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Jeet Heer calls the late Jack Chick the Leni Riefenstahl of American cartooning:

Beloved by his fellow fundamentalists, who bought his tracts by the hundreds of millions and seeded them in bus stops and diners all over the world, Chick was widely derided by the world at large where he was seen, accurately, as a producer of hate literature.

Chick's tracts had a disturbing power to make you see the world through his eyes, a squirrelly and sweaty vantage point where everything is a demonic conspiracy to rob you of your soul.

Here, Heer makes the Riefenstahl comparison in detail:

Like the Nazi filmmaker who made Triumph of the Will, Chick was an artist of genuine skill who put his talent in the service of an odious ideology. Both Riefenstahl and Chick raise perennial and unsolvable problems about the relationship between content and form: Can art transcend the intentions of the artist? Can we separate out the message of a work of art from the artistry it contains? Art that helps us understand the mind of another is valuable, but what do we do with art by a mind like Chick's, whose sheer hatefulness numbs empathy?

It does seem an apt comparison, although I'm wary of Nazi analogies.

intractable

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The evangelical cartoonist Jack Chick, author of innumerable Chick Tracts, has died. Jezebel notes the following:

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Chick Productions announced Monday that their founder Jack Chick has died at 92, which is big news for anyone who's ever been fascinated, horrified, and occasionally delighted by his comic books. Chick was the creator of Chick Tracts, a long-running series of evangelical mini comics designed to bring people to Jesus through a combination of insane, bizarre, fairly campy storylines and extremely middling art.

An independent 2008 documentary on Chick, God's Cartoonist, calls him "the best-selling underground artist and publisher in the world."

For a taste of Chick's biblical bile, see Unicorn Booty's list of his top 5 homophobic rants--and shudder at their reminder that "Chick's tracts have been translated into over 100 languages."

Debasing Donald

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Here's a winning design for a losing campaign:

20161014-debasingpolitics.jpg

Just in case it wasn't obvious what they were getting at, the magazine posted an animated version on Twitter:

Donald Trump has taken a knuckle-duster to American political culture https://t.co/fDJdgUuQtF pic.twitter.com/cBKOS2abYv

-- The Economist (@TheEconomist) October 13, 2016

super-power bottom

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Charles Pulliam-Moore discusses the latest events in the Midnighter and Apollo series:

At some point between rinsing plates and hanging them up to dry, the couple take advantage of the fact that they're finally alone and get down to having sex right there in the kitchen. The moment's spontaneous and intimate and reflective of the fact that Midnighter and Apollo have been on-again, off-again soulmates in various comics for nearly 20 years.

Though this isn't the first time that Midnighter and Apollo have been depicted being sexually intimate with one another, this particular scene of the two raised a number of fans' eyebrows because of the not-so-subtle implication that Midnighter, a hyper-violent, über-butch Batman analogue, is a bottom.

The event in question, as delineated by Fernando Blanco, looks like this:

20161012-powerbottom.jpg

Pulliam-Moore continues:

Last night, during a panel about representations of race and sexuality in comics at New York Comic Con, Midnighter & Apollo writer Steve Orlando described how a fan of the new book came up to him and said that he'd scored one for the bottoms.

Once the clapping and cheering died down a bit, Orlando insisted that sex scenes like this are an integral part of creating honest stories about queer people in pop culture. Considering the fact that we've seen characters like the Green Arrow performing cunnilingus on Black Canary, Orlando said, seeing Midnighter and Apollo getting down shouldn't really shock people.

Not in the civilized world perhaps--but the Bible Belt might be a different story.

Even in more complex, nuanced depictions of gay culture, bottom-shaming--the mockery of men who prefer to be the receptive partner during intercourse--is still fairly common. Like all forms of homophobia, bottom-shaming is tied to the idea that gayness and gay sex are feminine things and that feminine things are less-than.

In showing Midnighter as a bottom (though he could very well be versatile), Midnighter & Apollo is inviting its readers to broaden their understandings of gay men, gender, and homosexuality. Butch guys can be bottoms, feminine guys can be tops, none of that defines their masculinity.

