Monday, February 12, 2007

Let Fly The Freak Flag!

Today I’d like to talk about personal body armor, the comic book Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, and grizzly bears.

I read an article (here) about Troy Hurtubise, a mulleted madman from Canada who created a suit of bear-fighting armor, has fallen on financial hard times and has put up a suit of his custom-designed HALO body armor on eBay. This makes me sad.

In case you don’t know, Troy Hurtubise was the subject of a fantastic documentary called Project: Grizzly (not to be confused with Grizzly Man, which we’ll get to in a moment). The film chronicles Troy’s efforts at designing the Ursus series of bear-proof personal armor and his quest to test the armor in the field – in other words, he wanted a frickin’ grizzly bear to maul him.

Digest that for a moment.

This eccentric, Bowie-knife toting, buckskin-wearing fellow from the Great White North was on a quest to meet ‘The Old Man” in mano-a-bearo combat, and the suits he designed, like some redneck Tony Stark, looked like they could stand up to a grizzly and then some.

Here is a demonstration of the resilience of the Ursus suits:



Hmm, I don’t recall that music in the Project: Grizzly movie. The Benny Hill music might have been funnier. But you get the point: this guy is fucking awesome.

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but let’s just say the Ursus armor doesn’t live up to its potential due to an unforeseen but totally obvious set of circumstances. Project: Grizzly is the study of a Quixotic guy who follows his own path, and you gotta respect that.

Troy’s most recent invention was a suit of armor directly out of the HALO video games. It looks sleek and goofy all at the same time. Troy was hoping to get a buyer for the prototype, but has had no luck. Now he’s resorted to selling the armor on eBay.

There’s something admirable about a guy so committed to his dreams, so immersed in his life’s work that he risks everything. There’s a thin line between that level of commitment and lunacy, and I don’t know where it is. But how many of us get bogged down in our day-to-day existence, letting the dictates and requirements of society weigh us down while our childhood (or childlike) dreams slip away? “I can’t quit my job and go hunt for the yeti in Bhutan – I’d lose out on my stock options!”

Maybe that’s why guys like Troy Hurtubise or the late Timothy “Grizzly Man” Treadwell resonate with me. Sure, there are people out there who fulfill their dreams to restore a MiG fighter or rescue a B-17 from an ice field in Greenland or explore the shipwreck of the Titanic like James Cameron, but it’s harder for me to connect with a wealthy retiree or film maker who follows their path, but with safety nets. Guys like Troy and Treadwell really fucking go for it – and some times they fail.

Or get eaten.

As a less extreme example, take Jim Balent, creator of the witchy T&A book Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose. This guy had a pretty good gig drawing comics for the major publishers and is probably most known for his lengthy run on Catwoman. Balent turned his back on work-for-hire art and took the plunge, self-publishing his own small line of Broadsword Comics built around the Tarot title.

Why?
Because the dude loves him some witches with big tits.

Setting aside any value judgment about the merits of Tarot, you have to admire the guy’s commitment. Jim Balent is 100% geek, and brother, he is letting it all hang out. Have you seen pictures of his Star Wars wedding? Holy shit. That’s hardcore. The guy is living the dream – he’s found a way to make a living out of doing what he loves most. He just happens to really dig supernatural shit, geek stuff, and heaving bosoms. Dude is like Gary Gygax crossed with Russ Meyers. And he found a woman who digs on all the same stuff and I mean, come on. Look at that wedding photo. It’s kinda sweet. Living the dream, baby.

I’m not a huge fan of Tarot, thought I know some people really dig it. But I do admire Jim Balent for taking what I’m sure was a professional and financial risk to self publish and just let his freak flag fly.

Granted, flying one’s freak flag need not involve fannish or dangerous behavior, but it does involve a certain degree of risk and vulnerability. In this age of irony, it can be hard to fully embrace your passions for fear of mockery or ridicule (apparently it is much less hard when there are TV cameras filming you). Living the dream involves living honestly and not giving a shit what other people think of you, and that can be hard. Because let’s face it, people like to make fun of weirdos. Mea culpa.

But God bless all the weird cats out there. Unless we’re just paying lip service to the concepts of individuality and pluralism, you have to salute people like this guy. Or that Ninja Turtles gal whose video got yanked by Viacom. And this guy. Or this guy. Or these people. Him. Even him. Even them.

Which is why the situation with Troy Hurtubise makes me a little sad. If there were any poetry in the universe, some wealthy patron would help him out like they did back in the Renaissance. Somebody throw that guy a line!

