Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hulk Puzzle

Every other Saturday is half-off day at my local Goodwill, and I scored this Hulk puzzle from '76 for a dollar. Good thing -- I don't know if I would've shelled out two.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Power Buys

Bodek and Rhodes is an apparel manufacturer that I order from at work, and their website this week boasted this promotional image:

Even superheroes have to order their uniforms from somewhere.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Masters of the Universe Classics Battle Cat

Earlier this week, I received my Masters of the Universe Classics Battle Cat from Mattel's He looks awesome, though I would've dug a swappable Cringer head, too. I haven't opened any of these figures, so I can't give Mattel's first MOTUC beast a really accurate review -- I can, however, offer this supplemental picture of my brother and me opening an inflatable Battle Cat from Back in the Day.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ghostbusters Slimer Sours

On the heels of yesterday's review of IDW's Ghostbusters: Tainted Love -- I'm always wary when I see prominent merchandising for a franchise long gone. Sure, this year is the 25th anniversary of the original Ghostbusters film, but its distinct logo has been everywhere lately, including here, in mint tin form at Atomic Comics in Chandler, Arizona. Some Smurfs merch was at Target over the holidays, too . . . which confirms thoughts that Hollywood would love to put these properties on the silver screen sometime soon, and they're simply priming the public with good old fashioned brand recognition. Indeed, before Spider-man 3 was confirmed, dollar store Spider-man stickers suddenly included the Sandman, introducing the villain to kids in all of his adhesive glory. So, expect to see your favorite paranormal investigators and those little blue mushroom-dwellers in a theater near you sometime soon . . . and when you see some random Snorkels nightlights at the Target One Spot, now you know why.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ghostbusters' Winston Zeddemore: I'm Ready to Believe Him

Ghostbusters: Tainted Love, published by IDW Publishing, by Dana Naraghi, Salgood Sam, & Bernie Mireault

IDW Publishing is the best thing to happen to the Ghostbusters franchise in a long time. Amidst rumors of a third Ghostbusters film, IDW is already producing new stories starring everyone's favorite paranormal investigators, and this month's Ghostbusters: Tainted Love is the perfect example of how a franchise twenty-five years old can remain entertaining and viable when respected for its original wit. Further, while this one-shot exploits Valentine's Day as a backdrop, February is also Black History Month, and appropriately this issue shines a worthy light on one of pop culture's most underrated black characters ever: Winston Zeddemore.

See, while the three founding Ghostbusters each represent part of the dynamic that makes their story so compelling -- from Egon's deadpan intelligence, to Ray's paranormal passion, to Peter's horny humor -- Winston is the common man. Never mind that he's black; he's blue collar, and that's what makes him the every man even among resurrected demon dogs or medieval murals of animated madmen. He's seen the stuff that'll turn you white, and he hasn't changed a bit, still steadfast as the voice of reason, the regular guy that, if there's a paycheck in it, he'll do anything you say. That he is black is a testament to his culture; he's a hard-working man on a predominantly white team, and perhaps the most invested, considering his initial lack of experience in the paranormal. Remember, Winston knows his Bible. More than Egon and Ray's scientific know-how, more than Peter's detached sarcasm, Winston sees the big picture and he knows how to cope.

Ghostbusters: Tainted Love is the definitive Zeddemore story, as Winston befriends a substitute teacher suffering from a haunting at home, the result of a broken heart decades removed. Winston asks Egon to devise a way to avoid their usual collateral damage, but his new light-weight proton packs don't pack the punch the Ghostbusters need to handle such an experienced apparition -- so Winston talks to it. More so than any innovation in ghost-busting, Winston's ability to talk man-to-(former)man with the ghost transcends into the spectral plane and defeats the ghoul the old-fashioned way: by giving it some peace. In the end, Winston gets the girl, but more importantly he gets the respect he's deserved from the very beginning, when he first answered that help wanted ad in the paper.

Artistically, Tainted Love takes a step away from IDW's other Ghostbusters offerings, and I like it, as Salgood Sam's stuff reminds me of Jim Rugg's or Farel Dalrymple's work. His Venkman is my favorite yet, all wild-haired and sheepish smirks, until he's slimed, anyway. Colorist Bernie Mireault does a great job turning Sam's pencils into nice colorful effects, too. Further, writer Dara Naraghi gives us Ghostbusters fans everything we want in this single issue tale, from a worthy villain, to Peter's worldliness having value, to Egon and Ray spending a Valentine's Day with their true love -- science -- to all of the Winston goodness I mentioned earlier.

