Friday, March 22, 2013

academic conferences: like blogging with fewer followers

There's been a lack of posts here over the past few weeks, but fear not, blog readers, it's not because I don't still love you.  I do, I do, deep in the cockles of my heart.  But I've had a few projects that have come up to take away a lot of my free time, two of which are at least semi-academic in nature.  But don't worry; like most things in life, I do my best to take a shortcut around actual work and research and just talk or write about comics.

CASE IN POINT!  Next week I'll be speaking at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association's national conference in Washington, DC.  As far as academic conferences go, it's pretty unpretentious, which is good, because I'll be keeping a straight face as I give my presentation on Frank Miller's awful "Holy Terror", talking about the potential unintentional satire contained within the book's pages.  Here's kind of proof!

I'm actually not a stranger to Dr. Wandtke, as he hosted panels at which I spoke in 2005 and 2006.  It'll be fun to catch up and talk comics with a few like-minded individuals.  And getting back to Holy Terror hasn't been as painful as I imagined it would be...if you squint real hard, there does seem to be at least the possibility that the book is just one big satirical look at American culture as opposed to the racist, hate-filled tome that it, in all likelihood, probably is.

The next opportunity came out of the blue, and it also fits into the professional/semi-professional category of writing.  I came across somebody's reference to the Journal of Venture Studies, an online publication that takes an academic approach to analysis of The Venture Bros. show that I love so very very much.  According to the editors of the book, the first volume (which you can read in its entirety online) caught the eyes of some folks at Adult Swim, who agreed to sponsor a second volume of the journal as a way to promote the upcoming fifth season.

I learned about this call for papers about 36 hours before the deadline, but I was able to get a proposal in that was accepted and, as long as I sit down and do the work (which I will), and that work is good work (which I hope and pray it will be), will have an entry in this sure to be prestigious volume in the storied annals of Venture analysis.

My topic this time around?  Ben Edlund and the Tick's influence on the Venture Bros. show and an analysis of "¡Viva los Muertos!", which is the only episode of the series not at least co-written by Jackson Public or Doc Hammer.  So I'm not straying too far from familiar ground, but I'm looking forward to it in any case.  And for all of you who enjoy instant gratification, this should be published in April, before the new season airs.

Maybe I'll get an honorary degree in comics for these.  Or something.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Thing "Ben Cooper" Halloween Costume, Dustin Tokarski's goalie mask, Kickstarter(s) and more RANDOM NOTES!

It's been a while since we had some random notes here at blog central, and the masses have been clamoring.  I am, of course, but a humble servant, so here we are with more thoughts about a bunch of stuff, most of which is actually comic related.  And also Franks and Beans.  Away we go!

- Ben Cooper was a company that made popular Halloween costumes a few decades back, and for a while they had a licensing agreement with Marvel Comics to produce costumes based on some of their more popular characters.  One of those costumes happened to be of the ever-lovin' Thing, and I managed to land one of my favorite non-pornographic website in the world, eBay, for a great price.

The costume and box have some scuffs to them, but overall these are in nice shape and I'll be happy to wear this costume to every Halloween party until I die and also if I ever decide to start committing crimes.  I have a feeling, though, that if I would ever start to go down that dangerous path, the goodness and rightness of the Thing would pull me back before I was too far gone.

This costume is, of course, hideous (though the mask is surprisingly well done), but this is part of its charm.  Ben Cooper, as I said, made a number of costumes and all of them were embarrassingly simplistic and/or ugly, but this was the style of a kids Halloween costume in the 1960s, '70s and '80s and I love this find.  I appreciate the sticker on the box, as seen above, that tells you just how one is supposed to wear the costume.  Thanks, B.C.

- I've gotten a few pieces of art framed recently at the Wood Street Frame shop in Pittsburgh, and they've done a good job at what I've turned in so far.  The latest item is Jeff Lafferty's original Teddy and the Yeti art, which I'm relieved to say that I've finally got behind glass.  Much of what I have framed tends to be big and therefore a little cumbersome, but this here is small enough that I can close my hand around it, which should make finding a place for it much easier.

