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  • feedwordpress 08:01:33 on 2018/10/08 Permalink
    Tags: American Splendor, , Comics, Harvey Pekar, , , , post office, , ,   

    “It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work”*… 

     

    faulknermail

    In 1921, 24-year-old William Faulkner had dropped out of the University of Mississippi (for the second time) and was living in Greenwich Village, working in a bookstore—but he was getting restless. Eventually, his mentor, Phil Stone, an Oxford attorney, arranged for him to be appointed postmaster at the school he had only recently left. He was paid a salary of $1,700 in 1922 and $1,800 in the following years, but it’s unclear how he came by that raise, because by all accounts he was uniquely terrible at his job. “I forced Bill to take the job over his own declination and refusal,” Stone said later, according to David Minter’s biography. “He made the damndest postmaster the world has ever seen.”

    Faulkner would open and close the office whenever he felt like it, he would read other people’s magazines, he would throw out any mail he thought unimportant, he would play cards with his friends or write in the back while patrons waited out front. A comic in the student publication Ole Miss in 1922 showed a picture of Faulkner and the post office, calling it the “Postgraduate Club. Hours: 11:30 to 12:30 every Wednesday. Motto: Never put the mail up on time. Aim: Develop postmasters out of fifty students every year.”…

    Happily, he had other talents. The curious story in its entirety: “William Faulkner was really bad at being a postman.”

    For a more successful literary postman, consider Anthony Trollope or Benjamin Franklin.

    * William Faulkner

    ###

    As we ponder the post, we might send grudging birthday greetings to Harvey Pekar; he was born on this date in 1939.  Frequently called “the poet laureate of Cleveland,” he was an underground comic book writer, music critic, and media personality,  best known for his autobiographical American Splendor comic series, drawn by R. Crumb and a series of other extraordinary artists, and for the 2003 film adaptation it inspired.

    Pekar source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:18 on 2018/09/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , Comics, Gertie the Dinosaur, , Little Nemo, , , , , Winsor McCay   

    “There will be time, there will be time”*… 

     

    Infinity-Time1

    Poets often think of time as a river, a free-flowing stream that carries us from the radiant morning of birth to the golden twilight of old age. It is the span that separates the delicate bud of spring from the lush flower of summer.

    Physicists think of time in somewhat more practical terms. For them, time is a means of measuring change—an endless series of instants that, strung together like beads, turn an uncertain future into the present and the present into a definite past. The very concept of time allows researchers to calculate when a comet will round the sun or how a signal traverses a silicon chip. Each step in time provides a peek at the evolution of nature’s myriad phenomena.

    In other words, time is a tool. In fact, it was the first scientific tool. Time can now be sliced into slivers as thin as one ten-trillionth of a second. But what is being sliced? Unlike mass and distance, time cannot be perceived by our physical senses. We don’t see, hear, smell, touch, or taste time. And yet we somehow measure it. As a cadre of theorists attempt to extend and refine the general theory of relativity, Einstein’s momentous law of gravitation, they have a problem with time. A big problem…

    The crisis inside the physics of time: “Is It Time to Get Rid of Time?

    See also: “Forget everything you know about time.”

    [image above: source]

    * T. S. Eliot

    ###

    As we check our watches, we might say a grateful Happy Birthday to Winsor McCay, the cartoonist and animator, who was born on this date in 1867.  His two best-known creations are the pioneering comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, which ran from 1905 to 1914, and the animated cartoon Gertie the Dinosaur (1914),which set the standard for animators for decades to come.

    Little Nemo… for a more legible image, click here

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:04 on 2018/09/17 Permalink
    Tags: , Comics, , , Pogo, , , Walt Kelly   

    “Having lost sight of our objectives, we redoubled our efforts”*… 

     

    pogo_comic_1050x700

    During the 1950s, Walt Kelly created the most popular comic strip in the United States. His strip was about an opossum named Pogo and his swamp-dwelling friends. It was also the most controversial and censored of its time. Long before Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury blurred the lines between the funny pages and the editorial pages, Kelly’s mix of satiric wordplay, slapstick, and appearances by Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev, J. Edgar Hoover, and the John Birch Society, all in animal form, stirred up the censors.

