Thursday, December 31, 2015

Today in Comics History, December 31, New Year's Eve: Star-Lord plays "Alone Again (Naturally)" on his Walkman

from Guardians Team-Up #9 (Marvel, October 2015); script, pencils, inks, and colors by Javier Pulido; letters by Cory Petit

"Alone Gaain (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, (MAM, 1972), written by Gilbert O'Sullivan

Today in Comics History, December 31, 1949, New Year's Eve: Howard Chaykin accidentally brushes his teeth over his artwork

from The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow one-shot (Dynamite, May 2014); script, pencils, and inks by Howard Chaykin; colors by Jesus Aburto; letters by Ken Bruzenak

Today in Comics History, December 31, 11:00 PM, New Year's Eve: As always, Brooklyn closes after dark on New Year's Eve

from "Resolutions" in Flash Gordon Holiday Special one-shot (Dynamite, December 2014), script by Stuart Wellington, pencils and inks by Lara Margarida, colors by Luigi Anderson, letters by Simon Bowland

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 365½: Positively the Final Belly Shirt of the Star Wars Universe

Panel from Vader's Little Princess (April 2013); script, pencils, inks, colors and letters by Jeffrey Brown

366 Days with Combo-Man, Day 1: And so it begins

And now: Combo Man! The Sensational Character Find of 1996! And now we're going to feature him every day of the year in 2016! He's comboriffic!

Cover of Combo Man #1 (1996), script by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Hector Collazo, inks by Greg Adams, colors by Mark Bernardo, letters by Janice Chiang

Origin (set to that staccato piano music at the beginning of The Incredible Hulk TV series): Whenever teenager Rick Wilder eats a Combo™ cheese-flavor snack, he gains the powers of several Marvel super-heroes at once, including the plunging neckline of Luke Cage Power Man, to become...Combo Man!

Panels from Combo Man #1 (1996), script by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Hector Collazo, inks by Greg Adams, colors by Mark Bernardo, letters by Janice Chiang

Special First Day of 366 Days with Combo Man bonus: click here to see the original art from Combo Man #1!

So, there you go: only the first day of 366 Days with Combo Man! I'll be following it up this year with panels and artwork from the one Combo Man comic...

Wait a minute. This guy is only in one comic book?

And that comic book is only twelve pages long? And I've already posted two of them? And two more are this ad?

Ummmm. I'm not really certain I can get a whole year outta this dude and the eight pages of his comic book I have left. Maybe if I divide every page into 46 parts...naw, that won't work.


Besides, what could I say that Chris Sims hasn't already said better and more hilariously than me?


Well, tune in tomorrow and see who the real new 366 Days with will feature, I guess!

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 365: If they should bar wars...please let these Star Wars stay

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Even the opening of each Star Wars reads like a fairy tale. "Once upon a time." And at the heart of it, Star Wars is technically nothing more than a story, a canon-approved tree with Expanded Universe/Legend branches sprouting off of it everywhere. One of my favorite scenes in Return of the Jedi is all about storytelling. Threepio relates "the story so far" to the Ewoks in the inimitable Threepio way, with sound effects and, despite speaking in the Ewok language, absolutely no change in his vocal tone.

Panel from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi #3 (December 1983); script by Archie Goodwin, pencils and inks by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon, colors by Christie Scheele and Bob Sharen, letters by Ed King

It's fitting, then, that Threepio would be featured in what might possibly be described as "The Last Star Wars Story." It certainly is the last one I'll feature this year, and I think it speaks to the love and enthusiasm — and inspiration — that the movies and novels and comics and action figures all give us. It's called, aptly,

Panel from "Storyteller" in Star Wars Tales #19 (March 2004); script by Jason Hall; pencils, inks, and colors by Paul Lee; letters by Steve Dutro

Many, many years after the stories we're all familiar with (1,000,000 ABY? If Wookieekind is still alive), a race called the Vidar enslaves, tortures, and murders another, unnamed, race.

Two of these oppressed beings, Otalp and Remoh, go on a pilgrimage for the fabled Oracle who will reveal truth and hope through its stories.

And I'm pretty sure you can guess who this oracle will be, right?

I find it both funny and sad that the first being Threepio asks for in his blind awakening is Artoo. I always liked to think that that two of them would have gone out of these worlds together, but for Threepio it's a lonely, lengthy death.

He tells his story...and we recognize every bit of it, even though it's seen through the eyes of Otalp and Remoh.

