Monday, December 24, 2007
Net Disaster has a new Led Zeppelin option that allows you to crash giant rock and roll dirigibles into your favorite or most hated website.
Sometimes I love the Internet.
Thanks to Ragnell for pointing this out.
(I'm only a week behind with my posting! I will catch up with Real Time - this I swear!)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
You ever have a friend who is just... different when he/she drinks? I'm not saying that Jim Kirk has a problem, it's just that I get uncomfortable around him when he drinks. So do my dogs.
"... [it is] a Shatner Acting Technique™ I've dubbed The Bill Shatner BeerFace™, whereby Shatner acts as he has either never tasted alcohol before or that it is of some unbelievable proof and potency as to cause him to wince, then grimace, then look at the glass to make sure it's the same beverage he was sure he poured into the glass. Works with beer, wine, liquor, Romulan Ale, Saurian Brandy and even plain old water. He basically does it when drinking any beverage..."
Friday, December 21, 2007
Cover for a Picard/Q slashfic, "We'll Always Have Paris... In the Butt."
"Spock... multiple Kirks... explain."
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Look at that cover.
Howard Chaykin, am I right? I loves me that cover.
I am a total sucker for those compendium encyclopedia thingies that DC and Marvel publish like The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and (to a lesser extent) Who's Who in the DC Universe, so when DC put out a guide to their Star Trek comics, I was on that shit like yellow on corn, baby.
Who's Who in Star Trek follows the same template laid down by DC's regular Who's Who books; it has biographical/historical info on noteworthy Trek characters and creatures paired with graphics of wildly varying quality. On one page you'd get a killer illustration of Khan or The Horta by John Byrne and on the next page you'd get an entry for James Kirk that looks like it was drawn by a fifth-grader with his left hand. A blind fifth grader. With a withered, deformed hand. Such was the nature of all DC's Who's Who books - it was just one big smorgasbord of crap and quality art all smooshed together between two covers.
This particular Who's Who includes both people and aliens from the original series and first couple movies as well as lame-ass Star Trek comic book characters like Konom the Klingon pacifist and Bearclaw, the pastry chef on the Enterprise. When I first flipped through this book it challenged my smug sense of Trekkieness - who were these people? My God, were there actually episodes of Star Trek that I hadn't seen? Then I realized that they were just non-canon comic book characters and totally didn't count and I laughed and laughed and laughed. Phew.
The laughs kept coming as I flipped through some of the entries, which were graced with crude, rushed-looking art. Here's the Chekov entry, take a look:
OK, anchoring the piece we have an unsteady, full-color Pavel Chekov who is looking dangerously thin and perhaps a little drunk. Not everybody can pull off those pirate pants, can they? The collage-thing illustrates Chekov during three formative periods in his life:
1) Finally mastering "Axel's Theme" from Beverly Hills Cop on his Casio,
2) Experiencing a crippling "charley horse", and
3) Getting rounded up by security after a drunken night out on the town.
John Byrne, get on the mike and show us how it's done. Here's Byrne's Khan:
That's how you do it. That's a guy who understands composition, design, and perhaps most importantly, the purpose behind the illustrations for these entries in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, I loves me the Who's Who for what it is - I just wish the art was consistent and halfway decent throughout the book. What's the point of getting John Byrne to do art if you've got Ted the Intern on the next page? At the bare minimum, recruit people who know how to put together an image - and that includes backgrounds. Some of the artists skimp a little on backgrounds (see Chekov, above) while others include background art that looks a lot like bathroom tiling or gingham.
Bonus points for Who's Who in Star Trek #1: they include an entry for Deltans, who sort of look like Cirque de Soleil performers with Alopecia. I just love the idea of Deltans and their Planet of Orgies. HOTTT.
Enough petty bitching, here's your Klingon Komedy for the day:
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
First, I must clarify: when I use the term "week" I don't mean an actual Earth week, I am using a lesser-known definition of "week." It's such a lesser-known definition that only I use it, actually. My "week" lasts from 8 to 12.5 days. I use the term "week" because Star Trek Nigh Fortnight just doesn't sound right to me.
