Tagged: Wikipedia

Marc Alan Fishman’s Snarky Synopsis: “Figment #1”

Written by Jim Zub. Art by Filipe Andrade and Jean-Francois Beaulieu.

FigmentEver have a thing (in this case, a cartoonish purple dragon) on the tip of your tongue and you’ve just got to figure out where you’ve seen it before? I had to break down and look up Figment on Wikipedia. Figment is a Disney dragon who starred (Troy McClure style) in several shorts used throughout the Disney World theme park. So it would seem here, a salvo of Mouse-driven comic bookery, now put out by Mickey’s favorite movie-makers: a comic based on a barely-there cartoon character. Sure as hell beats a live-action Eddie Murphy star-vehicle about Tomorrow Land, I suppose.

Jim Zub, of Skull Kickers fame, turns in a script that could easily fare in a direct-to-DVD cartoon adaptation with ease. I am pleased to report that Zub comes from my favorite camp of all-ages content creators – building a book that doesn’t speak down to kids with crude humor or simple language. Instead he tells a simpler story, backed by a load of stylish flair and characterization. Our hero, the brilliant (and brilliantly named) Blarion Mercurial, is one of many fine minds working at the Academy Scientifica-Lucidus. Tasked by the demanding Chairman Illocrant to find new sources of energy, Mercurial is the quintessential dreamer with a heart of gold and a head in the clouds. We soon learn that Blarion himself is a man of meager means, given a shot at greatness because of his intrepid mind. His solution to the steam-punky world’s need for more power? The power of the mind, bay-bee. And his Integrated Mesmonic Convertor is the kind of kooky contraption a child might come up with on a rainy day.

The device harnesses the power of thought to generate electricity. Or that’s what Blarion would like it to have done. But like any good thrill-a-minute adventure book of days past, his invention doesn’t seem to work exactly that way. Instead, it created a sentient being built of pure imagination. Figment, the quirky and cute purple dragon – once an invisible pal to a young (and maybe lonely?) genius, now made real! But Zub doesn’t get long to revel in the science, as our hero is put back to the task at hand with seven days to solve the energy problem. I won’t spoil the ending – I know, that’s a change for me – but suffice the say the script zigs where I thought it might zag. It sets up the book for future chapters that clearly will be more frenetic than this first installment.

Concerning the actual words on the page, I reiterate my glee at a script that has no problem speaking above the target audience’s head. It causes would-be readers to stretch their vernacular in order to meet the mental demand of the story. That being said, this is a fun and whimsical book. One that I fret to admit I came in ready to hate with all the piss and vinegar I could muster.

Not to knock poor Walt, but Disney has not been synonymous to me lately with tons of good will. Cracking open this comic though reminded me of the company that set the tone for my childhood with aplomb. “Figment” is akin to those pieces of cinematic fiction that define generations of youth to strive for excellence. The fact that Jim Zub chooses to explore psuedo-science, and pair it with working-class sensibilities, and never take cause for a fart gag? It’s a sign to me that the all-ages comics are continuing to put to shame the cape and cowl sect – far more apt to dissolve into mindless action than tell a good story.

Art chores by Filipe Andrade and Jean-Francois Beaulieu give us a simply grand visual experience to enjoy. Andrade’s scenes are all awash in detail – sketchy detail – that show us an artist truly building a world … and perhaps layer abandoning it. His hand is loose and gestural, but his finished figures are hefty beneath the layer of slightly erased doodles. Beaulieu’s colors elevate the book to the stratosphere it aims at. Warm tones bring figures to the foreground against cooler-toned environments. And the bare hint of an occasional glow or knockout lend themselves more towards a painterly page than a Photoshopped one. While I had a few flashbacks to artists like Ryan Sook, and even Gene Ha in small doses, Filipe and Jean-Francois build a comic book that is simply a joy to read through. The fact that we can spent nearly 80% of the book without the titular dragon, and not miss it? It’s a sign that their work takes Zub’s script and carry us through universe-building without being a drag.

