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.

I understand why DC would want to position the event on a Wednesday, since that's when new arrivals hit comics shops, and why it would want to do something in proximity to this weekend's San Diego Comic-Con as well. There are in fact several Batman panels scheduled for the latter, but surely that doesn't preclude (let alone abrogate) historical accuracy. Some fun stuff did see the light closer to Batman's actual birthdate, to be fair, including material in the aforementioned upcoming posts. I really should be willing to cut DC considerable slack given how commemorations of other legends over at Adventures in Comicology got punted down the line, although I finally had the sense to cut bait and reschedule — I'm about as confident as I ever get that my retrospectives marking Superman's and Batman's 80th birthdays will be worth the wait. Since I've been around for more than half of his existence now, and five years hence feels like it'll be here before we know it, maybe the answer is that I'm just turning into an old crank myself.

Related Posts: 'Zantennial; Superman at 75; A Wing and a Prayer


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.

I order from TFAW once, maybe twice a year, either during those big sales or from
the Nick & Dent section where certain barely scuffed items that don't meet the site's — or its brick-and-mortar West Coast stores' — standards are always at least 50% off retail. On exactly one occasion was I able to tell for sure what the nick and/or dent on an item was supposed to be. This past May, however, during another brief sale, an order arrived with two fairly thick softcovers whose entire top-right corners were bent up, as if someone had dogeared the entire book. Even had they been Nick & Dent items, which they weren't, it would've been an unacceptable situation. I contacted TFAW customer service, explained the issue, and was told that new copies would be sent out immediately; meantime, I could do with the problem books whatever I wanted. Sure enough, I got the new copies in short order and they looked great.

Just as remarkable as the ease of getting replacements, without any hassle of exchange, is the fact that the moment I saw the bent books I knew that something must've gone very wrong in TFAW's packing process and that resolving the issue would be easy. So if you're looking for a recommendation on a site with new comics, recent back issues, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and comics-related collectibles, often deeply discounted, here's a ringing endorsement. I have no relationship with Things from Another World beyond simply being a happy customer.

Luke Who's Talking

Nothing against Heath Ledger or Cesar Romero, each of whom took an indelibly unique turn as Batman's nemesis, but for me Mark Hammill speaking Paul Dini's dialogue is the definite screen Joker. In a clip from a one-on-one interview during a recent Star Wars Weekend at Walt Disney World, Hammill gives Dini some mad love after treating the audience to an improvised dialogue between Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime and a certain young Skywalker.

Hammill gesticulating as The Joker at 2014 'Star Wars' Weekend

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.

Related Posts: The A Team; After-Math

Long Day's Journey into Mystery

Watching the Tony Awards telecast last Sunday, I found myself coming up with comics-related twists on the titles of various plays and musicals. The game continued for several days until my list grew long enough to split into two — one for Marvel, one for DC (last post) — while still paring each down to about half the rough draft. Some entries are more accessible to non-comics-reading folks than others; the only rule was passing over titles that wouldn't need to be changed at all, such as The Iceman Cometh or Beauty and The Beast.

Now take your seats for my...

Top Twenty Marvel Comics Broadway Mashups

20. You're a Mole Man, Charlie Brown

19. Dirty Rotten Fandral

18. Jess Is the Spider-Woman

17. Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Hulk

16. Thoroughly Modeled Millie

A Swamp Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Watching the Tony Awards telecast last Sunday, I found myself coming up with comics-related twists on the titles of various plays and musicals. The game continued for several days until my list grew long enough to split into two — one for DC, one for Marvel (next post) — while still paring each down to about half the rough draft. Some entries are more accessible to non-comics-reading folks than others; the only rule was passing over titles that wouldn't need to be changed at all, such as Man and Superman.

Now take your seats for my...

Top Twenty DC Comics Broadway Mashups

20. Riddler on the Roof

19. My Fair Lady Blackhawk

18. Ain't Mister Mxyzptlk

17. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Technicolor Zoo Crew

16. The Justice League of American Buffalos

News of Future Posts

So. You might've noticed that content around here has been sparse to nonexistent lately.

