Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Belated Linkage

I haven't been feeling 100% the last couple of days, so perhaps that is why it slipped my mind that the final episode of RETURN OF JETMAN was going to go up today. You can read Episode 14 - "Old Endings, New Beginnings" - right here!

This is only the end of the original series, in case you were wondering. In a couple of weeks, you'll see the return of the NEW Return of Jetman stories. And the finale for that series is still set for October 26. Don't miss it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Public Domain Super Heroes

I had long suspected a resource like this existed, but I only recently stumbled across Public Domain Super Heroes. It is a wiki devoted to those super characters that have fallen into the public domain and are free for anyone to use.

Since there is nothing new under the sun, this can be very beneficial. While I've personally tried to create original heroes and villains for my universe, that isn't always an easy task. So it is nice to know that there are characters available to use as a jumping-off point to get the creativity flowing. The downside is that you can only claim the rights to YOUR version, and if the trademark isn't available, you have to do handstands to try to find one that is.

I question some of the conclusions of this site regarding certain characters, and there are many of them (Captain Marvel? Plastic Man?) I would seriously suggest aspiring public domain hero writers avoid. There's also the fact that some characters, like the Nedor heroes and the Golden Age Daredevil, have been used ad nauseaum by seemingly every party wanting some old school costumed crusaders. But even with that, there are still potentially interesting and obscure heroes like Green Turtle and Sky Wizard out there.

As for me, the PD heroes are useful in that they allow me to explore pop culture heroes in my fictional setting. I obviously can't use Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man in a comic story, and would shy away from referring to them in prose, too. But a public domain character like Cat-Man lets me to explore a comic book, movie, or TV superhero without having to create yet another new one. That is really cool. I haven't quite settled on my distinctive versions of Cat-Man and his sidekick Kitten, or whether I'll namecheck more of these antique characters, but it is fun to read about them and learn about the history of comics besides the "Big Two".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Happy Easter!" by Sara Duffield (2007)

No need to check your calendars - it's NOT really Easter today. Instead, we're spotlighting a picture created by Sara Duffield, the former Sara Denny. It just so happens that it was originally posted on April 8, 2007. That was Easter Sunday, if you don't remember.

We've discussed the origins of this piece, and how it fits into the grand scheme of things, back in April. I won't rehash that again, but I did want to include this picture on the blog as we trace the development of my characters through other artists. Besides, it holds a lot of happy memories for me. I credit it for setting the wheels in motion that led to the current version of Captain Satellite's world you are reading today.

There will be more of Sara's 2007 artwork to come, but for now, enjoy this gift sketch. If you'd like to see her current work, don't forget to check out her current art account in addition to the blog linked above. Both are well worth your time!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Strange Adventures #237 (July-Aug. 1972)

Strange Adventures is a venerable DC title dating back to 1950, but it was nearing the end of its storied run by this issue. A little over three years earlier, it had been taken over by its original editor Julius Schwartz, and had become primarily a reprint book. DC's move to a larger format had given the book more variety when it was instituted, but this issue marks the return to 32 pages. Issue #244, a little over a year later, would be the last issue of Strange Adventures - at least in this incarnation.

Strange Adventures #237 is adorned with a cover as wildly deceptive as the one to that Marvel monster comic I reviewed last month. It's not entirely a lie- there is a scene like it in the lead story. But, it's part of a movie within the story, though that story is titled "The Skyscraper That Came To Life!" Clearly, everyone involved knew what would hook people into the tale, even if it is just a minor detail.

(Also, please note the dog. That is pretty much how my sister Amy's dog would react in that situation.)

That first story is written by John Broome and illustrated by Sid Greene and Joe Giella. It is a clever little number about aliens, with a nice twist - this despite precious little rampaging skyscraper action in its 6 pages. The art is attractive, but I have noticed that Giella's inks tend to superimpose a certain style on everyone. Not that it's bad, mind you; I just know I can spot Giella's hand pretty easily on any job he did.