...and comics can be sexy without featuring scantily-clad women.

This long Alan Moore interview (with Dominic Wells), focusing on his new novel Jerusalem, is worth a read. Here are some highlights:

Alan Moore and I are holed up in an Italian restaurant in Northampton to discuss the culmination of a lifetime's work, research and philosophy. "Bigger than the Bible and I hope more socially useful", is how Moore describes his sprawling magnum opus, Jerusalem, with his customarily deadpan humour. [...]

This is why, as in Alan Moore's first novel, Voice of the Fire, almost all the action in Jerusalem takes place within a small geographical area of Northampton, but ranging across different historical eras, each centring on different protagonists who end up interconnecting in surprising ways. It took Moore ten years to write - in between multiple other projects - and took me three weeks to read. It's part social history of Northampton, part thinly fictionalised history of Moore's own family, part philosophical treatise, part rip-roaring adventure in which a gang of kids maraud through the afterlife in a central section Moore describes as like "a savage, hallucinating Enid Blyton".

As if that wasn't hard enough to pull off, Moore adapts his writing style to the inner voice of whoever is the chapter's focus. One is written as a play, in the style of Waiting for Godot, and throws together the spirits of Thomas Becket, Samuel Beckett, John Clare and John Bunyan - all of whom have some connection with Northampton - as they observe and comment on a husband and wife wrestling with a terrible family secret... [...]

Another chapter, described from the point of view of James Joyce's mad daughter Lucia who was institutionalised for 30 years in a Northampton mental hospital, is written in a mangled, pun-filled gibber-English as a homage to Joyce's Finnegans Wake. It was so laborious to compose that Moore took a year's break after finishing it.

That reminds me of his celebrated story "Pog!" from Swamp Thing #32, which featured characters and dialects reminiscent of Walt Kelly's Pogo:

20161002-pog.jpg

I read an interview (ages ago, can't recall the source) where he also commented on needing recuperation time afterward. Wells continues:

If this makes Jerusalem sound like hard going, it isn't. It's gripping, full of stylistic fireworks, frequently laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes terrifying, occasionally frustrating. Could it have been shorter? Of course. But it's the digressions and bizarre connections that make the book, the nuggets of pure gold that Moore has sifted from the silt of local history through prodigious research and banked in his near-photographic memory.

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Hatfield, Charles & Ben Saunders. Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby (San Diego, CA: IDW, 2016)

From my reviews of The Comics Journal Library, Vol. 1, Mark Evanier's Kirby: King of Comics, Charles Hatfield's Hand of Fire, and Maximum FF, my love for Jack Kirby should be obvious. The Charles Hatfield & Ben Saunders book Comic Book Apocalypse is essentially a second edition of the catalog from last year's exhibit at Cal State Northridge. Demand for the catalog was high, and apparently wasn't dampened (at least not on my behalf) by the delay from last August to the present.

I was initially disappointed to see the page count was only 168, but the book's 8"x12" size helps to add a bit more visual grandeur to Kirby's art--much of which is presented as full pages or double-page spreads. As is appropriate, the art is mostly shot from the original art instead of the printed pages--the better to appreciate Kirby's artistry. The essays (twenty of them) are on the short side, and touch on various facets of Kirby's creativity. They are both interesting and informative--and well-illustrated, of course. These two passages from the Introduction help to set the tone:

Then, in the '60s, deep into his career, and in the wake of a period of contraction and hardship within his industry, Kirby found himself at the company that would become known as Marvel Comics--where, in an extended burst of creative energy that must count as one of the towering achievements in American popular art, he returned to the idea of the superhero, forging a new visual template for the genre while simultaneously laying the foundations of Marvel's teeming story-world. Central to his method now was a yen for mythopoesis: the building of personal mythologies, replete with secret histories and menacing futures, global, all-encompassing conflicts, and the apocalyptic revelation and potential destruction of whole worlds. (p. 11, Introduction, Charles Hatfield & Ben Saunders)

