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Cross-Hatchings for January 2012

Busy couple of weeks here, so it’s all bits and pieces today.

The thing that really screwed us up was that we were snowbound for most of last week. Now, usually I make cruel fun of my fellow Seattleites over our yearly snow hysteria. My friend Mike put it best: “The TV weather guys break in on programming with bulletins saying it might snow, and they do it the way Tokyo news guys would say, ‘Godzilla is approaching the city.’ It’s like they think it’s a terrorist attack. I keep expecting to hear that they are scrambling jets to shoot at the snow.”

If we ever got snow AND Godzilla, my town would self-destruct out of sheer terror.

This time, though, the media freakout was actually valid. We got hammered with the foulest winter weather we’ve had in two decades.

It really was weird, seeing the city go dark. Even the governor did a live remote telling people to stay off the roads. Usually it's some lowly intern who must don the Parka of Penance and venture outdoors with a microphone to dispense obvious advice. We always figured it was the punishment for eating the last donut, or something.

I generally tend to agree when people suggest we are ‘snow wimps’ here in Seattle– but really, getting it from Mister Los Angeles snooty news guy? Seriously? From the city that gave us the expression “Carmageddon” for closing down a section of freeway for maintenance? You know what us snow wimps in Seattle call that? “A weekend.”

The city that freaked out over “Carmageddon” doesn’t get to make fun of anybody else’s traffic panics. Ever. Offhand I can think of seven detours and two closed bridges downtown right now because of construction and maintenance. My town’s a little nuts about winter weather, but at least we can arrange a detour without hysteria. Suck on that, Los Angeles.

…. Sorry, got distracted for a moment. Anyway, I’ve been kept busy with trying to figure out how to keep print clients happy, get my spring semester class budgets turned in, keep various student projects on schedule, and so on and so on, playing catch-up for the week when Seattle was largely shut down with impassable roads and power outages. All of this meant that not a lot of column-writing got done.

So this week… bits and pieces. Column-ettes.

*

Looks at Books: I got this great book in the mail yesterday. You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry: A Hulk Companion by Patrick Jankiewicz.

I’ve often talked here about that whole 1970s ‘bionic’ era of superhero television, and I also have great affection for the TV shows Kenneth Johnson worked on in general. So I was interested to see this book; as far as I know it’s the first one anyone has undertaken to write about the Hulk show.

On the left you have the book itself, and on the right, the author getting a review from Lou Ferrigno.

Mr. Jankiewicz is a veteran writer with credits in both Starlog and Fangoria magazines, so I was expecting it to be of that school of film coverage– affectionate, lots of photos, amusing trivia, many guest-star and crew interviews along with the ones from the main players. That was all true, but what I was not expecting was for the book to be so exhaustive. It’s over 500 astonishingly thorough pages. The book covers mostly the five years of the television series with a full episode guide– each episode gets an actual chapter devoted to it, which both pleased and awed me– and there are also prefatory chapters talking about the events that led to the show getting sold, and chapters devoted to the reunion made-for-TV movies, including the unproduced ones — the She-Hulk spinoff and Rebirth of the Incredible Hulk. It is, simply, the reference for this particular show.

It even passes what I consider to be the ultimate test — it’s not just for fans. I think this book would still be interesting reading for people who never watched the show and don’t care about Marvel superhero comics at all. It’s as much or more a book about television and the rigors of producing a weekly drama series as it is about the big green guy — more, really. As such, it joins what I would consider a very short list of recommended texts for people who are just interested in the process of creating TV and film in general.

Here are three others from that short list, while I'm thinking of it. These are good reads even if you don't care about the films or shows that are referenced in them.

So the book gets my highest recommendation. My only caveat is that it’s a small-press book and it is priced at a hefty $32.95 retail. That’s a high price for a trade paperback, even one weighing in at over 500 pages. So you might want to shop around and see if someone’s got it discounted.

Now, full disclosure: I really only bought this because the author’s nephew Troy is one of my cartooning students. Troy was very excited about its publication and brought in a copy to class. I honestly ordered it mostly to be supportive; I was expecting something fluffier, and I’m not sure I’d have gotten past the price tag otherwise. (And I DID get it discounted.) Having copped to all that, I must now apologize for thinking of the purchase as an act of charity. It’s a terrific book and I’m glad to add it to the reference library. Money well-spent.

Incidentally, Troy is one of my Young Authors as well and says that writing runs in the family. It may well be so, but Troy’s interests are not in research or TV trivia — unlike most of my other kids who are primarily interested in doing either magical-girl fantasies or Alex Rider knockoffs, Troy is the class pulp-fiction writer. I often think he is channeling Norvell Page. Or maybe Robert Leslie Bellem.

