Friday, June 27, 2003
I have nothing to write about today. Sorry. I do suggest you take part of the most important legislation ever devised and go on over to the Federal Trade Commission's web-site. They've instituted the government's plan to create "do not call" list for telemarketers.
I suggest that if you're looking for a good read today, you try your local paper.
RHPT.com was nice enough (either that or he has evil, evil plans in the works) to assign this link to The League. What will this mean for The League? I don't know. Keep tuning in to watch the slow dissolution of my site into one celebrating my nakedness.
9:50 AM |
Just when you think there's nothing to navel gaze about...
Toys That Should Not Be is a segment dedicated to toys which I find on an Action Figure website. I don't just collect comics ad infinitum, I also likes me the Superman and Batman toys. And I like to make fun of other people for having similar interests.
What you may not know is that there are a LOT of toys produced for the adult collector these days. In other words, I ASSUME that these are going to adults, and that they are being collected and not played with. But I may be wrong. But TTSNB is more of a Zen thing which requires an example more than an explanation. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Perfect Body Figures from a company called, I think, Cy-Girls.
You know, I have often fantasized about women with 8 points of articulation and weird, poofy hair. Karate chop fingers and grotesquely hinged knee joints are a big turn on. I think it should have been a clue to these doll makers that something was hooribly wrong when these figures were unable to stand upright due to their curiously oversized heads and bosoms. It should have also been a clue to these doll makers that something was wrong when they started making dolls to have sexual fantasies about. But I digress and pass judgement.
In addition to these anonymous, mis-shapen lovelies, there are more than one line of figures portraying Adult Superstars (I think one is called Adult Superstars) which portrays porn stars as tiny six inch figures. Freud would be going apeshit over all of this, to be sure. For example, here is Jenna Jameson. Word on the street is that laser scan of the actual porn star is done to get these figures "accurate".
The article about 6 inch Jenna is tucked into the main page right between an article on a Friday the 13th Jason Doll and a Harry Potter Dueling Malfoy toy. A little something for everyone.
This option may be cold comfort as you turn 27, but it does give you plenty of exposure to pornography and will ensure that in 100 generations, we'll all have a little Randy in us.
11:27 AM |
A look at the comic convention scene (something I haven't seen since I was but a wee lad going to hotel ballrooms all over Austin, Texas. My mother is a saint for driving me. She never complained, not once.)
A site recommended to me by Jeff C. Shoemaker. It's a fairly good read, I think, but the usual insanity inherent in sites dedicated to comics froths over. When I read reviews of Superman which slip into personal anecdotes about Superman replacing one's estranged Dad, I decide that some objectivity has been lost and I'm not sure I want to add this into the links section of The League.
And Jim sent me this link for a job at Los Alamos. If you read between the lines it becomes pretty clear that the job is to be a spin doctor at a nuclear laboratory. "Uh... Dr. Banner is recovering just fine... just fine..."
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
During my late-college/ post-college years I was pretty good friends with some guys in a band in Austin. Wow. Who isn't? Well, summer of 2000 these guys picked up and decided to move to Seattle so the band could slowly disintegrate in a more hospitable climate. I doubt anyone from Austin would remember the band, but they got good notices while it lasted and they did some seriously overly-indulgent space/ prog rock under the name Maximum Coherence During Flying.
We were all kind of into sci-fi and pulp and comics and whatnot, and so it was a year or two after their flight to the Pacific Northwest that I got a call from Bryan Manzo, guitarist/ saxophonist/ composer for MaxCo who had come upon an idea. He was going to work with Michael (My) Young to write a rock opera, and I was going to draw a series of comic books that would illustrate the story.
You kids who don't follow comics don't know this, but getting into the comics industry is about as easy and much fun as getting your head out from the bannister rails. Even compared to film and television, comics is cut-throat crazy competitive. Virtually every 20+ who reads comics wants to get into the field, and I am no different. But drawing comics is really, really time intensive. Let alone also inking the pages. Especially when you've doodled a lot but never really done anything that formal before.
But the problem was, there was no music and no story, just some characters and a title: A Spy Named Lonely.
