Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy birthday, Supergirl!

Twenty years ago today, at precisely 5:02 p.m., my only child — a daughter — entered the world.

Where did the last two decades go?

KM — in spite of the paternal half of her genetic pool — has grown up to be an astounding young woman. She's smart — Dean's Highest Honors last semester — funny, charming, and loves horses, In 'n' Out Burger, and Shemar Moore.

She also loves the Giants and Warriors, which means that she is both discriminating and endowed with a insanely high tolerance for pain.


She is no longer my teenager.

As long-time SSTOL readers are aware, "Supergirl" is one of my nicknames for KM. (This despite the fact that, as a petite brunette, she's really more a Mary Marvel than a Supergirl.) The sobriquet stems from the fact that for several years, one of KM's favorite items of apparel was a pink hoodie with a Kryptonian shield emblazoned across the chest.

Happy 20th, Supergirl! Welcome to the Land of Beyond Teenagerness. Your mom and I love you more than all the snickerdoodles in the whole wide world.

Just don't go all Power Girl on us before your time.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Birth? Day.

I've commented before about the odd coincidence of nature that resulted in my wife KJ and my now six-year-old goddaughter in Maine sharing a birthday.

Well, it's time to mention it again.

Happy birthday, girls!

And, while we're at it, happy birthday to:

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Comic Art Friday: The Best of 2008

Today's Comic Art Friday is dedicated to the memory of Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the grande dame of the Star Trek universe, who passed away yesterday at the age of 76.

The widow of Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Majel had a recurring role in the original 1960s series as Nurse Christine Chapel, whose most distinctive characteristic was her unrequited love for Mr. Spock. Majel also appeared as Lwaxana Troi, Deanna Troi's meddlesome mother, in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Off camera, the actress provided the voice of the Enterprise's computer system in both the original series and ST:TNG, as well as that of the feline Lt. M'Ress in Star Trek: The Animated Series.

A beloved fixture for years on the convention circuit, Majel will be missed by Trek's legions of fans.

In addition to it being Comic Art Friday, today is my 47th birthday. So I'm going to do whatever I darn well please. (I know, I know... I do that every Friday. Old habits die hard.)

What pleases me is getting an early start on our traditional look back at the year's best acquisitions. This way, we can spread the retrospective goodness over two consecutive Comic Art Fridays, and bask in the reflected glow of my favorite new pieces of 2008 for a week longer.

In the words of the late Heath Ledger: And here... we... go!

Favorite "Common Elements" Commission, Heroes Division:
"Force of Gravity" — pencils by Sal Velluto, inks by Bob Almond
Captain Gravity and Gravity

Sal and Bob, the longtime artistic team on Marvel's Black Panther, created two incredible additions to my Common Elements theme gallery in 2008. I loved the whimsy of Sal's design in this one, which featured another character from the Sal and Bob catalog — Penny-Farthing's Captain Gravity.

Favorite "Common Elements" Commission, Heroines Division:
"Val to the Third Power" — pencils by Val Semeiks
Valkyrie (from Airboy) and Valkyrie (from The Defenders)

Val Semeiks's impeccable storytelling slams a home run with this concept, which was tailor-made (well, it would be, if I were a tailor) for him. Beautifully designed, and deftly drawn.

Favorite "Common Elements" Commission, Co-Ed Division (tie):
"Celestial Domes" — pencils by Steve Carr, inks by Joe Rubinstein
Moondragon and the Martian Manhunter

As was the case last year, I had a tough time deciding this category. Thus, for the second year in a row, I split the difference to honor two outstanding artworks. The early leader here was this dazzling scenario imagined by Steve Carr, then splendidly finished by Joe Rubinstein.

Favorite "Common Elements" Commission, Co-Ed Division (tie):
"Identity Theft" — pencils and inks by Mike Vosburg
Starfire and Steel

And then came this stellar entry from Bronze Age veteran Mike Vosburg. Mike pairs his creation Starfire with her fellow overlooked DC non-star, Steel. Mike still draws with the same muscular energy that made those '70s comics so much fun.

Favorite Storm:
Aaron Lopresti (pencils and inks)

Wonder Woman artist Lopresti rocked this image of the lightning-commanding X-Man at WonderCon back in February. Aaron really hustled to complete this one before the end of the day on Saturday.

Favorite Supergirl:
Matthew Clark (pencils)

Matthew is one of the most underappreciated talents in the comics industry. His name doesn't often surface when fans call out their current favorites. But man, oh man, can this guy sling a pencil.

Favorite Mary Marvel:
David Williams (mixed media)

David is perhaps best known for drawing "kids' comics" for the all-ages Marvel Adventures line. His work brims with boundless joy, clever design, and a sly sense of humor. All three qualities sparkle in this WonderCon commission.

Favorite Wonder Woman:
Daniel B. Veesenmeyer (pencils)

"DVeese" helped inaugurate my new Bombshells! theme gallery (about which, more next Friday) this year with several nicely rendered pieces. Here, he recalls the original appearance of the Amazing Amazon in classic nose art style.

Favorite Beauties With Blades:
Phil Noto (pencils and inks)

Alex Niño (pencils and inks)

Two more stunning components of a truly memorable WonderCon haul.

Next Friday, we'll review the best of Bombshells!, and announce our 2008 Artist of the Year.

If you want to send me a piece or two of original comic art for my birthday, I'll gladly accept it, even if it arrives later. Or you could drive over, hand me the art in person, and then take me out to birthday lunch. I promise not to order the lobster.

(No, I don't.)

And that's your Comic Art Friday. Now get off my lawn.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hey, Nineteen!

My daughter KM is 19 today.

Nineteen is my lucky number. My daughter is most certainly the luck of my life. Great student (Dean's High Honors in her first semester of college), excellent horsewoman (with a wall filled with ribbons to prove it), solid citizen (beloved by all who know her), and all-around wonderful person ('cause I said so).

KJ and I could not have bargained for a better kid.

Which reminds me of a Steely Dan number...
Hey Nineteen
That's 'Retha Franklin
She don't remember
The Queen of Soul
It's hard times befallen
The sole survivors
She thinks I'm crazy
But I'm just growing old...
KM does, in fact, remember the Queen of Soul, who just happens to share her birthday.

Happy birthday, Aretha.

And happy birthday to you, Punkin. May my God and yours grant you long life and good days.

You go, Supergirl!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Now we are (forty-) six

Another year, another birthday.

The girls got me one of the two things I really wanted: Schulz and Peanuts, David Michaelis's controversial biography of cartoonist and local legend Charles Schulz.

I'm looking forward to reading it, so that I can see what all the furor is about.

The second thing I wanted, I found for myself on eBay: A DVD-ROM set containing every issue of Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer published by Marvel Comics through December 2006. (I already own the version that compiles all the back issues of The Amazing Spider-Man.)

Graphic Imaging Technology, the company that created these software libraries, is losing its publishing license from Marvel at the end of this month (Marvel has decided to offer its own online subscription archive service instead), so these items will no longer be manufactured after the first of the year. (You'll be able to hunt them up on eBay indefinitely.) I still want to get the Avengers version while it's available cheap. [UPDATE: Score! I found the Avengers DVD-ROM for a nice price on eBay. Happy birthday, me!]

Birthday greetings have already begun to pour in. I've received voice mail messages from my friend Donna, and from my cell phone service provider. (I'm pretty sure that Donna wasn't schmoozing me for more business.)

At my advanced age, I have much to be grateful for. I'm in decent health for a middle-aged fat guy. I'm surrounded by people who love me (or at least are willing to tolerate me, which is kind of the same thing). I spend at least some part of every day doing something I enjoy. I'm not in prison — they've never been able to make those charges stick — I'm not in debt, and I'm not in the cemetery.

As the great Joe Walsh once said, life's been good to me so far.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Too many candles

In case you were thinking that my birth on this date in 1961 was the most important event ever to occur on December 19...'d be correct.

At least from my perspective.

Because, for me, if I'm never born, the entirety of human existence on Planet Earth doesn't amount to a bucket of warm spit. Sucks for you, I know. But there it is.

Secondary to that auspicious occasion, however, it's interesting to note that some other stuff also happened on this date in history. A few choice examples:
  • December 19, 1606: The first colonial ships leave England for what would become Jamestown, Virginia. No wonder I never get a birthday card from any of my Native American friends.

  • December 19, 1776: Thomas Paine publishes his essay American Crisis, featuring the soon-to-be-famous line, "These are the times that try men's souls." Apparently, Paine's assessment of my life was only a couple of centuries premature.

  • December 19, 1777: General George Washington sets up camp at Valley Forge. My advice, George? Bring plenty of long underwear.

  • December 19, 1843: Charles Dickens publishes A Christmas Carol. Bah, humbug.

  • December 19, 1915: German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer dies. At least I think he does. I forget. What was I talking about?

  • December 19, 1916: The French win the Battle of Verdun. It would mark the last time the French would win at anything, ever. Or even put up a decent fight, for that matter.

  • December 19, 1963: Actress Jennifer Beals, the star of Flashdance, is born. What a feeling. Jennifer: Call me. We'll do birthday lunch. Wear that sweatshirt — you know the one.

  • December 19, 1967: Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt, having gone missing while ocean swimming two days earlier, is presumed dead. Just between you and me, I think a stingray got him.

  • December 19, 1969: Actress Kristy Swanson, the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is born. Kristy: Call me. We'll do birthday dinner. I'll bring the garlic.

  • December 19, 1972: The crew of Apollo 17 — Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison "Jack" Schmitt — returns home safely from the moon. If you'd told me then that no human being would go to the moon within the next 34 years, I'd have said, "You don't know Jack Schmitt."

  • December 19, 1974: Nelson Rockefeller becomes the 41st Vice President of the United States, proving once again that money can't buy love or happiness, but it does a darned fine job of nailing down political offices.

  • December 19, 1984: The United Kingdom formally agrees to return Hong Kong to the Chinese, effective in 1997. In exchange, China agrees to return rampant colonialism and inedible cuisine to the British, effective immediately.

  • December 19, 1997: The movie Titanic is released. I should probably be offended by that. (See, Donna? We do have something in common.)

  • December 19, 1998: Articles of impeachment are filed against President Bill Clinton by the U.S. House of Representatives, even though he did not have sexual relations with... well, yeah, he did.

  • December 19, 2006: I guess that's up to us, isn't it?

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Monday, December 19, 2005

They say it's your birthday. It's my birthday, too.

Today I have something in common with two San Francisco icons, Willie "Stretch" McCovey and "Dirty" Harry Callahan: the number 44.

I guess that means that either this coming year will be a towering home run, or it will blow my head clean off.

Do I feel lucky?

If you're still fretting over what to get me for this auspicious occasion, you could probably do worse than The Robert B. Parker Companion by Dean James and Elizabeth Foxwell, a newly published guide to the works of my favorite mystery novelist, or any recent volume (Volumes 12-17) of the 17-volume (so far) Spirit Archives, which reprint in glorious color the legendary newspaper strips of comic art's greatest innovator and storyteller, Will Eisner. (Eisner was in the Army during World War II, and Volumes 3 through 11 of the series contain the work of the writers and artists who filled in during Eisner's absence. Historically interesting, but little more than that. Anything from Volume 12 forward, however, is pure Eisner at the peak of his powers.)

That, or a personal birthday greeting from Diane Lane.

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

It's my birthday and I'll blog if I want to...

...and if I don't want to, I won't. So, no promises about the rest of today.

Before you ask, I was born on this date in 1961. Do the math.

And I know you probably weren't planning on splurging for a gift or anything, but in case you were, a copy of Men Of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones would hit the spot nicely, thanks.

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