Thursday, May 12, 2016

BBC Records flyer

While thinning out the archives, I found this flyer (geared towards the students of local Franklin & Marshall College) from BBC Records, the independent store I managed from 1988 to 2006. Hey, look, vinyl's not dead yet! And the Pixies are coming to town!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Dentist Appointment

Right now, as I type these words on Wednesday, March 23, 2016, I should be excited. Frothing at the mouth excited. I should be whipped into a fanboy frenzy for a superhero showdown the likes of which I hadn’t felt since Superman fought the Amazing Spider-Man in that glorious oversized tabloid back in the summer of ’76.

But I’m not. I’m not excited. I can’t even muster some guarded enthusiasm. I’m hoping for the best, but honestly, I’m just mostly full of dread. Kind of like before you go to the dentist. And anticipating BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE shouldn’t invoke feelings of spending two and a half hours in a dentist’s chair. What it should be is the second biggest pop culture event of my geeky life (SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE will always hold the top spot).

I’m not one of the legion of MAN OF STEEL haters. Oh, that film wasn’t perfect, to be sure. Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent was a douche who would never have inspired Clark to become the Superman true fans know and love. The movie was way too dark and there was far too much wanton destruction and far too little inspiration (as for the polarizing neck-snapping, I’m uncharacteristically ambivalent—I could accept it as a springboard for Kal-El’s “no killing” tenet). But I liked the cast, particularly Henry Cavill as Superman. I felt that given the right material, he could fill the suit nicely. And overall, I thought MAN OF STEEL was better than Bryan Singer’s emo, fight-free SUPERMAN RETURNS.

But everything…. Literally EVERYTHING that I’ve seen leading up to the long-awaited big screen debut of my two favorite heroes – together! — just feels off. It’s gloomy, rainy, apocalyptic, smashy crashy bleakness up the wazoo. I mean, c’mon… the closest thing we get to a bit of levity is from Batman?!?

The bulk of my concern stems from my feelings about the 1986 comic book series that serves as the springboard for much of BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: Frank Miller’s THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. That groundbreaking mini-series may be one of the most iconic titles of the era, but not all superhero fans consider its profound influence on what’s come since to be a boon. The ├╝ber-dark tone that became the norm is tiresome enough, but its impact on the relationship between Batman and Superman is downright depressing. Miller, no fan of the Man of Steel, decreed that Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent have such diametrically opposed outlooks on life that it would be inconceivable they’d be friends. I guess the fact that both of them are orphans who chose to use their considerable gifts to benefit mankind by donning costumes and fighting crime doesn’t count (for more of my thoughts on this topic in comic strip form, see here).

As I’ve said before, I don’t hate Zack Snyder (the film’s director). I like some of his movies. True, he’s no visionary (ala Chris Nolan or Ridley Scott), but he is (like James Cameron and J.J. Abrams), a capable artisan, given the proper tools. I just don’t know if it’s in him to craft a film that doesn’t feel like it was made on a Red Bull and beef jerky bender.

Anyway. My lack of unbridled enthusiasm didn’t keep me from buying tickets. This Friday evening, my pal Matt (who is more excited than I because he doesn’t care as much) and I will down a few drinks, then go watch Batman and Superman beat the crap out of each other until they realize that the real enemy is Lex Luthor and then they’ll team up with Wonder Woman and defeat Doomsday, but then they’ll find out about Darkseid and say that they’re gonna need more super-powered colleagues or something like that.

Just whatever you do, don’t call them Super Friends.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pops Holiday Post Round-Up

In case you haven't noticed, I love Christmas. But I'm not gonna lie, this year... it's been a little tough getting into the spirit. It's not just the insane and terrifying warm weather (anyone who cracks wise about how much they love global warming gets a smack). There've been some personal dramas, way too many of my former Christmas cohorts have declared they no longer give a crap about the holiday, and some of my decades-running family traditions are apparently—suddenly—a thing of the past.

But I'm trying, Rudolph... I'm trying real hard to be the Grinch / Scrooge at the end of their respective stories, not the beginning. In that spirit, I'm presenting links to almost every Christmas-themed thing I've posted on the Pops blogs since I started them a decade ago. Anyone looking for a dose of virtual spiked egg-nog, look no further. And please feel free to propagate. I feel like we need some holly jolly more than ever right now.

• 2015: Four Color Traditions installment of PRINCE STREET NEWS from Back Issue! #85.
• 12/21/2015: The second Pops Gallery of 101 Christmas Comic Book covers.
• 12/17/2015: The Pink First Noel: A sappy true story involving a homeless woman, a pink violin, and leftover sandwiches.
• 12/18/2013: An excerpt from the chapter on Christmas in COLLECTOR'S EDITION.
• 12/10/2013: The first Pops Gallery of 101 Christmas Comic Book covers.
• 2012: My comic strip for's "Recipe Comix" series about my holiday cookies.
• 2010: The cover to my holiday CD compilation, GRUSS VOM KRAMPUS.
• 2010: The cover to the Secret Country holiday single, "Hard White Snow."
• 12/22/2007: Random Holiday Thoughts. Most of which still stand.
• 2007: from's REWIND: Makin' a List of the 10 Best Cinematic Santas
• 2007: the mystery of the spiky haired kid and the twins from A Charlie Brown Christmas is revealed!
• 12/29/2006: PXMD. A post about post holiday depression, but for a good reason (especially resonant now that I've experienced some of the loss I predicted in this piece)
• 2006: from's REWIND: The 10 Worst Christmas Movies of All Time
• 2004: Super Santa Christmas card (I was going to redraw this for this year's Jingleberries tune, but, as with so many other things this year, simply didn't have the time).
• 2004: From's MUSIC GEEK: Ho-Ho-Hurl: The Most Hideous, Horrible Holiday CDs.
• 2004: A plea for a special edition DVD for A Charlie Brown Christmas (something that STILL doesn't exist, even on the damn thing's 50th anniversary).
• 2000: My Christmas card depicting the Miser Brothers from The Year Without a Santa Claus
• 2000: the cover to my first Christmas compilation CD, A GINGER PEACHY CHRISTMAS.
• 1999: "It's a Wonderful Life" episode of S'TAN & SOCIAL GRACE as appeared in the New York Hangover (and here's my S&SG Xmas card from that same year).

ALSO, here's a link to the Soundcloud page for the Jingleberries, the indie Xmas band formed by my girlfriend, my friend Jeff, and myself back in 2009 (not to be confused with the other Jingleberries Christmas band... one day we'll have to figure this out, too).

Anyway. Have a Merry Christmas (or whatever phrase you prefer) and a Happy New Year. See you next year.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Pops Gallery: Christmas Comic Book Covers II

Two years ago, I published a Pops Gallery of 101 Christmas covers from the Golden thru the Bronze age of comic books, a selection that barely scratched the surface of the seasonal imagery from the ol' spinner rack. So here's another 101 (moving into the modern era as well). Let's make this an annual event, maybe? Thanks again to the Grand Comics Database (and the rest of the Internet, too... no link necessary). And Merry Christmas.