Category: Brainiac On Banjo

Brainiac On Banjo: Incels – America’s Pathetic Little Bitches

“Better look around you before you say you don’t care. Shut your fuckin’ mouth about the length of my hair. How would you survive if you were alive, shitty little person?” Frank Zappa, The Mother People (the censored verse)

We think of the U.S. Secret Service as the government agency that protects our federal leaders, “bona fide” presidential candidates, and members of their families. They also keep watch on various aspects of the American financial superstructure, including in cyberspace.

I await their move to shut down a con game so massive it makes the spirit of Charles Ponzi cross his legs in shame; that, of course, being cryptocurrency. Anybody who falls for that one deserves to be ripped off. But I digress.

It comes as a pleasant surprise that the Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) has taken on the threat of the incel, proving once again that Ronald Reagan was full of shit when he denounced federal employees. In case you don’t know or aren’t clear, “incel” stands for “involuntary celibate.” That’s a bunch of guys way too self-centered, insecure, and socially inept that they think that women have some sort of obligation to fuck them no matter how self-centered, insecure, socially inept, morally offensive and pathetically obnoxious they are. Incels think there’s some sort of contract that obligate women to put out for them.

This should not come as a surprise to those of us males who have attended even but a few pop culture conventions. This cannot come as a surprise to the vast majority of women.

As the Secret Service has shown us, these troglodytes can be violent and, at times, deadly.

The Guardian details several such incidents quoted in the NTAC report. This excerpt details one that illustrates incels are not simply frustrated middle-aged man-children with perpetual boners. “The report also cites the 2020 murder of the son of a US district court judge, Esther Salas, who was killed by 72-year-old Roy Den Hollander, a self-described ‘anti-feminist lawyer’ who believed ‘manhood is in serious jeopardy in America.’

Let us not forget that there is a portion of the American right, and yes, I’m talking to you, asshole Republican Senator from Missouri Josh Hawley, you fucking nincompoop, who believe that the great American manhood has been severely weakened by feminists, video games and online pornography. Nope. I hate to tell you, Josh, but that great American manhood has been severely weakened by a bunch of dangerous whiny little bitches just like you.

As Frank Zappa states above, incels are not paying attention. You don’t have to look like Bruce Wayne at the gym in order to get laid by a woman. You have to be a fairly reasonable human. If I can get laid, guys, you can get laid.

If it appears as though I consider these incels to be the most vile and contemptable form of morlocks, well, congratulations. Either your appreciation of the English language is spot on, or your online translator works like a charm.

“Lemme take a minute and tell you my plan, lemme take a minute and tell who I am. If it doesn’t show, think you better know, I’m another person.” Ibid.

Brainiac On Banjo: 16 Things I Do Not Understand

Brainiac On Banjo: 16 Things I Do Not Understand

1) Does reading Maus turn you into a Jew? Or a mouse? Or, perhaps, a Jewish mouse?

 

2) Will reading Gender Queer turn you LGBTQIA?

 

3) Does reading Captain Underpants automatically turn you into a snot-nosed kid?

 

4) Will reading Sex Criminals turn you into a sex criminal? Will you have to register?

 

5) Does reading the collective works of Howard Chaykin encourage you to have oral sex and wear really expensive nylons?

 

6) Has reading EC Comics encouraged you to behead someone? More than one?

 

7) Can reading Fahrenheit 451 turn you into Michael York?

 

8) Is Drama really worth the drama?

 

9) Is The Lord of the Rings really an anti-Christian cult?

 

10) Does reading V For Vendetta turn you into a January 6th conspirator?

 

11) Is there a graphic novel discussing critical race theory? Maybe a choose-your-path type adventure?

 

12) Will reading Peanuts make you a Great Pumpkin convert?

 

13) If naked mice are bad for children, what’s up with Minnie Mouse?

 

14) Does book burning hasten global warming? (Warning: Trick question!)

 

15) Will reading banned graphic novels turn you into a member of the Democratic Party? What about Octobriana?

