Posts Tagged ‘Mark Waid

01
Apr
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 261: Avengers Vs. X-Men Pre-Game Show

With Avengers Vs. X-Men starting this week, Blake and Erin talk about the run-up to it, including the launch event, Marvel AR, and Infinite Comics, with a critique of Mark Waid‘s Luther. Plus, they get into all the news from WonderCon and Emerald City, including the new Valiant Comics, Womanthology, the Rocketeer, and more! Plus — April Fool’s gags are irritating, Draw Something is cool, and cats are adorable. In the picks, Erin is enjoying Anne Rice‘s The Wolf Gift and Blake doubles up with Superman #7 and Atomic Robo Presents Real Science Adventures #1! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 261: Avengers Vs. X-Men Pre-Game Show

04
Mar
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 258: Movie Night and More

Blake and Erin get together this week to talk about movies. They give their thoughts on the recent film Chronicle and the newest DCU animated film Justice League: Doom, plus a few other films that have crossed their Netflix queues lately, and look forward to John Carter and The Hunger Games. Moving on to other talk, we say farewell to Sheldon Moldoff and Ralph McQuarrie, celebrate the return of Community, talk about the pre-orders for Avengers Vs. X-Men and the Earth Two costume designs and more! In the picks, we talk about Hack/Slash #13 and The Shade #5. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 258: Movie Night and More

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13
Apr
11

Classic EBI #85: Deconstruction and Glory

With tax season upon us, we’re all going to look for less expensive entertainment. In the interests of helping us all with that dilemma, I’ve taken it upon myself to sift through Amazon for a few graphic novels that — at least as I write this — can be had for under ten bucks a pop.

Everything But Imaginary #394: Eight Under Ten

In the classic EBI from this week, we go back to Oct. 20, 2004, when I look at the two extremes of the superhero genre…

Everything But Imaginary #85: Deconstruction and Glory

There are many types of comic book fans — the geeks, the fanboys, the gaming crossovers, the alts, but there are only two types of fans that really get on my nerves. First are their ones who only read superhero comics. The ones who refuse to come out of the narrow little shell and experience all of the wild, diverse realms of storytelling that comic books have to offer. Second, the ones that refuse to read superhero comics, the ones who think they’re too cool for that and anyone who enjoys a superhero comic is intellectually beneath them and that by picking up this week’s Amazing Spider-Man you are contributing to the downfall of western civilization. (You are actually doing this by picking up Action Comics.) [2011 Note: I wrote this during Chuck Austen's run on Action Comics. I stand by this statement.]

Smart comic fans, I think, should fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. Nobody should ever read any comic they don’t like (save your money and buy something good), but it’s even more important not to close yourself off to a great story just because of the genre it is written in.

Just as comic book fans have divided themselves into these camps, however, superhero comics to a very large degree have divided themselves as well, and although there are some exceptions, almost all mainstream superhero titles these days play more to one side of the spectrum or the other — they deconstruct the heroes, or they glorify them.

“Deconstruction,” of course, is nothing new — one could argue that it goes back as far as Green Arrow’s discovery of his sidekick Speedy’s heroin addiction. There are lots of kinds of deconstructive stories — those that show the heroes has having all-too-human flaws or feet of clay, or those that simply show them failing, or achieving victory but at too high a price. The darker threats, the mass murders, the terrorist actions. These are the “deconstructive” comics.

Pretty much every title under the Marvel Knights banner fits this description — Daredevil is a great example. He was, in his early days, a brighter character, akin to Spider-Man, but as time went on he got darker and darker. Now his comic is the epitome of gritty, showing hard crime and real consequences. Matt Murdock’s world is not a nice place to live. Brian Michael Bendis, of course, is one of the tops in this realm of comics — along with guys like Grant Morrison and Bruce Jones, and perennial favorites like Frank Miller and Neal Adams. These are often the only comics the “too cool for school” crowd will touch, mainly because it’s so “grim” and “edgy” and helps to shatter the ideals of the spandex-clad warriors they sneer at the rest of the time.

Then we have the flip side of superhero comics — those that take the traditions and standards of the genre and raise them up, glorify them, and make them seem fresh and new again. Take a look at Mark Waid’s Fantastic Four for a primary example of this. While the “Unthinkable” and “Authoritative Action” storylines he told last year did get pretty dark, he stayed with what made the characters the heroes they were rather than pull them down, and he closed off that chapter of their lives in the “Afterlife” story by bringing back the Thing (killed in “Authoritative Action,”) with a little help from a certain Man Upstairs who looked an awful lot like Jack Kirby. Some readers balked at the unabashed sentimentality. I thought it was brilliant.