Zippedoo-da. Zippedee-aye. My, oh my, what a wonderful day! “Figment” hit my pull-list like a ton of bricks – the idea of a Disney-penned also-ran, made into a needless comic book – but ended up making my day. Jim Zub and the team of artists build a tale of brilliance that celebrates the power of thought, the joy of imagination, and yeah … there’s a dragon in it too. When fiction strives to elevate it’s target audience through the use of fine language and adult concepts, and present it without pretense? You get an end-product that both the parent and child can enjoy on their own terms. Whether you’re a fan of Mickey or not, Figment is a fine comic to seek out. You needn’t dream about it further; here’s one piece of your imagination made real.


Emily S. Whitten: A Weekend with Rob Paulsen

Whitten Art 130806I’ve been super-lucky on two different weekends in the past month to have been able to spend significant time with the inestimable Rob Paulsen, voice actor extraordinaire (and all-around nice guy). It’s been a fantastic experience.

If by some chance you don’t know who Rob is (which is something voice actors sometimes run into, since they are recognized by their characters’ voices rather than their own names or faces) just take a look at his Wikipedia and you’ll quickly figure it out. Or, see if you recognize any of the following characters: Raphael of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Donatello of the current TMNT; Yakko Warner, Doctor Otto Scratch’n’sniff, and Pinky of Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain; Carl Wheezer of Jimmy Neutron; Mark Chang of The Fairly Oddparents; Bobble of Tinker Bell; Bravoman and Alphaman of Bravoman…is it starting to click now? If not, just keep going down the list at IMDB and I guarantee it will!

The first weekend, I sat down with Rob at the San Diego Comic-Con for a really fun video chat. We covered a lot of ground – including Rob’s awesome podcast in which he talks with other great animation talents; the experience of meeting fans, and of fan reactions to his voices; what it’s like to get to work with all of your friends; the freedom that voice acting provides in comparison to on-screen acting; which characters Rob identifies with; the Pinky & the Brain episode for which he won an Emmy Award; working on Animaniacs; singing in cartoon voices; character development; and his current projects, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bravoman. And of course, on the video he did some of the great voices for which he is known – and he sang, too!

You can see the whole video here, and I definitely recommend you give it a watch! Although I must warn you, I totally geek out over the voices, because I really can’t not. So be prepared for the geeking. (And please excuse the odd angle; all of the furniture in the Hard Rock Hotel is either really high or really low!)

This past weekend, I got to hang out with Rob again, when he came to do a public appearance at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. We had a great crowd, and everyone had a fantastic time. The fans who came to see Rob delighted me by spontaneously singing along with the Animaniacs theme song and other music I’d queued up to play before Rob came out to talk; and Rob delighted everyone with his discussion of his career, answers to audience questions, and (of course) his voices and singing. And yes; yes, he did sing Yakko’s World. He then stayed to meet every fan and sign autographs for almost two-and-a-half hours! It was a great night.

The next day, I got to experience two things I’d never been a part of before, and both experiences were remarkable in very different ways. In the morning, I tagged along while Rob did something he likes to try to do when he travels for his events – which was to go to a local hospital and visit with sick kids. I don’t know that I can properly describe how heartwarming it was to see the way Rob engaged with the kids, even the ones who were the most subdued due to being in the hospital for a long time or feeling pretty sick, or how much it affected them. I watched as kids who were listless when we entered a room were smiling or laughing as we left; and was told by a hospital staff member that one boy and his mother (who were both laughing or smiling by the end of Rob’s visit) had been having a very tense and difficult time in the past few days; and by one young woman’s father that Rob’s visit was the first time she had smiled all day. What a great gift that is, to be able to brighten someone’s day like that; and what a great person Rob is, to realize that gift and give his time and energy to these kids.

My favorite part of the visit was when we walked into the dialysis room, in which about five kids were receiving treatment – and they were all watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Perfect timing! (Rob, pointing at the screen: “I’m that one.”) It was pretty surreally cool to hear one of Rob’s voices coming out of the TV as he chatted and signed pictures for the kids. All of the kids and hospital staff got a huge kick out of Rob’s visit; and there was even one teenage boy who was a big Animaniacs fan and knew just about every major character Rob did. So naturally, Rob sang Yakko’s World for him and the rest of the room. Aww.

