in the claws of (as space-baddie Exeter calls it) a "mew-tont" slave. It's a cool scene with a clear origin in good-girl SF pulp art that makes my Nerd-bone tingle!

I do love me some mew-tonts!


This is a test

If you can figure out where to send your resume, you're hired!

It is obvious this company desperately needs an Office Assistant.

- From the August 9/10 2006 Pennysaver.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I have found an outlet for my rage

But since I refuse to give my money to these people I need someone to buy it for me.

This is a perfect example of American crassness and tackiness and I want one so I can scream at it and fill it with my ire and make it my Apothecary of Hate™.

Someday I will then pass it on to some unsuspecting fool, who will then undoubtedly suffer many misfortunes by being the possesor of the curse-laden coin.

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Ocassionally, Lois and Lana called a truce

This panel shows the girls could get along just fine when it involved kinky video parties with strange men.
From Lois Lane #12 (Oct 1959)

True cost of the Crisis: The Destruction of Earth-B

I wonder how often Superman crossed the dimensional barrier and visited the Bigamy-verse?

From Lois Lane #57 (May 1965)

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I don't know much but I know how to fix Iraq

I think it's clear that the entire war in the Mid-East can be resolved by a massive campaign of non-stop carpet-concerting by The Hoff.

As freedom rings all around him, The Hoff sings him some Irving Berlin standards.
♬ ♪ "The difficult, I'll do right out. The impossible will take a little while...!" ♬ ♪

In just one day David tore down that big, old gangsta-tagged eyesore of a wall and brought North and South Germany together after 83 years of mutual animosity.

America had their chance at stabilising the region, now it is time we let Hasselhoff the Hoofer take a shot at uniting Iraqistan and their many peoples.

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Don't let the door to the Fortress of Solitude hit you on the ass on the way out

Since his debut back in 1938 there are countless scenes that define greatness in the stories that feature Superman. Smashing a car, breaking chains by flexing his chest muscles and juggling planets. When Superman executed the Phantom Zone criminals. When Superman and Wonder Woman made a skin flick. When a terminally ill Lois first declined Clark's marriage proposal because he wasn't Superman, when they married for real and when Superman died for a while.

But one of  my favorite scenes ever in comics wasn't a punch-em-inna-face. It was real story and had good drama. It is when Superman once and for all kicked Lana Lang to the curb.

While Lana was featured regularly in the Superboy stories she was absent as a character from his adult life in Metropolis. Lois Lane was firmly established as Superman's Girlfriend and except for the occasional manipulative heiress Lois had no real competition for Superman's affections. Enter: Lana Lang.

Cute and bothersome as a teen, Lana had grown up to be DC's glamorous vamp, an ambitious Silver Age Sharon Stone type. Well, not initially. As revealed in Lois Lane #7 (Feb 1959) while on a story in the Metropolis slums "pretty reporter" Lois discovered that Lana was homeless and living on the streets.
Since this is the DC and not Marvel and it is the Silver/Bronze Age, the comic did not go into detail about Lana's personal situation like it would today. No graphic details about drug addiction, prostitution or porn movies here! That was all subtext, baby. Use your imagination. With Lois's help Lana gets cleaned up and established and secures steady employment. At first, Lana was a good friend to Lois. Having put her childhood relationship with Superboy behind her she often assisted Lois in her crazy schemes to win over Superman. Eventually though, Lana proved to crafty and manipulative and was revealed to be shallow and selfish, becoming a serious rival as a love interest for Superman. They had a history, Lana was prettier than Lois and had red hair so you can't blame the guy for thinking with his Johnson-El.

Soon, Lana was making a name for herself in the popular media exploiting her personal history and friendship with Superman (nee Superboy), presumably in a far more lurid manner than Lois, Jimmy and Clark (in maintaining his secret identity) did. She wrote books, appeared on television shows and a went on a lecture circuit pandering to a public that couldn't get enough juicy celebrity gossip about the Man of Steel. Of course, Lana showing up and befriending Lois makes the issue of Superman's secret identity even more ridiculous and shows just how inept an investigative reporter Lois really was. You'd think they'd compare notes or something.

