Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 Cincinnati Comics Expo

Last weekend was this year’s Cincinnati Comics Expo. For several reasons I could only attend one day this year, Sunday. As usual, my friends at Comic Book World had the biggest (and best) booth at the con.

The famous Comic Book World Booth
One thing I love about the Cincy con is that they have lots of comic book dealers. In this day of cons featuring media celebs, wrestlers and cosplay professionals, the Cincinnati Expo likes and features comic dealers of all stripes. Folks were there with quarter boxes (haven’t seen that for a while), dollar boxes and walls full of primo key books for thousands of dollars apiece. There was something for every budget. There were also dealers with comic-related art, posters, clothing, props and weapons.

A Cheesecake art booth. Nice art!
David Bradley

I first walked by the media celebrity tables. I really wanted to meet actor Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride. I read his book about that movie and it was a hoot. He was the con’s biggest media guest and they had been pushing his appearance for almost a year. He cancelled a week before the con. Not sure why, but if it wasn’t an emergency that was a jerky thing to do. I next looked for actor David Bradley, Filch from the Harry Potter movies. He just wrapped up the fourth and last season of The Strain and I loved his performance as the crusty old professor and monster killer Abraham Setrakian. Of course, he had cancelled too. I did meet up with character actor Jason Isaacs. I mentioned he creeped me out with his performance as a New England gangster in the cable show Brotherhood. I’ve spoken with several bad guy actors and movie villains now, and it amazes me how they justify the behavior of their characters. In response, he said, “Yeah, but he had morals and did the right
Jason Isaacs
thing sometimes.” I pointed out that he killed innocent people (and many deserving ones). Isaacs replied, “Sure, but he tried to do the right thing.” That’s interesting. In the show, Isaacs’ character Michael Caffee terrorized his girlfriend, murdered innocent people and threatened anyone he could to get his way. He really was an amoral scumbag who deserved to be removed from the planet for the good of humanity. But the actor who played him only saw the character’s redeeming features, as few as there were. I supposed actors are human and have to survive playing evil people, so they cling to anything good or not wicked about their character. That was an interesting conversation.

L to R: Matt, Ty Templeton, Ted
I next ran across my friends Matt and Ted, waiting for Ted’s sketch from comic artist Ty Templeton. He was drawing Jack Kirby creation Big Barda for Ted (shhhh—I think Ted as a bit of a fetish for Barda—not that I blame him). Matt showed me the Steve Canyon Templeton had drawn for him the day before (shhhhh—I think Matt has a bit of a fetish for Steve Canyon). Here’s the drawing, which I loved:

Steve Canyon by Ty Templeton
I didn’t go to any panels this year, but I did take a few cosplay photos:

Poison Ivy - Excellent costume

Not sure and a Disney Princess

Star Wars Character

Another family that cosplays together ... 

Star Wars pilot and a Sith Cheerleader. Really. 

Suction-cup tip Green Arrow and the Joker

The best Harley Quinn at the show

Emma as a female Joker

Black Cat & Kingpin

Movie Wonder Woman. I approve!
A working R2-D2
A fun con, as always. Hopefully not as many guests will cancel next year. Either way, it is not the con organizer’s fault—some things just can’t be helped. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Punisher TV Show: Latest Trailer

The new Punisher TV show trailer from Netflix gets the Humble Opinions 100% approval rating. Can't wait!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Evansville Museum Geek & Comicon

Last Saturday, August 26th, was the first annual Geek & Comicon hosted by the Evansville Museum in Indiana. Organized by Evansville librarian Karen Malone (with advice and help from my friend Ted Haycraft), this first show was well attended and had some excellent panels.
Early on, Ted asked Ye Author to be part of a panel called “The Ins and Outs of Comic Book Collecting." Since I have collected since before I could read and have more comics than any sane person should have, it was probably a good match. My friend Matt and I set out early Saturday morning for Evansville. Here are some highlights of the con.
Ted Haycraft on left
Here Ted warms up for the first panel of the day, “Attending Cons 101.” No one was sure how many folks would come, to the con or to the panel. Turns out a few folks wandered in and soon the Planetarium where most panels were held had a good crowd gathered.

