ACE Is the Place


Cover of first issue of 'ACE' magazine with photos from current DC television series and other contents hype

Jon B. Cooke, a familiar name to those who enjoy reading about the stories behind the comics, is editing a new magazine called ACE — All Comics Evaluated that launches in March. The moniker is meant to indicate both that each issue will include a price guide and that stuff from across the incredibly wide spectrum of today's comics scene will be covered. I have a retrospective in the first issue on Robin the Boy Wonder, whose 75th anniversary is nigh.

One Ticket to Paradise


Smallville was a decade-long WB/CW hit that gave us the story of Clark Kent's
high-school and college years.


Title cards (logos) for Smallville, Gotham, and proposed Krypton TV series

Fox's Gotham begins with Bruce Wayne as a boy in the aftermath of his parents' murder.

Yesterday came word that a series called Krypton is in development, focused on the life of Superman's grandfather prior to the destruction of his home planet. Really!

Red, Gold, and Green


The CW's Flash/Arrow crossover last week was loads of fun.

Grant Gustin as The Flash and Stephen Amell as The Arrow standing together in a street scene facing opposite directions
Image from The Flash Ep. 1.08 "Flash vs. Arrow" © 2014 CW. Photo: Diyah Perra.

I still hope to get to full-on reviews of both shows this season, but the perennial
6-year-old in me demands that my adult self acknowledge this super-cool undertaking now. Just seeing an arrow slice through The Flash's usual title sequence on Tuesday night and a lightning bolt streak through Arrow's on Wednesday put a big, goofy
grin on my face.

Bird in the Hand


Cover to 'Comicology' Vol. 2 #1 showing large figure of the young original Robin against a cityscape with smaller figures of Dick Grayson as Nightwing, Carrie Kelley as Robin, and Tim Drake as Robin around him
Cover A of Comicology Vol. II #1. Art © 2000 Bruce Timm. Package © 2000
and
Comicology TM Harbor Studios. Characters TM/® DC Comics.


I ran a history of Robin in Comicology Vol. II #1 (Spring 2000). What saw
publication was an abridged version — long story and lingering frustration — but
a fuller piece titled "Wingspan: Six Decades of Richard Grayson" went up on the website. Does anyone reading this have the text of that? I still haven't taken in the
old, dead computer from those days to see if files can be salvaged from the hard drive, and my backups are similarly inaccessible on Jaz disks. Several years ago I got to
old cached pages of the website, including the piece in question, via the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" but I tried that again the other day and there's now
a message saying those pages can't be crawled or displayed. (The domain was bought out from under me during trying times.) I have a friend who could make use of
the piece if we get a copy in a timely manner; you would receive at minimum a
thank-you in print if it gets used and my gratitude regardless.


Bowled Over


There's a six-minute animated short called "Feast" showing before Disney's Big
Hero 6
, which opens this weekend, and I'm not being insensitive to the cost of movie tickets when I say it's worth the price of admission all by itself.


Winston, a small gray-and-white terrier, at a food bowl full of kibble
Screencap © 2014 Disney Enterprises.

Luckily, Big Hero 6 is good enough that you don't really have to test that premise,
but this little not-so-shaggy dog story really is a treat.

Panel to Frame


I've been working on reviews of Fox's Gotham and DC's burgeoning Arrow/Flash universe at The CW, as well as a general piece on the recent spate of comics getting adapted to television and film. The latter would be up by now if I hadn't started tinkering with images to accompany it. Which is how these happened.

Superman
Superman heaving a car over his head in 'Superman Returns' in homage to cover of 'Action Comics' #1, part of which is excerpted and overlaid onto the movie still
Inset: Detail of cover to Action Comics #1 © 1938 DC Comics.
Photo: Still from
Superman Returns © 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment.

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Mash Game


Among the first spec pieces I wrote after college in an attempt to broaden my fledgling freelance career beyond the comics industry was an article that revolved around what we now call mashups.

Mock DVD cover for 'Tarzan and the Planet of the Apes' featuring Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan with ape face looming in background

It's one of the many things I look forward to finding in my files one day, not least because I can't remember all of the titles it contained. Tarzan of the Planet of the Apes was not one of them, I don't think, even though it fit the premise of merging titles without adding anything new — and even though Tarzan of the Apes + Planet
of the Apes
is (at the risk of spraining my arm patting myself on the back) gorgeous
in both its simplicity and its potential.

Gotham City 49 Cents


The United States Postal Service announced this past week that it would be releasing
a set of Batman stamps to commemorate the character's 75th anniversary.

Stamp of Batman, drawn by Curt Swan, swinging on rope and waving / Underneath picture it reads Batman - Forever - USA, with line through Forever to invalidate picture's use as postage

As with most stamps anymore, they're self-adhesive, so Batman still can't be licked.

