Category Archives: Comics

Micro Heroes


Golden Age Microheroes

Golden Age Microheroes

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon Darrin Rogers(?)’ site MICRO HEROES recently while researching a limited edition Marvel graphic novel called THE TWELVE that came out in 2009.  It’s an interesting story.  B-List Superheroes (and non-powered heroes) are trapped in suspension back in 1945, come to life in present day (which is assumed to be 2009) and have to cope with reality.   The writers had deliberately chosen somewhat obscure, limited run characters from Marvel’s pre-history days.  It turns out there’s a colorful history out there in Golden Age comics.  I’m not an authority or even a regular reader on comics, but I do like the occasional story like this– it has an ULTIMATES flavor to it.

Anyway, Micro Heroes are flat, two dimensional portrayals of famous Golden Aged heroes AND villains from the great old days of comic books, mostly dating to the 40s and 50s.  The artist, whom I think is Darrin Rogers (if I’m reading it correctly), has created a veritable visual encyclopedia of comics on his sites.

Omniverse Chronicles

Double ‘A’ Publications

Copper’s Golden Age Villians and Vultures

It’s all grand goofy fun, and definitely worth a look.   There’s literally nothing more to this site than lots and lots and LOTS of pictures of obscure comic book heroes from the 40s, and you can lose a lot of time there.

Advertisements
Image

First, a Polaris Submarine, now, a Browning Machine gun! From the the back of the comic book to you!


First, a Polaris Submarine, now, a Browning Machine gun! From the the back of the comic book to you!

One of my most visited posts is the one about the Polaris Submarine from the back of comic books. I had a helpful reader remind me about this little wonder– the Automatic Firing Tripod Machine Gun! Modeled after the water cooled .30 caliber Browning, apparently! And for sale from the back of a comic book for less than two big ones, back in the 60s and 70s. This ad was more rare than the submarine or tank ads, but I remember seeing it now and again way back in the day. If only I had grasped the potential of heavy weaponry back in my childhood.. tanks, subs and machine guns. I could have taken over a small central American country with my Comic Book Arsenal. The reality is that it was some form of rapid fire B.B. Gun.  I’m still looking for a picture of the actual item. Click on the picture for more.

Geekgasm: Free Comic Book Day AND May the Fourth Be With You


Free Comic Book Day!

It was a nerd implosion yesterday as comic book stores all around this great nation celebrated a recent tradition, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY. According to the Free Comic Book Day website, Free Comic Book Day has three main purposes:

  • To introduce everyone to the joys of reading comics.
  • To Call Back former comic book readers
  • To thank current comic book buyers for their continued support.

Publishers produce special edition comics geared to attracting new non-comic readers. There is a wide diversity of comics available, from traditional comics fare like Archie and Disney, super-heroes from Marvel and DC, manga from Tokyopop, as well as work from independent publishers.

In its first six years, more than 2000 retailers in more than 30 countries have given away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special-edition comic books. The success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer. Most participants agree that Free Comic Book Day has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years. Free Comic Book Day has also garnered tremendous press coverage in all media helping the comic book industry.  –  Free Comic Book Day website

CosPlay Galore at Free Comic Book Day

I’m not a huge fan of comic books. I read a few of them when I was younger but pretty much grew out of it, though adult themed comics like THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, WATCHMEN, and THE KILLING JOKE definitely showed up on my radar. Nevertheless, I enjoy a geekfest as much as anyone, maybe more than most. This year rose to expectations due to the simultaneous celebration of the anniversary of Star Wars tearing up the Internets, with all that “Fourth be With You” hoopla that has been all over the place on the internet lately.

And MORE Cosplay at Phoenix

I dropped by two local comic book shops, Victory Comics in Falls Church, VA and Phoenix Comics in Fairfax, VA.   It was a mob scene both places.  Victory has become kind of a fallback gaming spot for me in the past six months, and they were having a great 25% sale on non-comic stuff– so that’s where I went first.   Long lines, free comics.  I was kind of surprised at what was being offered up as free– advertising material, manga and reprint stuff from the 40s.  I picked up Buck Rogers, Prince Valiant, Walking Dead 2000 AD and a few other things for Garrett.

Slideshow:

FreeComicBookDay2013

Sure, it was crowded, sure, they only let you take a tiny amount of free comics.  So what?  It was a fun time.

