Saturday, January 10, 2009

Separated at Birth: Oh yes I am wise/But it's wisdom born of pain/Yes, I've paid the price/But look how much I gained

Avengers #83/Hulk #9
L: Avengers #83 (December 1970), art by John Buscema and Tom Palmer
R: Hulk #9 (January 2009), art by Arthur Adams
(Click picture to Bella Abzug-size)

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 10

Fantastic Four Annual #1
Backup feature from Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1963), script by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Bully for Bugs

"Bully for Bugs" (1953), directed by Chuck Jones.
Read more about this classic Looney Tunes cartoon.
Cartoon suggested by the Queen o' my heart, Lucy Anne

Friday, January 09, 2009

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 9

Mother Goose and Grimm
Mother Goose and Grimm strip by Mike Peters from May 8, 2006

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fun Fifty of 2008: Part 2 of 5

The Archies, ladies and gentlemen! The Archies! Let's give 'em a big, big hand for that beautiful musical number, a special salute to that spice we all like to call...sugar. Thanks, guys! It was great of you to get Ronnie out of rehab for the reunion!

Welcome back, everyone, to the Third Annual Fun Fifty of the Year, as presented by me, Bully! Before the commercial you saw the dramatic twists and turns we came across counting down from fifty to forty-one, and in keeping with that theme, let's kick this show back into gear! In the words and the voice of Shaggy and Robin the Boy Wonder, "Here's number forty on our countdown!"

#40: MAD SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON SPECIAL EDITION "The best things in life are free," sang Barrett Strong, and he oughta know...he co-wrote "Heard it Through the Grapevine." But he never got his picture on a bubblegum card, and he never went to Comic-Con San Diego, where he coulda picked up a free copy of MAD magazine's special, which features The Usual Gang of Idiots spoofing America's favorite gathering of the comics fans, Stormtroopers, Gothic Lolitas and little stuffed bulls! There's a funny "Comic-Con Bingo" where you score points if you can locate a Homeless Man Mistaken For Alan Moore, a Huge Campaign for a Doomed Movie (hellllo, Frank Miller!), A Forgotten Celebrity, or MADman Sergio Aragones! Speaking of which, Sergio has contributed four full-color pages of silent strips set at Comic-Con! But the main attraction is a dead-on spoof of Watchmen (entitled, in the grand MAD manner, "Botchmen"). Written by Desmond Devlin and Drawn by Glenn Fabry in a perfect Dave Gibbons imitation, it manages to be a satire not only of everybody's favorite graphic novel featuring Rorshach™ but also a parody of the movie nobody's even seen yet! Plus, just like the real modern-day MAD, plenty of ads! And the price? FREE! (Cheap!)

#39: FREDDIE & ME One of these days I shall write a grand opus of a graphic novel about my life and times spent listening to the CDs of Miss Jane Wiedlin. I shall call it..."Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing...Called Love." Until then, however, enjoy Mike Dawson's autobiographic novel Freddie & Me about his life-long obsession with the rock band Queen and their outrageous, charismatic frontman Freddie Mercury. The parallel narrative of his family and the history of Queen are warm and sensitive, celebrating the importance of music and hero worship, in naturalistic narration and dialogue, and expressive and dynamic art that reminded me of Joe Sacco's powerful graphic journalism. You don't have to be a Queen fan to enjoy Freddie & Me—Mike's experiences and encounters with love, life, and death will be familiar to anyone who's worshipped a hero from afar. But if your toes start tapping and your head starts bobbing when you hear the opening chords of "Fat Bottomed Girls" or "I Want to Break Free," well then, you'll coin a phrase..."Radio Ga-Ga" over it.