One of the perks of teaching Young Authors is pointing my kids towards the books they are unconsciously echoing. Here's two from Troy's literary forefathers.

As it happens we just published our third Young Authors anthology, and Troy’s latest bullet-riddled opus has the leadoff spot. If you are interested, it’s available as a free eBook for the Nook or Kindle; just shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up.

*

Speaking of Research: A while back, I plugged a blog here, How Would You Fix…? that covered various and sundry questions of Marvel continuity and presented solutions. If you are, like me, the sort of comics fan that enjoys seeing this kind of Baker Street Irregulars faux-scholarly research applied to our little backwater of pop culture, you will find it an entertaining place to while away an hour or two.

Its creator Nathan Adler has been in poor health recently but the blog was kept up by various guest posters. Nathan dropped me a line not too long ago saying he was feeling a little better and definitely back in business, and I thought I’d pass that along here. This recent post about why Crystal of the Inhumans can’t seem to stay faithful to any of her various boyfriends and husbands has some interesting speculations.

Of course, Crys could just be kinda slutty.

Anyway, we’re glad Mr. Adler is back in business and we wish him well.

*

Annnnnd that’s as far as I’d gotten when our home PC gave up the ghost. Between the weather shutting the city down for a week and last night’s computer burnout, I’m starting to feel a little persecuted.

So I am going to quit while I’m ahead. I borrowed my wife’s laptop to at least get this sort of wrapped up, and then Julie and I are going shopping for a new home computer.

Barring any further disasters, I’ll see you… next week.

17 Comments

I look at the pic of Mr. Jankiewicz and Ferrigno and all I can think is it cost him $20 for the photo, $25 dollars for the headlock, and we all now owe Ferrigno five dollars each for looking at it.

defintly now going to have to track down that hulk book mostly to learn what the title to the unproduced hulk film was and why the she hulk spin off never happen .

I love the format of that SNL book and as soon as I read it, I thought, “Someone needs to do a book just like this about Marvel comics, especially in the turbulent 70s/80s/90s, with everybody telling their side of the story and just going at each other full force.”

I think it could be wildly entertaining, and a much needed counterbalance to all of those official company histories that have only hidden what a wild and entertaining story it really is.

(You could do DC too, but I’ve always been under the impression that it was a more staid and stable place to work, comparatively.)

OOh, Matt’s on to something there. I think you’d need a separate book for each Marvel decade, though. One for the post-Stan/Roy as EIC years, one for the Shooter era, and one for the DeFalco/Harras/Image guys before they were Image era.

I was very young when the Hulk show was on, but I apparently loved it. I saw some episodes a while back (when it was still the Sci-Fi Channel, and showed non-reality shows), and the one I remember has Rosey Grier beating on a car, saying “this is for momma!”. No, I don’t remember what it’s about otherwise, but man, that’s amusing.

I’ve been quite glad that the weather has been fairly mild this winter here in upstate NY, since my car’s a piece of junk and doesn’t like to start in the really cold weather.

Good luck with the computer shopping.

That’s SO weird. Iowa has, like, a half inch of snow right now. And that’s gonna melt, ‘posedly.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 28, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Man, that Los Angeles Times report is freakin’ hilarious. Did Seattle steal his girl in high school or something? Or are city papers in America just dicks to other cities all the time? Just seems a bit much to call a city clueless because the same idiots who always speed in crazy weather sped in crazy weather and had a crash. (There’s not been a weather incident in recorded history bad enough that there weren’t a few idiots thinking ‘I can do this!’).

I don’t know of Crystal is all that slutty, or an Inhuman treaty building device – I just think being married to Pietro would be pretty shitty. He never seems to laugh, is always whining, gets angry really quickly, only ever joins teams as a non-member, and just seems a general dick to people. He’s such a dick he pretended to have been replaced by a skull to make up for what a dick he was.
Makes perfect sense to me that Crystal would keep straying to find some love and attention (or even just some sexing).

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Matt & Travis – you guys should check out Twomorrows Publishing. They’ve got a bunch of books doing exactly that with Marvel and DC, as well as their regularly magazines looking at the books and creators of past times. They’re really cheap digitally as well, with no DRM.
I’m currently reading their book FF: The Wonder Years, about Stan and Jack on FF, and ‘The Thin Black Line’ a book about Vince Colleta ‘Comics most controversial inker’.

I’ll second FGJ’s recommendation for TwoMorrows Publishing. I love their coverage of 70s and 80s comics in Back Issue magazine and have very much enjoyed the books I have read from them about specific artists.

