Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Aquaman!

According to the 1976 DC Calendar, January 29 is Arthur Curry's birthday. Of course, Arthur Curry is better known throughout the world as AQUAMAN. According to his publisher, today is his birthday, which makes him an Aquarius. I think that makes perfect sense. :-)

I have no idea why I like Aquaman. I already tried here to explain why I like him, but I just can't. He isn't one of the Biggies, and I've always supported the underdogs (not *that* Underdog....). Be that as it may, after I got back to the US after spending 14 years in Japan, I found it easy to claim Aquaman as "mine." Everybody knew Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and the X-Men, but the blonde guy in orange and green was mostly off the Pop Culture stage in the late 90s and 2000s. So I bought and wore t-shirts, I talked him up to people, and now, at my current job as interpreter/administrator for an R&D facility, the guys in my department help me celebrate Aquaman's birthday!

If the day happens on a Monday or Tuesday I spend the weekend baking cookies in the shape of (gingerbread) men. Then I decorate them with colored frosting. This photo is from what I did last year. One year the day fell on a weekday when I didn't have time to bake, so I bought cupcakes and decorated them with marine animal toys. One year I also baked a cake and tried to decorate it with Aquaman drawn in frosting, but those chefs on TV make it look a lot easier than it actually is, so I haven't done that since. I also try to buy Pepperidge Farm "goldfish" if I remember and if they are on sale. :-)

Aquaman's wife, by the way, has her birthday two days from now. Mera is a royal from another dimension; she visited here, they fell in love, and got married in the first wedding for a super-hero in comic-book history (Mr. Fantastic & The Invisible Girl got married a year later). My question has always been: is she the same age as him, a little bit older, or a little bit younger??

So today, in his honor, go out for some sushi or make yourself a tuna fish sandwich--- dolphin safe, please! Raise your glass to The Rodney Dangerfield of Super-Heroes (he doesn't get any respect, either!!) --- AQUAMAN!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

POGO Through The Wild Blue Yonder

I am very happy to announce that the long-awaited release of the classic POGO strip by Walt Kelly has begun! Up until the release of POGO Through The Wild Blue Yonder Vol 1, only the daily strips have  been  reprinted. Now, we have the daily strips distributed by the Hall Syndicate starting on May 16, 1949 as well as the Color Sunday strips starting on January 29, 1950.  (Coincidentally, this is 62 years ago to the day tomorrow!)

The publisher, Fantagraphic Books, promises to publish all of the strips, from its debut here until it's eventual retirement after Walt Kelly's passing on October 18, 1973.

The current volume reprints one year and a half, through December 1950, so at that rate we will have approximately twenty-two of these beautiful books. As soon as I get my tax refund I intend to rush over to my local Barnes & Noble and purchase Pogo Through The Wild Blue Yonder for myself. At less than $30, this is an absolute steal.

If you have never experienced the denizens of the Okefenokee Swamp, please trust me and go to your library and borrow this book. Or trust me implicitly and go buy yourself a copy. I'm thinking you will NOT be disappointed.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Worst Team In The NHL

Two guesses as to which team I am referring to in the title....! :-(

Okay, every year SOMEbody has to be at the bottom. That's just the way it is; for every winner, there must be a loser. But let's look at the facts for a second. This is the second year IN A ROW where the Columbus Blue Jackets had *such* an enthusiastic start to a season, only to end up nowhere near the Play Off table.

Last year was Columbus' Tenth Anniversary Season, with a new coach, and new things happening....or not. The big change in 2010-2011 was that Mike Commodore went away. Well, he must not have been the problem Coach Scott Arniel thought he was, eh? After a less than stellar season, (although toying near the PlayOff line once or twice just to tease the fans), CBJ management got rid of about half the team. They raised salaries of the players they brought in or decided to keep around. Jan Hedja, Mathew Garon, Jakob Voracek, Andrew Murray, Kyle Wilson, and Rudy Klesla, slackers all, were showed the door. Players that I don't particularly think were or are "all that" were allowed to stay (Steve Mason, Fyedor Tutin, and yes, Antoinne Vermette, I'm talking to you!!). Add in a few terrible injuries and voila, we have another half-baked season where we are in the basement. Current standings as of today (1-22-12) have the Blue Jackets at 32 points. The conference leader is Detroit at 65 points. They have won 32 games to our 13.

So what's to happen? opinion is to keep a core of consistently hard-working players, such as Derek Dorsett and Jared Boll, and build a new team around them! I wouldn't necessarily ditch Captain Rick Nash but I think I would demote him, since we have to assume some of these problems are because of his leadership abilities (or lack of same!). Anyone who has scored any goals at all are automatically in. We keep Vinny Prospal, even though he is a "free agent." I don't care about that; he can play, and has been doing great. Curtis Sanford should be made Lead Goalie. New kids like John Moore, Matt Calvert, Grant Clitsome, and David Savard should be added and kept. And of course, my new favorite, Ryan Russell, has a spot as long as he wants one. (He scored two goals within three games; that's a better average than the Captain right now...!) 

