Friday, October 14, 2005

Happy Birthday! (10/14/05)

In the summer of 1983, at a small comedy club outside of Pittsburgh, I saw this little known comic/magician stick a large needle in his arm and watched as a sliver of blood trickled out. Well, he didn't really stick the needle in, it was only an illusion. What wasn't an illusion was just before he left the stage he mentioned that he had just finished filming a pilot for something called Night Court.
And the rest, as they say......

Here's a slight of hand Happy Birthday to.....

The star of Dave's World is 53 today.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Unfortunately, a Bland Treat

Since this is October, Halloween is always a good subject to talk about. and since I was talking about comic books then, here's a comic with a Halloween theme.

Unfortunately these days, finding a truly funny comic book is a difficult task. The rare exception to this though are Bongo Comics. For over a decade, Bongo Comics has been the home for the "Groening Universe" (Simpsons Comics Presents Bart Simpson
,Radioactive Man
and of course, the original Simpsons

These titles are able to keep the humor of the original animated series and transfer it to the comic page. There are often times when I think I'm remembering a scene from a Simpsons episode, when in reality it's from the comic.

Each year at Halloween, much like the TV show, Bongo Comics release their own Treehouse of Horror. I look forward to these since they're able to recruit some very talented comic artists and writers. To prove this point, here are some of this years' contributors:
John Severin
, Mark Schultz
, Al Williamson
, Marv Wolfman
, Len Wein
, Gene Colan
and Len Wein
. Not a bad lineup, eh? This should be damn good, right? Well if you read the title at the beginning of this blog....

The book is split in two, featuring two covers. (one side of the book is rightside up while the other is upside down). At the top is one cover and below is the other:

In the side of the book with the Homer & Marge cover there's one long story called Two Tickets to HECK. The emphasis on EC of course refers to the classic company of horror, gore and war comics from the 1950's. The Simpsons are at a Halloween themed park. The family split up and Bart & Lisa find themselves entering mystery doors that enable them to travel through time. Thanks to the talents of artists Severin & Schulz you're supposed to get the feeling of the EC books, but it really doesn't work for me. What works even less is the tepid stories and very lame jokes. I expect more from the THOT issues, hopefully the "flipside" will save it.

Well, the first story, The Sub-Basement of Dracula has a neat concept. It reunites the creative team from Marvel's underrated 1970's Tomb of Dracula series, Wolfman & Colan, as they transform The Simpsons cast into TOD's vampire hunters.
The story has some funny lines (though is a bit over written) I did think it was fun seeing Colan's unique penciling depicting The Simpsons.

The highlight of the issue though (for me anyway) was Squish Thing. It's a clever idea/story that actually works. The original creators of DC's Swamp Thing, Wein & Wrightson retell the classic muck monster's origin with Homer Marge & Moe filling in for the original cast. Wein has some funny lines and the origin involving a swimming pool and a lime squishee is very good. But what really makes this a standout are the pencils & inks by Wrightson.

Bernie's the only one of the talented pencilers in this mag, that's able to depict the look of the Simpson characters and their environment in his style that doesn't look forced or jarring.

I expect better from Bongo's Treehouse of Horror issues and for half a book it's probably not worth the $4.99.

So if you're in a Comic Shop sneak a peak at the funny half and if you laugh and feel guilty that you weren't going to buy it but was entertained, then buy it! (or you could just avoid the whole soul searching and just watch the Treehouse of Horror episode this November 6th).

Wait a minute a Halloween episode on November 6th??? What the hell???..........

At least the comic came out in time for the Holiday.

Happy Birthday! (10/13/05)

He was a pioneer among comedians, often (unfairly IMO) only noted as "filthy Lenny" because his material was waaay ahead of it's time, but to put it simply, when he was at his peak he was just plain funny!

Here's a dark and smokey nightclub Happy Birthday to.....

"If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses." - Lenny Bruce,
would have been 80 today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Getting Lost in all these clues!

I've been a fan of the show Lost (as I've mentioned earlier on this blog) since the beginning. Mostly because it's so damn different than any other Primetime network TV show (and all the wannabe's that have cropped up this year are only very pale imitators).

A show like Lost is really made for the internet too. As I write this, thousands of internet Fox Mulder clones are flooding message boards with conspiracies, theories and "answers", and if you attempt to read them all you could go nuts! so I'm not about to join in here-

BUT - (you knew this was coming)

I did see this "clue" and decided to add it up here on cyberspace with all the other ones out there.
In last week's episode they introduced the Group that set up "The Hatch" as the Dharma Foundation.
Their logo is the black & white version with the swan (on the left below). If you see the picture of the crashed plane from the pilot episode (below) and the blow-up of the side of the plane (pictured above) it looks somewhat like the Dharma logo, doesn't it?

If that's true what does that mean? Were all the passengers part of this whole secret experiment run by this super secret Foundation? -or- Are all the Passengers really dead and this is some obscure limbo?-
or-....... well you get the idea.

Who the hell knows the reasons behind everything on Lost and that (for me anyway) is the real fun behind this show.

I do know this for sure! The entire series are not taking place within the mind of an autistic little boy. After all, that's been done before.

(though if in the final episode Locke wakes up in a bed with Emily Hartley.......)

Happy Birthday! (10/12/05)

Sure he may be known more these days for his hosting of the Tony Awards telecasts, and his onstage portrayal of Curly in Oklahoma
or most recently in his starring role as Van Helsing but seriously folks no matter what else this guy ever does in his career he'll always be everyone's favorite claw welding, canadian hot headed mutant killing machine, Wolverine to me!

Here's a *snikt"* *sinkt* Happy Birthday to.....

