Saturday, November 30, 2019

Gahan Gone!

Gahan Wilson passed away this month, and I'd like to remember him and cue up the coming blitzkrieg we call Christmas at the same time. Gahan's view of the Santa was a bit off the traditional mark, but something tells me that he got it righter than most.

An immortal morbidly-obese elf who reads minds and trespasses with no regard to property or privacy might not be the goody two-shoes we've always been lead to believe. Gahan knew it as these cartoons show all too well.

Merry Fricking Christmas One and All and Goodbye Gahan!

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Friday, November 29, 2019

Monsters In The Dell!

There was a moment in the 1960's when two fads bonded and caught hold at the comic book publisher Dell. The classic monsters of Universal had caught fire thanks to magazines like Famous Monsters from Filmland and shows like The Munsters. Superheroes were all over thanks to the rollicking success of upstart Marvel. Dell reached out with both hands and grabbed monsters in one and superheroes in the other and produced some of the wackiest comic books ever to grace the racks. We got Frankenstein, Dracula and Werewolf, the first two bizarre misfit superheroes and the third a super-spy (yet another fad).  These series burned brightly and burned out swiftly. Thanks to the talents of Tony Tallarico and Bill Fraccio these heroes came to "life" and will always be with us.

But what if there had been others. Certainly Universal made more monster movies. Karl Heitmueller Jr. gives us a peek at Tough Guy Goods and Services. Take a gander above at what might have been, enjoy and look for more. You'll be glad you did.

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Day In The Anti-Life - Impeachment Diary 2019!

And now as the impeachment of a president looms yet again, I find I'm at another period of life. I'm a widower with two grown daughters who are off and working in this wide world. I live alone pretty much save for a little snippy mutt I inherited from my late lovely wife who only ever called our current leader by one dismissive but deadly accurate sobriquet --"Dumb Ass". I spend my days teaching school for a little bit longer and watching old movies and reading old comic books and from time to time hacking out a dram or two for this here blog. The President being impeached this time is Donald J. Trump and rarely has a public figure earned more scorn and so deserved to driven into the backwaters of public discourse . He is a one-man blight on our land.

Trump is the most flawed individual to ever take the helm of these United States, a narcissist with a sadistic twist who craves power for its own sake and who appears incapable of any actual empathy for his fellow man or especially woman. He has found a groove in American politics, one scratched out by years, if not decades of open as well as secret corruption, and played that against those he dubs members of "the swamp". Intimidated by anyone with actual experience and acumen, he uses his office and the power it carries to beat off criticism of his often evident ignorance. And he's used his office and the integrity of the nation's interests to further his own individual campaign to be seek the office yet again in the Ukraine matter. It's called abuse of power and he attempted to coerce a foreign power to do his personal bidding. His constitutional violations are manifest and it only remains for the other authorities in our government to do their due diligence.

When my first impeachment happened I was a feckless youth and the President in question bowed to the will of the Congress and resigned before he could be removed, showing at least that level of respect for the office he occupied. When my second impeachment arrived, I was a husband and father in the middle of a career and the President of that time grudgingly accepted the condemnation that Congress delivered. With my third impeachment nearly here I am an older man, near retirement and the President in question is a threat to the republic who should be removed forthwith, but who won't be. And I only fear that if and when he loses his office a year hence he will respect the will of the people enough to step down. That is an open question in my book, one that only the future can reveal. The system has failed utterly to hold him in check save in a few instances of the courts, so it will remain for the people to decide if this self-absorbed, often witless, bullshit artist (and likely traitor) is to represent the American people yet again. Sadly I have come to fear the worst. The ugly shameful truth is that if Donald J. Trump is reelected to the office of President with all we know, it will be because as hard as it is to admit, he will be the leader America deserves.

But this is Thanksgiving Day, my favorite holiday of the year, a singularly American holiday. And I'm thankful that I am able to belch my displeasure at the way things are. Our current leader will not be our only leader, such as the citizens suffer under in Russia, China, North Korea, Turkey, Syria,  and other regions of the globe. This buffoon is our cross to bear for a little while and then he will be done, and if not then the streets of this land will well and truly fill. Today I choose to be hopeful.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Day In The Anti-Life - Impeachment Diary 1998!

My second Impeachment experience came in 1998 when I was a father of two young women, both nearly as old as I had been when Nixon was impeached and the husband of a delightful woman who had become my partner in life for over twenty years at the time. President Bill Clinton, one of the brightest men to hold the office in recent decades, found himself unwilling or unable to tell the truth in a deposition regarding his dalliance with an office staffer. That lie, which he parsed and split and trimmed forever and a day was sufficient, that one lie. Was that the only lie Clinton ever told, hardly. He had a history, unsavory at best, with a line of women and apparently was besotted with a personal charm which overcame his faults in the eyes of many who met him. My daughter caught him live in a speech once at a college and she said you could feel his charm across the large hall. That said, he lied under oath and was properly impeached for his mistake, though not removed from office. 

