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