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Posts Tagged ‘comic books

“There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away”*…

 

BQR-Vol.-1-No.-12-1916-Bookworm

 

Nor indeed, to transport pests, it seems…

In Micrographia, a “study of the Minute Bodies made by the Magnifying Glass”, London, MDCLXVII, one of the earliest publications issued under the authority of the newly-formed Royal Society, Robert Hooke described in Observation LII the “small silver-colour’d Book-worm”, “which upon the removal of Books and Papers in the Summer, is often observed very nimbly to scud, and pack away to some lurking cranny”. The third figure of the 33rd scheme pictures a monster so formidable-looking that Blades (Enemies of Books, 1896) may be forgiven the suggestion that Hooke “evolved both engraving and description from his inner consciousness”… [source]

Hooke

Bookworm (Fig. 3, top) in Hooke’s Micrographia

But as later observation confirmed, Hooke was on the money…  Sir William Osler, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford and one of the board of trustees of the Bodleian Library — called the Curators — of the Library reported in the first Volume of the Bodleian’s Quarterly Record

‘In October 1915 I received from a Paris bookseller, M. Lucien Gougy, three volumes of the Histoire abregie de la derniere persecution de Port-Royal. Edition Royale, MDCCL.’ In one of the volumes Osler found a living book-worm, of species Anobium hirtum, ‘not a native of England, but met with occasionally in the centre and south of France.’

In true scientific fashion, Osler arranged for a portrait of the larva [the image at the top of this post] to be made by Horace Knight, natural history illustrator of the British Museum. Knight sent the picture in September 1916, apologising that he had ‘been waiting in hopes the larva would pupate, but it has not even commenced to make a case…’.

Bookworms and the Bodleian: “The Bodleian Quarterly Record, Vol. I (1914-16); and Osler’s ‘Illustrations of the book-worm’.”

* Emily Dickinson

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As we devour books, we might recall that it was on this date in 1890 that Alfred Harmsworth published the first edition of Comic Cuts, the first British weekly comic paper.  A savvy publicist, Harmsworth relentlessly advertised the then-amazing fact that his paper was only a halfpenny an issue.  Indeed in his manifesto in the first issue he wrote:

How is it possible for any one to provide an illustrated paper… for a halfpenny? Well, it is possible to do it, but that is all. I feel sure that the public will appreciate the fact that they are getting full value for their money, and will therefore buy the paper in immense numbers weekly.

And indeed his comic book was published from 1890 to 1953, lasting for 3006 issues– during which time it inspired the birth of an industry, as other publishers began to emulate him,  producing rival comic magazines.

 

“Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?”*…

 

Magician hat

The Magician, by Claude Burdele, 1751

 

A telling aspect of the magic hat, as a physical thing, is that its form is often mundane, appearing in the shape of a traveler’s or laborer’s hat, such as a cap or a simple fedora. Described as a “coarse felt hat” in an English play about a wishing hat published at the turn of the seventeenth century, and in a nineteenth-century Grimm’s fairy tale as a “little old worn-out hat” that “has strange properties,” it is similarly defined in many stories.

The magic hat’s association with the commonplace has continued into modern times. For example, the top hat used in the magician’s show, though linked with the wealthy, was a style worn by many men and women who lived on the lowest rungs of the class system. The Harry Potter Sorting Hat, so probing that “there’s nothing hidden in your head / The Sorting Hat can’t see,” was an old, bent “pointed wizard’s hat” that was “patched…frayed and extremely dirty.” The sacred hat, too, in many cultures has been based, like the magic hat, on the commonplace…

On wishing hats, top hats, the Helm of Death, and other mystical headgear: “The Strange Properties and Histories of the Magic Hat.”

* Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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As we contemplate caps, we might send mighty birthday greetings to Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons of Themyscira and the mother of Wonder Woman.  She was created by Zeus (in answer to the mischief sown by Ares) on this date in an unnumbered (and unknown) year in antiquity (in the fictional DC Comics universe of which she is a part).

