Category: Brainiac On Banjo

Brainiac On Banjo: Cancel, Uncancel, Cancel, Repeat

Brainiac On Banjo: Cancel, Uncancel, Cancel, Repeat

“I blow thru here. The music goes ’round and around (whoa-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho) and it comes out here.” From The Music Goes ‘Round and ‘Round, written by Edward Farley and Mike Riley

It’s not that I have a long memory. I’ve simply lived through a lotta stuff and the goofy has a tendency to stick inside my brainpan.

For example, I remember when Marvel cancelled both Doctor Strange and She-Hulk. I also remember when Marvel cancelled both Doctor Strange and She-Hulk again. Indeed, I can remember a great many times Marvel cancelled both Doctor Strange and She-Hulk.

In fact, I could tell whenever Marvel felt competitive pressure from other publishers — and, yes, I was an “other publisher” so I have a few decades of skin in that game. The idea is, most readers will buy new Marvel titles before they would buy those of “the other outfits,” and they’d be sucking up all the consumer dollars like a cocaine freak at a new record release party.

It still isn’t bad logic, it’s just kinda dated and not as on-the-money as it used to be. Many readers have discovered there are a lot more comics out there that deserve both staples and their attention, and some of those books are absolutely great. Of course, your mileage may vary.

The big red flag on that operation had been Robert E. Howard’s Kull. Marvel would relaunch Kull every time they wanted more rack space. Think of Oreo releasing a Kull cookie; Mondelēz International’s lust for shelf space is gargantuan. But, hell, I dunno the rights situation regarding Kull these days. I know Conan the Character is up for grabs and I look forward to the day Erik Larsen teams the Savage Dragon with Captain Tootsie, the real Daredevil, and Conan the Axe-Dude. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Cancel, Uncancel, Cancel, Repeat”

Brainiac On Banjo: Who Dis?

Brainiac On Banjo: Who Dis?

Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? Who are you? Who, who, who, who? — From “Who Are You” written by Pete Townshend. Of The Who.

Truth be told, I don’t think there’s a single person who’s been cast as the lead in Doctor Who whose work in that role I have not enjoyed. Double-negative much?

The writing, howsoever, is another thing. And before you overstimulate your hackles, I am in awe of the writing on this season’s run thus far. I am also aware of the controversy that surrounds this season, but I am hardly in awe of the incredible stupidity and hatred within all too many of those in the ethersphere who pound on keyboards with anger from the safety of their internet-given anonymity.

(That by-line you see on everything I write? That’s not simply my ego shouting at you; that’s also my sense of responsibility that I’m shoving in your face.)

The previous Doctor was a woman and the little bitty incel community (if, indeed, living alone in your mother’s basement makes you part of a “community”) completely lost their minds. Their petty, hate-filled minds only can handle binary decisions: man or woman, war or peace, conservative or Communist. They cannot process anything in between. They are so black-and-white even Ayn Rand would tell them to grow up.

Some blame it on their religion, as if hatred of those who don’t smoke the same brand of cigarettes as you matters in any way. If your Supreme Being is a hater, exactly what is it about him that you find so goddamned supreme? And, yes, I said “him” specifically.

But actor Jodie Whittaker and the rest of her talented cast deserved better scripts. Sure, I’ve lived through worse writing, but many of the stories during her run seemed illogical, unhappy and unending. There were a number of good villains, but that has been the case in the most poorly written seasons as well. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Who Dis?”

Brainiac On Banjo: A Magical Event? Uhh… Bite Me?

Brainiac On Banjo: A Magical Event? Uhh… Bite Me?

They push you to the ground. You’re lying in the mud. They bite your neck, and they drink your blood. You’re lying there alone, trying to catch your breath, trying to cancel your appointment with the angel of death. — From Lesbian Vampyres From Outer Space, by The Scary Bitches.

In conversation earlier this week, I was asked if I could list all of the comics event series that are going on right now. I thought for a second, came up with two, realized there’s more, and then I let out a quiet “No. No, I cannot.”

Okay. I’ve bitched and moaned about the Comics Event Trap before and those feelings haven’t changed — events are not events when everything is an event, damnit! However, the fact that I am of an honest persuasion begs me to admit there is one such series going on right now that I not only remember, but I actually like.

