Friday, November 30, 2007

Mary Marvel: Rode hard and put away wet

If anyone told me that DC couldn't manage to squeeze in an unconscious teen-age girl, an upskirt and a porn-face in just one page of a comic book I would have laughed and told them they underestimate the creative teams of today's funny books.

A few things to remember is that most of today's artists and fans are children of the Bad 90s and they expect a risque type of imagery. The other is that companies are so desperate to make a sale, any sale, that inappropriate sexual imagery is almost always added to any scene in a comic book (and movie, novel, advertisement, etc.) because it just may motivate that tiny percentage of the population to hand over some cash that otherwise they would not. It may be that teasing a small portion of consumers by using saucy poses is worth it to the bottom line because most of the stable audience of die-hard fans will ignore it in favor of reading and collecting a book in spite of the continuing negative portrayal of the sexes. Think of it like chocolate sprinkles on a ice cream sundae. To many people it doesn't hurt and may be seen as a value-added commodity.

As example, Mary Marvel in the recent issue of Countdown #22 (November 2007). After a battle, Mary is rendered unconscious or insensate and is drifting in space. For no reason at all the scene is sexily designed to show readers what is under her very short skirt. There were a lot of poses for Mary that the artists could have used but the "Am I a good girl, Daddy?" pose is the one they chose. Mary then begins to wake up. She is confused, disoriented and manages to shed a tear in the vacuum of space. Hey, it's comic book magic, don't sweat the how. Maybe she is mourning her lost innocence.
I don't know what artistic point the creators were going for by having a single tear run down the face of an unconscious teen-age girl wearing an adhesive mini-skirt and kinky-boots, but the scene is kind of familiar.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but Mary is another strong and capable female character with a rich history that is is knocked unconscious and portrayed as helpless, who then and wakes up disoriented with something wet spilling down her face. I think there are movies that start out like that. When will we see Batman in a similar panel layout and situation?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ocean Liners in the Sky

Amazing Stories, June 1930

Science Wonder Stories, July 1929

Wonder Stories, December 1935

Captain carrot and the Final Ark #3, February 2008
Amazing Stories, December 1926

 Ad for Disney Cruise Lines. In San Diego, 94E and Federal, 10-8-10.

My homage to the classic "floating ship" pulp covers, November 2007

You can read about the 1935 pulp story and the famous Frank R. Paul cover of Dream's End (and even read the entire story) via this archived Lady, That's My Skull link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giant Golem vs. Giant Nazi Robot Dinosaur!

The Boy King was an exile from the Nazi-threatened land of Swisslakia who came to America to gather support and aid America in the fight against Hitler. Boy King fought spies and saboteurs that threatened America's security, using his wits, royal fortune and a skyscraper-sized Golem that only he could command. Strangely, the Boy King and American officials never considered using the Golem to step on and squish all the Nazis. Hitler and his cronies were not so innocent though and considered the Golem a potent obstacle in their goal of conquering the world. In order to defeat the Boy King and his statue the German High Command orders the construction of a similarly-sized weapon that would attack and defeat the Boy King before moving on to crush all American resistance. What they came up with was the obvious response: a Giant Nazi Dinosaur Robot.

In the Golden Age there was a whole lot of pulse-pounding content jam-packed in about 30 pages of art and story. In those days, decompression meant that was what the artist did in a bar after a long day of trying to get paid by a cheap publisher. There is plenty of non-stop action in this story. In Clue Comics #4 and #5, the heroic Boy King defends American shores from a giant robot, battles his arch-nemesis (a Nazi officer with extending prosthetics for hands who comes off kind of like one of the Robonic Stooges) not once but several times, fights an octopus, meets a cute girl and there is even a slow-moving death trap thrown in for good measure!

Clue Comics - The Giant vs Nazi Robot Dinosaur

Jump into the fray by clicking the picture above.

Be prepared to freak out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Eye Sees

In the December 1939 issue of Keen Detective Funnies debuted one of the most enigmatic super-heroes of the Golden Age of Comics. The issue featured the omnipotent character of THE EYE. The feature, titled The Eye Sees, was created by Frank Taylor and ran for a few years until the title suspended publication.

The Eye was a god-like creature of brutal retaliation and terrible justice. The supreme being that metes out revenge was a concept which became a recurring theme of the type of hero that would later be commonplace in comic books of the Golden Age and could be found in the form of such characters as the Specter, Stardust the Super-Wizard, Green Lantern and others.

