Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I'm concerned enough about the state of comic books that I pay attention to, if not campaign about, the negative portrayal of women in comics. My stance is usually that much of the fanboy/girl service in the way women are drawn and scripted that abounds in comic books is not necessary and is therefore just ridiculous. Silly attempts to justify the Power Girl costume aside there are a few instances where the exploitation of the female form in a comic book is an important part of the story. One such example was in the Seven Soldiers mini featuring The Bulleteer. One premise of the story was the fetishistic nature of the superhero so it could be argued the manner in which the female Bulleteer was rendered was necessary since she was the victim of her husband's sexual obsession with superheroes.
Another example could be the recent issue of World's Finest #3 (February 2010) featuring Supergirl, Batgirl and Catwoman. In this issue Batgirl and Catwoman find themselves in conflict with robots created by the Toyman. Throughout the entire very physical fight Catwoman's costume remains closed and serves as protection, which is what a good costume should do. It is only when she is rendered unconscious and tied up that her costume is unzipped exposing her breasts. Catwoman is often portrayed with a casual opened front to her costume but in this instance it is doubtful she did this to herself.
I don't know if her costume being unzipped once she is bound was intentional on the part of the creators but it looks like the Toyman robot, once it had Catwoman helpless, decided to play with the captive a bit. That adds an unstated layer of creepiness to the whole scene. That Catwoman was perhaps violated isn't even addressed in this story and in fact she is casually dismissed by Batgirl and Supergirl, a couple of young heroes who are acting just a bit too pleased with themselves over the whole thing. It would be interesting to see a hurt and angry Catwoman lecture the World's Finest Teens while she uses the real Toyman as a scratching post.
On the other hand, if the creators just decided that a woman being tied up and showing her boobs was sexy and drew her that way just because they could, then shame on them.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
This is an Operation: Awesome Christmas update!
As intended I completely crushed the gift-giving abilities of everyone else in the family. Making everyone else look lame and silly by comparison has given me such a warm and happy feeling this holiday season.
Here is what I gave!
Mom: Made her mortgage payment for her. Didn't know what she paid each month so I just threw money at the bank. Turns out to be a payment and a half. She cried a lot. I win at being the best child.
Dad: One of those watches from Japan that forces you to do math calculations to figure out the time. He is really into gadgets like that.
Sister: Professor Marvel county fair banner recreation prop. As a Wizard of Oz fan, she plotzed.
Nephew: Screw that guy. I gave him 20 bucks.
Son: Drum set and LP player that plays and records vinyl to a computer. The son is really into my extensive LP collection which includes 75s, 45s and many, many albums from early Motown era to the late 80s so I let him have that. Also gave him money.
Wife: Jewelry and a nifty laptop. She previously had little interest in computers beyond playing Bejeweled and Mahjongg on my PC until I got her a Purple Netbook, which she uses for communication when out and about or traveling when texting isn't enough. From that experience she wanted a laptop of her own so I got her a nice one. The jewelry consisted of several sets of earrings. While wandering around the stores if she mentioned they were nice or showed some interest I went back later and bought them for her.
The Chihuahua: A bag of chicken treats, a few chew toys and a coupon good for one incident of pooping in the house.
What I got!
Land of the Lost Board game and Safari Shooter!
Sleestak mask! I have no idea what to do with it. Maybe put it on a wig mount and in a glass case? Still cool, even if it is from the stupid movie.
The Great Anti-War Cartoons from Bully!
A t-shirt 2 sizes too small!
Wallet, pen and watch set!
So the day turned out pretty much as I predicted. Everyone else in the family is full of shame and I went home full of the knowledge I totally kicked everyone's asses.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Among the traditional condiments served tomorrow at the Christmas family meal will also be some fresh kimchi.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Everyone has heard of "Hidden Mickeys" right? Where Disney Imagineers inserted Mickey Mouse images in most of the attractions at the famous theme parks?
Well, much like silhouettes of the famous mouse appear all over the Disney theme parks so do representations of the Sleestak from the classic 70s television show The Land of the Lost appear elsewhere! A fan site commenter somewhere made the assertion that the statue of El Cid in San Diego's Balboa Park contains a Secret Sleestak! Can you find it?
El Cid, by Anna Hyatt Huntington. Installed 1930.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Planet Comics #56 from September 1948 picks up with space heroine Futura as a prisoner, falsely accused of being the pirate Yrina. Futura is taking steps to clear her name when another pirate attacks and takes her prisoner. This episode has Futura held under guard and in more cheesecake poses than is usual. Perhaps the creators chafed under the typical guidelines for this type of tale because it doesn't take long for them to have Futura break the cliche of the helpless prisoner.