Ted and Kyle Starks
Here Ted interviews comics creator Kyle Starks about his independent comics work, especially his work on the Rick & Morty comic. His graphic novel Kill Them All comes out later this year.

This gentleman did a wonderful job on a panel entitled “Captain America as a Propaganda Tool During World War II.” He adapted his Master’s Thesis into an hour-long talk filled with little-known facts about Cap and comic book WWII propaganda. It was incredibly interesting. He really got into it, with his helmet and shield.

Ins and Outs of Collecting Comics panel
Ye Author (middle) gets a word in
Above are a few shots from my panel on collecting comics. I had two knowledgeable comic book dealers on either side of me, so it was tough to get a word in edgewise. I did manage to mention my life-long love of telling stories with words and pictures, and how modern comics are too expensive. But whatcha gonna do?

Ted's Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
The last panel of the day was a Jack Kirby tribute from Ted “The Man” Haycraft himself. Although it was a challenge to squeeze even an overview of King Kirby into 60 minutes, Ted did a brilliant job, enthusiastically expounding on the man and his works. He opened many young eyes up to Kirby’s legacy—I hope those kids will seek out his stories and enjoy them half as much as we do.

With all modern comic conventions, cosplayers are along for the ride. Here are a few from the show.

After the show, a starving Matt and I accompanied the Evansville comics crew to a well-deserved feast. A fine group of men:

All in all a great way to spend the day. I look forward to an even bigger show next year!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Happy 100th Jack "King" Kirby

Today we recognize and salute the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby, born as Jacob Kurtzberg. Jack was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York 100 years ago today.

Jack Kirby was one of the most powerful, creative and prolific artists who ever lived. Everything he did resonated with mad ideas and energy. He didn’t live to see himself become the world-renowned superstar he is today, but I think he’d be happy knowing that his creations will live forever. Thanks for everything, Jack. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fans Strike Back against SJW Marvel

It’s sad to think what (SJW) Marvel Comics has become. Instead of telling adventure stories about heroes and villains and good vs. evil, SJW Marvel has chosen to publish comics about social issues, alternative lifestyles and how racist/intolerant/xenophobic, etc. America is. Of course their traditional audience has fled in droves, decimating their sales and crashing the company’s comic publishing division. What is Marvel’s response? More SJW characters. Fewer classic characters. No stories about heroes fighting villains (unless those villains are Christians, conservatives or businessmen—those evils exist at Marvel to be killed or beaten vociferously).

Diversity & Comics is one of the many YouTube Channels run by an unhappy fan who, like me, detests this new SJW Marvel. The host is a talented artist and insightful commentator with excellent judgment and a refreshing sense of humor. He is fighting for Marvel to bring back intelligent stories with no agenda and no ax to grind. That’s all we ask!

One of the running jokes on Diversity is about Marvel’s new Iron Man, RiRi Williams. For those who haven’t heard, RiRi is a teenaged black girl who stole materials from MIT to make her own version of the Iron Man armor. She is immediately feted by the world for being a savior and genius, the most heroic heroine who ever lived, despite having no real accomplishments except theft and good technical knowledge. RiRi is an obnoxious, clueless character who actually asks other people to denounce her so she can claim racism. While SJW Marvel lifts her up as a heroine, Diversity has a running gag that she is really meant to be a super-villain. To this end, Diversity’s host has commissioned a satirical comic story about RiRi as villain. It’s only ten pages and is hilarious. 