I understand that we live in the real world and that shit’s not fair, but I really like the idea of some guy somewhere working late into the night in his garage on something crazy like the world’s first Cougar-Proof Jogging Armor. Or some guy spending his summer vacation trolling around Loch Ness towing a sonar array. Or some kid in Iowa who makes incredible monster masks. Or the old man in England who has been working for years on an orbital rocket and who still looks at the night sky and hopes. *

Man, I fucking love that there are people like that in the world.

*This paragraph brought to you by the Walt Disney Co.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

You squishy romantic you... Keep marching in your red shirt, just keep on marchin'.

Chaomona said...

amen dave, that's all i have to say... amen.

Patrick said...

Inbetween this and previous posts, I get a sense that you have a lot of respect and empathy for the sometimes-rugged individualist that pursues their dreams at all costs, societal norms be damned.

And I'm with you. Maybe that sort of admiration comes naturally when you're working a middle or upper-middles class kind of job and living a comfortable existence in a big city. You really have to admire, on some level, the people who throw all that comfort away to pursue the millions of crazy opportunities that exist in this world of ours.

And I guess Jim Balent is in that category, even if his stuff freaks me the hell out.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you've turned into a woman. WTF?

Chris Sims said...

I really resent the implication here that I enjoy Tarot.

I enjoy reading Tarot. Whole different thing.

Hulkster said...

Man, I guess I'm going to be the first one nerdy enough to point this out about the Balent wedding photo, but...

Didn't anyone stop to think about what it means for Darth Vader to be marrying Princess Leia?

Unless the chick in the leather bustier in the middle is the bride...

I would also like to submit that there is no dream greater than creating a suit of armor that enables the wearer to wrassle a grizzly bear and live to tell the tale. That's not crazy, that's awesome.

Murray said...

You have my hallelujah and fuckin' airwolf! In this world where suburban neurotics think they can nerf the world with countless laws into some sort of planetary disneyland, all hail the weirdos!

Allandaros said...

I didn't know the man had put the armor up on eBay. That's sad.

But thank you for your salute to the CrazyAwesomeWeird people out there.

Vincent Dacak said...

Very inspirational. Keep searching for that rainbow buddy.

Jenn Lauer said...

Everything created that was ever great was met with extreme criticism--of course, that doesn't make Bikefox or Troy great, but it's endearing and awesome none-the-less.

Captain Blasty said...

"Setting aside any value judgment about the merits of Tarot, you have to admire the guy’s commitment."

No I don't, and here's why.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I only respect people who follow their dreams and goals if those dreams and goals are indeed respectable.

For example, some skinhead sells all his stuff to start a militia that attacks unsuspecting urbanites he doesn't like. Am I obligated to respect him because he followed his dream? There are lots of bad people who's goal in life was to become bad people. Do I have to admire them?

I can't help but blame all this new age, self-help bullshit for enabling all these losers. All dreams are not equal. Some are just asinine and need to be discouraged.

Extreme examples sure, but the point is I admire people who think outside the box, but only when their dreams aren't stupid, dangerous, or useless. I ain't got no time for some dork who's one dream in life was to draw witches with big knockers and make a living off of it.

But the bear suit guy is cool.

Chuck said...

Yeah, you lost me at Bikerfox.

Konstantinos said...

A very nice post Dave. (said in HAL voice)

I am glad this blog is well and kicking and wish you many years of (in your words) acrobatics and vigilante violence.

LaRue said...

So, the second "this guy", I think...the Capitan Jackson, Crimefighter..

...that guy just may be the coolest dude on earth.

Gabriel Villa said...

I know a guy who wed in Lord of the rings fashion.
Have no photos, but i swear it´s true.
And in his wedding ring was written "eternal love" in elvish.

Shon Richards said...

"For example, some skinhead sells all his stuff to start a militia that attacks unsuspecting urbanites he doesn't like. Am I obligated to respect him because he followed his dream? There are lots of bad people who's goal in life was to become bad people. Do I have to admire them?"

I was unaware that Balent and his gigantic art breasts were killing people. The guy likes freaky cheesecake and could have a big time career drawing major characters that he has no interest in but instead he's doing his own little thing cause he enjoys it. Instead of making big money drawing covers for Civil War: M*A*S*H*, he's doing zombie threesomes because he likes zombie threesomes. Yeah, I have to admire that.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Bear suit? Pft, Homer Simpson did that.

Chris said...

I prefer real bear fights.

Edward Liu said...

Show of hands -- who thinks that bear armor guy's new suit has spikes on the inside of it to make him meaner, darker, and grimmer?

Word confirm: hvfiggy. High Velocity figgy. Lab-tested to be 52% faster than regular figgy.

joncormier said...

