As seems to be the case increasingly recently, I am talking about things in my blog which I have talked about before. Maybe I am running out of ideas, or just showing the limits of what actually interests me. In this case it is a sequel to a blog that I never thought I would have reason to visit again (part 1 here from 17 months ago.) In the original I pointed out how some superhero based toys are made which really look somewhat ridiculous except as I identified in the case of Wonder Woman, who got a regular looking car. As many know, one of my favourite periods of Wonder Woman was the mod girl phase, when she was depowered and was a female Bruce Lee, dressed all in white. I occasionally pick up a new issue which this version is in as she did a few cameos around the DC universe at the time. In this one she is in Europe when Bruce Wayne decides to drive his own car in a motor race (Iron Man 2 anyone?). His car looks ridiculous, hers looks ... normal!
Based on the actual toys following a similar format, it makes me wonder if there is something endemic to the characters that Batman (and other superheroes) gets a flashy and impractical abomination while Wonder Woman gets the neat looking one.
To this point I have been avoiding reading the Unleashed story arc from Grimm Fairy Tales. This is for two conflicting reasons. I would like to read it all at once to make sense out of it better, and because GFT has been not so great at its crossovers thus far. I have still been buying the issues dutifully though (and keeping up on other GFT and Zenescope titles) but I did notice something interesting on one of the most recent covers. In a continuity already heavy on female heroes (good!) the crossover is introducing two more, Liesel Van Helsing and Masumi. One is a vampire hunter and the other is a demon hunter. I have been writing about how female characters are depicted pretty much from day one of being a member of this site, and this is another case where I would like to highlight something about this character, namely that white is an extremely poor choice in colour for any kind of action costume. It was actually my original blog where I talked about the things that heroines should not wear, but I never got into the colour of clothing. There are a few other characters known for their white clothing (Emma Frost, or in my estimation Mod Girl Wonder Woman) but they are regular superheroes, not demon hunters. It would seem that killing demons would result in a lot of char and blood marks. Again, this is an overanalysis, but just something I wanted to point out.
I sometimes get a little carried away with blogging, and today is no exception. On a recent trip to the library I picked up a HC graphic novel called Houdini the Handcuff King. I was not expecting much out of it, but it looked like a fun story and so I gave it a shot (reviewed here.) For me, as someone who has fallen out of superhero comics to a degree, the use of the medium to cover other topics has become somewhat of interest to me. In the past I have looked at a wide variety of comics that have done this, but there are not so many like this. In light of this I hunted down a comic about the only other stunt expert that I could think about, Evel Knievel. Granted he is not an escape artist, but I couldn't think of anyone else that caught the attention of the public in the pre-youtube days for doing silly dangerous stuff. This highlighted though an interesting aspect of biographical comics (and biographies in general I suppose). These kind of comics shouldn't be so interested in showing off a variety of strange trivia, or trying to incorporate characters into the comic medium's cliches, rather if done right they should focus solely on the achievements of the person involved. In the case of the stunts that means that Knievel should have had a comic about jumping some canyon, not a quasi-superhero book about fighting a gangster and this is where the Houdini book succeeded.
To put this in context, this is a picture from the 1970s of an officially sanctioned by Marvel group of people that could be hired to bring heroes to public events (and presumably birthday parties for reall rich kids.) The problem is that these costumes look pretty much ... horrible (rumour is that Jonathan Frakes play Captain America.) This was not even cosplay, as they were not doing this for fun, they were getting paid (coswork?) Take a look at a more recent picture (chosen out of the CV cosplay gallery, because it also has Spider Woman in it):
Granted we are almost 40 years on now, and makeup and fabric have increased, but it seems as though there has been a substantial improvement in real life costumes. The point of this blog was more just to show the contrast, but I suppose that the improvements also have to do with the genre becoming more mainstream nd fans wanting to interact with the medium in a different way.