The true star of The X-Men is 37 today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

As rare as gold!

The other day while shopping at a local grocery store (a store called Giant, though it didn't look any larger than any other grocery store) I was surprised to see, stacked on an end cap display, boxes of....

Quisp cereal!!!!

Yes, everyone's favorite Quaker Oats Alien hosted cereal is here!!!

For those of you who aren't aware of Quisp, about 40 years ago, Quaker Oats came up with two (Captain Crunch-esque) flavored cereal. One was called Quake who's spokesman was a muscle bound minor.

The other (and my personal choice) was the saucer shaped cereal called Quisp.

Both cereals were helped a lot by the funny Jay Ward ads that ran on Saturday mornings
(wow, Saturday morning cartoon programming.... what a concept.) and were the part of most kids' breakfasts until the early/mid 1970's when-

--they disappeared!

Though there were always rumors that Quisp was available in obscure pockets of the country. Boxes of the Alien cereal were often spotted in places like Ogden, Utah or Peoria, Illinois, I never could find any where I was living.

Though the box is small and fairly pricey ($3 for the size), I 'm currently finishing off my purchase for breakfast this morning. While, unfortunately, there weren't any free prizes inside, they do list it's web site on the box. But don't expect too much from the site. I tried ordering a T-Shirt but it became such a pain to find any of the shirts they'd advertised on the box, I gave up.

Happy Birthday! (10/11/05)

She was one half of a very funny comedy duo, French & Saunders, she was part of that new wave of british comedians in the early 80's appearing on
The Young Ones
and The Comic Strip Presents.
but she really hit her stride starring in the very odd funny comedy The Vicar of Dibley.

Here's a "Fat Lady in the Painting" Happy Birthday to .....

The original 'Saffy' is 48 today.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Halloween Treats

With Halloween three weeks away, this past weekend I checked around my house to see if I was ready. No, not decorations or costumes, I needed to see if I had enough comic books.

For the past 7 years (with the exception of 2000 when I was moving that night from Kansas City to Philadelphia) every Halloween I give comic books along with candy to the trick-or-treaters. I think it's important that kids get in the habit of reading and comics are one of the best ways to accomplish that. (and I'd never give comics without giving candy too, you gotta have candy!!)

Now you'd think going about this, having comics on hand to give away would be an easy task, right??


Since the bulk of comic books made are by Marvel and DC I'm sort of at their mercy. Sure, they make enough superhero titles that you can choke a horse, but folks, not everyone wants to read just superhero titles. (and quite frankly, they shouldn't) And have you read many titles from these "big two" companies recently? If an issue isn't part of a long TPB length "six part story" or part of an earth shattering "company-wide crossover who-ha epic" the story and tone are about as dark as a "happy" episode of C.S.I.!

So at my visit to the local comic shop this weekend I checked out to see if they had any kid friendly books. You know, Disney, Cartoon Network titles, something that would bridge the gap between very young and early teen.

The shop had a rack of those, but at full price of course. If I bought, let's say, 30 copies that would cost me nearly $90!!!!! (hey, I feel for the kids and all, but not $90 worth!)

So I sauntered over to the 25¢ bin. Boxes full of books that the shop owner wanted to get rid of- and after looking through them, I can see why. Oh god, were these lousy books. I feel for every tree that died for them.

As I paid for my regular batch of books I brought up my plight to the shop clerk. He understood and said that he had a batch of "comic treats" that he'd sell me, 12 comics for $6! I was intrigued.

They were small ashcan full color titles. A Donald Duck title from Gemstone and a Spider-Man "Halloween Ashcan" from Marvel.

Wow! What a great idea!! I didn't know the comic companies were doing this!! Sure they weren't regular size books but hell they're small enough to fit in a treat sack and might get the kid interested in looking for the regular size books.

The Donald Duck title from Gemstone features "Hobblin Gobblins" a Carl Barks tale. This is exactly what I was looking for. A fun, done-in-one story that any kid would like to read. I mean, you can't go wrong with Carl Barks.

As for the Marvel title..... well.....what can I say. Marvel screws up again!

Yes, "Mighty Marvel" does what they do best these days. Shoot themselves in the foot! Here's a chance to give a nice, exciting story (begining-middle-and-end) that would not only entertain but maybe entice the reader to search out more similar titles, but nope!

The first two "stories" in this ashcan are only two four page "previews" of a Spider-Man and Fantastic Four Marvel Adventures stories.

Yeah Marvel, sure let's tease a possible new reader with two four pagers that don't really say anything but act only like a long ad. I was tempted to eat the $6 I just spent and chuck all 12 copies in the trash until I saw the third story.

It was a full 5 page story starring Franklin Richards. Yes, Marvel has come up with a fun comic version, aimed at kids starring Reed & Sue's first born; Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius.

It's a neat little story that almost makes up for the two four page "ads" that make up the bulk of this book. Is Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius original?? Well, If you don't count Dexters' Lab, Calvin and Hobbes, Jimmy Neutron and even Stewie Griffin from Family Guy
then no, it's not new. But these days I'll take what I can get.

I still have a couple weeks to add to my comic treats, though I'm not sure if I'll find anything better (without going broke).

If you're so inclined to give comics too (and I say too. GIVE CANDY & GUM AS WELL!!! I do work for a Gum and Candy Company you know) see if your local comic shops carry these ashcans as well, if only just for the Donald Duck title.

Happy Birthday! (10/10/05)

The films this man directed no other.
Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, Night of the Ghouls and of course Plan 9 from Outer Space.

Here's a cashmere Happy Birthday to.....

The lousy director who inspired a hell of a good Tim Burton film would have been 81 today.