Saturday, October 15, 2011

New York Comic Con 2011 -- Saturday (officially Day 3; my Day 2)

Um, did you notice how in yesterday's post, I mentioned that I hadn't slept the night before?  Consequently, I ended up...sleeping all day today.  No Bone 20th Year Anniversary Retrospective with Jeff Smith present, Green Lantern: The Animatd Series presentation by Bruce Timm, DC All Access Superman and Justice League panels, Adult Swim's Delocated panel, or MTV's new Beavis and Butt-head presentation by Mike Judge for me!  But my overall physical health and well-being is probably the better for it. 

I still have tomorrow, including the screening of a Jim Henson documentary!  (Joe and David, it wasn't intentional on my part that you missed me today -- I'll be in touch tomorrow!)


Friday, October 14, 2011

New York Comic Con 2011 -- Friday (officially Day 2; my Day 1)

Attended two panels:

1. Will Eisner's The Spirit and Bob Kane's The Batman with Michael Uslan, Dennis O'Neil, Paul Levitz, and Chris Couch; moderated by Danny Fingeroth.  Ostensibly, a discussion and analysis of the parallels between Eisner's and Kane's careers and each of their iconic most creations.  Because the panelists were seated at the same level as the crowd and I was at the back, I couldn't see all of them and wasn't always sure who was talking.  Early on, I believe it was Couch and Levitz who were dwelling on Eisner's and Kane's business savvy, and I though we were heading off-track.  But when O'Neil took over and asserted how the earliest Batman were clearly pulp-derived, while Spirit stories "read practically like Yiddish fables", I knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

I'm pretty sure it was Levitz (though it could've been O'Neil) who was explaining how the creation of the rift between Kane and Bob Finger over their versions of Batman's played out in interviews with and letters from both in fanzines of the '60's.  To contextualize how it was via such venues and during that era that comic creators were first uncovered and celebrated, Levitz (I'm 90% sure it was him, anyway) gave the example of the identifying of a "great funny animal artits who'd created all these characters" dispelled the myth (that the studio deliberately perpetuated) that Walt Disney himself drew all the Disney comics...I was giddy waiting for Paul to say it, and sure enough, "Carl Barks" was uttered.  Right there, my day was mad.e

The Q&A degenerated into persistent inquiries about "who really" created Batman.  Levitz and O'Neil implored that it doesn't matter and isn't that black-and-white, as, from their decades of writing comics, when working as part of a creative team where things are clicking, it's not always clear afterwards how and in what order things transpired.  Levitz censured, "Look, it's fun to speculate and bet on it from out there on the sidelines, but really, that's not what it should be all about."  (Paraphrased.)  This appeared to evoke some offended murmuring in parts of the audience, but I don't think that was Levitz' intention -- Levitz proceeded to beg, "The amazing thing is that 70 years later, we're here, still talking about this stuff"...over and over, several times, with slight variations in the wording.  It started to feel like an effusive, over-the-top, histrionic display of sentiment and idealism, but I was completely on board with what he was trying to say.

2. DC All Access: Green Lantern with Brian Cunningham, Geoff Johns, Tony Bedard, and Peter Tomasi; hosted by Bob Wayne.  As the whole point of the New 52 is to be an unquestionable jumping-on point, I've finally started reading the Green Lantern titles.  But they're still very much informed by what's preceded them, so I'm still sketchy on a lot of the characters and the mythology, so for a lot of the panel, I didn't really know what was being talked about...and, to top it off, the fact that I hadn't slept at all last night finally seemed to catch up with me, and I thought my head was about to just plain drop.  But things really became lively with the sense of polarization when, during the Q&A, when a fan asked about the specifics of Kyle Rayner's retconning, Bedard and Tomasi started extolling that the relaunch has been freeing and has opened up lots of exciting possibilities, advising that fans shouldn't get so hung-up on continuity. 

Bought wayyyy too many comics.  Won't list all of them, or show all of the covers, but here's some choice example's of the day's haul:

Weathered the dealers' floor and had dinner with Joe Torcivia and David Gerstein.  Lots of talking about comics, including, naturally, David and Joe enthusiastically recounting some of their freelance experiences, and David his work at Gemstone.  All sorts of insight gleaned. 

Very much in need of some sleep.  More panels, comics, and hanging out with friends 'til the end of the weekend!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Less than a week away!

If all goes according to plan, I'll be at New York Comic Con next weekend, doing what Don Rosa's seen doing here, at this year's San Diego Comic Con:

(If this isn't foreign territory to you and aren't sure what exactly he's doing...he's carefully browsing through boxes of old comics, looking for ones that he wants to buy!  This is at one of the many, many dealers on the convention floor.) 

