Sunday, November 11, 2018

Charley's War Omnibus

It’s Remembrance Day again, and it’s a suitably appropriate time to commemorate for the 100th Anniversary of the end of the War to end all Wars.

In years past, I would’ve posted a link to the first major story arc of Charley’s War in the Somme, but the Mediafire account I used got shut down, probably from lack of activity.  It wouldn’t be much use, since there’s now a much better format for seeing all of Charley’s War anyways.  The entire series has been collected in three bulky volumes, from Rebellion press.

In place of the photorealistic stock images of the early Titan editions, they have appropriate cover art, showing the glory that is Joe Colquhoun's art, which is on par having Bill Maudlin’s wonderfully weary army veterans told in story form.  In political terms, that’s the highest praise that can be garnered.

The larger collections also have the benefit of having large sections of the story available all at once, and helps reduce the annoyance of having storylines suddenly stop midway, just as things were getting good (which, given the nature of cliffhangers, were pretty much all of them) The only volume that didn’t end on a cliffhanger was the 4th volume, Blue’s Story, and appropriately enough, it’s the only story that doesn’t show up in the first omnibus.  Rather, it's the first story in the second omnibus.

The newer editions also have the benefit of having colour art, though there's a few pages that the author Pat Mills thought would work more effectively in Black and White.  As a period piece, I can't disagree with his assertment.  The omnibuses also have the complete storyarc of The Great Mutiny, that for some reason, was missing six crucial pages of the controversial incident.  It was so outrageous that there's a media blackout even now, and the British higher-ups have constantly denied it ever happened.  The only thing I wasn't a fan of was the cover for the 3rd book, which while well-drawn, is bereft of any identifiable faces.  But for a list of potential complaints, such as the paper stock being too shiny, that's extremely low on the disagreement department.
There's no better way to pay your respects to the thousands of people who died than to read the best dramatization of WWI guised up in a boy's weekly action magazine format.  Well, maybe other than making a donation to veterans for their service, but that goes without saying.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fridged and a Closed Door

So, after the rather uneventual breather episode of last month, we get a return to normalcy with a state of hibernating away from hunters.

Picking up on the theme of broadening expectations, this is just a serene prelude to the next big serious issue.

Yup.  Eugene gets shot and doesn't walk (Float? Crawl?) away from the incident unscathed.

As if this incident wasn't disturbing enough, it occurred just around the time of the Polytechnique Massacre on December 6, 1989, a horrific attack against women, leading to 14 deaths, and was the prime motivation for gun control in Canada.  This goes far beyond the special message that happened not that long ago.

Around this entire remaining story arc, we never get to see Noodle's face, let alone Eugene's reactions.  Sensing a certain uneasiness around current events, Gambioli possibly tried to soften the blow.

 It's also the only time that the Word of the Week feature is left suitably blank.

And yet, despite these hopeful words, we never get to see Eugene ever again.

You could be forgiven for not noticing the floating piece of fuzz outside the cave if it wasn't mentioned in the feature index on the top of the sectioned page.

And thus, we've come full circle to the beginning of my first entry of the last three months of The Fridge Door, where I mentioned that this hunting accident.  Though it was most likely overlooked or forgotten by people who didn't notice it in the first place.  In the absence of Eugene's presence, something was lost.  The cartoon section of The Fridge Door tried to continue in a new format based on reader input, but the rambling format and loss of control wasn't enough, and it was promptly retired with nary a response.

Still, how many children's newspaper features can you name that had a gun-related death in them?

Monday, October 29, 2018

An Unique Special Snowflake

Recently, people have been using the term from Fight Club in a disparaging way, to try to demoralize those who they deem too sensitive.  Ironically enough, those very same decriers seem to be the ones who are most likely to whine and complain about unfair tactics being done unto them.  It never seems to occur to them that
goes both ways.

But rather than go into the politics of name-calling, I'd like to present a chapter from a Steven Kellogg drawn book, back when early reader Children's Books were a whopping 64 pages before they were reduced to 32 pages, surprisingly similar to the page reduction of pamphlet comic books.  There's some kind of correlation there, though I have no idea if it's similar or just an outright coincidence.

These pages are from Leo, Zack and Emmie, a book I picked up from a library booksale, when they were cleaning out their old stock.  It's a shame these books are hard to find, since there's a certain charm to them.

I do so enjoy the childish overreactions here.

The reaction is perfectly understandable.  How impressive can a dinky Snowflake costume possibly be?  It's nowhere close to the theme of Halloween, let alone traditional to the other costumes that are typically worn.  Sure, it's seasonably close to Winter, but it's still unorthodox.

So, there's a full roster of a mixed variety of children banding about, with their nightwear, when a perfectly normal snowflake costume makes an appearance, and...

Apparently, the Snowflake costume is more elaborate than first suspected.  I went as a TV set for the first few years of Halloween, which was a cardboard box with a picture in front, and it was nowhere near as sophisticated as the Snowflake costume here.  I also never got as much candy as Leo got.

So, for those who are routinely mocked for being Snowflakes, go ahead and embrace your individuality.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Old-School Influences

One of the things I enjoy doing is finding certain influences that sprung from certain comics.  Some of them are obvious ripoffs.  Others are more subtle about it.  And others can be downright obscure.  The fun comes from finding connections, and how they wound up creating the building blocks to what would later become compulsive reading material.  And when you dig further back, those influences become even more obvious.

Comics are rife with stealing material from each other and other forms of media, which makes it somewhat easier for me.  One of the first instances was reading the history of Andre the Giant.

Until Ultimate Muscle (Kinnikuman) showed up, I had practically no interest in Wrestling.  (I still don't for live-action), but ironically enough, enjoy reading Wrestling history comics.  And Andre certainly made a big splash in Japan, who expressed their fondness with displaying larger-than-life characters in their entertainment. 

But it wasn't just the use of overly exaggerated bulky antagonists that was utilized.  What surprised me was finding out that within the macho portrayal of Wrestling, there were stories of fights between good and evil played up to lofty heights to garner audience attention.  So many of the tropes that are so inherent in Wrestling apply to a lot of Manga.  From the over-the-top acting to gritting through the pain of hurtful cheap tactics, to the taunting between two rivals before the big game, to the miraculous comeback to the tragic backstory reveal.

This is especially prominent in Sports Manga, but can also apply to Shonen rivals, Tournament arcs, and everything in between.  But sometimes the influence can be less overt.  Take this page from the early translation of Battle Angel Alita for instance:

This page in particular always stood out for me, because that piece of narrative insight in the second half of that textbox never shows up anywhere else ever again.  I always wondered why it was presented this way.  Then, out of morbid curiosity, I checked the recent Kodansha translation, which did away with the superfluous additive text.

I haven't been much of a fan of the latest translations, since they're notoriously dumbed down and more literal than natural modes of speech.  But a look at another Manga property showed where the previous insertion might have come from.

Every episode of Shigeru Mizuki's Kitaro ends with a chorus of crickets saying "GE GE GE GE GE" in thanks of Kitaro.

It's a little annoying, but it's a note that the story is over.  When you see something enough times, it lodges itself in your head, and I suspect that the original translator might've taken influence from this old-school Manga and inserted the extra bit as a reference point to explain the need for transitioning from a girl's inner monologue to the sky city's tubes.

It is a difficult thing to make a badass character have an air of innocence, and yet, Alita seamlessly manages to pull it off.  The only American examples I can think of are Horridus from Savage Dragon and Cassandra Cain of Batgirl fame.  Yet, for as much as she's an original (each book was radically different from each other), she's actually the combination of multiple factors.  And to explain that, I'm going to have to delve into some spoilers for the third sequel version of the series - the Mars Chronicles, which quite frankly, are the least interesting so far.

There's potentially spoilery material coming up, so if you want to remain blissfully ignorant, stop right here, and ignore everything after the cut.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


I've been too preoccupied with current events.  Lately, the news has left me unable to concentrate, and I've been looking back on newspaper archives while I still have time.  Going through them has shown some revealing political cartoons that are sadly just as relevant as they were twenty years ago today.

This process of going through old online newspaper files would be much easier if it wasn't for an annoying new feature that's severely cramped my style.  Recently, they've added a new feature to prevent computers from browsing those very same files for some reason.  Having to constantly confirm that I'm not a robot, and the screens becoming blank after scrolling and enlarging is a major demotivator.  I have to constantly recall which page I'm on, then refresh the page, make a mad dash for the numbered page the comics are in, enlarge the section, and hope I image capture enough for posterity.  Not to mention that by the time I'm done, I won't be able to browse the rest of the comics page as well.

With that little rant out of my system, I've been going through the microfiche archives of my newspaper, and among other comics, there was the Sunday feature called Drawn and Quartered that would feature a whole page of political cartoons from multiple newspapers.  They were visually interesting, even as the subject matter was beyond my ability to understand.

Some of them had Movie posters of Brian Mulroney.

Other political cartoons covered a wide breath of subjects (usually revolving around the Middle East), showing that for all the passage of time, things haven't changed much.
Racist cops...
Kavanaugh confirmation...
Saddam Hussein's origins...
President Hillary...
Fighting Nazis.
Probably the biggest issue is this one, which shows how enthusiasm for politics can die down after in a politically motivated election period, which may be why polling takes place during the end of the year, when the weather gets colder, as temperaments likewise cool off, and apathy settles in.

With all the insanity that's taking place, one of the most recent piece of news that affects Canada is the renegotiation of NAFTA, renamed as USMCA, which is just NAFTA under a different name, putting America first.

Before Trump came along, NAFTA was generally regarded as a good deal, having equal trading between three countries, so it was surprising to see that it was seen as a potentially disastrous proposal at first.

Part of the underlying fear was that Canada didn't have much to offer in return for American products, and would be taken advantage of.

Mexico doesn't exactly come off in a good light, and in the end, it all comes down to American values.