*Yawn*

Just not feelin' the blog this week, I guess. I suspect it's because I've been averaging 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night for the past two weeks or so, and I'm having a hard time working up the energy for anything other than drumming on the couch with the kiddo, drinking copious amounts of Vanilla Coke, or watching TV shows where people either answer questions for money or blow stuff up in the name of science.

Maybe Sunday?

Not sure what they're selling, but they have my attention.

Maybe this has already made the rounds, but here's a fun, cheesecakey superhero ad for some Mexican department store chain (I think).



PS - First person to use the word "disempowerment" when describing this gets kicked.

Joe Besser (Slightly Longer Than A) Week: Living St. Louis

From KETC's Living St. Louis, a look at the life and career of Joe Besser:



YouTube isn't being particularly helpful in tracking down any of Joe's appearances as Stinky Davis on The Abbott and Costello Show, so this is probably as good a note to end on as any.

Thanks for the laughs, Joe... you craaaaaaaaaaazy!

7 Awesome Things

I've been scanning reserve readings at work all week. All that time in front of a screen and fighting with the scanner document feeder has fried my brain too much for a real post, even if it did feature Joe Besser (Joe Besser Week will resume... it may end up being a week in the same way Dave's Long Box measures a week). So for now, here are pictures of 7 undeniably awesome things. Because 6 wouldn't be enough, and 8 would blow your minds to itty, bitty pieces.







Joe Besser Week: Yapple Dapple!

As I said earlier, Joe provided the voice for a couple Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, but the most famous was probably Babu, the rotund, inept genie-in-training.

If you don't know who I'm talking about, he's the big dude in the back, behind Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (this is the only picture I could find of Babu! You've let me down, Google Image Search). Babu showed up on The New Scooby Doo Movies and Laff-A-Lympics (where the above pic comes from; Babu was a member of the Scooby Doobies team), but he got his start on Jeannie, an cartoon spin-off/reworking of I Dream of Jeannie, only Jeannie herself is younger and a redhead, and her master is a teenage surfer instead of an astronaut. And hey, said master was voiced by a pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill.

Anyway, here's the opening credit sequence for Jeannie, featuring a theme song performed by Young Skywalker himself.



There looks to be a full episode or two posted over on YouTube as well, so if you'd like to see (well, more like hear) Joe in his cartoon glory, scoot on over and check it out.

I'm a loner Dottie, a rebel.

This probably sounds like "damning with faint praise," but you know what wasn't bad? The Loners, the recent Marvel mini-series written by C.B. Cebulski and drawn by Karl Moline.

If you're unfamiliar, this was a spin-off from the really excellent Marvel book Runaways, and features the members of a support group for former teenage superheroes. Ideally, they're all looking to put their costumed pasts behind them and help each other establish normal, safer lives, but events conspire to keep them in costume for now (to the dismay of some, the relief of others).

It's a fun enough premise, and while I preferred the story Brian K. Vaughn told over in Runaways, Cebulski handles the characters and situation ably enough to make for a decent read. He makes good use of both Marvel's past and the current post-Civil War climate, and is yet another writer to prove that you don't need to kill off or drastically re-invent disused - possibly even poorly conceived - characters to make them interesting. They just need interesting stories. Why reinvent the wheel (or blow it up) when a fresh coat of paint will do?

I picked up 5 of the 6 issues out of a fifty cent bin at a recent comic show, and the final issue off the rack at a local shop. For a combined $5.49, I definitely got my money's worth here. There's a trade paperback coming down the pike (and may have already, I'm not sure), which I think is a bit of a mistake on Marvel's part, as this feels perfect for the digest format that its parent book calls home. But whatever the format, if you can find this cheaply enough, it's worth checking out. It's not Watchmen by any means, but it's a decent read.

Plus, if you're a child of the 80s, the covers alone make it worthwhile:


How great is that? If this makes it to another mini, or even an ongoing (and it's clear they really hope to), I'd love to see Goonies or Adventures in Babysitting homages. Make it so!

Joe Besser Week: Space Ship Sappy

Today's helping of Joe Besser is the Three Stooges short Space Ship Sappy, which if I remember correctly, is one of at least two times Moe, Larry, and Joe visit the planet Venus. Or Sunev. Repetitive though the gag may be, it's still kinda funny. Plus, it's got Emil Sitka. Emil Sitka is always awesome. Enjoy!

Part One:


Part Two:

Joe Besser Week Begins!

