Sunday 27 November 2022

8x8 (10. 339)

truly toastmaster: an elaborate and enduring hoax that shows one should not believe everything on the internet—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

cabinet of curiosities: the intro, outro and interstitials of the horror anthology hosted by Guillermo del Toro, which has distinct echoes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents 

oopsie, i did a misinformation: an exploration on how and why Japan does the internet differently than the rest of the world with case study—via Waxy  

plasmonic photocatalysis: researchers engineer a nanomaterial that could allow for power plants to efficiently isolate hydrogen from ammonia using only light  

el peatonito: a champion of the pedestrian and other Super Citizens 

it’s not delivery, it’s digiorno: an interesting short documentary on the history of frozen pizza—via Hyperallergic’s Required Reading   

teal and prebunking: the shortlisted candidates for Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year  

goncharov: thousands of fan-fic contributors have retcon’d a 1973 Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro that never existed—via Slashdot

Tuesday 11 October 2022

barbarella psychedella (10. 211)

Directed by Roger Valim and based on the comic series (fumetti) of Jean-Claude Forest with filming beginning just after the release of producer Dino De Laurentiis’ adaptation of Diabolik, which features many of the same acting talents, opened in New York on this day in 1968, followed by debuts in France and Italy later in the month. After several casting revisions over first choices Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot, our titular protagonist portrayed by Jane Fonda is dispatched by the Earth’s president to intercept mad scientist Durand Durand who has created a weapon of mass destruction.  Although a highly-sexualised character, Barbarella comes from a society that has moved beyond physical contact.

Monday 27 June 2022

opticon scillometer

The first series of the science fiction genre to air on US television networks and running for nearly six years thanks to commercial sponsors and merchandising, Captain Video and His Video Rangers debuted on DuMont Television on this day in 1949. Receiving orders from the Commissioner of Public Safety, the rangers—operating from a terrestrial mountain-top base and defended peace and order on Earth as well as distant human colonies around other stars. The move off-world was prompted by learning that ABC was producing a series based on Buck Rogers, little did the television executives know that that show would be short-lived. Despite its popularity, originally airing Monday through Saturday, it was beset with budget and continuity problems for its entire run, often filling time on this rather fraught shooting schedule, the Video Ranger Communications Officer would show clips of cowboy movies from the Ancient West as training material, “undercover agents,” with little other explanation for padding the episodes. The entire network folded shortly after the series finished, Dumont regarded as the forgotten channel, most of its catalogue lost though the rare recording has been preserved.

Sunday 17 April 2022


trebizond: explore this detailed map of Eurasia in the year 1444—via the always interesting Nag on the Lake  

gotham nocture: a Batman gothic opera  in pre-production

arrowdreams: an anthology of Canadian speculative histories—via Strange Company  

passion project: former store worker curating every last Gap in-store playlist  

out of black ponds, water lilies: an Easter Sunday poem from Better Living through Beowulf  

crisis on infinite earths: Marvel’s inspired splintered dimensions and alternate timelines  

neoliberal pieties: the organised religion of social media is vulnerable to same corruptions and is no substitute for a public good  

latent diffusion: an AI generates maps (plus other artifice) from a text-prompt, via Maps Mania

Friday 14 January 2022

like dear old alfred always said: eat a dinner, mattress wayne

Courtesy of Super Punch, we discover what a neural network will generate after being primed with a thousand pages of captions and quote bubbles from old Batman comics. More at the link above, including panels illustrating the text.  Joker is a clown but insane.  Two-Face is a man but attorney. 

Sunday 12 December 2021

card catalogue

 Via Memo of the Air—much more to explore there—we quite enjoyed this extensive tread celebrating lauded and versatile actor Katherine Matilda Swinton starring in the role as various modernist libraries (see also), such as the Texas Southern University’s Library Learning Centre, the Hyattsville Library in Prince George’s County, Maryland or this wee, little free library. Keep scrolling for more plus replies from institutions around the world.

Sunday 5 December 2021

hawkmen diiive!

With a spectacular soundtrack by Queen and with a cast that includes Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin, a Robin Hood like character who rules the woodland region called Arboria and subjects our titular hero to the “wood beast” ritual that’s a lot like the pain box in Dune, Brian Blessed as the above Prince Vultan of Sky City, Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov, Mariangela Melato as General Kala, Max von Sydow as (problematically) the ruler of planet Mongo, Ming the Mercliless, the cinematic adaptation of the King Features Syndicate comic-strip, Flash Gordon (previously), premiered on this day in 1980 in US markets (a week later in the UK). The Earth beset with natural disasters, Gordon—a star quarterback for the football team the New York Jets is sidelined during a short airplane journey where he and travel agent Dale Arden encounter a scientist (Zarkov) who believes that the climatic catastrophes are being caused by a malevolent and extraterrestrial source and lures Arden and Gordon to help him on a mission to determine the source, ultimately confirming Emperor Ming’s involvement. The trio are soon captured and Ming orders Arden prepared for his harem, Zarkov’s useful knowledge extracted and reprogrammed and Gordon executed.

