Posts from 18th March 2004

Mar 04

When Titans Clash: Kirby vs Tezuka

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 657 views

When Titans Clash: Kirby vs Tezuka

Jack Kirby is known as the King among fans of American comics, and it’s fair enough. He was there at the start of superheroes (creating Captain America), he created the first romance comics, the first mystical horror comics, he created virtually the whole Marvel Universe, he was in the frontline of the independent boom of the early ’80s, and he produced many of the greatest American comic books ever.

But if you’re a fan of Japanese comics, there is another strong candidate for the throne. Osamu Tezuka produced over 150,000 pages of comics in 40 years – I’d guess that’s about three times as much as in Kirby’s longer career, though I’m unsure how much of Tezuka’s work was done by assistants. He also produced vast amounts of animation, including Japan’s first cartoon series, exported to the West as Astro Boy, a few prose books, and was seen as enough of a major cultural treasure to have addressed the UN.

In quality, I think they are closely comparable. The Astro Boy strips of the ’50s are brilliant stories, full of wit, humanity and energy. What I’ve read of his series of Phoenix tales is even better, among the most powerful and moving comics ever. I really think this is in the same league as Kirby’s greatest work, say the FF and the Fourth World titles. But on the one hand I’ve read maybe ten times as much Kirby as Tezuka, and as proportions of their careers that’s a thirtyfold difference. Is there anyone out there with a really extensive knowledge of both of these creative giants who can better compare them?

Wrestlemania 20

TMFDPost a comment • 415 views

Wrestlemania 20

This year’s mega-event from World Wrestling Entertainment had the tagline “Where it all begins…again”, of which I can make no sense, but there were hints towards one interesting development. Larger men, brawlers and power wrestlers, have been a very big part of the WWE and WWF’s success over the years – Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Brock Lesnar, even Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock were biggish and more fighters than technicians. This Wrestlemania may have suggested a change in that.

The WWE is split into two semi-autonomous brands these days, Raw and Smackdown. The latter’s title match pitted Eddie Guerrero (16 stone) against Kurt Angle (17 stone, and the US’s first olympic wrestling heavyweight (I think it was that division anyway) gold medallist). Guerrero won, from a combination of skill and cunning. Raw‘s match was a triple threat between Triple H (nearly 19 stone, but known more for skill and intelligence than brawling), Shawn Michaels (16 stone) and Chris Benoit (also 16 stone). Benoit, considered by many to be the most skilled heavyweight wrestler in the world, won the title. Guerrero became champ for the first time in his career a month or so ago, Benoit holds a world title now for the first time in his 18 year career.

So two men pretty much on the dividing line between heavyweights and cruiserweights are the top two figures in wrestling right now. Such erstwhile megastars as Goldberg (20 stone, all about explosive power) and Brock Lesnar fought out a dull match down the card to the crowd’s derision. The Big Show (7 feet tall and 38 stone!) lost his US title to a man less than half his weight. This may be a lot of speculation on flimsy grounds, but are we seeing a return to greater skills, and away from lumbering giants? Frankly I don’t know, and I wouldn’t wish to lose the Big Show or Kane (6’11, 23 stone) – but I am glad to see some real skills in the big matches.

Not to rob Mr Sinker of propriatorial ownership on stories about If…

Do You SeePost a comment • 250 views

Not to rob Mr Sinker of propriatorial ownership on stories about If… (What will happen to the world if he claims copyright on this hypotheticval opener), a stumbled across article on Lindsay Anderson’s lost film about Wham! in China. Bizarre stuff… (ie I hope it is actually a hoax).

Lack of updates from me has been due to awful computer crisis

Do You SeePost a comment • 240 views

This has relegated me to blogging on something straight out of the seventies, with a keyboard not dissimilar to the early Tandy micro-computers. This of course is thoroughly apt for a short piece about Starsky & Hutch. Not just because my computer is an antique like the old television series. But like the film, it means I can do a short review of the film without ever really talking about the film*, much like the film makes nothing but the most superficial attempts to replicate the TV series.

Question: What would you rather see. A lovingly painstaking remake of a surprisingly successful because it was really rather mediocre cop show. Or a Ben Stiller/Owen Wilson buddy movie? The answer from all but the Starsky & Hutch Fan Club would be the latter. (If you want the former however, just go see S.W.A.T.) What the film of Starsky & Hutch gives us is a sitcom, the situation being that Stiller and Wilson are mismatched cops. Even the Marx Brothers, even Laurel and Hardy needed a situation. Stiller & Wilson, the nearest thing to a bona-fide movie double act we have in Hollywood at the moment, are good enough not to need much of a situation. Which is just as well, because what I could tell you about Starsky & Hutch could be written on a Matchbox (car of the Gran Torino – and I didn’t even know the name of the car til last weekend).

What results is set piece after set piece, stuck together by some impeccable banter between the leads. Actually from a comedy point of view the film should be an embarrassment of riches, with a cameo from Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn on tap as well as Snoop Dogg’s iconically obvious Huggy Bear. What you get instead is a few decent jokes buoyed up by goodwill and bonhomie. More than enough to give you a good time. Wilson and Stiller can do this stuff in their sleep, and it is just as well that they occasionally do. But don’t tell me it has anything much to do with the original. The whole point of Starsky & Hutch was its very generic nature. You can hang a comedy on that, because you have to hang it on something.

*I have realized of course that this analogy is a more than superficial commentary and hence destroys its own perspicacity in a fit of logic. Good.

What happened to Doomlord’s mask?

The Brown Wedge2 comments • 3,187 views

What happened to Doomlord’s mask?

(Dez Skinn is too harsh on photo-stories here I feel. If anyone wants to see a full-on feature on the 80s Eagle revival with its photo-strips, just let me know… or it might happen anyway…)

Read Misty online!!

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 292 views

Read Misty online!! – lovingly detailed site dedicated to Misty including reproductions of the original issues! Even if you don’t have time to look at the reprints at least check out the cover gallery.

Girls’ Comics

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 333 views

Girls’ Comics: Dragged screaming from the K-Punk comments box, this link leads to an excellent essay by Miriam Hurst on the British girls’ comics of the 1970s. Hurst makes intelligent points though you can’t go far wrong in this territory just by describing the material, viz:

However, at least serial stories such as these usually ended happily. Shorter stories often didn’t. In one, a vain girl who has won many beauty contests stumbles across a secret contest. When she sneaks in, she discovers that it is an ugliness contest. She is detected by assorted monsters, who crowd around her and explain that being ugly is just as valid as being beautiful; in exchange, she announces that she now realises that people who are ugly on the outside can be beautiful on the inside.

The story could have ended there. Instead, one of the monsters speaks up. The girl is correct, it says, but not in this case. All of these monsters are just as ugly on the inside as they are on the outside; as her face changes in shock, they move in on her, mouths open.

This is amazing.

FT + New York London Paris MunichPost a comment • 965 views

This is amazing.: lovingly compiled piece about the computer games included free on various 80s British records (eg the Shakin’ Stevens game), with links to the actual games in playable form! Also if I remember rightly is an AMERICAN site which makes this even more remarkable.