Weird Scenes #124: Smoke on the Rotter

Weird Scenes #124: Smoke on the Rotter

“Just ‘cause somebody can’t handle anything don’t mean we have to pay for their pain / Nicotine, caffeine, chainsaws and guns gotta, make your own regulations / Psychedelic mushrooms good for your mind. If you’re ready to use ‘em, then ya outta try ‘em / How did freedom mess up your life? Decide for yourself what’s wrong and what’s right.” Mojo Nixon, Legalize It!, 1985

Yeah, I’m gonna bray about weed again… and I’m gonna launch my first verbal attack on our present president. You know, Joe Biden. Nice guy, but…

As you read this, dozens if not hundreds of White House staffers have been “suspended, asked to resign, or placed in a remote work program due to past marijuana use,” according to the Daily Beast. Five such staffers have been fired already.

Well, that’s liberalism for you.

Personally, I would be inclined to think that any potential White House staffers who haven’t smoked weed – first or second hand – or haven’t tried an edible or had a medical condition that warrants such use has been living under a rock and therefore has been too isolated to function properly in the job.

Or, perhaps, that cat is simply lying. This might very well be the point. If you’re working at the White House lying is pretty much in the job description.

According to the Daily Beast article, “For the FBI, an applicant can’t have used marijuana in the past three years; at the NSA, it’s only one. The White House … (states) that as long as past use was ‘limited’ and the candidate wasn’t pursuing a position that required a security clearance, past use may be excused.”

But if you’ve toked around a bit, for whatever reason, at any time, the Biden White House thinks you are a security risk. You can put away as much alcohol as you want, but if you’re doing your job and you don’t use politically incorrect language, they’re completely fine that you won’t blab our secrets to Putin.

This is not the matter of following a law that can’t get through the RepubilQan filibuster. As we have seen during the previous administration, the president has the final word on who gets a security clearance.

Let us also note that Joe Biden has appointed Dr. Rahul Gupta as his Drug Czar, a.k.a. the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Gupta was public health commissioner in West Virginia from 2015 to 2018. He ripped apart that state’s needle exchange program, showing a lack of concern about HIV and hepatitis. This is the moral position known as “Shoot up and die, creep!”

By the way, West Virginia is a national leader in drug overdose deaths, so maybe his policy wasn’t exactly a “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you” kind of moment. According to Filter Magazine “West Virginia also had the highest rate of hepatitis C infections in 2015. Today, West Virginia is experiencing multiple HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks.” Continue reading “Weird Scenes #124: Smoke on the Rotter”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #072: The Good, The Bad, and the Synder Cut

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #072: The Good, The Bad, and the Synder Cut

I wanted to extol the virtues of Wanda Vision this week. Truly. I wanted to expound and extrapolate vividly how Marvel was able to slow down their relentless phase-after-phase serial storytelling to truly stop and explore the power of grief in the superhuman world. It was 9 episodes of brilliance capped off with a decent-if-by-the-numbers finish. Ultimately though, I made the mistake of following the zeitgeist over the last two nights and watched Justice League, as envisioned by its original helmsman, Zack Snyder. And now, all I desire to share… is my snark and malaise. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #072: The Good, The Bad, and the Synder Cut”

Join Host Bob Harrison for a Creator Owned Comic Panel Now

Join Host Bob Harrison for a Creator Owned Comic Panel Now

Our own Bob Harrison will be hosting a virtual panel from the Gem City Comic Con virtual event on Sunday 3/21/2021 at 2:15. Guests include comic creators: Thom Zahler, Christy Blanch, Paul Storrie, Tony Fleecs, and Emily Whitten.

The panel is being broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube.

You can find the Facebook page for the Con here:

https://www.facebook.com/GCCCON

The YouTube broadcast is below:

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Part 2 – Writers

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Part 2 – Writers

This is the second chapter in our celebration of women in comics history.  In this post we will highlight a fantastic group of writers that made lasting impacts on the industry.

