Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sick Photo Finish

Things haven't been progressing well for my sister lately.  Last month, she, her husband, AND the baby ALL wound up getting sick, each one getting the disease at one point or another.  Then my parents got sick too, which affected their efficiency as well.

For a long time, it looked like I alone was immune.  That overconfidence soon faded when I finally succumbed to the effects of the flu myself.  I was laid back for about three weeks.  I'm normally not someone who complains about every little ache and pain, so the ensuing disease's refusal to go away grated heavily on me.  Especially since I had a nagging cough that kept me from sleeping.

When the coughing grew too overwhelming for me to ignore, I was introduced to some leftover cough that was left hiding somewhere.  There was still some left in a bottle that hadn't been used in awhile.  A quick look at the expiration date showed that it had probably expired a year ago.  However, the contents was still quite potent, and proved to work, it's sticky substance coating the inside of my throat with healing residue.

However, the taste was so offensive, so gross that I devised an unique tactic to overcome this obstacle.  Similar to how I use chewed up portions of food to swallow pills (as opposed to drinking water, which only get stuck in my mouth), I put a piece of thin unspooled artificial fish meat flat on my tongue, then carefully maneuvered the teetering spoonful of medicine towards my throat.  This procedure wasn't perfect, since I had to keep my internal balance straight, and some droplets of cough medicine wound up splattering to the sides, but at least I managed to swallow without gagging too much.

When about three weeks finally passed, I started feeling like my old cranky self again.  That was when my sister, her husband and the baby all got sick yet again.

I've been told that this is a common occurrence, that having a baby around invites infectious diseases to swarm around, even with helpful vaccines to numb the pain.  On top of which, having a baby takes them longer to come over for visits.

They've always been late in coming over, but they apparently forgot to factor in the time it takes to dress up their little baby in the dead of winter.  A prospect which has a sort of collective amnesia where winter tires are hastily replaced for regular tires that don't work as well on slippery snow-laden surfaces.

Moral - never have kids.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December's New Year

Closing out the year is the last batch of BC's letters and poems, which, surprisingly enough, revolving around Christmastime are pretty sparse.

I suppose that once Johnny Hart got more invested in Christianity, he devoted more attention towards making symbolic comics than clever monological rhymes or back-n-forth transcripts.

Looking over the results, the playing field is pretty sparse, so here's a bunch of miscellaneous letters & poems I was unable to properly categorize.

While going through my collection, I came across an April strip that I missed, because I was confused about when to properly show it.

Then there was the fact that sometimes Peter's Pen-pal could be maddening vague in his responses.

Then there was usage of innovation to spice up some letters.  Note the lack of a Night scene below.

Soon, they started using anachronistic technology that years later, actually got an update.

Then there was a reference to the Epic BC storyline surrounding the fact that we never actually knew what the invisible responder across the water actually looked like.

That lack of response could be attributed to a revolving door of various responders, depending on who bothered to answer the mysterious letters coming across the ocean.

There were several strips revolving around Columbus Day that would've been better served around October, but given the amount of controversy surrounding the man, felt unsure about devoting further attention towards the issue.

Particularly since the second comic repeated an earlier joke.  That's one small world there.

This one plays around with the format somewhat, by having the letter-writing action take place in the throwaway panel, and the return letter taking up the bulk of the strip.

This is probably the wordiest letter Peter's ever written, full of name-dropping characters.

Moving onto the poetry angle, here's a quick ditty of Wily's numerous phobias.

There were several poems where Wily's view of women was less than remarkable, and felt out of place during Valentine's and Mother's Day, when such celebratory holidays would've felt out of place.

Then there's this, which has rose-coloured nostalgia for times of old, which probably never really existed.

Of all of Wily's poems, this one has what I consider to be a fairly effective punchline, even though it could be considered triggering to some people.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Multiple Blog Updates

Just a few things that needed additions to some of my previous posts.  First up, I mentioned that there was a missing Mr. Boffo comic regarding the Homeless tribute.

Turns out there was also a Marmaduke I missed as well.

Next up, is another minor mistake in a page that I just noticed.  It's one thing when the author is unable to make his intentions clear to the artist, but it's another thing entirely when the artist is in charge of the story.  Such is the case when it comes to the glorious trainwreck that is Neal Adams' Batman Odyssey.

Can you see the problem here?  If not, I'll spell it out for you.  Ra's Al Ghul drops a drink on the floor, bottom first, yet in the very next panel, there's two glasses of tea still on Alfred's plate.  Alfred may be the world's best butler (next to Richie Rich's Cadbury) but I very much doubt he managed to whisk up a spare glass without leaving his position.

Next up are some more comics showing thinner versions of normally fat characters.

Somehow, the idea of a thin rendition of Broom Hilda is considered too disturbing to consider.
Now, for the biggie - another similarity found between For Better or For Worse and Cerebus.

When examining upcoming old strips, it was pointed out in a recent comment on the FoobiJournal that Martha had similar handwriting to Michael:

A side-by-side comparison shows the similarities more clearly.

No wonder Martha had concerns about being intimidated by writing a letter to Michael when he was on the farm, since their cursive was practically identical.  Later, when Janet, one of Martha's friends wrote some correspondence acting as arbitrator, it occurred to Lynn that she should differentiate the handwriting between the two.

Later, when Michael writes from University, Elly seems to take full advantage of cramming in as much writing as possible, believing that the worth of a letter comes from how much effort you put in them, and not what you say.

Later, April would carry on this proud tradition, despite the advent of technology and email, allowing for faster communication.  But that would detract attention away from Lynn's limited life experience.

A close survey of Elly's handwriting showed some unsurprising similarities as well.

Especially when compared to Lynn Johnson's own very revealing handwriting:

All of this is to showcase a page from Cerebus in Church & State where Bran Mac Muffin (Cerebus' most devoted follower) pointed out that in the realm of miracles: "A discarded letter written by a young girl in the Lower City, a listing of my baggage from the carriage driver who brought me here, a listing of room charges from the desk clerk..."

"...and Boobah's transcript... Four different pages by four different writers in four different locations of Iest... and yet, all four... are in Cerebus' handwriting."

Naturally, Cerebus calmly takes it all in stride.

Back when Dave Sim was still reasonably sane, and was in the process of mastering his lettering later on, he figured that this convoluted way of overcoming his early limitations was the best way to combat his fans obsessive nature of over-analyzing every piece of nuance from his work in progress by beating them to the punch. Incidentally, this quasi-4th-wall breaking scenario is never brought up again, though it's hinted and alluded to in the definitive identity-revealing volume MINDS.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Pet Peeves: De-Emphasized Reprints

While I touted the importance of emphasizing the banal in favor of expressing the importance of climatic scenes, there's a certain trend in reprints that's been bugging me a lot lately.  It's not the colour scheme that some purists have trouble with.  (Though I've certainly complained about that)  It's not the paper quality, though I don't like it when it's too shiny for me to see the pages.  What bothers me is when the reprint of a beloved comic redoes the font in a manner that fails to capture the spirit and quality of the original.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about, here's a few samples.

Here's a page from an old printing of the Asterix classic, Asterix & The Goths, split into two to prevent annoying shrinkage via blogpost norms.

Now, here's the latest reprint that I was unfortunate enough to pick up cheap, not checking the interior to make sure that I was getting my money's worth:

As you can see, the font for the text has all been cleaned up via computer lettering, which allows for cleaner centering and better consistency, but also loses a lot of the original spirit.  The cry of "THREE!" has been marginalized to the point where it's identical to the lower text, leaving too much blank space where it could've been better utilized.

In addition to which, the newer Gothic font is now notoriously difficult to read, compared to the original.  In this latest iteration, it's left unbolded to the point of illegibility.

In other instances, it's a choice made whether to use italics to heighten the intonation spoken by someone.  American comics are notorious for their haphazard method of randomly bolding individual words in a speech, whether those words need to be emphasized or not.

The beloved Church Mice series by Graham Oakley has had numerous reprints that lowered their production costs by doing away with the back half of the wraparound cover, which feels like missing out on a joke.  Sadly, the realistic artwork and dry text was no longer considered marketable in today's children's market, which suggests a lack of imagination on the publisher's part.  It didn't help matters much that the latest publisher that dared reprinted the above felt the need to dumb down the text so that it would no longer be a challenge to read.

I might seem to be contradicting myself here, but there's a difference in being unable to read what's being written, and challenging the reader to plow their way through the text.  Furthermore, the italicized word "Everybody" and "he" missing in the later reprint loses something in the transition.

It's not just the lack of variable fonts that's in danger of being marginalized, but the usage of using uppercase letters to emphasize certain words.  Shouting in ALLCAPS for a long time is generally frowned upon, unless it's used to make a point.  (Though using lowercase is discouraged in American comics for similarly long-held beliefs as well)

Even though Herman is the titular invisible everyman character in his own comic, he's hardly ever called or seen to the point where his physical representation or name is removed to the point of nonexistence.

This isn't just a fault in reducing or cutting out extraneous words to allow for shorter reading time and reaching broader audiences, but also drastically changing words to the point where they're no longer funny.  F'r instance, here's the original classic comic:

Perfectly reasonable ludicrous description, right?  Only, here's how they tried to update it below:

That changes it from a teasing comment to a vicious insult.  Where's the humour here?  Don't expect this guy to be a returning customer anytime soon.

These may be considered minor complaints, but when license rescuers don't pay enough attention to specific details, a certain sense of enjoyment of emphasis is lost.

No matter how sleek and shiny the latest revamped property is, if they don't adhere to a level of quality check, they may as well be no better than Chinese bootleggers who constantly rely on the same words for every situation, whether they fits the scenario or not.