Wait a minute? I am just a lowly internet blogger, for whom very few people actually read my blogs. Why am I taking on internet giant YouTube in a website review when so far my other website reviews have consisted of blogs and the like? Well this is not so much of a review per se I suppose as an observation of another form of comic distribution. In between making a star out of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber and acting as a way for angry people to vent their problems, there is a lot of worthwhile content often in the form of music. The thing about the music though is that performers still like to get paid for their efforts, and so unless the music is on an official channel then the material will get flagged and then removed. There is a bit of an exception to this though. If someone wants to do a fan video and if they give proper attribution then it can be ok to post videos with non-original copyrighted content. Take this for instance, which circumvents copyrights for both Justice League Unlimited and Billy Ocean:
To put my observation into context though, I sometimes like to do weird stuff on this site in terms of reviews. On the hundreth anniversary of the Titanic sinking I reviewed one of the few times it has ever showed up in comics. On Christmas Day I like to review Christmas comics. This year I couldn't find any Christmas comics and so went to look for one online like the other times that I have looked for educational comics or the like online. Where I ended up was online at YouTube with a man reading a Rudolph comic from DC from the 1950s, in the style of Twas the Night Before Christmas. DC is generally very protective of their material (even when they are not sure that they own it) so it seemed strange that they would allow this, but maybe this is a form of circumventing the copyright. I am sure if I got online and read out a comic and showed the panels that it would be removed quickly, but in terms of the old stuff, does the same hold? I am not sure, anyway, I don't support illegal downloads, but I was a little unsure about the legality of the presentation. The case is though that despite being a source of comic reviews and news, that in certain case youtube can also be a source of comics themselves.
I should admit something that some people already know about me, Despite them being anachronistic and a little misogynistic, I have a fascination with romance comics. The only problem with romance comics is that they are notoriously hard to track down. If you don't believe me, next time you are at your comic store look in the back issue bins for titles like Young Romance, Girls' Love Stories or Heart Throbs and see how many you turn up (or better yet ask the clerk if you want them to laugh at you.) As a part of comic history though, romance comics are pretty important, if not individually then as a whole to show a time in comics when heroes weren't popular and when war, western and romance comics dominated the medium. While being unable to acquire them in a consistent way (I find them sometimes at comic consolidators, or in comics bins in used book stores) I looked around the internet for suggestions on how to better find them. Surprisingly the advice was that I should download them, and also surprisingly the advice was that it was not illegal. This should be qualified in a sense though. What makes them legal to download and read is that they are public domain comics that companies no longer care about, mostly because the companies have ceased to exist. So while DC puts out a mostly pointless Valentines Day special called Young Romance to perpetuate the title, a lot of early romance titles are available for free download, as well as all kinds of other comics. Of course to be public domain these have to be old comics, I think 1960s is the most recent (there is a statute of 50 years for copyrights I believe.) The best of such sites which I have found is The Digital Comic Museum. Most likely fans of modern characters will find this resource somewhat useless as there are none to be found in there, but for those interested in the medium and not the characters so much (and especially comic history) this is a pretty amazing resource.
My cataloging of places on the internet where I have found comics continues, in an unexpected series of blogs for me on a Monday morning. Again as I mentioned in my previous blog, I am not so keen on the illegal download of comics, rather in the research of public domain comics, and sometimes these are to be found on blogs or websites in their entirety. This website is the personal one of Ethan Persoff, and its banner says it is "Political Ephemery, Drug Hysteria, Vintage Sex and Health Items ... [and] other miscellany delivered to you in a timely inappropriate manner." To give this a bit of background, I am a woman, and most every woman that I know living in North America has some opinion in one way or another on the subject of abortion. At the time of the Sandra Fluke controversy, I got interested to see what comics has ever done on the subject and put "abortion" into the wiki search engine. It came up with only one result (as it does now) a 1970s educational comic called Abortion Eve (my review of it is here, if anyone is interested). Lo and behold despite a seeming mismatch in terms of interest, I found this comic in its entirety on the website of Mr. Persoff. Despite finding what I was looking for, a quick glance at this website shows that this is not really the type of stuff that I am interested in (the same could be told from the intro to the subject matter) but the author does a decent job looking at issues from the standpoint of comics. On the first page the day I checked it out for the review (today) there was a small comic on a drug arrest and another on totalitarianism. Interesting subjects I guess, but not one that I delve too deeply into. As a source of comic related information this website does offer a few other interesting free comics, and again ones that I imagine are in the public domain, such as Threat to Freedom (which at the moment is not in the CV database.) In terms of comics it is for instance more relevant than the previously reviewed site (the Ephemerist) but this works better as a subject specific look at comics.