#38: FRANKLIN RICHARDS Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak brought us four reality-spanning adventures this past year of the most Fantastic kid of 'em all: Franklin Richards (son of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman) and his harried robotic nursemaid H.E.R.B.I.E. The plots are generally pretty simple and similar: Franklin gets into one of his dad's crazy inventions despite H.E.R.B.I.E.'s warnings, and manages to wreak havoc for several pages before putting things back before earning a rubbery spanking. This Franklin's more energetic, mischievous, and fun that his Earth-616 counterpart, and I vote that we replace the whining and moody kid of Marvel-Earth with this one, who knows how to have a good time even if it destroys the Baxter Building. 2008's quartet of Franklin Fun featured stand-out issues where Franklin faced off against his meddling Skrull imposter (proving you don't have to be Norman Osborn to put the hurt on a bumpy-chinned green alien) and in the super-saga full-book story in Franklin Richards: Sons of Geniuses, he accidentally unlocks a dimensional portal that brings dozens of alternate universe Franklins to Marvel-Earth: super-hero Fantastic Frank, Ape Franklin, green alien Franklin, and even Francine Richards. Aiee! If there's anything worse than supervillains, it's girls! Never worry: as usual, Frank 'n' H.E.R.B.I.E. save the day, and at the same time provide us with a light and colorful romp through one of the fun corners of the Marvel Universe where, even if a, crosses over, we know it's gonna be for laughs rather than shock value.

#37: FUTURAMA COMICS Good news, everyone! Every year on the Fun Fifty I mention the love I have for Bongo Comics and their flagship Simpsons books, but I always forget to mention that their other Matt Groening cartoon book, Futurama Comics, is a particular fave of mine. Well, forgotten no more, Phillip J. Fry, Turanga Leela, and all the rest! I don't read many media tie-in Buffy Season Eight or Hardball with Chris Matthews: The Comic Book for me, and I'm most certainly not allowed to pick up A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila Comics and Stories. (Neither is anyone else, says the Board of Health.) But I never miss an issue of Futurama, the official comic book of the thirty-first century. If you've seen the series or any of its follow-up movies, you know the routine: the adventures of the Planet Express Delivery team in the year 3008. Highlights this past year featured a flashback to the famous "Less Than Hero" episode in which Fry, Leela and Bender became superheroes, Bender turning an entire planet into a themed gambling world (theme: himself), and a plot by the Evil Robot Santa to take over Earth using robot Santa's Helpers as his slave. (Featuring a kool Kirby-style kover!) The writers and artists capture the look, feel, humor and pacing of the show uncannily: you can hear the voices of the characters practically coming out of the page. Dense with funny dialogue and jokes, Futurama Comics delivers.

#36: MARVEL APES Okay, I admit it: I almost missed out on this one. I picked up issue #1 of this four-part miniseries based on the premise: a planet where superapes evolved from men! (Hmmm, that would make a catchy movie.) When ineffectual Earth-616 minor mutant menace Marty Blank, The Gibbon, falls into an alternate world where every intelligent being is a member of the ape family, Marty thinks he's at long last come home: accepted by the Mighty Apevengers as a member and a hero. That is, until he finds out his idol, the ape version of Captain America, is a killer and a vampire. Eek! This was the point I nearly gave up the series, disgusted with how even a light and fun concept could be made dark by modern Marvel. But curiosity got me to pick up subsequent issues, and I'm pleased I did: there's dark moments, yes, but the villains are faced by true heroes, and there's an explanation behind the villainy that doesn't sully the name of Captain America and provides a happy ending (and the possibility of a sequel) for Marty and pals. After too long seeing gruesome zombie-infested alternative Marvel Earths, Marvel Apes was as tasty and delicious as a banana...with plenty of "a-peel."

#35: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN Curse you, Joe were right all along! Sure, you took a dumbass, out of character path to getting rid of Mary Jane's marriage to Peter...instead of the time-honored tradition of tossing her off a bridge...but the Brand New Day-era has returned fun and adventure to Spidey, not to mention making it easier to remember what Spider-Man comic you want to pick up and when: Amazing Spider-Man, most every week! The three-times monthly schedule has allowed a rotating crew of artists and writers to come aboard and work on Marvel's flagship character, providing a fresh new mini-arc every month, so if ya don't care for this issue's writing, art, or plot...hang on, we'll have something new swingin' across town from you in a few weeks! Not every ish trickled my fancy, but a lot of them did, with standouts being a Punisher crossover and the six-ish "New Ways to Die." Sure, it was a Spider-mega event, but it was over in two months and didn't leave us scratching our heads wondering which one was real and which one was the clone. Nothing deep here, just good old-fashioned primal web-swingin, wise-crackin' fun.

