Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mort D' Beetle!

The passing of Mort Walker was a big deal in the comics world which is nearly bereft of the classic talents who helped define the genre. Walker's legacy is the reams of great work he left behind which told yarns and gags with which an enormous number of people could identify. That's the key to any success on a mass scale and Walker sure achieved that with Beetle Bailey, a comic strip and comic book character who was the military everyman.

Beetle's constant struggle to keep his own sense of  integrity intact in a system which by its very design was working to make him a cog of a larger unit, was a fundamental struggle which never lost its luster after decades. Beetle's very name says it all, a man named for a bug trying to keep a sense of himself and prove he's of worth to his colleagues and those who have cast themselves as his superiors. The attitudes about and toward the military have undergone dramatic changes during the highly successful run of Beetle Bailey, but what never diminished was Mort Walker's ability to tap into that recognizable part of the fundamental human dilemma which we all share. It's the loss of that singular perspective which we should mourn as much as the man.

Here's a baker's dozen of my favorite Beetle Bailey comic book covers from across the decades and from myriad publishers.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Day In The Anti-Life - Imperiling Presidency!

After close viewing of what I'll call "Season One" of the Trump presidency, we have seen many of our institutions rocked by attacks which if unanswered will fundamentally alter the state of the nation. Our current "so-called" President doesn't behave like what he is, a mere employee, an official the electorate put in control of some few of the levers of government for a limited time so that our lives can be made somewhat better. No, rather he imagines in that addled, attention-craving recently certified brain that we all work for him, and that whatever few tiny crumbs tumble from the table of the rich and powerful, we should scoop them up with proper appreciation for the man who deigned to sprinkle them in our general direction. That is if he thinks of us at all.

Donald Trump is a man so completely consumed by his own day-to-day doings that he hardly has a moment to waste on the humble masses. When he does venture among the unwashed, it's for his own benefit so that he can soak up the adulation of the dopes who still imagine despite living in plain sight of all contrary evidence that he wants what is best for them and theirs. He remains what he has always been, a greedy scam artist who is making it up day to day. The White House machinery clinks along a bit more steadily because of some greater attention to the necessaries of such an office, but that doesn't make the final products any more palatable, and the dark attitudes of his managers is of no small concern either.

The recent debacle in Alabama where a creditably-accused child molester almost won national office points up the fact about Trump which frightens me the most. Roy Moore (the accused pedophile in question) has still refused (to my knowledge) to accept the results of the election which he lost despite the certification of his opponent who now serves in the Senate. He claims with no evidence, but only base appeal to racism that the election was unfair and that bogus (black) votes were tallied. He himself is of little consequence now, but his claim is one to watch. Trump himself hinted strongly that if he'd lost the national election he a year ago,  the same one he now ballyhoos at every opportunity, he'd claim the "system was rigged" and so cast into doubt the long tradition in the United States of free and reasonably final elections. He won incredibly, so it became moot. But what about next time.

The cult of Trump diminishes and his chances of winning re-election to my eye are remote. (At least I hope I'm right.) That he'll still likely win the Republican nomination yet again is reprehensible enough, but I don't see how he can squeak out another victory now that the opposition to him is fully woke. In another year he will see (hopefully) the Congress turn against him and his day-to-day existence will become ever more painful. His honeymoon year has been terrible as is, but when he's confronted with real problems it's going to amp up even more. His reactions could make us all tremble and his cheerleaders at FOX and elsewhere seem ready and willing to back any play he scams up. What happens when he loses his re-election and he's in a position of power. He's not going to be a frustrated candidate who can be ignored after a time, but he will still be President and have the power to at least attempt to block the transition. He will not take firing well. Those who cannot imagine such a thing, have not been paying attention. This is what scares me.

Tonight is the State of the Union speech. Think of it as Coming Attractions for Season Two of the Trump Presidency. Can I change the channel? Sadly no.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Sabrina's Very Own Creepshow!

This alternate cover for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #5 by Robert Hack makes no secret of it's origins as a swipe/homage of a famous image by EC great Jack Kamen for the movie Creepshow.

Here are the posters on Sabrina's wall, all offering some insights into the story.

And here's the comic book Sabrina's reading, a wonderfully bright example of the work of the late great Grey Morrow for Archie's brief Red Circle Sorcery title. 

All in all an incredibly fun cover image which offers up a nifty shout out to a real classic. 

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sabrina's Chilling Adventures!

The imaginary land of Riverdale has proven to be a most plastic universe over the decades, filled to the brim with horny teens, school hijinks, and sunshiny gags, it has also been a place where superheroes fly, super-spies hunt, and witches brew. The latter is best represented by Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch who has proven to be one of the most durable additions to the Archiverse, having held down several comic series and even a few TV shows.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a trade I've picked up and put down several times, attracted by the general notion of a somewhat more serious tale in this flexible world and inspired by the fun and fright to be found in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's other After-Life with Archie stories. Robert Hack isn't an artist I know much about, but his style feels right for this story which reads like nothing so much as one of those vintage gothic romances, filled with suspense and shadows and creeps. I'm glad I didn't follow this series in real time since it's taken about two years for all the installments to arrive. Finding the story all in one place is the way to go with these After-Life epics it seems.

Here are the main covers for this series.

I'll be taking a closer look at one of the alternate covers in this series tomorrow. 

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Charlton Neo Comic Book Guide!

The folks at Charlton Neo recently (in the last few years) published a most cherished reprint of Charlton ephemera, The Comic Book Guide for the Artist - Writer - Letterer from 1973. Put together by Nick Cuti under the gentle editorial hand of the late great George Wildman, this fun little book featured a very informative how-to lesson for aspiring fans who wanted to enter the comic book business. (And admit, we all did.) It was a freebie for any fan who subscribed.

It was an interesting time for such a guide, with new talents sprouting up all over at both the "Big Two" and elsewhere as the original veterans of the comic book format were either retiring by choice or being forced out to make way for newer talent which was at once more in touch with new audiences and cheaper.  The little book is nifty and I recommend a copy to any Joe Staton or Tom Sutton fan. Sutton does the cover of what appears to be a self-portrait of an artist hard at work. Staton's work is featured throughout, especially his stuff on E-Man as exemplars of what is being discussed. Also on hand are bits of art by Steve Ditko, Wayne Howard, Sanho Kim and Cuti himself. Here is a look at the book in all its Bronze Age glory. Enjoy!

See you next time.

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