Big Pink

The Pink Panther in painter's smock and beret with palette at canvas, painting a grapefruit which drips onto the nose of the short Inspector character standing underneath
Cover to The Pink Panther #30 © 1975 United Artists.

I hope this goes up. After the problem with the whole gorilla thing it could well vanish, but I’d like to end this March of Comics on a bright note.

Earlier this month in a post on covers, I mentioned the cache of comic books kept at
my grandparents’ condo in Florida. While Superman is, unsurprisingly, what brought memories of it to mind, it also held a variety of cartoon tie-ins from Huey, Dewey and Louie to The Pink Panther.

Ladies Men

'Barenaked Ladies Are Me' album cover

News came last month that co-founder Steven Page had left Barenaked Ladies.
I’ve just noticed that my mention of the move got cut from another post, so here it is again.

Foyer, Guns, and Honeys

St. John Publications began its short-lived “Picture Novel” line, crossbreeding the comic book with the somewhat more respectable and certainly more adult entertainment of the prose paperback potboiler, in 1950. It Rhymes with Lust was a digest-sized volume, black-&-white interiors under a color cover, sold on newsstands for 25¢. Dark Horse Comics released a replica edition in 2007.

A woman with determined look on her face rushing down a mansion staircase past a man who turns to look at her

How Green Are My Graphics

On St. Patrick’s Day, so they say, everybody’s Irish. A large number of folks back in Wildwood, NJ, were at least partly Irish year-round. I went to synagogue with kids named MacDonald.

Shamrock, clad in green, tossing an explosive away from a group of children
Irish hero Shamrock’s introductory panel in Contest of Champions #1 © 1982 Marvel. Plot: Mark Gruenwald, Bill Mantlo, Steven Grant. Script: Mantlo. Pencils: John Romita Jr. Inks: Pablo
Marcos & Bob Layton. Colors: Andy Yanchus & Pat DeFalco. Letters: Joe Rosen.

At one corner of Pacific & Lincoln was Shamrock Café, only a café in the sense that it was a pub that served coffee with Irish whiskey. Shamrock was owned by a family alongside whose two youngest daughters, twins, I walked to and from Crest Memorial in kindergarten and first grade. Their house was on the way to mine, and often I’d linger for milk, cookies, and maybe an episode of Ultraman.

Force Clicks

Darth Vader in the style of Gustav Klimt

I recently followed a link to an exhibition of Star Wars as Classic Art that’s worth checking out for several first-rate Photoshop creations. The former Anakin Skywalker is a favorite subject, as seen above in the faux Klimt and at bottom in what the captioneer at Something Awful should’ve titled Whistler’s Vader. A contributor with the handle Palpak did both of those, while Tyja is credited for swapping in lightsabers on the Gérôme below.

Screen Savor

Jason O'Mara and Gretchen Mol in Life on Mars 1.05 © 2009 ABC Studios.

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It’s Bananas

Purim was the other day. You often see it referred to as the Jewish Halloween or
the Jewish Mardi Gras. A festival like Chanukah, rather than a holy day such as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Purim is indeed a time for people to dress up and be merry.

Cover to Magilla Gorilla #1 © 1964 Hanna-Barbera Productions.

The original idea behind the costumes was to emulate characters from the Hebrew
Book of Esther, since it’s from those events that the festival arose, but as with Halloween — where outfits are no longer limited to imitations of spirits and demons — in most communities a wider net is cast. Our synagogue held an annual Purim Carnival for the kids, and one year I made a pretty decent Mork (as in “… from Ork”).

Money vs. Funny

Jon Stewart gesturing to Jim Cramer to have a seat as they shake hands

The Daily Show on Monday night was a great example of Jon Stewart and his
writers at the top of their game. Stewart’s rant at CNBC and Jim Cramer in particular is the best excerpt. You could also just watch the whole megillah. [see below]

Comics of March

Cover to Superman #276 © 1974 DC Comics. Pencils, Inks: Nick
Cardy. Letters: Gaspar Saladino. Script, Colors: Unknown.

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The Dr. Manhattan Transfer

'Watchmen' movie poster with group shot of six main characters — Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and Comedian — on a rainy city street, dark with neon signs, the Owlship high above

It’s a given that Watchmen the movie won’t be Watchmen the book. The content
of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel is utterly bound to its form — via the reader’s ability to linger, to focus on a panel within the context of a page, to flip back and forth between pages when images recall other images or time periods collide. And its original release as 12 issues over 14 months had the added effect of demanding that each chapter be considered as a distinct unit within the larger framework.

