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What I bought – 12 September 2012

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What I bought – 12 September 2012

He was mingling with people who treated human flesh as pigment, life and death as a canvas, the human spine as an easel, and he could not for the life of him look away from it with all of his being: with most of it, yes, but not with the peeping bit of him. (Paul West*, from The Women of Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper)





















* Paul West was one of my writing teachers at Penn State lo those many years ago. He was a decent teacher and this book – the only one of his I’ve read – is pretty good. We used to meet in his apartment building way off-campus, which I found odd. He was somewhat stuffy, but not in a jerky kind of way. Once I criticized a story by one of my fellow students because it was about 10 pages long and had absolutely no plot. It was a cool idea, but it read like a fictional informational pamphlet. West said that plot is unimportant in writing. Not that plot can be secondary to other things, but that plot is unimportant. I thought it was funny because soon after that, I read this book about Jack the Ripper, which is one of the most tightly plotted books I’ve ever read. I’m just sayin’. West is 82 now, and I guess he’s having a fine time being retired.

Oh, comics? I’ve read some of those, too! As I continue my quest to have absolutely no one comment on my posts because I keep reading less and less popular comics (I already started yesterday!), this week I bought zero (0) DC or Marvel single issues. Yee-ha, motherfuckers!



Bad Medicine #5 (“Killing Moon Part 3 of 3”) by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (writers), Christopher Mitten (artist), Bill Crabtree (colorist), and Douglas E. Sherwood (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

As I am incredibly conceited, I like to think that the fine folk of Oni Press were sitting around last month reading my review of issue #4 of this publication and they saw me take them to task for not listing any credits. “Oh shit!” said they. “We better get on that!” And lo, this issue has credits. Wait, you mean it probably didn’t happen that way? Damn.

Bad Medicine, I think, is going to be one of those books that I like but about which I never have much to write. If you’ve never read any Weir and DeFilippis comics, you’re doing yourself a disservice, as they simply know how to write a good comic. They wrap everything up pretty well, point out an obvious clue that we might have missed (well, I missed it – you’re probably smarter than I am), and bring the team into bigger focus, as the gub’mint wants to make it an official “Justice League of Disease” or something like that, and Dr. Horne recruits a new member (after the one he previously recruited got, you know, chewed in half by a werewolf). It’s just a good, solid comic book, and as I always point out, Mitten’s artwork is somewhat of an acquired taste, but he’s another dude who just gets the job done. So far, the creators have given us two good stories, and unless sales don’t warrant it, I don’t see why they can’t keep bringing them to us in the same fashion. I can’t really say much more about the book – it just works. That’s all I got!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:




Chew #28 (“Space Cakes Part 3 of 5”) by John Layman (writer/letterer), Rob Guillory (artist/colorist), and Taylor Wells (color assistant). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Chew, meanwhile, dives back into the regular series (after the Poyo special) with an issue that gives us a lot to, um, chew on (sorry). As you well know, I’ve been loving this book since the very beginning, and I know Layman has some big plot in mind, but since Tony went into his coma, he’s been seeding things more than moving forward, and in this issue, Tony wakes up, so I wonder if all the stuff Layman has been dropping into the book is going to start coming together a bit. I honestly don’t care that much, because Layman writes scenes within the book so well, but this feels like a turning point, simply because Tony – the ostensible star of the book – has been absent for such a long time (in a book that features a rooster that is the world’s greatest secret agent, Layman deserves credit for being realistic by keeping Tony in a coma for so long – unlike superhero books where crippling injuries are treated with some Bactine and a band-aid, Tony’s injuries were very serious), and now he’s … well, not back exactly, because he’s still largely incoherent in this issue, but he does help on a case!

As for the case – well, I don’t want to give it away, but it involves exploding meat. Of course it does! Layman, however, throws a lot into the mix, as usual, so we get Colby and Toni meeting at Tony’s bed, where Toni meets Poyo (and regrets it); we get Caesar once again trying to figure out from where he knows Toni (Layman has been doing this gag for a while, and it’s always funny); and we get Tony out on a case with Colby and Caesar (and Caesar’s partner, the dude who can tell every ingredient in a food). It’s all pretty wacky, but that’s fine, because it’s good wacky.

