Posted: January 31st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Sorry kids, but daddy’s on deadline! That means, for the next couple of days at least, things will go into neutral while I take care, TCB.

Because you know what happens when you miss a deadline …


Adventures in Sound #32

Posted: January 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Panel from Reid Fleming — World’s Toughest Milkman #1
Artist/letterer: David Boswell

Cover to Cover: Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method – Advanced Techniques

Posted: January 25th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

Sometimes I buy books I don’t plan on reading.

It doesn’t happen very often — honest — but I’ve done it a couple of times. Sometimes it’s been because a book is just so unusual that I can’t resist it. Sometimes I’ll pick up a book because I think the design is beautiful, and I appreciate it more as an object than prose.

And in the case of Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: Advanced Techniques, it’s because it’s just so damn cool.

The book is the fourth and final installment in the Fighting Method series, and is crammed full of step-by-step lessons in Lee’s Jeet Kune Do style of martial arts, as well as pictures of Lee beating the hell out of co-author Mitoshi Uyehara. I’m sure the photos are posed, but as we all know Lee could kill 10 normal men even when he was faking it.

For the most part, Advanced Techniques is a fairly dry collection of fighting methods; “your rear hand should be in the guard position” and “the stop-kick is not necessarily a countering blow,” things like that. Which is why I really doubt I’ll ever read it front to back. On the other hand, it is the kind of book I definitely leaf through for the pictures, the casually inserted philosophy, and the literal poetry (not Lee’s, though, and that’s too bad).

But mostly, it’s just nice to have some distilled, Bruce Lee coolness on the book shelf.

I’ve made the back cover a little bigger (click to see) so it’s easier to go through the list of books Ohara Publications was offering. There are six books on being a ninja, more books by and about Bruce Lee, and even Chuck Norris telling you how to win karate tournaments. If it doesn’t include sweeping the leg, I’m going to be really disappointed.

Bruce Lee’s Fighting Method: Advanced Techniques
Cover design/photo: Unknown
1996 edition (Ohara Publications, Inc.)

It’s Kalimánday! Kalimán goes to the movies

Posted: January 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

It’s hard to overestimate how popular Kalimán is in Latin America, especially Mexico. The best and easiest parallel I can come up is the phenomenon that was The Shadow in the 1930s and ’40s, when the pistol-packing vigilante burst onto the scene and into every form of media. Kalimán moved just as easily across pop culture, capturing imaginations in radio, comics and movies, cementing his spot in the cultural psyche.

But while there have reportedly been thousands of hours of radio shows produced and almost 30 years worth of weekly comics published, so far there have only been a measly two movies made. This, my friends, is what we call bullshit. Still, the movies we do have are pretty great in that special 1970s way, and there have been announcements that a new, updated Kalimán movie is in the works. In the meantime, what we’ve got is well worth revisiting.

Premiering in 1972, “Kalimán, El Hombre Increíble” is a retelling of the first comic book story, ““Los Profanadores de Tumbas” (“The Defilers of the Tombs”) — I promise I’ll stop talking about that first story soon. “Profanadores” was shot on location in Egypt with an international cast, and was reportedly the most expensive Mexican movie ever made for 20 years after its release. Filmmakers followed up on “Profanadores” with 1976’s “Kalimán En El Siniestro Mundo de Humanón” (“Kalimán in The Sinister World of Humanón”), which was also based on an original comic and radio story but didn’t prove as popular the third time around.

“Kalimán, El Hombre Increíble” was a different story, and put asses in the seats of movie theaters for a full year. Starring American (I think) actor Jeff Cooper as Kalimán and Nino del Arco as an appropriately precocious Solín, the movie is everything you could hope for; casual dubbing, unfortunate face-painting, a waka-chow soundtrack and more pure awesome than you can handle. For your viewing pleasure, here is Exhibit K, in which Kalimán chokes a man out by wrapping his own arms around his head, and then scares everyone else away with what I can only describe as his Black Panther Stare. There’s also some dungeon-torture, a little veil dancing and Kalimán without his turban (hint: He’s blond).

I should also mention that all this happens in just eight minutes of a 107-minute long movie.

Later he karate chops the head off a robot-mummy and blows up a pyramid. Ka! Li! Mán!

Just ’cause

Posted: January 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Art by Andy Helms

I support the Internet blackout

Posted: January 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m not going to pretend that going dark here at my little blog — which only recently started updating regularly again — is going to have much of an impact on the piracy/privacy protest going on across the Web today. But I’m also not going to pretend that sitting by silently, along with so many other people who either don’t know or don’t care about the issue, doesn’t give weight to what the United States government is trying to do our civil liberties.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which has been shelved but still lurks in the Congressional shadows, and the still-active Protect IP Act (PIPA) would deeply harm the Web by allowing wide-ranging censorship of content, and would be detrimental to business (on and offline) in spite of what proponents would have you believe. I strongly support creators’ rights and think everyone should have the ability to safeguard and profit from their work. These two bills, though, are not the right way to do it.

