Friday, December 1, 2017

December's New Year

Closing out the year is the last batch of BC's letters and poems, which, surprisingly enough, revolving around Christmastime are pretty sparse.

I suppose that once Johnny Hart got more invested in Christianity, he devoted more attention towards making symbolic comics than clever monological rhymes or back-n-forth transcripts.

Looking over the results, the playing field is pretty sparse, so here's a bunch of miscellaneous letters & poems I was unable to properly categorize.

While going through my collection, I came across an April strip that I missed, because I was confused about when to properly show it.

Then there was the fact that sometimes Peter's Pen-pal could be maddening vague in his responses.

Then there was usage of innovation to spice up some letters.  Note the lack of a Night scene below.

Soon, they started using anachronistic technology that years later, actually got an update.

Then there was a reference to the Epic BC storyline surrounding the fact that we never actually knew what the invisible responder across the water actually looked like.

That lack of response could be attributed to a revolving door of various responders, depending on who bothered to answer the mysterious letters coming across the ocean.

There were several strips revolving around Columbus Day that would've been better served around October, but given the amount of controversy surrounding the man, felt unsure about devoting further attention towards the issue.

Particularly since the second comic repeated an earlier joke.  That's one small world there.

This one plays around with the format somewhat, by having the letter-writing action take place in the throwaway panel, and the return letter taking up the bulk of the strip.

This is probably the wordiest letter Peter's ever written, full of name-dropping characters.

Moving onto the poetry angle, here's a quick ditty of Wily's numerous phobias.

There were several poems where Wily's view of women was less than remarkable, and felt out of place during Valentine's and Mother's Day, when such celebratory holidays would've felt out of place.

Then there's this, which has rose-coloured nostalgia for times of old, which probably never really existed.

Of all of Wily's poems, this one has what I consider to be a fairly effective punchline, even though it could be considered triggering to some people.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Multiple Blog Updates

Just a few things that needed additions to some of my previous posts.  First up, I mentioned that there was a missing Mr. Boffo comic regarding the Homeless tribute.

Turns out there was also a Marmaduke I missed as well.

Next up, is another minor mistake in a page that I just noticed.  It's one thing when the author is unable to make his intentions clear to the artist, but it's another thing entirely when the artist is in charge of the story.  Such is the case when it comes to the glorious trainwreck that is Neal Adams' Batman Odyssey.

Can you see the problem here?  If not, I'll spell it out for you.  Ra's Al Ghul drops a drink on the floor, bottom first, yet in the very next panel, there's two glasses of tea still on Alfred's plate.  Alfred may be the world's best butler (next to Richie Rich's Cadbury) but I very much doubt he managed to whisk up a spare glass without leaving his position.

Next up are some more comics showing thinner versions of normally fat characters.

Somehow, the idea of a thin rendition of Broom Hilda is considered too disturbing to consider.
Now, for the biggie - another similarity found between For Better or For Worse and Cerebus.

When examining upcoming old strips, it was pointed out in a recent comment on the FoobiJournal that Martha had similar handwriting to Michael:

A side-by-side comparison shows the similarities more clearly.

No wonder Martha had concerns about being intimidated by writing a letter to Michael when he was on the farm, since their cursive was practically identical.  Later, when Janet, one of Martha's friends wrote some correspondence acting as arbitrator, it occurred to Lynn that she should differentiate the handwriting between the two.

Later, when Michael writes from University, Elly seems to take full advantage of cramming in as much writing as possible, believing that the worth of a letter comes from how much effort you put in them, and not what you say.

Later, April would carry on this proud tradition, despite the advent of technology and email, allowing for faster communication.  But that would detract attention away from Lynn's limited life experience.

A close survey of Elly's handwriting showed some unsurprising similarities as well.

Especially when compared to Lynn Johnson's own very revealing handwriting:

All of this is to showcase a page from Cerebus in Church & State where Bran Mac Muffin (Cerebus' most devoted follower) pointed out that in the realm of miracles: "A discarded letter written by a young girl in the Lower City, a listing of my baggage from the carriage driver who brought me here, a listing of room charges from the desk clerk..."

"...and Boobah's transcript... Four different pages by four different writers in four different locations of Iest... and yet, all four... are in Cerebus' handwriting."

Naturally, Cerebus calmly takes it all in stride.

