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Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Return of the Knave
Drink It Black
Thursday, 22 July 2004
Nag's Head
Here's a better history of the very first comics. And they're British, people.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:54 PM NZT
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Wednesday, 21 July 2004
Shirtfront
Comics themselves began in the nineteenth century - though very near the close - with two largely forgotten characters from opposite sides of the pond.

The Yellow Kid was a mischievous urchin who wore a yellow gown (yes, a real kid rather than some gunslinger) with different wording on it. The message and the image were conflated in a way not seen since. Though those Will Eisner splash pages where he incorporates the name of the strip "The Spirit" is in that direction.

The other was Ally Sloper, a crafty curmudgeon.

Two characters across the age spectrum and, given their outsider status, possessing the common touch that made this new artform for everyone.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:56 PM NZT
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Monday, 19 July 2004
Firewater
Naturally the Americans would find a way to mythologise the nineteenth century as well, with a western comic book appearing in 1937. Their gunfighters often walked the line between hero and outlaw in, I suppose, a way that our bushrangers - were they given the same pictorial treatment - could not.

Native Americans had mainly support roles - as they did in other media - and even the heroes who wore Indian garb were often white men in disguise. And the first black western character made his debut in Gunhawks courtesy of Stan Lee.

Posted by berko_wills at 12:36 AM NZT
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Tuesday, 6 July 2004
Rationing
So the war did have an effect. Overtly patriotic superheroes* gave the troops an idealised version of themselves; not once but many times. The Shield and all who followed were literally wrapped in the flag.

[*this hyperlink points to fanboy fervour. There are mistakes in fact and grammar e.g. Doc Samson didn't have a pre-Hulk series career as an action pulp hero, he means Doc Savage. But you can't knock the enthusiasm]

But where were the grunts? (Sad Sack and Beetle Bailey came after the war so serving personnel were spared the humour of seeing the Sarge kick a guy in the heinie and send him to clean the latrines. That treat was left to future frontlines.)

Here they are, here they all are.

But, to be honest, I was looking for this link: a perspective for Retired Officers magazine.





Posted by berko_wills at 1:27 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 12 July 2004 10:45 PM NZT
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Sunday, 4 July 2004
Bubbles
One of the biggest criticisms levelled at comics - aside from their repetitive, recycled nature - is the fact that they are dominated by one genre or type: superheroes.

I could get cute and claim that Hawkman and Hawkgirl encompass science fiction,romance, supernatural, detective and fantasy right there. They proved that the earliest superheroes - created in wartime - were not exclusively preoccupied with the ideological battle between Allies and Axis (though spy and war comics flourished, as did superheroes in the Theatre of War).

In ensuing posts I will explore the histories of non-superhero comics.

Posted by berko_wills at 3:02 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 4 July 2004 5:23 AM NZT
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Tuesday, 22 June 2004
On The Turps
Mood:  caffeinated
Topic: Return of the Knave
Look, no sooner had I posted my farewell than Lycos came up with all these cool buttons and features so what I'm going to do is revivify this here blog but - since it's not getting out to many people or getting very much feedback at all - I'm making it comics themed only.

So there'll still be a new blog to rave on about other matters (and, no, not mainstream politics ad infinitum - more than a cursory glance back should demonstrate that my interests and concerns are pretty wide)

Posted by berko_wills at 4:04 PM NZT
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Sunday, 13 June 2004
Close in time
As intimated I'm taking a cab home, leaning on the designated driver, or attempting to walk and maybe catch a bus if there's one still running

I've enjoyed the act of intertextualising more than I would have taken to cut and paste or roneo

And the revolving hyperlink has hit upon something for me. I won't disclose the methodology; suffice it to say that a journey that began with cigar torches, moved through Russian windows and onto South African rooftops. There were Wiggles wallmounts and Pat Rafter, eventually we had to reach Burke's Backyard (current week). I haven't decided whether I'll keep the DIB revolving hyperlink or move the concept to the new weblog.

Incidentally I will be back to give you the new link. I like what I've been able to do with Tripod but I want anyone who does want to light on my musings or spontaneous hyperlinquosity to be able to do so. And enough people have said they had trouble accessing the site (magnify this by the number who don't tell you or who have no report and thus no rapport) to make me want to try again. Sure not many people read blogs but that's a choice then. No we don't want a nostalgic reminiscence of Idi Amin Adada so we click out and before you know it we're off to see how Jim Bacon's getting on.

Bye, thanks for sharing a few rounds.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:38 AM NZT
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Tuesday, 8 June 2004
Draft
Had I posted the blog entry that's been floating in my head this past week and a bit, it would have seemed so prescient - I was mulling over the difference between the junior Bush and the senior Reagan.

Ronald Reagan had dodgy credentials for such a powerful position, he was simple - dangerously so at times, he was inappropriate in his humour, had his own scandal/illegal conduct, a fair share of disastrous policies and a string of gaffes.

Libya and Cuba's response to his recent passing are a reminder of the weight of opposition to Reagan in the eighties.
I guess, though, that he had redeeming features - he could deliver stirring speeches that didn't just endlessly rehash the same references to enemies and 'war on terror' and he was personable. When I read that Gorbachev kept meetings purposely short to avoid Ronnie's jibes about the Soviet economy, I thought that was hilarious. His sense of mischief is a long measure from Bush's mocking of a death row inmate. Reagan's humour was undiplomatic, Bush's is just fucked. And he wasn't all gaffes and awkward posturing like Dubya - he could deliver some genuinely funny lines.