Centerpiece of the book, both figuratively and literally, is the Adam Strange feature "Ray-Gun In The Sky!" Adam is a character who has struggled to find his niche for decades since his first series ended, but doggone it, those old stories are pretty nice. Occasionally filled with the ridiculous, like the titular giant gun (complete with handle and trigger!), but agreeable interplanetary fun all the same. There are a couple of bits that feel forced, but that is mostly in service to the ongoing subplot drama of the series. Writing is by Gardner Fox, and the art is provided by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson at what might be their peak.

We close out with another Fox story, this time with John Giunta art. It is slightly clever, but so short (4 pages) and hinging on something difficult to interpret on a comics page that it's hard to label it as anything other than filler.

I don't know how Marvel's monster reprint books sold, but in retrospect, they sure come across as more geared to their times than DC's attempts to resuscitate the sci-fi genre with this title and From Beyond The Unknown. Marvel's books are garish and lurid, often promising thrills they can't possibly deliver. DC's books, while still fantastic, seem more mannered and restrained. And if we've learned anything in the decades since, it's that manners and restraint were not at a premium in pop culture in the 1970s. Seen through that prism, it's not hard to understand that Marvel overtook DC as the number one comic company in the decade.

Don't get me wrong - I think this book is far more solid as a whole than the random issue of Where Monsters Dwell we discussed last month. But which would I have been more likely to buy on the stands, based on the packaging? Gotta say the Marvel one.

Our ad report includes such worthies as Hot Wheels (something called "RRRumblers"), Daisy Air Gun (remember when guns were advertised in comics? I do!), and a cartoon of Roger Staubach hawking Super Skittle Bowl. Honor House turns up with their plethora of semi-worthless products, including the "Raquel Welch Pillow" for "Only $1.98" :
What man wouldn't enjoy spending a night with Raquel Welch? Well, we can't deliver her, but we can deliver the next best thing - a 12" x 24" inflatable pillow of Raquel made of rugged vinyl to serve as your headrest. Keep her for yourself or show her to your friends. Livens up party when everyone sees and feels this great gag item.
...Ugh, I feel dirty now.

Strange Adventures #237 is a reasonably entertaining comic if you can find it cheap. Consider it recommended. But if you secure your own Raquel Welch inflatable pillow, leave me out of it. Please.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not The Best Laid Plans

I do not live in Lake Charles, LA, but I work there and spend an awful lot of time there. It is not a big city by any reasonable definition, but it is full of bizarre hilarity all the same. Let us discuss two such instances of said hilarity today.

Several years ago, the O'Reilly Auto Parts chain bought out the Hi/LO Auto Supply chain. The new O'Reilly store in Lake Charles occupied the old Hi/LO building for quite some time, but recently moved into a brand-new building a block or two away. This building is across the street from an AutoZone store, but I guess that makes sense. You can make your buying decision based on store preference, pricing or whichever side of the street you happen to be driving.

Anyway, this move left the old Hi/LO building unoccupied for a time, but some entrepreneur decided it was exactly the place to open a new business. And what sort of business did he open? An auto parts store. Yes, just a block or two from the former tenant of the building and a competing rival national chain. An auto parts store with the surely-unauthorized name of "Best Buy".

(For the record, there is a "Best Buy Auto Parts" in existence, but it is based in Canada.)

I have no idea what engineered this stroke of non-genius, but it did not pay off for those involved. In the entire time it was open, the only time I saw customers in the parking lot of this auto parts store was when there were people buying watermelons from the back of a guy's pick-up truck. I cannot remember ever seeing anyone buying something from the store itself. Needless to say, it is closed now.

More recently, Capitol Cyclery, a bicycle store of long standing in the city and former Schwinn dealership, moved to a brand-new building just across the street from their former location. But their old location was not vacant for long. There is already a new store there.

You probably are way ahead of me and have guessed that someone has opened a new bicycle store directly across the street from the old bicycle store. I am now wondering if it's the same guy behind the ill-fated auto parts store. I mean, you'd think it would almost have to be, wouldn't you?

Oh well, at least there's another place for the watermelon truck to park.