200px-Hippolyta-DC_Comics-All-Star_Comics_No._8_(1941)

Hippolyta as depicted in her first appearance, in All Star Comics #8 (December 1941)

source

 

Written by LW

January 8, 2020 at 1:01 am

“It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work”*…

 

faulknermail

In 1921, 24-year-old William Faulkner had dropped out of the University of Mississippi (for the second time) and was living in Greenwich Village, working in a bookstore—but he was getting restless. Eventually, his mentor, Phil Stone, an Oxford attorney, arranged for him to be appointed postmaster at the school he had only recently left. He was paid a salary of $1,700 in 1922 and $1,800 in the following years, but it’s unclear how he came by that raise, because by all accounts he was uniquely terrible at his job. “I forced Bill to take the job over his own declination and refusal,” Stone said later, according to David Minter’s biography. “He made the damndest postmaster the world has ever seen.”

Faulkner would open and close the office whenever he felt like it, he would read other people’s magazines, he would throw out any mail he thought unimportant, he would play cards with his friends or write in the back while patrons waited out front. A comic in the student publication Ole Miss in 1922 showed a picture of Faulkner and the post office, calling it the “Postgraduate Club. Hours: 11:30 to 12:30 every Wednesday. Motto: Never put the mail up on time. Aim: Develop postmasters out of fifty students every year.”…

Happily, he had other talents. The curious story in its entirety: “William Faulkner was really bad at being a postman.”

For a more successful literary postman, consider Anthony Trollope or Benjamin Franklin.

* William Faulkner

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As we ponder the post, we might send grudging birthday greetings to Harvey Pekar; he was born on this date in 1939.  Frequently called “the poet laureate of Cleveland,” he was an underground comic book writer, music critic, and media personality,  best known for his autobiographical American Splendor comic series, drawn by R. Crumb and a series of other extraordinary artists, and for the 2003 film adaptation it inspired.

Pekar source

 

Written by LW

October 8, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Be careful of Mankind; they do not deserve you”*…

 

The recent theatrical release of Wonder Woman briefly catapulted the question of female superhero representation into the mainstream. For some, the character is a feminist icon — even Gloria Steinem wrote about her — and many fans (though not all) felt this wasn’t just another superhero movie, but rather a pivotal moment in the portrayal of women in popular culture.

Why all the fuss? Well, the truth is that the comics industry has had a complicated relationship with female characters. They are often hyper-sexualizedunnecessarily brutalizedstereotyped, and used as tokens. They’re also rare. Only 26.7 percent of all DC and Marvel characters are female, and only 12 percent of mainstream superhero comics have female protagonists.

I decided to look beyond the gender ratio to see if we could learn more about how females are represented. Using characters from DC and Marvel in the ComicVine database, I analyzed naming conventions, types of superpowers, and the composition of teams to see how male and female genders are portrayed…

Amanda Shendruk dives deeply into the canon: “Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters.”

For a(n encouraging) look beyond the borders of the DC-Marvel dupopoly, see also “Women in comics and the tricky art of equality.”

* Hippolyta, to her daughter Diana (Wonder Woman)

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As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884, at the Savoy Theatre in London, that composer Sir Arthur Sullivan and librettist W. S. Gilbert premiered the eighth of their fourteen comic operatic collaborations, Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant, an amusing parody of Tennyson’s “Princess.”   Though still regularly performed today, Princess Ida wasn’t considered a success in its time– at least in part because an uncommonly hot summer in 1884 kept audiences away, and shortened its run.

Hilarion, Cyril and Florian on their knees to Princess Ida, by “Bab” (W.S. Gilbert)

source

 

“Childhood is a very, very tricky business”*…

 

Picture from Presto and Zesto in Limboland, ©2017 by the Maurice Sendak Foundation.

