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Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 in comics, some brief comments on many things that deserve longer comments

So, comics in 2009. Sure were a lot of those, in all forms.

A look at Jack Kirby related publications for the year (highlighted by a massive book of Simon&Kirby reprints)
And the same for Steve Ditko (100+ pages of new comics, some new essays and Mr. A. reprint)

Those two creators aside, book of the year is the all-new BEANWORLD BOOK 3 - REMEMBER HERE WHEN YOU ARE THERE.  Runner up is BEANWORLD BOOK 1 - WAHOOLAZUMA, collecting the earliest Beanworld adventures.  And in a surprise third place showing is BEANWORLD BOOK 2 - A GIFT COMES, collecting the balance of the original series.

Okay, I suppose you could make a case that for me, at least, Larry Marder should get the same disqualification as Kirby and Ditko (look up where the name of this weblog comes from...).  Much more on the new Beanworld from me later, either here or on Gunk'l'dunk.

Those three creators aside,

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 in film/tv/music

So, 2009, that sure was a year, all right.  Anyway, even though most things released in 2009 that I'll encounter in some later year (just as most things I encountered in 2009 were released earlier), it's a convenient arbitrary dividing point.  Comics related stuff later this week, let's see what we have on everything else I meant to talk about.

Movies, I only saw three new movies during the year.  I think that's a new low.  The movie-going experience just isn't worth it.  CORALINE I talked about briefly before, in the context of how it compared to the original novel and the comic book adaptation.  It fared poorly in the comparison, though I guess on its own I'd have to say it's an okay kids movie.

And I saw STAR TREK.  Yeah, I know.  Didn't pay for it, if that helps... Anyway, I'm not a huge Trek fan at the best of times (I did watch the original series as a kid, and liked it, but the last few times I tried found I couldn't sit through an episode.  I liked a few of the original cast movies, and the middle seasons of Next Generation, everything else I only watched sporadically and at most just mildly entertained me).  This movie didn't really have the spirit of those aspects of Trek that I liked.  I'm not sure how i feel about the gimmick of how it tied in to the original series, and might have preferred they just did a clean start rather than that (though losing Nimoy would lose some of the better bits). On the other hand, unlike CORALINE, which I think I'd have liked a bit more if it wasn't based on something I was familiar with and had some fondness for, I think I'd have liked TREK a bit less if it had been a wholly original movie, as a number of the enjoyable moments are the odd bits where they echo the original, and Nimoy as Spock is always fun.

Which, oddly, makes the best new movie I saw in 2009 Sam Raimi's DRAG ME TO HELL.  Wow, did not see that coming.  Before Mr. Raimi starts working on his acceptance speech, let me remind you of how limited the sample set for this voter was.  Overall I think the movie was just on the wrong side of good, with some mostly mediocre acting and a twist that pretty predictable, though exactly how it played out was a nice change from the normal.  But it had a sense of fun, and was a nice throwback, however inferior, to Raimi's earlier movies.

Next, how about music.  That'll be quick.  Man, am I out of the loop when it comes to new music.  All I got in this category are the two albums that Bob Dylan released in the year. CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART is a collection of Christmas standards.  Yes, really.  Nothing great, and a few of the songs are really way too sentimental for Dylan, but mostly listenable, and his versions of "The Christmas Song" and "Hark, Harold Angel Sings" are actually pretty good.  His original album of the year was TOGETHER THROUGH LIFE, with most of the songs co-written with the Grateful Dead's Robert Hunter.  I haven't really listened to it that much, but so far nothing really seems like something I'd include in a Dylan all-time best compilation, but "Forgetful Heart" and "Life is Hard" are pretty good.

Let's see, television.  My favourite regular show right now is COMMUNITY.  It's a pretty fresh sitcom with some decent characters and funny writing.  I do find myself hoping that it doesn't really become a hit, and just gets two or three struggling years before cancellation.  Not that I don't like it, but I look at what's become of shows like THE OFFICE, 30 ROCK, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and SCRUBS in their most recent years (I get around to watching them when I'm bored as new episodes show up on my DVR, but not with any sense of urgency or multiple times as I would have with better episodes of earlier seasons), and I wonder if it's even possible for a sitcom to maintain any level of quality for more than three or four years. I kind of shudder to think what ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT would be like if it was still running (I just rewatched the whole series over the last month, man that was good).

In non-sitcom viewing, I didn't really like anything I tried this year.  I'm looking forward to CHUCK returning eventually, it ended on a pretty good run last season.

Other than that, I still get my news from Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, and the comedy take on the same from Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

False advertisting

Oh, that Archie, such a card.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Irving Tripp, R.I.P.