No comic-book artist has come close to matching Kirby's imaginative reach during this peak period, which he would sustain well into the '70s, month after month, displaying an astonishing ability to invent and populate new visual worlds on the fly. (p. 14, Introduction, Charles Hatfield & Ben Saunders)

Kirby's collaborators are acknowledged as well. Mercifully, his frequent inker Vince Colletta doesn't get slagged here as he often does elsewhere. There is praise for others, such as longtime Kirby inker Mike Royer, mixed in with the adulation for Kirby. This passage is a gem:

Look at the energy, the black-and-white oomph packed into these two pages [Forever People #8, pp. 24-25], comprised of a mere eleven small panels. Kirby had one tool, a pencil, and one mode, flat out. Here, with chopping, slashing, confident lines (beautifully inked by Mike Royer) and a clearly worked-out visual rhetoric, Kirby conjures young faces, muscles, tendons, hair, clothing, rocks (and rocky faces), metals, energy, fission-blasts, "rays," invisibility, and a final big bang--not to mention anger, menace, surprise, fear, introspection, low comedy, and evil majesty. (p. 87, Tony Puryear, "Kirby's Megaton Touch")

Here's a nice discussion of Kamandi #8, pp. 2-3 (below):

Kirby and his inker, Mike Royer, were perfectly suited, since it was the team's natural tendency to lend everything, even rugged, crumbling concrete, a polished sheen. Royer captured Kirby's tendency to emphasize stark shapes and distinct areas of light. There are no gradients here--no crosshatching--just forms locked together in perfect order. In fact, without color, it's impossible to tell the difference between a loincloth, a floor, and marble statuary. This is actually an advantage, for Kirby and Royer's approach unifies the page and moves it away from illustration and into world-building. (p. 129, Dan Nadel, "Kirby's Monuments")

View image

The pair of two-page spreads that feature Kirby's "Dream Machine" painting (pp. 48-49 and pp. 50-51) were a nice surprise (see here), although one wishes that it had been done as a fold-out instead. (Even better, this image would make a great poster--hint, hint!) While I'm dreaming, along with a Jack Kirby: Conversations book as part of the UMiss series, I'd love to see traveling exhibitions of Kirby's work, perhaps focusing on different eras of his career. There is certainly enough artistic variety to support several options. Long live The King!

Here are some tidbits about the book, from an interview with Comics Reporter about last year's exhibit:

HATFIELD: The catalog is a monster: 20 essays on Kirby, most of them short and punchy, interleaved with more than a hundred images, most shot from original art. It's a joint publishing venture between the CSUN Art Galleries and IDW, under Scott Dunbier's eye and with design by Randall Dahlk, who designed IDW's incredible Kirby Artist's Editions. It's in production even now. [...]

I put the book together with my colleague and friend Ben Saunders. Of course one of our goals was to commemorate and deepen the exhibition experience, for those who get to see the show firsthand, but we also wanted to create something more: what we call a "catalog-plus" or companion book of lasting value. The idea is to do deep analysis of Kirby that allows lively voices and personal quirks to come through -- to model a kind of scholarship that preserves individuality and acknowledges how deeply Kirby hits us, as fans, readers, thinkers, makers. We wanted this book to be personal and at the same time solid, documented, smart stuff.

The following sentiment is one which I can agree completely:

SPURGEON: What do you think the average pop-culture consumer should take away in terms of knowing about Kirby and his legacy?