Monday, August 23, 2010

PSC Wave 3 - Part 1

As you might recall from this entry and this entry, I commissioned artist Sean Moore to do Personal Sketch Cards for some of my characters. Well, I went back to the well a couple more times before he ended his summer sale. Today, we'll begin our look at these cards.

The first three cards depict Third World Leader, a Third World agent, and a Macro Warrior. Third World is the evil subversive organization in the Captain Satellite universe, akin to groups like Hydra and Cobra. That's the analogy I gave to Sean for these cards, and he really came through on both the Leader and the Agent. The Agent in particular has a thuggish quality that is truly inspirational. He looks like the kind of guy you just can't wait to get what's coming to him.

The Macro Warriors are tools of Third World. I compared them to a synthesis of Japanese super robots and Marvel Comics' Sentinels. I also asked for an angle that gave us an "up" shot of them, to better convey their size, and for the inclusion of a pilot. It's all pulled off beautifully, and finally makes the Macro Warrior design look good.

Thanks Sean! More to come on the PSC front!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Transplanted Giants Music

Several years ago, I picked up the Extra Weird Sampler from the folks at Something Weird Video and their partners at Image Entertainment. It is loaded with a ton of crazy trailers and film clips and is heartily recommended to any fan of bizarre movies. The very first trailer on this collection is for a film called THE AMAZING TRANSPLANT.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mr. Robert Dunham Is Now On Facebook

His name might not automatically be familiar to you, but if you've seen films such as THE GREEN SLIME, DOGORA THE SPACE MONSTER, MOTHRA, and most especially GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, you've seen Robert Dunham. He was an actor in those movies, and many more shot in Japan. From what I know, he always struck me as a larger-than-life figure who transcended being just another Westerner in the crowd in those productions. How many people can say that, in addition to appearing in movies, they were a U.S. Marine, filmmaker, stunt driver, and writer?

This isn't a full-blown entry on Robert Dunham, though he undoubtedly merits such treatment. No, this is an entry to let you know that fans of Mr. Dunham now can friend a Facebook fan account created for him by his daughter Emiko. Already there is plenty of interesting content, and I am certain more will follow. Though Mr. Dunham left us in 2001, we can still honor his memory and his multi-faceted career. Here is your entry point to the official Robert Dunham account. Join us, won't you?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Haiku of Despair

We lost power last night, and the lights were out for five big hours. I spent part of the time talking on the phone or texting (when I could get a signal, that is). A friend told me that my texts during this were "almost poetic", so I thought I would share them with you.

Still no lights.
Tree down around the corner.

5 hours.

* Yes, I know neither is a haiku. Shaddup.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Suggestion, Gentle Readers

I feel obligated to mention that posting MAY (and I stress MAY) be sporadic here for a week or two. This isn't anything especially unusual in these parts, but my obligation stems from the fact that it is due to a) organizing stuff I want to post here and b) the need to finalize some stuff for Return of Jetman.

We all know how plans go, especially mine, but the plan is to spend some time addressing loose ends that should be tied up. Meantime, this would be a golden opportunity for any holdouts among you to catch up on Return of Jetman itself. Today is an especially good time to do that, as the newest reposted episode is Episode 12 - "Know Your Enemy". I still to this day consider "Know Your Enemy" to be one of the better stories I've ever written. Check it out and see what you think!

Monday, August 16, 2010

My World : Zoragaza the Mystic

Zoragaza the Mystic

According to Zoragaza the Mystic, he is centuries old. While this may be the case, what has been officially documented is his lengthy career as a con man plying his trade in carnival sideshows, seedy dives, and dilapidated storefront theaters. His first brush with fame came in the 1970s when he was featured on the album cover Forests of Mind Wizardry for the highly-regarded progressive rock band Solar Cyclops. This indirectly led to a series of concert gigs creating illusions for the rival music act the Scary Metal People. Zoragaza later described his services during this time as that of "spiritual guru", but Scary Metal People guitarist and lead singer Arthur Crudlip calls those allegations "bollocks" and characterizes Zoragaza as "a daft old bugger." Strong words indeed coming from Crudlip, who is known to chew on wine glasses during his all-night benders

Zoragaza's entertainment endeavors were short-lived, and he found himself back in his familiar environment. More recently, he acquired an amulet known as the Green Sun which grants its possessor powers of actual sorcery. Using the Green Sun for malevolent purposes, Zoragaza embarked on a public and flamboyant campaign of crime. That decision has led to conflict with Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson, much to his regret.

