Saturday, December 30, 2006

Last night was a wild night

Last night was a wild night.

I was walking down Hollywood Blvd and ended up at Las Palmas, where they're doing a repair project, re-paving the road. I didn't smell the tar smell until I'd already taken an unlucky step into the street, and felt my foot stick to the paving. As I pulled my foot up off the ground I noticed the crowd across Las Palmas. They were gathered round a homeless woman who had, apparently, laid down in the middle of the newly-paved road, and was stuck. Where her bare back had touched the pavement, the skin was tearing off, exposing her dermis and dripping blood. Someone in the crowd mentioned that the poor woman had been cold, and so laid down on the hot pavement, and was now paying the price. Her cries were excrutiating to hear.

Then there was a siren, and the fire truck pulled up, and firemen climbed out and headed toward the unfortunate woman. I decided since there wasn't anything I could do anyway that I would turn around and go back to my apartment. I came upon a couple of the many police officers that now frequent Hollywood Blvd. I nodded at them, said Hi, and then, for some reason I was feeling particularly ingratiating so I told them, "I walk around Hollywood Blvd a lot and I want to let you guys know I appreciate everything you do. I think you really keep the streets safe. Good job." I think I meant to mention something about the recent report that showed violent crime in Los Angeles had fallen last year, but I didn't get around to it before the police exchanged looks and then one, whom I will call "A", said,

"So, you live in Hollywood?"

"Yes, right around the corner there," I said, pointing.

"Well, let's hang out," said the second, whom I'll call "B." They each put their arms round my shoulders and led me in the direction in which I'd pointed, so now I had no choice but to take them back to my apartment to "hang out." I wracked my brain trying to come up with a reason to break away from them.

"What's in your bag, there?" A asked.

"Huh?" I didn't want to show them what was in my bag.

"We're just curious about you and what you do, since you were so complimentary. We like to know about our citizens. You're certainly not under any obligation to open your bag for us."

"Yeah, we can always get a search warrant! Hahaha."

Laughter all around, although I didn't feel it was all that funny. This situation had quickly turned surreal, and I was fast becoming scared.

"No, that's not necessary," I said, opening my bag. I was trying to make a joke when I continued "I hope I'm not carrying anything incrimin--" but I stopped myself because they already seemed unduly suspicious of me for some outrageous reason, and continued with "--anything that would make me look silly to you guys." I showed them some sketches and scripts.

"Oh, you write comics, huh?" A said. "That's cool." All the way back to my apartment we made small talk about comics (they were both fans) and movies based on comics. I tried hard to say exactly what I thought they wanted me to say, and to try to think of something I could do to get away. But I couldn't, and I don't remember a time when I've felt more dread.

When we got to my apartment, they invited themselves in and poured themselves glasses of grapefruit juice. B started making stacks of my stuff, a few books and drawings, and placing the stacks near my front door.

I now started to feel I might actually be in danger. I said, "Tell you what, guys, I'm gonna take off, because I was actually out running errands when I--"

"No, hang out with us a little longer," A said. "We hardly ever get to hang out with people who aren't criminals or cops."

B decided to take a shower. A went out to make a call, or check in, I didn't hear what he said, so I decided this was my chance to get away from this increasingly unbelievable situation. I gathered up a few of the books and drawings that B had stacked, and started to leave. Then I decided that if I just took off like that the cops would be mad at me, and since they now knew where I lived they could make my life extremely difficult if they wanted to. So I decided to leave a note. And intense, nail-bitingly suspenseful search for a blank piece of paper and writing utensil ensued (I'd misplaced the small notebook and pen I always carry with me in my pocket).

As I began the note, I heard the shower turn off. My heart was pounding; I only had a few seconds left to write something acceptable and make my escape. I finished writing a few words and scrambled out the front door, just as several other police officers and their spouses/boyfriends/girlfriends start arriving, headed straight for my apartment door.

"Hey, where are YOU off to?" A asked.

"Oh, no," I said, finally feeling I'd been pushed too far. "You can't have a PARTY here!" I then made one of the boldest moves I think I've ever made in my life; I actually pushed several of them away from my door.

Another policeman, "C," turned to A and says, angrily, "Hey, I thought you said this guy was cool to hang out with!"

"I THOUGHT he was," A said. Then, to me: "Maybe we need to get that warrant after all."