Geoff Johns has also proven himself quite adept at the glorification of superheroes, and he does it in a way that Waid often does too — he mines their pasts, digging into classic stories from the golden, silver and bronze ages, and uses them to craft something totally new. A lot of his Teen Titans series up to this point has been about bringing together threads left by the classic Marv Wolfman/George Perez incarnation of the property, but updating it to fit in the new members of the team. In Flash, he keeps taking old villains and remaking them into more serious threats (as he did with the likes of Mirror Master and Captain Cold) or introducing new threats that tie into the past of the character (like Murmur and the new Zoom).

Johns may just save his best storyweaving skills for JSA, however, and it’s no wonder. This is the first superhero team in the history of comic books, and several of the oldest characters in industry are still members. What’s more, they have progeny and proteges that are carring on in their names. Johns has brought together the legacies of the Star-Spangled Kid and Starman stogether in Stargirl, restored Hawkman to a characterization that actually makes sense and even made a character with the goofy Golden Age moniker Mr. Teriffic a deep, interesting character.

But man, the stuff he’s done with Hourman is even better. The original Hourman, Rex Tyler, died fighting Extant during DC’s Zero Hour miniseries. There are two other Hourmen walking around, though, Rex’s son Rick, and an android from the future with time-travel powers. In JSA we learn that the android plucked Rex from the timestream just before his death and gave him one hour to spend with his son, who could break up that hour into increments anytime he needed to talk to his father. When Rick was almost killed fighting Black Adam, though, he and Rex switched places, with Rex back in the “regular” timestream and Rick trapped in time. Johns wrapped up that storyline in last week’s JSA #66 with an ending that showed off everything that made these characters heroes.

If we’re talking about glorifying superheroes, though, one need look no further than Astro City. Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross have created a real lush, wonderful world that pays a brilliant tribute to everything that superhero comics have to offer, and they look at it from every angle. If you haven’t read this comic, you haven’t read superheroes right.

Here’s the thing — while excellent stories have been told in both the deconstruction and glorification subgenres of superheroes, not all characters are suited for both. Superman and Captain America, for instance, never really work in deconstructed stories. When you start making Superman grim or edgy, you lose what it is that makes him Superman.

This was the big problem I had with Mark Millar’s Ultimates series, and the reason I’m not getting Ultimates 2. Millar recreated regular Marvel characters and made it a point that they were not the same as the ones we were used to. However, the new characters he whipped up seemed to me to be nothing more than the original character’s worst traits magnified to the extreme. Giant-Man was nothing more than a wife-beater. Iron Man was nothing more than a drunken philanderer. Captain America was nothing more than an arrogant nationalist.

On the other hand, characters like the Punisher just don’t hold up if you try to glorify them. Even when you go lighthearted, as Garth Ennis did in the Marvel Knights incarnation of the character, it has to be dark humor, with an undertone of madness that belies the character’s situation in life.

Then there are those rare characters that work if you’re deconstructing or glorifying superheroes. I think the X-Men are probably the best example of this. During New X-Men, writer Grant Morrison dissected these characters, brought their faults to the forefront and made them face down threats — both from without and within — that tore the team apart. Much of his story was a satire of some of the more ridiculous aspects of the characters (Magneto’s tendency to get resurrected no matter what the circumstances of his death were, for instance, or the egocentric notion that the “X” in Weapon X was a letter and not a Roman numeral). He took the X-Men apart and pieced them into something new, then he put the chairs on the tables, wiped down the counter and left.

Then he leaves and what happens? Joss Whedon comes in with Astonishing X-Men and, using many of the same characters, puts them back into costumes and sends ‘em out to be superheroes. And it works, just as well. Meanwhile, Nunzio DeFillips and Christina Weir remake their New Mutants series into New X-Men: Academy X, a book about — what else? — teen superheroes. These are kids learning to one day become X-Men, and as such, the book has several elements that both glorify superheroes (the code names, the “squads”) and break them down (how Wither accidentally killed his father with his powers, for instance).