Is Zoragaza the Mystic truly an ancient magician reclaiming his lost talents? Or is he just an opportunistic carny with a new weapon and delusions of grandeur?

Sometimes, I write things just because they make me laugh. The whole rock music interlude that fleshes out Zoragaza's profile is a classic example of this habit. It is pure nonsense that adds nothing to your understanding of the character, yet still makes you feel like you know him.

Zoragaza the Mystic came about because I decided one day that a magician might be a fun character to use as a villain. The idea developed gradually until we reached this final stage. That's...pretty much it. He doesn't owe any debt to prior creations of mine. His look and name are influenced by stage magicians, movie serial types, and the stereotypical portrayal of Merlin.

The name "Zoragaza" came about because during his creation, I happened to see a TV news crawl that mentioned Zaragoza in Spain. I like to think that is how Zoragaza arrived at the name too - over a cheap bottle of wine purchased after another stop at the pawn shop.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Return of Lordwormm!

Fan Art by Lordwormm

You were introduced to the artist known as "Lordwormm" back in this entry in April. Well, since then, he drew this picture with three more of my characters. In this piece (original here, and yes, he did mistype my username in the title), you see his interpretations of Mystery Spaceman, Disco Ball, and Redman.

Wait, who's Redman? Redman is a childhood character of mine, and definitely a lesser one who somehow managed to hang around for years. He makes a small appearance in this little number, mostly by virtue of having been a member of one of my super teams. That's also why he warranted a color solo picture in 2007, but I've never been especially thrilled with it (hence its absence from this blog). Lordwormm, however, was thrilled by it, and proceeded to make Redman far more interesting-looking than he has any right to be.

Of course, I'm down with fan art of any of my characters! I must admit, I'm especially taken by his interpretation of the Mystery Spaceman. Except for one or two minor details, he really nails the concept of that character. Just like Thunder Man in the first Elam-ccentric art he did, he's given me a clearer idea of how this character should work away from my simplistic style.

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy the guest shot by another of my childhood heroes in one of Lordwormm's pics. Elastic Man appears in this gallery of stretchy people. Lordwormm is a big booster of the malleable type, so I'm honored to be a part of such a picture.

If you didn't take my suggestion the first time, perhaps now you will be inclined to check out Lordwormm's page?

Friday, August 13, 2010


I was looking for interesting videos on Youtube last week when I stumbled across the trailer for the 1952 BLACKHAWK movie serial. Given the shifting fortunes of the Blackhawks since the 1950s, it's easy to forget that Blackhawk was one of the most popular books of the Golden Age of Comics. In fact, it's sort of surprising it was well after WWII and the decline of the movie serial that the Blackhawks made the jump to film. It sure seems as though they would have been a natural for a high-flying, patriotic wartime chapter play.

I haven't seen the BLACKHAWK serial, but it is reportedly not one of the better examples of the form. I will say, they get the suits down, and it sounds as though they have many of the familiar characters from the comic, too. Kirk Alyn, the first screen Superman, looks the part of Blackhawk, and it's an interesting footnote that his adversary is Carol Forman - also the baddie in that first SUPERMAN serial!

There is one aspect of the trailer that puzzled me. Have a look at it :


Yes, it's the blurb that is the title of this entry. The name of the publishing company (Quality) is omitted in favor of the artist Reed Crandall. I knew Crandall was revered in comics circles, but this is an amazing show of respect for a man who wasn't the creator of Blackhawk and wound up leaving the title the next year.

Here is a page on the movie serial from The Unofficial Blackhawk Comics Website.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Such Problems!

My current problem is that I almost have too much to post here.