This category has been one of the most difficult to fill. While some of the women listed in Part 1 of this series were cartoonists in that they both wrote and drew their stories, the list of impactful full-time writers before 1990 is short, and to be truthful, most of these women started their careers as editors.  It is disappointing to see the paucity of women writers in some of the formative years of comics creating.

I will say that the last two decades have seen a substantial rise in women writers in comics. But that rise is of course relative when you look at how bad it has been. While more women are getting work writing, recognition still has some territory to gain. There have been fifteen people in the last thirty-two years who have received Eisner Awards for Best Writer. Only two of them were women, and they were only in the last three years.

Well, let’s celebrate some amazing writing. The women listed below in alphabetical order created some amazing stories:


Toni Blum

Born Audrey Anthony Blum, Toni Blum, was one of the very few women comic writers in the golden age. She worked the Eisner-Iger Studio which produced stories for Quality Comics and National Allied Publications. She wrote scripts for golden age characters Dollman, Black Condor, The Ray, Uncle Sam, and more. She even ghost-wrote stories of The Spirit for Will Eisner. One of the remarkable aspects of Blum’s career is that she used over a dozen pseudonyms and all of them were either gender obscured or outright masculine. Even her most commonly referred to professional name is gender blind adaptation of her middle name. She was the only woman working in her office and contributed in important ways to some of the biggest comic characters of her time.


Mary Jo Duffy

As a writer for Marvel Comics in the 1980s, Mary Jo Duffy is responsible for some well-known long runs of stories. She wrote Power Man and oversaw the transition of the title to Power-Man and Iron Fist. She had a memorable run on the Marvel Star Wars series and wrote the Fallen Angels mini-series spinoff of New Mutants. In the 1990s she wrote the first fourteen issues of the first ongoing series for DC’s Catwoman. By the mid-2000s, Duffy had retired from comics writing. She began her career as an assistant editor for Marvel and often went by Jo Duffy in credits. Her work is spread across dozens of titles in the 80s and 90s and made an impact.


Barbara Kesel

Barbara Kesel has had an interesting career arc in comics. Her first freelance writing work, a Batgirl backup story, was published when she was twenty-two. She later became a full-time staff editor at DC Comics and then transitioned back to writing. She helped create Dawn Granger as the new Dove and wrote the “last Batgirl” story as DC retired Barbara Gordon from the cowl for a long time. She has also had stories published by Archia, CrossGen, Dark Horse Comics, Image, IDW, and more. She has gone by her birth name Barbara J. Randall at times earlier in her career. Kesel is known to be a staunch defender of women’s rights in comics and featured strong and fully formed women characters in her writing. She continues to write and create interesting stories to this day. Continue reading “Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Part 2 – Writers”

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month

Thanks to several decades of following Trina Robbins’ research, I’ve been a Tarpé Mills fan since… well, probably since dinosaurs started making oil.

Mills is best known as the creator/writer/artist of the costumed newspaper comic strip hero Miss Fury (1941 – 1949), which, for the record, debuted six months before Wonder Woman. But prior to that, she worked for a variety of neophyte comic book publishers, creating such features as Diana Deane / White Goddess (1936), Devil’s Dust, The Cat Man, Daredevil Barry Finn (1939), and The Purple Zombie (1940). It is this latter creation that now brings my fingers to the keyboard.

In addition to my affection for Mills’ work, I have a serious thing for stories that are insanely weird and bizarre. The Purple Zombie was so weird it makes Herbie The Fat Fury look like Mark Trail.

Here’s the short version: a pair of scientists come up with a way to create zombies, but one is an evil scientist and the other wants it to be used for the betterment of humanity. Zombies For Peace! Right on! The bad guy does not kill the good guy, although he does try. He gets killed in the process and P.Z. divines the good guy as his master. So, the good guy drafts P.Z. into joining the 1940 anti-fascist movement which, at the time, was pretty much limited to fighting Nazis and the Spanish civil war. By the way, in Spain the American antifa was called “The Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #108: The Purple Zombie! – Women’s History Month”

With Further Ado #138: Volume Four of Sex and Horror

With Further Ado #138: Volume Four of Sex and Horror

You’d think for St. Patrick’s Day I’d find a way to sing the praises of my Irish heritage with some pop culture twist. Well, I hope you all enjoy the holiday today and find some way to enjoy green beer and corned beef.