So I had four characters who were supposed to be pulpy as pulp can get: The Tin-Man (a robot), the Falcon (a private eye), Lonely (a beautiful spy), and Dr. Archibald Nemesis (a despotic tyrant). I drew some pre-lims and sent them up to Seattle where I pretty much got the thumbs-up, and was told to do some more pre-lims based on a paragraph of notes, and wait for the music. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And about a year later, Bryan, who is a whole lot of fun when he's on the upside of that Manic Depressive thing, caught me with some weird, weird information.
Bryan's girlfriend somehow knew someone who knew Karen Berger. Karen Berger is the editor supreme of Vertigo comics. She's the woman who launched 10 years of mind-altering insanity within the prickly confines of DC Comics, a feat thought almost unimaginable until Hellblazer, Shade, Sandman and Swamp Thing proved comics could do a lot more than leap over tall buildings is a single bound. We had until August to get a package together.
And so suddenly I was drawing. I had an MP3 Bryan and My had sent me and it was February and everything was cool. I would do ten or twelve pages, we would show them penciled and inked and be able to say "AND THERE'S A FULL ALBUM THAT GOES WITH THIS!!!"
So in March, after six or seven months of experiencing the post dot.bomb blues, Jamie landed a job in Phoenix. And then I got the call from Bryan. "Oh, my God, dude. My girlfriend's friend is flying down to Australia to meet the guys who did the Matrix and she wants to bring a portfolio and pitch them Tinman and Falcon."
"Yeah. She thinks they'd love it."
"This is dumb. You guys need a better artist."
"No way. We have to have it in two weeks."
"I still haven't heard the music or read a real synopsis."
So, I drew what I could. And in this same time, my wife was packing her belongings and moving to Phoenix where I was to be joining her June 1, 2002. Needless to say, I was distracted. That, and I did have a job. And a house to pack. But I drew. And I kissed Jamie good-bye.
And then the record showed up as a couple of burned CDs that were only partially mixed, and alone in my cardboard enclosed house, I listened to it, and I realized I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 drawings to do, ink, scan and send in within a few days. Plus a job. But at least I liked the music. So I sat down and finished I can't remember how many drawings in a much shorter span than I was comfortable with. But I scanned the drawings and sent them to Seattle.
And then Yoko stepped in. Bryan's girlfriend called me at work and told me that she didn't like the look of the Tin-Man, that she wanted something more like Robocop and could I redo everything, please? In three days. I said there was no way (and this wasn't just pride, trhere were serious time issues involved). She refused to relent, and then it occured to me that neither Bryan nor My had requested the changes, and I didn't know this chick, and she had called me five times in two days. So I quit.
Well, several frantic phonecalls later and I was back on board and the girlfriend was booted, but it was made clear she was glad I was far, far away. But we got what we needed, and off went the package and we never heard from anyone about it ever again.
The Karen Berger thing fizzled too, as Bryan and girl started having difficulties.
And one day the Tinman and Falcon web-site surfaced using almost none of the new art, and just the prelim sketches I knocked out in about two hours. I complained loudly, but the damage was done. My had spent several days on the animated intro, and he was not going to redo it. I could empathize.
But then, one night at 2:30am, My popped up on my AIM. "Hey dude. Brad Pitt digs T&F."
Apparently Bryan's newest lady friend was a former assistant to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, and they had remained chummy. So she sent them the Tinman and Falcon web-site.
But that was it. I did a handful of drawings, totaling around 11 or 12 for the series. None of them were ever posted, even after I sent some nice scans and forwarded them on to Seattle. But maybe it's just as well. As much as I loved working on the drawings, the rock opera was running around 80 minutes and WAS ONLY THE FIRST ACT. God knows how long this could have gone on.
But, the site is still up! So, I invite all of you to visit the site, listen to some of the tunes, and read the back story on the site. It was a lot of fun and would probably still be going on if Bryan and My hadn't joined an 80's electro-pop quartet that eats up most of their time. But, ah, fame is so fleeting. Brad, why didn't you call us? We could have made millions, bro! At least I didn't get a second mortgage on my house to make a documentary nobody is ever going to want to see. It just cost time and money for markers and pencils.