 

16) What the hell are these right-wing morons really afraid of?

 

Brainiac On Banjo: Ku Klux Luthor For President?

I just returned from a week-long driving trip to Chicago, hanging out with friends while doing as little work as possible. I used to do this three times a tear, but I haven’t for the past 21 months because, you know, Covid.

The driving part is, for me, wonderfully relaxing. I control the music, I nosh on tons of life-saving unhealthy food, and I get to enjoy long internal conversations with the one person who totally gets me. This time, while plowing through north central Ohio, my thoughts drifted towards Lex Luthor and the frightening growth of the white separatist movements. Now, before you can scream “oxymoron” let me state internal conversations often are 100 miles short of reality. It’s my brain, damn it, and it’s time I indulged it.

Back in 1961, DC published what I believe was the first story titled “The Death of Superman.” It said so right on the cover, which kinda gave away the ending. It was an “imaginary story,” meaning it didn’t really happen. Compare this with Marvel’s later What If? stories, which I gather really did happen…. somewhere.

To illustrate this bit of comic book logic: DC did not publish a series of Death of Superman comics based upon this imaginary story — they rebooted the concept many, many times, often under the same title. On the other hand, this March Marvel will be coming out with a Captain Carter series based upon the first What If? teevee episode. Reality is what happens between the staples.

In this imaginary story, Lex Luthor is pardoned from all crimes after inventing a cure for cancer. That made sense to me at the time because I was barely 11 years old when I read it at the counter of Normie’s Deli while consuming a plate of french fries and a glass of Green River. It didn’t occur to me at the time how the hell Lex actually could come up with a cure for cancer while incarcerated. Penal reform, I guess.

Upon his release, Lex buckled down to his real plan: killing the Man of Steel. SPOILER ALERT: In this story, titled The Death of Superman, Lex Luthor’s nefarious scheme was successful.

Being in 21st century Ohio, I wondered what would have happened had Lex Luthor been a Trumpster white supremacist.

In the original story, Luthor was beloved for coming up with the cancer cure — perhaps it did not involve getting a vaccine injection. He lost that love after murdering Superman. Go figure. But in my more contemporary scenario, I suspect about one-third of Americans, those who are avowed Trumpster while supremacists, would be quite happy about Luthor’s newfound prerogative.

Undoubtably, Lex would be invited to guest on Steve Bannon’s podcast. He might get his own television show on one of the lying far-right wing fake news networks. He’d go on tour raising money for Trump. He could even become the new Rush Limbaugh.

Indeed, I suspect Donald Trump would pick Lex Luthor as his vice-presidential candidate in 2024. If you think about it, this might be a grave mistake on Trump’s part — with emphasis on the term “grave.”

I mean, WTF, Lex just killed that not-white alien Superman. Killing anybody else would be no big deal. Luthor could be a better Trumpster than Trump himself.

We would have President Lex Luthor which, as I recall, happened in DC’s not-imaginary stories. These sagas, by definition, really happened.

It doesn’t take a political wag to note the Republican party would be fine with this. They are fine with the invasion of the Capitol building by violent insurrectionists, they care fine with eliminating, oh, school programs, health programs, social security, Medicare, abortion, and poverty programs in order to give the wealthiest of the wealthy another cut in the taxes they don’t pay anyway. That’s how these bastards roll.

The man who edited that original Death of Superman, Mort Weisinger, was a friend (of sorts) of the Kennedy administration, so perhaps he would not have green-lit this saga. But that way then.

This is now, and that story doesn’t seem so extreme today.

Brainiac On Banjo: Make Room! Make Room!

There once was a science fiction writer named Harry Harrison. He is best known as the author of “Make Room, Make Room,” which was turned into the 1973 movie Soylent Green, starring Edward G. Robinson, Leigh Taylor-Young, and that guy who says we can take his gun out of his cold dead hands now.