That evening I sat in on a completely different sort of event – a private, limited admission voice acting workshop for aspiring voice actors. This was a side of Rob’s skill set that I hadn’t seen before, as the working actor took over while Rob listened carefully to each word and sound as students read scenes, and then gave advice tailored to each student’s specific performing strengths and weaknesses. As the students tried the scenes again, I could see the immediate effects of his advice in their improvement; and when he gave examples on how he’d read certain scenes, it was once again clear how skilled and polished a character actor Rob really is. He is a master of his art.

I wasn’t the only one to think so, either – as Rob demonstrated his take on a scene, one of the students in front of me actually gasped in wonder, and when she caught my eye, mouthed, “Isn’t he amazing?” He really is. My high school soccer coach, when the team was working together like clockwork and made a great play, used to say, in a phrase that encompassed the way everything had fallen perfectly into place, “It’s a beautiful thing.” And that’s the phrase that came to mind as I watched Rob working and the magic happening in that seminar room. Even as someone who’s not an actor, I could tell that this was an opportunity a student can’t get just anywhere; and also that it is different from what Rob does on the podcast or in Q&As, because it is such personal and immediate coaching. It’s a beautiful thing.

I realize I must sound pretty enthused, even for me, about how awesome Rob Paulsen is; but hey – that’s because he is totally awesome. Or, as Raphael might say, radical. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with him and get a glimpse into his life as a voice actor, and would happily do it again any time. And that’s a fact, Jack.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned because I’m still catching up on my SDCC coverage and there’s more to come! So Servo Lectio!




Marc Alan Fishman: Oh My God, I Like Drawing Again!

Drawing HandsA funny thing about Unshaven Comics: at the conventions I have always felt out of place. Kyle over the years has become a one man sales force. Matt? A commission-churning machine. Me? I used to laugh as say “I’m in marketing.” Mainly because like everyone in marketing… it meant “doing everything that isn’t actually selling.” I networked with other professionals. I people-watched. I tallied our money, made change, and added polite conversation when the paying customers wanted to chat (and Kyle, in complete shock to them, only wanted their money…The cur!). And then, as is his way… Matt threw down a gauntlet.

“Dude. Just draw something.”

On paper? Without my computer? And Wacom? And the internet to guide me? And no digital references? What kind of hell was he inviting me to!? And, as a joke, I drew Domo-Kun. Domo, a Japanese TV mascot and popular-with-the-hipsters-and-kawaii-crowd character. Everyone at the table giggled and laughed. They egged me on to do more. I however looked at the scribbling and felt ashamed. I would not do another Domo for at least a year.

For those unfamiliar with my life story (because I ain’t good enough fer’ a Wikipedia entry like everyone else on this site…yet.), I do actually know how to draw undigitally. I majored in print making. I took years of life drawing. But the allure of the bells and whistles of Adobe’s Creative Suite was a siren’s song I could not fight. Shortly after receiving my BFA, I’d all but forgotten by pencils and pens. And by the time Unshaven Comics had formed… my tool box was built not of plastic, but of pixels. And with years of rust forming over my natural line—smoothed over by implausibly perfect vector lines and filters—my return to ‘original art’ was much like my foray into sequential art: done with my kicking and screaming all the way.

Until a few weeks ago.

While attending our first Gem City Comic Con in Columbus, I got an itch to produce Domos again. Perhaps it was because the show offered me little to do “marketing wise.” Perhaps it was a way to pass the time a bit. Perhaps it was kismet. I doubt it, but hey, it could be. This time, I really took my time. I slowed down, and paid attention to the details. I forced myself to remember those skills I’d long ditched for an Intuos. And then something really odd happened. Someone walked up and wanted to purchase one. And then another. And another. Call it a boost of confidence on the smallest scale, but it did wonders for me. With C2E2 going on as you read this… I figured I’d “come out of the closet” as a full blown commission-taking Domo-Maker. I’d offer to draw more… but the fans on our Facebook told me no.

To that point: I started posting up my Domos on our Facebook. Since doing it? We’ve gained 117 fans at the moment of me writing this. Far be it from me to doubt when the Internet tells me to do something. Of course by that account my next 4 articles will be about Star Trek, Pro Wrestling, and 2 slamming DC Comics. But I digress.