Saturday 23 October 2021


floh u. trรถdel: couple’s costume ideas—via the ever excellence Everlasting Blรถrt 

boutonniere: Harriet Parry’s flower arrangements reproduce iconic fine art and classic tarot card designs—via ibฤซdem

microface: a quick quiz to identify whether the subject is a font or a Marvel character (see previously)—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

์˜ค์ง•์–ด ๊ฒŒ์ž„: Squid Games Funko-Pop characters—see also 

pyrrhic victory: the rules of play for a variant called Atomic Chess allows a pawn crossing the breadth of the game board promotion to a scale that would instantaneously annihilate all pieces—of both sides

rollercoaster tycoon: Saudi Arabia transforms a decommissioned drilling platform into an extreme amusement park  

hell no: a sensible horror film

Thursday 12 August 2021


Presently an imprint of HarperCollins publishing, Avon paperback and comics was established in 1941 and entered the market as a rival to Pocket Books, copying their successful repertoire and format and though with a reputation for harlequin and romance fiction did take a decidedly demonic turn in the mid-1960s following and informing the popular surge of interest in Satanism coinciding with the founding of Anton LeVey’s church and Rosemary’s Baby, even publishing the gospel of the former in 1969.

Wednesday 11 August 2021


united states of wildfire: as the climate emergency escalates, more North American residents are moving into the path of destruction unwittingly 

fitting in: Ze Frank (previously) reveals that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us are all trying, coping  

d’oyly carte: an islet in the Thames with a derelict mansion built for an opera impresario will be restored to its former glory—via Things Magazine 

caped crusaders: Batman’s sidekick Robin finally comes out 

constrained systems: a tool-kit of alternative image editing effects—via Waxy  

matchi bล:a mesmerising stop-motion study of a magic match stick from Tomohiro Okazaki—via ibฤซdem

 bubblegum pop: the Osmonds 1968 song “Groove with what You Got”  

ฮฑฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฌฮปฯ…ฯˆฮท: Greek capital, archipelago beset by flames

Sunday 8 August 2021

mst3k s10e13

Airing first on this day in 1999, lampooning the 1968 cinematic adaptation of the long-running Italian comic Diabolik, this episode marked the series finale marked the end of a decade-long experiment subjecting the crew of the Satellite of Love to bad movies. The super villain of the film wreaks havoc along with his girlfriend Eva and sidekick Ginko across Europe for his own amusement and financial gain but also fights wrong-doing with wrong-doing, sadistically punishing criminal activity not aligned with his own. Generally panned outside of Italy as the creators assume familiarity with the characters, the direction of Mario Bava with score by Ennio Morricone later was recognised for its cinematography and became regarded as a cult classic, re-evaluated after the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, a year prior scenes featuring in the Beastie Boys music video for Body Movin’.
Over the course of the episode, the satellite is inadvertently deorbited and returned to Earth with the mad scientist and her henchmen in the lair Castle Forrester liquidating assets and lining up new employment.  There is a touching final farewell.  The show was happily rebooted in 2017 though never fully out of production in the interim.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

turner d. century

A minor super-villain (see also here and here) that first appeared as Spider Woman’s nemesis in a December 1980 issue of the comic, the alter-ego of Clifford F. Michaels’ formative backstory has the character adopted by a wealthy business tycoon for whom his biological father was chauffeur and valet, the benefactor responsible for rebuilding much of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake but was displeased with the moral turpitude and vice that emerged from the rubble.

The magnate attempted to launch a campaign to restore manners and mores to what they had been at the fin de siรจcle but failed and so sheltered himself and surrogate son from the degeneracy and idealise the past with the dress and affectations of a gentleman in 1900. Raging against progress and change with toxic nostalgia, Century tried depopulating the city in various ways in order to start fresh with society (possibly with wax figures as substitutes for actual residents) including a hypersonic weapon, flame-throwing umbrella and magic time horn that kills people under sixty-five (like high-pitched nuisance feedback that only young people can hear). Century’s plans were thwarted and the character killed off finally in 1986, along with a slew of other second tier criminals that needed to be culled from the Marvel paracosm, by vigilante assassin Scourge of the Underworld.

Monday 10 May 2021

the incredible hulk

First appearing in the first issue of the comic published on this day in 1962, the super hero’s co-creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby lists their influences for the character including Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for their dissociative alter-egos, Frankenstein’s monster and the Golem of Jewish mythology. An accidental exposure to gamma radiation received whilst trying to save a colleague from an experimental munitions blast causes his transformation, often uncontrolled and triggered by emotional distress with these unplanned destructive rampages disrupting civilian life. Initially cancelled after just six instalments in March 1963, Dr Bruce Banner / the Hulk made an immediate cameo appearance in an issue of the Fantastic Four and went on to become a founding member of the Avengers team.