I remember seeing Troy on some talk show that may or may not have involved Oprah as host. He was showing off his second Bear Suit after he finished the one in Project Grizzly. Yeah it was Halo before we even had X-boxes and he claimed you were fully mobile, could drive in it and it could withstand shots from an AK-47. He was trying to sell it to cops but was afraid someone would buy it and try to rob a bank with it because the only way to stop would be to use a tank. And you couldn't just run over the guy because the suit would protect him. I guess you'd have to pin him and starve him out.

I've also seen Troy showing off his fire paste. It's this foamy liquid that you can apply to anything and it hardens really quickly. It's totally fireproof - which he demonstrated with the use of Barbie's dream home - but can then get washed away with water just as quickly. The only ingredient he's revealed is Diet Coke.

Anonymous said...

I too am of the opinion that some dreams need to be crushed, for the good of the dreamer, and society in general.

And I would never put Jim Balnet in the same category as the guy who finds and recovers aircraft. And anyone can make a stupid ninja turtles video. We need not validate the webcam whores.

And theme weddings are always stupid. If you see a theme wedding, you have the right, nay the duty to break it up and make sure those people don't ever breed!

Jack Potts said...

"'For example, some skinhead sells all his stuff to start a militia that attacks unsuspecting urbanites he doesn't like. Am I obligated to respect him because he followed his dream? There are lots of bad people who's goal in life was to become bad people. Do I have to admire them?'

I was unaware that Balent and his gigantic art breasts were killing people. The guy likes freaky cheesecake and could have a big time career drawing major characters that he has no interest in but instead he's doing his own little thing cause he enjoys it. Instead of making big money drawing covers for Civil War: M*A*S*H*, he's doing zombie threesomes because he likes zombie threesomes. Yeah, I have to admire that."

I see both your points, but I would almost respect Balent a little more if he did straight-up porn. There's something a little intellectually dishonest about dressing the enterprise up as some supernatural fantasy. Just dispose of the tease and innuendo and show, to quote Howard Chaykin, the "in-and-out-uendo" and be done with it.

captain blasty said...

"I was unaware that Balent and his gigantic art breasts were killing people. The guy likes freaky cheesecake and could have a big time career drawing major characters that he has no interest in but instead he's doing his own little thing cause he enjoys it. Instead of making big money drawing covers for Civil War: M*A*S*H*, he's doing zombie threesomes because he likes zombie threesomes. Yeah, I have to admire that."

I was using extreme examples to illustrate a point. Sooner or later you're going to have to make a value judgment and decide who you admire for following their dreams and who you don't. Say there was some guy who wrote pornographic Star Trek novels for children because that's what he wanted to do. Would you admire him?

I don't care if that's what he likes, it's stupid. While some of the people Dave listed are indeed admirable, there are others who are a disgrace to humanity. Jim Balnet is a disgrace. He even wrote a very disrespectful story about the ghosts of firemen who died on 9/11. Balnet's no hero, he's a fantasy smut-peddler.

Bully said...

Great piece, Dave. It's nice to read something about Jim Balent other than criticism of his artwork. I'm not a specific fan of his or his wife's books (nor do I have anything against them; I've never read any of 'em except some of Jim's work on Catwoman), but my booth at last year's San Diego Comic-Con was across from theirs and I was surprised and impressed with their enthusiasm, professionalism, and gosh-all friendliness towards me, a first-time two-bit exhibitor. I had more than one very pleasant and interesting conversations with both of them, and I was invited to look at their Star Wars wedding video (including bloopers!), which just seemed like they were both having such a heck of a fun time doing it that their glee and happiness were infectious. I cannot say too many nice things about how pleasantly and cheerfully both Jim and Holly treated their fans and fellow exhibitors.

As a contrast, one of my favorite comics writers (not givin' no names) passed by my booth and after I complimented him on his recent work, he was grumpy and insulted me and the books I was exhibiting. I don't hold it against him; maybe he was just havin' a bad day. But I won't go out of my way to personally meet him again.

The work of comics creators should be judged on theat work itself, not their personalities, of course. But also don't judge the creators as people based solely on their work either. There's an awful lot of cool folks out there I wouldn't mind havin' a dinner and conversation with that I'm not interested in reading their comics. More power to anyone who does what they want to and still remains a pleasant, professional, and accessible person.

philip said...

Actually, I think Tony Stark is the metrosexual Troy Hurtubise.

Anonymous said...

"Jim Balnet is a disgrace."

Wow, hyperbole much Capt Blasty? You must have a pretty broad definition of the word "disgrace." Why some guy's witch comic makes you want to personally insult him is beyond me.

David Campbell said...

