Archive for March, 2009

The Birthday haul (a/k/a “Game reviews to come”)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I had a lovely little birthday party with my wife, Melinda, and niece, Jenny.  They bought a glittery banner and I realized I’ve never had a banner for my birthday party before.  They also restarted a long-abandoned tradition of lighting a candle on the cake for every year I’ve been alive, and there’s a reason why we abandoned it: the lighting took forever and the cake is now covered in wax, and now the top of the cake looks like a squirrel couldn’t find his nut and dug everywhere for it.

Here are my presents, presented not to gloat over the big haul (it’s not) but to show what a wonderful wife I have:

Carnival Games: Mini Golf This was from my wife. Fun for the entire family. Review to come.

Wii Worms A Space Oddity This was from my niece Jenny.  Allegedly.  Next time, Melinda, tell Jenny what “she’s getting me” so that she doesn’t take it from my hand and say, “What is it?”  It kinda spoils the subterfuge.  Anyway, it’s a Wii version of a game I’ve found addictive on the computer.  Will that translate to Wii play?  We shall see.

Wii Deal or No Deal This was “from Melinda”, inasmuch as when we were at Sam’s Club buying my cake and steaks earlier on Sunday I threw it in the cart and we counted it as one of my presents.  It’s a bargain game.

Peanuts And then here is a present from my cats Nina, Doris and Natasha.  (I named “Doris” so that she could be criminal partners with Natasha.  Would have been Boris but who names a female kitten Boris?)  The cats have good taste.  These are the original Peanuts cartoons from back when the Peanuts gang was first being conceived.  It’s rather dark stuff for the time, which seems odd considering that Charlie Brown and Snoopy came to symbolize the tired, trite and boring of the comics page.  Charlie Brown, the boy who never wins anything, who loses every kite he’s ever tried to fly, who is ridiculed by his friends and is tricked repeatedly by a girl who offers to set up a football for him just to mock him when he falls on his back.  Charlie Brown, whose baseball team is a bunch of losers who would rather hold rubber cats, fluff their naturally curly hair, hang on to their precious blankets or debate philosophy than play ball, and whose meanest pitches get batted back at him so hard he winds up lying in his underwear on his pitcher’s mound.  In a world of Blondie, Family Circus, Alley Oop and Prince Valiant, that’s actually pretty edgy.  I think my favorite moment is when Charlie Brown actually wins something, and it’s a coupon for a free haircut.  He points out that his dad is a barber and gives him haircuts.  And he doesn’t really have a lot of hair.  (Maybe I just like that because it’s meta-referential; the strip rarely commented on itself.)  I’m anxious to dig into this volume.

Venture Bros. Season 3 on DVD Surprise!  I got one more present on Monday.  My buddy Robert Bavington (who has done many of the costumed Fuzzballs for this site and Fanzing) sent me the season 3 box set.  I’m over the moon.  Thanks, buddy!

Today I’m as old as Jack Benny

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Today’s my birthday.  The big 3-9.  For the first time, I’m turning 39.

New poll feature

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Note the new poll on the right, there.  Please vote!

First new comics in ages!

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Recently, I finally found a copy of the out-of-print TPB “Hitman: Local Heroes”. Zombie Night at the Gotham Aquarium is still one of the best comic book stories I’ve read.  It has page-turner panels, splash pages, hilarious dialogue and a unique premise.   If Hitman were to ever be adapted to the screen, it would make a great framework for the first film.  Take that storyline, add in some of the establishing bits from other stories such as Natt the Hat’s return, and you’ve got a terrific movie.

In order to pad out my order and get free shipping, I grabbed some of the comics I’ve been missing out on ever since Jimmy Jams closed their store.

Here’s what’s on my stack:

Booster Gold #13-16  — Elongated Man appearance! Awesome!

Ambush Bug Year None #4, 5 (still need 6)

Sojourn #26  — Unfortunately, reading CrossGen comics makes me melancholy. How I miss that company.

Birds of Prey #123, 125  — Can’t get 124 because it’s a Joker/Babs showdown.

Green Lantern Corps #31  — I miss this book a lot, right up there with Booster Gold.  I need to get the rest of this arc.

