Archive for the ‘comics’ category

National Comic Book Day!

September 25, 2022

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you that September 25th is National Comic Book Day! ‘Fess up now…how many of you grew up lingering over the pages of a comic book, and fantasizing about how great your life would be if you had a superpower…like, any one of them!

I had the rare kind of father who would actually bring me home a comic book or Mad Magazine occasionally when he came home from the store with the Sunday paper. It wasn’t just any comic book, either. Nope, it had to be a superhero one! My early years were spent paging through DC comics icons like Superman and The Green Lantern. Later, I would learn of the backstories of more obscure comic heroes like The Phantom and even Mandrake the Magician! “The Phantom is rough on roughnecks,” old jungle saying…

This led me down the rabbit hole in adulthood of discovering even more notable precursors such as The Shadow. When special effects reached a level where superhero movies were better than laughable, we were really off to the races with DC and Marvel characters, some more memorable than others, and renewing or finding new fan bases in the adult population…

And it all started with comic books, so remember this holy day. And I still have my Green Lantern ring, folks, two actually. If only the darn things worked, if only! Well, hope springs eternal, so they say…gotta keep trying! “In brightest day, in blackest night…”

The Legacy of Foxy Fagan…

November 29, 2019

In the mid-1940’s, the funny animal cartoon boom was in full swing, and every publisher wanted a menagerie of such anthropomorphic characters in print.  Foxy Fagan  was an obscure, Golden Age comic book character who was commercially unsuccessful, running for only a brief seven issues from 1946 to 1948.  Furthermore, the drawn character had a disquieting resemblance in some panels to Tom of Tom and Jerry fame, almost as if he was a cat with a few fox features tacked on.  The feet were also terribly wrong for a fox, but were drawn in the cartoon style of the day…

If the late great Foxy Fagan resembles the much more successful feline Tom, that’s because he was drawn by Harvey Eisenberg in collaboration with Joe Barbera’s storylines in a low budget, moonlighting-type operation called Dearfield Publishing which operated out of a shed while both of them were under contract to MGM.  Dearfield also produced Red Rabbit comics.  Eisenberg was a highly experienced and admired cartoonist who was for many years the main artist on the Tom and Jerry comic books, and he also did numerous stories for Disney comic books featuring Chip ‘n’ Dale, also drawing on the Yogi Bear and Flintstones newspaper comics.  He could draw characters convincingly in any pose, and gave them expressive personalities, making them relatable and alive.

Now Foxy Fagan was cut in the Bugs Bunny mold, with Foxy being sly but trouble-prone, and things often didn’t work out as he planned.  His foil was a hapless canine inventor, Bobble, who bore a striking resemblance to the later Hanna-Barbera character Droopy Dog, and kind of played the Porky Pig role.  We can almost see Foxy morphing into Tom in this bottom image, and Tom and Jerry would become an enduring part of cartoon history…




The Phantom Forever!

January 10, 2015


I’ve always had a soft spot for the Phantom, also known as “The Ghost Who Walks,” and “The Man Who Cannot Die ”  A lesser known rather retro comic hero who was kind of a Batman of the jungle, the Phantom (alias Kit Walker) usually fought crime and evil in the company of his white horse, Hero, and his trained wolf, Devil…all while wearing a skin-tight purple suit rather well!  Not that many guys can wear purple and pull it off without looking like Prince, especially in the jungle where Tarzan was probably better attired for the climate. The Phantom was the first comic hero to wear such an outfit, however, as well as the mask which fails to reveal the underlying pupils.

Now the sea may have belonged to Aquaman, but the Phantom ruled the jungle rather well, which was admittedly strange for a white guy wearing purple. The Phantom pulled it off, however, having a cool heritage with an ancestry going back several centuries to 1536 when pirates caused the shipwreck of the original Phantom. The current-day Phantom was then actually the latest in a long succession (21) of dudes in purple, the previous generations of which were all tidily buried in the Skull Cave, kind of the Wayne Manor of the franchise.  The Phantom line kind of traded on the reputation of their supposed immortality, wearing a skull ring without being Goth about it; said ring left a skull imprint upon those slugged by it. The Phantom otherwise has no superpowers, but is simply a superb athlete, marksman, and martial artist who can get along with the pygmy poison people…

Now the Phantom legend and lore is far more extensive than this, but suffice it to say that it managed to be both cornball and cool at the same time, a strange mix of yet oddly appealing elements that not surprisingly has never translated terribly well to either film or the small screen. Originally created by Lee Falk in 1936, efforts to re-make the character have been less than successful but will continue in 2015.  I hope that the “Guardian of the Eastern Dark” continues to be “rough on roughnecks” (old jungle saying)…


Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah

August 3, 2013


20130803-080124.jpg— Does it get much better than Wonder Woman versus the Cheetah?  Not by much it doesn’t; I’d want to pull up a chair and watch this one!

There are relatively few female villains worthy of note, and fewer still of the furry persuasion; Cheetah fills the gap purr-fectly!   As with most comic book superheroes and villains, Cheetah has gone through a number of re-imaginings, ranging from the rather ridiculous to the superbly menacing. I like my Cheetah anthropomorphic and ferociously feral, thank you!  She’s evil yet alluring and seductive, more than enough to make a good boy turn bad. In the world of female furry felines, Catwoman remains the gold standard but Cheetah prowls not far behind, roaming closer to the jungle and lacking the breakout status Catwoman has achieved.