Obligatory Montage:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Mystery Solved! My Obsession with Acquiring a Polaris Submarine


Growing up, I read a lot of comics. Comics in my era had classified ads in the back, and they were visually stunning, and full of lies. It took a few tries to steel myself from inevitable disillusionment. For example.. the “Box of 100 Soldiers” ad, which promised something really cool:

100 Soldiers

100 Soldiers ad, the theoretical…

… only to discover, after scraping together the fee and postage and sending (cash! through the mail!) to this company that the foot locker was cardboard, and the figures rather pathetic poorly made flats, not in scale with anything, including the planes and ships that came with:

… and the actual.  When you are expecting 3D and get 2D, you get a little cynical.

Gradually, even the dimmest, dewey eyed enthusiast looking for creative ways to blow his paper route money gets a little jaded. One figures out that Sea Monkeys are actually brine shrimp, and that X-Ray specs (women will never trust you with these) aren’t even a particularly clever gimmick.

So when I started to see the greatest promise made by comic book ads — the King Ghidorah of coolness in comic book ad form.. yes, THE POLARIS NUCLEAR SUBMARINE FOR 6.98, I had grown worldly wise far beyond my years, sufficient to know this ad was a scam. Uncle Sam wasn’t going to part with advanced weaponry for a mere 7 dollars.. er.. or was he? That was a whole week of scavenging construction sites to find bottles to turn in for deposit! I wasn’t about to risk it!  And yet.. I wanted to believe…

Polaris comic book ad

The Polaris ad, in all its four color glory!

I can’t tell you how much the 9 or 10 year old me wanted it to be true, yet at the same time, I KNEW it was going to be a toy, and made cheaply at that.  Hope perversely endures.  In the back my mind I thought that, hey, maybe, just maybe it was a big plastic thing, with spring loaded torpedoes, large enough to house me and all my buddies.. maybe it will float, at least.. and hey, maybe we could take it to the pool an submerge it!  This actually might be almost worth it!!! YEAH!!! (suddenly, my still-forming adult BS detector would ring alarmingly, and I would real in my fantasies).

I am amused to look back on my childhood and remember what I was picturing in my mind’s eye:

Even in my my most optimistic moments, the smart part of me knew that these adults were taking advantage of me, of course.

Gradually, I got older, put comics away as childish things and didn’t really think of it, until I discovered a nostalgia webpage that was dedicated to the toy soldier sets of my comic book-reading past. Sure enough, there was the 100 Toy Soldier set I was stupid enough to save up for. And other sets I jonesed for in pre-adolescent envy.. the American revolutionary set. The Romans (who turned out to be flats again, those sneaky thieves!). Nowhere did I see a representation of my childhood obsession, the Polaris Submarine. I have looked high and low on the internet since, and it seemed as if there as no visual record of what the actual sub looked like and what it was made of. Did all the submarines that got sold self destruct? There were (are) no artifacts of the Polaris sub’s existence, anywhere! Just mentions of the ad here and there on the web where the writer was feeling nostalgic for a more innocent time. Why, why was there NO evidence that this thing ever existed in reality? Was no one ever taken in? I just found that hard to believe.

I was resigned to living a Polaris-free existence for the rest of my days. That is, until a Boing Boing reader recently sent in the following picture in response to an article that ran on the subject of comic book ads:

The Polaris Sub

The Polaris Submarine from the comics, at long last.

Yes, that’s it. At long last, we see what it looked like. My guess (even at age 9) was that it would be made of pasteboard or cardboard, and the rockets and torpedoes were just cardboard as well. Upon actually seeing what they sent you for your seven dollars, now I feel two things.. A) that I pretty much got it dead on. and B) I’m glad I didn’t get taken in when I was a kid.  As an adult, I kind of like the lines of the thing, it looks sort of like a wingless space shuttle.  As a kid, I would have felt horrifically ripped off to get this for my seven hard-earned dollars.  I could just hear the hoots of derision if I had uncrated THIS thing in my front yard.

And in conclusion, It’s nice to finally solve this mystery!

Related:

Life is a Cosmic Cone.. a Cosmic Encounter comic strip…


The idea for this came to me during a recent game of one of my favorite boardgames, Cosmic Encounter. My group has a certain dramatic way of presenting the game play which is echoed here in the names of the characters: the Green Machine, the Blue Meanies, the Red Menace, the Orange Crush, The Yellow Peril and the Purple People Eaters. In this episode, Red tries a time-honored trick.

