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[EDIT] Never mind. I fixed it. Firefox is still sexy as hell, though.

I was a teenage super-geek.

Over the weekend, I was going through some boxes I haven’t touched in years. Inside one of them, I found a ton of old sketchbooks, doodle-laden composition books and various other artistic artifacts of my misspent youth. Like most archaeological curiosities, the majority of items were fragmented, heavily decomposed or incomplete after decades of neglect. Still, occasional selections survived relatively intact. One such selection is presented here.

The year: 1990

George Bush was in the Whitehouse, overseeing a war in Iraq. America defeated communism with one hand tied behind its back. Some British guy invented the World Wide Web.

And I was a bored 13 year old with marginal drawing skills, a short attention span and an unhealthy affection for Tick comics. In lieu of paying attention in school, my friends and I constantly churned out short comics full of juvenile humor and questionable spelling.

Thumbing through piles of old strips clearly illustrated one thing: I had a neurotic obsession with the Stan Lee-esque idea that any accident - no matter how devastating - had the potential to grant super-powers to its hapless victim. Guy gets struck by lightning? Here comes LIGHTNING MAN! Guy eats a radioactive hot dog? WEINER MAN to the rescue! And, of course, SUPER PYRO GUY, whose story appears below.

A final note:

As a kid, I had a weird tendency to hear words and phrases, understand what they meant and yet have NO IDEA how to spell them. I remember seeing the word “recipe” in print for the first time in second grade and wondering what the hell a “ree-sipe” was. So, when you see the word “Insanasilum” I’m wasn’t referring to some obscure neurotoxin, I just had no idea that “Insane Asylum” was a two-word phrase.

So, without further ado…


The origin of SUPER PYRO GUY

Super Pyro Guy - circa 1990

Super Pyro Guy - circa 1990

Super Pyro Guy - circa 1990

Super Pyro Guy - circa 1990

Super Pyro Guy - circa 1990

Fists of Fury, featuring Blackhawk (Volume One)

I love Blackhawk. He’s a hard-flying, hard-fighting, Polish-American, freelance ass-kicking machine. With a super-jet. Actually, a squadron of super-jets. And his own island. His own super-fortified secret island. And his own private army.

Blackhawk and his band of… er… Blackhawks fought Nazis, terrorists, Red Commies and the occasional vampire. You name the bad guy, Blackhawk has probably shot at them with a fighter plane. And he’s DEFINITELY taken a swing or three at them.

Yes, it’s a fact, Blackhawk loves two things - macho international camaraderie and serving up knuckle-sandwiches. In celebration of Blackhawk being awesome, let’s take a look back at few of those classic Blackhawk beatings. Today’s assortment comes from Blackhawk #27, originally published in 1949.

In this issue, Blackhawk takes on corrupt “war-mad weapons magnate”:

Blackhawk #27, 1949

Blackhawk #27, 1949

Blackhawk #27, 1949

Ne’er-do-well farmers:

Blackhawk #27, 1949

And… well… vampires:

Blackhawk #27, 1949

Bonus shot! Blackhawk hits three vampires with a chair!

Blackhawk #27, 1949

HAWKAAAAAA!!!!!, indeed.

Reading Cerebus: A metadiscussion.

I was talking to my friend Paul yesterday and he commented a bit on my ongoing efforts with reading through all of Cerebus. A few things came out of the discussion that, I suppose, warrant further comment.

(Continued)

Transformers: Further consideration.

Aside from being a two-hour-plus-long orgy of giant robots, explosions and giant robots exploding, the new Transformers movie offers something very special to its target audience (American men ages 25-34). It offers COMMITMENT.

Ours is a generation that grew up with nothing to rely on. Our parents are all divorced, we have no hope of pensions, we’re forced to rent until we’re in our fifties. Even the goddamn communists couldn’t be bothered to stick it out to give us something concrete to shake our fists at. Our entire lives have been marked by nothing so much as inconstancy, disappointment and change.