The reasons for this are, unfortunately, manifold. I spent much of last year setting up Adventures in Comicology, a website meant to archive my past writing on comics and steadily stream new material to boot. Posting here on Blam's Blog in 2013 fell to well under one whole freaking half the volume of previous annual totals — just a third of 2012's high-water mark — and even though I'm working to resume the flow this week I'll barely have reached a meager dozen entries for 2014 to date by July. I'd honestly be fine with that if technical problems, along with the inability to properly deal with those problems due to other life stuff, hadn't ground progress on Comicology and related projects to a halt. While it's bad enough simply not being able to put in as much time and effort as I'd like, it's far more frustrating to put in considerable time and effort yet have so little to show.

More pressing matters will continue to demand my attention in the short term, but hopefully by summer's end you'll see things pick up here a bit. Another, more detailed status update on all things me will be along when that happens. Stay cool.

Feed Me Rewrite!

I was finally successful this year in not writing about the Oscars before or after the telecast. The bad news is that this wasn't due purely to willpower; I've been sitting on this post for a while with the aim of running it on, as they say, Movies' Biggest Night, but I couldn't.

Sometime last year I came up with a couple of the following lines and realized that the concept would make a fun hashtag game. What you do is take a reasonably well-known quote from books or films and substitute one or two words with food. I'm very rarely on Twitter anymore, though, so I ended up just brainstorming a bit and setting the list aside to run on the blog as my...

Top Twenty Supermarket Lines of Dialogue

20. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my cold cuts."

19. "Nobody puts baked beans in a corner."

18. "Take your stinking pasta off me, you damn dirty apes!"

17. "It was the best of thymes, it was the worst of thymes."

16. "Open the pad thai doors, HAL."

15. "There's no cayenne in baseball!"

14. "Oh, Stewardess… I speak chives."

13. "You've got meat? Who's got juice?!?"

Dive's the Bomb

Lake Street Dive is my new jam. All of it. I've been listening to everything that the band has done in anticipation of today's release of their latest album, Bad Self-Portraits.

cover to Lake Street Dive album 'Bad Self-Portraits' — members posing stiffly in a drawing room, with B&W photos of them posing goofily in closeup framed on mantle

The quartet, whose members met at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, consists of Rachael Price (lead vocals), Mike "McDuck" Olson (guitar, trumpet, backing vocals), Bridget Kearney (acoustic bass, backing vocals), and Mike Calabrese (drums, backing vocals).

Yesterday and Today

High crane shot of The Beatles on set of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' with full stage and cameras in view
Photo © 1964 SOFA Entertainment.

I'm a little surprised at how emotional I got watching the Beatles tribute earlier tonight.

And I shouldn't be. Surprised, I mean, because I am a very easy mark when it comes to that sort of thing. Nostalgia is practically my religion.

CBS aired The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles at 8 p.m. ET — 50 years to the hour from The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was taped a couple weeks ago, on the day after this year's live Grammy Awards telecast, which is why there were so many stars on hand who might otherwise have been working elsewhere and why Pharrell was wearing that hat.

Talking the Walk

Of all the striking details in March Book One — and there are more than a few — the one that I keep coming back to is this: As a boy, John Lewis would preach to his family's chickens.

title; protesters with signs; John Lewis and others at a lunch counter

Lewis, a keynote speaker at the March on Washington in 1963 and since 1986 the United States Representative for Georgia's Fifth District, is a great storyteller.
March is a great story.

You Wanna Be
Kickstartin' Something

Short version of this post: The Kickstarter campaign for Dean Trippe's Something Terrible has one week left. Go pledge and be a part of it!

Profile of downcast boy inside silhouette of Batman's cowl

I'm upset that I neglected to include Terrible on my entry in Forces of Geek's
Best of 2013 survey, especially because I first learned of the book from old pal and FOG grand poobah Stefan Blitz. Trippe has created a heartfelt, inspiring, beautifully executed work drawn (quite literally) from his experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Dark as the short, 14-page story is — about kids, for anyone who has ever been a kid, but not for kids themselves — it brightens as Trippe finds strength in Batman and other fictional heroes, unfolding mostly in sharp, haunting two-color panels.

Hyper Space

I was thinking recently about my school library in 3rd grade.

