Saturday, October 27, 2007

Separated at Birth: Meanwhile, Out in the Backyard

Animal Man #14 and #22
L: Animal Man #14 (August 1989), art by Brian Bolland
R: Animal Man #22 (April 1990), art by Brian Bolland
(Click picture to elephant-size)


What's the story behind these complementary covers? Highlight the following to reveal the SPOILER: In Animal Man #14, young Maxine Baker (daughter of Buddy Baker, Animal Man) encounters a mysterious stranger in the back yard who she calls "Daddy." In Animal Man #20, Buddy's family is brutally murdered. In #22, Buddy borrows a time machine from Rip Hunter and goes back in time before his family's deaths...he is the mysterious stranger recognized by Maxine. Later, Grant Morrison brings the Bakers back to life. No, really.

If you want to read Grant Morrison's fantastic stories behind these covers (and I highly recommend 'em!), you'll find Animal Man #14 in the second trade paperback collection of the series; #22 in the third.



Saturday Morning Cartoon: I Miss You


"I Miss You" by Björk, directed by John Kricfalusi



Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Night Fights: I just hope you understand sometimes the clothes do not make the man

As has been mentioned here and there, Batman is a master of timing:
Solo #9 panel



Yowza! That's a pretty good sucka punch, Batman. And I could just leave that for my entry in Friday Night Fights, call it a good evening, and go make chocolate chip cookies. (Mmmmmmmm.) But there's more to the story than that punch, and b'lieve me, it makes the punch that much sweeter. Even sweeter than cookies!

You'll find the bat-punch in Scott Hampton's issue (#9) of the late lamented spotlight anthology series Solo. It's in the lead story of the issue, "Batman: 1947," written by John Hitchcock and illustrated by Hampton. As the story opens, a man heads out for his night job as Batman. Sounds like Bruce Wayne beginning his patrol, doesn't it? Not quite:
Solo #9 panel
All panels are from "Batman: 1947" in Solo #9 (April 2006), written by John Hitchcock, art by Scott Hampton, lettering by Jared K Fletcher



That's not Bruce Wayne—it's an actor who puts on a cloth Batman suit to appear for publicity purposes. He's worried his son will be disappointed when he finds the truth: that he's not really Batman. His wife comforts him and sends him on his way.

The suit in the story is remarkably like the Batman costume in the 1943 and 1949 movie serials...
Serial Batman



...which is an appropriate art choice for Hampton, as the suit's being used to drum up publicity for a Saturday morning Batman movie serial to adoring fans, especially wide-eyed kids. Well, who wouldn't be wide-eyed to meet Batman? I know I would be!
Solo #9 panel



It'd be a nice vignette but not much of a story if the whole comic consisted of our ersatz Batman standing around signing autographs and lowering the value of those copies of Detective #27, so of course Hampton ramps up the action by adding those ultimate nemeses of Batman: bad guys:
Solo #9 panel



You got excuse me for printing that entire page there, but I just loves it so much. If I was to have any page of Scott Hampton original art—and there's a lot of great ones—I'd pick this very page. I love the wide-eyed expressions in the first panel, the middle-tier pleading and dilemma, and the instant shift to a wild sprint as Batman springs into action, unlike some other would-be heroes who step aside when robbers run past them (coughpeterparkercough).

Of course, this is a guy without spider- bat-strength or agility or dexterity, and what happens next is what you would expect to happen if you dress up as a bat and give chase to criminals: they pull a gun on you:
Solo #9 panel



And that's when all heck breaks loose.
Solo #9 panel



Here's where that Batman punch comes, and isn't it more satisfying now that you know the set-up? And Batman displays not only his uncanny sense of knowing when to strike with his fists but also the unparalleled comedic timing that is synonymous with the Dark Knight:
Solo #9 panel



I'm not making fun of that, by the way. Batman should make a joke once in a while. It doesn't have to be a gutbuster. It can even be scary. But Batman oughta be fun. As usual, he's got the best lines. And how freakin' awesome is a Batman who gives you a thumb's up?!?:
Solo #9 panel



The actor gets the credit as the Batman escapes to the rooftops. Actor returns home to his wife and son. End curtain to one of my favorite short Batman tales of many recent years. It's Hallowe'en this coming week, so I think this is the perfect tale to prep you for Wednesday night when you pull on your leather boots and strap on your foam-rubber muscle suit. Remember when you put on the costume it's an awesome responsibility and you might be called upon to defend and uphold the mantle of the Bat. And doing so is not just about the fighting and the punching, it's about believing and daring and doing what's right, in order to feel proud in what you do and feel supported by the love and respect of your family.