Steve Bissette passes along the sad news that Irving Tripp passed away a few weeks ago. Tripp worked on a number of features for the Dell/Western kids comics from the 1940s to the 1980s, of course best known for his work on Little Lulu, first with John Stanley and then continuing with other writers. Bissette has an article about the Lulu work over here, with Tripp's obituary down in the comments.

Monday, December 07, 2009

First sign of snow today

Just a sprinkling, much later than you usually see snow in these parts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

That's what Mr. A says

Rex Graine
Mr. A

If his words don't convince you, his fists will do the talking

Steve Ditko's MR. A, now available.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sergio Aragones' Dia De Los Muertos [1998]

(this is an old post which for some inexplicable reason gets a lot of hits this time of year, so I figured I might as well bring it up front, update it slightly and add some scans that emphasize Los Muertos)

Sergio Aragones' Dia De Los Muertos [1998]

The whole Groo crew (Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier, Stan Sakai and Tom Luth) took some time between Groo mini-series in 1998 to do this one-shot special about the Mexican "Day of the Dead". It has a bit of an odd structure, beginning with Aragones narrating the story directly to the readers during a trip to Mexico, where he's having trouble getting a hotel room. He spends a few pages giving us the background of the traditions surrounding the Day.

After that he comes across some American tourists looking for a genuine Mexican experience, unlike all those places overrun with American tourists. For the price of some drinks he tells them the story of San Pascual, an unspoiled Mexican village which was found by a film crew looking for some footage. The film crew winds up attacked by zombies who cause their truck to crash for disturbing their slumber, but their footage survives and catches the attention of an American businessman who decides that a "Day of the Dead" is just what he needs for his struggling theme park. So he buys the village, cemetery and all, and moves it to the grounds of his park in the US.

That has the usual consequences moving dead bodies has in horror comics, especially bodies that already have a history of coming back as zombies. And then Aragones wraps up the story with an unexpected callback to the first scene.

This is one of my favourite of the non-Groo books done by the Groo crew, and is well worth picking up. I thought having Aragones as the narrator worked out pretty well, as he's a pretty colourful character with more personality than most horror comics hosts. I'm looking forward to the latest Groo series by the team (The Hogs of Hordor), and the reprints of the oldest Groo material in some big fat editions (The Groo Treasury v1), but I wouldn't mind seeing the occasional Groo-free project by them as well.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Great Pumpkin Day

Charles M. Schulz

Sheldon Mayer, SUGAR & SPIKE #31

Curt Swan and George Klein, ADVENTURE COMICS #294


E.E. Hibbard, FLASH COMICS #78

still Charles M. Schulz

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Salman Rushdie on Aquaman, Kryptonite

Salman Rushdie, interviewed by Craig Ferguson, go to about the 36 minute mark (if the video doesn't start there automatically) and he mentions being asked to write a graphic novel, then talks about Aquaman and Superman.

Note he gets his facts wrong on Kryptonite. Green Kryptonite weakens and can kill Superman. Red Kryptonite has random unpredictable results (like giving him the head of an ant). It's Gold Kryptonite which takes away his powers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lone Rock and Cub

God, do I loves me some Kanigher/Kubert war comics...

Full page, bigger size, up at Heritage.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Facekick Friday starring Mr. A

In the unlikely event that you read this weblog but don't read the Ditko Weblog we (meaning I) also run, you might be interested in the soon to be released MR. A reprint, which you can order now, along with many other Steve Ditko comics.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Care for a bite...

You know, it's really that mountain valley lake water topping that really makes the Traveler's continental crust pie irresistible. Galactus just couldn't get enough of it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

58 Years Ago...

"There's a law that says it's gotta come in 5s and 10s, what?"

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Animal Rights Activist Mark Martin

Here are four images by Mark Martin published in Eclipse's BORN TO BE WILD back in 1991, a benefit book for PETA. Mark's recently repainted over those images and posted the results over on his blog (and on his Facebook page if you're on that).  So compare and contrast.  And go tell Mark that he really should let me post his classic "The Story of Beef" from CRITTERS...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 14

Most of Sheldon Mayer's published work in the 1970s was scripting various anthology stories, but he also drew a lot of Rudolph stories, most of them in various large tabloid format comics, and on the other side of the spectrum this digest release.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 13

I always thought a full book of just Sheldon Mayer's one page stories for SUGAR&SPIKE would be neat. Well, I think any reprint of them would be neat, but that idea even moreso than most...

Monday, August 31, 2009

On the news of the day...

Here for the story behind this image, and the other version of the image that was actually published in the book it was intended for.

Oh, and for those reading this 32 years in the future, Disney announced its intention to buy Marvel, pending approval. And to right thinking people, Jack Kirby's art style pretty much defines Marvel as Mickey Mouse does Disney.

