The latest edition of the Big Monkey Comics Podcast is now available on line (and on the I-Tunes for those who have the I-Tunes)! Please listen, enjoy, and tell me what you liked! This is a 'very special episode', with Ben Hatton, Devon Sanders, me, Tori Tyree of the Women's Comic Book Discussion Group, and X-Men writer, the charming and generally delightful Mike Carey.
In our first section, I chat with Ben, Devon, and Tori about Black Canary and why you really don't need more than fishnets and kung fu.
The second section is Devon's on-the-spot interview with Mike Carey during his recent visit to Big Monkey.
In the third section, Tori and the Monkey Men tell you how to make comics attractive to new readers.
Listening for the following ... and more!
Ben's new plan to distribute comics with other leisure-time products.
Devon shops at Tiffany's. Yes, really.
"You are not the editor of me." Nice one, Ms. Carey.
Tori explains what Black Canary will do if she finds out she didn't hit you hard enough.
Ben enjoys the deep-fried twinkie of nerdiness.
What does Plastic Man smell like?
Ace and Wicked Weasel teach Devon how to be a man.
My Dramatic Reading of Hal Jordan's inner musings.
The main driving force behind Mike Carey's diverse output!
Ben postulates that it's not the message but the medium.
Find out how the first comic I ever read influenced my choice of leisure activities and spending quality time with the elderly.
A commercial for a delicious new personal security device!
Devon sings the work of Harold Faltermeyer.
We speak directly to Dan Didio, confident that he is listening.
Blue Beetle outwitting an enemy in classic comic book style.
Blue Beetle outwitting a different enemy with very out of the box thinking, inspired by Ted Kord.
The continuance use of and development of Blue Beetle's supporting cast, particular that hunky kid who drives what appears to be television's Batmobile and Jaime's dad, who made me cry (and will make you cry, too).
The tenderness of Darkseid, and its results (Countdown).
FINALLY, gods that act like gods instead of middle school guidance counselors (WW).
I don't know which was more beautiful in Justice Society Classified: the artist's skillful balance of detailed background with more abstract foreground or the writer's skillful conveying a simple overall message with detailed character moments.
Zatanna does cruise ships? Of course, she does (Countdown).
Sinestro's ingeniously evil method of "defeating" his successor on Korugar (GLC).
Hey, Green Arrow's becoming a hero in Green Arrow: Year One. Who knew? He turned a huge corner for me when he found dead bodies in a well and his first thought wasn't, "Damn! Corpses in my water!" but rather, "Who did this to these people?"
Superman still knows how to make an entrance (Teen Titans).
The things that made me happy in IDW's first issue of Star Trek: Year Four are enough to merit a separate post.
Okay, sure; we all know that "52 universes" only developed from the working title of maxi-series, labelled thus because of how many weeks of issues it had. Pure happenstance....
OR IS IT?!?!?!?
Today I don my tin-foil hat (loaned to me by master conspiracy theorist Ben "Tin-Foil" Hatton) in an attempt to cobble together some sort of sensible reason that there should be 52 earths rather than any other number, and how New Earth can be the "first earth among equals".
What I've settled on is that the 52 universes represent the fourth degree of the decagonal figurate number series. I won't bore you with most of the mathematics (Blogger isn't designed for that kind of typing; besides, that's what Wikipedia is for). Suffice it to say that figurate numbers are those generated by the regular expansion of a polygon according to a standard geometric pattern/mathematical formula. One look at some examples, and you'll get it intuitively (see Fig. 2).
The number 52 is generated by the extrapolation of a decagon (a ten-sided polygon). If you'll count the number of dots in Figure 1, you'll see there are 52 of them ...
ONE FOR EACH EARTH!
Yes, this truth is definitely "out there".
According to, well, me, the "initial point" at the rightmost part of Figure 1 represents "New Earth". On the one hand, it's a dot just like all the rest; on the other hand, it's the one dot that is found on each of the successive decagons. It represents the first degree of the decagonal figurate series; it is the first among equals. Q. E. D.!
