Archive for July, 2009

Lubbock's Comics Connections: Jack Tippit

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything on our semi-regular series on current and former Lubbockites who’ve worked in comics, cartooning, and animation. Today, let’s take a look at Jack Tippit.

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Jack Tippit was a syndicated cartoonist whose work included the comic strips “Henry” and “Amy.” He also drew the comic strip “Dr. Bill” and a weekly panel called “Family Flak.”

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He was born in 1923 and attended Texas Tech before transferring to Syracuse University, where he got his degree in Fine Arts. During World War II, he served in the Air Force for four years, doing 46 combat missions as a B-24 pilot in the Southwest Pacific. During the Korean War, he also served as a jet pilot.
 
His cartoons appeared over a 30-year span in magazines including The New Yorker, Ladies’ Home Journal, Look and The Saturday Evening Post.

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Tippit helped found the Museum of Cartoon Art in 1974 and was its first director, serving until 1979. He also served on the National Cartoonists Society Board of Governors and was its general membership chairman, first vice president and president. He died in 1994 at the age of 70.

I understand at least some of his family members may still live in Lubbock.

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Golden Girls and Metal Men

Let’s take a quick look at two of the newest comics put out by Marvel to commemorate their 70th anniversary.

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All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

This one has a number of stories in it — two of them new, two classic. Our lead story focuses on the Blonde Phantom, an unpowered Golden Age crimefighter. In a change from the previous stories in this series, this particular story isn’t set in the ’40s — it’s been updated to the present day. The Blonde Phanton, now retired from crimefighting to work as a legal secretary, learns of the murder of an old friend, comforts his wheelchair-bound widow, and resolves to track down his killer. She puts on the slinky red dress and domino mask she wore as a superhero and “interrogates” a bunch of lowlifes. And what she eventually discovers leads her to a very unexpected suspect.

Our second new story is by humorist Michael Kupperman — it’s about the very short-lived but very bizarre character called Marvex the Super Robot. Marvex is a robot from the fifth dimension who has a human-looking face and hair — but he’s very obviously made of gray metal. Despite this, he runs around in a suit like he’s got a real secret identity. He encounters beautiful women who express romantic interest in him, which he dissuades by telling them he can’t have anything to do with them because he is Marvex the Super Robot. Then he takes off his clothes to show them. And while this is augmented by a lot of goofball silliness about button-up socks and a villain named Ingrediento who was born of a sandwich, it’s still extremely true to the original “Marvex” stories…

…which are also reprinted here in all their utterly mad glory. How mad is it? Check out the final three panels of the very first Marvex story:

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Marvex, the Lubbock Police Department would like to speak with you. Do you have your sexually oriented business permit?

And again, check out that final caption:

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That’s just about the weirdest caption ever. The picture is odd enough, but the caption just pushes it to a whole new level of whacko. I love it.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The plotline and artwork for the Blonde Phantom story are just wonderful, the new Marvex story is entirely hilarious, and the two Marvex reprints are also great bonuses. Go pick this one up.

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USA Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1

This comic focuses on an old character called the Destroyer. We follow a German reporter, loyal to his home country but opposed to the Nazis — just not opposed enough to do anything serious to stop them. He gets kidnapped by the Destroyer, a foreign spy captured by the Nazis and turned into a superhuman killer, who uses him as bait to kill more Nazis and goads him about whether he has the courage to stand up against evil. But why is the Destroyer keeping the reporter around at all? Why hasn’t he either killed him or released him? What’s his ultimate plan? All that plus another classic story from Marvel’s Golden Age.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as strong a comic as “All Select” but still very good. The reprint of the old comic is pretty good, too — it has an absolutely amazing two-page splash of an explosion.

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The Diva Show

I think I got time for a quick post this morning…

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Marvel Divas #1

I wasn’t planning on picking this one up. J. Scott Campbell’s ridiculous cover made it look like it was going to be a nonstop cheesecake comic, and Marvel’s description of it as “Sex and the City with superheroes” didn’t sound a lot better. Luckily, it ended up being a good deal better than that. Our main characters are Patsy “Hellcat” walker, bestselling author and martial artist, Monica Rambeau, energy projector and former “Captain Marvel”, Felicia “Black Cat” Hardy, semi-reformed cat burglar, and Angelica “Firestar” Jones, fire-slinging mutant college student. For the most part, they all just hang out together. But they hang out very entertainingly.