Monday Morning Mayer 12

A lesser known Sheldon Mayer character is J. Rufus Lion D.S.P (Definitely Some Phoney), along with his nephew Arsenic. The character ran for a while, but only a few early stories in early issues of FUNNY STUFF were done by Mayer. One of them is reprinted in the new Mouly/Spiegelman edited THE TOON TREASURY OF CLASSIC CHILDREN'S COMICS anthology, along with three Sugar&Spike stories, the first Three Mouseketeers story and some Scribbly from ALL-AMERICAN COMICS. Also a good sampling of work by Carl Barks, John Stanley and Walt Kelly, and a few dozen other cartoonists, some of whom you may never have heard of. Great looking book, more on it later.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 11

Sheldon Mayer, as he appeared in the mid-1970s adaptation of the Bible that he wrote for DC, with Nestor Redondo, Joe Kubert and Joe Orlando.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 10

The fourth wall means nothing to Bernie the Brain, a clever later addition to Sheldon Mayer's SUGAR & SPIKE series who opened up a few new types of stories for the characters to engage in.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 9

Sheldon Mayer's major funny animal features of the 1950s were Dizzy Dog, Doodles Duck, Bo Bunny and (later in the decade) the Three Mouseketeers. Less well known, early in the decade there was also Li'l Chick-a-Dee in the mix, a cute enough character but not as much personality as the rest, so not too surprising that there were only a half-dozen stories for the character.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 8

You just know this isn't going to end well for Fatsy, intrepid leader of Sheldon Mayer's Three Mouseketeers. It never does.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In Ditko's world, sometimes justice takes the form of a kick to the face...

From Steve Ditko's latest, DITKO PRESENTS, now available if you give your consent to an exchange of your honestly earned $ for his honestly produced comics.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 7

Today we have Patsy, the oft-maligned middle member of Sheldon Mayer's Three Mouseketeers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Miracleman

Was leafing through my old issues of MIRACLEMAN with the current news, and was always amused by this panel.

I wonder if I start re-reading them now, one issue a month, if I'll be done by the time all the legal issues are resolved, and everyone's schedule matches up to finally get the story continuing to #25 and beyond...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hey, actual Marvelman/Miracleman news...

So, apparently Marvel Comics has announced that they've either purchased or licensed [edit: purchased outright, it seems] Mick Anglo's rights to Marvelman, and will be bringing him back (under that name) in the future, with reprints and new stories. The article mentions that Mark Buckingham was in attendance at the announcement, which is a good sign that the new stories would be done the right way.

So I guess that's okay. Marvel's not the ideal publisher, other than clearing a potential obstacle on using the original name, but there's a chance that they'll be hands-off.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 6

Well, evening, since I apparently can't read a calendar...

Minus, greatest of the Three Mouseketeers, always prepared.

Art by Sheldon Mayer.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jughead's Soul Food

I'm not a religious man, but I think if someone had used something like this to sell God to me when I was nine years old...

I'd have bought into it hook, line and sinker.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Desert Peach webcomic

Donna Barr has been re-presenting THE DESERT PEACH as a daily webcomic, starting from the beginning, and also offering new print-on-demand editions of the early issues as she goes along, as well as high resolution digital editions. First issue starts over here, latest page over here. A great series, I've been re-reading it lately as I finally got the few issues I was missing, either in print or from here, and it's as good as ever.  Added bonus in the new on-line presentation, Barr has some commentary on every page, which sometimes expands or the origin or evolution of the characters and concepts.

Monday Morning Mayer 5

Part of how we would have been introduced to Sugar and Spike (and they'd have been introduced to each other) in the newspapers if Sheldon Mayer's circa 1960 strip proposal had borne fruit.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 4

I generally think of Bo Bunny as the least of Mayer's major funny animal features, but he's still generally entertainingly dumb.

By Sheldon Mayer, from PETER PORKCHOPS #51 [1957].

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hey, it was the fifties, they didn't know any better (and the art is nice)

So, back in the 1950s, not only did Marvel do a 46-issue series devoted to dumb blonde jokes:

(based on the radio show MY FRIEND IRMA, which also led to the movie of the name that first teamed Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who got their own series from DC not long after)

But right after it was cancelled they went right on with an 11-issue series which is pretty much the same thing with the serial numbers filed off:

No real point, I just enjoy the Dan DeCarlo artwork.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Betty and Veronica "poetry"

There's something a bit creepy about a lot of early BETTY AND VERONICA covers, like this one from #4, 1951, but I guess that's what you get when mostly middle aged men try to write about and for teenage girls. Add in the art, which is before the house-style that I think of when I think Archie was quite nailed down.

