Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alex Toth

I was going to write something about the destruction of legendary MMA fighter Royce Gracie at the hands of Matt Hughes (and I probably still will) but then I learned that Alex Toth passed away yesterday and that's much more important to me.

I'm not one to eulogize, especially someone that I didn't know personally, but I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Mr. Toth, who passed away yesterday at his drawing table at the age of 78.

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone currently working in the comics field who isn't influenced, directly or indirectly, by the work of Mr. Toth. He's probably best known for his design work on too many classic Hanna Barbera cartoons to name. Some of the more notable ones are Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, Herculoids (my personal favorite cartoon of all time) and Challenge Of The Superfriends (my second favorite). He also had a long career in comics. His last published work (that I've seen) was a Batman: Black and White cover a few years back. Like the best Toth work, the composition was simple, subtle, and perfect. The drawing was refined to the point of being minimalist, which was what made his artwork so great. He drew so much by drawing so little.

Anyway, like I wrote above, you'd be hard pressed to find an artist working in comics today that hasn't either studied Mr. Toth's work or studied the work of an artist who studied Mr. Toth's work. His influence over the last few generations is quiet, yet staggeringly far-reaching. I would list names but's everybody that will ever draw comics, in one way or another.

He was one of the geniuses of our little field and I loved his work. It's sad to lose yet another legendary artist but, in a strange way, I find it comforting that he passed away at his drawing table, doing what he loved. Not to be melodramatic but I can think of a few million worse ways to go and none quite so appropriate.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


My son likes to do impressions. He's a fantastic dinosaur, a kitty cat, a dog...

Oh, yeah. And Jack Nicholson.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Bandit is shrinking

My friend Dave Baldy(the fellow who is not Burt Reynolds in this picture) recently paid a visit to the set of a film he did some quick rewrite work on. Appearing in this fine motion picture is none other than the legendary Bandit himself. Luckily, there was a camera on set to capture the big moment for all posterity. What are the odds of finding a camera on a movie set? It's almost a miracle.

Not only did Baldy meet Mr. Reynolds, he also lost $200 in poker to Shannon Elizabeth, best known as 'the girl with no shirt on' in several fine feature films, including the first American Pie. Why he didn't charm her into playing strip poker, I'll never know each their own.

I'm pretty sure Baldy is in six foot territory (that's 72 inches for those of you who subscribe to the Metric system), I know he's a couple of inches taller than I am. I was surprised that he absolutely towers over Burt Reynolds in this picture. While it's common knowledge that the magic of movies can make people seem taller than they are, I would also assume that The Bandit has withered with age.

I got a kick out of this picture because let's face will always be cool to meet Burt Reynolds. The only thing that could make Burt Reynolds cooler is if he had made a buddy movie with a monkey at some point.

Burt Reynolds + Monkeys = MONEY!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

DaVinci Code...RED.

I saw The DaVinci Code tonight.

Anyone who's been paying attention the past week has heard the various film critics panning the film but I'm here to tell you all, brother...

That they're absolutely right. This might have been one of the more boring movies I've ever seen.

I liked the book, didn't love it but it wasn't what I would consider a waste of time. I thought it was very cleverly constructed and admired the way the author wove his fictional tale through all the real world historical Christian conspiracy stuff. The Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, the secret history of's all pretty interesting stuff.

Anyway, the movie has all of that in it but still manages to just feel flat. It's a suspense thriller without any suspense or thrills. I like the lady that played Amelie and Magneto is always good. Tom Hanks ( who's gotten awfully chubby since Forrest Gump ran across America) sort of drifted through the movie. His character wasn't much of a protagonist. He just sort of got drawn into this adventure then reacted most of the time. Jean Reno (so great in the Professional) was one of the dumbest cops I've ever seen in a movie. The guy that played Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina, I'm not an idiot) wasn't very creepy and neither was Paul Bettany (although he does have A Beautiful Mind)...but if you like seeing a skinny naked albino whip himself, this is the flick for you, my friend.