    Taking place in a mythic Okefenokee Swamp, Pogo satirized the human condition as well as McCarthyism, communism, segregation, and, eventually, the Vietnam War. The strip is probably best remembered today for Pogo’s environmentalist’s lament, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    Pogo was syndicated from 1949-1975, reaching its peak readership of about 37 million readers in the mid-1950s, when it was carried by 450 newspapers. The strip’s popularity put editors and publishers opposed to Kelly’s content in a pickle…

    A story of sly satire: “The Most Controversial Comic Strip.”

    * Walt Kelly

    ###

    As we agree with Pogo’s friend Porky Pine “Don’t take life so serious, son, it ain’t nohow permanent,” we might recall that on this date in 1859, Norton I distributed letters to the newspapers of San Francisco proclaiming himself Emperor of North America…

    At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.

    – NORTON I, Emperor of the United States.

    180px-Emperor_Joshua_A._Norton_I

    source

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2018/06/16 Permalink
    Tags: , Comics, , , , , ,   

    “Classics are books which, the more we think we know them through hearsay, the more original, unexpected, and innovative we find them when we actually read them”*… 

     

    Highly efficient summaries from Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read but Probably Didn’t by John Atkinson. Not recommended for use in study…

    More samples at: “Literary classics retold as two-panel comics

    * Italo Calvino

    ###

    As we ponder the précis, we might recall that today– and every June 16– is Bloomsday.  a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce, during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived: Leopold Bloom goes about Dublin, James Joyce’s immortalization of his first outing with Nora Barnacle, the woman who would eventually become his wife.

    The first Bloomsday was observed on the 50th anniversary of the events in the novel, in 1954, when John Ryan (artist, critic, publican and founder of Envoy magazine) and the novelist Brian O’Nolan organized what was to be a daylong pilgrimage along the Ulysses route. They were joined by Patrick Kavanagh, Anthony Cronin, Tom Joyce (a dentist who, as Joyce’s cousin, represented the family interest), and AJ Leventhal (a lecturer in French at Trinity College, Dublin).

    The crew for the first Bloomsday excursion

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:33 on 2018/05/26 Permalink
    Tags: , Comics, , DC Universe, Elongated Man, , Justice League, Ralph Dibney, The Angriest Dog in the World,   

    “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless”*… 

     

    It was hiding in plain sight, and yet it was almost designed not to be noticed at all. For several years from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, an experimental four-panel comic strip conceived and written by David Lynch ran in a handful of alt-weeklies under the title “The Angriest Dog in the World.” If you were the type of person who might have been flipping through the Los Angeles Reader or the New York Press or Creative Loafing or the Baltimore City Paper around 1987, you surely remember the peculiarly unfunny strip with the never-changing image of a tiny, spermatozoa-esque pooch straining at his lead in which the deadpan resolution was almost always a transitional nighttime image of the same godforsaken yard.

    It is said that Lynch came up with the idea for the strip during the long gestation period for Eraserhead in the early to mid-1970s, but it was only after the prominent releases of The Elephant Man and Dune that Lynch was able to convince anyone to run the strip. James Vowell, founding editor of the L.A. Reader, was the first publisher to bite. Vowell told SPIN in 1990 that Lynch drew the template for the strip a single time and sent it on, and after that it was the task of David Hwang, the alt-weekly’s art director, to receive the dialogue for each new installment from Lynch himself or Lynch’s assistant Debbie Trutnik, and draw the new dialogue on a piece of wax paper that was then superimposed over the strip’s template…

    More of the story– and more (and larger) examples of the strip– at “David Lynch’s memorably pointless comic strip “The Angriest Dog in the World.”

    * Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg

    ###

    As we reconsider the ridiculous, we might send malleable birthday greetings to Randolph “Ralph” Dibny; he was born on this date.  Better known as “Elongated Man,” Dibney is a superhero in the D.C. Universe, a member of three incarnations of The Justice League.  A former police detective of the Central City Police Department, he gained his powers due to exposure to dark matter from the Speed Force.

    Dibny was one of the earliest Silver Age DC heroes to reveal his secret identity to the public, and also one of the first to marry his love interest, Sue.  After teaming up with several other superheroes including Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Zatanna and the Justice League of America, he became a member of the team; eventually, his wife became a member as well.  The couple was notable for having a stable, happy, and relatively trouble-free marriage—an anomaly in the soap-operatic annals of super hero comic books.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:27 on 2018/04/04 Permalink
    Tags: Belfry, , Comics, , , , , , , web comics   

    “In comics, we’re all weird together”*… 

     

    Your correspondent is heading out into the middle of the Pacific for about 10 days, so (Roughly) Daily will be on hiatus.  Regular service should resume on or around April 14…

    To keep readers occupied in the meantime, via the ever-illuminating Warren Ellis, “this extremely 1998 webcomics index page.”