The lurid nature of Clinton's encounters with Monica Lewinsky gave this impeachment a soap operatic twist not found in the earlier Nixon matters. This was about personality almost exclusively and less about law, and in fact his misdeed had been discovered in search of other crimes and misdemeanors. Nixon fell because he couldn't trust the voters to do what he was convinced was the right thing, return him to office and the power he clearly craved. Clinton fell because his personal desires became the fodder for those all too eager to see him brought low, but no one really ever felt or argued that his failings endangered the nation. Nixon threatened the integrity of the election booth but Clinton only threatened the sanctity of the marriage bed, not matters for public discourse, at least not so much.

Another diary entry tomorrow.  

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Day In The Anti-Life - Impeachment Diary 1974!

Image result for richard nixon  comic book

In 1974 I was a teenager, a young man eager to graduate high school and get out on my own, to where I did not know, to do what I did not know. But back in those pre-historic days of media the dominant show was the Congressional Impeachment hearings of Richard Nixon. Nixon was generally speaking a loathed figure by folks in my demographic after his "secret plan" to end the Vietnam War had proven to be a hoax. I was one of those young men who dreaded the day I too would be called upon to serve my country in that far off land, and give my life in the hazy war against world Communism. Nixon was a Communist fighter of the highest order, but one who had made overtures to Red China, and I love telling Republicans he was the President who signed the Environmental Protection Agency into law. But what it turns out is that he was also a malicious foul-mouthed paranoid who not only bent the rules to win, but actively broke the law to do so. And when all but a critical eighteen minutes of tape came to the fore to prove it, the die was cast. So despite his unshakable popularity with the "Silent Majority" he was about to be asked to step down from office before he saved the nation the shock and kindly resigned.

But now that Nixon is safely tucked away in the history books folks think that it was universally agreed that he ought to be rousted out of office. Far from it and I well remember common taters of all types defending his various peculiarities and crimes and saying that he was just misunderstood. As more and more of the tapes have been released over the decades the actual nature of the man has come to light and it's all but impossible for anyone to deny it. But denying the obvious is a talent that seems common to politicians as our modern day demonstrates with each and every "breaking news story".

Another diary entry tomorrow.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

Marvel Comics #1000!

I don't buy hardly any new Marvel Comics these days. Most of the line I gave up on decades ago and my last hold out, The Avengers and some related titles fell off the list over a dozen years ago. But I still keep up a bit from time to time with what's going on, when I can figure it out since I know not so many of the new characters and Marvel Comics #1000 was an ideal time and ideal way to get a glance. The fact the book had artwork by some of my favorite veteran talents didn't hurt any at all.

Neat to see new stuff by talents such as Steve Epting, Alex Ross, Chris Weston, Ron Frenz, Walt Simonson and especially George Perez. The book's format was intriguing too, a single page for each creative team to address in some shape form or fashion a significant character or even from across the span of the eighty years. Now truth told some of the "events" seemed not really to rate, but still we get some fun and even at times compelling stuff. Jams like this rarely make much sense overall, but this one took great pains to relate the saga of a black magical mask that has apparently been worn and possessed off and on throughout the ages in the Marvel Universe. Nifty gag that actually allowed the book to at once reach to its roots and point the way forward in the collection's climax.

To check out the many many alternate covers see this link.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sham Comic Books Covers Are A Smash!

It's no sham -- it's the real deal. Sham Comics from Source Point have tumbled onto the stands. These are some plucky comics which rifle the long boxes for public domain comics of yesteryear and give that tantalizing art a new life and a new meaning, a meaning brash and sometimes brutal. Frankly I'm a sucker for this re-purposed comic storytelling and find these recycled yarns of more than a passing interest. There have been six issues of Sham comics so far, each distinctive from its predecessor, but all using old comic covers in new ways. I've tried to match the refreshed covers with their inspirations for your viewing pleasure.

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Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Shocking Truth About Drugs!

Green Lantern #85 is one of those true landmark comics in the long history of the field, the one in which staid DC Comics bit down hard on the reality of the day. So it was nifty to see it get the facsimile treatment from DC. Escapism fell before the need to speak out about the problems of the time and Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams do it with aplomb in a story which makes us all feel the shock on Green Arrow's face. Now the cover does undermine the story's climax, but the message is more important.

