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REVIEW: Max Fleischer’s Superman

REVIEW: Max Fleischer’s Superman

One of the joys of growing up in the 1960s is that you were treated to cartoons from earlier eras, long before limited animation filled the Saturday morning airwaves. Among those gems were the work of Max and Dave Fleischer, including Popeye, Gulliver’s Travels and, of course, Superman. Since then, they have fallen into public domain and were widely available, but never in the best condition.

Until Warner Bros. Home Entertainment got involved. First came a DVD set in 02006 and now we have a Blu-ray collection, mastered from the original film negatives. All seventeen episodes from September 26, 1941 through July 30, 1943 are here.

For those unfamiliar, the fairly formulaic stories involve a problem, Lois Lane (Joan Alexander) getting into trouble, Clark Kent (Bud Collyer) changing in the phone booth (the trope introduced in the second short), and Superman to the rescue. This si the early Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster Superman, so he’s not invulnerable to everything, he can’t exactly fly, and actually can wear down. We root for him to get back up, to not give in, and to fight the good fight.

None of the cartoons are based on any of the comic book stories and no supporting player or villain makes the leap. Even Perry White (Julian Noa), the Daily Planet editor, is named, just seen.

With an unprecedented $50,000 per ten-minute cartoon budget, the Fleischers rotoscoped portions of the stories and provided lush, multi-plane animation. The first nine the brothers produced remain among the most beloved animated cartoons produced in America. They were certainly influential on subsequent generations, notably Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, who used that look and feel for their Batman The Animated Series (but you knew that by now, right?).

Mad scientists, mechanical monsters, defrosted dinosaurs and the like are all here. As is World War II patriotic themes and caricatured villains. Each has their own thrills and with just ten minutes totally avoids characterization or much real interaction between rescuer and victim.
The effort to retore the cartoons has been hotly debated with Digital Bits slamming the effort with a scathing review. I suppose if you’re a videophile, their concerns have merit. But for someone who just wants a nice, clean DVD containing Superman history, you will barely notice.
Are they perfect? No. Errors from the DVD set, such as the incorrect intros, remain uncorrected. Clearly, a little more care could have been expended for the 1080p upgrade.

There’s nothing major to complain about regarding the DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track.

The disc comes with the twin bonus features from the 2009 DVD— First Flight: The Fleischer Superman Series (12:55) and The Man, The Myth, Superman (13:37) — plus one new piece: Max Fleischer’s Superman: Speeding Towards Tomorrow (13:20). Here, Warner Animation’s director Matt Peters, producer Jim Krieg, supervising producer Rick Morales, and screenwriter Jeremy Adams hold forth on the legacy of the cartoons.

This is likely as good as it will get so if you don’t have this in any form, or want a reasonably priced upgrade, then this comes well recommended.

Justice League: Warworld Focuses on the DC Trinity

Justice League: Warworld Focuses on the DC Trinity

BURBANK, CA (June 7, 2023) – DC’s Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman find themselves in mysterious lands and precarious circumstances with no memory of how they arrived there and only vague recollections of their true selves in Justice League: Warworld, available to purchase Digitally and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on July 25, 2023. The all-new, feature-length film brings together DC’s “Trinity” for the first time during the Butch Lukic-helmed DC Universe Movies arc. 

Reprising their roles as DC’s key trio of Super Heroes are Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, The Boys, The Winchesters) as Batman and Officer Wayne, Darren Criss (The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Glee) as Superman and Agent Kent, and Stana Katic (Castle, Absentia) as Wonder Woman and Diana Prince.

Also featured in the voice cast are Ike Amadi (Mortal Kombat: Onslaught) as Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz, Troy Baker (The Last of Us, BioShock Infinite) as Jonah Hex, Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol, American Horror Story) as Old Man, Roger R. Cross (Coroner, Dark Matter, 24) as Machiste, Brett Dalton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Chicago Fire) as Bat Lash, John DiMaggio (Futurama, The Super Mario Bros. Movie) as Lobo, Robin Atkin Downes (Batman: The Long Halloween, The Strain) as Mongul, Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Billions) as Agent Faraday, Rachel Kimsey (Justice League Action, The Young and the Restless) as Mariah Romanova, Damian O’Hare (Pirates of the Caribbean 1 & 2) as Deimos, and Teddy Sears (The Flash, Chicago Fire) as Warlord. Additional voices include Trevor Devall (F is for Family, Guardians of the Galaxy), David Lodge (Naruto: Shippuden) and Kari Wahlgren (Rick and Morty, DC Super Hero Girls).

