Tiny Livestock

One of the drawbacks to the sudden, overnight departure of the 13+ illegal aliens that lived in the apartment upstairs is that the colony of roaches with which they cohabited are now in desperate need of food. No longer having the steady resource of garbage available that they used to rely on the colony has spread out into other residences in search of sustenance.

Namely, my place.

We don’t live in a ghetto*, but the complex is priced for young couples and young people don’t clean up after themselves because they are not used to mommy not doing it for them. A common tactic from some renters about apartments in this price range is that a legitimate person will rent a place and sub-let it out to others who need a place or those who have a reason not to be in the system. In the case of several of my neighbors that means undocumented immigrants. When the management finds out what is going on they terminate the leases and evict the occupants. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which apartment has such residences. In each case closet doors are removed and stored on the balcony (to make that much more room for another mattress) and a curtain hangs the width of the living room (so the blinds on the balcony can be open for light and air while preventing anyone from seeing how many people are actually in the residence). The extra folks upstairs not on the lease were already kicked out once before but after a few weeks a group moved back in. I’ve counted no less than 18 mattresses piled by the dumpster each time the residents are kicked out of the 2 room apartments.

I don’t care about their legal status because they are human beings who need a place to live and a job to work, but they could have kept the noise down. You’d think a herd of disco-loving dancing elephants lived in the place from the noise they made at all hours. Additionally, my wife didn’t appreciate the bags full of garbage and piles of empty beer cans dripping their contents down onto our space from the balcony above.


In the last few weeks I’ve sprayed enough poison to surely lower the family’s IQ by several points and cause us all genetic damage that will undoubtedly manifest in interesting ways in generations to come but the bug problem is getting under control again thanks to a few carpet bombings and attention by the property management. For a while it was very annoying. I couldn’t even cook a meal. Put a spoon down on the counter while cooking to get something from the refrigerator and when turned back there would be a bug on the spoon. This was unacceptable. I haven’t lived in a place with roaches since I was in Texas 20 years ago** and I wasn’t about to now.

I set up glue traps around the apartment (which also has variant of Trashvertising) to snare the few bugs that survived the gassing.

The packaging of the traps was alarming. I don’t know where the majority of this product is sold but I don’t want to live anywhere a freaking anaconda is considered a “common household pest”.

* It’s many hundreds of dollars less expensive than where I last lived and has 1/3 more space. We had to move to a less costly (and what I call transitional) place due to the dysfunctional payroll system of my employer and the incompetence of career managers who
were unable to resolve what was originally a simple small pay error in less than 3 months and who comically compounded the error to surreal levels, causing serious deleterious effects to my finances.

** The definition of a luxury home in Texas is vermin infested hell-hole.


Dreadstar and the Power of Positive Thinking

Greg Burgas over at Comics Should Be Good waxes positive about Jim Starlin’s unfinished opus featuring his archetype hero Vanth Dreadstar. Along with Gerrold’s War Against the Ch’torr and Harman’s Refederacy Trilogy, the Metamorphosis Odyssey is the unfinished story I am most looking forward to being continued or completed.

While Starlin could for once have a hero that doesn’t leave a sparkle trail like a magic pink unicorn when he flies I enjoyed the underlying concept that Vanth is a tool of greater forces, just a trigger on a great big gun pointed indiscriminately at the universe. The first part of his story ended when he facilitated a galaxy being euthanized to save it from destruction. Crazy, man.

This is one of my favorite scenes from Dreadstar from Epic Illustrated #15 (Dec 1982). It is also the story in which Willow is introduced. This is also the first and only time she was portrayed as a helpless victim.

“Nothing is impossible! No, wait!”

I like how Starlin had Vanth assert one thing only to have the actual situation become clear a moment later in the form of a giant rock poised to fall and crush everyone. Now that’s symbolism! In this one page Jim Starlin shows us the difference between what we believe to be true and reality.

This would make a great poster to be hung on the wall of any reality-based thinker.


Von Hulkman’s Pets

Most articles about Pulp magazines usually focuses on the art, which is justifiably classic and representative of artistic wit and talent that rarely becomes quaint and outdated. Many contemporary comic book artists could take a few lessons from the great pulp artists (and some went even further than that).

The stories themselves are often overlooked or ignored. I admit to also doing that myself in regards to my own pulp collection. Whenever I receive a new magazine containing Frank R. Paul art I usually focus on that and disregard the rest.

While I enjoy the pulp era of fiction I find much of the writing to be forgettable or just not that good. There are notable exceptions, of course. The science fiction revival of the late 1950’s through early 1970’s derived much of it’s content from the science fiction, fantasy and horror magazines of the 1930’s and 1940’s. I was myself unaware of this until I discovered the original work of such lights as Leinster, Wellman and others in old pulp magazines that I had recently read in new collections of anthologies.

Just as the current genres of SF and Fantasy prose came in part from the inexpensive accessibility of the pulp form to the general public, so do comic books have an origin in the frugal storytelling of the pulps.

Von Hulckman’s Pets was first published in September 1949 in Amazing Stories. It is similar in style, pace and plot to the comic book SF and Monster stories that appeared in anthologies published by the truckload in the 50’s and 60’s by DC, Marvel (Atlas), et al. The story of mad villain and alien slave bugs battling a hero will be familiar to anyone who has a passing familiarity with the comic book genre. While it was published fairly late in the pulp era it is still representative of the type of Bug-Eyed Monster tale fiction that can be thought of as a precursor to the comic books that would be on the market a few years later.

This story could very well be adapted today into a comic book featuring Lady Cop going up against Lex Luthor and his army of mutant ants and no one would bat an eye.

You can download and read the story at the link: Von Hulckman’s Pets.


Shanna the She-Devil by Tony DeZuniga

Ever wondered what Shanna the She-Devil would look like as played by Jane Fonda? Sure you did. For the answer to that burning search-query look no further than the portfolio by Tony DeZuiniga published in Rampaging Hulk #9 magazine back in June 1978.

The portfolio prefaced a rollicking Shanna revenge-tale written by Steve Gerber and also illustrated by Tony DeZuniga. I’m surprised that Gerber wrote this as its themes make it feel more like a Chris Claremont work. The Shanna story featured kinky sex with a python, multiple scenes of bondage, menstrual feminine-power symbolism and nearly every cliche’ from the golden age of Fiction House jungle adventure comics. Not to say it is a bad story. Steve Gerber revamped Shanna to be less the weeping environmentalist and more the psychotic butt-kicking avenger of the jungle. Too bad it didn’t take. She got so annoying in KaZar, I’m surprised Kevin didn’t shoot himself in the head.

In general I like Tony DeZuniga art. New readers to comics may recognize him as the long time (and recent guest) inker on DC’s Jonah Hex title. He is the quintessential inker, if not artist, for Jonah. His recent stint on the Jonah Hex book showed how easily he could take the current creative team to school. It isn’t enough to make Hex ugly, you have to make him grimy.

Yet in this instance it leaves me unsatisfied. Artwise the Shanna story is a fanboy’s wank dream of power fantasies, breasts and furry thongs barely covering firm buttocks. The art is definitely the primary storyteller as it overpowers the script, something that is not always good for a comic (as the 90’s proved). The panel layouts seem familiar, too, as if panels were cribbed from Ben Casey strips by Neal Adams and old romance comics. That may not be fair to DeZuniga, though, as there are certainly a finite number of “celibate sex-kitten whore” poses you can render the female form into. Of course, that didn’t stop anyone in the 90’s from trying to expand on the concept anyway.

You can see the Shanna the She-Devil portfolio by clicking the picture hard… No, harder! Harder! Yesyesyes, like that

Shanna the She-Devil portfolio


Today is Talk Like A Viking Berserker Day!

So today is Talk Like A Pirate Day? Looking around the blog-o-net I see lots of images of really pathetic pirates and pictures of Johnny Depp. Yeesh. Have some pride, man!

If you are going to emulate a pirate then at least geek to the real bad-ass ones and not the lame Disneyfied buccaneers that every other cosplayer is larping.

Now these maurauders from Thor – Vikings #2 (Oct 2003) were some serious, old school pirates. Their pirate boat is flying above a Manhattan street as they go pillaging. That is really cool.

It is true: Vikings totally kick the asses of all pirates and ninjas combined.