The Devil You Say

I came up with a baker's dozen decent entries for the latest Top Ten contest at the Late Show with David Letterman website. You can still enter yourself, through the end of the week, although since the earliest one among similar entries is chosen (if at all) I'm usually keen to brainstorm as much as I can on Monday when the newsletter arrives in my inbox.

My Top Thirteen Signs Your Neighbor Is Really Satan

13. When you had a come-as-you-are party, he came as Satan.

12. His barbecues always smell like grilled person.

11. He gives out Good & Plenty at Halloween. Nobody likes that $#!%.

10. The hot chick gardening out front has an "I'm with Satan" T-shirt.

9. He keeps leaving his Underworld's Best Dad mug on the porch.

8. Blues guitarists drop by at all hours of the night.

Leaps and Bounds

Once upon a time, Feb. 29th was considered Superman's birthday. Editor Julius Schwartz and his assistant E. Nelson Bridwell — a historian, writer, and editor of some of DC Comics' great reprint series — mentioned in lettercolumns on occasion, with tongue in cheek, that Superman's eternal youth could be attributed to his only having a birthday every four years.

Superman in mid-leap between sketchily drawn buildings above a trafficked city street, holding a flailing fellow by the ankle

Panel from Action Comics #1 © 1938 DC Comics.
Script: Jerry Siegel. Pencils, Inks, Letters: Joe Shuster. Colors: Unknown.

The Kryptonian physiology that made Superman a prime specimen on Earth could of course also be cited as the reason for his continued vigor — which it was, to varying degrees.


I'm sure that the world doesn't need another Oscars analysis. And while that hasn't stopped me the past couple of years, real-life concerns have me too distracted right now to forge ahead with any prolonged insight; neither my head nor my heart is in the game.

Billy Crystal's return as host was more triumphant in terms of his professionalism than truly rollicking humor, but that's probably okay. We had some good, yet not much bad or ugly — mostly things were perfectly fine but unremarkable, unless that was just my mood — and it's the controversy, the unexpected, the WTF moments where quick-minded emcees (with backstage writers at the ready for good measure) like Crystal shine. I noticed and appreciated his ease at moving the show along, perhaps due to the particular contrast with recent hosts, even while wishing for some wittier material.

My dislikes, mild though they were, included...

Pre-Oscars Post

The Oscars telecast, you may have heard, begins Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC, with red-carpet coverage launching at 7 on the East Coast.

Billy Crystal is to host. He got a standing ovation just for walking out on stage at last year's ceremonies, in defiance of the failed Hathaway & Franco Gambit of 2011 and proving the point of a poem that I wrote in free verse a few years ago (still one of my own favorite pieces). 

I hope to have a writeup here on Monday, but for the first time I'm loosing a pre-Oscars post, too, offering some links relevant to both last year's and this year's telecasts... plus some really bad puns.

First up is a blooper reel for leading Best Picture contender The Artist. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, but it is charming, especially as set to Ludovic Bource's Oscar-nominated leitmotif. And it shows that breakout star Uggie ain't necessarily a first-take kind of dog.

Life, the Universe, and Everything

I didn't see The Tree of Life in theaters. Reviews of the film were mixed enough, and my moviegoing is limited enough, that it didn't make the cut during its release. I was curious about it, however, and I got it on DVD last month from Netflix.

Between critics and acquaintances, I'd heard the film described as everything from magnificent to pretentious to nauseating. I didn't find it nauseating. Pretentious? Yeah, I wouldn't quibble with that, yet I also thought that it was magnificent. I'm not sure that a spoiler warning really applies, but if you know absolutely nothing about The Tree of Life and don't want to, either, stop now and consider my recommendation; otherwise, continue after the pic.

Death and the Maidens

The other night I got the chance to see the 1977 Japanese film ハウス, or Hausu, alias House.

Screencap © 1977 The Toho Company Ltd.

Frankly, I'm not sure that I can tell you anything of import about it that the insane trailer doesn't — except to verify that while the movie does have a basic plot it actually lives up to that trailer's wildly abrupt shifts in scene and tone. Even if you don't think you'll ever see the film, I urge you to click through the link; House's trailer is a thing of sublime weirdness unto itself.

Week Links

If you're looking for a laugh amidst pre-Oscar fatigue or, heck, just because, I commend to you a gallery of doctored movie posters over at The Shiznit.

Ali Gray has once again reworked posters for this season's annual glut of prestige films to give them titles and taglines bluntly reflective of what the viewing public and/or the promoters themselves think about them.

Word Up

Blogger has apparently switched wholesale from its old style of word verification to a much uglier CAPTCHA format that I've seen elsewhere and which I'd always been glad I didn't have to deal with on Blogger blogs.

As my mother is fond of saying, "Oh well..."

Under the Rainbow

I've been meaning to write about comics veteran Tom Ziuko since the news broke a year ago that he was ill.

Ziuko was a longtime colorist for DC. I vividly recall being struck by his muted yet vibrant work on the cover to 1986's Legends #1, which I'm pretty sure was also one of the earliest covers to carry a colorist signature along with that of the pencil and ink artist(s) — in this case, John Byrne.

Cover to Legends #1 © 1986 DC Comics.

The Grand Comics Database lists over 1,500 credits for Ziuko spanning nearly 30 years of covers and interiors, from Superman to Hellblazer to Animaniacs, including color reconstruction on reprint projects for both Marvel and DC.

Week Links

The Baldo strip for Jan. 21st, online at the GoComics site, is such a pure joke that I had to jot down a reminder to share it. While I'm a tireless proponent of the fact that the comics medium is founded on sequential graphics, and the silent panel in this strip demonstrates beautifully how much of the writing in comics is inherent in the artwork, the words here are also as essential as they are spare.

Image © 2012 and characters 
TM Baldo Partnerships.

For those of you seeing this post in truncated form via the blog's main page or a search return, by the way, I direct your attention to the labels in the footer below so that you have an idea of what's yet to come after the break.

The Slog Delayed

I'd hoped to have posts up a couple of days ago and again today to celebrate the third anniversary of Blam's Blog. My first post — which set the tone for much of my blogging by complaining about trouble blogging — went up three years ago Thursday, and my first substantive post, "Welcome", got published two days later. On the blog's first anniversary I posted my inaugural State of the Blog report, "The Slog". While I planned to follow it up annually, last year I had to defer the occasion due to my grandfather's sudden illness and passing soon after, finally getting around to a follow-up, "The Clog", six months later, which was six months ago. Nothing so sad is keeping me from finishing up the State of the Blog post I wanted to get up today, but a cold that was percolating this week has roared up with a vengeance and made it even harder to concentrate on stringing together the words than usual, so, like the title above says...

41 Favorites: #6

Back when I was a kid in the 1970s, the few accessible books about comics often mentioned "The Good Duck Artist". Past generations who read Dell's Disney comics had no way of knowing his name, in the days before most creators were credited and before fans, collectors, and scholars could easily share information far and wide. Yet so many of them found his contributions so obviously head-and-shoulders above other artists' that the appellation "The Good Duck Artist" — or, in the context of the Disney duck stories, simply "The Good Artist" — became an acknowledged shorthand.

"The Good Duck Artist" turned out, these same books revealed, to be a gentleman named Carl Barks. He is not the subject of this post.

Also back when I was a kid in the 1970s, there was a fellow whose covers for various offerings from DC — chiefly, in my experience, Superman, The Flash, and World's Finest Comics — led me to think of him as "The Good Cover Artist". He turned out to be a gentleman born Nicholas Peter Viscardi and known during his time at DC as Nick Cardy.