Jeff Wamester (Legion of Super-Heroes) directs Justice League: Warworld from a script by a trio of screenwriters – Jeremy Adams (Supernatural), Ernie Altbacker (Justice League Dark: Apocalypse War) and Josie Campbell (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power). Producers are Jim Krieg (The Death and Return of Superman) and Kimberly S. Moreau (Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham). Executive Producer is Michael Uslan. Butch Lukic (Batman: The Long Halloween) and Sam Register is Executive Producer.

Justice League: Warworld will be available on July 25 to purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more. 4K Ultra HD and Blu-Ray Discs will be available to purchase online and in-store at major retailers. Pre-order your copy now.


Until now, DC’s Justice League has been a loose association of super-powered individuals. But when they are swept away to Warworld, a place of unending brutal gladiatorial combat, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the others must somehow unite to form an unbeatable resistance able to lead an entire planet to freedom.


Illusions on Warworld (New Featurette) – Go behind the scenes and inside the process of designing and creating three distinct genres for the Justice League to inhabit on Warworld.

The Heroic, the Horrible and the Hideous (New Featurette)Dive deep into the origins and histories of the key players on Warworld and learn how the filmmakers brought them to life.

Pricing and film information:

PRODUCT                                                                             SRP

Digital purchase                                                                      $19.99

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack + Digital Version*             $29.99 USA

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack                                         $34.99 Canada

Blu-ray + Digital Version*                                                      $24.99 USA    

Blu-ray                                                                                   $29.99 Canada

4K/Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French

Blu-ray Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

Running Time: 90 minutes

Rated R for bloody violence

*Digital version not available in Canada

Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me by Vaughn Bode

Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me by Vaughn Bode

When you get The Complete Something, you expect some kind of explanation of what Something is, maybe a potted history, maybe an appreciation by an illustrious colleague or someone famous from a younger generation. Sure, the audience mostly knows the details of Something, but there’s always a host of commonly misremembered and mythologized factoids – plus makers of books do want to draw in new readers every once in a while.

Cheech Wizard’s Book of Me  is, I think, The Complete This. And there is a foreword by cartoonist Vaughn Bode’s son Mark Bode – himself a reasonably notable cartoonist – as by “Da’ Lizard” – which does, in its single page, give a few details. And there’s some scattered text here and there with some other context.

But Book of Me starts out with about thirty pages of sketchbooks and similar non-story material, which admittedly does include a lot of character explanations and even a map of Cheech’s world, but lacks a certain focus. (It also seems to memorialize a whole lot of material that, from the evidence here, were never actually created as stories.) Then there’s some multi-page stories, I think mostly from ’60s undergrounds, before we transition to the mostly single-pagers from the National Lampoon run in the early ’70s, the bulk of the continuity and the pages here.

Last is a clutch of stuff that I think is all by Mark Bode, long after Vaughn’s death in 1975, since all the copyright indications I can find start with “20.” These are obviously different in tone and style and manner, though also clearly in the Vaughn tradition.

All in all, it comes across as a whole lot of stuff, with only a minor through-line. The NatLamp material has a continuity, with characters being added, events building from one story to the next, and so forth. But that’s maybe fifty pages in the middle, roughly a third of the total. The rest is all less focused and more scattered, with festival posters, full-page illos and what might be a couple of graffiti installations in addition to the sketchbook stuff up front.

All that said: you might be asking what is the This here.

Vaughn Bode created the character of Cheech Wizard in his mid-teens, around 1957, and the character bears the usual hallmarks of an author-insert: he gets the last word all the time, he always wins, he gets all the hot babes with essentially no effort, and he’s the center of everything. He also talks a lot. Well, undergrounds are relentlessly talky to begin with, but this one is mostly Cheech, using Vaughn’s oddly clipped and somewhat distracting abbreviations all the time.

Cheech is a hat. We can see what seem to be legs in tights coming out of the bottom of the comically oversized be-starred wizard’s hat, but he’s basically a hat and a voice – no arms, no face. He claims to be the greatest wizard ever, but never does any magic. He never does much of anything – this is an underground comic, again – other than lazing around, drinking, tormenting his anthropomorphic lizard assistant, and fucking. As noted before, the women here are all gorgeous semi-nude fleshy creatures – other than a foul-mouthed four-year-old girl whose dialogue and character have not aged well – who exist pretty much just to be available for Cheech to fuck.

