August 25, 2011

The Shadow and The Spider To Prowl Comic Books Shelves

Dynamite Entertainment announced last week that they will soon be adding two classic pulp magazine heroes to the stable of comic books that they are publishing. The Shadow and The Spider both got their start in the action-filled pulp magazines of the 1930’s and 1940’s. The Spider is basically a copy of The Shadow - both are a masked avenger in black fedora and cape, distributing justice through the business end of two .45 automatics - but there are enough differences to make them unique.

While I typically don’t pay much attention to what Dynamite publishes (the majority of their books showcase licensed TV and movie properties: Zena, Buck Rogers, The Green Hornet, Zorro, and the Terminator to name a few - not my cup of tea), I can’t pass up an opportunity to see how some modern writers and artists interpret these great characters for another era.

I love the old pulp magazines. I’ve been religiously reading The Shadow ever since I learned about the classic reprints that are out there. The reprints are great books. A lot of fun and an interesting glimpse into pre-World War II America. I’ve read a few other pulp characters as well - Doc Savage and The Whisperer - but keep coming back to The Shadow. He’s my favorite.

Translating pulp heroes into comics doesn’t always work out too well. I know, I've picked up plenty of comic book incarnations starring these masked adventures from the 1930's before Superman and Batman burst onto the scene.

Part of the appeal of the pulp characters, I believe, comes from the verbosity and creative use of language the writers of that time used to spin their tales. It’s not just the character of The Shadow and his adventures that tickle my need for adventure, it’s how Walter Gibson tells the story that keeps me coming back for more. You kinda lose that when you have pictures and words.

None the less, I want to check these comic book incarnations out. I know that the comic book versions rarely capture the excitement or fun of the original pulp. But that won't stop me. Even if I am biased to the original material, I’m always interested in seeing someone else interpretation of the characters I follow.

August 18, 2011

Dress Code Observations

My son attends a public middle school. While there is no school uniform, there is a dress code that the administration tries to enforce.

Over the summer a modification to the dress code was approved for the school district. The shoulders must be covered. So no more tank tops or halter tops in in the classroom.

To help communicate this change and remind students and parents of the dress code in general, my son's middle school sent a little illustration along with the weekly school email newsletter (school starts next Wednesday).

This is the graphic that was sent.

My first reaction was, "Wow. There are a lot of little rules and arrows going on here. Is the dress code that complicated?"

Then I took a closer look. It was then that I realized that out of all the rules/arrows on display, only one of them was pointing at the boy.

By having the girl on the far left and the rules on the far right with the boy in the middle, the picture looks like two kids with all sorts of arrows shooting all over the place. Really most of the rules apply only to girls. Rules about bare midriffs and slits in skirts.What I get out of this graphic is that my son needs to make sure to pull his pants up over his ass.

What I found surprisingly absent was any comment about logos/graphics/messages on shirts.

I understand that in a room full of bursting hormones a girl in a short skirt or a tight blouse can be a distraction, but short of sitting in a classroom naked the only way I can imagine a boy's clothing contributing to disrupting school day operations would because of something printed on that clothing.

In any case, it looks like the basic nature of  men's fashion saves us once again. A man's wardrobe basically consists of shoes, pants, and shirt. Maybe a tie and coat once an while, but we can all get along nicely with just something on our top, something covering our bottom, and something on our feet. Women, on the other hand, have a multitude of different clothing options - shirts, blouses, pants, skirts, dresses - which are constantly reinterpreted and refashioned in countless different ways.

A man's limited wardrobe options already saves us time and money. It also save us in the school dress code department.