Sooner or later you would think the bad guys would learn not to bring Futura into their sanctum and allow guns, heavy objects and pointy things within her reach.
Monday, December 21, 2009
This is an Operation: Awesome Christmas update!
I am a difficult person to buy presents for. If it isn't the newest Gerber multi-plier my wife has no idea what to get me for special occasions. So some of the time we agree upon a budget and I buy myself something nice. This year for Christmas we did just that and I really scored.
After more than a few unsuccessful years trying to find a vintage Land of the Lost board game for my own I finally managed to snag a good specimen. I had searched for the LotL game from the first series in an on-again, off-again fashion for a few years now. Professional collector resources were ridiculously expensive and the grifting nature of the sellers of most auction sites made my attempts to buy one exercises in frustration. Bids at a more than fair price were routinely lost at the last possible second as Seller ABC, under the guise of sock-puppet Buyer ACB, purchased the item from themselves to prevent it from being sold at less than what they wanted monetarily.
Discouraging, but I knew that interest in the 2009 Land of the Lost movie would see a greater proportion of LotL-related merchandise for sale than were previously available. While the studio predictably did not market a line of toys there were a few promotional and licensed memorabilia items available. One internet pal has sent me on several occasions promotional gear from the film such as a shirt, compass and hat. That was cool and was very welcome.
It was over the course of the last several weeks I managed to successfully purchase two examples of vintage Land of the Lost merchandise. My experiences with the sellers were positive and not merely because I won the sales but because they acted like professionals running a business, something that is sorely missing from much online retail.
Here are the two recent acquisitions to my collection of Land of the Lost memorabilia. Click the photos to make them Dino-sized.
The first game I purchased was the Land of the Lost Safari Shooter pinball game from 1975 (though I suspect this is a recently-made toy claiming to be vintage). It is in excellent condition and if I ever go insane I'll take it out of the wrapper. The backboard image for the pinball machine is pretty sweet and I'd love to take it apart just to scan it. If I ever find one for real cheap that is a mess I will. More than likely it will go in a shadowbox and get hung on the wall.
Land of the Lost game
The second item is the big prize and is the favorite of the two. It is the 1975 Land of the Lost board game by Milton Bradley. It is relatively rare to find one of these games in acceptable condition and this one is in really good shape. Here are photos of the box cover, inside cover, rules with adjacent spinner and the game board.
This is the best Christmas ever.
Note: I'm not usually one for watermarking my images but I put a bit of time and effort into acquiring this awesome vintage game. I did take pains to avoid placing the LTMS logo over the image itself because I like to share. If someone is going to gank these pics and use them without attribution or go so far as to slap a 'Mecha-Droid Ten' logo on it and act like they own it then they are going to have to spend a few minutes working for it.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Back in the 1980s when I worked at a military installation in or around Utah, New Mexico or Nevada, a manifesto of sorts was passed around, written by one of the scientists that worked in one of the buildings. He was always acting kind of worried and chain-smoked, which is why he was always hanging out on the Non-Restricted side of the building. All of us on patrol would regularly meet up where everyone took breaks and eventually we'd all be talking to him, even though his E Line Badge meant we were not supposed to. He would talk about the weird things he did in the hangar and sometimes "accidentally" leave documents behind. He would let slip that he could only live with himself if he somehow told the world what was going on by re-writing the classified stuff in a manifesto he would release to the public. When the Brass got a hold of a copy they had the guy kicked off the base, his contract was voided and his Secret clearance was removed. Whatever he wrote really got everyone up in arms because we were in ORI status for about a month and our MOBB was re-evaluated.
I myself had a few samples of the manifesto and while most were lost to the conditions of poor storage a page or two survived. It has been over twenty years so I guess there is no harm in posting this page now.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Scene from the math instruction poem A Mortifying Mistake, published in Speaking and Writing English, 3rd Grade (1941). Art by Estelle Franz.
Honestly, this vintage 3rd grade lesson book is beyond the comprehension and reading skills of most adults today.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Little Evil Women by Louisa May Alcott (1869).
"Good! Bless you! Now, as there's nothing like `taking time by the fetlock', as Winkle characteristically observes, allow me to present the new member." And, to the dismay of the rest of the club, Jo threw open the door of the closet, and displayed Laurie sitting on a rag bag, dead by her hand. Blood was everywhere and stained the deceased man's fine attire.
