April 29, 2010

Suddenly, it was almost May...

It has been a few weeks since I last posted, and even though I tend to shy away from personal posts, I thought I would fill you in as to my doings. I am sort of an enigmatic person, so maybe this could be helpful.

In 1980, the year I turned 7, I spent a magical summer at White Lake, an idyllic resort town in North Carolina with lots of charm, as well as piers. I was still a little young to discover girls, but I did end up with two bags of comic books that some unlucky boy had inadvertently left behind. I often think of that poor kid, probably bawling his eyes out, begging his folks to turn the car around. "We'll buy you more!" they probably said, "They're only comics anyway!" My dear mother spent that summer cleaning rooms, and she found the treasure trove, which consisted of mostly DCs and Marvels, with a few Charltons thrown in for good measure. Superheroes, war, horror, this kid had eclectic tastes. I was already having a great time at White Lake, swimming around like a little fish, plunking quarters into the Phoenix machine at The Pavilion, eating way too many hot dogs (chili, mustard, slaw=Carolina Style, baby!), but receiving all those comics started a lifelong love affair.

What do you mean you don't remember Phoenix? It was like the bastard child of Galaga, with these freaky birds swooping down, trying to turn you into cosmic suet. The sound effects were really weird.

Anyway, I decided to take Pooh Bear to White Lake for a day of relaxation. She gets a little edgy if we don't go somewhere at least once every three months. It was a great experience seeing the old place again. Maybe I was romanticizing it, but it seemed much the same. I went for a little swim, but the water is still a bit chilly in April, so we're going back when it gets warmer. It's nice to know that some places don't change.

On the way back, I stopped at the Outlets in Smithfield. There's a book store there, and occasionally they have something too good to pass up. I picked up a copy of Craig Shutt's Baby Boomer Comics, a nostalgic look at the Silver Age ( Nice work, Craig!), but the real drool-inducing tome was The Iron Man Omnibus, for $30, massively discounted because of a small tear in the jacket. 700 pages of vintage Iron Man for $30 bucks? Can't beat that. I also realize that Marvel has been woefully underrepresented on this blog, a situation I hope to address very soon. Let me just make it clear, I love Marvel Comics. I'm not a DC snob by any means, although I am more familiar with DC's mythology.

I spent the better part of my free time that first week I was away reading, but this week, I've been lax in my blogging duties for a completely different reason.

About five years ago, I started dealing with very frequent heartburn. It got worse and worse until I was pretty sure I had an ulcer. I started taking Prilosec, and it did wonders to relieve the pain, so instead of doing the logical thing, ie. going to the doctor to have my ulcer healed, I just kept taking the Prilosec. The main reason for this is that I was really worried that the doctor would tell me I had six months to live, which would have been a major buzzkill.

By the way, it's a common misconception that ulcers are caused by stress. Actually the culprit is usually a bacteria called heliobacter pylori, or h. pylori for short. I promised Pooh Bear that I would finally go see the doc, so I went, got my finger stuck, and had my self diagnosis confirmed. As a result of a "weak positive" h. pylori result, I am currently on two antibiotics and a stronger dose of Prilosec, a regimen I have to follow for two weeks. I'm not allergic to antibiotics, but I have been dealing with the common garden variety side effects which you can Google at your leisure.

I highly recommend that ulcer-sufferers (you know who you are) have this h. pylori test and save yourself a lot of unneccesary misery. It's not very expensive to treat (even without health insurance) and you'll be a new person in mere weeks.

That reminds me, I'm glad to see that Ivan G Shreve, Jr., of Thrilling Days Of Yesteryear fame, is convalescing nicely after his recent surgery. Ivan is an expert on all kinds of subjects, especially vintage movies and old time radio.

While I'm sending shout-outs, much thanks to the folks who regularly link to this site. It's a real honor to be linked to by the likes of Tom Spurgeon, the fine folks at Super I.T.C.H., and the equally amazing crew at The Comics Journal's blog, ¡Journalista!, just to cite a few examples.

