Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween 2012!

Doesn't this blog have enough pictures of people in costumes?  Oh well, perhaps it's like Jell-O.  There's always room for more.  Or perhaps this is the case:

In either case, Halloween is tomorrow and I might as well get these pictures up and online before something else comes along and distracts me, like any of the legitimate reasons I have for being on the computer as opposed to adding a new post to the blog.

The picture of the very top is another by my friend Vicki, a photographer who asked me to dress up like the Flash for a project featuring shoes.  I was sold when I heard the word "Flash".  Oh, who am I kidding.  I was sold when she said she wanted to take a picture of me.  I'm so damn photogenic.  Vicki also photographed me at Pittsburgh Comics a little while back.

It's interesting that a mass marketed Frankenberry costume is made.  If the brand is that popular, why doesn't General Mills make the cereal all year round and not just for one month, forcing me to buy a dozen boxes every October?  I guess I'll never know.  I bought this costume at the last minute on eBay. It was my fourth attempt at bidding on one.  At three separate opportunities I was outbid my voracious buyers on eBay.  How is that possible?  Oh well.  I got one in the end, and it showed up just in time.  I went out to a party on Saturday and poured out some cereal to those who wanted it, or at least those who allowed me, a stranger in a costume, to pour unknown cereal into their hands.

Larry was there, too, revisiting the wrestling theme.  He talked the DJ into creating a new category so he could enter the contest, which he won, and then won a prize for the best overall costume.  That smooth talker.

The place had a Ms. Pac Man machine.  Does anyone ever play Galaga on these dual cabinets?  My big Frankenberry mitts would present an added challenge.

And for some reason, my nephews decided to dress up for Halloween, too.  It's strange to see kids dressing up when Halloween costumes are obviously something that only adults do.  But whatever...maybe they're trying to emulate me or something.  Jake here dressed up as the Flash last year, so he's keeping the super hero theme going.  And his new little brother, "near mint" Logan, is his dutiful sidekick.

My sister and her husband have taught Jake the theme to the 1960s Batman TV show.  Fifty years old and that thing still has legs.  Crazy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Damn it, Ed Brubaker!

Ed Brubaker is one of my favorite writers working in comics today.  He's one of the guys who seems, to me, to get what comics are all about, and what separates comics from all other types of media.  His work on Fatale and Incognito is just incredible, and his run on Captain America, shortly coming to an end, has been epic in scope.  He's left a lasting effect on the character; as much as one can leave on a corporately owned character, in any case.

Brubaker is soon leaving the ranks of Marvel to focus solely on his creator-owned work, and I'm sure he'll find great success there - more than he's already found, which is a considerable amount.  He's a crime noir author of great skill and I will certainly follow his work wherever it leads.

I mention all of this because I don't want anyone to get the impression that I don't hold Brubaker's work in the highest of regards, because I do.  In the last year or so, though, I've noticed a funny trend in his Captain America-themed comics that I thought I'd point out for no other reason than I had a stack of Cap comics with me today as well as a camera.

In short, Ed Brubaker writes the phrase "damn it!" in his Captain America books more than I've ever seen it used before.

In working my way through a stack of new comics, I sat down today with two issues of Captain America and three issues of Winter Soldier, both solid titles all around.  I decided, since I had a decent number of issues at my immediate disposal, to count the number of times the phrase "damn it" was used, in all of its iterations (that is, "dammit" also counts).  When I read the choice phrase, I took a picture, and here are the results.

If you read a book like Fatale, for instance, you'll find much harsher language, violence and other R-rated themes than you'd ever find in books like Brubaker's Cap-themed duo of publications.  That makes sense, of course; it also makes sense that the language would be toned down a bit, and "damn" is just about as innocuous as you can get while still clinging to a bit of an edge.  So I understand why it's being used so often - but it's still funny to see it pop up in every story, multiple times, sometimes in adjoining panels.

The most recent Captain America storyline is merely co-written by Brubaker; I'd venture a guess that he's simply plotting the issues before his departure (though it looks like he'll return to full scripting duties one last time before the book rolls over into a Marvel Now!-themed relaunch in just a few weeks).  That being the case, I can't be sure if Brubaker or the co-writer of the storyline, Cullen Bunn, is responsible for the dialogue choice in the issues in question.  But hey, it's in there, so why not take a picture?

