Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

Heroes and Villains @ Phoenix ComiCon 2014   1 comment

 

I wasn’t going to attend this Con, but at the last moment I got some motivation, and so I did make the scene on Friday and Saturday.  Estimated attendance somewhere in the range of 100,000 people. That’s a great size for a media convention like this. Guarantees that the promoters will make enough money to put on a really good show.  Attracts a lot of creative energy.

As usual, I went mostly to take photos of brilliant hall costumes, play games, and talk to my friends.  All 3 goals were satified this weekend. I think I can get more than one blog out of it.  Let’s start off with heroes and villains.

I had a hard time getting the Black Widow's attention. Finally, her boyfriend poked her in the arm and said, "Natasha, this man wants you to kill him." Killer smile, don't you think?

I had a hard time getting the Black Widow’s attention. Finally, her boyfriend poked her in the arm and said, “Natasha, this man wants you to kill him.” Killer smile, don’t you think?

 

Batman looked suitably grim, but didn't seem to have any crime to fight, despite the plethora of supervillains wandering around. I got him to pose for me, and that opened the floodgates. Poor guy got stuck posing with people for another 5 minutes before he could move on. He loved it.

Batman looked suitably grim, but didn’t seem to have any crime to fight, despite the plethora of supervillains wandering around. I got him to pose for me, and that opened the floodgates. Poor guy got stuck posing with people for another 5 minutes before he could move on. He loved it.

 

Poison Ivy came by Steve Crompton's Carnal Comics booth and told us she could make something grow. This girl has a secret identity as a stripper at Christie's Cabaret. She made me an offer I really hated to refuse.

Poison Ivy came by Steve Crompton’s Carnal Comics booth and told us she could make something grow. This girl has a secret identity as a stripper at Christie’s Cabaret. She made me an offer I really hated to refuse.

 

Poison Ivy was the most popular costume at the Con. Here she is again with a Joker wannabe.

Poison Ivy was the most popular costume at the Con. Here she is again with a Joker wannabe.

 

Harley Quinn and her friend gave me these dazzling smiles when I told her I'd love to get hammered with her.

Harley Quinn and her friend gave me these dazzling smiles when I told her I’d love to get hammered with her.

 

Thor and Loki, female variants. If it works for guys, it works for girls too.

Thor and Loki, female variants. If it works for guys, it works for girls too.

 

The Transformers were larger than life, and kept behind a fence.

The Transformers were larger than life, and kept behind a fence.

 

If I saw this guy walking down the street, I'd get out of his way, then follow him looking for photo ops.

If I saw this guy walking down the street, I’d get out of his way, then follow him looking for photo ops.

 

Catwoman, Halle Berry style.  This is no house cat--this is a black tigress. (You know that would be a pretty great name for super character.)

Catwoman, Halle Berry style. This is no house cat–this is a black tigress. (You know that would be a pretty great name for super character.)

 

Not every larger than life character needs spandex. The Penguin makes do these days with simple opulence.

Not every larger than life character needs spandex. The Penguin makes do these days with simple opulence.

 

The Joker was looking better than he has for years and his Harley Quinn seemed pretty happy about it too.

The Joker was looking better than he has for years and his Harley Quinn seemed pretty happy about it too.

 

Green Arrow came rushing by just before I headed for the Troll Cave on Saturday afternoon.

Green Arrow came rushing by just before I headed for the Troll Cave on Saturday afternoon.

 

There were countless other supers at the convention, but I didn’t go with a plan. I simply took pix of those that came my way. Spider-Man was there in every conceivable variant of the spider suit. Deadpool must have cloned himself. He was everywhere. Poison Ivy sprouted almost everywhere I looked.  I saw Batman from several different alternate earths. Superman, however, could not be found. Actually Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and  Julie Newmar (Catwoman) were big attractions at ComiCon, although I did not see them. Stan Lee is supposed to be there today (I am writing this on Sunday, June 8).  Comics, and the popular culture associated with comics have never been so popular.

Comics conventions are gigantic parties, and people really seem to have a good time at them.  I salute those dedicated cosplayers who make marvelous costumes to represent the heroes, villains, and favorite characters from comics, cartoons, anime, and video gaming.  You guys and gals are indeed super in your own right, and I applaud you all.

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If you have been to a comics convention lately, why not leave a comment?

–end

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Saturday with Sailors at Samurai   Leave a comment

2014-03-08 02.15.45

Saturday, March 9, 2014 I heard there would be a Sailor convention in town at my favorite comic shop, Samurai Comics at 12th Street and Cameback.  I grabbed my camera and went down. The first thing I did was make friends with Sailor Mars and talk her into wearing my hat for a picture, and here it is: Sailor Mars wearing the Trollgod’s (newer) hat.

