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September 30, 2014

Public Hearing on Force-Feeding a Threat to National Security?

Every day it's another story about another thing our government wants to be secretive about.

The Obama administration has asked a federal judge to hold a highly anticipated court hearing on its painful force-feedings of Guantanamo Bay detainees almost entirely in secret, prompting suspicions of a cover-up.

Justice Department attorneys argued to district judge Gladys Kessler that allowing the hearings to be open to the public would jeopardize national security through the disclosure of classified information. Should Kessler agree, the first major legal battle over forced feeding in a federal court would be less transparent than the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.

Attorneys for Abu Wa'el Dhiab, a Syrian detainee on hunger strike whose court challenge is slated to begin next week, said the government was using national security as an excuse to prevent the public from learning the extent of a practice that the judge in the case has considered brutal.

They also sealed the videotapes of the force-feedings. Other than covering up prisoner abuse, i'm not sure what issues of national security could come up in a case about breaking a hunger strike. Did they call in undercover agents to perform the force-feedings? Are they wearing shirts embroidered with their passwords?

And this was supposed to be the less conservative (batshit crazy) administration.

By min | September 30, 2014, 2:22 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

How did you pass the time during 1989's Plague of Frogs?

By fnord12 | September 30, 2014, 10:13 AM | Comics | Comments (4) | Link

September 29, 2014

State of our media

Blogger begs comedy show to expose conflict of interest on cable news.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2014, 6:13 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link



Meanwhile, in the real world after-tax corporate profits as a share of overall national income are at an all-time high but median household income is lower than it was in 1999. So for the plight of the overtaxed American corporation to become a leading cause of concern for a Democratic former president and potential First Gentleman of the United States is a bit peculiar.

By fnord12 | September 29, 2014, 10:43 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 26, 2014

Isn't it called Twitter?

I give the latest SMBC five stars.

By fnord12 | September 26, 2014, 1:29 PM | Comics| Link

September 24, 2014

Balls to you, Daddy

We don't watch television at home, so forgive me if this is old news, but while i was in the waiting room at the dentist today, a Cadillac commercial came on and they were playing a lifeless version of what i think of as a Clash song, Brand New Cadillac. It turns out the song isn't actually by the Clash. So as terrible as that commercial was, i at least have it to thank as i now go do some digging and find older versions of the song. Which is so easy nowadays. At one point learning this would have triggered a cross-state epic record store adventure; now i'm just going to do some googling.

By the way, one version not mentioned in that Wikipedia article is the hip-hop Incognegro version.

By fnord12 | September 24, 2014, 6:45 PM | Music & TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link

Comics and the narratives of criminality

I confess i still like the Death of Jean DeWolff storyline, but Osvaldo Oyola points out a lot that is problematic with it, especially regarding how it handles the politics of crime.

By fnord12 | September 24, 2014, 1:58 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

Evangelical Harry Potter

I don't really think this needs any commentary from me.

"I'm new to this whole fanfiction thing, but recently, I've encountered a problem that I believe this is the solution to," Grace Ann wrote on FanFiction.net. "My little ones have been asking to read the Harry Potter books and of course I'm happy for them to be reading, but I don't want them turning into witches! So I thought 'Why not make some slight changes so these books are family friendly?' And then I thought 'Why not share this with all the other mommies who are facing the same problem?' So-Ta da! Here it is! I am SO excited to share this with all of you!"

Jezebel goes on to quote parts of the book. The writing is pretty spectacularly terrible and that's without even considering the awkwardly shoehorned Christianesque additions. Those are spectacularly terrible in their own right, but at least they're amusing.

Christians are people who want to be good," Hagrid explained wisely; and crouched down so he was on eye level with Harry. "We want to go to heaven after we die. Do you know what heaven is, Harry?"

Harry shook his head; and his big eyes were wide and curious.

"Heaven is a beautiful place where we can be with God."

Aunt Petunia smacked her hands over Harry's young ears; and her voice was sickly sweet when she said, "Thank you very much for your concern, sir, but he does not need your religion, he has science and socialism and birthdays. Haven't you heard of Evolution? I have a very good textbook on Evolution that I could give you on it if you would like to learn things."

Hagrid laughed wisely. "Evolution is a fairytale. You don't really believe that, do you?"