Regardless of how good the new Captain America stories are once he moves on, I will surely miss Ed Brubaker's work on the book.  All the best to him as he fully immerses himself in creator-owned comics, damn it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum

In January of this year, I visited Pittsburgh's Toonseum for the first time.  The Toonseum, for those of you who don't know, is one of only two museums dedicated solely to comic and cartoon art in the entire United States, and as such, it's a rare treat and a boon for the Pittsburgh area.  The other of the two is located in none other than the city of San Francisco, some 2,500 miles west along the California coast.  I didn't think I'd get to visit both in such a short period of time, but this summer, after the trip to Comic-Con in San Diego, I drove up the coast and spent some time in San Francisco.  I figured that I might as well make it two-for-two so one sunny Saturday afternoon, on a day of sightseeing, I walked over to the Cartoon Art Museum.

The museum, like the Toonseum, takes up the equivalent of a storefront near the city's downtown area. I was surprised at how similarly set up the two museums were, and how one might be able to pass for the other if you weren't familiar with the locations.  The Cartoon Art Museum is bigger than the Toonseum, but not by a significant amount.

The museum's feature exhibit, perhaps influenced by the recently concluded Comic-Con as much as the summer's blockbuster movie scene, revolved around the Avengers.  The display was very impressive as it showed off artwork from 50 years of Avengers comics in chronological order.  There were plenty of popular storylines covered as well as some lesser known pieces.  Starting out and seeing an original Jack Kirby page from 1963's Avengers #1 was thrilling - and what an act for the other pieces to follow!

There were several Kirby pages on display.  It was refreshing to see the original art, unencumbered by the poor printing capabilities of the 1960s.

On the other side of the display was Frank Cho's original cover art from Avengers Vs. X-Men #0.  Quite lovely!

More art from the wall.  Most of the pages were preserved well, though some were showing their age.

OH YEAH!  The original cover art to Marvel Two-in-One #75!  I was happy to see the Thing show up so prominently.

This Avengers West Coast issue was probably one of the more obscure pieces there, but I latched on to it (not literally; that's illegal) because it's drawn by one of my favorite artists, Paul Ryan.

The second exhibit was dedicated to MAD Magazine.  I know much less about MAD than I do about comic books to be certain, but it was still a real treat to see artwork from such an influential book, and they had some great pieces to be sure, including some by the great Jack Davis.

This strip is a greeeeeeat parody of the Silver Age Superman.  Loved it.

I figured Larry might like this one.

Moving on to further exhibits, I was stunned to see original art from seminal classics from the early 20th century.  This is an original Krazy Kat page!  Unbelievable!

And here's an original page from The Spirit by Will Eisner.  Again, just incredible.

This little montage adorned the walls of the gift shop, which was impressive in its own right.

One of the signature pieces of the museum was this original animation camera, used in the late 1940s and early 50s.  It's great that a piece like this, something so important to animation history, has a place to be on display.  Much of what was on exhibit this day was comic art, and while that's certainly a favorite of mine, there wasn't much in the way of cartoon cels or production artwork.  Maybe there'll be some in the next big exhibition.

The Cartoon Art Museum was a great place to visit and it lived up to my expectations.  It is very similar to the Toonseum in its focus and its layout, though this trip made it clear that the Toonseum still has a little ways to go to match what they're doing in San Francisco.  They'll get there, though.

Another day took me to the de Young Fine Art Museum, which had slightly different types of art.

That's not to say that there wasn't the ever present influence of comics there, though, as I found this beauty by Mel Ramos hanging in one of the more crowded hallways.

And then I saw the house they filled for the establishing shots of "Full House".  Do you hear me, world?  I saw the Full House house!

I did other touristy stuff, too, like when I walked across this big bridge.  I forget its name.  Thanks, San Francisco, for a week of culture and art!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Franks and Beans - Comic-Con Intersmashional

Never let it be said that Franks and Beans isn't opportunistic.  Please feel free to say that Franks and Beans isn't popular, because that is true.  But one day...oh, one day.

In a final act of 2012 Comic-Con jubilance, Larry and I took time as cleanup was taking place on Sunday, the last day of the show and minutes after the doors closed, to have some fun and run through the aisles (much to the dismay of the booming, all-seeing Voice of Comic-Con).  We took that footage and edited it into the 57th episode of Franks and Beans.  We even incorporated our Jet Boy and Jet Girl costumes into it!

Watch and be amazed.  Or, dammit, just watch.  And check our our Franks and Beans website at www.franksandbeansonline.com.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Some lucky finds - Fantastic Four and more!

