I mentioned the Cincinnati Comics Expo last week. I went and had a very good time… but here’s one of the highlights:
I bought an original Archie newspaper comic strip!
Most of the people reading this will not be as excited as I was to pick up something silly like this. I’ll never be able to frame it. It’s not going to be worth a lot of money. It doesn’t feature Betty OR Veronica, for Pete’s sake! Despite all that, I was still very excited to drop $30 bucks to own a comic strip that appeared in newspapers across the country. Ever since I was old enough to read, I’ve been obsessed with newspaper comic strips and I’ve always wanted to own one. Now I can cross that off my Bucket List.
I will tell you, I picked this particular strip out of a large pile for three reasons:
1. It features Jughead.
2. It takes place at Riverdale High; as a teacher, I thought it would be fun to have this hanging in my classroom somewhere.
3. For three summers during high school and college, I worked in my hometown’s elementary school doing exactly what Archie and Jughead are doing here.
$30 dollars well spent.
I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, but I watch enough to be excited for the new fall season to officially begin this past week. Ellen and I have put our Netflix Watch Instantly feature to good use this past summer, but I am getting very tired of flippin’ on the boob tube and having to wade through awful stuff like Minute to Win It and reruns of CSI ad nauseum.
On show I’m tentatively excited to see return is NBC’s The Office. It’s been receiving a lot of buzz surrounding the announcement that Steve Carrell will not be returning as office manager Michael Scott after this season.
Certainly the show is coming off a season that was, to be generous, a mixed bag… and as The Office marches into its seventh season, the characters have become far more broad and less realistic. These are facts. It should also be said that those things happen to EVERY situation comedy that stays on the air longer than 100 episodes. Characters and situations just can’t have the same kind of impact they had originally when you see them week in, week out. You’re too familiar with them… and syndication certainly doesn’t help matters.
I also think some of the “The Office has jumped the shark” sentiments are tied up with the emotional attachment that fans have to the show’s second and third season, specifically the “Jim and Pam” romance arc that is, to the writers’ credit, pretty settled now. I always admired how they resisted putting up unnatural roadblocks to the Jim and Pam romance once they were firmly together in S.4.
Anyhow, I’m curious how the show’s going to step up to the plate and approach losing Carrell. I certainly think it’s a good sign that they’ve hired Amy Ryan back to play Holly Flax for the last couple of episodes as I think that will help to bring Michael’s story to a close in fine style.
Here’s something I’m genuinely curious about: I’m wondering if this is the season that the producers are going to engineer some kind of guest appearance by/cross over with Ricky Gervais’ David Brent character. You’ll find no bigger fan of the original British version of The Office than me, and Gervais’ originated the boorsh boss in Brent. This is something that has occasionally teased in interviews, but never seriously considered… at least to my knowledge.
I’m not necessarily saying I think bringing Gervais’ Brent into the fold is a good idea… but it’s something that people have always asked for. Gervais remains not only an executive producer but also a tremendous booster of the US Office, going to far as to write an episode of the series in its third season, so the connection’s there. With Carrell leaving, this would be the only time that David Brent and Michael Scott could breathe the same air. It could potentially be a very silly and uninteresting bit of fan-service, but I’m kind of hoping they pull the trigger on it. I could do without seeing the rest of the cast of the UK Office again, their stories always seemed pretty well finished to me, but Brent was always little larger than life, at least in his own mind. I could see him wandering across the pond for some reason or another.
I’m currently reading Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham, illustrations by Steve Leialoha. This has been on my “to read” pile for awhile, a prose novel based in the world of DC Comics/Vertigo’s long-running Fables. The conceit of Fables is that fairy tale characters are real and live in our world after being pushed out of their mythical Homelands by an evil Adversary. They work to fit into modern society as well as try to retake their fairy tale kingdoms.
Peter and Max is seemingly a footnote to the longer narrative of the comic, dealing with the character of Peter Piper (who also, it seems, takes on the roles of other famous “Peters” from fairy tale and nursery rhyme history) and his adventures. The novel works as an primer for the Fables world without being overly confusing for new readers and Willingham has long had a flair for looking at treasured characters from myth and legend with a fresh perspective.