If going to a movie and watching actors try really hard to make two and a half hours of expository dialogue sound interesting is your cup of tea, by all means check this one out. If you're interested in all the secret Christian Conspiracy stuff (which I do think is fascinating in its own right), then I guess you might enjoy seeing all the dots connected onscreen. But if you like good movies, go back to that last paragraph where I listed the cast and rent those. This one, you can skip.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bear eats Monkey

This is the strangest news story I've read in quite some time. I believe in my heart that the rest of the monkeys will form a gang and, not to long from now, I'll be posting another link entitled "Monkey gang takes revenge!"

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And now, some reviews

While I was at the comics shop for Free Comic Book Day, I picked up a few titles I was interested in. I don't usually do reviews but after posting shorter versions of my thoughts to an email discussion group I belong to, I figured I'd flesh them out a bit and post them here. Just for a change of pace. Anyway, here's what I read...


I don't know jack about what's going on in the Marvel Universe these days but I picked this up out of curiosity over all the hype. When did Namorita get all blue? When did the New Warriors become morons? I've missed out on all these developments since Marvel stopped sending me free comics. Anyway, I liked the total art package in this book, I thought the sum was superior to the individual pencils or inks or colors. It all worked well together somehow and the coloring in particular gave the book a very distinct look. I like Mark Millar as a writer although I've read very little of his Marvel stuff, just a few issues of Ultimates and his Wolverine run. However, his Superman Tangent book from DC years ago was stellar. So I consider myself a fan of his work.

So without knowing much of what's happening at Marvel lately, I still enjoyed this book for what it was. It wasn't the next Watchmen (although it does crib a major plot point) and I don't necessarily feel like I've got to rush out for the next issue but this was solid stuff. It was paced well and had that big event feel it needs for this giant crossover attempt to connect with readers.

For what it's worth, I'm on Captain America's side. How anyone can not take Cap's side in any sort of conflict is beyond me. He's the most principled and trustworthy character in the Marvel Universe. You know if Captain America is fighting for something, he's fighting the good fight. So fall in line, ya bunch of yahoos. I give this comic a B-.

Speaking of Captain America, I picked up the Winter Soldier trade because I like Ed Brubaker, I like Steve Epting's art, and I've heard really good things about it. I read it in three sittings and am glad to say I really enjoyed it. It was more plot heavy than I thought it would be, meaning it seemed less decompressed than I assumed it would be. Which is a good thing, I like to feel like I'm getting some bang for my comics buck!

It seems to me that writing Captain America is a pretty tricky beast. He doesn't really have a lot of internal conflict to play off of and it's not like a writer can dig in and deconstruct the character himself or do anything subversive with him. At the end of the day, Cap is going to be the same solid, decent icon that he was when he woke up, still fighting the good fight. Luckily for Brubaker, the plot he's set in motion around Cap makes up for it. It's one of the best Captain America stories to come along in a long time and Brubaker has been given a lot of latitude to play with the classic elements of Cap's world in some pretty surprising ways. Killing the Red Skull and bringing back Bucky...those are HUGE changes he's been allowed to make and as a result, it feels like anything can happen. It's as good as Cap has ever been in my opinion. I'm looking forward to picking up the next collection and seeing what happens next. I'll give this one a grade of 'A'.

Lastly, I grabbed issues 13 and 14 of Astonishing X-men. I wasn't too impressed. I read most of the first twelve issues of this book and loved it in the beginning, mainly because for the first time in years, it 'felt' like the X-Men I grew up reading. The longer it's gone, the less engaging I've found it to be. Maybe it's because it takes so long for anything important in terms of plot to happen.

The Kitty and Colossus stuff is the most interesting to me. Both characters are better when they're playing off of each other and they were long overdue to get back together. Also, I'm curious to see which mutant will be revealed as the one that will destroy the alien world. Most of it felt pretty flat to me, though. Also, I think John Cassaday is great but he's phoning this stuff in. Maybe he's got too much on his plate these days but it looks rushed and there are even less backgrounds than you usually find in a Cassaday book. Disappointingly, I give this a grade of 'C'. Considering the talent involved in putting it out, that's kind of a shame.

