Cross-Hatchings for Friday, September 10th

Bits and pieces. This and that. You know the drill by now.


Last Days of Summer: My school year doesn't start for a couple more weeks, technically, because the after-school program doesn't actually kick in until regular school's been in session for a little while.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been working. What it means is that I've been knee-deep in Annoying Budget Crap for the better part of a week. It's my least favorite part of the year. I keep thinking of the old Chevy Chase-as-Gerald Ford joke from Saturday Night Live -- "Uh, they promised me that there would be no math." I hate math. You'd think a career in the arts would be a sure-fire place to avoid math. Well, guess again. Between my various freelance contracts and doing these goddamn school budgets I probably deal with more math in a week than your average middle-management loan officer.

On the plus side-- yeah, a math expression, see what I did there?-- one of our budget items this year is printing the Cartooning Alumni Fundraiser Book. (That's not going to be the actual title, but that's what I have to call it in my budget.) Pages continue to come in from my grads and they continue to delight me.

Here's one of Brianna's:

And one of Rachel's:

More details as I have them, but I can tell you that we WILL have them for sale at Emerald City Comic-Con in 2011.... and probably available through some kind of mail-order thing as well, though I'm not sure yet how that will work.

Mostly, though, I just wanted you to see the samples because the kids are so awesome.


Around the Internet: I'm always impressed with people who do things well and I've told people for years that of all the celebrity types we've met at conventions, Erin Gray from Buck Rogers was absolutely the most professional. So I'm not at all surprised that she's actually taken it to the next level. This was a very cool write-up about Ms. Gray and her savvy marketing of her own minor "nerdlebrity" into a lucrative business.

I saw Ms. Gray in San Diego a few years ago, and I can tell you two things. First of all, she really does look that good and it's not from Having A Little Work Done, she was all about the healthy lifestyle and protein smoothies and yoga and so on -- in fact, she mentioned that she was teaching yoga when she wasn't doing shows.

Secondly, it was amazing just to watch her work -- and she was working that booth that day. Every fan came away feeling appreciated, and not at all rushed, she was not brusque in any way.... and yet somehow she moved all of us through that line with lightning speed. It was an extraordinary display. When it was my turn she posed for a picture with me, chatted about what she was doing these days, inquired after my profession and wished me the best of luck with my Sunday Kid's Day drawing class; at no point was I made to feel like I was being hustled through the line -- and yet the whole exchange took about thirty seconds. It impressed me so much that I hung around to watch her greet the next few folks in line and see if I could figure out how she managed it. I still don't know her secret, but it was the same virtuoso display of brisk niceness that didn't feel rushed (but somehow still was incredibly fast) with everyone, and none of us felt slighted. I was awed by her sheer skill in handling all of us.

So, like I said, not surprising to hear it's now her business. Good on her. We wish her well.

Stuff on the TeeVee: I watched the CW's new Nikita last night. Back when the original with Peta Wilson was on the air, I did not have cable television and thus never saw it, so I didn't have much of a basis of comparison.

My bride did, though, and she said that we would be better off to seek out the DVDs of the Peta Wilson show. In fact, she got bored and went to play a game on the computer, which tells me there was a great deal of deja vu involved if you'd seen the original.

Since I had not, I was interested enough in this new one to stay to the end, but I still doubt that it's going to be appointment television for us. In a world that has already given us the original Nikita as well as Alias, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice, et al, I'm afraid this latest entry probably isn't going to last long. Nikita feels pretty generic to me -- I kept thinking of other shows that had done the same riffs that were more fun to watch.

Speaking of television remakes, I admit to being mildly curious about the new Hawaii Five-O that will be debuting on CBS in a week or two. Although the original was so hysterically awesome in its sheer unadulterated fascism that I think the new one will have a problem simply because any new version will be done with an eye towards depicting real people in a genuine drama. That never happened on the original show and that was what made it so much fun.

I was home sick the other day and Spike TV was running a marathon of the Jack Lord version, and I have to tell you, even I had forgotten how deranged the original show could be. Especially when Jack Lord is doing one of his patented McGarrett Moments of Righteous Rage. "There's a man on this rock with bubonic plague and he's a Red Chinese agent. Now TALK!" is the kind of magnificently bad dialogue I predict will NOT be on the new version this fall. Pity, really.

I could go on, but I don't have to because Mark Evanier did a wonderful job here of explicating the essential components of every episode of Jack Lord's Hawaii Five-O. After watching the Spike TV marathon the other day, I assure you that, if anything, Mr. Evanier is understating the case.

I got to wondering if the original Hawaii Five-O was ever a comic, and it was, believe it or not.

But not in the United States. It was a strip in Britain's TV Action magazine for a little while. No idea who worked on it, but from the few sample pages I could find online it appeared that they'd pretty much nailed the vaguely fascist vibe of the series. I suppose it only makes sense, considering that Steve McGarett's philosophy of law enforcement is a sort of spiritual ancestor to Judge Dredd's.


Stripped: My big comics purchase this week was the Conan: The Newspaper Strips, volume one.

I really like it, and I especially love that this short-lived and not-very-successful strip rates a collection at all... but I have one minor caveat.

If you're going to collect comic strips in a nice hardcover like this one, and reproduce them at a larger size so that -- one presumes -- we can fully appreciate the art, then for God's sake, get some decent originals to shoot from. The color Sunday installments don't look too bad, but the dailies look like they were printed from second or third-generation stats. A lot of the finer lines and detailing just dropped out entirely, and at the larger size it's really painfully obvious. I understand that the production people had to work with what they could find, and that the chances are that the original art is long gone, but even so, I know high school kids who could have done a better job scanning the things from the actual newspapers than what we see here.

Moreover, it's a bare-bones collection, a title page with dates and credits and then the comic strips, period, the end. A word of introduction would have been nice, and it's certainly not as though Roy Thomas has been averse to writing intros to Dark Horse's Conan collections in the past.

But hey, as long as publishers are collecting short-lived strips that would interest fans, I'd also like to see the Steve Gerber Howard the Duck newspaper strips he did with Gene Colan and Val Mayerik.

You know what else would be cool to see collected in a book? The Max Allan Collins/Marshall Rogers 1989 Batman newspaper strip that launched in the wake of the first Michael Keaton movie.

Hell, they could even throw in the follow-up strips from William Messner-Loebs and Carmine Infantino.

How about it, Marvel and DC? Are you really going to let Dark Horse, IDW and Fantagraphics hog all that strip reprint action? I'd love to see some of this stuff again. Hell, I'd even forgive you using shitty original stats, just to see it back in print.


That's all the bits and pieces I've got, this time out. See you next week.

Harley Quinn #55

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