Archive for January, 2013

island of misfit toys: american gladiators zap (mattel)

Posted in island of misfit toys with tags , , , on January 19, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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American Gladiators was a syndicated game show/competition series that aired in syndication for the better part of the 1990’s. The game pit contestants against both each other and a team of muscle-bound “gladiators” with colorful names and determined personalities. The real draw of the series were the elaborate “events” designed as challenges for the competitors, most of which took the shape of a crazy obstacle course.

The format of American Gladiators was similar to a lot of game shows from the 1980’s and 1990’s designed for children including Double Dare and Finders Keepers but AG kept enough edge to be paired regularly with professional wrestling…. which probably explains why Mattel took a run at a series of action figures featuring the titular gladiators.

I’m taking a look at Zap, one of the female gladiators.

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odds and ends: impossible omnibus, misfit toys, lions witches and wardrobes

Posted in odds and ends with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

Starting tomorrow, I’m trying out a new weekly feature!

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I’m going to be looking at weird, silly, and otherwise strange toys and writing about why I think they might not have been successful. Hopefully it will be kind of fun.

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This past September, I was at the Cincinnati Comic Expo, waiting in line to get my copy of Saga of the Swamp Thing hardcover signed by artist Rick Veitch. Veitch is a well-known collaborator of comic writer extraordinaire Alan Moore. Although I like what they did together on Swamp Thing, my absolute favorite paring of Moore and Veitch was their work on Supreme.

A very general rip-off of Superman both in look and name, under Moore’s pen Supreme became a deconstruction of the Silver Age Superman mythos contextualized in a post-modern superheroic world. If I just made Supreme sound like a graduate student’s term paper, I apologize because at its’ core the comic was wild; smart and exciting with a sense of humor. The Alan Moore Supreme was true imagination fodder, the kind of comic I’d happily hand my sons and say “THIS is why superheroes are fun.”

There have never been well-produced collections of Supreme and it’s quite likely there never will be. The character was published by Image Comics, then Awesome Comics… and the collections that do exist were published by Checker Publishing and they are awful. I guess a lot of the production materials were lost somewhere along the way and the scans Checker used weren’t ideal. I’ve always wanted to have a nicely produced collection of Supreme and I thought that was never to be…

until, while waiting on line, I saw a guy with THIS BOOK.

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I couldn’t help but ask him where he’d gotten this massive omnibus collection. The dude seemed pretty pleased with himself and explained: This hardcover was a custom-bound collection of EVERY issue of Alan Moore’s run on Supreme, including every guest appearance written by Moore featuring the characters from the Supreme universe. Further, included in his professionally bound hardcover was an exclusive copy of Supreme #41, signed by Alan Moore himself. Moore’s somewhat of a hard “get” when it comes to signed comics.

I felt two ways about this book. On the one hand… it seemed absolutely insane to me that this fellow had spend so much time and money assembling this impossible collection. On the other hand… ME WANTEE! Going through the trouble to craft a hardcover collection is not something I’d ever do myself, but I can understand the impulse to create something like this.

I came across this eBay auction this past weekend and I’m reasonably sure this is the same collection of the guy I met at the CCE. It ended at over $200 dollars, a sum I wouldn’t be able to afford if I had six months to save for something frivolous. I hope whoever bought it appreciates its’ obsessive beauty.

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Over the last three weeks, I’ve read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis to Elliot and Henry… or, as Elliot thinks it should be called, The Wardrobe, the Witch and the Lion (in order of appearance). Elliot in particular has fallen in love with the book as I remember doing when I was his age. I decided to hunt down the 1988 BBC adaptation of the work I remember watching ad nauseum when it played on PBS. I didn’t want him to see the newer movie, which I also liked but seemed more concerned with inflated spectacle than adapting Lewis’ story.

Anyhow, I found a copy and we watched it this week. I thought it held up, more or less… although there are some aspects which NEVER worked, even in 1988. The BBC’s solution to the many fantastic creatures was to use a mix of animation, animatronic puppets, and actors in costumes. Some of this is impressive, even by today’s SFX standards; this version’s take on Mr. Tumnus the fawn looks quite a bit better than the efforts of the newer movie. Some of it is so silly, like the full-sized beaver costumes which more closely resemble giant burritos.

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The best part of the entire production has nothing to do with effects, either practical or special. The best part of the TV version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is Barbara Kellerman as The White Witch. Kellerman’s manic choices in her portrayal of the witch is broad and crazy… but it’s also quite effective. I think it still works.

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Oh, and the girl who plays Lucy has the craziest, best overbite I’ve ever seen on a child.

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Teacher Comics: A farewell

Posted in 2012-2013 school year with tags on January 17, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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It’s been awhile, but I mentioned this particular student a few years ago. It sounds weird, but that letter was one of the better things to happen to me in a whole year of my job.

Teacher Comics: Break breaks

Posted in 2012-2013 school year with tags on January 16, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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Tell me I’m not the only teacher this happens to?

teacher comics: first day back

Posted in 2012-2013 school year with tags on January 15, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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I’ve done a lot of “first day back from winter break” comics in my time. This one’s probably my favorite.

teacher comics: my role model

Posted in 2012-2013 school year with tags , , on January 14, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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Arthur has been a favorite of my kids for awhile now. This comic from the past summer was inspired by Marc Brown’s kid aardvark. The books have been around for years and I was surprised to find out the animated series has been on for something like 15 years! That’s some staying power!

the triumphant return of chalkboard drawings

Posted in chalkboard drawings with tags , on January 13, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

Woo! My phone’s digital camera wouldn’t jibe with the memory card so I stopped posting these. I’ve traded up to an iPhone though, so it should be smooth sailing from here on out.

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The rest of these come from the beginning of our Romeo & Juliet unit…

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thrift store finds: marvel novel series – doctor strange

Posted in thrift store finds with tags , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

This week, we’re looking at Marvel Novel Series: Doctor Strange -Nightmare written by Robert Rotsler with a beautiful painted cover by Bob Larkin.

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I paid $5 bucks for this book. I know, that’s an unusually high price for me when it comes to thrift store shopping but there’s a reason!

Marvel Comics had a much wider readership amongst college students in the 1960’s and ’70’s than other superhero comics. The company’s stable of heroes are far more down to Earth and relatable than DC Comics‘ pantheon of gods and goddesses. Marvel superheroes often dealt with real world issues like drug abuse, the war in Vietnam, and even civil rights. If I had to guess, the Marvel Novel Series was an attempt to corner that appeal in a more adult-friendly package.

Consisting of eleven paperbacks published throughout the late 1970’s, these books took the familiar Marvel Universe characters and propelled them into long format prose tales. While some of the books included adaptations of previously written comic stories, the majority were originals featuring Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and others.

I chose to look at Nightmare for a simple reason: it’s the only book in the series that features Doctor Strange.

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Teacher Comics: burnout, part 5

Posted in 2012-2013 school year, teacher burnout with tags , , on January 11, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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I went on about this topic for an extra day beyond what I normally draw in my weekly comics, but I’ll end this with one final thing I try to do to avoid burning myself out at school: AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE. I have a feeling I’ll do some comics about that somewhere down the line but I thought it was best said here as well. Some faculty have the uncanny ability to be negative about EVERYTHING and that can rub off on a person if they aren’t careful. EDIT: Heck, some commenters even have that negative thing goin’ for themselves!

Teacher Comics: burnout, part 4

Posted in 2012-2013 school year, teacher burnout with tags , , on January 10, 2013 by Christopher Pearce

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