Here is the video where Diversity explains the project: 

And here is the actual comic, which anyone can read free of charge:

Diversity has other such stories planned tweaking different books and characters at SJW Marvel. Fans have been fed up for years that our characters are killed or replaced and our beliefs are mocked by a company we used to love. It’s about time someone struck back. And the way they do it is delicious. This isn’t just about mocking SJW Marvel. It’s about returning sanity and the characters we love to the company. Check it out. Again, this and all subsequent stories will be free to readers.

Rating: ***** out of 5

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Movies: Spider-Man: Homecoming (or The Pathetic Spider-Boy) *SPOILERS*

There are three major rules to making a good superhero movie: 1. Trust your source material. 2. Trust your source material. 3. See Rules 1 & 2. I know many people (and many friends of mine) liked it, but to me Spider-Man: Homecoming was mostly a drastic, politically correct misfire.

Let start with a few things I liked. Tom Holland is pretty good as Spider-Man. He’s a little young, but can probably play Spider-Man for the next 20 years if he desires. Michael Keaton was enjoyable as the Vulture, a bad guy who isn’t truly evil. He believably thinks he’s doing the right thing for his family after being screwed over by a cold, uncaring system. The CGI and FX were great, as always.

The bad: nearly everything else. Again, has ANYONE connected with this movie read a Spider-Man comic? Unfortunately, probably not, unless you count those awful Ultimate stories. I don’t, those weren’t real comics. The supporting cast is irritating. Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) just exists to shout things the movie is already telling us visually. “OH MY GOD! You can walk on ceilings!” “OH MY GOD! You can shoot webbing!” “OH MY GOD ... “ You get the message. Ned, simmer down. He’s Spider-Man. We get it. For some reason, bully Flash Thompson is now an angry Indian boy. That is some inexplicable PC casting. Laura Harrier as Liz does well as Peter’s crush, who actually likes him back. Of course she is shuffled out for the super-annoying Michelle (Zendaya, whoever that is) who has no earthly reason to be in this movie, other than she is a Disney Channel star and they own Marvel. Her character is obnoxious and toxic. The only redeeming feature is that she wasn’t playing Mary Jane (Peter’s girlfriend from the comics and movies) or his love interest. Imagine my bubble bursting when she announces at the end of the movie that her friends call her “MJ.” No. MJ is Mary Jane Watson, not you. This character could ruin the entire franchise. Neither the actress or the character worked on any level. 

The largest problem with the film is that the Pathetic Spider-Boy (title stolen from Diversity & Comics’ review of the film, check it out here) is a failure. In the comics, Peter Parker sure has his share of bad luck, but he mostly manages to save the day and defeat the bad guys. This Peter is a total knob. He manages to accidently destroy an ocean liner, then can’t keep it from collapsing without the help of another hero. In the end, he is soundly beaten by the Vulture, and would have been killed if the Vulture’s armor hadn’t self-destructed. He’s a screw-up and loser. He and his friends are supposed to be around 15 years old, but they act as if they are 10 or 11. OH MY GOD! YOU CAN STICK TO WALLS!   

The great Robert Downey Jr. with Tom Holland
Another problem is that Spider-Man’s uniqueness and intelligence are downplayed if not outright eliminated. In the comics, Peter Parker invents his web-shooters and web-fluid, sews his own costume and figures out the hero thing mostly himself. Being indirectly responsible for the death of his beloved Uncle Ben has put a weight on his shoulders--a weight that helps make him a true hero (as shown beautifully in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films). In Homecoming, Ben Parker isn’t even mentioned. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) invents the web-shooters, gives Peter a hi-tech costume and basically invents Spider-Man. What does Peter do, except lose at every major task assigned him? He screws up so badly that Stark takes away his costume and gadgets in the middle of the movie, and HE DOESN’T GET THEM BACK! Spider-Man goes through the last half of the movie in a sweatshirt and sweatpants. That was infuriating. I paid $11 to see Spider-Man, not Sweatshirt Boy. Who wants to see that? This is true numbskull writing and directing.