(This picture was taken at last year's San Diego Comic Con.  Someone at DCF linked to where they'd found this picture, but it part of a lonnnnnnnng thread of pictures, and I had wait a long time for the whole page to load, and scroll forever to find this one.  So, I wasn't eager to bookmark the page -- snatched up this picture, and got out of there!  But because of that experience, regretably, I can't give credit for this photo to where it's due.)  (Well, I could, if I really, really felt like sifting through DCF to find the thread where I'd originally followed the afore-mentioned link, and enduring that bloated photo thread again to single out whoever posted this one of Don [amongst hundreds of others...])

It's not likely that Rosa will be at the New York convention.  But I really hope that I get to meet him someday, and show him my very first comic (same copy!), Uncle Scrooge's Adventures #5, which featured "Last Sled to Dawson", one of his earliest stories!

European Disney Afternoon Comics

This is a post I've been intending to create for a while.  And will there ever be more of a prime opportunity to sort-of tie-in with Geo's new review of "The Curse of Flabbergé"?  More importantly...could there conceivably ever be a better opportunity?  Why, of course not!  :D  (Though perhaps it's not so appropriate, as Geo might not be too big on the heavy Disney Afternoon orientation of this post...)

The Inducks page for "Flabbergé" cites "Disney Europe" as the story's "origin", and "1992" as its "Date of first publication".  Scroll down to its publication history, which is divided up by country, and you'll see that it was printed in Finland, France, and Italy in 1992.  So, which was first?

In Finland's case, we see that the story was printed in Disney waltit #3.  Note that the only publication date given is a generic "1992".

On the other hand, it first appeared in France in Disney Club #6, and the entry gives a much more specific date: February 1992.

Finally, Inducks dates its premiere Italian printing, in Fumetti Disney Club #2, to September 1992. 

So, nless I'm misinformed about February preceding September during the course of a calendar year, we can ascertain that France beat Italy to the punch.  ;)

And presuming that Disney waltit #3 wasn't released in January or February, (not likely, given that #1 and 2 are also generically dated "1992"), then I'd wager that the French printing was the first. 

Now, note the similiarity in the titles of the French and Italian publications, and that all three used the same cover art for the issue featuring "Curse of Flabbergé"; it would seem that these were regional versions of the same periodical, yes?

Indeed, if you peruse the Inducks pages for Disney waltit #3 and France's Disney Club #6 and play around by clicking on, each in their turn, "Previous" and "Next", you'll find that both periodicals printed the same stories, but in a different order.  (Judging by the contents of its two issues, it looks like the same was intended for Italy's Fumetti Disney Club, but Inducks turns up no further issues.)

What I'm getting at is... for a hardcore vintage-era Disney Afternoon fan like me, a glimpse of these series is like a peek into a long-lost, long-sought treasure trove.

Let's take stock, shall we.  We'll stick with the French Disney Club, since that entails a couple curiosities that the Finnish version doesn't.



Disney Club #1 (France, January 1991) features a 44-page Rescue Rangers story, "L'ombre du croisé".  Inducks says that the stories "origin" is the mysterious Disney Europe. 

Inducks' scan of the first page of a version printed in Spain:


Disney Club #2 (France, September 1992) featured a second 44-page Rescue Rangers story, "La légende du Silverhorn".  This one also "originates" with Disney do the stories featured in all successive issues, except where I'll note.  (Spoiler: #5 and 7 didn't use Disney Europe-"originating" material.)

Inducks' scan of the first page of ""La légende du Silverhorn" is from Sweden:


Disney Club #3 (France, September 1993...wait, huh?!  That's later than the date for #6!  This is completely out-of-whack...okay, scratch everything I've said about dates so far!!!) stayed true to tradition, offering yet another 44-page Rescue Rangers story, "Le sommeil hanté".

(At this point, for efficiency's sake, I'll attribute all of the scans in this post to Inducks.  I'd be lost without them.)  The scan of the first page of "La légende du Silverhorn" is actually procured from the French version, and so, for once, the cover that we're showing is unified with the interior page that we're showing:

A note of more contemporary relevance: I am betting that one of these three Rescue Rangers stories is the one "that had never been printed in the U.S." and qualified as "a fun story with great art" that when he was still at BOOM!, Aaron Sparrow had wanted and tried hsi damnedest to serialize in four issues of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories -- as he recounts in the second post in this thread at The Old Haunt.  (He's awesome for sharing such behind-the-scenes stories.  And it's even greater that he's promised to one day, possibly in the near-future, tell even more!)