Here is some information on PIPA and SOPA, and what you can do to speak out:

Google: End Piracy, Not Liberty Internet Censorship and Copyright Bill How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech

Huffington Post: SOPA Blackout Aims to Block Internet Censorship Bill

It’s Kalimánday! Meanwhile, night falls in the desert …

Posted: January 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

In my previous Kalimán post I mentioned that our mystical hero’s first comic book story was “Los Profanadores de Tumbas,” which prosaically translates to “The Grave Robbers” but more excitingly to “The Defilers of the Tombs.” I think we’ll go with the “Defilers” title. I also mentioned how, early in that adventure, Kalimán uses his powers of hypnosis to put the kibosh on a cobra.

You didn’t think I was going to just let that go, did you?

Up to this point in the story, Kalimán has run afoul of some renegade Bedouins in the desert, but scares them off by using a convenient solar eclipse to make them think the sun god Ra has sent them a bad omen. Now on his way to what is probably Cairo (it’s never actually specified — weird), Kalimán fluffs up a sand dune and calls it a night. But a wandering cobra has other plans …


Panel 1: Far from there, Kalimán  sleeps in the desert while a cobra slithers toward him.
Panel 2: His fine hearing let’s him perceive the slithering of the reptile, a little late perhaps.
Panel 3: Any movement could cost him his life.
Panel 4: And his powerful gaze stabs into that of the cobra.
Panel 5: The hated enemy starts to become paralyzed.
Panel 6: (Caption) And then he takes her by the neck.
Kalimán: Now that you’re hypnotized, I’ll finish you!
Panel 7: (Kalimán) Thanks to my hypnotic power, I am alive!

Man! I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to resist putting exclamation points all over this translation! Exclamation points!!!

From Kalimán: El Hombre Increíble #1
“Los Profanadores de Tumbas”

DC buries six titles, digs up six more and I go 4-2

Posted: January 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

DC Comics announced the inevitable earlier this week and released a statement saying six issues from its New 52 line-up were doomed to cancellation.

Let me say right up front, it’s not like I’m all giddy about the cancellations. I’m generally not happy about any comic books being canceled. And while some are getting the ax, DC also announced plans to launch six new titles to replace the ones being dropped, and some of them sound great. But I also think some of the canceled books — and others down the line — are hindered by poor planning in terms of writing and art teams, lack of promotion and in some cases half-hearted attempts at change for change’s sake that come off half-baked.

Way back in August, when the New 52 had just relaunched, I made some predictions on which comics would get the chop and when. So how’d I do? Let’s take a look: The DC-canceled books include Blackhawks, Men of War, Static Shock, Hawk and Dove, Mister Terrific and O.M.A.C. Using an awkward “thrive-survive-die” system, I had originally picked a number of books I thought would be canceled, and four of those are also on DC’s hit list:

Mister Terrific

  • Mister Terrific
  • Blackhawks
  • Men of War
  • Hawk and Dove

Not bad, not bad. But that still leaves two that missed the mark. I put these titles on the “Survive” list, predicting they would last at least a couple of years. Oops. Those books were:

  • Static Shock
  • O.M.A.C.

Well, that’s still pretty good for Vegas. Of the six books on their way out, I’m most sorry to see O.M.A.C. go. It was a comic that was fun, eye-poppingly illustrated and seemed to channel pure Kirby Krackle. Best of all, it really gave a sense of building up to something more; I think O.M.A.C. had only just laid the groundwork for a much bigger story, and I’m sorry we’ll never get to see that now. (I’m also sorry that with the loss of O.M.A.C., Mister Terrific and Static Shock, DC just seriously cut into the number of characters of color leading any of its books.)

Dial H

But like I said, the news isn’t all bad. The new titles are supposed to kick off after the others reach the end with issue #8 in April, and some of them have a chance at being pretty good. Dial H by China Miéville looks like it might be some Animal Man-style horror from one of the modern masters of weird fiction, and I love that World’s Finest will feature Power Girl and Huntress in place of Clark and Bruce. The so-called Second Wave (ugh) will be rounded out by G.I. Combat (please, please, please let that mean Joshua Dysart’s version of the Unknown Soldier will make a comeback), The Ravagers, Earth 2 and the fanboy-pleasing return of Batman Incorporated (with Grant Morrison back in the driver’s seat, no less).

For the record, Earth 2 worries me a little bit because it’s hard not to think it’s  just a shuffling step back toward the ol’ Multiverse status quo. The Ravagers — a Superboy/Teen Titans spinoff — sounds terrible, and writer Howard Mackie’s Marvel-in-the-90s pedigree doesn’t exactly give me confidence.

Oh, well, at least now that Hawk and Dove got the boot it’s not like we’re going to be subjected to massive amounts of Liefeld or anything.

