3 of the best BATMAN Silver Age Covers!

I dislike variant covers for the same reason I dislike multiple versions of a movie, it chips away at the singular vision that is the very definition of iconic.

You think of X-MEN 137 or Spiderman 124 or DEFENDERS 52 or Detective 480 or Wonder Woman 199 (the original volume) you think of a single image, not numerous competing images.And that shared image, that shared connection, that unified concept of a thing in the audience, creates a point of zeitgeist. It is that shared conversation which is the definition of culture.

So I see the proliferation of multiple covers, while in the short term a convenient money grab to the publishers and retailers, in the long term a detriment to the growth of the industry.

Here are some classic and current covers that are bucking or have  bucked that destructive variant trend:

 

 

Batman #201Batman #204

 

Batman #212

More covers next time!

 

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Youtube Channel Roundup : On Harlan Ellison, DC Comics, Brian Michael Bendis, and SLEEPYREADER666!

This blog post is on a recent video courtesy of SLEEPY READER, via his excellent Youtube Channel. Watched it courtesy of the Youtube Channel on my Roku streaming device

SLEEPY READER 666 Vlog #76 I like the fact that Sleepy reader covers diverse content, rather than just showing you the latest comics, or variants. I like that his stories are a little deeper than that and more informed.

In his most recent episode he discusses the late great Harlan Ellison, as well as Brian Michael Bendis, and kinda wags his finger at them for being too self aggrandizing. Based on a bad meeting he had with Harlan Ellison when he was 24.

And that got me thinking about the impressions we make of a person, the life long animus, or bad impression we somehow cement of a person, based on a cursory meeting in our youth. When you might have been catching your idol on a bad day.

Evidently seeing Ellison being bombastic and vocal, an impression of Ellison was created,  a definition of Ellison based on that one meeting, that some can carry through an entire life.

It is a common mistake that young people do (I have done it), imagining that one moment is the man. A lot of people go to conventions or meet their heroes, and because the hero doesn’t say what they wanted him to say, or respond how they expected him to respond that creator is suddenly for all time, and in all things, an asshole, or pompous, or whatever.

And most of the time it is that the person may have have a bad day, or a bad interaction, or a bad lunch, or a rude fan before you, or his mind is on a personal issue at home, so perhaps he doesn’t fully pay attention to the 200th person in the line, asking  him the same stupid question, or make the same inane joke as 50 people before.

Most of us barely are able to get along with the small circle of people who make up are 9 to 5. A celebrity mutiplies those interactions by the thousands arguably, and even if he is on most of that, 99% of that time, that leaves 1% he is not going to satisfy, or be at his best for.

I’m saying that basing your view of a person on one peripheral incident, that that person arguably has forgotten, five minutes after it happened, if he were to bump into you the day after he would likely not know know you from Adam, yet for you that incident of decades ago has become a defining , enlightening moment on that person’s personality for all time.

And all of us have done this at times. It is the reckoning of someone very young, and the mistake of someone very young. We who are older, who have been on both sides of that being disappointed, and disappointing a person, should hopefully grow to know better.

 

People have bad days. You call em on it, or you don’t. But either way you let it go, and you do not try and define a person you really do not know, based on just that one incident at a convention or party.

An idol doesn’t owe you the approval of his character, he produces work, an if the work speaks to you, he’s done his job. The judging of his soul or his character is not a part of that contract we develop with those who amaze up.

I’m one of those who grew up on the work of Asimov, Bradbury, Baldwin, and Harlan Ellison. Along with a good helping of Stan Lee, and Bill Cosby and Edgar Allen poe and Electric company.

What I gained from all those influences, those creators remain. I’m an immesurably richer person for the creativity of people I know only through their work for the most part.

And if later time finds them in places far from the heroic heights we met them on, it does not change the great things their work did for us, and many like us.

It’s the concept that is lost on a witch hunt America, that a man’s evil does not erase his good. No matter how our culture of championing falls, would like it to be so. 

I think sometimes, particularly in America, we raise people up, just to tear them down. That is arguably not the way, I’m not a bandwagon guy.   Judgement not by the consensus of the media or Social media, or one cursory interaction.