Guillory, as always, is superb. The cover actually makes sense in the context of the book, and Guillory has fun drawing giant rabbits and other cartoony animals. Of course, he gets to draw carnage, too, which is always nice to see. Chew is one of the nicest-looking and most interesting comics out there, because Guillory is always able to cut loose a bit, both with his pencil work and his colors, which are brilliant. As with every other issue of Chew, I imagine both Layman and Guillory sitting at their respective work places (Layman, presumably, writes scripts in his underwear surrounded by LEGOs), cackling evilly as they write/draw this book. You can just see how much fun they’re having on this comic, as well as how well plotted it is.

Yeah, Chew is good. I mean, duh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:




The Manhattan Projects #6 (“Star City”) by Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Pitarra (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Rus Wooton (letterer). $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

Hickman shifts gears just a tiny bit to show us the sad tale of Helmut Gröttrup, who, in our reality, voluntarily worked for the Soviets, but in the comic’s reality, was drafted into the service of Mother Russia when he fled Germany because he knew Wernher von Braun was going to kill all the scientists he was working with. In the USSR, he helped put Yuri Gagarin in space (and Laika, who doesn’t die when she’s sent off into space, but returns a hero), and although he was promised his freedom, he didn’t get it because of the alien invasion (as we’ve seen in the past few issues). Then, even worse, the Soviets decided to work with the Americans, which meant Gröttrup is going to be re-united with his old boss, von Braun, who didn’t treat him very well. It’s a nice way for Hickman to approach the same point in the plot but also give us some background about the “other side” in the Cold War. Hickman has some fun with the characters, as usual – the Soviets brand the scientists with a swastika on their foreheads, Brad Pitt-style, to identify them, and Gagarin and Laika always wear their space helmets even when they’re back on Earth, so the weirdness of the book remains. But he’s still able to bring in some serious themes – Gröttrup wants to be free, but Hickman points out that even freedom is a lie, and in the end, Gröttrup simply has to endure. Hickman also plants the seeds that he may not endure for long, so there’s some nice tension at the end.

Pitarra and Bellaire are wonderful as usual. Pitarra does a very good job keeping the fantastical elements of the book from overwhelming it too much – this is a good blend of the fantastic and the mundane. Yes, some of the designs are goofy, but Pitarra’s style, which is detailed without being overwhelming, is a good fit for what’s roiling around in Hickman’s brain. Pitarra does a particularly good job with Gagarin – even before Hickman points out in the “cast of characters” at the back of the book that Gagarin is not a genius, Pitarra draws him with a goofy, “how the hell did I get here?” grin on his face and an almost childlike grimace on his face when he announces that one of the Soviet officials is dead, as if he’s trying really hard to be serious because it’s not normal for him. Pitarra does a nice job with the goofy stuff in the book, but it’s the way he’s able to make sure that these characters are actual people and not just vehicles for the insanity that helps the book immensely.

This is another book I’m enjoying immensely. I don’t know why Hickman’s other book, Secret, is so slow, or when Feel Better Now will come out (Hickman is expanding that, apparently, because he had so much to write about), but at least The Manhattan Projects is continuing apace! It’s a fine comics periodical!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:




The Massive #4 (“Black Pacific Part 1 of 3: Mog”) by Brian Wood (writer), Garry Brown (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer). $3.50, 25 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