"You rogue! You traitor! Jo, how could you?" cried the three girls, as Snodgrass the Pimp pulled the body from the closet, and producing both a bag of lye and a large oilcloth tarpaulin, installed him in a jiffy.
"I'm not a bad person. I'm a real good person." Said Jo. "People always look down their noses at hookers. Never give you a chance, because they think you took the easy way out, when no one could imagine the willpower it took to do what we do. Walking the streets, night after night, taking the hits and still getting back up. I wish there was a way that people can forgive you for something about this, you know. But they can't. They can't, man. So I gonna die... Hey Meg, Beth and Amy, I'll never forget you. Good bye, babies. Bye babies."
"Good bye, Jo!" Chorused the three sisters.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This frontispiece by A. H. Winkler from a 1943 version of Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary depicts an angel bestowing a crown honoring and recognizing humanity's achievements in understanding the world around them and the greater Universe. This art from a book in my collection is a bit of evidence that stupidity wasn't always considered a virtue in America and was in fact the opposite. The pursuit of knowledge and understanding was once held as a duty, a birthright and a gift of destiny.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
In the December 13th episode of Family Guy the character of Peter Griffin takes over his Father-in-Law's company and becomes a power-mad tyrant who abuses his employees. During the show one of the things that came to my mind was: "It sure would be funny if Swamp Thing made an appearance in some sort of parody to The Anatomy Lesson."
Well, that's exactly what happened. So while the 'Swamp Monster' gag was not knee-slapping hilarious it was a nice homage that should get the notice of any fanboy.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Pictured here is the front and reverse of one of the faux bills used when filming a scene of the 1992-1997 syndicated television show Renegade. This show was mostly filmed in and around San Diego, California. As far as I can tell it was left behind as litter after filming the episode Ransom that originally aired on December 6, 1996.
A vacant book store on C Street in downtown San Diego was used to film the episode, which was about a series of bank robberies. Apparently the script called for an explosion of some sort to take place. I have never watched an episode of Renegade so I can't tell if explosions were a common occurrence but I suspect they were. When the bank inevitably exploded faux money and other movie magic debris was blown out onto the street providing, I assume, a scene where the bad guy watched his cash go up in flames while Lorenzo Lamas and his sidekick high-fived each other. While the crew did a decent job of cleaning up the area after the shoot completed a large number of these bills where dispersed through the air over the vicinity. I found the bill pictured above on B Street while coming to work the morning after the television shoot, a neat little piece of San Diego movie history.
On a side note it was interesting to observe people fight each other as they discovered a bill fluttering past them on the street. I imagine there was a short though brisk market for them as street-predators sold the fake bills to to an addled or unsuspecting victim for pennies on the dollar. Knowing cashiers as I do I also speculate that more than a few of the movie bills were successfully used in transactions at local businesses.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Woke up sick. Sore throat, coughing, headache, the works.
Went to pick up The Wife shortly after in a strong rain, something most San Diego residents are not prepared for. While driving, the driver side windshield wiper flies off, forcing me to stop on the side of the highway, stand in the rain to fix it.
Get home and turn on the water to take a shower before work. A pipe in the wall bursts, flooding three rooms before I can turn it off. I call out from work because of it and they were not happy. Keep in mind I'm also feeling unwell and can't use the restroom as it is intended because the water is turned off until I can cap the pipe and reverse the polarity of the electron flow.
The jerk mailman leaves my mail on the porch, in the rain and I had no idea he arrived. He didn't put the mail in the slot as usual. Not only that, he left a package I was expecting sitting in the rain and didn't pick up the outgoing mail. The contents of my package survived unscathed only because the shipper took such great care in wrapping the item. The mailman better not expect a tip this year.
While I'm cleaning up the flood the power goes out because of the storm. I can't wet-vac up any of the water and am now forced to rip up tile and carpeting. Power was out for 8 hours.
Yeah, wish I could fly around the earth real fast and start this day over.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Much is being said recently about the failure of Tiger Woods as a hero and role model. There is always a peril inherent in elevating a person or thing to symbolic status. Hopefully the Tiger Woods Foundation won't suffer too much from the reality check of Tiger's personal life as it seems to be a positive force in this world.