HATFIELD: That Kirby was one of 20th century America's gutsiest, strangest, and yet most influential graphic artists and visual storytellers. That the familiar things of pop culture today -- the Marvel movies, and all that -- came from a drawing board, and from a man working his damnedest to earn a living for himself and his family. That Marvel was just part of Kirby's amazing career story. That Kirby not only designed Marvel but took comic books a step further, toward a quirky and wonderful way of representing mythology through superhero conventions and SF. That he was a nonstop idea generator. That he dreamed of past and future, of new worlds and new gods, and did so in an ecstatic graphic style that distilled everything wild, unrepentant, and delightfully crazy about American comic books.


links:

Print did a piece on the show, with excerpts from the book

Charles Hatfield blogs at Hand of Fire

comics lit

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In comics as literature, part 1 GeekDad's Jonathan Liu is assembling a list of graphic-novel classics:

In the world of comics, just as with novels or kids' books, there are some stories that transcend the realm of "hey, it's just entertainment" and become Serious Literature. I'm not saying that they can't include a few laughs (though some are solemn), but that you can tell there's something under the surface, whether through the subject matter or the language or the artwork.

And here's the best part: there's a lot of them. I'll share some of my old favorites and recent discoveries with you over the course of a few posts, but I guarantee you that there are so many more that I haven't read (or even heard of) yet, and I'm counting on you readers to fill in the gaps on my own shelves.

He ventures a few of the classic graphic novels: Maus, Sandman, Watchmen, and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics trilogy. It's tough to disagree with any of those choices, but I'm curious to see what books he adds in future installments.

WSJ looks at comic books and the success surrounding the Avengers, Batman, Spiderman, and X-Men franchises:

You might thus assume that superhero comics, the original properties on which these franchises are built, are in flush times. They aren't. The upper limit on sales of a superhero comic book these days is about 230,000; just two or three series routinely break into six digits. Twenty years ago, during the comic industry's brief Dutch-tulip phase, hot issues of "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" sold millions.

That two-decade slide "is a bit of a puzzle, especially because comics, broadly speaking, are respectable as never before:"

If no cultural barrier prevents a public that clearly loves its superheroes from picking up a new "Avengers" comic, why don't more people do so? The main reasons are obvious: It is for sale not in a real bookstore but in a specialty shop, and it is clumsily drawn, poorly written and incomprehensible to anyone not steeped in years of arcane mythology. [...]

The people who produce superhero comics have given up on the mass audience, and it in turn has given up on them. Meanwhile, the ablest creators have abandoned mainline superhero comics to mediocrity.

I'm not that concerned about superhero comics tending ward mediocrity--in the same way that summer blockbusters (like the Transformer movies) are for the motion-picture art form, or soap operas for TV. "The superhero comic has for decades been the fixed point around which this vital American art has revolved," the piece continues, and "it deserves better than to be reduced to a parody of a parody of itself."

Agreed. The medium needs better works of art, but also requires better criticism.

WSJ calls artist Jack Kirby the lost Avenger and announces that "sky-rocketing auction prices and a new museum in his honor are signaling that Jack Kirby may finally have arrived" with a $155,350 purchase:

That was the winning bid for a single page of "Fantastic Four" comic-book art drawn in 1966 by original "Avengers" artist Jack Kirby (and scripted by "Fantastic Four" and "Avengers" co-creator Stan Lee) on the website of Heritage Auctions.

The record-setting art, from Fantastic Four #55, can be seen here--with the artistic contribution of inker Joe Sinnott, who completed Kirby's vision with unparalleled skill:

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Charles Murray asks in the pages of New Criterion:

Given what we know about the conditions that led to great accomplishment in the past, what are the prospects for great accomplishment in the arts as we move through the twenty-first century?

Although I take issue with his dark hints about "problems associated with increased secularism" [such as lower crime, higher education, and longer lives?] and his "strongest conclusion that ... Religiosity is indispensable to a major stream of artistic accomplishment," this article functions as an intriguing appetizer for his 2004 book Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950.

Slate's James Sturm writes, "I have decided to boycott The Avengers" due to Marvel's mistreatment of the characters' primary creator, Jack Kirby:

His style was completely original. His characters flew across the page with fierce purpose and yet total abandon, fighting their hearts out against a backdrop of crazy machinery and abstract depictions of elemental energy. Though lacking in finesse, the drawings possessed a brute force that made the reader feel a pulse-pounding urgency that other cartoonists could not elicit. Every panel propelled the story forward at warp speed. Other cartoonists' work hit you with a water pistol; Kirby's slammed you with a fire hose.