Disney Club #4 (September, so #4 pre-dates #2 and 3?  *commence screenplay mode*  Possessed Little Girl: Something's not right here... *end screenplay mode*) featured a 41-page TaleSpin story, "The Volcano of Gold".

I actually know what the title translates to, because this story was, until "Curse of Flabbergé", the only one of these stories to have been imported to the U.S., appearing in (and even represented on the cover of) Disney's Colossal Comics Collection #5 (September 1992):

In light of me actually being acquainted with this story, its fitting for this post that Inducks' scan of the first page is from this U.S. version.  (Squint real hard, and you can read the credits in the margin.  Bobbi J.G. Weiss provided the English dialogue -- in those days, she'd claimed TaleSpin as her domain!  Rightfully so -- without the least bit of strain, you can hear the show's voice actors delivering  these sharply-written "lines"!)

I'd always thought "Volcano" was a fantastic, high-flying (no pun intended) adventure story with exquisite art that nailed the aesthetic of the TV show (enhanced  by the rich coloring).  (However, on the occassion of recently re-reading it, I found the ending to be more than a tad silly and far-fetched...but overall, it still stands as an impressive effort!)  I'd pined for more like it, anguishing over the fact that, wherever it'd come from, there very well might've been!  (Okay, I'm exaggerating in my use of words like "pining" and "anguishing"...for[melo]dramatic effect!)

Thus, I was very excited to find these Inducks pages.  And I made a special point of re-reading Uncle Scrooge #394 and 395 (thanks, David!) when I realized that "Curse of Flabbergé" was part of this lineage.  (Which the other DuckTales stories featured in Uncle Scrooge #392-399 are not.)

It turns out that "Volcano of Gold" was the only TaleSpin story that the shadowy "Disney Europe" entity produced for the Disney Club franchise.  (Thus, there weren't "more like that" after all -- at least in terms of TaleSpin.)  (The quality of "Volcano of Gold" is a big part of what inclines me to think that it was one of Disney Europe's three 44-page Rescue Rangers stories that Sparrow was referring to in the above-linked Old Haunt thread.) 


Nonetheless, Disney Club #5 (July, should I even bother citing Inducks' dates at this point?) was also devoted to TaleSpin, but the story featured was a translation of Bobbi J.G. Weiss and Oscar F. Saavedra's "Flight of the Sky-Raker" two-parter from Disney Comics' TaleSpin ("ongoing" series) #1 and 2).


#6, of course, we've already covered.  (It was comprised by "The Curse of Flabbergé", remember?)


Disney Club #7 (July 1992...and #6 was February 1992 -- finally, something that makes linear sense!) appropriated another story of Disney Comics/U.S. origin -- John Blaire Moore's adaptation of "Darkly Dawns the Duck", which had comprised Disney Comics' Darkwing Duck four-issue mini-series (November 1991-February 1992).


Disney Club #8 (November 1993...consistency!  We're on a roll, folks!) resumed the use of content produced by Disney Europe, presenting, in contrast to #7, an original Darkwing Duck story, "Mystermask règle l'addition".  (From the covers, have you picked up on that "Mystermask" is what they call DW in France?) 

Page one.  Spain again.

It's a moot point now, but I'd meant to urge BOOM! to commission a good translation and sharp English-language dialogue for this story, and include the results in a second volume of Darkwing Duck Classics.


#9 and 11 eschewed The Disney Afternoon, opting for material based on two of Disney's "blockbuster hit" animated feature films (that I won't name, so that my blog will never come up in searches for them!).  (Or, taking a cue from Geo and employing, er, conversational language: fuck that shit.)  #10, however, gave the spotlight to Goof Troop.  Like its predecessors, I'm not going to include any images, just because I don't want people to come to my blog and see Goof Troop...but I will state that I'm really curious to know what someone did in the course of a Goof Troop story that long!


If while at Inducks' entry for #11 (I emphasize: one of those issues that doesn't concern us...), you're to click "Next", you're brought to their entry for the first issue of a different French anthology series, which Inducks denotes as being entitled Hors Collection.  Interestingly, #1 showcased another energized forty-plus-page romp that we Americans were treated to in Disney's Colossal Comics Collection (in #9, to be exact): the Romano Scarpa-drawn Uncle Scrooge story "The Euro Disneyland Adventure".  Which was presumably created -- quite possibly commissioned -- as a tie-in with the opening of...well, come on, I think you can guess...  ;)

Is there a reason Inducks favor the Colossal Comics Collection versions, when applicable?  Page one:


I really would like to read those three Rescue Rangers stories and that Darkwing story.  Hell, the Goof Troop story, too.  Finding and purchasing them online might be tricky (dealing with international shipping would be near-inevitable, but not insurmountable.  Acquiring the relevant [insert language here]-to-English dictionaries and Beginner's Guide to [insert language here]-type books would be the easy part.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cantus, addendum.

