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Posts Tagged ‘Comics

“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

“If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing”*…

 

… one of hundreds of evocative entries in Greg Borenstein‘s wonderful Dictionary of Fantastic Vocabulary.

* Henry Hazlitt

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As we contemplate coinage, we might spare a thought for George Joseph Herriman; he died on this date in 1944. A cartoonist best remembered for Krazy Kat, which ran from 1913 until his death, he was never a commercial success; his strip survived via the admiration (and support) of his publisher, William Randolph Hearst.  But Herriman was enormously influential, a primary influence on cartoonists like Will Eisner, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Bill Watterson, and Chris Ware… and no mean wrangler of language himself.

1922 self-portrait

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Written by LW

April 25, 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.

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Written by LW

January 20, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Life’s a lot more fun when you aren’t responsible for your actions”*…

 

Josh Millard has created “Calvin and Markov,” a “machine” that generates scrambled variations on Bill Watterson’s classic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, using a Markov chain process.

Just land here, then keep hitting refresh to experience a steady stream of random, but somehow still inspired, silliness.

And if (as your correspondent hopes and expects) you like it, try Millard’s other wonders: GarkovPreviously, On The X-Files, The Big Markovski, and Jesus Markoving Christ.

* Calvin, in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

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As we mix it up, we might send Kryptonite-free birthday greetings to Joseph “Joe” Shuster; he was born on this date in 1914.  A comic book artist, he is best remembered for creating (with his high school best friend, writer Jerry Siegel), the DC Comics character Superman, who debuted in Action Comics No. 1 (June, 1938).

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Written by LW

July 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language”*…

 

Wittgenstein playing Pictionary with Freud; Russell, Hegel, and Marx as Pokemon characters; Sartre’s birthday party; Greek Hold’em– all this and much, much more merriment (in larger format) at the exquisite Existential Comics.  The inevitable anguish of living a brief life in a absurd world.  Also jokes.

* Ludwig Wittgenstein

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As we get behind the greater good, we might spare a thought for Johann Christoph Denner; he died on this date in 1707. One of the Baroque Era’s leading musical instrument makers, he was renown throughout Europe for his well-tuned recorders, flutes, oboes, and bassoons.  But he is best remembered as the inventor the clarinet, a result of Denner’s attempts to refine the chalumeau, the first true single reed instrument.  The chalumeau and clarinet are the only woodwinds with a cylindrical bore; others (including the flute) have a conical bore.

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Written by LW

April 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Adults are only kids grown up”*…

 

Childhood distorts your memories in strange ways — everything seems bigger, more extensive, more dramatic. Take the seminal comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, for example. Much of its 1985 – 1995 run lined up with my own childhood; I eagerly waited for the newspaper (yes, comics in the newspaper!) every day from about 1989 on. When I started reading, I was only a year or two older than Calvin himself, thus making the strip eminently relatable in a way that few other pieces of art have ever been for me. (And make no mistake, Calvin and Hobbes is art.)

Of course, it was an exaggerated version of being a kid — in particular the amount of destruction that Calvin heaped on his poor, unwitting parents. My memories tell me that nary a week went by without some incredible amount of damage caused to Calvin’s home. An article and chart published to the ridiculously-named PNIS (Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science, which claims to be a “part-serious, part-satirical journal publishing science-related articles”) backs up those assumptions, and even puts a dollar figure on it. According to these calculations, Calvin’s destructive tendencies cost his parents approximately $15,955.50 over the course of the strip’s 10 years…

Read more at Nathan Ingraham‘s “Calvin and Hobbes were even more destructive than you think.” (and read the full scientific paper here.)

* Walt Disney

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As we find humor in the hyperbole, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that Margaret Sanger, her sister, Ethel Byrne, both nurses, and an associate, Fania Mindell opened the Brownsville Clinic in Brooklyn– the first family planning and birth control clinic in the United States. (The first such clinic in the world opened in Amsterdam in 1885.)  The police quickly closed the facility; Sanger served 30 days in jail.  But she and her colleagues gamely re-opened; and in 1917, Sanger helped organize the National Birth Control League, which would later become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Sanger (center) at the Brownsville Clinic

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Written by LW

October 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

“…theoretical considerations require that what is to-day the object of a phobia must at one time in the past have been the source of a high degree of pleasure”*…

 

In 1955, in the wake of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency investigation into the corrupting influence of comic books (and the now largely-discredited but then damning testimony of Frederic Wertham), E.C. Comics, which had been singled out as an offender, inaugurated an “educational” series, “New Direction,” with the series Psychoanalysis.  Each issue, drawn by Jack Kamen (whose earlier work had included Tales from the Crypt), narrated the clinical experiences of three patients in analysis…

The series– realistically recounting the sessions of patients, each cured by their therapists– bewildered retailers and readers alike.  It was cancelled after four issues.  Within 5 years EC publisher William Gaines had shifted his attention completely to what was, in 1955, a nascent side project for Harvey Kurtzman:  Mad.

Read more about Psychoanalysis— see more covers, find precis of the storylines– at “Curious ‘Psychoanalysis’ comics from the 1950s.”

* Sigmund Freud, The Sexual Enlightenment of Children

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As we’re gently informed that our time is up, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 that neuropsychiatrist Walter Freeman and his friend and colleague, the neurosurgeon, James W. Watts performed the first pre-frontal lobotomy in the U.S.  Freeman and Watts had learned of the technique from it’s “inventor,” Egas Moniz, a Portuguese surgeon who’d performed the very first lobotomy (or “leucotomy” as it’s also known) earlier that same year.  Now out of favor and largely out of practice, Freeman and Watts developed a method that was the basis for procedures– an estimated 40,000 in the U.S.– conducted until around 1960, when the practice effectively ceased.  But in headier days, lobotomies were the rage: Moniz shared the 1949 Nobel Prize for Medicine “for his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses.”

Site of borehole for the standard pre-frontal lobotomy/leucotomy, as developed by Freeman and Watts

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Written by LW

September 14, 2014 at 1:01 am

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