The Devil You Say


I came up with a dozen entries for the Late Show with David Letterman website's
current Top Ten contest [dead link]. You can enter this round through the end of the week, although I'm usually keen to brainstorm as much as I can on Monday when
the newsletter arrives in my inbox in case of similar entries.

My Top Twelve Signs Your Neighbor Is Really Satan

12. When you had a come-as-you-are party, he came as Satan.

11. His barbecues always smell like grilled person.

10. The hot chick gardening out front has an "I'm with Satan" T-shirt.

9. He keeps leaving his Underworld's Best Dad mug on the porch.

8. Blues guitarists drop by at all hours of the night.

Leaps and Bounds


We’re an hour away from Superman's birthday, according to old comics lore.
Stories in various media conflict — even within their own continuity at times — over both when the Man of Steel was born on his homeworld of Krypton, relative to our Gregorian calendar, and when his rocket landed on Earth. As I wrote a few years back, though, DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz and writer/historian E. Nelson Bridwell noted in response to reader mail with a giant wink that Superman barely seemed to
age because his birthday only came around every four years.


Superman in mid-leap between sketchily drawn buildings above a trafficked city street, holding a flailing fellow by the ankle
Panel from 1st story in Action Comics #1 © 1938 DC Comics.
Script: Jerry Siegel. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Joe Shuster. Colors: Unknown.


On the heels of the February 29th date seeing print in a 1976 DC calendar and those occasional lettercolumns, Alan Moore used it in the acclaimed tale “For the Man Who Has Everything”, drawn by his Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons for 1985’s Superman Annual. The same calendar gave alter ego Clark Kent’s birthday as June 18th, however, carried over from a 1973 story establishing the date as that of Kal-El's arrival on his adoptive planet. Writer Cary Bates may have chosen that month based on the character’s 1938 introduction in the pages of Action Comics #1, bearing a cover date of June but on newsstands at least one month prior — despite which DC celebrated Superman’s 50th anniversary in 1988 with a party on the Friday before Leap Day, instead of in April, May, or June!

Crystalized


I'm sure that the world doesn't need another Oscars analysis. And while that hasn't stopped me the past couple of years, real-life concerns have me too distracted right now to forge ahead with any prolonged insight; neither my head nor my heart is in the game.

Billy Crystal smiling and gesturing with hands a foot apart

Billy Crystal's return as host was more triumphant in terms of his professionalism
than of rollicking humor, which is probably okay. There was some good, yet not much bad or ugly — mostly things were perfectly fine but unremarkable, unless that was just my mood — and it's the controversy, the unexpected, the WTF moments where quick-minded emcees (with backstage writers at the ready for good measure) like Crystal shine. I noticed and appreciated his ease at moving the show along, perhaps due to the particular contrast with recent hosts, even while wishing for wittier material.

My dislikes, although they were mild, include...

Life, the Universe, and Everything


I didn't see The Tree of Life in theaters. Reviews of the film were mixed enough, and my moviegoing is limited enough, that it didn't make the cut during its release. I was curious about it, however, and I got it on DVD last month from Netflix.

Between critics and acquaintances, I'd heard the film described as everything from magnificent to pretentious to nauseating. I didn't find it nauseating. Pretentious? Yeah, I wouldn't quibble with that, yet I also thought that it was magnificent. I'm not sure that a spoiler warning really applies, but if you know absolutely nothing about The Tree of Life and don't want to, either, stop now and consider my recommendation; otherwise, continue after the pic.

Death and the Maidens


The other night I got the chance to see the 1977 Japanese film ハウス (Hausu),
alias House.

'House' in English and Japanese katakana over silhouette of tall oddly shaped house with either tree branches or hands sprouting from it against red sky and full moon

I'm not sure what I can tell you about it of import that the insane trailer doesn't — except to verify that while House does have at least the framework of a story it lives up to the trailer's wildly abrupt shifts in scene and tone. Even if you don't think you'll ever watch the film, I urge you to click through the link for its distillation of sublime weirdness into 1¾ minutes.

Week Links


If you're looking for a laugh amidst pre-Oscar fatigue or, heck, just because, I commend to you a gallery of doctored movie posters over at The Shiznit.



Ali Gray has once again reworked posters for this season's annual glut of prestige films to give them titles and taglines bluntly reflective of what the viewing public and/or the promoters themselves think about them.

Word Up


Blogger has apparently switched wholesale from its old style of word verification to a much uglier CAPTCHA format that I've seen elsewhere and which I'd always been glad I didn't have to deal with on Blogger blogs.



As my mother is fond of saying, "Oh well..."

Under the Rainbow


I've been meaning to write about comics veteran Tom Ziuko since the news broke a year ago that he was ill.

Ziuko was a longtime colorist for DC. I vividly recall being struck by his muted yet vibrant work on the cover to 1986's Legends #1, which I'm pretty sure was also one of the earliest covers to carry a colorist signature along with that of the pencil and ink artist(s) — in this case, John Byrne.



Cover to Legends #1 © 1986 DC Comics.

The Grand Comics Database lists over 1,500 credits for Ziuko spanning nearly 30 years of covers and interiors, from Superman to Hellblazer to Animaniacs, including color reconstruction on reprint projects for both Marvel and DC.

The Slog Delayed


I'd hoped to have more up today to mark the blog's third anniversary. My actual
first post (“0”) — which set the tone for much of my blogging by complaining about, you guessed it, trouble blogging — went up three years ago December, but my first substantive post (“Welcome”) got published on this date in 2009. For its anniversary
in 2010, I published my inaugural State of the Blog report (“The Slog”); while I planned to follow that up annually, I had to defer in 2011 due to my grandfather's sudden illness and passing soon after, waiting another six months to take stock of things (“The Clog”). Nothing so dire has kept me from completing another update, thankfully. A cold percolating all week long has roared up with a vengeance and made it even harder to concentrate on stringing together the words than usual, however, so like the title
above says...

41 Favorites: #6


DC covers by Nick Cardy have long been among my favorite things.

'Action Comics' #425

I didn’t always know him by name.

More than one of the few books about comics accessible during my childhood in the ’70s, on which I’ve written before, referred to “The Good Duck Artist". Past generations who read tales of Donald, his nephews, and his Uncle Scrooge in Disney comics before most creators were credited — and before admirers, collectors, and scholars could
easily share information far and wide — didn’t know him by name. Yet many of them found his contributions so obviously head-and-shoulders above other artists' that the appellation “The Good Artist” became an acknowledged shorthand in fandom. When context was needed: “The Good Duck Artist”. "The Good Duck Artist" turned out, I learned from these same books, to be a gentleman named Carl Barks.