#34: THE BLUE BEETLE RADIO SHOW His radio adventures thrilled the wartime audiences: a superhero who battled saboteurs, mad scientists, drug peddlers and Nazis, all while wearing a mask colorful mystery man costume. Whozat? Batman? Captain America? Ma Hunkel, the Red Tornado? No! (But darnit, Ma Hunkel shoulda had a radio series!) It's the superhero you never knew had a radio show, Blue Beetle! Well, I never knew he had a radio show, at least not until I discovered the Blue Beetle Vintage Radio podcast! This is Golden Age Beetle Dan Garrett (Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes aren't even a twinkle in an eye yet), based on the 1940s Fox comic book, so the emphasis is on derring-do, fisticuffs, chilling cliffhangers and radio studio sound effects (watch out for the cornstarch!) You can read more about the show here, but what you wanna do is listen to 'em, right? Right! Fire up your iTunes by heading to this link to download 24 different episodes of Blue Beetle, or, if you don't have iTunes, you can download or listen to the shows here. These shows from 1940 may not technically quality as something fun for 2008, but just like old comics, whenever you discover 'em for the first time...that's the Golden Age.

#33: FANTASTIC FOUR There's much more to Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's Fantastic Four than a cosmetic change to the covers (although that's pretty neat too): Millar (previously on Ultimate FF) has cranked up both the science and soap opera aspects of the classic Marvel quartet, and Hitch's beautifully realistic (without looking lightbox-traced) artwork excels at portraying both facial expression and galactic conflict. These stories are divided into four-issue arcs that plunge the FF into new adventures against new enemies, but the past isn't forgotten either: Galactus, Doc Doom, and the wisecracking Ben Grimm all get their chance in the solar flare. I may quibble about a subplot or two (Ben, have you totally forgotten Alicia?) and the occasional issue lacking any sort of physical action at all, but Millar packs his FF with so many cool concepts and clever ideas that it's hard not to be compelled to pick up the next issue: even when your confronted with an "Again? But that trick ever works!" plotline like "The Death of the Invisible Woman," there's always a new twist. Which just goes to prove, the more Things change, the more I wanna read FF.

#32: TORCHWOOD (In 2007: #14) "Oh no!" I shouted in tense nervousness at the BBC America screen while watching Torchwood Series 2. "How are they gonna survive this one...oh. Oh. Oh. Uh oh." Captain Jack Harkness returns from his Doctor Who Series Three crossover episodes (collect 'em all!) to once again lead his Torchwood team against spooks, phantasms, wee ghosties and other things that go bump in the night. Oh, and his murderously vengeful brother, too. Torchwood cranked up the volume this season with even more chilling adventures with a humorous edge: the grotesque but you can't tear your eyes away "Meat" examined why we really oughta all become vegetarians, "To the Last Man" gave Tosh a reason to smile once a year, and Gwen and Rhys's eventual wedding is complicated by an alien invasion in the one place Gwen least expected it. The stand-out storyline is the dramatic mid-season death of Owen Harper, but that's the delightful thing about Torchwood: just because a team member has died doesn't mean that character's not on the show. Still, there's major upheaval and a dramatic "no second chances" final episode, and I dare ya to keep your eyes dry. I'm looking forward to Series Three, but after this one, the show'll never quite be the same.

#31: IRON MAN Holy cow look at that the armor looks like it does in the comic books but even better and Robert Downey Jr is a great and funny actor and oh wow is that really Sam Jackson and geez louise look out Pepper and holy cow he built it in a cave! That's what was goin' through my little stuffed brain, popcorn cooling and forgotten, as I sat on the edge of my seat and watched Iron Man, the most joyful Marvel superhero movie to date. The dialogue is sparkling, the special effects fantastic, the deviations from Marvel "canon" nothing to cry about (if you care about such things), and holy geez look it's Gwyneth Paltrow running in spiked heels. Run, Pepper, run! Give or take an Incredible Hulk aside, if this is the sort of movie the new Marvel Studios is going to bring us, well, I can't wait for Captain America, the Ken Branagh Thor and the all-together-nowness of The Avengers. See, just like the best comic books, a fun comic book movie leaves you breathlessly waiting for the next installment.