This week, I put down my digital pen, and vowed to fill up my “example book” of trading cards, as well as work on actual commissions asked of me prior to the show. In doing so, I’ve been prescient of a change within me. During time at the ole’ day-job, I’ve found myself scribbling in the margins. A fad I’d long dropped in Junior High School. As I drove about town on errands, I found myself yearning to get back to the board to draw, ink, and color. An e-mail declaring a “half price sale” at the local art supply shop was not immediately spammed and trashed. Yes indeed my friends. A latent love of mine has bubbled to the forefront of my life again.

My name is Marc Alan Fishman, and I can draw again.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell


DreddDespite Karl Urban uttering, “I am the law” his overall demeanor was just one of the many disappointments in the new film take on the classic 2000 AD hero, Judge Dredd. Dredd is out on home video this week from Lionsgate and it is amazing how bored I was watching it.  The majority of the 96 film takes place in the Peach Trees Block and is effectively Dredd playing John McLane, trying to survive a sealed off building under siege.

It’s hard to watch this without comparing it with the Sylvester Stallone misfire of the 1990s. While the story sucked and the star violated the character by taking his helmet off a lot, it looked like the weekly comic come to life. The high tech, futuristic clutter of Mega City One was expertly captured, reminding us of how much the visual of Blade Runner derived from the British comic which has been around since 1977. Also, the costuming was perfect. Here, everything is scaled down and the Judge’s uniform does not look anywhere near as imposing.

Urban, no stranger to the genre, gets credit for playing the character accurately, keeping the helmet on and the upper lip and jaw prominent. On the other hand, he is not physically imposing as Stallone was or as Spanish artist Carlos Ezquerra envisioned him.

We open with a voiceover setting the stage telling rather than showing and this vision is less imposing than the one in the comics. Somehow, the corridor from Boston to Washington has become this singular city with these 200+ story blocks that have become isolated communities. In this one, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), a drug-dealer/gang leader has become the distributor for a new drug and a routine case pits Dredd and the rookie Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) against an entire community out for blood.

This is more Anderson’s story than Dredd’s and we learn about her mutant ability is that of the most powerful psychic the Justice Department has ever seen. She is deemed ready for evaluation and goes out with Dredd and becomes embroiled in the case. Thirlby, a rising independent film star, is the best part of the film, but then again, she has the most to work with. Her interactions with the prisoner Kay (Wood Harris) give the film any sense of character.

Everyone else plays a type, from the stoic Dredd to the stereotypical Ma-Ma. Headey, a genre veteran, snarls nicely but has little else to do and seems not to care. Dredd is the most feared Judge of all but here, he lacks that reputation which diminishes the character.

The movie is a hard R with exceptionally graphic violence and gore courtesy of director Peter Travis. He’s done this sort of thing before and he handles it well, but doesn’t seem to know what else to do with the characters so has them run, hide, shoot, bleed, repeat.

The best of the extras is “Mega-City Masters: 35 Years of Judge Dredd” (14:27) where creators Ezquerra and John Wagner, accompanied by Brian Bolland, Mark Millar, Jock, Chris Ryall and others, discuss the uniqueness of the character and the opportunity the series has given the writers and artists for topical social and political satire. Everything that is just over the top enough to remain entertaining and amusing in the comics is absent from the film. Screenwriter Alex Garland is exceptionally talented but appears to have read a Wikipedia entry about the series before writing the script. This is perhaps the biggest disappointment of the film, which died at the box office, as much for inept marketing as a poor adaptation of the source material.

The other special features include “Day of Chaos: The Visual Effects of Dredd 3D” (15:21), although this is wasted on those of us who don’t care about 3-D; “Dredd” (1:53), “Dredd’s Gear” (2:31), “The 3rd Dimension” (2:00), about the film’s stereo, and “Welcome to Peach Trees” (2:33).There’s a little more Ma-Ma character substance in the motion comic prequel (2:57).

The combo set includes the 2-D, 3-Dand ultraviolet digital copy. This is the first combo set I have seen without a standard DVD version offered, a portent of the future.

Also included in this set is a digital copy of the film and an Ultraviolet stream or download.

Watch ‘Honest Trailers: “The Avengers”‘

The Avengers (2012 film)

The Avengers (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the wake of the home video release of Marvel’s [[[The Avengers]]], we think it’s safe to show this now…


Martha Thomases: Chicks ‘n’ Pixs

This week’s column is about two things:

1) Video games, about which I know almost nothing, and

2) Sexism in pop culture, about which I know far too much.

