May 20th, 2007

The Zombie

A whole bunch o' WOMP-Blog entries...

May 5 -  Ugh.  I'm back from the last of my annual Post-Prom caricature drawing gigs, and I have just enough energy left to post a little entry.  It's 4:02AM as I type this, and I am already beginning to black out from exhaustion and shoulder pain.  Maybe I'll have the "oomph" tomorrow to give you a report on some of today's events, but now I'll just bow out gracefully, leaving you with your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Han Solo!

May 4 -  Yesterday, Thursday, I had quite a long day, which prevented me from having the energy and time to post much about it until now.  The WOMP Staff took the day off from work so that we could take a trip to nearby Platteville, Wisconsin, to visit the combined Rollo Jamison and Mining Museums.  That was a lot of fun, and very inspiring!  How so?  Well, The Jamison Museum is the preserved collection of a local eccentric who had the foresight to begin saving odds and ends of local history from an early age.  Sound familiar?  Of course, when he started (1907 or so), it was easier to find some really nifty stuff, yet probably more difficult to avoid being perceived as a nut.  Now, thanks to eBay, every screwball who hoards old junk looks like a computer-literate, antiques-savvy entrepreneur.  I took lots and lots of digital photos of the collection, which runs the gamut from uniforms and artifacts from every American war, to about a dozen industry-specific horse carriages, to general store items, to ancient flints and arrowheads (young Jamison's first collecting passion, developed while following his father's plow).  There was a lot of amazing stuff, but what most impressed me was Jamison's collection of autographed Civil War carte-de-visit photographs!  With exceptions of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, virtually every major figure is represented, including Grant, Custer, Jackson, and Lee!  All in all, I got a lot of good photo reference for both drawing and collecting purposes...then we were off to the Mining Museum section.  More than just a display of old picks and shovels, the museum includes an actual abandoned mine!  Down a 1970's stairwell shaft, the museum preserves a lead and zinc mine first opened in 1845.  That, too, was very inspirational.  It's one thing to imagine an underground cavern or tunnel (as I did for The Adventures of Monkey #3...fairly well, as it turns out), but it is another thing entirely to experience it for yourself first hand.  Little features and obscure elements popped out to me which I would never have imagined, and the detail captured by my mind's eye surpasses any video I've ever seen.  Fantastic!  Of course, the tour is designed primarily for school kids, so we were a bit embarrassed to be seen by locals as we rode a fun yet humiliating mine-car railroad around a tiny track around a small park on the museum grounds.  I suppose we didn't get a very in-depth tour, as our guide stuck to her time-tested, kid-friendly script for the most part.  Even so, we enjoyed it, coming away from the experience with a newfound enthusiasm for the area's mining history.  Platteville, for example, is honeycombed with subterranean mine tunnels and chambers, and the surrounding hills are pocked with smaller digs (shallow, six foot deep test mines, the cantankerous miners of which inspired Wisconsin's nickname as the Badger State) and sudden rocky hills of mine spoil (which are less prevalent, thanks to the mid-twentieth century need for road construction material).  It just goes to show that history is all around if you know where to look.  Speaking of which, in honor of the historic thirtieth anniversary of the film (and a suggestion from me), The WOMP Staff convinced the folks at her job to make today, Friday, "Star Wars Day" at work!  Everyone was encouraged to dress as a Star Wars character.  The Staff was, of course, Darth Vader...convincingly so, too!  Even though I helped with her costume, including a full Vader helmet and respirator-sound-emanating breathing-box, I was still honestly taken aback when I came across her standing in a dark dining room as I happened to look in!  Yikes!  Anyhoo, she reported that a fun time was had by all.  They had an R2-D2 cake, "Yoda feet" gummies, and drinks served in Star Wars glasses.  The Vader/Staff even posed with the other two Darth Vaders in attendance!  It went so well that I am going to send photos from the event to the official Star Wars site in hopes that they will put them on their web-page(s).  Who knows?  Maybe The Force will be with us.  Well, I suppose that I should wrap this up for now with some more of your Star Wars Comic Book Characters of The Day - Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes!

May 3 -  Ugh!  More cartooning work!  I should be pleased to be so swamped, but I never seem to be, do I?  I think that I'd complain even if I won the lottery ("Where am I supposed to put all of these thousand-dollar bills?").  Anyhoo, I am still working on everything, which is sucking the time and energy out of me, so I won't be posting a "real" entry, I'm afraid.  In fact, I think I'll just wrap this up for now with your Star Wars Comic Book Characters of The Day - Tag and Bink!
The Zombie

And more...

May 7 -  No, I'm not going to say bad things about Star Wars today.  I was kidding...I was just kidding!  Besides, yesterday's rant about Free Comic Book Day wasn't really an "attack," just an attempted description of my honest reaction to the event.  In fact, since posting that entry, I've been thinking about it a lot.  I finally realized one of my main concerns about FCBD, which I couldn't even fully see last night.  Basically, the establishment of FCBD, coming almost three-quarters of a century after the founding of the comics industry, seems like an act of deep desperation, and a sign of the beginning of the end.  I hope that I'm wrong, but that is what it feels like to me.  I wonder if they had Free Silent Movie Day or Free 8-Track Tape Day toward the end.  Maybe.  I've seen this sort of thing happen a hundred times in my life, if not more.  Comics, for whatever else they may be, are just product, after all, and products go out of fashion or become obsolete.  I definitely remember the sales progression of obsolescence; window display, then top shelf, then side shelf, then sale aisle, then remainder bin, then rummage sale, then antique/specialty store, and finally museum.  Are comic books going that route?  If so, they may already be in the "antique/specialty store" stage, having long ago been removed from the magazine racks at grocery and department stores (where I used to buy them).  Is the state of the industry now so weak that comics have to be given away just to stay relevant?  Who knows?  I am probably reading far too much into all of this (in fact, I'm pretty sure that I am), but it's my nature to worry about such things.  Remember, I hope things won't be as bad as I know they will be.  Hmmm.  Well, anyhoo, I think I have to call it a day.  Maybe I will finally get to the subject of Star Wars characters tomorrow (I hope).  Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Ki-Adi-Mundi!

May 6 -  Yesterday, as you may know, was "Free Comic Book Day."  While that's cool and all, I have to admit that I haven't fully embraced the concept yet.  Why?  Well, there is just something odd or unseemly about it, which I can't even really put my finger on.  I appreciate the idea of promoting comics and comics shops to a wider audience, and I can easily see how nationally promoted free stuff is probably the best way to do that.  The element that sort of sticks in my craw probably has something to do with what one of my Kubert School teachers, Stan Kay, told me years ago.  Regarding cartooning as business, Stan emphasized that "You should always charge something for your work, even if it's only a dollar, or else people will never see the value of what you do."  And I've found that to be true.  People tend to evaluate something by how much a seller, presumably more informed, prices it...and that is especially true about comic books.  That's how we get price guides (without which, an issue of Action Comics #1 would sell for ten cents).  So, when comics themselves, rather than promotional buttons or posters, are given away to whoever wanders through the door, it devalues all other comics, at least a little.  What nascent comics reader would stand in line, on ultra-busy Free Comic Book Day, to purchase a three or four (or six or ten) dollar comic book that they've never seen before when stores give away free comics every year?  An annual handful of free stuff would probably satisfy most comics-curious newbies.  Of course the plan is that they'll take the free stuff home, read it, then get a Jones for another fix before next FCBD, and that might actually happen.  Also, it's great that they just begin to know where their local comics shop is.  That's a definite "plus."  I get all of that, I really do.  Still, there is something about it that doesn't sit comfortably for me.  It may also be that the free comics are, by a wide margin, gobbled up by pre-established comics collectors.  Yes, they might be lapsed readers (like myself, I suppose), or active collectors who'd give a free issue of a new title a chance that they might not have otherwise, but what that still means is that FCBD is really an overly-hyped "freebie table" (as seen at any comics convention) and is therefore, as a "celebration," sadly artificial.  How coincidental, then, that FCBD happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo, a holiday which, like St. Patrick's Day, has lost virtually all remnants of it's originally stated social and spiritual import.  Whoo-hoo!  For one day a year, we consume taquitos, flautas, and Corona beer (or cabbage, corned beef, and Guinness/green beer, depending on which now-soulless ritual I'm referencing), with only vague, and offensively ignorant, comprehension of just why.  I suppose that, like those holidays, FCBD is only as "sacred" as how the comics shop proprietors perceive and handle it.  Some places had special comics signing events, for example, while others had a sort of "Crazy Days" sales event as well.  Of course, smart retailers are smart retailers, regardless of the day.  They will seize upon any advantage that they can to promote their business.  I'm not blaming them, nor anyone for that matter, for my misgivings...I just can't help having them.  I don't really know what it is that bothers me.  Maybe I'm just jealous of all of the cool free stuff I'm missing out on when I can't visit a comics shop on that particular day, in spite of having spent money, actual cash money, in that same store on many occasions.  Or maybe I'm just a grouchy old jerk who can't let go of my small-minded pettiness for even one day per year.  Who knows?  Hmm.  Well, I think I've burned enough of my bridges to the comics community as a whole for the day.  Maybe I'll attack something else that I love tomorrow...like Star Wars!  Here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Aurra Sing!
The Zombie