There are many, many different things that can be done with superhero comics, and a great many of them are being done right now, done very well. There’s an old saying in some parts of the country that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. With comic books, if you don’t like one, just take a step or two further down the rack. Even if you’re looking at a rack of superheroes, you won’t have far to go to find something totally different.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: October 6, 2004

Welcome back, Bill Willingham, you have been too long absent from this list, but last week’s Fables #30 bolted you right back to the front of the pack. I’ve been a fan of this title since the first issue, friends, and issue #30 is possibly the best yet. This is the answer to “decompressed” storytelling here, everything happens at once. The Fables are reconstructing their home after a battle, the election for the mayor of Fabletown is going off, Snow White is in labor (and Bigby Wolf is the father) — there are three major storylines in this issue, a half-dozen (if not more) minor storylines, and there’s still room in there for a few surprises. If you haven’t tried out Fables, this may just be a great place to start.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

 

20
Mar
11

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 214: The News From C2E2

It’s all Blake again this week as we delve into the news from the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2 for short! The new Wonder Woman costume, the newest cast member for The Dark Knight Rises, the new creative teams for Punisher, Daredevil, Moon Knight and Ghost Rider… and are Captain America and The Flash both re-launching again? Good grief. It’s a double pick this week, Justice League: Generation Lost #21 and Ruse #1! Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 214: The News From C2E2

09
Feb
11

Classic EBI #76: Comics By the Letters

Last week, an independent comic creator put out a call to arms for other creators to take a shot at their own property, and not expend all their creative energy on corporate characters. While I agree in principle, as I explain in this week’s Everything But Imaginary, I think the finger is being pointed at the wrong target…

Everything But Imaginary #386: Are Creators to Blame For Lack of Creator-Owned Comics?

In this week’s classic EBI, though, it’s time for something pretty timely. DC Comics has just announced that they’re bringing back the long-lost, lamented letter pages to their comic books. So let’s go back to August 18, 2004, when I bemoaned the loss of those pages…

Comic Books By the Letters

I want to write comic books someday. I don’t think I’m giving away any top secret information in saying that — at least 25 percent of all comic fans, at some point or another, seriously harbor an urge to pursue a career as a writer or an artist, and if anyone in the other 75 percent tried to claim they had never at least thought about it, I would call them a liar and spray them with the garden hose.

I think it’s safe to say that the next generation of comic fans (wherever they wind up coming from) will come with those same ambitions and aspirations as well. However, there is one thing I can say about being a writer that future generations may not have the chance to, given the way things are. I can say that the first time something I wrote was published in a comic book, it was in the letter page.

Although I had occasionally dashed off letters to comic companies in my earlier years, it wasn’t until the year I graduated high school that one finally saw print. That first letter appeared in New ShadowHawk #1 from Image comics, and I was commenting on the powerful final issue of the original ShadowHawk series (creator Jim Valentino will be bringing the property back for a one-shot later this year, finally) and apparently, something I said was interesting enough to justify seeing print in the first issue of the new series, written by the man who would quickly become my favorite writer in comics, Kurt Busiek.

Well, I’ve got to tell you, seeing my name and my words in print emboldened me, and for the first year or two that I was in college, I was a ubiquitous letterhack. Oh, I was no Uncle Elvis, but I became a semi-regular presense in the letter page of a new title, Kurt Busieks’s Astro City. I also got a couple of letters in the pages of Jeff Smith’s Bone, and landed missives in other titles, including Ninjak (another Busiek title at the time), Impulse, Robin and even JLA (back during the Morrison years). Heck, at one point having my address appear in those back pages actually scored me a black-and-white preview of the resurrected X-O Manowar by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn — Acclaim Comics even wound up excerpting part of my reply for that preview into an ad for the comic. (It was the first time I was ever “blurbed,” long before my days as a reviewer at CX Pulp.)

Eventually, though, school, work, life and all those other things that prevent us from reading comic books all day interfered and my output lessened, although I still tried to drop a line to Astro City whenever it came out. It wasn’t really that big a tragedy — there was no shortage of letter-writers coming up from behind me to fill the ranks.

Then, a couple of years ago, DC Comics announced it was abandoning its letters pages entirely. Marvel never made an official announcement, but their pages began to dwindle to almost nil, and on those rare occasions they appeared, it almost felt like the editors cherry-picked gushing, glowing missives instead of working in a mix of enthusiasm and criticism like letters pages of yore had done. Part of the rationale DC gave for getting rid of the format is that Internet message boards — like this one — made the letters page irrelevant. I tend to disagree. I love message boards — heck, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have written 76 of these “Everything But Imaginary” columns and nearly 400 reviews for this website — but there’s something unique about the letters page.