We all make up opinions on people, but perhaps those opinions should be as cognizant of our own… fallibility, as we can make it. And look at the supposed sins and failings of others, always in relation to our own sins and failings.

Something I absolutely do not think is currently happening in the media.

Was Harlan Ellison a prickly, abrasive, off-putting, and arguably contrary and combative person? As someone who has listened to just about all his recordings as well as read and listened to his writings… I believe Harlan Ellison would be the first one to say Yes!!!

He famously said, something to the effect ‘I’m a snake on a rock, don’t mes with me I’ll leave you alone. Mess with me i’ll bite you and hang on.’

That was Harlan Ellison. He suffered not fools. And he believed, he believed the wrong things should be railed against.

And that fire permeated his work, like the fire of invention. Harlan Elision changed the landscape of fiction, with an almost incendiary mirror to the fallacies of our age. His DANGEROUS VISIONS, written before I was born, and that I discovered as a teen, is (I think) for most who read it… the defining anthology of an age.

And in the decades since its publication that anthology and its sequel, continue to be the standard bearer by which all future anthologies are measured.

Harlan Ellison has been chastised for having been self aggrandizing, for his ‘look at me, aren’t I great’ attitude.

I, for one, think Harlan Ellison was a great writer. And his body of work will remain… great and essential, and oddly timeless.

He in many ways was some odd ying to Ray Bradbury’s yang, both of them being the voice for reason, in a world embroiled in madness. They both were masters of the cautionary tale, and their shadow looms large in the works of popular culture to this day. Like Poe they were the masters of the short story, and those short stories will only grow more beloved and adapted in the years to come.

Was Harlan Ellison self aggrandizing. It is the poor creator who isn’t , if he wants to sell his work.

Some creators are bad or uncomfortable with it, and hire others to do it for them. Some are great at it.

Harlan Ellison in addition to being a great writer, was arguably just as great a performer and showman. Like Jim Steranko he had the circus in his blood from a young age. Likely the way such men came up, kicking down doors is the reason the world knows their name today.

So to expect them to be something meek, because you are not comfortable with their breed of strong, is both inane and arrogant.

I love reading Ellison’s Books  for the very brashness of them. and their elegance, and the breath of his imagination, all  imposed by a hard early life, where dreams and the scraping, and shouting, and biting for them was all that made them real.

The very  ‘center of attention’ nature of Ellison, that so can put off others,  is the very thing that galvanizes me to him. And is one of the reasons listening to him perform his works makes them even richer.

He was a natural performer, and one of the best audio performers. Which is surprising giving his slightly nasally voice, but him performing was the audio equivalent of the energy Jack Kirby brought to his panel breaking drawings. It was raw energy and emotion and passion.

If you only know Harlan Ellison’s fiction from just reading, pick up the audio books.

He was one of the best audio actors of the 20th century, right up there with Orson Welles, Vincent Price, James Mason, Roddy McDowell, David Birney.

The thing about Ellison, he earned the right to be proud of his work. As did Bradbury, who had his own very good tv series. And there were plenty, and remain plenty to sing the praises of Ellison’s work. i own his 50th anniversary tome. An updated followup to it, containing the newsletter and other work he did prior to his passing, I definitely look forward to.

So to bring this back, if anyone does not like people who they feels push their importance’ that is their right.

But for every one who for whatever reason finds that behaviour bragging or pitiful, there are a lot that find it neither bragging or insincere, but simply informative, and the person’s personality.

And for me, Ellison, the personality I saw as a fan, was a great personality. And God knows we could use more of his take no bs personality  now, in a world of sheep meekly being bled to death by corporate gleed and malfeasance.

I’m sure he saw in this 21st century, everything he railed against in his fiction.

People also to do a sharp, awkward pivot off Harlan Ellison to accuse Brian Michael Brendis of disappointing publisher DC  Comics, because he misled them by , like Ellison, over-hyping himself.

That is to paraphrase some complaints I have heard. I like the work of Bendis, but he is no Harlan Ellison. The two do not fit in the same sentence. But you can get the gist of the thematic comparison Sleepy was making, by checking out his channel, and the video in question at the link below.