But today I am celebrating the other, more dominant side of my ethnic heritage. I’m mostly Italian. So instead let me laud the praises of Korero Press’ fourth volume in their Sex and Horror series.

As a bit of background, many Italian comics aren’t anything like domestic (U.S.) comics. During the U.S. Silver and early Bronze Ages (in the 60s and 70s), Italy’s fumetti sexy comics were all the rage. They typically showcased lurid and suggestive covers and then black and white interior stories.

To me, they all seemed one step over from those scary Hammer Films of the day. That mix of scary stuff with attractive women that serves to titillate and repulse the viewer all at once.  The brilliant part is that they used magnificently skillful artists.

The British Publisher Korero Press kicked of this  series with a volume devoted to Emanuele Taglietti. Like the smell of red sauce wafting from your favorite Italian Restaurant – Korero has been beckoning me to come back for more.

This volume is a little different. Instead of focusing on just one artist, in this one we’re exposed to (emphasis on exposed) so many skillful artists:

  • Alessandro Biffignandi and his covers for Messalina, la dea dell’amore (Messalina, the Goddess of Love) follows the ancient adventures of a Roman Empress.
  • Il Vampiro Presenta ran for 123 issues, and features covers by Fernando Carcupino and Karel Thole.
  • Fradiavolo (Brother Devil) , subtitled Storie di Briganti (Tales of the Brigands) showcases the art of Eros Kara Pintor.

These illustrations are fantastic in the classic sense of the word, but they aren’t for the squeamish. In the old days, I’d advise you to hide this book if your mother came for a visit.

But still – it’s deliciously repugnant fun and yet another chapter of Geek Culture to dive into and learn about.

Brainiac On Banjo #107: This Is It! The Knight of Knights!

Brainiac On Banjo #107: This Is It! The Knight of Knights!

“Overture, curtains, lights / This is it, the night of nights / No more rehearsing and nursing a part / We know every part by heart / Overture, curtains, lights / This is it, you’ll hit the heights / And oh what heights we’ll hit / On with the show this is it / Tonight what heights we’ll hit / On with the show this is it.” This Is It, Theme from The Bugs Bunny Show, 1960, by Jerry Livingston and Mack David

Oh, boy! Those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to see Zack Snyder’s “version” of the “original” Justice League movie can thank your lucky stars for the Covid quarantine. Otherwise, it might be difficult to find 242 consecutive minutes to watch the thing uninterrupted… although your bladder might have other ideas.

In the spirit of that observation, the question is “Is Zack Snyder’s “version” of the “original” Justice League movie worth the additional bladder control?

Snyder: No, really! Look! Up in the sky!

You might have seen this production by now. Seeing that I’m writing this yesterday and I was Covided out of any screening, I have not. I probably will – for several nonsensical reasons. First is that I like Darkseid and even the mandatory guest appearance of the Joker doesn’t countermand that. Second, someday I’ll see humans once again and I like offering an informed opinion. Third, I remind myself that even in the worst possible case I do slow down at Gaper’s Blocks to see the accident that has reduced my life to still another challenge of bladder control.

I have read several reviews from those who were so committed to their jobs they risked life and limb to see a screening. I figure that’s the least I can do. I know it’s the least I’m going to do. Many note that this movie follows nicely in Snyder’s DC chain of duels, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Well, that’s nice but in my book, it’s hardly a compliment. There are things I like about Man of Steel, but neither are good movies according to my personal taste. I came to the opinion after watching Watchmen – also directed by Zack Snyder – that superhero movies are best directed by people who seem to enjoy the superhero milieu.

This is the man who, after making Watchmen, said “if Superman really existed, he’d grab all the world leaders together in a room and say, ‘Behave or I’ll kill you.’” Yup, Zack misses the point of the whole thing.

I have read even more reviews that state, quite early on, this is a movie superior to the version that escaped to the theaters a few years ago. Again, to me, this is not praise. Offhand, I can only think of two movies I’ve seen that are worse than Justice League – The Release Cut, and those are Skidoo and Myra Breckenridge.

Please note I did not say Plan Nine From Outer Space. That was a more enjoyable experience than Justice League – The Release Cut. Not only did I want my money back, but I also wanted them to pay me for my time, my gasoline, and my popcorn. To be fair, the popcorn was far better than this insult to my DNA.

By and large, those reviewers who did not compare Snyder’s marathon to its disgusting predecessor thought the movie to be… okay. Not great, not horrible. “Okay” is a word commonly used in summing up many of the DCU films of the past decade or so.

I am concerned that Leonard Cohen’s Halleluiah was deployed as a theme song within the film. Yeah, that’s gotta be the feel-good tune of the 20th century. Perhaps suicide hotlines should be alerted for a potential upsurge in business.

OK. Now that I’ve got all that out of my system, I’m ready to see Zack Snyder’s “version” of the “original” Justice League movie with a propped-open mind. If it’s at least as good as the 1997 movie, I’ll be… vaguely content. As Mel Brooks sang, “Hope for the best…”

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Artists and Cartoonists

Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Artists and Cartoonists

We are well into March and this year is the thirty-fourth annual celebration of Women’s History Month. It is supposed to be a time to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Since one of the focuses of Pop Culture Squad is to promote inclusion and diversity, we are taking this opportunity to remember the impact that women creators and professionals have had in the comics industry.

In an industry dominated, in the past and present, by men, it is critical to acknowledge the work that was done by women who brought innovation to the industry and joy to readers for generations. We are focusing on women whose careers in comics began prior to the 1990s. Many of the women working in comics today have been inspired by these women who came before them.

In the first part of this series, we will start out with recognizing the important contributions of women artists and cartoonists and the subsequent chapters will cover professionals from other disciplines in comic creating.  Many, if not all, of the women on this list faced difficulty in finding work and getting published in comics at all. However, the industry is better for their perseverance. The fantastic women creators below are listed alphabetically:


June Brigman

Artist June Brigman began her professional comics career by co-creating Power Pack with Louise Simonson for Marvel Comics. She also penciled Supergirl for DC Comics among other titles. June took over for Ramona Fradon as the artist on Brenda Starr from 1995 until its end.  She was a prolific artist in comics books before taking on the Brenda Starr responsibilities. One of the most important aspects of June Brigman’s career is her work as an educator.  She has taught art at the Kubert School and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). There are bunches of current comic professionals who credit her with helping them develop their craft. She currently teaches at Kennesaw State University‘s School of Art and Design, and is the penciller on Ahoy Comics’ Captain Ginger.

 


Colleen Doran

Colleen Doran is a write/artist most notably recognized for her creator owned space fantasy A Distant Soil. A Distant Soil is often hailed as a significant influence for current comic storytellers. She began to get paid work at a very early age and has continued a long career that has garnered multiple awards including an Eisner Award last year for her collaboration on Snow Glass Apples with Neil Gaiman. Colleen has worked for Marvel, DC Comics, Image, Dark Horse and others. Some of her other most well know works include stints on Sandman, Shade, the Changing Man, Valor, and the graphic novel Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee.  She is a fierce defender of artist and creator rights and is actively sharing the knowledge that she has acquired as a woman in the comics industry. Continue reading “Celebrating Women’s History Month Comic Edition: Artists and Cartoonists”

DC Comics Announces a 80-Page Comic Anthology for Pride Month in June

DC Comics Announces a 80-Page Comic Anthology for Pride Month in June

DC Comics has announced that it will be publishing an anthology of comic stories focusing on LGBTQIA+ characters in time for Pride Month this June. The anthology titled DC Pride #1 will be 80 pages and be released on June 8, 2021.

Characters spotlighted in the book will include: Batwoman, Alan Scott, Midnighter and Apollo, Poison Ivy, and more. Writers on the stories include James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Danny Lore, Vita Ayala, and Sina Grace, and fan favorite artists on the project include: Amy Reeder, Stephen Byrne, Klaus Janson, Kris Anka, Nick Robles, and more.

