Tag Archives: Superman

Superheroes from the 60’s

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I was a comic book nut from a very early age.  I started collecting comics in 1966 when I was ten years old.  Almost as soon as I started collecting them, I began copying the drawings, copying Spiderman, Hawkeye, Captain America, Avengers, and Batman.  I am a comic book lover, and I am also a comic book plagiarist.  But I promise to use my own artwork and photographs to illustrate this blog post.  After all, I am illustrating being a copy cat.

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Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Lightning Lad in the style of artist Curt Swan in 1962.

My parents didn’t approve of kids with comic books.  I desperately wanted Spiderman comic books and Avengers comic books, like the ones I read in the barbershop every time I was waiting for a haircut.  But they had gotten wind of Frederic Wertham’s campaign against comic books two years before I was even born.  The learned psychiatrist insisted that comic books corrupted children with sexual images hidden in the artwork (oh, gawd, look where Saturn Girl’s hands are… close anyway), Batman and Robin were homosexuals trying to influence young boys to be gay, Wonder Woman was a lesbian who was into bondage.  This he said in 1954, but it didn’t really reach my parents’ ears in rural Iowa for another 12 years.  The result was severe limits on my comic book ownership possibilities.  But Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes were acceptable, as were Casper the Friendly Ghost and Scrooge McDuck.

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So, my copy above of Curt Swan’s work is from the Legion of Superheroes.  Superman was boy-scout enough to qualify too.  I could get by with Tarzan even though he was a mostly naked guy running around the jungles.  And time and money solve a lot of problems.  I was allowed to subscribe to Avengers and X-men and the Amazing Spiderman once I had field-work money to put towards it.  I drew lots of comic book heroes from that point onwards.

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I learned how to draw men with unhealthy amounts of muscles, women with waists that would break in two with the amount of breastly boobage a teenage boy would pack on top, and numerous people who actually seemed to think capes made sense as a fashion statement.  I also learned how to do shading in pen and ink and foreshortening from master artists like John Romita Jr. and George Perez and Barry Windsor-Smith.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t give proper credit to Murphy Anderson and Jack “King” Kirby.  I know you don’t know who those people are because you are not the comic book nut I am… nobody is.  But believe me, they are masters of an American Art form.  And I will never be one of them, because even though I am almost as good as some of them, I chose to be a teacher instead of being a comic book artist, a thing I could’ve so easily succeeded at back in the 1980’s.  You should know this too…  I have never regretted making that choice.

Aquaman

Walker

 

 

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, comic book heroes, humor, Paffooney, Uncategorized

Supergirl (Another Review from the Uncritical Critic)

20151029_124840I watched the new Supergirl TV show on CBS via the internet, and I have to say… Wow!  Now, I am not that big of a Supergirl fan.  The comic book from my overly-massive comic book collection from 40-plus years of being a juvenile reader at heart is the only example I can find to illustrate Supergirl.  And I only own that one because my eldest son wanted it at age 11 because of the bare-midriff dress in the cover illustration.  I have never been all that fixated on Kara Jor-El’s belly button myself.  But don’t get me started on a discussion of superhero babes with bare body parts in comics… well, because I will end up telling you things about myself I really don’t want you to know.  But I do know enough of the Superman mythos to appreciate what the TV show has done with this character.

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Superman himself has been a part of my life ever since I can remember.  I remember him in black-and-white as George Reeves from the time I was first allowed to pick TV shows for myself.

So, I watched this Supergirl show last night in spite of the fact that critics I have read basically hated it.  I don’t actually understand their disdain.  It had everything I love about comic books.  The characters were simply drawn and two-dimensional, which is exactly what a comic book character should be.  Kara was given a back-story that matches the comic book mythos quite well, and yet, other characters like Jimmy Olsen and her adopted sister are clearly innovative and new.  The villain was life-and-death terrible in the way that comic book villains are supposed to be.  He even died at the end of the episode as comic book villains are supposed to do in order to surprise us when they come back to life as comic book villains always do sooner or later.  Everyone seems to love the CW’s newest version of The Flash on TV because it has that distinctive funny/violent comic book bravado about it.  So why didn’t they see the same thing in this new show?  I think, with time, this new show will prove them wrong.  I like the lost-little-girl-turned-superhero story presented in this first episode.  I went in expecting not to like it, and was bedazzled and befuddled and be-everythinged  that you want this kind of show to do to you.