The two dots adjacent to "New Earth" are, of course, "Earth 1" and "Earth 2". They are conceptually closest to New Earth. Together, those three earths are the basis for the "inner circle" of earths, which includes the most familiar ones.
Maybe it'll be easier if I just show it to you...
Sorry, Marty, I didn't have time to make it exactly to scale, but you get the idea.
Two structural questions remain:
Why is the structure of the multiverse decagonal?
Well, my answer may be rather metatextual, but I'm personally going to pretend it's manifestation of the Ten Iconic Characters that constitute the mythic rock on which the DCU is based (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Vibe).
Perhaps because of the three reboots (Crisis, Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis)? Perhaps to represent the four Ages of Continuity (Golden, Silver-Bronze, Post-Crisis, New Earth)? Perhaps because we're now supplanting the Fourth World? Whatever works for your personal conspiracy needs.
And to the editors at DC: please feel free to utilize my diagram! Hey, I like to give back when I can...!
Not even Big Mike Pellegrino will be able shoot boxing gloves arrows fast enough to defend Green Arrow from the bashing that the Podpanelist give him! Listen to Ben stand his ground as it give out from underneath him!
Which one of the Podpanelists LOVES the Skrull reveal? See whether you can guess in advance, and hear who we think is a Skrull.
Then, at Ben "I Love Girl Comics!" Hatton's insistence, we discuss something call "inn - dee com -icks"; I wasn't paying attention because I was reading Action Philosophers at the time and cleaning my monocle...
I think that this news is the best thing since sliced bread.
Now, a lot of people will be excited at the idea of anthology book with such a large number of talented creators. What I am grooving on is taking Golden Age characters and writing them in a Golden Age style.
A new issue of Crack Comics? Crack Comics that gave us Captain Triumph, the Clock, and the gaytacular Black Condor? I've been waiting for this since before I was born!
There's been plenty of love at DC for Golden Age characters. The front ranks of the DCU's heroes are filled with Golden Agers (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Aqua-- oh, wait; I forgot...), and the Golden Age DC group, the Justice Society, now enjoys unprecedented respect. At times, we've even been given some glimpses into past "untold" adventures of such characters from early in their careers, giving them a depth the characters didn't originally possess.
But telling a story with Golden Age characters in it or a story set in the Golden Age isn't the same as telling a story in the Golden Age style. And that is what I've been missing, and what I hoping will delight me about the Next Issue Project. The flat color, the deep shading, the weird perspective! The exposition, the compression, the Starmanly drama! I'm hoping it'll be a shot of espresso after decades of weak tea. I'm hoping "this is going to be OOMPHY."
Though I'm eagerly awaiting the "Clock" story, I'm also jazzed about seeing new stories for characters I've never even heard of. "Sub Saunders"? "Capt. Kidd"? I love them already. I'm already thinking of having custom clix made of them for my Aquaman Heroclix games (or at least tokens), and I haven't even seen them.
To me, the great tragedy of art (be it musical, literary, or visual) is that the evolution of a new style always seems to displace an old one. A natural human reaction, perhaps, but not, I think, always a necessary one. The fugue, the sonnet, the allegorical painting-- such modes of expression are just as valid as they ever were, still as potentially enjoyable, still as deserving of new composition. So, too, Golden Age comic book storytelling.
If you do not buy this comic, J. Edgar Hoover will note it in your permanent record.
The Next Issue Project is also well timed. More and more, I get the feeling that many younger comic books readers think of Silver Age comics as "how comics started out"; they imagine that the wan and bloodless Superman secret identity farces of the Eisenhower era are the beginning of superhero comics. This is puzzling (and a shame), since reprints of Golden Age stories are now more accessible than ever before (well, assuming one has a very healthy wallet, at least!).
I have shocked younger friends by sharing with them the pungency and potency of the adventures of Golden Age heroes. I've seen them come away with a new and deeper respect for an artform they already loved, when they discover that Grant Morrison didn't invent violating the Fourth Wall and that Neil Adams wasn't the first person to draw figures extruding outside of their panel boxes. I love watching them discover that if Golden Age artists weren't masters of detailed anatomy, they were masters of grand composition; that if Golden Age writers weren't masters of subtle characterization, they were masters of powerful plotting; and that if Golden Age editors didn't demand big stories, they demanded stories created in a big way.