The Cheetah was originally portrayed as a woman in a costume, but over the years has come to be shown as far more than that. The character even had a heretical stint in a male incarnation!  I like the character’s portrayal as Barbara Ann Minerva, kind of a cursed/blessed archaeologist who through supernatural intervention has transformational powers.  Her status as an archenemy of Wonder Woman has at times been rooted in a desire to possess the Amazon’s golden “Lasso of Truth,” while at other times it’s more of a bruised ego thing.  At any rate, it makes for memorable cat fights which are usually inconclusive or open-ended; you don’t really want to kill off a great villain or villainess as they are what makes for a better story and a more appealing protagonist.

At any rate, I’d secretly root for the Cheetah.- – Long may she vex Wonder Woman, and perhaps someday she’ll achieve the stand-alone and cult status that Catwoman enjoys.  In one animated outing, the Cheetah did have a tryst of sorts with Batman, who saw that she although in league with villains lacked true criminal intent; she just needed money to further her scientific research, what with funding cuts and all.   Many of us have felt that pinch, and I wouldn’t mind feeling hers…Rrowr!

Enter the Hornet…

July 19, 2010

– –Another challenge for the Green Hornet:  Making it on the big screen!   Some old-time comic and radio serial heroes don’t translate especially well to movies; The Shadow and The Phantom come to mind.   Coming in January of 2011 will be The Green Hornet, an adaptation of the once-popular radio serial, comic book, and 1960’s television series.

Seth Rogen will play Britt Reid, the millionaire publisher and popular media figure who by night assumes the identity of crime fighter The Green Hornet.  The role of sidekick Kato made memorable in the otherwise forgettable tv series by the late great Bruce Lee will be played by Asian pop star/actor/director Jay Chou; look to the character of Kato to be further developed as the creator of The Black Beauty, the Hornet’s “rolling arsenal” of retro weaponry.

Bruce Lee played Kato in 26 episodes of the tv series aired in 1966-67, with The Green Hornet being known as The Kato Show in Hong Kong.  As the Green Hornet would have said to Lee’s show-stopping sidekick, “Let’s roll, Kato!”- – If only Bruce Lee was here! … <sighs>

In Blackest Night…

May 15, 2010

– Coming on June 17th is The Green Lantern movie; I’ve been a  fan of Green Lantern since I was a kit, possibly due to combining the superhero thing with an extraterrestrial element (“The Guardians of the Universe”).  It’s hard to successfully adapt comics to the big screen, but this looks promising…although the costume reminds me of a green-themed version of Robin’s get-up in the one Batman flick…

…better practice your Green Lantern oath…and no, I don’t mean swearing!

Life Imitating Art…

May 7, 2010

– – Attired in a full Spider-Man costume, the  owner of a comic book store in Australia spotted a would-be thief attempting to pocket a costly X-Men item and depart the premises.  The costumed 45-year-old Spidey-wannabe confronted the man, and demanded that he hand over the item, shouting to a group of 40 other costumed customers (including Jedi knights and the Flash) to block the door...the collected superheroes then called the police!

…that’s what I call a real Marvel!

Nostradamus Effect

September 17, 2009

Nostradalmatian– -The end is near!– -At least that’s what the doomsday predictions from Nostradamus, the Book of Revelation, the Mayan “long count” calendar and many others would have us believe.  A new show on The History Channel, Nostradamus Effect,  examines end-of-time predictions from cultures across the globe, questioning whether they constitute inspired visions or crackpot conspiracy theories.

Now Michel de Nostradamus was a 16th century French physician and astrologer whose name is synonymous with apocalyptic visions of the near and distant future…kinda the gold standard for that type of thing.  But we furries have our future-predicting psychic seers, too!

One such is Nostradalmatian, a canine seer seen in the comic strip Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley.- -Don’t you believe in Nostradalmatian’s uncanny powers?!–Oh, he knew that you were going to say that!!!

Disney and Marvel?

September 12, 2009

Wolverine— Well, Disney has bought Marvel Entertainment for about four billion bucks…a fair piece of change by anyone’s standards.  The move will make Disney house owner of Marvel’s dazzling array of characters, and probably improve Disney’s appeal to males…

…one hopes that Disney will not neuter Marvel’s characters, and that we’ll never hear Wolverine sing, “When you wish upon a star.” –Will we see the Hulk School Musical?–Will Wolverine and Sabertooth have a song fight?–One suspects that Logan would not be pleased by this merger…

Think Green!

July 19, 2009

Green Lantern— Woo hoo!–The Green Lantern is coming to the big screen!–Just not real soon…think June 2011.  At least we’ll get a chance to see it before the Mayan calendar runs out in December 2012…

…yeah, I know that a lot of you guys are big Marvel rather than DC comics fans, but one can live in both universes…Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, right?–Anyhow, the Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds in the title role will be shot in New South Wales, Australia, presumably beginning in November 2009.  For those of you who can’t wait until then, a DVD feature-length Green Lantern animated adventure will be available soon.

For those of you not familiar with Green Lantern,  Superman was born a hero, Batman became a hero, but Green Lantern was chosen to be a hero…see, he’s been granted a mystical ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic, multi-species squadron tasked with keeping peace in the universe.  The ring has to be changed in a lantern every so often (you know how re-chargeable batteries are), hence the title…and the ring, once charged, projects a green energy that can transmute to matter, and basically do almost anything.  There is also an accompanying secret oath that I’ve had memorized since childhood.

…so “let those who worship evil’s might,” beware the power of Green Lantern’s light!

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