Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Rising

Today marks the first day of the Christian season of Advent. And now that Thanksgiving is over, the only remaining legitmate holidays in 2009 are Christmas and New Years. So you know what, America? You can shove your 'Happy Holidays' and your 'Seasons Greetings'. I have neither time or patience to shoehorn in any P.C. nonsense in my daily life. So if you say 'Happy Holidays' within a week of Christmas, I'll just nod in acknowledgement that I heard what you said and then take my leave. I don't want to dampen your 'holiday spirits', but if I happen to do just that, I'm not going to apologise.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A New Golden Age (VI)

Whoa, a double-header! I set a new record for myself that will be nigh-unbreakable! Two blog posts in one day, er, night (though it's more of a book review, as you'll find out)!

Continuing with the comic BOOK theme from the last post, this post is about a new compilation of children's comics during the golden age of comics (1939-1960) titled Toon Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, edited and selected by one of the modern cartooning greats, Art Spiegelman and his wife Francoise Mouly. (Note: I don't like Spiegelman and I don't care for most of his work, but just because I DON'T think he is great, does not mean that he is NOT. I hope things are clearer now.)

Anyway, this book was published in September and contains DOZENS of stories ranging from one-page gags to 20 page tales, and all are quite good. Several of the best craftsman of the golden age are represented in this tome--Sheldon Mayer, Walt Kelly, John Stanley, Carl Barks among others well-known and not-so-well-known.

The primary criterion for the selections (per the book's forward) were that each story were kid-friendly/appropriate. Having bought and just finished reading this book, I concur. It even contains short bios of each writer and artist, and is divided into five sections:
'Hey Kids!' (stories starring mischevious children); 'Funny Animals' (my favourite section, featuring Donald Duck, Screwball Squirrel, Pogo Possum and Albert Aligator, and others); 'Fantasyland' and 'Story Time' (involving new twists with familiar fairy tale characters and original, twisted tales involving oddballs like 'The Pied Prince of Pretzelburg'); and 'Wierd and Wacky', which in my opinion has very interesting though perhaps stories that are a little too bizarre for the littler young readers.

All in all, I believe this book was inspired in large part by the spate of golden-age comic strip reprint collections hitting the literary marketplace in recent years. And finally, I have to say that all prejudices aside, this is a most worthy book that could belong in pretty much anyone's library.

A New Golden Age (V)

Don't worry, I'll keep this feature going even though I'm the least prolific blogger in all of Western Civilisation. So here goes.

Due to specific request, and because it IS appropriate, I'm going to include certain select comic book series in the ANGA blog posts. First up is Tintin, the boy reporter and his appropriately-nomikered dog, Snowy. I first stumbled upon Tintin books in the local library in 1995 and became hooked. For me the summer of '95 was the summer of Tintin reading. (And POGs, but that's a different story...)

Tintin was created in serialised form by the Belgian cartoonist, Georges Remy--more commonly known by his nom de plume "Herge". (Pronounced 'Air-zhay', this word signifies his two initials, R and G, as they are pronounced in French.) Herge's first Tintin adventure, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets was published in 1929.

Over the next few decades, Herge would take readers around the world as they followed Tintin and Snowy (and later other regularly recurring supporting characters such as my personal favourites Captain Haddock and the bumbling look-a-like detectives--Thomson and Thompson) on several mysteries and through several perils. Locales included Scotland, Tibet, Egypt, beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, and even on the moon!

The later adventures appeared further and further apart from each other; for instance the last three adventures were published in 1963, 1968 and 1976 respectively. In 1983, Herge passed away, leaving behind a solid position as one the premier European comic book writer/artists, and a superb collection of 23 books. The books themselves are still in print and are easily found in large bookstores and online.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wir feiert der Ende der berliner Mauer

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was yet another milestone in the breakdown of the Soviet Bloc in the years 1989-1991, but one of the most dramatic. The destruction of this wall symbolised what would soon become the latest incarnation of Germany--a single democratic nation instead of a European version of the Korean peninsula.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan admonished Soviet Premier Mikail Gorbachev to 'Tear down this wall'. And on 9th November 1989, the German people tore it down. I remember watching this event on the evening news while playing with my Ninja Turtles toys. (I was 7 then, so it was okay.) Within a year, Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and German Demokratic Republic (East Germany) united, ending 45 years of separation between two disparate economic regimes. So Germany left the 20th century the way it had entered--as one nation.

Yes, German Heritage Month has been over for nine days now, but this blog's author is compelled to applaud the Fatherland one last time as this decade limps to a close.

Einigheit und Recht und Freiheit (Unity and Justice and Freedom)