Minutes to Midnight

I’ve had some friends and family asking what Watchmen is all about so I thought
I’d offer a primer. The post looks long, but you can pick and choose from among the chunks of information.

Yellow clock face without numbers, hands set to about 11:55, against black background with no text
cover to the slipcase of the Absolute Edition

Here’s a story overview from my review of the film:

Coffee and Synchronicity

Label for Nite Owl coffee

I found the above in my E-mail last Thursday, courtesy of Amazon.

My first thought was that it was a surreal and ludicrous (if admittedly creative) promotion, whoring out a concept as completely as possible. Then came bemusement over having had a long, freewheeling conversation at local haunt Showcase Comics just the day before on the upcoming Watchmen film, largely about Alan Moore’s displeasure with publisher DC over rights issues; his decades-old frustration stems partly from early Watchmen merchandise. Then I actually read the body of the message indicating that the coffee isn’t simply a marketing tie-in but is featured in the movie — which one familiar with the characters might surmise from the Veidt Enterprises logo atop the bag, although the Watchmen logo and date are likely absent onscreen.

Night Moods

U2 lit up late night last week, visiting CBS’s Late Show to goof with David Letterman and perform five nights in a row. I was surprised by how funny the “on hold” sketch and Top Ten were — Edge’s ad-libs about Sting were particularly good.

Late Show with David Letterman title against backdrop of tall city buildings at night with random pattern of lit windows

A visit from Jon Stewart was icing on the cake, as he and Dave compared notes on hosting the Oscars.

DK Delight

If you have young Batman fans in your family, or are one yourself at heart, the Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group release Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight is a perfect gift.

cover to 'Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight', with Batman swinging above rooftops on rope that trails off top right corner of image

At $15.99 it’s rather a slight read for the price — the length of a single issue at the cost
of a graphic novel in comics terms — but that’s par for the course in the wider market of children’s books. I think you’ll find it worth the splurge whether you want to display it as a handsome collectible or read it over and over to your kids.

Cool Beans

Professor Garbanzo, the Boom'r Band, and Mr. Spook

The first of two hardcovers collecting Larry Marder’s Beanworld was released
last week by Dark Horse at $19.95. It reprints Tales of the Beanworld #1-9, is titled Wahoolazuma!, and contains 270 pages of pure delight — mostly comics, naturally, but a new preface from Marder too, Scott McCloud’s introduction to the first Beanworld collection in 1989, a glossary, and a key to the highly stratified titular locale. You can sample a few pages of Wahoolazuma! at the Dark Horse website.

I Watched Watchmen

iconic round yellow smiley face, as depicted with red splotch in 'Watchmen', the smile replaced by a frown

And I’ll have a full review up later [Voilà!], but the short version is this: If you’re on
the fence about it? Don’t bother... I didn’t find it a very good movie whether or not you’ve read the book; especially frustrating, though, if you have.

March with Archie

Archie on guitar, Jughead on drums, Veronica on keyboard, Reggie on guitar, and Betty with bare feet on tamborines
Cover to The Archies: Greatest Hits © 2008 Archie Comic Publications.
Pencils, Inks: Dan DeCarlo. Colors: Tito Peña.

I never read Archie comics regularly, but my sister did, and there were plenty of
times where out of curiosity or lack of new reading material they made their way into my hands. As we got older and she largely dropped the habit, I’d still get her the occasional issue as a pick-me-up or when a special project came out. I’ve recently brought home five issues straight for myself, Archie #587-591, relating the eternal teenager’s “Freshman Year” at Riverdale High — with Betty and Veronica, et al., naturally along for the ride.

Seuss’ CV

Dr. Seuss’s children’s books aren’t exactly comics, no, but they’re kissing cousins.


Casper, Wendy, and Richie Rich, in baseball gear, with their usual disproportionately large heads

For a good while now, I’ve been stockpiling material to share on the blog. Perhaps because other stuff has felt more timely, I haven’t posted much about comics — but if I were a tag cloud that would probably be the biggest label on me.

Number Ones

I don’t remember my first comic book.

Cover to Spidey Super Stories #9 © 1975 Marvel Comics.

At least, I’m not sure which one of many likely candidates it actually was.