He uses what looks like a walkie-talkie to radio the police station, and at this point I realized that I was having a dream, and so I started disintegrating the policemen with my mind. A few of them got away, but I obliterated most of them.

The scene shifted to Hell, with one demon telling another that he was happy they'd found a new partner for the policeman I'd been calling "A," because his previous partner lacked imagination.

I woke feeling scared and needing to pee. It was 3:47 am.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy Birthday, Stan Lee


(Stan Lee, with Jack Kirby [left] and Dr Doom [right]. I couldn't scan it, but in the very next panel Stan and Jack get tired of waiting for the Fantastic Four to show up and beat the shit out of Dr Doom themselves.)

Seriously, when you think of everything The Man had a hand in creating and writing, it's mind-bogglingly impressive, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blog padding: A few exciting, link-filled, quick thoughts on "Children of Men"

I saw Children of Men today, and it was extremely well-made and well-acted, but I had a few problems with it that kept me from being completely moved by it. Briefly, the premise is that all the women in the world have become sterile, and humankind is dying off. As a result, the world is in chaos. Without hope, most people are giving up, and turning to anarchy. In England, where the story takes place, foreigners are being rounded up and sent to camps. This is problem one: Why are the foreigners being rounded up? Wouldn't countries WANT immigrants in such circumstances, to boost their populations? (For that matter, don't European countries now RELY on immigration to keep their populations from declining?) Problem two: Clive Owen's character is a smoker, which seems to be a fairly widely accepted practice. Wouldn't smoking be very much against the law, in addition to fried foods, gas guzzling SUVs, and anything else that the government thought might lead to a shortened life span? Which leads right into problem three, the big one: Suicide is accepted, even promoted on television commercials for the ethical suicide product "Quietude" (or something like that). I would think suicide would be driven underground. Something else left unexplained is cloning. The movie takes place far in the future, I assume there would have been some serious research into cloning, and new techniques developed that would lead to human cloning. If nothing else, there could have been a line somewhere about how "It's too bad that cloning never worked out, huh?" Maybe there was such a line, and I missed it. There could be an interesting story in that; I bet a lot-- but certainly not all-- of the "moral" opposition to cloning and, say, stem cell research would drop away if all the women in the world were sterile.

I have no doubt that if such a scenario existed, and mankind were not only dying off but dying off slowly, even as it watched helplessly, that the level of despair would be so high that many people would become crazed and turn to anarchy. But, and maybe I'm being naive here, I think there would be an equally large, perhaps larger, number of people who try to find a way around this (through cloning research) or life extension techniques (I bet steroids would be legalized, for their life-extending qualities).

There are always people who say the end of the world is coming, things like "If we keep using our natural resources the way we are now, we'll be out of oil by 1975," and yet here we are, the earth's population is bigger than ever before, and we've still got our wonderful oil.

All that being said, I do think Children of Men is worth seeing, the direction and cinematography are outstanding, the action scenes are intense and convincing (the immigrant areas look like a real war zone), and all the actors are well-cast and perform very well.

I would like to now congratulate myself on creating the most link-heavy post of my short blogging career. I am awesome!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blog padding: A few quick thoughts on "Hannibal Rising"-- I'm conflicted

I just finished reading "Hannibal Rising," which was a fun book, although not as much fun as "Hannibal." But that isn’t really fair: "Hannibal" might be the most entertaining book of the 00s.

"Hannibal Rising" is basically the "origin" of Hannibal Lecter, and it can't be much more than 70,000 words, tops, but that’s somewhat misleading since the entire novel can be distilled down to these 14 words on page 159: "He is growing and changing, or perhaps emerging as what he ever has been." Harris doesn't ascribe this description of Hannibal to any character; instead he has the narrator say it, which means we can take it as authoritative. And yet, it's equivocal. Why do you suppose that is? Because Harris doesn't know? Doesn't care?

It’s hard to say if he does. "Hannibal" was his authoritative take on the character; "Hannibal Rising" is basically just an entertaining addendum, or perhaps footnote, to that book, probably written more as an exercise. When Harris has a character say "Are you looking for sympathy? You'll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis" in the middle of a climactic scene on page 277, I think he's offering his own commentary on the book, and the idea of an "origin" for Hannibal. But all good heroes need an origin, right?