Let me explain. I'm trying to not overdose anyone on the whole Captain Satellite Experience (you know you want that ride), but much of what I have handy is related to...well, you can guess. So I'm going to make a conscious effort to spread it out and make it last through at least the year.

After this year? Well, we'll see. Cap and friends won't be going away, that's for sure.

I also am trying to limit the number of Youtube-themed posts here, but gosh, that is hard when there are so many interesting videos to discuss. It's just that I don't like relying on so much outside content that can (and often, does) disappear without warning.

The Return of Jetman site continues to update of its own accord, and I should probably be paying attention to filling in some of the lingering gaps in content now that the story is done. That final episode, by the way, is still scheduled for October 26, 2010. Don't forget!

I have another great old comic book to review one of these fine days, and some promotion for a new fanpage for a favorite actor of mine. All I need to do is get around to doing those things.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My World : Non-Supers, Part 1

Pat August : Pat August is the president of Mann Creations, and the one who runs the day-to-day operations of the company. Though Paul Mann founded the company, and is the principal owner and CEO, it is Pat who keeps it humming along. He is probably Captain Satellite's most valuable and trustworthy confidante besides Shelly Ericson herself. Pat is involved with a number of charities and community programs both in his official capacity and as a private citizen, including serving as chairman for the Major City Council on African-American Affairs (MCCAA).

Karma Bando : Don't let Karma Bando's hippie girl name and slight appearance deceive you - she is an expert auto mechanic and car customizer. Captain Satellite enlisted her aid in creating his Rocket Racecar, and she has an exclusive contract to maintain the specialized vehicle. Her reputation has only grown with her association with Cap, and she has been able to franchise her business around the country as a result.

Bruce Chase : Bruce Chase is famous as the star of the popular and trendsetting TV series Cat-Man. Noted for his exaggerated and overly-dramatic delivery, he was perfect for the role, and that landmark program has defined his career. Though he went on to play the title character in the cop show Lomax! for several seasons, success as a movie actor - what he really desires - has eluded Bruce. He is still doggedly optimistic, and convinced that all he needs is the right part - such as that of Captain Satellite in the film adaptation of his life story.

Rex Coronado : Rex Coronado is the executive director of C.H.I.E.F. (Command Headquarters International Espionage Force). The son of Mexican immigrants, he is deeply proud of the United States, and will fight to defend it with his last breath. He wears sunglasses at all times to disguise the fact that he has a glass right eye. Rex is cantankerous seemingly beyond reason, but has been known to display a sharp sense of humor when least expected. Never one to be underestimated, he will do whatever it takes to accomplish his mission.

Eve East : Eve East co-starred on the TV series Cat-Man as the hero's sidekick Kitten. She later left acting behind and entered the arena of politics. She was recently elected mayor of El Oceano, California - the largest city on the west coast, and entertainment capital of the world.

Manon Etienne : Manon Etienne is the owner and general manager of the stylish Chez Cafe favored by Paul Mann and Shelly Ericson when dining out. In fact, the Chez Cafe was where they had their first face-to-face meeting (it wasn't really a "date"). Manon has parlayed great service and exquisite cuisine into her restaurant holding the reputation as one of the places to eat in Major City. It is said that she knows all the movers and shakers in town on a first name basis.

Howard Fein : Howard Fein is the current President of the United States. He was eager after taking office to associate his administration with the rising popularity of Captain Satellite and the Invincible Alliance. Critics have charged him with engaging in publicity stunts for his own gain, but Fein contends that he truly believes in the idealism represented by this wave of superheroes.

Dick Major : Dick Major is the wealthy scion of the venerable family that founded Major City centuries ago. Though the rest of his clan has either embraced or at least accepted Paul Mann, Dick resents what he feels is the diminishing of his family's legacy due to Mann's rise in stature in town. He is a proud (many might say arrogant) man who refuses to accept what he sees as the devaluing of the Major name.

