"Life is gritty enough. Comic books are for fun."

Never thought I'd quote Sandy Cohen in public, but there ya go.

I suppose I should be getting all in a lather over DC Countdown to Thingy Blah Blah, but I just can’t bring myself to care. I haven’t read it, and I don’t intend to. Based on everything I’ve read about it for these past few months, it just didn’t sound like Fun Comics, and I don’t have the time, money or inclination to read something I’m not going to enjoy, even if it only costs a dollar. It may be great, it may be shite, but I’m not even curious enough to peak my head in the door to find out (I call this the “sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie” approach). If you liked it, great. If not, that’s fine, too. But none for me, thanks.

If Countdown commentary is what you crave, though, start
here, here or here.

ADDED LATER: you need to go here and here, too, if only for two of the most intelligent uses of extensive profanity ever.

What does bother me, though, is that
stupid Christopher Eccleston has already quit Doctor Who, apparently out of fear of being typecast. Mr. Eccleston (and for that matter, any other actor out there who might consider playing such a part on film or TV), if you can’t stand the fandom, don’t take the role of a pop cultural icon in the first place!

It's like this and like that and like this and uh

Is it just me, or does anyone else ever find that you get weirded out when someone you know in real life discovers your blog? This has happened to me twice now: once a month or so ago with my wife's cousin, and then just recently with a friend from high school and college who emailed me out of the blue after stumbling across TPS. And both times, it was a little unnerving, kind of like having your secret identity exposed or something (gaaah, I read too many friggin' comic books). I'm not sure why I feel this way. It's not like I use a screenname, or go to great lengths to maintain any sort of anonymity. Right over there on the sidebar, y'all can see my name, my state of residence, an email address I really do check daily and my Amazon list (coughcoughmybirthdayisapril3othcough). And I haven't established any sort of online persona that's any different from my actual real life personality. I guarantee that the me you see here is the me you'd get in person, except here I talk about comic books and Doctor Who more often, since I don't know enough people in everyday life as interested in these things as I am. But whatever the reason - paranoia, geek shame, discomfort with daily life, hiding from The Man - I still get the willies when the Bloggyverse somehow manages to collide with my real life.

Yeah, it's probably just me, isn't it?

Some linkblogging:

Hey, dig that crazy Google homepage... it's a Van Gogh-gle! (probably only good March 30th; if you read this in the future and it's just the plain old Google page, rest assured, it really did happen, and it looked cool).

If you haven't read it before, and even if you have, it's worth your while to check out Bernie Krigstein's story "Master Race" (from the first issue of EC's "New Direction" title Impact), arguably one of the very best comic book stories ever. It's one of the most amazingly intense reading experiences I've ever had, which is all the more incredible given that it's about 8 pages long.

The BBC gives you the chance to mix your own version of the Doctor Who theme with the Radiophon-A-Tron.

More information than you ever needed about the Micronauts.

Much more information than you ever wanted about the New Universe (plus role playing stats, if that's your bag).

Lastly, I realize that wrestling isn't everybody's thing, but the movie trailer-inspired Wrestlemania ads are all pretty funny (particularly Triple H in Braveheart and everyone doing their Travis Bickle impressions).

Nausicaa question

Quick question for the Miyazaki scholars and/or general anime people out there. We were watching Nausicaa the other night (a really excellent movie, BTW, and y'all should watch it if you haven't yet) and there was something in there that struck me as, well, not really odd, but it was definitely a "Hey, is that..." type of moment.

It occurs in the scene where the residents of the Valley of Wind are taking refuge from the Torumekian army in the shattered remains of an old ship. Kurotawa, the Torumekian second-in-command, says that the ship is somewhat legendary, and is believed to have at one point traveled much of the world and has even gone into space. You never do get a really good look at the ship, but it does kind of resemble a souped-up version of a traditional sea-going warship. And this got me thinking, "Hey, is that supposed to be the Argo (or, if you prefer, the Yamoto), the ship from Star Blazers?" Because it certainly has the look, and it does fit Kurotawa's description, seeing as it would indeed have traveled the world by sea, and was later retrofitted for travel to the planet Iscandar to help save Earth from the Gammilons.

Man, I am so throwing Star Blazers on the Netflix list now. But I digress.

So if anyone out there can tell me if this is indeed a well-placed tip of the hat to one of the very best cartoons of my childhood, a wild coincidence in design, or me just being wildly delusional, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!

I hate it when geekdom inflicts itself upon my day-to-day life.

With impending parenthood drawing ever closer, Erin and I decided to take an Adult, Child & Infant CPR class. It was a decent enough class, though there were two small problems. First is the fact that you do a lot of practicing on these CPR dummies, so that by the end of the session, you feel like you've been trying to revive an entire busload of adults, children and infinks. Not so fun if you're even remotely asthmatic. Second, the host/narrator of the video we watched was the guy who does the voice of Cyborg on Teen Titans. I kept expecting him to say something like "Perform 15 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. BOOYAH!!!!" It was very distracting. I should really watch less Cartoon Network.