My son, the genius, recently sent me a link to a Kickstarter project he supports, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which will create a series of videos discussing the way women are portrayed in video games. Always delighted to encourage research and intelligent discussion on a subject dear to my heart, I was pleased to contribute (and also, extremely proud of myself for raising such a mensch). The project had already greatly exceeded its initial fundraising goals, but I wanted to be there in solidarity.

If you click the link, you’ll notice that the woman behind the project, Anita Sarkeesian, is articulate, well-informed, and calm. She talks reasonably about her goals, her opinions, and her research. If she rages hysterically in private (and I know I certainly do), you can’t tell from her public face.

She certainly sounds more calm that Val and I did in our somewhat similar critique on women in comics here.

And yet, she inspires a veritable tsunami of rage in people who disagree with her. On YouTube and online forums, men don’t just object to her point of view, but to her very existence. A group even hacked her Wikipedia page in an attempt to dehumanize her.

I’m not talking about the men who say, “But men aren’t portrayed accurately either in video games!” I disagree (men are presented as stereotypes, true, but in much more varied stereotypes), but that is a reasonable level of discourse. I’m talking about the men who say she’s ugly, or she just needs to get laid, or that she is nothing but a stupid female body part.

It’s ridiculous and it’s revealing of the poverty of our discourse. Nobody is forcing any gamer to watch these videos. Nobody is threatening to take away their precious sexist video games. Someone is simply responding to these games with honesty and intelligence. If you don’t like it, don’t listen.

When I was in high school I wrote an editorial about what was then a newly resurgent feminist movement. I took the radical position that calling women “chicks” or “tomatoes” made as much sense as calling men “cocks” or “zucchinis.” In response, I received more than 200 anonymous notes calling me a lesbian, a girl who, in what I’m sure they thought was a clever turn of phrase, “just wanted to be on top.” I didn’t even know what lesbians were, and after someone told me, I still couldn’t figure out what they did (I was a very naïve 16 year old). They didn’t want to refute my argument – they wanted to shut me up.

You can see how well that worked.

“But Martha,” you say. “It’s just video games. It’s just comics. It’s just movies. What difference does it make?” The difference is that the way we talk about women in our society is terrible, and it isn’t limited to popular culture. It affects our political landscape and that limits what we can do for each other. If we describe women as only those-who-are-different-from-men and not as individual humans, we miss out on a lot of talent.

We don’t have talent to spare.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman Fires Back!


Mindy Newell: The Agony And The Ecstasy Of Writing

Ah, the joys of writing.

Well, not when you’re working on your capstone project, the culmination of the past 18 months, the paper that will lead me to that walk down the aisle in mortarboard and gown to the hallowed, somber notes of Pomp and Circumstance. How did that get to be the graduation processional march anyway? Wait, I’m going to look it up. Tawk amongst yawselves….

This is what Wikipedia says: “The Pomp and Circumstances Marches, Op. 39” are a series of marches for orchestra composed by Sir Edward Elgar. In the United States, the Trio section,” Land of Hope and Glory” of March No. 1 is sometimes known simply as” Pomp and Circumstance” or as “The Graduation March,” and is played as the processional tune at virtually all high school and college graduation ceremonies. It was first played at such a ceremony on 28 June 1905, at Yale University, where Samuel Sanford, Professor of Music, invited his friend Elgar to attend commencement and receive an honorary Doctorate of Music. Elgar accepted, and Sanford made certain he was the star of the proceedings, engaging the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the College Choir, the Glee Club, the music faculty members, and New York musicians to perform two parts from Elgar’s oratorio – “The Light of Life” and, as the graduates and officials marched out, “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1.” Elgar repaid the compliment by dedicating the “Introduction and Allegro, Op. 47” at the first London Symphony Orchestra performance later that year. The tune soon became de rigueur at American graduations, used primarily as a processional at the opening of the ceremony, although it is still used now only as at Yale.”
Oy, the things you and I learn because of this column!