Click on the cover to view

Life is a Cosmic Cone

Click the image to go to the comic

COSMIC ENCOUNTER is copyright Peter Olotka and Eon Games.

Iron Man II: Angst-laden, but still rocking hard


Warning: this is going to contain plot spoilers. If you want see the movie fresh, don’t read this.

I took Gar to see Iron Man II last night. I admit, I was never a huge fan of Iron Man or the Avengers in my comic reading phase as a youngster. I doubt I even read one Iron Man comic book. But, having read a few Avengers now and then, one can’t get away from the basic story of Mr. Tony Stark and his many problems, pitfalls, and tragedies. One of the hallmarks of Marvel comics (back in the day at least) was the way they treated character development. Marvel characters weren’t perfect– it seems as if they were all dysfunctional at some level. Peter Parker lives in poverty, his girlfriend gets killed, etc. Captain America can’t fit into a 21st century world and is always experiencing culture clash problems. And Tony Stark? Well, that guy was lucky to be alive.. a heart that is replaced by a small nuclear reactor. Drug and Booze dependency. Erratic personality problems. Casting Robert Downey Jr. in the role, well, that was sheer casting genius. An actor of considerable talent, Downey had his own personal demons to exorcise, and he certainly can bring that to the screen performance of Stark. I don’t catch every comic book movie– but I catch a lot of them, having kids. I did see Iron Man I and as far as comic book movies go, it’s one of the better ones.. although that’s not a high bar to jump over most times. Iron Man I had a good story, an engaging hero who wasn’t perfect (and thus, somewhat easier to grasp), and a strong good-versus-evil plot. I liked it. It ranked right up there with the first Spiderman movie in “good movies made out of comic book material” for me.

Iron Man II takes up where the first movie leaves off.. it’s not said how much later, but one gets the impression of about a year from various events in the film. The Government (Uncle Sam) is a bit pissed off about being upstaged by a guy in a metal suit. They want to take over the Iron Man “weapon” and (one assumes) create a legion of Iron Men soldiers to go and kick ass in foreign places. Stark doesn’t want this to happen, citing his intellectual property rights (in a comically oblique fashion) during senatorial hearings. This introduces Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, who wants to see his own fortunes increase by getting his hand on the Iron Man suit– we see a humorous sequence of various countries and their efforts to build their version of an Iron Man suit (including Hammer’s embarrassing attempts). Rockwell is a great actor (see in him MOON sometime, you won’t regret it) and he gives this character a sort of “sad sack, yet cheerfully malevolent” air that I though brought an edge to the story.

Then we add Ivan Vanko to the equation. He’s the son of a guy who once worked with Tony Stark’s dad, and not a particularly nice guy. He IS driven by revenge– Stark’s dad apparently took a design for an arc reactor (the glowing energy thing in Iron Man’s chest) which both of them worked on, and made it work, but had Ivan’s dad deported. Or that’s the way Ivan sees it. Ivan clearly has been to jail from his general look … so he’s no angel either. Apparently (from Wikipedia) he’s a re-envisioning of a few characters– the Crimson Dynamo and the first Whiplash, who was into S&M gear. Mickey Rourke is another fine under-appreciated actor who has had his personal demons to chase. I loved him THE WRESTLER, and he brings some of that here, but he’s just not on screen enough– although the iconic Monaco sequence (which we have all seen on TV) is magnificent. Ivan’s defeated (as he has to be) but makes a surprisingly cogent point when Stark visits him in prison– “Am I defeated? When you make a god bleed, you open the eyes of everyone else” He has a point, as Vanko did nearly kick Iron Man’s butt. Hammer and the Government take notice.. and, of course.. Vanko gets sprung in a very clever sequence, for the inevitable next step, to help build a series of big Soldier Suit things (actually they are drones, not iron men knockoffs).