Joe Besser. America's Greatest Ever Thespian? Well, no, not by a long shot, and I'm sure he'd have been the first to agree with that. But with a look or a line given in that patented petulant, child-like delivery of his, he could always be counted on for a good laugh or two. He was the third "third Stooge" (at least as far as the Columbia Pictures Three Stooges shorts were concerned), coming in after Curly retired and Shemp died, but he was the only member of the group to ever have a notable solo career as well. An arguably more successful career as a single at that, often playing second banana roles to the likes of Joey Bishop, Jack Benny, and Abbott & Costello (both on film and television, the latter in the recurring role of Stinky Davis). He also had a pretty good run in animation, doing voicework for several Hanna-Barbera shows.

Given the amount of laughs the man has given me in my life, the least I can do is give him his own week here.

Some Joe Besser links:
So read up on the man if you're unfamiliar, watch the videos that will inevitably be posted, and enjoy Joe Besser Week.

In space, no one can hear you weld.

Watch it before it goes... the teaser for the new Star Trek movie from J.J. Abrams, captured in craptastic camera phone glory.

Well, okay, it's already gone. But if you didn't see it, all you really missed was interstellar welding and a brief Nimoy v/o. So, you know, not life changing, but still, something.

Too much is never enough.

Today was good.

But it could have been better.

So starting Sunday...

JOE BESSER WEEK!

I need this. You need this. We all need this.

The various whinings and ramblings of the comics internet got you down? Me, too.

You know what we need?

Another Joe Besser day.

Ooh, here's a short interview with Hollywood's Greatest Ever Second Banana:



Joe Besser.

Joe Besser!

JOE BESSER!!!

Even for a guy who speaks mostly nonsense, I couldn't believe what I was saying.

So my boss likes the Fox News. Forgive her, she knows not what she does.

Anyway, she saw this article on their website this morning about the whole Spider-Man One More Day / Brand New Day thing, and knowing I'm a comic book fan, asked me what this was all about.

Now explaining comic storylines - even stripped to their bare bones - to non-comics readers is difficult on the best of days, but even by those standards, the words coming out of my mouth sounded patently ridiculous.

Her only reaction: "Seriously? The devil? Ooooo-kay." She was then confused about how this would affect the movies, and I had to explain about how the movies are their own separate thing, influenced by but not necessarily reflective of the books, and so on, and then I changed the topic to this girl I saw on The Price is Right this week who won both showcases, and I think we were both much happier as a result.

Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of confusing the holy hell out of the general public?

The Dig List - 1/11/08

For those who came in late*, these are hopefully concise, possibly SPOILERY thoughts about things I've read and liked recently. Not so much reviews as reactions.

Annihilation Vol. 2 - Perhaps a little more uneven than the first volume - to be expected, since this consists of three different mini-series by three very different creative teams - but still a solid, exciting read from start to finish. The Silver Surfer segment was probably the most satisfying, but the Super Skrull and Ronan the Accuser portions of the program definitely had their moments (I actually cheered when my favorite character made it through the Super Skrull story alive). Looking forward to now reading volume 3, containing the Annihilation series proper.

Doctor Strange: The Oath - If I had read this in 2007, it would have been one of my 4 or 5 favorite reads of the entire year. Great story by Brian K. Vaughn that manages to do something with Doctor Strange that few writers have ever been able to pull off well - make him relatable. Sure, he's the Sorcerer Supreme, but his stories still need a recognizably human element to work properly. And the art by Marcos Martin... just amazing; regular folks and drooly Lovecraft beasties handled with equal mastery. I'd say that I'd love to see an ongoing Strange book with these two, but honestly, going the Hellboy route - just a series of minis that come out whenever there's actually a story worth telling - is probably best here. I'd definitely like to see these two return to the character soon, though.

Doctor Who Classics #1 - I was hesitant to re-buy a story I already own (I have the issues of Marvel Premiere that first reprinted this in the U.S.), but I was curious and the DCBS discount was sweet, so I caved. The story wasn't any better than I remembered, but the Dave Gibbons artwork does benefit from the modern recoloring, so it's got that going for it. Nothing I'd pick up on a regular basis - and certainly not for the price IDW wants to charge for it - but it does look good.

Brave and the Bold #9 - This continues to be exactly the book I want it to be, and the current theme of smaller stories framed within the Challengers of the Unknown/Book of Destiny plot just gives Waid and Perez even more toys to play with, so it's even that much better. Was this the first time Robby Reed ever teamed up with the Metal Men? Seems like such a natural pairing to me. And yeah, the Easter egg at the center of the Blackhawk/Boy Commandos story made me geek out a bit. Great stuff.

Legion of Super-Heroes #37 - Old writers returning to the books that made them famous usually doesn't work out very well. If the rest of his run is even half as good as his first issue, that won't be the case for Big Jim Shooter's return to the LSH. Say what you will about the man's managerial style, he can still write a sci-fi superhero yarn with the best of 'em. The dreary Bedard story actually drove me off of this book, but Shooter just might bring me back.