But when considering role models certain aspects must always be factored into the hero-worship. Remember, as Hayley Mills says:
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Friday, December 04, 2009
Usually I could give a hang about the Holidays. This attitude is due to so many years in the military, where every day was just another work day. Traditional family celebrations were always delayed or shifted around because somebody had to be out there in the keeping the Communists and South American Drug Lords away from the nuclear missiles and it was usually me. You are welcome. Plus, the whole religious aspect of this part of the calendar is an annoying, laughable sham promoted only to enslave the stupid and gullible in order to sell off all the crap that fills the shelves of the local Woolworth.
Yet this season is different. For the first time after several years I've finally paid off enough debt from my Stupidlandia debacle so I have some extra cash to throw around at the family. Thus began Operation: Awesome Christmas.
I can't post what I'm getting everybody here on the off-chance the family will read it here. They have never as far as I could tell ever visited the site but there is always a first time and I don't want to spoil the surprises. Some of the gifts will be expensive, some not. What I plan is to carefully evaluate each member of the gang and find a present that will blow them away with awesomeness. There is nothing they could give me that would not look like manure in comparison, and not the good manure, either. More like that cheap off-brand manure you get at Super Discount Sav-A-Lot that is manufactured out of feces from animals other than cows, sand from foreclosed schoolyard playgrounds and expired Fig Newtons.
My intention is to completely crush the other members of the family with their gifts. I imagine Christmas morning will go something like this:
"Here, honey! Open your present."Yeah, I'm going to rule Christmas morning this year. I'll post the results after the Holiday.
"Oh. Thanks. A $10 gift card to Blockbuster. This will come in handy if I ever go back in time to when a store was open. Here, now open yours."
"OH. MY. GOD. SHRIIIIEEEEK!"
"Yep. That was the best [redacted] on the market. Brand new, upgraded, one of a kind and certified antique [redacted] I could find. I had to bribe the store owner to sell it to me, threaten a puppy and kneecap the guy in front of me in the line so I could get the last [redacted]."
"Excellent. I totally win at Christmas."
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Here's a quick representation of the evolution of Red Sonja's chain-mail armor from her first appearance in a 1973 Marvel Comics issue of Conan the Barbarian to her look as Queen Sonja from Dynamite Publishing in 2009. Note that as awareness of feminine issues in comic books has steadily increased over the decades, inversely Red Sonja's attire has become ever more spare. In the beginning Sonja wore full upper-body armor. Shortly thereafter she ditched the heavy mail shirt for the famous steel bikini, sporting about thirty pieces of chain-mail per breast.
The chain bikini became quickly popular among creators and readers and was hilariously parodied by Dave Sim in several Cerebus story lines. She is now being portrayed as wearing about six pieces of mail on each breast and looking like some kind of Hyperborean stripper. Not much of an advantage in a fight, really, unless you buy into that 'distraction' meme that seems to be bouncing around the various comic book companies and forums of late. Credit to the artists in one aspect, though. Red Sonja is at least being drawn as less voluptuous and more fighting lean. Costuming aside her body type resembles more her early appearances than those made infamous by Moroto, Boris Vallejo, Buscema and Thorne.
It's 2009 and comic books are not for girls!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
A tune for the season from way back in 1981, enjoy!
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Chapter 13 of the Futura Saga from Planet Comics #55 (July 1948) gives the reader a rapid-fire succession of action and new ideas. Nearly too much at times for the space allotted. The Venusians are still seeking freedom, the Space Patrol shows up and the menace of the Space Tyrant so readily beat down by Futura in the previous chapter is replaced by the introduction of a new character, that of Yrina the Corsair Queen.
When Yrina is first revealed her pose is identical to that of one made by Futura from Chapter 12. That Futura and Yrina appear alike when introduced is more than an example of that economical, deadline-induced style that Fiction House demonstrated so often. While some could dismiss the panel layouts as derivative of previous artwork what is clear is that Yrina is a crafty pirate and the artist drew a similarity between the two women that was, perhaps unconsciously, for a reason. Chapter 13 of the Futura Saga may be a lesson for the title character: That the protagonist and antagonist may differ only by the choices they made and the paths taken.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
As mentioned in a previous post, Futura - Chapter 12, there are some recurring creative cliches that irk the heck out of me and ruin my reading or viewing enjoyment. Author Lewis Shiner addresses many of them in his work and I have referenced it previously myself. This entry in My First Book of Noir shtick Jenny vs. The Crime Empire pokes fun at two of the most common and irksome cliches in any action fiction; that of the "Lucky Break" and "The Hostage With Access To Weapons (Who Doesn't Use Them)".
