Friday, July 31, 2009

Lord of the Diorama

Show your work.

Click to make mighty like Tantor!

From the tabloid-sized DC Limited Collector's Edition C-22 (1973).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Is Not A Blog Post

Say Anything - Not A Pipe

Really, Marvel?

It's been long established Jennifer Walters has always gotten more than the usual kick out of fisticuffs and the Sentry cuts a fine figure so who can blame a girl for getting all enthusiastic, but...

Hard enough to score concrete?

Oh, and it doesn't matter what font you write it in, Earth-8009 will always look like Earth-BOOB at first glance.

Like that was a coincidence.

Images from Savage She-Hulk #4 (September 2009), only one was manipulated. Guess which one.

Monday, July 27, 2009


LP circa 1956, if the date on the license plate from Stupidlandia is any indication.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rolling Back The Years

Before Rick Marshall met his terrible end by bouncing off the steep walls of the Grand Canyon he made a few detours through time and space courtesy of the same rip in the fabric of the universe our favorite World War 1 era puppy Schatzi fell through way back in Star Spangled War Stories #148.

Who loves a retcon? That's right, we all do! When a retcon is mashed-up with a cross-over then it is like Blogiversary in July!

Yep, I started this site on this date back in July 2005. Or was it 1992? You never know with a retcon!

Thanks to all those who linked, read, supported, critiqued, ignored, picked-apart and gave advice over the years.

Special thanks to Marionette, Bully and his pal John, Dr. Zauis and Comics Should Be Good.

If I left anyone out it is because I suck but rest assured I appreciate all you did, even that one mean guy I won't mention, because whatever little I do is better because of it.

Shock and Oa

Here is some comic book trivia to impress your friends with: In the 1960s revival of Green Lantern, the character that helped usher in the Silver Age of Comics the author of the series (Presumably John Broome) named the planet headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps as Oa, which is situated at the center of the fictional DC universe.

Why John Broome chose that combination rather than make up a silly alien barely-pronounceable word can only be speculated but it is likely that the name of Oa was created by placing together the number Zero and the letter A, with the number and letter being pronounced in the long form as "Oh-Ah".

This was probably no accident. The name is derived from the physical coordinates of the planet, being at the center of the universe, that of Zero/A. It's really clever and obvious on the part of the creative team and I feel embarrassed to realize that if I ever read about or figured out the origin of the name of the planet before this I subsequently forgot all about it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

And here's a puppy floating in a plane

Of course there is a Hayley Mills & Schatzi version. Duh.

Click the picture to beat the Russians!

From The World Around Us - SPACE (January 1951).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Facial appearance turns healthy-looking, natural and EVIL

Adding an atom-powered evil electronic brain to anything makes it awesome.

Soap Opera Love #3 (June 1983).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Look to the past for the solution to DADT

While it is true that women have always performed admirably in the United States Military it was also true that many job fields were restricted to men. The reasons for excluding women from some duties are numerous but primarily it was due to the mostly male opinion that some jobs are too hazardous or physical for women and are better left to their male counterparts to perform.

In the 1980s the decision was made to open many fields to women that previously excluded them. Some of these fields were at the time "proof-of-concept" exercises. Many positions were strictly for training and personnel placement purposes as females were as yet not allowed into actual combat. While this decision to include women in certain squad duties was a positive step forwards in equal treatment, at the time the integration of females into some fields was an unpopular move with many in the service.

This was particularly evident in parts of the military where the majority of the job tasks did not take place in a traditional office and required greater physical labor and longer hours at work. It was directed that of every unit a certain percentage of women be trained for combat positions. While this was not as great an upset in some branches of the military in the Air Force it was particularly problematic for some. Those who had no predilection for certain tasks were suddenly given a new duty simply because of their gender. In usual circumstances an individual is tested early in their career as to what job they are best suited for. Typically the ability of the soldier is matched with the requirements of the service and hopefully everything works out to everyone's benefit. Since the program was in an the early stages many people had no chance to be screened to see if they could be of benefit to the service in that particular position. There were great successes and spectacular failures but today very few people doubt that a woman could function in a combat position.

But in the beginnings of the program, certain peacetime combat positions, which for the Military Police meant training and certification on certain heavy weapons and other systems, were more desirable than others. Often a certification with some systems and weapons meant that during training exercises and deployments instead of being marooned (often for days) in inclement weather on a concrete pad in the middle of nowhere the lucky soldier was able to ride in climate controlled vehicles, go home at night, eat hot meals and just have a better over-all experience than the other grunts who were out busting their humps with boring, though necessary, physical labor and training.