Back to posting something except old covers soon...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Poor Big Red Cheese...

You'd think wholesome old Captain Marvel wouldn't get in situations like this...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Comics I didn't know existed...

And now find I can't live without.

Actually, looks like it would be pretty pricey even if I could find a copy, so I guess I'll have to live just fine without it. Still, seeing that cover sure did dig up some memories. What a weird little cartoon. Must be over 25 years since I've seen it, but I could still remember the theme song and the voices.

Not available on home video, apparently, or showing on any channel I get, but not surprisingly you can see a bunch of them on the UTube.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Donald Duck, Jack of all Trades

Looking at a bunch of old Disney covers for something, lots of good ones, but this one really cracked me up.

Of course, the colour scheme on this cover doesn't match the usual way of telling the nephews apart, but the kids seem happy so I assume Donald didn't screw up.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 3

Though his earliest stories were by Howie Post, Doodles Duck is one of the DC funny animals most associated with Mayer.

Here he is with Gus the Goose, a frequent foil for him, from Leading Screen Comics #62 [1953] by Sheldon Mayer.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The problem with modern comics...

They just don't hold the promise of excitement like the classics...

What kid doesn't want to read about exciting shoe polishing action?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

LIGHT OF THY COUNTENANCE by Moore/Johnston/Massafera

LIGHT OF THY COUNTENANCE was an odd short story written by Alan Moore in 1994 (and put on-line over here with his permission) and published in the 1995 anthology FORBIDDEN ACTS. Like a lot of Moore's work, it's a bit odd and experimental, part short story, part essay, poetic in spots. I read it back in the 1990s, but it didn't have much of an impact, then I read it again a few months ago and found it worked much better. I think the biggest difference was that in the interim I've heard many more recordings of Moore's voice, enough that I can now read it with an approximation of that voice in my head, which improves the rhythm immeasurably. It also helps that with the growth of the internets it's much easier to hunt down what a stray reference Moore makes refers to.

Anyway, like most of Moore's short prose, the story has recently been adapted to comics by publisher Avatar, with Anthony Johnston as usual handling the adaptation and Felipe Massafera doing the art. The 48-page comic features the full text of the story (there don't seem to be any additions or deletions) and adds appropriate imagery to create a quite entertaining new thing which I think I like better than the plain story.

As the covers of the comic version make clear, this is a story about television, so the visuals have a lot of room for a variety of images, and they're well chosen throughout to evoke various eras of what was then 70 years of history. Massafera's art is very well suited to what's being done here. He reminds me in a lot of ways of the work Alex Ross was doing back in the 1990s, when it was new and exciting and often applied to projects where that style made sense. That heavily photographic style makes perfect sense for this story, where the whole point is the depiction of a world which reflects a version of reality but isn't quite real.

The story begins with an extended sequence about a character in a long-running soap opera (the apparently fictional "Jubilee Terrace", which seems to pretty much be "Coronation Street"), with a litany of some of the twists and turns of her life on the show mixed with the life of the actress playing the character, all as part of a larger theme of "Television" as a sentient entity which loses itself in the roles that it plays. Within the world of possibilities that provides, Moore picks at some key aspects, not all of them original (the television as modern religion was pretty much a cliche even in 1994), but very cleverly expressed, in particular a few bits about television as a substitute for real experience and the sometimes unwieldy marriage of art and commerce required to sustain the medium:

The Imagicians have procured transfusions of green blood to aid in my regeneration; dollars in their millions and their hundred millions come from Cereal Emperors and Automobile Dukes; Grand Viziers of Candy; Burger Kings and the Electric Generals, Renaissance monarchies, they indulge the Virtualchemists and from their sponsorship eight parts in ten of my sustaining wealth is drawn.

Moore also pulls in some weird bits from the history of the invention of television, including some things about a psychological references to a schizophrenic delusion about an "Influencing Machine" that predates television by a few years. Not an original connection by Moore, of course, but artfully expressed in here: "Five years before my birth into this world did bedlam saints foretell my coming"

And actually, the more you look at Moore's work, you can see how this story, as minor as its original publication was, fits in to a lot of the things that he had explored before this story and ever since. Notions of "ideaspace", the fabric of fiction, self-awareness, echoes of ideas rising and falling through time. A line from MIRACLEMAN to FROM HELL to LOEG to PROMETHEA (and a lot more stops between) would pass straight through this story.

Anyway, a surprisingly good adaptation of a entertaining minor work by Moore, well worth checking out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Morning Mayer 2

12-year-old Scribbly learns the problem of people having expectations in this early panel by Sheldon Mayer from Dell's THE FUNNIES #11 [1937].
Weblog by BobH [bobh1970 at gmail dot com]