And to be clear, i like Sleepy Reader’s channel. I think it is very informative and you should subscribe. I have enjoyed just about all his shows and find him a highly intelligent, informed and informative person, providing a wealth of great information to this niche community of Comic Book fans on Youtube.

I take the time to write this post not to highlight how all of us in this talk show age, even the most intelligent of us, have started to internalize the sloppy thinking that has brought us to an America, that is regressing rather than progressing.

 

I am reminded of an Alan Moore line, that highlights the discrepancy between the truth of who we  were as angry young men, and who we hopefully grow into being.

As angry young men we have monologues rather than a conversation.  ‘Monologues  we have mistaken for the world’ to quote Alan Moore.

In closing HUGE FAN of Harlan Ellison here, as I mentioned, I hope they will releases a 70th anniversary anthology to follow up his 50th anniversary book.

 

For those reading this who want more from the late, great Harlan Ellison, as well as some of the other greats mentioned please use the following links:

https://amzn.to/2KNsJDA

Originally published in 1962 and updated in later decades with a new introduction, Ellison Wonderland shows a vibrant young writer with a wide-ranging imagination, ferocious creative energy, devastating wit, and an eye for the wonderful and terrifying and tragic. Among the gems are ”All the Sounds of Fear,” ”The Sky Is Burning,” ”The Very Last Day of a Good Woman,” and ”In Lonely Lands.” Though they stand tall on their own merits, they also point the way to the sublime stories that followed soon after and continue to come even now, more than fifty years later.

https://amzn.to/2MDGrLa

 

https://amzn.to/2MeAHv9

A Lit Fuse is an unguarded, uncensored, unquiet tour of the life of Harlan Ellison.

In late 2011 Harlan Ellison the multi-award-winning writer of speculative fiction and famously litigious personality did two uncharacteristic things. First, he asked biographer Nat Segaloff if he d be interested in writing his life story. Second, he gave Segaloff full control. The result is the long-anticipated A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison. The expansive biography, which is the first such project in which Ellison has permitted large portions of his varied works to appear, is published by NESFA Press.

Segaloff conducted exhaustive interviews with Ellison over the course of five years and also spoke with many of his friends and enemies in an effort to get inside the man and pin down the best-known Harlan stories. Their wide-ranging discussions cover his bullied boyhood, his storied marriages, his fabled lawsuits, and his compulsive writing process with more depth and detail than has ever before appeared in print. But it also delves deeply into the man s deeply held principles, his fears, and the demons that have driven him all of his 83 (so far) years. Friends, colleagues, and admirers such as Neil Gaiman, Patton Oswalt, Peter David, Robert Sawyer, Michael Scott, Edward Asner, Leonard Nimoy, Ed Bryant, Alan Brennert, Robert Silverberg, and many other notables add their voices.

Along the way the reader is treated to an analysis of the Connie Willis controversy, the infamous dead gopher story, allegedly pushing a fan down an elevator shaft, and the final word on The Last Dangerous Visions. What emerges is a rich portrait of a man who has spent his life doing battle with his times and himself, always challenging his readers to reach for a higher plane and goading himself to get them there. It s funny, wise, shocking, and well, it’s Harlan.

https://amzn.to/2Me0vY7

Rediscover the Early Ellison. This collection restores to print fifteen never-collected tales from the first dozen years of his career. Hard-hitting crime stories like “Thrill Kill,” “Girl at Gunpoint,” “Kill Joy,” “Knife/Death” and “Burn My Killers!” share the table of contents with stories of betrayal, including “Death Climb,” “Riff,” “Mac’s Girl,” and “The Honor in the Dying.” And, together for the first time, Ellison’s three detective stories featuring insurance investigator Jerry Killian. Toss in the solo outing of a diminutive private dick named Big John Novak (of whom Ellison expected to write much more, but never did) and a sexy Western called “Saddle Tramp” and you’ve got quite an assemblage of tales from the seamier side of life. All that, plus “The Final Movement,” a never-before-published story from the mid-1950s. Better than a poke in the eye with a white-hot bone of Amenhotep, I think you’ll agree.

