Saturday, December 16, 2017

Some REALLY "Short Shorts"

This is to make up for my extremely lengthy previous post!

1. I wonder if there's a gym specifically for bondage freaks that's called "Fit to Be Tied?" (And yes, I did a Google image search to find photos to illustrate this one... but do you really want to see them?!?)

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2. I'm beginning to think that Donald Trump won't believe anything that doesn't come from his own lips.

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I know, I know, this photo of Roy Moore is totally innocent, but I still couldn't resist using it here!

3. Of course Roy Moore is anti-abortion. He wants to save those fetuses, so in ten to twelve years, he can date them!

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bob Kane, Part One: The Co-Creator ~~A “Comical Wednesday” Post


The above-promised "true story" of Batman and Robin (from 1946), is anything but true! (I'll be posting that entire five-page story later on in this lengthy article!) And to add insult to injury, it was published in a DC comic book called Real Fact Comics. (I guess what we're dealing with here are "alternative facts," right, Kellyanne?)

I learned to read at a relatively early age, and the first proper names I ever read were encountered in comic books. Names like Batman, Robin, Superman, and... Bob Kane!

Who?

Well, you see, as a small child many years ago, I never really thought about the people who "made" the comic books I was reading. Somewhere in the back of my mind, of course, I knew that there actually were people who wrote and drew these colorful heroes, but I had no idea who any of them were.

With one exception.

Bob Kane.

For the first few years of my life, I thought Bob Kane was the only person who had anything to do with the creation of Batman & Robin and the telling of their adventures in the pages of both Detective Comics and Batman.

Why?

Well, because Bob Kane's name was on the first page of every Batman story.


None of the other characters I encountered, whether superhero, funny animals, whatever, had their creators' names showcased like that, except all the stuff credited to Walt Disney. (I assumed that this Disney fellow was a really prolific guy, since he evidently drew all the comics featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest, as well as making all those movies and TV shows!)

A young Bob Kane, in the early 1940s.

When I was about fourteen or so (in the early 1970s), I read the first volume in a series of books called The Steranko History of Comics, one of the first books I ever read that dealt with comics' origins. Jim Steranko was an innovative comic artist who came to prominence in the mid to late 1960s. Volume One of  The Steranko History of Comics covered the earliest years of comic books, including a lengthy discussion on the comic strips that more or less spawned them, and the pulp magazines that also inspired them. Steranko followed up by covering a relative few of the zillions of characters that debuted in the late 1930s and 1940s, focusing on such notables as Superman, Batman, Captain America, Sub-Mariner, the original Human Torch, and others.

Jim Steranko selling autographed copies of his book for a whopping three dollars!

A later photo of Steranko with a handful of his fantastic comic book covers!

This ad for Volume One of  The Steranko History of Comics claims that it covers
"comics from the golden age to the present," but the only two volumes ever
published only dealt with some of the comics published before 1950!

The amazing wraparound cover for The Steranko History of Comics, illustrated (of course) by the author!

It was in the chapter on the early years of Batman that I first learned how much a writer named Bill Finger had to do with the creation of the "caped crusader." But before I tell you about that, let me present the first three pages of the five-page "true" story of Batman and Robin.




The main problem with those first three pages is the load of crapola about the Batman costume that Bob Kane's mom supposedly made, based on Bob's design. The "Bat-Man" that Bob Kane (born Robert Kahn) came up with looked nothing like that at first!

Kane had already had stories published in comic books by 1939, the year of Batman's debut. His original style was much more cartoony. One of his features was Peter Pupp.


An early adventure strip by Kane was Rusty and his Pals. Kane admittedly based the feature and his drawing style for Rusty and his Pals on Milt Caniff's popular comic strip, Terry and the Pirates. (I'll discuss Kane's tendency to "borrow" the art style of several others in my next chapter!)


The "Bat-Man" that Kane envisioned looked very different from the version that premiered in Detective Comics #27. Kane put him in a bright red costume. The character wore a domino mask rather than the long-eared cowl which has been famous for almost eighty years. He wore no gloves. And rather than a cape, he had two bat wings. No Kane drawings remain of this take on the character, but illustrator/author Arlen Schumer drew a recreation of sorts, based on Kane's Batman illustration on the cover of Detective Comics #27.

Recreation by author and illustrator Arlen Schumer.

And this was the world's very first look at the Batman!

Enter writer Milton "Bill" Finger, who made several suggestions that Kane incorporated into the new character. (Well, maybe "enter" isn't quite the right word. Finger was already working for Kane, ghost-writing Rusty and his Pals and another Kane adventure strip, Clip Carson.) Anyway, it was Bill Finger who proposed the cowl with the all-white eyes, and the cape with scalloped edges rather than the two stiff bat wings. He also suggested gloves, so Batman wouldn't leave fingerprints.

One of the unfortunately-few photos of Bill Finger in existence!

In 2012, writer Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrator Ty Templeton came out with a biography of Bill Finger called Bill the Boy WonderThe Secret Co-Creator of Batman. (The book was informative, but if I may be permitted to post a mini-review, I thought its writing seemed geared to younger readers.)


Here's the beginning of their telling of Batman's creation from Bill the Boy Wonder:


But Nobleman and Templeton's biography isn't the only version of the story out there! In 1989, Bob Kane came out with a ghost-written autobiography, Batman and Me, which included his version of Batman's creation.


That book included this infamous sketch, dated 1934:


BUT! It's been proven that the above sketch wasn't drawn until many years after 1934.

Back to Bill Finger: Not only did Bill's suggestions greatly influence the look of the Batman, but he ended up writing the very first Batman story and most of Batman's earliest adventures, although some were scripted by Gardner Fox (no relation to Yours Truly, The Silver Fox!). Finger is credited with contributing facets of the Batman legend such as the Batmobile, the Batcave, the names "Bruce Wayne" and "Gotham City," and writing scores of Batman stories over the years, including those which introduced the Joker, the Catwoman, the Riddler...! He did many of what are called "giant prop" stories, where Batman and Robin fought their foes on or around giant typewriters, sewing machines, even a giant Lincoln penny!

Oh, by the way -- and here's where it starts getting uncomfortable -- when I say "Finger is credited," I mean "credited" only in a figurative sense. You see, when young Bob Kane negotiated the rights to the Batman character with National Comics (later DC Comics), he sold ownership of the character for various compensations, including the condition that only Bob Kane's byline would be allowed on the Batman comics and all other adaptations.

So in terms of being a co-creator of one of the most popular superheroes ever, Bill Finger was left out in the cold.

Here are pages four and five of that "true" story of Batman! No mention of Bill Finger or of Gardner Fox (who, among other things, had come up with the idea of a utility belt for Batman). And I'll save the Joker controversy for a future chapter!



So! As the narrator in my own story "Gonif" once said, "Everythin's there. Course, s'all bullshit, but..."

You may be wondering whatever became of Bill Finger. He wrote Batman stories for many years, but didn't stop there. He was a co-creator of DC's Wildcat, a longtime writer of Green Lantern from GL's first script, and he created the character of Lana Lang, friend and occasional love interest of  Superboy/Superman. But he wrote more than just comics. He wrote a few screenplays. He even wrote a two-part episode of the Batman TV series in the 1960s. And obviously, I'm leaving out a lot.

He was known for being meticulous in his research, giving artists all sorts of visual references for the story points about which he wrote. On the other hand, he was also known for constantly being late handing in his projects.

Bill Finger died in 1974, just a month short of his sixtieth birthday. And although DC noted his passing at the time and gave him a brief eulogy in The Amazing World of DC Comics, one year later a rather shameful comic story appeared in that same magazine. The story, "Through the Wringer," written by the late David V. Reed (also a onetime Batman scripter!), parodied Finger -- transparently named "Phil Binger" -- by ridiculing his penchant for being late, and his tendency to ask for pay advances. If you want to read the full story, feel free. It's here.


Due primarily to Bob Kane's original contract with National Comics, Bill Finger wasn't given proper credit for his part in Batman's creation for seventy-five years. It's only for the last two years that DC Comics, after negotiations with Bill's granddaughter Athena, has finally begun listing credits in Batman comics and movies as "Batman created by Bob Kane, with Bill Finger."

Now, as far as Mr. Kane goes, I'm just getting warmed up! Part Two of this series will be called "Bob Kane: The Swiper" and Part Three will be "Bob Kane: The Glory-Hog." Back when I first envisioned this series as a single post, my working title was "Bob Kane, the Lying Sack of Shit," but I decided to save that designation for another time, in case I ever decide to write a post dealing with a politician.

And one last thing for now: Check out these five illustrations! 






It looks like Bob Kane couldn't get those "bat wings" out of his system!

Thanks for your time.

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In a series of articles discussing creative theft, I feel that I absolutely must include the following acknowledgements and disclaimers in each chapter: I could not have written this three-parter without availing myself of the research and/or “borrowed” photos and illustrations of many others, including (but not limited to) Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton (Bill the Boy Wonder), Arlen Schumer, Steven Thompson (Four-Color Shadows and Days of Adventure), and yes, even Bob Kane himself (Batman and Me)! And I especially want to single out Kirk Kimball (aka “Robby Reed”) of Dial B for Blog, the incredible and highly-recommended blog which supplied me with much information and many of the composite sketches of Bob Kane swipes.

Batman, Robin, Clip Carson, Adventure Comics, the Joker, Bruce Wayne, Real Fact Comics, "The True Story of Batman and Robin," Green Lantern, Detective Comics, Rusty and his Pals, plus almost anything else I've forgotten are copyright © DC Comics, and are used for historical purposes only!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Latest "Thrust Home" Award

Award drawn and "donated" by Skip Simpson,
based on a poster he found on the internet.

As stated in my title, here's the latest award I'm... well... awarding.

But first, here's the obligatory reminder as to what "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award!" is all about:

Bloggers like to give each other awards. One of the drawbacks to these awards is that they're usually given with a set of conditions. Quite often, one of these conditions is that the awardee must first jump through a few select hoops, and then "pass on" the award to a pre-ordained number of other bloggers, which has the unfortunate effect of turning the award itself into more of an internet chain letter than a true honor.

In response to this, I created my own blasted award.

One of my all-time favorite stories is Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano often used the expression "Thrust home!" when fatally piercing an opponent during a sword fight. I've appropriated that phrase for... "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award! -- Given to the Author of a Single Outstanding Blog Post."

And my rules for the award -- and the rules for its recipients -- are:
  • This award will be given by me, and no one else, and generally to only one recipient at a time.
  • I'll only give the award to those whose posts have truly "thrust home" with me, so even my best friends on the 'net might never get one.
  • The award will usually go to a post of what I deem to be of general import and interest, but that may be fudged once in a while to reflect my own biases. (My award, my stupid rules. Deal with it.)
  • There will be no set frequency for the giving of the award.
  • Theoretically, a recipient of "The Silver Fox's THRUST HOME Award!" may win once, twice... or forty-seven times! This is an award for individual blog posts, not for blogs!
  • Recipients would be asked to mention their receipt of said award on their own sites, along with a corresponding link to my own. And a little blurb on your sidebar -- feel free to copy and paste the graphic, of course! -- would be greatly appreciated.
  • Winners are not allowed to give this award to others.
  • Other than that, awardees are not asked to do anything else. You've already done it!
The latest recipient is (Clicking on the blog's bold-faced title will bring you to its latest post, while, as you've probably surmised, clicking on the italicized title of the "winning" post will bring you to that post itself.):


Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke (my thoughts on that here), dozens of women (and men) have accused various celebrities, politicians, and other powerful individuals of varying degrees of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, everything from sexual innuendos and off-color jokes to forcible rape. Some of these people have been silent for years, but are finally emboldened to make these accusations. And all in all, I believe it's a good thing that these people are finally being taken seriously.

Having said that, I always feel uncomfortable when I'm reading about some past or current actor, composer, comedian, whatever, whose work I've enjoyed or admired, but whose personal life shows that he or she isn't or wasn't a very nice human being. Today's award-winning post by Colin D. Smith shares my mixed feelings concerning the accused and their accomplishments, and he no doubt discusses the problem better than I could have. Just click on the above link and read Colin's post.

Congratulations, Colin!

And thanks for your time.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Some People Believe Anything! (A "David'Z RantZ" Post)

I've been kinda busy lately, so I'm still working on my three-part article about the creators of Batman. So no "Comical Wednesday" entry this week! Hopefully Part One will post next Wednesday. Wish me luck.

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Ever hear the following joke?

A strikingly handsome young man walked into the office of a Hollywood agent with his resume and portfolio in hand. The agent reviewed the young man’s slim resume and small portfolio with the care that was deserving of his fine young specimen.

“You have the very obvious good looks and excellent demeanor of an actor. Tell me, have you had any roles that I might be aware of?”

“Other than the requisite high school and college plays, no sir,” said the handsome young man.

“I dare say I know the reason why, with a name like yours,” said the agent.

“Sir?”

“Your name. Penis Van Lesbian. That’s not a name that will go far in Hollywood. I’d love to represent you, but you’ll have to change your name.”

“Sir,” the handsome young man protested. “The Van Lesbian name was my father’s, my grandfather’s, and his father’s name. We have carried this name for generations and I will not change it for Hollywood or any other reason.”

“If you won’t change your name, I cannot represent you, young man.”

“Then I bid you farewell — my name will not change.”

With that, Penis Van Lesbian left the agent's office, never to return.

Five Years Later: The Hollywood agent returned to his office after lunch with some producers and shuffled through his mail. Mostly junk mail, trade journals and the like. There was one letter. He opened the envelope and removed the letter. As he unfolded the fine linen paper, a check dropped from the folds and onto his desk. He looked at the check. It was for 50,000 dollars! He read the letter:

Dear Sir: Several years ago, I entered your office determined to become an actor. You refused to represent me unless I changed my name. I objected, saying the Penis Van Lesbian name had been carried for generations, and left your office. However, upon leaving, I chanced to reconsider my hastiness and after considerable reflection, I decided to heed your advice and endeavored to change my name. Now I am a famous actor with many roles and known to millions worldwide.

Having achieved this fame and fortune, it is often that I think back to my meeting with you and your insistence that I change my name. I owe you a debt of gratitude, so please accept this check with my humble thanks, for it was your idea which has brought me to such wealth and fame.

Very Sincerely Yours,
Dick Van Dyke

Personally, I think it's a cute little joke, but a bit long for something with a punchline that's rather predictable and only mildly amusing.

But do you wanna hear something that's even funnier?

There are people who believe that this story is real.

I swear.

A few weeks ago, I was doing a Google search for a full version of this joke -- don't ask me why -- and I found a link to Snopes.com, a well-known website that confirms or debunks various rumors.

The Snopes article was entitled "Is 'Penis Van Lesbian' Dick Van Dyke's real name?" First, it related the entire joke, and then the article took up its very little remaining space saying that the rumor was not true, but was an obvious joke which, to some people, evidently, was not so obvious after all.

But my favorite part of the Snopes article said that the Penis Van Lesbian joke was repeated on a 1990 episode of David Letterman's show by none other than... Mary Tyler Moore.

By the way, you may have noticed that this post doesn't have any photos or illustrations. That's because I couldn't think of one that wouldn't spoil the joke for anyone who didn't see its punchline coming!

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"Separated at Birth?" Once Again


My sister's birthday is Monday, December 4th, so I'll be giving her her birthday present when I see her on Sunday (the same day this article posts). She's a big fan of TV's The West Wing, so she'll be receiving the boxed set of the complete series on DVD, as pictured above. As it happens, my friend John has the same set, so the last time I visited him, I asked if I could look at the contents of the box so I'd have an idea of what my sister would be getting.

One of the things that caught my eye was a photo of actress Janel Moloney (pictured below), who portrayed the character of Donna Moss. I wasn't thinking that the photo I was looking at was more than ten years old. I only looked at John and said, "Is this who I think it is?" I showed him the picture.


"Who do you think it is?" he asked.

"Isn't this Karen?" By "Karen," I meant Deborah Ann Woll (pictured below), the actress who plays the character of Karen Page on three Netflix series:  Daredevil, The Defenders, and The Punisher.


Well, as becomes obvious when you have photos of both actresses in front of you, they're not the same person. And, like most people that prompt you to say "Hey, he/she looks exactly like so-and-so!" they don't look exactly alike.

But for a brief moment, I sure was fooled.

Thanks for your time.

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