It’s here that the movie dragged.. a lot, for me. Suddenly, we have to get all self-destructive. Suddenly, Stark has Daddy Abandonment Issues. Suddenly, he’s losing control of his empire, and the woman he loves hates him and blah de blahdy blah. Where have we seen this stuff before? Oh yeah, in a million other movies. Of course, it all gets sorted out in time for a seriously butt-kicking finale, which did not feature enough of Vanko for my liking, but it did introduce (rather nicely) the character of WarMachine, Tony Stark’s buddy Jim Rhodes flying a previous variant of the Iron Man Mark I, all pimped up with external weaponry (including a chain gun). Unlike many another SECOND super hero movie “Sophomore Slump” Iron Man II does NOT spend overly long chunks of movie time introducing new characters– WarMachine, Black Widow (although they don’t call her that), Justin Hammer and Whiplash all come into the movie without taking twenty minutes each establishing their backgrounds. This is a good thing– that sort of plotting can ruin a sequel, as Tim Burton can tell you.

And thus we arrive at the conclusion.. WarMachine established, bad guy beaten and killed (too bad! I liked him). Of course, we get the now iconic after-the-credits tease for the next big thing, which appears to be a THOR Movie. That should be a challenge. I hope they bring some talent to the table for that one– Thor in a modern age will be.. interesting.

So to sum up.. far better a sequel than many superhero from comic book flicks. A bit draggy in the middle for my tastes. Could have done without the weepy mopey parts, but I guess they were needed to move the plot along. I’d give it a solid middle of the grade B.. not the A- of Iron Man, but not the grade D- of Daredevil either. A very worthy effort, and watchable.

Vintage Style Superhero art


Superman

Superman, by Michael Meyers.

Michael Meyers is a designer and illustrator who also blogs about his own work and work he admires. He sells his DC/Marvel-inspired superhero prints through Imagekind ranging in price from around $17-92 depending on size (more for framing). Available are Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Hawkman, the Green Lantern, the Flash, the Green Arrow and Captain America. Worth a look.

Little Charlie Xavier


Now that you mention it, it’s a natural

Click on Thumbnail to view

(Click on Thumbnail to view “X-Nuts”)

Religious themed comics


It *is* Sunday…

Just thought I’d share.

Because sharing is caring!

Click on graphics for a better view.

The Dark Secret of Larry the Cable Guy


bullet rocket

UnFunny is STILL UnFunny

If you’re like me, you’d like to see all the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” comics slowly grilling over a charcoal fire. Okay, maybe only in my fantasies.. An anonymous comment has called my comments into clarity, and I will ammend them. I still think Bill Whatsisface is funny, and Ron “Tater Salad” White is hysterical. Still. So I don’t wish ill will on ALL of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. I just don’t like the way they seem to monopolize prime time on the Comedy Channel.

On the Other Hand, I’m heartily sick of seeing this face:

Gitting Her Done since.. whenever. The Larry the Cable Guy Book, if you can imagine that

So with some glee, let’s see what Larry the Cable Guy was like before he emerged from his cable guy chrysalis..

This rare bit of video footage proves the dumbass redneck act is just that. Surprise surprise..

Check out the open letter to Larry on the David Cross webpage..

Comics are a worthy pursuit..


bullet rocket

The comic that dared to ask the eternal question..

Dat’s right, bitches! Rick James.. SMAAAAASH!!!!

And it’s super-freaky!

Here’s the truly funny part. THIS ISN’T A PARODY. One wonders if the Marvel Comics editors from the early 80s were snorting the same stuff Rick James was!

Damn you Charlie Murphy!

(apologies to Dave Chappelle)

Bat-Woman goes Lesbian


bullet rocket

Two guesses what Demographic THIS will appeal to?

And if you say “14 year old lesbian comic book fans”, I’ve got some land to sell you.

For the record, there have been at least a couple of gay superheros here and there. I think one of the characters in “Alpha Flight”, the Canadian super hero team, was gay (Northstar was his name, and he actually contracted HIV virus, which I thought was pretty bold for a comic!). The new DC series THE AUTHORITY features a well-adjusted gay superhero couple called “Apollo and Midnighter”. If you agree with the premise of THE GAY LEAGUE website, there actually have been many gay superheros, although none of them appear to be “A-listers”.

Ain’t the internet a wonderful thing for finding out all you could want to know about an obscure topic?

I hate to go tawdry here, but I suspect the BIG market for a beautiful lesbian superhero is likely to be a masturbating MALE fourteen year old, not the legions of gay comic book fans. But we will see. I have no problems with comics broadening their appeal– there are no sacred cows therein.