 

https://amzn.to/2Oyn6vw

Harlan Ellison is probably best known as a script writer for sci-fi and fantasy movies and TV series such as the original Outer Limits, The Hunger, Logan’s Run, and Babylon Five. But his range is much broader than that, encompassing stories, novels, essays, reviews, reminiscences, plays, even fake autobiographies. Essential Ellison includes contains 74 unabridged works, including such classics as “A Boy and His Dog,” “Xenogenesis,” and “Mefisto in Onyx.” Includes black-and-white photos.

https://amzn.to/2KQ2Z9I

 

 

Best to any one reading this!

 

Favorite Directorial Debuts of the 21st Century!

I recently did a post highlighting some of the best directorial debuts of the last century. A lot of classic greats such as Orson Welles  CITIZEN KANE, Branagh’s HENRY V, Ossie Davis’ COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (which for the time when it was made, 1970, was really revolutionary as far as staging chase scenes. It’s often over looked in great car chase films, however it is one of the first and best. And the movie as a whole is disarming, tinges of heart felt humor in it, but also a surprising bit of wrath, brutality and action).

This time around I wanted to cover some of the best directorial debuts of the still relatively new 21st century.

In our fragmented increasingly monotheistic film landscape, the importance of film that comes outside of the ever repressive Disney structure has never been more important (shame on you Disney for firing James Gunn. And shame on you Twitter for not deleting ten year old quotes when asked, and instead holding on to quotes and allowing them to be militarized and sold to neo-conservative/neo-nazi hatchet men with a desire to use social media, the stupidity of the masses, and the immorality and venality of corporations,  to destroy any and all opposition to their madness.)

So until Disney is broken up by Anti-Trust laws like it needs to be, we need alternatives to standard mass media. We need streaming and VOD, and that’s where the interesting films and filmmaker get a chance to have a life, and earn an income. We need a new generation of great and gusty filmmakers, and I am happy to say they are out there.

So without further ado, here are the best Feature film directorial debut of the 21st century:

Serenity

Serenity (2005)

15 | 119 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Director: Joss Whedon

Following (1998)

15 | 69 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller Director: Christopher Nolan

Intruders PosterINTRUDERS (2015) –

Director:

Adam Schindler

 

The Evil Within PosterTHE EVIL WITHIN (2017) – It is NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET but instead of a slasher film, is a perverted episode of TWILIGHT ZONE. A little known movie but worth seeking out.  Like most of these films it can be seen if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Director:

Andrew Getty

The Monster Project (2017)

THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

Director:

Victor Mathieu

last_will_and_testament_of_rosalind_leigh_xlg
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH (2012)

Director:

Rodrigo Gudiño  – To date the only feature film by Rodrigo Gudino, I love this film. However, It is one of the few director’s commentary I do not like, as his take on the movie runs contrary to the wonderfully unique atmosphere the film creates, and really talks you out of liking the movie, and his interpretation takes the magic, and wonderful horrific atmosphere. So a rare case of watch the movie, but avoid the special features and commentary. And I typically LOVE Commentaries.

Most Beautiful Island (2017)MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND-  Wow. I didn’t know at all where this movie was going. And that is how I suggest you go into it. Do not watch trailers or read anything else beyond this on it. I will say the opening pre-credit sequence…very masterfully done. Robert Bresson is arguably one of the greatest directors ever, and he mastered what is considered the empty frame, or the pregnant frame.  He created the camera opening on a vacant scene, and building expectation as you waited for that space to be filled. The opening of this movie has some of that Bressonian genius. But pushes it somewhere odd, depending who you are, and what you bring to the film, that opening scene may highlight how almost on an instinctual level their is a vouyeristic and somewhat predatory nature to how we look at people in groups, and what people we focus on. It is hard to explain, but you will arguably feel it in the motion and lack of motion of the camera in that opening sequence. And ends just as brilliantly and conflictedly.  A great film by star and first time director Ana Asensio.

JOHN WICK

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER

THE WITCH
SOUTHBOUND
STOMPING GROUND
CRAWL OR DIE
DEVOURED
CALL ME KING
A MESSAGE FROM THE KING
ABSENTIA
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
EUROPA REPORT
FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY
AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR
THE TALL MAN
BONE TOMAHAWK
PONTY POOL
UNDER THE SKIN
THE ARROYO
BOY WONDER
Honorable mentions: IT FOLLOWS unfortunately is the 2nd film of its Director, or it would be at the top of this list. I consider it (along with A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT) one of the greatest Horror films made since Carpenter’s 1980s output.

