Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fantagraphics Eye for the "IT" Guys

The IT Crowd, currently available on the UK's Channel Four, is the latest sitcom from Graham Linehan, one of the writers behind two of the funniest sitcoms the UK has produced: Father Ted and Black Books. Quick-n-dirty description from the official website:
The high-rise towers of Reynholm Industries are full of go-getters, success stories, and winners... apart from [the IT department] in the basement.
While their beautiful colleagues work in fantastic surroundings, Jen, Roy and Moss lurk below ground, scorned and mocked by their co-workers as geeky losers, doomed never to make it back into normal society.
So far The IT Crowd doesn't quite live up to its predecessors, but it certainly has a similarly good toe-hold on "zany, madcap kooky-funster" humor, this time upping the "geek" factor to the Nth degree. I'll give it time, though, considering its pedigree.

So why mention it here? Take a look at the pic above (apologies for the too-tiny image; I hope to have a better one soon): The basement office, where much of the series takes place, is stuffed to the gills with swag based on characters from comics published by the fine folks at Fantagraphics and mostly produced by painstaking Presspop. Get out your magnifying glass, and you can make out [1] Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan vital animus; [2] Jim Woodring's Frank lithograph; [3] Peter Bagge's Buddy Bradley doll; [4] Dan Clowes' Pogeybait doll; [5] Kaz's Smoking Cat (I think); and possibly more.

Also check the other items of geek-cred, like the Fair Use Has a Posse sticker on Roy's desk, and (not pictured) an icon of His Holiness, the most holy Flying Spaghetti Monster (Blessed be His Noodly Appendage, Ramen).

I can just imagine Gary Groth, Kim Thompson, and Eric Reynolds pulling up outside the office building, running down the stairs, and getting to work....

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Geektasm Alert: Free Superman Poster

Dateline Metropolis: As part of the state of Illinois' "Discover Offbeat Illinois" campaign, the IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is offering a free poster (several choices) to anyone who requests one. (The offer might be for US residents only; I didn't read the fine print). The poster touting the city of Metropolis' Favorite Son is pictured above (I've already ordered mine, natch); there's also one for the Tallest Man in the World, in Alton; Berwyn's Car-Kabob; Rockford's Jane the T-Rex (somebody order this one for me! Thanks, Kate and Queen!); and more.

To see all the posters, click here. To order your own, click here.

Super-special thanks to sister-in-law extraordinaire Alex "Scoop" Gillen for the tip. Here's another tip: See the world in new ways by visiting Phosgraphia, her ultra-cool photo-blog!

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Past Shame Rises from the Grave, Zombie-Like, to Taunt Me Again

Ah, the World-Wide Internets: Where information never dies, it just gets a new URL.

I should have known that no matter how many times I glowingly name-check Tom Spurgeon and his essential Comics Reporter blog, it would only be a matter of time before he got around to re-posting his scathing review of the only mini-comic I ever produced. He's been adding lots of his old reviews to CR, but I'd hoped that this one (which he wrote for an on-line column entitled "You Send It, We'll Review It") was obscure enough to escape his notice; ha ha on me. Herewith, a few select quotations from his review of my very own Gene Gene's Comics Machine #1 [Aug. 1997]:
This is a good comic of the type by people who have no business doing comics...

The nostalgia doesn't really go beyond tedious recollection...

Kannenberg fails on all sort of craft levels he doesn't even pretend to engage...
And that's not including this tidbit, which I was gonna use on the cover of GGCM #2 (fortunately never produced): [S]adly, he's no cartoonist.

I kid, I kid: To be fair, the review's a bit more balanced than the above quotes (all genuine!) might suggest; and to be honest, Tom's critiques are really pretty much dead on the mark. I did the comics in that mini [A] to see what it was like to make comics, and [B] mostly as contributions to a certain Wombat-themed zine (mentioned in Roger Sabin and Teal Triggs' essential Below Critical Radar: Fanzines and Alternative Comics From 1976 to Now).

Even though it didn't lead to fame or fortune, or even to talent, making GGCM increased my interest in - and enthusiasm for - the comics form. I'd thought a lot about comics as a reader; but stepping behind the curtain for the first time, I got to think about comics as a creator, like all those dozens (at least) of decisions that need to be made per panel, or what story "beats" are most important to illustrate, or even how hard it is to draw somebody sitting in a chair. (The astute reader will note that there are no chairs in GGCM #1.)

So thanks, Tom, for reminding me about this little learning experience of mine. All's forgiven; in fact, everyone reading this should immediately purchase a book he co-wrote: Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book. And to any masochists out there: I recently found a small stash of Gene Gene's Comics Machine #1s, and they're still available at last millennium's cover price: one USAmerican dollar (Cheap!) or something in trade. Contact me, and I'll hook you up with the pain.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"Holy Flash Animation!"

I usually detest websites relying too heavily on Flash animations - they can be a pain for dial-up users to load, and too often the animation seems to exist merely "because it's cool." One of the most important ideas that a designer - heck, anyone - needs to learn:

"Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should."
But today I learned about perhaps the finest use of Flash ever: The Bat Pages, devoted to the 1960s Batman TV show. Yes, the show was hokey (and Caesar Romero wouldn't even shave his moustache), but it was hokey-fun, from the cartoon titles to the whirling Bat-logo scene-changer to the catchy-yet-philosophical theme song.