Maybe it’s because I like Garry Brown’s art in issue #4 more than I liked Kristian Donaldson’s art in issue #1-3 (as sad as I am about that), but this issue of The Massive was my favorite one yet, because Wood tells a nice little story that gives us some history about Callum, sets up the next issue, and doesn’t waste time. Cal goes to Mogadishu to broker a deal with one of the local warlords, and he also meets up with a friend from his past, who doesn’t have much respect for what he does these days. It’s a bit straight-forward, but Wood does a nice job with both meetings, especially the sit-down with Arkady. Wood is still too in love with the narrative boxes, because he could easily cut half of them from this book and not miss a beat. He actually repeats some of the information in the backmatter, so I’m not sure why he doesn’t just write a bit more there instead of cluttering the actual pages with information. I think that those narrative boxes are going to keep me from loving this book as much as I want to, because they really do drag the story down. I also wonder if Wood has any plans to explain the “crash,” because he actually gives us a timetable in the back of the book about what happened when, and it doesn’t make any more sense than doling out the information piecemeal. As with most post-apocalyptic stories, you really want to move past the inciting event as quickly as possible, because it usually doesn’t make any sense and the point is to recreate the world in the writer’s image and let the characters deal with the new reality, not to explore what actually happened.* I suppose Wood will get around to an explanation some day (I hope not, but maybe he will), but I do wish he would just leave it alone. The basis of the series ought to be good enough, but it seems like Wood doesn’t quite trust it and he needs to have a grand scheme about the “crash” looming over everything. I’m probably in the minority with this stance, but I don’t care. That’s just how I roll!

I dig Brown’s art, although I think John Paul Leon really drew this issue and signed it “Garry Brown.” That’s okay, though – I appreciate that Brown drew the whole thing, and he does a nice job making Mogadishu how you would expect it to look – that is, surprisingly similar to how it looks today. When you’re already living in the Stone Age, getting sent back to the Stone Age doesn’t change too much (sorry, Somalia – you can have all the smart phones you want, but you’re living in the Stone Age). Stewart is really good, too, but that’s not surprising.

I have no problem sticking with The Massive, because I haven’t disliked it, but I do hope Wood finds his footing with it. This is a step in the right direction. But man, those caption boxes. Sheesh.

* Apparently, the new show on NBC, Revolution, is getting excoriated for its stupidity – the world’s “technology” fails, but it sounds like nobody really thought it through – guns don’t work, but why not? I guess it’s so everyone can use crossbows – damn you, Hunger Games!!!! The creators of the show want to explain how the power went out, which seems like a mistake because it will constantly bring up the stupidity of the contradictions in the show. Of course, I haven’t watched it, so maybe it’s a work of staggering genius. Who knows.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:




Memoir #6 by Ben McCool (writer), Nikki Cook (artist), and Tom B. Long (letterer). $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Image.

Ben McCool must have some giant brass balls. Memoir, you’ll recall, began in January. Of 2011. The most recent issue came out in December. It was, I believe, solicited as a 6-issue mini-series, and here’s issue #6. Yet McCool doesn’t end it here – he actually has a caption box with “Next” in it. I mean, come on. That’s just a little … what’s the word … insane. Yeah, “insane” should cover it. He does reveal quite a bit in this issue, and I guess he could have ended it here, so I’m not sure why he’s promising another issue when, at this rate, it will show up in mid-2014. I don’t get it.

Yeah, I’m out. It was an okay series, I guess, but McCool’s track record with, you know, getting books out on time doesn’t fill me with confidence. It’s not like his comics are works of ineffable magnificence, after all.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:




Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom #2 (of 4) by Mark Waid (writer), Chris Samnee (artist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Shawn Lee (letterer). $3.99, 22 pgs, FC, IDW.

Mark Waid is the only writer in comics with the balls – yes, I’m referencing testicles in two consecutive reviews – to at least bring up the fact that Cliff Secord is kind of a douchebag. At the end of the last issue, a large figure was looming up out of the undergrowth while Cliff was macking Betty, and we thought it was an evil villain. Well, it turns out it’s a new inspector from the gub’mint, who pops Cliff, leaves his card, and walks away. Betty figures out that the only reason he would be so cavalier about popping Cliff and leaving his card is because Cliff was, in fact, acting like a douchebag, and Cliff admits that he did, in fact, hit the previous inspector. Of course, it’s because he was trying to fondle Sally, but Betty ain’t care. Of course, later, Betty weeps about the fact that she might lose Cliff because his eye has been drawn by Ms. Sally – even though I’m still creeped out by that, because Sally still seems like a 15-year-old, although I guess she’s not – but at least she figures out that Cliff was his usual douchebag self. I like how she complains about losing him to Sally’s uncle and doesn’t say, “Um, Peevy, don’t you think that chippie should be studying algebra instead of trying to bang my boyfriend?” I also like how love is blind AND stupid – Betty can’t stand losing a douchebag who has anger management issues and often acts like he would rather be playing superhero instead of spending time with her, and she has to know that she, um, looks like this. I mean, she must have self-esteem issues if she thinks she can’t do better than Cliff. Jeebus.

