Thursday, February 16, 2017

We all feel a little like Ronan, The Accuser sometimes

Try to imagine Ronan, The Accuser talking like Charlie Brown.

In his newspaper incarnation, Spider-Man has been doing battle with an intergalactic baddie named Ronan, The Accuser lately. It's a dumb Guardians of the Galaxy crossover. Don't worry about it. Anyway, in Thursday's installment, Ronan called on the services of a giant automaton called a Kree Sentry. Presumably, said Sentry will start wailing on Spidey tomorrow, but I thought it would be funny-ish if the big guy didn't obey. I mean, why should he? I went to some trouble to make Ronan hang his head in defeat, but it barely reads at this size.

As long as I have you here, this is another recent comics parody of mine. I made Hi & Lois and Mary Worth swap dialogue. I think both strips are improved.

See, it's funny because the dad in the first one is abandoning his family.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Winter Odyssey by Greg Dziawer

Ed Wood lived through 54 winters, most of them in California.

The Black Diamond railroad bridge
I was born and raised and still reside after 48 years in northeastern Pennsylvania, currently living in the town of Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre, like the smaller towns all throughout this area, was once a booming coal town. Remnants of that era survive, including the Black Diamond, still a railroad bridge, visible from my office window as I type this, on the second floor of my house right along the Susquehanna River. In the 19th century, Wilkes-Barre was also a center of the textile industry. These days, just like Ed Wood's hometown of Poughkeepsie, New York, the industries have faded and economic blight is sadly prevalent. And just like Poughkeepsie, by mid-February, it's cold and wintry.

As I've gotten older, I've noted that by the latter part of winter, folks collectively seem beaten down. Getting short with each other. Aloof and preoccupied. It's a genuine affliction called Seasonal Affective Disorder, fittingly SAD for short. The Mayo Clinic describes it as "a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody."

By this time of year, I find myself itching for spring and sunlight, knowing that the stubborn cold will not fully release its grip for another month or so and that more snow is on the way. In fact, my recollections of the biggest nor'easter snowstorms experienced in my lifetime date them to the month of March. A few last kicks while we are down. But the sun came out this afternoon, brighter than I'd seen it in months, a welcome sign of things to come.
 
Worthwhile research.
While I personally don't feel so much affected by the weather this time of year, I do find the interpersonal dynamics of the day-to-day a bummer. A work day in mid-February surrounded by my miserable friends and associates is a veritable Circle of Hell. And it certainly takes its toll. I may not exactly be wracked with self-doubt and torpor, but tonight I do find myself wondering if I am adding anything worthwhile to the realm of Woodology and realizing that my focus is fuzzy and research scattered. 

It's emotion that spurs on these thoughts. Rationally, I know that I've made a dent into understanding the Wood Loop Orbit through the Winter, a vast and uncharted terrain that lies promisingly just ahead. As I read more articles from the Swedish Erotica film review mags of the latter half of the 1970s, I am increasingly confident in recognizing uncredited work by Ed's hand, as well as the distinct signatures of his style in the winter of his years. I could go on and on. I know that my personal odyssey continues to amaze, fascinate and obsess me in surprising ways. 

Ed left Poughkeepsie in 1942, nearly for good, when he and his buddy George Keseg dropped out of the 11th grade at Poughkeepsie High School and enlisted at age 17 in the Marines. Ed's family moved a few times and he lived in at least three residences in Poughkeepsie growing up, all close to the Mid-Hudson bridge, on the river's east side. Although he returned home for a brief stint after the war, he soon left the winter doldrums behind once and for all, ultimately landing in Hollywood.

We'll continue to follow him in his travels and travails, soaking up that southern California sunlight whenever we can, right here in future Ed Wood Wednesdays.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood/Dziawer Odyssey, Part Three by Greg Dziawer

Some alternate cover art for Hollis James' novel, Ed Wood: Taxi Driver.

Editor's Note: This is the third installment in Greg's series about his personal connection to the work of Edward D. Wood, Jr. You can read the previous installments here and here. J.B.

Chosen Paths, Part I

It occurred to me over the course of this last weekend that Ed Wood is all around me, whether I'm actively pursuing him or not. While it's true, ontologically, that Ed was all around me (and all of us) all along, it's clear that somewhere I suffered a cubistic shift in thinking. 

In this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, we'll begin to look at the result of this shift, as I adjust to seeing a world of Wood with fresh eyes. 

On Saturday afternoon, Kitten, E.B., and I went out. I got my hair cut. We ate at Friday's. We went grocery shopping. Through the afternoon, I worked on hanging a large mirror above the couch in the living room. I had just finally subscribed to Amazon Prime a few nights prior, so I flicked on the TV while I was working. Somehow I arrived on Gangs of New York, it still remaining one of a few of Martin Scorsese's films that I had not yet seen. I turned that on in the background while I was working on the mirror.

Daniel Day Lewis in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York.

For context, Taxi Driver is one of my favorite films, and I consider Scorsese one of the great artists of our time. Taxi Driver has evoked Ed, specifically Glen or Glenda?, for others. The originator of Ed Wood Wednesdays, Joe Blevins, visually tied together the shared themes on a private Wood forum. Urban alienation. The albatross of "normal." Hollis James's novel Ed Wood: Taxi Driver or Plan 9 from Mau Mau Land likewise conflates the two films.

(left to right) Glen or Glenda?; a Taxi Driver poster; the cover of Hollis James' novel.

Gangs of New York grabbed my attention, despite myriad flaws, evoking A Clockwork Orange and The Warriors. Daniel Day Lewis is riveting, even quoting Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver when he self-identifies as, "God's Lonely Man."

As evening dawned, Kitten's friend Casey came over. She rescues dogs, the source of our beloved Nelby. Kitten's work husband Mark and his wife Jen adopted Lily that night, a new sister for Lucy. I was, by that time, watching Maila and Me, an affecting documentary about the person behind Vampira that I'd seen numerous times before.

Mark and Jen holding Lucy and Lily.

Fifteen minutes before the end, Kitten came home. We hung the mirror on the hardware I had executed. It was crooked.

I pulled up another movie as it got late. A documentary from 2004 listing the 50 Worst Films Ever Made. Ed made this list three times. I recollected Harry Medved's paperback on the topic. 

I went to bed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Loop Orbit, Part Two by Greg Dziawer

Was Ed Wood involved in this loop series? Let's find out together.

It's now widely accepted that the first nineteen Swedish Erotica 8mm home-market loops were "made" by Ed Wood. Ed listed over 700 "short picture subjects" on his resume, produced between 1971 and 1973. In recent Ed Wood Wednesdays, we've dug deep into these loops, identifying common set decorations, transcribing subtitles often containing verbatim lines from other loops, and noting shared cinematic tropes from hundreds of related loops from that era.

In this week's Ed Wood Wednesdays, we're doing it again, focusing on one illustrative loop as our specimen.