Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tropos: Year of the Dog

2006 is the Chinese Year of the Dog

News: Chinese companies not hiring people born in "unlucky" Year of the Dog.

Starwinds Howl
An adventure of Krypto written by Elliot S! Maggin.

Calculate your age in Dog Years

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Why secret identities don't work

Much has been made in comics over the last several years over the concept of secret identities. In DC's Identity Crisis the wife of a super-hero is murdered ostensibly because his identity is public knowledge. In Marvel's awful attempt to cash in at the same time on the ID buzz there was Identity Disc*, which was undoubtedly picked up by readers thinking it was a tie-in. Yet, while the Disk mini was just a painful read Marvel also showed at about the same time that they know how to handle a story about the subject of identities. In the Daredevil series Mat Murdock had his hero persona outed and the story was told like a tabloid celebrity scandal.

Secret identity's require a willing suspension of disbelief to work. In comics they work just fine but in reality they do not. Pre-Infinite Crisis, Superman relied on a subtle, unconscious form of super-hypnotism to make people not connect him to Supes, even though at the time in the comics mythos he was publicly considered to be one of several people who may have been the Man of Steel. As has been said many times, combing your hair differently, slouching and putting on glasses is not a disguise **.

As an example of why secret identities do not work in reality I present this poster from the film Circus of Fear.

Masked identity or not, that's clearly Christopher Lee under that hood. Anyone who actually is familiar with Lee will know it is him. This is why bank robbers get caught. They wear a ski-mask but some pal or acquaintance will turn him in for the reward. This idea of even passing familiarity outing a hero was also effectively pointed out by John Byrne in Marvel's New Universe title The Star Brand #12 (March, 1988). In that issue the hero visits a comic convention and special Con guests John Byrne and Howard Mackie detail the reasons why a costume does little to conceal who a person really is.

In fact, the amateur hero didn't know it but a past acquaintance with questionable motives knew who the Star Brand really was as a civilian just from seeing him on a short television appearance. This petty criminal, knowing the Star Brand was at the Con, went down to confront and presumably blackmail the hero for profit. The scheme didn't work because John Byrne blew up the convention center, destroying priceless comic books ***.

It has become something of a joke in some comics that secret identities exist. Bendis in particular seems determined to out every hero in the Marvel Universe. In an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker and Mary Jane made a list of everyone who knew that Parker and Spider-Man were one and the same. In a society that treats outrageous criminals or fools as celebrities the perception is that secret ID's may not be needed. Oneof the arguments against the universal exposure of the heroes civilian ID's is that by necessity the hero must become a celebrity and have the resources to protect their family and interests. Tony Stark, being rich and famous has Iron Man as his bodyguard, so no one messes with him. In the real world Bill Gates, also wealthy, has security guards protecting him and his loved ones. Being a celebrity hero will not work for the likes of Peter Parker or Nova, who are permanent losers and who will not be able to afford the resources required to live like their peers. An interesting sub-plot to a comic book line could be that the working-joe heroes are all victims of constant revenge attacks by villains and that their lives are a mess, while their partners on the super-team who have unlimited resources have to deal with their resentment at having it relatively easy by comparison.

* I'd like to see a sequel to Identity Disc done right. While the database would presumably hold the facts of the civilian identities of the heroes that are more or less public like Iron Man, Daredevil or Captain America, it should also contain the "best evidence" for who a hero might be as a civilian. Hairs, DNA evidence from blood left at a fight scene, maps of sightings, etc. A sequel could have the plot that innocent people are being murdered (and to confuse the issue, some 3rd tier disposable heroes are also getting wasted) because someone who has the database is drawing the wrong conclusions as to who a hero is in their civilian identity.

** Lois: "Say Clark, you never seem to be around whenever Superman shows up. I think you are really Superman!"
Clark: "Gosh, Lois...there are 12 million other people in Metropolis and I bet they all weren't around when Supes was beating up those bank robbers, either. By the way, where were you during the fight scene? I didn't see you until after Superman left. Is there something you are hiding YOU ALIEN SHAPE-SHIFTER?!"

*** Geeks also, but no one misses them. I've posted here and elsewhere before about Byrne's (probably justified in many cases) dislike for some fans. Nearly the entire issue of Star Brand #12 seems to me to be his critique on comic readers in general. I'll probably post more on that this week.

Monday, December 26, 2005

What If...An Enemy Landed On Plymouth Rock?

From the text of a 1943 print ad by the Knott Hotels in support of post-war bonds and funds via the Ad*Access archives.