Mondo Style : Mondo Style (obviously not his real name) is one of the more famous professional wrestlers of the last 25 years. He thought it would be fabulous publicity to challenge Blue Behemoth to a "superhero vs. wrestler" match for one of his grappling group's pay-per-view events. Deciding to "forget" the pre-planned outcome, he went into business for himself during the "contest", and BB taught him a lesson in humility that was an entertainment bargain for fans everywhere.

Dr. Nicola Tanihara : Dr. Nicola Tanihara is an esteemed astronomer who serves as a professor at Major Technological Institute (MTI). Dr. Tanihara was the first observer to note the anomalies which signaled the advent of the Astro-Giants. She is frequently consulted by the superhero community in matters involving outer space.

Velvet Verity : Velvet Verity is a world-famous supermodel who has managed to run afoul of super-villains on more than one occasion. Her sometimes reckless behavior makes her an easy target for those seeking valuable hostages, and she has required rescue several times in recent years. Sadly, she is not one to learn lessons.

Basil Whittaker : Basil Whittaker is the British millionaire and daredevil adventurer who originally financed Paul Mann when he mysteriously appeared a number of years ago. Mann considers Basil his mentor, and the two have a surrogate father/son relationship that is perhaps so obvious that it led to the non-revelation that ended Paul Mann and Roxanne Prize's relationship. When not tending to his business interests or off on some boondoggle like circling the Earth in a hot air balloon, Basil is one of the foremost art collectors in the world. He specializes in pieces that are considered "grotesque" by the population-at-large.

My world is like our real world in some ways, but heavily fictionalized in others. I like to call it a "retro future", because while it may take place in the present or recent past, it's viewed partially through the prism of how folks in times far past imagined these times. One key element of this world is that it's not saturated with costumed types. In fact, they are rare. Even some of the profiled characters, like Shelly Ericson, aren't exactly super folks.

This little list profiles a dozen non-super powered characters that flesh out the world of Captain Satellite. Some of them are intended to be recurring characters, while others might pop up when the time is right. I won't be drawing any of them, but don't be surprised to see artwork featuring at least some of them in the future.

A few notes, if you're interested :

* Pat August is a character that has shown up periodically in the proto-Cap continuity for years, though his current name is a recent invention.

* Karma Bando was originally just an excuse to finally discuss Cap's souped-up vehicle, but she has grown on me. Her name and description are inspired by a friend, who provided input on both.

* Bruce Chase was originally one of the possible alter egos of Captain Satellite back in the good old days.

* Dick Major allows me to discuss something only hinted at previously - the Major family that founded the city which bears their name.

* Mondo Style was the original secret identity of Blue Behemoth.

* The name "Velvet Verity" showed up as an alleged sender in my spam e-mail folder one day, and I jotted it down as too good to lose.

* Basil Whittaker's name evolved from "Basil Wolff", another old secret identity for Captain Satellite. Yes, comics fans, it was inspired by Basil Wolverton.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Today's Pop Quiz

Circle your answer and turn your paper over after completion. This is a timed quiz!

1)Which statement best describes Jeremiah?

a) He was a bullfrog

b) He was a good friend of mine

c) I never understood a single word he said

d) I helped him drink his wine

e) He always had some mighty fine wine.

2) Which statement best describes yourself?

a) You know, I love the ladies, love to have my fun

b) I am a high night flyer

c) I am a rainbow rider

d) I am a straight-shootin' son of a gun

e) I said, a straight-shootin' son of a gun

3) Joy ____________________

a) to the world, all the boys and girls

b) to the fishes in the deep blue sea

c) to you and me

d) Philbin

e) other (please specify in the space provided)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blue Behemoth's Bulletin Board

Blue Behemoth's Bulletin Board

Occasionally, I have ideas that are a little weird even by my standards.

One day, I was out taking a walk (walking is like my stealth hobby, actually) and toying with Captain Satellite business in my head. Don't laugh - I have had some of my best ideas walking. Eventually, I was seized by an idea so offbeat that it immediately shot to the top of my "Let's Make This Happen!" list. What if...I had a picture that told a story about a character without depicting that character?