But the Vindar have tracked them down in the cave. They destroy Threepio with a blaster shot, and kill Remoh while he tries to divert their attention away from the hiding Otalp.

But what's this Otalp discovers with the abandoned remains of Threepio? well, it's mot as clumsy or random as a blaster; it's an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. But the true weapon that Threepio has given Otalp?

A new hope, to be accurate. And, like every ending that culminates in a question mark or "The Beginning," the adventure is only just starting. Thanks to a story — a story as powerful as a lightsaber.

I once believed, in 1983 and in 2005, that I'd never see another Star Wars film in my life. I was wrong. Twice. May it forever be so, always bringing us adventures of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano and Mace Windu and Aayla Secura and Kit Fisto and Yoda and Bail Organa and Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine and Han Solo and Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian and Lobot and Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma and Wedge Antilles and of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Maz Kanata, BB-8, Doctor Aphra, Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, Bodhi Rook, and throughout it all our Greek chorus of R2-D2 and C-3P0. And beyond. May they entertain and inspire us all, whether canon or legends, on and on, until the beginnings of it are lost to time.

May the Force be with you!

Cover to Star Wars (2015 Marvel series) #1 (EMP Museum Exclusive Michael Del Mundo Variant), painted by Michael Del Mundo

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 364½: Gotta get rid of all these leftover clips I'd saved for Belly Shirts of the Star Wars Universe somehow

Well, what do you expect from a fictional universe whose wikipedia has an entire encyclopedia entry for "navel"?

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 364: George R. Binks

Well, I guess I can't complain about the internet's top two comics journalists each very recently linking to two separate but complete repostings of Tony Millionaire's brilliant and beautiful "George R. Binks" story from Star Wars Tales #20. (Nor can I have expected anyone to predict this was going to be my long-planned second-to-last 365 Days of Star Wars Comics.) Posting the entirety of a story online raises some problematic questions, though, which is why I almost always try to play by fair use and not repost all or a large segment of a story. In fair disclosure: I did post this entire one-page Peter Bagge Star Wars strip, and this post on Cynthia Martin's Star Wars art contains seven pages (plus the cover) reproduced from Star Wars #96 out of 22. Mea culpa, I guess, but at the same time, here's what I's like to consider the "fair-use" teaser for "George R. Binks," which you can find in back issues or digital editions of Star Wars Tales #20, or a paperback edition of the collection Star Wars Tales, Vol. 5, or the digital version of the same. And now, some of Tony Millionaire's "George R. Binks."

Panels from "George R. Binks" in Star Wars Tales #20 (June 2004); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Tony Millionaire, colors by Jim Campbell

Tomorrow: Um, I dunno. Maybe some more belly shirts.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

Today in Comics History: "The train arriving at platform four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine has come in sideways"

Panels from Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor #7 (February 2015), script by Robbie Morrison, pencils and inks by Daniel Indro, colors by Slamet Mujiono, letters by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt

I oughtn't not to make the sort of joke I made in the title of this post about the Tay Bridge Disaster, which is a true, historical bridge collapse that killed 59 people — everyone aboard the train — on this day in 1879. The Disaster itself has been a bit of a long-running mystery because of the discrepancy in casualty figures, sometimes listed as 75 and as high as (as the comic depicts) 100. (I'm guessing the official reports couldn't account for extra men transported back in time aboard the train by Weeping Angels.)

So, no giggling matter, and yet: the Tay Bridge Disaster is the subject of an epic poem by truly one of the worst poets of all time,William McGonagall. In part:
Oh! Ill-fated bridge of the silv'ry Tay,
I now must conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.
Well. That's...something.

McGonagall was frequently quoted, and parodied by Spike Milligan, one of my favorite comedians of the twentieth-century, and scripter for The Goon Show, the cult 1950s BBC radio show that helped introduce Peter Sellers to a larger international audience. These radio shows are brilliant, wild, surreal, with plenty of wordplay, humorous catchphrases, running gags, silly sound effects, familiar characters greeted with thundering applause from the audience, and a great sense of the overstated profundity of British history. The Tay Bridge Disaster was itself dramatized comedized as a 1959 episode of The Goon Show, which includes Milligan as "William McGoonagall," reciting terrible, terrible verse. You can hear the show online here and read the script here.

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 362: Love and Star Wars Rockets

Panels from "Young Lando Calrissian" in Star Wars Tales #20 (June 2004); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Gilbert Hernandez; colors by Michelle Madsen

Sunday, December 27, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 361: Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book

Hey, look at what else Bully me! got for Christmas this year: the complete boxed set of Star Wars Little Golden Books!