Oh, there’s the plot. Well, the dude inexplicably wearing a pirate shirt is just a lackey to some more sinister bad guy (and not a very good one, either, as he ignores the more sinister bad guy even after the more sinister bad guy proves that he can exact some nasty vengeance), and he wants Cliff’s rocket as part of his ridiculous 1930s pulp fiction scheme (Samnee tries gainfully to sell it, but it’s still ridiculous). I won’t give away what the “cargo of doom” actually is, because it’s somewhat clever, but suffice it to say that Cliff ends the issue in a spot of bother. As he should, the douchebag.

I’m a bit puzzled why Earl Garland is black. I can’t find much on the integration of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, but I can’t believe it was integrated in 1940. Maybe it was, but it seems unlikely. I get that Waid probably wanted a black face among the sea of whiteness in this mini-series, but in 1940, the separation of the races was very real, and to shoehorn a black man into that position seemed odd. Again, maybe Waid knows something I don’t, but Earl’s race really stood out to me. Yes, it’s just a story and we shouldn’t hold it to too much historical accuracy, but it does seem strange.

Anyway, this is a fun issue. Samnee’s art is wonderful, and the story is fine. I know Cliff will survive, but maybe he’ll have to confront his rage before the end of the book. That would be nice.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:




Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 by Greg Rucka (writer), Matthew Southworth (artist), and Rico Renzi (colorist). $3.99, 25 pgs, FC, Oni Press.

I won’t pretend to know how often our intrepid podcasters, Kelly and Sue, get out of the house (as someone who never leaves the house, I just assume everyone is like me), but I should point out that I’ve met Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth face-to-face more than once, but did I get an advance copy of Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case? I did not. I’m not bitter or anything. I mean, yes, I had to take a break from typing this review to go have a good cry, but that was totally because I stubbed my toe while hunting javelina in my backyard, like a manly man. It’s true!

Stumptown, as you might recall, is Rucka and Southworth’s tale of Dex Parios, the world’s most fucked-up private investigator (considering private investigators in fiction tend to be fucked-up individuals, that’s saying something). Actually, she starts off this issue relatively un-fucked-up, which is kind of nice. Southworth has presumably been drawing this second series since dinosaurs roamed the Earth (he has to eat, so he has to take jobs that, you know, pay him, which is presumably why this has taken a while to come out), but it’s here now (Rucka didn’t want to solicit it until they could keep a schedule), and everything that made the first series so good is back – the easy prose of Rucka, who writes these characters as if he had been eavesdropping on them as they spoke, the artwork of Southworth, which is not as scratchy as it was on the first series but still fits the tone of the book as well as the setting, and the clever plot, which is initially about a missing guitar (the “baby” of the title) but apparently is going to turn much more complicated in the next issue. Rucka, to be sure, isn’t re-inventing the wheel here, but as far as private investigator stories, he’s doing a very good one with a fascinating protagonist. He references the previous story in a scene that has to have repercussions down the line, doesn’t it? Then Dex does her thing, and she gets to act like a bad-ass without throwing a punch or even getting that angry. It’s a very good set-up issue.

As I mentioned, Southworth seems to have a slightly smoother line this time around, which makes someone like Mim more luminous. Southworth is no Alan Davis, though, so he still is able to infuse the book with a nice layer of grittiness. It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the first series, but it seems that Renzi colors it a bit more brightly, which is perfectly fine because it makes the contrast between the brightness and Portland’s endless gloominess (poor Portland – it’s so nice there in the summertime!) stand out well. Southworth does a nice job with the way the characters pose when they speak to each other – much like Rucka’s dialogue sounds very naturalistic, Southworth moves the characters around as if he had filmed them without their knowledge – Dex is setting up her office while she speaks to two different people, so of course she’s going to move around a bit. It’s far more interesting than just having the characters freeze while they deliver big chunks of exposition (as Mim necessarily does when she hires Dex), and Southworth pulls it off nicely.

