Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scary Traumatic children's books

As a child, I was a regular omnivore for books with pictures, and my parents willingly obliged.  Instead of a Tooth Fairy replacing my molars with money, I found books underneath my pillow.  But since there were so few interesting Comic Paperbacks, let alone Newspaper comic collections, finding new material was always a challenge.  Scary Poems For Rotten Kids by Sean O'Huigin was the only Hanukkah gift I ever got that severely disagreed with me.

First off, I was so distressed by the fact that they thought I was a lousy kid that they felt they needed it told to me in the title alone.  And the interior art and poems were more disturbing than funny to me.  Maybe it would've appealed to rowdy children who were in to the joke, but to someone of my sensitivity, it was an obvious mismatch.  My parents were generally good judges of finding books that appealed to my tastes, but not this time.

Other books that had me recoiling away from the page came from the library.  One of these was A Monster Is Coming! A Monster Is Coming!  by Florence Parry Heide, whose works of deadpan observation, best represented by The Treehorn trilogy, as illustrated by Edward Gorey.

It was a fairly typical edutainment book, where the boy would notice a monster gradually coming inside their house via the window, naming each body part that showed up while his sister replied, "Don't bother me, I'm watching TV."  I was perfectly fine up to the first three body parts (hair, eyes, nose) but was weirded out by the monster's teeth, which were wider than they had every right to be.  And that same rictus grin was present for every new frightening part shown, while the sister remained blissfully oblivious to the growing threat behind her, her last words being "DON'T BOTHER ME, I'M WATCHING TV."

There was another short early reader book that had a man passing by random men in sunglasses & trenchcoats at night, and becoming progressively scared as each person smiled unwaveringly bigger smiles, larger than the last man he passed.  One of these unnerving smiles came from a DOG for some reason.

I'm really sorry I don't have any available pictures - it loses something in the retelling.  The closest comparison I can give is that they made the Joker's grin look normal.
And that's counting Tim Sale's Joker.
Dinosaurs are generally accepted as being one of the most attractive merchandising bonanzas for children, regardless of gender or age.  They're basically hulking monstrosities that actually existed, and may have inspired countless stories from various civilizations trying to explain their bones via myths and legends.

They're so widely accepted nowadays that it's easy to forget that despite their merchandising nature, they were still brutal animals, and capable of violent acts.  One children's book (possibly The Mysterious World of Dinosaurs) had realistic drawings of of said extinct creatures, but had dripping blood falling from their encounters with predatory carnivores.  The wounds were probably superficial scratches, but it was still a jarring experience to come to terms with.  Somewhat like having all your experience of combat via war movies, and encountering the real thing, and succumbing to PSTD yourself.

Even Children's classics aren't immune to traumatizing children.  Maurice Sendak was told that some readers of his most honest audience shied away from the creatures in Where the Wild Things Are, and said that "Not all children are alike", or words to that effect.  In that same vein, I was deeply disturbed by Mrs McGinty and the Bizarre Plant by Gavin Bishop.

Mrs McGinty is a pinch-faced woman who's relentlessly teased by the neighbor kids.  On a typical day, she randomly chooses an ordinary-looking plant for sale.  The next day, it's clearly outgrown the flowerpot, and is transferred to the garden, where it grows even larger.  While the opening act gave the premise that this plant would serve as a kind of justified revenge for being persecuted, the neighbors start revering Mrs. McGinty for her awe-inspiring plant instead.  What disturbed me apart from the Lovecraftian plant of gargantuan design towering over the houses and people was how everybody seemed perfectly fine rather than horrified at this force of nature.  The cover had what looked like spiky leaves, and the base was an off-putting purpleish colour.  How could they not be repelled by this force of nature that dispelled nothing but sheer wrongness from its being?

The plant is later picked up by a team of botanists who want to examine it for themselves, and is ferried away via helicopters.  Afterwards, Mrs. McGinty is on better terms with her neighbors, and there's an epilogue at the end of a hint that the whole nightmare scenario would happen again.