Lazy morning link blogging

Baseball game called on account of bees. Sounds like the plot of an old school SNL sketch.

Lyle reflects on Steven Grant's smart observations on the state of comic conventions, and makes some pretty smart observations of his own. My own experiences, though, are a little different, since I actually am the type of person who goes to cons looking for back issues, but chalk that up to growing up in Central Maine and currently living in Southern Rhode Island... neither place a real hot spot of comic book variety (but God bless the inter-ma-net for eliminating the obstacle of location).

Psychbloke is talking Doctor Who and manages to explain just what it is that Who fans find so appealing about the show. Of course, he's in England, where I get the feeling that the Doctor's imminent return is really huge news (kinda like when Star Trek: TNG was launched here). Over here in the States, admitting in public that you like the show will often make people look at you like you have some bizarre rash on your face (provided they even know what you're talking about in the first place). Americans need their TV big and flashy and expensive looking, and generally don't understand the concept of the writing transcending the budget constraints. But the next time someone asks me how I can like a show that looks so cheesy, I'll point 'em in the direction of Psychbloke and let him explain it.

Learn a little something about the Fairy (or Little Blue) Penguin. They're ridiculously cute.

Looking for the Legion

So for about the last year now, I've been slowly sucked into the seedy underbelly of comicdom that is Legion of Super-Heroes fandom, and I have to say, I've been enjoying it. Now I want to progress even further along my dark path, but I'm not sure how to proceed.

So I put the question to the Legion fans among you: what should I be reading? Obviously nearly everyone wets their pants with glee over The Great Darkness Saga (which I read awhile back and wasn't too into, but I'd like to re-read now that I have a little context for it), and I hear great things about the Earthwar storyline (which I'm in the process of tracking down). And I already own the Paul Levitz post-Crisis Superboy retcon issues (picked 'em up cheap years ago, if only because they tied in with the Byrne runs of Superman and Action Comics), which are pretty great considering: a.)what he had to accomplish, and b.) that he still managed to make some sense of it all.

But where do I go from here? What do I read, where can I find it, and can it be acquired easily and (hopefully) cheaply? Your help with my journey to the dark side is greatly appreciated.

What did I buy this week? Glad you asked.

Here are some short reviews for the best of what I bought this week:

Bacon Turkey Bravo – IMHO, the best sammich on the whole Panera menu. Turkey, bacon and smoke gouda were born to play together, and the Tomato Basil bread brings a sweet touch to the party. Skip the dressing, though.

Jones Green Apple Soda – Possibly one of the four best beverages on Earth (up there with Dr. Pepper, Stewart’s Orange & Cream Soda and Guinness).

6 Bagels – Three sesame, three blueberry. Tasty breakfast treats. I have trouble digesting cream cheese, so I put butter on my bagels, though sometimes I’ll double up with butter and raspberry preserves (I’m a madman, I know). Peanut butter is good, too, but it works better on the sesame than the blueberry (though it’s very best on cinnamon raisin bagels).

Immodium Advanced – I have occasional bouts of IBS, so it’s good to keep this stuff in the house. Fights gas as well as the poo, so it tends to be more effective than plain ol’ Immodium AD. It also has a hint of vanilla flavor, but I could be imagining that.

Windshield washer fluid – Apparently this comes in colors other than blue now. Who knew? I’m a traditionalist, though, so blue it is for the Doughty household. It does a great job of keeping my windshield free of the copious amount of ice, dirt and road salt we New Englanders have to deal with this time of year. Don’t drive without this stuff!

Baked bay scallops with French fries and a summer squash/zucchini/red pepper medley – If you find yourself dining at Parente’s on Douglas Pike in Smithfield, RI, you’d do well to order this (provided you don’t have an allergy, of course). The scallops are well-prepared (not too chewy… I hate it when they’re too chewy), and the crumb topping would probably be tasty on its own. You have your choice of potato options (I happen to like fries; your mileage may vary), and you can have the vegetable of the day (which for me, was the medley listed above) or slaw. I don’t slaw if I don’t have to, so it was the squash for me!

So those are the highlights of this week’s purchases! Wait... you wanted to hear about comic books? Oh, well, Adam Strange 6 was really good. Read that if you haven’t yet.

Old Comics Week Gone Wild!

Two quick links first:

Mike Sterling, archaeologist of things best left undiscovered, brings us what I believe can be the only(MUST be the only) comic book appearance of One Day at a Time actor Glenn Scarpelli.

Better late then never, Lyle over at Crocodile Caucus presents us with his own list of 100 Things He Loves About Comics. As you'd expect from him, there are some unique and very well thought out choices listed.