I don't remember the chronology of my thinking process, but the decision was made that Blue Behemoth would be a good candidate for this treatment. There are a lot of facets to his character that haven't been explored that much yet, and he is a key component of the Invincible Alliance team. With the character set, I needed a concept to build around. After discarding a few, I remembered this Return of Jetman piece done for me by the amazingly amazing Kabuki Katze. That was it! A bulletin board!

Well naturally, I went to Kabuki with proverbial hat in hand and asked if she were interested in taking on this unorthodox commission. Fortunately for me, she is game for a challenge, and accepted. We were off!

This piece is slightly more collaborative than usual, in that bits and pieces of my actual writing are incorporated into it. I also offered plenty of suggestions when asked. Some of what was included was an attempt to build the Captain Satellite "world", but some of it was brought in mostly for laughs. That the gags also could serve as world-building was even better!

I'm not going to list every individual piece on here; really, you should read it and enjoy it for yourself. Needless to say, clicking on the full-size image is not only recommended, but is almost a must. A ton of detail is lurking in this piece, waiting for you to find it. I'm slightly jealous that it's the joke almost entirely written by Kabuki that I find the funniest on this board. That lady has talents she doesn't even use!

Major kudos to Kabuki for her stellar work on this picture. It is seriously even better than I first visualized it, and that is some high praise indeed. You can leave a comment here or Kabuki's dA page for the pic. Kabuki has also written a blog entry on this piece, which is loaded with incidental details I was too lazy to discuss point-by-point. You can read Big Blue's Board, Redux on her highly-recommended blog.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chaos Theory 2010

Kraken Killz by Erik Jessen

Kraken Killz by Erik Jessen

Hey, remember how I mentioned my buddy Eric in this entry? Well, I ran into Eric not long ago, and he revealed to me that he was now the art director for the Henning Cultural Center in nearby Sulphur, LA. The funny thing is that I had passed this place dozens of time and never even knew what it was!

Eric also passed along an invitation to Henning's current gallery show, "Chaos Theory". The concept of Chaos Theory is an "alternative" art show, spotlighting works related to comic books, movies, TV shows, video games, and the like. In other words, my sort of thing! My first visit to Henning was great, except for the tiny little detail that my camera's batteries chose to die. But I remedied that and made my way back on August 3rd.

Here is the gallery of photos I took at Chaos Theory. Regrettably, I just couldn't get pictures of everything, and I missed the names of a few pieces that I did capture. But this should give you a representative sampling of the work on display at this show. It is good stuff, all done by local artists!

If you would like to learn more about Henning, you should visit the official website of Henning Cultural Center. The Chaos Theory show runs from July 15-August 25, so there is still time to check it out if you happen to be in the SWLA neighborhood. And if you see Eric, tell him Christopher Elam's OWARI sent you. He might even introduce you to drunk Picard if you're lucky!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The E. Nelson Bridwell Collection

E. Nelson Bridwell was a national treasure who was and is unknown to most of the nation. He was the author of many of my favorite comics when I was a kid, including the Super Friends title that was miles ahead of anything you'd ever see on TV. Heck, the man created the character who evolved into the popular Justice Leaguer Fire just as one of dozens of new characters he introduced in that book.

Bridwell was also a continuity geek that influenced my thinking through his text features and scripting. But he was never heavy-handed about it. He could masterfully integrate his references into the mix without batting an eye. Witness, for example, the early issue of Super Friends that namechecks Zatanna, one of the members of the Secret Six, the alter ego of the Harvey Comics heroine Black Cat, and Siegel and Shuster's largely forgotten hero Funnyman. Or how about the time when the villain Kingslayer petulantly asked in another SF tale about the whereabouts of the "Latverian" monarch? E.N.B. knew when to let that stuff go in service to the story though, and it's a lesson I sort of wish I had picked up better in those more innocent times.

In addition to being a writer and historian, E. Nelson Bridwell was a collector and fan. The University of Tulsa is the current home of the E. Nelson Bridwell collection. I have to tell you, when I look over that list, all I can think is that it is probably only the tip of the iceberg. I bet the man had an even more extensive collection than that when he left us in 1987. At least that stuff has found a good home where it can be appreciated.