I should point out that if you’re reading this book and you’re wondering why Dex is setting up an office in the train station, Union Station in Portland does have a lot of office space. My wedding photographer had an office in the building. Not pictured in Southworth’s drawing (it’s off to the right, outside the panel), is Wilf’s restaurant, which has superb Steak Diane and an old clientele – my wife and I used to be the youngest people in the room whenever we went there.

Anyway, despite my disappointment over having to read this on the day it was released like a sucker, Stumptown is very good. Hunt it down and enjoy!

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:


Alien: The Illustrated Story by Archie Goodwin (writer), Walter Simonson (artist/colorist), Louise Simonson (colorist), Deborah Pedlar (colorist), Polly Law (colorist), Bob LeRose (colorist), and John Workman (letterer). $14.95, 61 pgs, FC, Titan Books.

A few weeks ago, I didn’t know this existed. Then Hatcher came along and mentioned it, and I wondered how I ever lived without it. Holy schneiky, it’s gorgeous.

Bucko by Jeff Parker (writer) and Erika Moen (artist). $19.99, 142 pgs, BlW, Dark Horse.

Yes, I read this on-line, but now it’s in fancy-pants book format! With extras, including commentary and a brand-new ORGY page (which is genius)! Plus, I’m quoted on the back. That’s all you should need to get this!!!!

The Bulletproof Coffin: Disinterred by David Hine (writer), Shaky Kane (artist), and Richard Starkings/Jimmy Betancourt (letterers). $17.99, 188 pgs, FC, Image.

The first series of this title was one of the most bizarre comics I’ve ever read. Somehow, this looks even weirder. I can’t wait to dig in!

Doctor Strange Season One by Greg Pak (writer), Emma Ríos (artist), Alvaro López (additional inks), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), and Clayton Cowles (colorist). $24.99, 100 pgs + a reprint of Defenders #1, FC, Marvel.

I still haven’t read the Hulk “Season One” OGN, and now we get this one! Dang it, I’m slow. Anyway, Emma Ríos’ artwork is stunning in this comic. So far, I’ve checked out art on these graphic novels by McKelvie, Fowler, and now Ríos (I wasn’t a huge fan of Wellinton Alves’ art on Daredevil: Season One). You need to buy some of these so Marvel starts doing more graphic novels with original content rather than just “re-imagining” characters’ origins. You know you want to!

Duplicate by Mark Sable (writer), Andy MacDonald (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), and Bill Tortolini (letterer). $8.99, 92 pgs, FC, Kickstart.

Mark Sable is a pretty good writer. Andy MacDonald is a fine artist. This book is about clones of the world’s best secret agent. So, yeah.

The Judas Coin by Walter Simonson (writer/artist), Lovern Kindzierski (colorist), and John Workman (letterer). $22.99, 89 pgs, FC, DC.

HOLY FUCK WITH THIS COMIC!!!! I mean, seriously. Simonson even does manga, for crying out loud. Much like the Season One books, I would LOVE it if this sold like gangbusters so DC would do more graphic novels (sure, they do more than Marvel, but not as many as they should). This book looks AMAZING. It’s Walter M. Simonson* drawing the Golden Gladiator, the Viking Prince, Captain Fear, Bat Lash, Two-Face and Batman (in a faux newspaper strip), and Manhunter … in the future. Why are you still reading instead of running out and buying this?!?!?!?

* The “M” stands for MOTHERFUCKING!

**********

For some reason, I found a lot of interesting things on the Internets this week. As football season started, I began reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback again. I don’t know why; Easterbrook has kind of developed a schtick and really doesn’t deviate very much from it too much – I guess you could say the same thing about me (or any other writer), but with him, it’s like his opinions about football have become calcified, and although I agree with him on a lot of things (no team should ever punt!), it’s not as fun as it used to be. I like to think that I change my mind about things when I have to, but Easterbrook still uses tiny sample sizes to prove things like the blitz not working (again, I agree with him to a certain degree, but blitzes do work in certain situations). But he does link to some fascinating stories, like the fact that astronomers have found Krypton (essentially). That’s pretty keen. Plus, if you’ve ever railed against government waste, you’ll appreciate that the government commissioned a study … to study other government studies. Down the rabbit hole we go!

