April 14th, 2008

The Zombie

...Does Whatever A Spider-Jerk Can

April 14 -  ...or a week later, as it turns out.  Way back on the 8th, I ended my entry with the hopeful phrase "More on that tomorrow."  Hmm.  Time flies when you're swamped with work and exhausted from obesity.  Now, although much later than originally planned, I hope to continue my thoughts about comic book jerks, but first I want to address some of the other subjects that I've been letting slip recently.  Because I'm still short on time and energy, I'll redirect you to a couple of other blogs or sites that have better coverage than I'd be able to provide anyway.  So, here we go...

1) The passing of Jim Mooney.  As someone suggested to me about a year ago, the medium of comics is now at an age where it seems, sadly, that its founders are dying off at a rate of one per week.  Jim Mooney was one of those founders...or perhaps it would be more appropriate to call him one of its foundations.  Mr. Mooney has been there, as an inker or penciller or whatever, for everything from the dawn of the Golden Age to a Funky Winkerbean daily comic strip that was just published yesterday (see more about that HERE, as reported by Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading), but he was known only to those comic book geeks who really paid attention.  He was instrumental in, well, virtually every long running character, title, or publisher ever, but is most often remembered as the Supergirl artist who brought Streaky, The Super-Cat to life!  Comic book chronicler Daniel Best, who has been working on a biography of Mr. Mooney, posted a wonderful, informative tribute to him HERE on the blog 20th Century Danny Boy.  It's hard to sum up the contributions of this secret titan, except to say that his lush, masterful brush work, and groundbreaking, fluid compositions, have run through the history of comics like lifeblood.  Without him, comic books, and, by extension, the rest of the world, would have been much poorer.

2) Anything Goes.  As I mentioned about a month ago, I was tricked...er, I mean invited to be a chaperone for a middle school field trip to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville production of Cole Porter's Anything Goes (read about the show HERE)  That's a bit like putting a half-wit monkey in charge of rabid squirrels, but I survived (as did the "squirrels").  The production itself was very good - especially the world-class dance numbers - and the cast was enthusiastic and professional, but, well...just between you and me, I prefer my own production from years ago.  Yes, I understand that my memories of the Anything Goes that I directed have probably sweetened over time, but it's not so much my cast that I liked more (although I do...marginally).  Instead, as I watched this version, I couldn't help critiquing the show's direction (in an internal monologue sort of way...it's not like I was heckling the actors or anything).  So many of the directors' choices seemed sorta weak to me, leaving much of the flow of the show (which, since it comes from the era before true musicals, is somewhat disjointed anyway) in the hands of the actors.  While it may be true that a show is only as good as its cast, there are many style and blocking factors which directors traditionally, uh...direct.  I guess that having once directed the exact same show gave me extra insight into the need for some of those particular elements, causing their lack to stick out to me like spotlights were shining on them.  I suppose that all of this sounds very egotistical (and it is), but I uncharacteristically took it to mean something positive; maybe I didn't suck.

3) Brian Payne's daily e-strip reaches #100.  Based heavily on his day to day experiences, O.F.O.WOMP Brian Payne's web-comic Natty Dreadlocks and The Bear has been one of my own daily pleasures since it started.  As strip number 100 loomed, however, we readers began to fear that Brian, through his avatar The Bear, was questioning whether this daily grind was worth the effort.  When The Bear wondered aloud about those things with which all artists (and many of the strip's public commenters) struggle all the time, it looked very much like #100 was going to be the "series finale."  Fortunately for everyone, it wasn't.  Congratulations, Brian!  Here's to hundreds more!

4) Happy (belated) Birthday, David Letterman!  I'm not crazy.  I know that there is absolutely ZERO chance of Mr. Letterman ever actually reading The WOMP-Blog, but I've gotten into the habit of wishing him well on every April 12th anyway.  Except this year.  Oops.

And I'm sure that there is something else which I've neglected to talk about, but I can't remember it right now.  Instead, let me get back to comic book jerks.  Like superheroes, jerks often have "origin stories."  In fact, the origin of Spider-Man is the origin of a jerk!  Once a weakling with thick, clunky eyeglasses, a radioactive spider's bite transformed Peter Parker into a wall-crawling, web-slinging jerk.  Only a tragically ironic twist of fate brings Pete a sense of who he really should be.  Let me pose this; what if Uncle Ben hadn't been killed?  Do you really think that Peter would have "come to his senses?"  Given how he acted in the days before destiny forked his road, I'd say that he would have instead become a Class-A Jerk, maybe even a supervillain.  Why?  Because he had suffered the slings and arrows of jerks his whole life.  One can only squirm under a jerk's thumb for so long before thoughts of revenge are all that motivate getting out of bed each morning.  In fact, heavy doses of jerk can reduce a person to seeing the world in simplified terms of either jerks or the bejerked.  When serially-bejerked Peter Parker suddenly gains an incredible physical advantage over other "normal" people - the permanence of which was never certain - he naturally feels that he has the right to be a jerk.  It never even occurs to him that he could fight fires or join the Space Program or something like that.  In Spider-Man's "origin story," it becomes obvious, then, that the worst thing that jerks do is turn others into jerks, like a sort of a-hole vampirism.  Thankfully for Earth-616, Peter Parker did see the jerkiness of his ways.  He was traumatized into making amends for his brief, disastrous stint as a jerk by subjugating his own happiness in favor of selflessly serving a largely ungrateful mankind.  It is very telling that, in his Spider-Man guise, he often still acts like a jerk, using that "jerk character" to help mask both his identity and his insecurity.  For some other superheroes, however, "jerk" is not an act.  I'll get to that in the next post (tomorrow?).  Here, as I leave you for now, are some backlogged Comic Book Jerks of The Day - April 9 - Mercury; April 10 - Detective Harvey Bullock; April 11 - Mr. Mxyzptlk; April 12 - Hercules (Marvel version); April 13 - Bender; and April 14 - Phoncible P. "Phoney" Bone!