Superman himself was characterized as being torn between the two women and couldn't decide which one to choose from so he strung them both along for years.

The defining moment. Here's where the War Between the Girlfriends began.
From Lois Lane #7.

Not to be a Typical Guy, I understand that actually. Let's face the facts. Not many women could keep up with Superman and the craziness and media attention that comes along with him. The two women who could were also both major league ass-pains. Way back in the days before my own precious state of marital bliss I lived by the code of always having a Plan B in place. That is, if Plan A doesn't work out then you have to implement Plan B. So then if I broke up with my current girlfriend, she was mad at me or went to work I'd break out the Plan B, aka Reserve Girl. Now that may sound callous, but there isn't a man or woman out there alive then and now that didn't walk the same path I did when dating (and it is even more true today than when I was single, especially with women and their emasculating concept of the "Uhm-Friend") so save the self-righteous anger and focus on the comic books, OK?

For years Superman tolerated Lana and Lois' romantic shenanigans. During a great story arc in which Superman got more in touch with his Clark Kent persona (Don't forget that in is this era Clark was the disguise) the Superman and Lois relationship intensified and Lana was pushed to the sidelines. Lana became increasingly more desperate for attention and eventually Superman decided to put a halt to the relationship.

In one great scene, Superman finally makes it clear to Lana and the readers that he chooses Lois once and for all. All the comic noobs out here reading today's tales may not know it but there was actually a long-running controversy over Lana and Lois and who was better. It was a question nearly as great as the one about Ginger and Mary-Anne*.

From Superman #332 (Feb 1979). Click images to super-size.

Lana does not take it very well and proves Superman's assertions by raging at him instead of being saddened or accepting his decision. Cleverly, the reader's were not privy to her rants because of the thick glass but it is obvious that Superman could hear every word. Superman understood that while both Lana and Lois desired being "Mrs. Superman" it was only Lois who accepted the responsibility of the relationship. Lana was only seeking the next celebrity spotlight to stand in.

Fortunately for readers Lana didn't stumble upon the Eclipso gem next issue, because all us Silver and Bronze age fans can recognize a stupid cliche when it is shoved in our faces. Cheese we can accept, but don't insult us.

Since then Lois has been (kind of) portrayed to show that she isn't defined by Superman and doesn't require fame by association to make her way in the world. After a few reboots and because of the Smallville television program Lana was once again brought back into Superman's life. In a moment of editorial clarity she wasn't portrayed as a brunette Asian-Hispanic proto-Lois like in the show, but (in spite of her being the spouse of a powerful politician) DC did choose to make her a desperate loser once again as she was when she re-appeared back in 1959. Now that she is the CEO of LuthorCorp I expect that she is in a better position financially and emotionally to go after Clark again. Being CEO may be her forte and as her personal power and influence grows she might feel she is a match for Lois and Superman once again.

* Ginger.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Think of the children!

Oh, noes!
"Don't forget, 12-year-olds read Bay Weekly."

I can't believe that someone actually wrote that sentence. Note the complainants didn't mention their child, just children in general. You know, as a parent myself I excercised a little thing called Good Parenting, in which I monitor what my kid is exposed to by excercising Good Judgement through judicious use of the television remote control and previewing his entertainment materials.

Somehow I doubt the advertising-driven, give-away periodical Bay Weekly is a child's first choice for reading enjoyment unless they are interested in where the next Republican Pancake Breakfast is scheduled. Then again, this is Maryland, Land of the Sophisticated Redneck, so you never know.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Grocery Store Artifact: Waiting for Darwin

A co-worker habitually stores his snacks and drinks in a closet full of opened cleaning chemicals at work. It's a brand name soda today but he usually favors the 89 cent 2-liter bottle of generic strawberry soda, that he keeps on a taller shelf adjacent to the bottles of a particularly toxic bright red floor cleanser.