Lynn Caponera, president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation, was going through the late artist’s files last year “to see what could be discarded,” she said. “I was asking myself, do we really need all these?” when she found a typewritten manuscript titled Presto and Zesto in Limboland, co-authored by Sendak and his frequent collaborator, Arthur Yorinks. Caponera, who managed Sendak’s household for decades, didn’t remember the two friends working on a text with that title, so she scanned the manuscript and e-mailed it to Michael di Capua, Sendak’s longtime editor and publisher.

“I read it in disbelief,” said di Capua. “What a miracle to find this buried treasure in the archives. To think something as good as this has been lying around there gathering dust.”

Not only is the manuscript complete, so, too, are the illustrations. Sendak created them in 1990 to accompany a London Symphony Orchestra performance of Leoš Janáček’s Rikadla, a 1927 composition that set a series of nonsense Czech nursery rhymes to music.

Voila! So it is that Sendak, considered by many to be the most influential picture book creator of the 20th century, will have another publication in the 21st, five years after his death…

Happy endings at: “New Maurice Sendak Picture Book Discovered.”

* Maurice Sendak

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As we go Where the Wild Things Are, we might send powerfully-drawn birthday greetings to Colleen Doran; she was born on this date in 1964.  A write, artist, illustrator, and cartoonist, she has illustrated hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books and magazines. She has illustrated the works of Neil Gaiman (her drawings and adaptation of his “Troll Bridge” was a New York Times bestseller), Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Joe R. Lansdale, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Tori Amos; her credits include: The Sandman, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen TitansThe Vampire Diaries comics, Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and her space opera series, A Distant Soil… for which she has received Eisner, Harvey, and International Horror Guild Awards.

 source

 

“If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes”*…

 

The Justice League of America and the Avengers are the top teams in comics, super-groups composed of the most popular, most powerful and most iconic superheroes in their respective publisher’s fictional universes. Jon Morris’ League is… not that kind of league.

Morris, a graphic designer, cartoonist and writer, has devoted himself to compiling and chronicling the weirdest superheroes from throughout comics history on his blog Gone & Forgotten, which he’s maintained since the late 1990s. Those efforts have lead to a new book, The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes From Comic Book History, which features a full 100 of the most spectacular misfires of the 20th century comics industry, from 1939’s Bozo The Iron Man to 1997’s Maggott, from shoe shill AAU Shuperstar to the compressed air-powered speedster Zippo…

More merriment at: “Jon Morris on His ‘League of Regrettable Superheroes’.”

* Mark Twain

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As we search for a vacant phone booth, we might send exquisitely-drawn birthday greetings to David Harold Hoover; he was born on this date in 1955. Dave began his career as an animator, contributing to such programs as Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Archie Show, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, The Super Friends, The Smurfs, Men in Black: The Series, The Godzilla Power Hour, RoboCop: Alpha Commando, and many more. He then moved to comics (also teaching at the Art Institute of Philadelphia).  While he’s best remembered for his art work on on DC Comics’ The Wanderers and Starman and Marvel Comics’ Captain America, he also created such candidates for Morris’ catalog as these:

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Written by LW

May 14, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.”*…

 

Comic Republic, a Nigerian comics startup based in Lagos, is creating a universe of superheroes for Africans and black readers around the world. The cast of characters—”Africa’s Avengers” according to some fans—ranges from Guardian Prime, a 25-year old Nigerian fashion designer by day who uses his extraordinary strength to fight for a better Nigeria, to Hilda Avonomemi Moses, a woman from a remote village in Edo state who can see spirits, and Marcus Chigozie, a privileged but angry teenager who can move at supersonic speeds…

More about what’s up– and why– at “A Nigerian comics startup is creating African superheroes.”

* Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

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As we look! up in the sky!, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that DC Comics published Sensation Comics #63, featuring the classic Wonder Woman story “The Wall of Doom,” in which Professor Vibrate uses sound to render victims unconscious as he robs banks.

 source

 

Written by LW

January 20, 2016 at 1:01 am

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