Give them your business!

@Greg
You’re Seattle-based???? I didn’t know that.

That’s just it– I love Back Issue, but rather than get all these great stories piecemeal, I’d love to gave them all collected in one book that, as Greg says, could have much broader appeal than Twomorrows’ heretofore fan-only marketing.

Marvel is a huge name right now in Hollywood and in the business world for their success story. …and it’s part of Disney– think about how many non-animation guys buy books about Pixar and non-kids-movie people buy histories of Walt’s work.

My suggestion would be for the guys at Twomorrows to take the treasure trove of interviews they’ve already done, bring it to a big time editor at a major publisher, and offer to co-publish a big glossy tell-all hardback for the mass market.

Live From New York is my favorite nonfiction book ever written. It’s so amazingly in-depth, full of lots of heart… it’s what made Saturday Night Live more than just a show for me. I’d recommend it to everyone who can get their hands on it. The interviews feel so seemless in transition, and while conversational, the book itself displays a level of articulate craftsmanship in its verbage. Just excellent. Glad to see someone else loves it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 29, 2012 at 2:01 am

Matt – There’s two books Marvel in the 60′s and Marvel in the 70′s, available at the moment from Twomorrows. *
I’ve got the Taschen History of DC by Paul Levitz, which covers DC’s side.
The thing is, I don’t know of there’s that much juice for mainstream book. A lot of them were freelancers who worked from home, no one was paying attention at the time to take note pf anything, and a lot of people involved are dead. Throw in some key remaining people changing stories to protect their companies from Lawsuits, and I’m not sure there’s too much solid information out there.
People who don’t read comics don’t know Jack Kirby, let alone all the other people who aren’t Stan Lee. Would they care about Steve Englehart or Steve Gerber?

Personally, I think we’ve come out on top with ongoing magazines, websites and blogs like this, detailing the history of comics, rather than one or two books.
Comic fans can be much more informed about the companies histories, if they want to, than a fan of SNL or TV studios could.

*I’ve not got the, yet, as in the preview of the 70′s one, the author mentions Kirby being a spent force by the time he left Marvel. BULLSHIT MOTHERFUCKER! Marvel was just the warm up!
(That’s only partially true – I just haven’t got it yet. The book says that, which is objectively wrong!, but not why I didn’t get it. I do love Twomorrows authors just putting their own views not the books though, fun to be able to cheer or jeer the author whilst reading some history!)

I don’t know if Crystal is all that slutty, or an Inhuman treaty building device – I just think being married to Pietro would be pretty shitty.

I think we may have a winner, folks.

You guys should check out TwoMorrows Publishing.

They actually just put me on their review list. I’ve got a whole TwoMorrows column coming in a week or two. And yeah, I’m a big fan.

Good luck with the computer shopping

We addressed that last night; came home with a really nice ASUS CM series that we– well, probably Julie, I’m not very good with this stuff– will be setting up shortly. Also a new DVD rack and the first season of COLUMBO. We probably shouldn’t go to the computer store very often, we have no retail resistance.

You’re Seattle-based???? I didn’t know that.

Yes indeed. The Cartooning Class has a table in Artist’s Alley at the Emerald City show every year. Come see us if you’re in town.

It’s not just that Pietro is a dick, but that Inhuman society is extremely repressive in its adherence to family duty. It was already a stigma that Crystal fell for the outworlder Johnny, and again for Pietro. But once Pietro was more or less accepted into the Inhumans as the leader of their militia, it would’ve been reflected even worse for her to divorce him in the eyes of Atillan. So, rather than honestly telling Pietro that he’s a dick and that she doesn’t want to be under his thumb, she sticks with him while getting love/sex/basic human compassion in an unassuming human.

Sexual deviance in VIctorian society, or the bizarre hentai fetishes in the otherwise repressive Japan, must have NOTHING on what sexual deviance must be in Atillan. Then again, since they’re all superhumans and their lawfully accepted marital consumation must frequently involve tentacles, maybe a regular human real estate agent is their height of kinkiness.

First season of Columbo: good choice. A local channel here airs Columbo episodes on Sunday afternoons – I sometimes catch them when I have time. Those episodes from the ’70s in particular are outstanding.

@Greg
Will do, because not only will I be in town–I live here!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 30, 2012 at 3:19 am

They actually just put me on their review list. I’ve got a whole TwoMorrows column coming in a week or two. And yeah, I’m a big fan.

I’m honestly a little shocked I’ve never come across an article by you in their magazines Greg, Back Issue especially!

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