Finally, I'd say this story is a ghost of this franchise's past, if it wasn't so indicative of a more promising future. Keep it coming, IDW. When I want a good Ghostbusters story, I know who to call.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We Are All Doomed

I just took in the animated short films that have been nominated for the Oscar at Tempe's Valley Art Harkins Theater, and while Logorama is by far the most daring, Poland's The Kinematograph is the most emotionally compelling. Most of these short films exploit death to elicit an emotional response, but The Kinematograph actually retains an universal life lesson, as well -- with an allegorical homage to the power of film itself.

This Dr. Doom adorned Phoenix New Times stand greets attendees outside of that particular movie theater, one of the successful entries from the paper's decorate-a-stand contest this year. Its inscription parallels the animated shorts' shared, consistent theme: we're all doomed. Yet, if your life is an animated one, it might be worth it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Masters of the Universe Classics Man-at-Arms

My Masters of the Universe Classics Man-at-Arms arrived yesterday from Mattel's packaging department uses scraps of art from the original Masters of the Universe toy line to accentuate their characters' bios, reminding me of when purchasing an action figure was an event. As a kid, I always soaked up the art on the package, read the characters' history on the back of the box (often on a cut-'n-collect trading card), and, once I opened the figure, read the comic that came with it -- all before cracking the toy's joints. Now, you're lucky if the preview images of other figures in that line are large enough to look at, considering the legalese that clutters any toy's packaging nowadays. At least Mattel remembers its roots, and though these figures are 400% more than what my parents paid for them back in the day, at least they're still giving me at least 75% of the experience. Now, if only I opened and played with them . . .

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods, Steampunk Art, and Remembering Batman

A quick rundown of My Life in Comics, the past twenty-four hours:

Steampunk at ArtSpace

My girlfriend and I went to a steampunk art exhibit at ArtSpace in Scottsdale, where we saw cool faux weapons like this by Ed Schenck, and other images of mankind's potential metalpocalypse:

My girlfriend was picture-happy, so more images to come (with her permission, of course).

Remembering Batman

Upon spotting the Justice League Unlimited Batman action figure on my desk, a coworker excitedly recounted the memory of winning a contest when she was five-years-old and watching a show in Mexico, where Batman and Robin descended live from a helicopter. The light in her eyes as she remembered seeing the heroes in real life was brighter than any Bat-signal could be.

Tiger's Wood

Finally, I drew this comic strip last night/this morning to commemorate Tiger Woods' press conference.

This strip is one of five "Versus Current Events" I've drawn over the past year or so. Check out the rest here.

So, I sought the influence of comic book culture, and listened to it come to me, and made a little of my own in the last twenty-four hours. Where was your comic a day?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Paul Pope's Car Crash

Car Crash by Paul Pope, lettered by Gary Kato (published in Oni Double Feature #2-3)

Boy meets girl. Boy gets in car crash. When you strip everything else away from Paul Pope's Car Crash, that's the body of the tale -- but, trust me, you don't want to strip anything away. You want every painstakingly water-colored panel, every dancing dark shadow stain, every emotive thought that comes through Pope's ongoing inner monologue. See, I really just discovered the wonder that is Paul Pope. Frustrated with the countless crossovers plaguing my favorite superhero comics, I've begun looking elsewhere in the comics medium for entertainment, and I'm finding it in the works of Paul Pope and Mike Allred. Both obviously appreciate comics' campy roots (see their respective Solo issues from DC Comics), but Pope takes the autobio trend to the next level in this brief tale of love, lust, recklessness, and regret. Car Crash is both transcendent and down to earth, both epic and mundane. Frankly, that he trusts us with this part of his life is an honor. I guess that's what comics are all about -- from the mainstream superhero books on the rack alongside indies like this, to stories ripped from personal experience, it's all about sharing . . . finding a meaningful collision.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Superheroes Tees Galore

Wal-Mart has a large variety of superhero T-shirts, so even the non-comics reader can buy and proudly wear a power-mad Hal Jordan. The question is, would they? Dig that foil-embossed application, too! Now that I'm in the professional apparel business, I can appreciate the innovation . . . and speaking of which, we've made a few steps forward ourselves (YouTube "QR barcode embroidery"). I guess we're all mad sometimes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too Fat to Fly