But of course, it's also all about the punching:
Solo #9 panel


Bahlactus will autograph your copy of Fantastic Four #50, anywhere, anytime.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

You will always have a lucky star

Local #6I don't review it often, but I buy and enjoy Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's comic Local, a beautifully drawn, immensely detailed, sometimes frustrating saga of different towns and neighborhoods across North America and the people who live, work, and love in them, including recurring character Megan, who spends much of the series running from locale to locale. Running from something, yes. Running to something? We don't know yet; the series isn't over. (I imagine, like life and The Sopranos, Local won't end with a neat-and-tidy conclusion.) One of the things I (ironically) like about it is Megan: she's unlikable but compelling; she makes dumb choices, but she's progressing. She's not the same from issue to issue (some stories she's simply in the background as a bit player). She grows a little, regresses in other ways. Repeats dumb mistakes. Just like us.

My favorite issue of Local? No contest there: it's #6, set in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY. That's where yours truly lives, a skip and a jump away from the green green Prospect Park, a ramble down the slope to 4 & a Tail and Mister Falafel. Brian Wood lives here, too, so he's captured the beat and the zeitgeist and the verve and the zizzer-zazz and the other words describing the spirit of the place. Ryan Kelly's artwork captures the Park Slope I know and love (or am sometimes frustrated with) to a T, much closer than that issue of Fantastic Four set in the Park Slope Starbucks where Johnny tried to pick up the barista. How closely did he capture my Park Slope? Let me ramble around and show ya.


Tiny and friendly (just like me!) indie music store Music Matters:
Local #6 panel



Yummy yummy Park Slope bakery and café Two Little Red Hens (now named Ladybird Bakery):
Local #6 panel



My subway stop (7th Avenue on the F train) and local eatery Dizzy's:
Local #6



And even though he's drawing a slightly more plain one than the big wrought-iron front door of my apartment building, Ryan Kelly has the heavy mega-sized front doors of Park Slope down pat:
Local #6 panel



Local #6 is not a new comic: it came out last year. I took these pictures last year, almost exactly twelve months ago. In between a lot has changed—not merely the name of Two Little Red Hens, but my life as well. It's been dramatically new in those twelve months, to the point where it became an entirely new and different life. Sometimes it's a tough life. But it's usually a good life.

I thought I might be leaving Park Slope myself this month. Didn't work out. I was very disappointed. But Park Slope is a good place to live, and as I walk its streets I usually smile: it feels like home because after all this time, it is.

So here I am. It's my home, me an' my pal John and our kittycat and my sister Marshall and all my animal pals, in my still kinda new life in Park Slope in Brooklyn. It's a good place to read fun comics, pet a kitty and get a cupcake from a hen-themed a lady bird-themed bakery. And it doesn't need to be Brooklyn. Remember wherever you go, home is there. It follows you on your back like a shell on a turtle. To paraphrase Leonard McCoy: treat her like a lady and she'll always be your home.

You will always have a lucky star
That shines because of what you are
Even in the deepest dark
Because your aim is true
And if I could only have one wish
Darling, then it would be this
Love and happiness for you.
— "Love and Happiness" by Emmylou Harris and Kimmie Rhodes; recorded by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Batman, Master of Timing!

I was inspired by this classic panel of The Batman's display of keen and cunning strategy and expert, unparallelled tactical skills...
Batman #1 panel
Panel from Batman #1 (Spring 1940), written by Bill Finger,
art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson


...to create the following comic strip, which I call

Batman: Master of Timing!

Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel
Batman #1 panel



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The boy ain't right

Franklin Richards:
FF #222 panel

Very,
FF #244 panel

Very,
FF #238 panel

VERY,
FF #223 panel

EASILY

FF #134 panel

AMUSED.

FF #222 panel

Say, what's up with that kid being such a creepy feeb? Why, it's not as if Franklin doesn't get the very finest loving parental care, is it?
FF #109 panel

Still, in the end it won't do the little tyke any harm, now, will it?:
FF #222 panel
FF #222 panel

Like father, like son? Think about it.