"Yes, I do!" Aunt Petunia screeched.

"Well then prove it!"

Aunt Petunia could only stare at him; and her big mouth hung open dumbly. Here she thought she was so educated; and always demanded that Christians prove what they believed in; but she couldn't even prove her own religion. It was then that Harry knew who the smart one here was!

Yes! Science, socialism, and birthdays! Atheism rocks!

By min | September 24, 2014, 12:18 PM | Boooooks| Link

September 23, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Elektra #6 - This issue is missing the surreal art by Michael Del Mundo that was a big part of why i've been liking the series so far, but the art here, by Alex Sanchez, has its own unique style that is pretty good. Similar in tone to Del Mundo in some respects but not trying to imitate him, so he's a good pick. He seems pretty off-model when it comes to some of the pre-existing characters (Tiger Shark, Anaconda), but nowadays i never know if that's because the artist is really off model or because a character has been changed somewhere. But this issue does something that i really hate. It opens with a two page splash panel that shows that Elektra has been on the run keeping her current wards protected, and she's fought Blizzard, Whiplash, Shocker and Boomerang, Crossbones, Tiger Shark, Jack O'Lantern and Blackout, and Whirlwind and some other people i can't make out (Vermin? That can't be Misty Knight on the balcony?). And, like, why wouldn't you actually show those scenes? How do you montage your way through a ton of cool super-villains as if it's just like the boring junk we have to get out of the way? I also don't love the idea that all those guys are working for the Assassin's Guild. And there's possible continuity concerns, too, although i'll concede that stuff like this can work itself out in the long run. Crossbones seemed to be working for a larger cause in Black Widow so it seems odd to see him taking a freelance assignment here, but that's just a question of placement, i guess. My real annoyance is with Shocker and Boomerang, who have been in the process of trying to kill each other in the Superior Foes series (where, i'll note, their motives have been at the much more reasonable "heist" level; i definitely don't see Shocker working for an Assassin's Guild). So when does this take place? Before the entire SFoes series? During it? Can it possibly be after? I guess it'll depend on how SFoes ends. It just seems odd to use two characters starring in a currently ongoing series in a completely different way here. Finally, i smirk at the idea that Elektra considers none of these characters "worthy" of her and says (later) that the assassin's guild knows these characters won't actually succeed. Because sending actual super-powered villains (Tiger Shark!) against a non-powered ninja like Elektra is just stupid and bound to fail, right? Only Lady Bullseye is awesome enough to defeat her. So all of that put me in a bad mood, which is too bad because there is some cool stuff here, like Elektra's group hiding out in an abandoned Inhuman settlement and a fight with the Serpent Society (although i don't like the way Sidewinder is drawn, Anaconda is apparently very svelte these days, and i guess Death Adder talks now).

Savage Hulk #4 - I've enjoyed seeing Alan Davis draw the Neal Adams era X-Men (well, Sal Buscema era to be very accurate although not very clear) fighting the Hulk. And i should probably just leave it there. But i thought having the Hulk mutate into a telekinetic was a weird place to go. The Leader's observation that "the gamma potential is fluid -- shifting between an array of possibly physical manifestations" is an idea that the ramifications of won't be seen for decades after this story takes place, so it's odd for it to be brought up here (and in front of Xavier too), knowing that it can't go anywhere. It really would have been better for Davis to keeps things simpler and less psychological (last issue taking place entirely in people's minds wasn't a great move) and without the X-Men having been tied up for an issue and change. Oh well. I have to say i'm 49.99% intrigued by the next arc's story which will take place during the Hulk's Crossroads period, but it's not by Davis and i'm sure something will happen that will annoy me so i had better skip it for now.

Daredevil #8 - Interesting, creepy, and well done as always. The scenes about Kirsten and her dad had some good character work, too. I assume Waid is aware that the Purple Man already has a daughter born through the same type of circumstances as these kids, but it wasn't necessary to bring that up in this story (although he still might in a future part).