Aw, crap.

Cover to cover: Starman Jones

Posted: January 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

A lot of people have to deal with addiction in their lives. Some are a prisoner to alcohol, to drugs or to some other, just as destructive compulsion. I’m not any different, and have suffered from a nearly uncontrollable urge — a need — that I’ve never really been able to resist. I am weak, and for almost my entire life I’ve thrown time, money and sometimes my personal well-being into this monster’s bottomless maw.

Of course, I’m talking about used paperbacks.

And my addiction has a certain flavor; the more genre-ey, the better. Especially if it has a ridiculously awesome cover. Oh, man, the covers! Horror and science-fiction books have the best, hands downs, and I will gladly leave a used books store with an armful of paperbacks chosen just because the covers gave me a hit of giddy euphoria. Aaahhh — that’s the good stuff.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the most beautiful, most creative or just plain nuttiest covers in my stacks in what will be a new, ongoing feature. And  just to be sure you get the full dose of art and promo copy (an art in itself), we’ll be taking a look at both the front and back covers.

First up: Starman Jones!


Starman Jones
Cover art: Lee Rosenblatt
1975 edition (Ballantine Books)

Today is Kalimánday!

Posted: January 9th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Like most right-thinking people, I’m sure you’ve found yourself asking, “So who is this mysterious Kalimán, anyway?”

Hey, I hear ya. Kalimán is mysterious. Terribly mysterious. He is such a cypher, in fact, he barely has any origin at all. But in spite of that (or maybe because of it), the peace-loving warrior who fights evil with equal parts mysticism and knuckle-sandwiches is one of the biggest comic book heroes to ever come out of Mexico. Imagine a more centered, less psychotic Shadow mixed in with Mandrake the Magician and Indiana Jones and you’ve got a little bit of an idea where Kalimán is coming from. (He shares something else with The Shadow — Kalimán also started out in radio before moving on to comics and eventually a couple of movies.)

“Serenity, Yulma. Your worst enemy may be fear.”

As created by Rafael Navarro Cuthbert and Modesto Vazquez Gonzalez, Kalimán is the apex of human potential, and while he isn’t superhuman he has unlocked the vast power of the mind,  allowing him to do all kinds of crazy shit. Among his brainy abilities are telepathy; telekinesis; levitation; remote viewing; astral projection; hypnosis; self-healing; and — most famously — “actus mortis,” the power to control the involuntary functions of his body to the point that he can put himself into a death-like state.

(When I was talking to my Mexican wife about Kalimán’s mystical bad-assery, she actually shouted out, “Actus mortis!” before I even had a chance to finish my sentence. Seriously, he’s big in Latin America.)

And of course, when you’re the sum of human potential, you’re probably going to be pretty damn manly. Which Kalimán is, displaying a marble-like physique under his tight, white, vaguely Arabic uniform. Which he mostly manages to keep on.

Except when he doesn’t. Bam!

While Kalimán the comic ran weekly for an amazing 26 years (that’s 1,348 issues, if you’re counting), all printed in that iconic sepia tone that is a hallmark of Mexican comics, the only thing readers know about Kalimán is whatever’s happened in his various adventures. Basically, there is no “Kalimán – Year One.” In the first published story, “Los Profanadores de Tumbas” (“The Tomb Defilers” or, less dramatically, “The Grave Robbers”) our boy shows up fully formed, calmly using superstition to scare off a gang of Bedouin raiders. Then he hypnotizes a cobra and goes to a cocktail party. That’s just how he do, y’all.

Here’s what we do know about Kalimán: He’s a light-skinned, blue-eyed orphan adopted by Prince Abul Pasha, ruler of one of the kingdoms in the valley of Kalimantan. He’s the seventh man in a dynasty dedicated to preserving justice in the world, having sworn an oath to the goddess Kali to wander the world fighting for justice, a vow he must return to India to renew every seven years. He carries a ceremonial dagger, but he never uses it in a fight and doesn’t use weapons, with the occasional exception of a blowpipe and tranquilizer darts. Kalimán is also a master of the martial arts, science and and the fine arts. He also has a young companion named Solîn, who has been the Short Round to his Indy ever since he saved him from kidnappers/muggers in a back-alley in Egypt.

Kalimán saving Solín while asking that eternal question, “What do you think of this?”

But why did the prince adopt Kalimán? Who were his real parents? How did he join this Kali dynasty anyway? And how does Solîn manage to fall into every pit of quicksand in a three-mile radius? Nobody knows.

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter — Kalimán just kicks a lot of ass, which is why I’m making him a regular feature starting … now. Every Monday Kalimán will be here dropping wisdom like, “There is no force on Earth greater than the human mind; he who masters the mind, masters everything” and “Serenity and patience, lots of patience.” While punching out vampires and hypnotizing aliens from outer space.


It’s a mystery.