I should note yet one more time that this is an essentially underground comic. In my cynical opinion, undergrounds were about a cluster of a few things: drinking and drugs, free love, sophomoric philosophical musings, and agitation against anything considered “the Establishment” – sometimes vague, sometimes specific. Vaughn Bode ticks off a lot of drinking, only a bit of drugs, lots and lots of free love, fairly bland philosophy towards the end, and only some scattered anti-Establishmentism.

It is about as sexist as you would expect, from a comic that appeared in the early NatLamp. Not horribly so – the characters pretty much would all claim to love women, especially the friendly ones – but the idea that women are people is somewhat alien to all of them. It’s also occasionally racist as well, with two notable “Asian” characters. The first is a one-note, one-appearance Vietnamese ninja assassin stereotype; the second is his brother, equally stereotyped but at least on the positive side, with traditional insight into The Wisdom of the East.

This is a heaping helping of You Had to Be There, aimed mostly at Boomer nostalgia, with some spillover into my generation. (I collected NatLamp not too long after this era, but never really gelled with Cheech Wizard when I saw those strips.) It is The Complete This, though, so if you’re at all interested in “the hat,” this is where to go.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The Flash 9th Season and Complete Series Box Sets Coming in August

The Flash 9th Season and Complete Series Box Sets Coming in August

BURBANK, CA (June 1, 2023) – The fast-paced DC Super Hero drama ends its nine-season run as The Flash: The Ninth and Final Season arrives on Blu-rayTM Disc and DVD on August 29, 2023. The action continues through all 13 episodes of the final season along with brand-new bonus content. The season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from digital retailers.  

Also available on August 29, is The Flash: The Complete Series on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, which includes 184 episodes from the exhilarating DC series along with hours of bonus content from all nine seasons in one complete set.

After defeating the Reverse Flash once and for all, the ninth season of The Flash picks up one week after their epic battle, and Barry Allen aka The Flash and Iris West-Allen are reconnecting and growing closer than ever. When a deadly group of Rogues descend on Central City, led by a powerful and unknown new threat, The Flash and his team including Meta-Empath Cecile Horton, the light-powered meta, Allegra Garcia, brilliant tech-nerd Chester P. Runk and reformed cryogenics thief Mark Blaine, must once again defy the odds to save the day. But as The Rogues are defeated, a deadly new adversary rises to challenge Barry Allen’s heroic legacy. In their greatest battle yet, Barry and Team Flash will be pushed to their limits, to save Central City one last time.

The Flash stars Grant Gustin (ArrowGlee), Candice Patton (The Game), Danielle Panabaker (Sky High, Friday the 13th), Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence), Kayla Compton (Making Moves), Brandon McKnight (The Shape of Water) and Jon Cor (Shadowhunters). Based on the characters from DC, The Flash is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (Arrow, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale), Eric Wallace (Teen Wolf, Z Nation, Eureka), Sarah Schechter (Batwoman, Riverdale, Black Lightning, Supergirl), Jonathan Butler, and Sam Chalsen (Sleepy Hollow). 


  • The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster (featurette)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel

The Flash: The Complete Ninth Season and The Flash: The Complete Series will be available to purchase August 29, 2023 on Blu-ray Disc and DVD both online and in-store at major retailers. The series is also available now to purchase Digitally from Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu and more.  

Pricing and series information:

The Flash: The Ninth and Final Season

Includes 13 one-hour episodes:

  1. Wednesday Ever After
  2. Hear No Evil
  3. Rogues of War
  4. The Mask of the Red Death, Part 1
  5. The Mask of the Red Death, Part 2
  6. The Good, the Bad and the Lucky
  7. Wildest Dreams
  8. Partners in Time
  9. It’s My Party and I’ll Die if I Want To
  10. A New World, Part 1
  11. A New World, Part 2
  12. A New World, Part 3
  13. A New World, Part 4

PRODUCT                                                      SRP

Blu-ray Disc                                                    $29.98 SRP US ($39.99 in Canada)

DVD                                                                $24.98 SRP US ($29.98 in Canada)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS 5.1

Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH

DVD Audio: English (5.1) DD

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish​

Blu-ray and DVD Presented in 16×9 widescreen format

Run Time: Approx. 13 hours

The Flash: The Complete Series

Includes 184 one-hour episodes plus previously released special features.