    * G. Willow Wilson

    ###

    As we dig for treasure (of which, there’s plenty), we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that CBS Records UK began distributing the eponymously-titled first album from The Clash.  (It was officially released four days later.)  Featuring such anthems as “White Riot,” “Police & Thieves,” and “London’s Burning,” it is widely regarded as one of the greatest punk recordings of all time, and ranks high on essentially every “best album” list.

    Deeming the material “not radio friendly,” CBS in the US refused to release it until 1979 (on their Epic label, but even then dropped some of the more virulent songs).  Meantime, Americans bought over 100,000 imported copies of “The Clash”, making it the best-selling import album of all time in the U.S.

    Cover of the UK release

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:29 on 2018/03/10 Permalink
    Tags: Comics, , Hamlet, Hamlet: Prince of Pigs, , , Richard O'Brien, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Sarah Boxer, ,   

    “A little more than kin, and less than kind”*… 

     

    Sarah Boxer explains:

    What, another Hamlet? There must be a zillion already: Slang HamletFirst Folio HamletCompressed HamletNo Fear Hamlet. Into this field, I toss Hamlet: Prince of Pigs, a Tragicomic. Why a comic? Because comics and plays are twin arts. Both use visual cues as much as words. Both have abrupt breaks between scenes. And their words are mostly dialogue.

    Why a pig? In the name “Hamlet,” I hear little ham, little pig. And the pig pun fits! In Shakespeare’s day, if you wanted to mock the king, you’d put on a pig mask. The “swine-snouted king” was a stock figure of fun.

    Once Hamlet’s species was set, I hewed to a one-family, one-species rule for the rest of the cast. Thus Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, the murderer, “the bloat king,” is a big fat pig. Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, is a pig with lipstick. Ophelia is a cat because cats don’t do well in water. So her father, Polonius, and her brother, Laertes, are cats, too. For minor characters, I followed a one-profession, one-species rule. Gravediggers are dogs because dogs are excellent diggers. The players are mice because their play is “The Mousetrap.” The sentries, including Horatio, are rats because, well, rats look handsome in helmets.

    You’ll see that Hamlet: Prince of Pigs has been stripped of all fat. And tragedy minus many words is comedy. A pared-down Hamlet is a funny Hamlet

    Sample her work at “Hamlet, My Prince of Pigs“; dive into the full comic here.

    * Hamlet (on Claudius); Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2

    ###

    As we wonder what’s behind the arras, we might recall that it was on this date in 1975 that The Rocky Horror Picture Show opened on Broadway.  An import from London (where it ran from 1973 to 1980), it bewildered critics and theater-goers in New York, where it ran through only its three previews and 45 performances (despite being nominated for a Tony and for three Drama Desk awards).  Broadway cast members Tim Curry, Meat Loaf, and Richard O’Brien (who also wrote the book and composed the score for the show) went on to star in the film version, released later that same year– which became, of course, one of the most successful cult classics of all-time.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:50 on 2018/01/05 Permalink
    Tags: characters, , Comics, , gender representation, Gilbert and Sullivan, Pricess Ida, representation, , Women's Studies   

    “Be careful of Mankind; they do not deserve you”*… 

     

    The recent theatrical release of Wonder Woman briefly catapulted the question of female superhero representation into the mainstream. For some, the character is a feminist icon — even Gloria Steinem wrote about her — and many fans (though not all) felt this wasn’t just another superhero movie, but rather a pivotal moment in the portrayal of women in popular culture.

    Why all the fuss? Well, the truth is that the comics industry has had a complicated relationship with female characters. They are often hyper-sexualizedunnecessarily brutalizedstereotyped, and used as tokens. They’re also rare. Only 26.7 percent of all DC and Marvel characters are female, and only 12 percent of mainstream superhero comics have female protagonists.

    I decided to look beyond the gender ratio to see if we could learn more about how females are represented. Using characters from DC and Marvel in the ComicVine database, I analyzed naming conventions, types of superpowers, and the composition of teams to see how male and female genders are portrayed…

    Amanda Shendruk dives deeply into the canon: “Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters.”