The episode's finale, when all have "found their song":

At 1:21...WOAH, Jerry's voice really does record well.

This and "Let Me Be Your Song" (or whatever its actual title is) are probably my two favorite musical numbers from the show's entire run, really.

The most honest thing I can do is gush about this stuff.  Have I attained this level of fervour?  ;)  (Thanks, GeoX!)


There's nothing arbitrary about my Blogger user icon. 

Since my post about "The Lost Treasure of the Fraggles", if I was ever again going to do another one about Fraggle Rock, it was going to be about a later first season episode, "The Minstrels"...and/or, possibly -- all within the same post -- all of the episodes to feature the character named Cantus.

Consider this post a belated recognition of the 75th anniversary of the birth of Jim Henson (9/24/36)...really, as temporal matters go, when will there be a more appropriate occassion?  (Ideally, I wouldn't be a few days late with this...but on the 24th, I was preoccupied being a groomsman at my sister's wedding.  For the record, I -- completely unexecptedly -- cried when my mother and grandmother walked my sister down the aisle.  The proclamative, trumpet-dominated musical accompaniment played no small part in my reaction.  Evidence that to rival movies, real life needs to be scored.)

Actually, I was alerted to Jim's 75th birthday by -- of all things -- a Facebook memo reposted early last week by a friend from high school named Jeff, which I shall reproduce here:

"Next Saturday will be the 75th Birthday of Jim Henson, Creator of the Muppets!
If you are a fan, I ask you change your profile picture to one of your favorite Henson creations for the next week, or until the new film is released in October.
I would love to see my Facebook friends list have nothing but Muppets staring back at me. :) Repost if you like."

On said friend's "Wall", I replied:

"Oh, I'll do Cantus. Totally. Cantus was performed by Jim, and made one appearance per season of Fraggle Rock. Jim was not regularly a part of the production of the show. As a sort-of wise elder/Zen master bestowing the Fraggles with his rare stopovers, Cantus was a personification of, and parallel to, Jim visting the production, and working with the performers and crew."

(FYI: As a feverous credits-studier, the preceding was something I'd discerned as a child.  Ultimately, in the Fraggle Rock DVD special features, Karen Prell made comments that vindicated my understanding of Cantus' role in the show and Jim's relation to it.)

Thus, I proceeded to change my Facebook profile picture to the same one that I use for this blog:


Then, I immediately added the following comment to Jeff's reposting of the memo:

"Done! I give you: Cantus and Jim...or, as I like to think of it: Jim and Jim."

I've had the DVD box set of the complete sires for a couple years now, and have slowly been making my way through it.  "The Minstrels" -- the very first Cantus episode -- is amongst those of which that I've most recently made it through. 

I could compose an in-depth analysis/deconstruction of the episode and of the apparently completely intentional way in which Cantus was Jim's alter ego.  And by all rights, I owe Jim everything I have to give and offer.

...but, that's the thing: I'd only come up short.  In lieu of an "essay" or "review"...and if you'll indulge me...I give you the following musical number from "The Minstrels" which the Fraggles are enchanted by their first visit from Cantus and his tribe:

[Addendum: For a day after this was first posted, I'd linked the wrong version of the video -- on that was only 35 seconds total.  D'oh!  Fixed now.  (Unfortunately, the version I'd really like to use, one that's over five minutes and includes some worthwhile character and plot exposition -- here -- has embedding disabled.)]

...okay: at the outset, the woodwind-played melody announcing the minstrels' arrival begins the spell's weaving....and from there...well, at about 1:02, Cantus -- neigh, Jim -- walks on screen, and the euphoria about 1:11, Jim begins singing, the sensation of which I'll only completely fail in describing/encapsulating...soon, at about 1:22, the grey-and-purple-hued, banjo/lute/whatever-playing Muppet joins in, and thus we have Jerry Nelson harmonizing with Jim ("A great records very well", I recall Jim -- paraphrased -- saying in a videotaped interview)...and, well, I challenge you to present me a richer sound in all audially recorded history...I mean, the peak that Jim and Jerry jointly reach throughout about, the only words I have are: wow -- glorious!

With fully admitted complete subjectivity, I say that this song/performance/video is completely life-affirming.

R.I.P., Jim.