Through the miracle of trading for credit, I scored a metric ton of cool swag from the fine folks at Lone Star Comics, so I've been on a major Old Comics Week Bender. Here are the highlights:

Superman 330 - After about 40 years of continuous publication, Superman comes to the conclusion that glasses might not be the most effective disguise. But, of course, they manage to do the trick just the same, and writer Martin Pasko tells us why in as plausible a way as you can when dealing with a guy who has a flying dog and a bottled city full of his homeworlders for pets. Fun stuff.

The Spirit 1 and 2 (Harvey Giant Thrillers) - Harvey published these two huge issues in the 60s in a failed attempt to bring The Spirit back into the public eye. Each reprints about 7 or 8 classic Spirit sections (including "Ten Minutes" and "Plaster of Paris," among others), some then-new re-tellings of the origins of both the Spirit and the Octopus, and some two page gags that attempt to tie the Spirit in with the 60s spy craze. There are cheaper ways to get all these stories, I'm sure, but it's well worth the hunt to get reading copies (there's no shame in a book graded Good, folks!)

Nova 2-5 - More fun with the only Marvel hero more self-loathing than Ben Grimm, Peter Parker and Bruce Banner combined. Nova gets himself a rogues’ gallery (Condor, Powerhouse and Diamondhead this fat), fights Thor (but get this: it was all a misunderstanding!) and meets the Marvel Bullpen as he auditions for his own comic book (Marvel sure did love putting their own people in the books, huh?). Plus, Irving Forbush gets name checked in the credits for one issue (#3 maybe?), and I'm a sucker for that old gag.

Micronauts 16 & 17 - The Micronauts and the Fantastic Four team-up to fight the Psycho-Man and his well-labeled emotional control box. Good? Not so much. Goofy fun? Hell's yeah. I'm not sure why I dig this book so much, seeing as I was too young to play with the toys. I remember seeing them in stories, but no way were my parents gonna buy me a toy line based entirely on the principle of being a choking hazzard. Anyway, these are only marred by the fact that Al Milgrom's finishes and inks kind of ruin the layouts by Howard Chaykin (inexplicably billed "Howie" in one issue). Other than that, good times.

I also scored Batman: Strange Apparitions and the 40 Years of Spidey CD-ROM set, both of which I can't wait to dive into. I think I need a break before I digest those, though. Old Comics Week Benders lead to Week After Old Comics Week Hangovers, which can only be cure by video games (still working my way through X-Men Legends and Katamari Damacy), marathon viewings of Wonderfalls and that take-home exam/project I've been ignoring for too long. More on these things when I actually find the time to read 'em.

(l. to r.) Linnell, Erin (and Liam, in utero), me, Flans.
We went to a free They Might Be Giants show tonight at the Borders location in Providence tonight. The Johns were there promoting their new kids' record, Here Come the ABCs, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take Liam to his first concert (even if he is still just a fetus). I've been a big fan of the group for years, but this is the first time I've ever actually been able to see them live, and it was definitely worth attending. We (and most of the crowd) were expecting mostly stuff off of the new album, but were pleasantly surprised when they worked old favorites like "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," "New York City," "Doctor Worm" and "Particle Man" into the short set. The crowd made the show a lot of fun, full of kids dancing and bopping around on their parents' shoulders. If you don't think that's the cutest thing ever, then you have a cold, dead heart, my friend.  Posted by Hello

Who's On First - 2K5 Edition!

The following is an actual phone conversation I had at work today:

Me: Hello, Library. May I help you?

Alumni Guy: Yeah, I think you may be able to. I’m trying to get on the alumni database on your website. I set everything up with the alumni office the other day in order to get access, but it isn’t working.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry, sir, but we really don’t have anything to do with that. You’ll have to talk to someone in the alumni office about that.

AG: Yeah, I called them, but they’ve gone home for the day. But you can help me. I’m trying to get on the alumni database that’s on your website. You know, your website? I need help getting onto the database.

Me: Well, as I said, we really don’t have anything to do with that, sir.

AG: Have you ever been on your school’s website?

Me: Well, yeah.

AG: Then I know you can help me. I’m trying to access the alumni database, but it won’t let me.

Me: I really don’t know how to help you with that, sir. No one in this building would know anything about that. We don’t have anything to do with the alumni office pages.

AG: I know you can help me, though, because I know you’ve been on the school’s website.

Me: You’d really have to call the alumni office for help with this sir.

AG: They’ve gone home for the day, and I’m positive you can help me. I’m trying to get onto the alumni database. I set everything up, but now I can’t get in.

Me: Well, as I said, we don’t have anything to do with the alumni pages, just the library pages. The people in the alumni office would be the ones to ask about that. You can leave them a message on their voice mail.

AG: But they’ve gone home.