It’s called “Blood Hunt,” it’s from Marvel, and it’s all about a massive vampire assault on this here planet. You might think that alone would turn me off — the whole global monster-takeover thing has been done to death, be it zombies, werewolves, vampires, or MAGA. In each (save for the last) the outcome is predetermined. Eventually, humans get their planet back.

But Blood Hunt seems to avoid other aspects of the Comics Event Trap that annoy me all the way to my keyboard. I say “seems” because we’re about a month into it and, like all of us in the commercial pop culture racket, there’s always the opportunity to screw the pooch. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: A Magical Event? Uhh… Bite Me?”

Brainiac On Banjo: Mike’s To-Do List!

Brainiac On Banjo: Mike’s To-Do List!

Well, I’ve been down to the river, I washed away my sins. Well, every day’s a nice, clean slate, for me to fuck it up again. Yeah, I’ll probably fuck it up again. — from “Do It Again”, written by John Shanks and Sheryl Crow.

I decided I should make a “To Do” list. I ain’t getting any younger and I ration out my brain power, so this seems like a good idea. So I’ll do just that, you know, instead of writing a real column this week.

To do:

Reread the first nine issues of the current JSA miniseries, just in case DC decides to finish publishing it before I die.

Ask Bill Sienkiewicz if the British government contacted him about doing over King Charles’ official portrait.

Do some genetic research. I am convinced that the lunch cook at Riverdale High School, Miss Beazley, is closely related to Popeye, the Sailor Man. Possibly separated at birth.

Check and see if Trump died yet.

Write a hopefully not-too-long piece about what an unbelievably great cartoonist Dick Briefer had been.

Order our Deadpool & Wolverine tickets.

Offer to comp Marty Scorsese on the Deadpool & Wolverine tickets. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Mike’s To-Do List!”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Worm Turns!

Brainiac On Banjo: The Worm Turns!

“I’m the air you breathe, food you eat, friends your greet in the sullen street,” from The Changeling, written by Jim Morrison.

If you’re a regular reader of Brainiac On Banjo, you might be aware of my affection for the computing products sold by Apple. Those buggers brought ease of use, intuition, logic, and a common interface to personal computing, advertising their stuff as “for the rest of us.”

On Super Bowl XVIII Sunday, 1984, Apple advertised their new Macintosh computers with a Ridley Scott commercial they paid to run only once, although the spot received a great deal of free play in news items and on talk shows. The theme was copped from George Orwell’s novel 1984, but it was a response to 1984 with an athlete destroying the soul-sucking machinery that was controlling the masses. Back then, computers did not control our lives the way they do now.

That was then.

Sadly, “artificial intelligence” is not as dangerous as the artificially intelligent. Programmers seem to be associating only with other programmers, creating things they can brag about over a beer. For a decade now Apple, the people who made computing personal and who coined that phrase have produced a growing amount of crappy whiz-bang and dysfunctional hoohah, both in its hardware and its software.

Apple upgrades their operating systems about every 10 weeks, but I no longer approach computing wide-eyed and eager to try the new stuff they’re giving me. Now my first thought is “what did these assholes break this time?” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Worm Turns!”

Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle

Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle

“Walking through forests of palm tree apartments. Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents. Down by the waterhole, drunk every Friday, eating their nuts, saving their raisins for Sunday. Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows; they’re fast but they’re lazy, and sleep in green meadows.” From “Bungle in the Jungle,” written by Chip Taylor, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Trevor Smith, Stig Anderson, Kamaal Fareed, Malik Taylor, Pras Michel, Forte, Benny Andersson, and Bjoern K Ulvaeus.

Let me start this week’s disquisition with an apology. A friend of mine sent me the above piece of art which he copped off the internet. He did not know who the artist was, but it so directly relates to my experiences as a comic book fan that I’m using it anyway, with sincere apologizes to its creator. It’s fantastic, it’s right on the money, and it directly addresses one of my major four-color bugaboos.

Outside of the obvious, which is clearly seen in the above purloined artwork, I never understood the massive appeal of jungle girl comics. By and large, these stories were exquisitely drawn but horribly overwritten. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of room to do brilliant heroic jungle action stories, and usually there was a male companion/savior involved. The late 40s / early 50s were like that. I guess women in four-color or full color needed saviors back then.

