May 21st, 2008

The Zombie

Willing, But Not Cable

May 20 -  Hey, thanks for noticing.  Noticing what, you ask?  Oh...you mean that you didn't realize that my cable connection to the Internet was accidentally cut over a week ago?  Do you mean to say that you had absolutely no idea that I was tearing my hair out while I couldn't connect up to The WOMP-Site or Google or LiveJournal or MapQuest or PhotoBucket or any of the sites of Official Friends of WOMP or even any of my several e-mail accounts?  Well, of COURSE you didn't know!  NO ONE knew, apparently.  Due to my recent history of bloggy slacking, I guess everyone just assumed that I was off having a grand old time, lazily doodling away instead of posting entries in The WOMP-Blog.  OH, AND NO-ONE WROTE AN E-MAIL TO ME ALL WEEK!  Until earlier, when O.F.O.WOMP Brent Frankenhoff sent me a quick note, I got nothing but junk e-mails in any of my inboxes!  Sheesh!  You all sure know how to make a guy feel wanted.  Sigh.  I suppose I can overlook it this time.  After all, I see that you've all been very busy (the cable was finally reconnected today, so I've been checking on all of ya).  Except...

Except it happened again!  After typing the above in the early morning hours of the 20th, our Internet was again severed!  It was out until about 9:00PM!  Something happened system-wide, too, because no-one at this end of town had Internet.  Ugh.  And what a week to be out of touch!  So much has happened that I want to talk about that, just in case it all goes out again, I'm going to now try to cram in as much "catch-up" material as possible.  Here goes...

1) Happy very-belated 81st birthday greetings to Hy Eisman!  A master of the cartooning old guard, and a former teacher of mine at The Kubert School, Hy is an ageless wonder.  He's still actively plugging along, now drawing the Sunday Popeye comic strip.  I recently came across a blog posting by a great cartoonist, and fellow XQB (that's slang for "Ex-Kubie," a Kubert School student), named Ron Tornoe, who wrote THIS wonderful, short tribute to Hy, which includes a classic photo!  Check it out!

2) My condolences to the family, friends, and fans of the great Will Elder, who passed away a couple of days ago.  Mr. Elder, master comedic cartoonist, is a spiritual father of not just MAD Magazine (for which he is best known), but of modern American humor in general.  Without Mr. Elder, there would probably never have been The Simpsons, South Park, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Onion, or any of the other hundreds of reverentially-irreverent, satiric commentators of American culture, politics, and society.  Oh, and he was an awesome cartoonist, too!  He was one of the best, most technically proficient artists ever published.  In fact, during World War Two, it was he who hand-drew maps for the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day.  The Los Angeles Times had a wonderful article about Mr. Elder HERE that goes into greater detail, if you're interested (although they didn't mention the D-Day thing, so that may be just one of those cartoonist legends that I heard some place).

3) I've been meaning to tell you about Brad Williams.  Brad, son of my once-upon-a-time Sixth Grade teacher, Virginia Williams, has been in the news recently (including just this last week on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta) because he has hyperthymestic syndrome.  While that sounds terrible, it actually is an amazing ability to remember much more than the normal person.  Brad can recall pretty much all events that ever happened to him.  Instantly.  Give him any date from his lifetime (after age five or so), and he'll tell you what day of the week it was, what historical events happened that day, what he had for lunch, what the weather was like, or whatever else you might want to know.  Because he is one of only three people worldwide known to have this astounding condition, he is currently being studied by University of California-Irvine researchers (more on that HERE), and is the subject of a documentary film being produced by his brother Eric (more about that HERE).  All of this comes as no big surprise to any of us who knew Brad, or, indeed, any of the remarkable Williams clan.  As a family, they've had an enormous impact on our hometown of Prairie du Chien.  In fact, Brad and Eric's late father, Griff, was something akin to our unofficial city historian.  He inspired me to collect stories and artifacts from PdC history, just as he had for years.  Eric wrote a wonderful tribute to his dad HERE, if you'd like to know more about him.  I just feel privileged to have known this great family (I still see Mrs. Williams nearly weekly).  I can't wait to see that documentary!

4) Please forgive me, but I just have to gush a little about the latest addition to the ranks of Official Friends of WOMP, the incredible Teri S. Wood!  Teri is one of my absolutely most favorite comic book artists of all time, even though she's been on something of a hiatus from the medium for a while.  She wrote, drew, and mostly self-published the amazing series Wandering Star.  Her sequential work - both writing and illustration - is beautiful, incredibly inventive, always surprising, and imbued with a creative ingeniousness which fills me with equal parts child-like wonder and bitter-old-man envy.  She is currently having something of a personal reemergence onto the comics scene, albeit still in a quiet way.  I'm so happy for her, and wish her nothing but the very best!  Thanks for coming aboard the WOMP Train, Teri! 