The Bat Pages strive to recreate the entire Bat-Video Experience, and they do a mighty-fine job, with opening titles, sound effects, interactive bits, and more. So-- atomic engines to power, turbines to speed, speakers on, and go! (Note the special bonus included for those visitors lucky enough to find the Bat Shark Repellent.)

Thanks to my brother John Kannenberg (founder, designer, and all-around guru of the label Stasisfield) for the tip!

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Holiday Gift Suggestion...

Given that...

I have had a long interest in Winsor McCay's "Little Nemo in Slumberland," and

I grew up in Milwaukee, WI and read the Milwaukee Journal daily newspaper (nowadays the Journal Sentinel), and

The item pictured below is currently on offer at eBay

... I believe that my family and friends now know what to get me for Xmas.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Not Me!" "Ida Know!" "Yog-Sothoth!"

Dep't of the Sublime: For your edification, education, and enlightenment, I hereby direct you to The Nameless Dread, a heretofore unknown collaboration between Bill Keane (The Family Circus) and H.P. Lovecraft (The Family Cthulhu). Fourteen mind-expanding imagetexts to fill you with, well, a nameless dread...
Via The A.V. Club Blog.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Superhero Renaissance?

No, I'm not suggesting that superhero comics have suddenly "seen the light." Pal Miron Murcury alerted me to this Photoshopping contest at The theme this time should be pretty clear from the examples I've posted here: "Blue Boy Wonder" by the pseudonymous "Snowcrash," "Superdegas" by "DerPartnerSweeny," and "Wonder Woman" by FlashDaz.

Not all the entries are as accomplished as these three, but there are several here that are amusing and unexpected. Maybe not worth 1000 looks, but definitely worth a look or two; check it out here.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Mystery Date

mysteryDue to a chance combination of e-mail utterances by pal Craig Yoe (author, most recently, of the much-more-than-mildly magnificent Modern Arf - go buy it, already!), I felt compelled to peform a Google Image Search for a naked Alfred E. Neuman. I plugged in "what me worry" and "naked," and only one image (safe for work!) came up. I confess that I [a] have no idea why this happens, and [b] would rather not know. The mystery is that much greater...

(For those of you wondering what this post has to do with comics, this blog's usual subject: Well, let's just say that it concerns a significant juxtaposition of image and text, all right?)

Update - 3 October: All right, who told the Feds about this? That search no longer yields any results. (Pagus is mightily displeased.) For those of you who missed your chance, click here; the headshot on that very page was our Google Mystery Image.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Favorite Mathematical Equation

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rita Update: Somewhat Moister for the Wear

Well, as of 9:25 this a.m., we've had a little rain and some amount of wind (as evidenced by the tree now growing horzontally across W. Cottage St), but no other immediate problems right around us. We know things are much wetter in other parts of the city, but so far, at least, we still have power, water, and Internet access.

The storm isn't over yet, and we still could be in for some rough weather (it's supposed to rain through next Thursday). If anything drastic or amazing happens, I'll be sure to post updates here.

Thanks to everyone who's contacted us and wished us well during the lead-up period to the hurricane - you are all wonderful friends.

Comics Content: Pat Paulsen, Flip Wilson, and Raymond J. Johnson, Jr., walk into a bar...

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Rita Update: Everyone Knows it's Windy...

...or at least it will be, soon enough, as Hurricane Rita rumbles ever-closer. We're going to weather the storm (har har) here at home, in Casa Wombato, located in one of the highest-elevated sections of Houston. (I think it's a matter of being only a foot or so higher than the rest of the city, but that's something...)

I'll try to post an update or two here (as will Kate) later on Friday and on Saturday, to let folks know how we're faring.

Oh, wait - I almost forgot some obligatory comics content.

Whew! I feel much better now!

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Bizarro-World MAUS Action Figure?

When I saw this toy in a Target store recently, I thought that I had fallen into a strange, parallel universe, one in which Art Spiegelman had not only licensed action figures based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning MAUS but also approved Mecha-like re-interpretations of the graphic novel's characters. Here we see what appears to be the Mecha-Vladek Spiegelman figure; unfortunately, the packaging did not indicate if this Vladek comes equipped with jacket-tossing or bits-of-wire-collecting action...

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Comics Action-Fingers

Thanks to pal Mike Rhode, I am the proud owner of these exquisite Spider-Man and Batman finger puppets. Note the fine quality of the knitting, which really highlights the faithfulness to detail on these unlicensed Ecuadorian exports. Thanks, Mike!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Manga Head: Hair Product, Manga History (Dessert Topping, Floorwax Still to Come?)

New from Garnier UK: Manga Head, a hair product lets you "create your own superhero hair," as BoingBoing noted today.

The web site for the product contains not only information on seven types of "manga hairstyles" for you to try but also a section called "Manga Story" (subtitled either "What's Manga All About?" or "Why Is Japan So Coooool?" [sic], depending on where you are in the site), done up as a kind of six-page mini-manga. The whole web site's presented in flash, unfortunately, so I hope they keep this curiosity up here.

For maximum fashion potential, of course, you'll want to use Manga Head in conjunction with Nadesicco Black, "inky black [contact] lenses that make [eyes] look like they have gigantic monochromatic pupils" (Wired 13.5).

NB: Manga Head's "Win a Trip to Tokyo" contest is only good for residents of the UK, dangit...

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