Look at it this way — when you see your letter appear in the back of a comic book, you know that somebody involved with the production of that comic read it. If there’s a reply, that’s even better. Even if it’s the assistant editor’s assistant stapler, it passed through the eyeballs of somebody making a comic book happen.

Unless a creator takes the time to reply to you on a message board, you don’t know that your message is ever getting to the people you intend it for. Even on “official” message boards, there’s no way to know if the writer or artist or editor you’re addressing actually reads your post. You’re just shouting into the wind, hoping your message gets carried off.

Second… let’s be honest here, guys… there’s no sense of accomplishment in posting to a message board. All you need is an e-mail address and anybody can blather to their heart’s content. With a letter page, though, there’s a limited amount of space, and you know that, so if your letter shows up on that page it means somebody judged it superior to other missives, somebody found something in that letter that was clever or funny or thought-provoking enough to want to share it with the other people who read that title.

Third… there is that sense of community. Oh, we’ve got a great community right here on Comixtreme — Doug is the mayor, Brandon is the court jester, Ronée clearly is in charge of the house of worship, Craig runs the barber shop for some reason… but as many hits as we get here, very, very few threads ever get as many views as the print run of an average comic book. And even those that do, it’s the same pool of people reading and replying over and over again. Now there’s nothing wrong with that at all, but when it comes to getting your message out to the masses, having it printed in the comic itself is still far, far superior to anything the Internet has yet accomplished.

I think it’s nice to note that a great deal of comic book creators were just as upset as the fans when the letters pages went the way of the dinosaur. A number of them got their starts as letterhacks back in the day, after all, and they know everything I’ve already told you. People with creator-owned books like Savage Dragon have kept the letters page in defiance of these oh-so-sweeping winds of change. Fables and Robin writer Bill Willingham started online “letter pages” at his own website, and although those are essentially message boards themselves, it does have more of the feel of the “real” letter pages since each thread is devoted to a single issue of a single title and because Willingham himself frequently appears and answers questions the fans ask.

But, as is so often the case, there’s hope. And oddly enough, that hope is coming from DC Comics, the same people who made the biggest stink about losing the letter pages in the first place. DC has announced that, beginning in September, it will lump all of its titles based on animated properties (it seems a bit patronizing to call them “kid’s comics”) into a new line hosted by the return of their old mascot, Johnny DC. Johnny will be bringing you Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans Go!, Looney Tunes and other such comics every month…

…and with them, Johnny will have letter pages. In fact, he’s already showing up in comics and online asking kids to send in their letters.

I don’t know why, exactly, DC has decided to backtrack here and bring back the letter pages, at least for this small family of titles, but I hope it works. I hope it’s a huge success. I hope the demand gets so great that they start putting the letters back in every comic.

After all, not everyone is as lucky as I am — when I think a comic stinks, I can just write a column about it.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: August 11, 2004

Okay, look, I’ve given up on this one. Can we all just agree that any given week that features an issue of Identity Crisis, it’s going to win this award? Issue #3 was the best yet, featuring a spectacular fight scene with the Justice League and Deathstroke, some shocking (but utterly logical) revelations about the JLA’s past, and a last-page shocker that was as gut-wrenching as anything I’ve seen since… well… since Identity Crisis #1.

But since I feel like Brad Meltzer is being very selfish, writing a comic book so brilliant it can’t possibly lose this honor, I’m also going to point out the next-greatest book of the week… this time out it’s a one-shot graphic novel from Image, Doug TenNapel’s Tommysaurus Rex. TenNapel is most well-known for creating the video game and cartoon character Earthworm Jim, but a few years ago he put out an absolutely brilliant graphic novel called Creature Tech, which remains a favorite of mine to this day.

This time out he tells the story of a young boy who goes to spend the summer on his grandfather’s farm after his beloved dog is killed by a car… only to find, inexplicably, a living, breathing Tyrannasaurus Rex in the woods! He and the T-Rex befriend each other (this is a classic example of the “Boy and His Monster” comic I wrote about here in EBI a few weeks ago), and he quickly comes to realize that there may be even more to his new friend than he realized. This is a wonderful, touching story, the sort of thing you really can read with your kids. (Well… older kids, the scenes with the dog dying and other bits may be a bit too upsetting for younger children.) At any rate, it’s a beautiful graphic novel and gets my highest recommendation. And to make things even cooler, even before it came out last week, Universal Studios optioned the rights to make the movie. Now that rocks.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

25
Aug
10

Classic EBI #62: From Peanuts to Spandex-Why Comics Will Never Die

Comixtreme.com is suffering from a temporary failure of service, which means no new Everything But Imaginary column tonight. Hopefully we’ll get the problem sorted out and I’ll get the new one online later this week. For now, though, it’s time for your usual Wednesday blast from the past. From May 12, 2004, it’s time for a glimpse at… well… everything I love about comics, and why I think we’ll always have them.