Not sure why. It might've been because of the recent news reports on libraries
without books — without physical books, anyway; rather, they're community spaces with computers where users can surf the Internet and check out E-books. Something, maybe those reports, got me remembering how I'd settle down in the stacks in front of the encyclopedias and basically use the references in the article at hand the way we use hyperlinks online today.

I have a bunch of great memories, general and specific, of libraries. Most readers do, I'd wager. I've shared some on the blog before, including memories of this particular library — nestled in a post on the TV series Supernatural — about my favorite aisle. What brought me to that aisle was books on Greek and Roman mythology, a subject about which I read voraciously and to an almost literally exhausting degree; based on periodic scans of various library and bookstore shelves, I may well have gone through every relevant volume in print at the time. Some books were, from my youthful perspective at least, stuffier than others, a category in which I preferred Edith Hamilton's Mythology to Bulfinch's. There were plenty of slim paperbacks and large, illustrated tomes aimed more directly at my age, too, with D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths atop the heap of the latter.

Now Hear This

;Happy New Ear' / Still of Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers in 'The Bionic Woman' smiling with her hand up to her right, bionic ear / 'May 2014 find you better, faster, and stronger'
The Bionic Woman photo © 1976 Universal Television. Text © 2013 Brian Saner Lamken.
Click to view, like, and share on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr!

Some Days You Just Can't
Get Rid of a Photobomb

Burt Ward and Adam West posing as Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne on their Batpoles in Wayne Manor library secret access to Batcave, in black-and-white photo, with Miley Cyrus from 'Wrecking Ball' video pasted in licking one of the poles below them
Photos and characters are the intellectual property of respective
rights holders. Mashup: Brian Saner Lamken for
Exhibit B.

They're Magically Suspicious

Loki Charms / Photo of Tom Hiddleston as Loki behind bowl of cereal on mocked-up cover to box of cereal of General Mills' 'Bifrosted Loki Charms': 'Oat cereal plus delicious chunks of the Rainbow Bridge!' 'Marvel Limited Edition' title=

Please share freely on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter — as well as all those places I don't go like Pinterest and Flickr and whatever...

Update: Comics-art "variant" covers have been added over at Exhibit B.
Here's a thumbnail sneak peak:

Here Am I Sitting in a Tin Can,
Far Above the World

Gravity was spectacular.

I saw the film two weeks ago, and whenever it's brought to mind by something I'm reading or a conversation I'm having I still feel an echo of the absolute sense of wonder I experienced in the theater.

Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock as a civilian mission specialist sent up to work on the Hubble Space Telescope and George Clooney as the veteran commander of her shuttle, demands to be seen not only on as big a screen as possible but in 3D. If you've heard me talk (or read me write) about 3D, you know that I rarely recommend it.

'Fore and Daft

John Oliver wasn't the only member of Comedy Central's late-night team giving
us process wonks a peek behind the curtain in the past couple of weeks. Stephen Colbert was interviewed by Paul Mercurio, who does warm-up for The Colbert Report, over nearly an hour on a variety of topics — but mostly about the Daft Punk fiasco. You can listen to the podcast free.

Stephen Colbert at the desk
Screencap © 2013 Comedy Partners and Busboy Productions.

Daft Punk was scheduled to be on Colbert's show earlier this month but bowed out,
or was yanked, over misunderstandings and Viacom internal politics due to the mysterious French faux-robots' upcoming special appearance at last weekend's MTV Video Music Awards telecast.

Colbert devoted the episode on which they would have appeared to a slightly
fictional account of what happened along with a truly bizarre all-star video set to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (featuring Bryan Cranston, Jeff Bridges, the Rockettes, Stephen's animated alter ego Tek Jansen, Henry f---ing Kissinger...) and a last-minute performance by Robin Thicke doing his song of the summer "Blurred Lines".

Ruby-Shoes Day

A young girl in braids wearing a Wizards baseball uniform, her ruby shoes sparkling as she takes off from third base and says 'There's NO place like HOME!'
Panel © 2013 Brian Saner Lamken.

I draw very seldom anymore, but when E asked if I'd render a legitimately funny idea for a cartoon she had I couldn't say no.