Tomei, not Aunt May
Finally, I’m not sure what to make of Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. Every Aunt May in comics and the movies has been an elderly woman. Tomei is a very well kept 52 and looks much younger. Tony Stark flirts with her regularly. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but she’s not Aunt May. Read a comic, producers!

Should every superhero movie be exactly like the comics in every way? No. I realize that certain changes sometimes have to be made for different mediums. However, why make a movie with Spider-Man as your source material, then ignore everything that made that character great? I’d understand if this was 1975 and the film was made by a studio that looked at Marvel like a cockroach. However, Marvel Studios was partially responsible (with Sony) for this movie! What hope do we have of anything being adapted well when the company that owns the character can’t get inspiration from their own source material?

The Spider-Man franchise has nowhere to go but up. I hope they make it there. This movie is not recommended.

Rating: ** stars out of 5

Monday, July 3, 2017

TV Rampage! Netflix Originals: Gypsy, GLOW and Small Crimes

TV Rampage!

Let’s look at some recent Netflix originals, shall we?

What could be better than a psychosexual romp with such a great cast? Watching paint dry, actually. Naomi Watts, a fine actress, plays a therapist who is bored with her perfect life and loving husband (Billy Crudup), and decides to look up exciting people in her patient’s lives. I made it through three episodes of ten before slamming the door on this one. Firstly, her life is actually perfect. She is rich, beautiful, has a fulfilling job. Any material object she desires is at her fingertips. Her seven-year old daughter is going to be gay or transgender (telegraphed so obviously it devolves into camp—is being a boy REALLY the only thing a seven-year old would think about?), but other than that her life is trouble and stress free. Of course she’s bored, she has everything! The character violates all kinds of ethics has no moral compass or conscience. There is very little story here, this is someone’s vanity project with themselves as the audience.

From its laughable PG-rated sex scenes to the glacial pace, Gypsy is TV for rich housewives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It’s boring with an unlikable, morally challenged main character. I’d rather watch a slide show of my great uncle’s vacation to Bronson, Missouri.

Rating: ** stars out of 5

GLOW is a ½-hour comedy based on the great ‘70s organization, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The point-of-view character is Ruth Wilde, played by Alison Brie (Mad Men). Ruth is a down on her luck actress, tired of playing background characters with stunning lines such as, “Your wife is on line 1.”

Reluctantly, Ruth joins the fledgling wrestling group Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, intended to be a syndicated wrestling show. These first ten episodes tell the story of the formation of the league and making the pilot of the syndicated show.

This first season is incredibly well written and humorous. The characters, relationships and situations are a riot and constantly urged viewers to think “I wonder if this really happened?” One of the most interesting aspects of the show is how each lady finds her wrestling persona. From the offensive black woman known as “Welfare Queen” (“I eat like royalty on food stamps ... paid for by the American taxpayer!”) to the Party Girl and Wolf Girl, the organization capitalizes on the zeitgeist of 1970s America. Ruth’s struggle to find her wrestling alter ego is challenging, but when she finally discovers it, the character is perfect for Ruth, the actress playing her and the show.

I can’t wholly recommend the show because of Ruth’s character. She’s hideous. She sleeps with her best friend’s husband in the pilot (which sets up a season-long dramatic arc), and makes another choice midway through the season which portrays her as a horrible person, one whom I don’t want to support or watch. It’s not so much what she does, but how cavalierly she does it. There’s no regret or recrimination, her career and selfishness easily comes before anything else. This stops her from being a sympathetic or likable character.

While I can’t recommend the series, it was funny and entertaining, except for Ruth’s character.