Kirby's most creatively fertile decade (the 1960s) saw an output of about 800 pages of artwork per year, from The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men to The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Nick Fury. Later decades saw Kirby singled out for onerous contractual restrictions, and his heirs denied any share of Marvel's $4 billion sale to Disney in 2009:

What makes this situation especially hard to stomach is that Marvel's media empire was built on the backs of characters whose defining trait as superheroes is the willingness to fight for what is right. It takes a lot of corporate moxie to put Thor and Captain America on the big screen and have them battle for honor and justice when behind the scenes the parent company acts like a cold-blooded supervillain.

Hero Complex introduces some memories of Jack Kirby's son Neal this way:

"The Avengers," which unites the title characters from four film franchises -- Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk - to save Earth from a cosmic threat. The only person who had a hand in creating all of those characters was the late Jack Kirby, a titan figure in comics, but his heirs weren't invited to the premiere; their presence would be awkward considering their legal quest to reclaim the rights to hundreds of his Marvel creations.

Neal writes, "I think about Dad a lot lately, especially when I see Thor, Captain America, Magneto, or the Hulk on a movie poster:"

My father drew comics in six different decades and filled the skies of our collective imagination with heroes, gods, monsters, robots and aliens; most of the truly iconic ones are out of the first half of the 1960s, when he delivered masterpieces on a monthly basis. I treasure the fact that I had a front-row seat for that cosmic event.

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[Avengers #4 cover by Jack Kirby (1964), featuring the return of Captain America, a character he co-created in 1941]

Getting back to the movie, Comics Alliance speculates "it's not unlikely that The Avengers will earn a hundred million dollars on its opening day alone" and notes that "This represents a pretty big payday to a lot of people:"

...shamefully, the people who aren't making a big profit from these movies are the people (and the families of the people) who did the essential work of creating them in the first place. It's not just Jack Kirby, either, or (Black Widow and Hawkeye co-creator) Don Heck, but also Steve Engelhart, Peter David, Herb Trimpe, Jim Steranko, Roy Thomas and dozens more - the artists and writers who refined and defined the characters appearing in this movie, who fleshed out the original creations and molded them into the figures we cheer for when we see them on the screen.

Some very sensible people are calling for a boycott of this film on those grounds, but I think it's fairly obvious that a boycott of idealistic comic fans isn't going to accomplish much.

CA suggests instead that "as a thank you to the creators who brought you these characters in the first place, who gave you something to enjoy so much -- you match your ticket price as a donation to The Hero Initiative?"

THI is a charity which provides essential financial assistance to comic book professionals who have fallen on hard times. For decades, the comic industry provided no financial safety net to its employees, most of whom it regarded only as freelancers and journeymen, meaning they were offered no health insurance, no unemployment insurance, no retirement plans -- none of the financial support most of us enjoy from our jobs and careers. A small donation will help this agency provide a valuable safety net in times of need to these beloved entertainers.

The NYT breaks the sad news that DC plans to defile the memory of Watchmen, one of the few generally recognized classic graphic novels. A group of seven mini-series under the collective title Before Watchmen "will expand on the back stories of the costumed vigilantes like Rorschach and Nite Owl." (h/t to Comics Alliance for linking to the official DC announcement.)

Alan Moore, author of the original graphic novel, calls the plans "completely shameless" and adds that he's not objecting for pecuniary reasons: "I don't want money. What I want is for this not to happen." Similarly, Wired's Scott Thill laments that such artistic necrophilia "has become indispensable in an culture industry that long ago stopped calling derivative a dirty word."

