Like many other comic book fans I’ve been for a few years semi-actively seeking out a copy of Heroic Comics #35 (1946) for the lead story Facing Death in a Panda’s Mouth. Seen by few and existing only as rumor in comic geek circles the unlikely cover of Heroic Comics depicts a hunter being menaced by an improbably huge panda with vampire tendencies. But can the story possibly meet the promise of the cover?
Yes and no.
Thanks to the recent Comic-Con and a friend I finally got hold of a copy. The story, while simple, is as goofy, stupid and awesome as I anticipated. The art is serviceable and at times hilarious as the Dire Panda appears to have been modeled variously after a wolverine or a family pet. Looking at this story I speculate the artist propped up his daughter’s gerbil and posed it for some model reference.
Of course, the giant predatory monster in the comic book doesn’t exist in reality. Yet as anyone who can watch a YouTube clip knows, pandas are not the cuddly, sensitive Gandhi-like critters at one with the Universe that has been the mainstay of children’s entertainment and education for uncounted years. They are big and strong animals with teeth that will tear your arm off. Pandas, though, are one of the few animals in the world that can still elicit a reaction of “Aw, cute!” from witnesses even as it is ripping deep into your face with its claws.
Note: Story contains some ethnically derogatory terms.
A few days ago I’m at the local Coffee Bean Barn adjacent to my favorite book store (just missing Bully in person by a few hours, darn it!). It’s hot outside so I order the new Mango Banana Smoothie they are just putting out on the market. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: “Let’s try the venti Mango-Banana Smoothie, please.”
Perky Barista: Okay! Would you like some ‘Energy’ with that?
Perky Barista: Sure! ‘Energy’!
Me: Well, if you are all out of ‘Magic Rainbow Sparkle Dust’, sure. I’ll try some ‘Energy’.
Not-So-Perky-Anymore Barista: Allright. That’ll be $6.95.
After my drink is done I realize that I broke one of the cardinal rules of survival in a modern society. The first rule is to never annoy people that handle your food or save your life. This means you never, ever mess with Cooks, Cops or the Fire Department. Not if you know what is good for you. There are a lot of crazies out there in the world and some of them have jobs and make it through stringent screening processes. Look at Congress. You’d think that would be common sense that everyone practices but take it from one currently in the service industry and former Law Enforcement, hardly anyone ever thinks about that.
So I’m in my car driving and realize the Barista exacted her revenge for my humorous smart-assery. The straw kept clogging on the banana chunks in the Smoothie forcing me to repeatedly clear the straw by blowing it clear. My enjoyment of the drink was ruined and I had to really work at drinking it, eventually giving up. You see, she gave me a skinny straw instead of the extra-wide one designed for the blended drinks.
I think I got off lucky.
A run-of-the-mill, normal, boring Eucharist.
Taking Communion the usual way would take a lifetime of doses to get to Heaven. Who has the time in this busy, busy world to devote salvation to tiny, incremental, fun-sized servings?
I choose to save my soul in one big blast of magical power! When it comes to eternity I don’t fool around! One application and I’m good forever! For that I rely on…
CAN YOU TAKE THE POWER?
Thursday’s Schedule of Events:
12:00: MOVIES! MOVIES MOVIES! Hayley-Con kicks off at Zero-Dark-Zero with ’round the clock Hayley! For the length of the con a retrospective of the films and television of Hayley Mills will be shown in the Hayley Dome theater! That’s 24/24! 24 hours of Hayley for 24 hours! And since that isn’t enough Hayley, the Milllsian Players will be performing live-action recreations of Good Morning, Miss Bliss in the Miss Bliss Annex!
6:00-7:00 a.m.: Breakfast in the Hayley Mills Celebratory Dining Room. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and plates piled high with Bangers and Mash are the way to get the energy you need for FUN-OVERLOAD! Formal Dress required. Don’t forget, the Hayley Mills Celebratory Complex cafeteria is open all day and all night!
7:30-10:00 a.m: The Alleged Children of Hayley Mills (Open forum). Since Hayley Mills does not do the S-E-X (and never will), evidence detailing what we all know to be fact will be again presented by respected guest speakers that proves any children allegedly born by the pristine Hayley are in fact adopted, temporary charity-cases from Last-Wish organizations or fictional creations of the media.
10:30-12:00: Hayley Mills, how to be closer to her (and avoid TRO’s). Held in the gorgeous and spacious Garden of Hayley Awesomeness experts will guide visitors through contemplation of All Things Hayley. Visitors cautioned to keep off the grass.
12:00-1:00: Lunch! Don’t forget to visit the Hayley Mills Gift Center!
1:30-5:00: Panels and more panels!
- When the Music Stopped: Everyone agrees Sound of Music better with Hayley Mills as lead actress. Will CGI ever be good enough to edit Hayley in realistically?
- So Well Remembered: The Career of Hayley Mills.
- The Griebble: Best Spielberg Because of Hayley Mills or Bestest Spielberg Because of Hayley Mills EVER?
- The Hayley Mills MySpace Page: Not really her? Who would dare?
- Let’s Get Together: Sing along. Open forum, standing room only.
- Everything that is not Hayley Mills: Useless Dross.
5:30-7:30: Dinner time. Check your ticket-stubs against the winning numbers to be broadcast on the Hayley-Vision screen! 40 lucky winners will be granted access to the exclusive Castaways Club for a very special In Search of the Castaways movie-themed meal! Don’t worry folks! No monkey-brains will be served!
8:00-????: Masquerade Ball! How well can you dress like Hayley? No one could really come close to such perfection but everyone is welcome to try! Our panel of professional judges will award special prizes to the visitor who can best exemplify Hayley Mills in costume form. Take your inspiration from her amazing real life or the cinema! Contestants will be judged on originality, awesomeness and innate Hayley-ness. No dressing up like the sun, though, that costume’s already taken! B.Y.O.H. (Bring Your Own Hayley).
How likely is it that the cover art for the novel Infected was inspired by the cover of Planetary #20 drawn by John Cassaday? These are some facts. Planetary #20 was published in September 2004 and may have been prepared some time prior to that date due to publishing delays. Infected was published as a novel in 2008 based on a 2006 Podcast (a sequel is due late this year). Since both covers feature a close up of an eye with an angular iris, I imagine the odds are pretty good against this being a coincidence.
While similarity in cover art is something that happens a lot in publishing, particularly for Mystery and Detective novels, I don’t see a stylistic coincidence between these two covers even though the “eye in the triangle” is not a new idea. It is possible that there is some fan overlap between the two forms of publishing media and one idea might have inspired the other. If someone knows of Sigler and his Podcast work then it is highly probable they are also aware of Ellis and Cassaday and vise versa. Most of the creators involved in both the Planetary series and Infected are well known on the internet and could be considered “internet literary celebrities” in some circles.
This cover appears to be an example of an art swipe from a comic book by a publishing company that didn’t care about creator rights or failed to vet the art properly.
By the way, both the Planetary series and Infected are good reads from edgy writers (and artists) with a unique, sometimes creepy voice. Go out and get them.