Me: Sir, I think they’re the only ones who can help you with this. People here don’t have anything to do with the alumni pages.

AG: But who can help me?

Me: I don’t know.


Okay, I made up the last couple of lines, but you get the point.

Here’s a fun little game for you: re-read the above and see if you can figure out the exact point at which I started giving the finger to the phone receiver.

Peri Brown said it best: “Circular logic will only make you dizzy, Doctor.” Gaaah!

By Jove, I think they've got it!

From The Beat's coverage of a recent Marvel investors' press conference:

"'More and more, the heart of Marvel is comic books,' said (Marvel vice chairman Peter) Cuneo."

This might just be the comic book related quote of 2005. I realize it's early to make such a claim, but unless Rob Liefeld starts up another publishing company or John Byrne states that he likes to eat babies or something, I really don't know how you're gonna beat it.

Also of note in the article are Avi Arad's profuse apologies for Elektra and Marvel's plans to reintroduce comic books to the shelves of 7-11 (suddenly it's 1982 all over again, and life is sweet).

These are pretty bold statements for a license generating company, don't you think? You'd almost think they were getting back into publishing or something.

So I read some stuff this weekend (when I wasn't busy shoveling).

Seven Soldiers 0 – In my eyes, Grant Morrison is the Dickens of comics. The majority of his works are written for serial publication, but I think they read much better as complete stories. In smaller chunks, the stories just seem malformed to me somehow. His talent is giving birth to a wide range of disparate concepts and then bringing them together into a cohesive whole in ways most people could never conceive. But for whatever reason, watching this evolution over a matter of months or years just doesn’t work for me; I need it all in one chunk. Which is a really long-winded way of saying that I’m sure this will read great in the context of the completed storyline, but on its own, it was merely OK.

Fantastic Four 523 – It was nice to see Alicia used as an actual character again, and not merely in the context of “We gotta go to the Negative Zone, Sue, so dump the kids at the blind girl’s place, wouldja?” The sequence in the art gallery where she explains the emotional reaction she gets from art she has only ever experienced via oral descriptions and her own imagination is a surprisingly sweet moment, and in the space of about 2 pages Waid gives more depth to her character than anyone has since the Lee/Kirby days, if not ever. I’m really going to miss the Waid/Ringo team, and don’t expect I’ll be sticking around when they go.

Hembeck 4: Bah, Hembeck!Fred Hembeck’s 80s series from Fantaco was a great showcase for his talents and the variety of ways in which he’s able to bring the funny. This issue was a bit of a departure, though, as we get Fred’s Secret Origin as a comic book fan, particularly his early love of Weisinger-era Superman, the Flash and the FF. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very funny, as Fred retells some of his favorite stories of the era in his own inimitable fashion (such as the many escapes of Dr. Doom and Jimmy Olsen’s penchant for crossdressing), but he’s in total Fan Love mode here, striking some very reverent tones throughout (his 2 page tribute spread to Infantino’s Flash stories may just be the best thing he’s ever done). This series should really be collected someday (hint hint, Fred!), but until that day comes, it’d be worthwhile to track down this and all of the other issues if you already haven’t.

Legion of Super-Heroes 3 – Kitson’s artwork was a little stiff (even for him), but storywise, I really like where this is going so far, Element Lad’s awkward date conversation made me laugh out loud (“I enjoy being naked.”), and this issue actually made me give a damn about Triplicate Girl, which isn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to say, so that’s three more in the Plus column for Waid right there. This book will make my FF withdrawal much easier to take, methinks.

3 Things I Learned From Essential X-Men Vol. 3

  1. If, for some reason, you happen to forget that the X-Men’s plane is a modified SR-71 Blackbird, don’t worry; Claremont will find some way to slip that fact into the narration next issue, whether it's important to the story or not.
  2. The infamous inaccessibility of X-Men continuity is, at least as far as the early 80s are concerned, a total myth. Previously events are referenced often (sometimes a little too often), not only via the much-missed editorial footnotes of Marvel Gone By, but often within the stories themselves (it also didn’t hurt that there was only the one X-book back then). New readers could pick up almost any issue and be brought up to speed pretty quickly. Claremont was (and is) verbose, but there was a practical upshot to it once upon a time.
  3. If you’re a villain in the Marvel Universe, it must be required by law that you have the hots for Storm. Magneto, Sebastian Shaw, Dr. Doom, Arkon and Dracula all express attraction for her, and more often than not make overt passes. And wasn’t the Doom appearance retconned to be a Doombot? That makes everything even weirder still, as Ororo apparently has mojo enough to turn on inanimate objects (betcha her toaster NEVER burns her bagels in the morning). So let’s see: megalomaniacal world conquerors in outlandish costumes with a fixation on a white-haired, blue-eyed, scantily clad African woman with mutant weather powers. Sounds like a fetish to me.