Kevin Smith's debacle with Southwest Airlines doesn't involve comic books directly, but in this context Smith's well established love of and contributions to the comics industry beg the question, "Are all fanboys just fat, embittered slobs?" The Simpsons have succeeded in painting that picture for a mainstream audience with Comic Book Guy, but is it true? My average build proves otherwise . . . but when I look at my ever expanding collection, my obsessive need to visit the Target toy aisle every time I'm running errands, heck, this blog and its pining for at least a comic a day -- I see I'm gluttonous in other ways. I'm cool with that, because, like the brilliant Kevin Smith, I'm comfortable in my own skin. I'll squeeze into my place in this world when I have to. We geeks are so grounded, we're all too fat to fly.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Four More Years . . . Or Just 15 Fifteen More Minutes?

The celebrity of Barack Obama during last year's Presidential election enticed the attention of the comic book industry more than any other real world event in history. While I persist that Erik Larsen first used Obama in Savage Dragon, rather naturally since his series has always been set in Chicago, so many other comics exploited the President-elect's likeness that the line between fantasy and reality became blurred -- and just Google old CNN headlines during the Amazing Spider-man cameo ruckus to prove it. Fortunately, DC Comics' avoidance of ties to reality dodged the Obama gravy train, but they still took advantage of the election to explore a corner of their universe oft untouched -- their heroes' politics.

In DC Universe Decisions, when the Justice League endeavors to protect Presidential candidates in the crosshairs of assassination, the media twists their varied public statements into endorsements for the election. The Green Arrow/Green Lantern dynamic established in the "hard travelling heroes" era propels the series, with Superman's tight-lipped perspective billed as a bigger mystery than the killer. In the end, little more is confirmed than the obvious -- that superheroes are both celebrities and vigilantes, so while their opinions are coveted, they're ineffective in their legal hypocrisy -- but at least it was entertaining to watch.

Wedged between Final Crisis and Blackest Night, Decisions hasn't carried much if any weight in the DC Universe, but its parallel to pop culture happenings is still important in our world as the line between politician and celebrity becomes more and more blurry. This Presidents' Day, as Obama still appears in comics if only now as a barbarian (thank you, Larry Hama), the question persists: Which is a more reliable Washington news source, CNN or TMZ? The decision really is yours.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

World's Finest Statues

Couples around the country are celebrating Valentine's Day this weekend by taking in a movie, and my galpal and I are no exception. Last night at the Pollack Theaters in Tempe, Arizona, we were on a double date . . . with the world's finest statues.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Chinese New Year!

My girlfriend and I went to a Chinese festival to celebrate tomorrow's New Year's Day, and I spotted this Spider-man balloon. Too bad it isn't the year of the arachnid!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weekly Haul: Batman and Robin #8

Batman and Robin #8, published by DC Comics, by Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart, Tony Avila, Jared K. Fletcher.

The snippet of exuberant conversation I overheard between two kids in the Target toy aisle became an inadvertent prologue to a train of thought I rode last night on the heels of reading Batman and Robin #8. In the second of a presumably three-part story arc, Dick Grayson fights his crazed resurrected mentor, or at least a clone thereof, after discovering the existence of and immersing "Batman's" rotting corpse in the last Lazarus Pit.

If you don't know, for the better part of a year, Dick Grayson, the first Robin, has been Batman, as Bruce Wayne was supposedly killed by Darkseid during DC Comics' latest cosmic crisis. Wayne's son, Damion, has become the latest Robin, and the dynamic between Batman's surrogate and biological children has been an interesting relationship to witness. Basically, both proteges are trying to out bad ass each other in transparent homage to their father, and while Dick has the experience, Damion has the blood, so it's hard to tell who wins. Ironically, in this latest issue, writer Grant Morrison unravels those leaps forward in character to betray just how much all of us need the Batman.

See, Dick Grayson has adopted the Batman mantle before -- back in the '90s, when Bane broke Bruce Wayne's back -- so this direction isn't new and different, at all. Damion is the wild card, as the constant reminder that Dick is only Bruce's adopted son, and now another prince is the eventual rightful heir to the throne. If only Grayson had some guts to be a headlining hero rather than a sidekick with big boots to fill; his years as the defiant Nightwing are practically undone in these two sequences from Batman and Robin #7 and #8, respectively, depicting Dick in grief.