Whew! That's a whole lotta fun packed into 2008, and we're not even halfway through our sparkling presentation awards ceremony! Coming up after the commercial break: a special musical salute to 2008's Many Deaths of Janet van Dyne! You don't wanna miss it or anything else in the next installment of...The Fun Fifty of 2008!

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 8

What If? #1
Panel from Fantastic Four #19 (February 1977), written by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers, letters by Sam Rosen

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pandering to the masses

This new trend of big-money, bestselling books about dogs, cats, wolves, llamas, sharks and their owners, their lives and adventures, intrigues me. Namely: how can I get myself some of that sweet, sweet, Marley the Dog book money?

After a careful examination of the biggest books out there about wacky, slapstick animals and their clueless owners trying to put up with all their shenanigans (with hilarious results)...

I came to the conclusion that there's a formula to all of this:

Cuddly animal with cute name + good-natured anti-social behavior + scatological humor + heartwarming adventure = rollin' in the book deal dough!

That's why I've come up with

Mikey the Kitten

See you on the New York Times bestseller lists, chumps!

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 7

What If? #1
Panels from What If? vol. 1 #1 (February 1977), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by Jim Craig, inks by Pablo Marcos, colors by Janice Cohen, letters by John Costanza

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fun Fifty of 2008: Part 1 of 5

All together now:

Bugs and DaffyOverture, curtains, lights!
This is it, the night of nights!
No more rehearsing and nursing a part!
We know every part by heart

Overture, curtains, lights!
This is it, you'll hit the heights!
And oh, what heights we'll hit!
On with the show, this is it!

Whew. Now let's run some Speedy Gonzales cartoons.

Keira KnightleyNo, no, actually, it's time once again for the event of the Bully-Year, the Third Annual Academy Awards Fun Fifty of the Year, counting down and celebrating the comics (and other pop culture items) that I enjoyed the most in 2008. We're outside on the red carpet with a wide array of fabulous stars, from Mister Benjamin Grimm to Anakin Skywalker, from Donna Noble to Supergirl, and the hard-drinking duo of Iron Man and Homer Simpson! Quit popping your claws at Joan Rivers, Wolverine...I'm sure you'll win an award! And She-Hulk, put Isaac Mizrahi down...I'm sure he didn't mean anything by grabbing you there! Okay, everybody into the theater, because, in the immortal words of The Duchess of York, let's get it started in here!

For those of you who came in late...don't let the Hulk park your car. For the rest of you, let me run over the rules of the Fun Fifty Countdown. It's a very subjective list of what this little stuffed bull enjoyed reading, watching, and even hearing (but no tasting! Don't lick your comic books!) over the past short, the most Fun Stuff of 2008! While there are no prizes given, please feel free to award yourself special bonus Bull-Points if you have picked up and enjoyed one or more of the following fifty things! I'm sure you'll argue over some of my choices (specifically this year's number six fun comic book miniseries, Everyone's Secretly a Skrull and Also Invading, So Why Don't We Put a Convicted Murderer in Charge of S.H.I.E.L.D.*, and Hey, Didn't ROM: Spaceknight Already Do This Gig Back in the Eighties? (*Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division)). But while there's no wagering, please feel free to guess what I'm going to name as my favorite fun thing of 2008. It'll join the Pantheon (no, Hulk, wrong Pantheon...get off the stage, please!) of Bully's Funnest Comics of the Year: Banana Sunday (2005), Nextwave (2006), and Booster Gold (2007). So, as the Bully Dancers leave the stage, let's ring up the curtain and start the Countdown! (Hulk! What did I tell you...oh, never mind!)