Ok, that's all for now. To recap, Iron Man good, ulcers bad, White Lake about the same. More comics soon!

April 15, 2010

NSFW Week: Roger Brand's "The Floating Head"

Sex! Violence! Cursing! These are the comics your mother (and Dr. Wertham) warned you about! They might not rot your mind, but they are definitely...

Roger Brand worked as an assistant to Wally Wood and Gil Kane in the mid-60's. He is better known for the contributions he made in the world of Underground Comix, publications like Tales Of The Leather Nun, Insect Fear, and Young Lust. "The Floating Head," from Real Pulp Comics #1 (Jan 1971), is a mixture of sci-fi and detective stories, with lots of naked women thrown in for good measure. It'sa speecy spicy!

April 13, 2010

NSFW Week: Pete Bagge's "Sleezball"

Hide the children! Draw the blinds! This week at Easily Mused, every comic exhibit is...

Combining the manic energy of a Bob Clampett cartoon with the massive angst of a generation forced to live directly in the shadow of The Baby Boomers, Pete Bagge created a signature style that continues to resonate strongly today. "Sleezball," a 1982 contribution to an anthology titled Dr. Wirtham's Comix & Stories, is a portrait of a young man running from a meaningless life of privilege, seeking to find the joy in life's simple pleasures, like "RC Cola on an empty stomach." What's more, it's a laugh riot! (Warning : Contains profanity, mature themes, immature themes, drug use, violence, cannibalism, and multiple references to pig's knuckles.) Soon to be a major motion picture. See what I did there?

April 12, 2010

NSFW Week: Wally Wood's "My Word"

One of the things that appeals to me the most about comics is the endless variety they contain. The basic definition, "words and pictures", can be expanded to encompass subject matter as benign as Mickey Mouse and as "adult" as Art Spiegelman's harrowing "Maus." 20th century American society largely identified comics as light entertainment. Any comic which portrayed nudity, profanity, or sexual themes was widely disavowed as "smut" by the masses. Hypocritically, in the medium of film, for example, such subject matter has been largely embraced by the public, film being considered an art form. Because I feel that comics are as valid an art form as movies, this week I am sharing comics that contain adult subject matter. They are all most definitely...

First off, here is Wally Wood's no-holds-barred look at life in New York City. It's about much more than that however. Deeply embittered by the limitations imposed on the art form of comics, and feeling royally screwed by publishers and fans, Wood parodied an earlier story (written by Al Feldstein) called "My World,"a tribute to Wood that had seen print in EC's Weird Science #22 in 1953. Wood's state of mind here is not altogether healthy, but his art is still magnificent. Knowing that Wood would commit suicide a few years after "My Word" puts it in tragic perspective. Here is a tale from a man living through his own personal Hell.

From Big Apple Comix #1 (September 1975)

For more Wally Wood check out Booksteve's excellent blog, Hooray for Wally Wood.

April 9, 2010

What's Your B.Q.?

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor...

Yes, we can all breathe a deep sigh of relief knowing that our nation's farmers have a Martian and his magnetic powers on their side!
Volto has magnetic hands, so he has a slight problem with metal belt buckles.
Suddenly, God creates a giant boulder and sends it hurtling towards young Jimmy. Nice one, God.
This is where Volto wastes valuable time explaining that he is about to "go into action." When Volto uses his powers, it sounds like this..."Volto!"
I'm pretty sure peaches are unaffected by magnetism. "Volto!"
I'm going to be pretty disappointed if someday an alien race lands on Earth and their advanced technology turns out to be whole grain cereal based.
Little known fact: Volto is unable to hold a spoon with his left hand.

April 6, 2010

A Pop Culture Bender

"All things in moderation," a credo I try my best by which to live. Sometimes though, my passions get the better of me and I find myself frenetically absorbing pop culture the same way a thirsty sponge absorbs water. If posting here is light, it can only mean that I've been off on another...Pop Culture Bender. Not really reviews, more like snapshots.