Will the Next Issue Project bring that kind of realization to a broader audience? Perhaps not directly. But it is my hope that when readers see how many stellar modern creators respect the Golden Age style enough to try their hand at it, they just may become interested in finding out why that is so.
Yesterday was my birthday, which this year happened to fall on Vin Diesel's Birthday (Observed) on the Absorbascon Calendar. Our schedules didn't allow us to celebrate it together this year, so I spent a very quiet day walking the dog, getting a haircut, tidying up the house, and hanging my Patrick Gleeson Aquaman art. It was utterly delightful.
I had to admit there's a gift I want that I haven't gotten:
No, seriously. Not real-life thugs, but the new "Thug" Heroclix token in the recently released Marvel Expansion Set "Avengers" (AvB008).
Why do I want Thugs? Because they are exactly what "bystander tokens" should be used for, and Wizkids has finally figured that out!
Bystander tokens were introduced in the Heroclix, oh, quite a few sets ago. At first, they were exactly what the name implied: bystanders. They were one-click generics: the Scientist, the Security Guard, the Paper Boy, the Skipper, the Millionaire and His Wife, and the Rest. There were no special rules for them, however, so they quickly became "meat shields" (figures you used to keep your valuable figures from being targeted). I have always found that unpleasant and inappropriate; I play Heroclix to replicate the feel of comic book battles, not to have scores of paperboys and deli workers running interference for Doomsday.
The scenes became even more ridiculous when tokens became the way of representing heroes' supporting cast members. Really, nothing spoils the "comic book feel" of a game better than watching Ma & Pa Kent tackle Batman so that the Joker can throw a grenade at him or "hearing" Superman say, "I'll carry baby Lian Harper in front of me as a shield, so that when Luthor attacks, it will kill the child instead of mussing my hair!"
What you (well, I, at least) want is tokens for generic bad guys, the guys whose job really is to serve as "meat shields" for the villains, to tackle Batman while the Joker readies his grenade. Ya know: goons.
There've been goons in Heroclix before. The first two sets gave us four such figures (Criminal, Thug, Henchman, Lackey). Problem was, as figures, they each had at least 3 to 5 clicks of life, so you paid in points for excess clicks that weren't useful at all. A related problem -- their stats had to be really crappy to keep the point cost down -- made them an even worse value. And, since there are only so many figures in each set, players didn't like valuable slots to be taken up by crappy no-names. Then, when "bystander tokens" came along, they were superseded.
The advent of the new Thug token signals the solution: tokens designed to be used by villains as cannon fodder. But my problem is...
I don't have any. Nor do I have any efficient way of getting any.
THAT is what I want for my birthday: Thug tokens. Lots and lots of Thug tokens. Please! If you know of anyone who has extra Thug tokens, I would LOVE to have them. I'll even pay the postage! I just want to surround my villains -- particularly my Batman Enemies -- with Thugs.
Even if I don't deserve them, the Batman Enemies do.
Why didn't I think of it sooner? Starman solves all problems. Starman is the ne plus ultra. Starman will supply me with a new signature saying.
In his later years, Starman used to spend weekends dancing at the disco with his Twin Twirling Pick-Axes of Fabulousness. In fact, Kyle Rayner lost one of his girlfriends that way.
That's a fairly fun phrase, but it doesn't really work unless one is spinning a pick-axe in each hand. Try getting on the Metro that way.
Let's give it another try, shall we?
When your life is as DRAMA-filled as Starman's, you develop the kind of nonchalance that classifies an attacking squadron of enemy planes as "some mischief".
Well, that's fine, but a bit generic.
Hm. This isn't what I was hoping for. I need something different. Something special. Something that only Starman could come up with...
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. End of contest. Not only is
"Hit the ground! This is going to be oomphy!"
my new signature phrase, I hereby offer it to the world. Everyone deserves to be saying "Hit the ground! This is going to be oomphy!". When your spellchecker doesn't like it, just add it to the dictionary, as I just did.
Shut your trap, you stupid bullethead; it's a Starman-y word.