Back when Dave Sim was still reasonably sane, and was in the process of mastering his lettering later on, he figured that this convoluted way of overcoming his early limitations was the best way to combat his fans obsessive nature of over-analyzing every piece of nuance from his work in progress by beating them to the punch. Incidentally, this quasi-4th-wall breaking scenario is never brought up again, though it's hinted and alluded to in the definitive identity-revealing volume MINDS.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pet Peeves: De-Emphasized Reprints

While I touted the importance of emphasizing the banal in favor of expressing the importance of climatic scenes, there's a certain trend in reprints that's been bugging me a lot lately.  It's not the colour scheme that some purists have trouble with.  (Though I've certainly complained about that)  It's not the paper quality, though I don't like it when it's too shiny for me to see the pages.  What bothers me is when the reprint of a beloved comic redoes the font in a manner that fails to capture the spirit and quality of the original.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about, here's a few samples.

Here's a page from an old printing of the Asterix classic, Asterix & The Goths, split into two to prevent annoying shrinkage via blogpost norms.

Now, here's the latest reprint that I was unfortunate enough to pick up cheap, not checking the interior to make sure that I was getting my money's worth:

As you can see, the font for the text has all been cleaned up via computer lettering, which allows for cleaner centering and better consistency, but also loses a lot of the original spirit.  The cry of "THREE!" has been marginalized to the point where it's identical to the lower text, leaving too much blank space where it could've been better utilized.

In addition to which, the newer Gothic font is now notoriously difficult to read, compared to the original.  In this latest iteration, it's left unbolded to the point of illegibility.

In other instances, it's a choice made whether to use italics to heighten the intonation spoken by someone.  American comics are notorious for their haphazard method of randomly bolding individual words in a speech, whether those words need to be emphasized or not.

The beloved Church Mice series by Graham Oakley has had numerous reprints that lowered their production costs by doing away with the back half of the wraparound cover, which feels like missing out on a joke.  Sadly, the realistic artwork and dry text was no longer considered marketable in today's children's market, which suggests a lack of imagination on the publisher's part.  It didn't help matters much that the latest publisher that dared reprinted the above felt the need to dumb down the text so that it would no longer be a challenge to read.

I might seem to be contradicting myself here, but there's a difference in being unable to read what's being written, and challenging the reader to plow their way through the text.  Furthermore, the italicized word "Everybody" and "he" missing in the later reprint loses something in the transition.

It's not just the lack of variable fonts that's in danger of being marginalized, but the usage of using uppercase letters to emphasize certain words.  Shouting in ALLCAPS for a long time is generally frowned upon, unless it's used to make a point.  (Though using lowercase is discouraged in American comics for similarly long-held beliefs as well)

Even though Herman is the titular invisible everyman character in his own comic, he's hardly ever called or seen to the point where his physical representation or name is removed to the point of nonexistence.

This isn't just a fault in reducing or cutting out extraneous words to allow for shorter reading time and reaching broader audiences, but also drastically changing words to the point where they're no longer funny.  F'r instance, here's the original classic comic:

Perfectly reasonable ludicrous description, right?  Only, here's how they tried to update it below:

That changes it from a teasing comment to a vicious insult.  Where's the humour here?  Don't expect this guy to be a returning customer anytime soon.

These may be considered minor complaints, but when license rescuers don't pay enough attention to specific details, a certain sense of enjoyment of emphasis is lost.

No matter how sleek and shiny the latest revamped property is, if they don't adhere to a level of quality check, they may as well be no better than Chinese bootleggers who constantly rely on the same words for every situation, whether they fits the scenario or not.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Appeal of Anti-Climax Man

Fan1: Hey, I haven't seen you around much lately.  What's up?

Fan2: Nothing much.  I've just been preoccupied with this series that's Crazy Awesome and Addictive: Anti-Climax Man.

Fan1: Oh yeah, I think I've heard of it.

Fan2: You gonna give it a try?

Fan1: I dunno.  It seems to have limited appeal beyond its high-concept premise.

Fan2: Dude, you know me.  I don't get heavily invested in anything without good reason.

Fan1: Well, I could, but isn't it only available on some heavily reserved ultra-expensive elitist subscribed channel?

Fan2: It's been leased out to this other channel that you have.

Fan1: Well, it's a later episode, so -

Fan2: Not a problem.  Each is self-contained, while also building on a larger narrative.

Fan1: I'd still like -

Fan2: There's also several online sites showing it for free.

Fan1: I feel a little uneasy about -

Fan2: I also have the DVD sets.

Fan1: Man, it was SO easy for me to ignore when it wasn't easily available.


Fan1: Okay, okay.  Don't twist my arm.  I'll take a look, but I'm not promising anything.

(Two days later)

Fan2: So, what do you think so far?

Fan1: Well, it's okay I guess.  The guy gets caught up in outlandish scenarios that are resolved in the most banal ways possible.

Fan2: I know!!  Isn't it great?!

Fan1: I thought he'd just win all the time, but I was surprised that he allowed himself to lose on purpose.

Fan2: You have to admit it was an effective way to deescalate the situation.

Fan1: As I said before, its extremely childish.  The supporting cast seem to be more fully developed compared to the protagonist who's pretty much a blank slate for the audience to latch onto.

Fan2: How much of it did you see?

Fan1: ...thirty episodes.

Fan2: HAH!  I knew once you'd get started, you'd find it hard to stop!

Fan1: Well, they're very breezy.  I wasn't too into it at first, but after awhile, it started to grow on me.  Frankly, I was surprised at how quickly I blazed through them.  I'll give it another thirty episodes, but if things haven't improved any, I'll quit.

(A week later)

Fan1: The later seasons are completely INSANE.  There's so much Tension involved.  And Anti-Climax Man is always so blasĂ© about it!  I'm always screaming at him to look at the Apocalyptic Disaster he's completely unaware of, just so he can resolve it in that pithy underhanded manner he always does!

Fan2: NOW do you see why I like it so much?

Fan1: I'll say!  I never thought I would become so invested in this so much!

Fan2: I'm particularly impressed with the emotional heft the characters have.  For being rather broad caricatures, there's a surprising depth to their relationships.  Who they were at the beginning of the show are completely different to how they are later on.

Fan1: For me, it's all about the constantly building pressure in every episode.  How long can they prolong the situation before Anti-Climax Man resolves it?!  And he's always in the wrong place!!  LOOK TO YOUR LEFT!!

(A month later)

Fan1: It's absolute torture waiting for new episodes to come up.  I've been compulsively rewatching the early episodes picking up subtle clues that've been sprinkled throughout.

Fan2: Even the lousy episodes?

Fan1: Well, maybe not those, but definitely the high quality ones.  I've made amusing crossover Fanfics because I've been dreaming about it in my sleep!

Fan2: Yes.  Revel in the pain. 

Fan1: This was your plan all along wasn't it?  To draw me into this Fandom just so you'd have someone to compare ulcers with?

Fan2: Consider yourself lucky - I got into it when there were fewer episodes than there are now.

Fan1: I didn't even know it existed, but now I can't imagine not having this show in my life.

Fan2: Well, don't get too complacent.  There's been rumours that this might be the last season.

Fan1: Are you kidding me?!  There's still so much untapped potential!!  Not to mention so many unresolved plotlines!!!  Are we ever going to find out what that mysterious item in the warehouse was supposed to be?!  How can they possibly wrap everything up in just a few episodes?!

Fan2: As I said before, it's still hearsay.  The sponsors have been complaining that the side characters have been taking over the show.  Anti-Climax Man hardly ever shows up anymore.

Fan1: But that's the whole appeal!!  It's seeing these lesser competent guys deal with the increasingly heightening drama the only way they can that further ramps up the suspense!!  Anti-Climax Man's presence would resolve things way too soon!

Fan2: Well, sponsors don't always understand what their viewers are so passionate about.  And the viewer numbers have been dropping.

Fan1: Because it's constantly in reruns!!  And... (checks rating numbers) each episode STILL gets at least two million views!!

Fan2: If it's any consolation, we had a good run.  And we can still spread word about the show through word of mouth.

Fan1: I tried to get my friends to get interested in Anti-Climax Man.

Fan2: And?

Fan1: They just laughed in my face for trying to convince them to watch a silly children's show when they've got more serious Adult entertainment suited for them.  The fools.  I tried to make it as easy as possible for them to jump in, but they resist any attempt to even give it a sidelong glance!

Fan2: Sounds like a certain somebody I know.  Weren't you just complaining that Anti-Climax Man was in danger of becoming formulaic and predictable?

Fan1: I wanted excitement, but Not Like This!  I've been checking the news feeds every day, checking every #Anticlimaxman tag on an hourly basis.  The suspense is terrible.  I hope it doesn't last.


Fan2: Sounds like another hit just registered.

Fan1: Probably just another article about making your very own Anti-Climax character.  As if I didn't have enough - (Gasps)  It's news about the creator of Anti-Climax Man.

Fan2: Looks like something happened to the guy.

Fan1: I can't look.  What does it say??

Fan2: It says...

TO BE CONTINUED.... (maybe)