Admittedly, DC Comics's core characters are founded on grief and tragedy, from the destruction of Superman's homeworld, to the murder of the Waynes, to countless other atrocities that made would-be heroes vow the pursuit of justice. Dick's recklessness in the face of mourning show how emotionally stunted DC's heroes are, how none of them can live with change (like so many of the geeks that love them, but continuity is a topic for another day). When he realizes that this Batman clone isn't his resurrected mentor, will he actually take the time to grieve, or instead find some miracle cure for the apparently temporary condition that is death?

In the meantime, just like that action figure at Target yesterday, no child can pick up this issue of Batman and Robin and find the Dark Knight they know from mainstream media, assuming that Batman is much more than a costume, anyway. What makes a good Batman? Is it his tireless pursuit for justice? Is it fighting skills and immeasurable smarts? Is it just perpetual brokenhearted youth? If so, then maybe Dick Grayson isn't too far off after all.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Overheard in the Target Toy Aisle . . .

. . . two boys looking at a Batman: The Brave and the Bold variant action figure:

BOY 1: Mommy, Batman isn't red!
BOY 2: Maybe that's the hot Batman!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Faux Laser Gun

I found this artifact at a coffeeshop in Phoenix tonight. It's reminiscent of sci-fi pulp comics -- not to mention all kinds of cool.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Talk About a Dented Package

You don't have to be a fanboy to know that ain't Two-Face! Either a greedy collector snuck a faux return under some Target jockey's nose, or somebody at Mattel needs to pick up a comic book.

Monday, February 08, 2010

DC Universe Classics Eclipso

I hope the first week of A Comic A Day was indicative of this year's direction, what with mini reviews of issues old and new, a little superhero TV, reflections of comics' parallel with current events (a la the Superbowl), and of course the random merch that thrusts comics in our faces every day. This week starts a little differently, furthering the eclectic flair with a glimpse of my extensive action figure collection!

A few weeks ago, I had an apartment warming party at my new digs in Arizona, and a fellow fanboy friend of mine gifted me a Mattel DC Universe Classics Eclipso. I opened the figure tonight, and despite my general apathy toward the character as a whole I'm pleased to add him to the shelves in my living room. First of all, he's a bad guy, and I learned to appreciate villains when my grandparents first gave me my Super Powers Superman and Batman back in the day, and they had nobody to fight. Had Eclipso been a part of the picture, he could've turned them against each other with his evil black diamond . . . before defeating the true baddie together, of course!

Secondly, Eclipso is a well sculpted figure, and though I'm usually against props built into the character (think Two-Face's coin), this one makes sense, especially since it's so small and critical to his persona. If children are actually still playing with toys like this, they need that diamond to make Eclipso the formative foe he was meant to be.

Alas, if Eclipso clouds my collection in any way, it's in his driving me to collect the rest of the figures in his wave and complete the Darkseid their respective loose parts build. Aw, who am I kidding . . . Even without Eclipso, I'd still be a man possessed.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Putting the Super Back in Superbowl Sunday

DC Comics Presents Superman #1, by Stan Lee, Paul Levitz, Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone, Al Milgrom, Dave Stewart, Jared K. Fletcher, Ken Lopez, and Lovern Kindzierski

Continuing the Superbowl Sunday tradition I kicked off (heh heh) with my reviews of NFL Superpro #3 and Strange Sports Stories, I'm pleased to review DC Comics Presents Superman #1, a football-oriented comic book remembering the dearly departed Julius Schwartz's impact on the medium. In this issue, a dream team of writers and artists tells two tales inspired by the Schwartz-helmed cover of Superman #264 originally illustrated by Nick Cardy.

Firstly, Stan Lee, Darwyn Cooke, and J. Bone tell the story of Professor Harold Gorky, who, fed up with society's glorification of muscleheads like superstar quarterback Tank Torgan and charitable-guest referree Superman, creates an invisible robotic football player to best them both in the field and win the heart of his secretary Tiffany. He succeeds, and when Superman gets to the bottom of things, he decides no punishment is better for the borderline mad professor than letting him win the vapid vixen of his dreams. Darwyn and Bone's definitively retro art is the perfect compliment to Lee's cooky script, creating a nostalgic yarn that respects the power of the mind -- in the midst of a game that celebrates getting one's skull bashed in.