Stan Lee and Gil Kane had broken down the barriers to the Comics Code about drugs with their seminal issues of The Amazing Spider-Man (issues that earned the honorific), and here we see the code seal on a story which features not a single super-villain, merely depraved men using drugs to make money on the backs of impressionable.

Using Speedy as the vehicle to make the point that drugs can grab hold of anyone was brilliant and made sure that this problem wasn't going away at the story's conclusion. Addiction is life-long and Roy Harper is a wounded for all time. The absolute manner in which Ollie Queen is depicted in this story is also amazing. He is so stunningly blind to Roy's plight that his shock which is reflected on this cover is palpable. As a father now, I know that kind of blindness as we tend to always see our kids as just that -- little kids. Seeing them in a cold adult light can be most sobering, though I hope I'm never quite as addled as Green Arrow is in this story. It's to noted that both GL and GA also are given drugs in this story, a seemingly minor detail in characters who are mind-controlled often, but having a some different punch here.

There's no doubt this is an important comic, not just for its message but for the price which leaped to twenty-five cents, though we were gifted with a vintage Green Lantern reprint for our additional money.

I liked the DC books of this time, filled with vintage stories,but it's generally agreed that this is the moment when Marvel took the lead in the industry, a lead it keeps today. (By the way, in reference to the note from Carmine above, I find it highly unlikely that he used the word "rap" commonly. Am I wrong?) It's painful that that quarter a copy has given way to a blistering three dollars and ninety-nine cents for this facsimile, but still a comic worthy of this attention.

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Friday, November 22, 2019



*In these "woke" times, the misadventures of Little Annie Fanny seem so the products of bygone eras. But like so many things from benighted days gone by, new thinking doesn't make the products of old thinking any less entertaining in their way. I'm not a fan of expurgating work to make it palatable for more sensitive times. To truly know history, we must archive it and entertain as it is.

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Morrow's Man-Thing!

Every once in a while I chance upon an image by the late great Gray Morrow, an artist who wrought an unusual blend of reality and fantasy in his creamy smooth images. Morrow worked for everyone and everywhere it seemed. You'll find his work on many science fiction covers, countless comic book stories, and other bits of handsome sleek work. The image of above of the Man-Thing in his debut story from Savage Tales #1 is stunning. Many artists such as Valy Mayerik, Mike Ploog, John Buscema, and Neal Adams have tackled the weird imagery of the Man-Thng but none of them captured the man so well as Morrow does here. To read the full story (as if you haven't already) check out this link.  Creepy indeed!

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

CARToons Up And Running!

Gathered this little revival off the newsstand a few weeks ago. CARToons wasn't a regular on my buy list back in the day, I'm not really a car guy but this wacky chaotic cover by veteran artist Steve Austin made me give the issue a closer look. The original from Peterson Publications has been gone for several decades now (along with its mates CYCLEToons, SURFToons, SKIToons, HOT ROT Toons, etc.) but this revival has a nifty spirit. This magazine is not going to be a regular on my buy list now, but it was a long of fun tumbling through the pages and remembering how magazines like this one were once upon a time generations ago a mainstream part of car culture, and beyond. Here's a link to their website if you'd like to know more.

And here is a rather cool cameo by the one and only Mister Magoo in HOT ROD Cartoons which I stumbled across while looking things up.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Joker's Wrath!

For me, Joker, much like the most recent Batman trilogy, approached the material not as if it were a comic book movie, but rather that it was  merely a movie that drew upon literary material as a source, just as movies have done with novels forever and day. Comic book fans get disgruntled with movies not made just for them, those filled with the little details that all of us love to look for and giggle gleefully over when we find them. That's fun -- but not every film need follow that limiting model. Joker doesn't as far as I can tell. Sure the details are here, the characters are present, but shuffled up to make a complex and compelling movie.

Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal is stunning in its detail and sheer unrelenting force. He is almost literally in your face throughout this film and the power comes from the fact we cannot look away. I don't give  a monkey's behind how close to this or that earlier incarnation this Joker is, I just want the movie to hold together and work on its own merits. Joker does that in spades. His performance shimmers like a diamond, despite the fact the setting is the very essence of bleak. The heartbreak of the revelations in the story we know so well but learn more about and is felt by the moviegoer, who is clubbed with an emotional blast that only ever builds upon itself.

The Joker here is a dangerous and brutal man, but a man wanting only what we all want -- acceptance, respect and love. But he is denied those things and in fact learns that possibly he might be incapable of ever having these things, and the vengeance he wreaks on a world in which his true face is shunned is deadly and dark and never ending. Society could've have saved itself from the Joker's limitless wrath, but chose not to do so for reasons we see in our real world everyday. We just don't care enough.

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