Only a handful of jungle heroes had “legs” — that is, the ability to successfully endure in their own title for a long period of time. There were a lot jungle women, mostly white, all in terrific shape and clothed in barnstorming costumes. Mind you, they all wore more than, say, Tarzan, but they wore it better.

These women were immortalized by a plethora of terrific artists such as Matt Baker, Frank Frazetta, Bill Everett, Bob Powell, George Evans, Lou Fine, Mort Meskin, Ralph Mayo, and Maurice Whitman… to name but a few. Clearly, these casting decisions made everybody quite happy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle”

Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…

Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…

“Trina wears her wampum beads, she fills her drawing book with line. Sewing lace on widow’s weeds, and filigree on leaf and vine.” from Ladies of the Canyon,” written by Joni Mitchell in tribute to Trina Robbins in 1970.

Much has been written about the passing of Trina Robbins, and I stand behind every syllable I’ve read. I will not be joining that informative chorus, but instead I will be discussing one of her final works, Dauntless Dames: High-Heeled Heroes of the Comics, published less than eight months ago.

This remarkably oversized tome, roughly the size of a tabloid newspaper, is from Fantagraphics Books’ Sunday Press imprint. Trina had a co-conspirator on this one, strip historian, connoisseur and Sunday Press honcho Peter Maresca. It is a true gem.

As the title suggests, Dauntless Dames puts the spotlight on a wide-variety of adventure comic strips that star women. Many, such as Tarpé Mills’ Miss Fury, Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr and Jackie Ormes’ Torchy Brown (later revived as Heartbeats) were produced by women — and women cartoonists were hardly a common sight before the Vietnam War. Male cartoonists who employed women heroes include Frank Godwin’s Connie, Russell Stamm’s Invisible Scarlet O’Neil, Bob Oksner’s Miss Cairo Jones, and Jack Sparling’s Claire Voyant… not to be confused with the current drag performer of the same name. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: History Never Ends, But…”

Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence

Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence

“And now you dare to look me in the eye. Those crocodile tears are what you cry. It’s a genuine problem, you won’t try to work it out at all, you just pass it by.” Substitute, written by Pete Townshend

Image created by Jay Vollmar for The Washington Post

I’m about to ask a serious question that should, and eventually will, become central to the artificial intelligence story. It has to do with the conflation of reality and the effluvia of computer-created content.

First, I need to report the backstory that generated my concerns. It’s a tough story revolving around one of the societal taboos that most certainly should be taboo — but it’s not the actions of the perpetrator with which I take issue. This is a closed case: the criminal pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

This is a discussion topic, not an analysis of disgusting acts that the defendant says he committed. I’m discussing a point that rests at a legal and a moral juncture, at least in my mind. Here’s the news story, as reported in The Guardian last Friday.

CONTENT WARNING –  A text version of a news report concerning images of child abuse follows.

Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Dues For Artificial Intelligence”

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

“It paints you with indifference, like a lady paints with rouge, and the worst of the worst, the most hated and cursed, is the one that we call Scrooge. Unkind as any, and the wrath of many, this is Ebenezer Scrooge.” – Scrooge, written by Paul Williams.

O.K. I’ll admit it. When I first saw a cover to Uncle Scrooge and The Infinity Dime, I thought it was a variant for one of the Avengers titles. Obviously, I was mistaken. It was one of 13 different covers — you tell me which is not the variant — of Marvel’s first-ever (kinda) produced Disney legacy characters comic book.

I doubt I would have guessed Jason Arron would be the writer. Not that I have a bad opinion of his work; quite the contrary. It just didn’t occur to be that a Punisher writer, not to mention Superman, The (various) Avengers, Batman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — among a treasure trove of others — would be the person to waddle in the palmate footpath of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

Back when I first entered the friendly confines of organized comic book fandom, and I use the word “organized” advisedly, it seemed as though there were four things “everybody” was collecting: Will Eisner’s The Spirit, EC Comics, All-Star Comics (the Justice Society of America, although no one would pass up those first two issues), and Carl Barks. Well, mostly Barks’ duck stories, although, again, nobody would pass up his Porky Pig. Barks’ nickname was “the good duck artist” because it took a while for us to learn the names of the rest of Disney’s flock of talent. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?”