Breaking those tropes is why I found page five of Chapter 12's Futura story so pleasing. Brought into the command center before the tyrant of space, Futura proceeds to beat him near to death with her bare hands. The scene in the fictional Chapter 5 of Jenny vs. The Crime Empire was directly inspired by how I envisioned the initial conference room meeting between captive Rachel Weisz and the evil corporate executive in the film Chain Reaction should have really gone down.
A few pages from the story Jenny vs. The Crime Empire. Originally published in My First Book of Noir (1953).
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Yeah. I have no idea what I was thinking when I paid money for this cassette tape way back in 1983. I don't even remember what continent I was on the month this was released since I traveled a lot during that period and I was usually drunk most of the time (the benefit and hazard of being young, amoral and with a disposable income coupled with unlimited opportunities for world-wide travel for $10 a ride). I think I was in Italy and there is a vague recollection that the purchase involved a party and trying to get into some girl's favor. Guys do a lot of stupid things when it comes to women. That I still have this in my music collection is bizarre.
I clearly recall a customs agent shaking his head when he saw this cassette in my carry-on bag, but I don't know if I was entering or leaving the US at the time. I'd like to think I was arriving in the States and the disapproval reflected American good taste, but Prince and his various projects were crazy popular back then.
Here's a link to the title track to listen to, if you dare.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The overall science fiction themes of Planet Comics typically followed whatever trend was the most popular at the time. Early in the series the stories were verging on the silly, reflecting the Hugo Gernsback-style of science fiction, or "Scientifiction" that was prevalent in the pulps. Space ships were simple reaction rockets that flew through the cloudy, ether-filled space between the stars that arrived at their distant destination in hours. Mysterious rays that performed miraculous feats of destruction were fired with precision from hand-held weapons. Atomic steam powered the giant cities while prop planes soared between monolithic buildings. All very charming and a product of the times. But grumblings among fandom existed even then as readers often complained about the nigh-magical feats of machines and the impossible actions derived from simplified and fanciful physics. These type of complaints from readers would go virtually unanswered for decades until the secrets of how fictional and impossible science worked by a different comic book company that published their Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.
As the elements of science fiction evolved so did the various stories in the Planet Comics title as a part of that evolution. The earnest naivete of the pulps gave way to a relative realism as technology prompted greater speculation as to what the future may be like. As the public was increasingly educated as to the true nature of the universe the more wild fictional elements were reigned in and fictional space travel was made ever more local and confined to the greater solar system. The settings of science fiction became more "plausible" even as it remained just as fantastic and impossible.
As the universe became more complex the story elements became inversely simplified. No longer did ships zoom to other galaxies and visit Cymradia or Mongo. Adventurers typically remained within the solar system as there were suddenly plenty of stories to be told featuring the wild, heavily populated planets of Mars, Venus and Saturn. Eventually these ideas would also fall to the wayside as readers recognized that Pellucidar and the feudal Mars of John Carter were unlikely in the "real fictional universes". Currently these problems of unlikelihood are solved by the concept of alternate realities and other dimensions such as DC Comics' Skartaris. The next entry in the Futura Saga from Planet Stories #54 (May 1948) is an example of the evolution towards "unlikely realism" in science fiction. The ideas of far-flung, magical planets like Cymradia are left behind in favor of Space Pirates plying the star lanes of Venus and oppressing the fish-like people of that planet.
Chapter 12 of the Futura Saga finds our heroine continuing her journey into space, fleeing the world she inadvertently helped destroy in Chapter 11. Not having learned anything from her previous efforts to free oppressed people, Futura pledges to aid the Venusians in their struggles against a piratical tyrant. The art is a pleasing step up from the previous chapters and is a return to the style of the early Futura chapters and reminiscent of the Buck Rogers and Prince Valiant strips, though there are more than the usual number of gratuitous Good Girl Art poses than in previous entries.
Happily, Futura does some serious butt-kicking in this chapter. Her fight scene is made made all the more interesting in that it was way back in 1948 that the creators chose to break the tiresome cliche of the "Helpless Captive" that still permeates most action fiction to this day. The cliche of the prisoner who nonetheless has access to weapons but doesn't use them is a sore point for me when watching a movie or reading the scene in a novel or comic book (I'll expound on that after Thanksgiving in a My First Book of Noir post, Jenny vs. The Crime Empire). It is so darn silly and is a sign of lazy scripting and false drama. I rank it right up there with the "Lucky Break" (When the weapon held by the bad guy jams right when he has the drop on the hero).
Page five is an utter delight. Enjoy.