Okay, there are quite a few similarities to “Sex and the City” — the main characters are four women, they all look gorgeous, and there’s lots of emphasis on their romantic lives. But for all that, I was entertained by this, and I was never entertained by “Sex and the City.” All four main characters have wonderful, fully-drawn personalities, even down to different, distinct voices. They’ve got their own problems, some shared, some separate, some trivial, some not-so-trivial. If I’ve got a complaint here, it’s about the art. For the most part, it’s all good, but it definitely hits one of my pet peeves about comic art — all the female characters seem to look alike, other than hair color and skin color. Eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, bone structures — most of them look like they were cloned.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s good fun, and I’d read more of it.

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Friday Night Fights: It's a Trap!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, big dawgs and kittykats, it’s been one holy guacamole of a week, and I think we all need a gigantic dose of the Wonderful, Wonderful Weekend to help us get over it. And what’s the perfect way to start the weekend? A healthy meal of eggs and lizard hearts? A high-speed jog around the Loop? Listening to Alfredo Gonzales lecture us about political ethics? I SAY THEE NAY! Everyone get your fightin’ togs on, ’cause it’s time once again for FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today, we’re heading back to October 1977 and Star Wars #4. This was Marvel Comics’ adaptation of some obscure art film no one’s ever heard of, with words by Roy Thomas and art by Howard Chaykin.

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I’m pulling our musical accompaniment from a guy named Corey Vidal, who put together a YouTube video of himself singing four-part a cappella harmony about George Lucas’ luckiest break…

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Armor Wars

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The Brave and the Bold #25

DC’s strategy for re-introducing Milestone’s old characters back into continuity seems to involve giving them guest-star appearances in “The Brave and the Bold” — so be it, as y’all are well aware by now, I’m a sucker for the characters from the ’90s classic Milestone Media. In this issue, we’ve got Milestone’s Hardware — basically, he’s Iron Man with a rotten attitude — teaming up very reluctantly with Jaime “Blue Beetle” Reyes to take down an advanced high-tech SYSTEMatic — a powered armor drone working for an international criminal conspiriacy called SYSTEM. Unfortunately, Hardware really prefers to work alone, so even though he’s getting clobbered by the SYSTEMatic, he’s refusing all assistance from Blue Beetle. After Hardware gets his power drained by the SYSTEMatic, Beetle is able to give him a jump-start with his own armor. But will the villain still be too tough for both of them working together? And who’s behind the new redesign of the SYSTEMatics?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good characterization for both characters. I’ve got quibbles about the SYSTEMatic’s power levels and the guy pulling the strings back at SYSTEM, but as long as this issue includes both a Milestone character AND the Blue Beetle, there’s not much doubt that I’d love it.

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JSA vs. Kobra #2

The international religious/terrorist organization is back and stronger than ever, as the JSA learns when it becomes clear that the bad guys have successfully infiltrated both Checkmate and S.T.A.R. Labs. And again, Kobra uses misdirection perfectly — while the Justice Society fights off a horde of cultists, a single Kobra operative manages to sneak into a big corporate office and get information about a project that could help Kobra destroy the world.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bit odd that we see so few members of the JSA — it’s primarily just Mr. Terrific, Power Girl, and Green Lantern — but I do like the idea of a Kobra organization that’s both perfectly competent and screamingly scary.

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Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels #1

Meet Sir Edward Grey, dashing nobleman, detective, and occult investigator. Called in to investigate a series of mysterious murders, he interrogates a man who participated in an expedition with all the victims. The found the shattered skeleton of some sort of animal-human hybrid, and ever since then, they’ve been getting killed off in surprising ways. When a monster attacks and kills the final victim, Grey attempts in vain to apprehend a creature that can be solid one moment and mist the next. Can Grey follow the clues to track his adversary, or is it already too late?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Mike Mignola doesn’t often leave the pulp horror genre, so this foray into Victorian detective mystery/ghost story is notable and interesting for that alone. Sir Edward makes an excellent stoic hero, and the murders and setting here are excellently eerie.

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The Evil Dead

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Blackest Night #1

We reviewed the prologue yesterday, but DC’s big summer crossover officially gets started with this one.