The All-New Atom #17-25 — This completes the series for me (I’d read the trades).  The stupid listing for issue #25 told me it was the one where a beloved character dies.  Thanks a lot, dude.

Wrath of Khan. 30 Seconds. By Bunnies

Friday, March 27th, 2009

It’s been a while since the bunnies did a truly great movie.

Keep up with Phil Meadows

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Many of you know Phil Meadows from his time as the art director for Fanzing.com or as the illustrator of the comic works I’ve written (Job Wanted, Time Meddlers and Metro Med).  Phil and his wife Sherry are currently in China adopting their second child, and you can follow their adventures in their blog.  Their new son, Keith, has some arm injuries and may be legally blind, and they will no doubt be investigating what American medical science can do for him once they return.  Let’s all wish the Meadows family the best in all their years of joys and challenges ahead.

P.S.  Check out this joke.  Cute, Phil.

Batman podcast part 2 is coming

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

I’m determined to get the microphone issues resolved.  I know, you think I’d have done this by now, but I’m trying to track down the color-coding schematic for my Logitech surround sound soundcard.   Then I have to pull the computer away from the wall and get my skinny little niece to crawl behind it, sit on the floor with a flashlight and rejigger all the wires.

In the meantime, Bat-fans, enjoy this tribute to the 1966 Batman TV show.  I’ve found it a treasure trove of information.

Odd bit of plagiarism

Friday, March 20th, 2009

As some of you remember, I got into comic books because of my late uncle Leslie, whose worn stacks of comics I would read whenever I was at grandma and grandpa’s.  He was into the old Marvel monster books, some of which were narrated by three witches.  Stories like a giant alien mummy inside the pyramids who would bust out and then remember too late that they were entombed because they couldn’t stand exposure to Earth’s atmosphere.   An alien conqueror who challenges all Earthlings to beat him in a one-on-one competition, and a guy challenges him to a sleep competition to beat his record of 1000 years.  That sort of thing.

One story in particular stayed with me because I’m arachnophobic.  A young boy is punished by his mom by being locked in a spider-filled closet.  As he grows up, he becomes an exterminator who specializes in killing spiders.  He gets a thrill stomping on them, taking revenge for what his parents did to him. Then one day a beautiful woman hires him.  He goes to her house, is shown into a dark room and plunges down until he falls into a giant spider-web.  A gigantic spider with the face of the woman (no explanation is given for her transformation) crawls towards him, saying, “You hate spiders?  Well, spiders can hate, too!”

Creepy!  I remember that story so vividly, right down to the look of some of the panels and the structure of the sentences.

Here’s the thing:  I’m reading a story in my “Showcase Presents: House of Mystery Volume 2” and there is a story called The Exterminator that follows the exact same story I just told you, except that the artwork and dialogue has differences.  It’s either obvious plagiarism that would make Joe Biden blush, or a writer used his own story twice for two publishers.

I wish I had the original from my Uncle Les’ collection, but I don’t because apparently at some point Grandma got it in her head that comic books were turning Les into a Satanist and most of the stack went into the burn pile.  (Stupid 1970s.)  Does anyone else remember this story?

Classic comic recommendations from the readership?

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Hello everyone.

My birthday is coming up and I want to add more variety to my Amazon wishlist.  With my local comic shop kaput, I don’t really read many comics anymore.  I’ve finally gotten down to the dregs of my stockpiled trade paperbacks, like The Transformations of Jimmy Olsen.  After years of everyone raving about Turtle Boy, I finally read that story and it is all kinds of lousy.  I mean, that story fails on every other level except for being able to entertain a small child.

What I’m looking for are titles of trades of quality classic stories.  For instance, there was an early Popeye book that Chuck Dixon once recommended.  The collected Peanuts books as well (from back when Good Ol’ Charlie Brown was the central character instead of Snoopy).  Are there any similar suggestions you all might have?

Also…are there any recent trades that you would actually recommend?

Ron Silver, RIP

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Actor Ron Silver has passed away at the age of 62 after a two-year battle with esophageal cancer.

Ron had many dramatic roles, but my favorite was always his playing the bad guy (as Ron Silver, an actor who was also the head of N.A.S.A.) on Ben Stiller’s aborted TV Series “Heat Vision and Jack.”

I was also fond of Lifepod, a TV-movie he directed and starred in.  It was a science-fiction reworking of Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.