The story was about overpopulation and how there was no space for anybody to live, eat or, ironically, procreate. It was set in 2022. That’s 22 days from now.

Harrison also was a comic book and comic strip writer, and much of his artwork – for EC Comics and others – was inked by Wally Wood. He wrote the Flash Gordon comic strip in the 1950s and his s-f novel, The Stainless Steel Rat, was adapted into a long running series in the UK weekly comics 2000 AD.

I agree with his story’s message. In fact, I do not believe we have a shortage of any natural resources per se. I believe we have a massive overabundance of human beings. This planet wasn’t built to house and feed 7.9 billion people (as of November 2021). Indeed, the number of humans who stalk the Earth octupled in the past 200 years. Make room, indeed. And never forget: soylent green is people.

Not everybody agrees with me. For example, take Elon Musk, a man who has been dramatically unable to pull his rabbit out of his hat.

Yes, he’s the guy behind the Tesla, the wonderfully named, vastly overpriced and pathetically underperforming wondercar that is supposed to eliminate the need for both gasoline and drivers. Someday it might do that, maybe, perhaps… but thus far it is one of the most recalled automobiles of this century. Thus far, his six-figure four-wheeler has killed at least 221 people (source).

His SpaceX company appears to be more successful – unless you’re paying attention to Elon Musk. A couple weeks ago, he told his SpaceX employees that his Starship engine crisis is creating a “risk of bankruptcy.” Start updating your résumés, kids!

So it is with some amusement that I find Elon’s latest pronouncement that “so many people, including smart people, think that there are too many people in the world and think that the population is growing out of control. It’s completely the opposite. Please look at the numbers – if people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.” He said this at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council while he was promoting his newest baby, the Tesla Bot, which, according to Musk, is a “generalized substitute for human labor over time.”

More people but less human employment. This is a billionaire’s stickiest wet dream.

I should note Elon has six children. Well, at least he puts his, ahhh, dick where his mouth is.

The global birthrate fell by 4% in 2020, and it’s been slowly declining for the previous 60 years. To me, this sounds like great progress. Slow progress, to be sure, but slow enough to be in Elon’s comfort zone. Except it isn’t.

Musk also notes “it is important for us to die because most of the times, people don’t change their mind, they just die… If they live forever, then we might become a very ossified society where new ideas cannot succeed.”

I’m not exactly sure how he came to this conclusion as it’s not backed by anybody’s experience, but I can make an educated guess as to which orifice had incubated his speculation.

Bottom line: P.T. Burnum put on a better show.

Brainiac On Banjo: How Many Batmans Does It Take To Screw Up A Catalog?

BATMAN. Don’t stop dancin’. Do it, do it, do it, do it. BATMAN, BATMAN, BATMAN. Don’t stop, don’t stop. Let’s do it. Don’t stop dancin’. Let’s do it, BATMAN. Let’s do it, BATMAN. Don’t stop dancin’. Don’t stop dancin’. No, damn it! Turn the music back up! You son of a bitch! – Batdance, written by Prince, 1989.

Between 1960 and 1993, Harvey Comics published (I could have ended the sentence right there) some 48 different Richie Rich titles. Screw Casper and Hot Stuff, Richie was the big breadwinner in the Harvey household. Whereas I’ve got way too short an attention span to plot this out on a spreadsheet, a great great many were released at the same time, over the same two-month publishing cycle.

Pumping out Richie stories was a tonnage operation because Richie Rich was that successful. It’s not as though most titles had an aura of individuality – aside from Richie Rich and Casper; that series was a lot of fun and, for that matter, pretty weird. Harvey Comics published whatever the newsstand market could bare at that time. I highly doubt anybody at Harvey ever said “Shit! Richie Rich $ucce$$ isn’t selling, so let’s hurry up and replace it with Richie Rich Gems.”

Artist Frank Brunner once quipped they needed a title called “Richie Rich’s Tax Shelters.”

Which brings us to the matter of Batman.

