Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Man of Tomorrow Tuesday : Grant Morrison

Initially I wanted to do another post about Stan Sakai´s brilliant USAGI YOJIMBO series ( because I used one of the covers in my last post and realized that I haven´t written nearly enough about it ) but while doing the research as always I was going through the celebrity birthdays of the day and I had just to do one in honor of Grant Morrison´s 57th birthday.

If his birthday had fallen on a Friday I would have done a FLASH FRIDAY post but it´s not and also I wanted to do something different. For those who want to sample some of his FLASH issues I have already posted issues 130 , 131 , 132 and 134 in my FLASH FRIDAY Paul Ryan appreciation posts with more on the way. We will eventually get to all of them although it may take a while for me to post those issues not drawn by Paul Ryan. 

So instead of posting a particular issue from a series I´m doing one of the ever popular cover posts. As always these are personal favorites and series I have read and by no accounts meant as the ultimate representation of his work. So don´t be offended of your favorite series or issue is not to be found but if you are so inclined you can tell me which one that is in the comments. After all one of the reasons for making these posts is to remind readers of the oeuvre of certain creators and point them in the direction of stuff they haven´t read and might want to try out - which of course includes myself. All of these books are highest recommended and you can easily find a plethora of posts singing their praises so I won´t even try it. Some of the series have even had a big influence in pop culture like I do not know if there would have been a MATRIX trilogy without Grant Morrison´s INVISIBLES and if what it would have looked like. Without further ado here´s a sampling of the best of the best of Grant Morrison. 

Now you might have noticed that there are no Marvel covers among my selection and before there are wild speculations on the internet I want to say that it´s not that I think Grant Morrison didn´t do great work there but after two Marvel - centric posts my readers might want a little break.

Speaking about taking a break, after our last long birthday - centric video block Today we are taking things light and easy starting with Batman & Robin. It´s one of the few NEW 52 series I actually enjoyed and there are still a few chapters I have to read. But before Grant Morrison took the dynamic duo under his wings there was an animated version which was much less gloom and doom which influenced a lot of creative people.

Which is our segueway to Animal Man, one of Grant Morrison´s first big hits which I discovered while on vacation in Spain. During that time I had already started to read a lot of american comics so it was not always easy to find spanish translations of comics I hadn´t already read which meant a lot of Vertigo stuff. So it was more the fact that I desperately needed something to read that made me pick up this book. Because I would not have picked it for the art. But after reading a few issues I was hooked so if you haven´t already picked this one up do yourself a favor. You can get the back issues from the dollar bin, find the trades or even the omnibus.

This video is actually a re - post but it´s already been long enough that it bears another spotlight on the blog. Also : Flex Mentallo is just the best !

I really have a knack for going from one extreme to the other and since Grant Morrison also worked on Vampirella here is one of the worst comic book adaptions ever with former Bond girl Talisa Soto and Roger Daltrey.

I always have a hard time deciding which music video I´m going to post so I chose one with 3 incredible performers from different casting shows.

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Superman loves everyone. He's like Jesus except he punches people.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Frank Miller´s Man Without Fear Friday !

Another week we have to post pone the FLASH FRIDAY WITH PAUL RYAN post to pay homage to one of the great creators whose mind - blowing work has had a big impact on comics not once, not two but three times.

So far I have not written a birthday post for Frank Miller because I had all my Frank Miller art scattered around various folders. But after last year´s anniversary I have made a special folder where I kept all the Frank Miller stuff with a special subfolder for his Daredevil pieces to be prepared.

Now so far I have written a few posts about Daredevil but I have not written much about Frank Miller´s Daredevil run. Because it is not my favorite Daredevil period. Sacrilege, I know. Of course his input in the series is what cemented his version as the definite coda, the blueprint all later versions followed - at least the good ones - and you possibly cannot find a better complete package where the mood, storytelling and art is concerned. And as every comic fan worth his salt I have read all of the issues. But that does not mean it is the version I really enjoy the most.