As I was saying, academic writing is not at all like writing fiction, or like writing this column – which could be fiction. Some of it, anyway. You’ll never know, will you? Academic writing is about rules that must not be broken under any circumstance, although I think that only God knows why. I’ve had arguments with several professors – before I learned better – about why academic writing must be so dry and impersonal and polysyllabic. In other words, b-o-r-i-n-g. “Look,” I said. “Doesn’t it make sense that if the writing’s engaging, fun, and inclusive of the audience, that audience will enjoy reading it, and if the audience enjoys reading it, then the audience will r-e-m-e-m-b-e-r it. As in, the audience will not need ten cups of coffee just to get through the abstract.”

“Ha-rumph!” said the professors, looking down their snoots. “Balderdash! Ms. Newell, we assume you want to pass this course.

”Yes, sir,” I said. “Yes, ma’am.”

In other words, just shut up and do what they say, Mindy. And I do. And my academic writing is damn good, if I do say so myself, even if those last two sentences would never get through the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th Editon. Because they start with conjunctions.

But fiction writing – now that’s, as the doorman to the Emerald City said to Dorothy, a horse of a different color.

You can have fun when you’re writing fiction. Oh, there are rules about plot and structure and grammar. But those rules are easily broken. It’s about style. And style, baby? That’s the fun part. Style belongs to you. You, the author.

Raymond Chandler. Edna Ferber. Alan Moore. Toni Morrison. Ernest Hemingway. Anne McCaffrey. Brian K. Vaughn. Gail Simone. Neil Gaiman. Louise Simonson. Grant Morrison. Lynda Barry. Harvey Pekar. Mari Naomi. Frank Miller. Alison Bechdel. Each of these wonderful writers with their own style, their own voice. It’s one of the reasons, maybe the reason, why they are loved, why their books are snatched off shelves and downloaded onto e-readers.

Or maybe it’s not so fun. Maybe it’s hard, maybe it’s heartbreaking, maybe it’s terrifying, maybe it’s cathartic. Maybe you don’t really know where these words are coming from or why you have these ideas, but you only know that if you don’t get them out of your head or your soul and down on paper, someday they will eat at your guts and corrode your brain and destroy what’s left of your humanity.

Fiction as primal scream therapy.

Tuesday Morning: Michael Davis Continues With His Black Thing!

Tuesday Afternoon: Emily S. Whitten Reveals You, Too, Can Get Started! 


Mindy Newell: Books, Banned and Burned

This one’s for Martha

Nothing like a good book to get the rabble-rousers going.

In Field Of Dreams, Ray Kinsella’s wife, played by Amy Madigan, successfully shuts down the effort to ban Terence Mann’s books from the local Iowa school system. Terence Mann – played by James Earl Jones – was based on J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of Catcher In The Rye.

Catcher was published in 1951, and has pretty much stayed on “attempts to ban it” lists since its publication. In fact, it was the most censored book in America from 1961 to 1982, even though, according to Wikipedia, it was the “second most taught book in United States public schools.” It most recently reappeared on the “most challenged books” list, published by American Library Association, in 2009.

These are some of the books I remember being on the curriculum when I was in school, along some that I missed because I was already out of school by the time they made the list of required reading, courtesy of my co-workers, although I have read them all:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Animal Farm
Antigone Brave New World Beloved
Call of the Wild Catcher in the Rye The Color Purple
The Crucible Death of a Salesman The Diary of Anne Frank
Fahrenheit 451 The Glass Menagerie The Grapes of Wrath
Great Expectations The Great Gatsby Hamlet
Invisible Man Johnny Tremain The Light in the Forest
Lord of the Flies Macbeth The Miracle Worker
1984 The Odyssesy Oedipus
Of Mice and Men Othello One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Othello
Our Town The Outsiders The Pearl
The Pigman Pygmalion The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Romeo and Juliet The Scarlet Letter
A Separate Peace Shane A Tale of Two Cities
To Kill a Mockingbird Where the Red Fern Grows Wuthering Heights

And here are the books on that list that have been banned at one time or another – or on which attempts have been made ban, courtesy of the American Library Association (ALA):

The Great Gatsby The Catcher in the Rye
The Grapes of Wrath To Kill a Mockingbird
The Color Purple Beloved
The Lord of the Flies 1984
Of Mice and Men Catch-22
Brave New World Animal Farm
Invisible Man One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Call of the Wild A Separate Peace
The Diary of Anne Frank The Outsiders