CURRENTLY WATCHING : Youtube Comic Book Channel 64 PAGE SPECIAL

CURRENTLY WATCHINGWATCHING

64 PAGE SPECIAL – Snarky. I’m generally not a fan of snarky. Too often it is a lot of noise and posturing trying to cover up for a lack of substance. But 64 Page Special has great coverrs to show, and he is smart enough to realize YEAR ONE is the best Batman storyline.

 

Recommended shows: BEST COVERS OF 2017 (Introducing me to WONDER WOMAN 151 is achievement enough. See I just did Snarky. 🙂 ), ROOM TOUR ( Bill Cosby FATHERHOOD is a book I really like. Now I know 64 Page being a staunch republican just put the book there to be snarky. But I’m owning it!

Anyone who has followed this blog knows where I stand on Bill Cosby, and this witch hunt conviction. It is a very good book, and the fact that his children have tragically died before him is a horror I would not wish on anyone. That he has had to deal with his latest loss, in the midst of trial and conviction by Yoiutube and Twitter is truly unimaginable. A bit of a tangent there. I do that.

Anyhow that book and the I-SPY dvds and Comics proudly adorn my bookshelf. ).

For a less politically incorrect opinion I also recommend checking out his TOP TEN JUSTICE LEAGUE COVERS episode. Oh and lest you think I am a mindless champion for 64 PAGE SPECIAL, HE railed against   Barry Windsor Smith loving Kirby’s art and imagination but bemoaning Kirby’s childish writing.

Windsor Smith was/is right. 64 PAGE lists the deep themes that permeate Kirby’s storytelling, relatively classic themes, especially in his Fourth World series, as a rebuttal against the complaint of weak writing.

Uhh— no.

No. A book or movie or comic could have really great ideas, really interesting and innovative themes, but still suffer from poor execution of those themes. Poor writing.

I do not hate the writing of Kirby, I FIND HIS EXPLOSION OF IDEAS AND CONCEPTS COMPELLING, and from decades of working with Stan Lee I think he learned plotting. Stan Lee the personality has overshadowed Stan Lee the writer. Read some of his scripts from the Atlas years, prior to Stan out of necessity creating the Marvel methoid, this guy could write anything. And he could write it all well. So Kirby learned the gist of plotting from Stan, enough to get people turning pages, but as far as giving character’s voices, the actual scripting, Kirby’s writing is not going to be confused with great. His writing was clunky. But just the share energy of his creative process, and his images, lets you gloss over that.

 

 

Like everyone else I like Kirby’s 70s FOURTH WORLD and CAPTAIN AMERICA but it is hard to argue they are more spectacle than memorable dialog/storyline.

To paraphrase a vice presidential debate.

” I knew the FANTASTIC FOUR  I was a Friend of Stan and Jack”s FF, and you Fourth World… are no FF.’

Do your homework if you don’t get the reference.

Sheesh… kids.

 

Well enough praising this channel? Get on board using the link below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=64pagespecial

 

And if you dug this post support it by buying your next pair of pretty phenomenal and CORD FREE clippers at the link below. I have had a few clippers because I am frugal and paying to cut my hair every two weeks is simply ludicrous.

It is enough paying to get my lawn cut, so also paying to get my hair cut is a bridge too far.

Plus my Dad, also being frugal, would also cut my hair. Some days were better than others. :). So yeah, frugal and cutting your own hair kinda runs in the old paternal blood.

Now do not get it twisted, I am pro barbershop, and when you are going that special somewhere having a pro to fade it up, no replacement. That said my hair grows quick, I literally need a haircut every two weeks or you start mistaking me for Bigfoot in the old Six Million Dollar Man TV show (Youtube it, there’s a nice two parter. Plus I am a HUGE Bigfoot fan. Wow. That may be something not everyone says. Anyhow….) , so since I am not trying to put the Barber’s kids thru college… I need to cut my hair most of the time.