- If you're a fan of the NHL, then you're aware the city of Montreal exists in real life.  They have hockey there, and they speak French.  And also the goaltender for the Canadiens has the Tick on his goalie mask.

Dustin "Tic" Tokarski is enough a fan of his nickname and the popular '90s cartoon that he decided to emblazon his helmet with the big blue hero busting out of the side.

This isn't the first time he's done it, even.  He spent last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and put the Tick on that helmet as well.  If I had to choose, I'd say that the Lightning helmet is my favorite of the two, as the blue works better as part of the overall scheme.

Should I...should I send this guy a copy of the Free Comic Book Day issue?  Maybe we'll become fast friends.

- There are a couple new Kickstarter projects going on right now that feature work from friends of the blog.  First, Paul Tucker is teaming up with Tim (Hack/Slash) Seeley and others to work on a project called "Mini Comics Included", which takes its cues from those little comics that would be packaged with action figures most famously in the 1980s (He-Man springs to mind).  There are six tiny comics in all and Paul is drawing two of them!  The've got some great rewards up for grabs so check out the page and back it if you can:

The other Kickstarter project I'm backing is a short film adaptation of FUBAR head honcho Jeff McComsey's "American Terror"!  I inquired about how much I would have to donate to play a role in the short of someone who gets killed, but alas, the film is in post-production and the fundraiser is just to get it over the hump.  Regardless, you can check out the American Terror page here:

Everyone's buddy "Artboy_X" brought this one to my attention from Art Thibert, who might be best known for his work on a whole bunch of X-Men titles.  Thibert is Kickstarting his own title, Chrono Mechanics, about company that specializes in repairing problems in the timeline.  The CM Kickstarter page is here:

- I bought an early issue of Marvel Team-Up a few months back with Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic teaming up to, I don't know, battle evil or something.  I thought the first page credits were pretty funny - specifically the inking credit.  At first I thought that it was a charming reminder of the "seat of your pants" attitude that must have reigned at Marvel in those early days, but then I remembered that there are still plenty of books out there today that employ four or five (or more) inkers for a single story.

- Lastly, it's been a while since I've posted any new Franks and Beans.  So here's our 58th episode, "A Watched Pot"!  Enjoy!  Or just watch it.  Please.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

There's a new "most annoying comic book ad" in town

The above image is from a new promotion for the TBS series "King of the Nerds".  This has been running as the back cover ad for a number of comic books recently, and it's distinctive enough that it's something I notice every time around.  There are plenty of annoying comic book ads, but it take a special combination of pervasiveness, repetition and design to rise to the level that this new ad reaches.

A while ago, I posted some thoughts on what I consider to be the most annoying comic book ad of all time - the Gap ads of the late 1990s that featured kids in strange poses wearing bright Gap clothes: namely the one you see below:

There are a few similarities between the two ads beyond the physical look of the piece, but the thing they have most in common, to me, is that they both feature people with weird, forced expressions to the point that I want to punch the models.  That's right - I want to punch that kid in the face.  He's got to be like 25 at this point, so it's less illegal than it used to be.

With the "King of Nerds" ad, it's again the expression that rubs me the wrong way.  It's the drawn up mouth, the crooked smirk, the shifty eyes...pretty much everything that's going on here.

I don't even care that much about the tedium that is the 'crown-made-from-game-controllers' joke to the image.  I just don't like the guy, even though I have no idea who he is and I've never watched a minute of the show he's apparently on.  I suppose that this post is a look into some of my psychoses.

I doubt that I ever would have watched the show, regardless of the type of ad they ran for it.  TBS seems to be trying to capitalize on the success of shows like "The Big Bang Theory", which I'm not a fan of at any rate, and maybe there's a market for something like this, though it doesn't seem to be for me.  The show is hosted by some of the actors from the "Revenge of the Nerds" movies, which I enjoyed for what they were, and that's nice.  But even if the show was a fantastic piece of art, I'd have a hard time tuning in because of this ad.  It just drives me crazy, and since it's crept into the realm of "memorable comic book ads" for me, I'll remember it forever.  FOREVER!  This is my curse.