The aspect that many in the field resented was that women were becoming certified in systems and with weapons that traditionally went to male members of the service. What this meant for the average grunt was that during exercises and training the women of the squadron were suddenly taken from their usual duties and temporarily placed into the more desirable posts. The men felt ripped-off and rightly so. They were the ones who, after all, put in all the extra work required servicing heavy weapons on a daily basis and they were abruptly exiled to the less-desirable duties while the female newbies got to relax a bit during exercises and deployments. Training deployments that included women in combat positions they would not at that time work in during an actual conflict caused a lot of resentment among the troops. The sentiment among many was that they got tossed aside for what amounted to a series of photo-ops at the expense of those who had already paid their dues.

The military recognized what was happening among the ranks and quickly took steps to rectify the hostility and reduced morale. That women would eventually serve as equals in combat is inevitable. It has worked with great success in many armed forces around the world. That women being assigned to combat roles has been slow to happen in the United States Military is not the fault of the ability of the individual soldier, but that of leadership.

When grumbling was heard about women being assigned to duties they would not actually perform in a conflict it was initially resolved by someone high up the chain of command dropping the hammer on all of those those below them. From the top down it was made abundantly clear that women would be training for combat positions. Women will be treated with the same respect due any other member of the military. The same standards will apply to everyone. If they can't hack it then that is what retraining and perhaps administrative discharges are for. Basically, any unhappy GI was told to shut up and deal with it. It was a new military and new challenges were on the horizon.

Which brings us to the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Long ago the military recognized a fact that they were very uncomfortable with: Many soldiers were homosexual. Equally troubling to the leadership was the reality that the majority of these soldiers served with distinction and were far from a liability to a unit. Ask any VA nurse off the record how many of their patients are gay and the answer will invariably be "Lots of them."

Loathe to lose valuable and experienced resources the regulations about homosexual service members were changed. A member of the armed forces could serve as long as they kept their preferences a secret. It was a controversial decision and the debate continues to this very day and usually to the detriment of the military. The current President pledged to overturn DADT early in his administration but due to political pressure or inertia among the branches of the service has either delayed doing so for the foreseeable future or is taking it far slower than some people would like. None of this is a matter of anyone's idea of right or wrong or if they are pro, con or indifferent. This trancends all of that. It is a matter of human rights and human dignity.

As history has proven time and again outmoded, bigoted rules have hurt the ability of the American military to defend the country. Pilots that were desperately needed in combat by the Allied war effort in the 1940s were delegated to minor duties because they were African-American. During and after WW2 the people of Japanese and Philippine decent were considered untrustworthy to serve. A translator specializing in middle-eastern languages and whose work is of vital importance to intelligence gathering, is discharged because he is gay. What is overlooked is that none of this is rin reality a matter of anyone's idea of right or wrong or if they are pro, con or indifferent. This trancends all of that. It is a matter of human rights and human dignity.

It is long past time that DADT was rescinded. The arguments against this being done are many and they are the same old tired tropes with only the name changed. There are claims that openly gay soldiers are bad for morale and will harm the effectiveness of a unit and the ability to succeed in a mission. The same claims were once made of African-Americans, the Japanese and women. These claims are true after a fashion not because of the soldier's preferences, skin color or gender but rather the cultural environment they exist in, and then only if it is tolerated by leadership. Overcoming the ignorance and entrenched ideas of such a large collective as the US Military takes decades, if ever. Soldiers take to regulations quickly but change their minds slowly.

What is required to enact change is for decisive action to be taken once and for all by those in charge. In the 1980s soldiers that had a continuing problem working with women in combat roles found themselves facing administrative charges or getting shown the door. Attitudes changed after a while and male soldiers began asking why they were the only ones getting shot at and opined that women should serve in combat along side them taking the same risks and garnering the same rewards. Gradually convincing each and every service member that gay soldiers can serve openly without destroying America isn't going to work. We need every able-bodied person we can get and we need to keep them. As with the manner in which women were successfully integrated into a greater role in the services this is also how homosexuality will finally be decriminalized in the United States Military.

What is required for DADT to be eradicated is a leader to cut an order that each and every person in our military from the top down must obey, and it boils down to this: Treat everyone the same, or face the consequences.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Is Sexual Harassment 'Sexy' Enough Now?

