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Posts Tagged ‘Superman

“What, me worry?”*…

 

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When Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD—Humor in a Jugular Vein first appeared in 1952, it was like nothing ever seen before. The comic book parodied comic books, which were then under assault as purveyors of violence and degeneracy that contributed to delinquency, homosexuality, and, of course, the spread of communism. Mad made fun of all that, too.

Within three years, the publication became Mad Magazine, a name change that allowed it to flaunt the prohibitions of the Comics Code Authority. The CCA was an industry effort to tone down comics and hold state censorship at bay. Soon television, movies, advertising, and politics all joined comics as fodder for Mad’s mordant humor. Indeed, the takeaway of Mad was that all of the above were forms of advertising.

Nathan Abrams argues that Mad’s non-partisan critique of Cold War America had more effect than the more famous New York intellectuals working for DissentCommentary, and Partisan Review… No icon was safe: Mickey Mouse, Khrushchev, Joe McCarthy, Superman, George Washington, Norman Rockwell, Madison Avenue, and psychoanalysis all become grist for the writers and artists working in the gap-toothed Alfred E. Neuman’s mill…

How Mad Magazine Informed America’s Cultural Critique

* Alfred E. Newman

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As we honor our elders, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that one of Mad‘s targets– Superman– went wide into the culture: the daily Superman comic strip premiered. (Superman, the character, had debuted in the comic Action #1 the prior year.)  The strips ran continuously until May 1966; at their peak they were run in over 300 daily newspapers and 90 Sunday papers, with a readership of over 20 million.

superman source

 

Written by LW

January 16, 2019 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

“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark”*…

 

In 1978, DC Comics published an over-sized 72-page special edition entitled Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, in which the Man of Steel and The Greatest team to stave off an alien invasion.

The issue’s wraparound cover shows a host of late 1970s celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Tony Orlando, Johnny Carson, the cast of Welcome Back Kotter, and The Jackson 5–seated amongst Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, and other DC superheroes, as well as Warner and DC employees.  The original draft included Mick Jagger in the lower left corner; he was replaced by promoter Don King.  See a list of those depicted here.

[TotH to Retronaut, via almaar kleiner groeien]

* Muhammad Ali, nee Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.

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As we float like butterflies, we might recall that is was on this date in 1948 that Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber,” successfully defended his Heavyweight Championship against Jersey Joe Walcott.  The bout between two African-American athletes was a victory over the prejudices of the time.  Louis held his title for three more years before retiring; in all, Louis successfully defended his Heavyweight title 25 times from 1937 to 1948, and was a world champion for 11 years and 10 months. Both are still records in the heavyweight division, the former in any division.  Walcott went on to defeat Ezzard Charles for the title on 1951, at age 37, becoming the oldest person to wear the Champion’s belt (until George Foreman won it at 45).

With Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, Louis is widely regarded as one of the first African American “national heroes” in the United States, and was a focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment leading up to and during World War II.  He was instrumental in integrating the game of golf, breaking the sport’s color barrier in America by appearing under a sponsor’s exemption in a PGA event in 1952.  Walcott went on to Hollywood (he starred with Humphrey Bogart in The Harder they Fall), then into politics– he was elected sheriff of Camden County, New Jersey in 1971– the first African-American to hold the post.

Joe Louis

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Jersey Joe Walcott

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Relatively speaking…

Max Fleischer and his lady love (source)

Max Fleischer and his brother Dave were giants in the history of animation.  The most significant competition to Walt Disney in the formative years of the art, they created Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, and brought Bimbo, Popeye, Superman, and Gulliver’s Travels to the screen.  Along the way, they invented a number of technologies and techniques that have become essential to the form.

Rotoscope by Max Fleischer, patent drawing from 1914

But possibly the the strangest– and arguably the most wonderful– thing they ever did was this 1923 short film blithely and elegantly explaining the concept of relativity:

TotH to Curiosity Counts.

As we await the animators of our new paradigms, we might wish a minimal(ist) birthday to Philip Glass, award-winning composer and first cousin once removed of (R)D friend and hero Ira Glass; Philip was born on this date in 1937.

Philip Glass

 

 

 

“The map is not the territory”…

The Treachery of Images,” René Magritte, 1928-9

Alfred Korzybski reminds one (in the title-line quote, above), as does Surrealist wit like Magritte’s, that representations are not the things they represent.

Still, they fascinate us– precisely because of their power to evoke the thing that they aren’t.  And when the things that maps evoke aren’t real things at all?  Even niftier!

Consider, for example, two kinds of maps of fictional territories…

For nine years, from 1943 to 1952, Dell published 557 mystery novels with “map backs.”  Some charted fictional action on “real” terrain, for instance…

But most located the imagined plot in an imaginary setting, for example…

and…

In a different imaginary arena (not to say “a parallel universe”), the world of comics, comic books, and graphic novels, maps also play an important role…

Sometimes they are used to elaborate on a conceit in a way that adds narrative credibility through detail, e.g…

Nick Fury’s Tunnel, Strange Tales #141

…and sometimes, simply for dramatic effect, e.g…

Superman throws out the first pitch

Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: A hypperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is never the less the map that proceeds the territory – pressesion of simulacra- that engenders the territory.
– Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra & Simulation, 1994

Or, as someone who isn’t a French Post-Structuralist might say, way cool!

Readers can find more Bantam map-backs at Marble River’s Ephemera (from whence, the examples above) and at Mystery Scene.  Readers can get more graphic guidance at Comic Book Cartography (the source of those examples).  Grateful TotH to reader MH-H for the lead to CBC.

As we endeavor (but not too hard) to avoid the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1987 (44 years to the day after “Bicycle Day,” the day that  Dr. Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, deliberately took the hallucinogen for the first time) that The Simpsons debuted, as a short within The Tracey Ullman Show.

The Simpsons, as they first appeared

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