Just like with the UNCANNY X - MEN, where I won´t deny that the run by Chris Claremont and John Byrne is the gold standard. BUT if you ask me what my favorite run of that series is - something for what I was willing to shill out the 100 EUROS and more the Artist´s Editions cost over here in Germany - I would probably say it´s the run by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri with the period when John Romita Jr. drew the book as a close second. I don´t know if it has something to do with nostalgia as there are people who will try to brainwash you into thinking you always like the first version you experience of a comic the most. Which I always found a bit faulty because - like let´s say for the X - Men - the definition of the first version you experience is not that easy. Is it the really, for good very first time you ever read a comic from that series ? In my case that would have been the X - TEAM which was the back up feature of HULK by Williams.

Which didn´t grab me because that was the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stuff. So it must have been the first issue of the all new team with Storm and Colossus and Nightcrawler and Wolverine. That would have been a spanish issue by Vertice but then it makes no sense that I rate the John Romita Jr issues higher on my personal preference list. I mean I just keep buying those issues again and again. And I vividly recall the first spanish issue of John Romita´s run of UNCANNY X - MEN I ever bought which was not a X- MEN issue in Spain at all. Much rather it was issue 16 of LAS GUERRAS SECRETAS because they continued SECRET WARS with SECRET WARS II and just kept on with the numbering. But they did not only publish the main series, they also got the license for all the tie - in issues which is how a lot of comic series that were not published in Spain ( or at least were not that far ahead in their numbering ) found their way to spanish audiences like UNCANNY X - MEN 196. I think I have lost count how many times I have bought this issue. I got at least two spanish copies, one the normal issue with the left hand corner cut off for whatever reason and one as part of a GUERRAS SECRETAS trade ( which are just five issues glued together with a cheap cardbox cover ), as part of a german pocketbook, as part of a pocketbook from PANINI UK, as a X - MEN CLASSICS reprint ( for some reason the series was canceled a few issues before they could fill the gap in my X - Men collection ) and it´s also in my SECRET WARS II omnibus.

Which by the way is more evidence that the runs by John Romita Jr and Marc Silvestri are higher on my favorite list : I have a SECRET WARS II omnibus and an INFERNO PROLOGUE omnibus but so far none from John Byrne´s tenure on the book. It´s true, I have a MARVEL MASTERWORKS with The Dark Phoenix Saga but just because you already have something does not mean you won´t buy it again. A few months ago I bought the Epic Collection X - MEN : THE GIFT ( at a big discount at amazon´s bargain books section ) although I already have all the issues in pocketbook form.

So back to favorite runs and the whole reason for this tangent, just like my favorite run on UNCANNY X - MEN is by Marc Silvestri my favorite run of DAREDEVIL - for which I would go so far as to buy an Artist´s Edition - is the John Romita Jr run. And yes, both of these were published around the same time which is when I first started buying american comics at train station newsstands so that could be a factor although I´m not convinced it has that big of an impact. Longtime readers already should know how big a fan I am of John Romita Jr´s DAREDEVIL run with Ann Nocenti as I have written numerous posts on the subject ( and there will be more as soon as I can continue with my LIKE A BOOK OUT OF HELL series ) and even wrote a special post to pimp the Epic Collection DAREDEVIL : A TOUCH OF THYPHOID . Which for me is one of the best they have published so far and you still can get it from amazon Germany for 24 EUROS shipping included.

All that said since most of the Frank Miller material I have is from Daredevil I decided to make this the topic of Today´s post. I mainly want to feature Frank Miller the artist and not only Frank Miller the writer so I excluded all material from BORN AGAIN since that could be part of a future post. After selecting the pieces I liked best I realized most were from issue 181 which is only natural since it´s one of best from his run and in comics in general. Since it is a double sized issue - and I wanted to include some original art - I cannot put all the pages in this post but surely there will be others.       

Time to bring this post celebrating Frank Miller´s 60th birthday to a close.

As you can see the pictures I used are all different because as always I wanted to post only the best. So I have to give kudos to the websites where I found them like COKE, GAMES & ONE MORE THINGMY MARVEL LIFE 1980HERO GO HOMEFLASHBACKS OF OL´ MARVELAROUSING GRAMMARMONKEYS FIGHTING ROBOTS and lastly LOWBROWCOMICS - which focuses on the fight between Bullseye and Elektra. They also have a post with a fight between Daredevil and Elektra from DAREDEVIL 179 .