Take a look at DC’s product catalog for January 2022. The catalog is called DC Connect and it’s available at most comics shops and maybe your more refined pet shops and hardware stores. Count the number of different Batman titles. I’m including all the titles that prominently feature members of the Batman Family – including The Joker. Each of their Batteam books – Robins, Batgirls – count, as do those other teams that put a Bat on the cover. I’ll wait.

If my math is correct (and I’ve only got so many fingers and toes) DC Comics is releasing 31 different “Batman” comics titles in January 2022 alone. That’s roughly two-thirds the number of different Richie Rich titles Harvey Comics published over 33 years, but I repeat, DC is doing this in just one month.

Should you want to purchase them all – which will make your friendly neighborhood comics retailer very happy – all you’ll need is $352.72. Personally, I’d ask for a discount, but not all comics shops can afford to do that.

Apples to apples, in constant dollars using 1993 as our vanishing point, 352.72 dollars right now would have only cost you 184.27 dollars in 1993. But given this whole supply-and demand COVID inflation thing going on, you might want avoid stalling your purchase.

Can the marketplace handle 31 different Batman comics titles for the cumulative price of $352.72? Ask me again in, say, February. Take comfort in the fact that Batman is not appearing in The Peacemaker teevee series. Batman completists wouldn’t be able to make their rent.

Richie Rich has been unemployed these past several decades, although, really, when did he ever hold down a real job? Nonetheless, he’s got the money to go into any business he might like. Please note the Rich Family does not seem to be lining up to buy DC Comics.

Come to think of it, I might ask “Would Richie Rich spend all that money on a 10-minute ego trip to inner-most outer space? The answer is “I have no doubt he already did.”

Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!

Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!

Every year many bleeding hearts tiptoe through their keyboards decrying the spread of book banning in state and local schools and libraries. And by “every year,” I mean “well, actually, every couple of days.”

As we’ve seen this month, a huge part of the Virginia gubernatorial race focused on the horrific nightmares evoked from the work of author Toni Morrison. She was the winner of the American Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the National Humanities Medal, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and over 100 other A list awards. Lord knows, that’s not the type of person whose work you’d want in your library, is it?

Nazis doing what Nazis do.

These lists often come out of Texas because their school library habits influence purchasing patterns all over this bigoted nation… and that’s because, when it comes to electing government officials, Texas is to fascism what Florida is to prostitution.

Therefore, every year I find myself dancing across my own keyboard bitching about censorship. Technically, that word only applies to works banned by a government, so it certainly applies here. But in a democracy – yeah, I know; stop laughing! – the government acts in the name of the people, so I subscribe to the overreaching definition of that term. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!”

Brainiac on Banjo: At Last!

Brainiac on Banjo: At Last!

You might have heard a soft chuckling sound wafting in the breeze a couple days ago. That would be me.

Last Monday, the staff at Image Comics voted to form a labor union – to be specific, the Comic Book Workers United. Their statement leads with the following:

For years, comics publishing workers have watched our professional efforts support creators and delight readers. Sadly, we have also watched that same labor be taken for granted at best and exploited at worst. Keeping our heads above water was the new normal before the pandemic and since its onset we have been expected to take on even larger workloads with fewer resources.

Our workforce, and the comic book and publishing industry as a whole, is overtaxed and undervalued. This is detrimental not only to general staff but also to the creators we are paid to serve and the audiences they in turn work to entertain. Our labor is integral to the comic book industry. It requires specialized skills, dedication, and makes quality publishing possible. We love what we do. But loving what you do doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t ask for improvements to your working conditions. It is with this in mind and with great hope for the future of Image Comics and the comic book industry itself that we announce our intent to form a union and request voluntary recognition. Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo: At Last!”

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?

Errant words of wisdom from your humble correspondent.

Wasteland Forever!

