Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fanboy Rising

I may have entered an entirely new realm of geekdom yesterday. I appeared on the G4 network’s ATTACK OF THE SHOW in a Crossfire-esque segment called “the Loop” (sposored by Yaris). The debate was what was referred to as an age old comic book battle, “Batman vs. Superman.” Which I, to be honest, don’t think is much of a battle, for numerous reasons, which I won’t get into here (I think I've crammed enough Superman down your collective throats for a while... so to speak).

My pal, cartoonist Bob Fingerman (who couldn’t care less about superheroes) recommended me for the gig and was the “creamy nougat center of neutrality” in the debate, at least until his feed went dead and I was left alone with the Batvocate. (As a side note, Bob was happy that he got to plug his upcoming book, Recess Pieces, and that he was not referred to as a “comic book expert.”)

Whether the debate was won or lost is a matter of opinion. Some have told me that I mopped the floor with the guy.

Okay, so I mopped the floor with the guy. But it’s not his fault. Maxim Magazine associate editor Jon Wilde, as we discovered while chatting in the green room before the show, isn’t even a comic book fan. He was a late replacement for author Scott Beatty, who has written numerous books about Batman (as well as Superman, to be honest). That probably would’ve been a more fair fight.

But I still woulda’ won.

Sequestered alone in a room at a Manhattan studio (Bob and Jon were in different rooms at the same place), I wasn’t sure at all how I was doing while the LIVE broadcast was occurring (gulp). It wasn’t until I got home late last night that I watched the DVR of the show and was stunned that I wasn’t mortified... at ALL... by the whole thing. Even I thought I came off okay.... within context, of course. I mean, Giant Nerd in a Bizarro Superman T-shirt, yes. But somewhat eloquent and funny, I think.

I was even called the nerdiest thing she’d ever seen by show co-host Blair Butler, the hottest comic book dork on Earth, a woman whose existence I only discovered last weekend. Oh, Blair... and we could’ve made such geekiful music together!

The funny thing is, my fanboy seems to be rising again. While there was a period some time back where I was losing interest in keeping up with the medium, that’s changed again recently. No doubt Superman Returns (box office dud that it is.... sigh) has something to do with it, but I think it has more to do with retreating into my own Fortress of Solitude. And I’m feeling more solitary than I ever have in my life (note: this is not a BAD thing).

But whenever I’m feeling overly disconnected from people, my geek level goes up. I know I’m not alone, it’s one of the main reasons why so many comic book / sci fi dorks fit into the stereotype of schlubby, tubby guy with no social skills. It’s not the chicken and the egg: The physicality begat the nerd. When you don’t fit in with so-called “normal” society, when you don’t get invited to the dance, you need to find other things to fill your time. And fantasy worlds where freaks possess incredible powers and justice prevails suddenly become very appealing places in which to retreat.

There are exceptions to the comic book guy stereotype, of course, and I don’t mean myself (see: Blair Butler again). The thing is, as easy as it is to deride the comic book nerd, in many ways, they’re actually cooler than, say, your average rockabilly dude. The rockabilly guy’s entire life revolves around being COOL, crafting a carefully calculated (but completely unoriginal) style that applies to everything from his outfit (jeans, black boots, tattoos, white T-shirt, chain, yawn) to his car to his music to his girlfriend. It’s all about how other people perceive him. And I’m sorry, but anyone who tries THAT FUCKING HARD to be cool.... isn’t.

The comic book nerd, on the other hand, is truly passionate about his world. He dresses for comfort, not style. His tattoos are usually pretty bad. His hair is sparse and unkempt and he doesn’t care. His hygiene can be in question. And his girlfriend... well, if she exists, she usually resembles, well... him. But, again.... HE DOESN’T CARE. He’s happy in his world and if you don’t like it, tough shit. So, in the larger sense, who’s more like Brando in The Wild One?

That may not fit into the typical notion of “cool,” but to me, the overweight schlub in the Hulk T-shirt is usually far hipper than the James Dean wannabe.

And Superman kicks Batman’s ass.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bronze Beauties #12: THE HOUSE OF MYSTERY

Originally a pale, watered down imitation of the EC horror comics of the 50s, DC Comics' The House of Mystery began in 1951, but hit its heyday in the 1960s and '70s when artists such as Alex Toth, Neal Adams, Berni Wrightson and Wally Wood illustrated stories cooked up by young, drug-induced new comics writing minds!!! By the late 1970s, the book had started to lose steam, but its covers remained usually great right up through the’s a bunch of 'em from the Bronze era...

House of Mystery #186, June 1970. Art by Neal Adams.

House of Mystery #187, August 1970, art by Neal Adams.

House of Mystery #201, April 1972. Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.

House of Mystery #202, May 1972. Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.

House of Mystery #204, July 1972. Art by Bernie Wrightson.

House of Mystery #207, October 1972. Art by Bernie Wrightson.

House of Mystery #214, May 1973. Art by Bernie Wrightson.

House of Mystery #220, December 1973. Art by Nick Cardy. 

House of Mystery #222, February 1974. Art by Luis Dominguez. 

House of Mystery #224, May 1974. Art by various artists. 

House of Mystery #235, September 1975. Art by Luis Dominguez.

House of Mystery #236, October 1975. Art by Bernie Wrightson.

House of Mystery #254, October 1977. Art by Neal Adams.

House of Mystery #267, April 1979. Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.

House of Mystery #277, February 1980. Art by Steve Ditko.

House of Mystery #282, July 1980. Art by Joe Kubert.

House of Mystery #292, May 1981. Art by Joe Kubert.

House of Mystery #294, July 1981. Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.

House of Mystery #314, March 1983. Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.

House of Mystery #321, October 1983. Art by Michael Wm. Kaluta.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sharpie Tattoo Party 2006

One week ago saw the inaugural STP 2006. The acronym stands for Sharpie Tattoo Party, and the creator credit has to go to Mr. Gary Ashley of Hoboken NJ. Following a long night at the bar, a handful of us retired to my apartment where the mug of Sharpies was busted out and everyone’s flesh became canvas.

But what all of us didn’t realize until the next morning is that while Sharpies may not be permanent on your skin.... they are on your sheets.