#50: FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND 3D You're gonna see a lotta comics by Mister Grant Morrison on this year's Fun Fifty, for a few very good reasons: because he writes wild, way-out, wacky comics that are high-energy, high-concept, and high-entertainment; because I happen to love the guy's writing like nobody's business; but mostly because he wrote approximately seventy-'leven comic books in 2008. (Final Crisis? He wrote it. Richie Rich? He wrote it. Slylock Fox? He wrote it.) Superman Beyond is a two-ish sidebar to Final Crisis, explaining just where the Sam Scratch Supes vanished to during the Earth's greatest moment of need. (Also, when he wasn't hanging around with supped-up teenagers in the future.) It's a fun and fast romp in the Mission: Impossible mode: gather a bunch of experts (in this case, different dimensional versions of Superman) to tackle a terror of cosmic proportions. With guest appearances by Ultraman, Ace the Bat-Hound, and Merryman! And it's in 3D. Holy cow, is that the destruction of the multiverse in three dimensions? It sure is! Strap on your 3D glasses and come along for the ride—it's solid, frantic adventure cranked up to 11 in the Mighty Morrison Mode. (Now, bring us the second issue, Grant!)

#49: EVERYBODY HURTS, EVEN SITH LORDSI picked this minicomic up at SPX in September, and boy howdy, did I enjoy it! A fast but furious read set in the Star Wars universe (but don't sue creator Alex Bullett, Lucasfilms!) pits that master of mean, Darth Vader, against the one foe he cannot defeat: love. And this ain't no girly-whiny Episode III Vader, no sir...this is the kickass Dark Lord of the Sith who asks for what he wants and if he doesn't get it, no one can. All this, plus a female Jedi in a belly shirt (aren't they all?) and a rousingly sniffle-worthy rendition of the saddest song in the galaxy. Plus, the comic is trimmed in the shape of Vader's helmet! I picked up a lot of minicomics this year but this is one of the few that stays with me. How can you pick it up? Um, well, I'm not sure. Live near a great comic store that sells minis, like Quimby's in Chicago? You can probably pick it up there. But for everybody else, you can read part of it at at Alex Bullett's Flickr, and I imagine if you leave a note for Alex there asking how to get the mini he can set you up. But not you, George Lucas!

#48: GREATEST HITS What If?...The Fab Four became The Fantastic Four? That's the general concept behind my favorite new Vertigo comic in the past couple years: a psychedelic tour through the sixties, seen through the eyes of a documentary filmmaker trying to capture the story behind the headlines of The Mates, the quintessential 1960s superhero quartet, at the same time unraveling a mystery stretching to the modern day. It's a furiously fun concept that I seriously can't believe nobody's done before, and series creators David Tischman and Glenn Fabry fill this miniseries with enough brilliant ideas for comics twice their length. Intentionally confusing, leaping back and forth in time, a whirlwind journey through sex, superheroes, and rock 'n' roll that rewards re-reading and will make a great gateway comic in trade paperback.

#47: SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN SPECIAL My fave supporting character of the DC Universe (move over, Alfred Pennyworth) gets his own giant-sized Final Crisis tie-in special highlighting the sweater-vested star using his journalistic, detective, and Superman's-Pal skills to crack the mystery of Jim Harper, Guardian, and the clones of The Cadmus Project. While it harkens back to those crazy, kooky Kirby issues of Jimmy Olsen, it's well-integrated into the DCU's current interlocking adventures and is about as modern as an iPhone stapled to Barack Obama: Jimmy Olsen does, indeed, yes, certainly, have sex. (Off screen, but hey, Jimbo!) And if your eyes don't tear up at the scene with Dubblex, well then, you're made of stronger stuff than this fluff-filled little bull toy. One quibble? There's no real conclusion; the story continues in a Superman special. Aw, geez, give Mr. Action his due: a full story that centers around him with a real ending where he doesn't have to press that hypersonic watch to signal Big Blue.