Traditional barbershop clippers like Brawn, those big, heavy, and prone to getting hot stalwarts, are what I have primarily used in my decades of cutting my own hair. However they are prone to breaking and slipping a gear after a few years of decent service.

One such ‘dead in the water’ incident left me sans clippers, with my normal barber unavailable.

So I turned to Amazon for clipper reviews, and Fakespot to help me sort real reviews from the raskh of fake, maketing team and robot generated, five star reviews.

The reseasrching led me to CIWELLU 4 IN 1 Professional Hair Trimmer.

A petite cordless USB powered clipper, I was dubios of this thing being able to cut my redolent mane (it’s the Olive Oil Baby!), however much to my amazement this little petite beast, that looked like it would be more at home shaving a woman’s legs, not only cut my hair, but cut it effortlessly and closely. Gone was the muscle fatiguing battle with a machine that made as much noise, and gave off as much vibration as a lawn mower. Gone was the cumbersome life and death stuggle with a wrist snapping behemoth, this experience was something new.

Almost zen like relaxing. And quick.

Now I can’t speak for the longevity of these clippers, I have only had them a few months, but just for sheer performance and comfort and lack of noise, if these were to break tomorrow, my first desire would be to go right back to this design, if not this exact one.

My experience has been that positive.

And no, no one is paying me to say this, that is my honest opinion. And because it is my honest opinion, I have no problem listing this item on my blog. You buy it you get a great product, in my opinion, and you generate a few pennies for this blog to keep the proverbial lights on.

Buy it here:

https://amzn.to/2OrcWfS

 

 

Win-win. 

An alien concept among the moronic alt-right idiots who come to the genre of superhero comics, a genre that is in its ORIGINS is about social justice warriors, from its creators to its creations, and complain about the medium being what it has always been… about social justice. If you do not like it, get the eff out of comics. I’ m sure you can find a great copy of Mein Kampf to read instead.

I’ m looking at you WE DO NOT LOVE COMICS and COMICS AND SAY NO TO DIVERSITY and CAPTAIN CUMMINNNNN. (not actual names, I just made some up out of the blue. Any resemblance to any real channel is purely coincidental)

Also personal favor, stop subscribing to hate channels. What’s a hate channel? Generally any channel using the acronyms SJW as a curse word in their click bait titles. 🙂 The fact that these trolling abusive channels  (You are going to attack Mark Waid? Mark effin Waid? Ta-Nehis Coates – all that hate speech, and attacks on him, from people who generally speaking do not even read the comics. They look at the covers, they read and bandwagon jump other people’s opinion, and they stir up dirt for dirts sake. Talk radio dynamix, ported to youtube. Now the much maligned , don’t publish i, Captain America run has begun, and everyone who actually reads it, likes the book.

 

So these hate Youtube channels having  thousands of views is down to too many good people, shopping and subscribing by the lowest common denominator. Don’t.  Do what I do, do not subscribe to them, and after you have for yourserlf seen what their channel is about, stop watching it.

Consign them to insignificance.

That is the major issue of the 21st century. We have confused the noise, with the signal.

So yeah, instead subscribe to 64 page Special, as of this writing, his signal is strong.

 

 

 

 

 

Youtube Channel of the Day : FIRST WE FEAST with Sean Evans

Today’s BEST YOUTUBE Channel and WHY

NAME : FIRST WE FEAST

GENRE : FOOD/INTERVIEW

 

 

FIRST WE FEAST – An amicable host and a truly intriguing concept, interviewing your favorite celebrity from various walks of life, while they also endure a gastronomic challenge, makes for a surprisingly good show. And what elevates this beyond simple ‘prank’ nonsense, is the host does his homework and asks erudite, humanistic, and interesting questions. Questions the stars seemingly have wished people took the time to ask previously. The Henry Rollins, John Mayer, Tyra Banks, Michael B. Jordan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chris Jericho, and Coyote Peterson episodes are particularly good ones to start with.

GRADE : A must watch show. Along with Marc Maron’s WTF and John Suintres WORD BALLOON  these non traditional, new media interview shows are FAR superior to what traditional tv offers. B+/A-.

https://www.firstwefeast.com