Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Monday, July 24, 2006

You know you're obsessed when...

You know you're obsessed with comics when they start figuring in your dreams, as they did in mine last night.

In the dream, I was at a convention, browsing at a dealer's table when somebody started complaining loudly to the dealer. The customer was demanding a refund on a comic he'd bought because the cover was torn, and the dealer was standing firm on his "all sales final" policy, explaining that the torn cover was the reason the book had been so cheap. I stepped in and asked the customer how much he'd paid for the comic. "Two dollars," he replied. I told him "I'll give you five for it." Not surprisingly, he took me up on it.

Once I had the comic, I started reading it. It turned out to be an old 1950s police/true-crime comic (so you KNOW that $2 - $5 price range could only occur in a dream, torn cover or not), but surprisingly unsensational. The lead story wasn't really a crime story so much as an informational piece (almost PSA-like), featuring a rookie policewoman being instructed on the duties that were expected of her as an officer...and the artwork was by Jack Cole! Being a Jack Cole story, it was hilarious (of course, I can't recall any gags, and I'm sure that if I could, they wouldn't make any sense to my waking mind...all I know is, I remember being greatly amused in the dream). The story was steeped in the sexist attitudes of the time (the one specific bit I DO remember had the cop being patronizingly lectured on the importance of keeping her uniform neat and tidy), but it was so funny I wasn't sure whether it was buying into those stereotypes or making a sly dig at them.

The second story was a piece about a con-artist dentist...unfortunately, apart from that basic premise, that part of the dream didn't stay with me when I woke up.

Conclusion: Even an imaginary Jack Cole story is a work of genius.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Most obscure inside reference ever...

A couple of posts back, I was writing about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's work in theatre and comics, and I mentioned that this connection led to one of comics' most obscure inside references ever. Here's the story.

As I mentioned, the cast of the Dad's Garage Theatre production of Aguirre-Sacasa's "The Weird" included Scott Warren and Sloane Warren.

In Nightcrawler #5, Kurt Wagner and the other X-Men try to stop a runaway subway train, and discover the conductor dead at the controls:

After the X-Men manage to stop the train and save the passengers (with Kurt encountering a bizarre ghost during the incident), Kurt investigates the mystery, playing a visit to the conductor's widow:

"I remembered something Sloan (sic) Warren, the conductor's widow, told me."

"This last week before he died, Scott told me he thought that the ghosts...that maybe they need help."

Yes, there they are...the Scott and Sloane Warren of Earth-616.

It's worth noting that Aguirre-Sacasa did not have Darick Robertson draw the characters to resemble the real Scott and Sloane Warren; most significantly, they're both much younger than their Marvel Universe counterparts. Oh yeah, and the real Scott isn't dead; I guess that's a pretty major difference too.

You can see our world's Scott Warren at his MySpace page; I don't know whether the real Sloane has any public on-line presence to link to, though.

So there you have it...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Monkey and the Bandit

Just making this post for the sole purpose of uploading an image to serve as my icon:

Burt Reynolds. Assaulting a puppet. A puppet whom I know personally.

There's a story behind this, and it actually made the National Enquirer a few years back.

Comics and theatre: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

The most prominent figure to work in both the comics and theatre fields is, of course, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Even before he landed his first comics assignment with Marvel's "4," many of his plays had incorporated themes and references from comics. Most prominently, he wrote a play originally entitled "Archie's Weird Fantasy," a time-twisting meta-fiction with Archie Andrews leaving Riverdale, coming out of the closet, and remaining ageless as he shifts from the 1920s (where he goes to college with Leopold & Loeb) to the 1950s (where he lands a job writing for EC Comics, runs afoul of Dr. Fredric Wertham, and begins a romantic relationship with young reporter Jimmy Olsen) to the present day.

Literally the day before the premiere, Dad's Garage Theatre got a cease-and-desist order from Archie Comics' legal department. The company hurriedly revised the script, changing the title to "Weird Comic Book Fantasy" and renaming all the characters ("Archie" became "Buddy Baxter," "Jughead" became "Tapeworm," etc.). Despite the short notice, it still worked...perhaps even better with the roman a clef names than if the "real" icons had been used.

Creative loafing review of Weird Comic Book Fantasy

(In subsequent productions, the title of the play is now "Golden Age.")

Review of the New York production of Golden Age

Here's a photo I took of Matt Horgan (who played "Buddy Baxter"), left, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, right, at the opening night of "Weird Comic Book Fantasy":

Dad's Garage later produced "The Weird," an anthology of short plays by Aguirre-Sacasa, which again featured a number of comics references. The plays were tied together by a Crypt-Keeper-style narrator (played by Scott Warren under heavy make-up). The piece "Swamp Gothic" starred Sloane Warren as Abigail Arcane (complete with a black streak in her white hair) and Rene Dellefont as Matthew Cable, though the actual premise of the play veered far away from the established "Swamp Thing" characters. (In "Swamp Gothic," Abigail was played as an over-the-top Tennessee Williams-style southern belle, confronting Cable about his affair with her brother Alec.) It even worked in a reference to some of the comic-book Anton Arcane's most twisted evil acts, when Abigail insinuates that she cannot be shocked because "The Arcanes are an old family and I have many uncles." The final playlet, "Dinner with the Super Friends," depicted a casual lunch meeting between a retired super-heroine (Sloane Warren again, playing "Frances Kane") and her still-active crimefighting friend (Bethany Irby as "Kara"), celebrating Kara's birthday at Bibbo's diner.

Creative Loafing review of "The Weird"

Dad's Garage Theatre and a couple of its performers later figured into one of the most obscure inside references ever in comics...but that's the subject for another post.

A bit more about me...

As you may have guessed from the assortment of links to the right, my primary interests are comics, film, and theatre...and I'm especially jazzed whenever any two of those media intersect.

Most of my theatrical activity takes place at Dad's Garage Theatre, though I've also been involved (whether as an audience member or a participant) in numerous other theatres in the Atlanta area. I've mostly worked behind-the-scenes (helping out in whatever capacity I can, from manning the concessions counter to writing recaps of their improvised soap-opera "Scandal!"), but have taken some improv courses and done a bit of performing and stage writing. I've written some bits for their now-defunct sketch comedy show "Free Parking," and once co-wrote a piece for a "24-Hour Plays" festival. (The writers get together and are randomly paired up, then stay up all night collaborating on original short plays; the directors and actors come in the next morning, then spend all day preparing for the evening's performance, just 24 hours after the writers get together. As you might guess, it's quite a challenge...)

Next post: A bit more on comics/theatre connections...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of JOO-ly!

In honor of the holiday, here's a classic "Pogo" strip from Walt Kelly:

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Coolest super-hero name ever...

Just a quick, fleeting thought here:

The best codename of all belongs to a character who languishes in obscurity, as a secondary figure in a short-lived (but enjoyable) '80s series (Dave Cockrum's "Futurians"):

Dr. Zeus.

I mean, not only is it a take-off on a beloved children's author, but it also works as a "straight" super-hero name in case anyone misses the joke! How many pun names can work both ways like that?