PRODUCT                                                      SRP

Blu-ray Disc                                                    $179.99 SRP US ($179.99 in Canada)

DVD                                                                $134.99 SRP US ($149.99 in Canada)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS 5.1

Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH

DVD Audio: English (5.1) DD

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish​

Blu-ray and DVD Presented in 16×9 widescreen format

Run Time: Approx. 135 hours

J. Michael Stracyznski Rerturns to Marvel for Caprtain America

J. Michael Stracyznski Rerturns to Marvel for Caprtain America

New York, NY— June 2, 2023 — Announced earlier by io9, acclaimed writer and filmmaker J. Michael Stracyznski will make his celebrated return to Marvel Comics this September in CAPTAIN AMERICA #1!  Stracyznski has written fan-favorite stories including AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and THOR, and now he’s ready to embark on a new adventure with Marvel’s star-spangled hero! Alongside superstar artist Jesús Saiz (PUNISHER, DOCTOR STRANGE), the talented duo is ready to take Steve Rogers on an exhilarating new adventure.

Decades ago, Steve Rogers changed the world forever. Now powerful and insidious forces are assembling to ensure he never does it again. Past, present and future collide as the man out of time reckons with an existential threat determined to set the world on a darker path at any cost…

Speaking with io9, Straczynski says, “Overall, the goal is to do some really challenging stories, some really fun stories, and get inside Steve’s head to see who he really is in ways that may not have been fully explored before. If folks like what I did with Peter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and Thor in, well… THOR, then they should give this a shot, because I’m really swinging for the bleachers in this one!”



Art and Cover by JESÚS SAIZ

On Sale 9/20

Macanudo: Welcome to Elsewhere by Liniers

Macanudo: Welcome to Elsewhere by Liniers

A daily strip is usually analogous to a TV show: a few are dramas, like soaps, but most are sitcoms in printed form. (And let’s remember that “sitcom” is a portmanteau of “situation” and “comedy” – it’s a comedic story set in a particular situation.) There are odder things, like The Far Side and its followers – my sense is that those are mostly single panels, and are closer to a dedicated slot for magazine single-panel style pieces by a single creator. Still “com,” but much less “sit.”

Liniers’ daily strip Macanudo is somewhere in the uncharted regions between the pure single panel and the strip sitcom. He does have a situation, but it’s a vague one – well, actually, he has, in this first book, at least four clearly recurrent situations, which range from almost normal strip set-up all the way to a couple of clicks above General Gag Premise. And I gather that he’s got a lot of additional situations that he’s used over the course of the strip as well – Macanudo is a collection of situations, I suppose.

Macanudo: Welcome to Elsewhere  collects what seems to be about the first year of the Macanudo strip as it appeared in English. Liniers is Argentine, and has been making his comics in Spanish since 2002; the English-language version started to be syndicated by King Features in 2018 and this book came out in 2022. It’s not clear if the English version is reprinting the Argentine strip from the beginning [1], picking bits and pieces out of the history of the strip, keeping up with Liniers’ contemporary work, or some combination of all those things. (So if you read the English-language version, and become a completionist, you probably need to learn Spanish and seek out the seventeen Argentine collections up to 2017.)

And I suppose I should explain some of the situations. In rough order of frequency, we see:

  • Henrietta, an imaginative girl in a blue dress who is a devoted reader. She appears along with her cat Fellini and teddy bear Mandelbaum, who do not talk to her. Mandelbaum doesn’t even move in the strips I’ve seen, which is unusual for a strip like this.
  • The furry blue monster Olga and her boy, whose name I discover from Wikipedia is Martin. (At first I thought Olga was another companion of Henrietta’s, until I realized Martin and Henrietta wear completely different clothes.) They mostly romp around outside, which Henriette and crew also do, adding to my confusion. But Martin does not spend as much time sitting and reading, I suppose.
  • A group of nameless penguins, doing things that are similar to but not quite identical to what human beings do, in their usually-featureless icy landscape.
  • A group of “elves” (small figures with color-coded outfits including long, prehensile pompom hats – they look more like gnomes) who talk about vaguely philosophical things. There’s always at least two – most often light-blue and red, if only two – and sometimes larger groups.
There’s also some things that seem more like single jokes that Liniers makes in different ways: The Mysterious Man in Black, who is all of those words exactly and equally and nothing else; La Guadalupe, who seems to be the ambulatory skeleton of an older woman; and the two witches Huberta and Gudrun, who here mostly do broom-based gags. And there’s also a lot of one-off strips, about John Venn and Elliott from E.T. and aliens abducting cows and random people having random conversations.
So, again: some aspects of the random single panel (though generally presented in strip format), some aspects of the sitcom strip. More random and individual than continuity; there is one two-week epic here, but it’s presented in-strip as a comic that Henrietta created, so it’s distanced and metafictional to begin with.
Liniers has a soft style, using what I think are watercolors over line art – the color is intrinsic to the art, not added in as an overlay like traditional dailies. In North American comics, it’s probably closest in look to Patrick McDonnell’s Mutts, and Mutts fans would probably also like a lot of the whimsy and philosophy of Macanudo. It’s very expressive and illustrative, occasionally cartoony but more often a classic storybook look – there’s echoes of Gorey, for example, in The Mysterious Man in Black.
For topics and tone, it’s harder to find comparisons for Macanudo. The Far Side followers tend to be weirder and more bizarre; Liniers’s strip is imaginative, bookish, and almost always optimistic. I guess it’s somewhat like Grant Snider’s work  in that way.
I suppose that’s my log-line: if you’re looking for something that looks like Mutts and reads like Grant Snider, from an Argentine with a great illustrative style in the tradition of the 20th century greats, Macanudo is for you.
[1] Actually, given several references to Twitter, this is clearly not the 2002-era Macanudo, or at least not entirely.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

MBDL: My Badly Drawn Life by Gipi

MBDL: My Badly Drawn Life by Gipi

I don’t know if I’m missing cultural context or just goodwill for a well-known creator, but I was missing something when I read this book. It’s gotten a lot of praise, around the world, since it was originally published in Italy in 2007, so this could easily be a problem on my end. But this felt like a long, self-indulgent shaggy-dog story that – ironically – had some quite nice art along the way, but didn’t actually tell its story in a clear or coherent way.

Also, is the title really supposed to be MBDL , with “My Badly Drawn Life” as just the subtitle? That’s a level of self-indulgence well beyond the normal range. [1]

MBDL – I’ll use the abbreviation, since it does seem to be official – was a mid-career book by Gipi (Gianni Pacinotti), who seems to be most famous as a cartoonist for his previous project, Notes for a War Story. It was translated into English by Jamie Richards for publication last year, which implies (to me, at least) that it was seen as a more difficult book than War Story, which was translated more quickly.

(I don’t know if this is at all related, but Gipi seems to be one of those modern entrepreneurial/artistic types who are all over the place. Besides doing full-length BD books, he’s also made multiple films and a card game.)

OK, so MBDL is not the story of Gipi’s life. Or, rather, it’s a loose and discursive memoir that circles one aspect of his life, in a very wordy, heavily narrated, almost sketchbook style most of the time. To be blunt, it’s a Medical Problem Memoir, but it’s told in a very obfuscating way, maybe because the subject is embarrassing and maybe just because that’s the way Gipi works.

The medical problem…well, Gipi never talks about it in any medical detail, which is part of the problem. He also – admittedly, in his notes at the end – says that this book is only about the doctors that didn’t help him, who were “bad guys,” because he only cares about “bad guys.” (Cf.: one of the other threads of the book, in which Gipi mythologizes his teenage, or maybe young-adult group of ne’er-do-well friends, who do the usual young-man incredibly stupid things and manage not to die from any of it.)

What Gipi says on the first page is “I told him about this thing I have on my peen.” He also repeatedly refers to his ailment as something that turned him into a “sexual spastic, a Bobby Brown.”

And, I’m just, um, what?

He uses those same words over and over again. Never actually calls it a penis or cock or John Thomas, just “his peen,” like a snickering ten-year-old boy. Never says what the thing is – a lesion? an erectile dysfunction? some kind of fungus? a discoloration? the yawning mouth of hell? the head of Ronald Reagan ? Never explains – does he mean “sexual spastic” in that he avoids sex, because this thing is painful or off-putting or both? Or does it affect how he has sex?

And what the hell is “a Bobby Brown” in this context? My Prerogative Bobby Brown? I can’t even come up with options here; it’s just a huge “what the fuck does that mean?”

I spent all my time reading MBDL trying to figure out what the deal was with Gipi’s peen, which is annoying and frustrating, particularly once I realized he never would do anything but say those three things over and over again.