We keep throwing his snacks out or moving them to the break room. He gets mad that we are doing it and doesn't get the hint that it's for his own good.

Now I know how Spider-Man feels.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

In Loo of Content

Via BeaucoupKevin.

I question the actual effective science of facial recognition programs and hope that it isn't seriously used for Homeland Security. Using Kurt Schaffenbeger's radioactive mutant from Modern Mechanix came up with these results.

The unluckiest homeowner in the world looks like Clara Bow, Diana Rigg and Ophelia Winters? Please.

Apparently, large dark spots in the center of the face and blank areas are enough to make a 'match'. Facial recognition is still in it's infancy and is not yet very reliable, but for entertaiment purposes it can be fun. If used in the field as an anti-crime tool I'd hate to think someone gets missed or tagged as a threat due to a false positive because they were wearing sunglasses.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sex sells. Then it rolls over and goes to sleep.

Take a look at these covers from the Golden Age series of the legacy character the Blue Beetle.

Bark like a dog!
Assault the image for cover gallery via the GCD

You might notice that there is a clearly defined time in the run when the publisher suddenly realizes that SEX SELLS COMIC BOOKS.

Using one issue as a way of easing into the transistion, the book transforms from the pow! zap! of traditional kiddie fare to the Va-Va-Voom! style of lurid art that undoubtedly made the Werthams of the world squirm uncomfortably in their seats. Much like when the Golden Age Green Lantern was pushed off his own cover for a dog for marketing reasons, the title character of Blue Beetle was moved from foreground to background to favor dames in distress and greedy molls before he was exiled to a Silver Age JLA-style roll call profile. The Beetle even vanished entirely from the cover for several issues as the hard boiled crime-influenced direction of the art had little use for costumed super heroes in the changing markets of the late 1940's.

You perverts make me sick! I love you all.

Here's the search terms what done brought you to my site this week...

kama sutra comic

scarlet johansen's boobs

all star skulls

supergirl porn

supergirl, porn

humiliation lady

unconscious girls


tiger tail clip art

skulls comic

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Co-Workers Suck

I have come to the conclusion that the place I work is a dump.

My co-workers are dump-dwellers.

They are...

I fail to appreciate them all.

Do the Tokyo Stomp!

Imagine my insane delight. The original, uncut, unraymondburred Japanese version of GOJIRA, aka Godzilla, is coming to dvd September 5th in a 2-disc set.

The 2nd disc appears to contain the Americanized version for all you heathens.

I ordered it already.

Find out more at godzillaondvd.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

In one word - - Hsssssss!

I do love my complete Land of the Lost dvd boxed set, but the choices for some of the dvd art is baffling.

Enik has this whole Why me? thing going on.

Monday, August 14, 2006

LTMS Pictorial: Unconscious Girls of the Detroit JLA

Sexy: Girl ghosts.

Sexier: Naked girl ghosts.

SEXIEST: Naked girl ghosts that also wear the astral forms of their jewelry and accessories because that is freaking HOT.

from JSA: Classified #15 (Oct 2006)

It's like they are nude models from a men's magazine or something getting ready for a romp in a steamy pictorial, but they can be shown in a teasing, titillating way safe for comic book fare and isn't really pornography...But still is pornography!


FANBOY & FANGIRL BONUS: Unconscious hot chick.

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Comic Books + Fatima = Crazy/Delicious

Monitor Duty gives the world what might be not only eerie prophecy, but the first comic book & Flat Fatima mashup. Here are mine, combining the two recent memes from Random Panels and Progressive Ruin.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hey, kids! Fool your homeless friends!

Make your own bottle of Tenafly Viper by printing out your very own adhesive label!

Show your geek-cred and inability to secure reproduction rights by sneaking a flask of Viper into the theatre for that showing of Snakes on a Plane!

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