Suppose an enemy had landed on Plymouth Rock...
Instead of the peace-seeking Pilgrims, an Invader bent upon conquest and loot.
Oh, the irony.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Fred Hembeck Declares V-F Day!

That would be V-F Day as in Victory Over Fox News Day and I'm crediting him with saying first what needed to be said...

December 25th, 2005

To quote the immortal John and Yoko,

"Happy Christmas! War is over--if you want it..."
Well, I want it, you want it, we ALL want it, so--with only a few short hours of December 25th, 2005 remaining--I'm here to declare a seasonal cease-fire!

Yes, friends--The War On Christmas is OVER!! least for the next ten and a half months, anyway...

In the meantime, we as Americans have far more important issues facing us.
Such as The War On Valentine's Day, The War On President's Day, and--most critically--The War On Ground Hog's Day!
- via Fred "Yes, it would kill me to have permalinks to individual entries" Sez

Health & Beauty archive reveals expected roles of women

A large online archive of nicely rendered and interesting ads from 1930's and later can be found at Ad*Access.

Spend a bit of time browsing and absorbing these images of the past. Particularly interesting are the health and beauty ads and the depictions of the expected roles of women through the decades. Many ads also contain subtle imagery which would in later years be considered to contain 'subliminal' content. When it comes to subliminal imagery I'm on the fence about it's effectiveness. I am usually of the opinion that what is called 'subliminal marketing' is actually obvious and multi-leveled and is either overt or covert in the message.

Have a Merry Space-Santa Christmas

Rocket sleds and reindeer in spacesuits are awesome!

Even though I didn't get what I wanted, I wish all of you a good holiday season and a safe New Year.

Damn you, Santa!

Dear Santa,

I've been good. I know I've made the Nice List. I don't ask for or expect much because as Thoreau observes, I am one of those men who leads a life of quiet desperation.

All I wanted was to find Hayley Mills under my Christmas tree this morning, was that too much to ask?

No, I say.

I slept with visions of Hayley dancing in my head, gorgeously decorated in gold Christmas foil printed with silver snowflakes and fastened with a big, green bow.
Unwrapping my Hayley this morning would have made up for years of crappy gifts of socks and soap-on-a-rope in one fantastic gesture.

Instead of the lovely Miss Mills I got the usual gifts of money, DVD's (and they were non-Hayley related too, jerk-face) and cologne.

So be warned fatso, you just took the number one spot on on
my naughty list. Welcome to Ass-Clownville. Population: 1. The Mayor: That would be you, beard-o.

You suck.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

MAD Magazine: If kids designed their own Xmas toys

This classic entry is from the January 1963 issue of MAD Magazine. Pure comedy gold.

Click the photo to unwrap.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bulleteer #2: That's no seam

Unlike other depictions of women in comics, this is no costume seam masquerading as faux-nudity on the new female Bulleteer. Considering the mandate by writer Grant Morrison that issue #1 show lots of sexy poses and T&A, I can agree in this case that the scenery in Bulleteer is actually furthering the sub-plot of the seamy underworld of fan obsession with heroes. This is in contrast to the the Vicky Vale panels in All Star Batman #1 and for Bulleteer, I am not prepared to say that this outlined crotch-shot can be blamed on the cheap trick of getting horny fans to buy the book.

Doesn't hurt sales, though.

What If...The Fantastic Four Were Published By M.F. Enterprises?

I swear...I read this expecting the alternate-earth Communist Reed Richards to yell "SPLIT!" in every panel.
Maybe that was on purpose, especially considering the stiff Marshall Rogers art in this issue resembles the style that was prevalent in the books of smaller comic companies of the late 60's and early 70's.

Another Money-Saving Comic Cover: On The Spot

This painting used for a reprint of prolific author Edgar Wallace's 1931 novel On The Spot published in 1947 for Avon's Murder Mystery Monthly #47 was also used in 1952 as a comic book cover for Realistic Comics Police Line-Up #3.


Yeah...let's just adjust that sash a bit to the center from now on, ok?

Santa and the gift of Death From Above

The War on Terror is looking about as real as the War on Xmas

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Santa: They should never have called him mutie!

Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1 (DC, 1985)

A little pre-emptive strike of provenance by DC against the Marvel mutant madness of the 80's, hmmm?

More alternate-earth versions of Santa can be found atFred Hembeck's site, Fred Sez.

If you want scarring on your bain, then don't miss Santa Steps Out by Robert Devereaux.