Welcome! This is my personal blog, where I chat about whatever takes my fancy, reminisce about comics, Old Time Radio, and science-fiction fandoms, review what I feel like reviewing, and so on. It also archives scans of some of the fanzines with which I've been involved.
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Grabbing Friends for Adventure Time (with Finn & Jake)

There are so many animated TV series these days that it's easy to miss some outstanding oddballs. It's also easy (for me, at least) to prejudge series - because, well, 24 hours in a day, culling, deadlines, appointments ... All that sort of thing. So I had never seen Cartoon Network's Adventure Time and my instincts (when brother Paul Curtis first broached the subject) were not in its favor. I tend to dislike cartoons in which it seems the artist has no grasp of anatomy - and characters as a result have elbows any old whichway, bodies that vary from action to action, etc. Moreover, with those 24 hours in a day, a series that benefits from my watching multiple episodes is less likely to attract me.

However, whenever I'd get together with Paul (which is less frequently than I'd like, given that I live in Wisconsin and he in New York), we'd end up watching an episode or two, and I've found the series fascinating. For one thing, I am unable to predict where any story will go after the first scene. Think about that: How often can you, given the opening scene, pretty well work out what happens next? And, even if you can do that, how often can you predict the story's flow after the next scene has played out? I have to tell you, an 11-minute Adventure Time tale is - for me, at least - a wonder of twists and turns and concepts for which I Am Not Ready.

For another thing, I'm charmed by the ongoing theme of Finn's always seeking to do what is morally right - and Jake's usual willingness to abet him in reaching his goals. The theme (as best I can decipher it) urges the viewer, "Come on, grab your friends! We'll go to very distant lands. With Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, the fun'll never end!" But the adventures are ... Well ... In what epguides gives as its apparent first episode, "Business Time," for example, Finn and Jake thaw what turn out to be zombie businessmen - who turn out to be masters of efficiency and problem-solving. But then ... Now, I wouldn't have even imagined a situation in which an iceberg would contain zombie businessmen, much less been able to construct a complex episode involving the ensuing complications.

Speaking of complexity, the Wikipedia entry provides many plot details you may find informative - but let me suggest you seek out the show's own link above to get something of a feel. At the moment, there's a snippet, for example, of an episode that begins when, visiting Marceline the Vampire Queen, Finn and Jake decide her couch is too uncomfortable. She points out that, since she floats, the couch doesn't bother her - so Finn and Jake ask to be made vampires, too. Of course.

But today's post is inspired by my darling brother, whose birthday is any minute now. I had called his attention to an incredibly expensive gadget to which my attention had been called by Tweets from Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward (@buenothebear on Twitter). I pointed it out to him and apologized that I wasn't going to buy it for him because it was too expensive - albeit incredibly cool. That very week, I received a package from him - containing said incredibly expensive gadget (obviously, shown above). When I blithered to him about what a crummy sister I am and how wonderful he is, he said that, whereas he would wear it to work so that a limited number would see it, I was likely to wear it in a wide variety of venues and would, moreover, blab about it to anyone who would hold still. And one of his (and my) goals is to make Adventure Time popular enough that Cartoon Network would release DVDs of the show. Perhaps, Paul guessed, if the gadget sells out, it'll demonstrate to Cartoon Network that there are people out there who would buy such DVDs. So please do check it out. (And, hey, consider buying the gadget - which I love. It's a limited edition and may not remain available for long.)

Here's what's been aired so far (according to epguides):
1:1 Business Time 2010 Mar 11
1:2 Evicted! 2010 Mar 18
1:3 Slumber Party Panic 2010 Apr 5
1:4 Trouble in Lumpy Space 2010 Apr 5
1:5 Prisoners of Love 2010 Apr 12
1:6 Tree Trunks 2010 Apr 12
1:7 Enchiridion 2010 Apr 19
1:8 The Jiggler 2010 Apr 19
1:9 Ricardio the Heart Guy 2010 Apr 26
1:10 My Two Favorite People 2010 May 3
1:11 Memories of Boom Boom Mountain 2010 May 3
1:12 Finn the Wizard 2010 May 10
1:13 City of Thieves 2010 May 24
1:14 The Witch's Garden 2010 Jun 7
1:15 What Is Life? 2010 Jun 14
1:16 Ocean of Fear 2010 Jun 21
1:17 Wedding Bells Thaw 2010 Jun 28
1:18 Dungeon 2010 Jul 12
1:19 The Duke 2010 Jul 19
1:20 Freaky City 2010 Jul 26
1:21 Donny 2010 Aug 9
1:22 Henchman 2010 Aug 23
1:23 Rainy Day Daydream 2010 Sep 6
1:24 What Have You Done? 2010 Sep 13
1:25 Finn Meets His Hero 2010 Sep 20
1:26 The Gut Grinder 2010 Sep 27

2:1 It Came from the Nightosphere 2010 Oct 11
2:2 The Eyes 2010 Oct 18
2:3 Loyalty to the King 2010 Oct 25
2:4 Blood under the Skin 2010 Nov 1
2:5 Story Tellin' 2010 Nov 8
2:6 Slow Love 2010 Nov 15
2:7 Power Animal 2010 Nov 22
2:8 Crystals Have Power 2010 Nov 29
2:9 Other Tarts 2011 Jan 3
2:10 To Cut a Woman's Hair 2011 Jan 10
2:11 The Chamber of Frozen Blades 2011 Jan 17
2:12 Her Parents 2011 Jan 24
2:13 The Pods 2011 Jan 31
2:14 The Silent King 2011 Feb 7
2:15 The Real You 2011 Feb 14
2:16 Guardians of Sunshine 2011 Feb 21
2:17 Death in Bloom 2011 Feb 28
2:18 Susan Strong 2011 Mar 7
2:19 Mystery Train 2011 Mar 14
2:20 Go with Me 2011 Mar 28
2:21 Belly of the Beast 2011 Apr 4
2:22 The Limit 2011 Apr 11
2:23 Video Makers 2011 Apr 18
2:24 This Mortal Folly 2011 May 2
2:25 Mortal Recoil 2011 May 2
2:26 Heat Signature 2011 May 9

And just this morning, Ward Tweeted, "Watched the animation for the first episode of season 3.. it's so good y'all.. it might be my favorite episode.. so much cute stuff in it."
I can hardly wait.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Did I Ever Write a Marvel Thor story? Come to Think of It ...

So I was chatting with son Stephen on Mother's Day, and I'd just come from seeing the Thor movie. Stephen asked if Don and I hadn't written a story for Marvel Comics' Thor series, and I realized I'd forgotten all about it. Why, yes, we had - and I went into a discussion about Editor Roy Thomas' talking with us about wanting to do a Marvel take on the fact that there was a Superman movie and involving long-time Superman artist Wayne Boring with the project. Etc. The next morning, I looked it up - and discovered Don and I had plotted, not one, but two Marvel stories about the thunder god. (How do you forget this sort of thing? I didn't even have duplicate copies on the shelf - though I may have them somewhere else ...) [Note: While I'm tending to use the words "written" and "plotted" as synonyms, of course, they're not. Except that, in writing comics "Marvel method," what happens is that the artist is handed the plot and then creates the story - which is then scripted. We didn't script the stories - and Roy replotted what we'd plotted. Just so's we're clear on this.]

Here's what appeared in the letters column of the issue about the movie (Thor #280, February 1979): Wayne [Boring] himself has returned to his real-estate chores for the nonce – but we think the story he drew, as plotted by Roy [Thomas]'s old friends Don and Maggie Thompson, is just what we called it on our splash page: "Perhaps the most awesomely offbeat Thor epic of all" 'Nuff said?

What I had forgotten in my conversation with Stephen was that our first Thor plot had probably been for Thor Annual #8 (1979). As Roy wrote in his editorial on the issue: So, I decided that even putting a northern deity like Thor into the story of the Trojan War wouldn't do any more violence to Homer than had already been done – and besides, it'd be fun. Thus, I began to mull over in my mind how best to do it, but the pressure of comics and other work kept me from getting to it.
Enter Don and Maggie Thompson, longtime friends and comics fans now turned more or less pro with articles and comics stories in various Marvel mags. They were looking for assignments, and I mentioned to Maggie that I was bogged down and could use some research help on bringing Thor into the Trojan War without changing the details of the actual story in any major way. … Why couldn't it just as easily have been Thor, on a jaunt down from the north, who was merely MISTAKEN for this or that Olympian.
Answer: It could have been! Maggie and Don took the idea, and ran with it. A few weeks later, I received two or three pages of notes which placed the action of the proposed Thor story in a very particular part of THE ILIAD, starting with the Third Book (we’d call it the Third CHAPTER) in which Paris and King Menelaus fight a duel to decide the fate of Troy and beauteous Helen. I rewrote their notes into an eight-page plot which I then sent to John Buscema, who rendered it beautifully amid complaints that there were "too many characters."

As I recall, we even had notes on a third adventure (which Roy teased about in that annual): one that would involve Thor with events in either The Aeneid or The Odyssey or maybe both. But, as it turned out, Roy didn't write another Thor annual, so that tale remains to be told. In any case: Why, yes, Stephen, we did write for Marvel's Thor, now that you mention it.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Even the TARDIS Came to Free Comic Book Day!

TARDIS, Brian Bull
As always seems to happen in the fun that fills Free Comic Book Day, I came away with notes and photos and comics and books too numerous to deal with quickly. In fact, my current goal is to limit myself to one or two comments per day over the next few days, if only to get myself back to some sort of schedule on this blog! But the most time-sensitive note would seem to be that concerning "Wisconsin's ice-fishing TARDIS entry" in the "Where's the TARDIS?" contest. Though a conversation with the TARDIS' host, Brian Bull, elicited the information that he works for Wisconsin Public Radio, I confess that the name hadn't clicked as one I should recognize until just now - "Oh, wait! That Brian Bull? The one whose reports I hear on WPR?" Well, yes. That's just how full my brain was by that point May 7. (You know how it is: You connect a person with their surroundings, and this guy was most clearly identified with a blue Police Box and ... Never mind.) This TARDIS had landed in front of the East Side branch of Westfield Comics just in time for Free Comic Book Day - and many people were taking the opportunity of being photographed emerging from it.

The point is that Brian was in the midst of a campaign that ends soon! So do not delay: Go here and click "Like." I gather that's all it takes. (I don't understand the ins and outs of all this, I confess. But time is of the essence; I do know that.) After that, you can follow his links to see photos of the work it took for him to put together his special entry. And, hey, can you go ice-fishing out of the bottom of The Doctor's TARDIS? That's something we haven't seen - but the season isn't over yet.


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