Rating: ** out of 5 stars

Small Crimes
I enjoy crime movies, but there has to be more to the story than a sociopathic thug beyond redemption. Unfortunately that’s all there is to this Netflix misfire. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) plays Joe Denton, a cop sentenced to prison for attempted murder. He is released on parole and returns to his community, ostensibly to redeem himself. He doesn’t. He immediately gets involved with the bad people who put him there and continues his criminal career. At first he avoids causing any harm, more out of a sense of not wanting to go back to prison than any thoughts of humanity or doing the right thing. But eventually his actions damage his new nurse girlfriend (the great Molly Parker) and his supportive parents.

Denton is a one-man wrecking crew, steamrolling through the city and its inhabitants to get what he wants. He is evil and beyond redemption. The only thing that humanizes him is his wish to reconnect with his two daughters, a desire the courts and his parents intelligently deny him. At the end of 90 minutes, Small Crimes has added nothing to the world; no lessons, no hope, no insights into the human condition (other than scorpions sting people, big news), and no entertainment value. Avoid this one. Again, reprehensible characters are fine—but they have to be three-dimensional. Joe Denton is not, despite a fine performance by Coster-Waldau.

Rating: ** out of 5 stars

It’s almost comforting to know Netflix isn’t perfect. With its excellent track record of continuing cancelled series (Longmire) and high-quality original content (Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black) they seemed bulletproof for a while. But the more original material they create, the more mistakes they will make. Welcome to real life, Netflix! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Comics Capsule Reviews

Harrow County #24: Writer Cullen Bunn (of The Sixth Gun fame, a book I loved) and artist Tyler Crook continue to terrify and amaze with tales of little Emmy and her attempt to protect Harrow County from supernatural harm. Taking place in the 1930s, it was revealed in the series that Emmy comes from supernatural origins herself, which causes some folks in the town to not trust her much.

In this issue, Emmy’s best friend Bernice turns out to be one of those mistrusting folks. Bernice doesn’t have faith that Emmy will side with the humans against her non-human friends, commonly called “haints.” Emmy’s latest haint friends look like giants rabbits with razor sharp teeth, and they surround her in the woods and cast dark glances at anyone who gets too close to Emmy. Bernice, learning some craft from a good witch in the woods, takes it upon herself to fight the haints surrounding Emmy and other dark denizens of the woods. She comes in direct conflict with Emmy as Emmy steps in to protect them. Emmy thinks all beings can learn to live together, Bernice isn’t taking any chances. After battling it out for a while, a surprising being made of fire appears to tell the girls to stop their foolishness. They listen, but it looks like their relationship will be changed forever. They should be looking to the other side of the woods, where a nefarious group is resurrecting the one monster that can go toe to toe with Emmy.

Another treat in Harrow County is the folksy, homespun local ghost stories people relate in the letters pages in the back of the book. I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do love a good ghost story, and a few of those have set goose bumps to rising. An excellent comic.

Rating: **** stars out of 5

Normandy Gold #1: I am a loyal aficionado of Hard Case Crime’s prose novels. They have recently begun expanding into comics and the results, like their books, are fun, noirish, gritty crime thrillers.

Normandy Gold is definitely all those things. Normandy herself is the sheriff of a rural Northeastern town. Her kid sister Lila moved to Washington D.C. some years ago to take her chances within the corridors of power. Lila got involved with the wrong people, and when she is brutally murdered, Normandy vows to move heaven and earth to find the culprits. She seeks assistance from the Washington police, but finds them less than helpful. She decides to go undercover to find out what happened and who is responsible. Deep undercover.

This book is gritty, violent and not for children. However, it contains a juicy mystery and an extremely driven protagonist. Recommended.

Rating: **** stars out of 5

Kill the Minotaur #1: Ever since one of my college history professors related that archeologists found an actual maze under the ancient palace in Crete, my imagination has been obsessed with the Minotaur myth. Was there really a half-man half-bull in that maze who devoured the young and innocent tribute sent by Athens? Why would Athens agree to such a thing? What happened to those young people who were forced to leave their home and possibly be fed to a hell-beast? Kill the Minotaur attempts to creatively answer some of those questions.