The second story is pretty heavy by comparison, as a washed up football player ups his dose of experimental steroids to become an energy-crackling juggernaut, but fortunately Superman is in the neighborhood and uses his cosmic treadmill to run the wayward runner's energy out. Levitz and Giffen tell an engaging tale, with campy Silver Age staples that shine under an otherwise potentially dark fable about faded glory. I suppose any of us are just a washed up career away from becoming the phantom quarterback.

In conclusion, Wanda Sykes mentioned me on her Fox talk show last night, describing folks like me that watch the Superbowl for the commercials "like someone that orders pizza for the box." Hey, the game itself is really just one long commercial for spandex-clad team-ups . . . and we comic books geeks certainly understand that.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Smallville Does Justice to the JSA

Last night's television debut of the JSA on Smallville was just campy enough to dissuade superhero naysayers, and just reverent enough to make fanboys like me absolutely ecstatic with the sweeps-snagging episode. Consider Stargirl, the babe (in youth and looks) of the veteran group, one moment swinging her predecessor's gaudy light staff with the straightest of faces, and the next claiming that "Stripesy" is indeed the worst sidekick name ever. If that doesn't represent a realistic portrayal of the superhero myth, I don't know what does. The Justice Society saved the CW's Friday night ratings, too, a responsibility Smallville has grown accustomed to carrying. In fact, writer Geoff Johns might've symbolized both the mantle of heroism and the weight of supporting a whole TV network when Green Arrow said of Hawkman's mace, "It's heavier than it looks."

The winged warrior responded, "You get used to it."

My only criticism was the length of the episode -- not that I minded two hours of superhero TV, but that the reverence of the whole thing demanded so much of its own screen time. Clark soaking in the JSA brownstone, its trophies . . . I guess since the show took the time to make the props, producers didn't want to relegate them to mere background Easter egg fodder. Further, the final showdown was a bittersweet moment, a perfect slow motion panorama of what could've only been 30 real-time seconds of battle. Still, to see Superman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, and Green Arrow fight the Icicle wearing Dr. Fate's helmet . . . it reminded me of the days spent on my bedroom floor enacting similar scenes with my Super Powers action figures.

Like the JSA themselves, it reminded me of earlier, better days. It did those old superhero fantasies justice.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Superman, Tights and Flights

Daniel Tosh's Comedy Central special reran for the umpteenth time last night, in which he jokes (and I paraphrase):

"How does Superman fly faster? I get that he flies, but how does he do it faster? Is it just more -- (extends hands outward)? I know some geek will come up to me after the show and explain, 'You see when the planet exploded . . .' Then I'll describe to him what a vagina feels like."

Ha ha.

Well, folks flipping through prime time tonight will see the Justice Society's television debut on Smallville, complete in their costumes, a niche the WB has avoided in their attempt to attract a mainstream audience. I'm pretty excited about it -- a feeling Tosh would never understand.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Weekly Haul: The Lone Ranger #20 & Savage Dragon #157

For decades, three little words have haunted avid comic book readers everywhere: "To be continued." Nothing inspires more fist-pounding frustration than reading twenty-two to thirty pages of nail-biting action and drama only to discover you'll have to wait another four weeks to see how it all ends. Thanks to my experience as a longtime reader, I've oftentimes accurately predicted the next issue's events, essentially reconciling the story before I've even read its conclusion. This helps me sleep at night.

Alas, every now and then, issues like The Lone Ranger #20 and Savage Dragon#157 come along and totally disrupt this delicate balance.

The Lone Ranger and Savage Dragon are two of my most favorite titles and among the chosen few ongoing series I collect monthly, and when they come out the same week, it's a good week, indeed . . . but this week, I'm not so sure. See, at the end of The Lone Ranger #19, John confronted Linda about her hidden feelings, and Linda rebutted . . . by kissing Tonto. Now, I expected this issue to open with her using the P.D.A. as a means of exposing John's love via jealousy, but it turns out Linda and Tonto are really an item. So, this issue's first page definitely wins The Most Painful Page to Read Award, as John stammers, "Right. I knew that. I mean, I knew about him. That it's him you've been wanting to talk about. That you wanted . . . Right." Artist Sergio Cariello so captures the twisted face of a broken heart, I can't stand to look at it. Still, this issue also wins The Bros Before Hos Award, as the Lone Ranger and Tonto refuse to end their partnership, especially now, on the run from the feds and on the heels of their worst enemy. Writer Brett Matthews pulls no punches, to the heart or the head.

Now, longtime readers of A Comic A Day know how I feel about Erik Larsen and Savage Dragon, and just when I think I have that book figured out, Larsen takes his title character on another point of seemingly no return. In the thick of his "Dragon War" story arc, two Dragons from parallel dimensions are battling over the title, but the one we know and love already isn't himself, as his brain had been eaten by a monster (long story) and has regenerated sans memories of his current life. At last issue's end, with the mindset of alien despot, Dragon was eating the brain of his other-dimensional doppelganger (to prevent it from growing back like his did, of course), when his son showed up. Now, I anticipated a slugfest, with perhaps a climactic emotional plea to Dragon's suppressed psyche, but instead, father clobbers son, who then hides in the sewer (as I suppose a frightened boy would do). Meanwhile, one-time archnemesis Overlord has become an advocate for freak rights, infusing his once-villainous Vicious Circle with Dragon blood and mutating them into proverbial citizens on patrol. At this point, I don't know who to root for -- and either way a Dragon will win! Larsen is the only writer/artist I know capable of slaughtering his sacred cows so effortlessly.

Sometimes, comics can rip your heart out, or leaving you standing beside yourself. So, why keep reading 'em? Why endure thirty days of cliffhanging torture? Sure, they aren't always predictable -- but the feelings of wonder and excitement they inspire are reliable. They're absolutely consistent in their potential to be as inconsistent as possible, and isn't that the point of escapism? Those three little words are as fist-poundingly frustrating as they are promisingly reliable: "To be continued!"

The Lone Ranger, published by Dynamite Entertainment, written by Brett Matthews, illustrated by Sergio Cariello, colored by Marcelo Pinto of Impacto Studios, and lettered by Simon Bowland.

Savage Dragon, published by Image Comics, by Erik Larsen, lettered by Tom Orzechowski, and colored by Steve Oliff.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dubble Bubble Tee

Another Wal-Mart find, one of their "cool" screen-printed tees. When I started collecting comics in 1991, an issue of Amazing Spider-man cost $1 a month. Now, I'd cough up $3.99, and it comes out weekly! Can you ever imagine a time when comics -- even three-panel, muddily-printed-on-wax-paper comics -- only cost a penny? Blows my mind -- and my gum right outta my ears.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Marvel Briefs

That's what I'm talkin' about! No less than a day after relaunching this blog with the focus of finding a comic a day, I discover that Wal-Mart gives you the chance to wear one . . . in your pants. Now, when your girlfriend says, "What's that thing?" -- she's really talking about the Thing!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Fantastic Four Klik Candy Dispensers

Here we go again.

Today A Comic A Day begins its third incarnation, as a study of comics' influence on every day life. Fortunately for me, the blundering blogger responsible for this mess, that direction is open interpretation, from the way comics shape pop culture, to the comics I'm reading on any given day, to the comics-inspired merchandise one might find just shopping at the 99 Cents Store -- like these Fantastic Four Klik candy dispensers. If you look hard enough, surely you can find a comic a day.


"Tall Tale" by Paul Pope, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Clem Robins
originally published in Weird Western Tales #1, Vertigo/DC Comics

Keen comic book enthusiasts might appreciate my using the Fantastic Four (albeit in candy dispenser form) in a new year's inaugural post, since they're often dubbed the first family of funnybooks and in fact launched the brand we know today as Marvel Comics. Similarly, this weird western short by Paul Pope explores the origins of heroes as a whole, but in a genre we often underestimate as the beginning of such things. The first few panels in this eight-page yarn explain that tall tales about Paul Bunyon and John Henry were the first superhero stories, and their compilation in spaghetti western pulp magazines, the ancestor of the comic book.

Now, when a drunken sop decides to call out a homely bartender he believes to be Wild Bill Hickok . . .

He discovers that some tall tales have pretty short fuses.

Paul Pope's style befits a short, weird western tale like this, and his premise that folks in the Old West were just as mystified as these tales then as we are now is a great way to breach the proverbial fourth wall . . . and make a simple Bronze Age title relaunch amazingly relevant.

One can only hope it's as effective with a certain blog. Giddy up!