As an activist, Ron swung wildly from being a major liberal in Hollywood to speaking at the Republican convention in 2004, a changeover which happened after September 11th.  That can’t have been an enjoyable transformation in Tinsel Town, yet Ron seldom complained.

I have tremendous respect for the man, and I’m saddened by his passing.  RIP, Ron.

Update: Breitbart’s obit for his friend.

Musings on the Comics Code Authority

Monday, March 16th, 2009

As I said a few days ago, I’ve been making my way through the “Showcase presents: House of Mystery” book.  A few of the stories lose something when rendered in black and white, such as those dependent upon color to make their point.  But that’s a nitpick.

One thing that struck me as odd was the stories that ended with a narrow little panel of narration by Cain in which he would follow up a story where a guy got away with murder with some comment like, “Too bad the judge didn’t see it that way,” or “He next tried his magic spell on a woman who turned out to be a witch. Too bad for him!”  I suddenly realized that these were just tacked on to meet the standard of the day, the Comics Code Authority, which decreed that a person could not get away with a crime unpunished.

The Code’s rules certainly were strict and sometimes didn’t make sense, like not being able to show any blood or a dead body in a war comic.  At the same time, when I consider how raunchy and grotesque comics have gotten since DC and Marvel decided to end compliance with the CCA, I do believe that ultimately I miss it.

What about you folks?  What are your thoughts on the Comics Code Authority?

Hey, look! It’s J’onn J’onzz waving to us!

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Google Mars now lets you look at the Red Planet.  This sounds awesome.

I’ll give it a try as soon as I up my new Qwest DSL to a tolerable speed.  (I’ve apparently been enrolled at the “beats (barely) dial-up” level.

Fanzing.com is back up

Friday, March 13th, 2009

For a long time, Fanzing.com was not functioning properly due to the recent shifting around of the sites.  Tonight, I re-coded the page template and it is now functioning.  Improvements to come, certainly, but for now at least you can do all the basics like browsing the archives and reading back-issues.

Showcase: House of Mystery

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

I’ve been making my way through all of the Trade Paperbacks that I stocked up on when Jimmy Jams closed.  (For you newcomers: My local comic shop closed in September of last year and I haven’t bought any new comics since then.)  I was reading through the second volume of The House of Mystery and I found a wonderful little story called “The Thing in the Telescope.”  It’s one of those very short tales with an amazing payoff.  Several thieves are looking inside a telescope which is supposed to reveal where a treasure was located, but one by one they look inside and then run away screaming.  The tension builds well, and the final panel revealing what they see is brilliant.  Sadly, the author of the piece is unknown.  Too bad; the guy deserves applause.

No, I’m not telling you what is in the last panel.  Buy the book and find out for yourself!

Just shoot me…

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Saturday Morning Watchmen

Somewhere, Alan Moore is contemplating murder.

Hitler was pro-squid

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Hitler finds out about the changed ending to the Watchmen.

Content warning: this video has a lot of profanity, which is why I’m linking it instead of embedding it.

My favorite parts:

Watchmen: First thoughts review

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I’m sure I can put together a lengthier, more thoughtful review when I’ve had time to reflect on it, but this is my initial take after leaving the theater:

The special effects are great…

…and that about says it all when it comes to Hollywood’s adaptation of a book that is mostly conversations.

Spoilers ahead; I’m assuming you’ve read the original.

(more…)

Tune in “tomorrow”?

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Just so there’s no misunderstanding: I ended the podcast with the Batman announcer saying “tune in tomorrow”, but it will be a day or two before the next podcast.  I still haven’t resolved the microphone problem.

Plus, I’m going to a midnight showing of Watchmen, and I’ll be posting my review after that.  Probably a quickie review.

I’m going to sleep now so I can watch a 150 minute movie at midnight.

Podcast 1: Batman Movies, part 1

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Our first podcast, sponsored by TooManyLongboxes.com. Erik Burnham and I discuss the Batman movies from the serials to the Adam West era. This was an experiment and the sound is a bit mediocre. My apologies to Erik that this took over a month to edit and post. The next one, needless to say, will be better.

To celebrate the Batman movies podcast…

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Enjoy the Top 23 Pitfalls of Owning a Real Batmobile.