Well of course Jim and Holly would be nice to you, Bully - you're a little stuffed bull with 18 Charisma.

Garth said...

The only thing that can be said about that video is CRAZY MOTHER HIT HIMSELF IN THE HEAD WITH A WRECKING BALL HOLY SHIT!!!

Chris Arndt said...

I think it's only sad that there are not more rich folks willing to support innovators and science engineers... honestly I don't give a rat's arse about all these AIDS donation cure crap.

We can't cure AIDS. It's a better use of my money to make 'em comfortable as they die. Similar to that I wish for a rich dude to fund this dude to invent bear armor.

Jim Balent... I'm disappointed. I don't get care about his dreams so much as I desire for more sources of entertainment. At least with free will he has gone his own path and no one but God and the taxman, and his other potential creditors, can judge him for it. I won't judge him for it. As long as he has abandoned work-for-hire though, he will have no part in my entertainment existence.

That said, my stupid comic book related dream involves putting out entertaining comic books that make one thing... like Cereberus, only entertaining.

That's right. I ripped on that Sims guy. Whatsisface. Prolific yet I don't care. What's he gonna do about it?

Honestly though, I think there's a bigger opening in the market for stuff like Mr. A and Ditko's original Question than people realize.

joncormier said...

Oh yeah, the show I saw Troy demonstrate his Fire Paste on...

Wait for it...

The Daily Planet!

Ed Cunard said...

I think it's only sad that there are not more rich folks willing to support innovators and science engineers... honestly I don't give a rat's arse about all these AIDS donation cure crap.

We can't cure AIDS. It's a better use of my money to make 'em comfortable as they die. Similar to that I wish for a rich dude to fund this dude to invent bear armor.


I miss my blog, so I'll take the Low Road. For nostalgia's sake, purely.

Seriously, I'm with you. I feel the same way about cancer. Seriously, cancer is natural and is never going away, so we should, like, totally not ever spend money on cancer research.

Particularly if you find yourself cancer-ridden, Chris.

Eric Logan said...

Battle Suits? Try Battle Cars:

http://harbingerpro.com/h_media.html?f=10

Anonymous said...

What's up with the AIDS rant? What a cock that guy is.

Anonymous said...

You'd think that someone who's such a fucking asshole would actually be concerned about AIDS.

Chris Arndt said...

I'm hoping the AIDS folk lead long, happy lives.

Just not spreading AIDS.

Yes and I am an arsehole. I'm happy, too.

Jon H said...

"Actually, I think Tony Stark is the metrosexual Troy Hurtubise."

Actually, being Canadian he must be the real-world Project X. All he needs to do is make suits with pop-out claws.

Kevin Church said...

Arndt:
As a resident of Michigan, you don't get to say "arsehole." You're given one (1) non-ironic use of a English slang ("bloody," in your case) per annum. Stop trying to sound smarter than you are because you've read some Garth Ennis comics.

Also, stop being an asshole. I mean, more than your usual amount. Your myopic worldview is disgusting and disturbing - there are over 6 billion other people besides you on this dirtball and maybe an iota of kindness on everyone's part, including yourself, would make things a lot more bearable.

Also, really, and I mean this with all sincerity: if you somehow got AIDS through, say, a blood transfusion or unprotected sex with a Malaysian ladyboy, I wouldn't shed a single tear. In fact, I'd probably ask how you liked those apples while you were wondering why nobody was doing anything for your disease-infested hide.

Kevin Church said...

ALSO:
I used "also" twice. One of those should be a "Furthermore" or maybe even a "To give you a clearer picture of how I feel..."

And that's it for me and this thread. I presume Arndt will flame back in his usual trite, neocon style. That's fine.

Anonymous said...

Dude. No.
I love you Dave and your Long Box.
And I agree Bear Suit Man is maybe the only hero worth mentioning Canada has ever produced But NO! NO! Sweet Mississippi Mud Pies NO!!!
Not to sound to much like a J. Jonah Jameson come to life, but as a resident of the fair midsized incorporation known as Tulsa, Oklahoma I know for a FACT that BikerFox is no latter day Thoreau creating his own personal Walden on two wheels, but he is, rather, a menace, a terror, an annoyance who shakes his butt and disgusting long ringlets way to often at others stuck at redlights and knocks me off of my friends myspace listings so that they can put him on their list. And he must be stopped!
We must preserve the decency of our intersections people!
And promoting a wack job like BikerFox on a forum with the prestige of Dave's Long Box is just the kind of thing to spark trigger copycat bicycle riding all over our country!
Thank You.

Chris said...

Jim Balent is also a seriously cool dude. And by cool, I mean, really nice.