For more Daredevil related stuff Elektra is mentioned in The Six Reasons Why You Should Not Date Daredevil by Richard Morris on THE SOURCE , there is a post about storytelling on PULP FICTION that uses two pages from Daredevil 178 as examples and since I mentioned Artist´s Editions and Frank Miller and David Mazuchelli´s Born Again Dan Nadel on THE COMICS JOURNAL has some interesting thoughts on it. If you have a post you think I should add that is related to Daredevil or Frank Miller just send me an e - mail and once again thanks to all those tireless souls providing content for the internet especially those nifty GIFs of which you will see a few in the following part ( well, except for those few I made myself ).

And speaking of GIFs, our first is of Rosamund Pike who celebrates her 38 birthday but not from Die Another Day, Surrogates or Gone Girl which is where you might have seen her. It´s from the first Jack Reacher movie where her impressive cleavage stole the scene from Mister Tom Cruise.

Our next candidate is for my german readers since Fabian Harloff who turns 47 has appeared on shows like Notruf Hafenkante, Großstadtrevier or SK Babies. Generally all shows where saving civilians is involved which includes all the SOKO tie in shows which are a dozen. He also was the storyteller in the german version of the Teletubbies which was very odd because I first saw him as one of the main villains on Die Rote Meile.

The series was named after the red light district of St. Pauli in Hamburg and was a sequel to The King of St. Pauli. It follows the lives of strippers, prostitutes and their pimps but they are all portrayed like regular people not like in american tv series where people from this walk of life are always portrayed as bad people. I remember an episode of a series about beach cops on bikes ( that sounds as action packed as it was ) with people from the porn industry and they also made them killers because all people in adult entertainment are horrible people. Anyway, I watched every episode of Die Rote Meile because they had a very easy concept : one strip in every episode which was not interrupted by commercials. I don´t know if they could do that Today as they put commercials into everything.

Anyway, one of the best strippers of the regular cast is Sylvia Leifheit who has a secret identity in the series as she plays the typical devoted wife by day, secret stripper by night. Sylvia made me realize two things : firstly, while I usually don´t go for skinny chicks she is just oozing so much sex appeal that I would do her in a minute. And second, hair color can really make a difference because her character in the series is actually a blonde and despite having the same figure as a blonde she´s kind of a - meh - looking girl while as Luna with the black wig she´s a real firecracker !  

A few years back I got the complete first season of Die Rote Meile on DVD at amazon at a pretty decent price and I´m glad I seized the opportunity because it really goes for ridiculous prices now. I can really recommend this show and Sylvia Leifheit alone is worth the price of admission. 

People who have followed this blog for any length of time know about my asian fetish ( it´s not like I´m trying to hide this ) but I almost did not include japanese born Tamlyn Tomita who celebrates her 51st birthday because it´s almost impossible to find any material on her. And it´s not like she is an obscure celebrity, heck, she gave her debut in The Karate Kid Part II, guest starred in practical every tv show you can think of and besides being a regular cast member on Crossing Jordan, 24, J.A.G., Eureka, Heroes, Glee, Teen Wolf : Resurrection and How To Get Away With Murder she has been in such movies like Come See The Paradise, The Joy Luck Club, Four Rooms, The Day After Tomorrow, The Eye or Tekken. I wanted to add a video of her but those are almost as scarce as good pictures and the only interesting one I found is from a charity event where she is wearing a stunning black dress but the quality is very bad.

Like I have often said I only include playmates I am familiar with and as I was just graduating from school in 1984 a lot of them fall into that period. 1984 in particular was an exceptionally good year for playmates as not only Andy Sidaris stars Dona Speir ( March ) and Roberta Vasquez ( November ) appeared inside the famous men´s magazine but also Karen Velez who turns 55. With her 37E - 23 - 35 measurements it´s no wonder that she not only became Playmate Of The Month in December 1984 but also the very first puerto rican Playmate Of The Year in 1985. As a geek trivia she was married to Six Million Dollar Man / Fall Guy Lee Majors from 1988 to 1994.

Since I mentioned Tom Cruise earlier, his first wife Mimi Rogers celebrates her 61st birthday. Now is it just me or is Tom downgrading where female companions are concerned ? First we have Mimi Rogers, who supposedly has the biggest real breasts in Hollywood. Then he married Nicole Kidman who is also still hot although not in Mimi´s league. And then he dumps her for Katie Holmes. WTF ? Okay, admittedly she was very tasty in Disturbing Behaviour but shouldn´t a worldwide movie star like Tom Cruise be with top sex icons ? I mean he should be married to Halle Berry, Salma Hayek or Scarlett Johansson. What are the chances of a regular guy like me even giving it to Janet Jackson, Tiffani Amber Thiessen or Yaya Han if even a man´s man like Tom can´t bring it ? My only consolation is that Mariah Carey is single again. No, for me it´s not just a river in Egypt, I live there.  

Now I want to welcome back my readers who skip all the stuff about hot women. From here on it´s all comics and art related stuff starting with Peter Laird who turns 63. He´s the co - creator and writer of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book together with Kevin Eastman which was one of the comics that started the 80s independent boom together with such books like Cerebus, Elfquest and Usagi Yojimbo.

When Marvel did their all new NOW bs and DC flushed their continuity down the toilet with their NEW 52 brainfart I really was hoping people would stop supporting books they no longer enjoyed and start reading more independent comics. Because there are really great books out there. But even now as the big two charge 5 dollars per comic while most indie titles offer far better content for one dollar less things have not changed. 

Because of the mega success of the Turtles most people Today know them from one of their derivative forms such as cartoons, comics based on the cartoons, video games or movies so my video is about the latest movie adaption. And since I´m avoiding it like Today´s geek chique bandwagon hoppers avoid reading comics but thankfully somebody else did a review.

We are coming to another comic veteran as Steve Leialoha celebrates his 65th birthday. For 80s funnybook fanatics he was always on the periphery as he inked all the great ones like Carmine Infantino on Spiderwoman, Jim Starlin on Warlock and Howard Chaykin and Cynthia Martin on Star Wars.

Sooner or later he appeared on every book from Conan The Barbarian to Howard The Duck where he inked the great Gene Colan and everything in - between. I was mostly aware of him from his work on the mutant titles as he contributed to a lot of them from Uncanny X - Men to New Mutants.

For a while you did not hear much about him but thanks to his great work on Fables an whole new generation has discovered him. Speaking of the greatest space opera of all time check out Tegan O´Neil´s ( no relation to the Turtles´ April O´Neal ) post about Marvel´s first foray into Star Wars on A.V. CLUB and here is a splash from one of Steve´s Daredevil issues.

One of my all time favorite Steve Leialoha works is the four part story from Marvel Team Up 82 to 85 in which Spidey joins forces with Black Widow, Nick Fury and Shang - Chi written by Chris Claremont and penciled by Sal Buscema. As far as I know it has never been reprinted and when I heard that Marvel planned to reprint the premiere hardcover with George Perez´ Marvel Fanfare issues I was fervently hoping they would include them.

We start our Dearly Departed part with Dan DeCarlo who started drawing pin up cartoons for humor magazines and it was his knack for drawing the female anatomy which brought him the gig at Archie in the late 1950s and early 1960s where he modernized the characters look to their now iconic appearance and established the publisher´s house style. If you have ever seen a picture of Betty or Veronica chances are high Dan DeCarlo drew it. 

Besides Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Cheryl Blossom his best known co - creation is Josie and the Pussycats which spun off into a cartoon series.

The cartoon was later re - conceptualized as Josie and the Pussycats In Outer Space for a second season. Speaking about characters created by Dan DeCarlo, when he was working for Atlas Comics he created comics most famous mailman Willie Lumpkin who starred in a newspaper strip and was used by Stan Lee as one of the best known supporting characters.

There also was a Josie and the Pussycats movie in 2001 which I think I mentioned in one of my posts but I couldn´t find it so here´s the trailer.

Today is also the anniversary of Lewis Carroll who if he lived Today would be locked up as a pervert instead of writing one of the most famous works of literature that has inspired humanity for centuries. Because it has been around that long there are a lot of different adaptions that have been made through the decades and original I wanted to post an episode of the cartoon series that aired here in Germany but then this caught my eye.

With my last video I want to pay homage to two musical geniuses, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was born on this day, and Johann Hans Hölzel a.k.a. Falco. In the comments people say that he was Germany´s first rapper but he was austrian and I don´t know if Frank Zander´s Hier kommt Kurt was not released earlier. In any case, Sprechgesang how it is called here has a longer tradition than people give germans credit for.

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Wax on, wax off.