I've been watching a few episodes of Syfy's "Collection Intervention" show lately, and while it has a number of cliched attributes that make me loathe most reality programming - obviously scripted moments, a flair for the overdramatic, a handful of people who don't know what they're talking about - I will say that, overall, I enjoy it.  Beyond being a fairly entertaining show, I think that the host's message of smart collecting, as opposed to just grabbing everything in sight, is something more collectors, including myself, should pay attention to.

Over the past month or two, I've managed to land a number of items that'll fit right into my collection.  Is it smart collecting?  In some cases, I don't know.  Some of the additions might indicate some kind of completist OCD tendencies, but I will say that I was excited to get each piece, and ecstatic for a few.

McMurray's Pittsburgh Comics, as you might have heard, is awesome.  It's one of the best stores I've ever been to.  It seems that the store always has some great dollar books on sale, which leads to me spending more time there than I plan.  Above are some of the books I got, each with a Fantastic Four theme, for a buck a piece.  The Thing image on the bottom right is that of an oversized Fleer trading card.

This cover looks familiar - it's the ubiquitous Fantastic Four (vol. 3) #60, otherwise known as the nine-cent issue.  Marvel sold somewhere around 600,000 of these things when they came out a number of years ago due to the minuscule price tag.  This particular version, however, was sold on the newsstand - i.e. places like the now-defunct Waldenbooks - for the regular $2.25.

As nine cents is a much better deal, almost no one bought this version, making it one of the most rare FF comics around.  I finally managed to track down a copy and got it for a decent price.

This comic is also a rare variant, but it's more of the manufactured rather than the market driven type.  It's the "premiere" variant of FF #1, which was given out to stores participating in a release party-type thing (how weird must those be??) at a strict limit of one per participating store.  What's different about it as compared to the regular edition?  VERY LITTLE!  The logo is in a different font...

...there's a montage on the back cover...

...and there's a personalized message on the inside cover from Marvel editor Tom Brevoort.  Otherwise, it's the same thing.  I now have each different FF #1 cover (out of the 10,000 released, which says something about Marvel's marketing strategies as well as my hopelessness).  I feel a strange sense of accomplishment.

From the land of eBay (wait...they changed their logo?) comes this 1970s book and record set, which, if it corresponds with the issue that the cover art is from, is of a retelling of Fantastic Four #1.  Why not just include the original first issue?  Oh well.  It's still pretty cool.

Minimates, for all their Lego-ness, are pretty cool (I wonder why noses are seemingly forbidden on their toys, though).  As the Thing has many changes of costume, it's absolutely necessary for there to be a Minimate depicting each one - and even more necessary for me to get them all.  The exclusive Future Foundation set comes with accessories for every character except the Thing, because the Thing doesn't need accessories.

...except if it's a trench coat.  And now I have two Doombots as well!  In case one gets broken.

The earlier mentioned Pittsburgh Comics sale also brought forth this gem, with Spider-Man 2099 on the front cover.  Hey, kids, it's even formatted for your three-ring binder!  The insides are basically character sheets for artists of the company.  I'll assume that these were mass produced regardless of the look, but either way, this is certainly an interesting item.

I hear good things about the new TMNT cartoon - I'll check it out soon.  In celebration (and since Nickelodeon is undertaking a huge marketing push), there are new "classic" TMNT figures on sale and they are really spiffy.  Larry (your friend and mine) got me this figure that features a manhole cover as a base.

There's a new "Weird Al" Yankovic book out!  It's called...Weird Al the Book!  Clever.  It's a semi-biographical book with insight from Al himself and tons of pictures.  You should buy two.

Everything else that was listed here - the books, the figures, whatever, pale in comparison to these final two items.  You could get everything else fairly easily if you really wanted them (and you do, you do), regardless of their level of awesomeness.  But I managed to score a couple rarer pieces in the last few weeks, and OH! how I've wanted to show them off a little bit.

Above is a picture of a seven foot tall, tri-cornered movie theater standee for the Dark Knight Rises.  The other two sides showcase Catwoman and Bane.  Where in the world do you put a seven foot tall movie display?  Anywhere you want!  Because that's just how it is.  I had to borrow a truck to haul this thing away, but it was worth it.  Perhaps I'll put it in front of a window, but only at night as to scare people walking by.

I saved the best for last.  A friend of mine sent me this original animation cell from the 1967 Hanna-Barbera Fantastic Four cartoon!  It's ten times cooler in person.  In this picture, it looks like the Thing is fighting a chair or even perhaps my dog.  I'm going to get this framed sometime soon because this is a museum quality piece, and I'm grateful to get it.  It's automatically one of the centerpieces of my collection.