Those of you who are regular denizens of this etherspace are well-familiar with the Heather Ross’s documentary about our little Wasteland comic book, For Madmen Only – The Stories of Del Close. This magnificent puppy features Del and (to name but a few) Kim Howard Johnson, Adam McKay, Tim Meadows, Susan Messing, Alan Meyerson, Bob Odenkirk, John Ostrander, Patton Oswalt, Jason Sudekis, Dave Thomas, James Urbaniak, Michaela Watkins, George Wendt, and your aforementioned humble correspondent. Indeed, I’m in it a lot – as myself, and I’m played by Matt Walsh in the flashback scenes. I can appreciate any consternation regarding my appearances, but Matt is fantastic and I want to be just like him if I grow up.

It’s been streaming for several weeks on several services, and now you lucky devils can buy your own copy on DVD/Blu-Ray so that you can continue to appreciate the film when that horrible day comes when For Madmen Only is no longer streaming. Seriously.

I’m very proud of being involved in this, and I’m very proud of you for buying it.

More Than Just Sports and Poe

The Hawkman panel at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021: Bob Harrison, Jerry Ordway, Robert Venditti, Jack C. Harris & Mike Gold.

Speaking of those of you who are regular denizens of this etherspace – get a life, folks – you may recall that my favorite of the larger long-form comic book conventions is the Baltimore Comic-Con, not just because it’s well-run, great fun, and features a lot of my friends, but because it is one of the very few larger long-form comic book conventions that actually is about “comic books.” Go know, right?

Well, after skipping last year’s show due to the plague and those virulent death-seekers who refuse to take precautions, the 2021 Baltimore Comic-Con resumed last weekend and it was typically terrific. Our pal and Pop Culture Squad comrade Bob Harrison hosted a bunch of panels, Gene Ha copped the Hero Initiative’s Humanitarian of the Year award, cosplay was more varied, and the living was easy.

But something happened to me on my way into the show on Sunday. A couple very nice people accosted me and stuck a needle in my arm. Yup, I got my official Fuck Covid booster shot – with my permission, although those without a vax card couldn’t get in in the first place. That is the best thing that ever happened to me at a comic book show, at least with my clothes on, and I thank promoter Marc Nathan and his crew and the Maryland Department of Benevolent Jabbing for making me a less infectious person. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?”

Brainiac On Banjo: Truth, Justice, and All That Jazz

“Faster than an airplane, more powerful than a locomotive, impervious to bullets. ‘Up in the sky – look!’ ‘It’s a giant bird.’ ‘It’s a plane.’ ‘It’s Superman!’ And now, Superman – a being no larger than an ordinary man but possessed of powers and abilities never before realized on Earth: Able to leap into the air an eighth of a mile at a single bound, hurtle a 20-story building with ease, race a high-powered bullet to its target, lift tremendous weights and rend solid steel in his bare hands as though it were paper. Superman – a strange visitor from a distant planet: champion of the oppressed, physical marvel extraordinary who has sworn to devote his existence on Earth to helping those in need.” – written by Allen Ducovny and Robert Joffe Maxwell for the original Superman radio pilot, 1939.

The above proclamation was not original to the Superman comic books or the newspaper comic strip. It was streamlined, and the phrase “Truth, Justice and the American Way” was dramatically appended to the opening as President Roosevelt had started making his plans to dive head-first into World War II. It was also used in the opening to the Fleisher/Paramount Superman cartoons, and later the syndicated 1950s Superman television series.

“Truth, Justice and the American Way” is not in the U.S. constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or as far as I can tell, the bible of any “major” religion. It is and always has been a marketing slogan, not unlike Fisk Tires’ “Time To Re-Tire.”

Why should he? Superman, long acknowledged to be a world citizen, is not a native born American and never had been. He has acknowledged that being an alien he could not lawfully become president. If he wanted to cheat, he probably could have pulled off running as “Clark Kent” (not his real name), as long as nobody demanded to see his birth certificate. With a raised seal, of course.

Superman is an illegal alien. A dreamer who landed without government permission or knowledge in Kansas U.S.A. without any parents and was seized by a then-elderly heterosexual white married couple. We assume somewhere along the line “Clark Kent” probably forged those credentials he would need to go to school, get a driver’s license and a passport, get married, and so on.