So after my most recent blog, I thought that I should perhaps go through and to actually detail a few things, more for my own memory than for anything else. Most of my comics come from the old fashion way, by buying them, but sometimes this is not possible and so I poke around the internet to see if anyone has uploaded these to a website. I am not sure of the legality of this, I know that for modern comics that it is against the law, though in terms of ownership different countries have different guidelines in terms of what you are allowed to own digitally. In my experience of searching for comics though it has all been around a general theme - looking for comics that are either educational or promotional. That is I am not looking for Avengers Arena #10, but rather I am looking for Dagwood Splits the Atom. These are occasionally on the internet, and specifically in the case of Dagwood Splits the Atom, on a blog style website called the Ephemerist. Something which some comic bloggers seem to enjoy doing is to have a bit of campy nostalgia in their otherwise sedate feed relinking other pics they find on the internet or responding to other blogs or tweets (I do similar stuff). In some cases I guess this entails actually uploading entire comics and in this case I got to read the Dagwood science story without having to search for years in used bookstores. Based on the time frame and educational nature and that the publishing company has long since been out of business, that the comic is legal to broadcast in this way. The website on the whole though is not for me - there is some substance there, just not the kind that I get interested in.
When I first came onto this website I discovered that I very much enjoyed the platform for blogging, and that I was happy that I had found a place to write and have people interact with me over what I had written. At the time though I had a strong impulse to blog a lot (I blogged on average once per day my first year here) but sometimes I came up with bizarre things to blog about. I did a few book review blogs, because we do not put books into the wiki, so the only other outlet was to blog the reviews. I extended this idea to a few other areas including one website review blog and one board game review blog. I never thought I would review another website again, as the concept was kind of weird to me. This morning however, I was doing a bit of comic research and happened across a website (more of a fleshed out blog actually) called Plaid Stallion. I was trying to find something on an Evel Knievel comic, and I found the information there. Looking around the site (which aims to collect catalog information from the 1970s) there are a few other things about comics (the website is not comic specific). It is a well detailed website for anyone interested in such information from this time frame and has numerous campy and yet somewhat entertaining comic book merchandise items on sale.
I should say before I get started that I know that Indian is not the proper term for people that lived in North America before it was colonized by Europeans. With that out of the way, I should point out that I have recently read the entire run thus far of the Legend of Oz from Big Dog Ink. With the Western re-imagining of the Wizard of Oz the story takes on a very different tone than the Baum classic, somewhat more violent and convoluted. Thus far the two series and one miniseries have produced 16 issues, and as with any such story in its infancy, there are still lots of questions unanswered. One of these deals with the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow's back story is not really explained at all yet (despite that the miniseries was about her past) and her powers are somewhat ambiguous as well. What is known about her is that she has some degree of magical power and that her depiction is Native American. I have talked about the concept of the Magical Negro before (albeit a looonnng time ago) how in mainstream media black people are given some degree of inexplicable power, seemingly only by being black. The same somewhat holds true here. The medium of comics puts a lot of stock in some cliches such as Voodoo priests or Native American Medicine Men, both of whom are often depicted with some sort of magical power granted to them by their gods. The reason that this becomes somewhat out of line is because the inverse of the same situation would result in a lot of criticism, or to put that another way, if Christian priests were referred to as magic men using the supernatural powers of Christ, there would be some outrage (though not everyone would be outraged.) It is kind of a bizarre double standard which the predominantly Christian culture uses to discriminate against the other cultures. Cultures and religions often talk about co-existence, but it is not really possible when one religion regards one as mythical magics, while guarding the supernatural aspects of its own beliefs as sacrosanct.