The time is circa 1500 B.C. King Minos of Crete has no other choice but to admit his son the Minotaur, trapped in his maze, requires stronger sacrifices than the cattle and livestock he is being offered. He decides to do something about it.

Cut to eight years later. After waging a successful war against Athens, Minos has agreed not to destroy the city for the annual price of seven young men and seven young women. Every year, soldiers from Crete sail into Athens with a warship, walk though the city and take whomever they wish.

This is galling to Athenian prince Theseus, who finds Cretan arrogance and kidnapping too much to bear. When the soldiers arrive this year, it takes Theseus’s brother and a retinue of warriors to stop him from interfering. In the palace later that night, Theseus receives a surprise offer from Cretan Master of the Maze, Daedalus. Thinking he may have a chance to stop the tribute and see what is actually happening to those taken, Theseus accepts Daedalus’s offer and secretly returns to Crete as an anonymous tribute. His plan falls apart the instant he departs the tribute ship.

Writers Chris Pasetto and Christian Cantamessa set the stage well, with a good handle on the ancient world, a wonderful plot and strong characters. Artist Lukas Ketner captures the visuals with verve and panache, he’s an outstanding artist. The only nit-pick I have with the script is the use of the “f” word. I’m sure the ancient world had some analog, but this anachronism takes readers out of the story wondering, “Wow, did they have the f-word back then?” They didn’t, so I vote for using something else. It does give flavor to character dialog. I just like historical accuracy when possible. Still, this is a fantasy story, so not the end of the world.  

Kill the Minotaur is tremendously enjoyable and looks to be a roller coaster ride through ancient Greece. I’m looking forward to issue #2.

Rating: ****½ stars out of 5

Bane Conquest #2: I don’t buy many superhero comics anymore and miss them terribly. Marvel is lost to SJW madness, but DC occasionally emerges from the depths with an actual coherent comic book. Such is the case with Bane Conquest, for two reasons: Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan. Dixon, an adventure writer and expert comic book scribe, makes writing a great comic story seem effortless. Here he catches up with Bane, one of Batman’s greatest villains (created of course, by Dixon and Nolan).

In this 12-issue miniseries, Bane has lost none of his belligerence or overhoned sense of superiority. In issue #2, he has been captured and imprisoned by his enemy Damocles. It turns out his cellmate is another former enemy and someone well known to readers. Together they conspire to escape and discover Damocles’ plan.

There is nothing like watching two masters at work. This comic performs on every level, featuring flashbacks examining Bane’s childhood in prison (through no fault of his own) and how he became the man he is today. The story ends on a humorous note and promises more action and revelations as the series progresses. It’s nice to be reading something in a superhero universe for a change!

Rating: ****½ stars out of 5

Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman #4: This is a terrible comic. Of course I was in love with Lynda Carter and Lindsay Wagner in the ‘70s, who wasn’t? Perhaps no comic could hold such awesomeness between its covers and a good story featuring these two blockbuster ladies is just impossible. Or, it’s possible that Andy Mangels, despite his obvious love for the material, is not an interesting writer. It could be artist Judit Tondora, who captures likenesses fairly well, but needs major work on interesting layouts and coherent storytelling. The lukewarm plot includes Fembots and a typical villain ranting about world domination. The cliffhanger includes a dumb, unlikely coincidence that gets Wonder Woman hurt in the most contrived way possible. This story is forced, not organic. It certainly doesn’t flow the way a story with two of the ‘70s greatest heroines should. Lackluster in every way. This comic is not worth $4.00.