The Frank Taylor creation was unusual in several respects, one being that it was one of the few characters that went without elaboration and readers never received an origin or back story. Another aspect of The Eye was that it was different from many other "heroes" in that it was very Old Testament when dealing with mortals. The Eye did not simply perceive wrongs and act to correct them from on high through improbable means. The Eye demanded unquestioning obedience from the people it deigned to assist and ordered them to do some actual field work to attain justice.

The Eye (December 1939)

You can download and observe for yourself the debut story of The Eye Sees by zapping the picture with your lightnings.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Know your own mind!

More bad, dated advice from romance comic books written by old men with Mommy issues.

The illustration for #1 seems kind of odd, showing what I take to be the Mom walking off with two men.

From Love Problems and Advice, Illustrated #2 (August 1949).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I am, I said

There. Now you exist again and because of the internet can not be forgotten.

For the search engines: Murray P. Lorse, Connie Scheel, Bina Mortenson.

Various owner's book plate and inscriptions found in a copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales (Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1883). Bought in a used book store in San Diego, California a few days ago.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pulp Sleestak

The moment she walked into my office through the door I forgot the first rule of detective work: Never trust a beautiful dame. There was something about her. Something special and I could sense it right away. She came breezing in on a cloud of expensive French perfume, all blond and soft curves and sharp, high cheekbones. From the way she was dressed I could tell she could afford an entire team of private dicks so if she came to a skid row P.I. like me it could only be for two reasons: She was desperate and had a secret.

"I was referred to you by a mutual acquaintance, Mr. Sleestak. You come highly recommended as a person who could get things done quietly and with out fuss. I can't afford this problem to be a matter of public fodder for the gossip columns."

"Why don't we start with your name." I said. I didn't bother to correct her notion about keeping things quiet. A lot of my cases usually ended with a lot of noise. The kind of noise that comes from the business end of a gun. I motioned her to a chair and she reluctantly took a seat. She was high class, that was for sure. She was almost able to keep the expression of distaste of her angelic face as she settled onto the chair. I wasn't one for housecleaning. I was sure that this skirt would burn her dress the first chance she got.

"I'm Susan Evers." She said. I knew the name. The famous, or should I say infamous Evers Family had their fingers in all kinds of pies in this town. She was rich. Real rich. "My estranged sister is out to destroy the family."

"Go on." I urged her, taking another drink from the bottle of cheap bourbon I always keep on hand in my desk. I tipped the bottle towards her in a silent offer of a drink, but she ignored my gesture. My already high estimation of her went up a couple of notches.

"As you may know, my family does not always get along." Miss Evers began. "In fact, my parents divorced early and fought for controlling interests in the family holdings for decades. Since in the event of their passing the family money and business goes to us children, my sister and I where used as weapons by each parent to control the other. My mother and sister, Sharon, who is my exact twin by the way, moved to England shortly after the divorce. It is only recently come to my attention that Sharon has been attempting to take control of the business by undermining my influence."

Getting mixed up in family problems was always bad news for a detective. Too much emotion and not enough facts cloud the issue. I've seen this before. People say it's about right and wrong but in the end it always come down to one thing. Greed. I nodded. "So why come to me? This seems like more of a matter for a shyster and not a low-rent gumshoe."

"I wish I could use the courts, but all the lawyers are being manipulated and some of them are in on the plan. Sharon has already impersonated me a number of times and is always one step ahead of my own team. Sharon signs paperwork and makes appearances as me and if I attempt to reverse one of "my" decisions I look weak, foolish or ineffective to the board of directors. That plays right into Sharon's hands."

"Mr. Sleestak, The shareholder's meeting is in two weeks and for the first time in 20 years our parents will be living under the same roof for the duration. It was Sharon's idea that we all get together. We will all be one big "happy family" again until the proxy vote is over and I'm worried that Sharon has laid some kind of trap for our parents. My fear is that Sharon will take that opportunity murder them and me in order to take control of the family business."

She started to cry then, and dabbed delicately at her tears with a lace handkerchief. At that point I knew that little bit of cloth was the luckiest silk to ever be extruded from the bowels of a caterpillar. If I had one weakness it was when a dame starts with the waterworks. She looked up at me. "I need your help to get the proof I need to stop Sharon, Mr. Sleestak. Will you take the case?"

"Yesssss." I said. "Call me Slee."

See the original cover here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

If I told you what was going on here

...I'd have to incarcerate you award you the Medal of Freedom and give you cash and a free house. Because that's how innocent this all is and I'd hate for my actions to be misconstrued because someone leaked an image from a photo-op session before I was prepared to make the news public.

Suffice it to say that this official Sleestak for President photograph has nothing to do with the rumors of a Hayley Mills Celebratory North American Geosynchronous Orbiting Space Platform and everything to do with National Security for all of those honest, loyal, patriotic Americans who support America and all that is truly patriotic and Americanist.

Carl Shannon

“The desk calendar said March twenty-fourth. It could have said any other day and the same thing might have happened. That is, I could have become mixed up with the painted skull. Still, if I had just skipped March twenty-fourth – say been on a big party and not sobered up – maybe I would have missed a lot of unpleasant things. Well, I didn’t miss March twenty-fourth, so I didn’t miss the damned skull or the trail of violence along which it gyrated.”

- From Lady, That's My Skull by Carl Shannon

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who says female comic book characters are not empowered?

In this one-page Canteen Kate strip, Kate defends the military base where she is assigned from invading North Korean soldiers and she does it armed only with a club!

Just kidding. Actually, our girl Kate wields a rolling pin as her weapon of choice and enters the fray while wearing shorts and an unbuttoned man's shirt to defeat the enemy with sexy cuteness!
At least she engaged the enemy on her own! That must count for something. Perhaps Kate was honored with a new kitchen mop for her bravery.

From Anchors Andrews #1 (January 1953). Art contributed by the famous Matt (It Rhymes With Lust) Baker.

Grocery Store Artifact: Wish I could sell this online

While in the employee restroom the other day I noticed that in the patterns of wood grain of the storage closet door there appeared an image of the terrible face and sucking mouth-parts of the vengeful mosquito god Culicidaenus-the-Destroyer.

I thought Culicidaenus-the-Destroyer making itself known in that fashion was a fascinating portent and an omen of great significance for the unbelievers and shallow, tainted fools who inhabit the earth only at His sufferance. I thought it remarkable because up to that day the image used to be that of Jesus.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Conserve water!

One of the greatest challenges the people of California must overcome is our dependence on water. Waste abounds and it is up to us as citizens to conserve water wherever we can.

But what can one average environmentally-concerned citizen do about water waste? Not much, actually. Starbucks leaves their taps running constantly in their sinks and at the filtered water spout so just about anything that the populace of California could do to conserve water is a pointless exercise in ego. Wealthy people in their enclaves are not required to conserve and do not face the same fines and penalties that the average person will suffer if they wash their car or take a bath.
As one can see from the handy graph, the majority of water use in California is from the use of huge amounts of running water used in torture by the Government. Namely, the practice of waterboarding of prisoners and persons-of-interest. Alarmingly, much of California's many huge reservoirs and inland seas full of pure water are being diverted to other states for use in criminal investigations. This would not be such an environmental disaster for California if the waterboarding in question remained within the borders of the state. This is not the case, however. Since most of the water used during torture is drained into the municipal systems of other states it is not recycled back into the environment through the original aquifers and reservoirs from which it was taken. The wholesale exporting of California's precious blue gold in such quantities has unimaginable repercussions for the California environment that we can only speculate about.

This NASA satellite image reveals just how much the once pristine Lake Shriver in the Silicon Valley region of California is being affected by rampant waterboarding in just one year. Millions of gallons per day are being diverted to Arizona Traffic Courts, Wisconsin Mayoral offices, various State Capital buildings, secret prisons and the warehouse were the fake moon landing was filmed. If the exporting of water for use during torture continues unabated then in as little as a year Lake Shriver will be a barren desert devoid of life.

It is a fact that the lack of available water in Southern California was the main reason that the recent 2007 San Diego fires burned out of control for so long.
So demand that your politicians stop the use of exporting our important resources for the waterboarding of non-persons and people that don't speak good English. It is what is good for California. And America. And you.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Countdown to Adventure #3 - Fixed it for you

Here's the cover of DC's 52 & Countdown spin-off, Countdown to Adventure #3 (December 2007), with the art scanslated to more reflect more accurately what DC is really selling to readers.

Hint: It ain't drama.

And to make the marketing-to-frustrated-fans attempt all the more blatant, Starfire is wearing more clothes inside the book than on the cover.