#46: MARVEL ADVENTURES: THE AVENGERS (In 2007: #48) In a year crammed full of Avengers New, Mighty, Dark, and Cheese-Flavored, where monthly Avengers issues featured flashbacks to Skrulls inserting themselves into the lives of superheroes, Jarvis, and Fabian Stankowicz (hey, is he was a Skrull back in Avengers #239, that explains why he attacked David Letterman! Doesn't it?)...well, forgive me if I go hankerin' for some good old-fashioned "Avengers Assembling" on a monthly basis. This series of kid-friendly (but never child-like), done-in-one (but never short-shrifted on action and characterization) brings together Marvel's Greatest Heroes—as Spock would knowingly nod and say, "Ah yes...the Giants." This year they've faced off against Galactus, been popped into each other's bodies, explore Wakanda and go through therapy with Doc Samson. Most issues also feature a Chris Giarrusso "Mini-Marvels" strip, which is always pure delight in four-color form. If you're bemoaning the loss of an energetic and heroic team of Assemblers, your best bet's not on Earth-616: pick up Marvel Adventures: The Avengers and grin with joy.

#45: ZOT!: THE COMPLETE BLACK AND WHITE COLLECTION: 1987-1991 If you've read Understanding Comics and his other comic art theory books, you know that, agree with him or no, how influential Scott McCloud is to contemporary comics. But if you've never read his groundbreaking indie black-and-white comic Zot!, well, then, cowboy, you're livin' at the right time, because it's been reissued in a gorgeously-designed package by HarperCollins, with extensive new commentary by McCloud. At first glance a superhero or science fiction hero in the vein of Astro Boy or Flash Gordon, Zot's story is...especially in the b/w issues collected (#11-36)...also a teen romance, a light soap opera, and a comics whose dialogue and characters still stand as realistic and touching long after the b/w boom went bust. Buy it for yourself, buy it for a friend, buy it for a young adult...just read it, love it, and enjoy it. We live in a golden age of great comics and strips being reprinted, and Zot! rightfully takes it place among them as a treasured collection of a classic comic.

#44: JOHNNY BOO: THE BEST LITTLE GHOST IN THE WORLD Of course I love Johnny Boo: just like me, he's the cutest little thing around—a boy ghost with the "Boo Power" to face off against the Ice Cream Monster and make friends galore, which already makes him more socially acceptable than Casper, who frightens off everybody left and right. Johnny Boo is one of those rare comics for kids that are thankfully accessible for adults: without being maudlin or dumbed-down, it's entertaining and compelling, like the best children's lit. There's a wonderful sense of just peering in on Johnny's daily life that brings James Kochalka's characters and fluid artwork closer to the reader. Certainly the best comic about a ghost this year, and joyful joy! It's the first in a series, with Johnny Boo Volume 2 arriving soon. Simply...(don't hit me)...bootiful.

#43: ST. TRINIAN'S: THE ENTIRE APPALLING BUSINESS I leapt for joy when I learned Overlook Press, already doing a bang-up job reissuing the Complete P. G. Wodehouse in attractive uniform hardcover editions, was also publishing Ronald Searle's complete cartoons of the macabre, manical, murderous little moppets of St. Trinian's School for Girls, where backstabbing isn't a metaphor, devil worship is the accepted religion, and Wednesday Addams woulda felt right at home. This gorgeous and hilarious package contains all the Searle cartoons, so if you only know the Belles of St. Trinian's from the fun but decidedly watered-down movie series (including the recent remake with Rupert Everett in drag), you owe it to yourself to see the master at work:

St. Trinian's

#42: THE MUPPET SHOW: THE COMIC BOOK PREVIEW What's the best thing about attending San Diego Comic-Con?


Bully and Jane Wiedlin, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!!

What's the second best thing? Getting a chance to pick up special preview issues of forthcoming comics! And there's none I'm looking forward to more than BOOM! Studios's The Muppet Show comic book, for which they issued a special preview illustrated by one of my favorite artists, the incomparable Roger Langridge, creator of Fred the Clown (the closest thing to a Buster Keaton comic book) and all-around Goon Show fan. Roger's artwork in this jam-packed but all-too-swift preview is (like the felt and foam creations of Jim Henson and associates), wonderfully detailed, energetic, and funny, and golly, I can't wait for the full-fledged comic from BOOM!, which oughta be around the corner in 2009. Check out a preview cover at Roger's blog, and seriously, pay no attention to the whiners and the naysayers complaining about his work: Langridge's art shows great love and respect for the characters and the storylines from The Muppet Show, and as a felt-and-fluff guy myself, I can't wait to see the series.