Speaking of sports, the University of Miami (the one in Florida, not the one in Ohio) got crushed by Kansas State this past weekend, 52-13, and I loved it. Miami losing football games will never get old, I tells ya. Anyway, a former Hurricane lost his mind when talking about the game on the radio. Holy crap, it’s awesome. This is why I don’t worry about sports too much – do I really want an aneurysm? (No, I didn’t get too upset about the Eagles game on Sunday. I was remarkably calm about the whole thing. Same thing with Penn State on Saturday. I’ve almost – almost – reached a point where I can watch my favorite teams and not freak out. I give it another two years.)

In the entertainment world, I see that Alison Pill accidentally tweeted a topless photo of herself (that link is Not Safe For Work, by the way, as it shows Ms. Pill’s nekkidness in all its glory). Alison Pill is the actor on The Newsroom who thought that “LOL” stood for “lots of love,” so she wrote it on a sympathy card. If you watched that scene and thought, “Maggie can’t be that stupid,” well, perhaps you should apologize to Aaron Sorkin. There was also a scene in The Newsroom in which Emily Mortimer accidentally sent an e-mail to the entire company instead of just Jeff Daniels. People were pretty down on Sorkin for that scene, claiming it was just his anger at technology and, I guess, women on which he based the incident. Well, apparently shit like this happens all the time in the real world. Suck it, Sorkin-haters! I just want to know what’s up with Pill’s glasses. Did she steal them from Carl Fredricksen?

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel bamboozled some people into thinking they were holding the new iPhone. It’s pretty funny. I, of course, don’t have an iPhone, which is partly the reason why I don’t tweet (the other is that I have nothing to tweet about). I wish I didn’t have a cell phone, frankly. In fact, I wish the only phone we had in our house was my rotary phone. You bet you ass I own a rotary phone! It’s probably the best present my wife ever gave me.

Do you hate the trend in baby names being, well, awful? They seem to be getting worse. Man, those are some bad names.

I’m still iPod-less (it still works fine, but I just got a new cord which I haven’t tried out yet), so let’s check out another Top Ten List. Today, it’s my favorite animated television programs. These aren’t just kids’ shows, nor are they just from my childhood. Here we go!

1. Star Blazers. I loved the adventures of Space Battleship Yamato when I was but a lad, to the extent that when my two best friends and I were playing outside in 1980 or 1981, we had to make sure we knew what time it was so we could go inside and watch the show when it came on. Then we went back outside. One of the reasons my wife is awesome is because she also loved Star Blazers. I can’t even go into how great this show was too much, or I’d be here all day. Come on – the Wildstar-Nova-Venture love triangle, Desslok, the Wave Motion gun, the shocking secret of Iscandar, the Comet Empire – it’s all awesome! Unfortunately, I’ve never even seen the third “season,” but I’m sure it’s awesome. Plus, thanks to Star Blazers, I learned that this is the only proper way to hold a glass of liquor:


2. The Simpsons. No, I haven’t watched The Simpsons in several years (since ’07, maybe?), and even before that, it hadn’t been consistently good for a while. But for the first ten years, it was genius. It is honestly one of the sharpest satirical television shows ever, and I hear tell that Groening and his gang can still come up with a brilliant one every once in a while. I miss the brilliance. It includes more genius lines than should be allowed, but I think my favorite is “To alcohol: the cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s problems.”

3. Battle of the Planets. For years before the Internet made everyone able to connect with everyone else, I swore that my best friend and I were the only ones who knew anything about Battle of the Planets. It seemed like no one in my age group had ever heard of it, and it was tough convincing them that it existed. I mean, it was the mid-1980s, and were all watching Transformers and G. I. Joe, so you’d think someone would have heard of them. It was very weird. Now I know they were all losers and that people do remember G-Force and their wacky adventures, but it was very weird. I’ve written about this before (I stole the idea from Mighty God King) – when you remember something in your childhood but aren’t sure it actually existed because no one else seems to share your memory. In addition to Battle of the Planets, I always thought I imagined seeing Jeff Goldblum play Ichabod Crane in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on television one Halloween, but he did! And I could never find anyone who had read The Great Brain books, even though I knew I had read them (but, of course, by the mid-1990s, I couldn’t remember the name of the series and was reduced to asking about the books that took place in 19th-century Utah, which didn’t help my case at all). Anyway, I love Battle of the Planets. It was cool.

