Sunday 7 April 2024

7x7 (11. 474)

my dad is dracula (and a very good dog): the funny webcomic by Jason Poland—via Miss Cellania  

good night george: a last nostalgic look the Glasgow hotel featured in Trainspotting, Taggart and with other cameos in television and film—via Nag on the Lake  

volcanic vortex rings: Mount Etna is sending out smoke signals, a phenomenon never before documented on film  

penny hike: instructions to create a lodestone for mindful, distraction-free wandering, using AI, to return you to where you started—via Web Curios—it has a certain resonance but I’ll give you a magic pebble to keep in your pocket so you don’t get too lost 

spyware: the secret weapons of Cold War espionage  

carmel-by-the-sea: a historic hotel known as the birthplace of the Apple Macintosh restored  

bug bytes: US government created comic books to fight disinformation and increase media literacy fall rather flat of their goals appealing to old tropes—via Hyperallergic

Sunday 24 March 2024

11x11 (11. 448)

inauspicious beginnings: a rift opens up in a group of official astrologers employed by the Sri Lankan government to pick ideal dates for new years rituals  

disco arabesquo: record label Habibi Funk aims to introduce Middle Eastern vintage music to wider audiences 

typecraft: a transformative font foundry in India 

the allegory of the cave: on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s premiere, we may be still trapped in the Matrix 

banjaxed and bockety: two curious Irish terms 

der buch der hasengeschichten: Tom Seidmann-Freud’s 1924 collection of hare fables 

working for tips: bizarrely robot baristas will accept gratuities, in a service sector landscape already fraught with insecurity and precarity—via tmn  

the juice is on the loose: a sequel thirty-six years in the making, reuniting the original cast—via Miss Cellania  

international system of typographic picture education: an archive of the pictograms of Gerd Arntz—see previously  

pocket full of kryptonite: the preponderance of alternative rock songs about Superman in the 1990s, 2000s 

prosopometamorphopsia: a new study on generalised social anxiety disorder tries to see from the perspective of those with a rare condition that causes faces to appear distorted, demonic—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Tuesday 12 March 2024

8x8 (11. 416)

studio nue: the meticulous and immersive sci-fi illustrations of Naoyuki Kato  

landsat lens: virtual rewinding maps created with historic satellite imagery

drawing for nothing: a growing e-book of storyboards and character studies from unfinished, shelved animation projects—via Waxy 

hag horror: Poseidon’s Underworld explores the genre with 1971’s Blood and Lace 

แน—s (t → ♾️) = 0: researchers find algorithms that only quantum computers can solve—via Damn Interesting—see previously  

all these worlds are yours, except europa: NASA reveals the plaque its probe will carry to Jupiter’s icy moon later this year  

rednaxela: unusual toponyms, including the named terrace in Hong Kong believed to be Alexander transcribed right-to-left, as was the practise in the past  

fantomah: outsider comic book artist Fletcher Hanks

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, domino theory (1947) plus more words with no English equivalent

two years ago: more links to enjoy,  World Day Against Cyber Censorship plus Mamma Mia (1975)

three years ago: the cosmography of William Fairfield Warren (1915), artist Caterina van Hemessen, St Maximilian of Tebessa, occultist Austin Osman Spare, listening to maps, more isogloss maps plus a celebration of veteran memes

four years ago: St Serafina plus COVID travel bans take effect

five years ago: resurrection plants

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

8x8

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

7x7

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

bodice-ripping

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

8x8

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.