Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Follow The Leader: Episode 10: Musicals!

Martinex1: We are a day away from March, and Spring is just around the corner and in the air here in the midwest.   Redartz and I are taking a break today (as we do on most Tuesdays) so we can get some fresh air.  The BITBA site is yours for the day - start a topic and run with it.  It is all up to you to control today on Follow the Leader.  Here are the guidelines:

1) Whoever gets here first (or even second) post a topic starter in the comments that others can jump on and discuss for the day; supply as little or as much detail as necessary to get the ball rolling.

3) The range of possible subjects is broad - comics, movies, music, television, fiction, hobbies, queries, etc.  Try to have the topic touch some aspect of Bronze Age nostalgia if possible.

4) Keep it clean and family friendly.

5) All others...follow the Leader! Your job is to keep the conversation rolling.   (As I said - follow the topic wherever it takes you; a conversation started about comics may lead to comments on jazz for all we know)!

Note:  There is one caveat... if Redartz or I notice that the suggested topic is something we already have in the pipeline, we will let you know and inform you of the projected date for that subject for discussion.  That is just so we don't double up.   Hey - great minds think alike, right?

Have fun today! Cheers!

Redartz:  Yes, what he said! And, just a reminder: our 'Show and Tell' post day is fast approaching, but you still have time to send any images you wish. We are looking at original comic art, convention sketches, anything like that! If you have a piece or two gracing your wall and would like to share it, just take a photo and email it to us at backinthebronzeage@gmail.com   .  We'll take it from there!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Sound and the Fury: The Beat(en) Generation-X

Martinex1: Welcome to a new topic here at Back in the Bronze Age!  We call it Sound and the Fury and we hope you enjoy it!

Music and comics sometimes go hand in hand.   There are music and sound based characters such as Klaw, Dazzler and Songbird; there have been lyrics quoted in comic books; and there have even been records with songs scribed to reference comic events.  Over the next number of months we will explore those examples and much more in Sound and the Fury posts  And it does not have to be comic related for us to discuss music, albums, bands, soundtracks, instruments, and special sound effects here.  Everything aural will appear under this banner.

To give you an idea of what you can expect - someday you may see something like this:

Or on other days you may run into something like this:

 *The above dancing superheroes are from the russellmarkolson.blogspot.com site.   He has plenty more so check it out.

And frequently you may see album cover examples like these:

In a recent conversation we had been toying with the idea that certain events bring back memories of comic books or conversely a comic brings an occurrence to mind.  We are going to explore that circumstance quite a bit on our blog in various ways.  Today's post will begin to examine the way certain songs influence our memories of specific comics, teams, titles, arcs, or characters.  We are going to experiment with "Comic Sound Tracking."  I hope it will be a fun topic for you all.  

For our inaugural "Comic Sound Tracking" exploration, I want to take a look and listen to The The performing "The Beat(en) Generation"  and how every time I hear this song I think about the X-Men.

I've mentioned The The before and that Matt Johnson evolved as an artist in the band (which often was a one-man band) with albums like Soul Mining, Infected, Mind Bomb and Dusk throughout the 80s and into the 90s.  On 1989's effort Mind Bomb, was the track and single "The Beat(en) Generation"  At the time, Johnson was joined by Johnny Marr from The Smiths on guitar and harmonica, James Eller on bass, and David Palmer on drums.  Their style was traditional but their impact at the time was strong on the college and independent scene.  Check out the song and lyrics below.

The Beat(en) Generation

When you cast your eyes upon the skylines of this ...
Once proud nation
Can you sense the fear and the hatred
Growing in the hearts of it's population?

And our youth, oh youth, are being seduced
By the greedy hands of politics and half truths

The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation
The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Open your eyes, open your imagination

We're being sedated by the gasoline fumes
And hypnotised by the satellites
Into believing what is good and what is right

You may be worshipping the temples of mammon
Or lost in the prisons of religion
But can you still walk back to happiness
When you've nowhere left to run?

If they send in the special police
To deliver us from liberty and keep us from peace

Then won't the words sit ill upon their tongues
When they tell us justice is being done
That freedom lives in the barrels of a warm gun?

