Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A NYCC 2013 Moment # 12 NYCC 2013 The Year in Review.

'Twas the night before New Years (2014),

And all through the media,   

Are "The Year in Review" features - some are good,

Some are seedier. 

So, what the heck,  why not have our very own "The Year in Review" recap post for our wonderful experiences at New York Comic Con 2013!  (Yeah, it's a cheater, but go with it -- it's New Year's Eve!)  

Without further ado, here is my series of posts on the festivities -- all gathered in one convenient linking post for you to enjoy… or ignore. 

I like the way they begin with the costuming aspects of the Con, and segue into comics as they progress.  

Moment # 1:  “Freak-a-Re-do!

Moment # 3:  “Underwear For Art Thou?

Moment # 6:  “DC Finally Beats Marvel!

Moment # 7:  “Bootlegs Get the Boot?

Moment # 8:  “Unfinished Comic Business!

Moment # 9:  “The Walking (and almost) Dead!

Moment # 11:  “Ode (Owed?) to Edith!”

Full disclosure, and I should have mentioned this earlier, all of the costume photos seen in my various NYCC posts were not taken by me at NYCC 2013.  They were merely images from the Internet that were representative of what I saw.   Hope I didn’t mislead anyone in my innocent appreciation of such things.

Happy New Year, and I hope we all get to meet up at New York Comic Con 2014!  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Superman Saves Christmas - Bonus Coverage!

Oh - My - Gosh!  it's BONUS COVERAGE!

I was once a prolific comic book letter hack, with over 330 published Letters of Comment in the titles of pretty much every publisher I followed with any degree of consistency, from the '80s into the mid 2000s. 

Some of you may remember the undertaking I'm about to discuss, most of you will not (...or, never knew in the first place), but...

...When DC Comics ended their letter columns, sometime in mid-2002, that didn't stop me.  

I simply began producing a series of what I called "NON-LETTERS", which commented on the same issues as they were released, but might have been more frank or satirical, as they were not tailored for publication.  

In those Pre-Blogging days, I distributed these via an e-mail list of persons I knew that were interested in DC Comics, and might have enjoyed the comments.  

Today, they would be "Comic Review Blog Posts" -- and now (thanks to the miracle of "Copy" and "Paste") one of them actually is!  
Below is my "Non-Letter" to ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN # 623, which was the subject of OUR LAST POST.  Enjoy it as some sort of "Bonus Coverage"...

Oh, and notice that the New York Football Giants were bad THEN, too!  It's amazing how much of this stuff even *I* forgot! 
Time for another (long overdue) "Non-Letter" to DC's nonexistent letter columns!

Dear Mis-Adventurers:

Am I a hero?  A husband?  A role model?  Or am I just making things more complex than they really are…?

Probably.  Truth is, you’re ALL those things.  And MORE.”  -- Superman and Lois Lane, having another “heart to heart”, from ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN # 623. (Released December 17, 2003)

2003 has been an interesting year for writer Joe Casey and the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN title.  In this year, editor Eddie Berganza dispensed with the “book-to-book” connected continuity, began well over a decade ago by former Super-editor Mike Carlin, and had each Superman title stand completely on its own – telling its own particular stories. 

"...Now, with more SUPER!"
Joe Kelly’s ACTION COMICS, despite the muddled and confusing “Supergirls” arc, fared the best under this approach with “The Harvest” (Death of General Zod) being perhaps the best of the run.  Other highlights include the “Creeper on a Cruise Ship” and “New Year’s Eve Around the World” stand-alone stories in the last two issues of the year.  Let’s not even discuss the horrors that were Steven Seagle and Scott Mc Daniel’s SUPERMAN! 


Joe Casey’s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, however, was truly a “mixed bag”.  It started off far and away as the cream of the Super-crop with such great stuff as “The Hollow Men”, “Heroville” and “Funky Flashman’s Super Emporium”.  Then took a SHARP DIP with such substandard efforts as “The Candidate/ Cannibal Planet” and “Anti-Angelica” mini arcs. 

The Funky Flashman... Yes, really!
This issue’s “Bittersweet” falls squarely in-between.  Not the best, and far from the worst.  It’s the sort of “Supes takes Lois to a remote location(s) for some private soul-searching talks” thing that we’ve seen Dan Jurgens and company do so much better in the past.  

This one has an interesting twist, though.  Supes recounts some of his most recent “untold” adventures to Lois in the form of TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS.  Four stories, in all, are told in this format: “How Superman Saved Christmas”, “Secret of the Phantom Quarterback”, “Crisis on Earth-Mind”, and “The Day The Earth Divided”. 

All of these, in some way, would have made interesting stories in their own right (…and may have been resurrected from Casey’s “scrap pile” for this express purpose), but are somehow IMPROVED UPON by the brevity of the format – as opposed to devoting a minimum of 32 pages (less ads), or multiple issues, to each idea. 

The Christmas tale is my personal favorite, as, in recent years, I’ve become a sucker for stories that present the notion that “Santa Claus” is some sort of “real” supernatural being.  Examples of such stories occurred in the MEN IN BLACK animated series, and (…believe it or not) in a recent issue of SAVAGE DRAGON. 

And there he [Santa] was, practically an amalgamation of all the various descriptions he’d been given throughout the ages.  I suspect he looks different to everyone.  To me, he had the warmest smile I’d ever seen…”  OH, ISN’T THAT GREAT?!  REALLY!!! 

When the reindeer come down with a mysterious virus on Christmas Eve, Superman “…guides the sleigh tonight” – and helps with the general delivery of presents. 

Obviously, time passes much DIFFERENTLY for him on that night.  He’s never rushed.  I had to beg him to let me make a delivery or two…”.   JUST WONDERFUL!!!

As for the others:  If nothing else, “Secret of the Phantom Quarterback” conjured up images of the “Post Silver Age”, Julius Schwartz era for Superman of the 1970s thru mid-1980s.  The image of a helmet and a football uniform – with no body inside – running amok on a stadium field would have made a perfect cover circa the Schwartz era… and, somehow, big dumb jock sportscaster Steve Lombard (…anyone else remember him?)  would have been involved. 

Crisis on Earth-Mind” involved Silver Age Green Lantern villain Hector Hammond, while “The Day The Earth Divided” might have been a company-wide, summer crossover series had it been published in the mid-nineties.  Both benefited form the “condensed overview” approach.

All in all, quite a bit better than we’ve gotten from Casey in the last few months – and, while I’m still glad he’s departing as part of the sweeping “Super-creative changes” to come in early 2004, I’m also glad he went out on something of a high-note. 

Joe Torcivia  (…composing this Non-Letter on Christmas Eve, 2003 – and hopes Santa Claus IS, in fact, a supernatural being.  Also figures that the currently 4-11 New York Football Giants must have a “Phantom Quarterback” – or could USE ONE!)   


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Superman Saves Christmas!

As noted in our last post, darned near EVERYONE gets to “Save Christmas” at least once!  Ten years ago this month we were treated to how SUPERMAN did so, in the pages of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN # 623 (Cover Date: February, 2004). 
Click on ALL comic images to ENLARGE.

This issue was released at the tail end of what was a great editorial run for the Superman comic books, starting with the 1986 reboot by John Byrne, through the incredible weekly continuity period presided over by editor Mike Carlin, and later carried on by Eddie Berganza.    

 Superman (Clark Kent) is married to Lois Lane in this continuity and, as this series of illustrations indicates, the two of them “take a needed break from their busy lives to just stop and talk”.

One of the topics Clark covers is how Superman saved Christmas – nicely done as PROSE with accompanying illustrations. Reproduced here is that eight-panel portion of the comic.  Story is by Joe Casey, and art by Derec Aucoin.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Guess Who Saves Christmas This Time?

Does this guy need help to do his job?  So it would seem! 

Over the years, at Christmas time, a phenomenon has evolved and taken serious hold – that of “(Fill-In-the-Blank) saves Christmas. 

Just to name only a few, and to keep this Blog post at a reasonable length, we have: 

Mickey Mouse:  (You KNOW he did Santa Proud!)

Fred Flintstone: (Who, by every rule of both history and logic shouldn’t HAVE a Christmas to save!)

Johnny Bravo:  (Oh, Mama!  …‘Nuff said!)

FAMILY GUY’s Brian and Stewie:  (Oh, do they EVER screw it up – though, per the laws of Christmas stories, even THEY triumph in the end!)

I almost feel like, if I hang around long enough, even *I* might one day get to save Christmas! 

But, for now, the closest I’ll come is my Christmas Eve Blog post (HERE), where we will witness the account of another extremely well-known character who has saved Christmas! 

Be there, won’t you?  It’s as close as most of you will come to getting a gift from me!  J 

No, it's not Mickey!  Ho-Ho-Ho!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

R.I.P. Joan Fontaine – Fine Actress and First Lady of the Submarine Seaview.

Actress Joan Fontaine passed away on December 15, 2013, at the age of 96.

Ms. Fontaine may be best known for her starring roles in two Alfred Hitchcock films, Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941) – the latter of which won her an Academy Award.   …And you KNOW how much we love anything by Alfred Hitchcock around here! 

But, to me, even if Barbara Eden might have attracted her share of attention with her memorable (certainly for 1961) opening dance number... (click to enlarge)

...Joan Fontaine will always have the distinction of being the “First Lady of the Submarine Seaview”, in the 1961 feature film version of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA – not to mention…



…her very special status as its first villain and saboteur!  First, I might add, of MANY such villains and saboteurs, over the course of the (sub)sequent television series.

Joan Fontaine with Peter Lorre in "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" (1961)

To other “Things We Like at TIAH Blog”, Ms. Fontaine also appeared in the TV western WAGON TRAIN – in the episode “The Naomi Kaylor Story” (1963).  
She was quite the villain in WAGON TRAIN too!

Her amazing list of credits, from IMDB, can be found at THIS LINK.  

Rest In Peace, Ms. Joan Fontaine.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Brian’s Back! Anyone Surprised?

If I’m surprised at anything, it’s surprise at the DURATION of his absence! 

I think it's all about TODAY'S SHORT ATTENTION SPANS... and, an', um, WHAT was I sayin'? 

You can read my initial post on the subject HERE – and my follow-up post HERE.   I must also note that a clue to the key event to Brian’s return was cleverly and subtly introduced in the episode in which he was lost. 
Don't look for clues HERE!  Watch the original episode! 

As Brian’s “death” occurred in the FAMILY GUY episode broadcast on November 24 – and he returned in the December 15 show, he was really gone only for THREE WEEKS – and one of those weeks consisted of a RERUN. 
I feel as if I've been on a THREE WEEK VACATION! 

So, Brian was “gone” for only one full episode.  Yes, really! 

And, ultimately, my reaction is simply… always expect the unexpected from Seth MacFarlane!  …That and:  He didn’t even take the time to “milk it”!  

I dunno how to tell ya this Vinny... but CIAO! 
Then again, “milking it” is exactly what I would EXPECT him to do, so OF COURSE he didn’t do it!  …And “Vinny the Italian-American Talking Dog”, Brian’s extremely temporary replacement, didn’t even get to abruptly “return to his home planet” like Poochie!

Now, if Seth could continue on his resurrection roll and maybe finally get his version of THE FLINTSTONES on the air!   

Our Comments Section contains a SPOILER on Brian's return.  Read at your own risk!