Saturday, May 13, 2006

A boring meta-post about Blogger templates

A momentary aside from fun stuff as I play about with the template for my blog. I like this one a little better: it's bolder, doesn't have the distracting bubble background, and it doesn't seem to be overly used (at least in this color scheme) by the comics blogosphere.

However, if it doesn't appear right for you, will ya please let me know, 'specially if you're on a PC? I'm on a Mac and it displays properly in Safari and Firefox, but not in Internet Explorer for the Mac. As IE is no longer being updated for the Mac I'm not gonna lose much sleep over it, but please let me know if the page looks like this (and what system and browser it looks like this on):

I'll prob'bly be doing some minor tweaking of design and elements to this template, so nothin' set in stone. And yes, I saved the old template in case I haveta go back! I may have a little stuffed brain, but I do know enough to do backups!

Adventures in Bullhattan: Gnome jail

Gnome Jail

(13th Street between University and Fifth)

Levels of gnome crime in New York City have risen to such a huge level that gnomes are being jailed left and right. Here, this unfortunate soul plots his escape.

Or, maybe he's the warden at the jail: gnomes make good prison guards. Because as we all know, there's no police like gnomes.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Adventures in Bullhattan: This means you, Perry White

No Amnesty

(12th Street and Broadway)

(I feel I should also point out I do not support reporting illegal immigrants. Except for this guy.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Adventures in Bullhattan: Comic Book Store Windows Oughta Be Fun

Forbidden Planet

Golly! Was Mister Gary Groth here personally decorating the window of one of my favorite comic book stores, Forbidden Planet? (12th Street and Broadway)

(Edit: Dagnabbit it! The Fantastic Fantagraphics Folk already know about this. There goes my scoop!)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

One down, fifty-one to go.

Hi hi hi, Bully-fans! Let's see what's new and fun on the racks of your local comic book store this week, hmm?

First Family #3FIRST FAMILY #3: This comic is fun! Oh yes indeed, I'm glad I started picking up this FF spin-off book (after ignoring it for a couple months), 'cos as you may know, I'm the world's biggest little Fantastic Four Fan! (Mister Grimm told me so himself!) This continues the gritty but never grim (no pun intended) story of the FF's first frantic days after their fateful flight. (golly, that's a lot of words that start with "F," but that's kinda appropriate for a book about the Fantastic Four called First Family, isn't it?) A lot of folks on the comics blogsophere have been saying this woulda made a dandy FF movie. I'm not so sure about that—the pacing is a bit slow and deliberate for a modern big-screen Hollywood action epic, and it doesn't have a clear single villain that seems to be the trend for a comics-to-motion picture adaptation. In the end I don't care about it being a movie or not because this is a solid, thrilling, moody and compelling revisit to a never-seen portion of the FF's early career, and it actually makes me think different about my usual view that I don't like continuity implants! There's some nice character bits in here and the mystery of Reed's psychic tormentor continues, with a final twist you just want to say "da da duh!" when you read it! And of course, Chris Weston draws some incredible-lookin' Mole Man monsters! If there was only one disappointment to First Family #3, it was that I thought it would finally answer the burning question I have every time I look at the cover to FF #1: who tied up Reed? Still, this is a rock-solid (hah!), red-hot (tee-hee!), rubbery (huh?) comic that I hope is so popular that copies vanish from the shelves. Haw!

Batman: Year 100 #3BATMAN: YEAR 100 #3: This comic is fun. Here's another comic I missed out on the first issue (a case where "sold out" wasn't just DC hype!) but was able to pick up in the second printing (yay DC!) and now I'm firmly on the joyride with battered and beaten future Batman: he's down but not out. (Batman's never out!) The mystery starts to come together in this issue with Gordon's retelling of the last days of Arkham, and there's a dandy cliffhanger of a secret about to be told on the last page (just in time for the final issue next month) but the thrill of the ride is Batman escaping cops through his wits, training, strength, and some really, really hideous false teeth. I have the feeling that at the end of the year when I must vote on who the best supporting character of 2006 was, I'm gonna pencil in Batman Year 100's false teeth! I'm still not certain who "Robin" is and certainly unable to figger out the mystery of who Batman is and why he's bein' framed for a crime he didn't commit, but I've got faith in Mister Pope to pull it all together in the final issue next month. Also, I like a Batman who's slightly baffled at some points, asking "What door? What door?" and being stumped by a mystery—for the moment—and a Batman who treats his associates with respect and confidence is a Batman I wanna know. I've been disappointed in revamps and personal vision make-overs of Batman over the past year (you know I'm lookin' at you, Mister Miller!), but Batman: Year #100 delivers what I was looking for in that project: over-the-top, fast-moving, bigger-than-life Batman action, detection, and false teeth!

John Law #1WILL EISNER'S JOHN LAW: ANGELS AND ASHES, DEVILS AND DUST #1: This comic is fun. Whew! That's an awful long title to just say the words "We love Will Eisner!" Well, who doesn't? Gary Chaloner certainly does, and it shows in his imaginative and loving homage to Eisner's other famous detective, John Law. If your comics gotta be in color, this one's not for you, because it's in moody and shaded noir black-and-white, which is a wonderful style for a modern revisioning of a classic private eye character. Eisner purists may have a quibble with Chaloner's reimagination of Law but it's all done with love and respect. There are couple minor things that don't quite work for me: the use of Photoshop lighting and shadow effects and font typography, while subtle, seems out of place in an Eisner-inspired story, and the twist in this story seems a bit jarring and designed to shock (and it's puzzling when followed by the back-up story)—not to mention it seems to be a not-too-new twist on a surprise ending to a famous movie of a few years back. But it's beautifully drawn and designed, dynamic and spooky, and it's a dense comic book with a lot of dialogue that doesn't seem overcrowded but will definitely take you more than the usual few handful of minutes to read. If you liked The Spirit: The New Adventures, in which contemporary comics creators put their own spins on the Spirit (and I'm lookin' forward to Darwyn Cooke's version, oh yes I am), then you'll also prob'bly enjoy John Law.

52 #152 #1: This comic is fun! Whodathunkit? You all know that I'm a little stuffed bull who very stubbornly was not reading Infinite Crisis, but don't tell anybody: I did actually peek at it in detail in the comic store just enough to decide it looked cool but it really wasn't for me: I liked the art and the concept of a big overall multiversal rewriting but I didn't care much for the brutal violence and reimagining of Super-characters as murderers and brutes. On the other hand, I picked up a handful of IC preludes and tie-ins and some of them I liked very much indeed. So now that DC is starting up the weekly series 52 which covers the year inside the DCU without a Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman, what's a little stuffed bull to do? Why, it's only fair to dip my hoof in the water and see if it's fun or not, as well as trying to keep my New Year's resolution to Try Each Week to Pick Up One New Comic Title I Haven't Been Reading. And rest assured, Bully-fans, this one actually is a good deal of fun. I did not like the despair of the Elongated Man, so severe he is putting a gun in his mouth (yikes!), especially since at the end of Identity Crisis he was sad but not suicidal. Plus, why is Geoff Johns so obsessed with ripping people's arms off (Black Adam does the deed here). Mister Johns, did you train under Obi-Wan Kenobi? Aside from that there's a lot to like about this issue: the cheerful optimism of Booster Gold that everything is about to be all right (surprise, Booster!), the return of Skeets, an authoritative, strict but fair Steel (one of the best characters to come out of the Death of Superman storyline, and showing great promise here), an amazing Watchmanesque page starring the Question, Mister Mind (whoo hoo!), and The Best Line of the Week: "Are you ready?" Heck yeah, Mister Question. I'm ready. Bring it on, 'coz after issue #1, I've got my hooves crossed that DC really can keep the storylines rolling and my interest peaked week after week for a full year. Even if i don't review it every week, I'll try to check in now and again and let you know what I think of 52, but if you're enjoying this series, you should be reading and bookmarking what I think is a nifty clever idea for a new blog: Douglas Wolk's 52 Pickup, which will review each issue of the series, every week, for the entire year. That a single comics series can already inspire such a incisive and well-written blog is more proof that 52 is the most fun comic of the week! (Just don't get off schedule and start missing weeks, DC!)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Flash

Elseworlds logo "In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places—some that have existed, and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist. The result is stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow."

Today, I just saw the best superhero movie of the summer season.

"But Bully!" you say, gasping in shock and amazement. "No one has seen X-Men: The Last Stand yet! Nobody has been admitted to a screening of Superman Returns today! And Snakes on a Plane's sure-to-break-all-box-office-records opening day is months away! You didn't see a superhero movie! You're lying to us, aren't you? Aren't you?! AREN'T YOU!"

Jeepers! Calm down, you. I'm being allegorical.

The Promise

Today I saw The Promise, the new film by Chen Kaige, the acclaimed director of Farewell, My Concubine. (I don't know what a concubine is. I think it is a small, spiky, mammal.) The Promise is a saga of love and war, a story of destiny and honor in ancient China, in the vein of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The acting is great, the stunts are incredible, the effects are pretty cool, and it made me sniffle and tear up at the sad bits.