...and more...

May 10 -  Yeah, it's really almost 3:00PM on the 11th as I type this.  I'm not only a day behind myself, I'm now losing an hour or two more each day!  Now, with just a few minutes left before I have to go to my dread "real" job, I wanted to try to get to the topic at hand for this month, namely Star Wars comic books.  Let me take you back to the last few days of the 1977 school year.  Somewhere in those golden days, I, a spastic eleven-year-old nerdling, was eating at a local deli-style restaurant, The Gingerbread House.  The establishment was little more than a typical school lunchroom, complete with serving ladies wearing hairnets and community-style seating.  Undoubtedly, we had just come from church, happy to have our Methodist services end about fifteen minutes before those of the two larger Catholic churches in town (no lines, ample seating).  As we settled down to munch our mashed potatoes and fried chicken, I noticed that a stranger, sitting across from us, was reading People magazine...but not just any People magazine.  It was the issue that first featured a sneak-peak of the yet to be released Star Wars!  Even from across the room, the full-cover photo, of what looked like a rusty gold robot standing on a sand-dune beneath a robin's-egg-blue sky, instantly changed me.  Although I didn't know it at the time, I had just become a lifelong Star Wars fan.  I pointed out the cover to my Mom, and begged her to purchase the mag from the stranger.  Compromising, she eventually did buy my own copy from a newsstand.  Over the course of the following Summer, year, decade, and, indeed, thirty years since, I have gone to the "newsstand" many, many times to quench my Star Wars addiction.  Tomorrow (or...tonight...or whatever), time willing, I will pick the story up from there.  Until then, here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Lando Calrissian!

May 9 -  I don't know why I am insisting upon labeling this as the "May 9" entry, since it is nearly 2:00PM on the 10th as I type it.  Ever since a recent string of early AM gigs at high school Post-Prom events, my clock has been off.  And why can't I ever feel like I've gained a day, rather than having lost one?  Whatever.  Now, as I have about twenty minutes to myself, I have a lot to tell to you, but very little time to type it (especially in light of my dangerously slow "Hunt And Peck" typing method, which I call "H.A.P. Hazard").  Basically, The WOMP Staff and I have been going on several very interesting, and rewarding, hikes.  That's been great, and I want to share those adventures with you...later.  Also, I have yet to delve into any of the Star Wars comics, subject of this month's "...Of The Day" feature, but I will...later.  I received a generously free comic (in honor of my new mortal enemy, Free Comic Book Day) from O.F.O.WOMP Brian Payne.  It is utterly amazing, and has made me realize that I have to write a review of it...later.  And I have just been made aware that another of my personal comics heroes, the incomparable Marshall Rogers, passed away back in March.  Mr. Rogers was among the most influential artists of my youth, as well as to most of my Kubert School classmates and other such peers.  I will, I must, write about my feelings about Marshall Rogers and his legacy...later.  Basically, it seems as though I am living a life of "later," and it is starting to worry me.  So seldom do I live in "now" that I've forgotten that I'm supposed to.  I have spent the vast majority of my 116 years on Earth concentrating on "later," perhaps to my detriment.  I suppose we all do, to varying degrees.  I guess that's how it goes.  Speaking of which, I have to get out of here for now, leaving just enough time to post your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Vilmarh "Villie" Grahrk!

May 8 -  Well, it's actually almost noon on May 9th as I type this "May 8" entry, so forgive me if it's a little more loopy than usual.  I did get about an hour and a half of sleep, but, otherwise, I have been busy drawing...well, stuff.  Once again, I must not reveal too much of what I am working on because of the secrecy of it (which, by the way, is a sure sign that the projects are for business or personal use, not publication...if this stuff were to be published, I'd be blogging about every step, just for the extra advertisement).  Anyhoo, I did want to mention that my latest rant, about Free Comic Book Day, has struck a nerve with some of you WOMP-Blog readers.  Two of you even took the time to write!  Newly minted O.F.O.WOMP Vickie McKay asked...

Mr. Mundt

You think comic books are obsolete?  You think this is a second Golden Age of comics?  Which is it?  Unless you think that the best comics are being made while they are becoming obsolete?  I really enjoy the Womp Blog, but I think you might be nuts!!!

Vickie; of course I am nuts!  That's the result of being an optimistic pessimist.  Hmm.  And old-school O.F.O.WOMP Brent Frankenhoff, Trail Boss of Comics Buyer's Guide, wrote this...

All right, you can temper my remarks back to you with the little caveat that it was one of our columnists, Joe Field, who suggested the idea in the first place, lo those many years ago.

Free Comic Book Day, in my opinion, really serves two purposes: It's supposed to help draw new or lapsed readers back to comics and it works as a sort of "customer appreciation" day for longtime customers.

Shops that are really into it are already promotionally minded for the most part, while the others tag along and hope for some of the goodwill generated by the stores that go all out to fall on them as well.

If FCBD weren't successful and were viewed as the "last gasp" of a dying industry, do you think there would also be Free Trading Card Day and Free Role-Playing Game Day coming up?

Geez, John, I feel your pain having lived in that neck of the woods all those years with fewer and fewer outlets to get my comics as the years went on, but c'mon. You're not any farther from LaCrosse or Dubuque than I am from Green Bay or Appleton. I would think one of the stores would have been happy to have you in for a signing on FCBD, giving them and you some much needed exposure.

More good points!  Thanks Brent!  Well, gotta go...here's the Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - C-3PO!
The Zombie

A few more entries from The WOMP-Blog (the ORIGINAL one)

May 14 -  Happy 63rd Birthday, George Lucas!  Yep, it's the big man's B-Day today, right smack-dab in the middle of Star Wars Month here in the ol' WOMP-Blog.  As the 30th anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars rolls around in a few days, think about this; the film's director had just turned 33 when it debuted.  When I was 33, it was all I could do to draw cutesy monkeys.  Yikes!  I guess that's the difference between genius and me.  What were you doing at 33?  Or, if you have yet to reach that ripe old age, what do you expect to accomplish by then?  Holy Moley!  I bet it won't be Star Wars.  Ugh.  Well, after we all get done feeling like crud because we'll never change the world with a masterful vision of science fiction and fantasy, I guess we can take solace in knowing that at least we were alive to enjoy George's.  Sigh.  Now, though, I have to wrap this up, since my web-server is going to undergo several hours of maintenance, and a big storm is a-brewing.  Here's your apropos Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Obi-Wan Kenobi!

May 13 -  Mothers Day!  I hope you told your mama that you love her.  Even though I was called into the dread "real" job early (UGH!), I did get to see my Mom, but not my Mom-In-Law.  As sometimes happens with married folks, our respective families had competing events planned for the same time, so I went with my Mom, while The WOMP Staff went with hers.  Oh, well.  Anyhoo, it is now just minutes before The Staff will have a half-hour lunch break, so I don't have much time to post anything.  I did want to follow up a little on the "review" of the Marvel Special Edition Star Wars adaptations that I gave a couple of nights ago; that was about issue #1.  Things changed a bit by issue #2, which collected issues numbers 4 through 6 of the regular series.  By then, everyone fully understood what was at stake, as the film had broken box office records and dramatically changed Pop Culture in general.  The second issue of the Special Edition featured some additional work, meant to spruce up and fill in the somewhat lackluster reprinting.  Artists Rick Hoberg, Bill Wray, and Dave Stevens were brought on board, apparently to provide some illustratorly flourishes to the otherwise thin material.  Remember, this was 1977, so these now-famous comics creators were still very young, joining the youthful crew of Steve Leialoha and Howard "Howie" Chaykin, who was now credited as being the "layout artist."  For good measure, legendary artist Tony deZuniga provided an illustration for the back cover.  Now, I have to split.  Here's your Mothers Day Installment of The Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Padme Amidala!

May 12 -  Yoips!  Too busy to post.  Here's the 12th's Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Chewbacca!