MBDL is a fairly long graphic novel – about a hundred and twenty dense pages, full of narration and words. Not of detail – Gipi uses the same words and ideas over and over again, about everything else as much as his peen. We see the crazy friends of his youth, over and over again. We see him talk to doctors, who are all useless at best.

And we slowly get more details about an event that happened when he was ten, at night in a room he shared with his eight-years-older sister. Somehow – we never learn why or how or even much of what – a “bad man,” “the man in the dark” came into that room and threatened them. It sounds like a stranger, an intruder, but even that isn’t clear. The Bad Man threatened to rape Gipi’s sister, but (I think) was unsuccessful.

Let me be blunt. MBDL is the story of how Gipi associated some kind of penis-related deformity he had in early adulthood with his trauma from being powerless to protect his sister from sexual violence when he was a child, and how that trauma apparently led him to consider all strange men as horrible monsters and yet not to ever question the sexist nonsense he and his close friends stewed in all day every day.

One of the things I’m most uneasy about is Gipi making this all about him. On the one hand, he’s the one telling it, and he’s clearly deeply wrapped up in his own head. But the core traumatic event is not about him. How did his sister react to this? Has she had medical problems? How did she get “the bad man” to leave? What actually happened?

I frankly don’t care that this made Gipi sad and that he later had “a thing on his peen.” I worry about the woman who was almost raped, especially since the “almost” is partially a guess.

On the positive side, it is not badly drawn. There’s a fictional thread, which I won’t spoil, that’s fully painted and looks amazing. I also would not call it badly written, though Gipi writes frustratingly and elliptically at all times. If I were God of Books, I would force it to be retitled My Badly Explained Penis.

Gipi is a fine cartoonist and observer: there are great pages and sequences here, and his work is engaging throughout. But there’s a massive lack at the center of the book that I could never get around, and I can’t really call it successful because of that.

[1] Answering my own question: the Italian original is LMVDM: La mia vita disegnata male, so, yes, this does seem to be very deliberate.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Glacial Period by Nicolas De Crecy

Glacial Period by Nicolas De Crecy

There’s a odd collection of graphic novels inspired by the Louvre museum, which has been running longer than I thought and has more books in it than I expected. Each bande dessinee is entirely separate; they’re all by different people with different plots, and seem to only have in common that they all involve the Louvre in some way.

There’s a list of the series on Goodreads; I don’t know if it’s comprehensive, but it’s fairly long, at least.

And I read a few of the early books years ago: The Sky Over the Louvre  by Yslaire and Carriere in 2014, On the Odd Hours  by Liberge in 2010, and The Museum Vaults by Matthieu in 2008. I don’t remember any of them well enough to compare.

Today, I just read Nicolas De Crecy’s Glacial Period , the very first book in the “series.” It was originally published in French in 2005, translated into English by Joe Johnson the next year, and the current edition (no indications if anything is new or different, and I doubt it, having worked in publishing) came out in 2014.

My guess is that all of the books in this series are about “the power of art” pretty centrally, however each creator defines that. This one is, eventually, though it takes a long time to get there. It also has a pretty major fantasy element that just pops up almost two-thirds of the way through the book, which is somewhat surprising.

Glacial Period takes place – so it says – about a thousand years in the future, when a glacier covers Europe and has wiped out all memory of the previous civilization. This seems multiply unlikely – that there would be a new and completely unrelated civilization at the same tech level so soon after such a crash, that everything would be lost so comprehensively, that everyone would still be speaking European languages and seeming to be European people after that crash, and that what’s described late in the book as global warming would lead to whopping great glaciers in the first place.

Maybe global warming led to a series of devastating wars that killed most of the Global North really quickly, then the few survivors (perhaps in Brazil?) actively destroyed all records of the North, created some super-science cooling device that worked too well, changed their language to English, and went into a prolonged social crash, only to emerge recently? Oh, and bioengineered a race of talking dogs along the way, because why not?

The talking dogs are a definite, by the way: we see them, and one, Hulk (named after one of the important gods of the pre-glacial civilization, ha ha ha) is a major character here.

Also, there are a couple of panels that seem to imply how the catastrophe happened, only they make no sense. First, everyone got fat and lazy in the beginning of the 21st century. Then, global warming happened, really fast! (With a picture of the glacial landscape?) Only a few people “resisted” and fled South. There apparently was no one already living in the South to which they fled.