I ask that you understand that these were never intended to be final versions of the drawings on the T&F site, but I guess My liked them... these were rough, rough prelims. Hopefully one of you will convince them to post the finished works they do have in their possession. But I encourage everyone to click on "Music" and listen to the album. It's free and it's easy to do. And, yes, it is supposed to be this cheesy.
Fredrick Wertham was a psychiatrist who had worked at Bellevue Mental Hospital and had spent years studying patients with anti-social characteristics when he published "Seduction of the Innocent." The book caused a massive amount of hysteria, leading to discussions in the US Congress over the corrupting influence of comics on children, and led both directly and indirectly to the strange beast that the comic industry has become today. You'll note that even in the review I've linked to, the reviewer doesn't seem to think Wertham was all that far off base despite 50 years of evidence have proven him wrong.
I don't usually read "Unlearned Hand", but lawyer and comic philanthropist Jim D. forwarded me a posting from this legal site regarding a strange law that is on the books in California regarding EC Comics style horror comics.
My comments appear there as well as Jim D.'s.
I do suggest you take a look at this link to read up on an example of what can happen when good intentions lead to mass hysteria. Even within the comments, someone chooses to take a shot at the broadside of the barn and criticizes the merits of comics as literature. Sigh. Who Watches the Watchmen?
A bright spot of my week, in addition to seeing the Hulk, was the 2 hour special called Superheroes Unmasked on the History Channel. The show focuses on superhero comics and the people who made them. It looks at cultural relevance, both as an influence on pop culture, and how contemporary issues define the genre. Luminaries such as Dennis O'Neil, Steranko, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Paul Levitz and Michael Chabon participate in the discussion. While very little in the interviews was new to me, it was great to see some of these guys for the first time on video (for me, anyway).
The show does make no small potatos of Wertham's influence and how, even today, the industry is fighting against public perception issues caused by the hysteria. Check it out. It's a lot of fun. And it made me want to seek out as much 60's era Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD as I can find. And they did talk about King Kirby, but not enough, for my liking.
9:39 AM |
This was a clip from an e-mail conversation i had with Jim yesterday. He suggested I post it.
I am actually beginning to get a sneaking suspicion that I am a liberal. it's okay. Labels make me nervous, that's all. I am very conservative about some things, though. For instance, I refuse to use zippers and I wear buckles on my shoes and I think any girl who doesn't cover her ankles in public is a dirty, dirty harlot. 9:07 AM |
Monday, June 23, 2003
Someone posted this blog to the Hulk page on the IMDB sites. The League is suddenly popular. No longer are random visitors coming in looking for various naked celebrities. I have seen a marked increase in visits whenever I mention a celebrity. Most recent examples include Ron Perlman and Marcia Gay Harden.
I hope no one is getting their rocks off to this site, because that would upset Melbotis greatly. He wants to be respected for his mind, not just his body.
One thing I really dig about the Superman Homepage is that site coordinator Steve Younis has managed to get Superman Editor Supreme Eddie Berganza to participate. Once every month or so, Eddie responds to a few letters. Every month I send in something, just because. Well, this month my letter was picked, so I am Super excited! They no longer publish letter columns in the back of comics, so this is pretty much the equivalent.
Jim asked that I post my tale of how I tried, in my own way, to pull a Cool Hand Luke with the Univ. of Texas Police a few years ago when I was given a $20 parking citation. Well, the story isn't very good, but this story reminded me of the event.
Anyhoo, I received a ticket that, by all rights, I should have received as I had parked in a lot I had no permit for. At the time I was making less than $20K a year working for UT, and paying over $100 for a C-permit which DID NOT guarantee me a parking spot seemed steep. Anyway, I had to be at work and nobody was in the lot as it was winter break. Also, until the day before the UTPD had publicly stated they were not patrolling these lots, so anyone could park there.
SO... I parked there and I was easy pickings as one of maybe two dozen cars in the lot. Ticket was $20.00.
So I wrote a letter and refused to pay, pointing out there was no UT Jail (more on that later). Some grouch at the office wrote back a very nasty letter and told me that refusal to pay was going to mess SOMETHING up for me, but I can't remember what. I think I was going to get a warrant from the Austin PD as UT hands over it's tickets after a few months.
So I wrote a check for $19.99.