*The newspaper here doesn't carry The Phantom in the comics section. I really miss reading the snail-paced adventures of Mr. Walker**.
** For the Ghost Who Walks.

Meet the Beetle (or, when Joe gives you lemons, read better comics)

Hey there, Spider-Man fans... are you so upset by recent events that you feel compelled to set your issues on fire? Well, put that Zippo down, pal - seriously, put the Zippo down - and let me ask you a question.

Did you ever think of giving Blue Beetle a try?

Buy his book and he'll bust a move for you.

If not, you should. It's a great book, and it'll seem familiar to you in a lot of important ways.

Insect-themed costume and codename? Check!

Large, supporting cast, several of whom have subplots going at any given time? Check!

Parental figures who instill strong values and a sense of responsibility? Check!

Frequent guest appearances by other characters? Check!

Superman, Batman, the Titans... dude gets around.

Complicated relationship with a recurring villain due to said villain's connection to one of the hero's best friends? Check!

Cute love interests, at least one of which is a redhead? Check!

Traci 13 or Brenda... the choice we all wish we had to make when we were 16.

Acts like a teenager? Check! And better still, the character actually is a teenager, so you don't have that uncomfortable feeling that the publisher is not-so-subtly making fun of you by depicting your hero as a man-child!

The conclusion here is clear as day, people... Blue Beetle is the best Spider-Man book to have been published in the last 20 years (or at least since Marvel pulled the plug on Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man, whenever that was). Who knew?

(Paid for by The Committee to Get More People to Read Blue Beetle so We Don't Have to Launch Some Online Awareness Campaign to Save the Book When it Becomes in Danger of Cancellation)

Kirby says "Don't Ask! Just Buy It!"

Went to the small, semi-regular comics & collectibles show in one of the Attleboros (North or South... I never remember which one) this past Sunday, and I bought me a Heroclix piece. I haven't played the game in a few years and have sold off most of my collection, but I still have a few of them to display, and one look at this one, and yeah, I had to have this for my geek area in the house:



Devil damn Dinosaur and Moon Boy. I mean, come on. I'm not made of stone here.

Also picked up a bunch of great fifty cent books - the first three issues of Rom, some Micronauts I needed, almost all of The Loners mini-series, and a French-Canadian issue of Spider-Man, to name a few - but even those great finds tremble before the awesome might of Devil Dinosaur, tiny though he may be in comparison. There are some things in life you just need to own. This might be two or three of 'em.




On a related note, may I address the comic and collectible fans in and around the area of whichever Attleboro I visited? Thanks. Huddle up, folks.

Look. I know it's easy to say comic fans are hygienically challenged. It's one of the biggest cliches of the hobby. But honestly? A lot of y'all stink. And badly at that. Soap. Water. They're your friends. Embrace them. Use them.

To illustrate my point a bit... there was a gal there with dreadlocks. When I went to the University of Maine, one of the great hippie havens of the northeast, I encountered a number of dreadlocked girls. As most of 'em stank of patchouli, weed, and unfiltered cigarettes, you could generally smell them an hour before you'd see them. This girl? No discernible odor whatsoever. The dude next to me going through some of those fifty cent bins? Cheese and vomit.

Comic book fans of the Attleboros and surrounding environs... a hippie smelled better than you. Think about it, won't you?

TPS Rocks - Video to Go

Two songs I thought we could all use again right about now:

Spacehog - In the Meantime



Luscious Jackson - Naked Eye

All I'm going to say about the current Spider-Man nonsense.

The preview for the new, magically unmarried Spider-Man is up for looksies on MySpace.

Yeah... why don't they just call it "Peter Parker, the Spectacular Man-Child" and get it over with?

No offense meant to Dan Slott, as this would be a fun story with another character, but for Spider-Man, it's just several giant-steps backward. But now we know precisely what audience they hope to court with this stuff... the people who liked Knocked Up up until the point where Seth Rogen's character got his shit together.

Pretty Sketchy: The Richest Duck of All



My favorite sketch of all... Uncle Scrooge by Don Rosa! Got this at a comic show in Boston in 2003.

The Goodest Comics of 2007

I tried to think up a clever, year end awardsy sort of name for this, but the best I could think of was the Trusties, and even that made me want to bash in my own face with a shovel, so we're going no-frills as far as nomenclature goes. Anyhow, these are the comics / graphic novels / collections / strips / whatever I enjoyed most in 2007. Maybe not all of them actually came out in 2007, but oh well.

Agents of Atlas (Premiere HC) - I generally find Marvel's "premiere hardcovers" to be a pointless cash grab, but they really made this into a book worth owning. It's got the original mini-series (which was a great read on its own, by the way, and exactly the way a concept update / retcon should be handled), the first appearances of all the main characters, and the original What If story that spawned the concept in the first place. Spiffiness abounds here, folks.