Article follows: Copyright 2006 BBC News

Batwoman hero returns as lesbian

Batwoman’s new look has been designed by artist Alex Ross
Comic book heroine Batwoman is to make a comeback as a “lipstick lesbian” who moonlights as a crime fighter, a DC Comics spokesman has confirmed.
Batwoman – real name Kathy Kane – will appear in 52, a year-long DC Comics publication that began this month.
BATWOMAN is a trademark of Titan Books
In her latest incarnation, she is a rich socialite who has a romantic history with another 52 character, ex-police detective Renee Montoya.

52 will be published in the UK as a graphic novel by Titan Books in 2007.

The series is set in a world in which established superheroes Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman do not play a part.

Reinvention

The new-look Batwoman is just one of a wave of ethnically and sexually diverse characters entering the DC Comics universe.

Others include Mexican teenager Blue Beetle – who replaces the character’s previous white incarnation – and the Great Ten, a government-sponsored team of Chinese superheroes.

Regular characters Firestorm and The Atom, meanwhile, have been reinvented as black and Asian heroes respectively.

The characters are part of a wider effort to broaden the make-up of comic-book creations in line with society as a whole.

Batwoman, who first appeared in July 1956, has not been seen since September 1979 when she was killed by the League of Assassins and the Bronze Tiger.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the Great Ten was based on the old stories of THE SEVEN CHINESE BROTHERS? Think about it, they were prototypical superheros!

Flights of fancy, flights of genius


bullet rocket

Archie versus the Punisher

Ain’t the internet a wonderful thing?

I’m not a huge comics geek; but it’s hard not to get intrigued by some of “the scene” when you work with two of them.

Here’s a little fallout of a search I did for “Superman versus Muhammed Ali”, which my colleague and I both recall from ages ago. On the same site (technknight.com), I discovered ARCHIE VERSUS THE PUNISHER. The storyline is pretty silly and not really important.. (something about mixed up identities). However, the whole exercise is worth it for this page (pay attention to Archie’s eyes in the top frame). I don’t know when this came out or why, but I think it’s hysterically funny.

CLICK TO SEE FULL SIZED

Since I try to keep comics chatter to a minimum, I’ll drop in a few non-sequitor comics related bits here so I don’t clutter up the blog with it:

From the recent visits to a couple of Northern Va. comics shops with Gar on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, I got finagled into trying a few slightly irreverant series.. what the heck, I bought the first issues of both of them.

The New MARVEL ZOMBIES is great fun.

Premise:

THE STORY:
Torn from the pages of Ultimate Fantastic Four! On an Earth shockingly similar to the Marvel Universe’s, an alien virus has mutated all of the world’s greatest super heroes into flesh-eating monsters! It took them only hours to destroy life as we know it—but what happens when they run out of humans to eat?!? Follow their search for more food—and witness the arrival of the Silver Surfer!

I guess I’d have to back track to figure out how they set this up, but all of the Marvel heroes have become flesh-eating zombies. The kicker is that they are still intelligent, and still subject to their previous moral/ethical code.. that is, until hunger sets in. Oh, wow, is this “irreverant”.. what they do to that pack of goody-two shoes will have you howling with laughter. No spoilers!

Also, I tried out the first twoo episodes of NEXT WAVE.

This is a sort of “altered universe” niche universe thing. Warren Ellis, the mind behind TRANSMETROPOLITAN, and to whose blog I subscribe, is a guy who’s been around the block a few times but I’m just now getting into him (due to a recent podcast I heard where the name was being dropped). Ellis takes several b-side, second string characters (the black female Captain Marvel, Machine Man, etc) and builds a “monster fighting” team of them. The humor is dark and funny, the art reasonably well drawn. I think I will pick up the first collection of this when it comes out, it’s really funny and well worth your time.

Can there be a better word in the English language than "free?"


TANSTAAFC*

Hey! Next Saturday (May 6) is

Found this out on Brett Abbot’s blog, thanks Brett. The concept is you go into one of the participating stores and they hand you a wide selection of free comics. Fortunately, I have several comic stores within driving distance on their list.

To view the Free Comic Book Day website, click on the logo.

* — their ain’t no such thing as a free comic

Speaking of walking down memory lane..


Vaughn Bode

Weird Limited Edition Foreign Language strip

Vaughn Bode CHEECH WIZARD

Vaughn Bode DEADBONE

THE WAR LIZARDS

The world lost a great talent when Vaughn Bode accidently strangled himself while masturbating.