    For a(n encouraging) look beyond the borders of the DC-Marvel dupopoly, see also “Women in comics and the tricky art of equality.”

    * Hippolyta, to her daughter Diana (Wonder Woman)

    ###

    As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884, at the Savoy Theatre in London, that composer Sir Arthur Sullivan and librettist W. S. Gilbert premiered the eighth of their fourteen comic operatic collaborations, Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant, an amusing parody of Tennyson’s “Princess.”   Though still regularly performed today, Princess Ida wasn’t considered a success in its time– at least in part because an uncommonly hot summer in 1884 kept audiences away, and shortened its run.

    Hilarion, Cyril and Florian on their knees to Princess Ida, by “Bab” (W.S. Gilbert)

    source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:22 on 2017/07/24 Permalink
    Tags: Arthur Yorinks, , , Colleen Doran, , Comics, graphic novels, , Maurice Sendak, Presto and Zesto in Limboland,   

    “Childhood is a very, very tricky business”*… 

     

    Picture from Presto and Zesto in Limboland, ©2017 by the Maurice Sendak Foundation.

    Lynn Caponera, president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation, was going through the late artist’s files last year “to see what could be discarded,” she said. “I was asking myself, do we really need all these?” when she found a typewritten manuscript titled Presto and Zesto in Limboland, co-authored by Sendak and his frequent collaborator, Arthur Yorinks. Caponera, who managed Sendak’s household for decades, didn’t remember the two friends working on a text with that title, so she scanned the manuscript and e-mailed it to Michael di Capua, Sendak’s longtime editor and publisher.

    “I read it in disbelief,” said di Capua. “What a miracle to find this buried treasure in the archives. To think something as good as this has been lying around there gathering dust.”

    Not only is the manuscript complete, so, too, are the illustrations. Sendak created them in 1990 to accompany a London Symphony Orchestra performance of Leoš Janáček’s Rikadla, a 1927 composition that set a series of nonsense Czech nursery rhymes to music.

    Voila! So it is that Sendak, considered by many to be the most influential picture book creator of the 20th century, will have another publication in the 21st, five years after his death…

    Happy endings at: “New Maurice Sendak Picture Book Discovered.”

    * Maurice Sendak

    ###

    As we go Where the Wild Things Are, we might send powerfully-drawn birthday greetings to Colleen Doran; she was born on this date in 1964.  A write, artist, illustrator, and cartoonist, she has illustrated hundreds of comics, graphic novels, books and magazines. She has illustrated the works of Neil Gaiman (her drawings and adaptation of his “Troll Bridge” was a New York Times bestseller), Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Joe R. Lansdale, Anne Rice, J. Michael Straczynski, Peter David, and Tori Amos; her credits include: The Sandman, Wonder WomanLegion of SuperheroesTeen TitansThe Vampire Diaries comics, Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and her space opera series, A Distant Soil… for which she has received Eisner, Harvey, and International Horror Guild Awards.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:38 on 2017/02/18 Permalink
    Tags: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Comics, , , , , , ,   

    “If I had to choose a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He’s everything that I’m not.*… 

     

    The images that pop up in most people’s heads when they think about superheroes can be traced back to the 1938 debut of Superman and the genre evolution that followed. But it’s possible to go back even further, connecting the Hulk to the ancient epic poem of Gilgamesh, and Batman to 17th Century cross-dressing crimefighter Moll Cutpurse…

     Heroic history at: “How Ancient Legends Gave Birth to Modern Superheroes.”

    * Stephen Hawking

    ###

    As we investigate our icons, we might recall that it was on this date in 1885 that Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in the U.S.   Considered by many to be the Great American Novel, Huckleberry Finn has been controversial from it birth (e.g., here and here)– indeed, the controversy began before its birth:  The UK and Canadian edition came out two months earlier; the U.S. version was delayed because one of the engravers added an obscenity to one of the illustrations: on p. 283, an illustration of Aunt Sally and Silas Phelps was augmented by the addition of a penis.  Thirty thousand copies of the book had been printed before the unwanted addition was discovered.  A new plate was made to correct the illustration and repair the existing copies; still, copies with the so-called “curved fly” plate remain valuable collectors items.

    Huck, as drawn by E. W. Kemble for the original edition of the book

    source

     
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