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I will not try to tell you that you should watch the show.  If you are comic-book nutty like I am, you have probably already seen this show, and nothing I could say or do would have a ghost of a chance of keeping you away from it, if that was what I wanted to accomplish.  And I know that many people hate this kind of thing with a passion.  But, being honest here… something I am sure you are aware I rarely ever intentionally do… I want you to watch it so it will become popular and stay on the air.  After all, a TV show like this will generate more dolls and toys to collect.  Ta-ta-ta- TAAAH!!!

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More Powerful than a Locomotive

There is an old saying… “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”

I have an addendum to add… “If what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, then I must be Superman!”

Lying here now in pain after having surgery this morning, that is exactly what I have been telling myself.  No more Kryptonite today, thank you.

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I may have mentioned before on this blog that I have six incurable diseases and am a cancer survivor since 1983.  (If I haven’t mentioned it before, then it was only because I mistook complaining loudly and relentlessly about it for mentioning.)  I have arthritis, diabetes, COPD, hypertension, psoriasis, and benign prostatic hyperplasia.  Two of those diseases ganged up on me recently.  I had a sebaceous cyst on my lower back that had gotten infected because psoriasis had flaked skin off the top of it until there was an ulcerated infected hole there and it caused me enough pain to prevent sleeping.  (I know you didn’t really want to know about that… but. then, neither did I).

I got the thing surgically excised (whacked off with scalpel and scissors) and had the hole sewn back together with a few butterfly Band Aids slapped on the top.  I had been given a topical anesthetic that deadened the nerves while I was being carved up, but wears off shortly after and then all the pain that has been saved up comes rushing back to fill the void.  The doctor said I could take aspirin, but I have a big bottle of Aleve next to the bed for arthritis, and my body is so used to the medicine that I might just as easily have taken a sugar pill for the same effect.  (Of course then my diabetes would come knocking on my brain.)   So, I am in pain.

But less than an hour after surgery, I had to go in to the counselor’s office at school and discuss for 45 minutes the life-and-death future consequences of the schooling of one of three kids.  It is no kind of chicken barbecue or country fair to have to explain to a school official everything you have been doing to solve the life-or-death problem for the kiddo while pain medication is wearing off and anesthetic is wearing off and patience is wearing off and mental acuity is disappearing faster than a rabbit-man can teach irony to middle-schoolers…. wait, what?  Perhaps I should rest now and let the medicine do its work.

Naw, can’t do that.  I’m Superman.

But, wait… wasn’t I Popeye just yesterday?  Who the heck am I really?  A goofy old writer-guy, most likely.

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Fragile People

This is an old journal piece I wrote in 2007 when I was a jobless substitute teacher.  I found it, read it, and decided it is still relevant to today when I am soon going to have to give up teaching and retire due to ill health.  It was written during one of those times when I was made of glass.

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After the student at Virginia Tech cracked into pieces and ended thirty-two lives, shattering an entire university community, I began seriously thinking about how breakable human beings can be, and breakable in so many different ways.  I can remember times in my own life when I was the boy made of glass.  I was cracked and crumbled when I was ten years old because a fifteen-year-old neighbor boy sexually abused me.  I was ground into shards again when the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley refused to see any redeeming qualities in my teaching ability, and zeroed me out on an evaluation so badly that no one will ever hire me again for the one thing in life I’ve been trained for and believe that I am good at.  (In the Summer of 2007, Garland ISD actually did give me another teaching job… the fools.)  The depression from each of those crackings was very nearly fatal.

Don’t despair for me, though.  I have always only been made of glass for brief periods of time in my life.  The rest of the time I am mostly made of spoof and rubber.  Stuff bounces off me, and I learned from my grandfather (the one I always believed was secretly God in human form) how to laugh at everything, especially my troubles.  Those of us who know the loving God (no matter what name we are willing to call Him by) are harder to break than most people.  That belief, especially that part that galvanizes and changes the very stuff we are made of, helps life’s barbs and darts and plain ol’ rocks to bounce off like we are Superman’s sillier clone with very little harm actually done.

Not all people seem to be like that, however.  I have been teaching hard of late (in spite of the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley), doing substitute work in Reading, Science, Special Ed, and even as a test administrator for the Texas state academic exams, the TAKS Tests (the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, though the name is perfect because they are really more like sitting on TACKS while paying your income TAX).  In fact, I am a substitute Science teacher as I ink these very words (on paper, you know, because subs are not generally smart enough to be trusted with computers).  As a substitute I have encountered more fragile kids in one year than I ever knew existed when I was a regular classroom teacher.  There are more breakable people in schools than you can count on Robert Malthus’ abacus.

At the TAKS-celebration teacher-student basketball game, I was called on to sit in a quiet room with two unique specials who couldn’t stand to be around crowds or noise (noise being a constant condition in schools that one can only rarely get away from).  The girl, who throws fits if she thinks you are looking at her too much, sat quietly with the computer, looking up Pokemon episodes and repeating dialogue aloud from each in funny voices meant only to entertain herself.  The boy, who goes into the fetal curl and weeps, sat at a table with a book on origami, happily folding up an army of alien space cruisers to stuff into his notebooks and leave a trail of wherever he was soon to go.  Neither one of them will ever damage anyone but themselves if they get broken by life, yet each is so fragile that mere noise can scatter their flower petals.  Hothouse violets with no tolerance for much of anything.  I suppose I should feel honored that the school felt confident enough in my abilities at classroom management that I could handle these two delicate blossoms at the same time while everyone else was off having fun of a different kind.

I’ve seen violent and angry broken people too.   I once referred a boy to the school counselor because he was fantasizing about blowing people’s heads off with a shotgun in the pages of his class journal assignment.  The counselor back then, in a pre-9-11 world, said there was really nothing that could be done about something that was in a boy’s private journal.  Three years later that boy went to jail for beating his girlfriend’s youngest daughter almost to death.  The child was only two years old.  It put a few cracks in my own armor to learn about that, knowing what I thought I knew about that boy.  Sometimes we are not Superman and the bullets don’t bounce off.

One of the most dangerous sorts of glass people are the girls made of glass (at least in the opinion of one goofy male teacher that didn’t marry until age 37).  At least three times girls fell in love with me during the course of a school year.  All three reached a point in their fantasy lives where they believed they required love and sex back from me.   I wondered to myself if they had severe vision problems or were just plain crazy, but all three were lovely girls, and smart, a joy to teach… at least until that love bug bit ’em.  The first two ended up hating me and becoming discipline problems for the remainder of the year.  The third, well… she was just too perfect.  She listened to the “you are more like a daughter to me, and I’m marrying someone else” speech and only put her sweet head against my shoulder and said to me with tears in her big, brown eyes, “You are the teacher I am going to miss the most when I’m in High School.”  You know, fifteen years later, I still tear up thinking about that one (and not because I married the only woman in the world who is always right about everything and never agrees with me about anything).  Those three girls were all breakable people too, and I had the hammer in my hand on those three occasions.  They are not the type to hurt others either, but I mourn for them, because they all three grew up into beautiful women and are so much smarter now than they were then.

So, what is the main idea out of all this mooning, fluff, and drivel?  Well, I guess that people are all made out glass sometimes, all delicate and easy to destroy.  And you know what?  There are too many angry bulls in this China shop we call our lives.  Too much gets cracked, wrecked, or broken.  If only people could walk through our lives with a bit lighter step… and maybe at least try to be careful!

Now, seven years after writing this piece, I am feeling like I’m made of glass yet again.  I am going to miss being a teacher.  I am going to miss dealing with Fragile People.

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