**½ stars out of 5

Weird Love #18: I haven’t taken a look at this title for a while, but don’t take that as a perceived lack in quality. If anything, Yoe, Gussoni and crew pick better and more insane stories every issue. Let’s examine a few gems reprinted from comics’ Golden Age this issue:

- “So This is Love!” (from Dear Lonely Heart #1, 1951): Yes, that cover actually happens! Katy is a bit high strung. She’s a hot, four-eyed nerd running her own dress shop. When a brigand arrives at close of business with a gun, she wakes up gagged and tied to a chair! Luckily, officer Patrick Murphy (wonder what his ethnic background is? A Sikh from India possibly?) is walking by and notices her front door forced open. He unties her and the romance begins. Unfortuately, Pat proves to be a toxic alpha male. On their date, he tells Katy to lose the glasses and her hat looks stupid. No one puts Katy in a corner! Reluctantly, she agrees to another date, where the Patster tells her to leave her hair down, not wear it up like a ... hrumpf ... washer woman! That’s enough for Katy! Later, when Pat brings the even hotter Peggy around, they accidently end up sharing a sundae, where Katy tells Peggy just what kind of ***hole she’s dating. If only Peggy wasn’t Pat’s sister, whom he brought around to meet Katy! D’oh! So naturally, when Pat proposes, Katy immediately accepts! Writers—what’s wrong with them?

- “Swinger” (from Teenage Love #43, 1965): Dory likes Gil, but he’s such a square! Gil doesn’t go in for all that dancing and devil music, like Dory’s other friends. When a bored Dory attends her friend’s dance party, she is taken with the Elvis-like Chuck. Chuck rides a motorcycle and says “baby” a lot. When Chuck takes her for a private ride on his bike and tries to get fresh, Dory is moderately uncomfortable! When she asks Chuck to return her to the party, he states stoically: “Sure Chickie! I don’t want to ruffle your feathers!” A true orator is our Charles! When Dory returns home and puts on her Chairman Mao pajamas, she decides a life of fun and whimsy is not for her. She chooses Gil, and a lifetime of bland curtains, boredom and the missionary position. As it should be!

- “My Secret Betrayed Me” (from True Life Stories #9, 1952): Wow, here’s one that is truly twisted. Or twisted-er. Ann lives in jealousy of her kid sister Jessica, a world famous movie star. Growing up, Jessica got the nice dresses. Jessica got the dance lessons. Jessica got the attention from daddy (and the actual talent). When she is mistaken for her famous sister, Ann decides that with the right makeup and hairstyle, she can get some of the attention and acceptance she could never get as herself. Soon she is in full masquerade mode as “Jessica,” getting gifts, limo rides and male interest while the real Jessica is out of the country on a film shoot. When she discovers how easy it is, she goes to the big city and starts to live it up, sticking Jessica with the bills! A perfect plan, until she meets Roland Storm, a square-jawed actor who is rumored to be romantically involved with Jessica. None the wiser, Roland and Ann start dating and fall in love. Or, Ann thinks so, until a drunken Roland demands some of her big movie star salary. When Ann comes clean as an imposter, Roland smacks her hard across the face! The drunken cad! That hit smacked Ann back to reality, as she immediately abandons the Jessica disguise and returns to being Ann. She’s perfectly happy ... until she reads in the newspaper (Millennials, please Google “newspaper”) that the real Jessica has married Roland! So ... everybody’s really happy now? And ... violence is good? I don’t know!

- My First Date” (from Doctor Tom Brent, Young Intern #1, 1963): Blonde Barbie can’t wait for her first date! It’s a blind date to the Spring Formal, with Jud Mills—you know, that kid from Clarksville. All week, Barbie dreams of her Prince Charming, Jud. In her mind, he’s 6’2”, speaks seven languages and was just picked as this month’s Playgirl centerfold. Imagine her distress on the night of the dance when Jud shows up with flowers and—he’s kind of short! And has a pimple! Ahhhhhh! Why is fate so cruel! WHY! In two more panels, he says something nice and everything is all right. Teenagers, ladies and gentlemen! In the ‘70s, Barbie left Jud for Mark Spitz.

As usual, Weird Love is the world's finest source of twisted, ghoulish romance. Never stop being weird!

Rating: ***** stars out of 5