The reaction to the book has been interesting. Most of the reviews I've seen have been negative. But then, I read a lot of negative reviews of "Hannibal," too. Check out the amazon pages for each book; the main knock against them is that Hannibal isn't the same as he was in "Red Dragon" and "The Silence of the Lambs." Of course he isn't! He was incarcerated in those two books! He was a different person. RD and TSOTL were completely different- those two were horror novels, while H and HR are literary, using elements of horror, parody, satire, word games, allusions. I don't think "Hannibal" is as good as "Lolita", but Harris is a Nabokovian writer, and “Hannibal” was deeper and stranger than either of the previous books.

The thing to remember about Hannibal Lecter is that he is not a villain. Each novel had its own villain, while Lecter has either been immobilized and unable to act out (and therefore used as a resource for the protagonists), or he's attacked people only to escape, exact revenge, or to punish someone's poor taste (but he would argue that's a form of self-preservation).

I'm surprised it's taken people so long to figure this out. Hannibal is the HERO, which is probably why (if he had any reason at all), Harris wrote "Hannibal Rising." There's really no way to see Hannibal as anything other than the hero in this book. He kills to get revenge for his murdered (and cannibalized) sister. And his uncle.

The main problem with "Hannibal Rising" can be summed up with one word: “Dexter.” Jeff Lindsay, the author of the Dexter novels, took Hannibal Lecter and burdened him with a step father who teaches him to channel his murderous impulses toward “good,” killing only those people who “deserve” to die. In genre fiction, the idea tends to be more important than the presentation, so superficially at least it seems that “Hannibal Rising” is a couple of years too late, but only if you look at it as a horror novel.

I would have liked “Hannibal Rising” more if Harris had tried to outdo the outrageous final scenes from “Hannibal,” although I don’t know how you top the ending of that book. But then again, that might not have been true to the character.

For now, I’m looking forward to season two of “Dexter.”

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The legal status of the super villain



This is Joker's way of justifying his plan to steal a "priceless display of porceline clown figurines" at the Star City Museum in issue 4 of "Joker."

Joker rules.

Monday, December 18, 2006

This one starts out as a shill for a friend's books, but then turns into blatant self promotion

My friend Chris Wisnia has a blog detailing the exciting, roller coaster life of the self-publisher. Ricky Sprague completists (come on, there are a few of you out there) might want to purchase Chris' awesome "giant monster" book (which features an introduction by yours truly), before my own comic hits the stands and becomes a huge hit, and Chris jacks up the price to Mile High levels.

For that matter, all of Chris' stuff is recommended.

By the way, the artwork for my new comic is coming in fast now, and it's so beautiful it will make your soul ache. The artists we've got lined up are fresh and exciting, with some really detailed elaborate stuff. The unbelievable first issue will ship in March, which means there'll be a solicitation soon, and I'll stop being so coy about it.

And the solicitation copy is awesome, too.

So very true


Scanned from Wonder Woman Archives Volume 3

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dirque the Snow Shoveller Part One


For our friends and relatives in the midwest who are now dealing with unseasonably warm weather.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ricky Sprague Vs. Casanova

This is NOT me, unfortunately. It's another guy, who wrestles under the rather intimidating name of "Ricky Sprague."

My Job Interview Comic


This comic is not based on a true story.

Two Unfortunate but highly amusing panels

To put these panels in context, the Elongated Man (who, I believe, got his super powers from a secret soft drink ingredient) has been captured by the nefarious Bredans and turned into a kota. As a result, he's forgotten he's the Elongated Man, and can stretch his body to incredible length. The Flash, as quick of wit as of foot, decides to tickle him in order to "jog" his memory.



That second panel is ovbiously flawed in many ways, from the unfortunate placement of Elongated Man's body to the fact that a major A-list superhero is tickling a C-lister -- but I think it's use of the word "titillating" that's the most troublesome aspect. (Scanned from The Flash Archives Volume 3)

Saturday, December 9, 2006

This is the comic that gives the blog its name:

The Best Comic Book of the 1970s?


The Ochinaut, largely forgotten today, gets my vote for the greatest comic book of the 1970s. The debut issue, published in 1976, set the premise: A man who can't achieve sexual climax is shrunk to microscopic size and injected into his recently-removed testicles. There, he encounters his own rebellious sperm, and must bring them under control. The story was exciting, the artwork astonishing, the concept unbelievable. What a great comic book!

Check out this not safe for work site for more!