Sunday 1 November 2020

indigenous voices

We have the chance to sample more of the work of illustrator Jeffrey Veregge (previously) with his cover art featured in a Marvel franchise of Native American and aboriginal super heroes featuring the storytelling and graphic design talents of writers and artist who share the same cultural background and heritage. More to explore at the link above and the series preview below.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

a chicken in every pot

In these days when the overwhelming majority of Americans are either experiencing grave job insecurity with housing and healthcare all bundled together or a hero and a hostage to a broken, exploitative medical delivery system that’s been pared back to maximise profits by eliminating any sort of buffer, Jamie Zawinski—proprietor of San Francisco’s legendary DNA Lounge, a dance hall and live music venue—shares a long dormant memory of a comic panel from 1990 called Give Me Liberty with the president doling out a Christmas turkey for all.
The recollection doubtless jarred awake by the insistence of Trump that his signature block and auto-pen appear on the physical stimulus cheques mailed out to the underbanked (a problem exacerbated by first restricting the fiduciary role of the postal service’s geographical spread and now threatening the institution with insolvency to further isolate and disenfranchise) that will cause a delay in receipt of this much needed, be it insufficient relief—twice the amount that the Obama administration distributed but to remedy a crisis untold magnitudes greater than the recession precipitated by the sub-prime mortgage bubble. It’s a tragically apt vignette of self-promotion and deflection as surrogates for leadership and cohesion. …And two cars in every garage.

Monday 2 March 2020

bottle episode

Via friend of the blog, Everlasting Blรถrt, we are introduced to a range of fantasy maps in the form of comics cartography in a series of cityscapes, headquarters and hideouts that includes one of the more intriguingly maniacal super villains in Brainiac, Superman’s arch nemesis. An extraterrestrial cyborg (a technopathic probe), Brainiac is responsible for the destruction of Krypton but also saved its capital city by miniaturising the buildings and inhabitants (blissfully unawares) as part of scheme to amass a collection of metropolises and repopulate his home world with subjects to rule over.

Friday 11 October 2019

anatomy of a typeface

Via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals we learn from graphic artist Nate Piekos’ Better Letterer corner (see also) that traditionally in comic book captioning the “I” with crossbars is used exclusively for the personal pronoun whereas the single stroke “I” is used in all other contexts.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

your friendly neighbourhood draughtsman

Everlasting Blรถrt introduces us to the amazing artwork of illustrator and author Jeffrey Veregge whose portfolio includes figures from popular culture adorned with kinetic references to Native American, specifically of the Pacific Northwest tradition of his ancestral Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, motifs.  I really like his use of negative space. Check out more of Veregge’s works at the links up top.

Thursday 26 May 2016

age of aquarius

Appearing in only a handful of editions of comics since the early 1970s, Wundarr the Aquarian was commissioned as sort of a New Age, enlightened super hero—but has been largely forgotten and disdained, like all those other characters with questionable or dubious super powers. His story parallels that of Super Man (or Moses) with his distraught parents launching him into space for a life among mortal Earthlings.
Wundarr’s father’s apocalyptic prophesies did not come to pass, however, and the home world was not engulfed by its dying sun—leaving the family, to include their estranged son to be menaced by zealots who weren’t happy that one of theirs had left the flock. Having grown into adulthood in isolation (his escape pod crashing into the Everglades in 1951 but with sufficient life-support systems to sustain him until 1973), Wundarr emerged rather simple but a later communion with the Cosmic Cube—a Sword in the Stone type of talisman of such unbelievable power that no one could tolerate a full dose of its strength, save one with Wundarr’s extraordinary energy-damping abilities—gave him inarticulate insight of the nature of the Universe and instilled within him a sense of purpose. Afterward, Wundarr became the charismatic leader of a pacifist cult, trying to impart and give form to what he experienced when coming in contact with the Cosmic Cube—and welcome the coming of the Celestial Messiah. Too bad that Wundarr has been neglected—I think he’d make a good candidate for the next movie franchise once ideas for the current iteration are exhausted.

Thursday 23 July 2015

mensch und รผbermensch

I’d guess I’d need to categorise this as one of those things the more one thinks about it, the more manifest it becomes, and I had not given much thought to the thesis beforehand that comics as more than caricature or a stock-epithet is an act of cultural reclamation.

The rise of the genre parallels social and political movements that co-opted and perverted mythological themes, pantheons and notions of bodily perfection not in the classical, athletic and temperate sense but in terms of eugenics and dehumanisation. The bombastic fantasy of Richard Wagner and the Nietzschean รœbermensch had been misappropriated and the medium of comics, drawing on real and imagined legendary sources and superhero avatars, is the taking back of such shared heritage—story-telling separated from propaganda. In the beginning, however, these characters sometimes volunteered for deployment—like in the 1940 first issue of Captain America, where the hero is portrayed as socking Adolf Hitler—sometime before the US had actually entered into the war and bucking popular sentiment—in protest to the country’s isolationist policies. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels even went so far as to ban the distribution of Superman comics under the Third Reich over intentional or perceived Jewish roots in Kal-El (close to the Hebrew phrase for “voice of God,” whom was saved from a dying planet in a space capsule but unlike Moses being found among the reeds), but the Third Reich was also very efficient on accentuating and bestowing otherness on people with traits that they would not readily self-identify with. The universes that comics contain is certainly a reaffirmation of narrative, allegory and inclusion and our alter-egos have a mythos that’s forward-going as well.