OK, let's talk about Gold Key comics. I only read Gold Key comics on those long summer road trips from California to Saskatchewan, when my dad would buy my sister and me comic books from gas stations in order to keep us quiet. Usually I was rockin' the Batman or the Legion of Super Heroes in the back of the station wagon, but on occasion we'd be stuck in some wasteland far from civilization where the spinner racks were loaded with nothing but Gold Key comic books. As I mentioned previously, I would grudgingly accept the Gold Key comics because I feared the Mark V Backhand* - but I didn't like them.
Gold Key's Star Trek comics seemed like they were produced by bored hacks who had very little interest in the actual source material. They were sort of generic science fiction stories that just happened to be called Star Trek. Sometimes you wondered if the guys writing and drawing these things had actually seen the show, or if they were just working off a couple of dog-eared publicity photos for reference. Even Young Dave could tell these comics bore only a passing resemblance to the Star Trek TV show.
The Gold Key books often featured stories, aliens, and technology that was wildly inappropriate for Star Trek. Here's a taste; check out the giant space genie grabbing the Enterprise:
The artist mistakenly thinks the ship's nacelles are big rockets or something. Don't they know the Enterprise's nacelles house the warp coils??? Stupid Gold Key, ha ha!
OK, here's Baggy Pants Pistol Packin' Karate Spock busting a move:
Is that bearded guy slapping Spock's ass while he dances like a Russian? What the hell?And the covers! I swear, often the only thing recognizably Star Trekky about the covers was the little photo inserts of Kirk and Spock. It's as if the folks at Gold Key knew that they were producing generic sci-fi and they desperately had to insert some visual branding to distinguish the comics.
Looking back at those painted Gold Key covers, I have to admit - they are pretty awesome. Gold Key's covers were like the last gasp of the old pulp sci-fi magazines. At the time I hated the painted look, vastly preferring the vibrant, lurid covers of Marvel and DC comics, but now I can appreciate them for their hacktacular radness. They weren't Star Trek, but they were something special.
You know, the more I think about it the more I realize that I don't actually hate the Gold Key Star Trek books. They were old-fashioned throwbacks to a less sophisticated age of print science fiction, when pulp tales of alien worlds and swashbuckling spacemen were churned out en masse by tired old men in horn-rimmed glasses. I just loathed them as a child, but Adult Dave can appreciate them for the harmless schlock that they are.
Plus - green haired Kirk. You have to love green haired Kirk.
OK, I've pretty much done a complete 180 and now no longer hate Gold Key Star Trek comics. I'm glad I could work out my feelings from them here with you today. I think I've learned a lot.
My thanks to Kevin Church for the Gold Key panel scans. I paid a heavy price for those images, but I suppose it was worth it.
And now, Spock freaking out on acid:
Thursday, December 13, 2007
That's called "getting Spocked."
Next there is a little post from the F&*% Yeah Files where I sing the praises of the famous "Khaaaan!" scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, one of the greatest moments in Film History.
According to a rumour I just made up, William Shatner is a hardcore method actor who really lives his roles. He prepared himself mentally for the emotional scene by meditating every night for a week on how much he hated beloved TV actor Tony Danza. When Shatner roars "Khaaan!" he's really summoning the focused totality of his Danza Hatred. Little trivia for you, there. It just makes the scene all the more powerful if you know that.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Star Trek Week continues! Here's a cute Lil' Star Trek mural thingy I did on a piece of comic book art paper. I occasionally do stuff like this or this or draw illustrated maps for my kids. Why? Because I am a geek. Some day I'll post more of this stuff. Anyway, I present for your pleasure or lack thereof... The Orbs of Milos VI!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Most of the Star Trek comics I own are from DC, although I think I still have some of those weird-ass Gold Key issues in a long box around here somewhere. I’ll be honest, Gold Key comics were never my first choice – on vacations my dad would stop for gas and we’d beg him for comics and sometimes he’d come back with Gold Key’s Star Trek or Dark Shadows or some shit. “It was all they had," my dad would say. "Be happy you got anything at all.” And then he would hit me. (Kidding! Hi Dad!)