May 11 -  It's all such a blur.  C'mon; after thirty years, do you really expect me to remember everything about the fabled Summer of Star Wars, 1977?  Well, I don't.  The specifics have mashed together in my mind, becoming less history and more legend.  However, while the details of exactly when and where may have escaped me, the feelings I experienced never will.  The emotions, the thrills, of that Summer are forever ingrained in the core of my soul.  For example, only the National Anthem can move me the way that the film's sudden symphonic fanfare opening can.  That main musical theme, so full of wonder, grandeur, power, excitement, and drama, brings me to tears whenever I hear it...especially if I'm in a darkened theater.  Keeping this all in mind, I have to say that I went on a Star Wars buying spree that year that has only now begun to taper off.  What did I buy first, and from where?  Who knows.  I do know that among the many rare treasures I picked up that year are Star Wars comics, starting with the comic book adaptation of the film (all variations...of which there seemed to be thirty-six at the time).  As I type this, I have my original Marvel Special Edition tabloid-size versions, numbers 1 and 2, right next to me.  They were contemporary reproductions of the first several issues of the comics (or vise versa?), but they have many unusual features that make them more interesting than straight-out adaptations.  For example, Jabba The Hutt makes an appearance...sort of.  Cut from the original theatrical release of Star Wars (before it was more widely known as Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope), Jabba was merely a smarmy-looking human (a British human, at that).  For the adaptation, the writer (legendary Roy Thomas) must have worked from the film's script, because the deleted scene is included.  However, no-one gave Jabba's physical description to artists Steve Leialoha and Howard Chaykin, because he appears as a sort of green-skinned camel-man wearing an orange paramilitary uniform.  Weird!  Oh, and speaking of "weird," I think I have to comment on the seemingly slap-dash quality of the artwork itself.  As an artist, Steve Leialoha has always had my respect (and you can't beat having the name "Leia" right there in your moniker...must have been destiny), and Howard Chaykin is probably somewhere around fifteenth on my all-time favorites list, yet...yet this effort was not their best work.  Some pages seem to have been drawn by one and inked by the other, some pages look like they inked their own pencils, and many pages look like they were inked by a team of 8th-graders who happened to have been taking the Marvel Bullpen tour when the deadline approached.  The success of Star Wars caught everyone by surprise, and these comics have the feel of a mad dash to cash-in on that popularity as quickly as possible.  Considering the film's now-recognized status as an all-time classic, these cranked-out comics tie-ins seem particularly...um...unfortunate.  Thankfully, things have only improved from there.  More later, but now it's time for your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Aaylas'ecura/Aayla Secura!
The Zombie

Some WOMP-Blog entires from...well...The WOMP-Blog

May 19 -  Two premiere anniversaries tonight.  Star Wars; Episode 1, The Phantom Menace was released to theaters on this date in 1999, and Star Wars; Episode 3, Revenge of The Sith debuted on May 19th, 2005.  One of the "secrets" of the Star Wars films is the attention given to patterns and symbolism, and that extends all the way though the dates chosen for premieres.  George Lucas called the films "a poem that rhymes," and that metaphor seems apt.  I'm not so sure, however, that the same thing could be said for the "Expanded Universe," especially as it affects Star Wars comic books.  The comics seem to be peripheral at best, if not inconsequential...having about as much influence on the world of the films as the color of a paint job does to the speed of a racecar.  Looking at some of my own personal collection (which is by no means authoritative nor complete), these comics seem to fall into two categories; adaptations and "side adventures."  The adaptations are not only of the movies, but also of some of the Expanded Universe books and television projects (Droids, Ewoks, Clone Wars, etc.).  Events of the "side adventures" supposedly take place between the films, before the films, or, rarely, after the films.  The most notable exception to all of this seems to be the misadventures of Tag and Bink, two hapless Everymen who wander though the background of some of the major moments of the movies.  Otherwise, there has been no attempt to truly continue the storylines of the films through other media.  And I'm not all that sure that such a thing would even be smart, but there is a precedent, and it comes from the world of comics!  In the Golden Age of newspaper comics, about half of them featured continuous, cohesive storylines (as opposed to gags).  Those strips featured daily advancement of the story, yet they were also designed in such a way that a reader could enjoy the storyline by reading just the Sunday color installments.  This made for a lot of hemming and hawing during the week, to be sure, but not always (in fact, a small handful of strips ran two completely different storylines; a weekday-only story and a Sunday-only story).  Sometimes readers would see important story elements develop in the daily strips, usually at the hands of auxiliary characters, which would be revealed to the main characters in the Sunday segments.  If you read only the Sunday funnies, you'd just see Sam run in and say "Tracy!  I figured it out!  It's been Flattop all along!"  Sunday readers got a full story, but daily readers saw how that story developed, and that was much more rewarding.  At one point, comics legend and chief cheerleader Mort Walker estimated that such story-strips accounted for as much as thirty percent of daily newspaper sales.  I guess it's human nature...everyone wants to be "in the know," so this was a pretty effective tool to move newsprint.  Speaking of Irwin Hasen, as I was a couple of nights ago, I should mention that he was the artist of one of the most successful story-strips ever, Dondi.  Dondi was an Italian World War Two war orphan who was adopted by a group of American soldiers, who then brought the kid back to the U.S. with them.  It was a great premise, and Irwin knew what he was doing with it (even winning several cartooning awards for it over the years).  While he was my teacher (over twenty years ago now...UGH), he went to great pains to try to pass on his "secret formula" for balancing story advancement and weekly recaps.  In a nutshell, it was this; for the daily strips, recap the last strip in the first panel, comment on that in the second panel, advance it all slightly in the third panel (stretching it to a fourth when required), ending with a question or cliffhanger.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The Sunday strip, then, was composed of the first recap from the beginning of the week (which was also, presumably, the last question or cliffhanger from the previous Sunday strip), a repeating of each of the third panels from the weekday strips, and a final panel which ended with a new question or cliffhanger.  He felt that it was important to give Sunday readers a pay-off before that final panel, so that's where he'd advance the past week's story to a resolution point (sometimes major, sometimes minor).  There was more to all of it, of course, but that's basically what he did for several years, leaving poor Dondi in a perpetual state of worry (or, at least he always looked worried).  Most of his rules were actually dictated by editorial decree.  It was important that the strip's storyline be accessible to even those who only saw, say, the occasional Wednesday paper as well.  Much like my reluctance to ever, ever watch a single episode of Lost because I know that there will be absolutely no possible way for me to figure out what the heck is going on, comic strip readers might shy away from anything too confusing.  In practice, this is very frustrating.  Every single one of my literal "college tries" to create a story-strip were met with disgust and many scribbled corrections from Irwin as he said "No, no, NO!  You're advancing the story too much!  You should spread these three panels out over three WEEKS!"  AK!  It's hard, working in that fashion.  This constant struggle to tell a story while also not telling it is one of the reasons (of many) that Garry Trudeau requires that Doonesbury be run as an editorial cartoon...just so that he can get some real storytelling done within his lifetime!  The "rules" have relaxed a bit now, and there are very few story-strips anymore anyway.  Still, that old-school lesson in utilizing different forms of storytelling and media to tell a single larger story could come in handy for the world of Star Wars.  And don't say "But they're done making Star Wars films," because we are about a year away from a highly anticipated live-action Star Wars TV series! I don't know much about it yet, but I can guess two things; it will have comic book tie-ins in some way, and it will have some sort of "premiere" in the month of May.  Hey!  That rhymes!  Here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Darth Maul!

May 18 -  Aha!  I've caught up!  Well, sort of.  It's still the 19th as I post this "May 18th" entry, but it's the early, wee, AM hours at the tail-end of my "May 18th" day, so it still counts.  Of course, now that I say all of this, I am actually going to quickly wrap it all up because it is (was) The WOMP Staff's birthday today!  She is   censored  years old now; still just a young'n.  Anyhoo, it's all about her today, so I'm done messing with the WOMPuter for the night, I guess.  Here, then, is your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Greedo!

May 17 -  Yes, yes...I am running a day behind...still!  I don't know why I don't just skip ahead so that I am actually posting my entries on the days that I am supposedly writing them...or writing them on the days that I am supposed to post them...or are posting and writing and it's the same day and...whatever.  You know what I mean.  I guess I just have so much planned for each day that I am unwilling to skip one (yeah, right).  Whatever the reason, I am now posting this "May 17" entry at about 2:00PM on the 18th.  Let's imagine (shall we?) that it is really still the 17th.  As such, I want to say "Happy 45th Birthday, Craig Ferguson!"  I watch Mr. Ferguson every weeknight on the Late, Late Show, and really enjoy his somewhat awkward, off-the-cuff, and, dare I say, cheeky style.  Another aspect that I enjoy, much more than I would have ever imagined, is that he is basically the same age as I am.  His references are from my lifetime, his perspectives were formed by the same world events as I experienced, and his current interests mirror mine quite often.  It is surprising to me that this would even matter to me, but it sort of does.  For better or worse, he is speaking for me and my generation.  Neat!  I've said it here before, but I should repeat my childhood concern that I was living through a particularly uninteresting, unremarkable time.  Looking back, this seems ridiculous (if not preposterous), but very little of the world of my youth seemed timeless to me at the time.  How could I know then that Disco would eventually seem classic, Jimmy Carter would ever be seen as a hero, and people would look back at Happy Days as part of a Golden Age of TV comedy?  All I knew then was that they were all nearly insufferable and/or wholly embarrassing.  Of course, there were exceptions, like the NASA space program and, again, Star Wars.  Strangely, as thirty years have passed, the fictional space adventures like those in Star Wars have more of an impact on modern public consciousness than actual space explorations.  In fact, if it weren't for the astronaut-diapers lady, most people wouldn't be sure whether NASA was still operating.  That saddens me.  When I was a kid, the two went hand in hand, and both camps knew it.  Why do you think NASA caved to the Nerd Nation by naming the first operational space shuttle The Enterprise?  To me, "science fantasy" fuels "science fact," and vice versa.  When one lags behind, it hurts both.  Of course, both are still plugging along, perhaps even thriving, but now only one holds a warm place in day-to-day common awareness.  In great part, we've become a world of dreamers who don't imagine those dreams as ever coming true.  We embrace the fiction, but ignore the science.  Beyond Stephen Hawking, I would be hard-pressed to name any "famous" scientist...and, now that I think about it, I'm not even sure what a "scientist" is anymore.  When I was a kid, it was the people (mostly men) in those long white lab coats who mixed colorful or bubbling chemicals in beakers, or wrote an elaborate series of confusing numbers and symbols on a chalkboard.  That may not have been true, but it seemed like it.  And I used to know all sorts of living physicists, theorists, scientists, and researchers right off the top of my head, from Carl Sagan to Wernher von Braun.  Now?  Maybe those people who cracked the human genome...but which ones?  Maybe the problem is that there are no longer these grand, visionary, larger than life figures in the scientific fields, replaced, rather, by dedicated, but faceless, teams of people.  Maybe the problem is that there are few truly grand discoveries being made anymore.  Maybe it's just the media's unwillingness to focus on deserving scientists when so many hot celebrities are getting arrested all the time.  Whatever the reason, it seems like a legitimate problem to me.  There is an entire generation of these people who were first introduced to their passion by catching a glimpse of it in an episode of Star Trek or in the pages of comic books, then led to their professions by corresponding news stories of similar scientific discoveries.  If one of those legs is cut off, the whole thing may fall.  Hmm.  Well, I've pontificated enough for one day (yesterday?).  Here is your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Plo Koon!

May 16 -  Today, the 16th, marks the first of this month's Star Wars films' premiere anniversaries.  On this date, "way back" in 2002, Star Wars; Episode 2, Attack of The Clones made its debut.  By this point in the relationship between Star Wars and comic books, adaptations were de rigueur, expected purely as a matter of tradition.  I'm not even sure whether or not I even purchased the Clones comics...or even whether anyone did, for that matter.  Back in the day, however, authentic Star Wars comics were scarce, and the vast majority quickly were declared "non-canon" by the time The Empire Strikes Back came out.  As a young reader, this was greatly disappointing.  All of the emotional investment and, to be honest, zealous nerdity that I had given to the stories and details of those comics worlds went right out the window.  This non-canonization also affected Star Wars; Splinter of The Mind's Eye, an amazing first serious attempt at an expanded SW storyline, written by Sci-Fi legend Alan Dean Foster.  As a fifth grader, I devoured that book, which was probably meant for older readers than I.  I was so convinced that it was the secret blueprint for the coming film sequel, that I memorized every detail.  Boy, was I wrong.  Just as happened with the comics, it turns out that none of the book's storyline ever "happened" (most notably the romance between Luke and Leia...ICKY!).  When the original Marvel Star Wars comics series finally came to a merciful end, it had so diverged from the continuity of the films that Ewoks, the Star Comics series for kids, more closely resembled the accepted storyline.  At a certain point, the SW licensers just gave up and started all over again.  By the time the Star Wars Galaxy found an appreciative new home at Dark Horse, the continuity controls were pretty firmly in place...to such an extent that some of the comics characters found their way into the films, like Aayla Secura.  I've been thinking a lot about those "lost continuities" of the non-canon comics, starting with the bizarre green-skinned camel-guy Jabba way back in 1977.  There is something almost quaint or romantic about those characters who have since been erased from official existence.  It reminds me of the marvelous stories that are in that book of Superman comic strip reprints that I got for Christmas.  Like the SW stories, these were contemporaneous continuities, in many cases more accessible and well known than what became the "official" continuity.  How sad that these works have been arbitrarily removed from "history."  From my days at the Kubert School twenty years ago, I remember fondly the look on the face of teacher Irwin Hasen when we told him that one of his comics creations, Wildcat, was still "alive."  He had no idea, and the revelation left him teary-eyed and thankful.  Think about how much of his work has been labeled as "never happened," purely because of the whims of taste and convenience.  That Wildcat is still sluggin' along, 65 years since he was introduced, must fill Irwin with understandable, and well deserved, pride (on a side-note, Mr. Hasen suffered a stroke a couple of weeks ago.  If you are so inclined, get-well cards can be sent to him at Irwin Hasen (patient), c/o The VA Hospital, 423 East 23rd Street, 13th Floor, New York, NY 10010).  Anyhoo, I felt that something should be done to recognize the unique non-canon, outside-continuity creations from some of these artists, so I have been inspired to draw a few of them.  I call it the Denizens of Lost Worlds series, and I've already completed two.  The first is of the mute leader of the bird-men of The Underground World, one of the Fleischer animated Superman shorts of the 1940's.  The second is that non-traditional Jabba The Hutt which I've been discussing recently.  As I was drawing them, it really struck me that I may be the only artist to have revisited these characters since they first appeared decades ago (give or take a year).  I want to expand the series to at least five total characters, so I am looking for three more.  If you, dear reader, have a suggestion, I'd be happy to hear it.  I am looking for characters which were once solidly accepted as being part of whatever "official" continuity there may have been, but have since been "eliminated."  Speaking of elimination, I am out of time, so I have to end this rambling with your Attack of The Clones inspired Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Mace Windu!

May 15 -  Man, oh man.  I am whipped!  I have been working now for twenty-three hours straight...or should I say that I have been awake for twenty-three hours straight.  The "working" moments probably only add up to ten hours or so, but, any way you slice it, I am exhausted!  Whew!  Now, at about 11:00AM on the 16th, I finally have a moment to post at least something before I collapse.  But what?  Things here at WOMP H.Q. have been busy, but not particularly all that interesting.  I guess I have been making some preliminary Fallfire 4 plans, but nothing more than a little legwork and calendar planning.  Oh, I did want to talk a bit more about Star Wars comic books (just a bit).  Since 1977, I purchased a LOT of SW comics material, starting with the continuing series adventures from Marvel.  A short while later (1979?), I also began saving Star Wars comic strips!  Yep, the "Star Wars Effect" touched virtually every aspect of American life back then, from Bob Hope monologues and Presidential directives, to shoelaces and drinking straws...and that included the newspaper comics.  First came the knock-offs, of course, but, eventually the immortal Russ Manning was coaxed back into the comics biz by an offer to draw, and write, his own official Star Wars strip.  What a perfect fit!  The genius behind Magnus: Robot Fighter comic books from the previous decade was back in the realm of futuristic architecture, space princesses, and shiny metal robots.  Of course, at 12 years old, I didn't know anything about Magnus...for me, I was just thrilled that his strip prominently featured C-3PO (my favorite SW character).  Unfortunately, after just about a year, Mr. Manning was diagnosed with cancer.  The comic strip was handed to others (including fellow comics legends Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson), while Mr. Manning underwent treatment.  Sadly, he never recovered, and, in 1982, he passed away at the age of 53.  While I admit that I also enjoyed later versions of the strip, I will always have a special place in my heart for those earliest Russ Manning adventures.  And, on that note, I must get some sleep (more dread "real" job today...in just five hours! UGH!), so here's your Star Wars Comic Book Character of The Day - Lobot!