You can read more about Mr. Bridwell at this link. It seems he was inducted into the Oklahoma Cartoonists Hall of Fame. That's a fitting tribute to his work and legacy, even though I can't recall seeing a single published piece of artwork from him. His writing, his knowledge, and his imagination more than made up for it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's Synthetic! It's A Platypus!

It's Synthetic Platypus! Yes, Synthetic Platypus, as seen on TV! Act now, supplies are limited! Operators are standing by!

...Or maybe not. You can't fault the enthusiasm of my hyperbole, though!

"Synthetic Platypus" is actually the branding created by my pal Sara for her Internet presence. I'm happy to report that I was there when that name was coined, though the extent of MY contribution was saying, "Ooooh, I like that one!" Synthetic Platypus was originally conceived as being a fanzine, but has since been co-opted to be the name for Sara's online literary and artistic ventures. Though, knowing her, I wouldn't bet against it being represented with real world products one day.

Sara has a fun and interesting perspective, and I've always found her writing worth reading. You can do that too, if you'll only check out the Synthetic Platypus Blog. It is one of my favorite destinations when the lady can steal away the time to update it. Among recent posts of special interest are her discussions (with copious photos!) of gallery shows Bigger Than You and Chuck Jones : An Animated Life.

Synthetic Platypus is, however, a two-pronged Internet juggernaut. You should ALSO hie yourself over to the Synthetic Platypus Art Page. Sara is currently involved in a project in which she is creating pieces based on the challenges in Ethan Bodnar's Creative Grab Bag: Inspiring Challenges for Artists, Illustrators and Designers. The results have been fascinating, and not always expected. Here, I'll show you a couple of them! (And if the embed doesn't display properly, my apologies to everyone -- especially Sara!) :

Grapheme Magazine by ~SyntheticPlatypus on deviantART

I love this piece, and I hope it finds a lot of love eventually. One typographic joke is hard enough, and this one is loaded with them! I would totally buy this magazine. Fantabulastic's Victoria by ~SyntheticPlatypus on deviantART

This "fake" CD cover is more eye-catching than a lot of authentic CD covers. It's a piece that goes off into new and interesting directions, and is loaded with a lot of hidden imagery.

Let's spread the word and get this lady some increased attention, folks. Exploring new vistas of creativity shouldn't go unnoticed!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My World : Third World Leader

Third World Leader

No one has ever learned the identity of the original Third World Leader. For all anyone knows, the current Third World Leader might be the original, rather than a successor. There have been a host of confirmed imposters, so there is no way to be certain who holds the "legitimate" claim to the title at any moment. Whoever he is, the Third World Leader is the guiding hand behind that nefarious network. As to the question of whether this is a good thing or not for Third World, well, that is a hotly-debated topic in certain quarters. Let's just point out that Third World still hasn't established that dictatorship yet.

At one point in its development, Third World was commanded by a head in a vat named "Mekron." Helluva colorful opening sentence, right? That was during the period when Captain Satellite and company were far more influenced by B-movie trappings than any comic books. I think those elements have reached their proper equilibrium by now.

I still see a lot fun potential in the head in a jar trope, and I wouldn't necessarily rule out my using it in the future in Cap's setting. It might even be Mekron! But I decided that this incarnation of Third World needed a leader who might be a smidgen more proactive, and one who could semi-believably have founded the group in the first place. Since the phrase is already commonplace, I settled on "Third World Leader" as his name.

Third World Leader's design is another example of reverse-engineering, in this case from the basic Third World agent. The steel mask idea originated from an older character design of mine. I'll own up to loving that sort of imagery. The fact that Third World Leader is at once reminiscent to both "The Man in the Iron Mask" and G.I. Joe's Destro fills me with delight.

In terms of his portrayal, Third World Leader is a spiritual brother of baddies like the Supreme Hydra and Cobra Commander. He wasn't originally meant to be smaller and slighter than average, but the final version of him came out looking that way. I think that's an idea that could have legs.