4. Transformers. No one was more disappointed in the shithole movies than I was, because I loved the Transformers when I was 13/14. I mean, the movies reached their creative peak very early on, and even that was brief. But the cartoons were slices of pure pop culture goodness, man.

5. Futurama. I haven’t watched Futurama since it returned, which means I suck, but in its first incarnation, it was a super show. It had better animation and was more ambitious than The Simpsons, although it was never as sharply satirical as Groening’s other show. I loved the weirdness of it all and Groening’s lampooning of fin de siècle pop culture was wonderful. And speaking of Katey Sagal, here she is acting with Mary Tyler Moore (and singing!). In fact, here’s the entire episode in which she sings. Man, I love the Internet.

6. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Man, this was so much better than Super Friends. Plus, Firestar was (and is) awesome. (And yes, it’s better than the original Spider-Man cartoon, although of course it didn’t have as excellent a theme song.)

7. Speed Racer. Come on, you can admit that one of your favorite things when you were a kid was pretending to talk like Spritle or Trixie; as in “SpeedTheCar’sAboutToCrashAndWeCan’tSteerAndThere’sABombInTheGearShiftAndHereComesATrain GASP!!!!” You know you love it! Or was that only me and my friends?

8. G. I. Joe. I know no one ever died on this cartoon, but it seemed a bit more violent than Transformers, which I appreciated. Plus, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were just cool. Plus, Scarlett. What choice did any of us have, really?

9. Phineas and Ferb. Yes, this is a current cartoon on the Disney Channel, and yes, I only heard of it because my kids like it, but it’s really funny. The creators generally stick to the same exact pattern in each episode, but they manage to pack a lot of clever jokes that adults will get into each one, and my kids just love watching all the silliness. It’s a very smart show, and one that I’m happy to let my kids watch (unlike, say, SpongeBob, which they like but I do not – I let them watch it, but never for too long).

10. Gravity Falls. This show just debuted this summer (it’s another Disney Channel show), but it’s quickly become a favorite. My older daughter doesn’t like it too much, but my younger daughter really likes it, and it’s getting better. It’s about two kids who are spending the summer with their great-uncle, who lives in the very strange town of Gravity Falls, OR. They are always getting into weird adventures, but what’s cool about the show is that the creators are slowly building a mythology that all ties together. You can appreciate each episode on its own, but it continues to build on what’s come before. Like Phineas and Ferb, it also has a lot of jokes aimed at parents, and if you don’t laugh at Wax Coolio, I’m fairly certain you don’t have a soul. If you happen to have Disney Channel but no kids, don’t be ashamed to check it out!

Honorable mentions: Spider-Man (the original), Secret Squirrel, The Mighty Heroes, Super Friends. I’m sure I’m probably forgetting some, but those are the ones I can think of. After about 1990, I didn’t watch daytime cartoons for a long time, so I never go into the various DC cartoons, even though I’ve heard they’re quite good. And no, Scooby-Doo didn’t make my cut. I do quite like the new version, but I haven’t watched enough of it to put it on this list (although the one guest-starring Harlan Ellison was hilarious).

No one figured out that last week’s lyrics were from “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John. I mean, really, people, what are we going to do with you? So last week I went a bit old-school, but this week’s Totally Random Lyrics are a bit fresher. Put your thinking caps on, everyone!

“The way that you screamed
The way that you cried
The way that you wipe your eyes
And fall against my side
The way that you told
Told me I was wrong
And the way that you’d sing
When you’d hear a song
And the way that you answered
When you knew I was gone

Now I know that I’m blind
And that you’re all I see
And yeah I know it’s not clever
But I just want you with me”

I hope everyone has a swell day and a nice weekend. Go carpe that diem and all that shit!