Tag Archives: Comics

Dinosaurs and Indians?

Anybody remember that great series of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials from the 1980’s that used the slogan, “two great tastes that taste great together”?  Well, Dell Comics could have used that same catchy slogan in the 1950’s when they began publishing Turok, Son of Stone.  For kids of that era (and in the 1970’s when they were reprinted), what could be better than combining dinosaurs with Indians?

Of course, nowadays the preferred term is Native Americans, but back then, kids played “Cowboys and Indians”, and Turok and his younger friend Andar were a pair of displaced braves trapped in a subterranean world that time forgot!   This past year Dark Horse Comics collected the first five volumes of the Turok stories in gorgeous hardcovers, and we decided they should be part of our Graphic Series collection.  You can find them listed in the catalog here.

These stories exude a playful innocence that will seem refreshing amidst a lot of the ultra-violent superhero stuff that currently inhabits the market.  They generally follow a simple pattern with the two braves exploring the forgotten lands and encountering dangerous dinosaurs and cave men.  Sometimes these encounters are peaceful, but more often than not the pair need to break out their bows and knives and fight for their lives!  The stories also sometimes included “fact sheets” explaining what current-day science then knew about a given species of dinosaur or predatory mammal.

The artwork and colors are understated and quite beautiful in their simplicity.  Despite succumbing to some of the racial stereotypes of their era, the stories also showcase ethnically diverse protagonists that readers from any background can identify with.

Next year Dark Horse plans to reprint more of Dell’s action-oriented titles in the same hardcover format, and funding permitting, we’ll be there to add them to what has always been one of the country’s most extensive public library collection of graphic novels.

–Scott

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poems + comics = pomics

It’s my turn to post again, so odds are that today’s Eleventh Stack spotlight will shine on either poetry or graphic novels, right?  Double right!   Today’s post is about both poems and comics, and the weird hybrid animal that spawns from their combination: “pomics.”

We’ve got evidence proving that poets were hip to the comics scene as early as 1946, when E. E. Cummings wrote the introduction to a collection of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comics.  In fact, he portrays the strip as an analogy for the dynamics of love and wisdom, democracy and individualism.

Matthea Harvey is a contemporary poet who has professed her love for comics, especially in this interview with Poetry Foundation, in which she and Jeannine Hall Gailey discuss the inspirational themes of dozens of graphic novels, manga and anime titles and authors, including Paul Hornschemeier‘s Three Paradoxes,  Osamu Tezuka‘s Astro Boy and several of Hayayo Miyazaki‘s works.

Not only is Jeannine Hall Gailey another comics fan, she’s also a pomics creator.  Her book, Becoming The Villainess, includes the poem “Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon” and several poems from her chapbook, Female Comic Book Superheroes, which you can listen to her read here.

Poetry Foundation.org has taken a clear stance on the side of pomics by initiating their creation in its feature, “The Poem as Comic Strip.”  So far, the series has included collaborations between Ron Regé, Jr. and Kenneth Patchen, David Heatley and Diane Wakoski, Gabrielle Bell and Emily Dickinson, and Jeffrey Brown and Russell Edson.

The 1960’s must certainly have produced some impressive cross-genre overlap with its combination of psychedelic poetry readings and mind-warping underground comics, both exploding in San Francisco.  One example is Ginsberg’s Illuminated Poems, which graphic novelist Eric Drooker illustrated.  According to Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels, Ginsberg credits Lynd Ward’s silent graphic novels as the inspiration for his famous poem “Howl.” 

The symbiotic relationship between poetry and comics is so far-reaching that I’m sure I’ve left out some approaches–but if you know of any more examples, I’d love to read them.

–Renée

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The Sandman’s 20th birthday

A friendly sci-fi blog pointed out that November marks the 20th anniversary of Neil Gaiman‘s oneironautic graphic novel epic The Sandman.  If you need further motivation to check out the series, the blog goes on to list the five ways The Sandman changed the world, and the author isn’t just talking about the numerous spin-offs the series inspired (which include popular series like Death, Lucifer, and Sandman Mystery Theatre).

If you’ve already read The Sandman, and fallen in love with its characters and mythology, you can become an expert by reading the many books that analyze the comic strip, like The Sandman Companion or The Sandman Papers.

And, just because the series is long over, doesn’t mean that the mythology has ended.  In this article, Gaiman discusses the new Sandman projects happening to commemorate the anniversary–which means that we can all keep dreaming.

–Renée

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Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion

Right now Marvel Comics is in the midst of a giant crossover event that covers nearly all of the venerable publisher’s monthly titles. Secret Invasion features the Skrulls, one of the oldest alien threats in the history of the company, whose history reaches all the way back to 1962 and Fantastic Four #2. Ever since that fateful issue the Skrulls have been involved in numerous key events in the history of the Marvel Universe. There was the Kree/Skrull War, the Super-Skrull’s many battles with Marvel’s heroes, and the destruction of their empire during the Annihilation saga. Aside from their green skin and ridged chins, the most important thing to remember about skrulls is that they change shape.

Anyone could be a skrull! Any hero, any villain, anybody! When skrulls first debuted in the 1960’s, the Cold War was raging, and the idea of the impostor in our midst became fodder for writers of all stripes. You couldn’t tell if your neighbor was a Communist, and in the Marvel Universe, you never knew who might be a skrull! Comic book writers have always loved the idea of the double, or doppelganger. All it took was one visit from a kooky character called the Space Phantom to splinter the newly formed Avengers, a team of super-heroes featuring the Hulk. The Space Phantom’s ability to impersonate other heroes was positively skrull-like, and sewed paranoia in the team, driving the Hulk away and changing the course of the Avengers’ history.

Fortunately for us, Marvel has collected much of its storied history in easily digestible graphic novels and trade paperbacks. We have quite a selection on our shelves here at the library:

Folks who don’t mind a little work (and spending a few dollars) can head to their friendly local comic shop and dig up some of the skrull-related issues of the Silver Surfer’s (vol.3) series from the 1990’s. The Super-Skrull plays a pivotal part in several story arcs from that era.

Scott

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Big Day in Film, Comics, Sports, Poetry, Cooking, Music, Graphic Novels, Literature etc.

So, where, oh, where, do all these ideas for blog posts come from anyway, you might ask?

Well, when you work for an institution that nominally acts as a portal of all human knowledge, how hard can it really be? I thought I might talk about what I’m reading currently, a volume of poetry and travel writings by the Japanese master poet, Basho, or the graphic novel V for Vendetta by the modern master of the (comic) universe, Alan Moore, or an obscure volume of gothic short stories by the Welsh master of the macabre, Arthur Machen. But since I haven’t finished any of those (grist for future posts!), I thought I’d take a look-see if there has been anything notable about today, August 25th, historically speaking. And indeed there is. So without any further muss, fuss or babble, here’s a list of things we can celebrate today via materials in the library’s rich treasure trove of goods:

  • Birthday of American short story impresario, Bret Harte
  • 95th birthday anniversary of Pogo creator and satirist, Walt Kelly

So, if you are suffering from blogger’s dilemma (aka what will I post about today), how exactly do you find all this stuff out? In the spirit of disclosure (although running directly counter to one of the Wizard of Oz’s most remembered lines, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!“), you simply go to or call your local library and ask for the annual Chase’s Calendar of Events, an encyclopedia size tome listing all of the above (and much, much more) for every single day of the year.

Don

PS If you want that obscure volume by Arthur Machen, interlibrary loan is the way to go.

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