5) The lovely WOMP Staff had birthday number censored this last weekend, so we took off for the day to celebrate (no Internet for a week, so we did lots of other stuff...just like people of old).  For reasons which escape me now, we went to the tourist black hole of the upper Midwest, Wisconsin Dells.  Why?  I don't know.  I guess we just like to torture ourselves.  In fact, while there, we actually visited the Museum of Historic Torture Devices, so there may be some truth to that (by the way, the museum was small but pretty thorough, displaying every form of torture, from thumbscrews and dunking chairs to crucifixion and the Three Stooges - REALLY!).  Anyhoo, while in the Dells, we hit several antique stores, she looking for quilts and similar folksy artisania, me for comics.  Amazingly, in one shop, I found a copy of the first comic which I'd ever owned, Wacky Witch #22!  I still have my original copy (of course), but it's in such a state of tatters that I'm always hoping to find a better copy.  Unfortunately, this copy had a big gouge out of the middle of the entire book.  Incredibly, it had a price tag of $4.00 on it anyway, so I couldn't bring myself to buy it.  Is that some sort of statement about my childhood? 

6) Omigosh.  I've yet to finish my Oconocon report!  ACK!  Well, here's...

O, Con(ocon) - Part Four
An Oconomic Report
Back at the WOMP table, I spoke with many interesting conventioneers.  A handful even took a chance on back-issues of The Adventures of Monkey.  At this point, they are practically relics of another era, but the series is still "new" if you've never heard of it, I guess.  I had lots of fun introducing new readers to Monkey's world, and even did a short podcast (?) interview where I also talked about Snakeman and my awful "Forbidden" characters like Mr. Squish.  That was cool.  I was also visited by Stephen Olle, whom I first met ten years ago.  Back then, he was an editor at COMBO Magazine, which, thanks to his intervention, actually reviewed T.A.O.M. in issue #36, in what ended up being that periodical's final issue.  For the last ten years, I've searched for that illusive last issue, never having seen what was said about my comic in it's very first published review.  Well, Stephen knocked my monkey-socks off when he presented me with a copy of COMBO #36!  After all this time, I could hardly believe it!  I waited until later that night to read the review, afraid of what it might do to my psyche while I was still in "sales mode."  So, here, in a little aside, is the entire article written by Ian M. Feller, as it appeared in his January, 1998, column, Independent Review;

Adventures of Monkey #1
World of Monkey Productions, $1.50
Black and White
Story/Art/Cover Art: John Mundt, Esq.
of Note: Continues Monkey's adventures from the mini-comics.  Issues #2 and #3 are also available.
The Scoop: In the first story, the super-powered Monkey tells a tale from his past to his young nephew that shows where true self-confidence and heroism come from.  In story two, as Monkey helps out his nephew at school, he is summoned to stop a villain from stealing what he thinks is a valuable artifact from a museum.  Things don't go as planned for either of them, setting the scenario for future issues. 
The Upside: A great comic for readers of all ages.  The stories are fun and uplifting and deliver a positive message that's easy to take.
The Downside: Because this continues from the mini-comics, some things are not explained.  Monkey is president, but of what we are never told.
Contact: 1411 South 14th Street, Prairie du Chien, Wis. 53821-2835.

And that's it, except for a picture of the cover of T.A.O.M. #1 along with the caption "No, he's not related to Beppo."  Kind of an anticlimax after ten years of anticipation, but a wonderful gesture on behalf of Stephen, who, just about to move to New Mexico (and probably has by now), went out of his way to get the magazine to me.  THANK YOU, STEPHEN!  Anyway, as the show wound down, Dad and I took apart the displays and such and were just about to leave...when we spotted the inimitable Maggie Thompson, Grandmaster Flash of the Comics Buyer's Guide.  We stopped and chatted with her for a bit, learning that she had just that weekend dropped a load of cash on a bunch of nifty books and DVDs which all sounded just so cool.  One was an old BBC series, starring Bob Hoskins, which was set in the early days of the British movie industry.  I must admit that I was a bit chagrined to find out that it was called Flickers (the same name I gave to my comic book story-maybe-someday-series based on the early days of the Hollywood movie industry...and vampires), but I'm grateful for the tip!  After a while, her ride, Knights of The Old Republic author John Jackson Miller, came to whisk her back to Iola, so we said our goodbyes.  I also sought out the Oconocon's organizer, Joshua Goes, and told him that I'd had a great time.  After that, we jumped in the car and headed back to WOMP Central, our mission complete.  I hope that there's a second annual Oconocon, 'cause I would love to go back!

7) Hats!  Hats, hats, hats.  I'll have more thoughts on the subject of comics characters' hats later (tomorrow?), but I want to get back to posting their names.  As a special feature, tonight I'll provide two names for each of the backlogged days I missed!  I leave you, then, with your Hat-Wearing Comic Book Character (and Bonus Character) of The Day for - May 11 - Goofy (and Mr. Mxyzptlk), May 12 - Silent Bob (and Spirit of '76), May 13 - The Mysterious Traveler (and Mandrake The Magician), May 14 - The Cisco Kid (and The Question), May 15 - Stumbo The Giant (and Rorschach), May 16 - Crimson Avenger (and Mister Mystery), May 17 - the "Golden Age" Flash (and the "Golden Age" Sandman), May 18 - Lady Luck (and Mademoiselle Marie), May 19 - Zorro (and GrimJack), and May 20 - Thor (and Wacky Witch)!