I have to admit that I am not a big Sailor Moon fan. I watched a few episodes 15 years ago (Time flies when you’re having fun. Sigh!), but I do enjoy cosplay, and to see all the sailors in one spot seemed like two good an opportunity to miss. I was hoping to actually get a chance to talk to several of them, but there was a much younger photographer there with a much better camera, and I really couldn’t compete.  I took the following shots from a distance, because I thought you’d still like to see all the mystic guardians of the Solar System.

The blonde in the foreground is, of course, our heroine Sailor Moon herself.  I did get to chat with her just a little bit.

The blonde in the foreground is, of course, our heroine Sailor Moon herself. I did get to chat with her just a little bit.

Like other superheroes, she has a mundane identity as a simple blonde teenager, and must change into costume before she can fight the forces of supernatural evil that theaten the world.

And here are the rest of the Sailor shots:

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It wasn’t an ideal shoot.  The girls all hung together talking to each other. The only photographer who could get them to do anything was the young guy I mentioned, and he didn’t seem to have much imagination.  A couple of other geeky photographers like me were hanging around, not doing much.  After getting these shots I went back inside the comic store to see if anything else was going on.

The usual Saturday afternoon Magic the Gathering tournament was in progress.

The usual Saturday afternoon Magic the Gathering tournament was in progress.

And there were a couple of artist types giving away 8 X 10 glossy prints of some of the girls in other costumes. They were pretty, but I passed on them since I really have no place to put a picture of Marvel's Black Cat in my bachelor pad. I'm way past that stage of fan boy.

And there were a couple of artist types giving away 8 X 10 glossy prints of some of the girls in other costumes. They were pretty, but I passed on them since I really have no place to put a picture of Marvel’s Black Cat in my bachelor pad. I’m way past that stage of fan boy.

I talked to a few people and browsed through Forever Evil #6, where it looks like Nightwing (Dick Grayson) joins the ranks of superheroes killed in action.  Dick Grayson was/is the original Robin of Batman comics. He grew up and became Nightwing–for those of you not current in D.C. Comics superhero trivia. I’m not going to have a hissy fit about him getting killed. I suspect it’s just temporary.

It is a dark time in the D.C. Comics universe right now.  They just killed the original Robin. Being Batman's sidekick is bad luck.

It is a dark time in the D.C. Comics universe right now. They just killed the original Robin. Being Batman’s sidekick is bad luck.

Then it was time to go.  On my way out I looked for the Sailors. They had relocated, but were not any more accessible. I took these two farwell shots.

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And that’s how I spent my Saturday. It wasn’t a complete waste of time. 🙂

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If you’ve ever talked to a Sailor, or loaned your hat to one, why not leave a comment?

–end

Tarzan in Dutch   4 comments

Every year around the end of October my friend, Rick Loomis, who is he head buffalo of Flying Buffalo, Inc., a small gaming company based in Scottsdale, Arizona (and publisher of my Tunnels and Trolls game) attends the Games and Toys Fair in Essen, Germany. He always brings a few goodies back, so this year, I thought to ask him if he would look for some European Tarzan comics. I showed him what not to get; namely the European translation of American comics, and hoped for the best. Of all my literary heroes, Tarzan is the greatest and oldest.

And I got my wish. Rick’s Dutch host (Rick stayed with a fan/friend in the Netherlands and drove back and forth to Essen each day) had an old Tarzan comic that he gave to Rick for me.  And it looks like this:

Tarzan finds medieval soldiers in the middle of the jungle

Tarzan finds medieval soldiers in the middle of the jungle

The comic is from 1979. The artist has a style similar to Russ Manning’s Tarzan, but just a little less clean-cut.  The book has 48 pages, about double the size of a normal comic, and contains 3 separate, independent stories. The language is Dutch, which may be my favorite European language. Dutch is a cross between English and German, and one can almost read it without help of dictionary, especially if one knows a little German, which I do because I took a year of it in college some 48 years ago. The cover story is called “Ontmoeting met het verleden” which means Encounter with the Past. With Google translation easily available online, I don’t have to guess at the meaning of unfamiliar words like verleden.

The great thing about comics is that one can pretty much tell what’s going on even if one doesn’t understand the words.

The second story is called De reuze-vogels.  Try to guess what it’s about from this page that I scanned.

Tarzan_Comic_Eagle

Can you read it? Even without a dictionary I can tell that the last panel says “The plants and flowers are greater (maybe larger) than I have ever seen.”  Vogel is clearly eagle in this story–not such a big difference between our english word and the Dutch in this case. I don’t know what reuze means. I’m guessing “giant” or maybe royal. Let’s see what Google tells me. (Ken changes browser windows to check a meaning.) Yes, reuze means giant, and I was right the first time. Grin. It was not a hard deduction to make, but it’s always edifying to be right about such things.  And vogel is bird instead of eagle, a fact I sort of vaguely knew, but I wonder why the scripter used  that word since they are clearly drawn as eagles.

The comic has a lot of text in it, and that means I can pick up a lot of Dutch vocabulary by simply reading it with a little help from my Google translation page. It will take a couple of hours to get through this book, but I’m looking forward to it. (I’ve only had it for a day now, and haven’t found time to read the whole thing yet.)

And here’s the back cover. It looks like a preview of the next issue, due in 14 days. Dang! The sixties and seventies must have been a great time for Tarzan fans in the Netherlands, and perhaps all of Europe, with almost 50 pages of new story appearing every two weeks. It says “Radioactive rays in the jungle?  Also read the following-exciting number. . . about 14 days.

Tarzan_Comic_BackCover

My thanks to Rick Loomis and his host Jan for getting me this minor treasure from the past. I’m definitely enjoying it, and wish I had more.

If you have any Tarzan comics (or any other real comics–not just translations of our American stuff) from other countries, why not mention them here? Personally, I think this would be a great way to teach foreign languages–bring on the comics from the countries whose language you want to learn. I’d be happy to see more Tarzan from any other country in the world.

  Leave a comment

2013-09-01 05.12.27The future of conventions is media cons–big ones like Phoenix ComicCon and SabotenCon.  The anime-themed party was held over the Labor Day weekend at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale Arizona.  The hotel is just across the street from the Cardinal’s football stadium, and next to a huge shopping center.

On Saturday I grabbed my camera and went to check it out.  I had a little trouble finding it and getting a parking spot, but then I just walked right in.  SabotenCon is chiefly an excuse to put on your best hall costume, and go show your stuff to both friends and strangers.  The attendees were mostly young–lots of high school kids, and I think every Asian kid in Phoenix was there.  Anime is an Asian (mostly japanese) artform, and they came out in droves to support it.

I went to take pictures.  There were plenty of great costumes that i didn’t get, but let me just show the people having fun.

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This thing came up and said "Hi, Ken!" to me.  I had no idea who recognized me.

This thing came up and said “Hi, Ken!” to me. I had no idea who recognized me.

Most of it was anime, but Nightwing showed up. This guy really looks like a superhero. The joker was also present, but I did not take his picture.  (He wouldn't hold still long enough.)

Most of it was anime, but Nightwing showed up. This guy really looks like a superhero. The joker was also present, but I did not take his picture. (He wouldn’t hold still long enough.)

Could this be Lina Inverse of the Slayers? I’m not sure.  Gorgeous costume–gotta be really hot inside all that cloth.

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This is Mia. I don't recognize the Dr. costume, but she looked half dead with all the ghastly black make-up, and she sat next to me when I played Illuminati in the Game Room.  They let me in even though I didn't have a badge for the Con.

This is Mia. I don’t recognize the Dr. costume, but she looked half dead with all the ghastly black make-up, and she sat next to me when I played Illuminati in the Game Room. They let me in even though I didn’t have a badge for the Con.

Hair colors are extreme and vivid in anime.

Hair colors are extreme and vivid in anime.

Who was that old wizard?

Who was that old wizard?

The girl in the cat costume was cute, but I was really amazed to see this old 60s version of Sorry being played at the con.

The girl in the cat costume was cute, but I was really amazed to see this old 60s version of Sorry being played at the con.

The Queen of Hearts and Alice were there. Of course, I bowed and paid my copliments to Her Majesty.

The Queen of Hearts and Alice were there. Of course, I bowed and paid my compliments to Her Majesty.

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There were a lot of horny demons at the Con. This hellish group took over a table in the gaming room.

There were a lot of horny demons at the Con. This hellish group took over a table in the gaming room.

I played Illuminati with the legendary Jesse Foster and the Men in Black.  Did not win, or even come close, but had a good time.

I played Illuminati with the legendary Jesse Foster and the Men in Black. Did not win, or even come close, but had a good time.

I would have rather played SPANC with Angie. We were all tellingher she should dress like the catgirl on the cover when she ran the game.

I would have rather played SPANC with Angie. We were all telling her she should dress like the catgirl on the cover when she ran the game.

2013-09-01 01.54.42

Cat girls! Cat girls everywhere!

And barbarians too! I wouldn't have the nerve to walk around  2/3 naked like this and carry big phallic symbols, but these guys were having fun.

And barbarians too! I wouldn’t have the nerve to walk around 2/3 naked like this and carry big phallic symbols, but these guys were having fun.

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There were a few real furries in attendance. This one was very friendly and patted my tush after I took her picture.

There were a few real furries in attendance. This one was very friendly and patted my tush after I took her picture.

This dark fairy queen stole my heart.

This dark fairy queen stole my heart.

The legendary Jesse Foster, leader of the Men in Black, also has a few Women in Black at his beck and call.

The legendary Jesse Foster, leader of the Men in Black, also has a few Women in Black at his beck and call.

I'm not sure what this uniform is for/from, but there sure were a lot of these troopers in the halls.

I’m not sure what this uniform is for/from, but there sure were a lot of these troopers in the halls.

Dangerous women lurked around every corner.

Dangerous women lurked around every corner.

my choice for Best Use of Cardboard in creating a costume.

my choice for Best Use of Cardboard in creating a costume.

A very pretty, and complicated new board game called Arena.  The playing pieces are all characters from anime.

A very pretty, and complicated new board game called Arena. The playing pieces are all super-deformed characters from anime.

I chatted with this guy for a while. He owned an Arena game and tried to explain it to me.

I chatted with this guy for a while. He owned an Arena game and tried to explain it to me.

Looks like a questing party to me.

Looks like a questing party to me.

Awww! This volunteer was working so hard at her table and too cute to pass by.

Awww! This volunteer was working so hard at her table and too cute to pass by.

Convention staff all seemed to be in costume.

Convention staff all seemed to be in costume.  Lady Thor seemed out of place in the anime world.

Friendliest furry in the hall.

Friendliest furry in the hall.

Tic Tac Toe is a very heavy game in anime circles.

Tic Tac Toe is a very heavy game in anime circles.

Many characters carried great staff weapons.  This was a fine one.

Many characters carried great staff weapons. This was a fine one.

2013-09-01 01.30.38

I don't know why she has so many tails.

I don’t know why she has so many tails.

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Actually, this was the first picture I took when I entered the hotel. You have just taken my 4 hour tour in reverse.

Actually, this was the first picture I took when I entered the hotel. You have just taken my 4 hour tour in reverse.

Everyone seemed to be having a very fine time.  The costumes were great, and I’m glad I went out to see it. I’m sure the promoters made a lot of money from it.  This is where media fandom is going today, and it’s a wild trip.

If you’ve ever indulged yourself in cosplay, whether it was anime-inspired or not, why not leave a comment?

–end

The Amazing Spider-Man number 700   8 comments

I don't think I understand this cover.

I don’t think I understand this cover.

A hero died last week.  The villain won, and in a big way.  Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius, managed to switch his consciousness into Peter Parker’s healthy  young body and put Peter into his own dying, cancer-ridden carcass.  That happened in Amazing Spider-Man #698.  In #699 Peter comes up with a desperate plan to save himself.  In #700, he gives it a hell of a try, but he fails.

Ok, it’s a comic book.  Not real.  In the real world, hundreds, perhaps thousands of real heroes die every week.  Cops, firemen, doctors, soldiers, professionals of all sorts who help real people, die, and no one except friends and family of those real life heroes ever knows or cares.  Every one of those deaths is a tragedy for someone.

But there is a sense in which the imaginary death of the imaginary Peter Parker is more real than that of the real death of real heroes. Spider-Man has been on the world scene since 1963–that’s 50 years.  He lived in that timeless comics world where he aged about 10 years while the rest of us got old.  I remember the first issue of Spider-Man.  I owned it at one time, and foolishly sold it when I thinned my comics collection in 1973 when I got married.  Peter was known to and admired by tens of millions of people.  The heroes of the real world are lucky to reach a hundred or a thousand people.

They are clever bastards at Marvel.  Peter’s body lives on.  His memories remain in his physical brain.  All that has really happened is that he has had a personality change.  He’s no longer Amazing.  From now on he will be the Superior Spider-Man.  I think that may come back to bite them.  How long before the new Spider-Man gets to be known as the Inferior Spider-Man?

Some people are saying that no one ever stays dead in comics, and that is pretty much true.  Peter Parker could return from the dead–writers have infinite power in imaginary worlds.  I have already thought of a way to do it, and I’ve read about at least two other methods that could be used. Bringing people back from the dead is easily accomplished.  D.C. Comics is perhaps the worst offender.  Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Green Arrow–just to name the big guys have all really died, and really come back to life in the last decade or so.  A little over a year ago, D.C. killed off (discontinued–it’s pretty much the same thing) the entire universe, and rebooted it.

None of those deaths affected me emotionally the way the recent death of Peter Parker has affected me.  I haven’t bought Spider-Man comics for decades, but I made a point of buying this issue.  This tragedy will be the comic book event of 2013.  I’m wondering about buying The Superior Spider-Man #1 which comes out next week.  These two issues will certainly be highly collectible in 10 or 20 years if the world and comics last that long.

I’ve been a comics fan all my life.  I’ve seen dozens of comic book deaths.  They all saddened me, but none has made me feel as bad as this one.  And that is because all of those deaths had one thing in common–the hero died heroically.  They may have been killed, but they weren’t defeated.  Their deaths accomplished something.

Dan Slott, the writer who killed Peter Parker, might say the same thing for his story, but it’s a lie.  Peter’s final action is to make Otto understand that with great power comes great responsibility.  Otto vows that he will continue the Spider-Man legacy of heroism, and will be a better Spider-Man than the original.  He will be THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN!

Does anybody see the same arrogant selfish pride that characterized Doc Ock for the last 50 years?  Ock is callous and scheming.  He treats people like objects–he calls Mary Jane “woman”, and bosses her around like a hired hand.  Despite his promise to the dying Peter, I don’t think Otto Octavius has been redeemed at all.  I think the bad guy won.

Marvel has always been slightly more “realistic” in its depiction of the world and the people in it than DC has.  This death of Peter Parker follows that trend.  In the real world bad guys often win, at least as often as good guys do.  In the real world it isn’t often easy to say who is good and who is bad–none of us are perfect.  Villains have won before in comics, but never on this scale–never with quite this emotional impact.

I am not so much saddened or enraged by the death of Peter Parker as I am betrayed.  I feel that Marvel comics has betrayed their public by letting Parker die this way.  I feel betrayed in a way that the death of Superman or Batman did not make me feel.  I really feel that Evil has triumphed.  Good has been perverted and crushed, just the same as the dying body of Doc Ock was crushed.  Every time I think of it, I feel sick.

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There are some other issues that the “death” of Peter Parker raises for me that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere else.  (They may have been.  I haven’t really searched the web to see what other bloggers are saying about this event.)  This gimmick of mind switching calls up the Question of Identity.  What is identity?  What makes you or me who we are?  Is it our memories?  Octavius mind in Parker body has Parker’s physical brain and all of Parker’s memories.  Parker in Octavius body had Ock’s brain and memories.  When they made the mind switch, they also carried all their personal memories across the gap.  In essence they became the same person, but with different mind-sets/personalities.  The Parker personality died, but everything else that was Peter Parker lived on.

Or is it soul that determines identity?  There is a short sequence in 700 when Parker is “dead” for 3 minutes, and goes to “heaven” where he is re-united with all the important people that have died in his life:  his parents, Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, Silver Sable (wait a minute!  Sable is dead? Awwwww!  She was such a fox.  When did that happen?)  This is portrayed as a happy ending for him.  Death is not a tragedy.  Death is the final victory.  If you believe in souls, you could see things that way.  I call bullshit on that.  We will all die.  Some will die horribly; some will die well; most of us will probably expire quietly in a hospital some time.  I happen to think it matters how we die.  Slott gave Parker the most horrible death he could imagine–cut off from all his living friends and family, in agonizing pain, in another man’s wrecked and ruined body, cursed and reviled wrongly by everyone in the world that he had spent his life helping and saving.  Talk about your martyr’s death!  We have all been empathizing and identifying with Parker for a long time.  In a sense Slott gave us all that same hideous death–it is not a death any of us would have wanted, nor would many of us even wish it on our worst enemies.  I feel sick.

The people who run Marvel Comics are probably laughing all the way to the bank about how much money the “Death of the Amazing Spider-Man” has brought them.  Slott has said that even though fandom feels betrayed and sickened right now, the fans will get over it.  New readers will come to the title, and Parker will mean nothing to those newcomers.  Spider-Man will continue.  Spider-Man is a title, not a person.  Whoever wears the suit, whoever swings on the webs, that’s Spider-Man.  That is one way of looking at it, and it is a true way of looking at the situation.  Spider-Man is the institution.  It doesn’t really matter who is behind the mask.  It could even be a total creep like Otto Octavius, so long as he fights the fight and carries the colors.  I don’t believe it.  I feel sick.

otto-octavius-spider-man

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If you were at all affected by the “death of Peter Parker” why not leave a comment?