This is all that I have to say:

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update (2/6):
Dork Tower had the same idea:

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Ted Rall posted a top ten comics of all time list, and asked for his readers' favorites. Over the course of several tweets, I mentioned a few that I have here categorized and alphabetized:

comic strips
Calvin & Hobbes (Watterson)
Dykes to Watch Out For (Bechdel)
Gasoline Alley (King)
Krazy Kat (Herriman)
Little Nemo (McCay)
Pogo (Kelly)
Prince Valiant (Foster)
The Spirit (Eisner)
Tarzan (Hogarth)

mainstream
Dark Knight (Miller)
Fantastic Four (Lee/Kirby)
Green Lantern/Green Arrow (O'Neill/Adams)
Nick Fury (Steranko)
Swamp Thing (Moore/Veitch/Totleben)
Walt Disney Comics & Stories (Barks)
Watchmen (Moore/Gibbons)

alt/indie/underground
American Splendor
Cerebus (Sim)
Cheech Wizard (Bode)
EC war comics (Kurtzman)
"Master Race" (Krigstein)
Maus (Spiegelman)
Moebius
Persepolis (Satrapi)
Raw
Ring of the Nibelung (Russell)
Zap

As with my favorite books, I'm lousy at making a list of n anything--my mind seems to gravitate toward a list of 2n items. I have a strong temptation to pull several anthologies down from the shelves, and spend the afternoon perusing them...

Gingrichamesh

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Newt's spokesweasel Rick Tyler fired a floridly full-bore fusillade against critics of his boss:

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.

It's ridiculous to suggest that Newt is anything but a Washington insider who makes his own living from distortions and falsehoods, but Rachel Maddow ridiculed the statement as "The Epic of Gingrich" for its overblown heroic rhetoric:

The text has also been adapted into a delightful cartoon (h/t: Alex Pareene at Slate):

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(Click here to see the whole thing.)

praising poetry

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Christopher Hitchens' "When the King Saved God" (Vanity Fair) is a paean to the poetry and prose of the Tyndale/King James translation:

For generations, it provided a common stock of references and allusions, rivaled only by Shakespeare in this respect. It resounded in the minds and memories of literate people, as well as of those who acquired it only by listening. [...] A culture that does not possess this common store of image and allegory will be a perilously thin one. To seek restlessly to update it or make it "relevant" is to miss the point, like yearning for a hip-hop Shakespeare.

"Its abandonment by the Church of England establishment," writes Hitchens, "is yet another demonstration that religion is man-made, with inky human fingerprints all over its supposedly inspired and unalterable texts."


update (4/12):
Here is a great illustration--a revision of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" (h/t: John Loftus) that should perhaps be retitled "The Creation of God:"

20110412-thecreationofgod.jpg

3eanuts

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Even better than Garfield without Garfield, 3eanuts takes classic Peanuts strips and simply drops the last panel:

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Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters' expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all.

(h/t: Brian Childs at Comics Alliance)


update:
See this WaPo feature for more information.

This series of what Dr Seuss books were really about is wonderful:

20110303-seuss.jpg

Erika Moen has previewed the new webcomic Bucko, with collaborator Jeff Parker. Check out my review of her two DAR! books for a look at her mad cartoon skillz...I'm so happy to see her back to work on a regular webcomic!

looking up

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This day-long photo collage of the sky is a work of art (h/t: Jason Kottke):

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As the photographer writes, "It took me about 12 hours to pull together and process a single image that included over 500 star trails, 35 shots of the Sun and 25 landscape pictures."

shame and awe

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This United States of Shame map

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has been countered with this United States of Awesome map:

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[slightly reformatted for ease of comparison]

The characteristics chosen yield some interesting combinations, such as infertile Vermonters who are otherwise healthy. One might be tempted to mock Utah's happy porn users or Mississippi's fat church-goers, but avoid picking on Pennsylvania's hunters--doing so might get your house burned down.

Ohio's nerdy library users, however, make that state sound positively enticing.