The full list of stories and creative teams are:

  • Batwoman (Kate Kane) by James Tynion IV & Trung Le Nguyen
  • Poison Ivy & Harley Quinn by Mariko Tamaki & Amy Reeder
  • Midnighter by Steve Orlando & Stephen Byrne
  • Flash of Earth-11 (Jess Chambers) by Danny Lore & Lisa Sterle
  • Green Lantern (Alan Scott) & Obsidian by Sam Johns & Klaus Janson
  • Aqualad (Jackson Hyde) by Andrew Wheeler & Luciano Vecchio
  • Dreamer by Nicole Maines & Rachel Stott
  • Renee Montoya by Vita Ayala and Skylar Patridge
  • Pied Piper by Sina Grace, Ro Stein & Ted Brandt

There will also be Pride variant covers throughout the month of June on major titles featuring fantastic artists.

This DC Pride book follows up the May DC releases of Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0 and DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration #1. The commitment to celebrating inclusion and diversity is running strong at DC these days.

 

Source: https://www.dccomics.com/blog/2021/03/11/dc-announces-dc-pride-anthology-comic-to-arrive-june-8-and-more

Weird Scenes #123: The Royal Pudding

Weird Scenes #123: The Royal Pudding

Regular readers of this space (you might want to consider getting a real-life) will hardly be surprised to learn I am not a monarchist. To oversimplify just a little bit, I see the concept as another form of slavery. Indeed, my attitude towards the whole concept was best summed up by Dennis, in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

“Oh, very nice. King, eh! I expect you’ve got a palace and fine clothes and courtiers and plenty of food. And how d’you get that? By exploiting the workers! By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the social and economic differences in our society! If there’s EVER going to be any progress …”

Great Britain’s monarchy is rather pathetic. Outside of promoting tourism, it’s useless and intensely silly. Don’t get me wrong: I have great respect for Britain’s massive contributions to our popular culture and some of all that revolves around their monarchy, and of course that gives the proles something to bitch about. Just about the only good thing I can think of regarding this lingering malignancy is that it has contributed to our understanding of the pitfalls of inbreeding. How they keep their microcephalic numbers down to a minimum is quite a medical achievement, although perhaps a search of the Tower of London would be a wise idea.

©The Guardian

It is no surprise that the British royalty and the British press completely lost their minds over the interview Oprah Winfrey did this past weekend with the couple now called (perhaps in tribute to a different Monty Python routine) as Mister and Missus Harry and Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor. Oh, sure, it doesn’t amount to anything more than a mixture of racism, class superiority, and a distracting way to kill time as we wait for our Covid vaccine.

Among other things, the formerly royal couple noted the monarchy’s deep concern over the appearance of the then-unborn then-prince-to-be – and now, most assuredly, the forthcoming never-to-be-princess. In case you didn’t know, Mrs. Mountbatten-Windsor is half-Black. Or, actually, all-Black on her mother’s side. This means the children would be, assuming you don’t take a close look at the royal family tree (which is more of a shrub), at least one-quarter Black. So if Archie Mountbatten-Windsor popped out Black, or his sister pops out Black, the monarchy would be embarrassed. Humiliated, according to some.

It was decided Archie would not receive a royal title. I think he’s better off, and, really, should he defy the odds and have become King Archie, it would be difficult to make it through his coronation without giggling fits. But that’s not for me to say. Here in America, our executive management selection procedures are also influenced by anti-Black hysteria, so I’m not casting the first stone. But it’s understandable that his parents were royally pissed.

© Harpo Productions

The Brits do not like having their royals marry Americans. This is understandable only if you ignore the fact that, historically, the Brits have no problem with their royals marrying Europeans… and some of them didn’t even bother to learn English. So the idea of then-Prince Harry marrying a half-Black American woman who had the moxie to get pregnant – well, that just shattered the entire British empirical worldview.

This is bigotry of the highest level. And now the British press is screaming that such accusations are bullshit, that this is not racism in the least. But, you know, keep those damn mullatos away from the crown jewels.

I do not know if Mrs. Mountbatten-Windsor can vote in American elections, or if she will be able to in the future. Just the same, I do not recommend they try to register in Georgia.