Home Columns Kibbles 'n' Bits Gerade Links: Trespassing Aimlessly Across the Web

Gerade Links: Trespassing Aimlessly Across the Web



Marlo Higgins, creator of The Beat's Watchtower system

While The Beatrix enjoys much needed rest, relaxation, and recharging up where America’s day begins, I’m keeping watch here at Stately Beat Manor on the Hudson, monitoring the RSS feeds of comics, cartoons, and cute kitten videos.   (The latter gets automatically shifted into a revolving data cloud, so I ignore those automatically.)

So, what’s been happening online, which might have been missed or overlooked as people comment on Li’l Abner appearing in Action Comics?

Well, for starters, while I’ve been constantly reloading DCComics.com for the latest and, um, greatest? on the the New DCU 52, I only noticed there were blogs for DC and Vertigo.  Yet, when I just now visited to grab that Action Comics #1 link, I noticed one for MAD!  Apparently, they’ve been posting content since May 2, and it looks like there’s a dedicated website as well!  (TheIdiotical.com redirects to http://mad.blog.dccomics.com/)  Surprisingly, given the content of MAD, DC has allowed comments!  Unfortunately for MAD, of eight postings so far, there are only three comments in total!  Still, it’s good stuff, and they’ve even been posting some archived articles to commemorate (?) the passings of Dr. Jack Kervorkian and James Arness. Of course, the regular MAD site has lots of content as well, and unlike DC Comics, MAD continues with its numbering intact (511 issues and counting), because if they restarted with #1, they’d have to create new material!

Sadly, with the final list of the New DCU 52 (yes, I’m hoping that phrase gains traction, because “flashboot” and “DCnU” are rather uninspired… although “new ones” has a nice poetic quality to it) there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth as fan favorites have been relegated to minor-league status.  One title I’m almost certain no one has mentioned, or even missed, was Strange Sports Stories, mentioned on Wired.com (via Io9).  Really not too far-fetched, when you consider the great Ali-Superman bout from a few years later.  Or the “heroes vs. villains” baseball game, where Luthor invents a polarized bat which creates automatic walks.   Perhaps Vertigo could relaunch this?

Perhaps Strange Sports Stories was inspired by the cartoons found on the backs of baseball cards?  ESPN’s Page Two column reminisces about the biographical cartoons found on the back of Topps baseball cards from the 1970s.   (Click on the links in the article for examples.)

Overseas, Romania will honor their 120-year history of comics by opening a special gallery on the fourth floor of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest June 16th.  There will be various exhibits, including one dedicated to web cartoonists.  More PR here.

Closer to home, arch daily reports on plans for a new building for the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, to be located near Delancey and Norfolk near the Williamsburg Bridge.  Apparently, they announced a competition in December, and the finalists were announced in January.  Curiously, the white box mentioned last week was not one of the finalists.  Looking at the finalists, it’s probably best that they went with something more … sedate.

Many of us “seasoned”  comics collectors remember the days when teachers and librarians would consider comics with disdain and disapproval.  Now, as comics-friendly professionals become teachers and librarians, they have become proponents of using comics and graphic novels to encourage kids to read.  Publishers have begun to exploit this market, and one of most interesting is ABDO.  They have been rebinding old issues of the Marvel Age superhero titles from the past decade, as well as Indiana Jones and Star Wars comics from Dark Horse.  Recently, ABDO announced that in addition to offering e-book versions of these books, teaching guides would be available as well!  Many comics fans can recall words learned from comics (mine is “gobbledygook” from MAD, Jim Shooter’s was “bouillabaisse” from Donald Duck).  The study guides actually present vocabulary lists culled from the stories, which are quite impressive for fifth and sixth graders!  (juggernaut, contingency, irascible, megalomaniac, catatonic…)

Just as Neil Gaiman used tulip mania as an example of speculation run amok for comics collectors, so has Jonathan Last used comics speculation to explain the recent real estate bubble.  Of course, this is nothing new, as Charles Mackay noted back in 1841.

The Catholic Review reports that World Youth Day approaches once again, this year in Madrid, and Manga Hero, the only publisher of Roman Catholic manga, has produced 300,000 copies of a biography of Pope Benedict XVI to be distributed.  They also publish other Biblical stories, including a series based on the kick-ass Jewish heroine Judith.

The BBC reports that the University of Dundee, located in Scotland, will offer the UK’s first Master’s Degree in Comics (Masters of Literature).  Meanwhile…  Kyoto Seika University, a private college in western Japan, is offering the nation’s first doctoral program in manga.  The university started a Master’s program last year.  The Kyoto International Manga Museum is also nearby.

The Silsbee Cheerleader controversy has cost her family $45,000 in legal fees owed to the school district, so Jason Ho of Bongo Comics has offered to sell sketches for $20 to help raise the funds.  Comics Alliance has the specifics.

And from the Google News archives:
Spider Man comic book combats teen-age  pregnancy problem
The comic can be read here.


  1. “Sadly, with the final list of the New DCU 52 (yes, I’m hoping that phrase gains traction, because “flashboot” and “DCnU” are rather uninspired… although “new ones” has a nice poetic quality to it)…”

    I’ve been pushing “DCU-Haul”, but it doesn’t appear to have caught on.

  2. The 52 name gives me a bad taste in my mouth after the recent DC Big Event that involved 52 weekly issues.
    I found that series to be confounding and confusing, and ave up after a dozen issues. Maybe that 52 series was sufficient years back that people have forgotten it…

  3. Headline question:
    Are you trespassing, or are you traipsing?

    I didn’t note any cyber-intrusion in the various links …

  4. Well, my mind doesn’t wander, it trespasses.

    No, I didn’t hack into DC, or post revealing photos from Twitter (that’s Heidi’s purview).

    I read “52” in graphic novel form, which includes author notes. I didn’t read Trinity (sorry, Mr. Busiek), or Countdown.

  5. Something that might be worth some ruminations: How the expression “With great power comes great responsibility” actually refers to obsessive/compulsive behavior. In the real world, responding to emergencies and saving lives is just an occupation for even the most devoted rescuer, not his life. That’s not necessarily the case for superheroes, though, because of how their stories are written. If one thinks of retiring or taking an extended break, something will happen to convince him that if he’s not always on call, the world might end, or at the very least, someone’s life will.

    The feeling that he’s always needed, to the extent that it’s obsessive/compulsive behavior, is actually a fearful response to stimuli. Research into brain chemistry revealed that years ago:

    Normally, once a person perceives there is no real cause for anxiety, high-level thought processes override the distress signals and cause the caudate to switch them off. But in OCD, says Schwartz, this doesn’t happen. With PET scans, he and his colleagues found that before treatment, all four of the regions they studied ate up glucose at very high–and correlated–rates, as if they were interlocked. This tight linkage, Schwartz speculates, may be the cause of OCD. For some reason, all four structures seem to be madly interacting in OCD patients: the orbital cortex fires frantic messages to the caudate nucleus, which simultaneously receives signals of fear erroneously stirred up by the cingulate gyrus. As a result, a person tries some form of corrective behavior, but the warning light stays on. [.. .]

    The ultimate cause of OCD remains a mystery. Schwartz says an inherited predisposition may exist; others say the disorder can be prompted by emotional trauma. In any case, Schwartz says his research shows that the brain is capable of fundamental change throughout life. We used to think that once you got past your twenties, there wasn’t a lot you could do to change your brain, he says. But this is strong evidence that the brain is plastic–and is plastic much later in life than people previously thought.

    I found this article last week while thinking about how Batman is emotionally stunted and driven to fight crime. If superheroes were written as having civilian lives and letting law enforcement handle crimes as best they could occasionally, would they seem less heroic?


  6. Has anyone ever written a story about a month in the life of a superhero? That has him fight villains perhaps two to three times per week and do an array of normal things otherwise? I’d guess not.


  7. Hi Torsten, thanks for the bit on MoCCA’s design competition. I hope it’s understood that the exercise was a creative and speculative one — the museum currently has no plans to relocate!

  8. Ah… so we won’t see the Cosmic Cube on the Lower East Side?

    Synsidar, part of the (current) Justice League SOP is that they allow humanity to stumble on with the JL handling the big stuff that nobody else can deal with.

    I believe (All-Star) Justice (League) by Krueger and Ross used this as the inciting incident by the villains. Otherwise, why doesn’t Barbara Gordon walk, why aren’t there lunar colonies, where’s my rocket pack?

    Or you can take the viewpoint of the Samaritan. Or the current Zatanna series, where she is a performer occasionally involved with weird stuff.

    The best supervillain? The Can Crusher, from Spidey Super Stories. As a boy, he visited a soup factory, and his pet frog accidentally was canned. So, as an adult, he terrorizes supermarkets, crushing open cans, searching, in vain, for his beloved pet. (Excuse me… sniff… allergies are acting up…)

    “Sane superheroes are all alike; every insane superhero is insane in his own way.”

  9. If I remember correctly, the Can Crusher actually defeated Spider-Man and left him in a crumpled heap at the end of their battle, with CC wandering off to continue on his crusade.

    I found this pretty traumatic as a kid.

  10. I’m not exactly sure how Mr. Higgins was contracted to set up the information systems at Stately Beat Manor, as he VC’d the tech he developed at Dullo, becoming a dot-com millionaire a decade before the term was coined when Yoyodyne, a division of Ajax, acquired the company. When Ajax merged with Acme, becoming General Products, Yoyodyne was reorganized under their Dot-Comglomerate division.

    I suspect Mr. Higgins had visited the Manor in his youth, and agreed to develop the tech while waiting for his non-compete clause to expire. He has not been heard from since 1993. Any inquiries should be directed to the law firm of Landau, Luckman, and Lake.

  11. Your corporate history is off. Dullo’s purchase was part of a long corporate proxy war between Yoyodyne, Omni Consumer Products, the Wallenquist Organization, and Adipose Industries in a misguided diversification attempt.

    It was my understanding that Higgins later left the company to work for Digitronix, but nobody’s heard from them recently.

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