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Tomorrow, Tom. Too Much Crazy (Berkeley: Soft Skull Press, 2011)

Under the pseudonym Tom Tomorrow, cartoonist Dan Perkins has spent the last twenty years skewering various political foibles and fallacies in his strip This Modern World (website, Wikipedia). His previous collections (including 2008's The Future's So Bright, I Can't Bear to Look) have just been joined by his ninth book: Too Much Crazy. It covers the period from mid-2008 through mid-2010, with Obama's election serving as prelude to the, well, craziness that the Right has foisted upon us since. (The Left's craziness has largely been limited to wishful thinking that Obama is anything but a centrist, a belief that the author ridicules several times.)

In his introduction, Tom Tomorrow laments a prominent crazy component of today's media, "The constant unending refrain, the low keening wail that just seems to grow louder every day:"

Obama's a Marxist, a fascist, a Muslim; progressives have a century-long plan devised by Woodrow Wilson to overthrow capitalism itself, blah blah blah blah--if you're paying the least little bit of attention, you've heard it all out there. [...] There was a time when we might have been able to at least politely pretend that most of the people around us had some tenuous connection to sanity, but thanks to chat boards and comments sections and Tea Party tallies and those aging standbys, talk radio and Fox News, we have all been thoroughly disabused of that notion. Now we know all too well just how much crazy there is around us at every moment. (p. xxiii, Introduction: When the Levee Breaks)

Here are links to a few of my favorites from the book, beginning with a memento from the early 2009 "post-partisan" moment in "Wrong about Everything" (1/7/2009, p. 35):
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Glenn Beck's conspiracy theories take a hit in "Democrats Are Fascists" (4/15/2009, p. 48),
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along with double standards on political rhetoric in "Then and Now with Goofus & Gallant" (9/9/2009, p. 63),
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Tom Tomorrow examines anti-abortion self-righteousness in the "Rightwingoverse" (6/10/2009, p. 78)
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and his "All the Rage" is, sadly, as relevant as ever (4/6/2010, p. 93)
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Sparky the Penguin asks "WWSAD?" (4/26/2010, p. 96)
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and Obama is exposed as a "Far-Left Radical" (6/8/2010, p. 104)
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If this sampling intrigues you, please visit the cartoon's archives at This Modern World and Salon--then go out and buy some of his books. Independent newspapers don't support political cartoons like they used to, so it's up to readers to pick up the slack!

...and I'm not the only one:

(h/t: Comics Worth Reading)

This update to A Charlie Brown Christmas (h/t: PZ Myers at Pharyngula) made my day:

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After the decades-long relentless Christianization of practically every square inch of our culture, it's nice to see a little bit of truth breaking through here and there...bravo!

start buying stuff

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Cartoonist Tom Toles identifies the economic problems caused by extreme concentration of wealth (h/t: Ezra Klein):

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Thor trailer

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After that tease a few months ago, the trailer for Thor has finally been released:

The film opens on 6 May 2011.

Long Now Foundation has a great post on a replica of the Antikythera Mechanism--built from Legos: Now that's a Lego set that I would love to have...1500 pieces and 110 gears would be a lot of fun! update (12/11): See the website of creator Andrew Carol (h/t: Dave Giancaspro at GeekDad) for more photos, including this one: 20101211-antikythera.jpg

math doodles

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If you were--or still are--a compulsive doodler with a fondness for mathematical geekery, check out this "Snakes + Graphs" video from Vi Hart (h/t: Amanda Dobbins at New York magazine): There are several more at her website...great stuff!

very enlightening

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This lamp from Studiomeiboom (h/t: Bookshelf Porn, photo by Amy) is a fabulous idea:

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It's gorgeous, but the price of €105 (including postage from the Netherlands) makes it a bit too spendy for an impulse purchase. Maybe I'll get one for my dream library...someday...

Doonesbury at 40

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Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury (website, Wikipedia) turns forty today--not a longevity record, but a significant accomplishment nonetheless. This nearly-700-page retrospective hits bookstore shelves today,

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and another by scholar Brian Walker is due next week.

Is it possible to OD on satire?

This Fitzsimmons cartoon
(h/t: Creature at The Reaction) is wonderful:

20101017-corporatedonors.jpg
(David Fitzsimmons/Arizona Daily Star)

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