But I digress. Star Trek #35 was the middle of a multi-part storyline written by Len Wein called “The Doomsday Bug." I think I had the Doomsday Bug the other week. This particular Doomsday Bug is a deadly zombie virus, however, and unlike my bug, this one doesn't involve diarrhea. The story revolves around an intergalactic incident caused by the pesky disease. Spock’s life hangs in the balance! Kirk defies orders yet again and gets into a pissing match with a Romulan commander! A plague ship full of Zombulans speeds deep into Romulan territory! Holy shit, dude!
The story is set some time between Star Trek II and III I think, and draws off the designs from those films. The Romulans were nowhere to be seen in the films, so DC got to sort of wing it and make up a new look for these classic bad guys. And by “new” I mean “goofy as hell.” The results were… well, check it out:
I chose this issue because I like the art by veteran penciller Gray Morrow – the characters look like the actors without seeming too heavily photo-referenced, a common pitfall of any Star Trek comic. Seriously, some Star Trek comics draw so heavily on photographs that they might as well just be fumetti. Not here - Morrow manages the tricky balancing act of drawing comic book characters based on real people while still adhering to comic book aesthetics. The coloring is a little washed out, but that might just be the aging twenty year old paper.
Morrow doesn't do so well with the starships, however. Check out the cover - the Romulan ships look OK I guess, but that's supposed to be the USS Excelsior in the center there. It doesn't look any better inside the book - I've included a picture of the movie version of the Excelsior and Star Trek #35's Pregnant Excelsior as a comparison/contrast exercise:
Apparently in space it's really important to have your ship's registry number in HUGE LETTERS on the saucer section for quick and easy identification by binoculars or something.
Aesthetic nitpicking aside, I enjoyed this storyline. It's the kind of Star Trek story I would write: lots of space battles, daring gambits, brinksmanship, and awkward dialogue. Writer Len Wein obviously has some love for Star Trek and its characters, although a couple things stand out.
First, this panel (below). What's wrong with this panel?
This is a pet peeve of mine. "To coin a phrase" means to create an entirely new saying, such as, "That's the cat's banjo!" There. I just coined a phrase. It does NOT mean to use an existing, established phrase. Come on, Kirk, get it right.
My other petty complaint concerns these two panels:
That just seems sort of patronizing to me. Oooh, Kirk is so enlightened that he's willing to turn over temporary command of the ship to - gasp! - a woman while Mr. Scott is in the bathroom. Don't strain anything patting yourself on the back, Starfleet. I understand that this is just Wein's way of saying that Uhura is a capable officer who is much more than just the Enterprise's switchboard operator, but I think the same message could have been conveyed by having Uhura just matter-of-factly taking command without making such a big deal out of it. It's the 24th century, you'd think they'd be well beyond silly 20th century gender politics.
Fun as it is to pick at goofy stuff in comic books, I really enjoyed the Doomsday Bug storyline when I was a youngster and enjoyed re-reading it today. You could do a lot worse in a Star Trek comic, and believe me, people have.
In closing, Star Trek #35 is the cat's banjo.
And now for Klingon Komedy.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I've been feeling kinda Star Treky lately.
I am a big fan of Star Trek in all its many forms. I should qualify that: when I say "big fan of Star Trek" I am speaking in realtive terms, i.e., a big fan compared to normal people. I don't consider myself a Trekkie or a Trekker, I don't speak Klingon, I don't belong to an imaginary starship crew, I have never referred to Gene Rodenberry as "The Great Bird of the Galaxy," I don't dress up in costumes or tell the cashier at the supermarket to live long and prosper, and I don't own a fake bat'leth. I'm not even sure if that's how you spell bat'leth. You know what I'm talking about: that curvy scythe/sword thing Klingons use.
Anyway, although I have not devoted all or part of my life to Star Trek, I still consider myself a big Star Trek fan. The Wrath of Khan is one of my favorite movies of all time - I don't just think it's the best Star Trek movie, I think it's the Best Movie. I've read more than my share of Star Trek books, including those James Blish ones from back in the day.
And yes, I have a bunch of Star Trek comic books which I would like to talk about with you.
So come - join me this week as I look at the worlds of Star Trek through the lens of comic books! I know: through the lens of comic books? That makes no sense.
Added bonus: LOL Klingon screencaps! Everyone loves Klingons - only some p'tahks love them more than others...
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Hear me out.
I will grant that Superman is stronger, faster, and more impervious to damage than Thor, to say nothing of his heat vision and minty fresh breath. But Thor has centuries of battle experience, a proverbial bag of weather and dimensional tricks, and a big fucking stone hammer. Plus, let’s face it – Thor is cooler.
I have nothing against Superman. I’m an American – I love Superman! If you don’t like Superman you are probably an al Qaeda operative or something. But come on: Thor. Thor, man! Thor is just cool as hell.
I’ve extolled the virtues of Marvel’s God o’ Thunder in my post “Thor: Smack Talker” which I recommend to anyone unfamiliar with the character or not prepared to acknowledge Thor’s supremacy. Go read it, I’ll wait.
Back? Good. Now tell me that Thor isn’t The Shit.
I can accept that the rather juvenile “THOR RULEZ SUPERMAN SUXXIT” argument isn’t really valid. That’s like saying a Star Destroyer could defeat the Next Generation Enterprise because it looks cooler. While that may be true, one has to be able to back up one’s statement with some sort of credible nerdy argument. For instance, a Star Destroyer would totally crush the Enterprise-D because it has all those TIE fighters and a million six laser cannon – it would just swarm over the Enterprise which can fire like, one phaser shot every five minutes or so and would be too preoccupied with trying to hail the Star Destroyer and make friends to put up much of a fight.
OK, let’s break down the argument for and against Thor kicking Superman’s ass:
Superman is stronger – No argument here, but he can’t be that much stronger. Pre-Crisis Superman could shift planetary orbits and all kinds of crazy shit, but once John Byrne relaunched him in Man of Steel, he’s considerably less powerful. Still, Superman beats Thor in arm wrestling. ADVANTAGE: SUPERMAN
Superman is faster – Since DC periodically makes Superman race The Flash and he can do tricks like catch bullets, I’ll give Superman the advantage here. However, DC writers routinely overlook his super speed so I don’t see why I shouldn’t as well. DRAW
Superman has heat vision, icy breath – Superman routinely forgets that he has these powers and would fail to use them effectively in a fight against Thor. Superman should write all his powers down on his forearm with permanent ink so he doesn’t forget. ADVANTAGE: THOR
Superman can fly – So can Thor! Ah, but Superman can fly on his own, whereas Thor flies by hurling his enchanted hammer Mjolnir through the air and holding on for dear life. Superman has to be faster and more maneuverable in mid-air than Thor. ADVANTAGE: SUPERMAN
Thor has more combat experience – First of all, he’s a Norse god. Vikings think he’s bad ass – that’s gotta count for something. Second, Thor has been alive for centuries, if not millennia. I’m sure he’s got Hammer Kata down to an art by now. Superman is in his mid-thirties and was raised in a quiet Kansas town. ADVANTAGE: THOR
Thor can control weather and shit – While I’m guessing that it would take more than a little gust of wind to blow Superman over, I’ll bet a bolt of Asgardian lightning would stagger him a little. Still, that wouldn’t make much of a difference in a fight. DRAW
Thor has a weapon – In a bar fight, who would you choose: Huge Dude or Slightly Less Huge Dude with a Hammer? I rest my case. Superman’s showing up empty handed to a mallet fight. ADVANTAGE: THOR
Thor is magic – Here’s the big kicker. Thor, but more specifically Thor’s hammer, is magical. Superman is vulnerable to three things: kryptonite, magic, and the cheese steak sandwiches they serve in the lobby deli of the Daily Planet. He can’t resist those things. Anyway, not only does Thor have a big frickin’ hammer, but it’s 100% Uru Magic, and it can shoot energy blasts. Forget about it. ADVANTAGE: THOR
As you can see, Thor edges out Superman in a combat situation. There are some mitigating factors – Has Thor been drinking? Would innocents be in danger from the fight? Has Superman had more than one cheese steak sandwich? But more often than not, the God of Thunder doth reign supreme over the Man of Tomorrow.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Wait, actually there are TWO things we agree on: Jim Kelly's 1974 blaxploitation martial arts film Black Belt Jones is a near perfect film.
That's why we're calling a truce to celebrate the full-on radness that is BBJ. After you're done here, click on over to Chris's Invincible Super-Blog for Chris's review of this beautiful film that can build bridges between even the most intractable foes. Yes, such is the power of Black Belt Jones.
Like many a young lad, I thought Jim Kelly and John Saxon kicked serious ass in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon. (Don't even get me started on John Saxon - that guy is 100% Man.) Sadly, Kelly gets his ass killed by the bad guy Han in a scene designed to illustrate how evil and formidable the aging villain is. Weak.
Young Dave always thought Jim Kelly kind of got screwed in that movie, so I was psyched when I discovered Black Belt Jones, a starring vehicle for Kelly that combined the best of both worlds: martial arts and blaxploitation. You can't go wrong with a combination like that. It's like combining a teen coming-of-age story with a cannibal movie - two great genres that were meant for each other. It was even directed by Robert Clouse, the same guy who directed Enter the Dragon! It HAD to be awesome.
Oh, and it is. Black Belt Jones pits our man BB against The Mob when they try to shut down Papa Byrd's inner city karate school. I know: isn't that the plot of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo? Pretty much, yes, but instead of putting on a show, BB saves the school by beating the living shit out of Whitey. Eat it, Whitey!
The movie coasts on Jim Kelly's easy charisma, huge 'fro, and his trademark ass-kicking style which features lots of back hand strikes punctuated by BB's deep "HOYYYYYY!!!!" battle cry.
Don't take my word for it, check out the brilliant opening credit sequence:
That's 100% American ass-kicking right there. If you mess with BB, he will beat the hell out of your crew and SHOOT YOU IN THE ASS.
Is it any wonder why Dave and Chris have called a temporary truce to the feud-that-will-only-end-when-one-of-us-is-dead-dead-dead to sing the praises of Black Belt Jones? Here's a transcript of a conversation between Mr. Sims and myself in The Neutral Zone:
Dave: So, Chris. We share some common interests and an intense rivalry, but will you admit in public that I turned you on to the wonder that is Black Belt Jones?
Chris: Are you asking me to admit in public that you turn me on, Dave?
Dave: Let me rephrase that so that it doesn't illicit the expected innuendo: I, Dave told you, Chris, to watch Black Belt Jones. Which makes me The Master.
Chris: Come on, Campbell! Everybody knows that Bruce Leroy is the Master! Besides, the truth is actually far more embarrassing.
Dave: Well, I'd argue that Lee Van Cleef is the One True Master, but that's neither here nor there. What "truth" are you referring to, young one?
Chris: The sad fact of the matter is, I first got a desire to watch Black Belt Jones from MAD TV.
Dave: Mad TV? Jesus, Sims. You are more dead to me than ever before.
Chris: I know, I know. But back when I was a teenager--which was when you were, what, in your early sixties?--they had a sketch where Dolemite and Black Belt Jones teamed up to make a new movie, and it ended with "You're pretty good fighter... for a badass mothertrucker." It was probably one of the three good sketches in the show's run, and since I was already a fan of Shaft from the life-changing experience of seeing it at fifteen, I immediately needed to see it. But yes, to be fair: You are the one who convinced me to finally get a copy.
Dave: So victory IS mine, in a manner of speaking. What was your favorite part of Black Belt Jones? I know it's hard to pick just one scene.
Chris: Could it be anything but "BATMAN, MOTHERFUCKER!"
Dave: Yeah, that's fucking awesome.
Chris: Although the army of swimsuit models on trampolines was pretty righteous, too.
Dave: You are correct. You may live another day, Sims.