Pop 100


My grandfather about to putt a golf ball into a hole with a '90' flag
Art © 2004 Brian Saner Lamken.

Grandpop would have been 100 years old today. If that sounds like an abstract anniversary to you, I understand — we all will be would-have-been 100 years old eventually, assuming we don't actually make it. He only died at 96 in 2011, though, and his wife (my mother's mother) is still with us at 98½; his loss remains keenly felt.

Last's Man Sitting


Cookie Monster and John Oliver at news desk in suits

I praised the pleasant surprise that was John Oliver's hosting of The Daily Show
when Jon Stewart took a sabbatical last summer. And I was not alone. Many TV critics predicted that Oliver would be promoted from correspondent to host of his own show — probably someplace other than Comedy Central, since a third half-hour* of satirical news and punditry there wasn't likely. That someplace turned out to be HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Plankwalk Empire


Last Thursday was International Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day, and Comedy Central's @Midnight celebrated with an appropriate Hashtag Wars segment. As current as it is, the show tapes a little while before it actually airs to allow for editing, so the producers post the subject of each night's segment on Twitter at about 11:30 p.m. ET and invite fans to join the fun early. My old buddy and occasional Blam's Blog commenter Arben noticed the night's subject, liked it, and gave me a heads-up so that I could brainstorm along with him, then graciously allowed me to add some of his entries to mine for publication here for a total of our...

Top Twelve Pirate TV Shows

12. The Plunder Years

11. One and a Half Legs

10. So You Think You Can Penzance

9. The Avast-Me-Hearty Boys

8. Doubloony Tunes

Huston, We Have Amalgam


Just imagine Humphrey Bogart playing not Sam Spade but Sam Wilson — a 1941 version of Sam Wilson, hangdog gumshoe turned Captain America's unorthodox partner.

fake movie poster in vintage style: Warner Bros. and Republic Present / Humphrey Bogart / Dick Purcell / with Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Gladys George / a John Huston film / Captain America and the Maltese Falcon

That's what I did in mashing and mocking up this poster for Captain America and the Maltese Falcon.

I'd brainstormed the title a couple of years ago for a #BadNoir hashtag game on Twitter. While it was merely meant as a gag line, it just has so much Reese's Peanut-Butter Cup potential.

Don Pardo 1918-2014


black-&-white photo of Don Pardo at microphone
Photo: Al Levine / NBC © 1982.

What's most surprising about Don Pardo's passing on Monday is either half of this sentence taken with the other: He was 96 and still working as the primary voice of Saturday Night Live.

Robin Williams 1951-2014


That was a really difficult post title to type.

promo shot of Robin Williams as Mork
Photo: Jim Britt / ABC © 1978.

I was introduced to Robin Williams, who died on Monday at the age of 63, in his guise of Mork — first on Happy Days and then, of course, on Mork & Mindy. Although I'm twenty years younger, I aged with him, or vice versa, through his stand-up and dramatic roles and talk-show appearances and film comedies and mush and, just this past year, his return to network TV.

Which I think is a big part of why his death hits so hard.

Happy Batmanniversary!


I have a few posts about Batman queued up — some by coincidence; some because
of his belated 75th birthday bash.


Criminals on a rooftop see a menacing costumed figure behind them and one exclaims 'The Bat-Man!!!'
Panel from "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" in Detective Comics #27 © 1939 DC Comics.
Script: Bill Finger. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Bob Kane. Colors: Unknown.


Which I'm kind-of resisting. Batman debuted at the hands of writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane in Detective Comics #27, dated May 1939 but likely on sale in April of that year. Given how slow publisher DC Comics was to roll out logos and other celebratory stuff for Superman's diamond anniversary in 2013 — not to mention the whole company's a few years before that — I shouldn't be surprised that today, July 23rd, was designated by DC as Batman Day.

TFAW FTW


TFAW - Since 1979 - Things from Another World

Things from Another World is in the middle of a brief 4th of July sale that ends
on Monday. I've praised TFAW before and may well again. While the current sale isn't as long or as deep as its roughly semi-annual blowouts, the site is on my mind because of how spectacularly it made good on a recent (and rare) problem.

The Fourth Grows Weak


excerpt of Quadrilogies charts showing decline in box-office gross and IMDB user ratings for first through fourth films in 'Jaws' and 'Superman' franchises

Kate Willaert, who shares a bunch of cool stuff over at her Uncool Artblog no matter what the name says, has designed an infographic charting IMDB user ratings and domestic box-office gross (adjusted for inflation) across movie quadrilogies — film series that have produced at least four installments. The diminishing returns come as no surprise, although there are exceptions to that general rule. Film series sampled aren't nearly as numerous as those used in the sequel map that I wrote about a few years ago, but of course even in our current cinematic climate there are plenty more franchises with just one or two follow-ups than three or more.

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