It’s semi-official pay-respect-to-your-superheroes day in the DC Universe, giving lots of super-people opportunities to visit the gravesides and memorials of their fallen comrades. Earth’s Green Lanterns do a flyover of Coast City, the Kents visit Jonathan Kent’s grave, Flash’s Rogues hold a wake in their secret graveyard, Hawkman and Hawkgirl reflect on their never-ending cycle of death and reincarnation, and the recently resurrected Barry Allen learns how many of his friends have died in the years he’s been gone. But bad doin’s are afoot. A bunch of mysterious black rings descend on Earth and into the Green Lanterns’ mausoleum on Oa. And holy gee whilikers, the dadgum rings actually raise the dead as horrific zombies! Among the confirmed zombies we get here are a gobsmackingly staggering number of dead Green Lanterns, the Martian Manhunter, and Ralph and Sue Dibny… along with a surprise couple of recent deadlings leftover from “Final Crisis”…

Verdict: Thumbs up. So far, so good. I really hope they can sustain this. But for this issue at least: ZOMBIES!

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Our small band of survivors continue their trek north, where they hope they’ll have a better chance of survival. They’re still running into packs of the deranged and diseased serial killers/zombies called the Crossed, and they have to deal with personality conflicts within their own group. We get some flashbacks back to the earliest, most terrifying days of the Crossed outbreak, the group acquires a new canine buddy, and learns that some monsters don’t come with bloody red cross-shaped rashes on their faces.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding characterization work in this issue, along with a genuinely surprising twist. Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows are really doing great work with this one.

B.P.R.D.: 1947 #1

The sequel to the earlier “1946” series focusing on the early days of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense opens with a bunch of captured German SS officers mysteriously getting slaughtered in Nuremberg. Back in New Mexico, Professor Bruttenholm suspects the vengeful vampire, Baron Konig, has committed the murders, and he receives a visit from Varvara, the impossibly creepy, vodka-swilling little girl/demon who appeared in the last series. The BPRD designates four new operatives to travel to France to investigate the killings, which also seem to be tied to a terrifyingly blasphemous opera performed in 1771. But as always seems to be the case in the “BPRD” stories, ominous things are on the way. Can any of the new operatives survive what’s coming?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story by Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart pops along very well, but the art by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon is just plain awesome.

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The Ungrateful Dead

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Green Lantern #43

Wow, this one was just wildly creepy.

We focus on an old GL villain called Black Hand. Always a bit of a creepy kid, he loved his family’s mortuary business mainly because it allowed him to get, ahem, up close and personal with dead bodies. After accidentally acquiring a weapon from the demon Atrocitus that allowed him to absorb power from Green Lantern power rings, he became a supervillain in the strange belief that he should try to snuff out the green energy in the universe. After having a run-in with the Black Lantern power battery, he’s become aware of every important death in the DC Universe and has a voice in his head that tells him he can fix everything. After returning home to kill his family, he commits suicide and is then resurrected by a renegade Guardian named Scar as the first Black Lantern.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Again, wow. Yes, very creepy for Black Hand’s bizarre necrophiliac tendencies, but possibly more disturbing for his murder of his family and his own suicide and rebirth, rendered in close-up, loving detail by Doug Mahnke. Also especially good is the four-page sequence where Hand sees visions of the heroes and villains who have died, and the heroes who have been raised from the dead already. If they can maintain this level of creepy glory, “Blackest Night” may go down as one of the best crossover events ever.

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Booster Gold #22

The Black Beetle has managed to kill Dick Grayson as Batman by going back in time and killing him when he was Robin in the Teen Titans. Booster and Skeets rush back to the time of the early “New Teen Titans” series in the ’80s, masquerade as security guards at S.T.A.R. Labs, and save Cyborg from the Ravager, Deathstroke’s son. Ravager gets away, with the Black Beetle’s help, so Booster and Cyborg recruit the help of the rest of the Titans. But instead of the Titans plus Booster vs. a Ravager who’s about to be killed by his own powers, they have to fight Deathstroke, Black Beetle, and a vastly energized Ravager… and the good guys don’t stand a chance.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This title has been through several months of sub-par stories, but this one is quite good.

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Links for a Better Life!

Well, goodness knows, we all want a better life, don’t we? And what easier yet more unreliable method is there to get a better life than to click on links on a comic book blog? Have at them!