Anyway, like most sentient beings, it really doesn't care about anything other than itself, and so usually is pretty quiet. I mean, who's it going to talk to... Keystone? I can't imagine Keystone is much of a conversationalist; it probably just talks about NASCAR and American Idol.
Occasionally, though, if the situation is sufficiently dire, Central City will talk out loud to itself about its concerns (but unless you're Jack Hawksmoor, you're not going to overhear it).
Such is the case in this example, where Central City actually managed to compose a self-concerned haiku entitled "There It Is":
"It's enormous! A tornado that size could cause terrible damage!"
How big does something have to be for Central City to consider it enormous? I don't want to think about it.
Do you possess enough sentience to compose a haiku about Central City or the danger it faces?
On Thursday, we were honored to have Mike Carey with us for a signing; what a delightful and gracious person!
Occasionally, I had to "help" the signing line move along, but, hey, that's why I bought a pitchfork in the first place. My favorite part was Jon Carey's attempt to convince Mike that he was his long-lost, previously unknown eldest son, and that they should write a book together for the Minx line.
"Mike Carey, you are .... .... ...
NOT the father!"
Mike said on his site:
The amiable mob at Big Monkey kept me busy and entertained for an hour and a half – after which some of them actually crossed town to hear the reading at Olssen’s Books, which was very cool. If any of you guys are reading this, it was great spending time with you.
The vibe at Big Monkey was just amazing. I didn't realise I was the first guest you'd had in. I'm honoured. The interview was a lot of fun, too. I'll definitely stop by the next time I'm in DC.
Thanks, Mike; likewise!
Here's Mike with some of the Lovely and Liveley Monkeyettes:
Here's Mike about to be filmed giving Devon an interview (which will air on an upcoming episode of the Big Monkey Comics Podcast).
Speaking of the podcast, we had to scrap the last one; technical difficulties rendered the recording unusable. The good news is, we've gotten some new pro-level equipment, so the podcast should be easier for us to create and upload, with better sound quality. We hope to bang out two in the next two weeks so that we will be "caught up with our schedule". I hope you're still willing to tune in! And, remember, we still want YOU to send us mp3s of your Dramatic Readings to include in the program.
Last Saturday afternoon, we had a JLA/Avengers Heroclix tournament with 12 participants (not counting the staff and me), ably and genially hosted by our avuncular envoy, Judge Tom Price. Thanks, Tom! We even had a guest from France (an airline pilot who, believe it or not, visits us for Heroclix events).
The culmination of the week was ...the Flash Dash!
To celebrate DC's "summer of the Flash", we held a footrace from the corner of the block to the front of the store (trust me, it's longer than it sounds!). The race was officiated by Lance of Lance: The Blog, shown here with the winners.
Anthony, Lance, Jonnie, Big Mike
Those winners are:
Third Place: Jonnie Brooks of Jon Hex Livesand the Big Monkey Podcast. Jonnie is eerily and unexpectedly fast, like a cat all mellow and plopped down comfortably in an armchair that suddenly leaps out of the chair through a window, bolts down the block, then bursts in the petdoor to dash immediately back to his chair and plop down placidly as if nothing had happened at all. That's Jonnie. I mean, except for the licking oneself afterwards part. In addition to the prizes all participants received, Jonnie received a Rookie Flash Heroclix figure. Second Place: Anthony Fortunato, Turn of the Century Italian Anarchist and Helluvanice Guy. Clearly, Anthony is very fast, but even more impressive is the fact that he wore all black. In Washington DC. In the middle of July. While running. Even then, he didn't perspire; he glowed. I assume his native planet must be warmer than this one. In addition to the participation prizes, Anthony won an Experienced Flash Heroclix figure.
First Place: Mike Pellegrino of Are You Feeling Big Mike and my arch-rival in, well, everything. Of course, Mike won; Mike always wins. Huh; I bet Jon Carey could have beaten him if he hadn't been afraid of spilling his appletini while running. I myself would have beaten him, if I hadn't been slower than he; so there. In addition to the standard prizes, I was forced to fork over, er, happy to present to Mike
a Veteran Flash Heroclix figure,
a copy of the Flash Showcase Edition, and
a coupon for a full massage and facial at the Spa at Mint Fitness.