I worked a NYC con in 95 and was assigned to a portfolio review booth. Essentially, big-name artist-types each took half-hour shifts at the booth reviewing the portfolios of aspiring comic book artists. The only guy I even remember at this point is Jim Balent. He was unfailingly polite and respectful of every single hopeful that slid their artwork across the table, no matter how god-awful the work. He always led with a compliment and his criticism was entirely constructive. Not only that, but when whoever was supposed to replace him at the booth failed to show up, Balent offered to do another half-hour unasked. And this was at the height of his popularity, too.

Just a classy, cool, really nice guy. Thought I'd share.

And yes, I'm currently making my way through your archives. I just found this blog and it's awesome.

sexy said...

情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,按摩棒,跳蛋,充氣娃娃,情境坊歡愉用品,情趣用品,情人節禮物,情惑用品性易購

免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情色交友,免費AV,色情網站,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人影片,成人網站,A片,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,情色網,日本A片,免費A片下載,性愛

A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX

情趣用品,A片,免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情色交友,色情網站,免費AV,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人網站,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,成人影片,情色網


情趣用品,A片,免費A片,日本A片,A片下載,線上A片,成人電影,嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,微風成人區,成人文章,成人影城,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,臺灣情色網,色情,情色電影,色情遊戲,嘟嘟情人色網,麗的色遊戲,情色論壇,色情網站,一葉情貼圖片區,做愛,性愛,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,美女交友,做愛影片

av,情趣用品,a片,成人電影,微風成人,嘟嘟成人網,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,成人文章,成人影城,愛情公寓,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,情色電影,aio,av女優,AV,免費A片,日本a片,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,聊天室,美女交友,成人光碟

情趣用品.A片,情色,情色貼圖,色情聊天室,情色視訊,情色文學,色情小說,情色小說,色情,寄情築園小遊戲,情色電影,色情遊戲,色情網站,聊天室,ut聊天室,豆豆聊天室,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊聊天室,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,免費A片,日本a片,a片下載,線上a片,av女優,av,成人電影,成人,成人貼圖,成人交友,成人圖片,18成人,成人小說,成人圖片區,成人文章,成人影城,成人網站,自拍,尋夢園聊天室

小名 said...

tn chaussuresEnter the necessary language translation, up to 200 bytes winter, moves frequently in China, nike chaussures showing that the deep strategy of the Chinese market. Harvard Business School, nike tnaccording to the relevant survey data show that in recent years the Chinese market three brands, Adidas, mens clothingpolo shirts Li Ning market share at 21 percent, respectively, 20%, 17%. The brand is first-line to three lines of urban competition for mutual penetration. Side of theworld,announced layoffs, while China's large-scale facilities fists. The sporting goods giant Nike's every move in the winter will be fully exposed its strategy. Years later, the Nike, Inc. announced the world's Fan

shen bing said...

Men's Lacoste Polo Shirts Men's RL Striped Polo Shirts Women's Lacoste Polo Shirts Men's polo shirts Men's polo shirts Men's polo shirts 4 polo shirts Women's polo shirts 21 polo shirts Men's polo shirts Women's LACOSTE 5 PCS of Ralph Women's lacoste polo shirts

shen bing said...

Fendi handbags Givenchy handbags Gucci handbags Hermes handbags Jimmy Choo handbags Juicy Couture handbags lsabella Fiore handbags Miu Miu handbags Mulberry handbags Prada handbags Tods handbags Versace handbags Yves Saint Laurent handbags

shen bing said...

handbags Louis Vuitton Vuitton handbags Balenciaga Balenciaga Bally handbagsBottega Veneta handbagsCartier handbagsChanel handbagsChloe handbagsChristian Dior handbagsCoach handbagsDolce Gabanna handbags

shen bing said...

hair straightenersugg bootscheap handbagscheap bagscheap pursetntattoo wholesalejackets worldjackets cartmen's clothingwomen's clothing

shen bing said...

cheap hair straightenerscheap flat ironnew polo shirtssexy lingerie storepolo shirtsnorth face jacketschi straightenerpink chichaussures puma chaussure puma

crazyloko said...

China Wholesalers has been described as the world’s factory. buy products wholesaleThis phenomenom is typified by the rise ofbusiness. Incredible range of products available with China Wholesale “Low Price and High Quality” not only reaches directly to their target clients worldwide but also ensures that wholesale from china from China means margins you cannot find elsewhere and China Wholesale will skyroket your profits.china wholesale productsbuy china wholesalewholesale chinawholesale productsbuy products

Chester said...

Goodness, there is so much useful information above!
CLASSIC BARBECUED SPARERIBS