Huzzah! Now we all finally have better lives!

(sniffs) Hey, my new life smells like old socks.

🙁

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Wednesday on Monday

Well, first, I had some news to tell y’all back on Wednesday, and the LubbockOnline blogs went kerplooey just in time to make my post extra difficult to find. So if you ain’t heard my news yet, go read this.

Now that you’re up to speed on what’s been happening with me — yes, I’m safely moved in here, still working on unpacking my book boxes, sweating like a stuck pig every time I go outside, and starting my first day at the new job this morning. How do you tie a tie again? I can just use a square knot, right?

And now: Comics reviews.

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Wednesday Comics #1

This is DC’s new weekly series, and it looks pretty cool. When you unfold the comic-sized magazine, it’s as large as a newspaper, and the stories they have here have some outstanding pedigrees. You’ve got stuff here like Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman and Michael Allred, Adam Strange by Paul Pope, Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook, Supergirl by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Hawkman by Kyle Baker, and Sgt. Rock by Adam Kubert and Joe Kubert. Let me repeat that last one for emphasis — the Kuberts on Sgt. Rock! That one little thing was what got me to commit to getting at least the first issue.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Too many stories to summarize here, but most of these are pretty good, and some of them are very, very good. But while this is a thumbs-up… I’m not planning on continuing to get the series. It’s an expensive weekly series where each story gets just one page per week — I can’t afford to shell out that kind of dough. I wish DC good luck with this, but I’m waiting for the eventual trade paperbacks for these.

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Justice League: Cry for Justice #1

So here’s James Robinson’s big “Justice League” story. Hal Jordan makes a big pompous speech and “quits” the Justice League, along with Green Arrow, so they can go look for justice. Or something. Elsewhere, the Atoms — Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi — beat up Killer Moth and his gang in Albuquerque, Mikaal Tomas, former Starman and supporting cast member of Robinson’s classic ’90s “Starman” series, learns that his boyfriend has been murdered, and Congorilla, an old Silver Age character, a white hunter who could switch minds with a powerful gold-colored gorilla (Because shut up, that’s why), must deal with the murders of his ape tribe, his human body, and even the African hero called Freedom Beast.

Verdict: A little from Column A, a little from Column B. I do have some very serious quibbles about a lot of this. I mean, isn’t Killer Moth a giant insect monster these days? Would Ray Palmer torture someone the same way his ex-wife killed Sue Dibny? And pretty please, with sugar on top, could Hal Jordan kindly shaddap? I don’t hate this as much as some people did — I am looking forward to seeing Robinson writing Mikaal Tomas again, and the Congorilla sequence really is outstanding. The bonus material in the back is also pretty nice. But definitely a very mixed bag…

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Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #1

Marvel’s lunatic mercenary gets a second ongoing series here, starting out by getting launched out of a space station by the mad scientists of A.I.M. in an unshielded and very hot escape pod and crashing down in the Savage Land. He’s supposed to steal a package for A.I.M., but he doesn’t know what it is. He meets up with Ka-Zar, who directs him to a site where the local cavemen are building a giant statue that looks exactly like him. He meets up with Dr. Betty Swanson, a dishy A.I.M. agent, and his attempts to impress her end with both of them being captured by the cavemen. That’s when they discover what the package actually is — the head of Zombie Deadpool from the various “Marvel Zombies” series.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not sure if Deadpool really needed two different series, but I’m down for anything that involves a crazy wisecracking assassin lugging a zombified alternate-version of his own head around as a sidekick.

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Friday Night Fights: Animal Cruelty!

There ain’t many things nicer than Friday, especially after a long, hard, stressful week of Workin’ for the Man — or in my case, moving everything I’ve got a few hundred miles away during a July heatwave. And the best way to kick off the weekend? Well, as always, it’s FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Okay, okay, I may be breaking some sort of unwritten rule here, but I’m going with a panel from the same funny-animal comic book series two weeks in a row. Hey, I haven’t had a lot of time to scan pages from my comics lately, so sue me. (Note: Please don’t sue me.) So here we go — from 1983’s Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew #14 by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! — Pig-Iron belts Armordillo clear into next week:

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And our musical accompaniment this week: “Pig Iron” by the Anti-Nowhere League. Everyone have a great weekend!

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