Cross-Hatchings for August 2016

Normally I wouldn't do another collection of column-ettes so soon after the last one but frankly, I just don't have a lot this week. We are busy with a lot of different projects and so once again I just have a hodgepodge of vaguely comics and nerd-centric items for you.


How Would YOU Fix It? : Nathan Adler has been doing the blog "How Would You Fix....?" devoted to tidying up long-unresolved plot points and so on for some years now, and every so often I like to pass along one that I think is interesting reading.

As you may imagine, Chris Claremont's tenure on X-Men provides Nathan with a wealth of material. Here he gives us an article on "How Would You Fix Callisto's Origin?"

Check it out, and while you're there, you might want to take a look at some of the other entries, too. Lots of cool stuff in the classic fan-theory tradition. If they were still awarding No-Prizes I think Nate would have a wall of them by now.


People Send Me Stuff: I'd been kind of idly wondering about the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Mycroft Holmes novel for a while, so it was with great surprise and pleasure that I discovered that Titan Comics was doing an adaptation of it, because they sent me one to review.

Now, I have to be fair. I have pretty strong feelings about how Sherlock Holmes should be done, and --full disclosure-- have contributed to the literature of the subject myself more than once. That said, I am pretty open-minded about Sherlock Holmes pastiches. In the same way as I regard Conan by Robert E. Howard and Conan by Everybody Else, it's not that hard for me to separate Doyle's authentic Holmes and the various other takes done over the years into two piles. I'm okay with time-traveling Sherlock, Lovecraftian Sherlock, updated Sherlock, whatever.

But there are certain things that strike me as crossing a line to a place where it's not really the same character any more. Sadly, this comic is full of them.

Take these two pages here.

We can see that Sherlock and Mycroft don't really get along, Mycroft is athletic and ripped, he's in bed with a hot Victorian babe (who is married to someone else, as it happens) and doesn't care about Sherlock seeing this, we can see them using vulgar nicknames for each other, and then there's an action sequence.

And that's just two pages' worth of things that strike me as hugely, needle-scratching Wha-HUH?-level wrong. The whole comic's like that.

No. Sorry, but no. I don't know who those two smug college kids are depicted in this tale, but they are emphatically NOT Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. Mycroft as a super-ripped sex god action hero, especially, is just a bridge too far. The story's kind of interesting but this is basically the same dodge we saw Marvel using on The Ultimates-- trading on the affection the audience has for familiar characters, but pasting those names on new people that bear no real resemblance to the original characters at all.

It's a shame really because it's a good-looking book otherwise. I quite liked the art from Joshua Cassara, it was well-suited to the story and i like the sharp, angular look he gives everyone. I imagine I'll read the rest of the mini-series if Titan keeps sending these to me, but I doubt I'm going to change my mind about it. As far as I'm concerned, the version of "Mycroft Holmes- The Early Years" to beat is still Enter The Lion.


The Only Review I Need of SUICIDE SQUAD: .... is right here. John Ostrander weighs in.

I have to admit I'm more interested in it now... if Ostrander signed off on it, I might have to give it a look. But I'm afraid that, given my experience of the DC movies from Dark Knight Rises on up, I'm still not terribly optimistic.


From the Archives: One of the ongoing challenges we have is trying to clean out our storage unit. My primary objection to it is that it's an expense we can really live without, especially when we're trying to cut costs everywhere else. The trouble is, it's a binary thing-- we can't just get rid of some of the stuff, we have to completely empty the unit or else resign ourselves to paying for it forever. It's a constant frustration because we don't really USE any of the things we have in there-- camping gear and so on-- but we can't quite bring ourselves to just dispose of it, either. I am far more ruthless about this than my bride; all the books I had in there are long gone. I suspect it's a guy thing. But in any case, most of what's left is Julie's. Family heirloom stuff. I have been exhorting Julie and her sister to take a couple of Saturdays and divvy up the pile so we can finally get shucked of the ongoing monthly financial aggravation. Which is how it happened that just the other day she came home with this.

"A comic I had before I ever met you," she told me, proudly.

Sure enough. Barnaby, by Crockett Johnson.

It's the first hardcover collection of the strip, from 1943. Julie's copy is no longer in the jacket but is otherwise like new.

Most of you, if you recognize the name at all, only know Crockett Johnson from Harold and His Purple Crayon. Those were a staple of the Scholastic paperback program all through grade school when I was growing up.

But Barnaby came first. The strip debuted in 1942 and ran for the next decade or so, and at its peak was syndicated nationally in 64 different markets, adapted for the stage, and was even a favorite of Dorothy Parker. The strip is about the adventrures of young Barnaby Baxter and his cigar-chomping "fairy godfather," Jackie O'Malley. Most of the stories are about the clash between childhood fantasy and adult reality-- a lot like Calvin and Hobbes in places-- but Barnaby has much more of a narrative structure, it's not really a gag strip.

Turns out Fantagraphics is doing an archival reprint of Barnaby similar to its Peanuts series, as it happens. Tom Spurgeon has lots more on that here, along with a lot of cool background information on the strip itself.

Meanwhile, Julie is just pleased at having unearthed a sort of American Pickers/Storage Wars find. Me, I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around this being Dorothy Parker's favorite comic. I mean, it's cute and all, but, really...?


And that's all I've got, this time out. Have a great rest-of-the-weekend, everyone, and I'll see you next week.

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