That, and Transformers.

Yes, Hasbro and its various partners noticed us in the mid 1980s and saw something special. They saw a need for permanence, for reliability, for something we could COUNT on. And so a bond was formed between our lost tribe of Gen-X castaways and a concerted and far-reaching campaign aimed at selling us things. The Deal was simple:

We would compel our parents to buy us toys and, in return, the cabal of studios, manufacturers and distributors would never, ever leave us.

When we tired of the first toys, they would generate new waves to accommodate us - dinosaurs that turned into robots, bugs that turned into robots, space shuttles that turned into trains that turned into robots. We spent our youths accidentally snapping the legs off of those robots, losing their guns and hands and learning to see the world through the eyes of a six-story high Mack truck with legs.

Eventually, however, we reached our turbulent adolescent years. We were TOO COOL for Transformers. We turned our back on the Deal. But the Deal never gave up on us. Like some wise Old Testament father-figure, it waited patiently for our rebellious stage to pass. And, of course, a generation of Prodigal Sons returned to find that there were remastered DVD collectors sets of the old TV shows available, special edition versions of Transformers: The Movie (1986), re-released versions of the die-cast metal toys of our youth. We purchased them. As always, the Transformers were there.

And now, as we enter our forth decade of life, we are given a new gift - Michael Bay’s Transformers. Yes, it’s a thrill-ride of epic robotic violence that has energized the men of our generation in one, giant, perfect “FUCK YEAH!” moment of fellowship, but more importantly, it’s the Deal - sole provider of boundless, reliable fidelity - telling us in the voice of Peter Cullen:

It’s time to buy a Camaro.

Reading Cerebus - Volume 2 (High Society)

Cerebus Volume 2 - 'High Society'I just finished the second Cerebus “phone book” and, in short, it was great. I can absolutely understand why so many people recommend starting with this book instead of the first volume. It’s more directed, more refined, more polished, better-looking, better-written. Everything in it is, well, better. I still think the first volume is worth reading, but if you only have the time/money to buy one, for now, start with High Society.

In terms of form, High Society represents the point at which Dave Sim decided to abandon the one-off humorous stories he’d presented during the first 25 issues. Instead, he developed an ambitious graphic novel and presented it over the course of the second 25 issues of Cerebus. It works magnificently well. High Society is a story of political, social and economic intrigue, but don’t let that confuse you - it’s a funny story. And a moving story. And a savage satire. And a gripping drama.

I read the first 2/3 of the book at a relatively leisurely pace. The story was interesting and funny and was obviously heading towards a definite conclusion, but it had enough comfortable stopping points that I was able to consume it in two or three issue chunks. That was, of course, until I got to the back third of the book. At that point, it grabbed me by the eyeballs and just dragged me straight through to the end.

Spoilers begin after the jump, so be forewarned.

(Continued)

Transformers the movie: A One Line Review

Michael Bay is hereby forgiven for Pearl Harbor.

Reading Cerebus - Volume 1 (Cerebus)

Cerebus Volume 1 - 'Cerebus'I finished reading the first of the Cerebus “phone books” a week or so ago.

Based on what I know of the rest of the series, this book is nearly a stand-alone volume, comprised largely of independent 1-3 issue arcs, rather than a large-scale story built upon previous content. Near the end of this volume, the series takes a fairly clear turn towards a longer, more purposeful narrative, which is what will drive the remaining 250 or so issues of the series.

What follows will not be censored for spoilers and such, so please only move past the cut if you’ve already read these issues and/or don’t mind having plot points discussed.

(Continued)

Please don’t explode.

Because there’s way less to lose on this site, I’m testing out “pretty” permalinks through Wordpress. If anything blows up or stops working, that’s probably why. If you’re no longer seeing permalinks that read like “?p=1234″ then everything worked.

Reading Cerebus.

My project for this summer is going to be reading the entire 300 issue, 6000 page run of Dave Sim’s Cerebus.
(Continued)