The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation
The beaten generation, the beaten generation
Open your eyes, open your imagination

Songwriters: MATT JOHNSON

Martinex1:  So how does this song relate to the X-Men?   Well, when I first heard the song 28 years ago in my waning college days, despite the political overtones (or perhaps because of those overtones), the Marvel mutants sprung to mind.   Perhaps Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Chris Claremont and the rest had captured in the book a foundational perspective of youth and its question of authority and the status quo that was also mirrored in the song.  In addition, the thematic analysis of racism, prejudice, and authoritarian regimes appeared in both.  And some of the lyrics seemed to actually reflect actions or images within the Uncanny X-Men pages.  The neo-60s style of the video also recalled the era in which the X-Men were created.

Regarding some of the specific lyrics, here are depictions of how I connect the two - the links between the music and the comic scenes:

"When you cast your eyes upon the skylines of this once proud nation..."
"Can you sense the fear and the hatred growing in the hearts of it's population?"

"And our youth, oh youth, are being seduced by the greedy hands of politics and half truths"

"The beaten generation, the beaten generation..."
"Reared on a diet of prejudice and misinformation."
"The beaten generation, the beaten generation..."

"Open your eyes, open your imagination."
"We've been sedated by the gasoline fumes, and hypnotized by the satellites"

"Into believing what is good and what is right"
"...If they send in the special police, to deliver us from liberty and keep us from peace..."

"Can you still walk back to happiness, when you've nowhere left to run?"
"The beaten generation, the beaten generation..."
"Open your eyes, open your imagination!"

Martinex1: So that is my first foray into sound tracking, using an almost literal interpretation of some of the lyrics.   I hope you can see how I made the connection between the two works of art.  In the future, I hope to conduct more of these experiments perhaps in tighter elements of an actual issue. 

I'd like to hear what you think of our recent subject category and about the work of The The coupled with the panels.   How about the song itself - did you like it?   Is it music that was on your play list decades ago?   And please if you have any suggestions for future "sound tracking" your favorite comics or characters - send us a suggestion message at backinthebronzeage@gmail.com.

As always we look forward to your comments.    Cheers!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Here Comes the Sunday!

Martinex1: It is Sunday!  Let's get to it!  Rest, relaxation, retrospectives, and recommendations today at BITBA!

RECENTLY: This past week, we ranked the primary characters (both big and little) from the Avengers and the JLA. We travelled to February of 1974 on the Retro Metro and visited television, comics, and Top 10 hits of the day.   We discussed our favorite newspaper comic strips from Beetle Bailey to Dondi.   We analyzed high concept television from Bewitched to Mork and Mindy,   And we reminisced about our comic purchasing events. 

As always, we  encourage you to take a look at the posts you missed.  Feel free to join in the conversation late; we will circle back too.

REMINDER:  If you have suggestions for a future post or if you want to pen an article yourself, please reach out to us at backinthebronzeage@gmail.com

COMING SOON: We have some completely new topics up our sleeves and  ready to share with you this week!  Expect some exciting posts that concern the connection between music and comics, crazy radio shows, comic storage stories, and much much more.  We think you will like what is on the docket - including some new ongoing category creations.

And be prepared for Tuesday, because we will again throw it to you the commenters for an episode of  Follow the Leader.  So if something has been rattling your cages or nagging your noggins, share it on Tuesday and get the discussion rolling.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Remember that Sunday is a day to share recommendations on anything you enjoy - from something you are eating to something you are reading.   Comics, novels, movies, food, and music are all fair game - so comment if you have anything to recommend.

Here are a few for you:

MUSIC:  King Crimson, the long running and ever-evolving band released an album in 1984 entitled Three of a Perfect Pair, that may be lesser known but is still one of my favorites.  The band at that time was made up of Adrian Belew (guitar and lead vocals), Robert Fripp (guitar and his wild electronics),  Tony Levin (bass and vocals), and Bill Bruford (drums). Following up on their previous work Beat, which was more traditional in its song structure, Three of a Perfect Pair, has a duality ranging from nearly catchy tunes with interesting storytelling to freeform electronic and rhythmic exploration.  I liked this era of King Crimson and give this work 3.5 Bronze Medallions.

GAMES:  If you like games and you have a creative group of friends or family, then Balderdash may be for you.   Played like many trivia games with a simple board and game card structure, the fun really begins as the contestants make up definitions, biographical information, movie plots, and more in order to bluff other players into thinking the complete balderdash is a correct description.  If you are familiar with Fictionary, then this is a nice expansion of the game.   I give it 4 Bronze Medallions for a good night of fun. 

Have a great week everybody and join us all week for discussion and entertainment.   Cheers!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chew the Fat: Where Were You When You Bought that Comic?

Redartz:  Good day, everyone! In recent weeks, in the course of several different discussions, one issue has been noted repeatedly: the tendency to recall the specific circumstances surrounding the purchase / reading of a particular comic. It seems many of us have these memories, each of which only add to the enjoyment and value of said comic to it's possessor. So today, we will release the 600-pound gorilla in the room, and discuss those special books. The ones that, literally decades later, still evoke the time, date and surroundings of the original experience. 

In my case, as I've owned and read thousands of comics over the years, there are numerous books which have that characteristic memory attached (although there are countless more whose origins are lost in the mists of time). I've told the story before of Amazing Spider-Man 132, and it's hospital purchase that started my collecting habit. So for today's tale, here's a couple other examples:

Amazing Spider-Man 157: an issue presenting the return of Dr. Octopus, and with a sharp John Romita cover. My family was on a spring break vacation trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in early 1976. On one morning, my parents decided to sleep in a bit, so my brother and I had the chance to walk down the main street of town and look at all the shops and attractions. At one big souvenir/gift shop, visible through the big front window, was a spinner rack of comics. And behold, on that spinner was the brand new issue of ASM, my favorite title! Great as the cover was, I'd have grabbed it anyway. So that comic went back to the hotel room with us, and entertained me for a bit until the folks woke up.


Captain America and the Falcon 173: an issue early in Steve Englehart's "Secret Empire" arc, with guest stars the X-Men and Nick Fury (all conveniently plastered on the cover). At that age, I often relied on the good will of my parents to drive me by the local comic shop to pick up a few books. On this day, they took me prior to my music lesson (for about a year, they ferried me to organ lessons at a music store in town; most of our family is musically gifted, it turned out that I emphatically wasn't). 
My father was a talented piano player, and the owners of the store were friends of my parents. So after my  lesson that day, I sat out in the parking lot of that music store, in the back seat, in the sunshine, warm through the car window, reading that new Captain America comic while the adults visited. And probably discussed how to mercifully curtail my music lessons...

But enough about me. Let's hear from all of you! What comics evoke specific memories of their purchase and /or perusal? I know you're all itching to tell your tales!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Rank And File: The Little Six!

Martinex1: Earlier in the week, we ranked the "Big Six," the iconic heroes from the Avengers and JLA (see Monday's post).   Now I want to focus on the next wave.   There are characters in those teams that are nearly indispensable when discussing the groups' histories. 

So today, let's rank and file the "Little Six," the core team members just behind Captain America, Batman, Superman, and the rest.  I've narrowed the list down to three long term heroes from DC and Marvel:  Hawkeye, Green Lantern, Vision, Flash, Aquaman, and Yellowjacket (or any of Hank Pym's identities if you prefer)!

And don't fret that I have no female characters on this list.   I have a special Rank and File just in the wings to highlight the greater gender!  I couldn't deny the significant contribution of today's heroes, and found that there were many more I wanted to discuss, so watch for that soon.

 As for this round, here are my rankings:

1. Yellowjacket (Hank Pym / Giant Man / Goliath):  The Avengers would not be the same without Hank hanging around - even intermittently.   Despite the character's flaws that were significantly increased during the Bronze Age, I had always liked Hank's early involvement, powerset, and costumes.   That still carries through for me.

2. Hawkeye: Likewise Clint was an important part of the early Avengers with his sarcasm and attitude.   He was a reformed villain and that aspect has always been part of the Avengers' approach and milieu. I think Hawkeye was a model for many characters to come later - a hero at heart but not perfect by any means.  He was arrogant, sometimes abrasive, sometimes hilarious; he was the heart of the team for so long and a leader despite himself.  With limited abilities and no real power, I still enjoy his exploits.

3. Flash:  When we previously reviewed the Big Six, it struck me that out of all of the DC heroes I collected the most solo comics of the Flash - even more than Batman or Superman.    He has a great rogues gallery and even though his power is only speed, he uses it in fascinating and inventive ways.  I definitely prefer the Wally West version over the Barry Allen Flash - much of that has to do with the Mark Waid penned issues.  The Flash started the Silver Age and I still enjoy the old covers and craziness.

4. Green Lantern:  Like the above, I collected more Green Lantern than the Trinity characters.   I did think Hal Jordan was a bit of a bore in most situations.   And I wanted his space adventures to be better than they were.   It would have been amazing if somebody like Jim Starlin ever took a shot at the character.   But I liked some arcs of the series quite a bit.  His power often acted as deus ex machina, but there was something about Oa, the Guardians, the Corp, and the rest of the world created around Hal that I enjoyed.

5. Vision: This may be a shock as I really love the character, but I struggled to rank him higher.   I find that all  the things I enjoy about the Vision happened between his first appearance and about issue 110 of the Avengers.   Unlike others that visit this site, I missed the first run of the Englehart years and in retrospect those did not sit as well with me when I returned to them.   Many of the stories printed after that period starring the Vision left me flat.   I feel like most of the true character development was done much earlier.   And I think that the marriage to the Scarlet Witch and his eventual deconstruction was bungled.   I have not read his most recent series at all.

6. Aquaman:  I suspect that many of our visitors today will rank Aquaman low on this poll.  I just don't know that much about him.   And I greatly prefer his counterpart Namor.  But it is probably ignorance that drives this decision, as many of his books' art from the late Silver and early Bronze ages looks great.

So now it is back to you.   What do you have to say about these second tier heroes from the powerhouse teams?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Riding the Retro Metro: Destination February 23, 1974

Redartz:  All aboard; time's a wastin'! Our Retro Metro is taking us back to Saturday, February 23, 1974. Which, actually, is a fairly portentous time for your humble host: the very month that a young Redartz discovered the wonderful world of comics! Actually, this was a great time to get hooked into pop culture. Let's head back and see why...

As we step off the bus, we pass a movie theatre, showing the film with the top song in the US this week: Barbara Streisand, singing "The Way We Were"

Rounding out the top five:
2.  Terry Jacks- "Seasons in the Sun"
3.  Aretha Franklin- "Until You Come Back to Me"
4.  Jim Stafford- "Spiders and Snakes"
5.  Love Unlimited Orchestra- "Love's Theme" 

My good friend in Middle School, who was instrumental in my new comics addiction, also has got me started listening each week to Casey Kasem and "American Top 40" on the radio. I love it. I also love another song, further down the charts that we talked about in Spanish class: "Eres Tu", by Mocedades.

Tops in the UK:  Mud- "Tiger Feet"
I'm not familiar with this one, Casey hasn't played it yet...

Oh, and hey, it's Saturday again! And there's enough good viewing on the networks this morning to require a couple extra bowls of cereal. I never miss Scooby Doo and his guest stars, but also must catch Emergency Plus 4 , Star Trek and the Addams Family. A very full Saturday schedule!

US Network Television Schedule:

Saturday Morning:
ABC offered Bugs Bunny, Yogi's Gang, Super Friends, The Saturday Superstar Movie, and more
CBS had Flintstone comedy Show, New Scooby Doo Movies, Jeannie, Speed Buggy and more
NBC was showing  The Addams Family, Emergency Plus 4, Star Trek: The Animated Series and more

But wait, what's on tonight? Fear not, let's pull the TV Guide out of my backpack and see...

Prime Time: 

Carol Burnett Show Cast
ABC:  The Partridge Family, ABC Suspense Movie, Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law
CBS:   All in the Family, M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, The Carol Burnett Show
NBC:  Emergency!, NBC Saturday Night at the Movies

BBC1:  Cilla, The Saturday Thriller: Let's Kill Uncle, News, Election Broadcast
BBC2:  Falstaff, Election Broadcast, The Pallisers

Mary Tyler Moore Show Intro

Although I'm a faithful viewer of "Emergency", that CBS schedule is absolute comedy perfection! I always catch M*A*S*H when "Emergency" is a rerun. And I never fail to tune in Mary, Bob and Carol. Best night on tv all week, in my opinion.

And of course, as we still have some time to kill before turning on the console tv in the living room, let's stop in the local drugstore and check out the spinner racks:

Boy, it's no wonder I've gotten hooked on these comics. How to choose from these, and all the others? Well, that Amazing Spider-Man is already sitting on my shelf at home; it's the very comic  that has just returned me to the Marvel fold. Oh, and I had to grab that Giant Size Super-Stars with the Fantastic Four: what a cover! And they used the old logo, too!

Well, that's about all we have time for on this excursion back in the bronze age'. But don't worry, the Retro Metro will be back before we know it, ready to take us to another dynamite date...


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