Probably Dr Helen Caldicott[October 12 2002 entry but this blog looks like a velvet goldmine]'s appraisal was fairest (this was some months ago). She, like so many, found him good company but opined that he would be better placed as a kindly old chicken farmer than ruler of the Free World.

I've exhausted my Bush references. You can pull negative references to Bush at random he's so bad. I'm sure you can name two million people more worthy of my ongoing attention. It's just that none of them are leader of the free world. And if he stays in much longer, that phrase will become meaningless anyway.

Posted by berko_wills at 6:32 PM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 13 June 2004 3:22 AM NZT
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Thursday, 3 June 2004
Boos
I'm not suggesting there's no place for the boo, the jeer, the catcall. Polite applause at appaling displays do no one any favours. But the distinction I would make is this: if a speaker were, say, accusing Natasha Stott Despoja of grandstanding then I would hear them out since that is a real possibility. If they got insulting about it and said she was a 'media tart' I might get offended. The line is crossed when you start colouring your terminology.

Additionally, if the claims can't be substantiated, or it will take a while to unravel the discourse that justifies your attack, then a modicum of restlessness in the audience is permissible. In this case, it could occur if Doctorow had opened his speech by stating that the Bush administration 'allowed 9/11 to happen'. His argument here might be that, while such a fiendish plan naturally took the rest of the world by surprise, it can't be said to have done so in the case of parties who were given specific and repeated information about the intended action beforehand. True enough as it stands but difficult to relay in a short acceptance speech. Better to document this in a report where all the necessary links, quotes and references can be made.

But stating that Bush started the Iraqi "war" on a false premise is unassailably true so it behooves anyone with a scintilla of manners and respect for natural justice to hear the man out. Not a point that any of the rabid Bush supporters are even capable of comprehending.

I also don't buy the accusation that it was 'inappropriate' to make a political speech at such an occasion. Doctorow tied it to the points he was making and, as a guest speaker, he must have some lieuway to choose his topic. There could hardly be a topic more pressing to deliver to the youth of America when many of their number are being killed overseas and they are under threat of being enlisted themselves. It is more of an abrogation of responsibility to do as the mainstream press is doing and going soft on the Bush position.

II

Keep your boos locked away for such things as:
1) the lead singer of Brian Jonestown Massacre behaving like a wanker (apparently he does this sort of thing often)
2) reality shows that set guys up with a 'stunning chick who turns out to be a bloke' or any other combination of humiliation and degradation that's out there.
3) cynical 'by numbers' art such as songs that repeat 'baby', 'never gonna give you up' et al and cop shows and medical dramas
4) transparent lies and distortion
5) idiots who scratch graffitti on the train windows
6) people who take littering that one step further by smashing glass on the footpath thus creating the possibility that an animal or barefoot child will cut themselves

The list could go on forever and never reach EL Doctorow but would probably include Bush apologists who try to shout down the facts. I'm pretty sure of it.

Posted by berko_wills at 4:11 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 4 June 2004 4:31 PM NZT
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Monday, 31 May 2004
Cheers
Is anyone who was previously noncommittal, shocked at seeing a front page photo of a lifeless hooded prisoner - not one of our boys fallen victim to religious terrorists but a victim of 'our boys' instead? When did we so comprehensively become the bad guy?!
Normally I try to skirt the news, not out of a sense of ennui or lack of interest, but just because you don't need to come to a blog to get this stuff - it's beamed at you as you eat your cornflakes and again when you settle down to fish fingers, peas and potatoes [insert own culinary preference here]

But it becomes urgent when events move from covert attempts to put itching powder in Castro's beard to flagrant acts of war crime activity. Terrible acts, what's more, arising from an illegal invasion, widely opposed. Left right left right and swing from side to side but never fully recognize that the superpower you looked on to deliver you from evil is dealing plenty of its own on its rapid drift away from what we would commonly identify as democracy.

Mainstream news stories tell us of E.L. Doctorow being booed in a college graduation speech because he mentions all the Bush lies and inconsistencies, straightforward and unembellished.
Boorish college students, however, can't compete with this school principal from New Mexico, a disgrace to his position and an enemy of free speech everywhere.

In their rush to innure their leader from criticism, haven't these schmucks forgotten that, if America stands for anything, it is freedom and independance. What GWB is doing to advance the cause is not clear since his tools are those of every oppressive usurper throughout history. He may not have Hitler's gift for oratory but he has his own 'bombing of the Reichstag' as a lynchpin for a rise in untrammeled power and lack of accountability; playing all the while on a misplaced patriotism. He may not have Stalin's goons to frighten the populace into obesience by taking their possessions and forcing them to cheer long and loud at his words but he has oafish thugs aplenty to try and shut detractors down. The troops may not be committing hara kiri but their commander-in-chief shows spectacular insensitivity when he laughs off his reason for sending them to their death.

Possibly the President of the United States of America will always be a moneyed creep with secret connections and a desire to use economic and military might to boss the rest of the world. But the incumbent is highly dangerous nonetheless.

Posted by berko_wills at 1:46 AM NZT
Updated: Monday, 31 May 2004 3:34 PM NZT
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