Now you may say, Hey Bully! I thought those books were for little kids? Doesn't it say on the books that they are recommended for ages 2-7? And yes, you're right. But might I please remind you that despite my erudition and innate sophistication, I am only six.

Hey, lookit the way-cool special little golden spines on these things! They have substituted the usual poky little puppies and saggy baggy elephants for the heads of your favorite Star Wars characters: Darth Vader, Yoda, R2-D2, and of course everyone's true favorite, Jaxxon the Giant Green Star Wars Rabbit. (Aw, you wish!)

There are six books in the series (to go with, natch, the six movies of the Star Wars saga:

(Click picture to Death Star-size)

And whatdaya know, I collected them all! (It's fun!)

The books cover all the best, most exciting parts of the Star Wars saga:

And, let's face it, some of the parts we wish we didn't remember.

Hey, these aren't comic books! you're no doubt saying now, as you comfortably sit in your post-Christmas snug living rooms with a mug of eggnog and some leftover cheese log. Well, technically not. But I'm featuring them on "365 Days of Star Wars Comics" partly because the illustrations are absolutely wonderful, but most because it's my blog, not yours, and how come you're not sharin' that cheese log, huh? Here's Episode I, reminding us that even when we cringe at the character they can look cute in cartoon form. Or, to put it another way: YIPPEE! (PS: I've put links below to all the artists' names where available, so you can check out their other excellent work! And where not available? Guys, really: you oughta have an easily findable webpage of some sort!)

Page from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Little Golden Book (July 2015), adapted by Courtney Carbone, illustrated by Heather Martinez

The general action of the movies is well represented without any of the gore or violence.

Page from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Little Golden Book (July 2015), adapted by Christopher Nicholas, illustrated by Ethen Beavers

Check it out: Little Golden Book Belly Shirts of the Star Wars Universe!

The books nicely depict the iconic moments from the series...

Page from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Little Golden Book (July 2015), adapted by Geof Smith, illustrated by Patrick Spaziante (No official webpage. Here's Tumblr reposts of his art.)

...and tho' each is by a different artist, they feature a complementary but distinct cartoon art style for each book. Check out this cooly styled Dark Helmet Darth Vader!

Page from Star Wars: A New Hope Little Golden Book (July 2015), adapted by Geof Smith, illustrated by Caleb Meurer and Micky Rose

And there's plenty of the signature Star Wars humor that characterizes the six first three movies.

Page from Star Wars: The Empire Strike Back Little Golden Book (July 2015), adapted by Geof Smith, illustrated by Chris Kennett

Also: cool sound effects you can read aloud, or if you like people reading to you (and who doesn't?), have read aloud to you.

Page from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Little Golden Book (July 2015), adapted by Geof Smith, illustrated by Ron Cohee

Plus: ohmygolly isn't this these the cutest depiction of an Ewok, ever? (Also cute: Woodland Leia.)

Hey, where's The Force Awakens Little Golden Book? Don't stress, it's on the way! But you'll have to wait until April for it to be published. In the meantime, there's also another group of more general Star Wars Little Golden Books that you can look for, because boy, I can tell you're lookin' to quench your Little Golden book hunger.

(Click picture to Big Golden Book-size)

Yes, truly it can be said that, just like the world's greatest Little Golden Book...

...this one has a monster at the end, too.

Now, are these totally suitable for young children? Well, I'm one of them, and you know the kind of garbage I read. But I think that for most children these are going to be perfect retellings or introductions to the Star Wars Universe without some of the scary stuff or the obvious violence. There's no arms being cut off here, the word "killed" is never used (it's occasionally phrased as "destroyed"), and scenes of Anakin wiping out the Younglings and Obi-Wan thwackin' off Dr. Evizan's arm are not included in these books. Still, your child-mileage may vary, and you might do well to check them out before you give 'em to a child, just like a responsible parent or guardian should. For example, this reviewer found them a bit disturbing:

Wha...? Inferred? My good sir, you should always remember the difference between inferred and implied. Why, I learned it myself thanks to a talking aardvark!

Panels from Cerebus #33 (December 1981); script, pencils, inks and letters by Dave Sim

Because once you learn this lesson, you can't unlearn it!

Panels from Cerebus #36 (March 1982); script, pencils, inks and letters by Dave Sim