I wonder how the organizers of the 2009 San Diego Comic Con will handle any incidents of inappropriate or criminal behavior by out-of-control attendees this year? As noted elsewhere, Twilight fans comprising mostly of young women might be flooding the Con. If the ridiculous, perhaps unintentional but wholly negligent "3 Monkeys" policy of the last year carries over to this event then that is sure to have negative results.

Hopefully the Convention Center and Con organizers will be a little pro-active this time around and lay out some basic rules of good behavior for anyone attending. They should if they have any idea of what would be good for their financial future and more importantly what is simply moral and ethical. The press ignored the reported incidents of last year (probably due to there being no police involvement and that the story wasn't 'sexy' enough for them) but if anything untoward occurs this time I suspect the victims' lawyers and the media will descend upon the Comic Con and Convention Center boards like a Millennium Falcon cargo-hold of fanboys on a long box of discounted 90s X-Men comics.

Button: Con Anti-Harassment Project

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Took you blokes long enough

Perhaps I've watched the Village of the Damned too many times but I really find British children to be scary as hell. When I first saw the classic science fiction film based upon the novel The Midwich Cuckoos I didn't know the kids were soul-less mutants. I just thought they were normal private school kids.

From the weirdly misplaced English girl in that United States farm belt town in Superman 2 pleading with Kryptonian criminals for her father to be spared (I mean, why was she there? What awful mission was she undertaking? Couldn't she leave her evil in Britain where it belonged?) and the Empty Child in Doctor Who, popular culture is full of references to inherently evil children from the UK. It says something about a society when all the mainstream entertainment depicts the parents as terrified of their progeny. Maybe being proficient in Latin and having good pronunciation opens the soul to terrible forces that are only exorcised after puberty.

There are rare exceptions of course. Hayley Mills is so darned adorable at any age she has remained pure and untouched by evil.

Hmm....Perhaps she is the reason why all those Brit Kiddies never managed to destroy humanity? A look at the Hayley Mills time line reveals certain facts. While it is difficult and extremely unpleasant to imagine a time before Hayley existed what is clear is that British youngsters have been around causing misery for at least 300 years. Look at the facts: Before Hayley was born there were Nazis, war and famine. After she was born there was no European conflict to speak of, the Reich was in ruins and there were a lot more puppies and flowers around. It all makes perfect and adorable sense.

'Nuff Gestured

Click image to make handy-sized!

Confused? Frightened of a strange new language? Don't be. Here is the translation for the ASL-impared:

Scene [Daytime, around noon]:

Exterior of a busy suburban grocery store. Adjacent to the doors there are several people loitering. One carries a bucket and shoves it in front of every person going into and out of the store. Change jingles in the bucket. He is disheveled in appearance. A table is set up on the other side of the entrance. Two people, a young man and woman, are asking people to sign a petition and make donations. They appear to be hippies.

A husband and wife walk from their car hand-in-hand towards the entrance. As they approach, the man releases the hand of the woman and begins to speak to her in American Sign Language.
A conversation ensues.

Husband: I think we should fly left. But I think yes to no, no, no.

Wife: What?

Husband: Maybe, maybe. But what do you think about yesterday?

Wife: What?

Husband: True, true. But Mom and Dad do North.

Wife: Are you crazy?

Scene [Interior]:

The husband and wife couple enter the store. The husband pauses for a moment until they are well inside the building and the doors close.

Husband: If all those salesmen and beggars in front of the store think we can't hear, then they won't bother us and we can get into the store without being hassled for signatures and money.

Wife: You are bad!

Husband: Yeah, bad like a FOX!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Reverse Evolution

The Transformation of Henry Limpet

The Incredible Mr. Limpet

Monday, July 06, 2009

Kissing Dolls

Flipping through some old comics a few days ago and came across this advertisement for novelty "kissing" dolls. Shocking!

It appears the Comics Code Authority wasn't as strict in their oversight about the content of comic books when it came to advertisements. Not very surprising since the same board had no problem letting a comic book run ads for Raquel Welch inflatable love pillows.

Original from Love Romances #103 (August 1963).

Sunday, July 05, 2009

And the winner for Creepiest or Most Disturbing Art on a Comic Book Cover Ever goes to...

"YOUNG LOVE #74 from way back in June 1969!"

(clap clap clap clap clap)

"With us today is artist Nick Cardy, who drew what is overwhelmingly the most awkward cover scene ever to grace a comic book! It's a real work of art, folks! The nubile, emotionally distraught daughter with her breasts in her Father's lap, the pensive, thousand-yard stare of the father into the distance, legs crossed, arms frozen as if he was too embarrassed to move for fear of the discovery of a terrible, embarrassing secret. A true classic and I'm squirming just looking at it. How ever did you do it, Nick?"

"It wasn't easy. Presenting raw sexual imagery as something innocent and pure is a heck of a balancing act. Like most of my fellow artists in the biz we had a lot of experience sneaking questionable content past the CCA censors but the editor kept rejecting the preliminary sketches I sent him. He'd say: 'Too innocent! Not sexy enough! Too sexy, want to get me fired? Not enough innuendo! Too MUCH innuendo!' The cost of mailing all the artwork was nearly my ruin. We didn't have the internet back then. Human messengers actually risked life and limb running through busy New York streets to deliver the artwork on time! Some died, even, I'm told."

"But it was totally worth it! You had some stiff competition considering you were up against every comic published in the 1990s. All that hard work really paid off!"

"Yeah, I finally nailed the cover but I had to think about baseball a lot."

"Nick Cardy, folks!"

(clap clap clap clap clap)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Bane of Toastmasters

Here is the Schoolhouse Rock educational video from 1975 that ensured that no one of my generation will ever be able to recite the Preamble of the Unites States Constitution without unintentionally speak-singing it.

Vocals by Lynn Ahrens

I can't tell how many times I have heard someone stretch out the words when saying the phrase "The-uuhhhh-uh-uhhh United States of...America." Such is the power of the insidious meme.

Happy July 4th!

Not Enough Explosions If You Ask Me

On principle I dislike the 1980s Transformers and GI Joe cartoons. Not because they were in reality little more than infomercials pushing a line of cheap toys but because the makers intentionally stifled creativity. A kid was handed a set of toys complete with canonical back story and told to play. There were the good guys and the ugly, evil, weaselly, terrorist bad guys. The toys were specifically designed to leave little room for the imagination. Any kid I knew who had those toys typically became bored with them in about five minutes.

The original GI Joe toys were patriotic heroes, sure, but that is as far as it went. You bought a Joe and then as the owner you did with it what you wanted, put him into whatever scenario you could think of during play. Since every kid in the neighborhood had one it was just a matter of deciding who would be the "losing" side when it was time to go home for dinner when the streetlights came on. Sometimes my doll wasn't even a soldier. On occasion he'd be wrapped in foil and frozen in a block of ice that I allowed to slowly melt in the backyard over a day or two. The idea was that my Joe was an astronaut who crash landed on a mysterious, hostile alien planet and had to use his wits to survive after he came out of suspended animation. I didn't read a lot of Dick and Jane as a kid. The majority of my reading was from old SF novels and pulp adventure stories.

Not that kids of the 80s and later don't do with their toys whatever they want, but in that era the option was designed out and since the figures had little or no articulation there was no naturally organic way to play with them other than in the way the maker intended. One aspect of toys that is the bane of anyone manufacturing one is that often the child will get hours of fun not from the plaything itself but from the cardboard box it arrived in. Companies know this and dream of the day a toy will fascinate a child as much as the discarded packaging. Companies have also over the last several decades continually designed themselves farther and farther away from the concept of a toy that will continually capture the imagination and dollars from the parental pockets.

That said I don't really dislike the Transformers films. They are far enough away from the original idea of the cartoon series to interest a new audience while not totally alienating the old one. I liked the second film more than the first in spite of the ill-considered inclusion of the Ghetto-Bots and the blatant exploitation of females, but then the creative team was unashamedly going right for the core demographic of young males. From what I saw of most of the audience they were thoroughly enjoying every scene with Megan Fox, the blond Megan Fox clone and wise-cracking robots blowing stuff up. The story, such as it was, made sense and continued ideas put forth in the initial film. I'm one of those who are pretty happy to get any science fiction films at all and since the best SF on television right now seems to be contained in commercials for cars and juice box drinks I was pretty satisfied with the movie as a whole. There was enough there to allow a viewer to read into scenes and expect there is a wider universe to the Transformers saga without having to explain and spell out each and every little thing like the audience is full of six year old children who don't get a sight gag in an old Warner Bros. cartoon unless it is repeated two to three times.

Many critics have blasted Michael Bay for making a film that is nothing but explosions, breasts and possibly exploding breasts. But then what one expect a war between giant robots with no regard for the human ants under their feet to look like? I left the theater surprised there were only a million explosions instead of a gajillion.