Congratulations, Mike; you're the FASTEST FAN ALIVE!
Next up at bat is the mysterious Dr. Fate, occult master of the ancient mystic arts!
I'm thinkin' Doc's helmet's on just a little too tight, if ya know what I mean.
Okay, gotta hand it to you, Doc; that's definitely mysterious. But I want something more "Dr. Fate" and less "Mr. Wizard".
You take that helmet off this instant, Jack Kirby!
I'm as patriotic as the next fellow, probably more so. But I don't think "Let's go, Americans!" is going to work for me as a signature saying. Particularly not if it requires me to lurch about flanked by beknickered Bowery Boys.
Care to try again, Doc?
If you think it's bad having to play horsey for Dr. Fate when he's feeling spunky, sweetie, wait'll you get to prison.
That's more like it! An ancient spellification with some Classical reference and a little "ride 'em, cowboy" action? Very much my style.
But I'm afraid for general utility, I'm still going to have to choose as Dr. Fate's entry his statement from last week:
It's hard to beat that for combining the mundane and the bizarre. Plus, I can say it all the time, and all anyone can do about it is smile. Even if I'm staring into a closet when I say it.
Remember those halycon days when every two-bit heistman who could afford a thin tie and a sharp hat to wear at his bank jobs had a pocketful of kryptonite at his disposal?
That way, he'll be dead and embarrassed about it.
Well, now, kids, you can relive those silver days with this kryptonite pog:
It'll cost you 15 points to swap this sucker out for one of the regular objects at the beginning of the game. Whenever it's within Superman's range, the Kryponite pog cancels out any powers on his dial, as well as any Team Ability.
The lead shield is for your opponent to use. When holding it Superman isn't affected by the Kryptonite, but he can't make ranged attacks. The lead shield, however, is useless if the person holding the kryptonite is adjacent to Superman. Superman cannot carry another object or figure while he is holding the lead shield.
Thank you very much, Mike Carey, who visited us for a signing at Big Monkey DC yesterday! I promise to send you that picture of you with all the ladies, Mike...! My favorite part was when Jon tried to convince Mike that he was his illegitimate son...
In Classics, my specialty was poetry, in the analysis of which we use lots of terms to describe the tricks of the literary trade. Many are still used to describe modern poetry and literature as well.
Today, while reading The Most Sexist Story Ever Told in the Batgirl Showcase, I came upon a stunning example of hysteron proteron.
Hysteron proteron is saying something in reverse chronological order. The classic example would be, "I am dead (or "I die"); you wound me." Obviously, the wounding comes first and then the dying. But by saying them in the other order, special emphasis and poetic effect is achieved (dying, after all, is more important than being wounded).
Well, that's not exactly what happens in Detective 371, but I've got no other term for it (other than, perhaps, "reversed priorities"). Observe.
Batman and Robin, disguised as beatniks, enter the domicile of one of their stoolies.
Why are they disguised as beatniks, you ask? Because it's 1968, about 5 years after the end of the beatnik generation. Duh.
So, naturally, the first thing they do is check to see whether he's alive and call for an ambulance.
And, yes, I know he said, "Dick--in his hands!" That one's too easy for me to bother with, folks.
I said, "the first thing they do is check to see whether he's alive and call for an ambulance."
I actually skipped at panel of Scooby Doo cluifying, by the way.
I hope Batman never finds me wounded and unconscious; I'd die while he was still trying to decipher what message I was sending him with the Heroclix clutched in my hands.
Whether Stuffy's alive or not isn't important to the story; he's a plot device. But the clue is important. So the normal sequence of events ("check to see whether victim is alive, then get medical help") is reversed for sake of emphasis. Note, in fact, that Batman actually SAYS that Stuffy "passed out" before checking for a pulse.
It must be comforting for the citizens of Gotham to know that Batman is more interesting in chasing people who rob from sawmill factories than in saving lives.
Okay, now that we've talked Wonder Woman down off the metaphorical ledge (with the promise of Gail Simone), we need to return to our project already in progress: finding me some signature sayings cribbed from the wisdom of the Justice Society.
Hm. Hourman's up next, and I'm not sanguine about my chances there. Hourman's not much of an orator. Not much of a witticist, either. And not really--oh, heck, he's nothing more than pill-popping, drug-addled Dr. Jekyll in spandex. Still, I am obliged to try.
Rex, whaddaya got for me?
"Wait--I'll try an old trick!"
Uh, yeah. Everyone's already used to hearing me say that, Rex, and I'm not exactly proud of it. Nix on that.
"Anything to oblige!"
No, Rex; that saying is the reason I wound up with all those old tricks in the first place. Can you try a little harder?
"This IS fun!"
You're not helping, Rex.
"Now for the others!"
Yeah, you're a regular riot, Rex. If you didn't want to help, you could have just said so. Perhaps if you have nothing constructive to say, you shouldn't say anything at all!
For those of you just tuning in, I've been searching for signature phrases for myself, culled from the utterances of the Justice Society. Saturday, we got Alan Scott's scampish entry, followed by Wesley Dodd's ribald riposte on Sunday.
Today we visit the corpse of Jim Corrigan. Surely the Spectre will have something awe-inspiring to say!
YOUR ASKING FOR IT!
Hm, that's a little more ... pedestrian that what I was hoping for, Spec. And less grammatical.
By the way, a note to all you Halloweeners out there; if the Spectre comes Trick or Treating, do NOT give him sourballs. He won't be amused and neither will your next of kin.
Got anything with some more pizzazz, Jimbo?
Ooo! That's fabulous! "Oom's trickery!" is the kind of thing that rolls off your tongue. Plus, it sounds great boomed at top volume at Lauriol Plaza when your waiter brings you a watered down soda.
Still, I'd be kind of worried to use it. It sounds sort of D&D, you know? Wouldn't want anyone to think I was a geek... .
What else ya got?
Well, yes, that does have a ring to it. But people have heard me say that a thousand times already. And that was just at my last birthday party. Besides, I'm looking for something pithier.
Perfect. That'll do nicely. And I can use it every time I finally get the dog to fall asleep.
Well, now that I've gotten an entry from Green Lantern's repertoire for my possible use as a signature saying, I'll call on another mystery man: The eerie Sandman!
What do you have to offer me, Wesley?
Uh ... okay. Thanks. But doesn't that need something else, like "A plane! A lifesaver! No, it's Scipio!"? I mean "A Plane! A Lifesaver!" sounds more like an unfinished palindrome than a signature saying, Wes. Let's try again...
Whoa, sorry, Wes; didn't mean to interrupt one of your opium/absinthe binges; glad I wore the glove. Besides, I'm not really a gas-inhaling, Miraclo-popping kind of guy, so I don't think I'll find that saying very useful.
Don't you have something a little, I dunno, punchier? Something more appropriate for a guy like me, that I can find occasions to say?
I'm on a new bent to model my life more after that of the great comic book heroes. I was going to start by acquiring a youthful sidekick, but I found it too difficult to get around pre-existing court orders. Darn those meddlesome social workers... .
Anyway, I decided to start with acquiring a signature phrase, instead. You know... some sort of saying like "Keep 'em flying!" or "Suffering Sappho!" That way, comic book readers on Earth-Prime-2 would easily be able to recognize me, no matter who's drawing me. It's just a sensible thing to do when living in a multiversal environment. And easier than getting my spandex pressed every day.
So I thought, from whom better could I seek inspiration than the illustrious members of the Justice Society? I'll canvas some of their original adventures and see what each member has to offer me.
The dignified Green Lantern seemed like a good candidate to start with. Perhaps he said something appropriate while here in my city of Washington, D.C.?
That's okay Alan; I have trouble understanding the The Politico, too. But I'm afraid, "Hm--what have we here?" is a bit underdramatic, even with the Capitol Dome in my background. Better keep looking... .
"I'd like to do a little beating myself!"
That's really good; and useful daily. Unfortunately, it's subject to possible misconstruction. I mean, I wouldn't want someone to think I intended to hit them....