One of the reasons I studied library science was so I might be able to find certain children's books that affected me as a child.  The other being that I'd be able to look up certain books without having to attract wary attention.  However, despite my best efforts, my attempts at finding certain children's books has turned up naught, save for smatterings of memories here and there.  The Bath is one of them - do you have any idea how many children's books about taking baths there are???  The Bath started out fairly innocuously.  A boy with his animated rubber duckie was told by his mother not to turn the faucet.  Typically, the boy rebelled almost immediately, being tempted while staring at the face-like features of the bathtub features.  The boy turned the handle, but nothing came out.  The boy kept turning, and turning (even the rubber duckie helped) and still nothing came out.  Then...

A creature crawled out of the faucet.  A smiling blue Muppet-like creature.  In the descriptive rhyming stanza, It had wings, it had fins; it could dance, it could sing.  The creature then made a proclamation of having nothing less than what would amount to an enjoyable experience.  And although the boy had been frightened at first, it accepted its claim to splashing, diving under the water and having fun.

Soon, more creatures came pouring out of the faucet along with the notably absent water.  These ranged from "The humpy one, the lumpy one, and one covered with weasels."  While most of them were accommodating at first, later creatures took on a more menacing and threatening nature, and the dimensions of the bathtub had swelled to oceanic proportions.  The bathroom walls had disappeared somewhere in the horizon, and there were monsters that splashed water hard, and set the water on fire somehow.  All the while, there were prophetic warnings of "Two Minutes More" to "ONE MINUTE MORE" before the boy's mother came back to see the awful mess he'd made.  And still, creatures were pouring out, to which the first one asked, "Why did you turn that faucet?"

Somehow amidst the rocking tidal waves, the rubber duckie found the singular weak point by simply pulling the plug.  At which point, all the creatures started spiraling down the drain in rapid fashion (including the flying ones) just in time before the boy's mother came far enough through the door to catch him disobeying her.  (The first creature had to be pushed down, since he was resisting sharing the other's fate)  While other children's books had touted the power of imagination, this book showed how our imaginations can go awry with us, going down dark paths we never even considered in the first place.

Another title I'm unsure of (#? Minutes to / till Midnight) is something that was designed like a Golden Book, but with war as the topic, told almost via buildings and a notable an absence of people.  The only person I remember was a boy pointing towards a plane while shouting a warning.  It sounds like a badly-made photoshop designed to shock, but I swear I saw this in a doctor's office while waiting for my appointment.  All throughout the narrative, there was a countdown to what would amount to a bombing attack, though no explosions were ever shown.  The last image was Big Ben underneath a black sky with the last sentence being "death had come", or words to that effect.  Pretty heavy stuff for a first reader experience.  I've never been able to find anything resembling it since.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Future is Now


It's hard to believe, but it's been 30 years since Back to the Future was released.  In the words of Doc Brown, "My God, has it been that long?"  Its even more impressive that it manages to hold up today, especially since back then, movies aimed at Teen audiences were little more than raunchy Animal House / Porky's / American Pie types.
Fun fact: This comic was first shown on June 12, 1983.
Chances are you've celebrated Back to the Future day (October 21, 2015, which I missed, but let's pretend you're reading this in the future, and you've come across an old article, so a few days won't matter) in any number of ways, ranging from franchising future product placement, to lamenting Jaws 5-18 (which were so bad we blocked them from collective memory, and thus were renamed B-movies on straight-to-video VHS tapes) to nitpicking the paradoxical nature of bringing Marty & Jennifer to the future (which was covered in a Darkwing Duck episode).  Whatever floats your boat (or flies your car), BttF remains enjoyable, even with its problematic issues, such as a device that causes instant drowsiness and a Cartoon spin-off.

Some have even gone further, saying that Back to the Future is a perfect movie, among the ranks of Casablanca and Citizen Kane.  Quite an impressive achievement from the early drafts of the script which was a mess, and gloriously covered in Tumblr form.  Another remarkable achievement is that BttF succeeds in making a trilogy work, where other attempted sequels fail, by making each movie independent of each other, while also telling a whole story, which was something the Matrix trilogy lacked.

Also difficult to comprehend is how resistant I was to the whole concept.  Not the time travel - that I pretty much accepted from the get-go.  What disturbed me was the whole Mommy hitting on her unborn son, which was the major plot point of the movie.  Also, I was fairly new to the whole concept of consequences of future events, so I was equally horrified of the visual metaphor of Marty's brother and sister disappearing from the photo.  When Brother Dave was reduced to a pair of shoes, in my mind, I envisioned a pair of bodyless feet just running around with nothing attached to them.  It didn't help that I saw the preview which showed Marty's see-throughable hand, which meant that he would be winking his way out of existence sometime in the movie.  Even when I was told that everything would work out perfectly fine in the end, I refused to believe this was true, since so many bad things were happening, resulting in a disaster avalanche.

I was also fairly ignorant about the usage of swear words, and had to be explained why the scene of Biff Tannen & his crew crashing into the manure truck was so funny.  Quite the opposite experience than most other people would expect, where they'd be uncomfortable about it.  At least I was told not to use that (bad) word in context.

So when the whole experience was finally over and done with, I was found out that there would be a sequel coming out next year.  Having gone through the whole traumatic experience with Marty, I found myself surprisingly eager to see the new movie, anticipating what new adventures he would get himself into, now that the threat of no longer getting born (or getting hit on by his mother) were no longer dangling Damocles swords points.

I rarely bothered going to movies, unless I had some general idea of the overall plot.  There weren't any Classic Storybooks let alone Golden Books available for The Black Cauldron and The Little Mermaid, so I had to resort to colouring books for both.  (The former was more interesting, and the latter had several scenes not included in the movie, and I'm sorry I didn't keep either when I outgrew them)  To prepare myself for seeing the movies in theaters, I was read several chapters of the novelization, in order to better understand the finer plot points, and explanations of the mechanics of time travel, which kicked into hyperdrive in part II.  Several pages at a time before going to sleep.  It certainly made for an interesting bedtime story.

After seeing the implausible ideas of what would happen in the future of Hill Valley, I asked if the sequel would still be a classic, even if its predictions turned out to be totally wrong.  After all, why would audiences want to watch a movie where Hollywood got stupid ideas about how the future would work?  Turns out that Nostradamus predictions are still enjoyable, even if they're way off base, since it shows what we were thinking of back then, and how misguided we were.

Even so, there was a surprising number of things that the sequel got right, save for the long-valued hoverboards (save for water-pump Got The POWER ones) and don't get started on the lack of flying cars.  Even now, despite people laughing at how everybody and their mother would be wearing jetpacks to and from work, people are still bemoaning the lack of propulsion backpacks in the future.

So with the latest influx of futuristic movies, chances are audiences may be wondering the following questions 30 years from now:

Where's the Mad Max Dystopia?
Where's the Robot Uprising?
Where's the Zombie Apocalypse?
Where's the Alien Invasion and Mars Colonization?
Where's the convenient scapegoat we can march towards with torches and pitchforks?
What's that awful music playing?
Where's my paycheck?
When's the next installment coming out?
Where's my hoverboard and flying car?
Why aren't things as good as they used to be?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Great, Now I'll HAVE to Read the Articles


Just recently, it was announced that Playboy, long-time purveyor of editorials and erotic content made the stunning business decision that they would no longer be featuring nudes in their once-respected (popular) magazine.  This would normally be considered a death knell for a publication that once featured the works of artists (several who worked for children's comics) such as Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Jack Cole, Jules Feiffer, B. Kliban, Gahan Wilson and Shel Silverstein.  Then you remember that none of those previously mentioned names have contributed to the magazine when it was at its peak of its popularity since the 70s.

Having been made redundant by the vast amount of alternate content available on the web (the internet is now closely associated with porn than Playboy), they've figured that their modus operandi of appealing to the lowest common denominator was no longer low enough to deal with their raunchier competitors (Penthouse, Hustler, Foxy, Club) who weren't afraid to show more than just teasing images.  What once was shocking has now become the norm, and the amount of skin shown in Playboy would hardly raise an eyebrow today, compared to what else's available out there.  Not that I would know - I haven't cracked open a Playboy in my life.  (Note I didn't say anything about the other magazines, though)

For years, Playboy was praised for the quality of its essays, but I never believed this claim, figuring that its main draw was the nude shoots, since the dull impact of words could hardly win over the direct impact of its pictures.  (I never even bothered with reading playmates likes/dislikes, since they were effectively irrelevant)  It seemed like a convenient excuse for exercising the mind to make up for browsing lower-functioning content.

The only staple of current customers were faithful fans who'd stayed with the magazine since their youth, who were now looking at models young enough to be their grandchildren... assuming they had any kids in the first place.  So despite falling into obsolescence while still having enough brand name recognition (and the perplexingly popularity of the Bunny suit among female Manga characters, including Ranma, Sailor Moon and Haruhi Suzumiya), Playboy figured that the only way to combat ubiquitous online (and self-generated) nudity was to adapt or die.  So Hugh Hefner decided to change in the most seemingly self-destructive way possible, short of printing the pages with Mission Impossible mission statements.

Surprisingly enough, shortly after the announcement, the Playboy website had a sudden surge of popularity from curious bystanders who wanted their minds to be engaged.  (Source from a site that has sensationalist news photobombs in its sidebars)  Whether those numbers will translate potential newcomers to repeat viewers is still up in the air for now.  The rise of hits on Playboy's site suggests that there's a fair number of people who want access to informative articles without being associated with questionable content that hurt its reputation.  However, if Playboy doesn't manage to provide enough stimulating material, chances are readers will abandon the tastefully dressed girls in favor of less pandering tastes.

You can only distract people by the Sexy (Vote for Bart!) for so long until they're bored enough to seek attention elsewhere.  Then, they'll look for The Sexy elsewhere.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Animal Crackers Creator Croaked


Just recently, Roger Bollen, the creator of Animal crackers died of a heart attack at the age of 74.  Although I wasn't a large fan of the strip, there were several interesting tidbits that the (only!) most comprehensive obituary of the man revealed:

At one time, the man drew three strips at once, similar to Tom Batiuk of Funky Winkerbean fame, who said; "I later was also doing three strips at once and he called and said 'Hey, you don't have to copy everything I do.'"

If you're wondering why there haven't been very many Animal Crackers collections, it could be because he had a run of bad luck when a fire damaged his new studio in Kirtland Hills, destroying much of his art. More art was lost when workers tried to repair damages from the first fire and accidentally started a second fire.

His daughter said he stopped writing and drawing Animal Crackers in 1992 because "he just got tired of it and wanted to work on television."  He soon got his wish when Animal Crackers moved to television from 1997-99.

He was also responsible for drawing multiple children's books with his former wife, Marilyn Sadler as the author, including the series "P.J. Funnybunny" and "Alistair's Elephant" and its sequels, one of which showed on Reading Rainbow.

For someone quite accomplished, he was remarkably modest about his ability.  With that in mind, it only seems fitting to honour his memory with comics of the world's most ambitious Spring Peeper.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Deadpan Peter Pan Panel Panned

Lately, there's been all kinds of live-action adaptions concerning the origin of the little boy who never grew up.  Some trying to overexplain Peter's relationship with his eternal rival, Captain Hook, one handling the legend with an air of surprising maturity, others simply trying too hard to be hip to contemporary audiences.

For me, however, despite their attempts into forays into maturity, they never seem to quite reach the heights that Regis Loisel managed with his interpretation of the classic story.

For years, Regis Loisel's Peter Pan was THE dark origin, showcasing an unflinching look at the dark underbelly where Peter came from.  It was only available in French, its lush drawings and wonderfully gross caricature of human faces available only to those who could be bothered to learn the language.  It's storytelling was far and beyond what would be considered the norm for a typical children's story.  It was one of several titles that I hoped would be scanlated considering its subject material ensured that it wouldn't be seen by American eyes for years.

Then again, it may have been worth the wait, since we got the whole package at once, without having to wait for future installments.  European comics can take their sweet time preparing their comics, planning their storyboards well in advance over the course of a year.  Then the results are then trickled out as previews via comic magazines, alongside other short-term serial stories and one-page gags.  While this may allow for higher quality control of their product, it also runs the risk of alienating their core audience if they're not fully invested in public opinion.  With such potential mood whiplash, its sometimes wiser to wait until a large body of stories are released, so when collected en masse, the resulting narrative will make more sense as a whole, otherwise their whole vision would eventually peters out.  (No pun intended)  The closest modern-day comparison would be Yoshihiro Togashi's Hunter X Hunter, whose schedule is now up to the creator's sensibilities.

To those whose most impressionable memories of Peter Pan come from the Disney version or the play, this comic plays closer to Barrie's original text.  Ironically enough, despite it's misogynist tones, in plays, the role of Peter Pan was always played by a woman.  It wasn't until the Disney version that he was represented as a boy.  A highly sanitized boy, but a male nonetheless.

What Regis Loisel does is just further emphasize the underlying darkness that was prevalent there.  Bill Willingham originally intended to have Peter as the main antagonist in Fables, since the idea of a boy kidnapping children to fuel his Lost Boys army was frightening to him.  Surprisingly enough, despite its venturing into dark territory, the majority of the pages are lush with colourful detail.  It fits alongside other Fairy Tale works with portrayal of casual childish violence, such as Fabien Vehlmann & Kerasco√ęt’s Beautiful Darkness.

Peter Pan is enjoyable, even if the Black caricature and indistinguishable Indians are potentially distracting. One thing that disappointed me was that the Peter Pan omnibus didn't include the illustrations on the back covers.  Since some general understanding is necessary for their contents, here's a basic summary of what takes place.  SPOILERS abound for a 20-year old work.

London

  • The opening scene starts off in the backalleys where a group of orphans are gathered around to hear Peter regales his audience with Fairy Tales, as well as giving flattering account of his Mother, someone whose selflessness and prettiness are traits to be envied of.
  • In reality, this is a fanciful fabrication, as Peter's Mother is an abusive parent who thinks nothing of having her child publicly humiliate himself in bars just to afford the alcohol to quell her violent temper.
  • When faced with such a harsh reality, it's not hard to see why Fantasy worlds would be favorable in comparison.
  • Peter's only friends in addition to the nameless orphans and the rats that follow him (whether he likes them or not) is his mentor, Kundal, an old man, the one respectable adult in this world of British depravity, but is getting old in his years.
  • In addition to teaching Peter and telling stories of old, he was also an old friend of Peter's father, who sailed off on an adventure to explore the seas, never to return.
  • While out alone on a fanciful night, Peter notices an unusual zig-zagging shooting star that escapes a sleepy owl, and takes residence under his hood.
  • As you've no doubt guessed by now, this infamous figure is none other than Tinkerbell, but far removed from the beloved pixie we're familiar with, and iconic enough on her own - a fat Tinkerbell whose figure is practically bursting at the leafy seams.
  • After some berating, Peter figures out how to float in midair in a rather un-aerodynamic shaky manner, and sets off for Neverland, but not before shouting out his newfound accomplishment to any sleepy heads who'd bother to listen.

Opikanoba

(Sometimes retitled Neverland in other foreign editions, this album is where the story begins in earnest.)


  • Upon arriving at the place where Peter  is expected to save everyone, he gets into trouble almost immediately, by getting caught by pirates.
  • Rather than being horrified, he's delighted to be among such pleasant company, and showboats off his flying skill to prove he can be useful to them... not knowing that Fairy Dust doesn't last for very long, and almost winds up getting eaten by the Crocodile.
  • This brief alliance isn't made any easier by Neverland's residents wanting to get rid of the pirates altogether, and they were pining their hopes on Peter doing that for them.
  • The leader of these Neverland natives, a satyr named Pan, attempts a botched rescue, and a familiar acquaintance through a certain winged fairy, an understanding is reached to divert the pirates towards the Indians where Captain Hook might find his valued treasure.
  • A guide is set up to go on an out-of-the way path, avoiding a cursed land named Opikanoba, where both the natives and the Indians meet to gang up on the Pirates.
  • Upon running away, Peter and Pan take a wrong direction into the misty path, where Peter sees a nightmarish version of his mother.
  • Faced with this exaggerated threat, Peter actively lashes out at his worst fear, releasing years of pent-up rage on an hallucinationy mirage.
  • Having made it back to safe land, an attempt is made to try to form a covenant between Peter and Tiger Lily, which Peter heavily protests (he's still a little boy!) which infringes heavily on the Indian's sense of honour.

Tempest


  • Upon a successful retreat and introduction to the Neverland residents, Peter begins to better understand their dilemma (theirs is a world of dreams, and relies on the imagination of children), and resolves to help them solve their Pirate problem.
  • To prove that he's worthy, and to get back on Tinkerbell's good graces, Peter makes the conscious decision NOT to douse himself in any Fairy Dust until their problem's resolved.
  • Since the Pirates refuse to leave until they get their satisfactory treasure (the actual treasure being unsatisfactory enough for them), then if some alternate treasure was offered instead, they would be more willing to steal that batch, and go off along their merry little way.
  • Having determined a course of action, Peter has the troublemaking Sirens dredge up cartons of sunken treasure chests onto a raft, which'll be brought to a suitable "guarded" location where a mock battle will take place and the Pirates will feel accomplished in their robbery.
  • However, this plan goes south when the Pirates notice some action happening at night, a jolly boat is launched to investigate sooner than expected, and the entirety of the "treasure" is sunk into deeper waters. 
  • During the ensuing struggle, Pan gets shot.
  • Not wanting to let his friend die, Peter travels back to London (as the crow flies) to get some medical advice from the ailing Kendal.
  • Before returning to Neverland, Peter makes one last detour back home to show his mother the few remaining gold coins he managed to pocket.
  • Too bad he happened to come across an embarrassing moment, catching her prostituting herself out to a top-hatted doctor named Jack.
  • During the behind-doors argument, a scuffle occurs that leaves Peter and the doctor walking out traumatized.
  • At this point it should be mentioned that one possible interpretation was that Peter Pan was Jack the Ripper, which would make his sudden inclusion more sense, considering that he's such a minor cameo character.

Note that both characters are carrying away medical satchels.
Red Hands


  • Still struggling with what happened at home, Peter attempts to save Pan's life, going through the medical procedure as explained by Kendal.  However, the operation fails, and Peter feels awful about it.  Only too late did he realize that he forgot to wash his hands beforehand.
  • This results in some ugly self-injury over the offending hand, which doesn't go unnoticed by the Indians wondering about this curious boy's behavior.
  • While in the throes of depression, Tinkerbell helps by pointing out that it was the Pirates who were responsible for Pan's death, not Peter.
  • I should also mention that Tinkerbell manages to convey this without uttering a single word.  All her mannerisms come from characters figuring out her meaning via facial expressions and body language.
  • With this newfound realization, Peter, the Indians and the Neverland natives gang up on the Pirates who happen to be terrorizing the Sirens for conspiring against them.  What follows is a huge fight, resulting in the Crocodile having two new tasty snacks inside its belly.
  • In the aftermath, Captain Hook is less a hand, and Peter pays respect to his foster friend by taking his name.

Hook

If the focus on the first four albums was mainly on Peter, then the 5th devotes some considerable screentime to scenery-chewer Captain Hook.  The 5th cover in particular does a wonderful showcase of the pained pitiful expressions of Peter Pan's foe.
Compare & contrast with the 1st cover.

  • Captain Hook is used to seeing blood, as long as it's not his own (butchering his men for insubordination is a pastime to him), so he's understandably upset over having his dominant hand chopped off.
  • A prosthetic fitting of his name is fashioned over the solitary remaining treasure chest after the botched attempt on his beloved "treasure", fashioned by melted gold and silver from the chest's contents.
  • Once the scorge of the seas, Captain Hook's now reduced to a joke figure, being chased off from new arrivals from London, and wandering in Croc-infested swamps.  (No plural, just one croc per swamp)
  • Meanwhile, Peter has found a suitable hiding place for his new arrivals of Lost Boys, and heads back to London (without needing any Fairy Dust, having formed a symbiotic relationship with Tinkerbell) to see Kundal one last time before he dies on his deathbed.
  • In the closing moments, Captain Hook even considers leaving this blasted island, until he comes across some of Peter's personal belongings, found in the Croc cave, leaving him reminiscing about his old life back on land.
  • The way he struggles through his thought process, uncovering details of facts that we already knew is a thing to behold.  The clincher is when Captain Hook arrives at an inescapable conclusion that's the inverse of the Darth Vader reveal (Peter Pan is his son) throws a whole new layer of meaning between the Pirate Captain and the Flying Boy.

Destiny


  • While finding and shipping new children into Neverland is fairly routine at this point, managing a bunch of unruly children with no rules or boundaries is not so easy.
  • To keep everyone under control, one solitary girl is given the role of the "Mother".
  • To further empathize the importance of the Mother role, a photograph of Peter's Mother is given great importance, and handed around to various kids once a day according to a random lottery.
  • Tinkerbell becomes jealous and possessive of Peter Pan's affections, and manipulates events so that Pip and his sister have to brave the Croc's lair to make up for losing the valued Mother picture.  As expected, things go horribly wrong, and Pip's sister winds up getting eaten right in front of him, leaving Pip in a comatose state.
  • Tinkerbell's reaction to this is a jubilant jangling victory dance, while Peter looks on in dismay.
  • To make matters worse, the world of Neverland plays havoc on its residents memories, making it extremely difficult to hold on to slippery past events.
  • Taking advantage of this, Tinkerbell undergoes a Memento strategy, waiting just long enough for everybody to forget exactly WHY they're so angry at her, before coming back.
  • While Fairies in Irish legend are generally more malicious than mischievous, seeing Tinkerbell's behavior make her helpful actions in the beginning chapters difficult to reconcile.  Even knowing that she tried to have Wendy killed doesn't help either.
  • While discussing options of how to handle the now-traumatized boy, hoping to fly him back to London, but without Fairy Dust, it's be a momentous task.
  • After that, they go along the lines about what the best way would be of killing him.
  • Meanwhile, Captain Hook has a minor but significant part where he reasons that Peter can't be his son, because his hair is black, and Peter's is ginger (neglecting that Peter's mother was a redhead) and decides to sail back to Neverland.
  • Back in London, news of the Ripper slayings are having a profound effect on Dr. Jack, who recalls traversing around the same areas as the killings, but has no recollection of what happened there, and denies all involvement.
  • Peter manages to tow Pip via rope all the way back to London, wanting to forget all aspects of his past life, and even begins to forget that he had a mother in the first place, giving Pip the "lost" photo hiding in his satchel that caused so much trouble, saying the woman looks vaguely familiar.
  • The last page is of Doctor Jack having taken residence in a psychiatric hospital, right next to Pip who looks longingly at his picture of Peter's Mother.

And thus, Peter Pan ends on an unusually down note.  If the beginning was about escaping harsh realities, this denouement seems to be all about self-denial.  Everybody wants to avoid looking too closely at the truth, because it could be too painful to live otherwise.  While adults generally remember childhood as an idyllic time, that's because they're far removed from how it actually was for them when they were young.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stamp and Deliver


Just recently, it was announced that Peanuts would celebrate it's 65th Anniversary with a new set of stamps to celebrate the occasion.  This isn't the first time Schultz's beloved tortured characters have appeared (much less to promote an upcoming movie) but back in April 5, 1993, a slew of cartoon stamps were given their due by celebrating the upcoming 100th Anniversary of newspaper comics.




Given the long-running nature of these comics, some went out of their way to celebrate certain legacy titles that hadn't been seen (or read) for decades, but included them for rememberance 's sake.


Other strips didn't rely on stamps themselves, but more on letters, which seems positively antiquated, given that hardly anybody uses stationary nowadays.  Stamps are more for mailing online items and dead tree books nowadays.



One possible latecomer was Adam who made a quick joke a week past the event.  I'm including it here just in case.

When the day finally came, only a Sunday Beetle Bailey managed to bring attention to the subject again.  Obviously, this meant a great deal to Mort Walker.  Since then, there's been commemorative cartoon stamps pretty much every year, making what was once a novelty item another routine event, like Free Comic Book Day.  (And yes, I'm aware that my title is remarkably similar to another one I did)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's hip to be October

It's that time of year again, when Christmas decorations go up.
The Clock Lighthouse
William Clark, 1827-1883
October 26: British Summer Time ends - Wear vest from now on

October 27: Bank Holiday (Rep. of Iceland) - Doesn't affect me.

October 31: Hallowe'en - Turnip (a really big one)-check / Candle-check / Courage (not available)