So that's what I'm reading lately. Anyone else?


Monday, May 08, 2006

Free Comic Book Day report

Well, Free Comic Book Day has once again come and gone. Like drug dealers, comic shops across the nation handed out free samples of their wares in the hopes of hooking new, steady customers. And I was once again there to witness the scene firsthand.

I've been sick the past three or four days and I had some serious internal debate as to whether I should just cancel my appearance at Sarge's Comics, stay home, and enjoy a combination of work and rest for the day. I don't really enjoy doing signings and wasn't feeling at my most social. The people at Sarge's are very nice though and I would have felt guilty if I had stood them up, especially at the last I stopped feeling bad for myself, jumped in my car, and made the 45 minute trek down to New London. I did get there about a half an hour late though, sorry. I was waiting for my underwear to finish drying.

The staff had laid things out differently this year although to describe the layout would be too hard for me so I'm going to skip it. I was seated next to a fellow named Ben from Wizard Magazine and a guy named Steve who published a comic called the OZ Squad. I already know Ben a little bit but Steve was new (to me) and seemed to be a nice guy.

It looked like a decent turnout, lots of families bringing their kids in for free swag. The stormtroopers were there. Even Lord Vader himself made an appearance. No one really seemed to know who I was or what I did, which was fine because I was kind of low energy anyway. All told, I think I signed maybe fifteen comics over the two hours I was there.

Giant mosquito and former pro wrestler Ox Baker, whom I used to know fairly well, made a point to say hi and instantly started harassing me in his Ox Baker way about doing a comic with him as the star. After over ten years of my saying "NO," Ox is nothing if not eternally optimistic. Armed with the experience gained from years of handling Ox, I subtly passed him off to Ox-handling rookie Ben from Wizard. Seeing him helpless in the Ox-slaught, I stepped back in and directed the conversation away from Ox's dream comic and towards which wrestlers could have kicked Ox's ass back in the day if they really fought. Lou Thesz was the one he seemed to respect the most for his real life ass kicking ways. When the free pizza arrived, Ox vanished to get his share. If it's free, the Ox is there.

I gave a page of artwork to a fellow named Murray who was back from Iraq and figuring out his next move in life. Store employee and friend Malinda threw me a couple of pieces of pizza and made sure I was alive every once in a while until my time was up. Brotherhood of the Whooping Stick member Brad popped in towards the end and we grabbed a quick bite of Thai food, at which point my FCBD '06 experience came to an end.

I decided on the drive home that this will be my last FCBD signing. It's a good cause and I genuinely like the Sarge's people but these signings, both in stores and at conventions, are something I enjoy less and less each time I do them. I'm not sure why except that it doesn't feel natural to my personality.

Of course, when they ask me next year, enough time will have gone by that I'll probably forget I decided I don't want to do signings anymore. So I'll probably say yes and write something just like this after FCBD 07. In fact, I guarantee I can just cut and paste the Ox Baker paragraph and save myself the typing time.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


This Saturday is the third or fourth annual Free Comic Book Day, I've lost track of how many there have been so far. I'll be appearing from 12:30-3:00 at Sarge's Comics in New London to support the cause. If you're in the area, come on down and pick up some free comics. If you happen to be a friend of mine, you can buy me lunch afterwards.

No matter where you live, if you have a comic shop in your town, stop in on Saturday. FCBD is a nationwide event. While you may see many people dressed as Stormtroopers, don't let that deter you. FCBD is a big day for the closet Stormtroopers; it's their chance to wear that insanely expensive armor and let their geek flags fly high. So don't throw things at them, just join the celebration.

BTW, thanks to Chris for the help w/ the links. I followed those instructions to the letter but my links haven't appeared. So here's a few websites I enjoy if anyone wants to check them out:

Take care, thanks for reading.