Frankly, I’m ignoring those panels, since they make no goddamn sense. I’m assuming they’re wrong somehow within the story, for a reason I didn’t figure out yet.

Anyway, there’s a scientific expedition across the trackless icy wastes of the forgotten northern continent – it is so forgotten than Hulk finds a coin marked “2 Euro” and this is a major discovery of their name for themselves. [1] There is some tedious interpersonal bullshit that doesn’t go anywhere or mean anything, but gives some slight characterization to a vague love triangle among the humans. (There’s one woman, whose father apparently financed and created this expedition, and the requisite one intellectual and one man of action both desire her.) There are some other characters – a few other humans, some dogs like Hulk – none of whom are important.

It’s not clear what this expedition is looking for, or how it’s looking. They seem to be wandering aimlessly, hoping to find something sticking out of the ice. They have no maps or documents from the Before Times, as previously noted.

Luckily, the author is on their side, so they do see a building sticking up out of the ice. No points to guess what that building is. Due to shifting ice and the needs of plot, the party is split, with Hulk alone deep within the halls of what he doesn’t yet know is a museum, and the woman and man of action similarly separate elsewhere in the structure for no good reason.

We also get a lot of panels of attempted anthropology based on the art – mostly a Delacroix gallery, I think – which is meant to be humorously wrong-headed, and gives De Crecy the opportunity to pop in a whole bunch of famous art into his book. (This seems to be the real purpose of the whole series, frankly.) This section is where we learn that our new civilization has absolutely no records of the vanished Europeans, which frankly seems completely disjoint with the fact that an entire museum of priceless artworks is still sitting, undamaged by time, under a protective snowball.

Anyway, then the fantasy element kicks in. I guess I have to explain it, though I should warn you that it’s just as random and bizarre as everything else in Glacial Period. You see, all of the art is alive. Or the spirits of the things painted live through the art? Something vague and muddy in between those two points, I think. All the art comes to life to talk to Hulk, to give the potted history that he so desperately needs, and to tell him that he has to save them from the imminent destruction of the whole museum.

Because all of this art can survive without any damage whatsoever for a thousand years, but there’s going to be a big ice-earthquake any minute now that will crush the Louvre and anything unlucky enough to be left within it.

Does Hulk do something unlikely and weird to save his entire expedition and all of the priceless artworks of the Louvre, leading them to safety across the ice? Of course. Does he do this in any way where the reader can figure out what is going to come out the other end of the saving motion? No. Not in the slightest.

Glacial Period is a weird book with muddy colors and baffling dialogue, set in a world that would contradict itself a dozen times if it made any sense at all. It is entertaining to read and full of great art by famous dead people, but I didn’t find it plausible for more than two or three panels at a time. Your mileage may vary.

[1] Belatedly, I’m coming to realize the core issue of Glacial Period: it’s of that classic genre in which only Europe is important, only Europe matters, and the world is essentially a blank canvas for European people to make their marks on. I’m more familiar with the derivative American version of that, where all the same but only European-descended Americans, who have kept the true germ plasm of the race alive within them, do all of those colonialist things and are the true lords of All Creation. (It’s bullshit either way, of course; I’m just pointing out the two strains, and maybe why I didn’t notice the older one as quickly.)

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Crazy 8 Press Announces Silverado Press

Crazy 8 Press Announces Silverado Press

NEW YORK, NY – May 15, 2023— Author collective Crazy 8 Press announced today that it has officially launched Silverado Press, its new Western- and historical-themed imprint. The first two titles to publish under the Silverado Press banner include the short story collection Byrd’s Luck and Other Stories from award-winning author Jeffrey J. Mariotte, and Galloway’s Gamble 2: Lucifer & the Great Baltimore Brawl, from New York Times-bestselling author Howard Weinstein.

“We’ve been looking to more formally expand our reach into Westerns and historical fiction, so it’s exciting for us to launch Silverado Press,” said Crazy 8 Press co-founder Robert Greenberger. “Jeff and Howie are both great writers who have delivered terrific new books that Western fans are sure to love.”

Debuting this month, Byrd’s Luck and Other Stories contains five traditional western and five weird western tales, collecting several previously published stories, and two brand new original tales, including “Desperadoes: Into the Everdark” and “Byrd’s Law,” with cover art from acclaimed Western artist Bob Boze Bell.

“I’m thrilled to work with the gang at Crazy 8 Press and appreciate their confidence in Byrd’s Luck as the debut title for the Silverado imprint,” Mariotte said. “Western tales were my first and longest-lasting love. I’m deeply indebted to the community of western writers and artists for welcoming me into their corral.”

The second title under the Silverado imprint will be Galloway’s Gamble 2: Lucifer & the Great Baltimore Brawl. In this sequel to the award-winning Galloway’s Gamble, poker-playing brothers Jamey and Jake Galloway lead a snakebit cross-country quest to win back a champion racehorse lost in a San Francisco swindle.

“Both Galloway novels are inspired by actual events, people, and places,” Weinstein said. “I love finding true historical nuggets I can use to help fiction feel real.”

 Byrd’s Luck and Other Stories will go on sale May 30, 2023. Galloway’s Gamble 2 is scheduled for a July release. Both new titles under the Silverado Press banner will be available in print and ebook formats via Amazon, B&N, and other online and brick and mortar portals.

Byrd’s Luck and Other Stories:

ISBN: 979-8-9878381-0-5

Galloway’s Gamble 2: Lucifer & the Great Baltimore Brawl:

ISBN: 979-8-9878381-1-2

Wicked Epic Adventures by Will Henry

Wicked Epic Adventures by Will Henry

This is the third collection of Will Henry’s Wallace the Brave daily strip; it follows Wallace the Brave  and Snug Harbor Stories . Usually, with a series, the advice is to start at the beginning – but any half-decent newspaper comic has to be capable of standing on its own, every single day, out of any context, providing a little moment.

And Wallace – if it’s not in your paper (it’s not in mine), you can read it online at GoComics every day instead – is much better than half-decent. It’s at least all-decent: funny, involving, memorable, drawn with verve and written with a puckish wit.

So you could jump into Wicked Epic Adventures  first if you wanted. Or either of the preceding books. Or, probably, the fourth book, which I haven’t read yet. Or, as most people do with daily strips, with the daily strip itself, until you get the point where you want to read a big clump in one designed package at once.

Wallace is a person: a six-year-old boy in the bucolic New England town of Snug Harbor. His creator lives in Rhode Island, but I’ve gotten more of a Maine vibe from Snug Harbor – it’s not near a big city, and seems to be on an island or otherwise separated from anywhere else. (Tourists arrive by ferry at a dock, for another touchpoint.)

Wallace McClellan is one of those relentlessly positive, endlessly active kids – the kind of person who has so much energy and crazy ideas that he would be annoying if he weren’t so nice. (And, frankly, I still find him annoying some of the time.) He’s also the center of the two semi-separate casts of the story, as often happens in a strip comic. One group is his family; the other is his friends at school.

His father is a commercial fisherman; it’s a bit vague about whether Mr. McClellan works for a larger company or is an independent guy with his own boat and operation. His mother doesn’t work outside the home, but is an avid gardener and surfer, and a more modern version of the tough, loving mom figure than you see in most strip comics. She also seems to be the source of Wallace’s imagination and crazy ideas. His younger brother Sterling is less prominent here than he’s become more recently, but he’s a different and pure kind of wild child.

In school, Wallace often fails to heed the grounded, helpful Mrs. Macintosh, who is mostly in these strips to be a voice of reason when there needs to be an unheeded voice of reason. His best friend is Spud, my favorite character: a quirky, food-obsessed fussbudget who I suspect would be much more at home further away from all this nature and who gets dragged along on all of Wallace’s crazy schemes without ever enjoying or agreeing to any of them. And then there’s Amelia, who is still “the new girl” at this point – fairly newly arrived in town, with the take-charge, no-nonsense attitude of a girl who is smart, knows it, and has plans for herself and the world.

The core plot for these strips is still mostly “Wallace does something nutty” – that has changed a bit, more recently, with particularly Amelia driving some plotlines and the newer character Rose being a voice of reason that does get heeded, at least sometimes.

And the joys of a daily strip are in how the creator works out semi-standard plots with well-defined characters – Henry does that well in Wallace, which follows the rhythms of the school year (we get a summer vacation in this one) and relies on everyone’s established character points for his storylines. He’s also a light, visually inventive artist, happy to dive into sidebar visions and ideas, with a line that’s always illustrative and loose.

Bottom line: Wallace the Brave is one of the best strips currently running, fun and distinctive while still clearly in the great tradition, with interesting echoes of a number of predecessors. If daily strips are anything you’ve ever cared about, you should check it out.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.