Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday, Sunday...Happy Days!

Martinex1: I hope you have been enjoying your weekend thus far.  We have a rousing week ahead on BitBA and we guarantee good times.

Remember that if you have something to suggest contact us at  Perhaps you would like to guest post; we can coordinate that with you so just reach out if you have an idea. 

Before we jump into what's coming on the site, take a gander at some Sunday comics. Did you follow these strips?  And could these ever be blockbusters in today's age like they were in the past?

PAST EVENTS:  Much of this past week was a little offbeat as we recovered from the C2E2 Convention visit.   We spent time with alien movies, and reminisced about childhood science experiments; we talked about our young imaginations and must watch TV, we also shared some trivia.   We have much more comic related fun in the coming week, but check out the previous posts for interesting conversation you may have missed.  Here are some more cosplay pictures we wanted to share with you.

And to wrap up some of the trivia from yesterday, here is a look at the Simon Williams / Wonder Man scenes that were mentioned. ** SPOILER ALERT **There are rumors he may make an appearance in the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 released later this week, so keep your eyes open.

COMING SOON:  Last week I had promised a look at Ed Hannigan and his Bronze Age impact, but I ran into the dreaded deadline doom, so we pushed it back to this week. Tomorrow Monday, we will finally take a look at Hannigan's career and work.  Tuesday, we of course have Follow the Leader, so get those brainwaves jumping and think of a good topic to start the day.  Wednesday we have our second BitBA guest post with our BAB friend Doug piping in with a review for you.  Thursday Redartz is back with a deep digging concept for consideration in Short Cuts. Friday we will explore another comic cover trend with a new $1 challenge.  And we have a couple of other new posts for you at the end of the week to keep our streak going. 

We are glad you are here and appreciate the continued support and commentary.   Join us this week for exciting new topics, art samples, and friendly discussion.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This past week I was on the road to the upper Midwest and the still chilly weather of Duluth, Minnesota.  During my stay there I participated in an "escape room" team building event at the Zero Hour.   If you are not familiar with "escape rooms," there are various games but they generally involve deciphering clues and physically maneuvering in order to escape a controlled trap or situation of some type.  For our work event, nine of us were dressed in prison garb, handcuffed, and locked in a cell with only an hour to escape our wrongful incarceration.  We had to find keys, maneuver our way out of the jail cell, unlock cabinets to find tools for further release, investigate passwords to a computer system to erase our criminal records, and work as a team to do it quickly.   It was surprisingly difficult and the clues and codes were not simple.   It was an extremely engaging and memorable time.   Watch for similar settings in cities near you and try it out with family and friends.   For sixty minutes of gameplay and memories for years to come try it out.   It fits right in with the Bronze Age antics of Scooby Doo, Mission Impossible, and Andy Griffith crossed with gaming and puzzle solving.  I give the experience  at least 4 Bronze Medallions.

Have a great week all!  Cheers!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

All in the Game: A Trivial Matter...

Redartz:  Happy Saturday everyone!  Today we inaugurate another topical category for our BitBA site; it is called "All in the Game". Here we may discuss board games, role-playing games, card games, sporting games, and so on.  And from time to time, we may actually play a little game right here. This is the case for our first episode. 

To be specific, today we will try a little exercise in trivia (as much pop culture trivia that gets brought up here in comments, you all should be aces}. Here's the game: We will pick a general topic - for today, one dear to all our Bronze Age hearts: The Avengers!

We will toss out a trivia question, perhaps an easy one, maybe a stumper; and the first commenter who answers will then post a trivia question of his/her own. From there, we will just see how far it goes, how many questions we can answer, and how trivial we all are!

Are you 'game' to give it a try?   Cool, here's the first question: 

What was John Buscema's first issue as the Avengers' penciller?

Answer that one and pose another question - that's the game.  Join in and have some fun!

Friday, April 28, 2017

This & That: BitBA hits the C2E2 Convention!.

Redartz:  Hello again, everyone, and thanks for joining us. Today I'd like to share some thoughts and images about a pretty remarkable day. Last weekend, in Chicago, there was a comic/ pop culture convention known as C2E2 (Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo). Also, last weekend (Sunday, specifically), was another notable event: the first face-to-face meeting between some of the folks who bring you BitBA, and also our predecessor the Bronze Age Babies. Representing the BAB was Doug, familiar to you all no doubt. He was joined by our friend and frequent commenter Charlie Horse 47. Also there were your cohosts, Martinex1 and myself. And if there's anything better than a comic convention, it's a convention in the company of friends (and how did we not get Charlie in the photo? My bad, pal; just wait until next year).

Martinex1, Doug and Redartz; as photographed by Charlie Horse 47

To give you a sense of how the day went, we have some comments by the attendees. And with no further ado, heeeeere's Doug:

Some fine wings on display

Doug:  I'd not been to C2E2 before, but was excited to check it out. As I expected, it was a massive show -- McCormick Place just allows that sort of sprawl. I had a little difficulty getting my bearings, as I'm used to the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL and the way WizardWorld Chicago is generally organized. But once I finally ascertained where the back issue vendors were, I found my comfort zone.

However, it didn't take long before a severe change in my sensibilities set in. I had not been to a convention since I sold my comic book collection and quite a bit of my memorabilia over 2014-16. This time around, I did not feel any pull toward the endless rows of longboxes, nor the booths packed to the brim with Marvel Legends, Mini-mates, etc. That made me feel a little melancholy. So reduced to seeking out vendors with large collections of trade paperbacks/hardcovers, I found that there were really only a half dozen or so dealers that I spent any time with. I'd printed an inventory of my library ahead of the trip, and had an idea of what I'd buy should it present itself. I was able to come back home with six books: volumes 1 and 3 of The Batman Adventures, The "Behold the Vision" Avengers Epic Collection, the "Man Without Fear" Daredevil Epic Collection, volume 2 of the Silver Surfer Masterworks (tpb), and the Adventures of Superboy hardcover (reprinting the first 20+ appearances of the character from 1945-46). I got deals on all books below what I could get online, so felt the day was successful.

But the best part of the day was spending it with three like-minded friends. Some might think it odd to call a person you've never laid eyes on a "friend", but I'll say that right from the minute Redartz pulled up at my house last Sunday morning there was a familiarity, a collegiality forged over the past three or four years that melted away any apprehensions that might have existed -- and that sense continued once we arrived at our point of final departure and met Martinex and Charlie Horse in person. Socially, the entire day was easy; it was rewarding, fun, mentally stimulating, and on and on. We've already discussed turning this into some form of tradition!

And now, Charlie Horse 47 shares a convention tale:

Charlie Horse 47: I was enjoying my time perusing the books at Basement Comics’ booth and spied a nice copy of Police Comics # 40 (Plastic Man w/ cover and stories by the genius Jack Cole) that was reasonably priced.  I asked the dealer if I could open the book and inspect it and he said, “Sure!”  Then he said, “Wait, that’s a ‘Chop Collection’ book. “ He then proceeded to explain… 

Cap, with an incredible shield
Chop was a young lad whose mother only allowed him to have “X” number of comic books.  She would count his comics to make sure he never had more than “X” and only the same “X.”  (The dealer thinks Mom did this to ensure Chop focused on studies or whatever kids did in the 1940s.)  Well Chop, being a clever lad, figured out a way to beat mom’s quota system.  He very carefully took the "X" comics apart, keeping the covers. He would then secretly acquire new comics, disassemble them, and re-staple their pages into the "X" covers.  (Yep – the dealer had to tell me that twice to ensure I understood what I heard.)

So, there was no telling what was actually inside… presumably some Plastic Man, perhaps from #40, and other stories from other comics.  

The dealer then told me how he had a Chop Collection copy of (Punch #12) that had a picture of a skull on the cover and he had sold it for $4,000 in Poor condition.  Though the cover looked great, the contents were uncertain, so he sold it as “Poor” condition.  (Presumably the innards weren’t from Action # 1 or Detective #27, lol.)

Chop did a great job “copy/pasting” 1940s style, LOL. 

 Martinex1: I couldn't agree more that it was just fun hanging out with "old" friends.  There is a great ability in the BitBA comments for participants' personalities  to shine through.  So it was good to finally meet some of the group, and put faces to the commentary.  We had plenty of time as the parking gods were not smiling on us and we probably spent an extra hour in transit as we toured the city looking for a spot.  Topics rapidly rattled off and included everything from job friendly college degrees to security screenings to nudist colony landmarks to the UK Dennis the Menace to the merits of swiping.  It was kind of like a month of BitBA crammed into a morning commute.

I enjoyed walking the floor and particularly looking at the original comic art.  While I didn't purchase any pieces, we did see some wonderful Perez Avengers covers, Kirby art from Kamandi and a page from Avengers #1, and a Colan Daredevil cover.  Seeing those in their original state was a highlight.

I picked up some random book.  For my sons I grabbed Sonic the Hedgehog, Little Archie, and a Jughead Digest and I am happy to report they dove into and plowed through them.  They seemed to get a kick out of the story in which it is revealed that Jughead's real name is Forsythe.


For myself, I picked up  few floppies including an old Gold Key Mission Impossible and a Charlton Judo Master.  I enjoyed watching Dan Parent sketch and ink the Jughead images for the guys  And I arranged for a commission from Jeffrey Moy to reimagine the cover from Legionnaires #61 to be delivered later.  The best cosplay costumes I saw included the Black Panther, Mr. Freeze, and a gang of Disney characters.

All in all a great day.  I am glad we got together...but I have to say I don't know how people attend for three days straight.  That has to be tiring.

Redartz:  I started the day with an early drive, but that was quickly forgotten upon the warm welcome Doug offered! It was a treat to see his 'stash' in person. And another treat was soon to follow, when we met up with Martinex1 and Charlie Horse 47 (and the fine breakfast Marti had prepared for us all). Indeed, the highlight of the day for me was, really, all day long- enjoying the company of these fine gents. The conversation was rich, wide ranging and entertaining; and full of comic lore. As Doug noted, the camaraderie was instantaneous. Anyone would have thought it was a meeting of four old school chums. And it may as well have been; it seemed as though I'd known them all for years. The witty, friendly voices behind years of posts and  comments were the same I'd known, the only difference was that now there were smiling faces and audible laughter to go along with them!

These two stepped right off the CW...
As for the show: it was pretty big, bigger than most conventions I've attended, and it was a bit disorienting (or was that simply the years?). Nevertheless, there was loads to see. Cosplayers were all around, many with remarkably made costumes. Artist's alley was full; never got over to see Neal Adams but did get a Jughead sketch from Archie artist Dan Parent. Also got to meet Don Rosa, the great talent behind some excellent Disney Duck stories (and bought a very cool Will Eisner/ Spirit parody poster from him, as well). Then went down the row further, and met Erica Henderson (artist of, among other things, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). She was kind enough to sign the book I purchased and added a small sketch. As I try to pick up some form of original artwork at each con I attend, this show was quite fruitful in that regard.
 Of course, I also picked up a few actual vintage comics- an old Justice League, the first issue of All-Star Squadron (have never read it, but it has had many recommendations). And I re-acquired Amazing Spider-Man 135- for the cover. Yes, the cover made me buy that book again. 

One cool thing I noticed: many families were wandering around the convention floor, and many couples, many folks of all shapes and sizes. Kids, teens, young adults, older folks- it seems everyone likes to hit a con these days. That gives  me a little bit of optimism for our hobby's future. So all in all, this was one fine day...



Thursday, April 27, 2017

Two Questions: TV Mesmerization and Childhood Consternation!

Martinex1: I have two questions for you today. They are totally unrelated.  Feel free to answer one or both.  Or just enjoy reading all of the answers and comments!   Here we go!

QUESTION 1: Do you ever find yourself flipping through channels and being drawn into watching a show that you have already seen dozens of times, or a program that is really not that good, or both?

QUESTION 2:  When you were a kid, were you afraid of something or did you believe something that was utterly preposterous?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Chew the Fat: Science Toys, or "She Hit Me with Technology..."

Redartz:  Greetings, fellow former future scientists (apologies to anyone who actually is a scientist)! All of us, doubtlessly, spent many childhood hours busily playing with action figures, cars, games, dolls (hey, we're all-inclusive here), and many other toys. Some of us, though, had parents who perhaps hoped to encourage potential career choices by endowing us with more educational playthings. Specifically speaking, toys based upon science and technology. And there were many such things available; a casual perusal of a vintage Sears Christmas Catalog will show you numerous examples. 

A.C. Gilbert was one prominent manufacturer of such toys. Gilbert Chemistry labs, Microscope labs, Telescopes, Geology labs, and other sets were quite popular from the 1950's on. Gilbert Erector sets gave many of us an education in construction and motorization. And there were many other companies busily helping promote science as well: Remco, Science Fair, Hasbro, even Radio Shack. They filled department store shelves with anatomical model kits, electronics labs, rock tumblers, computer kits,weather stations, crystal radio kits, fossil excavating sets,and so on. Just about any  field of science could be explored by purchasing the appropriate set and experimenting to your heart's content.


As for me: there were many of these sets on my shelves at one time or another. The Gilbert chemistry set was an early introduction to scientific experimentation. The instruction book contained many step-by-step experiments for the budding chemist to perform. Of course, 8-year-old me was just as likely to randomly mix a pile of chemicals just to see what happened. Never blew anything up, at least...

Then there was the Geology lab. It was actually called a "Rock Identification Computer", and consisted of a plastic frame housing a stack of punch-hole cards. There were several devices: a streak plate, a specific gravity scale and a hardness tester with which to check out your mineral specimen. Then you would insert keys into the appropriate result slots, and the 'computer' would release cards identifiying the likely type of rock you had. It was pretty interesting and worked rather well; the set included about 20 rocks and minerals to start on. Downside- the sample of Halite (essentially rock salt) kept getting smaller and smaller, as my brother and I kept licking it...

We also had a Microscope lab. That was fascinating- I'd find insects, leaves, coins,anything that would fit on the microscope stage. Then ramp up the focus and magnification as high as it would go. Another rewarding use of the scope was to examine pond water. It was amazing to put a drop on a slide and see all those odd little creatures: vorticella, spyrogyra, daphnia, parameciums, etc (yes, the names still stick in my head). And we would stick ourselves with a needle just to look at the blood cells. 
Somehow we managed to survive those sets, with all their glass tubing, scalpels, knives, needles, chemicals, bunsen burners, heating elements and the like. It never led to a career, but playing with those sets was a lot of fun, and did serve to increase our knowledge of the sciences. How many of you had the chance to play "mad scientist", or look at the moon through your telescope, or build a 'visible man'?


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Follow The Leader: Episode 18: Reading Comics Today!

Martinex1:  Here we are on the third day of the week and therefore it is Follow The Leader time!  

Last week we talked about misunderstood lyrics; today will be something entirely different.   It is all up to you. We will take any topic suggested and throw it out to the masses for consideration and conversation.     The challenge is to keep the conversation rolling and going, so keep in mind that sidebars, tangents, and non sequiturs are welcome! 

Here again for the uninitiated are the general rules for our Tuesday discussions:

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?

So give us something to sink our teeth into and we will be back later with our own comments on the topic!   Cheers!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rank and File: Friendly Alien Movies!

Martinex1: The Bronze Age movie theater was rife with movies about aliens, so let's discuss these films and rank the best of them.  There was a window of time in which little green men with big eyes (or human-looking beings with strange quirks) seemed to be arriving each and every release date.

Just about any movie with aliens is open for consideration, but to keep this discussion fair, let's dismiss the franchises of Star Wars and Star Trek.  Those movies and series would tend to fill many of the top tier slots.   So to be clear those are outside of our purview today.  In addition, let's try to steer clear of the violent, killer, destructive aliens that became common during the same time with the Alien and Predator offerings.  That may be a discussion for another time.

Today we are ranking and filing the friendly or at least relatively benign alien flicks!

In the late 1970s and through the 1980s particularly, there were various blockbusters with aliens who acted as friends, compadres, partners, heroes, and protectors.   What were the best of those?   Take a look at these posters to get primed for the discussion.  Why did some of these films work and others fail?   What were the top five best films with this criteria?  And what were the worst?

 Martinex1:  I was probably in a very small group of ten-year-olds who liked Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) better than Star Wars.  I was mesmerized by the mysterious lights, the sunburn on half of Richard Dreyfuss' face, the urge to carve the monument out of mashed potatoes, that little kid that got abducted, and the eerie musical notes.   I cannot say why the movie intrigued me, but I know I sat in the back seat of my mom's car that night looking up to the sky.   In retrospect, I suppose it was serendipitous that the film was released around the same time that I was pulling library books about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, secrets of the pyramids, and other such things.

I saw The Brother from Another Planet (1984) one day after school my Junior year of high school.   My buddies and I hiked downtown and made it to an "art" theater to see John Sayle's story of an escaped mute three-toed alien slave portrayed by Joe Morton.   I haven't seen it in years but I loved that movie at the time and its commentary on many social aspects.  There was a lot of humor in the movie and it is well worth another look.

In college, on a lark I watched The Hidden (1987) after classes at the theater just off campus.  This was a different type of movie and barely meets the criteria of today's challenge.  A slug of a creature is inhabiting citizens' bodies and taking them on sprees of killing and debauchery.   The "good' alien arrives in the form of a law enforcement officer (Kyle MacLachlan) who is tracking his spacefaring foe.  It is violent but also has some tongue-in-cheek humor that made this outing better rather than worse.

Alien Nation (1988) came out about a year later and took another look at alien style police work.  A fully loaded ship from space is stranded on Earth, and the newcomers have to start assimilating to their new home.  Life marches on and the police have their plate full dealing with both our normal crime and some other weird events due to the new arrivals.  Investigators from both worlds have to interact and solve the crime.   This is a cross between a strange invasion movie and a buddy-cop film. Mandy Patinkin does a great job as the alien cop Detective Sam Francisco.

Those are some of my favorites.  I've also seen Enemy Mine with Dennis Quaid and Lou Gossett Jr. but I do not remember much.   I was not a big fan of E.T.; it was okay but never grabbed me long term.  I did not like Cocoon; it had that sugary sweet, message-bearing, feel-good vibe of many films from the era that left me feeling under-entertained.  I never saw Starman believe it or not; Jeff Bridges was nominated for an Oscar so maybe I will search it out. Mac and Me was a notorious and horrendous money grab following the E.T. wave. 

So what did you think about films like these or the dozens like them.   What were your favorites and what do you wish never arrived?   And yes, I guess Superman fits the criteria I outlined.  Cheers!

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