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.

Fox's current 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 Superman's grandfather prior to the destruction of his home planet. Really!

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

Now, I'm pleased to announce my pitch for the groundbreaking television event Themiscyra, set on the uninhabited shoreline of what will one day be known as Paradise Island — thousands of years before the arrival of the Amazons.

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
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 The CW's newly expanding Arrow/Flash universe, 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 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 in an attempt to broaden my fledgling freelance career outside the comics industry after college was a short goof for a film magazine that revolved around what we now call mashups.

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

I hope to find it in my old, boxed-up files some day. While I can't remember every mashup it contained, I'm pretty sure Tarzan of the Planet of the Apes was not one of them — 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 so obvious and pure 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

color illustration of a white man with tanned skin, blue eyes, gray-white hair, blue polo shirt, white slacks and shoes, hearing aid visible, and Star of David around his neck poised 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, unless we 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.

Cinema Paronomasia

There was a producer who had two films only partially completed when the financing fell through on both. One was a domestic drama starring Cher; the other was a fantasy in which Johnny Depp played the mythical Yeti (or "abominable snowman") of the Himalayas.

It occurred to her that perhaps there was a way to pick up a few additional scenes on a shoestring budget that would stitch the two movies into one.

Somehow it came together. The producer screened the result for Hollywood friends, and afterwards a director not involved in the undertaking approached a cinematographer he recognized.

“Did you work on this?" the director asked.

"Yes," the cinematographer responded.

"Those icy landscapes were beautiful," said the director.

"Oh, I can't take credit for that," replied the cinematographer.

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 unofficial and 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 this mockup for the mashup Captain America and the Maltese Falcon. Ever since brainstorming the title a couple of years ago for a hashtag game on Twitter, I've found its Reese's Peanut-Butter Cup potential hard to shake.

Don Pardo 1918-2014

black-&-white photo of Don Pardo, a sixty-something man with dark polo shirt and checkered jacket, standing at microphone with his left hand to his ear and paper in his right, in the midst of announcing
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.

Lauren Bacall 1924-2014

Lauren Bacall standing by a piano as musicians and others look on
Cropped image from To Have and Have Not © 1944 Warner Bros. Pictures.

This post is currently down for maintenance.

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 in the works — some by coincidence; some
because of his belated 75th birthday bash.

Caption: '...As the two men leer over their conquest, they do not notice a third menacing figure standing behind them... It is the 'Bat-Man'!' / Art: Batman, in an early version of his traditionally familiar outfit, standing with arms crossed on a rooftop with brick chimney visible and two stereotypical gangsters of the era, one exclaiming '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 (as "The Bat-Man!") at the hands of
Bob Kane and Bill Finger in Detective Comics #27, dated May 1939 but on sale in April of that year. Given how slow DC Comics was to roll out logos and other celebratory stuff for Superman's diamond jubilee 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 releases hit comics shops, and why it would want to do something in close proximity to this weekend's San Diego Comic-Con. There are in fact several Batman panels scheduled for the latter, but 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 covered in those upcoming posts of mine, and I really should be willing to cut DC considerable slack given how commemorations of other legends on Adventures in Comicology got punted down the line due to my own never-ending battle against various obstacles to production. I've been around for more than half of their existences now, and five years hence feels like it'll be here before we know it, so maybe we'll all have more to say when Superman and Batman turn 80.

Kindred Posts: DC at 75Gotham City 49 Cents'ZantennialA Wing and a Prayer
Superman DCCIf You Meta the Batman, Kill the BatmanDark Knight Delight

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, creator of 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.

Kindred Posts: The A TeamIdentity CrisisAfter-Math
The Man in the Iron MaskWhat Lies Beneath

Jedi Laugh Track

Nothing against Heath Ledger or Cesar Romero, who each took an indelible turn
as Batman's nemesis, but for me Mark Hammill speaking Paul Dini's dialogue is
the definitive 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 Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hammill laughing maniacally as The Joker, face turning pink, seated in casual clothes on stage

Kindred Posts: Dinner on MEIf You Meta the Batman, Kill the Batman

This One Goes to Eleven

Mike Schmidt congratulating Jimmy Rollins with a soul handshake
Photo: Chris Szagola / AP © 2014.

Literally. Jimmy Rollins, Number 11, became the Phillies' all-time hits leader with his 2,235th — a single against the Cubs — last Saturday. Number 20, Mike Schmidt, the previous record-holder (and still arguably the franchise’s most-beloved shortstop, if not its most-beloved player, given what certainly feels like an aging fan base) is a class act who couldn't be happier.

Kindred Posts: Numbers GameHello, GoodbyeReady Player Four

O Tannin Bomb, O Tannin Bomb

From the Grapes of Wrath department…

start of a news report from 6ABC on June 17th, 2014, reading 'Harrisburg (WPVI) -- The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is warning consumers about exploding bottles of wine. In an alert issued Monday, the PLCB said there have been several reports of bottles spontaneously exploding in state liquor stores.'
Screengrab © 2014 ABC Inc. / WPVI-TV Philadelphia

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) — even after paring down by about half. 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

15. Lady Sif at Emerson's Bar & Grill

14. Mandarin of La Mancha

13. Twelve Angry X-Men

12. A Slim Summers Night's Dream

11. Who's Afraid of Virginia, Wolverine?

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) — even after paring down by about half. 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

15. Koriand'rolanus

14. Same Time, One Year Later

13. Glengarry Pete Ross

12. Bizarro #1 Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next

11. Oedipus Rex Mason

10. Joker's Shop of Horrors

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.

Cynicalman Gets Schooled

panel from Stupid Boy strip of one stick figure walking towards another, the latter carrying three books with another laying open on his head / 'Hi, Stupid Boy!' 'Duh, HI, Cynicalman!'
Panel © 2014 and Cynicalman ® Matt Feazell.

I've guest-written a strip for Matt Feazell that just went live at the Cynicalman website. Episodes don't get updated online as often as they used to, but I'm still not
sure how long it'll be there before a new one replaces it and it's archived for eventual collection. Speaking of which, The Amazing Cynicalman Volumes 1 & 2 — highly recommended; ditto any or all Feazell minicomics you care to grab — are available via that same website. Matt's been doing hilarious work with astounding economy of line since the days people mailed paper to one another in envelopes. I'm hoping to contribute more gags in the future... like he needs my help.

Kindred Posts: Grimm TidingsThis Is Going to Hurt You More than It Hurts MeMash Game

Miley at Twerk

An Emoticomic
(Tilt your head to the left and... laugh, hopefully.)




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The Mother Load

Josh Radnor as Ted Mosby in ruffled tuxedo and tousled hair smiling at Cristin Milioti as the Mother, Tracy McConnell, under a yellow umbrella in the rain
Photo from How I Met Your Mother Ep. 9.24 (finale) © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox.

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Suit Up

We got a (more-or-less) full look today at the suit Grant Gustin will be wearing as Barry Allen in the upcoming CW Flash series.

Grant Gustin in costume as The Flash with red bodysuit of mesh and plastic, some yellow or gold trim including on the cowl and the lightning-bolt insignia on his chest, left arm and left leg lurched forward touching the ground with right side moved back, darkness behind him save for a bolt of lightning striking the ground
Photo: Jack Rowand for Warner Bros. Entertainment © 2013.


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?!?"

Harold Ramis 1944-2014

Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and  Ernie Hudson in 'Ghostbusters', their characters wearing tan work jumpsuits, all firing red and blue streams of energy from their proton-pack guns
Ghostbusters screencap © 1984 Columbia Pictures.

The year is 1989. I'm a day-camp counselor for kids 5 to 6 years old. At that age
boys have their favorite whatevers on their lunch boxes, their shirts, their underwear. Ghostbusters was big in our bunk — mostly, I assume, from the animated TV series based on the 1984 movie (Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters) rather than the movie itself. So I chaperone a few boys into the restroom. Two of them stand at the same urinal, pants down, focused on doing what you do. One suddenly exclaims "Don't cross the streams!" and they crack up so hard it's a miracle that no mopping was required.

I think Harold Ramis, who died this past Monday at 69, would've been proud. Godspeed, ghosts, gophers, and groundhogs be with him.

Dive Right In

Lake Street Dive is my new jam. All of it. I've been listening to everything 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).

I guess I'd describe Lake Street Dive's music as stripped-down indie pop/rock liberally inflected with jazz, blues, and soul. Maybe that sounds like a little bit of everything — because it is, in a good way, but Dive is also as focused as a laser, at once familiar and not quite like anything I've heard in way too long.

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.

Of course, I flashed back to my own first major exposure to the Fab Four, by way of the faux Billy Shears and Henderson Brothers who headlined producer Robert Stigwood's infamous 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Since my sister and I couldn't get enough of the film or its soundtrack, as I wrote in 2010, our mother quickly bought LPs of the original Beatles Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, the albums from which most of the songs in the movie were taken. (Mom did own copies already, but we were in the middle of a move at the time, living with my grandparents.) Not long after that she busted out Magical Mystery Tour, too, it being a concept album in the Sgt. Pepper's vein, and somewhere in there we caught the animated Yellow Submarine on Channel 29 or 48.

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, an organizer of the March on Washington in 1963 and since 1987 the United States Representative for Georgia's Fifth District, is a great storyteller. March is a great story. I've just left those sentences alone after too much time spent considering adjectives other than "great" due to how easy and vernacular the word is, as well as
how many dimensions it has, but those qualities actually make it the perfect word.

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.