Also, it was an Elseworlds story about The Flash.

Flash! Da da! Savior of the universe!Oh, don't get me wrong. It really isn't about the Flash in Ancient China. But as I sat there in the dark with my eyes glued to the screen and my hoof in my popcorn bucket, I kept thinking, "Wow. Wow. If they turned this into a comic book—maybe a two or three issue prestige series (I'm picturing art by Alan Davis or Yoshitaka Amano)...well, it would be the best Flash Elseworlds comic ever. (Has there ever been a Flash Elseworlds comic? Okay, still, bear with me here.)

The hero of The Promise, the slave Kunlun (say it soft and it's almost like "Allen") is possessed of such incredible superhuman speed that he can outrun a rampaging herd of bulls. On all fours. With another guy on his back. And hey, if there's anybody who's going to be rooting for a herd of CGI bulls, it's this little stuffed movie-viewer right here, but I was standing on the edge of my seat yelling "Go Kunlun go!" (Then the usher shushed me and told me I'd had to leave if I kept on shouting like that).

Kunlun wears a bright red tunic for much of the film (this is, like Hero, another Chinese epic film in which color is incredibly important to the mood and theme)—he even has red and gold armor and a mask on at one point. His speed is such that it can even rip through time when he accelerates, but he learns more about the zen of speed from Snow Wolf, a mysterious and reluctant mentor as fast as (Max?) Mercury.

A fast guy alone doesn't a Flash Elseworlds make. There's other superheroic and fantastic elements that contribute to The Promise's comic book feel (and I mean that in the highest compliment possible, of course!): he takes on the mantle and identity of his mentor

The General and the Slave Flash of Two Worlds

performs amazing superhuman feats of strength and dexterity.

Kunlun opens doors Faster than lightning!

to save his one true love

The Princess. Sigh... Iris can be a bitch sometimes.

from an evil villain

Ooooh, evil. SPLIT!

To make it a real Elseworlds, of course, DC would hafta shoehorn in a lot more DCU elements. I'm picturing a super-strong visitor from a strange, distant, long-destroyed land, a bat-winged ninja, a emerald gladiator, and a warrior princess. (Also, a Martian.) But heck, those would just clutter up the plot and distract from Kunlun's story. (One of the quibbles I do have with Elseworlds is the tendency to toss everything in from the regular universe including the Kryptonite sink in an attempt to shoehorn in a whole buncha cameos, even if it's a story focusing only on one hero.)

Beware the kite-eating tree!Whether or not you're a Flash Fan, of course, I still recommend The Promise. Sure, it's not perfect: some of the long-distance battle scenes are very obvious CGI and the film has gotten poor reviews from the media-guys who review movies but heck! What do they know? The movie I saw was a beautiful spectacle, a roller coaster of action and a moody and sad twist ending. There's a number of amazing set pieces: a hide-and-seek battle among a series of sliding panels in a circular room, escapes from elaborate gilded cages and corridors of mazes, leaps over waterfalls and horseshoe canyon ambushes, and my personal favorite, an escape sequence where Kunlun rescues the Princess, running so fast as he pulls her that she soars in the sky behind him like a kite on a string. Watch out for that kite-eating tree, Kunlun!

The kinetic action is a cross between the elegance of House of Flying Daggers and the cartoon energy of Kung Fu Hustle, with a vibrant color palette straight out of a Crayola big box of 64. And, golly, who wouldn't come out of this movie having a big fat little stuffed crush on Cecilia Chung?:

I wish she would kiss me on the nose.

I give The Promise two hooves up. And when you watch it, just imagine Barry Allen taken from his usual settings and put into a strange time and place. I'm not saying it's a better movie than Snakes on a Plane. But The Promise does justice to the power of speed better than any movie since...since, well, since that film about the bus that couldn't slow down.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006


I'm a little stuffed bull who loves his iPod, oh boy, you betcha. Not just to listen over and over again to my favorite album by the very cute and still unaccountably single Miss Lisa Loeb (pick me to be on your dating show, Lisa! Pick me!) but also to catch up on the media that Wired magazine is still talking about as "the next big thing" even though it's been around for, oh, seems like ages: video postcasting. It's easy and fun and thanks to pioneers like Adam "Best Hair in the Business" Curry, and to Mister Steve Jobs and all the fine folks at Apple and the developers of iTunes, it's now a lot easier to download and save audio and video podcasts. You don't even hafta have an iPod (but if you do have a fifth-generation one you can also watch videos on your iPod. All you need's Apple's iTunes 6 software installed on your computer and you can watch these films on your desktop or laptop computer.

Now, I'm not 'llowed to download and watch video podcasts (vodcasts? vidcasts?) like Tiki Bar TV or French Maids TV (put some clothes on, girls! You're gonna catch your death of cold giving instructional broadcasts dressed like that!). But there are some great fun podcasts for all ages, and here's some of my faves especially for comics and cartoon fans:

  • Vintage ToonCastVintage ToonCast: Public domain animated cartoons, mostly from the Golden Age of the 1940s. You wouldn't have seen these on Saturday mornings on The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour when you were growing up, nosiree Bob, no way. Many of them feature racial depictions that were par for their times but which are un-PC today. Any superhero fan'll especially get a kick out of the series of Fleischer Superman cartoons they've been posting (9 so far). If you've seen these before you know they are probably the finest superhero cartoons ever created: moody, fluid, energetic and all-out-gorgeous. If you've never seen 'em, gosh, what are you waiting for, especially if you're a fan of the modern-day Bruce Timm Batman, Superman, and Justice League cartoons they inspired? These Superman films have been floating around in public domain for many years and on bootleg VHS and DVD copies, but it's well worth seein' 'em again, even as a small window on a computer screen. Even if you've seen the Superman cartoons, you might not have seen some of the "Joe Snafu" Warner Brothers army informational and inspirational cartoons (with a definite adult, military bent), the goofy, surreal and oh-so-colorful "Aladdin and His Magical Lamp" (by Disney's Ub Iwerks) or this Bugs Bunny cartoon that ends with Elmer and a chorus line in blackface. Vintage ToonCasts are somewhat marred by an unnecessary and distracting letterboxing to put their website name and source on the bottom and right-hand sides, but that's a small price to pay for being able to download these free classic cartoons.

  • ReFrederatorReFrederator: (Kid) sister site to the popular Frederator ("The World's Original Cartoon Podcast"), ReFrederator takes the Nick-at-Nite approach and presents classic, seldom-seen, public domain cartoons. It's obvious the Frederator folks spotted Vintage ToonCast's approach and appropriated it as well, which is clear in their choice of cartoons (some of which are even the same). Still, more choices of this type of video podcast channel means more for us, the viewer! ReFrederator presents a new vintage cartoon each day in "theme weeks" (Comic Strip Week, Celebrity Impersonator Week) and has a wider variety of toons with classic characters like Little Lulu, Popeye, Felix the Cat, but I've got to recommend my personal favorite: an utterly surreal Toonerville Trolley cartoon from the Amadee Van Beuren Studios and featuring surely the sensational character find of 1936: The Powerful Katrinka. Missing it won't destroy your life, but golly, watching it will bring joy and happiness that'll keep you whistlin' all day. The Frederator podcasts also are backed up by a fun and tongue-in-cheek Frederator blog of commentary and discussion on independent animated cartoon-making. I guess I need a lot more crayons if I want to finish all the animator cels for Little Stuffed Bull: The Motion Picture!

  • BrickfilmsThe Podcast: Some of us just build stuff, willy-nilly, with their Lego. Others are a lot more talented and make stop-motion animated cartoons with 'em! I'm just in plain awe of the filmmakers who create mini-worlds out of Lego bricks and give their stories life and energy even if the starring characters are only one inch tall and made of plastic. The Brickfilms podcast presents a nice variety of these films ranging from a moody and spooky adaptation of Goethe's Dance of Death, a 60-second version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a fake trailer for the third Star Wars film (that's a lot more entertaining than the official Lucas version), but for me the stand-out don't-miss-it film is the epic adventures of the ultimate Arabian hero: Aladibababad!
Sure, I love comics. Comics are fun. But they also cost three or four bucks a pop. Don't forget that sometimes fun entertainment is free entertainment! (And if you're anti-Apple or anxious to avoid supporting or installing iTunes, you can find the films on the podcasts' websites or (for the ReFrederator and Vintage ToonCast cartoons) on the ever-impressive! Believe me, they're much better than the confusingly-titled M: I: III, plus, they don't cost ten bucks to see!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Man, Kal-El can hold a grudge

Superman #142, February 1999, six years before Countdown to Infinite Crisis:

Okay, Clark, we know you're angry, but be a bigger man about it. If, say, Blue Beetle ever comes to you lookin' for some kind of help in five or six years, don't just brush him off and...

Whoops. Never mind.

Man, Jim Croce was right.