So, of course, this native Kryptonian dropping the “American Way” tagline drove the Rabid Right completely around the bend. Because, you know, he’s posed with the American flag and stuff.

The new phrase, “Truth, Justice and A Better Tomorrow,” would sound great opening a network newscast, unless that network isn’t Fox, Newsmax, OAN or their fellow reality-challenged microcephalic internet rackets. The Rabid Right lost their collective mind. Again.

As I said in this space last week, I enjoy watching the Rabid Right lose its shit. They’re almost as fantastic at that as they are lying through their teeth and causing widespread death. First Superman Son of Superman is revealed to be bisexual, and now, about a week later, he’s an optimistic citizen of the multiverse who is absolutely not working to further any American interests per se. So if the entire idea is to keep the Right reflexively flinching, then right on, DC Comics!

(Mike Gold and Bob Harrison will be representing Pop Culture Squad at this weekend’s the Baltimore Comic-Con, October 22 through 24, at — of all places — the Baltimore Convention Center, the one in Maryland. Evidently, Mister Gold will be on separate panels about First Comics and Hawkman, both hosted by Mister Harrison. We smell a fix…)

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman and the Dingleberries of Society!

Number forty-seven said to number three: You’re the cutest jailbird I ever did see. I sure would be delighted with your company, Come on and do the Jailhouse Rock with me. — “Jailhouse Rock, by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, 1957.

Bill Maher has a segment on his show called “I Don’t Know It For a Fact, I Just Know It’s True.” Here’s my contribution.

The smaller your mind, the more likely it is to fall out your nose. This is why you’re called “blowhards.”

Case in point: the pathetically predictable response to Jon Kent’s coming out as bisexual. You’d think they discovered a couple dozen missing votes for Trump.

Ignoring the facts that Jon Kent is a fictional character, that the audience is familiar with the concept of bisexuality and aren’t likely to “convert” anybody just because a comic book character kissed a member of his own sex, and that the only thing that noticeably drives comic book sales is its perceived collectability, it’s kind of amazing that so many fools totally lost their little minds when they heard this story.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy watching people like Tucker Carlson go apeshit over “dog bites man” stories, although it’s becoming as boring as it has been predictable. If they think this is a recruitment issue for the White supremacists that are in our face 24/7, they’re preaching to their own choir. To be fair, these self-absorbed dingleberries of society are indeed the only ones who would listen.

Since I love tossing rock lyrics around, let me assure you Pete Townshend was right. “This is no social crisis. Just another tricky day. You’ll get through.” I don’t think Warner Media execs or even AT&T stockholders will, to quote Flo and Eddie, “pull their heads out of their own puke” over this one. It won’t kill their Discovery deal.

These toadlickers are still pissed that Heimdall has been played by a Black man in the Marvel movies for a bit more than a decade. To them, that’s heresy… which is weird, as American White supremacy is a movement that appears to mostly attract Christians (but no, not the other way around; give me a break). However, every controversy is fraught with comedic potential: I explain to these numbskulls that, given the turf and the times, Jesus Christ absolutely had to be Black — so why not Heimdall? Then I watch the nuclear cloud blow the top off of their bald, teensy brain pans.

Yet, somehow, these same neverlaids get stimulated by Joan Jett’s cover version of “Crimson and Clover.”

My advice to Jon Kent, who I remind you is a fictional character, is to fly above the bullshit. You know these psychopaths are simply jealous.

And, yes, my tighty-Whities. I did start this one with a Bill Maher reference just to piss you off. Like I said, you’re pathetically predictable.

(Mike Gold will be joining our own Bob Harrison as guests at the Baltimore Comic-Con, October 22 through 24, at — go know — the Baltimore Convention Center. If you would like to discuss the above words of wisdom, remember: you’ll be in public, even if you’re wearing a mask.)