EVERYTHING BUT IMAGINARY 5/12/04

From Peanuts to Spandex: Why comics will never die

As I think I may have mentioned once or twice or a trillion times, I love Peanuts. And not the salted, honey-roasted kind, although I do love a good PB&J sandwich, which my doctor says is bad for my triglycerides so I’m going through withdrawal right now and thank you very much for bringing it up.

No, friends, I’m talking about the comic strip Peanuts, four panels of brilliance (more on Sundays) that graced the pages of newspapers all over the planet every day for almost five decades, the idea that spawned countless books and TV specials, cartoons and greeting cards and put words like “security blanket” in the global lexicon. I mean Peanuts, the brainchild of the brilliant Charles M. Schulz and the greatest comic strip of all time.

Well… in my opinion, anyway. Everybody’s got their own and is entitled to it, but I doubt anyone can logically argue that Peanuts isn’t at least the most important comic strip of all time. It’s a global phenomenon, universally recognized, beloved every day for nearly 50 years with no reruns or ghost writers and, most importantly, it brought a wise, philosophical tone to the newspaper page that many have tried to emulate and most have failed at. To my mind, the only two comics that even come close to Peanuts in terms of sheer intelligence without sacrificing the endearing humor that draws you in the first place are Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

A few weeks ago, a discussion erupted here at Comixtreme about comic strips versus comic books — as this is a comic book site, that’s what we spend most of our time discussing here. Strips and books aren’t the same, but they aren’t completely different either. It’s sort of like the difference between a movie and a television show — one is more frequent but shorter as well, one is something you pay for while the other is free or part of another package you buy (cable TV or newspapers), but the storytelling tools and language are the same. There have been overlaps in the two since the beginning — the very first comic books were reprint books of newspaper strips before someone got the idea to create new material. Dozens of comic strips, from Peanuts to Pogo to Dennis the Menace and Heathcliff, have all graced the comic book page at some point, whereas some comic books like Superman (initially a pitch for a newspaper strip before National Periodical Publications put him in Action Comics), Spider-Man and the Hulk have appeared in newspapers. There is even more overlap today, with Liberty Meadows abandoning newspapers entirely to focus on a comic and webtoons like PVP and Dork Tower enjoying a healthy coexistence as both a strip and a comic book. Artists have even crossed over, with Kelly doing the occasional Disney comic way back when and John Byrne doing a guest run on Funky Winkerbean some time back.

But Peanuts is still the ruler of them all, as we all saw last week when Fantagraphics Comics published The Complete Peanuts: 1950-1952, the first of planned a 25-volume series that will finally reprint every single Peanuts strip in sequence, including hundreds that have never been reprinted since they first appeared in the newspaper. That was the greatest thing, for me, as I read this book: for the first time in four years I was reading Peanuts comics I’d never read before. The strip only had four characters at first — Shermy, Patty (the non-peppermint kind), a wordless Snoopy and good ol’ Charlie Brown. In the course of this first two and a half years, Violet moved in to the neighborhood and Schroeder, Lucy and Linus each made their debuts — as Sally would later — as babies, eventually aging to the point where they were peers with Charlie Brown and then freezing at that age with him. We see Snoopy’s first words, Schroeder’s first concert and Charlie Brown’s first baseball game (when he was a catcher).

Several of these characters would fade over the years as new ones would be introduced — Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Woodstock (who started out not only nameless, but as a girl), Franklin (whose appearance actually angered some readers because it showed the kids attended an integrated school) and dozens of others who have become part of this national treasure.

As Schulz got older, the strip got simpler, sliding from four panels to three to meet newspaper syndicate demands, and sometimes consisting of a single long panel. His line began to shake and the characters started to wobble. But even with the Golden Age over, they were still Peanuts and still beautiful.

In an interview in the back of this book, Schulz talked about comics in general, and what he considered a mistake in several. He said it was easy to destroy a comic with one mistake. He came close, he said, when he began introducing Snoopy’s brothers and sisters (and in fact only one sibling, Spike, appeared with regularity after that). He said Bob Seager destroyed Popeye when he introduced Eugene the Jeep. And he said Superman himself was destroyed a very long time ago, when he first learned to fly.

When I read this, I was jolted out of the book, because it made me realize something very important. This man, one of my heroes, still someone I consider one of the wisest men who ever lived… I thought he was wrong. I still do. I don’t think you can destroy a good comic, not one with a real heart and soul to it, the way Peanuts and Superman both do. His argument is that Superman’s flying power unhinged him from reality and made him less relatable. And perhaps that’s true, for people who knew the character at the beginning. But for younger people, for me, that was always part of the appeal. Who wouldn’t want to fly? I can’t tell you how many hours I spent as a child (almost as many as I have as an adult) dreaming of being able to take to the air, go where I wanted, unfettered by borders or rules. Does that make Superman hard to accept? Perhaps. But only if you’re unwilling to open your imagination.

Superman has suffered from some terrible storylines over the years (let’s not get into the Blue/Red fiasco), and a lot of people gave up on him. But new stories, great stories are currently being told by the likes of Jeph Loeb and Mark Waid. And even if they weren’t… well… a bad storyline now, even a thousand bad storylines now, can never take away the wonder of the stories we loved in the past.

I’m using Superman as my example because Schulz did, but I think the same holds true for any truly great comic concept: Batman, the Fantastic Four, Captain America. Someone told me recently that, after the last few years of Uncanny X-Men, they didn’t think they would ever enjoy the characters again. And it’s true that a comic’s present can be shattered and possibly even destroyed for that one person. But as long as the heart still exists, there is always the possibility that some new writer, some new artist, some new child who has never read the comic before will find it, breathe life into it again, and make it new.

And the same goes for the great strips. Even if the last few years of Peanuts weren’t as good as they were in the glory years, they were still better than 90 percent of the comics in the newspaper. And it’s why thousands of newspapers still run Classic Peanuts every day. It doesn’t matter if we’ve read them before. Everything that strip taught us is still true: unrequited love is the hardest; a watched mailbox never produces a Valentine; just because a kid has a blanket doesn’t mean he’s not smarter than you; happiness is a warm puppy; there is no problem so immense that it can’t be summed up with a “Good grief.” And most of all, no matter what, never, never stop trying to kick that football.

Charles Schulz knew all that. And he taught it to me.

And maybe somewhere out there right now, some new kid is picking up the newspaper for the first time, and seeing today’s Classic Peanuts

…and smiling.

Because a great comic, a true comic, can never die.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: May 5, 2004

And speaking of Superman, in a comic week with no real jump-out-of-your-seat awesome comics, Superman: Birthright #10 took favorite of the week honors for being the most consistently entertaining. Mark Waid and Leinil Yu have done an incredible job of reinventing the man of steel. In this issue, Lex Luthor launches a fake invasion of the planet Earth by Krypton, Superman is down for the count and everyone thinks he’s part of the invasion force. He’s ready to quit. He’s ready to give up.

The last page sells this. The last page reminds us what Superman means. Oh, if only Waid were writing Action Comics

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at Blake@comixtreme.com and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page.

13
Sep
08

Blake’s Universal Rules of the Universe

Since I resurrected this website back in June, I’ve brought back most of the stuff from the old site that was actually worth saving. Oddly enough, though, I actually have had a number (two) of requests from a number (two) of people asking for the return of a feature I called Blake’s Universal Rules of the Universe. For those of you who weren’t around for Evertime Realms 1.0, the Universal Rules of the Universe are short little quotations — usually funny (or at least intended to be funny) that I think explain or reveal a little truth about the universe. Most of them are by me, several of them are quotes by people far smarter than myself, and those are credited accordingly. So I went to the old list, I pulled out my favorites to begin the core of the NEW Universal Rules of the Universe, and from now on, I’ll add to the list whenever something occurs to me. Hope you enjoy it… especially the number (two) of people who wanted me to bring it back.

Blake’s Universal Rules of the Universe!

1. It always itches the most when you can’t scratch it without people seeing you.

2. The word “underpants” is 22 percent funnier than the word “underwear.”

3. If you want your car to stop making that funny noise, just ask someone else to listen for it. A similar rule applies to most computer problems.

4. Timing is everything. Especially if you are a secret agent trying to leap between the spinning blades of one of those unnecessarily systematic deathtraps.

5. The line between “brilliant work of art” and “pretentious piece of crap” is much thinner than many people care to admit.

6. There is nothing so irrelevant that people won’t whine about it on the Internet.

7. The height of one’s waistband has a direct correlation to a person’s age. This is why teenagers wear pants down to their knees and seniors tuck them under their armpits.

8. If you think about something at three o’clock in the morning, and then again at noon the next day, you get different answers. — Snoopy

9. Ninety percent of America, no matter how many times they read it, will always forget that “Spider-Man” is hyphenated.

10. The average morning radio DJ is on the air over 15 hours a week, compared to a television sitcom star, who only gets 22 minutes. However, a morning DJ can survive for years with only three jokes, whereas a successful sitcom star needs at least five.

11. No matter how crappy the DVD is, “scene selection” and “interactive menus” do not count as “special features.”

12. If at any point you become so frustrated you yell, “I know it’s on this desk somewhere!” that is your cue to clean your desk.

13. All you really need is love… but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. — Lucy Van Pelt

14. Real heroes never ask for the title.

15. Hope is like gasoline for the soul, it’s what you need to keep everything moving in the right direction and it costs upwards of four bucks a gallon.

16. In this world, there is right and there is wrong, and that distinction is not difficult to make. — Superman, Kingdom Come #3 by Mark Waid

17. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. — Thomas Edison

18. It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt. — Mark Twain

19. Just because you have the right to do something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea.

20. Fiction is the truth within the lie. — Stephen King

21. The worst part of being alone is the fear that it will turn out to be a permanent condition.

22. The best thing about Friday morning is the knowledge, immediately upon waking up, that in 24 hours you will still be asleep.

23. Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first. — Ronald Reagan

24. The same law that gives you the right to say anything you want also gives me the right to ridicule what you say mercilessly. – Dennis Miller

25. This whole country would be a lot healthier if scientists would stop trying to grow human ears on rats and work on ways to make broccoli taste like a Quarter Pounder With Cheese.

26. Blessed are the peacemakers, because what with the high blood pressure, headaches, premature baldness and stomach ulcers, they’re gonna need it.

27. Not all magic is fireworks and fanfare. Sometimes magic is quiet and sneaks up on you. An illusion is what needs all the bells and whistles to make itself appear grander than it really is, which is just a trick that can be explained.” — Bishop Nicholas, The Autobiography of Santa Clausas told to Jeff Guinn

28. The female body is a work of art. It’s smooth, it’s streamlined, it’s curvy in all the right places. The male body, on the other hand, seems to be designated primarily for comedic purposes.

29. The words “full screen” and “special edition” are inherently incompatible.

30. All major airlines believe that the best way to atone for a really terrible flight is to give the passenger a free or reduced fare on their next really terrible flight.

31. Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless. — Thomas Edison

32. Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love. — Charlie Brown

33. Remember when the first Austin Powers movie came out? And everybody was doing impressions? And it was funny? Yeah. It’s not anymore. Knock it off.

34. The Fantastic Four without a sense of exploration is like Spider-Man getting stung by a radioactive honeybee.

35. Peace is not simply the absence of war, but it is the presence of justice. – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

36. There are two kinds of teenagers, those who think they’re mature and understand the whole universe and those mature enough to know that they don’t.

37. Many words become at minimum 37 percent funnier with the inclusion of a few superfluous letters. For example: “snausages.”

38. October is the only time ABC Family shows The Scariest Places on Earth, even though careful laboratory studies have proven it is 1,462.7 times more entertaining than those Full House reruns they’re so in love with.

39. If you can’t do something smart, do something right. – Shepherd Derrial Book, Serenity

40. The only difference between those who blindly accept everything and those who blindly question everything is that the latter are more likely to have an undeserved sense of superiority.

41. “Hypocrite” is the most overused and mis-used word on the Internet. Second, oddly, is “Chrysanthemum.”

42. After watching DVD for a while, all VHS films look horrible. After watching enough HDTV, you can’t watch regular TV anymore. All technologies spoil us for inferior technology.

43. In life we expect things to happen out of the blue. In fiction we won’t tolerate it. – Ronald B. Tobias

44. There are at least four distinct types of brain damage only demonstrable in the typical North American High School Student.

45. It is possible, in middle schools, for a couple to meet, fall for each other, have a meaningful relationship and break up bitterly without ever speaking fact-to-face. Sometimes this happens in the space of a single class period.

46. If you would not be forgotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin.

47. Ninety-three percent of all stupidity is self-inflicted.

48. Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot. – Morpheus, the Dream-King, Sandman #19 by Neil Gaiman.

49. If you’ve got two good legs, one good head and no invalid dependents, you have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t get out of the way of a hurricane.

50. Heroes are like the stars. They’re always there, you just can’t see them until it grows dark.

51. The candidate most deserving of your vote is whichever one promises not to run for re-election until, at earliest, May of the next election year. This two-year election cycle is absolutely ludicrous.

52. As soon as you conceive of a bizarre pairing of two different fandoms, someone on the internet will write a bad fanfiction about that very thing.

53. Outside of medical professionals, teachers have the highest germ exposure of any major profession. They basically work in giant Petri dishes.

54. Everyone dreams of quitting their job. No one dreams of being told, “We’re sorry. Your services are no longer required.”

55. A teacher never feels as appreciated as the day after a sick day when the students had a substitute they didn’t like.

56. “You’ve got to love what you do in life. If you’re not doing what you love, you’re doing the wrong thing.” — Muppeteer Jerry Nelson on Episode #105 of The Muppetcast

57. Everybody is annoying once in a while. Some people just make it a lifestyle choice.

58. Having goals in life is important, but they should be specific goals. For example, wanting to become so famous that you are a category on Jeopardy is a good goal. Unless one of the answers is “in a hail of gunfire.”

59. If at any point in your day, you turn to a complete stranger and say, “You’re not a cop, are you?”, the time has come to re-evaluate your life choices.

60. The more entertained you are by the people around you, the less what you’re doing seems like work.

61. Anyone who complains about free pie should have it shoved in their face, the video of which should be immediately uploaded to YouTube.

62. Over 96 percent of all newly-purchased GPS devices, on their first use, will direct the driver to a place he already knows the way to blindfolded, just to “see if it works.”

63. Whether it’s a movie, video game, or potential mate, no amount of pretty can make up for an utter lack of substance.

64. Sometimes, you just have to shut up and let your friends be stupid, because you know if you tell them they’re being stupid, they’d just be stupid anyway.

65. The kindest prank the universe will ever pull on you is give you good news, then tell you not to tell everyone… yet.

66. When you’re dieting, willpower is your friend. A nasty, dirty friend who will club you over the head and abandon you when you need him the most, but not before he steals your wallet.

67. Teachers have to keep in the relative ages of their former students in mind at all times. One of the most uncomfortable phrases a human being could hear would be, “Welcome to Hooter’s! Oh… Mr. Smith… it’s you…”

68. Everybody deserves, just once a day, for someone else to somehow make them feel significant.

69. Students and teachers often disagree, but both demographics will rank “as soon as the bell rings on Friday afternoon” as the best time of the average week.

70. Illegal downloading is wrong. But Disney making people who want a digital copy of Tangled, Tron: Legacy or A Christmas Carol pay for a 3-D version that will look like crap on their home television sets in order to get the digital copy is not going to convince anybody of this.

71. If I buy something from your website, you don’t need to start sending me your paper catalog. I no longer need paper catalogs. I have the internet.

72. Kids should get tokens for naps they don’t want to take, which would be redeemable as adults for all those time we wants naps and don’t have the time. Also, I’m sleepy.

73. People who flip out over the first announcement of many are probably the same ones that quit reading books after the first chapter if they don’t already know every damn detail.

74. The next time you think to yourself, “such a small detail can’t possibly make a difference,” stop and FIX IT. Because yes, it can.

75. If someone is basing their plans on your availability, and that availability changes, TELL THEM. Or don’t be mad when you show up three hour late and they’ve eaten your dinner and are waiting to hit you in the genitals with a baseball bat.

76. When you kick your good friend Sleep out the door far too early five days in a row, don’t be surprised on a Friday afternoon when he mugs your ass and leaves you for dead.

77. If you sit in the middle of the aisles in a bookstore, reading books you have no intention of buying, when the bookstore itself has kindly provided numerous desks, tables, and armchairs, then you forfeit your right to complain if a paying customer “accidentally” kicks you in the face when I’m leaning over you to reach the latest Rick Riordan novel.

78. Sometimes the express lane just isn’t fast enough. Stores should have a “Super-Duper Express Lane” for those customers wearing anxious expressions and buying nothing but a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.




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