To sum up....I'm not necessarily abandoning my team. However, now that Coach Arniel has been relieved of his duties, it's time to make some more moves. Let's get rid of what (who) isn't working and strive to get better. Otherwise, really, what's the point?! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

JL #13 "And The Winner Is....!" AFTERWARD

So...were you surprised?
I'm especially curious what long-time JLA fans think of this story.
For those of you not in the know, this is the "official" DC comics JLA membership history:
the JLA was founded by Aquaman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman, and Wonder Woman. New members added in this order: Green Arrow, the Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, the Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkwoman, Zatanna, and Firestorm.

I will establish in the next issue that the founding members in "my" universe are the same, but with John Stewart traded in for Hal Jordan. Then instead of Hawkman as the third new member, "my" Justice League chose Hawkwoman first. Then Black Canary joined, leaving the next slot open for The Elongated Man. Now, in "my" universe I haven't yet introduced Red Tornado, so it's not likely that he will join in the next issue (!). So that leaves Hawkman.

Friday, January 20, 2012

JL #13 Special Guests & Villains

This is the issue where the JLA goes New Member hunting. So there are quite a few guest stars---! 

continued after the jump---! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

JL #13 "And The Winner Is....!" FORWARD

This is the first issue I ever did whose title is NOT a direct translation of the Japanese (or vice-versa). I think I came up with the English title "And The Winner Is..." from the Academy Awards show (this was before the phrase was changed to "And the Oscar goes to...") and then wanted a Japanese translation. Well, there evidently isn't one! When announcements like this are made, the Japanese that is used is equivalent to "The award winner is" and then the name. I could have done "the new member...." or "the winner..." but it wouldn't have sounded the same.  So then I went for a more-Japanese cultural title, loosely translated as "Looking For New Members." But I didn't like the sound of that in English!

As you could probably guess, this was partly a problem of working with Mrs. Ochiai, who dutifully read my stories but didn't really "get" them, I don't think. If she could follow what was going on, she didn't really change any of my terms. So after last issue wasn't quite the translation that I would have wanted (several kids asked what was going on in several scenes) I asked Mrs. Ochiai and then also asked one of my adult English Class students, Ms Shoko Taniguchi, to look at it, too. This time I think it read better, but this combination also had its problems, not the least of which was the time constraint of having two different people reading the manuscript. 

Another change that I was not happy with was my lack of "caucasian" and "gray" colored pencils. If you compare this issue with the earlier ones you'll see that the satellite gray and the skin color of most of the members had changed slightly. I had bought new colored pencils but did not like how they actually ended up looking. I would go through a few different candidates for those in the next few issues, too, until I finally found ones I liked.

One Hit Wonders: The Marcels "Blue Moon"

Who would imagine that a cool song like "Blue Moon" has SUCH a convoluted history!? I'm not going to go into it here, but if you are interested here is the link on wikipedia. If you only know this "pop" version of the song (from 1961), track down the more "standard" versions recorded by Elvis Presley or Bobby Vinton. You're in for a shock. I mean, this song *was* originally written by Lorenze Hart and Richard Rodgers in 1933, so....!

Every time I hear this particular version (the only copy I have, haha) I can't help but sing along. Sometimes I try to stay with the Doo-Wop part and sometimes I try to sing the lead. It doesn't matter; either way it's a great song!

However....I wanted to put up a link of the original group singing it, but it looks like The Marcels are one of these groups ala The Platters that have people going out and performing while using their name. I can't verify most of the Youtube videos that are labelled The Marcels! So, for the first time here on Friends of Justice, I am posting TWO versions of the same song!

I found this first video that uses stills from the movie, American Graffitti. It's the version of the song that I know and love. And the soundtrack to that movie is awesome, by the way.

Below that is a LIVE presentation of it. I'm not sure if any or most of these older guys are the original Marcels, but the two "leads" do sound similar. It is fun to watch these older guys up on stage obviously enjoying the attention...and  the audience obviously knows all the words, too!

JL #13 "And The Winner Is....!"

This is by far the oddest cover I ever did....featuring NO Justice Leaguers whatsoever! I was really going overboard with the whole "the DC Universe is a large place!" idea with this one, haha.

This issue was one of my least popular issues, and looking back on it now, I can't really say I disagree with the popular vote. It does have it's moments, but...well...more in the FORWARD, and then much more in the AFTERWARD. Let's just say that it's one of my least popular (=favorite) issues and leave it at that. :-)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

Walt Kelly had it right on January 1, 1970. Reprinted from THE IMPOLLUTABLE POGO.

"...and may the new year be a
damn-sight better than the last one....!"