R. Sikoryak’s “Terms and Conditions”

My graphic hoot of the week — here’s the scoop on what it is. I must underscore that there is one game with the book that is irresistible to comic crazies: You go through all 102 pages and see how many artists (or at least characters) you can identify (and how much fun it is to have Apple logos (as well as actual apples) and iPhones scattered everywhere). Then you check the complete list of sources in the back and see how you did. (Yeah, I wasn’t surprised I didn’t recognize Rex Morgan, M.D.) And how apt Sikoryak’s Steve Jobs features were on certain characters — Sarge from Beetle Baily was perfect and Pogo hardly had to be changed at all. Snoopy was marvelously weird. A few of the characters looked quite “off” to me — like the Richie Rich example in the link. Then I realized they were simply from time periods well after I stopped looking at the comics.

I will re-re-read to get a take on the relation to the “Terms and Conditions” text itself, though the largest point, that it’s everywhere and nowhere, is quite on-target.

R.I.P.: Skip Williamson

Ace obit that includes lots of information new to me. I knew nothing about his personal life other than his political activism and he fell off my sightlines after the ’80s. His bizarre cause of death could be taken from a comic he drew. Snappy Sammy Smoot was one of the unforgettable clueless characters or Holy Innocent or what have you. His hair trip was a graphic triumph. And the obit ends with a quip from Williamson that is about the most rat-on exhortation from the ’60s demonstrations.

Guess Williamson and Jay Lynch had to leave about the same time so they could start up Celestial Bijou Funnies. Bet it’s better than ever.



“El Deafo” — Everybody Listen Up!

I just finished this glorious graphic work by Cece Bell. Here’s her introduction to it. 

And here is her website.

Nobody needs me to promote this book. It was a bestseller and won a “Newbery Honor Award.”

But it gives me hope and that’s what I’d like to post about. There were no “handicapped” (ugh word) kids when I was growing through grade school in the late ’50s and early ’60s. They were kept invisible (or, more precisely, were invisible even when they were present) and it was a source of enormous shame. Just as kids who committed suicide were called “crazy,” any mental or physical divergence was the fault of not only the individual, but the whole family.

Shame ruled the world to an unbearable degree. Now we’ve eliminated it in all the wrong ways.

Anyway, El Deafo could not have been written when I was there to read it as kid/young adult lit. But I am proud and grateful that it can be now. I have to add:

I hated the squawk box in classrooms even though I could understand what it was saying. There was something “Students AA BB CC and DD line up for the firing squad outside” about it.

Most P.E. teachers stunk even more than average at what they did. Instead of encouraging the inept and shy into getting more into physical activity, they basically wrote off everybody who wasn’t a natural jock.

The true friends, hard to find, are those with whom you share your fantasies and they know innately what the dreams mean and where they are going. It’s a warm-up for grown-up love.

How I Got Harvey Kurtzman Wrong

I tried to make up for decades of underrating him by doing a “Fresh Air” review of his biography. Now, in the latest bad joke in this banner year for bad jokes, the final, long-lost Kurtzman work has been reissued by Kitchen Sink Press — the original magazine was sponsored by Hugh Hefner and only lasted two issues and was called … wait for it … Trump.

It’s hard to explain now how impossible it was to find stuff like Trump once it was gone from the magazine stands. Kitchen Sink has done a first-rate job of reprinting all the published work and even the unfinished fragments that were to appear in the third issue.

So I’m working my way through it. Jack Davis’s magnificent satire “Rin Tin Tin Rin Tin” is highly recommended to Susan Orlean, if only because Davis draws the most outrageously perfect “psycho” dog imaginable. (Can’t seem to find even a single panel of the art on line. Damnation.)


OK, Old Dad Winter, Do Your Worst

We got above record-low temperature today (though cold as hell for Dec.) and we are stocked up for the weekend with music and films and books and food (tomato and leek cod tonight as well as several special cheeses as tiny treats throughout the next two days). And I believe the sun starts setting a minute later on Monday.

One impressive book is Best American Comics 2016  selected by Roz Chast. Highly highly recommended.


Three Marvels of “Dr. Strange” Movie

High quality acting that finds the right pitch, not pompous or cartoonish, but like doing a slightly wacky summer-theater production that keeps moving and entertaining the audience with characters plus tech marvels (reminded me of the “Dog in the Night-Time” production we saw off-Broadway last year).

Hits exactly the right degree of fidelity to the original stories and artwork (I even thought the added love-interest was aces). Here’s a quite well-done comparison of the early comics and the film. Single most brilliant stroke: fixing up the yuckaroo problems of the Ancient One and Wong with utterly different solutions.

Got me to enjoy a superhero movie — or even want to see one — in about a decade. The downside is that I may not want to part with my original Dr. Strange comics. The upside — since I reminded myself that Steve Ditko did do the original encounter with Thor and Loki — we may wanna hit the sequel.

PS: Gawd there’s a lotta movies based on comic books or Disney-related stuff these days! Trailers lasted ages.

PPS: I’ve been enlightened that there’s no real Ditko vs. Lee conflict with Dr. Strange like Lee vs. Kirby on other issues (and even Ditko vs. Lee on Spider-Man) and so the Stan Lee cameo is quite a hoot, esp. given his reading matter on the bus.