This illicited a negative response from the UTPD, but the idea was that they would spend all that time and money trying to collect on a single penny, and if you know UT collections, the actual sum has nothing to do with what they're trying to accomplish. No, the miserable wretches want you to know they own your ass.
They wrote me another nasty letter telling me that I owed a penny. I wrote them back and told them I thought I had paid a fair amount and I would genuinely appreciate it if they would quit harassing me. I also pointed out that even with metered mail, they were now losing money pursuing this. THey wrote me back saying that I owed a penny, and would I please pay.
Luckily, mi hermano es un attorney. It was at this point that I wrote them a letter and told them I paid what I thought fair, but if they wanted to pursue the $0.01, my attorney was happy to go to court. I left a name and phone number at which he could be reached (his boss's office). It was at this point that the $0.01 disappeared from my record.
It turns out there IS a UT jail. They have a cell or two somewhere on campus to hold folks drunk on campus, etc... I had no idea. One of my friends girlfriends got tossed in for a crime I'd rather not detail here.
UT also later ticketed me for parking at the conference center despite the fact I was at a conference at the center. The conversation I had on the phone with the troglodyte in collections was like a scene out of Catch-22.
"But I was at a conference!" "UT employees cannot park in the lot." "But people attending conferences park there." "Yes." "And I paid to attend." "Ok." "So I parked there." "UT employees cannot park in the lot." "But I was at a conference at the conference center." "Did you have your UT parking permit tag in your window?" "yes." "THen you cannot park in the lot." "So if I had taken my tag off, they would have left me alone?" "Yes." "That doesn't make sense." "You left your tag in the window. UT employees are not to park in the lot." "Why?" "Because UT employees are forbidden from parking in the lot." "I wasn't abusing the policy. I was legitimately at a conference. I have receipts I can FAX you." "So you were at a conference at the center?" "YES!" "UT employees aren't supposed to park there." Eventually I used the ultimate threat of asking to speak with her supervisor, so instead of that she reduced my ticket to a warning, which sent me off on a whole string of obscenities. "It wasn't illegal!" "Sir, i am doing you a favor!" But sometimes you pick your battles, and so I let that one go and paid nothing.
9:10 AM |
Sunday, June 22, 2003
By the way. I saw the Hulk this weekend. Definitely not a movie for everybody, but I really, really liked it.
Randy has posted citing that I took exception to his eyebrows. Not so. As a pudgy man, it is my duty to ensure that all feel good about themselves as they are. Randy, while I have never seen you, and have no inkling as to your appearance, I know that you are a beautiful person inside and out. So beautiful, in fact, that I am a bit jealous and it makes me think poorly of myself.
No matter what bickering may go on about such important issues as Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, Jim is not innately evil, he just acts that way.
Friday I returned from work and some minor boozing to discover a package for me. Jim Dedman has sent 27 lbs. of comics and various other sundries.
Jim's collection appears to be from the mid and late 80's, an era which I remember very, very fondly as much of what he sent me reflects the same era in which I got serious about collecting comics.
It's difficult to draw a profile of Jim from this collection. But one thing Jim seemed really interested in was The Crossover mini-series. The Cross-over mini-series was a great invention of the medium and allowed characters from 2 books to interact without interrupting the flow of the regular series. Neither character was forced to take a back seat, and there were often very good artists on these comics. So, you could see, say, Captain America and The Thing duke it out with Mysterio, or Spider-Ham enjoy a sandwhich with Mr. Fantastic. I really dug issue #1 of X-Men vs. Avengers when I was a kid, but was never able to locate the rest of the series... well guess what. Jim did. And now Jim's desire to rid himself of his childhood will fill in a blank spot in my psyche.
Other notables include: Star Wars final issue. Inidana Jones #1. Silver Surfer #1. Spider-Man gang war and some Batman: Lonely Place of Dying. All great stuff.
I think my arrangement with Jim is that the comics are to be preserved with mylar bags and acid-free boards, and boxed and categorized for posterity. It was very clear that nothing was to be sold or made a profit on. No problem. I am way to lazy to sell anything.
Anyway, Jim is a great guy, and I can't say enough about how great it is to have received this. I have photos which I will post later today...