All New Atom - Solid, fun superhero stories going on here. Gail Simone is obviously having fun, and the addition of Mike Norton as regular artist has only made things more enjoyable. Don't know if I'll be sticking around when they leave, though.

All Star Superman - When even the bad issues are better than most other comics, you know you have something special. But after the boring Bizarro two-parter and the bland Kryptonian thing last issue, I'm ready to have my socks knocked off again.

Annihilation Book One - This was the event Marvel should have given the hard push, grand sci-fi superhero storytelling of the highest order. And this isn't even the main part of the story! I have Book Two out from the library right now and am anxious to get into it.

Biff Bam Pow - More work from Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer is always a good thing. I'm not as big a fan of the Kid Blastoff stuff as I am some of their other work, but it was still a lot of fun.

Blue Beetle - The best mainstream superhero book being published today. And surprisingly, the best Spider-Man comic I've read in years. Never saw that one coming. Please oh please keep this book alive, DC.

Brave and the Bold - This is everything I hoped it would be... cosmic scale adventures making use of as much of the DC toybox as possible, written and drawn by two of the best in the business.

Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Morality - Sure, there's lots of metatextual commentary for those in the know, but it'd all be pretty meaningless if it hadn't been folded into such a fun to read and beautifully drawn series. I'm glad to see Traci getting some play here and there in the DCU, but let's see the rest of Team 13, too!

Fantastic Four Visionaries: Walter Simonson Vol. 1 - The Acts of Vengeance stuff is fun, but it really comes to life once Simonson starts drawing the book, too. Probably the last time FF was fun until the Waid/Wieringo run. Let's get a Volume 2, already!

I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks - As bizarre as advertised, and probably even more fun to read than you've been led to believe. Seriously, this is something you need to experience for yourselves . Fletcher Hanks was clearly breaking all the rules before there were even rules to be broken.

Immortal Iron Fist Vol. 1 – The Last Iron Fist Story - Ed Brubaker and Matt Fractions take on "kung fu billionaire" is easily the most fun mainstream Marvel book since Nextwave. I hope we get a second collection soon... I've heard such good things.

Johnny Hiro - Lots of fun pop culture referenced throughout, but also kind of sweet, too.

Justice League Unlimited - When they can avoid the "and so (insert superhero name here) learns a lesson" ending, it's a very fun book. And wow, would I love to own that splash page where the Question fights the alien yeti hybrids.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century - If only for the introduction of the greatest Green Lantern of all, Jordana Gardner.

Marvel Adventures Avengers - Started off the year with the best Avengers story ever - the one with all the MODOCs and Karl, the incompetent AIM flunky - and while subsequent issues never quite matched that level of greatness, it was still lots of fun. Plus, Jeff Parker was able to milk another Agents of Atlas appearance out of it, and that's always a plus.

Nextwave, Agents of HATE - Died entirely too soon, but at least the 12 issues we did get are damn near perfect.

Optic Nerve: Shortcomings - Read this as single issues, but it does make a for a good story no matter how you came into it. However, I'd suggest Adrian Tomine greatly speed up his work rate before he tries doing a continuing story again.

The Professor’s Daughter - I think I said back in March that this would be the best graphic novel I'd read all year, and I was right.

Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together - Looking back, probably my favorite volume of the series so far. Still a lot of fun, but I feel like we got a lot of character development this time around. And more Kim Pine, which always a good thing.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil - Not everything I'd hoped it would be, and I didn't particularly care for the redesign of Mr. Mind, but still very enjoyable, and wonderful to look at.

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four - Not my favorite Jeff Parker story, but it was a decent read. Admittedly, though, I mostly include this because it was the last full work from Mike Wieringo.

The Spirit - I'm an unabashed Darwyn Cooke fanboy, but honestly, I'd include this book even if I wasn't. The Spirit was so synonymous with Will Eisner that most folks thought him untouchable by other hands, and Cooke comes in and creates a book that pays homage to Eisner's work while still feeling very much like its own entity. No easy trick. That it read wonderfully and looked gorgeous was icing on the cake.

Sugarshock - Hilarious, beautiful, and 100% cheap-as-free. This particular portion of Dark Horse Presents on MySpace was worth dealing with all the spammy friend requests from fortysomething basement dwellers pretending to be Swedish underwear models.

The Umbrella Academy - An X-Men / Hellboy riff written by a rock star. It shouldn't work, even with Gabriel Ba artwork, but it does. That Way boy has chops. Turns out his music isn't half-bad, either. Who knew?

X-Men: First Class - Worth reading for the Colleen Coover strips alone, but hey, even the regular stories are good. Probably the first time I've really enjoyed the original X-Men since, um... well, it's the first time I've ever enjoyed the original X-Men.