By fnord12 | September 23, 2014, 9:09 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

September 19, 2014

Continuity is the selling point

I have just finished reading Rob Salkowitz's Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, which was published in 2012 and takes a look at the comic industry (and related "geek culture") from a business press point of view. It's an interesting read that i recommend to people thinking about the comic industry and where it might go, but i don't really want to review the book per se. In addition to being a business "futurist", Salkowitz also happens to be a comics fan, and even a super-hero comic fan specifically, which is why he chose this particular topic for this book (Salkowitz's previous books have titles like Generation Blend: Managing Across the Technology Age Gap).

And thanks to his comics enthusiasm, Salkowitz is generally sympathetic to comics fans, even to the ones he categorizes as "aging fanboys". That said, as he describes various trends in the industry - the influx of a new generation of geek girls thanks to things like Twilight, the influx of mass acceptance and interest due to the successful movies, the attempts at expanding beyond the superhero genre by Japanese creators and alt.comics writers, the attempts at expanded outreach through digital comics, - it's the aging fanboys mired in their crusty continuity and, in a sort of symbiotic relationship, with the direct market retailers that represent one of the biggest challenges for a successful future for the comics industry. An interesting point that he makes is that when we say "mainstream" comics, we really mean the super-hero comics that are the opposite of mainstream in any larger sense, whereas most smaller publishers deal in genres that are much more mainstream to the general populace.

By the end of the book he describes four possible outcomes:

1) an "Expanding Multiverse" where digital comics helps the industry reach mass appeal. This is the most utopian, allowing all genres and publishers to thrive.

2) An "Endless Summer" where the Hollywood hits keep coming and the spectacle at Comic-Con keeps getting bigger and bigger, albeit by crowding out the indie publishers.

3) A "Ghost World" (a reference to the indie Daniel Clowes comic) where the Hollywood hits stop coming and Warner and Disney pull the plug on their comic publishing outfits but the vacuum is filled by indies.

And 4) An "Infinite Crisis" where again the Hollywood hits stop but the aging fanboys and retailers have their way and both indie and digital fail to expand in a significant way, leaving the industry basically an ever shrinking niche market for super-hero fans.

Ok, so that turned out to be, if not a review of the book, at least a summary. Again, i think Salkowitz takes a fair approach to the topic. "Fanboy super-hero continuity nerds are preventing the comics industry from growing" is hardly a new insight but he makes the point well (hostile reaction to the Twilight fans, hostile reaction to the influx of movies and video games at Comic-Con, hostile reaction to... etc.) while also making the counterbalancing point that fanboy super-hero continuity nerds in a sense are the comic industry.

But all of that is just background to what i really wanted to talk about, which is this section on continuity itself. I think Salkowitz sets up an interesting point but fails to actually make the point. Perhaps it's a point that only i, as a fanboy super-hero continuity nerd, can see. But here goes. He starts off by talking about how television shows including Smallville, Lost, Fringe, and Heroes had crossover appeal to comics fans, and says the connection was "much deeper" than subject matter. Specifically, it was:

...serialized storytelling with a core cast of characters who develop yet remain fundamentally unchanged. Each individual episode or issue must stand alone to provide a point of entry for newcomers, but form a part of a larger story line to keep people coming back week after week.

So basically, it's the continuity. Continuing directly:

Most prime-time TV programs weren't always like this. From the 1950s to the 1980s, very few shows had any kind of continuity story lines from episode to episode. Even heavily plotted dramas, police shows, or science fiction series like Star Trek (the original series), which may have had recurring characters or occasional cliffhangers, rarely referred to prior events or offered any coherent sense of their characters' histories or motivations.

The revolution that transformed episodic storytelling first took place in the pages of Marvel Comics in the 1960s, when Stan Lee and his collaborators (principally Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko) wove long story arcs over dozens of issues and multiple titles, each of which also provided a satisfying individual reading experience and usually wrapped up the primary plot points in a single issue. In case anyone wonders why Stan Lee, the kindly old charmer with his name on every licensing deal, is so famous and well regarded today, that's why. The bold artwork and wild flights of imagination and fantasy of the Marvel Silver Age gripped readers, but this sense of integrity to the entire comics universe (provided partly by Lee's consistent writing and editorial voice) kept them coming back for more and buying anything with a Marvel logo on the cover. Before he became a brand unto himself, Stan Lee was one of the most important brand innovators of the twentieth century.

Chris Claremont, who wrote the wildly successful X-Men books for Marvel starting in the late 1970s, elevated the continuity aspects of comics storytelling to rarefied heights under the universe-building stewardship of then-Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter. X-Men was not just about good guys and bad guys, or mutants trying to fit into a world that was prejudiced against them; it was an ongoing soap opera with handfuls of overlapping subplots and long-simmering conflicts bubbling under the surface at any given moment. Like a soap opera, it sometimes got so tangled in its own mythology that casual readers couldn't make heads or tails of any given issue, but hard-core fans kept demanding more story, more X-titles, and greater complexities.

Emphasis mine, of course.

By the way, after reading that nice description of Stan Lee's contributions, i'm reminded that Tom Brevoort today trotted out again the idea that Stan Lee used to make continuity mistakes all the time. He doesn't give any examples but when pressed in the past he's cited things like calling Bruce Banner "Bob Banner" or calling Cyclops "Warren" or whatever. Those aren't continuity mistakes. And having been all through the Silver Age comics for my project, i can't think of any other continuity errors that Stan Lee made. It's sort of besides the point - errors can happen! - but it's been a regular claim of Brevoort's that continually annoys me, and i also wanted to link to that post because it's relevant to the larger point here.

Salkowitz then goes on to talk about how this continuity innovation influenced television, saying that "Well-executed shows in this style that have no connection to comics whatsoever are now discovering that they are attracting comics fans, who tend to be vocal advocates for stuff they like." Breaking Bad is cited as an example.

So the above quotes alone tells me that mainstream viewers can "handle" continuity and that it is even a selling point. I grant you that no television show has ever approached the "multiple titles" aspect to the degree that Marvel (and DC) comics have. But that doesn't say one way or another if that would be successful.

But my point here isn't to argue for more continuity on television. It's really about defending the need for it in comics, basically that far from being the thing that prevents the comic industry from growing, it's the glue that prevents it from crumbling. So let me continue. A little earlier in the book Salkowitz describes friends of his that are indie creators that produce a comic called Supernatural Law (aka Wolff and Byrd - Counselors of the Macabre). And he puts that comic in a category along with Bone, Finder, and Strangers in Paradise, that in the 1990s was dubbed the "new mainstream". This movement...

...attempted to stake out a space between the standard superheroics of DC, Marvel, and Image Comics and the artsy fringe of "alternative" comics... The concepts were varied, accessible, and usually well done. Typically involving some combination of fantasy, mystery, science fiction, adventure, and humor, the titles reflected the kind of genre mix you'd find in the mass-market paperback books or network television. The stories were rich without the crust of "continuity" and whiff of juvenilia that hovers over superhero comics...

However, Salkowitz goes on to say that in the early 2000s the "new mainstream" fell apart, partially due to production costs and Diamond dropping low selling indies from their catalog, but:

At the same time, the natural audience for "new mainstream" titles found its entertainment desires satisfied by dense new episodic genre shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, and Supernatural, which tap into the same kind of sensibilities and appeal as comics.

Salkowitz doesn't tie it all together, but i will. Readers abandoned the "new mainstream" titles that eschewed continuity when those genres became available in other formats and at the same time those formats were adding continuity. Meanwhile, the continuity-laden super-hero comics are the ones that survived. And it makes a kind of sense. If (true) mainstream genres are available in other formats (television, paperback books) why would people need to seek out this non-mainstream format for them? Even the super-hero genre, once notoriously difficult to transfer to the screen, is now gaining traction in movies and on television. If that happens; if, say, the "Defenders" line of Netflix shows kicks off an era of super-heroes on television, is Marvel prepared to pack in their publishing line?

I've always said i don't think it's super-heroes specifically that makes Marvel interesting. If i just wanted great super-hero stories, there are a lot of options out there. And if Science Fiction or Swords & Sorcery or anything else had been the genre fad when the Lee/Kirby era started, would things not have picked up in the same way? It's the shared universe that kept people engaged. When Tom Brevoort (in the link above) says the job and the goal is "not to maintain the continuity, it's to tell excellent and engaging stories that excite and involve the readers", i disagree. Sure, we want "excellent and engaging stories", but we can get that from a lot of places. The unique thing Marvel has to offer is its continuity. And multi-title continuity with a history that reaches back 50+ years is the one unique thing that comics can offer long after everything else is available in other formats. So how did it become the industry's boogyman?

By fnord12 | September 19, 2014, 4:23 PM | Comics | Comments (6) | Link

Marvel Sales


By fnord12 | September 19, 2014, 4:04 PM | Comics| Link

September 18, 2014

It's a Gordon Ramsay world

Restaurants are reducing the number of options on their menus. No word on whether they're also replacing all their tables with booths and benches.

(Kevin Drum disputes the idea that they're reducing their menus for aesthetic reasons and not as a cost cutting measure, but that ruins my joke. "Joke".)

By fnord12 | September 18, 2014, 1:47 PM | TeeVee & Ummm... Other?| Link

September 17, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Captain Marvel #7 - Well we all knew that an issue featuring Rocket Raccoon and Captain Marvel's cat was going to be well received in this household. And the guest art by Marcio Takara was unobtrusive and pretty good. My only question is if these flerken are in any way related to the space cats from Speedball #6.

New Warriors #9 - What to say at this point? It continues to be a great book but even if i convinced anyone new of that, it's already cancelled. This issue featured Justice and Scarlet Spider fighting a giant bear sports mascot, but that was really just a disguise for some nice character development, and it was a downtime issue for the rest of the cast, although it's still moving a plot forward for Hummingbird that i'm wondering if there will be time to get to. And speaking of unresolved plots, what happened to Phobos, Helio, and Gronk?

Ms. Marvel #8 - Ok guys, i've been convinced to take this book seriously because i think it's really good. But now that you've got my attention, that also means you get my nerdy niggling questions. Like, she recognizes this giant teleporting dog as Lockjaw, but she doesn't seem to question at all why he's been sent to her? She's just sort of adopted it and is using it to teleport her around. And that's cute and cool and all, but it makes her look overly naive, especially for someone that is supposed to be a knowledgeable fangirl. She doesn't wonder if it relates to her origin, or at least consider trying to send the dog back home? Anyway, still a very fun book.

By fnord12 | September 17, 2014, 6:12 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Fed vacancies

Matthew Yglesias on "Obama's biggest economic policy mistake".

By fnord12 | September 17, 2014, 6:10 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Lead again

Kevin Drum has the latest evidence of how our switch to unleaded paint and gasoline reduced crime. I know i link-blog about this a lot, but i really do think it's incredibly important, sort of the greatest environmental clean-up story most people don't even know about let alone being critical for understanding crime statistics.

By fnord12 | September 17, 2014, 6:05 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science| Link

September 16, 2014

Recap 60

Did you know that Baatezu is both the singular and the plural form? We didn't.

Chicken God Egg: The Angelic Furnace

By min | September 16, 2014, 2:46 PM | D&D| Link

The Homeless for Fracking

Some funny business going on at a hearing on fracking in North Carolina.


Another 18 or so men sported turquoise-colored "Shale Yes" T-shirts. Some of them expressed confusion about why they were in Cullowhee. A handful removed their shirts or turned them inside out after anti-fracking supporters quizzed them about their knowledge of fracking. One of the men told The Herald he stays in a Winston-Salem homeless shelter and came because he had been told it would help the environment. He said he felt misled. The man, an Army veteran receiving mental-health care, refused to provide his name or additional details, saying he didn't want any trouble. To prove his story, he fished in his pocket and produced a Bethesda Center For The Homeless business card.

The men who would talk - none were willing to provide their names -- seemed nervous. They asked reporters to close their notebooks when other people approached. One warned another to be quiet. They denied receiving money to attend the hearing.

And here:

"They were clueless," said Bettie "Betsy" Ashby, a member of the Jackson County Coalition Against Fracking. "At least two of them I met definitely came from a homeless shelter. One of them even apologized to me and said, 'I didn't know they were trying to do this to me.' One said, 'I did it for the...' and then he rubbed his fingers together like 'for the money.'"


One man, who identified himself as "Christian Bradshaw," initially said, "We feel we did not know about none of this." But later he adds, "We're pretty much out here supporting the needs of energy (and) jobs."

His friends begin laughing. One of them covers his face with his hat. Another man, wearing a T-shirt with marijuana leaves on it that says, "Please Keep on the Grass," yells a comment about legalizing marijuana as he heads into the auditorium.

A man wearing a turquoise "Shale Yes" shirt and an identification badge tells Ashby, "They're here to learn." When the cameraman approaches, the man flips the ID badge around.

Ashby said one of the men told her he didn't want to talk because he feared the trip organizers would not give him a ride back to Winston-Salem.

"They were scared," Ashby said. "I don't think they had any idea what they were getting into. Once they realized it, they were very uncomfortable. They were completely clueless about what fracking is. They're being exploited seven ways to Sunday."

By fnord12 | September 16, 2014, 12:33 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Churning out the hits

It must kind of suck to be an aging arena rocker. Here are three variations on the same theme from a (now out of date) review of upcoming tours in the July issue of Rolling Stone:


Don't expect to hear many songs from Aerosmith's most recent album... "We really believe in the new album,' says Joe Perry. "But the audience wants the old stuff."

Motley Crue:

"Do you leave out 'Girls, Girls, Girls' and please the 200 people in the arena that want the deep tracks?" Sixx asks. "It's hard."

Tom Petty:

Expect Petty and the Heartbreakers to go deep into their new studio album... "It would be a shame not to - I want people to know it exists," says Petty of the record, "and that it's a real album."

On the one hand, it must be awesome for people wanting to hear any of the music you've written, but you can imagine that they'd really like to stretch out and think that they're still doing relevant stuff. Interesting distinctions, too. Aerosmith is just doing what the fans want, Petty goes in the opposite direction, and Motley Crue's not even thinking about new music, just whether or not to play the hits vs. the album tracks. But they're all struggling with the same basic problem.

By fnord12 | September 16, 2014, 11:07 AM | Music | Comments (1) | Link

September 15, 2014

State secrets all the way down

To get all Glenn Greenwald for a minute, one reason that liberals have been disappointed in Obama isn't because, like, he failed to fight Republicans hard enough and stuff. It's because in several ways he's continued some of the worst policies of the Bush administration when it comes to the NSA and drone warfare and a relatively obscure topic, state secrets privilege, which is where the government gets court cases thrown out because, they claim, allowing them to go forward would threaten national security. The use of the state secrets argument increased dramatically under Bush but then continued (Greenwald would say increased) under Obama. The latest example is particularly egregious because the court case is not even against the government. It's against a (supposedly) private advocacy group that a business owner is suing for defamation.

The Justice Department intervened late Friday in a defamation lawsuit against United Against Nuclear Iran, a prominent advocacy group that pushes for tough sanctions against Tehran. The government said the case should be dropped because forcing the group to open its files would jeopardize national security.

The group is not affiliated with the government, and lists no government contracts on its tax forms. The government has cited no precedent for using the so-called state-secrets privilege to quash a private lawsuit that does not focus on government activity.

The lawsuit is brought by a Greek shipping company that has been accused of doing business with Iran by United Against Nuclear Iran. Presumably the company thinks they can prove that United Against Nuclear Iran's accusation is hurting their reputation and profits. They tried to subpoena the group's donor list, maybe to show that a rival business is among their contributors. The issue may seem trivial to us, but this company now has no recourse to the law thanks to the intervention of the government. This could nepotism, it could be an indication that the government is engaging in illegal propaganda, or it could "just" be a continued case of overreach of the state-secrets privilege. Regardless of which it is, it seems fishy and a more real type of Federal government abuse of power than the stuff you see Tea Party and Libertarian types complaining about. Which is too bad because it would be nice to see a left-right coalition on issues like these.

By fnord12 | September 15, 2014, 9:45 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 11, 2014

Whale of sale

If Namor seems a little out of character, not getting too mad about potentially being called "fishy" and making bad sea puns, it's probably because this is meant to be a young Namor, since at the time (1988-1989) the only Namor comic being published was the Saga of the Sub-Mariner book that retold his history. That series wasn't even available for subscription (being a limited series), making the use of him to advertise subscriptions the thing that was really fishy.

By fnord12 | September 11, 2014, 5:43 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

Did we win?

Yesterday was the "Battle for the Net" and so we had the image below at the top of our website. I'm fairly confident that due to our vast influence, we convinced the FCC to support net neutrality. But just in case, here's the image again in a blog post:

By fnord12 | September 11, 2014, 7:08 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 10, 2014

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Savage Hulk #3 - I find myself literally without comment on this, actually.

She-Hulk #8 - Honestly, i knew that Nick Fury had been aged recently but i didn't know the same thing had happened to Captain America (i knew the Falcon was replacing him but i didn't know why). So with last issue's cliffhanger i thought the story was going to be about some old guy that was going to hire She-Hulk to prove that he was really Captain America. Then when Min got outraged about it i looked it up online and it does seem to really have happened. Once again i say unto thee: footnotes would be nice. of course it's just a story and it'll all get reset to status quo at some point in the future, and in the meantime this is a funny story, and i'm still liking Pulido's art.

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #15 - Another great, funny, interesting issue. It would be fitting (but unorthodox) if the series ends with the characters all having betrayed each other to the point where they can't work together anymore and having gained nothing, and it does seem like that's where we're going.

By fnord12 | September 10, 2014, 2:13 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

September 8, 2014

Executive Disorder

Looking at the reaction to Obama's decision to delay his executive action on immigration, i'm reminded about how this was supposed to be the year of the executive order, but so far that hasn't really been the case.

But right now i'm actually just thinking about the political strategy behind this recent decision. So regardless of whether immigration reform is a good thing and whether or not the executive order would have been constitutional (i think yes to both, but it's besides the point here), does delaying the order make sense?

The idea is that it's supposed to help red state Democratic senators. But anyone that is against immigration is going to vote against the Democrat regardless of whether or not this executive order was issued. And anyone that would only be motivated to vote because of this issue seems to have more reason to get to the voting booth if it means they have a chance to help Republicans take back the Senate to prevent the order. Meanwhile, all of the pro-reform supporters are demoralized and angry at Obama and the Dems for this, making them less likely to vote, donate, help with get out the vote operations, etc.. So the whole thing makes no strategic sense to me.

I guess i'll wait until after the election and see all the people interviewed who say, "Yep, i was going to vote for the Republican but since President Obama decided to wait until after the election to issue the executive order, i decided to vote for the Democrat (or not vote).".

By fnord12 | September 8, 2014, 12:48 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

September 6, 2014

Not my Marvel Action Hour

There have been a lot of Marvel cartoons, but it was pretty sparse for actual Marvel characters in 1989, apparently. Prior to this there was of course Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and the Hulk, and there were also Fantastic Four cartoons and even a Spider-Woman cartoon. But in 1989 poor Spider-Man had to contend with Robocop and the Dino-Riders, the latter of whom are admittedly almost by definition cool, but i've never heard of them (and who is that dude in the "rear view mirror"? He looks like Dr. Demonicus.).

It seems the Pryde of the X-Men pilot would occasionally run during this slot as well, so that's something.

A few years after this Marvel gets back into the swing of things with the X-Men cartoon and a new Spider-Man cartoon and then Hulk, Fantastic Four and Iron Man shows, all of which were, relatively speaking, more faithful to the comics than anything that had come before (except when they literally cut images out of the comics and had them talk to us), but it seems for a brief period your Marvel cartoon options were limited.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2014, 9:45 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

Lurkers Beyond Bathtime

I considered just posting these first two panels without context:

But i couldn't ignore the unknowable horror of Mr. Bubble himself.

Marvel had obviously realized by 1989 that its audience was getting older, since it's clearly advertising to parents here. Can't get your kids to take a bath? Put them under the thrall of an amorphous elder god!

Also, i'm hoping this is a two tub household. Because the younger sister is clearly running to take a bath in the first two panels, and she comes out clean in the fourth...

...but she's not visible in the third panel at all. Unless she IS Mr. Bubble, perhaps having allowed herself to be possessed so that the entity may take corporeal form on the Material Plane.

And why is some of the boy's dialogue in quotes? He's reciting from some unholy arcane text, that's why.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2014, 12:42 PM | Comics | Comments (2) | Link

The power to move and my GIANT FIST!

By fnord12 | September 6, 2014, 12:39 PM | Video Games| Link

Action set is all you need to play with power!

By 1989 my comic collecting was winding down a bit, in no small part due to the arrival of Nintendo. But i never bought a game from the Sears catalog or their hotline, which is good because who knows if the game you ordered would be the game you received. Take a look at the first three screenshots here. The first and third images are swapped (it's a picture of Simon's Quest at the top and Zelda II in spot #3), and the second image is showing a scene from Super Mario Brothers I (which came with the system!) instead of II. I also would not want to have wound up with Wizzard and Warriors, obviously a cheap knock-off of the superior Wizards and Warriors game.

I do enjoy the duck-faced Koopas and somewhat off model Bowser. I feel like i've seen that style of Koopa somewhere else, but i'm not sure where. But they are particularly nightmarish and i think they should be brought back.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2014, 12:24 PM | Video Games | Comments (1) | Link

Something for the ladies

We've all seen the Milo Manara Spider-Woman cover, so it's only fair to give something back. Here's how the Drama Channel advertises Pride & Prejudice.

Obsession with that particular scene has apparently reached gigantic and terrifying proportions.

By fnord12 | September 6, 2014, 12:20 PM | Boooooks & TeeVee | Comments (6) | Link

September 5, 2014

Quickie Horde

Well, it was supposed to be a quickie. I wanted to get one more batch of miniatures painted during my "break" from the comics project, and i went to pick out miniatures where i could just do a standard base coat> wash> quick detailing. And i picked out three of them (the red-headed fighter, the thief, and the zombie). But then i decided i'd take all these unusual translucent miniatures. My original thought was i'd just paint some eyes and highlights and otherwise leave them alone. I mean, they're practically already painted, right? And that's what i did for the red ones. But as i started looking at the green ones, i realized there's a lot of detail in those minis that isn't really visible if you leave them unpainted. For example, i had no idea that the one miniature on the left was three naked ladies hugging each other until i really squinted at it (quite what use that will be to me in a game is unclear) or that the one in the back was a mass of skeletons in an unearthly flame. So i wound up using more paint on them than anticipated. And painting these guys is actually pretty nerve wracking and pretty much push me to the limits of my meager abilities, since if you mess up you can't just paint over it (without obscuring the parts you are leaving translucent. So i didn't take as many risks and there were definitely a few times where i had to scrape off paint with a knife. But i'm still pretty happy with how they came out.

By fnord12 | September 5, 2014, 11:05 AM | D&D| Link

Mary Worth gets weird(er)

Yay! Second brain in my belly!

Click the image for a bigger version and commentary at the always funny Comics Curmudgeon.

By fnord12 | September 5, 2014, 9:27 AM | Comics| Link

September 4, 2014

Marry up

Pretty sure Min told me it says the same thing in Piketty's book.

By fnord12 | September 4, 2014, 2:08 PM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

September 3, 2014

Mostly Furniture Horde

None of these are actually Bones . Around the same time i was backing that Kickstarter someone told me about a smaller miniature vendor that was retiring and having a close-out sale, so of course i compounded my backlog by getting some from him. These are metal figures, and as you can see, a lot of them are props, like candles and ballistas and a throne and a spellbook. And what was described as an elf boy with a toy bow but which i will use as a halfling. And for some reason he had an echidna and a playtpus and for some reason i bought them. Hey, Echidna was the mother of all monsters, and a platypus combines the powers of a beaver, duck (never pick up a duck in a dungeon!), snake, and alligator, right?

By fnord12 | September 3, 2014, 4:00 PM | D&D| Link

September 1, 2014

Walking Upright is the Key

Fnord12 thought i needed to share this with you.

When Yano was preparing her written texts for the exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum, she says she described Hello Kitty as a cat. "I was corrected -- very firmly," she says. "That's one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty."

That's what separates Goofy from Pluto.

Like my great grandmother would say, there's a clear hierarchy where animals that show their back to the sky are inferior to those that don't (what she actually said was it meant they were there for us to eat. i don't know how these conversations got started, but you couldn't very well argue with a 100 year old woman. you just rolled with it when it happened.).

She's definitely a cartoon character, a girl, and a friend. If Sanrio wants us to keep hush hush on cats owning other cats, i'm willing to do that.

By min | September 1, 2014, 7:21 PM | Cute Things | Comments (1) | Link

Cheetah Ambassadors

"As the two companions grow up together, the dog's body language will communicate to the cheetah that there's nothing to fear in new or public surroundings".

By fnord12 | September 1, 2014, 2:50 PM | Cute Things | Comments (1) | Link

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