I put off buying The Flash: The Complete Series for a loooong time. Even though The Flash was one of my favorite heroes growing up, the series kinda left me cold. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that The Flash's costume looked like it was molded out of Play-Doh. Still, when I saw this at Best Buy for $14.99, I grabbed it...very quickly.

The Adventures Of Superman (Seasons 5&6) was also about $15, this time at Wal-Mart. It's great to finally own every episode of this classic series although it's hard to view this series the same after having watched Hollywoodland. Damn you, Ben Affleck!

Spider-Man: The '67 Collection: This first noble attempt to bring Spider-Man to TV screens has it's share of pros and cons. I love the jazzy score and colorful backgrounds, but I have to snicker at the rendering of Spidey's costume. I can just hear the animators saying, "No way I'm drawin' all these freaking lines!" The trippy Bakshi-directed episodes are worth the price of admission.

For a mere $1.50, I found a copy of humorist Sam Levenson's 1973 book, In One Era and Out the Other, at a local thrift store. Levenson is little-remembered today, but he was a successful TV personality/comedian in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He later became a best-selling author. In One Era... is largely a comparison of life growing up during The Great Depression and the modern world of the early 70's. Levenson has a penchant for puns and clever wordplay, and his essays are full of fascinating details about a past era worth remembering.

Was Ramsey Lewis just trying to cash in on the success of The Beatles, or did their music genuinely inspire him? Listening to Mother Nature's Son, a collection of covers of songs from The Beatles' eponymous 1968 album, my gut is telling me it's the latter. Good clean jazz-funk.

There are some funny moments on Burns And Schreiber's Pure B.S. album, but it didn't strike me as a classic on first listen. Maybe I had to be there.

I used to go to comic shows to stock up on mostly Silver Age DCs. Lately, I am more drawn to the quirkiest comics I can find. I love the painted cover of this Dell Outer Limits comic. Dinosaurs + time machines = good times!

Speaking of time machines, I occasionally park mine in The Present, especially on Tuesdays, when Lost airs. Totally addicting.

I fell asleep during my first viewing of Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths, but that doesn't mean I didn't like it. One thing is for sure: The short featuring "The Spectre" was great!

Hanna-Barbera's Godzilla cartoons strike me as a cut above some of their other shows of the period, like Speed Buggy and The Funky Phantom. Doug Wildey's strong character designs probably are the reason for that opinion. Also, Godzooky is not nearly as annoying as Scrappy Doo.
Watched this for the first time ever on Easter morning. Ever since, I've had "Light Of The World" stuck in my head. Why had I never seen this?

Haven't had time to listen to this yet! Actually, I'm delaying the gratification. This is perhaps the last of the classic era Firesign Theatre albums that I've never heard. Great cover!

This of course, being the legendary Eddie Murphy at his prime. Somehow, I had only ever heard the soundtrack of this video concert, which was released as Eddie Murphy: Comedian. Interesting to see something I'd only heard before. Still holds up.

Coolest Birthday present ever? Maybe. Heaviest book in my library? Probably. The lion's share of the amazing Don Martin's output. It made me kerplunkle all over my fleeblebinder. Sproink!

A clever story, nicely executed. For kids of all ages.

The Best American Comics 2009, edited by Charles Burns. 'Nuff Said!

Batman: The Brave And The Bold is still a Silver Age fan's dream come true.

Just watched The Atomic Cafe on Netflix yesterday. It's a documentary about The Atomic Age that is equal parts disturbing and comical.

I did not care for Tim Burton's latest effort as much as I would have liked. It didn't seem to have the spark of some of his earlier productions. The idea of Tim Burton directing Alice In Wonderland probably made the actual product anticlimactic.

Finally, I've been revisiting the movies of Abbott & Costello, including Hold That Ghost and Who Done It? Fun stuff!