#41: RASL (In 2007: #45) It's a candy and a gum! Oh wait, I've made another one of my silly mistakes. It's actually a comic book: Jeff Smith's follow-up to the galactically-acclaimed Bone, and he couldn't go further in another direction from Bone if he tried. Speaking of preview issues, I picked up the (oversized) RASL preview at 2007's Comic-Con and loved it to pieces (not literally), so I was very much lookin' forward to diving into the full series. Mysterious, compelling, and beautifully-drawn (of course!), RASL is the mystery of a dimension-jumping thief hunted across reality as he leaps from place to place trying to put right what once went w finding worlds startlingly similar to his own except in the smaller details. far, that's just about it, really, three issues into the comic. Critics of the series have complained it comes out too infrequently (four times a year) and is decompressed to such an extent that reading one issue gives only a fraction of the story, but hey, the first four issues of Bone took a year to come out, and while delightful, you can't glean the story just by reading one issue. In other words, if you're impatient for it, just wait. Like Bone, I think massive public praise for RASL will happen when the story is published in collected volumes (volume one is coming out very soon; click on the Amazon link above to pre-order it), but if you value the journey and the mystery, enjoy the quarterly single issues like me to see how the story grows and evolves. I bet in several years when it's finished, nobody'll remember the grumbling about the wait between issue #3 and 4.

Tomorrow: More fun stuff, you betcha! Want a sneak preview? Heck no! It's a surprise.


Aw, okay. (inhale) Tomorrow: Dying heroes! Darn dirty apes! A movie you haven't seen yet! And an old radio show you probably don't know exists? All this and more in tomorrow's installment of...The Fun Fifty of 2008!

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 6

TV Guide
TV Guide (July 3-9, 2005), featuring Michael Chiklis as The Thing

Monday, January 05, 2009

"How do you sleep at night?" "On a bed made of Magic Snakes.”

Camels advertRule Number One of Madison Avenue: never give the client their money back. Rule Number Two: Sell to the consumer the way the consumer expects to be sold. That is, put your advertising money where and how your customers are. Don't advertise, say, Sex and the City DVDs on Spike, or Christian music CDs during Torchwood. Better to put those ads where you get the most bang for the buck, which is why you can watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars and see ads for sugary, sweet, yummy Ahsoka-Os Cereal, the only Star Wars cereal with a backhand grip, and a free belly shirt in every box.

The advertisers in comic books of yesteryear had this down to a science. If you wanna sell sea monkeys and body-building kits, if you need to advertise Daisy Air Rifles and crappy Atari 5200 videogames, there's no better place than buying a four-color ad in your upcoming issue of Power Man and Iron Fist or Batman and the Outsiders. And for maximum effect, why not have your crack team of ad managers create a campaign of advertisements that actually are in comic book format? Hokey smokes, McMahon and Tate, I think we're onto something here!:

Comic book-format ad for International Correspondence Schools
Ad for International Correspondence Schools from [Uncanny] X-Men #47, September 1968
Click on any ad to super-economy-size it

Comic book-format ad for GI Joe's Major Mike Power: The Amazing Atomic Man
Ad for GI Joe's Major Mike Power from [Uncanny] X-Men #94, August 1975

Comic book-format ad for Acclaim's Remote Controller for Nintendo
Ad for Acclaim's Remote Controller for Nintendo from an early 1990s issue of Incredible Hulk (circa #360?)

Comic book-format ad for Magic Snake Puzzles
Ad for Magic Snake Puzzles from Fantastic Four #251, February 1983

Of course, none of them will become the classics that the Superhero Hostess Snack Cake ads are, but that's a might high bar to hit, because remember, you get a big delight in every bite of Hostess Fruit Pies, Cupcakes, and Twinkies. Isn't that right, Doctor Strange?

Fruit Pie the Magician

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 5

Avengers #1 1/2
Panels from Avengers #1½ (December 1999), written by Stan Lee, art by Bruce Timm, lettered by Comicraft

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ten of a Kind: Sits like a man but he smiles like a reptile

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

365 Days with Ben Grimm: Day 4

FF #40
Panel from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #40 (July 1965), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek