Adventures in Sound #36

Posted: November 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

AiS_Flash_soundbarrier

Panel from Showcase #4
writer, Robert Kanigher; penciller, Carmine Infantion; inker, Joe Kubert

Superman Sunday

Posted: November 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

Superman_StefanoCaselli

art by Stefano Caselli


These are a few of my favorite Jacks

Posted: October 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Kirby

from The Demon #10

from The Demon #10

 

Davis

JackDavis_MonsterParty

And, of course …

Cole

Jack_Cole_ValleyofHorror_WebofEvil8

from Web of Evil #8

(Dig that bendy swoosh! Remind you of anyone?)


Cover to Cover: Doc Savage

Posted: September 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Cover_DocSavage_Farmer

Are you awesome? As awesome as this Doc Savage cover by comic book, sci-fi and fantasy artist Ken Barr? Or as awesome as Scott Slemmons, who sent this book to me just because he is, by definition, awesome?

Well?!?

 

Doc Savage
Cover illustration: Ken Barr
1981 edition (First Playboy Paperbacks)

A place to call home

Posted: July 12th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

As I write this, Sandy and I are a few hours away from catching a bus from Austin to San Antonio, and from there a train West. From there … well, we don’t really know.

For years we’ve had half-formed plans of taking a train trip up the Pacific coast, but life — and the responsibilities that come with it — being what they are, they never went very far beyond the daydreaming stage. But in the last two years we steadily lost the three kitties we gladly gave priority to over anything else, and that combined with the freedom of working freelance got us thinking more seriously about taking the trip.

There was a lot of planning that went on before and during the last few months — including taking care of our baby Pancho, packing most of our stuff into storage, moving into an apartment that would let us go month-to-month — and it’s essentially come to this:

We’re taking a 45-day train trip around the country, and then we’re coming back to Austin. But maybe not.

We love Austin, so much that when we originally moved here our plan was to stay for two years; that was 12 years ago. But we’ve always been restless, and having lived in the Southwest and then Central Texas for most of our lives, Sandy and I are always curious about this thing we’ve heard of called “seasons.” So we’re combining two dreams into one, and then we’ll see what happens. As we make our way around, we’ll be keeping an open mind to see if any of the cities or areas we visit call out to us. If one does, we’ll seriously consider moving there; if not, we won’t. Essentially, we’ve planned on not having any solid plans.

Yeah, we know — crazy.

We’re going to take the train from Texas to L.A., and then up the coast to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. From there we’ll cross to Minneapolis, and then down into towns in Wisconsin and Ohio to visit friends. Then it’ll be on to Chicago, D.C. and New York City before heading on to Toronto and Montreal. After that we’ll wind things up in Boston, which is currently fighting it out with Austin and where we plan to spend about a month to see how it fits. All of this is subject to change as we go, but that’s the plan today.

The idea of leaving Austin is pretty hard, and harder as it gets closer to the time we need to catch that train. We have a lot of people we love in this city, and this is genuinely home to both of us. But we also know those same people would encourage us to at least try, and honestly, who knows when we’ll get another chance? We’re nervous, but excited. But nervous. But excited!

We’ll let you all know how things are going (we’re going to blog about it, as soon as I can get one set up), and we’ll still be in contact in all the usual ways. Mostly we hope that, in some way, we can take you all with us. No matter where that ends up being.

(Personally, I’m looking forward to hitting lots of comic book shops and eating lots of good food.)


Pancho

Posted: June 24th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Pancho_baby

When we first got Pancho 19 years ago, we thought he was the ugliest cat we had ever seen.

He was only a few weeks old when Charlie brought him to our apartment, the last kitten left from two different litters. We decided he had to be the runt, all gangly legs and a head that seemed to account for a full third of his tiny body. Wild blue eyes flared from under a skull that bulged between his pointed ears, a cranium that would imply genius if he wasn’t so obviously insane. Charlie thrust the squirming kitten at Sandy, said, “Take this cat!” and promptly walked away to nurse the various scratches he had gotten on the car ride to our place.

It was love at first sight.

Pancho eventually grew into his head, and like an ugly duckling became a beautiful cat. I mean, really gorgeous. Over the years various vets, pet-sitters and house-guests have all stopped to coo and fuss over him, and being the most loving, gentle and friendliest cat ever, he’d just bask in it. Occasionally he’d bite a nose because he was also crazy, but you didn’t mind because by then it was too late — you were already in love with him.

When we lost him to bone cancer June 12, we were heartbroken. We still are; I don’t know if there will ever be a time we aren’t. That probably sounds strange to some people — all the effort to give Pancho the medicines and supplements and subcutaneous fluids he needed even stranger. But we loved Pancho and when he was diagnosed four months ago we kept doing what we had always done; we took the best care of our baby boy as we could. At his age surgery or treatment wasn’t really an option, and all we could do was keep him as comfortable and healthy as possible while watching that awful disease progress. Eventually our days revolved completely around Pancho’s care. Sandy cut her on-site contract work to nearly nothing; I stopped working completely. We were lucky to be able to do that. We’ll be forever grateful for the time we got to spend with him.

On the day we finally decided to let Pancho go, he was still eating and drinking, still using his box, still getting onto my chest to purr himself to sleep. But the cancer was robbing him, of so many things, and we had decided a long time ago that we would never let one of our babies suffer. It was one of the hardest decisions we’d ever had to make, but we loved him too much to let it go any further.

It seems weird to say “loved,” as if it’s a condition that’s in the past now. We still love Pancho. We always will. He was a best friend, a companion, an amazingly endless source of unconditional love. We spoiled him, but only half as much as he spoiled us. Our home, our days, and our lives are emptier without him in them. We miss him. Our little Panchito. Pancholino. Pancho Doughnuts. Papas. Sweet boy. Handsome boy.

Our very good boy.

Love of our life.

Our Pancho.


Small Sundays: Mego Spider-Man

Posted: April 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

After a longer-than-planned hiatus, I thought I’d return to Small Sundays (and Great Caesar’s Post!), with one of my favorite and most-prized possessions: Mego Spider-Man.

Spidey_Mego

If you’re reading this, you probably already know the Mego Corporation had a near-complete corner on the action-figure market in the 70s — the only other real competition were Kenner’s Star Wars figures — and produced licensed figures based on everything from comic book characters to Star Trek to popular TV shows. The dolls (sorry, guys — they’re dolls) were 8 inches high and featured real cloth costumes, which is what really impressed me. And while I might’ve lost a lot of childhood toys to negligence and fate over the years, Spidey has never been treated with less than loving care.

Except.

Except, there’s something about this Mego Spider-Man.  Something just a little bit … off. Can you figure it out? Let’s hear it, you Ben Urichs — what is Spider-Man’s secret?


Merry Christmas from Santa, Superman and Great Caesar’s Post!

Posted: December 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Superman_Santa

Panel from DC Comics Presents #67
Len Wein, writer/co-plotter; E. Nelson Bridwell, co-plotter
Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, artists

Small Sundays: The Flash

Posted: December 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

SmallSundays_Flash

The Flash
Acquired: Promotional figure included with bag of potato chips (Mexico)

Note: Holy smoke — Flash ran so fast his face melted! Is it Barry? Wally? Bart?!? Actually, it’s the last of a trio of figures including Wonder Woman and Aquaman that I found as promotional items in bags of potato chips in Mexico. Which, of course, means Mexico is winning the Promotional Items Arms Race.


John Cusack should’ve been the Generation X Gene Wilder: An argument

Posted: December 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

Recently, I did something that most people of a certain age find themselves doing — having an online discussion about John Cusack.

Nowadays, I’m ambivalent about Cusack, but back in the 80s I LOVED that guy. He was in a lot of coming-of-age movies that caught me at just the right time, and it was when he was still funny.

No, really.

And I don’t mean Hot Tub Time Machine funny, I mean really funny. Part of this was because he was the go-to guy for “Savage” Steve Holland, who made a name for himself with some supremely silly movies about teens who smoked and drank and lived in a sort of cartoon world where nothing was too serious and no one got hurt. If there was a scale, John Hughes would be on one end, and Holland would be on the other.

The discussion started with a picture I posted from Better Off Dead. If you haven’t seen it before, stop reading this right now and go get it. It’s a classic — no idea is too crazy, there is just one ridiculously great line after another, and it somehow all comes together into a tight little story with characters you genuinely care about. It is — hand to God — the funniest movie about teen suicide you’ll ever watch.

Cusack, unfortunately, didn’t feel the same way. He reportedly left the theater 20 minutes into a premier screening and then reamed  Holland out for “using him” and “making a fool out of him.” Cusack would work with him again a year later in 1986’s One Crazy Summer, solely due to contractual obligations; after that, the two were kaput.

Which is a shame. Because, in my mind at least, it looked for a while as if Steve Holland was going to be our generation’s Mel Brooks and Cusack our Gene Wilder. He played an immensely likable and identifiable teenager, which isn’t easy. And he was doing it when theaters were overflowing with likeable, identifiable teens. To stand out must have meant he was doing something right. When Cusack suddenly decided he was a self-important, capital-A Actor, he shoved a natural talent for comedy to the back of his cupboard until it crumbled into a bitter, barely recognizable pile of dust.

Frankly, I think he screwed it all up. At the time, Cusack had a ton of potential (it could argued he still does). But starting with his starring role in 1989’s Say Anything, Cusack started a spiral that circles around mediocre rom-coms (often without the com) and pseudo-thinky films that, for all the effort, just manage to be boring. It’s too bad, because again it’s about potential. Gene Wilder is mostly known for playing absurdist roles with plenty of heart, and Cusack had a talent for that in spades. With some maturity and good roles, he could have been in the same pool as John Candy or (dare I say it? I dare!) Bill Murray. Instead, enjoy a viewing of … shit, I don’t know, Serendipity?

Of course, Cusack has made some good movies — the fantastic Being John Malkovich and the slow burn of High Fidelity come to mind — but they’re not my favorites. These are my favorites:

Better Off Dead

I could say more about this movie than I already have, but I’ll just let you watch this instead.

The Sure Thing

I don’t know if people just forget about this one, but it’s a great road movie about teens taking their first real steps into adulthood. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s smart, and at its core it’s about love and sex (if you’re into that sorta thing). Here’s some cinematic shorthand; it’s directed by Rob Reiner. If you have a love for When Harry Met Sally, watch the movie where he first explored most of its themes.

The Grifters

There is absolutely nothing funny about The Grifters and that’s completely OK. (I never said I wanted Cusack to do nothing BUT comedy). Like the hard-boiled noir it’s based on, this film is a punch in the gut; once you realize that fist has a knife in it, it’s too late and all you can do is sit there, stunned.

For what it’s worth, I’m glad John Cusack is still around. I just wish the guy who shows up now looked more like the kid I saw all those years ago.