Call Of The Wild?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Other books on the list I found from the ALA include the Goosebumps series; the Earth’s Children series; Gone With The Wind (but not anywhere in the South – oh, for those good old antebellum days!); The Handmaid’s Tale (in the South, I bet!); the Harry Potter series; Slaughterhouse Five; Native Son; Cujo, Carrie, and The Dead Zone (someone really doesn’t like Stephen King); Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Forever, Tiger Eyes, and Deenie, (they don’t like Judy Blume, either); A Wrinkle In Time; Flowers For Algernon; James And The Giant Peach (but Charlie And The Chocolate Factory is okay?); The House Of Spirits; The Bluest Eye and Song Of Solomon (or Toni Morrison); and That Was Then, This Is Now (ditto for S.E. Hines).

And you wonder why this country is so frakked.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis Spills The Beans


Jan Berenstain: 1923-2012

Stan and Jan Berenstain

Image via Wikipedia

Another of the greats who brought graphic storytelling to millions is gone.

Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bears books that have charmed preschoolers and their parents for 50 years, has died. She was 88.

Berenstain, a longtime resident of Solebury in southeastern Pennsylvania, suffered a severe stroke on Thursday and died Friday without regaining consciousness, her son Mike Berenstain said.

The gentle tales of Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear were inspired by the Berenstain children, and later their grandchildren. The stories address children’s common concerns and aim to offer guidance on subjects like dentist visits, peer pressure, a new sibling or summer camp.

The first Berenstain Bears book, “The Big Honey Hunt,” was published in 1962. Over the years, more than 300 titles have been released in 23 languages — most recently in Arabic and Icelandic — and have become a rite of passage for generations of young readers.

via Berenstain Bears co-creator Jan Berenstain dies.

Our condolences to their children and grandchildren.

DENNIS O’NEIL: Patron Superheroes?

Got a concept for you. Ready?

Patron superheroes.

You’re lovin’ it already, aren’t you?

For those of you who have never been Catholic, here’s a quick definition of patron saint, via the invaluable Wikipedia: “A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person…(They) are believed to be able to intercede for the needs of heir special charges.”

I mean, when you think about it superheroes and patron saints have a lot in common. Both are dedicated to helping the good guys (though the definition of “good guys” is liable to change) and both have powers that help the aforementioned good guys. You’re Lois Lane falling from a window, you yell and here comes Superman to prevent you from splatting. You’re a Giants fan, you want your team too win the Super Bowl, you pray to the appropriate saint and – yay Giants.

Okay, maybe your saint didn’t affect the game directly – though who knows? – but he or she obviously had some influence on the final score. I mean, saints obviously have a lot of clout. And these things are, by their very nature, mysterious.

Now, I don’t know if there is actually a patron saint of football, or a patron saint of the Giants, or of the New England Patriots, but if not, these surely are blanks easily filed in. If we can put a man on the moon, we can give he Patriots a patron! And by the way, there is a patron saint of athletes: St. Sebastian. So what if a Giants fan and a Patriots fan both prayed to Sebastian? Gee, another darn mystery…Maybe whoever prayed loudest?

We’re going to ignore “pagan” deities, who had a lot in common with both saints and superheroes because…well, this is a Christian country! (I believe I heard a guy wearing a suit on television say that, so I know it has to be straight.)

And that brings us to patron superheroes, though there really isn’t much to say about them, once you acknowledge the similarities between saints and superdoers. It’s just a matter of dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s, and you can manage that on your own.

But to help you get started, here’s a brief, off-the-top-of-my-head list of heroes and what they might be patron of.

Superman – immigrants.

Plastic Man – politicians.

Spider-Man – entomologists.

Green Arrow – acupuncturists.

The Human Torch – arsonists.

Invisible Scarlett O’Neil – wallflowers. (No relation, in case you’re wondering.)

The Flash – athletic shoe manufacturers

Captain Marvel – electricians.

Captain Marvel Junior – electricians’ assistants.

Hoppy the Marvel Bunny – fertility.

The Shadow – sundials.

And to make it an even dozen –

Blue Beetle – unhappy rock stars.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases